Part of the fun of reading The Man Who Folded Himself is counting the number of characters at the end so I won’t actually say how big the cast is. But as should be obvious from the title Daniel, the main character, appears more than once.
The Man Who Folded Himself is one of my favorite time travel stories, in part because the intricacies of time travel, though gone into, are less important that Daniel’s relationship with himself. In some ways The Man Who Folded Himself is about learning to love and accept yourself. Though it deals just as much with the dark side of that equation, as Daniel is given the sort of power that allows the ultimate narcissism, needing to consider no one and nothing except himself.
The Man Who Folded Himself is a brilliant piece of time travel and just a brilliant piece of fiction. If you enjoy time travel stories you really do owe it to yourself to pick up this gem.
It was originally published in 1973, so in some ways this book has been passed by but often it has been merely passed by in the cleverness of fiddling with time which isn’t the emphasis in this book. If you are looking for a treatise on alternate realities, such as the results of traveling back and making sure someone famous was never born or the paradox born if you kill your own grandfather, you will be disappointed. This is a character study book all about how Daniel is affected by his power to manipulate time. Though I also recommend against reading the author’s own commentary about the book, it’s much better with you being able to judge it instead of him trying to tell you what to think about it.
“I think what I have learned from working on Moonlight, you see what happens in persecution. What I was so grateful about and having the opportunity was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community and taking that opportunity to uplift him and tell him he mattered, that he was OK. And accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.
We kind of get caught up in the minutiae and the details that make us all different. I think there’s two ways of seeing that. There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s the opportunity to go to war about it. And to say that that person is different than me and I don’t like you, so let’s battle. My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. You put things to the side and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”
– Mahershala Ali talks about persecution and religious freedom at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night, where he won Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his work in Moonlight. (via Us Weekly)
Inspired by the look John gives Harold at the end of this scene.
There is a moment, seven seconds frozen in time before a two out of five chance of them dying together in a brilliant light of explosives and charred flesh, when Harold knows.
It’s the way John looks at him then. There is relief there, yes, but there is also… unabashed wonder. And that is when Harold knows… he has to be careful.
Because the way John is looking at him then is… nothing short of breathtaking. He’s looking at Harold as if he’s a miracle. A knight straight out of fairy tales, if knights have a permanent limp dogging their footsteps instead of a white horse.
It’s the moment Harold knows that… he has John. That he owns John. Completely, in a way that he never has, before. It’s not the first time that Harold has protected him. But it’s the first time he has outright decided to risk dying with him, just to save him.
He knows, without a doubt, that it is this moment that has earned him John’s unquestionable loyalty.
And perhaps… something much more than that, as John looks at him with something much, much more profound than mere friendship or brotherhood. Something very close to worship, and utter, complete devotion.
And Harold shudders at the thought of it, because there’s a reason he’s a very private person. He’s afraid that John will discover that he is not a good man, that he is as flawed and as sinful as any other human being, and Harold isn’t sure he deserves that kind of devotion from someone in need of redemption as John.
And he has to be careful, so very, very careful, that he doesn’t take advantage of this unwanted power he now has over John. A power that he knows John has only willingly given him as a gift.
Because he now knows, without a doubt, that whatever he says, John will follow him. He can order John to shoot a man straight between his eyes, and John will do so without an ounce of hesitation. He can order John to jump off this building with him, and John will find a way to twist his body around him and wrap his arms around him to break the worst of the fall.
He can ask John to kiss him, and he knows, without a doubt, that John will drop to his knees the way he has always fantasised, like a sinner before an altar, praying to be saved.
And Harold is seized with a terrible amount of fear, because he knows himself; he knows all his weaknesses and his darkness and all the ways the people he loves end up being in danger or getting killed, and he is afraid, so afraid, that he will end up ruining John. And he knows his selfishness, knows that he can’t want John without wanting everything from him, and he is terribly, terribly afraid that he will only end up taking and taking until he doesn’t even realise that he has stolen every chance at happiness John deserves to have.
There is a moment, at this rooftop, when John looks at him, that Harold sees the complete and utter devotion in John’s eyes, and knows without a doubt that John is ready to give up anything and everything just to follow Harold.
Even his own happiness.
And Harold can’t—won’t—take advantage of that.
He takes a moment to step back, and sees the split second look of confusion in John’s face, the minuscule movement of his body as he strains toward Harold like a magnet, as if John can’t bear any more distance between them, as if every step back Harold is taking is ripping through his body more painfully than any blade or bullet, and oh — Harold has to be careful about that too.
