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Oliver


Let R = { x | x ∉ x }, then R ∈ R ⟺ R ∉ R... or is it?

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Jul
25th
2017

Hypothesis #3: The Principal of Canterlot High · 12:31pm Jul 25th, 2017

I presented this idea while taking apart Discordant Harmony, and I think it’s actually original, unlike the idea on Star Swirl’s origins, which was first publicly put forward by Dr. Wolf. Time to write this out in detail.

Before you read this, check out RTAC #6, because it is required reading for understanding this hypothesis.

The idea grows from noticing the following:

  • There is still no whiff of an origin story for Discord, nor any clear way he could have emerged.
  • Like a few other notable individuals, Discord has no mirror representation in Pedestria – the world behind the mirror.
  • At the same time, he is not entirely unknown over there, as this shot, located by DannyJ, cleanly demonstrates:


Twilight offers Fluttershy a Discord plushie

So how could this at all happen? Suspecting what we do about the Stump of Harmony, it becomes logical to assume that Discord of Pedestria is a myth, who managed to cancel himself out with the Tree, leaving behind only the stump. But why, in this case, is he identical to his Equestrian counterpart, when nobody else is?

And as I have written about before in great detail, we have little reason to think that Discord is a cosmic entity, anyway, just like we don’t have to assume the dualism between harmony and chaos on a cosmic level. Discord is definitely no more of a cosmic entity than an alicorn – more powerful than any given sole alicorn, granted, but still subject to their magic. So what is he, and where did he come from?

Let me tell you a tale. It is pure conjecture and not particularly supported by canon, which is why I label it a hypothesis. However, it explains a lot and makes a good story. The following assumptions are made:

  • The time gradient between Equestria and Pedestria is not stable and does not change linearly.(1)
  • The mirror between the worlds, wherever that came from, existed prior to ~1200 BNMR.(2)
  • The mirror continues opening and closing for the entire time it has existed, more or less following the pattern described in Equestria Girls.

The story

  1. Sometime around 2005 in Pedestrian time, there was the principal of Canterlot High. We don’t know what his name was, and while there are a few characters who could tell us, we can’t interrogate them. However, we know a few things about this individual – he was an aging educator, who still managed to retain the spark of his childhood, a highly erudite man, with tastes that ranged from eclectic to outright bizarre. A baby boomer, he got the tail end of the hippy movement, and it profoundly affected him for the rest of his life.

    First he became a teacher, then a principal. He saw his foremost duty as an educator to make sure the kids don’t grow up as total squares, and during his tenure, there was never a shortage of extracurricular activities, funny pranks, and chaos in the school. It had a reputation as a place children will avoid other activities to attend.

    His talented staff, including the recent hires Celestia and Luna, made sure that the academic record of the school doesn’t suffer too much for it, and he got away with this for far longer than anyone expected.

  2. In Equestria, at some point after Celestia and Luna were crowned as Equestria’s protectors, no later than ~1200 BNMR, something happened. We don’t exactly know what it was, but it could be a lot of things, starting with the first Crystal Faire, and ending with any other highly magical event of note. We just know that it happened to coincide with the opening of the mirror. At the moment the mirror opened, the anonymous Principal was standing right next to the statue, opening the new school year with a set of stand up comedy, and he received the full brunt of the blast of magic leaking out of the portal.
  3. We know that magic, once it transitions from Equestria to Pedestria, has the following peculiar properties:

    • It is transformative and corruptive. Pedestrians, even those who have previously been ponies, tend to transform into demonic forms and lose all reason, no matter how pure or righteous their motives are. The only balancing agent remains sharing the magic with friends, while embracing it and approaching it with any kind of impure motive increases the likelihood of monstrous transformation.(3)
    • The shape it takes is not dependent on the source of the magic, but is primarily driven by the character of the individual affected.(4)

    The principal, upon being affected, also started out fairly nice and mild, limiting himself to only a few magically enhanced jokes. He even finished his comedy routine without causing anything but mass laughter. But upon returning to his office, his transformation was almost immediate. Reflecting his eclectic, mercurial character, he became a chimeric creature, one of everything, and acquired his reality warping power, the chaos magic, the ability to erase the boundary between reality and illusion, at least for a time.

