The Larkin Ledgers

Like an endless chain of half-built houses

Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part XI.iii – THE ANGRY DARK

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Then she saw her blanket. Her perfect blanket she had made herself in only the most proper way. It had twisted and the corner lay all naked on the floor.

Getting out of bed on a tapering day, a burning day, was literally a mistake. This is bad. We know it’s bad because she’s been careful with the blanket throughout the story. Presumably everyone reading this is familiar with the concept known as Checkov’s gun.

If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.

Rather than a quirk of personality, it becomes a part of the story. Sure, it was more than a couple chapters, or acts, or whatever, but we’re dealing with a structure Checkov would’ve found ponderous at worst and inefficient at best. Rings are sort of exactly not the three or five act story we’re used to. Nonetheless, the blanket was the second object she interacted with.

Moving carefully, Auri pushed back her blanket so it wouldn’t touch the floor.

So of course it eventually touched the floor.  Luckily, Foxen’s safe in its box. There’s no telling what would’ve happened had she insisted on its light. Especially since she nearly lost it in The Twelve on the first day.

Auri’s all about the “proper way” of doing things. The phrase shows up ten times in this relatively short novella. It’s a theme. Meant to contrast with what she sees as improper, wicked, or presumptuous.

But it’s parceled out sparingly in Rothfuss’s broader catalog. In fact, it appears only once in each of the books in The Kingkiller Chronicle and once in “The Lightning Tree.”

Through dangerous trial and error I discovered the proper way to slit a purse and pick a pocket.NW 184

This one, like a lot of the phrasing in The Name of The Wind, almost seems like an accident. Or more properly a coincidence.  There’s a small chance that this will spin as an example of Kvothe’s slightly out of sync notions of right, good, and proper. It’s difficult to imagine him having any qualms about bringing the weight of his desire sown on the world.

“So this is for you. I’ve brought what grammarie I have to bear on it. So it will stay green and living longer than you’d think. I gathered the holly in the proper way and shaped it with my own hands. Sought, wrought, and moved to purpose.”WMF 16

I’ve mentioned before how it seems as though some effort was put into partially aligning Auri and Bast. And this is no different. Pat’s said that Faen magic is fundamentally different from mortal magic, but there are eerie similarities.

Bast touched the trunk with his fingertips and made a slow circuit of the tree. He went deasil, the same direction as the turning sun. The proper way for making. Then he turned and switched hands, making three slow circles widdershins. That turning was against the world. It was the way of breaking. Back and forth he went, as if the tree were a bobbin and he was winding and unwinding.Rogues

This is interesting for a few reasons. It’s a second instance associated with Bast making him the second most significant character related to the proper way of doing things. It reflects a concern on his part about making and unmaking, with and against the turning of the world. And it uses a sewing or weaving metaphor which is somewhat arbitrary in its own context but oddly resonant with Auri making a blanket.

That’s probably enough about three sentences. Auri finds she doesn’t have any tears despite being weary and disappointed. She takes the blanket to Billows to let it blow in the steady wind that ultimately circulates through the Archives. It doesn’t help. She takes it to Old Ironways to bathe in the moonlight. It doesn’t help.

She takes it through Winnoway and Draughting. Etymologically these would both be places with steady air currents as well. Draughting has “a maze of wires” which is almost as interesting as the machinery in Throughbottom. She returns to Mantle and tries wrapping it around the “horrid, galling, stubborn brazen gear.” At this point everything is colored by her disappointment. Her compassion is turning to cruelty. She decides to try Wains.

In the sitting room she tries the couch. In desperation, she tries the floor.

But no. It didn’t fix things at all. She knew it then. She’d known all along, really. Nothing was going to make the blanket right again.

Angry, she thinks maybe she can at least swap it, or something else, for one of the sheets resting in the wardrobe in Tumbrel. Once there, she notes the vanity has “a sinister bent.” It’s a clever pun on her attitude. She sees it because she’s herself untrue. Her own vanity is leading to poor choices.

But tanglehaired and sticky, all unwashed and hollow as she was, she was hardly in the proper state for mending. She was in no mood to tend to the ungrateful thing.

While she tries to exchange the blanket for a sheet, her hair catches fire, ’cause th world finds her similarly ungrateful. She catches her foot on the stairs, not falling, but almost. And when she recovers her blanket’s lying on the bare stone. There’s no fixing that. She heads back to port and stuffs it in the wine rack.

arch

Some of the illustrations in the hardcover span two pages, creating a frame or a cutout. This is one of them. In the Kindle edition, they’re inserted into the text at relatively appropriate points, but they lack the composition and probably the impact of of the printed text. And in this case it’s difficult to determine what’s being depicted. Is it an egress from Mantle? Is it the archway from Simonetti’s apparent drawing of Old Ironways? Does my confusion mirror Auri’s?

The truth she realizes is that she’s the one making a mess of things. She has a rinse. There’s no soap for washing. And then she gives up and goes to bed, thinking that will solves the problem of the day.

It’s been unclear how Auri’s days work. Here it looks like she goes until she’s tired again and then sleeps. So I don’t think they have a necessary one to one relationship with the days in the parent text. They might, but they don’t have to. This attempt at sleep created the tension between six days and seven I talked about in Part X, reifying the weird ring woven by these central chapters. In a sense, the story gets to have it both ways.

We’ll finish up this long digression next time.

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One thought on “Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part XI.iii – THE ANGRY DARK

  1. A few years late to the discussion, but I’m finding this a helpful read as I’ve just finished Auri’s story.

    We learn later that Auri knows how to create or shape, so having a rigid set of rules that ensure actions are proper makes sense.

    I took this to Kilvin’s chastisement of Kvothe after he created the Bloodless. It wasn’t enough that Kvothe created a good thing. It should have been done in a good way. For the right purpose in the right way with a strong emphasis on thinking through how something can be mis-used, even if the intention was good.

    I think of Kvothe as a ruthless pragmatist and a showman. It’s ok to commit murder to save a life. It’s ok to create songs and rumors that aren’t quite true. It’s ok to act in the moment. That comes back to bite him.

    I don’t think someone like Auri can go there. It’s too dangerous. So she exerts rigid control. How both exhausting and paralyzing to know that every choice you make must be the right one. And personal desires would be the most dangerous of all.

    As an aside: I find it interesting that the only time Kvothe is simply himself, with no illusion or artifice is when he is with Auri. He likes to tell everyone that he is taking care of her, but I think it’s the other away around. Skarpi awakened Kvothe to the world. But Auri awakens Kvothe himself. Kvothe said his first interactions with his mother were singing back and forth to each other. Auri and Kvothe do the same thing. What did you bring me? What did You bring Me?

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