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Simply indescribabble (emphasis on babble).

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Comatose

blog-0918826001368007347.jpgHey all, long time no blog!

So, I guess I'll get everyone caught up with everything that has happened since my last update. There's a lot, so sit tight, and I'll try not to go on about any one thing.

Jezreel told me that, when people from Taiwan return home from traveling, people here ask about what they ate, rather than what they saw and did. I'm quickly finding this part of Taiwanese culture slipping into how I view my trip, as so much of what we do centers around eating, eating, and more eating!!

For clarity's sake, I'll divide the post up into days again, just to keep everything straight.

Saturday Cont'd

From Zony's house, Jezreel and I went back to Tainan, and met up with his uncle and cousin, Vivi, for supper. We went to this really well established restaurant (apparently it's been around for more than forty years), and had some delicious traditional Taiwanese food, including some dumplings, these beef and leek cake things, and some good old wonton soup. I did all right eating the whole meal with chop sticks, but I did make quite the mess. After dinner, we hung out a bit, and Jezreel's uncle bought me some plum spice and dried cherries from this dried goods store (he was a very nice man). After that we took a train and a cab back to Zony's house. Jezreel and Zony decided to head out to Kaohsiung for another night out at the club, but I decided to stay in and get some rest.

While I was resting, Zony's sister came home, and startled me awake, thinking I was Zony. She goes to university in Kaohsiung, and didn't know Zony had friends over. Luckily, she spoke pretty good English, so I was able to explain the situation and go back to sleep.

Sunday

On Sunday, Jezreel and I packed our bags and caught a cab to the train station, and our back packs on we headed out to Kaohsiung.

At Kaohsiung, we started out exploring the cool train station there, including the "Dome of Light," which is a really cool stained glass dome. Then, we headed out to the Kaohsiung night market, which is right by the train station, and got something to eat (pig kidney soup, if I remember correctly, and fresh dragon fruit for dessert). Then, we took a train to the coastal area of the city, and went exploring. Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan, and is the largest city in the southern half of the island, and is known for it's art scene. We spent a lot of time walking around the ocean and the river, and checked out a photography gallery, and listened to some live music that people were playing.

On our walk, we circled back to another train station, and after catching a metro to the main station, we caught another High Speed Train to Taichung, where Jezreel grew up and his grandparents live. We were both pretty tired at this point from all of that walking (and my back-pack was pretty heavy at this point, haha), so by the time we got to Jezreel's grandparents house, we went to bed pretty quickly.

Monday

We both slept in a bit, and woke up for lunch that Jezreel's grandmother had prepared. Just in case there is any doubt (I didn't have any) a grandma's home cooked meal in Taiwan is every bit as satisfying (and filling!) as one in Canada. Monday, we mostly just hung out at the house, until we took the family scooter to the Taichung night market after supper (both lunch and supper consisted of rice, a green vegetable dish, a stir fry with chicken, salmon, a soup, a meat dish (duck and beef, respectively, if my memory serves me), and fresh fruit (watermelon!) for dessert.

The night market in Taichung was really cool. Jezreel took me to a really well known shaved ice place for some delicious shaved ice with beans and ice cream (delicious!) and then we arrived home for bed.

Tuesday

Tuesday, I woke up for breakfast, and was treated by Jezreel's grandmother to a salty fried cake thing, two sweet cakes, one with honey and one with chocolate in the middle, and an apple (which I ate the core of). For lunch, it was another set of delicious dishes to be eaten with rice, including some delicious beef, and more amazing salmon. For dessert after lunch, Jezreel and I got fresh watermelon and pineapple.

After lunch, Jezreel took me out on the scooter, and went across the city to show me where he used to live as a child, after his grandparents moved in to his family's old house. Then we met up with one of Jezreel's elementary school friends who now owns a Taiwanese burger (consisting of fried meat, peanut sauce, veggies, and a little bit of sugar: totally delicious) booth, and tried some of his wares (despite being still full from a day and a half of grandma meals). Then, we quickly checked out an art museum before it closed (only the first floor), and then walked around in the park outside the science museum, and checked out Jezreel's old elementary school.

We also checked out a mall, where I found Chinese copies of a bunch of Brandon Sanderson books (Mistborn 1-3, Elantris, Way of Kings), and got Jezreel to take pictures of them (he convinced me not to buy them, since I already have English copies that I have read, I cannot read Chinese, and I didn't have much room in my already heavy back pack). They were soo pretty though (pictures will be coming, haha)! I did buy two English books there, since I'm running out of reading material, and the train ride home from Vancouver is going to be long!

Finally, it was time to head back, just in time for another home cooked meal. This time the meat dish was Taiwanese sausage (best eaten with onion).

After supper, we packed our bags, caught a city bus to the bus depot, and bussed all the way back to Taipei, where we promptly fell asleep.

Wednesday

And that brings us up to today. Today was Jezreel's first day back at work since I arrived here, so I found myself on my own for the first time since my arrival. After Jezreel left, I went for a run around Da'an park. Then, after showering and dressing (and chatting on Facebook a bit, since morning here is evening at home, and thus optimum time for chats), I changed more money to Taiwanese dollars (by myself), ordered some Subway to go, and caught the metro rail to the Taipei Zoo.

It was a gorgeous day outside when I left, so of course I wore my new shorts (purchased at the Tainan night market), and a sleeveless shirt, meaning I was totally unprepared when, just as I had reached the far end of the zoo, it started raining! At first it was just a light drizzle, but then I heard thunder in the distance, and decided that I had better start heading back to the entrance (it was about time to head home anyways). After toting an umbrella along through all the rainless days Jezreel and I were travelling, the first day I didn't have it with me was, of course, the day it rained.

I managed to get back to metro safely, where I (all by myself) refilled my Easy Card with dollars, and took the train back to the Da'an area, where Jezreel lives, and was happy to find it was not raining there.

