With each existential bite of birthday cake, I tend to spin madly in my mind – those terrible self-evaluations of my life’s direction crease my already curved spine.
The question of ‘Am I living right?’ emerges and with it the ancient internal conflict of light and dark.
I love serial killer dramas, authors who drank heavily and womanized – these fascinations personally come innocent, instinctual.
So, am I inherently evil? Philosopher Thomas Hobbes thought so, “The condition of man…is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.” Is that “war” out of fear or does humankind fancy conflict?
I argue the latter. Each of us wants our lives to play out like a Jerry Bruckheimer film; when that doesn’t happen, we get antsy. The gel-haired, pleated pants-sporting, thirty-something commits adultery before he slowly dies of boredom, the priest drowns in pent up lust, and the ex-girlfriend swaps sexual orientation in the name of hipster chic. When the love we dreamt turns out to require work and patience on our part, the movie in which we star turns noir.
Do I believe the evil to be inherent? Not necessarily. I think there resides a permanent darkness that courses through the heart of man – not instinctual malice, only stark fascination. When I drive by a wrecked car, I’m going to peer inside. When I go to funeral, I join with fidgeting mourners standing in line, awaiting a chance to stare into an open casket. When I leave a worship service, I walk away with a sultry dose of church pew gossip.
The utilization of dark fascination has streamlined into popular culture. A quick glance at Billboard’s music charts or the most popular films make the obsession evident. Lady Gaga combines odd Catholic bombast with shameless macabre. Rising rapper, Tyler The Creator, boasted high album sales due largely to negative press against his raging homophobia and misogyny.
Now, even the sugarplum formula of teen romance films is no longer safe. The “Twilight” series rides high, with middle school girls foaming at the mouth for cadaverous vampires. I feel like I’m living in the sequel to the Victorian era.
Often the best art is made when an artist reaches a terrible low, but trying to prostitute the dark curiosities lying dormant inside is a slippery slope. Focusing on the depraved side of the psyche leaves one isolated from the norm. An extended disconnect often leaves a curious soul unable to reconnect.
Think of dark fascinations like this: when you walk outside at night, at first you cannot see anything. You stumble blind; barefoot tripping over garden hoses and family pets, but eventually your eyes become accustomed. You can see in the dark. The environment no longer frightens.
The norms become boring, and only deeper shades of black entice. Pretty soon, weddings garner a roll of the eyes. The only invitation accepted—a wake to entertain the wandering mind. So remember, if you find the seedy underbelly of life enticing, be sure to take a flashlight with you as you enter the night.