IN ORDER TO extricate ourselves from the labyrinth of an unwinnable war, it may be wise to examine Emperor Snork, the “decider” of that war, as stethoscopically as possible, in hopes of finding a human heartbeat. It may not be easy, however, as his personal defenses are battlement strong, the royal Snork family closemouthed and huddled around him, and his henchpersons robotically supportive: all the ingredients of a perfect tyrant.
Emperor Snork of Whiteland’s own father had been emperor before him, a taller but much blander personality who stuck his big toe into a similar war, but drew it out again before the bubbles could come to a complete boil. Snork’s mother, a seemingly grandmotherly, white-haired patrician dame exuding family values, is a medusa-like woman who can turn anyone to stone with a simple glance, providing Emperor Snork with the aggressive backbone his father lacks. We can detect her hectoring voice behind Emperor Snork’s grins and grammatical fumbles: the stern Gestapo-like librarian mother demanding loyalty to a single idea, no matter what.
If we dare, let us try to enter Snork’s ironclad, innermost conscience with our wisdom-eye open as wide as possible, to see what makes him tick, tick, tick endlessly, on always the same stuck note, promoting a self-confidence in stark contrast to his father’s chuckling self-effacement (but covertly deceptive – he’d been a top spy!).
Once inside the leaden chambers of his mind, we note that there’s nothing but a sense of dynastic entitlement and a fanatic sense of doing The Good Lord’s work by turning the world upside down in his own blue-suited, redtie image. His personality is always a bit off-kilter, his tongue can’t pronounce words properly, he’s been coddled all his life, even during dark periods of alcoholic binges, so he holds desperately to a sense of upbeat cheerfulness even when the vista is a gloomy one, physically unable to see what’s in front of him. If he wakes in the night with a guilty conscience, it’s not because he has created one of the worst and most intractable tragedies in the history of the world, but because he didn’t play with his pet dog enough, or he left the light on in the closet. In fact, when we try to sound out the echoes of his conscience, we find he has none!
Emperor Snork, in a long line of similar world leaders who have marched their people off a cliff into Hell, and even like the leader of Yorack whom he deposed and had hanged in a seeming victory of “The Good”, has no conscience at all. What he himself thinks of as his conscience is in fact simply a reiteration of formulae for power, the constant repetition of which has convinced him that he’s right, no matter what. And because he has around him ambitious climbers with a similar lack of conscience (but he’s the “decider”), he is aided and abetted in his furious aggression. The only way to express his inner emptiness is to send in a highly technological army to crush a desperate people in a culture richer than his own, but which he sees only as a population to be forced under his control, for their own good … the cruel mother, whispering in his ear.
How someone like this comes into power is always a mystery; most people simply want to be happy, and if possible, wise, while the greedy for power claw their way into Oval Offices and captain’s seats and thrones. The shock is always that they get away with it even when their naked ambition becomes evident. One of mankind’s weaknesses, is in fact no one ever learns from past mistakes at all, but humans fall into their ruts cut into this world’s repetitions like wagon wheel trenches plodded deep by oxen.
Will no one ever wake up?