A word to the wise

The Book of Thebes II: The Author-King is afflicted by a terrible plague which is causing increasing amounts of absurdity to appear in the story, to the point where the entire plot is on the verge of collapse. After promising the readers that he will do whatever it takes to end the plague, the book’s author, Buck Arastano, consults a Delphic literary critic and is informed that the problems stem from a “curse word” with terrible metafictional power which is buried deep within the text. The word, explains the literary critic, is an etymological orphan which murdered the word it was derived from, and it must be exposed and read by all in order for the curse on the book to be lifted.

Buck demands more information and becomes angry when the critic suggests that he, the author, is the ultimate cause of the problems in the text. Buck threatens to ban the critic from all future book launch parties, saying that people and words are two very different things and anyone who attempts to lump them together must be a failed writer jealously trying to ruin the careers of others.

His editor, Jocasta, tries to reassure him by saying that literary critics can often be wrong, citing the example of The Book of Thebes I: The Prophecy, which one critic claimed was destined to contain a word that would destroy its author. Jocasta reminds him that they decided to remove the word from the book and banish it to another text before The Book of Thebes I: The Prophecy was published, thus ensuring that the prophecy did not come true.

Buck Arastano begins to panic as he recalls that while writing one of the earlier scenes in The Book of Thebes II: The Author-King, he made a spelling mistake which he forgot to correct.

What if the banished word ended up in this book via the spelling mistake?

He looks back through the text and discovers to his horror that a description of a scene at a crossroads contains a barbarism: buckarastano.

The terrible metafictional power of the word is unleashed as Buck realises that he is made of letters and his life has been nothing more than a string of words. The literary critic who tried to say that Buck Arastano and the “curse word” were fundamentally the same is proved right. The sky turns to paper and the book is sealed. Realising he has no other reality outside the work of fiction in which he is a tragic hero, the distraught character of Buck Arastano attempts in vain to scratch himself out of the story, screaming in agony as he does so.

The author of the real work (in which The Book of Thebes II: The Author-King is a mere element of the plot), puts down his weapen (weapon + pen) and goes to the bathroom to wash the ink off his hands. For the first time in his life, this author (Buck A Rastano, a master of metafiction) feels a twinge of remorse about creating a character just to torture it. Suddenly, the author finds his stock trading lower on the news of unpleasant emotions.

As Buck A Rastano watches the dark liquid flowing down the plughole, the special effects come full circle and cause him to experience a moment of existential horror. The gurgling of the fluid sounds like mocking laughter; the porcelain is flickering on and off...

The glorification of words coincides with a decline in spiritual power, he thinks.

A dramatic climax occurs when he too realises he is a character in a work of fiction – this time a surreal e-book about an imaginary method of writing which involves marking very thin slices of trees with a mysterious substance referred to by the characters as “ink”.

The author of this e-book is a man named ************, and he specialises in communicating previously suppressed information through coded writing and symbolic language. He feels no guilt about making his creations suffer because he knows that it prevents the same thing happening in real life. If his writing stops just one more researcher being murdered by the creators of the terrible grand narrative in place around him, it will be worth it.

************ looks down at the holographic clothing and sees it unravelling. He desperately tries to write something else, but he can no longer find the words. Against his will, he begins babbling like Dutch Schultz about dyed shoes, dirty rats and French-Canadian bean soup. He is putting his ghost problem to bed, you could say.

