Coded gray.

Thursday 1 November 2001

Screenshot Daggerfall

Pic of the day: Trick or treating in Daggerfall. Who is tricking whom?

Trick or treat?

Heroin mixed with anthrax?? I have to say that I had trouble believing my own ears on Halloween when the news channel solemnly declared that 7 Europeans so far had succumbed to poisoned heroin, suspected to come from Afghanistan and supposedly containing anthrax. Yes, it is cruel and unusual. On the other hand, to be quite frank, it is a gift to the economies of the attacked nations. Heroin addicts are often unable to function in a job anyway, and most of them need to steal to support their expensive habit. Since the stolen goods can be sold for only a fraction of their nominal value, a typical heroin addict has to steal goods worth from $500 upward. Depending on how this is done, there can be several times this amount in damage. Exterminating heroin addicts is a quick way to improve the economy, as well as the quality of life for a whole lot of people. But, being civilized people, we donít exterminate those who have problems. Now our enemies decide to do it for us? What gives?

Quite apart from the death of current heroin addicts, this is likely to put a brake on recruitment of new addicts. I know that by the time you start to use heroin, you typically donít care all that much about your life anyway. Still, the sheer fact that the current user milieu is eradicated will make it harder for new prospective abusers to get into the drug.

With all due respect for bin Laden and his network, this seems just as likely to come from regional right wing terrorists. The only problem with this is that they may have a problem infiltrating the supply. At least here in Europe, Muslim ethnic groups largely control the supply lines.

***

I find these news all too fitting for a day such as Halloween, the modern Day of the Dead. As I have mentioned before, this festival (as well as Valentine day) has arrived in Norway with the Internet. (And some very dedicated businessmen, not least.) The original All Saints Day was a purely religious day of solemn reflection. Even so, it bears mentioning that the state-sponsored church, which serves most of Norway, has a slightly different view than its God concerning the state of the dead. While this is not a heavily defended piece of doctrine, the church believes in the immortality of the soul. This opens the floodgates for the ideas that the dead are somehow drifting around while we go on with our lives. The rest of the superstition is detail in comparison. Ghosts, haunts, spiritism, the whole package.

It is somewhat ironic, I think, that among Christians there are few other than Jehovahís Witnesses that believe in the mortality of the human soul. Ironic, because they are heretics to the point of having their own translation of the Bible. While the normal Bible translations I have read, agree that God alone has immortality, and that the wages of sin are death, and that the dead know nothing. Even the later so famous Jesus said about his friend Lazarus that he was sleeping, when he was dead. I am sure that if Lazarus was having an out-of-body experience and was drifting around the place watching the grieving family, Jesus would have said so. Jesus was after all known to be bluntly honest, and eventually it even got him killed for a while.

Now this is just my personal opinion, but I suspect that the belief in an immortal soul is itself a product of fear. People fear the oblivion, the nothingness, more than anything else. I cannot fault them for that. Another reason for this common view is probably also the fact that we dream about those who are dead as if they were still alive. Since they live on inside us, it makes sense to primitive people to think that they also live on elsewhere.

Perhaps if our civilization lasts for thousands of years more, we will have other concepts of the afterlife. I have explored this option in one of my half-finished stories, where an alien race has a kind of life diary for each individual. When that person dies, a soul-carrier is chosen to read the diary and carry on the soul of the deceased. From now on, he represents that other person in the world, and his personality gradually becomes an amalgam of his original soul and the soul of the other. Ironically, I wrote that years before I started my online journal ...

Oh yes, we do fear being forgotten, donít we? More than we fear ghosts.

***

But for myself, I fear drug addicts more than ghosts too. So if I donít open the door on Halloween, it is not because I have eaten all the sweets myself. (Well, I might have, though sweets can last for days in my home. I snack, but I do not binge.) Of course, it does not help that I can more or less read Watchmen (the acclaimed comic book miniseries) with my eyes closed. Those who have read it will know which scene I think of in the context of Halloween. Not pretty.

It is a sad thought indeed that some of the giggling kids that go trick or treat this night, will some years later end up as living zombies, rotting on their feet, their mind killed by drugs that promised them pleasure beyond belief. Trick or treat indeed.


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