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Illumination 31: Make Sense

Illumination 31: Make Sense published on 118 Comments on Illumination 31: Make Sense

Skin Deep is back from its short break! Thank you everyone for your patience! there is a CHANCE that I won’t be able to update next week, but I’ll try everything I can to get it done in time! October is a very busy month for me! But I’m officially done with conventions for the year, so things should be slowly going back to normal for me! Hooray!

Also look look! Skin Deep got a great write up on Bleeding Cool! Go read about it!!!


Sorry for the language.. but I feel for Jim here..


Ya. Imagine. He’s grown up his whole life seeing his family as some amusing relic of a bygone age, descendants of the great hero – keepers of some silly traditions at most. Now, he finds out that they were given a sacred and important trust by an ancient-wise-one (Ravi = Merlin analogue?) that they accepted and pledged to uphold – including the preservation of knowledge and the training of the guardians.

Jim should be super pissed at his family. They not only failed him, but their entire world. The “curse” made his life horrible as a kid. Now he finds out there was a major upside to it? That it marked him as special in cool ways – not just get bullied ways?
His great and noble ancient family ignored the instructions they were given by their wise-and-ancient Ravi-cum-Merlin about what they were doing and guarding, lost information, and appointed the wrong people to their ‘sacred task’ — because they forgot about the gift of Ravi? People like this are how civilization falls and wisdom is lost. They are how the dark ages return. They are base and deserve no pride.

Once they accepted that charge, they didn’t get to be people anymore. They became guardians, nobles. Yes, they get to make that decision for their unborn children and their children’s children until the end of time. His family owes the frikkin’ world a major and abject apology for falling asleep at their post.

Jim has only one honourable course forward and that is to reject his family’s negligence in their duty and become the Guardian. He must take over leadership of his family and cast out those who do not completely repent their abject failure. I know this is a fictional world, but I am so disgusted by his family at this point. People seem to respond to them with: “Aww aren’t they loving and understanding and just great?” Like they are the family everyone wanted to grow up in. But nobles don’t get to be normal – if they are, people die and suffer. They don’t get to be warm and fuzzy. They have a sacred duty to preserve something, to fail at that is to fail at the only excuse for existence. The Finns are are irresponsible and self-indulgent. Including Jim.

Dude, calm the fuck down. We dont know what happened and I dont see how you come to the conclusion that they deliberately ignored their mission. Its way too likely that the line of knowledge was broken by circumstances outside of the families control to just assume they did it on purpose. The one to blame here is Ravi for not setting up failsafes and just assuming that things would work out. Especially since his earlier question as to whether finn knows why he is guarding the egg implies that he expected knowledge to get lost. Even more so as he apparently didnt bother to check whether his plan was working or not, despite spending finns entire lifetime in the LA.

Dude, that’s kiiiiind of harsh. Some of it might be true, but it’s pretty harsh. Wisdom -does- get lost and not always for easily-explainable reasons. It’s entirely possible that the ‘curse’ didn’t manifest for so long (Jim mentions it only happens once every several generations) that the way they did things when there wasn’t a ‘special one’ probably just became the way they did things period. Probably somebody died young, or some jerk made a power grab, and since it’s been a few centuries since the Great War and Ravi’s gift, it’s easy to see how something could’ve gotten lost in translation through no fault of anyone’s own. Could’ve been malice, but likely wasn’t. I mean – for a GREAT example of this sort of thing, go read Dragonflight. In four hundred years without Thread or five full Weyrs to preserve it, a lot of tradition was lost and the stuff that was kept was all muddled, to the point where it hurt instead of helped because the methods for dealing with the things that happened when it broke down were lost.

Sure, Ravi’s right to be pissed that things went so screwball, but at the same time, eh’s also partially at fault for not keeping a closer eye on things, AND Jim’s family had likely no say in the fucking up.

