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 Pan, and the question of what a human is

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Dinwar
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Posts : 412
Join date : 2009-10-08

PostSubject: Pan, and the question of what a human is   Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:54 pm



This song bothers me.

I've always considered myself civilized. I joke that I'm more Germanic than Roman, but all told I've always considered the idea that there is a beast within each human to be repugnant. I've spent a lot of time trying to remove that part of me--it was dangerous, chaotic, and interfered with my objectives.

Then I got into the SCA. This sounds like a non sequitor, but rattan combat taught me something: sometimes, you need to be a beast. Sometimes, you need to let those violent, destructive urges hold sway. Not too much--and my old helm has a few dents from when I learned that lesson--but there are times when dropping all pretense at civility and courtesy is more than called for.

Until I heard this song, those times were limited to violence. Defending my wife, defending friends, getting someone out of a fire-fight--those were times when you could say that civilization was stripped from me, rather than me dropping pretense at civility. You don't act like a gentleman to someone who's attempting to murder you. But this song presents the opposite side of that coin: one can drop pretense at civilization when in love as well.

The other side of the equation is Conan. No the movie (though now that I know more about it, the movie isn't nearly as horrible as I thought). I mean the books. I recently read "Red Nails", an anthology of several of the Conan stories. One thing that struck a chord with me was the difference between barbarism and civilization. In the Conan stories, neither was necessarily good; however, civilization seems to have a much nastier quality to it. A barbarian will break your skull because he wants your gold; a civilized man will sell you to slavers, then steal you from them and make you work for him--all the while making himself out to be your best friend. There's something to be said for an honest enemy versus a false friend.

Perhaps it's the crap that's been going on in my family recently, but even though I can't agree that what this song represents is good--hedonism is not something I can agree with--I can at least see the appeal of it, and see that it's a necessary part of things. Passion--both the violent passion of the red rage, and the violent passion for one's love--is properly the thing that strips us of the pretenses that we all construct around ourselves. If that's barbarism, well, I guess there properly IS a beast in us all.
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