Missive the Forty-Fourth
The Law of All.
DATELINE: Friday, December 15, 2000, at 2345 hours CDT.
Conway, Arkansas, USA
By D. Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
CornDancer & Company
Part of me is quickly and easily destroyed. Name it, but win nothing.
Three days now the ice dominates the ebb and flow of society and commerce in the geographical region of my residence. Schools are closed, meetings cancelled, games postponed, transportation hampered. The router bits and collet arrive by parcel post two days late. Severed power lines and blown transformers rob tens of thousands of structures and their inhabitants of the expected flow of electrical power.
They wait for something to save them from the dark and the cold.
To the law of the Republic I am obedient, not so much because of respect for the Republic, but because I am loathe to pay the penalty of its enforcer. I am disobedient, too — and too often, but I'm unwilling to disclose the ways. Just don't gag me on the way to the gibbet.
A Transparent Sheath
Of Glistening, Potential Destruction.
Trees lose huge limbs with a crack and a thud, or topple to the pavement and the rooftops from the brutal weight of so much mean ice, which encloses and burdens the bark and branches with a transparent sheath of glistening, potential destruction.
Three hours past midnight last, my eyes insisted I should have been sleeping, but questions raised by Babylon's demand for my obedience required wakeful consideration.
"When the state intervened against someone it was inevitably the masses who had to be contained and returned to duty — that is to work. The state was therefore doing its job when it punished or when it threatened in order to exact obedience," Fernand Braudel wrote in Volume II of The Wheels of Commerce (1979). "It had the right to suppress individuals in the name of public good. It was the public executioner — and one absolved of all guilt."
The wintry view out Cricket Song's windows is grey, drippy, tinged with shards and clusters of pebbled white. Ice's domain is a noisy, menacing mix of crunch, dribble, crack, and danger.
To the law of the Spirit I am obedient because I have the privilege to help write it into the passage of my days and because experience has shown me the wisdom and mercy of spiritual law.
A Tangled Mass of Air High in the Heavens.
Many of the inhabited geographical regions of the planet aren't subjected to an ice storm of the kind we suffer here in the Congo of the Bozarth. Even here they fall upon the land but a few times each decade. First, a great arctic blast from Borealis moves low over the earth while up above, swift and magnificent, a tropical wave of moist warmth races o'er the arctic chill in an opposite direction. At the peak of this tangled mass of air, high in the heavens, gentle snow forms, then melts into raindrops as the billion flakes pass through the southern winds. The short-lived rain tumbles into the arctic chill just above the surface and becomes ice when it lands. The meteorologists call it "supercooled."
If I am disobedient, am I part of the forces aligned against the State? Does my State, the one that issues my passport, the United States of America, deserve to be rebelled against?
This is maddening, I agree. I cannot be part of any well-defined force because I am disengaged from the herd, unaligned and discharged, spun out to the fringe. If I am unaligned, and I must be, merely and sorely, then I am naught but the irregular and disenchanted rebel, pretending. That can't be right. I cannot be so base and cowardly to be a pretender, unwilling to submit to any authority. Am I, or am I not the rebel and the pretender? How could I know? I refuse to claim the safe harbour of conscience when I cannot define the Law.
Confined, Narrowly Drawn, Cleverly Remanded.
It hasn't come to that, to rebellion. It's not easy to rebel in the Age of Dissolution, nearly impossible to find sufficiently large pockets of shared dissent in a land of three-hundred million where the vast majority has food in the belly and shelter overhead. Issues powerful enough to rouse civic passions are too specialized and too confined, too narrowly drawn, and too cleverly remanded unto pseudo-communities to acquire sufficient momentum to move a society. They are issues rendered impotent by diffusion. The pockets of abject poverty are too isolated from one another to give rise to networks of dissent, too well hidden from view to move the better-off masses to acts of shared conscience.
"Edicts which emanate from the mere arbitrary will of a despotic power, contrary to the law of God or the Great Law of Nature, destructive of the inherent rights of man, violative of the right of free thought, free speech, free conscience, it is lawful to rebel against and strive to abrogate," Albert Pike wrote, Morals and Dogma, 1871. (Yes, the quote is copied correctly. Mr. Pike could be obscure with his grammar.)
Mr. Pike identifies the laws of God and the laws of nature as the forerunners and foundation of an ultimate law, "that law which is the fair expression of the will and judgment of the people." I'll call it the Law of All because I like my concepts and ideas to have names. Mr. Pike, ever secretive and slippery, refused to name his ultimate law, neglected to state it directly. However carefully I return to the pages and read his instruction, I cannot find the exact definition of the "one and everlasting" law, which "cannot be abrogated or diminished, or its sanctions affected, by any law of man."
Will of the People:
Easy to Claim, Impossible to Define.
