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shaper's vision


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in the beginning the dragon and i were split up - he got his place, and i got mine. there's no story behind it, no mystery or history, it is simply a fact that not even i could make up. you'll have to believe me.

he serves his purpose well, if i do say so. all the old truths that have stood the test of time meerly through the support of human butresses of belief - he brings them crashing! at least in his own head. it's a pity the humans won't listen to him. they fear he would bring down their treasured society, scatter their already whistful souls like so many grains of dust caught by a breeze. long ago the dragon gave up on the humans. they were intent on making sense out of a world without such a luxury. their early mythologies and religions, giving faces to forces to whom they caught then prey "please keep us alive!" the dragon would not stand for this. his dragon eyes showed him a world with little connection beyond the food chain, and even that didn't interest him much. it doesn't matter that he was right, about futility and all, and his own simplicity seemed rather appealing to me at times of weakness, but in the end he was never meant to lead the humans. he wanted to show people the stripped down version of the world, but people get cold when they're naked.

it's not that i think them fools. oh no. i actually depend on their eagerness to understand. it was me that they came to when crops died or lightning struck and the thunder sent them looking for someone to answer the question "why?"

it would be easy to say all i do is enpower them. give them explanations that allow them to sleep at night. sometimes i don't let them sleep. i feed them on bumps and howls in the night, don't answer things entirely, give them wonder instead of security. but in the end all i'm doing is feeding them, like a mother with thousands of sucklings.

sure, i've got power, but let me back up.

there are certain things in the universe which i didn't make up. like my seperation from the dragon, or the schism inside the humans between light and dark, or the dawning of fear. over these things i had no control. they are part of someone else's diabolical plan, in which i am merely another actor, albeit with a leading role.

my real name is history, or myth, or hope, sometimes even vision, whichever you please. i do not control people, i can't, because they are the ones who made me. for them i am connectedness. i draw the thin filaments and webs of lines between everything and everything else. well, not everything, but most things. i can only fight so hard against the dragon. he has been called truth (and i have been called lies), but it never sticks. he's more of a giant pair of scissors, or a void that obscures then dissolves my connections. to him the wonders of the world, the wheeling of stars, the death of a friend, are mindlessly mechanical. they are part of the universe's instincts. to this he is resigned, and he gathers his followers from those who are blind to me.

it is not that we are not friends, he just keeps me in check. you see, i was given as my home a sweet green valley, lush and warm. he was given a mountain-top cave. you should go there sometime - the walls are an ever churning display of colors and light, and from the entrance you can see the whole of the world. but to get there you must leave everything behind. the further and further you go the less and less you may carry until you are practically naked, if not entirely so. do not go with the intent to see the dragon - he's gotten crotchety from neglect - but do go for the view, for it is his real treasure. from there you can see the grand patterns made by mountains and rivers, waves upon the ocean, clouds alight in the sky. i'll warn you now though - you'll never be able to tell anyone about it with any sort of justice. it will take you a lifetime and then some. humans have gone up there, usually the weak looking for healing, and when they return to my valley they begin to weave, to weave what they had seen, what had so nicely been unraveled for them, and begin again the neverending story of truth, from a certain point of view.

i taught them to weave. i gave them imagination and deft fingers to take the dragon's purest silks and make with them pictures and stories that capture just enough of the vision to keep them happy and my valley green. i make of them poet-priests, i show them how to communicate what they've seen, the rhythms of nature, but i never let them say it straight. i can't. then eveyone would know. there would be no need to seek the dragon's cave. there would be no questions, no curiosity. there would be no innocence. and there would be no need for me. i feed them lies because eventually lies fade or are broken apart and thrown in a fire, the cycle is begun again.



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hmm... it's more of a philosophical treatise than a story, really. i wanted to flesh out the shaper's voice a bit, but i ended up just writting about what i thought he really is, how he functions, from the begining to time. tell of people like those in beowulf and grendel, but focus more on the general, the abstract.
i think a more creative story would be to take this idea and map it onto a scene of an actual story teller, telling about a dream or a vision of his visit to the mountian top, and a conversation with the force that is the shaper.
the scene also seems to mirror a bit of the opening of gardner's book, where grendel questions the world and his mother says "don't ask", like she's been to the mountain cave, obtained knowledge, and was hurt or damaged by it (perhaps seeing her own place in the universe?), and now doesn't wish that fate for her son.

writing this was useful for me to conceptualize some of the themes in the book, and also the power of the writer, kind of a self-aware criticism of writing and how it is easy to suspend disbelief and accept the world of the author, but there are other things out there which may be more, or less, true.

i almost wanted to end the story with this line: "i once heard of a thing named grendel who went to the cave..." because he sees the silliness of human action and religion. yet, as an angsty character, he wants to regain his innocence, which is why he admires and wants to learn from/be the shaper.

have i missed parts of the shaper and dragon characters? is there a way to add grendel into the story? should perhaps the shaper and dragon be more fiercely different/opposed? have i redeemed the shaper?


grendel's workshop