Naming something cliché1 usually means it is trite, dull, unimaginative. It can be quite a satisfying accusation to make, but it stings when it comes at you the first time. Like realizing you are a character in a quaint plot from a 1980s coming of age film, wherein some cheerleader tells you your a walking joke smoking your clove cigarettes in a long wool coat in the early summer, and a little black book of your own verse poking out of the pocket. (But we don’t have time to get into that now.) Clichés can hurt, but they can be useful too: ‘Putting the cart before the horse’, now that is a perfectly fit derision for anyone transgressing Gnon.
Clichés can make you laugh, scowl, or feel feels generally. They say something essential, and at times something usefully familiar. For it goes without saying that laughter is the best medicine, especially after waking up on the wrong side of the bed. And there is nothing funnier than watching someone fall head over heels in love, or otherwise for that matter. (But that’s just a figure of speech.) The best clichés endure time; purified until proverbial. While others are just playful use of language; ‘Cat got your tongue?’ This one confused me as a child. Still does. I pictured a cat putting its paw on my mouth as I tried to speak. Now the cat is toying with some wriggling thing like a live fish in the corner, before it sinks its pinlike teeth in. Clichés can be as terrifying as fairy tales.
It is good to show children that words are playthings. but that this play can take many forms. Sometimes we stack words up into orderly structures, or fasten them precisely like an Erector Set. Other times we dip our fingers in and muck them about in shapes on paper. Or, in time we learn to use a brush and closely represent the things in the world around, drawing out the beauty. We make our words as pretty as a picture, because, as everyone and their dog knows, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Erector Set: Just White guy things
Memeticists know this natural fact well. The best internet memes twist familiar kitsch into novelty. The newness usually cutting at the assumptions of polite society. Not all memes are clichéd (yet), but all clichés are memes. Still, not all memes are equal: some are more equal than others, and some are just worse for wear.
Will this Polonial reverie eventually reach its destination? Only time will tell.
Leftists make cringworthy memes. Preachy propaganda posters really. Too sententious to do them right. Their memes tend to be petty or saccharine. Subtextually, or as we used to say in simpler times, ‘if you read between the lines’, they are defending some contemporary social orthodoxy; humourless, materteral, chastening. Catladyesque to put a fine point on it. Rightist memes are likewise social>moral commentary, but more of the kick in the balls variety. The best AltRIght memes mock enemies while encouraging the troupes. Even when some Leftist thinks he’s searing a sick burn into the gut of his Rightist opponent, she is invariably mocking herm own unquantified assumptions. Sharpening the point, Leftist are generally a bunch of whinny bitches, and as such it is difficult for them to be funny. Every joke needs a brunt, but they approach words with egalitarian moral earnestness. Has something to do with their fundamental insecurities. Nihilism tends to take the joy out, even if you are a permanently stoned polyamorous non-binary pleasure monkey. (Progs are at least masters at the art of incarnating novel platitudes into their lived social (dis)order.) That’s quite enough derisive turns if of phrase for now! Mocking Commies is like shooting fish in a barrel.
See what I mean, Gaaay.
This does bring to mind the intended theme of this installment though. Think of the above as the opening scene of a Simpson’s episode—more hackneyed than clichéd—an absurd stream of consciousness leading to the germ of the main plot.
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The Left<>Right political polarity is a metacliché, discussed at many levels of political analysis. When average citizens, or averagely intelligent politicians, decry Partisan Politics, they don’t really mean it. Well not as disinterested observers wanting the pure dialogue of Ideas. They generally want the other party to see things their way; to cross the floor and embrace a perfectly reasonable, and universally laudable viewpoint. The polarity remains. Chomsky made a whole overrated career for himself pointing out that the Left and Right in the USA were really not so different after all. He seems to have finally stopped beating this dead horse though. His rhetoric these days shows a loss of faith in his heretofore perennial analysis; Donald Trump is different. When the illusion of this false dichotomy was finally shattered, he had hoped his beloved Totalitarian Anarchy would get the head seat at the table. Silly Progs: they already had power, but their Socialist autism could never be satisfied. Marx’s promised land was not in sight. White people realized it was a zero sum for them and their posterity, and so picked up their toys and went home to play.
Transcending this polarity is long overdue. I try almost every time I write on social-political matters, but this damn Left vs Right binary sticks to the shoe. Is each side of this inequality equal tough? Are they two halves of the whole of the body politic? Like the black and the white of a Yin Yang wheel, ever spinning, never mixed. Or is this opposition something more ad hoc than eternal?
The big problem with the Left<>Right polarity is it brings us into the Left’s realm of discourse. We don’t want to be there any longer. Even though they have been largely victorious over the past centuries. Progressive victories are conceived normatively. And so giving them control of the lexicon tends toward their victory. As has been said many times before, Leftism is Ideological at heart. Though the stated goal is universal human happiness; results are less important than faithful adherence to what is right: an unholy alliance of Mill and Kant . In a sense the pop Right movement from the 20th century forward, Conservatism as contrasted with Reaction, evolved as an Ideological mirror of the Left. So what began in the seats of the French National Assembly as a violent polarity between Tradition and Revolution, has quelled into a spat between two progressive camps. Strange bedfellows who just can’t quit each other. The Progressives need the funds generated by the economic liberals to finance revolution, while the merchants need a population of Universal Persons, buying wares: chalk and cheese pie with an apple-orange compote on top to help you choke it down.
