Does art imitate nature or is nature herself inherently artistic? The debate has engaged the minds and pens of many critics and philosophers. But, given that comedy is equally a form of art, when man becomes unintentionally comic, is his comicity attributable to art or nature?
The question may seem irrelevant or one among the children of an idle brain (1), but I jumped onto this train of thought after connecting recent events to an actual earlier observation made by a US senator on the latest federal budget.
It is well known that the immense federal budget includes a long list of funds destined to ‘pet projects’ (not my characterization), sponsored by sundry legislators. Who – the legislators – can block the approval of the budget, unless their own inserted and sponsored pet projects are approved. A delay in the approval is of understandable and natural concern to the millions whose salaries depend on that approval.
Incidentally, a reliable source recently disclosed that there are 10 countries, each represented at the United Nations, whose individual total population is less than the number of US federal employees.
But returning to the budget, as we will see, ‘pet’ is a particularly appropriate name-choice, both physically and metaphorically. For one such project, included in the latest approved budget, was chosen by the senator as colorfully representative of many similar others.
It involved the appropriation of 4.5 million dollars granted to two worthy scientists and professors. Their proposal involved applying cats’ urine to the skin of mice in order to study and measure the degree of fear provoked among the rodents thus treated, and their subsequent behavior.
In my modest opinion the whole thing is a great waste of the cats’ urine and of the mice’s patience. And I am comforted in knowing that the senator shared an equal opinion, though purely on economic grounds.
Predicting the question raised by some, “who cares?” I will first answer that whatever busies the mind without corrupting it, has at least this use, that it rescues the day from idleness, and he that is never idle will not always be vicious.
Secondly, I would have probably forgotten about the mice, the cats, the senator and the budget, were it not for another very recent federal initiative, involving 750 billion dollars to be spent on a program called the “Fight Inflation Act.” Which, incidentally, dwarfs into insignificance the grant for the cat-and-mouse project.
Struggling to find an analogy, I will tentatively compare the initiative of printing 760 billion dollars to fight inflation to the founding of a school for the promotion of virginity, where all teachers and staff are prostitutes.
Clearly any announcement of a possible reduction of the current galloping inflation cannot fail of a favorable reception. Even if the promise transgresses all bounds of probability, for the value of money is inherently diminished by the progress of its printing. Much like reducing the loss of water from a leaking bucket by increasing the size of the hole wherefrom the water leaks. Though reality, as presented by the regime media, is most obsequious to the imagination of the masters.
Nevertheless, the guardians of our prosperity know how to extenuate what they cannot deny and to disguise fiction behind the screen of palatable reality. A lesson learned at large during our historical yesterday, when George Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, gingerly stated (and put in practice) that, “The conscious and intelligent (!) manipulation of the habits and opinion of the masses is an important element in democratic society. And those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute the invisible government, which is the true ruling power of the United States.”
Most have witnessed the level of cynical manipulation displayed by the rulers of both the shallow and deep state during the first fifth of the XXI century. Therefore to call ‘intelligent’ the ‘manipulation of the habits and opinion of the masses’ is an insult to the manipulated and a crime against the lexicon. For crime is not a manifestation of intelligence but a symptom of mental disease.
Furthermore, at our historical point, the chasm between fiction and reality, in many aspects of life, is such that any hypothesis (including mental disease) is plausible. For we navigate inside a foggy and improbable vision of the external world, as portrayed by the ministry of truth through their instruments of persuasion, owned and controlled by the powers-that-cannot-be.
Reading from three teleprompters the proud-to-be-a-zionist president (an actual televised quote – see my previous article) uttered that, “The Inflation Reduction Act invests [out of the 750 billions] 369 of them to take the most aggressive action ever, against, ever ever ever, in confronting the climate crisis, and (… not understandable) our energy security. It is going to offer to working families thousands and thousands of dollars in savings by providing them with rebates to buy new and efficient appliances, weatherize their homes, and tax credits for purchasing heat pumps, roof tops solar, electric stoves, driers…”
This is giving to wild imagination a local habitation and, in the instance, not a name but a microphone (2). The relationship between heat pumps and inflation seems a discovery of the Academy of Lagado (more on this later). Furthermore, we can infer from the content of the presentation that few if any, among Biden’s speech preparers, are sufficiently cognizant of the basic principles of thermodynamics.
