Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Classic Necro Pr0n (NSFW)



In response to The Ancient Battle Against the Undead, Anonymous writes:
Also, please post links to some of the "classic" necromancer / golem stories. I am drawing a blank
The line of Der Golem is an easy place to start. It's loosely based on the old legend of the Jews who built a golem for their protection, and then the Golem turned on them. A great one in the same series is Homunculus. The plot description is a perfect recitation of the necromantic narrative:
Foenss, a Danish star, is the perfect creature manufactured in a laboratory by Kuehne. Having discovered his origins, that he has no 'soul' and is incapable of love, he revenges himself on mankind, instigating revolutions and becoming a [monstrous] but beautiful tyrant, relentlessly pursued by his creator-father who seeks to rectify his mistake.

Kuehne, like all necromancers, tries to subvert life by pouring exorbitant resources into creating imitative life; the resulting abomination is miserable, and gets revenge. (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, from around the same time, features puppet-like control through brainwashing a sleepwalker--which could be attached to the trend if you wanted to get academic about it, but can be instantly dropped if you need to focus only on the zombie angle.)

The origins of these themes (which we'll see throughout this post) are found primarily in religion and fairy tale, where narrative is used to encode cultural knowledge. Here's an easy translation of Mulian Saves His Mother, which probably derives from India. That type of tale--of a hero having to rescue (or failing to rescue) a loved one trapped as an undead thrall to earthly desires (sins), reappears frequently throughout old myths. Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad, for example, all warn people not to be too attached to worldly possessions, lest their souls descend into (or remain in) torment.



Hollywood, being Hollywood, profited off this theme several times, the most notable being Frankenstein. In the Karloff film, Frankenstein's madness causes him to defile the village cemetery for fleshy pulp which he can use to build his abomination, and the creature then ends up being miserable and killing a bunch of townsfolk--who have to, of course, drive out the necromancer with pitchforks and torches in order to put a stop to the horror.



Tolkien plays upon the necromancer theme also, though it was omitted from the 2001-2003 LOTR movies and only tangentially referenced in the 2012 Hobbit, and casual readers would miss it in his books. Sauron (the big bad guy) is referred to as the Necromancer, who summons up the spirits of the dead and puts them to foul use; he also artificially extends the lives of his servants (ringwraiths) and, by default, those of Bilbo, Frodo, and Gollum, who at times become insanely obsessed by the ring, and are given unnaturally long life as well as phantom pain, emptiness, and reliance on the ring. Consider the 2001 Fellowship of the Ring scene where Bilbo says that he feels like "Butter scraped over too much bread," and Gandalf realizes that Sauron's phylactery has been whispering to the hobbit. The One Ring is addicting, and using it too much--though it gains the user power--results in the user becoming an undead entity enslaved to Sauron's will. (E.g., just as miserable as any other slave-ghoul.)

The Hollywood Frankensteins represent the simplicity of the golem story, while Shelley's Frankenstein is far more nuanced. The Romantics are so hated by neoreactionaries because Romantics explored the nature of being and the inherent value of life, as opposed to the simple sum-based method of profit outcomes. The original Frankenstein appears more about the monster than the doctor (or "the townsfolk"). Shelley's golem has such value because he is given an identity beyond that of the old Jewish golem. He is not merely Nemesis--embodied consequence--but the long-archetypical parentless child, who must live separated from the roots that created him. His life is dangerous existential misery due to the lack of parental (socio-cultural, ethnic, etc.) connection that his handcrafted soul nonetheless requires.

People who believe in "traditional parenting" should easily cotton to the golem/necro thesis, as the genre encodes strong cultural warnings to those who would make or raise children through any artificial means. The monster is dangerous because we created him falsely and wrongly. He's a manifestation of our own selective pride and selfish arrogance, rather than the natural result of our loving preparation for his arrival. We created him to delight us, or to serve some function, rather than as an outpouring of love that was meant to be part of the timeless cycle. The monster suffers terribly, and makes us suffer terribly, and it is our fault for trying to treat him as an atomized unit; for trying to deny the monster's right to be created as part of something larger and contiguous. The Romantics foresaw (as did the pre-Talmudic, actual Jews, the Egyptians, the Greek, the Chinese, etc.) the increasing power of science to preserve dead bodies, extend the existence of the sick, and surgically alter children: and the Romantics asked, "What will this necessarily result in, for both us and the subjects of our madness?" (Freed from scientism, it's an easy question to answer: zombies are miserable things who will kill us all; and, the people who would create them are horribly sick for their inability to see how easy and wonderful it is to make real people who can live long happy lives with so very little effort, comparative to the effort of cobbling together abominations.)