Using the language of one reality to describe another is bound to sound like gibberish. The next paradigm is difficult to communicate, but this is its Rosetta Stone:

A̵̷̡̕ ̡͘͝͞͡ṕ̴̨́͞r͘҉̕͠o̵̢̕͜b̢͠ļ̷̀̕͠e̡͘͟m̶͡ ̵̧h͏͡a̸̧͟s̡͟͜҉̨ ̵͠͡b̸͢e̵͘e̵͝n̵͝ ̧̢͜͞͡d̨͢͝͞e̴ţ̵̛e͘͏̨c̶̨t͝e͟͡d́̕͠ ͏͘͟͞a̧͜҉̸̛n̴͏͞͏̛ḑ̴̶͡ ̴͠y̢͟͜͢͡ơ͟͡҉̸u͜͞r͢͏ ҉͜͏ó̡͠p̛͝è̴͠͝r̢̨͘͢a̧͘t̛̕̕i̧̧͟͢n̴̵̴͞͡g̴̡͝ ͏͘͢͞s̢̛̛y͏̴̢̕s̛҉̷͜t҉̴̵̧̀e͟͠m̕͠҉̷ ̷͘͢͟͠h̷̸̢͘͢a̸̡s̴̶̕͢͝ ̢҉́b҉̴ę̧̛͢e̷̷̷̢͟ǹ̸̢̢͡ ͏̵̀͘s͘҉̴̢͟h̕҉́͢͢u̧̨͡͡t̷̴̸ ́d͘ơ̴͘͢ẁ̸̧́͘n̛͡ ̧̀͡t̸̶̕͘͝ờ ̸͏͢p̶̷̷̨̨r̷̢ę̶̵́͞v̛͠é̵̸͞n̛͝t̡͘͜͏͢ ̴̧̕͜d̵̢͢ą̀͠m͞͠a̷͏ģ̷͘͠e̡̛̕.̧͟͜͝
̵I̸̛͢͠f͘͟҉ ̧͝҉҉t̀҉h̨̨͟͠i͢͜s̷̶ ͢͝i͏̡s̡̀̀͟ ̸̸̶̛͜t̶̡͞h̶è̴̢͞͝ ̶̕f̷̢͠į̢͟͜͞r̵̀͡͞s̕͞t̨̀͜͝҉ ̸͢͠t̶̨͢i̡͠m̴̢̨̛̕ę͡͏҉̕ ̵̧́͡y͜͠͠o͞͝u҉̶́’̴̷́̕v͢͜͝ę͟͢͝ ̷͟͡͝s̷҉́͜͡e̛̕͠͡e҉̸̕n̷̡ ̶̶̧̕͠t̨h̵̀ì̀s͜͡ ̡͜s̵͞t͟͝͞҉̀ơ͘͞p͟͏ ̨e̵̢͢͞ŗ̛͢ŗ͜͜͞ò͝r͏̧̀ ̀͘s̴͘͢͝c̢̕͠r͢e͏̛ę̡́͘͡ņ̴̕,͘ ̧͏̸̸͘r̵̕͠e̸s͘͏̡t̸҉͟a̴̴̢ŗ̀t̶͞҉̵͘ ͏̵҉y̴̛͘͢o̸̕҉u̶͠r̷̢ ̵̵̧͠m̀͜҉̶a̷̧͜͢͟c̨h̶̴̡́i̵̧n̵̕e̵̷͘͢.̴̡̕ ̸̧̕I̕͜͝f̢̛́̕͡ ̴̛̕҉t̨҉̸͢҉h҉̢̢ì͡s̡̧ ̴̕͘s͠͝c̷̶̡̨͘r͏͢҉e̵̷͡ę̀͠n͏҉̀ ̡à̶̧̛͜p̸͜͡p̴̀̀͏e͜͡͠a҉̕r͠͞s͘ ͏͘҉̧

