The Demonic

We need a new way of understanding the meaning of “the demonic” — the application of a kind of Nietzsche transvaluation of values to the value “demonic” — that doesn’t invoke the ever recurring misunderstandings and errors of the past. Even the meaning of this, as in so many other things, has been trivialised and has been rendered banal to the point of incoherence and unintelligibility.  Having voided the word “demonic” of any intelligible or sensible value (except perhaps as “the irrational”), modernity — and not just the intelligentsia — was largely left speechless and fumbling for words in the face of the horrors of the Nazi period. And it still remains largely oblivious to the fact that “the gates of hell” were opened wide during the period 1914 – 1945, as the literary critic George Steiner once tried to describe it in his essay “The Hollow Miracle“.

The demonic, as such, is running rampant again in our midst because we don’t recognise it for what it is.

In the last post on “The Occult”, everything that Seth describes there, in the quote I inserted at the end of the post, as being consequential to our present deficit of consciousness (“culture of narcissism”) belongs to the demonic. We can be more precise, even.  The usually jovial “energy personality essence”, as Seth describes himself, became very serious indeed when he spoke of the great sin — the violation of the integrity of another being’s consciousness. We may take that as Seth’s definition of the demonic, and the contemporary model for that is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor.

In an era of “hidden persuaders”, of “perception managers” and “spin doctors”, of the reactionary and the hyper-partisan, of mystification and the exercise of secretive power, this description of the demonic is most appropriate and revealing. This pragmatic definition of the demonic, as violation of the integrity of being, has the virtue of being consistent with the root significance of the word “diabolic”. Diabolic, as mentioned in other places, is the contrary to the word “symbolic“. The “dia-” signifies division; “bolon” means “to throw” (whence our word “ball” or “bolero”). Together, dia– and bolon mean to throw obstacles in the way of, or to wound. But the fuller significance of that can only be interpreted in relation to its contrary meaning in the word “symbolic”, which means “to bring together” — to integrate or to heal.

And there, too, you have the fundamental theme — the “golden thread” — of all of William Blake’s art and poetry. His demonic Zoa “Urizen“, one of the aspects of the fallen fourfold human,  is equally Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor”.

When the demonic or diabolic is thus properly interpreted, then the wrath of Jesus against the scribes and Pharisees and their duplicities becomes fully intelligible.

13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.… (Matthew 23:13-15)

Sadly, we still live with these same “scribes and Pharisees” — those who know the letter but not the spirit and therefore perpetuate and enforce the condition of disintegration. Today, however, they often call themselves “Christians”.  Today, our own “scribes and Pharisees” are called “perception managers”, and they throw obstacles in the way by confounding reason and obstructing the clarity of our perception. This is the Age of Reason turning round and beginning to devour itself, just as Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor represents a Christianity that turns round and devours itself.

Dualism in thinking thus belongs to the demonic, because it is the signature of the divided self — of living in a condition of self-contradiction. Once you penetrate to the understanding of the diabolic and symbolic modes of reason and perception, then you will understand why the serpent’s tongue is represented as forked, while the tongue of Jesus is represented as a two-edged sword.  As Omar Khayyam put it: “only a hair separates the false from the true”, and although the forked-tongue and the two-edged sword merely appear the same, they are contrary in meaning as diabolical and symbolical are contrary in meaning, or as self-contradiction and paradox are contrary in meaning, or the literal and the spiritual.

“Symbolic thinking” is part of the new metanoia or integral consciousness (some are calling this “pattern recognition”), or consciousness of wholes. This is the exciting thing we should recognise in embryo in quantum mechanics, epigenetics, ecology, in “the holographic universe”, in Blake, even in Picasso. It is the emergence of an integrating or symbolic thinking, which is a peace-making mode of thinking, that seeks to heal the fury of a wounded and divided existence.  This symbolic mode of apprehension — of perceiving wholes — is what Jean Gebser calls “aperspectival consciousness” (although it too can be perverted).

