The King Of Limbs Symbol


The following was written and sent to me by Lúcio T:

As The King Of Limbs artwork, promo and advertising shows, the King Of Limbs symbol can be seen as a modified Chaos Symbol (click here to see the original symbol), or/and a modified Compass Rose symbol (click here for original)

Starting with Chaos:

Chaos (Greek χάος khaos) refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial “gap” created by the original separation of heaven and earth.

In Greek mythology and cosmology referred to a gap or abyss at the beginning of the world, or more generally the initial, formless state of the universe (the antithetical, or possibly complementary, concept was cosmos).

The word is used in classical studies with the original meaning; in mathematics and science to refer to a very specific kind of unpredictability; and informally to mean a state of confusion. In philosophy, and in popular culture, the word can occur with all three meanings.

Greek χάος (Chaos) means “gap, gaping void, chasm, abyss“, from the verb χαίνω, “gape, be wide open, etc.”, from PIE *ghen-, cognate to Old English geanian, “to gape”, whence English yawn.

and http://en.wikipedia….%28cosmogony%29

What I think is very interesting about this mentioning of Yawn in the Chaos etymology is very clear in its description:


yawn 1. To open the mouth widely and take a long, rather deep breath, often because one is tired and sometimes accompanied by pandiculation.

Remarkably, this is the first line from the record, from Bloom: “Open your mouth wide
This meaning of Chaos, of separation, of the void, can be seen in other songs as well, like on Lotus Flower: “I dance around the pit, the darkness is beneath”
and the song title Separator seems to point to this direction as well. 

What we should focus on as well is the fact that in this modified Chaos Star, its limbs are not arrows, but hands. You can also notice that some hands have five fingers, while others have four, with no apparent pattern. I still don’t know what to make of it. Maybe this “Star” is The King Of Limbs itself, with its limbs spreading in all directions, or represents it, with the added symbology and meaning of Chaos in all its forms (together with all the other meanings we had before, like the King Of Limbs 1000 years old tree reference).

Another thing that I thought about Bloom’s Yawn, is that this indicates a beginning, like waking up. The “The Universe will sight” image makes me think that the universe is awakening, as this would be an analogy with ourselves as representations of the universe, the Kings of Our Own Limbs. Separator mentions dreams and sleep, as the process would start over again, finishing with the line “Wake me up“.

This could also be a reference to Michael Moorcock’s work, as he created of the Chaos Star Symbol for his “Eternal Champion” stories, but the star today is the widespread symbol of Chaos, not limited to his books.

The “Eternal Champion” is engaged in a constant struggle with not only conventional notions of good and evil, but also in the struggle for balance between Law and Chaos. In a sense this reflects the idea of the “golden mean” as the ideal condition of being (Marcus Aurelius, etc.). Many of Moorcock’s most successful books follow this theme of promoting a dynamic stability which frees humanity (or thinking beings) from the burdens of superstition, hate and fear.

The Multiverse, which consists of several universes, many layered dimensions, spheres, and alternative worlds, is the place where the eternal struggle between Law and Chaos, the two main forces of Moorcock’s worlds, takes place. In all these dimensions and worlds, these forces constantly war for supremacy. Since the victory of Law or Chaos would cause the Multiverse either to become permanently static or totally formless, the Cosmic Balance enforces certain limits which the powers of Law and Chaos violate at their peril. Law, Chaos, and the Balance are active, but seemingly non-sentient, forces which empower various champions and representatives.

from http://en.wikipedia….ichael_Moorcock
and http://en.wikipedia….ternal_Champion

Now as for the Compass Rose reference:
The compass rose is an element of a map used to show direction, showing cardinal directions and frequently intermediate direction.
Naming all 32 points on the rose is called boxing the compass.
The “rose” term arises from the fairly ornate figures used with early compasses. A fleur-de-lis figure, evolved from the initial T in the north wind’s name Tramontane, is sometimes used to indicate the north direction. Similarly, on old maps the east was marked with an L for Levante, or with a Christian cross indicating the direction of Jerusalem from the point of view of circa mediterreaneas countries. 

A compass rose, sometimes called a windrose, is a figure on a map, a nautical chart or a paving (as built in Dougga, Tunis, during Roman times)[1] used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions, — north, south, east, and west. It is also the term for the graduated markings found on the traditional magnetic compass. Today, the idea of a compass rose is found on, or featured in, almost all navigation systems, including nautical charts, non-directional beacons (NDB), VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) systems, global-positioning systems (GPS), and similar equipment and devices. Early forms of the compass rose were known as wind roses, since no differentiation was made between a cardinal direction and the wind which emanated from that direction

from http://en.wikipedia….ki/Compass_rose

The “Rose” reference is also very significant as the first song in the album is called “Bloom” and there’s reference to the “Lotus Flower” as well.

The Cardinal Rose reference can also be seen as a link with the maps from Hail To The Thief and the cosmos images in In Rainbows, as the maps made a direct connection between the songs and the world around us, or at least to that particular world Radiohead wanted to show us. This time the Cardinal Rose could make us imagine the various possibilities and directions we could take, and their consequences, and the hands on the tips of the Rose would illustrate that even more, showing that every path leads to even more choices and ramifications, but that we must try and take hold of it.

As for the different colors in the Star (the promo version is plain, but the vinyl and ad version are divided into two and four respectively), maybe this could be a reference to the four seasons (maybe the regular vinyl version shows only two colors because it has two sides, making up four colors in total. if this is correct, the newspaper version vinyl symbols would have one color each as there will be two vinyls = 4 sides). This is one more indication that could lead us to see the album as a progression of changes, like the development of a tree or the phases of someone’s life, not only in long term but also in short term: a year cycle compared to a life cycle. Each season has its symbolic significance, so this would add even more meaning to the songs as well. As there are 8 songs in the record and the star has 8 hands, this could also reference each individual song.

Of course these are just some references and loose interpretations. I’d love to hear more thoughts and references about this subject, more connections to the album as a whole, to its concept and the individual songs. Cheers!