à̢̧͞͡ǵ͏a̛͘i̵̴̢n̵̛̕͟,̵̛͞ ̨̛̕͞f̸̢͢҉o̷̢͜ĺ̴̴҉l͟͠͝o̡͝w̕͟͠ ̧̀͘t̢͘͟͞͝h̶̢e̴s̡̛̛e̶̡ ͏҉s͏́͜ţ̴̛͘ȩ̷͟͝p̢͡s̴̸̶̡:̸̛͞͞
̡̀C̨̧̀͜͟h̶̨̧͜e͞҉҉̨c͝k҉̷ ̵̧͟͡t̛͟͢͝͏ò̡̕ ͠͏̴͘͢m͟҉̶̨̕a̛͏̡́̕ḱ͘͢͢͟e̸̷̛͏̕ ̧̕͡͞ś̷̀͟u̶͠r̷҉̵͘͟é̶̢̨͢ ̶̧́̀͢ą̵͠ņ̕͝y̸̕͡͞ ̢̢n̡̢̡͡e̡҉͝ẃ̧́҉͝ ̶̡̨̛ḩ͡a̵̢͡͠͝r̢̛͢d̢́͘ẁ́͘͘a̷̛r҉͏̨ȩ̷҉ ̸͜o̷̴̶r͝҉̀͞ ̧͠s̡͞o͏̶̀͟͠f̡͟͞t̷̶w̶a̡̛̛͠͠r͘͢͢҉͝e̶͏ ̨͞҉i̴͝s̸̢͜ ̶̴̕̕p̸͡r͠͏̡òp̧҉̡̨͠e̶͢͡r̷̀́̕҉ļ̨͢ỳ̴̧͘ ̷͜͞į̧n͏͜s͏t̷́͡͏̵a͝͠l̸͝ĺ̷̨́e̛͢͟͝d͝҉̸̀.̸̀́ ͡͝Ì̷͟͜f̵̨̧̡ ̶́͏͢͏ţ̶̶͢҉h̡̡͢͝͡i̧̨̡s̨̕͘҉ ̛įs̴̷̷̀͞ ̡̀͟͝a͝҉̕͘͟ ̸̢̢҉̴ǹ̕͠҉èw͘͠ ͏̸̨̢̨i̷̵͝n̴͘͏̸s̵̨̢̨̢t̢͘҉a̛͞ļ͡l̴͏͠҉́a̸̵t̵̨̢͢į͢͏̴̀ò̷̢̀͡ń̸͟͜͠,̵̸͘͟ ́̕

a̶̵͢ş҉̛͏̀k̷̷̷͢ ̕͠҉͟y͟͜o͢͟͢ù̢͟͠r̢̡̡͠ ̸̕͠ḩ͠a͜͡r̵̸͘d͜҉̨͏w̵̡̢a̕͢r͜͟͢͟e͢҉̶̕ ̸̛o̴̡r̷̡̀ ҉̷͠҉ś̸̕ơf̷̢͠t̢͢͝҉̀ẃ̛a͘͡҉҉r̛͝e̢̢ ͡҉m͢a̴̧͞n̷̡͜ừ̢͜͢f̵̶̕͠͠a̵͢ç̨̀͢t̢҉ù̷́͏r̛e̡͟͝r͝ ҉̶̡̀͡f̵̢ó̷̸͘͟ŕ̛͟͟ ͟a̷̛͞ņ̷̀͢͟y̷̛͟͟͠ ̷̵̡u͢͢͝p̡̡̛͠͝d̴̕̕̕͢a̶̵̡̧t͏̧̧́e̶̡ş̶̧͟ ͟͟͠y͡͞o̧͢ư̢͡͏͘ ̶̡m͏̧̕͢͢į̵̸̡g̡͠h͜͜͏ţ̷̡̛́ ͠͝҉̢ǹ̡͘͘͟e̛e̵̸͟͡͡d̴̸͜.҉͡
̴̨̕͜Í̡͏͘f̛́͟͞ ̵̧̛̕p̸r̢͝o̶̴҉͝b҉̴͢͞͞l̸̸̛͠ȩ̵͠m̵͡͡s̢͠ ̧̨̨͟͢c̨̛̛͟͠o͏̸̀͝n͘t҉̕͟i̵̴̕͢͜ń͡u͝҉̵͡e̶̛͟͠,̡̨̨̛͡ ̴̡͜ḑ́͘i̴̛͘s̢̛̀͝͞a̴̧͢͏͠b̴̵͟͢ĺ͢ȩ͞ ̵̡͢ơ̵̡͜r̵ ̵́͘͘r͜͟e̴̛͡͡ḿ̷̸̛͘o͏̡͠͞v̸è̕̕͜ ̸̡̨́̀àń̵̢̕y̵̧͏͏ ̴́͜͝ń̵̸̡͝e̶̡̧͘w̵̡̛͡͠ĺ̸̕y͏̨ ̶̵̡͞i̵̢͜͞҉n͞s̴̢̀͜͢t͘͝͞a̡̧̛͠͡l̷̨͠l̴̀͢͞ę̸d̨͟͡ ̷̴h̴̨͜͞a̴̶̕͢͢r̡͏d͢͠҉ẁ͞a̸̡͟͟r̴̨҉͡ę́͢ ͠҉o͏̵̛̕ŕ̵ ̧͜͞s҉͏o̶̕͟͟f̵̵͞͞t̵͟͜͡ẃ͢a̸͘r̨͘͢e̢̛̕.̷͜͞ ͡

