August in the Vanishing City (novel)

So in that scene he runs out of the club because he thinks he sees her, but she is not supposed to be there–she is supposed to be where he imagines (remembers) her to be. Then there’s a break, and the flashback begins “She has occupied a place in his heart for as long as he can remember. Petros’ love for the girl Joanna is woven into his earliest memories.”

Elias, meanwhile, tries to tell Petros that a relationship between him and Joanna will never work, because Joanna is a prisoner of memory.

Then this:

And then when Joanna cries saying she can’t remember father’s face and she has “not even a photograph” of him, this is (part) of what drive Petros to return to Varosha to retrieve a photograph (a memory) in the hopes that retrieving it will change the way Joanna thinks of him (change their relationship). At the end of the story, when he tells her he lost it, the implied question is whether or not this will matter (for their relationship).

You also have Elias and his uncle who have (possibly ill-gotten) wealth from things that happened in the past, Joanna with her own issues about past, Yiorgos Zenios who has old maps to the city, and the Turkish soldiers, who come into conflict because they are looting (raiding the past). And they also have their own internal conflicts about the past (the past actions of Emre’s brother preventing him from advancing in the army). Finally there’s the priest, who is trying to figure out what happened with Elias in the past and whether/how Elias can rectify his past sins.

Yes, this.

Well now I think Mike and I are really just illustrating the storyform :slight_smile:

I can say that it’s been inspiring for me to revisit this book and watch you two delve into it with so much enthusiasm and insight! So thanks again @Greg for digging it up and asking to read it.


I know many of the characters are present in that scene, but isn’t that more of an MC moment? [quote=“mlucas, post:121, topic:2324”]
The plot is about a man who goes into a city that’s stuck in the past, in order to recover things from the past,
And again, isn’t recovering things from the past more within the MC story? Raising the flag would, I’d think, be the OS part of his mission.

It seems to me that remembering Joanna doesn’t actually draw him closer to her, nor does her lack of remembering him push him away. What changes the relationship is him kissing her hand while eating ice cream, or showing up to her house to stop her from opening the letters, or going off to collect a picture from a forbidden area spur of the moment.

I think the photograph is just great storytelling. Structurally I don’t think it would be any different if she had said ‘I’ve never eaten Turkish Delight. I sure would like to try some.’ And then he rides off spur of the moment to snag some from a soldier in the occupied area. She still would have run out calling for him.

1 Like

Really? That sounds like an entirely different story. The whole emotional resonance of that scene comes from his recognition of how important those memories are to her and that she can no longer access them.

But is her desire for a photograph what changes the dynamic? Or is it Petros riding off to go get it? I’d say the latter was showing the relationship. The difference between riding off to get a photo or riding off to get desert is the difference between Collateral and Finding Nemo.

I think you guys are BOTH right!

Technically, what’s happening in the relationship is that Petros is trying to take care of her, to move from the crush/friend’s brother relationship towards the type of adult, man-woman romantic love where people take care of each other. So Greg is right in that he could have been doing something else to take care of her (although I think the photograph is a nice multi-appreciation thing, with visualization conflict in the IC throughline, and the past in OS).

However, I think this is still Memories related because, by taking care of her, Petros is challenging the memories they both have of their relationship – the way they were growing up, when he was so much younger and overlooked.

Now, I think Lakis is also right because by making it a photograph (clear thematic ties to Memories and The Past and Conceptualizing), he’s using an object that has thematic/emotional resonance to the whole story, the structural Concerns of all the throughlines including the RS. It’s sort of like the way they refer to the story structure in certain comedies like Lego Batman or The Princess Bride to make the jokes even funnier. But here the author is using it to give the story more emotional resonance.

So it’s maybe not a direct part of the structure of the RS, but it’s referring to that structure, if that makes sense.


Hey @Greg, I just happened upon the old Beauty and the Beast analysis thread and was wondering if the discussion at the end ever made you satisfied or able to see how Belle as MC could have a Concern of The Future.

Here is the link where your questions on that began, pretty much the rest of the thread deals with your “Concern concern” :slight_smile: :

The reason I ask this here is that it feels a bit like a similar difficulty in seeing The Past as the OS Concern in AitVC. Like, because of the things that are happening or how things are going in the story’s current timeline, it’s difficult for you to see other more distant times (past or future) as a source of conflict.

1 Like

I think that was one where I was still figuring out this source of conflict/conflict separation I talk about. I think I was also figuring out that singing can be an expression of inner turmoil and that inner turmoil counts as conflict. I’d say I probably wasn’t seeing Future as creating conflict because of that.

In August, I don’t see past as leading to conflict because everything’s still going on. Either the Arabs showing a progression, or just the Arabs being present in the restaurant seem enough to set the boys off. I realize that part of that is the invasion in the past, but if the boys had been served, would the Past invasion still have led to them wrecking the place? The invasion in the past seems like a justification for being mad now.

