The darkside of humanity is a side we are advised to stay away from.
Throughout history, humans have been the cause of some extremely dark and evil events, from serial killers to the Holocaust and so much in between. As with everything we are advised to stay away from, some people just can’t help but be attracted to the darkside of humanity.
Three authors who are adept at writing about the darker parts of humanity are Denise Leith, Tony Cavanaugh and Stephen Sewell. These authors immersed themselves in the darkness of their characters, but don’t want to leave you feeling that darkness, but wish to impart a sense of hope (Except Sewell.).
Denise Leith is the author of What Remains, wants to understand the dark parts of humanity, but not from a twisted mind. Leith wishes to understand what makes a person help out others in the face of evil. A story she mentioned was of the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda during the genocide. It seemed as if all Hutus were killing Tutsis, but some Hutus took a risk of their own lives to make space to hide Tutsis.
Leith’s interest in these horrible events comes from her teenage years, when she found herself with a strong hatred of injustice, making her an angry teenager. What Remains is a story about a female journalist, Kate Price, who doesn’t feel emotions unless it digs deep inside her. It follows her journey, as she confronts some of the most horrible parts of humanity, and her mental breakdown from the memories and horrors.
Tony Cavanaugh is a screenwriter and playwright, and has written his first novel, Promise. Promise is a story about the dance between cop and serial killer in the bright and sunny atmosphere of Noosa, Queensland. While writing the book, Tony Cavanaugh got into the mind of a serial in the character of Winston, who has a horrible distaste for humanity and wishes them dead. The story is juxtaposition between the sunny holiday setting of Noosa and the serial killings conceived and perpetrated by Winston. When writing this character, Cavanaugh found himself cleaning his house like a crazed man to help relieve himself of the darkness of Winston.
Both Leith and Cavanaugh write using such dark and disturbing topics, but want to leave the reader with a sense of hope, that even in the darkest times hope can shine through. Leith told a story of what happened after a disturbing event when a few people took a lot of the drug, ice and went on a killing rampage in a church.
But what Leith saw next was incredible. She returned some months later and found a grandmother caring and giving love to children. Even in the darkest moments of humanity, love shone through the brightest.
Stephen Sewell, however, doesn’t want to leave his readers with a sense of hope, but a sensation that they’re alive in their own skin, and he isn’t bothered if it’s a positive or a negative experience. It’s about feeling the experience, rather than feeling contemplative and upbeat.
Sewell’s first book Babylon is the story of youth and the struggle of living in a world of corruption and depravity. The landscape and characters reflect a broken down and intense world, where the social constructs in our society have been taken away, as well as the destruction of the environment. The book shows a link between the destruction of the environment and the decay of the human mind and society.
A critical moment in Sewell’s teenage years saw his perception become diverted by an attraction to the darkness of humanity. Sewell hopes to understand what makes humanity cause atrocities such as the Holocaust during World War II. It is his spiritual journey to attempt to understand the violence and insanity that humans are such a large part of. One quote that stays in his mind is ‘There has been no poetry since Auschwitz’. This shows the difference between the beauty of poetry and horrors of war.
Unlike Leith and Cavanaugh, Sewell wants to leave his readers feeling like they’re alive and, regardless whatever else they feel, that’s the core of the matter. They are alive.
Aaron Monopolis is a Southern Cross University media student.