In our time, in fact, it has become a matter of survival. The consequences of not gaining insight into the demonic and failing to effect a counter-dynamic to the demonic, will be catastrophic, since the entire thrust of the demonic is towards nihilism (which is the theme of Yeats’ poem The Second Coming).


13 responses to “The Demonic”

  1. alex jay says :

    Mentioning “fork tongues” and the “diabloical”, this piece by Chris Hedges might be of interest:

  2. abdulmonem says :

    We are all students in the school of God, the school that contains all kind of free curriculum . In the school there are two types of teachers, one type we can call warriors against god and truth, the violators of the integrity of another being consciousness, the other type are those warriors that fight for god and truth ( I think in all scriptures god is called the truth). The human can not change the set up, but what he can do is to join either types, for me I join Christ and be a warrior against the scribes and pharisees, the hypocrites of our present world.It is said that the human will never rebel until he becomes conscious and that despotic government as fungus grows out of a corrupt civil society, that is why most of the activists call for non-compliance with the system that violate the truth. I like to thank Alex for the valuable article which shares into the pain of Scott.

  3. abdulmonem says :

    I read, The frontier is closed, get over it .It reminded me of a play I read long time ago called Stop the world , I want to get out and was surprised to find no comment, but I was relieved to find that the article gives support to my last comment on The ironic reversal.

  4. LittleBigMan says :

    “The demonic, as such, is running rampant again in our midst because we don’t recognise it for what it is.”

    Yes, because when this demonic acts in our favor, many tend to remain silent. Family and kids and close friends, for example, and the blowback that speaking the truth and standing against the diabolic will have on them would dissuade vast many to take on the demonic, even if they recognize it I see little confirmations of this everyday.

    And how many stood up for any one of us and helped us up when we were struck down by injustice? The answer to this question would also surely complicate things when there is the desire to enlist the support of the masses to fight the demonic.

    The virus of the demonic is here to stay. And for good reason. As don Juan mentioned and I paraphrase “The universe is a hostile place,” and as Seth mentioned and I paraphrase “We are here for our training.” Indeed. Our training to deal with hostility that is partly responsible for the development of our consciousness.

    The fight against fascism seems to have vaccinated great powers against some demonic behavior. But like the whooping cough vaccine, whose efficacy wears off over time, the effects of this vaccine seem to be wearing off, too.

    • Scott Preston says :

      The fight against fascism seems to have vaccinated great powers against some demonic behavior.

      More than likely, they took the virus into themselves

      I could multiply such references indefinitely.

      • Scott Preston says :

        In regards to the American Conservative article on Michael Ledeen, I shouldn’t, I think, have to point out the irony of an admirer of fascism holding the “Freedom Chair” at the American Enterprise Institute.

        Such is “the new normal”.

        • LittleBigMan says :

          And Wernher von Braun being the popularized example that I always remember of those Nazi scientists who were allowed to continue their work with full support in America.

          So, the demon of fascism, went into a sort of an hibernation after 1945, where the heart kept beating (in America via these scientists) and the blood was allowed to flow through the veins, but on the surface – street level – the beast was kept in its sleep mode.

          “Reagan wanted to know about Ambros and he wrote to his national security adviser and said, get me more information on Ambros. But even Ronald Reagan could not learn more about Dr. Ambros and what he was doing here. He was told they the information couldn’t be found.” – Annie Jacobsen

          That says much about who’s really in charge in America.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Also somewhat important to understand, in the broader historical context, is that the positions of “New Right” and “New Left” were not post-war developments in the West, as they are commonly represented. They developed during the inter-war years in Germany and migrated from there.

            This is more evident in terms of the history of the New Left, which takes its orientation from the Frankfurt School of German left-wing immigrants/refugess to the US — Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Fromm, to mention some prominent names. The Frankfurt School actually emerged as a response to the growth of what was already being called “the New Right” in Germany after the First World War, when conservatives began to think of themselves (or present themselves) as “conservative revolutionaries”. It was deception, in some ways, because “conservative revolution” could only be reactionary, and indeed the hallmark of this “conservative revolution” was to rollback the influence of the French Revolution and its tripartite slogan — liberty, equality, fraternity, which they countered with “work, family, and nation”.