  4. The Principal, now already the being we know as Discord, could not resist the temptation of doing everything the school board told him he can’t do over the years, now that he had the ability to make it happen without soliciting anyone’s approval. So he did. All at once. In the next three days, he was everywhere, doing everything, overwhelming and terrifying the children.
  5. Celestia and Luna took charge in the chaos, and stood up to him, telling him that whatever happened to him, whatever he can do now, this is way too fucking much. With hurt feelings, if nothing else, the half-crazed Discord wished to flee, to escape from the place where nobody likes him anymore, and stumbled into the portal, ending up on the other side. At this moment, the portal closed, as the three days it remains open have elapsed. Since he was not in any way human anymore, the magic of the mirror did not transform him into a pony, and he retained his chimeric form.
  6. In Pedestria, the aftermath took months to sort out. Eventually, the official explanation was that the old hippie snuck his stash of LSD into the school ventilation system, producing a mass hallucination. Celestia and Luna were hailed as heroes, and shortly afterwards, stepped in as the principal and vice principal. There’s an arrest warrant out for Discord’s human name somewhere, but nobody ever found the old principal, and the story of the mysterious chimeric serpent has become a local urban legend, eventually commercialized and immortalized in plush toys.
  7. In Equestria, Discord was initially greeted with wariness, but not outright rejection – ponies are not xenophobic by nature, they’re just skittish and wary of the things that look like they might eat them. However, Discord’s statement that he is “the principal of Canterlot High” was seen as a claim of government authority. This quickly led to a conflict with said authority, and escalated into the rampage fully described in the relevant RTAC post – Discord went on a crusade against any and all government, running the Sisters ragged over the course of months, until they finally managed to find a way to shut him down in one shot.

Sweet, isn’t it? :)

Anticipated questions

Mostly provided by the discussion with Shrink Laureate.

So why is he so powerful?

Magical energy is a renewable environment resource, and “pony magic” and “chaos magic” constitute two different, mutually incompatible forms of this resource. While there are multitudes of the users of pony magic in Equestria, pretty much nothing can consume or use chaos magic, save for rare examples of chaos fauna, notably the mirrorca. Discord ended up the sole proprietor of an inexhaustible pool of magical energy, which is why he calls himself “Lord of Chaos,” and is, as a result, more powerful than any given singular alicorn, but is not, ultimately, a higher order being than they are.

Why has he shown no interest in Pedestria since his unstoning?

He has. Nothing much came out of it. While almost all references to human pop culture Discord employs end with 2004 – the most recent I’ve been able to track down is the Metal Gear Solid box he’s hiding in during Make New Friends But Keep Discord – in Discordant Harmony he makes a show of using smartphones. This is a very significant anachronism compared to his usual repertoire, which is primarily confined to the 80s and 90s, with a side in later console games.

He snuck through to watch Twilight – could even be asked to by the Sisters to make sure she has support if she requires it – and picked up a few more things to cite, new toys, fresh movies and new games, but ultimately, found a world he did not belong in anymore, where he had no friends and nobody to accept him.

At the same time, Fluttershy was waiting on the other side, the Mane 6 were starting to trust him more, and in general, the Ponyville ponies were mostly through gaping at him every time he came out to shop.

He came back while Twilight was out dancing with the rest of the Humane 6, and told nobody.

Why isn’t he resentful at being hated and feared for pretty much no reason?

He is! Well, he was, very much so. The Discord seen in The Return of Harmony isn’t his normal state – it’s what he is when he’s extremely, justifiably mad, and has lost all semblance of moral restraint.

Ultimately, Equestria has a mellowing effect on people, and Fluttershy doubly so, while Discord, even at his most insane, has never actually been truly evil.

Comments and criticism welcome. :)

(1) We already have to assume that if we agree to accept FIENDship is Magic #3 as canon, and The Fall of Sunset Shimmer is controversial by itself.
(2) Lacking any official year numbering, we can refer to years as “Before Nightmare Moon’s Return,” since that’s our best yardstick. I have my own ideas on the year numbering in Equestria, but that’s a subject for a separate post.
(3) See Sunset Shimmer, Juniper and Gloriosa Daisy.
(4) There is nothing about the Stump of Harmony that dictates the appearance and powers of Gaea Everfree, and nothing except their character to produce Sunset Shimmer’s demon or alicorn form or Midnight Sparkle.

