Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 77: What Is "Actuality?"

Introduction

Part 76 | Part 77 | Part 78 >

Act 6 Act 3, Part 3 of 8 or so I hope but I really don’t know

Pages 4862-4877 (MSPA: 6762-6777)

I couldn’t resist having philosophy bullshit for a post title

Why did I have to stop in the middle of this exposition sequence? I’m sorry everyone.
Also as you probably haven’t noticed I’ve taken a bit of liberty ordering text and images.

Take a moment to appreciate this panel. Not enough people do.

TT: My bro did this too with his many fine films.
TT: Practically everything was a symbol for something. Either in mockery of the batterwitch, or conveying some hidden message to its audience. Each film was always rigorously picked apart for its head-scratching symbolic meaning.
TT: But he managed to accomplish all that without ever compromising the purity of his ironic vision, which I think was admirable.

Last post pretty much ended with me discussing the supposed symbolism in Rose’s books. Now we learn that Dave’s movies also had a crazy symbolism thing going on, but I guess we’re supposed to infer for ourselves what lies in there? Or maybe it’s more like how Homestuck references those comics and it’s probably intertwined with that.

GT: Your forebears are certainly entrepreneurial if nothing else.
GT: I can get behind the idea of making a killing if it means i also get to be as good at doing adventures as i hope to be.
GT: Did they ever bring the battle to the witchs doorstep or were the blows dealt strictly through public masquerades and theatrics?
TT: Yeah, they got pretty deep into the shit eventually.
TT: They were both very skilled combatants. I’m pretty sure she had some weird powers too.
GT: Powers you say?
TT: Communion with occult forces. Something like that.
TT: She knew things. Had visions. It’s why she was able to write those books, and more importantly, why Roxy and I were able to survive here. 

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Rose in the scratched universe had the exact same whole crazy knowledge thing going on as her other self. The explanation almost feels like handwaving stuff but given what previous stuff we’ve seen with the trolls and their ancestors’ abilities it kind of works fine, makes sense even.

GT: How?
TT: They knew we would be here some day. So they prepared for our arrival.
TT: I live in what used to be my bro’s old apartment four hundred years ago. The whole city is gone, but this one unit was somehow protected.
TT: He left some supplies for me here. Like a lifetime supply of orange soda in the crawl space, along with a fuck ton of SBaHJ merch. It was like discovering my own personal holocaust of bulbous jutting bottoms.
TT: Plus some weapons, some other gear. And a killer pair of shades. 

Meanwhile, Dirk’s description of the stuff his ancestor left him with feels heartwarming in this obtuse roundabout sort of way characteristic of Dave. These personality echoes are perhaps the most delightful thing about this whole sequence.

TT: I think her house must have been a kind of kernelized structure, like a potential colony. Something built to undergo modular self replication if activated.
TT: I’m sure her mom knew that. It’s been a good way for Rox to blend in.
TT: I stick out like a sore thumb here of course, but it hasn’t really been a problem yet. 

It probably takes a second to realize Dirk is talking about the Condesce being able to find and attack him and Roxy, which we already saw come into play right when the last act ended. It’s weird the way he indirectly references events of Jane: Enter that take place in the “present” so to speak.

GT: So…
GT: They knew you would show up in the future some day and prepared for that…
GT: Doesn’t that mean they also knew they weren’t going to be able to stop the witch?
TT: Probably.
TT: But they went down fighting anyway.
GT: Wow.
GT: Thats brave and kind of sad. 

Here’s that whole theme of predestination yet again, but presented in a much more emotional light. Going by this conversation, Dave and Rose knew the world was doomed to die but put up a fight against it anyway, which is sort of combining the two aspects I’ve noticed about characters’ responses to things being supposedly destined to happen.

TT: Ever hear of Guy Fieri?
GT: No?
GT: I dont think so.
TT: You’re fortunate then.
TT: He was an especially degenerate piece of filth.
TT: He used his connections and guile to wriggle into the spotlight, and then on to other positions of power.
TT: He somehow landed on the U.S. Supreme Court. Over the years, other justices started mysteriously disappearing without being replaced. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Guy Fieri landing on the Supreme Court technically isn’t new information; instead, this is a bit of sneaky foreshadowing that is fulfilled right here. The scary part is, it’s still not the slightest bit clear how that happened, which contributes to the chill of this whole apocalypse tale.

