Pip and Paige talk Jake in part one of a two-part episode. Topics include the many red herrings of his introduction, neurodivergence, wishing, the Neverending Story, and not Eridan.
Listen to this episode at https://perfectlygenericpodcast.com/updates/episodes/26
Pip: The Perfectly Generic Podcast contains spoilers, occasional adult language, and Vriska. You've been warned.
Pip: Hell's bells, heavens to Murgatroyd and Jesus Christopher Kringlefucker, it's the Perfectly Generic Podcast! [laughs]
Paige: [laughs] Oh my God. That's the best way to start this off.
Pip: Ah, right. So, as you may be able to tell from the dulcet tones assaulting your ears, Kate's not here this week. She's ass-deep in the Overwatch League, a nightmare job which none of us envy her for whatsoever, but it means that she's not here to record the podcast, so it's gonna be me, Pip, hello, and a returning guest, Paige.
Paige: Hello, I'm back. I've returned to talk about less terrible things this time.
Pip: [laughs] Yes, you may remember Paige from Episode 19, which was our episode about – well, it was something. You were talking about the Skaianet controversy, weren't you?
Pip: Yeah, so it's very good to have you back on much more pleasant terms this time round. [laughs]
Paige: Yeah. So Pip, what's your history in the Homestuck fandom? When did you first start reading it?
Pip: Okay, well, so, I actually don't remember all that clearly. I know I started reading Homestuck somewhere around the region of 2010 and 2011. I bounced off it really hard, actually, the first time. I don't think I got past Act 1 at all. Maybe it wasn't that I bounced off, I think maybe I just got distracted by something and wasn't really captivated enough at the time. Anyway, I came back a year later and got utterly hooked as is prone to happen, you know.
Paige: As you do. [laughs]
Pip: And I didn't really engage with the fandom at all at the time, but I was still thinking a lot about it and writing and drawing stuff, and I wasn't really putting any of it out there, or making any friends through it. And then cut to the end of 2018, when a podcast gets retweeted onto my timeline, and yeah, the rest is basically history. I mean, for those of you who are in the know about the podcast, you may know that I'm one of the people who is responsible for the transcripts of the episodes, so you're fucking welcome. [laughs] But I sort of co-ordinate it, but we do have a small group of people who do it, and it's – I'm very grateful for their help, a lot of the time. [Pause] Yes, so that is pretty much where I'm at. Paige, do you wanna just do a little brief re-introduction of yourself, as well?
Paige: Yeah, so, I'm Paige. I've been into Homestuck since around 2012, I got into it during one of the pauses when someone I was following on Tumblr tweeted a post that was like, 'Here's a link to the first episode of Homestuck' and instead it lead to, you know, a young man stands in his bedroom, and the rest is history.
Pip: This was the period where people were pretending that Homestuck – well, they were pretending that Homestuck was an anime. This was of course before Homestuck literally became an anime.
Paige: – became an anime.
Paige: Yeah. [laughs] When it was just a meme and our memes were still just dreams. Y'know.
Pip: [laughs] Oh dear. Yes, Homestuck is a story about memes becoming dreams, and then those dreams becoming memes. It's a Mobius double reach-around, really. One of many. [pause] Right, so, this week we're talking about our favourite disaster child, Jake English. Who the hell is Jake English?
Paige: He is the man, the myth, the legend.
Pip: The disaster.
Paige: The disaster, the boy.
Paige: Absolute lad.
Pip: Absolute lad. Right, okay, so perhaps we should start with where we start in the story with Jake, which is the first time we ever get to hear from him, which is in his notes to Jake.
Paige: You said 'his notes to Jake'.
Pip: Oh, shit. To John. [laughs] Oh God.
Paige: Yeah, that's one of the things is – yeah, so we hear in his notes to John, which is included in the [audio cuts out] he and Jade collaboratively put together for John, which is the famous bunny.
Pip: Liv Tyler, yes.
Paige: Actually, one of the many, many bunnies. There are so many bunnies, yes. But the robot one, the robot one who can actually, like, do things.
Pip: Yes, so – so Jake helps Jade build that, he's needled into building that by Calliope, and collaborates with Jade across parallel universes in order to build this bunny for John, and – so he includes a letter to John – or two letters, actually, to John in the box with the bunny. And so the first one is – the first one he sort of introduces himself a bit, doesn't he? I have here that he mentions that he loves adventure, movies and wrestling. You know, scrums and whatnot.
Paige: [laughs] Man.
