The Aspects in Homestuck represent, comprehensively, the vectors through which reality unfolds. The following theory states that each aspect has a matched pair… an ‘opposite’, in a sense, though there are similarities and parallels between them. Each pair represents two sides of the same coin; it’s better to think of each duality as a dichotomy.
If a hero opposes their aspect or entire role, they are liable to invert, manifesting qualities and attitudes of both their opposed aspect and their opposed class.
Below are brief descriptions of all the aspect pairs, and their functions:
— LIFE and DOOM — (No aspect-pair post yet)
Life is raw energy and power over reality, a gift shared in differing amounts between all living things. To live is to have the raw, uncrystallized power to affect how reality unfolds and project one’s will, applicable in all directions; to die is to lose that ability. Life mentally involves eagerness, self-love, and excitement, the optimism to act, change, and live, and it physically manifests in the form of wealth, status, vigor, psychic powers, lifespan, and even physical strength. Life entails doing what you want to do, putting your desires over hesitation, fear, over obstacles like rules or sometimes ettiquette.
Doom is the way Life’s energy decays, is destroyed, expended, consumed, and sacrificed. Sacrifice is one of the key definitions of Doom, as well as its true power: through Sacrifice, one can ignite parts of one’s Life in an enormous conflagration, achieving impossibly strong effects on reality at the expense of permanent damage to your later ability to affect it. Doom mentally involves pessimism about action, entails regret and reluctance, caution and hesitation (often in the sense of restraint), self-hatred, holding back on what you want, as well as bipolarity - bursts of frustrated anger followed by mellow depression, like an ignited flame leaving behind cool ash - while it physically manifests in great acts of bursting energy, explosions, lost limbs and organs, permanent damage, and death. Doom entails not doing what you want to do, both in the sense of sacrifice or hesitance and in the sense of enduring punishment and restriction, being forced to obey under penalty. Punishments and rules which may fall upon you with deadly strength even if you don’t know what they are when you break them.
While Life seems largely positive on its face, and Doom largely negative, this isn’t always true. Overindulgence in Life can result in shamelessness, selfishness, an inability to hold oneself back from one’s desires or instant gratification, and a lack of caution/hesitation, dangerous tendency to ignore responsibilities and consequences… all things which Doom prevents when respected in healthy amounts. This is likely the source of insanity inherent in Trickster Mode, with the ultimate juju amplifying Jane’s hero role as a wellspring of Life to overwhelming levels that exclude Doom.
Both of these aspects are similar in their purvey over the energy to effect reality, and how that energy grows or diminishes, is applied or burned and exhausted.
- Life is symbolized by Cake, which represents the energy and power found in nourishment, enjoyment, and a healthy mix of maturity and immaturity. (Even the shape of Feferi’s hive!) Also by Utensils, which reflect the propensity to indulge in Life. The aspect is epitomized by Kings, Queens, Emperors and Empresses. Life is of course also symbolized by the Organic in the form of plants and animals, living, growing, reproducing and spreading with wills of their own.
- Doom is symbolized by Red Fire and Explosions, that which burns brightly but leaves behind destruction and useless ash, often with Black-and-White Bombs as their harbingers; just as the game, pitting the Black and White factions against each other, always results in initial victory on Destruction’s behalf. (The Condesce loves to leave both these symbols in her wake when stealing Life.) Doom is also symbolized heavily by Skulls, and by the Robotic/Technology especially when it serves in place of the organic, and the constrained technological instructions it follows, like ~ATH (‘til death) code. The aspect further manifests in Rules and Punishment, the restrictions and consequences incurred for straying outside lines inscribed around you by authority and reality.
- This is one of the two dualities nigh-explicitly confirmed by Calliope.
- The Witch of Life is an active Change/Control class. Feferi moved and changed Life by bringing power and voice to the dead via shared bubbles, and as the empress of Beforus, she changed the meaning of culling and the meaning of power so that those with greater abilities and lifespans had a responsibility to use their might for the sake of the lower classes, to the point that Meenah saw the highest caste as a position akin to slavery.
