I’m reading the Consolation of Philosophy, by Boethius. Boethius was born in the Western Roman empire, just before the remnant perished when the Germanic king Theodoric invaded and took over. Boethius was first a high ranking government official, but he was accused of treason and so they threw him in jail.
This is when he wrote the Consolation of Philosophy, which became very popular in Medieval Europe. Essentially, to read the book is to be transported to the Medieval European way of thinking. Boethius was a Christian and the book represents a typically Christian way of looking at the world, but it’s not based on Christian theology, rather, it’s based on classical philosophy. Boethius is often thought of as a bridge between classical philosophy and medieval philosophy.
It’s interesting because it addresses some of the most timeless questions. It answers how free will can be compatible with an omniscient God and it addresses the nature of evil. And as Boethius lived during the final death throes of the Western Roman empire, it frequently deals with the tragic reality of being ruled by evil and incompetent people.
If I were a boring ambitious bourgeois liberal I would now have to insert an obligatory joke about Trump to signal my tribal loyalty, but I have the privilege of being able to refrain from such an insult to your intelligence.
There is the general stuff in the book that you would expect from philosophy popular in the medieval era (all earthly pleasures are fleeting, prepare for what comes after death), but the part that interests me is how it deals with the nature of evil. Evil is seen as ultimately being its own punishment, because it represents a choice to cut yourself off from God, who is the source of all that is good, true and beautiful.
Philosophy is personified as a woman in the book, who comes to visit Boethius in jail. Here’s what she has to say to him about the suffering of those in power:
WHEN Philosophy had sung this lay, then she began to discourse again, and spake thus: ‘Dost thou think that companionship of a king and the wealth and power he bestows on his darlings can make a man really wealthy or powerful?’
Then I answered, saying, ‘Why can they not? For what is more pleasant and better in this life than the service and neighbourhood of a king, as well as wealth and power?’
Tell me, then, whether thou hast ever heard of these things abiding with any of our predecessors, or dost thou think any man who has them now will be able to retain them for ever? Thou knowest that all books are full of examples taken from the lives of the men that were before our time, and every man now living is aware that many a king has lost his power and riches and become poor again. Well-a-day! A fine thing forsooth is wealth, that can preserve neither itself nor its lord, nor ensure the latter from needing further help, nor both from despiteful usage! Is not kingly power your very highest form of happiness? And yet, if a king lacks aught that he desires, his power is thereby lessened and his poverty made greater, for your blessings are always lacking in some respect or other. Yea, kings may rule over many peoples, yet they do not rule all those that they would wish to rule, but are miserable in their mind because they cannot come by all they would have; and a king who is greedy has, I know, more poverty than power. It was for this that a king who in old times unjustly seized the kingdom said, ‘Oh, how happy the man over whose head no naked sword hangs by a fine thread, as it has ever been hanging over mine!’ How thinkest thou? How do wealth and power please thee, seeing they never exist without dread and misery and sorrow? Lo, thou knowest that every king would be quit of these and yet hold power if he could, but I know he cannot; so that I marvel why they glory in such power. Does then he seem to thee to have great power and much happiness that is ever desiring what he can never compass? Or again, dost thou think him very happy that ever goes forth with a great bodyguard, or again him that stands in dread alike of those that fear him and those that fear him not? Dost thou think him to have much power, who, as many do, fancies he has none unless he have many to do his bidding? What shall we now say more of kings and of their courtiers save this, that every wise man will perceive they are poor and very weak creatures? How can kings deny or conceal their weakness, when they can accomplish no great deed without the help of their servants? Or what more shall we say regarding kings’ servants, but that it often happens that they are stripped of all their honours, nay, even of life itself, by their false monarch? Do we not know that the wicked king Nero was willing to order his own teacher and foster-father, whose name was Seneca, a philosopher, to be put to death? And when this man found that he must die he offered all his possessions for his life, but the king would none of them, nor grant him his life. Perceiving this he chose to die by being let blood in the arm; and so it was done. Again, we have heard how Papinianus was the best-loved of all the favourites of the Caesar Antonius, and how he had most power of all his people; but the Caesar had him cast in bonds and then put to death. Now all men know that Seneca was held in most honour and most love by Nero, as was Papinianus by Antonius, and they were most powerful both within the court and without; and yet, though void of offence, they were done to death. Both desired their lords to take all they had, and let them live, but could not prevail, for the cruelty of those kings was so harsh that the humility of the men availed them no more than their pride had done before; all was in vain; do what they would, they had to forfeit their lives. For he that doth not take care in time will have no provision when his hour cometh. How do power or wealth please thee now that thou hast heard that no man can possess them and be free from dread, nor give them up if he so desire? What availed the kings’ darlings their multitude of friends, or what avail they any man? For friends come in with riches, and depart again with them, save very few. And the friends that love him for wealth’s sake depart when wealth departs, and then become his enemies, except those few who formerly loved him out of love and loyalty. These would have loved him even if he had been poor; these also abide with him. What is worse plague and greater hurt to any man than to have in his company and neighbourhood a foe in the likeness of a friend?’
