Postscriptum on Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei

I would like to follow the series of articles I wrote about the Shin Megami Tensei alignments by getting down some thoughts in detail about how I see the Chaos alignment and what direction I would prefer it to go. You might also see me take the chance to flex some of the Chaotic thinking that I so like to indulge in.

There are two themes that persist in Chaos that are rather observable, and in some ways dovetail together: the first is freedom being more important than order, and the second is personal power. The elephant in the room with that is always Social Darwinism, it is always “might makes right”. This was originally portrayed as something of a consequence of the freedom emphasized by the Chaos alignment, in the vein of the classic criticism of anarchism, either that or simply the removal of a government or state, but it has had a habit of metastasizing into an ideological current in itself as an expression of Chaos. The irony with that, of course, is that a lot of Chaos endings didn’t include any ideas of a might makes right society at all. In the Chaos ending for Shin Megami Tensei II, all that happens is you put an end to the rule of Tokyo Millennium and create a world of freedom for humans, demons, and Mutants. In the True Demon ending for Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, there’s no talk of a world for the strong at all, and while you’re destroying the universe to abolish the cycle of death and rebirth, the whole auspice of that is that it’s done to realize free will in an ultimate sense, removed from the bonds of The Great Will, not to create a might makes right world (that project is instead one of the avenues of The Great Will being realized). The Chaos path of Raidou 2 is predicated entirely on individual free will and desire, living for yourself, in opposition to duty, “harmony with the world” (society), and living centrally for others. In the New Chaos route for Strange Journey Redux, any concept of Social Darwinist selection is eschewed entirely in favour of simply a world based in free will and co-existence with the demons. Between the games, the theme of Social Darwinism is in no way consistent.

There is a tension between the two themes that creates an obvious problem for the ideology of the Chaos alignment. At its core, in pretty much every incarnation of Shin Megami Tensei, Chaos is the alignment that values freedom above almost everything else. Its opposition to Law is predicated fundamentally on the fact that a world of Law means to some degree the abolition of freedom or at least the reduction thereof as the price to pay for a world of eternal peace and order (sorry, but the New Law ending path in Strange Journey Redux is fundamentally inconsistent for this reason), to say nothing of that order being contingent upon the absolute rule of God. The major problem with throwing “might makes right” into the mix is that, through that emphasis, it is entirely possible through that emphasis on freedom to become subverted, for tyranny to be supported on the back of power being exercized over others. Nocturne’s Reason of Yosuga, which can best be described as “officially Chaos but at the same time not really”, this manifests in the valorization not of freedom, but of hierarchy, which sets itself above and against freedom. If you think about it, to embrace might makes right as an ethical imperative leads only to self-defeat, considering that your enemy is YHVH, and YHVH got where he is by essentially knocking out the other gods. As the most powerful being, he would have the right to govern as he desires, even if that meant oppressing everybody. More consistent not only for the pursuit of freedom against the will of God and for traditional connotations regarding the namesake of Chaos would be the abolition of hierarchy itself as an enemy of freedom. It would certainly be a perfect opposite to Law, which fundamentally cannot oppose hierarchy, and you could probably count on Neutrality to be the side that deems this to be “unrealistic”. It would require that even any notions of a hierarchy shaped by the strong to be thrown out of the window.

But what to do about the question of power itself? That’s something that can’t really be divorced from the discourse of Chaos without entirely disregarding series tradition itself. But I believe I can present a take on this that may prove interesting. It all starts with how we look at power. The observation that power rules everything could be framed as in some ways different from the ethical imperative that might makes right. In fact, if you understand the state as an instrument of class rule, it’s not that much of a stretch to see politics as something that comes back to the exercise of power, or more specifically who exercises it. A small selection of people have power over the vast majority of others, and the vast majority of people have little real control over their own lives due to the nature of the economic system they live under. When you don’t have any real control over your own life, you don’t have any power that can be exercised usefully in your own sphere, you end up developing all kinds of pathologies and insecurities. Lots of older people like to complain about how people today are “perpetual children” or some nonsense, and never do talk about how they have very little access to housing, and little of the financial security their parents might have enjoyed. With independence, autonomy, power over your own life, foreclosed or at least delayed by economic realities, people lose the sense that they might actually assume power over their own lives, and can you really be surprised if people act like that’s the case? Even politicians serve as spectators as much as rulers, many of them having no real power to alter the system into which they enter, and so their recourse is spectacle and narcissism.

