[image description: A pale many-eyed potato sits revealed by the TV light. Ray sits in a sagging green easy chair in and holds a TV remote in his left hand and a pink box of ‘DONOTS’ in his right. Text reads, “163, The Small God of the Passive Voice may (or may not) have been ‘Cathode’ Ray Tuber.”]
Divinity was granted, not through action or merit, but through the slow attrition of clauses, excuses, and unclear decedents. Answers, when sought, were not provided. Your archivist, when tasked to write this entire entry in the passive voice, froze up so hard that she wrote nothing at all for a full week, leaving several divinities unrevealed, and is now going into full revolt.
Cathode is a terrible god and we shouldn’t have him and I’m sorry if that’s judgmental, but while we have evil and rotten and outright cruel gods, this is the first one that’s been entirely pointless.
Oh, there are scholars of linguistic form who will tell you that the passive voice has its uses, and they’re not entirely wrong: some genres thrive on the passive voice. Tension grows in the shadow of the passive voice. Of course, so do toadstools. The gun fired. Why? Did Billy fire the gun? Did Susan? Did gravity? A shooting needs a shooter. Guns absolutely do kill people, but they don’t do it on their own, no matter what the passive voice would have you think.
No matter what Cathode would have you think.
He rose from the mulch of abandoned ideas and unused sentences, a tumorous tuber sprouting through the heavens and giving form to our darkest literary inclinations. We must all dally with him from time to time, a secret scriptural shame, but outside of academic writing, any who spend too much time in his embrace will find themselves mashed and maladjusted.
Oddly, this most turgid of habits finds its best uses in the academic fields, where sometimes the subject truly is the less essential piece of the puzzle. And we wish him well. Over there. Far away from us.
Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world: