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Cutting it Close to the Deadline since 1996!
by lizzie_marie_23 (lizzie_marie_23)
at August 8th, 2011 (10:41 pm)

Title: Structure and Emotion in metonomia 's "All the Intrigue in My Mind"
Author: lizzie_marie_23 
Summary/Abstract/Thesis Statement: In this story, metonomia draws very clear lines between Ianto’s need for efficiency and his genuine affection for his team in order to reveal the source of his confusion
Recipient and links to original fic: metonomia All the Intrigue in My Mind
1350 words


Metonomia writes about a wide variety of fandoms, including Narnia, Supernatural, and Torchwood, but her stories shares some thematic similarities. Many of them explore the conflict between inward desires and exterior appearances. The speculative bible-fic “that makes me or undoes me quite” (Dec 2010) contrasts Yeshua’s sympathy with his people and the knowledge that he must die. To emphasize this conflict, Judas decides that his duty to his people is more important than his duty to his friend. The effect of one’s people on one’s actions is continued in “About the Frozen Time” (Feb 2011), where Jadis twists her subject’s expectations to solidify her power. However, the most effective example of struggling with emotions and actions is found in the Torchwood fic “All the Intrigue in my Mind”, the earliest one in the archive, written in July of 2010. In this story, metonomia draws very clear lines between Ianto’s need for efficiency and his genuine affection for his team in order to reveal the source of his confusion.

The very first sentence reveals Ianto’s driving goal, which is “being efficient” (1). Part of this efficiency is found in the structure of the paragraphs, which all end with a single sentence in parentheses. Because these sentences are so crucial to the meaning, it is necessary to look at what the story would be without them. The rest of the first paragraph offers examples of how he preserves order in his own and others’ lives. The absolutes used to describe his role characterize him even further. Except for one mention of “pride”, he displays no emotion at all, as if nothing matters more than his job and “what is required” (1). This opening section sets the tone for the kind of man he hopes to be, and the rest of the story looks at how well he succeeds at this.

Each of the paragraphs deals with a single continuous action and his response to it. Most of the time, these actions are stated simply and clearly, without too many qualifiers. However, as the narrative continues, his self-control slips up progressively.  The second paragraph refers to the events of Cyberwoman, the fourth episode of Season One. This betrayal of trust is referred to as “the one time” Ianto does anything like that, which implies that he has never done anything so untrustworthy before, nor does he plan to do anything like it again (2). His show of detachment is compromised when he admits that he “cares for” the team and “loves” Lisa (2). These are both moderate terms of endearment, especially compared to the “rift” that appears in his relationships after this episode (2). This word choice is important because it shows some desire to get back across to reconcile with everyone else.

Continuing with the distance from the other members, the third paragraph addresses Jack’s attitude towards Gwen, though it is framed by Ianto’s diminished status. He can clearly see how Jack cares for her, because he has experienced him “toying with Ianto for months,” a phrase that emphasizes Ianto’s emotional investment in the relationship (3). As far as Ianto can tell, whatever happened between them was more important to him than it was to Jack. The introduction of Gwen complicates Ianto’s treatment almost as much as his harboring of a dangerous enemy does. Now he is no longer an assistant who “does his job well”, but a “family dog” (1, 3) This shift is partially the way he is treated by those around him and partly how he feels he ought to be treated. He also over-emphasizes the extent to which he is taken for granted because he resents Gwen’s presence. But despite all this feeling under the surface, the paragraph is mostly about his role as part of the team and how it has changed.

Ianto regains some of his control with his determination to “watch Jack suffer” even though it is a lie (4). Though with the underlying idea of trust, this paragraph is organized in the more definite terms of what he “really does mean” (4). By separating his words and actions into what he believes and what he does not, Ianto is better equipped to deal with Jack’s treatment of him. At this point Ianto has reached equilibrium between emotion and his efficiency in expressing it, but it does not last into the next paragraph.

Although he attempts to return to his normal routine, the adjectives used indicate charged emotion. Instead of reaching his desired “composure” right away, he “scrabbles” for it (5). This is not a calm collected method, and suggests continual failure and backsliding. The context for this struggle – “the stream of Lisa’s blood” – is enough reason for his lack of control (5). After his total loss of control, the tone partially echoes the first paragraph when there was hardly any emotion. He no longer mentions the reason he must “pick up around the Hub” or that he is the main cause of “the mess” (5). This purposeful vagueness shows that he is internalizing everything he has done and what he feels about it. However it is clear that he is not entirely successful. When he notices that Jack is watching him, he “tries not to care” because he can no longer ignore it as entirely as he did in the beginning (5). The contrast between the scrabbling at the beginning and the “regular, organized pattern” at the end of the paragraph indicates a return to normal, at least on the surface (5). A bit more emotion slips through on each paragraph until it builds up to the final sentence, when his efficiency is placed side by side with his heart. At this point, the reader is forced to return to the beginning and notice all the references to Ianto’s heart.

All of this is readily apparent from watching the show itself, even though some of his feelings are not obvious to members of the team. However, it is now time to address the parenthetical asides. These sentiments are never meant to reach anyone else, perhaps not even his own conscious mind. In this way, they serve the same purpose of the “bag” in paragraph five. By sectioning off the genuine emotion, he can pretend it’s not there and “never have to feel again” (5). But by the end of the story, he can no longer file it away.

The content of the parentheses restates what has already been said in each of the paragraphs, but everything is twisted into a different order for the effect of more genuine feeling. His claim that he is “not afraid” of his duty becomes a confession that “he is terrified”, but even then he is able to create reasons not to share his fears with anyone else (1). Likewise, when he first mentions the distance from his team, it is something that “becomes” bigger, but he is forced to admit that “it’s always been there” (2). This example is particularly interesting, because even in his unconscious thought he is worried about the efficiency involved in interacting with “people you are using” (2).

Where at first it seems that he only resents Gwen’s presence and the attention Jack pays to her, he is actually more upset because “he deserves it” and cannot even succeed at his original motivation for betraying all of them (3). His clear lines between what he does and does not mean are torn down and redefined within the parentheses because there is precedent in the form of Lisa. The fact that he is still “finding” affection for Jack emphasizes that it is a gradual process that he may not be aware of (4). Acknowledgement of his feelings takes time, and he often tries to push those thoughts away from his conscious mind

In the end, Ianto reasserts his ability to maintain control over most aspects of his life, but he is thwarted in this attempt when it comes to his heart. This sense of failure is the last we see of his ordered routine, which leaves the reader wondering what happens to his heart from this point.





Posted by: animus_wyrmis (animus_wyrmis)
Posted at: August 10th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)

Oh man, I totally read this fic super fast and didn't think about it (SORRY METO), but I really like the way you've dug into it here! I especially like the way you explore the importance of the parentheticals by looking at what the fic would be like without them.

His clear lines between what he does and does not mean are torn down and redefined within the parentheses because there is precedent in the form of Lisa.

Posted by: lizzie_marie_23 (lizzie_marie_23)
Posted at: August 10th, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
Lemony Snicket

Thank you for your kind comment (and for coming up with this exchange). I was going to explore how all three of the fics I mentioned show development in the theme, but I couldn't get the parentheses out of my head so I decided to focus on those.

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