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Origin of the multi-arrowed Chaos symbol?

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  • Origin of the multi-arrowed Chaos symbol?

    Question - This question was asked by Ben Arias on 2001-01-27.
    What is the origin of the multi-arrowed Chaos symbol which artists often depict on Elric's shield? Thanks.
    Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-01-29
    I drew it on a piece of paper on the kitchen table while thinking over the first Elric stories! Since then people seem to have claimed an ancient ancestry for it just as Deep Purple claimed that Stormbringer was an ancient myth when someone asked them why they'd called their album by that name. It was a funny interview in NME,as I recall, years ago. NME: Why did you use Michael Moorcock's title for the title of your album. A: It's not his title. It's from ancient mythology. NME: No it isn't.
    It's probably only slightly younger than the current organisation of Druids.


    I drew the eight-arrows first and then I had the single arrow of law later, as I recall. The first person to put the symbol on the shield was Jim Cawthorn, whose early sketches of Elric were superb. The arrows, of course, represent diversity. The single arrow represents the kind of mind who believes there is only one version of the truth. Very best, MM
    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

  • #2
    Question - This question was asked by Craig on 2001-02-20.
    Greetings and Salutations alike Mr. Moorcock.
    Thanks so very much for your prompt answer to a question of mine a while back.
    I have just a quick question today.
    I was listening to the Whitesnake song "Judgment Day" just now and for the first time ever, I caught the line "dancing at the end of time".
    Given your obvious influence to Deep Purple's "Stormbringer", and given that Mr. Coverdale was in both bands, was the end of time verse another tribute to your creativity? A seeming coincidence? Or a wasted question because it's probably been covered before?

    Thanks for your time and your vision.
    Wish you the best in all realms,
    Craig
    Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-02-22
    Tribute is one way of saying it. I think Mr Coverdale claimed that 'Stormbringer' came from mythology and denied all knowledge of the book. In an NME interview the interviewer (might have been CS Murray) asked why he used my title. He said he hadn't. It was a common source. No it wasn't said the interviewer...Yes it was, he said. So I suspect this has the same mythological origin... We used 'dancing at the end of time' in Hawkwind stage performances sometimes as part of that Warriors presentation. Might even have used it at the Astoria performance last December. I've been told many times that the Chaos symbol (which I drew on the kitchen table in the late 50s) is an ancient sign of Chaos. If so, it's a coincidence or I was inspired by some Unknown Source. There's another Stormbringer album, too, from John Martyn. I thought I ought to do a third sometime. Seems only fair. And then, of course, there was Stormbringer, the band. That Stormbringer gets around. All best, M
    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

    Comment


    • #3
      Question - This question was asked by craig on 2001-03-10.
      greetins sir,
      just a quick question. i have been snooping around trying get get a firm grip upon when tdd will be released here in the states and i keep finding either end of march or end of april. i have just knocked off the 6 elric series again in anticipation and can't wait to read it.
      also, i have seen two different covers for it. the gould and the one that looks like a cover to a mollyhatchet album. will both of these be available?

      thanks so much,
      c

      ps, i've been doing some follow up research on a question i asked a while back about certain 80s rock bands having recurring "coincidental" references to your work. the farthest back reference i can find to the word "stormbringer" roots back to you. i can find nothing in any mythology (predating the world you created)about stormbringer. also, it occurs to me that western culture mythological weapons are about power and domination (and mostly falic).. excaliber, mjilnir, windjammer.. etc etc.. rarely so subtle as stormbringer.
      Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-03-10
      The Warner site gives April. It's out now in UK. You can see it on the Amazon u.k.site. I'm doing a launch reading and signing April 12th (I think) at Book People. The Book People (Austin) site gives details of that, I'm sure. So it must be Aug 12, though I'm doing a West Coast reading tour (fairly fast) at the end of April. Warner have given a lot of backing to the book, as have B&N, so I feel I should also do my bit! The Jim Burns cover (the mollyhatchet) seems to have been done to make it uniform with Silverheart, which is an odd decision. The colours on the Gould were changed because they didn't go with the colours I was using for this book -- which are essentially German colours (black, white and red -- Elric, too! -- and Robert, whose work I like very much, had given the characters earth colours. Of course the illustrated edition should be wonderful and that is supposed to be out soon (see News section). I've posted LONDON BONE publication details, too.

