The Faustian pact

A meme that has interested me in recent years is the Faustian pact. I am not a fan of literature, but this motif has come to my attention in a few ways:

I. Goethe’s ‘Faust, part I’

II. Wilde’s ‘A picture of Dorian Gray’ (I had to read it for sociology: my lecturer was very eccentric and said it was relevant to the study of the face in sociology)

III. ‘Star wars: Revenge of the Sith’

What is the Faustian pact? It is the age old ‘deal with the devil’. A person wants something and sells their soul to the devil (mephistoles), (entailed as) that which defines who they are, that which is most important to them, for that object. In the process of making a deal with the devil, the agent becomes horribly deformed beyond recognition in their pursuit.

The faustian pact interests me, not because it is ‘true’, but it is such a predominant motif in literature. These norms invade our mind as we are taught stories from birth, we take these norms for granted, we even appreciate them, but most of all, they are just memes.

One thought on “The Faustian pact

  1. Some scientific types will assert it was Thermodynamics that ruined it for us all, the concept of a finite nature of things.

    The Three Laws teach energy can’t be created nor destroyed, can never be 100% recouped, and systems tend towrds entropy. One can never “win,” “break eve,” nor “Get out of the game.”

    All life ends, and there is a cost associated with power.

    So Superman needed a kryptonite, Spiderman’s Uncle Ben and Batman’s parents had to die, Holmes required a Moriarity.

    I like to think there is a cultural “truth” to some comfort folk traditions (e. g., Juraj Jánošík for the Slovakians,官熙洪 Hung Hei-Kwun for Chinese) that great strength arises from adversity.

    Why should there not also be a terrible cost for the something-for-nothing pact with the Devil?

    Wouldn’t that explain why so many of us are absolutely convinced that there is a Force, that the 0.033% – 0.05% of carbon dioxide in air will lead to Global Warming, that icebergs 90% already underwater and 10% less dense than liquid water will melt and flood us into extinction?

    Never mind the millions of years when Earth was a molten ball of iron, nor that the Center of the Earth is Still Very Hot from that time. We’re fond of our icecaps, we want to keep them.

    The instinctive need to justify ourselves and to undescore our importance in the universe may be a reflection of medieval beliefs that ther must be a piper to pay for things some of us can’t be bothered to understand

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