Note: This is the Editing Blog for my FFVII fanfiction Northern Lights (which you can find at the end of that link). I will be discussing a myriad of topics along with my frequently tangential and harried editing process. You should be able to garner some enjoyment and insight from this without having read the story and/or without prior knowledge of the original game, but if you’re a fan of paranormal romance and/or dark fantasy, you may find it to your liking. The story will be spoiled in this editing examination, though I will do my best to mark spoilers for any other narratives I mention. Thanks for your interest and enjoy!
Warning: Mentions of depression and suicide in addition to discussions about rape/sexual assault. Descriptions of graphic violence.
Interconnectivity, my dear friends. I was pondering this on my way home from my aerobics class. While still rolling on endorphins, I often think of Facebook statuses I’ll probably never post, just because I tend to analyze and over-analyze everything, and I’ll usually think forward about what someone might say, and unfortunately, I have some assholes on my friend’s list. Sigh, I don’t want this to turn into me bitching about FB, because it does many, many good things. I mean it was how I found out about Distant Worlds, and that was worth slogging through the layers of ill-informed and opinionated bullshit, but suffice it to say that I think up a great many things I will more than likely never reveal because I torture myself with what could possibly be said. The one that I might and am really considering is the #amediting status of “Do you believe anyone can be forgiven? Do you believe even the fallen can be redeemed?
(Future Narcissist here. I never did, which is quite a pity. I can think of some of the people who would’ve given responses that would’ve opened up decent discourse. Oh, and there’s also this quote by Mark Twain.
I was made aware of this information by my new and fervent FFVII fangirl friend Fallon (wow that’s a lot of F’s lol) who used the quote to make a few macros, which are posted on our Aeriseph – Sephiroth x Aerith Facebook page of which I am co-admin. Yup, in the time between when I drafted this blog post and now I became the co-admin of a fandom/ship Facebook page AND an Aeriseph forum. I also made an awesome friend ♥♥♥ Our love our Aeriseph is pretty equal, though she does follow more fandoms than I do, which means exponentially more drama. It’s irritating how you can love something so much, but abhor the fandom at times. Ugh, I’m not getting into this right now. It will be discussed at a later point and hopefully I’ll remember to link back to this post.
So I’m an admin on an Aeriseph Facebook page, but I still haven’t created one for this blog. Tsk squared. Oh well back to the past!)
This is the major question presented in Northern Lights. I would answer both questions with a resounding, ‘Yes,’ and add that anyone who seeks absolution with pure purpose will find forgiveness for true. The post I thought up tonight would be directed toward my writer friends, and it would be, “Is there a common thread that runs through your stories? My last three all have the themes of memory, obligation, and mommy issues. I can definitely see this going downhill especially since I’m friends with family members on Facebook, and it would cause some awkward and unwanted questions.
Threads and interconnectivity just tend to flow within my tales. I think of the order I wrote them in quite a lot and how it all intertwines. The Serpent’s Tale was inspired by a fanfiction I wrote over a decade ago (FFVII of course) called Forgiveness and Redemption. It needs to be reedited before I can put it back up again. Then the short Threads of Sorrow was essentially a fanfiction of TST (meta-fanfiction ooooooh). For Northern Lights, it’s written using the template of Serpent. I couldn’t have written NL without having first done TST. If you’re wondering as of this day (9/23/14) The Serpent’s Tale is not published nor is it in any state to be submitted. All of the editing. ALL OF THE EDITING needs to be done before I can even consider that.
(To this day, as well, TST is still unedited and mostly untouched. It was on my list of goals for 2015. I made 16 of them and so far have accomplished three. Yeah…)
I’m not going to lie…one of my reasons behind writing Northern Lights besides the heavy and soul-searing symbolism was that I needed a break from rejection. I’d tried my hand at finding an agent before and met with one partial (which was rejected) and a slew of emailed and even written nos. I was tired. I was depressed. I was border line suicidal. I’d gained over a hundred pounds. I contemplated driving off a bridge, because I just wanted. It. To. Stop. I wanted to stop feeling like a failure, a loser, a reject. I doubted everything about myself. I clearly sucked as a writer, and writing is what gives my life meaning. I want to write something that makes someone else feel the way FFVII made me feel when I played it. It woke me from my apathy. It made me care about things again. It made me remember what I had cared about. It made me think. It made me dream. It inspired so many stories that started to run around my head again and still haven’t stopped after 17 (18) years.
