Quonans: Conan Issue #3

“As if armor would stall off Death, if he called my name!” Dunlang

As you read this, realize that we are all Greek heroes in the midst of living out our own legends. Unless either you or I are dead. If I’m dead then, presumably, this section of my myth has been mapped and I (mayhap) pursue another segment of the drama. If you are dead and reading this, then congratulations on adding a new dimension to our topic of death and exploration.

Over the past few days, death has colored my perceptions. Not for any macabre reason, I just had picked the above quote to inspire my next blog so it’s made those places and times where the subject has evidenced itself just really pop, ya know?

A key moment was my introduction to the word “catabasis” while watching a Netflix series (if you know the one, feel free to leave the name in the comments… but no spoilers, please!). It is a word which may be used to encapsulate a trip into the metaphysical underworld, often involving a search for an object or important revelation. I began thinking in terms of this method of questing and wondering how one might capture it and embark upon something similar in the real world setting.

As a lucid dreamer with a large degree of control over my own dreamscapes, I thought of using my dreams to reproduce this journey. However, I like to let my dreams pretty much do what they will, so I decided against this idea. My random researching brought me to a splice of the internet dedicated to the topic of the Thudong monks, in which the practice of corpse meditation was mentioned. Interesting though it was, it was not the direction I quite looked to take (consider that a disclaimer if you go clicking on hyperlinks for it, btw). It had occurred to me that reading some Zen death poems may be the way to go, thinking that the closest to speaking to the dead one might come is to reading the last poetic verses penned by the dying.

Somewhere around there is where it finally occurred to me.

The underworld is supposed to be a place where the personalities of those who have peopled Earth continue to persist. In the mythical sense, it is used as a backdrop for discovery, one in which those life-lost entities may still be interacted with. If we deduct the metaphysical aspect of the underworld model out, focus on these traits, then one may come to the conclusion that the living (such as the likely readership of this post) are actually in the Underworld.

Contemplate how the stories (real and imagined) of our ancients all the way up to ancestors temporally close as your own mother and father still inspire and frighten us. Every superstition we hold to, every science that has happened between fire and computer configuration, all the small nuances of our mannerisms, each and every one is an accumulation of past superstition, science, and mannerism.

We are the confluence of all the eons of humanity: the ghosts of memory preach to us and we practice out the points in their sermons. Even to turn from those points is merely a departure inspired most often by the very existence of those past thoughts.

If we choose to view life through this lens, what lesson does it provide about our lives? I think that it suggests we should recognize that our existence is itself a search for an object or an idea of infinite importance to our own personal plots. I believe that it implies those remnants of our human past which remain incarnate in superstition, science, mannerism and any other facets of the human condition are to be seen as tools through which we might accomplish the goal of our quest – learning the lesson that is our own.

And, with that, I leave you to draw your own conclusions and, perhaps, recognize the rich landscape rendered by death when it is viewed as if it were the underlying swaths of an oil painting being birthed into the masterpiece called “life”.

Also, here are the words and blurbs I found poignant in Conan #3, “The Grim Grey God”:

  • [the rearing mountains]
  • “Now comes the reaping of kings.. the garnering of chiefs like a harvest.” Borri
  • “gigantic shadows stalk red-handed across the world” Borri
  • “the kiss of a devil-born queen!” Malachi
  • “fire-fingered dawn” King Brian
  • “As if armor would stall off Death, if he called my name!” Dunlang
  • “And so the old send forth the young to die… while they make merry in their tents. Back in Cimmeria, our kings lead the charge… their broadswords in their hands. Maybe that’s because we’re not… civilized.” Conan
  • “for this is the day the raven’s drink blood!” Dunlang
  • “He cannot be dead. Live, you spineless worm… Live! LIVE!” [But there is no answer… unless one counts the mocking silence.]
  • [two cups of hatred suddenly run over]
  • “You’ll not add Brian’s lifeblood to your war-god’s goblet.” King Brian
  • “For even the gods must die… when their altars crumble… and their worshippers all are fallen.” Conan

I would like to show my appreciation to the following new followers for their following-ness:

Christine Wild with her blog book (a blook?) and sifumosher who, incidentally, used his blog to spur on writing a book as well which is now published! 🙂 Thank you for subscribing!

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Quonans: Conan Issue #2

I pray you have a soul… that it may drift and mutter forever in some… hell! – Conan

The Edge of Vengeance

Prayer one might have a soul that they may reap the consequences of their negative performances in life through eternal torment seems counter to the more benevolent principles of our spiritual disciplines. At the same time, if we think over the evolution of religious thought and the condition it springs from (that arguably being humanity; we’ll stay judgment on the inherent influence of the divine for the purpose of this post), it seems sensible that there would be a form of ‘punishment’ within these traditions. 

