Nostramo was ripe for the rule of the Night Haunter. Through the use of sheer brutality, Curze was eventually recognized as the planet's benevolent dictator. It is during this period that Konrad Curze earned the name " Night Haunter " for the vicious murders of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Nostraman criminals and corrupt aristocrats. Curze later re-adopted the title after he turned to Chaos during the Horus Heresy. Night Haunter became the first monarch of Nostramo Quintus, absorbing accumulated knowledge with a diligence almost akin to greed. He ruled with temperance and reason unheard of until word came to him that some injustice had been done, whereupon he alone would hunt the offender through the hive cities' empty streets until exhaustion forced his quarry to collapse.
He would then proceed to mutilate his prey, although not beyond recognition. This unpredictable pattern of benevolent wisdom and hideous vengeance ushered the shocked Nostraman populace into new realms of efficiency and honesty. Exports of adamantium to their neighbouring worlds soon tripled.
Nostraman society came to exist in a terrible balance maintained by shared wealth and shared fear. None dared to have more than his neighbour and under the shadow of Night Haunter's rule, the city grew well-lit and prosperous. And as Nostramo Quintus led the way, the rest of the planet's population followed, anxious to keep the Night Haunter from their own doors. He almost single-handedly rid Nostramo of its culture of crime and predation, using terror as a weapon to crush the planet's ruling criminal syndicates and their corrupt overseers.
He then re-established the rule of law under his own draconian leadership, and was revered by the Nostraman people as a benevolent and just dictator. Curze's hunter instincts, instinctive use of stealth, dependence upon the element of surprise, and extensive reliance upon a form of psychological warfare that devastated his opponents by using their own fear against them were also traits of the VIII Space Marine Legion that had been created from his genome. Even before the Horus Heresy, the Night Lords decorated their Power Armour with symbols of death, realizing that fear was a weapon as effective as any Bolter or Chainsword.
Almost a standard century after the Great Crusade began, the Emperor came to Nostramo. The coming of the Emperor of Mankind was an event that had been prophesied in Nostramo's history: an event that would lead to the planet's downfall. His arrival brought the light of the sun to the night-shrouded world for the first time.
The Emperor landed on Nostramo, and led an Imperial delegation to the centre of Nostramo Quintus on foot. The citizens of Nostramo, adapted to the near-constant darkness, could not bear to look upon the radiance of the Emperor. Most wept as the healing light He projected reflected off the rain slicked streets into their faces. Those brave enough to look upon Him directly were blinded. At the end of the broad road leading to the Night Haunter's royal palace, the Primarch stood, waiting for the delegation to approach.
As they did, he succumbed to a psychic vision of the future so potent and horrifying that he tried to claw his own eyes out, but was stopped by the Emperor. Night Haunter then looked at the Emperor, and the Master of Mankind said to his newfound son:. My people gave me a name, and I will bear it until my dying day. And I know full well what you intend for me. Curze submitted to the Emperor's will as if he had already seen it, as if he was playing out a part he had long feared would fall to him. Night Haunter quickly adapted to the teachings of the Imperium, studying the complex doctrines of the Adeptus Astartes under the Primarch Fulgrim 's tutelage.
Although he and his Legion excelled in many theatres of war, a tendency soon became apparent. It never occurred to the Night Lords to use anything other than total, brutal and decisive force to achieve their goals. Over the first few years, the Night Lords were molded by their Primarch into an efficient, humourless force, possessing the fanatical thoroughness of Witch Hunters. Night Haunter encouraged his Legion to decorate their Power Armour with images designed to inspire fear in the enemy, a tactic that proved incredibly effective. Soon, rumours of the impending presence of the Night Lords would cause a rebel star system to pay all outstanding Imperial tithes, cease all illegal activities and put to death any mutants and suspected Traitors.
The reuniting of Primarch and Legion was the beginning of a spiral that would see the Night Lords descend further into horror and nihilism. After Curze's departure Nostramo shook off his enforced peace, returning to lawlessness. From this point Nostramo fed the VIII th Legion not with the finest of its youth, but with gutter scum soaked in blood and cruelty.
Some claim that this began to poison the Legion, twisting its purpose and making many Night Lords simple murderers gifted with the strength of demi-gods. This thesis, though, willfully ignores a number of factors, no least of which was Curze's leadership of his Legion. That he came to despise his own sons is likely, but he was still their lord. Far from restraining the VIII th Legion he drove it on, bringing peace through atrocity to planet after planet.
Sometimes there seems to have been cause for such methods, but often the only explanations for the decimation of populations, for the skinning pits and crucified cities, seems to be that the Night Lords enjoyed it. They had become not necessary monsters, but simply monsters. Curze quickly began to lose some of the control he held over his Legion's innate savagery, and the visions of a dark future that plagued him increased in both their lucidity and quantity.
During the time of the Great Crusade , the Night Lords were used by the Emperor as a tool of terror to pacify planets that had been recently conquered by the other Space Marine Legions. Their fearsome reputation caused any rogue Planetary Governor or uprising of rebels against Imperial Compliance to quickly pay any outstanding tithes or quell their uprisings, as the Night Lords had been known to issue an Exterminatus order on several worlds for the most petty of crimes against the Imperium.
That the Emperor had concerns about the actions of the VIII Legion, and the apparent instability of their Primarch is clear, but what is not clear is what was done to restrain Curze or his sons. There were words, demands, perhaps even threats, but no action; no hand of judgement to throttle the Night Lord's crimes. Why this was so is a question that can never now be answered, and the Imperium was left only with the consequences. The chain of atrocities grew ever longer in the decades before Curze finally turned against the Emperor, like a path spiralling ever downwards into inevitable darkness.
Indeed, of all the Legions and their Primarchs, the Night Lords were the most sinister and the most suspect, having been censured for the enormities and massacres carried out in the Emperor's service. They were creatures of the dark, harnessed to the will of a father wracked by righteousness and foreboding; what else could have been their fate but to fall back into the night from whence they came? Nostramo tears itself apart following the orbital bombardment of the Night Lords' fleet. Nostramo's death came at the end of a long chain of events which saw the Night Lords relinquishing the last of their honour.
The lack of moderation in the Night Lords' methods had attracted scorn and hostility from other Legions. Even as the tally of disgust grew, Curze became increasingly plagued by visions and portents of ruin, calamity and betrayal. He saw everything he had striven for to be broken, the order and justice of the galaxy shattered and his sons become monsters without cause or higher purpose. Curze became ever more withdrawn, what little shone in his being guttering to nothing, and leaving him with nothing but darkness and the screams of a lost future.
Learning that his homeworld had slipped back into corruption, Night Haunter tried to confide in his brother Primarchs, but he had never been close to them, and their reaction was less than favourable to his claims. The scars left by his former life on Nostramo ran deep. Despite the fact that he spent much time with his less-dour peers, the Night Lords Primarch kept himself at a distance, never able to join in their camaraderie or share their joy.
He still fell into convulsions, plagued by prophetic visions of his own death, of his Night Lords fighting war after war with the other Legions. But despite the concern of his companions, he would not reveal any more than dark hints of the cause of his tormented spirit. This feeling of isolation gradually grew into true paranoia, and the gulf between Night Haunter and the brotherhood of the other Primarchs only widened. After confiding in his mentor Fulgrim of the terrible things he had foreseen, the shocked Primarch of the Emperor's Children repeated these grim tidings to his brother Rogal Dorn.
Dorn took exception to the Night Haunter's slight of the Emperor's good name with such terrible deeds and confronted him. The exact events of what occurred between the two Primarchs is not recorded in detail, but Dorn was found severely wounded and the Night Haunter's personal cadre of bodyguards slaughtered to a man. Curze then returned to Nostramo with his Legion and fulfilled one of his visions. Curze's judgement was simple and swift; the Night Lords destroyed Nostramo. A few Imperial pursuit craft arrived just in time to see the Night Lords' starships open their laser batteries into the hole in the planet's surface that had been left by Night Haunter's arrival through the Warp decades earlier.