And so the proposition arises: the idea should be that, for freedom to be universal, power should be universal. Instead of power being afforded only to the one guy who can punch out everyone in his way, at which point you already have either the rule of YHVH or a Neutral outcome, why not create a world where everyone can freely assume power over their own lives, free from the confines of existing hierarchies and structures of authority, free from the grasp of ruling gods or gods of law, and free from the ambitions of any would-be despot. At its base, this is part of the core of the way Chaos tends to emphasize the flourishing of free will, without the order of God in the context of a mythic universe, because part of having that free will is the ability to exercise power over your own life.

But we would not be doing well to sideline some of the other themes involved, such as nature or co-existence with demons. Let’s start with nature in this regard.

Strange Journey Redux introduces a split between Mem Aleph’s vision of the “return” of savage nature and the new vision of Jimenez. Mem Aleph represents the “old” Chaos, with its emphasis on the rule of the Mothers, wrathful goddesses of the Earth, who want to kill most if not all of mankind in revenge for the ravages of the planet by turning the world into a society of brutal selection of fitness, while Jimenez, should you take the New Chaos route, represents the creation of a world of limitless free will and thereby equally limitless possibilities, where humans can become anything they want, co-exist with demons, and everyone can create their own new rules in a world of freedom. The difference is pretty noticeable, and it seems that Louisa Ferre (Lucifer) prefers this New vision to Mem Aleph’s narrow-minded view of humans. But where does this leave the theme of nature, which has been important to the traditional discourse of Chaos?

Nature could either be thought of this state of homoestatic balance and purity to which we are to return, akin to the idea of the return to the Garden of Eden found in certain mystical traditions, or it could be thought of as an existential state of chaotic and primeval spontaneity. The former can be seen as a Chaotic idea from the lens of a mother goddess, but is probably more consistent with Law. The latter can be thought of in terms of Taoist ideas such as “ziran” (meaning “spontaneity”, or more literally “self-so”), which designates something spontaneous, self-arising, and therefore natural, or a state of being those things, and is sometimes related to the nature of the Tao itself. In Japan the term ziran is often translated as shizen, and while shizen is often translated in English as “nature”, from the Japanese perspective this doesn’t actually mean the way “Nature” often does in the West (basically a way of designating raw natural environments such as forests or life outside the bounds of human civilization), and instead refers simply to spontaneous flow, without coercion or contrivance.

But, to incorporate a theme of wilderness might prove to yield interesting results in any case. Remember Jimenez in Strange Journey talking about wild souls. Louisa Ferre in the Redux version refers to impulsive souls, or “araburu tamashii”. In the Kojiki, the phrase “araburu no kami”, which can mean wild, savage, or unruly gods, is a term used by the gods of Takamagahara (the high plain of heaven) to refer to the indigenous gods of the land, otherwise known as the kunitsukami. These were simply the gods of the land, not evil beings, whose land their heavenly lands sought sought conquer, and they may even include gods who were worshipped before the ascent of the Yamato dynasty. In later syncretic Buddhism, the gods of Japan were divided between the honsha-no-kami, who were provisional deities that were actually manifestations of the Buddha, and the jissha-no-kami, the “real” kami who are deemed wild, evil, demonic gods unworthy of reverence, and this category tended to include the gods of Izumo, who were kunitsukami, such as Okuninushi. Here the native gods of the land are juxtaposed against gods from heaven who seek to control that land, as part of what is ultimately a mythic narrative created for the ruling Yamato dynasty, and are later recast as demons of the wilderness. Their designation as “real gods” is fascinating in that, although clearly intended from a hardline Buddhist perspective for “real” to mean the same thing as “your true colours” in the negative sense, can from a certain point of view be used to point to a broader chaotic reality, an idea that Bernard Faure sort of points to in his discussion of Bishamonten, Daikokuten, and Enmaten in Gods of Medieval Japan: Volume 2: Protectors and Predators. We see this in some other pantheons as well. We would note that the gods referred to as Asuras in Indian myth dwelled in the underworld, where they were the guardians of substantial wealth that resided there. The Asuras had their own natural source of wealth that the Devas did not. And so, since the Asuras did not share what belonged to them to the Devas, they became the enemies of the Devas, and are remembered as demons. In a weird way, Asura Lord and Surt being paired with Astaroth and Arioch makes some sense, Asura Lord representing the rebels against the devas and Surt representing the giants lead by Loki against the armies of Odin alongside two demons who join Lucifer’s rebellion against God. Christian culture also came to see the wilderness as a gateway to the demonic powers, not unlike how the Bible viewed the deserts surrounding the Holy Land as teeming with demons.

