Villains, Zombies, the Apocalypse, and Reality

Fairy tale girl portrait surrounded with natural plants and flowers.Black-white art image in fantasy stylization.I used to stay up all night playing ‘Resident Evil 2,’ and it wouldn’t stop until the sun came up.. Then I’d walk outside at dawn’s first light, looking at the empty streets of London, and it was like life imitating art.. It felt like I’d stepped into an actual zombie apocalypse..

~Edgar Wright

We keep trying to escape this reality; is that because this reality isn’t good enough?  No, not at all.

It’s just that we keep realizing this reality’s deficiencies.  Carl Sagan said, “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”  And that’s true.  But…

It’s pretty damn arrogant to think we understand the Universe.  I’ll be honest; it took me something like two years to figure out exactly how I liked my morning coffee.  It took me ten years to realize that I look bad in shorts.  We seem to think that a small portion of a human lifetime is enough to tell us what’s “real”.

Friends, reality is malleable.  We are human beings; we are not slaves of destiny, we are not machines, we are not programs.  We change the world simply by existing within it.

That’s part of what Villainy says: “If we’re going to believe in a world full of monsters, shouldn’t the monsters be compelling and interesting, rather than banal and soul-destroying?”  This is what zombies say: “To hell with your day job, this future is more ALIVE.”  That is what every story of post-Apocalyptic survival says: “Forget the insipid joys; a real joy should be able to exist in the face of nearly complete destruction; it might even arise OUT of that destruction.”

We are beings of imagination and creation.  Go ahead, try to tell us what’s “real”.  We’ll fight back with a reality ridiculous and implausible, a reality flawed in every way except…

…except that as humans, we can make it real.  And that is Villainy and Renaissance Faires and zombies and Goth and Rocky Horror…but it’s also cell phones, computers, video games, and a basic understanding of history.  Reality is much less limited than anyone thinks it to be; Moore’s Law alone proves it.

We’re humans.  Our only limits are imaginary, and we can break imaginary rules any time we want; ask anyone who’s ever played Dungeons and Dragons.

Never let Reality hold you back.

~Jeff Mach

____________

Jeff Mach is the curator, both here and on Facebook, of  The Dark Lord Journal.  He’s the producer of Evil Expo, the greatest place in the world to be a villain, happening at the Radisson of Piscataway, New Jersey, January 24-26th, 2020.  You can find “There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN” right here on Amazon.)

On Making A Monstrous Army (“Diary of a Dark Lord” excerpt)

(This is an excerpt from my–that is, The Dark Lord Jeff Mach‘s book, “There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN: Diary of a Dark Lord“, a darkly satirical fantasy epic told from, of course, the point of view of the Villain. You can find the book on Amazon, if you so desire.)

I have never met an Orc with decent self-esteem.

Contrary to popular belief, Orcs are not ugly. They’re frequently asymmetrical, which can be jarring to other sentients, since normal humanoid bilateral symmetry tends to see deviation from regularity as deformity. (Yet we claim not to fear malformed humans; is that true?)

Oh, the cave-dwellers have tusks, sure. That’s a reason to dislike their faces. Then again, we fear the canines of the Orc…but we enjoy those of the dog. Why is that?

It’s because dogs are domesticated, unthreatening. If they were sentient, we might call them slaves.

Orcs refuse to be slaves to Man. And Man can’t handle it.

The Orcs and I have a long understanding. Because I provide them with a target-rich environment? Sure, that’s a bit of it. But I actually offer something better and far more meaningful. I accept them.

For humans believe that Man and Orc cannot coexist. Humans say that the Orcs are vicious predators who would see everyone else dead or in servitude.

And of course, humans wouldn’t lie, would they?

They never do that.

They surely asked the Orcs before labelling them as enemies.

Because that’s consistent with human history, is it not?

Humans have pretty much never recorded an encounter with Orcs that ended in peace.

That’s got to be the Orcs’ fault.

Humans believe that Orcs need extermination. Personally, I believe they need therapy.

I don’t make monsters.

Definitions make monsters.

You make definitions.

Do you know why you fear the things that go bump in the dark?

Because you’re the ones who drove them into the dark to begin with.

____________

Jeff Mach is the curator, both here and on Facebook, of The Dark Lord Journal.  He’s the producer of Evil Expo, the greatest place in the world to be a villain, happening at the Radisson of Piscataway, New Jersey, January 24-26th, 2020.  You can find “There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN” right here on Amazon.)

