August in the Vanishing City (novel)

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.

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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…

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That’s a lot to reply to. I’ll just leave it at this.
IF the conflict is “we can’t go home” then yes, that could be rooted in some form of “we were pushed out of our homes when we were attacked.” And that sounds like an acceptable description of the domain. But the plot, to me, looks a lot more like “the waiter is ignoring us, let’s wreck the place” and “the kid is dead and the uncle has given his stuff to Petros to do with as he pleases, Petros is going to go on a dangerous mission to raise the flag above his house” and “I will make you say that Cyprus is Turkish through causing you pain” and “I can’t kill this Greek because I’m not supposed to be in this area”. If wrecking the place, going on a dangerous mission, pain, and not knowing what to do with the Greek soldier are all the conflict, then those all seem rooted in the Turks presently occupying the land. I’m probably wrong, and that’s fine.

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It may be that your idea of Concern being at the “plot” level is making it hard to see what we’re saying. If you look at this:

Every single one of those sentences is a perfect example of Inequity -> Equity (Focus/Direction). All of them are apparent at face value, except the last one for Emre (where you have to look a bit further into his seeing unfairness in how he’s been overlooked for promotion due to his brother’s politics).

To me those examples, whether you call them plot or not, exist at the scene/character level. Behind them is a powerful Desire drive and, further zoomed out (maybe the level of a 1-page summary of the whole novel), is where you find the drive of The Past.

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For what it’s worth, here’s the current book description (which needs to be rewritten!). It’s not supposed to be a summary – more marketing copy. But even in it’s current form I think it supports Concern of the Past.

Varosha, Famagusta: The City of the Vanished.

Varosha, a beachfront suburb of the ancient city of Famagusta, was once an international playground for millionaire tycoons and movie stars. But after the Turkish army invaded and took over half of the island of Cyprus, Varosha was abandoned, wrapped up in cyclone fencing and barbed wire, put off limits to any visitor.

More than two decades later, Petros, a young Greek Cypriot soldier, is struggling to find his way when tragedy strikes as another Greek soldier is killed on the Green Line separating Cyprus from the Turkish-occupied North. Lashing out, Petros decides to return to Varosha to recover a keepsake that will help him win the heart of his childhood love Joanna—and to prove to himself that there are still principles worth fighting for.

But in order to win Joanna, Petros will have to outmaneuver his rakish cousin Elias. And in order to return to Varosha he will have to evade the Turkish military, one of the most ruthless armies in the world.

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I see what you’re saying. But 3/4 of the story/plot is Petros traveling through an occupied territory to raise a flag and he’s falling into minefields and getting chased and shot at and captured and taken to be killed and running and escaping and hiding.

To look at your HP example, yes Harry’s problem is rooted in the past. Having a past of surviving Vs attack is the root source of the fame that makes him uncomfortable, of Draco wanting to befriend him and then being an enemy, of Deatheaters wanting to kill him. But if he had the same past but were being told that ‘parentless children aren’t allowed in Hogwarts’ and he keeps sneaking into Hogwarts and getting reverse accio’d out of there so that he couldn’t learn magic, would that still be a problem of the Past?


By your own description, this seems to be the conflict itself…
Why is he working to raise the flag? What drives this?

Here are the two answers I’ve seen in the posts thus far:

  1. It is an attempt to reclaim that which was lost, to “revert” what once happened. (The Past)
  2. It is meant to establish that “we are here” and you cannot change that, ever. (The Present)

If the first story driver is the death of the man on the Green Line (Action)… Then, only #1 can resolve that.

Talking purely theoretically is a really interesting experience…
(Also, the more I read about the story, the more I want to read the story.)


Falling into minefields and being chased is the conflict, yes. Being in occupied territory is the source of that. What drives him to plant the flag is all the Turks occupying the land.

I don’t follow you on the rest. How does planting a flag undo or revert the past? They were still attacked. The Turks are still there. All planting a flag does is say ‘Greeks are still here and, despite Turks occupying it, Cyprus is still Greek.’

