Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 69: A Series of Faux Cat Mysteries

Introduction

Part 68 | Part 69 | Part 70 >

Act 6 Act 2, Part 4 of 6

Pages 4470-4516 (MSPA: 6370-6416)

This post is now a week too late to be the anniversary special. I guess it’s still sort of the de facto anniversary special? 

We now switch focus over to Roxy and the first interesting bit we get is her examining her collection of dead cats. The narration says about one of them:

The biggest one has been around for as long as you remember, encased in that glass-like material. You’ve considered giving it a name, but it always struck you as a little morbid to name a dead cat. 

Yet another subversion of a longstanding motif in the comic; in this case, different people giving animals different names of different genders. In this case I guess it’s only fair that happens because the cat has already gotten two names. Besides, it’s yet another recurring thing that’s gotten a bit stale. That motif happens again later on with Serenity the firefly, but in that case it’s a somewhat more unexpected thing to happen.

As far as I can tell, Roxy’s fetch modus is just a “plain” modus with a bottle storage gimmick? It looks like it should be really complicated and weird but it really doesn’t seem that way to me.

Calmasis has a striking resemblance to Hussie’s self-insert; more on that when he see him dressed that way.

Roxy then examines her Complacency of the Learned stuff, and this is where we learn stuff about adult Rose’s novels. Their descriptions are laden with symbolism, but the kind where it’s really unclear a lot of the time what stuff means. I’ll go over stuff and try to decipher symbolism as I go.

Some original edition cover art from one of the books. 

It features the androgynous young apprentice, Calmasis, who throughout the series plays the roles of antihero and chief antagonist. S/he convinces fellow disciples to rebel against Zazzerpan’s vaunted Complacency, and one by one hunts down each wizard. All twelve are killed but the Predicant Scholar himself, forcing a showdown. 

The poster depicts the notorious chess match between Calmasis and Zazzerpan. Zazzerpan had a reputation for being unbeatable. He had never lost a match, even to the gods. But his apprentice was able to beat him in the wizard’s duel by first becoming checkmated, and through some unprecedented enchantment, continuing to play beyond the death of the king. 

OK, let’s see what I can do…

Calmasis is equivalent to both Calliope and Caliborn, but the chess match between Calmasis and Zazzerpan is equivalent to that between the two cherubs even though Calmasis is pretty clearly analogous to both of them. Also it’s impossible to tell which is the good guy and which is the bad guy. Not to mention the unclear symbolism in the fate of the battle. So what we have so far kind of loosely symbolizes stuff, but in a way that’s all tangled up and twisted around. It’s later revealed that those books were intended as allegorical storytelling of stuff like the Condesce’s life, so here’s what I think Rose might have done with that. I bet she made her books symbolic of stuff, but twisted all the symbolism to the point where people are sort of meant to decipher and unravel all that crazy symbolic stuff. 

Let me think about that a little more. Maybe in some cases Calmasis is equivalent to Calliope while Zazzerpan is equivalent to Caliborn, and in other cases it’s the other way around? Occasionally people debate about the Calmasis symbolism and whether it should come to pass so I guess that was my two cents on it. I almost want to talk more about the cherubs’ narrative roles with god tier Calliope and all that but maybe I’ll save that for when we start going through Caliborn’s rise to power.

But from reading this description of the book, one thing is clear: Rose and Dave’s media in the scratched universe both in some way transcend what makes regular famous books and movies popular. Rather than just being compelling tales, the Complacency of the Learned books are compelling in the sense that the books’ very nature is exceptional, with the complex storylines that are impossible to understand. It’s sort of like how Mulholland Drive is deliberately made as a story that’s impossible to understand and fully put together, and is compelling in that regard.

I believe a similar thing goes for the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff movies, but in a much more straightforward way. As with Cool and New Webcomic, ironically bad stuff can also be weirdly amazing, and with a lot of underlying meaning that is tangled up not through plot threads and twisting symbolism, but through layers of irony.

In a nutshell: CotL is similar in appeal to Mulholland Drive, and the SBaHJ movies are basically the same as Cool and New Webcomic. 

You love your mom’s books and find them heavily inspiring, but you can’t help but feel the work is exhaustingly heavy-handed at times. You kind of prefer to write more lighthearted things. Actually crack a joke now and then, you know? 

As the narration makes it clear, Roxy’s taste in literature is quite different from Rose’s, and generally more lighthearted. It seems that in the scratched world, Rose’s style is purely serious, while Dave is on the other extreme with his sheer absurd humor. It almost feels like Dirk and Roxy inherit traits from both of their respective ancestors even though it’s technically the other way around. But with all four Derse dreamers, it’s clear through their works of writing—Complacency of the Learned, SBaHJ, Detective Pony, and Wizardy Herbert—that they have their distinctive styles that all connect together in a way.

Your cat FRIGGLISH hops down on the bed to greet you, and immediately situates himself on something important, one of your CREATIVE WRITING JOURNALS. 

