Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Personal Symbolism of the Unicorn: Later Childhood

Tokyo Otaku Mode Inc.

When I was a very young child I was very terrible in my school studies and grades. I had A.D.D., but they didn't test for it. They just said I was "learning disabled". This seems a really strange sort of idea, because I was actually very bright, and today among my peers I'm usually referred to as "the smart one", "egg head", "Geek", "nerd", or even in derogatory as "know-it-all". But I was also highly sensitive (and still am). I have acute senses, such as sight, hearing, sense of smell, and taste, and I was a very finicky child, because my sense of taste and smell were so sensitive that I couldn't handle too much flavors in food, or most strong smells, and chemicals in paints, the gasoline stations, and cleaners would make me VERY SICK with extreme headaches, or severe nausea. My parents told me I was "being overly dramatic", but my English Grandmother, my baby brother, my Aunt, and my daughter also have this. I was easily distracted, and my mind is very busy, and fast, while I can often think about several things, without realizing it simultaneously, and also be hyper aware of things around me in detail, such as birds outside the window, cars that I can hear far away but others can't, and tags on my shirts or pants were so irritating to my skin that I had to cut all of them out as a child. My daughter is the same way, but she has ADHD and has a more acute version of what I have.

I also had a VERY major ability, or habit, to day dream. My day-dreams were so real, and so vivid that I could totally "blank out". I was totally awake, and my ears were aware that I could hear things occurring around me, like inside a classroom, and I could see everything, but my attention and focus would become so immersed in my day dreams as tho' it was real life. I actually KNEW the entire time that I was daydreaming, but I would also day-dream about my actual situation within reality, and my imagination would just run away with it. I would day dream about the desks and chairs growing very tall, and we would have our lesson at the ceiling, or that I could go outside with the birds and squirrels, and fly away with them, or that the classroom became a musical. I could sit still, generally, but I could sometimes fidget. But, I could just NEVER get my school work done, ever. Unless a teacher was doing it with me, I couldn't finish anything..... unless it was interesting, like art.On the bus rides to and from school, I would stare out the window and imagine unicorns running along side the bus, or out in the woods, meadows, etc.

I also doodled on all of my worksheets, papers, and notebooks. I didn't draw on my desk like "naughty kids" did, nor in my text books, because that was "naughty" and according to my religion at the time, that was seriously bad & sinful, because it was vandalism. The Sunday schools I had gone to had scared me so badly, so I never drew in any textbooks, or school property, nor any kinds of graffiti, especially if it was communal or public property which belongs to everyone.

When I was a baby/toddler my parents and family often told about how as a child, I never crawled. I just stood up one day, and started walking. It often seems like a metaphor or theme in my life, because at many points in my life, many things were just skipped over, and I found myself doing things people whom were older than me were doing, or people with more experience were doing. That's kind of because I was a prodigy at many things, even tho' I didn't know it. I couldn't understand why I could do things my peers couldn't or even things most adults also couldn't do. Well, in my Kindergarten they noticed some things about me, and when my Mom told them I never crawled, and just stood up & walked, they were concerned, so they made me do lots of trials, tests, and leave my classroom for "therapy" to make me play games to crawl around. It was thought that this would increase my abilities with hand-eyes coordination.However, being that I could draw exceptionally well, I don't understand why they thought this "hand-eye coordination" thing.

Why would they do this? Well, I had trouble with many letters such as the letter "d" and the letter "b". I couldn't always tell them apart. (I also HATE IT when people write the number 2 like a backwards 6.) I used to write my name as "Zindleman" when it's actually "Zimbleman". I couldn't tell the difference until someone pointed it out to me. Also, my acute sense of sight allows me to fixate on objects better than most people, and I have above average eye sight, however I am more farsighted, meaning I can see very well things far away. The muscles in my eyes that people use to read are the muscles I use to visually see every day. Therefore, I read VERY SLOWLY. The speed at which I can read is about slightly faster than the speed of reading out loud... that's slow. (But that doesn't mean I'm "slow" in the mind at all.) Altho' I tend to be very much a "visual learner", I am also, very much an "audio learner". (In fact, one of my favorite things to do while working on my projects, or art projects since the 2000s was to download free audio recordings or Podcasts of lectures from colleges, universities, or various educational audio records or audio books, and have them play while I was doing my art, or projects, because I could easily learn & absorb the information by ear while doing working with my hands, and doing other things. I think anyone could eventually also learn to do this over time.)

Well, all that testing I did, which was rigorous but disguised as games and playtime, was partly to determine whether I was dyslexic. That was in the early 1980s. And, I was tested several times over the years. They determined, officially, that I was not dyslexic. The trouble is all of the tests were visual, and I am an artist. So, naturally, I passed the tests with flying colors. I found out when I was about 17-18 that I actually was dyslexic, but there was no category for what I had. I'd also discovered that many artists were undiagnosed dyslexics. I don't need glasses to read, but I had reading glasses because reading too much can hurt my eyes, and give me terrible headaches when my eyes become exhausted. But, I often read, especially online.

