Lazarenko (born 1280) is an artist, literary critic, writer, educator, politician, and Imperial Councillor in Trellech. He has held the position of Imperial Councillor for the Raising of Culture and Development of Virtue since the post was created 1343. This position is commonly referred to even in official publications as Minister of Enlightenment, a term which has become synonymous with Lazarenko personally.
Born in 1280, Lazarenko’s father and grandfather were both soldiers under King Alfred, and due to his father’s early death, his mother was eligible for a generous state pension. After his mother’s death, the young Lazarenko was adopted under Alfred’s Codex of Honour at age 15 by a senior civil servant during the reign of King Michael. As such, Lazarenko is often cited as a successful example of an Honour Baby.
Education and Early Career
Having finished most of his schooling at the time of his adoption, Lazarenko had an extremely secure position during his youth. As a guaranteed recipient of his father’s pension when he came of age – and as the ward of a civil servant – the youth felt able to explore hobbies and cultivate further talents. He received tuition in sculpture and in verse writing, and began to prolifically produce poetry. It was during this time that Lazarenko began to publish under his famous mononym.
Some have suspected that this marks the time in which Lazarenko first aspired to hold a great office of state. His adoption of a pseudonym – a necessity for top-level ministers – prevented the publication of works under his true name from being an obstacle to taking office later. Lazarenko has always denied this was the case, and insists that his chosen pseudonym was purely down to aesthetics. Regardless, Lazarenko secured a junior position in what was then the Ministry of Culture shortly after his first collected work of poetry was published. He later moved on to painting and even exercised his training as a sculptor, while publishing critical pieces in the press alongside his work in the Ministry. His infamous work ethic earned him the unflattering nickname “The Mule” – a name he sarchastically adopted in Frustrate Their Knavish Tricks.
Rise to Prominence
After the reign of King Michael concluded, Lazarenko was instrumental in streamlining the chaotic bureaucracy. His extensive personal connections in the press and in the world of the arts made him uniquely qualified for the position, and in 1343 he established one of the first Imperial Councils – for the Raising of Culture and Development of Virtue. This remarkable body absorbed the former ministries of Education, Culture, Information into one bureaucracy with one set of policy guidelines, penned by Lazarenko himself.
Since the Council was assembled, Lazarenko has been instrumental in enforcing a coherent aesthetic across the Empire’s varied institutions. This includes, but is not limited to, the Palzi Gallery, the University of Forms. and the College of Artificers. Lazarenko’s involvement in the destruction of the latter has been an especially heated point of controversy. The Minister’s only public comment to date on the massacre has been to describe it as “a tragic and unnecessary lapse of judgement – a warning to Magi everywhere about the terrible, irreversible consequences of hubris.”
In a more detailed expansion on the philosophy he governs by, Lazarenko has stated that beauty is “the most profound possible way of making manifest the awe, the intricacy, the fundamental truth and worthiness, of the First Band. Art allows ideas and principles to compete in the purest possible way – there is violence, yet there is none; there is grace, but only where the eye permits itself to see; there is understanding, but only in exchange for introspection. Art is the quintessence of civilisation’s bounty, and none should experience a moment of hesitation when an opportunity arises to give one’s life for beauty.”
As one of only four Imperial Councillors, Lazarenko remains among the select few individuals who are entitled to personally visit the Emperor. He is one of the Emperor’s most active and energetic servants, even at age 87.