Autodidact: self-taught


The Great Black Hope: The Satanic N00B

by V. L. Craven

This is, perhaps, my favourite bit from the Church of Satan website:

Let’s look at a typical example. Here’s Joe (it could just as easily be Jane) Schitz, a general loser whose age is between 15 and 29. He’s heard about Satanism from his favorite “let’s freak out the parents” rock star (like Marilyn Manson), and since he’s too lazy to go to the library to do research and too cheap to buy a book, he turns to the Internet. He surfs the web with a search engine of his choice and is confronted by hundreds of sites claiming to be giving valid information about Satanism. Since his image of Satanism includes (like his musical hero’s stage persona) public acclaim, wealth, sex, and notoriety, he is ill-equipped to deal with all this material, lacking any measure to discriminate the valid from the invalid. If he purchased and read The Satanic Bible or carefully read the essays and interviews on the Church of Satan’s official site, he’d begin to see what Satanism is really about. But that would be too much like work. Some of what he sees in this morass—imagery that might prove shocking to others, he likes. He thinks he’s found the passport to a position in the limelight. He compares his own humdrum existence with his perception of Satanism and suddenly wants to be a part of it. So, first off, he changes his name to some less-than-euphonious moniker like, Damien Anton Manson Dragon Azathoth the 23rd.

A brief aside: What is it with these people who feel the need to adopt these “spooky” names? If they really hate the name with which they have been gifted by their parents, why not change it to something more effective as many Hollywood actors and other “showbiz” types have done? Something simple and catchy, easy to remember, but impressive. Names like John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield. Or you might even look to character names from pulp fiction or classic literature to find an appellation more suitable to your personality. However, names that sound like they should be listed on a membership card for a Count Chocula fan club should be avoided like the plague, yet they abound in the ranks of Satanic poseurs. Stop looking through lists of demon names (especially if they are from role-playing or video games). Here’s a challenge: don’t change your name at all. If you’ve looked at history, most of the great names are simply known because the people who had them achieved memorable things. People remember names like Mozart, Einstein, Edison, and Galileo, not because these names had any prior “resonance,” but because of what these individuals created. So, do you have what it takes to stick with your own name and, through your own creativity, make it a name which future generations will use as a synonym with fame or notoriety?

Back to our newbie. He might then start dressing in bizarre outfits, inspired by his favorite musician’s stage show (forgetting the fact that he isn’t a rock star and he isn’t on stage). He might wear black lipstick or nail-polish, or even go so far as to get a piercing or a tattoo (what a rebel!). He’s now received the negative attention of family and friends, but since he wants to be a rebel, he feels this is a good beginning. Now to expand his horizons as there’s a whole world out there, waiting to be annoyed! So, he gets on his parents’ computer and signs up for a free website (an easy process that has predictably lead to the ever-expanding Internet dreck festival). Next, he uses that search engine again to look up Satanism so as to find his own kind, now that he thinks he’s a Satanist. What does he find? A plethora of others like himself! Must mean there’s a “community,” and he’s dying to be a big cheese in it. He’s his own God, isn’t he? He’s just got to show everyone else out there that he’s better than they are. So, he immediately begins to lift graphics from the sites he encounters, as well as any essays he thinks sound scary enough to enhance his reputation—only writings by the most famous names in Satanism will do. The very idea of copyrighted material and creators’ rights never enters his mind, particularly as he feels—by putting these graphics and texts on his site—that he is “helping” to support Satanism. Anybody who’d tell him otherwise must just be an old fuddy-duddy who just wants to rain on his parade—so screw them!

He is now determined to be the “Great Black Hope” of Satanism. He wants to evangelize people concerning his new-found identity (just because he’s unaware of the vast amount of representation that’s been done over the last 35 years by Church of Satan spokespersons must mean it just wasn’t very good—it couldn’t possibly mean he didn’t know how to do research).

