Monday, September 9, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Chapter 1 Progress on Our Heroine's 14th Birthday, Plus Newest Stuff I Threw In

Shira is fourteen today. That's the age she is when Spanner begins just over 11 months from now. Among other things, this is a reminder for her author to hurry up and edit Book 1, Chapter 1 especially.

Those two long scenes that resisted editing so long are now complete and vastly improved. 5 of Chapter 1's 8 sections are finished as well, except for the new opening I haven't yet written (it's still in outline, a 15-part outline based on the plot points declared obligatory for Hollywood movie scripts by the late Blake Snyder in Save the Cat!). I finally got it into my story-crammed head that yWriter5 has a global search function I could use to change the name of R5 new character Oscar Ribeiro and his handle Blackflag to "Rico X" (real name unknown). I even reread Shira's opening videoblog post and found new improvements I could make in a scene I thought was already done. I do still have challenging scenes to edit later, especially in 1.7; but except for the new opening I've now conquered all the hardest parts. It should be easier from here on out.

The Name Game
Turns out the deliberate namelessness of certain female characters is only half the story. The other half, sure enough, involves names. When the first nameless woman to appear in R5 (in 2.3, to be exact) claims (in a new scene in 3.1) that names are masks and traps, she's referring to the oppressive social constructions built around naming conventions. On the Conservative Revolutionary side, you have these:
  1. the long names and multiple titles of High Corporate aristocrats, in imitation of royalty and feudal nobility;
  2. the Patriot, Syndicate, and terrorist practice of warrior men using their names as their war cry;
  3. in conservative traditional societies, the traditional patriarchal power of naming and renaming, so beloved of cult gurus;
  4. the technocratic tradition of identifying people by numbers, used as a marker of lower caste by the Party, formalizing the class divide between Corporates and "mundanes" into rigid castes called Names and Numbers; and
  5. name magic, or the ability to control any human or spirit by controlling their names, for which Byron Scofield has the talent and main antagonist Henry Becket has the skill.
I decided to research name magic further and discovered that the ancient Egyptians put special emphasis on the magic power of one's name, or ren. They believed that if one's ren was erased, one's ka (basically, soul) would be destroyed and one would cease to exist. This is what the enemies of Pharaoh Ikhnaton tried to do to his name, and it was the dire punishment reserved for tomb robbers. Gods and pharaohs bore many names as a matter of policy, as a security measure to prevent the memory of them from being erased. Likewise, the city of Rome in ancient times kept its occult name a state secret as jealously guarded as the US nuclear launch codes lest enemy cities and kingdoms use it to curse the city.

Originally I had in mind the ceremonial magicians who summon spirits by name in order to force them to do their will, a staple of spellbooks from ancient times. In Japan, the onmyouji call this kind of name magic kotodama, in which one can gain complete control over any entity using its true name.

Leila in particular brings these two together. In 13.6 Scofield discovers he has no power over her because by then she has erased her name and therefore no longer has a name for him to control her by. In the following scene, she announces to her hated grandfather Governor Brinkman that by erasing her name she has freed herself from his power. His reaction? In R4 he freaks out, uncontrollably shifts into werewolf mode, and howls at God. In the R5 version he tells her why: by erasing her own name — her ren — she has committed soul suicide. She replies, yes, she has slain her Ego and is now a free woman, and now she will follow her True Will into ecstatic self-annihilation in the arms of her true love. And remember that in Spanner mysticism always has political consequences. Brinkman's reaction, in both Revisions 4 and 5, is to declare martial law, evacuate Metropolitan Seattle, and bring the Party elite to perform a massive spiritual-warfare ritual — this is Chapter 15, the Party's first major setback on the home front.

From Egyptian mythology I went forward in time to do that research on Aleister Crowley's magical philosophy which I intended to do for mystical king of bankers Dick Becket but procrastinated, which lead to...

Edits Outside Chapter 1
If you've studied enough Crowley or Enochian magic, you'll know who/what Babalon and Choronzon are. If you haven't, I can sum them up as respectively the Great Whore and the entity of absolute entropy. Dick Becket has become convinced that Shira is the "Daughter of Babalon" and Spanner is the "earthly manifestation of Choronzon". Since he's not fond of either entity, his mystical assumptions will drive his adversarial actions. Shira, unbeliever that she is, takes full advantage. (Note: I'm starting to think this series will end up gaining a hardcore following among chaos magicians...)

Elsewhere, I'm culling scenes in 2.1 and editing 2.6 to fit the final continuity. I've changed the character who has Shira tracking Talia's latest terror attempt in 4.1 from rocker Simon to the nameless woman who is now building manager in R4 the Asian woman from Chapter 12; elsewhere in Chapter 4, I'm turning long scenes into sequences and planning a conclusion as intercut as 4.1. Chapter 4 has a new ending; Chapter 5 has a new opening. I'm mapping more plot threads. And I've given Shira a bullet pendant and making it a prominent prop, plus I'm giving her back the flight jacket I gave her in the Project Notebooks but failed to give her so far in the script and novelization.

And that's what I've been doing on Shira's 14th birthday. Come to think of it, I ought to celebrate her birthday with a slice of carrot cake and a glass of wine...

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