But most interestingly, earlier on she explains perhaps the greatest pain endured, which is that the powerful have all their human flaws exposed before the world:
Two things can honour and power do, if they fall into the hands of a fool; they can make him respected and revered by other fools. But as soon as he quits his power, or his power forsakes him, he has no respect nor reverence from them. Has power therefore the faculty of rooting up and plucking out vices from the minds of its possessors, and planting in their stead virtues? I know that earthly power doth never sow virtues, but gathereth and harvesteth vices; and, when it hath gathered them in, it maketh a show of them instead of covering them up, for the vices of the great, who know and associate with many men, are beheld of the multitude. Thus, then, we lament over power when lost, and at the same time despise it, seeing how it cometh to the worst of men, and those we think the most unworthy.
We can see the examples of Bill Gates and Bill Clinton, powerful men who will forever be associated with Jeffrey Epstein. We can of course also see the example of Justin Trudeau, who was exposed before the whole world as a coward, when he fled from the truckers. You might think to yourself that it’s nice to have billions of dollars, but can you be really happy when the wife of your three children has left you, not even because she wanted to go on mandingo safari in Senegal after growing bored of your Microsoft appendage, but because of your own publicly exposed moral failures?
Power and fame are almost always a punishment for those who acquire it in their own lifetime. Consider the example of Bush, whose self-portraits speak for themselves.
George W. Bush is without a doubt a man who has committed great evils. He lied his country into two destructive wars. However, it’s clear that he’s struggling with it, because he does have a conscience. He just happens to have the poor luck of being born into a political dynasty. The truly evil lack the capacity for remorse in this lifetime and their suffering ends up being greater than we can imagine. A certain doctor comes to mind, who sought to cover up the origins of a global pandemic.
Here’s what Boethius has to say on the wicked whose evil goes unpunished:
P. What thinkest thou then? If thou seest a man very unhappy, and yet discernest some good
in him, is he as unhappy as the man who has no whit of good in him?
M. Him I count the happier that has some good.
P. But what thinkest thou concerning him that hath no good, if he has some evil to boot? Why,
thou wilt say he is even more unhappy than the other, by reason of the added evil.
M. Am I not bound to think so?
P. It is well that thou dost; and mark this with thy inmost mind, that the wicked have ever
something good in the midst of their evil. This is their punishment, and this may well be
accounted unto them for good. But they whose wickedness goes all unpunished in this world
are held by sin more grievous and more harmful than any punishment in this world. That their
wickedness goes unpunished in this life is the clearest sign of the greatest sin in this world, and
an earnest of the direst penalty hereafter.
The remorse of Bush is plain to see. But, as with any authentic remorse, it’s not something he flaunts, we know about it because he was hacked. Fauci’s lack of remorse in contrast is evident, despite having killed many more people with his actions than Bush, the man has no shame and happily flaunts it.
It’s interesting how Boethius describes evil. Evil is not a principle of itself, it is the absence of good. Here he is inspired by Augustine, who is well known for this idea. Boethius writes:
Let the wicked do what they may, the crown of good meed shall be held by the good everlastingly. No evil deed of the wicked can rob the good of their goodness and their beauty; but if these had their goodness outside themselves they could be stripped of it either by him who once gave it them or by some other. A good man shall lose his reward when he shall lose his goodness. Understand therefore that to every man good meed is given by his own goodness—the goodness, that is, which is within him. What wise man will say that any good man is deprived of the highest good, because he is ever striving thereafter? But bear thou ever in mind the great and goodly Reward, for it is to be loved beyond all other rewards, and add it to the afore-mentioned kinds of good that I told thee of in the third book. When they are all brought together, then mayest thou conceive that Happiness and the Highest Good are one and the same thing, even God. Then shalt thou also be able to perceive that every good man is blessed, and all blessed men are gods, and have eternal meed of their goodness. ‘For these reasons no man need doubt that the wicked have likewise eternal meed of their wickedness, to wit, everlasting punishment. Though thou mayest think one or other of them happy here as the world goes, yet he hath ever his evil with him, and also the reward of his evil, so long as he takes pleasure therein. There is no wise man but knows that good and evil are ever at strife together, and diverse in purpose, and even as the good man’s goodness is his own good and his own meed, so also is the wicked man’s wickedness his own evil, his own reward, and his own punishment. No man doubts that if he have punishment he has evil. Why do the wicked hope to escape their punishment, being full of every wickedness? Not only are they filled therewith, but well-nigh brought to nothingness. Understand therefore by the case of the good how great the punishment the wicked always suffer, and listen to yet another example, while holding fast to that which I have already told thee. We say that everything that forms a single whole exists so long as it is one, and this united state we call good. For example, a man is a man so long as soul and body hold together; when they are parted he is no longer what he was before. Thou mayest perceive the same thing in the case of the body and its members; if any one of the members be missing, then there is not a perfect man as there was before. Furthermore, if any good man depart from goodness he is no longer quite good if he altogether depart therefrom. Hence it comes to pass that the wicked forsake that which they once did, and yet are not what they were before. But when they forsake what is good and become evil, then they become as nothing and have no likeness to anything. We can see that they once were men, but they have lost the best part of their man’s nature and kept the worst. They part with what is naturally good, to wit, the attributes of man, and yet keep the likeness of men as long as life lasts.
