Geezy joins Kate to discuss Homestuck’s literary legacy and writing for Friendsim. Subjects include the merit of transformative fan works, Hussie as an internet Tolkien, writing as diamond-cutting, the online production of place, Fozzer says trans rights, working for your daughter, and why Feferi is the best character in Homestuck.
Kate: The Perfectly Generic Podcast contains spoilers, occasional adult language, and Vriska. Listeners are invited to the Perfectly Generic Podcast Live from Burbank, California. That's March 24th, Sunday, at 6pm, from the Guildhall Bar. Admission is free, with food and drinks available to purchase. It's open to all ages. Panellists will be myself, Austin, Heather, Paige, Aysha, optimisticDuelist, James, Pip and Dia. RSVP at perfectlygenericpodcast.com/live.
Kate: Forward to perfect socialism. This is the Perfectly Generic Podcast. We got a very special guest this week: Geezy, who is best known to Homestuck fans as the author of two Hiveswap Friendsim routes, and is also the first parent of a former pgenpod guest to appear on the show. You're Aysha's dad! Welcome to the show.
Kate: So when someone new comes on the show I like to ask: what's your background — what's your history with Homestuck? How did you get into it, how did you end up at the point where you're on a show about it? And you —
Geezy: Well —
Kate: You have a fairly unique story as that goes.
Geezy: Well Aysha, my daughter, who everyone probably knows on the podcast, a long time ago told me, you gotta read this. And I asked her, well what is it. Homestuck. And, well what is Homestuck? Well it's hard to explain, she told me. And it was hard to explain. So I started looking at it, probably a couple years ago, and I immediately liked John first of all. I liked how his teeth stick out and I liked — y'know, the fact that he's cute and doesn't have any arms and is standing in his room. And I — as so many before me, I kinda got addicted to it. And it's long, I don't know if you guys know that. But it's —
Kate: It's very long!
Geezy: It's very long and so I read probably half of it at once go. Not at one go, but I mean, you know. Then I took a month or two off and Aysha, who was friends with Andrew, had told Andrew that I was reading it and Andrew really wanted me to finish it. He kept telling Aysha to tell me to finish it.
Geezy: So I started again and again got addicted to it, and probably finished it about — oh a year ago. And I have no idea what it's about. So I'm reading it again in the series of books that's coming out, where Andrew has notes and things. And I'm trying to figure it out, but I'm not sure how much you're supposed to be able to figure it out.
Kate: It's —
Geezy: So that's where — and then so Aysha was, y'know, writing for the — for all these projects and she said, we need somebody to write Karako, one of — the little clown guy in Friendsim, so I said yeah sure. I mean I've been a writer my whole life and I feel like, y'know, it's a new thing to write. So then I also wrote somebody else whose name I can't remember.
Kate: [laughs] Fozzer.
Geezy: Fozzer, exactly. And so that — and then y'know, they — people welcomed me with open arms, which I'm not used to, and the rest is history.
Kate: Mhmm. And you know what you said about "I'm not sure you're supposed to be able to figure out what it's about" — I think that's what makes it uniquely fascinating, with modern media. Since I feel like so much media these days is about conveyance and it's focus-grouped and tested and you're always supposed to leave with the idea of what was trying to be communicated.
Kate: But something deep and opaque is a lot more fun to talk about for a long time after it's done.
Geezy: Yeah, and I'm not sure whether — y'know, I mean I've noticed the media developments that you've talked about, 'cause I'm a long-term reader of mysteries. And the mysteries I like are where you don't know what's going on and you have to find out alongside the protagonist. But more and more, in recent times, mystery books show you both what the protagonist is doing and also what the bad guy is doing. So then it's just so — it's very easy to figure everything out, you know exactly what's going on, and I think it's the same — the same development underlies both things, that people don't — y'know, people are busy and stressed, they don't wanna take the time. They wanna be entertained and they don't wanna spend much energy. And so they want — a lot of readers and consumers of media want something that's very easy to understand. And I find that, sort of, to be the anathema of mystery stories. But y'know, so I mean, Homestuck is antinomian in so many ways and that's one of them. Y'know, where all this media is so facile, Homestuck is really difficult. And where all this other media is all — is very polished and very, like you say, workshopped and y'know, figured out in every detail, Homestuck is just a big baggy mess.
Geezy: And there's good things about being simple and polished, but you get an overdose of it and you start craving something else, I think. Homestuck fills a void.
Kate: Mhmm, and this was something that I talked about with Andrew actually — was the idea of media being satisfying. When — y'know so much media is focused on being satisfying, leaving the audience satisfied. And that's fundamentally the end of your relationship with that work. Once you're satisfied by a piece of media you're done with it, you've consumed it, it's over. If something — if a piece of media's unsatisfying, open-ended, really gets your goat in some ways, then your relationship with it isn't over. It stays lodged in your head.
