Eduard's Dragons
A Short Essay
Between Here and There

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What is a Dragon

The word "Dragon" conjures up many different images and feelings in different people... some good, some bad. Interestingly, just about every country in the world has stories of large/small, smooth/hairy/scaly, hot/cold, beautiful/ugly dragon-like creatures. Don't all these stories and descriptions conflict with each other? How can there be a living creature, or even a species, that has such varied characteristics? Maybe... maybe not. I feel strongly that each person is entitled to his/her own view on dragons, therefore what you read here are my own beliefs on what a dragon is. You are free to enjoy my views, or disagree. Just be aware that they are deeply rooted in my psyche and cannot be changed. They are inextricably woven into my understanding of the way the universe works. Also note that this web site is not an encyclopedic listing of all dragons, their eating habits, and physical characteristics... that kind of "information" you can find elsewhere. Instead, this page intends to take you on a higher-level journey of thought-provoking connections... Dragons with an Eduardian twist, if you will.


Weyr do They Live?

For the pun-initiated, by the way, a "weyr" is a common name for a dragon's cave or lair. As mentioned above, dragons have been sighted and written about for thousands of years, just about everywhere in the world. They seem to enjoy remote areas just out of range of people, keeping a politely safe distance, but always around. There are mentions of water dragons, land dragons, and dragons that seem to appear and vanish in the skies. There is even a constellation of stars in outer space that carries the ancient name "Drako". It seems that they must live in some place between reality and fantasy, popping into our lives to stir things up, and then dissolving into some unknown "wyrmhole", to return to their own world or dimension until they are called on again, or until they are just bored and need a good smirk.


What do They Do?

Dragons are often connected, at least in Western Culture, with fighting, chaos, destruction, lust, greed... all things that people secretly enjoy but will not admit to. This probably accounts for the seemingly mutually exclusive feelings of abhorrence, terror, and disrespect, along with fascination, adoration, and reverence that people have for these creatures. They are very good at protecting valuable things (people and treasure), and just as good at destroying things. People see no logic behind when dragons protect and when they destroy. It often seems completely random. However, I must point out that there would seem to be just as little logic behind why the life of a sweet intelligent caring young boy or girl is destroyed by a drunk driver. Our lives are filled with incredibly unbelievably lucky coincidences, and just as many shocking devastations. C'est la vie.


What do They Look Like?

That's a silly question, much like asking what God looks like. However, people will do their best to depict what dragons might look like when these creatures poke themselves into our universe for a visit. I too have enjoyed sketching what I envision various dragons might look like, and there are a few of these sketches below. Remember, this is a peek into my mind. Your imagination may vary.

An early surreal sea dragon pencil drawing, sketched when I was 17.

DrakCircle - A recent logo I designed and later sold to Dragon's Lair Coffee Farm in Kona, Hawai'i.

"There really is life before that first morning cup of coffee, but I don't think you want to see it!" -- (Humorous smirky self portrait)

Glowing candles are made in their likeness...

Beany Babies

Yes, there are even Beanie Baby(tm) Dragons...

Ryuu Typeset

Ryuu caligraphy

The Japanese and Chinese use the same character/symbol for Dragon, shown above in handwritten and typeset style. The pronunciation differs, however and is difficult for Westerners to say properly. In Japanese it is pronounced "Ryuu" (R and Y squished together and a long U sound), and in Chinese, "Lung" (halfway between the English words "Long" and "Lung".) Many thanks to Mihchyn Kong for the above.


The Chaos/Fractal Connection

And now for something completely different, until you start thinking about it sideways, and begin to see between the lines.

Below is a graph of a mathematical equation called a Julia Fractal, which uses complex numbers. The paradoxical beauty of fractal mathematics is that such a tersely simple equation can create such a complex pattern. Please feel free to stop a moment, and bask in the ironic coincidence that a complex number is part real, part imaginary.

As we zoom in closer and closer toward the sea dragons in the middle of this image, we will discover something very interesting about the construction of this strange mathematical curve...

Out at this low magnification, we can see the whole curve. It seems quite ornate and complicated. If you study it long enough, its overall shape may begin to remind you of ocean waves, trees, or broccoli.

Now, if we zoom in on one of the sea dragons in the middle of this image...

we notice...

...that even though we have zoomed in much closer, there still seems to be a lot of detail in the curves. This sure looks like a sea horse. But it is certainly just coincidence, right? There is probably no relationship between fractal mathematics and nature.. Hmm... It is rather pretty though. What do you think, is this math or art? Or is it starting to become difficult to tell the difference?

What if we get really close, and look at the "hair" on the head of the sea dragon? Surely if we get this close, it will be made of little simple squares or lines...