For, broadly speaking, the efficiency of an electric power generating station, fed by water, coal or uranium is at best 30% – meaning that less than 30% of the potential power existing in falling water, or coal before burning, or uranium before nuclear fission, is converted into electricity. The rest is lost to friction, heat, mechanical losses, transmission and other causes.
Equally, thermodynamically speaking, heat produced by an electric filament is dramatically less efficient than heat produced by directly burning gas or other flammables in a stove. The whole having to do with entropy, a word coined by a 19th century German scientist to describe the inherent degradation of energy when converted from one form to another.
Less intricately, a mother who sings to her infant that Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, that Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again… that mother enounces in metaphorical form the second principle of thermodynamics.
But I digress. Moving to another subject Biden declared that, “ I am keeping my campaign commitment – no one, let me emphasize, no one earning less than 400,000 dollars a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes.”
Nevertheless, the plan includes the hiring of a new army of IRS agents, which the Republicans put at 87,000 while the Democrats claim it is only between 20,000 and 30,000.
To add a further Orwellian touch to the exercise, a curious video appeared on television and corporate Internet channels. It featured a federal employee of sort, instructing (apparently) new IRS recruits and announcing with pride that many of the new IRS agents will be armed, having previously been employed as law enforcement officers, and therefore trained in the use of guns. But the video was promptly withdrawn. Perhaps the media apparatchik sensed that creating a new army of weaponized fiscal agents may prompt even the most indoctrinated to question the relationship between the Inflation Reduction Act and the arming of tax inspectors.
Witnessing the signing of the “Inflation Reduction Act” were senators Joe Mansion, Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer, the latter being the current Senate Majority Leader – all especially chosen people.
In this context and as an aside, it may be instructive to refer to the respected senator Schumer’s priorities of allegiance. To wit and quoting verbatim from one of his earlier speeches:
“Schumer comes from the Hebrew word “schowmer”, which means guardian, watchman. My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto-ward of “Jordcoast” in Galicia, and when they came to Ellis Island, they said their name in Yiddish, “Schoimer” and it got written down as “Schumer”
To you I say this. That name was given to me for a reason. For as long as I live, for as long as I have the privilege of serving in the senate from New York , I will unflinchingly, unstintingly, and with all of my strength be “shoumer Israel”, a guardian of Israel. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your “throwel kai (yiddish)” in Israel and America. The Jewish nation lives, now and forever.”
Naturally we all applaud freedom of expression and respect allegiance in principle. But the reader may imagine the reaction that an American senator – say, of Greek extraction – would trigger in the US regime media, were he to claim that, as long as he is a US senator he will “unflinchingly, unstintingly, and with all of his strength be a guardian of…. Greece.”
Still, when questioned by a journalist when and how the “Inflation Reduction Act” will show results, Joe Mansion replied, understandably, that, “It’s not like turning a switch on and off.” And when the journalist posed the same question to Joe Manchin the answer was even more synthetic, “Next question.”
Giving more information was the head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), when prompted to explain the relevance of the Inflation Reduction Act to the EPA agency. For 3 billion $ will be allocated to a program called “Environmental Justice,” overseen by the said EPA.
Asked about the use (of the 3 billions), the EPA chief, – whose malicious detractors claim that he never held a job prior to the current – said, “Everything I do at the EPA is through the lens of environmental justice. Contracting, procurement, air quality, and water quality land management starts with, “Are we protecting the least among us, those who have lacked political representation, and those who have not been at the table for decades?”
The Act also includes purchasing a fleet of electric-battery-powered mail delivery trucks. Readers equipped with better imagination than mine, can explain how a fleet of new delivery truck, the expensive batteries of which are made in China, will help reduce inflation.
Equally included are tax rebates and incentives for people to buy electric cars. Ahead of which (the incentives), both Ford and General Motors have increased the prices of their respective electric cars by several thousands of $$.
One more measure is included in the act, besides the already mentioned, namely, “Facilitating the engagement of disadvantaged communities in State and Federal advisory groups, workshops, rulemakings, and other processes.” (direct quote). Translated, this usually means a windfall for politically connected ‘advisory groups’ and ‘education’ companies running workshops.
