[S.] – Chapter 2 – Drifting Twins

(Click me, I’m awesome: Poesielos’ 2nd letter (PDF) Letter No.2)

As you may see, this letter has a different design of what you would expect! Poesielos had the awesome idea to get creative with her lettering design/space and it turned out great and intriguing. Of course, it is now a challenge to decipher the lot, but I’ll try!

As in [S.] – Chapter One I comment on Poesielos’ ideas in green letters.


Chapter 2 – Drifting Twins

Listening to the same song on repeat while making this:

Santiano – Johnny Boy 

What a super fitting song! The sailing theme, tune,  as well as the bilingual aspect! (as we are Germans writing these entries and letters in English.) Next time I’ll give you my song list for chapter 3 as well, so that you can look it up if you’re interested. Cool idea!

The first part threw us “into the water” without guidance or explanations – for all intents we’re either students at Pollard stumbling about this book left in the library or picking it up in a used book store or garage sale (’cause that’s way more fun to imagine than the reality). Now drift has a lot of possible meanings, both as a noun and a verb (interestingly there is a huge nautical theme) – but for the second stage of our adventure following fits the best: to be carried along by currents of water or air by the force of circumstances.

Beautiful observation you’ve made here! I’m always impressed by your analytical perspective, and putting topics under a roof.

S. is on the ship with the silenced sailors and doesn’t know anything. There is no explanation why he was taken, for what purpose or who ordered it. A part of the ship is forbidden to him. Maybe there is another passenger we don’t know about yet? He’s planning an escape, which considering they’re in the middle of the sea is pretty much doomed from the start. Is he prisoner or passenger? I’d guess passneger. Considering that those guys are rough to put it mildly, a prisoner would have been treated far worse in my opinion. Transition is obviously a huge theme in the second chapter. Whether we link it to a journey from one —> an inner transition of self, from life to death… The danger for S. is his state of not knowing. Life is all about transitioning. We often make small steps and don’t recognize it at first, but remembering it all, we sail on an ocean of memories and experiences. He wonders whether Sola could be a threat to him, whether the sailors equal prison guards. Guards, yes, but prison? See above. His questions aren’t answered, his escape attempts stay attempts with bitter consequences – there is a hint of misinterpretation (see p. 55) but it also comes with an underlying threat.

Eric and Jen are tangled in their project. (I know another pair who are tangled in a project XD…) Moody and Ilsa (their counterparts): I feel like they intersect their conversation and use it in their research…otherwise it’s odd how they discuss the whistle in the archive in Prague and suddenly the same goes missing. That was odd for sure. I really don’t know how to interpret this so far.

The whistle itself with its connection to VMW and a ship wreck (possible ref. to the events in SoT?) and Sobreiro is such an important puzzle piece! A whistle… A call, a sign? Not sure about the DNA test but the mirroring with Sobreiro is rather neat. I wonder whether he or the Archer’s Tale will play a bigger role in SoT? Also there’s the entire matter of the Summersby recording Moody and Ilsa stole …hmmm. Yes, all really

The mirroring continues, especially between Eric, Jen+VMS, and I believe its part of their obsession with the text… Other important themes:

  • communication
  • “splitting self”, doppelganger
  • “drifting twins”

But let’s talk about what’s happening to our main characters first, some of the themes have a strong impact on them!

Eric: SoT and VMS are a part of his life since he’s 15. Ended up in the hospital after the Moody incident. Appears to be a ghost, (super lame and awesome idea: is he even real?) moving through campus (life?) unseen, during his school years he only exists in an administrative way. Some boat trip went bad, he apprently died (?) once. I got the impression that he may suffers from social anxiety, maybe that’s also part of why he doesn’t met

Jen: my favourite character so far,  and I don’t want anything bad to happen to her! She’s so ethusiastic about the entire research/VMS, her transition could be very bad <-> good. She tells Eric how she does something highly uncharacteristic (the door), procrastinates really bad so close to finishing her degree. You can tell she’s having problems with a “splitting self” (= “a present self vs. past self vs. possible self”) just like S. There are two very out of place comments from her:

“Remind me to tell you the day I disappeared.” (p.41)

“I haven’t died before.” (p.55)

Good point! I think that’s one reason why the reader can relate to her. She is not mysterious or paranoid (?) as Eric, but has also her own burden to carry. She finds herself lost, like S. but in a much more basic way of growing up and taking decisions/directions.

Again, wouldn’t it be crazy if Jen and Eric are actually the same person? Eric isn’t realible, but why do we trust Jen more? We just don’t know yet if she is reliable or not. It sure would draw attention if two people always scribble stuff into a book and never meet in person. Surely someone from the library would see them? Or did I miss something?

