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🍂 Egress

🍂 Egress
By Autumn Wright • Issue #5 • View online
A reprint of May’s entry to Always Autumn is now up on Unwinnable.com. It’s about Hadestown, NieR Automata, and telling stories at the end of the world. Since writing, the piece has lost certain exigencies and gained others - all bad news. I also wrote a couple of essays for Exploits about masculinity and I have been watching the International Trumpet Guild Convention, practicing bass, and making tea.

Egress | Unwinnable
Additions and Revisions
Starting a shitty first draft, adding a section, writing analysis, these are additions. Editing a text to be more concise, prettier, to get to the point, these are revisions. When I write a piece it helps to move between these thoughtfully - it’s hard to get anywhere when you retread old ground. (I often fall into this habit). I begin with additions and when I reach the end of the discursive path I turn back to lay a trail, this being a constant moving between addition and revision. And as I approach the end of a work, my brain shifts into revision. From here it is harder to fill out a text when I realize a section doesn’t work or a transition needs to be added or - the worst - I need to add more analysis. It’s hard because that is creation. I am creating the meanings I attribute to a text, and I don’t always know what those are (that is often the cause of my writing in the first place).
I feel I am writing something good when the words start to resonate (making sense of meaning and creativity through sonic metaphor). Let’s not interrogate goodness, but resonance: themes, ideas, frameworks all lend something to the other. As a single frequency cannot represent a chord, it can be hard to articulate a thesis of this kind of critique. But often I avoid theses anyways, choosing to write around an idea, an inarticulable theme functioning as the fulcrum of an essay rather than the beginning.
During revisions on “Egress”, I came across Noor Hindi’s poem “Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying.” I knew I needed to make an addition, but that I couldn’t change the entirety of the text to reflect her argument (I was also writing against a deadline). Instead I introduced the poem as an epigraph. The harshest critiques in the essay already relied on juxtaposition because I wanted to render the beauty of Hadestown that I find so appealing while struggling to find solace in its themes, and I thought this furthered that frame. Framing is important to critique. Of course, the original intention of this juxtaposition was the works’ framing device that bookends both stories: stories told by others at the end, the role of deities, the effect of love on the world, etc. I knew there was a there there, a path to uncover, but I did not know where I was headed when I set out to write this essay.
I think I can rely on talking around the point to a fault (which is why I revise), so the poem presented a striking opportunity to just say the thing as my thoughts had begun to solidify into something I could grasp. (You’ll notice I still didn’t say it.) And you’ll notice our publisher Stu made this framing even more pointed with the placement of a specific image next to the epigraph.
I’m noticing that others are beginning to articulate the theses, themes, or the point of my work better than I can. When I turned in the first draft of this essay, my editor David offered his thematic interpretation of the whole: “struggling to bring something to fruition and conclusion.” This was a homing device as I laid a trail. In line, near the end of the trail: “Maybe this is where the ends all need to end together.” I’m happy with what turned out.
There is never a last brick to lay on these discursive trails, but the sun does set. We will find our way again, and lay a path for others to follow. We could think of the column similarly: I feel I am writing the same essay each month - one that begins in the autumn - on the ends of things and how they come together, again and again.
Hall of Egress
“No more threads to follow, no more egress.” Of all the cogent episodes that exemplify a major theme of Adventure Time, the severity of Jeremy Shada’s delivery of this line has stuck with me. Hall of Egress is an important episode to understanding how Adventure Time purposefully subverts the animated show tradition, letting characters grow, change, and age. During this sequence (link) Finn abandon’s the “bread crumb style” trail he has followed, referencing fairy tales as a conventional form of storytelling before abandoning their structure. He also removes his clothes, a constant for characters in the animated world. This moment of shedding his identity reads to me like the honorary transition to Finn’s late adolescence. Finn must give up something of his past self to return to who he is now. This is notably a season after the exploration of romantic attachment and sexuality in Breezy and placed among a host of episodes that survey philosophies and ideologies of Ooo and Earth. While he looks the same, he has undoubtedly changed. His hair is grown, his voice deepened (another distinction from animated convention pre-Adventure Time’s cohort), values both challenged and reaffirmed. I think what appeals to me about this episode is the representation of the duality of loss described by Rebecca Solnit: loss as the familiar falling away, getting lost as the unfamiliar appearing. This comes back around when Finn’s outfit is again contorted in a fight with Fern, the grass falling on his bare chest.
Content 🏴‍☠️
Some things I have read, listened to, played, or otherwise consumed recently.
📚
A Dream of a Woman, Casey Plett
Genderqueer, Maia Kobabe
📺
E3
The International Trumpet Guild Convention
150-Hour Chocolate Cake (Alvin makes the only non-vegan cooking videos I enjoy)
Sound! Euphonium: the Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day
🎼
🎧
Supernova in the East VI, Hardcore History
🎮
Postscript
All my writing is compensated to some extent, but these letters do take time and thought to create. If you enjoy this and want to support my work, consider supporting me on Ko-fi and/or sharing my work with your timeline, friends, server, family, neighbors, college roommates, pets, or local opossums.
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Autumn Wright

Autumn Wright is a Florida based essayist and critic writing about games and culture. Subscribe to Autumn Leaves to get notified via email when they publish new writing. Each update also includes additional writing about their writing and research process.

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