"My words will either attract the strong of mind or offend the weak one"
"What is freedom of expression? Without freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
- Salman Rushdie
From the very first draft of the very first chapter, we realised that The Chronicles of Enoch were going to offend some people, perhaps a lot of people. We know that the topics we are going to be handling are some sensitive ones.
We ar, however, of the long-held opinion that it is, effectively, the job of the artist to challenge how people think about and perceive what is around them. It is our job not only to entertain but to challenge ideas and lead our readers (in my case) to ask questions; not only about the topics we dramatise, but our words themselves. A true writer wants debate and opposition because that means people are thinking and they are talking.
"As a writer, you know you are doing your job well when they try to stop you from doing it."
If we are faced with controversy, that means we are challenging what needs to be challenged but, of course, as with everything else, there are lines that should not be crossed and consequences for crossing them.
Lines in The Sand
We know that we are supposed to defend freedom of expression and challenge societal norms. We know that controversy is part of our reason of being in many cases. We remember those who stood up when no-one else would and wrote what nobody else seemed to dare to.
We do indeed have the right to write what we want to, it is enshrined in the values of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression.
I take my stick and point at the sand.
Just because you can does not mean that you should.
I draw the line and wait for the inevitable questions.
Graphic murder and graphic rape. I do not think we should try to force these into the mainstream. I don't mind offending people so I will just say it; if you enjoy reading that, you might consider asking yourself why. Reading is meant to be a pleasure but taking pleasure from such things is...well...now, horror and gore have their place but pure gratuitousness for its own sake does, in my opinion, not
Graphic descriptions of the abuse of children. Though a horrifying trend and something which needs to be addressed and dealt with, we don't need to know about it, we don't need to read about it
Now, there are more, probably, but for me, those are the only reasons I would have for throwing a book in the bin and never returning to it. There is a worrying trend these days to represent these things, especially among new writers looking to make waves and use controversy and shock value to get immediate attention for their work but I ask them, is that the reputation you want to have as an artist?
Of course, my list of lines I do not cross will be different to other people's, that is normal and part of the process of learning.
Some say religion cannot be touched. Others say that gender identity or race must be addressed and the book's characters inclusive. Fair enough. I wouldn't tolerate racism or homohobia/sexism personally so no characters I write who practise that will come to a good end.
The Controversy List
There will be several things which will offend the tender sensibility in Darkness Within alone. Let me tell you about them;
The Roman Catholic Church, American Mega Church Evangelism, and most of the 'Christian Cults' of the USA were set up and are directly managed by Lucifer and his cohorts. The idea of this was to muddy the message and lead humans away from The Creator in order to prove his point. The demon Sammael is resident in Rome and is the Pope's closest adviser. Those who follow almost all branches of modern Christianity are, to a greater or lesser degree depending, following the Devil, which is ironic.
The angels are not pure and unblemished beings. Towards humans they are distant and slightly disdainful. The long lists of moral laws we have tacked on to the whole thing interest neither them nor their Father even vaguely. The clothes we wear, the buidling we go to on which day and what we call it is irrelevent to them, very much beneath their notice.
That the US military, as well as the militaries of most developed nations are under Lucifer's control, Abaddon uses them as a money making machine and sometimes as simple entertainment.
All of our conspiracy theories, fancy fantasies of New World Orders, aliens, faked moon landings, dodgy assassinations, etc are all the invention of the being who came up with internet porn.
A certain US politician in high office , who is replaced by a neutrotic demon bears quite a resemblence to a real politician and may or may not make satirical milage at his expense.
The modern Bible is essentially an invention designed to keep people both confused and oppressed. Lucifer is responsible for most of it, togther with his fellow high-ranking demons. They added bits, removed parts, brutally edited others. They did anything they could to remove any clear message or possibility for confusion.
That is just the beginning, though. To me, everything is fair game as long as it does not cross my line in the sand or be designed to specifically hurt people.
The Politically Correct Trap
Now, before we start, there is absolutely nothing wrong in treating people of any minority or anyone who does not conform to what society calls 'the norm' the same way as everybody else. I encourage and applaud those who face struggle every day.
Here we agree, right?
Being aware of offending and conscious adaptation of your behaviour to avoid that are great but, as with everything, it must be a choice. Let's be honest, there are ignorant and stupid people in the world, quite a few of them, who are content to blame others for their woes and hold very outdated opinions, not at all up to speed with society as a whole.
