"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, April 12, 2021

Frankly, I Don’t Give A Damn–Surviving COVID And Much, Much More

Bob Muller was a serious man – a man for whom everything mattered.  There was no such thing as insignificance.  Any and every act had consequences for the future of the planet and life on it.  Any demurral or denial of such responsibility was considered craven neglect.

Bob was an active member of the most important organizations fighting global warming, white supremacy, male patriarchy, Wall Street capitalism, and heterosexual exclusivity.  He was on the virtual barricades for all these causes, doing his fair share and then some to roll back conservatism – to defame and discredit the privileged autocracy of the Right which had come into ascendency during the Trump Administration; to promote progressive ideas of diversity, inclusivity, collaboration, and good will; and to deny legitimacy to any who opposed this path to a more perfect world.

Progressivism was not simply a political movement but a moral one.  There could be no opposition to its principles because they were inherently good, right, and universal ones.  To do so – to object or deny would be tantamount to apostasy, heretical opposition to an anointed purpose.

In many ways progressivism was like a religion, for it had a canon, congregations, ceremony, myth, commandments, and saints. It was an all-encompassing, complete secular religion which allowed no smorgasbord beliefs or compromise.  One could not deny the Trinity and still be a Christian, and so it was with progressivism.  

There was no way that anyone who believed in laissez-faire capitalism and free enterprise, even though they championed the rights of the disadvantaged or other-gendered, could be welcomed into the big tent.  Any item of disbelief or questioning of one canonical principle would automatically suggest a skepticism of them all, and doubters were not welcome.  The mission was so important that it could not afford dissenters, objectors, or even hesitators.  Only a full-throated choral voice of joy was right.

Image result for Images Holy Trinity. Size: 144 x 204. Source: www.fanpop.com

Ironically, those who were most spiritually akin to progressives were fundamentalist Christians – the group that they distrusted most.  Evangelical Christians had the same Utopian beliefs, the same absolutism, the same exclusivity and insistence on doctrinal purity as progressives.  Both felt chosen, anointed, God-given, and prophetic; both felt sure that the rightness of their mission would guarantee its achievement; and both felt that missionary conversion would not only lessen the ranks of disbelievers but increase the ranks of the righteous.

Bob did not exactly go door-to-door, but preached the gospel of doom and forgiveness, righteousness and evil, right action and selfless investment on every virtual doorstep and in every public square and global amphitheater.  In the evenings, coming home from a day of evangelism, Bob liked to put his feet up, have a drink, and eat a simple meal.  Having done the needful, acquitted his conscience, made amends for the dereliction of the past, and recruited the emotionally needy and philosophically insecure and given them purpose and hope, it was time to enjoy the fruits of his labors.

His wife, however, was totally unconvinced, and she found Bob’s universal progressivism and evangelical mission silly and pretentious.  It was only the weight of decades of marriage, children, grandchildren, and inertia which kept her from leaving her pew in Bob’s church, stepping outside, and heading for the hills.  

There was not one ounce of humor in the man, not one iota of circumspection, not one moment of smiling disbelief.  He had become a thudding bore.  He was so full of himself and his appointed mission that he was clueless about himself, his wife, and his marriage; and she went from one lover to the next without fear of discovery or rebuke.  While Bob soldiered off to convention after convention, seminar after seminar, and strings of colloquia, gatherings, and church groups, Ellen was happily and inconsequentially independent, neither obliged nor owed, and sexually adventurous.  She had married Bob with due consideration, but had woefully underestimated his obsessive, compulsive irrationality and was finally happy to be rid of her albatross.

Image result for Images Utopia. Size: 142 x 108. Source: goldenageofgaia.com

There would be no better world, no Utopia, not even the slightest movement towards progressivism’s fanciful goals, she knew on departing. Life and human nature had not changed since the Pleistocene, and they were not about to change now.  Anyone who actually believed in positive change – or even the possibility of moving off the aggressive, territorial, self-interested, defensive mark was loony.  

The fact that her husband was the looniest of all was incidental.  Some susceptible, gullible people are simply born fools; and she – through fault of her own ignorance – married one; and that was not a matter for second thought.  It was only a green light for indulgent freedom.

Ellen had turned into a sexual meanderer thanks to an inherited intolerance for idiots, an unflappable self-confidence, and an existential weariness.  The missionary enthusiasm of people like her husband Bob, so dutiful, serious, and impossibly persistent was a cause in itself for  amoral emotional husbandry.  Yet, after years of marital desuetude and having a front row, center seat at Bob’s evangelical three ring circus, her indifference became an ethos.  It was Bob’s fruitless, aimless, and pointless ambitions which hardened her resolve – or more aptly put, loosed her tethers from purpose, results, and outcome.   Frankly, she said to Bob, I don’t give damn, and left for the Bahamas with Brad from Lisbon.

Image result for images bahamas

So when the COVID pandemic hit, she was well prepared.  While Bob fussed and bothered with two-masks-and-a-shield, prison-worthy social distancing, industrial air purification, and doomsday lockdowns, Ellen went into ‘fuck it’ mode – an indifference to the presumed existential nature of the pandemic, a refusal to buckle under to the gulag-era incarcerations of government, and a dismissal of the ‘hate-does-not-belong-here, rainbow, BLM’ progressivism of her neighbors. 

How could you? asked Bob’s cohorts and compatriots.  How could she be so dismissive of an existential crisis?  And while they were at it, why had she not joined Bob on the hustings when it came to racial injustice, police brutality, and insult to her own sex?

Lunacy, she said.  Banal, trite, and empty. 

But what of your life, they asked, and that of your children? What about them? 

More treacly wicked witch fairy tales.

Image result for images 19th century witch fairy tales

The more she was hectored by Bob’s followers, the more she was pestered and admonished; and the more she was begged to kneel, repent, and pray for forgiveness, the more defiant she became.  It is hard to be a defiant advocate for nihilism, but irony is the meme of our times, and her fuck it meme went viral.  She had gone beyond conservatism, beyond fierce political individualism, and beyond philosophical colloquy.  Fuck it became the meme of the moment, the ultimate rejection of the settled status quo. It was way above it all.

Four score years of life is nothing, considering scope and context.  Why waste it?  La dolce vita is indeed superficial and frivolous, but such epicurean delights at least are measurable because they intend nothing more than the here and now.  Bob’s progressive fantasies had no substance and therefore no meaning.  An obvious metaphysical choice.

The pandemic ended, short-lived, overblown, and over-hyped; but there were many lessons learned and many lessons unlearned.  Ellen came out on top, not only a survivor but a victorious gladiator.  Hers was the way to go, the only sensible reaction to a purposeless, meaningless life.  Nietzsche was right all along.  The only validation of life is the expression of pure, individual will and fuck the rest.

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