"...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

Feb 11, 2012

The School Man

I read a School Man today. Lecturing with his gnomic-stupid voice. Abashed, faux bashful. Contemptuous, as only School Men can manage. A misplaced contempt, the cross-eyed staring down of self-conceived inferiors, inventing lowly adversaries to justify its essential cowardice, to salve itself in the recognition that its slippery comforts, its personal history of compromises and surrender are really an ascent towards truth, and wisdom, and sensibility. A naked act of shamed concealment, this - captured in relief, cold water dripping down a too-scrubbed brow that hovers over a face composed of sly glances and self-loathing.

Fiddling with the numbers, pretending to a grand narrative of history, as if his version of the whole story could account for the termites eating through the wood, or the making-do of broken mothers. All pretense, this School Man, even his contempt. A flaccid little soul, convinced that its wet slobber is a passionate kiss. Persuaded to believe in itself as a pyre, when it never manages to spark.

Missing the entire point. Missing the point of pointed things, all things being equal.

Covered in the dust of academia. Not noticing that his beloved history has moved on to other lovers. That time itself has drawn up its skirts and kicked the dust of its shoes at him. So he sneers instead. He conjures the loathing of the satisfied and the self-assuaged in defeat. A transubstantiation of its bundled small selves into the outward projected great Self inhabiting the nexus of history. Failed magic, and all the more embarrassing for the continued insistence on the publicity of its self-denied deficiency.

That other age, the one the School Man imagines as his gift to the lesser lights, the fantastic era he has peopled with Great Men and prophetic voices?

It's gone.

And it never was. We are venal creatures. Rooting around in the rotten roots of our perfidy, we discover the partial truths which liberate, and succeeding in a fleeting emancipation, chain us once again.

There's nothing wrong with that.

But the School Men can't admit it. So they fabulate. Nicomachean ethics, angels on a pin head, the weight of a soul, being-otherness, alchemical metanoias, the laws of economy, forever fighting rebels and fixed anarchies in their own minds, casting out the bad demons of the wrong uncertainty. Rational to a fault, blind to their monomanias and an obsession with order that reveals not reason, but a faith in the assertion as magic. They are always God Men, these School Men. Fucking priests, the lot of 'em.

And where there's a priest, there's a proctor, and a tithe and inevitably catechisms and sacerdotal vestments and the flagellant's whip. The School man mortifies. He makes dead the ineluctabilty of living.

He hates, and calls his hatred love, or knowledge, or faith.

There's nothing wrong with hate. Hate is a human good. But the school man gets his wet slobber and his dusty fingers all over even the beauty of hatred, and he makes it academic. He's the reducer, and his reduction is always a kind of violation. The shame-faced uncle with his roving hands and the explanations that follow. You know the kind: a careful word, well thought and pre-conceived, to distance his own inviolate self from the violations he commits with fingers and tongue.

He hates futurity. That's why he's always trying to plan it. He hates the now, which is why he must attempt to husband it, to beat it into the submission of a grand order, of a history what behaves.

But it doesn't behave, for all that history really does work, and explain and describe.

So here we are in the now. The School Men are the enemy to the side of our next tomorrow. An immediate one, because they announce themselves as friends. They have no amity to give. The proctor cannot love his ward, and the School Man has, does and will continue to insist on being a warden to time and human frailty.

Frailty colors our immediacy. The democratic age - a gentle fiction - has reached its terminus. We are done with human rights and the pretense of consensus. That's not daybreak's light dawning over the painted stones of the privately held terrariums deeded over from forgotten former Commons. It's twilight. That silvered horizon is the setting sun. Night comes. And the brutality is already cleaner, and more honest.

The Brutal Age begins again, because it has never ended.

The School Men won't brave that night. They've chosen their lot. They already have the company mark. It's self-preservation. No shame in it, but it belies the falsehood of their economies of symbolic motion. It negates their claims.

All they have left now is their shame. And they've earned it. They merit the widening chasm between their modes of existence and their message of history. They deserve the rewards of an enumerated hypocrisy, and the dubious acclaim of the annotated history of their betrayals.

They'll prattle on. That's their mettle, or its antithesis. And they'll probably get louder, and more strident, the closer it comes to the flux-tormented break between the false prophecy of justice and the reality of an enduring and pagan barbarity. See the evidence: their church has no keystone. It has no firm foundation. Do they smash the icons? Do they come out into the street and revel with the upside-downers of the unkinging Misrule? No, they hie closer to the throne, aiming instead to crown a new master, one with proconsular imperium, certain that if only their will is made manifest, and believed, if the prophets are heeded, if the secret keys are turned, if history behaves, this time their golem too will do the noble bidding.

While outside, where life counts, where safety is known for a lie, and security for a miserable deception, the School Men's objects of contempt piece their lives together in spite of insecurity, weaving through the ruins and remains of a dozen dozens of golem projects gone before. Where theory and the plan of the School Man's history dissolves at first contact with the heat death of a immediacy, crumbling into cold ash amid the ruins of a succession of Alesias.

The School Man draws closed his blinds, pulls the shade, opens his desk, retrieves his ink and pen. He scribbles on the fabric of the shade, scratching out elaborate, euclidian landscapes and peopling them with stick figure denizens.

Finished with his doodling, he announces with a flourish, "See! See, ye of little faith! Look out my window. It all fits, the shapes make sense! How bright the future! How rational!"

Absorbed by his creation, praying cruciform to the god in his head, he does not notice, he cannot see, or smell, or hear, the passing of another army on the way to its next Alesia, obedient to another's ranked and ordered reasons.

Outside, casting a shadow like a bird of prey, the next chief dreams of profit, glory and decimation, and his School Men get ready their histories, and the latest set of reasons why the rest of us have to suffer...


Anonymous said...

Went off the deep end, Jackie?

Anatole David said...

Nice piece. Hope it's about Pinker's latest dropping. But, ignoring the forest for one tree, that would limit the scope.

Coldtype said...

This needs a far larger audience.

Jack Crow said...

Thanks, Cold, Anatole.

I did not have Pinker in mind, though. The link is to some hogwash penned by the risible Owen Paine.

Anatole David said...

Oh, of "Op" infamy. Thankfully I missed the link.

Troville said...

I can't stand to read anything by Owen Paine. Breaking your thoughts up into fragments and disregarding basic rules of grammar and punctuation does not make you a poet.