The Little Book of Demons: The Positive Advantages of the Personification of Life's Problems

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In his own inimitable style Ramsey Dukes takes us through the advantages and dangers of hobnobbing with Demons. However for him Demons are very much our own creations; lifes problems and challenges personified and given form. We can either be their slaves or strike bargains and get back into the driving seat. With his characteristic wit and wisdom, Uncle Ramsey takes us on a rollercoaster ride through our own subconscious in a sustained effort for us to accept and negotiate with lifes challenges.

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

I am writing this book to help people tackle the problems of everyday life.

The book recommends one simple formula: treat life the way you would want to be treated yourself. Talk to your plants; empathise with the moods of your car, the office copier or your computer. Recognise the weather, the landscape, nature for what they truly are—mighty gods—and learn to read their expressions. Study all the patterns of success or frustration in your life, name them as demons and learn to work with them rather than simply suffer or deny them.

In place of a plethora of self-help books offering Seven Secrets of..., Ten Scientifically-proven Habits of ..., The Four-step Process to Complete and Utter... and so on, I am suggesting one simple solution as the answer to everything: do as you would be done by.

How boring.

But it’s surprising how a simple idea like that can ruffle people’s feelings. I will people your world with demons, angels, gods and spirits of all sorts and persuasions—if you really don’t mind that, then you may want to skip this first part. But I know that some people won’t be at all grateful for all this fun.

 

CHAPTER TWO: THE POSITIVE ADVANTAGES OF PERSONIFYING

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CHAPTER TWO

THE POSITIVE ADVANTAGES OF PERSONIFYING

Let us begin with one near-universal life experience: the way that gadgets and systems let you down just when things are most critical, when you are in a hurry, when an important person is present, or when the deadline is pending.

It does not matter whether it is red traffic lights on the way to a late appointment, or a car that won’t start, or an office copier that grows cantankerous—in every case I recommend recourse to that very obvious question “how does it know I am in a hurry?”

This is such a natural question, and it arises in so many minds, that it is easy to overlook its radical import. It is, in fact, deeply revolutionary, for it betrays a mindset for which one could be burnt at the stake in religious times, or treated as a mental case in scientific times.

The idea that an object could know anything, have any conscious volition, let alone know you are in a hurry, is anathema to religion. It is an idolatry, a pantheistic pagan notion that the church has been fighting since it emerged triumphant at the end of the so-called Dark Ages. The denial of that notion was inherited by science in the second half of the millennium—replacing the term ‘ungodly’ with ‘untruthful’, and seeing those who support the notion as ignorant or insane rather than sinful.

 

CHAPTER THREE: HOW SHOULD I ADDRESS DEMONS?

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CHAPTER THREE

HOW SHOULD I ADDRESS DEMONS?

The last example of the previous chapter expanded the field of enquiry dramatically, and introduced a new problem.

Until then, I seemed to be simply advocating talking to something—car, copier, cat, plant or whatever. Though revolutionary in concept, as I explained, it is hardly revolutionary in practice because it comes so naturally. Many more people talk to objects than would admit it—”Hurry up, you silly thing!” says the secretary as she stands fretting by the office printer.

But when I suggest talking to a complex comprising discrete phenomena—like a run of bad luck— and naming it a demon, then we are moving up a gear. How the hell does one talk to a run of bad luck? Let us begin with an illustration.

ILLUSTRATION A YOUNG MAN WITH A PROBLEM

A bright young man has just left Oxford with a good degree and track record for enterprising extra curricular activities, and he needs to get a job.

He’s got used to a Summer vacation, so puts off thinking about the problem until September. Then he thinks about it.

 

CHAPTER FOUR: VARIETIES OF DEMONIC EXPERIENCE

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CHAPTER FOUR

VARIETIES OF DEMONIC EXPERIENCE

You don’t learn about people from books. Discuss.

The first point is that it is not true—of course we learn about people from books. I’ve never met Aleister Crowley, so most of what I know of him has come from biographies.

The second point is that the sentence, although not strictly true, does contain a truth. Although I gained most of my knowledge of Crowley from books, I also learnt something about him by talking to others who had met or worked with him. Without the greater depth of empathy and understanding this personal contact provided, my knowledge of him would have been more brittle, fragmented and stereotypical. The added input had a bigger impact on the quality of my understanding of the man than on the quantity of my knowledge.

I also believe that we learn more about our fellow humans from fiction than from non-fiction books, and this is because stories encourage us to enter into the scene described and empathise with or ‘become’ one of the characters. In imagination we are no longer reading a book but participating in a drama.

