Bloody Thoughts

“My bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne’er look back, ne’re ebb to humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up.”

Shakespeare, Othlello (1603)

Hatred is the child of resentment and impotence. For hate to thrive, a man must feel that he has suffered unjust harm, but he must also lack the means to take revenge upon his enemy. He may lack the strength, or the courage, or the deadly and devious guile; but hate springs to life only when a man has suffered harmed and there is nothing he can do about it. The pain of harm must join with the pain of humiliation, and what issues from this union are the bloody thoughts of hate.

Revenge is the great palliative of hate because it removes the shame of humiliation and exacts retributive harm. A young man resents a rival who “steals” his girl. Her seduction has done him harm.  But he hates her seducer only when the resentment is spiked with the humiliation of impotence. Breaking the windows of his rival’s automobile would alleviate the young man’s pain because it would pay back harm for harm, and, more importantly, because it would demonstrate that the young man is not an impotent patsy or a servile gimp.

In breaking those windows, this young and jilted lover would, in a sense, give vent to his hatred, but giving vent to his hatred may very well cure it. Bloody thoughts of hate will live and grow only so long as they remain mere thoughts. As wise Othello observed, bloody thoughts may be swallowed up by a capable and wide revenge.

These simple facts of life are not erased by homiletic pieties and moralistic gas. Hate is purposed vengeance, just as lust is purposed coitus, and these purposes turn morbid when they remain bottled up in he brain. There is, of course, a right way and a wrong way for a man to take a woman he desires, and not every desire is licit, but the man who never realizes his lusty thoughts in coitus is not altogether a man. There is, likewise, a right way and a wrong way for a man to take revenge on a man (or woman) he hates, and not every hate is justified, but the man who never realizes his bloody thoughts in vengeance is not altogether a man.

As Sir Walter Scott put it,

“When purposed vengeance I forego,
Term me a wretch, nor deem me foe;
And when an insult I forgive,
Then brand me as a slave, and live.”

Sir Walter Scott, Rokeby (1813)

You may be thinking that these are not very Christian sentiments. You are right. But neither are they what I will call Christian sentimentality. Sentimentality is ostentatious simulation of a creditable sentiment, such as grief at a funeral, and Christian sentimentality is ostentatious simulation of sentiments that are creditable in Christians.

But sentimentality is, by its very nature, largely or entirely a display of false, affected, and exaggerated sentiments. The Christian sentimentalist is, in other words, a hypocrite or actor who is making a show of being far better than they are.

I cannot tell you how to forgive someone by whom you have been harmed and humiliated, and whom you consequently (and no doubt guiltily) hate. All the homiletic pieties and moralistic gas come down to the useless demand that you must simply do it. (A sly implication of this imperious approach is that those who cannot simply do it are likely bad people who probably deserved harm, humiliation, and the Hell that awaits those who cannot forgive.)  But hate is a hardy growth—even hardier than lust—and forgiveness is not the sort of thing a man can simply decide to do.

Sometimes it comes as a kind of grace, and sometimes it does not. But most of what passes for forgiveness is just a sentimental sham.

* * * * *

I have written before that most of what passes for tolerance is also a sentimental sham. Tolerance is creditable in our liberal ethos, and liberal sentimentality therefore guarantees a surfeit of false, affected and exaggerated tolerance. You can, in fact, be tolerant only under two very rigid conditions. You must disapprove of the behavior you tolerate, and you must have the power to stop it. If you do not disapprove of the behavior, you are indifferent, not tolerant. If you cannot stop it, you are merely resigned. Most of what passes for tolerance is actually indifference or resignation.

Forgiveness is likewise possible only under two rigid conditions. You must still smart with the pain of hurt and humiliation, and you must have in your hands the means to exact a capable and wide revenge. If the pain has passed, you have forgotten, not forgiven. If revenge is beyond your powers, you have acquiesced, “sucked it up,” and accepted your brand as a slave.

