I enjoy culture. I do not care if it high, low, popular or rarified. It all links together and is part of the inheritance of man.
A few months ago I was listening to my Silmarillion audiobook and I was struck by Morgoth sitting on this throne in Angband. It reminded me that Sauron would also create a throne and that throne would be an important setting for his plan to enslave Middle Earth to his will. At the same time as reading and enjoying my Tolkien I was enjoying reading, painting and playing Warhammer 40,000 and I remembered the importance of the Golden Throne which is an archaic piece of technology that maintains the life of the Emperor. This got me thinking about how similar the Emperor and Morgoth are.
The moral status of the Emperor is one that is in doubt. When I started playing Warhammer 40K in the 1980s the Emperor was more of a goodie than a baddie although there were certainly rather negative traits on display. From the beginning the Emperor required human souls to survive. These were brought to him in ‘Black ships’ which certainly reminded me of the Black ships that brought youths from Athens to be fed to the minotaur. As I grew older I began to read more and saw how Warhammer 40K had itself grown out of the counter cultural fiction of, amongst others 2000AD comics all of which fed into the distinctive intellectual property which manifested in novels, fluff and models. The Emperor became a merging of characters as diverse as Star Treks Khan, 2000ADs Torqumada and a general Nietzsche philosophy mixed with the idea that if anything could go wrong it will. What makes the 40K universe so complicated is the absolute lack of a moral centre. Without an objective right or wrong you get the moral chaos of Warhammer 40K. I once remember reading a Median post about how 40K could be made more realistic by including a “resistance” to the Empire. The author suggested that throughout human history there has been a “progressive resistance” I humbly disagree but Medium is not the place for disagreement. 40K is an epic sized universe where a single imperial officer can destroy a score of populated planets in a plan to starve a Hive Fleet but this an existing trope. Douglas Adams uses it in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where the Earth is demolished to make way for a Hyperspace Bypass. 40K grew out of satire and silly British humour. The epic pointless battles fought by the Imperial guard who forget to stop bombarding the enemy cities fifty years after they have surrendered draws on our contempt for the civil service and black humour about the First World War. The Mechanicus exterminating a planet to get a technology thought lost in the Dark Age of Technology and discovering a machine for sharpening pencils echoes Ayn Rands contempt for Government and satire about the war in general. The Emperor is a figure of fun, like the Genie in Disney, mighty cosmic power but itybity living space.