the same theme

wrath / ruin, a chronological playlist for rkorya kaliyan, sith warrior and the empire’s wrath (spotify)

the empire’s wrath / the emperor’s ruin

(art by hoiist)

tracklist:

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

You really should watch Steven Universe, it's really cute and it's good. It's honestly the only series I make a point of watching as it airs the first time and to re-watch their long themed segments (they take old episodes with the same character or theme and go back to back). Like yeah it's a kids show, but it has depth 🌻

I tried the first 2 eps and found it boring, though I know it gets better. I’m more interested in watching Gravity Falls and Over the Garden Wall

happy birthday to my special boy !!!!
it’s a hamster plush party

I think one of the reasons the Harry Potter Epilogue was so poorly received was because the audience was primarily made up of the Millennial generation.

We’ve walked with Harry, Ron and Hermione, through a world that we thought was great but slowly revealed itself to be the opposite. We unpeeled the layers of corruption within the government, we saw cruelty against minorities grow in the past decades, and had media attack us and had teachers tell us that we ‘must not tell lies’. We got angry and frustrated and, like Harry, Ron and Hermione, had to think of a way to fight back. And them winning? That would have been enough to give us hope and leave us satisfied.

But instead. There was skip scene. And suddenly they were all over 30 and happy with their 2.5 children.

And the Millennials were left flailing in the dust.

Because while we recognised and empathised with everything up to that point. But seeing the Golden Trio financially stable and content and married? That was not something our generation could recognise. Because we have no idea if we’re ever going to be able to reach that stage. Not with the world we’re living in right now.

Having Harry, Ron and Hermione stare off into the distance after the battle and wonder about what the future might be would have stuck with us. Hell, have them move into a shitty flat together and try and sort out their lives would have. Have them with screaming nightmares and failed relationships and trying to get jobs in a society that’s falling apart would have. Have them still trying to fix things in that society would have. Because we known Voldemort was just a symptom of the disease of prejudice the Wizarding World.

But don’t push us off with an 'all was well’. In a world about magic, JK Rowling finally broke our suspension of disbelief by having them all hit middle-class and middle-age contentment and expecting a fanbase of teenagers to accept it.

Also. Since when was 'don’t worry kids, you’re going to turn out just like your parents’ ever a happy ending? Does our generation even recognise marriage and money and jobs as the fulfillment of life anymore? Does our generation even recognise the Epilogue’s Golden Trio anymore?

i ’ v e    g o t    a    f e e l i n g    i t ’ s    n e v e r    t o o    l a t e
i close my eyes and see myself how my dreams will come true

colored&edited official sketch (x)

Some Highlights from “The Music of Rogue One” Panel at SWCO17 (aka the panel that blew my mind)

So since I can’t find any filmed version of the “Music of Rogue One” panel with David W. Collins I’ll post some of the highlights here. I’m a music theory nerd myself but I was surrounded by people who have never paid attention to music analysis and were still moved to tears so I encourage everyone to check this out (and watch the panel please if it’s ever made available.)

