Articulation: “Sapphire”

Does God disclaim the worm?

Let us start by defining our terms. “God” herein refers to the culmination of the concept of authority. In some fashion the choices of those with authority hold dominion over the choices of those without. This manifests as “precedence:” the will of authority underlies and precedes the individual will, so that those held in dominion must frame their choices in terms of rebellion or acceptance. Thus “God” is that which holds the greatest precedence, that foremost and primal will against which every decision is either rebellion or acceptance.

The worm and its Cult claim possession of that underlying will: that, in terms the human mind can comprehend, the worm articulates the weft of that primal fabric. It expresses in the language that is the body of the worm and the actions of the worm the will of that ultimate precedence. To live as a human, the Cult asserts, one must shape one’s decisions in the context of the worm.

That the worm transcends mortal authority is clear. That it expresses in itself the will that precedes mortal will is also clear. It demonstrated as much when it destroyed the world of man. Thus the argument that must be made against it by those of other faith is that the principle of the worm is twisted. Those who would deny the worm can only say: this understanding of the primal will is so distorted as to be false. It is as if a man were shouting in a storm, they say, and through that wind “Thou shalt not” is cut short. The wind is the hearts of the Cult of the Worm. Their ears hear only “Thou shalt.”

The personal conundrum posed by the existence of the worm one can resolve. In most articulations of the idea of God there is a tenet that towards His will the soul is drawn. There is a light that bears one upwards, and that light, the God-fearing say, is God’s; and therefore one need only say, “The worm is not my path.” to give it answer.

In the broader sense, what serves for one fails to serve for all. The claims of the worm are vivid and clear in the mind of its cult. Is this damnation or another understanding? Does God disclaim the worm or exempt the weak and gentle from its mysteries?

We do not know.

In the time of Sapphire a young girl was called a “boy,” and a young boy a “girl.” This lasted for the first seven years of every child’s life. In this fashion evil spirits that might target a child based on the terms and pronouns that one uses for it became befuddled; they would hunt fruitlessly through the halls and chambers of one’s home, never finding their target. Once a child turned seven, such evil spirits could do it no further harm; the proper terms and pronouns were once again in force.

In the unformed minds of children this often seemed a transformative event. Their seventh birthday was the day they could assume their “real” gender; before that, their status was tentative at best.

Those who concerned themselves with the morality of society considered this change the root of madness—alleging that those young men and women who strayed from the paths society set forth for them had developed a deep mental disturbance in the course of those seven years. Thus when Sapphire began to preach her savagery one of the many accusations leveled against her was ‘transition sickness’: that she was unable to shed the first seven years of boyhood nor reject her underlying womanhood, producing a physical dysfunction that most ideologues reckoned akin to a minuscule tumor or even an infinitidecimal tadpole in the cognitive centers of her brain.

This is not Sapphire’s story. The world in which Sapphire grew up is not this world. The progression of her life, though sad and glorious and terrible, is not in any form at issue here. For this reason we will share only a single incident from the corpus of her legend, illustrating that spirit and philosophy that drives the Sapphire Tribe to kill.

For six years, Sapphire has incited rebellion and disobedience. Her followers are legion. From time to time in her pursuits she has crossed the line of law. In pursuance of that law the Mayor of Foreston has captured her.

He has taken her bone-handled knife from her.

He has sent her to trial for her crimes.

That is where we will begin.

The examiner sits with Sapphire. She is weaponless and dressed in a soft prison gown. A latticework like a confessional separates them; he is in an airy room, and she in a steel-reinforced wooden cell.

It is his duty to determine that fate that the law has merited for her.

“You argue,” he says, “that we should shed the ambition of peace.”

“I do not,” says Sapphire.

“It is well-established—” he begins. She interrupts him.

“There are many people who are disaffected; dishonest; disdainful of civilized ways. To them I preach that the ambition of peace is a tool of corruption; that we are held down by our abandonment of the old weapons, that our fear of swords and guns and bombs is an archaism promoted by those who rule the law.”

