Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Endless (diminutive edition!)


The Endless (from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series) are entities that are neither mortals nor gods. They are the anthropomorphic personifications of abstract concepts and are older than the rest of the universe: Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium.

Jill Thompson illustrated the said entities in a cute style inspired by DC Comics characters Sugar and Spike. All seven siblings appeared in her The Little Endless Storybook, produced in the wake of the positive reader reaction when they saw little Dream and little Death in the Sandman's fortieth issue, The Parliament of Rooks.

The adorableness of each Endless is just killing me, and I can't help but give them a little space here in my blog. :p So here they are, with some info:

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1. DESTINY

Destiny is the oldest among the Endless. To mortal eyes, he is the tallest in his family; he casts no shadow nor does he leave any footprints. He is depicted as a man cloaked and hooded in grey/purple/brown robes, and is chained to a thick book called the Cosmic Log, where everyone's/everything's stories are written. He is said to smell of dusts and old libraries.

He is cold, somber, and very dedicated to his work. "There are some who believe him to be blind; whilst others, perhaps with more reason, claimed that he has traveled far beyond blindness, that indeed, he can do nothing but see [everything]."
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2. DEATH


While everyone's stereotype of the concept of demise is a scary skeleton wielding a scythe, Death of the Endless is actually the opposite--instead of some creature inspiring terror, she is a down-to-earth friend. Unlike Destiny, she is warm and caring. She is depicted as a pale Goth girl wearing a silver ankh (ironically the Egyptian symbol for "life") and an eye-of-Horus tattoo around one eye. She is known to have a sense of humor, gentle wisdom, a quirky upbeat personality...a floppy hat collection and two goldfish (I'm serious).

"One day in every century, Death takes on mortal flesh, to better comprehend what the lives she takes must feel like, to taste the bitter tang of mortality: this is the price she must pay for being the divider of the living from all that has gone before and all that must come after."
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3. DREAM

Dream is--as stated in Season of Mists--a conundrum. To human eyes he's tall and "rake-thin, with skin the color of falling snow" (think of The Cure's lead singer Robert Smith, only a tad skinnier). His appearance actually varies depending on who's looking at him: a Martian sees him as a disembodied energy being, a cat sees him as a cat, humans see him as human and so on.

He is sometimes slow when dealing with humor, occasionally insensitive, often self-obsessed, and is very slow to forgive or forget a slight (also, he has a very bad list of love lives). If he is close to anyone, it is to his older sister Death.
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4. DESTRUCTION
Destruction is the fourth oldest Endless, portrayed as a big man with red hair and beard. He is Dream’s immediately younger sibling but in many ways wiser and more aware of the Endless' place in the universe. He is warm, affectionate, and the best humored; aside from Death, he projects as a character that is opposite of the concept he portrays.
He "resigns" and abandons his realm when he foresaw that mankind will eventually use science as a tool of mass destruction (i.e. the atomic bombs). He refuses to be responsible for this, and lets humans be the cause of their own destruction. He leaves and is referred to as "The Prodigal"; instead of destroying, he goes on and creates things. He paints, helps in construction work, cooks, etc.
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5. DESPAIR

Despair is Desire's twin sister, and is depicted as a squat, flabby, ugly naked woman. Her skin is said to be cold and clammy, and her eyes has "the colour of sky, on the grey, wet days that leach the world of colour and meaning". She has no odor, but her shadow smells musky and pungent. She wears a ring with a hook on her left hand, with which she occasionally carves her skin.

"It is said that scattered through Despair's domain are a multitude of tiny windows, hanging in the void. Each window looks out on a different scene, being, in our world, a mirror. Sometimes you will look into a mirror and feel the eyes of Despair upon you, feel her hook catch and snag upon your heart."
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6. DESIRE

Despair's twin, Desire is usually portrayed as an androgynous being; he/she/it is both and at the same time neither male nor female. He/she/it is of medium height, has pale skin and yellow eyes, smells faintly of summer peaches and casts two shadows: one black and sharp-edged, the other translucent and wavering. He/she/it is very malicious, engaging in games that interferes with the other Endless' affairs (particularly Dream's).

"It is unlikely that any portrait will ever do Desire any justice, since to see her (or him) is to love him (or her)--passionately, painfully, to the exclusion of all else....Desire is everything you have ever wanted, whoever you are, whatever you are. Everything."
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7. DELIRIUM
 

Delirium is the youngest of the Endless yet still older than the rest of existence. Her appearance is more variable compared to that of her other siblings, but she's usually portrayed as a young girl with wild, vibrantly colored hair and heterochromia: one eye is blue and the other one is green. Some people say that her mismatched eyes are a reminder that Delirium had a tragedy once, for before she was called Delight. Nobody knows the real reason behind her transformation.

She is said to smell of "sweat, sour wines, late nights, and old leather". Her shadow never matches the shape of her body, and it is tangible like velvet.
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Images (save the first one) came from The Little Endless Storybook by Jill Thompson. All characters by Neil Gaiman.

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