Geezy: Well I think that there's a — I think there's room in our world for very polished and is— y'know, and media of the kind that you're talking about. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. One of my favorite mystery books, for those who like mystery books, is called The Eighth Circle. And it's such a perfect book that when you're done with it you feel completely satisfied with it, you feel completely — sort of, y'know, happy, you know exactly what happened — and yet I read it over and over 'cause it's so good, right? It's just that if you get too much of anything you start — human beings start craving the opposite. And so I think, y'know, the opposite comes in the form of — y'know, kind of a weird guy who sits in his room for seven years and writes — y'know, writes this story that, y'know, in part is big and baggy because he just came up with it as he went along, I believe. Y'know, which is also not unknown, it's not unprecedented, y'know Charles Dickens and Dostoevsky and a lot of people in the past wrote things in instalments for magazines and so on. And so y'know, it's not that it's unheard of, but it's — this is a new way of doing it, certainly.
Kate: And — so you've, y'know — you've been a writer for a very long time. Do you — where do you think Homestuck sits in what its future — in the future legacy of literary analysis, in this turning point of media towards an internet focus?
Geezy: I mean, I don't know, and I think, y'know, the problem with a lot of debates about literature is that it's posterity that makes that — y'know, that decision, and makes that, y'know, analysis. We can't really see what — y'know, what's gonna happen. I mean in Shakespeare's time, Shakespeare was considered kinda low-brow and kinda — y'know, sort of just superficial and temporary and nobody thought that he would last, y'know, they just thought he was sort of a — y'know, it's like a TV show now or something like that. Like, y'know, Friends or something. That's what he was thought. In fact he ended up being one of the most, y'know — one of the pillars of the western canon. And so it's very hard to tell. I mean, y'know, obviously every time you get a new media people start experimenting all over the place. Y'know, like when television first started coming out, y'know, people just — people had a new medium and they started — and now they're going crazy with it! I just think that Andrew Hussie is an unusually brilliant person himself, and so his production is unusually brilliant. Whether or not it turns out that it's the beginning of something big or just a dead end, we don't know yet. See, there's that — there's this media that gets just tied off and then we can y'know, just go on our way and nobody — it's sad, huh..
Kate: It is! And y'know, obviously I quite prefer things that can be dug into and argued about for a long time. It's quite fun.
Geezy: Have you read The Lord of the Rings?
Geezy: So I went to — I was at a convention one time, a science fiction convention, and I was on a panel about The Lord of the Rings, and I asked the room — and there was like, probably a couple hundred people there — and I asked the room: how many people have read The Lord of the Rings more than twenty times? And about half the people raised their hands. And so there — y'know, and The Lord of the Rings is — y'know I'm thinking of it kind of as a sort of a vague analogy with Homestuck. Lord of the Rings is this big baggy thing that you just develop more and more affection for as it goes on, and you love the characters and — y'know it's just so colorful and there's so much to it, there's such a big world that when you're done with it you wanna read it again! [laughs]
Geezy: Y'know, you're not done with it.
Geezy: And of course every time I finish The Lord of the Rings I cry, because I just find it so, y'know, emotional that Frodo and the elves are leaving and going across the sea. But — and I would read it to my daughters actually and at the end I would cry [laughs] when they were little!
Kate: Mhmm. Like Homestuck, Lord of the Rings has a — it's deeply rooted in a mythic tradition and it has — and part of the reason why it's messy and baggy is that it spirals in the way that myth does. I feel like Lord of the Rings codifies a sort of like, fundamentally English epic poetry style. And Homestuck codifies a fundamental internet epic poetry style, based on the sort of typically forms of media and interaction. The communities that we build with each other on the internet.
Geezy: I mean I think another — I think that that's true, and I think though that another parallel is that — and this is I think one of the most important things that anybody who wants to write should keep in mind — The Lord of the Rings doesn't have a, y'know, a telegraphable meaning. It doesn't have a message. It's a story. Y'know, it's a story, and its meaning is just what it is, y'know. It — Theodore Sturgeon I think famously said 'If you wanna send a message, use a telegram' [transcriber's note: it was Samuel Goldwyn who said this]
Geezy: And so, y'know, there are people — there are a lot of people, y'know, who start writing things because they want to send a message, they wanna make a particular point or they wanna illustrate a particular, y'know, moral. And the great thing about The Lord of the Rings is, even though it was written by this stuffy old English philologist back in the thirties, it doesn't have a moral. It's a story. It is what it is. You follow it, your heart follows it, and Homestuck is the same way. It doesn't have a moral, it's a big big story, and you follow it with your heart mostly. And y'know, I just — I can't — I also — I've met the author once, and formed an opinion of him that he's this extremely smart guy, and kind of lovable in a way. But he is a person who could, y'know, carry the voltage that you need, the focus and the patience that you need to be able to write a story that reflects something important about your world, and doesn't have a moral. You have to have a lot of balls to do that. Y'know, because you don't know where you're going, you're following your heart, you're following what feels right from day to day and you have to have the faith that that's going to turn into a story, and you also have to be able to carry the voltage, you have to have enough horsepower to —
Kate: Mhmm, and — yeah that's part of what makes it so admirable, is — just the sheer scale of it is impressive on its own, much less the quality of the execution. Just the scale of it is just a fascinating example of devotion and labor.
