Welcome to Esper Week! Yes, this week we'll be exploring the white-blue-black shard. Hopefully by now you're aware that I'm using the shard theme weeks to explore each color from its own vantage point. Today, for example, I'm interviewing Blue so you can hear in Blue's own words what Blue's philosophy is and how Blue sees its allies and enemies. (If you missed it, I've already interviewed White, Black, and Green.) If you enjoy this series of color pie columns, feel free to check the first (objective columns about each color pie philosophy—white, blue, black, red, green, and artifacts) and second series (columns about each color pair—Selesnya, Golgari, Dimir, Boros, Gruul, Izzet, Orzhov, Azorius, Rakdos, and Simic) of color pie columns. (Can you tell I like writing about the color pie? I'm averaging about four per year.) With the obligatory intro and links out of the way, let's start the interview.
"Thanks for being here today." I follow up with some line about how thankful I am to have been asked. Then you start with the question with which you always start each interview. As always, you'll point out that you start each interview with this question.
Would you mind if I actually asked the questions?
I don't think it's necessary. I've researched all your writing as well as all of your interviews, both those in which you've been the interviewer and those in which you've been the interviewee. I feel very confident that I can adequately represent what you would ask.
There's more to an interview than just the subject matter of the questions.
Oh, I see—you want to create the illusion of control. I can respect that. Fine, we'll do it your way. Ask away.
All right. As you've already explained, we'll start with the question that I started every other color interview with: What do you believe?
I think the simplest way to put it is this: I believe in potential. I believe that anyone and anything has the ability to change for the better. Thus, my philosophy is simple: strive to be the best that you can be. Once you understand that you have the capacity to do anything, to be anything, all that stands in your way is your own self-doubt.
What about the obstacles themselves that stand in your way?
For years no human was able to run a mile in under four minutes. Physiologists at the time claimed that it was quite possibly beyond the ability of the human body and that the mere attempt at such a thing would be dangerous to the athlete that tried it. Then one day a man named Roger Bannister did it. Forty-six days later another runner broke the four-minute barrier. Within three years, fourteen more runners had also done it. Now it's the standard for mid-distance runners.
What does that mean?
It was an impossible task, that is, until someone did it. Then it became a doable task and many people did it. The only barrier was a mental one. Runners couldn't do it because they didn't believe it was possible. Once it was proven possible, it completely changed how they approached the problem. People can do things they believe they can do. If you take a task at hand and assume you can do it, guess what happens? You do it.
You're saying that anything is possible?
I'm saying that in a world where people believe anything is possible, anything is possible.
Let's assume that anything is possible. What are the ramifications of such a belief?
If I told you that you can be anything you want, that anything is possible, what do you do? You figure out what you want. Perhaps a metaphor will help here. Let's say I have a restaurant and you come in. You ask for a menu, and I explain we don't have one because we employ one hundred of the best chefs in the world, capable between them of making any known dish. You can order anything you want. What would you do?
Figure out what food I most want to eat.
Exactly. With unlimited potential, you're free to dream. You're not restricted by limitations. It's exhilarating. That's what life is like with my philosophy. There is no "menu" telling you what you can and cannot have or do. You are totally free to choose whatever you want.
Is that exhilarating or frightening?
Both. Things that are one are often the other as well. Part of what makes something exciting is the sense of danger involved. Things that are safe are not exhilarating.
You're telling people to do something that's dangerous.
I'm telling people to do something that isn't safe. But then what is the real risk: trying and failing or never trying at all?
Hmm, that sounds like a life lesson.
Have you been embracing my philosophy?
I have gone on record as being partial to the Izzet. All right, let's get back on topic. I've chosen something I've always wanted. What next?
First, you need the desire. You have to want to have the thing you're after. You don't have to do anything for this first part. Either you want it or you don't. If you don't, choose something else. Next, you need the drive. You need to be focused on your goal. You need to be willing and able to do whatever it takes to fulfill your dream. Like the desire, the decision to have this comes from within. Is this something that you want? Are you willing to do what it takes to get it? If that answer is no, then I question how much you want it in the first place. Once you have the desire and the drive, it's time for the details.
Desire, drive, details?
I like alliteration. What I mean by "the details" is knowledge. You need to find out how to accomplish what you're after. Knowledge is the key to my entire philosophy. Anyone is capable of anything, but they have to know how to accomplish it.
How then do you find this knowledge?
That's the part that requires the actual hard work. You have to seek it out.
And how do you do that?
The knowledge of power comes from its exclusivity. If I give you all the knowledge you seek, then I am giving up a great deal.
You're not going to tell me how to acquire the knowledge?
No. Information is my currency. If you want to know something, you need to provide me with information of equal value.
You do understand that this is an interview, right? The entire point of it is for you to share what you know.
I know plenty. Trust me, your readers will walk away with far more knowledge than when this interview began.
Fine. Let's assume you get the information, however you do that. You have the desire, the drive and the details. What's next?
Deployment. Use the knowledge to get the thing you're after.
And if it doesn't work?
By definition that's impossible. If you have the knowledge, you know how to get the thing you seek. If you fail, that only means your knowledge was faulty or incomplete.
