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On symbols and fiction.

So a random thing I've noticed about myself: when it comes to fiction, I'm a big fan of symbols. Not in the "oooo, this giant creature with its arms splayed out perpendicular to its torso is clearly a metaphor for Christ on the cross!/the tattered rose is clearly a symbol of innocent love turned bittersweet!" sort of way, but in the sense of fictional logos, emblems, sigils, crests. I think it's the fact that they're like a sort of code, a secret handshake, an inside reference; nobody except a fan of the fiction would know what they meant, yet they're an instant signifier to a fan that you know the work and identify with this particular aspect of it. Taking that idea further, they're like tribal symbols, perhaps, indicators of belonging. They're a less crude, more stylish way of sporting a "Go Team!" slogan, but at the same time, they're something else, something almost mystical; the essence of something valued distilled into a few lines or a simple, iconic image. They're compressed ideas, concentrated, encapsulated, and that makes them powerful.

I always end up wanting my favourite characters, my favourite concepts and ideas and parts of my fandoms, to have representative symbols. I'd want to wear them as pendants or pins, some kind of jewellery, to represent my love for them, and they'd be something known well enough within the fandom that anyone who saw said ornament and shared my connection would instantly know that we had a bond. There are t-shirts and other such items of merchandise, yes, but there's something powerful and almost religious-seeming about a pendant that I like. T-shirts seem to say, "This is my fandom"; something that looks more like jewellery seems to say, "This is a devotion for me; this is a big part of my life".

Idle musings, yes. I'm endeavouring to ramble more on Stuff That Is Of Pertinence To Me, whether or not it's really a discussion-worthy topic or a novel idea. My simple thoughts, my feelings, my inclinations, have a place here too.

Comments

( 25hp damage — Attack! )
frameacloud
Mar. 14th, 2008 05:05 am (UTC)
Speaking of which, you have seen this especially remarkable triforce tattoo, I hope?
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)
That is pretty darn nifty! (If slightly wobbly at the bottom.) I like the shading.

I presume you knew I have one, too? :) That's from when I first got it done, but it still looks wonderful.
frameacloud
Mar. 14th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
Yours is also a wonderful triforce tattoo. :) Very solar.
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 05:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! I was really pleased with how it came out. It's also a great thing to show people after they've oohed and aahed over my Nintendo wallet (which draws a scary amount of oohs and aahs for something I just picked up at Hot Topic several years ago, love it to bits as I do).

It also means I never really have to buy any of the fancy Zelda t-shirts that come out, since having a Triforce inked into your arm makes them redundant somewhat.

Solar? ...do not make me think along the lines of getting a Sun Rune tattoo. Do not. I am strong.
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
Also, still on the subject, your icon is a thing of nifty. Can I ask the inspiration?
frameacloud
Mar. 14th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
This one, with the caveman drawing aurochs in an old computer monitor? Thanks! As for the inspiration... I dunno, I just drew it one time. It's symbolic and stuff.

It's supposed to mean something about how humans and technology do/don't fit together. One of the problems is that some technology is so new that our culture doesn't fit with it yet. We don't even have etiquette about, say, cell phones ingrained into us. Most new tech hasn't gained the mythic resonance of older machines. There are all these gods and saints who are patrons of traditional agricultural equipment... and think of all the folk tales about spinning wheels. We don't have many stories like that about computers or even airplanes, aside from urban legends.

Humanity is still finding a place in itself for these new inventions. On a culture-wide, deep-down level, there are things that we don't get about them. Progress is going so fast that it might not be adequate to just wait for the understanding to sink in. We're still figuring them out, and we might have to really work at making them fit in.

We might even have to fake some things out, to help us understand. For example, devices that have been retrofitted and casemodded to look steampunk. Just for pretend, they're made to look like a family heirloom from the Victorian age. Something with history, style, social significance and value, made to last. It's not an ephemeral gadget that we use for a year and then set aside for a new one.

The picture also means that I smirk about how old, primitive, and obsolete some of my favorite computers and software are. (I never did have one that had a green-on-black color scheme, though! But I always thought it looked cool, and it's become a commonly-recognized symbol for "computer.") My view of material culture is itself from the Great Depression: I don't believe in throwing things away as soon as there's something newer and more fashionable. That's as bad as wasting food. If the device still works, then you keep using it.
luna_manar
Mar. 14th, 2008 09:48 am (UTC)
Out of curiosity, though I'm sure you've stated them before: what symbols in particular are meaningful to you?
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I don't think I have written about it too much, actually, and yay, interesting question!

I think more often it's that I like the idea of them and wish they existed for my fandoms than that I actually have too many that are strongly meaningful, since my fandoms tend not to have them. As overused as it is, I do still feel a connection to the symbology of the Triforce, which is why I have the tattoo; to me it stands for not just Zelda but classically heroically-oriented, brightly-coloured, hope-filled videogame worlds in general. My tattoo has "Forever Faithful" written over it in fan-Hylian, which is a truncation of the lyric "Forever Faithful to the Land of Legend", and that's really what the Triforce stands for for me; the Land of Legend, not just Hyrule but the meta-concept of epic, fantastical lands, places where our ideals, our hopes and dreams, are rooted.