Most of what Christian sentimentalists pass off as forgiveness is just forgetting or acquiescence.  In other words, it is a sham.

* * * * *

A bold and powerful man does not hate, because there can be no hate without impotence. He will certainly feel the wrath of resentment, but his power and boldness ensure that his wrath does not stay bottled in his brain. With such a man, bloody thoughts are promptly expressed in bloody deeds.

Hatred is the morbid resentment of a weak man who cannot strike back, and it should not be confused with the robust resentment of wrath.

When a bold and powerful man inflicts gratuitous harm on a weaker man, it is an act of cruelty, not hate. The cruel man of power does not hate his victim: he despises him.

Thus what we nowadays call a person of privilege cannot commit a hate crime.  He may certainly harm some member of a despised (not hated) minority out of wrath or cruelty, but when he does this he is not expressing hate.  A hate crime occurs only when the bloody thoughts of a despised weakling finally, after long and morbid fermentation, pop the cork off of the bottle of his brain.

41 thoughts on “Bloody Thoughts

  1. According to Homer’s description, Odysseus was small and rather ugly; he rarely fought with sword or spear but preferred the bow. Odysseus qualifies as a hero not because he went one-on-one with some hulking Trojan on the battlefield and overcame him, but because he effected justice when he arrived home in Ithaca. The slaughter of the suitors, who had been squatting in Odysseus’ house, eating his larder, and trying to steal his wife, is justice — not of the finicky modern variety as mediated by police and the courts of law, but of the archaic variety, in a situation lacking police and the courts. Is it hateful? Nemesis, which Telemachus feels, in Book I, when he looks at the suitors, differentiates itself from hatred and contains the germ of what would eventually refine itself in police and the courts as justice. Is the slaughter cruel? It is merely thorough. (As usual, my response is a bit askew.)

    • Hatred is tied to justice in ways that today’s doctors of hate cannot begin to understand. The slaughter of the suitors is not cruel because Odysseus is outnumbered and only succeeds by guile. I see Nemesis as a personification of justice, the restorer of balance in this world. On my definition, a man resents injustice and this curdles into hatred when he has no means to restore the balance. I don’t recall Odysseus having any lingering hatred for the suitors after they were dead.

  2. ‘…forgiveness is not the sort of thing a man can simply decide to do.’
    Some (most?) men cannot, perhaps. But some men can.
    If it were not so, our Lord would not have asked us to do that very thing:

    43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
    47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
    48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
    (Mat 5:43-48 KJV)

    “Othello” provides an object lesson in the tragic stupidity of hate.
    I prefer The Saga of the Burning of Njal
    When Kari Solmundarson forgives the burning of his son, the Njalsons,
    Bergthora and old Njal himself while one yet Burner lives, is he less of a man?
    Was Flosi less of a man when the shipwrecked Kari walked into his hall and
    (far from killing him) Flosi gave him his niece in marriage and made peace?
    The Saga suggests otherwise.

      • Finch is referring to Burnt Njal’s Saga. Like most of the sagas, Burnt Njal’s Saga records the metastatic spread of a feud, which ultimately implicates scores of victims. The saga poignantly includes a few attempts to stymie the feud by a quasi-Christian forgiveness, each instance of which catastrophically fails. Another feature of Burnt Njal’s Saga is that it records the coming of Christianity to Iceland. The original “preacher” of Christianity is a GIANT, who wanders from house to house preaching Christianity and kills those who are recalcitrant in receiving the Word. I have a degree in Scandinavian Languages and Literature, and know the sagas well, but I have never been able to figure out Burnt Njal’s Saga — I mean the Gospel theme in Burnt Njal’s Saga.

        Finch is also referring to Theodore Sturgeon’s law. (Sturgeon was a sci-fi writer and a polymorphous pervert in the middle of the Twentieth Century.) When college professors in the 1950s charged that genre fiction — in the “pulps” — was ninety per cent crap, Sturgeon replied that everything was ninety per cent crap. Sturgeon’s oeuvre is about seventy-five per cent crap,

      • ‘Finch is referring to …’
        I love the alliteration, but not so much the politesse.