            In the past, I’ve used the botanical term “dehiscence” for this diffusion of influences. Dehiscence occurs when a dying plant bursts or ruptures and spreads its seeds/spores (like a dandelion). Dehiscence pretty much describes the migration of New Right and New Left to the New World during and after the World Wars.

            • LittleBigMan says :

              In other words, some prominent German sociologists can be dangerous and provide motivation for a lot of trouble. There’s some irony in seeing those who dedicate so much of their lives to the study of how societies work can actually do so much to debase and throw those societies into chaos now and then.

              But it seems to me that real social development – by ‘social development’ I mean maintaining social cohesion in the face of mounting scarcity and calamities – is neither entirely reactionary or progressive. What works can be a mixture of the two plus whatever else that might emerge as our new organic understanding (whatever which is not force-fed or conveyed to us through the perception management) about ourselves grows.

              But again, we have the elite to worry about, who because of their access to material wealth, weapons, and a will to force the creation of new realities can bring humanity to its knees – or at least change the trajectory of its normal and sensible development. This the elite have already done extensively in the Middle East and Africa since their discovery of how rich these regions are in terms of their natural resources.

              It’s natural to have those who lead. But when leadership is reserved for those kiss-ass individuals who cherry-pick and adopt social philosophies that best suit the monopoly of the elite, and disseminate those norms via perception management, that’s when we are pushed further down the abyss.

              Yes…..”Only a God can save us now.” Although, I call it “climate change.” A “pole shift” would be the answer to my prayers.

  5. alex jay says :

    “Living in a condition of self-contradiction”, “ironic reversal”, “demonic”, “fork tongue”, “scribes and pharisees” etc …

    Don’t know whether to laugh or cry … all of the above can be summed up in the following unbelievable retort on Russia’s response to the Ukraine situation from Mr. “Swift Boat”:

    “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” John Kerry said during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. “This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behaviour in the 21st century.”

    “Beam me up Scotty!”

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. It’s almost amusing. But it’s part of “the new normal” that one is barely conscious of one’s own duplicities and self-contradictions or, if conscious of them, is indifferent to them and shrugs them off. Integrity is just oh, so…. “whatever”… “old school.”

      This is what I’m referring to when I speak of “delirium” or a “delirium of nihilism”. If the Age — Late Modernity — is conscious at all of its duplicities and self-contradictions and the implications of this, it is only through a few sensitive souls who have remained marginal figures ie, the proverbial “voice crying in the wilderness”, or otherwise some vague half-conscious sense of discomfort and malaise with the times.

      In some ways, this self-contradiction belongs to the Age itself, and is merely enacted and performed through individuals and groups. Ages of transition are like that. “Time makes hypocrites of us all”, as the saying goes, and some have compared such times to being akin to crucifixion, or sitting on the edge of a razor blade.

      To say that consciousness is in crisis is to say it is in transition, and to say that this transition is from Newtonian to Quantum consciousness is just a short-hand way of representing a far greater dynamic at work.

      The decadence and waning of the Middle Ages offers precise parallels with our own time in terms of “delirium”. The same symptoms are evident, and we can learn a good deal from studying that time. Unfortunately, it was bloody hell. But it was also a highly creative time for those who consciously bore the self-contradictions of that age. The majesty of a Shakespeare or a John Donne — both highly conscious that “the times are out of joint” — are exact exemplars of that “enlightened ego consciousness” attempting to organise new cultural patterns in the face of the irruption of the “ancient force” — to bring order to the chaos.

      But they had to experience that chaos and the contradictions in themselves — consciously. That’s the key. It is somewhat akin to what Nietzsche wrote — “one must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star”. Nietzsche is also one of those who, somewhat prematurely, felt the contradictions of the Modern Age — Gebser’s “irruption” and Seth’s “ancient force” (for what is the Dionysian but that?) — and lived it through and lived out its consequences.

