The sword is an ever present symbol found in much fiction whether fantasy or historic. They are varied as those that wield them. Students of the energy field called the Force, Jedi wield a weapon of pure energy cycled in a loop as unending as the source of their power. The two-handed sword Ice is crafted of Valyrian steel and used by Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell to dispense justice swiftly, directly and personally.
“You have your swords. I have my tricks. We play with the toys the gods give us.” – Sean Bean as Odysseus in Wolfgang Peterson’s Troy. Yeah, two Sean Bean references in as many paragraphs – he’s that cool. As creative people we have our own weapons to serve our purpose. Our weapon is our art. Our purpose to connect deeply with others.
We look to our swordsman kindred. The disciplined samurai uses the katana, which has strength and resilience enough to make it arguably the best blade ever forged in history. Ironically, it’s steel comes from crappy river bed iron sediment. This grit is like the interesting errant thoughts everyone has as we go about or mundane life. The excellent weapon comes from a complex forging process not unlike the creative process employed by artists.
Where the metallurgist uses fire, passion is used to take the ideas we notice and distill them into concepts of strong personal meaning. A byproduct of this process is emotion, the brittle but hard substance others can relate to. Our hammer is introspection applied to both mental elements in order to drive out the unnecessary and weak notions they initially carry.
We fold meaning and emotion in on themselves many times over in the editing process. When clear on both elements, we wrap potent emotion around universal meaning, the soft shingane enfolded by the hard hagane. Combined they make the durable and hard core of our art – a song, a painting, a game, a story.
In place of colored clay, we coat our art in a pleasing presentation. It is attractive and inviting to others. It is something they feel they want. This what draws the eye to focus on it amidst all the other content out there.
In place of stone, we polish the emotion of the piece with insight. Insight is the fine discrimination that perception uses to separate one idea from another, the meaningful from the irrelevant, the truth from the apparent. It is the edge that cuts through the armor of prejudice to allow our meaning to get through to others. It connects artist with audience.
This is the symbol of swords as applied to creative endeavors. More than just a tool or phallic compensation, they are creators of links between two people, in violence or inspiration. Also, they’re awesome as all hell!