Apologies for the hiatus. It was both unintended and longer-lasting than I’d have liked. I’ve had a number of things of a personal/familial nature going on at the mo’ which have taken priority, but I felt the need to take a little time to get some thoughts out there into my favourite part of the ether- my little corner of the WordPress.
This morning I was once again inspired by the thoughts of Beth Byrnes, and the issues that she discussed in her erudite and thoughtful post almost led me to write something as a follow-up to some of the things I had to say in the comments section.
But I had already started working on something- the latest in my ongoing examination of the ill-advised tendency we have to define evil as something external and non-human (or sourced in humans that are somehow labelled as other than we are)- and was loathe to divide my attention.
Then I realized that we are really talking about the same thing anyway.
The vilification of that-which-is-not-me. Those we consciously decide to label and demonize.
I’ve been thinking about this guy a lot lately.
To be honest, he’s never really far from my thoughts (seriously- check out the categories and tags over there to the right >>>>> he’s all over the place), but lately he seems to be popping up every which way I turn.
This has been a most interesting week. I was Freshly Pressed (!)- that little thing I wrote about chaos/order– and as a result a whole lot of new folks have come by to visit. Thank you new folks! Welcome! I passed 10000 views- which, while I didn’t set goals regarding viewership when I started sharing things on WordPress a little under a year ago, is pretty freakin’ cool.
I also hit 666 followers shortly after the Fresh Pressing occurred. Even more lovely people- and a number of bots, I’m sure- have joined the ranks since then, but I was really inordinately excited to see who follower 666 might have been. Unfortunately I missed the notification, so remain unable to identify colemining’s own personal antichrist.
That number is just so resonant with me- given all the apocalyptic literature I’ve spent much of my life hanging around- I can’t help but claim a pretty strong fascination with that number of that there ‘beast.’
When I first moved back to Toronto and commuted to Ottawa once a week to teach classes (crazy as that was), every time I passed the 666 kilometre marker (in either direction), I identified it out loud (‘the mile marker of the antichrist’- even though it properly measures kilometres not miles). It was a way of marking the time and telling myself that I was almost at my destination or on my way back home, depending on which direction I was travelling.
I like the mythology surrounding the devil. I like the apocalyptic literature that inspired the concept of the antichrist. I also like the myths of all the other worldviews/religions/cultures that attempt to reconcile good gods and the presence of evil in the material world. These are some of the richest and most interesting stories we’ve managed to come up with from the deepest mines of our creativity. The motifs and the characters recur throughout our histories- literary and otherwise- because they are so interesting and complex.
I can honestly say that I love the devil/satan/Lucifer. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe in the/a devil, but his various iterations are among the most colourful, enduring and often-endearing literary characters out there.
Where would Western culture be without him?
Seriously. Think about it.
No Divine Comedy. Paradise Lost. Faust/Doctor Faustus. The Exorcist would never have (repeatedly) scared the CRAP out of me. That opening line- Please allow me to introduce myself… I can’t imagine a world in which I’d never sung along to the brilliance of that song. The list goes on…
He is us. In all his (and sometimes, her) manifestations. This is the thing. THE thing. All the versions of the devil that we have are representative of potential inside of us. Us. Humans. Not some supernatural excuse for evil as a means of reconciling another supernatural being who is supposed to be GOOD. And omniscient. And omnipotent.
I find your theodicies unconvincing.
To say the least.
So I’m going to start a periodic conversation about our pal- call him (the) Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, call him what you will (just don’t call him late for dinner). I’m so very sick of this vilification of the other as we continue to externalize evil and abrogate our own- collective or individual- responsibility for the wrongs that are done and perpetuated against one another. So very sick of it.
And since I am a cheerleader (Head cheerleader, it sometimes seems) for the need to examine the origins of our recurring motifs, the reasons why we think the way we do, and how we come up with the metaphors we come up with to shift the blame away from ourselves rather than face the internal propensity toward darkness we must continually and actively choose to turn from as we seek to live together peacefully on this ol’ globe of ours, there’ll be a whole lot of hanging with the devil ’round these parts in the next while.
I’ll be extending him ‘a little sympathy’. Tastefully, of course.
Hope you’ll join me. Let’s discuss.
‘Here come the world
With the look in its eye
Future uncertain but certainly slight
Look at the faces
Listen to the bells
It’s hard to believe we need a place called hell…
Every single one of us.’