Because he has to be there for John. Not just in moments like this when John is ready to sacrifice himself—when John mistakenly thinks he’s expendable—but in the small moments of doubt John still has, moments when John fails to take his overall well-being into account, because John fails to see his own importance, his own worth. And that’s why Harold has to be there to do these things for him, to make sure that John is always taken care of, even in the smallest of ways—food, clothing, shelter, and the occasional arsenal and protective gear he needs—because maybe, just maybe, someday, Harold will have finally destroyed all those lingering doubts in John’s mind about his right to be cared for, and most of all, his right to live.
And maybe someday, it will have been enough for Harold to have earned the privilege of being the one to make John finally happy.
And the blessing… of loving him.
Harold, John thinks in complete breathless wonder, doesn’t know how to do things in small doses.
He doesn’t just save John from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and killing himself in one lethal wave, the way slowly killing himself with hunger and alcohol over the course of several months has failed to achieve. He gives John a job. And not just a job. A purpose.
He doesn’t just pay John. He keeps John well-fed, encouraging John to eat under the guise of meeting at restaurants or having take-out together at the library; why else would Harold tell John to enjoy the humble diner’s eggs benedict, under the guise of working to save another Number, or tell John to keep bringing breakfast danishes for Bear when he knows that John’s favourite pastry shop is on the way?
He doesn’t just provide John shelter that’s leagues better than the dingy motels John had to make do throughout his previous missions with the CIA, sacrificing creature comforts for efficiency. No, Harold doesn’t just provide him comfort, Harold provides him with luxury, with his own honest-to-god loft where he can keep all the arsenal he wants without fear of being questioned by authorities.
He doesn’t just give John clothes. He has designer items tailor-made for him, sometimes even taking John’s measurements himself, sinking down on his knees despite the discomfort it brings to his injured leg, filling John with inappropriate images of how he can make it up to Harold, make it worth his while.
He doesn’t just save anyone. He builds a Machine that can save everyone.
And he doesn’t just save John from dying. He’s there, ready to die with him.
He thinks of Jessica, about the way he once told her that in the end, everyone dies alone and that no one comes to save you, and thinks about how Harold has just disproven that by bravely taking on a two out of a five chance of them dying, because Harold stubbornly refuses to let John die alone.
They’re both breathing heavily now, staring at each other in a limbo of disbelief at what they have just survived — together.
There had been a moment, once, when John first learned about Grace, when he wondered how a stiff and immensely private person like Harold is when he’s in love.
He thinks of all of Harold’s grand gestures and unthinkable capabilities, and realises — this isn’t even all of it. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and underneath all the layers of bespoke clothing and cool politeness and numerous aliases and impenetrable firewalls surrounding Harold… is a man capable of so much love.
And it hits him, with a surge of possessiveness so intense it momentarily whites out his consciousness as if the bomb exploded in his chest anyway, that he wants to discover all of it. He wants to break down all the barriers Harold has put between himself and this merciless, bloodthirsty world, and fold himself over this man who is love and benevolence personified and tell him that no one will ever hurt him anymore, not without going through John first. He wants to find out all the ways Harold can smile, and all the reasons for those smiles, and more than that — he wants all of that for himself.
He steps forward just as Harold takes a step back with a look of complete terror in his face, and that — that punctures John more deeply than any knife, because he can take any kind of torture in the world—he already has, in fact—but he can’t ever endure the pain of seeing Harold afraid of him.
He steels his gaze, his features hardening into determination. He will stay by Harold’s side, no matter what. He will tear down every organisation that will try to keep him from being there for Harold, with Harold, if it comes to that.
And maybe someday, he will have been able to prove himself worthy of that love.
This is definitely not as fluffy as it should be if it’s for Fluff Friday, but *shrugs*. My angsty ninja babies usurped this month’s prompt. Which, admittedly, I’d already taken sideways because they don’t own cars. (Think “gas station” as a liminal space, a transient space, a space that does not exist when you do not occupy it, space from which you are either coming or going. Think also: a place to purchase a bad magazine and a bag of chips for the long highway that stretches out before you. Think: pause. Think: refuel. Think: this will not last forever.)
Summary: What do you do with peace when you’ve never actually had it? Sakura and Kakashi travel criss-crossing roads, searching for an answer to the ache in their bones, the emptiness in their lungs. (What do you do with peace? Dare to reach out with two hands and take it for your own, for as long as it lasts.)
Sakura salutes the nin watching her from the trees and trudges the last mile to the border-guard station. All she wants is a shower and a drink with an obscene alcohol percentage to wipe the memory of the past days from her mind.
