A Shadow with Walls
I had a title too good to waste, where by length I wound up having to push it off. Yet I was tempted to stick with it, because there is a semblance of aptness. Also I’ve yet to decided between A Clockwork Sun, or A Clockwork Sky. Of which we have already passed the impetus, so there should be no spoiler in sharing my conundrum.
Old cries of a clockwork universe are the actual cause. As I discussed before, the inspiration of the scene in last weeks chapter has hung with me. Secondarily of course, a sun might said to be orange at times, not that I’m overly a fan of a movie with such a truly evil protagonist, without much of any good reason. Still the impetus of forced adaptation to social pressure carries through a bit.
I have for quite a while let my world guide me where it wants to go. Sometimes with some struggle. I did not intend to introduce Laset to the arc, and yet she woke, in line with all that has happened. Mayari was always meant to appear eventually, but it had long felt like she would emerge if ever in a second arc, which perhaps was short sighted in light of some intentions. It bothers me that these characters have emerged so much out of left field, because they were largely always there. As I return to edit the early books I think there need to be more hints along the way.
This is one of the reasons I have decided to finish the entire series arc before heavily focusing on ebook publishing the earlier series. Because I needed to establish what, when, and how aspects of the world would reveal themselves, to go back and establish things sooner in some subtle ways.
Other characters have emerged far more surprisingly. Dahlia, Sund, Mara, Orwell, Ambrush. These are characters that emerged as figuratively as literally from the sea of forces at work. At first simply to fill practical roles, but what started in Mordove trickles into everything. Amalia the shadow. A seer too close to those to be seen. Gods waking, which trickles back to Corinthia, and the formation of the staff, back to Eastroad and the shard born of warning forces.
There is ever so slightly I admit an aspect of making things up as I go, but none of it comes from a vacuum, or perhaps that is exactly what it comes from. These things emerge, to get in line with the implications there from the start. The escalation following an implication that emerged earlier. The powers will rise, and I think I was woefully naive that these powers would rise as close to the end as I first imagined.
Dahlia… As a character she is peculiar. There is meant to be an absolutely childlike element to her. A veritable newborn of sorts, whatever experience she brings to the table in the sense of a mortal woman, at present pregnant. Her eyes have been opened as even perhaps the main characters remain tightly shut, trying to keep it all out. Older souls, that can no longer bear to see the world, nor know the truth of it all.
I had passing thoughts of introducing Singers along the voyage. A very traditional siren like occurrence. Things took the turns they have however, and this was perhaps more apt a place to introduce such creatures. Exactly what they were was vague until we met Laset, and as scenes unfolded I saw the likely connections Kiannae draws. A tone that still sometimes emerges.
When songs touch us, it is in the dredging up of the lives we’ve lived, the things we know, or the imaginings of what we understand by empathy. I suppose I mean to evoke something of Wren’s power in this, but more subtle and leading. The Singers Song is beautiful, and alluring because it is full of frightful truth, but questions more than answers.
The thought to have Liora intercede struck me as this creature continued to press. That Katrisha was touched by these powers, that they would resound within her. There is an understanding that has not found its place to come to the for, that I really must remember to bring in where it fits.
Kiannae thankfully makes a realization that reduces the number of people in this conversation. Honestly the more people in a conversation the more exhausting it is to write, either because too many have something to say, or you worry that someone is being too quite. Ever so often you can load balance though, find someone else to make the right observation.
As I drew the world map out I did arrive at this notion indirectly. It’s too faint to see but there is a shadowy figure cast across the water within the isles across the northern wastes. I arrived both at the interpretation of a caldera mistaken for a location of Thaea, and the idea that in some world it might have been, or might yet be. I kept that in my back pocket. One of the oldest names for The Crown Isles is intended as Thaea’s Crown.
The idea of a three dimensional shadow is very hard to grasp, and maybe someday I will work on the analogy further. It didn’t quite get it to fit dialogue to describe it such in time:
Imagine a shadow on the wall, a flat projection of something three dimensional, cast in light moving in mostly one direction. Particularly as cast through a window, or over a figure before that window. That projection on the wall, that shadow has a 2 dimensional shape, representative of a 3 dimension form, that is itself perhaps a slice of a 4 dimensional object… etc.
Imagine a light now, cast in a direction more along that 4th dimension of for instance, time. Lets dial it back to our three dimensional idea. A shadow may be cast in even the most corrosive light, or the most penetrating. A light that moves in time is perhaps higher energy than one that moves just in space. Perhaps infinitely so.
If your couch ever left a shadow from sun-fading on a wall, there is the principle. Morbidly, highly energetic releases of destructive energy have left shadows of people on walls and ground.
Indeed in those images we see a very clear shadow of things that were more durable, like metal. Take this principle farther towards the point where even the head of what casts the shadow erodes. The wall where the shadow is not cast, erodes. A shadow is then shaped into a physical form. The gaps left unprotected. Extend this back to four dimensions, and imagine that the future form does not happen to match the past. Perhaps even that the land itself is shaped differently, and rises above where the shadow falls.
A hill erodes down into the shape of what was there. Towers, and domes, and constructs left as shadows in stone that eroded by corrosive energies. That’s the idea any way, in principle.
Ultimately the title is meant as a play on shadows on the wall, in the sense of Plato’s Cave, perhaps extended a bit to the realm of ideal forms. Though the ideal forms perspective may be criticized readily, I mean to imply not /ideal/ so much as true. The analogy of the cave does actually well illustrate the separation between senses and reality, between our understanding of things, and what they are.
We do not observe a three dimensional universe of physical things (visually.) We infer from two warped flattened projections of energetic forces bouncing (oft more slingshotting!) and waving through the thresholds of collections of energy we call mater. In some senses of the physical world, Plato’s Cave could even be said to get it all backwards. The world outside the cave may be less so much ideal, as bewildering. The ‘true forms’ without the stories, interpretations, and simplifications (our ideas of ourselves are mostly made of) may not at all be preferable, even if they are useful. A person, or a collection of vectors of energy in hyperspatial n-dimensional membranes.
In my first draft I moved from this scene directly into dinner, but dinner was looking to be an entire chapter, before food even gets any proper mention. It wound up not quite. I actually hate writing dinner scenes, and yet, I write them often enough. I guess I’ve only just realized I hate writing them, because there is this struggle to have the conversation, and not forget the food.
So, rather that increase my time crunch by trying to deal with an overly long chapter, I instead wrote some new scenes through the day, to fill it out, and expanded on the trip down, which gives us what follows. Also the transition of Sund off to confront Orwell.
Is it strange that I refer to most characters in the series by their first names, but most of the crew have been reduced to their last? Perhaps no more strange than the fact I refuse to spell out some implications, rather than leave characters to their delicate dodging. This is indeed a shadow cast by our world upon the writing, and aesthetics I have brought to the telling of this tale.
I had this commentary scheduled, and pulled it before bed to sleep on it. This is a fraught section because it is not written in a vacuum. If I were to be uncoy for a moment, I would point to the inspiration of some social pressures upon Orwell beyond Laset’s influence here. Its… structurally different. More an internal rationale that he might be embracing, for accepting the cost of what he has been promised. Life, eternal.
Laset on the other side takes a backwards inspiration from some problematic contrary influences. The same underlying cause to a near opposite position than either of these would represent. I risk playing with the boogymen of patriarchal fears and propaganda, in part because sometimes the gendering of terms is uncomfortably apt. I will leave it to others to think upon the possible hypocrisies of Laset.
The broader idea of feminism does not treat men as the enemy. Which is painfully magnanimous at times, given all the history, and readiness with which an entrenched power structure has, at least from a niche been ready to cast an enemy. It’s not new. Of course there very much is a niche – however small – that does treat men as the enemy, at least beyond trust. One can well disagree, but only unreasonably dismiss the cause for such.
If I were to cherrypick the most horrific examples of our world, I would start, almost unexpectedly from victim blaming, and point to the original biblical precedent, of stoning victims of war rape, for a failure to fight or scream hard enough. I would point to witch trials, in which women not ascribing to the power structures of men were put to trial by death. That was if they survived the impossible tortures they were put under, they were found guilty. I’m sure these were entirely, subserviently, obeisant women who never once displeased a man. Not the slightest infraction of their social chains upon which their crimes were trumped up.
