The Ralter Quaternity

I

Madam Sosostris Foretells of the Force-Awakened Fisher King

In early December, Dak and Ezra were in New York for WinterCon along with other Star Wars guests, the other three Fetts and the voice of Salacious Crumb, Mark Dodson. On the Friday before the con, Topps had the pair visit their Lower Manhattan headquarters for a box break and podcast. At the very end of the taping, when asked to comment on The Force Awakens by Topps Talk host Alex Birsh, they both demurred and spoke only in clipped platitudes.

Dak had continued to do the right thing for well over a month. Adrift off Scellecc, he played the Phoenician sailor and wrote with alphabets other than Aurebesh. To those who asked about the film, he reduced his comments to mutterings about the Bōjutsu talents of Rey’s doppelgänger Chloe Bruce and being home with Chewie.

He revealed nothing—until that post-con dinner party in Park Slope, around the corner from Artie Bucco’s Food Co-op on Union. All through the breaking of bread, his inquisitive hostess had studied him between the flickering candles on the refectory table that separated them. Through his craggy visage, she had read his anxious and unspoken ruminations. Finally with a mind trick, she occasioned a spoiler of sorts. “Speak to me of the Fisher King.”

Madam Sosostris is a Brooklyn Brazilian, a Jungian analyst, given to Candomblé. After several glasses of jabuticaba, which we and the others had freely consumed, she followed the greater plan. Knowingly she responded by walking him across the narrow catwalk over the fiery chasm beyond good and evil.

“Let me take you down,” she breathed, “‘cause you’re going to where nothing is real.” Peering into the future and its awakening force, she intoned, “There’s nothing to get hung about.”

Madam Sosostris, a most adept Jungian, free associates across scores of worlds with a knowledge that’s remarkably catholic. Where most of us see the random scatter of breadcrumbs, she sees patterns on the table and gives expression to their meaning.

After clearing the crumbs and remains of strawberry tops and place setting before her, she does her own box break. She has a wicked pack of cards. It’s true. All of it. Giving voice to the cards, she tells of a solitary island monastic. The Fisher King is wounded. In his possession is the ace of cups. Perceval climbs to him to present her healing sword. It’s a portent. Another new hope, perhaps?

Madam Sosostris pushes from the table and asks rhetorically whether all the hype is just about a $4 billion franchise. A tale that’s new wine in old wineskins, told by an anointed producer and her clever director, knowing and experienced screenwriters or a storied Story Group. Have you noticed how all the world-weary chit-chat has been only on the technicalities, the narrative, story arcs, diverse casting, the marketing, what will make money, what have you? Reaching forward and turning another card, she relates how this all merely feeds the beast. We could be talking about football—yes, American football. Elections. Who’s winning the debates. Ah, but all these supposed savants are merely conduits for a deeper mythos. On the one hand, they—you—all are cyphers. On the other, you have all become gods who strut and fret for us your hour upon the screen. But a greater power, she allows like Pope Joan, finger pointing upward, plays you all…so we may all apperceive. Then, catching a deep breath, she looks into the dancing flame of the near candle and exhales with Nietzschean finality, “The time for petty politics is past: this very century will bring with it the struggle for mastery over the whole Galaxy.”1

II

Madam Sosostris Channels Kylo Ren and La Forza del Destino

After a time of brooding into the sinister candle, that is to say the one on her left, she returns to the here and now. Awakened again by the Force, Madam Sosostris considers the table before her. The chain of her amulet growls against its edge, as she reaches to turn a far card, The High Priestess. She studies it in the context of the other previously upturned cards. Taking us to the heart of Starkiller Base, she tells of The Oedipal Marine, a bookkeeper’s son who crossed his old man back in Oregon (as similarly recounted by the Finse SAR team that assisted Dash Rendar in Dak’s retrieval on Hoth:

Behind his steely mask, inside the mechanized hum of another world where no sun is shining, this dan of questionable rank blindly images Slave Leia. A man of his mind can do anything. Removing his mask, he confronts his father on the catwalk over the chasm of fire. And the father, himself a cocky son of Erin, dares him insouciantly to release him from this franchise—be careful what you wish for. And lo, this conflicted Longinus doth pierce him with a lance to his side. With a look of utter pity and surprise, the smuggler Jack Ryan flies solo as he descends into the inferno. And in an instant this Nietzschean creature, this mannish boy of muddied waters now knows who he really is. Knows his destiny and how his action on that bridge of truth and fiction will rebound upon him. No matter, no mind.