        Thomas: ‘The saga poignantly includes a few attempts to stymie the feud by a quasi-Christian forgiveness, each instance of which catastrophically fails.’
        Pagan pride is not always easily subdued.

        Thomas: ‘Burnt Njal’s Saga…records the coming of Christianity to Iceland. The original “preacher” of Christianity is a GIANT, who wanders from house to house preaching Christianity and kills those who are recalcitrant in receiving the Word.’
        Olaf Tryggvason, King of Norway, may not have been an actual ‘GIANT’; but he was certainly the foremost warrior of his day. He was noted for touring Norway with his fleet and killing those who would not convert. On his way to Norway to seize the throne, he came across Earl Sigurd in Orkney. Olaf had five (or four?) ships. Sigurd had three. They had a parley in which (as Chapter 12 of the Orkneyinga Saga relates) Olaf stated: ‘I want you and all your subjects to be baptised. If you refuse, I’ll have you killed on the spot, and I swear that I’ll ravage every island with fire and steel.’ Earl Sigurd and the Orkneymen converted.

        Given these circumstances, the description of the conversion of Iceland in 1000AD before (I presume) news of the ambush of the Long Serpent (Olaf’s Dragonship) and the King’s death could have reached them, is not entirely fanciful. In any case, it is true to the story.

        Thomas: ‘I have a degree in Scandinavian Languages and Literature…but I have never been able to figure out…the Gospel theme in Burnt Njal’s Saga.’
        Well, I do not have a degree in Scandinavian Languages and Literature, but I do have a degree in Theology. Forbye that, I am also a Reader (Anagnostis) in the Orthodox Church and a published poet to boot. I think you are looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope.
        This is not just a rip-roaring story of Vikings into which Christianity makes a somewhat peculiar intrusion. The Christianity is the point. The feud begins. Recourse is taken to Law (as in Law Courts). At every turn smart lawyers prevent justice from being done. (Njal’s Saga is one of the earliest great court dramas in European literary history.) So, everybody goes for the Lex Talion – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life. Of course, matters then spin out of hand and general mayhem occurs.
        It is only when two wronged men give up their vengeance, when Kari puts himself into Flosi’s power and Flosi refuses to exercise that power, that mutual forgiveness ends the strife. Reconciliation occurs and normal community life resumes.

        The Gospel theme is succinctly stated in Matthew 6:12
        ‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ [KJV]

        If we will not forgive, there can be no forgiveness for us.

      • PS: Thomas writes: ‘Sturgeon was a…polymorphous pervert’

        What a truly polymorphous accusation. It can mean anything.
        Please explain.

      • ‘Polymorphous pervert’? Was he Loki? Did he sleep with the Svinafell Troll?
        Or was he some other kind of pervert?
        Please justify, or withdraw, the charge.

    • Some men assuredly can, but my experience suggests that they do so by grace, not will. I can say that I forgive you with the best will in the world, and then find the old resentment smoldering away, as hot and smokey as ever. I can try not to dwell on my hate and wait to forget, but forgetting is not forgiving on my rigorous definition. True forgiveness is, no doubt, a very fine thing, but most “forgiveness” is spurious. I think we should war against Christian sentimentality and be clear that we are incapable of anything remotely like “perfection.”

      • ‘True forgiveness is, no doubt, a very fine thing,
        but most “forgiveness” is spurious.’

        Indeed, but as Sturgeon’s Law states:
        ‘ninety percent of everything is crap.’

      • I’d never heard of Sturgeon’s law, but I would say that crap clusters around things we wish there were more of. There is counterfeit money but no counterfeit cow pies.

      • There is a joke shop in Glasgow which sells those very things – and much else besides.
        However, Sturgeon’s other (1st) Law sates that: ‘nothing is ever absolutely so’.
        In other words, while most everything is rubbish, there remains some that is not.
        Despair is not in order.

