Documenters of Insanity

“A writer is simply the documenter of his own insanity” Unknown
 
A fiction writer is many things, it would seem but what really?
 
I was reading this article today and I wondered….well now, maybe that explains a lot;
 
 
I have spent a significant portion of my life with several of my imaginary friends and, not only have I done this but I have documented it. Not only have I documented it but I am trying to present it in appealing fashion so that people will pay me for the pleasure of gawking at my insanity. I enjoy this activity and call myself writer, author, among other things.
 
“What do you do in your spare time?” People ask me
“I invent people and have conversations with them in my head and then I write it down” they usually start making excuses and backing away right about this time. This may be a not altogether conventional description of a writer’s trade but it is not inaccurate really.Think about it. At this moment in time I have…around 9 people in my head about whom I think regularly, whom I place in situations and generate dialogue for, with whom I, in fact, have conversations effectively. A lot  of the time we keep these conversations between ourselves and they never make it to the page; either because I forget about them, am distracted or, when I sit down at my keyboard with the complete intention of writing down that cracker of a dialogue from earlier down something strange happens…I start to write and it turns into something completely and utterly different. My neat little scene, my snappy chatty, my situationette turn into something completely different! I sit down wanting to write how x met z and talked about y but then w comes in and murders x and falls in love with z and y did this every happen????!!
 
I think Poe put it best “I am a writer therefore I am not sane.”
 
Therefore I ask you this question and, honest answers only please, on a stamped and self addressed postcard. Do we create our characters or were they always there, inside our heads? Do we create stories or are we the medium by which the story writes itself? Are we really crazy or are scientists just jealous b*st*ards because they don’t do anything original?
 
I open the floor to comments and questions!
 

Legends Made Truth

“At the heart of every legend there is a grain of truth”
– Michael Scott
 
In Frank Herbert’s Dune, the gifted hero of the tale used his military skills, natural leadership, and participated in the legends seeded by the order of manipulators to whom his mother belonged. He won and ousted the current Emperor of the Galaxy, marrying his daughter and ending all conflict…or so he thought. We later discover that the religiously inclined people he had helped achieve freedom decided to found a church upon his deeds, make him the living Messiah and launch a jihad throughout the galaxy in his name. In dispair, he walks out into the desert, apparently never to return.
 
Paul Atreides was fighting for revenge and recruited the Freman to his cause by listening to his mother’s advice to play along with the legend. As it happens, he exceeds the expectation but that is anothe matter. What is important is that the truth is soon overshadowed by the Legend and, once those directly involved in real events are gone, nobody is left to say “that did not happen” so people are free to believe the more exciting version.
 
This is a manifestation of the phenomena we like to call “Storyteller Syndrome” or, in simple terms, storyteller’s exaggerating or, more accurately outright lying in order to draw their audience in better.
 
Let’s compare the following two versions as an example;
 
 
  1. A large and violent man, while engaging in his normal activities of reaving and raiding, kidnaps a woman who was held prisoner by his latest ‘clients’. I turns out that she is the princess or somewhere or other and had, in fact been kidnapped by a rival of the king’s. The king is an old man and the princess his only heir so marrying her would grant her father’s rival the kingdom. Our hero realised that she is going to be worth a great deal of money so does not do anything that could reduce the reward as he normally would under such circumstances. Of course, our villian learns of this and makes numerous attempts to recapture his bride and murder our hero but, being a man of action and quite well versed in the art of murder, our hero prevails every time. Arriving at the king’s castle, our hero confronts the villain, who snuck in and tried to murder the king, but is stopped by the hero because that’d mean he could kiss his money goodbye. The king, though grateful, is quite old and rather crazy. The kindgom is also rather poor so he marries his daughter off to our hero and has the villain executed; killing two birds with one stone. Having heard that the king’s advisors are planning to do away with him after the wedding, our hero murders the king, seizes the throne and traumatises the princess. He goes on to lead a brutal campaign against the holdings of the rival. The princess dies less than a year later of a broken heart during childbirth.
  2. Son of the Gods of the mountains, a noble barbarian exile is sent by his father, the God Muklebuckle to save the princess from a terrible wizard who infiltrated the kingdom and enchanted Lord Flafflefarst of Overhereia. The noble hero defeats a band of evil monsters guarding the princess and rescues her, carrying her off into the forest for her safety. The wizard hears of this and sends beasts, monsters, and demons after the hero but he defeats them all, with a little bit of help from the gods, of course. During the journey, the princess falls in love with the hero’s noble spirit and rather rugged good looks. Upon arriving at the castle, the hero engages in terrible battle with the wizard who is actually O’Deer’Jhez’Uz the dragon demon whom he barely defeats and almost dies, but love saves him at the last minute as the princess swears to marry him if he lives. Her father, unfortunately, perishes in the melee. Our hero marries the princess and, in honour of his departed father, leads the army to cleanse the land of Overheria and Rhihttheretu of demons and magicians. Lots of people die but the end of the world is avoided and the gods are happy…probably…
 
Of course, history does either tend to be written by the victors or to flatter them and ensure the writer retains the ability to continue writing…and breathing, of course.
 
History and Myth
 
We are pretty much certain these days that a great many of the old stories are not accurate representations of events. We are less credulous as a society than people once were, blame it on knowledge. Back when many of the older stories were written, great swathes of the world were unexplored, unknown, and undocumented. Monsters could live there because nobody could say for sure that they did not.
 
People had few other forms of entertainment so liked to tell and be told stories on dark winter nights. Their lives were also quite short and brutal in earlier times; ordinary people had rather unfulfilling lives or constant work and few prospects. Hearing tales of a common man going on adventures and eventually becoming king was bound to go down well, give them something to dream about.
 
