Monday, January 19, 2009
Blind Idiot God
One of HP Lovecraft's most unique and terrifying concepts was the 'Blind Idiot God'. The phrase itself is terrifying in its juxtaposition of concepts. Lovecraft wrote of beings who had nearly limitless power, but no intelligence and no perception of reality that matched that of normal humans. They followed their private, unknowable whims, with zero understanding of how their actions affected other people. They cannot be stopped or reasoned with. When one finds oneself in a world with one or more Blind Idiot Gods, there is nothing one can do except hope that they do not notice you or do anything too close to you.
A related concept in horror literature is the portrayal of little children with psychic powers, for example in the story and Twilight Zone episode 'It's a Good Life'. The kid who terrorizes the town is essentially a Blind Idiot God. He destroys things at people at random with his powers, and the adults are reduced to helpless, mind-bending servitude. They cannot argue with him, for he does not possess the intellect to see how his actions are ruining the world.
Kafka dealt with similar concepts. The protagonists on his stories were plagued by random events that do not seem to have any purpose. Sometimes these things are supernatural, but usually they are the result of a massive, powerful organization or bureaucracy. The effects on the people in the story are, as in the horror stories, despair and a sense of hopelessness. The unknowable bureaucracy is the Blind Idiot God.
In the Lovecraft stories, there are people who worship the Blind Idiot Gods. In the horror story, the adults try desperately to please the child. In Kafka stories, there are people who defend and justify the arbitrary actions of the bureaucracy. Often, these people believe that the power they worship will allow them to gain what they desire, or at least leave them in peace. But they are wrong. The Blind Idiot God, in whatever form it takes, cares nothing for its followers. It only uses them to further its private goals. The followers are reduced to something inhuman as they abandon all will, initiative, creativity, or independent thought.
But the truly frightening thing in these kinds of stories is that people who oppose the Blind Idiot Gods usually suffer a fate that is worse than the followers. They die horribly, or are driven insane. In a world with a Blind Idiot God, there is no good option. One either follows it, and loses all initiative and humanity, or opposes it to die a lonely death. That is the true horror of these kinds of stories. There can be no escape.
Any organization or bureaucracy, if it gets large and powerful enough, can become blind and foolish, disconnected from people and with a will of its own. The opinions of individuals become irrelevant. Those at the bottom are not allowed to think; they must simply follow orders and procedures. Those at the top are unable to do anything directly; all of their decisions get twisted and mutated by the bureaucratic process. They cannot do things by themselves, and they do not interact directly with reality, so that they do not know the consequences of their decisions.
If the bureaucracy is a part of the government, it gains all of the power of entire nation, which, from the point of view of an individual, is almost godlike. The transformation into Blind Idiot God is complete. A monster is born. Its motives are inscrutable. Its power is limitless. It does not know how it is altering the world. It has devastating effects on anyone or anything that gets in its way.
An individual cannot reason with it. An individual cannot oppose it. The only hope is to pacify it by following the arcane rituals that it invents. The best course of action is to try and stay away from it. But you cannot hide forever. The power of the Blind Idiot God is always growing. It seeks to dominate the entire world.
There are those who worship the Blind Idiot God of government. They flirt with its power, thinking that they can use the beast to give them what they want. But they never win. Politicians come and go, causes come and go, popular opinion moves from one cause to the next, but the bureaucracy always grows. It eats their offerings, promises the world, and delivers nothing.
Do not be one of these people. Do not feed the Blind Idiot God.