Comment on In the empty halls of symbols

  1. Iroh, playing water earth fire air

    Oh, wow. I'm so very sorry I didn't comment on this when I should have, but this is so calm and strange and marvellous: thank you so much.

    It's such a delicate, enchanting response to / enlargement of the painting, and it vibrates with possibilities - the House of Finite Numbers, with its golden roofs; the doors 'covered in drawings of paths and dead ends' - in a way which is entirely true to Carrington's work. I think the pear which is instead of an answer, and not quite an apple of knowledge, and the idea that that connection it itself 'juicy and grainy like a ripe fruit', works absolutely brilliantly as a turning-point in the fic, because Carrington's weirdness is all about opening up that 'not quite', that 'space of wonders'.

    And it's about grounding it, as well, in concrete details and connections, which you do marvellously here - I love the way the fic offers this little chain of kindnesses, of a good sausage and a sweet pear, as well as a space of strangeness. And it's deeply satisfying, as well, in the way it turns its attention to each element of the painting in turn, and offers a story - or a question - for them without ever shutting off their possibilities. It's a very generous take, in that it acknowledges and contains the What do you mean question, without either definitely answering or completely dismissing it. I particularly love this exchange:

    Finally, when the boy looked behind his shoulder, he saw his shadow, wearing his same eyes, shrouded in his same cloak. The shadow opened its mouth to ask a question; the boy raised a finger to his mouth and shushed it. It was as young as him and just as harmless; he saw it for what it was, like the dancer and the spheres, and so they sat at the table together, ate until they both were full, and fell asleep by the fire.

    Which shows so surely and quietly that the boy has learned from the Daughter's not-quite-answer to his question, and is able to pass on that not-answer with kindness, and see his shadow for what it is. And it's all grounded in the lovely final line, which almost reminds me in cadence of le Guin, with the boy and his shadow eating their fill, and falling asleep by the fire.

    I think the shadows are such and elegant solution, as well, to the doubling of the boy and the dog - just as this whole fic is a very elegant not-quite-answer to the painting. It's a lovely, strange thing, and I'm so pleased to be able to hold the thought of the boy and the dog (and I love so much that the dog gets her due, here, as well as a sausage!) setting off towards golden roofs and snowy ridges in the back of my mind when I look at Carrington's painting. Really, thank you so much (and I'm so sorry, again, that these thanks are so late). This is beautiful.

    Last Edited Tue 27 Oct 2020 08:05PM UTC

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