That’s the purpose of stories, really, isn’t it? To give people something to believe in outside of the humdrum of normal existence. That the good people will triumph over the evil, that common people can do uncommon things, that there is a sense of justice to the world. Each era has it’s fashions in stories; in medieval times, the common man getting one over on the aristocracy or the church was popular. In today’s time, the unregarded individual, who is often persecuted for being different is found to be different because of a previously undiscovered heritage which makes them uniquely suited to save the world and gain romantic affirmation.
 
Stories are a way of escaping our everyday lives; they always have been and they always will be; they are about finding sense and meaning in a world where such things are in short supply. We like to believe that these things can happen because if they can’t, then what’s the point?
 
The Persistence of Belief
 
Heroes of the Ancient Greek, Roman and similar eras were the action movie stars of their day. The gods were both the stars and vilains, depending on who the hero was. It was like a great series where you never know what’s going to happen next, who’ll form an alliance with whom, who’d get jealous of which other god, who’d father or mother a demi-god to commit heroic or villainous acts next. It was like that rather popular fictional series involving dragons everyone liked.
 
The grand an heroic heroes of the scrolls were the embodiments of justice, fairness, and nobility that everyone could aspire to and admire. The villains were everything the people disliked at the time or those on charge disapproved of. Often subtle stabs at those in power found their way into them. They had to be subtle in those days because the reaction from an those in charge rarely would be. Critics? Oh dear, I’d rather get figuratively stabbed in the heart than actually…
 
These days we look for more depth because ideals and paragons are no longer our thing. We still like the justice and reason behind everything parts. Our world, in spite of the vast increase in knowledge and education, still hasn’t found where Truth and Justice live. Governments are still filled with egotistical liars, the poor still suffer more than they should, life is much unfairer than it needs to be, the status quo see-saw tends to be much heavier at one end than it is on the other.
 
It is no coincidence that the majority of villains we see suffering a variety of dramatic deaths in movies are mega-rich people of highly questionable morals and an enjoyment for taking over the world by killing all the poor folks. The hero is usually a working – middleclass nobody who gets an unexpected chance to restore the balance and take out the rich guy that makes their life unfair and miserable.
 
Yet, as much as our fiction appears to be making the rich pay for their crimes and suchlike, we desperately want to join them also. Billionaires coming down from their high eeries to notice a much-ignored nobody and make them rich too is quite a common theme also. It seems like quite a lot of people are not happy with their position is society and are seeking all kinds of ways to get out.
 
Conclusion
 
The truth is not as important as the dream. Nobody feeling in need of a cheering up picks up a history book or looks for a documentary on famous dynasties, well some people might but fewer in number than those that won’t.
 
We all like to believe that the world can be fair, that a reward awaits those who live well and are good, that there are heroes out there somewhere, opposing the evil we see in everything. We like to think that people will get what they deserve, especially if it isn’t good. We like to believe that fairytale love exisits and will come to sweep us off of our feet. We like to believe we could be attractive, powerful, in control, and decisive.
 
We read about it because we can escape for a while from reality and dip our toes into the fantastical and truly believe that if it can happen to them, then maybe it can happen to us one day too.