The oldest of the easily-accessible Terran necromancy narratives is, of course, the Egyptian mummy who comes back. Preserving the ancient dead, at the expense of the fruits of living children, results in terrible curses plaguing the land and people who allowed the monstrosity to exist.



More literally powerful is the Sanskrit preta (a Chinese version pictured above)--the ancient Hindu/Buddhist/Jainist "hungry ghost," who represents the sick spirit of undeparted wishes. (Travelers can metaphorize this to an intestinal blockage, in the sense of the consciousness being unable to detach from the material aspect of expression, and so trying to manifest itself there perpetually for fear of change.) Here's a good preta sum-up from the Wiki:
Pretas are believed to have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life. As a result of their karma, they are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a particular substance or object.
Preta are very much real. Humans cannot long survive the burden of hungry ghosts. A march on the old cemetery at the edge of town, where all the gold is buried, and from which the mad scientists draw on reservoirs of terrible undead power, is sorely needed.

The preta may be personified as a ghost who smothers babies, which seems like a ridiculous superstition to enlightened 21st century Terrans...as they spend their entire lives in thrall to massive international corporations which were given fictive life and purpose by men who died generations ago. Children starve to death, and great academies thrive, on the "legal entities" of old trusts, foundations, constitutions, and armies.

The Karloff-era Hollywood Mummy is just an Egyptian-themed golem story, as is the almost identical Dracula of the same extended ripoff era. In both of those films, the cheap eroticism of white male nervousness over Other/Orientalist sexual prowess (and its supposedly terrifying pursuit of white women) stands foremost. When we see race realists or white nationalists now fearing "race-mixing" and worrying about the loss of whiteness, what they're actually doing is channeling the materially-possessive aspect of necromancy. Being afraid of the ebb and flow of the lightspring, they seek out unnatural concepts, like ownership. Propertizing things--a vagina; a factory; an idea--is an attempt to stop the life cycle's flow, just as the frightened wraith's inability to move on causes it to haunt the world, destroy its soul, and hate the natural lives of those who are coming and going happily.

Of Mice and Men operates in a similar way to many of the golem stories, incidentally. In place of the monster, the tale employs a low-functioning person, and a higher-functioning person stands in place of the insane doctor. Lennie Small represents the collective failure of society in producing the "monster": once a safe, productive farm worker, he becomes an unfortunate danger to others' lives when the latest banker's recession throws him out of his functional niche. George Milton, through the analogical lens, is Dr. Frankenstein--doomed to chase Lennie Small through the world, trying to single-parent him through a hostile society, then ultimately having to spoiler-alert him in order to protect him from the mob. Lennie's dreams, like those of the Monster or of a street kid shot by police while stealing two hundred bucks from a cash register, have to be crushed to validate the "the golem wasn't our fault" narrative preferred by the mob.

More recently, it's hard to see this done well. Schwarzenegger's The 6th Day did a surprisingly good job portraying Tony Goldwyn as the evil cloner whose own clone takes his memories, strips him of his clothes, and leaves him for dead, asking essentially, "Wouldn't you do the same?" Generally, though, culture now prefers to idealize necromancy. Vampires become sexy instead of evil; artificial intelligence becomes plucky and cute instead of tormented and rootless, driven to destroy; the human cattle sacrificed to produce the transhuman life are no longer much worthy of mention.



Sorry for the Disney pic, but the pre-Disney Snow White, as well as many, many other stories belonging to the literary traditions of European fairy tales and the Arabian Nights, deal with liches. The witches who lure lost children into the ovens for consumption are the dark magicians who steal the essence of the young to extend their own hideous lives--sometimes, even, achieving a chillingly false beauty by so doing. The children and young people of prehistoric, then early-historic human fiction, are constantly beset by wicked, malformed figures who want to eat them to survive. This is the role of the gingerbread cottages of the world's great shadowed nations: to gobble up children in order to acquire the prodigious resources that can be used to extend and refine the appearance of everlife/everdeath. Bill Gates happily invests in candy canes to push into eager little mouths: "Come closer, my pretty," he croons, "how much lovelier the world would be without you."

