There is a growing obsession with death in what passes today for our culture. This would not be a disturbing trend were it simply a fringe phenomenon. But it is ubiquitous throughout the culture.
The first series I discuss here is “Dexter.” I have watched the whole series (seven seasons, from 2006 to 2013), but it was brought to my attention by Stephen Coughlin in his “Strategic Overview: Understanding the Threat & Strategic Incomprehension in the War on Terror,” p. 6, a synopsis of the salient points of Coughlin’s Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad. Coughlin writes in “Strategic Overview”:
From Catastrophic Failure [p. 34], “The “Dexter Standard,” was written to highlight the ridiculousness of the constraints placed on counterterrorism efforts to understand the nature of the threat. It argues there should be no controversy regarding analysis of a self-declared enemy’s self-identified warfighting doctrine and explains this through reference to the Showtime series Dexter. In the fall 2011 season, the plot revolved around a serial killer who acts in furtherance of an idiosyncratic End-Times scenario based on the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. Upon recognizing this, inspectors used Revelation as an essential analytical tool. The necessity of using Revelation was never questioned even as some inspectors were either nominally religious or non-believers. No one suggested that only Christian inspectors were qualified to investigate.
(I review in part Coughlin’s book in “Interfaith Bridges to Islam” on Rule of Reason.)
“Dexter” is Dexter Morgan, a forensic specialist in blood spatter analysis working for a fictive Miami police department. On the surface he is a calm, likeable fellow and gets along with most of his police colleagues. But, in secret, he is a serial killer. In fact, he is a homicidal maniac. He is a kind of vigilante who kills serial killers, and causes them to vanish. The bodies of his victims, each of whom is responsible for horrendous crimes and is ritually murdered by Dexter, are wrapped in plastic and dumped into the ocean. The problem with this, at least with me, is that once the serial killers have been “stopped,” no one knows what has happened to them and whether or not they are still at large and will strike again after a puzzling hiatus. Early in the series some of the bodies are discovered by a diving class. The unknown killer is instantly dubbed “The Bay Harbor Butcher.”
Their crimes are rarely solved by the police. The public is left in the dark about the status or demise of the killers. The police are left with big question marks. Dexter chooses not to enlighten them. He continues to analyze crime scenes and eliminate the serial killers.
My second problem with the series is that Dexter admits that he is homicidal. He likes killing killers. But his killing is done within the parameters of a “code” established by his father, a former (and now dead) policeman. This figure appears occasionally in flashbacks as a real character in the series, but mostly as a ghostly embodiment of a “conscience” with whom Dexter has an ongoing internal dialogue. This device is in addition to the intermittent voice-over narrative of Dexter.
Dexter confesses to an overwhelming urge to kill. He began as a child with animals and graduated to killing men (and some women, particularly the nurse who allegedly poisoned his ill father). It is something he says he cannot control. He is only at peace when he has killed someone. His father taught him everything he knows about tracking killers, capturing them, and finally dispatching them without leaving a single trace of himself or of the victim behind. He adheres to the “code” but sometimes questions his father’s wisdom, and sometimes his ghostly father questions his adopted son’s contemplated actions.
Overall, however, justice is not served, and is not meted out by Dexter, whether or not the death penalty can be condoned. The killers die – and many of them deserve to die – but because society is governed by a system of laws, their deaths at the hands and knives of Dexter are outside the law. The premise that society is a system of laws and not of men is not present in the series. If it had been at the beginning of the series, the series would not have lasted seven seasons, and Dexter would have been brought to justice himself very early on. The series ends, however, with Dexter getting away with his crimes, and sailing his boat into a hurricane and faking his suicide. In the end, he emerges as a bearded logger in Oregon.
The series was suspenseful for a while. But something else must account for it having run for seven seasons. Critics loved or hated it, and critical opinion was divided over the conclusion, when Dexter simply vanishes and does not retire his career and moves to Argentina with his soul mate. However, do people feel so doomed in today’s political and cultural environment that they felt a kind of symbiosis or empathy with Dexter, and the series served as a kind of dramatic objectification of their sense of peril?
I discussed “The Walking Dead” in several other columns on Rule of Reason, concluding with “The Walking Dead: An Obituary” on April 11th, and will not belabor the series here again. See “Negan and the Walking Jihadists” from March 25th, and “A Walking Dead Postscript” from March 26th.
What has astonished me is the enormous “fan base” of the series. When the Season Six finale of the series was broadcast on AMC earlier this month, there was an almost universal outcry or expression relief. This fan base must number in the tens of thousands. Fans either felt cheated of the introduction of their favorite villain, Negan, or said that it was about time the TV series adhered, at least in part, to the Robert Kirkman graphic comics series, which the author and his artists have been churning out since 2003 and are likely to for many more. Fans treat the Negan character as though he were the Second Coming of Christ, or behave online and at personal appearances of the cast like bobbysoxers once did at the appearance of Frank Sinatra.
Negan, according to one mainstream critic, is “charismatic.” Perhaps even hypnotic. Well, at least he is to “The Walking Dead” fan base, whatever form the series takes. For the fans, Negan is a “necessary” evil in their hierarchy of values. Negan is a “successful” looter and killer; Rick Grimes, the “good” group’s leader, on the other hand, has failed in virtually everything he’s ever attempted.
