0270: "Merlin"

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0270: "Merlin"

Postby Berge » Wed May 30, 2007 4:02 am UTC

Image

Alt text: I mean, the black-and-white stuff was running backward, but it hardly mattered to the story.

I love Merlin stories. And trying to picture that sort of worldview. Would he hear people talking backwards, and have to speak backwards in order to be understood? Unfortunately I've never seen memento, only heard people talk about it.

...I also named my friend Catherine Merlin. Once again xkcd strikes home!
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Postby Phil » Wed May 30, 2007 4:07 am UTC

Imagine every movies running backward like memento. Even in normal time direction they're usually hard to understand...

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Re: "Merlin" Discussion

Postby MissingDividends » Wed May 30, 2007 4:07 am UTC

That was good on so many levels.

I sorta wonder if that (the "goodbyes" theme) might be saying something about the chances of us seeing the "Choices" characters again, but that's probably over thinking it.

Berge wrote:Once again xkcd strikes home!

I hear ya.

Phil wrote:Imagine every movies running backward like memento. Even in normal time direction they're usually hard to understand...

True, they might be harder to understand, but they'd probably be a bit better once you got the hang of it; going forwards, lots of them end the same way, but they all start differently.
Last edited by MissingDividends on Wed May 30, 2007 4:10 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby mikoangelo » Wed May 30, 2007 4:10 am UTC

I mean, the black-and-white stuff was running backward, but it hardly mattered to the story.


Well, I'd say that given he's used to seeing everything backwards, it was just as hard to understand initially as everyone else. Of course the plot was easier to follow, possibly.
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Postby MissingDividends » Wed May 30, 2007 4:13 am UTC

mikoangelo wrote:
I mean, the black-and-white stuff was running backward, but it hardly mattered to the story.


Well, I'd say that given he's used to seeing everything backwards, it was just as hard to understand initially as everyone else. Of course the plot was easier to follow, possibly.

I guess it makes sense that if everything you've ever seen was backwards, seeing something "forwards" would be just as confusing as seeing something backward for someone used to seeing things forward.

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Postby TheProfoundWord » Wed May 30, 2007 4:18 am UTC

I would just like to state that Memento was an awesome movie and, incidentally, I found myself talking about it today (had struck up a conversation about movies with really great twists, the top two in my opinion being Fight Club and Memento). As far as the Merlin books go, I've only read a bit of them, though now that there is a comic about it, I'll be sure to finish what I started.

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Postby Darth Eru » Wed May 30, 2007 4:19 am UTC

I haven't actually read Merlin, although now I might, but it seems to me that unless Merlin was actually traveling back in time it wouldn't work the way as described in the comic. Here's the way I picture it:

The dashes are memory, and the arrows are the direction in the timestream the person is going.

Normal Person (for reference):
------->
[time interval]
---------->
and so on

Edit: this is the way I initially thought it would be, but it is also the way the comic contradicts.
Merlin not travelling back in time but still "remembering" the future:
>-------
[time interval]
>----
and so on

Merlin travelling back in time, and the way the comic implies it working.
<-------
[time interval]
<----------
and so on

So if anyone understands my bad explanation, could you clarify which scenario is actually in the book the comic references?
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Postby The LuigiManiac » Wed May 30, 2007 4:25 am UTC

I had forgotten about the new comic today!

Also, this is one of those comics I understand little about.
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Postby Anmorata » Wed May 30, 2007 4:32 am UTC

I always felt that Memento was more like a Spirograph picture, structurally. Forwards and backwards, all at once.. a bit like my train of thought. I followed the movie with -no- problem. :)

Great comic today. :D
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Postby Phi » Wed May 30, 2007 4:32 am UTC

I like to think the train is taking off as they're standing there talking.

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Postby Sandry » Wed May 30, 2007 5:01 am UTC

Sure, it seems like a great idea to get all your naivete and stupidity out in your dotage, be fairly competent at middle age, a font of knowledge and wisdom in the prime of your life and them to be a complete whiz in your childhood... but you'd get beaten to a bloody pulp. Repeatedly. You wouldn't make it to birth.

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Postby airtank » Wed May 30, 2007 5:14 am UTC

uh. yes.

(i'm having a huge nerd night and today's comic fits in perfectly!)
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Postby EradicateIV » Wed May 30, 2007 5:22 am UTC

Perhaps I should actually watch Memento already.
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Postby TigerX » Wed May 30, 2007 5:26 am UTC

The Once and Future King was required reading at my graduating HS. I just managed to miss it thanks to some idiot putting me in the wrong English section. I probably should go back and read it someday.

