Boiler Room: We Need More Power!

Power corrupts.  You always hear this from books when speaking of the antagonist: he got a taste of power and got addicted.  That’s very true; power is addicting, and through the gaining of more power comes corruption.  In regular writing the writer is all-powerful, putting his or her characters where he wishes, how he wishes.  If this character needs to die– bye-bye!  If that character needs to fall in love, it’s as good as done.  And then when the writer decides to join a role-play (abbreviated RP), all of this is lost.  All of a sudden each character is controlled by someone other than himself/herself.  The illusion of total control has been irreparably shattered, taking power away. Now, other people may not be like this, but I know that I’ve become addicted to the power of writing.  By joining an RP, I threw most of that power away– not that I regret joining the RP– and would do almost anything to get it back.  Well…  Not so true, that.  One convenience of writing by yourself is that when the story needs a certain plot twist to accelerate, you can introduce it then and there.  With an RP, you can still see when the story needs a kick in the metaphorical behind, but you can’t always give it with the gusto it deserves.  This situation arose a few days ago, when a certain character needed to die or be maimed.  Unfortunately, that character was not my own to kill.  So I presented my idea, asked for executive power for a scene, and received it.  I had so much fun writing that scene, fun that I hadn’t had since I had been writing on my own.  And then, at the end of the scene, with another person’s character crippled and probably rattled in his attic, I had to give up control yet again.  What can I say?  I’m addicted to the control of fictional characters.

The corruptibility comes when this addiction escalates to a fevered pitch– when you stop at nothing to get control.  Now, with an RP, it’s rather difficult to suddenly club the other participants over the head and, laughing maniacally, seize the reins of your little story.

But in other places, say, fantastic politics, it’s easier to do that.  A good example would be found in the history of Lord of the Rings.  Morgoth (also called Melkor or Melchar) was the original evil guy in Middle Earth.  He was the first Dark Lord.

And then…  He was defeated, chained beneath the earth by his own iron crown, and had his feet cut off.  If he wasn’t immortal, I’d say that would kill him.  But that wasn’t the end of evil in Middle Earth.  No.  Want to guess who his lieutenant was, his right-hand man?  Yup.  Hey there, Sauron!  Good to see you looking so evil.

Sauron had also tasted power and wanted more.  Both Sauron and Morgoth had originally been good guys.  Morgoth was originally Melkor, one of the sons of the Creator, Illuvatar.  Supposedly Illuvatar had sung his children, the Valar, into being.  When they were present, they joined him and helped sing the world of Middle Earth into being.  But then, feeling the power and wanting his own, Melkor started singing his own tune.  Immediately he was kicked out because his tune didn’t compliment that of his father.  He became Morgoth, terrorizing the people of Middle Earth, making dragons, Balrogs, orcs– his version of elves– corrupting men with the taste of power.

Sauron was good once.  He had been a lover of coordination, order and law.  He was a helper of the children of Illuvatar, a Maia.  His original name was Mairon, the Admirable.  He was the personal helper of Aule, the creator of dwarves, the Valar of craft.  He was a really good guy.  And then, seeing how well-executed the plans of Morgoth were, he became corrupted.  His virtue became his undoing.  He wanted more power, more coordination– Morgoth gave him both.  There goes all virtue.  He lost the ability to assume a form pleasing to the eye when he instigated the Fall of Numenor and the second fall of men.  He became completely evil, in spirit and in form.

But the biggest example of corruption, I’m now realizing, is the story of LotR that everyone knows.  All that you see above is background that doesn’t come into the Hobbit or the Trilogy much.  Guess what corruption I’m going to talk about now: the Ring of Power.

The Ring held almost all of Sauron’s life force.  After he lost the ring to Isildur, his power decreased astronomically.  He became an evil spirit, eventually mustering enough power to make himself the shape of the Necromancer from the Hobbit, and from there he built his power until he became the Great Eye we all know and love.  Anyway, all of this is background.  The point is the Ring.  The Ring was a source of tremendous power– it was tremendous power.  And it corrupted pretty darn quickly.  Only minutes after Isildur picks it up he’s saying, “Ooh, shiny!”  Same thing happens when Deagol picks it up, then Smeagol, then Bilbo.  But when it came to Frodo, the corruption stopped.  Frodo was the only possessor of the Ring to date that couldn’t be corrupted easily– but in the end he was.  He claimed the Ring, and then the other victim of corruption stole it– “My Preeeeecioussssssssss!”  Power corrupts, more easily with weak-minded or purposeless individuals (in LotR, the race of men), less easily with strong-minded individuals with good morals (halflings).

