W4W : Why the Devil wins more than just our sympathy

Man with two devils on his shoulders

Image : Pixabay

 

I’ve often said in blog posts that I’m drawn to the Dark Side.

Not in a Star Wars, having my hand lopped off by my power-crazed-wheezy Dad, finding a replacement Pops in a self-sacrificial-British-character-actor-who-lives-in- his-dressing-gown kind of way.

I just like fiction that grabs my hand and drags me along the deep alleyways of the soul.

Well, I say that, but I like my ‘darkness’ on the lighter side. Not for me extreme psychopathic torture porn, revelling in other people’s pain for the sake of it. Give me the Edwardian ghost stories of M.R James over tormenting the lovely Cary Elwes in Saw any day.

Saying all this I have noticed in my writing a tendency towards a certain demonic head honcho, that wielder of hellfire, the boss man of down below,

SATAN.

A few times I’ve found myself writing short stories that included the Dark Lord as a main character.

One recent example was based on a painting that has in the background a carving of the Big D. Naturally, I turned him into a gymnastic little sprite with a lazy charm, a gambler’s nature and a glad eye for the ladies. In another, I had his Supreme Hoofedness hold court to a door to door salesman. Previously, I’d written a story in which the main character was a child whose best friends were close associates of his Sulphurous Majesty. I also toyed with a book idea about a man who was Himself incarnate, though the human Him was a soft hearted soul, prone to kindness and spontaneous humanitarian acts – a study in nurture over nature.

So what is my fixation with the Devil all about?

Well, I can see why he was created, why people are attracted to the idea.

How much nicer is it to believe that evil comes from a third party influence rather than being born of ordinary human beings who might live on the same street or buy the same breakfast cereal as us?

It’s a comfort to think evil has a face and it’s not human.

As societies looked for scientific reasons for destructive behaviour or events, we see the Devil – as Jagger and Co did – in a more sympathetic light.

Cue cracking tune.

 

It’s easier to give the Horned One the benefit of the doubt when you don’t really believe in his existence, that your soul may be in danger from him, that one of his disciples might spoil your harvest or make your favourite cow sterile (which was apparently the kind of thing the Devil got up to before he invented the internet).

Truth is, as a writer it’s just plain fun to make up stories about his Infernal Majesty, to explore why he’s able to influence people the way he does. His charm, his wickedness – whether he’s out and out bad or just a mixed up guy who gets a bad rap and has a tough job to do under difficult circumstances.

You only need to look around to see I’m not the only one to have a Devil fixation …

Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Goethe’s Faust, Gaiman’s The Sandman, King’s The Stand, Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, The Omen, Lucifer (based on Gaiman’s Devil, where Luci decamps from Hell to LA to open a bar) –  I could go on, but I fear your attention is wandering.

So now he’s transformed himself from the hoofed, horned, Pan-like fallen angel into an urbane chap, prone to witty quips, wearing sharp suits and serving cocktails in La La Land, I thought I’d share some of his less well known names – just in case you bump into him one dark night.

Angel of Light.

Apollyon.

Belial.

Deceiver.

Father of Lies.

King of the Bottomless Pit.

Little Horn.

Prince of the Power of the Air.

Serpent of old.

Son of Perdition.

Great Dragon.

Abaddon.

So, if a Mr Abaddon comes calling with an offer to give you the world on a plate, if only you’ll do this one tiny thing for him … My advice is to politely refuse and make a beeline for the door.

And if he offers you a cocktail?

Run.

 


Written for W4W. With thanks to Kat, the founder of the feast.

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15 thoughts on “W4W : Why the Devil wins more than just our sympathy

  1. Oooooooh I LOVE this! I have always had a fascination with, (and tbh), a fear of the Devil… must have been all those years in convent school! Even reading this made me shiver a bit.
    Where are these stories Lynn? I really want to read them! Please share adn keep me awake at night!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll email you the boy with devils story and the painting story if you fancy reading them, though I haven’t quite finished the door to door salesman one yet. The boy story won a competition, though I was a bit surprised at that and the painting one is very rough and no doubt about to be rejected from the competition I submitted it to :). Every read The Exorcist? It’s very good if you like your fiction devilish. Thanks for reading love 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, me too. He’s a good, underrated writer, William Peter Blatty. He out-Kings Stephen King in The Exorcist, I think. I’ll pop those stories to you, see what you think 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Angel Heart – forgot that one. Old Louis Cyphre isn’t it? Those long fingernails … Had to be the devil with those 🙂 Thanks for reading Bill

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  2. His Satanic Majesty is so much more satisfying than the traditional goody-goody angel (where can you go with near-perfection?) — much of ‘his’ fascination comes from him being seen as Mad, Bad and Dangerous but with a hint of a kernel of niceness (which may or may not really be there).

    When we talk of the Devil being ‘evil personified’ it’s the ‘person’ we tend to focus on more than the evil — maybe hoping there’s some redeeming features do you think? The Devil in comic fantasy has some of this aspect I think …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The bad guys always get the best lines, don’t they – and of course the Devil has the best music 🙂 You could be right about people searching for the kernel of goodness – makes him even more interesting, if he’s three dimensional and not out and out bad.
      Human beings have definitely softened depictions of him over the years. Imagine the reaction our medieval forebears would have to Lucifer or The Sandman – they’d be appalled at our attraction to him. Not all they’d be appalled by, though 🙂 Thanks for reading, Chris. Always nice to muse over such things 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We all love to write the bad guys, don’t we? They’re weird and complex ceatures and there’s none more weird and complex than Satan. Same with the anti-hero. Modern readers and viewers quite like characters to be shades of grey instead of black and white. Thanks for reading Joy 🙂

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      1. Yes indeed, and of course in real life nobody’s all good or all bad. But it can get a bit of a blur, all the characters being medium-gray. Sometimes makes me nostalgic for someone solidly on one end or the other.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good point. Yes, you have to have 3D characters, but how can readers root for your hero as opposed to your baddy if they’re equally terrible people?That’s where charm comes in, I suppose and flawed good intentions. Who would have banked on Dexter or Hannibal Lector becoming ‘heroes’ with the body count they’ve stacked up between them?

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      3. I’ve never really seen the appeal in either – read a couple of Hannibal books, but they became gross out and I just didn’t get why people wanted him as the hero. He was the evil bad guy – that was the point! And Dexter we watched one episode, but it didn’t catch us – too dark for me 🙂

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