 

CHAPTER FIVE: WHAT WE LEARN FROM THESE EXAMPLES

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CHAPTER FIVE

WHAT WE LEARN FROM THESE EXAMPLES

The examples in the last chapter, and in Appendix I, are deliberately diverse in order to discourage you from forming a narrow interpretation—for example that I am using the word ‘demon’ to describe unconscious complexes. Amongst all the diversity, however, certain consistent lessons can be deduced. This is what we can learn from the examples.

VARIETY

The first lesson to be learnt from these examples is that we are dealing with an enormous variety of demon forms. From sixteen stone of living flesh in the form of a human body to Spirit itself. From a persistent mood called depression, or a human sexual obsession, to a world Jewish conspiracy that existed only as a figment of the imagination until its opponents prompted it into an unanticipated form of manifestation.

The only common factor in all these and other examples is that I am prepared to honour them with the initial assumption that they are like me and possess a sense of self awareness. I then, from that point of understanding, invite them into dialogue so that they can reveal the extent to which they are different from me and how we might each benefit from our differences.

 

CHAPTER SIX: FINDING AND WORKING WITH YOUR OWN DEMONS

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CHAPTER SIX

FINDING AND WORKING WITH YOUR OWN DEMONS

I am advocating demonolatry as an alternative way of dealing with life’s problems—firstly problems as they arise but then extending the solution to an exploration of potential problems and how they might be forestalled. This in turn leads to the joys of demonolatry for its own sake as a hobby alternative to fishing, philosophy or creative writing.

I begin with simple exercises and progress to more complex possibilities.

MECHANICAL PROBLEMS

Harking back to my introductory words on the divergence of mechanistic and humanistic ways of dealing with phenomena, and how the mechanistic approach can extend right up to psychopathic manipulation of fellow human beings, the demonic approach can turn the tables on this invasion of territory by in turn treating obvious mechanical problems as if they too are sentient beings.

This is rather easy to apply, because most of us tend to do it anyway—talking to our car when it is reluctant to start, cursing the photocopier as if it was sensitive to such malevolence. So the only difference I am advocating is that one does this without shame or reserve.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: RECOGNISING OTHER PEOPLE’S DEMONS

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CHAPTER SEVEN

RECOGNISING OTHER PEOPLE’S DEMONS

It is far easier to recognise other people’s demons than one’s own. My first extended example, of the young man who could not get a job, was based on the assumption that the reader would quickly perceive the pattern and recognise that he ‘had a problem’ even when the young man was still insisting he’d just been unlucky.

As already explained, demons have their reasons to avoid being noticed, particularly when they are still enjoying the power of being able to manipulate a human without much resistance. Such a demon isn’t so worried about what other people think, as long as the host remains ignorant of its manipulation.

The exercise I suggested of scanning one’s life for circumstances when one over-reacts is much less difficult, or even necessary, when dealing with others because over-reaction becomes so obvious. The person who goes on and on about immigrants, or men, or fat cats, or teenage sex, or the monarchy, or violent crime – especially when the offending principles have little direct impact on their own lives – such a person clearly has a demon.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT: DEMONS IN PARTNERSHIP

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CHAPTER EIGHT

DEMONS IN PARTNERSHIP

It is often stated that ‘opposites attract’, however, in the case of shared demons I would rather say that “similarities attract, while opposites galvanise”.

People can be drawn together by a shared demon: two racists might meet at a nationalist party rally and enjoy each other’s company, two people with uniquely liberal educational ideas might meet at a parent/teacher evening and become good friends. But the real dynamism in a relationship happens when a shared demon is manifest as two opposing horns as in the following examples.

EXAMPLE ONE—TWO PEOPLE WHO CHOSE DIVERGING PATHS

Two people met and fell madly in love—each seeming to the other to be a special person, very different from themselves. Although it was not recognised at first, they did have certain things in common. Both were born to intelligent, middle class parents without much money, both were sent to local state schools but proved themselves to be unusually bright. So both got state-sponsored scholarships to posh private schools and both found themselves in their pre-teens feeling small and overwhelmed in an alien environment.

 

CHAPTER NINE: WHAT WE LEARN FROM OTHER’S DEMONS

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CHAPTER NINE

WHAT WE LEARN FROM OTHER’S DEMONS

It was emphasised that the real learning about demons comes not from this book but from working with your own demons. There are also further lessons to be learnt from observing others’ demons, so let us see what can be gleaned from the examples in the last chapter.

POLARITIES

When exploring our own demons we tend to identify with just one of the horns of the polarity and focus our attention on the opposite horn—as in the example of chapter four where the man had an initial problem in the form of a demon of lust, and it only transpired later that the problem was actually a tension between libido and control. So the polar nature of one’s own personal demons can be less obvious.