Of course, one other way of addressing the nature theme as a distinct current may be to, and I hate to say this, borrow from Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse in terms of its “monotheism versus polytheism” conflict, or some variation thereof (it doesn’t have to be framed in such a silly way, but let’s go with it provisionally). The “monotheistic” side of Chaos would obviously be represented by the forces of Lucifer, and would probably emphasize radical free will, while the “polytheistic” side of Chaos would probably be represented by wrathful mother goddesses in the fashion of Strange Journey, with a view towards an ideology of nature similar to the one propounded by Mem Aleph and the Gaians. Under this framework, we might even finally see Gaia in the game, unless it turns out that Mem Aleph was already the “Gaia” in the Cult/Ring of Gaia. The Law-aligned application of this would be that the “monotheistic” forces are obviously YHVH and his angels representing their order while the “monotheistic” forces comprise possibly the head gods and goddesses of various pre-Christian pantheons, or perhaps the Amatsukami, thus comprising the “gods of law”. But of course it’s much more interesting and less contrived to simply have Law and Chaos as inclusive, trans-cultural absolutes that comprise of much more than just YHVH versus Lucifer, as was the case in the original Shin Megami Tensei and in Strange Journey, which thus represent an intermingling of ideological concepts that form a whole.

As long-winded as that lead was we can move on to another theme, co-existence with demons. Insofar as the games like to emphasize Chaos as “the side of demons”, in contradistinction to Law being “the side of angels” and Neutral being “the side of humanity”, there is an angle that should be emphasized within Chaos more than anything: that demons do not have to be our enemies. It’s a hard sell considering that demons can be in many ways nasty to humans and it does require not only factoring in God being a million times worse than any demon but also the willingness to take an alternative perspective on familiar mythological tropes. For me that’s no problem, usually, but at the same time it’s not at all easy for many. But, in the process of all Shin Megami Tensei games, even though it is easy to frame relationship to demons as solely in terms of them serving you, you can realistically picture that, eventually, the demon summoner and the demons can seem quite close to one another indeed, to the point that it’s not impossible to imagine the human devil summoner being as something close to a friend or a comrade by the demons he summons, or simply the summoner in turn taking certainly a less-than-hostile view of demonkind. That’s the natural outcome of getting involved with demons for long enough. It’s also a product of demons and humans existing as opposite sides of a mirror. Demons, however they may be presented as something inhuman, have always been hinted to be, in truth, all too human, being drawn from the power of desire in humans, which is something communicated rather didactically in Shin Megami Tensei IV but has probably always been present in the series to some extent or other. We can see Isogai Shougo for instance refer to “the chaos that dwells in every human” in terms of passions or desires as the basis for Jimenez’s demonic transformation. As they come from the Abyss, or Makai, or the Expanse, whatever you want to call it, the demons represent a power dwelling in the human psyche that, as much as it can be said to be “dark”, accompanies Man forever as its eternal, timeless Other, always connected and yet separated by fear. That’s why the demons can’t live without humanity, and even if many demons don’t know that, Lucifer certainly does, and Jimenez certainly figures it out in Strange Journey’s New Chaos route while Mem Aleph was counting on him not thinking that through to its conclusion.

Free will, per Chaos parlance, may partly mean exactly the freedom to explore this Other, the power associated with it, and its potential for humans. As strange as the idea of co-existing with demons is, there exist myths and lore which do contain this idea. In fact, certain folkloric traditions in India and China, adjacent to Hinduism or Vajrayana Buddhism, apparently contain a belief that it is possible for humans in search of siddhi (spiritual powers) to access the underworld realm of Patala, home to the Asuras and the Nagas, through what are called “Asura’s Caves“, and stay with the Asuras (and Nagas) to live among them, acquire knowledge, access treasures, or even have sexual intercourse with female Asuras. Vedic Indian myth and folklore depicts the women of the Asuras as exceptionally beautiful and the bearers of magical drugs, which can apparently be procured by going to the mansions of the Asuras. In medieval European folklore, particularly within Germany, there is the legend of Venusberg, in which Tannhauser goes to the mountain in order to frolic with “the fairy queen” or worship a pagan goddess and he ends up living with them, sort of following a similar theme to the “Asura Caves”. If medieval beliefs regarding succubi and incubi are to be believed, the idea of demons living around humans and interacting with them was simply par for the course in the Middle Ages, just that the Christian culture of the day considered this a bad thing. In medieval Sweden, background folklore concerning spirits such as nymphs assisting hunters, fishermen and others may have transformed into the idea that those same spirits were agents or even manifestations of the Devil, and apparently there were some individuals who confessed to making deals with and even having sex with those spirits (though, confessions like this should usually be taken with a grain of salt). More saliently, in Japanese folklore, while there are many dangerous and hostile yokai, there were also many yokai who were considered rather friendly or at least simply amusing, some of whom are actually encouraged to live alongside humans, and the idea of yokai and humans co-existing seems to have been established enough in Japanese folklore and culture that there’s countless manga and anime that run with that premise.

