This column is one that is the most important I have ever written … but important, I suppose, to none but me.
I rather suspect most readers already know the answer to the questions that have for so long baffled, fascinated, and pestered me.
I have long wondered why each and every writer of a certain political persuasion is utterly and entirely unable to pen a good story, or even an average one, or even an acceptable one.
Here is my answer.
The creators of the science fiction and fantasy genre, superheroes, adventure tales, romances, and popular entertainment, at one time were the glory of our genre.
But the nightingales have fallen mute. They sing no more. They can only nag, and mock, and shriek. The harpies join the feast only to befoul it. They are screech-owls.
One need not seek far to learn the cause of my fascination. I myself have changed my political viewpoint over my years, and, indeed, my whole worldview: the candid reader will comprehend why the question has a particularly personal poignancy to me.
Art is as mysterious, profound, and all pervading as love itself, or any divine thing, and as hard to describe or explain. Hardly any man who breathes air has not at least once sighed with wonder, fear, pity, or delight over people and events partly or wholly fictional, fabulous, fantastical, or mythical.
Poets, when speaking poetically, call inspiration the province of the Muse, herself a creature more than a little fabulous and mythical.
What can make her turn her face away from men, once so talented? What turned the sweet songs of a whole generation into the clamor of sounding brass, or the asinine braying of asses?
It seems so odd, so nigh impossible, that political conviction could so completely murder poetic inspiration.
The oddity seems redoubled when I remember many a tale, including some of my childhood favorites, were written by men of a different political orientation from mine, and could skillfully cobble together an entertaining tale in a workmanlike fashion, or, at times, with true genius.
Indeed, the domination of the artistic field by those who are not conservative in outlook is often remarked upon, so much so that it can be taken for granted. Some of the best films and novels of the Twentieth Century issued from minds who were nonconformists and untraditional.
And then, with startling suddenness, as if by the flip of a crackling double-throw switch behind the scenes of the artistic world, it all went dark as pitch.
All the genius has fled, and it took with it all the workmanlike skill. What is left behind are souls with no speck of artistic talent, able only to produce foul fewmets of dismal dreck with no redeeming qualities whatever.
Hypothetical monkeys intoxicated with opium while recovering from lobotomies, by slapping keys at random on a typewriter and flinging poo at the page, could write better novels and scripts than have been produced of late from what was once the most well-established and well-beloved franchises in the genre. You see, the monkeys, were the keystrokes random, would at least not produce sentences that deliberately insulted the readers, abolished or betrayed character development, created idiotic plot holes larger than the Grand Canyon, and devolved what should have been gripping themes at the core of the human experience into idiotically simple propaganda unable even to convince anyone to believe it, not even the hypothetical monkeys introduced at the beginning of this paragraph.
Lest any man accuse me of exaggeration, I need only remind the candid reader of the recent debacles, which include such properties as
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi,
- Star Trek: Discovery,
- Terminator: Dark Fate,
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix,
- 007: No Time to Die,
- Men in Black: International,
- Charlie’s Angels (2019)
- Captain Marvel (2019)
This is not to mention girl-type Doctor Who, and girl-type Ghostbusters (2016), and girl-type super-shows, such as Supergirl or Batwoman. Some observers add girl-type Mad Max: Fury Road to the list and some do not, but I have not seen this film and express no opinion. I have also not seen girl-type Ocean’s 8, nor the girl-type remake of Lord of the Flies.
Nor do I play video games, so I am blissfully unaware of what has become of Mass Effect, Mortal Kombat, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed or Last of Us, but I have been told they live up the high standards set by Depression Quest.
And in print, we have the entire slate of Hugo-winners for the last two or three years running, and Nebula winners for five years running, not to mention the entire work product of Marvel Comics, and most of DC.
Whether or not to add the Harry Potter stories, perhaps the best-selling novel series of all time, to the list of stories ruined for the sake of ruination, on the grounds of the author’s out-of-canon comments on the sodomite sexual disorientation of a once-beloved character is left as an exercise for the reader. Reasonable men can differ on this point.
I need not say that some of these franchises are deeply loved, prized above all other story-telling experiences by countless fans and patrons: no one reading these words is likely not to have adored at least one of these, once. No one is likely not to know what we behold.
We behold the ruination of all our shared cultural myths.
We are like the witness who stands motionless, unblinking, unable to look away from the wreckage of a circus train, unable to turn from the sick, odd, sad, malformed vision of a long line of capsized traincars, a burning calliope, a cracked caboose painted gaily and hung with bunting.
Flung in ditches or impaled on broken tree branches are mangled clowns with painted faces, squeaky shoes silent evermore, and midgets and mutants and bearded ladies, and all the plethora of freaks, splattered and mingled with the bloody remains of outlandish beasts, bellowing pachyderms and hippopotami, dying horses in feathered headdresses shrieking whinnies as they die, or silent giraffes with long and broken legs.
Meanwhile in the firelight, a single lonely clown-dog in a lacy collar howls above the unicycle an acrobat once rode, empty, now, forevermore.
How did it happen?
The question is not by what accident the science fiction and fantasy genre in print and media, games and film, came off the rails. The question is why the engineer, at full speed, drove the train off a brink.
With this one question — why is modern speculative fiction, once infected with politics, so uniformly atrocious — we thread a labyrinth at whose heart rests a primal mystery.
At whose hands was this done and why?
The answer to the question requires clarity on the most fundamental and enigmatic questions of philosophy: the nature of politics and religion, the nature of art and of truth, of human nature itself.
Let us answer each question in order.
By Whose Hands?
First, let us identify who mans and what is the political movement of which we speak.
Naming the Nameless
The matter of identifying the movement is made difficult from the fact that the core principle of the movement is never to identify itself, but always to present itself as the mere opposite of what it is, with the corollary that the movement must always and ever accuse any opponent of the sins and vices and shortcomings which are theirs and theirs alone, but not his.
Hence, the allegedly political movement controlling the Cloudcuckoolanders goes by many names, but, naturally, given the nature of what they do, all such names are misleading when not insolently false.
In their narcissistic cloudcuckooland narrative, these antisocial and unjust cravens call themselves social justice warriors, these fear-ridden and unimaginative regressive conformists call themselves progressive, these brain-zombies call themselves freethinkers, and these pusillanimous enemies of every form of liberty, aside, perhaps, for sexual perversion, call themselves liberal.
The movement in truth is an hypocritical yet hysterical combination of totalitarian anarchist, socialist plutocrat, gnostic nihilist, and atheist idolater.
There is a medieval poem mocking the luxuries of monks, where the land of Cockaigne, the realm of Cooking, is told: here, all ease and pleasures are at hand, and houses are made of pastry cakes, fountains flush with wine, and a man need but recline, for a baked pigeon or savory meat pie to fly down from the clouds and into his open mouth.
