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Introduction

Malice Through the Looking Glass: Reflections and Refractions of Envy, Greed and Jealousy

The ‘looking-glass’ is a very special mirror which can reflect and refract the deepest recesses of the mind, the utmost corners of the self. It is an instrument which can dazzle and dismay, something to stand apart from as well as step into. This ‘glass’ provides an opportunity to ‘look’ and discover basic truths about our inner nature and outer constructions. At propitious moments the resultant images pass beyond a wonderland of fear or self-satisfaction. They reveal the truth about the way we are as well as the way of the world.

This book is a looking-glass which allows the reader to explore the darkest components of character and culture, ‘the shadow side of the self.’ These elements tend to remain within the shadows of perception because they are chaotic, violent, dangerous and highly disturbing. Yet, a knowledge of their presence and of their intricate relations with the acceptable faces of reality, remains an absolute necessity for overcoming the damage that individuals and institutions do to each other. It is the sine qua non for liberating the world from the grip of what collectively may be termed, ‘malice.’

Malicious hatred is all pervasive, yet it is curiously unfashionable. It is a subject relegated to fiction, while generally ignored by the social sciences. The many manifestations of this kind of hate tend to be ascribed to problems of environment or heredity. The ‘yob’ who stabs the old lady down the block, or the man who kills his child, ‘must’ have bad genes. Or maybe their biochemistry has gone haywire. Similarly, acts of outrageous criminality tend to be justified when done in the name of economic inequality, political oppression, or bad weather.

Man himself is the source of the malice against which he is constantly struggling. And it is only possible for him to transcend this basic malignity by knowing how, what, why and when it arises. The alternative is to continue the blind butchery of our environment and fellow creatures which otherwise permeates our lives.

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Malice Through the Looking Glass
  © Dr Joseph Berke 2015