Soullessness Made Easy

Stalker, a virtually unknown fantasy series from the seventies. It had an incredible impact on my psyche when I was learning to read. Maybe this is why I am so weird.

In my last post I began discussing the topic of soul suppression, societies demands that we power through whatever the cost, and never show any pain or emotion. I’m going to explore this topic further, and also discuss how I came to be “a man with no personality,” who eventually found his own way….if not into the light, at least I found my soul. Shattered, shriveled, and pathetic. But I now have a soul.

I’m going to discuss three things:

  • 1) The ancient idea that we should aspire to be beings of pure mind without emotion. Why that seemed a good idea, and why it really isn’t.
  • 2) The modern ideal of “the professional” and the struggle to find meaningful inspiration, and yet turn off the chatter that holds us back.
  • 3) I’ll discuss the silly comic book I referenced above, and tell you how a series that only lasted four issues and was all but forgotten largely shaped the man I became.
The classic Greek Academy. Socrates taught that self control was key. You couldn’t really master other people when you couldn’t even master yourself. I don’t know if Will Smith ever slapped Socrates, but ol’ So Crates sure had fun in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

The ancients were people like us, they had a love-hate relationship with their emotions. On one hand, you can feel inspired by love to move mountains. On the other hand, a broken heart is terrible. Losing a loved one can make it so you don’t even want to live any more. And of course, none of us wants to deal with the crazy emotions of other people. “They are so emotional. They are so dramatic.” Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle seemed to be proponents of at least keeping a strong control over emotions, and the Stoics often seem to be telling us to ignore our emotions altogether. The good part of this is, it can be a good thing to keep a tight reign over your emotions, especially in times of crises or war. The bad part is, ignoring your emotions too long can lead to lots of psychological and health problems. You might avoid thousands of dollars in therapy bills if you just learn healthy ways to express those emotions.

Controversial in some schools of thought, but there can be benefit from Shadow Work, if only to learn about your own weaknesses.

To be professional often means to be emotionless. Technically it means: “The skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well” (Webster’s Dictionary). And I have no issue with that. But I think companies expect too much when they expect someone to endure abuse. I remember a company I used to work for had a policy that if someone was being abusive to you on the phone you were allowed to warn them three times and then hang up. This policy changed somewhere in my first year, you were not allowed to hang up. You just had to take it. Which would not have bothered me….except I am pretty sure the CEO and the VPs of said company would have tolerated zero abuse from anyone. Yet the cowards not only hide behind people who make one five hundredth of what they make, they also would not allow these employees to retain any dignity. It wears on the soul.

And we wonder why people no longer want to work…..

If you have ever worked a Black Friday at a big box store, you know what I am talking about. Paid pennies over the minimum wage, these employees literally risk their lives facing actual hordes of people. I took this image from an article that reports a large retailer refused to pay a $7000 for an employee who was trampled to death.

When I was a child, I was super sensitive, and I hated it. I made myself impossible promises that I would not feel certain things. I failed miserably. I’ve already spoken in another post about this, but I only talked about the popular influences in the media at the time. The most influential was a fly by night comic book put out by DC in 1975.

These were the comics DC was pinning their hopes on in the mid seventies. Other than the superhero lines, I think most of these mags went extinct the same time disco did.

They advertised in their comics their superhero line, their horror line, and you can tell they were expecting a lot out of their fantasy line. Most of the fantasy lines did not last long. I think none of the fantasy lines they put out that year lasted more than a dozen years. But the guy in the center, who looked like a demonic Robin Hood, to me he was the coolest, yet his comic lasted only four issues.

The character was called Stalker.

Here they are. I had the fourth one, by far the best one. The others are ok, but in the last issue they told an epic tale of a man who had lost his soul, and fought his way through Hell to get it back.

In the first issue, Stalker is a starving orphan living on the streets. He sells his soul to an evil demon god named D’grth in exchange for the abilities to be the greatest warrior in history. To put it in D&D terms, he received maximum stats and insane levels in exchange for his soul. But unlike most deals with the devil, D’grth took Stalker’s soul while he was still alive. He wandered that world for two issues, seeking information on how to get his soul back. I suspect the fourth issue was supposed to be a story line that ran for months if not years, but they crammed an epic quest into that one issue. Stalker faces several challenges, unbeknownst to him, D’grth was testing him to see if he was a fit servant. The Demon’s dark intent was to forge the greatest servant he had ever had, with Stalker passing test after test, but the last test D’grth expected to break Stalker to his will, and then he would unleash this warrior on the unsuspecting world.

D’grth viewing chess like pieces of his servants, musing over how to best use them, and lusting for the power he will wield when Stalker turns evil and ravishes the world.

But Stalker proves himself even more worthy than D’grth expected, and passes every test. When he approaches the Infernal Palace that houses D’grth, instead of walking up to the throne and pledging his allegiance, he simply turns away….and makes his way to the purgatory where the souls of warriors reside.

Stalker turns his back on the Imp who has “helped” him make his way through Hell. The Imp is stunned to find that, instead of succumbing to the temptation to lead the armies of Hell, Stalker chooses to find his own path.

He leads an army of spirits who were too violent to go to Heaven, but too just to actually be in the flames, and they storm the Palace.

I won’t give away the ending, if you can get your hands on the fourth comic it is well worth the read. But ever since I have had a respect (likely a very negative aspect of my personality) for those who were ruthlessly willing to do whatever it takes for a worthy cause. Not for wealth or fame, but for a soul, or the life of someone you love, or for the glory of God.

Now as a grown man, I know that most of this is sheer silliness. But it colored how I lived as a youth. Ignore pleasures. Do your studies, do your farm work. The only pleasure I indulged in before I ran away from home was reading.

And that Stalker comic? It was my favorite till the day I bought Batman: A Death in the Family. Likely still in my top ten. I lost that comic when I ran away from home, as I didn’t take any of my old comics with me. A good friend bought me all four, and I’ve only read them twice since I’ve had them again. But it is good to know that the road to Hell was already scouted by Stalker. He prepared me for the real world better than you would think. The determination to face the horrors of the world, even though you have nothing to hope for, something very epic about that. Too bad in real life, you eventually have to find a good reason to pick the sword back up….Well, I’ll end with a lil somethin’ somethin’ from Robot Chicken.

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  1. NorthernOkie says:

    Great job!
    This post is fun of insight and reflection; this current thread is now my front runner for favorite. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NorthernOkie says:

      “…FULL of insight…”
      is what I meant to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Curtiswselby says:

    Gorsh! Thanks bro! Who knows….maybe D’grth will show up in Forgotten Realms….

    Liked by 1 person

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