I’m just going to come out and say that although it was not the song – nor the movie – that inspired me to create this ambigram, it, however, kept on playing non-stop in my mind all the while I was in the process. And I will bet John Parr’s voice is taking up space inside your head and between your ears right now as you read these first few lines.
I don’t blame you.
From a monotype sketch comes this fully digital vector. And while I was adamant on anchoring the chain on the “S” I was pleasantly surprised at how the dot on the “St.” abbreviation flipped over to be an apostrophe. As a whole my only concern with this is if the overturned “t” will be too much of an eyesore as it basically has nothing to do there but hang. But really looking at it (especially the full chain version) I thought it did not stick out too much like a sore thumb as I really had to look for that over turned glyph. And I thought to myself that if I even had to look for it, then it probably would not take much away from the whole picture.
I don’t really have much of an essay to write here as this is one of those spur of the moment ideas… I suddenly thought of it (a couple of months back) and somehow managed to finalize the artwork in about two days. Unlike my other ambigrams that I could go on with stories of wracking my brain to find a solution and finding little time to vectorize it- I am happy with this one, this was essentially an easy one for me.
Unfortunately though I could not think of a less obvious title for this post.
I can see the new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher...
According to Philippine urban legends, it is around Semana Santa (holy week) when the power of talismans (or agimat or anting-anting) manifests itself fully. Especially on Good Friday.
When I was young, I hear of tales told of men and women largely from the Southern Tagalog provinces, testing (or showing off) their talismans, which by the way is pronounced talis-man as opposed to the western tal-is-man, in what could be described as a grand fiesta or parade.After an oracion – a prayer spoken in “Latin” – was made, usually around 3pm, to a revered piece of rustic coin-sized smelted metal engraved or cast with either pagan symbol or Catholic imagery, that is either folded inside a similarly venerated cloth or worn around the neck tied to a crude leather twine as a jewelry, the test begin. Since my Latin is limited to those I learned in Biology, I cannot attest to the veracity of any Latin prayer in the stories, ‘tho I think that it’s mostly broken Castellano. Sporting a big grin, participants would hack themselves with a recently sharpened bolo (or any similarly fashioned exhibition) showing the bewildered spectators that indeed the power of prayer and faith in their talisman of choice prevent any harmful affliction.
Supposedly there are number of different specialized agimat. The one I described above is a typical one that block any harmful physical effect. There is also a tagabulag (bulag = blind, blindness) which renders the wearer invisible, and there are those that prevent sickness or poisoning. There are those that are supposed to enhance one’s virility and endowment, and there are those that increase chances of instant financial gratification, yes, a charm for gambling.
This pagan exercise has become intertwined with our Catholic faith, wherein a number of proliferating agimat now bear Christian iconography and mostly all of the deities prayed upon were replaced with names of Catholic cast of characters, however, our version is tied to our South-East Asian (Malay) roots. While the west have just as much rich narrative in their versions of the talisman, I think that the innate nature of Filipinos being a superstitious society made the amalgamation of multiple influences seamless. We are very much welcoming of other nations superstition and brew them in with ours.
Our pop culture is littered with references to heroes owing their powers to such items. A usual story would be of young men seeking hermits and after proving their worth were presented with a highly sought after talisman. While most agimat now can be commercially bought along the side streets of old churches, it used to be that amulets and charms were handed down by elders in their death beds- these are supposed to be the more powerful ones. Although, I remember that talismans provided by nature are even more powerful. Most popular is the Mutya ng Puso ng Saging, where one would need to religiously wait at midnight for it to drip from the tip of the banana blossom and catch it with their tongue. The actual power gained from this ritual seems vague as most story present the hero with whatever the storyteller come up with or as maybe required, ie, plot convenience. But the Mutya has got to be the most romanticized story of the agimat ever.
Personally, my draw to the agaimat is a result of me being a writer/dreamer/artist/creator and I celebrate its place and hold in my culture. But to its efficacy?… nah, maybe when I was 10. Although Manila is a very techie world now, to a certain degree a lot of Filipinos still swear by the agimat, which again I attribute to our superstitious nature. And admit it or not a lot of our historical (and present political) figures and leaders as well believe in the agimat.
