Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 79: It’s Not Actually Mind Violation

Introduction

Part 78 | Part 79 | Part 80 >

Act 6 Act 3, Part 5 of I don’t know anymore

Pages 4925-4931 (MSPA: 6825-6831)

NOTE: As you can probably tell I’ve been working on these posts at a really inconsistent rate. They don’t actually take me that long to write but I take this whole on-and-off approach like I do with basically everything.

That reflection of Aranea almost looks like it’s got her mind control symbol on there…

Suddenly you aren’t the other guy anymore. You couldn’t quite be the other guy anyway since he’s dead, even though deadness hasn’t really stopped us from being guys before. 

Nevertheless, the dead guy starts being Jake, who is not a dead guy. Well, his dream self is dead. But his non-dead non-dream self isn’t, and that’s the guy we’re being, a guy who is asleep. That non-dead sleeping guy is presently talking to a non-sleeping dead ancient spider ghost, who long ago earned the achievement badge, GIFT OF GAB, and boy does she know how to use it.

In perhaps the longest “you stop being this guy and start being the other guy” transition yet, the story does this seldom done thing where the comic justifies something done in a way that probably nobody even cares to consider* (in this case the whole Gift of Gab thing) but is still needed for these overcomplicated narrative reasons.

* That isn’t really true but the point is, it’s not the kind of plot hole readers are meant to take super seriously. But the comic does anyway.

ARANEA: Well, Jake? Don’t you have anything to say?
JAKE: …
ARANEA: I think I’ve spent enough time introducing myself! You have hardly said a word.
ARANEA: It would 8e nice to know whether my long story has confounded you in any particular way, or if you are just 8eing shy. 
 

For some reason this is kind of hilarious and I have no damn idea why. Maybe it’s the way it’s offhandedly revealed that Jake, an ordinarily talkative guy, is just suddenly stunned in the presence of this alien girl?

ARANEA: Well, at the risk talking a8out myself a little more, I feel it would 8e dishonest not to confess.
JAKE: What?
ARANEA: I am a fairly gifted psychic.
JAKE: Whoa really?
ARANEA: Yes.
JAKE: Like you can see the future?
JAKE: Are they ghost powers or troll powers? Or wait shucks thats a dumb sounding question.
ARANEA: No, that was a fine question. They’re troll powers. Sometimes those of my 8lood type will have them naturally.
ARANEA: And no, they are not prognosticative a8ilities. They let me access another’s mind in a way that can 8e terri8ly invasive if a8used.
JAKE: Invasive?
ARANEA: Yes. Including the a8ility to control minds, when exploited fully. 
JAKE: Uh oh.
ARANEA: 8ut don’t worry. They don’t seem to work the same way on your species. They’re considera8ly weaker.
ARANEA: The most I can do is get an empathic impression of your emotional state.
ARANEA: So if I speculate that you are shy or nervous, it is 8ecause I can sense that you are. 

In contrast to Vriska, Aranea simply reveals her psychic abilities through a bunch of exposition; come to think of it, this didn’t ever happen with any of the other trolls with such powers. While I can’t say for sure, I can only imagine it would seem unsettling for some to see her describe such powers in a way that means they’ll probably be used to mess things up. Of course that would require quite a skeptical reader, but then again arbitrary skepticism is another thing I’ve gone through a lot in perusing media, often in ways that were completely dumb and pointless.

