A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Hi Greg, I have a question about traditional gargoyle culture and lifestyle--that is, their culture/lifestyle as it existed before being exposed to a ton of human interaction and influence. I realize these details likely vary from clan to clan and from century to century, but for instance, the Wyvern clan.
How might the Wyvern clan have lived prior to forming its alliance with the humans who then built the castle? We get some sense of this in the series: communal, leader and second, etc. But:
1. Aside from the rookery, would the area where the clan lived have contained some structures or shelter of any kind that the gargoyles built?
2. Would there be areas designated for certain functions (like, a place where food is prepared and cooked -- assuming they'd cook food), or would the area they occupied be more fluid in how they used it?
3. Did the clan always stay in a certain area, or would they move around at all to different areas, depending on time or year or something?
4. Aside from the leader and second, were there any other specific jobs within the clan, for instance people whose responsibility was the hunt, or would everyone sort of participate in all clan activities?
5. Related to this, in what ways did the clan's lifestyle/behaviors change after they formed the alliance and the castle was built? I imagine, even if the humans were at first very enthusiastic about their new gargoyles allies, there must have been some culture shock (on both of their parts) with having to share the same space and live together.
Thank you for your time!
2. Tend toward the fluid, I'd think. But I'm sure habits become traditions over time.
3. Clan life centered around Wyvern Hill, but they hunted, etc., all around the vicinity.
4. Warriors were also hunters. And every gargoyle was a warrior first, though some had other interests. Desdemona, for example, was spiritual, the closest thing they had to a Warrior-Priestess.
5. I think you can see most of this in our pilot.
Since Goliath and Demona are the same age roughly in 994 what would happen when Goliath became to old to lead the clan and stepped down? Wouldn't Demona also be too old?
Yes, it would have been a concern eventually. But they were both young at that stage, and the bigger concern at that time was death by violence, not by old age.
Hey Greg, I'm a huge fan of Gargoyles, but there's something that's been bothering me for quite some time... the fact that Goliath's clan, with the exception of Goliath, didn't name themselves until they awoke from their cursed slumber.
It strikes me that, at a bare minimum, they would have had extreme difficulty formulating plans for defending the castle and assigning roles. If they didn't have names, how did a typical strategy briefing go? How did Goliath make clear which gargoyles were in charge of which task? How did people get the attention of single gargoyles in the middle of a crowd?
Could you write a hypothetical dialogue of what they would say when setting up plans to defend the castle when addressing the entire, pre-slaughter clan?
I could. But I won't.
Gargoyles didn't have defined specific names, but they referred to each other by relationships, signifiers, etc. (For example, "My Angel of the Night" or the "Gargoyle of the Sword".) I'm sure they made it work.
You have said there were homosexual Gargoyles, are there also transgender Gargoyles that could transition? Also, how does surgery for Gargoyles work? Is that even a possibility for them, like something as easy as adding stone or shaping stone while they were in stone sleep, or operating on them while they were flesh or would it be impossible?
There has been no such thing as gender reassignment surgery for gargoyles. Frankly, there's been no such thing - for the most part - as SURGERY for gargoyles, period.
You definitely cannot operate on a sleeping gargoyle. But you could, in theory, operate on a gargoyle at night. I suppose you'd use an epidural or something. (I'm not a doctor.)
But, yes, I imagine there have been transgender gargoyles over the centuries.
We know that separations and affairs are quite rare among Gargoyles; what about rape? How rare it is among Gargoyles, and how much heinous it's considered as a crime?
It's rare and extremely heinous.
We know that, when Elisa dies, she's going to receive a Wind Ceremony, despite being human, because she's a full-fledged member of the clan. With that in mind...
1)Is she going to be the first human to receive a Wind Ceremony?
2)If, back in the middle ages, the Captain of the Guard had died without betraying the clan, would he have been given a Wind Ceremony?
3)If the Magus hadn't asked specifically to stay in the Hollow Hill, would he have been given a Wind Ceremony?
4)What about Katharine and Tom? When they die, are they going to receive Wind Ceremonies?
1. That seems unlikely.
2. Odds are he would have received human burial.
4. No spoilers.
This might seem like a weird question, but how do gargoyles greet each other. Like from different clans. Same or opposite sex greetings different? If then, how so? Like for Hudson, if he met a younger gargoyle (male or female) from another clan, how would they greet each other? Just very curious. I just can't find an answer to this question, I've looked nearly everywhere. Can you help me?
Did you look at the show itself? Or the comics? We've seen Hudson and other gargoyles meet and greet gargoyles from other clans multiple times.
Did Demona remember, when she saw the Magus, Katharine, and Tom taking the eggs out of the rookery, that she had laid one of those eggs?
Of course. But she also regarded ALL of those eggs as her rookery children. She could not have singled out the one egg she personally laid from all the others if she tried.
Hi, Greg, hope the tour's going well. Hope you have fun!
I've got a question about gargoyle eggs and customs. Does rookery parentage apply to every gargoyle in a generation of the right age to reproduce? For example, would Iago/Coldsteel be considered one of Angela's rookery fathers despite the fact that he never mated or had any involvement with producing eggs?
To some extent, it's up to the individual. One doesn't have to be a biological parent within an appropriate generation to participate in the raising of hatchlings. (It takes a clan, afterall.) But if one in essence opts out of the responsibility, that's considered a bit odd, but allowed.
When I visited Puerto Rico last fall (October of 2013) we went on a tour of the cave system in Camuy- which is awesome. On the tour, our guide commented that normally, human settlements only exist in caves that have a clear entrance and exit that face east and west- so that there is light in the cave during the day. For that reason, caves with north/south facings would be avoided.
Anyway, my question is- did pre-bronze age gargoyles tend to have settlements in cave systems over other areas- since their eggs need thermal energy access anyway?
Rookeries tended to be in underground caves.
Do gargoyles, as a race, have an common origin myth?
Generally, yes. But the clans over time became so spread out and isolated, variations abound.
Was there ever a Wind Ceremony for the gargoyles at Castle Wyvern?
If you mean the gargoyles massacred there by Hakon, then, no. Sad, right?
Dose Brooklyn have a younger sibling I read gargoyles couples each normally have three eggs/ three children so I know he has a brother dose he have a younger sibling.
For all we know, Brooklyn is the youngest of the three biological siblings. If he did have a younger sibling, he or she would be the same age as True.
But, of course, I'm not going to confirm or deny anything. No Spoilers.
Keep in mind that Brooklyn considers his siblings all to be the same age, give or take a day or two. The biology matters less than the Rookery.
Do gargoyles (specifically the Manhattan clan) recognize / notice misogyny and sexism in human societies? If so, what do they think about it? Does a similar gender hierarchy exist among gargoyles?
Thank you for your time!
1. It may sneak up on them. They'd probably think it was nuts. Especially since, from their point of view, ALL humans are so physically weak that the differences between male and female would seem negligible. Plus they certainly know that both male and female humans can be deadly and dangerous.
2. Largely no.
I read the gargoyles wiki on how they only have one mate for life but I couldn't find anything about how they actually chose their mates. Is it like a human and they just chose their mate by courting and falling in love with that gargoyle or does it have to do with certain things, like the horns, wing size, color, etc.?
Attraction plays into things, of course. But you saw how Angela and Broadway got together, and there are no RULES, per se.
I've checked the archives for this question to have been asked, but found nothing on the subject, so if this has been asked and answered already, I appologize in advance.
How long is a typical "reign" (for lack of a better term) for a clan leader - barring that leader being killed in battle, relenquishing the role early, being forcibly removed, etc.?
If you feel like pinning down a specific (which I verry much doubt, but hey, fingers crossed), how long did Hudson lead the Scotish clan before turning leadership over to Goliath?
I'm going to hazard a guess of arround 50 years...basing that assumption (and that's all it really is) on him/her being between at least old enough to mate (40) and hatching their last egg (90) - but probably older than both of those "landmarks"...am I even close?
I don't think there's a typical length, certainly not a set term. Death or retirement come when they come.
As to Hudson specifically, I don't have that information here at this office. Sorry.
So the #Gargoyles20 U.S. Tour continues. Stop #3 is CONvergence in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Well, actually in Bloomington, Minnesota, but close enough.) http://www.convergence-con.org
This is a big one for us. It includes a number of events that we used to do at the old Gathering of the Gargoyles Conventions, which ran from 1997-2009. And I know a bunch of Gargoyles fans will be attending, so it'll also be a reunion of sorts.
My schedule for the long weekend is quite packed - which is just how I like it!
THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2014
2:00pm - 3:00pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY AUDITIONS
Ever wanted to be in a radio play? Now is your chance! We are holding auditions for a live performance at CONvergence! You don't even have to be a fan of Gargoyles to enter. You just have to know how to read! Casting: Myself and Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice). Casting decisions will be posted by 7:00pm on Friday, July 4th. ATRIUM 7.
3:30pm - 4:30pm BUFFYVERSE TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Okay, so Gargoyles ISN'T the only show celebrating an anniversary. The Buffy/Angel universe has been off the air for ten years. Let's reminisce and talk about the impact these shows have had on TV fantasy since their cancellation. Panelists: Myself, Tim Lieder, Cetius d'Raven, Madeleine Rowe, Mark Goldberg. EDINA.
7:00pm - 8:00pm OPENING CEREMONY
If it's not exactly a magical invocation, it is nonetheless our official kick-off for the convention! Join CONvergence mascot Connie as we welcome our Guests of Honor, give out some awards (including the Mark Time and Ogle winners), and get this party started. Panelists: Myself, Amy Berg, Emma Bull, C. Robert Cargill, Sarah Clemens, Scott Lynch, Marina Sirtis, Frank Paur, Matthew Ebel, Dawn Krosnowski, Greg Guler, Rob Callahan, Windy Bowlsby, Michael Lee. MAIN STAGE.
9:00pm - 10:00pm GREG WEISMAN'S FANCY BASTARD PIE COMPETITION
Geek Partnership Society is excited to host the Greg Weisman Fancy Bastard Pie Competition at CONvergence 2014! It is open to all CONvergence members who wish to participate. The goal is to make a pie that Greg Weisman, herein to be known as "Fancy Bastard", likes best. The winner will be told super-secret Young Justice spoilers. Find out [some of] what would have happened in Season 3! (But winner must swear to secrecy to claim prize.) See below for some helpful hints.* CABANA 110.
FRIDAY, JULY 4th, 2014
11:00am - 12:00pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY AUDITIONS
Ever wanted to be in a radio play? Now is your chance! We are holding auditions for a live performance at CONvergence! You don't even have to be a fan of Gargoyles to enter. You just have to know how to read! Last chance to audition! Casting: Myself and Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice). Casting decisions will be posted by 7:00pm on Friday, July 4th. ATRIUM 7.
12:30pm - 1:30pm FROM TV TO COMICS
We'll discuss the TV shows that expanded into the comicverse, such as Buffy, Smallville, Young Justice and Gargoyles. Did they succeed? Were any of the comics improvements on the shows? How did canon change during the transition? Panelists: Myself (Gargoyles, Young Justice), Shawn van Briesen, Jonathan Palmer, Greg Guler (Gargoyles), Karine Charlebois (Gargoyles, Bad Guys), Christopher Jones (Batman Strikes, Young Justice, Bad Guys). PLAZA 2.
2:00pm - 3:00pm SIGNING
Myself, Christopher Jones (Young Justice, The Batman Strikes, Parallel Man) and Greg Guler (Gargoyles, Phineas and Ferb) will be holding a signing session. Both Chris and Greg always have an array of stuff (books, prints, etc.) to sell and sign. But this time I'm pretty darn prepared as well. First off, I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE - especially if you buy my book. ;) CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
3:30pm - 4:30pm CREATING GARGOYLES
This is what we used to call (at the Gathering) the Rocky Horror Gargoyles Show. The creators of Gargoyles show clips and tell stories of how the show came to be. Lots of visual aids. Panelists: Myself (Creator, Supervising Producer/Story Editor, Writer), Frank Paur ( (Supervising Producer/Director), Greg Guler (Lead Character Designer). ATRIUM 6.