So in the midst of my mire while I was on my way to get a tattoo (a 7 on my left wrist) I was still forcing myself not to drive off a bridge. I used to think that suicide was the most selfish thing you could do, but I’ll tell you the last thing anyone with those thoughts is being is selfish. You truly feel that you and the world would be better off without you in it, but I knew that wasn’t true for me. Honestly, I thought about my brother who had been sick a few years ago whom we really thought we were going to lose. It was a seriously cruel fucking joke of the universe that he kind of got the same thing that killed our mother over a decade ago, but he ended up recovering and is doing great today, but I thought about him, and I thought about how fucking ruined I would’ve been if he had died, and I knew how destroyed he’d be if I did anything to myself, so I didn’t. And then once I got the tattoo and remembered I had the others: a VII on my right wrist, the same ankh that Sephiroth has on his belt in the original game (none of the later or “earlier” iterations have it), and now the Tree of Life on my right forearm and the Midgard Serpent on my left ankle, and I’m getting cremated cause no way in hell am I going to end up in a box and well, that would be it for the tattoos, so I knew I wasn’t going to do anything, but yeah…
I’m…sorry guys. I wasn’t planning on this post going this really dark direction. Next time I should regale you with tales of the 4th of July 2013 and won’t that be a rousing story? What I meant to impart was I needed the hiatus that Northern Lights provided. Granted writing it obviously stirred up a LOT of shit for me, which if you have read it (which you should have. Why are you here if you haven’t?!?!??) it’s still a story that can never be rejected. I can just post it on Fanfiction.net and/or AO3 and everyone who wants to can read it. If just one person does. If just one person reads this and feels just a little bit less alone or feels a little bit more understood than every moment was worth it, and no tear was shed in vain.
Alrighty then! Enough morbidity. It’s time to go to church. Who knew it was Sunday? I noticed I use alliteration quite often based on names. Since Sephiroth’s name begins with the letter “s” I’ll tend to exploit that. Unfortunately Aeris’s name doesn’t quite work in the same way with assonance.
“…slumped horizontal…” What the hell? I think I was trying to describe the train car as being fallen over, but I have no idea why I picked that. Train cars are supposed to be horizontal, you ass ,lol. Maybe I meant it was listing or something like that? It can’t be vertical because there are people inside it. Their trip to her church is the strangest Aeris has ever taken. She’s never walked so boldly or stepped so blatantly, but she has her murderer by her side.
Sephiroth doesn’t believe he has the right to enter a church, especially her church. This puts them into an ironic position, which she doesn’t hesitate to point out.
“’You’re not my murderer anymore,’” she insisted.
“’The past can’t change, child.’” And his despair forced her to sigh.
“’I know that it can’t, but…you do look like an angel and that should be reason enough!’” She’s such an innocent…’
“’You certainly do look like one, regardless of how or why.’”
Sephiroth raised his head and the regret swam through the green. “’And you look like a weak child unable to stop a monster on his quest to destroy the world. Let go of this deception. We both know each other’s truth.’” He can’t let it go; he doesn’t believe he deserves to despite her urging.
“Summer green vied with emerald, and Sephiroth sighed in admitted defeat. “’If you’re commanding that I enter-‘” I like the juxtaposition of her (seemingly) commanding him, the Great General, which by the way he’s never referred to as in game. That is totally fanon. He’s SOLDIER 1st Class, but I suppose the assumption (by how much Cloud blathers on about him) is that he’s the leader of the Shinra army. I’ve read that designation in many a fanfic, seen it on many a fanart, and seen many a fanboy/fangirl with some variation of the name as an online handle.
