The Larkin Ledgers

Like an endless chain of half-built houses

Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part VI.ii – THE FAR BELOW BOTTOM OF THINGS

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Auri discovers that she doesn’t have a bottle appropriate for protecting Foxen during a dive.  For whatever reason, she doesn’t want to get it wet.  I wonder if there’s a clue there about what Foxen is.  She runs back to Mantle.  Then back to The Twelve via Withy, Darkhouse, and Clinks, where she picks up a watertight bottle with a gasket and hasp.

Readers should remember Clinks from the chapter in The Wise Man’s Fear with that name wherein Auri discovered Kvothe heading toward the Quoyan Hayal in an attempt to thwart an attacking malfeasant.

“What were you doing on top of things.” She paused and gave a tiny hiccuping laugh. “All crazy and mostly nekkid?”
My heart began to thaw a bit. “I was looking for a place to put my blood,” I said.
“Most people keep that inside,” she said. “It’s easier.”
“I want to keep the rest of it inside,” I explained. “But I’m worried someone might be looking for me.”
“Oh,” she said, as if she understood perfectly. I saw the slightly darker shadow of her move in the darkness, standing up. “You should come with me to Clinks.”WMF 197

 

Once there, Auri instructs him on the finer points of sympathetic misdirection.  At that time she has a whole sackful of bottles and hands out four as though it were nothing to here.  Here in The Slow Regard of Silent Things there are two bottles in Clinks and only a few more scattered about the entire Underthing.

Perhaps it’s a contrast between personal use and her generosity toward Kvothe another thing that comes up in a big way later.  In fact, the character of her relationship with the Ruh bastard has already been remarked on in several reviews.  The whole story is, at least in one sense, a search for gifts for and in anticipation of a visit from him.

The criticism is that her agency is undercut by her focus on the protagonist of the parent text.  Another woman suborned to a man, in her own book.  This diminished status is assumed to characterize her behavior and even her description.

I chose the extended quote above in part because it addresses the use of “nekkid” as Auri prepares to dive.  Some folks have taken issue with the supposedly infantile impression it gives.  In the quote, she’s using a little bit of gallows humor. Staring at a bloody shirtless desperate Kvothe, she flirts.  Nekkid isn’t a suborned word.  The OED notes that it’s been in use since at least 1898 in humorous, euphemistic, or salacious contexts.

Since naked is used far more often in both books, so it’s probably a deliberate choice to deploy nekkid instead.  It links the novella to its parent novel.  And it only describes a human being, while naked applies equally to unadorned and uncovered objects.  Humorist Lewis Grizzard, for all his faults, probably put it best, “Naked means you ain’t got no clothes on. Nekkid means you ain’t got no clothes on and you up to somethin’.”

I should probably note that the use of “altogether” to denote nudity is also perfectly acceptable informal language.  And it’s more rhythmic.  Anyway, what Auri’s up to is risking drowning and hypothermia to grab some junk from the far below bottom of things.

Losing Foxen

This is the first scene where we learn that beyond washing her face and hands and feet, she has other rules.  Sure, on the way she avoided following any one pipe for two long and such, but here she dives three times.  She retrieves three times.  No more.  No less.  No coming up empty handed.

She finds an arm bone on her first dive.  On her second she finds a tangle including a belt and buckle, a branch with a snail on it, and a key.  Finally she finds a large brass gear that costs her Foxen.  It’s here that the reader understands that it’s less of an object and more of companion, as Steven noted on Wednesday.  She has to bring up the gear, so her choice is clear when she can only hang on to one object.  It’s not a choice, though she regrets it.

Luckily, doing things in the proper ways leads to prosperity.  Foxen returns to her.

Nate Taylor’s illustration of the haul throws her wan arm into stark relief with the arm bone larger than her vital one and the gear apparently one third her size.

Fulcrum

She scratched herself on something jagged and rusty on the way up.  She swallowed a lot of Twelve water.  And her body temperature is dangerously low.  Some things to keep in mind as you read about the next few days.

Her lips were blue. She trembled. Her heart was full of joy.

Bakers

She makes her way back to Clinks to bathe.  Presumably the water’s cleaner there and she keeps a small sliver of cinnas scented soap.  Readers have speculated about Elodin’s gift of a single cinnas fruit and his motivations for offering it when they eat with Kvothe following the events of this novella.  But perhaps despite rarely getting close to her, he merely assumed she linked it.

Then she heads to Bakers, a hall full of uncovered steal pipes and entirely full of radiant heat, in order to dry off and warm up.  She leaves Foxen at the entrance.  He’s not too fond of heat.

So Foxen can’t get too hot and it can get wet.  Marco. suggests it’s copper.  Are there compelling reasons to keep copper cool and dry?

She returns to The Twelve to retrieve her dress and the items she brought up.  She takes them back to Port and sets them on the central table.  We’ll come in on her slow regard of them Monday.

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5 thoughts on “Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part VI.ii – THE FAR BELOW BOTTOM OF THINGS

  1. Re: The use of nekkid

    This has always bothered me. Not for any deep reasons, just that it feels out of place. The best way I can say it is that it feels to me like something Patrick Rothfuss would say, but not something that would be said in Partick Rothfuss’ world. And yes, I’m aware that Pat is the sole arbiter of what ‘would be said’ in his world, but it’s just discordant to me.

    Re: Copper dry and cool

    I don’t think it’s the copper that need to be kept dry/cool, but the chemical reaction taking place that does. Water would likely dilute whatever solution was placed on foxen, spoiling/altering the reaction, and heat tends to speed chemical reactions up. Letting foxen cook in bakers might make the reaction go too fast, making him too bright, or bringing the effect to a too early conclusion. Later, Auri breathes on foxen (presumably adding just a little bit of heat) “fanning his light”. There’s a proper way to do things, after all.

  2. The pool tricked me because of Aothor Foreword remark on being “curious about the Underthing and alchemy”. I wrongly thought that Auri was just operating in a Chemical Garden trying to locate some precipitates to be used later in the book.

    A chemical garden looks very much as inside of the pool in Clinks the https://www.google.com/search?q=chemical+garden&num=30&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X and I had forgotten that Clinks was a real place in the Underthing, so I could be excused of my mistake.

    • I saw your post on that and almost tried to work it in. Then I figured trying to cram alchemical symbols in in passing might be either confusing or boring. I saw your comparison as a metaphorical one rather than a direct one.

  3. I don’t necessarily think the watertight bottle is to keep Foxen dry. It could equally well be to keep the air in – thus acting as a flotation device, should Auri happen to lose Foxen. Which is exactly what happens – but because she has done things in their proper way (i.e. got hold of a proper bottle to store Foxen in), her light returns to her.

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