Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Sin of Pride/Vanity

"He looks like a walking corpse… Like a mummified body dead a thousand years. Amazing he is still alive, much less the most powerful man in the Galaxy. He isn't even that old; it is more as if something is slowly eating him."
- Prince Xizor in the Star Wars Expanded Universe

The Sin known as Pride, or Vanity, is the insidious root that generates all other Sins until that blackened tree fairly scrapes the sky. All its branches continually meshing, meeting, and entangling as Sin begets Sin; all trails back to the trunk that molders and putrefies yet, perversely, will not die.

Such is the condition of that singular individual they call Vanity's Tyrant. He, above all, is the incarnate of Pride, as his own bloated self-worth swelled and distended out to encompass the kingdom as he rose higher and fell farther. The Tyrant wields power like that which has never been seen before and hopefully never will be again. He strides on the broken backs of friend and foe alike. I say he verily calls the gods to attention when his armies swarm and blanket the scorched cities banded by dead horizon only. For this is Tyrant's land, the dead land. There is not even silence here, but the despot's laughter ringing a dead tone from cracked desert to turbulent waters.

But let it be known that while the state stomps eternally on the face of all that is good, the Tyrant rots on a throne of gold and ivory. He looks ahead and sees the world scraping and bowing and delves delightfully in his own might but he is blind to himself. He is warped and so is the mirror. Life is love, and laughter, and peace like a meadow waving in the breeze of warm summer's day. Life sustains and is ever-growing; it is green and vibrant. It is rocked by winds and rain but perseveres through the tempest. Sin itself is outside Life, it is an intangible thing that yet infects the living. It is disease. The Tyrant has sunk into himself and does not realize that he is encrusted with a sickness that feeds upon his physical form. The sight would inspire most holy pity were it not so terrible: a dried, desiccated, shriveled corpse crows and sneers from down on high and crushes the kingdom in his gnarled hands evermore.

This silly little vignette, written in the melodramatic style of Edgar Allen Poe and containing imagery from T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," was written for an English class in college. We were reading Spenser's The Faerie Queen, which features many fantastic creatures that represent various sins, such as "Error." The assignment was for us to design our own monsters, based on a sin of our choosing, and I chose to build Pride/Vanity out of the character of Emperor Palpatine (a.k.a. Darth Sidious), the tyrannical Sith Lord and galactic despot from Star Wars. According to the database at starwars.com, "The dark side energies flowing through Palpatine's body were so intense, that they ravaged his mortal frame. The very source of Palpatine's strength was killing him." (In case you haven't noticed by now, yes, I am a geek, although I usually prefer Star Trek.)

Maybe I should post it on fanfiction.net?


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