- The Mage of Doom is an active Understand class. Sollux was plagued by visions of everyone’s deaths, only for none to listen when he attempted to act as a Seer and spread his prophecies and information, as he simply wasn’t meant to do. His true role entailed using his understanding to act, taking the opportunity to make sacrifices where they would matter most. He’s in touch with the rules governing reality’s grim progression, as LilDurandal discussed, and weaponized his understanding to connect people and help his friends, including a final sacrifice conflagrating all his energy, mighty enough to propel them to the Green Sun, but precise enough that it only left him half dead.
- The Thief of Life is an active Steal class. Meenah and the Condesce both amassed wealth and power for themselves while weaving rules and plots that caused hesitation and death, Doom, in others. Her Condescension also replaced the organic tools of her race’s symbiotic creatures with mechanical substitutes and forces her subjects and servants to obey under penalty of death, coercing and mind-controlling people into submission, in all her actions representing one who collects Life while leaving others nothing but Doom.
- The Heir of Doom is a passive Change/Control class. As one who invites change in (and through) death/damage and sacrifice, he’s said to have done something unknown, sacrificing his mind in an immense move that averted a disastrous fate for everyone else. Fittingly, his theme, the GameBro song, mentions: “When you’re outta quarters, he’s got your back!”. There’s a chance that his sacrifice was a move that will allow all the remaining living trolls alongside the kids to ascend where they otherwise might have died: by sending them the moon of his session’s Prospit.
- The Maid of Life is an active Creation class. Jane acts as a wellspring of Life and energy, as Nannasprite feeding John and baking up a storm regardless of who was meant to eat it, and as Trickster!Jane experiencing an overdose of Life that she spread to others.
- While it’s unlikely that classes and aspects literally apply to non-player characters, if Dad Egbert/Crocker had a hero title, my guess is that he would most likely be an Heir of Life. He explicitly and frequently encourages growth, Life, and strength on the parts of his respective children, though controls and invites change in it by also tempering it with Doom via groundings and other consequences, when necessary to ensure the safety of his children and especially their responsibility. (As one who can grow impressive facial hair, but understands that it must be trimmed!) Like Nanna, he bakes cakes 24/7, creating them to feed and nourish those in his care, but when fighting to protect his family he curiously uses not only those, but an emblem of Doom: highly explosive shaving cream, marked with black and white. And yet, while in his hands, the shaving cream is curiously inert! Just as Equius could invite others not just to submit but to dominate, Void’s opposite, that shaving cream can quench fires in Dad’s hands is as expected for one who can invite the redefinition of Life, manipulating the boundaries of it and Doom by extension.
— LIGHT and VOID — (Partial post: A quick chart on Light and Void)
Light is information, illumination, agency, clarity, and importance, that which demands attention. An unordered string of letters lacks importance; however, by ordering them into the sequence of a genetic code, it suddenly gains immense importance in reality’s progression, as meaning has been interwoven with its order. This ‘importance’ is the essence of Fortune: the luckiest individual in a situation is simply the one with the most “Circumstantial Importance”, the one who happened to be in the right place at the right time making the right moves, perhaps twisting the flick of their dice roll just so, or glancing a slice at just the right angle for their blade to graze a First Guardian. Agency is a manifestation of circumstantial importance as well: when one is put to sleep, or has control of their motor skills and abilities possessed by another via psychic powers, the importance of their will over how reality is unfolding is being temporarily diminished or ceded. To see the Light is to understand the truth, to understand what’s important. And the immediate presence of Light draws the attention of observers, like a bonfire: Light is that which is noticeable and difficult to ignore, when one shares a situation with it. Hence, those who understand Light can manipulate events by drawing people’s attention to something specific, such as a distraction, and those who crave and steal Light greatly desire the attention of others.
