The Account of a Lifetime

February 10, 2011

Demons can be fought

Filed under: demons — xisor @ 11:41 pm

They say we all have our demons. It’s difficult for someone, like myself, who has for a good few years now studiously poured scorn on such notions to really turn around and pick up some of the beneficial bits of the ‘ritual’ of religion that I left behind. Prayers, for example, seem to me very much a way of getting your head straight. Of focussing. I’ve spent many a conversation since affecting the guise of a curmudgeon and firing off lazy quips like “praying is indistinguishable from talking to yourself” to poison the well of opinion.

I’ll confess, I also do it in the name of comedy. It’s lazy, still, but it appeals to my sense of mischief. On a walk this evening, I had a few thoughts. In some of the fictional universes I read a lot (notably the Star Wars, Warhammer and 40k settings, I’m a geek y’see) there’s a prevalence of mental, psychic and faith powers, the manifest will of the mind.

I don’t much care for deities and strict metaphysical orders, mainly because I’m a bit of a materialist in that manner. If ain’t falsifiable or a reasonable extension, it’s up in the air and fair game for messing about with. This is a frustrating position to be confronted with, I imagine, but it’s also a wearying one to hold too. It requires a lot of thinking on my feet, a lot of risking arguments by anticipating points and  dodging contentious issues by thinking it out. Sometimes, many times, it is not successful and an argument will be had. As Dr Steve Novella has mentioned a couple of times on the SGU podcast, it’s an advancement in my style of arguing.

Many years back, I was characterised as argumentative. Or a know-it-all. Or always-has-to-be-right. I always took this to be a good thing, I was either pushing myself or testing myself, in hindsight I see the flaw. I apologise to those who’ve suffered my nonsense because of it. In light of that, though, I see arguments nowadays not about being right, but as a means to foremost understand the difference  between my opinion and someone else’s, but secondarily as a means to see how either, both or neither of the opinions and arguments need be modified to reach an agreeable position. Novella takes the view that it’s about honing one’s ability to craft a sensible argument and, practically, as a means to find out what you and the other person actually agree on. Different styles, but not exclusive, certainly.

To that end, I think I’m at the stage now where I feel capable, perhaps ‘enlightened’ in a manner that I can actually start to poke at the ritual of religion. Eventually I hope to actually be able to take up a nice, secular and grounded bout of meditation again. I tried it as a teenager, failed miserably and looked like a right silly nitwit in the most cringe-worthy situations, but nevertheless I’d like it to become a ‘woollen armour’ to soften any arguments or conflicts I get into (as well as other benefits). Principally, it’s something I could point to to say “look, I’m sorta spiritual, y’see!”. I’d prefer poetry or folksy music ability, but I’m an atrocious artist. I’ve had a violin for months now and I still can’t make it make a proper noise.

One day, it will. One day! *shakes fist*


The First Demon: Dys’tryk’xor

It’s a difficult one to pin down, but I think I can put it sensibly. “Dys’tryk’xor” will be the first component of the name. What of it? Well, I’m perpetually beset by laziness. My plans are grand, but my means to actually concentrate are shockingly minimal at the moment. I have tons of time and I should be using it. Yet, I feel I could maybe once upon a time have justified it by saying “I’m possessed”. I wake up in the morning and something else is in control, it shares my interests and enjoyments, but it seems to blacken over of force down the productive parts, where I might consider reading a chapter of a book, it forces or tricks (or persuades) me to go and do something lesser.

When I could go to the gym at 9am, I somehow find myself only rolling up at 3pm. When I could be searching and applying for jobs during the day, using the phone? Instead I find myself festooned with 11pm or later emails, weariness-addled or ill thought out ramblings which shouldn’t be published, let alone sent to prospective employers.

It is in the brightness of day, in the vitality of a morning rise or the industriousness of an afternoon dash that the demon herein discussed holds power. In darkness, in sleeplessness it is weakest. Here, far from the auspices of bustling civilisation and the bonds of fraternity that ebb in the wee hours does the demon hold no power, but it is also at this weakest point for the demon that the host is themselves least powerful, it drives them to nocturnalism. It pushes them away from society and suggests that only in solitude and quiet can salvation come. Like anything, this suggestion is a demon’s lie, for it is a truism that solitude and personal salvation, that time when the demon is weakest, is also when the host is typically weakest. Victory, fighting it on this battle, will be hollow, for the host will forever be separated and outcast from their peers.

It is a demon that saps strength, that undoes power and feeds on the forethought of grand plans. In many ways it encourages this passion, quietly sanctioning promises that cannot be kept and offering a veil of self-deception which convinces the host that they are beset by other factors, by time, by the weather, by their mood or perhaps even their own bodies. But the demon lies in its natural way for there are truths herein: the will is inextricably linked to the other aspects of existence, it cannot be so simply isolated and segregated. The demon preys upon the self-pity and self-loathing, feasting on the perpetual misery that accompanies plans of epic ambition though with rotten foundations and tools. It is a demon that rots and enslaves nearby thoughts, it weakens new thoughts and grows desperate as time goes on. Eventually, if the demon wins, the host dies  and the demon itself plunges to despair. It thrives when the host is barely capable of enacting half-plans and executing faltering stratagems which can never be fully realised yet never wholly abandoned.

It’s name is Dys’tryk’xor and it can be fought…

How to fight?

I don’t actually know, at the moment. Regimentation, I think, will be of use on this front. The assertion of a pattern over the anarchy of such troubles. Stray ideas, new notions and exciting tangents can be captured, bottled and kept safe. They can be studied, poked and perhaps even prodded, yet cultivated and maintained in a safe, well thought out and, crucially, feasible manner. With regimentation comes a crucial point: testing and verification. Like in experimentation, one needs a control group to really understand quite what effect is actually being perceived, regardless of existence or cause. With increased regimentation, with the assertion of routine plans and hopes and dreams can be measured and entertained (or rejected) on a basis which is not mere whimsy.

Though, of course, whimsy will indeed be a significant part of this ‘battle’.


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