If you look at some of his parallel characters in other games they’re actually called general e.g. Celes in Final Fantasy VI. Both of them are genetically altered/magically enhanced, forced to work for an evil empire/corporation as its (arguably) highest official, both are faced with terrible choices where one chooses correctly, but the other is driven to corruption and madness for reasons I’ve consistently expressed. General (ha!) thought would be that Sephiroth should be compared with Kefka as both are the villains of their narratives, but Sephiroth is only this if we fail to delve beneath the surface.
FFVII has that ancient evil gnawing at its heart whereas with FFVI there really is no ancient evil (unless you count the side quests involving the eight dragons or Doom Gaze but they’re not part or integral to the main plot). The statues are what they are; neither good nor ill, merely the source of magic in the world. It is Kefka who corrupts them by upsetting the balance to drain their power. This is more in line with Jenova in VII , an indisputable “ancient” evil (ancient in quotes because it was initially thought to be that in terms of the Cetra/Ancients, but the double entendre implication in that lie is both convoluted and clever. It is an ancient evil, but it is not an Ancient) that as a counterpoint corrupts Sephiroth in order to use him to do the same.
I’ve already gone over the debatable position of Sephiroth’s villainy where Kefka’s is never in question. This might get me some fan hate, but I think it’s this complexity that makes Seph the better villain because he’s the better and more complex character.
(FN – Thinking about it more critically, I could say that Kefka is the better villain due to Sephiroth not being the true villain of his narrative at all, but the fallen angel is the better character due to his complex and tragic backstory of which Kefka really has none whatsoever. He’s the monster clown similar to the Joker, but the Joker has an attempt at a backstory, numerous and conflicting as it might be, whereas the villain of FFVI is just mad. We’re never explicitly or implicitly told anything in the story whereas with VII quite a lot is presented to answer these questions especially when they released Crisis Core. More than just Sephiroth suffered hideous side effects of the process to make them what they were, and Seph was literally born that way, and [I believe] the only one who was created in that particular way. You’ll have to forgive me if I’m not entirely correct on this as I didn’t finish CC, and had to rely on outside information. Well…this was a long bit of future exposition don’t you think? Back to the past again)
…whereas Seph failed even in his fall, but…though Sephiroth might have failed, he’s the Lucifer arc. Lucifer/Satan is the greatest enemy of the world and God, and you can’t kill Sephiroth. He’s always around because the devil is always there. Lurking in the shadows, boring into your mind, whispering darkness into your soul. I’m using “Sephiroth” liberally here as I believe by this point Jenova has tainted him beyond the point of redemption in the canon or is just using his form because it’s the most tormenting one for Cloud to see since “he’s” the one who killed Aeris. So while Kefka might’ve won the battle; he still lost the war. With Sephiroth as with Lucifer, the war constantly rages on.
Sticking with my theory concerning the “real” Sephiroth and getting back on the “he’s a parallel for Celes” train, she was a Magitek Knight and general. She has an opposite in Kefka as well since they were both augmented the same way, but she managed to keep her mental faculties/morals. This is really only implied in FFVI. You’re never really told/shown why Kefka was or went insane (another point for VII I think since the catalyst for Sephiroth’s insanity is obviously Jenova paired with the lies he was told), and are left to assume that it was a potential side effect of the process to make a Magitek Knight, the FFVII super soldier equivalent in FFVI. Kind of like how the Red Skull was batshit insane but Captain America was awesome. Sometimes with great power comes great insanity.
Celes had a similar aloofness that Sephiroth shares, but when she uncovered the truth, it was the actual truth and didn’t come with an alien space god raping her mind. She’s actually my favorite character in that game because she starts off as a power on the opposing side, but when she sees what they’re doing, she’s disgusted and appalled, goes against it and is branded a traitor. That takes an immense amount of courage, and I wrote several fanfics for VI that centered on her many, many years ago before I became obsessed with VII, but I always saw her and Sephiroth as being similar. She just found the brighter path while he was pushed into darkness. Oh and the swords…Celes has the runic blade and Seph has the Masamune.