Oh yeah, animals. The Zoo had a lot of really cool exhibits. I saw some pandas, a tiger, a lion, some hippos, some elephants (Asian and African), some camels (one humped and two), a crocodile, an ant eater, some penguins, some zebras, some gazelle, a bunch of reptiles, flamingos, and many others. They pretty much had everything you could expect (it's a pretty big, and might I say gorgeous, Zoo), even a Beaver. Unfortunately, it started raining right when I was nearing the beaver exhibit, so, since we have those at home, I decided I'd rather get back to the entrance before the rain got worse.

So anyways, that's my trip since my last update. I should be in Taipei, with regular internet access for the next while, which means I'll probably be updating a little more regularly. I hope you all liked the update :)

Comatose

Hello again all!

Quick, point form post today, because I don't have a lot of time. I might flesh out some things later, but for now I'll just give you a step by step of what has happened since my Thursday post.

Thursday Cont'd:

  • Jezreel and I went for a walk around this really cool park, where I think I will start going for runs in the mornings.
  • We took the train and met up with Jezreel's friend Ace (who is the taxi driver who drove us home on Wednesday night), and his girlfriend, and we checked out the Taipei Night Market. Night Markets happen in most cities in Taiwan, and the Taipei one happens every night. Basically, a bunch of vendors hit the streets with booths and stuff, and it kind of feels like a carnival. We window shopped a bit without buying anything, and then we hit the food! Some simple noodle duck soup for supper (wasn't sold on the duck this time, which still had the skin on, but the noodles were good). Then we ate some delicious Taiwanese cookies, and moved on for dessert proper, with dessert ice soup (this time with beans and this sweet tofu stuff), and this shaved ice that tastes like ice cream with mango stuff.

Friday:

  • Headed out of the city! Took a high speed train (300km/h) out to Tainan.
  • Met up with Jezreel's childhood friend Tony, and rode on the back of his scooter (illegally, I might add, apparently you aren't supposed to have more than one passenger. But my mother can relax, because it was only a short five minute jaunt).
  • There, we ditched our bags, and waited a bit for Tony's friend to swing by with another scooter.
  • Road on the scooters into the city proper (legally this time).
  • The ride was really fun, Jezreel likes to go really fast, but that was okay with me, haha.
  • Checked out the Tainan Night Market, which was way better than the Taipei one.
  • Apparently the food in Tainan is sweeter rather than saltier like in Taipei.
  • This night market was staged in a square type place, and had more of a carnival feel.
  • Bought an umbrella, a killer pair of shorts, and some other souvenirs.
  • Ate this squid omelette thing, Taiwan's famous "stinky tofu" that everyone was (tastes okay, but is VERY stinky. Think stinky cheese), and these really delicious Guava Fruit with some amazing prune powder (which I'll have to bring back with me, because apparently you can only get good prune powder in Taiwan).
  • Oh, Jezreel and I also tried a cricket and potato skewer, which was actually pretty good. The cricket's legs were a little stringy though.
  • After that, we met up with Jezreel's other friend, Zony (not to be confused with Tony), and checked out a club.
  • Hit the hay at Zony's house (which is an actual house, not a tiny one room apartment, the first I've visited, haha), and woke up here this "morning".

Today (Saturday):

Today we are planning to meet up with Jezreel's uncle for supper, and check out more of the city. We will be out of Taipei for the next few days, so my internet access might be limited, but I will definitely update when we get back to Taipei if not before.

Wow, I actually wrote a decent amount. So much for a quick post. Anyways, peace!

Comatose

blog-0563803001367491591.jpgHello again from Taipei!

So, it looks like I have some catching up to do! I'm quickly realizing that most of time here is either going to be spent doing pretty much nothing and relaxing, and do so many things at once I can barely keep track of them. Like the game of thrones, there is no middle ground.

So anyways, I guess I'll start with the tail end of Day 1, and the things I did after writing that blog post.

Jezreel taught me how to use the city bike system, so we both . . . "signed out" . . . "rented" . . . "made use of" some city bicycles (me using the pink Monsters Inc transportation card Jezreel got for me), and were on our way. We went to the eastern district, which is kind of like a 'down town' type area, and has a lot of really tall buildings, shops, city hall, and Taipei 101, the tallest building in the city.

While there we did a bunch of window shopping and saw a lot of pretty cool shops, and I met some of Jezreel's friends, one of whom recently opened a clothing store selling products from New York. Everyone was really nice, and I got to practice trying to understand what was going on in a conversation using only voice and body language, since I still haven't moved beyond my three words of mandarin, which are "Xeixei" (thank-you), "Ni hao" (Hello), and "Wo bu dong" (I don't understand).

Next, we went for a meal with Jezreel's friend Benson (who has lived in Australia and has impeccable English), at this place called Dazzling. While there, I got some earl grey pineapple tea, which, though very good, was really really sweet. I ate some delicious duck with mustard and orange sauce, and Jezreel shared some of his honey toast, which is toast that is basically fashioned into a box like shape and filled with different toppings. Everything was delicious!

I might be forgetting something, but I'm just going to keep on writing. If I think of anything I'll slip it in later.

Anyways, some time after we were done eating, we checked out some bicycles and rode home, getting back just as it started pouring rain. All in all, it was a pretty good day.

On to day two, which, despite being slow to start, was a very full day as well! I stayed inside most of the morning because of the pouring rain, only venturing out when the rain was a little lighter under and umbrella to grab some Starbucks. Then, once we got going, Jezreel and I grabbed a taxi and went up to the museum. Some of the jade, ivory, and bronze artifacts are incredible! We also ended up eating there as well at this tea shop on the fourth floor, with a great view of surrounding buildings. There, we shared some Tieguanyin ("Iron Guanyin, or Iron Goddess"), a type of traditional Chinese Oolong tea, and ate some almond pine nut cakes and this sweet cold lotus soup. It was all very delicious!