Nostramo's core destabilised and the world tore itself apart. As a Primarch and a Lord of Crusades, it was his right to liberate or destroy the world as he saw fit, but in the moment that Nostramo died, the Night Lords lost their last tether to restraint, though it would take the treachery of others to bring this change to light. This ruthless behaviour did not sit well with some of the other Primarchs and Astartes Legions. Finally, Curze and the Night Lords Legion were recalled to Terra to explain their behaviour, where they were then reprimanded by the Emperor and the Council of Terra.
The last straw for the Emperor was when the Night Lords had unleashed an Exterminatus upon their own homeworld. Curze explained his actions to the Emperor by pointing out that Nostramo, in the Legion's absence, had slid back into its old ways of cruel violence and crime. He and the Night Lords were embittered by what they saw as the Emperor's and the Council of Terra's hypocrisy when they were censured for their brutality even as the Emperor had unleashed a Great Crusade that used military power to forcibly reunite the scattered worlds of humanity. The Night Lords thought that the Emperor would acknowledge that their actions had been in the right.
They also felt that these actions were the direct consequence of the mission that the Imperium had always tasked them with, which was essentially that of "sanctioned" terrorism against all who opposed the expansion of the Imperium and its mission to reunite all the worlds of Mankind across the galaxy. To Curze, it seemed that the Emperor had castigated him for carrying out the same actions that had once been deemed so vital to the Imperium's formation.
Curze believed the Emperor to be a hypocrite who was unwilling to face the reality of the means that His dream of human reunification actually required to be brought into being. Angered by the Emperor's rejection of their methods of protecting and extending His realm, the Night Lords and their Primarch willingly joined the Warmaster Horus in his rebellion against the Emperor of Mankind. When the Warmaster revealed his treachery during the Istvaan III Atrocity and plunged the galaxy into the fires of civil war, Konrad Curze would eventually throw himself into a bitter campaign of death and destruction, giving full vent to his most violent urges.
When Imperial forces were assembled to strike against Horus and the four turncoat Legions, there were many who were surprised to learn that the Night Lords had answered the call. For years the VIII th Legion had existed on the border between sanction and censure, fighting its own wars of terror like shadows within the forces of the Great Crusade. Such was the desperate spirit of those times that few questioned Curze's aid, and those who did perhaps remembered the Night Lords' need to punish those who strayed from the light.
As the treachery of the Drop Site Massacre would show, however, the Night Lords had not forsaken contact with all elements of the Great Crusade, and their need for retribution had led them to become the Traitors and criminals they had once loathed. Once unfettered by Horus' need to drive on Terra and their tenuous allegiance with the powers of Chaos , the Night Lords went on to conduct a campaign of terror that continued to echo down the millennia to this day, wreaking bloody murder across the galaxy.
Immediately after the death of Horus, the Night Lords went on a killing spree in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy that caused havoc for long years after the Horus Heresy had ended. The Night Haunter did not fall during the Horus Heresy, and neither did he receive the dark blessing of the Ruinous Powers in the form of apotheosis to daemonhood. It is known that throughout his life Curze had possessed the gift many would say curse of foresight; he was constantly struck with powerful visions of the worst of all possible futures, and that his last had been a foretelling that he would die at the hand of one such as M'Shen.
This prophetic psychic ability was passed on to other Night Lords who share their gene-sire's genetic heritage. This was a unique trait, as it is said to be unrelated to Warp taints or other known psychic properties. It is believed that Curze let his assassination happen, in order to show his father, the Emperor of Mankind , that he stood by his beliefs as surely as the Emperor stood by His.
While acknowledging his own crimes against humanity, Curze also stated that his martyrdom would ultimately vindicate him and his methods. Curze ordered his Legion not to pursue his assassin, a last wish that was eventually disobeyed. His death did not slow the Night Lords down, as they continued to apply themselves to his mantra and are specialists in the application of terror and the tactics of fear to this day.
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Though they paid lip service to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and certainly felt its insidious pull, in the end the Night Lords, like their Primarch, served only their own twisted conception of justice. After the Horus Heresy , the Night Lords did not flee into the Eye of Terror like the other Traitor Legions , instead they retained their Pre-Heresy numbers and sought to conquer their own terrible dominion from the worlds of the Imperium's Eastern Fringe.
However, after the assassination of Konrad Curze, the Legion splintered into multiple feuding warbands, as is the nature of those who serve Chaos, and eventually relocated to the Eye of Terror. By the late 41 st Millennium, the Legion has deteriorated in both its numbers and its capabilities. There was also continued infighting within the Legion as there was no clear leadership, with several ranking Night Lords contending for the right to lead the entire Legion.
Currently, the Night Lords hire themselves out as mercenaries and elite shock troops for the other Forces of Chaos or even for pirates who raid Imperial worlds, such as Huron Blackheart. They have been known to assist Chaos Warmaster Abaddon the Despoiler in his Black Crusade campaigns when asked to do so, as the quest for their own vengeance against the Imperium continues.
Their most infamous post-Heresy raid in the Imperium was on the world of Scound's Fall, just a few hundred light years from holy Terra. Across the aeons, the Night Lords have done more to traumatise the psyche of the Imperium than any other Traitor Legion. As the Time of Ending intensifies, the terror raids and cruel hunts of the Night Lords increase in frequency. Long scattered, they are uniting, warband by warband, in the name of some dire cause. It can spell only doom for the worlds of Mankind. The inheritance of Nostramo coiled throughout the structure of the Night Lords.
Outwardly they followed a pattern close to many other Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade era, but behind this basic skeleton lay the courts of Nostramo, the gang traditions and the aesthetics of terror that infused every aspect of the VIII th Legion. At the squad level, the Night Lords fielded a broad range of units, though taken as a whole the number of configured Breacher Siege Squads were proportionally rarer than in other Legions. The Night Lords also had a number of unique units: the infamous Terror Squads , whose sole purpose was to create and embody a state of horror in their enemies, and the Night Raptor Squads , who would soar above their enemies trailing the bloody remains of their kills while shrieking from modified Vox casters.
Almost all squads within the VIII th Legion had a name that they used in place of the simple designation. So it was that squads within a company might be referred to as "Claws", "Talons" or a number of other epithets often coupled with an indication of hierarchy or honorific: the Stygian Talon, the 10 th Claw, the 5 th Oathed, to name but a few amongst thousands. The company was the basic strategic deployment unit within the Night Lords Legion and each squad belonged to a company which might number anywhere between and 1, warriors.
Most companies had a title in addition to their numeric designation. Unlike many others, the Night Lords used battalions and Chapters as semi-permanent groupings of companies, rather than a universal structure favouring their own divisions. This seemingly byzantine complexity masked a surprisingly efficient and flexible approach to warfare which allowed the VIII th Legion to operate with a high degree of fluidity and to be readily fractured into autonomous units or combined into ad hoc formations as their master dictated.
A notable example of one of these unique formations is the "Crimson Sons". This formation was formed from the remnants of the VIII th Legion's 9 th Company midway through the Terran Unification Wars, as their formation had suffered near total destruction during the pacification of the wasteland domain of Oxitania. The later status and whereabouts of the Crimson Sons is unknown, and it is possible they were slain during the many battles of the Horus Heresy which followed the Drop Site Massacre. Konrad Curze was the Dark King of his Legion, a figure of fear for his sons as much as on object of loyalty.
That many were genuinely loyal to him cannot be doubted, but as many seem to have been bound to him by fear rather than adoration, and some hated their gene-sire. Curze appeared not to have cared so long as when he commanded, all obeyed. Around him the Dark King maintained a court of his most useful sons. The members of this group, the Kyroptera , were drawn from senior officers across the VIII th Legion and transcended rank. All had a quality that Curze found valuable, though in some cases that quality seems to have been little more than distilled bitterness and cruelty.