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Postby UserGoogol » Wed May 30, 2007 5:27 am UTC

Darth Eru wrote:I haven't actually read Merlin, although now I might, but it seems to me that unless Merlin was actually traveling back in time it wouldn't work the way as described in the comic. Here's the way I picture it:


I don't think there's actually a meaningful difference between "travelling forwards in time and remembering the future" and "travelling backwards in time and remembering the future." At any given point in time, you would be exactly the same: doing things in the present and having a "memory" of the future.

(Except maybe if you set things up such that the laws of physics were time-reversed within his body, but that would inevitably lead to far weirder things than a wizard with a strange sense of predestination.)

Ah wait, according to Wikipedia, Merlyn ages in reverse, so I guess the laws of physics are time-reversed within his body, if only in a superficial "I'm writing fantasy, I'm not going to worry about the gritty details" sense.

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Postby dr7 » Wed May 30, 2007 6:42 am UTC

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. (DNA, of course)

I don't believe in time travel and backwards time and all that since I do believe in time as an illusion; life just flows and time is simply the way we mark the flow of our lives.

Course, I could be wrong and we one day can finally go back in time to answer the biggest question that plagues humanity each and every single day:

WHERE DID I LEAVE MY DAMN KEYS?
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Postby Froodulous » Wed May 30, 2007 7:18 am UTC

Time is relative.

Maybe everyone but merlyn was moving at faster-than-light speeds making it appear that Merlyn was going backwards.

Or maybe the writer just thought that idea of anti-ageing was cool, I don't know.

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Backward physics

Postby SohumB » Wed May 30, 2007 9:00 am UTC

dr7 wrote:Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. (DNA, of course)


I was waiting for that :D

If the laws of physics worked backwards within your body, would you absorb moisture from the air and suck them in your sweat pores? Would your retina emit rays of light? What would you see?

Would you, if you're massively hungover in the morning, say "Sweet, I'm going to have a party tonight!"

Wait... preannuals already do that.
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Strugatsky, Monday begins on Saturday, anyone?

Postby Konst » Wed May 30, 2007 9:29 am UTC

"Monday begins on Saturday" by both Strugatskys features both a Merlin and such a time-traveller. The time-traveller is two persons, one travelling forward and one backward in entire days.

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Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed May 30, 2007 9:40 am UTC

memento is a fine film - comic could do with a spoiler warning perhaps :wink:
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Postby Edna » Wed May 30, 2007 9:57 am UTC

Best one yet.

Made me proper giggle :)

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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Wed May 30, 2007 10:02 am UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:memento is a fine film - comic could do with a spoiler warning perhaps :wink:


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Postby McLurker » Wed May 30, 2007 12:22 pm UTC

Memento is one of my favourite films.

I've yet to read The Once and Future King. but I have seen The Sword in the Stone which was (very loosely) based on it.

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Postby bookishbunny » Wed May 30, 2007 12:32 pm UTC

McLurker wrote:Memento is one of my favourite films.


I loved it, too.

I loved the punchline on this one. Gave me the giggles.
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Postby skeptical scientist » Wed May 30, 2007 12:46 pm UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:memento is a fine film - comic could do with a spoiler warning perhaps :wink:

Eh, nothing really spoilery in the comic. It has to do with the construction of the movie, which was in the previews and other advertisements, iirc. Just knowing how the movie is constructed going in doesn't spoil the ending.
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Postby bookishbunny » Wed May 30, 2007 12:53 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
evilbeanfiend wrote:memento is a fine film - comic could do with a spoiler warning perhaps :wink:

Eh, nothing really spoilery in the comic. It has to do with the construction of the movie, which was in the previews and other advertisements, iirc. Just knowing how the movie is constructed going in doesn't spoil the ending.


I agree. I think more would be revealed on the back of the DVD case.
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Postby Darth Eru » Wed May 30, 2007 12:54 pm UTC

UserGoogol wrote:
Darth Eru wrote:I haven't actually read Merlin, although now I might, but it seems to me that unless Merlin was actually traveling back in time it wouldn't work the way as described in the comic. Here's the way I picture it:


I don't think there's actually a meaningful difference between "travelling forwards in time and remembering the future" and "travelling backwards in time and remembering the future." At any given point in time, you would be exactly the same: doing things in the present and having a "memory" of the future.


It does make a difference. It may appear the same from observers on the outside, but to Merlin himself there would be a difference.

If he were travelling forward in time and remebering the future, then after a time interval for him, he would remember less. In this case, first hellos would not be cause for tears, because he can remember the relationship that will take place, but he still has to actually experience it.

