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The Long Slow Wake-up Call of the Soul

Excuse the pretentious title. It’s just that it’s something approximating the way I feel right now: like I’m very slowly waking up from… well, something.

To be fair, I’m female, have several energy-sapping chronic incurable (managed by medication) conditions, and I’m at that time of life, so things are going to be kind of odd at the best of times (and not the good kind of odd, either).

I’m also half way through a nice long vacation and starting to wake up from my usual post-work exhaustion. The fact that it takes a week to get to this point is not a particularly good thing, but it means I’ll have not quite a week to be something more than a sleepwalking zombie. This will be nice.

In the meantime, I hope everyone here has had a wonderful Christmas and that all y’all have an equally wonderful New Year. I’ll even go so far as to wish that 2019 is the best year yet.

Not, given the last few years, that that’s a terribly high target.

In other news, it appears that whoever writes this plot is keeping most of the bad guys from getting hold of the Evil Overlord List. Naturally I hope this happy state of affairs continues. It’s so much easier to be on the side of the righteous – or to just get on with your own life in peace – when you can just let the other side shoot themselves in the foot (Was that a Sun-Tzu thing? When your enemy is making a mistake don’t interrupt?).

It helps that the selection process for leadership of the various factions around the world tends to eliminate the smart ones in favor of those who offend the fewest number of greasy eminences (yes, I know that’s not the correct term. Yes, I know what the correct term is. Shush.) (and by smart I mean intelligent and savvy. There are some terrifyingly stupid intelligent people out there). It also helps that idealists rarely survive the preselection contests (in some of the more… robust groups, literally).

Useful tip for worldbuilding and cultures: an idealist is possibly the single most dangerous type of leader you can have. The power-hungry can be bargained with. So can the corrupt. The idealist who is convinced that they are doing the right thing… not so much. A charismatic idealist can convince followers that anyone who disagrees is evil and must be killed. This is not a good thing: it leads to mass graves, and usually to power-chasers who use the ideals to keep themselves in power.

Of course, it also leads to all sorts of interesting tension that can keep a book going, so it’s good fodder for writers.

For real life, not so much.

And with that, I shall bid thee adieu, and cease my mad ramblings.

(Actually finding the posting source of this one is… challenging. I think possibly http://www.facebook.com/cat.addicts may be the best bet)

40 Comments
  1. Indeed. Here’s to hoping 2019 has many stupid foes!

    In Real Life. In our books they need to be a lot more clued in, so as to properly challenge our heroes.

    December 27, 2018
  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Smart villains?

    First you need smart heroes.

    Otherwise, your smart villains defeat the idiot heroes. 😈

    December 27, 2018
    • Mary #

      The villains can be smarter than the heroes in many arenas, and be defeated by exploiting their blind spots.

      December 28, 2018
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        I’m not concerned about “smart villains”.

        I’m seriously annoyed by idiot heroes who only win because the writer is on their side. 😦

        December 30, 2018
        • Mary #

          Sure, but that doesn’t preclude the villain’s losing because, oh, this hero and that one are willing to play the distraction while another hero actually has the honor of saving the day, or the things the villain knows are in the possession of one hero are actually in the hands of another who can use them more effectively, or just that two heroes are willing to put aside bitterness for the duration.

          December 30, 2018
          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

            Nod.

            A competent villain can be defeated because of situations that he doesn’t know about.

            December 30, 2018
            • Mary #

              The villain is more vulnerable than the hero to those particular ones, since they involve people doing what he, himself, would never do.

              December 30, 2018
              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

                Tolkien used that idea very well. 😀

                December 30, 2018
  3. As C. S. Lewis put it:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    December 27, 2018
    • PapaPat .Patterson #

      Oh, right right right!
      Typically, the robber baron doesn’t give a rip whether you are happy or not; they just ignore THAT end of the transaction, which allows you to find solace in what ever form you can. And this IS possible, if you can get basic needs met.
      But the do-gooder isn’t really satisfied until you have convinced them that you are enthusiastically in support of the regime.

      December 27, 2018
    • Ted Ung #

      Verily

      December 27, 2018
  4. Draven #

    no, greasy eminences is the correct term.

    December 27, 2018
    • Slippery, slimy, over-pomaded [looks north], so polished even their suits gleam, greasy eminences indeed.

      December 27, 2018
      • So.. uh.. that ain’t Show Sheen, is that it? };o)

        December 27, 2018
  5. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    Yeah, intelligent on paper, or educated on paper, can mean terrifying levels of stupidity.

    Sometimes it is not stupid in specific areas, but unable to apply experience outside of those areas, hence stupider than a collection of circuits missing the magic smoke. (Me, there are areas I am okay at. Everywhere else? I’m may not be stupid, I have thought about things, but I am definitely crazy.)

    As a natural idealist and natural fanatic I’ve found that I have many behaviors I easily slide into that could have very unfortunate results.

    December 27, 2018
    • “Do you intend to $INSANELY_BAD_IDEA ?”

      “Of course not! I might be crazy, that doesn’t mean I’m stupid!”

      or even,

      “I’m crazy, not stupid!”

      December 27, 2018
  6. Being tired all of the time is horrible. I wonder if people used to have more energy and there’s something about modern life that weighs us down, or if people were always pushing forward despite eternal exhaustion. And that’s just counting normal, and not “some weird actual condition”!

