Bet you a Jot?


There are four major coins minted by the Cealdim that are now the main units of currency across the cizilized world the Mark, the Talent, the Jot and the Drab. This is a world which Aleph himself once spun out of the nameless void, and he is also one of the four most powerful namers in the land Aleph, Lyra, Iax and Selitos. Now! If we were to award one coin each as the prizes in a ‘who was the most powerful namer of the creation war’ competition then Aleph, who knows the names of all things, would score top marks and thus in our hypothetical competition he would clearly win the Gold Mark. Lyra was another who could equal Selitos power but we are informed that she is dead and so we shall have to disqualify her on those grounds and award her the consolation prize of the Iron Drab. Which leaves only Selitos himself and the mysterious Iax to be accounted for if we are going to determine who deserves the silver talent and who gets the copper jot in the order of such things. We know all about Selitos but bugger all about Iax except that (he?) is good at naming. Now, in our books the name Iax is very close in appearance to that of another character, Jax, and it is entirely possible that they are one and the same person,like Kote is Kvothe. Name changing is becoming a common theme here and bast tells us that it was Iax who stole the moon, so which one was it? simply having similar names is not enough for a true tin foil theory to stand up on its own. To answer the whole question of who is who is going to take us deeper into the tinfoil mines and we shall have to start poking about in the affairs of gods, and mere mortal minds like ours are not meant to understand such things. This is about to go weird again and so protective tinfoil helmets are obligatory beyond this point.

When written together we have a pair of names which could be broken into two parts each. I+AX and J+AX. The difference here is admittedly very small, the smallest part there is really, just a brushstroke apart, just a tittle…but that is usually exactly where things begin to go wrong. On planet Earth it is often common practice to change the spellings of some names between these two different letters in different languages. This is best summed up by referencing the ancient Greeks who didn’t have a letter for J and so in their language and so I was used instead. The letter J is a modern improvement in linguistics introduced some 500 years ago, and this could conceivably apply to the languages of Temerant too. Supposing it did and life in this parallel universe were to evolve in a similar pattern and a similar linguistic alteration has occurred. Timewise this would historically put it somewhere around the same time that Aturan was being adopted as the first language of the land. However, if we are going down the broken road of allowing any old crossovers from our world to Pat’s we should point out that Greek is not a language of Temerant and therefore not a very good link. The most common Temerant use of the letter ‘J’ occurs in everyday life within our aforementioned word Jot. The word Jot is also a used in our world to mean the smallest part of something, it is directly taken from the name of the smallest of the ancient Greek letters ‘I’ or to give it’s full name, ‘Iota’, and these two words, Jot and Iota, mean exactly the same thing. It is also defined as a tittle, a small punctuation mark for minor alterations, as in ‘dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s’ and so we see the link in a better light as it is the difference encountered when writing both letters, one takes one brushstroke, the other takes two. It still means the same thing with both spellings but is often interchangable depending on the age of a specific words usage. This gives us at least one bent leg to stand on in declaring them as being one and the same thing. A ‘J’ is just an ‘I’ wearing a new hat.

But our two names could also be defined as JA+X and IA+X, and looking at them like this makes things a bit more interesting. As we worked out elsewhere, Ademic is an original Ergen language and therefore ideal for our purpose. From that ancient time of Temerant, ‘Ia’ meant ‘Yes’ or ‘OK’ as we hear Tempi indicate for us during the attack on the bandits camp. Conversely, an ‘X’ is the universally recognised symbol for ‘No’ or ‘incorrect’ and so approaching the problem from this angle implies to me that Iax actually translates into ‘Yes/No’, a paradox that pretty much sums up the word chance, or rather the outcomes available if you are fond of a wager and are betting on something where the odds are ’50-50′ such as the question ‘I’m betting that I have something in my pack that will make you happy. What do you say to that?’ and this is the nub of the whole story. The only definitive options are either ‘yes, I bet you have ‘ or ‘no, I bet you haven’t’ and thereby hangs the whole wager on which they shook hands thus creating a possibility.

