Blaine The Mono
He’s big. He’s crazy. He’s pink.
He shoots electricity. He does Pop Americana impressions, including Jimmy Stewart and Humphrey Bogart. He loves Riddles.
He has a split personality. He is a living god. HE SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS.
He helped his best friend kill herself.
He is Blaine the Mono.
Transportation in The Dark Tower: Blaine the Mono
This article is part of a series of articles about transportation in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Others include Patricia the Mono, John Cullum’s vehicles, Bucka Wagons, Suze’s Cruisin’ Trike, Horses of Mejis, and David Quick’s WW2 Airplane.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, here are Blaine’s specs as far as transportation is concerned:
What was Blaine’s Original Route?
Officially, his route runs from Lud, to Candleton, to Rilea, to Falls of the Hounds (of which Blaine offers the Gunslingers a terrifying but magnificent view), Dasherville, to, finally, Topeka.
Topeka, of course, if from our own world. That may help explain why Blaine knows how to do John Wayne impressions, since John Wayne wasn’t exactly born in Mid World.
Of course, if we look deeper, we can see that Blaine’s insanity is what brings out this impression. And then, when you think about the fact that Roland is basically John Wayne in the writer’s imagination, and that Blaine’s insanity is due to the world moving on, and that Sai Stephen King is, of course, fair game in any decent literary interpretation of TDT, since he makes an actual appearance in The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah — well, let’s just say that Stephen King is already inserting his deep subconscious into the Dark Tower, even at this early stage of book 3, so people should stop saying that the ending was poorly planned.
But that’s another article, and it’s for another day.
How Fast Can Blaine Go?
The Tōhoku Shinkansen, or, more famously, the Japanese bullet train, has a top speed of 200 mph.
The Shanghai Maglev Train, which is the fastest train in the world, has a top speed of 217.48 mph.
When it takes you around the world in the sky, a commercial airliner goes about 460-575 mph.
The speed of sound is 767.269 mph. Anything reaching that sound hits mach 1.
When something goes faster than the speed of sound, it makes a sonic boom. Blaine, too, makes a sonic boom at his top speeds.
Blaine the Mono can go over 900 miles per hour.
Blaine the Mono’s Back Story
Once, a long time ago, Blaine served the Great Old Ones. But the world has moved on since then. Now Blaine serves. Nay, never think it. Blaine is not a servant at all.
Blaine is a pain.
As the story goes, Blaine lives in the ancient city of Lud, where the inhabitants fear and worship him. And they are right to. For not only is Blaine a pain; he is also completely insane.
“What we’ve got here is a lunatic genius ghost-in-the-computer monorail that likes riddles and goes faster than the speed of sound. Welcome to the fantasy version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest .”Eddie Dean, Waste Lands, p. 266
Why Do the People of Lud Worship Blaine?
Over time, the people of Lud forgot how to use their technology. Eventually, the Luddites (Luddites were real people, by the way, in our keystone world, who hated and destroyed machines. Sai King chooses his names wisely) came to regard Blaine the Mono, with his advanced technology and apparent consciousness, as a god.
By the way, lest we think that the machine hating Luddites are the only possible inspiration for Sai King’s naming of the city, I found this.
As if all that wasn’t enough, all the people of Lud worshipped his God Drums, the ZZ Top drum track to Velcro Fly. They feared his “blue fire,” which was not really magic at all, but rather, electricity that Blaine was able to shoot from his console, or through any other linkage in his network.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”Arthur C. Clarke
Of course, in the end, the people of Lud would venture nowhere near the Cradle of Lud.
However, the people’s regard for Blaine isn’t the only thing that changed over time. Nay, sai, never think it. For over time, Blaine’s mind also changed. It grew strange. Today, Blaine sits in his Cradle of Lud, passing by the eternity of years – something Patricia the Mono was unable to do, see you later Patricia Gator, don’t forget to write.
And let us not forget about Little Blaine.
Blaine the Mono has two distinct personalities: Big Blaine and Little Blaine. Big Blaine SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS. He is the one who does impressions and likes riddles.
“DON’T WORRY, LITTLE TRAILHAND,” John Wayne drawled. “REMEMBER THAT YOU’RE SEEING IT UNDER MAGNIFICATION.”Blaine, The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, p.296
Little Blaine, on the other hand, does a great deal more whispering, cowering, and skulking. The thing Little Blaine seems most afraid of is getting Big Blaine angry.
And with good reason.
Because Big Blaine’s psychosis goes beyond schizophrenia. He’s got it worse than just that.
Why is Big Blaine Crazy?
“It’s totally insane, Eddie—schizophrenic, paranoid, probably delusional as well.”Susannah Dean, The Dark Tower: III, The Waste Lands, p. 266
Susannah Dean diagnoses Blaine as schizophrenic, but I think he’s got some kind of dissociative disorder. Check out dissociative disorder symptoms (paraphrased from Mayoclinic’s page on dissociative disorders):
- Loss of memory: Big Blaine has no recollection of Little Blaine
- Detachment from oneself and one’s emotions: All Blaine can say about his best friend, Patricia the Mono’s suicide, is see you later Patricia Gator don’t forget to write.
- Stress, relationship, or work problems: Blaine has been out of a job for time out of mind. Now instead he electrocutes people for fun.
- Inability to cope with emotional/job-related stress: Blaine dealt with neither Patricia’s suicide nor his loss of work well.
- Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and actions: Little Blaine is definitely anxious about his big brother! And about those suicidal thoughts and actions, well, I don’t want to spoil the story, but…
How does is all relate to the ka-tet?
It’s bad enough that Blaine lives in the city center, the Cradle of Lud, from which he has total control over life and death of living thing inside the city. But on top of that, Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy need to ride Blaine to get to the next part of their journey on the path of the beam to the Dark Tower.
And the only way to do this is to bribe him with riddles.
Blaine loves riddles. In the Dark Tower, almost everyone seems to have their own addiction. For Callahan, it’s booze. For Detta, it’s deviant behavior. For Eddie, it’s heroin. For Elmer, father of Jake, it’s the networks, and cocaine. For Calvin Tower, it’s books. For John Cullum, it’s Red Sox memorabilia. For young Roland, it’s love; for adult Roland, it’s the Dark Tower. And for Blaine, it’s riddling.
Blaine is a riddle junkie.
If you like riddles too, my next article is coming soon: a complete list of all the riddles the ka-tet asked Blaine. You can play along too! I won’t rip out all the answers as some mystery reader did in Jake’s copy of Riddle-De-Dum, but I’ll be happy to put the answers at the bottom of the page, to tickle that little bit of Blaine in you.