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Yes, this – this describes how I see it. This is the whole point, actually – the shadow of 1974 hangs over everything.

Stepping out of novel-land and into the real situation, this

is actually more of how the Turkish side expresses itself. I think this is in the book-- there’s a giant Turkish flag painted on the side of a mountain range facing the Greek side as if to say “we don’t really care what happened in '74, we’re here now, and we’re here to stay”. In fact, the whole justification for keeping 35,000 Turkish troops on the island is the “belief” that if they leave the Greek Cypriots will exterminate the Turkish Cypriots (which sounds like either the Present or the Future). If you read any of the histories of this, the Greek side is always furiously complaining that Turkey invaded the island, partitioned it, and then treated their presence there as a “fait accompli.”

I’m not sure how that plays out in the storyform though – is there a way to illustrate a conflict between a Concern of the Present and a Concern of the Past? Since they are dynamic pairs, is there anything to the idea that a Goal of the Past (an attempt to revert) is Opposed by an Antagonist who takes the position of “maintaining the Present”?

It’s interesting to get your take! Hope reading our conversation hasn’t spoiled too much for you :slight_smile:

The key word is “still”. This is a “never forget!” goal. In other words, we can’t beat you on the battlefield and retake our land (that is historically ours) but we can still make sure you and the world never forgets what happened. (Oh no! Please don’t tell me the goal is Memories!).

I hear you. But to me at the OS this is all still The Past because it’s like an archaeologist exploring a dangerous ancient city. And this particular archaeologist has a penchant for doing crazy things that get him into trouble (MC throughline).

My recollection of that 3/4 of the story is that it’s much more about delving into the past than getting shot at etc. Experiencing Joanna’s old house and old life; finding his own family’s past home; understanding how his grandfather’s land was split up by digging through old records; reading through journals of an old rebel hero. Plus other flashbacks and reminiscing the narrator does (including Emre from his POV). I would guess that well over 50% of those 3/4 of the story are focused on The Past as a motivation, a drive. He gets shot at, captured etc. because of that drive.

Yes, in fact this stuff is practically already in the story! He was prevented from entering Hogwarts by the Dursleys (whom he’s with because of his parentless past). The fact that Hagrid finally rescued him from them, doesn’t make the source of conflict any different than if Harry had responded by sneaking away from the Dursleys and trying to get into Hogwarts himself. (I do agree that in your alternate version of the story, Rowling would still need to illustrate the importance of Harry’s past in some way – the Mirror of Erised or some alternative.)

Simple. When was the last time a Greek flag flew in Varosha? 1974. Planting a flag takes the city back to the way it was.

Now, I agree such an act may not have resolved anything in this particular story – I think that’s part of the message, that such dangerous gestures of defiance are not going to accomplish anything. (Failure) In the end, Petros and Elias and Stelios give up on the past to get themselves back, and this brings some measure of peace to the characters. (Judgment Good)


In Coco, Miguel’s family has a bad past with musicians. Miguel is looking for an ancestor. He’s cursed to go to the land of the dead (where all the people that lived in the past are). He has to get approval to return from family members that already died in the past before he can return. Why isn’t his throughline in Past?

In HP, the Dursley’s claim that they won’t let Harry into Hogwarts because they don’t like magic (present) but in reality, it’s because they didn’t like who Lily and James were (Past).

The way everyone has described it, including yourself, this doesn’t sound like a source as much as an established result. Thus, the source would have to come from something deeper.

I didn’t say that it “reverts the past”. I said it ‘“reverts” the past’. The quotes are there for a reason. I honestly don’t believe I can describe this accurately. To “revert” the past doesn’t necessarily require time travel, nor even removal of a state. It requires a re-development in meaning of what has already happened. Remember that a source of The Past is the same as a source from Knowledge of the Universe. You could also view it as the “Understanding” of a static, external thing.

