[citations are taken from The Trial of Gilles de Rais by Georges Bataille, unless otherwise indicated]
The consuming idea that I have had in the past months, one that has made me more contemplative than usual, is the idea of evil. I have been over this before, but it bears repeating. When I was a Christian, the idea that there would be some, or perhaps the majority of humanity, who would be excluded from God’s light by choice, who would hate God and eternal happiness, and renounce them forever, seemed like a cacophonous szforzando staining salvation history. I speak here of the idea that all things go forth from God only to come back to him, the exitus-reditus diagram of the Neoplatonists that would serve as the template for the Christian hope for the time when God would “be all in all.” Except he wouldn’t be. Those who defend the eternity of the damnation of the reprobate state that the demons and those suffering in Hell for all eternity serve as a testament to God’s justice: that those who freely renounce God will remain always obstinate in that choice. In the end, it seemed to me that evil would never be eradicated: that evil, in a sense, wins.
The modern mind doesn’t like to think about evil. Or it does, because it exists (in a manner of speaking), but it is always something out there. Evil is what other people do, not what I do. The left-wing or progressive mind, in particular, does not like to think of things in terms of the moral, good or evil, but rather in the sense of the pathological. Evil acts are always the result of defects in the person or in society, and can be re-engineered out of a person through education or a more just social order. Many think that, by clinging to pathology, the idea that some people are crazy, sick, psychopaths, or just “assholes”, somehow they have escaped morality through scientific insight. “It’s not an issue of moral failing,” so the logic goes, “it’s that this particular person is defective for such-and-such a reason” (fill in the blank: bad upbringing, poverty, oppression, patriarchy, misogyny, etc. etc.) God forbid that humans do things out of some random lust for chaos and violence: that even the best of conditions will sprout black swans of cruelty and mayhem just like a rain seems to produce mushrooms in the grass out of nothing. Continue reading