All cards / Latest Cards / All other posts / Notes from Agla

Major Arcana / Minor Arcana / Court Cards
Wands / Pentacles / Cups / Swords
(For a list of all card articles, open March 2008 on the sidebar).

Friday, 7 March 2008

The Emperor

You again.
raised up in the centre
right between me and the core of it all.
All I do, make, love, hate, is
in your orbit / under your sun
you've got it all inside out -

- and you're not even here

empty space
just a symbol
things done by others

while you're far away, flapping tiny wings
close to the sun

while we're making war in the towers on the moon
flying on money and music

and you're just the explosion at the root of it all
you're just running the show
turning worlds in your hands

you push your red button / we're all mushroom clouds -

Did that sound frustrated? Did it? Honestly, if there was one card I could nuke out of the world, it wouldn't be the Hierophant or the Five Of Swords; it would be the Emperor. Call it my crappiness at real-world living skills, or my asshole father, but either way, I can't look this bastard in the eye. I can't even refer to him as a distinct person - it's always third-person plurals, or even just 'the Big People', or verbal caricatures. I know what it is, alright; I just suck at handling it so hard I wish it would go away. (As for embodying him, like I might try with the Hermit or Priestess or World...I prefer not to, though it happens to everyone sometimes).

The Emperor is the one who calls the shots for you. That is all. That is a long way from all, but I think the way the implications follow, like falling dominoes, is all kinda obvious and also not something I'm up to writing at gone half midnight. I also like to put a positive spin on all 78, and there clearly is one here - he's got to be here, it's good to know who and where he is and how to deal with him, and he can be on your side and often is. God knows you see good ones - 'Mr Shine. Him diamond.' - But, yeah, I have issues.

Now: a theory of mine about one of the non-obvious implications of the Emperor. It is based on real honest truth, and I swore a while back it would wind up in my Emperor entry in spite of my (and Sendalin's) unfortunate aversion to real honest truths. This was decided when I made this meander about NWN2: I said then that 'there's no name for that moment when a world first perceives itself, first realises it has a face and a name'.

I later recalled that there is a word that's within spitting distance of that, and that word is logos. It's not right, but I hope it's enough to mark out this trail. So. There's this ancient moment of all-consciousness at the back of a world, being aware of the place's name, nature and underlying rules - it has seen its face in the mirror. Front-and-centre of the world is the Emperor, with his finger on all the big red buttons.

The logos and the Emperor tend to gel well at first - they're both part of the same place, after all - but they are natural enemies and there will always be conflict between them and when it goes to the wall, the logos will always lose. It usually then disappears (and can reappear in the strangest of places...), leaving the Emperor with an empire that doesn't have a soul/law/identity any more. [What Dar Williams said - 'and the empire falls on its own splintered axis' - is a damn pretty idea about what happens next, but I don't think it necessarily follows, sadly.]

You can make a nice real-world allegory about this by saying that if you give someone absolute power over a situation, they will junk whatever original intentions lay behind it all and turn it towards their personal ends instead. But, mm, it's also the phoenix dancing.

And then this slipped out too:

- 'Maybe she flew away, like me with my emperor -'
Just one of too many lines I remember
From back when I knew you, the words running through you
Like water washing over my hands
On the outside
in the star-world

(-which I found when I asked for it
not coincidentally).

Images of the Emperor:

Did I mention the Intuitive card has a dancing sphinx made of at least six penii? Did I? No? I guess I have more restraint than I ever thought. Every other card in this deck has a simple block of colour outside its central circle; this is almost the opposite.

The Osho Zen gives us The Rebel. The message here is that only a rebel can be in control of his own destiny - he's not rebelling against something, he's just someone who's found the true nature of himself, found how to call his own shots, and that makes him a rebel and a stranger. As the Principia Discordia has it, 'a =POPE= is someone who is not under the authority of the authorities'; people who grok it can't be controlled. [Dar again - 'I had to take God into my own hands. Is it too late?']

Amano is once again making small reversals on the norms; the bird is holding a key in its mouth, though the key is generally considered an emblem of the Hierophant.

What I said about the Emperor in 2005:

[my opinion's changed little here, but I seemed to feel more positive about facing up to Big People issues back then.]

The Emperor is lying again. But that's just in my head. The Emperor, like the Hierophant, I have problems with, but I'm far, far better at understanding them. See, the Emperor can do whatever he likes to you. This is his show; he calls all the shots, he's in command (but not always control, though the Moon would know more about that than I would). It's a bad idea to forget that such things exist. I've hit the hard edge of government a few times recently. One communal edge is that recent election - the Emperor can kill in your name, no matter what you say or do or think of it; you get a chance to put a cross in a box several years later, and if you're lucky someone will count it, but that's all you have. There are people who do not care about you at all who hold your existence in their hands. The Emperor's secret is that there is no such thing as freedom; there will always be another who possesses the force to make you answer to them.

I find comfort in being always ready, even, especially, when I have no idea for what. I try to look him square in the eye. I suppose the other way is to try to be him, as much as you can; that's something that's never really interested me, somehow - my own life is enough for me.

No comments: