89 thoughts on “Chapter 5: Lit, page 57.”

  1. Ok, I admit it. But only in an old-timey sense.
    Now, dolphins, bubble gum, and glitter pen, though? Lisa-friggin-Frank Adorable.

  2. Why has glitter pen been confined to the clutches of teenage girls and thus mocked as a serious medium? Surely there’s somebody out there who can make amazing, beautiful, sparkly drawings without it looking overly juvenile and cheesy…
    One quick Google search later:
    I was wrong, there’s not, or if there is, they’re hiding. This was all I found worth mentioning: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24188482@N03/2758310278/

    1. I used to grade math homework with a pink glitter gel pen. I liked it since it struck me as less aggressive than red, but my impression was that it undermined my classroom authority somewhat to hand back an assignment with a pink glittery circled “10!” atop it.

      1. Aw! I grade in green, and put marks next to correct answers, in order to make the feedback more positive. I like the idea of glitter pen, but I could never use it…

    2. There’s actually an artist exhibited in the art gallery in Quebec City, but I can’t remember the artist’s name nor the work. He had three long canvasses of mostly spraypainted work, inspired by graffiti artists, but there was glitter glue in there.

  3. Y’know, I have to say, there’s worse guys Merry could end up with than Mose. I mean, sure, he isn’t the first thing that comes to mind at the word “handsome”, and his lifestyle and associates are less than ideal, but I can’t see Mose abusing her or making her do anything she doesn’t want.

  4. This sounds more like your daughter that you sent off to boarding school than your future wife. What is bothering me more about the situation than Moze’s role is A: These marriage traditions seem to have persisted this far into the present, and B: They are sending her REPORT CARDS… if the situation wasn’t slightly creepy already, it sounds like the arrangers are making a point to add to that level of creepiness. The only thing holding it back is the fact that Moze is just so laid back that it doesn’t matter.

    1. I have a feeling that her parents really want their daughter to the States for a better life, and that they ALSO know of uncle Shep’s attempts to nullify this marriage since it’s taking so long to come to fruitition (Moze makin Nile babies with a Nile woman), and they want to do everything they can to impress Moze (and possibly uncle Shep too), that their daughter is the best choice for Moze.

  5. The timing and expressions in the last two panels is fucking phenomenal.

    Is she making a connection between Merry and Curio somehow?
    (Merry and Moze DOES sound cute.)

  6. I get the idea that Moze doesn’t think of Merry as his future wife so much as he thinks of her as an adorable cousin or something. There doesn’t seem to be any real lecherous intent.

    1. Well, there are dolphins in the Mediterranian sea, despite humankind’s best attempts to wipe them out – but maybe there’s a delphinarium or something that she’s visited or wants to visit. Besides, dolphins are cool critters, no matter what country you live in. :-P

      1. I swam with dolphins in the Red Sea off Ain el-Shems in Egypt. The east coast of Egypt is known for its abundant and beautiful aquatic life.

  7. Allright, so he’s probably not thinking about boning Merry right now, yay for not being a pedo. He still plans to marry an 18 year old that he thought of as a daughter or kid sister or something equivalent. There’s a reason we are revolted by parent/child incest and it’s not the silly genetics issue. Perhaps the folks who say he’s just going to bring her to the States and not force her into anything are right. I hope so. I won’t say force her into anything she doesn’t want, because I’m not sure she could say not to him. This really reminds me of those fundamentalist Mormon girls who marry their uncles at 14 because they can’t imagine not doing so. Stay good Mose!

    1. “There’s a reason we are revolted by parent/child incest and it’s not the silly genetics issue.”

      Not genetics? Then why?

      1. Thanks to the lack of inflection over the internet, I actually can’t tell whether you’re being sarcastic or not! Either way, the Westermarck Effect makes for some interesting reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imprinting_(psychology)#Westermarck_effect

        It’s generally used in context to siblings (which can be even more closely related than a child-parent pairing), but it applies to cross-generational relationships as well. Merry and Moze have never met, though, so in this case it’s more of a case of child grooming, though we can’t blame Moze since he was a child as well when their marriage was arranged. But it’s still creepy when an older person you trust is taking a parental role in hopes of boning you in the future.

