Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Atemporality in Fiction

Okay the more I think about the more the fan wank of The Dresden Files' Mab being an aspect of an atemporal being split between 9 different characters ...that we know of the more I like it.

But I will also fully admit it's my fan wank. I don't expect Jim Butcher to go in that direction.

The reason why the idea fascinates me is because I feel it's rare for media to deal with the concept of atemporality. Narrative is based on causality, and to divorce narrative from causality would be HARD.

Think about it. The most common attempts are time travel stories, but even in those the protagonists always seem to move through a linear progression of events. They might be in the same place more than once but they seldom experience the exact same moment more than once.

Think about it due to the mutability of the future and their own actions these moments are never portrayed as the exact same moment playing out the exact same way.

But more than that time is more than the past it's also the future. An atemporal character would need to be able to reconcile their past and present selves with all potential future versions of themselves some of whom could be wildly different. And what if the character was absolutely atemporal, literally being all they was, are and potentially will be simultaneously.  What would that look like?

I like to think it would look like the Trinity (that's it's as close as it ever made sense to me anyway) . A being with multiple version of itself all existing at the same time. The reason why Jim Butcher's Winter Queens stuck out to me for it is because it is cannon that they are The Moirai, Mab (two of the hot damn), Aurora, Titania, Hecate, the Norns, and probably those witches that made Macbeth go nuts.

And while classical mythology is as hokey a religion as you'll find they always made more sense to me as a logical trinity than the christian version.  What the hell is a holy ghost?

I can understand the concepts of past,  present and future.

Though I can't understand how those three would manage to have a conversation with each other. The only way I can think to portray a being who can experience exact moments of their lives more than once is to portray them or it or whatever as multiple characters. Even then how do you portray the uncertainty of the future? By portraying multiple potential future versions of the same character, maybe.

But delving deeper even that creates a problem. Present me is not the same man as past me and I certainly hope I will have evolved a bit in the future. How would one's present self affect and change their interactions with the future versions. How would it work in reverse. How would the interactions future incarnations be able to shape and influence past and present versions.

In a weird way it just makes sense to me that having 9 versions of one character  running around in different bodies would be the most practical way of doing it if someone managed it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Atemporal Women Make My Brain Hurt (Dresden File Spoilers...this will make no sense unless you read the books)

So after watching Unlimited Blade Works and beating Bioshock Infinite my brain won't shut up about atemporality, the condition of being unfixed in time. It being Christmas my head went to the great maker of being unbound by time and space.

But I'm not here to talk God.

I am a Dresden Files fanboy. And the most powerful characters in that series tend to be part of thier own Trinities.  Up until now those Trinities have been mostly played as separate characters but Cold Days and Skin Game hint they might not fully be.

It's something the series always says but then more or less ignores for the sake of simplicity. Mab, Maeve, and Mother Winter are the same person. To a point anyway. The series also notes the role of mantles and that in the case of those three the mantle of Winter Lady, Winter Queen, and Winter Mother are more important than any of them as individuals. That the mantle defines them more than anything else.

And the series thoughts a huge giant curve ball at that by turning Harry's apprentice Molly Carpenter into the new Winter Lady.

After considering that Robert and Rosalind Lutece are literally the same person in different bodies.
wibbly wobbly timeywhimey, I started thinking about the Winter Trinity.

Aside: Robert and Rosalind are quantum twins, Rosalind a mad scientist decided her ideal partner would herself so she hijacked an alternate dimension's male version of herself, but the game says that the mind has trouble dealing with crossing dimensions and reconciling original memories with older ones. So Robert would have the same memories, experiences and by extension eventually to a point at least the same identity as his quantum twin Rosalind. Which is why they say it would be weirder if they didn't finish each other's sentences later in the game. It's a way of quickly acknowledging they are indeed literally the same person without dwelling on it. 

The books have said that Maeve would have eventually become a literal copy of Mab, who would have become a literal copy of Mother Winter. And Molly is already starting to become a literal copy of Maeve in appearance at least.

I contend that all four of them are the same person unstuck in time.

Furthermore the books have said that Maeve is Mab's literal daughter. At some point she gave birth to herself. But she had another. Sarrissa who would go on to become the Summer Lady. and if what I just said holds true for both Summer and Winter that whole group of characters would also be different incarnations of the same person, including Lilly and Aurora.

But the most striking case of it is Molly and Maeve. Maeve the first second aspect of winter we meet even before Molly gets big into the story but looking back the two are eerily similar. Maeve displays most of Molly's worst tendencies but what really makes me think on the issue is that both of them strongly come on to the protagonist Harry and are faltered by cold water.

And more over both of them react more or less the same way to it. Maeve eventually trying to murder Harry and Molly viewing the incident as a cruel embarrassment undermining her admiration of her mentor.