You May well be Good Enough

‘Can it be possible for a thing to be too perfect?’ asked Fulgrim. ‘Surely everything that is beautiful and noble is the product of reason and calculation.’  ‘Great art isn’t about reason, it’s about what comes from the heart’ said Ostian. ‘You can work with all the technical perfection in the galaxy, but if there is no passion, then it is a wasted effort.’ ‘There is such a thing as perfection’, snapped Fulgrim, ‘and our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth. Everything that limits us we have to put aside.’ Fulgrim, Graham NcNeill
There is a phrase I am seeing more and more often on social media today. It seems like a somewhat good phrase, it seems useful as perhaps a measure but a measure against whom?
“I am not good enough”, “I want to be good enough”, “you are good enough”; many variations thereof. It means you are either striving to, can easily arrive at, or have achieved some degree of minimum measure. Who is it though, that decides the measure? What is good enough?
I don’t want to be good enough, to me that sounds like admitting defeat…
The Pursuit of Perfection
It has often been said that the goal is everything is to achieve perfection, that one can do it. Our friend Fulgrim, in Graham’s excellent fall from grace biopic (or ‘Fulgrim goes down to Georgia’ as I’ve jokingly called it), devotes his life to achieving perfection in all things, he cannot accept the idea that he, with his mental, physical, and genetic advantages cannot achieve perfection.
We will stop there so that we don’t ruin a good story for one and because we have other points to make. We will come back to this one later, though.
Let us explore what ‘Good Enough’ means, shall we? The Oxford English Dictionary tells us;
ADJECTIVE
Satisfactory, adequate.
Adequate. Satisfactory. It feels like we have just passed a test and been awarded a gold star by some unseen authority. It feels like we received a participation trophy. It sounds like ‘Just OK’, think about that, do you want to produce an adequate, OK, mediocre piece of art or do you want to produce a great piece of art?
Now, the pursuit of perfection is all well and good but completely impossible to attain in a mortal lifetime. One can chase it, one can seek and fight for it but one must hold firm in one’s mind that to think one could ever actually be perfect in any way is inviting madness to settle themselves into the spare room and start going through the fridge.
Perfection is a moving target, the closer you get to it, the further away it moves. To think that you can catch it would be an exhausting and frustrating affair. It would also mean asking our friend insanity to sign a lease and start moving their stuff in permanently. Fulgrim fell because of this one of those famous – ah – fatal failures; pride.
In the Name of Love
What’s an obscure musical reference in the name of love? Our Irish friends had a rather valid point, though, in that excellent song. If you now have the guitar solo stuck in your head, you are very much welcome.
Pride is not, necessarily, a bad thing as long as you know when to let it go. This is either a skill you learn, or a quality you have; I haven’t decided what I think yet.
Pride, as regulars of my comments and blog know, is something I place great store in when it comes to our work. I have discussed with many of the ‘let the editors fix the bad grammar and spelling’ or the ‘language is constantly evolving so those old rules of grammar and spelling don’t necessarily apply because they’re changing’ brigade or similar groupings.
One must have pride in one’s work, pride to produce the very best that one is capable of. Equally, one would be, therefore, ashamed if people were to see my work as anything close to inferior. I pulled 9 books from Amazon and other outlets because they needed to be polished and they truly weren’t.
Let me use an example, for those of you who have children or intend to. Would you take your children outside in dirty clothes, dirty faces, and uncombed hair? Why not? You love your children unconditionally and, to you, they are beautiful even when covered with spew at 5am. Other people will just accept them as they are and anyone that judges you is a nasty individual who doesn’t understand.
There is a reason that we have whole websites dedicated to people who have a very ‘come as you are’ attitude to late night shopping at stores such as Walmart. I would at least make a half-hearted effort to look mid-way presentable under those circumstances even if I didn’t feel like it.
Some people might call that caving to social pressure but I call it pride. You see, those that know me are very much aware that I really have no interest in what other people think about me; I don’t follow the latest fashions, I wear clothes I’m comfortable in or that were thoughtful gifts. I style my hair as I like it, I go to work and do my job then go home. I owe nothing to nobody except my wife, family, and close friends.
My work does not follow trend or fashion either. I write what I want to write, in a style I’m good at writing in. I’m also going to make damn sure that my writing goes out into the world as well-presented – with its face washed and hair nicely combed – as I can make it.
The Quest For Excellence
It is said that, if you aim for perfection, you will at least reach excellence. Just because perfection is unachievable, there is no reason not to try, right? Now, many are confused by the dichotomy; why put all that effort into trying to achieve something you know you cannot ever hope to reach? While, you hasten to add, tempering your pride whilst also taking it in your work?
Well, nobody ever said that this was going to easy, did they? Let me try and explain how I see it;
  1. Take pride in the quality of your work. It’s your work and therefore your responsibility. You cannot count on other people to do your job for you.
  2. At the same time, do not let pride blind you; you might think your work is perfect or reaching perfection when it is actually a mess of clashing chaos Slaanesh would be proud of. Accept and listen to feedback because you’re too close to see flaws. Accept constructive criticism.
  3. It is a careful balancing act to be a writer; you do have to practise, we have to develop, and you have to make mistakes. You are learning not what is right in general but right for you as you develop your own style.
  4. Have the pride to know when your work is good and be able to tell the difference between constructive criticism and simple sabotage on your confidence. If you have sufficient pride in your work, you have the ability to recognise when it can be improved.
  5. If you aim for perfection, you will at least approach excellence. Know, however, when to stop; you can ruin a good scene or piece of art by over-improving or over-editing. I’ve ruined many portraits of Sable by trying to refine this feature or that. He ended up looking like an angry old man!
So; what does that mean? It means that this is a far from easy job that you learn as you go along. That is where ‘good enough’ comes from. If you focus on achieving perfection as your only goal, you will never finish because everything will have a flaw or two. I have re-read scenes I have written and gone on to self-publish the book they are in. I see flaws, better ways to say things, another way to take a thread, ways to make the jokes funnier but I have to leave them alone.
Remember every lesson you learn and apply it to your next book or piece of art. What I would call my first generation character portraits were, to me, quite good when I produced them. They were good enough for the purpose I had given them. They filled empty spaces on The Chronicles of Enoch generation one website. They gave people ideas of concepts.
But, I later decided, they could be better, they didn’t quite fulfil my vision. I could do better, and that’s the secret I’m leading you towards here.
You can be as Good as you Allow Yourself to Be.
Here it is, why “good enough” should never be; first or maybe second drafts might be good enough but you can do better.
Generation One of The Chronicles of Enoch Character Portraits were good enough but the current generation are much better. In some cases, the alterations were minor and nobody but me would notice them but they made the end result better. On other occasions, the old portrait was scrapped and a new one produced. The Stranger, oddly enough, had the most redesigns. The posture, attitude, background, and appearance of ‘him’ now perfectly represents ‘his’ character. The new Lucifer pleases me immensely, that expression and posture of barely suppressed rage and veiled threat sums him up rather well.
The hard part is learning when you can improve and when you need to start again as well as when you need to leave well alone. That is why most successful or famous writers recommend at least three full self-edits on a manuscript after first draft. I had a series of chats with Ian Irvine, a very successful sci-fi fantasy author and he does four or five quite often. His reasoning is this; yes, the publisher’s editors will fix things but he is obliged – by his own internal code – to send them the very best version of his work that he is capable of.
Editors are for fixing basic grammar and the odd spelling mistake or few that you missed. They are not for continuity errors, character flaws, plot holes, or for fixing a badly put together story. Your job as to give the editor as little work to do as possible. Might sound counter-productive if you’re paying them yourself and they charge by the page or by the word, right?
Wrong. If there is a lot to fix, then they might miss stuff because it gets lost in the mess. If you have fewer errors, they can pay those better attention and be more adequately focussed on how to fix them well. Also, said editor will like you and maybe start to offer you discounts as time goes by. Do not forget, many editors are readers, some of them are writers, and all of them have contacts they can put a good word to about you.
Also, be aware, there are agents on twitter and they watch…don’t you Jo?
Conclusion
Simply put, you need a combination of pride, humility, integrity, and grit to be a successful writer. You need to make sure that the world at large sees the very best version of everything you produce and you need to make sure you do everything in your power to make that so.
You might think that the “grammar police” on Facebook and Twitter are a pain but they are actually good practise. If you try to get out of the habit of allowing spelling and grammar mistakes unnecessary place in your ‘professional’ social media posts, you might allow them to wander innocently into your work.
You see, achieving excellence in anything is about discipline and, ask any former soldier, that discipline will, once you’ve got it, leak into every single aspect of your life. It won’t be something you can turn on and off on demand, it will become a part of your character.
Oddly enough, agents are not looking for the number of followers you have, the number of books you have self-published or the number of fans your work may have. They are looking for discipline. You see, when an agent offers you a contract, they are making an investment. An investment of money, of time, and of their reputation and they are making it in you.
They want to see that discipline I mentioned because, if they are to get long-term return on their investment, they need that, to be sure you’ll keep producing. The publishing houses, too, are looking for the same and want to hear the agent tell them about you in those terms. They are going to be giving you money based on future sales of your book, they would like to know they will recoup at least that much, that they can rely on you when necessary.
Take Neil Gaiman, for example, the man is rarely at home. He is always on the go, touring by himself or with Amanda and the kids, promoting, selling, show-running, getting involved. I can guarantee you that there are days that he doesn’t want to do it (and I think occasionally having a problem committing to my 1 blog post a day goal) but he has that pride and that disciple and he does it. Look how he almost died of flu in Australia but kept going. He is not alone.
Being a successful author of the kind you want to be does not mean having all the time in the world to relax and write, not always. Some successful writers are busier than you can imagine but, it will pay off. Look at Stephen King, he’s done all of that and now he’s relaxing, watching Netflix, and making snarky yet entertaining comments on Twitter (I love you really, Steve).
If you want to be Steve, you have to work like Neil and observe his work ethic. There’s a reason my emails to people like Anne Rice got the ‘too busy to answer you’ reply (though Miss Anne did it in such a lovely way and you can tell she wrote it herself which counts for something) when you send them an excerpt or hello request; they really are too busy! Their schedules would make a great many of you cry, believe me.
So; Integrity (be honest with yourself and as critical of your output as you need to be in order to assure your best possible work), Discipline (to make and stick to goals, to push yourself when you don’t feel like it or feel ‘writer’s block’ exculpating itself into either your mind or vocabulary), Focus (on what is important and on what to improve and when to stop), Honesty (with yourself and everyone you deal with), Excellence (never stop chasing it, not ever).
That is, indeed, it, although it is a process and that is why your will never achieve perfection. You can keeping improving and maybe catch a sight of it through the bushes and try to sneak up on it before it sees you but that time is much hard work away.