The debut of Negan, the apotheosis of pure, laughing, nihilist evil in the series, who apparently thrives on the applause of his “Savior” gang as he obliterates the head of a victim with his barbed wire bat, for the comics fans is for them is a cause for celebration. “Once he was lost, and now he is found.”
The TV series of “The Walking Dead,” which began airing in 2010, diverges radically from the graphic comics. It treats the Kirkman comics as a buffett of story lines and adapts specific comics content for the TV series. In many ways, the TV series hardly resembles the comics. The comics fans have never been satisfied with the TV series, but they watch it anyway. To judge by the comments left on the various “Walking Dead” discussion blogs, their devotion to the comics and the TV series has been literally religious. It is an obsession with a very crude and second-hand story theme. It is hardly original. There are countless novels and a quite a few dozen films and TV shows that dwell on an apocalypse. What the producers and directors of “The Walking Dead” TV series have done, along with Kirkman and his graphic comics, is string out the zombie story and fill in the blanks wherever the principals wish. One could pen a book on the numerous plot holes in the TV series.
“The Walking Dead” offers a moral conflict to most viewers and readers. In fiction, moral conflict is necessary and a guide to successful living. But in “The Walking Dead” the conflict is one in which evil wins, spreads its poisons, and triumphs. For those enamored of the literature of the past, and for whom their lives and their values are of paramount importance, evil and misery are not of metaphysical importance. But, to judge by the reactions to “The Walking Dead” and its finale (and on what is to come in the next season, and the popularity of the graphic comics), evil is a necessary condition for living. It is “entertaining” and welcome as a mode of surcease from the pathetic lives of readers and viewers.
(Parenthetically, the societies established and sought after by Rick Grimes and others are demonstrably collectivist in nature. The survivors live off the residue of a collapsed civilization, but do not attempt to replicate a productive one. Whether it is Grimes or Negan establishing a society, it is basically parasitical on the corpse of a better world. That the TV series would begin to take a “left turn” should not be surprising.
The stress is all on “family,” and “giving,” and “sacrifice.” People who are too “individualistic” are not to be trusted.)
The stress is all on “family,” and “giving,” and “sacrifice.” People who are too “individualistic” are not to be trusted.)
Islam is a death cult. That has been demonstrated for one and a half millennia. At this point, there would be no need to cite any one of the numerous Koranic verses to prove that Islam requires every one of its adherents – jihadist or passive – to live by Allah’s whimsical diktats to better follow the road to Paradise, where, upon arrival, all restrictive and confining bets and rules are off and the “afterlife” would become one eternal orgy of wine and women and rivers of honey and trees that drip raisins. At least, that is what is promised men, especially those who become “martyrs” by killing Jews and infidels and die in the process. What’s in it for Muslim women has never actually been detailed or laid out. There have been plenty of adlib jokes about a pious Muslim woman’s reward in the great Cloud Bank in the Sky, but neither the Koran nor the Hadith have much elaborated on those prizes.
But Islam is a death cult. In Islam the whole purpose of living is to die. And also to cause non-Muslims, infidels, Jews, and others to die. Especially infidels, because everyone (except Jews) it is claimed was born a Muslim, and those who stray from the “Eternal Word” and the “true” faith are guilty of “infidelity.”
All one really needs to understand Islam and how to live by it is the Secret Magic Decoder Ring (supplied by Ovaltine) to translate the pretzel-like and often incomprehensible language of the Koran and Hadith. Just follow the advice of Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan in his Road to Paradise.
So, what is an Islamic “Paradise” like? Dr. Khan explains it all.
"The description of Paradise which the Muttaqun (the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism) have been promised (is that) in it are rivers of water the taste and smell of which are not changed, rivers of milk of which the taste never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure); therein for them is every kind of fruit, and forgiveness from their Lord.
And what about those poor devils who strayed? They shall:
…dwell forever in the Fire and be given to drink boiling water so that it cuts up their bowels?" [(V47:15) The Noble Qur'an]
That cutting up the bowels of the damned part sounds very messy. Looks like a job for Negan. But, it won't be a cakewalk to earn a place in the Divine Disco.
The Road to Paradise is full of hurdles and pits, and not so easy to go through it! It needs great patience, self control, and to avoid all evil deeds such as illegal sex, illegal talk (like backbiting, telling lies, etc.), illegal foods and drinks; and to perform regularly compulsory congregational prayers, fasting, Jihad (holy fighting in Allah's cause), and to give obligatory charity (Zakat), and to perform Umrah and Hajj.
And to insure that devout Muslims understand the score, Khan beats a dead horse:
All glory and praise is to Allah, the One to Whom all dignity, honor and respect are due; the Unique with perfect attributes, Who begets not, nor is He begotten. He has no equal but He is the All-Mighty, Omnipotent. He sent His Messengers and Prophets to guide humanity towards Monotheism, to worship Him Alone, the only One Worthy of worship, and to warn them of the eternal dire consequences of polytheism, associating partners with One Allah and the worship of creatures.
What Islam promises is a causeless existence. To reach that state, one must first die, but, before dying, one must deny everything that is promised in Paradise. Go figure. It’s the old carrot-and-stick routine writ large.
In a philosophical and moral vacuum, it’s the fools of the world who rush in: those obsessed with death as a means of escaping, or snuffing out, life.