That is their inalienable right. You cannot force their worldview to converge with yours. There are going to be people who have highly inaccurate opinions about Black people, Asian people, LGBTQIA+ people in all their beautiful variety, Jews, Liberals, Republicans, Southerners, people from any country that is not theirs or hold any opinion which differs to their own....
With people existing in their infinite and all-splendoured variety, ignorant, hateful, and stupid also exists, it is unavoidable. They were either born that way or some negative life experiences may have made them that way. You can't look at them and know.
You can protest, you can campaign, you can be involved in activism and work to change opinions on the matter but you cannot force people to agree with you or be unable to voice opinions they feel are justified.
That is what led to Brexit, that is what led to Donald Trump (not Krampus)!!
Look, I'm in my mid 40's and I remember when it was fine to make racist jokes on TV and have white actors dressed up as black or Indian people in mockery and it was ok. Gay people were exaggerated and exposed to hilarity. Famous LGTBQIA+ people took the secret of their sexuality and identity to their grave, never being able to come out in public.
All that has changed for the better. We're not there yet but we're improving.
Education, you see, that's how it works. People believe this, so you teach them that and the smart ones learn. The stupid or wilfully ignorant ones will not.
It's just like school, college, university, etc. Everyone (in theory) attends the same classes, lectures and tutorials, everyone has access to the same books, everyone receives equal exposure to the same material but not everyone passes the final exam and those that pass do not all receive the same grades.
You cannot force everyone to pass. No law, no rule, and no amount of careful campaigning or protesting will encourage some people to either increase their grades or pass. They just don't have it in them
You could even say that they can't help who they are...
Now, stop before misquoting me because I am not defending bigots of any kind; judging anyone because of aspects, characteristics or behaviours they cannot help is always wrong.
Do you hate your child for misbehaving or placing themselves in danger? No, you educate them and present them with consequences. They tend not to do it again after that.
How Lucifer Drove in the Wedge
Now you see how he did it do you not? Identify differences and work on ignorance across the board. Make people scared of the different, feed the tribalism. He programmed these fears and hatreds deep into his religions and doctrines. The Dark Ages were one of his greatest victories because he bred a hatred of education and love of ignorance deep into the bones of our civilisation.
Before then, wisdom, even the folkesy kind those 'witches' had a lot of, were respected and looked up to. Being able to learn and grow was seem as a positive thing. Instead the devil replaced such beliefs that all those things came from him when the opposite was actually true.
Anything which could keep humans content and united was forbidden; anything that kept them divided and secretly guilty was encouraged. All the things we had in common were turned into sins and silly rules that were impossible to follow were introduced. Nobody could abide by all of them but that did not stop those who slavishly followed the obvious ones from looking down theirs noses at and feeling superior to those judged not to be doing so.
It all boils down to fear ultimately...
It was actually rather brilliant when you think about it. Afterall, feeling proud and superior for what someone else has done is an essential part of human nature.
Take a look at sports as an example; your team wins and you celebrate and mock supporters of the other team although you contributed nothing at all to the endeavour. It's the same with religion, your team is deemed to be the correct one so it's OK to do whatever you like to supporters of the other team when all you do is show up once a week.
The same thing can apply to socio-ethnic groups; yours is determined to be the dominant one but what do you do to contribute? You just show up and wear the t-shirt. as it were.
Controversy is impossible in the artist's world; we tend to think quite differently to other people and look an explanation of why things are as they are. We tend to think not in straight lines on curves or, at times, more complicated forms. Often we are misfits and therefore have sympathy and understanding of those that society applies the same label to; those that refuse to simply sit down and accept the shoddy treatment they are receiving as "their lot in life".
We see the world as everyone else sees it and decide that is not enough, so we use words, sounds, paints, and other materials to show it in a way be like better and dearly wish that others see it too as they share our hard work.
It is no coincidence that artists tend to be the first people to dictator rounds up during his revolution or one of many purges. We court controversy, are rebellious, and like to challenge the established way of doing things. We do not fit in with our heads down and question nothing; we question everything.
Nobody likes it when someone starts pointing out the holes...
The Chronicles of Enoch, over the course of our research, managed to find an awful lot of them and we intend to pick at each and every one.