  • the Panel began with Collins discussing the legacy of John Williams and the Star Wars main theme specifically. He discussed how it was originally meant to be Luke Skywalker’s theme, and how that interpretation can still hold true considering Star Wars is the Skywalker Saga
  • The coolest thing pointed out re the main theme is that it’s musical construction mirrors the structure of the Hero’s Journey, the monomyth structure that all of Star Wars revolves around. It rises suddenly with the call to adventure, then builds with the journey, drops during the abyss, is reborn with another musical rise, then returns to the beginning. Collins emphasized that Williams is without a doubt a musical genius and that Michael Giacchino had a big challenge in making a score that lived up to William’s legacy while standing on it’s own. This was a challenge he more than met, as this panel made clear.
  • Now moving on to Rogue One, Collin’s discussed the title theme “Hope.” This theme is clearly heard over the title of the film, during Jyn’s big speech to the Rebellion, and throughout the film.
  • Collins pointed out that, like the main Star Wars theme, “Hope” echos the structure of the film itself. There are heroic major key moments in the theme, but it ends in a melancholy way that almost sounds unfinished. It represents the sacrifice at the center of the film. This is a story of incredible heroism that merely paves the way for others to finish the journey. 
  • Collins moved on to discuss the musical themes for each character in Rogue One, with a lot of focus on Jyn’s theme. Jyn’s theme is the most frequently heard piece along with “Hope” in the film. In fact, we hear it three times in the film’s prologue alone.
  • The fascinating thing Collins pointed out is Giacchino’s use of Dies Irae throughout the score. Dies Irae, or Day of Wrath, is the medieval hym describing the end of the world. It is sung during funeral masses and musically is quoted widely to represent death
  • EVERY CHARACTER THEME IN ROGUE ONE IS STRUCTURED AROUND DIES IRAE. Jyn, Chirrut, Baze, even Krennic, ALL OF THEM
  • Giacchino was signaling from the beginning that this is a story about death. He wrote the sacrifice of these characters right into their themes.
  • A notable use of Dies Irae beyond character themes is it’s repetition as Cassian and Jyn begin to climb the tower in the archive during the climax. The first two notes of Dies Irae are repeated as they do so. When Krennic walks down the hallway with his Death Troopers, all three notes play (death literally chasing them). And when Jyn almost drops, than catches the data tapes, Dies Irae is replaced by “Hope”
  • Jyn’s theme in particular is a melancholy theme centered on Dies Irae, but with a lovely, lullaby like feeling. It tells you from the beginning that Jyn’s is a story of hope and inspiration but also death and sacrifice.
  • An interesting use of Jyn’s theme and “Hope” together is during Jyn’s speech to the Rebellion. First we here “Hope” swell as Jyn speaks to the Rebels. Then when her speech is shot down, the theme drops, replaced by Jyn’s theme. This represents that it is Jyn herself who inspires the sacrifice that will eventually bring on the Hope. Jyn is the hope.
  • Another mind blowing moment was a musical parallel that Collins pointed out with the character of Bodhi Rook. In the scene where he recalls his mission, repeating “I’m the pilot, I brought the message,” listen for the flutes. That exact same flute theme plays in A New Hope when Luke discovers Leia’s message hidden in R2. By doing this,  Giacchino is directly mapping the journey of “the message.” Bodhi receives the message of the Death Star and how it can be destroyed from Galen, he brings it to Jyn, who with Rogue One, transmit the message, which ends up in the hands of Leia, then to R2, then to Luke, who must return it to the Rebellion. Those flutes represent the origin of the message with Bodhi through to A New Hope.
  • This panel was full of mind blowing moments, but the most mind blowing moment by far was another musical connection to A New Hope. After we had become very familiar with Jyn’s theme over the course of the panel, Collin’s played a scene from A New Hope for us. It was the moment when Obi-Wan asks Luke to come with him to Alderaan and Luke resists. When Obi-Wan says he’s getting too old for this sort of thing, Jyn’s theme plays clearly under Luke’s hesitation. In the original context, a hint of Dies Irae was WIlliam’s way of foreshadowing Obi-Wan’s death, but after Giacchino used that musical queue to build Jyn’s theme, it suddenly has deeper meaning. It’s Jyn’s sacrifice calling to Luke, compelling him to be the hope she fought for. And it is connecting Obi-Wan’s eventual sacrifice with that of Jyn and her comrades.  
  • Collins also highlighted how Giacchino’s score for the final moments of the film, from Jyn’s confrontation with Krennic through the arrival of Vader and the death of Jyn and Cassian, is unconventional and incredibly effective. Jyn’s confrontation with Krennic is silent, no music, unexpected for such a key moment. Only when Cassian appears does the music return. And throughout the final sequence, as we witness horrifying destruction, death. the arrival of the Death Star and Vader’s Star Destroyer, the score stays distant, gentle, melancholy. It does not highlight the horror. It steps back and mourns over it, like the eyes of history or the Force itself, honoring the sacrifice. 
  • So yeah Giacchino’s score for Rogue One is brilliant, Williams’ music for Star Wars is brilliant, this panel was brilliant, and I can never get enough of analyzing Star Wars scores.
a long post about the message of the blurryface era

all the blurryface music videos (and heathens) seem to be pretty different from the rest but all of them have the same theme, which is that connection with friends is the best way to cope, and no one is really alone.

