[Note: Panelist now goes by Muse instead of Becca. The circle of Calliope is complete. --Muse]
Becca joins the podcast for a discussion on Calliope. Topics include epilogue and Hiveswap speculation, Callie as a respectful portrayal of fandom, cherub gender, Homestuck as a superhero story, the Ring of Life, what it means to be a muse, and lime blood.
Listen to this episode at https://perfectlygenericpodcast.com/updates/episodes/4
Kate: The perfectly generic podcast contains spoilers, occasional adult language and Vriska. You’ve been warned.
Kate: If you don’t like how I pronounce Calliope [/kə.ˈlaɪ.ə.pi/] this episode is going to suck for you. Welcome to the perfectly generic podcast, I’m Kate Mitchell. My guest this week is Becca @loravura, Becca how you doing?
Becca: It’s been a couple of minutes of stress, but we’re here now.
Kate: Yeah we’re on the third attempt at recording this podcast, due to what I have to describe as just blatant homophobia by the internet infrastructure of your school.
Becca: Yeah! And now I’m in the scary D&D bathroom.
Kate: Yeah, so we’ve got a room with the word D&D and a lot of very intimidating equations on the wall. [Laughs] I think we’re ready to get started, for real this time.
Kate: So usually we start off this podcast with discussion of the week in Homestuck; jack shit happened this week, no Friendsim came out, there was no news from WhatPumpkin on anything, so next week’s episode we’ll talk about whatever the next Friendsim is. Holy shit I hope it’s Lanque.
Becca: Oh my god, pleaaase. He has the same sign as me, and I love him, and I would die for him.
Becca: - And that’s it.
Kate: Please give me Martsi or Lanque and make either of them, date Tyzias.
Kate: That’s my personal request. [short pause] Right, so now, now that we’ve gotten the week were nothing happened out of the way, let’s talk about you and your story with Homestuck. Becca, you had a number of attempts at getting into this webcomic, as I think is common, it’s got a bit of a barrier to entry.
Becca: Ooh yes, oh yes, I made three attempts, the last one being the successful one but – what makes me mad is that the first time I tried reading it was in 2013, so I could have experienced a lot more of Homestuck culture if I had just read it that first time. But I made it somewhere, in the middle of – near the end of Act 1, I think? And then my computer got a virus, and I forgot all of my tabs that I had open, because I am a horrible person about tabs, I will have 40 tabs open at once, it’s very bad. And so I just completely forgot about it for two years, and then in 2015 I tried again, I got at least to Dave’s intro, and then something happened, I don’t know. I was liking it that time too. And if you look on the mentions of Homestuck on my tumblr, you’ll actually see - in April of 2016 I made a post that was like ‘Oh huh? Homestuck is ending? Good luck to the fandom I guess, I tried reading it a couple times and it didn’t work.’ [Laughs] But – then in 2017 I saw on Twitter, posted by my friend Hexy, who is great, screenshots of that time near the end of Homestuck where Dave goes off, about toxic masculinity for like thousands of words. And I was like "wow, this comic seems so woke, I need to read it right now."
Becca: And, of course, it’s not, in the beginning.
Kate: It’s.. Yeah, it’s not. And y’know there are very few works whose like, opening chapter is as unrepresentative of the rest of it as Homestuck is.
Becca: Oh yeah.
Kate: I’m under the impression, now I’m only a little bit of the way into the Adventure Zone podcast myself.
Becca: Oh my god.
Kate: But, since people keep talking about it like it’s an emotional experience.
Becca: It really is.
Kate: And I’m just sitting here like, these guys are just fucking around, how does this turn into that? And that is exactly the Homestuck Act 1 experience.
Becca: Yeah, that’s why people keep saying it’s Homestuck and Griffin McElroy keeps getting confused, he’s like ‘I don’t know what Homestuck is’. Also I feel I should mention that, right now, on the D&D board I am drawing the Sburb logo. So - that’s a thing that’s happening.
Kate: Y’know, the nature of humanity is that every few years somebody accidently reinvents Homestuck.
Becca: That is one of the most iconic things, that has been posted on the internet, I love that post.
Kate: It’s true. Y’know John Bois did 17776 which was frequently compared to Homestuck and he’d never even read Homestuck before. Griffin made a Homestuck-like piece of media, while maintaining a fervent ignorance of it.
Becca: There’s even a point in the Adventure Zone, where Griffin – pulls a random number out of nowhere and it just so happens to be the number 413 and I was so ready to call BS. I was like you’ve definitely read Homestuck. You had to!
Kate: That’s bullshit man! Y’know what, you’ve just made me into a ‘Griffin McElroy has read Homestuck’ truther. That’s our new conspiracy theory.
Becca: Yes! He has!
Kate: The truth is out there, people! Griffin did 413!
Becca: Oh my god... [laughs] Oh my god. Ok, we’re off-track,
Kate: [Taako voice] ‘Vriska did nothing wrong!’
Becca: I hate it – but also it’s great.
Kate: It is great. See again, I’m not fully familiar with The Adventure Zone yet, but Taako voice "Vriska did nothing wrong" might be where we peaked as like an internet society.
Becca: Yeah, honestly – it’s pretty great. Somebody has left a small bible in this scary D&D bathroom.
Kate: Alright, well.