Then there’s Beatrix in FFIX who is the general of the Alexandrian army and who has Save the Queen (and only one eye if the eye patch can be believed. Hm, I’m wondering now who or what in the hell could’ve bested Beatrix enough that she lost an eye if that is the case?). They all have named weapons not that other characters don’t, but it helps strengthen my point. Beatrix is also a total bad ass and kicks the every loving shit out of your party on at least two occasions even AFTER you win. You have to stay alive long enough for her to kick your ass. What the shit is that?!
Anyway, agree or disagree I always gave Seph a bit of a parallel with those characters. Yes, of course he still has to stand toe to toe with the other villains (and I think he does a fantastic job. I am NOT getting into a who would win in a fight argument. I’m pretty sure that was the whole point of Dissidia), but Final Fantasy does tend to bleed symbolism everywhere like a fresh wound, and while he’s never explicitly called general, it’s a pretty safe head canon to assume, and well fuck, this first part of Northern Lights is called The General and the Rose, and I LOVE that name.
“Her little voice came from close and below and when he looked down she was holding a flower. A lily white as ice held up to his hair, the same hue as moonlit silver. Aeris peered up from behind her bangs, as he took it slowly from her hand. Against his black glove this bloom pulsed like white fire, and he had to dampen his senses for their smell. Among it fresh as a new June day swam the scent of her summer skin. He held on to that as he twirled the white flower between his thumb and forefinger.” When a maid gives you a flower…
That lily…I initially thought it was a variation of a brick joke, but it’s more along the lines of Chekhov’s Gun. Seems insignificant, fairly quickly forgotten, but comes back later. There’s a little bit of a parallel with it and Lucrecia, because in the quest to take Aeris someplace safe, she takes a backseat to that, is (again) forgotten (except for the random reminders that feel like a kick in the gut because she’s been forgotten), but she is the underlying sorrow of this story, the longest thread that binds him to the past. She is literally where he began and he never knew that. He not only never knew her, he never even knew she existed. Somewhere somebody has this story where they were lied to about who their mother was and then they found out the truth and set out to find her. Come on Lifetime, get with it!
“Does she trust me that much now? Sephiroth thought as the maid approached the altar, brushing dust off with her hand.” I asked the Google if there was an altar in the church, aaaaaaand the Google asked the Wiki and the Wiki didn’t know. I don’t know who to blame. It doesn’t say, but the picture it looks like there are flowers growing where one would be.
I’m keeping it as is and see what my betas say. (FN – My betas unfortunately said nothing as none of them had the time to read the story before I started posting it.)
He walked between broken and missing pews, but where they were gone more flowers did grow. Every space that could’ve been empty and grieved was filled with the light of life. If I am an angel, I’m one of the fallen…I don’t belong in this place. He almost turned to escape the shame, but Aeris reached out her hands. Her coat was balled in a neat green pile on the ashy wood, looking almost like another rich bed from which new blooms could flourish.
When Sephiroth took the little fingers, Aeris grimaced to the leather beneath. “I wish you’d take your gloves off…oh.” For no sooner said then it was done. She barely had time to register before her hands were enveloped again. But once in that heat, she smiled so bright that his lips parted in utter awe. So I never realized until recently (it’s Future Narcissist speaking. Yeah, I know super confusing, but I told you I wrote this a year ago and a year can yield many insights. I didn’t use the italics since the except is in that and I can’t seem to get the different fonts to behave), like a few months ago, but holy shit, how did I not?? They’re standing before the alter in her church hand in hand.
Um, what very common Western ritual has this? Of course I know that FFVII was made in Japan. I’m not that much of a dunce, but I, the writer of this fanfiction, am American so it seems some of my internal ideas bled through without me even realizing it. It’s a (symbolic) marriage the day after they (re)met. Can fools rush in without even realizing? 😉 I…like the idea though. Sephiroth has made some serous vows towards her. He promised to see her out of the city and take her someplace safe. So he’s vowed to protect her, and Aeris has made some promises towards him, too. She said she’d help him find the Followers of Seph who may know about his real mom. Soooo both of them had made vows towards each other for things that are very important to them both.
