Transmissions From The End #003 – The Irony Singularity (non-apology apologies to Brandon Sanderson)

Up front: this post is unrelated to our own Singularity System. Instead, this week’s Transmission From The End is a short esssay about the nature of fame and fandom.

This is the story of Devon, Margaret, and Mike, and how “fame”, how being “kind of a big deal” is so relative that it means everything…and nothing. And it’s also the biggest cluster of genuine irony I’ve ever encountered in my life.

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I’m Devon Oratz. I make these RPGs you’ve never heard of: https://www.facebook.com/EndTransmissionGames. Ignore the cat. I don’t know him.

 

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This is Mike Krahulik. He draws the JPEGs that Penny Arcade makes, while the little guy behind him “toils in the word mines”. He’s kind of a big deal…to certain people.

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This is Margaret Weis. She wrote (technically novelized) Dragonlance. She’s kind of a big deal…to certain people.

 

All Three Of Us Were At GenCon 2016

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Penny Arcade published this funny comic about Mike’s encounter with “Margaret”, and how he felt like he couldn’t talk to her. It’s a funny comic (like always) but it has a kernel of truth, too.

EVEN THOUGH OUR BOOTH WAS RIGHT ACROSS FROM THE LONE SHARK GAMES BOOTH WHERE MIKE WAS SIGNING THINGS AND OSTENSIBLY DEMOING THORNWATCH, I WAS LITERALLY UNABLE TO APPROACH MIKE KRAHULIK FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF THE CON.

IN PART, THIS IS BECAUSE MIKE WAS LIKE NEVER FUCKING ACTUALLY THERE (SHARKY MCSHARKERSON, IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME, YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT), BUT MAINLY, IT WAS FOR THE REASONS THAT THE PENNY ARCADE COMIC ABOUT MARGARET IS TALKING ABOUT.

So for your first layer of irony, there is. But this shit goes deeper. Like onions.

Groban was essentially leaking Gen Con tales for a week when he came back, or sweating them maybe; they beaded on his irregular surface.  One of them was about an encounter with Margaret Weis.  I should say that he had an encounter, perhaps.  Judging from the particulars of his account, it’s entirely possible that Margaret Weis – who must be considered fantasy royalty – had no perceptible encounter of any kind.

In other words, Margaret Fucking Weis doesn’t know Mike Fucking Krahulik from Devon Oratz which means she doesn’t know him from Adam. Mike meeting Margaret is a pivotal, nerve-wracking experience for Mike, and for Margaret, it is whatever. Meanwhile, to Devon, meeting Margaret is whatever. Look, I like Dragonlance. A lot. But it’s not even the novels I’m invested in–I’m reading my first one NOW (Dragonlance Legends Volume I: Time of the Twins)–it’s the actual D&D game setting (so Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman would be a much bigger deal to me), and plenty of that is plenty dumb.

But more importantly: I only discovered Dragonlance about three or four years ago, so it’s just really not a big deal to me to meet Margaret. In fact, I casually chatted with her twice about my Dragonlance campaign (I told her of the ignoble end that Elistan met at the hands of thermodynamics), got her to sign three books for me (the Legends trilogy) and then came back a third time to pick up a signed copy of Dragons of Winter Night for my friend John. Like it wasn’t even a thang.

But Devon, who can rap with Margaret like it ain’t no thang, can’t approach Mike for the same reason that Mike’s comic makes fun of himself for not being able to approach Margaret.

To Devon, Mike isn’t Mike, Mike is Gabe.

And Gabe isn’t Gabe. Gabe is Penny Arcade. And Penny Arcade is everything.

It’s bigger than Dragonlance. It’s bigger than meeting Raistlin in person (“Yeah? How’s he doing?” “Good. He’s good.”). It’s bigger than if I accidentally ran into Taylor Swift (who wouldn’t know Margaret from Eve or Mike from Adam) in a unisex bathroom.

This is because Devon has been reading Penny Arcade twice a week every week since 2003, when he was 17 years old. This is because Penny Arcade has, to quote the comic above,”ignited my imagination” (and more importantly, made me lol) for over a decade.

In short, Devon can’t approach Mike for the same reason that Mike can’t approach Margaret, but for Devon to approach Margaret is no big deal for the same reason that Mike wouldn’t give a shit about meeting Devon or that Jerry thinks that Margaret Fucking Weis wouldn’t even notice meeting Mike. It’s the motherfucking irony singularity.

What does it mean? I have no idea. Maybe it means that nobody is “kind of a big deal”, because everybody is. Or the inverse of that.

Jerry “Fucking” Holkins took a break from toiling in the word mines to tweet @ me three times today, though, so I intend to spend the rest of my day writhing around in a joy fugue. Excuse me, and peace out.

– D.T.O.

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