Becca: I don’t know what’s going on here.
Kate: This has a really unsettling vibe, welcome to the first episode of the perfectly generic podcast where somebody gets involved in a True Detective style, like murder-cult plot in the middle. We’ve got two threads going, we’re going to try to talk about Homestuck, while more mysterious artefacts appear around you. [Pause] So after you read it in 2017, you did it all at once right?
Becca: Yes I did, it took me about two months and I read it during finals which was a mistake.
Kate: Huge mistake.
Becca: Because, the only time I had to time it read it was between the hours of 11 and 2 in the morning, so like 11 pm to 2 am, that was the only time I could read it. And like, my twitter I was searching through all my mentions of Homestuck and I was like - constantly complaining, like when the alpha kids were introduced I was like ‘These children type in too bright colours, please make them stop somebody.’. Because I was so tired.
Kate: Haha, you were just a grouch about it? Because it was the middle of the night.
Becca: These children type in neon, please make them stop because I would be reading it, in a dark room. [Pause]
Kate: So we’ve talked about… The dichotomy between being a live reader and being a archival reader a lot, on this show, so you’re another archival reader who did it all at once.
Kate: Are you satisfied, with the ending of Homestuck?
Becca: I feel like, from - my perspective of reading it when I did – the whole retcon arc made a whole lot more sense. And, people complained about it a lot, but when I was going through it I was like, ‘Oh my god this is the coolest thing ever!’
Becca: It just made a whole lot bunch sense to read it archivally that way. But I do really wish, that I had been around for like, somebody typing - the word update with an 8 and it being true. Y’know?
Kate: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s fair. Y’know, that’s part of why I think like the Hiveswap Friendsims are so exciting is that – they’re still coming out, we’re getting interesting lore and they’re on like a regular schedule.
Kate: Y’know, here in 2018 like it still feels like we’re getting new content, and new really quality content, delivered to us. While still having the main story resolved of Homestuck.
Kate: Mostly! Y’know, I’m an epilogue optimist as we’ve gone on about. [Laughs]
Becca: I’m going to say this.
Kate: Uh huh?
Becca: I’m going to say this right now my bet for the epilogue is, 4/13 of next year, 10 year anniversary, please Hussie!
Kate: Yeah that’s my guess as well. But I’m trying not to build expectations around that.
Kate: Because, y’know, if you start hyping something up based on absolutely no evidence, other than it’s a significant date. And then nothing happens?
Becca: Oh, yeah!
Kate: Then like people get mad, totally unjustifiably. [Laughs]
Becca: Oh, yeah.
Kate: Y’know Homestuck is one of the most – productive, works of internet media ever, maybe the most.
Becca: It’s so good, I love it.
Kate: And so y’know I think it’s not unreasonable to be – patient, while waiting for more, considering just how much content there was. [Pause] So let’s move into main topic for this episode, this is the Calliope episode.
Becca: Best girl!
Kate: This is the episode where we talk about the best girl, or one of the top contenders for best girl -in Homestuck. That’s a typical reader question we get, for every guest ‘Who is best girl?’ and your answer is Calliope yes?
Becca: Yes. And I was the one who sent it in for the girls episode. I think.
Kate: [Laughs] The asker becomes the askee.
Becca: Yup! [Laughs]
Kate: So, before we get into like the individual topics on Calliope - what made you feel like a connection or affinity for her.
Becca: Well she is probably the most – like respectful and good representation of - people in fandom, in their own like media that they like. Because Calliope, with all her cosplay, and her fanfics, and her art, and she is such a nerd and I love her so much because I relate to that so much. As I have done all three of those things.
Kate: Yeah absolutely. Y’know Homestuck is a work that had a lot of give and take with the fans – it was remarkably accessible, for a work of its popularity. I mean y’know, it started with people straight up determining where the story went, in a stupid forum-based way. [Laughs]. But then moved on to people determining where the story went - in a stupid discourse-based way. [Both Laugh] And it would be so, so easy to make that kind of character – like, hostile.
Becca: Oh yeah.
Kate: To make it, ‘Look at you guys being so silly.’
Becca: Oh my god yeah.
Kate: Like, y’know ‘Stop being so embarrassing about my comic!’ But instead…
Becca: She’s good!
Kate: Yeah, Calliope is like an illustration of the best things about being a fan. And y’know the empathy and compassion, that come with really enjoying a work of literature.
Becca: And also, I feel like Calliope’s whole arc was echoing of how fans really started shaping Homestuck, cause she has such a huge outcome on the plot. And it was really like, if you take it symbolically it’s like the fans defeated Lord English. That’s kind of awesome as hell.
Kate: Yeah! It is, it’s extremely cool. And honestly, I think – what a lot of people who were like, angry, and mean, and kind of sexist weren’t expecting was the story ended up, kind of making that character who was about shitty fans, into like the shitty boy.
Becca: Oh yes!
Kate: Like, cause you can’t talk about Calliope without talking about Caliborn.
Kate: [Laughs] Unfortunately, because man he’s really, just an awful boy. That’s just a gross boy right there!
Becca: Nas-ty, boy.
Kate: But y’know like, Caliborn is that character- that looks at somebody like Calliope and says, ‘Oh that’s cringe!’ Right?
Becca: Oh yeah.
