The Fortress of Appearances

Mr. Faux is a gentleman of a peculiar predisposition to registering his nonsensical dreams in great details. Entry No. 811:

Occupants of the Fortress twist themselves into all manners of agonizing positions just to maintain appearances—appearances that keep the Kingdom from imploding altogether. Those sitting in the high seats turn a blind eye to the cost of make-believe while regaled with luxuries; those devoting to the Kingdom’s cause toil away not realizing that in the end, the cause is but another pretense. As for the peasants, it isn’t their first time being proselytized and surely it wouldn’t be their last. At any rate, what difference does it make to announce one’s allegiance to one purpose over another? But the heart of the question is: who in the high Fortress is truly subscribed to the doctrines of King’s Holy Scripture?

The Kingdom’s reach is far and wide, albeit verging on its palpable downfall. In an attempt to appeal to all, it had to accommodate to all, and as its to-do list grew longer and longer, it was eventually held hostage by its own voracious and blind cause. The Kingdom had aimed for the stars when its navigation system couldn’t even locate where the moon was, but it didn’t matter. People loved getting behind grand ideas, even when they were kids they were taught to “change the world”. It is both amazing and terrifying to see people who don’t fully understand the world think they can actually change the world for the better.

Grand ideas are easy to come by and it makes people feel good to come up with one; it seems people know more about righting the wrongs of the world than righting the wrongs of their own lives. Well, of course they do! The pushback of one’s plan for changing the world may take years if not decades to reveal itself whereas a plan for changing their own life could take as little as a day to be proven ill-advised, and who would like to be reminded of their own idiocy so fast? The trickery of making grand plans is that one cannot be proven wrong in the near future, therefore is absolved of any immediate responsibilities, and this has been the Kingdom’s modus operandi. The occupants of the Fortress are all too familiar with words of heavenly grandeur that have little to do with earthly matters.

Over the years the Kingdom has grown substantially in size but its influence has withered (shocking); what used to be an empire is now just a hallow shell, kept alive by the meager offering of its vassal states who had already sensed its demise. Yet, not unlike any other empire that preceded it: the silver platters and chalices of the noble will be filled even when the wooden trays and mugs of the servile remain bare. To those who have everything, more will be given; from those who have nothing, all will be taken. Rarely in history had empires collapsed from invasions, mostly it was the decay from within. Fissures have already appeared on the ramparts of the Fortress, but they are the King’s new clothes, and without the little child no one would dare or care to recognize what’s right before their eyes. Does the King know? that his Kingdom is slowly but surely crumbling down.

The King has never held any true power over his Dukes, who are as many as they are different; till this day he remains a titular King and a true puppet. His limbs don’t belong to himself but to a myriad of masters of conflicting interests, and his Holy Scripture has evolved into an open-ended coloring book pandering to the reveries of his most powerful Dukes. History has a repeating pattern and it isn’t hard to see that when a number of vassal states rose to power, the corollary has always been the King’s receding to obscurity—and along with it the Kingdom itself. When the Eastern Zhou dynasty reached its end, it was whoever the strongest of the Dukes (warlords in reality) who controlled the King, which means his words weren’t his words.

To use brass as a mirror, one fixes their appearance; to use history as a mirror, one grasps the rise and decline of time; to use people as a mirror, one understands their gain and loss. The Fortress of Appearances seems to have a great brass mirror, if not tilted.

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