You named him after your favorite wizard from CotL. He was just such an endearing, bumbling fellow, before he was murdered. Calmasis put an insidious curse on him, which caused him to go insane over several years. He began filling a book with all of his arcane knowledge, which was said to be limitless. The tome grew to monumental proportions, and became a virtually unreadable patchwork of impenetrable erudition. When the young wizard finally caught up with him, he was a quaking, incoherent madman. S/he put him out of his misery by crushing him to death with his own massive text. 

You just think it’s a fitting name for him for some reason. The macabre demise notwithstanding, of course.

With foreshadowing as blatant as this, I’m almost not sure if readers are even meant to think “called it!” when the cat’s death finally happens. It’s just that obvious.

Technically, only one of these books is yours, the writing journal. You’re pretty secretive about your writing. Sometimes even you can hardly bear to read it. You are highly aware of the formidable writerly shadow cast over you, and can be critical to the point of embarrassment over your work. Just how drunk WERE you when you wrote this???, you often wonder to yourself. You don’t think you’ll be peeking at it soon. Maybe later. 

I really like the sort of “inverse parallelism” with Rose here. Both Lalondes are secretive about their writing because it’s embarrassingly unreadable, but for the exact opposite reasons. Rose’s writing is unreadable because it’s just so wordy and flowery; Roxy’s for the exact opposite reason, because it’s incoherent and drunk.

The other book is pretty clearly the code used to create GCat, the alpha kids’ first guardian. The fact that she successfully appearified it implies quite a bit about the cat’s origin, but for some reason the full story is never made explicit. Given the clues in the comic it’s mostly not that hard to guess, but there’s still just enough ambiguity for it to be uncertain, especially considering the clear way we see the origin of the other two first guardians. It’s a decent question whether it would be better off if that plot point was made explicit and clear, and whether that’s another example of the comic more cutting off than actually ending. Although we’ve probably passed the stage where that would happen, it’s still worth asking questions like, what event triggered Jake to write that code? Besides it could probably be elaborated on in words or something. God I almost wish I had a list of epilogue hopes handy because I’d definitely add that to the list, but it would probably be easier to make a list of stuff I don’t want to happen in the epilogue.

Eh, I sort of like the sendificator being mistaken for a microwave better than this being mistaken for a ray gun.

It isn’t a ray gun. It’s your APPEARIFIER! 

Pretty much the only Crockertech you can bring yourself to use. It’s just too handy not to. 

You just plug in the coordinates you want to nab something from, point it where you want to appearify, and shoot. It’ll make that thing appearify right then and there, assuming no temporal conflicts. Piece of cake! 

As with Dirk, Roxy seems to be used subtly as a pawn of the Condesce by using just one piece of her technology; however, in her case, we have much more clear examples of that being used to support her schemes.

Roxy decides to sip her martini and…

DAMMIT!

This is the wrong stock reaction. You will not stand for this outrageous misrepresentation of your beverage enjoyment.

Roxy’s half of the selection screen has a lot of little bits in common with Dirk’s half; in both cases, we get a little meta joke about those overused stock graphics.

Roxy drinks her martini and falls asleep, leading to the first substantial flash in this sub-act, titled [S] Roxy: Sleepwalk.

Note that dream Frigglish is in a different place in Roxy’s room from waking Frigglish.
I think this hints at quite a bit, but I’m not sure totally what.

Once again, only certain items in Roxy’s room are “real”: the GameGrl magazines, the wizard plushes, and Frigglish. It’s not totally clear to me why those are real, though I can take a guess. Her plushes are probably real because they’re what she fell asleep, Frigglish because he’s a living being, and I have no idea why the magazines are colored like that. I will say that I’m starting to think that living things in the comic simply have dream selves whenever they’re inside a player’s room. I think dream selves are supposed to work like that, as projections of sorts? I don’t know.

As Roxy leaves her room, we see dream Dirk with blood all over his clothes; this is an example of the story’s narrative being slightly different depending on whose perspective we start with. In this case, the blood gives us a little mystery arc that only exists if you start from Roxy’s perspective, because from Dirk’s perspective we first see where the blood came from (killing HB) and then the blood on his body.

Dirk takes off his shades, presumably to listen to the Horrorterrors, revealing a close-up of his eyes. Weirdly, this is something Dirk does, but we only get to see it from Roxy’s perspective. We get to see the flash from his point of view on these two pages (both of which I previously skipped over), but we don’t get to see this scene shown above.

As Roxy enters a dream bubble, we get a rather odd callback to Rose’s leap of faith in [S] Enter. It’s odd because it’s a rather different scene from what it calls back to, and I don’t see much of a connection between them, nor do I see a deeper narrative meaning. I think it’s mostly meant as an “easter egg callback” so to speak, in contrast to the callback scene that concludes the flash.

Not shown: the dream bubble pastiche planet Roxy entered.

