Evil and the Spectrum of Morality

I believe in evil.

It’s easy to assume there isn’t such a thing as we turn our literary attentions towards varying greys, some lighter and some darker. In doing so, I think the eye tires and assumes that the least bright shade of grey must be the pinnacle of bad, and that which is closest to white must be good. And we go about our lives with a pragmatic sense of moral relativity, accepting that circumstances will drive and push us directions we wouldn’t go if a better choice was available.

But true black isn’t a colour. It’s the absence of light.

It envelops entirely. In pitch dark, you cannot see what grey a person is. Whether or not you want to, it cloaks you. It brings you down to its level. It takes away the luxury of choice.

And it defies everything. Humans constantly seek a rational explanation for it, or try to make sense of it in someway between the fact finding of science or faith in a higher power. If you were to crack open and examine the centre of evil, you’d find nothing rational. Nothing logical. It is the total accumulation of all that is irrational. We can’t even stand to look at it for long. For if the mind were a woven tapestry, it tugs at the weakened strings, trying to undermine our mental architecture.

You cannot barter with it. Even if it entertains the thought of trade, it does so with an unequal and changing set of values that shift and twist. You cannot appease it, its hungry nature will never settle for less than everything. At best, you buy yourself time. You can fight it, but its victory isn’t tallied by death or destruction. Rather it hunts the glory of scars unseen upon mind and soul, sowing the seeds of its continued existence. And when you pretend it’s not there, it’s at its strongest.

So when you catalog and compare the traits of your characters and set up their spectrum… remember that you can only view them in the context of light.

And dark is the natural state of the universe.

One response to “Evil and the Spectrum of Morality

  1. “My Gray Mouse, still midway in his allegiance between white magic and black” – Fritz Leiber, Swords And Deviltry.

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