Carl Jung came up with a concept of the “Shadow Self.” In Freudian psychoanalysis, it’s the same as the id, or the animal self. It comprises all of our violent tendencies, all of our animal like nature, all of our evil. In Biblical imagery, they call it the “Flesh”, or our “Sin”.
There was a verse in Micah 7, toward the end, about our sin being removed from us. That was the whole of the inspiration behind the poem, was our sin’s removal from our body. And in Ezekiel, when declaring Jerusalem’s sin, and in Jeremiah, it has a laundry list of crazy sins.
I have no recollection of committing any kind of sin other than what I have written in Young Shadows. The last poem is the full account of the entirety of my memory about my sins. But, the thought remains strong in me of the sin nature, every thought I’d ever had, every lust, every lewd dream that somewhere in me is that… and that is what became Maddok. The fact that somewhere, this creature called “Maddok” or “Death” is in us. Just having a thought makes our minds capable of doing something awful, every secret thought, every secret desire. Which, leads me to the mystery of perhaps—not a doppelganger, but like Brittos’ Giant Soul—our bodies are capable of such great evil without our will. And that God needs to shave—or circumcise—that sin off of us somehow. Maybe that’s what baptism is, or maybe it’s something else entirely; maybe that subconscious evil in us called the “Shadow” makes us capable of awful things that needs to be physically removed by God Himself.
So, that’s the inspiration behind Maddok. The kind of musing of the “Flesh Self” that needs to be removed from the Christian—or really everyone—in order for salvation to truly occur. And of course I’m Brittos, meditating on this while writing the poem—though not literally Brittos because he represents every Christian, not just me, needing to understand that God saved us by grace.
So, before anyone calls me a “Gnostic” I believe wholeheartedly that this Flesh needs to be removed from the Christian in order for true salvation to occur. That Maddok, who is literal in the poem, is actually metaphorically in every human being, such as the survival instinct. Such as walking to your car with the key stuck between your fist, because you’re ready to hurt anyone who tries to mug you. Or even a canister of pepper spray. Or, perhaps owning a weapon and imagining having to use it. Or, the countless hours of pornography and violent movies we tend to watch. As if all of this culminating in the human being leaves these latent Shadow Selves in us, and it needs to be removed by God in order for us to truly attain the riches of salvation.
That is the inspiration behind the poem, and of course Maddok is a personification of the ultimate sinner because he is literally Death embodied. He is so unwise, that he forgets that he’s the very thing that he’s about to get sucked down into because he’s so deluded to think that he’s actually accomplishing the will and work of God. There are some subtle satires on Christian Theocracies in the poem, too, such as their desire to Crusade in order to bring about punishment on kingdoms, or criminal justice, or in all regard Vengeance, which seems to be the primary pathway to our violence, is the meditation on vengeance and self defense. Which, we can all say we’ve mused, which if anything were Maddok, it’s that. All of the people we had imagined killing, we had killed in video games, we had imagined fornicating with;— Maddok is all of that because he is our subconscious, the shadow that haunts us, the sum of what we’re capable of and the evil we all have present in us, latent somewhere in the survival instinct. As a Christian, we need to have that circumcised from us completely, in order to attain the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven. And nobody perfectly attains it on earth, but the metaphor was a very strong one I mused on for the better part of a year.