Eric and her are scared. There’s some “guy in the suit” (p.37), the S-Symbol starts to appear everywhere, even in the Varsity which changes its program to the one VMS movie adaption. Jen is supposed to go to NY like FXC.

That’s indeed strange (if we believe it.)

OBSERVATION: You’re doing our work, but you might avoiding yours. p.44

The dear Caldeira is a whole matter for herself. Her footnotes are all over the place… Eric believes in some kind of cipher (did you realize S. later uses the same word?) but they don’t decode anything yet. Maybe it’s somehow connected to numbers? We learn through the telegrams that VMS organizes the translation job for her in 1924 (side note: I loved the German and that they obviously didn’t just use an online translator!) Yes! Same here! So much better and more believable this way! When they use German in English media it always throws me off because it’s translated so bad. It usually kicks you out of the immersion of the world. McKay’s Magazine tried to find VMS and contacted her several times and VMS writes them to leave both of them alone in 1943. A new theory arises: Sola = Filomena or Filomena actually doesn’t exist. Thought about that too. There’s a warning about VMW’s agent, Lewis Looper, (Looper, like, things loop…) as well as a new anagram KARST. (STARK! Tony?! XD) Another teaser for a later chapter: FXC had pages but didn’t want to know their content?

“I used to think so. Now I think: You’re born a certain way. Later you get to decide how much you want to fight/change that. I dont mind being alone.” p.45.

(That is somewhat true, isn’t it?)

I already mentioned the “splitting self”. It can be attributed to Jen as well as VMS or S. At the end of the chapter, S. is “birthed” again in the water and Eric notes down that it could be “another reinvention of the self” – which leads to the question whether he is now “a seperate self or a continous one”(p.66). The monkey as well as the saved sailor are possible doppelganger (seperate selfs/mirrors) of S. The question of identity is all over the book, isn’t it amazing?

Yeah! Thinking about it, identity is far more than how you perceive yourself, or try to figure out who you are (S./Jen) but also how others see yourself. (Eric, VMS etc.) It reminds me very much of the idea that we are not one, but many inside. (I recall liking Steppenwolf but I can’t remember much actually XD…)

Communication: is the other big theme in this chapter. Jen and Eric keep communicating in the margin world (I adore that phrase) not unlike VMS and FXC (also counting the footnotes here.) There’s some sort of communication between Jen, Eric and Desjardins who sends them a holystone (even mere nautical references!) VMS communicates via two telegrams. The sailors whistle. Jen tries to communicate with Moody and Ilsa in a way. Ilsa told the guy in the suit something. S. tries to communicate with the other ship during his escape attempt. FXC wants to tell VMS something with the footnotes.

And Eric and Jen have a really awesome conversation about transition and communication (which reminded me of us too!)

The thing is: you might be right to trust someone at one point … but they can change. 

+ in between, they must be drifitig from trustworthy to not. But you cant tell how far they’ve drifted until it’s too late […] There was a time when people relied on letters to get to know each other

Observation: These are not those times.

Of course they are.”

❤ ❤ ❤

Which takes me to the last point I’d like to talk about: the chapter title. We know FXC chose them and so far she has done a great job.

There are the stars, the ships, S. and the saved sailor, FXC and Jen (both intended to work in NY), Jen and Eric drifting aimlessly in their academic life, work and obession, the two groups of

Jen/Eric <->Moody /Ilsa

(also do you see the pattern of the older male mentor and the younger female student? Totally forgot this in the first letter to you!) Yeah, I see it, it’s obvious written down like this ^^

I love the many possible meanings of DRIFTING TWINS

Still, it could be that there is /was another person on the ship we don’t know of yet. 