I think it’s pretty obvious that the dream montage in this flash is meant largely as Hussie having some fun making cool-looking dream bubble scenes. It’s largely made out of the trolls’ planets; I think readers might be meant to see how many different scenes they can catch. I’ll try to list stuff as I go along:

  • Planet that’s a combination of LOLAR, Earth, Skaia, and LOWAS
  • Aradia’s planet (shown above)
  • The lab next to Rose’s house (shown above)

I never noticed until now that a tiny bit of LOHAC is in this scene as well, to the left of Dave.

Starting with the scene shown above, we get to see our first glimpses of day-to-day life on the meteor, as background events in the form of Dave exploring dream bubbles and meeting the dead trolls, who from here on out serve as mostly background characters, the main exception being Vriska. We see Equius surrounded by two Aradiabots, which sort of serves to let us know that he’s happy enough in the dream bubble afterlife, which is to say perpetually aroused. Even though his thing for robotic Aradia is creepy as hell, if that’s what makes him happy then what do I care, especially since it was already established a long time ago that he’s deranged.

Also we see the follwing memories above:

  • bits of LOHAC
  • Equius’s land

Only in Homestuck could this picture seem even remotely shippy.

Next we see a combination of Rose and Kanaya’s memories, which I think may be a very subtle hint at something going on between them. I say this because later on Karkat and Nepeta’s memories are combined in a similar way in a scene that I promised to say more about a few months ago.

Also, adding to the list of memories we get:

  • the deserts of post-apocalyptic B1 Earth (probably WV’s memories)
  • Kanaya’s home (shown above)
  • Rose’s home shortly before entering the game (shown above)
  • Rose’s home after entering the game

It’s not just because of ship fulfillment that readers flipped their shit at this scene. It’s also because Nepeta and Karkat’s eyes were originally rendered as if they were alive, which turned out to be an art mistake.

And here is the scene I promised to say more about. We see ghost versions of Karkat and Nepeta standing next to each other, which readers apparently FLIPPED THEIR SHIT about. Though that sounds ridiculous at a glance, it’s an understandable reaction when you consider Nepeta’s conversation with Jaspersprite about her attraction to Karkat. This scene serves basically as the fulfillment of the idea that she’d need to die to get to be with Karkat, making it implicit that at least some dead Nepeta out there did indeed get what she wanted. It’s only a brief purely visual scene, but when we’re talking about a character as minor as Nepeta it’s quite a generous resolution.

Continuing the list of memories further:

  • Terezi’s home
  • Terezi’s planet (shown above)
  • Karkat’s planet
  • Nepeta’s planet (shown above)

Are those weird plush piles the closest the meteor crew has at this point to beds?

The flash concludes with a callback to the end of [S] Jade: Pester John: Rose and Roxy approach each other, and Roxy opens her eyes to catch a glimpse of Rose just before they both wake up. This marks the start of a recurring motif in the comic, where Rose and Roxy’s reunions consistently and repeatedly get cut short. It also marks the story starting to heavily tease the prospect of beta and alpha kids meeting in person; more on the odd way that comes to pass when I guess that sort of happens?

What the heck was that all about? 

Oh, hey there Frigglish. He greets you with a sly, conspiratorial purr, almost as if he was privy to what you dreamt. Which is impossible of course. 

Sometimes this bit is taken as a hint that the cat has some special psychic stuff going on, which was further supported early on with the whole thing of his genetic code secrets and all that. But when you consider that animals in the comic tend to have dream selves (this includes Dave’s crows and Mutie in Rose’s room), it suddenly doesn’t seem all that special.

Even though we’ve already gone through this conversation, I’ll still go through parts of it with how it reads differently from Roxy’s perspective.

TG: its still so frustrating 
TG: tellin jane about the dangers 
TG: and even if shes being polite i just know she thinks im fulla crap 
TG: about EVREYTHING 
TT: We settled this too. She’ll believe everything eventually. 
TT: Why bother working so hard to convince her? 
TG: well i dont even do that for the most part 
TG: but it gets tiring and saddening 
TG: knowing that 
TG: even when were not activly talkin bout it 
TG: that my best friend cant bring herself to believe some really basic things about my life 
TG: like the shitty things the baroness has done to us 
TG: or about our upbringin 
TG: like 
TG: do u know how misrable it is for your bff to doubt you 
TG: when you tell her your mom is dead 

Remember how I said that Roxy and Dirk talking about the stuff they did in the dream world reads best from Dirk’s perspective? Well, this bit actually reads better from Roxy’s perspective, because the last line comes off as more of a shock when we just learned quite a bit about B2 Rose’s life.

TT: Rox. 
TT: I hope you’re not thinking about sending her one of your batshit ~ATH scripts. 
TG: on thas sobject 
TG: i am miss zuipperpips 
TT: Miss Zuipperpips? 
TT: The amount of sense you haven’t been making is un-fucking-real. 
TT: Just go take a nap. And don’t even think about sending her that file. 
TT: Are you listening? 
TG: hnnn 
TG: i will take what u say 
TG: underd serisous advicement…, 
TG: *WONK* ~_? 

