Viekko's Provacao and Civilization vs Society
Author CommentaryOne of my favorite things in storytelling is when there is a character I'm highly invested in doing something that is very obviously stupid and counterproductive and doing so for all the reasons that I like that person. My assumption is that others might like that too. Or maybe I'm about to annoy a lot of people.
Well, it won't be the first time.
This is one of the first key turning points of Templum Veneris, and we see just how seductive this society and, indeed, just about any totalitarian society is. People don't gravitate to totalitarianism because they enjoy having their rights stripped away and being ground into a mindless tool of the State. There is a sense of belonging that appeals to our most basic nature as a species. We are hard-wired to cooperate and be part of the group, and it doesn't take a lot for a dictator to manipulate that. And that's what's happening to Viekko right now. He and Isra have never formed a strong bond, he likes Cronus well enough but doesn't share any commonality with someone essentially raised inside a computer. Althea is the only person that really ties him to the team, and, as of the last chapter, she's essentially severed that. Possibly with an ax.
But that could happen to anyone. There is something unique to Viekko and his situation.
One of the continuing themes in the book is this conflict between civilized society and the State of Nature. If you've made it this far in the series, you might know that the Martian society tends to exist on the far side of society. Yes, there is a settlement with an organized security force, but it was more like an outpost of civilization in a world of barbarism. It's been established that Viekko spent most of his time fighting the raiders that would attack his settlement. At the same time, I think he has a deep respect for their way of life; it's that respect a warrior gives to a worthy enemy.
So what does that have to do with what's going on right now?
For me, it adds an extra layer to a deeper, reoccurring conflict. Althea, for me, represents Civilization as a concept. Her appearance, her education, her profession, her desires, even her compulsion toward theft are all products of an advanced urban society. Viekko, of course, makes several references to being a wild man or a barbarian. And every time Althea pulls away from him —either because of his baggage or hers— he has a tendency to sink back into those things that satisfy his baser human needs.
Cytherea basically fill that void at the moment. It's the civilizational equivalent of a drug. It's built to target the reward centers of our brains, and Viekko, being only a few steps removed from the wild, is especially susceptible.
It's the same reason that, throughout ancient history, 'barbarian hordes' sacking the great cities of the world tended to get sidetracked by the sudden availability of luxury. The two ways of life are incompatible and tend to annihilate each other when in contact.
And for all those reasons, we know its a terrible idea when Viekko says, 'Awww fuck it' and jumps into the ring with Gabriel. We all know its a bad idea, but he just can't stop himself.
I like that sort of thing, but I'm a little deranged.