In the games, it’s hinted that this is tied to peace with or liberation of desire, or even the invocation of it as a source of power. That’s not for nothing, in that in many religious cultures the “demonic” element is interpreted as a representation of desire that is usually seen as an obstacle to the realization of whatever spirirtual teaching or divinity the religion in question has in mind. Aleister Crowley recognized the spirits of the Goetia as “portions of thr human brain”, with the demons of the Lesser Key of Solomon representing the “lower” aspects of the psyche. But, it could also point to the theme of broader reality that we went over earlier. As Bernard Faure points out, again in Protectors and Predators, there was once a time when Mara was seen as an ambiguous source of reality, in the fashion of hongaku (“original enlightenment”) interpretation, at least according to Yusuke Takahashi (as in not the tennis player). Hongaku interpretation stressed a duality and unity between ignorance and enlightenment, the latter deriving its source from the former, which is reflected not only in some hongaku interpretations of Mara, but also Kojin, Mahakala, Matarajin, and Susano-o, positioning the wild realm of chaos, darkness, demons, and even desire and ignorance as an ambiguous source of enlightenment. That is a position that can seem very congruous with the conceits presented within Chaos, because it is the forces of Chaos, and uniquely them, who might take this view, since it is they who consider the demons to be potential the brothers and teachers of humans.

But there is one theme that hasn’t really been addressed at all here, one that Shin Megami Tensei IV introduced for Challenge Quests but never explored further: the dispensation of the universe. The Law-aligned Ancient of Days, representing God, seeks to carry it out, while the Chaos-aligned Sanat seems to oppose it. The game does not explore the theme further, but perhaps it is something worth exploring in a sort of return to the theme of free will and a core tenet of Chaos. Sanat, at least from his perspective, is trying to save humanity from the dispensation of the universe by getting mankind ready for war against the Ancient of Days, and presumably God. But what does “the dispensation of the universe” mean? The game never really explains that, but perhaps we can piece something together. Judging from Ancient of Days’ dialogue, he makes it seems like this is supposed to be some sort of destructive act of purification, at least in that he seems intent on destroying what’s left of humanity, but perhaps there’s more to it than that. Apparently the Japanese line for it is “uchuu no setsuri”, which means “providence of the universe”. Dispensation is a word that seems to mean, at least in certain contexts, the order of things that prevails at a given time, but in Christian theology it can mean certain ages of history or God’s plan, the distribution of good and evil, or it can mean something like divine providence. Providence can mean the governance, guidance, or the will of God. In context, the destructive act of purification presented by Ancient of Days can be thought of on similar terms. Remember that, in Nocturne, The Great Will’s whole deal is that it imposes a ruthless of death and rebirth for the purpose of destroying and creating new universes again and again until it can create a universe of perfection, free from sin but also devoid of free will. Even Apocalypse’s version, The Axiom, still seems to carry that over. A brutal regime of fate may thus be the true nature of the dispensation of the universe, which conflicts with the flourishing of free will. This, I think, should be explored more, and in a different way to Nocturne where completing the Amala Labyrinth meant annihilating the universe.

