A tale told in parts by: Ribaldo B Innocenti
“Just as Christ tormented the flesh through the spirit, the God of this time will torment the spirit through the flesh.”
– C.G. Jung, The Red Book
“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
– W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming
“Bare history hardly ever offers us, and always incompletely, the material for a judgment of the inmost (and so to say, instinctive) motives of the ceaseless struggles of whole peoples and races; that we must seek in religion and saga.”
– Richard Wagner, The Wibelungen
“When you’re out in the woods, look straight ahead like a good little girl.”
– The Brothers Grimm, Little Red Riding Hood
One: Birth Pangs
It was as though the Beast had broken out from the woodcut borders of some medieval grotesquery – something fantastical and horrific; imagined by the superstitious minds of those times. Perhaps, it was within a work depicting hellish scenes of eternal damnation that it first gained consciousness of itself, as a thing distinct and individual; naked. And in being in that condition, left alone to come to terms with its own nature, it grew more conscious and more powerful, more concretized and self-assured. Perhaps it was through the self-conscious reflexive state that it first leered out, beyond its mere imaginings, through opaque chiaroscuro, into a world whose time was yet to come. Though, it is too often said that works such as those strike the observer as somewhat ludicrous in their gauche overrepresentation, their overwhelming cornucopia of odd grotesqueries which over stimulate the senses, such that for something distinct to be drawn out from them, it must first draw out from within. But this only illustrates the point further; that in the Bosch-like cacophony of bestiary exhibitionism, our semi-human-demon presented himself as a more ardent and horrid sort; closer to Mankind and yet irreducibly removed and thus capable of approaching the most harrowing aspect of the poetic sublime. One could always mark the contrast in these works between those demonic smiles and those who screamed with their faces all contorted and full of pain; yet both facets somehow found ample mediation within the configuration of the beast. This ghastly chimera, this horrendous fabled creature; who dared to break the spell of the canvass, who at first leered and then gashed and then erupted from some black oleaginous unknown depth, bursting forth from amongst the reveling momento mori and the sadistic pitchforked demons delighting in their vocations as torturers of the damned in this dim garden of unremitting entanglement and despair. It was as if it moved throughout the framed work in a spectral and incomprehensible darkness from shadow to sorrow, from torturer to tortured; feeding off of the pomposity, pleasure, and bloodlust of the overlords, and the tragedy, pain and damnation of the underlings as facets of its own being; both damned and damning for all eternity, and somehow deciding that this narrow two-dimensionality was not enough.
This creature whose very real existence seemed to stretch the mind’s limit of fathoming to the razor’s edge of unreality – to the precipice of credulous fantasy – also seemed to counterbalance in an elasticity of the unbelieving psyche to that further and higher precipice of terrified mystification which is a precondition for a leap-of-faith – demonic or otherwise. The quality of the sublime was taut inside that unreality and the capacity of terror which was both its capability and its material fabric – primal and horrific, bestial and godly, yet underneath that rough appearance both human and recognizable – as in the divination of the older demi-gods; in the time when man himself was casting off the yoke of nature, weaving a golden thread through labyrinths of bestial entanglement. The beast-man, the man-beast, the beast inside the breast of man and the man inside the breast of beast, the thing without precedence or equal was brought forth from within the bedlam of carnage that is the setting of this story. Indeed, it was the chaos of the Second World War that had birthed it, that gave it form, vigor, and vitality – nay, the war had given it necessity itself by laying the world in the blood-soaked material cloth of the gale of creative destruction. By painting a canvass through which it could self-actualize.
It was as though the martial-industrial composition of howling howitzers and storming stukkas performed as the angel trumpets and stork wings that announced and delivered this abominable creation into the fire-pit which Europe had become. With a fixed chorus of screaming agonies it emerged from the blood bedewed earth as an enfant terrible; the essence of terror incarnate in a revenge of Nature upon Man, of a reckoning of the blazing sword of some primordial sleeping energy, of a half-forgotten faith shredding through the antinomies of the clean and blighted rationality of a world driven spiritless and wholly material, a reminder of all that lay before in the bloody sediment of the historical bowel movement.
But it was through a particular man, a condemned man, a man without faith, without religion, a man of his age, a man of science, a man of progress. Yes, it was in the most abhorrent and dire circumstances that the beast sprang upon the World as unsuspectingly as the molten slag of Vesuvius flung upon Pompeii so long ago. The ash of its birthing and the shadow of this man transformed, cast upon even the life giving sun, a giant umbra of its former glory – as the mark of the beast – the heavens themselves became enshrouded in unfathomable obscurity, in a darkness that reflected the furthest recesses of a condemned soul, a nebulous and unceasing hopelessness pervading the horizons in all directions. The reasons, the projections, the insinuations and the possibilities of this terrible phenomenon enraptured the mind in eternal and perhaps unknowable questions regarding the limits of Man’s infinite curiosity and ingenuity and the consequences thereof.