      • As you say, forgiveness is an act of the will. But hatred is a passion. By forgiving you are not magically removing the passion, but choosing to not give into it. Alternatively, one might desire one’s neighbour’s wife, a natural passion if she is very attractive, but by choosing to not dwell on it and to suppress the thought when it enters one’s consciousness, one is choosing to not surrender to what would become lust, though the passion of desire remain. These things might be a lifelong, repetitive, struggle for most of us, unless, as you say, grace intervenes. I don’t think there’s anything ‘spurious’ or ‘sentimental’ about this Sisyphus-like struggle. Forgiveness would be easier if it didn’t have to be constantly renewed. Perhaps the eventual forgetting is an example of God’s Grace?

      • I would not say that the struggle is spurious or sentimental. Quite the opposite. It is a very grim and serious affair. Sentimentality is making a great show of how forgiving one is–how full of love for everyone. All I can vouch for is my behavior, for as you say, the passions can be repressed, and perhaps even sublimated. I hope there is some merit in this sort of restraint. But I know the gospel ideal is a more radical transformation.

  3. “…and forgiveness is not the sort of thing a man can simply decide to do.”

    Indeed, one cannot simply decide to do so. One can forbare acting on emotion, but one cannot simple will emotion away.

    But forgiveness can and does happen. 10 years ago late in the evening I was reading the Bible (I believe it was Mark, but I don’t recall precisely) and came across the passage to the effect of “how can you expect to be forgiven by God when you do not forgive others?” [that is a gross paraphrase].

    That prompted something profound. I went for a walk despite the cold and pondered that phrase. I felt something new within me. Then and there I deliberately [in the presence of God, I did not communicate this to anyone else] forgave an ex-girlfriend for her many acts of manifold cruelty. I had hated her for several years, and my hatred defined and limited me. At that moment, I felt the comfort and presence of God, and that’s when I became a real Christian. A burden was lifted, and I was Free.

    • That sounds like a moment of grace to me. We are given the power to forgive and we should not make a pretense of this power until it has been given.

      • This would seem to entail that all who are less then perfect are damned, and would seem to obviate divine forgiveness. I think we may be using two definitions of grace here.

      • We are all less than perfect. Are we then all damned?
        Peter denied Christ three times, the same Christ who said:
        “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny
        before my Father which is in heaven.” [Matt 10:33 KJV]
        Is Peter lost? I think not. I hope not. I believe not.

        Grace is offered to all, but not all accept. None are compelled to.
        Salvation is not compulsory. If it were, God would a puppet-master
        and we would be his puppets. We would not be free.

        I think your definitions are too rigid.

    • @realgaryseven

      I too have had an experience such as this which changed my life.
      In my case it was the Lord’s Prayer that swung it for me,
      specifically the petition in Matthew 6:12 which reads:
      ‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ [KJV]

      If we will not forgive, we ask for (and deserve) none.
      That is a powerful prayer.

  4. Hatred is the child of resentment and impotence. For hate to thrive, a man must feel that he has suffered unjust harm, but he must also lack the means to take revenge upon his enemy. He may lack the strength, or the courage, or the deadly and devious guile; but hate springs to life only when a man has suffered harmed and there is nothing he can do about it. The pain of harm must join with the pain of humiliation, and what issues from this union are the bloody thoughts of hate.

    So hate-speech is a self-contradictory concept, as it intuitively seemed but I couldn’t put words to. Hate is a quality of a man, it seems. Your comparing it to grace is apt; it’s a vice (wrath), and so can be practiced and affect the character of a man’s soul. Speech is neither virtue nor vice. A hateful man can speak, can even vent his hate with words, but words themselves cannot be hateful, only said by a hateful man.

    This post reminded me also of that poem The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon by Rudyard Kipling. (link here)

    The poem talks of the long burdened Saxon slowly filling with hate. My thoughts turn analogously to the Germans, who were revenged upon after World War 1 with both harm and humiliation. It’s no wonder they began to hate. My question is, at what point does hate begin to infect the spirit of a culture, vs. just the spirit of a man? Is Hate, of a kind experienced by the Weimar Republic against the League of Nations, of a like kind as the hate experienced by a man?

