How DO you get rid of Pazuzu?

Well.

Hello again.

Recently, I’ve been on something of a hiatus/sabbatical/terrible-and-extended-period-of-complete-and-total-writer’s-block. It wasn’t planned, and it has been hard to get back into my regular cole-like round of thinking and writing about the world around me.

There are reasons for this. Some are practical- I write all day and, as a result, words have become sort of hard to access in my ‘leisure’ time; I’ve been fighting to ensure that insurance companies fulfill their contracted obligations and that lawyers are remaining on top of required procedures and such; I’ve been trying to catch up on some summer reading (too many books, not enough time); and (I have to admit) I’ve become a little hooked on Modern Family (HOW did I not watch that show before? Simple- and regretful- answer has to do with the fact that I was prejudiced against Al Bundy. BIG mistake. He’s great in this show. As are the rest of the cast and the talented writers who bring hilarious and touching family life to the small screen).

Others are existential. I’m having a bit of trouble with the current state of this here planet of ours, and I keep having moments that tempt me to surrender my Human Race Membership Card.

What the HELL is happening lately?

Fellow humans, you are CHEESING. ME. OFF. (slight tangent- why ‘cheesing’? Cheese is good. I like cheese. A lot).

There are too many fronts (and I use that word deliberately- what with warfare everywhere) on which we are refusing to act with the humanity I KNOW we can access. Choosing up sides- and responding atavistically out of emotional investment in the certainty that one perspective is the ONLY perspective worth entertaining.

Can I resign? Or opt out? For a time, anyway. At least until some semblance of rationale is restored?

Basically, I’ve been distracted. And neglectful. Maybe a little bit lazy. Living in Ignoresville– like the majority of us- rather than doing something about it all.

Shouting into the wind about these things is draining- and the complete lack of effect is dispiriting, to say the least.

But.  Excuses are just that.  Excuses.

So. In a world gone crazy, I’ve been doing my very best to re-engage as best I can. And doing so has meant resorting to my default impulse- gathering as much information from as many perspectives as possible and reflecting upon my response to the input of others.

I’m trying to get behind the headline ‘news’ and soundbite grand-standing to suss out origins and cause and effect and such-like-things. Among the things I’ve been tapping into most frequently are the myriad programs and documentaries that one can find on the CBC on any given day (at least until Harper’s Cons systematically destroy its greatness). Since it’s the summertime (according to the calendar at least- temperatures haven’t really been demonstrative of ‘summer’- here in my City by the Lake, anyway), CBC radio programs are rebroadcasting some really great shows- and many of them are linked by commonality of topical- and timely- theme.

(Although there’s some pretty fantastic new stuff, too. Anyone catch Jian chatting with Mr. Tom Petty a couple o’ weeks back? Jebus. THAT was a great interview. I might have to say more about that sometime in future- assuming I maintain this limited ability of stringing words together).

After listening to a diversity of shows, I’ve come to the conclusion that best summation of our current messes- at home and internationally- boils down to that old salt, most famously articulated by the poet/philosopher George Santayana.

Amen, Brother.

I’d go even further.  Those who refuse to take the time and effort to learn about the past don’t have clue one how to handle the present and future.

Among the most poignant commentaries that reinforce this analytic truth (as I assess such things) was an episode of The Current that featured and interview with Scott Anderson about his book Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East (which has now been bumped to the top of my summer reading list).

Synopsis? Anderson illustrates that since the period before WWI, the West just keeps on blundering into a region of the world about which we have zero understanding. The colonial ideal- as dictated and perpetuated by arrogance and drive for economic, political and religious power- set the groundwork for the percussive events that continue to ripple, violently, through the region and beyond.

On a connected theme, Ideas had a two-part documentary called ‘The Chosen’, talking about the concept and its origins in Bronze Age ideology and mythology, and how it has continued to shape belief and political motivations since.

It made me angry. Things like ‘Sense of Mission’ (that proselytizing to the ‘ignorant’ of other lands/cultures is not only acceptable, but MANDATED and supported by the ruling powers- religious AND political), the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ and ‘Manifest Destiny’ stem out of the variety of ways in which the biblical conceptualization of ‘Chosen-ness’ have been interpreted over the ages.

It supports our narratives of violent conquest. Things like Divine Providence and Blessed Partisanship. The imposed authority of the Pope and the secular governments (under things like the ‘Divine Right of Kings’) granted ‘authority’ over all non-Xian peoples.

Despite the fact that this Western-centric interpretation of the concept has been discussed and disputed for centuries- notably and quite wonderfully by the 17th century philosopher, Baruch/Benedict Spinoza, who maintained that the there was no such thing as ‘eternal’ Chosen-ness- it persists in our conceptualization of the ‘right order’ of things.

Spinoza’s idea of god was one that is abstract and impersonal- and therefore equally indifferent to all people, regardless of tribal/religious/political affiliation. To him, being the Chosen of this god was something that is experiential and socially constructed- and therefore subject to change outside of its originating historical/geographical/temporal context.

I like Spinoza’s thinking (he also wrote about good and evil as relative concepts. The dude had it going on).

Thematically linked, these two great programs speak to the origins of one of the acts of insanity that is happening right now. Just one. And it’s one about which I tend to speak with heightened awareness of the volatility of the subject matter.

Another, recent, episode of The Current spoke about the media-handling of the current conflict- and whether or not there are biases at play that make it impossible to develop a clear picture of what is actually happening. Everything about the situation leads to contention and accusations against those who hold differing opinions.

I won’t share mine. I don’t, as a rule, discuss the politics of this particular region. There is generally too much emotional investment at play- and that emotion is all-too-frequently sourced in something other than a complete understanding of the history of the region. I don’t claim to have anything like a complete understanding of the history of the region, but mine is certainly more comprehensive than most.

And I don’t see an end. I can’t see an end. Not when all sides (and there are far more than just two sides in this conflict) base their claims and perspectives in ideological constructs that have no place in a civilized, humanistic world.

None. At all.

I don’t often really look at the search terms that seemingly bring people to this page, but one sort of jumped out at me, recently, for a few reasons and raised some questions:
1) Why is someone looking to get rid of a Mesopotamian demon?
2) What, content-wise, in any of my posts, might lead a search engine to think that I am offering advice on how to get Pazuzu gone?
3) Who, other than students of Ancient Near Eastern mythology and/or super-fans of The Exorcist franchise even knows who Pazuzu might be?

Side note: I quite like Pazuzu- he’s a pretty groovy fictional personification of evil- pretty high up there in the pantheon of cool demons- and I’m not sure why he needs to be exorcised.

If, in this case, we look to Pazuzu- an Assyrian/Babylonian demon king- as an example of the metaphorical personification of things that humans found troubling at one point in time (to the Mesopotamians he embodied the southwestern wind that brought storms/locusts and drought/famine to the area), as the metaphorical personification of something I find troubling in this time (the imposition of outsider mores/values/beliefs without understanding of the indigenous order of things), I’m all for getting him exorcised the hell outta here.

But, like all things that stem from those worldviews that originate in the Ancient Near East, it’s never that cut-and-dried. The foundational dichotomy of the area wasn’t based in relative good and evil (as people like Spinoza describe it) but in order and chaos- and tools of chaos were often used to prevent the onslaught of MORE chaos.

In addition to being feared as the bringer of the foul southwest wind, Pazuzu was also invoked to combat the power of his rival goddess- Lamashtu. He is a force of chaos, but as the king among demons he is useful to humanity as a protector against other, different, evils.

Lesser of two evils, indeed. Although he was, in fact, the greater of a whole bunch of evils- as far as the pantheons of such superstitions organized these things.

So perhaps he- and all his ilk- do need exorcising, after all.

I keep thinking about one of my Mum’s favourite adages: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Fighting wrong by doing wrong- and using the tools of ‘evil’- is never the right thing to do.

Something to keep in mind, regardless of which side of any particular conflict in which you might be ideologically and/or emotionally invested.

It’s the beginning of the August long weekend/Civic Holiday- ‘Simcoe Day’, here in TO.  The Caribbean Festival is in full swing, demonstrating, as it does every year, the strong multicultural community about which we can be proud- while we remind ourselves how fortunate we are to live in a place where ideological differences can, generally, be resolved without violence.

A little optimism- and music- is therefore in order.

(Especially if you’ve managed to stick with me all this way- I think the writer’s block might be gone.  Sheesh.)


