Spirits as Dual Beings II


In my Ico analysis I discussed the idea that the Spirits that we see are actually only half of a greater being - half living, half Spirit, though in reality the Spirit aspect was just the manifestation of Dark Magic the living person carried. Both person and Spirit are marked by the presence of the other, one with horns, the other with Light Magic eyes. Death is what allows the release and manifestation of the Dark Magic within, and the destruction of the Spirit is what allows the final end to the overall being. This theory was originally inspired by SotC, and having applied the idea to Ico, which gives much more information about the Spirits, I now intend to bring it back to SotC, to see what gaps it can fill in, and what it can tell us about Dormin.

In SotC we only have a single example of one of these 'dual beings', but it is an impressive and detailed example: Wander and Dormin. Dormin's physical form starts off as separate segments of Dark Magic sealed within the Colossi, which are released during the course of the story and find a new home within Wander. When all sixteen segments have gathered within Wander he undergoes some physical changes, the relevant one being the appearance of two small horns on his head, which according to the first of these documents is the mark of Dark Magic. When he is killed Dormin appears, similar to how the segments appeared when the Colossi were defeated, and in accordance with the idea that it is the death of the living host which allows the Dark Magic to manifest. The one part of Dormin which is not pure darkness are the eyes, which appear quite similar to Light Magic, suggesting according to the theory thus far that Wander is still in there somewhere in some way - and it is revealed that he is. Not only does Dormin say that it is only 'borrowing' Wander's body, but we later see, when Dormin is being sealed again, that Wander's physical form reappears briefly, showing that some part of him remains.
The Colossi can be loosely connected to this idea as well. They too are beings which are intrinsically linked with Light Magic, but carrying Dark Magic within them. In their case the Dark Magic is also released upon their death, but rather than manifesting it is simply transferred to Wander. Whether this is because they cannot manifest independently and thus need Wander, or simply because it is more convenient this way, is unknown. The Colossi leave behind Light Magic when they die just as the horned people appear to, but rather than ending up trapped in a Spirit, it is simply released into the world.

Going back to Dormin/Wander, there are differences between them and the Spirits in Ico, but these can be explained due to the fact that Dormin took Wander as a host rather than being something Wander inherited, and that Dormin is obviously incomparably more powerful than the other Spirits. Wander's appearance changes over time as more and more Dark Magic gathers inside him, this is obviously due to the way Dormin is building up to using him as a host, and supports the idea that Dark Magic alters the physical form. While the horns are the sole mark left on those who inherit Dark Magic, when Wander is carrying Dormin in its entirety, the horns actually blend in quite well with the extreme change he goes through. Wander's horns are smaller that those on Ico and the others who inherited the trait, however the fact that similar horns to Wander's are on the infant at the end suggests that those small horns will grow to match Ico's, alleviating this minor inconsistency. Thus these horns do indeed seem to mark the presence of Dark Magic.


Dual Being

I have already gone over Wander/Dormin in brief above to tie them to the Spirits seen in Ico; I will now go into more detail on what is seen in SotC. I will start at the point where Wander has defeated the last Colossus and Dormin is complete again within him. While Wander is still alive he seems to remain himself, Dormin does not seem to have any influence, and only makes an appearance when Wander is killed. I speculated in the original document that the Dark Magic inherited by the people with horns could have no effect on them while they were alive, and this seems to hold true for Dormin as well. It seems unlikely that Dormin simply chose that moment to manifest, and just happened to manifest so similarly to how the segments did when they emerged from the Colossi.
In fact, the way Dormin is sealed within the Colossi may be related to this. Putting the abstract aspect of the Seal aside, the Light Magic in the Colossi appears to have physically sealed the Dark Magic within them, forcing it to leave the defeated Colossus' bodies through the points where Wander damaged them. Exactly the same thing happens where Wander is killed, the Dark Magic covers his entire body, starting at the point where he was stabbed with the sword. Since this theory suggests that people have an aspect of Light Magic about them, it may affect the Dark Magic within the same way the Light Magic in the Colossi did; it seals it. Only when the Wander dies, the Light aspect weakened, can the Dark Magic emerge. Of course, the Light Magic does not fade completely; some of it at least appears to be used by Dormin.

As I stated before, when Dormin takes over Wander's body he says that he is only 'borrowing' it. What exactly this means is unclear, but it implies that Wander isn't simply gone, which is supported by the apparent presence of Light Magic in Dormin, and in turn supports the idea that Dormin is using Wander in order to manifest in this form. The fact that he used Wander as a vessel and then used him to manifest suggests that he needed such a vessel, for now at least. It would make no sense for Dormin to tie himself to a physical form, and apparently have to wait for that form to die in order to appear itself, if it didn't need to. This matches my idea about the Spirits in Ico - the Dark Magic needs some aspect of the host which has died in order to manifest, it cannot manifest alone, and thus the 'mark' of Light Magic. When the Spirits in Ico are killed, the Light Magic immediately disappears, the Dark Magic body disappearing shortly afterward - it is the loss of the Light Magic which marks their death, even if the body remains for a time afterwards, as they need it in order to 'survive'. Of course, unlike the Spirits in Ico, Dormin is a separate intelligent entity, but this makes sense as those Spirits were merely Dark Magic inherited by people, whereas we know for certain that there is more than this to Dormin, because it manifests also as humanoid form pure darkness.

