Revenge or Mercy

There’s a place we like to go;
to sit in the back and sip cold souls and sweet tea,

a place where everyone wears a smile,
and some of those smiles are even original to the faces
we currently wear.

What is more enjoyable than considering the beauty of the sunfall, the cosmic augury of the constellations, the various lush segments of cool oasis in a desert landscape, and the doom and downfall of your attackers?

Take a comfortable seat; that throne of iron or skulls you have in your castle, it’s quite impressive, truly, totally, but THESE chairs have a peculiar technology oft-unknown in the Halls of Power. It’s called “cushions”.

All action takes place in the present moment, and thinking about the past is a little like being stuck there. Don’t do that, especially if you try to pull it into your future. It never makes its way through the portal unchanged, and you certainly don’t want to be the one responsible for your own gritty reboot.

But by the same token, the art of carefully considering your dreadful upcoming moves is an unparalleled pleasure; or at least, if we DO spot anything running parallel to the aforementioned joy, we hammer it mercilessly into a ploughshare, even if it was ALREADY a ploughshare.

Why do we so oft see archfiends engaged in planning, rather than enjoying the spoils of their horrible plans?

Epicurus taught us: pleasures which are brief, which are quickly consumed and then gone, are oft inferiors pleasures; in fact, they might not count at all, in that regard. Is it really the chewing up of your enemies which is your prime, core, and singular joy? For most of us, certainly not! Even those of us who chew really slowly.

The instant of victory is indescribable. It’s also, literally, just an instant, unless you’re somehow frozen in a time-loop, and while there’s some philosophical argument for the idea that if you were in an eternally-persistent positive moment, that might be lovely; but it seldom happens, and besides, it doesn’t do your free will any good.

And this is the core argument for dissatisfaction. Because, like almost any feeling, it’s not pure, and that’s appropriate for any sentient being in a physical world. Any pure joy is like pure maple syrup: incredible for the first sip, cloying for the second, death-by-sugar for the last.

Likewise, dissatisfaction does not mean having no satisfaction at all. It means avoidance of attempts at full and total “satisfaction”, because to be in such a place is to be limited–we cannot sustain such a thing in the longterm and, I argue, we would not desire to do so.

And this is why we grant at least some of our enemies mercy. Certainly, they might return to kill us; but if we can’t defend ourselves against them, we potentially should take this as our cue to step out of the gene pool. It’s important to deliver meaningful and crushing defeats which advance your cause; but you should not utterly destroy your opponents every single time.

If you want the true satisfaction of being a monster, hurt them a little now…

…so you can hurt them more, later.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

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