        1. So far in the comic I haven’t seen any mention of Moze waiting her out just to have sex with her. In my understanding he’s doing this as a favour to his dead dad. Plus do you have any idea how people could actually fall in love over great distances before the Internet came along? They wrote letters! I say these two stand a better chance at romantic love than people looking for their Right One in a bar.

          1. Yes, love through letters is very romantic, but aren’t you thinking of two *adults* doing that?

          2. I don’t think Moze specifically is a bad guy, but I only expanded on the question about whether incest is bad aside from the genetic component. The issue with Moze and Merry is a lot more complicated than that! Cultural relativism, the balance of power, child brides, the individuals involved… lots of things at work here.

          3. Teens fall in love all the time, often via non-direct communication (these days mostly internet). And what does the age have anything to do with this anyway? As their relationship is currently purely platonic (no physical contact whatsoever), what’s so creepy about it? It’s an arranged marriage, for gods’ sake! They happen all the time even these days. At least Moze isn’t creepy about it and wanting to have sex with a child.

      2. Parent/child sex abuse causes some of the worst, most long lasting mental trauma imaginable. Sibling sex abuse is as bad, and it’s often an older brother who does it. It’s a massive breach of trust. How you can even ask why incest is revolting is beyond me.

        What ridney said about “parenting” someone you plan to screw later was spot on, and totally unrelated to genetics. Merry won’t technically be a minor when she comes to the States, but it sounds like she looks up to Mose as a “big brother” or “daddy” figure. So there’s a very strong incest vibe, even though they’re not blood relatives.

        There’s a power imbalance too. She needs the marriage to get to the States. She will likely be dependent on him for food and shelter when she first gets here. Mose doesn’t seem like the sort who would use that as leverage to force her to have sex with him, but the potential is there and it’s very unsettling.

        1. You’re making the assumption that there must be abuse involved. Admittedly, most of the time it is indeed involved, but in this particular case it seems highly unlikely. What if Merry honestly falls for Mose after getting to know him better? She’ll be 18 by then.

          1. Plutonium Boss, as you and several others have said, Mose probably won’t be abusive, he’s a decent sort. I agree that Mose is a good guy. However, even if Mose doesn’t pressure Merry in any way, she still faces pressure from her family and the immigration authorities, and she’s still, comparatively speaking, a kid. Who here honestly considers 18 year olds to be full adults? Becoming an adult is a gradual process, not a magic switch that flips on your 18th birthday. We’re talking about college freshmen here. Yes, legally they can vote and kill people and get married. However, is an average 18 year old as emotionally mature, as responsible, as knowledgeable, and as confident as someone who’s 25 or 30? (Yes, yes, some 40 year olds are bratty toddlers emotionally and some 18 year olds are old souls, wise beyond their years, and some 16 year olds are legally emancipated. I’m talking about people in general, not exceptions.) If Mose were 50 and Merry 30, the age difference wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but at 18, I believe it still is, regardless of the legality of marriage. Of course, I admit that Mose and Merry may turn out to be the exceptions, and maybe, possibly, might have a marriage of equal partners, and be happy, I just have doubts about it. I think the best thing for Merry would be a marriage on paper so she can stay in the States, then a divorce, and time to find herself and see if Mose is who she wants, maybe a few years.

            Nice to have a thought provoking web comic that engenders discussion. :)

          2. In the states, yes, 18-year-olds are still kids, basically, and no, maturity/adulthood is not a magic switch. But most places other than the states expect their young people to start maturing earlier, and most european 18-year-olds that I have met are more adult than most american 25-year-olds. There is nothing biological or necessary about 18-year-olds being immature, unable to entirely look after themselves, or anything else. The only thing keeping 18-year-olds ‘young’ is the american cultural pressure to -not- start growing up until you are after 18.

            Merry might end up being a seriously mature 18 year old, who already knows how to write a resume, hold down a job, deal with immigration paperwork, and hold her own in an argument. And she might be financially dependent on Moze at first, or her parents might continue to send her a generous allowance until she’s completely settled. They seem to support her in wanting to go to uni and get a career, just because they come from a culture of arranged marriages doesn’t mean her parents are going to stop looking out for her when she turns 18 and moves to the states.

        2. They are not related, like you said, so the “incest vibe” is present only in the mind of the reader – in this case you. I personally don’t see anything truly weird about this situation; Moze is willing to wait until she’s of legal age, so where’s the issue? And knowing Moze, he’s hardly going to pressure her into anything. There are worse things out there than knowing who’s going to be your husband since you were a little girl.

          1. The incest vibe is not due to a blood ties, which they lack, it’s due to their relationship. He treats her as a kid sister, as a *child*, because she IS a child. If some adult guy screwed his adopted kid sister, would you say that’s not incest since they’re not blood kin? What if he waited until the day she turned 18? Does that magically undo their adult mentor/ child relationship? I would have no objection at all to arranged marriage, and love letters, and all the rest, if she were an adult doing this of her own free will. (Yes, accepting an arranged marriage can be a free willed choice for an adult.)

    2. The genetics issue isn’t silly.
      Now of course you can say that the children that result from incest may or may not have a medical problem. But their offspring are put at a greater risk for any number of recessive disorders as well. In a real way it exposes the whole population to that risk and that tragedy.
      Non-related couples can get screened for problems to see if they’ll have healthy children but it’s really nothing on the scale of what goes wrong when the baby doesn’t get the benefit of genetic recombination.

      1. I’m assuming Cat (and most people) agrees that the genetic issue is a real problem, but what’s silly is when people treat it as the ONLY major problem with incestuous or pseudo-incestuous relationships. As if it would be okay if inbreeding weren’t an issue, and it’s kinda sad how often that mindset does pop up. According to that line of thought, coach/teacher/priest/family friend molestation isn’t a big deal since the trusted adult isn’t related. Same-sex or prepubescent or non-penetrative sex with a relative would also be fine since these acts don’t result in offspring. Problem solved, right?

        Incest is a social AND biological taboo because nature doesn’t want us to fuck our relatives, but the genetic issue is just the tip of a very psychologically scarring iceberg.

        1. If incest was such an obvious taboo, then why do so many cultures around the world (and I’m speaking about cultures – the Western one is just one of hundreds) allow marriage to certain relatives (uncle-niece for example) that are much closer to what you would like to think of, I’m sure.
          And what about those (rare, but they have been known to happen) instances when one or both siblings have been adopted at early age, and have ended up falling in love and getting married and even having children later on? Is that incest to you? Or is it just biology running its natural course?
          In the animal world few animals reliably know which male is their father, and since their mother was attracted by certain kind of display/looks, the female offspring is likely to share its mother’s preferences and thus end up mating with its own father. (More common with birds than mammals, but happens enough for the latter too.)

          1. Cats have no aversion at all to incest. Mother/son, father/daughter, and sibling matings are common. This does produce defects, sometimes quite severe ones. Is this good for the cats? I see it as a problem, but not one so severe that there was enough evolutionary pressure to counteract it. Cat populations with access to non-related mates are healthier. Humans aren’t cats. Cats don’t suffer mental trauma from incest, humans do.

            Many animals may not “know” who their biological father is, but they are drawn to mates whose genetics differ from their own. Among humans, women judge men subconsciously by their scent. Studies show that men whose immune system genes complement (differ from) the woman’s genes are judged to “smell better”. Men with very similar genes “smell worse”. Complementary immune system genes produce a stronger immune system. That’s evolution selecting for genetic diversity, for non-incestuous mating. Some animals can sense genetic closeness, and are averse to it, without consciously knowing “that’s my dad”.