To finally summarize everything, we have a world to work with instead of the classical might makes right vision that, if we’re very honest, only serves to justify the order of things rather than smash it. Again, if the strongest has the right to rule, then logically YHVH would be the rightful ruler pf the universe because he is almost the most powerful being in the universe and got where he is by smacking down the other gods (as is explained straightforwardly in Strange Journey). Indeed, does YHVH not invoke his power to justify his authority and rule and therefore your obedience to him? But then I suppose that pint could also be turned into something salient from the Chaos perspective: namely that anything else YHVH justifies his rule is ultimately arbitrary or illusory and that it is power that is ultimately the real basis of his justification. In any case, the summary for what I’d like to see can be presented in bullet points for a collection of ideological flanks that form a broad ethos:

  • Freedom and the flourishing of free will as the primary emphasis, rather than strength as a way of organizing hierarchy, and because of this opposition to the Great Will/Axiom – or, to put it another way, freedom from God’s control
  • To that effect, hierarchy, at least worldly or human hierarchy, as something distinctly opposed to Chaos and therefore to be opposed by Chaos – such is consistent with the way Lilith talked about destroying existing structures of authority in Shin Megami Tensei IV
  • To the extent that power is still important for Chaos, the idea should be that everyone is able to attain power over their own lives, rather than be subject to a hierarchy of interchangeable absolute rulers who win and reign by brute force at the expense of freedom
  • Co-existence with demons as a key flank that separates Chaos from the other alignments, given greater emphasis as an expression of harmony between the two poles of human life
  • The gods and demons of Chaos as the representatives of a kind of wild nature defined not simply by the lands of the Earth but by a nature found within humans, something raw that is obscured by the order of God and civilization
  • The war between Law and Chaos as war over the dispensation of the universe, as the mechincal providence of The Great Will/Axiom, with Chaos on the opposing side whose mission it is to give mankind the power to oppose The Great Will/Axiom

If you are looking for something “extreme” from this, to fit the ambiguousness and difficulty of the choice between Law, Chaos, and Neutrality, I’d say you could still make the point that what the zen of Chaos amounts to could be described as Anarchy (no, not the shitty Apocalyse ending), not only in the sense of doing away with worldy hierarchies and authority but also in the sense of existential anarchy, doing away with the supreme authority over the universe itself, to leave only the flourishing of freedom among humans and demons. To realize Law is to realize the Thousand Year Kingdom or the dispensation of the universe, to realize Chaos can be to realize Anarchy, and to realize Neutrality is basically to just do neither of those in favour of, well, anything really.

With Shin Megami Tensei V on the horizon it is still too early to say what Chaos wilI mean here, but beyond that there are reasons to be excited. Arioch, one of the four demon generals of Chaos from the original Shin Megami Tensei, is making his grand return to the main series, and with Surt also featured in one of the trailers, it’s easy to be left wondering if Astaroth and Asura-Oh will make it as well. That’s a big deal because it means that, at last, the Four Archangels of Law might be paired against four Chaos counterparts once again for the first time since the original game. With Mara, Beelzebub, and classic Lucifer in the mix too, it’s safe enough to assume that the old gang of devils is getting together again, and we can safely assume the presence of Lilith as well. Without knowing exactly what Chaos entails in this game this says little, but it should be a welcome development in the time that remains.

And now, in the words of the Chaos Phantom in Shin Megami Tensei, let us walk the path of Chaos, from which everything is born.

Can’t wait

Why freedom must have its downsides

With free will there’s always the downside. If you are free to do good, you must also be free to do bad, otherwise you are incapable making moral choices because the choice is no longer in your hands to be moral or sinful. If people are free to speak and express themselves however they want, that must mean they are capable of being rude, offensive, crass, even downright mean or cruel in spirit, even if we don’t like it, because if we take away people’s right to be jerks, we have degraded part of our free will.

Yes, evil actions must not be allowed to come to pass, nor must evil itself be allowed to proper, and there must be punishment for either of those things if there is to be any semblance of justice in this world, but if humans do not have ability to do bad things, free will does not exist, and neither does morality or justice because those concepts depend on people being able to make choices.


We often think of angels as heavenly versions of humans. They usually look like us, have gender (though not necessarily genitals), have a sweet, kindly, caring nature, and act in the best interests of human beings. In popular culture, they are used as the good genie, to represent doing the “right thing”. But what some us of either don’t know or forget is that this is not how angels are depicted in the Bible and other Judeo-Christian texts. That depiction came from European Medieval and Renaissance era artists as an artistic liberty designed to distinguish angels from other human figures, especially in paintings full of human figures. In traditional lore, angels are usually not shiny human-like beings, but are mostly eldritch in their appearance, and they often get weirder as you go up the orders. But most importantly, they are sexless, they usually don’t have free will, and serve God without question. In traditional Jewish lore, there is no such thing as an evil or rebel angel and even Satan works for God and carries out his orders. They are essential robotic supernatural beings, which is how I’ve always thought of them.

