Posts Tagged: evil


9
Dec 19

Extraterrestrials Decide What Should be Done with the Dominant Species of Inhabited Planet 38790

“Isn’t it too early to despair of Inhabited Planet 38790, Inspector 71,844? Most early civilizations are barbaric. They engage in the sort of unfortunate things confused infants do if unattended in a room filled with dangerous objects. Tragedy ensues. Eventually these creatures will either go extinct — most civilizations destroy themselves — or evolve to something saner, and more adult. I see no reason to put them out of their misery yet. They may grow up.”

“Simple barbarism isn’t the problem, Supervisor 9,221! Barbarism — yes, as for example their many wars, but…let me give you some examples. They’re the kind of species which spawns males who brutally sexually assault females and then set them on fire for complaining — as happened in a land called ‘India’ recently. Meanwhile, a female in a land called ‘the United States’ hanged her two small children, aged eight and four, by the neck, thus strangling them to death, whereupon she informed the authorities they had ‘committed suicide’. She does not seem to be psychotically insane — she said she just ‘didn’t care about her children anymore’. Also, in the ‘United States’, it is a matter of policy to separate innocent offspring from their desperate migratorial parents, when the family is simply fleeing intolerable conditions; this policy thereupon subjects small children to caging, sometimes death, just to make a point about the society’s dislike of migrants.”

“That is a high degree of vileness. But how many support the policy in that nation?”

“At last count, about 45%.”

“Inspector–should you really categorize the entire ‘human’ species of Inhabited Planet 38790 as ‘innately vile’? It is a rather extreme category.”
“Look at that which they delight in! For example, their popular entertainment transmissions. Here is ‘The Bachelor’, a sample of something they are pleased to call ‘Reality Television. Observe.”

[An interval of time in which Supervisor 9,221 takes in several episodes of The Bachelor.]

“But — it’s so humiliating to the female participants,” the Supervisor burst out at last. “And it curries the worst in the males!”

“Yes indeed: the worst aspects of everyone involved — the ‘producers’, the ‘contestants’, and the viewers. This ‘Reality Show’ is a celebration of an utter lack of real self-awareness, and an innate liking for passive aggressive cruelty. And that kind of thing is common in their entertainment. Some of their ‘television’ extols the use of torture to stop miscreants — ”

“But this global culture should be too advanced to sustain torture!”

“Oh, but they not only promote it, they carry it out in many, many forms. Another example of innate vileness: a remarkable number of them also show an eagerness to sexually assault children and watch images of them being assaulted — ”

“What!”

“Oh yes! Many of this world treat the unwary of their own species as prey! They have a surprising number of ‘serial killers’, as they are called, and ‘mass shooters’ — and many humans regard these sport murderers as a form of celebrity! They celebrate them in books and movies and extensive television documentaries; they enable those who enter educational institutions with powerful weapons, so to slaughter children; they then publicize them widely, which seems to generate yet more mass murderers who try to outdo one another.”

“There is a good deal of vileness among them, yes — but it sounds as if these may be problems brought about by inbreeding.”

“We checked. That isn’t it.”

“Well then, it may be brain damage from environmental toxicity.”

“That is a factor in some cases — and they don’t seem to care. They have a very toxic herbicide all over the world, and besides causing dreadful environmental problems, it often brings about severe diseases in users and those exposed, and its neurotoxicity is such that it seems to be damaging the brains of the young at a remarkable rate of speed. But as there is a great deal of what is called ‘financial gain’ involved in the manufacture and sale of it, it goes on unabated. Yes, some of the vileness may arise from various extent artificial toxins but I put it to you that as they’ve saturated the world with neurotoxins it’s too late for them to do anything significant about it. Also, many of these cases of abject vileness are not neurotoxic psychosis; many seem to be cases of innate species vileness. Reflect on what the very populous place called ‘China’ does to animals, especially canines — in a certain ‘Chinese’ city they traditionally torture these canines to death at a feast festival, after which they eat them. They believe the suffering makes the meat taste better! But there is plenty of cruelty to animals in every nation and culture on Inhabited Planet 38790…”

“It’s true that cruelty to animals is an indicator of irremediable vileness in a race…”

“Oh, they’re vile indeed. Consider their tendency to enslave other members of their own race — yes, common among primitive civilizations but this crops up over and over even now, when they are in the Penultimate Stage — they claim to have ended it yet vast numbers of workers are little more than slaves; worse, in many places they permit the forced trafficking of women, even children, for sexual satisfaction.”

