Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Civilitas Draconis

Perhaps it was rooted in my fondness for dinosaurs in the pre-Jurassic Park period when they were still underground, or perhaps it was the unpalatable rudeness of an armor-clad St George stabbing his lance through the heart of a scaled, winged Teuton engaged in pathetic imitation of flight, or perhaps it was just the broader human psychological imperative to root for the underdog at play, but irrespective of the underlying cause, the result has always been and still is an overweening adoration of Dragonkin that borders on the fanatical but is grounded securely in reason.

Some have gadgets, others have teddy bears, yet others have cats or dogs. I have dragons, or perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that dragons have me. Indeed, my chief complaint with the otherwise entertaining How to Train Your Dragon (IMDB) was that dragons are neither pests nor pets and the movie misrepresented them. 

"You don't domesticate dragons, man." I say outside the theater, "You admire it, maybe you worship it, you wish you were one, but you don't tame them." 

My friends are silent. Then, "You don't anything them; they're not real."

"That's irrelevant!" I shout. "You can't portray dragons as a bunch of oppressed slave-sheep happy to be liberated from their own kind."

"It was a good movie, man." Comes their wearied plea, "Let it go."

I think myriad reasons why the portrayal of Dragonkin in that movie is simplistic enough to be racist. Then I listen in on my own thoughts and laugh and let it go.

Nor does this extend only to Western/European ideas of Dragonkin: there is nothing like the sight of a serpentine Chinese Dragon winding across the street careening towards oneself every now and again to say "Happy New Year!" and really believe it and mean it and know it.

I remember one of my first job interviews (I've had a lot of job interviews), in which I was asked what animal I would be if I could be any animal. I said, with the impertinent finality of an auctioneer's gavel, "Dragon." and then proceeded to explain my choice, "Sure, there's the fire-breath, and that's neat but there's so much more." I said. 

"The magical prowess, for one, demonstrations of which are limited only by the one's sense of proportion," I paused. They were looking at me with uncertain eyes. They glanced at one another, then back at me, "Please continue," the lady said. I was relieved and did, "Then there's the wisdom of the ages that comes from living forever or very nearly forever and ignoring the trivial and realizing, really realizing, the value of things in all time and space."

"What about the greedy adventurers that come a-knockin' for your head?" The other lady said with the smile of a greedy adventurer.

"It would keep me on my toes;" I replied, "even apex predators need exercise. And that hoard of treasure won't amass itself, plus it beats going around looking for food and sport on my own to boot!"

This went on for quite some time, but try as that party of five might, my answer was watertight as only large cold-blooded, flying reptiles can be. There is no argument to be made against the fantastic alchemy of longevity coupled with power and tempered with wisdom. "How does it end?" The guy asked with a hint of exasperation in his voice. "Oh, that's simple; they're alright." I said by way of explanation. They thanked me for my time and, needless to say, despite my parents' misgivings when I gave them this account of the interview, I got the job and turned them down.

There are many great songs about Dragonkin, both allegorical and real - insomuch as it is possible for imaginary creatures to be real. One of my favorites  is Dragon by Tori Amos (also my third-favorite Tori Amos song, by the way) from the American Doll Posse album. Tori is another of those phenomena: humanitarian, bewitchingly beautiful, part-Cherokee, possessed of varied temperament and nuanced outlook, terribly talented, allegedly bisexual; add to all this that she sings against Dragonicide and I'm SOLD!

I asked Epic Records to put up a video of the studio version on Youtube but they did not respond. Here's a great live performance of the song (Youtube). 

Oh, you're welcome, of course, don't mention it, or do - why not?

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