This leads me to think of the term angelization, which I thought I had come up with originally. As I imagine it, it means to convert a supernatural being into an angel, which would mean to transform a supernatural creature into a robotic, passionless, desireless creature with no free will. I even think this is an alternative story to Lucifer’s fall from heaven. In this version of events, Yahweh wanted to turn the demons into robotic angels, and Lucifer fought against it, thus the conflict between Yahweh and Lucifer begins. Since the Bible is written from Yahweh’s point of view, he would have you believe that Lucifer was an angel who stood against God and lost. The reality could be different, as Yahweh is not who he says he is.

The equivalent of angelization in human terms is like a kind of  spiritual lobotomy, the removal of free will, passion, desire, free thought, self, and even sex and gender if possible. Thus, becoming angelic is not an admirable or desirable outcome.

The God of the Bible does not grant free will

That’s a pretty weird nebula right there. You know, I just noticed a tear dropping from his eye. Why is he crying?

I think I already mentioned that freedom has no value in religion, but I’m here to elaborate on the Christian (or should that be Abrahamic) position of free will with regards to the God of the Bible. The Bible tends to contradict itself many times, and I think free will is an example of a topic that suffers this.

One example is in the Book of Exodus, where Moses beseeches the Pharaoh many times to let his people go and the Pharaoh says no. You would think that Pharaoh said no of his own free will, but you’d be wrong. The God of Moses hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not listen Pharaoh’s commands.

“But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses” – Exodus 9:12

There is no good reason why a God who would grant free will and let humans behave on their own accord would alter the state of the Pharaoh’s heart so as to deliberately make him remain stubborn on his position on slavery, as if he is trying to justify the carrying out the ten plagues.

One could also say the Garden of Eden is an example too. Think: the God of the Bible creates humans in complete ignorance, as stupid yet naturally curious creatures, and supposedly allowing their free will but commanding them not to use it, especially considering the apple is of the tree of knowledge, so it’s like he’s actively preventing humans from being anything other than stupid creatures who obey this will and punishing the whole species, all generations, for not only rebelling against what amounts to oppression, but also for inadvertedly going along with something God himself set up. I mean think, he created humans to be weak, stupid, and supremely ignorant, yet curious, and their curiosity would inevitably lead them to go against God’s will and eat the fruit, as though he either takes pleasure in punishing people (unjustly) or he has some kind of plan involved, or both.

Does that sound familiar?

But let’s go into this in general. The Bible tries to tell us that God grants free will and brings freedom to humans.

“…where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

How can God give freedom when (1) he creates us and programs us to be horrible and stupid creatures, yet also curious enough to eat the tree of knowledge to identify God and learn good on their own, (2) he watches over us and sees all of what we do, hence knows what we do, (3) apparently knows not just everything he have done but also everything we will do, (4) gives us instincts and desires and supposedly free will while expressly forbids us from using it and gets pissed whenever we don’t act a certain way or worship any god other than him, and (5) from the beginnings sets all humans beings on a course to hell as their default afterlife, with the only remedy to their condition being the belief in the blood sacrifice of his son, Jesus, and receiving him as Lord and Saviour, and to top it all off he has us choose between accepting Jesus and spending eternity after death praising God’s name or spend an eternity getting fucked up the ass by trident prongs in hellfire. All of that seems like he has some kind of indescribable plan involving the suffering of millions of human beings.

Considering that, do you honestly believe free will exist in the Biblical universe, or that God grants free will? Considering this, do Christians really believe in free will?

What Demolition Man has to teach us about trying to make a world of order

I was watching Demolition Man for what is officially the second time, and the idea for this post hit me: Demolition Man has something to teach about the futility of trying to make a world of order.

Think. In the movie, we have a city called San Angeles, a merging of San Francisco and Los Angeles that formed after a massive earthquake in 2010 (or at least in the movie’s version of events), where all crime seems to have been eliminated, so has any kind of fun and excitment. Things don’t happen there anymore. Swearing is illegal. Abortion is illegal. Pregnancy is illegal if you don’t have a licence (you need a licence to be pregnant? What the fuck!). Physical sex is illegal, so instead there’s only the most unerotic thing imaginable. And if you want to make babies, you have to apply for a process in which your seed is purified and planted into a woman. Smoking is illegal. Drinking alcohol is illegal. Meat, spicy food, and chocolate are illegal. Contact sports are illegal. You live how supreme dictator Raymond Cocteau wants you to live. And the police are total pussies who are untrained to deal with any kind of violence whatsoever, thus incapable of dealing with 20th century criminals like Simon Phoenix. The ways of the 20th century are deemed as “primitive”, and described as “gratefully forgotten”. To me, the people of San Angeles have completely rejected not just their freedom, but their humanity in favour of comfort, harmony, and order. Makes me sick.