Roxy being weirdly airheaded comes off as even more ridiculous from her perspective, for some reason. Maybe since we’re focusing on her right now, we’d expect her to have a little more sense in her head at this point?

Roxy then talks to Dirk’s responder and I think I promised to discuss the alpha kids’ relationship drama around this time. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), I still don’t really feel like it. I have this weird feeling I’ll constantly delay this discussion, but I still think I’ll likely talk about it somewhat in my next post.

TG: so 
TG: looks like it just 
TG: the two of us 
TT: Looks that way. 
TG: fancy thay 
TG: * that 
TT: Guess I can go back to talking in orange. 
TG: why yes 
TG: u should def slip in 2 something more comforfable 
TG: while i pour you some robo wine 
TG: we have 
TG: much to discuss 
TG: *tents fingerns together w sultry cunning* 
TT: Actually, I think I like the red better. 
TG: ok i can check the cellar 
TG: might have some choice years left of the pinpot noir 
TT: I don’t doubt the choiceness of those pinpots, but I’m not really here to screw around. 
TT: There’s something important to talk about. 

(1) It’s interesting that Dirk’s responder makes the decision to consistently type in red from Roxy’s perspective, not Dirk’s. This may be an early example of him breaking free from his original role in a narrative sense: it’s only referenced as a background event from the perspective of the guy he is based on.

(2) Even though on this page Roxy is commanded to “flirtlarp”, that only happens briefly until Dirk’s responder decides to cut that out, almost as if the comic actually cared the slightest bit about not having characters talk about stupid things.

Next they discuss Dirk’s feelings for Jake and I guess I have no choice but to say a bit about that. You win this round, Hussie.

Dirk’s responder keeps going on and on about those romantic feelings through crazy metaphors that run in the family, but Dirk himself hasn’t talked much about it, only saying a few brief things starting on this page. I think implications are that his responder might be more into this whole thing than Dirk himself is, especially considering Dirk’s line, “Wait, whose fantasy were we talking about again?” in response to his responder going on about those Jake fantasies. His responder says he sometimes experiences hints of his prior feelings for Jake, which goes hand in hand with him playing a part in starting that trainwreck of a relationship, and presumably coming as close as possible to fulfilling his fantasies. I think at this point Dirk is just starting to realize Jake isn’t that great, which he accepts as fact after breaking up with him, but his responder is mentally unable to mature past that phase.

Hey that was actually kind of interesting. 

TG: damn 😦 
TT: What? 
TG: sry im listening 2 u really 
TG: but i fucked uuuuup 
TG: got to make sure jane doesnt run that file i sent 
TT: The virus? You sent it already? 
TT: Sneaky. 
TG: waahh im such an ass 
TT: What are you two talking about? 
TG: the bot line is 
TG: im a horribule friend 😦 
TT: You could just tell her you sent an exploding file. 
TG: noo then shell think im shitty 
TG: and right now she thinks im super NOT shitty 

I’m starting to feel stupid for saying Jane was the only one to blame with the whole virus thing. First Dirk warned Roxy not to send the file, she didn’t listen, then she warned Jane not to run it, and she didn’t listen. The whole thing is more a symbol of the alpha kids in general having a hard time being good trustworthy friends, a motif that becomes a lot more prominent later on when their drama kicks into high gear.

TT: If it’s me going through with this, hypothetically, 
TT: I’m not dropping some limp wristed shucks buster on his ass, and praying to the horse gods of irony for reciprocation. 
TT: There will be no rocking back and forth on pigeon-toed feet, while my face flushes with the blood of a thousand timid bishies. 
TT: I will not hold one tentative hand behind my head like a flustered asshole from an Asian cartoon, nor will an oversized bead of sweat overlap ludicrously with my visage. 
TT: If it’s me, I’m going all out. 
TT: Oceans will rise. Cities will fall. Volcanoes will erupt. 
TG: uuh 
TT: What I’m saying is, it’s going to be a scene, and bystanders need to brace themselves. 

I think these ridiculous metaphors are supposed to foreshadow some grand event that happens later on? I’m pretty sure all this foreshadowing amounts to Dirk sending Jake his severed head and forcing him to kiss it, which isn’t exactly a romantic gesture, but it’s probably a better thing to happen than, uh…

OK, I can’t think of anything else Dirk would do to confess his love or whatever that matches even slightly with those metaphors. Let’s move on.

TT: As ever, I remain an automatonous and dispassionate witness of the oddity that is human interaction, while maintaining no investment in either outcome. 
TG: yeah bs 

Roxy is right, Dirk’s responder is actually all about meddling with the alpha kids’ relationships. It’s fun to pretend he’s a bystander in the whole romance thing who’s like “who the hell cares about that” because that’s what I’d probably relate to, but that’s not actually true.

Maybe making sure Roxy accidentally killed the cat is another reason Betty Crocker manufactured this gun?

As Roxy is about to appearify the book, GCat appears and does the first guardian thing where he does something douchey just to ensure what’s predestined to happen.