U2.  A tune about different sides standing together, inspired by the Polish solidarity movement.

Under a blood-red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspaper says, says
Say it’s true, it’s true…
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one.

I… I will begin again
I… I will begin again.

Apparently, the distinctive bassline of the classic tune came about as a result of Adam trying to suss out the chords to this song:

One man on a lonely platform, one case sitting by his side,

Two eyes staring cold and silent,

Shows fear as he turns to hide. We fade to grey.

In times of fear and uncertainty we have a tendency to slip into grey areas- that can lead to actions that reflect the darkness of our human nature and end up desensitizing us to the bombardment of bad news that is everywhere.  It becomes hard to find perspective and embrace the good stuff that continues to happen in spite of the terror and hatred that stem from adherence to ideologies that promote separation and ascendency of one side to the detriment and destruction of others.  Ideologies that are followed, blindly, without any awareness of origin or the political maneuvering that has kept them on our collective human radar.

That lack of awareness is causing anomie and existential separation and is crippling all us citizens of the world.

in the paper today
tales of war and of waste
but you turn right over to the T.V. page

Still:

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us- We know they won’t win.

We’re all in this together.  Happy Long Weekend, Peeps!

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28 comments on “How DO you get rid of Pazuzu?

  1. lennymaysay says:

    Reblogged this on Lenny Says and commented:
    I’ve been keeping neutral position on the Isreal-Gaza situation and sometimes it’s been very hard. But I still feel that it’s the most sensible thing to do, because any emotional investment in this tragic situation does not help anyone.

    Here’s something from a fellow-blogger who’s definitely got his shit together…

  2. lennymaysay says:

    Great post Cole, reblogged. BTW, is the Caribanna still going strong – last experienced it in ’95.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks, Lenny- and thanks for the reblog. Caribana (as it should be called) gets stronger every year. The whole Lakeshore is shut down and the City is dancing and full of colour. Happy weekend!

  3. Doobster418 says:

    We’re all in the same boat, and there’s no such thing as a hole in just your end of the boat.

  4. bethbyrnes says:

    Glad you are back and have to read this post twice to absorb all of it. I will say, I have been planning a post on this incursion of blundering behemoths into the porcelain emporium that is Mesopotamia myself, but family obligations have postponed it. Good thing, as I need to cool off. Right now I am dealing with the voluntary introduction of ebola into our not so state of the art sick-care system and grappling with my own impetus to flee immediately. More on that too, I guess. Thanks for the tunes…needed them.

    • colemining says:

      Beth- thanks for reading- I admit I got a little carried away. Been trying hard to counteract the soundbites of idiocy that are being played out all over the media lately- so I’ve been chained to the radio/internet streams of the programs trying to reassure myself that there are people who want to examine the realities of the situations rather than offer up knee-jerk reactions to things they don’t understand.

      Sigh. Talk about needing to cool off…

      I won’t even touch the ebola thing. I admit I’m no epidemiologist and I really don’t understand what’s happening with the whole thing.

      Enjoy the tunes- and the weekend! xo

  5. I hear you in all of this post, Cole. I too have slipped into something of a meditative state wondering really whether there are any words left to say or ways to say them from me.
    It’s an odd place to be when words that generally mean so much to me feel empty of meaning. I’m hoping it’s a regrouping of ideas with new thought to follow. But not holding my breath. Also, it’s quite a pleasant place to be. Not that it’s doing anyone but me any good but I figure I must be needing the hiatus.
    I’ve only started back catching up on blog reading and, what do you know, I’m not the only one feeling something of a distance from the world.
    Transcendental is all very well I suppose but it doesn’t make the dinner – or it does with barely note of what it’s making!
    Maybe the membership card has been put on hold for a time to let sensory overload settle?
    I’ll now have a listen to the songs posted and hope they resurge enthusiasm for the human race. Music might do what the news can’t. 😉
    As always, Cole, a post that seems to reach out to where I’m at.

    • colemining says:

      Oh, Anne-Marie. I think it’s partly exhaustion but also just the inability to compute all the sensory overload that is making it hard to achieve some clarity of thought and expression. And, yes, wondering if doing so at all isn’t an exercise in futility. Why bother tilting at these windmills when people seem content in their complacency.