‘Ja’ also means ‘yes’ in our world, if you happen to be German, as we can discover in the online wiktionary’s top two examples ‘Een Ja kan je Krijgen, Een nee heb je al ~ A yes you can get, a no you have already.’ and ‘Het begon met een Ja ~ It began with a yes.’ which, in my opinion, are both rather good quotes to share with the world. If we are allowing Earthly interference at a Greek level, then this reinforces our argument from a German angle too. Interestingly, more research informs us that Rothfuss is a name of German extraction, it means ‘red foot’ and is also indicates a link to the word fox and, by allusion, to the owner of this being a notoriously clever person. Fantastic mister Pat himself was thus very well named for what he has become and names, as we know, are important.

Since we are opening up our bags of earthly knowledge we ought to acknowledge Latin as well and also consider numbers since the universe is run by numbers, not words. X is the Roman numeral for Ten and since we are splitting things down to their smallest parts then we could argue that ten is made up of the numbers 1 and 0, the two numbers which make binary mathematics possible. Binary mathematics is base level stuff where, if a part is not regarded as being 1, then it is by default going to be Zero. When thinking of the possibilities for all the smallest parts of all matter that makes up the infinite universe at a tinfoil level, we need to apply such fundemental approaches to thinking. We can imagine it easiest if we think of everything at base level and therefore in a binary form. A binary number is like a switchboard where the options are either Off or On, In or Out, +ve or -ve, dead or alive or more pertinently, Yes or No. Every part of every thing comes down to this paradox. Life is One or the Other but never Both. However you break it down, this is what life fundamentally translates to, it is a series of lights that are on or off but each choice still retains the possibility of change. But enough of all that, I’m getting lost myself trying to find words to describe numbers. The best argument I can offer is that even without these ridiculously small links, then we would struggle to find any reason for Pat ever mentioning mysterious Iax at all, or indeed for Hespe’s story being given so much ink space and that would seem completely out of sync with what fantastic mr Pat has achieved constantly throughout these lovely books so far. ‘There’s no good story that doesn’t touch the truth’ Arliden often said and so we must assume that this story has been put here deliberately to link things together. Putting all of these wobbly legs together makes it stand up enough to convince me that Jax and Iax are most certainly meant to be one and the same person, meaning that this story tells us of how unhappy Jax grew up to be the powerful Iax, a major player of the creation war and one of Selitos talented rivals in the currency competition. Since Selitos lost the creation war the current state of play puts him down in the copper Jot position leaving Iax to take the silver Talent although the game is still afoot. Iax can be translated as personifying chance itself and that is what makes up the roots of Hespe’s story about the perennially unlucky boy Jax who won a strange bet with a mysterious tinker.

The Temptation of Zero by Infinity

So what exactly did he win? Well, that is very tricky since the story itself is purely allegorical. There is truth in it, yes, but not in the way it might first appear. Hespe remembers it as well as anyone could be expected to as this is the way that her mother always repeated it, a hundred times all exactly the same. It has a rhythm to it, like a song, but sometimes words cannot properly describe deeds and things get lost in translation, especialy if you are trying to understand the motives of gods from a mortal point of view. It is an old, old story from long,long ago which even Kvothe of the ruh has never heard before, it stems from a time before the ruh and from before Lanre even although Selitos plays a part. It touches upon things so ancient that only Felurian can truly relate to them, things that actually happened and that altered the world at a godlike level. I believe that Aleph, whose name means ‘number 1’ was represented in our tale as the tinker and that his packs contained the names of all things in a form that can convey their meaning more easily for an audience to relate to. The sum of all knowledge is the tinkers to bestow, whatever you need to learn, the answer will be in one of his three packs, each of which requires progressively higher levels of understanding. The turning pointof the story is the spectacles with which Jax can, for the first time see the uncountable stars and eternal moon. I believe them to be symobolic of the eye opening moment of realisation about just how infinite and vast the universe is and thus of of his own understanding of insignificance and mortality. His desire was to be eternal like them because power is one thing but death comes to everyone. To live forever was the real prize that he sought.

