~post by Robyn and Steven
Horns by Joe Hill is a gripping revenge anthem that navigates the wicked corridors of the human spirit while artfully subverting conventional morality to deconstruct the faulty premise of good versus evil. Under the scrutiny of Joe Hill’s transcendent storytelling, the straw god that would punish humans for their humanity collapses, leaving a chaos of useless strictures and absurd proverbs to serve as a transformative pyre for his achingly bizarre characters.
To celebrate the release of the film adaptation of Horns, starring Daniel Radcliff and Juno Temple, two fearless booksellers, Robyn Evans and Steven Warren got into character and reveled in more than a little magical elixir while embarking on a besotted, interpretive reading of the book’s philosophical crux – “The Fire Sermon” (page 216-219) – before watching the movie.
In “The Fire Sermon”, Ig Perrish, our diabolical hero, has grown horns and a goatee, selected a pitchfork, and begun breathing smoke as he ascends his dark throne in an abandoned foundry so that he may minister to the gathered flock of serpents. What follows is an abridged transcript of his incendiary manifesto:
“It is a matter of faith that the soul must be guarded, lest it be ruined and consumed. Christ himself forewarned his apostles to beware him who would destroy their souls in Hell. I advise you now that such a fate is a mathematical impossibility. The soul may not be destroyed. The soul goes on forever. Like the number pi, it is without cessation or conclusion. Like pi it is a constant. Pi is an irrational number, incapable of being made into a fraction, impossible to divide from itself. So, too, the soul is an irrational, indivisible equation that perfectly expresses one thing: you. The soul would be no good to the devil if it could be destroyed. And it is not lost when placed in Satan’s care, as is so often said. He always knows exactly how to put his finger on it.
Satan has long been known as the Adversary, but God fears women even more than He fears the devil – and is right to. She, with her power to bring life into the world, was truly made in the image of the Creator, not man, and in all ways has proven Herself a more deserving object of man’s worship than Christ, that unshaven fanatic who lusted for the end of the world. God saves – but not now, and not here. His salvation is on layaway. Like all grifters, He asks you to pay now and take it on faith that you will receive later…
…I see God now as an unimaginative writer of popular fictions, someone who builds stories around sadistic and graceless plots, narratives that exist only to express His terror of a woman’s power to choose who and how to love, to redefine love as she sees fit, not as God thinks it ought to be. The author is unworthy of His own characters. The devil is first a literary critic, who delivers this untalented scribbler the public flaying He deserves…
…I do not claim that God is dead. I tell you He is alive and well but in no position to offer salvation, being damned Himself for His criminal indifference. He was lost the moment He demanded fealty and worship before He would offer His protection. The unmistakable bargain of a gangster. Whereas the devil is anything but indifferent. The devil is always there to help those who are ready to sin, which is another word for ‘live’…”
This heretical screed reminds us, if nothing else, of the power and vitality of the individual. With this in mind, indulge in Horns in all of its incarnations and delight in the earthly pleasures inherent in the human condition. We did, and it was awesome.
Horns by Joe Hill is now available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com!