When we were done at the museum, we headed down town, but stopped on the way so Jezreel could show me this famous popcorn chicken place, where we purchased several deep fried items, including squid heads, whole fish with fish eggs inside of them, chicken, and yams. The deep fried batter was spicier than what we have at home, and was very salty, but the food was still good. After finishing our food, we took the train to our next destination, the W hotel, where we were having supper with Benson. Having just eaten (twice), I was growing concerned about having room for the fancy supper, but it turned out to be fine. The hotel was one of the fanciest I have seen, as was the restaurant, and the food was amazing. The restaurant was on the 31st floor of the hotel, and we could see a lot of the city while we ate. There, I had a couple of rice dishes, an egg stuffed with vegetables, some duck, and some really deliciously prepared frog, which was amazing (it was all amazing)! For dessert, Jezreel ordered some delicious Tiramisu, and made me make three wishes, which I failed miserably at because I suck at wishes.

Oh yeah, I probably should mention, it was my birthday yesterday (kept forgetting), hence the cake and the wishes.

After supper, we met up with more of Jezreel's friends and went to a couple of clubs. At one of them, Jezreel taught me to play a fun dice game with his friends, and at the other we mostly just danced. We got home after a long day of doing things, and went right to sleep (at least I did).

Today's been kind of a lazy day, We were thinking of heading out of the city, but we'll see if that ends up happening. Despite my lack of mandarin, I am getting more independent (went out and ordered Subway for both Jezreel and myself today), and more familiar with the area, which is cool. I guess I'll just have to keep everyone posted with what happens next!

Comatose

blog-0852724001367298751.jpgHello All!

So, basically, I'm in Taipei for two weeks, and being here I thought to myself, I should write a blog about some of the things I do. Then I thought to myself, wait a minute, I kind of have this blog thing that I never use. THEN I had an idea, and it was this one: "What if I use this blog thing that I already have as a blog to write about my trip?" Since I couldn't really see a downside (other than drawing attention to some atrociously embarrassing older posts), I thought I would steam on ahead and start talking a bit about my trip here.

So, right now it is 12:54 local time (on Tuesday April 30th!), and I have been here since 6am this morning. I left home at 8:30ish local time on Sunday, and lost a day somewhere on the flight because of the time change. Whatever. Despite losing time, I still spent a very long time on the plane, which was nice.

I met some girls who were traveling together on my flight from Saskatoon to Calgary, who I then met again on my flight from Vancouver to Taipei. If I remember correctly, their eventual destination was Bankok, Thailand, so I hope they have a great time there!

I read all of Mary Robinette Kowal's new book, Without a Summer, on the plane, and started Naomi Novik's third Temeraire book. It feels great to get some fun reading done for once! Without a Summer was a great read, and I was surprised and sorry that it was finished so quickly.

I also played a bit of Fire Emblem, but am still stuck on the same level. Don't ask. Other than that, I pretty much just ate and slept. Ooooo, and played Solitaire, because I'm boring like that.

Once I landed in Taipei, my first challenge was to get through customs, and let me tell you, it was quite the challenge. At least for me anyways. On my arrival card, I needed to note down where I was staying, but I am staying with my friend Jezreel and didn't know his address at the time (actually, now I've had him write it down for me, and I'm still not sure I know it). Anyways, the lady at customs said it would be fine if I gave her his phone number, and I was like, "sure," because I had it in my trusty cell phone.

Little did I know, my back pack felt like messing with me, and was going to have me digging through it to find my cell phone for several minutes, while people went by me through customs.

Anyways, after I found my cell phone, gave Jezreel's number, checked the "other" box (there's a visiting relatives box, but not a just visiting box... strange), and was on my way!

My next challenge was to get my baggage, which turned out to not be a challenge at all, and I soon found Jezreel waiting for me! We hugged, reunited at last, and went on our way.

We chatted on the bus ride from the airport (which is apparently not actually in Taipei proper), and then he showed me how to take the train to his house from the air port that is actually in Taipei (due to lack of space, that one is a little smaller than the one I flew into). Next, we snagged some Burger King, and walked to his house, which is the cutest little one room thing ever!

I proceeded to do some computer things, while Jezreel napped (apparently, he didn't sleep last night, and was more tired than jet-lagged me). Then I too napped for a while, until I felt like getting out of the house for a bit. I then showered, brushed my teeth, got Jezreel to give me a piece of paper with his address to show strangers in case I got lost, and then set out on a walk around the block. It was quite the adventure. I saw some cool buildings, a lot of mopeds, and (get this!) I didn't get lost!!! I didn't even have to back track the way I came from, managing to find my way back to where I started by an alternate route, completing a nice little square around the block. Sorry strangers, maybe I'll ask you for help with directions next time.

Jezreel also tried to teach me the Mandarin word for "thank-you" because apparently people need to say it a lot (no kidding!) When he wakes up, I also think I'll get him to teach me "excuse me" for those crowded trains. It'll probably take some work, but hopefully I'll have mastered at least a few phrases before my two weeks are up!

Other than that, I am quite hot right now, perhaps warmer now that I have been informed it is once again snowing back home.

Stay tuned for further adventures! Peace out!

Comatose

No, don't be silly. 'That' is not a dream. It (meaning That) is very real. You might want to wish That is a dream, but that's just being silly. Now it seems That is also being silly.

Moving on!

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

It seems I don't really have anything to say. I saw my blog and felt obligated to write. Problem seems to be, there was a reason I haven't updated since April, and that is because there is nothing for me to write about.

EXCEPT FOR:

NOVEMBER 4-8 2011!

(Writing a about this was never my intention when I began this post. I promise.)

On these dates, I will be sojourning from the wintery plains I call home and traveling to Utah for the release of Alloy of Law.

It is my hope that, while there, I will hopefully see some of you! And meet Brandon, but that's totes second tier (really, you can believe me. I'm trustworthy).

Also, next semester I've applied to be in a creative writing class, so you can bet there will be some more updates coming your way then!

Oh look at that. I have a bajillion things to do (yes, that is a real number). Well, it looks like things are short but sweet today (have a cookie! It's real, I swear). Thank-you all for recognizing the fact that I'm not dead. Yet. I mean, it happens to us all eventually, right? Except for That of course. Don't you go thinking we'll ever get rid of That.

Comatose

So, now that my exams are largely done, and I finally feel like writing things again, I'm back! Not to imply you missed me, that would be absurd.