Membership in the Kryoptera gave no absolute rank, but the fact remained that they were the ruling elite of the Night Lords, and so few others would openly disobey a command from one of them. Alongside these served the Atramaentar. A company-strength formation equipped with Terminator Armour and armed with the finest weapons, they were the personal command of the First Captain of the Night Lords and enforcers of order. Renowned for their cold brutality in battle and their unswerving loyalty to their commander and their Primarch, they seem to have acted as a check on the many fractious elements within the VIII th Legion, and though this cannot now be confirmed, it is widely thought that they served as Curze's executioners when the need arose.
Beneath the Kyroptera were the many Captains of the companies. The few of these that had been graced with leading several companies under the banner of a battalion or Chapter went by a variety of inconsistent ranks including Commander, Master and Regent, amongst others.
While these exalted leaders had clear command over the units placed under them, their authority in the VIII th Legion as a whole seems to have been more malleable. A Regent might have a handful of Captains under his command, but be subject to the commands of a different Captain if that Captain were of the Kryoptera, or exalted in some other way.
Just as squads and companies bore names to set them apart from each other, so too did the commanders of the Legion adorn their names with secondary monikers and titles. Many of these titles had echoes in the cursed nobility and gangs of Nostramo: "Talonmaster", the" Bloodless" or the "Sightless Revenant". A few were no doubt calculated insults that either stuck or were adopted by their bearers out of perversity. At the time of the Drop Site Massacre in M31, the Night Lords had been teetering on the edge of Renegade status for several years.
Apparently fighting their own wars with little or no regard or contact with the rest of the Great Crusade's chain of command, it had been some time since an accurate survey of their strength had been made. Estimates of the strength of the Legion therefore vary wildly. Some put their numbers at a little over 90, Astartes, others at , The Legion was known to have been recruiting from subjugated worlds throughout the latter part of the Great Crusade, in some cases stealing away the youth of entire star systems as the base from which to winnow suitable Aspirants.
The use of rapid psycho-conditioning and accelerated gene-seed implantation was also known to be widely practiced by the Night Lords, further supporting suggestions that their numbers were at least on par with many of the more numerous Space Marine Legions. It is also likely that a number of Night Lords elements were not at the Istvaan System, but were engaged in other self-selected actions in the unconquered corners of the galaxy at that time. A Night Lords Spartan Assault Tank ; the Night Lords' larger war engines often made extended use of terrifying symbols of death and woe, drawn from the bloody culture of Nostramo.
The Night Lords had access to the full range of war machines utilised by the Emperor's armies during the Great Crusade, and even though the VIII th Legion favoured terror tactics and infiltration over set piece battles, it still made use of such mighty vehicles. Because each of the Legion's companies tended to operate independently, most of the Night Lords' vehicles were held at the company level, squadrons operating in direct support of the company's squads. A small number of companies within the Legion choose to operate exclusively as armoured formations, often acting on the direct orders of the Primarch or the VIII th Legion's command cadre when several companies were fielded together as a battalion or Chapter and more substantial armoured support was required.
The Caradara Armour Claw is one such company-sized armoured unit whose reputation had spread beyond its Legion before their treachery. The formation's masters had perfected a form of armoured combat which mirrored that utilised by the VIII th Legion as a whole. Striking when possible from the darkness of dusk or dawn, the Caradara assaulted the enemy where they were weakest, rampaging through rear zones in order to sever lines of communication, and resupply and isolate individual concentrations of enemy troops. Having done so, the Caradara destroyed its targets at its leisure according to the proclivities of individual squadron or vehicle commanders.
The Caradara were often noted to favour using prow-mounted dozer blades to bury enemy troops in their own trenches, while other gained unholy satisfaction from overrunning helpless defenders and grinding their bodies beneath the tracks of their armoured vehicles. Needless to say, few defences stood long against such brutal assaults.
The Night Lords utilised a wide range of assets throughout the Great Crusade, finding that even the most standardised of weapons and armour could be adapted and utilised in their favoured manner of warfare. Armoured troop transports of all classes were used by the VIII th Legion to smash deep into the heart of the enemy's positions, with flanks clad in grotesque trophies to sow horror and dread in all who looked upon them.
Aircraft were used to deliver death from the night sky, descending without warning to strike the enemy where he least expected it and ensuring that no foe could afford even a moment's rest or respite. They also made more use of automated systems such as the Tarantula than many other Legions, preferring to assign mundane duties as static defence to such robotic weapons, as well as employing them as part of their offensive strategies cunningly concealed and programmed to funnel enemy refugees into killing grounds pre-registered by the Legion's artillery masters.
A Night Lords Chaos Dreadnought. The Night Lords Chaos Space Marines have several unique genetic traits inherited from the gene-seed of the Night Haunter: they all possess very pale, white skin and haunting black-within-black eyes like their Primarch. They can see in absolute darkness, with a clarity that is above and beyond even the ability of normal Space Marine occular implants.
They also possess an innate "preysight"; the ability to see in the infrared spectrum to detect heat signatures. Finally, a Night Lords Astartes can emit abnormally loud shrieks and cries that cause immediate deafness and disorientation in those who hear them. The Night Lords rarely use daemons in their armies largely due to their lack of faith in Chaos , with the exception of Furies , daemons of Chaos Undivided who share the Night Lords' fondness for brutal murder and psychological warfare.
The Night Lords do not worship any individual power of Chaos as a Legion, instead venerating the concept of Chaos Undivided when they choose to pay any attention to Chaos at all. Indeed, the Night Lords maintain a certain contempt for all of the Ruinous Powers , as well as for what they perceive as weakness of any sort, a mistrust they inherited from the Night Haunter, who was no more fond of the major Chaos Gods than he was of his father the Emperor. The Night Lords also mistrust psykers of all kinds, including Astropaths , although they may utilise them, as well as Navigators , when the situation demands it.
However, as of the late 41 st Millennium, some Night Lords may be tainted by the touch of Chaos and have developed mutations, a fact that those so affected try to hide from their brethren, as the Night Lords are traditionally as disgusted by mutation as their Loyalist counterparts, seeing it as a form of physical and spiritual weakness.
Night Lords veterans of the Atramentar attack a doomed Imperial outpost. The Night Lords Legion is organised into companies, each of which is led by a Captain , with each company composed of squads of ten Astartes called "Claws" led by a Sergeant. There is also an elite Terminator unit known throughout the Legion as the "Atramentar", and at least one Dreadnought. When ready for combat, the Night Lords refer to themselves as "in midnight clad", reflecting both their heritage and their penchant for operations conducted under the cover of darkness.
A Raptor of the Night Lords Legion attacks. The Night Lords adopted the modus operandi of their Primarch without exception, and thrive in sowing fear and confusion among their enemies. It is common practice for Night Lords Chaos Space Marines to ensure that the communications of a target planet are shut down, broadcasting hideous messages and screams across the airwaves as they begin slaughtering the occupants at their leisure. It is very rare that the Night Lords voluntarily fight a force able to withstand them; they much prefer to attack the weak and frightened. Repeated instances have shown that the Night Lords will not give quarter, and are entirely bereft of mercy.
Any poor soul offering to surrender will have his pleas answered by mutilation and painful death. Night Haunter's Legion has no holy crusade, no belief that causes them to spread murder and misery to the worlds they visit. Similarly, they have no martial creed, as all concept of martial honour has been eroded by their transformation into warbands of vicious killers. The Night Lords are masters of stealth, able to infiltrate a position quickly and silently.
These arts appear to be innate to the Legion, and are used most often during the sick games the Night Lords use to drive their prey into paroxysms of terror. Once they have prepared themselves and found places to launch an assault that meets their standards, the Night Lords are capable of sudden, shockingly brutal ambushes or unconventional attacks intended to thin the enemy's ranks or simply sow chaos amongst the foe. One such tactic designed to enhance fear that has been observed to be used by the Night Lords is when they unleash a fifteen-second-long Vox -augmented scream that ruptures any unprotected eardrums in the vicinity.
