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16 November 2010

I'm beginning to realize that there are some people who are literally and genuinely scared of the devil.[More:]

I don't mean they believe 'the devil' exists (almost everyone I interact with on a daily basis does) but I mean more in a christian/american sense of being freaked out by allusions, imagery, etc.

Earlier I'd be like 'f em religious fundies' but upon realizing how genuinely they take it I'm not sure mockery is the final answer to something like that. like they really believe something is up when you use that iconography and sometimes it might be better to just not go there, leave that sort of imagery out of a logo or an entity name or something.

I guess so many of these notions of appropriateness although we debate them in the guise of with razor sharp objectivity are arbitrarily dependent on the social context you're in. Which reminds me of this awesome quote I saw while reading through JS Mill's 'On Liberty' recently

in proportion to a man's want of confidence in his own solitary judgment, does he usually repose, with implicit trust, on the infallibility of "the world" in general. And the world, to each individual, means the part of it with which he comes in contact; his party, his sect, his church, his class of society: the man may be called, by comparison, almost liberal and large-minded to whom it means anything so comprehensive as his own country or his own age.

I work with a few of them.

posted by jason's_planet 16 November | 20:03
just mulling the idea it's almost seductive to believe in. Like if I heard this song and REALLY believed that there's a supernatural or conspiratorial structure out there that these guys are plugged into that feeds their success and personality? I'd be weirded out as hell but also feel like the world is a lot more interesting
posted by Firas 16 November | 20:10
I remember the big brou-ha-ha over pictures of a "satanic" face in the smoke over the World Trade Center disaster. I found it so infuriating, because (a) it's called pareidolia and (b) did you really need to see the face of the devil to believe this was evil? The massive destruction and loss of life left you uncertain until you saw the pictures of "Satan's" face?

Also - JS Mill is generally awesomely good reading.
posted by jeoc 16 November | 20:24
Also - JS Mill is generally awesomely good reading.

yeah. You know what though. I was supposed to have read all these books severals years ago in intro to political science classes and now that I'm reading them properly... oh man. It's somewhat unintuitive that we build a world political philosophical system based on works like Locke, Burke, Hobbes, that book by Mary Shelley's mom Vindication of the Rights of women, etc etc. They all read like extended blog entries (I'm not even kidding.)

They're like streams of thought the author has inserted in the middle of a bunch of arguments to which they're responding and hardly form systems of thought in an axiomatic way. Hence I'm not sure they're a good foundation to which to appeal philosophically when it comes to justifying modern democratic liberal societies..

But maybe arguments about how to form societies by their nature have to rest on 'credibility' to be authoritative rather than on being airtight in terms of logical rigour.
posted by Firas 16 November | 20:33
I felt this way about Simone de Beauvoir - like The Second Sex was almost rambling. The Beats read this way as well.

HEY - it's not an agrammatical mess of random bullshit on my blog! I'm backed up by HUNDREDS of YEARS of LITERARY and PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION!
posted by jeoc 16 November | 20:43
I don't mean they believe 'the devil' exists (almost everyone I interact with on a daily basis does) but I mean more in a christian/american sense of being freaked out by allusions, imagery, etc.

Sometimes the scariest enemies are the ones that are evil for no apparent reason, the ones that can't be reasoned with. You watch grown-up dramas, and the bad guy is bad because he had a bad childhood and nobody asked him to the prom and blah blah blah, but Darkheart in the Care Bear movie is EVIL FOR NO REASON AND HE WILL GET YOU. What I'm trying to say is, I get it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 16 November | 21:02
I think* I'm one of these people. In addition to what TPS said, I think things make me uncomfortable because (based on my beliefs) the devil seriously out to get people. So, no, I don't want 'SATIN' to be an answer in my crossword puzzle and religious horror movies really get to me because they're more believable than other horror movies.
* I say 'think' because my brain seems to be too tired to fully grasp this post. My comment may be totally off base. How did I do?
posted by youngergirl44 16 November | 21:22
Re: fully grasping, I guess I was trying to generalize; to be more specific what got me thinking about this is people on hip hop forums being genuinely weirded out by Jay-Z or Kanye putting lyrics or imagery along those lines in their songs recently. The draw towards being scared that they're engaged in some conspiracy or literal devil-worship by people is really strong and they get sincerely bothered by that kinda thing. Although my default reaction is to brush off the conspiratorial or superstitious mind, reading these people I interact with regularly be bothered by it makes it harder for me to brush off like get over it, it's not real. I was just reading the lyrics to one of the newer Kanye songs and at the bottom there's a comment by someone saying "man god knows what kinda devil he's worshiping now" which prompted me to remember this personal insight I had while reading these things. Does that help make it clearer? I don't mean Jay or Ye shouldn't do whatever they want artistically but I mean say in a professional context if your company has a little Devil in the brand and people are bothered by it maybe it's worth taking seriously cause those people really, actually believe that stuff.

Then I joined it up with the other thing I've been musing; about how relative most 'standards' of right and wrong are despite how fiercely many would argue them in black and white ways, that's what the Mill quote tied into
posted by Firas 16 November | 21:35
People who wrote natural philosophy and the like int he 18th century were more comfortable with verbosity and with very long, multi-threaded arguments. Succinctness and a 'structured argument' are sort of late-Victorian/Modern-period ideas. What you put down on the page was really important, and they were comfortable with complexity and very, very widely read - people of the word.

If it seems odd that we base our political philosophy on eighteenth-century-style writing and thinking, just check out some pre-Enlightenment writing and you'll see what a departure it was.

de Beauvoir I have no excuse before. I worked my way through her stuff mightily, even felt the same about the Feminine Mystique and all of Doris Lessing's work. Alright already! Just spit it out. Those are some sloooow manifestoes.
posted by Miko 16 November | 22:20
Oh hey speaking of...via MeFi thread
posted by Miko 16 November | 22:44
Whoa. Satin freaks me out? SatIn? See how dead my brain is?!

I'm certainly not worried that Kanye or Jay-Z are perpetuating some sort of underground devil-worship based on their lyrics. I don't mind that my vacuum is a Dirt Devil. I'm actually watching The Daily Show right now and Stewart is interviewing the authors of All the Devils are Here.

These allusions don't bother me because none of these things strike me as inherently spiritual.
posted by youngergirl44 16 November | 23:34
Yeah exactly youngergirl44. And I think that's the mainstream view in a lot of contexts.

Miko: that's interesting. I was listening to this BBC In Our Time podcast about logic a couple weeks ago and what you said about structured arguments kinda riffs with their point about certain types of logic going out of fashion after the Greeks cause people thought it was a somewhat facile approach to things and then 'logic' coming back into fashion after the Enlightenment and much more complex forms of logic at that than the "it's always cloudy when it rains hence if it's raining it has to be cloudy" proofs. That just underscores though how malleable all this stuff is; not just arguments but a derivative concept--ways of evaluating arguments--themselves fall in and out of fashion. It makes the blind ferocity with which even the most sophisticated person tries to split certain hairs just even more of an exercise in arbitrariness. Not to get all post structuralist; it counts for something in the world of the claims they're making--but that whole world is constructed of only temporarily 'valid' things.
posted by Firas 17 November | 00:28
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