“That is quite a repugnant thing to see in a civilization so comparatively technologically advanced, yes. Have they no guiding philosophers?”

“The benevolent ones are overbalanced by those who enable selfish impulses — there is one called ‘Ayn Rand’ who spouted a philosophy of selfishness, the rejection of empathy for the under privileged, the worship of an uncontrolled marketplace, who is widely influential. Many powerful elected officials in ‘the United States’ and ‘the United Kingdom’ are adherents of her vile, soulless philosophy. Suppose they were to spread this ‘philosophy of selfishness’ intra-galactically? It could destroy many of our best civilizations!”

“But — I am simply not certain of this broad-brush categorization of Extreme Vileness you advocate, Inspector…”

“As an example of Extreme Species Vileness on Inhabited Planet 38790: There is a syndrome in which young people try to persuade those with whom they engage romantically and sexually — to kill themselves! And, strangely, they often succeed. This is partly enabled by the tortured psychological contortions arising from a particularly vile and gigantically popular technological cancer which they call ‘social media’. Observe this case in point, entitled ‘Instagram’…”

“Ugh! Please turn that off! I don’t understand…No sentient species can be called that shallow and self-obsessed…”

“Shallow? Very much so. Willfully stupid as well. You know, their brains are, on average, quite capable of advanced cognition and well equipped with creativity. Some of their artistic expressions are intricate and profound. But as a whole the species works hard to suppress its intelligence. The species squanders what it has been given — that is humanity’s hallmark. If you doubt it, let me tell you about their Flat Earth movement — an astonishingly vigorous, growing movement of people insisting their planet is a flat disk floating in space, with the sun revolving around it…”

[An interval in which the Supervisor hears the statements of believers in the Flat Earth]

“What an odd sense of humor they have.”

“They are not joking, Supervisor.”

“But…that sort of thing is an obviously primitive belief—it is infantile! How can they have it in an era of space travel and astronomy?”

“They turn their backs on whatever evidences they prefer to ignore. Indeed, they often spurn the workings of their own brains — they are prone to shrugging off the normal operation of these powerful biological thinking engines, in favor of something that our analysis categorizes as ‘selective stupidity’. They select only self-serving data that sparks in them a pleasing neurological stimulus. The creatures cling to a variety of obvious falsehoods despite all evidence; despite rationality. They still cling to ancient creation myths! Billions of people believe the universe is only 6000 years old! Even at this late stage in their development they take myth as fact and superstitious illusion as evidentiary.”

“I am now officially sickened by these creatures. I trust that’s all the testimony against them you have?”

“Far from it! Still widespread among them is the self-aggrandizing xenophobia they call ‘racism’…Look at this account of an event called The Holocaust…”

“Monstrous! Unspeakably cruel!”

“And yet on a smaller scale not uncommon in their history — large numbers of these creatures have cheerfully enabled genocide. I could provide many other examples.”

“But they should have outgrown racial xenophobia many centuries ago! It has no basis in fact!”

“They stubbornly cling to ignorance — it seems to make them feel good in some aberrant fashion. They also rush headlong into addictions, of all kinds. Besides narcotics, they cheerfully become addicted to their communications devices, to ritual games of competitive low-grade violence, to endless images of their reproductive processes — they call it ‘internet pornography’…”

“Wait — how could they become addicted to that? Nature has seen to it that it is enjoyable to engage in the reproductive process in person — but to stare at it for hours on a screen?”

“It seems to be a peculiarity of their neuronal function. Worse is a kind of constant interchange of something they call ‘conspiracy theory’ with which they pick and choose the data they prefer, and twist it to come to bizarre, radically improbably conclusions. Look at this documentation of their ‘anti-vaxxer movement’. To reject the gift of reason…the horror of it…”

“It truly is vile! But still, they may evolve…”

“As to that, Supervisor 9,221, they have reached the penultimate environmental tipping point. They had an exceptionally beautiful, ecologically intricate planet, and they trashed it. In an incredibly short time they have choked their magnificent seas with waste products so that their magnificent leviathans die horribly of the inadvertent ingestion of discarded polymers; variants of the same carbon-based synthetic now saturate the seas, causing destruction to thousands of species. The concatenation of the unintended consequences of greedy acquisition and barely modulated industrialization, and destruction of wildlife habitat has led to hypertrophic climate change. In places called ‘Southeast Asia’ and ‘South America’ they deliberately burn up their forests, destroying the source of much of the world’s breathable air, purely out of monetary greed — this of course is altering their climate so much they’re about to ‘fry in their own juices’ to use one of their grotesque expressions. They’re so sunken in their entertainment media trances they are scarcely aware of all this. There are those who try to raise the alarm, who extol rationality and an appreciation of the beautiful ecological matrix of their once-rich world — but they are a minority. Most of them are simply…”

“Vile?”