Entitlement vs Resentment

“When they discover the centre of the universe, a lot of people will be very disappointed that they are not in it”
 
Well here’s a polemic one but one I think is important. I have actually been thinking of this one for a while but two factors brought out in the urge to write about it today;
 
Having recently re-read the pretty darn decent “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson (if you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so).
Watching mediocre writers get all hissy whenever someone tells them their work is not perfect.
 
So, Alan, is this a bad mood you are in today? No Sir/Ma’am/Other it is not, simply a realistic assessment of what I see around me but thank you for asking.
 
We live a world where everything comes easily; news, information, entertainment, fantasy, desire, products, movies, love, even groceries; they all come right to our device in the blink of an eye and the click of a mouse. Everything is easy and comes when we want it to, pretty much. I want a movie to watch? I go to website Z and stream it, watch it, my need is satisfied, one bunny is now happy! Is it a good thing, though, that everything is easy? Well…
 
I watch my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed (if it’s actually also called that, I don’t know) and I see it all the time..
 
  1. Oh! My x, y and z is doing this and I feel so, like oh about it, please pity me!
  2. Life is awful and we all need to commit suicide and write sad poems about it so people will like our pages and make us cool.
  3. My random musings about the nature of how important my suffering is are going to be the Unholy Grail of vampiric, suicidal,S&M, magical creatures with gender uncertainty issues!
 
The list goes on and on. There is a ready and immediate place for people to express themselves immediately and, to a degree, anonymously, and express themselves they do. The lonely and rejected can (and this is where it starts to get really ironic) meet lots of other lonely and rejected people so they can share their feelings of loneliness and rejection together. It’s becoming dangerous though, look at that whole “Blue Whale” game and “13 Reasons Whu-Ay-Uh-Aaaaay Did they make it??”.Ooooh let’s commit suicide and self harm the enthusiastic teenagers cry! What the sweet and holy f is going on??
 
Entitlement, that’s what. The world owes me something. I am important. My feelings are important. You must listen to me. You must allow me to express myself. You must accept me for what I am. You cannot judge me. You cannot criticise me.
 
Excuse me but why? If I must accept you in all your grey non-confOrmist conformity, then you had better accept me in mine and, in the words of the great Denis Leary;
 
I’m asshole and proud of it!
 
When it comes to being forced, pushed and obligated to accept someone because they feel that I should. No Sir/Ma’am/Other I am not obliged in any way.shape or form to do what you want me to. If your entitled right to do such things is to be accepted by me, my right to disagree with you in an asshole-like fashion is equally acceptable, correct?
 
Ok then, I am glad we agree, thank you.
 
Another field of entitlement has clearly affected us all and is right out there. I bet you most of us have used it. I know I have, our little dirty secret called “Self Publishing”…ooooh I said a dirty word! It used to be called, a long time ago, “Vanity publishing” but they realised that didn’t sell too well as people really do not like having the negative sides of themselves revealed do they? Unless they’re of that group of folks who talk about those kinds of feelings a lot, that is! It is what it is though, we are appealing to our own vanity are we not, somewhat? Think about it and drop me some ideas in the comments, ok? I’ll skip over that and press on.
 
We are certain, we are definite that we have produced a masterpiece and it should be made known to the world entire lest they wither and die in it’s absence. As many of you know, pre self publishing, getting your Magnum Opus into print was a Herculean effort very few achieved. We could spend our entire lives trying; canvassing agents, entering contests, submitting to circulars and journals or magazines. We could spent 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more getting rejection slip after rejection slip and that was if we were lucky! Most of the time we got nada, nothing, zipperoo! I’ve been there, many of us have. it was rough but, you know what? We kept at it and here we are today.
 