Unfortunately, she can’t afford to forget what she has seen as she’s going to need to report on it.
The Great Elemental Nations are at peace, however uneasily, but that does not mean that there are enemies Konoha can afford to let slip back into the shadows to lick their wounds. Always, the Village must be watchful of the shadows.
They have learned that, if nothing else, from their many sins come home to roost.
“I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight - you see what happens when you persecute people, they fold into themselves - and what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan, was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community - and taking that opportunity to uplift him and tell him that he mattered. That he was ok. And accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.“
Mahershala Ali // SAG Award Winner for Moonlight //
In his powerful speech, Mahershala Ali draws from his characterization in Moonlight to emphasize the vital role compassion plays in our ability to rescue each other from isolation.
The film chronicles a young gay black boy as he grows into a man while traversing a community from which he draws ire. Ali’s character acts as a guardian for the protagonist Chiron. He is a powerful figure whose distinctive gentleness allows Chiron to survive: at first in the shadows – but eventually, driven by the prospect of allowing himself to love, in the open. You could even say it got better.
With so much division placed in the forefront of our current world, we in the LGBTQ community take pride in our extended hands. We uplift each other within and without because, as we like to say, love is love, and love wins.
Read the transcript of Ali’s speech below:
“I think what I’ve learned from working on “Moonlight” is we see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves. And what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community and taking that opportunity to uplift him and to tell him he mattered, that he was OK, and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.
We kind of get caught up in the minutia and the details that make us all different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that. There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s the opportunity to go to war about it, and to say that that person is different than me and I don’t like you, so let’s battle.
My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now ― you put things to the side, and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutia. It’s not that important.”
An excellent question! I’m assuming you are referring to the House, not just the creature it is named after. As you are asking the librarian of Ilvermorny, I will ofcourse be able to give you an answer of both a historical and opinion based nature. Naturally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how very vital a certain pukwudgie was to the founding of Ilvermorny itself. He is rumoured, in fact, to still be among the Pukwudgie employed at the school! (I have laboured many hours into trying to ascertain any proof of this since William is most unwilling to discuss it properly!) The house not only caters to people who live by their heart, but also is a symbol of the heart of the school itself. It was through Isolt’s big heart that she was able to melt away the aggression and hatred of a creature that historically has been a great danger to witches and no majs alike! It is very often that Pukwudgie house members are far more empathetic to cooperation with other non-human magical beings. We can’t forget also, the founder of Pukwudgie himself who was a muggle man brought into the fold by the magic of Isolt’s open heart. It is no surprise that he chose Pukwudgie, the creature that helped his wife so very much, as he too lived by his heart- an admirable masculine quality. Again, Pukwudgie members historically are filled with advocates to no-maj cooperation and have the lowest number of pure blood wizarding families. The house relates first and foremost to people who know best what is in their own heart, and aren’t afraid to go after it. Decisions are made with far more respect to what will make them most happy in life - quite the enviable trait! While Pukwudgie favours healers, this can also refer to mentors, teachers, counselors and builders; people who leave a place better than how they found it. Healing is a complicated process, sometimes including harsh truths and breaking a bone to mend it. We also can’t forget that the trickster nature of a Pukwudgie is present as well. A heart isn’t always necessarily a romantic one, sometimes it is passionate for career, hobbies, or whole groups of people, sometimes it is even filled with anger or mischief. They can be quite unstoppable, fueled by emotion but often compassion and the wisdom of hollowing your heart -wherever it leads you.
Can you please do a flirtatious male inquisitor and a bi curious Cullen ?
The Inquisitor twirled the apple in his hand, inspecting it before taking a bite of it. He savoured the sweet juice of the apple, barely listening as his Commander gave the most recent report. Stretching and rolling his shoulders a bit, the Inquisitor yawned and kicked his feet up on his desk.
“Am I boring you Inquisitor? I can come back later.” Cullen paused in his pacing, stopping in front of the Inquisitor and folding his hands behind his back.
“Maker, no!” The Inquisitor looked away from his apple, his eyes locking with the surprised gaze of his advisor.
“I mean if—”
“I love your voice, I could listen to you speak for hours and never grow bored.” The Inquisitor grinned, watching the Templar’s mouth slip open. The sight of Cullen gaping at him like a fish out of water was expected, the man not really having shown which river he swam so to speak. “So I can assure you, I am not bored. A little tired maybe, but that is hardly your fault.”
“Right, well, yes, later then.” Cullen nodded and the Inquisitor found himself enjoying that bloom of red on Cullen’s cheeks. A bit of disappointment came to the Inquisitor as the other man turned to leave.