This, by the way, is why you keep comprehensive records and store them in ways and places that they’re not likely to be destroyed A lot of ancient techniques were lost because people were so secretive they didn’t write anything down, and then they got killed or died early and their apprentices never got the chance to learn them.

Merely storing the records safely is of little help without a deciphering key.
Language changes and evolves. So a static record in great shape, from over a Millennia ago, won’t be much good on its own today, because no-one reads its language any more.

A millennium is not an impossible task to keep information for in written form. There are people who are fluent in Old English and back further, Latin. The Vedas, estimated at 3,000-8,000 years with the written forms being a bit younger than that, have been carried down for centuries. If it was a coded language a key might be required but keeping written history presents little natural language challenge. It just requires someone valuing the language enough to retain and a culture that perpetuates that pattern. Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages, if not the oldest, in the world. I’m not giving the Finns a pass on that one.

I will say, however, there are two main issues as I see them, none particularly originating with the current Finns. The culture of protecting that knowledge was not strongly enough emphasised and was thereby diluted and became a “first son” deal. Maybe the thought it would be simpler or fairer. That comes to the second point. If Ravi had fully explained the importance of the task and why each detail needed to be followed in a certain way I think the family would have preserve it. If something is valuable, like a gem, people naturally protect it. If it is not understood and seen as less important then naturally other duties would proceed it in terms of consideration.

Tldr; Ravi didn’t impress them of the overall importance or he didn’t teach them properly. Additionally, the former Finns somewhere along the line lost bits of their knowledge by focusing on the wrong aspects.

If Griffins live at a max 200 years or so, and assuming that all of the Finns Past all lived to the ripe old age of 200, 1000 years only takes us to Jim’s Great-Great-Great-Grandparents. 5 Generations potentially. Even if there was a book that had guidelines in it explaining about the curse, and they left behind were in a big book originally in Latin or perhaps even Greek, that over the years had annotations added to it in different languages and over time became more and more illegible as more and more people wrote in it, or accidents happening like a cat walking over it as they were writing in ink. If Griffin 1 and 2 wrote in Latin, Griffin 3 presumably would be in the Middle Ages around the time that more and more stuff was written in Medieval English (Speke Parott), then Griffin 3 probably wrote really illegibly with cursive writing and progressively further onward until you get Jim’s grandparents who probably have got a book covered in both Latin/Greek, Medieval English or Medieval French (Norman), Cursive writing, ink splots and all manner of doodles and stuff on it…
That book would be like a heavily graffitied toilet cubicle, where newer generations read only the newer transcripts, and didn’t the older ones, therefore they missed out on a lot of context that wasn’t in the newer annotations.

I see what you’re getting at, looking at overlapping lifespans, but generations are measured in the time between birth and when a creature is expected to start reproducing (that is, creating the next generation). For humans it’s estimated as 20 years (it might not be exactly accurate, but it’s close enough and it simplifies the math). For gryphons, let’s say it’s 50 years. A millennium would be twenty gryphon generations. Twenty times for young gryphons learning information and then passing it on to their own young. That’s a lot of chances to lose knowledge.

I get where you’re coming from but I wonder how far down the line they messed up. If for example the third generation messed up and the rest followed blame can not be soloy put on Jim’s parents. You can’t blame them for something they don’t know squat about let alone the misinformation.

Oop. I can see this ending very poorly. Jim has already spent some time this chapter brooding about the weight of the Finn curse after seeing Colin inheriting it and wondering how his brother will cope when brightly colored hair loses its novelty. He already mentioned he’s not so fond of Ravi, and now he’s weighing a guilt trip on Jim about how this curse that he struggled with when he was younger is a “gift” that’s being squandered, a gift Ravi apparently had some involvement in putting on the Finns. With this shocker laid on him, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jim has a royal temper tantrum very soon.

my question to you is, what makes it a curse? i mean judging by ravi’s reactions, it seems it was never meant to be a curse and they over the years somehow managed to forget that the tallness and the colorful hair equates super cool magical abilities

how, exactly are super cool magical abilities a curse?

i mean imagine if jim had GROWN UP knowing that he wasn’t cursed. he was chosen. he’s the little twelve year old in fantasy books that wakes up one day as “the chosen one”
who /wouldn’t/ want to be THE CHOSEN ONE

…”Gifts”? Is he implying he endowed the Finns with earth magic?