Void is nothingness, darkness, obfuscation, submission, mystery, the destruction of information, uncertainty, and irrelevance, that which is or ought to be ignored. To be plunged into darkness is to be plunged into obscurity, rendered unimportant in the progression of reality, disregarded as a factor by others or the world around you. To submit your will to substances, sleep, or other wills is to render your own unimportant. Misfortune serves the same role, happenstance interfering with and overriding the importance and influence of your will. Mysteries are strands of truth enveloped in Void, information hidden beneath locks or a veil of the obscure, sometimes enticing the curious to investigate and make them known. If information is out in the open, Void can garble and obscure it via partial destruction, as in Roxy’s drunken typos or Rose’s grimdark babbling. And if information - or any ordered object, like a legendary rifle touched by inordinately STRONG hands - is to be rendered permanently irrelevant, it may simply be destroyed. In addition to disorder, lies and fiction are also Void, that which is ordered but meaningless; however, both tend to be shot through with rays of Light beneath the distractions. The uncertainty of Void even serves to move objects and individuals, in a way almost analogous to the uncertainty principle: unlike Light, which travels in a near-straight line, since ‘position’ is meaningless for something plunging through the Void, it can pop out again virtually anywhere! Void is that which is unperceived, unknown, and perhaps unknowable: that which is invisible to everyone is thought of as unimportant, at least until it steals into the Light. After all, as the opposite of Light, Void embodies an antithesis to that which commands attention, and by definition one ensconced in it may find themselves ignored by those around them; a property which is annoying when there exist grains of usefulness you wish to pry and share out of the irrelevance, but useful when one instead wishes to remain hidden.
While Light seems largely positive and Void largely negative, this isn’t always true. Void in the environment represents the mystery which keeps life exciting and allows for adventure, and in an individual represents the ability to remain out of others’ notice. Overindulgence in Light can draw the attention of those who would harm you, not just admirers, and deciding that your ‘importance’ outweighs the ability for others to even have a say over reality is a quick route to a just death. This is what led to Vriska’s demise being considered Just.
Both of these aspects are similar in their purvey over information and importance: where it resides, when it is seen and understood, how it is hidden and woven both above and underneath the folds of reality.
- Light is symbolized by Eyes, the windows to our souls which perceive more information than any other sense. The aspect is embodied by Skaia, which sees, knows, shares, but rarely acts; it is epitomized by Doc Scratch and his magic cueball seeds, which somehow tap forcibly into an immense and unknown source of Light for their omniscience.
- Void is symbolized by Cracked Shades, reflecting the blackness of the Furthest Ring as damaged by Lord English. The aspect is embodied by the Horrorterrors, which writhe unknowably and invite submission to their desires between their fog of gnashing and singing. Void is also symbolized heavily by Oceans and dark water, their depths plunging things into obscurity, or rain and dark stormclouds punctuated with crack-like lightning. Furthermore, as of late, it turns out Pumpkins have extremely strong Void associations, with the narrative refusing (what pumpkin?) to acknowledge their presence, their spooky disconnection from spacetime, and Roxy’s constant robbery of them as a Rogue to feed her neighbors; Trickster!Jake was even able to hope one into existence, using the symbol to literally channel Void so he and Jane could locate the invisible Lalonde!
- Rose Lalonde exhibited this duality by inverting into a Witch of Void.
— SPACE and TIME — (No aspect-pair post yet)
- SPACE and TIME — While very alike by even players’ admission, time and space operate on perpendicular axes. A space player will enforce their will via movement, positioning; their adventure is one of travel. A time player may be challenged in the form of patience, like Dave’s entry test; loops stitched cleverly across existence, enforcing limited means over non-limited time rather than the other way around. Each understands things about the fabric of reality that the other does not. Both of these aspects are similar in their purvey over spacetime, the base makeup of universes and reality.
(The above is pending a rewrite.)
- Space is symbolized by Frogs, small and large alike, which make up the fabric of universes. The aspect is embodied by Genesis Frogs, the ultimate results of the process of Creation which hold entire universes within them from start to end; it is epitomized by First Guardians and the Green Sun, an artificial system granting beings with a certain genetic makeup nigh-insurmountable and flexible control/knowledge over Space. The aspect often announces its presence with Stars and Galaxies, and is also heavily represented by the color Green, and Creation in general by the color White. There’s an association between Space and Art, painted, crafted, or written, acts of lasting creation.
- Time is symbolized by Clockwork Mechanisms, like clocks, gears, music boxes, and End of Act curtains, representing how time ticks by toward the end of all things. The aspect is embodied by Lord English, who has assumed control of the place and meaning of Time and The End. The aspect often announced its presence with oft-disastrous Countdown Timers, and is also heavily represented by the color Red, and Destruction in general by the color Black. There’s an association between Time and Music, the art form most tied to progression, like Dave’s beats and Aradia’s melody boxes, the Beat Mesa and the Cardinal Movement. And wielding the baton, Lord English is Time’s cruel conductor.
