While I am waiting for the game to come back up in two and a half hours to keep a play date with someone I like there, I decided to look up and read, for the first time, about the funeral massacre and offer some thoughts about it all.

I believe that it is a good example of the affect of symbolism on the human psyche.  Nowadays, we would call the seriousness with which earlier cultures regarded symbolic value of objects as superstition.  The 70s British Folk Group, Pentangle, sang a song called Sovay.  That is where my daughter got her name.

The lyrics of the old traditional ballad can be found online at several places, but I’ll give you the gist of it.

A female highwayman has given her lover a ring as a symbol of their love.  Then to test him, she disguises herself as a man (her  usual MO) and holds him up at a crossroads at gun point (Flintlock pistol judging from the era of the ballad) and demands everything he has.  The lover gives her everything, but balks at the ring, tells her why and then dares her to shoot him.

She lets him live and goes home to wait for him.  When he gets there he finds that the clothes the bandit wore and all of his  stolen things are sitting in plain sight in the garden where Sovay is waiting for him.  She then informs him, as she returns his things, that had he given her the ring she would have shot him.

The ring, like that funeral and the characters in the game, have a symbolic relationship to reality in the human psyche.  What I see here is the inherent war between the older and the newer human relationship with unconscious symbolism and the use of symbol.

Like with animism, the symbol becomes one with the thing that it represents.  It is perceived as the thing itself in terms of value.  Take the symbolism of the Catholic Church, for instance.  In the changing of the wafer and the wine into the body and blood of Christ in the ritual, you are seeing symbols representing (in the psyche of the members) the actual objects.

In the case of Sovay’s lover in the song, giving up the ring would mean giving up his love.  Over the centuries, many men have died for symbols.  Flags are symbols.  In wartimes, men have died to protect their battle standards.

Those people holding the funeral on WoW were participating in a symbolic act and as with people who beleive deeply in symbolism, they took it very seriously.  For the attacking side, the entire idea of symbolism probably never occured to them.  However, they do demonstrate the modern denial of the effects and seriousness of symbolism to both the conscious and unconscious mind.

Both mindsets exist in the modern world.  The symbolic mindset is less in evidence (if you discount patriotism and flag symbolism) in the Western World than the anti-symbolism (rational) mindset in which everything is material.

I found that the comments by the attackers who kept repeating that it was just a game and that it happens in the real world all the time, missed a certain point.  To the former point, I would say that it was, at the very least, bad manners.  However, to the second one, I would have to remark that they have failed to understand symbolism.

Attacking people in real life at funerals and weddings is not just a crime of opportunity (you see it a lot in the middle east and other third world countries), it is an exercise in symbolism.  The symbolic value of attacking when people are participating in an act of grief or joy is a demonstration of the victims helplessness and of the attackers power.  Symbolic events.  Symbolic crimes.