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

Monday, June 13, 2022

Sturm und Drang - The Feverish Rants Of The True Believer

“Not only do the ends justify the means”, iterated Blanton Cole, “they are as important”.

He could brook no attempts to derail his righteous purpose, and no means to achieve his anointed purpose – the conclusion of history – was off the table. He was indeed a Social Justice Warrior. 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on…

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat
Oh, be swift my soul to answer Him, be jubilant, my feet

Image result for images battle hymn of the republic

Blanton Cole in real life was a modest man, a worker in a company which designed software for ‘eleemosynary results’ – in simpler terms software which would facilitate the direction of individual investments to the right, vetted, and socially appropriate corporations; and which most importantly used sophisticated sentient algorithms that could assure doctrinal purity on social media websites.  Many in the progressive metaverse were unhappy with the stealth hits that corrupted their blogs and websites and made it difficult to maintain the order and discipline needed to convey absolute conviction  and vision.

Cole worked on a team of software engineers organized to improve the currently available sentient products which parsed and analyzed emails, texts, and comments for emotive meaning.  Few customers ever answered satisfaction surveys sent out by hotels, rental car companies, and online merchants; but sentient software could identify dissatisfaction from seemingly innocent phrases and offhand remarks.  The new, advanced software, designed with the Homeland Security in mind,  was able to pick out insincerity, irony, and satirical innuendo.

Image result for images artificial intelligence

Cole, a modest software engineer with a decent academic pedigree was not at the creative forefront of such software design, but able enough to understand its principles and apply them to his own social media platform.  He could not integrate the still incomplete algorithms into his own website’s code, but he could put what he learned about sophisticated vetting insight to good use.

His website was called The Social Vintage, a reference to The Battle Hymn of the Republic whose verses were a daily inspiration and also the metaphor of fine wine.  His site would be refined, clear of impurities, rich and satisfying.  He was proud of the fact that he encouraged all manner of contributors – poets, essayists, novelists, and incidental critical editorial writers – and carefully vetted each and every piece submitted for consistency to liberal norms.  He was most particular about credentials which must be impeccably aligned with those institutions which, as a matter of policy and tradition, were above suspicion.

For example, one writer submitted what Cole considered a piece of insight about getting older – a mature man’s take on sex and the city, an hommage to philandry and the adulterous life, reprising Lawrence’s epiphanic notions of sexual congress, channeling Lothario and Casanova, and reworking Konstantin Levin’s lament about God’s irony – creating an intelligent, humorous, insightful, and witty creature in Man, and then consigning him for all eternity in the cold hard steppes of Russia – to reflect on His similar irony of creating men with perpetual sexual interest and consigning them to but a few decades of performance.

Image result for images casanova

Most importantly the story of one man’s frustrated sexual odyssey had been presented as a metaphor for man’s unsatisfied longing for Utopia – the green valleys of peace, harmony,  justice, and love.  Man, said the author, became dispirited with his inability to move the clock forward, to edge slowly but progressively towards the brave new world of universal respect.  It was brilliant.

Yet the author made some suspicious claims about his background.  Not that this mattered when it came to content and the doctrinal purity – the piece was indeed the perfect exposition of progressive ideals – but that because of previous, unapproved affiliations, the readers of Cole’s site might be put off and read the piece the wrong way. 

Cole in due diligence, fact- checked the author, pursued him on the most meticulously crafted search engines (i.e. those that had software close to his own company’s) to find out more about him and the trail was unappealing.  The courses he had taught, although well within the literary canon, were transparently provocative.  No one could teach Ibsen and Strindberg without reference to Nietzsche and Kierkegaard .  His The Literary Triumph of Will was nothing more than an attempt to promote nihilism and the retrograde, anti-progressive sentiments of individualism, vainglory, and willful domination. 

Image result for images hedda gabler diana rigg

On second reading now within the perspective of the author’s deformed academic past, Cole could see the dissembling satirical irony of the peace.  The author was not at all creating a metaphor for peace and Utopian longing but just the opposite.  His main character’s libidinous pursuits and old age sexual frustration were hymns to a Nietzschean vision of a sexual Superman.

Cole had almost been snookered, and became even more doctrinally obsessed.  Fact-checking, hunting out fake news and sketchy pasts became his be-all and end-all.  If he had the audacity to claim a doctrinally pure site, than there could be no irritating, scratchy twigs in anyone’s past.  The means had now become more important than the ends.

He took no one at their word, assumed falsehood among the most principled, and gradually moved from political arrogance to misanthropy.  He had become a latter day Timon of Athens, a Greek nobleman with so much trust in his fellow men that he gave away riches he never had and then, when calling on favors from his beneficiaries he was refused, he became a misanthropic hermit, a hater, and an arrogant victim.

Image result for images timon of athens

Of course Cole was unaware of this transformation.  His own Utopianism, and his desire to expunge all traces of naysaying, doubt, and ignorance, had become unholy and unhealthy obsessions.  He called out former classmates for their duplicity, old friends for their intellectual chicanery, and cousins for their conservative perversions. 

Of course fewer and fewer people submitted their works for his consideration and his readership dropped into the double digits.  He started writing his own pieces under pseudonyms, but in his iridescently fevered obsession, his musings became screeds.  “Why can’t anyone see?”, he shouted to The Battle Hymn framed on his wall, to the begonias in the garden, and to his sleeping neighbors.

He had become addled, disoriented, and frenzied.  His political passions enflamed him more than ever, but he could no longer make sense, and his writings became lunatic ramblings.

A cautionary tale? Well, perhaps that might be going too far.  While there is much truth to the imbalanced judgment of the true believer and to the indecency of righteous causes, anyone can go off the rails.  It simply seems like it is always those of progressive ilk and missionary zeal who seem to swerve and veer until upended along the side of the road.

Cole’s particular dementia got him fired.  There was no way for his bosses to notice the leaky transmission of this now shaky contraption, then its complete breakdown. “He deserved better”, said a colleague; but most did not think so.  He was an arrogant, scurrilously suspicious man who deserved every bit of what he got.  If there is a moral to the story it is…well, better not to fall into the same trap of self-importance.  Just pay less attention to ends and no attention whatsoever to means. 

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