  • —random notes—
  • apparently the chapters alude to other works by VMS? What a cool concept! Too bad we can’t check… Would love to read some of his other books as well. Then I’d definitely feel like “Jenric”.
  • Eric believes S. is an atheist – I’m not so sure. Why?
  • I’d love to know more about Ilsa! Her motivation, backstory with Eric… because he is not realiable! (never forget that) I don’t! ^-^
  • Guess who googled Fünfherzen? Also “Belastungshemd” is a cool thing somehow…
  • “Isn’t that like the Shakespeare argument?” – you go, Jen!
  • Maelstrom isn’t only a Poe reference but also another water reference (= maelstrom means a powerful whirpool.) Being drawn into an Abyss comes to my mind. Or drawn to one’s fate.
  • Do you feel like FXC and VMS are more than just co-workers? Definitely.
  • Whoever VMS was and what he did – the fact that it results in him being still so relevant that academic research into him equals life endangering risks… SERIOUSLY; GIVE US MORE INFO! I would, but then I ahve to shoot you 😛
  • Eric – afraid of water= More possible water references (Baptism reference? Clinging to one’s idendity? Vulnerable if out in the open?
  • Jen has only two monthy left before NY, Eric just went (mirroring each other in a way?) Maybe crossing paths but never meeting again? Foreshadowing that they have this adventure together and then go seperate ways?
  • Mirroring and parallels, are you sick of them yet? Or me for pointing them out so much? Quite the contrary, it’s all good!
  • Azores, monkey…hints to the overall location?
  • VMS – either born rich, has rich sponsors or is really a popular author/excellent spy… OR: It’s not one person but a network! Would explain being in many places, the many rumored identities, skills, languages etc. How does he manage to travel so much?? Also – again – love his German!
  • Let’s pretend VMS= S. and FXC = Sola – their characters could tell us something about the real persons (or nothing at all…)
  • transition /reinvention being parts of identitiy crisis (Jen?) yep!
  • wreck: foreshadowing fate of secondship/espace attempt? Or leaving a ill-fated identity? Shedding one’s skin?
  • I still wonder whether S. is the antagonist or hero in this story… Very good question.
  • That’s it for now, my dear…
  • excited for your view on the second chapter and please always remember:
  • Weeping hearts don’ lass aseas (p.54)
  • Janine
  • P.S. Please dont hate me for the format – I always wanted to try out making a zine!

2 thoughts on “[S.] – Chapter 2 – Drifting Twins

  1. Regarding your notes:
    – Sharing songs should be interesting! ((((:
    – Sometimes I miss German class for analysing texts… I liked this a lot in middle school.
    – I don’t think there is another passenger – but maybe it’s a test?
    – Third option I didn’t think about: he’s cargo.
    – “we sail on an ocean of memories and experiences” Eric?
    – Well… Jen seems more grounded? So if there is a ghost/imaginary friend/schizophrenia going on here, it’s more Eric’s twisted mind. Let’s not even go there, or the paranoia will kick in.
    – Why do we trust Jen so much… good call actually. I believe to remember that she hasn’t explicitly lied so far or contradicted herself. She’s nearly as new to the entire topic of VMS as we as readers of “S.” are, so she isn’t as biased and paranoid (yet) as Eric … question: could you close your eyes and picture the handwriting of someone you know? Do you think we use enough handwriting that we’d recognize someones? Because if Eric and Jen never see each other, and Eric doesn’t know, say, Ilsa’s handwriting… you understand where I am going? That would be such a massive betrayal of trust, oh my!
    – I guess we have to believe the library of that university is terrible understaffed and Jen and Eric manage to sneak in a corner where no one sees them writing in a book instead of a journal (or where they can stuff it into their bags without anyone seeing). Depending on the rest of the library, the sticker on the spine may not even fit into their system? Also I can totally picture the entire VMS books crammed into a remote corner, maybe even non- circulating. Heading “S.” in plain side along the other VMS works on a shelf would be fun for example. Did Eric tell us yet why he stored his copy in there? I can’t remember right now >-<
    – I swear, the people in “S.” have the weirdest names – except Eric and Jen!
    – Your anagram game is strong xD
    – I want to see and know so much more of Moody/Ilsa (also anagrams: Ilsa=Lisa – hello middle name of mine \o/)
    – You really like this theory, huh? Maybe the other person on the ship equals the reader?
    – Depends. Are the texts on their own enjoyable? Or more theoretical, aesthetic pleasing word plays, who-cares-whether-anyone-understands-me-as-long-as-I’m-a-literature-genius (look up Finnegans Wake!)
    – That leads us back to the identity issue and how you define yourself. “S.” is at the moment a nearly clean slate: he remembers certain things like walking, talking, sleeping (functions) but nothing of the self, right? So no name, memories, experiences, belief systems etc. Belief is a personal, complicated beast. “Believing” (word pun unlocked) S. is an atheist is difficult for me because he simply doesn’t k n o w himself. Maybe people start to pray in certain situations – maybe S. doesn’t, because although he beliefs in an entity, spirit, God(s), anything, he also beliefs it isn’t the right moment for praying? And because deep down his self knows that he wouldn’t pray, he won’t unintendently now and it seems to an outsider like disbelief? There’s a reason I hoped I would not need to explain this… but let me know if it doesn’t get clearer with this short paragraph what I meant here.
    – I hope they meet and survive and stay friends all the way through this adventure!

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