The talisman and agimat suliktad were created a few years apart. While I have sketched agimat sometime 2008-9, it was only finished early 2015 to what it currently appear after a series of re-designs. Talisman was sketched early 2016 and was finished to the current style just recently, after a series of re-designs as well, which was an afterthought to make it similar to the style of agimat after realizing that I should put these two together since they are basically the same thing.
Although in creating talisman, I have the option of designing it to a fairly doable rotational ambigram, I opted to create a chain instead as I wanted to preserve the “s” flip more than anything and I really intended for it to form a ring around a symbol, which in the final design turned out to be the word agimat.
The coin and the oracion page were recent edits. However, the coin was a poor scan of the 70’s Jose Rizal peso coin that I had made around the same time in 2008-9. The distressed oracion paper is the same one I have used as background material for other ambigrams you might find in this blog. Finally, the generic pagan prayer in the oracion is a quick English to Google Latin translation, which I found out, oddly translates back to English quite differently.
My Dear Robert,
Ahh, I sure would care to see the look upon your face when you get this quite unexpected letter from me. Especially after this letter will have found you in the eventuality of my death.
I have missed you. It has been a while since I last saw you with Saunière’s granddaughter from within the police vehicle as they drove me away. How is she, by the way? Neither of you went to my sentencing. And you kept the Priory’s final secrets from me very well. Oh, how I wish I was with you when you went to see The Grail’s final resting place. Were you able to trace the bloodline? Ahh, but I hold no ill feeling. You did what you thought was necessary as I did what I thought was.
Although, my dear Robert, my reasons were far more devious than I lead on, for mine were personal. I had to find the Grail for my own salvation.
Let me enlighten you: if you thought my murdering all those people to reveal the best kept secret the world never knew was the worst I have done, well I have done graver things. So grave that only the blood of Christ or that of the redeemer’s descendants can save me.
And now my sins have come back to persecute me and rightfully render judgment. I shall soon be dead in a way more hideous than anyone could ever imagine.
Die if I must, I thought I needed to tell this story to someone I could trust, someone who once considered me a friend.
Under strange circumstances, four days ago, William Clay and his brother Simon were both murdered right inside the study of their nice home in New York. Simon died from blood loss when the killer’s bullet severed an artery in his neck, before being stabbed 52 times. While William, I found, received the same amount of stab wounds on his face and torso before being shot right between the eyes. The object used to stab William was a shard from one of the damaged glass casings in the study, which housed rare items. The study was devastated. However, while every curio lay scattered on the floor among the broken glass shards, the authorities found only one item missing…
A book. Or to be more specific: loose pages from a book.
So what did this have to do with the Grail and my impending death, you ask?
Well, William Clay was born Hans Wilhelm Gruber, third son to an Austrian cobbler and a Bavarian school teacher. Even in his younger days, he already showed a great fascination and interest in Ariosophy; the occult mysticism and Volkisch studies that not too long after military school, he became part of the Thule Society, with Alfred Rosenberg as benefactor.
Gruber not only shared Rosenberg’s anti-Semetic stance but was a staunch advocate of his patron’s religious views and was even more outspoken about having Christianity eliminated – it being born out of Judaism – favoring the revival of Asatru as the true religion.
His “invaluable” assistance to Rosenberg in leading the Nazis while Hitler was imprisoned after the Munich Beer Hall Putsch earned him a position of considerable influence at the Ahnenerbe ranks.
But, dear Robert, I may have buried the lead in neglecting to say that both of Wilhelm’s brothers died of cholera at a very young age…
So who, you may ask, was Simon Clay?
Wilhelm’s fascination with the occult got him associated with the Thule Society. But more than what the society had to give, he was intrigued with a charismatic young astrologer and clairvoyant who was the ward of Erik Hanussen- he was called Simon Peter Krieg. It was thought that Krieg, not Hanussen, taught Hitler the secrets of influencing a crowd. Before Hanussen’s death, however, Krieg went on his own and became astrologer to various high ranking officers within the Schutzstaffel, including Heinrich Himmler who introduced him to the Ahnenerbe in order to attempt “to harness not only natural, but also supernatural forces.” There, he was first introduced to Wilhelm Gruber, two years before I met them both.