Cold Days spends a lot of time drawing parallels between the two but beyond that is Maeve's death the symbolic death of Molly's hedonism. And if that's the case what does it say about the deaths of Aurora and Lilly? Or that Maeve killed or at least had a hand in killing both.

Remember at the time we first meet both of those characters Molly would have been a preteen living under her mother's Charity's supervision. And while flawed both of those versions are the naive of the Winter and Summer Trinity's.

Furthermore Molly has had her share of parental issues as have pretty much anybody in that bunch who's worn the mantle of lady. Maeve is written in Cold Days as more or less a straight dark Mirror for Molly's darker impulses but it's also easy to view Aurora in the same mold desperately trying to gain Titania's affection.

Among winter all three/four incarnations have shown some affection, albeit in different ways for Harry and the more I think about it the more I think it might actually be different aspects of the same affection.

Moreover even Titania's the Summer Queen's anger over Harry's murder of her daughter Aurora is so encompassing that it's easy to believe it might not just be "her" anger but a manifestation of all of the complicated interactions all of her selves have had with this guy.

Now there is a question of how aware each of the aspects are of this. Does Mab remember being Maeve? Does she remember being Molly? Almost every every scene between her and Harry is filled with sexual tension. Could that be an extension and evolution of Molly's infatuation? Mab has said that although she isn't human now she was at one point. At the time I thought her transfiguration would have been in the long long ago but what if it were more recent. Again if she is unstuck in time when exactly she became Mab might be irrelevant in the first. She could have been born Molly Carpenter but still exist even before that,

It also makes sense why Mab would want Harry for the role of winter so bad. Being her mentor he may indeed be the one the mantle was created for with the rest being pale imitations. Also it would explain Leanansidhe's loyalty to Mab in the first place. If Lea's bargain as Harry's fairy godmother extended to Molly it would also extend to the rest of her future incarnations, mostly  Mab.

We know that such atemporality exists in the universe because the prison on Demon Reach was created at multiple points in the stream.

It would also explain some of the differences in their personalities. Both Mab and Maeve are vindictive and dangerous but Mab has rules. Maeve may be Mab before she came up with those rules.

Furthermore If Mother Winter and Mother Summer are basically quasi-eternal atemporal versions of each of these characters then it makes sense why they are so secretive, tight lipped and to a point fatalistic.

They are almost always resigned to the plot and the most unwilling to do anything to change it. Possibly because they already lived it. They already know all this.

P.S. I forgot to mention when Molly wants to compartmentalize complex tasks she visualizes different versions of herself in her mind. Just something to add to my thoughts.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

What Is Edge?

I like Daria. Have I said that enough. I don't think I've said that enough. Apart one of the shows I watch when I don't know what I want to watch I also feel without that one show I'm not sure I would have made it through high school intact. There are shows that I've seen since about high school that have helped me put my life in perspective when I'm feeling low. And to be honest there are a few episodes like, "Write Where It Hurts", "Through a Lens Darkly", "The Misery Chick," and "Boxing Daria" that are always good and helping me step out of myself for introspection (prepare for it), but all the same that show had something that resonated me in the moment, at the time.

Ironically enough I think what that thing was was edge. Okay it takes some explaining why that's kind of odd. Daria did a whole episode, though it was a reoccurring theme of the show, poking fun at marketers trying to co-op youth culture specifically lamenting that the word edge was vague enough that it could mean anything.

To me Daria's edge was authenticity. It along with a lot of teen dramadies at the time spoke to a truth that I felt but couldn't articulate. The experience of being a kid, or rather a teenager isn't all sunshine and roses. You're young enough to lack a decent amount of control over your life and just old enough to appreciate how that lack of control affects you. Furthermore you often lack the life experience to figure out how to really cope with all of that. Performing the role of a sardonic Greek chorus is one way to deal with it. Hell, sometimes it's all you really have the power to do.

Daria had the courage to be indignant, not in the heroic sense of the paragon,  but rather indignant that her world didn't make sense to her and that she couldn't really do much about it.

That indignation, is a form of sincerity that requires a certain amount of self awareness and dare I say it vulnerability. Some writer had to find some of this stuff maddening and be okay with internally, privately and eventually publicly admitting it, which by the way is something I still struggle with, being comfortable enough to admit when I am angry and realizing the validity and eventually the causes of that emotion. On its own the condition of being angry, having an edge is okay.

On the other hand it isn't healthy to be angry and in the lie of satisfaction. Anger has a way of subtly effecting my thoughts and actions and as I get older I'm getting better at realizing when that's happening. When the why of me is, "because I'm mad." That doesn't mean that I have to stop being angry but realize and admit when said anger is starting to become motivation and when said motivation is affecting or even leading my decision making.