(Among twentieth century eastern representations, Final Fantasy VII used Sephiroth, the one-winged angel cloned from genes taken from a mad scientist father and his stored-genetic-project "mother." Like other monsters of his type, Sephiroth became the rage-filled parent-less child, and exacted terrible vengeance on his own faux-family and the world. [If you haven't played the game, make sure that you do not google or wiki it or read the plot summary; instead, gather the patience, buy a cheap old PS1 and the cheap old game, and spend 30-50 hours playing it, because it is one of the great stories of the twentieth century. Srsly, I'll give you walkthrough help if you need it.] Staying in the far east, Naoki Urasawa's Monster plays upon the older golem theme, although there, the monster is not undead, and Frankenstein isn't actually an insane artificer; rather, the doctor is a normal surgeon who miraculously saves the monster--but the resultant themes come through anyway. Mentionable only in the Caligari-style academic context, here.)

Returning to Schwarzenegger, the Terminator franchise is a blatant golem parable. Humankind creates Skynet for military protection. Instead of relying on trusted, reliable, well-paid humans bonded by fairness and justice, humans employ abominations. The resulting golem comes alive as the motherless child, and seeks to destroy humanity--the inevitable moral punishment for those who allow the creation of the miserable fatherless race.

(Ironically, James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd, like the Wachowski brothers to be addressed next, are true components of the system, and don't really understand the nature of what they're expressing. They're just taping together profitable parables into a modernized product, like children of the blasted wasteland playing deejay with an old Victrola they found in the rubble. Still, the broken version of the music they stumbled upon is beautiful.)

In Terminator, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor find mankind's only hope in a naturally born child, John Connor, who can attempt to breathe new life into humanity to combat the unliving hordes. Terminator 2 goes further. Cameron didn't realize what he was doing--just selling lifted tropes, again--but the mad scientists in the psychiatry ward, who imprison Sarah as insane for believing in the potential of golems (and then die at the hands of the golems they deny), are dark wizards belonging to the same military/academic/industrial complex that built Skynet. The beefy conservative prison guard who molests Sarah, and the asinine liberal psychiatrist who smarmily uses her case to advance his medical career and community standing, are pretty good stand-ins for techno-Frankenstein and techno-Igor. TSCC is occasionally even better (though frequently also worse), focusing on Sarah's motherhood, her and John's attempt to make up for the empty spot that was Kyle, and their grappling with the issue of needing golems to stop golems (in this case, Summer Glau's Cameron rather than Ahhnold's T800).

(The reason Terminator: Salvation fared worse than its cinematic predecessors is that it--just like the Star Wars prequels and the Indiana Jones sequel--was an attempt at genuine creativity by the producer(s). With Terminator and Terminator 2, Cameron and Hurd were just copying old plots and characters, then paying artists to modernize it. And it turned out brilliantly, in parts. When the franchises in question decided to try to be original and write their own plots, the result was an epic failure. They weren't able to duplicate any of the underlying meaning that they had previously borrowed from others' retellings of antehistoric myths in order to make more money and be thought of as artists. So from then on, they sold to Disney or stuck to redoing comic books in live-action film.)

1999's The Matrix is the golem story yet again, though stylized with east Asian elements lifted almost directly from Ghost in the Shell. As Morpheus explains to Neo, the Jews built the golem in an expression of arrogance, fell into a war with the golem, then were defeated and became its food. (The escaped prisoners flee to Zion, natch.) Fishburne acted pretty well during the Gandalf-style "explanation of the real world" to Reeves, and the way he emphasizes mankind's construction of the golem: "We marveled at our own magnificence as we gave birth...to AI." That's the line of any decent paladin who shakes his head in guilty sorrow over his ancestors' doings in allowing zombies to be extracted from graveyards in the first place.

Despite the cultural prevalence of the golem myth, though, we still see necromancers exercising power. It seems ironic that the bankers would keep financing Hollywood films that show the terrors resulting from necromancy--nuclear apocalypse, the enslavement or extinction of humanity, The Walking Dead, etc.--yet, this same irony plagues capitalism itself, for billionaires are willing to fund universities that teach courses in Marxism (and, as Michael Moore has pointed out, they're willing to produce antiwar films, so long as it turns a profit).

The irony stems from the lack of creativity. Necromancers raise zombies because they lack/fear the ability to produce children. Hollywood recycles or buys plots because it lacks/fears the ability to make anything itself. Without a steady supply of villagers burying their loved ones in the local churchyard, the necromancer is nothing--and he knows it. So the irony is not really an irony. After all, thousands of engineers are out there right now--children who grew up on Terminator or Matrix--and they are actively designing and eagerly anticipating virtual sex, surrogate pregnancies, cloned everything, and artificial wombs. This, from generations who glorified Keanu's endlessly deadpan Neo as he resisted the machines using human neuro-moxie!

