Letters Column in November 2011: That Languidly Dipped Ritz

Posted on November 23, 2011 by Jenna

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Some announcements precipitate from the aetherium! (It’s like the ether, but more, you know, I, um, well!)

First, I am RPG Geek of the Week at RPGGeek.com even as we speak. You could go there and post, I don’t know, pressing questions you have for me like what I like to eat for breakfast or how I cope with a world where people think holding up signs like “Get a Brain Morans” is OK or whether I like to unscrew my Ritz cracker cheddaresque filling sandwiches and languidly dip each half in milk.

I don’t!

But you can ask.

Second, Chibi-Ex is approaching the end of its first chapter! Artists who may be interested in doing a guest strip between chapters, people who have thoughts on how best to produce the first chapter in print form, and others with commentary on it should comment here!

Third, there is going to be another Avatar Day over at the Eos forums this weekend. Come and get your Nobilis character sketched! ^_^

Finally, I am still drowning in Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine stuff and in fact it is getting a little in the way of Hitherby even at one a week. :( It is, to be honest, getting in the way of eating and sleeping, as it has for months. My apologies for this! It’s almost done. (There’ll probably be a ton of tidying and editing to do, but I’ve almost got the whole picture down in words, finally, after a few weeks of relative quiet preceded by months of continuous vrrrrrm.) Afterwards I hope to rev Hitherby, learning Chinese, exercise, eating, sleeping, and all that kind of thing up quite a bit in their priority. ^_^

P.S. Thank you so much for your kind words and comments, everyone who has posted them! I look at Hitherby comments every day, even when there aren’t any. So does Soula, I bet, I mean, not Hitherby comments, but, you know, //Nightlights// comments, so please feel free to make them in the full knowledge that they shall be enjoyed!


The phrase “righteous as the stars” rings very oddly to me. From my point of view, you might as well say “as philosophically deep as sunlight” or “as nutritious as the alphabet”. “Righteous” is a human concept, and the stars are removed from human things; they are what they are, neither righteous nor unrighteous. The concept is irrelevant to them.

(And now that I post that, I recall that we have at least one example in Hitherby of a star falling to earth as a sapient entity, plus a tag for “removing stars” which I’ve never quite grasped…so in Hitherby what I just said may well be utterly false.)
— David Goldfarb, on The Lion

Heehee! Righteous in Hitherby is a weighty and relatively negative term regardless. Righteous, after all, means that you do not need to examine your motivations for correctness; you are righteous, you possess entire sanctification, you have an unsubstantiated assertions fairy or a bit of God in your pocket backing up everything you say. And do the stars then have righteousness? Does the Truth?

I shall say again,

in the voice of our narrator, perhaps,

that the Dominion bent down to meet the monster, and the monster was standing on the roof, and the monster spread his wings. And from that point forward, he was Axiom. He was Correctness. He was as righteous as the stars.

And if it is possible for the stars to glitter falsely, that is a thing we cannot know.


It’s also interesting that Martin is in the role of Persephone, with their destructive tendencies and his interest in her and all.
— Xavid, on “The Pancake, and the Throne”

They are very similar creatures in some ways, although Martin would point out that Persephone doesn’t have anywhere near so fine a set of goggles. Why, she might not even be cynical at all!

Also, she has feet. Have you ever seen Martin’s feet in a story? CASE. CLOSED.


Since both this and Tantalus I/IV are canonical, it makes me wonder. Did the three gods become demons after exploding, and then hang around for a long time before working for their betrayer’s descendant? If so, I’d expect there to be some reaction to hearing their own history. Maybe they were extracted from someone who knew the history of Tantalus and thus created demons in the form of the three gods, leaving them as actually separate entities.
— Xavid, on Micah (1 of 2)

It’s a good question!

My theory at the time was that they survived but were much diminished; or that they’d gone to the afterlife, but, being gods, and with the doors to the afterlife not being completely sealed in Hitherby and particularly not in the parts of Hitherby influenced by Greek myth, they’d eventually gotten out again, perhaps with Tantalus or Persephone or someone else. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the decision, because it felt cheap, but at the same time my instincts absolutely insisted that it was the case—that it had to be them both times.

I’m working on a more in-depth exploration of what actually went on there, but I got bogged down in the story of Pandora and haven’t gotten all the way to Tantalus’ story yet. ^_^ We’ll see how good my instincts were!


Has there been previous discussion about the treasure wheel of the world being a wogly? I mean, obviously it is in a literal fashion (it’s a lacuna in the story; woglies represent lacunae, therefore the treasure wheel is a wogly), but even literally — it’s a spinning thing with a hole in the center, with counter-intuitive results, thus a wogly.

Moreover, the upside down wogly in this story clearly is -actually- the treasure wheel. Thus it offering the weight of the world; taking responsiblity for something also gives you power over it. And on top of that, I’ll note the tags: Tags: Love, Treasure Wheel
–mneme, on The Weight of the Contradiction

You know, I don’t know if there has been!

I vaguely remember some people grasping the connection, but I’m not sure. I wouldn’t say that it is inherently a wogly, though—or, rather, hm. See, here’s the thing. The Buddha pointed out that anatman—that there’s some inherent, serious problems with the idea of purpose, dharma, eternal souls, etcetera. He looked straight into the treasure wheel of the world and said, “You don’t exist,” or possibly even, as XKCD would have it, “You’re a wogly!”


Jane has occasionally pushed the idea that this was the Buddha doing something, rather than observing something. That we didn’t have to live in a world with anatman, but rather started living in such a world because the alternative was everybody suffering, and for forever. If you let people have inherent purposes and magic and eternal natures and souls and things like that then wouldn’t they live lives full of desire and ignorance? Wouldn’t they spend their whole lives wanting things they couldn’t have and getting into all manner of trouble? They would! That would totally be exactly how it would be.

