Thursday, April 27, 2017

Let’s Give It Some Chaos!

A lifetime ago I used to love Role-playing games, it was a teenage obsession of mine. I used to collect a magazine called White Dwarf and study the articles religiously. I loved the idea of fantasy worlds and escapism because, as a bullied teenager, I longed to escape. I also enjoyed the notion of the game. To me role-play was best when it was a group of people lost in an imaginary world. We were playing games like children play only adults aren’t allowed, so we make up rules. We used the Warhammer Fantasy rule book as a guide and there were no lead figures or anything like that. Our weekly engagments were pure cerebral adventures. It involved acting, playing, escapism but most of all it was bloody good fun (and the players included two huge hairy bikers who were abslutely mental, so erase the stereotype of geeky role-play gamers from your mind please). 

Now a symbol that arose a lot in Warhammer and still does is this:

It is a symbol for chaos, sometimes the points radiate from an open circle too. It was something that appealed to this youngster. And I still feel a  bit feverish when I see it these days. Of course in Warhammer it’s used to represent the forces of chaos. Everytime I carve it it sells instantly. Why? Because it’s a great symbol for a great theme. Chaos. However the motif's origins are interesting. The Chaos star was designed by Michael Moorcock, the author of the Elric Sagas and such. In fact it originates from his Eternal Champion series. The idea is ingeniously simple, the arrow reflects the direction of possibilties branching from the source. It’s a neat piece of imagery, which ties in with elements of chaos theory. Moorcock’s influence is deep and if you like bands such as Hawkwind then you’ll be familar with his ideas. 

Ok, but what the hell is chaos anyway?

Well chaos has been a buzz word over the latter half of the 20th century due to discoveries in quantum physics and dynamic systems, such as the weather, turbulence etc. I’ll paste some links to further your study of inquiry should you wish to expand your mind some. In Grecian myth Kaos was the first thing, from which came everything else. In fact many myths and religions follow this theme. As mentioned in the Serpent Post - the whole concept of  a sky god beating down a serpent monster can be interpreted as order triumphing over chaos. However chaos is never defeated, modern quantum physics kind of illustrates this fact: through chaos comes order, comes chaos then order. Look at any fractal such as the infamous Mandelbrot set and this is visually highlighted over and over again. 

Think of it scientifically, you have the Big Bang, the entire universe comes into being from a single unique point. Everything goes nuts! A mass of elements in their prime are sent hurtling around, crashing into each other, exploding, mixing, stabilising  and gradually forming gaseous planets that begin to solidify, harmonise and settle… yet chaos still provides an interesting undercurrent. 

Again I find it amazing how this symbol has been adopted by many modern media outlets, Warhammer being the classic, but there are many other places where the symbol crops up, Halo for example, and even My Little Pony! Haha! So it just goes to show how symbols can easily work their way into society, almost assuming a life of their own (although there are sites that insist this is an ancient symbol of chaos, which is bull - but again is interesting how such notions develop).  For me, I just like it, the idea of chaos and, like Dee’s Monad, and the design is aesthetically pleasing. Sure it’s only been around for 50 years, but I’ve a feeling it will be around a lot longer. 


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