true evil

One of the interesting things that's emerged from the last year is the propensity for people to use the word, and the concept of "evil" again. I had a favorite Time cover a few years back that was a great black-on-black full-page that subtly spelled out EVIL. (If I recall, the cover story was an essay by Pico Iyer... anybody remember?) Perfect for the wall of a teenager's bedroom, especially since I was lucky enough to appreciate the inanity of a newsmagazine leading with a cover on EVIL. That's all news is, reporting on evil.

But I had a harder time understanding the true nature of evil, because it's just a ridiculous construct. My conception of it, dork that I am, was basically Darth Vader. (Does it reveal what a romantic I am that my definition of evil has good at its core?) And I couldn't understand how regular folks could interact with evil. I pictured a bunch of tired TIE fighter pilots, schlepping back to their quarters in the Death Star after another mindless training run, and running into the Sith Lord in those cramped-ass industrial grey Late Imperial hallways...

TIE Pilot: Hey, uh.... Darth?

Darth Vader: *glowers menacingly*

TIE Pilot: We, um... Me and a couple of the other guys were gonna rent Cocoon 2 later and watch it in the pilot's lounge. Did you want —

Darth Vader: No.

TIE Pilot: But we were gonna have, like, popcorn. And maybe then some foosball?

Darth Vader: *raises gripping hand in the "you want some choke-choke?" gesture and cocks one lava-scarred eyebrow underneath his helmet*

TIE Pilot: Yeah, okay then. We'll just be down in the lounge. If you change your mind, we might get Princess Bride again, then, too. *walks away*

Darth Vader: *long, mechanically-controlled sigh*

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