Detective Pony

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Title: Detective Pony
Author(s): Sonnetstuck
Date(s): AO3: 2014-10-14; Tumblr: April 2018–December 2018
Length: 40809 words
Genre(s): Metafiction, Palimpsest
Fandom(s): Homestuck
External Links: AO3; Tumblr

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Detective Pony is a metafictional Homestuck fanfiction by Sonnetstuck. It continues the in-story modification of the book 'Detective Pony' that Dirk Strider made as a gift to Jane Crocker. It’s a palimpsest, a transformative kind of fiction that pastes new words on top of an existing story to give it a new meaning. The story and characterisation of Dirk’s voice relies heavily on references to other works of literature, as Dirk is both showing off his knowledge and putting down the original book.

The story follows the Pony Pals: Anna; The City of Pawnee, Indiana; and Pam (and their ponies) as they find an unkillable cat, conquer a fire and bargain for their right to exist as they are rather than be purified back to the versions of them from the original Detective Pony by Jeanne Betancourt. "It is a tough, emotionally draining read. But it's cathartic, in all the worst ways possible."[1]


The metafictional nature of Detective Pony means that there are several different "authors" discussed throughout this wiki page:

  • Sonnetstuck, Archived version, who created the fanwork.
  • Dirk Strider, the in-story creator of the additions to the book. This article will sometimes talk about Dirk’s choices from a Watsonian perspective rather than Sonnetstuck’s.
  • Jeanne Betancourt, Archived version, author of the original Pony Pals book that Sonnetstruck (or, from an in-story perspective, Dirk) modified.
  • Andrew Hussie, the creator of Homestuck. Hussie came up with the plot point of Dirk modifying the PonyPals book, and showed the first two pages of Dirk's edit in the text of Homestuck itself. Sonnetstruck developed the rest of the fanwork following on from Hussie's work.

Sonnetstruck compiled a credits list, Archived version of other works referenced within their fanwork.


Sonnetstruck's fanwork recreates the two pages of Dirk's edit shown in Homestuck and continues from there:

There are three Pony Pals, #Anna Harley (who represents Jane in the text), #Pawnee, Indiana (Lulu Sanders) (who represents Roxy in the text) and #Pam Crandal (who represents Jake in the text). Additionally almost all of the characters represent #Dirk Strider at some point or another.

The story starts when Acorn stomps a cat (#Minos) they found to death and the girls don't particularly care, as this is very in character for Acorn. However, the cat comes back to life and appears to have some kind of connection with Acorn. Acorn repeatedly kills Minos over the course of the story. The girls (and the town) decide to take him to Pam's father, a vet, to see if he's possessed or something. Dr Crandal confirms that the cat is evil.

The cat starts a fire at the vet clinic. Anna saves the animals from the fire, cutting off her arm and replacing it with a sloths arm in the process. She dies shortly after escaping the fire. The cat reveals he did this in order to kill Anna and use his ability to resurrect her as a bargaining chip for Acorn to "take a walk" with him. It’s obviously a trap, but Acorn loves Anna, so it isn’t really a choice. Mostly this exchange is an excuse for Dirk to show off how clever he is as the two characters have a pretentious dick-measuring competition over who knows Russian literature better.

Anna is fine suddenly and this concerns her friends because she was definitely dead for a full 10 minutes. This doesn’t stop Pam from making her a new robotic arm.

The next day, they seek out Minos. It’s time for Acorn to take the walk he agreed to in order to save Anna’s life.

Acorn and Minos enter the land of death and arrive at a clearing where Acorn will be judged. The judges are Minos, Rhadamanthus(Dirk Strider) and Aeacus (Jeanne Betancourt). Acorn is the most blatant Dirk-insert aside from his narrative character that is summoned to judge Acorn, so this is a metaphor for three facets of Dirk judging Dirk himself. Acorn was doomed from the beginning, but condemning a non-explicit stand-in isn’t enough, and all the characters soon turn on Dirk's more literal insert, Dirk Strider, condemning him for writing the story in the first place.

Meanwhile, Pam and Pawnee try to convince Anna to leave Acorn and go home. Acorn is called “closer to a god than anything else that ever trod the earth”, a sign of Dirk’s narcissism, but his evilness and pony stupidity are emphasised too. Anna knows that Acorn is doomed and that if she attempts to follow him into the underworld then she won’t be able to come back, seeing as she’s already died once and the place has a hold on her soul.

But Anna loves Acorn.

(Dirk is so sure of Jane’s loyalty to him, of her love, that it wouldn’t have even occurred to him to write the love between Acorn and Anna as one-sided as someone as self-deprecating as he might be tempted to do. He loves her and would die for her, absolutely, but he’s also completely secure in the fact that the opposite is true. His being able to recognise that shows how much he truly respects her. He doesn’t reduce her to another whip with which to punish himself.)

Anna tells Pawnee and Pam they can go back if they want, but she sure isn’t. Pawnee and Pam reluctantly agree to go with her. They love her too much not to.

Meanwhile, the judging of Acorn begins. It isn't just judging whether his soul goes to heaven or hell, it's whether or not he deserves to exist. This is not just in terms of Acorn as a character, the judges are concerned with whether the book that Dirk wrote on top of the original Pony Pals book deserves to exist. This is the primary plot for the rest of the book. Before the judges can decide Acorn’s fate, the Pony Pals arrive with suitable drama, carving a gorge into hell.

Dirk has a physical copy of the Pony Pals book that he claims is going off script. He's surprised by Anna coming to the rescue. Jeanne, the original author, is surprised as well, but delighted to meet her creations. She starts talking about them as she had written them, not as Dirk has twisted them, calling Pawnee “Lulu” for example, and this divergence in identities begins to distress the Pony Pals.

Anna collapses, her awareness of the text and all the other texts overwhelming her. Pam is concerned for Anna, but Pawnee is more occupied with telling Jeanne off for misidentifying her.

Dirk starts summarising how he planned to end the book to Minos, trying to get him to speed the plot along while Jeanne is occupied with Pawnee/Lulu. He wants Minos to help him judge Acorn so the book can end, saying they only need a ⅔ vote and Jeanne doesn’t count anyway because she’s a joke character, his projection of the idea of what a person who could write a book as trite as the original Detective Pony would look like. Minos recognises Dirk as his creator. Dirk says they need to hurry before Pawnee “rips off Betancourt’s head or something” because he doesn’t know what happens if the original author dies, in such a rush he’s “not even going to make the obvious Rolland Barthes joke”.

The narrative starts to become a conscious character as well, leaving Dirk’s head and describing what other characters are doing. Dirk has well and truly lost control of the story. Pawnee and Jeanne are still arguing, not listening to each other. Pam is looking after Anna faithfully. Anna’s eyes, which were pure white, are now flickering rapidly between colours and sizes to represent “the eyes of dozens of people … fighting for dominance inside the body of this one small girl.” Dirk yells at the narrative to get back in his head, which it does, but not before grumbling that the fact that it had left in the first place was a sign on incompetence. Dirk is criticising himself from every point of view available at this point.

Just as Dirk is scrambling for control, realising that parts of the book have been rewritten while he wasn't paying attention, Anna wakes up, her eyes glowing with the presence of countless other characters and her robot arm left behind her. She declares herself “Author, destroyer of texts.”

She walks over to Acorn and shares a moment that is literally too sacred to describe. Dirk’s narration is startled be its inability to narrate. On Anna's command, Acorn steals Jeanne, Minos and the book from Dirk's hands. Acorn’s majesty is described with as much awe as ponies have been derided through the book. It’s extremely unclear whether Dirk loves ponies, or if he loves ponies.

Anna explains that her being dyslexic means that she has a relationship to words that's different to others, she can take control. She also passed through all the texts that Dirk mentioned at any point during the narrative because when he wrote her death he described it as passing through "the other side of the other side". Because Dirk is Dirk, he has referenced a lot of pretentious books during throughout the story.

Although Anna is a Jane insert, she becomes more Dirk-like as she gains more control. The different texts inside her are described as splinters and she starts talking with just as much authority as Dirk would about the texts, while berating him for doing the same. She takes great satisfaction from explaining things in a simpler way, while also making a pun on difference/différance, which because of the similarities between the words allows her to use both with her dyslexia superpower, and différance is a deliberate misspelling of difference pronounced identically used by Derrida to illustrate the difference (pun) between written and oral communication. It's a "how'd you like them apples" moment, calling out someone for relying on their intelligence by fighting back with superior intelligence.

