The Innocents by Eskil Vogt


The Chinese Three Character Classic was unsound to the core; moral conscience is not inherent. Children are innocent not in that they have no malevolence, but in that they have very little if no concept of right and wrong, which is achievable only through the experience of losing their cherished people. Bearing that in mind, we can now explain the animal cruelty scene in Kim Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring.

Slavoj Žižek in his book The Sublime Object of Ideology cited an experiment in which the kids, after a few months learning at nursery schools, changed the way they draw things; the colorful and wild strokes now turn into the ordered and grey ones. He thinks this ‘taming’ act is a sign of progress, though, and he – as a Hegelian – believes in ‘progress’. As I remember, he also said in an interview that he prefers to live in a society where people don’t try to be who they are – for there’s no such thing as ‘true self’; Lacan believes that inside we are just a formless continuous stream of consciousness made up of speeding thoughts, desires and images; rather, people should sacrifice their self-expression needs to some extent to enable a stable and polite social life.

And I suddenly recall a video called ‘Plot Holes in Reality’ that tells the story of a man, in his existential angst, trying to escape the reality just to realize that the imperfect mediocre world he left behind is much more comfortable and safer than the void he has just entered. Yes, every once in a while, I just wanna destroy everything and start over, as suggested by my nihilistic tendencies, but then again, perhaps there’s a reason why these moral standards and social institutions matter.

Perhaps as we grow older, we all tend to be more of a conservative. That also explains why Emil Cioran later in life, albeit still faithful to his 20s’ radical philosophical thoughts in On the heights of despair, considered himself a moralist, and why Balzac believed our youth’s fancy will soon end up as illusions.

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