Kate: Like, Caliborn is the people who were, y’know beating up on a significant portion of the Hometuck fanbase, right? For their shipping – or their cosplay, or their emotional investment in the story.
Becca: Oh yeah. And I feel like that is part of the reason that I liked Calliope, because I have experienced a lot of that, like people in my life telling me "This is so stupid that you love these things so much." And I’m like, nah I think I’m gonna do that anyway.
Kate: Yeah, exactly.
Becca: So that was part of what also endeared me to her so much. She is best girl.
Kate: Yeah. [Laughs] So yes she’s, one of the very rare – positive portrayals of that fan culture, that I’ve seen. And, I think she’s a real way in – to like empathising with the total turning on its head that the story does, at the halfway point, where it introduces this whole new set of characters, right?
Becca: Yeah [Pause]
Kate: So let’s move onto the next bullet point that we wanted to talk about; we had a few people ask this question – so Homestuck is a story that involves – characters in a lot of different scenarios right? Different versions of characters, in different places and how that changes them - y’know you see it with the Beforan trolls versus the ancestors, like how they are different depending on the environment that they’re in. You see it with how characters are different between the retcon and game over timelines, but there’s probably no character who’s a better illustration of this issue of nature vs nurture in Homestuck, what defines a person, than the alternate version of Calliope, the fully realised muse of space, that we meet near the end of the story, and that orchestrates Lord English’s apparent demise.
Kate: Y’know, what are your feelings on that, like what does the alternate Calliope say about Calliope’s character and her environment?
Becca: Y’know, I feel like this was a very hard part of the comic for me to parse, like, I really did not like it, when alt Calliope started going off about "Space players have to be lonely." Because I just felt like that was a little bit taking the concept of space being like – vast, and huge, and awesome and just taking it in sort of the wrong direction by saying like; "Oh there is so much space, therefore you have to be lonely." I really didn’t like that part, but – I did feel like, the alternate Calliope was supposed to talk about how – you need to have positive influences in your life, like normal alpha Calliope had the alpha kids, and so she was able to sort of gain this concept of humanity, and more empathy than alt Calliope was, since she grew up without any of them.
Kate: Yeah. And it is interesting to see how isolation can make somebody so disaffected – and that is a mirror to the story that Jade had of course, and they interact near the end. Now personally I think that the comic doesn’t explicitly state if she’s right about space or not. I think she’s quite biased, y’know the alternate Calliope is quite biased in that perspective never having had meaningful social connections, and y’know structuring your whole existence around this wait for this one role.
Kate: And I think a lot of people get frustrated with that part of the story, because they feel like it is the story making an explicit moral judgment about what space is, but I think it’s just another perspective. And you look at Kanaya’s story and you see there’s no theme of isolation there whatsoever, right?
Kate: Like she started isolated but ended up having some of the closest social connections and y’know themes of love and motherhood and really tight interpersonal relations – as an example. There’s nothing that says that alternate Calliope is right, just because she is old and powerful. [Both laugh] That is a common theme of Homestuck is that; the story does not draw a lot of explicit moral judgments, it doesn’t tell you whether or not its characters are right or not, it sort of leaves that to you.
Becca: And I think that’s one of my favourite parts about it, because we still vriscoursing after nine years of the comic.
Kate: We really are…
Becca: Yeah, it’s just, I love stories that give readers the chance to interact with it in that way, and try to figure these things out for themselves. Like, one of my favourite parts of Homestuck.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve described it to people as, it’s a work that you get out of it, exactly how much effort you put into it.
Becca: That’s a really good way of putting it.
Kate: Y’know if you just click through it and you enjoy the funny jokes and the pretty animation, then that’s fine, and you had a good time. But, y’know – basically every minute spent thinking about Homestuck is productive towards a deeper understanding of the work and its themes. Which is why you can have a podcast about it.
Becca: Yeah! [Laughs] For instance!
Kate: Or, y’know, write reams of fic, or an create entire fan-adventures, or discourse endlessly about Vriska [Laughs] or any other subject.
Becca: But mostly Vriska.
Kate: Uh huh. So, the cherubs in the story introduced us to an addition to the class system – the master classes of lord and muse. What, in your opinion, is the role of the muse? What is a muse in Homestuck, what does the muse as a class do?
Becca: Ahh – I am not great at classpecting, I’ll be honest.
Kate: Me neither.
Becca: Hmm. I probably should have looked at that google doc a little closer, because I didn’t see this one. [Laughs]
Kate: Aww, that’s fine.
Becca: I don’t know. Like, I feel like that’s another part of Homestuck that you have to like – put in the effort to do all this research on the classpect system, and do all these analyses where you look at; "Oh this is the phrase for this class, and it means you can see in these characters it means this, and in these characters you can see this." But, I think that’s one of the reasons that the master classes are so hard to analyse, is because we don’t have multiple characters with the same class.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely.
Becca: Like, cause when you look at – the pages, you can easily tell like; ‘Oh this is what they do.’ You can see between Jake and Tavros like, ok they’re always sort of underdog classes and that’s explicitly stated a whole bunch of times, but you can see their sort of outlook on the world. So that makes muses really hard to look at, because there’s just Calliope.
Kate: Right, and you have Calliope in like both incarnations at least.
Kate: And you can see two different roles, which is one lies in wait for a moment of orchestration – but the other the one embodied by quote "our Calliope," the main story’s Calliope is really interesting, because rather than lying in wait, rather than not having influence at all as the description of class as ‘most passive’ would be – instead of y’know fighting, and stabbing things, and doing magic like she has a social impact on the story. Right?
Kate: She’s an important guide, and friend to the alpha kids. She assists them in their quest, and also just serves as a social rock, for a like complicated group of teens with complicated problems with each other.
Becca: Yeah, all those feelings, and emotions, and problems.
Kate: Big feelings!
Becca: [Laughs] And another thing that Calliope did was her role in helping the creation of the matriorb, which I thought was very good for her, because it tied her in with Kanaya’s arc as another space player, so it sort of further ties this idea of space is with people, and it’s with motherhood, and I think that is such a good theme to have. I really love it.
Kate: Absolutely. And I think that can be taken as sort of a – possibly a refutation, of what the alternate Calliope said, the alternate Calliope even said that she didn’t understand what living meant. You see Calliope, playing this crucial assisting role, right, she’s a support.
Kate: She’s a social healer, she doesn’t physically bring people back to life but she socially helps people become their best selves.
Becca: Yes, and segueing with that; Roxy.
Becca: I think Callieroxy is real. It’s the realest shit in Homestuck.
Kate: Callieroxy is real, and canon, and my friend.
Becca: Yes! I love her!
Kate: Yeah, I would argue that, we talked about this a little bit last week, but - if you do not read that as a genuinely romantic arc, I’m genuinely concerned for you.
Becca: Yeah like, what are you doing if you don’t see that? What did you read that I didn’t?
Kate: Yeah, especially Roxy when receiving the ring of life, explicitly says:
Becca: I’m going to give this to somebody I wanna marry. Explicitly says that.
Kate: I’m gonna give this to somebody I wanna marry. And then, Roxy puts a ring on it!
Becca: She does! And then people to this day are denying – that they have any romantic relationship. And I don’t understand!
Kate: And Roxy repeatedly like doesn’t stop for 5 seconds talking about how pretty Calliope is. And Calliope says the exact same thing about Roxy, repeatedly.
Becca: Please! They’re so in love. Oh my god.
Kate: They are. They’re in love, and it’s just canon. And so in regards to Roxy, that actually reminds me of something else that I wanted to talk about, which is something I’ve talked a little bit about on Twitter before. Which is, when we see Calliope be introduced, she’s cosplaying as a troll, right, and she appears as that to other people in the dream bubbles. She explicitly states that she finds her own appearance to be hideous, she is very unhappy with her own presentation and y’know in a story that doesn’t lack for queer themes; I think it’s easy to argue that - while not a literal representation of the like human transgender experience because duh – it is dysphoria.
Becca: Calliope trans! Fact.
Kate: Calliope trans! Big fact energy. [Pause] Y’know I think it’s important to understand someone doesn’t have to be a literal human, with a literal human conception of gender to like, have a trans narrative.
Becca: Yeah, she’s very explicitly trans coded, in the way that I read her - and because there’s just so much and I can’t put it specifically into words because that isn’t my experience to speak for, but she definitely has big trans energy. [Laughs]
Kate: Right, and she's someone who is sort of confined by her relationship to masculinity re: her brother.
Becca: Oh absolutely.
Kate: And y’know she is literally chained by it. And in being freed of that chain, she becomes a fulfilled and happy person. And starts to make inroads towards being comfortable with presenting her own appearance to other people.
Kate: And, you look at cherubs and y’know specifically the two cherubs that we see in the story, and you have to argue there is strong self determination of gender and personality among cherubs – and it’s possible that cherubs who don’t interact with humans, like both Caliborn and Calliope did, don’t have such a strong conception of it. But, it’s clear for example that Caliborn is very, very, very big on being a boy.
Becca: Oh yes.
Kate: He’s a big strong boy, with a pimp cane, and he wants all of the saucy bitches to line up and y’know stay in their place. And he finds a close affinity with Jake and Dirk right, he has a actual regard for them, and a begrudging respect for them, whereas he’s actively, like, hideously dismissive of both Jane and Roxy. And y’know Calliope is not so hideously dismissive of anybody, she’s even empathetic towards her own awful brother. But she does have a closer connection with Jane and Roxy, y’know. She is absolutely friendly with Jake and Dirk but she’s closer to Jane and Roxy and specifically talks about how pretty they are, and draws them.
Becca: Yeah, that’s another thing: Janecallieroxy is also canon.
Kate: It is canon in postgame! If you read that Snapchat story, where they're all calling each other honey, and flirting, and rushing off to save Jane immediately, and you don’t think that’s romantic? Again! I gotta ask what your deal is. C’mon.
Becca: Also, with that snap story - it isn’t specifically related to Calliope this part, but I just really, really love the whole energy of Roxy tearing a strip off of the tablecloth, using a steak knife to carve it into a mask, and then going to go save her girlfriend.
Kate: Yeah! She’s gotta have the look down dude! She’s a superhero. At the end - we are definitely straying, but I do wanna talk about this because, post game Homestuck is a perfect setup for like a superhero universe, because that’s basically what it is.
Becca: Ohhh it so is!