      Thanks for the stormbringer stuff. I was pretty sure I'd made it up! I've been told the same thing about the Chaos symbol. I'm a great believer in coincidence so never say it's definitely not the case, but I don't think that existed until I sat at my kitchen table and drew something to go on Elric's shield! As I just said somewhere in an interview -- earliest Elric was actually dealing with a lot of Freudian and Jungian stuff specifically to do with swords! So the actual machismo, if you like, is being deconstructed. This is also what happened in Jerry Cornelius. Gender deconstruction via sword and sorcery...? Well, there you go. It seems to be what I was thinking about! Someone wrote recently -- and I wish I could remember where -- that all literary innovation begins in popular fiction, not literary fiction. Maybe so. Not that I see much difference myself. Hope that clears up the Elric cover problem. Old Main Books can actually supply either edition! The US edition is probably the best text, though. I had a chance to give it a final once-over. All best, M

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

      Comment


      • #4
        Question - This question was asked by John Storch on 2001-03-19.
        Mr. Moorcock:

        Just a quick little question... What is the origin of the Chaos Symbol you describe in your stories? Is it from your own imaginations or did it evolve out of any particular mythology?

        John Storch
        Milwaukee WI
        Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-03-19
        Sorry, I thought I'd just done this one. The origin of the Chaos Symbol was me doodling sitting at the kitchen table and wondering what to tell Jim Cawthorn the arms of Chaos looked like. I drew a straightforward geographical quadrant (which often has arrows, too!) N.S.E.W.and then added another four directions and that was that -- eight arrows representing all possibilities, one arrow representing the single, certain road of Law. I have since been told to my face that it is an 'ancient symbol of Chaos' and if it is then it confirms a lot of theories about the race mind.

        Equally, Stormbringer was described as being 'ancient mythology' by the band which used the name for its album. The first Stormbringer album, I suspect, was an unconscious lift. I once sat and listened to a guy in a cafe tell me about a tunnel which ran under the Convent of the Poor Clares in Ladbroke Grove, which led into other planes of existence. I was fascinated until it gradually dawned on me he was giving me back the plot of A Cure for Cancer as a folk tale! It's always flattering when that happens.

        As with so much of this stuff, a lot of the provenance only goes back as far as the 19th century and the various romantic revivals or to late Tudor searching about for historical authority, so a lot of Celtic stuff is actually the invention or suspicion of Lewis Spence and the early, very romantic myth-tasters. Most Druidic tradition, for instance, is as authentic as Ku Klux Klan ceremonies -- i.e. borrowed from romantic fiction. I've pointed out elsewhere that the famous fascist salute didn't exist before the Italians invented it in those extravagant historical pictures they made before the first world war and the Klan didn't appear in its familiar 20th century guise until after Birth of a Nation made the 'Knights' romantic, calling on material taken more from The Scottish Chiefs than from real Scottish history. That is to say, about as authentic as Braveheart! Or Riverdance, for that matter! As far as I know the symbol, drawn by Jim Cawthorn, first appeared on an Elric cover of Science Fantasy in 1962, then later appeared in his first comic version of Stormbringer done by Savoy. More details of that can be found on the Savoy website. Elsewhere on the net you will find early accounts of my creating Elric. A long boring answer to a quick question! All best, MM
        The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

        Comment


        • #5
          Question - This question was asked by craig on 2001-04-12.
          greetings mike,
          quick question. i do not intend this as a critque of your work; rather, i intend to pose a devils advocate view and perhaps some debate among this sites clientele: as presented in the elric series, does the fact that the lords of chaos use a standardized symbol (the 8 pointed hub) betray what chaos is?
          I understand that the symbol conveys the idea of infinite possibilities, but does not the usage of a standard symbol tend itself toward law?