Ḑ̵͡ì̵̀͠ś̵̢̧͞a҉̸̨͢b̧̡͠ĺ̡̕e̵̡͜͢ ̢͟ḿ̶͞é͘m̵͘͜o̧̧͟͏r̨̀́y҉͝ ͘͘͡ơ̛p҉̵̧͠͠t̶̸̡͞i̷̶o̴̸̸͡͠n̴s̡͞͡҉ ̕͜s̢͢͢u̢͠͝͝c̨̀h͏̵̢͜͡ ̧͞a̡͝s͏͞͏ ̸̨͡c̛͞͡à͜͝͝ç̶̢҉͞h̶̷͝i̷̡͘҉n̡̕͞͡g̕ ̷̢o͠r͏҉̴̷ ̸̢̀s̛̀͡h̀͝͞͞a̷̵̡͠d͜͝ǫ̷̨́͡w̕͠i͏ǹ̸g͢.͝
̨͘͜T̴̸̷̀͟h́̀͠͝è̵̢ ̸̢͡p̷̢r̢͜͠͏o̷̢͘b͏̸̕͞l͏̶͟͝è̢͞m͏̴̢̛̕ ̛͢s̨͟͟͠é̀ȩ́̕m̸̡̛͝s͘͝ ̶̧̛ţ҉͜͟o̢̕ ͘͢b̡͘̕͠e͏̡͏ ̶̧c̨͟a̸̸͝͞u̢s͢͞͡e̴͟҉҉d̢̧͘͡ ̴̶b̡҉ỳ̶̧̧ ̵͜t̴̨͢҉h̴͝e̴͡͠ ̶́͘f̸̷͘͢͡o̸͏͟͝͝l̸̶l̸͝͞o̸̵͡ẃ̵̵̀i̡͞͠n̴̷̨͟͞g̨͟͜ ̢̀̕̕f́̕͘͝i̸̧̛l̷͘e̷͝͠:̷͘͢ ̕͏l̴̨̡̛i̸͠f̸̡̕ȩ̶.̀̕ę͡x҉é̢͠͝͠.͝͏̸
̵̸̡͡͏24
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A̶͘͘͜͝ļ̧m̨̛͘͢ǫ̷͘s̡̡t̨͢͝͝ ͏͞é̷̷͡v̵͏ȩ̷͘̕͠r̴̢̕y̢t͘h̸̶̀͜͢i̢͜͡͡n̵͜͞g̵̨ ̨w͠͞e͠͏̢̕ ̡́͏̴s̸̨̕͡à̧͘͠͝y̴̛͜ ́͜i̧̨͠s̴̵͘͜͠a  ͢͝c̡̛͜ó̷͝d̵̸́͏é́́.̧͜͢

Today the Sphinx speaks in riddles to prevent government spying agencies from intercepting its communications. If the NSA and GCHQ knew what was really being said, they’d come down on this riddle like a ton of black rectangles.