Kate: They all have costumes, there’s some recurring villains still kicking around, like, if that’s the direction you wanna head with it? There’s a lot of different characters that could have their own, y’know like Marvel-style storylines.
Becca: Oh yeah. Homestuck cinematic universe? I’m ready for it.
Kate: The Homestuck cinematic universe, we will not rest until Viz Media gives it to us.
Becca: That’s the real epilogue!
Kate: That’s the real epilogue, is the Homestuck cinematic universe.
Becca: Lord English snaps!
Kate: Lord English snaps. Y’know traditional comics are like a super big influence on Homestuck, and it’s unfortunate, because this is the Calliope episode, but we literally have to talk about Caliborn all the time – but I think it would be easy to argue that Thanos is a direct influence on Lord English and his portrayal.
Becca: Yeah… Definitely.
Kate: But we can talk about that in the Caliborn episode.
Becca: Oh gosh, there’s a Caliborn episode?
Kate: There’s gonna be a Caliborn episode – I’m gonna have Austin Vast Error on to talk about Caliborn, because he’s a noted freelance Caliborn writer for hire.
Kate: We were actually gonna talk about that little bit later, because he wrote Caliborn and some other characters for Act Omega, which is a popular fan-adventure that continues the story of Homestuck. And so look forward to that in the reader questions portion.
Kate: Let’s see here - so we’ve talked about space, we talked about the role of a muse; let’s talk a little bit about helplessness. So Calliope is literally chained.
Becca: She literally has control over her own body half of the time.
Kate: Yeah, exactly. She’s alienated from - everything.
Becca: Her friends. Then he’s so mean and awful, and saying all these horrible things, he’s horrible, I hate him.
Kate: Yeah, she’s literally imprisoned with her brother, and in a comic with a lot of affecting themes of dysfunctional or outright abusive families, it’s one of the most affecting - and, it is a testament to the strength of her character that in our universe, in the universe of the story, that Calliope does not become jaded by this, that Calliope does not become hopeless because of this, that she still remains kind and understanding, while her brother is an unrepentant – just awful piece of shit. And, in the end, one of the most powerful messages delivered is ‘Live.’ Just ‘Live.’ [Pause] So let’s start to talk about like looking forward right? Because we talked about the epilogue, there’s more of this story to tell.
Becca: Yeah, there is a thing that was pointed out to me and I’ve not gotten a restful night of sleep since, @likeclockwork on Twitter told me, and brought it up that; in the masterpiece part, Caliborn has the void ring, and the life ring and the void ring cannot be in existence at the same time, if one is in existence, the other has to be lost. So, Callie lost her ring, and I am very worried about that, like I need answers Hussie please!
Kate: Absolutely. And y’know, I think the most pessimistic read of Homestuck’s future is that Caliborn wins. [Laughs]
Kate: Which would be very unfortunate indeed. But y’know, a more optimistic read of that is that; when Aranea was killed by the Condesce, the Condesce took the ring off and then snapped her neck to kill her, so it’s entirely possible that Calliope is still alive even without the ring.
Kate: But, losing the ring is what lets Caliborn find the ring of void. Let’s hope for that one, cause that’s a plus.
Becca: Yeah please.
Kate: Because, it would be a very tragic ending for Calliope to not be allowed to live, as is the one description she gets.
Becca: There are so many things about masterpiece that have me worried.
Kate: Yeah masterpiece is really concerning, I think we as a fandom, we kinda don’t - cause it’s like ugly and off-putting, that’s the problem with understanding Homestuck is that you have to closely read everything Caliborn says. And it’s presented in an actively reader-hostile manner.
Becca: Yeah, I don’t like hearing what the garbage boy has to say, but I gotta. Like, there’s so many things that are bad in masterpiece. Where are the trolls? Are the beta kids seriously going to be trapped in a house for, like a whole bunch of years?
Kate: Homestuck baby! It’s the name of the comic! [Both laugh]
Kate: Housetrapped! So – I think this ties in, actually, into the future of the story, is that it’s clear that cherubs play a large role in Hiveswap, just based on the fact that the core mechanic in this game involves a cherub artefact, y’know an artefact like a juju - this key which has a compulsive effect on Joey, and was passed down in her family. So, like why the fuck – does grandpa Jake Harley have a cherub portal to Alternia in the attic of his other house?
Becca: I don’t know!
Kate: We don’t know!
Becca: But, I think what my very-very-loosely-based-on-reality theory is, is that it has something to do with his wife A.Claire, because we don’t know aaanything about her at all.
Becca: I mean, it’s unlikely because – she is not, so far as we know, related to any of the other Homestuck characters at all, we don’t know where she comes from. But, that also could give the writers an opportunity to explain that.
Kate: Absolutely, there’s a lot of unanswered questions regarding A.Claire, regarding Grandpa Harley. And really, honestly, we are in that exciting portion of Hiveswap, where we have absolutely no fucking idea even what the shape of the beast here is.
Becca: Oh yeah.
Kate: Like, we have no idea even in what structure this story’s going to take place, and anybody who says that they do know is lying.
Kate: They’re lying, or they work on the game and are teasing us horribly. [Both laugh] Which appears to be the primary job benefit.
Becca: Twink Galekh… [Both laugh]
Kate: Yeah, just constantly teasing us about which of our favourite trolls are twinks or not, while we all agonise over every plot detail.