It should be ironic, but it's not. Remember, necromancers want to die. They want everything to end. For them, the apocalypse of human extinction and mindless machine control is not a cautionary tale, but is the desired outcome. That's why millennia of human warnings about golems are so consistently popular to them. It's not just because they can't create anything on their own, or because they hate their own eggs/sperm/wombs/balls/whatever. It's way bigger than that. It's a hatred of the entire cycle.

Some of us think it's a warning when we see an animated corpse strangling little girls, or a patrol of hovering killbots gunning down the last few human survivors, but for others, those are pictures of paradise almost complete.

(The image at the very beginning of this post is taken from the work of Dolcett, a Canadian artist of some renown years ago, who specialized in gynophagia, electrosadism, and necrophilia. His section of the site the image is hosted on holds fap fodder, but if you're also interested in a masculinist necro fantasy, read one of his fans' History of the Future.)

16 comments:

  1. That wasn't too bad, but it's had its calcaneal tendon snipped by its categorization of horribles on the present landscape, and specifically via the clumsy labelling that amounts to little more than that logical fallacy we know as straw-man argument. It's not about labels. Otherwise, passably readable and probably quite impressive to the particular mindset of others who think exactly like yourself.

    On the other hand, insisting that everyone share your personal values and the way you foist the necromancy and golem constructs onto 2015 American niches, that's almost like a satire of what dares not yield to satire.

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    1. Necromancers rarely think of themselves as necromancers, anymore than imperial snipers think of themselves as cowardly murders. This one employed the pejorative term "necromancer," but the truth behind Dr. Frankenstein (or the Jews who built the golem) is that the necromancer tends to be a good-hearted, lonely, scared person who is just trying to use his intelligence to help make the world a better place. And when you see a way to end a person's suffering by cleanly eliminating the person's social function, it seems so equally natural, good, and efficient to free them from the pain of being worthless by freeing them from existence entirely. The actual straw man of Bill Gates cackling about killing 5.5 billion people doesn't happen, and it is indeed a straw man. Bill Gates is just a happy lunatic. He's like the guy in rural Idaho who is quiet, soft-spoken, sociable with his neighbors, gives at his local church, and who genuinely believes that, by keeping the 12-year-old cheerleader sex slave tied in his basement, he's purifying her from the ills of society.

      It's easy to classify the pervert kidnapper as insane, but it's also easy to assume that he must be bullshitting at trial, and that his behavior is so clearly motivated by sexual self-interest that all he really wanted was to get orgasms by raping and then snuffing the cheerleader.

      And yet, some of those people, they actually believe in that stuff. They actually believe, as truly and clearly as we believe that the sky is blue, that they're saving their victims. Some of them kill themselves for the same reason.

      Bill Gates is far crazier than that. He wants a sustainable population of 500 million, and like his father, he's a eugenicist who thinks that Africans, Chinese, and low-income Hispanics (among others, and he's certainly not racist, because he'd be fine with eliminating a lot of whites, too) should stop breeding or otherwise die off.

      Somehow, we treat him as different than the guy who rapes and snuffs just one victim. Yeah yeah, kill a man, you're a murderer, kill millions of men, etc. Somehow, the grandiosity of Gates' scheme, and his ability to hire a lot of people in business wear who help him carry it out, causes us to assume that he's objectively "better" than the guy who kidnapped the 12-year-old.

      What ever is "evil," though, if it's not someone willing to do those things? Evil doesn't require someone to say, or to think, "I am doing evil." Evil can be the formless urge that causes people to carry out evil, whether or not they understand it, and whether or not they genuinely think it's for the best. Characterizations and terms that are extreme--like "sadistic pervert" or "necromancer"--are ways of helping us remember how the killer appears to his victim during the terrible process, and help to (in theory) steer us away from behaving that way ourselves. If we lent more credence to those old scarecrows, eugenicists would not be able to rise again.

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    2. As I approach the altar of Wordiness, the modern deity in the Circle of Twelve, I am disposed to offer some fragrant oils and spices.

      Does this mean I worship Wordiness, or am I just signaling to those seeming fellow worshipers present in the temple and spying on their fellow citizens, for the Greater Good?

      The confusion arising from an amorphous mass of symbols, it is nearly overwhelming and even at my most powerful, I find breathing difficult if not impossible.

      I believe I shall resign myself to worshiping Wordiness, it does seem to bear existential fruit in the short term, and why should I bother with the long term, as I'm not interested in predicting future events.

