"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Oct 27, 2011

Against the light; or, physician give thyself an iatrogenic disease and die already...

The reformist operates from a peculiar vantage; he has the light to his back, haloing him with his own contempt. He is learned, enlightened. He hangs out his shingle, he gives it illumination.He tacks his degree to the wall, and he wants you to see it. He's got a license to have this mission. He's got a geas. A need. To bring the light. To deliver the world into it.

The reformist is a good servant: he fancies himself a physician, a bringer of cures, an apothecary of bright tomorrows. He's a shopkeep for sickness' sake, and it's illness what keeps him in silks. He has a bag of purgatives, a schedule of drugs, a timetable for treatment by which to beat back the disease. Like a physician, he keeps a little hatred for his patient in reserve. And he's got a patient in mind, right from the start:  sick and corrupted society, a sorry little whore suffering from self-inflicted social infections; she's mostly unlettered, bold in her stupidity, resistant to his cures, and a beastly thing better suited to the yoke than to honesty company. It's a rough trade, healing this whore, but the doctor is not above a little leeching.

But that's alright. He came for the fight.

The reformer needs the world sickened, and in darkness, else he cannot save it.

He's going to do battle with corruption, and he's got the light at his back.

In that he's like any other son of the light. He wants to shine it on you, on us. And that ain't even the scary part, his need to illuminate every darkness, to cast out shadow and doubt, to have the whole score of life written up in a well lit ledger, showcased in a hall of mirrors and bright lanterns. To take the credit for his cure, and to be celebrated for it in the light of day.

No, that's not the worst.

What ought to give us pause is the light, itself. 

Maybe you have a moment to ponder it: the reformer, the would be king, the general, the academic with a system, the social diagnostician, the guardian of women's honor, the prince of art or industry, the salvificating preacher and enemy of sin, the witch hunters and vice squaddies, the therapist who will cure you of your own self - how is that they style themselves, er, as a rule?

Let the shadowed silence hold you for a minute.

Dispel the light.

All those once and future redeemers arrive first as heralds of a new day, a new dawn, an enlightenment, the bright future, the well lit path towards a better tomorrow. They offer cleanliness, and a lighted walkway to improvement.


It's a good bet that a man at the head of an invasion, or about to steal other people's children and remake them, save them, or offering a cure to society's ills, or with a plan to root out the sicknesses of crime and criminality, or with a mission to elevate women towards the perfect, to cure faggots of their gay, to rescue the mudders from their low and crowded living - he comes in the name of the light.


Every godsbedamned time someone kicks off a war, or a crusade, he calls on the name of the same god, over and over and fucking over again.

His god is a god of light. His cure is enlightenment, knowledge, purity and purification, the facts in the light of day, a cold coruscation, a revelation, a banishing of darkness, ignorance, shadows, doubt and the improper conduct which beggars the fools who live a bit to the left of the rays of the sun, who linger in shadows, or hold their hearts back from the unforgiving gaze of an eye that never closes.

He would deliver...

...salvation, redemption, enlightenment:

The fire glow from an auto-da-fé.

An interrogation lamp, anywhere.

An army psychologist's field notes, spotlighting breakdowns, radiant with insight into the deconstruction of women and men.

A mayor, by press conference camera light, brandishing enemies: low women and black gangs with mind darkening drugs. The police chief to the left of him, the prosecutor to his right.

The preacher man, highlights in his hair, fulminating against the music of the devil.

And the reformer, jaw taut with righteousness, half hovering over his seat, his mouth white with the tension and urgency of his salvific cause, suffused with the fluorescence, with the afterglow of his purpose.

The reformer would cure you. He would enlighten you. He would save you from yourself, from your habits, afflictions and addictions. From your base behaviors. He would elevate you, lifting you up closer to the cleansing sun.

Clean and light, that's the reformer's endgame. A world scrubbed and illuminated, a succession of bright days, alternating between classwork, intestinal cleanses, consensus exercises and moral edification. Wholesomeness, in a word.

A clinic.

And a clinical outcome.

So it's best, I guess, to keep this in shadowed mind when you meet one on the wayside. Maybe you don't have to take one of his needles out of that bag of cures and tricks and stick him with it. But maybe you do. You never can tell, really.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The reformer would cure you. He would enlighten you. He would save you from yourself, from your habits, afflictions and addictions.

