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I'm FK from Germany. I create a lot of stuff like characters, creatures, logos, fonts, designs and insanity.


I usually don't thank for faves or watches and I don't watch back only because someone watches me. Please don't thank me for whatever I may or may not do.

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4 Unmasked Demons

"Mother fear, daughter phantom!"1 — Manfred Hinrich

This is the last chapter of the first essay. We will draw a final conclusion and ask ourselves some questions about the face of the good and evil and will look at some similarities and differences between the two that we noticed so far.

. To conclude this first essay we will compare the face of the good and the face of the evil for a last time. We noticed that the universal patterns Jung detected while analyzing the dreams of his patients are indeed still present in the depiction of modern heroes and the modern villains. These universal patterns, or symbols, found specific ways of expressing themselves — as faces or masks. We still encounter Aristotle's classic male, fair skinned, robust and beautiful hero who fights for justice and truth while being hit by tragedy, in modern media. The hero is a meme that is depicted in certain ways — from his robust appearance to his eager gaze. In comparison, the meme of the evil, the villain, the monster, remains as an ominous and obscure shadow that is only hinted at, but not shown, or as some kind of devilish mask that scares us because of the attributes it uses — like claws, horns etc. The face of the hero seems to be relatively specific while the face of the evil can wear different masks without showing its true qualities. The masks of the evil do not seem to become a true face. Their attributes lose their effect if looked at isolated (remember the beard, turban, bald heads and jump boots which only evoke the associations of something seemingly dangerous if they are combined).

. But is the face of the hero not equally a mere mask if it always uses similar attributes (like the shape of the face, the hair style etc.)? It seems to be the case that formulaic hero faces like the ones we often see in American comics around the 1960th are nothing more than masks behind which the true face of the hero is hidden. These heroic masks appear to be in consonance with villainous masks like the one Dürer's devil wears — masks that show us the "costume" of the hero/villain by using specific attributes that create the impression of something good/evil when they are combined. The main difference seems to be hidden in what lies behind these masks. The hero and the villain are stronger than the masks they wear, but in different ways. The hero does not work if he is decorated with seemingly "good" attributes alone. He needs to take actions that show his heroic qualities. A gaze, a motivation, a reaction — whatever shows us that a character has human traits — allows us to identify ourselves with him and to share his struggle — and with this to see him as the hero of his story. Every mook and every gnome can turn into a hero if he offers us a way of identifying ourselves with him; and in this case traits that appeared "unpleasant" or "outside the norm" might even become the distinctive features that let him stand out from the masses of template heroes. His imperfections might make him even more likeable and show that the hero does not need a mask to be recognizable.
Unfortunately, the villain often does not have this bonus. We do not necessarily expect evil deeds from the monster. We do not expect evil motivations and evil explanations. To the contrary, the evil often seems all the more disturbing the less we know about its motivations. The monster can present itself to us standing in a corner and we will judge its costume as something dangerous and evil. The photograph of a devilish mask can scare us without the need to do anything. With this it seems that the idea of the evil does not move on its own. It does not need to. We provide it with motion by reacting to it, by turning away from it, by running. The monster in half-light at the end of the corridor does not need to run towards us. It can stand there and look at us and we would still feel the urge to run away from it. It makes us do something while not doing anything itself. If the hero was standing there doing nothing we would not think positively about him for just looking heroic. We would expect him to help us or at least to do something to show us that he is the hero. The monster is less fortunate. It is judged more harshly.

. Is the evil forced to be static and the monster obliged to not move, because any change and any movement might give us just enough information about it that we might start to understand it, and with this eventually lose our fear of it? Can it be that the evil does not even have emotions of its own but uses the emotions we project onto it? Like our fear? We might fear the night, but do we really fear the "face of the night"? Do we fear the absence of light? Do we fear the "masks of the night"? A black animal prowling the nightly forest? Or do we actually fear a feeling the night will create? Do we fear the prospect of being alone, without orientation, quietness and coldness? Is this fear the true way in which the evil expresses itself? The fear created by us, lending the evil the power to move? The power to manifest itself in our heads and even in reality as some kind of proxy-monstrosity? does not move on its own through the internet. The image has no spooky powers that make it pop up anywhere. It needs people to be moved and spread. Behind every forum and every archive the image haunts there are people who collect it, write stories about it and share it. And the image needs to be moved by people to not get lost in the depths of the internet. To not be forgotten. It is the idea of a devilish power that appears in the corner of our eye, that hunts us, that waits for us in the dark and that smirks at us which has gotten a poignant visualization in the image of as an example of how something scary and imagined can enter the real world. But it still needs us to be effective at what it does. Whatever evil power and whatever ominous feeling it might confront us with, it is always something we lend to it. We give it its vitality and make it move all on its own. As if it was alive and more than just an image. Like the haunted video in Ringu — it would have no power of its own if nobody watched it.