Pip: So immediately we have our sort of character details nailed down for Jake pretty early on in the story. Between that note and what we know of Grandpa Harley, which is, I think, we know about him is that he loves the thrill of the hunt –
Pip: – globetrotting, and – well, we'll get to his other interests in a little bit. Do you remember when you first read Jake's letter, what your gut reaction was?
Paige: The thing is, in his letter – because at that point no-one really knows what the Scratch is, or what's exactly going on there – so, he introduces himself, or he hints that he is Jade's grandson, actually, and I thought that that was really interesting because I think my first thought was like, 'Oh, so whatever's gonna happen, there's gonna be like a babies ever after thing, Karkat's shipping chart will come true, and they'll have kids, and their kids will have kids' and it's like, okay, sure, I guess, you know. I wasn't really strongly – I remember my first readthrough, I didn't really feel super strongly about any of the characters, like, I'm enjoying this, and then after I finished catching up, that's when I got hit with a truckful of feelings for Jade Harley.
Paige: So like, and also Davejade, which was like my baby's first ship in the fandom.
Paige: So I wasn't like, 'Oh my God they're gonna have babies, this is great', I was just like 'Oh, okay'. And then by the time that Jake was introduced I was like 'Okay, so that's not what's happening here anyway', you know.
Paige: So I guess I just didn't really have any thoughts, I just was like 'Oh, this is what's happening now. Okay.'
Pip: Yeah, it was very much – like, 'cause, Act 3 is where you start getting these hints, very subtle ones actually, that the guardians are gonna be a bit of a bigger feature in the story than perhaps you had first understood them to be. And the two things I can think are when Rose is in the Skaianet lab and she sees the big terminal with all the meters on it, she also sees – there's a screen which is not drawn attention to, and it's never mentioned in the text, but it shows the Incipisphere as you later come to understand it to be, with eight planets on it. And so that is foreshadowing all the way into well into Act 6, when the two sessions, the Alpha and the Beta sessions, combine into one great big thing. I think, to my mind, that's the most far-reaching bit of foreshadowing that the comic actually ever does. I can't think of one that goes further than that.
And the other thing is when Jade is introduced, she goes through her house, we see Grandpa Harley's interests on lots of different floors. And Jade is the character – she's the last of the Beta kids to be introduced, and so she breaks the rule of three, well, naturally by being the fourth, but there are rules that the story has, which it sets up with the first three kids, that they introduce, and Jade breaks pretty much all of them. Similarly for the guardians, there are rules which the story establishes, that the guardians each have these two-word interests that they have, and Grandpa breaks the rule by not only having his own interest, but essentially having a collection of interests relating to all the three other guardians as well. And if you go through that sequence, you'll see that there are lots of hints to the Alpha kids in the various rooms.
Paige: What I think that does hint to is, like – part of this is canon now, we know, because of Hiveswap, that he was in both – well, obviously he grew up with Nanna/Jane and he was in contact and like a business associate of Roxy/Mom.
Pip: Yes, yeah. And it's unfortunate that one of the things that the – which for the purposes of now this is not canonical material because it has been quite stringently redacted, but one of the things that the Skaianet release did establish was that Bro Strider also was in employment, in a sense, under Grandpa Harley. So it was the case that, in fact, all four of them were connected, and I'm sure that later on that will get established in a form that's a little bit less [pause] dire and awful.
Paige: Unfortunate. [laughs]
Pip: Yeah, so, the connectedness of the guardians is established in the text. We see the connections between the four of them, but the precise nature of that is left very ambiguous.
Paige: It's interesting because Grandpa kind of [audio cuts out] the other guardians, and even to Dad briefly, because at some point when all the guardians are then in the medium, Grandpa from, like, the past is also there somehow. And it's never actually made clear exactly how he got there – it's like probably by the pads underneath the elevator in the frog temple –
Paige: – But how he managed to time travel is not clear. But in any case –
Pip: I'm not quite sure it's time travel. The way I understand Grandpa to work is he enters the medium through some means before we see him for the first time. He then does everything in the medium, collects Jade's dead dream self, stuffs her and then takes her back to Earth and waits around for her meteor to appear, at which point he then goes to the island and sets up with baby Jade, and then, while living there, he gets shot.
Paige: It's unclear, but really what I was just trying to say is that him being acquainted with them kind of does foreshadow that they will all be acquainted after the Scratch.
Paige: But it's also the fact that in the letter it's never made clear that Jake is a different version of Grandpa because, in his words, he believes this. He believes Jade is his Grandma and he's talking to his Grandma's brother, his alternate universe granddaughter's friend, you know?