And what might be your motive for writing this blog, Jack?

Jack Crow said...

Not salvation, Thunder. I would aim a rhetorical arrow, or a real one in the right circumstances, at an opponent's chest. But I wouldn't try to save his soul or convert him. I don't care if he believes or behaves. I care only to stop him, if it's within my ability, from enforcing that belief and behavior on myself, or others.

But, I've no major illusions about my efficacy, or the medium itself.

So, I can point. Perhaps even with some grace, from time to time. But, this isn't an effort to enlighten, to dispel the darkness, to redeem or to edify anyone.

I hope I've at least made that clear, over the last two or so years.

In meatspace, strong emotions aren't a defining characteristic, for me. Until it comes to redeemers, saviors and reformers.

Them, I hate. With no offense to Coldtype intended or to be inferred, them I hate even more than the cops.

In the end, the policeman is just a guy with a job to do. I wish fewer people (as in, none) would do that job, and I'm pretty sure rapists and child molesters could be handled without them - but the cop, when he's not a crusader, is preferable to the reformers and redeemers.

The cop knows human venality isn't something you can meliorate. He knows, I think even as he slaps on the cuffs, that prison won't improve the thief anymore than law protects the people.

Not so, the redeemers and reformers. And that makes 'em more dangerous to human freedom and human lives than any gaggle of blue uniformed defenders of the status quo. The redeemer, the reformer, the crusader: that fucking type believes and worse yet, he isn't going to rest until you kill him or shame him. He has a world to fix. He has humanity to improve.

The cop is mostly wrong to think that hiding away the discontents of a social order will safeguard it, because that order will always find replacements, especially when its operation requires them. Still, I imagine he knows that his work is less than noble, especially once he's done being a rookie with a hard on for justice.

The redeemers and reformers cannot even generally make that small connection. They think that people themselves can be bettered.

The fires upon which witches burned were fueled with that shuffling urge towards betterment. The education of children into replaceable parts is predicated upon their systematic improvement into people who can no longer often recognize desire as such. The very clarion call against "corruption" demands a complete refusal to understand that power is not corruption of a good, nor abuse a mutation of the right. They are what people do when they can get away with it.

The reformer refuses this observation. He's too busy blinding himself with the light.

It's why he never sees his own co-option coming. It's why he never understands how it is that the mob finally ends up tossing him on his own pyre, seeing him as a hypocrite, right before they get back to their pain mitigating alcohol, drugs, sex and devil's dancing.

Mark S said...

Wendell Berry:

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,

and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,

and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

d.mantis said...

truly. fucking. wonderful.

One shining gem among a treasure was this:

Like a physician, he keeps a little hatred for his patient in reserve.

I have often encountered much more obvious hatred right out in the open from the physician class. Here are people (excepting the token few who enter the profession with honest intentions) who are taught, more than anything else, a god complex.

In fact what they have learned is an eight year crash course in learned CYA tactics.

It occurs to me that, in this sense, the dissemination of expertise in academia establishes the reformer as a class.

Or i might be full of shit. either one. that and i hate doctors.

Anatole David said...

Rationalism has its reactionary. It's the conceited, "humane", twin of superstition. The Church invented clinics, banks, and Knights of the Faith, Rational clerics refined these institutions into sharper scalpels.

Well done Crow. Platonic and Paulist epigones smile and smile and yet contemplate purfying holocausts. Even Malthus(a Parson), in the name of Reasonable economy, wanted the poor to stop breeding.

Nothing has changed but the rhetoric.

@d. mantis

I don't hate doctors. Some are fine materialists who believe the world cannot be saved through "greater hygiene". They understand that desire fueled Jesuit and Fascist efforts to rid society of "filth". I do agree many Medical Doctors and other strains of Academia(MBA's, Jurisprudence, etc) believe they practice the divine Husbandry of Light.


Goethe's shade whispers,"There is no crime I have heard of that I could not have committed myself." He died asking for "more light".

Life's messy. It's more than light and measure. Those who wish to cleanse and enlighten embrace death. The living protest.

Jack Crow said...

I don't despise healers, or researchers. My wife works for healers, mostly.

Credentialed medical experts, on the other hand...