Once their victims are hunched over in agony, stunned and deaf, the Night Lords unleash their wrath. Even before they turned to Chaos, the Night Lords adorned their armour with the imagery of death; this is because they know that fear can be used as a weapon just as effectively as a Chainsword or Bolter.
Given the Night Lords' predilection for assaulting weaker foes, a fully-armoured Night Lords Chaos Champion armed with a devastating array of weaponry is always more than a match for the foes he chooses to fight. Since the Heresy, Night Lords warbands have tended to attract a greater proportion of Raptors than those of any other Traitor Legion. The swooping attacks once favoured by Konrad Curze are echoed by the diving, tearing assaults of the Night Lords Raptors, predators that strike from the sky amidst an ear-splitting chorus of shrieks that can force even the most stoic of veterans to cower at the critical moment.
Space Marine Legions often changed after the rediscovery of their Primarch and their surrogate homeworld. In the case of the VIII th Legion, Nostramo and Curze doomed them, but at first they seemed the least changed of all of the Legions upon the return of their gene-sire. There were changes of course, but many of these were relatively small.
Nostraman became the language of the VIII th Legion, its curling runes and sibilant words spreading as Nostraman recruits began to include a dark and cruel sense of humour, and a snide fatalism. New traditions, twisted reflections of Nostraman gang-rites and customs, were adopted within the Legion, such as marking condemned Legionaries' gauntlets red to show that a death sentence hung over them.
The honorific titles sported by many of the VIII Legion's officers started to take on the form of those of the Nostraman noble courts. These changes, though noticeable, did not touch the heart of the VIII th Legion's nature, for if anything, Curze's return saw the Legion's righteous drive to punish intensify. Their ways and methods of war changed not at all, and the integration of Terran and Nostraman warriors was amongst the swiftest of any Legion. The old Legion and the new fitted together like two sides of a coin; both raised from darkness to create order and strife, both made of flesh born in shunned and lightless places.
Callous and brutal though they were, the Night Lords were not without pride, and the trappings and titles of aristocracy and dominion formed a key part of their identity, and rivalry, often violent, was endemic among the Astartes of the VIII th Legion. The gang traditions of their lightless homeworld were carried over to every aspect of their Legion. There were few amongst their ranks who did not bear some form of title, and the craftsmanship with which they embellished their weapons and armour was remarkable, if grotesque.
Furthermore, far more so than even the most barbarous members of the World Eaters or White Scars Legions , they habitually adorned their armour and vehicles with the brutalised and mutilated remains of those who had resisted them, and made an art of flaying and presenting the dead in order to sow fear in their foes. There was method in this madness, at least at first; such grisly displays were a clear signal saying, "This fate will be yours to share.
Night Lords assaulting an Imperial world. There are many dread creatures that dwell in the swirling eddies of the Eye of Terror. Terrible daemons and horrific monsters vie with cruel pirates and vile xenos to spread death and destruction throughout the realm and nearby Imperial holdings. Since before the Horus Heresy, this Legion has perfected the craft of sowing terror, discord, and confusion among its victims and its corrupted Astartes have become even more sadistic and depraved as the long Terran centuries have passed. The Night Lords are sadistic killers who delight in terrorising their foes before slaughtering them without mercy or restraint.
They are cruel, ruthless, and opportunistic, frequently striking at vulnerable targets and toying with their unfortunate victims. When the Night Lords kill, they kill violently and slowly, savouring the pain and horror on their victim's faces as the last moments of life leave them.
Such acts are not undertaken in honour of the Chaos Gods ; rather, a Night Lord kills simply because he can. I was not happy living in America, but was happy in the thought, which was growing stronger every day, that when I would finally go back to Japan, I would begin writing novels myself. Eventually the day came when I did go back to Japan and, several years later, I published my first novel. Thanks to my obstinate persistence in honing my Japanese, my language skills were so excellent that the readers, on learning of my background, were graciously surprised.
In the beginning, it came to me discreetly and vaguely, like a phantom in a dark dream. Sometimes, it came to me bit by bit, in small fragments. It is one of those ironies of life that it was just as I was beginning to seriously think about my first novel that the knowledge made itself known to me with full force. I realized then that, moving to the States as a twelve-year old girl, I was given that rare opportunity, the kind of opportunity only given to one in a million in Japan, of switching my first language from Japanese to English.
Yet I remained totally blind to its significance until the opportunity was irrevocably lost. As everyone knows, a novelist, like a dancer, must acquire a physical nimbleness with language relatively early in life. It turns out that I, who have happily persisted in Japanese, have unknowingly persisted in a local, singular language and I have thus lost the opportunity to become a writer in English, the one and only universal language of today. The people for whom English is the mother language are often not fully aware of the true extent of their good fortune.
They sometimes even humbly assume that all languages are equally important—which seems to me to be only an arrogant assumption of the privileged. Just think of the advantage that novelists who write in English have. There have been other international languages in the history of humanity—Latin, Chinese, Arabic, French, even Russian.
But no other language has ever permeated the entire world as English has. No other language has ever become so completely and absolutely dominant. Already in the past decade, those who communicate in English as a foreign language have outnumbered those for whom English is the mother language. Moreover, language has its own laws of propagation, and the predominance of English can only continue for the centuries to come.
You have now heard the sad story of my life. However, I am a novelist who does not like unhappy endings. I want my novels to end ambiguously, with a glimmer of hope. Accordingly, I do not like to give the story of my life an unhappy ending. Indeed, not all is lost. This knowledge is at the core of why I write. On the one hand, I have rather a megalomaniacal agenda. I write to prevent the world from succumbing to the tyranny of English. For, imagine a world in which the cream of all societies expresses itself exclusively in English. Not only would humanity be less rich, it would also be less subtle, less articulate, and less capable of checking the tyranny of one Logos.
On the other hand, I have a less megalomaniacal and more practical agenda. I write to see what I can do with the Japanese language. When I write, because I always know that I am writing in Japanese, I am freed from using the language as a means of self-expression—as something that comes out of my innermost soul, as something that belongs to me. I can think of the language only as belonging to no one—as being, on the contrary, something that allows us to belong to it. Great writers all know this in one way or another and they all try to do what they can do with the language, but I could not have known it without the long detour that I made.
Some conclude that we are witnessing the death of Islamic democracy as an idea and believe that Islamic and Western civilizations are set on divergent, irreconcilable paths. But I have a difficult time giving in to hopelessness. The experiment of Islamic democracy has a much longer and richer history than the news headlines, and it is a history that offers promise. I say this as an American born to Pakistani parents who has spent nearly half of his life living in Pakistan, the birthplace of Islamic democracy. Pakistan was the first country to declare itself an Islamic republic, in , years after it was cleaved from the British Empire.
I grew up hearing stories—some jubilant, some despondent, some conflicted—from the multiple generations of my own family who have been part of this experiment. I had a front-row seat to vibrant political campaigning, and to the extreme violence that accompanied it. As dozens of candidates took to the campaign trail, more than a hundred people were killed in the month leading up to the elections, many at the hands of armed groups such as the Taliban. I woke up early on election day to drive my parents to the local polling station so they could cast their ballots first thing in the morning.
This was a historic election for the country. This was the first time since the creation of Pakistan in that an elected government had completed its full term and was ready to hand over power to the next one on time. As we drove toward the high school that served as the polling station, my parents shared their memories of Pakistan as a fledging democratic republic. My mother told me about the first time she voted, in She was only fourteen years old, far below the legal voting age, when the new military ruler, Ayub Khan, held a referendum after he came to power in a coup.