And so, the obvious happens. I almost wish this scene happened without us knowing why Jaspers needed to die (so Rose will find out that she could play Sburb to bring him back), because it would make for a cool mystery arc.

Come to think of it, the whole story arc that starts with the cat’s disappearance and ends with its prototyping is done very out of sequence. The order of events is as follows:

  • Roxy appearifies Jaspers and names him Frigglish
  • Frigglish is accidentally crushed to death
  • Roxy sends him back
  • Young Rose sees Jaspers dead, the funeral happens
  • Rose learns that she could play a game to bring back her cat
  • Sburb happens
  • Jaspers is prototyped

But order they’re shown in the story is:

  • Sburb happens
  • We learn Jaspers exists
  • In the past, Rose learns she could play a game to bring him back
  • We see Jaspers disappeared for two weeks and then reappeared dead
  • We see the funeral for Jaspers
  • Rose prototypes Jaspers
  • Jaspersprite hints at what happened during his disappearance
  • We see that Roxy is the cat’s new owner
  • Roxy accidentally crushes the cat
  • Roxy sends him back

I think that with the way it’s presented, Jaspers’ story consists of a series of foregone conclusions, and happens in a way that sort of avoids anything being a plot twist (the only exception being the reveal that Roxy owned him), or more specifically, has ALL the plot twists but only when you look back on it all and see the big picture.

Yep, he’s dead. Totally Sassacrushed. 

You just know that julep guzzling bastard is scrambling up his echeladder as we speak, chuckling to himself while he fills his pockets with ill-gotten boondollars. 

Go ahead, old man. Laugh it up. 

This bit of narration would probably normally qualify as black comedy, but for some reason it doesn’t, not for me at least. It’s just kind of too cruel of a joke to be funny in the proximity of a dead cat. Plus, look at Roxy’s face.

It’s probably best to just send him back to where he came from. Years ago, when you were exploring the lab, you found a machine somewhat similar to the ectobiology equipment. Without knowing what it did, you activated it, and out came this friendly cat in a handsome little suit. You still aren’t sure where he came from, though given the timestamp and coordinates on the machine, you have a feeling he belonged to your mother. If that is true, you feel bad about stealing her cat, let alone killing him. But you could never bring yourself to send him back. Until now, of course. She would probably want to know what happened to her disappearing cat, even if it meant discovering him dead a little while later. 

Much like Jake thinking Jade is just his grandmother in the past, it seems like Roxy is also heavily misled about the pre-scratch universe. In her case it almost seems like Skaia or whatever deliberately misled her like that, which makes me wonder how Jake can just straight up believe his grandmother has done whatever Jade talked about in her letters.

You swap the bottle with one dead cat in it for another. You often use this little guy to break in the planes, like an intrepid test pilot. 

Not while it’s in the bottle though. That would be ridiculous, since the bottles are sort of just inventory abstractions. 

It’s weird that the bottles are referred to as inventory abstractions when they seem almost like real objects with the way Roxy has to break them. But I guess it makes sense since the bottles must be able to constantly regenerate when she breaks them? I don’t know.

Callback to Rose scooting her private journal under her bed.

God damn I really should continue with my re-read of Problem Sleuth.

When Roxy turns on her fenestrated wall, things go full out Problem Sleuth with the way the window glows and makes the rest of her room look dark. This mythology gag seems like it might serve as a bonus for those who have also read Problem Sleuth, which is considerably fewer at this point than it was with those callbacks in the early acts.

But what’s interesting is, those windows aren’t an exact replica of the way they work in Problem Sleuth. In Problem Sleuth, the windows take you to the imaginary world when plugged in, but are rock solid when unplugged; in Homestuck, they take you to the Furthest Ring (equivalent to the imaginary world) when not plugged in, but when plugged in they serve as regular transportation devices.

After Roxy tests out the window with her mutant cat, she jumps in and we get a paragraph explaining how all that stuff works, almost as if it’s a new important game mechanic or something. The fenestrated wall stuff appears every so often in the comic but it’s not especially prominent, mostly as a nod to the author’s older work, and also sort of as a continuity nod device as shown when Vriska later uses one of those things to go to the Furthest Ring. But to be fair, it was kind of confusing at first when she tested it out with the dead cat like that.

When you are quite through with that tomfoolery, you find yourself in your household’s OBSERVATORY. 

You keep it very cool in here and use it to store pumpkins you’ve appearified from around the world. Especially from Jake. That guy is just stinking rich with pumpkins on his dumb tropical island. It would never occur to you otherwise to be so grabby with pumpkins, but they just happen to be the most easily appearifiable vegetable on the planet for reasons that make no sense. And it’s not like you can just stop swiping vegetables. You’ve got your own mysterious reasons.

Those mysterious reasons later turn out to be to feed the exiled carapacians who live around her, which means that’s sort of yet another mystery arc; the reveal for those reasons says a huge amount about her character.

UU: there yoU are! 
UU: tricky one to track down, yoU are. :u 
TG: oh yeh> 
TG: dunno why i been right here goofin around for hours 
UU: oh no doUbt! 
UU: methinks it has less to do with yoUr actUal whereaboUts as it does with yoUr virtUes as a hero of void. 

I almost think Roxy being hard to track might really just be about the way she likes to waste time endlessly falling through those fenestrated planes and that sort of stuff, despite what Calliope says. I know I said earlier I don’t like when people think her theories are wrong by default, but this kind of just a minor thing, not to mention that what I said is more of a random thought than an actual counter-theory.

TG: ok but you never say what stuff like that means when you say it tho 
TG: is this more casual spoilerz shit 
UU: caUsal! and yes, somewhat. however… 
UU: with these spoilers, by their natUre, the more time that passes for yoU the less relevant it becomes to gUard their secrecy. 
UU: as yoU approach yoUr entry, details i have obscUred will become more plainly evident. 

If you read between the lines, Calliope is basically saying that she’s not going to spoil stuff because it’s better if the kids find out on their own, which makes me think she really does believe to an extent that the alpha kids are characters in a story that she helps shape. This apparent narrative awareness matches her up with Caliborn and Doc Scratch, both characters who directly take over the story’s narration at points.

TG: so when u cant see me 
TG: when im doin my voidey thing or w/e 
TG: what do you see is it just a black screen 
UU: pretty mUch! :U 
TG: hmmmmm,.. 
UU: hmmmmm? 
TG: its just that footage of my mom does that too 
TG: like blacks out and stuff 
TG: mom was a notoirious scourge to the papayazzi 

I kind of want to say this is another example of role inversion being slightly a thing in the comic, but I’ve come to realize that sort of thing has only ever happened with Rose, and now with her post-scratch self as well. With that, I think I can safely say that “inversion” is really mostly just a Rose thing with the way she rejects roles and stuff.

UU: i Understand what yoU’re getting at, yes. 
UU: it is certainly possible that we may have common groUnd with oUr ancestors when it comes to oUr aspects, and the way oUr abilities reveal themselves to Us. i coUld not rUle this oUt. 
UU: bUt there is always more to examine. 
UU: for instance, a hero of life and a hero of doom have aspects as different as can be. 
UU: bUt if their classes are different enoUgh as well, that is, one active and the other passive, remarkably there is a chance they coUld end Up with very similar abilities! 
UU: player abilities may also manifest in ways in defiance with their aspects if they are heavily resistant to their trUe calling. or, if corrUpted in some way by an oUtside inflUence. 

Calliope consistently makes it clear that the definitions of all those classes and aspects are always very much multi-layered. This is another important thing to consider regarding the reliability of her exposition. A lot of readers tend to act as though their headcanons, especially those regarding the classpect system, are canonical fact. Calliope, however, pretty directly goes against that. The way she talks about the complexity of all those meanings especially seems to be telling readers as much.

UU: bUt it is rather clear to me yoU are one who embraces her aspect qUite heartily, even if yoU are not aware of it. ^u^ 
TG: so…. 
TG: deep down i am super psyched about nothigness 
TG: yeah souns about right 

Another relevant point that’s sort of made to fans in this conversation is that even though fans love giving themselves god tier titles through these personality quizzes and stuff, I think the whole point is that characters typically don’t see their story role coming at all, as Roxy demonstrates when she finds it absurd for her to be internally all about nothingness. Because of this, arguably those tests defeat the point of the whole title system.

TG: oh damn hey 
TG: i almost forgot i had a really short but cool dream i fugured you might like this 
UU: oh yes, everyone is having important dreams as we near oUr mUtUal entries. this is lovely! 

Roxy’s brief dream about seeing Rose has some parallels to Jane’s first dream on Prospit. Both are among the first things they talk about after being introduced, and also, both are sort of meant to vaguely hint at things happening. In Jane’s case it’s a vague warning that bad things are going to happen; in Roxy’s case, it tells her in a really obtuse way that she should indeed start up Sburb. More on that when she decides she will start the game after all.

Roxy then starts pushing Calliope for information by asking her about Rose and who she has babies with to make her, and we get this exchange:

TG: what if i guess stuff 
TG: is it 
TG: strider 
TG: does he like get ungay for a while or ssuch 
TG: u probably dont even know what that means on account fof being extra textrestrial 
TG: can aliens b gay too is that a thing 
TG: being space gay 
UU: Ummm. 
UU: u_u; 
TG: o man 
TG: embarrased alien is ambarrassed 
TG: heh sorry 
UU: i am not embarrassed, i jUst don’t know what yoU’re talking aboUt! 
TG: oh 

Calliope not knowing what being gay means is another red herring clue that suggests she is a troll. It seems like cherubs don’t have any such concept either, probably because of the strict rules of reproduction.