TT: After helping rewrite the constitution to form an incomprehensible patchwork of fascism, theocratic mandates, recipes, and bad rap lyrics, he weaseled his way up the ranks to become the High Chaplain of Interstellar War.
TT: I’m just gonna cut to the chase, cause really this ain’t a big history lesson here.
TT: He eventually came to be regarded as the third and final Antichrist.
TT: No other human in history was responsible for more death and suffering. 
GT: That boorish cur!!!
TT: Yes, that’s exactly the phrase I would use to describe someone responsible for the extermination of five billion people.
TT: It was just so uncivilized of him. 

And it turns out that foreshadowing amounts to a hell of a lot more than one could ever imagine. Absurdly more than one could even think this could amount to, I would argue. I haven’t even considered just how subtly that one page near the start of Act 6 hinted at one person destroying pretty much the whole world.

TT: By the time Presidents Jay and Dope were elected, western civilization had officially fucked itself over forever, and I think everyone knew it.
GT: Oh no.
GT: When does that happen?
TT: 2024. The last free election the world would ever see.
GT: So like…
GT: They were on the ticket together? As president and vice president?
TT: No, man.
TT: They were both president.
TT: They were the first Dual-Presidents of the United States of America. Also the last.
TT: They were also the first and last juggalo presidents. The founding fathers warned us about this, but nobody listened.
GT: They did? Warned us about what exactly?
TT: The Mirthful Executives.
TT: George Washington had prophetic nightmares about them. He tried to warn people, and get language amended to the constitution to prevent it.
TT: Like forbidding the election of what he famously described as “a pair of salty bards,” or “unruly jesters given to the sweet drink.”
TT: But everyone just thought he toked too hard on the colonial cannabis or whatever. 
 

As absurd as it is, the whole thing about the founding fathers warning the world about juggalo presidents is actually an interesting example of the whole mythology theme in the comic, which I’ve discussed before. In a weird way, it’s almost an extremely diluted example of urban legends in the comic coming true, disguised as something that makes people just think “hahaha so ridiculous”.

TT: They were swept into office on a wave of Faygo, and the presidential inauguration was the biggest Gathering of the Juggalos of all time.
TT: They all hosed each other down on the Whitehouse lawn with shitty soda. The “D.C.” in the capital thereafter officially stood for “Dark Carnival.” 

While all the previous stuff was honest to god story, this actually got a chuckle out of me even though I already knew about that. Talk about crossing the line twice right here. I’m starting to think the only purpose of all this juggalo stuff is for the sake of edgy dark humor. And that’s not a bad thing, I’ve come to regard black comedy as one of the comic’s defining principles.

TT: Of course their campaign was helped considerably by having support from the Baroness.
TT: In retrospect, people developed the impression that it was all a part of her sick sense of humor.
TT: There was this sense that she just loved the idea of delegating the extreme subjugation of the world’s population to a pair of demented clown rappers.
TT: Some have speculated this was just another way she was attempting to resurrect her previous model of governance, though this seems kinda far fetched to me.
TT: Who the fuck ever heard of an alien juggalo? To me this is about as stupid as the crackpot theories get.

And of course, none of this goes without hinting at some of the deeper juggalo lore that’s been going on throughout this comic. The whole comic uses that lore to turn an absurd cult fanbase into a serious plot point, simply out of being so absurd. Need I remind you, all this was simply born out of Gamzee being a juggalo parody character. I’d assume maybe the aspects of society he parodies were the most fun to turn into a serious plot point? If, say, Nepeta turned into a lunatic troll and roleplaying furries took over the world, that wouldn’t be quite as amusing or easy to take as a plot point.