      ‘Going through the motions’ seems to be something that a lot of people are doing, lately. I’m hoping it’s just that it’s the summer and we feel able to put these things ‘on hold’ for a time.

      We always have the music- and, to be honest, I have a long playlist of songs that are improving my mood and restoring my spirit somewhat. Might even manage to write about some of them.

      Settle yourself back in at your own pace and take things slowly. Less than two months ’til our visit! Thanks for reading. xoxo

  6. I ripped up my Human Race Membership Card a long time ago. Trouble is, that leaves one in a No (Hu)Man’s Land, still watching the destruction. Maybe someday I’ll find a reason to tape it back together. You’re right — music helps.

  7. The Middle East is a riddle. The best explanation I have read is “The Haj” by Leon Uris. A Rabbi friend explains it by “tradition” and “religion.” I look around at the world groups, including our own government problems,
    and think, “When are the boys going to stop playing “mine is bigger than yours” or “king of the hill,” and start acting like mature, thinking men.” I think it’s going to be an even longer wait.

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    Welcome back. This place has gone to hell in your absence.

    • colemining says:

      Aw- thanks, John. I’ve missed my WP Peeps- and I’ve notice that there have been absences and changes of late.

      Just read your account of your travels! How wonderful- and I’m very much looking forward to the pistachio gelato…

      Glad to hear from you- and hopeful I’ll be more on top of contributing hereabouts as the summer winds down. Appreciate your visits, as always.

  9. Ste J says:

    I am strangely fascinated by The Exorcist 2 for some reason, I don’t know why though as it isn’t particularly that good. Modern Family is great as is Community as well which I get my over the pond fix of when i go around to my mates house who watches all these things avidly.

    It’s good to see you back, I have been reading with interest the general public’s views on the whole Israel/Palestinian situation which is always a mistake as it is so rabid in most cases. It is amazing how poorly informed people are, but entrench themselves to it but are happy to quote partisan news stories and propaganda. I do have opinions on the situation but it seems pointless to enter into discussion on the internet, with so much misinformation about.

    • colemining says:

      Hey Ste. J- I did like the bit in the Exorcist 2 when they were in Ethiopia- other than that? Not so much. Love Community, too- but I’ve been watching that for a while now. Modern Family is new to me- and so wonderful!

      Yes- you can get very caught up in the general perceptions about the situation- especially since the majority of people haven’t examined anything that goes beyond knee-jerk, emotional response. I’m not sure that there is that much point in most internet discussions, to be honest. Which is contributing to the feeling of anomie that has overtaken me lately.

      Just finished listening to today’s episode of The Current about this ridiculous (and horrifying) ‘women against feminism’ meme ‘movement’. Good grief. The credulity of people is TERRIFYING.

      Thanks for reading! Hope your summer is going well!

  10. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I refuse to delve into complex world situations such as what’s currently going on in the Middle East because there is so much propaganda that it is extremely difficult to thresh the wheat from the chaff.

    I don’t like uncertainty; I certainly don’t like being misled; and while I realize that there are situations where both sides can have positives and negatives, I resent being played the fool. (I can do that pretty well without anyone else’s assistance.)

    Reading back over the early events of World War I, both sides used propaganda masterfully, with the Allies perhaps doing a better job. Where that came back to bite them, or more accurately, millions of innocent European citizens, is a generation later, when the Nazi Holocaust was underway. Many in the West declined to believe initial reports of atrocities, citing them as likely nothing more than more Allied propaganda, as in the First World War.

    Today, the media seems unable to decipher the events of the Middle East despite have technology unimaginable even 25 years ago, which again leaves the propagandists in the position of more or less calling the shots.

    • colemining says:

      CBC- insightful and, I believe, bang on as usual. I was reading a newspaper article this morning that was talking about providing aid to the injured of the region, and the language quoted from one of our politicians was so blatantly propagandist and biased I was completely blown away. That a representative of our elected government can do this in our National media?!? I’m still shaking a little.

      I get that politicians have used the media (and other forms of propaganda) since the invention of politicians- I really do. It just terrifies me that we seen to be entirely unwilling to look behind the biases- based, often as not, in economic motivators and the desire to maintain hold of power- even when we CAN do so. IF we make the effort.

      Few see the necessity of making that effort, though. Collectively, our apathy and anomie (and both are encouraged by the leaders of too many business and political systems) drives us to engage solely with irrelevancies or to grasp a single side of a complex battle because we have some emotional investment in one of the players- or in those who spin the best story about the situation.

      It’s this whole credulity thing again. That, and the developed intellectual laziness. I don’t get it. And I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do about it.

      Thanks, as always, for reading and for your input. Have a great weekend!

      • I suspect that we today are an even more credulous society that we were, say, 100 years ago because social media and technology have enabled the masterful manipulation of photos, articles and viewpoints. Too many people think that if they see it in print, it must be true. The irony is, we’ve never lived in a time when there has been more resources available for fact checking.

        By the way, I hope you won’t hold out on providing tips for ridding oneself of Pazuzu, provided, of course, you’re aware of any.

        Have a great weekend.

      • colemining says:

        Yes! Exactly! We are able to check our facts more thoroughly and quickly than ever before and yet people persist in accepting one source (regardless of how spurious) as the ‘truth’. That’s bad practice regardless, but as an historian it makes me CRAZED!

        Lol- if any come my way, I promise I will share the tips- might be a good sideline career. It seems to be a significant problem for some people. ‘How do I get rid of Pazuzu’ came up again as a search in my stats yesterday. So I Googled it (as one does)- the auto-type for the search term(s) came up surprisingly quickly- and pointed to the blog. Which makes sense now– since it’s in the post title and all. Wish I’d thought to look before I wrote the post- very curious as to what brought people here with that search previously…

  11. […] and exemplars of, the sorts of things I discussed in my last couple of posts.  Credulity, and how not knowing history leads one down the slippery slope of having it repeat itself.  For […]

  12. yakinamac says:

    Pleased to hear I’m not the only one having been less than prolific of late!

    I too have been reflecting on the apparent madness all around – partly, of course, because it’s unavoidable in the face of what’s happening, but also in the context of having recently taken up a new job, which involves a long-running conflict between a number of sides. We’re in a place where everyone seems sincerely to believe that the only way out is for someone else to climb down (hmm – too many position-based idioms there!).

    But conflicts do end – no matter how long it takes and how the far-reaching the repercussions, at some point the fighting stops. How does that happen when everyone is waiting for someone else to blink first? Either somewhere along the line, one side puts their humanity before their ego (Mandela – anyone else? Ever?) or the price for one side becomes too great. That’s why each side works so hard to bring the other to the point of collapse, why so much suffering happens before the end.

    And the really sad thing about that is, even if everyone knows it’s true, it doesn’t make the end come any quicker.

    Think I’m going to follow your excellent example now and put some happy music on before someone finds me rocking back and forth in a corner…

    • colemining says:

      So lovely of you to visit! I am having an inordinate amount of trouble getting my thoughts coherent enough to get them out in any form that doesn’t look like gibberish. I’m pretty sure it’s just because my attention and imagination are being pulled in too many directions- but the heart of all the things that have me close to the corner/rocking thing stem from the same source.

      It’s all about the unwillingness to see the other side as we hold on to our untutored and purely emotional reactions to things about which we know nothing. And we seem to be totally incapable of actually learning anything of substance- despite unprecedented access to knowledge.

      In this world of the selfie that we’ve created for ourselves, it’s hard to believe that there’s anyone out there capable of putting humanity ahead of ego. And so the suffering continues- over pieces of land (with or without fossil fuels beneath their surface), over what name to call fictional characters, over the perpetuation of ‘traditional roles’ that feed inequality… it’s too much.

      Considering what we are capable of- the humanity we have demonstrated over the course of our long evolution, the art, culture and civilizations we have created, our scientific and technological advances- it’s incredibly discouraging that we remain locked in Bronze Age thinking in so many ways and on so many fronts.

      Sigh. I think the corner might be calling me…

  13. […] favourite still has to be about exorcising Pazuzu. I remain at a loss as to who might be looking to get rid of Mesopotamian demons, and I wish them […]

  14. […] companies that do know all about such things end up in the spam folder and are all deleted. I have written about a few peculiarities that have popped up now and again, but I’m kinda wondering […]

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