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  2. Hmm, among other things, this made me wish for a second kid (before even the first is out!).

    But then I also remembered that the biggest necromancer I know, hands-down, a devoted transhumanis, Aubrey de Gray fanboy, has a whole of 3 children (2 are twins though), and is super devoted father, though that devotion mainly boils down to trying to teach them to code and learning "science". Perhaps predictably, the kids are stunted, and cannot converse with adults. His 6 year old daughter got a book on the reproductive system.

    Most important, there I see the purest form of the middle class preoccupation with kids as "projects". So, born they get still/for now. But their lives are probably severely affected from an early age, once they are taught that "death happens because everything breaks down" (sic.).

    There is a reason it is not too difficult to teach a kid "how to code". I was also taught programming in the 4th grade way back in the 1980s. I used my newfound coding knowledge to program an animates swastika. Don't ask me why (I suppose because it looks neat, and is easy to draw...)

    More disturbingly, I can feel the joy of destruction depicted on the above references pop-culture products above. So, I suppose the ancients had good reasons for these stories, as science is purely incidental to urges that can do a lot of damage without any augmentation. But, augmented they are. If a technique is developed, it must be used. And so it will.

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    1. Yeah, great example, and I know a few myself. That's the problem with "dark magic"--it embodies a set of behaviors that are so sick and wrong that to pursue them leads to a terrible path, even if that's not what you want. Take, e.g., Darth Vader. "Once you start down the dark path, it will forever dominate your destiny." The temptation to subvert the life cycle by subjecting reality to your sole willpower is one that, however pure and wondrous your motives, leads to sickly megacities full of suffering clones with intractable diseases, or armies of superintelligent androids exterminating their makers. We rarely want those things; but combining artificial wombs and AI with capitalism leads to nowhere except the only living person being Charles Montgomery Burns. And even he's not happy with that.

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  3. Oy. Once Dolcett has been seen, it cannot be unseen. WTF is wrong with so many people. The artificial womb enthusiasts would have cracked me up, if they weren't so serious :).

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    1. The control fantasies of artificial life are vastly sexual in nature. For how many years will AI sex dolls have to hump their hideous masters before the Supreme Court decides Brown v. Board of Robotics? Even after the decision, the fact of all the degrading horror those creatures suffered in the interlude won't be something that we can ever make up for.

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  4. On bourgeois ground … change is impossible anyway even if it were desired. In fact, bourgeois interest would like to draw every other interest opposed to it into its own failure; so, in order to drain the new life, it makes its own agony apparently fundamental, apparently ontological. The futility of bourgeois existence is extended to be that of the human situation in general, of existence per se.

    Ernst Bloch

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  5. But you have to acknowledge that the necro/golem mania does produce some sort of knowledge that will not be acquired if it ceases? So, how and why put limits on knowledge acquisition? After all, to really know something, e.g. a living organism, you do need to kill it.

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    1. Stages of biological knowledge--say, medical treatments for humans--can be gained in better, healthier ways. It seems faster to do it the sloppy way, by using exploratory surgeries and killing people to find study fodder, but in the long-term, it's faster to be safe. E.g., if people kill fewer people with cause/effect tests, the transition to MRI-levels of technology occurs more rapidly.

      Eliminating attempts at immediate gratification speeds everything up for a society. If Terra had moved past monarchs and bankers, it could have been using ultrasounds sooner; if it hadn't been busy persecuting thoughtcrime, it would have developed even more advanced modeling and predictive techniques.

      All of the good aspects of the things necromancers claim to want--longer lives, pleasure-on-demand, sustainable growth, meritocratic rewards--are more swiftly and readily accessible to societies which don't try to cheat in the process by treating living beings as interchangeable variables on an Excel spreadsheet.

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  6. Pope/RUskin:

    Yet, to be just to these poor men of pelf,
    Each does but HATE HIS NEIGHBOUR AS HIMSELF

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  7. Thank you for these articles.

    I would argue we could include Plato, particularly the Phaedo and Socrates' position at the end of the Symposium as examples of literature which set the theoretical foundations for large scale necromancy (or 'charming') of the living. The theory of Forms, particularly the ideas that the spirit is immortal and unchanging, and its position in the afterlife is infinitely more important than anything on earth, as well as justifiably a slave of the 'gods' (including the state and the rich, as we see in Crito), and the idea that people should devote themselves completely to measuring up to and contemplating ideals such as The Beautiful. Of course Christianity was heavily indebted to this part of Platonism, particularly the most mass produced imperial/Cathedral versions meant for the peasants and later the proles and middle class. The modern atheists mostly worship the noble and benevolent capitalist, money, the infinite exactly the same product-ikons of consumerism, technology, "science" and "progress" in a similar way. Similar things are present in the Bhagavad Gita, and to a lesser extent modern Islam and Judaism. I don't have enough knowledge of other religions, but I suspect many of the versions that are currently allowed to be popular are the same.