Geezy: For those who are enamored of stories, stories build themselves inside your brain, in a place where you don't know. Another way of looking at it is that stories are found objects, not created objects. The analogy that I like to use is when you find in the ground, in a diamond mine, you find a diamond. The diamond has an internal structure already. You don't have to create the structure inside it. What you have to do as the diamond cutter is to cut the diamond so that the internal structure can be seen to best advantage. And I think that that's how stories are. You find them in the ground, and what the writer has to do is illuminate them, is cut them so that the facets, so that the perspectives that you get when you look at the printed page, shows you to the best advantage the structure of the story. So someone like Andrew, who's very smart and very dedicated to this, obviously just loved this — was struggling, as we all do, to explicate this big diamond that he found, probably about the size of the Hope Diamond, y'know. And struggling to bring it to light, y'know, to reveal its inner structure. And so it is impressive, but it's more impressive in my mind to think that someone had the skill and the patience and the focus to deal with this big monster of a story, rather than the idea that he made it up.
Kate: Absolutely, and that's the impression that I've always gotten, was that Homestuck was a process of discovery. And it was always a conversation with the audience and it was illustrative of the author's ability to learn on the fly and realize, as it's going, what's compelling about the story and what's compelling about the characters.
Geezy: That's what is fascinating — one of the things that's fascinating about modern times is this idea that you just mentioned, about the audience being involved in the creation of the work, because of course in the old days, y'know, before the invention of electricity, when I started writing —
Geezy: The conversation — is was sort of more or less a one— y'know the conversation took place more or less in one direction. You would speak, somebody would take that and turn it into a book, and then it would go out among the masses and they would read it, y'know. And of course they might, y'know — you have critics reacting to it or people writing letters and stuff like that, but mainly it was a one-directional thing. Now it's like responsibility for the story is just assumed to kind of go out into the world and be taken on by, just this vast number of people. That's something really new. I don't think any time in the past, y'know, since the time of folk tales maybe, have there been — has there been a situation like that. So I mean y'know, a lot of what's written — y'know, become aware of this over time. But as you know, a huge amount of what's written in the Homestuck world is written by fans.
Geezy: Some of it very good. A lot of drawings that are drawn by fans, a lot of them very good. So it's like, y'know, the writer is the leader of a movement in this case, and it's really — y'know, he's brilliant, he puts together this really big thing, but the movement is really — enriches it, and it's really a story that's carried by thousands and thousands of people.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely.
Geezy: That's new. That's new.
Kate: Yeah. And I've mentioned this thesis a few times, because it's the only published academic paper on Homestuck so far, but it's Jennifer Diane Short at the University of Central Florida, and it was about "the online production of place". And it's a story about how — it's not a story, it's a *paper* about how, in the internet era, we can create physical spaces that are larger than the media that creates them, and it's a sort of expanded its — the actual work of Homestuck is just the tip of the iceberg. And the culture that sprung up around it is one of the most vibrant and invested of any piece of independent media ever. Y'know there's always been fans of things, there's always been people who are invested in literature and invested in stories, and in the modern era those were often organized around corporate productions, things with marketing budgets, things with, y'know, the — things that explicitly sought out that — with a significant amount of resources, that kind of following. Whereas Homestuck's following just created itself. It's a sort of —
Geezy: Well I mean it's something that every writer dreams of. Y'know, you're right I think, certainly as y'know, applied to things like media like movies and y'know, video games and things like that, that there's a big— but for us humble and virtuous novelists, we still dream of — it used to be called "word of mouth", right — we still dream of this big sort of popular uprising of fans that really just love our work and tell other people about it and then it turns into this big thing. It's still a one-directional thing unlike, y'know, what you're talking about, but y'know there is this idea of, y'know, just sort of a runaway popularity. It happens with y'know, various things. It's sometimes hard to understand why certain things, y'know, get just — y'know, hit the zeitgeist right or whatever, like the Da Vinci Code or something like that.
Geezy: Y'know, it has a tremendous following, or Fifty Shades of Grey. Y'know these things just sort of take off and seem to feed upon themselves and turn into these big, big phenomena. Y'know it's hard to know, I mean 'cause there's some — y'know some of the books that that happens to are very good. Some of them are not as good. Y'know, I — so it's hard to know why it is that something like Homestuck, y'know, just takes off. Y'know part of it obviously is that it's very well done for what it is, and also, y'know, he put a tremendous lot of work into it! I mean, y'know, let's not fool ourselves. He may be a genius or something like that but he worked and worked his fingers to the bone on this thing.
Geezy: So it's, y'know — but I agree with you, it's fascinating how — that it has taken on a life of its own, and the novel thing is that then this big public becomes part of the creative process. That's new!
Geezy: Yeah, that's new.
Kate: And that sort of brings us to Hiveswap Friendsim, since I feel like it was the first significant example of the next chapter of this work, which is all that labor turns into something where people who have been creators in the community sort of pierce the veil and create and write Official Content.
