In the second half of the fourth chapter of “How Lovely Are Thy Branches,” Filif tells the story of the Outlier. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
I don’t think it’s a shocker that Filif’s story resonated with me. Within the construction of the Outlier, the story of a proto-Demisiv who listens to the One and decides to free herself, Duane taps into one of the few themes that I feel are universal, or at least as close to that impossible idea as one could get. (I had a great conversation recently about how “universal stories” are bullshit, so this has been on my mind.)
And I think it’s easy to find this theme throughout Mark Does Stuff, and it is already something I’m seeing in my fiction. I did not fit in when I was a kid. I was an Outlier for a billion reasons, none that are worth mentioning if only because there were so many. It’s not that they aren’t important, but I’m trying to make a different point, rather than wallow in the things that made me different.
Because it’s one of those wretched things in life that practically every group has an Outlier, someone who doesn’t quite do things right. Someone who survives differently. Someone who is afraid or silly or odd or who, like the Demisiv in this story, chooses something radically different from everyone else. She had already been abandoned, mind you! She had been left to fend for her own, despite that she was still technically connected to her fellow Demisiv. That technicality is meaningless, though, without real support.
So the Outlier separates herself from the whole, but this time, she does it willingly. WILLINGLY. And it’s such a powerful moment because she owns it. She makes it an action of her own, and she changes the world because of it. THAT IS SO AMAZING TO ME. I love that this tale is about reclamation. She took a phenomenon that was painful and lonely, and she made it hers. That’s empowering, y’all. It’s also highly, highly relatable. I’m certain there are many of you who took the thing that made you different, and you turned it into something that gave you power instead. It’s a metamorphosis, an evolution, and like the Outlier, it’s a beautiful thing.
Of course, Duane doesn’t ignore that being an Outlier, no mater how happy it makes you, still means that you’re a target. When you shine, someone’s usually waiting to try to snuff it out. So how is that gonna manifest here? Filif’s own defiance manifests as his decision to wear candles and face the stigma of fire. It’s a gorgeous sequence, one that had been hinted at earlier. And it makes me nervous. Is there something coming? CAN’T THEY JUST HAVE A GOOD CHRISTMAS PARTY, PLEASE.
Mark Links Stuff