. With this the first essay is completed. Our observations will be the basis for further articles to come. In the next essay we will take a look at the aesthetics of the ugly and ask what importance the gruesome and the ugly have and how they interact with the idea of the beauty. For centuries the beauty was considered to be the highest ideal in art and ugliness was just put aside as the absence of anything beautiful. Ugliness was reserved for all the bad and everything without ideals. But the ugly changed. It became more powerful and eventually turned into a moment of art that might even be more important than the beauty.

The next chapter will be
The Shadow of the Beauty – Part 1: The Tyranny of the Beauty


1 — Original: "Mutter Angst, Tochter Gespenst!"

Last updated: November 2015

3 The Face of the Evil

— PART 4 —

"If timid thoughts turn into sensations of fear, I have created a monster which did not exist before."1 — Harald Gebert

In this last part of the chapter "The Face of the Evil" we will take a look at how creatures without a face work and how the avoidance of a face can create a portrait of the evil too.

. In the previous part we wandered around some memes and asked the question if the Evil and the Devil could be memes themselves. I want to continue to walk this path and look at some other popular memes first.
Slenderman could be seen as a modern reincarnation of the traditional Boogeyman — a creature of folklore that is said to abduct children that stay up too late at night or that dare to enter remote or dangerous places. Like the traditional boogeyman Slenderman lurks in dark corners and nightly woods. He appears to be human but has no face and moves without making any sounds. He can easily be interpreted as a symbol for the unknown and the anonymous that is hidden in the dark depths of the internet. A person who hides his face; without character and without a real name; in analogy to the unknown people that stalk the internet anonymously. Other versions of Slenderman could be seen in The Rake or The Strider. They too are basically faceless creatures that hide themselves in the unknown.2
And this brings us to the last part of this chapter. All the previous parts dealt with the question how the face of the evil is depicted. This part revolves around the question how faces can be stolen, hidden or distorted. In Slenderman we can see a figure that again does not only get its spooky potential from the stories that surround it, but also from its appearance. Slenderman has no face and with this has no ways of expressing emotions through it. Albert Kümmel notes that the Devil too actually has no face, only ways of expressing himself through distortions and grimaces.3 Creatures that have no face appear ambivalent, androgynous and anonymous. We mainly use the face of a person to read his feelings, thoughts and intentions. If a face is missing we are left wondering, uncertain and lost. But a person has still ways of expressing himself; for example through actions and poses. A figure without a face that runs towards us is completely ambiguous, because we are not able to say why it is running towards us and what it will do to us if it reaches us. Is it happy to see us? Does it want to hug us? Does it want to run into us? Does it want to kill us? Does it simply want to run past us to escape something else? We have no idea, because we cannot read the intention of this creature. The only thing we can do is to assume the worst and run away from it before we find out what it wants the hard way (we will talk more about this effect in another essay).

I: Slenderman, the modern Boogeyman of the internet.

. With this the circle is closed; from the face of the evil over a lack thereof back to the unknowability and inconceivability of the evil. Authors like H. P. Lovecraft knew about the potential of the truly evil; the avoidance of clarity and a specific face. Instead the evil is only hinted at, it is paraphrased and only its actions are shown, not its face.
"Bear in mind closely that I did not see any actual visual horror at the end",4 Lovecraft writes at the beginning of one of his scary stories. He foreshadows that the reader will not see the actual evil, but he will experience its frightening deeds. Lovecraft takes away the mask of the evil, but not to show the face behind it. He takes away the mask to let the evil be without a visual representation. This allows the scary and evil to return to its primal state of something unexplained and unknown. The idea of not creating a specific image for the evil was used by many authors and artists besides him. You can see the theft of a specific face for the evil in Hansruedi Giger's Alien (1979), in John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) and in the modern Necromorphs in the video game Dead Space (2008). All these creatures do not have a concrete face, but a bubbling distortion of the fragments of something that once was a face. The evil resonates with these contorted and seething face fragments and stays unknown and alien despite of being provided with a body. A single image is replaced by a puzzle, ambivalence, suggestions, symbols and associations that hint at the evil without showing it plainly in the end. It becomes visual absurdity. Something without logic. Something abstract. And with this something frightening.
The Thing is an absurd hybrid of various monstrosities and at the same time is nothing in particular. It can change its shape, can imitate people, can live inside our bodies and can kill us in insidious ways. Cut off from the civilized world and trapped in the isolation of Antarctica this "thing" can become anything and anyone. It takes on the faces of other people; disguises itself. These ever changing and unspecific traits are what makes the creature so effective. It is no human, no animal, no alien, it has not even a real name. What is it? Just a "thing" that cannot be compared to anything we know.
In the first movie adaptation from 1951 the Thing was depicted as some kind of Frankenstein monster. John Carpenter however decided to not give his interpretation of the Thing a specific body. For him the general story was scary, but whenever the actor in a Frankenstein suit entered a scene the frightening aspect was lost. The watchers simply expected so much from an indefinable thing from another world that a costumed actor was not scary enough to meet these expectations. To prevent this Carpenter decided to reinvent the Thing as a fragmentary and shapeless mass of human and animal body parts that can change its shape at all time.5 Today the Thing is regarded as one of the icons of the body horror sub-genre which other creatures like the Necromorphs reference.