heathens/heavydirtysoul - these two music videos parallel each other closely as i talked about in my last post. both start with tyler in a dark and unfamiliar place. he is sad and withdrawn. then, he sees josh. josh is drumming furiously and doesn’t notice tyler. 

in both music videos tyler is represented by dark motifs (rooms, clothes, etc.) while josh’s motifs are glowing and bright. heathens - he’s drumming on a glowing box, which eventually becomes the stage on which he and tyler play. heavydirtysoul - his drums spark flames with every hit; they grow larger and eventually consume tyler as well. 

both videos reach a climax in which tyler and josh interact with each other for the first time. the light (heathens) and flame (hds) grows to a blinding maximum and the two are rocking out together. josh is no longer ignoring tyler. tyler is no longer withdrawn; he is interacting with josh and for the moment his anxiety is gone. it’s a release but it’s not a painful one. he is coping. 

and then in the end everything is back to normal - no yellow suit, no light, no flames. tyler is still there alone. blurryface is as present as ever. and the implication is that he has imagined josh. this is why josh didn’t notice tyler both times. he was merely an attempt for tyler to find someone to relate to. a cathartic figment of imagination. an imagination of light that tyler hasn’t found yet. 

and what these songs mean in relation to the videos is clear. “all my friends are heathens” - there are so many people here going through the same thing as me, and while the general public considers us freaks, we are all here together and ready to stay that way. “can you save my heavydirtysoul” - implies desperately trying to find a way out of the situation. imagining salvation so fervently that it manifests as almost reality. salvation, here, is josh and the flames. 

lane boy - this one is kind of similar to heathens and heavydirtysoul in that it starts with tyler, alone and contemplating, in the dark. but this time he’s worried about what he has done to become successful, and whether it’s good enough, and whether fame will change him and limit him. all these worries are new to the band, because they’re at the beginning of their rise to fame at this point. and in the video the dark road in the woods symbolizes that they’re in the dark and they’re being careful. stay low they say. 

and then they’re playing on a stage, and everything is forgotten, and they REFUSE to stay low. if you notice in the video the moment tyler sees josh on stage, that is the moment he breaks his silence and starts to dance. to me this video represents that even though not everyone in the crowd might like what the band is doing, and even though there are critics behind that stage and out in that world, being able to play in front of thousands, together, tyler and josh, is worth it. at the end of this video is the realization that having each other means much more than success. 

stressed out - i think this video illustrates the point the most obviously, but it does a great job handling the dichotomy between wanting to grow up and not wanting to grow up. obviously tyler and josh would rather hang out with each other, with no responsibilities, and make music without having to worry about how it is going to be received. and part of the music video is the deliberate denial of reality, and the fantasy of regressing into teenagerhood. but the last part? that’s the acknowledgement that they’re not always going to be kids and life will not be easy. tyler is walking down the street, alone, and without the backpack and the tricycle. this is a sign he’s maturing. and blurryface, he’s there too. i think that entire scene is representative of coming of age.

ride/fairly local - like heathens and heavydirtysoul, i think there’s strong evidence these videos parallel each other. both take place in an isolated location and make use of very polarized (no pun intended) environments. ride - the daytime and the nighttime. fairly local - the icy house and the red hallway. 

so in ride, i think it’s really important that the verses and the bridge take place at night. this is where tyler is doing all his worrying. he doesn’t know what his place in life is and what his relationship to others is. who would you live for, who would you die for, would you ever kill? he’s overanalyzing. he’s in the dark, both literally and metaphorically, about everything. and he doesn’t know where he stands with anyone. he can’t see. he’s wearing dark glasses at night. josh is nowhere to be seen. and then the chorus is where he lets up. he acknowledges that there is a lot to worry about and a lot to analyze over, but he can still enjoy his life. even though he’s hurling through the unfamiliar course of life he can still take the time to look at the things that he loves. and the light comes on, and he can look at the beauty that’s around him, and he can see that there are people and things that mean a lot to him even though he’s questioning it all. 