The economic theory of socialism predicts endless productivity will suddenly result once prices and wages of all goods and services are abolished, and no man owns private property. The explanation of how productivity will result once all the causes of productivity are gone is never explained. This is the economic model of Cockaigne, but not as funny as the mocking poem.
Likewise again, in Plato’s Republic, the philosopher, enamored by the example of Sparta, envisions a city state of perfect virtue, temperance, and proportion, which results merely by hypothesizing a philosopher king of impeccable judgment and wisdom, just as angels enjoy.
He rules a warrior class of sinless paragons who share all property, and all wives, in common, without the least trace of jealousy or avarice, more loyal than guard dogs. With simple laws and firm control of all art and literature and education, king and aristocracy control happy slaves and workingmen who happen to be as industrious and selfless as bees or ants.
Thomas More wrote a similar work, this one a satire, mocking the inhuman aspirations of the Puritans of his day, who sought to rectify human society to superhuman perfection. His island could not exist, and so was called, in Greek, the Land of Nowhere, or Utopia.
Plato’s dark conceits have been tried time and again, from the Middle Ages onward, with over a hundred communes and shared schemes attempted in Ohio in the last century and a half alone. Like the economic model that works in the land of Cockaigne, which only requires the laws of cause and effect to suspend themselves, the legal and social model that works in Utopia only requires human nature to be replaced with the more tractable natures of angel and guard-dog, ant and bee.
But, of late, it seems the Utopians have given up on Utopia, and the Socialists make alliances with Plutocrats without a blink. Destroying a corrupt civilization to make way for paradise is perhaps a noble goal, if moon-barkingly forth-jawed insane; but destroying a hale civilization for no reason whatever is neither.
If there is any logic or leitmotif in this vomit-mass of hatred, self-hatred, godlessness, ingratitude, self-glorification and insolent hypocrisy that possesses this political movement, I can see only this:
- first, an urgent desire to blame others for one’s own shortcomings;
- second, a shifty-eyed guilt-haunted inability to say anything clearly or directly, aside, perhaps, from vulgarity and blue words;
- third, the humorless self-righteousness of a man trying to hide a crime from himself; and in all things, the pride of Lucifer.
The most common term for them is Leftist; the most accurate is Luciferian; one word which covers both cases is Enemy.
For this column, however, let us use the term Narcissist. It is not literal, but it is poetically apt.
Like an offspring of vampire and doppelganger, when the Narcissist movement infects an institution, it drains its life and steals its valor, hoping to imitate the honors and prestige of whatever institution is thus subverted, while undoing all the work that once earned those honors and that prestige.
Narcissus wants the laurels of a poet without the sweat and tears men call genius, wants the medals of the hero without the long marches, cold rations, and deadly danger heroes face, wants the palm of martyrdom without the pain of a hangnail. He wants it all, and wants it all now.
Institutions thus infected become unable to carry out their core functions: Teachers cannot teach, preachers cannot preach, scientists cannot do science, news reporters cannot report news, political parties cannot do politics, businesses cannot do business. Instead, they brainwash, blaspheme, defraud, deceive, disintegrate the social order — and then go broke.
And storytellers cannot tell stories. Instead, they preach, and propagandize, belittle, and bore.
Oh, my, how they do bore.
Not Who They Seem
So: the trainwreck of modern literature and entertainment was accomplished by the doppelgangers and pharisees of the Left, which is to say, by the Enemy of God and Man, and the little enemies on earth, some of whom know what dark power they willingly serve, some not.
This neatly answers my first question: the authors and film makers and so on we all recall from youth might not have been conservatives strictly so called, but rather were liberals of the old school, before the vampires of Narcissus drained their life, darkened their minds, assumed their name, and took their place.
The entertainers and writers now serving the Narcissists have no more to do with Gene Roddenberry or George Lucas, Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov or A.E. van Vogt than the Soviets of the USSR have to do with the Czars who ruled Holy Mother Russia. The usurpers dwell in the stolen palaces.
If asked, the Narcissist perhaps would claim to be a Leftist or Socialist, and say such things were done to forward political goals, such as to elevate diversity or quell thought-crime.
Like all they say, it is half-truth, untruth, or outright lie. There is no political goal involved. The goal is religious.
Hence, our second inquiry must be into what is the nature of politics and partisan thinking, and, after that, what is the nature of religion and faith.
Politics is art of rulership, that is, the discipline of upholding or improving law and customs by which civilized men are incentivized to cooperate.
Civilized men are moved to cooperate, first, for their own mutual protection; second, to cooperate for protection from their princes, elites, military leaders and, most of all, mobs; third, to cooperate for their augmentation of their honor and repute; fourth, to cooperate for their prosperity, namely, for the reasonable expectation of security in the fruit of their labor, and to benefit from the advantages of specialization of labor.
And, finally, men cooperate in matters of law and language and literature because there is something in the human heart which craves to hear the poets sing.
We civilize for mutual protection.
Man is wolf to man. If it were no more than natural disasters and diseases and the ravages of wolf and lion to fend off, there would be no need for iron chariots, horses of war, men at arms, spears and swords and galleons manned by sailors and marines, and gunpowder would no doubt find use only in fireworks on birthdays. There would be no need for crowns and thrones and labyrinths of written law, hosts of lawyers and clerks, hosts of war and hordes of police, and all the headsmen, hangmen, jailors, torturers, sheriffs and taxmen and coast guards and pirate hunters in history — all of this springs from the natural temptation man has to prey on man, and is the prudence of civilization, to create, by law and customs, incentives to settle feuds and quarrels peacefully.
Our word for civilization and civility are rooted in the word for a walled city, and such walls are not farm fences erected to keep out roving beasts, but military fortifications to fend off attacking raiders and marching conquerors.
Civilization is for security.
We civilize to protect ourselves, secondly, from our protectors.
It is the commission of princes in a kingdom and citizens in a republic to render justice to the subjects and citizens of the realm, because the temptation toward fraud, crime, and violence here on earth are overwhelming, and the natural deterrent is insufficient.
Hence, it is necessary to bring some echo or shadow of justice here on earth, first, to give forewarning to the wicked of the pure and perfect justice awaiting us in the world to come, which otherwise none would glimpse, and, second, likewise, to give hope to the innocent.
What heavenly justice would reward to man are called his rights. Because they are bestowed on man, not due to our deserving, but only because all men by nature bear the marks of our Maker, these are called natural rights. Man is rational and creative, a living creature who thinks and speaks, blessed with volition and conscience and moral worth, and whose life, created by the Divine Power, is sacrosanct. With this moral worth comes moral duties not to be escaped, and which cannot be alienated: to love God and to love our neighbors, and, for the Christian, to love as well our very enemies.
