Upsetting the Established Order

“My words will either attract the strong of mind or offend the weak one”
– Unknown
 
“What is freedom of expression? Without freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie
 
From the very first draft of the very first chapter, we realised that The Chronicles of Enoch were going to offend some people, perhaps a lot of people. We know that the topics we are going to be handling are some sensitive ones.
 
We ar, however, of the long-held opinion that it is, effectively, the job of the artist to challenge how people think about and perceive what is around them. It is our job not only to entertain but to challenge ideas and lead our readers (in my case) to ask questions; not only about the topics we dramatise, but our words themselves. A true writer wants debate and opposition because that means people are thinking and they are talking.
 
“As a writer, you know you are doing your job well when they try to stop you from doing it.”
– Anon
 
If we are faced with controversy, that means we are challenging what needs to be challenged but, of course, as with everything else, there are lines that should not be crossed and consequences for crossing them.
 
Lines in The Sand
 
We know that we are supposed to defend freedom of expression and challenge societal norms. We know that controversy is part of our reason of being in many cases. We remember those who stood up when no-one else would and wrote what nobody else seemed to dare to.
 
We do indeed have the right to write what we want to, it is enshrined in the values of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression.
 
I take my stick and point at the sand.
 
Just because you can does not mean that you should.
 
I draw the line and wait for the inevitable questions.
 
  1. Graphic murder and graphic rape. I do not think we should try to force these into the mainstream. I don’t mind offending people so I will just say it; if you enjoy reading that, you might consider asking yourself why. Reading is meant to be a pleasure but taking pleasure from such things is…well…now, horror and gore have their place but pure gratuitousness for its own sake does, in my opinion, not
  2. Graphic descriptions of the abuse of children. Though a horrifying trend and something which needs to be addressed and dealt with, we don’t need to know about it, we don’t need to read about it
 
Now, there are more, probably, but for me, those are the only reasons I would have for throwing a book in the bin and never returning to it. There is a worrying trend these days to represent these things, especially among new writers looking to make waves and use controversy and shock value to get immediate attention for their work but I ask them, is that the reputation you want to have as an artist?
 
Of course, my list of lines I do not cross will be different to other people’s, that is normal and part of the process of learning.
 
Some say religion cannot be touched. Others say that gender identity or race must be addressed and the book’s characters inclusive. Fair enough. I wouldn’t tolerate racism or homohobia/sexism personally so no characters I write who practise that will come to a good end.
 
 
The Controversy List
 
There will be several things which will offend the tender sensibility in Darkness Within alone. Let me tell you about them;
 
  1. The Roman Catholic Church, American Mega Church Evangelism, and most of the ‘Christian Cults’ of the USA were set up and are directly managed by Lucifer and his cohorts. The idea of this was to muddy the message and lead humans away from The Creator in order to prove his point. The demon Sammael is resident in Rome and is the Pope’s closest adviser. Those who follow almost all branches of modern Christianity are, to a greater or lesser degree depending, following the Devil, which is ironic.
  2. The angels are not pure and unblemished beings. Towards humans they are distant and slightly disdainful. The long lists of moral laws we have tacked on to the whole thing interest neither them nor their Father even vaguely. The clothes we wear, the buidling we go to on which day and what we call it is irrelevent to them, very much beneath their notice.
  3. That the US military, as well as the militaries of most developed nations are under Lucifer’s control, Abaddon uses them as a money making machine and sometimes as simple entertainment.
  4. All of our conspiracy theories, fancy fantasies of New World Orders, aliens, faked moon landings, dodgy assassinations, etc are all the invention of the being who came up with internet porn.
  5. A certain US politician in high office , who is replaced by a neutrotic demon bears quite a resemblence to a real politician and may or may not make satirical milage at his expense.
  6. The modern Bible is essentially an invention designed to keep people both confused and oppressed. Lucifer is responsible for most of it, togther with his fellow high-ranking demons. They added bits, removed parts, brutally edited others. They did anything they could to remove any clear message or possibility for confusion.
 
That is just the beginning, though. To me, everything is fair game as long as it does not cross my line in the sand or be designed to specifically hurt people.
 