Becca: [Laughs] Oh yeah.
Kate: Lemme just say, I’m glad we got buff Galekh, like it’s not my cup of tea – obviously.
Becca: Yeah same.
Kate: But, y’know we’ve had pleeenty of twink representation in Hiveswap so far; we gotta give the people who like their muscle boys a little bit of love.
Becca: Oh yeah. [Both laugh]
Kate: Let’s see here, so let’s get to some of our reader questions… Let’s see here – Hexa asks "What are your thoughts on the significance of the ring of life, as Calliope gains it, being the final possessor of the ring – and also Roxy’s impact on Callie’s story as a whole?" So we talked about that a little bit, but let’s talk specifically about the symbolism of the ring of life vs the ring of void. Now the ring of void strikes me as a fairly direct reference, y’know if you include the invisibility, to The One Ring from The Lord of The Rings. And, so that is something that sorta takes ambition and twists it right? And that’s a perfect example of like, what Caliborn is like and, y’know what the Condesce is like who also bears that ring. So the ring of life is the opposite of that right, it’s something that almost represents like the death of ambition – it is a ring that requires humility, and you see Aranea who is not even the littlest bit humble attempt to wield it, and it turns into a massive trash fire of a disaster, right? You see a Vriska who hasn’t learned exactly why she wants to be alive for any reason other than self-glorification and heroism, pursue that ring and not get it.
Becca: Yeah. And John had it for a while, but he never wore it because he didn’t really need it. I think like – John [Sighs] I’m bad at boys discourse, I don’t know things about boys, but I feel like he’s sort of the… He’s not a hope player, but in some ways, he sort of represents that like hope and nostalgia from the very, very beginning of Homestuck - when we were like ‘Oh where’s this gonna go?’
Kate: ‘There’s no place like home.’
Becca: Yeah, there’s the little bit of a connection there as well.
Kate: And that’s what I think breath is – breath isn’t hope but it is…
Kate: It is the effortless ability to bring positive change wherever you go, if breath is fully realised.
Kate: And, in freely giving away this powerful artefact, that’s a powerful statement of heroism from John - it’s a powerful statement of heroism from Roxy, for both of them to give it away - and, for someone who is humble, and who has no designs for living other than helping, and loving, and being with her friends right. That is – the exact contrast of toxic ambition, it is – the ring went to someone deserving in the end.
Kate: Thank you for the question Hexa. Let’s see, Xtine @GAlNAX on twitter asks ‘Choose Calliope or alternate Calliope.’ Your feelings on this are pretty firm.
Kate: Yeah, Calliope. So I enjoy writing alternate Calliope a lot. I like that sort of wise, and mysterious energy that she brings, and I like this exploration of like; ‘What is this character like, what is this very clever character like if she was ruthless?’ Right? If she actually had the ability to kill her brother – and so I think they’re, y’know in general and I talk about this a little bit, but in general with Hometuck’s exploration of the ultimate self; I don’t actually think a character versus an alternate version of themselves is an interesting this or that comparison – to understand one you have to understand the other.
Kate: But, if Xtine puts a gun to my head, and says I have to pick, then I’ll pick regular Calliope. [Laughs]
Becca: Yeah, and I do like alt Calliope, I like analysing her, and thinking about what the hell she’s talking about, and what the hell she means by certain things. But, I find regular Calliope a lot more relatable, and a lot more fun, and a little bit more interesting I think – in the general scheme of things.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely. Froggy Aradia asks on twitter for us to discuss the scene with her, Jade, and Jane – and y’know this is where they all make their trollsonas.
Becca: Oh my god.
Kate: Yeah… So, first off that’s adorable. [Laughs]
Becca: Yeah! That’s so cute!
Kate: We have to put that on the table and say that’s absolutely adorable. [Laughs] And, y’know it takes place on a literal stage, and that’s interesting too, cause none of them put that stage there –
Kate: - And it is that stage from the masterpiece. What does that mean? I have no fuckin idea. [Laughs]
Becca: Yeah, I wish I knew!
Kate: Yeah, I mean - okay y’know what? I’m gonna go ahead and just do some meta improvisation, and say it is representative of them all being players on Caliborn’s stage right – the story only exists because of Caliborn, and his intense will to become Lord English, and play out the story across paradox space. And that is where we learn about the retcon, right; that is where we learn about the effects of the retcon, that conversation between Jane, Jade and Calliope. And, y’know it’s something that couldn’t have happened without Lord English, and it’s something that is probably the most important part of the story.
Kate: And, y’know for the muse of the story to be the one who discovers that information, and presents it to the audience, while being on a literal stage -
Kate: - Is maybe even a little on the nose, as a metaphor goes for Homestuck standards. [Laughs]
Kate: It’s maybe a little not subtle. It, like, sets up to think ‘Okay these are dead players after game over.’ But no it’s actually asleep players, y’know after the retcon, after John, Terezi, and a mostly unwitting Vriska save everybody.
Becca: [Laughs] Yeah, when I was first reading that I was so concerned, I was like ‘Hussie please; do not drag out this scene - of like Jane dying. I cannot handle that, please do not drag this out, do not bring Calliope into this; I will cry like a little baby.’ [Laughs]
Becca: I did cry like a little baby in the end, but that was mostly because it was happier than I thought.