I know I’ve pointed toward Progress a lot, but now I’m leaning back toward Present because it pops up just all over the place. Walking through Varosha isn’t a problem for Petros until the Turks are a present threat. The scene in the restarting happens because no one is serving them now. It’s like Miguel in Coco. His problem isn’t that his ancestor screwed music up for him in the past, but that his family hates music now.

Anyway, did you guys ever decide on a problem?

1 Like

The quad that seemed strongest for the overall story was Desire/Ability/Inequity/Equity.

My own initial reaction was that the Problem was Inequity – the Cypriots are living in an unjust situation.

But I think the real problem is Desire – they want to go home, but they can’t.

So for the OS:

Focus: Inequity – everyone is focused on this injustice they’ve suffered
Direction: Equity – we have to find a way to restore some kind of balance/justice
Problem of Desire: everyone wants something (mostly to go home)
Solution of Ability: they don’t have the ability to go home

If you accept, as I have argued, that Petros is a change character, then for the MC throughline you have:

Focus: Thought – he deliberates the logical and emotional aspects of getting Joanna until …
Direction: Knowledge – he goes to Varosha to learn for recover the actual truth of what happened there
Problem: Desire – he is driven by his desire to get Joanna, to get home, etc. (problem of Desire seems very strong for him)
Solution: Ability – when the boat sinks, he realizes he doens’t have the ability to bring back the past

For the IC:

Focus: Inequity – Elias: “Joanna isn’t right for you because you are not the same.” Joanna is focused on the injustice of losing her father.
Direction: Equity – Elias: “We fight back, two-for-one.” Joanna: tries to serve justice to Elias by sleeping with Petros.
Problem: Self-Aware – Elias is always pushing people to think about themselves e.g. when he Even after he becomes a monk, Petros says “just another overdramatic gesture.” Joanna is completely focused on the sadness of her own situaiton (“Everything (s)he experiences or observes is couched in terms of [her] own point of view.”)

For the RS we have Desire and Ability as Problem and Solution again: I don’t have illustrations in mind but I think we could find plenty, same with Focus/Direction as Self Aware/Aware.


I haven’t had time to read the whole story, but the last scene when she clutches his hand, so exquisitely, that seems to be chuck full of new focus, direction and awareness. It was sheer poetry to read those sentences. It would have been cool to read them in the original language, if not written in English, first.

Thanks @Prish!

It was actually written in English :slight_smile:

What’s cool about this is that @Lakis and I both independently arrived at the same OS quad. In fact, we had independently arrived at the same 2 storyforms*, with me preferring the Steadfast one initially, and he preferring the Change one.

* caveat: I don’t think either of us had looked at Driver at that point.

1 Like

I’m no longer arguing for or against a storyform, just asking questions.

What’s the problem with wanting to go home?

The solution is something to be adapted in an attempt to solve the problem, right? How do they adapt the inability to go home in an attempt to solve the problem?

How is it problematic to want Joanna? To get home?

Again, this doesn’t seem like adapting a new method of dealing with a problem. Does he give up his desire to go home or be with Joanna in exchange for realizing he can’t bring back the journal?

1 Like

I agree with you that Present is better than Progress; I was wondering if Present might turn out to be the Benchmark (and Requirements) but I think in our current form the Requirements are The Future. (however, Action as Driver would change that to The Present)

That said, conflict stemming from The Present is more about “survival”. Think of torture, how the very present moment is full of pain. When you’re being tortured, you might ransom your future or your family’s future, just to get ten seconds without pain. Or think of the harsh conditions of prisoners, slaves, etc. just trying to get through each day, that kind of thing.

This is definitely the kind of thing Petros (and his two rescuers) face in the fourth Act, which matches up with the Signpost 4 of The Present. But I don’t think it’s the same thing as people sitting around saying “we can’t tolerate this crap” in the restaurant. Yes, being thirsty and not being served sucks, but they weren’t really under unbearable pain.

But that IS the past as leading to conflict. Take the word still out of that sentence, and it doesn’t describe the book anymore. You need that word, still, because the book is about something from the past causing conflict in the now.

1 Like

Well, if they didn’t want to go home (if they didn’t have this unfulfilled desire) they wouldn’t have a problem.

I guess what I mean is, the only solution to this problem would be to have the ability to go home. The inability to do so is kind of what guarantees the that the story will be a failure. (I think I need to look at some more gists for “ability”).

If he wanted her and could have her, no problem. If he didn’t want her, no problem. He wants but can’t have her – thus his desire causes personal conflict.

Intuitively I feel like there’s something here but I can’t figure out how to illustrate/explain it better.

This appears to be the case whether or not you have an action or decision driver.

1 Like

I don’t think unbearable pain is really the key, here. Turning again to Miguel in Coco, he is presently not allowed to play guitar, presently without a guitar, presently in the land of the dead. It’s not about pain, it’s just about leading to conflict.