Eventually, he runs across the official website of the Church of Satan. He finds it to be a gold mine of material to pilfer (and that he is stealing and thus violating the Satanic concept of “responsibility to the responsible” would never come to focus in what passes for his “thinking”).

Next, he decides that he’ll start a Satanic organization. Since he’s a God, how can he not be a leader? He’d never think of “following” someone with more intelligence and experience. That would make him seem “weak,” to admit that he doesn’t instantly know everything. Naturally he’s got to be the High Priest (move over Anton LaVey). Anyone who emails him and compliments his site becomes a member and if they kiss ass particularly well, they receive an instant Priesthood. After he’s been at this for a few weeks (if he’s patient), he finally decides that he’s going to approach the Church of Satan and propose an alliance, as he thinks he’s really become the leading force for keeping Satanism alive in the world. The poor old Church of Satan just better recognize this, lest it be left in his dust. So he sends an email, full of bluster and bravado, claiming he’s got a huge international organization (of which we’ve never heard, naturally), and a website (Satan save us!). He signs this portentous missive with his grand new name, appended to which are numerous titles such as “High Priest of the Universal Elite Legions.” One of our representatives reads this (and a dozen like it which came in that week) and then dutifully checks out the site, discovering (once its interminable download is over, as it is chock-full of crappy animations and soundfiles), that it is also full of stolen Church of Satan material (both copyrighted texts and graphics). Our representative then sends a formal email pointing out these blatant copyright violations and asks “High Priest Azathoth” to remove them, or else we’ll have to approach his service provider. This naturally enrages “HPA,” (How dare the Church of Satan stop him from becoming the world’s greatest Satanic leader?!). So he writes back, his response full of profanity and indignation—after all, his “Satanic Genius” has not been recognized. Our Church of Satan representative must then go through the tedious task of contacting HPA’s Internet service provider, quoting the guidelines for service of which HPA is in violation, and then monitoring the situation until that page has either removed all copyrighted materials, or is simply cancelled by the provider (the usual outcome).

Now, disgruntled Damien, thwarted in his bid to rule the world of Satanism, must start a campaign to re-assert himself in the “Satanic Community,” with the Church of Satan as his target (How dare they protect their material when I know how to use it better?!). He’ll email his cronies and they will try to invade chat rooms frequented by real Satanists, doing their best to prevent pleasurable discussions from taking place. That the “Ops” for these chat rooms kick and ban them only serves as a stimulant. They could make their own chat room in which they would be free to gather and discuss how rotten the Church of Satan is, but that never suffices. They desperately want recognition by real Satanists, and they’ll get it by being annoying, rather than trying to earn respect for any tangible achievements or simply engaging in intelligent discussion.

Of course, our would-be High Priest may eventually find something else to hold his interest. He might actually go out on a date, or find that he does have some kind of skill which he needs to practice (aside from being a royal asshole—the one skill which he’s perfected by now). But he may prolong his tenure in the “Satanic Community” if he stumbles into another kind of online group—a collection of like-small-minded losers, who have washed up on the shoals of the Internet, after their website-vessels have been sunk by the torpedoes of the mean old Church of Satan. Here is the haven wherein he’ll find fellow self-proclaimed “High Priests.” They are usually collected under the direction of a new “Magus” (even more pretentious and pompous then they are, hence he’s top of the shit heap). Here they will huddle together, fueled by their hatred for the fact that they couldn’t conquer the Satanic Universe as embodied in the Church of Satan and united in their envy of those who have earned positions therein. Now they have a peanut gallery to cheer them on, as they spew their illiterate vitriol (of particularly dilute vintage) against the real Satanists whom they might encounter. They will clutter Usenet as well as chat rooms with their pointless, moronic postings. Of course, when the time comes to sort out the pecking order amongst these “High Priests,” then the fur will fly and schisms will abound as they scratch out each other’s eyes fighting over ever-sillier titles. Eventually they will just leave Satanism behind altogether (if only this would happen with greater speed).

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