When it comes to shared demons in couples, the situation is much clearer to the outsider. That same lust demon operating in a couple would lead to the sort of scenario when a religious leader or priest forms a secret liaison with a prostitute—a very clear polarity in the relationship. It is not always so clear to those involved, however, because of the way some demons conceal their tracks. Although I made the balance pretty clear in the eldest daughter/youngest son example, it could have worked out that the oldest daughter took all the blame, being seen as a bossy, ball-breaker while nobody noticed the contribution being made by the youngest son; equally, the man could be labelled as a passive, puer aeternus and seen as the whole problem, without any acknowledgement of the woman’s role.

 

CHAPTER TEN: WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING?

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CHAPTER TEN

WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING?

We have observed life’s phenomena and we have opted to share our gift of consciousness with them instead of hoarding it within our self. As with any form of gifting, we then observe where the gift seems to be well used and responded to, and we then adjust our generosity accordingly.

I suggest that the baby who offers his mother the gift of consciousness will generally find it to be gratefully received and repaid many fold in terms of warm human companionship—compared with the response to a child who treats the mother as pure mechanism to be manipulated. Whereas the obedient spoon—although it proves an undemanding listener when we seek to unburden life’s sorrows— offers less in the way of companionship and so earns a smaller share of our awareness. These examples illustrate the two extremes we could explore.

In one view all is seen as mechanism or the interactions of inanimate matter. Thus our fellow humans are no longer people, nor even customers but mere users, consumers or tools to be manipulated. The same process of desiccation turns inward so that our own sense of volition is stripped to its mechanical components and we too become machines serving our local needs in an all-pervasive sea of mechanical interactions.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN: INTRODUCTION TO SOCIETY’S DEMONS

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

INTRODUCTION TO SOCIETY’S DEMONS

In the late 1980s I was invited to join a small team consisting of an economist, a computer programmer and an astrologer to do some mathematical modelling for research into the stock market movements. To give the project a certain energy boost we each subscribed five hundred pounds towards a pool to be traded on the options market, and we were gratified to see the value of our investment rising over several months towards the point where our astrological model suggested that we should close our trading.

The model suggested a particular week as being a good time to sell, but the economist who had plenty of experience and a good understanding of market movements said that he would choose the actual moment to sell, because critical last minute gains could be made by choosing the time well. As the days of the week ticked by we saw that he was right and we were still making gains. So on Thursday he gave instructions to the dealers to sell our options on Friday.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE: WORKING WITH SOCIETY’S DEMONS

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CHAPTER TWELVE

WORKING WITH SOCIETY’S DEMONS

Considering the examples I gave of other people’s demons and how they are manifest, it becomes obvious that there are certain demons or families of demons that crop up all over the place, whether in local groups, nations, Western culture or all over the world. These include racism, capitalism, communism, terrorism, fundamentalism, freedom, democracy, religion, materialism... the list is endless. But what can I do about a demon that is not merely resident in mine own soul but all around me?

It is a bit like asking what a gardener can do about dandelions. If they are his own problem—e.g. his garden is infested with them—then he has also to face the fact that they are also a problem throughout Britain. So does he give up?

That is a solution, to cease worrying and maybe even learn to enjoy eating the leaves and making dandelion coffee out of his uninvited crop. But the usual answer is to take steps to eliminate the weed from one’s own garden. This requires persistence, for even if there is not a single dandelion or seed left in his plot, next year’s crop in neighbouring fields will bring fresh seeds in on the wind. This does not altogether negate his efforts, for it is still easier to remove weed seedlings than it is to deal with deep rooted established plants.

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: DEMON BEST SELLERS

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

DEMON BEST SELLERS

This chapter provides examples of demons that infect large numbers of people—especially those that infect our culture and maybe other cultures too.

And the end of the last chapter provided a good cue for our first class of demons.

RACISM, NATIONALISM AND NEPOTISM

My most powerful racist experience took place in a North London bookshop adjoining a restaurant. As I waited for my meal to be served I wandered into the bookshop to browse. All the usual labels were there that you would expect in any small bookshop: Travel, Biography, Fiction, Cookery, History and so on. But when I looked at the actual books I had a surprise. The cookery books were all Jewish cookery, the travel was all about Israel, the history was all Jewish history and the biographies were of great Jews and the fiction seemed all to be Jewish fiction and so on.

I wondered what someone who frequented this shop would learn about non-Jewish people and their behaviour. There were many books about the holocaust and anti-Semitism—would this shop not give a biased view of the rest of the world?

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH OF DEMONS

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH OF DEMONS

Let us add a little paranoia to the dish, a dab of mustard on the edge of the plate into which readers may choose to dip these pages’ chips of wisdom, all the better for to savour them.