It was as if all the sense and reason of the world had been spent and twisted to the point of absurdity, until that last tinsel fiber holding the seams of reality together was to be cut by the most unsympathetic shears of fate, that something abnormal, some mutation, must occur in order to render the World sensible again. Following the thread of this wrestling logic, it was as though the monstrosity of its existence was only given proper form as a return to the bosom of Nature, holding within it the promise of the savage innocence of the animal kingdom, a promise that absolved Mankind of its own bloodlust – to warp oneself snugly within in the skins of beasts, as in a shamanic practice of preternatural reconciliation. Within the poetics of this hybrid creature one could reconcile a kind of coronation of Blake’s tyger and lamb into a singular element within Man that transcended the purely metaphysical, as both captive and participant to this transformation and transvaluation – “as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves,” as it was written elsewhere of the possibility of housing two opposing natures within one soul – comprising a trinity yet.
That the Werwolf appeared as the total war’s perfect offspring is somehow cruelly fitting – as in some ways the beast was more terrible and yet brutally magnificent and awesomely sublime in its own dark creation, than the wanton destruction wrought by the making and deployment of the atomic bomb and other instruments of ingenuous annihilation and incineration that the war produced. Somehow the beast took within its breast that cold inhumanity and technical mastery that managed the work and death camps with a rational scientific precision and amoral objectivity. As though, in a dialectical fissure between the exacerbated disciplines of techno-scientific progress and martial order and the wild abandonments held within the throes of war, a synthesis was conceived within its twofold nature of these incongruous, yet inseparable halves of the whole. In this sense, this unholy metamorphosis falls within the mechanisms of the alchemical and mystical systems of thought, was not God himself unknowable to himself without first becoming Man and only by becoming Man could Man assent to knowing God? That this Thing, ‘this Beyond Evil,’ must be expressed in terms of a Creaturely Something, in order to be reconciled with the Unconcealedness, the naked disclosure, of the apocalyptic times that shaped it. As the war progressed the pageantry of cruelty, which always lay behind the veneer of civil society, grew heavier and curler aggravating and intensifying into a malignant cloud that descended upon the World, holding such weight as to explode, but it held not evaporated water, but the accumulation of dark and hideous accretions. Such that the beast’s transformational ancestry seemed to comprise the catalogue of gruesomeness that shaped the contours of Creation’s twisted balustrade that stretched across oceans of rotting flesh and nature’s own struggle for mutation and adaptation and evolution – survival. Whole cities, now rebuilt to house the murderous frenzy, were once monstrous grave markers and before incineratory infernos and before dwellings once again drawing closer to the primordial act – such as Cain. The Werwolf was spawned within the insides, within the very bloody intestinal weight of such things, the seed of its gestation manifesting itself through sheer force of will to being-in-the-world.
It was as though the beast fused its becoming with the heretofore unimagined range of heartrending crime and subsequent numbness that the war produced. Nigh, heroism died upon the scaffold of murderous intent and there was only the weight of recriminations that remained, holding itself together as some distant form – becoming in the ether, burrowing in the earth, howling in the darkness. The mass consciousness of those caught in the grand game fell to the resolve of hopelessness and a grisly doomed fatalism that dispelled any higher virtues and kept only survival and even then only out of habit, rather than desire. The carnage seemed unrelenting, undying, as though a pursuant specter carrying a bloodstained scythe were always one step ahead, waiting around each turn in the rubble, but that was rather hopeful.
The weight of the mass raping and the slaughter of innocent girls with dainty bows in their hair by pursuing armies of slave-solider-menfolk, whose own sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness mingled with the satyriasis of their guilty pleasures, like unrepentant death row inmates given over to one last rite of profanation – they were the damned, so why should young girls have dainty bows in their hair? The whole World was damned and in Gotterdammerung all things were permissible since all things were equally condemned.
In its cruelty was wrought the despair of those loved ones whose husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters they would never hear, nor see, nor touch again – and in the anguish of uncertainty and despondency therein lay the foundations of this tale; therein lay its most tragic element.
But it was also cataloged in those Machiavellian handshakes professing the lesser of two evils thereby trivializing the lives of many innocents into bulldozed piles of statistical collateralization, the pawn sacrifices and cannon fodder of the greater game, those who could not bite back. It was in the innumerable dustbins of human folly and frailty that life was breathed onto the beast.
