Date: 08/10/2009 12:27 PM Title: Chapter 15 - Recompense. For All My Crimes of Self-Defense
“Oh, been busy, you know?” He wipes his forehead. “There’s lots to do, Lily.” Oh, yes, Peter has loads to do. Like figure out how he'll spend his thirty pieces of silver.
Well, you've done it again. Jammed a chapter so full of foreshadowing, insight and emotion that I'll have to read it a few more times just to appreciate it all!
For one, I've just been off to google Socrates, to refresh myself that I hadn't gotten his death mixed with someone else. After that, I had to read up a bit on Plato, and will at least glance by Zeno again. You are a very well educated human, aren't you? The whole gaining knowledge by drawing forth from the mind, rather than cramming things into the mind - that's a huge presence in this chapter. I'm amazed. Just impressed as heck.
Meliae is fascinating as ever. Remus is a wonderfully reassuring and calming presence. Lily's conversation with Meliae is a bit heartbreaking and yet still manages to bring peace. I loved the Crookshanks reference and the Yoda reference, too. ("Smarter, you are. Now think of the next joke." hmm an order for Lily or for my wise author? grinning)
Thanks for an utterly brilliant read! And thanks in advance for the next few times I read over this, too! (I feel as though I'm back in English Lit. I need to take notes in order to keep up with it all!)
Hee hee! I meant to answer both your posts at the same time, but I was at work, and then I went out of town . . . oops. Sit back for a long read. I hope all this makes sense. (I know what I’m talking about – but that doesn’t mean anyone else can decipher it.)
Yes! I wanted to kick Peter’s butt somewhere – but also evoke just the faintest sheen of compassion (faintest, mind you). He’s a worm, yes, but how his heart must have burned to contemplate what he was about to do. At least, I hope it did. Otherwise he’s just a sociopath, and that’s not interesting at all.
Anyway, you get ten thousand gold stars, you do. The Socrates quote Sirius and Meliae are referring to is: “Anyone can be angry. The trick is to be angry at the right person, for the right reason, in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right way.” This is a profoundly difficult thing to do, as it requires us to respond to what is happening in front of us without dragging all our baggage into the present. (The genius of Socrates is that you can put anything into the quote and it yields wisdom.)
I put it in the story because Meliae is creating, in Heidegger-speak, a “thing thinging” with the wine. (So helpful, isn’t that? Philosophers are the worst writers.) If you’ve ever been somewhere and everything just seems to click – you’re having the most amazing time and you and your friends feel so close together and it’s a time that you remember forever – that’s a thing thinging. And that can happen when you drink wine “with the right people, for the right reason, in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right way.” Meliae knows these people need to laugh together. (Hmm . . . I think you’re right – I should take the order.) And she knows exactly what’s going to happen to each of them not only in this lifetime, but in all their lifetimes. Her “job” at that moment is to lighten their threads.
The consideration of “good” and “bad” throughout the story is based on Nietzsche and Kant as well as several more contemporary philosophers. “Good” and “bad” are based on the fact that we think we know the outcome of our actions. There is a famous Zen story about a farmer who finds a horse. His friends congratulate him on his good fortune. Then his son falls off the horse and breaks his leg. His friends sympathize with his bad fortune. Then the army comes and drags off all the young men to a war, but not the farmer’s son, because of his broken leg. His friends congratulate him on his good fortune. You can see how this goes on and on – but it points out that there is no “good” and “bad” because we can never know the ultimate outcome of anything.
Of course, this consideration led to the nihilistic as well as the existentialist perspectives of “there is no inherent moral meaning” and “all life is meaningless,” but these views miss the point. The point is that we don’t know – just as Sirius doesn’t know the outcome of his breaking the Vow. He’s banking on it being a good thing. But the point is that it’s just a thing. According to the Fates in my story (who stand in for ancient Greek philosophy, as well as many other world philosophies), “good” and “bad” are meaningless – there is only “balance,” which does not hold any intrinsic moral value. Time, like that Zen story, stretches out into infinity.
