Quem deus vult perdere prius dementat
(those whom a god wishes to destroy he first drives mad)
I recently stumbled across the collected works of Seneca (the Younger); one of the few extant Latin tragedians. He was a dramatist and philosopher and served as tutor to young Nero. His father is appropriately referred to with the sobriquet of Seneca the Elder, a father who instituted within his son a strong Roman education befitting a man of equestrian station, a social class just below the prestigious senatorial class. Seneca (the Younger) who just managed to extricate himself from the tyrannical grips of the debased Caligula—the young boy emperor who demanded his execution. Eventually, however, Seneca met his untimely end after having been implicated in an assassination attempt on the then reigning Nero (whether such accusations were legitimate or not is entirely up for speculation).
Seneca’s plays are very much deeply entrenched in themes of gruesome revenge, desire, and madness. His works are of incredible psychological insight. Of particular interest is the treatment of madness and rage within the alarmingly and intriguingly entitled work, “Hercules Insane”. Continue reading
Wagner’s operas and musical compositions were steeped in German philosophy and metaphysics. His politico-social idealism, which was very much ingrained in the socialism of the times, through the liberal movement known as the Young Germans, slowly dissolved and took shape in various alternate forms. As a socialist and anarchist, his views challenged the status quo of German society. Towards his friend Bakunin, he was both horrified and enthralled by the oppositional polarities of such a violent philosophy. Anarchism, in the traditional sense of the term, is in fact a humanist/idealist form of thought. It is with a sense of compassion for the plight of everyman that the anarchist seeks to rent and destroy the established institutions and fabric of society, in order therefore to create a new and improved society built on the new foundations of fraternite, egalite, and liberte. Among the left, Hegel’s dialectic become de rigeur and soon after followed Marx’s dialectical materialism. Continue reading
Suffering has always been the lot of man, and endless pages of human history can aver to no other conclusion. But do Gods really suffer? After having read the final paragraph in my fellow contributor’s blog, my curiosity was piqued by Zizek’s plaintive entreaty for the existence of a suffering god in order for us to change our fate.
In The Rebel, Albert Camus proposes that “human behaviour is based on the assumption that over-all injustice is as satisfying to man as total justice” and that only the sacrifice of an innocent god followed by its subsequent suffering could assuage the agony of man. Injustices and torments of human existence and the plight of man are matters that are both indescribable and unjustifiable, but perhaps the burden of such agonies could be better met with the participation of those on high? But sadly, the God of Abraham, the Old Testament God of fire and brimstone, plagues and bloodshed, is as indifferent to our struggles as the cat that toys with the condemned mouse between his claws. Continue reading
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
― H.P. Lovecraft
To what do we owe the allure of the macabre, the thrill of the uncanny or the sway of the supernatural?
They all arise from the single-most powerful emotion that lays eternally dormant in the human condition—fear. The desire to explore compels man to seek the utmost limits of his environment— the deepest depths of the oceans, the highest heights of the atmosphere, in a never-ending maddening pursuit to quantify the unfathomable. We are at odds with everything in nature and within our spirit lays the worm that writhes inside our soul and eats us from within. Continue reading
Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble”s a ton, or a trouble”s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn”t the fact that you”re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?
–Edmund Vance Cooke
Life is a constant struggle littered with adversity and suffering. Sadly, an unavoidable proviso of existence. Nothing comes free of cost, and hardships provide the potent bitterness that man must taste in order to fully enjoy the pleasures of life. Without turmoil or difficulty life would become increasingly tedious and saturated with the numbing contentedness of insipidity. A man who indulges in his every desire is ignorant of the pleasures he consumes (after all, the last chocolate in the box is devoid of taste and each subsequent piece diminished in flavour). Or as a consumer of perfumes soon finds–the scents overwhelm the olfactory senses, necessitating an opposing smell to reset the inundated nose–coffee beans typically used as a counteractive in this colourfully smelly example. Continue reading