Il Eternal Champion is the figure that perhaps fascinated me most of the entire production of Michael Moorcock. Easy, you say ...
The Eternal Champion is something very versatile and it is obvious that you may like it. Do you know what or who he is talking about?
But it's clear, I'm talking Elric of Melniboné, by Erekose, by Corum, of Hawkmoon, of Von Bach, of Jerry Cornelius and of many, many and many other incarnations, names, people, as there are recursions of the Multiverse.
Not all the pages of a book would be enough to talk about the Eternal Champion and his reincarnations. Indeed, in Moorcock's mind and works, this being is present across dimensions, space and time in the "Multiverse".
I don't think the concept of the Multiverse is new to you. It is in fact also treated in other series of stories, from the "Chronicles of Narnia" to "These Dark Matters", Or in some films like"Donnie Darko", The Marvel Universe and even, and don't laugh please,"Sliding Doors".
The idea of the Eternal Champion has always interested me, as he is committed to restoring balance to the worlds and universes he is drawn into, often against his will. In fact, in Moorcock's works there are some recurring themes, as you can well imagine, and they are the eternal struggle between Good e Male, Chaos e Law, the loves that the Eternal Champion lives in his countless lives, the weapons he has at his side, those who accompany him in the struggles, but above all the eternal migrating towards other lives and towards new battles in search of Tanelorn. On this I will have to spend more than a couple of words if not a whole article.
The cover image is the work of Goran Gligović.
The concept of Equilibrium in Moorcock's books
As a first question I want to deal with the concept of Equilibrium. It is not only between Good and Evil as we may think it is, but also a balance between Law and Chaos. Balance, in Moorcock's books, is necessary for a "cycle" to flourish, for without it the world where the Champion was called is doomed to destruction. An excessive shift of the "balance" towards Chaos will drag the cycle towards annihilation due to the wars and devastation brought without control, while if this hypothetical scale were to move towards the Law it would instead go towards a static nature of the beings present in the cycle , to an annulment of people's personalities and ideas, to the formation of a sort of "gray cage" where everything, again, would meet in the end.
Interesting in this view of the clash is what is said to Elric during the books by a creature of Chaos that is:
"We live to fuel the cosmic struggle, not to win."
Sometimes, in the novels, the Chaos and the Law are evident, as precisely in the Elric Saga where initially the patron god of the albino warrior is one of the gods of Chaos, precisely Arioch, while in other stories these are hidden or even absent as in the case of the Eternal Champion Saga, Erekose.
The loves of the Eternal Champion
Another recurring concept are the loves of the Eternal Champion. Perhaps the weakest part of all novels, in my opinion. These loves seem to arise because it must be so and because it serves the story. Many are the companions of the Eternal Champion, and all seem to be almost empty on a psychological level, ready to be absorbed by the personality of the Champion and to accept him in his manifestations, almost never questioning his choices and almost always ready to sacrifice himself to feed. the "strength" that houses and lives inside the Champion's weapon.
This last sentence intends to introduce another recurring topos in Moorcock's tales, which is precisely the weapon of the Eternal Champion.
The Eternal Champion's Weapon
This can take many forms and many names. Sometimes it can be a sword and the most famous wielded by the Champion are Stormy (Stormbringer), la Black Blade, Kanajana, Cold Blade; other times it can be a gun like the Needle gun by Jerry Cornelius, or finally a stick like the one held by Hawkmoon. While weapon shapes may differ, this is always One throughout the Multiverse. The very essence of the weapon and its thirst for life is a constant in every incarnation, as is the constant struggle of the Champion against the weapon itself, which, acting on its own life, often leads the latter to moral dilemmas and terrible senses. of guilt. More than once, in fact, the Champion's weapon has claimed victims among the loves of him or his companions in fortune.
During the stories this eternal conflict between the Champion and his destructive nature, of which the weapon takes the form, is well highlighted, as is the fact that sometimes he wants to try to change things without the help of any weapon, yet despite his desire to deny his own nature, by not using an instrument of death, he is forced by events to have to challenge and claim victims, both innocent and otherwise. This struggle with his ally, and at the same time his nemesis, is also explicitly identified as the very representation of Fear.
