Originally Posted by My Comment
I wanted to post this incredible article I found talking about the Zelda timeline and how its canon material is imperfect when trying to line up the Zelda stories in a linear fashion. I would like to get a good discussion out of this if possible to make this FC acvtive once more. All credits are due to The Missing Link over at the Sacred Realm website. Here is the link to the site
. Its the same website whose people worked on the Hero of Time independant film.
Linearism Is Alive and Well
This article written by The Missing Link
Timeline “enthusiasts” (y’all know who you are!) may be looking at the title of this article with some amount of shock, disbelief, perhaps even disgust. The very thought is probably absurd to nearly all of you, and already you are probably dividing yourselves into two different camps. On one side, some may have already decided that I, in my many months of hiding, have somehow had my head stuck in the sand and haven’t heard about the confirmation of the Split Timeline. (I assure you that you are all dead wrong on that one.) And then, in the other corner of the ring, others would believe me to be some raving lunatic that is either delusional, mad, or simply desperately trying to hold onto the way things were years ago. (Mad? Me? Mad, you say? Hahaha! Hardly! You haven’t seen me get going yet!)
However, no matter what your knee-jerk reactions are to the title of this article, believe me when I tell you all that I am quite serious when I say that, just like bellbottom jeans, plaid pants, and ‘80s TV sitcoms, single timelines are going to be fashionable again before you know it. Sure, they’ve been mocked and critiqued and laughed at recently, but I think it’s only a matter of time before all the cool kids will be doing it.
Allow me to pause while you laugh. Go ahead, get it out. You’ll feel better in the long run.
Back? Good. Let’s keep going.
“How can I say that?” I hear you ask. Be patient, my fellow tenured professors of Ancient Hyrulian History of the Castle Town University Evaluation Board. I’m sure you’ll find my theories enlightening.
A little over three years ago, when I was the webmaster of ZeldaBlog, I began to write a few whimsical articles regarding a few more... controversial ideas regarding the timeline. A lot of the articles that I wrote were inspired by the fact that, when I used to participate in timeline discussions during that era, most of my objections, ideas, and what-ifs were usually dismissed without much thought. This was, for the most part, because they were quite unconventional and challenged the status quo of their beliefs. By and large, there was a consistent and passionate rejection of every idea that ran counter to what they, in their prior debates, had already determined to be goddess-given fact. (This is notwithstanding that there was an obsessive necessity to check everything minute detail of everything against the raw text of a foreign language that they themselves didn’t even understand. But, alas, I digress...) The result of this was that, the moment that you tried to question or show weaknesses in a few fundamental assumptions that were popular enough to have been elevated to law, you were as good as dead to them. Goodbye, sayounara, auf vidersein, au revior.
That sort of dismissal never really set well with me. Granted, it could have just been because their forum culture differed (drastically!) from the Internet corner in which I had been “raised,” but the riotous passion they expressed had practically become borderline religion, and I felt like a heretic amongst them... or at least amongst a few of them. (Some of those timeliners were quite reasonable, but they’re usually not the vocal ones, sadly.) And so, as a result, being the devious Internetian that I was (and still am!), I plotted my revenge.
I began to prove my points in a very different way... this time using their very evaluation techniques against them. What followed was an investigative series on the timeline that showed the weaknesses in their quest for absolute truth in uncovering the mysterious and elusive “one true timeline.” The articles also provided a basic set of principles that would help encourage discussion, new ideas, and... civility in timeline debates. Those who frequented ZeldaBlog in its heyday will remember these articles, but I realize that it’s been quite some time, so I want to present to you all a refresher course in TML’s Laws of Timelinedynamics.
The Zeroth Law of Timelinedynamics
declares that, if indeed the canon can find the true timeline, then that timeline is illogical. I analyzed the seeming grandfather paradox found within the Song of Storms from Ocarina of Time and showed that, if one attempts to find the “one true timeline” using only a strict interpretation of canon, one eventually reaches a logical impasse. The Master Sword and the Ocarina of Time, despite how intrinsically intertwined they are within the game’s story, simply cannot work the same way if one hopes to make sense of both the windmill scene and the ending of the game. Therefore, if you hope to create a sensible timeline, you must view the canon as imperfect. Conversely, if you believe in an infallible canon, you must have an illogical timeline.
The First Law
is that the canon is overconstrained, or rather, that there are too many conflicting details such that, no matter how you rearrange all the pieces, some small sliver of canon—some glaring fact—cannot possibly be fulfilled. I showed that, in the Four Swords trilogy, no matter how you place The Minish Cap with respect to Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures—certain logistical nightmares will always erupt from the wreckage. The takeaway was that the canon isn’t sacred; to arrive at a perfect timeline, you must subtract facts from the canon.
The Second Law
is that the canon is simultaneously underconstrained, or rather, that there aren’t enough details to fully determine the proper placement of all the pieces of the timeline. The Imprisoning War shows this quite nicely in that, given what we know, we simply do not have enough pieces of evidence to know whether or not the Seal War backstory of A Link to the Past is represented by Ocarina of Time or not, partially since a few details between from the manual’s backstory and from the game’s prologue that don’t align perfectly with Ocarina. The realization? The canon isn’t complete; to arrive at a perfect timeline, you must add assumptions to the canon.
The Third Law
is that the timeline is canon-indeterminate, or rather, that the timeline cannot be determined beyond a shadow of a doubt through the use of canon details alone. Here I looked at the ending of Ocarina of Time and mused over the then-possibilities between the Single, Split, and Multiple Timeline Theories. I realized that the “problem” with the Split and Multiple Timeline Theories is that each of their respective timelines (e.g., the child and adult timelines) are effectively self-contained; games from one timeline would not be allowed to reference in any way, shape, or form games from another one, therefore making it impossible to know if there were indeed multiple timelines using the canon alone. In short, canon isn’t enough; you need more data in order to find the magical timeline of lore.
While these laws are named after a rather unclever (and remarkably geeky!) reference to the Laws of Thermodynamics (good jokes about serious business are hard to come by, what can I say?), they are actually rather aptly named given their main purpose, which is to say that the timeline is still a dynamic structure, that is, the true nature of the “one true timeline”—a timeline that is without any illogical leaps of faith or any pesky, nuanced contradictions—is forever being evolved and molded and isn’t something that we can possibly ever know absolutely. And if we’re never going to find it, we might as well take over complete ownership of what the Zelda timeline looks like. So be free! Make the timeline look like whatever it is you want it to look like! (But of course, you still need to have a few good reasons for believing whatever it is you want to believe; otherwise, it’ll end up looking like Link from the CD-i games, mai boi.)