Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Black Magic of Today

In The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton writes about devil worship.  He says that when pagans get serious about their imaginary deities, they turn to "diabolism". 


There was a sort of secret and perverse feeling that the

darker powers would really do things; that they had no nonsense about
them.
 
Or, that the devil really keeps his appointments.

As usual, Chesterton grasps these things on a very deep psychological and philosophical level, when he says, of the Aztecs and the Carthiginians who ritually sacrificed humans ...

They were seeking the secret of power, by working backwards
against their own nature and the nature of things.
 
Now, there is something in the very nature of "power" that matches this description.  In some ways, all "power", practically speaking, is a turning away from nature.  If it is in our nature to sleep until noon, and we train ourselves to get up at 6:00, the power that we acquire over our behavior is a triumph over "nature", or at least over our natural inclinations.  All education and training is likewise a battle against nature.

And yet this sort of training, the forming of good habits and the learning of difficult ideas and skills, though contrary to our fallen nature, is in accord with our noble nature.  Or, in Chesterton' words, it may be a turning against our own nature, but it is in accord with the nature of things, the teleos for which we are made.

So, then, it appears that diabolism is the seeking of the secret of power in turning away not only from our lower natures, but from all nature, a working backwards against the nature of things, the ends for which they have been created.

 As I wrote yesterday in my post Suicide vs. Sacrifice,

Anthonly Esolen ... points out how we are all tempted to distance ourselves from ourselves, to become not only god and not only the creator - but to become our own god and our own creator.

This is the source of that elusive "unreality" that I've been trying to describe. 
Think of the secret thrill of masochism.  The masochist delights in being tormented by the sadist because the masochist deliberately cooperates with the power that overcomes him.  It is the thrill of the "secret of power" as Chesterton terms it, and it is working "backwards against their own nature and the nature of things".  It is the secret of power in masochism that makes it so secretly appealing to the masochist.

***

But all of this pales in comparison to Chesterton's great insight about the hallmark of pagan cultures that give themselves over to the pragmatism of devil worship.

But without dwelling much

longer in these dark corners, it may be noted as not irrelevant here

that certain anti-human antagonisms seem to recur in this tradition of

black magic. There may be suspected as running through it everywhere,

for instance, a mystical hatred of the idea of childhood. People would

understand better the popular fury against the witches, if they

remembered that the malice most commonly attributed to them was
preventing the birth of children.
 
 This is the hallmark of our own neo-pagan culture, a mystical idea of the hatred of childhood (and innocence), with sorcerers preventing the birth of children by means of magical potions known as contraceptives and child sacrifice known as abortion.

Indeed, there is probably no other way of best describing the main preoccupation of our culture.  It's not democracy, it's not freedom, it's not art, it's not literature.  It's the hatred of childish innocence and purity and the religious devotion to sterility.

The Culture of Death is the Culture of Sterility - because the modern world has become occult.

***

But what else could we expect from a culture that has turned from Christ to a devotion to the secret of power, and all the dark and backwards things that go with it?

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