Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Devil in my Mind: Moriarty and Master Manipulators

I just finished watching the BBC Sherlock shows again and have been entertained with pondering such things as putting the various versions of Sherlock in a room together, Cumberbatch and Downey, or adding characters like Stargate Atlantis' Dr. McKay or Bones' Dr. Brennan into the mix. Also, how well would Sherlock and Spock relate or would the one drive the other nuts? There was, however, in the final episode, an interlude that struck a different chord.

I had already noticed a parallel between Moriarty and Sherlock, but realized a huge difference, at least in the BBC interpretation, in their egos. Sherlock may have a seemingly absurd level of confidence, but he doesn't care for public attention or opinion. His only concern is that he have a true challenge to his mental powers. He could easily have gone into some sort of science, but I suspect he found it as dry a long-term all-encompassing focus as I did... (Yes, I'm well aware he is a fictional character, but all characters are simply case studies of real humanity.) Instead, on some level, he recognized that the true puzzle is in people. While I am content to watch and interact and piece together details and patterns of people in general, he did that so quickly and automatically that there was no challenge or long-term interest. Kind of like how playing Sudoku over and over eventually trains your brain into the patterns so that it is no longer an actual exercise and therefore becomes a bit boring. Sherlock found his outlet and exercise 'on the side of the angels' by coming in at the end of a play, a crime, and using the scenery and props, the set dressing, costumes, lighting, and details the average person only vaguely notices to piece together the story of the the preceding acts.

Moriarty, on the other hand, is a far different mix of genius and ego. Where Sherlock really only needed the younger sibling/best friend stand-in of John Watson, Moriarty needed the challenge plus the whole world and Sherlock to see him as he saw himself - the best, smartest, supra-ordinary being in existence. He tested himself against Sherlock and found a fairly even match. (Thankfully he didn't try to pull a stupid Joker and claim in was Sherlock's fault he existed - the dumbest excuse for bad behavior I've ever heard!) Instead, his ego ruled out and he decided he was better than Sherlock and was going to 'prove' it to everyone.

And herein lies the issue of interest for this post. Moriarty runs a campaign that the viewer can follow and that Sherlock figures out, but he orchestrates it such that (he thinks) he's left Sherlock with no escape but to fall to his manipulations. The way he does this? By messing with truth, reality, doubt, distrust, jealousy, confusion, and human emotion in general. He uses a mass of truth to obscure a basic, but huge lie. He plants doubt in people who know they aren't as smart and uses the jealousy of others who don't want to have to admit they aren't as smart to build a web of confusion. He uses the sources that everyone chooses to accept as truth to spread these twistings and knows that most don't bother stopping and thinking things out for themselves. And in his own mind, it just proves to him that he really is so far above the 'ants', the 'common', 'ordinary' people he plays with. He knows that if he lines things up just so, people will conveniently choose to act as he wants them to and be too vacant to recognize it's even happening. He even plays it so that Sherlock himself is faced with wondering if Moriarty's lies are truth.

[I know I'm mixing tenses, but considering that the characters are archetypes and also that I'm a bit out of it, you'll just have to live with it.]

If you didn't follow my 'ants' reference, that is the term Loki uses in The Avengers. (Favorite movie, remember? Whole post about it!) Loki, Moriarty, Haman in One Night With the King (about Esther) who uses political machinations against the best, twists accepted protocol rules and intimated public perceptions and judgments to convince the king that a whole population, the Jews, should be exterminated... Where have we heard that story-line before??? A bit reversed, but it's the same thing Hitler did to convince a nation they had the moral right and superiority to do the same.

So why am I, a good Mormon girl, so attuned to the manipulations of the devil characters? If you know me, you know why. If you've paid attention, you could guess why. If you're new here, you'll hear the coming sentence for the first time with the rest of the readers. Once I realized there was something wrong at home, I came to think of my dad's voice as the voice of the devil. I began to recognize that the thought patterns, the manipulations, the constant mind-twisting were all the same tools, the same words the devil would/did use against me to undermine me and my confidence in self, my belief that I had a right to exist, and ultimately an effort to undercut my person-hood, my sanity even.

First I started realizing that the beliefs I had learned at home didn't mesh with what I learned at church. Then I traced back where those beliefs came to be (as a defenseless child) and recognized they were placed and regularly reinforced by the should-be-protector. It literally took years not to hear my dad's way of thinking and judging against everything I did after I cut contact with home, but I did it and as I've been digging out his 'retarded-ness' (as I like to call it), I have become highly aware of the patterns and application of the same in story villains and even normal-people interactions.

I would not want others to experience the trauma of having to fight against childhood programming just to learn to trust your own senses. I do not, have never had, the inclination to rail against God for the 'unfairness' of it. There are many trials, some from Him and some from 'retarded' humanity and why shouldn't I have to face that reality like everyone else does? I do think, however, that one very positive element of having survived and fairly overcome the father/family I was born to is that I am probably more aware than most people and this brings a level of defense against others who would try to manipulate.

So why I am writing on something of a darker subject than usual? My last conversation with my youngest sister before dad banned me from talking to her (just before I realized there was no point in further associations, and banned because of these points made in that conversation) the two points I was anxious to impress upon her mind were 1) that she should build a strong connection to God. That had, after all, been what had helped me through all of it. 2) That she has a right to decide what she thinks - she doesn't have to think something just because someone else tells her to. Her mind is her own and it doesn't make her wrong to think or feel differently. I was quite anxious to pass that one on since I had wished, for years, that someone had told me that same thing. Dad, on the other hand, was quite upset about it since it undermined his authority. It had been so useful against me, after all. She doesn't know it, due to how everything's played out, but I have prayed often for her. She was quite young when he married a woman after his own heart (NOT a compliment!) and she was raised with a very distorted version of the truth. I know she doesn't understand, and probably won't be able to for quite some time. I hope, sometime in the future, that will change and maybe then the sister relationship I've craved (consider how many of her age I've connected with on twitter - very much an unfulfilled older-sister issue evident) can actually come to be.

I would enjoin those same two points on you, my readers. Being connected to a pure and higher being gives a clearer gauge by which to measure and judge truth. It is a true protection. Also, while it sounds like the words of a skeptic, consider that not everything you hear or are told is being represented accurately. This could be malicious, or it could simply be skewed by someone's bias. Either way, learn to consider what you don't know. This does not need to lead to self-doubt, but rather, as Sherlock says - jumping to conclusions without sufficient data obscures the truth (paraphrasing). Sometimes just recognizing that things are probably not all they appear to be allows you to take in more information objectively and make a wiser decision.

The funny thing is, Moriarty's final digs at Sherlock were completely bogus. He taunted Sherlock to prove he wasn't 'ordinary', that he wasn't 'boring'. Like those who have chosen the darker path, he wanted the evidence that it didn't make him less than the good guy by bringing the good guy to the dark as well. Only he had already convinced himself he was better in his own denial and so, taunting from hell, as it were, he claimed that Sherlock was only 'as good as him' if he joined him. So do those like Moriarty. They claim they are above by pulling strings, when truly they stand below. We don't have to give them that power. They may pull strings and make life as miserable as they can manage in their efforts to control, but what we choose to think, what we choose to do, is our choice, not theirs. Please, don't ever forget that.

1 comment:

  1. "1) that she should build a strong connection to God. That had, after all, been what had helped me through all of it. 2) That she has a right to decide what she thinks - she doesn't have to think something just because someone else tells her to. Her mind is her own and it doesn't make her wrong to think or feel differently."

    This truly is excellent advice for everyone. That is actually something I have come to understand recently as well. I wish I could understand more of your references. Clearly I have Netflixing to do. Haha