The Larkin Ledgers

Like an endless chain of half-built houses

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

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We come to the second scene of Auri arranging objects in Port.  Is this the scatterbrained fantasy of a malnourished mentally unstable recluse?  Or is it something more?

This is where the objects became something more than whimsically anthropomorphized.

Keys were hardly known for their complacency, and this one was near howling for a lock. Auri picked it up and turned it in her hands. A door key. It wasn’t shy about the fact at all.

I think it was right about there that I was reminded of one of the later scenes in “The Boy Who Loved the Moon.”  The hermit has convinced the knot on the tinker’s pack to open and is explaining the contents to Jax.

The old man shivered and looked away from the box. “It’s empty.”
“How can you tell without seeing inside?”
“By listening,” he said. “I’m amazed you can’t hear it yourself. It’s the emptiest thing I’ve ever heard. It echoes. It’s meant for keeping things inside.”
WMF 592

And that, in turn, made me glance back at her take on the buckle: “He was not a one for fastening. For holding closed.”  The idea here would be that Auri’s listening to, or at least regarding, these objects in a manner similar to the hermit.  They don’t have personalities, but that’s the best way to convey their dynamic thingness. Auri’s inability to function normally with access to this kind of knowledge wouldn’t be unique in the text, either.

Alder Whin, Elodin’s giller, says, “I was fine. I was doing fine. But all the people talking, dogs, cobblestones…I just can’t be around that right now.”NW 339

Read one way it’s just a list of stuff that’s bugging him,  Read another way he’s saying the people, the dogs, even the cobblestones are too loud and he had to withdraw.  He checked himself into Haven, where no one wants to go, which is incidentally the title of the chapter of The Wise Man’s Fear where the narrative of The Slow Regard of Silent Things merges with it.

Auri finds an acceptable place for everything and heads off into the Underthing in search of the proper door for her restless key.  At the first door she tries, she fans Foxen’s light with her breath.  Is it the motion of the air or the temperature, as Marco. suggested?  There must be something suggesting one or the other later on that’s slipped my mind.Crystal

She eventually comes to Wains, a grand hall out of a Renaissance palazzo with frescoes and chandeliers.  Wains is one of the more obvious names that Pat hands to us in the text, referenceing the dual meaning of wain with, “wide enough to drive a wagon through,” and, “wood paneling hugged the lower portion of the walls.”

It’s here that we get her first self identification as wicked.  It happens seven times.  Each time, including this one, it slides away rather quickly.  It’s attached to desire, to want, to bending the world to one’s desire.  It’s worth noting because as the associations become more sophisticated, more than looking at frescoes of men and women in their altogether, we get a broader picture of who Auri is and whom she might have been.  And that has a bearing on a piece of a memory that might be easy to misinterpret.  Anyway, keep in in mind as we go along.

There are twelve doors.  Auri has managed to open three of them.  She tries, obviously, this is a story after all, the third and the seventh.  Finally the ninth opens.

What’s behind the ninth door is a new room, which she regards slowly and silently.  Something’s wrong but neither she nor we know what.  She spends some time trying to figure it out and in the process finds a synechdoche for Kvothe.

It was a tiny figurine carved from a piece of pale, retiring stone. A small soldier with clever lines to show his hauberk and his shield. But his truest treasure was the sweetness of his face, kind enough for kissing.

The pale figurine is significant, but there’s an even more interesting line.

There wasn’t really anything for her to do here. It was startling really , as the place had obviously been alone for ages without anyone tending to it.

Places and things apparently, at least to Auri, have a real true.  A level and plumb that they should be but often aren’t.  And part of what she does is try to put that right.  There’s a word that’s used in The Slow Regard of Silent Things that resonates with the parent text(s): mend.  As in, possibly, the Mender heresies.

She exits the room to find a stairway and realizes she’s no longer in Wains anymore.  The stairs are somewhere new, with shifting stones.  She struggles to find its name but can’t tell what sort of place it is.  At the top of the stairs is another new place, a collapsed bedroom that’s almost obviously named Tumbrel.  Having every new place be a mystery would undermine the way her relationship with places and things has been presented, so an unknown is followed with a known, for brevity.

Auri went to work then, setting things to rights as best she could.

She moves some debris, clears a path to open a closet and a wardrobe, and gives Tumbrel and the stairs a sweeping.  To do this she ties Foxen to a lock of her hair, which bruises it.  The first time through I read it as projected emotion.  But if it’s bio-or-chemiluminscent then the bruising on the surface is probably quite literal.

She finds a wardrobe with well preserved sheets and takes one out without thinking.  Then she rebukes herself.

She was a greedy thing sometimes. Wanting for herself. Twisting the world all out of proper shape. Pushing everything about with the weight of her desire.

That’s interesting.  Twisting the world out of shape with the weight of her desire.  I mentioned before that said weight was one of the connection points between the first and last chapters.  So is the manipulation of the world.  That theme is expanded as the story progresses and culminates in more than twisting.

We’ll finally start the second chapter Wednesday.

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

  1. It’s worth noting that Auri doesn’t use the key to open the door. She needs a key to make the door opening mentally allowed, but the key doesn’t need to match that particular lock. The door that she opens wasn’t even locked. The key was still in her pocket after opening it. She just needed it in her possession to make it proper.

    • Interesting. I didn’t catch that.

      I want to know what’s under the loose floor stone near the wardrobe. I’ll look for the actual quote later, but it’s along the lines of “Auri pried up the stone, adjusted the leather wrapped packet, and replaced the rug” or something like that. My feeling is that it’s a hidden treasure of some sort, and may well appear at a later date.

      • “There was a loose stone in the floor next to the wardrobe. Auri prized it up with her fingers, adjusted the small leather sack and piece of wool padding underneath, then slid the stone back into place, tamping it down firmly with the handle of the broom. She tested it with one foot and smiled when it no longer shifted under her weight.”

    • I didn’t catch it either. Well spotted.

      I attended a Rothfuss reading in Chicago some time back where he read from the Princess and Mrs. Whiffle II. He actually read it twice – once through, and then a second time slowly where he pointed out places where the information about what is coming is hidden by our pre-conceived notions about the way things should be.

      Your discovery here is one of those sorts of things, and why I enjoy reading Rothfuss’ work – it’s not that I think it’s perfect, it’s that there’s cleverness hidden within that is a reward for careful reading.

      Bravo.

    • This is the point I was searching for. She doesn’t use the key to open the door. I love that.

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