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”.