There are two types of Spirits in Ico, the ones marked with Light Magic, and the more powerful kind, the Queen and Yorda. This idea suggests that the difference between them is that the 'lesser' Spirits are merely the manifestation of Dark Magic in a physical form, not really intelligent beings, while the 'greater' ones are people who happen to inhabit Dark Magic bodies. There is a similar distinction in appearance in SotC: Dormin in its single form looks like the 'lesser' Spirits, however it also manifests as humanoid Spirits which are pure darkness, like the 'greater' Spirits.
The metaphysical aspect of Dormin is not completely tied to the Dark Magic which possess Wander, as I have mentioned in the sections 'Dormin' and 'The Seal', there is more to Dormin than this one physical aspect; both because of the humanoid manifestations, and because it can speak freely even when completely sealed. Furthermore, the Dark Magic that possesses Wander seems to be power which is transferred to him rather than Dormin's sole physical form, again as evidenced by its manifestation of the humanoid forms. It is possible therefore that this similar distinction in appearance is also a similar distinction in role. The individual humanoid manifestations of Dormin may be the 'greater' part, the intelligent part, the actual being Wander speaks to. The part within Wander, on the other hand, may merely be Dark Magic power which Dormin controls, just like the Dark Magic inherited by the people with horns, though far greater in magnitude. Thus in order to manifest, it needs a host, just as the Spirits in Ico do. However, it acts as an intelligent being because part of Dormin is the 'greater' Spirits, which can manifest separately as pure darkness, but do not have such substantial power alone. Dormin is undoubtedly a single overall being, all of the manifestations are integral parts of it, but they are different parts, and behave differently.

When the second Seal is activated, Dormin seems to be destroyed. Just before he is sucked completely into the pool of light, Wander's physical form returns, even though it seemed to have disappeared. Given that he looks the same, he may even still be himself at this point. I stated above that Dormin's release required his death, and I maintain this; at this point Wander is partially a Spirit of some kind, still part of Dormin, and as long as something of Dormin remains Wander is able to reappear as himself, maintained presumably by Dormin using him as a host. When Dormin is completely removed, Wander as we knew him disappears too. In the document on the Seal I mentioned that the second Seal may have been avoided due to it only destroying the physical form, but leaving the metaphysical unaffected. This theory casts a new light on this view of the Seal; that the seal destroys the 'lesser' aspect of Dormin, the Dark Magic power that makes it such a threat, but does not affect the 'greater' part, the part which actually controls that power. The distinction between that which was and was not affected by the second Seal was originally somewhat vague, implied only by the fact that Dormin had physical and metaphysical aspects. Applying the distinction between the two variants of Spirits derived from Ico provides a more concrete view of what the Seal did and did not affect.



With Dormin, or at least the part of it within Wander, gone we would expect Wander to be gone too. However, something of him is left behind; an infant. The light pool destroyed the Dark Magic, but of course would have no effect on the small trace of Light Magic within Dormin, that being whatever was left of Wander. As I suggested in the original document, the Light Magic within the Spirit is only a fragment, enough to allow the Spirit to manifest, but not the entirety of the original person. So, with Dormin removed, rather than getting Wander back, we get this infant, the small part of Wander that was left.
What this infant offers is a possible answer to the question of what exactly the Light Magic within the 'lesser' Spirits really is, how it relates to the original person. The physical form is irrelevant, since it has already been Light Magic within a Spirit, the physical form is merely a vessel at this point, what matters is what is within that vessel. It cannot be the person that was originally alive, an infant like this cannot have a life's memories, cannot house the personality or mind of an adult. These are critical parts of what makes a person themselves, without these, this infant cannot really be the Wander we knew. However, this Light Magic came from Wander, it is a part of him, and so this infant is some part of him as well.
Light Magic is associated with the living. Perhaps this is merely that Light Magic returning to a physical form, but a smaller form, due to Dormin only keeping a fragment of Wander intact. Or perhaps something more fundamental remains within the infant, some part of Wander which made him him, perhaps rather than this being a completely new life, it is this fundamental part of Wander merely inhabiting a new vessel. Perhaps the same thing which was returned to Mono by Dormin, the light in the darkness shown to us after the defeat of each Colossus, like the light in the darkness that was Dormin. Perhaps the Light Magic within a person is that abstract element which sets them apart from other living things, the part of Mono which existed beyond her body but could be returned to restore her, the part which can be given a new life to yield a new person yet at the same time a reincarnation of a previous one. Perhaps.


Written by Crumplecorn
Last updated 09/02/2009


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