7:00pm - 8:00pm TIME TRAVEL THEORY
Let's assume for a moment that Time Travel is possible. This panel will explore the theories behind such technology. We'll explore quantum realities, temporal anomalies and all other challenges our theoretical time travelers will be face! [Now, I suggested this panel, but then they went and put some actual scientists on the damn thing. So I may quickly be embarrassed into silence.] ;) Panelists: Myself, Nicole Gugliucci, Jim Kakalios, G. David Nordley, Amy Berg. ATRIUM 4.
8:30pm - 9:30pm GARGOYLES Q&A
Join the cast and creators of the "Gargoyles" series and SLG companion comic books to ask and talk about the property. And, as always, Cosplayers are welcome! Panelists: Myself (Creator, Supervising Producer/Story Editor, Writer), Christopher Jones (Bad Guys guest artist), Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona and Margot Yale), Frank Paur (Supervising Producer/Director), Karine Charlebois (Gargoyles Guest Artist, Bad Guys Artist), Greg Guler (Lead Character Designer, Gargoyles Guest Artist). MAIN STAGE.
SATURDAY, JULY 5th, 2014
9:30am - 10:30am GARGOYLES SIGNING
Myself, Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona and Margot Yale) and Frank Paur (Supervising Producer/Director) will be holding a signing session. Again, I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE. CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
11:00am - 12:25pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY REHEARSAL
This is a closed session - for those who were cast in the Radio Play - led by Myself, Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice) & Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona, Margot Yale and Queen Bee). ATRIUM 6.
12:30pm - 1:30pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY PERFORMANCE
Fans and professionals - including Myself (voice of Donald Menken and Lucas "Snapper" Carr), Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice), and of course, Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi from Star Trek TNG and the voice of Demona, Margot Yale and Queen Bee) - perform a LIVE, ORIGINAL Gargoyles radio play! ATRIUM 6.
2:00pm - 3:00pm GARGOYLES BIOLOGY AND CULTURE
A "what if" panel about the biology and culture of the Gargoyles universe. Creators and performers speculate about anything and everything going on outside the frames of the TV series. Panelists: Craig A. Finseth moderates Myself (Creator, Producer) and Greg Guler (Lead Character Designer). ATRIUM 7.
3:30pm - 4:30pm RAIN OF THE GHOSTS
I'll be reading from and talking about the world and characters of my novel "Rain of the Ghosts" and its sequel, "Spirits of Ash and Foam," which comes out July 8th, 2014, one week after the convention! ATRIUM 3.
7:00pm - 8:00pm ONE ON ONE WITH GREG WEISMAN
Hal Bichel will moderate a one-on-one panel with Myself. PLAZA 2.
8:30pm - 9:30pm SIGNING
Once again, I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE. CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
10:00pm - 11:00pm BLUE MUG
Ever wonder about the sexual habits of Gargoyles? Ever wonder who was sleeping with whom among the Young Justice Team or the cast of Spectacular Spider-Man? Join us for for a late night peek at your favorite animated series. This panel will get blue! (So attendees will be carded!) Panelists: Myself, Christopher Jones, Mara Cordova (Last Tengu in Paris Artist). It is also rumored that Edmund Tsabard (an unfancy bastard and Last Tengu in Paris Writer) may make an appearance. EDINA.
SUNDAY, JULY 6th, 2014
11:00am - 12:00pm PROTOFEMINISTS IN SHAKESPEARE
Shakespeare portrayed several intelligent, independent, and self-aware women--Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Katharine, Beatrice, Viola, Rosalind. We'll discuss the problematic and the remarkably (for the era) fleshed-out aspects of their representation. Panelists: Myself, Elizabeth Bear, Ashley F. Miller, Joseph Erickson, Alexandra Howes. EDINA.
12:30pm - 1:30pm GARGOYLES FAN PANEL
It's the 20th Anniversary of Gargoyles. Come share your favorite moments from the show. As always, Cosplayers are welcome! Panelists: Daniel Mohr moderates Myself, Ryan Alexander, Robert Wagner, Maggie Schultz, Jennifer Anderson, Karine Charlebois. ATRIUM 6.