I would argue that vengeance is a semblance of humanity at its earliest stage of social development. Before we began arguing over the ethical applications of everything from arms to abortion to taxes, prior to nations, or the rise and fall of Atlantis as it were, there was the human. The individual, an entity which at first aligned only with a smallish number of other similarly endowed entities for the purposes of protection and comfort.

Law was in his/her hands or her/his hands, whichever makes you happier (I leave it in your hands, once again).

Consequence and punishment were doled out by a scant number of individuals, probably more or less being both pronounced and acted out by the same person or people who declared the outcome in the first place. Can you imagine the severe stratification of this prehistoric incarnation of law? With that group over there, you couldn’t eat dog; with another you couldn’t touch another person while they knelt; that one over there has a tremendous problem with the word ‘Ug!’ being used in their presence. It’s no wonder we began civilization – scrapping the minutia of codes and seeking to create one overarching one that at least a majority of some people group could agree upon had to be freeing to a certain extent. Of course, it also had to be imprisoning.

When humanity began giving over the enactment of punishment at the personal level and took to what we might call a ‘political’ one, they ceded away abilities which came as a matter of course for their nature. For lack of a more apt reference, Malcolm Reynolds’ “Someone tries to kill you, you try to kill them right back!” could no longer be the mantra of the unit unless it was the mantra of the whole.

So, why does a punishment that follows you into the grave make sense in a developmental way? Why did we once again spring a step, climbing from political to ‘providential’?

I think it’s because it’s a ready salve for the angry conscience, the one that knows it has had its personality violated in a way shape or form by another personality, yet has chosen to maintain the balance created by civilization. In other words: What I will not punish for society and society will not punish for me, some justice in the universe will react on behalf of so that my dignity is not injured while I take the higher ground and support the social system I live in.

All-in-all, I don’t think it’s a bad trade. I like religion – it gives you a reference to live your internal life within. I like laws – they give you a reference you can live your external life within. Ultimately, I’m happy to see the integrity of both maintained. As for the natural state of a person, their individual right as a member of existence to mete out judgment? Well, that’s a topic for another time when we’re not just treading our words over the edge of vengeance…

 

Great quotes, snippets, and the like from Conan #2 “Lair of the Beast-Men”

  • [great sword-like spires, straining upward to fence with stalactite spears]
  • [Conan’s cobra-quick answer comes not in words…]
  • “Perhaps blood is the price you must pay — to be free.” Conan
  • [What Conan’s mind cannot accept… Conan’s body will not yield to]
  • “Death! But not until he begs it – till a sword thrust is his most fervent prayer.” Beast King
  • “Too long have I been thrall to a dream… as much as to the Beast-Men. From this hour, I shall be slave to neither.” Kiord
  • “I pray you have a soul… that it may drift and mutter forever in some… hell!” Conan

 

Also, as an appreciation to new subscribers, I’m going to try mentioning them at the end of blogs along with links to their blogs if I can. So, thank you for subscribing Timothy Pike and Jaroslaw! Please follow the hyperlinks to see their work as well. Cheers!

Short Breath for Longwinded Wednesdays #1

breeze

“Bent in the Breeze” by Soundninjauk

I like seeing people’s work come to fruition and being able to be a part of the process (as emotional support, a financial backer, or an integral participant) is just a natural position for me to gravitate towards – it just brings balance to my universe. That said, when I found myself commiserating with other hitrecord artists over long text RECords being passed over for more quickly consumed artistic fare, I decided to dedicate a day to reading long RECords. I made a collaboration for it and people have been getting the joy of reading and having their stuff read one or two hearts more often since. In honor of a tradition I’d like to see spread throughout the whole hr-sphere, I hope to dedicate blog posts (at least from time-to-time) to the pieces I’ve read on my own literary excursions during the weekly reading holiday I have dubbed “Longwinded Wednesdays”. Packed with quotes, new words, and whatever else I want, I’ll ramble (or “give a short breath”) about something the blog inspired me towards for a few minutes and give you a link to the piece for you to be inspired, too. This week’s ‘short breath’ is about…

 

My Cat’s a Character

 

I have a cat named Spike who has a cow-colored coat, a caveman’s attitude, and paws so big they absorb human hands like a flashlight beam being lost in space. His theme song is that whistling one you hear in Clint’s ‘Man With No Name’ westerns, only with “Meow Meow Meoooooow” tacked onto the end for feline effect. He has given one of my roommate’s nightmares, scared another bad enough they drew a gun on him, and sent me to the hospital.

In short, I love my cat. BaneCat will never have anything on my cat. He’s as close as I’ll ever come to having a tiger or lion because he’s as close as you can get to having one without really endangering your life.

All I’ve said above comes with a mixture of hyperbole and with just enough of the surrounding facts trimmed to accentuate the badass atmosphere that exudes from my cuddly, big ol’, burly, bullying beast of whiskery wuv, but I do so with a purpose.