And then, when Phoenix shows up, the order falls apart. As the movie goes on, we’re shown just how pathetic the attempt to create true order and purity is. Right down to Cocteau’s plans to create a “perfect society” and a beacon of order, which he describes as having “the harmony of an ant colony and the purity of a flawless pearl”. Reminds me of how in Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne, and the Megami Tensei series in general, The Great Will (a.k.a. YHVH) keeps creating, destroying, and rebirthing worlds and universes until he creates a universe that is without chaos or vice and no one can oppose him, and everything is in perfect harmony and accordance with his will.

That ball of light is The Great Will, or Kagutsuchi. Can you deny that him and Cocteau have any similarities?

When the order starts cracking, no one in the “perfect society” can do jackshit about it, except for someone who was a hero in the 20th century for being a no compromise action cop. All Cocteau wants to do is try to preserve harmony and order, and the patheitc way of life he created, meanwhile those who live underground try to rebel but most of the time have to steal food because the alternative to living in a perfect, harmonious, utterly pure dictatorship is to live underground in near-starvation. And in the end, all Cocteau’s society is doing is trying to hide from chaos and cut ourselves off from our humanity.

One of the characters, Lenina Huxley, has a collection of artefacts from the past, and is ridiculed for being interested in what is seen as a barbaric society. You know what? Even if it was barbaric compared to a pussy state, I’m sure I’d prefer a barbarian country over what Cocteau would create: a world that is nigh completely devoid of free will. And that’s what true order is. It is a state without any primal nature, free will, or power or strength. It is complete perfection and harmony, and complete perfection and harmony, as it turns out, is at best, impossible, and at worst, worse than death ever could be.

What is freedom?

At the art college I attend, I have a new brief where I have to deal with the concept of freedom. Seems easy enough for me, since I have an idea of freedom. But when we gathered yesterday morning and were asked our idea of freedom, I kinda felt like that idea was under attack and thus becoming more confused. Have I ever defined freedom on this blog? Either way, it’s time for me to sure up my conviction.

Freedom, or liberty if that works better, is the condition of not being controlled or oppressed by the government, or any other overarching entity that can manipulate you (because sometimes it’s not just the government who can oppress you; spare a thought for those who erode our freedoms using the power of money). It is the condition in which you can say what you want while having that speech oppressed by no one, not even the public. It is the condition of being able to express yourself as you see fit, believe whatever you want, and think how you please. It is the condition of being able life your life for yourself, and in any way you choose (provided you have the means). It is the condition to pursue pleasure, joy, and happiness without oppression. It is freedom from banality and from being forced to live with mediocrity. It is freedom of sexual expression, to explore sexuality in anyway you wish without being oppressed by the ignorance and traditions of the prudes (you know, as in sexual repression). It is the condition of having the power to forge your own path and make your own road to walk. Freedom is power.

But freedom and liberty also carries responsbility for your actions. You see, if there is no one to control you, then it is now YOU who must be accountable for your actions, and you are the sole person responsible for protecting your freedom. Some might even argue that freedom or free will is essential to morality, probably based on the idea that one can only make moral or immoral choices if he is free to choose them. Anyways, if your liberty is threatened, you must oppose whoever, or whatever, dares threaten it. You must prepared to refuse, reject, resist anything that threatens your freedom, be prepared sacrifice whatever is necessary or can be sacrificed in the name of freedom. And don’t forget to protect your freedom, for it is something that can always be broken by evil individuals who seek authority or to take advantage of the weak and the ignorant. This most often requires independence, strong will, and some self-reliance. Be warned, apathy shown towards your freedom and your power will lead you only to slavery and oppression, for the apathetic are the easiest to control.

