Sunday, 3 July 2016

Rambling thoughts concerning the Imperium's mental state


'...Every creature under the astronomican needs sleep, even Space Marines, tell me no different!  With sleep's denial, mortal or paramortal, comes wandering thoughts and waking dreams-- hallucinations they are called, black visions of the basest and most primal of deep-seated fear, of raw uncertainty.  But Astartes fear nothing-- my lords, don't tell me this!  As you wish, no, not physical things as WE fear, no-- darkness, heresy's taint, superficial things-- and yes!  We even fear the very angels-- but for what?  For betrayal, for their unreadable action, for their apathetic, emotionless reason and logic...
Know this, still they fear!  And what does an Astartes fear?  What?  I shall tell you.  Betrayal.  The unknown.  To fall without thought into madness.  To be left behind.  To be unremembered.  Do you understand?

'This, my lords, is my point; that these "Sagodjur Fjorlag" are no more than a vision; these "Space Marines" seen and reported numerous times by guardsman and Astartes alike, they are hallucinations, fabricated by decaying and dreamless minds kept awake.  All fear what might become of the Space marines, and that fear is given bodies in our minds in the form of visions.  Give them no thought, no heed should you see them!  Things fouler than traitors can take advantage of your minds in such a state. What you all saw to-day was nothing, it was nothing!  Forget you even thought you saw them.'

Commander Phaleg IX to Inquisitoral interrogators post-combat, in an attempt to explain the questionable nature of their recently uncalled-for allies.

It all started with an amusing thought to tie in my Space Marine chapter with a favorite video game franchise...  Having written the quote, I can't help but think... 
You might not think it, but I am very interested in subconsciousness and the dream state; I think this is why I like Konami's classic Silent Hill so much, along with titles such as Psychobreak.  Symbolism and the representation of the undepicted is very important to me, and the unseen fear cuts deeper than cheap screamers ever could.
While sitting with a skitarii's shoulders drying between my fingers I had a far-fetched and strange thought; how much of the grim drak future is really, truly physical?  I have almost no proof of this and there's no reason for me to pursue this theory, but it's a thought all the same.  Who knows what thoughts humanity had during the age of discovery, when sublight travel was all they had?

Here's what I am putting forth: that there are no daemons, no xenos, no space marines.  Only the existence of humanity and its decaying mind.  Let me see if this rambling mind can't elaborate at least a bit for you... without turning it into Dark Souls...


Firstly, let's discuss the presence of xenos, as that's the easiest to explain away.  Please remember that this is only food for thought; in no way am I pursuing this as possible canon.  Of the thousands of kinds of alien encountered in the grim dark future-- note I don't refer to the 41st millennium exclusively-- the most widely-known and feared factions are those that GW have produced kits for.  Why are these xenos all so common, and all depicted so similarly?  Thoughts spread throughout the Imperium; when one person tells another, that's twice as many who think as before, but descriptions will vary.
What relevance does this have?  Let me now remind you of anxiety-based hallucinations, more often than not encountered in small children between the ages of 2 and 10 but sometimes reported amongst adults, though this is rare.  The infantile mind has not properly developed and everything is so much more vividly imagined.  D'you have some childhood memory of a beach or perhaps your first trip to a really big shop?  While the memory remains intense and exciting, the magic of the actual location is lost as one grows older, because-- simply put, the mind has grown up and has learnt to put away such free emotion.

What about in the Imperium's case, though?  Fear of death is a large thing, particularly amongst the richer, better-off classes as they know these worldly pleasures are the only heaven they'll be accepted into, so what does mankind do?  For the most part they'll intoxicate themselves with drugs and hormones, or fill their hearts and brains with wire and bits of iron to put off dying for as long as possible.  Can you imagine what this would do to a body, a mind more importantly?  The desperation, the chemicals, to say nothing of the mutation that comes with radiation and inbreeding, the havock it would inflict on a developing mind would be terrible.  Drug abuse too, of all kinds, is considered a pivotal key in developing schizophrenia among other disorders.
...Where was I going with this?  The xenos are collective fears made manifest in people's minds; the unkillable foe in the Necrons, life's hopelessness in the tyranids, the fathomless knowledge of the Tau, do you understand?  Those people "in the know" will unconsciously associate these trains of thought with certain imagry and so the xenos species are created.  Emphasis on the "in the know", for to quote the 3rd ed rulebook, "Many citizens labour their entire lives, overcoming strife and toiling hard... without even being aware of the Imperium except as a children's story."  For these planets out of the loop, theirs is in fact the kindest of fates in this regard, but that's not to say that they have no concerns with the psychological, either.

Secondly, the Space Marines.  That's pretty easy too.  In all their troubles, figmented and otherwise, mankind dreams of a hero that would come down and save them.  Let me tell you an interesting thing that happened to me; I was once made to attend an appointment or two with an actual psychiatrist to try and better understand my morbid outlook on life.  I didn't enjoy it much, so I feigned a certain mindset for the duration just to see what'd become of it.  I was given a number of tactics to try and deal with my "emotional roadblocks", one of them was to imagine my fear as such a creature, and then overcome it with such an emotion depicted as such a character.  D'you understand?  Space marines, among those who have heard of them, all imagine them slightly differently and this is how we get the differing chapters.

Man is born with an innate desire to worship something, and it is up to him to find it; in this godless future they will begin to revere these imaginary heroes as if they were truly there to be worshipped.  And with that reverence comes fear, maybe hate.  What would become of our heroes, were they to ignore our plea?  What if we did such a thing, would they hate us for it?  What if they didn't want to protect us anymore?  These thoughts grow in intensity and the chaos Space Marines are imagined, warring with mankind and their own imaginations.

What then is the Imperium doing, to suffer the affects of a horrific war that isn't really true?  That's where I get to the last point-- excuses.  Yes, that's all it is, excuses for catastrophes mankind inflicts upon himself.  War in general to the dread exterminatus are all wounds of some darker and more confusing thing that man chooses not to accept and imagines otherwise. 

In real life I believe in dead space-- lifeless stars, empty planets-- I believe we are truly alone in this universe.  Mankind's friends (and, by extension, his enemies) are those he imagines and creates for himself, and this is the facet I find most intriguing in Warhammer 40K; the war within, the Imperium constantly turning upon itself in civil wars and corrupt allies.  There are uncounted trillions of humans scattered across the stars, all thinking, all fearing-- can you imagine the psychic presence that would have? 
Hallucinations can take all forms, including "implanted" memories such that the mind will create to try and make a dream's plot make sense.  What if, like Silent Hill, thought processes and memories with enough intensity behind them were actually made manifest, unexplainable, undeniable?  No amount of researching can deny nor prove that Silent Hill's mental state could actually happen, but with enough skulls looking at the same spot, who can tell what might happen...

Once again, I'm not trying to impress this upon you.  Hell, I don't believe it myself.  You know, if I wanted to press a point I'd try to make it at least a little less of a pain to read, but that's that.  You'll never think of the grim dark future the same way now, thank you for letting me ruin your hobby ;)  If you have any thoughts or maybe a question regarding this pointless topic, don't be afraid to share!
Bye-bye for now.

In case you hadn't noticed, I've discovered the beauty in classic Wayne England.  Poor soul.  Requiescat in pace.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty intelligent! All xenon and daemon just figments created to help mankind's decaying comprehensive outlook on the truly dark reality in life, loneliness. Failure, anger. Mankind has beat himself up so hard, that in this self devouring plight, excuses to explain these happening makes the xenon and heresies. Humanity is slowly and surely, losing its mind in 40k, and that is truly grimdark.