Still a lot of personal stuff going on, and it’s not getting any better, but here’s something I’ve been working on for the last little while. Thanks for checking in.
So I think a lot about evil.
Surprise surprise, no?
How many people do you think were truly evil? You’ve probably got quite a few in mind; I know I do most of the time.
The problem is, how many of them thought that they were evil?
Probably not very many. I’ve already addressed this in a couple of my stories, and I think that most people are just muddling through, doing the best they can with what they have available to them at any given time.
This is true for the foot soldiers in some of the most evil regimes in history.
This is probably true for many of the leaders.
Some things that we think are evil, especially from the distant past, or cultures otherwise quite removed from our own, seem unconscionable. To our predominantly white, predominantly Judeo-Christian-Islamic lifestyles, they seem utterly barbaric.
In “The Mission”, the indigenous people are seen as barbarians for killing all children after their first two.
Then Jeremy Irons’ character explains that they do this because the parents can only carry two, and when they have to flee, any further offspring will be left behind for the slavers.
A fate worse than death?
Some people disagree on what is evil.
We now recognize slavery as evil, but the southern plantation owners were not only convinced of the African slaves’ inherent inferiority, but they had the Bible backing them up, with its passages setting forth the rules for slaves from within the nation of Israel, and the separate rules which justified slaughtering those outside the fold, not merely enslaving them.
The Southerners thought they were living in accordance with the dictates of a benevolent God.
Some Christians believe that preventing marriage equality is a step towards saving gay people from eternal damnation.
Even now, there are things that we take for granted that I believe will be viewed as abominations by future generations.
Had a good steak lately?
I have, and I’ll probably do so again in the near future, but I assume that in fifty or a hundred years, the consumption of higher vertebrates will be viewed with distaste. Hell, it’ll probably be illegal.
Does it bother me that I’ll be seen as an unrepentant barbarian? A little, but I’m too conditioned to being a predator to lose much sleep over it.
I’m sure cows see it differently.
Imagine being bred, born, and raised solely to die for the nourishment of others. What if cows have an understanding of what’s going to happen to them, what if, like the rabbits in Watership Down, they’ve taught themselves and their young never to speak of it?
Are you vegetarian? Vegan?
Did you know that mice sing songs of courtship to each other?
Do you know that harvesting combines slaughter them in their thousands?
But what if you were to become food for other beings, beings of a higher order than you? In “The Laundry Files” series, there are beings known as “infovores”, beings who served as the basis for the legend of the Frost Giants, who will bring eternal winter to the earth.
Frost Giants who bring eternal winter by draining all the energy from the universe, which is merely one amongst the multiverse.
An entire universe, drained and destroyed, to feed one of these infovores.
I like these books.
But do the Frost Giants think that they’re evil when they consume an entire universe, billions upon billions of stars, countless intelligent species leaving no trace at all of their existence as their entire reality winks out?
Do you hear the death cries of the yeast in the bread as you bake it?
You may not live by bread alone, and you’re going to end up killing something to survive.
Are you evil?
Is Cthulhu evil? Xe is often portrayed as using humanity, as using reality, for food.
Is it good for us?
But is it evil? How can a cow or a stalk of wheat or a yeast cell hope to understand a human being and its need for food? Can a single celled animal understand Mozart? Do cows look up at the stars and realize that there are other worlds circling some of them, and that there may be other cows on those worlds?
So are we evil, or are those deaths justified by Mozart and the Opportunity Rover and the Big Mac?
We have our wars. we train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their aeroplanes, because it’s obscene. We fight for territory or oil or water or God. I’m a citizen of the most powerful empire ever to leave its bloody boot prints on the necks of the people of the world, and I like my lifestyle. If things were reversed, would all those people we’ve murdered in the name of Uncle Sam treat me and mine any better?
I doubt it.
We’re proud of our killing, aren’t we? I don’t mean the medals and the parades and the statues in the park, I mean the real mass killings.
“What the hell do you mean? I’m not proud of causing extinctions!”
Oh yes you are. Not that you had much to do with it, personally, but you still think it’s a good thing.
Put your Greenpeace flag away. I know you vaguely mourn the dodo and the passenger pigeon.
I know you’re worried about the snow leopard and the polar bear.
And I know if you’re under about forty-five, you don’t have a rough circle on your upper arm, but if you’re older than about fifty-five, you do.
And that’s because that’s the smudged point in time when we declared smallpox extinct.
And we’re within striking distance of making malaria and the hookworm extinct, and if we do, we’re going to break out the confetti and make it snow in Times Square again.
But would it turn your hair white overnight if you found out that Cthulhu was a scientist, working to cure Earth of the disease of humanity?
Depending on your enviro-politics, you might do what you could to help out.
We don’t have to agree with them, but if we found out the Old Ones were feeding on us, or on our environment, we’d probably get it.
And if they were trying to get rid of us to protect either themselves or our environment, we’d probably get it (and some of us might fly the black-on-black banner that reads “Goodlife” in the right light, the kind of light that can’t be seen by human eyes or scientific sensors).
Nope, I think Cthulhu is the sensitive type.
I think xe has an eye for beauty that xyr fellows do not, and xe is preparing for xyr debut.
When the stars are right.
Jack Nicholson’s Joker said “I keep making art until somebody dies.”
Cthulhu, on the other hand, will keep making art until everyone dies.
But it will be art.
So when xyr unimaginable technology has prepared the medium, and the colors you can’t see come flowing through the gaps you cannot comprehend, when your soul flares out like a moth in a blast furnace, in that last moment as you and everyone you know and everyone you’ll never meet dies…
…because one man’s death may be a tragedy, and the death of millions a statistic, but if everyone is to die at once, with no one left to observe it, it never happened…
…may you take a certain solace, however brief, in knowing that something of you may remain.
And that something will be beautiful.
I’m not in any way affiliated with the creators of this video or any of their competitors, and truth be told, I hope to buy a sculpture like this someday.
Does that make me evil?