From the sounds of it, planting the flag would bring new meaning, and new knowledge, to the historical events that have occurred. The occupation would no longer be viewed as externally imposed, but instead seen as the historical result of having done nothing. An inspiration and/or reminder of sorts. A visualization of what can be done. Every way I try to describe this, it comes out as knowledge-based, and that’s kind of my point.

Fate vs Destiny?


Sounds like a source here… For Miguel, it wouldn’t matter at all whether he was stuck in the Land of the Dead, or some desert somewhere with Barney & Friends. (Yes, I somehow made that reference.) It would be the same exact argument, only dressed extremely differently.

Through this set of posts, it sounds like if the history had happened in AitVC in any other way, then the argument itself could not be made as is. Something else in the story would have to give, too. Definitely not the case for Miguel; almost certainly the case here.

Speaking to that, if it is a Failure, what is the Consequence?
What memories have they kept, let go, or forgotten, either already or of which they must?
Or, in the case of the Present, what considerations and musings exist already or must come about?

I’d like to try a different approach to this. Ignoring the Dramatica terms completely, I pose this question:

Does this story carry weight, is it heavy and deep, with a lot of meaning buried within?
Or does it approach a more philosophical bent, considerate and thoughtful, musing?

I’d venture to say that whether it comes through or not, and by pure description, I believe it does, it was the Author’s Intent that it be deep, heavy, and almost a burden to shoulder. Correct me if I’m wrong @Lakis.

The other thing you could try is coming up with a narrative argument:

  • Peace of mind awaits those who _________, even if it means ________.
  • Keep ______ and you can _______.
  • Vindication awaits those who _________, even if it means ________.
  • Start/Stop (choose one) ________, and you can ________.

There are other shapes, though from the posts, I suspect that the story fits one of these best. Notice that I am completely leaving out the Dramatica terms where possible, intentionally. Choose one and fill it out, then go from there. What’s the argument of the story?

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Well, as long as you don’t care about spoilers :slight_smile: at the end of the book Petros and co. escape from Varosha a different way, by swimming with a rubber raft along the coast. The raft takes water, and they are forced to abandon it – along with the photograph of Joanna’s father, the missing surveyors maps, and the diary of the freedom fighter that Petros found. In other words, he is forced to literally let go of those memories.

Yes, that was my intent. Everyone in the story suffers from this weight, or to use another metaphor, wounds that can’t heal.

So in our first private thread @mlucas came up with this:

Peace of mind awaits those who stop desiring to reclaim their home, even if means failing to bring back the past.

Which I think is pretty close. Though I’d like to find a way to word it – it’s not exactly that they stop desiring to go home entirely – it’s just that they make their peace with it (sort of).

Being shot at is a result of being in the wrong place now. How is either being shot at or being in the wrong place now a result of having been attacked in the past?

How so? Wouldn’t it simply make the statement that we presently think of/consider this place to be Greek? How does it change anything else?

Exactly. It doesn’t matter how many times you can point at something and say ‘past’. It matters where conflict is coming from. Being in occupied territory creates conflict of being shot at. The fact that the photo is of the past creates the conflict of what? If the house were not in an occupied zone and Petros could go there without beimg shot at, he would instead face the conflict of what?

If the Turks had always occupied this space, or only started yesterday, Petros would presumably still get shot at for being there, still throw his chair, etc.

So for a change of pace, here’s where I’d look.
Steadfast, Stop, Do-Er, Male, Decision, Optionlock, Success-believe it or not, Good, Universe, Present, Repulsion, Production. Feel free to ask why on any specifics.

If there had been no invasion, there would be no dead zone or abandoned city to visit.

Out of curiosity, what would look like a Concern of the Past to you in this context? i.e. assuming you’re right, how would you change a story like this to make the source of conflict come from the Past?

  • Steadfast – I understand why though I disagree - we can skip for now
  • Stop, Do-Er, Male (yes)
  • Decision (I’m not sure either way about this)
  • Optionlock (yes)
  • Success – I would be interested to hear why. I wasn’t sure at first because I burned myself on the Cars analysis, but I think it’s Failure.
  • Repulsion - I think I understand why here (they are pushed back from crossing the line). But Interdiction feels much closer to me, especially when you look at the gists, which seem to be more about being revolted by something, things being repulsive or distasteful. Feel free to explain though.
  • Production – you’d have to explain this one.