ARANEA: Why don’t you show me around?
JAKE: Show you around my room? Yes ok.
JAKE: Well. There are some guns. Like i said guns are great.
JAKE: There is a whole mess of movie posters on the wall. You probably never heard of any of them being a dead alien and such.
ARANEA: Nope. ::::)
JAKE: And…
JAKE: I dont know. Theres a desk which i use to work on silly projects. And thats my bed i guess. 
JAKE: Ummmm and…
JAKE: Hmm what else.
DIRK: Dude, just FYI, you’ve been kind of staring at her.
JAKE: (What? Shh!)
ARANEA: What was that?
JAKE: Nothing!
DIRK: I’m not trying to fuck you up here, I promise. But you gotta watch what you’re thinking, remember?
JAKE: (Go away!!) 
DIRK: Oh man. No. See that thought you just had? That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
DIRK: She’s a fucking empath, bro. She can pick up on shit like that.
JAKE: (Shhhhh not listening to you.)
ARANEA: Jake?
JAKE: Nothing! Its cool. Im…
DIRK: You have got to be kidding. Did you seriously just think something THAT dirty?
DIRK: You must be doing this on purpose to spite me now. I mean, just wow dude. That was x-rated as fuck.
JAKE: (No no stop. See youre talking about it and now i cant help it!)
JAKE: (You are psyching me into having dirty thoughts get fucking lost you interloping brain douche!!!)
DIRK: Don’t worry, I’m gone. It’s like a goddamn peep show in here and I feel like a sleazy piece of shit watching this from a dark corner of your mind.
DIRK: You have a graphic imagination, English. I’m kind of impressed.
JAKE: (Shut up theyre just thoughts its not even like im trying to have them THEY DONT MEAN ANYTHING!) 

Again, it’s kind of funny for some reason the way Dirk does nothing more than talk about Jake finding Aranea super attractive. As before it’s done through all that handwavey brain ghost nonsense.

ARANEA: Ok then.
ARANEA: What’s this? An illustrated story of some sort?
JAKE: Oh hey whoa!
JAKE: Lets not worry about that its nothing really. Here give me that ok?
ARANEA: Why are you getting flustered a8out this literature?
ARANEA: Is it pornographic?
ARANEA: It does not strike me as indecent at a glance. Though may8e our cultures have different standards?
JAKE: Hahaha what? No its not that at all its just…
JAKE: I dunno its just a nerdy comic i read its no big deal.
JAKE: Theres GOT to be other stuff to talk about lets see…
ARANEA: Jake.
JAKE: Huh?
ARANEA: You know, it’s not the first time I’ve sensed that someone felt a flushed attraction for me.
JAKE: A flushed whatsit!!
JAKE: Oh my flipping gosh… 

And Aranea does the same through all those brain powers. All this could probably be described in a much more mundane way (Jake hiding his secret sexy thoughts) but it’s still weird because usually when things like this happen it’s super blatant that someone is attracted to someone.

ARANEA: I already told you, Jake.
ARANEA: I am used to sensing many different types of feelings.
ARANEA: It’s given me a different perspective on emotions than most have.
ARANEA: For most, the feelings of others are often a mystery. So they are prone to speculation and paranoia a8out the motivations of people they meet.
ARANEA: The emotions of others can seem like such well guarded mysteries, people 8egin to 8elieve that’s how their own emotions should 8e treated as well. So when someone can read their thoughts easily it feels like a violation.
ARANEA: 8ut to one accustomed to reading those thoughts, there isn’t the same perception of violation or secrecy. It’s more like examining other self evident facts a8out a person, like taking note of their appearance.
ARANEA: It’s still hard for non-psychics to understand this though, even if you explain it to them. It can lead to some awkward relationships, unfortunately. 

Man, it’s so much fun reading the stuff Aranea says differently in retrospect. It’s not even in retrospect if you consider all the horrifying things Mindfang did. But in any case she suggests that when she’s a psychic her powers don’t seem the slightest bit invasive to her and are therefore completely OK.

ARANEA: It’s my experience that people very often underestimate their own lika8ility. I sense that feeling all the time.
ARANEA: Pro8a8ly 8ecause they’re in the dark a8out others’ thoughts. They are usually in dou8t, so they frequently err on the side of pessimism.
ARANEA: In many cases they would 8e surprised if they knew how many around them were open to friendship, or possi8ly something more.
ARANEA: I would venture that if you had such a sense you even might 8e surprised yourself!
JAKE: Ha! Thats a laugh.
JAKE: I am quite sure my only suitor is my best bro and even then he is such a jumbled stupid puzzle of unfathomable ironies im not even sure about THAT half the time. 

Oh god it’s the whole romance dramatic irony thing again. At least Jake… kind of has a weirdly acute idea of Dirk that’s kind of not totally wrong?