To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men by the mandate of heaven, and which cannot long endure absent the consent of the governed. A Christian peoples can justly withdraw their fealty to prince ruling over them, if that prince, by repeated acts of tyranny, defies the heavenly source of his own lawful authority. It is for this reason that Christians, otherwise obligated to obey Caesar in all things, are obligated contrariwise to defy him, should he command divine honors paid to himself.
As with princes, so with republics, should they grow corrupt enough to undo the moral authority on which they rest, and command ungodliness.
The greatest, if not the sole, innovation of the art of politics was to devise means for the governed to check, hinder, and even withdraw the allegiance from an unlawful or ungodly prince. The Magna Carta of England, the Common Law evolved by an independent judiciary, and the Constitution of the United States in America are the paramount examples of this innovation in action; both were made feasible by the constitution of the Roman Commonwealth, which practiced, for many generations, a separation of powers, and a tradition of checks and balances between their various public magistrates, tribunes, assemblies, senators and consuls.
Democracy is the enemy of a well ordered republic just as much as Tyranny; no man who is unchecked and untrammeled in his office can be trusted, be he one or be they many. The death of Socrates is the example of a democracy trampling the rights of the individual; the crucifixion of Christ is the example of an empire.
Civilization is for liberty.
We civilize, thirdly, to protect our honor.
Man is mortal, and wishes not his good works on earth to be forgotten after his death, nor for his progeny to perish. In life, we have an animadversion to slander and libel, which wounds not only our reputation, but also friendships, business interests, and prospects. We live not for ourselves only, but to earn the good will of those whose opinions we respect.
A hermit has no such concerns. He lives for God alone, and has neither loved ones, children, neighbors, guests, friends, patrons, or customers to please. In civilization, laws and customs must be organized to reward or punish virtue and vice not just in private, but as a matter of public record, spoken and shared in the market place as in the salon, among the wise as among the gossip, nor should any man in the public eye, politician or entertainer, be cheated of the applause due him.
Most importantly, warriors must gain a reputation to cheer the hearts of allies, and strike terror into the enemy, and the leaders, likewise, must gain reputations for fairmindedness in peacetime, and fortitude in war.
One of the reasons men dwell in communities is not for the protection of their bodies and their gathered wealth, but for all the imponderable things that make life worth living: why else erect monument to heroes, grant medals to soldiers, name public buildings after statesmen, and have recourse in a court of law against slander and libel?
Despite what you may have heard, love of gold is not the sole motive for all human action, nor is it the sole passion driving men to make the sacrifices needed to create and maintain civilization, and to keep it civilized.
Again, it is for this reason that all our names for honorable and honored things of the king’s court or dwelling in the city, words like courteous, courtly, civil, urbane, gentlemen and so on, deal with the practice of benevolent speaking and forms of mutual honor and dignity, whereas the word we use for the undignified and dishonorable are rustic: vulgar, churlish, refer to the commoner and the peasant, the word loutish refers to the act of bowing to a superior, and even our word for villain springs from the same root as our word for villager.
We gather in cities, at first, to protect ourselves from marauders, and, second, we adopt laws to protect ourselves from kings, but, third, we adopt niceties of speech and ceremonial gestures, as when an Englishman tips his hat or a Chinaman bows, as part of what we want from civilized life.
We gather in cities to get good manners, or, more to the point, not merely for the physical benefit of safety from attack or safety from tyranny, but for the imponderable and spiritual benefit of communion, fellowship, friendship, neighborliness. Vulgarity and discourtesy and signs of disrespect and hate make such benefits difficult or impossible.
Civilization is for civility.
We civilize to benefit from the specialization of labor.
This point is too obvious to dwell on. In nomadic tribal life, each family produces it own rude garments and stone-tipped weapons, each man is soldier, huntsman, herdsman, priest, and make his own tents or weapons, each woman is butcher and cook and seamstress, and all do all the tasks as nature suits, and elders with long memories serve as leaders or as wisemen to a younger and vigorous war-chief. The wretched nakedness, filth, disease, poverty, uncertainty, and brutality of such short lives is frequently overlooked or downplayed by civilized men idly dreaming of noble savages.
In civilization the unequal talents granted each man are allow to flower, and by trading his bounty in one thing to supply his neighbors’ wants in return for their bounty where he is wanting, genius flourishes and wealth abounds. This cannot be done if there is no reasonable expectation of return on investment: no peasant plants when raiders or, worse, rulers, will carry off the fruits. Nor can such expectations be reasonable without clear boundaries of realty and property, so that the private ownership of goods is sacrosanct, and protected by the force and terror of the law.
From the village blacksmith to the rocket scientist is merely the slow, continual steps of what planting crops and establishing boundary lines, and writing the laws on a monument in the public square, or a scroll in the king’s house, will eventuate. Such is all the science of economics in a word.
Civilization is for prosperity.
Finally, we cooperate in civilization so that we can sing.
We poets are commissioned by the muse, or by the heavenly power who sends her, with four tasks: as fools, we are to create laughter to those afflicted by tears or tedium with our antic wit; as bards, to create tears of pride by recalling the deeds of greatness of the honored dead; as fabulists, to create inspiration in the youth with examples of manly courage and maidenly chastity and mother wit, and to remind the world that this world is not the only one there is; as psalmists, to glorify the wisdom of sages and piety of saints; and, in all things, to laud heaven.
And all this, too, is part of politics, since the ruling of a city cannot be true unless the hearts of the people are true. Hence it is not uncouth for the Crown to grant a poet laurels, and perhaps a gift of butt of wine, paid from the public coffers, if he annually composes odes to the glory of the realm.
Such things cultivate culture. Civilization is for art.
I hope I can be pardoned for taking so long to define the nature and purpose of civilization, if it allows me to say in a word the nature and purpose of politics. Politics is the art of cultivating culture. It is the study of how best for man to domesticate man.
Those one-dimensional thinkers who reduce all politics to economics, look only at the laws and customs that cultivate prosperity without looking to the laws and customs that cultivate the other benefits of civilization, as security, liberty, civility, prosperity, culture.
It needs but a cursory inspection of the words and actions of the Leftwing enemy of civilization, here called Narcissists, to see that their so-called political movement is nothing of the kind.
No actual policies or behaviors, no suggested laws or regulations have anything to do with the security, liberty, civility, prosperity, or beauty of a nation or community. Indeed, upon inspection, each major policy proposal directly opposes these aims.
To examine every policy proposed by the Left is beyond the scope of this column, and would volumes to expose. Here, the briefest summary must serve:
Open borders eliminates security; defunding the police while abolishing gun ownership eliminates liberty; censorship and cancel culture eliminates civility; the Green New Deal, socialized medicine, free tuition eliminates prosperity; and the use of art and entertainment as “woke” propaganda eliminates turns art to rubbish — which is where this inquiry began.
These programs and others have political ramifications, no doubt, but the proposals are not political. Politics, by its very definition, is a practical art, aimed at achieving the ends here described. The programs of the Narcissists would be the same, and are the same, whether they lead to a given result, or lead to the opposite result.