Holy Mother of Rey! Name this child! Son of the Right Hand. Son of the South, your moment is a prelude to a philosophy of the future. Oh, ye gods, Madam Sosostris now chants, embrace the glory of the royal road to the unconscious!

At this point, unmindful of our spellbound weary, she enters the spirit of the bear of Bern as he descends backwards on a ladder from Ochwiay Biano’s Pueblo roof. She speaks in Churchillian riddles, each wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. She looks again into the near future, channeling the author and finisher of our work as he semiotically tells of the Hutts and white slavery in the name of the Rose. And how the elders of the tribes came to the emperor of mice in Sarayburnu who thereupon decreed an alchemical council in Nicaea to assay canon and legend. This cupellation will continue into Episode VIII and beyond. Si lunga tratta di gente, those spirits on London Bridge in life know neither good nor evil, she tells us. Yet upstream kinked together on another bridge, destined for Paradise, Terry and Julie gaze on a Waterloo sunset.

Fail not to seek Paradise, Madam Sosostris concludes in character, point final. She knows she has wearied us all with this postprandial gibberish that has collectively bound us to her hyper-reality. Do the exegesis, she commands. Follow my thread from the heart of the Minotaur’s maze, then follow the bantha tracks into the twin sunsets of your Tatooine.

Wilder, her partner offers to us in an offhanded pedagogical tone, he too found his destiny on the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Blank stares around the table. Rather like Eliot after the Great War, he hastens to elucidate. I mean, that is his Samuele met with the Cabala in the City of Seven Hills, and after that he was compelled to seek Hanan Pacha on the finest bridge in Peru.

Upon that unnecessary and matter-of-fact footnote, Dak politely steps forth to take his leave. And later passing the Park Slope Food Co-op on his eleventh-hour walk to the car, he returns to his own quest that at times seems increasingly like yet another Artie Bucco errand.2

III

The Force Awakens Another Who Interprets The Han Child

In this Galaxy, we people of the dream are drawn to one another. A fan stands before Dak’s autograph table at the December 2015 WinterCon. He’s an Upstate Iroquoian who wants him to sign his Black Series Boba Fett totem. He’s come to the Big A, where punters gamble not just on horses. On wheels and machines they now do risk their credits. On the WinterCon level, however, the trade is in oral histories, sacred objects and other repurposed items scoured from the Western Reaches to the Moriches in the East. Beside him is a young yakonkwe with a long braid in her hair, his daughter. I ask who is her favorite Star Wars character. Pulling herself upright, her eyes flashing, her face is a map of the world.

Rey, she replies.

Hanging from her neck, I note, is a large fragment of a tooth fossil. Her father says it’s Pleistocene. He’s a collector; she, a Padawan scavenger—both in pursuit of fossil legends. They are from a clan of followers who trek after uki prints in the sand. He points to the Mandalorian Krybes on my ring. We are of the same clan, he says; we hear the buffalo thunder. When you entered the Mandalorian form on Bespin, he continues, you became my brother. And as brothers, not of blood but of the spirit, we can enter each other.

Last week on his latest quest, he found me in Tierfon. He just appeared. He was passing on his way south to the waters off the Matoaka Cliffs. Carrying his wetsuit and snorkel on his back, he was in search of a megalodon tooth he said was the size of his hand. He spoke of what he knew and of what he knew not—which had until now unsettled him.

Sometime after we met in South Ozone Park, the Mother of Rey had appeared to him in a dream. With the voice of Ondinnonk, this stone-faced apparition is not of the New World. She is an exotic dancer of the Middle Kingdom. And speaking in a Scottish accent, she tells of her Han Child possessed with jade-like power and nobility who once took the form of blind dancer, a rebel of the House of Flying Daggers. Yet this daughter of canon, the Holy Mother tells him, had in his world taken the form of a fleet-footed warrior who famously battled a short-faced bear, the monster of his people. They call this creature of fossil legend nya-gwahe. And after the daughter of canon killed nya-gwahe, she entered into the spirit of a falcon and flew to present one of his tusks to her father who was in exile on the island of the turtle.