ARANEA: It’s funny how an a8ility that should give you all the advantages in the world over others can lead you to feel worse a8out yourself than if you never had them.
ARANEA: You put all your energy into thinking a8out people with the 8ad feelings a8out you instead of the good, and you try your 8est to fix things.
ARANEA: 8ut usually it just gets worse. People think you are over8earing and needy, and they don’t understand what it is you want from them.
ARANEA: I can see why it can drive some with my a8ilities to a8use the powers.
ARANEA: Fortunately I was a8le to resist the temptation.
JAKE: So there are people on your planet who do that?
ARANEA: On the world I was from, it was rare. Only a few criminals and outcasts would.
ARANEA: 8ut in the second iteration I mentioned, it was commonplace. Like I said, things were very different. 

Aranea suggests that abusing powers just isn’t a thing that ever happened in Beforus? You’d think that’s something that would’ve happened on a world that actually was modeled by weird outside forces but apparently only with Doc Scratch around did that happen. If implications are what I think they are then trolls are even more innately weaksauce than I thought they were.

JAKE: So you were in a higher caste because of the hemospectrum thing you mentioned?
ARANEA: Ah, so you were listening to my lengthy pream8le!
JAKE: I heard all of it!
JAKE: I was just um… well go on.
ARANEA: Yes. 8lue 8loods like myself were higher than most.
ARANEA: The jo8 of each 8lood caste was to serve the needs of all those 8elow it.
ARANEA: We were to use our progressively greater longevity and wisdom to help the lower castes learn and grow. To listen to them and try to provide whatever they were missing. Like a hierarchy of caretakers with increasing social responsi8ility. When the order functioned in harmony our civilization would flourish. 

And the way Beforus’s caste system supposedly worked is just kind of weird too. The way it’s described seems kind of peachy in a way that can only make you think of Feferi if you take a moment to consider things. I guess it’s later more obvious that world was kind of terrible too but for now it’s still just a little odd.

JAKE: Can you tell me anything more about this demon?
JAKE: All i know is he might be a skull monster.
JAKE: Wait he is a skull monster right?
ARANEA: He most certainly is a skull monster.
ARANEA: A very 8ig and angry skull monster.
JAKE: Yessss. Ok but…
JAKE: I feel like i should know more about him if im supposed to kill him.
ARANEA: I didn’t say you were supposed to kill him.
ARANEA: He cannot 8e killed.
ARANEA: Long ago he discovered the secret to indestructi8ility.
JAKE: Oh…
ARANEA: Defeating a foe doesn’t always involve killing.
ARANEA: He has had many incarnations in many universes.
ARANEA: If you continue on your journey for long enough, you may encounter one of them.
ARANEA: And if you have 8ecome strong enough 8y then, you may 8e a8le to defeat him in com8at.
ARANEA: And if that comes to pass, it would 8e the first defeat he has ever known.
ARANEA: You would 8e providing the first glimmer of hope to others that some day, he could 8e destroyed. 

Here that whole thing that happened in Caliborn’s Masterpiece is foreshadowed in some kind of roundabout way. More is phrased as “if that were to happen…” than is probably needed but I guess it amounts to basically what is said regardless?

ARANEA: Jake, it wouldn’t work 8etween us.
JAKE: Huh?
ARANEA: I’m dead.
JAKE: Yes. Right.
ARANEA: Perhaps if you died too.
ARANEA: Although, may8e not after too long?
ARANEA: I don’t know how I would feel a8out that if you were a lot older than me.
DIRK: Man, what the fuck?
ARANEA: Although technically I am already so much “older” than you……..
ARANEA: It would just 8e kind of strange if you were physically my senior 8y any significant margin, you know?
DIRK: This is a weird fucking train of thought. Can you tell her that?
JAKE: (No!)
DIRK: I’m going to make you have a seizure and get you to mime the message to her with your spastic gyrations.
DIRK: Pelvic thrusts will be my exclamation points.
JAKE: (Screw you!)
JAKE: (You heard her i totally have a shot hehehe!)
ARANEA: What?
JAKE: *Cough* uh go on.
ARANEA: 8ut I wouldn’t want that to happen.
JAKE: What to happen?
ARANEA: For you to die soon.
ARANEA: I want you to succeed at your quest, and to live a long and happy life!
DIRK: Man.
DIRK: I’m gonna come out and say it.
DIRK: This broad is a total snore. 