and then we have fairly local, where the majority of the video takes place in an icy house. the whole video seems very disconnected from the rest of the world. it’s freezing and desolate, both tyler and josh seem to ignore each other, and their demeanor is cold and apathetic. they’re trying very hard to remain unemotional, closed off, unable to see the damage they do to themselves and others. but that denial of their own feelings - that’s where blurryface manifests. he’s what’s causing their isolation, he’s there in the red hallway, changing into something darker and darker as tyler and josh continue to distance themselves.

and a thing i like about fairly local is that the quiet and desolate atmosphere of the video completely contradicts the lyrics of the song. “im fairly local, ive been around, ive seen the streets, youre walking down.” “the few, the proud, and the emotional.” he’s talking about the fanbase, and josh, and jenna, and everyone he’s been able to connect with. and the sense of group mentality and empathy are completely antithetical to the cold, quiet video that they represent breaking out of that atmosphere. 

tear in my heart - this one is an oddball. all the music videos from this era have the common thread of using human connection as a symbol of coping with blurryface. most videos choose to represent that with the relationship between tyler and josh, but this video uses tyler and jenna instead. i think the content of the video is pretty straightforward, and a lot of people have dived into this theory, but the scene in which jenna beats up tyler is important. a common interpretation is that this scene actually represents jenna beating up blurryface. blurryface doesn’t give up without a fight, of course. wrestling with such a character, such a deeply rooted part of your thoughts, is going to cause some distress. there is pain involved in battling your own mind, but the pain is a sign that you are able to fight, that you’re doing it. sometimes you gotta bleed to know that you’re alive and have a soul. but it takes someone to come around and show you how. jenna and tyler’s love for each other is what gives tyler the power to challenge blurryface, but he won’t be able to do that without some pain involved. 

and now i think i understand why blurryface is the name of this strange part of everyone’s brain. the literal opposite of the word blurryface is of course clear face. as in being able to see people’s faces clearly. blurryface is the opposite of seeing people for who they truly are. blurryface is the opposite of joining people who are fighting the same battles as you and really connecting with them. the opposite of blurryface is friendship and truth, and we must always find comfort in the fact that we are not alone. there are always people out there for you. and that’s how you defeat a demon. 

6

They look at each other, their burdens lifted slightly, their pain not gone but mellowing. Words unsaid. - The Prom script | They both smile. Two old soldiers. - The Yoko Factor script | They are both pained and comforted by the powerful bond between them. - Forever script |

I think almost every time I’ve written a situation where I planned for a character to get killed off, when I thought like “well what if I didn’t do that” the prospect of them just dying seemed like the lazy way out, or something I was just writing because “that’s how stories like this go”.

Like, years ago when I thought I was going to be on an extended hiatus I was planning to do a MGDMT graphic novel that had nothing to do with video games and just focused on the original super soldier characters. Mostly the idea was the same theme, Macho Action Dude Reacting to Movie Tropes Like A Reasonably Normal Guy, so it was gonna have all the motions of those same old conventions, but play out differently. At one point the idea was “the girlfriend character dies and he has to deal with it like an emotionally believable person and not a larger than life action guy”. But when I thought about it, that didn’t sit well with me, because even if it was trying to comment on a trope, it was still “female character gets killed for no reason other than the male lead to have a character arc about it” and that rubbed me the wrong way. So I thought, okay, what if she still gets kinda messed up, so they build her some cool robot parts and she’s like Shit Yeah! This is the best! And she thinks it’s so rad having robot parts it kinda throws off the course her life was going down because suddenly the idea of being Robocop seems a lot more exciting than nesting with her high school sweetheart. And he doesn’t have to go have emotions about a dead girlfriend, he has to learn to come to terms with someone he was very close to having a life experience he can’t exactly empathize with that put her on a road to becoming the person she’s decided she wants to be, but not the person he ever planned on her becoming. So his arc is sort of dealing with the grief of a lost hypothetical person, and learning to respect her autonomy to make decisions that he might consider “a bad idea” but improve her quality of life as she wants to live it. Which, in the end, felt like a lot more of an interesting story than “the girl dies so the main character can have emotions about it. But I only got to that point by recognizing the original idea was stale and racking my brain to do something different.

