Sunday, January 14, 2007

Good & Evil?!

Me & Otto at his 1st Birthday Party. I look shockingly like my dad in this picture.

So, i've been thinking alot lately about Christianity & Satanism & Good & Evil. I normally argue that i don't believe in good & evil, because if i did believe in evil, i'd most likely argue that through their actions, most humans are evil, while i am good. If i go by my definition of what it means to be good, i've met very few actually good people. There are alot of people who give lip-service & intention towards good, these are the people i'd associate with Christianity, but in the end, their good intentions pave the road to hell, which is the road that most of them drive on. While most of the people i know who are interested in Satanism or evil are typically what i would call Good, in that they lead examined & conscious lives. That said, i don't spend time with the types of people are active in the Church of Satan, which seems like an attempt to rationalize & accept the American philosophy of economic & social exploitation.

What really got me thinking about all this was the book i'm reading, "The Spear of Destiny" by the amusingly named Trevor Ravenscroft which is one of these occult Hitlerism type books & re-reading the Hobbit while re-watching the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies. Specifically what i got to thinking about was the idea that Hitler channeled this daemonic power using Black magic in order to have his meteoric rise to power. To me, this really ignores the material reality of politics, but on the other hand, i do believe in magic. Anyhow, here's the thing, i believe that Hitler thought he was doing good, even while obviously doing evil. So, why would Hitler use an evil daemonic energy if his intentions were good? A-ha! The answer is amusingly; Saruman! If Saruman thought he was doing good, ushering in the new age of Orcs, & the Orcs thought he was doing good, after they destroyed the world of man & elves & trees & Hobbits, the world would be good for Orcs & Wizards. Tolkien was a Catholic who believed that the Norse mythology would help usher in a new Western understanding of Christ, which would then make the world good. He despised the modern, bureaucratic, dehumanising industrial politics of Democratic Capitalism, Fascism, Socialism & Communism. Tolkien believed that the best thing would be agrarian anarchism, united under some sort of King. This is essentially my belief as well, & i do have a fair degree of Catholicism running in my mind. However, there are a large degree of people who would describe many actions of the Catholic Church as evil, rightly so. It's much the same with any poilitical system, they argue that they know what's best for humanity, but in their application, they end up crushing those that don't fit into their simplistic & impossible equation.

My Punk name is Sean Goblin, & i always related most to the Goblins & Trolls & didn't see them as evil. Now, to me Goblins & Trolls are kind of the same thing, except Trolls are much bigger & live in the woods while Goblins are small & live in caves or around rocks. They live in caves & cause trouble. To me, that's not evil, that's mischevious. In the Lord of the Rings, the Orcs (also known as Goblins) became evil servants of a Necromancer, they were revealed to be distorted creatures who were once elves & had been tortured & mutated with magic deep in the caves of Middle Earth I always felt like the Elves & Dwarves & Men would have loved to just kill all of the Goblins if they had the time & energy to do so. It was always apparent that the Goblins had the same right to live as the other races, except maybe when they are described as these magically distorted & tortured elves. By making them into perversions of this noble race, it makes it easier to dismiss them as having a right to live. Once again, i see a connection to Hitler or any politician who decides to "solve the problems" & "create perfection". The master race that Hitler wished to create seems like they would be little different than the Elves in Tolkien's world; a bunch of boring bastards.

To me, it is the complexity of the human character that makes us interesting & exciting. If the idea of "doing good" is accompanied by a great deal of "doing evil", intentional or not, it just doesn't seem like you are actually doing good. This ends up becoming a discussion of universal good (Killing the Orcs is good for the Elves) & relative or interest-based good (Killing the Jews is good for the Nazis, bad for the Jews). History shows that Hitler was the worst thing that could have ever happened to Germany & has made it nearly impossible to articulate true German pride or character post WWII. We can look at Saruman the confused Wizard thinking that by siding with Sauron, he would somehow be able to continue his life in any qualitiative manner after the world was covered in blood. The same goes for Stalin & the Communists, in seeking to solve the human problem, they had to smash with the hammer & cut with the sickle an estimated 110,000,000 citizens of their own regimes. Catholicism & Christianity, with the goal of a brotherhood of man & the successful transition of the dead into heaven are responsible for countless evils as well, in the name of good & God too.

All this said, i do believe in good. I don't think it is relative either, i believe in universal good. I don't believe you can solve the problem of the human condition & remain good however. As soon as politics & control are involved, you've made a trade. Solving the human condition is like asking animals to change their behavior, it's not going to happen. More on this later! Let's discuss.


Aeron said...

I have a fairly negative view of the world due to being an atheist. The older I get the more I hate religion and see it for the war mongering hate encouraging thing that it is. On "Cosmos" Carl Sagan talked of religion being the reason we're not colonizing space yet and I fully agree. For a modern example of how religion holds us back just look at what the Bush administration's religious street team has forced on the Grand Canyon -

I'm sorry but when you can't openly admit to the scientific fact of geological formations, there's something seriously fucking wrong.

It's funny that they can't give a true estimate of the canyon's age due to offending religious fundamentalists but it's A.O.K to have a book at the tourist shop proclaiming that it's a direct result of biblical creation. I guess that won't offend anyone but that small percentage of godless heathens.

And I appreciate that religion can help people to feel better about their place in the world, give them a social outlet, things like that. But, and espeically in America, when you're surrounded by so many people who believe in a bad fantasy story that's stolen plots from numerous other religions, it grows unnerving. All I can do is treat it like Monday night football, change the channel and ignore the people beating their chests in favor of their favorite team.

