Faustian Man and the Mephistophelean Spirit

Mephistopheles is of fairly recent vintage and a late-comer to the field of demonology. He figures prominently in legend and in plays like Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and, most famously, in Goethe’s Faust. Faust was, allegedly, a real historical figure, a necromancer who lived sometime in the 15th century and who had claimed that a demon named “Mephistopheles” was his Schwager, a German word meaning “brother-in-law”.

There is a suggestion that the name Mephistopheles, evidently Greek, means “not-light-loving”, and Goethe has his Mephistopheles describe himself as “part of that power that would ever evil do, but always does the good” despite himself. But it’s from Goethe’s rendering of the Faust legend that many have come to recognise man of the modern type as “Faustian Man”, who has sold out his soul in exchange for knowledge and power.

It is evidently this character of Faust, ruled by the Mephistophelean spirit, that Jean Gebser has in mind when he warns about the “sorceric” as characteristic of both the deficient mode of the magical and of the mental-rational consciousness structures.

It’s this Mephistophelean spirit that some attest rules the Modern Era, and Mephistopheles bears some resemblance to William Blake’s demonic Zoa named “Urizen”, which he charged was the real “God” of this Age.

“Darkness is good,” the former Goldman Sachs investment banker told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power,” he said.

Steven Bannon compares himself to Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, and Satan” , The Independent, November 2016.

This Mephistophelean Spirit is very much afoot today and creating mischief and havoc, as you may have noticed, though perhaps without being able to put a name to it (apart from “the New Normal”). So, let me help you with that by introducing you (if you don’t already know) to the term “Mephistophelean” and its likely meaning as “not-light-loving”.

Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”

Samuel P. Huntington, American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony

If you understand the meaning of Faust and the meaning of the Mephistophelean Spirit, men like Steve Bannon, far from being the contrarians they pretend to be, are actually fulfilling the dead-end logic of the Modern Era itself. They are thorough scions and the offspring of this Mephistophelean Age — the logical climax and culmination of it, in fact.

We are seeing very many instances of this Mephistophelean Spirit, as what Jean Gebser also describes as “the demonic”. I’ve previously alerted you to issues about “Black Cube” and the still not completely exposed conspiracies in the Cambridge Analytica scandal (in which Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer were also implicated). Mr. Trump (who Bannon was instrumental in helping to power) is quite symptomatic of this Mephistophelean spirit, and it is quite ironic to see hordes of evangelical Christians flock to him as if he were the very incarnation of their “Good Shepherd”.

Who and what is Mephistopheles? A clue lies in how he was described by the historical Faust — his Schwager; his “brother-in-law”. This describes what Jung calls “the Shadow”, which thrives in darkness and is certainly “not-light-loving”. But this is also it’s Achilles Heel, as it were. When it irrupts like this (and this is very much implicated in “the return of the repressed”) it reveals itself to scrutiny, even though it is no lover of the transparent or translucent. That’s already implicated in Huntington’s formula for dark power — it risks everything by coming out of the shadows and into the light of day. Like the contemporary theme of the vampire or zombie, exposed to the light of day, it begins to evaporate.

There are, of course, very many in “the New Normal” who are infected with this Mephistophelean spirit which, in psychological parlance, we would also refer to as “psychic inflation” or “Shadow possession”.

It will help to gain insight into the meaning of Mephistopheles as a spirit, and also thereby into some aspects of William Blake’s false god “Urizen”.

5 responses to “Faustian Man and the Mephistophelean Spirit”

  1. Steve says :

    As long as you do not attain
    From out of death: rebirth!
    A gloomy guest you will remain
    Upon a dismal earth.


  2. Yeffen Ray says :

    Planck pre-launch status: The Planck mission


    It seems weird that life goes in at the top/front then death goes out the bottom/back… yes, chilling. He is in the upper atmosphere of love in chaos!


    Towards a New Enlightenment? A Transcendent Decade,



    Google Images
    Or Orwell
    Writing and Democratic Socialism
    China’s 200 million Man Army
    Cup of China TV

    Wonder how much power (unseen) is in the upper atmosphere… https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/10746317/abstract-book-earth-and-environment-university-of-leeds

    The Sufi doctrine of man : Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi’s metaphysical anthropology

    The Categories of Time in Marx’s Capital (Historical Materialism)

    Scholarly articles for Hegel’s theory of intelligibility


    Like Asimov says, there is only one science for everyone . . .
    What if an biological synthetic entity could travel at the speed of light?
    Alien Interview | Talk with Alien / Enhanced Version HD 60FPS
    How would a change of direction be seen at that speed?

    Deciphering the Weird, Wonderful Genetic Diversity of Leaf Shapes

  3. Steve says :

    To speculate once meant to see, or try to see: to put on spectacles and peer into the dark. With all our knowledge we are still in darkness about many things. We need to cultivate cat’s eyes, with which we may at least make out the dim, still forms of truth. We need not only to be serious but to enjoy being serious. To read books – whole books, not articles, and live with them as if they are our friends. There are twice as many eyes as men, and this is not too many for the truth. To listen, listen not only to human voices, but also to the speech of the world, the speech of things, of animals, of the sky. To listen and take into yourself whatever you hear. To listen, and to notice, and last of all, if it is in us to do so, to adore. For the final stage of happiness is joy – joy that the world, imperfect though it may be, is at all. Joy has no aim except to let the world be as it is, for better or for worse. It is feared these days that the mephistophelean spirit of man will destroy the world. But any man has already destroyed it who has decided that it is not worthy of his full and continuous attention. It is older than man, and doubtless will survive us.

  4. Antonio Dias says :

    Very good!

    I’m particularly struck by the Huntington quote,

    “Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”

    I would not limit this to “dark power.” It seems to me to be at the core of any desire for Power. This quote fits what I’ve found as the distinction between strength and power. Strength is internal, whether physical or mental or spiritual – to use these as short-cuts to lay out the gist of where I’ going – and strength is always aware of its limitations and of the discipline required to create and maintain it. Power is this illusion, the Mephistophelean bargain, that cannot but end badly. Power corrupts, not because it is “misused,” but because someone believes its seductive lies. “Exposed to sunlight it begins to evaporate.”

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Generational Cycle of Crisis and Power | Marmalade - 1 February, 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: