Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Tabula Rasa Heresy, Introduction

"Look around you! We must tear down the rusty and ancient cage that we have built for ourselves and replace it with a shining tower that can once more touch the stars. Without evolution, we are shorn of our greatest strength."

- Inquisitor Laschia, expressing the Recongregator faction's goal, at the Oulan Symposium.

In case the Latin title, Warhammer quote and motivational poster didn't give it away, I'm a nerd. I spend too much time online, get excited about superhero movies and own more books than I've had girlfriends. Yet despite the whole "to admit defeat is to blaspheme against the Emperor" undercurrent, I haven't quite reached the terminal stages of nerdiness; tabletop wargaming being just a bridge too far. Hell, I don't even wear glasses! And believe it or not: I lift the odd weight and punch the odd face - by which I of course mean engage in a challenging dialectic. Still, I will admit to playing (and boast of kicking ass in) Dawn of War, the PC version of tabletop wargaming. As you've probably realised, I'm a real PC-kinda guy.

So, any ladies still here? Any gents who shave, for that matter? Quite honestly, I expect that first paragraph to have frightened off all but the hardcore grognards. Ah well, maybe such an audience is best able to understand my frustration. See, all this cheesy war and honour stuff, Space Marines and the Imperium of Man and whatnot, there's a bit more to it than an infantile delight in toy soldiers. Fact is, I find it inspiring. Sure, I know that sounds lame, like after I'm done here I'm gonna be snapping off salutes to a poster of Admiral Ackbar or practising my lightsaber kata. You know what's even lamer though? That our society's warrior culture exists only in science fucking fiction.

Now if reading blogs is still the done thing, a lot of trendy types will be sneering at this point. I'm sure they'll dismiss respect for anything even remotely martial as bullshit macho posturing. Well hey, feel free, trendies! Door's to your left, in case you can't see it for your fringe... Not that I've shaved my own hair to a crewcut or anything. I don't even own a gun, or dogtags, even a knife. Well, I did own several knives but have a terrible habit of losing them. Point is, I just feel sometimes, particularly times like these when I've got a tumbler in my hand, that it's a damn shame I didn't get a crack at army service. Not that I'd have been first in line to take a bullet for old F.W. or anything but... I think a lot of guys from my generation wonder how we'd have done in a warzone. Sure, we kind of live in one anyway the way this fucking place is going, but I mean a real, full-on, blue-team-vs.-red-team shooting war.

Would we keep our heads down and our powder dry? Maybe even rack up a kill or two? It's like a man's psychological balls don't drop until he can honestly answer that question. And deep down, in that nebulous region where our heart's cockles are said to be, I suspect we all harbour the idea that, given just the right circumstances, we could be the biggest, baddest motherfuckers this world's ever known.

So how about it, men of my generation? Not to mention those lucky, young bastards out there who aren't staring down the barrel of a loaded three oh... Does any of this sound familiar? You nodding your heads or at least giving a rueful grin yet? How about when I mention that fantasy you have of walking into a bar and smacking seven shades of shit out of any punk who looks at you wrong? 'Course, I left out the bit where you sling the hottest babe in the joint over your shoulder and take her back to your fuck-dungeon but I know you're feeling me.

Fact, every man worth the name thinks like this on some level. We've all got a killer instinct, it's just covered up with years worth of etiquette manuals. Sometimes, when the stress - or even just the hormone levels climb into the red, we'll shelve the books on good behaviour and go looking for a fight. Maybe we'll hit that bar we picture in our daydreams. And after a few beers, we'll spot a jerk with just the kind of face we take exception to, roll up our sleeves, and swap a few good-natured punches before our friends drag us away with exhortations to chill. And that's all very well, all very natural.

But it's not glorious, is it? Kinda like the beers and the girl we might sling over our shoulders (at least metaphorically, unless we're really beefy sons of bitches), all we get out of it is a fleeting buzz and maybe a story or two. Nothing lasting comes of it, nothing's achieved, you get me? A ritualised little punchup, even one that turns ugly and fills the night with yells, blood and broken glass, well... That's about as far from the honour and glory of real conquest as a one night stand with a cheap slut is from true love.

Now I can't help you find true love, that's your own affair and I hope you and the sheep are very happy. What I can do though, is I can point you towards a war that needs winning, if you've got the stones for it.

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