I guess what I’m saying is, when I see professional TV writers get excited about what a twist it is that they kill a beloved character in something to shake up the snowglobe so to speak, I can’t help but think that they fell into that rut of thinking “this is the convention I have been trained to attach to this story”, and didn’t even stop to think there may have been a more interesting and unique route they could have gone. Intrigue comes from giving the audience something they don’t expect to see. It’s easy to think that killing a character for shock value suits that task, but that’s become such a normal device to throw out there that it doesn’t surprise anyone anymore. It’s always worth at least considering what would happen to the story if you didn’t just go down the first path that came into your mind, because the first will almost certainly be the most well-trodden with the least surprises along the way.

OFF THE CUFF HOMESTUCK THOUGHTS #3: THE SELF PILE DOESN’T STOP FROM GETTING TALLER OR: THE PROBLEM OF DEAD MARIOS

DISCLAIMER

IMPORTANT THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

[CHECK THE TAG FOR MORE THOUGHTS]

So, a long-ass time ago, Rose and Dave had a conversation like this:

TT: After you go, what do you think will happen to me?
TT: Will I just cease to exist?
TG: i dont know
TG: i mean your whole timeline will
TG: maybe
TT: Maybe?
TT: Is there a chance it’ll continue to exist, and I’ll just be here alone forever?
TT: I’m not sure which outcome is more unsettling.
TG: the thing with time travel is
TG: you cant overthink it
TG: just roll with it and see what happens
TG: and above all try not to do anything retarded
TT: What do you think I should do?
TG: try going to sleep
TG: our dream selves kind of operate outside the normal time continuum i think
TG: so if part of you from this timelines going to persist thats probably the way to make it happen
TT: Ok.
TG: and hey you might even be able to help your past dream self wake up sooner without all that fuss you went through
TT: I think the true purpose of this game is to see how many qualifiers we can get to precede the word “self” and still understand what we’re talking about.

This is the most important sentence in Homestuck.

I am dead serious.

Well, OK, I mean, it’s pretty important for understanding some major Homestuck themes and shit or something like that.

Also, I totally should have said: Pre-Retcon Doomed Timeline Non-Dreamself Rose but ultimately about to become Dreamself Rose who semi-merged with Pre-Retcon Alpha Timeline Rose and Doomed Timeline Dave aka Davesprite AKA future Davepetasprite^2 or as we all call them around the office, Davepeta, had that conversation.

Maybe you begin to see what I’m going to talk about here.

One of the major frustrations a lot of people had with the retcon was that the characters we ended up with at the end weren’t the ones we’d come to love and know throughout the story. Was it even worth it, to lose the characters we loved to the tyranny of Game Over? The victorious kids, with the exception of John and Roxy, were other people, with other histories, other goals, and other choices.

Allow me to submit that that may be the whole point.

SBURB is cruel. We’ve known that for a long time. It’s cruel not as Caliborn is cruel, but as the cosmos is cruel, as a supernova is cruel. It wants what it wants, and doesn’t care about how that intersects with the needs of humanity. It wants to make universes through a complex game-playing method, and drags hapless, vulnerable adolescents along for the ride. And most of the time it doesn’t even succeed, leaving its champions to rot in a doomed timeline or similar! Skaia’s victory is an amoral creation myth where individual human beings are just the carved pieces on the chessboard. (I mean, the other ones. Not the carapacians.)

Again, let’s consider the theme of VIDEO GAMES vs. REAL LIFE.

Homestuck, let’s be real, is basically some postmodern horror timey-wimey Jumanji. For a generation way more familiar with pixels than cute little tokens It’s easy for teenagers and in fact, basically everyone, to fantasize about escaping their life and slipping into some game world forever, where they get to do awesome things and be a heroic person.

Homestuck makes that literal. Congratulations, everything you ever knew is dead. You will never see it again, except your internet friends, who turn out also to be your family and other important people. I mean, from a distance, SBURB sounds like an awesome game, right? You figure out who you are and get to wear a cool costume displaying that identity. You get to make anything you want and enjoy this hyperflexible mythology tailored to YOUR CHOICES. HS fans talk all the time about how cool it would be to play a real version of SBURB. That’s a big part of the appeal of SBURB fan adventures. They put you and your friends in the story. Or your favorite characters! It sounds like a fantasy come true.