          2. Holy cow at the rectangles — I’m having trouble connecting them all!

            Unless you’re a fruitfly and only have 4 chromosomes, mating with close relatives is always a bad idea. This isn’t an opinion or theory or cultural preference, it’s an observable biological fact. The benefit of sexual reproduction is its ability to mix and exchange genes to create a stronger, unique individual; incest undermines that function since close relatives already have similar genes, so it’s impossible for them to create genetic diversity. Inbred individuals are more exposed to genetic anomalies, and it only gets worse the more inbred they are: retardation, disfigurement, death, eventual sterility…

            Luckily, evolution has provided us with safeguards against such a fate. There’s the Westermarck effect in humans, and in animals there are behaviors like offspring dispersal, kin recognition, sex-based dispersal — a whole host of defenses against inbreeding. The bird scenario you mentioned is an example of hereditary preference of fitness; it promotes sexual selection, NOT incest.

            But unfortunately these safety mechanisms aren’t perfect, and they do fail time to time. The sibling marriage example is result of Genetic Sexual Attraction, a tragic backfiring of the Westermarck Effect. Biologically, it’s absolutely incest, and the results can be seen in the infamous German sibling-couple who produced four children together. Only one of those four is a healthy child without mental or physical defects. That’s pretty cruel.

            Most of the time human society reinforces the incest taboo, but there are — as you said — hundreds of cultures, and a few of them have developed some misguided marriage customs and breeding theories, usually royalty. Uncle-niece marriages aren’t very healthy, but even incestuous cultures rarely go farther than that: child-parent and sibling-sibling couples are TWICE as related as uncle-nieces, and that’s not even taking the psychological downsides into account. Groups like the ancient Egyptians who did enforce close incest paid the price with feeble, deformed offspring — the inevitable result of inbreeding.

          3. Just to be absolutely clear here: I don’t encourage incest between siblings nor parents/children. I don’t think it’s a good thing for humans to do, and am aware of it being bad for many animals as well.

            However, the incest issue here rises from the perceived effect of Moze and Merry relating to one another as siblings or parent/child, which is not even close to the feeling I get from the comic. So it truly is in the mind of the reader. The biological side just rose up as a thread-jack debate.

      2. Sarah, ridney just said everything I wanted to, and probably better than I could have. (thanks ridney) I should not have said “silly” because deliberately increasing a kid’s chance of genetic defects isn’t a good thing. I should have said “not nearly as important as the horrific abuse”. See Rabbit’s shocking question a few posts up.

      3. In case you didn’t know before now, I suggest looking at the family trees of the European Royalty. They’re all each other’s cousins or cousins once removed (or whatever the English term for it is when two people’s parents are cousins to one another). Of course some new blood is brought into the kettle from the outside every now and then, but it’s a very recent trend for royalty to be marrying commoners. You don’t have to go back many centuries before finding that it was considered perfectly normal to marry your cousin or even your own niece/nephew, if that got you an alliance you sorely needed.
        Besides, if you go back to the Ancient Egypt, hey, the pharaohs practically always married within their own family. The closer, the better, so that the “divine blood” didn’t get diluted.
        Your definition of normal depends on the age you live in.

        1. Hanna – When did I say normal or not normal? I’m arguing that sexual abuse of children by parents or siblings, whether blood kin or adopted, is horrific and wrong, and not for genetic reasons.

          As for consensual incest between two *adult* siblings, the adults aren’t being hurt, but their kids have higher chances of genetic defects if the siblings are blood relatives. Since you’ve read so much about the European and Egyptian royalty, you surely know of their massive genetic defects. See the recent article about King Tut in National Geo. He had a club foot and other medical issues. He and his sister/wife had two stillborn daughters. Scholars believe the stillbirths were due to fatal genetic defects. Then there’s all those European royals with mental and physical handicaps so severe their families were forced to “resort” to marriage between outside blood and second sons/daughters. King Charles II’s infertility was likely due to tons of inbreeding. English, Spanish, and German royals had lots of hemophiliacs due to all being related to Queen Victoria. There’s more, but I’m already far too wordy, and genetic defects aren’t the reason I don’t want Mose screwing someone he wrote “kid sister” letters to.