Anyway, I’ve been rambling and showing off my memorization of the Silmarillion.  Forgive me.  My point for this post was to highlight the fact that once you have a taste for power, it’s only a few rare people who can let it go.  In the words of Mr. Lunt, “Once you taste a life of ease, my friend, there’s no going back!”

I spoke above on the power of writing.  The funny thing is the flip side of writing: reading.  When we read, we are powerless– if the writer is good.  If the writer is horrible, we can write bad reviews, burn the books, and do other angry reader things.  (Just kidding on the latter two– don’t burn books.  That’s bad form.)  But if the writer is good, he can take us along on an epic journey– the reason we read books.  When you’re a reader, you truly are powerless.  You can’t affect where that plot twist comes in– or whether it comes in at all.  You can’t make supporting character #34 rise from the dead any more than you can change the font of the title page.  You are completely in the writer’s power– yet another reason why writing is so cool.  And as it has been shown not a few times: you’ve got to be an avid reader to be a good writer.  That means alternating moments of powerlessness and omnipotence.

This is why writers don’t make good dictators: because they’re used to both power and the lack of such.  Now, to leave you with a hilarious picture…

A twist on two good sayings– of course, as “power” refers to two different things in this case it’s found to be of a fallacious nature. Think about it. You’ll get there eventually.

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42 Comments

  1. Charley R

     /  June 21, 2012

    Haha, Silmarillion FTW! I think Morgoth got what he deserved, the nasty creature (he killed everyone I liked in the Silm. I swear!). It’s almost worse when a villain starts out good – you think you can trust them, but OH NO! Treachery all round.

    Also, that picture. I’m glad you like it 😉

    Reply
    • Personally I like the characters you can’t possibly trust– Dustfinger in particular, though there have been more. Those that are looking out for themselves mostly and don’t care whose toes they trod on. But yes, the treacherous, yet wholly evil, are quite awesome indeed.

      Reply
      • Charley R

         /  June 21, 2012

        Oh yes! Dustfinger is an amazing character – though I did spend a lot of time just wanting to hug him. And give him a bath *shudders*

        Characters with dubious motives are great fun, becuase they not only force you to keep reading because you want to know what they’re up to, but they allow greater imaginative scope for the reader. They’re just so much fun to write as well xD

      • … What? Gosh, I’m glad I’m not a girl. That’d be awkward.

        Indeed they are. And when they really don’t care what people think of them, they’re even more snarky and fun.

      • Charley R

         /  June 21, 2012

        I swear he spends most of the books covered in soot and gods-know-what-else. He needs a bath.

        Absolutely.

      • Well, yes, but you daydream about that? That’s rather disgusting.

      • Charley R

         /  June 21, 2012

        No. Not at all. It’d be on my priority list, though. Right after a kick, and a hug, in quick succession xP

      • He often seems like he deserves a kick, but never a hug. And he always makes up for it with his loyalty just after ditching everyone in a tight spot.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Eh, I sometimes feel sorry for him – being dragged out of his world, his family falling apart, the whole Basta affiar, what happened at the end of Inkspell … besides, I think I could use the distraction to steal Gwin. I love that marten xD

      • Yes, he takes a couple of bad knocks, but he still manages to come back and betray the protagonists when it counts.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Yep. He’s like a cockroach … only taller. And fire-breathing xD

      • He’s a fire-eater, not a fire-breather. But I get your point.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        He does stuff that makes it look like he is. And he can set the freaking sea on fire. You don’t get much more awesome than that.

      • I will remind you again, no cursing/foul language here. By all means, write a post for your own blog letting out all the swear words you wish you could say here– but do not say it here. Now to find a synonym for what you just said that’s less offensive…
        Indeed. That invisibility trick was awesome.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Whoops …. sorry. I’ll watch that.

