Reflection from December 22nd, 2012 @ Age 31
RE: WHEN THE SON OF MY SHEEPISH, ADULT WHITE-SKINNED MALE NEIGHBOR, SCREAMS ON HIS FATHER’S DRIVEWAY BASKETBALL COURT—GIVE **ME** A CHANCE TO SHINE; AND, I THINK TO MYSELF—WELL WELL WELL, **ISN’T** THIS THE MOST PERFECT ANALOGY, FOR OUR LIT-TLE PSYCHO-SOCIOLOGICAL PROBLEM HERE IN AMERICA, ALL WRAPPED UP IN A **NUTSHELL** ;0)
I’m gonna tell you something. It may not be right, or, maybe it is. I don’t care, though; I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that stupid asshole start the new year off with a “fresh” start—when I have absolutely no money, huge medical expenses hanging over my head, a failed marriage because of him, etc., etc. What an asshole.
Fuck him, and his $10,000 offer. Fuck his, “I don’t believe you’re JUSTLY entitled—to what, you are legally entitled to.” Fuck him. He can go to hell for all I fucking care; for, that is where he belongs. I didn’t write that fate for him—he chose it himself.
I hate to be so angry as Christmas looms so near; and, I too, would like to start the New Year fresh. However, I, deemed it necessary that he pay me $30,000 in cash in order to do so—and he, deemed that inappropriate; and, so, here we stand—in a standoff. Ahh well. My asshole attorney said it wasn’t realistic as it were—which I, of course, knew; but, you know me—hoped against hope. Ahh well.
I was just watching “Up All Night” as I was wrapping mom and dad’s presents for under the tree—and this song came on in the background; it’s The Weepies, I think, “The World Spins Madly On.” I haven’t heard that song since way back when I was living here, with my parents before. In fact, not since way back at Lancashire—at the end of law school.
Things are circling around—I can feel it, and know the full circle’s almost round. But I can’t see how, yet; so, I will wait—because there is nothing else, I can do. Well, no—I take that back. I will wait; but, in the meantime—count my blessings. They’re all I’ve got; and, they’re what make this life worth waiting for. Wrap the Christmas presents and count my blessings, here, one by one—one at a time.
It’s difficult to not want to impose my own Will, upon Adam (i.e. torture him for a while—as he tortured me). I know I can’t, and that there’s no use trying. I’m even trying to actively not do so, by keeping from writing him anything further than: “I hope you made it to Peoria okay, and that you have a nice Christmas with your family” (at 4:21pm). I just hate him. Err, rather, I hate what he has done to me. I’m not sure I even quite know what that is, entirely—except that it left me lone and beaten down and almost dead in the hospital, where he left me to die; and yet, I lived, and now here I sit at my stupid desk—wishing I weren’t alone on this Saturday, here, before Christmas. Ahh Christmas…
Not much else to say there, I suppose.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, lately; mostly, what seems to be rather random, and, for the most part, impervious thoughts. I hate to write them down—because I feel I’m in the processing phase; and, to try to write an otherwise incomplete thought down—only lends itself, to my own wretched type of overreaching. I hate that.
I have so many things I could do on my to-do list—notably, at no.1, to get my budget ready for the first of the year. I don’t think I’m in any sort of trouble (fingers crossed); but, I did open a Chase Slate credit card with 0% APR for the first 15-months—including purchase and balance transfers made within the first 60-days of opening the account (for which there is no balance-transfer fee). Sounded like a good idea to me—just waiting to see how Chase fucked me over. They already did once—by, of course, not telling me that I cannot transfer my balance from my Chase Freedom to my Chase Slate. Of course—should have known, right? Ahh well. So, I just paid the Freedom balance—hah. It’s sure freedom, alright.
I keep, believe it or not—thinking of Charity in her big, fat fucking house (still!!). It’s so retarded; I mean, it really rather makes me seem very sick—to myself, even. I hate it. I wondered if she meant this affect; and, I wonder if she knew how long lasting it would be. I wonder how she’s doing, now. I wonder if her husband is emotionally abusive, too. I wonder what it would be like to live in her life—two daughters, two dogs, gorgeous house, nice car, decent husband, alcoholic parents, no family around; locked into a job with an evil bank by, of course, those invisible—yet, altogether impermeable, golden handcuffs. How nice it does seem, still—from the outside. Like the compliments of beauty from younger, years past—still, I feel the butt of the joke.
