*This is a short story I wrote in 2011 that symbolizes the difficulty and horror and madness of what it means for a rational man to be religious and believe in the irrational.
Madness is I.
Yes, a sickness has come over me, one I can neither fathom nor explain. What is happening to me is almost beyond words and sentences, verging on unbelievability, even by I who am being most affected by this obscure occurrence. I am trying to think of how to describe this accursed sickliness without sounding like I belong in a madhouse. Yet, there is no medium that I know of where a rational man can say the world is flat and act accordingly on the repercussions of such an understanding and not expect society to incarcerate him into some institutional euphemism of oppression. Still, I must speak about this phenomenon that is haunting me, even if it leads to the wrath of men or to the banishment of my person from my present commonwealth.
Initially, I thought this thing but a physiological matter only: something in my bloodstream, an undiagnosed disease, a virus making its way through my muscles and tissues, a contagion yet to be articulated. But it was not like any ailment I had ever heard of or felt. I have been gravely sick before, but most assuredly never like this. It gave my form a strangeness, something so odd I seemed to have no reference point of comparison when attempting to give it a description to myself. The novelty of this malady left me more concerned at first than frightened. I felt like I was with a horrible fever save I had no rise in bodily temperature: I felt always dreadfully nauseous and expected to spew out my innards at any moment, but never once did I do this: I felt thirst beyond quenching but desired no water. And because no genuinely commonplace physical symptoms ever surfaced I never sought out an animal-biologist for diagnostic investigation.
Soon──very soon──I came to believe it was something in my mental workings, something not of my physique but something of my psyche. I began to accept that I definitely had a sickness──but one that was affecting my thoughts. And while I quickly should have sought out a son of Freud, I never did: partly for fear of what he might have told me, partly for the self-shame of such an undertaking, but mostly because of a cowardly tenacious false pride. If I were the problem, then surely I could be the remedy, or so I thought. Yet, the vagueness of this disorder almost forbids me from elaboration on what this thing does to my thinking processes. Still, I must confess to what is happening to my perceptions of reality, even and especially if it be implausible. For sometimes the not plausible is more in accordance to what is real than what is not real.
Yet before I travel with you to how this surrealism is altering the universe I exist in I must mention an important oddity to this whole affair:
The genesis of my mind-sickness I have ascertained originates from our dead moon. This I discovered gradually and very reluctantly. My infirmity──while overall incrementally increasing and intensifying──would ever so slowly get worse and then peak, and then ever so slowly reduce in strength and then eventually nearly disappear. Soon I realised my alien feelings and thoughts only came late at night, and I soon came to notice that they correlated themselves with the phases of our lifeless moon. As it waxed my sickness increased, reaching its zenith on the night of a full moon; and as it waned, so my sickness waned, being its weakest when the moon above had all but vanished. I know this sounds demented to express and might be another form of derangement in and of itself.
Yet it is happening, even if it cannot be occurring.
Because of this impossible abnormality──or maybe it was an integral aspect of this abnormality──I became obsessed with learning everything essential about our closest satellite, even ridiculously believing that knowledge of this cold sphere of ours would somehow bring me back to my senses and maybe rid me of this confounded monstrosity. I passionately studied its size, shape, weight and mineral compositional make-up in great detail. (I honestly doubt anyone alive can say they understand more about the geological formation of the moon more than I.) Then I examined intensely and unrelentingly its gravitational effects upon our globe, especially paying acute attention to how it supposedly had a maddening impact on certain people when it was at its luminous brightness. (I felt like a madman doing autopsies on lunatics to avoid his lunacy!) And not only was this endeavour a neutral in helping me, but it seemed to make things frustratingly worse, even though it probably did not.
