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Strictly Commercial
13-07-2005, 09:38
I suppose some of this has been brought up before but I have been considering something for a while and I wonder if there is any legitimacy to it.

I am thinking that the appeal of the armies has something to do with their relationship to the armies of the Imperium. It is well established that the Imperium of Man is the core storyline of the WH40K universe, and what I got to thinking is that armies such as Space Marines and Witch Hunters tend to symbolically embody "faith" as their primary theme.

A number of other armies represent things that are sometimes seen as challenges to faith today - heresy for Chaos, secular ideas for Tau, evolution for tyranids - and perhaps the lasting appeal to all these is their symbolic opposition to the Imperium. It may be that this is true for some, or perhaps true for every army (I can't think of what they all represent offhand), or I could be reading way too much into it, but it can be said of anything with lasting appeal that symbolism is an essential element.

Anyone else have similar (or totally different) ideas?

Karhedron
13-07-2005, 09:45
I agree to an extent but would argue that these ideas are not really literary themes. Rather they are archetypal concepts. They take an idea and embody it with the minimum of disguise and packaging, players are then able to add their own ideas over the top.

Thus GW produces armies conforming to archetypes, it is the players themselves who create the themes for their armies. These themes may be literary or they may (more commonly) be historical in some way.

Strictly Commercial
13-07-2005, 19:22
Well I am in no position to argue, as the exact term escaped me (and I was pretty tired when I wrote it). One area of education for which I regretfully studied the minimum requirement was literature (and all humanities, for that matter). I just hope the idea of what I meant got across, as it seems at least with you it did.

So, which archetype do you (or anyone) suppose the Orks represent? Or the Eldar? Or any army (I may not know much about these things but I sure am curious).

Brusilov
13-07-2005, 19:33
Eldar embody the desperate struggle to survive IMHO. They're always represented as a dying race with dwindling numbers, collapsing technology (although we know between portrayal and "reality" in 40k there is a universe worth of differences).
As to Orks, I think they represent the barbarism in all of us, once you've removed the veneer of civilisation.
And personally to me Chaos does not represent heresy, it represents rebellion, anarchy and freedom, all of this things taken to an extreme, to the point of entropy.
On the contrary the Imperium stands for stability and order, taken the point where it rots from the inside.

Khaine's Messenger
13-07-2005, 19:47
armies such as Space Marines and Witch Hunters tend to symbolically embody "faith" as their primary theme.

Or "humanity in all its ugliness." I suppose that one just kind of slips most peoples' minds, considering what a positive spin we like to put on mankind these days. :)


A number of other armies represent things that are sometimes seen as challenges to faith today - heresy for Chaos, secular ideas for Tau, evolution for tyranids - and perhaps the lasting appeal to all these is their symbolic opposition to the Imperium.

Lovecraftian/Moorcockian horrors from beyond human comprehension that will make your brain come close to exploding merely attempting to comprehend them (Tyranids, Necrons, Chaos)...and while the Tau may embody secular ideas, they're still utterly alien.

It's also been a longstanding school of thought that races in 40k represent something utterly human ("wiff masks on an' stuff"); the Orks in their brutality, the over-bureacratized Imperium and its compartmentalized attitudes, the Eldar in their erudite snobbery and decay, Chaos in their emotional extremes, Tau perhaps in their naivete and timidity, etc. Thus the 40k setting is a massive battleground for Jekyll's multifarious mind-splinters roaming about the place in gangs like the bad side of town with billy-clubs and blackjacks looking to beat someone up if they get half the chance.

Xisor
13-07-2005, 20:09
The Tau, I'm not sure if that *is* secular. I fear that stems from jumping on the 'Tau r teh Commiez!!one!' bandwagon. The Tau haven't 'banished religion', they just have no religious beliefs that are placed before the Greater Good. Their 'belief' is in the philosophy of the Ethereals and the 'Tau'va'.

Now, here's the thing with the Tau. I'd say that they aren't a 'literary theme' or even a sci-fi/fantasy/literary archetype, rather they embody the ambiguity of 'Utopia'. *Is* the Tau've as good as it's protrayed, is it working? Is our 'modern human pessimism' that 'it won't work' just clouding our ability to see it work, and seeing phantoms of 1984 and facism in every good thing? Or is it showing that even in such Utopias we cannot escape the dark nature of the world?

Is the 'dark secret behind the Tau Empire' really in existance? Are all the people who think that there is something sinister about it too pessimistic for reality, or is it not reality we see?

The Tau are in a very unique position, which I half hope isn't resolved. Is there a darkness that binds the races of the Tau together, or have the Ethereals hit the nail on the head in the 'if we work as a team, we'll win' tactic?