TG: but sersly is it him? 
UU: Um… 
UU: maybe? 
TG: or is it like 
TG: some ectobio shit instead 
TG: and a dude aint really invovled 
UU: Um… 
UU: maybe! :u 
TG: maaan wouldnt that just figure 
TG: that would suck! whyd you have 2 go and confirm my bleak dudeless future 
UU: i confirmed no sUch thing, roxy! 
UU: yoU are being frightfUlly difficUlt! yoU jUst keep pUshing and pUshing and i can maintain my composUre for only so long! 

The funny thing is, Calliope doesn’t have reason to hide that information from Roxy since having a baby isn’t something Roxy ended up doing in the future. Instead, Roxy correctly guesses Rose’s origin through wit alone.

UU: if yoU are really cUrioUs aboUt the events sUrroUnding yoUr daUghter’s origin, yoU can always ask her in person when yoU meet her. 
TG: so you mean 
TG: im going to meet her in the game 
UU: oh… 
UU: well, yes. 
UU: bUt i’m not sUre if i shoUld have revealed that jUst now! yoU see what happens when yoU pUsh me!!! 
UU: there is so mUch for me to keep track of, and it gets very difficUlt to remember what information to reveal at what time when yoU are flUstered. 

OK, now Calliope is just being ridiculous. It’s actually good that she revealed Roxy and Rose would meet, because it ends up convincing her to play the game. Though it’s understandable not to spoil tragic events that happen, withholding stuff like Roxy meeting her daughter is something that really makes me think about Calliope’s obsession with the alpha kids’ story.

TG: ok so without pushin and flustratin you 
TG: lemme just see if i have all my facts right 
TG: i will meet my cool as hell daughter from the future in this game 
UU: yes, basically. 
TG: and i will also meet my mother in this game 
UU: yes. 
TG: and the game will let me resurrect her from the dead and thats what im gonna do 
UU: the game provides a mechanism for the revival of the deceased, yes. it is called a kernelsprite, and yoU are free to gather remains of any dead party yoU choose, to revive that individUal in the form of a sprite. the sprite will then serve as a helpfUl spirit gUide on yoUr joUrney! 
TG: yeah but you cleverly dodged the q 
TG: thats how u say it works but WILL i do that 

As Roxy points out later, Calliope is terrible at doing the Doc Scratch thing where she leads people to believe false things without technically lying. She gives straight answers to some questions, but dodges others in a really blatant way. Doc Scratch did a much better job at dodging questions; when he doesn’t want to give a straight answer to a quest he always gives an omniscient smartass retort, which he regularly does so much that it’s hard to distinguish question dodges from douchey remarks.

Since Doc Scratch is partially Caliborn, one could say that the two cherubs are complete opposites regarding their ability to mislead people. Caliborn himself has lied through omission as well as we see later on.

UU: i believe i was very forthright in my answer! 
UU: if yoU play the game, yoU will meet yoUr daUghter. 
UU: if yoU play the game, yoU will meet yoUr mother too! 
UU: simple as can be. ^u^ 
TG: *narrows eyes with drunken suspicion* 

This is at least kind of an interesting lie of omission, since what Calliope doesn’t say is that Roxy meeting her mother and meeting her daughter are one and the same.

TG: so yeah to continue my confirmation spree 
TG: you are maybe kinda hinting there are ecto shenannies that lead to the birth of my daughter 
TG: just like i descended from my mom through some sort of simimar bio process 
UU: those are… 
UU: definitely some things which yoU believe coUld be trUe or not trUe! :u 
TG: lol u are such a shitty liar 
UU: i am not any kind of liar! 

Here Roxy directly calls Calliope a shitty liar, which she denies. This is another parallel with Doc Scratch: his statements tend to come off as lies but they technically aren’t, as do Calliope’s. She’s obviously struggling not to lie, and I guess doesn’t want to say “I can’t tell you that”?

TG: what is safe to tell me? 
TG: like what does it mean to be a rogue of void 
TG: thats what i am rite 
UU: yes! i can tell yoU plenty aboUt that. 
UU: a rogUe is a passive class. yoU see, there are passive (+) and active (-) classes. some more strongly passive or active than others. 
UU: the +/- distinction can mean many things, bUt coUld be qUite roUghly sUmmed Up in this way: active classes exploit their aspect to benefit themselves, while passive classes allow their aspect to benefit others. 

Calliope sounds so much like a fan theorist here it’s hilarious. I’m pretty sure she’s the only character in the comic who’s ever talked about classes as being passive or active. This is not to say that idea is bullshit, because I’m sure some readers take that exposition for granted which is probably kind of also the point, to provide some actual insight while simultaneously making fun of (or paying homage to?) fans.

UU: bUt of coUrse there’s plenty more to it, and that rUle is in no way absolUte. only a starting point for Understanding the dichotomy. 
TG: you mean kinda like 
TG: offensive vs defesive magic in an rpg 

As I’ve said several times through this post series, John tends to see his whole adventure in terms of a video game, like his ideas that by definition there must be a way to win, or that finding his father is a side quest that must end happy. Here, Roxy, his fellow team leader and character he’s often shipped with, is doing pretty much the same.