Kate: And Friendsim was definitely an experiment in: is that successful? And I would say that the reception has been extremely positive to that idea, and it opens up this universe to a really broad future.
Geezy: Yeah. I mean it is, it's very interesting and I wonder whether — see, part of what shapes media of course is the law, right? And in the past, the first reaction of any creator of media if somebody took their world and started to work in it would be to say, hey you can't do that, I'll sue you, stop! But it turns out that if you don't say that and if you let people, y'know just *go*, it enriches both the original story and the original storyteller. I wonder, though, whether — I mean Friendsim is an example of such a thing that was sort of organized by the original creator and sort of the money and credit, y'know, goes at least close to where he is. But I wonder what would happen if people started to do something like that and there was, y'know, a game or a novel online or whatever that you had to pay for, and the money started to flow to someone else. I think that that would do two things. On the one hand it would greatly accelerate the story in popular culture, I mean because people would think, not only can I write about something that I love but I might be able to make a little money on it, and I might be able to get a certain amount of recognition for it. But on the other hand it would also test this model of, y'know, if you make something up you get to kinda keep a lot of rights to it. And I just, y'know — the technology is there to allow people to do very sophisticated things, just the man in the street or the person in the street. Y'know, all these fans have the ability to do their own video games or their own online novels that are based on this. So far the development hasn't been in that direction, it's been more, y'know, sort of Andrew-centric, which I think is deserved. But I just wonder what happens, and not necessarily with Homestuck but in general — what happens with media when people start to say, okay, but I'm gonna even take this further, I love it so much and I'm gonna take it further and I'm gonna, y'know, start charging people for it. That's gonna be an interesting development but we'll have to see how the model stands up to that.
Kate: Absolutely, and I feel like it was once regarded in writing circles as a trifle or even an insult to the original author, for people to create, y'know fan writing and —
Kate: It's actually the furthest thing in the world from that, like fan fiction and fan art like, comes from a place of love, not from a place of wanting to take this from the author.
Geezy: Yes. Right. That's true, and I think y'know part of it also, to be perfectly honest, is it challenges the idea that the author is this very special person. Only he or she can, y'know, produce this beautiful work of art. Whereas in fact a lot of people have a lot of creativity, and what distinguishes authors from other people is mostly just hard work.
Geezy: Y'know, and so it's a little bit of a bring-down to a writer, such as myself, if it turns out that people can take my world or my ideas or my characters and create something almost or just as good, or even better, or almost as good as what I've created. It doesn't make me feel all that great 'cause y'know, here I busted my ass and I'm supposed to be y'know a genius and a Garrick[?], but now all of these other folks are doing, y'know, wonderful things with my story. So I think that partly it's just that writers have to overcome some ego and realize that there's a lot of creativity out there, there's a lot of smart people, there's a lot of creative people. And it underlines what I have argued for a long time, that in writing, talent is really just love, because if you love stories enough and you — that makes you work hard on them. If you work hard on them you'll get good stories, and that's just about the whole — that's everything she wrote.
Kate: And that is a salient point, and it makes me think about — it makes me think about something but I lost it.
Geezy: Just wait until you get to be a little older and you'll have —
Kate: [laughs] Yeah it only gets worse from here!
Geezy: Exactly. Exactly.
Kate: Oh right! Homestuck itself skewers the idea of the author as a special and unique person by having the author be a character within the work who is portrayed as buffoonish, a complete accessory to the events that occur, and literally dies midway through and has the narrative hijacked by another character.
Geezy: And falls in love with a character who just really doesn't like him that much.
Kate: Yeah! Yeah, and I mean who can blame him.
Geezy: Well, y'know — well I mean I'm not a big Vriska fan myself but I would say that one of — having met Andrew only once — I think one of his — one thing about him is he's actually quite a — not an egotistical person at all, he's quite a humble person. And so he's the perfect person to have this — y'know to skewer himself in the story and then also have himself skewered by the fact that there's all these other people who can write this too. It doesn't give him any problem, he likes that, y'know.
Geezy: And so he just happens to be — y'know there aren't many very intelligent people who don't have huge egos, but I think he might be one of em. Of maybe his ego is just *so* huge that nothing can touch it, I don't know.
Kate: [laughs] At a certain point it becomes indistinguishable —
Geezy: Right. Exactly.
Kate: Whether you — but I got the exact same impression, which is there's — and I think that that's part of what makes Homestuck so appealing is that there is a sort of — there's a strange humility to it, despite its titanic scale.
Geezy: Yes. It is.
Kate: And it's very raw and very personal —
Kate: In a way that often sort of — it's got a bit of a reputation among people who are not big fans of it for being embarrassing because of how sincere and raw it is.
Geezy: Yeah, yeah. And I mean, the thing is, I think that y'know if you don't mess things up sometimes you're not trying hard enough. In other words, it's easy to follow, y'know, formulas and it's easy to follow established tropes and things like that. But if you wanna reach, which is what Andrew does, you're gonna fail sometimes.
