The Generic Villain on Being the Dragon

The important thing is that the dragon is always right, and the dragon is always evil. —UZ

I don’t often mess with The Management, so imagine my surprise to discover someone dangling me the above bit of Narrative Philosophy in response to one of her posts. It’s about the dragon (or someone else, but it’s dragons a lot; they’re naturally suited to it) who points out the problem with a concept that the protagonists have built their little worlds around. So why does the dragon work, and how can we be the dragon?

The first thing you need to remember when being the dragon is to think dragon. What is a dragon? A dragon is not human, or humanoid, or whatever the dominant set of creatures is in this world. So it’s an outsider, and it can keep free of personal attachment or revulsion towards the individual principles. The dragon will not cling to a human concept just because it likes it, but neither will it reject a concept without a good reason. It will not say what the concept fails to be, but what it actually is, particularly that part that the human it was talking to was doing the best job of not noticing. We, too, must be able to view our societies, and even our worlds and their metaphysics, from the outside—and, as the dragon does naturally, envision it through greater spans of time than those we are talking to are likely to live through.

The dragon is always right because the dragon knows; it is old, and wise, and possibly being advised by Narrative Causality. It does not delude itself; it has probably spent years learning to understand the concept it is so calmly shredding between its claws. Nor does it put forth its theories on these concepts in earnest without being able to back them up (though it has as likely as not long debated these things with other dragons as a matter of philosophy); unlike the human who thinks he is a god, and declares those things that he does not understand or does not agree with “incomplete” or “broken” or just plain “wrong”, the dragon uses facts, and logic, and calm reasoning. The dragon doesn’t need to, and probably doesn’t, hate the concept, nor have a reason to want the little human to stray from the path of light; the dragon might not even care, and probably sounds like it’s just engaging in philosophical debate. This is why it is a dragon and not a demon, and what separates it from the mortal who thinks he is a god—the latter two have a definite interest, and thus register in the deeper subconscious as a threat.

The dragon is always evil. Or at the very least, the dragon is always evil as far as those whose concepts it dissects are concerned. Perhaps it is not malicious, as a demon may be, but in the end the dragon does not allow itself to be bound by their morality, and if it is not good, and if it does not try not to be evil, does that not make it evil in their minds?

And if the object is to leave the foe off-balance by taking apart those concepts that he relies on? How better to do this than to be the dragon?

8 comments

  1. Brickwall says:

    This is, of course, problematic, since dragons end up having their lines written by humans. And, unlike dragons, we haven’t exactly earned the right to be preachy, nor are we in any way objective.

    Interestingly enough, the only ‘evil’ dragons you seem to run into are the ones who eat humans for no apparent reason, or extort treasure from them. Most other dragons just tend to be reclusive and dismissive of mortals.

  2. Ravyn says:

    My friend, it’s called emulation. Just because most of us aren’t scaly and old as the hills doesn’t mean we can’t learn from those who are.

  3. UZ says:

    @Brickwall: Interestingly enough, the only ‘evil’ dragons you seem to run into are the ones who eat humans for no apparent reason, or extort treasure from them.

    Not so! Read “Dragonsbane” by Barbara Hambly, in which Morkeleb the Black eats people because he is hungry, and is only about as evil as everybody else. Which is, to be fair, really evil. Also his dialogue is pretty sweet, even if it is all in telepathic italics.


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