Xisor

Khaine's Messenger
13-07-2005, 20:36
I fear that stems from jumping on the 'Tau r teh Commiez!!one!' bandwagon.

On the other hand, perhaps your objection to the idea that the Tau possess greater secular traits in comparison with the Imperium stems from the "aggravated Tau apologist" bandwagon. Kidding, kidding. ;) Still, I agree it is unfair to render the Tau down to such a one-dimensional analysis; nevertheless, if we're going to pick one-dimensional analysis as our workhorse, then the Tau would indeed be "secular" (if not as close to espousing modern western ideologies as you'll find in 40k bar individual Imperial worlds), as they have few spiritual or metaphysical concerns that govern their lives.


I'd say that they aren't a 'literary theme' or even a sci-fi/fantasy/literary archetype, rather they embody the ambiguity of 'Utopia'.

And the ambiguity of utopian societies is not a literary theme? Sir Thomas More would be disappointed in you. :)

*EDIT: on the other hand, I can somewhat see what you mean, as you go on to describe our vision of utopias as being absolutely impossible if not utterly compromising of "central human dignity," etc., so the Thomas More reference is definately out of place. Still, the discussion of utopias and whether or not they can exist is a fairly well-trod literary theme....

Brusilov
13-07-2005, 21:08
Personally I think the Tau are quite religious. The Tau'va is a form of secular religion that is akin to marxism-leninism in communist regimes. Not saying Tau are commies mind you, just making a comparison with a non-religious dogma, and pointing the irony that a philosophy that rejected religion as the opium of the people finally embraced their philosophy as something very close to religion, so much it intoxicated their perception of reality...

Xisor
13-07-2005, 21:53
Again, I think you would agree that the problem with our perspective on 'The Tau'va' is that we are always drawn to parallel it with this world and modern ideals. I know it's like trying to picture a world with 7 dimensions, but I feel there's something both possibly sinister and yet also beautiful and perhaps ultimately truthful(outside of 'belief') in the Tau'va, as a 'way of life'.

Seeing how the Tau Empire exists, it is hard for us to imagine that it works 'because it works'. I agree it *does* sound apologist, but what I'm getting at is that it could actually work...

It's quite difficult to explain clearly without simply swaying to the apologist side as pointed out.

On a related note, the Eldar 'desperation' is also a very complex one as I see it. Clearly none of them are 'one dimensional', but I do see the worth in discussing them 'from one dimension upwards'. Whilst the desperation exists, there is a feel or 'resignation' to some aspects of Eldar culture, not only that, but there is hope(seen particularly by the Eldar of Biel Tan).

Again, the discipline of paths could be out of disapointment with 'creation'. It seems to me that the Old Ones allowed a 'flaw' to rise in the Eldar, perhaps not with deliberate nature, but it would be interesting for Eldar history to note that they grudged the Old Ones for leaving such a flaw, even with their 'infinite foresight', it was still to ultimately be the downfall of their race.

Could The Paths and The Castes be a round about way of approaching the same problems? Clearly the Dark Eldar are continuing with their own 'forced' order, but how different are the societies, and where, if any are the similarities. I suspect alot of people have some poignant thoughts on this 'aspect'...

Xisor

Sir Charles
13-07-2005, 22:57
Also with the Tau = Commiez stance, it is also possible that they are meant to represent a sort of Confucian system, with every individual Tau having their own place and duty with in that system, that is their primary concern. Which if they were suppose to be an appeal to the Asian market might make since.

zealousheretic
14-07-2005, 03:49
I see the driving force behind the Eldar as the drive for perfection, the desire for ever-greater achievement or skill.

Eldar are capable of single-minded dedication in a sense that other races can barely imagine; I've seen fluff saying that Aspect Warriors are just the military manifestation of this trait; they're like this in civilian life too. Eldar dedicate themselves to painting, or writing, or whatever they choose to learn, and push themselves to greater efforts, seeking to satisfy their own desire for perfecton. Those who go far enough it are trapped by their own progress (exarchs); perfection, or the drive for it, consumes them.

This ties into my interpretation of Slaanesh, as well. A lot of people get caught up in the bizzare S&M angle of Slaanesh; I think there's far more to Slaanesh than wierd sexual fetishes. Slaanesh represents validation and fulfillment of desire, particularly the shameful desires you don't even admit that you have. Slaanesh offers you gratification to your most secret wishes, your wildest fantasies, and the darker things that lurk in your subconcious. But, the kicker is that it's not enough. Once you've sated these desires, you find that they're not as fulfilling as you'd thought. You want more, and you're forced to resort to ever more depraved and decadent acts to get it.

The desire for something is sometimes more fun than actually getting it, so it is with Slaanesh. And it's only natural that the Eldar would give birth to a god that embodies their drive for the unachievable, their constrant striving for an unattainable ideal.