I was not aware that my research attracted the attention of the Ahnenerbe up until the time they showed up in my place near Vienna. While their agenda was incongruent with my take on the matter, they were just as passionate in locating the whereabouts of the grail. And they were more than willing to pay for my services.
For what it was worth, the two offered genuine friendship to me. And while I am not one to judge… Gruber and Krieg seemed to be even more friendly with each other.
Gruber and Krieg, with their unquenchable thirst for the search of mystical forces to control, spearheaded the Nazi’s quest to find the Heilige Lanze, the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, the hamarinn Asabragr, the Book of Thot, the Illuminati diamond, the Philosopher’s Stone, and Jason’s Golden Fleece, among others. All of their research were written down on a carefully crafted journal whose pages were watermarked with ambigrams of the names of high-ranking Nazi members.
Supposedly, these ambigrams were designed by Krieg himself, whom I learned was well-versed in symbolism. Gruber had him create a series of ambigrams which he believed would provide immense power to those whose names were made into. Of course, we now know the case was not such, but that gesture made Gruber and Krieg favorable in the eyes of the Fuhrer. This journal with ambigram watermarks that they called “Buch der Arische Weisheit” was mass-produced and distributed to everyone whose names were made into ambigrams – from Hiltler to Hess.
While my own search for the grail was at a standstill, Gruber and Krieg approached me in haste late July of 1944. They said the SS were looking for them. Krieg said that there were talks that they had already found some powerful relics and they were keeping them for themselves and were behind plans to overthrow the Fuhrer. They were being linked to Stauffenberg. Gruber insisted they were not party to the plot and he was contemplating on turning himself in to explain. He wanted to know how goes my search so that they may use it in their defense. Krieg was more realistic in his belief that all would be for naught as all the journals they had given out were already collected and destroyed. Everyone was keeping their distance. Krieg was very convincing when he presented an alternative plan. He said they both needed to die. They were to die in an explosion, supposedly while attempting to harness unfathomable energies. Their bodies would be found and declared dead and their betrayal touted true.
And I was to help them carry this out. All I needed to do was find them doppelgangers.
I don’t know what made me agree to this proposal. It could be the thirty uncut diamonds he handed me instantly or the scrap of paper with three names written on it with the heading “Grobmeister.” Whatever it was, it took no time at all for me to lure two unsuspecting interns…
Gruber and Krieg had other people help them out of Berlin and the news of the explosion was the last time I heard of both. Indeed, it happened the way Krieg envisioned it.
Fast-forward to spring of ’91 when a Prussian Psychologist named Simon Clay purchased at an auction in Monte Cristo a surviving Hitler ambigram page of the now infamous “Buch der Arische Weisheit.” That was when I knew both he and “his brother” were still alive.
As to who killed them both, I have no idea. But I could hazard a guess as to “why”, and if I should follow their fate, then it could only mean that somebody may have found out the real identities of Gruber and Krieg. If so, then a few more dead bodies shall follow. For, like the Clays, both men continued to delve with the occult and mysticism and founded a society similar to the Thule.
It took a while for me to decide if I would go on and confess my sins to you. I had to stop for a good three hours before coming back to this letter. While I have divulged my association with the Clays and what I have done to help them escape, try as much, I find it rather hard to tell you the reason for which I am to die. Believe me, I thought I could but I am afraid it is something I will take to my grave. I could be wrong with my fate Robert, but it is very likely that I am not. Instead, I shall let you find out only if you wish to and not because circumstances have forced their way to you. Please indulge an old man about to meet his judgment, let me leave you with
POLIAM FRATER FRANCISCVS COLVMNA PERAMAVIT. Admits Unusual.
goodbye my dear,
Inspector Drebin took a drag off his Alhambra and stubbed the butt on the tray as he blew a cloud of musky smoke. He then folded the letter along its creases, gazed into the eyes of the man seated in front of him then flipped it across the desk.
