Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Positive Attitude - Image Courtesy of Mr. XPK “Our beliefs about what we are and what we can be precisely determine what we can be” ― Anthony Robbins “Keep your face always t...
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He looked out into the street, where his past-time self lay invisible in the water and muck of the road. You fool, he said in his mind, I earned this, but I've got to give it to you,when all you would have done is botch it utterly. But even as he thought this, he knew the truth--that he wasn't the man now that he had been then. The ghost in the road was in many ways the better of the two of them. Alice didn't deserve the declined copy; what she wanted was the genuine article.This is a beautiful speculative reflection on the nature of identity and potential: St. Ives is no longer the man whose hesitation cost him his wife. He is no longer the man who stood and watched her die. He is another man, a man no longer driven by revenge upon his nemesis, but tempered by compassion, knowing the origins that may have driven Narbondo to the life he lead. The passages where St. Ives visits the fitfully sleeping child Narbondo are beautifully heartbreaking, given what a bastard Blaylock makes Narbondo out to be in Homunculus and more recently, The Aylesford Skull. St. Ives cannot conflate that villain with this child. The moment when he traces the spine for a hump is particularly touching, since it echoes the sort of touch a parent visits upon their own child, checking for injuries. St. Ives changes the past by curing the child's ailment, but more importantly, he changes himself. We often consider ourselves fixed entities, old dogs with an inability for new tricks, but plasticity has revealed that our selves are not nearly so fixed as we once thought. Blaylock's St. Ives, through the fictional novum of time travel, undoes even the fixed nature of the character in a play or novel, as Pierandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author once argued was set, always cursed to play out the same actions. While this is arguably still true of St. Ives in LKM and "LKM," even the existence of two versions of this story undermines the idea of a fixed self, a fixed path, a fixed destiny: as St Ives realizes in-between one of his time traveling jaunts, "he had come back to a different world than he had left" (448). Changing the past through time-travel is not only St. Ives' game, it is Blaylock; he is rewriting St. Ives' past in this novel by giving him a wife. And while we, in the real world, are unable to make such massive changes arbitrarily, we can, like St. Ives, change the world around us through the sort of compassion visited upon Narbondo as a sickly child. It is an act that doesn't change him so much as it changes St. Ives.
And maybe he could become that article--but not by staying here. He had to go home again, to the future, in order to catch up with himself once more. (458)