“Yes. In consequence this species will simply not have time to improve. Environmental catastrophe will destroy their civilization, likely leading to widespread famines, and a struggle for resources, leading in turn to an exchange of nuclear weapons — ”

“Good Cosmos — don’t tell me they still have large numbers of that crude weapon of mass destruction!”

“Oh, but they do! They recently decided to end the limitations on them and everyone is building more. Besides that, their ‘anti-vax’ movement will lead to enormous pandemics…They’re quite doomed. The problem is they are taking the gorgeous interlacing biomes of this particularly environmentally rich planet with them. They’ve driven countless animal species to extinction and now they will eradicate the rest. If we act quickly to remove them, then clean up the seas, remove the hideous ‘box stores’ and the other concrete and asphalt wastelands, replant the forests, we can save much of the natural world…What a lovely intergalactic touristry park it would make if we could just…”

“Say no more. Morally and, especially, aesthetically, I cannot bear these people. I will order the ‘humans’ of Inhabited Planet 38790 exterminated in consequence of Extreme Vileness — of course we’ll do a scan of their young, and save those that are not too damaged, for rehabilitation.”

“You’ve made the right decision. I haven’t even mentioned their embrace of situational empathy, often an abandonment of empathy entirely. Just have a look into their slaughterhouses. And they constantly looking for new ways to prey on one another; millions of elderly are defrauded, ‘scams’ of all kinds spread like wildfire. They make vast industries of selling poisons to one another, and then they conspire to lie about it — just look at their tobacco industries, their marketing of nightmarishly toxic Teflon products, the toxic pesticides they allow in foods —”

“Inspector, I’m becoming concerned that you’ve suffered trauma in the course of your study of these creatures — perhaps you should have a session with the perspectivizer — ”
“The horrific concentration camps of the place called ‘North Korea’; powerful nations ‘Russia’ and ‘Saudi Arabia’, where the rulers are murderers; and in ‘China’ the forced labor prisons— ”

“Enough! I will use System 77, which will be painless and quick. We’ll break down their bodies into harmless components, and use them as compost for the natural world.”’

“System 77? That one is quite — ironically, they would call it, humane. Which is a term they use quite casually. As if most ‘humans’ were capable of being ‘humane’!”


25
Apr 18

IN DARKNESS WAITING: EVIL IS DEHUMANIZATION

[My foreword to my novel IN DARKNESS WAITING, for its new edition, seems relevant to our times. And to humanity's perennial dilemma, its persistent question: What is the Nature of Evil?]

Foreword to IN DARKNESS WAITING: The “Director’s Cut”

This edition of In Darkness Waiting has been re-edited. I updated it a little, cut some youthful excess, tinkered with a few sentences and trimmed some slow bits. But it’s essentially the same book, and it definitely has the same theme. It’s a hard-charging horror story—I suspect it would be difficult to find a horror novel with a scene more extreme than the climax of this book—but its subtext is what is most important to me.

Paradoxically, some books seem more relevant as time goes on. Or perhaps their relevance is simply brought into prominence by resonant times. In Darkness Waiting seems to me to be one of those books. Before there was any thought of reprinting IDW, I found myself referring to it, more than once, while writing some recent online opinion pieces. I was writing about the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, as well as the abuse of women and “unbelievers” by Fundamentalist Muslims. How can people stone a woman to death because someone raped her? They do. How can American soldiers gleefully torment and beat and humiliate their prisoners, most of whom had nothing to do with terrorism? They did. When an atrocity comes about, it starts inside the perpetrators. Something happens, in them—a process whereby they dehumanize their victims. Well before the act, the atrocity has begun psychologically—and neurologically.

People are not innately monstrous. Most people can be quite compassionate, sympathetic, in the right circumstances. Yet somehow they can also switch that compassion off—some unknown trigger comes along, and it’s switched off, within them, like switching off a light. As I mention in IDW, Nazis guarding concentration camps tossed bread to hungry, snow-bound birds, feeling genuinely sorry for them, while a few feet away children starved to death, watching enviously as the birds eat crumbs. How can they calmly accept taking part in starving those children, and then feed the birds? Many of these monsters had wives and children they loved. What is the mechanism of the repression of normal human empathy?

