Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Matthew 7:1-3
Faust.Com is a compilation of things Faustian. We try to emphasize public domain resources so you can continue your research on the web. Some of those materials we have made available here in one place for the convenience of readers.
Faust began as a Wikipedia scrape of topics relevant to the subject of Faust. That was an exercise in discovering what was appropriate to consider. Having done the scrape, the idea has been to replace those pages with new material.
This has been happening, but rather slowly. We approach each new subject area with the idea that replacing the Wikipedia will be fast and easy, but it never is!
Things in here may not be accurate or reflect an objective view: you shouldn’t consider this site to be a proper reference. You should only use it as a starting point for any serious research. You should also be aware that the content of this site can change at any moment, and what you find here today, may not be here tomorrow.
Where articles have been taken or modified from public sources we have indicated the reference, and provided a link for you to access the original article. An example follows:
Articles may be edited for length or relevance.
For more information about the use of Wikipedia material, read the Wikipedia article “Wikipedia:Copyrights.”
What’s with the spelling?
This site is written in Ambivalent Canadian English (ACE), and provides a bridge between Standard American Vernacular (SAV) and Incomprehensible British (IB), enabling all of the English language group to understand and interact with one another on a daily basis.
Spellings are derived from SAV and IB as needed for effect.
Words like “anaemia” may be preferred over “anemia” if they seem to fit better or give a more appropriate impression, like making us look smarter, or conversely we’ll avoid a usage like “learnt” over “learned” because it makes us sound dumber than if we used “learned,” which, on reflection, also makes us sound dumb.
Sometimes we’ll choose a spelling like “penalize” with a “z” because it sounds scarier than “penalise,” and sometimes we’ll use a spelling like “neighbour” because it seems friendlier.
We have studied science and we have studied religion and still we don’t have answers to our questions and the world is no better off. Now we are old. What time do we have left? Twenty-four years?
The demons may already have long been here. It takes a while to realize it. You get to know their tricks. Let John Dee be your example. He wasted decades chasing demons dressed as angels. They tempt and distract and divert.
They murdered Marlowe and soiled his name for four centuries. His body has still not been found.1 True of Dee too, and Cagliostro, though his body was found then lost again.
Trying to find God’s secrets is dangerous work. The demons come to tempt you and waylay you. God is displeased of course, and even your own people are angry with you. It is the fate of those who offend God and then their neighbours to have unmarked graves….
Demons are relatively easy to deal with. You ignore them and get back to your work, or if they’re really annoying, you make fun of them. Demons don’t like to be mocked. You can also get mad at them—really mad. Demons are bullies.
Same with God—though good luck with that. Breaking with God gets you eternal hellfire if you’re wrong, and getting saved at the last minute because your intentions were good is a faint and desperate humanistic rationalization, that doesn’t preclude sincere confession and atonement.
Getting away with stuff because you had good intentions started to be a popular idea around the time of Faust (Humanism), and a reaction to that may have prompted the tale since it says the demons will come for you because you are arrogant and a puny human who can’t possibly handle the power of God’s secrets, and shouldn’t be interfering anyway. We may have been created in God’s image, but since the Fall (getting booted out of the Garden of Eden for disobeying God and getting too powerful), and Saint Augustine’s arguments on the matter in the 4th century, we are taught we need supervision and direction (from our human superiors).
Knowledge is the destroyer of superstition and unfortunately that can include faith too, poorly placed, because faith is a powerful thing. Finding God’s forbidden, hidden knowledge is apt to be a terrible thing, but sacrifices are made for progress. The point is, you can end up a lot worse off than when you started.
Everyone — and every generation — has its own ideas about how to get God’s forbidden secrets. Dealing with the devil is only one. See how Faust stories change over time. The original and Marlowe’s early Fausts end with damnation. Goethe rationalizes saving him, and today we can make a case for his heroism.
Faust, we can argue, in the realization of an absent God, takes it upon himself to relieve the suffering of others, even though it brings him eternal damnation. How heroic can one be? Eternal sacrifice; an eternal transcendence and a sacred act. There are parallels to Jesus in Faust. With eternal suffering, Faust exceeds Jesus in sacrifice.
Since the time of Faust, rational and materialistic thinking (as opposed to a prior focus on God, salvation, and the afterlife) has been wildly successful. That is the foundation of science and technology, and it requires eliminating God from your calculations. Knowledge subsumes faith. Faust heroically steps away from God, as do we in our search for worldly utopia through progress — progress away from God, it seems.
We are a product of changes built upon changes. When we understand how history has passed, we can understand what has shaped us, and who we are. How, but not why.
Soon we get past our new relationship with God, and we begin to suspect there’s less to ourselves than we thought, too. We are the product of our cultural past and experiences, and little else it seems. Determinism vs free will falters in a shifting dreamscape of infinite probabilities and unreliable perception.
We wonder if we are entirely the sum of the puppeteer past, reaching its bony fingers into our skin, wriggling our limbs and speaking its words through our mouths.
When the author started studying the Faust legend, we knew no family history past a grandfather, but then we were drawn to Marlowe and 16th century England, where we began to find ancestors woven subtly into the background. Scientists, adulterers, schemers, witches and traitors and heroes. The past kept sticking in its head. We were becoming part of the book.
We deduced our religious past from our own attitudes, matching them against doctrines of various faiths, and verified them against records, seeing ourselves in Calvin and Luther, matching ancestors to localities. We share the attitudes of our grandmothers, with typical modern accommodations.
We suspect the past is speaking to us, manoeuvring us, directing us. We find ourselves throughout Faust’s timeline. We learned that what distinguishes us is simply that which is around us, other people’s pasts converging. We are a product of the past and not much else. We are just a speck in a current, maybe the current itself.
We just need twenty-four years or so. That’s all Faust asked for. Maybe we need more. We are no Faust, and the answers have seemed within reach before.
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- Apparently it’s in a plague pit in Deptford. [↩]