Anyways, there is nothing much to report (which has been the case for some time). So, since I got the mark back, and wrote the final, and you've all had almost two months to read the bloody book, here is my essay on Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed writing this essay. I think I may have over-quoted a bit, but Rothfuss's prose is so excellent, I couldn't resist. I hope you guys enjoy it. Tell me what you think :D.

Also, there may be some formatting issues due to the transfer from word document to forum. I've tried to catch them all, but let me know if I missed any. I'd like it to look pretty :).

SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT WANT The Wise Man's Fear SPOILED FOR YOU. I REPEAT, THIS ESSAY DOES CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS!

The Academic Worth of Fantasy in Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear

“Some of the things I tell you may not be true.

But you must believe them anyway,

until I tell you to stop.”

When taking University English classes, a student encounters a wide variety of literature. While many classes stick to the so called “classics” (such as the works of Shakespeare, Austen, and Dickens), some do venture into more experimental realms of literature, such as electronic poetry. Despite this broadening of curriculum, texts that are not found on the capital ‘L’ Literature shelves in book stores are rarely found outside of more specialized classes, while the core classes continue to focus on works that are well established in the western literary canon, like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, or on their way to becoming classics, like the more contemporary The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Texts that are too new and have not stood the test of time, or are popular with the masses rather than with the literary elite are often overlooked. The fantasy genre in particular is often dismissed as escapist literature or popular fiction, and even courses which specifically look at science fiction and fantasy as genres tend to focus on science fiction for its ability to provide criticism by imagining futures that have resulted from present day issues. By drawing on techniques of both genre and cultural criticism, examining the tropes and cliches that scholars use to define fantasy as a genre, and using Patrick Rothfuss’s new release (March 1, 2011), The Wise Man’s Fear as both a commentary and an example, I intend to prove its ‘worth’ to both critic and scholar.

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book in a trilogy. The frame narrative tells the story of Kvothe, a former hero masquerading as an innkeeper, as he tells the story of his life to his assistant Bast, and a man named Chronicler. In this book, Kvothe continues the story of his time at the university, relates his stay in the courts at Vintas, and tells how he escaped the supernatural realm of the seductive Felurian. As an extremely new release by a relatively new author, a book with mass appeal (#1 on the New York Times Bestseller list on March 20, 2011, and #11 today), and in a genre deemed by most to be escapist, from the point of view of an average academic, The Wise Man’s Fear should be good for its entertainment value, and nothing more. Through his use of voice, engagement with the archetypes and history of fantasy, and metafiction, Rothfuss both discusses and questions these issues.

The first problem many academics have with fantasy as a genre is its mass appeal. Scholars see something that is enjoyed by the masses as common, and view their own privileged texts as more valuable. Using one of the main focuses of genre criticism: voice, Rothfuss creates a story both groups can enjoy. Kvothe, who is the first person narrator for most of the story, presents a narrative that can appeal to both high and low culture. Despite his remarkable experiences, Rothfuss presents him as entirely relateable. Though no reader has studied sympathy at an arcane university, or can call down the wind to teach their enemies a lesson, most have had trouble telling someone they care about how they feel, have made some bad decisions the night before an important exam, or have not been given fair credit for work they’ve done. Despite being a soon-to-be hero of legend, there are few who will find nothing in Kvothe’s story they can relate to, making it a perfect fit for the mass market. Like Denna, who is at first amazed when Willem makes a coin float with sympathy, the average reader will be entertained by an exciting story. However, there is more there to look at for the educated critic. When Denna learns the theory behind sympathy, she realizes it “is all just energy moneychanging” (Rothfuss 151), and becomes interested in it academically. Using his magic system as an example, Rothfuss shows it is a possible for a reader to be both entertained and intellectually stimulated by the same thing.

This discussion continues with Kvothe’s narration. Even though Kvothe is easy to relate to, he can also be mysterious as well. With a “smile so charming and easy that it belonged on a storybook prince” (Rothfuss 20) and his talent for acting and story telling, Kvothe gets his audience to trust him early on, despite not being a very reliable narrator. At times, his perceptions are clouded, like in the grove of Felurian, when even Kvothe doesn’t know what he is doing. When Kvothe uses Felurian’s name to subdue her, her describes it by saying, “My mind was filled with the sudden song of her. I drew breath and sang it out in four hard notes” to which Felurian responds with “a word as sharp as shattered glass.” (Rothfuss 640). It is not until he returns to the University, that Elodin reveals he was using powerful magic called naming to fight the faerie woman. Elodin’s attempts to train Kvothe are also examples of his unreliability as a narrator. At first Kvothe views Elodin’s classes as a waste of time and Elodin tells Kvothe, “You know you’re clever. That’s your weakness. You assume you know what you’re getting into, but you don’t” (Rothfuss 83). During his travels, Kvothe learns what Elodin means, and begins to see the lessons in a new light, even though he had previously presented them as rubbish. Kvothe is also shown as an unreliable narrator because of his performing ability. He admits it himself during his time with Felurian, “I don’t mind being called a liar. I am. I am a marvelous liar” (Rothfuss 647), and he proves it later when he tells the story of his encounter, saying:

“I told them a story. If I’d told them the entire truth they wouldn’t have believed it. Felurian let me go because I was holding a song hostage? It simply didn’t fit the classic lines.

“So what I told them was closer to the story they expected to hear.”

(Rothfuss, 700).

By making Kvothe complex and unreliable, Rothfuss turns him into a puzzle to be unravelled. A critic can begin to wonder if he is telling the truth, or letting his emotions or perceptions get in the way, or if he is lying about the whole thing. Rothfuss does not only use an unreliable narrator to stimulate thought or criticism. The legitimacy of Kvothe’s account can also be used to critique the literary canon itself, and what it includes. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms defines ‘canon’ as “a body of written works accepted as authoritative or authentic” (Murfin and Ray 48). When accused of embellishing his tale, Kvothe says to Bast, “this story is different. This is my chance to get the truth of matters recorded. It’s the truth behind the stories” (Rothfuss 685). In essence, he is reassuring his audience that his story is authoritative and authentic. How much trust can a reader place in the authenticity of a story told by a self-confessed liar? If Kvothe can’t be trusted to to tell his story accurately, Rothfuss causes the reader to ask, who gets to decide what is authentic or authoritative and what isn’t?