There are many examples of dehumanization from American history. In the book The Plutonium Files by Pulitzer Prize winner Eileen Welsome, we learn that in the 1940s thousands of powerless Americans–blacks, institutionalized children, the poor, prisoners, soldiers— were deliberately exposed to plutonium, often in injections, as part of experiments essentially designed to find ways to protect the experimenters from deadly radiation. The researchers worked for the government, on military grants (all done in secret), to try to find ways to protect the developers of nuclear weapons from radiation. So they injected radioactive particles into people; they gave hundreds of children radioactive iron particles, spoonfed to them in oat meal, and then, quite dispassionately, they monitored the health of experimental subjects–eventually, their deterioration–in this effort to protect their own kind. They dehumanized their subjects for the sake of their own survival; to find ways to protect them, the researchers, and people like them, from radiation, at the expense of powerless Americans–who were never told what was happening to them. President Clinton appointed a committee to look into these allegations, and the committee reported its shocking conclusions on the very day that the OJ Simpson trial concluded–perhaps so that the story would be buried in the press, as in fact it was.

In my online piece I wrote: I again call for scientific research into the psychological and neurological mechanism of dehumanization. We need to realize that it’s integral to human behavior–and only through understanding it can we find ways to overcome it.

It is perhaps significant that the original title of this novel was Insect Inside. If we are not careful to make conscious choices, we become insects, inside.

In Darkness Waiting is an entertainment. If you like horror, I think there’s a good chance you’ll find it damned entertaining. (Or should that be “entertainment for the damned”?) But it’s also about something that honestly troubles me. It’s also about real life. Yes: all-too-real life. I gave the phenomenon a name in the book. E.S.S.: Empathy Suppression Syndrome. That clinical label was a strategy to promote the notion that we need to engage in a whole new level of what Gurdjieff and the Buddhists call “self-observation.” We need to observe ourselves as a species, with new objectivity, or we’ll never understand the nature of evil.

And if we don’t understand it, we have no hope of standing against it.


15
May 16

Does God Exist? Yes and No

When people say they’ve lost their religious faith, the core reason is nearly always that they observe the world to be a mess, that cruelty and despair are integral to the world–probably to the cosmos–and God does not intervene, “hence God doesn’t exist”. I don’t blame them. They’re both right, and wrong, in my view.

There are various rationales offered to us for the existence of evil in the world–”it’s necessary so that free will can also exist” is one–but in fact evil probably exists because nature simply iterates that way, ramifying so that we receive “evil” (relative to our consensus reality) along with “blessings”. But a “blessing” seems doomed to be crushed eventually, as if it were a happy woman suddenly abducted and murdered: victimized by the infinite rolling of the cosmic dice; by entropy, and the bitter shortness of life; by death.

To me, there is no God per se, but that doesn’t mean there’s no Supreme Being of any kind. The mistake is in assuming that there must be a higher being defined by our childish notions. “The Supreme Being has to be our creator!” Then who created the creator? “The Supreme Being has to have deliberately designed this Grand Absurdity!” Says who? Primitive tribesmen in the Middle East 2500 years ago? “It has to be all-loving and good according to what humanity thinks is loving and good.” Same answer, and that presumption is your need for a perpetual parent which you superimpose on the world.

And these notions of your God’s loving kindness are strange in the context of the Bible where God does at least as much mass murdering as blessing–drowning millions of babies in the Great Flood for example. This same fellow sends billions of people to burn for all eternity for entirely arbitrary reasons. That should have been a sign from the first something was wrong with the whole concept.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no supreme, or higher being. Sunlight can be cruel. Be congruent with its nature, however, and it cultivates you. Darkness can be a blessing–modify harsh sunlight with shade, a modicum of darkness. . .

To me this pervasive, intrinsic consciousness–this hypothetical higher being– has some background, rootlike connection to our own consciousnesses. Then again, it’s like a river one goes to for irrigation– you must fetch out the water yourself, but it is, by its nature, always on offer. Just remember that a river is a natural force that might drown you as well as quench your thirst. The Nile is not kind or unkind. Nor is it a distinct god. Tillich said, the being that pervades the cosmos is “not a person–but not less than a person”.

It seems to provide a mysterious kind of guidance, and nourishment. But it’s not going to listen to your prayers for money or physical healing or saving innocents–it’s for us to save the innocents. The consciousness intrinsic to the universe is beyond listening to us as individuals…Do you hear the individual splash of every raindrop that falls in every storm?

Childish, self pitying notions of its obligations to us merely obscure it from view. And when we look for it, we tend to look with the wrong part of ourselves.