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Jul 18, 12 at 11:48am ^A Defense of Dormin
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Hi friends, I have just gotten into posting things so bear with my on this article which I wrote in argument to Gamesradar's The Top 7… 'Whoops, you're evil!' moments which list Dormin as a demonic force. I want to express my opinion about his character and I am trying to get into writing and initiate discussion so bear with me.
Dormin has been pegged in many circles as a villian, but to me that doesn't really seem to be all there is to him. I will attempt to elucidate his character by first my conjecture on the status and history of the Shadow of the Colossus world; the architecture, people, land, Wander and Dormin himself. I will show how my interpretation of the series of SOTC and Ico supports my belief about his nature and thru this all I hope to generate some honest discussion. At of all Dormin doesn't strike as a evil; he seems more akin to a force of nature. Let me draw out certain misconceptions about the human gist as it is about good and evil and the fallacy to applying them to something that is alien. First and foremost, the world has no intrinsic moral nature applicable to human understanding; you could say that fruits such as berries are and poisonous muchrooms are evil but these quotes serve to warn us about the dangers of the outdoors. It's not there any evil machination in ingesting cyanide or that the fact that your insides to mush, you were simply to stupid or suidical to know better. The natural world is what it is there is no malign intent in its character; fire is fire, water is water, earth is earth, the gales simply blow, lightning strikes and light and darkness are light and darkness. They are colorless in the moral spectrum unless man judging based on whether it helps him or not designates the dichotomy. How this relates to Dormin's character comes from the tidbits of the game that discuss what he/she is. Dormin holds knowledge of a great power, and for this reason was sealed away as a menacing being in the ancient past. I put out this quote as the starting for my conjecture of the history of the world to further my thesis. My interpretation of the SOTC world's history is that many millenia or centuries ago a great power existed in the land, throughout their world maybe. Dormin resembles many paganistic gods and I believe he may be either an avatar of that great power or a recipient manifestation of it. That would explain his/her knowledge of the power which I will call the Arcane (I like naming shit and magic sounds overused in today's media for such a unique title as Ico and SOTC) being that he as an immortal entity may be a lesser god of sort. This power proliferated across the land and Dormin was probably a primary example of it. Now flash forward a few centuries and you have humans entering this land and meeting a being that defied explaination. If you were from some Neolithic culture and saw such a being as Dormin, you would probably have no other recourse but to worship it. So these Neolithic settlers settled in the lush pre-Forbidden Lands admiring Dormin from afar and at this point to me the relationship between the ruins and Dormin becomes clearer. Worship entails a two-way street of asking for things from any spirits or deity in the vicinity of human imagination so what if Dormin and the settlers meeting for the first struck up a relationship. What if in exchange for settlement and worship since they deify him anyway, that Dormin taught them certain things. I believe that the entire Forbidden Lands are the result of Dormin deification in that the settlers adopted Dormin as its patron deity and set up a society to worship him. As a result, Dormin may have been the impetus to the monolithic architecture and various achievements of this race. A strewned across the land are several hundred foot towers, bridges, underground arenas carved in stone, accomplishment indicative of a people with a unifying spiritual complex. We see it in our world with the pyramids of Giza, Mayan temples, Stonehenge, all various supreme works of human ingenuity, sufferance, and will inspired by their gods. People will move hell, heaven and earth for their gods. With the Arcane present in the pre-Forbidden Lands and Dormin as its avatar, these people would have had the appropriate initiative if not guidance to build their hundred foot architecture. I purpose that Dormin taught the settlers certain things pertaining to the arcane power along with acting as a societal spiritual focal point for the Pre-Forbidden Land culture; a lot of what the area indicates is a vast ancient city-state with the Shrine of Worship, with its access to all the other lands as a capital, the various freshwater lakes and waterfall complex in the northwest and eastern lands as the water source, fishing, and agricultural hub of the society with the lands mid-west of the Shrine and directly south of the aforementioned lakes with the canopy and sea serpent bosses as a breadbasket, with the southern and north-eastern land serving purposes pertaining to military,enterteinment, and religious practicality. I posit that as the patron of the land, the people knew Dormin had knowledge of the arcane because he taught them it himself; my evidence for this position comes from the land's many save shrines, the bridge connecting the shrine to the outside world, gate at the Southern Plain leading to Malus, and the Ancient Sword. The City-State (I like naming shit) indicates a vast amount of technical know-how of an ancient medieval race integrated with the arcane power derived from the land and the teachings of the lesser god/avatar of the preternatural force itself, Dormin; an Arcane/Technological based society. I believe with the many shrines of worship, Dormin, as purchase for deification, taught the ancient people the workings of this alternate set of the rules of nature the great power presented. If we ignore the save shrine as common videogame paraphrenalia, the stone tablets therein emanate with the land's power; their similar construction presents them to