✨Spoiler alert :: Steven Universe. ✨
The Emperor is practical. He’s wise. He’s a cold hearted bastard. He’s a war god. The All Father. Thrives on blood sacrifice. All fists and discipline. He’ll fight you for a hill of beans, and he’ll probably win. He’ll then defend that hill of beans to the death.
He sits – and no one sits higher than the Emperor – on a block of stone decorated in ram’s heads. Rams for the light and warmth of the sun, for the way they run into each other in direct head-to-head combat over hierarchy. There’s also the mythical ram and his golden fleece. Or maybe it’s just a reference to the ways he tends to his flock.
The Emperor is Zeus. He is Odin, Indra, and Thor. He is God. He is Amun-Re, the solar god of ancient Egypt who was an actual ram.
As a kids’ story archetype, he’s Lord Business, George Banks, and Mister Burns.
The skeksis from The Dark Crystal are all Emperors.
As is the Once-ler, King Candy, Regina George, and Palpatine.
He’s the bad guy, the final boss.
Arturo Binewski too, from Geek Love. (Follow the link to my essay on Geek Love.)
We can learn much from the Emperor.
He is comfortable, ruthless, and protected. He is the absolute master of his own destiny. He won the game of thrones and now he is set for life. His final task is to protect his legacy, at all costs.
Despite the ankh he brandishes, luckily these men are mortal. They can be deposed though. (They never step down.)
“We should totally just stab Caesar!“
With his armored feet, sterile cement cube throne, and long, white beard, he is yang to his wife’s ying. The armor because he’ll forever have to defend all that he’s won. The cement because he is a solid foundation. And the long, white beard is to signify his wisdom. He holds an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life, and an orb to represent the world.
His colors are red, gold, and gray. He harnesses the full power and majesty of the sun, he’s virile, he has to be, to keep the Empress happy, to keep his legacy alive. He knows that he is his lineage. But the people that comprise his offspring are not nearly as important as his legacy. He will cut them out of his life without ever looking back.
Speaking of behind him, his mountains are not colored in, they’re only sketched. They’re not like the Fool’s crags. His are all red and gold, the same color as the sky.
He is the law.
He is Mr. Darling telling Wendy that it’s time to grow up.
He is King Triton destroying Ariel’s precious collection room.
He is every episode of The Fall of Eagles.
He thinks emotions are a waste of time. (Except maybe anger.) Beside the point. (Though no one’s immune, he strives to be.) He’s Yellow Diamond wondering what’s the use of feeling blue.
Thomas Hobbes :: “The life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” His utopia can only be achieved with the establishment of a commonwealth, one with absolute authority, one run by a supreme despot at the literal head atop the juggernaut body of the people.
The Emperor is the supreme ruler.
Like Yimou Zhang’s Hero fantasy: one conquering sovereign will unite all of warring China and his legacy will reign in an era of peace. An era of peace on a mountain of bones. But at least it’s stopped raining.
Ideally, the Emperor subdues his enemy without fighting. (But he doesn’t take his armor off, ever.) This was Augustus’s tactic, being nice was his craft.
Kind of reminds one of the war-mongering religions raping and killing the peaceful, harvest goddess villages to submission. She seems easy prey, but it’s unwise to completely dominate the Empress, her rage boils the planet. See Nina Paley’s Seder Masochism. (See the Empress.)
“Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shall return.” Joseph Campbell laughs, “Well, the earth is not dust, the Earth is life, vital, and this intrusive god who comes in late, wanting to take everything over to himself, he denigrates the Earth itself and calls it dust? What he tells you there is, ‘You really are your mother’s child.’”
Take this further, push it into Nazi territory :: Male Fantasies: Volume One: Women, Floods, Bodies, History :: Klaus Theweleit talks about the Freikorps soldier and his fear of women, and how all women were either White women, the sexless nurse, mother, sister; or the Red woman, the commie whore, the temptress who threatened his precious bodily fluids. The Red woman must be destroyed or she’ll infect everyone’s purity. (This is the Hierophant burning all the midwifes.)
After these divine emperors die, then what? Stuck inside a hereditary monarchy, the people are left with his diminishing lineage: Tiberius, Caligula, all the way down to the ridiculous Nero. This is The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. (It is a very Emperor thing to do to read all of Edward Gibbon.)
Emperors are students of history, war, and right angles. At number four, he forces a square. He will have order and stability. He will not putz around. His trains will run on time. Everything will be logically thought through. He’s allergic to passive-aggression and your feelings are a nuisance. He’s in the realm of the philosophizing kings, but more swords than wands, and certainly, no cups. Resources are nice, and money is an essential element of any war, but this guy is no sell sword, his heart is full of Empress and his children, all fragments of his self.
Tony Soprano :: “Now most of the guys I know read that Prince Matchabelli. And I had Carmela get the Cliff Notes once and it was OK, but this book [Sun Tzu’s Art of War] is much better about strategy.” Tony is concerned about his legacy. He wants the war to be over, he’s not a Machiavellian knight, he’s an Emperor.
“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.” (The Art of War by Sun Tzu)
Akira Kurasawa’s Seven Samurai: “This is the nature of war: By protecting others, you save yourselves. If you only think of yourself, you’ll only destroy yourself.”
“War is not fought alone.“
All the Emperor’s virility is aimed at the Empress, his softness is inside of her. Some Empresses are loved deeply and wholly, others are a mere prop, the ring on his finger.
One ring to rule them all.
In the Lord of the Rings, the precious gives the power to rule the world.
Wagner described the ring itself as a rune, a magic taufir intended to rule feminine multiplicative power by a fearful magical act: the denial of love: liebesverzicht.
Without the Empress, without love, the Emperor would just sit all day on his cement block overlooking the boring scorched earth. Without the Empress, there would be no more babies, no legacies.
✨ The Book of Symbols; Reflections on Archetypal Images. ✨Mean Girls. ✨ Dark Crystal. Jim Henson. ✨ The Art of War. Sun Tzu. ✨ Seven Samurai. Akira Kurasawa. ✨
Look at your piece, be ruthless and honest :: What needs to go? What’s beside the point? Where does your work meander? Every sentence counts. Finds your weaknesses and eliminate them.