Thursday, July 05, 2007

Post # 666 667

"Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
for it is the number of a man;
and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
The Bible (King James Version), Revelation 13:18

(This was intended as post #666 -- one of those rare occasions when I actually plan a post in advance. But Alan Johnston went and got released, and I couldn't let that momentous occasion go unmarked.)

I love tales of fire and brimstone. Films like The Exorcist and The Omen tap into something rooted deeply within our consciousness -- whether or not we are religious, whether or not we believe in God. Such stories, when well told, can raise questions within us. Even stories and films that are a bit average can get away with it because it's a fascinating subject: movies like The Ninth Gate, for example.

As a longtime non-believer, I like to be challenged in this regard, to be made to contemplate my belief system. It's just like when, as a kid who no longer believes in Santa Claus, on Christmas Eve you just want to keep your options open.

"I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the Devil." I've heard people say this, just as I've heard the opposite. Neither makes sense to me. I think if you buy into one, you've got to accept the other. They're a toofer, a BOGOF, the double act of their day. I opt of course not to believe in either and to believe instead in the good and evil of Man.

There's also the popular notion of rock music as the Devil's music. That theme, I'm sure, has run for as long as music has been made, with each adult generation seemingly more convinced that what their kids are listening to is bad for them, whether ethically, morally, or spiritually. I love especially the way bands that appear "anti-Christian" can upset some people so much. Look at the stir Marilyn Manson causes in the minds of Wal-Mart type consumers in the United States. How I laugh when I hear the lyrics of some of these acts. Sometimes because they are so lame; and sometimes because they are so funny. Either way, I find it interesting that somebody somewhere is getting upset by them.

I think, though, that some people confuse atheism with Satanism. That somehow, by being an atheist, I must be some sort of Devil-worshipper. That amuses me; but it also scares me. Because the sort of people who would be likely to think such things are probably not the sort of people you would not want to find yourself alone with. Their God-fearing ways might get the better of them, y'see. I suppose a parallel could be drawn with radical Islamists wanting to wipe out the infidels.

But some Satanists do seem to have a sense of humour. My favourite fun-loving Satanists right now (not that I know very many) are rock band Alkaline Trio. Their music sounds so benign. Indeed, it's quite poppy and singalongy. And while their lyrics are not overtly satanic, they are dark and make for quite a stark juxtaposition with the musical accompaniment. Here's a bit from the sweetly titled "This Could Be Love":

Step one: slit my throat;
Step two: play in my blood;
Step three: cover me in dirty sheets and run laughing out of the house;
Step four: stop off at Edgebrook Creek and rinse those crimson hands.
You took me hostage and made your demands.
I couldn't meet them so you cut off my fingers, one by one.

I love the graphic imagery in this chorus, like an extreme S&M relationship gone bad. And so jauntily catchy. Before you know it you're hooked, reaching for the phone, and calling Satan-Busters on 555-666-SATAN.

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Blogger Glamourpuss said...

All teenagers go through a dark phase, don't they?

Silly boys.


05 July, 2007 17:24  
Blogger martinobhoy said...

What was Verbal Kint's line in The Usual Suspects? Something like

Keaton always said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.

05 July, 2007 18:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on the Big 666. Hehehe, wal-mart types. They can be as intimidating a group as any street gang. Maybe thats all they are, a gang. Not Cool.

That south park devil is funny. I love how they only have mormons in heaven and everyone else in hell on that show.

05 July, 2007 18:56  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

great post.

i love that you called them "walmart types"... hahaha. marilyn manson doesn't anger me... i just think he's gross. and i don't think his music is good. and i think he TOTALLY manipulates the "walmart types" to be famous. i think it's cool when people are rebellious and scandalous because they want to be... but i don't think it's cool when they're obviously doing it as a PR move.

anyway... it's ridiculous that people think atheists are satanists. clearly they just don't know the definition of either. morons. ;)

but i really do like this post.

05 July, 2007 19:29  
Blogger The Anti Crapitalist said...

I love the whole schlock Satanist "fire & brimstone" heavy metal stuff. There's some brilliant early Black Sabbath imagary that is straight out of the Hammer House of Horror like the album cover depicting an inverted image of Pieter Bruegel's The triumph of Death that's designed to scare the living shit out of you!

05 July, 2007 20:17  
Blogger Karen said...

You rock my world sometimes *A. And this is one of those times. Having been raised Catholic and flirting with a religious life myself at one point, I love watching movies that deal with the dark side of religion. WHile I like to think of myself as a non-believer now, there is (as you mention) that little part of me that watches and wonders...WHAT IF? That's the super scary part. Ever see Prince of Darkness? Scared the shit of me!

05 July, 2007 20:39  
Blogger Camie Vog said...

*huge burst of laughter when your blog came up with that picture*

Congrats on the big 666, you devil!

06 July, 2007 02:03  
Blogger Red said...

Who was it who said, "Heaven for the weather; Hell for the company"?

06 July, 2007 10:52  
Blogger Sheamus the... said...

Very good post...I laughed, I cried, I related, and i didnt. I felt every emotion under the sun. Reading it was like a good movie.
I will get back to you on the ink. I get to snipe internet at work but it is gone at my house. So i will get to you when i have unhindered time.