Yet, something about our sun of the night hypnotised me, forcing me into being a seeker of its more mystical nature. I even came to see all the theology and spiritual history of our queen of the dark as being paramount to my understanding of my problem. For months I feverishly sought out all knowledge about our white goddess. Anything to do with the holy and the spiritual as it related to the night globe soon came to possess me. I searched for the truth behind this lamp in our blackness from anywhere I could find it, even in forbidden occult books that one should never gaze upon. Sometimes I would reach a trancelike state as I examined our living moon and all its effects on our supernatural beliefs. It is astounding the number of lunar gods and goddesses there are, although our celestial body is almost always thought to be feminine, I learned. From the Greeks and the Romans to the Hindoos and the Chinese, it seemed almost every culture had a cult committed to venerating this silver entity. An archaeologist could dedicate her life to searching all the myriad ways our eye of darkness has been worshiped. From Christianity to the Moslems, from nature-worshipers to tribalistic fertility dances. It was and is a part of almost all our major and minor religious faiths. Actually, the moon is almost a religion unto itself. And even though all this knowledge about our animate orb did not alleviate my unwholesomeness, still this particular type of wisdom gave me a relief, a soothing of contentment I did not even know existed.
The Moon is God.
At least that is how I felt after my becoming so intimate with it, and especially when the moon was past its gibbous state and becoming full as the transformation would begin. For it was this changing of I into a beastial thing that most affected me to becoming a devotee of the star without flames. And how do I describe the metamorphosis? At its worst, late at night on a completely rounded moon, it would occur. The sickening of my mind and body would increase a hundredfold, stabbing at me like a thousand daggers. All my senses would come alive, like I was an animal just born into this hostile cosmos. I could hear sounds of the tiniest creatures crawling upon the ground, peer into the night and clearly see through the emptiness as though it was daylight, and I could smell things no other human was meant to smell. (Several times I nearly became unconscious due to the delirium caused by my olfactory senses alone.) And my blood would boil and my muscles would twitch, like I had to hunt down a prey and tear her to pieces. It gave me the sensation of being alive only a man with a rope around his neck could swear of. And O the demoniac rage and anger! And even though every time it occurred it was worse, still I knew the change was not complete. That had yet to happen.
And because of all this impossibleness I have come to believe that I am now in the latter stages of becoming a man of wolf. Yes, a wolf-man, a beast of beasts that must destroy the world in an orgy of violence, a folkloric mortal that changes into an animal of terror, a thing of abomination, a hideous myth of lore.
Yes, a lycanthrope!
How this is happening I do not know, and why this is happening I do not know. But still it is happening.
Yet, I grasp how this cannot be occurring.
Vampirism and werewolfism and witchcraft are dead! Such hallucinations no longer exist, cannot exist. Fairy stories are not true, cannot be true. For I am not living in Europe during the black era of medieval times in the age of feudalism. Werewolfery exists only in a child's imagination. This moon-sickness cannot be, I say and know. But if it is, then am I to be a monster that attacks because of the moon? Are cannibalism and mutilation and murder to be my fate? And will society hunt me down like in the days of yore and burn me at the stake for being a direct manifestation of the Devil? Or will the brethren of my blood simply torture me relentlessly and unmercifully until I admit to being in league with some sorcery and all the forces of evil?
This should not be!
I am not a peasant in Russia during the reign of the Romanovs, I am not an illiterate villager within the Holy Roman Empire, and I am not a herdsman of sheep in Spain when the Moors were in power. I know about the world, from our unimportant place in this accidental chaos to the way everything is materialism and naught else. If I were an ignoramus who knew nothing of logicality or the empirical ways of learning, maybe then such foolishness could be taking place. But I am not such a person. The old piety and all its superstitious nonsense has long since been dead to one as I. The spirit world and the fables beyond the senses and all the intoxication of the things of invisibility have disappeared to me, even as a hypothetical possibility.
And because of this, all this should not be, cannot be.