These particular cases, do not exist in the world of Thaea (to any significant cultural degree,) and if female infanticide was a significant problem there (because patriarchs must have sons…) let me assure you, Laset would be indeed even more militant.
Women were pushed aside, and enslaved, not killed. It was considered too much a waste. The Age of Kings was oft the darkest reflection of the Sun Civilization. All the pettiness turned to wars, all the games of the underbelly of that society, however horrible, elegant and gentle, become horrors of monstrous violence. Perhaps, strike that, reverse it. If you follow.
Laset bore witness to the fall of the Shamanistic Age, and the rise of kings. She saw powerful, proud shamans who had been put in chains, and made cattle for men to breed, and mock. It wasn’t always epidemic, but it was, she saw it.
Her power in that time was limited compared to how we see her now. About as strong, and vulnerable as Taloe. She couldn’t kill them all, and wasn’t sure it would be right even so. I think that bares mentioning, given the first act attributed to her ascended self, as she eludes to here, was to slay an entire Osyraen army, that had invaded, and killed many of her people. It bares mentioning that no modern history book would put the death of the people of Tethes on her, or Osyrae. That in vengeance, and fear, after she left, the Osyraen’s wiped her people out. Abandoned them for their rejection. A stain of potential, that others would easily fall into. In histories that are presently written.
I suppose that is the most horrific implication of the nature of the forces implied. There is a terrible, singularity like gravity, to the worst things in history. A tension that builds to an end for many causes. Tethes was destroyed because they were a danger to Osyraen power. Tethes was destroyed, because of a dark comedy of errors, that led to a vengeance not owed. The death of Tethes was a stain on the world. The fickle hand of fate, its blessings, and curses. A part of the story that brought an age, to being what it was. The requirement, Laset lives, Tethes dies… or perhaps neither even come to be, but a story is told. The memory lives, even if the events do not. Myths, that emerge not from nothing, but from a lost history. Though Laset, if she must emerge from the forest, of nowhere, would come to be.
So Laset tried to subvert them instead. She did this for centuries, or even eons of the loop, and gave up. Of course history doesn’t remember it quite that way. She was simplified, cast as merely lustful, sometimes maligned as a temptress who slew her lovers. The counter narrative of those, who had venerated her, canceled out. She became an impolite topic, and if one is talking of impolite things… only the lasciviousness, is remembered in the end, and a few of the frightful warnings. The ghost stories. To frighten men, on their guard, that all women are out to get them.
These themes come far too naturally. The stories of the powers at work in societies, struggles for power, and place. It seep out into the worlds I write. Yet imagine the consequences, and regrets, of such a conflicted set of characters, placed in the position implied, to hold the storm. To be the regrets, and second chances, self doubts, and horrors of the creator of a world, that made them.
Laset – simply perhaps by age – comes from a perspective high enough that she sees the long view. She’s seen the worst, and best the world has yet been. A mortal might easily forget, and even normalize what has been done through history. That it is just how the world worked back then. They were animals, less evolved, and cast such aspersions on any who have even slightly evolved down some other path of appearance. I say rationalize in the sense of dismiss, that the past is past. That it does not, or should not, color the present perspective.
The horrifying thing is, that some the monsters are real. Their power on the whole through history has ebbed, and flowed, and mostly been confined to the shadows, even if those shadows are just ever so slightly to the edge of view, where one chooses not to look. Most often, they are constrained in their delusions, but once in a while they ascend. We tend not to forget, until we do.
The power of secondary, and other worlds, is reframing the questions in less familiar surroundings. When I say I do not write these things in a vacuum, I mean that I take an impetus, or influence, and unroll it back to a a part of its cause. Then roll it forward to parallel consequences. I have a tendency to draw antagonists from the same cloth as protagonists. The dividing line between hero and villain sometimes fraught. The truly evil find their place, but when right has left us, it does become harder to tell the angry, from the mad, and the vengeful, from the hateful. If the vassals of conquers will fight to the death for the rights of conquest, at what point must they die for a better world to begin.
Where Laset takes her argument plainly hyperbolic, but she is more interested in impact, than accuracy in the analogy she draws. In her words, she will take fear, over a lack of respect. If she would be portrayed as a monster for her positions, she will show monsters in in her opposition.