Geezy: You try things. And if you're not failing quite a bit, you're not reaching far enough. And he had the — y'know, the wherewithal, the mental wherewithal to do that in public, y'know. And I think a lot of people do find that very heartening, because y'know he's not a superman, he's a person, but he obviously — but he has a lot of focus and he has a lot of — he almost teaches you how to be an artist in public.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely, and I — y'know I've got — my day job is very public-facing and prone to outbursts of negativity and genuinely, like — I've learned a lot from the way that he managed his relationship with the public and managed to be at peace with the fact that sometimes you're gonna mess up and sometimes people are gonna hate the things that you do.
Geezy: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he's actually — you can't, when you meet him as you probably know, you can't help but like him [laughs] he's weird, but he's — he looks very patient and, y'know, like he's thinking deep thoughts but he's also listening to you, y'know.
Geezy: The other thing I wanted to just bring up about Homestuck is how funny it is.
Kate: Oh yeah, abs— [laughs] of course!
Geezy: Some writer — some critic pointed out that every great writer is funny on almost every page. Like if you read Dickens, Dickens is hysterically funny. Y'know, lots and lots of these very great writers are funny, and Andrew is really funny. A lot of his rants — I know almost no other writer who can — who is so fluent in terms of dialogue.
Geezy: Or monologue, y'know. And stays in character the same time as — I mean an example, one of the characters that I just love is Meenah. I just think she's hysterically funny, y'know. And I dunno, I just think — y'know that's a talent not everyone has, but I just think how funny it is is a big part of its appeal.
Kate: Yeah absolutely, and I mean there's some absolutely iconic moments of humor. And even the dark moments of Homestuck, even the most serious or challenging ones, are then offset with this humor that —
Kate: Makes you have to laugh because there's no other response [laughs]
Geezy: Exactly. Exactly. Yes, that's absolutely right.
Kate: And I guess that sort of brings us to clownery as a fundamental theme in Homestuck, and clownery — and you got your hands on some of Homestuck's clownery with Karako.
Geezy: Yeah. Yeah. I mean I think the clownery in Homestuck is a good example of, y'know, just what you were saying, which is the fact that, y'know, there are these extremes of dark and light in Homestuck and — and y'know Gamzee of course is this horrible — I just — Gamzee gives me the shivers.
Kate: Yeah I hate him. [laughs]
Geezy: He's horrible, and — but he's this clown, right, and the thing about Karako is that he was a little different in the sense that I saw him as — for one thing I'm — I was fascinated with the honking sounds that Gamzee makes, I think you see the refrigerator and the honking sounds are coming from in there, you're pretty much — that's kind of a pinnacle of literature in my view.
Geezy: And so I wrote, y'know, Karako [audio cuts out]. But also I saw Karako as a very vulnerable figure, y'know, 'cause he's young and small, and vulnerable and hates to be mocked by bigger, stronger people, and so forth and so on. I mean, when I saw the first drawing of him I thought to myself — I kinda got that feeling about him that he was a vulnerable character, rather than a Gamzee type, y'know. So I think that he was a little bit [atypical among] clowns, 'cause the clowns are pretty scary in Homestuck. But y'know, that's how he struck me and so that's how I wrote him. And I like him very much, and I like him as a character. I'm not — a lot of the other clowns I don't like very much [laughs]
Kate: [laughs] Yeah, and the — y'know, the clowns in Homestuck proper are a villainous sort of thing.
Geezy: Yes, definitely.
Kate: But obviously Homestuck is not saying that humor and clownery is inherently bad because of that.
Geezy: Right. Well yes, and we have to say that, don't we, because of the [fact that the] clown organization, I forget what it's called, will come after us otherwise, right.
Kate: Oh yes, the juggalos!
Geezy: The juggalos!
Kate: That actually brings us to our first listener question, which is — Eromancery asked on Discord: "how much juggalo/clown research was put into Karako's route?"
Geezy: Actually quite a bit, because I wasn't really all that familiar with juggalos, I'd heard about them but I hadn't — so I did some research, and I mean that's fascinating, y'know, it's very fascinating. And a few of the — y'know a few of the kind of tropes that I used in — y'know, the Faygo and all that kind of thing, the soda that he sprays on his attackers — y'know, is from the research. It's a very very interesting cultural phenomenon!
Kate: [laughs] Yeah.
Geezy: So yeah, so I mean I did a lot of the research but I don't know how much of it, y'know, showed up in the route. But y'know I did actually read a lot because it's so fascinating.
Kate: And Vinegar asked on Discord: "did you have any problems giving a unique voice to a character that doesn't really speak? Was there anything that you wanted to get across about Karako that you weren't able to in his route?"