The second reason many academics would dismiss The Wise Man’s Fear in favour of studying something else is its publication date, operating under the assumption that works must stand the test of time before being worthy of scholarship. According to the Bedford Glossary, classics are:

“works that have gained such widespread recognition that readers and critics over time agree that they have merit transcending the particular period in which they were written. Although some would generally define the classics as those frequently anthologized texts we associate with the Western canon, the word classic may be used to define an exceptional work arising out of any cultural tradition.”

(Murfin and Ray 61).

According to the university lecture notes for this class, a book becomes a classic, “by so commanding the material that it depicts in the time and space within the story it tells that it wins through the details it presents to underlying truths about people and societies, achieving insights and articulations that stand the test of time” (Len Findlay “Genre Criticisms and The English Patient”). At first glance, both of these definitions exclude The Wise Man’s Fear because of it being a new book and not having stood the test of time. However, Rothfuss manages both to side step this, and to examine some of the weaknesses of the fantasy genre at the same time, through his use of the genre’s history. The fantasy genre of today comes from a long tradition, including the standard adventure tale of a prophesied hero, and stretching all the way back to myth and folklore (Murfin and Ray 166-167). By interacting with the tropes and antecedents that make up the history of the genre and by remaking them Rothfuss creates a text that transcends the period it was written in. He doesn’t just reuse old and tired plot devices, instead he reshapes them. Kvothe’s tale is, at first glance, the classic coming of age story. As Kvothe grows in skill and power, the reader is constantly made aware of the decline to come by the interludes that show Kvothe playing the part of Kote the innkeeper, who’d rather clean than fight, and is unable to defend himself against two common thugs (Rothfuss 894-895). At the beginning of the story, Bast tells Chronicler to keep pressing Kvothe to tell his story, to “make him remember” (Rothfuss 17) who he is. However, when Kvothe fails to defend himself with the skills that made him a hero in the first place, he remarks to Chronicler “Forgot who I was there for a minute” (Rothfuss, 895). And so, even though the Kvothe of the story seems to be a typical fantasy hero, it is left ambiguous if the Kvothe of the frame narrative is truly what he says he is. The reader is left with questions. Have all the stories about him been exaggerations or fabrications? Or, if they are true, what was it that turned the fabled hero into a common innkeeper? This mystery takes over and consumes the heroic archetype it stems from. Instead of simply watching as Kvothe gains fame and skill and waiting for him to be powerful enough to face his enemies, the reader wonders how such a hero ended up working at the Waystone inn.

As an archetypal fantasy hero, Kvothe also has a damsel in distress, but like with Kvothe, Rothfuss takes the stereotypical damsel, and puts his own twist on things. Like the typical damsel, Denna is helpless on her own, and has no skills to help her survive. She relies entirely on men for survival. Much of Kvothe’s turmoil stems from the fact that she is constantly on the arm of one man or another, surviving off the gifts her many boyfriends give her until she finds a patron who will support her in her career as a musician. In Vintas, Kvothe overhears Denna speaking with a young girl she has saved from a thug. The girl, having run away from home and losing her virginity, has no place to go, and Kvothe is shocked to hear Denna advise her to become a whore, saying:

“If you’re interesting and pretty, and you know how to listen, men will desire your company. They’ll want to take you dancing as much as take you to bed. Then you have the control. Nobody makes a duchess pay for her room in advance. Nobody bends a duchess over a barrel in an alley then kicks out her teeth once he’s had his fun... …Don’t lie to yourself. Even the fanciest horse is still a horse. That means sooner or later, you’re going to get ridden... ...If they want more than you’re willing to give, that’s the only way. You leave, quick and quiet in the night. But if you do, you’ll burn your bridges. That’s the price you pay”

(Rothfuss 486).

Denna’s string of boyfriends, and her habit of leaving town without notice suddenly makes sense to Kvothe. Though she remains helpless without men, Denna is far from the typical damsel in distress. In Vintas, she takes up with a mysterious patron who, aside from sponsoring her in a career as a musician, also beats her. Despite being an archetypal hero, Kvothe is unable to save his damsel in distress, for when he tries, the situation quickly escalates into an argument, and Denna explodes, saying:

“You hate that I won’t take your help. You can’t stand that I won’t let you fix every little thing in my life... ...You don’t like my patron because you could get me a better one... ...You’re just like all the rest... …You’re trying to fix me... ...You’re trying to buy me. To arrange my life. You want to keep me like I’m your pet”

(Rothfuss 496).

Though Denna holds all the attributes of a damsel in distress: physical weakness, lack of independence, and, of course, great beauty, Rothfuss boldly has her refuse to role she is expected to play. Rather than being a love interest in Kvothe’s story, she becomes the protagonist of her own. By bringing the focus to the character herself, rather than the archetype she represents, Rothfuss creates a story about the truths of human interaction and society, but still manages to put the archetype in to give the story a timeless quality. Rothfuss also draws on folklore, creating faerie creatures like Felurian, the woman no man can resist, and the Cthaeth, a cryptic oracle, but like Kvothe and Denna, they each come with twists of their own. The Cthaeth, for example, is revealed to be a malevolent creature, who, instead of telling the future, tells supplicants truths that will lead to a particular future “like a plague ship sailing for a harbour” (Rothfuss 687). By using Denna, Kvothe, and the Cthaeth as archetypes, Rothfuss draws on the broad history of his genre, and not only transcends the period he is writing in, but also interacts with and critiques that history, making it his own sort of classic.

