From "Nobilis: Work Of Genius Or Pretentiousness?"


In certain significant cases, I opted for a non-transparent presentation of the material. The narrator of the opening fiction never provides a personal history or description. The advice on running the game is given in character. The game uses 'Hollyhock God' or HG in place of the more traditional Game Master. In these and similar cases, the book's presentation may stand out slightly over its content. It seems to me that this is at least mildly pretentious.

These were all, of course, deliberate choices. Anything that stands out like that that *isn't* deliberate is almost certainly a mistake. :) Mostly, I made this kind of choice in order to manipulate the reader. It seems to me that this is at least mildly arrogant.

As for things that transpired after it left my hands: the editing and proofreading was extremely well done. I was shocked at how few changes the second printing needed—-and none of them significant! In addition, the visual design is masterful and the artwork almost invariably brilliant.

(Hee hee. *I* have a copy that most of the artists signed. *little dance*)


Oh, sure, put me on the spot! :)

"All toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads."

In Nobilis, this is an example of a transient relationship. The exact relationship between toads and frogs varies based on events in mythic reality, with science, including texts and memories thereon and thereof, quietly adjusting.

There is a mild but by no means certain suggestion that toads are in fact a contingent phenomenon. The fact that someone bothers to explain this suggests that there is an Estate of Frogs, but no Estate of Toads. Frogs are a fundamental universal principle; toads are a contingent phenomenon made possible by that principle. (Here, 'toads' is a shorthand for 'the existence of toads', or 'the condition of toads as experienced by the world.') However, this is not a necessary consequence of the statement—-simply a good reason to say something like that.

If they're both Estates, then the Power of Frogs can arbitrarily affect toads, whereas the Power of Toads can only affect those frogs that are toads. This may seem unfair, but the balance of power is not quite so skewed as it would seem. In some sense, both Powers are complicit in this situation; if the Power of Toads wishes to disassociate frogs from toads, she can certainly detach them. The similarity also means that the Power of Toads can create the toad-nature *in* a frog, and then manipulate that frog with complete freedom. This is harder to do with, say, cars: a car with the toad-nature still has the car-nature, and is therefore still pretty much a car. If she enslaves the toadness of it, she has enslaved its toad-nature but not its car-nature. Conversely, a frog with the toad-nature *is* a toad, by current definition.

I think that follows, anyway!

Taking it out of the Nobilis context, um. Let's do some simplification and look for good terms to describe the elements of this sentence. (Not patronizing! Floundering!)

Let f(x) denote "x is a frog" and t(x) denote "x is a toad".

The statement boils down to:

{ x | t(x) } forms a proper subset of { x | f(x) }.

Whether this is factually wrong is unimportant to analysis of the statement. (As noted above, it can change, anyway.)

The relationship "is a subset of" is transitive and reflexive but not symmetric. It therefore fails to be an equivalence relationship. The tighter relationship "is a proper subset of" is transitive but neither reflexive nor symmetric. (

The statement is fundamentally a mathematical statement. Really, a statement of symbolic logic. If the statement is in fact factually wrong, another proper term for this type of statement is "wrong" or "false". *giggle*

Any errors in the above are the fault of my enemies.

I'm not really sure how this applies to genius and pretentiousness. I don't think I could agree that genius works are a proper subset of pretentious works.

Hm. Tori Amos' "Winter" and "Mother"; plus, I think the courage involved kind of elevates "Me and a Gun" and "Icicle" to genius. Dar Williams' "You're Aging Well" and "Alleluia". Suzanne Vega's "Queen and the Soldier" and possibly "Solitude Standing" and "Marlene on the Wall".

Hm. Gordon R. Dickson's "Moon, June, Spoon, Croon" and "Things which are Caesar's". The final moment of Jack Vance's "The Face". (I think almost everything Jack Vance wrote is sheerest genius, but have to choose a bit that's genius for reasons unrelated to its pretentiousness! :) I'd be tempted to think that Diane Duane's "Deep Wizardry" is awfully far from pretentious, and awfully close to genius, at the very least. I have to kind of ignore the Zelazny and Kay on my bookshelves here, don't I? :) Terry Pratchett's pretty good at non-pretentious genius.

The PowerPuff Girls. Possibly "The Book of Tea". I have a little book of poems written by teens in juvie (and another by teens in a psych ward); some of them are genius. I wish I could find it and quote. Go look on (A quick skim doesn't indicate anything questionable about the site, and the books are prize possessions of mine.) Um. My friend Chrysoula's raspberry cream cheese cake thingie. (Ask Bruce Baugh. He'll confirm! It's genius! And I think it's only pretentious if served by a man in a tux who pours flaming liqueur over it and then puts the fire out with dollar bills.)

BUT! I could definitely get behind "most works of genius seem pretentious, but few works that seem pretentious are genius". :)

glad to have cleared everything up

Edit: "My Enemy, My Ally" by Diane Duane removed from the list of works of genius; on reflection, I couldn't remember if it was genius or just incredibly competent.

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