Sephiroth has been searching for his mother his entire life, and he initially found only a lie. Aeris has always been looking for that place of safety (in addition to her purpose in life). Think in the OS she had Cloud as her bodyguard. She’s lived in the slums all of both of her lives. Safety has always been a big priority for her and running from danger is part of her daily ritual. They’ve both promised to aid the other in very important and deeply integral things, and the Planet could serve as witness 🙂 Oh man…I can’t believe I kind of had my main characters get married in the fourth chapter without realizing it, and it totally makes sense.
“’Do you forgive me, little one?’” He lifted his face and she’d never seen such sorrow in green that didn’t bleed. The mask he wore was so gorgeous in its attempt to be utterly blank, and she laid a soft palm to his cheek.
“’Oh Sephiroth…I forgave you a long time ago.’”
He covered the hand on his face for a moment, shaking his head in disbelief. It was there in her skin, the sweet pain of absolution. She would give, but he could never accept not even in a place full of gods grace.”
‘Say your ave, little flower,’ the fallen finally said. “You have nothing to fear from me.’” Forgiveness…the sweetest gift the fallen can receive. That “Say your ave” line came out of a lot of back and forth. It was initially “Say your plea,” but I’d been listening to this version of “Oh Danny Boy” sung by Laura Wright
and besides the fact that certain lyrics in this song make me think of Sephiroth looking for/finding Lucrecia’s grave (listen to it while reading that part in Chapter 25. Even for me or maybe definitely for me, the tears were a flowing) like the one line “…and kneel and say an ave there for me.” I’d heard the word obviously used in such songs as “Ave Maria,” and from both contexts I assumed it must mean a prayer or a plea. And just because I’m a nice person, I’ll give you this beautiful version of the fore mentioned song perform by Josh Groban.
The general translation of Ave Maria is “Hail Mary (and my mind immediately follows this with “full of grace,” which is another awesome song. It’s the first one I made a slideshow for),
but in “Oh Danny Boy” there’s a definite implication of it referring to a prayer or a plea.
Looking the term up yielding that it was used as an expression of greeting or leave-taking, and in my consideration of whether or not to use it, I brought it to my friend Siobhán (who runs an Etsy store ShadowsDust that sells amazing dolls. Behold.
In our discussions the phrase “ave atque vale” came up, and I kind of squinted, because I’d never heard of this sorcery before. Well the phrase translates to “hail and farewell.” The word are from Catullus 101, an elegiac poem by Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (hence Catullus 101…I’d assume it’s his 101st poem) commemorating the premature death of his brother, or rather…it’s too his dead brother, and it’s beautifully meta-poetic in its dedication to the “mute ashes,” which is all that is left.
So armed with this and the new phrase “ave atque vale,” (which I’m trying to remember to use in parting) I decided to go with Seph saying, “Say your ave…” Also “ave” is Latin and the idea of the One Winged Angel saying something specifically in Latin when his leitmotif is written in that tongue just seemed too meta and wonderful to pass up.
(Future Narcissist – are there any other characters with leitmotifs in Latin??? I just thought about this while I was editing this…editing blog entry. Hm, I can’t think of anyone, but I’m more of an old school gamer, so it might exist in something newer. Let me know in the comments !)
Warning: Discussion of rape/sexual assault in following paragraph.
“If he’d wanted to he could’ve slipped into her thoughts to see what Aeris prayed for, but that would be foul invasion, and he wanted no part of that again.” What’s worse mind rape or physical rape? What an absolutely horrible and horrifying question. Being who and what I am I obviously have a LOT of strong opinions about physical rape, but imagine if you will for a moment someone tearing into your mind and stealing your very will, your very ability to make decisions. This is what Sephiroth explicitly does to Cloud in FFVII’s canon and I truly believe (and have argued) is done to Sephiroth by Jenova. Ugh, now I’m thinking about if someone stole into your mind and made you had sex with them. It would be double rape. Why can I see GRRM doing this somewhere in his story with the warging…*shudders* I seriously feel ill right now thinking about that. Like my God…I need to move on from this subject.