As I said, just my interpretation.

Brusilov
14-07-2005, 15:41
Your description of Slaanesh heretic is spot on, the sexual depravation is just a facet of Slaanesh portrayed in lazy nobles who indulge in such things because they have nothing better to do. Slaanesh is indeed about fulfilling your desires, which is why the Emperor's Children with their drive for perfection fell to the lure of She-Who-Thirsts.

On the matter of the Eldar, my idea of the flaw left by the Old Ones is in fact their perfection, that is both their drive for perfection heretic described, but also the fact that the OO designed them as perfect (or at least their vision of perfection) and thus kept them from evolving (after all if you're perfect you don't need to change). This helps IMO explain why the Eldar did not seem to change wildly in 60 million years between the end of the War in Heaven and present 40k days.

swordquest
14-07-2005, 19:53
The Tau are a national socialist, fascistic, autocratic, timocracy. If anyone has a clue what I am saying, they get 3.957 cookies.

Brusilov
14-07-2005, 21:28
And the only thing I can answer to this is :eyebrows: :wtf:

Khaine's Messenger
14-07-2005, 22:07
I feel there's something both possibly sinister and yet also beautiful and perhaps ultimately truthful(outside of 'belief') in the Tau'va, as a 'way of life'.

How well it works is another question (ranging from Tau to Tau, it seems some of them are still quite willing to raise hand against one another if there aren't Ethereals around)...as some Tau do tell themselves that the Tau'va is as yet in an incomplete state, perhaps even an impossible ideal, which leads to one of their few metaphysical quandries.


not only that, but there is hope(seen particularly by the Eldar of Biel Tan).

Farseer Maechu of Ulthwe has seen hope. He was promptly ignored by everyone else in the room because most other Eldar happen to be whiners. ;) It's not hard to understand this, especially when the Farseers were originally marketted as doom seers in the pre-Fall era...about the closest thing the Eldar have to those guys wearing cardboard boxes that say "The End is Coming!" Biel Tann is more an exemplar of stubbornness and blind nationalistic fervor...they are past hope and are utterly convinced that the Eldar Empire will become resurgent....


Could The Paths and The Castes be a round about way of approaching the same problems?

Not particularly, as there are other constructs within Eldar society that could supposedly exist independantly of the Path system, which mostly serves to limit emotional extremes rather than establish one's place in society (although the former is indeed accomplished by the latter...). Still, it is an interesting question....

susu.exp
15-07-2005, 03:05
My interpretation of what the different races represent has been laid out in a couple of threads already, but I think Iīll go into a little more depth this time:

The imperium is government. Itīs mix of theocracy, monarchy, dictatorship, oligarchy takes features from all these types of government to create something that is an embodyment of "the state". While on the surface the imperium is dominated by the efford to create order, the lack of true norms, i.e. set laws, fair trials, etc. basically civil rights, actually makes it a veiled anarchy.

Chaos is basic human nature. Itīs every naural drive to the extreme. The four main powers are about base emotions, rage (Khorne), satisfaction, (Slannesh), fear (Nurgle), and hope (Tzeentch). We can expect minor powers that cater to pair bonding (Chaos god of marriage), altruism (letīs call him Raalsik), etc., but they donīt muster big armies (though the deamons of Raalsik are known to help old ladies across the street. After a cult uprising at Gnathos IV the Ordo Malleus had to resort to an exterminatus. As Inquisitor Vamos pointed out "Thatīll teach them about being nice")

Orks do not represent the savage in us, rather they symbolize our inner child. They percieve the universe pretty much as children do and are generally cute and playful. They also represent the gamers, because like Orks we all know that red will make that Battlewagon move an extra inch, shout Waargh and generally think war in the grim dark future of the 41st millenum is a lot of fun.

Necrons are the burden of history. Old animosities, atrocities before our time, that still impact our lifes. Balles that have rages for ages, where nobody knows why the heck it started.

The Tyranids are environmental hazzards. In fact invasive species are second, when it comes to reasons for extinctions and rank before pollution (the winner in this mass destruction of life orchestrated by humans is habitat destruction). Talking about the great devourer: If every human being consumed as much meat as those in the industrialized countries, weīd need 3,3 additional earths just to make room for the animals we eat. Tyranids do not represent evolution. They represent us and our culture of destruction.

Eldar are intellectuals. And being an intellectual means:
a) You will be ignored
b) You can actually predict the future without psychic powers (like: if we go on like this humanity will be the worst thing that ever happened to life as long as life has existed in 2100 max.)
c) You grow cynical at some point and decide that getting tenure until the planet explodes is an OK way to go on about it.

Tau are civil society. I could go into detail, but itīs really late and I have to catch the lecture tomorrow, so I can become Eldar c about Tyranids.