2:00pm - 3:00pm SIGNING
Myself and Greg Guler (Gargoyles, Phineas and Ferb) will be holding one last signing session. Greg G. always has an array of stuff (books, prints, etc.) to sell and sign. And I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE - especially if you buy my book. CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
3:30pm - 4:30pm YOUNG JUSTICE
Creative minds behind the Young Justice TV and comic book series will talk about this fan favorite. We're planning some special surprises as well. And, as always, Cosplayers are welcome! Panelists: Myself, Marina Sirtis (voice of Queen Bee), Christopher Jones (Artist YJ Comic). MAIN STAGE.
5:00pm - 6:00pm CLOSING CEREMONY
It's not over 'til the gynoid sings - or something like that. Join CONvergence mascot Connie and our Guests of Honor as we say farewell to another convention. Shenanigans may ensue. Panelists: Myself, Amy Berg, Emma Bull, C. Robert Cargill, Sarah Clemens, Scott Lynch, Marina Sirtis, Matthew Ebel, Frank Paur, Dawn Krosnowski, Greg Guler, Windy Bowlsby, Rob Callahan, Michael Lee. MAIN STAGE
SEE?!! I told you there was a lot. And that's only the stuff that I'm doing. CONvergence is jam-packed with all sorts of pop culture nutritional goodness. So stop by and say hello!!
*In the interest of Full Disclosure, Fancy Bastard would like all to know that he especially likes the following pies:
BERRY (pretty much any kind of berry or a mix of same)
BANANA CREAM (herein to be known as the funniest pie)
Combinations of some of the fruit pies can be great. Contestants are welcome to try other pies at their own risk.
Fancy Bastard does NOT especially like the following pies:
Anything with Chocolate or Lemon or Meringue
Raisins in Apple Pie
Almost never Cherry, though he has tasted the rare exception...
Hello Mr. Wiesman,
I have been reading the archives and I have a couple of questions regarding the more obscure Gaegoyle clans:
1) Youve mentioned that the Xanadu clan exists to protect the Beast lineage. My question is, are their Beasts all from Chinese stock, or have they incorporated other "breeds" (so to speak) into that gene-pool? Basically, Im asking if they all have the same basic appearance, or reflect all types of Beasts.
2) You also once said that the Lach Ness clan were aquatic in nature. Does that mean that they are truly amphibious (like frogs), or can they just hold their breath for long lengths of time (like dolphins)?
1. Leaning toward the latter, but haven't made a final decision yet.
2. Likewise, I haven't decided, though again I lean toward the latter.
These might both be good questions to bring up at the Gargoyles Biology and Culture panel this July at CONvergence. There are always some actual biologists in the room to advise me.
If, for whatever reason, the body of a Gargoyle can't be recovered for the Wind Ceremony, is there some kind of alternative ritual?
It's the same basic ritual, just without the ashes or dust. Though, like humans, Gargoyles may be reluctant to declare someone dead without a body as evidence.
Gargoyle Culture & Biology
So, in most social species there is an evolved strategy that encourages gene diversification and limits inbreeding. In lions, for instance, the males leave the pride at maturity to take over a different pride and mate with the females of that group rather than stay and have only their sisters and aunts and female cousins to mate with. In bonobos, it is the females that often leave to join new groups and find unrelated males to mate with.
Now, obviously, in the Gargoyles Universe, up until very recently there was very little genetic exchange between the surviving far flung and isolated clans. But back in their heyday, when the nearest clan to your own was well known and could be reached, was there any sort of social strategy to encourage genetic diversity or has finding a mate among your own rookery siblings always been the norm?
And now that the clans are becoming more known to each other and able to move from clan to clan more easily, will this issue cause more inter-clan mating? Does the mixing of the 2198 rookery eggs have anything to do with this or is that just a symbolic gesture of the Gargoyle Nation?
Well, keep in mind that rookery siblings are almost by definition NOT biological siblings. But there's probably a lot of cousins in there.
There will definitely be more inter-clan mating in the modern age. And ganging the 2198 rookery eggs may have had a dual purpose.
But this is definitely a topic I'm open to discussing... say at the Gargoyles Biology and Culture panel at CONvergence this summer!
Hey again Greg, I have another question for you
How do gargoyles view homosexuality? More specifically the Manhattan clan sense Lexington is confirmed to be homosexual, but knowing about the other gargoyles would be nice too.
