HOOBOY. 001907 introduces us to two concepts, captchaloguing and sylladexes. Two funny words that would be the basis of a lot of the humor and antics of the early comic, and then fade out into obscurity and uselessness as the comic went on. Did sylladexes come up even once in act 6? I really doubt it. They were a modus that the comic very much left behind as it evolved.
MSPA always used video game elements as part of its world elements and part of the interaction between reader and writer. Every MSPA before Homestuck was in the style of a videogame that the reader was playing. Homestuck breaks that mold by being about a videogame that the characters are playing. But also sort of still the reader? Especially this early in the comic, the relationship between reader and player is unclear.
The sylladex forces not just the reader to act through the game mechanic of the sylladex, but the character as well. It at least starts out being a real, tangible function of the universe that John inhabits. In the beginning John can’t just pick up with and interact with items and objects in his world normally, but has to do so through the sylladex. This only emphasizes the impression that the player is essentially helping John along in his quest, ‘playing’ him as a character– a mode that the comic will later grow out of. Sort of.
The sylladex interaction is actually the second ‘paradox’ that the comic introduces us to. This being that John can not meaningfully interact with his environment without the aid of the sylladex– and yet as we will soon find out he is still unfamiliar with how to use his sylladex. It’s something just as new to him as it is to us. And indeed, in later flashbacks to when John is younger, I am pretty sure we see him interacting with objects meaningfully without the sylladex, which he also does later in the comic’s timeline as well.
The first paradox the comic introduces us to is back on 001901, and that is that “Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!”. We named John Egbert, yet as with the sylladex interaction, later in the comic, we see that earlier in his personal timeline he was still referred to as John. Clearly he has always been John, and yet, in some meaningful way, he was only named on April 13th, 2009.
Speaking of paradoxes, I wanted to revisit 001906 while it’s still on my mind. I realized that most panels of the comic refer to ‘you’ and the character as the same being. In other words, “Your name is JOHN.”, “Your ARMS are in your MAGIC CHEST, pooplord!”. YOU the actor are also John.
And yet 001906 separates the two of you for perhaps the only time in the comic. “Out of sympathy for John’s perceived lack of arms, you pick up the CAKE for him and put it on his BED.” In this panel, you and John are separate beings. Or are you? Perhaps it is John moving his own cake after all, and we are merely at this point in the narrative too caught up in gaming abstractions to observe it properly?