The other thing I loved very much as a child was Science, especially DINOSAURS! I memorized everything I could about dinosaurs, and I could also pick up vocabulary words very easily. (later in my teens I used this skill to learn languages on my own, and to self learn, or self teach) I could learn music very easily, and played violin, and the recorder (a woodwinds instrument), and briefly played guitar in music class.

By the time I was in 6th grade, I was put in a small experimental class, of 3 girls, and 3 boys in which the girls competed against the boys. It was in that classroom that I realized I was actually much smarter than I thought. I also realized I could out-think, and outscore people in science, or debates in social studies.

It was in those classes that we were motivated to do quite a lot of work, but also on our own. Sure, the teachers, and aids were always there to help us, guide us, or nudge us, but I was often motivated to do it all on my own. I'd done things on my own before, but this really put it into perspective, and in a format. I was also on the Honor Roll frequently by then.

One of the assignments we had was to choose a NONFICTION BOOK of ANY TOPIC and to write an entire report on it. 
I was very clever... I liked Unicorns, and I found out there were some Nonfiction books about the folklore of unicorns in historical contexts. 
One of the books was "The Truth About Unicorns" by James Cross Giblin. And, that was when I learned about all the folklore of Unicorns throughout history. (BTW: I got a A++)

LEGO The Lord of the Rings
Empire: Total War - Gold Edition
Folklore: The Unicorn And The Maiden

Since ancient times allegories were very popular. In Europe in Medieval and Renaissance periods these were exclusively only allowed to be of religious meanings. Anything that was previously pagan would be changed to mean Christian, or Biblical meanings. Many symbols included lions, unicorns, dragons, maidens, the sun, the moon, the stars, swords, Holy Trinity, birds, and many other things.

Specifically the Unicorn allegorically represented the Christ, or Jesus, as well as The Holy Trinity.

A common theme was the unicorn, which mentioned in the Bible was fierce & deadly when provoked, but in the lore of the European Unicorn was that it was male, an innocent. If you wanted to catch one, you needed a Virgin, or Young Maiden, to lure and entice the unicorn. Then, The unicorn would see the maiden, fall in love and wander over to her, and fall asleep with it's head in her lap. Once it was asleep, the unicorn was vulnerable, and could be slain, or captured.

Unicorns were known to preform miracles, such as healing all ailments, transmuting poisons and venoms, and purify the air, water, and food. Thus, the alicorns (the horns of the unicorns) were highly prized for it's magical and divine abilities to allegedly do all of these things. (The alicorns were actually usually tusks from Narwhal wales, elephants, or Rhinoceros.)

Ergo, the slaying of the unicorn was fraught with Romance, and Romantic themes of being "betrayed by love", "innocence", or sacrificed to death to heal humans. Songs, poems, stories, and artwork depicting these themes were common at the time, tho' most are lost forever.

Ye Olde Unicorns of Yore, were always white, hence the religious allegory of Christ. The white symbolized the "pure", "purity", "untainted", "sinless", "virginity", "uncorrupted", "innocence".

Unicorns were often depicted alone, wandering around the wild, and could be depicted as gentle, and elegant, but very fierce when attacked. They had VERY long alicorns (horns) which was supposed to represent the connection to God in the Heavens. The tail was like a lion, and the body was dear-like, with cloven hooves, and a head like a horse. They could also be depicted slightly goat-like as well.

The Maiden could represent those things also, but could also represent Mary, whom was the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. These themes are full of all kinds of symbolisms, allegories, and meanings. That style was meant to be that way. And, to look into the artwork was to notice all of the things in the pictures which meant many things. This was how they would "teach", or minister to the illiterate masses.

A film from the 1980s was "Legend" by Ridley Scott (my favorite artistic director) which depicts many of these themes. The luring of the unicorn by a Maiden, innocence,  the slaying of a unicorn. Light vs. Darkness, love, etc.

Thus began my own incorporation of this theme into my own artwork. 

Unicorns almost always seem to be associated with young maidens, girls, or even children. Well, hopefully NOW you know somewhat about why. If you want to learn more, you can read the book I mentioned above in the blog entry.

In that same book I also learned about other varieties of Unicorns in various cultures, like China & Japan.

Other books which I found were very good: There was an issue in the mid 1980s of a children's magazine called "Cricket" which had many of these folklore stories about many kinds of unicorns throughout world history including Asia. And a similar book called "All About Unicorns" which was also a hardcover Nonfiction book. (I also wrote another report based on that book about a year later.)

This traditional European white unicorn was very apparent with me, and used quite a lot by me, and I was totally fine by it. But, it started to shift to Black Unicorns. I never thought that would happen because I was religious when I was younger, and the ideas about black vs. white seemed concrete... but, all of that shifted when the symbolisms expanded, and changed...

But, I think I shall save THAT for another entry of it's own.

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