The consideration of choice and whether or not we have it is based (a thousand of your gold stars are for this one) on Zeno, about whom I had an amazing discussion with a visiting professor at Berkeley, but from a different context than he’s usually discussed. In my story, Zeno’s views on “there is no change” are taken in the context not of philosophical absurdity, but of metaphysical (beyond just the physical, or five senses) reality. If karma is believed (karma is the very thinly disguised threads of the Cloth), then there exists exactly what Meliae says: We have choice, but no freedom. We can choose to act however we want – but we will pay for, or reap the benefit of, every choice we make. That isn’t freedom – not from the greater law of karma.
And that cancels out change. Nothing changes – every circumstance is set. The Cloth must balance. The events of our lives are woven. The only thing we have is choice – what will we choose to do in response to the events we encounter? If we make “heavy thread” choices, then somewhere, in some lifetime, we must pay for that in order to balance. In such a circumstance, nothing changes – “balance” is consistent.
And it is entirely through our choices given these set circumstances that we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves. Every response we have reveals us to ourselves, if we are paying attention. James only grows up because of his reaction to what he witnessed between Lily and Sirius. Sirius only grows up because of his crossing the line with Lily. Lily only grows up because of the pain of losing the love of her life. Remus has already grown up because of his lifetime of struggle with the beast within him. Peter has not grown up because he is not paying attention to his fear, which is what is running his life – fear of rejection, fear of truly standing up for what he believes in, fear of taking responsibility for his own actions (he blames the Death Eaters for his actions, saying they won’t let him go). And that’s why Meliae makes him leave – he’s not mature enough to help create the “thing thinging.”
Socrates (the entire story is an extrapolation of “The unexamined life is not worth living,” a direct instruction from Socrates.), Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger are my favorite western Philosophers. I also have a deep and abiding interest in Buddhism and other Asian and Indian philosophies. And yes, I have a degree in Philosophy from Berkeley and I taught high school English after that. (This may also explain why you feel like you’re back in English Lit – and if that isn’t proof of the next thing I discuss, I don’t know what is.)“Gaining knowledge by drawing forth from the mind, rather than cramming things into the mind” – that is very well-said. I might say “drawing forth from intuition” or the “heart,” but only because “intuition” and “heart” are the only words that approximate what I mean. (Wittgenstein pointed out the dangers of the limits of language – if there is no word to “name” something, how can we think about/discuss it? It is, indeed, a challenge.) So you might say: “Gaining knowledge by drawing forth from intuition or the heart, rather than cramming things into the mind” – meaning, in my sense, that “knowledge” comes from the intellect, while wisdom comes from intuition or the heart (again, the problem of language). This has been a consistent theme in this story – one which Meliae literally cuts out of James in “Me.” James is so stuck in his head (or somewhere else, hee hee) that he is destroying everything that means anything to him. Every word he says to her comes from his intellect – the “shiny fish,” Meliae calls them. He’s dazzled by his own thinking. Meliae pushes him right out of his intellect and what comes out, at the end, is the voice of his heart. And then it is up to him which voice he’s going to follow, and we watch him struggle with that throughout the rest of the story.
And yes, that’s exactly what Meliae shows Lily with the wine in the glass and the discussion of memory, which, again, is based on . . . you guessed it. Philosophy. One of the great “problems” in Philosophy is what constitutes “us.” Is it our bodies? Our memories? What is it? Meliae’s answer is that who we truly are is something beyond the body – a “knowing” that can’t be seated anywhere physical but that comes, instead, from the intuition/heart/metaphysical. We are not our intellects. We are our hearts/souls. This is why Sirius always “knows” her and why Lily “knew” James. Insert a bit about souls recognizing one another, but without the yucky Harlequin Romance twist. Not that there’s anything wrong with Harlequin Romances! Except that there is. Hee hee!
And this doesn't begin to go into everything that's going on psychologically.
And Yoda kicks ass, and another thousand gold stars for picking that one up, too. You are my dream reader, I tell you.
Date: 08/10/2009 11:52 AM Title: Chapter 14 - Waiting
I'm really excited to have a new chapter to read! I came to reread chapter 14 first, to sort of catch myself back up a bit. I enjoyed that so much that I'm going skimming through my favorite bits of other chapters, too.
