The Devil

When I conceive of worlds, Satanic figures (such as the devil) are rarely outright evil. That makes them boring — it’s too easy to write someone or something off as crazy or insane. It’s much more compelling when they are as human as the rest of us.

I like the vision of the “Candy Man” in “Feels Just Like It Should” as a keeper of contracts, in some capacity. The Candy Man is blue-skinned and yellow-haired — alien, in other words. Otherworldly, clearly wrong in design to our typical proclivities. He is dapper, and in that sense attractive with his power. He is eccentric and hedonistic, and thus seductive to the senses. He provides drugs that give incredible highs, “just like [they] should”, but he does not concern himself with the fall, because as seen in the video, he is not bound by the same laws of reality as humans. It’s not that the Candy Man is wronging us because he’s malicious, but because he’s naive about the nature of humans and what they can really put up with. He doesn’t realize he’s inflicting harm at all. Confronted with the awful welfare he ultimately submits his clients to, I imagine the Candy Man would be confused. “Why do they do this to themselves, if it is so bad? I gave only what was promised. The rest, they have done to themselves.”

At the same time, strategic deployment of characters and entities that are evil beyond all understanding can be just as powerful as a human devil. The truly evil are relentless machines of suffering and destruction. There is nothing to be done with such demons but fear their incomprehensible determination to wrong mankind, and work to destroy them in kind. The moral dilemma of the truly evil is compelling in a different way: if the only way to fight the truly evil is to outright destroy it, then what separates the good who fight evil, from the evil itself? They have both become agents of destruction. In some way, evil has already won when the righteous even decide to take the field. Stories that capitalize on this dilemma are deliciously terrifying when executed skillfully, as they explore not just man’s naïveté, but the capacity for sin sown into his very soul, and in many ways, the survivalist need for those sins.

Alternatively, the truly evil can be twisted into the truly incomprehensible, a la Cthulhu, where the greatest horror of the mythos is the helplessness of mankind against forces so much greater than itself. Much of horror revolves around the careful cultivation of a feeling of helplessness, as hopes are teased from the doomed only to be crushed in all manner of cruel and creative ways. In scenarios like this, the devil is terrifying not because he is evil or malicious, but because through the overwhelming stature of his godhood, we are forced to realize our utter irrelevance to the workings of the universe.

God I love horror. It reminds us of what we hold dear by threatening to destroy it; through being terrified, I come to a clearer understanding of what I live for.


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