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What Is the Midday Demon?

Photo by Lui Peng on Unsplash

Photo by Lui Peng on Unsplash

The noonday demon, the petty demon is mentioned in The Bible in Psalm 91 as one of the evils that may plague mankind

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

The phrase is translated in older versions as the demon of the midday or the demon of noonday and has been interpreted subtly as the madness of paranoia in Sologub's novel or depression in Andrew Solomon's book The Noonday Demon.

The World We Are Building

Why are so many of us disenchanted with life?

Don’t answer. It is obvious. Reasons for being

  • stressed,
  • depressed,
  • unhappy, or
  • distrustful

can be found everywhere.

People want to discover meanings and truths. Yet, they can’t help being biased and they can't help getting in their own way. It can be seen in their conceptions and in the way they construct arguments.

Many come to the conclusion that focusing on building themselves to the best of their abilities is all, and the most, they can do.

Yes, it is normal to want to act with a purpose and to want to achieve.

However, how about suspending subjective quests and paying attention to what one brings into the world?


The Petty Demon's World

Fyodor Sologub ‘s novel The petty demon showcases a life. Perodonov's. He is an exaggeratedly painted character. However, he might be someone you know.
Perodonov is an untalented high school teacher disrespectful of colleagues or people in general, of norms, and of beliefs.

  • He has no consideration for his profession. Moreover, he envies his students' youth and joy and uses every opportunity to exact physical punishment or revenge upon them.
  • At the same time, he is limited and gullible.
  • He is thoroughly disenchanted with the world around him. With the small town he lives in, its frivolous people, and their behavior.
  • He holds on to messed up political beliefs. Yet, he is afraid of how others might judge him and keeps secrets and appearances.
  • He also keeps appearances regarding religious beliefs. He is rigorously attending church mass while having a mistress and mistreating her. Generally, he is respecting no Christian laws and is being exaggeratedly superstitious.

Did Perodonov wonder, at some moment in time, what all this world means and what is his life's purpose? It is something easy to believe. A Perodonov pup trying to find out about the world. Using his senses in order to discern, but getting stuck in the misery he saw around and in what he felt.

What did that young version of Perodonov decide? That if the world is an ugly place it makes no difference if he puts more filth or pain into it.

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  • He dirties everything.
  • Starting with his home and finishing with the minds of his students.
  • He inflicts pain upon those weaker than him.
  • He steals and lies for the pleasure of doing wrong.

What more did Perodonov set out for himself?

To not remain in the same state, to be better than those around him. To rise up in this society.

Concretely, his goal was that of marrying somebody in order to have a good image. He also set out to make influential friends and to obtain, on these credentials, an inspector position.


The Negativity Trap

His goals are transparent, especially to his mistress. She uses the information and creates a marrying trap.

A princess she knows, allegedly, promises to intervene for an inspector position when Perodonov and she will be married. They do get married, yet by this time Perodonov has obviously become the victim of his own ways.

All the negativity seen and spread around is more and more exaggerated. He distrusts friends. Also, sees spirits and demons and dangers all around.

The novel ends with him committing his biggest sin yet.

A Mirror

'The Petty Demon' is defined as a comedy. I do not recognize in the description the book I read.

On the contrary, I found parts of it hard to go through. That’s how meaningless and ugly this Russian town’s world appeared to me.

Another reader might have found that Perodonov is a study case of someone descending into madness, detached from our lives. I think it is a study of what any life can descend into when set into wrong beliefs and un-flexibility of mind.

In this novel, everything is tainted. Beautiful women are incredibly ugly in manners, speech, and soul. Even love, youth and cheer are mediums that can lead to burdening passions and mistakes. So mangled up is everything in this place.

However, the novel is easy to read, has some light moments, and is a well-constructed book.

I will end with a quote from the author, copied from the user Vit Babenco from

“True, people love to be loved. They like to have the lofty and noble aspects of their souls depicted. Even in malefactors, they like to see glimmerings of goodness, of the ‘divine spark,’ as it was expressed in olden times. Therefore, they cannot believe it when they are faced with a depiction that is faithful, precise, gloomy and wicked. They want to say: ‘He’s writing about himself.’

No, my dear contemporaries, it is about you that I have written my novel.”

Who would we be if we'd stop the fear monger and doubt monger? What would our world be like if we'd approach with love even its ugly parts?

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