I wonder if that will ever end. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I wonder if anything will ever take me on my own two-feet, somewhere in life; or, if I am forever beholden to involuntary dependence upon others. I don’t even really know what I mean by that—it just feels good to be writing. I don’t even feel I have a whole lot to say; that’s for surely worthwhile writing, in any case.
I have been wanting to mention, for no other reason than its peculiar nature, that I am absolutely 100% addicted to café lattes right now. It’s so stupid. I spend so much stupid money on stupid lattes, and I know that I am doing it—and how stupid it surely is, and yet, I just keep on right going. My mom said there’re a lot worse things to be addicted to—which was really nice, I thought. Kind of made me feel not so bad. It’s pretty true, of course, too.
I haven’t even updated my budget yet, since the 16th; but, I’m pretty sure, in fact, positive—that I really, just don’t have any money left. Enough to pay my bills, of course; and, thankfully—and I am grateful for that, etc., etc. But, at the same time, it’s still a little depressing—still thinking about April and all her stupid money; though, I now legitimately love her so.
She and John, and all their dough; I wonder what I would think about my life, moving forward—had I known five-years back, where I’d be five-years forward. I wonder if I’d have just committed suicide, right, then and there. Who knows. What’s more—who cares.
All kinds of random things, like I said, going through my mind today. I thought of Rob, today; thought about getting ready and taking a Christmas card over to his front porch—and ringing his doorbell, to see what would happen. Still worried about whether he’d appear with a gun to my head—doubt it; but, it didn’t end up mattering much—as all the further I got was into the shower. Didn’t even dry my hair, although, eventually the air took care of that.
Boy! What a bore I am, tonight!! I thought about going to visit Grandma Varcho at the home, today. But then, it got to be now, which is nearing toward evening—and she really gets batty in the evening, so I don’t want to go. It’s so…
Weird, I guess, going to see her. I kind of hate it—she hardly even looks like herself, anymore. I hate it.
I’ve been going through all my old photographs, and really, all my old shoebox kind of stuff as well—downsizing and whatnot. With the photographs, it’s kind of a nice feeling—getting to choose what memories to keep, which to throw behind. I like that. I like that I get to choose what to keep from my past; and, what I’d just prefer to leave behind. It seems so simple, a concept—I don’t know why it seems like such a novelty, right now, as well.
I don’t really like using a semi-colon. Don’t really know what it’s even supposed to be used for. Sometimes, I do in any case, however—just to get rid of those stupid, red-and-green squiggly lines. I hate those. Hah! I seem to hate a number of things, at the moment. Must just be in that type of mood, I suppose.
I really, really, really would just love to sit here right now—and tell you how much I hate Adam, and how horrible a person he is. But, it just wouldn’t make me feel any better in the end; and, I think the writing already shows the horror it must be—to be him. I know I don’t hate him; I just hate so very much—how he treated me. I hate how I got wrapped up so easily, in someone so evil—disguised so cleverly, as someone cloaked in good. Makes me feel, again, like I can so easily be taken advantage of. Like always—ohh, Maris! When will you learn?!
And, though yes—I know! I cannot talk to myself—say, such silly things! But it’s hard not to—because I honestly cannot figure out whether I keep repeating the past, or if I am still moving forward. I don’t know where I’m at—it’s the strangest thing, though. Everything seems so unsettled; and, yet, within it—things for the most part, also, seem pretty damn clear.
Hmm, what oh what—does that mean?!? Let me try…
Things, seem so unsettled—in terms of:
Will I get the job at Huntington? Did they think I was some kind of naïve moron; was I totally ignorant, in thinking that they actually saw something rare and unique and one-of-a-kind within me? God, how stupidly put. I know in the past, when I wrote like this, I thought it was horrible at the moment—but it really turned out to be quite beautiful, in the end. I can’t imagine how that could be so—of this mess, today. And, my last entry—ugh! Makes me want to stop typing altogether, right this instant! I hear myself saying these words in my head—before they come onto paper. I make decisions in the lagtime; and, I think that’s where the error comes into play. Who’s to know, though? Aghh! So horribly put!
