Poisoned Rationality - References
by MRS Jeevas

"Yes." She nodded towards the computer. "Apparently an international gang of infamous hackers are having some kind of contest and playing havoc with our city in the process. This happened in America once as well. Very irresponsible. Think about the hospitals."

"Right." Hope made Mello want to kiss her. "Hackers?"
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 3: Chaos

A bit of cross-fertilisation of fiction here. The events that the lady is referring to happened in the film 'Hackers'. Mello's answer then is quite correct. *grins* Except there they only really hack an office block, a block of flats and a screen in Times Square, New York. Matt's gang hack an entire city.

Incidentally, the main characters in 'Hackers' are Crash Override and Acid Burn. The final scene sees a hacked grid light up with Crash and Burn. This is the origin of CrashnBurn, Matt's friend in the EHC.


If he could just master using the Force, like a Jedi Master, he could have lifted the brandy and brought that across too.
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 5: Subjugation

In the 'Star Wars' films, Jedi Masters utilise the Force to telekinetically move objects through the air. Sheer will alone should have seen the brandy mysteriously rising and floating into Matt's hand, if he was really a Jedi.


"Hey! The stage is set. I get to be the fucking Fisher King, so all we need now are the maidens to appear bearing the Hallows. Oh my God! Here it is!" Matt picked up a glass of water from behind him and held it in the air. "The Holy Grail! Hold on, it's speaking to me."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 7: The Wasteland

The Fisher King legend is cross-cultural, but I know it best from the Welsh Triads. The more globally popular version are the French Romances written by Chrietien de Troyes. As Matt is Spanish, raised in England, I thought it more in character for him to quote de Troyes over the Welsh sources.

The Fisher King suffers from a wound in his side. Pedwyr (aka Percival) is with him in his caer (castle/great hall), when a vision appears. It is the procession of the Grail Maidens, each holding one of the sacred hallows. One of the hallows is the Holy Grail. Amongst its many other properties, the Holy Grail can heal wounds and so, as the vision fades, Pedwyr is sent on a quest to obtain the Grail to heal the Fisher King. Fortunately, Mello knows his mythology, so he asks the first of the Grail questions, when Matt offers his version of the Holy Grail.


"But maybe, if you send up a bat signal, and it's important enough..."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 8: Kira

A bat signal is how the citizens of Gotham City summon help from Batman and Robin.


"Unless this is our big swan song and you're going to keep on driving over the cliff, like Thelma and Louise or something."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 10: I Dare You

In the film, 'Thelma and Louise', freedom is achieved by the protagonists driving over a cliff.


Matt smiled and nodded. "'Well, in fact, look at it this way, I mean, technically, our marriage is saved. This calls for a toast, so pour the champagne.'" He snuggled in closer.
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 12: An Exchanging of Words

Matt is quoting from Panic! At The Disco's 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies'.


"Spain's warmer and it hasn't had a civil war in the last twenty years."
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 12: An Exchanging of Words

The Spanish Civil War was fought from 1936-1939. The Croatian War of Independence was 1991-1995.


"If it hadn't been that, then it could have been the sanctions starving us out. The Serbs or NATO bombing us. Gas." He leaned forward. "Up to 500,000 people displaced, over 100,000 people killed. That was what I was pulled out of. The Domovinski Rat. The man who got me out it is dead. The man who inspired me, to work past it, is dead. My country is splintered into eight and still fracturing."

...

"Oh poor, poor Mello. The Balkans imploded over a war that even the Slavs didn't understand and he got caught in the middle."
Mello and Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 12: An Exchanging of Words

They are referring to the series of wars and political actions which ended Yugoslavia. The countries that it splintered into are: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Kosovo; Republic of Macedonia; Montenegro; Serbia; and Slovenia. I was including Albania when I wrote 'eight', because I was wrong and I made Mello look wrong. -.- Please pretend that Mello said 'seven'. Apologies to any Albanians reading for thinking you were part of Yugoslavia.

Domovinski Rat translates as Homeland War. Mello is specifically talking about the victims in Croatia. The number of casualties and displaced people rises significantly if the whole of the Yugoslav wars are accounted for.


Paramilitary Basque separatists in their streets and hiding in their hills. Some believed that they were still there, pointing at the evidence of guns glimpsed in supermarkets and graffiti appearing on the walls: 'Sasoi ilunak datoz... borrokak aurrera darrai!' The axe and the snake beside it.
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 14: Chiquitito

The graffiti and the axe and snake logo refer to Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna (ETA). The slogan, in Basque, is copied from a graffiti in a photograph taken in Ibarra, Northern Spain, which can be found on the BBC News site. The caption of the image says that it says 'dark times are coming'.


