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LJ Idol IX - 10. Bye...

It's almost end of term at college, and my mind is very much elsewhere: on the mound of last-minute work I have to do. Typical.


Thank you everyone who read and commented on my last entry. I am slightly overwhelmed with the reception. Here is a little something for those of you who are curious what the poem meant to me.

The whole business started with season 7 topic "Not of Your World". That first entry was a mostly humorous retelling of the fairy tales with the main character, Andy the Baba Yaga, being a self-insert of sorts. A time-traveller living in the past under cover of mystery, and distrust, and awe of witches. It was then logical to use future technology disguised as mythical objects (mechanical hands as garden tools, skulls with glowing eyes as outside lightning devices, holograms as ghosts to scare away trespassers). It was a challenge to explain away as many of the mythical attributes as possible the "scientific" way. A local inquisitive boy then had to be there and not be frightened away by the dramatics. You know, a local laughed-at genius of the kind that invent the wheel, or discover the theory of relativity. And of course I absolutely could not stop myself from adding a little mystery by making a raven follow Andy, because there just had to be some real magic there. And this was it then.

The second part was an answer to Exhibit A topic "Snake". In a bout of inspiration, the inquisitive boy turned out to be quite magical, as well as potentially "technically" savvy: a snake-speaker. He was not aware it was anything extraordinary though, because beast-speakers were not that rare in that time and place, just part of everyday life. It also became clear to me then that not everything was dandy in his home life, part of the reason behind his reckless forays into the woods. He was either an orphan taken into extended family, or lived with a parent who'd remarried. Not quite a Cinderella story, but not very dissimilar.

Then somewhere along the way there was a topic about "Grokking", or accepting something so close to your heart that you became part of it. This is really where the poem started. I ended up writing about something else, but Andy got much more flesh on her bones that week. I learned that she had been slowly grokking the whole time of her stay in the past, yet still in denial about it at the time of the first story. The raven did not just follow her around, he was becoming a familiar. Her various apparatuses malfunctioned a lot for a reason (Harry-Potter style incompatibility of magic and technology in the long run). Some of them were also starting to develop an independent life of their own. She just could not quite believe it all yet. And there was a very uncomfortable Psych evaluation via time-streaming in her near future with a possible diagnosis "grok".

I used this knowledge this season during the "In Another Castle" week. I learned then that the time-travelling project was actually closed several decades after Andy left for the past, because a lot of time-travelers grokked and did not return, she being one of the most infamous ones. I also learned that the grokking started very early, indeed. A raven flew into Andy's hut not two weeks after her arrival and attempted speaking to her. But of course, a wild bird can not just tell you you are being careless, "Karr-less!", can it?


After that I asked myself, but why? Why did the travelers grok? What was there in the past, was it really so magical? And if it was, what were the forces, did they notice the new comers at all, how did they react to them? Did it even matter that a couple or four individuals a century fell out of the sky and did little more then just live in out-of-the-way little hamlets and study history "live"? Thinking about it was kind of scary, like remembering the boogeyman tales or "meddling in the affairs of wizards" but also exciting, as if seeing the Entmoot unfold before my eyes (not quite a hardcore fan, but I do love my Tolkien). The fabric of the poem was revealing itself slowly, steadily, heavily, subvocally, in peripheral vision.

The question of the form was an easy one after the poem about the boy and snakes. Speaking from the other side required some sort of poetic form, even though I'd hoped first that the rhythm was going to be lighter and more melodious. A poem then, a ballad. It fit very well, knowing that before the XVII century, maybe even XVIII, prose was considered way way way below poetry as a writing style. And what do we have now? Too much prose. I, too, am guilty of having very few poets I like and avoiding that style in general. That's the first collision. After it followed the others. What is the sort-of mythical opposite of how we live now? Ghosts are real. Blood ties are important. History of living somewhere is important. They are your roots. You don't pretend to be wise, it's a travesty; you are wise, whether you are young or not, that's why people come to you. Work is toil, there are very few shortcuts, shortcuts are not a worthy path. And so on it went, coalescing into the "point of view" of the other side.

Andy and other travelers were lucky indeed that their fellows that were sent further into the past (and who sometimes came from years later into the future, what a nice time paradox) were found worthy. But then was it a coincidence? :-) The past was magical, then magic went dormant with the quieting of the songs, but it did not expire, so maybe those with the most affinity to it were drawn into the time-travelling project. (And that is a very well-hidden reference to Andre Norton's Witch World, where when Loyse escapes Verlaine with Jaelithe after her the sword-edge wedding, they nearly waken gods who had been dormant for millenia.)

Well, these are some of my meanings, but it is very nice that it is possible to read the resulting piece in different ways.

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