The Islanders Week 8: Drifting Water to Steep Hillside

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SUMMARY

Mesterline (Drifting Water)

  • Birthplace of KAL KAPES, the poet, who resided with his partner, SEBENN HELADI, in Mester Town.
  • The island is considered a refuge. It's inhabitants are open minded, tolerant, and incurious, making it a good place to hide.
  • The island is popular with deserters. Lack of shelterate laws supposedly make it easier to desert, there. But Black Cap escouades are active.
  • There are daily rain showers.
  • The spring water has a soporific effect. There are 3 public springs and 2 family-run not-for-profit bottling operations.
  • A hundred years ago, the local Seignior decided to exploit the spring water for profit. He created a large industrial complex and sold the water overseas, leaving none left for locals.
  • KAL KAPES returned from an overseas trip and missed his sopor, so he used his poetic words to rile up the locals into revolt. Some mobs and explosions later, the Seignior found himself exiled to another island. The industrial ruins are now tourist attractions of dubious quality.

Muriseay (Red Jungle / Threshold of Love / Big Island / Yard of Bones)

  • Muriseay is the largest island in The Archipelago, but not the capital. It is constitutionally neutral.
  • It has a large polultion of poor immigrants, with the usual attendant problems.
  • Two illegal military bases have been established (and maintained by force) in different parts of the island.
  • The island has rumours of 'lost tribes', natural heritage, and a vibrant arts scene. Artists live tax free, but pay tithes in art.
  • CHASTER KAMMESTON is one artist who refused association with Muriseay.
  • COMMIS THE MIME was another. He was booked for an run of shows on the island by his booking agent, who soon afterward died under mysterious circumstances. Commis himself died on Goorn before the engagement. Some say he staged his own death to avoid the contract.
  • DRYD BATHURST the painter and JORDENN YO the tunneler were both refused entry onto Muriseay.

Nelquay (Slow Tide)

  • Mainly agrarian, but someone is trying to build a marina/hotel/casino on the island. The project is currently on hold while the identity and motive of the owners is being investigated.
  • Suspects in the COMMIS murder were sought here. Some evidence was found, but the suspects never were.
  • KAL KAPES stayed here for a time, but found the island inhospitable. It wasn't the paradise he imagined.

Orphpon (Steep Hillside)

  • Wine and olives are grown here.
  • The island is attractive to visitors, but strict laws restrict stays to 2 weeks, and prevent returns before 2-years are up.
  • Breaking the law has a good chance of landing a person in prison. The author of the entry speaks from personal experience.
  • The island is a family-run fiefdom. The Monseignior is wealthy and holds controlling interest in two inter-island ferry companies and some arms manufacturies.
  • DRYD BATHURST the painter stayed for a year when young as a guest of the Monseignior. During that time he painted his famous Orphpon Sequence, and possibly got involved with the Monseignior's neice (as he does).

QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION

  • I'm not sure we learned a lot new in this set of chapters. What did we learn that seems relevant?
  • The Mesterline entry opines: "There is always some outside influence ready to try to ruin everything." Is this a theme of the book, a comment about writing, or something else?
  • Also in the Mesterline entry, KAL KAPES is spoken of in both the present tense and the past tense. In a previous entry the circumstances of his death were described.
  • Any other thoughts on this group? Did I miss anything?

Comments

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    I reckon that "shelterate laws" are actually intended to prevent refuge/sheltering in a place, rather than facilitate it. So Mesterline has no shelterate laws but that makes it desirable as a place to try to find sanctuary. Previously I had sort of assumed the opposite, but there you go.

    Did we learn anything essentially new? I don't think so. The Archipelago is a great hang-out for artists, what with the tax breaks and all, but we already knew that. I am increasingly wondering (in a semi-paranoid way) why we are carefully told what currencies are accepted where? Is there going to be a test at the end of the book? Sort of 42. In what islands of the Archipelago can you spend Aubracian Talents?