Hairy Balls

The first pack contained examples of the raw blocks of learning, if you start with the marbles, they are pretty balls that can be made to roll by application of force. A rubber ball has more innate properties and will change direction of its own accord making it a better ball than a marble. With ball and cup, the ball is now on a string which gives you some small measure of control over it’s desired destination. Puppet’s are a more complex version of ball and cup as you have more balls to consider and more strings to control. The random nature of dice may teach you about permutations and possilities and considering a folding knife could offer you safe ways to cut the strings away altogether. The gear soldier in the second pack would be the best version yet to show your control as it has been taught to follow simple instructions with no strings attatched. Each ‘toy’ offers you increasing levels of control over our original ‘ball’. The moon is also a ball and coincidentally described as being round as a cup but it would take something much more complex than mere machinery to attract her, new ideas might be found in a book of secrets perhaps, or through mixing ideas together like you were mixing paint with different brushes. The answer probably requires fashioning your cup to give it more attractive properties such as employing rarities like loden stone, or rather sky iron in your schema. But to finally master control requires patience and the sort of powers which are contained within the unopened third pack. Even with all the contents of the first two packs at his disposal Jax was unable to achieve his desire without help from a master. Learning about how you can control balls is the path to knowledge that could help you reach your desire. It is like juggling, you start learning with one ball, then two, then three etc. You learn control them one ball at a time until you reach the level where you are so good at juggling that dont even need to use your hands anymore to make your balls dance.

Roadworks in progress

In our story, The broken road represents the passage of life spent in the pursuit of knowledge. Iax begins, as we all do in life, as Zero. The Tinker in our play is Aleph who is already knows all knowledge and is the Number One personified. However, the unattainable moon is represented as a lady and Lyra is the only one of our original cast who has the correct costume for that part. She is symbolic of time without beginning or end, and is thus assigned the character for Infinity which only leaves wise Lord Selitos to be portrayed as our barefoot listener in his cave. He is already at one with himself and everything around him and represents the potential talent that lies hidden within all of us, a sleeping mind that has now awoken. He has grown wiser throughout the long miles of his own road but, just like all mankind, he once started out at Zero himself and no amount of knowledge shall stop him from going back to being Zero again when death comes calling and his road finally breaks,

‘Where does the road lead? Death. all lives end in death, excepting one, such is the way of things.’

Despite that, he is steadily bettering himself until he becomes One with the universe and thus reaches the Aleph level of perfect understanding. And unlike Jax, he has learnt his knowledge the correct way and achieved enough control to open the final pack. Life is always a work in progress but death conquers all. Young Iax, wearing the costumed hat of potential has the opportunity to walk his own broken road and to reach for the unattainable moon. However, he may have won the sum of all knowledge from Aleph but he did not gain the correct understanding of the way in which to use it, he did not have the lethani – the right way of doing things, he did not have enough control and this was eventually what cost him his heart’s desire. The moral of the story being that even if you are given all the answers it doesn’t mean that you understand them.

Given the chance by fate and having seen mortality in the stars Jax has set his eyes firmly set upon the unattainable moon and upon becoming one with her Infinity. He has the desire to live forever and to be as unchanging as she. He wishes to put time in a bottle, so to speak and nearly achieves this end with the help of Selitos who aids him in his understanding by unlocking the secret knowledge he has carried but never used. With these powers unlocked he created the faen realm as his playground and with the small problem achieved he only has to convince time to stay with him and then he will become as immortal as any who know the name of time which would mean that death would have no dominion.

These lofty ideals are similar to the Earthly stories we hear of in various Greek myth’s about the titans, such as Prometheus who stole fire from the gods and so raised mankind to new heights of knowledge, understanding, and power. Our award of the Jot originally goes to Jax as the personifiation of desire mixed with the luck of the draw that his name means. Yet he needed the Talent of Selitos to achieve it. These are our four actors and they represent Zero, One, Infinity and potential, which is the difference between them. But they are about to see the emergence of a new player in the game… Enter Lanre, stage left.

This Tinfoil production of The Broken Road was bought to uou by me, matty tangle. It is a play about the relationship between mortals and gods, using tinfoil symbolism and various coinage to represent mans eternal struggle to seek power over death just as we witness in the novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. You may have trouble accepting the above as plausible tinfoil, but I’ll bet you a jot that I’m not far off.

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