Chicago TARDIS, Part 2, Waxing Philosophical

As I mentioned in part 1, I’ve been thinking a lot about the name of things. It started when working on the book and trying to sort out exactly when it is appropriate to give a pattern a new name and when more appropriate to call it a tangleation of an existing tangle. There was a discussion about it among CZTs recently about but I don’t think we reached a consensus.
I started thinking about names more philosophically when I heard this quote from Dr. Who:

My name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is, “the Doctor.” The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make.

It made me wonder about naming tangles, but first I present Birdie in her cosplay.

From upper left: Birdie as Professor River Song. (Don’t you love her sketch?) Later that day: Donna Noble. Going from a curly blonde to a straight-haired redhead, to which I said, “Really?? why?” (Am I too old, or just not a big enough fangirl?) Then Femme 10. (I think she looks even better than David Tennant.) And finally at the beginning of the day as the Mach 8 sonic screwdriver, before the painful shoes went on and before 8 hours of not being able to move her head or shoulders.

Below, she is standing with the other winners of the costume competition, looking a bit worse for the wear. She won most creative. As the guy sitting behind me said, “That’s fresh!” And then later, “Who dresses up like a screwdriver?” As we always say,  “She is an original thinker.”


So how does this apply to Zentangle?

First let me say that I am interested in starting a discussion, but not in getting anyone upset. (To which Birdie replied, “I don’t think you can have a really good discussion without upsetting some people.”) These are just my opinions and I realize there are others out there and I’d really like to hear what you think.
Now for tangle patterns. I present:

Different or the same?
Birdie thinks Chillon is just a tangleation of bales. I think Warble is just chillon with auras and shaded differently.
Different tangles? I just see a squared and rounded version of the same one.

If we named people the way we named tangles, I believe I would have to rename Birdie at least 4 times this weekend!

We need names to identify tangles just like we need names to identify people. But, is it really necessary to name each and every tangleation with a unique name? I’d just as soon have a single name for a tangle and its tangleations. I would call emingle the “a square version of tortuca.” For that matter, I’d call chillon the “half-done bales.” I think it is easier to not have to remember so many names. Sonya, on the other hand, thinks it is easier to name them all so it is easier to talk about them.

Also, have you ever heard or used the phrase, “just a tangleation”? As if a tangleation is somehow a second-class citizen. Really, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Why does it seem more prestigious to come up with a new tangle than it does a new tangleation?

So, what do you think? Please share. Enquiring minds want to know…

9 thoughts on “Chicago TARDIS, Part 2, Waxing Philosophical

  1. New to Zentangle as I am, I have to agree with you about the naming of tangles (though this makes me think about TS Eliot and the naming of Cats…and they have to have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES…) – so many look so similar to me that I am sure they are just variations on a theme and don't require another name to remember! It feels a bit like learning Pokemon names…OK if you're under 10 but hard if you're over 50. Birdie looks great in all variations – I am so envious of your trip to the TARDIS. Glad it was good. Axxx


  2. I'm with Sonya for I think it's less complicated to have distinct names for each tangle – I can see that Bales is a half done Chillon but find it much more confusing to think of it like that – It's much easier to have a distinct name for what it is – then everyone knows what is being talked about. Drupe & Dyon have similar characteristics I agree but when I hear the name Dyon I think of that & when I hear Drupe my mind flashes that image into my head. It doesn't work for me saying Dyon with the intersecting lines tangleation for my head already has the image of Dyon imprinted. Not sure I've explained this very well but that's my input. It will be very interesting to see how this works out in discussion.Paula (PEP)


  3. For me there's enough of a difference between Tortuca and Emingle to have two names, being circular spirals and square spirals. What's always made me wonder is Emingle and Ambler, essentially the same but Ambler being a single row of Emingle. I've even considered writing Rick and Maria to inquire!


  4. It's funny how certain people view different patterns from a different perspective. Birdie thinks chillon and bales are really the same thing. Sonya thinks warble is too much like I think that some of the ones in the Zenthology that have different names would just be considered tangleations if they were writing it today. "Way back" when they first started they hadn't invented tangleations yet.


  5. For two cents, while I understand the usefulness of names, I also see that many tangles are variations on a theme and trying to keep track is wearing on me. Some appear more to me as doodles. I also wonder …will there be arguing in the future over who came up with a tangle and named it first? We can't possibly all have access to all of the tangles that exist or will be drawn and the names used for them. Also, I've drawn a few myself that I haven't seen anywhere or that I drew one way and then came across something very similar but not drawn the same way. What then? Worrying about naming styles and should I post "my own" is a little paralyzing. What I know for sure is I love your work, posts and shading book Chris. 🙂


    1. Yep, I already have heard people arguing over who “invented it first.” Luckily, most tanglers are generous souls and realize that no one really invents tangles. These patterns have been around forever. The only thing new is the name and the steps. And sometimes just the name! (Thanks, Susan.)


  6. Wow. I thought this was a relaxing joyful thing to do! Everyone will have an opinion and it seems the opposite of zen to stress over it. People have been doodling forever just because there is now zentangle and people have trademarked it they have to have names. They even object to any inference that a zentangle might be a doodle! For me having the stepouts are absolutely brilliant the very best thing ever since sliced bread! If you post a stepouts for a pattern and think you invented it and want to name it go ahead. Eventually everything is going to look similar anyway. We are dealing with small lines on small pieces of paper after all. Every person who finds a great way to make something beautiful and shares it with others is worthy of whatever recognition they want. The generosity of the human spirit is a wonderful thing.


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