I have no idea how powerful Ravi is or what exactly he *can* do. Regardless of him being a pretty swell guy overall, I admit that’s just a bit unnerving…

Green hair is symbolic of earth magic in all likelihood. Makes you wonder what Colin will be up to now, freezing everything and whatnot.

Really? I was thinking Air. Could you imagine the mischief.

Colin had blue hair, so probably water IF he has the “gift”. But it all makes sense now, since the carving on the side of Phineas’ tomb was of him blocking fire and him being called “Red”.

See, being an Aussie, I just assumed “Red” was another nickname for someone with GREEN hair, similar to the Australian common nickname for anyone with red hair: “Blue”. A sort of visual rhyming slang, I guess. Well, not rhyming, but you get what I mean. Blue or Bluey is a common nickname for any bloke with a shock of red hair. This makes my personal nickname for Colin at this point “Red”…

Blue is the colour of frozen oxygen, so I’m fine with it being water or air if Colin turns out to have a different ability. But my big question? How come his hair didn’t do that plant thing every OTHER time someone cut it off?

W-why is Australia so WEIRD?!

Australia is not weird.
Australia is normal.
It’s the rest of the world that’s weird.
The rest of the world has a hissy fit at Australian slang, yet Australians quickly pick up, understand, and properly use slang from the rest of the world.

In all fairness to poor Jim, when I cut off my hair I usually don’t try jamming it into the ground either. Ravi really should have come back sooner and maybe tried explaining things to the poor guy…

Maybe he can do a better job with Colin, since it’s pretty clear to me that the kid has this curse/magic, too.

Actually, based on the fact that no current living Finn knows what Jim’s exact deal is and none of them know the last time a previous Finn had Jim ‘talents’, I’m thinking that Ravi’s ‘gifts’ only show up when he does, and he only showed up in Liverpool a short time before Jim was hatched. Which is why the younger Finns have the ‘gift’ and oldest does not.

Yes this is what happens when you have War, Destruction of Culture.. you get generations of people that know nothing of there History…. the Key to all Culture is the Knowledge of why??? the Impression I go of the character named Finn is that this crucial knowledge has been lost with the centuries. Sad but i have seen it over the Last 45 Years of life. It is criminal and as a result people have no direction in life.

Speak the Queens English you daft bastard! Seriously, I feel like a lot of the problems the gang has been dealing with are the result of people not explaining themselves! I mean would it really be that hard for Michele’s ghost dad or whatever to just speak in actual not vague sentences?!

Honestly, I get the feeling that Ravi has tried to explain it before, only to be completely oblivious to the fact that he was just annoying Jim and not actually getting anything through to him, thus all the angst he’s been showing toward Ravi since he showed up.

His hair seems to be growing back really slowly for once, if at all…

His haircut lasted a fair amount of time in The One-Eyed Bear; it’s only been a few minutes in-universe, so it’s not totally crazy that it hasn’t grown back yet.

Still possible that Ravi’s demonstration has something to do with it, though.

I feel sorry for Paul.
He’s spent all that time training to be the Guardian, and he’s going to be kicked out of it, once Jim and Colin are trained.

Now I’ve gotta wonder who thought up Paul’s training since he lacks the elemental “gift” and how different it is from the training Jim (and probably Colin) will get.

It didn’t seem that way to me; in Th One-Eyed Bear,Jim cut off his hair and startedrunning, and by the next page, his hair was back to long again. And here in Hello, Goodbye( ) Jim’s hair grew back really fast, pretty much immediately.

