The Dark Lord (Short Story)

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Olcan McSparron, Contributor.

It was midday. Isaac Hoffman sat backstage at the International Conference on Long-Term Geopolitics and Social Trends, gin and tonic in one hand and speech in the other. He read over it one last time before facing the crowd. Isaac was 28, young for his age and an extraordinarily well-respected academic. He had a successfully published PhD, more book reviews than he could count and two published peer-reviewed papers. Regardless, he was about to walk into a hall where he was very much seen as a foetus who was punching above his weight.

He was nervous and he had every right to be. He knew academics; they were self-centred arrogant individuals, quite often unjustifiably confident in their own abilities. They would definitely tear his paper and ideas to shreds. There was no denying it though, the idea had merit and regardless of the idiot they were surely going to try and make of him, he was going to present it.

Downing the gin and tonic, Isaac walked out to the crowd of academics. Smiling, he was greeted by a loud, albeit cold sounding applause. Looking out in front of him, he saw a sea of grey hair and balding heads, only interrupted by some blatantly obvious works of hair dye. Waiting for the applause to die down, Isaac looked and smiled at the crowd. Laughing initially in that nervous way one does when they are in slightly over their heads, he said, “Good afternoon, I hope you all enjoyed my paper. I’m aware the ideas that I am putting forward seem controversial and I’m also aware that the ideas of geopolitics, English, mythology and theology all seem to have blended into one. Bear with me though, throughout this speech, I will prove to you that the ideas I put forward in my paper regrading mythology and politics were simply scratching the surface.” Smirks filled the room as Isaac paused.

“I am today going to prove to you that a character that appears consistently throughout mythology and throughout our popular culture – the Dark Lord – is not a fictional or mythological phenomenon. The Dark Lord is a real man. Throughout history, there have been countless men who without even knowing, undoubtedly have been the bearer of this title.”

Isaac paused for dramatic effect. Looking up, he saw even more smirks and colleagues laughing and whispering to one another.

“I’m aware this idea sounds insane when I say it aloud so candidly, but stay with me and this will all become much clearer.

Carl Jung wrote that mythology reflected mankind’s inner wrestlings with his psyche. What if he was wrong, what if the inner psyche was reflecting events that happen in the outside world? Events orchestrated and conducted by, say, the Judaeo-Christian. Although similar figures do appear across all major myths, legends and religions, I am talking about the figure of the Devil. Over the past one hundred years, the idea of the Devil has diminished, it has been viewed as too simple a way of explaining mankind’s evil. What if it isn’t though? What if there are individuals, powerful individuals who can manipulate others and those more vulnerable than them to do evil? We as a society place things on levels of evil that shouldn’t be. We say the child that steals sweets, the college student who does drugs, the man who has an affair are evil or are committing low-level evil acts that could lead them to do something worse. But are these simply people who have committed sin, but haven’t actually been evil. Evil itself requires something more, a suffering to be done onto others; a suffering that can be averted and is totally unnecessary. Of all the individuals I mentioned, I don’t believe any of them wish to cause intentional suffering to someone else. You will find very few individuals who actively want to go out of their way to cause that suffering. The Dark Lord, however, is an individual who does actively go out of their way to cause suffering.

They cause this suffering to enhance their own power and prestige.  Throughout history, we see countless examples of rulers like this. Rulers whose decisions and power have affected the very nature of the world, who through their actions have changed society for the worse. To name but a few examples, you have the obvious evil of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, a man I need not remind you was obsessed with mythology, the occult and a sense of destiny. Could this man not be seen as a Dark Lord? Or the less discussed evil of Talalt Pasha, the man who exterminated the Armenians? Or to go further back in time, Leopold of Belgium or Ivan the Terrible? All of these men brought misery and suffering to the world in almost mythic proportions. All of their evil was unnecessary. They started conflict, genocide and conquest just for the sake of it.

Would they not fit the description of the mythical Dark Lord?

Would they not be figures who match this supposed mythological archetype? My friends, I must tell you the Dark Lord is not something to be constrained to the stories we tell our children. The Dark Lord is not some mysterious figure cloaked in black. The Dark Lord is a man, a man who is very real, conducting the Devil’s work here on Earth.”

Isaac stopped and looked up. The academics faces had changed and he had a feeling that saying Jung’s name had helped. They were thinking, mulling over his idea. He hadn’t even got into the main body of his speech yet, discussing interpretations of evil, how evil men change geopolitics, how good always rises up to defeat it and how this in turn ties in with mythology and religion more so than even the Dark Lord himself. Yet despite good defeating the Dark Lord, he had a habit of returning in a new body, with impressive new words, new technology and new minions at his disposal. Maybe a consistent evil would always rise and good would have to kneel down to meet it.

At the front of the hall, one of the younger (yet still totally grey) academics raised his hand to ask a question. Smiling and nodding, Isaac accepted.

“Dr Hoffmann, this is unquestionably an outlandish albeit interesting theory you are putting forward, which seems more philosophical than geopolitical. However, its relevance to geopolitics and how evil men can change the world also cannot be understated. I must ask: you have mentioned some men you believe to be the incarnation of this Dark Lord, and all these men are historical Dark Lords, but who is the current one?”

Isaac smiled, rubbing his hand through his hair. He looked at the academic and replied, “I’m surprised a man of such intellect even has to ask. I believe it to be very obvious.

The current Dark Lord is …”

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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