          So if two siblings, raised apart during childhood, happen to meet and fall in love as adults, I wish them all the best in their marriage, but suggest they strongly consider adoption or at least prenatal genetic screening.

          1. I remember reading an article once about a woman who married her grandson and had his baby through surrogate. It was odd and…disturbing…Especially because they willingly have sex with each other…

          2. Catofevilgenius, again, I don’t claim it’s good for humans (or many other animals) to produce offspring with close relatives, nor do I think it’s normal or the norm. Just saying that in the comic the perceived incestous relationship is exactly that, perceived; it’s in the mind of the reader. It’s an arranged marriage, they happen even these days, often it’s a younger (child) female to an older (adult) male, and in some cultures the marriage is even consummated, despite the girl’s age. That Moze is willing to wait, to me at least says that this is not an incestous relationship, but just Moze’s excuse for not marrying his cousin (like Uncle Shep is wanting him to do).

        2. Well in Europe it’s not really inbreeding for its own sake, but rather for politic’s sake. A marriage is an alliance, so the powerful people wind up all being related to each other due to all these gesture of loyalty marriages and children, rather than the idea that incest actually created better offspring. Since that was limited to a small ruling class, we can still point to it as extreme, abnormal behavior for the society at large.
          Interestingly, in poor matrilinial societies, men have to marry their sisters in order to get any inheritance (since male offspring aren’t entitled to a piece of the family land or wealth) so it is common for a man who has aspirations for his family wealth to help his family “adopt a sister” into the family from some destitute or orphaned girl, with marriage being the eventual goal. The Digo have historically had this practice.

        3. I literally just finished the other Boyelyn Girl and it was all I could think of in this situation.

          I can see the issues at work/not at work. But there’s a point being made: There’s no evidence yet that Merry is writing love letters. But knowing Mose he’s not going to just jump her when she gets here.

          Or maybe he will? I think he’d give her a chance to breathe for a bit before making any moves haha. But that’s me.

          We’ll all just have to wait and see if she thinks of him as a father figure or not. I mean she doesn’t call him by his name, she calls him “my betrothed” so whether her family makes her do that or not I’m not sure, but we know she at least thinks that much.

  8. I wonder what comparison Tuesday is going to draw between her ‘friendship’ with Curio (I wonder if they went to school together) and Moze’s penpal relationship with his child-wife? Because I honestly can’t think of anything right now. o_O

    1. “I’ve known Curio for five years, and never in that time has she written me a letter, so clever, so thoughtful, so obviously composed in a state of sobriety as this. And her cursive leaves much to be desired. Moze, I want your wife to be my new BFF.”

    2. Oh – as to the comparisons, recall that Curio’s given name is apparently Prabhjot. That might bring some ideas to mind on how these two things are connected. I’ve got a few thoughts on the matter, but I’d rather just wait and see.

  9. Well…he’s got some genuine affection for her, which is kinda nice.
    Still, it IS, as someone said, sort of like getting letters from your daughter.

    1. They live on the opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean (and Mediterranian Sea too), so of course their relationship is platonic right now. Moze’s willing to wait until she becomes of legal age at 18. After than it’s up to her, so no Eeek needed. ;-)

  10. I actually have more respect for the relationship now. Moze really seems to care about her. It is a little creepy, maybe, but the age difference really isn’t that bad. It is just that the gap is in a bad place.

    1. I also like the way you think. To expand on that a little, it will be in less of a bad place by the time she comes over here.

      I still very sincerely doubt they’ll be able to have a normal marriage though. It’s sweet how he cares so much for her, but as has been stated ad nauseum, it’s not a husband/wife kind of care, it’s a big bother/little sister or dad/daughter kind of care.