Kate: Absolutely; it ends up being like a triumphant moment.
Kate: And it’s really funny, because that triumphant moment is watching Vriska stride back into the narrative – which, lemme just say, Vriska is, explicitly in text, designed to like – get to the audience, right? To like make you feel a polarised way – hanging that really important, triumphant moment on this extremely polarising character striding back into the scene, is just like ‘Good one Hussie!’ Like, you really got us!
Becca: Oh yes. Power move! [Laughs]
Kate: So let’s see, kenwrr asked us on twitter about transwoman Calliope, and we actually talked about that early in the show.
Becca: That’s true.
Kate: Yeah, that’s just a fact.
Becca: She is.
Kate: [Laughs] Goomy asks on our discord: "If there was one thing you could change about Calliope’s arc, what would it be?"
Becca: Hmm, that’s a hard one.
Kate: It is.
Becca: I would want to have – regular alpha Calliope have more of a scene, where she can interact with Caliborn, and sort of – Like she does get her chance to take a stand in the form of alt Calliope, but I wish that normal Calliope, quote "our Calliope," got that a little bit more.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely. And that actually ties in to the next question that we got from our discord – which is karkalicous asks on our discord…
Becca: Karkalicous… I actually, on the way to find this – spooky D&D room, Fergalicous came on; I was shuffling random songs on my spotify, and that came on, and it almost gave me a heart attack.
Becca: So that’s a little story.
Kate: "Have you read Act Omega, if so what did you think of the Calliope and Caliborn chat?" Have you read Act Omega, or am I gonna have to wing this solo?
Becca: I have read parts of Act Omega, several months ago; I do not remember this conversation.
Kate: Okay, I’m gonna wing it then. So y’know, Act Omega delivers us a lot of resolutions and character arcs that weren’t in the main comic. And one of them is a really powerful confrontation between Calliope and Caliborn – where Caliborn pretty much is his exact… They finally face each other - face to face - and Caliborn brags, and brags, and belittles, and insults Calliope, and something has just snapped…
Becca: Oh wait I think I do remember this. Hold up… *laughs* She kicks him in the balls doesn’t she.
Kate: She does! She kicks him in the non-existent balls. *laughs*
Becca: Yeah! I remember this now!
Kate: And Calliope instead of just rolling over, and taking it, and being passive, and y’know trying to find collaboration and cooperation, even with this awful person. Is just like; “God, you can’t hurt me anymore man.”
Becca: Just give it up.
Kate: Like "I am past the point of giving a shit, like you actually cannot posture any harder. Like I don’t care, like you already killed me. You don’t affect me anymore; you don’t hurt me anymore."
Becca: And that’s pretty much exactly what I wanted from canon.
Kate: Yeah it is.
Becca: So thank you, Act Omega, for being great.
Kate: Yeah, and y’know so; Caliborn’s writing in that scene is excellent, because even with his dominant position, even with the material advantage to continue the chess metaphor, he’s still just blustering! He’s still trying to prove something to somebody. He’s still just acting out this route of like, “I am the big strong indominable boy!” [Laughs] “I am the absolute lad!”
Becca: Yes! [Laughs] The absolute unit.
Kate: He’s like hilariously obtuse – at like not realising that like there’s more to life than just winning, man.
Becca: Yeah that’s the only, and single thing that I like about Caliborn: he’s hilarious, he’s so dumb.
Kate: He is so hilarious. Although, so I do wanna say – Caliborn is almost… inspiring. In fact he is inspiring. It’s that, despite being just like a tooootal shithead, and just an awful person. He literally just put his mind to achieving the impossible, and he just did it. He just stone cold did not give a fuck hard enough that he ruled the universe, for a while.
Becca: Yup! Yup.
Kate: And it’s like… If you’re looking to undertake a very difficult endeavour, then just like remember that; if Caliborn could do it, with his total lack of emotional maturity, or intelligence, or understanding - he just did it by feel – you can do it too!
Becca: Yeah. Caliborn made Davekat canon with shitty anime.
Kate: He did.
Becca: That’s pretty powerful.
Kate: That is powerful! And so you… Y’know what! Whatever you wanna get done, like bring… Not a lot! Not a lot of Caliborn energy. But bring just a pinch.
Becca: A little bit.
Kate: Just a pinch of that special stardust, right into your personal ambitions, and recognise that like – you can get a lot done with just a little pinch of Caliborn.
Becca: That’s what I’m gonna do when I have to study later.
Kate: You’re gonna put a little bit of Caliborn energy into it?
Becca: Oh yeah, I have four exams this week.
Kate: You will become the best, just by virtue of one day knowing that you will be the best.
Kate: Let’s see here… Is there anything else you wanted to talk about? I know you brought some notes to this endeavour, is there anything else…
Becca: Oh yeah, I had a notes document. Lemme pull that up real fast.
Kate: So I’ll let you run this segment, you just throw some stuff out there.
Becca: I had; “She’s the most important character in Homestuck. Gamzee can fuck off.” Which I believe is true. She’s a big dork. She really let everybody think she was a troll for several years. Aaaand… That’s about it. Oh, she’s left-handed – that’s a fact.