Meliae is such an enigmatic and seductive character. I love everyone you've created in this story, but it is definitely she who remains most often in my mind. Her seduction of Sirius is absolutely captivating, and I find that the following line from that scene holds such truth. “It’s when you’re actually feeling something that I find you the most beautiful.” No wonder she keeps dallying with him! (and I can't imagine that he'd ever have a single thought toward resisting!)
Ooo . . . skimming favorite bits! That's awsome. Thanks for that. :) :)
You always hit the nails on the head - and yes, that was one of the most important lines in the chapter. I like to put bits in there that have to be unpacked, and that's one of them, for sure.
I'm so glad you like Meliae! I love her, too. She's so . . . well, I like your description the best: enigmatic and seductive. And wild! And, from "Recompense," full of pain and anguish, too. I wanted her to show her vulnerable side, since she's the only one who hasn't gotten to do that yet.
Mmm . . . dallying with Sirius. That's half the reason I wrote this story - someone has to dally with Sirius! He's mmmmmmm. :) :)
Date: 08/10/2009 11:43 AM Title: Chapter 15 - Recompense. For All My Crimes of Self-Defense
Interesting, but theres a good bit of creepiness implied in what Meliae seems to eb planning.
Meliae can be creepy, there's no doubt about that, but there's so much Meliae is doing here . . . can you be more specific? Do you mean with Lily, with Peter, or with the wine?
Keep in mind, though, that she has no will of her own - she's completely a slave to the cloth and what's woven. She can't change anything that's going to happen. And the pain of it is, she knows exactly what's going to happen to all of them. She knows it, and she can't do anything about it, and it's killing her. All she can do is guide what they do toward what needs to be heavy and what needs to be light.
But let me know what you mean - I'm curious now. :)
Thanks for the review!
Date: 06/17/2009 07:17 PM Title: Chapter 14 - Waiting
Boy, that Meliae, she's one hot tamale! Lucky Sirius! Poor Sirius in the same breath. Breaking his own heart.
I loved Lily's letter, and the snowy owl. The letter was simply beautiful. It said a million things and went a long way towards healing, I think, considering it was so few words.
Thanks for reviewing! I always enjoy reading what you think of the chapters.
I've so loved writing Meliae. She does what seem to be the most outrageous things, and then . . . then she makes total sense. I like that: "hot tamale." That's exactly what she is. :)
It's really nice (really nice) to have an appreciative reader. Your enjoyment of this story has actually helped make it better - when I find myself being tired and writing crap, I stop and think, "Hey. Actual readers are going to read this. Melakem is going to read it. Do you want them to read crap?" The answer is always "no." :) :)
Date: 06/02/2009 04:07 AM Title: Chapter 13 - May The Circle Be Unbroken
This is such an excellent piece of work! You've really captured the rhythm of two close friends having a meal and a conversation that is really deep, while sometimes appearing to be superficial. (I sure hope that came out the way I mean. It sounds convoluted.) The intimacy is there, the knowing just what the other means. The affection each has for the other.
But, for all of that good work, what I'll remember about this chapter is how funny the exchange about Sirius and Meliae is. "I'd hate to see you turned into a toad." "She wouldn't....She might." Perfect!
Don’t worry, I know what you mean about the "deep and superficial." You’ve said it exactly: "The intimacy is there, the knowing just what the other means." And yes, that’s exactly what I was going for. I love Sirius and Remus together – their easy acceptance of one another. There’s something so beautiful about their friendship, and one of my goals has been to capture and expand on that throughout this story.
Hey – I’m perfectly happy with you remembering that little exchange. I originally had him just saying "She wouldn’t." But as I worked on the chapter, I realized . . . she might! (laughs out loud)
Date: 06/02/2009 03:53 AM Title: Chapter 12 - James and Lily
I just read this chapter again, to sort of refresh a bit before going on to the newest update. (Pretty excited to see that, by the way!) Meliae intrigues me more than ever. What an enigma you have created. I think that the fact I can't quite wrap my brain around her means that you've captured her exactly as you meant to. Strong work, there.
I love the repeated "Need to know, Weasley" That was a nice light touch! (As was Meliae's exchange with Dumbledore regarding his time with her sisters. That was quite funny!)