    Some places seemed to me to be loosely modeled on our-world prototypes - other than the Channel Islands / Scilly / Greek Islands / San Juans / etc. For example Muriseay sounds like a typical far-eastern city - heavily overcrowded, polluted and with surrounding shanty towns, but set in semi-paradisaical countryside if you travel away from the city. "Some of the streets are all but impassable with traffic, mopeds, roadside enterprises and pedestrians... in other parts, especially the Colonial Quarter..." reminds me a lot of Delhi, and could probably be echoed in a dozen other similar cities. Mention of the "Colonial Quarter" makes you wonder whose colony, whose empire, when, why etc. But I don't expect those questions will get answered.

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    What I get from these chapters is that the Northerners' war is everywhere, but the Islanders deliberately don't see it. There are northern military police roaming Mesterline; Muriseay has two military camps, maintained by force; someone's building a military naval base on Nelquay.

    Perhaps the emphasis on art is as a distraction from the military "occupation"? And where are the protests against the foreign military?

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    Some places seemed to me to be loosely modeled on our-world prototypes - other than the Channel Islands / Scilly / Greek Islands / San Juans / etc. For example Muriseay sounds like a typical far-eastern city - heavily overcrowded, polluted and with surrounding shanty towns, but set in semi-paradisaical countryside if you travel away from the city. "Some of the streets are all but impassable with traffic, mopeds, roadside enterprises and pedestrians... in other parts, especially the Colonial Quarter..." reminds me a lot of Delhi, and could probably be echoed in a dozen other similar cities. Mention of the "Colonial Quarter" makes you wonder whose colony, whose empire, when, why etc. But I don't expect those questions will get answered.

    It reminded me of Hong Kong, but you're right: it's reminiscent of plenty of large cities in warm climates. Two questions, though.

    Those cities tend to be supported by large rural hinterlands: where are they in the Archipelago?

    And the "colonial" aspect is interesting. Internal evidence elsewhere supports the idea that the islands were colonised by someone. Who? How did that colonisation end?

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    @NeilNjae said:
    Those cities tend to be supported by large rural hinterlands: where are they in the Archipelago?

    I don't have the sense that CP is very interested in the economics of what goes on - as I understand the bits and pieces of what @Apocryphal and others have posted of his other works, they are more concerned with things like dream sates, doubling and mimicry, and so on, rather than trying to present a fully-fledged operational world.

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    I don't have the sense that CP is very interested in the economics of what goes on - as I understand the bits and pieces of what @Apocryphal and others have posted of his other works, they are more concerned with things like dream sates, doubling and mimicry, and so on, rather than trying to present a fully-fledged operational world.

    This is what makes reading CP awkward for me - if he were uninterested in such things, but set his works in our world, they could be assumed; but as this is his world, we can't assume anything. Things like tunneling make no economic sense unless his economy is fundamentally different from ours. This makes my head hurt.

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    Art, in general, doesn’t make much economic sense. The value of art is rarely related to its appeal, the value of its materials, or the skill or education of the artist. This is rather the same in both worlds. The art pieces of Goldsworthy or Jim Denevan, or the Nazca lines or Uffington or crop circles are not that different from Yo’s tunnels, and serve no better purpose. Obviously the people of the archipelago decided to sink some money into tunnels instead of meat dresses. It doesn’t seem so far fetched to me.
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    So - Awkward for me, not awkward for you. Sounds about right! :D

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    Funny. I never noticed how awkward the word ‘awkward’ itself looks. Is there a name for that? When a word looks like it’s meaning?
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    edited April 1

    Awkward is one of those words that always looks like you spelled it wrong... The 'wkw" phoneme is particularly cluster fugly.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    Funny. I never noticed how awkward the word ‘awkward’ itself looks. Is there a name for that? When a word looks like it’s meaning?

    Mimesis is when a word (or construct or words) in some way reflects its meaning - the basic version is onomatopoeia where the sound of the word is like the sound of the thing, such as many of our words for animal sounds. But mimesis goes well beyond that into both audible and visual realms, where a kind of metaphoric set of connections is made between the actual thing and its representation. You see it a lot in films as well as writing. It's very cool when done well, though can also be a bit too obvious and i-your-face.

    That said, i haven't previously come across it used to compare the spelling of a word to its meaning!

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