Ravi, get a grip; you can only be trained if there’s somebody around to do the training, AND if there are lessons to be taught! Seems to me like the link got broken way far back, so blaming it on poor Jim isn’t exactly fair.

Ravi was shocked last page over learning how plans had been broken.
Now Ravi realises just how long things have been broken for.
Whilst Jim seems to be the target of Ravi’s frustration, Ravi is more angry with himself at not having been there sooner, as the last frame shows.

I’m guessing things went tits up after the gift jumped too many generations for knowledge of it to be passed down from one gifted person to the next. Can’t blame Ravi for being a little offended that it wasn’t tracked better, but at the same time, he apparently granted this a LONG time ago, and a lot can happen in that time period. Perhaps it was even lost when people died before they could pass on the knowledge. Who knows?

What I hope for is Ravi not being so overly angry about his gift being squandered and actually start teaching Jim how to control his magic.

And by extension, Colin as well. I do believe now would be a fantastic time to teach the happy little new medallion bearer how to use his magic, and how to wield it responsibly

Agreed wholeheartedly, Weirdo.

Also, think on this, as far as we know, this is only the second time there has been 2 alive at the same time with the Finn ‘curse’.
Why were both needed at the same time back then?
Why are there 2 needed to be alive now?

So, how about, one testy explanation, a short training session and a walk into the Avalon later:

Jim: There they are! *points* *waves* Hey, dad!

Ravi: Bapu Finn! I must have a very serious word with you! I have given your son Jimothy some training, and he has picked it up remarkably quickly, *closes with James Finn, lowers voice* but the fact remains that he knew nothing of the earth magic that he was imbued with, and is still a long way off from the level of adeptness he requires!

Colin: Cool hair, Jim!

Jim: Yeah! Now watch this…

Ravi: He should have been trained in this years ago! Certainly at least from the time that his magic manifested! Why have you not done this?!

Jim: Aaaand… sunflower!

Colin: Yay! Cool!

Mary: That’s why.

Ravi: ÒθÓ


But yes, serious possibility there: paterfamilias James Finn left everything to his alchemically adept wife; Mary Finn then failed to follow the plan correctly, perhaps deeming Paulbert’s primogeniture and sober, responsible, hijinkless nature to trump all else.

Why are you assuming that Jim’s parents knew about this? The family calls it a curse, every time Jim is asked about it he says no one knows anything, and it has apparently been long enough since the last bearer of the gift that no one expected it to manifest or knew what it meant. Also, the way Jim talked about Paul getting the guardianship implies that the “eldest child will guard the egg” rule has been going on for a while. So, unless you are saying that his parents have been creating an elaborate lie his whole life because he has a tendency towards hijinks (when we have seen from numerous actions, including the fight with the Nomo and Bloodcarver, the demon thing, how he dealt with Lorn, etc.), it seems likely that they had no idea either.

… So that’s why Stanley accepts his hair as food.

Wait, what? Is that something brought up in the comic earlier?

Yes, it is at the end of “Hello, Goodbye” chapter when Jim gives Stanley a cut of his hair as a snack:

Why does everyone think the hair is taking longer to grow back? It’s been SECONDS. His hair never grew back in that time before… did it?

Maybe it’s because the magic is going into the cut-off hair to grow the plants and it won’t grow back as fast? I guess we’ll see for sure soon!

I think the point Thisfox is trying to make is that, the other two times Jim has cut his hair on-page, it has shown to take a moment to start growing back. It’s hard to judge the exact timing because all three scenes have radically different pacing. We probably shouldn’t be talking about if the hair is growing back or not until the next page is up.

Indeed that the in-story timing for Jim’s hair to start growing back has varied each time.
In the page from Exchanges, Hello Goodbye, linked to above in the comments, Jim’s hair has already started growing back almost as soon as Jim throws the cut lock in front of Stanley. I think the 2 frames involved would have been at most 5 seconds.
In the page from One-Eyed Bear, where Jim is running from Mikhail, we have no real idea how long it took for Jim to reach where Merial and Michelle were.

