[Written in the context of a G+ discussion about the role-playing game The Clay That Woke. Re-posted here for easier sharing.]
If I were an animal, I think I’d be a squirrel.
On a good day, maybe I’d feel like that mythological squirrel who lives in Yggdrasil, the world tree. Travelling up and down this cosmic axis of existence, bringing news between gods and men. And talking too much. All the time. Chattering away. Telling secrets. Whispering in ears, revealing things. Telling stories. Still; running away at the first sight of danger, covering his own ass, holing up. Foraging for winter. Stashing away contacts, friends, relatives for those dark days of winter. Which I know will inevitably return.
Most of the time, I don’t feel like a particularly mythological kind of squirrel. I feel more like that “meme”-squirrel from a few years back, the one that would always pop up in random photos looking intense.
But somewhere inside me, in some vague archetypal corner of myself, I have a Minotaur, too.
And that guy; he’s a reliable kind of guy. He doesn’t say much. You know he’s handy. He could help you carry that piece of furniture. Maybe listen to you talk. Not for too long, though, but you wouldn’t go into details and shit with that guy. Wouldn’t be soppy in front of him, but his mere presence would be comforting, in a way. You could share a cigarette. Have some coffee. He makes you a little afraid, the guy at the back of your head. He seems so tame, so domesticated. Loyal. But you know those horns, those fists, could really fuck someone up. You’ve heard some stories about his kind. Maybe not this guy in particular, I mean he’s cool, he’d never hurt you. But, y’know.
I was robbed the other day. Strange circumstances, won’t go in details here. But it was full daylight, city was full of people, and the dude just took my money. Now, as you will recall, I’m a squirrel, so I did the sensible thing and walked away.
The minotaur wasn’t too happy about that. But I’m not a minotaur. I just have him, in me. Like most of you who read this probably do.
In Itras By, the game I helped write, there’s kind of a minotaur character. He has the head of a musk ox. He’s rich, clumsy, kind. Everyone laughs at him behind his back because he looks weird and is clumsy. He sucks it up, tries to keep his cool (but he has a violent temper, if sufficiently provoked). They can see he’s a beast, he’s reminded when he looks in the mirror every day that he’s a beast, but he’s born in polite, high society. He has a function, a role. He’s an heir. There’s a hopeless love-story in there, too.
Anyway, I typed up that character kind of randomly when I was 23 or something. And I mention it here because of the superficial similarities, but also because many readers seem to connect with this character in particular. If there’s talk we might do an Itras By larp at some point, someone will eagerly volunteer to play this guy. Various illustrators want to draw him, on their own accord, without direct instruction from me. I think there’s something with that age-old mythical image that is very powerful to us.
I thought earlier today how I was fascinated, maybe a bit repulsed, certainly titillated as a 12-year old when I heard the story of the original minotaur’s conception on some radio show (this is Norway, folks), or maybe I read it in a book I had on greek mythology. With the bronze cow, the queen and that. I have some half-formed thoughts/feelings about this topic and sexuality, or some aspects of sexuality, rather. But I think I will listen to the squirrel on this: run away while you still have your bushy tail.