Are we, as a People, capable through our collective will of creating an ultimate law "of the whole and of every individual"? A thousand times if once during the thirty-six days of struggle to conclude the U.S. Presidential Election of 2000, the term "will of the people" was chosen as the banner of all right-minded action. It is a will so easy to claim, so well nigh impossible to define.
Mr. Pike admonishes us to "learn the duty of obedience to that law" without a name, the unspeakable Name of the Law. In the Alphabet of the Trees you might find the name, or in the geese who fly with Hermes it may be written on the clouds, or somewhere deep in a sunken Alexandrine library, on a Thracian tattoo, in the omission of the death-vowel, but not here in a self-proclaimed great nation, the greatest on earth to be sure to be sure.
To Nietzsche the Hated, obedience is a matter of "thou shalt." It is the "formal conscience" of the herd of men, the great many who obey. To be obedient, one must belong to a herd. To which herd do you belong?
I'm jolted by the realization that none of Mr. Nietzsche's herd units fit my circumstance. I can think of none to add to his old list, either. In too many horrible ways I am become useless, exiled, cast out into the cold.
A Clan, a Tribe, and Other Herds of Men.
By accident of bastard birth and unknown parentage, I have no membership in a clan or tribe, two of Mr. Nietzsche's six identifiable herds. I could fall back on identification with my tightly knit and tiny nuclear family, but it is too infinitesimal to be a herd.
Somewhere along the line, perhaps a time or two in my passage to the fifty-first year, maybe I could have pressed-in and claimed membership, but I've ne'r been so moved. No tribe or clan has extended the invitation. I am admonished by the sage of Nod: Ask and it shall be given unto thee. The lodge master said much the same. Before a door can be opened unto you, you first must knock upon it.
Each time I come upon the door, I wonder if I've reached the end of a race I'm not prepared to abandon. Surging or stumbling, I come to the end of the run, but realize another race awaits me. I rest as thoroughly as resources allow, but the master dispatches me into the field all too quickly, well before I think I've had enough sweet refreshing.
The clock races me, but I ne'r expected the sprint to become the marathon. The clock is indifferent to the distance I'm required to run.
Community, the third of Mr. Nietzsche's herds, is the ascendant identity of the age, the favoured group for numbered members of the corporation U.S.A.
Purchase Your Identity Card
For Admission to the Dissolute Community.
The moral charlatans in uneasy command of the realm deftly chose the idea of community to deal with the oft-unknowable instincts of the People. It is an ideal channel for directing the movement of such a large, unwieldy herd. The propagandists in service to the elite would have the People purchase multiple identity cards in dissolute community groups, which transcend physical neighborhoods and destroy the threat inherent in a unity of close proximity. The People, obedient to accepted maxims, would have it no other way.
For the elite it is easier, much easier to maintain power when the herds are self-driven in their sedans, vans, and pick-up trucks to the distended venues of pseudo-community. They arrive in a rush, stay for a pre-determined while, become a fading part of anything, grab a bite on the fast run home, and sink into caveland for television and lust, pulp and sweetmeats, the touching of bases, the sharing of quality time, and the fast falling into restless sleep.
The first task of the state, Braudel wrote, "was to secure obedience."
Maybe I'm one of the People, the fourth herd. I could be. That's as close as I can come to identifying with any of the herds classified by the detested German philosopher. I carry the proper papers. I live within the claimed and protected borders. I must do my duty and obey the laws of my country, Mr. Pike commands. I must be, he writes, "careful that prejudice or passion, fancy or affection, error and illusion, be not mistaken for conscience."
Diversity, Taxes, Cannon Fodder, and Dreams.
My country is governed and managed by the State, the fifth of the herds and a mirror herd of the People. I have been the patriot, volunteered to attend the war of my generation. I survive in guilt and wonder, in a state of constant surprise that I made it back when the best did not. Because of my full participation in the war in Viet Nam, I reject, in the fullness of my maturity, full obedience to the State, any state. How, also, can I be part of the herd People, when I suspect it does not exist beyond the dreams of school children, who long for something to span the frightful divisions of diversity; beyond the aims of politicians, who lust for renewable sources of taxation; beyond the hunger of big business for consumers; and beyond the need for cannon fodder by the generals, admirals, and field marshals?
The last herd, the sixth, which is the number of man, six, is the herd of the Church, the one I might prefer had it not fallen so abjectly into corruption.
Am I obedient to the master if he allows no choice other than death or cruel imprisonment should I not obey? Obedience and the refusal to obey require free will, the option to pick one over the other and live with the consequence.
I cannot discern as undeniable the presence of free will. The realization traps me in a cold uncertainty. I shall await the melting of the ice in hope that none of Cricket Song's trees crash to the cruel, shifting ground. I shall await the figuring out of it, the Law of All, the moment of the joining.
WATCH FOR MISSIVE THE FORTY-FIFTH
on Tuesday, December 19, 2000.
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