The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed

I met a traveller from an antique land

Adrian Veidt ~ "Ozymandias"
Sir, do you not fear that you might become drunk upon so concentrated a draft of knowledge?
No, I don't think so. Indeed, it is the most sobering potion that I know.

My parents reached America the year I was born, 1939. Entering school, I was already exceptionally bright, my perfect scores on early test papers arousing such suspicion that I carefully achieved only average grades thereafter. What caused such precociousness? My parents were intellectually unremarkable, possessing no obvious genetic advantages. Perhaps I decided to be intelligent, rather than otherwise? Perhaps we all make such decisions, though that seems a callous doctrine.

By seventeen, my parents were both dead, and I faced a different decision. My inheritance offered lifelong idle luxury, and yet, needing nothing, I burned with the paradoxical urge to do everything. My intellect set me apart. Faced with difficult choices, I knew nobody whose advice might prove useful. Nobody living. The only human being with whom I felt any kinship died three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Alexander of Macedonia. I idolized him. A young army commander, he'd swept along the coasts of Turkey and Phoenicia, subduing Egypt before turning his armies toward Persia...He died, aged thirty-three, ruling most of the civilized world. Ruling without barbarism. At Alexandria, he instituted the ancient world's greatest seat of learning.

True, people died...perhaps unnecessarily, though who can judge such things? Yet how nearly he approached his vision of a united world! I was determined to measure my success against his. Firstly, I gave away my inheritance, to demonstrate the possibility of achieving anything, starting from nothing. Next I departed for northern Turkey, to retrace my hero's steps. The night before returning to America, I wandered into the desert and ate a ball of hashish I'd been given in Tibet. The ensuing vision transformed me: wading through powdered history, I heard dead kings walking underground; heard fanfares sound through human skulls. Alexander had merely resurrected an age of pharaohs. Their wisdom, truly immortal, now inspired me!

Adopting Rameses the Second's Greek name and Alexander's free-booting style, I resolved to apply antiquity's teachings to today's world. Thus began my path to conquest...conquest not of men, but of the evils that beset them.

If you have a being that can destroy with a single thought, then the terrifying thing is that there is, or there soon will be, a counterpoint or an adversary to that being. The universe has a way of finding its own equilibrium, its own level. What worries me is that Dr. Manhattan's nemesis will be arriving soon.
~Moloch the Mystic, The Culpeper Minute

But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand, and the sound of a voice that is still.
~Alfred Lord Tennyson