It occurs to me that despite much analysis of the word "evil" within these rants, I have never shared with you, my valued readers, what my personal views on the matter actually are. In Concepts of Evil one and two, we discussed the types of motivations that can lead to the word's usage and things which are often given the name "evil". In part three we analyzed others analysis of the word and some of the controversy and debate surrounding it. These things are all well and good, but what does a villain really think about the word evil? What does someone who deliberately places themselves beneath the banner of evil really think about the idea behind it, on a personal level?
First off, I must say that I'm incapable of reacting to the word "evil" negatively. The word itself has no distinctly negative connotations in my personal vocabulary or psychology. This is not to say that I don't realize that, for most people, evil = bad. I understand this very well; logically. But emotionally I have a deep soft spot in my heart for the word. In my opinion, "evil" can never be used as an insult because; simply... it's not insulting. To call something or someone evil is to imply that they are an enemy. The word connotes power, as it implies something which is an extreme threat. Being seen as an enemy or as a threat is not necessarily bad in my opinion; in fact it can be quite good. After all, if you ever manage to accomplish or succeed at anything in life you will gather some enemies along the way. It's just unavoidable. In my world, evil = bad for someone else, and that is by no means necessarily bad for me.
No doubt my personal views on the idea of evil are largely influenced by the fact that I not only have trouble with the idea of all encompassing standards for morality (right and wrong) on a logical level; but I'm unable to understand it on an emotional one as well. I can only see humans as individual organisms and my ideas, standards, believes, wellbeing, pleasure and pain are not yours. Another individual's plight does not have to necessarily affect me in any way. And considering that I believe that we humans are often in competition with one another, being considered evil by another person can be very complimentary. That's why it's so amusing to me when I hear people use the word evil against others. It's like a bunch of mice accusing a snake of being a threat to their existence and way of life. Do you think that a predator really has a problem with being considered a threat? Isn't that what being a good predator is all about? And if you consider the fact that all humans do have to compete in one way or another then shouldn't we all have some predatory instincts within us?
Of course, you could simplify this by saying that since I believe that all encompassing standards of morality are b.s. anyway, it should be no surprise that I don't find the word evil to be negative. I mean, without any moral preconceptions, all other connotations behind the word are extreme, but in many ways potentially positive or at least, empowering. Basically, if one does not accept common standards of morality, then evil can never be (completely) bad.
Aside from my personal beliefs about right and wrong, I can also understand how my early childhood exposure to the word could easily have an impact on how I perceive it. When I was growing up, the word evil was so politically incorrect that I don't remember ever hearing it used to describe any real events. Part of this most likely has to do with the fact that I've never been very big on current events and when you're a kid you don't always fully understand what's going on in the world anyway. If something bad happened, it was always because "this person just messed up, or had an addiction, or was mentally unbalanced or really desperate, abused as a child, careless, emotionally neglected, just getting attention, didn't know any better; or they were ordered to by God, Satan, Lincoln or their neighbor's dog". The only time I recall hearing the term evil growing up, was to describe characters in movies, television and comic books.
To compound this confusion was the fact that these so called "evil" characters were the ones that I liked and sympathized with the most. I understood greedy, intelligent, manipulative, vengeful and selfish characters (who, incidentally seem to prefer darker environments and clothing). But, I couldn't identify with the muscle-bound, self sacrificing heroes of only moderate intelligence who seemed to bring pain and difficulty to their own lives by insisting on only using their powers for "good" (while imposing their own standards of morality on everyone else, despite the fact that they, themselves are vigilantes; apparently the only crime which is tolerated by superheroes).
And to complicate matters further, while I sympathized with these blatantly evil villains in fiction; the most wretched people I knew in real life were always the ones that claimed to be the most good. Of course, I now understand that goodness is often a cover for heartless human scum to hide behind and that truly good people never need to play up their own decency and kindness; but as a kid you can't blame me for being a little turned off by the idea of "good". You can only endure so many dramatic examples of this so called goodness, before you find yourself eyeing recruitment brochures for the Dark Side. And unfortunately for the practitioners of good, evil really isn't that hard of a sell. I decided that if what many claimed was true and that "good people" were being victimized by "evil people", then there was no question as to which side of that scenario I'd rather be on.
It was in later years that I became much more critical of humanity and determined that goodness often served as a socially excusable camouflage for worthlessness (as we've discussed in previous rants). This revelation only strengthened my love of evil.
When discussing evil, one should not overlook cliché aesthetic. Despite many people's claims about the grim and unpleasant reality of true evil, there is some imagery and magnificence often associated with that word in fiction which cannot be ignored. As I've said before, I'm a night person. Although not necessarily evil, lower light levels and dark colors are usually not associated with "good". These days, dressing mostly in black and being a night person is usually more likely to bring on accusations of being weird rather than evil (in many cases calling someone like this "evil" would be too complimentary or impressive and weirdness is still a more degrading social taboo). Still, it certainly doesn't inspire ideas of goodness. It should be noted that anything strange or alien can be put into the "evil" category. As I pointed out in my "Why Villainy" rant, many of my various interests can easily be associated with that of stereotypical evil characters.
My point is that both from an ethical and an aesthetic standpoint my tastes are on par with what would often be considered evil. On top of this, my upbringing inspires no negative interpretation of that word. Political liberals might see me as being somewhat evil because of my capitalist, elitist and social Darwinists views. And conservatives could accuse me of being evil for, well, everything else! In a world which consist of so much mediocrity, saying that you're against it is like declaring war on the majority of humanity (just mentioning that you despise people's values, principles, way of life and very existences, seems to cause them to take it so personally; humans are such very touchy creatures). Only a bad guy, a villain, can hope get away with so openly and unapologetically ripping on the standards and believes of the common man. This is because good and evil are determined by the whims of the common man and standards of morality are always decided democratically. Basically, if you're not already a villain then you can be damn sure they're going to make you out to be one!
Despite what I'm sure many people coming to this site will think, I am not trying to be evil; I don't have to, it comes naturally. In fact, for much of my life I tried to fight it and just "fit in". The word evil, like villain, seems to befit me and that is why I chose it. It has now become a descriptive term which is irreversibly intertwined with my personal sense of self. I see it as a title, a trade, a method and a message. That's what I am, what I'm about and what I do. And no matter what I do in my life I will always bring that sinister sensibility with me. Considering the fact that I'm only capable of feeling very positive feelings towards yours truly, then you can just imagine how I feel about words that I use to describe myself; words like Evil.