...or maybe... is made up of similar replicas of itself, each little sea dragon "building block" just as complex as its enclosing parent. Now this is an intriguing mathematical construct. However, it becomes even more startling when we discover that there really are certain formulas like this that create natural shapes identical to growing plants, or air vortexes over an airplane wing.

Now, if you wish to stretch your mind for a moment with me into science fiction or spirituality, imagine this self-similarity at any scale as a description of our universe. Imagine yourself as one of these magnified sea dragon specks. If we zoom way out, does that mean that in a sense, our galaxy is itself a kind of "living organism", swimming along with its neighbors, just as we are, at a smaller scale? And what amazing worlds might then exist at the atomic level? (At this point I can't help but smirk and remind the reader of the paraphrase "God made man in His own image.") And if this is the case, and there is a single relationship or "equation" that describes and connects everything from the subatomic up through the galactic, it would help put into perspective a lot of the seemingly silly and disparate mystical religions that try to describe how man and nature and the universe are all somehow related, and how there are inexplicably coincidental connections between our actions and thoughts, and those of others around us.


And one final thought: we humans can only perceive 3 visual dimensions at a time, but have devised mathematical tools to theorize many more than 3 dimensions "out there." For example, this 4-dimensional Julia fractal shape poking through our universe is cut into a 3-D slice so that we can see it roll by. What other things out there might sometimes brush through our 3-D world during their travels? Would they seem to shape-shift, float in the air, move incredibly fast for their size? Appear and disappear at will? Gee, these sound like accounts of dragons to me. In fact, I could swear I see a dragon shape flash by in this fractal. This is intended merely to be delicious food for thought, nothing more.
This shape was rendered with the free POV-Ray ray tracer.


Dragon Seeds - a Writing Collaboration Project

Dragon Separator

"DragonSeeds" Project Started January 21, 1999, completed May, 1999

In December 1998, I suddenly had the beginning of a story idea pop into my head, which I jotted down as a paragraph. I e-mailed it to another dragon-loving friend of mine. She loved it and suggested that we should somehow collaborate on this story together. After mulling this over, I had a bigger idea. What if I gave each of a small group of friends this same seed paragraph, and asked them to wrap their own stories around it, letting them each develop it their own way, with a few simple rules imposed: the stories would need to contain the seed paragraph somewhere in them intact, stay G-rated, and be between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Because each unique story would grow from a common paragraph, the title of this collection of stories became known as "Dragon Seeds".

That deadline is long past and the stories are now printed in a little book I sent to my friends as a thank you gift.

Below is the book cover, the original seed paragraph, my artistic (ray-traced) rendition of that paragraph, and a link to my version of the story. I hope you enjoy it! I am quite happy to know such imaginative and diverse friends.

The Book Cover

The Original Seed Paragraph

Here is the paragraph I sent to everyone, asking them to wrap their story around this and include it as-is somewhere in their story:

I awoke slowly, and rubbed the dark haze from my eyes. The desert air was cold today. It should have been daylight, but instead a black shadow hung in the air. Looking up, I saw that the sky was almost completely blacked out, crawling with thousands of swirling shapes. As I focused and my vision cleared, I could make out the unmistakable silhouettes, and my heart stopped... Dragons! In all my life I had seen only one, and that was a quick glimpse while exploring the cliffs as a child. I also remembered old legends and descriptions of the dragon, a fierce powerful creature who could appear suddenly in our reality, and with a single thought, bring death, life, order, or chaos. Dragons were rarely seen by people unless one of these events was about to take place. As I thought about this phenomenon, and now multiplied it by thousands, a hideously helpless feeling began to come over me. The dragons had now aligned, and were gliding together in a large circle overhead. Half in fear and half in awe I watched, as inside the circle, a huge dark rip began to open in the middle of the sky.

The Original Seed Illustration

The great rip in the sky

My ray-traced rendition of the seed paragraph, "The Great Rip in the Sky" (yes, a subtle wordplay reference to Pink Floyd)

Link to my story from the project

"Dragon Scales" by Eduard Schwan (Other stories are not listed on-line, as they are owned by the respective writers) DragonLine Separator

The Sky is the Limit

Finally, I'll leave you with a poem I wrote long ago, related to all of this in yet another tangential way.

The sky is the limit
For those who must believe in the sky
But the innocent children
Untouched by analytical
Rule or reason
For them
Freedom of thought
Imagination is the limit.

Written January 1980
Copyright 1980, Eduard Schwan
Inspired partly by seeing Star Trek - The Movie


Final Thoughts

More information may be drifting in here soon, tying together elements of scale in the universe. Wait... universe, scale, dragon... I love the English language :-)


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