There’s a kind of freedom we had as children: the freedom to enjoy life. That classic joie de vivre in our minds that gets killed when we become adults, because we become trained up as hamsters for the machine, and eventually, most of us surrender to the pressure to conform and be a slave, and the desire to enjoy life is replaced by the fear of debt. Hell, how can anyone call any society free if you’re afraid to tell your boss to fuck off? But who now will speak for that freedom? The freedom of joie de vivre? The freedom to enjoy life?

I should take care to mention that I do not care much about systems, and am more concerned about freedom, mainly because every time I try to create or find a system supposedly designed around freedom, I run into problems. Besides, what’s the point of sacrificing freedom in the name of system supposedly designed around it?

And that’s what freedom means to me: the great sacred value equalled only by justice, that is to be cherished as such, like a sacred flame.

Let no one tread on you.

I’m sick of my actions being attributed to autism

I happen to be autistic (I remember being diagnosed when I was 2 years old), but don’t let that change any perceptions you may have of me. If anything, I hate being lumped in with any other special needs people just because I am autistic. I think to myself, “I’m nothing like them, so why do I have to be treated like them?” The only reason I’m put in the same group is because there’s people who think I’m still 5 or 6, or some kid with a disease, and just have cheques to clear. Whatever good times I had do not matter, for this is not about the times I may have had, but rather my feelings about how I’m viewed by adults around me. Hell, even the friggin’ guy who diagnosed me thought I wouldn’t be worth spit. He was the first asshole in my life, I didn’t know why he deserved it till now.

My biggest problem seems to be the apparent lack of recognition of my own free will or accountability to my own actions on the part of some learning support workers and even my own goddamned mother. I am fuckin’ sick of my thoughts, my actions, everything I think I do and say being regarded as nothing more than what my autism does, when in fact *I* said what I said, *I* did what I did, an *I* thought what I thought! Is that the way of the science of mankind? To deny the existence of our free will and our agency? It sounds like I’m going off topic, but this is how I see it. It’s though just because I am autistic, it’s believed that the autism calls the shots, not me, which is strictly bullshit. At least in the eyes of someone like me who believes in free will. Why should be considered someone without free will, unlike the rest of us?

As a kid, I used to think that being autistic sucked because I believed it made me lack concentration in school, which in itself is just a work camp anyway. But I eventually learned that I’m actually bright, just that my brain works differently. And in that time, I still get bombarded by false truths about my autism.

So what if my brain works differently? I’m still a human being dammit! A human being with free will! And just because I’m autistic I have to be considered as absent of that? Screw that! In my mind, I am so much more, so much brighter than what people see. The thing is, autism is all I really have, nothing big. There were probably kids in special needs units where I was who were in my same position, having autism and pretty much nothing else, but don’t have the same thoughts I do, at least not the same hatred. Still they’re potentially brilliant people, perhaps with the same brightness as me, and so it’s a tragedy they’re gonna be in the same situation of being diagnosed, considered worthless by the doctors at infancy, and being treated like they have no control. Well if I’m right, then I for one feel outrage, and sympathy for others who are autistic and yet have the brilliance and radiance of mind.

Subliminal messages and Free will

Admit it, this is making you think of playing Dead or Alive: Paradise right now, and making you wish you wanted her in your pants.

As you can guess, I am a believer in free will, and as you can also guess, my belief in free will and choice often runs into conflict with the idea espoused by others that we are brainwashed by subliminal messages, or other forces beyond our control, and that no choice or action is our own. I, however, have a different solution.

You know that ads and other media often carry subliminal messages. However, these messages are merely inspirations that steer or affect your desires, choices, and later actions, which are still your own. Therefore, even though there are influences, you are still responsible for all your actions, thoughts, desires, and choices. That’s why I believe that just because we have subliminal messages doesn’t mean there is no social free will.

For instances, the image for this post (screenshot of the PSP game Dead or Alive: Paradise) is an example of the classic “sex sells” tactic. You all know how this goes. Put in a sexually attractive figure and use it sell your product. A nice sexy woman for the young men, and a physically well-toned man for the women. Now, this does send messages inspiring you to buy the product, due to the association of the product with the sexually attractive figure. But it is your choice, that you are responsible for, just that the message affects said choice. Sex isn’t the only thing that sells. For men, power, boldness and strength are quite appealing as well. Meanwhile, in women, sensitivity and affection seems to be a recurring source of appeal. And of course, beauty has great appeal to all, in different ways. This could just be a generalization on my part, coming from opinion.

It helps, though, to be aware of the messages, that things do influence and inspire you in some way, but at the same time, do not deny your accountability to your own actions.