Singin’ the Self-Empowerment Blues

I believe popular culture has lately taken a sharp turn toward the Satanic.

Having been taught about Satan by Dante, Milton, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky, I know that demons are paradoxical beings, simultaneously crafty and bumbling. Dante’s devils are grotesque and juvenile; they fart like trumpets and molest the weak. Dante satirizes the foolishness of devils, as though to mock anyone as a fool who falls for their childish ploys. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, on the other hand, wrote clever devils who played the long game, laying traps and patiently waiting for their prey.

There is no better representation of the devil for our age, however, than the one conceived by John Milton. Milton’s devil is an eternal optimist, a plucky and self-confident fellow who cheers his friends by showing them how to make the best of a bad situation. As he is written in Paradise Lost, Milton’s Satan has accomplished absolutely nothing worth boasting about, but he boasts nonetheless. And what exactly does one boast about when he has done nothing which is worthy of boasting about? He boasts about being true to himself and living according to his own principles, that’s what.

The man who approaches Paradise Lost expecting to find the same Satan venerated by Scandinavian black metal bands and Anton LaVey will turn the final page of the poem and suffer sore disappointment. Milton’s Satan never kills anyone, neither does he rape, steal, or utter vulgarities. He does not kidnap children, establish cults, teach magic, participate in Halloween, or teach teenagers to play Led Zeppelin records backwards. He is not even terribly interested in conning others into such foul activities. Rather, one could triangulate the personality of Milton’s Satan using just three figures from popular culture: singer Katy Perry, fictional boss Michael Scott, and motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

Joshua Gibbs The (Satanic) Power Of Positive Thinking.

Do read it all.

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