be the work of man with the skills of architecture and "magical" knowledge accrued from the primordial force most likely to be taught by Dormin. The bridge itself is the premier example of this integration along with all of the architecture in the Forbidden Lands made for human use. I highly doubt an entity such as Dormin would have actually built the bridge to the outside world or that he constructed any other building for that matter. If the Ruinbuilders made everything, their arcane based society must built their architecture with the intention to harness the great power Dormin taught them about. The Bridge draws its power from the vitality of either the great power or Dormin himself and Dormin's demise proves that the Bridge is sustained on the arcane workings of the ancient race tapping into the great power cuz if it didn't it wouldn't have collapsed in the first place. The Ancient Sword, is the titular example of human engineering integrated with arcane artistry, it resonates with certain structures and Dormin and I believe I know the reason why, because maybe Dormin had a hand in making it. The sword seems to be the product of Dormin's pact with the Ancient People and their society indicated in its ability to find and harm his disassociated parts, the colossi, its light with Dormin being able to control beings of light, Dormin's recognition of the sword, and the sword's use as an ingredient for sealing Dormin away. The sword is the key to the arcane art based gate at the end of the southern plain where it's light activates the gateway to the final boss. Everything about the ruins of shrines and fortresses and the still working arcane artifacts of the Bridge and the Malus Gate suggest a pact made between the ancient people and Dormin. These past conjectures bring me to believe that Dormin is not evil, but a victim, a victum of betrayal.
We have already posited that the monolithic architecture seems indicative of a society with some unifying spiritual ethic with the motivation to built the Shrine of Worship and the multitude of other like structures across the land, so what if their was a change to this. What if within the timespan of several centuries to a few millienia that a new religous mindset/cult developed in the Pre-Forbidden city-state. This new upstart religion could have rose to prominance in the ancient culture, gaining influence and probably would have needed to consolidate its rule on the social state of the civilization. This evolves displaced the old gods and therein lies the problem. Dormin was an actually living deity that was just as physically and spiritual; with most religions you have to pray and use your imagination to entreat entities that may or may not exist but this was not the case for Dormin. A fully realized immortal being you could talk to in the flesh and blood made Dormin a unifying cultural phenomena, why bother praying to those possibly non-existent phantoms when you have a flesh and "blood" deity in your midst. For the upstart religion, Dormin represented a hindrance to their rising stranglehold on the spiritual and cultural soul of the people, as time pass the ancients became disconnected to him and vice-versa. With people out of touch with the old god, Dormin became less of a respected god and more of a threat,the Divine became the Darkness, as the disconnection with Dormin bred fear of the great power that had so long been the focal point of their society. Dormin's very existence was a bane to their new order as a living testament of the old power was at their doorstep, the new religious order couldn't solidify their position without snuffing him out. This must have been daunting, I mean the damn guy's huge and if he possess if not flight or wall-crawling not just super-strength, but the sand-shifting, electrical and fireball attributes of the 9th,10th,12th, 16th colossi, then no medieval human mechanation could have defeated him; unless you fight fire with fire.The only way to trump a being that powerful is to get it off-guard and with the Dormin's disconnection with his partners, the betrayal succeeded. The ancient city-state used Dormin's own teachings of the arcane arts against him and, if the previous conjecture is true, in despicable display of ingratitude bred by their fear, ignorance, and superstition sealed him away eternally and dividing his essence in 16 parts. The pact was broken and after centuries of a faithful is not prosperous venture of an arcane integrated society, the fearful inhabitants shut Dormin up forever fearful of the very power that inspired them to create the hundred-foot ruins of bridges and castles, mighty fortresses, and the arcane bridges to the Outer Lands. We see this in our own world where modern christendom displaced the old gods resulting the the destruction of previous shrines such as those in Scotland and Ireland and in Europe. To alienate the people further from the old deity in what may have been an already advanced trend and to consolidate their domination of the spiritual root of the people, the culture abandoned the region and forbade any return to the land while still keeping knowledge of the shamanistic arts derived from the great power and its avatar/manifestation Dormin.
Flash to few centuries after afterwards and you have two other victims of this belief system Mono and Wander. Mono was sacrificed by Wander's people for having a cursed fate. The questions arises did she have to be sacrifice; a lot of what happens to her reeks of the Salem witch hunts. Three theories posit her cursed fate
To become the Queen
To bring monsters into the world of mortals
To participate in the ressurection of Dormin
I believe her sacrifice was an unnecessary tragedy instigated by human fear. For the first theory, I don't really believe Mono became the Queen even with the similarities and the power of Dormin. Even if the Queen is Mono, it could have been prevented by not killing her in the first place since then she wouldn't of have received Dormin's power in the first place. She could of and should of married Wander and lived a happy normal life, but the theocratic religious order dropped the ball on that.