This is stupid—I’ll wrap it up. I don’t really have much else to say. I looked for my mom’s painkillers, today—at just about 4:53pm. I didn’t find them upon my initial, compulsory search—and I’m thankful, I didn’t feel up to a more thorough undertaking. I settled for some Tylenol with Codeine, err, no—cough syrup, that is; my dad’s—from Dr. Restruccio.
Sometimes I just feel like everything I do and say is so menial and unimportant and pointless, and like my existence is of little worth in the while. I don’t even know what “in the while,” means—it sounds like it fits; but, it just sounds so very stupid. Maybe it’s the Codeine tripping me up, at the moment. But, this is how I have been thinking lately—in fragments; glimmers of beauty, gone by. Maybe, though, they’ll conjure up something meaningful still in the end.
The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good, solid resounding lie. I don’t mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist-measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.
And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food. ‘Here is someone who speaks English rather more clearly and euphoniously than I—it must be a vile, upstage, lah-di-dah affectation. Here’s a fellow who says he doesn’t like hot dogs—thinks himself too good for them no doubt. Here’s a man who hasn’t turned on the juke-box—he must be one of those highbrows and is doing it to show off. If they were the right sort of chaps they’d be like me. They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic.’
Now this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. Those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame; those who were not gave it no quarter in others. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it—make it respectable and even laudable—by the incantatory use of the word democratic.
Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from it for fear of being undemocratic. I am credibly informed that young humans now sometimes suppress an incipient taste for classical music or good literature because it might prevent their Being like Folks; that people who would really wish to be—and are offered the Grace which would enable them to be—honest, chaste, or temperate, refuse it. To accept might make them Different, might offend again the Way of Life, take them out of Togetherness, impair their Integration with the Group. They might (horror of horrors!) become individuals.
All is summed up in the prayer which a young female human is said to have uttered recently: ‘Oh God, make me a normal twentieth-century girl!’ Thanks to our labour, this will mean increasingly, ‘Make me a minx, a moron, and a parasite’.
Meanwhile, as a delightful by-product, the few (fewer every day) who will not be made Normal and Regular and Like Folks and Integrated, increasingly tend to become in reality the prigs and cranks which the rabble would in any case have believed them to be. For suspicion often creates what it suspects. (‘Since, whatever I do, the neighbors are going to think me a witch, or a Communist agent, I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb and become one in reality.’) As a result we now have an intelligentsia which, though very small, is very useful to the cause of Hell.
But that is a mere by-product. What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence—moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how Democracy (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods? You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them ‘tyrants’ then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of corn, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no pre-eminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser, or better, or more famous, or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level; all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practise, in a sense, ‘democracy’. But now ‘democracy’ can do the same work without any other tyranny than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks.
I have said that to secure the damnation of these little souls, these creatures that have almost ceased to be individual, is a laborious and tricky work. But if proper pains and skill are expended, you can be fairly confident of the result. The great sinners seem easier to catch. But then they are incalculable. After you have played them for seventy years, the Enemy may snatch them from your claws in the seventy-first. They are capable, you see, of real repentance. They are conscious of real guilt. They are, if things take the wrong turn, as ready to defy the social pressures around them for the Enemy’s sake as they were to defy them for ours. It is in some ways more troublesome to track and swat an evasive wasp than to shoot, at close range, a wild elephant. But the elephant is more troublesome if you miss.
My own experience, as I have said, was mainly on the English sector, and I still get more news from it than from any other. It may be that what I am now going to say will not apply so fully to the sectors in which some of you may be operating. But you can make the necessary adjustments when you get there. Some application it will almost certainly have. If it has too little, you must labour to make the country you are dealing with more like what England already is.
In that promising land the spirit of I’m as good as you has already become something more than a generally social influence. It begins to work itself into their educational system. How far its operations there have gone at the present moment, I would not like to say with certainty. Nor does it matter. Once you have grasped the tendency, you can easily predict its future developments; especially as we ourselves will play our part in the developing. The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be ‘undemocratic’. These differences between the pupils—for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences—must be disguised. This can be done on various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing the things that children used to do in their spare time. Let them, for example, make mud-pies and call it modeling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have—I believe the English already use the phrase—‘parity of esteem’. An even more drastic scheme is not impossible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma—Beelzebub, what a useful word!—by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age-group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable or tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coaeval’s attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON THE MAT.
In a word, we may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when I’m as good as you has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish. The few who might want to learn will be prevented: who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway the teachers—or should I say, nurses?—will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.
Of course this would not follow unless all education became state education. But it will. That is part of the same movement. Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated. The removal of this class, besides linking up with the abolition of education, is, fortunately, an inevitable effect of the spirit that says I’m as good as you. This was, after all, the social group which gave to the humans the overwhelming majority of their scientists, physicians, philosophers, theologians, poets, artists, composers, architects, jurists, and administrators. If ever there was a bunch of tall stalks that needed their tops knocked off, it was surely they. As an English politician remarked not long ago, ‘A democracy does not want great men.’
It would be idle to ask of such a creature whether by want it means ‘need’ or ‘like’. But you had better be clear. For here Aristotle’s question comes up again.
We, in Hell, would welcome the disappearance of Democracy in the strict sense of that word; the political arrangement so called. Like all forms of government it often works to our advantage; but on the whole less often than other forms. And what we must realise is that ‘democracy’ in the diabolical sense (I’m as good as you, Being like Folks, Togetherness) is the finest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political Democracies from the face of the earth.
For ‘democracy’ or the ‘democratic spirit’ (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, morally flaccid from lack of discipline in youth, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and soft from lifelong pampering. And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be. For when such a nation meets in conflict with a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible.
One Democracy was surprised lately when it found that Russia had got ahead of it in science. What a delicious specimen of human blindness! If the whole tendency of their society is opposed to every sort of excellence, why did they expect their scientists to excel?
It is our function to encourage the behaviour, the manners, the whole attitude of mind, which democracies naturally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy. You would almost wonder that even humans don’t see it themselves. Even if they don’t read Aristotle (that would be undemocratic) you would have thought the French Revolution would have taught them that the behaviour aristocrats naturally like is not the behaviour that preserves aristocracy. They might have applied the same principle to all forms of government.
But I would not end on that note. I would not—Hell forbid!—encourage in your own minds that delusion which you must carefully foster in the minds of your human victims. I mean the delusion that the fate of nations is in itself more important than that of individual souls. The overthrow of free peoples and the multiplication of slave-states are for us a means (besides, of course, being fun); but the real end is the destruction of individuals. For only individuals can be saved or damned, can become sons of the Enemy or food for us. The ultimate value, for us, of any revolution, war, or famine lies in the individual anguish, treachery, hatred, rage, and despair which it may produce. I’m as good as you is a useful means for the destruction of democratic societies. But it has a far deeper value as an end in itself, as a state of mind, which necessarily excluding humility, charity, contentment, and all the pleasures of gratitude or admiration, turns a human being away from almost every road which might finally lead him to Heaven.
But now for the pleasantest part of my duty. It falls to my lot to propose on behalf of the guests the health of Principal Slubgob and the Tempters’ Training College. Fill your glasses. What is this I see? What is this delicious bouquet I inhale? Can it be? Mr Principal, I unsay all my hard words about the dinner. I see, and smell, that even under wartime conditions the College cellar still has a few dozen of sound old vintage Pharisee. Well, well, well. This is like old times. Hold it beneath your nostrils for a moment, gentledevils. Hold it up to the light. Look at those fiery streaks that writhe and tangle in its dark heart, as if they were contending. And so they are. You know how this wine is blended? Different types of Pharisee have been harvested, trodden, and fermented together to produce its subtle flavour. Types that were most antagonistic to one another on earth. Some were all rules and relics and rosaries; others were all drab clothes, long faces, and petty traditional abstinences from wine or cards or the theatre. Both had in common their self-righteousness and the almost infinite distance between their actual outlook and anything the Enemy really is or commands. The wickedness of other religions was the really live doctrine in the religion of each; slander was its gospel and denigration its litany. How they hated each other up there where the sun shone! How much more they hate each other now that they are forever conjoined but not reconciled. Their astonishment, their resentment, at the combination, the festering of their eternally impenitent spite, passing into our spiritual digestion, will work like fire. Dark fire. All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by ‘religion’ ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.
Your Imminence, your Disgraces, my Thorns, Shadies, and Gentledevils: I give you the toast of—Principal Slubgob and the College!
SCREWTAPE PROPOSES A TOAST