“You just love your little allusions, don’t you, Dirk?” Anna said. “Gotta make sure everybody knows how well-read you are. God forbid someone think you don’t have any Baudelaire memorized, right?”

To be clear, she's not the texts themselves, though that is abstract enough to be appealing to the format of the book, she's the characters from the texts. The characters she mentions are all referenced above. This includes Dirk, not only because he's a character in this book, but because he sees himself as a character outside the book (a symptom both of being a character in Homestuck and a his neurosis, which she cuttingly calls out), so she literally is a Dirk splinter now. She references many of the characters and the powers they have given her, while also criticising Dirk’s choices of text, particularly because every one of them was written by a man.

Pawnee asks who her real father is. Dirk says that the “I know who your real father is” was just a silly throwaway subplot. But Pam reveals that it’s Mr Sanders. The contradictory nature of Pawnee’s existence, of being both Pawnee, Indiana and Lulu Sanders starts to overwhelm her again. Anna confirms this, emphasising that her memories are not real.

Pam protests that she doesn’t understand the difference between the fake memories that Dirk gave them and the fake memories that are sourced from them being characters in Jeanne Betancourt’s book. Anna says that the original text is the “real” one, and that’s the “right” one. Pam asks her why the “original” text has more moral value.

”And really,” Dirk interjected, breaking his spectatorial silence, “one could argue that while Betancourt’s text is original, mine has more originality. There are literally hundreds of children’s books about ponies and horses and other equine falderal. But how many books can you think of in which one of those ponies chats with a demonic cat about cephalophores, scripture, and Dostoevsky novels? That shit ain’t in Black Beauty, I promise you that.”

Anna is annoyed, saying that the way they are is wrong. Pam argues that it’s still who they are. Dirk says that not only did he change the story, he improved it. Anna berates Dirk for the trauma that he put his characters through, using her sawed off arm and Pawnee’s drinking problem as examples. Not only does Pawnee have a problem, but her friends were forced to watch her uncaringly. What kinds of friends would do that?

Anna advances on Dirk, telling him he was wrong, that she has been wronged. She very nearly kills him. But she stops, realising that isn’t what she wants. It’s what Dirk wants. He built the text as a labyrinth, with him as the minotaur.

She challenges him not to engage in masochistic, self-pitying suicide. She tells him to stop fucking around with his layers and layers of irony and references and reach out sincerely and without hiding behind dialogue tags to his reader, to Jane, and admit he’s lonely. He can’t. Anna banishes him, almost dismissively, using the words God used on the serpent.

The text changes from orange to black. (This fanfiction was written five years before the Homestuck Epilogues.)

Acorn, Minos and Jeanne are judging whether the book deserves to exist. They are in “the eighth and highest layer of Purgatory” from Dante’s The Divine Comedy, on the bank of the river Lethe. The collective characters in two different settings discuss how Anna is planning to restore the book to its original state by peeling back the paper Dirk has stuck on top of the original words.

Jeanne, Acorn and Minos are able to dip the last page of the book into the river Lethe to clear the way for the Pony Pals to scrape Dirk's content off, or drop the whole thing in and erase the content entirely.

They start discussing the artistic merit of the original Detective Pony as opposed to Dirk’s version, as well as the morality behind the characters being real. They determine that destroying the text would be destroying something of value (though “hardly a human monument”), but the value of what they recovered would be greater. So they are decided that it needs to be destroyed, and agreed that Anna destroying it herself and on her own terms was important. They still weren’t sure whether that importance outweighed the risk of her plan failing, of other harmful things from the book escaping if they made an attempt to live through the reset (think Bec Noir coming through The Scratch with the kids).