The election, the first one held under military rule, was a farce. My father, and millions like him, were filled with hope by the charismatic populist leader. My grandfather was a British colonial subject who supported the All-India Muslims League, a political group formed in , which demanded a separate country for the Muslims in South Asia. When they won independence from the British in , they called their new country Pakistan. That was more than sixty year ago. But along the way, the country has also achieved some rare feats.
Popular protest movements have repeatedly toppled military dictators. The state recognized transsexuals as a third gender in There have been Olympic golds and World Cup trophies and yes, also nuclear power. But one basic achievement eluded Pakistan for sixty-six years: the timely transfer of democratic power. As my parents disappeared into the polling booths, I waited outside and very soon news of bombings, shootings, and chaos at other polling stations started trickling in.
The handful of strikes by shadowy militants, early in the morning, appeared to be an attempt to rob Pakistanis of a political milestone. Outside the country, most people were riveted by the violence that marred the election. Politicians were murdered, and voters were intimidated.
After the polls closed on election day, my parents and I watched the results roll in on live TV. When the numbers were added up, the candidate my parents had voted for lost badly. Instead, it was his main rival who became the new prime minister. Democracy, Islamic or otherwise, is always full of disappointment for some. But in the quiet gloom of the dinner table, my father saw a silver lining.
He teaches journalism at the University of Richmond and splits his time between the United States and Pakistan. This article originally appeared in the September edition of the Other Press e-newsletter. Between Past and Future by Hannah Arendt. I first read this book as a mandatory reading for school. I now look forward to reading it for myself, as it is a very contemporary book that underlines the cultural challenges that our society is facing.
Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin. Written in jail, this semi-autobiographical novel is a Patty Smith favorite, and she brought it back into the spotlight. I cannot wait to read it in French. Washington Square by Henry James. An American classic I never had the chance to read. Definitely on my reading list for this summer! And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. Elizabeth Cohen, author of The Hypothetical Girl. My best friend sent it to me, which is a good example of why she is my best friend.
Like the one about a woman who chains her child to a tree in her backyard.
I am also reading a novel. It is long and literary and exciting and dreamy all at once and it will keep me engaged all summer.
The Residue Years by Mitchell Jackson. Completely engrossing! White Teeth by Zadie Smith again. Because no one does it better than Zadie. Herwig exposes how many German politicians, writers, and other known personalities of German society i. They all tried to hide their involvement until Herwig confronted them all with documents proving their participation in the war effort. It is a book that, by focusing on one life in a tightly circumscribed setting — the island of Guernsey — opens out and becomes a testament of universal suffering and joy.
Shahan Mufti, author of The Faithful Scribe. It is about a Japanese woman who leaves her home in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb and begins a life in the newly formed country of Pakistan, many thousands of miles away, only to find more war. The story of a search for home away from war is timeless. Meals start like club dinners in Dickens and finish as mad feasts from the Book of Revelations.
Both The Byzantine Achievement and The Station are worth reading, for all their occasional lurches off the rails. I always feel like I am about a year behind on my non-work-related reading. Wish me luck! Sam Toperoff, author of Lillian and Dash. Coetzee, Pat Barker—you know, all the biggies. That one is to give my soul a cleansing.
I always think that the summers of my middle age will be like the summers of my childhood: hot and endless and filled with more time than books can fill. So I make plans and lists as if there was no such thing as a job to go to and a book to write. But here it is anyway. A friend recommended it since The Center of the World concerns an English painting that winds up in America. I will be appearing with Ms.
Power at an event at the Boston Public Library on July Her novel sounds really interesting so I am looking forward to reading it and talking with her. And every summer I like to reread a book that means a lot to me. Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. When did you first get the idea for The Center of the World? It was during my first or second year of graduate school, a long time ago. I was taking a course in nineteenth-century nonfiction. My first thought, I remember, was what a shame, but my second was, what if these sketches were a sign of something else?
What if Ruskin burnt them not because they were merely erotic, but because they had some kind of power in them that was more than mere eroticism? What if they were the preliminary sketches for a work like no other? That notion, in various permutations, knocked around in the back of my mind for around twenty-five years.
I was the last one left in the office; I had just gotten off the phone with a very demanding client and knew that I had done a pretty good job of handling a complicated situation. In some universe I should have been very pleased with myself, but I just felt empty and depressed. Is this what I really want out of life? I had stopped writing after I had failed to find a publisher for my first novel, a pretty good genre novel, but I knew that I needed to go back to it.
I would just do what I needed to do, engage with the ideas I really cared about. I would go back to the idea that had been kicking around in my head and in my journals since graduate school. I made this deal with myself. I would get up an hour and half early every morning and write before I went to work. No adolescent agonizing, just produce some prose every day. All I had to do, I figured, was write two hundred words a day, or a thousand words a week. Piece of cake. It was, of course, more complicated than that and the two years turned to three and to four between living and crossing stuff out, but I stuck with it because I fell in love with what I was doing.
How would you describe the idea that is at the heart of The Center of the World? Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are. That work would be uninterpretable; it would just be what it was. How would people respond to such a thing? How could such a thing have been created?
These are the ideas that I am playing around with in the novel. That intersection, treated as a real possibility, is what the book is about. How could such an impossible object be created in the past? What would it be like to be in the presence of such an object in the present? Those are the questions I am trying to deal with. Yes, but not a ton. In a joint interview E. Doctorow and Joe Papaleo both of whom were my teachers at Sarah Lawrence talk about how in fiction writing, too close an adherence to historical fact can be crippling.
Conversations With E. I went to Petworth House a few times during the course of the writing—just wandering around like a tourist—and tried to imagine how this real place could be instrumental in the creation of the impossible object that is at the heart of my book. The descriptions of the rooms and the paintings at Petworth are pretty accurate. The National Trust guide to Petworth House was an import resource.
The Turner painting at the center of your novel seems to be a sexually explicit representation of Helen of Troy. How did you get to that? That work would have to have an erotic element to it, it would have to be a historical painting this is Turner after all , and it would have to be about something really important. That got me to Helen pretty quickly. Early in the novel Turner is talking to his patron, Lord Egremont, about the difference between the ancients and the moderns, and who knew more about the truth.
Can you talk about that? The Courbet painting was in the back of my head as I was writing. Of all my early readers, Judith Gurewich was, in fact, the first one to recognize the link; that was one of the things that made me feel I had landed in the right place at Other Press. The first level of connection is that The Origin of the World , like the Turner painting in my novel, is a great work of art that was never seen because it is or was so scandalous.
This popularity has, in some sense, ruined the painting. It is even a stretch for the fictional Turner in my book—he was never able to come close before or after the time described in the novel. Talk to me about Henry.
Although Henry is not me, we are both about the same age, we both live in central New Jersey, and we both have an important connection to the Adirondacks. What would happen to you if this Turner painting, this impossible object, this work like no other, came into your life? How could you live? What would you do?
The encounter with the painting is troubling enough, but his situation is complicated by the fact that he knows that the painting is worth an extraordinary amount of money—so much so that all the problems that money can solve would be solved if he sold it. But he also knows that the painting would be ruined—just as the Courbet painting has been, in a sense—if it were to become a public object. So what to do? His narrative is about a person trying to figure out what is both possible and right in that situation. Henry finds the painting in a barn in the Adirondacks.
Not really. In the early years of the twentieth century a number of wealthy New Yorkers built elaborate summer places—the so-called Adirondack great camps—in the area, and some of these folks had pretty impressive art collections. When my late father-in-law first bought the property, he told me how it had once been part of the incredible place next door.
Although you play around with a number of serious ideas in the novel, The Center of the World has a strong suspense element as well. We learn pretty early on that Bryce, the art dealer, and his assistant are hot on the trail of the painting, and this pursuit propels the narrative along. Why was that aspect of things important? I am a kind of narrative junkie. I wanted to reveal something of the history of the Turner painting between the time of its creation and the time of its discovery.
A narrative in which Bryce learns more and more about the painting and gets closer and closer to Henry in the process seemed like a good way to do that. And Mike Leigh is said to be working on a film about Turner that will come out in The zeitgeist is a funny thing. I started writing my novel in March of , pretty much locked up, I thought, in the cave of my own imagination. I was about halfway through the second draft of my book in — when the big Turner retrospective that Warrell curated opened in Washington and New York. But when my book is in galleys I hear about all these other books—how weird is that?
Ian Warrell is the preeminent Turner scholar of our time. But there is plenty of room for all of us. Interest in Turner will ebb and flow, but he is so rich and so deep that people who care about art and about what humans can be and can do, will always be coming back to him. My favorite character in your book is Mrs. Is she modeled on a real person? No, she is an invention, although I hope a plausible one. There are aspects of The Center of the World that still surprise me.
It seems so much better and smarter than I am. Spencer is like that. She grew out of the writing. I was trying to imagine someone who is perfectly beautiful, someone who would make a plausible model for Helen of Troy. She became very real to me and I sort of fell in love with her. Not quite a Pygmalion situation, but sort of.
I think that is why she became a good character. What would you like your readers to get out of The Center of the World? Pleasure, of course. Turner was a Romantic and his paintings, while wonderful as formal objects, are also full of feeling. My book is not one of those cool postmodern affairs.
It shares, in some small way, a Romantic with a capital R sensibility with Turner and other artists and poets of his time. I would like readers to leave with a feeling for what art and love can be and with some new ideas about how those two things might be related. Like many fiction writers I have an embarrassing folder buried deep in a basement trunk filled with poems from my overly romanticized college years.
Here I share one of the few without arcane classical allusions. The subject is the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, a charismatic draw for a nascent tortured writer, a hoped-for kindred soul. I wrote this paean to him when I was nineteen, the age that Rimbaud gave up writing completely after achieving fame and notoriety with epics such as Une Saison en Enfer.
He went to Africa and became an explorer, a trader, and gun-runner. That he ended up in Harar, Ethiopia, the coffee city often spelled Harrar, may have also carried an unconscious appeal to me. George Harrar is the author of two novels for adults, including the literary mystery The Spinning Man. Harrar lives west of Boston with his wife, Linda, a documentary filmmaker. This article was originally published in the April edition of the Other Press newsletter. Which is precisely why I love April, when everyone is talking about and sharing poetry.
I believe that poetry—reading it and writing it—makes us better, more thoughtful people. We should all do it more often, year-round. Alas: for me, poetry, like music, has become something that I seldom seek out. Now I rely on recommendations, or even my twenty-year-old self cringes at this the radio; most often, I find myself making playlists of songs I first fell in love with a decade ago.
My college years were filled with poetry: reading it, studying it, scribbling it in notebooks. I think it was less the fact that I was in college than that I was at an age when I was wrestling with language—its possibilities and limitations—as I never had before. I suspect that most current and former twenty-something poetry aficionados can relate. Every now and then I stumble upon something new, and tape a copy to the wall behind my desk. Part of the pleasure in culling together this collection of notes on poetry from authors and my colleagues is that I have an excuse to solicit new recommendations.
When I asked my colleagues to share their favorite poems, I made it clear that their recommendations need not be limited to poetry that Other Press has published. Their responses were terrifically diverse, the products of a great many admirable poets and presses. Mine, however—without any employee bias—happens to come from a volume we published during my first years at Other Press, back in Montale in English. This particular poem has been taped to my wall for nearly a decade now. For me, his poems are about the musicality of the human voice, of human life itself. In his work, the rhythm of me meets the rhythm of you, and the neighbor next door, and the guy down the street.
So Cuban, so alive, and so lovely. Here is one of his most famous:. Charles Baudelaire and Jules Laforgue are two of my favorite poets, and these two poems have stayed with me since childhood. I can recite them on demand! My favorite this week may be different from my favorite last week.
Hard to choose. The other day I read this poem and liked it:. I have seen Jane Hirshfield read more than once but never this poem. Here is another one by Tony Hoagland in which the deer never show up:. It holds a special place in my heart. When I first heard this poem I thought it was about romance and sex due to its seductive tone but when I opened my ears, and listened beyond the surface I realized this poem is about the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
I remember reading this poem in middle school 6th grade. I refuse to fail and strive to be the best I can be. This article originally appeared in the April edition of the Other Press newsletter. As a fiction writer who was very active for years as a freelance reviewer focusing primarily on innovative European and Latin American literature, I became acquainted with the poetry and short prose of Alejandra Pizarnik. Yet it conveys a constant sense of longing that is rendered quite tersely and often beautifully. Plath, of course, is widely known today, but Pizarnik still remains rather obscure, except to fellow Argentines, scholars and devoted readers of Latin American literature.
My hope is that this will change. Though there are two volumes of her work available in English, both are quite compressed and published by very small presses. The good news is that the first complete English translation of her A Musical Hell is soon to appear from New Directions. Logbridge-Rhodes, King Other Press.
His short fiction has been published widely in national magazines including the Hudson Review , Massachusetts Review , and North American Review , and he worked for nine years as senior editor at ARTnews. He now serves on the advisory board of Review Magazine , devoted to Latin American and Canadian literature and the arts. Is it possible for the silence and the roar to coexist?
The answer is most certainly, yes. In countries ruled by people obsessed with supremacy, authoritarians and those who are crazed by power, the ruler or the leader imposes silence upon all those who dare to think outside the prevailing norm. Or it might be the silence of a cell in a political prison or, without trying to unnecessarily frighten anyone, the silence of the grave. But this silence is also accompanied by an expansive roar, one that renders thought impossible.
Thought leads to individualization, which is the most powerful enemy of the dictator. People must not think about the leader and how he runs the country; they must simply adore him, want to die for him in their adoration of him. Therefore, the leader creates a roar all around him, forcing people to celebrate him, to roar. I had always wanted to explore certain dimensions of dictatorship: the orchestration of such roaring marches and how people are coerced into the streets to chant for the leader under the direction of bullhorns.
The leader seeking to cover himself with a roaring halo is not a nice thing to see. Naturally he would only ever do that as a means of covering up and suppressing any other sound. With this roar he also aims to cover up the violent crimes he unleashes against his rivals in the underground dungeons of the security apparatus, those places located far out of sight but that everyone knows about. I believe that love and peace are the right way to confront tyranny.
Thus I wrote this novel about the dictator whose opponents cannot find any other way to stand up to him but through love and laughter. It is with love that the hero of the story acquires the strength to stand up and confront silence; with laughter that he tears off the frightening halo with which the dictator has surrounded himself, and then subsequently dares to confront his minions. There is another kind of roar that this author never thought the leader would ever be capable of using: the roar of artillery, tanks and fighter jets that have already opened fire on Syrian cities.
The leader is leveling cities and using lethal force against his own people in order to hold on to power. We must ask, alongside the characters in this novel: What kind of Surrealism is this? As I present my novel to the English-speaking reader, my heart is agonizingly heavy about what is happening in Syria, my homeland.
Nihad Sirees is a civil engineer who was born in the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo in Branded an opponent of the government, publication of several of his works was forbidden by government censors. His subsequent novels were published abroad. He left Syria in January, , to avoid Syrian security services. Since that time he has lived in self-imposed exile in Cairo, Egypt. This article originally appeared in the March edition of the Other Press newsletter. Click here to subscribe and to view the archive.
In France, a proposal of marriage consists of nothing more than a man asking a woman a simple question. The man can pop the question whenever he likes, point-blank or after lengthy deliberation, by moonlight or with a towel around his waist as he steps out of the shower. Because this crucial instant, however weighty and emotionally freighted it may be, is governed in France by no special socially codified set of rules.