Doing something because I'm mad isn't always a bad thing but it's something I ought to know.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Southfield December 7, 2015 City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on December 7, 2015

  • Topics Discussed Include
  • Bringing In a Consultant, Hamilton Anderson Associates to help develop Civic Center at Evergreen and a discussion of that process
  • DTE Energy’s Retro-Commissioning Program
  • The Promotion of Michael Manion From an Acting role to Director of Community Relations
  • A Discussion on the Nature of Acting Roles
  • The Creation of an Ethics Policy
  • Changes to City Ordinances including one banning the use of non-commercial animal feed out doors
  • Modernizing Processes in the Building Department and Technology Department
The Median at Evergreen and 8-Mile and it’s relation to a gas station

An agenda and related Documents can be found here.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 4, 2015 Southfield City Council Visioning Session

On December 4, 2015 the Southfield City Council held a visioning session with representatives from Project Innovation Incorporated as facilitators.

Note 1: This meeting was recessed rather than adjourned and will continue on Monday December 7, 2015

Note 2: Because the session broke into smaller groups I chose to mostly focus on the taping what the group as a whole was saying and doing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Defence of Lavi's Choice

So I've spent a lot of brain power over the last few days on Last Exile because it is that good. That said it isn't perfect.

One of the most constant complaints about the show is that it's second protagonist kind of drops out of significance in the middle after deciding to no longer be the other protagonist's copilot.

And I sort of get it. But...

One of the major themes of Last Exile is the tragic militarization of the Sky and the Lavi-Claus-Titania love triangle is a big giant metaphor for it.

Titania is a combat pilot born and bred. It's one of the reasons why those two bug her so damn much early on. She's worked all her life to become the best damn combat pilot in the world and then all of a sudden here comes Claus who got that damn good just by goofing around for fun.

To make things more clear she sports a red plane.

They devote an entire episode to her realizing that there is more to flight, to the skies than just combat and that maybe it isn't such a good thing that Claus is starting to turn into an a real ace. He's starting to abandon his wide eyed wonderment at the sky.

For Lavi's part, and Claus share this backstory she flies to memorialize the devil-may-care adventurous spirit of her deceased father and senses that there is something wrong with that being succeeded by combat oriented pragmatism.

The choice between the two really is about Claus choosing whether he wants to be an aviator or an airman. And the fact that Lavi won't fly with him while he's the latter, while Titania won't fly with him while he's the former brings that choice to the fore.

Also it's not like Lavi left the series she hung around with the flight crew and continued to work on the physical symbol of all of that.

Their fathers', the two know each other because their dads were copilots, damaged plane.

My point is that while the choice to take Lavi out of the cockpit gave her less screen time it may have made her more thematically important.

The Silvana is the Safest Place In The World

I can't shake it. I love Last Exile. There is a lot to talk about but for right now I want to talk about one of the most fascinating character's in a cast of fascinating characters. Sophia Forester, Empress-First Officer of the "Kill 'em all" Silvana.

Range Murata, Last Exile, Sophia Forrester taken from

Okay let me back up.

The one of the great things about Last Exile are the character designs. Characters generally fit within families and the design of those families are relatively consistent. Courier pilots all look like interwar aviators, because they are. The flight deck crew all look like mechanics because they are. The bridge staff all look like naval officers, because they are.

And that consistency allows the story to visually communicate the gist of who these characters are without a lot of spending a lot of time. It can then focus smaller less obvious aspects of their personalities. In Sophia's case she's the team mom. Apart from the technical proficiency her uniform informs the audience of her establishing character moment is that she's the first member of the crew to really comfort Alvis, who looks to be about 4, has transitioned from everything she's ever known. And to do so she utters the words that sum up her character.

"The Silvana (her ship) is the Safest Place in the World."

It took me a while to realize it but her role as the executive office is an outward manifestation of that personality. Everybody on that ship save her captain perhaps are her adult children, and she will do everything in her power to make that ship safe for them both physically and emotionally. It's ironically enough the home she's made.

And that's really interesting. In a lot of military and even non military dramas the feminine is something that detracts from strength but here Sophia's strength as a military officer is portrayed as an extension of a traditional feminine role, the home maker.

That's why it's all the more heart breaking when for a time she has to leave the home she built for herself.

But the change in design allows for her more matronly personality traits to be made more visually explicit as she rocks a Lady Capulet gown as her regalia when she takes up her country's throne. And the show makes implicit that this is the same woman. That behind the trim is still the Vice Captain of the "Kill-em all" Silvana.

That coronation wasn't some sort of transformation into a new role but a confirmation of all the old ones as the show rockets into it's third act where she's leading a war council.

They are the same coin. All of that skill and silent ferocity is there to protect who and what she cares about and what she cares about is the Silvana and her crew.

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