As you may know, my interpretation of Forever Knight
considers the power of hypnotism perhaps the most insidious, corrosive temptation of Nick's vampirism. Unlike his supernaturally enhanced strength, endurance and agelessness, hypnotism requires an active decision each time he uses it. Unlike flying, which is also an active choice, hypnotism is by its nature an assault on another person's free will. Now, often, the storyline unleashes vampiric hypnotism strictly on the dangerous and depraved, or makes hypnotism the only choice to save a life in a certain situation; sometimes, it is employed on a smaller scale, to cause sleep or dull pain; occasionally (as with Tawny Teller in "Unreality TV"), Nick even gets permission before hypnotizing. Other times, however, he succumbs to the temptation to force people to do his bidding against their wills for no good or sufficient reason (as with Schanke washing the Caddy in "Close Call"). Of course this is tragedy. It demeans them and further corrupts him.
Each time the opportunity to use hypnotism arises, Nick should consider whether there is another way to achieve his goal, and, if not, whether his goal is truly worthy of the use of such a power. Naturally, inured by long habit, Nick more often acts first and thinks later, if, on hypnotism, he thinks at all. And that's part of the wonderful story of his Everyman struggle for redemption and whether — "Last Knight" aside — he (and we) may finally achieve tragedy or triumph.
This came to mind in response to an essay by Colbert King
in today's Washington Post, which linked to an old (1992) essay in the Acton Institute's Religion and Liberty
: "Power Corrupts
" by Ben Moreell. Moreell writes:
"When a person gains ... power to force other persons to do his bidding when they do not believe it right to do so[,] it seems inevitable that a moral weakness develops in the person who exercises that power. ... [H]e eventually concludes that power and wisdom are the same thing. And as he possesses power, he must also possess wisdom. ... At this point, he begins to lose his ability to distinguish between what is morally right and what is ... expedient."
Above, I suggest how this recurring temptation harms Nick. Lacroix, though, is surely an even better illustration, from generalship through vampirism, of the effects on its wielder of the power to bend and break others' wills. "As he possesses power, he must also possess wisdom," Lacroix concluded of himself ages past, and never looked back. Nick is still fighting to distinguish between the right and the expedient. Lacroix long since ceased to recognize the distinction, if ever he did. (It's easy to suppose that Janette, as usual, would fall somewhere between, but instead I submit that we have too few instances of her hypnotizing people to place her firmly in comparison... except perhaps to float the hypothesis that she may hypnotize less often than Nick or Lacroix.)
To deny someone the freedom to think and remember as he wills is a horror. Even a slave has his thoughts and memories, surely? Such hypnotism is non-con/dub-con through a fantasy/sci-fi metaphor.
(Each to her own when it comes to squicks, of course! This just happens to be one of mine.)