Whether that makes Hitherby a modally impossible world or an unfortunate misappropriation of Buddhist concepts, though, I cannot say!


Woo, Nobilis! Any idea when those of us who missed the Special Edition will be able to order hardcopies? *totally not impatient at all*
— Xavid, on “Eaten by Nobilis”

It should be in stores now, although I don’t know when you’ll be able to get it from Eos directly. Soon!


I am fully prepared to admit that nobody in the cast seems likely to murder the monster, or able to. But really, why *shouldn’t* I be supreme executive of France?
— Rand Brittain, on “The Pancake, and the Throne”

I can think of no good reason, and I think I speak for everybody when I say that I’d be behind you 100%!


I called my FLGS about Nobilis 3e the other day. They seemed unaware that any such thing was in the offing. (And their computer was down so they couldn’t check. It wasn’t brick-and-mortar retail’s proudest day.)
— ScrewyAnathema, on “Eaten by Nobilis”

In fairness I don’t think anything’s ever going to compare to the day brick-and-mortar retail brought down the Third Reich. I mean, seriously, god damn that was heroic. The Greatest Cybergeneration indeed.

Don’t have anything to say about recent Hitherby, and probably won’t for some time, since I’m in the process of rereading from the beginning, to refresh my memory and then to catch up from where I drifted off some years ago (some time after Unclean Legacy, I think, but not sure exactly where).

A paragraph of It’s Only Wounds (I/I) sent me into helpless bitter tears earlier this morning. Will attempt to persevere nonetheless. Tantalus(I/IV) had me repeatedly in stitches. That helps a bit.
— ScrewyAnathema, on “Eaten by Nobilis”

Thank you for your kind words.

I want to say more here but I don’t know what to say. So I won’t!


I have to admit, I never made that connection between “Cooking” and “Reinterpreting Bad Milk”. Of course, those two entries were almost a year apart.

In other news:

This is me completely ignoring that attempted play on “lemur” and “lemming”. Phhbbbtbt.
— David Goldfarb, on “In Which Travel Kind of Throws Me”

Ha! I should say that after l’époque I have spent in la Chine that I am far, far better equipped than you to say what is the proper meaning of lemming. Perhaps it is la vous who attempts to play too casually avec la langue sacrée.


“It’s Only Wounds” hits me hard as well…not least because of the coincidence that my sister who killed herself was named Erin.

(A sense of fairness compels me to note that our mother resembles the mother in the story in — to borrow a phrase from another Hitherby story — only the vaguest and broadest respects.)
— David Goldfarb, on “Eaten by Nobilis”

And may there be a thousand brightnesses beyond this mortal vale; and an end to sorrows while the joys only increase.


Rereading this really makes me want to hug Erin. But it also makes me wonder if her actual power’s different from what everyone thinks it is, given that the first promise isn’t the one that works.
— Xavid, on It’s Only Wounds

“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Incidentally, does anyone know why someone named Rainer Maria Rilke is a German poet and not a My Little Pony pegasus? I don’t understand.


Oh yeah, and the bit about Melanie being destined to be eaten was not so much an argument against her being redeemable as an argument that she’s unlikely to join the Gibbelins Tower crew.
— David Goldfarb, on “In Which Travel Kind of Throws Me”

Bah, maybe the whole crew is drowning forever even as we speak, did you think of THAT?

… but they’re not. They would have complained. I mean, maybe not Emily, and Iphigenia might put up with it, and Jane might for a while until she got bored of drowning and all the different drowning games she and the drowning reindeer could come up with, and certainly Sid would probably just sit there being all too polite to stop drowning, but I don’t think Mrs. Schiff would put up with it. Not for an instant!


So, here’s the thing that gets me about Tarzan:

Raised by apes.
Only learnt English from books – he understands written English, but never learned to associate the letters with sounds. It’s a plot point that at first, he communicates with Jane only through written notes.

So where did he learn how to spell Tarzan?
— Michael, on “Eaten by Nobilis”

You have to understand that even among the apes it was impossible to escape the barrage of “talk to your doctor about TARZAN” advertisements for the eponymous antidepressant and opiate* that was so popular at the time.

  • aka, laudanum


Look, I questioned Tara equivalence because the tags are distinct, but there is only one Melanie tag. Dare you question the sacred truth of the tags?

(I guess the logical alternative would be someone else in the cast playing Melanie playing someone else to analyze her contradictions without her presence. But I still hold out hope. ^_^)
— Xavid, on “In Which Travel Kind of Throws Me”

Speaking of tags!

My tag list has been infiltrated with invisible spam, which is part of why I’ve stopped paying careful attention to tags lately. Like, if I try to tag something with Melomids by typing “Mel” and waiting to see if I already have such a tag, I’ll get “p*yday loansMelomids.” Does anyone know what to do?

  • I starred the a just to reduce getting indexed by that phrase. It was actually an a!**

** also this is actually happening even though I’m about to make a joke about it. It is annoying! They are not actually visible in my accessible tag list.


There’s also a “John” tag. Are you seriously going to suggest that Tainted John becomes part of the Tower crew?
— David Goldfarb, on “In Which Travel Kind of Throws Me”

Yeah! How dare you question the sacred talk to your doctor about TarzanJohn tag?*

  • in retrospect it wasn’t a very good joke.


Hmm, I’d always thought that Hades got what he wanted, and Persephone did make “death, not life, into a mystery”. But maybe he didn’t; traditionally she only ends up having to spend part of the year in the underworld, so maybe her power affected life in part and death in part.
— Xavid, on Hades

It’s possible! Certainly death is pretty mysterious.


That’s all for today! Don’t forget to check out my googleplus or the googleplus for Hitherby!

More soon. ^_^

Best wishes,