Pip: Yes. Well, the bit of sleight of hand that happens is that Jade is Jake's grandmother, she's his adoptive grandmother, but she's still his grandmother nonetheless in the Alpha universe. But then when he contacts Jade, he's talking to Jade in the Beta universe, but he believes that he's talking to his own grandmother in the past. Neither of them probably have the language to actually articulate what the real situation is, so they just go along with it. I'm not sure if when I first read it I immediately clocked to the idea, 'Oh, okay, this is very Grandpa Harley-esque', but when you read it again knowing who Jake is, it becomes very clear that it's like, 'Oh, okay. This is like if someone passed a 1920s Southern American gent through a 16-year-old boy filter'.
Pip: Which is basically how I would sum up Jake English's sort of character design, if I needed a one-word sentence. So, I suppose that actually should – maybe we should have done this first, but that brings us to Jake's actual introduction.
Your name is JAKE. You love movies. ALL MOVIES. You would describe your taste in film as ECLECTIC, but in truth, it isn't much less than TOTALLY INDISCRIMINATE. You bluster frequently of exuberance for FIREARMS and FISTICUFFS and ADVENTURE, though have no human company with which to share these interests. But who needs chums, when you can enjoy a top notch gander of your GALS OF CERULEAN COMPLEXION, HUBBA HUBBA. You're known to be found with your nose in a COMIC BOOK OR TWO, not that it makes you a nerd or anything, like you even CARE about that! Not a gent of your PANACHE AND SWAGGER, qualities which you would BANDY WITH APLOMB on your globe-spanning adventures, HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING. You would love to travel around the world, toppling any SACRED URNS you encountered. You'd be tickled by the opportunity to defile HALLOWED TOMBS everywhere, raiding them of their treasures. And how you'd give your RIGHT LEG for a shot at desecrating THE SHIT out of some real life MYSTIC RUINS for their byzantine wares. Luckily for your limb, there is a dandy set of such ruins nearby, and you desecrate them quite frequently! You are also troubled to contemplate FRIGHTENING FAUNA, and plagued daily by their regrettable REALNESS ATTRIBUTE.
What else? You sure like to WRESTLE. Did you mention FISTICUFFS yet? You know, SCRUMS AND WHATNOT. Also, SKULLS. Gosh you love SKULLS. There is a good SKULL at the heart of any mystery, haunting its EVERY PAGE. That is what you always say. Or at least, it is what you always HOPE.
Paige: Oh, I think what first occurs to me is that it seems like, 'how much you love adventure' and 'how much you love guns', but it doesn't actually say 'I love adventure, I love guns' or – it's like he's trying to say that these things are true by saying them, y'know, if that makes sense.
Pip: Yeah, I –
Paige: And I think that really relates to his character a lot.
Pip: Yeah, exactly. So this concept of – actually, why don't we just go straight to the part that we were going to talk about – well, one of the parts about the Hope aspect, because something that is really important to Jake's character is this notion of realness and belief and believing in things to make them more real. [pause] And I don't know if this is the impression that you get, but the impression that I get over the course of Jake's story is that a lot of these things that he's interested in, they're more like genuinely hypothetical interests that he sort of hopes in and dreams for, tries to make them less fake, as it were, and then, like a lot of things, it backfires for him quite miserably. And it turns out that he doesn't actually want them quite so much.
Paige: I agree with that. I feel like [audio cuts out] off of something he's not, and other times when he believes in something it does come true, things like, I don't know, Brain Ghost Dirk, for example, when Brain Ghost Dirk becomes, like, a real thing after the Hopesplosion. Yeah, stuff like that, but also a lot of the time he's, like, desperately trying to believe in something that's not true and it just won't work. And I think it's interesting that maybe he never believed in all along in the things that don't really come true, you know?
Pip: Yeah. Yeah, like, believing in things really strongly, believing in all his friends, and so on, it's this thing he keeps going on about, but a lot of it does come across, and I think it's definitely intended to come across as this thing that, in his case is kind of put on as, like, a character trait that he wears, subconsciously or not, and that he actually does struggle with quite a bit.
Paige: You have something you wanna say, and I have actually no idea what this means, 'cause I have never seen it, but something about The Neverending Story.