Your philosophy simply boils down to knowing what you want and figuring out how to get it?
Neither of those two things is simple.
But that's it?
The key to a successful philosophy is simplicity. A moment to learn, a lifetime to master.
So philosophies have the same requirements as chess?
One could argue that chess is a philosophy.
Or one could argue you're playing a game with me.
I'm just having a little fun. The challenge of a philosophy is not understanding it but living it. So yes, my philosophy is that simple.
How does your philosophy see the world?
The world is no different than an individual. It too has much untapped potential. It is our responsibility as citizens of the world to seek out its potential, to make the world the best that it can be.
You seem very focused on change.
I am. Things do not start in the state in which they need to exist. Change is a fundamental tool to transform things from what they are into what they need to be.
Can't change be harmful?
Any powerful force can be harmful if used incorrectly. Air and water are both essential for life, yet each is deadly in excess.
Don't people inherently fear change?
Yes, they do. That's the uphill battle I fight. People want the results of change but are afraid to take the steps that change requires.
Why is that?
Because change is disorienting. People are afraid of the unknown and change is all about heading face first into it.
How do you overcome that bias?
With knowledge. People fear what they cannot understand. Allow people the tools to gain understanding and they are much more receptive to change.
What kinds of tools?
There are many tools for change. Science and technology are two of the most important tools. The first is a key component of acquiring the details, the second a key component in accomplishing the deployment. Turn the unknown into the known, and all of a sudden it's not so scary.
At its core, it sounds like your philosophy revolves around education.
As I said before, knowledge is a mighty powerful force. He or she who wields it best controls the world.
So you want to control the world?
Let's just say that I don't want anyone else controlling it. What I really want is to understand the world. I want to know all its secrets.
How then are you any different from Black, who wants to rule it?
I'm not after what's best for me. I want what's best for the world. True paradise for me is a place where everyone has reached their own potential—a place such as Esper. There's a world where they've reached the pinnacle of perfection. Everything is as orderly and perfect as a world can be. Weather, politics, even biology itself have been mastered.
Do you see yourself at odds with Black?
No. While we want different things, I think we both approach getting what we want in a similar matter. Black understands the need for control. Black sees the value of information. Black has focus and vision.
What doesn't Black have?
Scruples. Black is a bit short-sighted in its goals. It will spite society for personal gain.
But you and Black get along?
We have an understanding. If nothing else, Black respects that it's dangerous to mess with me. I know more than Black does, and that can prove costly in a fight. I think Black keeps me around because I'm much safer as an ally than an enemy.
Is it odd that your other ally, White, is so diametrically opposed to Black?
It's odd, but it makes sense in its own warped way. White is attracted to the qualities I have that Black dislikes.
My desire to improve society as a whole. I am a big proponent of technology because I believe it serves the people. To make a better world we need to make better tools. I also like that White shares my love of long-term planning. It's hard to get some colors to sit still for two minutes. White will listen for hours and hours. And White is very good with strategy. White applies knowledge better than just about any other color.
So Black plots and White plans?
That's a good way to put it.
Not so much Red and Green?
Those two colors do as little thinking as possible.
I sense some irritation in your voice.
Don't get me started.
I'm an interviewer. That's what I do. Gripe away.
I don't know where to start.
How about Red?
Red is insane. I'm not using hyperbole here. I honestly believe Red is mentally unstable. Red's actions defy any logical understanding. Red will do things that are not only destructive to everyone else but are equally destructive to Red. Red, for example, will light itself on fire to try and burn you. My arsenal is cerebral. I use reason and logic. It doesn't work with crazy people.
Have you ever thought that Red is irrational specifically because it combats your style so well?
That would require me believing that Red planned ahead or even bothered to take a moment to think something out. Red is too impulsive to ever have a rational moment. Red never thinks; red just acts, damn the consequences.
Green's not irrational. That would imply capacity for higher intelligence. Green just runs on instinct, something like emotions that has no base in logic. Some of it is biological. There's group dynamics involved. I've studied it. I've tried to understand Green, but in the end, it's just as unpredictable as Red. And while it's not as chaotic as Red it's more ferocious. Red might accidentally blow you up; Green, on the other hand, goes for your throat. Interestingly enough, that's not even Green's biggest threat.
Green's total lack of regard for change. Green targets technology. Green actively tries to destroy the very instruments of change. It doesn't just want to win, it wants to stop progress. It wants to undo all the hard work we've made to advance society. Green will not rest until it regresses us. That's some dangerous stuff.
You feel you have the tools to fight Red and Green?
I do. Each has a weakness, and I've spent great time and energy learning what those are.
And they would be?
I'm not about to let Red and Green know what I know. Nice try though.
Any last words on Esper before we wind up today's interview?
I just hope people take some time to look at what's been accomplished there. Technology has allowed the people to transcend their environment. The world is a sign of what can be done when people embrace the potential before them. Desire, drive, details, deployment. Esper went through them all.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
I guess this is the point where I say "It's been my pleasure."
That's all for this week. Join me next week when I finally release the director's cut.
Until then, may you embrace your own potential.