Monday, February 2, 2015

Everyday Villains

“Murderers are not monsters, they're men. And that's the most frightening thing about them.”
Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

I've been searching for an antagonist for quite some time now. In my genre, they come in a set grouping of villains/villainesses that get recycled over and over in one shape or other. I don't want to read about another disembodied darkness or hell bent tyrant, let alone write about one. So, what am I to do?

It occurred to me some time ago that I really didn't need to invent a villain. There are so many real world examples of despotism and senseless violence that all I would need to do is model my antagonist on one of those historical figures. And so began my search. Much to my dismay, I found many examples.

"There are no life, the monsters win.”
George R.R. Martin

Last week was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I spent the entire week reading testimonials from the survivors (though how one could endure such a thing and still remain sane, is beyond even my imagination) and newly released photographs. What touched me the greatest was the photographs from Auschwitz and Berken-Belzen. Lines of men, women and children (and this, dear reader, is where my resolve for this endeavor failed) being marched into those places of industrialized horror. Toddlers and younger clutching at their mothers as they waited...waited in line for the Final Solution. And then...THEN...the pictures of the SS officers who ran these camps at a retreat in the mountains. They smiled, (Smiled!) as they sang to the tune from the gamboling accordionist. 70 years on and still the history of it brings only bile.

"There will always be men like you." - The Avengers

There are others. History is littered with them. Men and women alike. All just as horrible as the next in their own way. I had to stop, eventually, and take stock of what I had learned. Human beings can be monsters. I could easily  pick any of them and fashion a truly unique antagonist of visceral proportions. I could do this, but I will not.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Not all of human history is despair, which is why I have abandoned this part of my "research". If a person wanted to read about the horrors man can and does inflict on his fellow man, then all one must do is read the news. I don't want to write a story of despair, but rather one that brings the reader at least a glimmer of hope. Much like the little boy under the cupboard who had lost nearly everyone and everything, I want there to be a reason to fight on. Something that might inspire others to think beyond and above the everyday humanity.

 “If I can't be beautiful, I want to be invisible.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters


  1. Friedrich must've been talking to me. sigh. Too Late!

  2. Friedrich must've been talking to me. sigh. Too Late!