Such a laissez-faire approach to marriage proposals is unthinkable in the United States. Here men orchestrate this solemn moment as if they were supervising the production of a Hollywood blockbuster. The more complicated the logistics involved in staging this romantic tableau, the more stringent the security requirements. It is crucial to an American man, after all, that the girl of his dreams have a specific succession of expressions on her face: delighted surprise, followed by joyful acceptance. The French male cares about one thing only: is the answer oui or non?
But if the pressure is on for American men, the constraints on American women are even more spectacular. The coming-of-age obstacle course begins at a tender age, with such traditions as the sweet sixteen birthday party or prom night, where young women must not only be pretty, innocent, and pure, but also sufficiently cool and popular to be elected prom queen. Frenchwomen experience nothing comparable in France, where a more flexible set of customs allow girls to go through the miseries of puberty in blessed privacy, and then to choose their own time to appear in the spotlight.
But it is unquestionably the American wedding ceremony that literally takes the cake, in terms of getting everything just so. There is a series of highly stylized rituals to be navigated, such as choosing the bridesmaids, assigning them tasks, selecting their outfits. A much more flexible set of traditions in France allows them freedom to choose a gala wedding ceremony or a small, intimate service, a march down the aisle of a church or a stroll over to town hall, the participation of all their friends or a small private ceremony restricted to close family.
Some American women have so completely incorporated these rituals into their lives that they would never dream of trying to avoid their requirements or tampering with the details. The environment they live in is so competitive that they see no alternative to succeeding in everything they take on. They do more than just try to fit together family time and professional obligations, the way most women around the world do.
They lavish the same energy on every aspect of their lives, striving for some ideal, unattainable goal of perfection. A Frenchwoman who has observed this particular type of American women at close range, then, is hardly surprised to see how hard it is for them to free themselves of a certain sternness or rigidity. Those qualities are more hindrance than help in realms that actually demand—first and foremost—a lighthearted, carefree approach, such as fashion, food, and interior decorating.
Perhaps this is an area where Frenchwomen might have some useful advice to offer their American girlfriends. It is their good fortune to be able to restrict their ambitions to certain chosen domains: choosing fashion and turning their back on cooking, for instance, or opting for love over family life. And the fact that Frenchwomen can choose simply not to succeed in certain areas gives them the confidence needed to overcome performance anxiety in their chosen fields of endeavor, giving free rein to their wishes and desires.
This can be tremendously seductive, as we have seen in the realm of fashion, where Frenchwomen, in tune with an unpretentious style, dress according to their own personality, ignoring abstract ideals of perfection. This ability to have fun, to take pleasure, is a product of the absence of obligations, the feeling that nothing serious is at stake. And that sense of playfulness is the basic building block of French savoir-vivre.
Why cook a Thanksgiving turkey at all if we hate to cook? That pleasure tends to become contagious, and we can spread joy so much more successfully than if we allow ourselves to be plagued with anxiety and a wrongheaded sense of duty. But creeping globalization, making its way through social networks like Facebook and Twitter or television series like Sex in the City and Girls , is already transforming French society.
This has profoundly shifted the rules of the game for the French approach to seduction. In short order, we can expect Frenchwomen to be challenged by the same pressures that affect their American counterparts. Frenchwomen have no idea what is coming their way. They will need all the advice and encouragement that American women can offer them. She is also the author of Femme de Grasset, The Suitors is her third novel.
This article originally appeared in the February edition of the Other Press newsletter. Aside from a glowing review, there is probably no more satisfying response a writer can get to a story than hearing readers debate what will happen to the characters after the final page has been turned. Mysteries, thrillers and suspense novels tend to wrap up neatly—the protagonist safe, the bad guys dead or in jail.
Blame falls on the guilty parties. The innocent are exonerated or redeemed. Romantic literature has been my home since I was about twelve years old, and it still is. Am I alluding to actual volumes or to virtual ones? The answer is easy. His library has not been preserved as a whole and how could it have been?
Disposing of some of the family possessions and finding a new place to live proved to be traumatic. On the cover, there are two triangles—one light, one dark—and a rectangle with an eye in it, looking out at the viewer. I like books that stare back at me. I always stumble and grope when people ask me about my routine as a writer. The Absolutist is a novel about war, about masculinity, about relationships between young men in the trenches, and about cowardice. It began a few years ago when I was watching a news report on the BBC concerning a town in England where a monument was being erected to soldiers who had lost their lives in the First World War.
The names of these men, boys for the most part, teenagers, were etched into the stone and their descendants, in some cases grandchildren or great-grandchildren, in more cases grand-nephews or nieces, since most of these boys did not live to start families of their own, were there to witness the unveiling, to commemorate the lives of their fallen ancestors, to remember their sacrifice, their heroism and their untimely deaths. View slideshow. Economic theory has led us to social failure. Simply look around you. These ninety-somethings are outraged.
Hessel worked in the French Resistance during World War II and was shaped by its ultimate victory over French Vichyism and the creation in the late s of what he believes was a true French Republic successfully dedicated to equality. This recent short book sold more than a million copies in France and inspired protest everywhere.
Now, in The Path to Hope , only slightly longer, Hessel and his friend and peer, the eminent sociologist Edgar Morin, tell us what to protest against—the strangling economic power of finance and the shocking spread of ethnic prejudice among nations that were once proud carriers of humanism and the resulting loss of community and what they call fellow feeling. It is purist free-market economics and its rising power that both men despise. Their rhetoric is not mild. To them, finance capitalism could become the new fascism.
It is already some way down that road, suppressing the citizens of both rich and poor nations. This is what they witnessed during the rise of Vichy France, they argue: a plutocracy frightened of bolshevism that might jeopardize their fortunes turned too easily to fascism. The spread of a purist ethnic movement in Europe is the other enemy of their humanist ideals. Their true enemy is not economic inequality or even the persistence of poverty but injustice itself. And so it is with Occupy Wall Street. So it is with the brave protesters of the Arab Spring, the indignados of Spain, the occupiers of St.
They all say the same thing. In brutal dictatorships, the protesters want a voice, they want a basic democracy. In rich democracies, however, the protesters also want a voice lost to the power of money. They want a true democracy as well. Free us of a tyranny, say the Egyptians and the Libyans. And make no mistake, the protesters of the Arab Spring link their tyrannical former regimes with the power of money in the West.
The economics of self-interest and minimal government has led us down a path of self-destruction, say Hessel and Morin, and many others. You ask us how to reform your economic systems and we answer that you should tell us why you still believe in them. Simply look around and you find injustice almost everywhere. Poverty envelops the world, still. Hessel and Morin simplify here. Formally, poverty by some measures has fallen. But the definition of poverty according to the World Bank is tragicomically low. And the gap between rich and poor has grown enormously. Meanwhile, income inequality has risen in virtually every rich nation since The share of wages in GDP has also fallen significantly in most rich nations over the same period, even in China.
In the rich nations, public transportation is widely neglected, teachers are increasingly devalued, pollution abounds, and the climate is radically changing. Anti-immigrant movements are flourishing and gaining respectability almost everywhere we look, partly as a result of the poor performance of economies. America has proportionally more people in prison—not only illegal immigrants, of course—than any other rich nation. Private prisons are a major new industry.
Hessel and Morin have written this book to present a plan for action, not merely to make known their outrage and stimulate the outrage of others. Their plan is, to say the least, broad, too abstract. It is their path to hope, not to ultimate solutions. They are essentially true, and they have been a source of American ideals since the Colonial era. They want community to reign again. They want education to be revamped to teach the young how to live fuller, less materialistic lives. They want bureaucracies to be revitalized.
What breaks their hearts most is the loss of compassion. Without bonds and traditions, cultures of decency, and everyday evidence of the caring of others, they wonder how civilization will survive. Finance capitalism has not provided that. To the contrary, the race for self-aggrandizement undermines the possibilities. If their ideas are impractical, so be it. Take them as they are, they seem to say. They march on through this book.