  11. I think in the last panel Tuesday is trying to make the point that glitter pens and dolphins are not cute ( in her opinion) because she has known Curio so long. She has so gotten over finding cutesy cute, and now finds it more annoying. Thanks a lot Curio. Glitter pens rule!

  12. My English class is doing a penpal thing with some kids our age from LA, and my penpal wrote her letter in blue gel pen, which is just one step away from glitter pen. And she dotted the i’s in her name with hearts.
    Half of me reacted like Tuesday, and the other half like Moze.

    1. I think your reaction was very healthy. Gel pens I don’t mind (use them myself sometimes to take notes), but the hearts as i dots in your name. . . *hides under her desk*

  13. Love the way Tuesday is holding the letter, as if it were covered with slime. What did that poor letter ever do to Tuesday? Your art conveys body language very well. What someone said earlier about Tuesday being like a prickly cat was very accurate. Not sure what Mose sees in her, she’s his polar opposite. Is it the no-strings sex?

    1. “No-strings sex” at first made me think of the underwear. . . don’t know if that was your intention, but it made for a very funny associative imagery. :-P

      1. I wasn’t thinking of her undies, but LOL indeed!

        In response to one of your earlier (higher up?) posts, about Mose waiting until Merry is “legal”, please see my even higher up post about the “adulthood” of college freshmen. In case you don’t want to read through my admittedly rather lengthy post, I’ll try to sum up. There’s no magic switch that flips on her 18th birthday. They still have an “older brother / kid sister” or “mentor / pupil” history, and that doesn’t just get erased. She isn’t really a full adult at 18, compared to someone who’s say 25 or 45, with kids and a career and life experience. So technically, any marriage and/or screwing is legal the day of her birthday, but potentially still quite eeeeeew. Mose will likely just let her go off and do whatever, marry him, divorce him, be polyamorous, he probably thinks it’s all good.

        In response to another of your higher up posts that I also answered higher up and probably far to wordily, it isn’t blood that makes their relationship incestuous, it’s their *relationship* that makes their relationship incestuous. He treats her like a kid sister. If an older guy rapes his *adopted* kid sister, that’s incest, and scars her mentally just as if they were blood kin. What Mose may or may not do isn’t child rape, obviously, but it still smacks somewhat of incest.

        Done beating this horse, said what I’ve wished to, but will read any further discussion with interest.

        1. Query: what about when kids took on adult roles and were effectively adults in the early to mid teens? Heck, that still happens in places around the world; it’s a cultural thing. The extended adolescence of modern Western culture is a luxury that is a relatively recent phenomenon. If we’re talking about Nile culture, which is clearly something different from what we are used to, when did they traditionally (as opposed to modern legally) become adults? And are they or aren’t they expected to adopt to adult roles right now?

          It’s more complex than a switch. If this were two centuries ago, that switch might be flipping at 14, effectively. That’s something to consider.

  14. I’m thinking that Mose, being someone who lives very much in the moment really isn’t worried about what will happen seven years up the road. He’ll worry about it when it happens. And probably not then. I can’t see him turning her down if she wants sex if/when they meet but I also don’t see him pushing it on her.

    1. Exactly. Moze is. . . well, Moze. He’ll be okay either way. I wonder if Tuesday lives that old (I can almost see Curio shooting her dead), and if yes, will Moze introduce the two? XD

    1. Or Tuesday’s about to dump Moze and use Tuesday’s hurt feelings as an excuse – as if she cares about her friend’s feelings all of a sudden.

      But somehow I don’t feel like that’s going to be what happens.

  15. Huh…this started off creeping me out a little, but now I’m almost getting the vibe that Moze feels like he’s rescuing her. After all, he hasn’t really made it sound like he intends to stay married to her once she’s in America.

  16. Wait… something just popped into my head, and it’s so scary that I thought folks might find it funny.

    Please tell me this massive world-building sprawling narrative isn’t just the set up for an obscure Less Than Jake reference.

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