Geezy: I wanted — well I don't know, I mean I wanted to make Karako kind of a young, small person who is greatly put-upon by big strong people. Y'know, he's kind of a runt. And I kind of had him, y'know, be a runt that was saved by — what's her name, god, his mother —
Geezy: Bronya. Y'know, 'cause she's very soft-hearted and saves the lives of [people who are not] maybe up to snuff. And I wanted him to be that, y'know, I wanted him to be a runt wiggler that Bronya — that wouldn't have survived if Bronya hadn't, y'know, raised him, and I wanted, kind of, him to — y'know in one of the outcomes he goes to juggalo heaven, and I wanted — y'know and so it's kind of like this — the world of Alternia, which of course is a very brutal world, is not made for people like him. He's too delicate and too sensitive for this world, so he gets to go to heaven. And y'know — I dunno, I hope that came across. But like I say, y'know I mean, what's also very sort of helpful is that the artists who drew him — that's how I found out what his character was, I looked at the drawing, the first drawing of him —
Geezy: And then I thought to myself, oh, here's who he is. So it's amazing how — and I've never done this before 'cause I've always written novels and short stories, which is something you do in your — y'know, by yourself. But to have — to be inspired by other people's art, it's kind of this very — y'know this feedback loop, it's really an interesting phenomenon to me.
Kate: So this was your first experience working directly with artists, or with a team as you were creating a piece of media?
Geezy: Yes, it was. Well I take it back, I've written some screenplays, a couple of which have been, y'know, produced. And there is some back and forth, but it's only — the back and forth only takes place once you've written the screenplay and you then send it to the director or whatever and they say, well we can change this, this is gonna cost too much to produce, can you do this, can you make this — you know. So there is — so I have participated with a team before, but never like this. I mean this is just — y'know, the team starts from day one. And that's new to me.
Kate: And also, y'know, the visual novel format of Friendsim — it's not massively interactive as a game goes, but it's still less linear and less traditional than writing a piece of media that's read one way, start to finish. Karako's route follows the typical Friendsim route structure, but the second route that you wrote, Fozzer's, actually plays with the structure in a metatextual way that is — that communicates a lot about what's going on —
Geezy: Right, right. Yeah.
Kate: And surprises the reader.
Geezy: Well I mean a part of that is because my brilliant daughter described to me what was going on, which they had figured out along the way [laughs] which is typical for how this stuff goes.
Geezy: And so I — y'know and so kind of in ordinary writer fashion, that sunk into my brain and without thinking about it I thought, oh, well that would be — y'know, there's an opportunity here to kind of dovetail with that story line. But again, it's a very interesting thing because it's another writer telling me, oh here's what we're gonna do, and then me just sort of without even thinking about it sort of fitting myself into that story line. That's something I am used to but it's good, y'know, I like it!
Kate: And we've actually — we've done an episode on Fozzer on this show, where we talked a lot about this. But I've always felt like Fozzer's obsession with dialectical materialism is this like, fundamentally foolish notion in a world based on idealism, based on the power of ideas. And it's sort of illustrative of the sort of semi-Gnostic — I guess to put at it — that semi-Gnostic spirituality at the heart of Homestuck, which is the idea that your will and your imagination is the only limit on your actions, which is obviously not a philosophy that Fozzer — that comrade Fozzer subscribes to.
Geezy: Well I think I would — I think I would slightly disagree with what you just said. I think that Homestuck — I was thinking about that same issue. My view is that Homestuck — it kind of dramatizes the limits — both the limits and the possibilities of your imagination, right? Because there are some things that are happening in Homestuck that you can't affect. You know, the mirrors are gonna come down —
Geezy: And so — but it also seems to say that within these boundaries that are created by the circumstances that you find yourself in, you *can* affect things. You might not be able to affect them a lot, or you might be able — you might be able to affect them a lot or you might not, things may not turn out the way that you want, even though in the end of Homestuck at least they do to a certain extent. And you may lose things along the way that you didn't wanna lose, but you can — but there is a role for self-effort and for, y'know, free will and so forth and so on. I mean Fozzer is just an example of, y'know, what Karl Marx called the proletariat, which is — he's the bottom of the heap of course. And he thinks it's unjust, in his role as a dialectical materialist, before he undergoes his change — he feels that that's devastatingly unfair. And of course, y'know, Alternia is a pretty devastatingly unfair place, and it's an interesting sort of way of juxtaposing those two things that I just talked about. One is being this, y'know, what's possible in the — y'know because Alternia of course — these different gradations of bloods and so forth and so on are genetic, it's not like you can turn yourself into a, y'know, a jadeblood or something from a rustblood — so there is that, y'know, ineluctable sort of physical, biological determinism, but at the same time he wants to overthrow the system, and so y'know it sort of illuminates the clash between those two things, things that you can't change and things that maybe you *can* change. Y'know of course then he changes himself, so I —
Geezy: I don't know what that says.
Kate: [laughs] And we got a couple questions on Fozzer.
Kate: Kogarasus on Twitter asked: "what's the mental impact of Fozzer's role as what is effectively an undertaker in a society where indiscriminate murder is considered common and socially appropriate?"
Geezy: Yeah, this is a — it's an interesting point and it's one that I was discussing with Aysha when I was writing it, that y'know you kind of had to suggest that graveyards are kind of a new innovation on Alternia, because of the fact that there's so much death going on all the time. And so there were some — you know there were some kinds of — there was some ambience that I wanted to put in, with gravestones and things, that I wasn't able to because obviously this is an innovation and — y'know so maybe the fact that it's — that there is this innovation is a tiny indication that Alternian society is evolving from a completely sort of y'know, bestial, dog eat dog situation, to a slightly more civilized situation. But not very civilized.