And they can be poignant. Adolescence to them is magical, for example, the time in which so much must be formed, a time when all is so malleable and can easily go so wrong. Frankly, they sometimes sound like bad ads. But there is a kernel of truth, often a large one, in all the propositions. They would impose tariffs on nations that make goods on the backs of abused workers or forbid unionization.
They would reduce financial speculation. They would revive education to make it not a linear recitation of cause and effect but a circular understanding of how the world works, each event feeding another with constant feedback. No summa of truths but a dialectic, they say. It is impossible not to notice their idealism. They offer not so much plans for concrete action as a set of broad and mostly necessary principles. The Occupy Wall Streeters are subject to a similar criticism. If you are serious, we ask them, what are your specific, practical demands?
Some of the American protesters are trying to devise workable plans to change bits of America. But perhaps the wiser of them are, more importantly, trying to shine the American light on injustice and bring voice to the disenfranchised, the unlistened to, the confused, and the angry. We have heard all the solutions, they seem to be saying. But we want to be sure someone is listening. There is no voice without listeners, no sounds in the forest when the tree falls if no one is there. Washington has not listened, the occupiers are generally saying, so we need another path besides traditional government to get them to listen, and to get others to listen.
The media mostly reflect the narrow, conventional conversations in Washington. To these people, Hessel and Morin are especially relevant. Occupy Wall Street also says look around us. Do we want to make some small quick fixes to our economy, or do we want to talk more broadly of a deeper trouble? Many of them are choosing the latter. In one speech after he evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park, Bloomberg said the protesters will now have to live by the power of their ideas.
Implicitly, he was saying, if you want a financial transactions tax or a tax on the wealthy or a new mortgage relief program, go fight for it. But imagine how the protesters feel about this man, who apparently thinks he became mayor on the power of his ideas. There lay the power of his ideas. It is but one of many examples of a disconnection of values and down-on-the-ground experience between those at the top of the income spectrum and everyone else.
To say that these men and women at the top are out of touch is an understatement. What of the science of economics? The main arrogance of contemporary mainstream economics is that free-market policies are increasingly proposed as a path not only to prosperity but also to social justice.
This was the revolution of Milton Friedman, who wrote just this in his popular book Capitalism and Freedom , and was carried forward to a lesser but still potent degree by former Keynesians like Lawrence Summers, the former U. To take one example, with the advice of Summers and former treasury secretary Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton used the tax increase he passed in , and the budget surpluses being generated, to pay down debt so that private markets could allocate more money, so that the market could work to improve welfare. He invested far less in infrastructure or education, his priority fueling the private markets.
Economics can be powerful and constructive.
But free-market economics, the prevailing view, has not led to social justice, and cannot on its own. Belief in such propositions enabled the Wall Street crisis, as unfettered finance capitalism led to speculative bubbles and misdirected capital. Government stepped back under Clinton and Bush and Greenspan. In many respects, it has become the era of economic theory, the narrow but widely advocated version of which served the plutocracy well. Summers, Greenspan, and Rubin refused to allow derivatives, those low-down-payment securities based on other securities that were the heart of the financial crisis, to be regulated.
They were essentially traded in secret with no government demands for capital to back up the promises of traders. Free-market competition would weed out the trustworthy from the untrustworthy, Summers and his allies in the Clinton administration argued. Bankers made vast personal fortunes. Consider what has happened as the Friedman-Summers model ascended. Wages have generally stagnated for most workers as corporate profits have soared. Inequality is breathtakingly high. Poverty rates are as high as they were in the mids before the war on poverty was fully implemented. The quality of education and the adequacy of infrastructure are frightfully deteriorated.
Unemployment rates will not return to acceptable levels for many years. Some twenty-five million Americans cannot find a full-time job. Some twenty million full-time workers earn poverty wages. A higher proportion of Americans earn less than two-thirds of the median income than in any other rich nation.
The young, in particular, have high unemployment levels and low starting salaries, and are saddled with enormous debt taken on to pay unjustifiably expensive university tuitions. Small wonder that a right-wing populist movement like the Tea Party takes hold. Small wonder that anti-immigrant policies are so much a part of Republican presidential campaigns. Small wonder that some are trying to restrict the voting of those they disagree with. I imagine two circles. One is the circle of free-market economics, the Friedman circle, in which both prosperity and social justice are optimized.
The other is the circle of community, government, and fellow feeling, of social programs, fair taxes, and a commitment to equality. This is the Hessel-Morin circle. The Friedman circle grew bigger in the last forty years, the Hessel-Morin circle smaller, especially in America. Friedman believed that self-reliance and competition would produce more secure retirement, better jobs, and lower unemployment if the other circle did not get in the way.
In the twentieth century, America worked best when these circles were roughly the same size, and when they overlapped. Perhaps the Hessel-Morin circle should be larger than the Friedman circle. But each circle should tolerate the other, work with the other—as I say, overlap. I am not sure that Hessel and Morin want the circles to overlap. They leave some room for capitalism—perhaps not enough room. Equality is a beautiful idea, as is universal human rights. These rights, however, should also include the right of a man and woman to start a business, to wake up one morning with a new idea for a product and pursue it with vigor and optimism.
This, too, is beautiful. I doubt Hessel and Morin would disagree. But that power has gone too far the wrong way. Hessel and Morin have seen too much destruction of their values. They have been around. They have seen undiluted, cruel fascism and faced it down. They see the potential for it to rise again. They want large-scale change. But, maybe most important, they are concerned with life. Even some economists are beginning to think in such broader terms. Alas, not enough of them. But what exactly do we doubt?
He had an open marriage. When he felt the first twinges of jealousy, he did not know what hit him. Now he could face the risk of falling in love, of being loved, or possibly, rejected. Jealousy is not a lamentable by-product of love but a life force that needs to be confronted on its own terms. It would do us well to remember that all human emotions are born of necessity.
They exist to help us figure out who we are in the world, and jealousy is no exception. It is a resource we call upon when we feel at risk, when our sense of self is put in jeopardy. When we are jealous we are in fact in the grip of an identity crisis. When jealousy hits, we lose our bearings. Its target—the person who has provoked our jealousy—sucks up the air around us, and we feel erased from view, our self-regard shattered. From our rival radiates an aura that we analyze in vain. We may be faced with a reminder of a road not taken or a stifling fear. She lost the boyfriend but went back to school.
It is a welcome signal that something in our lives is amiss and needs attention. This article originally appeared in the February issue of the Other Press newsletter. There are many marvelous things about being a novelist. You can daydream all day long and call it a profession. You only need a pen and a piece of paper to work. You can do it wherever you want: in bed, on the beach, in a bar in my case: mostly in my office at home. For me, though, one of the best things about being a novelist has been the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful and interesting people I have ever encountered.
These people, like novelists, are dreamers? They are people who work very long hours. People who work very long hours and never complain. They have various reasons for being in their line of business. Becoming rich is not one of them. They are salespeople who have a healthy distrust toward things that sell too well. They travel a lot and rarely leave their hometown. They can talk for hours about characters and places, which only exist in their minds.
They can get lost in letters. In letters! I am a writer who does a lot of reading tours in Germany and Switzerland; therefore I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of independent booksellers who have kindly invited me to their stores. Usually we have wonderful evenings together. They spread the word and thanks to their work, dozens? Sometimes the booksellers get caught up in a book so much that they organize a reading during vacation time and wonder why only a few people show up.
Or they stage an event on the night of a major soccer game and are surprised and utterly disappointed when they spend the evening alone with the author. It has all happened to me? As a reader and a book buyer myself, I find that there is something old fashioned and at the same time very reassuring about booksellers: they want you to come to their store, when you could stay home and order online. They want you to talk to them, when you could just press a button instead.
They want you to pay the price a book is worth, when you could go and hunt for the deepest discount. Call me a romantic. Call me a dreamer. But I believe in the power of their passion and in the loyalty of their customers.