The home of immense dangers and possibilities

The mysterious forest of Broceliande figures heavily into Charles William’s account of Arthurian legend. It’s kind of in Wales, and kind of in the ocean, and is more of a fairy place that can’t always be gotten to. Both Carbonek (home of the Holy Grail) and the castle of the headless emperor on the edge of hell lie within it. Few who go deep within it ever come out. The ones that do are either astonished, like children, or lost in a bitterness the remainder of their life.

A casual glance may see it as simply an interesting stage for stories and adventures, just about anything you like, to happen, but it is so much more than that.

In a writer whose philosophy was Pantheistic or whose poetry was MERELY romantic this formidable wood rom whose quiet and timeless fecundity ‘the huge shapes emerge’ would undoubtedly figure as the Absolute itself. And indeeed Broceliande is what most romantics are enamoured of; into it good mystics and bad mystics go: it is what you find when you step out of our ordinary mode of consciousness. You find it equally in whatever direction you step out. All journeys away from the solid earth are equally, at the outset, journeys into the abyss.

Saint, sorcerer, lunatic, and romantic lover all alike are drawn to Broceliande, but Carbonek is beyond A CERTAIN PART of it only. It is by no means the Absolute. It is rather what the Greeks called the Aperon – the unlimited, the formless origin of forms. Dante and D. H. Lawrence, Boehme and Hitler, Lady Julian and the Surrealists, had all been there. It is the home of immense dangers and immense possibilities.

-C.S. Lewis, Williams and the Arthuriad, ch.2 p.101

Photo credit

Naming your stuff “Ron”

I’m curious as to why, in some myths, the actors have names – proper first names – for much of their gear. Just to infuse them with more meaning and a sense of history I imagine.

In their early account of the battle of Badon hill, where Arthur defeated the Saxons, both early poets (Wace and Layamon, ~1155) point out that our hero had names for more than just his sword:

…,the king wore a sword forged in Avalon, almost a faerie place – forged ‘with magic craft’, says Layamon, who calls it Caliburen, but Wace names it Excalibur. Layamon adds that his helmet was called Goswhit, and his shield Pridwen, on which was engraved in tracings of reddish gold, the image of the blessed and glorious Mary. Both poets add that the name of his spear was Ron.

-Charles Williams, The Figure of Arthur, p.41

We all know about Excalibur, but what about Ron, man?!

Beowulf also had a magic sword, named Hrunting. In this same vein, Tolkien gave names to many of the important weapons in Middle Earth, including Sting (Bilbo/Frodo), Glamdring (Gandalf), Narsil (Isuldur), Anduril (Aragorn), Herudrim (Theodin),  and so forth. Apparently though, their helmets and shields are not important enough to mention. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

Do we still do this today? All the time I think. Musicians often name their instruments. Eric Clapton had Blackie. Pierre Bensusan has “The Old Lady”. In college, my friend’s french horn was named Leopold. The 2-ton concert tuba (available for check-out) was called Buba.

My car is know as the “Stinky Banana Car”, or SBC. Long story.

Computers are so cold and lifeless, so we typically give them names to infuse a little character into them. I’ve worked on servers called Coyotee, Hornet, Snake, Deathstar (how many servers out there have Star Wars names? Thousands?), Thalia, RedTape, BlackWidow, Redwood, Snarky, etc. Sometimes they told a story (RedTape audited accounts). Some were just fun. Now all our servers where I work have names like web-1, web-2, email-1, etc. Boring…

IT Director: Why is the new database server named “Ron”?

Developer: From King Arthur’s spear you uncultured swine!