Minos is bored with the book and wants it destroyed. Jeanne thinks the edits are vulgar, and that's fine, but that the characters being real changes things. She wants it destroyed but wants the Pony Pals to have the chance to do it themselves. Acorn doesn't want it destroyed, because Acorn loves Anna. This Anna. He loves the relationship that he, a fucked up horse, has with this particular fucked up girl. Not the original one. He doesn't want any of that to change. It would be a hung jury, except Dirk inserts himself back into the book, orange text and all.

Back to where the girls are navigating a featureless expanse. Pam asks what happens to them when they restore the book. Anna admits she’s asking them to sacrifice themselves, even if it’s not a real death, a blending of consciousness would fundamentally change them from who they are. It needs to happen, Anna argues, because of all the people suffering and dead in Dirk’s version of the book. Pam asks whether the ridiculous characters that Dirk has created have less value than the “original” ones.

Dirk has come back into the book, not as a character but as pure text. This time he can't overwrite facts, he can just write and it’s of limited power.

Detective pony drownedout.png

Dirk votes to destroy the book. Minos says that breaks the tie. Acorn doesn’t want the book destroyed and says Dirk doesn’t have the right to vote. Acorn and Minos are arguing enough to allow Jeanne and Dirk to discuss why Dirk wants the book destroyed.

He reread his book and he’s ashamed of it and himself for writing it.

He says it’s a shitty gift to give someone, a self indulgent absurdist novel that is designed to show off Dirk's intellect that Jane will feel obliged to struggle through. and, worse, it now includes his flaws in equal measure. It's both self-deprecating and self-aggrandising in cyclical ways and that is what Dirk does best. He hates that he is putting it on display for Jane. He's now wrestling with whether he destroys the work, or he passes it on as intended.

He acknowledges that the whole book was masturbatory either in self loathing or self centeredness and that Jane deserves a better friend than him, that she deserves better full stop. He addresses Jane directly and says "Jane, I'm sorry".

Acorn and Minos decide that their roles are no longer relevant and leave. Acorn wants to find Anna. Minos drinks from the Lethe to erase his memories and allow himself to be a regular cat.

Dirk is running out of pages, he only has two left. He cheats, by adding more that fold out. He's not good at endings. He and Jeanne discuss control and power, and palimpsest (which leaves a trace) versus tabula rasa (which does not) and whether Dirk really wants the text destroyed. After all, he's still in control, right? He’s the author. Again, the critique here is from Dirk towards Dirk, a monologue disguised as a dialogue.

Jeanne's mouth.png

Jeanne defends her authority (pun) to talk about these complicated subjects (immediately after acknowledging it isn’t her mouth), saying that her first book is a feminist critique of contemporary short films. Ultimately, Jeanne forces Dirk to choose whether she destroys the entire book or just the final page, allowing the Pony Pals their own resolution. He chooses to allow the Pony Pals their ending.

The Pony Pals reach the end of the book and Anna explains the biblical references that will allow Pawnee to destroy the book. After some more discussion, Pawnee is ready to make her choice about whether to restore the book to a state of innocence or preserve it exactly as it is. Just as she's about to, Anna hears the sounds of hooves and starts calling out to Acorn. We never find out what Pawnee's choice is, but we do the first, unedited page of the original text as well as some properly referenced material, not just allusions, Plato’s Pharmacy and Pale Fire pasted onto the end matter.

Longcat Rant

He talks about the increased complexity of memes, as well as the word origin of memetic (to copy) and caption (to understand/ to capture). He references Republic and Phaedrus by Plato openly, while drawing heavily from a parody of the essay “Plato’s Pharmacy" by Jacques Derrida (found in the book Dissemination) and brings up the concept of pharmakon for the first time. Pharmakon means both poison and cure. The information he’s presenting is faithful as shit to Plato’s philosophies, but the fact that he is engaging in art betrays those same philosophy.

Dirk presents this rant as his own passion, but Plato was obsessed with the fact that reality could not be captured and was even more intense about this belief than Dirk is. Even looking at real objects and relying on your brain’s interpretation of the thing was a version of memesis to Plato and he was so opposed to this “bastardisation" of reality (that is perception) that he claimed he would exclude all artists from his utopia on the grounds that they are lying twice over by perceiving the object and then replicating their lie for others to perceive.

