10 February, 2008

Ascension, and Seven Sins

I've long been intrigued by the term 'ascension', and the ideas it conjures. To me, it's sort of like a more appealing version of 'enlightenment'. In fact, ascension is the main theme (and current title) of one of the two 'major' stories I'm working on trying to write (which I believe I've mentioned before). Maybe the idea's not entirely original, but I have a personal attachment to it, so I'm not concerned. My story is structurally similar to The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, but the major difference is that while Dante was merely a visitor, the character in my story is an 'inmate' - he's not just taking a tour, so he's actually quite invested in his journey.

It's not like I've made any progress on the story in the past few months, but it *has* been coming up in my thought stream the past few days. One part in particular. While exploring hell, the main character is brought before a trial of the commanding demons of the abyss. These are the most powerful of the fallen angels, who once served under God, but they have since been transformed by their hatred in a way that reflects the nature of their individual crimes against God. Specifically, there are seven of these demons, who each originally defined one of the seven deadly sins. The trick for me is making the original sin seem like something noble (because admittedly, the aim of my story is to portray God as the villain), and yet, make their present form a believable, if extreme, extension of that frame of mind. I have no intention of making the devil look like a good guy. I mean, he's still badass and everything, but he's evil for all the right reasons. It's like, if you throw an innocent person in jail for life, and they spend their entire life harboring a grudge which grows inside them like a cancer, ultimately turning them into an evil monster seemingly without conscience. But he's really just acting out his frustration against fate and the whims of the creator, whom he secretly draws plans against. Well, that's totally the undercurrent of my story.

Anyhow, I've been thinking about those fallen angels, and what they'd be like, based off of the ideas of the seven deadly sins. There's something endlessly fascinating about the seven deadly sins. I like it when things are organized into a nice pattern, and seven is one of my favorite numbers, but I'm sure a large part of the appeal comes from the fact that these are vices, and they have that "bad boy" image. I mean, I've never been particularly interested in the seven holy virtues! So anyway, you see the theme of the seven sins come up a lot, but again, that doesn't concern me. I have yet to find the perfect representation of them, and I feel like I might be able to draw that out of my own head. I recently picked up a straight-to-video movie (called Fallen Angels), that told a story about seven sin-related demons, but regretfully, after getting so excited about it, it ended up coming up short of what I was hoping for.

Of the ideas I have so far, I know the leader of the group will be Pride, as expected. And tied in with vanity, he's the only demon who's able to maintain a relatively beautiful form. Granted, I use the term 'beautiful' in a very relative sense. He's still demonic in appearance, but whereas the other demons are actually disgusting, Pride has something of a more statuesque appearance. In addition to their form, each of these fallen angels has a favorite punishment related to their sin, as well as a backstory about how they initially committed their sin and were expelled from God's kingdom. I'm not about to explain everything I have so far right here; I just want to give you a general idea of what's on the table.

In addition to Pride, Gluttony is a rather easy form to figure out. He's hideously bloated, with many mouths, particularly a huge one on his bulbous belly. And his favorite punishment is, unsurprisingly, eating his victims. Some of them are pretty straightforward - giant phallus and tentacles on Lust, who likes to rape his victims; large muscles and short temper on Wrath, who has a habit of going berserk; etc. - while others are a little harder to crack (Envy?). But either way, what sells these characters is their histories - in a sense, their humanity. Trying to create these characters and fit them into a timeline, keeping them interesting, while maintaining the spirit of the overarching story/goal. I guess that's playing a part in slowing me down.

In addition to the seven fallen angels based on the seven sins, I've thought about adding other demons into the pantheon, based around other concepts that didn't make the seven, like lies, and perhaps things like fear or decay. I also want to use classic names, although then I get concerned about pre-existing mythologies, and matching the wrong name to the wrong personality. But I like the idea of taking the different aspects of the devil, called by different names, and splitting them into distinct personalities. It also parallels the method I used for naming the regions of hell, by taking various names for hell from various belief systems, and using their descriptions to create distinct sections of the entire underworld.