Independently of the above, many readers and citizens at large may have, by now, grown accustomed to detect Orwell in government pronouncements, and Huxley in planned large-scale changes (for example, a “Brave New World” in the New World Order of Klausschwabian inspiration and others’.)
Yet, given the cited examples, including the relationship between ‘pet projects’ and the Federal budget, I hold that another famous literary name is sorely missing as an author of contemporary reference, namely Jonathan Swift and his Gulliver’s Travels published in 1726. To wit, here is a sample of instances demonstrating Gulliver’s relevance to current events.
After a somewhat disappointing visit and residence in the kingdom of Laputa, Gulliver reaches the realm of Balnibarbi. Although nominally independent, Balnibarbi is still technically ruled by the floating island of Laputa. An arrangement that, with minor linguistic and descriptive retouching, could describe the relationship connecting NATO and the European Union with the United States.
Gulliver carries a letter of introduction to Lord Munodi, a nobleman of Lagado, the capital of Balnibarbi, and its former governor until a cabal of ministers discharged him “for insufficiency and inadequacy to the position.” There are echoes here of the Maidan coup in Ukraine, though no violence occurred in Lagado – as well as (say) the unorthodox methods the Cabal used to unseat Trump.
Lord Munodi endures the ridicule of the academics for not embracing their new ideas. Ideas flourishing, throughout Balnibarbi, from new educational institutions, each being called ‘Academy of Projectors.’
‘Projector’ has two meanings, one, modern, refers to a device to project images on a screen. The other – as per Dr. Johnson’s dictionary of the English language, printed in 1755 – refers to a person or persons “who form wild impractical schemes.”
Balnibarbi’s academics, after a sabbatical in Laputa, had obtained a royal patent to fund and erect an Academy of Projectors in Lagado, “… and the humor prevailed so strongly among the people, that there is not a town of any consequence in the kingdom, without such an academy.”
Echoing the events in Balnibarbi, many European countries have restructured their universities to copy and follow to the letter the American system in the universities, including the length of the courses, their grading and the name of the conferred titles upon graduation. Add to this the practical degradation in rank for history and geography. Witness, for example, the British foreign ministress ignoring, confounding or repositioning important cities in Russia. Demonstrating, therefore, that the current European ‘Academics of Projectors’ believe that European culture is obsolete and that parroting an alien scheme and system is the key to a brilliant educational future.
The first person Gulliver meets in the Grand Academy of Lagado is “a man of a meager aspect…. He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers; which were to be put into vials, hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air, in winter o during inclement summers. He said he did not doubt, in eight years more, that he should be able to supply the governor’s gardens with sunshine at a reasonable rate…”
Gulliver then moves to another laboratory… “but I was ready to hasten back, being overcome by a horrible stink. My guide pressed me forward, conjuring me in a whisper to give no offense, which would be highly resented; and therefore, I should not even close my nostrils.
The projector of this cell was the most ancient student of the academy… his hands and clothes covered with filth… His employment from his first coming into the academy was an operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by separating the several parts; removing the tincture that it receives from the gall, making the odor exhale, and scumming off the saliva. He had a weekly allowance from the society, of a vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol barrel.”
For sure, the modern ‘projectors’ involved in handling the cats’ urine and measuring the mice’s fear did not stoop so low, though some readers may agree that the handsomely funded project has a similar flavor… or odor (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Another Lagado’s projector “… found a device of plowing the ground with hogs, to save the charges of plows, cattle and labor. The method being this. In an acre of ground you bury at six inches distance, and eight deep, a quantity of acorns, dates, chestnuts and other vegetables whereof these animals are fondest; then you drive six hundred or more of them into the field, where in a few days they will root up the whole ground in search for their food, and make it fit for sowing, at the same time manuring it with their dung. It is true, upon experiment, they found the charge and trouble very great, and they had little or no crop. However, the projector undoubtedly felt that the invention may be capable of great improvement.”
Some may agree, however, that the Gulliverian and environmentally-friendly manuring of agricultural fields by amenable hogs, better approaches feasibility than, for example, spending billions on heat pumps to reduce inflation and electricity consumption.