Matt, above him, was like an Adonis, all flaming hair and incredible beauty.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 18: A Rush of Blood to the Head

Known primarily through Greek mythology, Adonis (aka Adonais) was originally a Semitic deity. He has many roles, but a major one is that of an annual nature god. He is born, lives and dies each year with the foliage, then is reborn again. In the Greek mythical cycle, Adonis is so beautiful that at least two goddesses fell desperately in love with him. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, and Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, share him. Whilst he is with Persephone, he is in Hades, therefore the foliage dies in the depths of winter. When he is with Aphrodite, Adonis is in the world, therefore everything may grow, in summer.

Adonis was finally killed by a wild boar, sent either by Artemis, as revenge for Aphrodite killing Hippolytus, or by Ares, another of Aphrodite's lovers. He now lives with Persephone all of the time.

Adonis/Adonais is basically a by-word for the best-looking, young man ever.


Big Bird speaking to him. Big Bird holding up a red apple.
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 19: Red

Big Bird is one of the main characters from the children's programme, 'Barrio Sesamo' (aka 'Sesame Street). Young Matt would have been watching in Spanish, where technically Big Bird is called Caponata. I didn't know that at the time of writing, hence I used the English version of the name.


And the drugs, added a Judas voice in his head.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 19: Ocuvaj Nas

In Christian mythology, Judas Iscariot was the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ.


"Remember your Aristotle? 'There is no great genius without a mixture of madness'?"
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 23: The Abyss

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, who studied under Plato. The original quotation is 'nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit'.

The quotation is misattributed to Aristotle, via the Stoic philosopher Seneca. What Aristotle actually said was, 'Why is it that all men who have become above average either in philosophy, politics, poetry, or the arts seem to be melancholy, and sorne of such an extent that they are even seized by the diseases [arising] from black bile...?' (Problemata). It is Seneca's summary of that which has been attributed to Aristotle. In fact, it's not been proved that Aristotle even wrote the 'Problemata'. It was probably one of his students.

In short, Matt should not have got that quotation past any Wammy's House alumni, let alone Mello. His use was two-fold, the first to gently make a point to Mello and, secondly, to test if Mello's mind would function academically. Ordinarily, he would have expected Mello to have corrected his attribution.


The loss of his games still weighed heavily upon his mind but it was necessary. He understood that now. If he hid behind Mario, then how could Mello learn enough to save them?
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 23: The Abyss

Super Mario is a central character in a series of eponymous games by Nintendo.


"Ok, I am reading a suspected PICNIC, no confirmed presense of Mariomatt. I'm going into HOI. God bless you, Mario."
CrashnBurn, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 23: The Abyss

The acronyms stand for: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer and Hands On Imperative. Matt (aka Mariomatt) was trying to tell CrashnBurn that he was personally in danger, but, as CrashnBurn couldn't verify the alert nor even confirm that it was Matt shouting it, he followed the previously arranged procedure. This was to enter Matt's hard-drive and to shred all of the programmes and files within.

The Hands On Imperative doesn't usually mean to destroy anything. It generally involves hacking into a system in order to improve it or to place its information into the public sphere. The reason that CrashnBurn earlier called this Matt's 'personal' Hands on Imperative was because the directive given to him was to hack into it in order to destroy.


"I read Nietzsche, after you went on about him so much in our little German conversation. I took out the book that you had shown me and thought it a very peculiar thing for a Catholic to seem so passionate about. I found your message a couple of days ago. The bit you had underlined with my name beside it. I didn't see you do that. 'Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.'" She took in the broken furniture littering the hallway and listened to Roger's voice somewhere within. "It happened, didn't it? I'm sorry I didn't read it in time to help you."
Lauren, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 23: The Abyss

The book which Mello told Lauren about is 'Beyond Good and Evil' by Fredrich Nietzsche. It is a strange text for a Catholic, because it attacks religion, stating that Christianity has turned people into slaves. It's also removed all that's natural, joyful, independently minded and assertive out of the human spirit turning Christians into 'sublime abortions' and, by implication, sacrificing God himself. In other words, 'God is dead'.

Nietzsche stated that he, himself, had altered his own perspective of life to move 'beyond good and evil'. He believed in the principle that all human beings have a 'will to power', that is to survive and to procreate. All actions stem from this central survival instinct. 'Beyond Good and Evil' is where he most fully expands upon this theory.

The quotation that Mello underlined is from part four: Maxims and Interludes. The context castigates female scholars. It starts by saying that academic women have something wrong with their sexuality, then moves on to say that woman only have 'the genius for finery' because they have an instinct for the secondary role. Then comes the section that Mello underlined, followed by a statement that all women, good and bad, 'want the stick'.

Nietzsche's apparent misogyny has been interpreted in many ways. Some state that he was simply a misogynist and his barbs against women should be read as such; others argue that he was being deliberately provocative in order to challenge the illusion of feminine stupidity rife in his own culture. Others point to the question in the preface that asks, 'what if Truth was a woman?', and thus state that all mention of 'women' should be considered metaphors for truth.