I really think this is an incredibly cool story, and I don't know if that shows through at all in what I've explained here, or anywhere else. It probably sounds really cliche, which is understandable, but I've already said that this is my story, and I want to tell it. Course it's hard to get over the feeling that no matter how cool I think the idea of it is, in the end, it might not be all that amazing a read. But then, there's only one way to find out. Although I like to think things out extensively before committing anything to the page, I feel it would be beneficial to start writing more, as a way of getting those creative juices flowing. Besides, if I don't like something or change my mind, there's always room for revision, right?


  1. Well I definetly think it sounds incredible. And not cliche. I mean, maybe if it was Hollywood it would sound more normal or something. But honestly I can't imagine too many people making a story like that. I mean it sounds a lot darker than Memnoch.

    I of course believe the 7 deadly sins are all virtues, since excess is the biggest virtue (anything worth doing is worth doing to excess, enjoyment is the point of life). Anton LaVey also makes that argument about the 7 Deadly Sins. If you haven't read The Satanic Bible you might want to considering it lists like 50 or more different names for Satan and devils of different cultures. You can borrow it if you want.

  2. You ever hear about why Lucifer tempted Adam & Eve with the apple? Satan was making the point to God that mortals were inferior beings, capable of being corrupted, unlike the more worthy Angels. Or at least that's one explanation for it, and I've never heard a better one.

  3. Isn't Satan's very existence proof that even the superior beings, the angels, were capable of being corrupted? So if mortals could be corrupted, at worst, that makes them equal to the angels. Unless you want to consider that Satan was never corrupted, he was just corrupt. But in that case, you have angels who are capable of being corrupt, and mortals that may or may not be capable of being corrupt, making them, at worst, still no worse than angels. Unless you want to argue that the possibility of being able to be corrupted is worse than the possibility of simply being corrupt. Is the ability to become corrupt worse than the ability to simply be corrupt? I would think the existence of pure evil would be more of a sore point than simple weakness in the face of temptation. So maybe Satan could have been making the point that humans weren't perfect, which could be a slander against God, in whose image they were made, but I think the angels' cause is already lost by that point. (Which begs the question, in whose image were the angels made?)

  4. But Satan wasn't corrupt at all, no matter how you slice it, in my opinion. What did he do wrong? Go against a blind, oppressive ruler who demands cowering obediance and refuses to give forgiveness? I don't see it as a case of Satan being corrupt, I see it as a case of Satan seeing what God couldn't understand. God's the one who created Hell anyway, for Satan. I guess if Satan's torturing people in Hell, that can be hard to justify, but my feeling is that Satan knows exactly what he's doing and just does it because he feels it's right. There's always the argument that Satan's evil is required in existence for God's love to make any sense and have any worth, but of course I don't think even in the hypothetical Christian world that God has any love to give in the first place.

  5. So then, does taking a bite out of an apple kindly offered to you by a snake, despite having been warned by God not to eat the fruit from that tree, count as being corrupted? If Satan's falling out with God doesn't equate to corruption, then should man's falling out with God be judged any different?

  6. I can certainly see the argument for why it should be, since Satan was trying to prove a point. What was Eve's purpose? Solely to satisfy a random urge.

    It's like on all of those TV shows when the kids technically disobey the rules but they're doing the right thing. A lot of TV parents think you should punish the kids for disobedience despite their superior judgment, and that's the kind of square God is too, but Satan wasn't necessarily doing something wrong, he was just doing something against the rules.

  7. So you're saying that satisfying a random urge is inherently wrong? Actively deceiving a person into breaking an [allegedly] unjust rule is justified, but being the one deceived into breaking the rule is not? How is Eve saying "oh, God's rule about not eating this fruit is ridiculous anyway", any more heinous than Satan defying God? If anything, it's less extreme, because Eve isn't opposing God outright. She just made a little faux pas, which happened to be a sore issue for God.