In his dreams, he says, he too has battled Nephilim in the realm of the known. And now, the Holy Mother of Rey calls him to enter the spirit of a thunderbird to fly below the blue cloud that is the shadow of the shark. She calls him to leave the epic conflicts that are in the comfort zone of his people and delve dangerously in the realm of the unknown. And so he will dive into the waters off Matoaka to do battle with Dagon, so as to kill him and surface with the prized tooth. Such tusks, he tells me, are magic medicine. They make the warrior invincible. The Han Child’s arrival at Scellecc is a sign, he says, he must pass along to others. And as swiftly as he appeared, he leaves, saying that’s why I’m giving it to you.

Until then, I had followed the tracks, as Madam Sosostris counseled, only to find they are not those of the Tatooine bantha. They are the footsteps to the future in Jakku sand. They go alongside the unbroken trail of a small magnetic-driven all-terrain vehicle. They are the Han Child’s prophesied first steps. They lead to the scrap trading settlement at Niima and ultimately Takodana where these visions of Johanna now conquer my mind.

Yesterday morning, I stop by Tierfon Base to walk around the hanger that in my day housed the Y-Wings on which we Yellow Aces trained. I am a phantom familiar from another century. A young trainee offers her view that Plutt’s mechanic is a chic geek. Looking over her shoulder while she and her astromech work on their X-Wing, she teases me. If she’s got the power to be, power to give, power to see, she says with a wink, she’ll not be stressing your now compressed hyperdrive flow, Dak. Suddenly I see. We have entered the era of Helens on their heroine’s journeys that promise to rebalance the Force. Madam Sosostris would approve.

Yeah, so last night, the Holy Mother of Rey enters me, dancing to the music of time. With her left hand, her darkling yin leads my sundance yang. Quiet, girl, the junk boss shouts into my ear, anxious to quell my rising anima within. To my right is my fellow clansman who waves the menacing Crolute away. He reassures me: we are in another country where on the plains of Lothal the sinews of the Amazon network have supplanted those of the iron horse. The sky powers, Thunder and Lightening, he says, have imprinted themselves anew on his daughter’s uki rocks. It’s a world where urchins and orphans, young Ezras and Reys, do use the Force before knowing what it is. The sky is darkening above Taos, he tells me. Can you hear the buffalo thunder in the distance?3

IV

Maz Kanata and the Land of Phoenician Dust

The true depiction of fantastic reality is often mistaken, yes, for the bogus renderings of the Yaqui way of knowledge. The poet among the lunatics is the traveler who sees what she sees, not the tourist who sees only what she has come to see.

Last night brought with it another visitation. This time, she appeared as a Steampunk E.T., a faded Takodana rose from millennia gone by. A Luo traveler, once enslaved north of the bayou country, she comes from a distant tribe of fishermen. She gives voice to our shared unconscious. For countless generations, she has followed the bantha tracks. She has entranced the shaggy lizard of the Iroquois. She has romanced the Wookiee. She has communed eye-to-eye with big cats. And she has seen the same eyes in different creatures. Needing adventure, she has sailed the seven seas. In search of treasure, she has lived on grander dreams. That is until the end of her pirate days when the first woman of all gifts opened her reliquary box, and evil took on many forms, and lightsaber visions rained down on Perceval when she prematurely reached for the sheathed Excalibur. And yet—this bespectacled Force sentient assures me—remains Elpis.

Grandly, this diminutive pirate captain then passes me a sabre-tooth and bids me take it. She says such prizes inform our imaginings and play, even our futures. Sailor, she now whispers. Come home. We abide within a magic circle, where we children play our games of chance until we are become warriors who can cross the rainbow bridge of imagination. In her airship, she says, she will take me to the mansion in the sky that I may comprehend all in its magnificent totality. In an instant, we are on the quarterdeck. And as we ascend, I look down and see I have left behind my shadow selves at the artist’s ghost ranch in the sands below. She eyes me reassuringly. They’re never coming back, she voices.

I am Marian, the New Eve, and I tell you: this epic story we are all in informs now all peoples. We owe it to ourselves and to them to understand fully what it means. Only a fool ignores this truth. We are stardust. We are golden. And we may not know who we are, but life is for learning. Yes, learning, as long as the line of our clan continues, primally proceeding through the waist-high waters of the marsh until the end when we traverse in majesty alone as the tallest of creatures on this Earth.

And thus she spoke as we did fly over antres vast and deserts idle, spying creatures of the air beside and creatures of the land and sea below—all on the move, all making their tracks in all their glory—as all the while her kinsman did sing of our dream of `afar, the land of Phoenician dust.4

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