Sunday, March 29, 2009
Where does Evil come from..? -as a cultural phenomenon that is.
In Lynda’s post of March 10th she talks about perceptions of the theme of Evil that were the outcomes of the Audience evaluation. Again in this post I would like to ask a few question in regard “What is Evil anyway?” but try to retrace the ‘origins’ of Evil and look at cross-cultural explanations of Evil.
Illness, death, disasters, violence, crime – they are all considered to be evil influences and threatening and disruptive of the harmony and balance most people strive for in daily life. In this broad sense of the word ‘Evil’ is a concept and reality of all peoples of all times.
Evil or negative consequences happen to everyone at some point in their lives. Consequently people of all times and places have tried to protect themselves from that evil and ward of anything that could disturb the balance and harmony in their lives. People can protect themselves by wearing amulets or offering to protective gods and spirits to watch over them, or one can take preventative medicine and hope that this winter one will not fall sick. In most religions and belief systems there are laws and moral standards that followers should adhere to to ensure a good, virtuous and pleasant life (and sometimes even after-life). Derived from this many people accept superstitions and will not walk under a ladder, or get married on a Friday the 13th.
Interestingly though is that also from all time and places are stories that recall people that have wandered off the good path, have ignored the laws and moral guidelines, and were tempted and seduced by evil forces. The most infamous account in Western thought is off course Eve’s temptation of eating the forbidden fruit and condemning mankind to fall from grace and living a sinful existence. Other stories like in the Hindu-Javanese epic where the hero Arjuna is being visited while in deep meditation by seducing temptresses, similar to the occurrence of the Sirens in Homers Odyssee, or billabong dwelling female spirit beings, yawk yawk figures, in Aboriginal Dreamtime stories from Arnhem Land which may tempt people to ignore the Law of the Land by being tempted by these mermaid-like, female spirits.
It seems that stories and interpretations of Evil are universal and thus from all times and places, so in what way is ‘Evil’ relevant to us today.
How do we interpret ‘Evil’ today and how do we look back on it in our (not so) distant past? And also in what way are historical accounts, folklore, myths, and fairytales that deal with good and evil connected to the stories of good and evil in modern-day popular culture.
More to explore it seems...