Pip: Okay, right, okay. So, yes, pardon me if I go off for a little bit, but to me this notion of desire and of believing in things and wanting them to be real, and specifically the way that I would frame it in Jake's case is wish-making, specifically, so I don't know if you would agree, but to me the Hope aspect, definitely in Jake's case, is an aspect that's deeply related to the notion of making wishes, specifically in the case of wishes being these sort of magical things that come true, or not. So, The Neverending Story is basically one of the main sources of inspiration of Homestuck Act 6, basically. It's where almost all of the imagery related to Calliope and Caliborn comes from. It's a novel that was published in Germany in the second half of the 20th century. And it follows the story of a young boy, about 10 or 12, called Bastian, and what Bastian does is, on his way to school he hides in a bookshop from some bullies and finds a book there called The Neverending Story, and he steals this book, and goes with it to school and hides in the attic of the school to read it.
And Bastian is one of these young people that loves reading books and wishes that he lived in a book. You know, he reads about adventures and wishes that he was going on them. And for the first half of The Neverending Story, Bastian sits in the attic and he reads a story about a young hero who goes on a quest to save the world. And it's all fine and good, and it's enjoyable. And towards the exact midpoint of the book, you as the reader start becoming more and more aware of the fact that the book that Bastian is reading, also called The Neverending Story, is aware of his existence outside of the story. So, characters start having conversations about people which could only be him. Images from his life start turning up in the book. Things that he says start influencing events in the book itself.
And halfway through the book – spoilers – he gets sucked into the world of The Neverending Story itself, and the second half of the book is his journey to – well, at the end of the day it's his journey to get back out of the world that he's been sucked into. But specifically, when he first enters the realm of Fantastica, which is the name of the place that The Neverending Story is set in, he's given this amulet called Auryn, which is an amulet with two snakes, one black and one white. In the book they're in an oval, but in the film they form the formation that cherubs mate in – around the black hole, if you remember that image from somewhere in Act 6, when Aranea is talking about cherubs.
He's given this amulet, and the amulet has on it, written on the back, 'Do as you wish'. And the rest of Bastion's journey is essentially a grappling with the wording on the back of this amulet, because it grants him the ability to make wishes and have those wishes come true. But what happens is that he will make a wish and in return the amulet takes a memory from him. And it's always a memory which is in a sense the reason why he made the wish in the first place. So, for example, the first wish he makes with the amulet, I believe, is he wishes to be very strong and brave, and he immediately becomes so. But he then forgets that he ever was weak and cowardly as a child. So the point of the wish almost undoes itself. And that process repeats itself on his journeys through Fantastica, and he keeps making more and more wishes and forgetting more and more about himself.
And then at the very end of the story, he's forgotten everything about himself apart from his own name, and even then he forgets that. But in return he has realised what it was that he was actually wishing for all of those previous times, when he made all of his previous wishes, which is that he desperately wishes for the ability to love other people and to have the ability to be loved by them in return. And specifically in the case of the Neverending Story, this Bastion has a quite cool relationship with his father, and by the end of the story the two of them reconcile. It's quite emotional, and honestly I would recommend everyone read this book, because it's very, very Homestuck, and it's very important to your understanding of Homestuck. But specifically to me, it's important to understanding Jake's relationship with his aspect. Jake makes quite a lot of wishes over the course of his life, doesn't he? So, I mean, the Brobot is perhaps the first, most pertinent example that you can think of, right? And I mean, how would you describe his relationship with this piece of equipment?
Paige: I feel like it's sort of a case of 'be careful what you wish for', kind of, you know? But I also feel like – Brobot is really interesting because I feel like if it was left in its sort of natural state as it was intended to be by Dirk – a fighting robot that Jake can fight, and if he sets it to an easier level it'll be a little easier and he can, like, you know, move up the levels and get better, right?
Paige: But I feel like the interference from the Autoresponder is kind of what puts me off about Brobot, because he says that when it's on the novice setting, it's a little, quote, 'tender for his liking' unquote.
Paige: And I don't wanna get too into Dirkjake just yet –
Pip: Just yet. [laughs]
Paige: Because I don't actually like it that much, and I feel like it's important to jake's character, but it's also not something that I'm fond of, so I'd rather, like, you do the talking on that one. But I feel like [audio cuts out] me off personally, because it feels like he's being touched, or he's being dealt with in a way that he doesn't like, but he doesn't know how to say 'I don't like this', cause he doesn't wanna sound ungrateful or broach this, like, really kind of uncomfortable topic that he's trying to avoid, especially as it complicates real Dirk's feelings for him and his feelings for Dirk and everything, all, you know, in that horrible romantic mess that the Alpha kids kind of get themselves into.
Pip: [sighs] Yeah. It is an absolute nightmare.