‘But even as men’s goodness exalts them above the nature of men so that they are called gods, so also their wickedness drags them down beneath the nature of man so that they are called evil, and of evil we say that no such thing exists. If, therefore, thou meet a man grown so vile as to have turned from good to evil, thou canst not rightly call him a man, but a beast.
What you tend to find, is that evil people are drawn to vanity. They lack the ability to appreciate beauty. They enjoy frivolities and their art is without meaning. William Blake famously wrote that “the fool does not see the same tree as the wise man sees”. As you approach God, by aiming to live virtuously, you gradually come to find yourself surrounded by beauty.
On the other hand, when you flee away from God towards nothingness, life becomes empty and without meaning. People who are truly evil don’t experience qualia. They are like a reflection cast by an object in a mirror.
It’s similarly a simplification to think of Lucifer as evil. Rather, Lucifer represents choice. Everything beautiful originates from God, but Lucifer gives you the opportunity to see the inversion. And because Lucifer originates from God, who can only create good and is incapable of doing evil, Lucifer ultimately serves good as well. By creating the inversion, Lucifer ultimately serves to draw people back towards God.
Many Christians will look at someone like Marilyn Manson and see him as the epitome of a culture of evil, but I think this is a misunderstanding of what evil really is. Rather, this represents the inversion. You take something good and beautiful and then you distort it in some way. In the process you create noise and entropy, it is inferior to the original, but it contains within itself still most of the beauty of the original work.
Instead, if you wish to see evil, you should look at how our culture is filled with banality, meaningless cruelty, waste and stupidity. That’s what happens when Lucifer is left without anything beautiful to distort, when you reach the point where the original signal is reduced to white noise. Evil is not guided by some bizarre perverted ideology. Rather, it is just a state of complete decay.
If you want to see evil, the better example would probably be Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It’s a show about a morbidly obese woman who sends her daughter to child pageants, until the show is eventually canceled once the mother restarts her relationship with the man who molested her daughter once he’s fresh out of prison.
People may think that I enjoy the aesthetic of evil, but personally, I enjoy the aesthetics of inversion and the difference between the two matters. That’s what witch house is and it’s what occultism is. Ever since I went to high school, the guy who enjoys heavy metal is always a shy ponytailed pale dude who is actually quite contemplative and philosophically grounded with a strong moral compass. True evil doesn’t have an ideology. True evil is just a simple ugly meaningless banality.
This is also the problem with these theories, that suggest that elites are planning to reduce the world’s population to less than 500 million people. This would require elites to have some sort of meaningful plan for the future, to be guided by some sort of ideological morally pure convictions.
Instead, what guides them is just meaningless empty hedonism. They build half a billion dollar yachts for themselves and they party with Jeffrey Epstein. They don’t have lofty ideological notions about anything. A guy who builds a half billion dollar yacht doesn’t truly care about global warming. They have some vague wishful thinking about moving to space and increasing their life expectancy with biotechnology, but there’s no grand overarching scheme here. They don’t even plan for what should happen after their deaths.
It’s the same with the cryptocurrency dudes by the way. I’ve met plenty of these people and what I always notice is that they live in denial of the evil they engage in. It’s evil to waste vast amounts of electricity producing nothing. The punishment they face is that they became banal hollow men. They want nothing other than to dominate, so they are left unable to do anything but dominate. Their wealth produces nothing, it leaves no legacy. The beauty of the Earth that they destroy is lost on them, they don’t have the eyes to see it.
Real happiness is ultimately found through the pursuit of virtue. This is hard for people to believe, but it’s really true. When you grow very attached to physical and material pleasures, then ultimately you still face punishment in this life. Your vitality and physical beauty are lost as you age and then you find yourself encumbered with the growing fear of death.
Similarly, promiscuity is almost always punished as well. It becomes hard to fall in love, you find yourself growing bored of any mate within a few months or years. And as a man, if you gain a real look into a woman’s psyche, then the desire for promiscuity tends to dissipate as snow before the sun. After all, a woman’s promiscuity is almost always a product of some injury inflicted on her psyche. And the irony is that if you think you’re using her, she ends up using you.
It’s important for me to specify what virtue is. It’s not to find some dogmatic religious system and to attempt to autistically follow it to its natural conclusion. When you’re doing that, you’re not genuinely motivated by virtue, but by fear of hell or search of heaven. Rather, true virtue is to be motivated in all your thoughts and actions by love and empathy. When you approach it, you’ll begin to look at the world in the same manner as God looks at it. And then after a while, you’ll find yourself surprised to find that the result is a life that ends up at a familiar place.