      • But back to our mutual friend, Dustfinger: There were many times during the trilogy that I wished I was Farid, just because of his apprenticeship– and then when he and Meggie were together I wished I was Meggie so I could slap him.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Yes. Very much so. And then she went off with that Doria critter at the end …. I was so confused by that. RIGHT out of the left field … excuse the pun 😛

      • Well, I didn’t think she’d really go for Farid anyway. Not for long, that is. He was devoted to Dusty and had room for naught else.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        I suppose so. Though he goes off all mopey like the teenager he is in the end. Though I was never fond of Roxane, admittedly.

      • Well, it would be hard on anyone to have her husband disappear for years on end and to come back with a boy he treats like a son. I’d be mean to Farid too if I were in her place.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Not that she was mean to Farid – she just seemed a bit … well, surly. All the time. And never did anything productive. EVER.

      • She was a farm woman by the time we met her– what did you expect?

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Eh, true enough. She could at least have hit someone with a rake or whatever 😛

      • Yeah, but traveling players were forbidden to assault people, and technically she was still a traveling player.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Hmmm … alright, I’ll give you that one. Though I’d say that rule could be broken if someone was trying to murder you and your friends. If the Black Prince is allowed that massive bear of his, I’m sure Roxane is allowed some weaponized farm implement. For emergencies, you understand xD

      • The Black Prince was an outlaw anyway. Roxane was a former player who took no pains to hide herself. You have to ask yourself which one would be better suited to going against the law.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Alright, alright, you win.
        …. Still … a bear!? Now THAT must be a nightmare with vet’s bills xD

      • Indeed. I wonder if the Prince brushes that thing’s teeth himself…

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        He’s a brave man if he does that. Let’s hope the bear doesn’t sneeze much.

      • Indeed.
        By the way, have you read my latest post yet? I want to know what you think of the story.

      • Charley R

         /  June 22, 2012

        Haven’t yet. Heading over now 🙂

  2. Excellent post! Why it’s not a Freshly Pressed, I would have no idea.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the thought, but if I were the person in charge of Freshly Pressed, I wouldn’t put it on there either. I rambled a lot here. But thanks anyway, and thanks for popping by.

      Reply
  3. Hey — awesome post!

    I loved the Mr. Lunt quote 😉

    Reply
  4. First of all, in reference to the title: YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS, JIM! (Unless you’re not making a Star Trek joke, in which case, pretend I didn’t say anything.)

    I agree – but at the same time, books belong to their readers. John Green says it all the time: you write a book and then it belongs to your readers, and they can interpret it and do with it what they want. So I think there’s a flip side to the coin.

    Great post, as always. 🙂

    Reply
    • I thought of putting “Scottie, we need more power!” “I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Cap’n!” but it was too long. But the boiler room thing was just a general joke.

      Readers can do what they want with the book, but only within the bounds that the book and the writer provide. This is one reason I don’t like fanfiction– the readers take too much power for themselves.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  5. *looks at picture and dies laughing* I love how your mind works, Liam. Now, all us nerds are evil, and we shall RULE THE WORLD!!!! * laughs evilly while cliche lightning flashes*

    Haha, kidding. Oh, and thanks for adding my blog to your sidebar! I just noticed. 😀

    Reply
  6. Excellent post! I stared at the picture for about five minutes, and since my brain seemed to have fried itself on some plasma ray guns, I could not understand it for the longest time. And then…*little light bulb thing that appears above people’s heads in cartoons and whatnot* Aha! And now I am laughing. Very much so in fact. Hehe.

    You said you were rambling a tad in that post, and I personally have the same problem. Once I get started on a topic there’s no stopping my brain from firing off little oddities to add to it. It’s like a train where the conductor forgot to add more fuel, it went skidding off the tracks and now all of the passengers are forced to scavenge in the wilderness and eat cacti for their brunches or nibble on each other’s toes, and neither option sounds that delightful to me. Although, there are probably some people out there who do so enjoy a good cactus brunch once every now and then.

    Reply
    • I think I just picked the wrong example to show how power corrupts, and then stuck doggedly in the same path for the rest of the post. Thus, I rambled. It’s a little different from what most people would call rambling.

      Reply

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