I have to say, I love Meliae. I get to let my imagination fly with her, and I’ve laughed wickedly on many occasions as I’ve crafted her. She’s a kicker, she is. I’m glad you like her, too.
Arthur! You have to love Arthur in this chapter. He’s the perfect foil for the seriousness of what’s occurring. And I love that Dumbledore not only knows Meliae, but has been where Sirius went, as well. It occurred to me as I was writing it - of course he would have! He’s Dumbledore! (Hee, hee)
Next chapter soon, soon, soon . . . it’s already written . . . (shhhh!)
Date: 04/07/2009 02:52 PM Title: Chapter 12 - James and Lily
I LOVE THAT YOU ADDED ARTHUR sorry i did'nt means to scream.. my caps were on. i hope to see the next chapter soon.
I love Arthur in this chapter. Poor guy! He makes me laugh, though. Can you just see him, his eyes bugging out at "Sirius's girlfriend"? Hee hee!
I'm working on the next chapter right now . . . sorry about the long time between chapters . . . I'm trying to do better . . .
Thanks for reviewing!!
Date: 04/07/2009 06:23 AM Title: Chapter 12 - James and Lily
I've got chills all over as I read the ending of this chapter. It's brilliant. I loved the deception of the teacups! (I wondered what was up with Meliae's fingers fluttering. Sly.) The thing I must thank you for is, "there are no sides. There only is." I needed to be reminded of that myself this morning, and I appreciate finding it here.
I had a lot of fun with those teacups. They weren't in the original version of this chapter - but once I added them, it was so obviously the way it had to go. That Meliae! She's so wonderful. :)
I can't tell you how happy I am that something I wrote resonated in your actual life. For me, when that happens with someone who is reading my story, it makes the entire thing worth it. That's why we writers write - we are reaching out into the void, hoping to grasp someone else's fingers, however briefly.
Next chapter sooner rather than later!
Date: 02/19/2009 11:01 PM Title: Chapter 11 - There is Magic Only A Woman Can Do
Thanks for the Author's comments! I'm glad to find out I wasn't going on too much. I love this update. Without seeing the next chapter, I think it stands perfectly well alone, and don't find it too short.
I reread the last chapter before coming to this one, and have to say that coming after that emotional wringer, this is especially good. When they're read one after the other, sometimes you need a bit of a breather. And you manage to say so very much in this short chapter.
I love that Remus doesn't let James wallow about thinking himself to be Mr. Perfect. And I appreciate that it was hard for James to go back. It was wonderful to hear him say that he needed Lily. I'm sure it's not all going to become an immediate fest of roses and sunshine ever day, but I'm so glad that you left us with a hopeful upnote!
Author's Response: I hadn’t thought about that, about needing a breather . . . that’s a very good point. Something to tuck into the writer’s toolbox, that. Thanks for your vote of confidence about its length! I was so torn about it, feeling it was too short, but really wanting that bit of brightness before we dive back in and see what they have to say to each other next.Ah yes – Remus doesn’t buy anyone’s BS! It’s been so fun to write him, to watch him sigh and roll up his sleeves and get to work with these people. I’m glad that you’ve noticed that James has grown up a bit – that’s been very important. If he stayed static, it would kill the whole story. There are still several chapters to come, but I want to let you know how much I’ve appreciated your dedication to my story. A few of you have become regulars and I deeply appreciate this. Your reviews have been a pleasure to read and respond to. It’s one thing to write something – it’s another thing entirely to see the response others have to that writing. And when someone reads and responds at the level you’ve responded (Ahh! That Google!) . . . well, I’m grateful for your efforts!Sincerely,Theresa
Date: 02/19/2009 05:08 PM Title: Chapter 11 - There is Magic Only A Woman Can Do
the last chapter was very short...but im just glad you end on a happy note, seeing as how we know whats comin.
i must say i just loved this story......so i am standing right now and i am clapping...... :)
Thank you so much! I'm bowing.