My cat has a personality and is a character, but to himself he may or may not be the character I’ve developed in my mind. He lives up to it pretty well – he definitely fits the name he was given before I got him – but where ‘who’ he is begins with himself and where ‘who’ he is begins with me is difficult to say. I mean, he can’t talk (okay, okay, I’ll give BaneCat one advantage over him), so he can’t exactly prove that he doesn’t sound like a Russian Mr. T when he speaks. Unfortunately, I also can’t explain to him how much I enjoy being able to grant him this possibly entirely fictionalized persona.

Why is doing that such an enjoyable thing – to extrapolate from another being the dialogue it might have with you if it could have dialogue? I’m no psych major or degree holder, so I don’t know and, ultimately, it matters little if I ever do. I just hope that you get the chance to lapse into the joys of this particular version of diversion, this particular compound of self-propelled entertainment sometime, too.

 

This blurb was brought to you by Faeries by Nick DeAugustine. Here are a few things from the RECord I really liked:

  • [Twilight’s wan glow playing off pools of water collected on the forest floor.]
  • *petrichor – a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather
  • [a complex language that all living things once knew – have always known – comprised of feelings, images, and – oddly enough – scents.]
  • [I watch idly as people report about the terrible things happening in the world. So much pain everywhere. No ice or snow on the roads, that’s all I needed to hear.]
  • [But this cat is, for a lack of better words, fucking gorgeous. He’s just got the prettiest face, as only rare mixed breeds can randomly have sometimes. So I let him follow me into the house so he can enjoy the warmth for a minute. My son dubbed him ‘Bogey’ years before–alluding to some frisbee golf term apparently–but this cat has that kind of attitude that makes you want to talk to him like a human. As if his name is, I dunno, Bob; a shrewd fellow from the Bronx with gumption and a wry sense of humor. He’d likely be chewing on a fat cigar. Affable enough, but you could never let yourself get too close–either personally or in proximity–because you weren’t quite sure if you could trust him or not. I had scratches on the back of my hand that proved the latter.]
  • [whatever it is cats get interested in when it looks like they’re chasing ghosts]
  • [a strange feeling of dread crept across my skin like sweat on a summer day]

Writing — Deity and the Fire-Bristled Brush

Jofiel-1213818

If you’ve never heard of the site www.hitrecord.org, then I consider myself lucky to be granted a first opportunity at introducing you to it. The site was developed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an online community where artists of various types (musicians, writers, illustrators, dancers, anything under the sun) may come and post work for critique and reuse. The site has had several projects from their Tiny Book of Tiny Stories series to an entire television season that appeared on Pivot (with a second season in the making right now, I might add). It’s free to join, though I will caution that it is a business and any work you upload becomes jointly yours and theirs — in other words, read the fine print when you sign up and only add content you’re comfortable with sharing rights to.

I say all this to intro my first writing piece for this blog. One of the projects they are working on is a show dedicated to Fire and the development of a creation myth with fire as the central element. A friend of mine from the site put a post up with an idea that maybe the myth would be about fire meaning something different than just the physical element… something a bit more metaphysical in nature.

Last night, while driving at 3:30am, inspiration hit me and it was all I could do to stay on the road for an hour rather than pull off somewhere to write it down (if you’re a creative type, you know what kind of trial it can be to hold onto the slippery beast of inspiration). The text itself is fairly simple, but I think myths are often best when rendered in such language. I hope that you enjoy the concept as much as I did whether the writing is especially beautiful or not. Before I begin, I would like to remark that the extraordinary image above is representative of art you would find on hitrecord. Also, if you’d like to look at my original uploaded version of this piece on the main website feel free to look here and, if you’re inclined to join yourself, maybe even giving it a ‘heart’ and a comment. And, now, to the making of myths:

 

Deity and the Fire-Bristled Brush

*Were I a man living in another time, before I were in the position to have been exposed to the beliefs that I hold now, this may have been a conversation between myself and a fictitious child of my own…

CHILD:

Father, how was humankind made?

ME:

Long ago, before all the things that you see around you were common, the Maker was and, surrounding the Maker, nothing was. On all sides it was Void; shapeless; colorless; senseless. Or senseless it would have been to all, but the Maker. Like you, the Maker could see all the things that you now know to be common. Though then they were not there, but merely an idea of things that could be there. And would be there, as far as the Maker was concerned.

Possessed with crafts and cleverness beyond our scope, the Maker yielded a length of its own bone and shorn away the long locks of its own lustrous hair. Securing the mane to the haft of ivory by thongs made from those same fibers, the Maker had made the first thing we mortals know it to ever have made: the fiery-bristled brush which has sometimes been called by humanity ‘Creation’…

With it, the Maker scorched out stars in the Void, so white with heat that they still sizzle there today. The Maker cut out shadows from the Void and then, inspired by the diverse shapes, burned into existence the very objects and beings from which those shadows might have derived their shape. Once the fiery-bristled brush had hewn these things, its light was used to swath all present with colors, a myriad, some so intense that only the eyes of the divine can see them.

