Thursday, September 18, 2014

About This Website

Fr. John Romanides wrote that the real beginning of Western Civilization is the American Revolution of 1775-81 which ended with the Civil War in the 1860's, and the French Revolution of 1789. There is much truth to this. One example comes from the 1800 anthology titled Crimes of Love by the Marquis de Sade, who mused on the birth of Gothic literature:

"The genre was the inevitable product of the revolutionary shocks with which the whole of Europe resounded. For those who were acquainted with all the ills that are brought upon men by the wicked, the novel was becoming more difficult to write as it was monotonous to read; there was nobody left who had not experienced more misfortunes in four or five years than could be depicted in a century by literature's most gifted novelist. It was therefore necessary to call on hell for aid in the creation of titles that could arouse interest, and to find in the land of nightmare what was once common knowledge from the mere observation of the history of man in this iron age."

Sade witnessed the "Reign of Terror" firsthand while incarcerated in the Bastille for immorality, where he witnessed numerous beheadings on a daily basis from his prison cell window. Literary offenses pale into insignificance when contrasted with the horrors of his time, yet the horrors of his time birthed a cultural movement and way of thought and life that is still very much alive in our days.

Perhaps the most neglected, difficult and controversial subject for any Orthodox Christian theologian to tackle, primarily because it is so misunderstood and countercultural, even though it is highly influential and always growing in popularity in one form or another, has to do with dark culture and thought, the fantastic and the supernatural. There are many words that describe what I'm talking about, and perhaps you've heard some of them before, such as: the sublime, the macabre, the grotesque, the arabesque, the gothic, the camp, the occult, the magical, the romantic, the decadent, the paranormal, the mystical, the horrific, the strange, the pagan, the new age, the science fictional, or what many within this subculture prefer to call it - sophisticated barbarism. Most Christians find these words intimidating, and in many ways this would serve their purpose. Others may find them fascinating, which also would serve their purpose. What is considered the "safest" among them is perhaps what falls within the genre of science fiction, or the fantastic, and this is usually as far as most would go in exploring this subject, but the reality is that science fiction contains just as much positive and negative as anything else listed above. If you find this shocking, or at least interesting, then this website will be worth your while.

When most Christians tackle these subjects, they do so very vaguely, naively and extremely critically. Though these may contain some gems and have some value, I consider them also to be a "premature burial", so this website aims towards exploring these subjects in greater depth, separating the wheat from the chaff, the honey from the hemlock. It is my opinion that in order to properly understand and tackle these subjects, which are very vast, you have to respect them to some degree and approach them with honesty and sincerity, and to do this it requires deep self-awareness and an openness to explore what most would find dangerous, morbid and even frightening. For someone like me, this is all second nature.

The name of this website is Daimonologia: Hallowed Entries About Dark Culture & Thought, the Fantastic and the Supernatural. This title comes from my long desire to one day write an Orthodox Demonology, which this website will hopefully be a prelude to, and it is also influenced by a book I once read that helped influence this desire, written in 1723 by Jacques de Daillon (1645-1726), elaborately titled Daimonologia, or, A Treatise of Spirits: Wherein Several Places of Scripture are Expounded, Against the Vulgar Errors Concerning Witchcraft, Apparitions, &c. To Which is Added, an Appendix, Containing Some Reflections on Mr. Boulton's Answer to Dr. Hutchinson's Historical Essay; entitled "The Possibility and Reality of Magick, Sorcery and Witchcraft Demonstrated". What I initially found interesting about this book is that the title Daimonologia was written in Greek letters while the rest was in English, as can be seen in the photo below, but it is also an attempt at a demonology for Christians, for which it can be appreciated. I called these "Hallowed Entries" in opposition to, or in sanctification of, a book by one of my favorite 20th century authors and a song by one of my favorite rock bands that relates to one of my favorite movies. Robert Aickman wrote a book of short "strange" stories titled Dark Entries in 1964, and British gothic rock band Bauhaus released the song "Dark Entries" as their second single in 1980, following their first single "Bela Lugosi's Dead" which is widely considered the first ever gothic rock record, and it was featured in the 1983 cult vampire film The Hunger starring David Bowie. So this cross-cultural reference I found to be appropriate to be sanctified with the word "hallowed" which means "to make holy". This does not mean that I am calling what is dark a light, but rather it is about shining a light on these things and exposing what needs to be exposed and illuminating what should be illuminated.

This website is an offering to my readers of some insights about what I've learned and experienced over the many years that I have explored these subjects, and it is about exploring these and other such subjects in greater depth for my own benefit and the benefit of all who are interested.

John Sanidopoulos

September 15, 2014
Feast Day of St. Niketas the Goth