The thing is, as fantastical as it is, it’s also really fucked up, and ultimately you and your friends are being used. By a giant frog to let it have its babies. By the universe. By a smug blue cloud thing that doesn’t care about you at all.

SBURB does not care about you at all.

The funny thing, SBURB features a mythology with so many layers and nuances and seemingly human motifs about growth and self that you might search for some grand ultimate meaning behind it, but it’s not even human enough to have a personality, to be something you can argue with or fight. It just is. It’s all the cruelty and power of a god without any of the dazzling personality. It’s empty. It just wants to make universes all day long, or fail trying. It is a great, weird tadpole-making machine that eats children.

One of the big ways it doesn’t care about you is its attitude toward the self. Humans and trolls and whatnot prefer not to be relentlessly duplicated. SBURB says, oh yeah, let’s make tons of copies of the player characters and use them for a lot of different purposes.

There’s the dreamself, an essential bifurcation of identity (you are now and were always the dream moon princex) that sometimes gets merged into god tier but sometimes doesn’t. There’s doomed timeline selves, who exist ultimately to augment an Alpha timeline whose Alphaness is decided very arbitrarily and frequently by Lord English. There’s the you who exists before a scratched session and the you who exists afterward, who are two different people but started as one baby in an act of ectobaby meteor duplication, your player self and your guardian self. Dead timeline yous fill up the dreambubbles made by the horrorterrors and get endlessly confused with each other. Any one of these could be the you experience being at any given moment, and which one it is entirely arbitrary. Don’t like being Dead Nepeta #47? Tough hoofbeast leavings, kiddo.

To top it all off, in Terezi: Remember, we learn that every single time we thought someone changed from one self to another, was resurrected or something like that, it was another act of duplication. For every time someone’s died, there’s another version of them waiting in the Dream Bubbles, surprised that they’re not the main character anymore. And we have no way of knowing which is which. Even John, good old everyman John, may or may not be the person who died three or four times. It’s really impossible to say whether we’ve been following the same person throughout our story, or just the illusion of the same person, like a horrifying cosmic flipbook.

The retcon is a return to this same theme. Ultimately, there’s very little new in the changes John makes to reality except that they drive the point home.

John’s friends all died. John and his friends won the game. These things are both true at the same time, except those things may not have happened to the same people. There was a happy ending. Hooray! For, um, some folks who may or may not be the ones we care about. In fact, it’s very confusing, because from Rose’s perspective, Roxy is dead but came back to life, and from Roxy’s perspective Rose is dead but came back to life, except also she came back to life as a weird tentacle catgirl of pure id and self –indulgence. So there’s that. Um. Which Rose are we rooting for again?

Or wait: is it none of them, because the first Rose died in a doomed timeline, hundreds of panels and a number of years ago?

There’s a tension here which one experiences between saying it’s okay because it’s still the same people, and saying it’s not okay, because it’s not the same people at all. This tension is exactly what we’re meant to wrestle with. To put it another way, Homestuck asks if identity can work in aggregate. Are all Johns John, all Roses Rose, and do they all share in what they accomplish? Or are the final victors only accidents created by the whims and needs of the frog baby machine?

What I’m saying, basically, is that the retcon, in the sense that it pointed out our confused relationship with these characters, was already here.

In interviews and questions put to him over the years, Hussie constantly compares HS and SBURB to other video games, particularly Mario, which he frequently returns to as a baseline of comparison that most of his readers will know. One answer, from a recent Hiveswap interview, is particularly revelatory. To the question of “Why do you kill off all your characters?” Hussie replies:

[…]HS is supposedly a story that is also a game. In games, the characters die all the time. How many times did you let Mario fall in the pit before he saved the princess? Who weeps for these Marios. In games your characters die, but you keep trying and trying and rebooting and resetting until finally they make it. When you play a game this process is all very impersonal. Once you finally win, when all is said and done those deaths didn’t “count”, only the linear path of the final victorious version of the character is considered “real”. Mario never actually died, did he? Except the omniscient player knows better. HS seems to combine all the meaningless deaths of a trial-and-error game journey with the way death is treated dramatically in other media, where unlike our oblivious Mario, the characters are aware and afraid of the many deaths they must experience before finally winning the game.

