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Offbeat 13 March 2015

Someone with whom I am very distantly acquainted, and by distantly acquainted I mean he allows me to press like on his Facebook page, has made it to the real big time. Simon Kurt Unsworth has had his first novel published by one of the big four publishing houses. It’s called ‘The Devil’s Detective’, and it is about exactly that, a detective investigating a crime in Hell.

I wonder if you will see it in the shelves here? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m only a few pages in on the Kindle edition, so I can’t give you any spoilers. I can tell you that you may have read one or two of his stories if you read the Mammoth Books of Best New Horror. He is that illustrious.
The pages I have read paint a picture of Hell reconfigured as a modern industrial city. People lead unhappy lives, trying to work in order to eat and survive. Some even hope to rise. In the story, angels are visiting, to remove a couple of the most worthy damned souls to heaven. I suppose that’s a bit like hoping to win the lottery in the real world. In the first chapter, he describes a predatory beast lurking on the periphery of a dangerous road. That sounds a bit like my neighbourhood after dark, indeed most neighbourhoods. I am looking forward to going deeper into the chapters. I want to know what the differences are between Simon Kurt Unsworth’s conception of Hell, and most of modern reality.
I haven’t yet gotten to the torment, be I suspect it will be inability to find hope, and complete powerlessness. That’s the reality of a large part of the world. According to the blurbs, ‘The Devil’s Detective is metaphysical, so I am sure I will find an idea to play with, and figure something out.
Of course none of this is real. It’s just dark fantasy. In the real world, there are real demons. According to pop preacher Pat Robertson, responding a slack-jawed and drooling question, demons may even infest second hand clothes bought at thrift stores. Maybe Pat Robertson owns his own clothing line though, and doesn’t like his flock buying on the cheap. I can’t be bothered to Google it, but friend Marcus chipped in that second hand stores routinely employ exorcists to make sure their merchandise is in good spiritual shape. I can go with that.
What is relevant here is the sort of snake oil and carnival barkers that people allow into their consciousness. In an age of reason, which in my books does not preclude faith, people are still willing to blame external, supernatural forces.
Honestly folks, if you get vengeful thoughts because your neighbour parties late at night, that is not something that you should blame on a demon. It’s your fault. Demons have much more important things to do, like, maybe, giving Pat Robertson ideas for the sort of Christian spam that makes half of everybody feel worthless and the other half feel smug.
I’m going to be a bit judgmental  myself, and pass comment on these preachers. The idea that evil is an external force, attributable to demons, revolts me, makes me angry, either way you look at it.
Either way? The first way is to believe that there is an actual demon infesting whatever bit of you is available to be infested. If that is you, then get thee hence and read a bit about the venality of avarice. Actually it is your internal motivation, and no amount of exorcism will solve the problem. Rather just put it aside, and wait for it to subside.
The second way is to view the demon as a personal metaphor. This is marginally better than the first way, but it still verges on the borders of abdication of personal responsibility and, particularly, personal control. It’s just one short step away from beginning to believe that it can be blamed on an apparently real, though somehow supernatural, demon.
As I said, demons probably have much more effective ways to ruin things, than trying to lead one soul astray. I don’t have much more to say about it, other than leave me out of it. I’m busy working on self control and don’t have much time for wandering proselytizers from Hell.

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