Along with the other problems here, Guy Fawkes was Reactionary.
The original polarity was Tradition<>Revolution. In the current political climate, Reactionary is a better term than Conservative. To recall the depth of the ongoing culture war, NeoReactionay is even better, yet still implies a temporal state of struggle. A state the true Reactionary wants to end, restoring a society of living tradition rooted in natural law; a spirited land full of toil and joy; somewhere between the utopia promised and the dystopia delivered under perpetual revolt. A society foremost wherein we can stop Reacting.
We have smashed our bipolar cliché, but the damn thing keeps reassembling itself. Those who go to Prog finishing school are taught that binary thinking as stunted; viciously so. Through some clever self-deception they don’t think they are falling into this thinking when they demonize their opponents as Effectively Hitler. In standard Prog Think they are merely quarantining the evil of Far Right discrimination, lest it poison the pure waters of pluralism with notions of supremacy. Self-satisfying fantasies aside, binary persistence needs to be accounted for. Can it really be a matter of learning to see the world in opposites? Is the meme world really a chaotic swarm of Ideas that we apply a rigid and artificial binary order to? To some extent this must be true. But where would we get this skill from, and why? Perhaps broad categories of thought naturally and logically align as paired opposites? Having written these words it is clear a good deal more research and time is need to treat this subject. We will have to at least consult Zoroaster, the I Ching, and Leibniz. For the time being we will posit that social polarities naturally develop when founding principles radically diverge.
And here we may get to sorting out the meaning of these paired sets: Right<>Left, Conservative<>Progressive, Tradition<>Revolution. We will give a brief account
The July Revolution and subsequent Terror was not the start of polarity. It was the clearest social manifestation to that time. The binary of Right and Left theorizing were enfleshed and named. The difference in those days was profound; a polarity of traditional authority and popular democracy. Right<>Left was equivalent to the Tradition<>Revolution binary. Taking this last pair as broadly as possible, it remains the one incommensurate polarity.
Without making a defense of Monarchy as an absolute requirement of a healthy Tradition here (though, a rose by any other name), Tradition can be posited as an organic society rooted in spiritual, biological and environmental reality. Revolution is unrooted; uprooted really. For ‘Radical’ does not imply grounded, but rather perpetual digging. Tearing at the remnants of Traditional society: Authority, Patriarchy, and Ethnicity. From the Traditionalist observation this uprooting is endless because it is doomed at the outset. For Traditional society is not a policy position. It isn’t by volition, but is the perennial testimony of Natural Law. Leftist Revolutionary society is a collective madness—wish fulfillment. Doomed not just to the unavoidable sorrows of life, but to the nauseating soul sickness that comes of wrestling Gnon.
In the duration since the French Revolution, the public Right, the Right that is still permitted a place in the polite company of our institutions, has been pulled about by the nose by the Left. For the establishment Right rejects Tradition as much as any Marxist. These may look back at the Revolt and Terror with some horror, but can never bring themselves to side with the king. Can only take guilty pleasure in the guillotine blade falling down upon the alabaster neck of Marie Antoinette. (Who by the by never coined that cliché about bread and cake.) Their shared radical anti-traditionalism makes the Conservative<>Progressive polarity really just the Slow-Prog<>Fast-Prog polarity. In this way Chomsky is at least partly correct. Though his own participation in the manufacture of consent should be called out. His own fundamental agreement with with the establishment he and his disciples fancy themselves as radically other than.
Video still: Brad the ‘Times R a’changin” open mic host
So the real polarity is not cliché. It is mostly unnamed in the contemporary world. Ignored as much as possible, and when seen, rejected. Traditionalism is revolted against because it is misunderstood as being made form choices: oppressive edicts from nasty Patriarchs from the depths of history.
But even this degenerate age cannot keep from revealing the underlying reality that Tradition is built on. We can confuse it. Fragment its intention to bring us to wholeness. Every time a young woman is giddy at the sight of baby clothes in a department store, every time a young man reforms his life to win that girl, every time that man comes home to read to children as dinner making is graciously finished, there is Nature rising up in Tradition. Rejecting these natural gifts can never bring the grounded pleasure of belonging; only the distracted misery of rebellion, given meaning by the moral conceit of being in the right. All of the ills in our contemporary societies, familial, social, political and environmental, would find better solutions in a social order flourishing on long traditions rooted in Nature.
The Prog is parasitic to the Nature>Tradition outflow. Without the virtues of hard work and diligence in putting our hard earned cash into the public coffers, the contemporary Left would be no more than a book club for cat ladies. And this brings us to a jumping off point.
If we stopped rebelling against Logos, perhaps there would be something renewed under the sun.
- I use the French for reasons so obvious they are cliché.