My Watcher at the Gates

I don’t have one Watcher; I have many. My Watchers are a pantheon of demons that tell me different things. I’m not sure what all of them look like, or what their names are. I haven’t studied them all that closely. Although I could list the things they say, I’m not sure which ones say what. There is one that I am familiar with enough to write about.

He sits in a hard, wooden chair just in front of the gates. The gates are black, iron, ornate. There is no accompanying fence; there is only the gate surrounded by white void. Up, down, left, right — the void continues in all directions.

This Watcher looks very much like me. He wears a pristine suit, but no hat. He is “perfect.” He is always calm. He never struggles and never has inner turmoil. He is emotionless and governed by pure reason. When he speaks, he speaks fluidly, at a measured pace, never stutters, never makes a mistake, and pauses only slightly. He always knows what to say and says it with devastating flair.

He sits in his chair and criticizes me.

I don’t think he has a name, but I will nickname him Napoleon. This is not because he is some sort of war hero. (Far from it! Since he has no emotions, he is no coward, but he also does not know courage. However, he is a strategic genius, and he can beat me in any game.) I call him this because Napoleon is one of Hegel’s World-historical individuals. He is always thinking that I should alter the course of history. (Arrogant, huh?)

Whenever I write something, he is constantly concerned with whether it has proper weight. “Is this thing that you are writing important, or is it frivolous?” he asks. He is also greatly concerned with the quality of my work. He tells me, “What will people 100 years from now think of this? Will they be impressed? How about people who would read this now? Will this work hit them with enough force?” He is very displeased when ideas are not perfectly-formed. He disapproves of works-in-progress. He demands that every assertion must be true and backed up with well-researched data.

Sometimes, he’s not there at the gates, so I don’t have to deal with him. However, his chair is always there, in the same place. In fact, his chair is empty right now. I will leave him a note.

Dear “Napoleon,”

You have no idea what it means to be an artist. I have opened these gates while you are gone and let imperfection run rampant. It was rather satisfying.

As always,

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