Do you feel like Petros would have thrown that chair if the waiter had brought him a glass of water?

I’m not saying there was a past event that everyone was upset about and they are all still being upset. I’m saying there was a past source of conflict (an invasion) that’s still going on, still happening (once the Greeks are gone and the Turks settle, the term changes to occupation, but that’s just an ongoing invasion that has been present for two decades). When you say the Greeks have a problem of the Past, what you are saying is that having been invaded creates conflict, but that there is no conflict generated by the fact that the Turks are currently keeping them out of their homes. Does that describe the story?

A desire to go home isn’t inherently problematic, though, so what conflict is generated by the desire to go home?

How is this solution adapted?

Are you saying the desire for Joanna leaves him with internal turmoil?

I think I don’t understand your question. If someone want to go home, and they are physically prevented from going home, how is that not a problem? Unless you’re getting at something else.

It’s not adopted, and can’t be adopted.


If a past event is still causing problems, how is that not a concern of the past?

The Dramatica definition of the Present:

Present does not refer to the way things are going, but to the way things are. It is a here and now judgment of the arrangement of a situation and the circumstances surrounding it. A story that focuses on the Present is not concerned with how events led to the current situation nor where the current situation will lead.

I don’t see how you could say that this story “is not concerned with how events led to the current situation”

Definition of Progress:

Progress concerns itself with change–what direction and how fast? It is not so important where things were, are, or will be, but rather how the struggle between inertia and change seesaws over the course of the story.

Again, I don’t think this describes the story.

By contrast, the Past:

The past is not unchanging. Often we learn new things which change our understanding of what past events truly meant and create new appreciations of how things really fit together. A story that focuses on the Past may be much more than a documentation of what happened. Frequently it is a re-evaluation of the meaning of what has occurred that can lead to changing one’s understanding of what is happening in the present or will eventually happen in the future.

Isn’t the whole question of who the dead soldier was and why he tried tor cross, who Joanna’s mother and father were, what happened with Petros’ father’s land “a re-evaluation of the meaning of what has occurred”? Isn’t the whole journey to Varosha a journey to the past – an attempt to understand “what past events truly meant and create new appreciations of how things really fit together”?

1 Like

To have a Concern of The Past does not mean that there isn’t anything wrong with the present. It just means that the bad situation that currently exists is rooted in something in the past.

Think of Harry Potter – JK Rowling isn’t saying that Harry doesn’t face conflict because of his current lack of parents; he faces that conflict over and over. But his current lack of (loving) parents is rooted in the fact they were killed, and that he grew up fostered by people who don’t love him. Similarly:

  1. “The Turks keeping them out of their homes” situation would not exist if it hadn’t been for the past invasion.
  2. I actually don’t think, in this story, that “the Turks keeping them out of their homes now” is presented as the main conflict. In this story, the conflict is presented more as “we have been without our homes for the past 20 years”. That seems to be the author’s intent, and I think @Lakis would agree. (This is similar to Harry Potter as MC because the deeper you go into his personal story and issues, the more it delves into his past: who his parents were, how much they loved him, etc…)

Okay I am going to stop there because I just read @Lakis’s last post and he’s knocked it out the park! :boom:

Just want to answer this one direct question though:

Actually, it would depend on how the waiter handled it. If the waiter treated Petros and the others the way Greek soldiers have traditionally been treated in the past – like heroes, or at least with respect – then no, Petros would not have thrown the chair. However, if the waiter brought him water and he quenched his present thirst, but the waiter still broke tradition and treated Arabs better than Greek heroes, then yes, Petros would still have thrown the chair.

1 Like

As an observer, still having not read the story, yet, I think this conversation is rather interesting, especially since it involves the Dynamic Pair of The Past and The Present. Without a doubt, these two will look extremely similar, due to the very fact that they are a dynamic pair. Such is especially true should one focus on only a single Throughline.

Thus, the question, then, that should be asked is this: If the source of conflict is The Present (problems sourced by what is happening, rather than problems seen as happening) in the OS, then what proof exists for conflict sourced from Learning, Conceiving, and The Conscious? However, this still might lead to the same review of Dynamic Pairs

Also, don’t forget that these are also examinations of the following processes:

  • Present-ing vs Past-ing
  • Learning vs Understanding
  • Conceiving vs Conceptualizing
  • Conscious-ing vs Memory-ing

From the sounds of the descriptions of the reasons that bad things happen, I hear Past-ing (ruminations of previous lives, historical territory-izing, etc…) as this source. This, as opposed to Present-ing (marking or ignoring the status quo, bleating on bad times that just exist, etc…) as source of conflicts. Having not read the story, the descriptions thus far point to the former, The Past as the source (subtext), and the latter, The Present as execution (skinning).

To be honest, I wonder how common such an arrangement of subtext and skinning with dynamic pairs might be…

1 Like