Part 8. The Mercenary
Online Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=konqUZzKvOQ&t=12s
The masters often bring another conceptual identity into their midst: the mercenary. The mercenary is a paid figure, a hired gun always highly skilled in war, her body purchased to do what no other is willing, to kill or die in the same breath, but this also makes her an unbound being, mercurial and disconnected, moving without facial expression or emotional pulse, like a sleepwalker with vacant eyes. She is ready to dwell at the most lethal edges of existence, a whirlwind of violence, without belief or honor, her stare metallic and uncaring.
Here we will explore only 5 principles of the mercenary:
- Equality: The mercenary is a servant of universal death, and therefore views everyone as interchangeable targets. Anyone can fall beneath the knife, all can be taken down for a price.
- Accident: The mercenary respects only the lawlessness of chance, recognizing life and death as phenomena of pure fortune. Thus no one is ever safe, no outcome guaranteed, and no promises can be made, for there is only indeterminacy to rule our movements.
- Waste: The mercenary squanders everything in hollow expenditures (gambling, drunkenness, sensual exchanges). They spend themselves bankrupt in transient blasts of indulgence, draining themselves of material belongings in the dice-throw or card game, forfeiting whatever to the tavern and the alley, for this frees them of possession and attachment to life.
- Neutrality: The mercenary occupies a middle-ground of total indifference, neither traumatized by nor addicted to their own hired viciousness, but rather floating like a fragment of dark matter. They are never the origin of conflict, just the extended arm of a decision made elsewhere, an impersonal weapon that seals another’s hateful transaction. Thus they stand untouched by guilt, shame, regret, judgment, or even pleasure, entering and destroying worlds with the most seamless touch.
- Futurelessness: The mercenary grants herself no concept of the future, never contemplating tomorrow, for she expects no exemption from her master Death. She knows that the end will come for her as well, soon enough, to claim and collect her back from the surface of things, and that she too will perish in the field or in the street one night, alone and badly. This gives her an air of invincibility though, as if calmed by the knowledge of this imminent betrayal, this cutthroat hour that is always within striking distance.
In a parallel universe of thought, we can look to the example of the Watchers (Aramaic iryn; Greek egregoroi), a biblical race of angels presumably sent by God to look over humans since exiled from paradise, but with strict commands to never intervene or make direct contact with those who had broken the covenant. Thus they were to remain forever adjacent, observing and recording details at a close distance, but never actually encountering those flawed humans who had failed the test of the garden.
And still, after years of absolute neutrality, keeping silent company with humans as they struggled and cried out, the Watchers’ gaze began to accumulate interest; they developed a kind of telescopic passion for those under their constant sight and felt attraction to these humans damned; they could no longer withstand their continued disengagement, this state of the almost-touchable, this excruciating proximity, and begin aiding and reproducing with them.
Thus the Watcher angels inevitably broke their code; according to apocryphal writings from the Book of Enoch, grandfather of Noah, they taught men the heavenly art of war (making spears and swords) and women the equally heavenly art of seduction (using makeup and dance), and they took lovers among them at night beneath the moon.
These mixtures also created tainted offspring, a bastard species of giants (half-divine, half-mortal) called the nephilim who would terrorize the land with exceptional strength and rage. As it is written in Genesis, Book VI:
“When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.”
But these strong forbidden hybrids of the nephilim could not last, and it was indeed their supposed perversion (according to some readings) that caused a now-angered God to cast out the Watchers, condemning them to a cursed valley, and to then call forward the great flood.
Thus we return to the figure of the mercenary, for it was a mercenary class of defiant angels that first crossed the divide between world and otherworldly, sent on a mission to remain anonymous but instead shattering the barrier between the ethereal and the living, sky and earth, and thereby eliciting the first catastrophe to drown us all.
Author: Jason Mohaghegh; Video Editor: Ghazal Zamani
Video Credits [Materials Included and Cited]: [Part 1] All images from the visual artwork of Lin Tianmiao. “Bound and Unbound,” Art Museum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China, 1997; [Part 2] [Images] Odilon Redon, “Fallen Angel”, 1872; Paul Gustave Dore. “Elijah Fed By An Angel”, 1866 and “The Fall of the Rebel Angels”, 1868 and “The Deluge”, 1865; Giovanni Lanfranco. “Norandino and Lucina Discovered by the Ogre”, 1624; Hieronymus Bosch. “The Fall of the Rebel Angels”, 1500-1504; Edward Burne-Jones. “Love Leading the Pilgrim”, 1896; [Sculpture] William Wetmore Story. “Angel of Grief”, 1894. [Score] Zack Hemsey. “The Way”.