The Politically Correct Trap
 
Now, before we start, there is absolutely nothing wrong in treating people of any minority or anyone who does not conform to what society calls ‘the norm’ the same way as everybody else. I encourage and applaud those who face struggle every day.
 
Here we agree, right?
 
Good…
 
Being aware of offending and conscious adaptation of your behaviour to avoid that are great but, as with everything, it must be a choice. Let’s be honest, there are ignorant and stupid people in the world, quite a few of them, who are content to blame others for their woes and hold very outdated opinions, not at all up to speed with society as a whole.
 
That is their inalienable right. You cannot force their worldview to converge with yours. There are going to be people who have highly inaccurate opinions about Black people, Asian people, LGBTQIA+ people in all their beautiful variety, Jews, Liberals, Republicans, Southerners, people from any country that is not theirs or hold any opinion which differs to their own….
 
With people existing in their infinite and all-splendoured variety, ignorant, hateful, and stupid also exists, it is unavoidable. They were either born that way or some negative life experiences may have made them that way. You can’t look at them and know.
 
You can protest, you can campaign, you can be involved in activism and work to change opinions on the matter but you cannot force people to agree with you or be unable to voice opinions they feel are justified.
 
That is what led to Brexit, that is what led to Donald Trump (not Krampus)!!
 
Look, I’m in my mid 40’s and I remember when it was fine to make racist jokes on TV and have white actors dressed up as black or Indian people in mockery and it was ok. Gay people were exaggerated and exposed to hilarity. Famous LGTBQIA+ people took the secret of their sexuality and identity to their grave, never being able to come out in public.
 
All that has changed for the better. We’re not there yet but we’re improving.
 
Education, you see, that’s how it works. People believe this, so you teach them that and the smart ones learn. The stupid or wilfully ignorant ones will not.
 
It’s just like school, college, university, etc. Everyone (in theory) attends the same classes, lectures and tutorials, everyone has access to the same books, everyone receives equal exposure to the same material but not everyone passes the final exam and those that pass do not all receive the same grades.
 
You cannot force everyone to pass. No law, no rule, and no amount of careful campaigning or protesting will encourage some people to either increase their grades or pass. They just don’t have it in them
 
You could even say that they can’t help who they are…
 
Now, stop before misquoting me because I am not defending bigots of any kind; judging anyone because of aspects, characteristics or behaviours they cannot help is always wrong.
 
Do you hate your child for misbehaving or placing themselves in danger? No, you educate them and present them with consequences. They tend not to do it again after that.
 
How Lucifer Drove in the Wedge
 
Now you see how he did it do you not? Identify differences and work on ignorance across the board. Make people scared of the different, feed the tribalism. He programmed these fears and hatreds deep into his religions and doctrines. The Dark Ages were one of his greatest victories because he bred a hatred of education and love of ignorance deep into the bones of our civilisation.
 
Before then, wisdom, even the folkesy kind those ‘witches’ had a lot of, were respected and looked up to. Being able to learn and grow was seem as a positive thing. Instead the devil replaced such beliefs that all those things came from him when the opposite was actually true.
 
Anything which could keep humans content and united was forbidden; anything that kept them divided and secretly guilty was encouraged. All the things we had in common were turned into sins and silly rules that were impossible to follow were introduced. Nobody could abide by all of them but that did not stop those who slavishly followed the obvious ones from looking down theirs noses at and feeling superior to those judged not to be doing so.
 
It all boils down to fear ultimately…
 
It was actually rather brilliant when you think about it. Afterall, feeling proud and superior for what someone else has done is an essential part of human nature.
 
Take a look at sports as an example; your team wins and you celebrate and mock supporters of the other team although you contributed nothing at all to the endeavour. It’s the same with religion, your team is deemed to be the correct one so it’s OK to do whatever you like to supporters of the other team when all you do is show up once a week.
 
The same thing can apply to socio-ethnic groups; yours is determined to be the dominant one but what do you do to contribute? You just show up and wear the t-shirt. as it were.
 
Conclusion
 
Controversy is impossible in the artist’s world; we tend to think quite differently to other people and look an explanation of why things are as they are. We tend to think not in straight lines on curves or, at times, more complicated forms. Often we are misfits and therefore have sympathy and understanding of those that society applies the same label to; those that refuse to simply sit down and accept the shoddy treatment they are receiving as “their lot in life”.
 