Dirk’s general agreement with Plato is ironic. (It’s unclear if he would be aware of this or not seeing as he replicated Plato’s ideas so faithfully, though that would only add to the irony and it’s never clear how far down the irony flight of stairs you want to descend when dealing with Striders.) This is because in creating this book, he is committing memesis in a much more involved level than the artists that Plato condemned. He’s creating art in response to art and lying thrice over at least. (In attempting to interpret, I’m adding to these layers of lies and in reading it, you are too. Congratulations, Plato hates us! This is the ideal state of being. You’d think for a guy who abhorred writing so much, Plato could have written a little less for me to get through.)

The fact that Dirk is presenting all this as something that Jane should be able to follow is both a way of flattering her intelligence while slyly encouraging the appearance of his own as superior. Maybe she has read all of Plato’s dialogues. It’s far more likely, however, seeing as they’re much more relevant to his own interests than hers and they are complicated and old, that she has not. (Also there’s way too many and they’re very dense.) He name drops them, allowing her to follow along at a deeper level if she chooses, but you can understand what he’s saying without reading them. He’s showing off, and he’s aware of the fact that he’s doing it. The awareness adds a layer of irony to the act that allows him to continue to do it. The whole text is like this, understandable without further reading, but tempting the reader (Jane or yourself, depending on how meta you want to get) to dig deeper.

This is also where we first see Dirk’s obsession with word choice and word origins explicitly. Throughout the story, various characters point out when they appreciate a particularly good word or wordplay, regardless of whether it is in dialogue or description. This often comes off as Dirk being self-indulgent, especially given his habit of choosing absurd words where a common one would have been more appropriate, but the fact that there are multiple interpretations behind words and that words are chosen carefully is hugely relevant to the plot.


Anna Harley

Anna Harley is the main character, and she represents Jane in the story. Her pony is #Acorn. The real point to this story, underneath all the references and self-flagellation, is how much Anna and Acorn love each other. Anna is dyslexic, which eventually allows her to manipulate the text as her relationship to words is different on the very building block of language level. She’s the ostensible leader of the Pony Pals and the point of view character.

Allusions to Homestuck

On the first page, Dirk/Hussie circles “Anna” saying it’s almost a good name for Jane (who would one day be referred to as “Nanna”, and then insults “Harley”, which is Jade’s last name. She is resurrected after she dies just as Jane was on Prospit. Anna being controlled by the narrative and Dirk holds comparisons to Crockertier.

Anna’s arm being replaced by a sloth’s arm is patently ridiculous, but when it’s replaced by a robotic arm it draws a parallel to Vriska. The Vriska parallel is extended when her arm becomes a source of Light that represents truth and narrative, just as Light does in Homestuck. Her morality is questionable, particularly because of her past mentioned but not “on-screen” murders, though the degree to which she has agency over her actions further complicates things, which is very Vriska. She later steals the story back from Dirk.

Dirk describes her as “well on her way to becoming an even more formidable manipulator than me”, which alludes to his grooming of Jane. Her arm resembles John’s arm after he sticks it in the retcon juju. When she absorbs all the characters from the referenced texts, her eyes flicker in a way similar to Lord English.

Pawnee, Indiana (Lulu Sanders)

Pawnee is simultaneously treated as a the literal embodiment of the fictional town from the TV show Parks and Recreation, and as a little girl who rides ponies with her friends. The duplicity of her being torments her, but is simultaneously so ridiculous as to be funny. That’s a common theme in this book. Dirk frequently juxtaposes crass humour (such as the cat’s near constant shitting) with an absurdly convoluted plot. It has layers to it.

Pawnee represents Roxy in the text. Her pony is called Li’l Sebastian, a reference to the television show Parks and Recreation.

Dirk has made these Parks and Recreation references because of Jane’s obvious love for the show (her love for Ron Swanson and naming her robot bunny Li’l Seb are examples of this). Roxy is the only one of any of the kids to be shown interacting with characters who are non-player/guardians, and this closeness to the community/carapacians seems appropriate for a character who is literally a town. Despite this physical closeness, Roxy is possibly the most desperate for emotional closeness of all the kids (though admittedly, that’s a competitive slot).

