Thursday, March 28, 2013

Random Thoughts: In Which I Ramble About Dragons

Recently I started writing a thing about dragons that will probably be long. It's one of those fiction projects that began as something short and blossomed unexpectedly on the page. I won't go into details about what, exactly, I am doing with this because it is incomplete and the plot has yet to become a fully developed. I am likely about six months away from a completed first draft if the story wants to be as long as I think it does. But... as dragons are the subject it got me thinking about them.

Majestic, mysterious, beautiful, and terrifying, dragons are creatures that have captured human imagination throughout time. Cast as villains or saviors, they are traditionally associated in folklore with wish-fulfillment, weather events and dramatic geographical features. My favorite dragon art usually features a dragon half-hidden in the clouds.

This particular type of imagery can be found in the art of the Sung Dynasty. This is from a series titled Nine Dragons by Chen Rong.

I think that what speaks to me about this type of dragon art is that it expresses mystery. It's that feeling of something rare glimpsed in the space between asleep and awake.

Fiction is filled with dragons, from the threatening Smaug in Lord of the Rings to the kind Falkor the Luck Dragon in the Neverending Story. Mean dragons and tame dragons and dragons that are part of coming of age stories. Of course we can't leave out the dragons from the Harry Potter series. With giant eggs, treasures, fiery breath and flight they are challengers or helpers in most tales. There are other things I associate with dragons. Hidden wisdom. Honor. Sadness.

I always think of dragons as being forced to hide themselves from the world of mankind for a host of reasons (including the tendency of humans to constantly be slaying them.) It's an idea that I know has a source in something I've read, somewhere, but I can't quite pinpoint it. I think a connection might be drawn between that idea (dragons in self-imposed exile) and how human progress has caused the extinction of certain species.

Anyway, this is the stuff knocking around inside my skull today. If any of you have favorite dragon art, I'd love to check it out.

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