Now do you know what the opposite of entitled is? I believe it is this; knowing what you are, what your limitations are and just accepting them, being at home in your own skin. You need no validation from anyone and so do what you like because it’s pleasant. You expect nothing from anyone and so, when you fail to receive it, you’re not disappointed, you’re actually sort of relieved because that’s less hard work isn’t it?
 
In my opinion these entitled writers are never going to be successful, not in the long term. No more than these recycled pop groups, TV, books and movies will, they will rise, they will vanish, they will be forgotten. Why? There is so much information overload out there that lastest best thing will soon be replaced by next best thing before the former can even blink.
 
How can we be successful then? We have to learn how to grow, to not be entitled, to not be arrogant and think that we can do no wrong. We must be prepared to be a failure, to be discovered and exposed as failures and then have the wherewithal to stand up, dust off our pants and ask the most important question in the universe;
 
“What did we learn from that then?”
 
 

A Sublime Supremacy of Being

Religion is as necessary to reason as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the phenomena of Nature, had he not a supreme being to refer to; and well has it been said, thatt if there had been no god, mankind would have been obliged to invent one.” George Washington.
 
Since the dawn of recorded Time, or at least the parts that we know about, Man has encountered things they did not understand. Gifted with curiousity but not, unlike Mr. Stark, either blessed or curséd with knowledge.
 
A Natural Urge toward Following
 
As children expect their parents to have the answers for everything, so too do the led expect their leaders to have access to something similar. Afterall, why have a leader who is, when you get down to it, exactly like the rest of us?
 
See, it is human nature to follow around the biggest one or, at least, the person that has the most big ones in his employ, rather than decide things for themselves. Humans like to delegate responsibility for the big stuff and then complain about how they are doing it. It was eventually called politics.
 
The crops fail. The leader needs to fix that.
Terrible storms unexpectedly wash away Mister Uga’s House. Leader’s fault, right?
People from across the river stealing our sheep? Leader needs to do something about that.
 
Now, with the simple things such as executions and imprisonment, taxes, border security, etc. the Leader has it relatively easy. He collects taxes, he pays soldiers, job pretty much done. The more metaphysical stuff like weather and geographical phenomena though…no amount of soldiers can help there…
 
So, one day, the Leader of UgUgBurk sits down with a wizened old man who everyone has always considered so crazy he came through the other side and is actually considered stark, raving sane; there’s a certain wisdom can be obtained from someone like that. They don’t think in straight lines like other people; they get creative.
 
The leader needs creative because his tribe has been going through a lot and, of course, he’s to blame. He would like his future to continue containing him for as long as possible. The old man sucks his gums and wrinkles his face in concentration. He hums and mutters, rocks and moans. He holds up a finger.
 
“Ever’thin’ had to come from somewhere, right?” He finally states rather than asks, nodding to himself wisely; his face so wrinkled that, from this angle, it is impossible to know whether his eyes are open or not. “Man comes from mother, foal from mare, kid from nanny, always been that way.”
The leader pulls at his straggly beard in thought and, taking a slug of his fermented goat’s milk. He nods slowly.
“So ever’thin had to come from somethin’, right?” the old man continued, eying the drink jealously, he hadn’t even been offered any, shortages they said. “Yer don’ jus’ get eggs pop outta nowhere with chickens in ’em, right?”
This was indeed correct and realisation was starting to dawn on the leader’s face.
“So, there’s this big fella in the sky who makes ever’thin and makes sure it keeps happening. Made the first people coz we don’ fall in raindrops or nuffin, right?”
The hand grasping the horn beaker of fermented milk was shaking, knuckles whitening.
“So, like we’s responsible fer our own kiddos, and ye’s responsible fer all a’ them lot,” he jerked a ragged-nailed hand to the flap of the tent. “Him or her in’t sky be responsible fer us, right?”
“So it is his fault.” the leader finally spoke, his word coming out like two bolders grinding together.
The old man beamed, something the leader never wanted to see him do again. He drained his drink and slammed the cup down on the little table beside his chair. “You are the high priest, get started.”
 
And so it began…
 
The Supreme Being
 
Now, this is not to say that there is not some supreme being or beings out there. There is about as much evidence for the existence of God, or a god/goddess, as there is for their non-existence; something people call an impasse. I am agnostic in my opinions, more of a spiritual type, much to the suprise of many.
 
I think people can believe in whoever they like as long as it does no harm to others. Now, of course, those associated with certain religions have, indeed, been using their religion as an excuse to commit or cover for acts decent people consider reprehensible. They rely on the fact that most people like to be led and told what to do rather than think for themselves, and lead the most impressionable of these to their cults which, if one were to be honest, bear no more resemblence to the original message of their supposed prophet than a strawberry does to a banana.
 
Common sense and logic tells you this; the movement started by a humble Israelite who espoused selling one’s possessions to aid the poor, being nice to everyone, and free healthcare would not approve of gigantic churches, presided over by obnoxious bombasts who collect millions of dollars from their followers. He had simpler tastes and would probably do something drastic to such a church were he to personally enter one.
 
A reasoning being, one would think, would be able to work this out with no trouble but, here’s the clincher, it seems that reasoning beings are in rather short supply on this planet. People will believe anything a grinning rich person tells them to believe.
 
You see, human beings are essentially programmed to believe in something superior to themselves that is without mortal fault and of unimpeachable reputation. Be this being the King, the Queen, The Emperor/Empress, President, Grand Dictator/Benevolent People’s Happy Man, god, goddess, or combination of the previous. Be it the rich TV or movie star, the music sensation, the businessperson with more money than people can invent a real number for, it does not matter. What matters is that they’re better than you.
 
Here’s a test; British people, can you imagine Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, sitting on watching TV with ol’ Phil, leaning to one side of her armchair and unleashing a titanic fart? If you can, well done, for you have passed the test.
 
The point is, in these supposedly enlightened days, it is still the predominant belief in human societies across the world that there is a ‘Ruling Class’ of people that have the automatic Right to Rule and are, by dint of this, better and superior to everyone else.
 