He shifted his eyes towards the unimpressive key he had confiscated from the American. Odd little thing. “So that is how you got yourself involved, professor?” he asked as he lifted the key to about six inches to his face. “That is all you can tell me, no?”
Robert reached for the letter then slid it inside the breast pocket of his Harris Tweed. “That’s all there is… the rest you know.”
“You believe this? This whatshisname…? Mr. Leigh, right? His narrative of Nazi mumbo jumbo? Ario-so-cra-cy? But more importantly – Jesus had … children?”
Robert disregarded the last remark but tried to make his explanation as understandable as possible. “It’s actually Ariosophy. A branch of study by the Nazi rooted in the belief that true Germans originated from the superhuman race of Aryans. The Nazis were widely believed to have been eager to lay claim to mystical objects, icons and symbols that they thought would grant them eternal power, the Swastika, the Spear of Destiny, the Holy Grail…”
The tired Inspector waved him off, uninterested. “Yeah, yeah… you see, professor, I’m a simple man. I go by what is in front of me. I got here with me a simple case. This key here, opens SOMETHING that someone wants. And whoever that someone is – WILL kill to have it in his possession.
Now, this “something” belonged to William Clay, that was passed on to a couple of people until it reached your dead friend. Now, it’s likely that those dead people indeed were Nazi fucks and somebody found them out and began offing them- which by the way, if true, IS exactly what they deserved, but…..”
Inspector Drebin stuck another Alhambra between his lips and drew close his disposable lighter.
“That does not explain why you were found locked up beside a dead man, inside the private vault of…”
Just then, two loud gunshots rang. Then another and another. There were now multiple gunshots blazing a few meters outside the room. The two men looked at each other, then the Inspector dropped the Aldus key and the evidence back inside his drawer and locked them in.
He walked from around the desk towards the door, drew his service firearm, turned around and instructed the man being questioned, “Stay here.”
As the inspector rushed outside, Robert stood up and walked behind the desk and jiggled the drawer. The gunshots were getting closer. He inspected the lock and thanked his lucky stars that they were just cheap regular drawer locks, the kind easily opened with a paper clip.
The blaring noise was now just a few meters away.
As if used with a proper key, the lock unlatched and Robert drew the drawer open. Immediately, he grabbed the Aldus key and was about to close the drawer back when he spotted something on the evidence bag that he failed to recognize earlier.
The ambigram was not the important element on the page. It was something that was printed on the other side. Something printed with a special ink that was revealed when it was exposed to the dead banker’s blood. The reason why the Clays were collecting every page they could.
And with that, Robert knew where he needed to go next. More importantly, he now knew the person who was going to be murdered next and who was killing them all.
Inspector Drebin barged in to the room. Breathing heavily – no – gagging, his face was pale and he held on to the left side of his neck. As soon as the stubby man dropped on the floor, Robert pocketed the Aldus key and the evidence bag and made a beeline for the door.
He had not even had a full step outside when he felt his right thigh explode in pain. He let out a loud cry. As he fell back he felt another searing pain, this time from his left clavicle. Sprawled down on the floor, Robert felt he was about to go unconscious.
And with all the things that had just happened, one thing remained in his thoughts. It was the Inspector’s words, If those dead people were actually Nazi fucks, well they got exactly what they deserved!
Robert thought – with what he now knew, he could save the men he believed to be in danger… but being fully aware of what they were and what they had done – should he?
He tried to get up but couldn’t. The pain was unbearable. A few meters from where he lay, he saw a figure raise an arm. The face was blurry but he thought he saw the barrel of a gun. And before he lapsed into unconsciousness, Robert heard two shots fired.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The principal character alluded to first appeared in 2000 in a NY Times #1 Bestselling book.