And yet, this changing is forcing me to begin to see our world differently. This transformation is not just tearing apart my physical and mental self, it is also altering my conception of what is real and what is not real outside myself. I see how it is nearly impossible to talk about such a thing without resembling madness personified. Yet, these heightened senses have made me hypersensitive to my existence. Not only has my form changed but so has my consciousness. (Or is it the other way around?) To be honest, I do not want this illness, this hex, this horror. (Actually, I cannot conceive of any living thing──conscious or barely conscious──that would long for such a cursing.) Still, it teaches me of a sensation that goes beyond pleasure or pain, of a wiseness of how I am on fire and cannot be extinguished by the things of man. It is as though the whole of Western civilization is crashing down before my very eyes, all and everything, and left is but the unbearably raw condition of our being. It is as though I am no longer part of my limited world of sensory experience and reason, no more connected to the divisionism and reductionism and false facades of empiricism. I understand my feeblemindedness and how it is impossible to utter all these statements without thinking my pathology an obvious mental unbalance. Still, I cannot say otherwise. And maybe it is because of this very fact that language and linguistics now fail me in my attempt to paint my condition as anything less than a misty abstract portrait of visceral irrationality.
Like all men, I thought I could escape the clutches of this fiendish thing. All of my breathing has been a dedication to the life of living, not to spectres beyond the grave and to the demons that never were. And similar to most people I lived a life of important triviality of time and place and person, conscious of my transparency yet accepting of my personal minutiae as being the core of my existence. Yes, the finite of nothingness was enough for me, both with its pointless hedonism and meaningless nuances of joyful agony. It is amazing how the ordinary and superficially uneventful life is so much of a thing to be desired. Most men do not want to exist──it is anathema to our nature. This world was enough for me──and now the madness is threatening to demolish it.
Unless you have not surmised it yet, I am speaking all these words in haste as the goddess of white above is now full and about to complete this transmogrification of me. Yes, now the moon is high and round and full.
It is coming!
Again, I do not want its ecstasy, its horror, its agony. Yet, it is coming, and with it, all the wretchedness of its meaning. Would I stop it if I could? Yes──no. No──yes.
It is coming!
If only something or someone could save me from this ultimate terror. Alas, I am doomed. Maybe if I took my life before the transmutation was completed. Maybe then...
It is coming!
Somehow I try to deny its arrival, prevent its coming. Yet it is no use.
It is coming!
The powers of the moon are unavoidable, undeniable, unquenchable.
AND THEN IT COMES!
The metamorphosis is agony incarnate.
It is not a thing of beauty and bliss and joy──it is a tearing asunder of everything wonderful and beautiful. It is the torturing of all, the fulfillment of sorrow, the destruction of any hope for humanity. It is the searing of my flesh and the scalding of my bones. It is the unimaginable horror made real, the thing no man should want and yet cannot escape from occurring. It is the execution of the I against the death of everything. It is a grotesque monstrousness, a thing of evil beyond evil. And it is above all else a madness──an insanity──a lunacy.
Yet, it is the true essence of ourselves. It is not a lie, but a veracity that must be screamed in terror. And it leaves me alone and against the world. And it also leaves me with a longing not for the love of my fellow-man, but for the death of everyone who has ever been born.
Now I am one with the ancients of old.
No longer am I of this world of learned men calmed by reason and logic and pacified by sensations of shallow carnality. The world of my upbringing is now a castrated corpse to me, a myth created by a fictional reality. I am now a Bedouin under the constellation of Providence, a seer trying to find Noah's ark, a mystic attempting to unveil the universe in a grain of sand.
──And now I am a beast-man to my malevolent contemporaries: A Moslem murdering pagans to death by sword in the glorious name of Allah, a Christian burning a heretic who says man grew from the limbs of an ape, a tribalistic shaman practising the craft of the witch against the white devils, a Hindoo disemboweling a man for denying his caste duties. Yes, I am the monster that you fear, the irrational that is, the demon seed spewed upon the world. And like a rabid dog I now have fangs to rip at your soft meat, claws to slash at your timidly gentle society, jaws to devour your lost children, and animal muscles to reduce to ruins all that you value as secularly sacred.
──Yes, I am now the man of wolf amongst your civilization.