Anyway, something interesting about WW2, my grandmother on my mothers side was full blooded German and was in Germany during Hitler's rule. She was a maid for a higher ranking Nazi and was married to one. I've got family pictures from Germany with men in full Nazi uniform with the swastika band on their arms and all, kind of weird. In fact, my Grandmother said that she saw Hitler during a parade, apparently he was getting off of a boat. She died befoe I was born but told my mother that he had very cold penetrating eyes.

My grandfather met my grandmother in Germany while stationed there in the war, he brought her to America and they married. But interestingly, my grandfathers family all hated my grandmother because they thought she was a nazi spie! No joke! And this hate was encouraged by letters they received from the American government telling them to not allow my grandfather to marry her. I guess they didn't want possible Nazi operatives to have an easy time moving in to America, not that she was. My grandmother while having to salute Hitler was terrified of the whole thing, as I'm sure most Germans were.

And there's my rant....

Human Mollusk said...

I tend to agree with Aeron. The only way good and evil(or bad) makes any sense to me is from a humanistic point of view, which I think should be sufficient to sustain an ethical socienty (and perhaps is a superior basis than the myth of the Big Brother in the sky).

From what I've heard Tolkien always denied promoting any political agenda in LOTR. However, I can't help but see in it an analogy of a conservative petty bourgoisie (i.e. the Hobbits) as the last hope of a world of declininig greatness (the Elves leaving Middle-Earth) which is threatened by a hostile decadent cultures, new totalitarian ideologies and the reshaping force of industrialism. Of course you can find a lot of other stuff in there (racism, fascism, ...) if you look for it.

SEAN said...

Yeah Aeron, i agree with you on religion completely, although i'm still not sure how that idea needs to be expressed. The religious impulse is obviously very strong in humans, but it is also an obviously ass-backwards one for the most part. Atheism doesn't do it for me either though, because i believe in strange things that aren't explainable in ordinary ways. That's crazy about your grandma too!

& yes, human mollusk, Tolkien did deny any political agenda in the Lord of the Rings but it is pretty obviously there. I'm not sure if the Hobbits were the bourgoisie, because that would make the orcs & goblins the working class under Stalin or something. Yeah? A Marxist analysis of the Lord of the Rings ends up pretty crazy. For me, i've realized that the Hobbit & the Lord of the Rings are as close a thing to a Bible as i have, given the young age that i was read them initially & how i read them every other year or so. I'm not sure what this bible says to me necessarily, but it's what i end up looking to.

Luke P. said...

I wrestle with these same questions, though they take different shape.
I think that we often confuse 'religion', or the bible with the "church" ( pick whichever one you want). "The Church" is absolutely no different than the druidic priest-cults of yore, or the sun-god worship of tons of archaic religions. There are many religious people that understand that we do not need 'churches' in the form we have them; religion should be a dynamic, human affair that cannot be brokered by man. In effect, you cannot manufacture a true 'church'- a church taks shape out of a movement and dissolves just as quickly.
Bush is not a religious person, or a follower of the Bible, he is a tool of certain churches and uses certain churches for his political benifit, just like any third-rate Ceasar.
I didn't believe in Good and Evil for a long time, but was never fully satisfied with my understanding of this concept. I do believe in good and evil now.The only satisfactory definitions I've read- and I read them recently, in Northrop Fryes' amazing book on the work of William Blake, FEARFUL SYMMETRY- is this : 'The essence of Evil is Bondage". Any human actions that in effect keep others in bondage is evil. This includes, most apparently, the military-industrial complex ( WTO, CFR, The Federal Reserve, ) that feels they have the authority and the scientistically-derived 'divine' right to manipulate and force society and culture into whatever direction they choose.
It denies the inherent capacity of all men to be self-determinate and ( though the word has been polluted) "free". The only way to make for this is to recognize in each and every individual a divine right to exist.
I'm currently working on a couple of essay-like responses to articles I read at that synthesis site you linked to a while back.The article in question promotes this mythical ideal ( a perfection on earth) of "Transhumanism" and uses a form of ecological fascism to back it up. I's all corrupt, hateful stuff that essentialy legitimates a future form of tyranny.
You can see the behavior of these false churches reflected in the behavior of secular-humanist organizations; the desire to control, to manufacturee an earthly apotheosis, to make the Earth "perfect". Tyranny wears a lot of diffferent masks.

Noah Berlatsky said...

It's funny that you're talking about Christianity and the Lord of the Rings. I've been watching the Peter Jackson movies too, and it seems to me that their main failing is that the writers clearly didn't understand or want to explore the Christian elements in the book. In the books, the story is as much about the purifying power of suffering and weakness as it is about fighting tyranny. Carrying the ring is a burden (a cross) and Frodo is ennobled, even spiritualized by it — he throws away his sword at one point, and is shown deliberately eschewing violence; he has the ability to predict the future; he advocates mercy, etc. In the film, though, the ring is just turned into a drug, and Frodo becomes a kind of addict — his task makes him weaker, not stronger (for instance, he believes Gollum's lies and sends Sam away; something that doesn't -- and couldn't -- happen in the book, where Frodo is consistently portrayed as extraordinarily wise.)

Not sure quite where this goes — but I do think that Christianity (and traditional religions) do have important insights into good and evil. Evangelicals are easy to kick, but I'm personally often more enraged at new age folks -- the philosophy just seems to lack a certain tragic/bloodthirsty realism that exists in Christianity in spades. Anyway, much as I like the movies, the Lord of the Rings is better when it's Christian. Of this I'm sure.

Luke P. said...

Agreed. The film are a secular humanist reading of LOTR , for sure. I'm not sure if this was a concious choice or not though.

Noah Berlatsky said...

I suspect it was more not being interested/not getting the Christian themes that did it, rather than consciously deciding to excise them.

Luke P. said...

I think that's probably right.