But if he were actually travelling backwards, and therefore his memories were actually memories of the future (for us) but of his own past, then first hellos would be cause for tears because from his perspective they're even more final than final goodbyes (because you can't guarantee that with a final goodbye you'll never see them again).

So as you see, there would be a difference between my two scenarios, and the comic only works with one.
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Merlin

Postby gtkarber » Wed May 30, 2007 1:00 pm UTC

Two things:

The first: that final panel is Merlin sitting down to watch Memento.

The second: I bet, in general, it was a bitch to watch movies with him, because he would always want to discuss the film before you saw it.

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Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed May 30, 2007 1:08 pm UTC

bookishbunny wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:
evilbeanfiend wrote:memento is a fine film - comic could do with a spoiler warning perhaps :wink:

Eh, nothing really spoilery in the comic. It has to do with the construction of the movie, which was in the previews and other advertisements, iirc. Just knowing how the movie is constructed going in doesn't spoil the ending.


I agree. I think more would be revealed on the back of the DVD case.


ya it was a little tongue in cheek, and an excuse for someone to post the spoiler comic
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Postby earcaraxe » Wed May 30, 2007 1:47 pm UTC

Doesn't T.H. White spell it "Merlyn"?

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Postby space_raptor » Wed May 30, 2007 2:12 pm UTC

TigerX wrote:The Once and Future King was required reading at my graduating HS. I just managed to miss it thanks to some idiot putting me in the wrong English section. I probably should go back and read it someday.

I recommend it, it's very good.

Pretty good comic today. I enjoy xkcd characters because they take things I think are kinda cool, and then kick them up a notch. Bam!
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Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed May 30, 2007 2:22 pm UTC

iirc the memento dvd has a special feature to play all the scenes in reverse order so you can see it somewhat like merlin. still a decent story that way but not as good as the 'proper' way round.
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Postby richlayers » Wed May 30, 2007 3:48 pm UTC

I love the genre-blending, but I LOVE stick-Merlin.

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Postby Ren » Wed May 30, 2007 3:57 pm UTC

Stick Merlin was the best part of this comic for me, since I've neither seen "Memento" or read T.H. White.

That said, [Stick Merlin] is pretty awesome.
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Postby Jadestone » Wed May 30, 2007 5:13 pm UTC

I read those books. An interesting way to live, no doubt...

And stick-merlin is pretty sweet.
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Postby McLurker » Wed May 30, 2007 6:11 pm UTC

Jadestone wrote:
And stick-merlin is pretty sweet.


It's the beard on a stick figure that looks good.

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Merlin's movie reviews.

Postby Sprocket » Wed May 30, 2007 7:36 pm UTC

Awesome comic.

I wonder how he feels about Pulp Fiction....
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Postby Drake Zure » Wed May 30, 2007 9:14 pm UTC

crap, now i gotta watch Memento.

curse you, Esteemed Authorial One!

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Postby TheTankengine » Wed May 30, 2007 9:50 pm UTC

Darth Eru wrote:
UserGoogol wrote:
Darth Eru wrote:I haven't actually read Merlin, although now I might, but it seems to me that unless Merlin was actually traveling back in time it wouldn't work the way as described in the comic. Here's the way I picture it:


I don't think there's actually a meaningful difference between "travelling forwards in time and remembering the future" and "travelling backwards in time and remembering the future." At any given point in time, you would be exactly the same: doing things in the present and having a "memory" of the future.


It does make a difference. It may appear the same from observers on the outside, but to Merlin himself there would be a difference.

If he were travelling forward in time and remebering the future, then after a time interval for him, he would remember less. In this case, first hellos would not be cause for tears, because he can remember the relationship that will take place, but he still has to actually experience it.

But if he were actually travelling backwards, and therefore his memories were actually memories of the future (for us) but of his own past, then first hellos would be cause for tears because from his perspective they're even more final than final goodbyes (because you can't guarantee that with a final goodbye you'll never see them again).

So as you see, there would be a difference between my two scenarios, and the comic only works with one.


I didn't really understand how Merlyn would have memories of the future, but now I get it. Your explanation is fantastic!

I loved Memento. Unfortunately books are for losers, so I've never read that series.
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Postby SNAFU » Thu May 31, 2007 4:25 am UTC

As a kid, I read every bit of Arthurian Lore that I could get my hands on (I stopped after Monty Python showed me the "true" King Arthur), but the mechanics behind Merlin's living in reverse eluded me. I decided that he lives every day normally because it would be impossible to answer questions before they were asked, but he remembers every day after today instead of every day before.

I think the more pure Merlin from where the Arthurian legend emerged was a dice-casting fortune teller.

Merin watching DVDs is such a fun idea. The Godfather would be interesting.
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