To return to our examples, the abolition of borders is meant to abolish racism, which is wrongthink; abolishing gun ownership is meant to force all citizens to rely on the police for self-protection, while defunding the police eliminates that possibility; the Green New Deal is the pretense that nature conservation is impossible without socialism; socialism is the pretense that alms to the poor is impossible without totalitarianism; political correctness is the pretense that any opposition to totalitarianism is hence hatred of the poor is hence racism is hence wrongthink. Political correctness , hence, is fascism disguised as courtesy.
Eliminating wordcrime will eliminate wrongthink, which will create utopia; thought-policing is needed to enforce political correctness. Art and entertainment are tools of thought-policing.
The reason why none of these policies or proposals are political is twofold. First, they are anti-political, that is, they perform the exact opposite of the aim of politics in that they abolish civilization, liberty, honor, prosperity, beauty, and any other benefits of human communal life. Second, they are unpolitical in that they are spiritual.
Wrongthink is the secular version of original sin. The Narcissist, being self absorbed, is godless, and so does not deem the gardens of paradise to be lost due to Fallen Man’s disobedience to God. Man is not fallen in the secular view, he is merely not yet evolved and educated sufficiently.
To the secular mind, the paradise is not a lost yesterday, but a promised tomorrow. To the secular mind, education is eucharist, education is salvation, education eliminates wrongthink. To eliminate wrongthink is to redeem original sin, to perfect nature, and to open the pearly gates of Utopia.
All we need do, so the secular thinking goes, is lure, educate, program, or force minds to correct thought, and all human evils will vanish away as softly and suddenly as one who meets a snark, when the snark is a boojam. And, of course, this never works, because the mind cannot be forced. And, of course, this never works, because men sin as we love evil, not because we lack knowledge.
This might be a sad, amateurish, and ersatz mock-theology, or it might be the opiate of the intellectuals, or it might be a vision from the New Jerusalem as seen in the Looking Glass World of Alice.
But be it mockery or opium or vision, it is not a political movement.
Strictly speaking, religion is the ritualized mystical or theological communion, appeasement, supplication, praise, and adoration of a the sovereign power or powers behind fate and nature. All religion, even the most primitive, is by its nature sacramental, since it involves seen hence present signs of unseen and transcendent realities.
All religion is aware, either dimly or acutely, of the dissatisfaction and deep melancholy of the human condition.
Suppose you met an Alien from Mars, a creature as rational as Man, but as mortal as he. Martians are rational but heartless and cold, and have no craving for beauty, nor understanding of it, any more than a beast. Suppose again that the Martian culture, over countless centuries, had accumulated many factual accounts or reports of past events, and even included factually-grounded speculations into future events, but all these reports were composed for the sake of accuracy and clarity. He tells no fictions. He spins no stories, makes no make-believe, utters no epic poems.
Such things, or so the Alien says, neither increase the survival rate, nor the fertility rate of his people, nor increase their prosperity, productiveness, nor military power. They produce nothing of material use.
Again, suppose you met an Angel, a purely intellectual being, as divine hence immortal, a being whose thought process operates by what we call intuition, grasping whole truths at once, with no laborious discursive reasoning necessary, had no need of recited reports or accounts of past deeds, because angels can gather, at a glance, any information needed about any situation, past or future, by gazing into the Divine Countenance, and gaining immediate revelation. To be sure, the angel sings songs of praise, but he tells no fictions. He tells no tales, nor hungers for them.
Such things, or so the angel reveals, are not meant for his order of being, which is not tied to material bodies with physical sensations. Being purely spiritual, his order has no need of such things. They feast on substance, and need not concern themselves which shadows, types, or images.
Neither dark nor distance can deceive angelic eyes, for they see by faith, not by light, hence angels have no imagination, no faculty for interpreting images. This means likewise they have no faculty decomposing an image into elements or part, and rearranging the parts into new forms: as when heads of goat and snake are placed on the lion to create a chimera, or adorn the unicorn with horn, or sphinx with wings, or wax in size or wane to create giant or dwarf, adding heads or hands to create Cerberus or Briareus.
The angel himself is most nonplussed by images of men with wings, adorned in Roman garb, wearing crowns of light, and bearing harp or sword — his order of being could indeed manifest in such an apparition if a superabundance of charity required his work to be done before the eyes of men. Those of his order could appear as wheels within wheels, or fiery thornbushes, or winged living creature filled with eyes, but of the angel’s own nature, he neither has, no needs, any image to show to the imagination. Likewise, he need neither invent, nor tell, fictional stories.
The reason for angelic indifference to poetical imaginings is not far to seek. God’s face, which is the fountainhead and summit of all beauty, proportion, and harmony in the universe, is naked and immediate to them. Praise indeed they sing, to glorify the vision, as the looking glass casts light back to the light.
It would be odd indeed if the bridegroom, with his young bride on his knee, his arm around her trim waist, instead of kissing her, studied her love letters and the photo in his locket. None need yearn for images, by and large, when the thing itself is at hand.
It is not so for Man. Theologians reason that, since we are sensual beings, and our sense will be sharper after Judgment Day, for we then wear glorified bodies: radiant, agile, subtle, impassible. The damned in the fiery lake perhaps will feel the pains more clearly than our current, mundane nerves could convey; and, likewise, the glories and pleasures known to the blessed souls in paradise.
Socrates, perhaps, wished for a disembodied existence in the next life, and craved to be a wandering mind without a body; but the Christian is promised life and life more abundantly.
It is not a risky speculation to suppose that in the next life, where all our nature, here flawed, there perfected, shall be perfect in the objects of its senses as well. Where flourish the forests and fountains and gardens of God, the trees whose leaves heal nations, past whose roots the living waters flow, which spring from the emerald-rainbow halo’d throne shining midmost in a city whose streets are gold, whose gates are pearl, and whose foundations are twelve courses of gems and shining stones, all the pleasures of taste and scent and touch, hearing and sight, will be fulfilled to overflowing with the promised feast-wine and holy incense fumes, the touch of wind and warmth and the hands and embraced of long lost loved ones, the glory of song as all the stars raise voice in psalm, the sight of endless visions, each more glorious than the last.
A man could stare at a single leaf plucked from a tree in paradise for a thousand years, and see more beauty in it, as learn more pleasure, nor would his eye grow weary.
But here on earth, the rose has thorns, the tree is blighted, the woods burn, the towers crumble, and the eye that stares steadfastly at the sun sees but so much light, and no more, ere blindness falls.
So, what is it that makes Man different from hypothetical Aliens and unseen Angels?
