When Pride (Proclivity for Self-aggrandizement) Became Separated In the Human Unconscious From Wrath (Belligerency and Proneness to Rage) – To be touched by Lucifer (The Sin of Pride In Totalitarian and Democratic Societies)

In early mythologies Lucifer, Satan and Devil were three different names for the same angel. “Lucifer” was name of this angel when he lived in heaven. “Satan” and “Devil” are the names for this angel after its fall, when he became “evil“. Then Lucifer became the personification of the sin of pride, while Satan – personification of the sin of wrath.

Jacob Epstein, “Lucifer”, 1944-45
Jacob Epstein, “Lucifer”, 1944-45

When today we unexpectedly find ourselves almost completely submerged into the swamp of cultural illiteracy (and militant arrogance corresponding to it) we feel that the tradition of philosophers, scholars, scientists and artists (in comparison with that of the monarchs, generals, policemen and jingoists) could be much more potent in US if the worshippers of power and wealth couldn’t so successfully appropriate the sin of pride (Lucifer’s touch) for their own self-aggrandizement blended with Satan’s belligerency (if they couldn’t perceive Lucifer in the ancient mode of being inseparable from Satan). Something is really conservative in the very inability to separate pride from the wrath, and the reason for this “conservatism” in feeling/perceiving Lucifer as a side of Satan is that for those with the psychology of seekers after power and wealth Lucifer (megalomaniacal part) and Satan (belligerent part) of human psyche are, indeed, inseparable. That’s what today’s conservatives are all about. Megalomania with (and without) belligerency are entirely different psychological phenomena and will produce different behaviors. Without the proclivity for becoming irritated and resentful with other people, the self-pride is already not, strictly speaking, megalomania. Without belligerency and intolerance “pride” becomes just a spiritual individualism – one’s non-conformist position in life, the tendency to critically examine authoritarian commands or suggestions and take responsibility for refusing them. Pride without wrath is, psychologically, not already a pride. It is just the democratic ability to filter the influences when we base our positions on intellectual workings and factual basis. Lucifer touch, when it doesn’t include Satan’s aggression, is simply the penchant to think independently.

The peculiarity of Lucifer in the fallen pantheon of rebellious archangels is confused in the history of cultures. Anyway, Lucifer’s deeds took place much before the creation of man. What is left for us is that Lucifer later in history came to personify Pride aspect of human sinfulness while Satan with whom Lucifer was fused before – wrath/rage aspect. To differentiate pride from rage is psychologically very important for human development. Proclivity for “pride” without anger/rage has an important positive side, as soon as we don’t live in an authoritarian/totalitarian society where pride is always fused with anger and is really destructive.

The point here is that cultural tradition of philosophers, scholars, scientists and artists in human history is beneficial for human societies as soon as the results of their creativity are not appropriated by the people of power and greed. Creation of new ideas is impossible without the non-conformist streak. Lucifer’s touch can be benevolent and enrich society. If today we will not differentiate between being responsible non-conformists able to discover new ways of handling the old and new problems, and, on the other hand, belligerency, intolerance and desire to force our ways on others, we can lose the only way out of the old traps endangering the future of our specie.

Epstein’s “Lucifer” personifies pride purified from anger and for this reason from “pride“. It is pride transformed into a respect for creative innovation. It is in this particularity of Epstein’s interpretation of “Lucifer” that we see the magic of this sculpture. In Epstein’s “Lucifer” we see the one who is suffering about and even sensitively averted from the fallen reality of human life. Pride without anger is courage and a daring to have your own particular point of view on the world. It is the basis of a democratic society. Democracy tries to cultivate this individualism without the need to impose one’s personality on other people, without fearing and hating otherness of others, without aggression for those who resist “our ways” as model for everybody.

Jacob Epstein with his sculpture “Lucifer”
Jacob Epstein, “Lucifer” (frontal view)

Look at Lucifer’s hands, as if he doesn’t want to touch the reality of the world, not because it is “dirty” but because it is a “dirtily” authoritarian and violent.

Jacob Epstein, “Lucifer” ([part of] the head)
Jacob Epstein, “Lucifer” (part)

Look at the face of Epstein’s Lucifer. How suffering he is but without any irritation or anger or condemnation – it’s suffering completely internalized, without any scapegoating projection, completely contained, as suffering of Albert Einstein when he learned about anti-human consequences of the use of Atomic bombs in Japan, verifying the truth of his “equations” but not expected by him to happen. The face we see here is that of Archangel Lucifer, not the demon.

Jacob Epstein, “Lucifer”, 1944 – 1945 (part of the sculpture)
Jacob Epstein, “Lucifer”, 1944 – 1945 (part of the sculpture)

If not proper, benevolent “pride” we could still be in the Stone Ages licking the feet of our masters and rulers – the patriarchs of our primitive communities. It is this liberated “pride” which took us from there to the 21st century.

“But why is it important that Lucifer is depicted with his sexual organs visible?” Is it because of Lucifer’s pride of self-imposing or his “vice of exhibitionism”, or because he and sculptor are just human beings without shame of being just human? Lucifer is as human as the philosophers, scholars, scientists and artists are, and he is “proud” of it (without being megalomaniacal about it).

Epstein’s Lucifer is not externalizing his grief about human condition into rage and aggressiveness, he keeps it to himself – he is much more psychologically developed than he is in conservative perception identifying him with Satan – the demon of rage that is paradigmatic foundation of rivalry, clash, hate and wars. The pantomime of tormenting disgust for ordinary life of hate and fight for success that we observe in the hands of Epstein’s Lucifer are felt by every philosopher, scholar, scientist and artist who are trying to open new horizons for human life, exactly because they cannot accept the barbaric reality of human life as it is.

Jacob Epstein with his sculpture “Lucifer”