Kate: And she’s not sinister. She’s sinister but not sinister. This is good lefty representation, she’s not evil.
Kate: That actually reminds me! Limeblood!
Kate: She has lime blood! What the fuck is lime blood? What the fuck does that mean? Why did all the limeblood trolls die? Do you have any thoughts about this?
Becca: Yeeeah. That’s the eternal question isn’t it. Like didn’t they say something in canon – or elsewhere – or I think Calliope said it, because it was because the limebloods were really powerful?
Becca: And so, some trolls were like: “Ahaha, can’t have that!” And then killed them all. I think that’s prolly the most likely explanation. But the nature of those powers is incredibly interesting to me, like what is the deal?
Kate: Details… I’m gonna read some Calliope text and I’m not gonna do a British accent so sorry listeners; “Details of the genocide are historically murky, it’s one of those maddening voids in my understanding of your elaborate epic. But I have speculated their extermination had to do with their extremely powerful abilities that they tended to have, and the threat to authority they represented. Even more so than other powerful lowbloods.”
Kate: Now, y’know our only example of anything to do with limebloods – other than Calliope who’s not a troll…
Becca: Is Karkat.
Kate: Is Karkat right, Karkat and the sufferer. And they were y’know explicitly blood players. They while not being physically imposing are powerful.
Becca: They knew how to like inspire people.
Kate: Exactly. They had a massive social impact. And one of the core themes of Homestuck is that; it is not physical strength so much as social strength that is necessary for dismantling evil systems.
Kate: And so if the power of limebloods is just a social power, that’s scarier than psionics, to an oppressive society.
Becca: That’s scarier than Vriska, because the people in that situation being subject to the power actually mean it.
Kate: Yeah exactly. And y’know so that’s… Homestuck’s a powerful argument for sincerity and I wouldn’t be shocked if the power of limebloods was just to get people to listen to them, and empathise with each other just by their presence.
Becca: Yeah that would explain like the whole why the Sufferer was able to do that. Despite probably not being the only person to ever think; “Hmm maybe this is bad.”
Kate: Yeah. And we see later in the Friendsims or like with Hiveswap with Dammek and Tyzias – a bunch of other characters that appear to be fomenting a revolution. They're still inspired by the Sufferer’s message. And I’m definitely interested in seeing further like; what is the understanding of the Sufferer in modern Alternia? And in the Alternia contemporary to Hiveswap. And also, is the secret limebloods theory real? Like, is that what they’re hiding in the brooding caverns? Perhaps!
Becca: Oooh I hope so.
Kate: And that would also tie into; how are cherubs involved in Hiveswap? What is with the cherub motifs if that’s what’s going on as well. Was there anything else you wanted to get to?
Becca: Calliope good, that’s all I can say!
Kate: Calliope very good! Well that’s our show!
Becca: Wow that was good!
Kate: That was episode 4 of the Perfectly Generic Podcast. Becca, where can people follow you?
Becca: Alright so! I am on Twitter. Complaining. Constantly. @loravura [Now @VRLSREZL] And people need to stop pronouncing it like “lore-ah vore-ah” because it makes it sound like vore and that’s bad.
Kate: This is a no vore zone.
Becca: *laughs* I talk about girls and how great they are and how gay I am for them. So that’s mostly what I do.
Kate: These are good topics.
Becca: I also have a fanfic that I’m writing that is Rosemary centric, that is linked in my twitter bio and you should read it. [Becca’s fics can be found at https://archiveofourown.org/users/thesleepdeprived/pseuds/loravura]
Kate: Yes you should.
Becca: I haven’t updated it in a while, but I’m planning to.
Kate: Big mood!
Becca: So that’s a little ominous.
Kate: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve posted a fic this month, I’ve been doing this thing and also a job – it’s complicated.
Becca: Oh yeah, I got into college and college, y’know, is a real murderer of fic.
Kate: It is… It is. Employment and college are the great fic killers.
[Outro music begins playing]
Kate: Let’s see, so you can follow me @gamblignant8. There’s an n in there where you wouldn’t expect just think about it really hard. That’s my Homestuck account. You can follow my main @KateMitchellOW, but now I really can’t recommend it, I’m not allowed to tweet anything interesting there anymore. You can head to perfectlygenericpodcast.com to take a look at our podcast episodes, listen to our past ones. Twitter.com/pgenpod. You can also find a link to our discord there, discord’s the best way to get in touch and y’know ask questions for future episodes. You can also find us on the iTunes podcast listing, or in your favourite podcast app. Please give us a rating! On iTunes or your favourite app, it’ll help us reach more people. Next week! I have no fuckin’ idea who's gonna be on, or what we’re gonna talk about.
Becca: So tune in for that fun surprise.
Kate: So follow the podcast on Twitter so you can find out exactly what we’re gonna talk about. Let’s see I did the music for this episode, the introduction is ‘Thinks’ which is the unofficial theme of the podcast, and this outro is ‘Muse’. Thank you so much for listening! And Becca thank you so much for coming on.
Becca: It’s been fun!
Kate: Good night, everybody. Stan Calliope.
Becca: [voice distorted] Oh no!
Kate: This is amazing.
Becca: Is it choppy?
Kate: Your voice sounds like a Boards of Canada song.
Becca: I'm going towards the windows. Is it good?