By:Sir Teymur Roshdi
Copyright@2010-Sir Teymur Roshdi
In this article,first I will try to treat the 'beliefs' and their 'power' from a
secular point of view by remaining in the frame of 'Cartesian rationality'
and then I will conclude it with a scientific standpoint. For this I would
review the films 'The Exorcist' and the 'Omen' trilogy.
To understand father Merrin on the archelogical site in Iraq and the
finding of the statuette 'resembling a grimacing bestial creature' he
took for the 'devil' icon, I should take into consideration the christian
referencial basis of beliefs which includes the concepts such as god
versus satan or devil, christ versus antichrist, angels versus demons,
light versus darkness and so on.
Why father Merrin has been so impressed by that statuette? He
entered it into his cultural background and estimated it through his
beliefs and gave to it an extraordinary dimension with an extraordinary
power. While this same statuette for all the people living and working
there was just an insignificant piece of stone or maybe for some just
a representation of an ugly 'djinn' and nothing more.
This piece of stone which had not any inherent meaning in itself,
'destabilized' father Merrin's peace of mind and he began to interpret
any human face or shape or any event as a warning or an alarm of
the threatening presence of the 'devil'. Then when he went to a spot
where a 'strange' statue which had almost the same head than the
statuette was standing , he stood face-to-face with that icon to measure
his own strength with it. Father Merrin because of his archeological
knowledge, knew that the icon was 'Pazuzu' or the king of 'demons' in
the old beliefs of ancient babylonians, and he felt his own 'weakness' or
'failure' in front of that stone, not because he was old or because he had
heart disease but because of his 'beliefs'. By the same 'beliefs', he
condemned himself to death , just because he overestimated that stone
Why do some insignificant objects carry such a meaning, power or a
threatening message? Do they really have such a power or this is just
our interpretation which attribute to them an extreme dimension ? Why
do some shapes, some faces, some colours, some animals or anything
around us become suddenly so 'charged' of meaning or power ? Why do
superstitions in all cultures and all societies are so strong and so extended
that they mostly take control of people's mind and life ? Do objects have
a 'spirit' ? Are we able to see or to feel the 'spirit' of objects, shapes, faces,
animals or colours ?
Isn't the root of all of the superstitions quite simply a 'fear' located in the
depths of our mind and related to our survival instincts ? What is our major
terror ? The fear of death isn't our main weaknes and our principal
concern? Aren't we easily affraid of anything which could put in danger
our life and our possessions and the life of our beloved ones ?
How can we escape something which is inevitable? Why should we fear
something which is a principal piece of the order of the Universe ?
Isn't it better to extract once forever the poison from the scorpion in order
to remain invulnerable and safe of its bite and 'living' our life in peace ?
Why not being accustomed and familiarized with all the shapes 'death'
could take to bring us ? One of the benefits of all the horror movies
produced ever since is to picturing all sort of imaginable ways the
living creatures could die, perish or disappear . Instead of fearing
thousands millions kind of 'horrible' deaths which are awaiting for us
at each 'dreadful' moment or at each corner we might face, isn't it better
to embrace peacefully just one which is an inevitable part of our human
Father Merrin 'feared' that 'devilish' statue and letted it to prevail on
him and his life and to take control over his mind. But despite of his
poor health and old ages , nothing 'bad' happened to him in Iraq , but
his concern about his imminent death allowed to the statue to transmit
a 'message' to him :"see you later in Georgetown!".
Why did father Merrin letted this to happen in Regan's room in
Georgetown? Could it be avoided? Weren't his own beliefs and the
stressed they produced in that ritual of exorcism in Regan's room the
main cause of his heart attack and not necessarily his old ages and
his poor health ?
On the other hand we have people who take easy everything in this
world. Life and death are just indifferent to them. They see things in a
very simple way , a wall is just a wall, a cat just a pet and a crow a bird,
black or white has no particular meaning to them. They perform the
tasks or the duties of their daily life very easily in an absolute simplicity,
they eat, marry, procreate and die in a total peace of mind.
This poem of Stephen Crane is an example of an absolute resignation
to embrace death in this way or in any other way it could happen :
A youth in apparel that glitterred
Went to walk in a grim forest
There he met an assassin
Attired all in garb of old days;
He, scowling through the thickets,
And dagger poised quivering,
Rushed upon the youth.
"Sir", said the latter,
"I am enchanted, believe me,
To die, thus,
In this mediaeval fashion,
According to the best legends;
Ah, what joy!"
Then took he the wound, smiling,
And died, content.
Based on all my personal experiences in life, what I have seen, read
or heard, I can tell that we have two categories of people or living
creatures : the lucky and the unlucky ones. The lucky category spends
the whole temporal life without the least trouble, accident or misfortune
in the opposite of the misfortunate ones.
Chris MacNeil, Regan, father Karras and his mother in 'The Exorcist'
film were among the unlucky people as well as Robert and Richard
Thorn in the 'Omen' trilogy.