Aranea finally brings us an honest discussion on Jake being attracted to her, and Dirk’s snarky remarks are surprisingly spot on when you think about it. At least in terms of her talking about nothing more than age differences and stuff.

ARANEA: I’ve gathered a small group of travelers for a meeting.
ARANEA: They are 8riefly passing through this 8u88le. I was hoping we could introduce ourselves to one another, and help orient an old friend of mine to the afterlife.
JAKE: Ok.
JAKE: Who is your friend?
JAKE: Another troll?
ARANEA: She was supposed to 8e the empress of all trolls, actually.
JAKE: Wow.
JAKE: So she died before she could be the empress i guess?
ARANEA: Not exactly, since she pro8a8ly never would have 8een regardless.
ARANEA: She didn’t want the jo8.
JAKE: Why not?
ARANEA: Remem8er how I said each class had a duty to take care of the younger and more populous classes lower on the order?
ARANEA: Well, hers was the highest of all.
ARANEA: She was the only one on the planet with such royal 8lood, aside from the sitting empress.
ARANEA: As the heiress, she was meant for a position of incredi8le responsi8ility.
ARANEA: Once she claimed the throne, she would have to serve for many thousands of years, until the next successor was ready.
JAKE: Thats a hell of a long time.
JAKE: I guess she wasnt into that?
ARANEA: She had some pro8lems with authority.
ARANEA: She despised the whole social order, really.
ARANEA: I foolishly tried to convince her to honor her o8ligation, 8ut she wouldn’t listen.
ARANEA: She viewed the empress as a glorified slave.
ARANEA: So she a8dicated, and fled to the moon to hide.
ARANEA: I was the only one who knew of her plans. The rest of the world searched 8ut never found her.
ARANEA: At the time, I was furious with her. 8ut I didn’t turn her in.
ARANEA: Which in retrospect was a key decision that led us here. 

It’s time for more exposition on story events and stuff. While all the pre-scratch trolls are old incarnations of the ancestors, many of whom did some messed up things, only Meenah feels like actually putting an ancestor in the cuddly world of Beforus. Is she really the only one who acted kind of the same in both worlds, or is it just story laziness? I guess it could be both things but there’s definitely inconsistencies between her and basically all the others. The stuff Aranea does later fits Mindfang much more perfectly but it’s still a definite oddity, more so than the pre-scratch trolls already are.

ARANEA: While she was there, she discovered an ancient device.
ARANEA: Inside the device was a game.
ARANEA: She 8ecame o8sessed with playing it, 8ut needed our friends to agree to play first.
ARANEA: She was not well liked 8y the others though. Old grudges and rivalries made it hard to convince them.
ARANEA: 8ut she is very devious, and knows how to trick people into doing what she wants.
ARANEA: She even got me to agree, 8y promising she’d return to her place as the heiress when we finished playing.
ARANEA: Needless to say, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. 

[…]

ARANEA: The point is, you have to know how to handle her.
ARANEA: Regal types can 8e very touchy, even the ones who seem to revel in anarchy.
ARANEA: 8ut if you know all the right things to say and do, she will happily hand over the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.
ARANEA: After all, royalty is royalty. 

As becomes obvious if you remember Aranea’s last lines are reiterated in what I’m pretty sure is the immediately following sequence, she’s also talking about the Condesce’s ways through the whole thing characters do where traits about others are offhandedly described through alternate selves.

I kind of hate the fact that I made a post covering only seven pages of the comic but it’s marginally better than delaying these posts even more. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still fun to write. But when you’re easily distracted by certain things this kind of stops being the thing you do the most often?

See you next time as there’s a flash where a bunch of silly things happen.

[1 year and 10 months later…] 

>> Part 80: Two Refreshing Changes of Pace

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