Tell me why it is not a result of History in this story.

Like I said, I don’t think I can explain this. It’s a feel that I get with stories rooted in the past. The answer to this question of “How so?” is the actual reason that we should be learning history correctly. In the U.S., the idea of the history is to memorize Dates, Times, and Events, while ignoring their actual causes. This is not the Past; this is not history. Without cause and effect and an evaluation of the whole, there can be no meaning. The Past is not purely statements about what did happen. This question feels rooted in this mistake of education.

To try to answer that better: To plant the flag, with all of the subtext and all of the meaning and information that has been provided me by this thread alone, is more than a statement that they are there and that it is Greek. It is a statement of what that means which, in the scope of this book, appears to be rooted in the history they wish they could escape; the events they wish had never happened.

Planting the flag, does not sound, from this thread, like it only means “We are here; we are Greek.” It sounds like it means more. It sounds like it means “Our long history of oppression is now over.” It sounds like “This time period is no longer.” It sounds like it means something regarding all that has happened, now and before.

It allows for it. I have yet to seen an argument from you that it creates it. There is a difference.

Both point to Universe, but nothing below it.

Now, I have three questions for you, @Greg:

  1. You never answered my question on “weighty” vs “museful”. Which was it to you?
  2. What must conflict sourced from the Past look like, in general?
  3. What must conflict sourced from the Present look like, in general?

To play Devil’s Advocate (by joining Greg’s side), I have questions for @mlucas and @Lakis as well:

  1. If we were to ignore the history of the occupation, and see it as it is now, what changes in the book? (Some specifics, please.)
  2. What awareness could you say would have come to light or have been lost by the end?
  3. The first possible driver has been heavily discussed. What is the final driver?

Finally, to explore the final possibility…

  1. @Lakis, was this story mean to reach a conclusion, or be open-ended? (I have a secret reason for this.)

All that said, I’m gonna see if I can make some time to read it tonight and tomorrow.

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I will get to this, but not right now. Skipping to easier ones that I have time for.

I’ll stick with Mikes explanation that a decision to cross the line drives the story. Bit I’d say a decision to cover up the event and not punish Petros ends the story.

Hey, I burn myself almost every time. But if they are going to plant a flag, I see it as sending a message. ‘We’re still here. Cyprus is still Greek. You must still put up with us.’ Petros fails to raise the flag, but he sends the message all the same. He kills (possibly) two soldiers and has the Turkish army coming to deal with him, almost starts a second invasion. Message received loud and clear.

Less about being repulsed at something and more about being pushed out of their homes and pushing back against the Turks. Trying to keep it short at the moment but I can come back. I’m the thematic argument, I’m thinking repulsion ends up worse than attraction.

Almost causing a second invasion is making a production. Making the statement is about producing the idea that they can return home. Petros produces that he can’t return home without getting punished. The solution is Reduction, for the Greeks to say they didn’t send a soldier into Varosha, that it was just a soldier on leave and it was just a mixup. If production is making a mountain out of a molehill, then the solution here is to make a molehill out of a mountain to avoid an international incident.


Because if this house were in another area and he could get there without presently invading occupied territory, there would be no conflict.

I don’t see that. Raising the flag would not end the occupation of that land, would not allow the Greeks to return home.

Beimg in the wrong place allows for, is the root of, causes Petros to be shot at. I’ve said it many times. If the house were in another area, he wouldn’t be getting shot at. Have you told me how the photograph he’s going after being in the past creates any conflict? Explain the difference. How does the photo being of the past create-or whatever word you want to use-getting shot at?

Both point to the inaccuracy of your statement that the Past MUST have played out only the way it does for this conflict to happen.

Can you explain the significance of 1? As I said earlier, I’m short on time at the moment, but will come back to 2 and 3