The story you have just read, entitled “Chapter 52, page 624”, is intended to appear as a promotional preview excerpt of the (non-existent) book called “Buch der Arische Weisheit” referring to a fabled (fictional) Nazi book within the story itself. (I know this really won’t be a good title for a book, but whatever… I’m stumped, and I guess I’ll just replace it with a better one when “it” comes to me). No other chapter prior or thereafter comes.
A couple of names were nods to an unrelated film franchise (can you guess which ones? and from where?) but any resemblance to actual events, places and persons, living or dead, portrayed above, is pure coincidence as these are mere plot devices prevalent in pop culture and conspiracy theories I have stitched together.
This fanfic was written (or was just an outline) a few of years ago and have been gathering digital dust in draft limbo both in my hard drive and wordpress. It slowly got revised, reworked, rewritten, edited and re-edited up until yesterday, I swear.
Thanks to my sister, Anne, for lending a fresh pair of eyes.
The sketches for the ambigrams were created almost simultaneous with the story, and vectorized with CorelDraw then manipulated with Photoshop for the final presentation.
A “final” version was submitted to the Villains Ambigram Challenge over at ambigramsrevealed.com in late 2013 with the ambigrams laid over this very nice image I downloaded from iStockphoto (The last image above). The resulting image is supposed to convey the fall of the Nazis after the war, when all their propaganda posters were one by one being torn down.
While trying out ways to present the ambigram, I was fortunate enough to have stumbled upon this amazing website called psdcovers.com. It’s basically a website that allows you to download Photoshop Action Scripts for use as mock-ups or comps. And while I could have gone and set up my own way of “shopping” the cover artwork on to a photograph of a book for the mock poster, I felt I needed to try it out. And it was a very nice learning experience since I am not really an action script guy.
That’s all I have for this month, hope you all can drop by again when the next post comes up.
On the previous post I brushed up a bit on the topic of using an existing font in ambigram creation. Well, now I used an existing font again this time as inspiration for this ambigram. I also reused a letter I have previously created for another ambigram, see.
This week’s feature is OUIJA. I don’t recall how or why exactly I did this ambigram. It’s not like I’m into this superstitious stuff. I, however, am interested in the art that comes/goes with magic and the occult. Especially if it has that steampunkish feel.
Now, I understand, Ouija is a trademark of a Hasbro boardgame. A game! As to how it became an instrument of the occult, I can only guess.
Here in the Philippines, we don’t actually use a board and/or a “planchette”. I remember when I was young, a bond paper with the alphabet scribbled on it and a drinking glass were used for this spine-tingling “game” aptly called “Spirit of the Glass”. Same principles apply, participants ask the “spirit(s)” to enter the glass and once it’s there, you may now ask it questions. I have only done this once (I believe I was in grade school, then) and while we were at it, I realized we were just a handful of stupid kids trying to convince ourselves that a lonely spirit inside the glass was indeed moving it from letter to letter. I couldn’t even make sense of the words that were spelled out! I will admit, though, that I had goose bumps before we had the paper and the glass laid out. The anticipation was a killer, the actual channeling though was anticlimactic.
So now we’ll move on to the ambigram itself.
These were the initial takes on the word. The first set was based on the font Morpheus. And as you can see by looking at the font, the “A/U” correlation of the word will be easy enough by just replacing the “A” crossbar with a dot or in this case: a star. Other versions of the glyphs were tried out but I went with a combo that jives more with the theme I had pictured on my mind.
Then came the linking of the chain. While working out the letter correlation prior to the vector work, I marveled at how easily the glyphs fell in to place. It was so easy that the challenge was more like: how long it took me to recognize the “ambigrammability” of the word.
After linking the ambigram, I began designing the board. I had decided that the alphabet and the numbers will be laid out around the ambigram, set to the font Morpheus. Initially I thought doing a vector art would be good enough but this design had been collecting digital dust (for roughly over a month) on my hard drive that I decided I might as well work on a bitmap version. Took me a couple of hours to get to where I was satisfied with the look of the design on top. But knowing me, I might just do some exploratory rework on it, someday.
That’s it for this post, hope you like the design and do check back in next week for a new ambigram design! (or an anaglyph series… we’ll see :-))