Killough argues that God is a psychopath, and Dexter was made in his image.
Unless you get regular industry updates sent to your smartphone as I do, or you follow the cancellations and renewals of premium cable shows, it’s unlikely you noticed that Dexter, a show about the serial killer of serial killers, was renewed for another two seasons, bringing the total to eight.
This is a lot of bodies, lakes of blood. Who knew that Miami, where the show takes place, was such a haven for the murderous sociopath. I thought it was all Shriekin’ Ricans and Gloria Estefan’s rain-drenched, coke-fueled dream of a Tel Aviv serviced by Cubans. Almost makes me glad to be making my exit on Wednesday back to LA.
Dexter’s first two seasons were, literally, killer. I started watching them a couple of months ago here in Miami not because I was living in the location, but because it was raining so constantly and there was such a drought of anything else by way of entertainment. The problem with watching the back seasons of these shows in a block is you become saturated looking at the same faces, the same sets, the same scenarios. I believe I’ve even started to talk in Dexter’s plangent, laconic way. The one actor I cannot look at enough isn’t the lead, Michael C. Hall, but the woman who plays his sister, Jennifer Carpenter. Now I really regret not seeing her feature film vehicle, The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
During the height of the Occupy Wall Street flare-up, there was some discussion bouncing around the more legalistic corners of the Internet about corporate personhood, or the notion that a corporation is in fact a person and is accorded some of the same rights as an individual. One of the essential problems with this is that a corporation, like Dexter, is sociopathic: it has no feelings, no remorse, no empathy. It simply does what it is set up to do, which is to make as much money as possible for its stakeholders, regardless of the consequences, moral accountability, “fairness.” It is for this reason that non-serial-killer sociopaths/psychopaths, of which there are many, make such good businessmen. It is believed to be their profession of choice.
Yet in the broader spectrum, life itself is sociopathic. Nature cares not a whit if you live or die, if you are part of the 99% or if you were paid an unseemly bonus, if justice is served to you or if you get away with murder. Good and evil are irrelevant in nature; it’s kill or be killed, or hide in the bushes waiting to die of natural causes. In order to cope with this utter indifference towards us, we vest life with human characteristics, a sort of existential personhood, and we call it God, or many gods, or a higher power, and try to propitiate it with sacrifice, by drinking wine rather than blood, by doing good in the belief of some non-existent karmic reward. We need to cling to this as we are held hostage by existence, chained in the basement waiting for it to bump us off at any given moment, perhaps brutally, perhaps slowly, perhaps mercifully. But kill us all it will.
Therefore, if you are going to put a human face on existence, on God, it is Dexter’s, but without any of his muddling through and trying to work out how to be more human when that makes no sense; even Dexter is subject to Entertainment Laws that he must have some character arc, as unreal as that might be.
If we are made in God’s image, or he in ours, then God is a sociopath. He isn’t the vengeful, jealous tyrant of Judeo-Christianity—given that Yahweh doesn’t exist, it says more about our culture that we have bestowed this particular deity with these attributes than it does about the deity himself. Nor is he the multi-faceted blue Hindu who is one being with many moods and incarnations that reflect every possible human situation or personality. God is Dexter, but a Dexter devoid of his ‘code’ of conduct that allows him to kill only those who deserve it.
Since I started watching Dexter, and reached this God-is-a-sociopath conclusion, which has probably been stated many times before but I am simply to lazy to do the research, I have also stopped being an atheist. No, I haven’t gone back to religion. I have for many years called myself an orthodox atheist, but even by negating theism by putting an ‘a’ in front of it, you are acknowledging its existence. It is simply not an issue because it is nothing; I had might as well call myself an a-unicornist. I’m not even going to call myself a nothing-ist because there is nothing to add to a meaningless conversation, unless some religious nutjob is threatening me or my rights in some way, in which case I will fight back.
I do agree with Mr. Baker that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are the noisome evangelical atheists of our time—and it needs to be stated that atheism has been around since the notion of supernatural deities were created by man (and him alone exclusive of all other animals)— and they are both strident and shrill in their proselytizing. They often lack compassion with their smug intellectuals’ mockery of most of mankind’s ignorance and adherence to superstitions, both traditional and non. However, I also agree with Dawkins and Hitchens that religious people are by and large even less tolerant than atheists, and when attacked, as atheists have since the invention of deities, one should stand one’s ground and lash out.