“You answered my prayer, didn’t you, dear friend. I wished I wasn’t alone. I never thought you’d send me him…” Be careful what you wish for.
“It’s alright,’” she assured him. “’I can get a little emotional when I commune with the Planet.’”
“’So long as you weren’t crying about me. I never want to be cause for your tears.’” Oh Seph, more dramatic irony for you. The cruelest is in the original story where we the players (and the rest of the characters after Vincent tells them) know that your real mother is Lucrecia, but you never do…
“The church was bright behind her, but the next way was dark before.” The hero’s path is always dark for it leads to the unknown. The known (light) behind; the unknown (dark) before, the quest, the path, the journey. I’m just going to say it, guys. If you haven’t, you need to read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It’s one of those books that changed my outlook on stories, narratives, and life in general. The Hero Path quote is my favorite one from that volume, and on page 232 of the version I have (yes, I remember that explicitly), he talks about the Tree of Life/Holy Sephiroth. I love this quote so much, I made a macro of it, though it is the Hero’s Path Distorted.
I also made a video of myself reading this…amongst many other videos. I may need to do some vlogging on here at some point, since I currently have over 100 videos of me reading things or ranting. But until then…
We have not even to risk the adventure alone
for the heroes of all time have gone before us.
The labyrinth is thoroughly known …
we have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination
we shall find a God.
And where we had thought to slay another
we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone
we shall be with all the world.”
“’I’m here, little flower.’ He took her small fingers, but frowned in the pall of her fear.” “I’m here…” Those words are starting to become the best thing she’s ever heard. I’m always worried I’m doing that: rushing the romance. We’ll see what the betas say. I think for now, she’s starting to see him as safety.
“’Th-This is why I’ve been trapped in the slums. The things that happen here are just too terrible…’”
’I’m certain they’re not more ‘terrible’ than me.’ He almost smiled again. Aeris stared appalled for a moment, then gave a little laugh.
‘’No, I guess not.’ She squeezed his hand, and it was solid, warm, and strong.” To catch a wolf you need a wolf, preferably a bigger, stronger wolf especially if you’re a lamb. Your wolf has longer fangs and claws but he has no taste for sheep. Sephiroth is the “worst” thing she or the world have ever experienced (paired with Jenova of course. When I use Sephiroth in these terms, I’m always referring to him as a conglomerate of Jenova, because she made him into that horror. Hey, I’m not all about just blaming the mother for the sake of doing it, but when it’s her fault, well you have to call a spade a spade). Since he’s worst than anything in the slums of Midgar, it makes him the best protector of all.
“’We ‘require’ her.’ He grinned pointing his axe at Aeris’s chest. ‘Then you can be on your way.’
”Unacceptable,’ Sephiroth snapped standing up straighter as Aeris trembled beneath his hands. ”She’s not mine to give. It’s more like I’m hers, and you should be begging her for grace.’'” Yeah…Seph quelled that shit right away, and that “Unacceptable” totally puts me in the mind of my friend Matthew/Nightmare hehe, who does Blood Borne Let’s Plays among other things (SHAMELESS PLUG OOOOMMMGGGG!!!). Oh mercy…quite a few of Sephiroth’s mannerisms were inspired by him. He’s narcissistic in the way that I’m narcissistic and we’ll gleefully have monosyllabic exchanges of our own arrogance while turning up our noses at the plebeians, but at the same time never believing we’re good enough for any recognition we might receive. We’re a complicated bunch…
“’Or I could just kill you all. Would that payment be sufficient?’” Do. Not. Fuck. With. Me.
