both triumph and tragedy. Evil, as the modern world understands it, had its origins in the largely arrid realm of Persia
(back when western "civilization" was largely confined to that big lake between Africa and Europe called the Mediterrenean)
with Zoratriansim. Well, it started earlier- but it didn't catch on and become a world moving trend until Zorastrianism (or
Zartathustranism) became a mega hit in the Mid east. Greece and Egypt had concepts of morality (based on right and
wrong), but it didn't sell as well as the hot title Good/Evil eventually did- after some basic work at the root level. Evil was
largely seen as the impurity of the material world (the corpreal bit), associated with a god diametrically opposed but
somewhat inferior to his goodly cousin. Cleansiness of the flesh was secured through sacrafice, goodly deeds and
absitence from certain foodstuffs etc.
Well, the Greeks and later Romans were content to live up the good life in world famous Mediterrenean resort cities.
All this business about austerity and soul cleansing prayer (c). just didn't sit well with our friends in the west. The
Greeks had Plato's much feared (among undergrads) Republic manuscript. It had morality, but no emphasis on
the concept of CONCRETE evil. His rejection of the material world was fairly ground breaking though, and many
think this paved the way to Greek Christianity (tm).
Christianity gained exclusive rights to western EVIL in the Roman era, borrowing it from the Jews, who borrowed it from
the fun-loving Zorastrians. The Christian franchise would soon be called into question in that notorious trade dispute with Islam
in the 12th and 13th centuries. But while they had the rights, they tried to expand on them. The work of St. Augustine and
St. Thomas Aqaunis would take evil to heights of stardom hitherto unknown. Adding to the Messianic message of the
Zorastrians, they helped "raise" the stakes for the believers (or so it is widely reported) .
Again, evil was considered apart of the flesh and material world. Monastacism was largely an attempt at rejecting
the evil corpreal universe. In the beginning the monastic types would commit self flagellation, isolate themselves and
talk to small animals. Soon though, they got a whiff of the fine life and many of them created health spas and fine
wineries, called monastaries. Some kept the austerity measures, but many flocked to the high life, jet setting lifestyle
popular among aristocrats.
Many resented the austerity and self-loathing lifestyle that comes with the association of evil with flesh. With the arrival of
humanism, the very nature of evil came into question. Exactly what constituted evil anyway? Were we born with
it and if so, why? And a millenium and a half of theology went right down the drain- St. Augustine never regained
the smashing popularity he so enjoyed in life and immediate post-life. The humanists effectively took EVIL, considered
it and made it an official componet of PHILOSOPHY. No longer a subsidary of theology, PHILOSOPHY was the
new WONDERBOY celebrity of the educated and University chairs everywhere.
EVIL was no longer that otherworldy thing out there, trying to corrupt everyone with temptation. But evil did not suffer
scrutiny- but was rather invigored by it. It was flashy, something that everybody wanted a part of. The Philosophers
wanted to know just what this evil was that everyone had been talking about for so long. Everybody had a stab at
it- Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, and anyone else worth their weight in gold.
Was evil inherent in humanity, or was morality something that arised from peronal choice. Born was the idea of
free will being a true neccessity. During the most successful trial seperation ever (the Reformation), the very concept
of violating the individual or impeding self-realization became evil. Suddenly EVIL became associated with the old
Church itself and with the impedements of progress. Evil had reinvented itself.
With the Reformation, many wondered if universal good and evil even existed! EVIL became largely a subjective
concept among many intellectuals (people who look at stars, wonder about the transience of meaning, duality,
phenomonolgy and all that). Many became agnostics or atheists. EVIL was still fashionable, but just didn't have
that broad appeal. Most people stuck with Old School Evil, and denounced this new found progress and griped
about material temptation.
By time the industiral revolution was well on its way to covering the world in soot and employing the largest
child labor force the world had yet to see, the intellectuals had just about overplayed evil to the extent of almost
losing interest in it all together. The idea of universal good and evil just didn't have that shine it had almost three
millenia ago. German "Superman" Fredreich Nietchzie looked at EVIL, wasn't impressed and wrote the whole
thing off as an invention of the Judeo-Christians and purely linguistic. It was evident at this point that EVIL needed
to reinvent itself again- it just wasn't a hot seller. The regular people still thought it was neat though.
Some intellectuals sought to give Evil and new shine, but without ever quite calling it EVIL. Two prophets emerged
on the scene and would largley shape the concept of Evil for the twentieth century. Karl Marx and his ideological
nemesis, Adam Smith. Evil to Marx was capitalism and evil to Adam Smith was collectivization. Many flocked to
both banners and EVIL became a very confused concept among the educated. Money was evil, austerity was
evil, industry was evil, un-developed land was evil- and on, and on, and on. Who knew what evil was, anyway.
Many intellectuals were simply fed up with Evil and just threw it away. Evil, they said, what a crock! Evil, they
argued was a concept that brought about the first world. The old notions of EVIL brought on atrocities and
suffering. The righteous had crusaded and brought hardship as a result. GOOD and EVIL no longer had the
old shine and lustre. Thus Existentialism and a new world of confusion.
EVIL is still popular among the mainstay of the population- but has been popified. Modern EVIL is best
expressed in video game and cartoon villians, high fat and foods and bad service at the carwash. More
broadly speaking, it can apply to overtime, phone soliciters and accountants. EVIL is now a very celebrated
concept in tabloids, televangelist programs and action movie villians. Ironically many of these evil villians are portrayed as
Iraqi; Iraq used to be Persia, and Persia is the homeplace of Zorastrianism. Small world. JMS
Evil is a noun and an adjetive by the way!