Thursday, May 2, 2013

Idolatry, Iconoclasm and Familiars


The universe has, of late, felt the need to prevent me writing this shit which I get a kick out of writing, preferring to compel me to write grant applications for ecological restoration projects which are infinitely more noble but not so thrustingly glorious.

When I was at the world's third shittiest art school, being fed forty-year-old French theory by jaded generics and being too naive and lazy to know I was being fucked or do anything about it I came to be aware of the importance people attribute to the primacy of the male gaze. Much later I came to the conclusion that whoever said words to the effect of;  - "when you pull down the staues of the tyrannical regime keep the pedestals, they will come in handy" - may have understood precisely how pertinent that statement was to almost all examples of iconoclasm. Every iconoclastic act produces a vacuum of precisely the right shape to accomodate another idolatry. Ironically enough the iconoclast is frequently able to produce just such an idolatry they've prepared earlier to cram into that space.

And so it goes on, because sooner or later someone is going to recognise the valuable habitat occupied by the new idolatry and find reason to seek its overthrow. Icons have the potential to completely dominate the thinking of individual humans, the conservatising forces of groupthink and cognitive dissonance compel those individuals to band together to defend their arbitrary nexus 'gainst the forces of not-the-same. There was frequently, in the Pleistocene, significant survival value in the hooting and the launching of fecal projectiles at those whose idolatries marked them out as not-the-same because there were not many other countermeasures against the inevitable dawn raid. Nowadays it's either inane self-aggrandising or nakedly groping after power.

Icons, in and of themselves, cannot hurt people. It doesn't matter if they are representations of the most offensive thing in the world, provided you are given the opportunity to not look at them they are just another irrelevant configuration of atoms or memes. In a world where there are still clitorodectomies and sow-stalls and irreversible trophic cascades leading towards mass extinction the existence of imagery that reflects the sexuality of the apes we cannot be other than is only significant to those who've got an agenda. The agenda is always power, which means evolutionary fitness, which means a tribe that is out there waiting to coalesce around your idea and give you the status you need to secure long-term survival for your germline. Because that is all there is. Isn't it?

I hold to these notions in spite of the fact I am a socially fossorial entity, nervously cleaving close to a monolithic edifice of cultural artifice that comforts me and engaging in a set of signal scrambling behaviours that are the verbal equivalent of aposematism. The presence of others abrades my consciousness, especially those who bear the insignia of the awareness of social status. I consciously feel pricklingly pained by status anxiety and mask it with petulant suppressed urge to do violence and am thus fey beyond furtiveness.

So I understand iconoclasm as a visceral thing. I empathically understand it and at the same time am able to see it rendered explicable by the idiotic machinery we keep in our chromosomes. I still think it's simultaneously repugnant and foolish to be unable to extricate aesthetic stimuli from unethical actions and to embrace this illusion of equivalency to the extent that it enables you to justify persecution of people and the infringement of their liberties.








Vania Zouravliov is a sorceror




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Familiar Hirelings: That number in the book or character sheet next to your charisma score that says max. retainers or whatever is the most awesome of numbers because it not only ennumerates your quota of spear-chuckers and lampadarii but also describes how big a menagerie of weird little entities you can accrue. I can imagine this fluff-slot being filled with a bewilderingly large variety of things, from heraldic ikons to sainted ancestor-shades to gnomic formulae personified. I'd imagine it would be useful to restrict access based upon class and languages to keep things interesting.

So for Cunning Folk (I've recycled concepts from this stuff in the dwarfs post but this came first and is really here for JOESKY because diatribes become dreary without respite);

1. Reinhardt, a Pure White Fox as old as the hills who sleeps constantly in a sack, can usually be relied upon to know the way (1-3 on d6).

2. Haruspex Cormorant with a golden band around her neck, speaks in a croaky voice in the language of the Wild, predicts the future from fish guts.

3. Brueghel the Brown-Cap, a sullen mossy brownie in a piebald dogskin coat, throws stones, speaks the Fey Tongue.

4. Black Anders, A boggart that lives in one’s shadow, can do adequate hedge magick if fed toenails and skin.

5. Griping Huldra, a belligerent cow-tailed scullion the size of a housecat, cooks nutritious fare for one from silverfish and peat and dust and glamour. 1 in 6 chance of being in an uncooperative mood.

6. Gloat the Paddock, a noxious one-eyed toad, fairly useless but may be licked daily for astonishing insight accompanied by crippling bowel cramps.

14 comments:

  1. Is your introductory essay related to something in particular or just a gneral observation?

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  2. I was inspired in part by Zak's ongoing conflicts with what we in Australia call wowsers and also by religious persecutions and classical iconoclasms. I have a general theory that iconoclasm and idolatry are the fundamental forces that shape our cultural reality and are associated with the foundation and dissolution of social groups. I reckon there are underlying tidal forces at play here.

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    1. Those people are pedantic morons but how are they persecuting people or infringing their liberties? Seems like they are doing the same thing you're doing: insulting people who have different interests to you.

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    2. Censorship = removal of an individual's capacity to freely express themselves and potentially a curtailing of their capacity to pursue a living.

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  3. I would link this next time there was a dust up if I thought any of them were smart enough to be able to get it.
    The JOESKY tax familiars are getting stolen immediately. They deserve to get used.

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    1. I don't envy you that role but I reckon you handle things admirably

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  4. Man if you are masking something with an urge that is itself supressed then that is some crazy shit going on in your head.

    I had to look up 'Aposematism' but now that I read it I recall that I have myself mastered the ability to emit a contstant stream of fuckoffitrons, an invisible particle that makes people leave you alone. And which I cannot now shut down.

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    1. Yeah, I get a very keen sense of familiarity reading your accounts of how you relate to people. I exaggerate for effect and have grown out of the worst of my aspie-fugue but during the times I am out of serotonin and all prickly with cortisol all the things I say are laden with the subtext of "I am incapable of dealing with this interaction, withdraw".

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  5. I'm reading from work so I'm just going to say yes to everything you said you wordy marvel, and "1 in 6 chance of being in an uncooperative mood." tickles me.

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  6. The familiar hirelings is like a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick smashing my brain. I like it that much.

    I can imagine icons being the cause, rather than the effect. Sort of the spontaneous semiotic ejecta of a culture going through some major changes.

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    1. Thanks Arnold. I'm not sure I get your meaning here RE: icons.

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  7. So glad I stumbled across this blog, what a wealth of thoughts and ideas. I hope you get a chance to actually run this campaign. The concept of character accumulating strange companions and odds & ends is a gripping one. I can see adventuring parties disbanding over time as each member pursues their o madness and obsessions, accompanied only by their demented camp followers.

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  8. I just put this in a joesky tax retrospective: http://blogofholding.com/?p=6863

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