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Comments ( 19 )

Perhaps the most altruistic interpretation of Discord I've ever seen. And honestly, not sure how to feel about that.

I tend to prefer villains who are more resolute in their morals, even if that just means they shift their accidental evils to purposeful evils after they get tired of people mis-identifying them as evil. In the case of trickster gods, that tends to be more flexible, since one can just assign the 'immortals have very different motives and understandings than humans' rhetoric, but as you seem to almost take glee in proving, Discord is no god, so that's out of the window.

I don't know. I just feel like this is trying to cast Discord as just as much a victim of his own chaos as everyone else was, and a lot of his actions make it really hard to sympathize with him. Enjoy him, understand him even, certainly, but he doesn't strike me as a character who was either designed for, or deserves, a sympathetic viewpoint.

4612215

I don’t know. I just feel like this is trying to cast Discord as just as much a victim of his own chaos as everyone else was, and a lot of his actions make it really hard to sympathize with him. Enjoy him, understand him even, certainly, but he doesn’t strike me as a character who was either designed for, or deserves, a sympathetic viewpoint.

Speaking of “designed for sympathetic viewpoint,” Discord is openly patterned on Star Trek’s Q, deliberately voiced by John de Lancie who played Q on Star Trek TNG, and said character is notable for being a morally ambivalent, incredibly powerful, but ultimately benevolent, insufferable jerk. Discord’s original authorial vision, in so far as it existed, was clearly not meant to make him completely unsympathetic, though it was meant to make him difficult to relate to – Q is the most alien creature the crew of Enterprise has ever met, or very nearly so. So is Discord to ponies.

We can see that over time, this authorial vision of Discord changed, and I believe it shifted towards more, rather than less sympathetic interpretation. The later seasons’ Discord is still a jerk, still just as morally ambivalent, but suffers visibly from his own mistakes more often than not.

I think they want you to forgive him, whether you do or do not, is entirely up to you. :)

4612228
Hey, all I'm saying is I personally like evil people to actually be evil, not misunderstood victims of circumstance who turned into God because of a frat house prank. I have no problem with people who enjoy sympathetic bad guys.

4612231

Hey, all I’m saying is I personally like evil people to actually be evil, not misunderstood victims of circumstance who turned into God because of a frat house prank. I have no problem with people who enjoy sympathetic bad guys.

Sombra’s your stallion, then. He is, according to secondary canon, tragically evil in the ow-the-edge fashion – after spending most of his youth trying to enjoy the pony life and failing due to being unable to by nature, in the end he embraced evil wholeheartedly, and endeavored to become the most monstrous monster there is, with not a thought of redemption or mercy or whatever.

Of course, if you buy that, you will also have to accept that Radiant Hope, that eventually redeems him, also exists, so meh.

Or, well Chrysalis. I think she’s as evil as they get, never makes any pretense she isn’t, never even thinks of changing sides, and is as relentless as they come. And as far as I can see, it’s not about to change anytime soon.

But in general, Equestria does not have a lot of true evil in it.

4612236

But in general, Equestria does not have a lot of true evil in it.

Which is why my stance on this so rarely comes up in conversations on this site.

On reflection, I'm being a bit unfair. Some of my favorite villains have a sympathetic perspective, but the difference there is that they still had agency. By contrast, this Principal Discord idea seems to take the classic path of 'none of it was my fault because I don't actually have any real control over my actions because I was driven insane by uncontrolled magical bursts', which is oddly common.

4612240

By contrast, this Principal Discord idea seems to take the classic path of ‘none of it was my fault because I don’t actually have any real control over my actions because I was driven insane by uncontrolled magical bursts’, which is oddly common.

What do you mean “none?” Everything was his fault, he’s a dirty hippie who rejected all authority for as long as he possibly could, the chaos magic is just icing on the cake. :)

4612244
Oh.

Well.

Huh.

Apparently I hate hippies, then. I was not aware of that.

All plausible. Not sure if I like this specific interpretation, though. I'm more inclined towards cosmic entity Discord, if my own fics don't already indicate enough.

...just like we don’t have to assume the dualism between harmony and chaos on a cosmic level.

Indeed, we shouldn't. Discord explicitly describes himself as "Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony" (emphasis mine) in "Return of Harmony." Distinguishing the two suggests that chaos and harmony need not oppose one another.