Paige: I don't know, it's hard to say exactly what the Brobot would have been like if the AR had never existed, you know, precedent for that, but I think it's definitely kind of 'be careful what you wish for', I guess.
Pip: Yes. Yeah, so that's essentially what I was – what I'm trying to get at with this notion of Jake's wish-making, because the Brobot is the the first example and what then goes on and happens with Dirk, with Jane, with Aranea and Brain Ghost Dirk, I think, are all examples of Jake wishing for something, and then getting it and it being different in some way than he had imagined when he made the wish in the first place. And him sort of – I'm not sure if he ever – in the story itself, I'm not sure that Jake really comes to the same sort of revelation about these wishes that Bastian does in The Neverending Story. But to me there's this common theme through all of them that he – they are ways in which he wants to connect with other people. He wants to connect with his friends, he wants to be, you know, brave and strong so that he will be able to – I don't know, so that he will be able to keep up with them in the game or whatever. Like, it – a lot of it is selfishness, but at the same time it comes through a desire to be more connected with the people that he cares about.
Paige: I feel like, especially later in Act 6, one of the things that stands out to me is the conversations the Alpha kids have after the Trickster arc when they're all sitting on their crypts and waiting to die, Jake's conversation with Roxy, and thinking about his character. He didn't know – he wants to connect, he wanrs to say sorry to Dirk, he wants to say sorry to Jane – you know, he wants to be with his friends but he feels like they're sick of him and they're leaving him behind, and he even says this. He's, like, he's waiting for Roxy to reply because she's talking to Jane at the time, and he's kind of freaking out like 'Oh, please don't leave me too, I don't want you to, you know, leave me behind' and it really kind of shows that – his anxieties about his friends and that he feels like he's not good for them, or that they don't actually like him as much as they say they do. And I feel like that also – like, in Act 1 of Act 6, or maybe it's Act 2, I'm not sure, but he says –
Paige: It's hard to keep track of all of them! But he says, like, to Roxy about Jane, I think it is. And he's like 'I feel like maybe Jane has feelings for me, but I don't wanna, you know, be tooting my own horn. I don't wanna think I'm hot shit, so maybe I'm imagining it, you know?' And I think he's just really anxious about whether he's not as liked as he is, or not knowing how his friends actually feel about him, you know?
Pip: Yeah, it – i was reading through the part that you were talking about earlier today, just as a sort of refresher for my Jake memory, and – yeah. To me it seems like Jake definitely has – he has a perception, a very good perception of the way that his friends feel about him, but he sort of – he buries it under quite a lot of layers, and sort of second-guesses it a lot of the time. And as soon as he has any kind of evidence to the contrary, no matter how flimsy, he immediately will seize upon that, because to him it often makes the situation much less complicated. That's one of the things that Jake sort of says, and this comes up in his conversation after this one with Roxy, or maybe a couple of conversations down the line. He talks to Roxy about – yes that's right – he has the fight with Brobot, who beats the shit out of him, and that's not all there is to say on the matter, actually. Jake has quite a lot to say on the matter. And then, Dirk's not there, and then he loses consciousness, sees Aranea, wakes up, talks to Roxy, who says 'No you can't fancy this blue spider woman, you've gotta talk to Jane'. And then he has this conversation with Jane, the painfully funny conversation that he has with Jane, where he asks her 'Do you have feelings for me?' and she says 'No', and then the chaos sort of continues from there. And like, just, the one-word response 'No' is enough for him to completely drop this notion that he's been – he's obviously been thinking about quite a lot, actually, cause he sort of dances around it in all the conversations that he has with Jane, up until that point. And I think he says to Roxy that it's been something that he's been thinking about a lot. But then, as soon as Jane says anything to the contrary, he's just like 'Oh. Well that's great. That removes a complication from my life. Let's talk about Dirk.'
Pip: And to me it's like he does have such a flimsy grip on the way that his friends do actually care about him, that he's very quick to almost discard that, which is, I think, why it's so easy for him when things actually do go wrong. And it is kind of – well, I mean, it's all their fault, but Jake definitely contributes as well, and when a legitimate problem comes up that he can't avoid thinking about, it's very easy for him to immediately come to the conclusion that his friends genuinely don't like him, and that he'll have to give up on the idea of being their friends.
Paige: Uh-huh. That kind of leads into one of the things I wanted to talk about, which is I feel like what stands out to me among the kids – well, okay, I won't say that actually – but Jake is ND, baby! That's what I have written in the – ND, baby.
