All Hail the Great “Moh Dun”

Assiduous sacrifice at the altarĀ of the Moh Dun gods gives our society the power to believe we are alternatively “masters of our fate”(totally free subjects) and the slaves of natural and societal forces that overwhelm the individual.

“The light-skinned peoples living in the northern reaches of the Atlantic are said to have a peculiar way of worshipping the gods. They go on expeditions to other nations, seize statues of their gods, and destroy them in huge bonfires, insulting them with cries of ‘Fetish! Fetish!’ – a word that in their barbaric language seems to mean ‘forgery, nonsense, lie.’ Though they insist that they have no fetishes, and that it was their own idea to free other nations from such things, they seem to have very powerful gods. Indeed, their expeditions frighten and fill with dread the peoples who are attacked in this way by rival gods, who these peoples call ‘Moh Dun,’ and whose power appears as mysterious as it is invincible. It seems that in their own lands they have built many temples, and the way they worship inside them is as strange, frightening, and barbaric as it is outside. During great ceremonies repeated from generation to generation, they smash their idols with hammers. They seem to benefit significantly from these ceremonies, for once they have freed themselves from their gods they can do whatever they please. They can mingle the forces of the Four Elements with those of the Six Kingdoms and the Thirty-Six hells, without feeling at all responsible for the violence they unleash. Once these orgies have ended, these people are said to fall into deep despair. At the feet of their shattered statues they cannot help but hold themselves responsible for everything that happens, which they call ‘human’ or ‘free-will subject’ – or else they believe, on the contrary, that they are responsible for nothing at all, and that they are entirely produced by what they call ‘nature’ or ‘causal objects’ (the terms are hard to translate into our language). Then, as if terrified by their own daring, and in order to put an end to their despair, they repair the Moh Dun gods they have just broken, making countless offerings and sacrifices; they put their gods back up at the crossroads, holding them together by iron hooping as we do for barrel staves. They are also said to have created a god in their own image – in other words, one just like themselves, sometimes absolute master of all he does, and sometimes completely nonexistent. These barbaric peoples do not seem to understand what it means ‘to act.'”

  • Reported by Counselor De-Bru-Osh, emissary to China from the Korean Royal Court in the mid-eighteenth Century

(From Bruno Latour’s On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods)