The Icono-c/b-last

The English language has this thing for making things seem more important than they really are. ” Iconoclast ” for instance. Look up the definition in whatever dictionary you possess, but the essential thing revolves around the destruction of cherished religious institutions.

Yet no-one goes further – and takes the language of science to construct a word: ” Iconoblast “. The person who sets up or builds these structures. Martin Luther was both clast and blast and probably a hell of a lot of fun at a petting party, as well.

I refuse to destroy people’s faith in established religion. It is cute and colourful and very useful in getting them to give away their money. I support all established religions  – particularly those who collect weekly dues and are prepared to invest that money in Guild activities.

I would, however, like to be a successful iconoblast. If I could set up faithful religious worship of myself – open to all people of good, but dim, character – I could build up a real bank balance. If you look at the current religious societies you’ll see that they possess land, business assets, and treasuries that are rarely accessed and never depleted. I am not greedy – several millions squirrelled away in a secure Swiss bank would do me – and I am more than prepared to dispense salvation, approval, or any other nebulous benefit to get it. If you want to be forgiven, I forgive readily, and issue receipts.

Suppose your crime of sin is so bad – so heinous – so vile as to surpass the limits of human or divine comprehension. Yet you still want to be free of any blame. Let me introduce you the Ye Premium Service…

 

” It’s All A Mucking Fadhouse “

That feeling of exasperation when you are surrounded by people all trying to be cooler than each other – and the end result is the ambient temperature drops dramatically. And these desperate social actors live on drama…

I was always a conservative and repressed little fellow. Primary school and high school saw me dressed as my mother commanded and – to be honest – there was not a lot of sartorial splendour in rural Canada in the 1950’s. You could be well-dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans. The delightful thing for me is that this is still the case 70 years later.

You were also not encouraged to be either high, wide nor handsome in your opinions and speech. This may still be the case in Canada, though you are allowed to be scornful of the American President as long as he is not a Democrat or coloured. Hey, Canada has some standards, even if they are double…

But getting back to conservatism…it need not be a bad thing. It’s just a matter of context. No-one really wants an eye surgeon or dentist who is wild and cutting-edge radical – particularly when you’re their their patient. And few of us welcome return-to-the basics airline pilots who always fly at 500 ft. and stick their fingers out the window to see which way the wind is blowing. We reserve these things for their natural place.

Likewise we might well do with a politician who is not continuously at the barricades – particularly if they have no idea in which direction to throw their paving stone. A person who is not driven by popular shrieks from the mob is helpful. Even the shrieking radicals appreciate them, as they provide convenient targets for mindless abuse.

So calm down a little. You’ll still be able to subvert western civilisation and look kewl but you can do it at a less frenetic pace. And better dressed.

The Short Road Between Disappointment And Despair

Let’s get hypothetical here.

Suppose you learned that a friend had troubles in their life and had decided to address these by going on a wild rampage of senseless violence and bloodlust. And that they had equipped themselves with knives, pistols, bombs, and poisons to do so. And they had stripped themselves of all identity, greased themselves with rancid fat, and donned a Mexican wrestler’s Hello Kitty mask.

Would you be disapproving? Which part of the scenario would call this forth; the trouble, the bloodlust, or the mask? Because this says a great deal about you and your appreciation of life. Early sadness would indicate compassion, in the middle it would be civic virtue, and the last named would be the triumph of good taste over popular culture.

But that was hypothetical. Let’s get down to real life. Other people have troubles all the time, and unless we can end them, we are better off not starting in to interfere. Well-intentioned meddling is still meddling, and rarely comes out well. Though it is often a comfort if you are prepared to go round their house and slip on a banana peel to amuse them. Note: it’s not considered a friendly act to sue them for the peel and the injuries.

The principle of counter irritation is also a good idea. In the old days of medicine a pain was treated by rubbing another portion of the patient with acid or a hot pepper mix – this drawing off the humours and giving them something new to concentrate upon. You can apply this now – when a friend is unhappy go visit them and irritate them beyond endurance on another topic. They’ll forget the original problem in an effort to get at your throat with a pair of scissors, and the time will pass blithely. Try to be close to the door when you do this.

Now we’ve all seen the memes on Facebook that show cats frowning and looking judgemental. Try to pattern yourself accordingly. Do not purr unless absolutely necessary and remember to show people your bum.

 

Evidently A Good Person…

How often are we greeted with this over the morning egg and coffee? In most cases it is quite the opposite – a beloved entertainment figure is held up to scorn and calumny for some sexual offence – a local official is found to have stolen money – the schoolmaster is pictured dressed in an SS uniform at a Christmas party. It is not so much a case of shaking our faith as preventing it from developing in the first place.

I am always willing to assume the worst about people…but secretly hope that I am wrong. I would be delighted if the monster that is booed from the political platform was kind to puppies. I might not be prepared to vote for them, but I would trust them to walk the dog.

Equally, I am fair-minded when it comes to actual criminality – as long as it can come before a magistrate who is not elected by the local community. I have faith in the British system of justice, though the British can give me an ache in the pancreas as often as not when they start to spout John Bullshit. Done fairly, the British court system does mete out justice in most cases.

It depends upon evidence – evidence that can be clearly presented, seen by the magistrate…and everyone else in court…and that can stand the test of proof. The cases where there is a lack of evidence are harder to deal with, but I still think that they err on the side of caution enough to allow justice to prevail. Unfortunately they can also err on the side of the ruling classes in more cases than you’d think, but this is dying out.

I should still prefer to stand a trial in front of a standard magistrate here than the Supreme Court of nearly any other nation in the world.

As Opposed To What?

I shall set up my small wood lathe and turn a truncheon out of hardwood. Sanded, sealed, and polished, with a small brass plaque bearing the title of this essay; ” As Opposed To What? “. I shall carry it with me wherever i go. And when someone tries to tell me, sell me, or smell me, I shall strike them with it.

The number of times I do this will depend on how repetitive they are in their plaint.

All day long I read advertisements from people outside my reach. The newspaper, computer screen, and social media are always telling me what to think or what to buy. I can do nothing about this save binning the rags, blocking the posts, and snoozing the monomaniacs. But when they approach me in person I will have my trusty truncheon o’ cynicism handy in my pocket. As Mae West might have put it…it isn’t a pistol but I’m still glad to see you.

Every shill who wants to extract a shilling – every zealot who wants me as an acolyte – every fellow traveller who wants me as a useful idiot – will be fair game for the T 0′ C. I shall invite them to join the club by the most direct means…

Now, what was it you wanted to tell me?

” Temperance, Temperance, Now… “

When you are angry and it’s cold, warmth is a pleasure. When you are similarly out of sorts and it’s hot, coolness is soothing. What shall you turn to when the temperature is pleasant, but you are still not?

Well, the candy bar makers would have you buy their sugar sticks and cheer yourself up that way. So would the BMW corporation. I’ve looked at the price of confectionary these days and you might as well pick out a colour for your Series 2 Coupe right now – you’ll be able to afford it far sooner…

Temperance in all things was prescribed by the ancient philosophers as a way of life. Or, I should say, by some of them. Others went to extremes of being either miserably pinched or wildly overstimulated…and in the end everyone ended up just as happy as each other.

” Temperance ” when seized upon by the 19th century social reformers and religious promoters seems to have been anything but. It basically meant no alcohol – in a moral crusade allied laughingly to a mohammedan’s jihad view of liquor. If it was George Orwell writing their lines they might have been ” Water good – booze bad “.

If you want to see the combined effects of water and morality, google up 19th century images of the WCTU ladies. Lips that touched liquor never touched theirs…and the reason is painfully obvious from the photos. Admittedly, photographers did not encourage their clients to smile in the days of the long exposure, but the WCTU ladies are something else entirely. I’ve seen things painted on the front of fighter planes that looked more welcoming…

Am I encouraging you to wild licence? To drunken orgies? To wasted days and wasted nights? If you are going to experience them anyway and do it feeling guilty, no. If you plan to take wild delight and bask in the warm glow, go right ahead.  Stay out of the car, don’t juggle chain saws, and avoid contracting marriage or any other social disease.

” I Don’t Have Enough Money “

Well let’s address that problem, shall we?

a. Make some. Get access to a computer with Photoshop Elements, an inkjet printer, and a ream of good quality double-sided matte paper.

Design suitable bills in denominations that you can conveniently spend. Don’t be greedy – few people will have change in the till for a $ 10,000 note and you’ll be standing there forever while they send out for it. Choose smaller numbers -the $ 7.00 bill covers most fast food burgers and you can get a good goon for $ 19.95, so print a bill for that. No need to make the money even-numbered – 5¢ saved is 5¢ earned.

As you are designing your own currency, you get to choose who you feature on the front and what landmark you’d like on the back. There are plenty of politicians in history who have never made it to the money and lots of places that would pay you to illustrate them.

As for whether this is legal tender…well, it certainly is tender…if you can find anyone tender enough to take it in exchange for goods or services. A good money designer who is also a good salesperson will be able to pay for anything based upon the attractiveness of the bill and their own charms. When in doubt, show cleavage.

b. Steal some. This is marginally less legal than ( a. ) above, but can result in coins as well as bills. Church poor boxes, passengers on railway trains, and convenience stores are all traditional sources of ready money – but beware of the church that is more desperate than you are, the railway coach packed with smelly customers, or the corner grocery store run by an old Korean ex-marine who can knock you into next week with a stick. You may well end up paying them to let you loose.

c. Beg some. This is degrading only until you have your first $ 1000 in the bank. Then it becomes a valid form of theatre played to a gullible audience. Hint: don’t have yourself incorporated as a proprietary company and don’t give receipts. It’s efficient but you’d be surprised how the pennies dry up.

d. Inherit some. Those of you with rich old uncles will have this one sussed out already, but  there is still hope for the lonely souls as well. No matter how big you are you can still dress yourself in a nappy, lay down in a basket on the doorstep, and ring the bell. A tearful note pinned to your diaper asking that you be taken in and made prosperous completes the outfit.

It doesn’t work every time. It doesn’t work most of the time. But all it needs to do is work once and you are made. Hint: James Packer’s doorstep is currently unattended. Wait until the light goes on before you wail piteously.

e. Marry some. Go down to the station, early in the morning. See the little gravy trains, all in a row. See the stationmaster pull the little handle. Chug chug, glug glug. Off you go.

 

The Smile On Voltaire’s Face

For many years I’ve visited Melbourne – sometimes in the summer – sometimes in the winter. Sometimes for both seasons on one day ( plus the Apocalypse and Free Pizza Night. Melbourne weather is like that… ) I’ve often gone to visit a friend. He lives in the NGV on the second floor.

François-Marie Arouet was in the word business long before me…and as it happens, will probably be there long after I am gone. That is the quality of his thinking and writing. I say ” is ” rather than ” was ” because so much of what he wrote and published is still current. Indeed a great deal of his admonishment to tolerance and sensible thinking is still for the future…

Quite what he would make of the current viral crisis, the world’s response to it, and the attitude of the plague’s authors, is open to speculation. I don’t think he would have been surprised at any of it – he seems to be a man who would have been hard to startle – and I suspect he would be more willing to forgive the perpetrators than the rest of us will eventually be. He faced bullies and malefactors himself.

But he’s safe now. He can reside in a bronze bust along Toorak Road and in the bookshops of the city. The rest of us still have to keep our distance and hope that the CSL will pump out a vaccine that won’t kill us. And try to be tolerant when the truth about what set it all off finally comes out.

