Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Iron Empress is intrigued with this O.J. Simpson person....

What you 20th-century people (and you were 20th-century people then) called a "low-speed chase" would have been, of course, an utterly appalling hurtling velocity for someone from any previous century. But once I was able to adjust my perception, I saw exactly what he was doing.

Some of us are simply above the law. I was, and so was my mother, Madame Yang. If you think that those of us who are above the law, but who kill, as I did, and as Mr. Simpson did, do not grieve for the ones we must kill, you are wrong. I sacrificed my own firstborn, a ten-day-old daughter. I did not hire someone to do it, nor did I order a servant to do it. I did it myself, as kindly as I could. I felt the life leaving her small body, felt the tremors traveling up my arms as I leaned, with my full weight, on the quilt I pressed down on her face.

Later, behind a stout locked door, after the "discovery" of the baby's death, I tore my hair and clothing, raked my flesh with my fingernails, howled until my throat was raw, broke furniture. Madame Yang was a great help, taking over for me from time to time so that I could rest and soothe my throat with hot tea. Madame Yang's voice was indistinguishable from mine, and so, to anyone on the other side of the door (including the Emperor Kaotsung, the infant's father, soon to be my Imperial husband), my grief was without surcease for many days. I know that this did not fail to make an impression.

Mere playacting, you say? Are you so sure that my performance was not driven by actual grief, and by fury that such an act was necessary? Could I have carried on as I did, for so long, with such intensity, on pretext alone? Perhaps you in your future world fail to grasp certain truths: the Great--and by that I mean the noble, the fine, the rare, the few--simply feel more intensely, more powerfully, more....deeply than ordinary people. It is our burden to bear, along with our greater obligations. A peasant woman would perhaps grieve over the death of her baby, yes, but only for a few hours at the very most. And when, I ask you, would a peasant woman be called upon to make such a sacrifice, and do it with her own hands, thereby increasing the grief a hundredfold? Only the Great can make great sacrifices. As they must.

Kaotsung, you see, was a comely man, intelligent, a lusty lover, but as a Son of Heaven, a thin shadow compared to his late father, Emperor Taitsung. And I, at the time of my daughter's death, was a concubine. An important one, a favorite, one who had unleashed the young Emperor's ardor in ways he'd never known, caused his juices to back up inside him and leave him rock-hard, writhing and helpless unless I released him--but a concubine, and not yet a queen. He had a queen already, of course, a silly, useless woman he was shackled to, chosen for him, ordained. Only I, as his queen, would be able to unleash his greatness. It was my mother, Madame Yang, who made me cognizant of the sacrifice I would have to make in order to overcome that limitation. Think as a queen. Behave as a queen. Be a queen, she said, daring me. I took her dare. I remember whispering to my infant daughter, as she slept, her belly full of my own warm milk, in the moment before I brought the quilt down onto her face: You are going to help to make your father great. 

It was a simple matter after that to frame the then-queen for the baby's murder and get rid of her.

Now do you have a better understanding of the particular burdens the Great must bear? Mr. Simpson understood it perfectly. The intensity of his murderous fury was in direct proportion to the greatness he knew to be his. He was not just an ordinary man slashing his woman's throat in a jealous rage--he was a champion, a warrior, a man whose life was larger than other men's lives. Practically a god, with an army of worshipers. He was obligated to do what he did, and to do it the way he did: with a knife. So acute, so blood-and-sinew personal, the blade penetrating and withdrawing, penetrating and withdrawing, the blade hitting bone, her cries filling the world, a final act of sexual conquest...and then, the processional.

That, of course, is what the "low-speed chase," as you put it, was: a royal processional. He traveled through his kingdom, the word spreading among the people with the speed of thought so that they gathered along the way and on the bridges, cheering and shouting and holding up painted signs proclaiming their love, mile after mile, while he absorbed their love and astonished them with the hugeness of his audacity and with his outsized grief for what he had been forced to do, his royal escorts of lights and sirens moving in majestic accompaniment like a thousand drummers and flutists declaring and affirming: Behold! This is no ordinary man!

And I hear that he asked for his mother.

The Iron Empress approves.

Do stop by for a visit. I am in high spirits.

Let us hope that my cheer endures.

For everyone's sake.

No comments:

Post a Comment