But current Gulliverian episodes need not to be as extreme as the cases so far reported. For example, I know a large Catholic family very well respected in the community. They and their respective families are always very helpful to each other and charitable to others. And on issues where their opinions differ they routinely agree to disagree.
One such recent issue has to do with the pandemic, which split the family into ‘Covidists’ and ‘A-covidists’. And in a remarkable coincidence of medical and political convictions, all the Covidists are Bidenists, whereas the A-covidists are Trumpians.
Most recently a granddaughter was born in one of the Covidist families. Therefore, at the church Baptism, the masked-up Bidenists stood in front and the unmasked Trumpians at the back, divided by a no-man’s land filled with rows of empty pews. Whereupon we can assume that the viruses had a hard time at the front, a good time at the back, while those in no man’s land were laughing their spikes off.
On a related subject, it seems that the Covid pandemic has lost some of its steam. Tentatively, the Monkey-Pox has replaced Covid. However – in a Gulliverian mood – the CDC (Center of Disease Control) has recently launched a competition among the public to find another name for the new virus.
No reason was given because none is needed. Or rather, the lexical, rhythmical and tempting association between Monkey-Pox and Monkey-Business is inevitable. And even the most dormant mind may be inadvertently awakened to the connection between corporate medicine and fraud. Leading him, in turn, to a life of thought-crime beyond redemption.
Very Gulliverian is equally the saga involving the so-called European Union and their posture regarding Russia. Which is but an externation of ideologies for long artfully concealed. Because, just as any action or posture, long continued, will distort and disfigure the limbs, so an organization is likewise crippled and contracted by perpetual application to the same ideology.
In the instance, the puffed-up peacocks, nominally in charge of the organization, are ready to sacrifice the fundamental interests of Europe to their own interests. Which are both personal and indissolubly linked to the unmentionable and corrupt entities that give power to the puppets.
There is a most apt aphorism (that is, a concise statement of a principle) describing the latest and current Gulliverian European-Unionist exploit. The aphorism is somewhat rude and, to assuage the sensibilities of some, I feel oblige to provide its short history and justification.
To begin with, the excellence of aphorisms consists not so much in the expression of some rare and abstruse sentiment, as in the compression of some obvious and useful truth in a few words. And he may therefore be justly remembered among the benefactors of mankind who contracts some general observation into short sentences that may be easily impressed on the memory and re-applied when needed.
And here is the history of the aphorism in question. Several years ago, a political scandal, frequently occurring in Italy, involved a politician and a plebeian. A type of plebeian who has become a fixture of political life (in Italy and probably elsewhere). But in Italy, the dictionary acquired a brand new term to describe the character. The term is ‘portaborse’, literally money-bag-carrier. In English “carrying the bag” refers to “him who carries a metaphorical bag and is made responsible for illegalities or mishaps committed by others.” The Italian version has the merit of concision. Besides, while incorporating the English meaning, it also implies that a ‘portaborse’ also carries (often in a physical bag) the ill-gotten money obtained by the corrupt politicians whom he serves.
In the instance, the politician(s) involved attempted to attribute all responsibilities for their crime to the plebeian in question, that is to the ‘portaborse’. Who, when interviewed on public television and referring to his masters said, “They want to be queer with somebody else’s ass.”
I blush on behalf of the sensitive, but the expression equally and aptly describes the recent Gulliverian behavior by European politicians. Who, while wrecking the economy and forcing Europeans to forgo the essentials, make Russia responsible for their own misdeeds. Starting from the irritatingly pompous Ursula Von der Lugen, the proto-cretin Joseph Borrell and others in tow, all wrapped-up in the bubbles of artificial notoriety and ever ready to flatter their undeclared masters.
To end this tale of Gulliverian woe, Jonathan Swift knew that his Gulliver could not prompt the corrupted and corrupters of his time to alter their behavior. But he felt that he could make his readers better aware of the prejudice of faction, the stratagems of intrigue and the servility of adulation. All often found in those who “… dressed in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what they are most assured, play such fantastic tricks before high heaven, as make the angels weep.” (3)
(1) Romeo and Juliet
(2) Midsummer’s Night Dream
(3) Measure for Measure