Sunday, May 12, 2013
The Brotherhood Without Banners
I am fairly obsessed with Games of Thrones. I have watched all the episodes on HBO and read the first three books and now beginning book four. It is a complex nuanced world with seven kings and numerous factions all contending for the Iron Throne, the uber-hrone of the Land of Westeros and various outlaying lands. It is a gritty dirty bloody world obsessed with political and religious strife and about as far removed from happy hobbits and most modern sword and sorcery fantasy as possible. Some of the dialogue and scheming is positively Shakespearean and Macheavialian. It is also one of the few fantasy realms where women hold significant power. Also people die, lots of people, powerful folks, fan favorites, in fact there are entire royal families where we are running out heirs above the age of 11.
There is also a lively series of articles examining the economics of Game of Thrones for those of you looking for even more ways to avoid grading exams.
One of the things that used to annoy me was the amount of time and space that the author devotes to the sigils, banners and mottoes of the major and minor royal houses and their bannermean. (Guess, you can't be a bannerman without a banner). For the House of Stark in the north, their symbol is the wolf and they are constantly reminding us that "Winter is Coming". For the Lannisters, it is the Lion and the vaguely menacing "A Lannister Always Pays His Debts." There is even the Brotherhood without Banner, an egalitarian group of both knights and commoners who have religious and moral scruples, but also a streak of banditry about them.
But the more I think about, the more I am convinced that the banners and symbols define who they are and what we are to think of a world where there are few heroes, but many seeking power.
This has led me to think about our brotherhood of runners. Are we the brotherhood without banners? Do we seek the Iron Man, if not the Iron Throne? Even if we don't seek the throne, for whom do we compete? What are our sigils, banners, and mottoes?
Why, our teeshirts of course. We receive them from each race and then wear them for months if not years afterwards for training and other races. On the running path, I see the loyal members of the Houses of Shamrock Shuffles, Lakefront 10s, Chicago Halves, Chicago Marathons, the minor 5K houses, and the occasional exotic foreign houses.
Sometimes I see the banners of the merchant houses of Nike, Reebok, Aasics and more. It is a chaotic array of colors and symbols worthy of King's Landing the Free Islands.
So I propose we spend a few moments thinking of about a symbol, banner and motto. All suggestions both serious and not welcome. Since I have no visual design sense at all, I will leave the symbols to others, except to note that NPR Planet Money now has a teeshirt with a great pun on John Maynard Keynes famous line about "animal spirits" driving the economy. They went with a squirrel holding a martini glass.
But to get the ball rolling on mottoes, how about:
"Competition for the Long Run"?