Let me explain, more in personal context than in the context of the world, where I come from in writing this antagonistic prospective. Feel free to skim ahead.
For a long time (ten years or more?) I thought there were more women in the world than men. I got this miss impression because there are more women in the U.S., and from what I can tell the majority of countries.
When I discovered however more males are born than females, I was… perplexed. Looking deeper into it, it’s a mystery. There are theories, some of which are sound. The Fisher Principle, would imply there should be as many girls born as boys. There isn’t. There is a roughly 5% discrepancy in favor of males, excluding countries where crimes against humanity may well explain a reported rate as high as 8%. There are horrific implications, with equally ugly words. I digress, because it’s beside the point.
More boys are born than girls, at a significant percentage, and only so much variance, however great many it represents. This is actually contrary to the expected evolutionary advantage in theory for humanity. Like I said, there are some sound theories as to why this deviation exists.
The crux of most of them, is male life expectancy is poorer. Higher mortality as infants, higher mortality as foolish kids for the risks they take. Higher mortality fighting out of rivalry, or just desperation, wars. Then shorter life expectancy at the end, because, perhaps sort of across the board, and this is me stating what seems obvious; Turns out elevated testosterone levels are bad for your health, even if they are natural. So a certain toxicity, may be literal as much as figurative. (See symptoms of steroid abuse, compare as you will.)
So, you have to have slightly higher male than female to reach the required reproductive parity later. Since the male chromosome is only passed farther to son, there would also be a slight pressure on gambling for more sons in the propagation of the the only thing that makes him male. Genetic males, speaking well beyond humanity in evolution, are a mutation. On a level, Laset has gained the perspective to see this. So she could actually literally see males as a cancer, as a corruption of the structures of life. Though this perspective is so far up in the frightening levels of her awareness, its far beyond humans, to whatever common ancestor of mammals that produced genetic males.
The selfishness inherent in the chromosome itself. It wound not interchange genetic material with the X, and became like a hall of mirrors staring inward. That is only constrained in opting to make more of itself, in that it doesn’t benefit. To be fair, the same is true of species.
I’m realizing some things as I’m writing this. It’s an interesting vaguely intended but never fully processed layer to the implications. It does bare saying, that a species with more females than males, would have a significant reproductive advantage. If females held the selective gene, I assure you, there would be a great many more of them. The direct advantage of the chromosome in reproducing would certainly give to the more additional chances to replicate.
However hyperbolic, as implied, to liken this to cancer… one can see the choking, blood-supply dominating, success-factors that might explain how societies sometimes function the ways they do. The rise and fall of social collapses driven most often by conflicts, driven by the forces sees seen. Even how such dubious behaviors can still appeal to the other side of the equation, since a son will still have half his mothers genes. Evolution rewards success, however brutal that path is. This includes the ones who come home from war, or those that take a new one.
I wonder how obvious Laset’s plans are at this point, given what we know. I could drop a hint that if we know the success factors of a patriarchal strangle hold, the awkward counter balance of mitigating male aggression against biologic predisposition to produce a high competition environment (excess males.) If Laset seeks Matriarchy, and clearly detests excessive fighting to get it, what does she intend? How does it all fit. What do her Singers exist to do?
I close the section by taking the old saying of wheat and chaff, and adapting the sense of domestication to it. The crops were all weeds, until they were tamed. Wild things, made more desirable by choosing which will breed. We’ve heard this view before. I want Laset to at once be more sympathetic, and personable, and more frightfully, but gently inhuman. Truly superior in her own eyes. The arbiter, and judge.
This last section had once been a paragraph, mostly about Kiannae’s sense of what they stood amidst.
At first I had thought to simply reseat for dinner on the floor where the orrery hangs, but didn’t like it. So, I found another structure, and the semblance that emerged. It’s fun sometimes how one change for aesthetic reasons first, and structural reasons second, can lead one into more apt overall choices.
The rest of the conversation here is – I hesitate to say filler – but personable interaction between the prisoners. Recriminations, and examinations, brief, but it gives me a space to go out on, and slowly work up to Kiannae seeing something in the arrangement. She had partly caught it earlier as they argued. It followed through well enough.
By the by, this particularly longwinded day, when I check my converter, is a Thaeasday. Just another Thaeasday. A lovely coincidence, if they exist.