Just this: from the Eskimo in the artic ice to the Hottentot in tropic heat, from the caveman of yesterday to the spaceman of tomorrow, all men not only make tools, but adorn them. The earliest trace of man includes his paintings and handprints on cavern walls. Archeology finds rocks carefully carved, not merely into useful spearpoints or hand-axes, but into pregnant images of fertile female forms. These may be idols or fetishes, or works of magic art, but they certainly are works of art.
Whether or not we can live without art is not known, because it has never been attempted. The physically ugliest, least beautiful, and most artless society ever to burden the Earth, the Soviet Union, mimicked the Spartans in abolishing architecture and poetry from among them. But even the Spartans marched to war to the sound of recorder, combed and adorned their hair before combat, and wrote Laconic epitaphs above their gaves. And even the Soviets, when making heavy-handed propaganda films, such as Alexander Nevsky, photographed it artfully, and adorned it with the soundtrack by Prokofiev. (In this case, the artistic merit of the film is so great, that the heavy-handed propaganda is overshined, and might pass unseen.)
Only when seen in contrast with the minds of Martians or Angels is the strangeness of the mind of man in this regard made clear.
A crescent, such as might adorn the flag of South Carolina, would not look like a moon to an angel, because grasping the perfect essence of the lunar heavenly body is not the same as seeing the light-image of a sphere whose brighter hemisphere is partly turned away from the viewer. Nor would a white pentagram, as seen on the national flag, seem anything like the vast nuclear furnaces in outer space we call stars, nor does the closest star, seen close at hand, which we call the sun, resemble the red disk pictured on the battleflag of Japan. These shapes, crescent, pentagram, and circle, are two dimensional representations which we humans in our imagination liken to the appearance of these objects in heaven.
And as with images, so, too, with words: each word or phrase when used not in its literal sense, each image or likeness in poetry or rhetoric, each metaphor or simile, is selected by the imagination.
Men are separated from truth, and try to bridge the gap with words or images. We grasp the phenomena of the material world only through the senses, which the faculty of the imagination passes to the memory in an abstract form; and we grasp ideas, concepts, forms, abstractions, and imponderable things thought the use of words and symbols.
The humble beast, whose brains hold instinctive or learned reflexes, but not symbols, is nobler than man, whose gift of speech gives him the power of falsehood. No dog, no cat, no elephant nor ape has ever told a lie, sworn an oath falsely, nor perjured itself. Likewise, angels, if the conclusions of theologians are correct, grasp by pure intuition what is communicated to them by pure revelation: only when communing or communicating with man, can angel or falling angel assume the aspect of a lying spirit, or deceive the heathen oracles.
Much ink has been spilled about the nature of truth, nor is the matter clear in every aspect. However, the core is clear enough that Aristotle could express the concept in words of one syllable: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.” (Metaphysics, 1011b25)
However, the matter becomes murky when to say of what is, what it is like and to say in what way it is like it, is not false, even if it is not literally true. Indeed, in such figures and likenesses are truths captured which cannot otherwise be caught in words.
A literal description of acts of prayer or death or love, for example, either become clinical or crude, so much so that the words become a matter for laughter. A poem can depict a beautiful nude, such as Eve depicted in Milton’s Paradise Lost, but a literal description would be either medical or pornographic.
|She, as a veil, down to the slender waist
|Her unadornèd golden tresses wore
|Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved
|As the vine curls her tendrils; which implied
|Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
|And by her yielded, by him best received,
|Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
|And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
* * * * *
|So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight
|Of God or angel; for they thought no ill:
|So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair,
|That ever since in love’s embraces met:
|Adam the goodliest man of men since born
|His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Again, in Alan Moore’s gnostic comic book Watchman, the chilling loss of humanity of Dr. Manhattan, one of the characters, is depicted adroitly by one line: “A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally there’s no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts.”
The great difference between literal and figurative truth is that the literal can be proved and confirmed, even to a skeptic, whereas no figure of speech can be proved to be an apt or insightful parallel, can be proved to be beautiful and right and made in due proportion, to closed ears. Facts can force admission. Poetry must persuade.
It is precisely for this reason that the Narcissists, as part of the pretense of all things done to escape the truth, pretends that truth itself is pretense. One of the favored tactics of the Narcissists is to pretend to all truths are stories, that is, called narratives, and that nothing is literal because all is metaphor.
Like all things said by the Narcissists, it is an untruth. There is a kernel of truth in this lie, of course, as there is in any persuasive lie. A pure lie, if there could be such a thing, would be entirely divorced from reality at every point. It would be a flight of fancy, like nonsense words written by Dr. Seuss to amuse children.
So, here. The Narcissist talk of ‘narratives’ is not a pure lie. Even a very literal word or phrase contains an element of metaphor, if only the metaphorical likenesses which creates the abstraction words or symbols represent. The difference is that literal words or phrases are not selected by art, that is, no craftsmanship is involved, but instead a lawyerly precision where each word is defined to have a technical meaning and no other. Science itself, in that sense, is a poetry, because it likens symbols to objects, but the symbols are stripped of any emotional meaning, and become, in the purest form, merely quantities with no other properties but the proportions expressed in formulae.
Gravity, at it turns out, is directly proportional to mass and proportion in the inverse square to distance; but then again, it is also true, albeit less literally true, that my love is like a red, red rose newly sprung in June.
Robert Burns promises his true love that his love will remain true till all the seas run dry, which, taken literally, his love will last over 1.1 billion years, which is the time science estimates increased solar activity will evaporate all surface moisture not subducted into the mantle, as future Earth becomes a cloudy hellscape like current Venus.
But we are not meant to take the sentence literally. The poet means he vows to remain faithful forever. Likewise, when likening a girl to a rose, he does not mean she is a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa. He means she is delicate and perfumed and soft and fair and pink and voluptuous, dewy-fresh and young as springtime, and he means all the imponderable things brought to mind by the image of a red, red rose.
The metaphor brings the connotations of the first word or phrase to the object being considered, without bringing the denotation. Denotation is literal meaning. Connotation is nonliteral meaning.
I trust that is the not controversial to say that some metaphors are true, in that they display a truth that otherwise cannot be aptly expressed literally, whereas others are false.
Euphemisms and smear-words are one-word poems, where the evil or unsightly thing is given a neutral name, or even a flattering one, as when death is called ‘passing away’ – which is done to spare delicate feelings, or when perverts are called ‘gay’ — which is done to make the unnatural seem unremarkable. Far, far more common are smear-words, that is, words meant to make normal things seem gross or base or cruel. These have to be coined by intellectuals, since the common man has too much common sense to call good things by bad names: cisgendered and heteronormative.
Some are merely insults, meant to insult, as when “A.D.” and “B.C.” are removed from scholarly works, and, without changing the year number or reckoning of dates, the abbreviation is changed to “C.E.” and “B.C.E” – merely because the Christ-haters cannot tolerate to refer to Our Lord, even indirectly.