As for his traveling companions, also like the Champion's loves, they are often empty characters in which he pours part of his personality. Usually the companions are neutral in the struggle of balance and do not openly support the Law or Chaos, but support the choices of the Champion. It happens instead that sometimes the companion of the Champion has had a history similar to that of the Champion in his past, possibly he was devoted to a warring faction, only to find a sort of balance that led him to want to put aside the fight to start looking of peace and the city of Tanelorn.
In the story the "Dragon in the Sword“Something more complex happens in these characters. The companion of the Champion is Count Ulrich von Beck who is actually also, himself, an incarnation of the Champion. This example of duality is also found in the Elric saga where duality is represented by the presence of two twin weapons or Stormy e Mournful (Stormbringer and Mournbringer). This duality is also present, again in Melniboné's Elric, in a passage in the book where various incarnations of the Champion fight together, and where some of these lose their lives.
On closer analysis, however, it is not certain that there is actually a duality in Moorcock Samples, perhaps this vision is nothing more than a defense mechanism such as splitting or dissociation that the protagonist implements in order to accept the choices, sometimes questionable, in the hope of completing the cycle in which he is dragged against his will.
Migration through the Cycles
We have reached the most complex moment of this whole process. The eternal migration of the Champion from one cycle to another.
Thus, the eternal migrating through the various cycles of the Multiverse is perhaps the most interesting of the points in Moorcock's works. Each cycle that the Champion has to live is on the verge of losing Equilibrium; despite the fact that the struggle between these two factions is eternal and will never end, the Champion is dragged to fight against his will. For him there is never peace and the only thing he can do is fight for one side or the other. From the ashes of war the next cycle will be forged by the fires of battle, and depending on the faction that wins, the Law or Chaos will have a greater hold.
Perhaps Moorcock found Hans Von Arnim's writing to be fundamental to his work, precisely "Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta"Which in one passage says this:
"The reconstitution of the whole will take place not once, but several times, or rather the same realities will be reconstituted indefinitely and without limit. And the gods, not being subject to destruction, but happening in each cycle, therefore know everything that will happen in the following cycles, because there will be nothing different from what happened previously.".
This stoic view of the Multiverse is perhaps the greatest curse for the Eternal Champion.
This being turns out to be completely devoid of free will since it is obliged in its task and cannot be avoided. The only possibility for him to find peace is to reach, from time to time, the city of Tanelorn the only fixed point in the various worlds of the Multiverse where the Champion can find a suspension, at least momentary, and be able to rest.
Conclusions and some music!
To summarize Moorcock's works I think this single image and this sentence from Nietzsche suffice:
"In a finite system, with an infinite time, each combination can repeat itself an infinite number of times"
So the universe is reborn and dies according to fixed and necessary time cycles, eternally repeating a certain course and always remaining itself. An eternity of struggle for balance.
Now, however, before closing, I would like to deal with a particular topic, or how Moorcock has also profoundly marked a particular musical trend with his works, namely Metal music.
Many groups have collaborated with the writer for some of their songs starting with the Hawkwind that they mentioned in the song "The Black Corridor”The work written in 1969 and which I strongly advise you to read. He even worked with them on the album "Warrior on the Edge of Time".
For the Blue Öyster Cult he wrote the lyrics for three songs which are "Black Blade","Veteran of The Psychic Wars"and "The Great Sun Jester". Being a very witty man he also performed with these two groups in 1987.
To complete the "corrupt" from Moorcock we mention the Blind Guardians with "The Quest of Tanelorn"and "Tanelorn (Into The Void)“, And the homegrown band of Domine.
What else? I would say that I have said enough, but not everything, so, if you want, you can start digging in search of the volumes and the deeper meaning of these. I leave you with one of the most heartbreaking points in the books.
We are the lost, we are the last, we are the unwelcome.
We are the Warriors at the End of Time.
And we are tired. Very tired. Tired of loving
We are the splinters of your illusions
The remnants of your hopes.
We are the Warriors at the End of Time
See you at the End Times!