One of the most interesting perspectives I garnered from an academic tome called Evil Incarnate by Dr. David Frankfurter was how one of the universal characteristics of state/civil societies is to redact and rigidly codify the “supernatural” or “magical” beliefs of its subjects. That in and of itself was an obvious phenomena to me long before I read said book — the interpretatio romana, for instance, is one of the most salient examples of such a practice, of the authorities of a conquering state appropriating the local gods of conquered/subjugated peoples and equating them to a Roman god that generally, at best, was a poor approximation, and at worst was complete error and obfuscation of the deity’s original functions. The purpose behind said-practice is primarily propaganderial, a power ploy — the gods of a particular, autonomous tribal people, and the sociopsychological and political identity and freedom of said distinct group that such gods guarantee or embody, are absorbed into or subsumed by the idols of another state. All the juicy bureaucracy built upon tithes and the shows of grovelling/worship that said idols demand in proving your submission which were formerly directed to the people’s own ruler/chieftain/holy men, if not being entirely absent (as in the case of more-egalitarian tribes or bands), are appended onto the cult and treasury of the imperial state, marking the end of a conquered people’s own independence of culture and destiny.Read More »
“Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is…” — Paradise Lost, Milton
One of the questions that unfailingly captivate the philosophical mind is that of the nature of right and wrong — good and evil. This fascination is arguably universal — that is, irrespective of culture, and irrespective of social class, this question of morality inevitably becomes a subject of intense scrutiny to the individual who regularly partakes in deep ruminations of thought. It could be argued as an emergent property of human psychology, this ageless fixation — and its ruptures increase in tandem to the increasing number of people within a society who no longer remember how to “live well.”Read More »
It is not unfair to assert almost everything good in Christianity and its reign came from paganism. The pageantry picked up by the Church in the Middle Ages and which served as the cultural glue holding together most communities over its glory days were variously pagan or indigenous festivals, devices, and customs which persisted even after conversion, and, as those customs go, they were largely “practical,” i.e. they made sense of, and were derived from, the relevant world that is the local environment, local circumstances, local history. Thus comes the rich tapestry of various local cultures, cults, and customs throughout the Middle Ages — remnants or the legacy of those who lived by the “heath” and, as such, its biodiversity, which demands different cultures to live amongst it and utilise it. The Church merely inserted some of its cosmopolitan detritus into it all, enough to draw authority and tribute unto itself while generally not provoking the locals too much to protest the mythical redactions and the extra or redirected tier of taxation.Read More »
Much of the scientific study of human social behaviour — human behavioural ecology, sociobiology, and its various associates — owes a great deal to the study of the insect world. There is of course much to readily criticise such for; humans and insects are very diverse forms of life, much of their physiology and life history quite alien to the other. Indeed, because of a matter of scale — their size — it is not unreasonable to assert insects occupy a world apart from ours. More properly: it is a world within our own, a world that exists within the indeterminable nooks and crannies of our own place of inhabitance, teeming within the countless cracks and crevices of all the places on earth except for its deepest, darkest oceanic trenches, the bittermost cold of the polar reaches, and the intolerable, molten heats of the earth’s depths. Even so, it is a world that is far more expansive than what we know. We live on a thin surface, the edges of a heavily-folded, ecological sheet, our size, tolerances, and senses forbidding us from personally squeezing our way down in to its prohibitive folds, where only little, extraordinary things, of diverse shapes and incredible abilities, may slip into. Like the figurative sheet, once it is stretched out — dissecting and spreading open the countless secret passages through soil, wood, and skies — its true surface is revealed to be an area of unchartered vastness, an infinitude of microcosms among which the occupancy of man winds about as single thread.