    • I don’t think that “hate speech” is a contradiction in terms, although the current definition of the phrase is absurd. When an injured but impotent man mutters empty threats against his enemy, that is clearly speech expressive of hate. I would even extend the definition to cover dark mutterings about groups by who the impotent man feels that he has been injured. This hate speech can portend bloody action, since the cork is sometimes forced out of the bottle. But here is where I part with the current definition. There is nothing wrong with hate speech per se, since men are, in fact, unjustly injured by individuals and groups, and he cannot simply decide to forgive them. A man reduced to muttering empty threats against his genuine enemies should be an object of pity, not scorn.

      Your historical examples are correct. Of course we speak in analogies when we say a culture his humiliated or feels hatred, but cultural artifacts can spread, magnify, and legitimate the sense of collective injury and impotence. And if you look at today’s culture, you will see that its artifacts say that its official “haters” have suffered no injuries and are the very opposite of impotent. If this story were true (and it isn’t) these “haters” would be guilty of cruelty, not hate. Cruelty punches down. Hate punches up.

      • This is a controversial area. What is described as ‘hate-speech’ might not be so at all; it all depends on who defines it so. To me, most current hate-speech consists of the statement of truths that are politically incorrect-there is no hatred involved at all.

      • Much so-called hate speech is, as you say, proscribed truth. Some is rudeness directed at protected classes. ( Of course some of the impulse to be rude comes from the fact that the class is protected.) Some strikes me as purposefully vague in definition, so as to make all speech fearful and guarded. The concept of hate speech is terrible, and it is far more open to abuse than the old laws against blasphemy.

      • So to my mind there’s colloquial “hate speech” and then there’s the ontology of “hate speech” i.e. the idea and the thing itself. The idea of hate speech is subjective, as mickvet gets at. But is there in fact a variety of speech known as hate speech? JMSmith, you seem to argue in your original reply that yes, there is, but it’s not what we think, when you say:

        There is nothing wrong with hate speech per se, since men are, in fact, unjustly injured by individuals and groups, and he cannot simply decide to forgive them. A man reduced to muttering empty threats against his genuine enemies should be an object of pity, not scorn.

        Which I agree. The key elements being Injury and Impotence (that is, inability to obtain redress). Those people will utter hate speech, and are deserving of our pity.

        The problem as always comes when we conflate the idea with the thing itself, by appropriating words which have meaning for mundane purposes. (CS Lewis famously uses the example of “Gentleman” in Mere Christianity). The popular usage should be scorned simply for being poor communication. If the popular usage becomes commonplace (as it seems to have done) then those objects of our pity will quickly become objects of our scorn, and we will find ourselves cruelly punching down.

      • If we take “hate speech” in the natural sense of speech that expresses hate, there can be no objection to hate speech as such. I may not agree that a particular instance of hate is justified, but I should still recognize that every instance of hate speech is, on my definition, a cry for justice. To ban hate speech is, therefore, to ban protest, complaint, and appeal for justice. If I say “I would like to kill that swine,” I am expressing hate. I am not, however, expressing an intention (“I am going to kill that swine”). Vague rules against “defamation” are also wrong, since any critic who argues against the present valuation of something (a work of art, an artist, an historical figure or event) is defaming that thing. Defamation is one half of cultural commentary, the other half being exaltation. Without defamation, we cannot argue about values.

        Of course the reality is that “hate speech” is the resentment of certain people, and “defamation” is an attack on the present valuation of some other people (or things, or ideas and beliefs.)