TT: From the moment Fieri held up the bible to swear them in, and the three of them proceeded to publically defecate on it while freestyling rap lyrics…
TT: That was it. Everyone in the world watching it on TV just said, “Welp. Show’s over. Civilization was pretty cool while it lasted.”
TT: The next several grueling terms of their presidency was a weird combination of authoritarian practices. The Baroness used it as a puppet regime, while still basically giving them carte blanche to carry out their idiotic whims.
TT: Faygo was pumped through the plumbing instead of tap water. The new national pastime was having type 2 diabetes. And the national anthem was replaced by a 3 minute high-reverb audio clip of President Jay farting into a microphone while laughing.
TT: Chaplain Fieri was authorized to set up the death camps, in which anyone on the planet could be imprisoned if they were not deemed sufficiently “mirthful.”
TT: And so the cleansing began, priming humanity for its new ruler waiting in the wings. 

I swear this description of the ICP destroying the world keeps jumping back and forth between horrifying and hilarious, in a way that almost feels a little different from all the other black comedy stuff. Either that or exactly the same.

Note the guardian pose callbacks.

We learn that Dave challenged the clown presidents to a duel, and then in the very next panel he kills both of them, which is just so damn satisfying to see. It’s a very different effect from the kids’ guardians doing cool things, since this time around they’re grown-up versions of characters we knew from the start of the comic. I have basically nothing else to say about this.

Guardian poses again. For some reason that effect is crazy strong now when I’m rereading the comic.

Holy shit.

See above. We just so quickly see both of Dirk and Roxy’s ancestors do awesome things with this immense anticlimactic shock effect. I feel like the stuff Rose has done has often gone unappreciated so this is an especially satisfying sight.

Note all the zodiac symbols on the Condesce’s tiara or whatever that is.

TT: Reports of what happened to our ancestors after that are sketchy.
TT: There were no eye witness accounts I’ve found, but some believe they regrouped and confronted the Condesce herself.
TT: With all her high ranking officers dead, and the human population decimated and sufficiently groomed for her arrival, there was no reason to stay behind the scenes anymore.
TT: After those dreadful years of putting up with a more vulgar brand of authoritarianism, when she finally stepped forward to claim her throne, it actually came off as somewhat dignified. Elegant, in a way.
TT: She was no less severe, but at least she knew how to act like an empress. 

TT: But even if they did manage to confront her, there was no way they could win. She had too many crazy alien powers.
TT: Her boss supposedly had jacked her power level through the roof. I even heard, and don’t quote me on this, that she may have been over 9000.
GT: Heavens to betsy.
GT: That figure is just absurd.
TT: Yeah.
TT: And that’s not even to speak of the generic smorgasbord of other powers she was rumored to have.
TT: It gets hard to separate the fact from the urban myth.
TT: But for reference, if you want to believe it all, just picture all the X-Men combined into one sexy fish woman in a skin tight suit.
GT: Whoa momma.

Here the story starts getting a little weirder in terms of exposition vs. image accompaniment. Dirk speaks with a large degree with uncertainty about what happened to Rose and Dave after defeating the Condesce’s lunatic officers, while the images show what happened to them in a way that matches with his speculation. I almost want to say this degree of separation is an advantage of presenting Homestuck in this format but I can easily imagine it that way if the comic was a graphic novel or a TV show. Still, that’s the kind of unique effect that at least needs both text and visuals to display.

I still don’t totally get the broken sword thing. That’s probably the point.

Compared to the other guardians, Dirk’s and Roxy’s ancestors are at least given somewhat ceremonious ends. It’s the second time two of them have died together, but it feels somewhat honorable the way it’s shown, probably similar to Bro’s death scene where he died fighting Jack.

2019 EDIT: I think I meant “two guardians” (John’s father and Rose’s mother) by “two of them”, just to be clear.

And this is where the conversation deteriorates into all the classic “shit I remember all this!” stuff. It starts off like usual, but then…

GT: So whats the deal then? Wait.
GT: You said this is where they meet dead people too…
GT: Shit! Dirk are you dead? Are you a ghost!?
TT: No, dude. Chill. I’m fine.
GT: Then what the fuck is going on! Who am i talking to?
TT: Well, who are the people you talk to when you have a regular dream?
GT: What? Uh…
TT: Like just a boring normal dream, and there’s a person you’re talking to. Who is that?
GT: I dont know?
TT: It’s nobody. Just a projection of your own mind.
TT: Dream bubbles don’t always need to be shared by dreamers or dead people. You can go to sleep and wake up in one alone, reliving an old memory.
TT: Kind of like a normal dream. Until you remember it’s just a memory, which is where we are now. 