Pip: Yes. So, do you want to – well, I mean, obviously you're going to expand on that. Could you define what you mean for the benefit of our lovely listeners?
Paige: Yeah. So ND, in this case it stands for neurodivergent, which is, you know, someone who has a mental illness, like myself.
Paige: I just really – The reason I'm so – I like Jake so much, and the reason I was so excited to come on the podcast and talk about him, is how much I relate to him, and how I relate kind of to his social anxiety and feeling like, you know, what's the word – overthinking, things like that, and wondering 'Do my friends actually like me, or are they just being polite and they don't actually want anything to do with me?' Kind of stuff like that, you know? So, I guess that's all I have to say, I just – I think that –
Pip: That's an experience that I know I certainly can relate to. The Homestuck cast, I think it's undeniable, has quite a large number of the characters struggle with some kind of neurodivergence.
Paige: Oh yeah, for sure.
Pip: To me, I've always related almost exactly the same way, but to Dirk more strongly, just because to me, whereas Jake externalizes a lot of his anxieties, and he actually does talk to people about them, he ends up blathering on insufferably to them sometimes. I mean it's what makes Jane finally snap at him, it is his inability to stop talking about them, about his own problems. Which is also something that –
Paige: I feel like it's a symptom of his neurodivergence, it's that he gets in his own head a lot, and he has trouble picking up on – especially later in Act 6, he has trouble picking up on when his friends – in that instance, he's not really realizing Jane is not happy with being talked at about his issues, but he's not really – and I think that's definitely a symptom of his issues.
Pip: Yeah, yeah. I think that's definitely a very – that is a way of looking at it that definitely brings a lot to bear on his character, and I think that definitely – it definitely adds a lot, i think. As someone who also has struggled with this kind of thing, I find it – in my reading of Jake I find it important to also – while on the one hand, giving full weight to this aspect of him, and his relationship with neurodivergence – but also to frame it in terms of the fact that Jake is – Jake has a function in the story, I would argue, similarly to how Tavros does. And this is probably the only time we're gonna talk about Tavros, cause I'm [laughs] not particularly compelled by him.
Paige: Let's talk about – I can talk about Tavros. I can talk about Tavros plenty!
Pip: But Tavros and Jake both are, I would say, deliberate allusions to the sorts of characters that you see a lot in stories, that are almost always boys. They are the unlikely hero. They're the person who starts the story of kind of weak and not able to do very much. This is the Page archetype in a nutshell, right? They are in the service of people of much greater means than themselves, they don't have much to do or say for themselves, or that they can do for themselves. But the understanding of the story is that you better watch out, cause at some point down the line they're gonna do something quite extraordinary and they will be – we had a listener question about this actually, let me just see who asked this. Jett Gray the Prince of Light asks on Discord: Is Jake English the Neville Longbottom of Homestuck? And, while I wouldn't say maybe he is the Neville Longbottom of Homestuck, that's what his character – that's the sort of thing his character is definitely meant to evoke to us, and Tavros is too. So to me, what Jake gets up to in Act 6 is important – for my reading of him, anyway – is important to read in light of this, because Homestuck doesn't take much truck with this idea that boys who are not really good at very much are somehow owed importance in a story that is significantly larger than them. And Vriska's frustration with Tavros is quite – and we're getting our mandated Vriska mention in here – Vriska's frustration with Tavros as a girl in a story who is –
Paige: She's very aware.
Pip: She's very aware of the fact she's in a story, she's very aware of the fact she's in it. She's very aware of the fact she has a great deal of influence in it, or that she at least has the potential to influence it, whereas Tavros doesn't. She knows that he doesn't, but the fact that he still believes that he does because of this Page archetype, this kind of boy hero thing that he believes in a lot. To my mind it's important to understand their dynamic from that perspective, that Vriska is a subversion of a lot of things, but also her relationship with Tavros is a very deliberate subversion of the kind of relationship that happens in a lot of stories, where this very competent girl is friends with a frankly very useless boy, but it's the boy who ends up being the hero at the end of the day.
Paige: I think part of the Page's story actually – and this is, I think, applies both to Tavros and to Jake. I feel like – about Pages, what's good to tell us about Pages by, like, Calliope says so, and Vriska says this, is that they're weak and it takes them a really, really long time to grow, but once they hit their full potential, they're extremely, very, very powerful. But what I think – and I noticed this for both of them – I'm not talking about Horuss, I'm never talking about Horuss –
Pip: No, we're never talking about Horuss.