- The Maid of Time is an active Creation class. As a wellspring of Time, after she went God-Tier, she used her general Time abilities to freeze Jack and buy time for herself and others! Because she wasn’t realizing her true role during their session, despite her help with the frog breeding process, her friends didn’t have enough time to locate the final frog needed to stabilize Bilious Slick’s genes. Keep in mind that roles are about one’s overall effect on reality; the literal powers used to accomplish this may vary, just like her psychic powers to move and manipulate objects spatially (see her inversion below). “ARADIA: then after you leave i should be able to buy you a little more time — ARADIA: when jack comes ill slow him down for a while - ARADIA: it wont be for very long but its the best i can do!”
- Jade Harley likely exhibited this duality by existing inverted into a Seer of Time before her dreamdeath. (See the link for more.)
- Aradia Megido likely exhibited this duality by inverting into a Bard of Space after her death, before her God-Tier resurrection. Her destructive power to psychically move, slam, and slice was amplified after her death, as well as her urge to destroy and enjoy destruction, causing it whenever invited to do so, very much unlike her God-Tier self. She invited (tricked) Sollux into starting the game that would destroy her race, was prototyped alongside a frog, and proved intentionally destructive and nigh-inept at time travel, constantly dooming entire timelines and herself without the slightest effort to prevent bad events from occurring via stable time loop… a method of time travel which anyone suicidal enough could have accomplished with those time boxes, requiring no inborn skill or finesse. Finally, by micromanaging her session’s frog breeding, Aradia accomplished the ultimate act of inviting destruction through Space: the creation of a cancerous Tumor in their new universe.
— HEART and MIND — (No aspect-pair post yet)
- HEART and MIND — Heart represents the soul, desire, love, and pure force of will. Mind represents one’s reaction to the choices and decisions presented to oneself, the façades one presents to the environment, and how one approaches and interprets one’s options in general, in which paths one enforces their will. What you would inwardly do in a vacuum or unhindered, versus what you would externally do when confronted with obstacles and choices. These are not only classically opposed, in a sense, but also demonstratively opposed in the comic: If you recall, by dooming a Dave to be killed near his quest bed as a demonstration, Terezi enforced a gambit of Mind at the expense of Heart, shaking Dave’s trust in her and wounding their relationship. Terezi even suffered a teary crisis of Heart afterward! Both of these aspects are similar in their purvey over the whole of an individual, and the influence on reality an individual has! Heart is like hardware, raw potential, inclination, and inner integrity, whereas Mind is like software querying it for results.
(The above is pending a rewrite.)
- Heart is symbolized by Hats, hoods, and other headgear, each symbolizing the wearer’s individual uniqueness. Nepeta caused these to be traded around while roleplaying each other, as a Rogue of Heart, and Terezi pulls her dragon hood over her head when she starts questioning her confidence in herself and her Mind role. The aspect is also symbolized by a Kiss, which functions as a means to connect with and reawaken the soul.
- Mind is symbolized by a Two-Faced Coin, representing the calculated face one portrays to one’s environment and the Choices between Good and Bad, paths which lead toward or away from one’s eventual destruction or that of others. The aspect may be involved wherever you see mentions of the mind, brain, thoughts, lies, justice, karma, right and wrong, good and bad, and especially choice and decisions. Mind also carries connotations of Balance like scales, as it comes into play when one’s environment confronts one with a choice that is too even for one’s Heart to automatically decide, even if in reality one option weighs somewhat heavier than the other.