II: The evil can be visualized without having an actual face, but fragments of something facelike.

. We conclude this chapter by noticing that the real evil might not have a face after all. Maybe anonymity is what creates its terror in the first place. This unknown, faceless evil manifests itself in the imagination of each person. There it is not bound by anything and can change into the most terrible form a person is able to imagine. In reality there is no face that is as gruesome and as frightening as the face we are able to imagine in our heads. Maybe we are able to take a brief look at the monster in a movie, but the monster needs the chance to hide itself again in the unknown to keep its obscurity intact. To not fall apart when we are allowed to rationalize and understand it. With a mask and a face the evil is just a potential, an assumption with limitations, but the faceless idea of the evil can be anything and it can lurk anywhere to finally get us.

. In the next chapter we will draw a final conclusion and compare the face of the good and the face of the evil for a last time while taking into account what we noticed so far. It will be the end of this first essay.

The next chapter is
Unmasked Demons


1 — Original: "Wenn aus ängstlichen Gedanken auch noch Angstgefühle entstehen, dann habe ich wahrlich ein Monster erschaffen, welches es zuvor niemals gab."
2 — Slender Man:…, The Rake:…, The Strider:…
3 — Albert Kümmel does not agree with Luther Link that the mask of the devil is inflexible. Kümmel, Albert: Fratzen. in: Löffler, Petra / Scholz, Leander: Das Gesicht ist eine starke Organisation. Köln 2004, S. 74
4 — Lovecraft, Howard Phillips: Der Flüsterer im Dunkeln. Audiobook, Sprecher: David Nathan, Torsten Michaelis. 2010, Kapitel 1
5 — revokcom: Fear on Film.… ,…,…

I —…
II — Schofield, Glen: Dead Space. Visceral Games, 2008,…

Last updated: November 2015

3 The Face of the Evil

— PART 3 —

"Fear is terrible, but the worst is the fear of fear."1 — Rita Lickteig

This time we will look at modern depictions of the evil and the scary. Does the internet enable us to find the true "face of evil"? How do scary narratives work and how can they enhance the effect of something that is said to kill us if we look at it?

. Is it possible to portray the true evil without using a mask? Or will it always hide itself behind a mask that hints at something evil without letting us see the true qualities behind this mask? We noticed in the previous part that masks are tools used to show us something that is unknown or unexplained, but as soon as we get to know it and are able to explain it these masks fall apart; or they become silly (remember the example of Dr. Drakken).

. The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term "meme"2 by creating an analogy between the inheritance of genes and the inheritance of ideas and thoughts as "cultural genes". For him a meme (from the Latin memor = "to remember" and the English mime) is a single concept that can be multiplied by communication. Memes are not concrete compositions of thoughts but abstract ideas that can be influenced by the culture they appear in, and with this help the culture to develop.3 This means not a single painting would be a meme but the idea behind this painting. But the painting can influence and even change the meme. The evil itself could be considered a meme we encounter in all cultures. We see it in religious texts, myths and scary stories. It does not necessarily need a specific image to work. As a meme the abstract idea of the evil — or of the Devil — can be transferred and multiplied without a visual counterpart.
Many people know the "meme" only as an internet phenomenon: an idea or concept which arose out of an image, a text, a video or a sound; it resonates with people and they start to share it. The abstract idea of a meme is met with various possibilities of the media and is transformed into specific works. It is not perfectly know when the first memes arose, but they spread with the power and speed of an explosion. The authors of these memes are usually unknown. A meme is born when a person depicts an abstract idea (in an image, video, text, audio file etc.) and uploads it to the internet. If this idea is poignantly depicted and resonates with other people it will be shared all around the internet. The authors of these memes are usually unknown or get lost in the endless stream of re-uploads. The memes are downloaded, used, altered, extended and uploaded again; which creates even more and new versions of the meme. They can become even more poignant, get emphasized or change into other memes. And again they are shared and the process continues.