    The bottom line is, it doesn't matter what your opinion of Satan is - I don't think God is gonna agree with you that Satan is righteous. Thus, even if Satan proves that mortals can be corrupted, it still doesn't make them any worse than angels. I can understand if Satan's point was to prove that mortals are not perfect, and maybe in a roundabout way insult God himself, but it doesn't say much about the relationship between angels and mortals, from what I can tell.

  8. I just can't agree with you. Deliberate intention and meaning is the difference, and that's a huge thing. Satisfying an urge isn't "wrong", but when you're breaking a rule, doing it for no "good" reason is a lot different than doing it for the pleasure of the flesh, being ignorant both of what you're doing and of any purpose behind it. I don't think the fact that Satan disobeyed God means that he was corrupt in the least, and I do think the fact that Eve was convinced to do something uncouth by Satan proves Satan's point that humans are inferior to angels. Having a legitimate point makes all the difference. It's like if two kids bring a gun to school. One of them can't defend his action at all and can give no reason for why he brought the gun, he says he just felt like it for the hell of it. The other kid brought the gun because a third kid said that he was going to "go Virginia Tech" on the kids at the school and the kid who brough the gun was too embarassed to notify an adult but wanted to make sure nothing bad happened. That kid will probably be in trouble too, but it will be more leniant because he knew what he was doing and he had a good reason. One kid showed himself to be reckless while the other showed himself to be intelligent and caring. And I bet Satan thought God wasn't the senseless square that he turns out to be, thus expecting no punishment. I don't think he was trying to insult God, he was solely trying to make the point that angels are more worthy (more intelligent, strong-willed) than the reckless and easily convincable mankind, and I think he made that point well.

  9. I guess that should be "...doing it for A good reason instead of no good reason for the flesh...." in that first part.

  10. Your perspective makes a little more sense to me now, although I'm not sure how Adam managed to escape the hotseat in all of this. I can see your point, but it's hard to say much more without knowing all kinds of things that are just uncertain, like qualities and characteristics of other angels, as well as exactly what Adam and Eve's intentions were when they ate the fruit, and what God actually thought about both the angels and mortal humans, etc. I'm starting to get curious about where (and when) the idea of angels came from, anyway. I mean, all this stuff about hierarchies of angels and the revolt of Lucifer and all that, where does that occur in the bible? I don't claim to have read the whole book, but right from the beginning, God creates the world, he creates man, and he has a tendency to visit his chosen ones personally, with seemingly no mention of a host of angels at his command. It just seems like it has to be an afterthought, like a retcon or something.

  11. More questions on angels: did God create them, or were they already there? Were they crafted in the image of God, too? Where did they exist? In the physical world? Does there actually exist a spiritual realm, and what is it like? If there are angels existing in a spiritual realm, then what purpose is there to create a physical world and mortal humans? Is it just an experiment? Did God even expect the humans to be superior to angels in the first place? I'm starting to question just how much of an impact Satan's point would make. Isn't it obvious? How could mortals possibly be expected to be as good as demigods, anyway? Is that just God's pride, or what?

  12. From a philosophical standpoint, is it even possible to corrupt without being corrupt? I mean, is not the willingness to corrupt others itself evidence of corruption? Is corruption a two-way process? Does 'to corrupt' also mean 'to be corrupted'? Does corruption also corrupt the corruptor?

    Granted, this stance puts a lot of weight on the term 'corruption', what it means, and the relevant party's perspectives on what can and can not be considered corrupt.

    Even if Satan believes his actions do not warrant corruption, does he believe that what he is tempting the mortals to do is something corrupt? Is he merely teaching them how to be like him and question authority, or is he willfully tricking them into doing something corrupt? If the latter is true, then does that not make Satan corrupt himself? And in the former case, he is merely attempting to raise mortals to a level of enlightenment that he already considers himself to have reached.

    I think that, possibly, corruption has nothing to do with it.