Shocked troopers form a wall, a border wall, but not between countries. It’s a membrane of osmosis whereby fashionist principles of an enraged mob pass through riled brains into ideologies, sacred Isms, and these notions collectively harden into fascistic state control. Shocked troops work as absorbent material to soak up guilt. Being constantly shocked is not a happy situation. So the net effect is that the unhappiness of a special few is translated into a glum population. In essence, troops of the shocked play a role similar to harpies of Greek myth, winged monsters who loomed out of the sky to crap on the scene and put a stink on everything.
☞ We could adjudge shocked trooper style playing as far back as an ancient Greek production by Aristophanes titled Lysistrata, one of the earliest versions of a feminist who’s out to raise consciousness. Lysistrata does so by organizing women of Athens to coordinate a movement with other city states and end the local wars. She inaugurates a scheme for local dames to stop their men from making war. Her chief tool: indignation. Her method, simple: just don’t allow the men to fool around in the bedroom until they stop fooling around on the battlefield.
☞ Because they were comic characters, Lysistrata and her girl pals were successful in stopping war and everyone lived happily ever after. However, alternate versions taken from actual history involving shocked troop strategy… Well, they don’t usually enjoy Lysistrata’s happy ending. Take for example the Medusa women of Paris who were instrumental in launching the French Revolution.
“Medusa women” is how the Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle described the angry Parisian women of 1789 who fired up discontented Jacobin rebels to march upon king Louis’s palace at Versailles. And here’s the kicker: since the marchers were led by outraged women, i.e. shocked troopers, the palace guards were reluctant to fire upon them. It made just one more example of women seeking advantage by preying on the protective instincts of men. Gullible men. The hesitation of gunfire gave the mob enough leverage to gain entrance into the palace, into Louis’ chambers, where the king was coerced into returning to Paris, where he would eventually be tried as a citizen and executed. If you consider the resulting “Reign of Terror” in which thousands of fellow citizens murdered each other a success, then that march on the palace was a smash hit.
☞ Shocked troops offer a particular function in the battle for social control. They believe they are first to face the fire by shrieking in the street, holding correct parlance in classrooms, making points in the meeting room, objecting in congress, resisting mightily in the parlor, all the while firing off with the ammo of personal outrage. Raised consciousness has been elevated above mere discourse. Turns out you can’t talk to ’em, the shocked troops. And men are dumbfounded. There are some masculine fiends out there, to be sure, but most just want to respect women. Getting a word in is another matter.
☞ The osmosis process of social stricture turning tighter into legal bonds is familiar to us by now. First they come for smokers in the bar, then in school they go after Johnny when he points a finger like a pistol, then they take down the worker beguiled into thinking he was just joking with a female colleague, then Johnny in college is automatically assumed guilty when accused of rape. They got so lucky with that trick, in fact, they tried it on a supreme court nominee and made a federal case out of that particular Johnny (named Brett) when he was in college, and it was done relying merely on a shock trooper’s faulty memory and the lack of proof thereof.
☞ Due to their elevated consciousness, these shocked troopers form the absorbent wall between fashionism and facism. Thus, to distinguish between these two terms— and distinctions are definitely employed here at 3T, if no where else— definitions are in order.
☞ Fascism we know. The jackboot-on-throat variety, troops in the kitchen, oligarchs in power. Their word is law. Power is levied from the Olympian political summit downwards by brute force to the peasant in the field and factory.
☞ Fashionism, on the other subtler hand, describes power action from the ground up. Or it can even be, as seen with Lysistrata, from the bedroom out. Power action germinates in populist movements, jive news articles, all fertilized by compost universities. In today’s parlance— of Nazi origin, by the way— whatever is “politically correct,” or PC, is fervently poised to search and destroy PU attitudes, or the “politically uncorrect.” Never mind if PU attitudes have been in place for donkey’s years, as the British like to say, traditions upheld by culture. Donkeys are now in control and they don’t like most things from the past. They have been schooled in deconstruction. And who better to employ in sniffing and routing out all those decayed isms? Troops sufficiently shocked. Squeaky wheels screaming to be greased.