Here, for the first time in those dream bubble scenes things don’t really add up the way they normally do. And that stuff ends up being handwaved away through, yet again, “dream logic”. The story’s even pretty explicit about doing things that way, but at this point that’s pretty much the joke.

TT: You could view me as a projection of the real Dirk within your mind, as expressed through all of your thought patterns about him.
TT: So I’m kind of a splinter of his corporeal self who happens to live in your awareness.
TT: I’m a startlingly close approximation to the real thing, for all intents and purposes. 

[…]

TT: You were the one who put me here, with your intimate understanding of all his mannerisms and predilections.
TT: And a splintered existence is pretty much how he rolls.
TT: This is how shit is bro. 

If that wasn’t enough, the whole notion of Brain Ghost Dirk being a thing that exists is dismissed by the figment himself as just part of the typical pattern with his greater self. I’ve come to regard the comic handwaving this stuff as basically the whole point of things, which can be said about a lot of its less clear aspects. You just sort of have to understand that the comic doesn’t take itself seriously all the time, especially with the crazy nonsense in stuff like the trolls’ arc.

TT: Jake, what do you even know about someone’s actual self?
TT: What makes it actual? What is “actuality?”
GT: What a horseshitty question!
GT: I dont know anything about actuality i guess but i know some philosobabble horseshit when i dadblasted hear it.
TT: I’m just saying, this isn’t really your field of expertise.
TT: Dirk is the heart guy. He’s the one walking the path of self, even when he doesn’t know it. Like right now. 

If you read closely, here’s another recurring instance of the whole pattern with Dirk’s splinters, where they all act extremely condescending, especially in relation to the guy himself where Brain Ghost Dirk says the real Dirk doesn’t know how much his existence is splintered.

GT: But what does that mean? 
GT: And how can you really be made of only my thoughts when i dont even know what youre talking about sometimes? 
GT: Or when i didnt know some of the things youre telling me? Like about being in a dream bubble? 
GT: How can i tell myself about that stuff through brain ghost dirk! 
TT: Who says you don’t know those things on some level? 
GT: I dont think i do! 
GT: I have no business knowing those things. 
TT: Pages have a lot of untapped potential. 
TT: That’s practically all there is to the class, actually. 
TT: But when they eventually find it, look out. 
TT: And the ones who deal in hope? Shit, man. 
TT: I’m scared of you already, and I’m not even real.

Brain Ghost Dirk remarks that Jake’s class is really just about untapped potential which sounds to me like the author thinking of all the characters’ classes and aspects in much more simpler terms than, well, you know.

I just want to say, this whole brain ghost conversation is way too hilarious

GT: Are you sure you arent real?
GT: No offense but I kind of get the same smartass vibe from you as i do from the responder.
GT: Like har har i have the same basic personality as dirk but without any accountability or anything so let me just be kind of flippant and mess with this jake fellas head!
GT: You know what im saying?
TT: Yes.
TT: That’s a surprisingly decent observation about me.
GT: Yeah see i think i maybe did a little TOO good of a job brain cloning you? This is way too much like talking to the REAL fake dirk.
GT: Holy cow what a dumb sentence that was.
TT: You did do a good job.
TT: A perfect job, in fact.
TT: Untapped potential, remember?
TT: I don’t think one of Dirk’s splinters could exist nearly as well in anyone’s mind other than yours. 

And now this version of Dirk is claiming to be something like a manifestation of Jake’s hidden powers or something but he doesn’t understand what any of that means. This once again makes me think about how the comic always weirdly subverts the whole nature of him reaching said potential or whatever, with it either happening artificially through Aranea or in a future sequence narrated by Caliborn. At this point, the notion of Jake being able to do intense things like that feels just plain weird which I think is the point.