As mentioned below, Lucia's pendant from Lunar 2 was a big symbol to me for a while; it was representative to me of the connection between this world and Lunar that existed through the hearts and minds of everyone who was devoted to it, and I really did (and still do) see that pendant as an artifact from that world.

The Rune sigils from Suikoden are meaningful to me, as symbolic of the Runes themselves and their bearers, and if I wanted a symbol to represent my connection to someone who'd borne a Rune, I would likely use the Rune sigil (though that gets a little confusing when there are multiple bearers).

In short, symbols are... more something I wish I had more of in my life than something I do have, I think. They're not as common in my fandoms as they could be.

I'm also, relatedly (at least it's related to me) fond of otherworldly scripts and languages, in the same sense that they feel like something from that world that only people who know the world would understand. I am incredibly enamoured of the Falenan script on the Suikoden V world map that's printed in some of the artbooks, and really wish I had a font/full character set of it.
luna_manar
Mar. 14th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
I should find you a character map of the Luminoth alphabet. It's one of my favorite things in Metroid Prime 2. It's actually a _3-dimensional_ language, a concept I think is fascinating and the fact we as humans still don't use one indicates to me just how two-dimensionally humans as a whole still think.
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
...three-dimensional language?

Okay, I'm sold. I just have to know how this works.
luna_manar
Mar. 14th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
I will attempt to remember tonight to hook up my lunchbox to my computer so I can take some screen shots (that's the only place I've been able to find diagrams of the language).
frameacloud
Mar. 14th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
Whoa! I want to hear about this, too! I'd drawn sketches for a conlang that is read three-dimensionally by aliens with X-ray vision, so they have some really weird reading directions in their books. (They read front to back, straight through the book like an arrow; then left to right, top to bottom.) I didn't know anybody had made something like that already.
xyzzysqrl
Mar. 14th, 2008 10:31 am (UTC)
I still wear Lucia's Pendant from Lunar 2. I sometimes wonder if this makes me a dork.
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
...awww, it totally does not! Or at least, no more than me. I went through a long period of wearing it all the time, as it happens. it really did feel like I was wearing an artifact from that world.
seirai
Mar. 14th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
Aww, that's awesome. It's so heavy, though - did you get a thicker cord, or just get used to it? x_x
luna_manar
Mar. 14th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
I used to wear the Griever pendant everywhere I went for 5 years. It did get very heavy, but I couldn't stand the idea of taking it off, so I just wore it...the end result being that my shoulders actually got stronger after a while. Either I had really weak shoulders to start with or it really was a very heavy article. :P
frameacloud
Mar. 14th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
Lifting weights...
Wearing jewelry...
llieno
Mar. 14th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Heehee, I design loads of symbols, flags and the like for my various fictions. It's great fun :)
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
Yay! It is. Designing things like that, along with intricate cultural details in general, is something I enjoy more than writing the actual stories the worlds are based on. Worldbuilding is love!
llieno
Mar. 14th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
Very true. My scribbles during lectures have included map snippets, fake languages, names of cities, and so on. I know it's odd, but still.

Esecially the tendancy for certain things to linger. I once designed an archipeligo (I know I spelt that wrongly) based loosely off Northern Europe, and one area was split between two countries. This area, Vorn, had its own independence movement, whose motto was 'Praeva Vorn!' (liberate Vorn). The rest of the islands have all faded from my memory, but Vorn, its language and its flag have all lingered on.
seirai
Mar. 14th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
I always end up wanting my favourite characters, my favourite concepts and ideas and parts of my fandoms, to have representative symbols. I'd want to wear them as pendants or pins, some kind of jewellery, to represent my love for them, and they'd be something known well enough within the fandom that anyone who saw said ornament and shared my connection would instantly know that we had a bond.

Oh, yes, me too. Specifically, I want symbols that are recognizable by people who know the reference, and not just know -of- it, like the logo of a game on a button... These things are good, too, but they don't convey depth the same way...

(I support your endeavor. :) )
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
(Yay! :)

And yes, agreed. People who recognise exactly what that specific symbol means... not just that it's a reference to something, but what it means.

I've been turning over in my head the idea of making my own symbols for significant concepts and moments. Maybe people will take them up.
seika
Mar. 14th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
seta_suzume said she'll do a Liberation Army flag commission for me. :)
eclective
Mar. 14th, 2008 10:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow! That is nifty and wonderful and shiny! I didn't know she did cosplayesque stuff. ^^

That's awesome news. I can't wait to see. :)
seirai
Mar. 14th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, shiny! ^^
( 25hp damage — Attack! )

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