“I was rooting for Mephistopheles, and contemptuous of Faust.” – Hannibal Lecter, NBC’s Hannibal
Everything I needed to know about life I learned from villains and the darker side.
Disclaimer: I’m a devotee of the side opposite the vaunted, usually annoying hero. “Villains” have always held a special fascination for me. Maybe because I’m an INTJ on the Myers Briggs Personality Index, the same type as many a baddie. But more likely, it’s because the dark side is the smart, ambitious, wild side. You gotta admit, seeing a wolf on the hunt is more interesting than watching a sheep munch grass. If you’re nodding, you’ve found your haven. Or should I say secret lair in a volcano? But given how volcanoes like to erupt, we should stick to a secret underground bunker.
Mission and Manifesto:
- ♦ We don’t hail the darker side, we analyze it.
We see the useful, rational, powerful aspects in villainous life natures. We acknowledge their points of logic without condoning them. We believe that the useful elements can be mined, refined, and molded for positive outcomes.Leveraging the darkness is our aim. Light out of shadow. Good out of evil.
- ♦ Like it or not, the dark side is appealing.
Villains are sexy. In a society where heroes are praised and antagonists are ignored, it’s tempting to ditch Technicolor in favor of seeing everything in black and white. The almighty Powers That Be tell us that the heroes are GOOD and the antagonists are BAD, and not just somewhat bad, they’re all that and a bag of chips BAD. Through the ages, the whole point of “villains” is to warn us away from evil. “Don’t do life like them!” we’re told. But try as society might, it can’t ignore the appeal of the dark side. We’re naturally drawn to the antagonist, even if it’s just from curiosity.
- ♦ Everybody wants to rule the world.
Do we all secretly want to become the baddie? Well, maybe. We all can and do have villainous natures. It’s how we develop and express them that’s makes the critical difference. We make mistakes, we go down wrong paths, we believe incorrect things. But at the end of the day, we’re not villains.
- ♦ The definition of a villain:
There are a lot of great definitions out there. I’ll give ours.
an individual who stands against the aims of the hero by exercising a villainous life nature in ways that are tricky, illegal, and/or just plain mean spirited and if left unchecked will cause serious harm, usually to the hero/protagonist.
- ♦ The definition of an antagonist:
an individual who stands against the aims of the hero but not necessarily by exercising a villainous life nature in a destructive way.
But for ease of reading, I often use them interchangeably. The more you think about the differences, the blurrier the line gets.
- ♦ Every villain is the hero of his own story.
Every hero could be the villain of another story, dependent on perspective. Or even of their own story, if things changed or if they let themselves slip. We are all attracted to the dark side. We find it beautiful, alluring, dangerous. People acting badly is appealing. People opposing the hero help us explore what rebellion is like without risking jail time ourselves. Villains and antagonists are driven, powerful, persistent. They do things we want to but can’t. Their natures are more primal on some levels, yet on others are the epitome of cold rationalism. They think they’re the pinnacle sometimes, like we wish we were. Sometimes they act out of poor self image, like we do too, but with way more commitment.
- ♦ In understanding the darkness, we understand our need for the light.
In the light, we see the flaws in the darkness. It’s said that darkness is a void, a lack of light. But is it? Isn’t it a twisting of light? Particles and energy exist, but they’re just not arranged the same. Darkness has an identity, like light. To understand the darkness in ourselves is to come to a fuller knowledge of ourselves overall.
- ♦ Beyond helping us understanding our own villainous life natures, the darker side offers great tips and tricks for getting the most out of life.
You can’t deny that villains’ gusto for life and their unique slant on things is attractive. I believe every villain can teach us something useful about how to live a more successful, effective, and just plain fun life. Sometimes they do this by teaching us what NOT to do, but that’s all part of the game.
Are you open-minded enough to explore villainous life natures, those of others AND yourself? Are you strong enough to pull light out of shadow, good out of evil?
Ex umbra in solem
Ex malo bonum
Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur