This shall be my new cosplay.
Part of creating a distinctive take on an existing genre includes interpretation of elements based on accepted values. Write something already done, make it new but as close to old as possible: this is called “The Glittery Vampire Gambit.”
Blah blah blah. In all of my very limited genre reading, Elves always act like nothing more than immortal magic humans. Stereotypical Italians are profoundly different from stereotypical Japanese and they’re human. How can we accept Tolkein’s Elves as a different race when they just act like pale Ren-Faire Brits?
My reading of folklore says that Elves ain’t got souls. What does this mean? The meaning is huge.
To me, a soul is what allows a person to relate through aesthetics and emotions. You need a soul to be affected by a song or by a crying baby. Does that make the soulless Elf a sociopath? Too easy! So no!
The Elf has values. They are Elvish values.
We want to keep some sort of Elvish society after all, some sort of Kingdom or Autosyncratic Commune. They have craftworks, art, and history.
They understand creation of value, however emotionally off-kilter they may be to Humans.
What would an Elven Cloak really do?
Lacking an emotional framework to appreciate beauty, the Elf would have to go elsewhere for invigoration: immediate sensation. They would be intellectual sensualists. Sort of Vulcan Pimps.
The Elven Cloak would be like wrapping yourself in a ever-shifting environment. Warm and cozy one day. Cool and silken on another. Magical craft would give the textures an infinite variety.
Among the Elves, the cloak would shimmer, ripple with fractals and mandlebrots, reveal interlocking patterns of leaves and other items from nature. The cloak would have pockets for everything. Be camoflauge against the limited Human visual capability. The cloak may be semi-sentient, able to respond to its wearer and environment.
What about other art?
Elvish Epic Poetry would be a straight read of a historic event, the language precise down to invoices. An EEP would also be follow precise meter requirements, reference previous works, include obligatory codes concealing subtexts, and comprise a completed suduku.
I’ve always had an issue with Elvish behavior a la “Lord of the Rings.” Granted, being long-lived they wouldn’t get excited about a whole hell of a lot. Elves would also be proficient at their weapons and whatever, sure. A search for innovation in a material world would run short eventually, so boredom, okay.
Elvish music would be the most complex Math Prog Ren Faire tunes imaginable. Mozart times Robert Fripp times Kraftwork played a two-thousand string harp.
But to me, an eternity of experience would provide an endless fount of free association. They would have to work to keep themselves from being bored and they would develop the wit needed to do the job. Would conversation with an Elf be filled with asides, aphorisms, references, quips? An Elf who had lived through Western Civilization would alternate between daydreaming and reciting advertising placards from the 1700s.
Elves may look at Humans not as individuals but as a stream of recurring behaviors. An Elf may have a grudge against generations of a family, but I think they’d just as easily see connections Humans could not perceive, and carry grudges against Humans who favor paprica, or born Sagitarias, or wear their hair high.
So, this Elf I’m designing for my story would have a conversation seemingly full of whimsy, but when examined, the whimsy would have unseen relation with the serious matters at hand. They would be discriminating in tastes, have strange reactions to normal objects, want to relish surprises, be willing to try any new experience, and have ornate explanations for anything they do.
Vulcan Pimps? Yeah, Vulcan Pimps bee-yotch!