21st Century God Complex

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June 24, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

My favorite thing about being drunk is the potential for completely misplaced, but brutally honest introspective conversations.  Drunken conversations provide for some of the most revelatory tidbits of information about ourselves and the world at large.  What they sometimes lack in content, they more than make up for in intent.  Never are we more sincere at one specific moment in time than whenever we are engaged in a mutually blacked out dialogue.  Even if whatever we’re saying isn’t what we objectively believe to be true, we usually mean whatever it is we say at that moment with every fiber of our being.

One of the best drunk conversations I’ve ever been a part of was based around a simple, but existentially massive hypothetical question: “If you were a god, what kind of god would you be?”.  The response I was given closely paralleled my own in that it did two things: 1) it inherently adhered to the notion that absolute power would absolutely corrupt us, and 2) we would be corrupted in a way that would accentuate the most extreme version of one of our own flaws.  My friend, to whom the question was posed, said that she would be a most passive-aggressive god, essentially an impotent deity.  My response, because of course I have to answer my own question, wasn’t too far off from her answer.  I declared that I would be a very bipolar god; being incapable of remaining moderate, I would counter and attempt to balance one extreme with an equally extreme opposite, but I would fail.  If my friend would be too much of a hands off kind of god, I would go mad with power and micro manage the life of every creation that I mustered.  I am power hungry.

I am incredibly fallible, susceptive to seduction, and therefore entirely corruptible just as is everyone else on this planet.  The nature of corruption is a study that’s innately intriguing because of the universal understanding of corruption.  To be corrupted means that you had to have been a certain way before the fall, and then had a stark change because of the fall.  Most people believe “corruption” to be a noun, but in reality it’s actually an adjective.[1]  It’s a describing word to illustrate the state of a person after they have fallen into temptation.  The temptation that power brings with it is in abuse that power and control by overexerting its usage.

When it comes to being seduced and corrupted by power, there’s a specific tipping point that serves as the fall- the point in which someone has become warped by their sense of power.  There’s a moment wherein you can point to and say that it was at that moment where someone went from being virtuous to corrupt.  For Voldemort, that came with the creation of his first horcrux, for Isildur, it came when he refused to destroy the ring of power in Mt. Doom, and for Kurt Cobain it came on January 11, 1992 when Nevermind first went to #1 on the charts.  Before these defining moments, all three figures had not yet been corrupted, they were seduced yes, but it was not until these defining moments that they became fully corrupted individuals, corrupted by their own power.

For Voldemort, his corrupted state manifested itself as ignorance.  Not having known any sort of love during his life as Tom Riddle, or even at the time of his conception, Voldemort’s ignorance of love is what allowed him to be defeated by a baby not yet toilet trained.  It was also his ignorance of the true power of the Elder Wand that led to his demise at the hands of Harry Potter, arguably the most inept protagonist in English literature.  In his mad quest for power, Voldemort blinded himself and made himself ignorant to everything else.  He ignored most of the prophecy, explicitly defining the terms and conditions of his rivalry with some punk kid, and most importantly he deluded himself into think he was invulnerable, the surest sign of corruption.

Isildur’s corrupted state was based entirely on pride as he felt that he had deserved the ring after defeating Sauron.  He felt as if he should be rewarded for saving Middle Earth, and that his prize should be absolute power.  Instead of wielding the ring of power, he wore it around his neck as a trophy for all to witness what he had accomplished.  Chronologically, he was also the first bearer to refer to the ring as being “precious”.  In his vanity, Isildur allowed evil to flourish because he believed that he deserved its power.  Indeed, Isildur did wield absolute power, and indeed it corrupted him absolutely.

Cobain is the interesting case because he actually suffered from bipolar disorder.  For him, his corruption took the form of depression.  Just about the only thing that Dave Grohl and the other guy from Nirvana that no one cares about, and Courtney Love can agree on is that Cobain once said that he wanted “Nirvana to be the biggest fucking band in the world” once they signed with Geffen.  This was the seduction, the corruption came once Nevermind went to #1 as that was the realization of the seduction.  It was at this point that Cobain himself knew that he not only wasn’t the same person he was when Nirvana wasn’t important, but that he could never go back to being that person.  Cobain, in seeking power via fame and fortune, had it thrust upon him overnight and couldn’t deal with the suddenness of it all.  In Utero is a blatant attempt by Cobain to go back to that pre-corrupted state that he never knew he wanted, by making a shitty album that everyone would hate.  But, to his dismay and disdain, everyone loved the album, causing his depression to take full control.[2]  This is the abstract explanation of why he put a shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger before he was 30.

If I am ever to be corrupted, I wonder what form the seduction will take.  What will it be that will make me an objectively corrupt person?  Because to be corrupt you have to abuse your power.  For Voldemort, abusing his power took the form of splitting his soul and trying to commit infanticide, for Isildur, he abused his power by refusing to destroy absolute evil, and for Cobain, his abuse of power took the form of trying to be cooler than Guns N’ Roses.  If I wielded the absolute power of a god, much like my friend and Isildur, and I suppose the entirety of humanity, that corruption would be the result of the internal flaws.  For me specifically, I would all too easily allow my emotions to dictate my actions; for someone with the omnipotence and omniscience of God, that is quite literally the worst possible way to run the show.  In my joy and benevolence I would cure any ailment and bring good fortune to everything I sired, but in my rage and fury, I don’t fear, I know that I would gladly and vindictively watch the world burn.  In my good moods I would want to improve the lives of everyone and everything, but if something pissed me off, I would want to be destructive and lash out with all my might.  With absolute power, nothing would stop me from doing such.  There would be nothing, save for the faint hope that rationality would prevail, to stop me from acting based entirely on emotion.  I would be too hands on and too emotionally invested in the world, if it were one of my design and divining.

What does this say about me?  That I want the world to feel how I’m feeling at any given moment?  Or could it be that I believe that control comes from mitigation and restraint?  Or maybe even that emotions have the power to destroy?  What I do know for certain is that I should never become a god.  Thank God that I never will.

 

[1] Grammatically it’s a noun, but in application it works more like an adjective.  Kinda like how “Y” is a vowel and a consonance.

[2] Every agrees that In Utero is a pretty shitty album, but at the time, to prove that they sincerely liked Nirvana not just because they were cool, people convinced themselves that In Utero was a masterpiece in order to justify themselves as not being poseurs.

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