“Come now, Cullen. I may be too tired to properly listen as you recite numbers and tactics, but I can always use a little company.” The Inquisitor smirked and went back to eating his apple again, still watching as Cullen stood in the doorway and was no doubt having some kind of inner debate on whether to stay or go.
“Okay.” Cullen’s voice came out slow, cautious. The Inquisitor wondered if the offer for his presence truly was such a serious matter.
It took a few seconds for Cullen to return to his place in the room, far longer than necessary and he shifted in place as he stood before the Inquisitor.
The Inquisitor clicked his tongue and took another bite of his apple, his eyes still focused on Cullen. He felt a bit of the juice run down his chin and the Inquisitor licked his lips, finally looking away from the stock-still blond in search of something to wipe away the sticky juice.
“Dear Maker, I’m such a mess.” The Inquisitor sighed, giving up and wiping the apple juice away with his sleeve before returning his gaze to Cullen. He raised an eyebrow as he took in the sudden changes of the other man’s face, the man’s eyes blown wide and the flush of his face was considerably darker. “You alright, Cullen?”
“Fine!” The squeak made the Inquisitor raise his eyebrow a little higher and a grin came to his face.
“Well then sit.”
“Yes, of course, sitting.” Cullen rushed a bit to sit in the seat across from the Inquisitor, his hands clasped tight in his lap and his posture wound tight.
“You’re sure you’re fine, Ser Cullen?” The Inquisitor purred as he dropped his boots to the floor and sat up in his seat, hoping that he was reading his advisor right. Maker, he hoped he was reading the signs right.
“Yes!” Cullen wheezed out and wrung his hands together. The Inquisitor gave a throaty, little laugh and enjoyed how Cullen straightened up a bit at the sound.
“Relax, Cullen. Wind yourself any tighter and you might burst. And what a shameful waste of a perfectly good, handsome man that would be.” The Inquisitor chuckled again as Cullen went a deeper red, but forced himself to relax. “Good. Now, may I say you are doing magnificent job, keeping me informed on our alliances’ support.”
“Thank you, Inquisitor.” Cullen ducked his head and rubbed at the back of his neck, the Inquisitor grinned as he took the last bite of his apple and tossed it to the side of the desk. Cullen jerked a little at the sound, before relaxing again.
“Of course, I give credit where due. I also saw you’ve been doing an excellent job keeping the recruits in line and getting them in shape. Though I expected no less from a strong, well-trained warrior.”
This time Cullen only nodded, fidgeting in his place again.
“Cullen, if it is unwelcome, just tell me to stop.” The Inquisitor switched to a friendly smile, eyes locked on the man who was curling in on himself. The Inquisitor leaned forward and folded his hands on the desk, wondering if the Commander had even heard him. He knew when things ceased to be fun and entertaining for both parties it was time to stop. If his affection was unwelcome and he had in fact pushed that limit it was time to stop. “Very well, I apologize, I did not—”
“No, it’s—it’s not that!” Cullen’s head shot up, his eyes wide and blush still settled upon his face.
The Inquisitor blinked, not expecting such an objection if any at all.
“Maker, It’s—I’m not sure what—I’ve never been. I am interested, I just…”
“I see, it is all kind of new then. These feelings?”
“A bit…yes.” Cullen ducked his head again and the Inquisitor grinned, standing from his seat. He was utterly elated that he had not been entirely wrong, he had merely not expected the man to be so…new, at these experiences.
“So you are interested in giving them a try, though, with me?” The Inquisitor walked around his desk and he leaned down, wrapping his hands around the arms of Cullen’s chair. The Inquisitor caged Cullen in and looked into the man’s deep, brown eyes. His teasing grin turned into a predatory smirk as Cullen sat up straight, looking like a mouse caught before a cat.
“I—I—I—” Cullen finally gave up on trying to speak and simply nodded, his dark eyes dropped from the Inquisitor’s own eyes to his quirked lips. Immediately they snapped back up as if he hadn’t meant to do it, knowing there was no way he hadn’t been caught.
“How honored I am, Ser Cullen.” The Inquisitor leaned in further, reveling in the way Cullen trembled beneath him as his breaths swept across those soft, pink lips. The Inquisitor leaned in further, brushing his sticky lips against Cullen’s and inhaling the faintest scent of lyrium and polish. “I think I shall go rest, but I would love to continue this conversation later, Cullen.”
“Of course, Herald. Inquisitor. Later.” Cullen let out a shuddering breath, unintentionally leaning in and brushing their lips again. The Inquisitor gently pushed Cullen back, a playful look in his eye as he grinned.