. Memes are not limited to certain places or times and can appear and move anywhere on the internet (and with this anywhere on the globe). This means they are potentially able to show a relatively precise depiction of a collective idea. If we compare a modern internet meme to the meme of Dürer's devil we will notice this difference: Dürer's devil was limited by the place where its creator lived, the people he met and the texts he read to get inspired. He was only able to read certain books, to look at certain images and to talk to certain people. His devil was also limited by the time Dürer lived in and heavily relied on the images and symbols of his surroundings and culture. He was able to visit libraries to read about other cultures and their images, but this knowledge was extremely limited if we compare it to the possibilities of the internet today with which a person can learn virtually anything what he wants to know about any culture in any time. Now the question: How does the evil look like in the global culture of today that theoretically knows no limitations? How does it look like as a meme that can only be multiplied if it resonates with enough people to get shared on the internet? If it meets the standards of a global consensus and resonates multi-culturally? Maybe we can find a partial answer in the modern legends that inhabit the internet — the creepypastas — basically equivalents to traditional urban legends and campfire stories. These stories gather their ideas and content from modern legends, allegedly real events and traditional spooky stories, and with this they create an aura of mystery. Although most of these stories are completely fictitious, they create an ominous net in which real events can no longer be strictly separated from imaginary events.4 The scary and evil intrudes the real world and can no longer be separated from it — the objective distance cannot be kept anymore. The global scary stories and memes are successful because they manage to fit a consensus of what is considered to be scary instead of only fitting the idea of a single person (for example Dürer's idea about the devil).

. Let us take a look at one example of these scary memes. One of the best known memes that supposedly show the truly scary and evil is It is strange that of all things a "smiling dog" is considered to be a face of the evil. But this is exactly the strength of memes like this: They combine everyday things with the unusual and alien. Like many other memes first appeared somewhere in the obscure parts of the 4chan forums and is said to show the portrait of the Evil itself. Rumors appeared that whoever takes a look at this image will be hit by random waves of fear that will prompt epileptic seizures and eventually will lead to the person dying.5 The image is linked to ominous stories, forum posts and letters about people who allegedly took a look at the image and later committed suicide; all caused by this terrible image and the inability of these people to get the face of evil out of their heads. This obscurity is then increased by the claim that the original image of cannot be found anymore on the internet and all images that are said to be are just fakes that do not possess the effects and powers of the true original.
What we see is a skillfully crafted narrative that attaches itself to our deepest fears to feed of them. We have a legend about an image that can kill us by just looking at it. Something that cannot be possible. We doubt that it is possible. But there are these stories of supposedly real people who did in fact die after looking at it. Does that mean our assumption that nobody can die by looking at an image could be wrong? "Might it really be possible after all?", we might ask ourselves. And then we have the piece of information that the original image is lost and whatever we see is just a fake. This means even if the image we find is truly scary, we are reminded that the original must be so much worse than whatever we might see. With this our doubts about the image are challenged a second time. When we see the image and do not die, the story tells us that this is only because the image we looked at was fake, and we might ask ourselves: "Is the real image really so much more terrible that all what is said about it might be true?" The narrative is crafted in such a way that it already knows our rationale and our doubts and it adds little details to get around them. To basically make us believe by adding obscurity and vagueness at important places that prevent us from staying absolutely rational.
The unknown is combined with the unexplained and the impossible. The image cannot be dangerous on its own, of course, but its narrative is designed in such a way that it uses objective assessment and subjective judgment to keep us trapped. To let us believe and doubt at the same time. To prevent us from seeing things clearly. What is possible and what might be possible are equated and with this even the impossible suddenly seems to become "somewhat possible".
Let us take a walk in the little gallery of scares. The following images show different incarnations of the meme. Some clearly show a connection and seem to be directly modeled after each other, while others seem to be self-contained interpretations of the meme. Is one of them the original? Will one of them kill you? Has the narrative disabled your ability to assess the images objectively?

Smiledog Smiledog Smiledog Smiledog
I - IV: The different incarnations of the meme show that different people visualized how the meme looks like for them.