Suppose an employee is called a ‘wage-slave’ because his ability to get paid for his labor and his lack of legal barrier to find other work from another employer is being likened to the coerced labor of a slave, who suffers under a legal barrier to disobey or depart from his master. This is a false metaphor, a misleading metaphor, a wicked metaphor. It is meant to deceive.
A wicked metaphor hides the truth. A good metaphor illumes the truth and illuminates the truth.
A brilliant metaphor, like all works of art inspired of genius, can be returned to again and again, with more insights to be gleamed each time: for example, the Parable of the Prodigal Son is less than a paragraph. As a story, it has nothing but structure in its craftsmanship. It is an absolutely minimal tale: not a word could be removed without damaging the whole. And yet there is no character who is named nor described, nothing but the barest bones of an act of repentance, and a moment of jealousy, and the reaction of a father to both.
Likewise, the myth of Orpheus, while it can be elaborated upon and extended, need not be. It can be said in a single breath, and can bring a tear to the eye nonetheless. But neither is the meaning of the myth exhausted after a single recitation.
Like the joys of spring or the gloom of winter, these myths are both eternal and eternally newborn.
On the other hand, there is many a cheap boy’s adventure yarn or murder mystery or lurid romance novel, which are perfectly enjoyable to read as a pastime, but which are unrewarding to reread. Like cotton candy, the pleasure is quickly exhausted, and offers no lasting nourishment to the soul. The main appeal of such hackwork craft is that few demands are made on the reader, because the reader is making few demands on the writer: all the reader asks is a serviceable story, cobbled together in a workmanlike fashion, according to a mutually understood formula, which will beguile a few hours on a lazy afternoon.
Ironically, some of the adventure yarns meant only to beguile an afternoon also are touched by the genius of myth, and an granted immortality removed from their original first story, so that Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, Zorro, Tarzan of the Apes, Conan the Barbarian, Superman, Batman, and the Dorothy Gale of Oz, appear in so many sequels by so many authors and in so many media, have a life of their own, just as Prometheus or King Arthur or Robin Hood did in times long past.
The contrast between myths and yarns is mentioned here only to emphasize the difference between inspired and uninspired art, and, in turn, this is done only to say what art is. Being an author, I will confine my remarks to the craft I know, and leave it to others to say how, if at all, these remarks apply to music, dance, sculpture, painting, architecture, or other visual or plastic arts.
By seeing what inspired art has more of, and uninspired less, we can see what the thing itself is.
First, it must be timeless. A poem or book must be as relevant the generations of today as it was and will be to those of yesterday and tomorrow, including those eternal themes, common to mankind, which reach across cultural and civilizational boundaries.
Second, it must be deep, and reward countless re-readings.
Third – and this is the most difficult to qualify – a work of art, to be art, must be great, that is, it must touch upon the great ideas and themes, the timeless truths, to which other artists throughout the years have touched upon.
A genius who makes a work for himself, in a corner, arising from no tradition, and not meant to be passed to any posterity, is not making a work of art: it is, at best, an idiosyncratic work, like a diary, or like the notebook of a hermit psychiatrist examining himself.
If the stories of Cain and Abel, Romeo and Juliet, Frodo and the One Ring, and so on, had nothing to say about brotherhood and jealousy, love and family, simplicity and temptation, except as related to their specific events, and the specific people involved, with no tradition to connect them to any other like events or themes, they would not be art: they would be newspaper reports, and very bad ones, because the events are either antediluvian or imaginary.
The Great Books of Western Literature form, as if it were, a conversation between the greatest minds of the ages, for their words answer, rebuke, question, confirm, correct or expand the words of great predecessors. Art, in this limited sense, is a communal effort.
If the work has no observation, and says nothing whatever about the nature of angels nor animals, aristocracy or democracy, art and beauty, astronomy and cosmology, being, cause, chance and change, citizens and subjects and slaves, courage, custom and convention, desire, dialectic, duty and liberty, God and devil, good and evil, government, men and women, memory and imagination, sign and symbol, tyranny and despotism, universal and particular, virtue and vice, war and peace, or any of the other great issues that great minds have been discussing for the greater part of Western history, then it is not art properly so called. At best, it is decoration. It can be pretty, but not beautiful.
And, again, one is not to be fooled by that snobbishness which says these great ideas are known only to the esoteric.
No man is a poet alone because no man invents his own vocabulary of images and ideas any more than he invents his own private language, used only to speak from himself to himself.
Sadly, some have tried. Ulysses by James Joyce may have touched on some of these great ideas, if only to mock and etiolate them, and no man can understand the work. But even something as silly and straightforward as Spiderman touches on the themes of power and responsibility, and it is a living rebuke to the Riddle of Gyges’ Ring posed to Socrates in Plato’s Republic, when he is asked whether justice is nothing more than the compromise between the sorrow of victimization and the delight of victimizing. The simple comic book agrees with the philosopher, that it is better to do good, even when seen as evil, than to do evil while being seen as good.
Likewise, the fairytale of Cinderella touches on the same theme as a the Canticle of St. Mary: He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
We now can see what art is for: to express truths than can only be fitly expressed in poetry, not literally. We now should be able to deduce why to humans need it, and not aliens nor angels.
On the Nature of Man
Here is man: in this life we all sin, despite knowing sinlessness is better; where we all suffer, despite days and seasons of joy; and we all learn, sooner or later, that what we yearn for most in life is not found in life. We all know death inevitable, and we all know it is nonetheless a shocking abomination, somehow unnatural to human nature.
And we all have seen ghosts, or know someone who has.
The first thing to note about the human condition is that life on earth is ultimately intolerable and unendurable, despite the many worldly pleasures, victories, joys, and blessings showered upon even the least of us. Pleasures fail. Victories sour. Beauty fades. Fame flees. Friends depart or die, and false friends betray. Death comes unto all, rich and poor, high and low, nor does he spare the scholar for his learning, the soldier for his bravery, the priest for his piety, the judge for his probity. The fair of face is not spared for her beauty, nor is the child for its innocence, the sober for his temperance, the stoic for his fortitude, the wise for his prudence, the almsgiver for his charity, nor any for any cause. Even Lazarus, who stepped out of the grave after three days, in his old age, when his days were full, returned to it.
In sum, we humans know that this world is not all there is, and it not suited for us. We all know or suspect that we are exiles here, and that our true home is otherwise.
We all know that there are beauties that are invisible, found in such things as justice. To make them visible, we erect statues of fair goddesses with sword and balance-scales in hand, blindfolded against partisanship or favoritism. To Hope we give an anchor, and to Liberty a burning torch, and so on.
It is not enough merely to say that virtue is its own reward. The cold statement by itself will not stir the heart: we must tell the myth of Gyges and his magic ring, and then read the comic book about a boy who dresses like a red, white, and blue spider, and fights crime.
It is not enough to say that heaven forgives the faithless and remembers the faithful: we must hear the parable of the prodigal son.