Paige: But what happens is Tavros amasses this huge army of ghosts, but he's like 'Oh, no, i'm not fit to lead this' and he immediately gives the reins over to Meenah, because he's done his job. He's played his part. And he did something incredible, but he knows that that's the extent – his job in the story is to, you know, be the guy who – with the power of whatever that thing is, you know –
Pip: [laughs] Whatever it is.
Paige: – Gets all these ghosts – the Breath aspect has to do with friendship, and I get that, but, again, this is not really about Jake, but my point is he does this thing, and this is what he was meant to do, and he does it, but it's not maybe the most important thing that happens in the story. Certainly not as cool as the juju, or, you know, Dave slicing off Dirk's and –
Pip: Jack times two yeah –
Paige – Jack's heads, you know, stuff like that.
Paige: Jack times two and Dirk and you know, stuff like that. But he does something and it's really kind of cool. But he knows that, you know, he's done this and he's done. And I think Jake kind of does the same thing in Collide where he defeats maybe the most dangerous of all the enemies that have to be dealt with in Collide, you know. And his scenes with them are pretty goofy, you know, they all stop to munch on cookies together. But at the end he's standing atop this huge pile. He's defeated them and he's just like, 'I did this', you know. 'I did something' and that's, you know –
Pip: 'I did this. This is something I can claim as an achievement.'
Paige: Exactly. And that's kind of why I relate to being a Page – I don't wanna turn this into, like, Paige Talks All About Their Emotional Struggles, but that's kind something I – and that's why I identify as a Page, that's why I've chosen that as my class, is because – just that you don't have to be the most amazing, but you can do something and if it makes you happy, and if it's something that – then it's worthwhile, you know?
Pip: Yeah. Yeah, I definitely think that's a very good way of putting it. I think that's where Homestuck's criticism of the Page archetype – is where it ends up, because – I think the way that Homestuck frames it, in Tavros' case, it's a very – there is a desire there, on his part, to be a kind of hero, and it puts him in conflict with Vriska, who's overwhelmingly more qualified to be a hero than he is. In Jake's case, the desire is also there, but it does feel a lot more like an obligation that he has. And this actually relates to something that I wanted to talk about, that comes up as soon as we meet Jake in the story in person, which is the fact that he is essentially presented as a kind of a dare to the reader, in a big game of red herring chicken, essentially, because an overwhelming amount of evidence is presented as soon as he is introduced, linking him to Lord English, right?
Pip: So, his surname, for one thing. All of the –
Paige: All the skulls.
Pip: Basically all the stuff in his room, yeah. Like, he likes skulls, specifically green ones. His introduction specifically mentions losing his right leg in order to go on an adventure, which later on you find out is literally what Caliborn does. And by that point we know that Lord English has a golden right leg. And then he dresses up in Lord English's outfit, doesn't he? So basically, there's this overwhelming amount of evidence that links to him to Lord English, and there's also the – to pick up on something that was talked about in last week's episode, unfortunately I'm not gonna mention him by name, but another Hope player – another two Hope players, in fact, both are set up as having some mystic destiny to fight a deadly wizard or demon or something, who is quite clarly supposed to be Lord English. But both of them fail, and they pass on the mantle another Hero of Hope, and so at the end of the line we have Jake, and so he, together with this relationship to Lord English that's very heavily implied, and also this lineage that he has to the Hope aspect in particular, it definitely feels like the story is almost obliging Jake to do something important related to Lord English, right. It's not that necessarily that he wants to, or that he has any understanding of what that even means, but the story's putting so much evidence in favour of it happening that it is almost an obligation that he will have to fulfill at some point.
Paige: And then he does.
Pip: Yeah. And then he does, and that's the funny thing, he does it in the Masterpiece. He scores Lord Engish's first ever – and only ever – defeat until Act 7, and we find out the reason why Jake has – well, we find out why he shares a name with Lord English, and it's another mind-fucking paradox, because Jake is – we find out earlier on, is named after Lord English. Jane – Jade, his grandmother –
Pip: – takes the name Lord English. Screw all these children and their J-A-starting names. It's so confusing and annoying. So Grandma Jade takes Lord English's name as a slight against Her Imperious Condescension, because she's been in his servitude for thousands of years, and Jade wants to get back at her, so one of the things that she does is she takes Lord English's surname. So that's how Jake ends up with it. And the way that Lord English ends up being named that way is because Jake has this victory that he wins in the Masterpiece, and Caliborn decides he'll take Jake's name as a sign of respect.
Pip: So the two of them are named after each other, which is just one of the many paradoxes that Homestuck likes to play with.