06 July, 2007 13:24  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

G/puss: We all have our dark moments, don't we?

Martino: Good call of that quote. Quite right, too!

RefPo: Those Wal-Mart types are extremists in their own right, no? Maybe there's a song in there somewhere. I never watch South Park these days, but I do love the animation of Jesus and Satan!

06 July, 2007 13:40  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martha: I have a reason for singling out Wal-Mart types; I may post about it sometime. You're right about Marilyn Manson: his music just isn't good enough to sustain interest. Same with Rob Zombie and the like. Thanks for the thumbs-up!

AntiCrap: There's just something great about that schlocky old stuff, ain't there?!

Karen: I'm here especially to rock worlds, y'know, and if I do, so much the better! I was ostensibly raised Christian (C of E), and my mum tells me that she once thought I'd become a vicar cos I was so into it all! Now that's super-scary!

06 July, 2007 13:45  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Camie: I scoured Google looking for a good Devil, but when it came to it South Park beat out all those other Classical artists hands down! Thanks, girl.

Red: It's a good quote. Probably your old mate Oscar Wilde or something...

Shea: Wow, the gamut of emotions! I'm touched. Look forward to hearing more about the ink when you're able.

06 July, 2007 13:47  
Blogger Milla said...

Ah you know? I wrote my MA dissertation on the figures of the Devil and the Antichrist in the Anglo-Saxon period. Very interesting research topic it was -and I got a 'Distinction' too.
Hurrah for the Devil!!

06 July, 2007 13:50  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Milla: Cool! He's a good character, the Devil, and I bet the representations of him through the ages make for fascinating viewing. It amazes me the stuff you Italian dames do your MAs in! You come over here, taking all our distinctions... I dunno...

06 July, 2007 13:55  
Blogger Odat said...

Happy 666!!!


06 July, 2007 14:56  
Blogger furiousBall said...

But you know, if you're into extreme S&M, that might be the end all be all best outcome. It's all in perspective. Right now I wish Cheney was into extreme S&M.

06 July, 2007 15:36  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Odat: Thanks!

F/ball: It may well be, who's to say?! Oh there's plenty politicians one could wish that on...

06 July, 2007 18:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was at college I had my vehement phase, I dressed as a priest and had inverted crosses etc.

Looking back I looked like a right twat.

In fact.........I still do!

06 July, 2007 21:51  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

happy 666 and a bit...

Alkiline Trio are highly original.

Same here on The Excorcist. Favourite film of that kind by miles.

07 July, 2007 20:05  
Blogger tideliar said...

Love the Alkaline trio! And as to the devils music of each generation, there's a musical doohicky called the Devils Triad. It's a tri-tone that s musically pleasing but unerving. Most rock music employs it, but for a long time (like odlen days long time) it ws illegal!! Not lie..

07 July, 2007 20:43  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

congrats on major landmark. What a thrill that Johnson got released.

I love scary movies and horrow movies and Rosemary's Baby The Omen, The Devils Advocate...I guess a "satan genre" love them scared to death though but isn't that the point?

08 July, 2007 19:58  
Blogger Tanya said...

Fantastic post, as always, *! Outstanding.

I also love how people ask me if Buddhists believe in God or Jesus.

08 July, 2007 20:14  
Blogger Pendullum said...

'Before you know it you're hooked, reaching for the phone, and calling Satan-Busters on 555-666-SATAN.'
I just spit my coffee onto my computer thanks to that line...

08 July, 2007 20:39  
Blogger Suze said...

I think we all know you can be devilish.

Now, tell me more about wax play...

08 July, 2007 21:21  
Blogger Cynnie said...

I'm so catholic..
but here's a secret..
i dont believe in I'm not 100% on the devil thing..

I really dont think god is going to punish us because he made us human....
dont tell my priest

09 July, 2007 06:58  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

RD: It's a young man's prerogative to look like a right twat.

4D: Thanks, man. Yeah, I don't mind a bit of the Alkaline, though it's my missus who's into them really.

Tidy: The Devil's Triad sounds interesting, though I'm not surprised to hear about it.

09 July, 2007 09:26  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Candy: I (theoretically) love movies in that genre, even if they are sometimes not well told -- like The Astronaut's Wife wasn't very good, for example. Very cool about Alan Johnston, yes.

Tanya: Thank you, petal. Good to see you up and about.

09 July, 2007 09:28  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Pendullum: Hooray! My first spitter (as far as I know anyway)!

Suze: Oh yes, devils and fires and dripping wax...

Cyn: I'm in total agreement with you on that (the punishment thing).

09 July, 2007 09:29  
Blogger Judith said...

*making the mark of the beast with hand* Cool post *a put shouldnt you have used George W to depict the prince of darkness. Im constantly surrounded by metal as my chap is an avid fan, but the sometimes when reading the inside of cd sleaves for bands like 'sporadic death' and you find out they are from somewhere like Hull or Bolton kinda strips them of their dark magic yknow?

09 July, 2007 10:06  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Judith: You're right about breaking the illusion. I also find it bizarre when a band (any band, not just metalheads) thanks God. I just don't get it. Re GWB: I'm just not sure I could put his picture on my blog, y'know.

09 July, 2007 10:17  

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