barthanderson pointed me toward one of the more fascinating uses for Twitter the other day. Weiser Books is pulling a tarot card twice a day (#1card and #nightcard). Tarot devotees are responding with interpretations (tagged with the corresponding tag, of course). I wasn’t going to get sucked in, until this morning’s card. The Moon. To which I had to write:
THE MOON: Blood in the water. Yours, or mine? I’m not sure. Our hands betray what we have done. Father, I’m sorry. #1card
I was sitting in Starbucks at the time I saw the card come up, thinking about the next bit in HEARTLAND, and ruminating in the back brain about reoccurring phrases. How there are certain sentences and phrases that become loaded with enough meaning that their placement in the novel isn’t accidental. This is an out-growth of The Potemkin Mosaic actually, where the use of a certain word was rife with the linking structure that came with that word.
The Moon is central to Lightbreaker, and it is a card I spent a lot of time with when I was sorting out a sequence of events near the end of the book. And, in the section I’m currently working in HEARTLAND, Markham has just passed between two pillars, across a threshold, and into another world.
All of which is a rambling way to say that the above interpretation applies to both LIGHTBREAKER and HEARTLAND, via links created by some of those phrases. And I’m realizing that one of the central phrases that drove Markham through the first part of LIGHTBREAKER is going to be the thing that will cause him much pain in Book 4 (and following).
But what are these phrases? They’re little aphorisms that we mutter to ourselves, that we swear by. They are the tiny rules that allow us to function throughout the day. They are our excuses and our justifications. And I think it’s one of the fascinating things about exploring characters, when you find these little truisms that define them and see how far they’ll go. How long will they hold them dear? How long will they rely upon them? At what point does the ritual of this phrase, repeated over and over, become meaningless?
And what do they do then?