These are likely the children who got what they wanted by throwing a tantrum in the supermarket aisle. These are individuals righteously pumped up with the premium fuel of vainglory and fired by a remarkably Roman coddling. And so they assume the tactic of going into a distortion. If freedom was their goal, they’ve abused themselves by fitting themselves instead with what Blake called “the mind-forged manacles,” mind clamps of their own making.
☞ How did shock troopers turn out to be so Victorian? So shockable? Like the 19th century audiences in Paris fainting over the word for “handkerchief ” in a play by Alfred de Musset. Imagine, saying mouchoir on a public stage! Lately, the word “handicapped” is enough to throw a modern shocked trooper into a distortion. That marked my first personal encounter with one. It occurred at zero shock center, otherwise known as San Francisco.
It was at dinner with an invited friend and his friend— let’s call her Mimi— when the conversation shifted to teaching, my racket at the time. At one point I expressed some concern how black students— a number of them in my classes— were laboring mightily with assignments. “Seemed like they are to a certain extent handicapped…”
“Handicapped!”– I couldn’t finish. Mimi was off– “Did you say… ech… ech… handicapped?”
She was unable to hold in her indignation at such an intolerable slur of students who had problems with their studies. Upon hearing the dread word “handicapped,” Mimi went into what the Irish would call a distortion, a term describing their mythical hero Cuchulain. His rage transformed him into a kind of raging beast-like persona, with red eyes bulging and a sunken chest. In her distortion, Mimi’s chest went in the opposite direction. It heaved and swelled with so much hot breath you could expect smoke to come pumping out of her ears.
It was puzzling at that time (late Sixties) because my intention was definitely not insidious. I was actually concerned about the black students who seemed to be honestly struggling. It wasn’t as though I spoke as a plantation owner who loved his darkies; I was concerned that a segment of my classes were struggling to catch up to “whitey’s ways.” And they happened to be black.
As it turned out, Mimi was a shocked trooper who spoke the Ism dialect. Those who speak PC code now know that “challenged” has replaced “handicapped” as the soothing label of choice. Meantime, public discourse— not to mention education itself— has since gone decidedly ghetto-esque. The work of the dead white guys I offered at the university, like Aristophanes, has been severely devalued. Black talk is almost a requirement. Jive has been promoted clear up to the White House. So “challenged” is perched topmost in the language, and is still as vague and meaningless a term as ever. And it would be totally useless if we knew for sure that everyone who hears the term “challenged” doesn’t down deep translate that word into “handicapped.”
☞ Actually, I prefer handicapped. The purpose of a golf handicap, for example, is to make the game more enjoyable by enabling golfers of different abilities to compete on an equitable basis. And in racing, a better horse will carry heavier weight to give it a disadvantage when racing against slower horses. In each case the handicap promotes equality. It’s a sound metaphor for someone who sees life as a race from start to finish. One who starts the race with added weight needs extra exertion in order to win, or just to finish.
And the term challenged… Well, you can choose what that soggy word might mean. It’s vague and nebulous. At best, it’s meaning could be applied to any effort— from winning the pennant to threading a needle.
But that’s really not the point. Public discourse is already choked with such nebulous nonsense. The point is the pose. The delivery. The unwarranted censure of that Mimi, a welcomed guest, savaging those special lamb chops my friend Elaine had searched out and prepared. No one then had any way of rebutting such a dramatic challenge at a peaceful dinner table. Who was to know it would set a shrieking howl into the future, an extreme motor-vation, a vocal distortion tuned to dramatic apoplectic shock at a single word?
☞ Maybe Mimi was ahead of her time, or maybe a vestige of the early black dress crowd. Whatever, she served as an advance guard in the shocked troop battalions of the contemporary American left. At every staged outrage over a social slight, at every demand that some poor perp of supposed injustice be executed on the spot, we see Mimi. She taught me so much. How could such as I, harboring a lowly consciousness, be raised to her level? How could I know that Mimi was enlisted in an advance guard of the shocked troops?
☞ But then, we all know Mimi’s distortion technique. We hear echoes of Shelby Steele’s view regarding this banded hugger mugger of supercilious accusers, these Joan of Arcs of all Isms— racism being topmost. Steele’s assessment is that they automatically “assume the moral high ground and strike at the supposed enemy with the fire power of white guilt.”