Pawnee, like Roxy, has a drinking problem that goes largely ignored, and around the middle Anna “stopped bothering to project even the slightest pretense of caring about these antics”. Just as Roxy must confront her drinking problem without the support or even interest from her friends, Pawnee’s more obvious cries for help go almost cruelly ignored, something that Anna criticises Dirk (and by extension, Jane) for allowing their friend to go through that alone.

Though Anna is the main character, Pawnee is ultimately the one who can cleanse or preserve the text, alluding to the way Dirk eventually considers Roxy to be the secret leader of their group. She doesn’t get involved when Anna and Pam disagree about what to do, but waits and listens.

Pam Crandal

Pam represents Jake in the text. She uses a pistol and a variety of other guns. Her pony is called Lightning. She’s repeatedly alluded to romantically, such as when Anna takes a lock of her hair, when she invites her friends to sleep in her bed with her or when she dons a wedding dress in order to marry death. At one point, Anna tells her, “You’ll always be the one who got away."

Her father assures her that she will marry death and “bear his worm children from your rotten womb", which you could draw a parallel to the near-obsession Homestuck has with Jake’s fertility, but postpones it. Pam is also responsible for making Anna’s robot arm, proving a degree of engineering competence, but “only recently learned to count."

She has a connection and awareness of what’s going on, especially towards the end, though it’s unconscious, which can be compared to how Jake conjures Brain Ghost Dirk who tells him about mechanics of Sburb he shouldn’t have any knowledge of.


Outside of #Dirk Strider, Acorn is the biggest representation of Dirk in the text (though all characters have some Dirk-like qualities). He’s a very majestic and very evil pony. He’s frequently a vehicle for Dirk to show off his intelligence and his haughty nature, as he’s well above the indignity of allowing a little girl to be his master. He also loves Anna more than anything in the world.

He kills Minos over and over again, even once he’s perfectly aware it won’t do anything. His list of crimes is 666 items long. He can turn into a lion at will. He’s been known by many names, and the story tells us that he literally is every cool horse throughout history: Grani, Liath Macha, Arion, The Darley Arabian, Eclipse, Cincinnati, Traveller and Xanthos. If you don’t fancy clicking on all those links, take it from me that they’re all really awesome horses from various mythologies and real history.


Minos is an evil and adorable cat. Though he is described as black with white socks, he’s illustrated as fully black. He has a habit of “shitting like tomorrow wasn’t a thing”, something he no longer does once Dirk is banished from the narrative by Anna.

He’s the third most obvious Dirk insert after Dirk himself, and largely exists to show off Dirk’s intelligence with the particular brand of insouciance that’s typical of cats. He starts the fire at the vet clinic in order to kill Anna and have a bargaining chip to force Acorn to walk into hell with him.

Jeanne Betancourt

The author of the original book, but also a character. From the beginning, Dirk almost bullies her for choosing to write about ponies (one of his own interests) and nitpicks grammar, word choice and other writing choices.

This continues once she physically enters the story to judge Acorn, but eventually she enters dialogue on equal terms with Dirk, with more intelligence and a lot more compassion than other characters. She criticises and hits home about many issues, but she does so with a degree of firm but gentle understanding, almost maternal.

Dirk Strider

The narration both is and is not Dirk, as halfway through the book Dirk physically enters the book and the narration then exists as a separate entity that Dirk struggles to control. From the first page, Dirk occasionally lapses into first person to talk directly to Jane, but this reduces as Dirk becomes more invested in the narrative. His long expositional paragraphs stop feeling like they’re addressed to Jane, but rather to an unknown, larger audience. The more emotionally vulnerable he is, the more he hides behind authorial distance.

Main Ideas


This comes first. This is a gift for Jane’s birthday, one in which Dirk gives her not only a thoughtful and time-consuming project, but also a brutally honest and revealing account of who Dirk is. It shows his best qualities, like his intelligence, creativity and dedication, and his worst, like his arrogance, self-loathing and obsessive thinking. And he trusts Jane with all of it.

Beyond this, the love between Anna and Acorn, who represent Dirk and Jane in the text, is never in question. They both find themselves in the position where the other is being doomed to hell, and each risk their own mortality on the rare chance they’ll be able to save the other. When Anna dies, Acorn doesn’t hesitate to take Minos’s deal even though he knows the implications. When Acorn walks into hell for Anna, she immediately follows him, even knowing that she probably won’t return.

