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Thursday, January 10, 2013

on liking the devil

I like the devil.

He’s fun, he can be witty, he’s dangerous and tortured. In his mouth we can hear all the things we have privately thought. He is an excuse for everything. He is pleasure, he is hedonism, he is even everything that we are told to put off pleasure for. Work hard now so you can be rich and powerful is how we are inspired as children at least in Kenya . Our whole society in its materialistic vein encourages to work towards the fruits of the devil.

Now, now I am not a devil worshipper by any means. I just love him in books and I love him in movies and I love him in songs. In art he is par excellence. He is a writer’s dream. Imagine him for a moment but as a character. What does he have?  He is beautiful beyond comprehension the best in his class. So smart he can already see the system is rigged. When you are that good you want to be better, you want to be the best. You want to go out and do what you will. So what if the guy before you created rap music you want to take him off his throne and take it in a wholly different direction. You mean to show your respect but at the same time you need to have a little room to play with the ropes otherwise they all strangle you.

Then  this character he does what all great protagonists do he leads a rebellion. Is it because of this original story that we love the motif of the apprentice with so much promise going bad? Either way imagine him using this angel version of Facebook to spring them loose sending tweets in what he imagines is secret organising a rebellion based on free will and democracy. A Che Guevara among the heavenly hosts. Charming, courageous, just better. He sits them down one by one and convinces them all to follow. He flies before them using his words, his wings, his music to win them over. Angels cannot have been stupid they must have known this plan was going to end up in hell but I see him as one of the great orators. A lion standing up and telling them we will fight on the beaches, we will fight in the churches, we will fight in the very hearts and souls of men until such a moment as… no idea what he could have promised them. But he did and some of them listened. The ultimate war cry. The ultimate suicide mission even more wonderful for being the first rebellion ever. Where did he get the idea for it? Who were his predecessors? What does it even mean to you to have your first thought of disobedience unaided. There was no serpent on a tree for him he came to this all by himself. In those first moments there must have been hope. A short walk to victory was promised and they listened, their hearts soared much higher than their wings and they began to prepare. Sharpening their swords, making their plans all in fear, always in this horrible fear that could not overcome the hope that sprang in their hearts.

He  riles up the troops and soon the face of his rebellion changes. It’s no longer Egypt or Tunisia. It becomes hard fought. There is blood shed and lost on all sides. It morphs into Lybia for a while, a battle that wavers and wavers and then it becomes Syrian. A stale mate is drawn. Some take Aleppo some take Damascus. And then it changes altogether. It becomes an uneasy truce and for a while he changes too. He is no longer the young revolutionary he is the battle hardened leader. The one whose face becomes rugged and raw. The one whose nerves are bitten down to their bones. The one who is so tired all he could ask for is a place to rest. At the same time the one who can’t sleep because plans go over and over in his mind, he can’t drop off because of his doubts and hesistations. Charm and charisma mean nothing when you are sleeping on an empty stomach and feeding on fear and loss and all you want is to sleep so you can dream a  dream where you didn’t do this most stupid of things.

Then he becomes an emperor of his little kingdom.He has  lost that beginning  of the war so he reigns over sulphur and brimstone and angels who begin to resent their following him. Do we really imagine that Lucifer didn’t have to quell rebellions of his own? The angels who followed him loved their freedom. They were the ones who refused to bow down to man. This in itself as a reason for the rebellion is understandable. What was it that we had that angels didn’t? An everlasting soul? Free will? No, we were made in the image and likeness of God. His favourite children. And then they were asked to bow down. And some just couldn’t take it. They didn’t like bowing down and for all this time they have being bowing down to Lucifer? That’s stretching credibility. Of course there were some rebellions, some bloody wars. A hell within  hell. And now our new emperor quickly becomes a dictator.

And in this moment, somewhere in these moments he realises the futility of what he has done. If we are going by the Christian Lucifer, its game over for him. If he didn’t know it all he had to do was live through the New Testament where just the name Jesus would cast out his minions. And now he is lost. He knows he is lost and he becomes something else again. An eternal wanderer. A man who lives forever and has to justify his loss. There is nothing to live for because he knows how the end turns out and yet he continues churning out year after year. He continues in a torment that is hard to imagine. Despair feels horrible. I know because I have felt it. It smothers you and leaves you black inside. It leaves you unable to feel anything else, it demands all of you until all you want to do is fall in it. Yet all the despair that I have felt had a glimmer of hope in it. There was love around or something to live for. This is how  I bore it. This is how I took it. But not our devil in this incarnation. Now he walks around a tired old man holding on to an empire that means nothing more than a childish tantrum. Locked in a battle for the very souls he refused to bow down to. The saddest figure in the universe.

This character, his beautiful arc. From triumphant charismatic rebel, to battle worn leader and emperor over a sea of fire and finally to old man on the sea collecting sea shells for a reason he cannot remember muttering about his past to people who don’t care wandering out into a great nothing staving off death for no reason other than to scoop up some more sand. Broken, beaten but lovable. Of course I love him just a little.


  1. I don't quite believe he's a haggard old man worn and wrinkled by all those years of both external and internal battle. I'd say he's still charming and charismatic enough, albeit somewhat dictatorial to his troops, to convince the majority of his minions to turn their bloodthirst towards corrupting God's most precious creation, the souls of mankind, masking a deep helpless bitterness he feels at losing to the heavenly hosts, and God himself, that can only be pacified by attacking those weaker than him in the classic Freudian sense displacement as an ego defense mechanism. Otherwise, this is a great piece...love the allusion to real-life rebellion stories, plus I came across this post right after thinking to myself (just this morning) how everybody deep down must yearn to be like the devil, without even knowing it, to have the ultimate power to move mountains that only the devil has been known to possess in absolution: the power of persuasion.

  2. I don't really believe in the devil, but my favourite depiction was by John Glover in Brimstone. LOVED that series.

  3. thank you, and that's an interesting spin on him, that could very well be who he is now. powerful but not sad and with charisma to spare. if he actually talked to you there's no going back