Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any actual person, real or imaginary, is entirely accidental, for the less part, among things for the sake of something, and not according to choice. Readers who find such an intrusion of the garbled and accidental boastful or self-absorbed are entirely correct, and must read to the very end.
Walking about so as not to let the food (such as it was) rise, I chanced upon a wealthy man of the parish. As it happened, I was collecting subscriptions for a whitsun ale, and having some experience in such matters would never have wasted my time asking wealthy folk. For besides that it avails nothing, it tends to set up the sort of obligations which can only exist in modern times. The sort, you understand, that exist in societies where there is no gratitude and honor. Or rather, where the poor man’s recompense is gratitude and honor, or flattery and knowing grins (these are cheaper and just as good, so they have supplanted the former on the CPI), but the rich man’s recompense is exact and monetary.
By chance, upon this meeting, it occurred to me that just such a thing is envisioned by Aristotle as an example somewhere in the Physics. When first I came to read of it, I thought, “Aha!” Here, it seemed, was the sort of example that the modern mind could understand. We of the twenty-first century have made much progress. Like Swift’s spider, only more so, we have attained a plane of consciousness inaccessible, incomprehensible, to the ancients, and owing them nothing. We find their philosophy, at its best, quaint. But, being at the time not even a score of summers old, and having read less Kiyosaki than Leo XIII (that is to say, than I had, though Leo of course is reported to have been an avid reader of Kiyosaki), I thought, “Sure, the modern mind is obsessed with gain, particularly of the monetary sort. The ‘principles’ of finance are to him as familiar as walking was to medieval man, before it fell into disfavor. And as a consequence, subscriptions for a feast, whether a benefit for the poor or an ale for the church, or simply a festival of some sort, should be the sort of thing modern man can grasp.” As you see, mine was a stunted, communist mind. In my defense, I had, through no fault of my own, been steeped in marxist drivel all my life, from the Baltimore Catechism all the way to Quadragesimo Anno and beyond. Indeed as an adolescent I had, to my shame, once almost picked up a thick volume by George Eliot, the title of which I do not recall, and even if I did, nec nominetur in vobis. I did not read it, having at the last moment turned aside from those furthest extremes of socialism, but for a number of reasons I wrote a scathing book report on it anyway, and it turned out that it was the thin edge of the wedge where cultural marxism was concerned, propaganda from first to last, and not worth the modern student’s time. Even so, I was a sort of rot brained Bolshevist. I had not detected the subtle influence of Engels in Augustine’s City of God, disguised and hidden as it was amidst delightful stories of men who could sing any tune by farting, including Motel California. Augustine, as you will doubtless remember, was sued by the Beagles for mentioning this song, and gave a very communist argument about the truth being common to all. Needless to say, his counsel advised settling out of court, which he did, and even now continues to pay the Beagles twenty percent of all royalties on City of God, 87 Questions, and Retractations.
In the course, though, of later life better habits prevailed. Class conflict, I came to understand, has always and everywhere its roots in the desire of poor people of very little worth to steal the wealth which rightfully belongs to Zuckerberg, Bezos, some various Waltons, Gateses and Slims and pretty much no one else. Examples of this sort of class conflict abound, from beggars begging brazenly in public view all the way to the infamous revolutionaries buying food with food stamps. Subscriptions for feasts, when requested from the wealthy, fall into this same category. The widow is but just to give her mite, the rich man has a duty not to give this sort of handout. And so it turns out that we do not understand this example at all, if we are ashamed to collect from the indigent and know better than to collect from the wealthy. And together have died the whitsun ale and our chance at understanding Aristotle’s intention there.
There has been much talked of in recent months an hilarious prankster and satirist by the name of Rodney Drehngerfield. His latest routine was a very succesful best-selling book proposing that all practice and knowledge of ethics, economics, politics, and religion should be set aside and one only right put in place of all, to wit, religious liberty. This done, man should reinvent himself as a quasi non-communal beast, one which only does “religion,” not some particular religion (for instance the true one) but rather any. This may have been the height of his comic career, or there may be better yet to come, but even thus far he has rivalled Sacha Baron Cohen. He even calls himself “Your Working Boy,” as if to emphasize the droll mockery to which he is subjecting those who take his meticulously constructed persona seriously. But it is the case with satire among serious things, especially when carried out by non-Christians such as Mr. Drehngerfield, that it often can provoke laughter at and contempt toward that which is fundamentally not funny. So, although Drehngerfield has provided much amusement and public service by infuriating a certain class of hypocrite, he has also done a disservice to the communities and types of people he has parodied in order to do so. Much like his hero Ignatius Reilly, his character is a deliberate laughingstock and exemplar of baseness, made in good fun and the best of intentions. But now his bit is a nightmarish impediment to anyone arguing for the restoration of the ideals which he has in an ironical spirit nominally espoused.
Decades ago, perhaps centuries, a Colombian girl who almost spoke English demanded an account of my studies, which were very much taken up at the time with the fascinating subject of apotomes. Being the very naïvest sort of child, I told her this. Then I explained in great detail almost everything I would later forget about apotomes. No term paper or exam ever received fuller attention from me than that short, learned treatise on apotomes. Here was a chance to raise an aboriginal (somewhere, anyway) savage from her squalor to the contemplation of speculative truth. The outcome was inspiring. Not only did she readily grasp the subject at hand, with the exception of certain minor points such as those having to do with commensurable and incommensurable magnitudes, but saw beyond this to the higher and more noble purpose hidden in all those marvellous propositions. “How,” she asked, “can you use that to make moneys?” As the Frenchies say, the more the cat changes, the more it makes a choice meme.
Moral: The professional writer, like professionals in general, can be excused for providing sordid information about rates, credentials, personal foibles, and to some extent even for misleading and destructive agenda. We understand instinctively that the Writer must eat. But in the amateur such things have no excuse.