Thanks Greg, I wish Peter David the best and I'll see if I can help.
As for Peter, I'll thank you on his behalf.
As for your question, I'm afraid it's been ASKED AND ANSWERED over and over again. Please check the ASK GREG Archives under either "Lexington" or "Gargoyle Customs" or both.
Hey Greg! Hope that you're doing well, and that the holiday season is treating/did treat (depending on when you read this) your family happily.
What follows is a paper I recently submitted to my Contemporary Political Theory class at Pomona College, interrelating several of the concepts from the book we discussed that week ("You Are Not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier) with the notion of namelessness in traditional gargoyle culture.
My professor (unfamiliar with the show, but very intrigued when I explained it to her) really got a kick out of the piece, and I earned a more-or-less "A-" equivalent for it. But as long as I've got it sitting around, I figured you might enjoy giving it a read as well.
[NOTE: You may want to review this post you made on Ask Greg in 2004 beforehand, as it is cited frequently: http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?rid=387].
Now, without further ado, the essay. It has been edited from the submitted version only by rearranging paragraph breaks...
The 1994 animated television series Gargoyles posits a highly intelligent species which dominated the Earth prior to human genesis and ascendance.
These gargoyles possess a unique culture which predates humanity's by a significant period, but the first on-screen depiction of the gargoyle species takes place in the 10th century, after millions of years of convergent evolution between the two cultures.
Indeed, the pilot episodes depict the essential death of one lingering component of gargoyle culture, at least for the series protagonists: that gargoyles lack personal names. This idea is first discussed in a conversation between two gargoyles and a human boy:
TOM: I'm Tom. What's your name?
GARGOYLE #1: Except for Goliath, we don't have names.
TOM: How do you tell each other apart?
GARGOYLE #1: We look different.
TOM: But what do you call each other?
GARGOYLE #2: (shrugs) Friend.
For context, "Goliath" is the leader of the clan of gargoyles to which the protagonists belong, and their liaison to the humans with whom they share an uneasy alliance; those humans felt incapable of dealing with a nameless entity, and Goliath did not bother to reject the name they selected for him.
Still, he does not use the name in communicating with his own clan until a betrayal by their human allies and a magical curse cause the protagonists to sleep as statues and then reawaken in 20th century Manhattan.
Here they meet and befriend Elisa Maza, a police detective who is both confused by and - for reasons she has trouble articulating - uncomfortable with this traditional lack of names. The following exchange takes place between Elisa and the clan's elderly mentor:
ELISA: Are you coming on the tour…uh, what do I call you, anyway?
GARGOYLE: Must you humans name everything? Nothing's real to you till you've named it, given it limits!
ELISA: It's not like that! It's just that…well, uh…things need names.
GARGOYLE: Does the sky need a name? Does the river?
ELISA: The river's called the Hudson.
GARGOYLE: (sighs) Fine, lass…then I will be 'the Hudson' as well.
ELISA: Great! Hudson it is.
From that point onward, that particular gargoyle is known as Hudson, and only Hudson.
The younger gargoyles who survived the centuries follow suit; the two who conversed with Tom become Lexington and Brooklyn, for example. And Goliath more-or-less fully accepts the moniker afforded him by the Dark Age humans.
As Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman points out, "naming is clearly addictive," and once they are established the convenience they offer makes doing away with them virtually impossible. Thus, for the Manhattan Clan of gargoyles, namelessness largely remains a thing of the past for the remainder of the series.
In "You Are Not a Gadget," Jaron Lanier describes the phenomenon experienced by these gargoyles using the term "lock-in."
As Lanier puts it, "lock-in…removes design options based on what is easiest to program, what is politically feasible, what is fashionable, or what is created by chance." Furthermore, the process "also reduces or narrows the ideas it immortalizes, by cutting away the unfathomable penumbra of meaning."
Despite originally referring to programming language, this is a perfect description of the process that "Hudson" has been subjected to in the previous scene.
Names are a method of defining identity, which necessarily must involve "giving it limits." But in traditional gargoyle culture, identity has greater meaning than that; it is amorphous, and changes with the circumstances.