Since the first big bloke with a the biggest stick belted the next biggest one into unconsiousness and looked over at the rest of the group to see if any of them wanted to be the next to develop a headache, this behaviour has been built into us. Since the first social ladder was built, there have always been people prepared to stab others in the feet to get a little higher up it.
 
When it will occur to people that nobody who cheats, lies, steals, brown-noses, or smarms their way to the top, they are not going to be a nice person. They are going to be a selfish and egocentrical individual, that is the only way they can achieve such heights as it were, in the certain knowledge that they deserve it and others do not.#
 
The New Gods
 
As Neil Gaiman so accurated represented in his book and TV series, American Gods, the human desire to create gods to believe in is unending. In today’s modern world, many have moved from worshipping what we might call the ‘Traditional’ or ancestral gods to adoring the new gods; the famous, the wealthy, the internet, the things they wish to possess and those that represent them, the glitzy versions of the old gods.
 
Even apparent atheists or wavering agnostics firmly and passionately believe in something even if that something is that this person in that television series is the sexiest being alive, that this TV show is the best in the existence of television, that this performing artist outperforms all others, that this vehicle is superior to all others, that this sports team embodies the sport like no other, or that this politician is the perfect person to fulfil this political role. They believe, they have faith, they reject dissenting opinion, they have a creed of sorts, they have multiple scripture relating to the subject of their adoration; that equals religion does it not? It fulfils all the criteria.
 
Create or Created
 
Of course there are many theories about belief. The previous section touched on an important one which I think Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have explained much better than I ever will.
 
The competing ideas are these;
 
Faith in something, belief in it causes it to come into being if there is enough and disappear if there is not.
 
The existence of something creates belief once it is revealed and any belief in it helps to sustain it.
 
To simplify that, our belief in concepts either creates personifications of it that we direct our worship towards or our worship of concepts sustains the real force behind everything.
 
That is why I am careful to avoid assigning a specific name to The Creator in The Chronicles of Enoch. I use this as an example because it is, as it turns out, a good one.
 
In the Chronicles we have;
 
  • Angels and demons as well as nephilim who know The Creator exists and have often met Him (the male pronoun is only used because ‘It’ is considered disrespectful and because of the force of habit. Also the reality is rather too complicated to translate well into English).
  • Various Christians, lapsed or otherwise, who worship various versions of God and Jesus.
  • Various Jewish denominations who worship and call Him ‘Hashem’.
  • Nature-worshippers who adore and serve The Mother or various representations of Her.
  • Cultists that worship Lucifer but acknowledge the existence of the Judeochristian God.
  • Muslims who worship Allah.
  • Hindus who worship their gods.
  • Buddhists and Taoists who worship a formless force.
  • Athiests who worship (though they don’t often realise that is what they are doing), many of the newer forces.
 
If a Creator Exists
 
This is, I feel, important to explore, for the sake of completeness and enquiry. Let us extend, at least, the theoretical possibility that a Creator does exist and is a living, eternal being; what would that being be like?
 
Let us be clear, were this being to exist, it would be responsible for the Big Bang and everything in existence. It did not just create life on Earth but everywhere else too (unless it has help now that it did the main part of creation and made the universe. Maybe each galaxy or solar system has its own Creator but for now let us assume there is only one for our Universe.
 
Such a being would, let us be honest, so far beyond our ability to comprehend as we are to the bacteria that living within and upon us do. We are their entire world, their life and their death. They have no idea that we are a living creature so vast from their perspective. Maybe they have theories or even a religion or two; intelligent ideas based on observation. Our opinions on intelligence are very much skewed by ours being the superior and only kind, afterall.
 
If this being exists, then our universe did not when it decided to create it. There was, so various beliefs claim, a formless void. We could never, being from a material universe and made of that universe, the idea of absolutely nothing in our terms, is impossible to imagine. Even a vacuum can have light in it or something. This would be the absence of Light, possibly of Time, and of any material or physical laws we are familiar with. That is where this being came from.
 
He, if such a limited idea of gender could be applied, is so alien that even aliens – all of them throughout the universe – would consider Him alien. It would be a being that created our natural laws but would not be, by definintion, subject to them (just like those that create religions appear exempt to the laws they give their followers).
 
If such a being is aware of us as individuals, it is unlikely that it would be concerned about our behaviour in anything approaching minute detail, I would think but, again, how could I know? We’re talking about an intelligence, here, that is beyond my ability to even start to define, from a ‘universe’ or multiverse I could not even begin to adequately make up in my writing.
 
Perhaps we have the over all Supreme Being and lesser, locally Transcendant beings that take care of the smaller details and paperwork?
 
Conclusion
In the Chronicles of Enoch, we have the existence of The Creator together with the main Judeochristian pantheon. We also have the gods of various faiths appear (though most of them were nephilim) as well as beings we cannot explain the existence of; beings which appear to predate the angels or were, at least, there on Earth before the angels arrived to Watch.
 
Religion does not answer all of humanity’s questions because religion was hijacked by Lucifer in his first major operation in undermining the human race, he went a long way to ensure that message was as fragmented and confusing as possible; to give humans a least a nugget of doubt, deep down in their souls, that they truly were all alone in the universe and that their faith would be, ultimately, all for nothing. That is where our friend, The Stranger comes in.
 
We, instead, float a spiritual idea or several and let people decide for themselves what they want to take from it all. The angels are real, there is a Creator, there is a devil, there are demons of all descriptions. Those stories are all real. We have the Apocalypse and the Horsemen thereof, so that story is also real but not completely, our version is missing quite a lot of important information. For example, this is not the first Apocalypse, something went wrong with the last one.
 
The Creator plays no active part in the series at all. He is present, He is mentioned (in a variety of guises), and is said to be behind it all but He never takes the stage as it were. I made no effort to explain something I could not possibly describe aside from other’s impressions of Him and their experiences.
 