It is not enough to read Shelby Foote to know the Civil War. The historian will only tell you facts. You must also read Red Badge of Courage and Gone with the Wind.
Mortal men, exiled on Earth, need stories where justice triumphs, virtue is rewarded, and evil dragons slain by bold knights, only because this happens so rarely on Earth, and sometimes we forget that things go otherwise in our true home in heaven. Likewise, we need stories of tragedies and turmoil and the Twilight of the Gods, because sometimes the dragon wins, and we need reminders of what sorrows dwell in the Vale of Tears, to warn of dangers and remind us of what is at stake.
And many a poet will boldly claim to make the beauty of the fair maiden or the boldness of the brave hero immortal, fated to be sung for generations to come, because this is one small way we mortals have to defy the tyranny of time and entropy, decay, and dust.
Monument, museums, and establishing new feast days likewise defy time, but those need statesmen, not poets, to commission.
The poet’s claim to grant immortal memory is not literally true, for literal truth is not the poet’s business, but it does remind us of the realm where perfect justice rules and reigns, where the Omnipotent sees all deeds, and forgets none.
Worldly fame is a vanity, but it is also a shadow or type of that true and immortal laud, the only laud worth seeking, from a Lord who forgets none and flatters none: well done my good and faithful servant.
Men Tell Tales
A story is a fictional creation, ergo it must be logical without being true. Logic means to be consistent with one’s own premise. True means consistent with reality.
A story premise is false to facts but must retain logic, i.e., internal consistency. Morality is logic applied to ethically significant deliberate action. Hence, morality is unconditional and universal. For this reason, an Aesop story about talking animals has a moral applicable to reality.
God creates truth, but bound by His own loving nature, will not act against that nature nor remove the secondary causes from the world He made. He will not violate the logic of the world, nor deviate from His own self-consistency.
God’s loving nature is just and merciful in an absolute way human wit cannot circumvallate, even if human awe can bow to it. This means the divine nature is moral, and therefore the moral order of the universe is built into the very fabric of the universe. It is inescapable. The story told by God, which is the story of all cosmic history, including that tiniest of grace notes played out here on Earth in the smallest corner of the symphony, must lead to a just and merciful hence happy ending.
But not every story within the whole need be so: the tale of the passion and crucifixion of Christ is a tragedy as moving as anything written by Aeschylus or Euripides, nor is it made less perfect a work of myth and art merely because it happens also to be literally true. That story, if told on Good Friday, ends there, and that is not a happy ending. Likewise, for the tales of Eve and the Serpent, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife, and on and on. All human history is marred by sin, and all is tragic. But it is always moral, some times, too moral for enjoyment as a story.
Men make fictions.
We do this because we are made in the image and likeness of our Maker, and, like Him, we must make. Also like him, built into human nature, is a faculty which is to art what the faculty of the conscience is to morality. It must be trained and refined, but it cannot be concocted out of nothing. We might call this faculty the Aesthetic Sense, or, to use a simpler term, Good Taste.
Fictions are false but must be self consistent to be good fiction. The setting, characters, and events can be fictional in part or in whole, but the rules of human action stay the same.
Even if a writer invents the wildest fantasy taking place in Oz or Middle Earth or Narnia, or the poet gives a magic ring to Gyges, or to Siegfried, or to Frodo Baggins, in order for the story to be good, indeed, in order for the story to be a story at all, the rules of human action, including the moral rules, must reflect the realities here in the world we know, including, if it comes up, what little we know about the world after this one.
Hence the fiction must be moral.
The Aesop’s fable about Androcles and the Lion, would not just be a bad story, but a false one, if the lion returned the favor of Androcles removing the thorn from its paw by eating him: otherwise the sense of relief when the good deed, despite all common expectation, is rewarded rather than punished, cannot be present, and the story has no point, hence is no story.
Even in a cynical version of the tale meant to mock it, as perhaps one might see in a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, in order to be a story, some other element must be added, such as the presumption and indifference of Androcles, who take the lion’s forbearance for granted, and so is ironically cheated of his overweening ingratitude.
The pattern we see endlessly repeated in all of these ‘woke’ or clumsy retellings of well established franchises is of stories where, not some peripheral element is changed, but a core element, and it is an element that changes the story to a non-story.
In a moral story, virtue is rewarded, or, if virtue is tragically cheated of any earthly recognition or reward, it must be shown to be its own reward.
But the worldview of the Narcissist says this is not so: only power is rewarded. The powerful, according to the “narrative” of the Wokescolds, use seemingly innocent and civilized legal and social institutions, such as law courts or marriage customs, only the cheat the unwary and maintain the unjust power of the tyrant class.
In the fantasy world of Cloudcuckooland, nothing is earned, nothing is won by merit, and all honors, rewards, good and services, both material and imponderable, naturally are distributed evenly and evenhandedly by the blind forces of nature, who is all benevolent and exactingly precise in passing out equal lots. The only reason, therefore, why inequality arises, or why men differ from women, is due to the injustice inherent in civilization. Monogamy, rather than protecting women, victimize them with hurtful stereotypes, and rob them of power; and private property victimizes the have-nots in favor of the haves. And so on for every conceivable division the imagination of sickminded men can invent.
Everything, every difference, every trait, is an injustice, because everyone oppresses everyone: men hate women, white hate blacks, chaste hate perverts, decent folk hate freaks and cross-dressers, hale hate cripples, and sudden Hottentot and Eskimo are evil words never to be uttered, as is the phrase ‘sexual preference.’
To correct this injustice, the Enemy takes stories which uphold the moral order of the universe, or which celebrate the accomplishments of our culture or the glories or sorrows of our history, and use them as a platform instead to complain about … well, that is hard to say. The pathological narcissism which afflicts so many in this enemy camp makes it seem as if they have nothing to complain about, save a sense of injured merit. They feel they deserve the unearned, that the merit the unmerited, for so jealousy says. In effect, whatever is the injustice of which they seem to complain, upon close examination, they are complaining about God, and their thwarted desire to raise themselves above it.
The basic complaint from all this worldview is that the rewards in life have been showered upon the evil undeservingly. Now, I have no objection to this complaint, for it is clearly the case in every land and generation. But then the complaint takes a further step, and says that the is no truth, only narrative, therefore there is no objective moral code, only sentiment and prejudice promoted by social or personal bias, therefore no justice, and no deserving. Hence the cry of the Narcissist is not Robin Hood’s motto, which seeks to amend the injustice of an unfair and fraudulent taxation by returning to the poor what rightfully is their own; no.
Narcissists see wealth, and all other forms of honor and dignity, rank and status, as being meaningless, the product of moral chaos. Hence, in their world, it is unfair to award the gold medal to the fastest runner in the race, unless the slowest gets on also, nor should a man be sexually attracted, in the normal and natural way, to a fair young maiden who delights his eye, unless he is a likewise also attracted, in an abnormal and unnatural way, to a pervert in drag wearing lipstick. To them, property is theft, and discriminating between right and wrong, worthy and unworthy, is a hate crime.