Mello, as a Catholic, gave a book to a female scholar. The book stated that 'God is dead' and included statements that are widely interpreted as misogynistic, especially to female scholars. Lauren interpreted it as 'Mello's perception of the world is at odds with the world as it should be'. She might have also done a bit more research and discovered that Nietzsche was possibly a homosexual man. This could well have been the cause of his conflict with the ideas of religion. Furthermore, Nietzsche had a nervous collapse and became officially insane in 1889. In short, it was a cry for help from Mello.


Matt's hands rose in melodramatic expression, his tone in accordance, "That sings to your very soul. Oh! Heathcliff! Cathy!"
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 27: Trashed

Matt is referencing the 1939 film version of 'Wuthering Heights' rather than the book itself.


It was the first time that Mello had paused in his tearing about the place like a Tasmanian devil to lean over and kiss him.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 28: A Kind of Penance

The reference is to The Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, by LoonyTunes, rather than the real life species of marsupial living in Australia. The cartoon characters tends to rush around like a tornado.


The Goddess Ishtar, bewitching the sacred courtesans, could not have projected sex and desire quite like Mello did removing his leather vest and belt.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 29: In the Presense of Deity

Ishtar is a Babylonian and Assyrian Goddess of Love, Sex and Fertility (and War). Her holy city, Erech, was known as 'the town of the sacred courtesans' and part of the worship of her included sacred prostitution. One of her most famous myths is her descent into the Underworld, where she had to pass through several gates, removing one item of clothing at each, until she was naked. The Dance of the Seven Veils recalls this legend.


"Keep it up, Mell. I'm just taking notes for when I call the Samaritans."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 31: A Wire Slowly Stretching

The Samaritans is a crisis helpline based in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.
The Samaritans website


At the risk of sounding like Shakespeare, what's in a name?
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 32: Bat Signal

Matt is referring to William Shakespeare's play, 'Romeo and Juliet'. Juliet says:

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face. O, be some other name
Belonging to a man.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.


"Well, I'm not going to get it in Marks and Spencers, am I?"
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 32: Bat Signal

Marks and Spencers is a High Street chain store. The majority of its stores are in Britain and the Republic of Ireland, though there are another 130 in other countries too. The clothes sold there would be far too conservative for either Mello or Matt to consider wearing.


"There's Punkyfish!" He pointed. "You can't see Cyberdog from out here, because it's in the market. You'll prefer some of the Goth shops."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 33: Cyberpunks

Punkyfish and Cyberdog are both shops in Camden.


"Possibly." Mello took in the bong shops and the tattoo parlour. "So this is basically England's answer to Haight- Ashbury?"
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 33: Cyberpunks

Haight-Ashbury is a street in San Francisco, California, USA. It was made famous during the hippy era of the late 1960s, primarily as a place where artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Doors might be found hanging out.


"But it's mostly for girls. I'll show you Dark Side."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 33: Cyberpunks

Dark Side is another shop in Camden, London.


"I got you this." Matt handed over a Fredo. "They don't do Bourneville Dark behind the bar, but it's emergency chocolate for dire occasions."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 33: Cyberpunks

Fredo is a chocolate frog, which is bought in individual wrappers for about 20p. Mello would consider it to be cheap chocolate and barely worth the effort. The less discerning of us are eating one as we type and it's ok, as chocolate goes.

In this series, Mello's favoured chocolate is Bourneville Dark. The wrapper is red and black and has a bullet-hole splodge on it. I figured that, as Mello's chocolate addiction was formed in Britain at a young age, he would have gone for the one which looked most badass.


"We're going into one anyway. Lay on, MacDuff."
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 33: Cyberpunks

Mello is quoting from William Shakespeare's 'MacBeth'.

I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'


"Regardless of whether we find the rugrat here or not, I'm glad we came."
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 34: Like a Wild Horse

A 'rugrat' is a derogatory term for a toddler. It is also the title of an American Nickelodeon cartoon, 'The Rugrats', which describes the world through the eyes of four babies.


"Why don't you pick up your deliveries and just run along like a good babbo?"
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 34: Like a Wild Horse

In Mafia terminology, apparently, a babbo is a 'useless underling'.


He picked up a pocket cyberpunk dictionary. "Does this mean I'm a netrunner or I've haxored you?"
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 35: Netrunner

In Cyberpunk terminology, a netrunner is a hacker. In Leet, to be haxored is to have been hacked.