— BREATH and BLOOD — (Full post: Breath, Blood, and the Flow of Reality)
- BREATH and BLOOD — Breath represents direction, inspiration, detachment, knowing and having certainty in one’s path. John, the Heir of Breath, has never been at a loss as to what to do next. (And Tavros, the Page of Breath, has had directions drawn on him like a page blown in the wind!) Breath leads one to establish objectives and leads one to those objectives, accelerating players where they would go with flight and shortcuts, like John’s drill to the center of the battlefield. Blood represents blood bonds, loyalty, friendship, worldly ties, and shared purpose. Karkat’s primary accomplishments and concerns have been of friendship and alliance since the beginning of his Hivebent arc, allying with Jack to overthrow the Queen and uniting all the players to topple the King. Unity is Blood’s primary concern, with direction second – they find other reasons to bind and unite than the direction itself – whereas a Breath player finds or drives the direction of themselves or another first, with unity a possible consequence thereof. Karkat has been painted as an opposite to John from the beginning… he admits he never once flew, and even his god-tier form was seemingly without wings! Both of these aspects are similar in their purvey over overall bearing: the shared course of individuals, as in the direction of that course and the extent to which that course is shared. (
Read this post for a more in-depth justification!Read the Breath and Blood post for a much more thorough one!) EDIT: As brought up by mmarycontrary here, Breath and Blood have a joint role in a living body, as well. Breath comes and goes, repeatedly but always necessary, and imbues Blood with oxygen to circulate constantly and nourish. Losing either for too long means death. Direction without Unity is folly, and Unity starved too long of Direction falls apart. (Addendum 2012.10.18: Breath also seems to represent Freedom and Escape to a degree, while Blood may present “Responsibility” as its alternative.)
(The above is pending a rewrite. Reading the full post on Breath and Blood instead is recommended.)
- Breath is symbolized by Flight, which carries people and objects where they need to go and offers them freedom, Mail, which is delivered between individuals over distances, wherever they reside, and Prestidigitation, pranks and tricks that subvert onlookers’ stubborn adherence to reality and entail escape artistry. Mail as a symbol shows that Breath needs Blood: without addressed mailboxes tied to the ground and their red flags, the insubstantial Breath detached from reality would have no frame of reference to tie its source and goal together.
- Blood is symbolized by Rings, representing the ultimate commitment between individuals in the form of matrimony, the ultimate responsibility of rule over Prospit or Derse, and the ability to project bloody and destructive Red Miles from which no one can escape. It’s also represented by Handshakes representing pacts, Hugs representing bonds, or Shackles representing forcible ties to the ground, as well as many appearances of blood itself, of course, and Deals and dealing with people, responsibilities. Finally, Blood itself is represented by Flags quite prominently, especially red ones, under which people may rise up and unite for the sake of a cause. This last symbol shows that Blood needs Breath: flags need wind to fly, and won’t unite anyone if they’re tied down without a purpose to unite behind.
— HOPE and RAGE — (No aspect-pair post yet)
- HOPE and RAGE — Hope represents belief as a whole, the unknown and that which one wishes to exist. It also may represent the encouragement derived thereof, that derived from the unlimited possibility sourced in belief. Rage may actually represent cruel, frustrating resignation, at reality or the appearance thereof. (Or, more clearly: Hope is one’s belief in the breadth of the possibilities open to them for pursuit, for delivery into reality, while Rage is how one’s perception of them is narrowed considerably through anger and fear.) When Gamzee was inviting the destruction of Rage, he not only encouraged others to quell their despair or anger – people joked back then that he could make anyone chill out – but also invited people to discard their resignation and believe in miracles! And when inviting destruction through Rage, for example, he took cruel amusement (Mirth, in his land) in the hemospectrum resignation and bow failure of Equius as he fell, or convinced the likes of Terezi that Vriska was intentionally murdering others, and thus killing her was the “only way”! (Shrinking the possibilities reachable through her mind to those of destruction, at the final moment.) Both of these aspects are similar in their purvey over the perception of possibility and choices, and the inspiration or resignation derived from one’s interpretation thereof, which itself can extend or contract what one can achieve. (Explained/justified both from the previous post link and this one.) (Addendum 2012.10.18: The Rage aspect uses anger and fear to narrow the possibilities available to one’s perception, and strengthen one’s course and power along said paths.)
(The above is pending a rewrite.)
- (Symbols tbd)
(Revision 2012.12.27 - Started rewrites (2/6 pairs), reformatted and added images.)
(Revision 2013.01.20 - In the process of adding everything’s symbols and inversion examples ahead of the rewrites.)
(Revision 2013.01.21 - Adding the individual class examples from the comic for each aspect, in short paragraphs! This is going to take some time.)
(Revision 2013.02.16 - Added a bit more to some sections and some of the missing symbols, section revisions still pending.)
(Revision 2013.04.05 - Added a tiny bit of long overdue information on “attention” and its relationship with Light and Void.)
(Images thanks to gaaraofsuburbia!)
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