i am a murderer

“Fin was lost. She pulled the trigger.”

i’m rereading A.S. Peterson’s The Fiddler’s Gun, and it’s hurting me. The first time, i read it aloud with my husband. This time, i am sinking into it alone. But the things that hurt most about this book are not the things i expected.

i know already the losses and lostness in this story. i know who dies, who wishes they did, who should have but didn’t. i know Fin’s loneliness and i know where it comes from. i know her sin. i know the sins against her. i know who’s to blame.

What hurts me about this story is the idea that someone i respect and trust created a person, utterly dependent upon himself, and then he hurt her. He spent ten years hurting her.

This hurts me because i also have created a girl, one who is utterly dependent upon me, and i am hurting her. i’m not done hurting her.

When Fin pulls the trigger, my chest opens up, and one thought pounds in my heart: i am a murderer.

i am a murderer.

i too am a murderer.

i hurt for Fin as she loses herself, but i do not identify with her. i identify with her maker. We are responsible for these lives we’ve made, and we have dealt falsely with them. We are unjust.

Whatever sin is in them, we put there. They act on it—neither of them are innocent. They make their own choices—a mystery i can never hope to explain, one that wonders me as often as it grieves me. They act on their impulses in their own volitional ways. But we are responsible.

It is glory for us to create, to make beings in our image as our Creator has made us. But our image is marred by sin that we cannot wash away. We, like they, need a redeemer.

i know that Fin’s maker means to redeem her. i know my own heart toward my girl; i long to redeem her. Redemption requires death. i know this. We never hurt these people because we don’t love them. We hurt them because there’s no way to make them beautiful, glorious, righteous, without bringing them to the end of themselves. i know Fin’s maker wept over her. i have wept over Rixi as well. Am i justified by my tears? When we are finished, will she understand?

For Rixi’s sake as well as my own, i need for Fin to be redeemed. i know where the story will take her and how her hurts and losses and sins will be addressed. But it is excruciating to get her there.

Rixi, no power in Nirth or in all of creation—nothing but your own will—will prevent me from turning all your pain to beautiful. Please let me redeem you.

Thank G-d i am but a subcreator.

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Nirthian ontology

This is an excerpt from Nirth’s seminal work on ontology, by the philosopher Hissalion.


“It is folly to say we have not known that which cannot be named. We have known it, and even without naming it we have interacted with it and with many such things. Yet it is also folly to say that we do know it, for how can we know that of which we cannot speak to one another? So we both know and do not know that which is unnamable. All things, however, are unnamable until they are named. Is it not the very duty of language to form the unknown into syllables so that understanding may lighten our ignorance? Is it not the duty of elves to build language so that we can know one another, so that we can know our own thoughts? For even our thoughts are dark to us until we can speak them aloud and give them form. In this way we are like the Ainur, who think and then speak and then see what has sprung up, which then has form and life (although not all manner of life are the same; a tree has one form, an elf another; a stone can also be said to have life, but not life in the manner of trees or elves. Likewise, ideas and feelings have life, but a different manner of life than anything visible). We who are made by the Ainur do not have the power to create; what we speak does not rise up out of the earth as an elf does when an Ainu speaks it to life. Yet we also give life to our thoughts when we speak them aloud for our fellows to see, even if they see only with their minds. Yet seeing with the mind what another sees in his or her mind indicates that the thing seen has form and substance, if the speaker and hearer see alike. In this way, language is creation.

“Yet it remains that the life of all things visible and invisible is not knowable until we name it. It is folly to call a stone alive, yet how can we refer to its likeness to a tree or an elf or a feeling such as wind or hunger or loyalty? How can hunger be alive? We can say that it is like an animal prowling, and we know an animal to be alive, but this picture of hunger as an animal is only a picture. How then do we differentiate between a picture that represents and a picture that only suggests?

“Our language is insufficient to this task of delineating between life and life and life, between types of life, between pictures that represent and pictures that suggest. Our language, which is the creative function of elves, must grow up to include such thoughts.

“i speak now a thought: Návë.

Návë is what is meant by the life of an elf, the life of a tree, the life of a stone, the life of a feeling, the life of a picture whether representative or suggestive. It is folly to say that these types of life are all alike; so rather than say they are all life we say that they all have their own návë. When we speak an idea, we acknowledge its návë. We do not give it návë; once an idea springs to our minds, that springing up is proof already of its návë. Návë is what is in all things; it is not life, although things both living and nonliving have návë. Návë is the quality of a person or animal or thought or feeling that tells us that it is separate from us. We each also have návë. And although it seems folly, impossible things, insofar as they can be conceived by elves, have návë as well.”


The word návë is the Sindarin gerund of na, which means “is” or “to be.” In gerund form, it means “being.”

The word Ainu(r) means “holy one(s);” in modern times (that is, since the beginning of the epoch called the age of Nirth, when the sea peoples became vassals of the elves) it has been replaced with the word Abina(i), which carries the same meaning in a root language from which descended both the elven language represented here by Sindarin and that tongue which the sea peoples brought with them into Nirth.