Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Strictures of Riddlery

It is sad really that the art of making and answering riddles has been so diminished since the advent of modern history, or at least since collapse of the time-honored respectability granted to Bards, storytellers, and others who partake in oral traditions. 

"The riddle-game was sacred and of immense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it." - J.R.R. Tolkien

These days it is only those who works within the realms of Fantasy who wholly and truly appreciate the power and potency of riddles, a far cry from when Kings and Heroes placed great weight upon them.
Then again, why not? For in the Fantasy genre lives the misty mystery of the ancient past, and so we glory in the enigmatic and such puzzles as twists minds into first comprehending and then solving Gordian Knots.
As such, I have taken it upon myself to compile a list of all the best riddle quotes in the Strictures of Riddlery, and while I borrow the term from Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle-Master trilogy, I draw the quotes from several sources both within and without Fantasy literature (for true and masterful usage of riddles is rare even within the genre).

"Good riddles do, in general, provide us with satisfactory metaphors; for metaphors imply riddles, and therefore a good riddle can furnish a good metaphor." - Aristotle

"The best answers solve more than one riddle." - Magic: the Gathering

"A riddle is a tale so familiar you no longer recognize it." - Patricia A. McKillip

"A riddle is nothing more than a trap for small minds, baited with the promise of understanding." - Magic: the Gathering

"All is a riddle, and the key to a riddle...is another riddle." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Beware the unanswered riddle." - Patricia A. McKillip

"Eyes see only what is possible. A trained mind can explore the impossible." - Magic: the Gathering

"A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer." - Karl Kraus

"The worthy shall cultivate a nimble mind to perceive the glorious wonders that await them." - Magic: the Gathering

"When caught between the riddle and its answer there is no freedom." - Patricia A. McKillip

"Beware another riddle master." - Patricia A. McKillip

It is this last one, however, that is the most important. A fact I learned from painful experience. Talking of which, being a Fantasy reader (& hopeful author) and a riddle-maker with over 200 self-made riddles to my name, I have of course crafted many of my own such sayings. However, I am withholding them for special, later, uses: namely the Fantasy books and plotlines bounces about in my head. Whoever said that writers have total control over their worlds and characters clearly did not speak from experience for, as Victor Frankenstein can testify – albeit in a more physical and dramatic fashion – instilling life in something has consequences. Anyway, for I digress, here is the to critical quote:

"The Riddle Master himself lost the key to his own riddles one day, and he found it again at the bottom of his heart." - Patricia A. McKillip

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