The final main criticism of fantasy as a genre is that it is escapist literature, meant solely for entertainment. Critics believe that such literature is meant to distract from reality, rather than provoke thought. Though his story seems to be a typical fantastical escapes (a confident, competent hero going on daring and exotic adventures), Rothfuss also uses metafiction to break out of the escapist genre and examine it as he does so. The Wise Man’s Fear is filled with layers of storytelling. The outer story is, of course, the frame narrative, which follows Kvothe, Bast, and Chronicler through their day at the Waystone inn as Kvothe relates his story. This frame narrative is the most realistic, set in a world of small towns, inns, smith’s apprentices, and poor farmers worrying about harvest. It is also the only layer that can be considered “true” as the narration is, at times, omniscient, and shows several different point of views. The next layer is Kvothe’s tale: the story of a budding hero. Using the frame narrative, Rothfuss shows Kvothe, Bast, and Chronicler escape into the story along with the reader, revealing some of the dangers and benefits of escaping as he does so. The stories and fables the farmers tell in Kvothe’s inn help them to deal with a bad year, and with the recent death of their friend. The farmers, however, know when to quit telling stories and go back to work, while Kvothe is forced to stop for a time, telling Chronicler that Bast “was getting too tangled up in the story. He can’t feel a thing halfway. A little time away will give him some perspective” (Rothfuss 889). The characters within Kvothe’s story also have escapes of their own. In the beginning, Denna enjoys spending time with Kvothe because he is an escape from her harsh reality. While in Severen, Bredon plays tak with Kvothe to escape from the tedium of courtly life, and Kvothe finds himself escaping along with him. Most notably, of course, is the way Kvothe himself escapes into his music, when dealing with his feelings for Denna, the stress of university life, and with his feelings of helplessness when he is trapped with the Adem.

Rothfuss, however, does not stop his use of meta-fiction at the frame narrative and Kvothe’s story. Sprinkled throughout Kvothe’s tale are other stories, told by characters or read in books. Kvothe has built a reputation for himself out of such folktales, calling it, “a coat spun out of cobweb. It was story-book nonsense. There were no demons out there, bargaining for blood. There were no helpful faeries granting magic charms. And though I might pretend, I knew I was no Taborlin the Great” (Rothfuss 649). These tall tales Kvothe tells, and the ones told by other characters, are stories within a story within a story, creating a third layer of metafiction. As with the other two, Rothfuss uses this, the third and most fantastic of his layers of meta-fiction, to examine the concept of escapism. And the most memorable example is the Fae woman Felurian, who stories say no man can resist without dying or going mad. Felurian is first introduced as a fable, told by the mercenary Dedan. When Kvothe sees her for himself, he thinks “What was I afraid of? A faerie story? There was magic here, real magic” (Rothfuss 630). The Bedford Glossary defines the word metafiction as “fiction about fiction” (Murfin and Ray 296). By having a faerie tale creature like Felurian exist in his world, Rothfuss plays with this definition, creating fiction about fiction based on truth (that is in reality fiction). Felurian and her realm create the ultimate fantastical escape. Kvothe has all the food he can wish for and is freed from obligations and restrictions, both physical and symbolic, in the casting off of his clothes. Felurian herself he describes as the woman “all men dream of” (Rothfuss 633). And yet, Kvothe still attempts to return to his word of duty and hardship. Felurian becomes a symbol for escapism, and in the time Kvothe spends with her, he begins to lose himself. And so, by convincing Felurian to let him go, Kvothe is escaping from escapism itself. Using metafiction as his medium, and Felurian as his symbol, Rothfuss creates a scenario that both examines escapism and moves beyond it, creating ample material for an academic to study and analyze.

By using metafiction, reworking tropes and archetypes, and playing with voice, Rothfuss moves The Wise Man’s Fear beyond the realm of ‘low culture’ or popular fiction and questions the legitimacy of such designations. Despite being a fantasy novel published less than a month ago, The Wise Man’s Fear is a rich text, with a wealth of material for the literary critic. In a way professors straying from texts known for their entertainment value makes sense, because it forces students to read valuable texts they might not have read on their own. However, in doing so, they remove sources that not only have academic merit, but also give students a chance to be excited and passionate about the texts they are studying. As shown by Rothfuss, the distinction between high and low literary culture is not as fixed as some think it is, and may not exist at all. There is no reason why works like The Wise Man’s Fear should not be included in the English university curriculum, or in the literary canon itself.

I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe had some thought provoked.

Peace for now,

Comatose

Comatose

Yes, That is indeed very lazy.

I wrote this short story over the course of a day based on a dream I had. You should tell me how horrible it is (there puck, is THAT self-effacing enough? ;) )

Anyway, me preemptively dealing with my insecurities and fishing for compliments aside, I really did write this story, and I really want some feed back, since I've never written anything like it before. It's in present tense, for the most part, and is kind of wishy-washy plot wise, so I'm kind of worried about it being really boring. This means, you should be honest in your comments, because if you aren't, I'll probably die from all the false hope you are giving me. (Little known fact: False Hope kills.) Haha, that bracketed bit is really funny for me. You (in the collective sense) most likely would not get it though, so I'll move on.

In other news, whenever I get around to rewriting what I lost, I will indeed be posting Ted the Armadillo. I might even get around to posting my Ms. Frizzle fan fic. Over the summer, who knows, I might dispense with these side projects, and get a start on my novel, and post bits of that. Not bits of That mind you, bits of my novel. Bits of That would just be silly. I'm still deciding if that's what I want to do with this blog, since I really have no idea what I am doing...

So here, read this story (and yes, most of that, except for the very ending, came from my dream. Please don't think I'm too messed up), tell me what you think, and I'll go back to work on my The Wise Man's Fear essay, which I am uber excited back. If I'm as happy with it as I hope to be, I might post that soon. Who knows, maybe I'll work that (not That) line in and then not have to write a review. And here you are:

Forty-Eight

I become aware of myself with the strange but powerful certainty that my family will soon bludgeon my to death. They are not homicidal, in fact, they are among the most loving people I know. It must be, I think to myself, due to my madness. Yes, that makes sense. The last thing I remember is flying into a rage, and thrashing wildly, as my father and mother try to restrain me. How strange, that I cannot remember how I came to be where I am now, but I some how, I know what is lying in wait for me in my future with frightening specificity. It will take forty eight blows from an ornamental club to end my life. My mother and sister will do it. That is, I think very strange. When a dog on the farm had to be put down, it was always my father’s responsibility. Perhaps, it is because, those two love me the most: too much to let me continue to live as I have.