Pip: And one of the things about, you know, that you sort of think with these paradoxes, is that if one of them was named after the other, but that one was named after the first one, where did the name English even come from in the first place? Like, it sort of spontaneously arose out of Paradox Space somehow.
Pip: The way I like to think about it is that the name English is – comes about because of this cultural idea, in American movies specifically, that English people always villains. [laughs]
Pip: And to me, that is the most – obviously Lord English was originally named Lord English way before Jake – way before Jake was a thing. He was named Lord English because he was the leader of the Felt, a billiards-themed – or a pool-themed group, right, so you've got the subordinates who all have names which are appropriate to the numbers on their pool balls. You've got Doc Scratch, who is named after the cue ball itself. And then Lord English is named after the – it's an American word, 'English' is a word for a type of spin on a ball, particularly if it's talking about ball in pool or billiards. So that's where his name originally comes from. I also think Andrew Hussie probably did name him English additionally as a – maybe not probably, but I like to think that it was a neat little cultural nod to the fact that English people do play villains in Hollywood movies a lot of the time. And so Jake has a connection to movies specifically, so it's not quite so odd a connection as you might think.
Pip: And also, just as an aside, I did want to say at some point: Jake is not British. [laughs]
Pip: Just because a character's name is English does not mean he is English. I mean, he is English, but he's not English, if you know what I mean. And just as, you know, as a British reader of Homestuck –
Pip: – As representing an old colonial power, Jake doesn't speak in British English. His slang is not British English, it's American English. It's old American English, but it is American nonetheless. And if you read his, like, one of the only conversations he ever has with Calliope, who does sound British and is explicitly said by Dirk to sound British, and who uses British English when she speaks and types – because she loves U's, and wants to put them in as many words as possible, so –
Paige: She loves U's!
Pip: Yeah, exactly.
Paige: She loves YOU.
Pip: Calliope spells colour with a U, as it should be. But Jake doesn't. Jake very much is American and this is very boring and that's all I was gonna say about it.
Paige: And you can be when you're living on an island in the middle of the Pacific. I think Jade makes a joke about that where –
Pip: Yeah, Jade is like –
Paige; 'I don't know if I'm an American citizen'. [laughs]
Pip: [laughs] And – is it Dave? – is like 'Yeah, you live on fucking Guam or whatever'.
Paige: 'Live on Guam or whatever'.
Pip: And she's like, 'No, it's the completely wrong side of the US but okay'. Yeah – God. Lord, we've been going –
Paige: I think at – [laughs] We've been going for so long. There's just so much to say about Jake English.
Pip: There is. We barely got any of the way through this fucking outline.
Paige: That's okay. [laughs]
Pip: That's okay. I – sorry, what were you gonna say?
Paige: I said that, I mean it's okay.
Paige: I've got – I only have one other thing I have to say but I don't need to say it. So it's fine.
Pip: Oh, no, I mean, we're gonna go as long as needed and then Kate can just cut it down, cause –
Paige: And Kate has to deal with it.
Pip: Yeah. 'Cause frankly there is so much to talk about, and she doesn't even know it 'cause she doesn't like boys.
Kate: And they then proceeded to talk for another hour, which, let's face it, is very Jake English. I'm gonna edit the second part of this episode, I'm gonna edit that hour, and post it in a few days as part 2 of the Jake episode. Until then, that's our show. Thankyou so much to Pip and Paige for coming on and covering for me, I've been incredibly busy at work this week. The season's in full swing. The most important thing is, Perfectly Generic Podcast Live is gonna be coming up on March 24th at 6pm, at the Guildhall Bar in Burbank, California. You can go to perfectlygenericpodcast.com/live to RSVP. You can join Pip, Paige, myself, Austin, Heather, James, Aysha, Dia and optimisticDuelist as we answer the simple question: What about Homestuck is most personally meaningful to us? The music this week is Perfectly Generic by Goomy, President-for-Life of the Perfectly Generic Music Team. Goomy's got a new EP, Flowerverse, out, which you can find at smoothiefruity.bandcamp.com. The link's in the description. It's fantastic, give it a listen. It also includes a bonus track remix of Doctor from Homestuck. You can find this show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and wherever you get your podcasts. Please leave us a review, it helps us out a ton. twitter.com/pgenpod. You can find our hosts this week on Twitter. Pip is @pipd_ and Paige is at @killiakill. Look forward to part 2 of the podcast, coming out probably on Sunday. Thankyou so much for listening. Keep rising.