WTCB September: Lake Placid Phillip

Nobody is entirely pacifist. Even the most trained of religious cannot help intruding anger; even those people who bear calm exteriors have emotions snapping at their heels.

But still we hope for a way to avoid war-like tussles. I myself have seen too many people hurt verbally to let my mouth run riot. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for all my characters. *cough* Agnetha *cough*.

Phillip, on the other hand, is calm. Of the various metaphors Aidelle uses, two stand out in my mind from recent editing: the warm sunset and the placid lake, waves of love flowing over its smooth surface. When Phillip is with Aidelle, he is at his finest as a pacifist. Sure, he argues with her, but – annoyingly, according to Aidelle – he never raises his voice to contest her.*

But, as his granddaughter will find out in the third book, Phillip was not always like that. The Continental Almanac records that, in his childhood, he was actually quite a violent person, but that his painting might well have saved his soul. My words, not The Almanac’s*.

“It was wrong. This fancy Costello artifice surely had no place in actual living. Phillip had never understood the arranged marriage system as it was, but now more inconsistencies of the upper-class bled from the perfect wallpaper. As he galloped up the many stairs, forever becoming a certain doom, Phillip scowled at his surroundings, from over-polished rails to the portraits staring at him from every corner. The next year he would let riches tumble from his fingers, for they had given him nothing before. Only one result stood from the wreckage of his upbringing.

Phillip was becoming a pacifist.”

(Lysander Yakinos, short story WIP, prequel to When the Clock Broke)

In this case, Phillip is the epitome of natural pacifism, not trained, monistic pacifism. He is like me – exposed to anger and (verbal) violence at an early age, so looking for a better outcome in the world, through non-violent acts (though, this may or may not extend to his motives. I’m not entirely sure what his innermost thoughts are at times).

One might argue that his pacifism is a theme of the novel, the sole creator of trouble: because Phillip firstly refuses to go to war, he is blackmailed by his brother, cannot afford to lose his money to support Aidelle, and so leaves her for the war, and enrages her, which leads to the breaking of time…etc.

A Beta reader actually said to me that she likes the role-reversal here. I never intended for Aidelle and Phillip to be the opposite of the stereotypes of their gender – men have more testosterone and women are dainty.

Testosterone is nothing to do with Phillip’s will. Mind over body and all that. Aidelle is quick to anger just because she is, as are a lot of my female leads. Call it force of habit, I guess. Phillip, on the other hand, has acquired a skill she has yet to learn: controlling one’s anger. He’s no softy. He can go to a five-year war and not come back with obvious PSTD, unlike his skittish brother.

But war is harsh. Phillip avoided it for a reason: his own good. And, as I said at the beginning of this post, nobody is entirely pacifist. Adopting a scientific eye, perhaps Phillip is filled with the regular amount, or more, of male testosterone*, but he has been suppressing it since he found out how cruel that part of his prenatal personality can make him. Worn down by war, he reverts to his frustrated self at home, being the proverbial vinegar-bicarb-volcano exploding.

Yes, Phillip shouts, he yells, he storms out of a dinner meal after treating his family horribly. He stresses, and, for two scenes, he is angrier than I have ever seen him since.

I’m not trying to prove a point here. Yes, pacifism is a state of inaction, rather than a complete state of mind, but I say this because Phillip defines himself by his pacifism, but he is wrong; nobody can be entirely pacifist, and he is more than simply a man who refuses to fight. Maybe Aidelle is right – by being calm, he is causing more pain to everyone else in the long-run.

Who knows?


Too, despite his now-gentle nature, Phillip bears prejudiced thoughts. He is not the most symbolic of this type of person in the novel – that is Dr. Costello, his father, whose strength is, in fact, weak-mindedness that he believes tradition and his son’s singular words than having the eye to observe change fairly* – but he is ready to lift up an invisible barrier of prejudice when he is anxious.

As his author, I’m incredibly proud: most of this has been his emotional growth, rather than my character development. I’ve talked a couple of times about how I decided to make him indifferent/unshowing of his adoration around Aidelle, but the prejudice and the anger came of my character’s own accord.

I love being a writer.

In a non-related tangent, ‘Lake Placid Blue’ is the colour of a Strat I desperately want. Look how pretty he is!

*The thought occurs to me here: of Dumbledore and Harry.

*One could argue that The Almanac’s words are my words, but, for this post, I’m referring to it as an outside guide to a real world, not a fictional accompaniment to a fictional trilogy.

*Because it’s a fiction that women have no testosterone; the majority of us just have substantially less.

*A little like Carson from Downton Abbey, perhaps?

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