I made a very deliberate point to keep most of the characters originating from the Biblical accounts to be familiar in many ways but have a few jarring or unusual details in order to communicate that the story had been corrupted.
 
Whether there is a Creator or not, or even a multitude of them, I cannot say, though it is my personal opinion that it is likely. I am just of the opinion that nobody really knows very much about them because, perhaps, thngs have been carefully arranged that way.
 
Perhaps if we took all the good belief in such a being brings out in people and forgot all of the very confused dogma humans with an agenda – humans who were after exercising power over others and taking the blame away from themselves – added on later, the world would be a better place.
 
Maybe, in it’s own small way, that is what The Chronicles hope to achieve.

One Emotion to Rule Them All

“…what humans ultimately fear is nothing” “That makes no sense…” he began to protest. A sharp gesture with a black-gloved hand cut him off. “Not of nothing…not like you.” The hat inclined downward in something approximating a nod of respect. “They fear it all coming to an end and that, as it we’re, being that.” It paused to light a black cigarette, the void where its face should be simply drinking the light. “They fear becoming nothing…”
I have asked myself this many times, what is it which makes a human most human, what makes a human most essentially human, what defines people?
Fear. Small word, many meanings, many interpretations, many manifestations… Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of what other people might think of you or not think of you, fear of belonging or not belonging, fear of difference, fear of control or lack thereof. Ultimately fear of the one thing human beings have a knowledge of which all other creatures on the Earth appear to lack understanding of; death.
You see, it is a consideration, quite a large one, in a series that involves immortals of many kinds; they fear death or are they immune to such things? If they do not fear death what do they fear instead?
The Fear of the Known
So what does it boil down to? Where am I going with this? Well, all the other fears which rule human lives, I think, are rooted in fear of death. How so? Well we all fear death and are uncertain of what comes thereafter thus we worry and obsess about how we shall be remembered when we are gone, what our legacy shall be, what we leave behind.
Politicians worry about how History will remember them; average people about how their family and descendants will remember and honour them. So they spend what little time they have (never knowing how long their allotted span shall be) in worry and fear of being accepted, acknowledged and thought of. It does afterall have a large affect on life does it not, spending the majority of it (the adult portion) feeling the weight of the one certainty in life (that we have it for rent only and that the time shall come to return our loan) but never knowing when it shall end….
I know when it shall end and have to take my lesson to heart and realize how many of my fears are misplaced.
So why be afraid of change, or others’ opinions, of what I’ll have time to do?
I know I will be here for a period of time, I will live and have life for that period of time. I had dreams before of time beyond the time I had left to me, of old age, old things I might see or experience and those dreams are not to be but they may never have been anyway; I, under other circumstances, would not have known and….well you know the story.
To fear known consequences, those of a failure to act as you know you should perhaps?
So to live without fear, without unnecessary fear (logical fears have value, fear of an angry animal, a rapidly approaching vehicle, of hurting someone’s feelings) … to sensibly fear the Known, how that’s sensible. Fearing the know is wise and a good survival trait.
Fearing the Unknown, though…
How can that make any sense? If course, to be human means doing much that makes no sense. Our imagination has helped us achieve much and is a writers bread and butter, after all.
We spend much of our life embroiled in unknown fears, though. We devote a great deal of time to “what if” scenarios, to possibilities, and to things we are close to certain will never happen.
But they might…
What if they happen and we’re not ready because we thought it was stupid?
How would I live with myself if x happened because I didn’t pay attention to y?
They want you to think that this isn’t real because….
It seems like the human brain is very much wired to be prepared for quick flight at all times, anticipating potential dangers and always ready for them, even if they never happen. Seems a little wasteful to me…
I mean, let’s look at this logically; anything could happen, the universe is a rather random and chaotic place. In theory, the Earth could be wiped out in an eyeblink by a rogue asteroid or exploding star. Aliens could invade and either enslave or liberate us all. Nepharious secret societies could realise their plans and start the Big War again and bring down civilisation as we know it.
You could cross the road tomorrow and get killed by a car. This crazed man with a gun could decide you look like a nice target. You could catch the latest deadly virus that the media are making us frightened of. You could touch the wrong thing at what could be determined as the right or wrong time, depending on your point of view.
You are going to die at some point, that is one thing of which we can, as humans, be absolutely certain. At least you only have to do it once.
Bearing in mind that we, allegedly alone in the animal kingdom, know that dead is inevitable, you would think that this knowledge would give us a kind of strength. You would think that knowing this extra fact would be an advantage.
Instead we spend our entire existence coming up with stories as to where we go once the inevitable pays us a visit. We don’t like the idea that the inevitable vistor might come alone.
Fear as the Prime Motivator
Let’s take a look at people. I don’t mean individual ones, I mean the species as a whole. This is a theme which does indeed run deeply through The Chronicles and even has a character who exists primarily to drive it.
Excepting a small group of shaven-headed men and women that live in inhospitable places, have that tranquil and smug look, and like to dress in saffron; the majority of people alive spend the entirety of that blessing worrying about when that stops. Every decision we make, every interaction, every choice is driven by the knowledge that, one day, we will no longer be here.
Think about it; humanity’s prime motivation is not the improvement of our world or discovering something that will make existence a better place, it is about achieving immortality.
Serial Immortality; through children, we pass on not only our genes but our knowledge, our values, our social identity.
Historical Immortality; there are many ways to achieve this but we’ve all heard of Shakespeare, Einstein, Newton, Lincoln, Julius Caesar…
Digital Immortality; these days, people’s Facebook accounts outlive them so their memories, thoughts and, somewhat, their personality endures. It’s like eidactics but less interactive.
Our lives are driven to achieving one form of immortality or another, humanity is desperate to find the secret;
How to live longer; by exercising more, health fads, pills, and potions
How to look younger; and therefore trick Death into not realising it’s our time by using, guess what? Pills, fads, and potions!
Daring Death to Take Us; extreme sports and activities, so-called adrenaline activities. We survive that so we feel immortal.
Vampires, Zombies, etc; Literature is just filled with them now but what’s the fascination? Immortality and a stylish and sexy one at that, how could that be bad? Oh, the blood, right.
Obession with The Afterlife; we have to go somewhere when we die, right? Even people that don’t believe in any deity or religion have ideas about the afterlife, that there is one. Some don’t but, it would appear, the majority do.
Think about it, it is rather funny when you bring it down to that; we’re obsessed with vampires because one does not need to ascribe to a particular religion to be one of the Children of the Night. Zombies existing means something endures after death. Ghosts and spirits mean there is something immaterial beyond the physical. If we do something worthy of remembrance, then we’ve won, right?
To Live Without Fear?
Again, this theme runs right through Darkness Within. It is often discussed and debated. The idea that utter fearlessness is not a desirable condition seems to be what most characters conclude. Many are accused of being fearless but they will correct the speaker when this opinion is voiced.
Asmodeus will respond sarcastically, Sable will just smile.
Let’s take a look at what being truly fearless means; it means to be without fear, to fear nothing, not even the things we should fear. A fearless man would not hesitate before leaping off a cliff. A fearless man would plunge his hand into a fire to get the treasure. A fearless man would charge twenty heavily armed soldiers and not worry about how many ways he would die.
Fearless, as Asmodeus would put it, means insane. Fear is sensible, he might add, as long as you remind it who is master;
“Fear is good if it remembers who is boss; if it can control itself and focus more on being Caution than Terror. Fear must be controlled and never allowed off its chain. Keep it shackled and allow it to counsil but never rule…”
Fear keeps you alive and doing that for as long as possible is, as previously established, quite important to the average human. Insane, mouth-frothing fearlessness gets you killed everywhere except in the stories. Fear is useful as long as you do not let it dominate.
Letting Fear off the Leash
What happens when we let fear take control? Well, let’s talk about fear first, shall we?
Fear is a primal force, older than the human race, he lies that deep and left-over reptilian node, long overlaid by ‘more civilised’ layers of mentatation. It lies where those ancient instincts about running away from anything with teeth longer than our arm slumber in the primordial darkness.
It doesn’t always take much to have humanity stampede like the herd of wildebeast that have seen the lion, though.
Corona Virus.
Terrorism.
Cybercrime.
Russia
The Middle East.
Fear came into our make-up before emotions, logic and even language were invented. Fear doesn’t consult, it doesn’t go through any checks, it has its own express lane to the adrenal gland. It is capable of shutting off the brain almost entirely, cutting it out of the loop.
Terror is the deadliest weapon in existence because, in terror, people will destroy themselves, in panic they will run blindly into a far worse situation than the one they fled. People are crushed in the resulting stampedes. Panic is contageous and very hard to control; people will join in without actually knowing what it is the people running towards them are fleeing.
It is visceral, it is illogical, it is deadly.
It is also rather easy to manipulate in much less dramatic a fashion. Fear is also a very useful resource for a smart man or woman to exploit.
Timor Indominus
“Humans fear that which they do not understand and hate that which they fear”
Politicians seem to be the masters of this art in our current climate. Fear switches off emotions so if you can make your supporters fear those that oppose you, then they will lap up any old trash you give them. Neither ‘side’ of the political spectrum in America, Britian, or elsewhere are innocent of this.
The media have long made use of it to sell papers. Sensationalism, was their term for lying, exaggeration and fear-mongering. It sounds much better than propaganda doesn’t it?
It didn’t take long for powerful people to realise that this could not only be useful but used for something much more important than the distribution of gossip, scandal, and cheap pornography.
Though Asmodeus is often credited with coming up with the idea, he isn’t the only truly devious creature in existence; he’s one of the best at it but not the only one.
It has been well proven that, if you make a human nervous enough, their decision-making ability is impaired. Higher brain functions are overruled by emotional ones, impetuous thinking dominates, strong emotions such as anger are the strongest in this case.
If people are ruled by this fear/hate relationship, they will tend to believe anything that you say about the target of their fear as well as anything those who say they oppose the hated group, in turn, assert.
The world today is pretty much devided along these lines.
Let us use America as an example; Democrats are certain the Republicans and their chosen ‘Leader’ are the most currupt, dangerous, and hateful people in existence. We will believe anything we are told about said President, no matter how ridiculous it might sound.
In contrast; Republican supporters believe that said President is the victim of a vast conspiracy involving inhuman corruption and Anti-American secret societies who want to undermine everything they stand for. They, too, will believe any outlandish story they hear.
Social media, as we have mentioned in other articles, has made this incredibly easy to achieve and manage. It is easier to feed stories, rumours, and titbits to people. It is easier to employ people to comment and sprinkle stories in a seemingly innocent manner.
To be subject to fear is, therefore these days, to be subject to manipulation. Now that is a scary thought.
Conclusion
To live without fear utterly is pure insanity. To fear the unknown is, perhaps, a lesser though common insanity. To fear the known is, we are led to believe, sensible.
People are described as fearless but think about that for a moment. To be completely fearless is to be utterly insane. Fearless is a person who charges the enemy guns alone holding only a knife and a couple of grenades, laughing while they do it.
They might survive by the pure luck if any watching gods wanting to see what happens next but, sooner or later, they get bored and luck runs out.
Judicious fear is finding the long-forgotten drainage culvert and crawling up it at night to plant the grenades in weak spots and get out alive.
Fearing the Unknown will paralyse you and hold you back. Fearing the Known and respecting it, that’s the ticket, we are told. Respect and give fear a voice but make absolutely sure that it knows its place.
The secret is being afraid but doing it anyway; that’s real bravery; looking fear in the eye and smiling.

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.