Pam and Pawnee both love Anna unquestioningly as well. They’re the Pony Pals and they stick together, even when they aren’t comfortable with verbal expressions of love. They follow Anna into hell and stand by each other no matter the temporary cruelty that Dirk writes in or that comes as a natural part of being friends with someone.

Plato’s Pharmacy


Plato is perhaps most famous for his allegory of the cave, in which he emphasised the ability for philosophers to ascend and understand the world on a deeper level than most, as well as the difference between what we perceive and what things are.

He claimed that all things have a Platonic ideal, the way they exist in our minds, and that this was more pure, divine and important than how we perceive things, which is just a shadow. Artists who then re-presented their perception of things (therefore lying twice over) were not to be trusted and were to be denied access to his utopia.

Plato’s collection of writing is referred to as “dialogues”, a form of writing he coined, and by writing philosophical ideas as a conversation, Plato was able to present multiple perspectives and therefore clarify his (or Socrates’s) position. He also used these to criticise his own theories and develop them. This is definitely what Dirk is doing in Detective Pony, where various characters interrogate him on his ideas and sense of self and he defends and accepts their judgement.


Derrida was greatly inspired by Plato, and originated the concept of deconstruction, something vital to Detective Pony. His essay, Plato’s Pharmacy, is where many of the ideas from Detective Pony are sourced.

Derrida argued that a Platonic ideal was impossible to convey with words, because words are understood as much by what they are not as by what they are. As a consequence, meaning is never present, but rather is deferred to other signs. Binary opposition underlies much of the Western understanding of concepts, for example “left” is understood as the opposite direction of “right”, “night” is understood as the opposite time to “day” and “evil” is understood as the opposite concept of “good”.

These binary oppositions are not equal, they have a “violent hierarchy”. On one side, we have “good”, “day”, and “right” (and more concerningly, “white”, “male”, “active”) and on the other, “evil”, “night” and “left” (and “black”, “female”, “passive”). Deconstruction is an approach to understanding the relationship between text and meaning, in which we find and overturn these oppositions, because the idea of a binary system for any of them is inherently flawed. However the oppositions can’t be suspended entirely or forever, because we rely on them to find meaning. Derrida referred to the necessity of these oppositions as “violent”, a comparison that is made by Acorn, Jeanne and Minos when they’re discussing Dirk’s edits.

By challenging words at their very building blocks and finding new meaning in deconstructing them, Derrida also encouraged the creation of new words. Difference versus différance (pronounced the same but deliberately misspelled to make a point about speech and writing) was one of the ways he did this, as was the examination of pharmakon (both poison and cure).

The pharmakon thing

Dirk defined the terms relating to pharmakon in Detective Pony:

Pharmakon, φάρμακον, the Greek word that means both “poison” and “cure,” but, because of the limitations of the English language, can only be translated one way or the other depending on the context and the translator’s whims. No possible translation can capture the full implications of a Greek text including this word.

“Pharmakon” can also mean “paint.” Think about it, Jane. Just think about it.

Pharmakon, in philosophy and critical theory, is a composite of three meanings: remedy, poison, and scapegoat. Pharmakon is also frequently associated with addictive substances.

Sincerity has become just another pharmakon: the supposed “cure” to my irony, yet one which effaces the original message just as much as the poisonous irony that obscured it in the first place. Either way, meaning is lost.

Pharmakos, φαρμακός, a concept roughly equivalent to a scapegoat. In ancient Greece, a pharmakos was a person who was taken outside the city and executed, … The Greeks believed that the death of the pharmakos would facilitate the purification of the city. By sacrilizing the victim, the community was able to turn its violence inside-out, and this inversion from effect to cause repeated, mimicked, that initial sacrificial turn that enabled the very oppositions of inside/outside, before/after, and even cause/effect itself.

Dirk is the pharmakos of the story. He is simultaneously the creator, and also the one who brought the worst parts of the characters’ realities in. He’s blamed and ultimately banished, but his evil isn’t limited to himself. Evil can’t be assigned to one person and then exorcised like a tumor. Without the qualities Dirk gave them, the characters in the story would not be themselves.

