May 22nd, 2006

Dance

Form vs. Fact

It's 3:33 in the goddamn and I'm not sleepy so we're going to go on a little aesthetic and metaphysical discussion and see if anything comes of it. Maybe even sleep.

I had two discussions tonight relating to the nature of form. Neither was about form per se, but it was stil the heart of the matter. The first such discussion was with lex_of_green regarding Nightcrawler in the X-Men movies. While his most defining physical trait in X2 is his blue skin, his most defining trait is the myriad of angelic symbols he has scarred himself with. Miss Green was of the opnion they made him more attractive while I was of the opinion they made him creepy and were not attractive in the least.

The problem is were seeing the scars in two different ways: to paraphrase Robert Pirsig, she was seeing what they were, I was seeing what they meant. To her they were works of art, intricate designs created with great skill and integrated into his permanent physicality. To me they were the result of self-mutilation and self-deprication, a constant source of pain and an undeserved sense of failure ("One for every sin.").

This does bring up another issue of self-decoration, namely tattooing. Tattoos are prohibited biblically because God calls them self-mutilation. Now clearly I don't believe this or I wouldn't be considering getting one but it does mean I need to justify how Nightcrawler's intricate scarring is mutilation and tattooing isn't. The solution lies in the purpose of either act: Nightcrawler scars himself to punish himself and feel pain while a tattoo is created for artistic reasons or spiritual ones. Now I admit that Nightcrawler chose to scar himself with agnelic script as opposed to simple cuts for spiritual reasons but those are peripheral; the scarring is still at its heart a negative mark, while the tattoo is positive.

The other discussion with draconicmist was about purchasing swords. This was not a disagreement but different views. Now I love swords. They are beautiful and truly awe-inspiring. Well-forged steel is a marvel and when I look at an artfully-forged blade I can easily understand why ancient cultures considered swordmaking a holy craft. Back in highschool I surreptitiously collected swords. When I left for college, however, I got rid of the majority of my collection. This was the result of an appreciation for the fact that the weapons I'd collected were not swords but rather sword-shaped sharpened pieces of metal. They were poorly-forged "wall hangers" that would not stand up to actual use.

But why should that matter? I have no intention of getting into a fight, but if I were it is unlikely swords would play a role. Why should it matter if the weapons I own are combat capable?

The answer is that simply anything else is not a sword. Technically it may be a sword but it's meaning is not that of a sword. As fond as I am of saying a sword is the only weapon whose only purpose is to kill but that is simply not true. A sword is the only weapon whose original only purpose was killing but we found other tasks for it. Quite simply, a sword cuts. It cuts flesh, true, but it cuts illusion, it cuts the soul. A bokken is a sword despite the fact it is wood, it's purpose being to cut through ignorance and distraction. The purpose of a wall hanger, however, is to look pretty. That makes it a sculpture, not a sword.

I would like to own swords again one day, but real swords.
Dance

Mage

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