In D2: The Wheel Spins we see the same brushstrokes I’ve painted since the beginning. In writing, ‘parallelism’ specifically refers to repeated sentence structure, but let’s broaden the term. We’ll call something a ‘parallel’ if it echoes an earlier scene or even another work. As writers we may construct scenes in parallel to one another to highlight differences between characters or show a character’s growth. Today, let’s look at some examples from Akayama DanJay and other stories.
You folks know Star Wars, right? The prequels aren’t great (in fact, they’re not great at all) but at least Anakin is a dark reflection of Luke: they come from the same planet; Luke’s Uncle and Aunt and Anakin’s mom are killed while they’re away; they both get robot bits; and so on. The parallels starkly portray the characters in opposition to one another by forcing them to grapple with the same threats. That’s why it’s so powerful to see Luke in black at the start of Episode Six; we saw Vader’s descent down the same road. It’s Luke’s ability to leave the path to the Dark Side which differentiates them.
In The Matrix, Neo just gets faster and faster. When the Agents have the upper hand at the beginning they kidnap Neo and hold him stationary and put a parasite into his belly; when he’s freed of their parasite, Neo is in a moving car. Then he learns he’s really been totally stationary his whole life, and learns kung-fu on a future spaceship. The Agents start fast, but soon Neo “moves like they do.” In the end he can go all bullet-time and then flies away. Repeating images and events shows Neo’s increasing power. By using the super-speed motif over and over again there’s no way to miss Neo’s improvement. Where he once failed he now excels.
Now let’s look at Akayama DanJay. In C4 Jay smoked centipede dust, then Faith smoked centipede dust, then Beatrice was hit by a bus. In D1 Jay appeared in the desert. In D2 Faith appeared in the desert. At the end of D2 something appeared over the desert. Wham. By using parallel structure and repeating the same beats, we understand Beatrice is accounted for in the afterlife and the Heart of the Mountain recognizes her as a Zephyr, some kind of powerful being. And technically, Beatrice was led here by a Virgil: Dan, Virgil Orange. Dan even wore orange robes in A1. Everything is connected.
Speaking of A1, Virgil Blue (whose real name is Jango Skyy) leads Dan into a kitchen on his way to a furnace. In A2 Faith brings Dan out of the furnace. In A3 Dan enters Anihilato’s underground lair. In A4 he’s obliterated.
In B1 ‘Dan’ follows his cat Django into a kitchen on his way to his parent’s room. In B2 Jillian meets Faith. In B3 there’s some hellish imagery and Jillian becomes Jay (paralleling Dan’s descent to Anihilato’s domain and obliteration).
In C1 Faith enters a lecture hall. In C2 she leaves the lecture hall and Jango Skyy follows her. In C3 she comes to Dan’s apartment. In C4 she smokes centipede dust, signifying obliteration. (Beatrice’s death reflects obliteration, as well.)
In D1 Jay wakes in the desert and the Heart of the Mountain pries him out of a gorge. In D2 the Mountain’s Heart tries to stuff him in a hole and he’s saved by Faith. In D3 Beatrice is… Well… You’ll see next week.
In this manner I hope to convey a message about death, wisdom, and morality. Jango is a leader; he leads Dan to the furnace. But Faith leads Dan out of the furnace and she leads Jango out of the lecture hall in C2. In this way we see how Faith’s wisdom rivals Jango’s; even Virgil Skyy follows Faith. Consider how Faith leads people around. Who leads who? How do they do it?
Dan follows Jango Skyy as Virgil Blue, and then he follows Django the cat. Django the cat is not Jango; it is Dan’s memory of Jango. Dan follows Django because he followed Jango. But Dan’s Django is orange; it is colored by his perspective. It is almost the opposite of Jango’s sky blue. In this manner we see that Jay is subconsciously chasing the afterimage of Jango, but he is unaware of doing so.
Compare Faith meeting Dan in the desert, to the Heart of the Mountain yanking Jay out of the gorge. Faith waited outside the furnace for Dan. The Heart of the Mountain chased Jay across the desert and snaked a tentacle into his hidey-hole. Faith suggested Dan go to the Mountain but led him where he wanted to go. Jay begged the Heart of the Mountain to leave him alone but the Heart threw him over the dunes. Faith stays with Dan until he makes it clear he doesn’t want to go to the Mountain. The Heart of the Mountain will leave Jay because it finds its real goal in Beatrice, the Zephyr. By setting up parallel situations we show how Faith’s approach and the Heart’s approach differ. Faith is patient and compassionate. The Heart demands results. That’s a thesis statement right there, written in parallels.
In B2 Jillian is worried about meeting people in High School and says she didn’t want to come to California. In B3 she tells Dan that her father takes her all over the world. In C4 we learn Jay travels around the world on his own. Soon he’ll be investigating the Islands of Sheridan. I show Jay’s improvement and independence by showing developing reactions and sensibilities to parallel situations. He’s an adventurer, and showing how he copes with his concerns brings the reader along for the adventure.
Finally, I’ve got lots of worm imagery, and now we have the Heart of the Mountain, a giant bird. Maybe the Biggest Bird and the Biggest Worm should get together. See you next time!