Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Occasional Subjective

As with a great many of my ramblings, this began life as an unsolicited e-mail to my Constant Readers. I am reluctant to bump the previous post out of the “headline spot”, but new product is essential to keeping folks coming back. I’m essentially lazy, and every time a burning desire for a new blog post ignites, it gets overridden by the rapidity of breaking news. I also work painstakingly slowly, as though each new post is another chapter in The Great American Novel that every wannabe writer thinks they're going to produce next year. (Rumor has it that I’m up for the Nobel Prize for Literature; not for anything I’ve written here in the last four years, but for the earth-shattering sequel to Atlas Shrugged that I plan to churn out in the next 12 days…)

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury…”

You remember that quote. I've done two blog posts on it. I consider it a succinct assessment of where we’re going, and there are a lot of Zen lessons in there. I take a lot for granted, including the fact that my Constant Readers—y’all—know something about the essence of Zen, and are hip to most of the cryptic cultural references I make. I also assume you understand that when I make offensive remarks, they’re usually a literary device to convey the voice of the person I’m trying to exemplify. If I’m sorely aggrieved at someone, I’ll convey my sentiments in drill sergeant language that will curl your toes and straighten your hair, or vice versa.

Early Wednesday morning, I had occasion to use such language directed at Glenn Beck. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Beck reads United Possums International. I was up at some ungodly hour, and thought to catch up on the last re-run of Mr. Beck’s civics lesson from Tuesday, 13 October. He has a nice way of putting things together, and we share a pedantic attitude. He is also self-effacing and a recovering alcoholic. I like Glenn Beck. He’s my kind of people in a lot of ways.

What led me to suggest aloud that Mr. Beck engages in sexual congress with his mother was something he did involving the last part of the quote above, cited in full in the footnote at the end of this piece. My previous post—“‘Something to Think About’ redux”—contains my explanation and breakdown of where I think we’re at in the progression from bondage to spiritual strength to courage to liberty to abundance...etc. and back into bondage. You can read the full text of the quotation and my commentary in the post just below this one.

For those of you who don't watch Beck, he took a printed poster of the progression, and underlined key phrases and scrawled in his comments as to what he alleges they represent on our national timeline. With only two minor variations, he said exactly what I did on 30 September 2009!

I know I only have about 20 Constant Readers, and a few drive-by gawkers. My site meter claims 10,316 visits as of 9 October; I don’t know where they came from. I don’t garner kudos from Rush Limbaugh, and the closest thing I get to national exposure is Scott Ott’s indulgence when I insert a UPI link in a comment at ScrappleFace. Whenever I post a new rant, I mutter “You’re so full of yourself! No one gives a damn what you think!” For the last four years, this blog has been a way of amusing myself that is one notch above talking to my dogs. There are not a lot of delusions of adequacy in play here.

Perhaps my anguish about Glenn Beck breaking down the “...democracy cannot exist...” quote is misplaced; likely it’s a case of great minds thinking alike, so to speak. I would be enormously flattered to think Mr. Beck reads this blog; I would be more exalted if he gave my analysis of the progression an attribution, and maybe gave UPI a plug. If he came upon his thoughts originally, then we are not far from Biblical truth: “Well, Master, thou hast said the truth...” Mark 12:32. (If you’re fact-checking me like CNN reviewing the “Saturday Night Live” sketch last week, skip down to Verse 34; it's what brought me back to faith in God: “And when Jesus saw he had answered discreetly, he said unto him, ‘thou art not far from the kingdom of God.’ And no man after that durst ask him any question.” Standard KJV text; I like the elegant syntax.)

I hope Glenn Beck got his point across when he extrapolated his meaning of the progression of democracy as stated in the quotation.* I often feel like I’m lighting soggy matches in a hurricane when I espouse a serious idea.

There are a lot of good ideas floating around on the Internet. Rational people are already tuned in to most of them, and personally reject the socialist totalitarianism we're careening towards. I sometimes have to bite my knuckles to keep from replying to e-mails with a reminder that the correspondent is preaching to the choir. Conservative ideas have no traction in today’s cult of personality. I have an almost-prescient perception of what’s going to happen with a lot of socio-political trends; it’s what kept me employed through years of skepticism, moral crises, insubordination to my bosses, and frequent unpaid absences to sky off in pursuit of pipe dreams like working in the movies. It’s not a supernatural or superhuman ability; I dismiss it as bad re-wiring of my internal circuitry with LSD and cheap whiskey when I was young and stupid. Still, all too often, when the phone rang at 0400, the voice on the other end was saying “You were right and the conventional wisdom was wrong! What do we do now?” This saving grace not only amazed my superiors, it scares the hell out of me. The fact that I broke down my analysis of the quotation in question on 30 September, and Beck did it on 13 October in an almost identical fashion, speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, I’d like to make a serious request to all of my “subscribers” and any drive-by readers: if you think there is any veracity in what I write at UPI, and if you know other like-minded people—strangers to me; known to you —who might obtain some amusement or cheap thrills from my lurid prose, please send them a link to United Possums International. Please do this in lieu of telling me that I’m the next Hemingway, or Hunter Thompson, or Larry the Cable Guy. I am very uneasy with compliments, and blushing makes my head explode. There was a record-breaking spike in readership on 25 September. My post of 24 September was almost a throwaway commentary; I’m mystified as to what grabs peoples’ attention. Still, subsequent reader comments have been more in-depth and thoughtful, and I’d like to keep the trend up.

I’m not into self-aggrandizement, but I’d like a wider readership. After listening to Dan Whitney [Larry the Cable Guy] talk about personal promotion, I’ve momentarily become less shy about approaching others as to what I'd like. I’m not running for public office—the only one that could tempt me is local sheriff, and in addition to not being qualified, I couldn’t bear the thought of arresting my neighbors—and I’m not looking for a publishing deal on my aggregate blog posts as some kind of memoir. I was enormously flattered when a new Constant Reader stated I write “with a sense of purpose”; if you honestly believe this is what I do, then kindly tell your friends about it.

And, if Glenn Beck is reading my blog, please get in touch. There's an e-mail link in my profile.

*I like this piece of wisdom so much, I’m going to throw it at you one last time:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependency back to bondage.”