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See Evil: Origins of a Story

Behind Walktall Part 2 - The Thymos Must See Evil

How often do you look evil in the face? How often do you sit with the pain of the moment and not above it as a dispassionate observer? I know that I do this entirely too often. In some ways, ignoring and not naming evil is an easy thing to do. A step further, creating moral equivalents is not only easy but the action of a coward.

I’ll admit, it was strange to look at my media calendar and see this as the post for the week. Queer timing and strangely connected content to the current times. As I type, stories of beheaded babies, brutalized children, raped women, and murdered families flood the channels of the world. As I type, people more sophisticated than I am are unable to form the word evil, instead creating moral equivalents and ending their academically polished arguments with, “Well, it’s difficult, you see.”

Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t.

What isn’t difficult is naming evil for what it is.

When I wrote Walktall that was the very thing I had in mind. To show evil for what it is. Too often, modern media pushes art in all shades of grey (which can be fine at times), turning villains into heroes, and heroes into villains. Spinning what’s good and doing it so thoroughly that the consumer ends up in a moral knot. I have long noticed this trend and I am certain it is poisoning the minds of our young people; sickening them to the point where most can’t look at the events of our modern day and say that is evil. Art is crucial to civilization. Specifically, the stories we tell do more than a little to create the moral fiber of people. That is why fairy tales hold centuries of wisdom. That is partly why the stories of the bible retain their spot atop all others. That is why the stories of old cared so heavily about chivalry, virtue, and good deeds. Art informs a culture. Culture has a strong hand in shaping people.

Stories can inform the virtue of our people

So what does morally grey art create?

In moderate doses, a complex and intelligent variety of viewpoints. That is healthy.

In large doses (as I believe it is today), nihilism and cowardice—the latter born from a dreadful amount of navel-gazing. In this, I believe that popular Western culture has lost its fortitude. Thymos (th-oo-mo-s) is classically considered the spirit beneath fortitude.

A carving of a lion
The Thymos, pictured classically as the lion

It is that part which lies between the unfettered appetites and the governance of reason. In terms of virtue, we would say it lies between temperance and justice. It is that part that knows wrong from right at an instinctual level. It is the part that sends someone to the defense of another. It is the spirited part of us taking action in the world. Yes, it requires a quelling of emotional appetites and is balanced by wisdom, which is easier to write about than do, but if we don’t put effort into forming it, then it’s far too easy to become cowardly accomplices to evil. It is my belief, that when a culture deprives its people of seeing evil, then the easier it becomes to rationalize it.

My coming novella, Walktall, in the context of its parent story, Ascendant: Saga of Valor, follows a child entering a re-education camp. Why? It’s complex you see. In this story, long ago, one people enslaved and oppressed another. So much so that when the bad guy rose up and took power, he not only did the same but also oppressed everyone in the pursuit of utopia. A golden future that when acquired would rid all wrongdoing in the means to reach the end. Yes, what he did is evil. Oppressing people is evil. Putting children in re-education camps is evil. But when utopia is finally achieved then all the good from that should erase those claims of evil, thus making it. . . Complex, you see.

I think not. The actions taken in evil might be complex but evil itself is not.

Walktall is so many things but most surely it’s meant as a personal encounter with evil. An experience with darker things, so that when the time comes, it might help someone know evil for what it is.

To finish up this little piece I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes (loosely paraphrased) from a Vietnam veteran I heard on Jocko Wilinks Podcast.

"They [the American people] hated us and spat on us for going to war. But it never got me down, though it was hard at times, because I would remember them mowing down innocent people, killing women and babies. I went over there to stop evil and they didn't." That's it for blog #2 in this 3 Part Series of Walktall Origins. Have questions or want to chat? You can reach out to me at Live long, and May the Force be with you! Izaic Y P.S. That saying is purposefully wrong ;) WALKTALL NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER


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