We see the world as everyone else sees it and decide that is not enough, so we use words, sounds, paints, and other materials to show it in a way be like better and dearly wish that others see it too as they share our hard work.
 
It is no coincidence that artists tend to be the first people to dictator rounds up during his revolution or one of many purges. We court controversy, are rebellious, and like to challenge the established way of doing things. We do not fit in with our heads down and question nothing; we question everything.
 
Nobody likes it when someone starts pointing out the holes…
 
The Chronicles of Enoch, over the course of our research, managed to find an awful lot of them and we intend to pick at each and every one.

The Eternal Balance

“Everything is about balance…your breath is about the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood; your natures depend upon the balance of chemicals you never see and rarely understand. Balance is everything. Put too much weight on one side and the balance will not only break, it will take everything else with it…”
Balance. Light with Darkness. Life with Death. Good with Evil. Happiness with Sadness…you can add any that you like to the age-old formula of balance. People die so that new people might be born. The sun sets that the darkness may have its time. Evil rises so that good may rise in turn to oppose it. Swings and see-saws, a model of Newton’s Cradle as large as the universe.
Cause. Effect. Cause. Effect. Cause. Effect. Cause. Effect.
Nothing happens in isolation, nothing exists in isolation, every action generates reciprocity. Every. Single. One.
The Great Conductor
There are numerous reactions from the moment one understands this principle. We are not talking about any particular religious dogma (or catma even) here, let me make that clear. I understand the Chronicles have been thought of a work of a religious nature but it is not. Not really. Yes, we involve religious themes but it would be facile to attempt to chronicle the history of humanity without the, because, as you will see, humans have worked very hard to make them a part of their journey, to assign identity to the Great Conductor of this grand concerto.
One side effect of looking at the universe as, we assert, it actually is allows one to realise that one is both highly important and completely irrelevant at the same time. At a local level, your actions could have far-ranging consequences, obviously but out there, if there is anyone else out there, then they’ve probably no more heard of the Planet Earth than we have the Planet Oog-Wah-Groo-Gah. We might show up in their equivalent of movies and books sometimes but nobody really believes in us.
This is the perspective one needs to consider for this next part. Let us say there is some Great Conductor, an intelligence – divine or otherwise – behind and managing the universe; making surer the right atoms spin in the right directions, keeping everything balanced so that it doesn’t just collapse in on itself. Let’s just say that this being is either directly responsible for the material manifestation of the universe (important distinction, I feel) or the first result of it. What would such a being be like?
I have always had this problem with religious systems; a being who can create everything we see out of nothing is not going to be some list-keeping, petty-minded, old man with a beard in the clouds. To claim to worship this being, acknowledge Him as supreme and so forth, only to go on and assign Him very human traits and behaviours, is a little hypocritical to my mind.
To my mind, this beings is going to be impossible to understand from our highly limited viewpoint.; His (or Its) thoughts may take a thousand years or a millisecond to complete. He may see in dimensions we cannot even imagine. We don’t know and, to be frank, we never will.
Religion always has been and always been a tool to control the masses with menaces, that’s why they hate any signs of spirituality.
The Balance
As we said before, everything is about and in a constant state of balance. Down to the deepest level we can look at everything seeks balance, it is one of immutable laws of the universe.
Darkness cannot exist without light or, at least, you don’t know it is darkness unless you have light to compare it to. Let us take someone who has never seen light (as unlikely as that is, many blind people can detect changes in light even if they cannot see them), they have lived their entire lives in complete, unilluminated darkness. To them, the darkness simply IS. It does not have or need a name because they have no need to compare it or identify it, it is there. It is the same as fish (if they have language) not really talking about the air or land much.
We need one to identify the other. We need one to oppose the other but we do not, can not ever let one of them win.
Think of Newton’s famous Third Law of Motion;
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
There is a universal truth to that; wherever there is light, there is shadow. Your body will cast a shadow on them sunniest of days.
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
Something has to give, right? Not necessarily.
 
