hunt the devil

Hunt the Devil on Holiday 2015

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Fireworks in New York, 2002. (Credit: Jon Sullivan / PDPhoto.org)

Hunt the Devil will take a brief break for the holiday season. We will return on January 5, 2016.

Oscar and I are grateful for our readers.   We wish you a happy holiday.

Over the last twenty-two months, we have written nearly 180 posts based on our book, Hunt the Devil (published in 2015 by the University of Alabama Press) and building toward a sequel to Hunt the Devil, the working title of which is After Empire.

So far, three articles for academic journals on the After-Empire project have emerged from the blog. Two already are in print: (more…)

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A Deal with the Devil

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Credit:  President of the Russian Federation / www.kremlin.ru)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Credit: President of the Russian Federation / http://www.kremlin.ru)

Brian Amsden, who teaches at Clayton State University, produces podcasts about once a month answering—one story at a time—the question of how we humans come to believe the impossible things we believe. His show is called Rhetorical Questions.

The most recent episode, Episode 7, is Brian interviewing me about Hunt the Devil: A Demonology of US War Culture. Brian asks great questions and makes excellent observations throughout the interview. (more…)

Order Hunt the Devil Now and Receive a 30 Percent Discount!

Jkt_Ivie_mktgHunt the Devil:  A Demonology of US War Culture is now available for purchase, and our publisher — University of Alabama Press — has provided us the opportunity to offer our book to our readers at a 30% discount through October 31, 2015!

Simply order the Hunt the Devil:  A Demonology of US War Culture directly from University of Alabama Press using a special discount code, and you can get this “timely and illuminating exploration of demonic imagery in US war culture” for just $35.00 USD.

Here’s how:

(more…)

Trickster at Work

"Witch Hill" or "The Salem Martyr" (1869) by Thomas Slatterwhite Noble.  (Source:  Collection of the New York Historical Society.)

“Witch Hill” or “The Salem Martyr” (1869) by Thomas Slatterwhite Noble. (Source: Collection of the New York Historical Society.)

In Salem in 1692, the Kingdom of Satan had descended in great wrath.  Legions of the devil’s servants were torturing the minds and bodies of the faithful, a score of condemned persons had been executed on Gallows Hill, and the jails were filled with confessed witches and wizards.

Marie Louis Von Franz observes:

“There is such a passionate drive within the shadowy part of oneself that reason may not prevail against it.  A bitter experience coming from the outside may occasionally help; a brick, so to speak, has to drop on one’s head to put a stop to shadow drives and impulses.”

 (Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols, 1968)

Such a “brick,” such an irreconcilable chasm between delusion and reality, such a personal calling to account for the consequences of unexamined projections of evil, was to fall squarely on the head of the Reverend John Hale.  (more…)

Coyote at the River

“… you know, Coyote

is in the origin and all the way

through … he’s the cause

of the trouble, the hard times

that things have…”

“Yet, he came so close

to having it easy.

But he said,

“Things are just too easy…”

Simon Ortiz, “Telling About Coyote”

This fragment of an Acoma tale by the great Native American poet Simon Ortiz (in Shaking the Pumpkin, ed. Jerome Rothenberg, 1991) reminds us that Coyote—like the Holy Spirit—is a divine force and was there at the beginning of creation (of the universe or of a nation).  At the risk of danger and at great cost, Trickster heroically opposes “easy” petrification, and even perilous and violent orthodoxy.

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“Coyote at the River,” original art by Jeff Thomson.

“Coyote at the River,” original art by Jeff Thomson.

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Tricksters and Archetypes in War Culture

Anthropomorphic Coyote trickster, from North American Indigenous mythology, canoeing up the river.  Curtis, Edward S. Indian Days of the Long Ago. Yonkers-on-Hudson: World Book Company, 1915. Page 84.

Anthropomorphic Coyote trickster, from North American Indigenous mythology, canoeing up the river. Curtis, Edward S. Indian Days of the Long Ago. Yonkers-on-Hudson: World Book Company, 1915. Page 84.

Archetypes are powerful and recurring symbols or images that convey models of behavior and bestow fundamental forms of thought and feeling.   Deeply embedded in culture, they typically operate on a people subconsciously, below the level of critical reflection.  They carry mythic force made manifest in metaphors, which function as myths in miniature.  “Archetypal metaphors in rhetoric,” in Michael Osborn’s terms (Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1967), infuse popular language with a stable architecture of preference.  God is conceived as a blindingly bright light and the devil as ominously dark.  Archetypes link experiences to motives with cultural authority.

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Trauma, Devil Myth, and U.S. War Culture

An M-198 155mm Howitzer of the US Marines firing at Fallujah, Iraq, during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Photo by Lance Corporal Samantha L. Jones, USMC.

An M-198 155mm Howitzer of the US Marines firing at Fallujah, Iraq, during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Photo by Lance Corporal Samantha L. Jones, USMC.

Trauma, in U.S. war culture, is the emotional shock of the violence of war, which perpetuates terror and hatred of outsiders.  To perceive itself as victim rather than perpetrator of war, the imperial nation stifles its collective shadow and projects it onto chosen enemies.  This recurring dynamic engages the devil myth of American exceptionalism.

The causes and consequences of war trauma are intertwined:  the destruction of war traumatizes and the trauma of repression prompts the violence of war.  Democracy itself is held hostage in this anxious cultural paradigm because of its perceived vulnerability to evildoers.  The boundary between good and evil is sharply drawn so as to proscribe democratic deliberation of alien points of view and to render dissent unpatriotic.

(more…)