The Destruction of the Great Library

“There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN: A Dark Lord’s Journal” is the peculiar, blackly satirical tale of the Dark Lord, who is amassing an army of Things of the Night, and awaiting likely death at the hands of the White Wizard and the Chosen One.This is a piece of Jeff Mach‘s upcoming novel “There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN: Diary of a Dark Lord“. Find him at Evil Expo 2020, the Convention for Villains.

As mentioned before, sometimes someone with reason to consult the archives of a nation or place will express…frustration…that we know so little of our past.

Humans have a helpful myth, though. Once there was a Great Library. And great it was indeed! It was splendid, stuffed fuller than a holiday waterfowl with sages, white of beard and saintly of eyes, and it simply had all the books on all of everything. And then one day, one fell day, The Monster just came and burned it to the ground.

Which monster? Oddly enough, accounts seems to vary, depending on who tells the tale. One thing’s clear, though: it was never the fault of the side telling the story.

You catch a theme? Forgive me if I belabor it. But it’s this thing:

If two or three people tell a given story about an event, and are believed, then that affects the perceptions of those around them. Humans are highly subject to confirmation bias. If a few people are loud enough in saying that “these people are Good; those beings are Darkness incarnate!” – then, in many minds, it become so, regardless of what the other beings have done or what they are. Eventually, it becomes their truth. I reflect on this often, particularly because spellwork requires attempting to understand how Names are made, and the construction of the name “monster” in particular is of extraordinary import.

Consider: A young child spies a Goblin near a human settlement, looking at the human habitation with wonder and wistful yearning. The youth might be puzzled and feel moved to empathy by the pain on that darkling’s face. But wait until the child speaks of this to parents, who immediately yell at their offspring, and then cart the kid over to the town square, which is full of neighbors. They surround the child; this one shows an eye lost to Goblin attack (he speaks not of who attacked whom first, nor of the war around them, but surely that doesn’t matter, eh?) That one speaks of arriving only in the nick of time to prevent a Goblin from stealing her crops of wheat. (Goblins are actually gluten intolerant, but few people know that, and besides, who cares?) Everyone,suddenly,has a tale to tell. Her peers begin taking up makeshift toy swords and shields, vowing to defend the village. One kid refuses to play, and they torment her, calling her a monster herself, and saying that she sides with predators against the village.

In less time than you would think, the original spotter-of-Goblins has resolved that what she observed to have been a most definite look of cunning and hatred. The creature she saw wasn’t quietly observing a human settlement as a sad outsider, looking in; it was planning incursion! Maybe she even noticed signs in the distance that there were more Goblins, just beyond the tree-line—no doubt armed to the teeth. She’s lucky to have caught it when she did.

And this is what she will tell her friends.

And the lie spins ‘round another cycle or two…

It’s often said that humans are inherently good. Oh, they sometimes do bad things, but most of the time that’s just the occasional warring enemy tribe, and a good chronicling will just show that misfits were properly wiped out. (By the grace of Gods, o’ course, who are very much on the side of those who commanded that a given saga be written down. It’s fascinating how much humans put words into the mouths of Gods. One would think the Gods might resent it. Of course, the God who disapproves of you must, surely, be a Dark God…

…. worshipped only by your enemies. Ahem.)

Whereas, in contrast, virtuous humans are the inheritors of wisdom, progenitors of veracity. They are the beacon of brightness in what is an otherwise gloomy, hostile, and unfriendly universe.

And if you believe that, we’ve got a bridge to Narnia we can sell you. Cheap.

I became a Dark Lord because I knew that I wanted to effect change not like a homo sapiens, not like part of the human cycle of victory and erasure. I wanted to step outside of those history books, become some kind of thing unto myself. There have been a few Dark Lords, each one different, each one barely beaten, if at all (some just…slumber. Some seem to have found ways to ascend to the moon or descend into the seas, and simply have nothing more to do with Man. I am more foolish—I could call it ‘audacious’ if I felt like flattering myself—and I have my own ideas on where I might live. Somewhere beautiful and endless—like the eternal Goblin song, perhaps.).

The strongest defense against being rewritten when you die is to avoid dying, of course. II could have taken a path more likely to keep me alive, and I’d have been less of a target. But vanishing off the map leaves you in no real position to go changing what’s on the map. So it’s rather unhelpful if you care about the world of Man, and I do. Sometimes I care in ways that make me want to raze said world to the ground; but if that’s not a human feeling, what is?

-Jeff Mach