Monday, 5 December 2011

The pervasive demonic perspective


It is striking that nearly all (but not all) of the mass media output - and also what passes for serious narrative High Art in recent literature, drama, the movies, TV - is written from a demonic perspective.


Indeed, this could be taken as a brief definition of 'modernity' in the media - that phenomenon which got a grip in the first decades of the twentieth century, and which finished-off the centuries long traditions of visual arts, classical music and poetry.


I have always been aware of this demonic perspective, and always disliked it - but for many years I pushed-down this dislike and forced myself to swallow large doses of demonic modernism and media, because this was supposed to be 'the truth' about the human condition; and because most of the 'best' work in recent art and prestige media was in this style, had this content.


In demonic art, the standard by which the characters are judged is worldly: status, power, and pleasure. The successful characters are all evil manipulators, selfish, cruel, insensitive.

Sometimes the whole narrative is peopled by evil characters trying to exploit one another; some succeeding, while others fail and are crushed.

Sometimes there are 'good' characters whose virtue is kindness - these are depicted as weak and self-deluded individuals. They are 'hosts' from whom the evil characters feed.

We feel sorry for these 'goodies', perhaps we despise them, perhaps they disgust us - certainly we do not envy them.

The 'good' characters are the people who cannot see reality, who refuse to see reality; they are those who are preyed-upon.

Thus the demonic perspective: the world as predators and prey.


The message?

You are either an envied predator or one of the mass of despised prey. 

Therefore, be a successful predator and glory in your success; and if you can't then despair.


The sub-text - we are all prey, ultimately.

Even if you succeed as a predator, glorious in your exploitation of others for your own gratification, you will become prey in your turn, become weak and pitiful prey -  and so despair.

The ideal of success is to die at the height of your predatory success, unconscious of the future, when most envied and most loathed - therefore, if you have achieved predator-hood then despair - make sure you die soon, before you too become prey.


The sub-sub text - life is only about predators and prey, but ultimately it makes no difference because life is short, vile, and everybody dies.

So despair.


This is the demonic perspective in which modern Man swims, which underpins media news and soap operas, prize winning novels and award winning movies, which fills the theatres and the galleries.

Is the demonic perspective honest? Is it the product of years of seeking the truth, of exhausting all possible avenues of enquiry?

Of course not! It is merely a miasma breathed-in during adolescence; it is a pose, a lifestyle.

It is the end of seeking the truth, not the product of truth-seeking. 


Yet the demonic perspective rules the public arena, it is what we are taught and what we consume: it is our catechism: it is pervasive, encouraged - and alternatives to the demonic perspective are low status, dumb, wicked, forbidden, punished...


So this is the nature of evil triumphant, merely this; a permanent culture consisting of life seen through the eyes of a demon; a demon for whom only the basest, most selfish motives are real, for whom everything is explicable in terms of eating or being eaten, for whom the ultimate reality is eternal suffering alleviated only by sadistic torturing of other demons.

And this milieu induced not by argument or demonstration, but by reiterated depiction: by millions and billions of instances of the demonic perspective, iterated day by day, minute by minute, apparently each confirming and confirmed by the innumerable others, all drilling us in the ultimate lie that this is the truth: seek no further: suck it up and despair.