TT: You do realize he’s coming for you.
TT: Dirk. In the real world. The man has his designs.
GT: Yes. I know.
TT: Wanna talk about it?
GT: With you? No!! Thats like…
GT: Thats like talking to him about it which is like really jumping the gun i think.
TT: What better chance is there to try talking about it than with a stunt double for your hyper-aggressive suitor within the safety and privacy of your own mind?
GT: But i cant yet! I just cant.
GT: There are some feelings im not sure how to put into words yet and doing it in front of you whether youre a stunt double or brain puppet or whatever it just makes me feel uncomfortable!
TT: So there are feelings you don’t want to try to put into words, even while you are dwelling entirely within the realm of your own mind?
GT: Yes.
GT: What is so hard to understand about that? 

Jake and (a version of) Dirk finally get around to talking about their feelings, except not really. That’s just something the comic kind of refuses to do for some reason. As much as it leaves a gaping hole to some readers, all in all that’s probably a good thing. Well, I mean a good thing apart from that kind of being glossed over at the end of it all when there was actual buildup towards something. That probably could have been done by them agreeing at the end that it all doesn’t matter which would probably be good for those less than enthusiastic about the comic’s relationship arcs. And maybe they did agree to that, but who knows.

TT: What about the spider ghost?
GT: Huh?
TT: The girl you saw.
TT: When you got fucking clobbered by Dirk’s robot and you passed out.
TT: You dreamed about a spider ghost alien girl.
GT: Oh yeah.
GT: What about her?
TT: You like her.
GT: Man what?
GT: Thats dumb i saw her for three seconds and she waved at me and i woke up!
TT: Yeah, and it took all of three seconds for you to fall in love with the cute spider ghost.
GT: Why do you keep calling her a ghost??
TT: Cause she’s been dead for a zillion years, dude.
GT: Oh. Well.
GT: Holy shit?
TT: That won’t change the fact that you like her, let’s not pretend it will.
TT: You’re going to make things complicated for yourself. 
 

Here Dirk (screw saying “brain ghost” every time) tries to convince Jake that Aranea is going to fuck around with the whole romance situation even though his attraction to her is really just a gag. I guess that’s pretty much all that guy ever does, snark at Jake and all that. At least until Aranea cranks her inner Serket to maximum overdrive.

GT: No i wont.
TT: Yeah you will. You’re too fuckin’ wishy washy.
TT: Between Dirk, spider ghost, Jane…
TT: Man, poor Jane.
GT: What? What about jane?
TT: You tell me.
TT: What was even the deal with that?
GT: Our last chat ended on very pleasant and amicable terms! She was upbeat and chipper as ever. I fail to see what reason one might have to feel sorry for her.
TT: Uh, yeah. You totally read her like a book.
TT: Really handled that conversation like a champ.
GT: Wait… didnt i?
TT: Look out bitches. It’s Jake “Casanova Ladyslayer” English. He’s packing heat, and is frequently able to parse the literal meaning of things women say. 

Despite being supposedly part of Jake’s subconscious mind, this version of Dirk actually understands what happened with Jane, which kind of suggests otherwise about that thing’s nature. I almost think the subconscious mind stuff is really just what he says to mess with Jake since his personality really isn’t much more different from being a more sarcastic version of Dirk.

Then Aranea arrives to the scene and the two get into yet another ridiculous one-sided argument. It’s mostly about erections but I guess it’s still quite a way to end this thing? It leads into the weirdest scene transition yet:

TT: I wonder what Jack’s up to right now.
GT: WHAT?
GT: I mean… what? Whos jack?
TT: Just talk to the girl, ok?
TT: You have some damage control to do.

Well OK, probably not the weirdest, but still a weird way to transition to Jack that I guess kind of works? See you next time as Jack does stuff and there’s literally no way that’s not what the next post is going to be about so just this one time I’m safe.

>> Part 78: Jailbreak but it’s with an angry knife guy and about ten times more morbid

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