And that’s the fun of it: people who lack all sympathy for anyone who doesn’t endorse their own prejudices have assumed a moral high ground. People who boast of great feeling are unable to operate without name calling, shrieking, smashing, and destroying. And then they follow through by assuming that every little social thing can be adjusted to perfection by tuning the language to just the correct word. Anything else is an ☞ ISM.
☞ To say that Mimi is a contradictory person in general would fall under the category of some kind of (☞ ISM). But the claim still offers a dash of truth that Mimi often does change her mind, as well as her manner. The way they’re so tough, yet so delicate; yelling like a fish wife, then shrinking like violets at the mention of a single word.
And if that thought sounds like a new phenomenon, we’re told by the Latin poet Juvenal that Mimi goes back to the Roman era:
(Peter Green translation)Women in purple track-suits, women who wrestle in mud— /these are a common sight. So are our lady-fencers— /we’ve all seen them, stabbing the stump with a foil,/shield well-advanced… And yet these same women have such delicate skins/ that even sheer silk chafes them;/they sweat in the finest chiffon.
Even though that was Rome in the first century, fashionism existing today sounds quite like it. There was a lot of that peculiar brand of irony when a current spokesperson for the moral high ground was a porn star turned mike sucker. Screen “star” Stephanie, going by the name of Stormy Daniels, gained fame for– among other tricks– sucking on screen. Lately she went to sucking mikes for no less a purpose than to discredit a president of the United States. You can bet James Madison didn’t see that coming when he campaigned against personal interest faction.
☞ Generally speaking, the rage of Isms has launched a thousand mike suckers. Stormy Daniels simply helped set the tone. So now all those who hold a mike lovingly while frothing into a distortion may all be deemed mike suckers. But Stormy herself represents a left turn in the feminist hierarchy of acceptability. Not too long ago, pornography was a principle evil in the feminist book of calamities. Currently, women have not only embraced peepee-dickey art, but they produce and direct it as well, Stormy being one example. Perhaps the zillions of bucks the industry earns might have changed their minds. Or is that perhaps another ☞ ISM?
☞ Yet Stormy is certainly not the lone mike sucker in that fierce weather of changeable winds. The Democrat National Convention of 2015 certainly spotlighted an entourage, if not a plethora, of shock troopers raising their consciousness into a distortion. One of the more remarkable lowlights celebrating the Clinton presidential nomination was delivered by a minor actress— certainly not a star like Stormy, but mike sucker still— named Lena Dunham.
In her laudatory intro for Hillary, Dunham’s salutary pitch was standard issue female contradiction (☞ ISM): “Hillary knows,” said Ms. Dunham, “that access to opportunity is the American promise, not transphobia, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, and systematic racism. She knows we have to fight hatred of all kinds, and not ignite it for the craven purpose of seeking power.”
“Out of the mouths of babes,” as the expression went, “oft times comes wisdom.” That was the old saying. Today it’s more like: Out of the mouths of babes comes baby talk. First off, babes carries a whole new meaning, and it’s not all that wholesome. And this Dunham babe (which stretches the term) offered a primo example of the ironies shoveled out during that political gabble of feel-good folks. When statements can be read more accurately by turning them back on the speaker, you got the same pile of irony as Stormy speaking for morality. That declaration of unblemished idiocy in Denham’s statement is primo plus: To “ignite hatred for the craven purpose of seeking power” has nothing to do with what we know about the hilarious Clinton, does it? Only that her entire campaign was based upon it. And igniting situations certainly has nothing to do with shocked troop strategy, eh what?
☞ Gone is the voice of modulation. Gone is the voice of Lauren Bacall telling Bogart to pucker up his lips and blow. Gone is Mae West rotating her hips while crooning, “Come on up and see me some time.” Gone are the songbirds of the big bands who were the same age as the latest twinkie pop star yet already sounding like mature women. Instead, only heard across the field is squeaky valley girl upspeak, punctuated by a shriek. The distortion. The heckler’s veto to shout ‘em down.
“What! Did you say handicapped?”