The gargoyle who first made a compact with the humans at Castle Wyvern is the same gargoyle who mated three times and produced three progeny; he is the same gargoyle who fought the evil Archmage and received a wound that blinded him in one eye; he is the same gargoyle who slept for centuries and once awakened, found himself fascinated with the television show "Celebrity Hockey."
Does one name - Hudson - really encapsulate all of these aspects of his identity?
In-and-of-itself, all it signifies is that the place Hudson awoke in was modern-day New York (a cut line from the episode's script even has Elisa commenting, "Good thing we weren't facing Queens," emphasizing with humor how off-hand and esoteric the choice was).
That name was "locked-in" as the full and entire representation of the character from that point onward, solely because it was politically feasible (it makes dealing with Elisa and later human allies far more expedient), it was fashionable (every other intelligent being in 1994 New York has a name, so why not the gargoyles?), and it was created by chance (quite literally in this case, as the "Queens" quote illustrates).
And the result is that the very meaning of his identity is narrowed. He is no longer capable of being someone at a particular moment, and someone else in the next.
He is always Hudson.
There is an even greater story here, however, which Weisman's later musings have helped to illuminate. As he once observed, "Gargoyles don't seem to have a native language. They acquire human language, perhaps much the same way that they acquire names…And language, in many ways, is just sophisticated naming."
This is a compelling point. As he later notes, a different and arguably much more persuasive response that Elisa could have offered is that the river is called "the river."
Languages are systems for describing objects, concepts, actions, etc. using strict and uniform definitions, confining them to names that society calls words.
But does a name like "the sky" really fully encapsulate the meaning inherent within the depths that humans observe from below? Does it even begin to provoke a holistic understanding of its astronomical, religious, chemical, or poetic contexts?
And even more to the point, what of metaphysical concepts like "justice"? Can a single clear definition even exist for such a weighty and nebulous notion - and if not, does sticking the name "justice" to it not necessarily limit it?
Lanier certainly appears to believe so. As he conceives it, the system of symbology under which all current human languages operate is itself a lock-in; at best, a "middleman" between intent and "directly creating shared experience" that he wants to work to cut out.
His method for doing so is improvements on virtual reality, until researchers develop "the ability to morph at will, as fast as we can think."
Lanier envisions a world where the rather simplistic words "I'm hungry" will not be the only way to communicate the sensation which has brought them on - instead, he sees potential in the power of virtual reality technology to place us in the bodies of others, as a way to intimate the sensation itself.
Humanity would no longer have to be limited to extracting some piece of the concept it calls "hunger," giving it that name, and using it as code so that others who know the symbology of the English language will understand some approximation of that concept.
The concept would simply be understood, and communication would be a straightforward matter of imparting that understanding.
But perhaps there is an even better solution than this - although one that is, unfortunately, largely forgotten.
Presented with the puzzle that gargoyles are highly gregarious and intelligent by nature and yet appear to lack any notion of their own language, Weisman has mused that perhaps, long before human language evolved and became the locked-in method for communication, the gargoyle species possessed "mild psychic abilities that left them with no need to create language."
While emphasizing that he was only asserting a possibility, the communication he imagines - where it was not "words that they intuited (or transmitted or read or whatever) but emotions, maybe images or sensations" - sounds exceedingly similar to what Lanier hopes to achieve through virtual reality.
Such communication would be consistent with what audience knows about pre-human gargoyle culture, where definition and identity are situational as opposed to consistently codified.
But if that is the case, it leads to a rather lamentable conclusion. As Weisman puts it, "perhaps the very language skills that gargoyles learned from the human race dampened their psychic intuitiveness;" in other words, lock-in of a very particular method of communication (symbology) "locked-out" another method that presented communicative possibilities human technology can currently only dream of.
The initial insistence on not using personal names, then, can be considered a lingering hold-out of a bygone era where every concept was considered unlimited, and every sensation intimated in their full depth.
In dealing with nascent human cultures, gargoyles must have gradually accepted the limiting of concepts like "sky" or "river" because this made interspecies congress significantly more efficient, but they resisted the longest on the limiting of the very depths of the self.