          just a thought,
          keep writ'n 'em and i'll keep read'n 'em.
          craig
          Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-04-12
          That would be true in a world of absolutes. Happily, there is no such thing! I agree, however, that it isn't always a good idea to announce that you're coming! On the other hand, maybe the symbol is, like the swastika, meant to instill fear in the potentially defeated. It's a sticky point. Throw it open to the Lords of the Higher Worlds. After all, they created the problem. And it'll keep them occupied for a few thousand years. And then there are all sorts of sticky problems concerning the ins and outs of Higher World Chivalry. Is it considered unsporting not to say which side you represent ? Maybe it's the only bit of Law they allow themselves. Maybe the real symbol can't actually be read by Law ? All best, M
          The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

          Comment


          • #6
            Question - This question was asked by Ian Johnson on 2001-04-12.
            Re: Chaos Symbol. I thought that the Chaos Symbol only appeared in the Elric Saga, though? That said, I'm not certain that a constant symbol necessarily implies origins or ties to Law. Chaos os *constantly* mutating, for example. The problem, therefore, may be one of language rather than concept.
            Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-04-13
            Well, you go me there. I thought it was in Corum, too. It's perfectly possible, of course, for a ship of Law to sail under false colours, or the other way around. Or indeed, to believe the colours are not false... Best, M
            The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

            Comment


            • #7
              Question - This question was asked by Ian Johnson on 2001-04-13.
              Re: Chaos Symbol. And now I have to read *Corum* for the first time ... Well, I'm off to Cornwall for the week anyway ...
              Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-04-14
              Perfect place to read Corum. That's why there are no real maps of Corum's world. It's just Cornwall with the Scilly Islands (Lyonesse) still attached. Careful in that Westland Whirlwind, if you go from Penzance. You could take the Pirates of Penzance down with you, too, for some light relief. Well, not all of them. I was once waiting for someone at Penzance station and decided I'd have a pasty and a cup of tea while waiting. Any pasties ? I asked the lady. "No, m'dear," she replied kindly, "they're due in on the next London train." I'm not sure you're allowed to do that any more. While you're there, see if there's an English-Cornish dictionary. There wasn't when I last looked. Which, as I mentioned somewhere, was why I came to read my way through the complete Cornish-English dictionary. Great part of the world. My grandmother's people were from those parts and were ace relatives. She died soon after giving birth to my father. Her maiden name was Brown. So if you meet anyone called Brown down there, say hello from me... I wrote part of the Corum books in the little pub/hotel in Marazion which looks directly across at St Michael's Mount (Moidel's Mount). Market Zion was the original name of the little harbour. I think the Phoenicians used to swap woad for tin at that time. Enjoy it. All best, M
              The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