“As I said.”

“I do not argue this to you,” says Sapphire.

“Then it is a lie?” the examiner says. “Political?”

He hesitates briefly.

“You would attest to this?”

“To you I would say this,” says Sapphire. “Woe to those who luxuriate in comfort. Woe to those who think the storm I have raised may grow still. Those who pledge to ancient principles will fall to those who awaken the ancient weapons. To you I would say, only savagery will save you.”

“I don’t fear you,” says the examiner.

“Everything you know will perish in fire, blood, and steel. Should we find guns or lasers or mass drivers, it will go fast. Should we find only our rage, it will go slow. But it will happen.”

The examiner licks his lips. He actually does fear her a little.

“Such things are not meet,” he says. “The aspiration of humanity has always been to have and cherish the land, the open spaces, the beauty undisturbed that we have made here. To abandon that for weapons unneeded—that is a sickness.”

“You’ll want to kill me, then,” Sapphire says. “I’m sure you’ve been instructed to that end.”

The examiner blushes, because to receive such instructions is as much a crime as to kill an innocent; but, of course, he has.

“Why would you do it?” he says. “Why would you want those days of fire?”

“They are better,” Sapphire says. “Tell me you deny it. Tell me there is something in you that does not know that you are small and dirty and corrupt. Tell me that there is something in your world that deserves in itself to stand.”

The examiner is silent. He wants to say: “The land! The people! The laughter! The peace!” but he is held in her presence like a rabbit before a snake.

“You disgust me,” she says.

She rises to her feet. And as he cowers there, meek behind his screen and shelter, she issues judgment upon the peaceful dreams of men as he:

“Die.”

In the riots that follow her attempted execution, he meets a man with a knife, sent not by her but by the Mayor; and, perhaps in obedience to her command, he does.

Three generations pass in savagery, iron, and blood.

Aton-Re, Prince of the Tribe of Sapphire, discovers the secret of the summoning of the worm.

“Articulation” continues tomorrow, Monday, or Tuesday.

9 thoughts on “Articulation: “Sapphire”

  1. That the worm transcends mortal authority is clear.

    How an animal can transcend moral authority i’ll never know.

    amoral = transcendance, then humans are the lowest of the low; even lower than dirt. Or at least stipulate manditory lobotomies.

    that’s an interesting world. A world where everyone is in an insane asylum except for a few “caretakers” who sacrifice hope of entering heaven so that others may live long enough to do so.

  2. Can the worm, as described, accurately be labeled “an animal”?

    Anyway, I think it’s shorthand for “That the worm is {driven by/a manifestation of/etc.–this part is deliberately unclear} an imperative that transcends mortal authority is clear.”

  3. The basic question here seems to be a very old one, and one that I think Hitherby has touched on before: If God (or just any ultimate moral purpose) exists, then why do bad things happen?

    “Bad things,” in this case, doesn’t refer to humans hurting other humans so much as it refers to impersonal catastrophe. The worm was a disaster so powerful that it devastated humanity at its most advanced; in a moral universe, how could this happen? The Cult’s answer to that question seems to be, “Because peace and happiness and harmony are wrong, and suffering and death and destruction are right.” (Perhaps not coincidentally, this resembles the rationale of most of the monsters we’ve encountered, although the contemporary one seems to have a more subtle view — see, for example, http://rebecca.hitherby.com/archives/000397.php

  4. The Cult’s answer to that question seems to be, “Because peace and happiness and harmony are wrong, and suffering and death and destruction are right.

    Whose “wrong and right” are you using, mine, or the Cult’s ;)

  5. A stern chase is a long chase, but I’ve caught up. Popping my head up briefly to say how much I appreciate Hitherby — the creativity, the quirky humour, the emotional truth, the ninjas… Also this community is pretty special — the depth of analysis is sometimes almost overwhelming, and it’s fascinating to see the ongoing effects of this feedback loop.

    Thank you Rebecca for sharing this with us. Not just the product (which is extraordinary enough!) but the process also.

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