I shall polish my toleration tools in anticipation.

 

” I Need Sex “

You what?

” I need sex. If I don’t get sex I will be a failure. I will be sick. I will be terrible…”

Hogwash. If you don’t get sex you won’t be any of those things. You’ll just be yourself with your clothes on and a good deal more spending money in your pocket. You’ll have time to do pleasant and fun things without worrying about consequences. You will be able to avoid any number of unpleasant outcomes – both physical and mental.

” But everyone else is having sex. ”

No they’re not. They might be telling you that, but a great many of them are lying. They are bragging about it in hopes of making themselves look interesting or sophisticated or exciting. They could do that by reading a book.

” But what if I’m missing out? ”

Here’s a textbook on venereal diseases. Find out what you’re missing…knock yourself out. You’ll love the chapter on herpes. It’ll stick in your mind, like the virus sticks everywhere else.

” But what if I fall in love? ”

So fall. Fall as hard and fast and wet and foolish as you want to. It has nothing whatever to do with sex, as the porn channels on the internet make perfectly clear. You can have a superb romance dressed in woollen longjohns and sensible shoes. You can do it in cold weather and look absolutely stunning against crashing sea waves.

” So sex is not as good as it is made out to be? I can do without it forever? ”

Nahh. Sex is alright. Dive right in when you find a chance. But don’t hang about the edge of real life just mooning and mooching – use your time to enjoy everything else. If it gets you, it’ll grab your crotch anyway, and if it doesn’t you can be happy doing other things.

 

 

” Don’t be Ashamed Of Your Urges. “

Some people are hard to startle. SAS sergeants, nuns, cess pool cleaners… They have seen more than you will ever been exposed to and are still sane. You would be silly to try the title of this essay on them, expecting them to jump. They would take it calmly and just punch you.

On the other hand, there are people who are ready to jump 10 feet in the air, turn left, and explode if you merely look at them and smile. While it’s a lot of fun to do so, it’s really tame sport – you are facing no challenge. Better to look for someone in the middle and exercise your talents on them. Here are a few suggestions:

a. Schoolteachers.

The masters, mistresses, heads, principals, or whatever of the education system might be thought of as hardened as our aforementioned SAS sergeant. After all, they face the enemy every day of their working lives. But you only have to ask them a question particularly attuned to their speciality to watch them wind up like an alarm clock. You may have to do a little research into whichever discipline they teach, but once you get there you’ll discover that there are pits of lava and landmines everywhere.

At a noisy cocktail party ask a mathematics teacher if they read the news article today that said a teacher in Adelaide has successfully squared a circle and proved it. Use the noise of the party to make your getaway, but be assured that your victim will be awake and at their desk at 4:00 AM trying to figure out how.

Or ask an English Lit teacher to justify Barnaby Rudge in the context of existential slavery reform. You can toast marshmallows on the resultant heat.

Or just mention that there was a parliamentary petition in Facebook to reduce teacher’s salaries to a sensible level and that you signed it…

b. Health professionals

You can torture a biochemist with anti-vax memes but this is tame game. You can annoy a dentist by challenging them to defend the practise of root canal therapy ( and there are some good pamphlets available likening it to poisoning wells…). You can freeze a physician by asking them to justify their practice’s rate of death and disfigurement over the last three years in light of recent discoveries. But the most fun of all comes when you find a marginal worker who massages spines or prepares dilute water drinks to cure broken legs. Then you don’t deride them – you praise them – and ask them to publicly declare their faith to all the people around them. Some will start to do so…

c. Sales persons

It doesn’t matter what they sell – they have been compelled to tout some dud of whatever object or service in which they deal at some time in the last three years. Ask them about it…and then challenge them to defend their decisions.

Cold sweat is a marketable commodity. Have a mop and a jar ready to collect stocks.