. Such a narrative is typical for scary memes. They surround themselves with possibilities, half-truths and theories that cannot be true but that cannot be proved to be false either. A typical trap to conquer and disable rational thinking; related to paranoid reasoning and conspiracy stories.
But is it truly the narrative alone that makes scary? Or does the image really include something that is scary or even repulsive even if you do not know about the stories it is imbedded in? As for almost every meme there are dozens of versions of; proof for the busy hands of many people adapting the meme and designing their own impressions of it. Let us take a look at one of the images: The following image of shows the portrait of a doglike creature sitting in a darkened room and staring directly at us while grinning. Let us be perfectly neutral and unimpressed and let us list all the things that might result in a scary or repulsive effect: the very high contrast of lights and shadows, the striking red color, the general darkness in which the figure seems to "glow", the extreme focus on the figure, the applied human looking teeth on an otherwise doglike creature, the protruding eyes, the association with a slaughterhouse-look or some figure that was skinned, the association with an x-ray photo, the smile as a display of bare teeth and the perceived human resemblance of the figure. All these things are striking and can easily convince the watcher that they show something evil. It is not surprising that some people write that they are literally not able to look at the image and are urged to remove it whenever it appears somewhere.6

V: What effect does this image of have on you? And why?

. It seems that is a working incarnation and visualization of something evil and scary that does not fall apart when we look at it. The image is vague and obscure while being extremely direct in the way it uses colors, contrast and its elements. It offers various ways of interpreting it. It is like a visual riddle without solution. And it became famous precisely because it is effective at displaying something scary. People share it. Some do not want to look at it and move away as soon as it pops up. It randomly appears in videos, at the end of web pages or even in chats to trick and startle people. Although it is always people who use the image, it sometimes seems as if the image has a life of its own when it appears somewhere seemingly out of nowhere and forces people to look at it or to instantly remove it out of disgust. This spooky autonomy increases its ominous aura. is by far not the only thing that uses a narrative like this to scare people. The whole idea of people dying after looking at something is thematized in the book Ringu (1991) and the movie adaptations from 1998 and 2002. In this case it is a video that is said to kill whoever watches it. It too takes a completely ordinary object and adds something unknown and impossible to it to create obscurity and vagueness that can become scary. What we know about an ordinary object is changed in a way that it creates something unknown we are not able to assess rationally anymore. A video cannot do anything on its own. It cannot kill. And yet it does in the movie. Something impossible becomes possible. Something ordinary is changed into something alien. Even the solution to get rid of the "evil curse" is the same by and Ringu: Make a copy of the thing that will kill you and share it with others and you will be spared. People who believe that this is true, and people who simply find it funny, will help the image to spread even more. Seemingly with a life of its own.
The idea that you can die after looking at something is not a modern invention.7 In the traveling stories of John Mandeville there is a description of a valley in which a rock can be found that has the face of the Devil on it. Whoever looks at it will tremble in fear and the ground will be shaking, the stroy says.8
A common saying states "Do not paint the Devil on the wall or he will appear before you." As if the mere depiction of something will call this thing to life and will kill.9 You see that there is a barrier in place; used in stories and everyday life; to prevent people from visualizing the evil. This way it can stay hidden in the unknown to scare us with vagueness, and whenever we see a supposed "face of the evil" we will remember this barrier and might be scared of it just because we are told that the evil should never be depicted. Because its mere image brings misery. This way a lifeless object can seem to be alive after all. Because it has an effect on us and we do not realize that it is us who create this effect and not the object itself.

. In the next part of this chapter we will look at some more memes. We will also talk about how the face can be distorted to create something scary and seemingly evil and what effect this can have on the viewer.


1 — Original: "Angst ist schrecklich, aber am schlimmsten ist die Angst vor der Angst."
2 — Dawkins, Richard: Meme, die neuen Replikatoren. in: Das egoistische Gen. (Original: The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press, 1976), 2007, S. 316–334
3 — Mem:
4 — Playgrounds for these memes are or that work similar to Wikipedia. Users are able to download, edit and upload memes. The constant change, adaptation and extension of memes makes their specific origins and creators unknown. They almost become "digital ghosts".
5 — Smile Dog:…
6 —…,…,…,…
7 — The curse of the Evil Eye is said to cause harm and bad luck. In folklore people with sinister intent, the dead and even animals are said to possess the ability to use the Evil Eye to kill a person they look at. Böser Blick:ös…
8 — John Mandeville describes the face of the Devil in a valley near Milcorath. Buggisch, Christian: Illustrationen in Mendevilles Reiseberichten.…, 2010
9 — The legend of the church in Clausthal tells about a scornful pitman who paints the face of the Devil on a wall. The Devil later appears and abducts him. Bartens, Werner: Die Schwarzen Führer. Der Harz. Mysteriöses, Geheimnisvolles, Sagenhaftes. Freiburg 1997, S. 60

I —…
II — unknownwolf1996: Smile Dog.…
III —…
IV — moondragoness08: Smile Dog.…
V — nightmarestalestocurdleyourblo…

Last updated: October 2015


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