Unlike Oz and Narnia and Middle Earth, the make-believe world of Cloudcuckooland has no moral truth in it and hence no truth. No stories can be set there, only fantasies about revenge and retaliation. There can be no character development in a world of moral chaos, because the hero can never learn better: there is no better to learn in a world of gray and perfect equality, where all forms of better and worse are banished.
Likewise, there can be no setting nor props in such a world, since neither history or human events operate according to any logic. If there are skyscrapers in Manhattan and not in Greenland, by Narcissist logic, this cannot be due to any difference between the cultures and civilizations, the knowledge and drive and laws and customs and religion, not to mention the climate and location and natural resources, differentiating the Viking settlers of Greenland and the Dutch in New Amsterdam.
And, again, a plot requires such things as better and worse, fortuitous and unfortuitous, wise and foolish actions and events, and requires different results to spring from different events. But, according to Narcissist logic, to portray, let us say, Captain Picard as an able and forceful military leader would be to flatter a White man, which cannot be allowed, but if a Black female military leader used rational logic and was punctual and did other things condemned a “Acting White” this likewise would insult primitive cultures and laud White culture, which again cannot be allowed.
The idiot simplicity of the Narcissist worldview is that sinner and saints can be determined at a glance, by group identity. The merit or demerit of individual action need never be consulted. IN terms or story telling, this means the sinners never can have any virtues, not even to be honorable nor brave foes, because this flatters them, whereas to portray any flaws in the saints, would be to undermine the cause.
Art tells truths in nonliteral ways. The Narcissist tells lies, and cannot even dress them up to be pretty.
Earlier, we noted that every falsehood, to be persuasive, must contain a kernel of truth. A propaganda film supporting communism, for example, cannot present mass-expropriation, mass-falsehood, and mass-murder as just and good, for they are not, but can present the enemies of Russia as cruel and hypocritical villains, and hold up the courage and camaraderie of the heroes as admirable, because courage and camaraderie are admirable (merely, in this case of propaganda, assigned or attached to the wrong camp, or the wrong idea.)
But the anti-stories listed in the opening of this essay are not propaganda, because they are not good enough. They were, apparently, attempts to write entertaining fiction, entertainment for the sake of entertainment, merely taking place in the morally chaotic world of Political Correctness, where truth is not true.
In such a world, heroism itself is suspect. Neither heroics nor saintliness will flatter the ego of narcissus. If anything, seeing a chaste or brave man will make Narcissus wroth, because to raise his eyes in admiration of someone braver or holier than he, means he must take his eyes from his reflection.
Narcissus pines for embraces he can never feel. Likewise, the Socialist pines for a utopia that can never exist. The woke seek to eliminate racism by encouraging racism, and therefore are forever frustrated of their goals, if goals they have. All the works of Lucifer are pride, and all pride is vanity.
Hence Narcissus can only be flattered by being told he is a victim, because being a victim is the only thing that makes the kind turn an eye and bend and ear toward you, which requires no effort on your part, aside from the effort of concocting your whines and complaints.
So, no heroics in such tales, and also, no heroic actions. For the same reason, there can be death and suffering, but never tragic death and suffering, that is, the bad result cannot be the result of an evil flaw in an otherwise great and noble figure, because, in the looking glass of Narcissus, there is no cause and effect, no identity, any more than to the cat trapped in Schroedinger’s box, neither alive nor dead.
And, finally, the point of a Narcissist story is not to tell a story. They wish for the opposite.
The point is to take an already established story, and swap out whatever makes the hero heroic, and award his honors to a token selected precisely for her lack of merit. Thus, we have the spectacle of villainously selfish and unjust heroines forced into the uniforms and names of heroic heroes, and then declared to be heroes, without ever the writer inventing or portraying a single heroic act for the heroine to do. It is stolen valor.
This bait-and-switch behavior of putting villains in the shoes of heroes and then calling the audience bigoted when we are unimpressed and not entertained, is seen more blatantly in the superhero comics currently being deconstructed into oblivion by the woke mobs, but it can be found in any genre or medium where the Narcissists feel bold enough to act openly.
Poets are mad because our office is to use falsehoods to tell the truth: but we must tell the truth. We can tell both the sad truths about man and nature, as in tragedies, or happy truths, as in comedies, but we cannot tell falsehoods.
Keep in mind, to be a true story, we do not here mean that the stories must be “realistic” in the sense that a newspaper account is realistic. For example, the conceit of a child raised by apes is absurd, indeed, mythically absurd. But the rest of the story must be truthful given that false premise, and the story be coherent within itself, within its own theme. Hence, Tarzan of the Apes in not an anthropological account of a child raised outside human community. It is a story about the aspirations and hopes of man, namely, that Man was given dominion over nature, and therefor even if raised by beasts, would master them, by mastering himself.
A story about brothers raised by wolves, but who, instead of founding Rome, die of exposure due to lack of fangs and claws, without more to it, is simply not a good story, and not even amusing as gallows humor. It is fundamentally false, even if this is the literal or likely outcome in the real world, precisely because it denies a core truth about human nature.
Why, one might ask, do they not make their own stories about their own characters?
Sadly, they have no story to tell, because they have no nostalgia for the unseen world, which is the source and summit of poetic inspiration, and the point of telling tales.
Narcissists deny moral truth. There is nothing to glorify in their world, because everything is ugly.
Devils mock and mar. They create nothing.
Here, then, is an answer, remarkably simple for a puzzle so deep.
The stories of the Enemy are illogical and immoral because the utopian worldview, the economics of Cockaigne and the psychology of Plato’s Republic, is an illogical worldview, not to mention immoral.
The fictional things said in such stories about male and female relations, or the treatment of minorities, or the relation of child and parent, life and death, man and God, subject and sovereign, citizen and law, and, indeed, all other themes they touch, are simply false things.
They tell false tales falsely.
These are not stories, but anti-stories. They are the opposite of the work of poets. They darken the eye to beauty and bedevil the intellect with pride and confusion. They produce nothing but disgust and anger.
Hence such stories cannot hold the readers’ disbelief in suspension. Such willing non-disbelief requires that the fantasy world, the false-to-facts premise, be self-consistent. No matter how unlikely the stories conceit, the conclusion must follow from it with the consistency of a sum in logic. The world can be false, but the people must be real, that is, give real human reactions to the unreal events.
Enemy stories cannot do so. They can only mock and mar, not speculate, not imagine, not create.
And that is why their stories are so terrible. Their worldview eliminates the roots of what makes story telling good and necessary.
A false tale falsely told cannot be true. Why not? Let us ask a poet for his answer:
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.