My mother summons me to supper. My last memories of her are of a woman filled with love, sometimes caring for her children a little to much. Her eyes used to shine with concern, and sometimes made her look close to tears. Now, her eyes are hard and cold and dry. Her tears, it seems, have been used up.

The dinner table is also different than I remember. My family stare sullenly into their plates, eating in meticulous silence. I remember times when my siblings and I would grow so rowdy at the dinner table, my father had to force us into silence. My siblings and I all grew up on a farm, and have never learned to use our inside voices. Our family always seemed to be one filled with noise and mess and life. It was a vigorous organization. Now, it seems close to death. I feel very sad about this, for I know it is my madness that has driven them to this extreme.

We are half way through them meal before I have mustered the courage to speak. We are having spaghetti and garlic bread, a staple. My mother only put the garlic bread on my plate. I remember me and my siblings making grand messes with spaghetti in the past. I can only imagine what I have done with the stuff lately, in my interrogating state of mind.

I try and fail a few times before I actually spit the words out. “How... how long has it been?” I say. My family continues to eat in silence, ignoring me. Most likely, I often mutter at the dinner table. I was always more focused on conversation than on eating. They have no doubt given up trying to take part in the deranged conversations I have been having with myself.

“I... I know what’s happening,” I say. Those words, they are so hard to force out. They fill my mouth like peanut butter. The urge to swallow them and remain silent is nearly overpowering, and spitting them out takes an incredible amount of effort for so simple a task. For a moment, my sister, my former confidant, meets my eyes from across the table, before sliding back to her plate. Like my mother’s, they too have grown hard. When did she grow up? Where did she gain the terrible experience I see within her now?

“I’ve been sick... mad.” My eyes begin to tear up, both with the sadness of the situation, and the effort I must put into these words. No wonder my madness has taken such a toll on my family. It must have been heart breaking to see my wit and eloquence devolve into meaningless drivel. “I... I think... I think that I am getting better. I feel like I can think again. I know what you are planning. You are going to kill me if I don’t get better soon. But you can’t! I can change, I know I can! I feel it beginning already. I’m getting better. Please, talk to me. Help me get better. You don’t have to kill me.”

My mother looks up, and her eyes are sad. Then, she turns to my father, and says, “Pass the salt.”

After the meal, she brings out the drugs feeds plies me with drugs. I have always struggled with pills, due to a powerful gag reflex. But my mother adeptly holds down my traitorously struggling limbs, and forces me to drink them down with a glass of water. My mother is a small woman, and has always been a gentle spirit. At work, however, she has been known to make even grown men cry, and her capable hands can force even the most stubborn of muscles into compliance. She is a Physiotherapist. She works with expediency, and all the pills are soon swallowed. Her precise and methodical actions make me feel less human some how. Our interaction has been reduced from a parent to a child to a crafts-person and their craft. What hurts even more than her heartless treatment of me is knowing that it was I who broke that heart.

I go through the rest of my day in a sort of stupor, trying to sort through murky and muddle thoughts. The gears and wheels that used to turn so adroitly are rusty from lack of use. How long has it been since my descent into madness? I cannot remember waking up this morning. To me, my initial fit seems like yesterday, but judging by the state of my family, it must have been much longer. They are close to their breaking point. Most of my interactions are with my mother and sister. Likely, my parents want to shield my younger siblings from the worst of my condition. My father seems to avoid me. It likely pains him to see the mind he was so proud of be reduced to nothing. My father has always had trouble with communication, and has no patience for frustrations. I can tell my parents have been fighting with each other, and with my sister. I can tell by the awkwardness in the air as they move around one another, though they do not do their bickering in my presence. No, in my presence their countenance is unified: indifference to what they see as ramblings, and hate for what I have become. They see me as a foreign thing, who has stolen their son and brother from them.

My death sentence is often on my mind, and I cannot seem to banish thoughts of it completely. I try to explain to my family that I am trying to recover, that I will do better, and that they need not take this drastic action. My words, however fall on patient, but indifferent ears. Have I shown signs of recovery before? I wonder. How many times have I raised their hopes only to das, h them to the ground? The club they will use is in our living room. It is a small and ornamental thing, bought on some vacation. Every time a look at it, I can almost feel those forty-eight blows to the head, beckoning me to end my life. I can barely stand to be around it, but it seems to draw me like a fly to a bug zapper. I think, perhaps, that they have used it on me before, when the drugs were not enough to subdue me.

I lay down to sleep at night, and terror grips me. Will my new found awareness be gone when I wake?

My fears prove to be unfounded. When I wake up, my memories from the time since I became aware, and from before my madness remain intact. The interlude, however, remains dark. Some impressions remain, but when I try to latch onto them, they evaporate, and no mental tricks can make them come back.

My recovery continues in the following weeks. Well, I think. I have begun remastering that which I thought I conquered as toddler. My movements now are entirely my own, and though I lack verbosity, I speak now with precision. I can tell my family views these accomplishments with skepticism. The physicians they take me too seem enthusiastic, but their smiles and nods hide concerns. They think I will relapse.

I admit, it makes sense for them to think this way. I have obviously shown signs of improvement before. It is infuriating that I cannot recall these times, and learn from the mistakes I made. I feel like a hamster or mouse, running through the same maze over and over again, and being removed each time before I can find the cheese. The doctors continue to recommend drugs. In the past, I always preferred to soldier through times of ill health, and saw medication as a last resort. Now, I am surrounded by it.

My family seems to tip toe around me, and each other. I try to bring up the subject of my recovery, and my family’s plan often, for I feel as if I cannot keep silent, but my concerns and protests are always met with a sad look and shaking heads. I can tell my presence exhausts all of them, especially my father. As I have mentioned, he has no patience for frustration. When I tried to speak to him about my illness, he exploded at me, and as I tried to explain, I found tears running down my cheeks, and I lost my words. I cried often as a child, but have not since then. I used to think I had used up all my tears in my youth, and thus had none left for adulthood. It seems I was wrong. My father stalked off angry, both at the situation, and at himself for lashing out at me. I avoid him now, for I know the next time will be worse for both of us.

