Note on the Old Man of the Mountain


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar David says:

    Setting aside the historical question of what did or did not happen, there is a history of religiopolitical movements convincing their young adherents that “paradise” is guaranteed to the martyr. Pol Pot famously created a fighting force of young volunteers who, believing they would gain everything fighting for him, were incredibly vicious and unwilling to take prisoners or give quarter. The militias of theocratic Muslim regimes or fighting forces in the middle east for the past century have quite often been seen taking young boys of years 8-12 and giving them a gun along with a key to put in their pocket: this is their “key to paradise”, wherein they are promised a tale very similar to the “sound-stage seventh heaven” which you describe so long as they can die a martyr with the key on their personage.

    While I am sure that a discussion of whether or not the various religions actually promise this could take all day, let us leave that argument aside as I will stipulate that such a situation is nowhere unique to the Muslims, being found in plenty of pre-Christian societies as well such as the Valhalla of the Nords, but that it certainly does present a problem for a modern civilised society when faced with a militaristic group willing to engage in such brainwashing tactics in order to mould their young soldiers into fearless, conscienceless monsters.


    • Avatar Artor in reply to David says:

      David, thank you for your observations, but I notice that you didn’t mention the Xtian practice of telling young men that they will go to heaven if they march off to kill infidels in foreign lands too. And of course, as long as they accept Jeebus, no sin is too great a stain to enter paradise. How is this different from the Muslim doctrine, or other religious commandments to smite the unbelievers?

      Also, your Skyrim is showing. It’s Norse, not Nords.Report

  2. Avatar Mary says:

    It is like an adult version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory with a dark, twisted ending.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Mary says:

      In fairness to the order of assassins, it’s most likely a legend- after all, Marco Polo was in the employ of the Mongols who did away with the order. Nevertheless, I find it a totally compelling legend.Report

  3. This sounds like the figure on which the video game Assassin’s Creed was based. I had read that they had based the story of the game on real history but I didn’t realize it was that close, right down to the creed used, “Nothing is true; everything is permitted”.


    • Yes, I’m pretty sure it is based on that order. I don’t know where the line comes from. It most definitely did not originate with the group. I think William S. Burroughs might have come up with it in one of his novels.Report