I think I have a post somewhere where I referred to the Satanic rituals in this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad book as "bad performance art."
Well, welcome to the most bad-performance-artsy chapter yet.
We start with Satan delivering a long, rhyming speech about "his intentions and his wishes for the next twenty-eight years" while whittling away at a wooden crucifix. Which means that this chapter is going to be much heavier on the bad poetry than usual. Shit.
Oh, and there's also a footnote explaining that the Satanic counting system is "inclusive," which somehow means that what would be 27 years for us is 28 years for them. Sounds like an attempt to plug up mathematical holes in their precious "the Satanic calendar is perfectly attuned to the Christian calendar!" theory to me. Also that Michelle's remembering was probably triggered by "Satan's return to earth in 1977." There's something I find hilarious in the way the book just casually mentions this and takes it for granted that it actually happened. I wonder what the Lord of Lies made of disco and bellbottoms?
Anyway, on to the crap poetry:
I write a Master Plan
Of the destiny of man. . . .
Aaaannnd already I wish he'd shut up. Just stop, Satan. Nobody likes pretension.
Satan then picked up a large, wooden crucifix. During the course of the ceremony, he would whittle away at the carved statue of the crucified Christ until there was nothing left. Symbolically of the way he works in the world--undercutting--he would start his whittling at the foot of the cross and proceed upward.
So what exactly are the Satanist masses doing while Satan does this? Just standing there watching him? Whittling away at even a small scrap of wood until it's entirely reduced to chips takes a non-zero amount of time. Whittling away a "large" wooden crucifix (and some large crucifixes can be very, very large indeed) probably takes forever. And there's already been hours, maybe days, of ritual before we even got to this point. I hope Satan at least lets his followers sit down once in a while. Seriously, when do we ever see them doing the normal non-Satanic-ritual activities they'd need to function, like breaking for lunch or going to the bathroom? We don't, because they're all just walking, talking stage props.
First, cut away the feet;
Make a man feel incomplete.
Lose his footing, lose his ground;
Lose the way to walk around.
Pretty soon you have no knees;
Then you can't bend, can't say please.
I give up. Satan's not even trying with these rhymes anymore.
We get three more pages of this. Three pages of the worst rhymes imaginable, describing childish "symbolism" that a kindergartner would be embarrassed to come up with. The most interesting thing I can point out about it is that the part where the hands and arms are whittled away comes well before the part where the head is whittled away--which makes sense in theory, but must have been a little clumsy in practice since crucifixes usually show Jesus with his arms stretched out against the crossbeam and his head hung low in sorrow, putting arms and head at roughly the same level. Some particularly melodramatic examples have Jesus hanging his head so low that the arms are noticeably above the head.
So if Satan follows the exact path the song takes (feet > knees > hands? WTF? That's an awfully big jump. > loins > stomach > arms > heart > head) then he can't whittle continuously. He'll have to change positions several times, probably losing his rhythm each time he does.
He'll also have to either stretch out each verse to accommodate the amount of time it takes him to whittle away the body part it correlates to, or have uncomfortable silences between verses.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Why does anybody worship this fool again? He makes them stand and literally watch him chip wood for three hours while he drones his inane ideas at them, and he doesn't even provide lunch. At least boring Christian churches usually treat you to coffee and doughnuts after the service.
On and on went Satan, reeling off his seemingly absurd, twisted, malign rhymes. Syllable by syllable he droned them out, until Michelle thought her brain would explode and her heart would stop.
And...that's it. That's the end of the chapter. Five pages of Satan giving a weird pretentious rhyming sermon with a bizarre, impractical visual aid, a few mentions of Michelle being scared and sad and helpless, and the chapter ends.
Say, did this chapter leave you feeling like something was...missing?
Like there was something important that went un-addressed?
Something like, oh, maybe a shining legion of angels?
Remember the end of last chapter, when the heavenly forces showed up to save Michelle from the powers of darkness? I sure do; the text made a big fucking deal of what an epic, cosmically significant moment this was. Satan made a big deal of it too; remember how he went into challenge mode and shook his fist in anger at the intruders, and it all seemed like a setup for some sort of big exciting action scene?
Welp, that big exciting action scene didn't happen. Michelle didn't get saved. Satan jumped straight from angrily bellowing a challenge at the heavens to dry, boring sermonizing without any hint that he's aware of the intruders in the room. If the forces of light are still present, they're being awfully quiet; Michelle never notices or mentions them either.
So what gives?
Was this chapter supposed to come earlier in the book, and somebody at the publishers messed up and put it here instead? Were Michelle and Dr. Pazder just so damn proud of Satan's "clever" rhymes (God, that's the saddest thought I've had all day) that they just had to include this exchange in the book somehow, and failed to notice that they'd stuck it in a really awkward place?
Or maybe this iteration of Satan is just so close to an elementary school student on the developmental scale that having these uninvited angels crash his party has pushed him into "I'm not talking to you! Lalalalala I caaaan't heeeaar yooou!" mode? And now he's determined to continue the ritual as if they weren't there and look like he's having a grand old time with his followers, so those stupid party-crashing angels know exactly how hard he's snubbing them? Even if it requires, you know, discussing his battle plans in detail right in front of the arrayed forces of his enemy?
*sigh* To protect my faith in people's basic competence and ability to be recognize and be ashamed of bad poetry, I'm picking option C. Michelle Remembers Satan, you are hands-down the worst Satan ever.
Well, two can play your little game.