But with the permanent instatement of "Hudson" and the rest, there does not appear to be room to return to the possibilities an unlimited identity presents. Human language has killed them.
Of course, both the gargoyle race and their culture are fantastical constructions, but that does not necessarily mean that humans cannot learn from their fictional example.
While humans do not seem to share these "mild psychic abilities" (although there are some who would vehemently disagree with that statement) that Weisman hypothesizes, that there are methods of sensation and communication which precede language skills is clearly documented.
As with gargoyles, members of the species Homo sapiens did exist well before the development of the earliest known language, and while current understanding of those early cultures is limited at best, there is also a much more immediate example to turn to.
Newborns spend a few years before they learn to define the world around them in the code of words - the sun is an experience to them long before the strictly defined, limiting name of "the sun" is ever applied to it.
The depths of what could be learned from observing children raised without learning language skills, interpreting sensations and intimating them to others via methods of their own device, are boundless; of course, the enormous ethical travesty presented by such experiments means they are not a viable avenue for inquiry.
So instead, humans turn to fiction - attempting to realize through others what that they have long since lost, and yearn to find again.
Greg Weisman has often described gargoyle culture, and pre-human gargoyle culture specifically, as something of a wish fulfillment for him. "I'm such a human," he laments with a written-out sigh, "But I aspire to gargoylosity."
Well, if the virtual reality morphing that so excites Jaron Lanier can indeed allow humans to experience sensation as a pre-human gargoyle (or a pre-language human, or a baby, or even a cephalopod) did/does - if it has the potential to turn the clock back as well as forward, and show what it is like for things simply to be, without the cumbersome and restrictive middleman of naming them - then perhaps that is an aspiration that more humans should share.
At first, when you mentioned 'You Are Not a Gadget', I couldn't help thinking the follow-up statement would be 'You Are a Chip, a Dale or a Monterey Jack'. Talk about lock-in.
Anyway, is it immodest to say that your essay warmed my heart? I enjoyed reading it. And I found it quite insightful. I do believe my own thinking has evolved since I wrote that ramble on gargoyles' latent psychic abilities. My thinking now is less psychic and more intuitive based on sensory clues.
But it doesn't change my positive response to your thesis. And it also speaks to one of my goals - perhaps even needs (NEEDS) - as a writer. Using words, multiple, multiple words, in an attempt to reach beyond the lock-in that comes with words like river or sun or Hudson or, most especially, Greg. The original version of Hudson's line was something like: 'Nothing is real to you until you've named it, defined it, given it limits.' More words to more fully illustrate the concept. And often in my writing I find myself trying to paint pictures with more and more words in an almost poetic sense. That verbosity is often counterproductive when writing dialogue. But I LIKE to think it lends - even when cut back and cut down - a certain depth to the dialogue. But it's a constant push and pull in my writing between trying to find just the one right word and using many, many to paint that fuller picture.
I live with roommates directly across the street from a church and directly above a funeral home. We have a gargoyle in the window facing the church. Is this bad? We've been experiencing weird happenings in the house and get uneasy in a particular area of the house and I'd like to know if removing the gargoyle might help. I know that they're meant to keep evil out of a church and that's why they face away from them, but I wonder if having a gargoyle facing the church is bringing bad vibes to my apartment.
I doubt it. Probably the reverse. It's protecting you from something even worse.
(We're kidding around here, correct?)
When you were writing the "Gargoyles" comics for Slave Labor Graphics, did you ever mentally associate any of the scenes you wrote with the different musical themes from the television series? (I thought of this question after I realized that I was mentally linking Brooklyn's words when he returns from his Timedancing, "Forever... forty years... forty seconds... however you keep time, the dance is finally done" to the music that played in "The Gathering Part One" when Goliath was talking about how Avalon had finally released them from its quest and now they were home.
Honestly, I'm not sure I did.
I have a question about gargoyle justice. Goliath considered dropping Tony Dracon to his death in "Protection," but decided that "gargoyle justice isn't human justice." So, I have to wonder... in what circumstances does a gargoyle arrive at taking the life of another to extract justice? I guess I'm just curious to know where does banishment end, and death begin?
An enemy in the heat of battle - particularly one who has attacked a member of the clan - was considered fair game for killing.