Perhaps, perceptively, its presence could be felt nourishing itself off of the shame of the emaciated tattooed victims with their gaunt skin stretched over sharp and brittle bones which seemed to press out of the film of the dirty membranes that encased them, like insects undergoing the imago stage of a metamorphosis. Those who stumbled like living skeletons in zebra suits through barbed wire crossings of compromised emancipation; they would never truly be free. Within all those disfigured souls, those undignified lives, of the experimented upon – with their vivisected and lacerated lesions – exposed bone, muscle, sinew and organ, pulsing brain matter and oozing wound – puss, bile and blood – the crying shouts of the damned and all those condemned from all salvation – inside a reprobate and ungodly world. Hundreds of innocent souls huddled in churches set ablaze in some eastern backwater, piled like some grotesque layer cake next to grandmother’s ravine or lined up and shot en mass, burnt and bludgeoned and blasted and fragmented and disfigured and wounded. Within the accumulated frenzy of utter tribulation blood spilled most freely into overflowing pools of gore and unsanctified revulsion, literally creating a hell on earth. The coagulated odor of death mingled with the most awful smells of rotting flesh, filth, disease, petroleum and sulfur, which streamed into the unconscious sense memories of those given participation to these dark days of the Apocalypse. All of it pales and somehow merges, as in some bloodstained collage, into the uncanny figure of the beast – somehow, it was as though, it were suckling upon the blood tit of the very transubstantiation of the World made flesh and bone in its dismal cruelty – as though it were some gnostic demiurge feeding upon its own fashioning in the time before all time’s reckonings had been or come to pass – working away, unseen, in the primordial and chaotic darkness. Somehow it was as if its presence had always been there, behind the swastika, and in the dry retching stomach of starvation. A stalking presence from within the subterranean torture chambers of the gulag from which no light enters and no noise escapes. Yes, it was there too; but was it not also carefully manufactured and idly awaiting its curtain call from within some trap door beneath the European theater? Whispered inside the counterfeit neutrality of speculation perhaps spawned in some estaminet in London or New York, wherein profiteers spoiled the mantle of young men’s courage? Perhaps, the beast was there, breathing down the necks of the faithful in their boardrooms and stock exchanges, stalking in the shadows, waiting to reveal itself as the perfect synthesis of the destruction and creation of this bellum – of its inhuman and superhuman dimensions. Perhaps one can come to understand the beast as the constellation of these manifold callous machinations that the moral fabric of the World gnarled through a contortionist series of horrors culminated in its abhorrent birthing. Its mother lay screaming, its father not breathing, but dying – the soul of Mankind electrified in the torment of this hell all the while the moneychangers kept their craft within the confines of the temple.
All the unmentionable repulsions of this war, the blasted and the burnt, the mutilated and the crippled, the psychologically wounded, and the dead and dying were somehow seen in the light of the revelation of the beast as mere offerings upon some ancient heathen blood altar to its own adoration. Perhaps it is best to preserve its origins in storied mythos as some supernatural pagan abomination – a demonic bastard mischling conjured by Mars and Vulcan in full concert with the bacchantes in some reptilian sodomite’s parthenogenesis. From the cromlech of Morta herself, damned and damning the whole of creation with the stench of its womb. And perhaps the whole rite was further profaned by the presence of Mammon overseeing the birth of genuine tragedy while the God of the Israelites turned his back and wept crocodile tears.
Somewhere in the workings of all the machinations and mechanisms that facilitated the war’s destruction and refashioning – it was there – waiting to be unearthed like the accumulated souls of all the sufferers; of the murdered and of the damned. As if those condemned were trapped in some nether region, some godforsaken heathen limbo awaiting liberation and confrontation with the almighty indifference of a god who was not there. As in that infamous box of Pandora’s, those restless and murderous souls whose lives on earth had been reduced to animalistic survival, devoid of beauty and driven to a monstrous end, holding within their torment a cold demand for vengeance upon a world that had been so ugly, cruel and prejudiced against their ambitions, hopes and dreams. And in that darkness they reached towards the light and towards the sun but as in Tantalus, the logos recoiled from their outstretched arms and all became enveloped once more in doleful night. But there was still Hope in this mythological allegory was there not? Hope itself born from the opening of things better left locked and forgotten, clinging fugitively to the bottom of the box, as the last testament of a service to the world – a gift of compassion from the Gods – so that Mankind in its deepest despair, could not question whether there was not also a light which shown in the most harrowing darkness, which somehow made it all hallow. Hope, that bastion of both human conceit and humility, held within it the promise of eternal salvation, never fully abandoning its desolate post within the furthest flung prayers of Mankind.
While I have been in the presence of the manifold speculations of the origins of the beast, and as I am one of the few who know the truth; I am therefore condemned to a conspiracy of silence because of it. But now, after these many, many years, rumors are beginning to be whispered again, rumors amid whispered rumors – perhaps it is now time to lift the veil and to tell this tale, for the very future of Mankind may rest upon its faithful rendering. Perhaps it is best to begin when the World first encountered rumors of the beast, rumors amid whispered rumors you understand, which, upon honest confession, I did not initially believe and upon first inquiry neither will you.
Copyright © 2015 by Howl House Publishing
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