Pharmacia. A nymph who ruled over a poisonous spring (liquid is the element of the pharmakon, after all). Pharmacia was the friend of Orithyia, who later became the goddess of cold mountain winds. Here is our Anna. Wind—breath. Breath—speech—creation.

(This connection between breath and creation is one that should be very familiar to Homestucks. The fact that it comes from John’s gospel is one of those happy little coincidences.)

Jeanne and Dirk discuss the absence of Dirk referring to “pharmakeus”, comparing it to Plato never using the word “pharmakos”. They discuss how it, as the sorceror/pharmisist is the person who delivers the pharmakon and how Dirk’s ommission is linked to his issues with control and authority, both in the sense of people of authority and author-power.

Characters as Characters

As stated in the character summaries (but not explicitly in Detective Pony), Dirk has written his friends into the book. Throughout the book, however, various characters also get saddled with comparisons to more and more literary characters.


God, Beatrice (to be expanded)


Eve (to be expanded)


The biblical serpent (to be expanded)

Irony vs Sincerity

Dirk has a habit of identifying his discomfort and then torturing himself by being intensely sincere to make up for his first impulse to play it cool. He knows that his blank facade makes it harder for people to connect with him, but can’t abandon it for fear that his real self isn’t as palatable as his facade.

The way the Striders do irony is based on the hipster usage of the word more so than the dramatic. They can minimise their attachment to their interests by proclaiming them ironic, despite the great effort they go to maintain them. Dirk is aware of the psychological implications and the greater perception of insecurity that this creates as opposed to just owning his interests, and is fascinated with the circular patterns of irony and sincerity. As he bases his “ironic” masking of his interests on his impression of his bro, Alpha Dave Strider, his insistence of a deeper meaning than insecurity comes from a place of hero worship.


Dirk talks more and more about his responsibility and cruelty in creating Detective Pony as the book proceeds. There are clear parallels with the burden he feels over creating AR, as well as the paternal anxiety that is very strong in Dirk and his splinters’ story arcs in Homestuck.


Memesis, the topic that Dirk uses as his central theme for his longcat rant, is only one of the ways that repetition is emphasised in Detective Pony. Leitwortstil is explicitly pointed out when (probably unintentionally) Jeanne Betancourt (the author, not the character) repeats the word clinic to a point of excess. (Clinic shares meaning roots with pharmakos.)

Later, Dirk subverts this technique by removing the repetition of “no cat” and changing it to varied words.

Detectivepony nocat.png

He smugly points to the repetition of “inside out” in relation to Anna’s pharmakos/palimpsest plan as “good leitwortstil”.

Dirk relies on memes and therefore memesis as a form of humour. By repeating absurd ideas until the frequency of the absurd occurence makes the original idea even more absurd (such as with Minos’s constant shitting), he’s creating an inside joke where the pattern being reinforced allows the reader an expected and funny reaction, such as is the basis of memes being subtly changed and shared around.

Reactions and Reviews

An amazing romp about being a creator as well as one’s own creation. Detective Pony is a love letter to the source material and so alike in style and format that it’s basically canon. It’s fanfiction about fanfiction, and genuinely hilarious enough to be enjoyable to readers unfamiliar with Homestuck.[2]

Connection to Canon

Detective Pony was written in 2014 when the comic was up approaching the [S] GAME OVER event.

In Homestuck^2, Dirk has a copy of Detective Pony on his ship. Terezi explicitly refers to the #Longcat Rant[3], which was included in this fanwork and not the original two pages written by Andrew Hussie, canonising the text.

Related Works

Naked Bee (tumblr) produced an audiobook for Detective Pony in 2016. Jeanne Betancourt (including original text) is played by NakedBee and Dirk Strider is played by Duckface.

NakedBee is currently releasing a film adaptation on a weekly basis. First episode here.


  1. ^ Homestuck page 4441, Archived version. Accessed 6 April 2022.
  2. ^ "The Rec Center #73". Archived from the original on 2024-07-21.
  3. ^ L1B3R4T3 L4LOND14N L1BR4RY