Through long apprenticeship and servitude to the dark servants of unconsciousness, we become the monster we fear the most. This is achieved though ignorance, which means to ‘ignore’ experience. Therefore consciousness is the remedy to the monstrousness. And yet how to become conscious of that dark medusa within being traumatised or turned to stone?
One way is though the imagination. The function of monster mythology is to gradually approach the enormity of that primordial beast—who is stranger and more terrible than any fiction—through imagination. We have to approach the monster incrementally, to avoid trauma. After time and practice we will be able to ‘outline’ the monster, to perceive its general shape. In the end, in order we will have to achieve intimacy with our deepest terrors. Powers of illumination are gained through extracting a homeopathic dose of the monster’s poison.
The human monster takes many forms — the lesser one being the brute aggressor, the more sophisticated, the calculating monster. The latter we wouldn’t recognise on the street: he is more terrifying and dangerous, ultimately more destructive because he is invisible to us—he is hidden in the cloud of ‘the banality of evil’, to quote Hanna Arndt.
The monster is often disguised as the public servant, the social worker, or the priest; he wears a mask of benevolence or indifference and is marked by a terrifying quality of emptiness. The archetype for the modern monster is not the one who actively pursues evil, but the one who passively allows evil to happen, under his wing. He is, by all appearance, no different from anybody else. To cover up his ‘crimes against humanity’, he will tell you he is ‘just doing his job’, he is ‘following orders’, ‘he has no choice’. Through abdication of responsibility for good and evil, he has become sub-human, a hungry ghost, a prisoner of desire and one who hunts flesh. He is the monster devouring our own innate children of goodness, truth, and beauty. He is the living moloch.
Monsters are those beings who have cultivated their weakness. If we haven’t acknowledged, seen, done battle with that weakness — then when our world fall apart, the monsters will come out destroy us. Much of our daily frenetic activity consists of avoiding that monster, running from the ‘hellhound on our trail’, to quote Robert Johnson. The monster takes hold of of our souls in our indifference and bitter abdication of life.
The monster ‘zombie dictator’ wants power and dominion; he has cultivated his massive appetite for human flesh because deep down he (Frankenstein’s monster) never can feel satiated. His inner vacuity causes him to mirrors the monstrous appetite of the mob. He has power, not because he is an exceptional individual, but because he can’t stand his ultimate insignificance.
The monster has simply tapped into the secret coveted desire of everyone, which is revenge against disappointment. But the greatest persecutor is not outside, but in our our own mind. When the mind is not tamed or understood, it can lead us to dangerous place — and sometimes right into hell.
Hell is a land of monstrous man-made constructions, a never ending suburb of the soul. It is the architecture of revenge, of boredom, of nothingness. It is populated by monster who to take revenge on others just for being born, and who are unable to see any beauty or goodness in anything or anybody. The monster blames being itself for all the various slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He is the nihilist, the materialist, the one who only perceives a collapsing world, who finally becomes the monster. It is the one who, perhaps in childhood, pledged his revenge against existence, decided to live for the triumph of dead things.
The monster’s home is hell, and hells are places of extreme total order or total chaos, collapsing into each other. The chaotic, static person, secretly longs for a dictator to manage his or her life — and will be vulnerable to totalitarian control and ideology. Conversely, the order monster, trapped in a static, sterile world of control, longs to destroy its prisons and will be vulnerable to violent revolution, within and without. We can avoid these hells though balance: by by tuning our existence to the right pitch of being — or as the Buddha put it: by being ‘not to tight, not to lose’.
You could say that the monster is the one who lives in extremes: he is trapped either in ice or fire; he is either a frozen behemoth of deathly calculation or a burning demon of passion. He either lives too close to the centre, tightly bound by the structures of society, or in the twilight fringes where the strange creatures dwell. This monster is therefore both the ‘freak’ and the ‘normal’ person, or the one who has become an exaggerated caricature of him or herself, a being trapped in a persona. He is characterised by his inability to breath, and lives in states of hot or cold panic.
No beast, no matter how predatory or dangerous, acts from intentional cruelty, as far as we know. The only really demonic beast is the human beast; the thwarted human being is the real monster. Even the worst predator in nature is relatively benevolent, living in an innocent eden beyond good or evil—compared to the human monster, that is. Some would say that cats are the exception because they torture mice; but still, a cat is blameless, a cat has no ego, or self-image, or mirror. The scorpion or tarantula have no cruelty, only the human being does.
The human scorpion or the human tarantula is another story. He is the evil one in all the comic books, the one with a polymorphous beast/human form. He represents life without mercy or affection for others—a world of perverse power games. He lives from his mutation, he is a lucifer who has stolen fire from heaven. The human monster is our very self-obsessed ego, the reflected in the mirror, the psycho in the shower—the manifestation of our deepest fear, in other words. And our deepest fear, lives within us.