But don't clap just yet - there are still chapters to be had. I'm sorry this one was so short. I should have posted the next one at the same time as this one, but you know how that goes. But within the next few days . . . the saga continues. I couldn't leave you with such a short chapter, now, could I? What kind of writer would I be? (Hint: a bad one.) :) :)
Date: 01/23/2009 04:07 PM Title: Chapter 10 - Redux
oh my..i did not think i would see a new post so soon, and i must say this last capter was soo cool... i got chills(no shit) chills.
oh i hope james comes running back soon, i am all kinds of mad at him for taking is time to go home (jerk).but i know you have something in the works for us.
i just love this story!!!!!
Wow! Chills? That's so cool!
I know . . . at some point, he has to step back through that door . . .
I'm so glad you like the story so much. It's incredibly gratifying not to be the only one reading my writing. :) :) :) I'll post again soon!
Date: 01/23/2009 02:37 PM Title: Chapter 10 - Redux
Its still hard to adapt to a Sirius lacking his basic loyalty. I have to say its nice to all four have flaws though. I think even Remus is flawed in that he tries so hard to be fair and even handed that he equates all of their behaviors. James has made a couple of emotional mistakes but on the Karmic scale Lily and Sirius have gone way beyong that.
It also adds to an interesting bit of cannon. Why who was secret keeper was changed. James is running out of people he can trust.
I know how cannon ends but I have to say I'd like to see James walk away. Not leave his son obviously but maintain some self respect. He should do something nice for Lupin though.
I know - it's tough for me to mess with Sirius's loyalty, as well. Hopefully I've given enough context of the hell they're living in to show that it isn't that he wants Lily - it's that he's shattered inside and he doesn't know where - or how - to go to be healed. He's just flailing.
And yes, I always wondered why the secret keeper was changed, too! I like my reason better. Honestly, would you pick Peter if you didn't *have* to??
It's tempting to let James walk . . . . very tempting.
Thanks for sticking with the story and for reviewing! It helps to have contact with actual readers. :)
Date: 01/23/2009 01:09 PM Title: Chapter 10 - Redux
What an incredible update. I must be having some strange sort of day, because I've read this chapter through three times in a row in an effort to make sense of my emotional response to the first reading.
I have no explanation for it. I feel just wrung out, as if I've been crying. (and to tell the truth, despite the fact that it's been a regular old happy day, I feel misty-eyed after reading this.) My only reasoning is that you just did such a true job of pulling your readers through this catharsis right along with Sirius.
It's excellent work. It's vague and a bit unsettling, we're not sure what we're gambling, or what the reward may be, but we're in the thick of it no matter what.
I loved Meliae's actions upon Sirius's return. And I liked Lily's scene as well.
(And thanks for your review responses. Particulary the one regarding past lovers. I think more people should be aware that the hard part is not getting away with a transgression, the hard part is living with the knowledge of what occurred.)
I want to thank you for reviewing so regularly, and for giving me such a good view into your responses. It really helps me see what is working and why!
Yeah, this chapter was . . . interesting to write. It felt like a dream the whole time. I'm trying so hard to stay true to emotions and not have them ring false, so your feedback is great. Thank you.
I love that this story is affecting you so much. Not in a bad way - just that it's able to touch you.
Yes - I wanted people to see a bit why Sirius would be with this person. She really does love him, in her own very Goddess way.
". . . the hard part is not getting away with a transgression, the hard part is living with the knowledge of what occurred." I couldn't have put it better myself. Like Remus said: "There was a moment when you could have chosen - decided, if you prefer - not to have one second follow the next." Our life is made up of our choices. And we have to have the foresight to see where that first step away from the "true" will lead us.
Date: 01/20/2009 02:56 PM Title: Chapter 9 - And You
holy shit!!!! i was hoping that i came on to a story that was done....and may i say this story so rocks in so many ways, i just hope your a fast poster.. well damn this story is so good i will just have to check back often to read the rest.
oh and poor sirius.. im just glad that you sat somethings right in the last capter.... oh man i cant stand the wait...but i will.
I'm so sorry! I know what it's like to just be itching with a story and not able to read the rest . . . ahhhhh! I'll write faster! I promise!
Thanks so much for your enthusiasm! It's great to be able to write something that people are really responding to. And yeah, poor Sirius! He's just in a bad way this whole story. I'm so sorry to him for doing all this to him . . . but he's a heck of a good read, eh? :) :)
I'll post again soon! I promise!