Paranoia, like any other demon, should hold no more terror for us now we have learnt how to chat with demons, build up a relationship, and also how to restrain them with analysis.

Indeed, the message of this book so far should have done much to loosen the grip of paranoia on our minds. As the examples on the previous pages illustrate, once we learn how to recognise demons, then we are liberated from conspiracy theories. For I have demonstrated that the evil inherent in our institutions—everything from health care to business, from religion to terrorism—is best understood not as the property of the individuals who serve the demon but rather of the demon itself.

Individual journalist, politicians, businessmen may be fully rounded human beings who really believe they are doing their best for society, and yet they contribute to organisms that serve their own purpose beyond society and often at odds with human needs.

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: WHAT WE LEARN FROM SOCIETY’S DEMONS

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

WHAT WE LEARN FROM SOCIETY’S DEMONS

It is Autumn 2004, and all evidence in the media points toward David Blunkett, Britain’s Home Secretary, being a sick-minded little shit who only got into government because the Prime Minister was so utterly desperate to freshen up his politically correct image that he felt obliged to drag the odd disabled person into his entourage to the extent that he overlooked the fact that not all handicapped people are saints, indeed they can also be bitter twisted individuals with a deep-seated grudge against the rest of us and society as a whole.

I, however, am suggesting an alternative theory: that the very fact of being in government can lead a weak minded minister to propose identity cards, unlimited detention of non-whites without prosecution and other equally blatant mechanisms of repression, not because the person is inherently sick or evil, but simply because that is what government wants and that is what it will get unless we humans recognise that government is itself a demon that has worked its way into the ecology of our culture.

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: CONCLUSION

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CONCLUSION

We have looked inside ourselves, we have looked between ourselves and we have looked at society as a whole—and everywhere we have seen hordes of demons. Because seeing demons was what we set out to do. Other people see only mechanical processes—because that is what they have been taught to do.

We actually made a choice. They only did what teacher told them.

It matters less whether we made a good or bad choice—whether my demon thesis is platinum or crap—than the simple fact that we made a choice and explored things for ourselves rather than dance to the blathering farts of acamedia.

The problem of our times is society versus the individual, the individual in society and the society within the individual24.

The exploration of our personal demons has revealed to us the society within the individual, the potential for democracy within us. It opens the windows for an exploration of ourselves, the individual within society, and so the potential for democracy without.

The exploration of society’s demons has revealed to what extent our lives are being lived for us. We do not have to welcome these demons into our lives.

 

APPENDIX ONE: LITTLE ANGELS

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APPENDIX ONE

LITTLE ANGELS

I was quite determined not to make over-simple distinctions between demons and angels, but the following examples—divination and meditation— have been lifted from the chapter on types of personal demon because they address a more specialist readership, not because they are so angelic.

DIVINATION

As I am considered to be something of an expert in such matters, people sometimes put questions like the following to me.

• Is it better to use yarrow stalks to consult the I Ching rather than the simpler coin technique?

• Is it bad to ask the same question twice?

• Is it true that, if you ask a question of the tarot, it is then wrong to ask the same question of the I Ching or other system?

As far as I can see, all such questions are best answered not by a dogmatic yes or no, but rather by suggesting that the questor identifies with the system of divination. For when we consult any system—from astrology to tea leaves—we are asking it to provide advice in matters beyond our own reckoning. We are, therefore, consulting an expert.

 

APPENDIX TWO: WHAT EXACTLY IS A DEMON?

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APPENDIX TWO

WHAT EXACTLY IS A DEMON?

The quick answer is that it isn’t “exactly” anything, because exactness has little place in personal interactions.

Having said that we can go back to first principles and raise the question in the light of what has been learnt so far about demons.

WHAT IS A DEMON?

Having suggested that the sea of mechanical interactions and the sea of consciousness are equivalent, let us stick with the latter view in which we, as observers, direct our consciousness toward certain phenomena and choose whether to share our awareness with them.

What are these phenomena? I take the office copier and the office boss as examples. Both are experienced by us as patterns of interaction in our brains and nerves, patterns informed by data entering via our senses. These senses are themselves only experienced as patterns of interaction in our brains and nerves. So, in our subjective reality as experienced, both the copier and the boss are patterns of interaction within our brain.

We assume that these patterns somehow reflect another objective reality—i.e. that there really is a material copier and a material boss out there and they are more than just illusions existing only in our brain. But this assumption complicates matters, so will be addressed later. For now we concentrate on the subjective reality we inhabit and recognise that it contains a boss and a copier and that—until you read this book—most people would have granted that the boss is conscious like themselves whereas the copier is not.

 

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