The second theory posits that the horned children are evil which from Ico's example dispels the notion. These kids with their cranial peculiarities are just innocent boys with skull protuberances and if the fate references the shadow beasts they become then the whole situation could be avoided if the damned fools didn't feed the boys to the witch in the first place. No sacrificed boys means no *bleep*ing dark monsters kidnapping women, but human idiocy in fear bred from the theocratic belief system engenders people to seek out a scapegoat for everyday ills. Once again Mono's sacrifice produced the very problem it was supposed to solve.
The third thesis is understandable and preventable without Mono's sacrifice in that a) Dormin whom if the previous conjecture is true was betrayed by people using the arts he taught them, has suitable reason to go after the descendants of the people whom sealed him for eternity[b][/b] in a couple of statues and b) Mono is left alive would have no reason to been anywhere near resurrecting Dormin since the land is forbidden (given the fact that Emon and his posse chased Wander's ass there I highly doubt a frail woman like her would have been allowed to go either) and some several miles away from her homeland.
We see the relationship of Dormin and the ancient culture repeated thru his and Wander's descendants present in Ico. The castle itself is indicative of this statement because it represents a new integration of the technological and the arcane. How so? Ico and SOTC suggests that Wander and his descendants found their way out of the Forbidden Lands. From here I posit that not did they interbred with the people they came across but became chieftains and leaders among them. With their horns, people may have indeed respected them as something special and they became men of renown. The Ico castle seems to be the product of a secondary integrated society more technological yet possessing elements of the arcane in succession and contrast of the more arcane based Dormin guided state of the Forbidden Lands. advanced medieval culture rising in succession of the aforementioned ancient culture with the horned men achieving a great deal of prominence. They as a great chieftains and warriors of renown may have been the arcane backbone of this new society who through the course of several centuries attained a high state of technological progress. The castle seems to be remnant of that culture and a testament to their innovation. Windmills, clockwork machinery, a rail system, the irrigation network, the cavewater wheel complex, and the massive metal pipes all indicate complex engineering proficiency and a suitable large prosperous culture to build and maintain. Cavemen and poor people don't build such a marvel which with its moving bridge suggests a powerful nation in the centuries before Ico. I doubt the Queen who/whatever she could have built that castle herself; it must have been some site where many people worked and live. The arcane elements with the Castlebuilder culture begin with the people imbued with Dormin's power, the horned men who rose to prominence in that society evidenced by the statue of a horned warrior in the castle. The Horned Men/Castlebuilder culture like the Pre-Forbidden Land Dormin/human Cooperative integrated the great power, the arcane into the castle evidenced by the castles gateways, the moving bridge, the solar/electrical arcane spherical mechanisms of the reflectors activating the doorway to the outside world and the crypts of the horned children, the last of which may have been a corruption of the Queen during the society decline. I believe that history repeated itself in the Castlebuilder culture in Ico as the arcane elements were once again villified by an evolving atmosphere of superstition turned against them and new cultural trends. The horned men of arcane root born of Wander were respected and honored, but as time passed the holy became evil, light became darkness, and the horned men quite possibly the great contributors to the technological/arcane society became reviled across the countryside. Once again people betrayed their benefactors as Wander's descendants became the scapegoat for every wrong in the world. Ico's predicament shows that the boys are the subject of indifference and cruelty and the people once again sacrifice them to appease the malign they themselves may have set in motion: the Queen. The Idol Gates with their power imbued from dead horned innocents, their forms transfixed in statuettes of mourning and horror is a grisly reminder of the vile cruelty of superstition and its price on the guiltless. If Mono is indeed the Queen, then men have indeed created their own monster thru her pointless sacrifice. Dormin is not evil nor good; though he is a preternatural force of some mysterious power, Dormin like Mono and Wander, like Ico and his horned brothers are victims of superstition bred from ignorance of the strange occult forces that abound in the Ico World. Once contributing to the growth of society, these arcane elements are denigrated and cast aside for an evolving religious state. Emon seems to me to be a zealot for the religion that betrayed the paganistic god Dormin even as he help established the arcane knowledge Emon himself used to seal him. I don't think Dormin lied about the consequences, "magic" like any other power or cause has a price, resurrection had a price and I don't that even if Wander knew he would be a vessel for Dormin's return that such a proposition would hinder him. The man fought sixteen giant beings and that implies a near fanatical amount of love, love that quite simply would accept any cost for Wander's reward: Mono's life. Dormin, Mono, Wander, and Ico are all victims, in tragedy and in Ico's case triumph, of human nature.
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