I believe in the reevaluation of our relationship with existence/God not because I want to prove my elitist intellectual’s correct, scientific-method-based reasoning for the lack of a god, but on compassionate grounds. I do not believe it is a kindness to fill people’s heads with lies and fables, assurances of hereafters that cannot possibly exist, reincarnations via karmic cycles that ultimately reduce life to a cosmic washing machine that doesn’t respect the truly awesome nature of its being. Even if that being is a sociopath.
Shortly before I left London, there was a campaign by an atheist society that was reluctantly approved by Dawkins. The slogan, which ran alongside buses was “There’s probably no god. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Dawkins objected to the “probably,” but that was the compromise with the London public transport system so that the campaign could run and not offend the dwindling percentage of Europe that still believes in a supernatural deity.
For all of the above reasons—that it is inhumane to mislead and lie to people who are seeking solace from the Great Sociopath’s cruelty—I think it is also wrong just to burst the bubble and leave it out there dangling. Yes, understanding the true nature of existence is essential to enjoying whatever small happinesses life allows us, but just negating something doesn’t lead to understanding.
This is where I support the Eastern philosophies and meditative practices. The key to dealing with the Great Sociopath is to accept it for what it is; meditation soothes the mind into acceptance. Existence isn’t fair, it is single-minded in its purpose—to evolve, to preserve the strongest, to regenerate—and it will kill you in the end. It is the enemy, but it is also you because you are a part of it. So don’t just “stop worrying”—what a patronizing statement—stand your ground and fight back for as long as you can, and don’t let the bitch get you down.
What is the point of our emotions and empathy and compassion if it is so against sociopathic nature? To be honest, I’ve got no clue. I have no new Gospel According to St. Dexter to put forward, no Oprah-fied quackery with which to pat your hand. I personally think all of those “unnatural” non-sociopathic traits we have as ‘normal’ humans are those parts of the engine that drive us forward to evolve, to better our lives, to live longer, safer, more healthily. Far from us emulating God or becoming more like him, our humanness is us giving him the finger.
As my sister said after a fourth or fifth endeavor of mine collapsed under the weight of the sociopathic times we live in a few years ago, “You should go on Oprah as living proof that The Secret doesn’t work.” My sister had bought into Oprah’s latest ratings-boosting illusion with gusto, and had even written herself a check for ten million dollars, which she had posted on the fridge. It vanished after a while; my sister is nothing if not practical at the end of the day, as muddled as that day might have been at some point. But she is absolutely right. As relentlessly optimistic and perseverant as I am, I am living proof of the truth of that unfair, merciless truth. There is little you can do to change your condition.
Acceptance is the only holiness. It’s the best we can do. After which, we lay our heads down on the chopping block and let Saint Dexter do his job. But when you do put your head down, try to make your last words “fuck you.”
This will be my last post before Thanksgiving, so my parting shot is this Thursday you should thank the person, the human being, who is providing and/or cooking the meal, and that’s all. If that person is you, give yourself a big Oprah-filled hug. The rest, as they say, is just gravy.
Good thoughts, JK.
I’ve said before that nature is amoral. It doesn’t care. The reason we have a basic moral code is not because some deity said we should but because our society would collapse without one. Why are we less violent and more compassionate that we used to be? I believe it’s micro-evolution at work. Those who are chemically inclined toward compassion live long enough to pass on that trait and attract more lovers who pass on that trait. Natural selection is not about the long-term survival of the organism, it’s about the organism passing on as much genetic material as possible. Crazy terrorists die without passing on DNA, leaving behind those who are too compassionate for such acts. Hopefully, in a hundred thousand years, there will be no more terrorists.
I hope I didn’t come off as too negative about Dawkins and Hitchens. I think they both have great ideas, and reading Dawkins has changed my life. His efforts to mix philosophy and evolutionary biology invite criticism because they are often forced abstractions, but otherwise, it was Dawkins who got me to come out of the closet, so to speak.
I’m not big on the “probably” either, because most passages of text are better without “ly” adverbs. It’s the editor in me talking.
As for Jennifer Carpenter, I’m willing to wear lifts. By the way, if Dexter is God, does that make her Jesus? I mean, she IS a carpenter after all.
I knew you would have the answer to everything, Eric. Praise Jesus!
Unless you’re me eager to have everyone’s eyes cross over after they read a sentences, adverbs are for noodle shops.
Carpenter does have a bitchin’ body. Well worth the lifts. Which I’m sure you’re used to after the rock n roll days.
“Adverbs are for noodle shops.”
I do believe that sequence of words has never existed before today. And I spent my rock and roll years barefoot, the way nature intended.