Kate: [laughs] And that sort of brings you to the fact that, y'know, Fozzer is seen as a threat to the order of things, and gets dealt with as all threats throughout the history of Alternia have been dealt with, with extreme prejudice and in tragic fashion.
Geezy: Well I don't know, I mean y'know, or maybe it was just a random glitch in the substrate of reality, y'know! It's often, in Homestuck generally, hard to distinguish between those two things.
Kate: Right, the idea of fate and luck and y'know, what is random and what is supposed to be part of our arc —
Kate: Is a pretty common topic of debate amongst the characters themselves.
Geezy: Yes. Exactly. Yeah. So I mean, y'know — but y'know in the end obviously something deeper than cogitation takes over, which I think is also, y'know, kind of sort of a theme in our culture, that y'know you take a pill and you can — it can make you think differently. And it has nothing to do with logic, it has nothing to do with your intention, it has nothing to do with what's true. It just has to do with the fact that we're physical mechanisms, among other things. We are physical mechanisms and if you tinker with the mechanism you can tinker with pretty much everything.
Kate: Let's see —
Geezy: Which is a little discouraging.
Kate: Yeah. And y'know, Fozzer's route is not one of the ones with a happy ending, that's for sure! [laughs]
Geezy: Not necessarily. Not necessarily.
Geezy: Well I mean it depends on whether or not you're a comrade or a royalist, okay, if you're a royalist then it does have a happy ending.
Kate: I'm guessing we don't have a massive royalist contingent listening to this show.
Geezy: That's what I'm — that was my impression.
Kate: [laughs] If we do though: royalist listeners, you've gotten — y'know you got a treat this week.
Geezy: Y'know the only thing that could make me be a royalist would be the Condesce, 'cause I think she is *so* sexy.
Kate: Oh *yeah*, that's indisputable, absolutely! I'd be a royalist too.
Kate: [laughs] Torturer asked on Twitter: "I know Fozzer said worker's rights, but did he say trans rights?"
Geezy: I mean they're all trans on Alternia, right?
Geezy: I think that Fozzer's sort of posture is to liberate the downtrodden of every sort. Y'know, and obviously this is an alien planet and so the flavors of downtroddenness are a bit different, but the underlying idea of Marxism has been expanded over the years, even on our planet, to take into account lots and lots of, y'know, downtrodden — it's not just economic inequality any more, it's gender inequality and it's, y'know, racial — y'know racism and things like that. So y'know this maybe you could see as the very first glimmering of that sort of thing on Alternia.
Kate: Let's see, so this is a question that I also have. We're getting into the general questions. So you left Homestuck with a favorite character, right?
Geezy: Well I really liked Feferi. And I know that that's corny, but she seemed so nice to me and I like her glasses.
Kate: [laughs] So Sis asked on Twitter: "why IS Feferi the best character in Homestuck?"
Geezy: Because she's a person who could have been a very mean and, y'know — could've looked down on the other characters and could have been — 'cause she's y'know kind of at the top in terms of the hemospectrum, and the future Condesce of course. And so she could have been this terrible Paris Hilton-type person who —
Kate: She could've been like Trizza.
Geezy: Yes. I mean she could've been very [mean], but instead she was very nice and I just found that to be very endearing, and plus I just like how she looks. I think she's so cute.
Kate: Their visual design is excellent.
Geezy: Right, and I'm a dad, right, and I have two daughters, and so y'know young and nice female characters really appeal to me.
Kate: Mhmm, and that actually brings us to the next question, which is aCmusic27 asked on Twitter: "what's it like working on a project heavily written by your daughter?"
Geezy: Well I mean I [laughs] it — y'know my daughter is very intelligent. And at a certain point you — with your offspring, you realize that you have someone here — if not your equal it's maybe your superior in intellectual horsepower. And that is an unalloyed pleasure and joy for a parent, you know. It's like all along I knew, from the time that she came out and I watched her being born, I knew immediately this is a very brilliant person. Even when I just saw the top of her head.
Geezy: And it has — and so it has turned out, and y'know she's also — I have to say about Aysha — she's a really good boss. She's one of these people who you — y'know, once she's done talking to you, you feel like you had a nice massage, but in fact what you've been told is you need to produce such and such at such and such a time, and don't fail to do that, right? But she does it in such a nice way that you feel just very happy. And that's the sign of a good boss. So it was really a pleasure working with her. Also I think Aysha and I are temperamentally quite similar, so we kinda see eye-to-eye, especially on writing-type things because we're so much alike. So it's easy for us to communicate, it's easy for her to tell me what it is that she wants, and it's easy for me to ask her, well what if I do this, what if I do that. She gave me a lot of guidance because she knows way way *way* more about Homestuck and all these things than I do. So I would say that it was very easy [to work with her], and it was a great pleasure to [work with her].
Kate: And so the second part of that question was: "do you and Aysha collaborate on routes ever, or pass ideas around to each other?"