“Blood rarely has sound unless one can hear the swish of fluid in living veins, but when steel invades beneath the heart, it’s what fills the air in a scream.” Oh God, these scenes. Fight scenes are my second favorite to write after romance scenes (not sex scenes you pervs! More like kissing and whatnot, though I can’t deny sexy time is fun to pen), but they come with a…double edged sword (couldn’t resist).
Mean. But ugh yes, these scenes. You’ll see some definite Advent Children inspiration in here. I usually try to challenge myself to write the most graphic and difficult scenes as possible. I’m very empathetic and watching someone be impaled is near torturous for me. The final fight scene in Advent is impossible for me to watch when Sephiroth pretty much literally uses Cloud as a pin cushion and you just see the sword going in again and again and again and again. Then of course we have THIS right here.
Yeah, so if I ever want to lose weight, I can just watch this scene from Advent because I can’t eat afterwards. All I can do is think about that sword sliding through flesh and entrails painting blood on that flawless steel.
“Another he skewered through the front, lifting the sword so he slid slowly down. The man struggled screaming til the sword parted his spine and he jerked like a waterless fish. Blood and guts painted the perfect steel while Sephiroth grabbed his victim’s head and twisted in slow silence to snap.” This is not even mentioning the nightmares where I’m falling forever until I land on it sometimes front sometimes back. It doesn’t matter…all the dreams end the same. So in the scene of the blood dance, I pity Aeris as does Seph because she has to witness this, and sword stuff always plays with rape tropes, ugh.
“Sephiroth’s pupils shrank to thin slivers as he crushed those fingers for daring to touch.” Holy fucking creepy. This is what he was made for, and Aeris realizes he didn’t lie about that.
“The robber tried. He truly did, but his lungs were blocked by steel. With his broken hand he scrabbled against leather until the steel entered him deeper, sliding elegantly through his back so his body could only dance.” It’s far harder to read this words than it was to write them. I’m put in the mind of Sarah McLachlan’s “Witness.”
“Is misery made beautiful right before our eyes.
Mercy be revealed or blind us where we stand…”
One of my favorite things about Sarah’s lyrics is that many of them don’t rhyme, but they fit so well together that you have to really listen to notice that. At least I did at first. Fun fact: Surfacing, my favorite Sarah McLachlan album came out in 1997, too. 🙂
“’I will play your flesh up the length of my sword until you find breath to beg.’’ The unblinking eyes glanced at the blade. ‘It’s going to be a very long song…'” Trust me…he knows how to prolong death and agony. As long as he leaves it in the man won’t die (well…he won’t die right away or quickly). He’ll just…hang in between struggling to die just as he struggles to breathe, but there’s just enough breath to sustain life and your body doesn’t want to let go. Despite the torture, despite the pain, life just wants to cling.
“She was looking up in what he hoped was not admiration.” He “deserves” that as much as forgiveness especially after what she was forced to see. Though that is not his fault in the least; they were attacked by that gang.
“’What if I told that I don’t believe it? That I don’t think you’re a monster at all.’
‘Your belief won’t change the truth, little one, but I thank you all the same.’”
This…line really makes me think and I whittled it down to the supposed dichotomy of absolute truth vs. relative truth. The conundrum I’m running into is whether or not absolute truth exists. I guess I should try to break it down. This is of course all from my ridiculous thought process, but I’m going to give it a go.
Relative truth is something that could be changed based on time or opinion. “That dress is pretty.” “It’s hot in here.” “This pie is delicious.” It’s truth that’s relative to the person saying it or the time it’s said. “It’s the middle of the day” may be true for the person saying such in that particular time zone, but it wouldn’t be true for someone in a different part of the world nor will it be true forever. Another name for this could be mutable truth. It’s a truth that while not a lie could change based on factors. Though you could argue that it’s the middle of the day somewhere just like 5:00 always exists.