Agent of Balance
To move into the realm of fiction for a moment, let us consider the Chosen One trope. It essentially goes like this;
  1. One force, that of Darkness, gains prominence and threatens to take over everything/kill everyone/conquer Light.
  2. Previous attempts to stop them from doing that not only failed but made them more powerful
  3. A Chosen One is discovered who can, usually through sacrifice or, at least, a willingness to do so, can topple the leader of badness and restore the Light.
Now we apply this to Star Wars, because we self-confessed nerds. Anakin Skywalker (he who becomes *SPOILER ALERT* the asthmatic cyborg we all love) was called The Chosen One and he was, it was alleged, created by the mythic Force in order to restore Balance to it.
Now, our friends the Jedi (except, perhaps, our small, wise, green friend with the grammar problem) thought that this meant he was to destroy the Dark Side of the Force and raise the Light Side to peace and dominance.
That is not, however, how it works and you would think an order of wise, knowledgeable warrior-monks would have figured it out by now. One cannot exist without the other. In order for balance to happen, Dark and Light must be equal.
Let us move back to combining Newton’s 3rd Law with our force and object quote. I push against a wall and, if it’s mass is great enough, it will, effectively, push back (or resist me). If the immovable object and irresistible force are equally balanced, they will remain in a state of conflict forever, in theory.
The Chosen One is never meant to be the champion of one side or another; he or she is the Champion of Balance. In the Star Wars Prequels, the Jedi Order was too powerful and needed to be reduced, the Agent of Balance helped make this happen. In the original trilogy, the representative of Darkness was too powerful and needed to be removed so the Agent of Balance again stepped in and sacrificed himself in order to restore Balance.
The darkness was not, however, gone forever while the heroes celebrated, completely failing to ask where the vicious cannibal teddy bears got all fireworks from. It remained and always will, right where it belongs, in the heart of man.
Neither One nor The Other
Or neither one nor t’other as my granddad used to say, which I much prefer the sound of.
You may well have gathered by now that the probable main/central theme of The Chronicles of Enoch is that of Balance. There is always Light in Darkness and Darkness in Light. Lucifer cannot win but neither can The Creator.
The Creator could no more destroy Lucifer than Lucifer can destroy The Creator. The universe would not allow them to do that because, to do so would result in imbalance. We need evil, we need darkness, we need a force to oppose.
If one is truly moral, truly good, truly committed to Light one is probably the immovable object. Evil or darkness, in this case, will be the irresistible force; they are in constant opposition but, deep down, each knows that they will never, ever win because, if they do, they will take the universe out together with their opponent.
Being Realistic
Now, the thing about Chosen Ones is that there is only ever one of them.
Ordinary people are not unimpeachably good or irredeemably evil. Religions, to come back to them, capitalise upon this fact by generating guilt for all of your daily peccadilloes. We are all a work in progress because your average human does not, unfortunately, come with an instruction manual.
We will all commit acts of petty evil and middling good on a daily basis; holding a door open for the person behind us, dropping some change in a homeless person’s hat, cutting queue or not telling the shop assistant that they gave us too much change or didn’t charge us for that small item.
We do not, however, have a bearded elderly gentleman in a bed sheet sitting there either shaking his head or smiling as he makes notes on a very large scroll.
We are one hundred billion billion atoms in the fabric of the universe dancing to a tune that we cannot hear.
Notice that we are making no moral judgements or arguments on this topic, that is intentional. We have our beliefs but no guarantee that they are correct and, contrary to gossip, do not know everything. Nobody died and make us the judge of anyone.
Conclusion
So, balance…it is, essentially, everything.
The battle between Good and Evil, Brahma and Vishnu, God and the Devil, Odin and Sutur, Increase and Entropy, is eternal and an essential part of all that is.
The hero or Chosen One will ultimately triumph because that is the way of things but, perhaps, his or her Light will be stained somewhat in the process because, in order to defeat the Big Bad, they had to cross a line they never thought they would and are thus, revealed to not be as pure as they thought. Perhaps they were never as pure as they thought they were.
That may well be why we need what we call the bastard; the person that is neither good nor evil but a bit of both, in the middle, doing what they know best. In our case Asmodeus can do all the things that Sable could not but that are important, essential even.
Sometimes your enemy’s enemy is your friend and, on rare occasions, the person you thought was your enemy is, in fact, the friend you thought you did not have.
That is the thing about balance, it does not care about how you feel about things, it only cares about the result and will us both sides to get what it wants.