Topple my Enemies

"Stories are how I topple my enemies" says the giant in 'A Monster Calls' (no need to ask what I am watching as half-term begins). It is not simply walking trees that weave dangerous tales that can shatter empires and plummet monarchs from their thrones. Newspaper magnates regularly produce all manner of confections, sometimes to bolster the empires of their chosen puppets and as often to eradicate those rivals, actual or potential, to their ambitions. Missionaries create confabulations to oust the resident Gods before sowing the tales of their own. Spurned lovers seek to destroy the characters of their rivals, either to recapture their lost paramours or simply for revenge. The disenfranchised recast the people they believe (rightly and sometimes wrongly) oppress them, hurled into a weak light, robbed of their power to dominate. Martyrs in search of a cross will find themselves a hammer-wielding villain, even if they have to embroider them out of whole cloth. Sometimes enemies are not so much toppled as frozen in amber, never allowed to be anything other than a pantomime villain.
To take effect stories must be heard - told and retold until so many people believe them that, like the roots of ancient trees, they upend the foundations of seemingly unassailable fortresses.  Sometimes they are tales told with such skills, passion, and panache that they last in memory for an age. Sometimes they are as simple as, "doesn't she look tired". What sends a story rooting like bindweed is a mystery - gifted teller, fertile audience, sheer luck?
A teller should always bear in mind that, before setting out to topple an enemy, one should always consider the space that will be left by them and what may grow in it. Have a secondary story from which to grow something new and preferable once the tyrant has been ripped down - lest something worse flower in its place.


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