East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Revenge & Vengeance


Yesterday I stumbled on the same concept twice in a matter of hours, in writing first and then listening to a podcast, and it’s something I can relate to, so here’s a brief post on the subject.

William Goldman, legendary screenwriter and author of The Princess Bride, wrote

I write out of revenge.

William Goldman

And as I was listening to punk rocker, author and activist Henry Rollins interviewed by Joe Rogan, when asked about his powerhouse of activities he said

I am motivated by vengeance.

Henry Rollins

While Goldman stopped there, Rollins expanded on the idea. What motivates him, he said, is the will to get back to all those that along the way told him he would never make it.

I can relate to that.
My whole life’s been punctuated by people telling me I’d never make it.
But it’s more than that.
There is a difference between revenge and vengeance (I researched the subject).

  • Revenge is something you do as a consequence of some wrong you suffered.
  • Vengeance is something you do as a consequence of some wrong done to other.

Revenge, in this sense, is a reaction. It is personal. It is, in a way, acknowledging that other people have power over you.
You did me wrong, and now I will take my revenge.
I understand that, but I find it sterile.
It is never good to let other people have control over our decision and our actions, because in the end we are the ones in the arena – to quote Teddy Roosevelt – and we are the ones that should decide.

Vengeance, on the other hand, is a moral stance. I will not suffer that wrongs are visited upon anyone. And I will hit back.
This is something I like.
And it’s a classic staple of the hero pulps: the Shadow and the Spider are avengers, not revengers.

So, yes, I am writing out of vengeance. Because there’s a lot of people out there that simply hate it when someone – anyone – does something original, and personal, and creative.
They hate it because when we do something – be it writing a story, painting a picture, taking photos, writing a blog or singing a song… no matter what we do, we are doing it.
We are causing something.
And they hate it, because they don’t, and they can’t – or they believe they shouldn’t.

If it is true that each one of us, whatever we are creating, is alone against himself in a very personal match, striving to do better tomorrow than we did yesterday, and that’s all there is to it, it is also good to be able to show what we do, in the face of those that say we should not and we could not.
For ourselves, and for everybody else who’s struggling and confronting the naysayers.

And really, is there a more pulpy, sword & sorcery-sh theme than revenge and vengeance?

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Revenge & Vengeance

  1. I think “Colorado Kid” is in accord with your statement that the reality is the most interesting thing hereabouts (on strategieevolutive).
    I enjoyed “Joyland” too and indeed I think is one of the better novels among the King’s latest. It’s a sort of a bildungsroman with a ghost story. But the ghost story is not so important. Very funny. Let me know what you think about it! 🙂


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