At last, the Maker saw the world as it had imagined it: a spectrum of creatures, infinite hues, a collection of life. And, yet, life was not yet there. Though trees and flowers swayed in the newborn breeze, clouds boasted their dominion of the sky, and mortalkind with beast both roamed the diverse terrains… there was not life. For all the things that the Maker had brought into existence had been made of the Void and, thus, composed of a vast and clinging emptiness.

The Maker called all of the fledgling creations to its side. The trees came, and the beasts, the women and men, everything. When all were gathered round the Maker, it sat down the fiery-bristled brush and ceded to creation that tool which is sometimes called Creation itself. The Maker bid that each present take a single bristle from the brush and add it to their being. Some creatures took little time in picking one of these and, having it in tow, returned to the world now able to shape things as they had once been shaped, if on a smaller scale. Others are more deliberating and, one-by-one, take a strand and return. To this day there are still creatures from the Maker’s original creation choosing what bristle they will claim and coming back with their elected strand to shape the world as well. This is how humankind was made and how it continues to be made, my child.

CHILD:

How do you know that, father? You were not there.

ME:

Oh, but I was, child, as were you. Though, even were I not, the bristle I picked from the brush was. And it is that strand which has fashioned with its own fire the words I have spoken to you. Be it blessed that the Maker made the bristle that has given this story to me for you to hear and know the truth of how we came to be. Praise the Maker that it was so wise as to know that it is the ability to create that is itself life

Quonans: Conan issue #1

Favorite Quote of the Post: The moon is a white, watching eye — the journey home is hard — and there are no realities worth the wishing, save food and a finely-wrought sword.

I have been collecting the Conan series that Marvel ran between 1970 and 1993 for 10+ years. A couple of weeks ago, I completed that collection by purchasing the last four of the 275 comics that I needed to have them all. Not only that, but I had the first issue of the series (which I bought last year) signed by the original writer, Roy Thomas, on the same day I finished the collection. It’s a small thing, not important on a global scale, not important on an eternal one. But our lives are often composed of “small things” and I can say that having achieved this one added a smile that I wouldn’t have otherwise unlocked for myself. I hope that you too have small things of giant consequence in your life and know what I’m talking about. One other achievement I unlocked, or at least the prospect of, was reading the series finally. At the time I started collecting, I had only read one of the comics – an issue my grandmother bought for me when I was a kid – and I made a vow I’d not read any of the others until I had them all. Probably sounds a bit nuts, investing a chunk of change into collecting something and not really letting yourself get an inkling of what it is you’re gaining until you’re already finished with the process. That’s another reflection on life though: you don’t usually know what you have until you actually have it. Fortunately, my patience and expenditure have proven well worth my effort. I took this last week off from work in order to begin reading the series. Nine days total to put a dent in it and I have enjoyed the experience to the utmost! I’ve only gotten as far as #47, learned that a concurrent series was ran with around 250+ issues, and thus know I have a long road ahead of me as a collector and a reader, but I’m up for the challenge. One aspect of the experience I had not originally intended came as the result of a request from one of my best friends, though. They ask that I keep track of cool quotes and I have faithfully done so, along with word choices I cited as interesting, a few stray words I didn’t know, some thoughts here and there, etc. Last but not least, that choice is responsible for this blog existing. So, without further ado, I give you a peek at the cobbling of quotes and cut out phrases that I found of interest to myself. I hope that you enjoy them as I have:

  • [Come with us, back to the dark centuries which sprawl between the sinking of Atlantis and the dawn of recorded time… [when] a man was worth no more than the strength of his sword-arm!]
  • [… the last traces of vagrant snow vanish like softly dying dreams on both mountain and plain…]
  • [the blood-eyed sun]
  • “My life is for me to give – not for you to take. And – I do not choose to give it.” – Conan
  • “Why should one lion die – and three jackals live?” Conan
  • [The next instant – a bolt of living lightning – and two men of Vanaheim shall never rise again — ]
  • “You pay… so you lead.” Conan
  • “Come… let’s see what lies beyond these stone portals.” Volff
  • “If the wolf be not home when you come to call, slay its pups!” Olav
  • [the thirst-crazed oceans drink the island men called Atlantis]
  • [a blazing paroxysm]
  • [Then, there is no more need for spoken words, for none are left alive to hear them.]
  • [night-winged thoughts]
  • [The moon is a white, watching eye — the journey home is hard — and there are no realities worth the wishing, save food and a finely-wrought sword.]