Not so absolute truth. Absolute truth is true now and forever across space and time. It will never change; it cannot be altered. It is what it is. I struggle with this because what truly is forever? I could say, “The earth is round,” and that is true regardless of who, what, when, or where I am, but one day the earth will or may no longer exist so this will no longer be true. It would have to be changed to “The earth was round,” but just that small word alteration means the initial statement wasn’t the absolute truth.
Theologians and the religious would say that deity is absolute, and indeed the Absolute is a major tenet in Qabalism (known as Ein Sof) among other schools of religious thought. Hell…in the OS there’s even a song called “Jenova Absolute” (!!!), which I would highly bet is based on this idea as Jenova is an eldritch abomination/ancient horror and we don’t know how long it’s existed(Future Narcissist here. I’m doing a little bit of Wikipedia research on this as I edit AGAIN and, well, I need a lot more coffee if I’m going to study the Absolute. According to the article on it, which is linked above, they were emanated from the Ancient of Days, [a term I first heard in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, the title a reference to Paradise Lost, of which the first book’s alternative title is Northern Lights. So many wheels] and my head just hurts. I need to finish reading Fortune’s Mystical Qabalah, read 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley, and then write an essay on how this was filtered into, used, and subverted in my beloved OS because wow. I mean…knowing this or just knowing of this, how you could not think FFVII is phenomenal and deeper than a endless chasm is truly beyond me.). Combine this with the idea behind the Reunion Theory and we have an absolute horror. As long as that theory stands this abomination will always exist *shivers*
I wasn’t expecting or wanting to go this deep and certainly not this dark. I do believe in the Absolute in terms of there is something that has existed and always will existed above the highest layer of the universe. It’s outside of universal influence, and the universe exists because of it. It’s what humans think of when they’re talking about God, but I believe its properties are impossible for us to access of understand, which is again something spoken of in terms of the Qabalah. We just don’t have the senses or faculties to do so.
Every religious system has a way of knowing this thing collectively considered deity because there needs to be a bridge between it and humanity. Christianity has the trinity but also the angels who were messengers. The oft referenced Qabalah has the Sephiroth, the holy stations which though esoteric act as sort of stepping stones between us and the limitless light. This is obviously a distorted reference in FFVII with the “mother” and the son as opposed to the Father and the Son of Christianity. Catholicism has the saints or even the Pope who is the closest flesh and blood being to God. Gnosticism has the aeons and knowledge itself. There must always be a bridge.
So what does this mean for our story? *scrolls the long way back up* Aeris tells Seph that she doesn’t believe he’s a monster to which he replies that her belief won’t change the truth. Sephiroth is taking his monster status as absolute, something immutable. Looking at the above about Jenova, the false mother, we could see why the fallen would think such, but to Aeris this is relative truth. It’s only as true as you believe and she doesn’t, because of the truth he was denied. The eldritch horror isn’t his mother, and he’s free of its influence now. He only thinks he’s a monster because of the residue of darkness making guilt cling to his soul. This is not to say the Cetra doesn’t believe in absolute truth. On the contrary, she believes his beauty and his strength (which are both represented in two of the Holy Sephiroth: Tiphereth and Geburah) are absolutes, which per my above arguments would stand so long as Sephiroth exists, which could arguable be forever (in some form/consciousness) per my above arguments due to the Reunion Theory…and oh my fucking lord now I’m tired.
Not a cliffhanger ending, but a nice one and a book end. It starts and ends with the scratching. What awaits them in Sector 2? Will they find the Followers of Seph? Do these Followers know anything about his true mother? And will they be willing to give that information up?
Now we finish the reedit. (Huh? I guess I just went straight to the reedit from here? Past Narcissist is confusing.) So far I don’t have too many notes for that so hopefully we can put that in as a short entry before starting chapter 5, which has neither quote nor picture. Yay! Project time.
I really thank you readers for staying with me tonight. Hopefully you all weren’t scared away by the sudden bout with my darkness. I can’t promise that that won’t happen again as I have other topics to rip open wounds, but, well, I suppose many of you are currently yelling at me for apologizing (whoohoo life mimicking art!) so I shall cease and bid you goodnight.