I have come very close to losing it again. It is worse when I am alone. The madness is like some savage predator, and I am it’s prey. It is a crafty, almost sentient thing, waiting to strike until I am weak, or alone. There are times I have felt my thoughts beginning to come apart, and my words begin to fail me. I run through the house, looking for some one, anyone, to talk to, and so pull my mind of the path to destruction. I find my sister, and ask her to help me. I tell her I am trying to defeat it, and that I think I can, if only she sits and speaks with me for a while. A sad look enters her eyes. She sighs, sits down, and listens as I speak for my benefit. She doesn’t believe I am getting better, but talking with her helps anyways. They all avoid me so much now, I worry about the day when the madness strikes and I am truly alone, for on that day, I am almost certain I will succumb to it.

Friends visit sometimes, from that other life where all my memories originate. I relish these visits, for these friends of mine have not been worn down by constant exposure like my parents have. The all say I am looking well, and congratulate me on my progress. It is from them that I finally learn that two years of passed since I fell ill. Two years, completely gone! Talking with these people reminds me of where I was when I began my decline. Perhaps, if my recovery continues, I will be able to return to school and finish my degree.

It is during one of these visits, that I finally bring up my family’s plan. The friend who is visiting is one from high school, and we have always been close. I tell her I don’t know how I know what is in store for me, but I know it is going to happen. Perhaps it is a message from God, to urge me on in my path to recovery. My friend adopts a neutral expression at this point, but I can tell she thinks I am mad. I begin to wonder how I can succeed, when even my closest friends doubt what I know for truth.

I grow angry. At myself for not explaining myself property, at my fate, since it seems now inescapable, and, above all, at the madness that has dragged me into it’s clutches. My words grow faster, and I hear my voice raising in volume, but am unable to reign it in. “It is unfair!” I cry, feeling tears on my cheeks once again. “I’m trying so hard. I just want it to stop! Please make it stop!” I can hear the mania in my voice, so I grab at my friend, hoping that by holding onto her, I can hold onto my sanity as well. I must have grabbed her arm more forcefully than I intended, for she cries out in pain. “I’m sorry,” I say, still holding her arm in a vice grip. I know if I let go I’ll be lost. “I’m so sorry. It’s coming. You have to help me. Please. I’m getting better, I’m so close. I can’t go back now! I can’t!”

My friend cries again, and suddenly, my mother and sister are in the room, pulling me away from her. There hands on my arms fill me with dread, and I begin to thrash about. “I’m getting better,” I cry, “Please, I don’t need to die. You don’t need to this. I can get better, I can!” Soothing words spill out of their mouths, but I cannot understand them, they seem to slide in one ear and out the other. My gray matter is in uproar. Suddenly, the club appears in my sisters hand, and I know it is the end. I have failed.

The first blow comes down on my head, disorienting me. I continue to struggle, but my mother adeptly forces me into a chair and begins restraining me. Another blow comes down, and then another, and another. Idly, I begin counting them: seven, eight, nine, ten. Each blow resounds inside my mind. My vision is growing blurry, and the only sound entering my ears now is a horrid ringing. Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. I feel blood running down my neck and face. Twenty-five, twenty six, twenty seven. The numbers become everything, for my damaged mind cannot handle any more. The pain is all consuming. Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five. Now, even the madness flees. I begin to laugh, they’ve done it, they’ve beaten the madness out me! But how can I make them stop before it is too late? Forty, forty-one, forty-two. I wonder if I will be able to count the last blow before... Forty Seven...

I wake up with a vague feeling of unease. My dreams have been mad, I think, but I cannot remember what they were about.

So there it is. I just copied and pasted. One of these days I will get over my strong aversion to editing, and then my weird insecurity thing won't be necessary. The problem, you see, is I really do value grammar and clean polished prose, and fear ridicule for failing to attain these things, but at the same time, I'm too lazy to proof read. It doesn't help that profs usually let me get away with it. And so, I preemptively make these little comments about how bad it is, to show that I KNOW it's 'bad', and thus, if you tell me you don't like it, I can be like: "That makes sense," and not be crushed. People are strange like That eh? Or is it just me?

I honestly can't believe/don't know why I'm doing this, but it's fun, so I think I shall continue...

Peace,

Comatose.

Comatose

The Emperor of That

Rather than waste time with useless introductory babble (I'm a fan of relevant babble myself, the useless kind is just silly), I have decided to launch right in to how I became "The Emperor of That" as it is important, relevant, and most assuredly... babble.

How to begin. Perhaps I should mention that it is 11:40, I am procrastinating working on my essay, and not entirely sure what I am doing.

The second most relevant thing, I think, is the definition of 'That'. That, you see, is a rather complex thing. Both the definition, and the 'That' itself. Suffice to say, I am the Emperor of That, and That is that, and that is what is really important.

I would like to take a moment to mention that Ted the Armadillo did in fact accompany Walnut the flower to the Elephant ball, and that the ensuing events were very interesting.

Also, I really want to write a review of Wise Man's Fear, as soon as I am done writing this essay on it. I don't know which direction it shall take yet, but it shall include: "Rothfuss's prose is excellent, proving itself to be as powerful as the name of the wind and even more seductive than the gaze of Felurian." I'm still working on that sentence, but it's what made me want to write a review, so I'm hereby claiming it. Don't steal it or I'll kill you.

Well, this is an embarrassment of a blog post. I suppose I must publish now, so you can all tear it to pieces like the ill fated dwarf in D. M. Black's "The Educators". I suspect I've committed at least one atrocious grammatical error, if not one hundred, and have managed to sound both pretentious and frustratingly self-effacing at the same time. Eventually I might manage to post something of note here. Enjoy :D

Oh look, notes I needed for my essay that I'd forgotten about... better read those over.

Peace,

Comatose