Geezy: Mostly she tells me what to write and I [write it] [laughs] in this context. Yeah, I mean she's the boss, kind of. Y'know she's sort of — she does a lot of sort of managing the story line and she — so y'know — and it's very easy 'cause she's a writer herself, and so she knows how to talk to writers, which is y'know, you have to stroke their egos a little bit.
Kate: Yes! [laughs]
Geezy: But they also like — they like a challenge, you know, I mean this is something that I have not written anything like this before, and so I just felt — I found it, and I think other writers would find working with Aysha, very agreeable, because she knows what writers are like.
Kate: BubblegumBinch asks on Discord: "what do you personally believe your classpect to be, and why?"
Geezy: I have no idea.
Geezy: I have a t-shirt I think, that has my sign on it or whatever it is, but I'm really — I am such a newbie, really, to Homestuck that I have to apologize to everyone, y'know. I knew a few things but I really don't understand anything much and so y'know, I really don't know [laughs] that's the answer.
Kate: It took me until doing this show and talking to people who have written on the subject for me to really understand the aspect line of analysis.
Geezy: Yes, yes.
Kate: Which was — y'know it was just something that wasn't immediately evident to me. But now I see it as a fascinating sort of thing, of — y'know, you can analyze works of media with just structures and systems prescribed by that piece of media.
Kate: It's an internal —
Geezy: But in this case you can —
Kate: An entirely internal analysis.
Geezy: Yes, yes.
Kate: And the aspect system, y'know, is prescribed and created within this work and then can be used to understand the work. And I find that absolutely fascinating.
Geezy: Well it's interesting because it's like, y'know, one aspect of modern, y'know, media or life even is that there are these feedback loops, right? Fox News and President Trump are a feedback loop. And so this is again, y'know, sort of in microcosm, y'know an aspect of our society that has been captured somehow.
Kate: Yeah. Absolutely. And then — and plus of course you can take this aspect system and then apply it to other pieces of media in entertaining fashion, for example the greatest tweet of all time: "Garfield is a thief of Space".
Geezy: Yeah. That's way beyond me, okay?
Kate: [laughs] Yeah! I just —
Geezy: You're way outside my —
Kate: I just like them for jokes.
Geezy: You're way outside my area of expertise.
Kate: Yeah [laughs] not a Garfield expert?
Geezy: No, I'm not an expert in almost anything.
Geezy: And Homestuck has really taught me that, because I mean it's — one thing about it is that it's so wide-ranging that you realize there's a lot of things that you don't know! [laughs]
Kate: Yeah. Absolutely, that's the thing that makes me love talking to folks on this show, which is that everyone that comes on has had a unique thought about Homestuck that never would've occurred to me.
Kate: Because there's so many perspectives and ways to approach a work of such magnitude and like —
Kate: Cultural weight —
Kate: That there's always something else to learn about it.
Geezy: I agree. I agree.
Kate: And that's our show!
Geezy: Well, fantastic.
Kate: Yeah! So first off, the Perfectly Generic Podcast is gonna be live in just a few weeks, from the Guildhall Bar in Burbank, California. It's going to be Sunday March 24th, at 6pm, at the Guildhall Bar. You can RSVP at perfectlygenericpodcast.com/live. We're gonna have a number of panelists discussing what the most personally meaningful part of Homestuck was to them. It's gonna be myself, Austin, Heather, Paige, Aysha, optimisticDuelist, James, Pip and Dia, as well as a number of fellow listeners. I'm super excited about this, it's coming up soon. Please do RSVP if you're planning to come, just so we can help the Guildhall know how many people are gonna be crashing their party on Sunday. It's open to all ages, we're just gonna put a little band on your wrist if you're under twenty-one, and there's food and drinks available at this bar that are excellent. I love this place. I'm looking forward to talking about Homestuck with you guys. you can find this show at perfectlygenericpodcast.com; you can subscribe on the iTunes, Google Play and Spotify stores, as well as other places where you can get your podcasts. The music this week was from President for Life of the Music Team goomy's new EP, Flowerverse, which you can find at smoothiefruitee.bandcamp.com, there's a link to both tracks in the description. Do you have any sort of social media or anything to plug?
Geezy: Who, me?
Geezy: No. I just sit at my — I sit in my front room hunched over my laptop, that's pretty much my life, so. Yeah, I mean someday maybe. I have a — I actually have social media but it has to do with fashion photography which is something I was into for a while, but —
Kate: Well okay, so if you want to follow Geezy, go to his front room. [laughs]
Geezy: [laughs] Yeah, exactly! But hold your nose.
Kate: Uh-huh [laughs] If you want to follow myself, you can find me at twitter.com/gamblignant8 which is my Homestuck-specific account. You can also find me at twitter.com/KateMitchellOW where I talk about my day job in the Overwatch League. And next week I have no idea what's gonna be on the show, so look forward to being surprised by that! Let's see — and that's our show. Thank you so much for coming on, I really appreciate it.
Geezy: My pleasure, it was really interesting.
Kate: [laughs] Alright, see you next week everybody.