              Comment


              • #8
                Question - This question was asked by Ian Johnson on 2001-04-23.
                Hi, Mike! Just got back from Cornwall. I didn't get to read *Corum*, though -- didn't take any books with me at all, in fact. I just can't seem to enjoy writing at the moment. I think I need to do a Monet and unload some of the stuff clogging up my head: I'm convinced I've tried to take too much onboard too soon, which isn't healthy for an Asperger's. The most I wrote was four (small) pages of story notes: writing actual has been impossible for nearly two months now. I did get a copy of *The Dreamthief's Daughter* after a visit to Saint Michael's Mount, though, and am now over halfway through. It's probably my favourite *Elric* alongside *The Fortress of the Pearl*, *The Revenge of the Rose* and *Stormbringer*. It's very interesting (and enjoyable!) to see Elric's view from a first-person perspective -- or is that a double-person perspective? I *love* those descriptions of the Middlemarch river-world -- I was put in mind of both Dunsany (the river) and Zelazny (the rivers). :-) Where abouts does this new trilogy fit into the chronology? Will it be included in later editions of the *Fantasy Masterworks* *Elric*? I'll probably finish off *Von Bek* or start *Corum* after I'm done with *The Dreamthief's Daughter* -- I'm at least partially ready for *Corum*, having seen some of Cornwall in spite of Foot-and-Mouth barriers all over the shop. Have you visited the biodomes they've built there? Very beautiful, but you'd think they'd never seen nail polish before! Have you been to many of the places mentioned in the various *Von Bek* stories? I'm hoping to travel to Germany with friends in a few years' time, thought I might look out for one or two of the sites in the tales. I shouldn't be asking so many questions -- my mum has MS, so I have some idea of what you might feel like just now. Hope I haven't waffled on too much. Best, Ian
                Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2001-04-23
                I have friends with MS and believe me I don't have anything as bad, though the symptoms are frequently similar. But I am feeling somewhat rough and trying to get into decent enough shape to pick up the West Coast reading tour in San Francisco, so I'm keeping answers short. Very glad you like DD so far. Haven't read the Zelazny. Must have read the Dunsany. Admire both writers. I was also thinking of the Iss (I think it's called) in the first Burroughs Martian stories which actually have a poetry of their own. Also Coleridge. But actually, as with the sword itself (it's the Raven Armoury forged sword that I'm describing and, of course, it actually exists -- I have one! It does sing. But its taste in karoake music is awful). I took the imagery and basic inspiration from reality. Most of my scenery is based on experience. In this case, it's based on some wonderful experiences in the Carslbad caverns which are not that far from where I live. Check out the pictures some time (I seem to remember they have a good site) and you'll see exactly what I mean. I pinch from life. The best thing that ever happened to me as a young man was making a trip into the Arctic and realising this planet had more than its share of wonders to start with. It's okay. I keep the sword in the broom cupboard, well away from the cats. In terms of chronology I think you'll find it relates closes to Stormbringer and there are other clues in the Elric story which ran in the Multiverse comic. Also in Tales From the Texas Woods which hints at Moo Ooria first, I think. Very sorry indeed about your mum. It is a bummer of a disease. All best, M
                The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Question - This question was asked by craig robinson on 2002-01-12.
                  mike,
                  sorry to hear about health problems of late. hope things work out well for you. need to stick around a bit longer to keep us on the right path, besides, it would be nice to have you around to thank for influence when i finally get around to publishing.
                  went into borders books yesterday looking for you and robert e howard. sadly, they only carried sailor on seas of fate (1 copy) and absolutely NO howard. guess i picked the wrong place to be born with my literary tastes. maybe i should be a harry potter fan instead; gas stations seem to carry those books.
                  i think i read before that you draw out storyboards for you stories and i was wondering how much of the young kingdoms map that we are all acquainted with was your direct work.
                  something else i've been wondering, you knew tolkien and i have noticed something in his mid-earth books: he seems to despise marriage. 1) though all the other rings are ornate and wacky looking, the one evil ring is a simple wedding band. 2) no one seems to ever be married, either couples live in sin or guys tend to live together.
                  3) anyone who does get married seems to pay some sort of high price for it.
                  so i must wonder, did mr tolkien have an unsatisfactory marital life? or perhaps i'm projecting (don't tell me wife i asked that question)
                  well, the laptop is looking at me accusingly and the manuscript calls.
                  take care good sir,
                  c
                  Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2002-01-14
                  Tolkien was a Catholic. Maybe he would have preferred a celibate life, but he did have Christopher, after all... Don't get me started on all that, though.

                  I did a sort of Freudian breakdown on the likes of Lovecraft before I actually wrote the Elric stories -- so Elric is full of rather knowing bits of Freud and Jung and it was pretty obvious they didn't harm the story. Lovecraft had argued that knowledge of such things ruined fiction. I demonstrated, I hope, that he was wrong!

                  The Young Kingdoms map was chiefly mine and first put into better form by Jim Cawthorn. Other versions followed Jim's and Jim then did a version of one of those versions... But it's my map, just as I originally drew the Chaos symbol and so on. My notebooks are full of drawings, many of them elaborate. I did a whole bunch for King of the City, for instance, 'placing' the invented architecture, also of the Red Mill and Tubby's Thanksgiving Party. Skrayling Tree also has lots of drawings as does the current Pyat I'm working on. I draw almost as much as I make notes. Happily for the reader, I tend to be a more skilled writer than draughtsman.