As for the hypothesis... I honestly do like this. It would explain how Princess Celestia would know just a little bit about the human world, yet Twilight's knowledge would exceed hers the moment Twilight passed through the portal. Plus, it comes pleasantly close to my personal model of human Discord while being wonderfully distinct from it. I won't say headcanon accepted, but I still greatly enjoy this concept.

Oh, and funnily enough, I posted an analysis on human magic experiences recently that lines up nicely with your own findings.

4612355

Indeed, we shouldn’t. Discord explicitly describes himself as “Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony” (emphasis mine) in “Return of Harmony.” Distinguishing the two suggests that chaos and harmony need not oppose one another.

Interesting, I just noticed that he only reuses “and disharmony” once in primary canon. In Dungeons and Discord.

It would explain how Princess Celestia would know just a little bit about the human world, yet Twilight’s knowledge would exceed hers the moment Twilight passed through the portal.

Beyond that, it also explains Celestia’s cryptic statements regarding ponies she “saw” being ruled in an eternal state of despair. She was trying to refer to what Discord spilled of the events in Pedestria without explaining what humans are, – he did act like he knows her all the time they fought, he obviously had an interesting (working) relationship with the human Celestia, there was some conflict there, and he had an opportunity to recognize he’s dealing with a double – and it comes out jumbled and not meaning what she wants it to. It explains why Discord has a bone to pick with Celestia and why he wants to, essentially, flunk Twilight in The Return of Harmony.

(Yes, I like it myself, or I wouldn’t write it up in such detail, would I. :) )

Oh, and funnily enough, I posted an analysis on human magic experiences recently that lines up nicely with your own findings.

It’s the only sensible interpretation of the mess we have. :)

Shoot. I responded to a lot of this on your other recent blog before I saw this new one. While I still disagree on the idea that Discord can't be a different fundamental type of being than an alicorn, as far as this theory goes this is a really well-fleshed out one.

Apparently we both independently added the idea that Discord was an aging hippy, as I figured a lot of Discord's early actions in Equestria were part of him believing he was on a hallucinogenic drug trip. Shame we couldn't add in the popular fanon theory that he's Abacus Cinch's ex-husband.

4612215 Discord has become even more sympathetic now, for better or for worse: He's medically required to cause chaos or he will die. That's a pretty good excuse.

Apparently I hate hippies, then. I was not aware of that.

Welcome to the 80s!

4612573

Shame we couldn’t add in the popular fanon theory that he’s Abacus Cinch’s ex-husband.

The age difference would be significant, since Abacus Cinch appears to be in her 40s by the time of Friendship Games, making her ~30 to Discord’s ~60 in 2005. (As far as I can tell, the first movie can’t happen earlier than 2012 or so.) An ex-husband would be somewhat unlikely. But marriages like this do exist, and we do seem to have Discord interested in Fluttershy in a somewhat deeper than purely platonic way, when the age difference between them has to be even higher…

4612583

we do seem to have Discord interested in Fluttershy in a somewhat deeper than purely platonic way, when the age difference between them has to be even higher…

I try hard not to think about that.

4612642
Story idea: Discord's ex from millennia ago turns up, has a low opinion of his new fling. Fluttershy is both terrified and confused.

4613078
That would be awesome.

Question: Discord and Tirek knew each other. When would that have happened in this hypothetical timeline?

4613830

They didn’t.

That is, Tirek knew Discord by reputation, but the conversation does not require him to know Discord personally. Likewise, Discord is specifically looking for Tirek and had to have been briefed on anything he required to know about Tirek.

But it is possible for them to be acquainted anyway: any reasonable amount of time can pass between Discord’s arrival to Equestria and the start of his rampage that ends with his imprisonment in stone, his anti-government crusade need not start immediately.

Just figured this was the correct place to put this image of Aging Hippie Discord.

orig00.deviantart.net/e674/f/2014/113/f/2/stoned_for_1000_years_by_sophiecabra-d7for9b.jpg

almost all references to human pop culture Discord employs end with 2004 – the most recent I’ve been able to track down is the Metal Gear Solid box he’s hiding in during Make New Friends But Keep Discord

The box is a series staple from the very beginning, 17 years older. The specific "oranges" label is from MGS, though, I suppose.

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