Mello gazed down at his book and flicked the pages away from the warning of madness inherent in 'Wake the Serpent Not.' His gaze took in a random stanza, "'The serpent is shut out from Paradise. The wounded deer must seek the herb no more, in which its heart-cure lies...'" Mello blinked. Why did it all feel so significant? Like the poet could reach across nearly two centuries to be chronicling their lives. He glanced down the page. "'I too must seldom seek again Near, happy friends, a mitigated pain...'" It took him a blinkered moment to realise that Near only bore a capital letter, because it was the start of a sentence.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

The poem, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which Mello is reading has been known by a couple of titles. Shelley originally entitled them, 'To ---'. It was fairly obvious by the accompanying letter that they were addressed to Jane Williams. His wife, Mary Shelley, published them entitled, 'Stanzas', while William Rosetti published them thirty years later as, 'To Edward Williams'. The latter is the most popular title for them, Edward being Jane's husband.

Shelley, as the serpent, was shut out from paradise because Mary asked him to stop visiting Jane Williams so much.


Shelley was wrong. Sometimes there was nothing for it but to wake the serpent.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

To Shelley, the serpent represented the passion inside. Intense feeling could hurt and cause consequences in the real world. His poem, 'Wake the Serpent Not', advocates self-protection by trying not to feel the emotion.

Mello was weighing up the pros and cons of confronting Matt about the problems in their relationship versus a more laissez- faire policy. He decides that confrontation, despite the risk of hurt feelings, is the best policy.


It was a great sentiment, but it's a bit like trusting your own judgement over mine on picking your character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. You're going to end up with thinking I'm customising, because you've only glanced at Captain Falcon, then be halfway through losing with Link before you realise I'm laughing at you."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

'Super Smash Bros. Brawl' is a game for the Nintendo Wii. Captain Falcon has a red hood and a mask which, from a distance with a small enough picture, might be vaguely mistaken for Matt's red hair and goggles. Link is a blond haired elf.


"I'm a Catholic. The King James' Bible has got nothing to do with me."
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

The King James' Bible is a Protestant Bible.


He took herbal anti-depressants and some Bach Rescue Remedy out of his pocket and placed them on the table in front of Mello.
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

Rescue Remedy is a unique combination of five BachTM Original Flower Remedies all working on emotional imbalances associated with daily stressful situations
From the Bach Rescue Remedy website.


"I've got an ounce of weed in my room. I nip out into the backyard every so often to have a joint. The more stoned I am, the less you watch what I'm up to..."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

Matt is referring to dried cannabis, which is smoked in order to become 'stoned'.


Mello rose from his chair like a Fury and paced away a few steps.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

In Roman mythology, The Furies (aka Erinyes or Eumenides in Greek mythology) were entities who persued those who had broken their oaths or killed a family member. The context of Mello's rising recalls the speed and anger with which this persuing took place.


Matt was so lovely. So complicatedly uncomplicated that it was almost Zen.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 36: Waking the Serpent

Zen, or Chán, is a contemplative school of thought. It rejects received wisdom and rites in favour of experiencing realisation for oneself via meditation.


"Yeah, but I had to zero someone."
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 37: Epilogue

In Cyberpunk terminology, to zero someone is to kill them.


"And fuck the unknown soldier. Viva la Revolucion!"
Matt, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 38: TYVM for 1000 hits

Until the First World War, all soldiers tended to be unknown, excepting officers and generals. Then, memorials were placed throughout local towns and cities sought to list those who had died. However, some bodies could not be identified. They eventually became known by the collective term, 'the unknown soldier'. Wammy's House allows for L to be known by a pseudonym, but even that is denied to the other letters. In effect, all who died in the fight with Kira are 'the unknown soldier'.

'Viva la Revolucion' was the slogan shouted during the French Revolution.


The blatant political bias, aimed at shepherding the plebs into mob mentality, had annoyed him almost as much as the celebrity gossip. Who cared if Natalie from Eastenders had put on weight during the past eight months? She probably didn't need a newspaper catcalling her in the most insulting terms. Natalie should just fuck them and fuck the paper and fuck the internet and...
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 39: TYVM for 2000 hits

On the day that I wrote this story, this was an actual front-page story in a British tabloid. It was about Natalie Cassidy, who played Sonia in the British soap opera, 'Eastenders'.

The story was possibly this one: 'Nat Hides Her Growing Curves' from the Sun, on February 11th 2009. If it wasn't, it was a similiar story in a similiar tabloid.


He did find a clip of Ronaldo scoring a great goal though... After ten minutes of watching miscellaneous sporting legends, he found one entitled 'Croatian Hooligans'.... before getting side-tracked into 'Real Football Factories: Balkans'.
Mello, Poisoned Rationality, chapter 39: TYVM for 2000 hits

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is a Brazilian footballer, who played under the name Ronaldo. He is the highest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup.

The two YouTube videos that Mello was watching do exist outside my head. I misnamed the first, it's actually 'Hooligans Croatia'.