Friday, 13 May 2011

Art and 40k, the musings of a tired mind!

Being something of an insomniac I am given to surfing the internet until silly hours of the morning (even on a week night!) and then mulling over a seemingly endless list of things that seem to pop into my head for no apparent rhyme or reason.

On one such late-night internet trawling session I managed to end up watching the music video to a song by Deftones called “Bored”. This is one of the pivotal (to me anyway) songs of my late teen years and listening to it again brought back all the feelings I loved about listening to metal when I was a bit younger J. I’d always wondered what Chino was singing about so I googled the lyrics and up they came. More interestingly though, on the site I’d clicked through to there was a discussion thread talking about what the song was about. One guy in particular had gone into great detail about how the song was conveying the day-to-day frustration of being an infant and unable to communicate. In fact he had gone as far as to break the song down, line-by-line, to explain why he thought this. Of course this elicited the usual net-rage, in this case about how Chino wouldn’t write songs about being a baby and that it was obviously all about coming off drugs. To me it was just about the frustration of being a hormonal teenager, not being a great thinker I’d just seized on the chorus and run with it!

This guy and his deconstruction of the song lyrics got me thinking about art and how different people get wildly different things out of it. Who knows what Chino was trying to convey (at a deeper level other than simply being bored) when he wrote the song, that’s personal to him and I’ve never seen him talk about it anywhere. Clearly the guy with the “baby theory” had some well reasoned arguments to support his theory taken from the full lyrics of the song, but if you know the song it’s far from conclusive. So all we can say about that is that his interpretation is what he got out of the song and that meaning that he had derived probably says as much about him as it does the composer, likewise the guy who related it to coming off drugs, or me who was a frustrated teenager at the time I heard it so it’s not hard to make the connection there.

So what’s all this got to do with 40k? Well, after I went to bed I continued to ponder the nature of art, how it is presented by artists and how we interpret and appreciate it, when the sort of tangential leap that can only come to a person who is truly tired and not working on all his cylinders, and I began to think about how Army Lists could be seen as a form of art. People post them on the internet and people criticise them. The writer of the list may or may not be forthcoming in thinking behind their construction of the list, their motivation. If he is not then we are left to draw our own conclusions on how the list is designed to work, if at all!

With lists that fit certain “cookie-cutter” types it’s easier to see the tactics required to make the list work, for example MSU or Horde, in the same way that everyone can appreciate a picture of a nice sunset or a beautiful model. But it is all too easy to dismiss a list that does not fit an accepted stereotype as being ill-conceived, particularly when you do not understand the thinking behind it. Perhaps the writer is a hack, or just doesn’t optimise his lists for competitive play, but just maybe, you have not properly understood the master-stroke of tactical genius locked within the list and, like Van-Gough’s art, the genius of it will only be truly appreciated long after it was created, if at all!


  1. I have to agree. There's the accepted norm when it comes to lists and anything outside that box that doesn't include a novel long explanation is seen as crap. I'm not saying the list writer shouldn't include some explanation but at the same time so many people are quick to judge.

  2. I have always seen it as the player makes the list, not the list makes the player.

    Having a good list is in part of being a good player, but how many net lists do you see in mid or bottom table obscurity in tournaments?

    You make the list for yourself, like how artists paint for themselves.


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