Chris MacNeil was a famous and wealthy actress living with her
daughter Regan in Georgetown. Who could imagine or predict that
such a woman would get through of such an horrible experience? Was
she a bad person , guilty of something or a criminal for having deserved
such a 'fate'? Why she and her daughter who had absolutely nothing to
do with anything in the archeological site in Iraq , have been 'chosen' for
such a cruel trial ? They even hadn't some religious beliefs, angels and
demons, devil and god were too far from their daily life and didn't have
a place in their cultural background.
Robert Thorn and his wife Kathy were good,loyal,honest and rational
people as well as Richard Thorn and his wife. Nothing could predict
that such a 'curse' or 'malediction' would exhaust them in a way that
they would become suddenly 'crazy' or 'criminal'.
Why do some superstitions and rumors are so powerful that they can
eradicate a whole family and all its members ? If for the Thorn dynasty
political issues and interests made them the target of all sort of disasters,
what about Chris MacNeil and her daughter Regan? What about father
Karras and his mother ? Many women in the world are divorced and
many children are raised by a single parent, but not all become
depressed or mentally ill . Many people around the world , religious or
not are descended from immigrant parents , but not all are as sensitive
and vulnerable as father Karras was.
The irony of the circumstances is that father Karras as a priest had
a rational way of thinking in the opposite of the men and women of
science in the psychiatry hospital who suggested to Chris to try the
'exorcism' , while father Karras proposed six months of care and
observation for Regan in the best hospital Chris could find.
Chris MacNeil in her desperation was ready to hang on to any
strange, disused and magic method to save Regan. Anyway the bad
luck gathered the misfortunate people in the household of Chris and
in the room of Regan. Father Merrin anticipating his imminent death
because of 'the prevalence of Pazuzu', father Karras because his guilt
feelings and depressive state of mind caused by the death of his
mother and Regan because of her mental illness common among
most teen-agers. Then happened what happened : father Merrin in his
struggle to free Regan from 'Pazuzu', perished, father Karras, already
'suicidal', sacrificed himself by chalanging the 'demon' to enter into
his body, hurled himself through the window and Regan was apparently
restored to health.
Damien Thorn was just a nice and healthy baby boy adopted by the
ambassador. Since the moment a child is born, he or she would be
under the observation of the surrounding world.The parents, the family
members, the friends, the neighbours and sometimes a vast region or
a country, depending of the social and economical statut of the parents.
Some wicked people could spread rumors out of jealousy, some others
would find something abnormal in the look, the body shape or the
behaviour of the child, and some superstitious ones would put the label
of 'cursed' or 'blessed' on the child. Other crazy people by believing
the superstitions would be able to commit any sort of crime.
We are raised under the look of the others and we learn since the
childhood to look at ourselves as someone the others considered or
expected and this becomes our second nature. The power of
autosuggestion is potentially both destructive and constructive. If we
spread the rumor that a person is 'cursed', 'spellbinder', 'demonic', the
'devil', or the 'son of devil', he or she would progressively believe that
and would behave according to what has been 'expected'. Damien was
simply a nice little boy the entourage took him for the 'beast' or 'the son
of devil' because of the superstitions and mostly because of political
interests. The number 666 is just a number or a shape , it could be 999
or 111. Many people around the world have some skin stains which
could be interpreted as a number or as a shape which have no meaning
in themselves or in their essence. Damien just played the role the
others expected from him and it was a deadly game for this poor child.
Something is sure that we humans we all have in our subconscious
the potential for goodness and badness depending on which one has
been stressed or raised by the parents, the family and the entourage,
we espouse one to the detriment of the other. This is what happened to
Damien, he has been so involved in this kind of beliefs or superstitions
that he never found the opportunity to think independantly for himself and
about himself in all 'lucidity. Maybe we all have a sort of duality or
the syndrome of 'dr.jekyll and mr.hyde' struggling within us. The aware
and lucid people try to face and to control this duality . As Plato suggested,
we human beings are the rider of a chariot run by two different sort of
horses, one, wild and rebel and the other obedient and peaceful, the
skill and the competence of the rider would determine how to establish the equilibrium between these two kind of horses.
To conclude this article I have to mention that if we limit our thoughts
and understanding to the 'Cartesian rationality' , we would consequently
neglect and ignore the scientific basis of the phenomena. From the
physics and chemistry standpoint, all elements, all molecules, all atoms
in the universe are in permanent interactions and emit energy. If we take
into consideration the amont of energy released at each 'second' in the
whole universe , maybe we would find an explanation for the 'paranormal'
phenomenum and events in happening in this or that 'place'. At each
moment we are exposed to multiple electromagnetic fields emitted by
various sources. The positive and negative fields of energy affect all
of us at each moment and maybe we would be able to replace the
superstitions by some scientific explanation of everything. The quantum
physics is the most promising to give logical arguments to explain
phenomena and maybe they would help us to avoid having this or
that 'extreme' reaction, path or way of behaviour and maybe we would
succeed to manage our 'spiritual struggles'.