      That’s what is so interesting about Nietzsche, far more than his “solutions”. He lived the self-contradictions of our times in advance of their eruption. That’s what makes his work prophetic. That’s why he referred to himself as “the crucified one”. He is a contrary type to the “objective attitude” that seeks to insulate and protect itself from “contamination” by the world. Nietzsche took the “impurities” into himself and suffered them. That’s why Nietzsche’s thinking is bold and courageous. Nietzsche is also an example of that “egotistical consciousness” mentioned by Seth attempting to organise new cultural patterns to handle the irruption of the ancient force — ie, his “Dionysian”. And sometimes he was overwhelmed by it himself.

      His “two centuries of nihilism” is fully the equivalent of Seth’s warning about our failure to handle, in an enlightened way, the irruption of the “ancient force” in our time — ie, delirium.

      • alex jay says :

        Excellent! I haven’t heard “delirium” for many moons (another great word in your lexicon). “Bedlam” seems to creep into my consciousness as its 16th century equivalence: “the lunatics have taken over the asylum” — or updated to Nurse Ratched is in charge (and “ratched” is a term for an ugly, funky, and stupid person; bascially means the same thing as hot mess, or a term for a place or thing that is old and busted (according to Meriam Webster that is). Need I say more appropriate to the zeitgeist of our times and its actors. Still … there are one or two that have managed to “fly over the cuckoos nest”. In fact, I think it is spreading to a point where I can sense we could be on the verge of a “great escape” (from the asylum, not the Nazi prisoner of war camp … hmmm – what’s the difference?). But then, its Oscar time and the “bread and circuses” must perpetuate the grand illusion. I’m still tackling with the idea of whether our current version of pretentiousness resembles the jesters of the middle ages or eunuchs of their courtly predecessors. Still, I’m comforted in knowing that we all share (quantum-wise surely) the reality of Hollywood over the trillion other versions of reality. Did I say trillions? That only applies to fake money not ideas. We have reached a point in history where digitally produced money can outrun imagination.

        Oh heck … back to the point — “delerium”:

        How fitting for a farming man – among many of your other talents – to choose “delerium”. I recall, according to Livy, the senators found Cincinnatus while he was plowing on his farm to get back to the senate and save the Republic, since “delirium” comes from the Latin “delirare” to be crazy, literally, to leave the furrow (in plowing), from de – lira (furrow).

        Was Cincinnatus crazy leaving his farming duties? And why have the Italians abandoned the “lira” (the furrow) for the globalist pyramidal ponzi scheme? And every other country …, therein lies the question of stupidity, mental indolence, or conspiracy – probably all three?

  6. abdulmonem says :

    The demonic is part of the universal construction, just like the angelic dimension, the principle of opposites that keeps the life going. These forces are working in our universe ever since the initiation of humanity and never stopped. Darwin changed the divine selection into natural selection and thus ignited the idea of racial superiority and Newton changed the lively conscious universe into dead matter and thus ignited secularism , these moves indicate the play of the demonic. what is sad is that we are revolving no evolving and when we are not evolving we most certainly, are devolving, keep chewing our words, thinking we are progressing while we are regressing as its clear from all comments and the post that ignited the comments. Real progress is in justice and truth and not in the accumulation of material things. Real discussion is not in left and right , liberal and conservatives or their neos, or the democratic or dictatorship, but in integrity and lie ,in honesty and justice in theism and atheism. What we need is spiritual activism under the divine watch and stop refusing to recognize that god send his instructions to humanity to be only just and truthful irrespective of all rituals and traditions.The human can not do anything right without the help of the divine and as god needs the formal support, the human the human needs the spiritual support ,the divine and this need to be in the context of a group that is why we find in the first chapt of the Quran the collective language not the singular is used ,we and not I worship you ,we and not I seek your help. It is a question of faith that there is a vital force that reins, that creates and that sustains and feeds us with knowledge and food.

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