Ravi is tripping more and more alarm bells by the page. Immortal, very powerful being who bestowed nigh-incomprehensible powers and is expecting that they are used on the service of a millennia-old plan? No thanks, don’t want to become an expendable cog.

At this point, I think Jim Jim is FAR from expendable. The last sphinx has surfaced. The dragons and the demons are coming. This is what Ravi was preparing for. This is what it all comes down to. He is not an expendable cog. He is the ultimate cog.

Not a cog; call him an instrument if you must- an Instrument of Destiny. I think Ravi recognizes Jim has value as a person as well as for what he can do. I was reading up on dharma- a term with no one translation, but which could be said to be the essence of purpose, one’s role in the universe. Jim has not been fulfilling his role, or even aware of it. No wonder Ravi is upset.

So I guess we can assume, if Earth was Ravi’s gift, then the reason for guarding the Phoenix egg is because it gave the Finns its gift of Fire to Phineas the Red. Wonder what sort of patron Colin’s powers are from?

Is no one going to mention how floofy Jim gets when he’s agitated in some way?

What, you’ve never seen a scared or angry cat? Part of the feline flight-or-fight response is to make the body hair stand on end, and the lion component of gryphons is very feline.
We saw the same phenomenon when Ike was arguing with his mother back in “Kill Them With Kindness”. Manticores are also part lion.

No offence really but to have ‘squandered’ something you really need to have known you had it in the first place. Sure the gift was wasted but only because he never was aware of it’s existence. Heck until that moment none of his clippings ever did that or he wouldn’t have been so shocked. (Something that Ravi really should take into account seeing as he’s acting as if it’s something it SHOULD be doing.)

Oh boy is Ravi gonna have an emotional moment when he’s told that drastically colored hair is considered a ‘curse’ in the Finn family. Of course this brings up a question… who was supposed to be teaching the Guardians how to use the gift?

Is the life of a guardian really so brief and ended so suddenly that there is no chance for a proper apprenticeship program? Did anyone ever think to write this stuff down in a manual, or was it lost like the super-suit’s manual in the TV series “Greatest American Hero”?

Offhand Ravi should have a moment to realise somewhere long before Jim things went wrong, and it may not even be the Finn family’s fault. Complex plans tend to crumble apart the longer they are in play.

Not to mention, it was stated at some point that Jim is the first to have the curse in absolute ages. No doubt a ton of lore and knowledge was lost over the years, since the last person ‘cursed’… probably that’s when the firstborn taking charge of the phoenix egg happened, since there were no ‘cursed’ children to take on the job. Someone had to do it.

I just spotted an amusing parallel. Look at the third panel of this page, then check out the first panel of page 26 of “Handshakes”, the first chapter of “Exchanges” way back when. Compare Jimothy’s incomprehension of magic and Rupert’s incomprehension of Borogove. (I recognize that there are still differences.)

Wait… Did Ravi just say in the last panel…
“I never dreamed my gifts would be wasted” … Um, is that a grammatical error or is there something we’ve yet to hear?

I’m pretty sure he means that when he gave the gift, whenever that was, he didn’t think the gift would be wasted in the way he clearly thinks Jim has. So, the past tense of never dreaming the gifts would be wasted when he gave them. Unless I’m misreading what you’re confused by…?

I think Ravi used the plural, gifts, because of the different forms the Earth Magics can take.
With Jim, it’s green and plants. It was also likely that for Phineas the Second, remember that Jim said she was also known as Phineas the Green.
From what was displayed in the tomb, and in Michelle’s Vision, and is part of the honourific he is known by, for Phineas it was red and fire.
We do not, yet, know what form Colin’s variant will take. We only know its colour, pale blue.

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