                  Tolkien's identification of industrial workers as the enemy (and the enemy from the East at that) has always struck me as unfortunate. A more knowing writer would have considered these implications but basically the old boy was an anorak, mostly interested in making up languages and alphabets and maps and most of his narrative is very much borrowed. I'm more interested in the story dynamics and images when I'm drawing. Not to knock the final amalgam, but as far as I can see LOTR anorak first. This is evident, I think, from the Tolkien interview (one of the few) we ran in New Worlds and which is now on the Fantastic Metropolis site off the SF Site.
                  Very best,
                  M

                  The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Question - This question was asked by Joe Loehr on 2003-01-13.
                    New Year's greetings, Mr. M!I have a couple of questions and a few subjects that have been preying on my mind, if you'd care to answer.

                    Firstly: did you invent the eight-armed Chaos symbol for your books?

                    Secondly:in Elric's reality, are there more than two Black Swords? I seem to remember in one of the Elric stories(couldn't say which one)'twas mentioned that there were more swords than Stormbringer and Mournblade. Maybe it was a discussion about the aspects of the Champion, and the Champion's Swords in the other realities.

                    On to other Subjects:

                    I'm cautiously optimistic about the Elric movie! Definitely, take your time, choose the Right People for the job!

                    I'm saddened to hear that you've severed ties with Hawkwind, et.al. I became interested in the Hawks because of your involvment(Warrior on the Edge of Time was the first CD I bought, and 'Kings of Speed' was the first HW song I leared to play).But, I think Dave and Nik are responsible for it. If they had talked it out in the first place, everyone might still be friends. {The Lords of Chaos Laugh}

                    You've also recently received good mention in Lemmy Kilmister's autobiography, White Line Fever: "He was great. We used to go around his house for some free food now and again, and he would have these notices on his door: 'If I don't answer the first ring of the bell, don't ring it again or I'll come out and kill you. It means no, it means I'm not in, it means I don't want to see you. Fuck off everybody. I'm writing. Leave me a-fucking-lone.' That was brilliant."

                    As always, my amplifiers are turned WAY UP to send Maximum Vibrations your way. (working on 'Good Girl, Bad Girl' this time. Got the music, but I'm still decoding the lyrics)

                    Best Wishes to You and Yours

                    Joe



                    Answer - Mr. Moorcock answered this question on 2003-01-15
                    Yes, I did invent the Chaos symbol. I wanted something which symbolised multiple possibilities as well as entropy/dissipation. And yes there are many swords in all those possible worlds. They came together in an episode originally called Black Sword's Brothers, which I wrote for the serial version of Stormbringer in Science Fantasy magazine in, I think, 1962.

                    I agree that it's a shame Dave and Nik didn't talk first. According to Nik, Dave wouldn't talk. That's when I gave Nik a letter countering quotes from me which Dave was using in the case. I didn't like Dave using me. However, I didn't mean Nik to publish it -- I thought I was doing it for his lawyer in the event of a potential lawsuit. When everything turned into a quarrel I wrote one letter saying I hoped everyone would come together and discuss the problem and then backed away. I was getting involved in a fight between friends, not just between Nik and Dave, in which everyone began to slag everyone off. This wasn't my idea of a good time.


                    Glad to know Lemmy's autobiography speaks well of me. I speak well of him in KING OF THE CITY! Missed seeing him in LA last time. He's right about the notices, which went up in order of hasslement... I knew a lot of people in Ladbroke Grove and didn't lead a 'protected life', so there were a lot of casual visitors, not so much friends as time-wasters. Friends tended to respect my privacy, of course. I've always found Lemmy a gent.


                    Good kerranging, pard!
                    All best,
                    M

                    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

                    Comment

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