Archive for Conan

Advent Calendar Day 13: Lord of the Dance

Posted in Music, Religion with tags , , , , , on December 14, 2012 by bradellison

Weren’t expecting that, were you?  Not actually having anything to do with Ireland, the Celts, or Michael @#$%ing Flatley, “Lord of the Dance” borrows from the tune of the old Shaker dance tune “Simple Gifts” (which is not a hymn, for the record, although the Shakers didn’t draw a dividing line between the sacred and secular as near as I can tell), and was written by Sydney Carter. Spoiler alert, the titular Lord of the Dance is Jesus, not that Flatley guy, who as far as I know is a cool dude in person, so in the charitable spirit of the season we’ll just skip the insults and jokes at his expense that littered the first draft of this post.

But turning our attention back from my unfortunately being a sarcastic dick, here we have the a depiction of the Christ rooted in dance.  Not entirely defensible within the narrow confines of a literal reading of the Gospel, mayhaps, but how beautiful and appropriate an image it is!  It was God who made the stars into the first choir, and set the planets to dancing at the First Dawn, when all this wondrous universe exploded forth at His word.  FIAT LUX!  And so came the great bang, the thunderclap that yet resounds through every atom about and within us now!  I tend to imagine the Creation in imagery borrowed from Jack Kirby and Carl Sagan in equal measure, and the dance seems an ideal metaphor for the energy and rhythmic motion of the world around us.

Nietzsche, that mentally unwell curmudgeon with the stubbornly unspellable name, said he’d be a dancer if he couldn’t be a philosopher.  King David danced before the Ark of the Covenant.  Belit danced before Conan on the deck of her fearsome pirate ship in the age undreamed of, after the oceans drank Atlantis.  Even the Jets and Sharks at their most vicious found the purest expression of their rage in dance rather than in actual violence.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  All of them, and the pin’s dancing too.  The universe is dancing right now, and we’re dancing with it, and all that’s to the delight of the Lord of the Dance, who is the Lord of the Sabbath.  As his forefather David danced before the Ark, so Christ danced for the new Covenant.  Rejoice!

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Robert E. Howard Monday: The Shadow Kingdom

Posted in Words with tags , , , , on March 31, 2009 by bradellison

As he sat upon his throne in the Hall of Society and gazed upon the courtiers, the ladies, the lords, the statesmen, he seemed to see their faces as things of illusion, things unreal, existent only as shadows and mockeries of substance. Always he had seen their faces as masks, but before he had looked on them with contemptuous tolerance, thinking to see beneath the masks shallow, puny souls, avaricious, lustful, deceitful; now there was a grim undertone, a sinister meaning, a vague horror that lurked beneath the smooth masks. While he exchanged courtesies with some nobleman or councilor he seemed to see the smiling face fade like smoke and the frightful jaws of a serpent gaping there. How many of those he looked upon were horrid, inhuman monsters, plotting his death, beneath the smooth mesmeric illusion of a human face?

Kull, exiled barbarian warrior of Atlantis and King (by his own hand) of the unspeakably ancient and crumbling empire of Valusia, was the sword and sorcery hero who preceded Conan.  Indeed, as I’ve mentioned before, the last Kull story (“By This Axe I Rule!) was reworked into the first Conan story (“The Phoenix On the Sword”).

But Kull, unlike Conan, is a thinker.  While he is a warrior, and a barbarian, Kull prefers to ponder cosmic mysteries and converse with philosophers, whereas all the philosophy Conan needs is “I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”*

This propensity for contemplation and brooding gets him into a lot of trouble throughout the series, of course, but luckily Kull’s hetero lifemate Brule the Spear-slayer has his back.  (There are more potentially-homoerotic overtones in this story than there are in the Biblical account of David and Jonathan, and that’s saying something).  Brule, an untamed barbarian, provides a touchstone for Kull, a link back to the purity and strength of his savage upbringing, before the corrupting decadence of civilization got its hooks into him (Two-Gun Bob was not ambiguous in expressing how he felt about human civilization in general).  Brule is also a Pict, and thus Kull’s ancestral enemy (and part of the unbroken lineage that leads from the days before Atlantis rose, to the time after it fell, through the collapse of the Hyborian Age and on down through the generations until the last King Bran Mak Morn fell in battle against the Roman Legions), but that blood feud is forgotten in the face of the threat of FREAKING SERPENT MEN FROM THE AGE BEFORE TIME!

*Special bonus story: “The Queen of the Black Coast,” one of the best of the Conan yarns.

Monday Robert E. Howard: The Phoenix On the Sword

Posted in Words with tags , on March 10, 2009 by bradellison

Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars…

The first Conan story was a reworking of the last Kull story.  It was a tale of the great adventurer’s later days, long after he’d won his kingdom, and wore the crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow.  But even as a middle-aged monarch, Conan is still Conan.

What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
I, who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs–I was a man before I was a king.

So I was messing around with the Church Sign Generator…

Posted in movies, Religion with tags on February 16, 2009 by bradellison

…And decided to bring the religious controversies of the Hyborian Age into focus.

Church Sign Crom

Church Sign Sky