☞ So when Clinton lost, it looked for a moment like the shock was turned inward. Even for an infinitesimal moment it could have dawned in those isolated chambers of self-righteousness writhing in the throes of Isms that they might have miscalculated one important thing in an election: the electorate. But they shook themselves free of that possibility post haste. Me being wrong? No way. You must be some kind of ☞ ISM to think so.
☞ This post piece started with reference to Greek comedy. Though going long, it’s still too irresistible not to end as well with a nod to Greek tragedy. The two forms are related. That’s kind of the way the old formula works anyway— tragedy plus time equals comedy.
Watching the events surrounding the nomination of supreme court candidate Brett Kavanaugh was mindful of the Orestes drama by Aeschylus. Both dramas, though, did not end with death. Orestes was saved by the goddess of wisdom, Athena, who applied justice to his case; the same application seemed to have saved Judge Kavanaugh. The judge suffered the same threat as Orestes, the threat of being torn to pieces by the Furies, hags from Hell who were known to serve justice by physically tearing the guilty to pieces— their own fierce kind of extreme distortion.
☞ The kicker in the case of Orestes was that he had admittedly murdered his mother, Clytemnestra. But there were circumstances. The mother had conspired with one of her several lovers while her husband Agamemnon was away. He’d gone to Troy, fighting Trojans over another unfaithful bitch, Helen. Clytemnestra murdered her husband upon his homecoming. So Orestes murdered his mother to avenge his father’s death. Talk about a real sticky batch of morals to adjudicate: son kills mother because mother killed father! National Inquirer couldn’t do it up any better.
But Orestes was not without his own political pull. He had the goddess of wisdom, Athena, on his side. It took Athena’s mercy and wisdom to act in Orestes’ defense and get him off the hook. Needless to say, the Furies went into a supreme distortion that they didn’t get to tear up Orestes and feed him to the dogs.
☞ Brett Kavanaugh suffered the same kind of threat when the Furies of California decided tear up his life. The judge’s nomination to the supreme court launched a thousand shock troopers. And those Furies were led by a 50 year-old valley girl shocked troop professor who seemed to believe that university justice now prevailed beyond the compost campus. At the university, the accuser is automatically believed, and the accused does not get to face her. Thus, the professor was encouraged by “beach friends” (California beach friends), along with a leading general of the shocked troops, Senator Diane Feinstein, to bring about the most meretriciously silly accusation in all of American mythology.
When the Furies didn’t get to tear Orestes limb from limb, see how they scream. Listen how their tone matches a shocked trooper in a distortion, and read how they castigate Athena for her justice: (translation by Ted Hughes)
You are the god of winged words— /Fletched and barbed words./But if we lose this judgement /This land, and the city of Athens,/Will decay. We shall blast it with a curse./Such a curse, life itself /Will be an agony, the very nerves of life/Will be instruments of torture.
To hear the righteous screams on behalf of his supposed “victim,” one would think that Kavanaugh did something like murder his mother. But he did not, nor did he apparently, as charged, harass his aged accuser. And it took the goddess of wisdom to defend him, in effect. By Athenian jurisprudence handed down to us, its inheritors, Kavanaugh was defended by constitutional law. Damaged as it is, parts of the system still frown upon accusation without evidence, and it can’t stand presumption of guilt of the accused before any proof— of which, in the case of the beach-backed valley girl professor, there was none.
So the Furies of California were frustrated. To this day their fury has abated little. At every moment and on almost every channel they still exhibit some form of distorted madness. They sound so much like their ancient sister Furies declaring how “life itself will be an agony, the very nerves of life will be instruments of torture.”
Yet Athena’s appeal for mercy sounded a contrasting note. She even made a gesture to appease the furious shock troopers. The goddess of wisdom bestowed upon the Furies another power besides their ability to render fierce judgments: the power to bless marriage and birth. Maybe that was the goddess’ way of telling the people of Athens— and us— we will live past these furious times, and thrive.
This is how Athena said it:
Athens— hear the blessings that are the gift/ of these dreadful creatures. /Fate’s executioners are swayed/By neither heaven nor hell. /They deal with mankind here on earth/And mankind weeps to acknowledge/That they give to men and women/What they have earned, neither more nor less:/Songs to some,/Screams to others.
Got that? What they have actually earned. Songs to some. Screams to others.