The big man hass the answer.

Homestuck is the story of those dead Marios.

Other works, like Undertale, have engaged with this topic as well. But one of the major differences between Undertale and Homestuck is that in Undertale, between “lives,” one’s consciousness is preserved. In Homestuck, it’s discontinuous, and the value of the overall trial-error process is called into question by the fact that you, the player, may not even get to experience the victory. What meaning does victory hold if that is the case?

So, to put it in a nice thesis format:

One of the central themes of Homestuck is the challenge of reconciling an arbitrary and destructive pattern of growth and victory with the death and suffering you experienced along the way. Homestuck asks: is victory worthwhile if you’re not you anymore? And would you be able to know?

What even is the self? Is there such a thing?

If you were left feeling somewhat disconcerted by our heroes’ tidy victory and departure to their cosmic prize, or by how which Rose gets the spotlight is so deeply, deeply arbitrary, there’s a good reason for that. You’re supposed to be.

The philosophical problem of Wacky Cat Rose is insignificant next to the bullshit of SBURB.

And don’t forget—John and Roxy’s denizens helped them achieve the retcon. Ultimately, the victory they achieved was mediated by the same amoral system of SBURB, and was a victory over an enemy, Caliborn, whose power was created, perpetuated, and ended by that same system.

Okay, so here’s where it gets contentious. There’s an argument to be made, which I’m not sure how I feel about, that some of the character development that could have been in post-retcon Act 6 was left out precisely to push this feeling and play up this tension. Note that this is not the same thing as saying that they were deliberately badly written, but that they’re deliberately written to make us uneasy.That Hussie deliberately played with the balance between making these retconned characters feel familiar and making them feel eerily different to leave us feeling uneasy with the result.

I’m not sure I like that idea. It smacks a little too much of that “everything is perfect” thinking that comes sometimes from the far Metastuck camp. Some of the differences may also be the result of flawed writing. (See: Jane and Jake’s character arcs, which I might talk about later.) And I want to be able to critique those flaws. Ultimately, I think we still needed more time and development to figure out who these new people were—even if our goal was ultimately to compare them to their earlier selves. And again, more conscious acknowledgement of the problem from our heroes—especially John, the linchpin in this last and biggest act of duplication—might have helped drive this theme home.

Still, I think the Problem of Dead Marios is one of the most fundamental questions of Homestuck, maybe THE biggest question. It’s essential to understand it to understand what Hussie’s doing—or attempting to do— in the retcon and the ending.

I don’t know that Homestuck offers us a clear answer to that question. There are some confusions around the issue, too. Where do merged selves fit in, exactly? Clearly they’re a big part of the discussion, because Hussie spends some time in Act 6, especially near the end bringing the identity-merging powers of the Sprites to the forefront. (See also: the identity-merged nightmare that is Lord English.)  Can we even come up with a clear answer to what it means when a dead Mario returns to life grotesquely fused with Toad? How does he beat the game? Does he tell himself that the princess is in another castle? Or what if he merges with Peach? Are they their own princess? How do they know if they’re in the right castle?

Um. Anyway—

Interestingly, it’s not all grotesque—spritesplosions suggest that personalities that are too different don’t stay together long, so a fusion might rely on some inherent compatibility between the two players. Erisol’s self-loathing, sure, but also Fefeta’s cheerfulness. Davepeta seems to be a way of bringing out the best in their players, a way of getting Davesprite past his angst and Nepeta past her fear. Honestly, I know a lot of people don’t like Davepeta as the ending of these two characters’ arcs, but I can’t help but love it. They’re the ultimate coolkid. Cool enough to know they don’t have to be cool. Regular Dave got there, too, of course. But was his retcon assist from John ultimately any different?

