A reading of Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth inspired a possible story for my ongoing graphic novel, Pantheon, particularly a world full of a sentient species that were ruled by “divinities,” better understood as demigods from our ancient mythologies.
The story in a nutshell: 800 light years away from Earth, the star system Rigel contains a world of thousands rival Pantheons, a gas giant called Algebar. Two members of Pantheon, Iz’rael and Jalamdhara, will be involved with its independence and eventual decline. The protagonist and narrator is Aziz, a mortal who was born on the day of liberation – he has powers of telepathy.
The story begins with Aziz, who was born to one of the ruling demigods and a mortal. Later Aziz learns that all children born on the day of liberation also have powers beyond mortal ken. He employs his telepathy to assemble a group of gifted mortals to face the problems of independence for a gigantic planet rife with diversity. As a conduit Aziz brings hundreds of others into contact. But in doing so he brings forth those responsible for the liberation of the planet – Iz’rael and Jalamdhara.
Aziz escapes to the desert with the two liberators and discovers the following truth of religion on Algebar.
The gods of planet Algebar world had carried out their exploitation program with demigods, who merely echo their “master’s voice,” but in actuality they are the precursor to the independent individual who rejects their gods’ hegemony and take up certain techniques against their exploiters.
The story ought to expose the prejudiced philosophy of equality among the sentient species that in actuality denies true independence to the mortal worshipers. A hypocrisy of the exploiters that in their efforts to exploit, exterminate and indoctrinate the natives, enslave them and reduce them to mere chattel. The demigod installs a cultural cleanse that wipes out the pre-existing native culture, their traditions, languages, and replaces them with the ideal “utopia” of their ruling pantheons. This results in a nomadic mortal that does not belong anywhere. A true utopian, for he belongs to nowhere.
The utopian ends up a chimera – neither sentient nor beast. In this situation, the utopian is overpowered physically, under-educated, feeble and psychologically enslaved. So he only understands the language of violence. Since the demigods’ aim is exploitation, a sheer numbers game of recruiting worshipers, he cannot truly eradicate the utopian. However, in the end, their political apparatus gets out of control, and the oppressed resorts to violence in order to stand and face their overlords. At first, the traumatized utopian, incapable of controlling his fear and hate, attacks his own people in the absence of their true enemy. This is the result of the seeds of violence sown by the demigods, due to their physical superiority.
After the holocaust, the utopian finally identifies his common enemy, and turns against the demigods en masse. Then their only duty is to eliminate the demigod by every means at their disposal. A true individual is born from the wreckage of the humiliated and terrorized native who can both revere and employ the religious artifacts – the new individual who is ready to sacrifice himself in the struggle for the cause of his people.
The gods use different techniques to rule their worshipers. Some pantheons maintain demigods to rule according to their wishes. Others divide and rule and either creates a native demigod or creates factions among the natives. Or some pantheons play a double game of occupation and exploitation. Therefore the gods encourage divisions and stratification of the world of mortals. In order to fight back, the natives must first fight against themselves. The internal fight is directed at uniting the various cultures, until all barriers fall.
There is a necessity for the native class to hold power. Unlike the demigods, their priestly caste, the worshiper suffers the most. When they rise, they stand out as the revolutionary class. This class tastes the oppression most directly, both physically and psychologically, so in order to rise, they must demolish the existing structures. The revolution must be from the native class. If the demigods take power, their world, despite its apparent sovereignty, will remain in the hands of the pantheons.
Therefore, Pantheon must be a cautionary tale against the cult of leadership or personalities, as well as the hegemony of the religious culture. The only true culture is the culture of the revolution that constantly creates and remakes a new race of sentients that avoids stagnation and accumulation of power – knowledge and property – in the hands of the demigods.