      • I meant to add that Lewis argues that the word “gentleman” was changed from a descriptive to an evaluative word, and that language is impoverished by this loss of objective descriptors. This was said in the context of his statement that he used the word “Christian” in a descriptive sense, and not as a synonym for “good,” “kind” or “admirable.” His argument about “gentleman” doesn’t really work in this country, since we have no “gentlemen” of his description (men of a landed family with a coat of arms), but his point is still well taken. If “hate” is changed from a descriptive to an evaluative word, we lose our understanding that righteous indignation is psychologically indistinguishable from hate. If “defamation” is changed from a descriptive to an evaluative term, we lose our understanding that anyone who has ever said that someone or something is overrated has engaged in defamation. In other words, we think that “hate” and “defamation” are exclusively found in our enemies, and that this is all the more reason to hate and defame them.

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  6. It cannot be wrong to hate Evil even when one is both harmed and then impotent to do anything about it.

    But this hatred neither necessarily entails a love of the Good nor the proper identification of Evil.

    The mad projectionists of modernism neither truly hate Evil nor do they properly pinpoint the purveyors of a real hate for the Good.

  7. There seems to be a spectrum of hate (a veritable diversity of hate!), and the proper word for that family appears to be “hate.” So, I disagree with your narrowing of hate to the malevolence of a man stewing, incapable of acting on his hate. Certainly, the experience of such hate differs from the contempt by the strong for the weak and despicable, but they seem to be kindred dispositions. It’s reasonable to try to define our words, but when we deal with fundamental ideas, definitions tend to fall short. I don’t know who started the definition of love as willing the good of someone, but such is quite deficient. How you can define love? Ditto for hate. They’re too fundamental to be well defined by other ideas. We can describe them but not adequately define them.

    • Despite my imperious tone, I don’t mean to lay down lexical laws for anyone but myself. I’m inclined to use malice or malevolence for the general state of being ill-disposed. I’m mainly struggling with the recent politicization of the word hate, which is now used as a casual slander of conservatives and conservative social doctrine. I thought there might be a way to turn the insult back at our soi-disant betters by arguing that we hate them because they have the power and despise and “deplore” us.

    • Perhaps ‘hatred’ is egotism balked
      while ‘contempt’ is egotism unleashed.

      I do not offer these as ‘dictionary definitions’
      but as (perhaps) ways to think about them.

      • Too little? It depends on whose interests are at stake…
        Too much? Ditto…

        The career of Alkibiades is a classic example of both
        the workings of egotism balked and egotism unleashed.
        There are sound reasons to argue he had too much power,
        and equally sound reasons to argue he had far too little.

      • When we say that a single man simultaneously has too much and too little of X, we must be using X in two senses. My seventeen-year-old son frequently argues that he has too little power (i.e. freedom) and too much power (i.e. responsibilities), but I’m not buying it.

      • Because Alkibiades had too much power he set Athens on course for destruction – the means of which destruction he communicated to her external enemies as he lacked the power to defend himself against his own
        internal enemies – and from which course he had too little power to save her.

      • Two different powers: the power of restraint and the power of command. Much misery has been caused by giving the later to men who lacked the former. The terrible irony of human history is that we are drawn to leaders who lack restraint.

  8. A lot of real hate is self-hatred deflected by a mad projectionist in denial.

    To “hate” in the modern context is to either a) think of one’s self as superior to others and/or b) to show disrespect for an obvious superior.

    “Hate” as applied above is mental paralysis for a dull mass neither allowing for thoughts of superiority nor a questioning of one’s superiors.

    So beneath the media-propagated image of the SJW ranting and raving against “hate” is a nasty and miserable self-hater barely hiding his toxic self-loathing within the chaotic commotion of his crowd.

    The SJW demands “equality” and the end of “hate” and as such there is no belief in superiority and no usurping one’s superiors.

    Got that, “hater?”

    • I think that hate is often born of envy. And the envious man cannot act on his resentment because he is too weak or dull witted. If I envy a fellow because he is witty, I am impotent to take revenge. If I was witty enough to put that other man down, I would not be envious in the first place.

  9. Pingback: Cantandum In Ezkhaton 09/01/19 | Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogitatiores


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