    December 27, 2018
    • I have a suspicion that there was a matter of it simply not being thought of to rest as is often done. I have heard of the ‘grandmother’ who (withing living memory, though not mine own) would be up at dawn, deal with the wood, fetch the water, deal with a generally pre-plumbing way of life (or equivalents… surrounding MIGHT be updated, but the Way of Life remained), be go-go-go ALL DAY… and into the night as long as the light lasted. And then do it all over the next day. And the next. And the next. And so on. I got the idea that even with modern conveniences (flip a switch, turn a tap, etc.) she’d be moving at speed and Heaven help anyone in her way.

      December 27, 2018
      • Maybe… or she just didn’t have a choice but to move-move-move all day. I think that my grandmother (who had nine children) fell asleep in her plate of potatoes one day. It might have been humorous but that’s how tired she was. So was all of her constant labor an indication that she had *energy*?

        My point is really… is it possible to know?

        December 27, 2018
        • It is possible, but this was far enough into the modern era that she could have had the modern conveniences (perhaps she did?) if she so desired. Or maybe just “set in her ways.”

          On the other hoof, I’ve seen a few folks who do an awful lot who are quite old and alive… and many do who don’t do much who are much younger and very close to dead. Perhaps she knew the secret to life: keep moving. (My own aunt has observed this from the wrong side and Very Much Regrets her relative inactivity over the last several years. She’s working on it, but the inactivity has lead to issues that make activity difficult. She has, in no uncertain terms, told me – if not in the exact words – that when Death comes after me, make good and sure he has to deal with a moving target.)

          December 27, 2018
    • And my intended point was a bit that figuring out what’s actually normal or not is part of figuring out what might possibly be fixed. And it’s so easy to berate one’s self for being lazy when we can never be inside someone else’s skin to know if everyone else feels just as tired, and of course no way to know what it feels like to be a sleepwalking zombie.

      Ha! Like when I was very very small and tried to explain to my mom that I didn’t know if I had an earache or not, because while my ear hurt very much, I got the idea that an earache was a particular and special sort of thing, and how was I to know if that is why my ear hurt?

      December 27, 2018
      • Once upon a time, when rather young, I had an overnight stay in a hospital and needed some help for something and wound up calling out. “Why didn’t you use the button to let us know you needed something?” Well, I’d been told that was for emergencies and my issue, while perhaps somewhat urgent, was not a (medical) emergency.

        December 27, 2018
    • The prayer for the dead is “eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord…” So I’d say people were very tired and just kept going. Kinda like Georgette Heyer’s cure for the arthritis the Peninsular soldiers suffered from — get up and march for six hours. Not the current choice.

      December 27, 2018
      • When I was very small, listening to the preacher talk about heaven sounded *just* *awful*. For grown ups who could never rest, it probably sounded like… heaven. 🙂

        December 27, 2018
  7. There are some terrifyingly stupid intelligent people out there.

    Oh, all the times I have asked “How can someone so smart be so stupid?”
    Yes, I know *ox* asking this carries enough irony for several year’s world steel production.

    December 27, 2018
  8. Bob #

    Am I the only one who HATES the EO list?

    What it all boils down to is: Don’t be an Evil Overlord. And a bunch of examples taken out of context that usually made sense in their original use.

    Besides, there’s more than pragmatism to consider, there’s The Code:

    “There was, there always was, at the start and the finish … the Code. They lived by the Code. You followed the Code, and you became part of the Code for those who followed you. The Code was it. Without the Code, you weren’t a hero. You were just a thug in a loincloth. (…) Forget the Code, dismiss the Code, deny the Code … and the Code would take you.”

    https://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/The_Code

    December 27, 2018
    • You’re not the only one, but I find it amusing and good story fodder to see what’s there that hasn’t been used recently.

      December 27, 2018
    • “Tis far, far better to be an evil Overlord than an Evil Underlord…though you’ll attract less notice.

      December 27, 2018
      • And if you’re a GOOD Underlord, you relegate yourself to the background and get no attention or acknowledgement unless something fails/stops/etc. and then you’re “evil” for that.

        December 27, 2018
        • Mary #

          Happy the people whose annals are blank in the history books.

          December 28, 2018
    • Mary #

      If you do enough stuff on the list, you become the Good King.

      December 28, 2018
      • Bob #

        December 28, 2018
      • Kate Paulk #

        It’s a rather twisted version of the old “one man’s freedom fighters are another man’s terrorists”. A competent evil overlord most certainly looks like the Good King from the correct perspective.

        December 30, 2018
        • Mary #

          Actually, if you use the right list, you WILL be the Good King in anything but the most saccharine of story worlds. There’s advice against oppression for instance, and many of the protections against rebels are Good Things To Do.

          December 30, 2018
      • GWB #

        Say what? My list has things on it like:
        38 If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.
        and
        47 If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

        And this one just….
        I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

        But there is this…
        50 My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard Windows and Macintosh powerbooks (and smartphones).
        So he can’t be all bad.

        January 1, 2019
        • Mary #

          Enough of them. Some discretion is necessary. However, 47 is entirely within the authority of the Good King. If King Arthur had announced at the Round Table that anyone, callow youth or not, was plotting to destroy him, what would the knights have done?

          January 1, 2019
    • It lets you know what tropes to use, or play with, or avert.

      I like it because it hits my funny bone. ^.^

      December 30, 2018
  9. 23 skidoo

    December 28, 2018
  10. Mark #

    Is the problem the idealist or the idealogue?

    January 1, 2019
    • Kate #

      Yes.

      The idealist with enough power become the ideologue.

      January 2, 2019

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