Then, of course, we come to Davepeta’s speech to Jade in one of the last few updates before Collide. Davepeta suggests that there is such a thing as an ultimate self beyond the many different selves one piles up throughout the cosmos. A set of principles that describes who you are that’s larger than any individual instance of you. Your inherent Mariohood. (Maybe this is comparable to your Classpect identity, which attempts to describe who you are?) Davepeta even tells Jade, strikingly, that one might learn to see beyond the barriers between selves. Be the ur-self, in practice, rather than theory. This would be incredible news for Jade, who wrestles with the issue of different selves perhaps more than any other character. (There’s a lot to say about Jade.)

Honestly, I wish this ur-self idea had been developed more, and I honestly expected it to be. It doesn’t fully come to fruition, I feel. (Same goes for Davepeta’s character. Ohhhh, ZING!) I’m not sure it entirely makes philosophical sense, especially with fusion—I mean, doesn’t Davepeta themself disprove it? Or at least complicate it? Like, are they part of the ur-Dave or the ur-Nepeta? They seem to imply they’re BOTH? Does that even work? Does that mean that Marieach is all the Peaches and Marios at once?

(In fact, Bowser/Peach/Mario are but the three manifestations of one eternal principle. Also, Bowser/Peach are the true power couple. Read my fanfiction plz.)

And what, say, of Dirk, who ultimately ends up rejecting aspects of his other selves? It feels like there’s a lot more you could say here, and I wonder if Hussie would have said more, if he’d had time. What’s weird is, none of our victorious kids never reach an ur-self (though to their descendants, they become archetypal to some degree), which one might have expected. They’re just individual selves who happened to get lucky. Does that make them representative of the whole? It feels like something’s missing here, or like something got dropped at the last minute.

Same goes for the idea of the Ultimate Riddle. You’d be forgiven for missing it, but there’s been this riddle in the background lore of SBURB that seems to have something to do with personal agency in this overwhelming, overarching system. Karkat called it predestination, saying something like “ANY HOPE YOU HAD OF DOING THINGS OTHERWISE WAS JUST A RUSE.” But others have interpreted it more positively. My favorite interpretation, from bladekindeyewear: the answer to the Riddle is that YOU shape the timeline through your existence, personality, and choices, even when it looks like it’s all predestination. Ultimately it’s your predestination, your set of events, based deeply on your nature, that you are creating. Someone like Caliborn can use his innate personality to achieve power; someone like John might be able to use it to achieve freedom.

I definitely expected something like that to be expressed more explicitly. Like, a big ah-ha moment that helps John or Jade or whoever understand how to escape Caliborn’s system. Something like that would have been very helpful for a lot of our heroes, actually, who’ve been pushed around by Skaia and SBURB together, in finding a cathartic ending.  Once again, I wonder if something was dropped or rushed because there wasn’t time to put it all in. There’s places where you can see hints of that Answer being implied, maybe? But it’s kind of ambiguous.

You can see how the Answer to the Ultimate Riddle ties into some of Davepeta’s ideas. If your personality, the rules of your behavior are a fundamental archetype that goes beyond each individual self, then the answer to whether it matters if one self of yours makes it through to victory is an emphatic YES. You are all of those people, and by winning one round with Skaia, you’ve won the whole game, despite all the arbitrary challenges and deaths it heaps upon you along the way.

This may strike some as too positive for Skaia’s brutality, or again, some way of excusing flaws in many characters’ arcs, or unfair things that happen to them. To be fair, I don’t know that Davepeta’s necessarily meant to be taken as authoritative or the voice of Hussie. They may simply be offering a purrspective.

Hussie not choosing to come right out and engage with the Ultimate Riddle leaves the question of Dead Marios and what they mean for the victorious versions of our cast very open. I like that in some ways—let the reader decide—but I can’t help but wish we had more to work with in making that decision. Plus, it might have brought the thematic messages of Homestuck all the way home to tie them more closely to our characters and their experiences—character development being one of the things most people found most lacking in the ending.

NEXT TIME: All that wacky gnostic stuff probably

Dean being such a protective, caring Dad to Claire - especially when she got bitten - was one of the best things I’ve seen in this episode. He just couldn’t bear witnessing the possibility of her death that he had to leave the room.