(something nontraditional, for this month's RiaR competition on the Bolthole. It's an effort to get some of the 40k-related thoughts that have been rattling around in my skull for too long out. Enjoy!)
OUR ETERNAL DUTY, Vol. XXI: Dutiful Ignorance
A Lecture By Inquisitor Chaisor Braehm Regarding Hope and Knowledge As Such Sins Relate To The Inquisitor-In-Training
It is impossible for an inquisitor to be wrong unless she* is wrong.
When I pose this blatant contradiction to my classes and ask them to unravel it, I receive explanations along the following vein, to quote an illustrative example verbatim:
“Loss of face. An inquisitor cannot afford to show weakness or to deign to explain herself. She must always be superior and the admonition of failure degrades that superiority faster than anything except, perhaps, camaraderie. If her disguise is outed, then she flashes her rosette and tells the subject she was trying to fool that its ears misled it—she was never attempting to disguise herself at all. She has to hope her authority and reputation will carry the required weight.”
Aah, but the student were going so well, there, until the end. He was riding the wrong tram of thought entirely, of course, but still going well. Of course, the question was not why an inquisitor cannot be seen to be wrong. It was why an inquisitor is never wrong.
His example was flaccid, though it held some merit. The argument did not wholly invalidate itself—until the last sentence dribbled from his lips.
You see, he said that one must hope one's authority is enough. Hope.
There is no cancer so virulent or insidious as hope. To hope is to renounce agency over one's actions; to put oneself at the mercy of greater, merciless powers. Hope is the deluded product of a frail mind.
One must know the inevitability of one's success in order to succeed. The Emperor does not hope for victory; He is simply victorious in all things. Inquisitors are the Emperor's Will and Word made manifest. It is impossible for the inquisitor who believes this fact utterly to fail in her duty, for she is as the Emperor. Only the inquisitor who doubts this simple fact can fail, as too many do.
We are mortals attempting to assume the mantle of God, seeking to enact His perfect justice through our flawed bodies. Between the idea and the reality, between the intention and the motion, falls the shadow. Inquisitors fail when they doubt their triumph, the Emperor's triumph, and fall back upon hope.
That is why you must know that an inquisitor is never wrong but when she is wrong. So, then: beyond that single certainty, what else must you know in the line of duty?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Some amongst our number hold that knowledge is power. This is an outright falsehood. It indicates nothing but how deeply the rot of radicalism has seeped into our organization. Hold fast to the motto of the Inquisition, the only place where you can find solace: 'Everything you have been told is a lie.'
Knowledge is not power. Ignorance is power, and knowledge serves only to dilute it. Ignorance is the cornerstone of the Imperium, upon which all His servants rely. The citizen must remain ignorant of the horrors of which it has no conception. The soldier must remain ignorant of the capability of its foe, lest they blunt the edge of their fervor in terror.
It is girded by such ignorance that the Emperor lifts us to victory. To know how utterly capable and deadly the enemy is to know the inevitability of your defeat. She who knows her victory is impossible has already lost. We throw ourselves at the enemy not knowing that our failure is certain, that our foe has bested heroes and warriors far mightier than us, and are victorious purely because we knew not how much we had to fear. Ignorance is our aegis while faith is our blade—and faith is surrendering, in ignorance, to the Emperor.
The inquisitor must be without doubt, fear or grief. These are levers upon which the Archenemy asserts infinite pressure, shattering the best among our number like mere glass—should such a lever find purchase on one's psyche. That is why in ignorance you find solace. Do not know the ten billion lives you consign to Exterminatus except in the most abstract sense, lest the weight of so very many deaths crush your conscience.
The true inquisitor is secure in the fortress of her arrogance; in the inevitability of her own success. To know the measure of her enemy and the measure of her own actions would be to invite despair. It would force her to hope that she acts in the Emperor's best interests.
The Sermon Primaris of the Ordo Xenos states, 'Know thine enemy, for you are known to him already.' This is the rot within that I have mentioned before. This school of thought holds that to combat the enemy without knowing his methods and capabilities is foolish suicide that often furthers the enemies aims.
These inquisitors, with their hollow, straw-filled heads, represent the Radical; they are utterly faithless and lacking in conviction. Their purpose is not pure so they know, deep in their craven hearts, that the Emperor will not protect them. As such, they shore up their defenses against their inevitable failure with such flimsy tools as logic, reason and rational thought. They are doomed, however, as all such defenses crumble in time. The Emperor knows their inner minds, and that is their undoing.
I say, in response to the Sermon Primaris, let the enemy know the Inquisition. Let the enemy know that our vengeance and wrath comes for him, and cower from it. The inquisitor, however, needs not to know her enemy in return in order to crush it. Be it witch, mutant, xenos, daemon, apostate or radical, it opposes the Emperor in opposing her.
In response, it shall learn that the Emperor is just as merciless and cruel as the thirsting deities of the warp.
*Throughout this lecture, the role of inquisitor shall be referred to in the feminine, purely for the purpose of confronting any in-built assumption you as an inquisitorial cadet or explicator might hold.
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
Last edited by Mossy Toes; 05-06-12 at 01:57 AM.