UU: classes always come in +/- pairs, with significant disparity between them. 
UU: while a rogUe is passive, a thief woUld be its far more active coUnterpart. 
UU: the rogUe and thief classes tend to be assigned to females. not exclUsively, bUt commonly! 
UU: other classes lean more toward male assignment, while others are exclUsively male, and jUst as many are exclUsively female. like my class. ^u^ 
UU: that’s a bit of a tangent thoUgh. to answer yoUr qUestion aboUt being a rogUe, i shoUld tell yoU both classes in +/- pairs tend to have very similar descriptions. 
UU: in this case, a rogUe or a thief is “one who steals.” qUite simple, really! 
UU: bUt whether the class is + or – makes all the difference. it is a great indicator as to how a hero will make Use of the aspect. 
TG: so basically 
TG: a thief is like the asshole class 
TG: the player who says step off shits mine suckas 

With Calliope’s class descriptions and the way Roxy sums it up, we get some pretty spot-on descriptions of existing characters when you think about it a little. Roxy pretty much exactly described Vriska here, which probably would’ve been cooler if that happened before we got to know what sort of person she is. Then again the thief class is one of those whose meaning is very easy to infer from the word alone.

TG: whereas 
TG: a rogue 
TG: is bascially robin hood 
UU: if that reference to yoUr cUltUre provides a sUitable comparison, then absolUtely. :U 
TG: so im essantially the robin hood of void 
TG: im still not sure 
TG: wtf that actually means 
UU: Understandable. 
TG: i guess robin hods p cool tho 
TG: thiefin up loot from peeps who got too much 
TG: then all sugardaddyin it out 2 the needy like a boss 
TG: just dont have a clue how that works with void 
UU: yes, it is one of the more conceptUally nebUloUs pairings, i agree. 

The alpha kids’ classes and aspects seem to have a tendency to be matched together to create extreme pairings. Just Roxy’s title is a confusing pairing with an inherently confusing aspect, Jake’s is a combination of two things both tied to high levels of unrealized potential. As for Dirk, destroying souls in an inherently extreme sounding thing. I’m not sure about Jane though, since her title is the only one among the alpha kids that hasn’t been explicitly described in comic, and neither part of it has been explored much in the comic either. I don’t want to bash on characters too much, but one could say Jane’s title being sort of vague ties in with how a lot of people find her to be boring.

UU: and i can’t say i know a smashing good deal aboUt the natUre of the void player’s path, since the aspect is by definition inscrUtable to those it does not choose. 
UU: bUt i can at least tell yoU this. 
UU: if yoU are ever to enjoy fUll ascension as a rogUe of void, yoU will be able to do some completely astonishing things! 
TG: like what 
UU: oh no, yoU will not pry this oUt of me. 
UU: not to preserve caUsality, bUt to keep the sUrprise in store for yoU. 
UU: it woUld not be honoUrable of me to spoil the discovery, shoUld yoU be fortUnate enoUgh to realize yoUr potential. 

Something tells me this is a more reasonable excuse for Calliope to withhold information than other times, even though it’s technically the exact same reason as before. Maybe it’s because future potential superpowers kind of make sense as something kept a surprise?

TG: well 
TG: about that 
TG: i feel sorta stupid about this but 
TG: ive been giving all my friends this whole dramagic spiel about not wanting to even play this thing 
TG: and i might of fucked stuff up already 
UU: is that so? 
TG: its so 
TG: and i guess i still havnt decide what to do 
TG: there are props and cons 2 both things 
UU: woUld yoU mind listing them? 
TG: ok either i dont play 
TG: and i get this kinda passive aggressive revange at the witch for killing my mom 
TG: and thereafter keep staying here and being lonely 
TG: or 
TG: i do play and the spoips r as follows… 
TG: sweet powers 4 me 
TG: check 
TG: tri generational lolonde family reonion 
TG: check as fuck 
TG: meet all my friends 
TG: HECKACHECK 
TG: and smoe others stuff 
UU: all fine points. 
UU: is there nothing i can do to make the decision easier? 
TG: nah but thx 
TG: u already have anyway 
TG: i will probably play 

Here, Roxy is finally convinced that she should play Sburb despite the risks. I think learning about Rose is what tipped the scale in favor of playing. It also demonstrates that Roxy finally has no choice but to go through with the Condesce’s schemes. It seems like when she was against starting the game, she was the one who made an attempt to flip off destiny, but she ultimately followed through.

When Roxy jumps into the fenestrated plane, she comes across her dream self, which is live demonstration of her supposed attraction to the void and OH SHIT I THINK I REALIZED WHAT CALLIOPE MEANT BY THAT. Her dream self is always dozing off, literally to the void, and it’s a very much unconscious action.

Roxy’s half of the selection screen ends here. See you next time as OH GOD PLEASE WHY DOES THIS RELATIONSHIP DRAMA HAVE TO HAPPEN.

>> Part 70: A Friendship Permanently Ruined

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