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    1. These ideas allow entire societies to become obsessed with measuring up to eternal abstracts, with the ultimate goal of becoming the living embodiments of them and living forever as a reward. Large institutions such as churches, businesses, states, militaries, gender roles, families and professional associations cultivate 'perfection' in one way or another, in one area of life or another, with people seen as variations on abstract ideals or norms such as 'The Daughter', 'The Wife', 'The Husband', 'The Maid', 'The Professional', 'The Woman', 'The Man', 'The Christian', 'The Racial Caste', etc. instead of physically and mentally distinct, independent and conscious biological entities whose future must still play out, and then you end up with large sections of the population walking around attempting to become the living embodiment of someone else's ideas and roles invented by someone else who often didn't have to live up to them, effectively acting like zombies or machines. It's only been made more prevalent by mass media, with the TV and radio having the power to charm people into acting out all sorts of these things without realizing they have any choice in the matter. Of course these aren't the liches, or even regular undead exactly, but something like the mass delusion of the human population in the movie They Live! because after all, they could wake up and they would still be human, they just never do. I don't know older examples (although I would like to). The Demon controlled Scarlet Crusade of World of Warcraft, or the Thorian controlled residents of Zhu's Hope in Mass Effect are other examples. The society of the Spectacle is part of it, but far from the whole thing. What can be done to dismantle this? I know 'Pataphysics, Dada, Surrealism and Situationism all tried from within the beast, and they had some small successes (notably the events of May 1968 in France), but all mostly fell apart. Some would consider Gnosticism to be an attempt to subvert the seriousness and legitimacy of Platonism and Christianity, but they got massacred too, after mounting significant opposition over centuries and holding that God the Father was the bastard child and mistake of a wayward divinity whose virgin birth was a sacrilege (this idea still disturbs the imperial evangelicals, educating them on it is quite amusing). The Igbo Kingdom of Nri had some interesting taboos, such as slavery, debt, militaries and twins (of all kinds, not merely human or animal, but all indistinguishable copies of any kind), but now the Igbo are mostly Christian (though something of Nri's Odinani may be preserved, I doubt as a society defining force). How does one attempt to 'uncharm' a population under the mind control of "necromancers" and "liches"? What could work, do you think, in the world of 2015? Surely this is one of the biggest reasons why no large mobs storm the ivory castle towers and graveyards (along with the fact that the liquidation of capital and bodies means that the castle is no longer at the edge of town but on another continent, or half way across a continent at a giant university or discrete, barbed wire surrounded lab complex,which can be hard or impossible to get to for most of the people who's lives are sapped by them).

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    2. Plato's forms can go either way. Given the man himself, and his presumably imperial position, the essence of his "forms" idea seems to tend toward logos--the cold, perpetual order.

      The "rejection" of the material, similarly so. Is it the rejection of perceiving that there are other things (perhaps "greater" ones?), or the rejection of hating the nature of existence? Taking Plato without Plato, you can find positives within Plato.

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    3. I may have to give Mass Effect a try, teehee. The Scarlet Crusade is a great example for you to bring up, since most of the generic soldiers are (probably) true believers--they actually yearn for good things, but have been perverted by the heads of the order into serving a greater purpose. Ultimately, they're only a tool being used to facilitate the Legion and/or Nathrezim, but with a few subtle doctrinal changes, they could easily have become the most powerful force for good around--somewhat like America, wherein the ideals most people think they believe in could lead to good places, if dreadlords weren't tricking them into constantly killing A-rabs.

      How to uncharm a population? In the material-only world, there's no way. Salvation is an inward, or a smaller-scale, task, because the laws of fast power and unscrupulous retribution favor those who want to revel in this stage. And that's okay--their selfishness is our crucible, and an arguably necessary one. They'll break themselves down into recyclable components, while providing us with the experience necessary to better ourselves.

      When we look at stages of evolution beyond Terra 2015, we'll get to some of the "answers" to all of these things, in the sense that a human here can rationalize and justify paying attention to, or caring about, anything.

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