It all began with mirrors – the birth of self-consciousness as well as the realization that we have been cut off from the great Earth mother, and therefore the source of life. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Narcissus died from the shock of recognizing his own identity. He was a young Greek of extraordinary beauty, but crippled by self-love. He rejected the love of others, and most famously that of the cursed nymph Echo. Gazing at an image on the surface of a pond, Narcissus became entranced with it. But once he realized that the image was his own reflection, and therefore couldn’t consummate his love, he fell into despair and drowned himself.
However, this proverb is far more profound than its attempt at cleverness. All three are actually interrelated and two of them are the dominant aspects of our modern times. The cynic is the average person, having become enlightened, but since none of her traditional beliefs or values are reliable, she sinks in a reflexive false consciousness. The fanatic is the reactionary who, in rejecting the secular wisdom of the Enlightenment, inadvertently recreates a secular version of his traditional beliefs or practices in fundamentalism. As for the troll? She merely avoids the pitfalls of either dead end by transcending the modern times in her utilization of cheeky humor and avoids the sin of seriousness in mocking either caricature. Continue reading Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?
I first learned of the idea of a psychopath in Thomas Harris’ thriller, the Silence of Lambs. Hannibal Lecter was a deeply fascinating character, and all the more frightening because he didn’t look like a grotesque monster, a violent & bloodthirsty beast. Instead, Lecter was a charming and intelligent character with a doctorate in psychology, but utterly conscience-free. His hypothetical existence forced me to reflect and sound the depths of darkness within. However, psychopaths remained only a curiosity until this quarter, when I came across the idea of psychopaths again in the works of moral philosophers. In this essay, I shall summarize the main arguments of Nichols and Kenneth regarding the danger that psychopaths pose to moral reasoning. Then I shall argue why neither passes muster, for they remain trapped within the tradition of philosophy as a meta-psychology, and why psychopaths are potential harbingers of the future. Continue reading Psychopaths: Moral Deviants or Harbingers?
The original seven deadly vices had two subdivisions: spiritual (pride, envy, wrath) and corporal (sloth, greed, gluttony and lust). After listing the new seven deadly vices, I began to reconsider them as a whole and realized that they should reflect some fundamental opposites or antitheses. I decided on two master vices: Intolerance and Hypocrisy. In a sense, intolerance is opposed to hypocrisy because the intolerant rejects external difference, while the hypocrite denies or conceals one’s own difference. Continue reading Master Vice: Intolerance
A former Hindu goddess of knowledge, Saraswati was the daughter of Shiva and Durga. She is credited with the invention of language and knowledge for mortals, and the divine inspiration of their holy Scriptures. Mortals pray to her for moksha, or true wisdom that will deliver them from their mortal shells.
Saraswati’s fealty to fixed ideas causes her to bend all gods and mortals to high standards. Since she desires change in others into becoming better people, she is relentlessly critical and judgmental. Sometimes Saraswati is surprised when others do not appreciate her judgments, although she is quick to praise whoever meets her standards. Continue reading Saraswati
An amorous, consummate libertine who has lived the luxurious life and experienced all sorts of pleasures, retired from the violent days as the former Mayan god of war. On the surface Ekchuah is cynical and jaded, but his sophisticated veneer conceals a sentimentality he has always kept in check. He longs for his reckless youth, and desires it in others. He preys on the younger goddesses, and loves to chase them especially when they resist. No longer entertaining the illusions of his heyday Ekchuah is currently working with the bounty hunter Orcus these days.
The gods wear masks, for they are all in self-deception. They have buried their thoughts deep in order to appear polite and pleasant to one another. The clever ones like Ekchuah realize that they can uphold conventional behavior and spout platitudes entirely in line with the orthodoxy, at no cost to their true beliefs. Ekchuah blends in with the others, and is left alone with his dangerous thoughts, discreetly sharing them with certain others without any cost to his reputation. Sometimes Ekchuah spreads his thoughts indirectly, with irony and insinuation.
Ekchuah is notorious for his double-dealing ways. Often infiltrating his enemies’ ranks, and working from within to bring the system down, Ekchuah does not give them anything to see or react against. He has learned that he does not have to fight someone who has what he wants. Hence, he joins them and waits for the perfect moment to stage a coup d’état.
Instead of revealing his position publicly that informs the opposition of his intentions, Ekchuah suppresses his desires to act out hostilities. Whosoever gains in publicity and feels good about expressing themselves openly loses in a reduction of their ability to inflict true damage.
He appears on the enemy’s side where he gathers valuable information (weaknesses or incriminating evidence). Subtle maneuvers such as distributing false information or persuading the enemy into self-destructive behavior result in untold damage far greater than any outside attacks could produce. By ostensibly playing the part of a loyal enthusiast, Ekchuah’s true and hostile intentions are easily concealed. Being undetectable means there isn’t any limit to the destructive powers in Ekchuah’s grasp.
“…a single-minded pursuit of flagons, feasts, and fornication.”
Known as the former roman god of the underworld and an erstwhile punisher of broken oaths. He used to represent the evil and punishing side of Pluto (roman god of wealth) and tormented evildoers in the afterlife. His power is often limited to mortals, which means he has little to no role among the immortals. Mortals hate him, while the society of immortals often ridicule his position.
Clearly dishonest, disloyal, lacking interest in relationships, but in spite of these vices, Orcus represents a sort of exciting danger, particularly for women and goddesses. Continue reading Orcus
Skuld (necessity, or she who is becoming) was originally a sinister spirit of slaughter or dark demigoddess of death who hovered over battlefields and chose warriors to be admitted to Valhalla, the home of Odin’s army. She also held the Norn position, the goddess of fate, but nowadays she serves as a liaison to Teotihuacan.
Skuld in her long existence, has become a master at the game of seduction, where she orchestrates a game of emotional pendulum that swings between hope and frustration. The ability to delay satisfaction is the ultimate art of seduction: when the victim waits impatiently, he is held in thrall. The bait is the promise of reward (formerly, for the mortals it was the glory of Einherjar) – fundamentally, either pleasure or power – but the promise always remains elusive, which actually makes their targets chase Skuld even harder. Continue reading Skuld the valkyrie
La Rochefoucauld says the least known of all the passions is idleness, yet it is also the most fierce and destructive of all; the evils it causes are concealed. La paresse, or idleness/indolence, is almost as much of an obstacle as self-love (amour propre) is in the search for truth itself. Despite working quietly and sometimes imperceptibly, indolence has the ability to change our lives: Continue reading La paresse, or indolence
What did the cannibal say to the other cannibal when they were eating a clown? “Does this taste funny to you?”