Original spoken word by Frank McGregor
The Polyphonic Spree – Section 19
She said, Water-boarding is how we baptize terrorists…
If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… perhaps it will ruffle some feathers when I state, for the historical record, that Pope Francis I, the Vatican, Holy See and other institutions of the Catholic Church, after more than 1900 years of Evangelical propaganda (since the initial publication of Saint John’s Book of Revelations), have neglected to acknowledge the words of a lion of Judah’s tribe who shares in the roots of King David (possibly), and who is adorned with red robes, having a name written upon him and a mark on his thigh which says in Scot’s Gaelic, ‘s rioghal mo dhream, “My Race is Royal.” [Note: my race is Human]
Theologians and student’s of Christian Scripture will immediately notice the startling similarity between these words and those listed in Revelations chapters 5 and 19. But the critical mind will also acknowledge the distinct variations and this writer’s careful refusal to assert absolute identity with the character mentioned in John’s Prophecy. What has been offered instead is a dubious affinity between the signs mentioned by John and the traditional garb of a Scottish Highland clan, the Sons of Griogair, Children of the Mist, in addition to a hypothesis that rests entirely on legend, hearsay and the coincidental (or providential) adoption of related symbols to represent a Catholic University in their marketing efforts. (See: Questions only a Pope would answer and also An Open Letter to the Pope in Rome)
The question naturally follows: Why? Why would a person do something so patently absurd? Why would a person present the Pope a comparison so laughably speculative as to merit only ridicule and whose plausible deniability can only be taken as a matter of faith? My answer to these questions is that the absurdity of my problem seems to necessitate an equally absurd solution and, whereas my problem derives from experiences at a University sponsored by the Catholic Church, the solution should also involve the Catholic Church.
However, it must be mentioned that, where philosophy is concerned, I choose the middle road between Relativist and Absolutist attitudes toward Truth, opting instead for the Fallibilist attitude that accepts the possibility that I could be completely mistaken, but that I am still justified in holding my incorrect beliefs until I am presented with sufficient, convincing evidence to the contrary (for the record, I believe some part of humanity’s salvation lay in popular adoption of this Fallibilist attitude, although I could be mistaken).
To be sure you understand, the problem I have set out to solve is not purely personal. If it were, I could hardly expect the Pope to grace me with his charity. Alas, my problem involves all people – the entire human race – most especially the poor and downtrodden. Therefore, considering that Pope Francis has made numerous statements intended to inspire charity and service to the poor, in the spirit of Saint Francis and following the teachings of Jesus himself, I find ample justification to seek his direct aid and the support of his Church.
Now, simply stated, my problem is this: I love learning. More than any other activity, my happiest hours have been absorbed in quiet study and deep contemplation, but (and this is a big BUT) my learning has not been recognized by any institution of higher education, despite my best efforts. To the contrary, I was saddled with an unreal debt burden and forced to pursue unfulfilling work, without credentials to reflect my true worth. The result has been devastating, leaving me to suffer a marginal existence – hardly able to satisfy my most basic needs, let alone to support a family or help solve the global challenges that affect all people.
For all my learning, I have come to know the pain of hunger very well and, what is worse, I know that I do not suffer alone but live every day with constant awareness that billions of other people have suffered much more than I ever have, with even less hope of escaping poverty. Could we quantify the number of people throughout history whose entire existence has been wasted in destitution, it would be the most depressing statistic ever conceived. At the same time, I know that the unprecedented prosperity enjoyed by a few today is almost entirely dependent on limited resources and that, as those resources dwindle, it will only intensify the plight endured by so many already. That is not a future I want to experience.
What is the solution? Some say ‘leadership’ is needed, although radical anarchists reject this notion preferring instead a future with ‘no gods and no managers.’ Yet, while I respect their yearning for true freedom and inalienable right to express these opinions, I do not believe that violent revolution can provide solutions that are agreeable to the majority of people around the world. Still, if you learn nothing else from me, I want you to understand beyond doubt that the majority of philosophical anarchists I have known are not violent, but are some of the kindest, most humble and gentle people living today (one might go so far as to say ‘meek’).
So, what are the alternatives to global insurrection? Turning back to the idea proposed by most of the international community, institutions of the United Nations, intergovernmental agencies and non-governmental organizations – that ‘leadership’ should pave the way to solutions to the global challenges of our age – we must ask, whose leadership? A common answer given is that the world’s sole remaining super-power – the United States of America – should lead the world in solving the problems we share in common.
Many Americans agree with this idea in principle, but unfortunately our ability to translate our most noble aspirations into meaningful action has been constrained by a variety of factors. Although we would like to see ourselves as the great heroes of world history, spreading the light of Liberty and Democracy to the far corners of the Earth, recent political and economic developments lead us to question whether or not we are still qualified to assert those values on the world stage.
It has been asked, how can we claim to represent Liberty, when we rank highest in incarcerations as a percentage of population, relative to other nations? When privatization of our prison industry seems to have turned our ‘criminal justice’ system into a profiteering racket? A counter-argument might say that our legal system is still constrained by certain limitations, checks and balances, to avoid cruel and unusual punishments (unless you view death as a cruel punishment). Then an activist would rage in protest of police brutality, suggesting that America’s laws would be better enforced with compassionate restraint. But, anyone familiar with the brutality exercised by police and para-military forces in other countries would know that Americans are relatively fortunate (with noteworthy exceptions). However, a patriot might assert that, so long as our Bill of Rights retains its legal authority, we retain a historical precedent for civil rights globally and this is a very good reason to preserve the rights enshrined in that document (as it underpins our credibility internationally).
However, when we come to the question of Democracy, the answers are not so easy. If we are willing to accept facts as a reasonable measure of Truth, then the American people have a hard pill to swallow because the facts appear to indicate that our political system is more accurately characterized as a Fascist Oligarchy (where the term Fascism technically indicates the merger of Corporate and State power and Oligarchy reflects the statistical correlation between US policy outcomes and the stated interests of the financial elite). To illustrate this point, we reflect on the already well known influence of corporate lobbyists in Washington, the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council in crafting model legislation, in addition to research by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University (for more information, see: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/princeton-experts-say-us-no-longer-democracy and also: http://www.opensecrets.org ).
Many Americans will find these ideas difficult to accept. One would be right to say, despite these facts, that our political process still operates according on the democratic model, where legislation proposed by citizens and their “representatives” is subject to debate and must pass a vote prior to becoming law. Unfortunately, it remains that, where votes tend to favor the interests of corporate campaign contributors above the authentic interests of a represented population, the locus of power remains with those whose interests are actually represented: ergo, Fascism. Moreover, where there are known and persistent efforts (by gerrymandered districts and voter suppression) to limit the voting rights and political influence of average citizens, whose participation in the electoral process is a determining quality of Representative Democracy, how on Earth can we pretend to be the guarantors of democratic ideals for the rest of humanity? Furthermore, what does any of this have to do with Pope Francis and a Catholic University?
Everything is connected. Just as I depend on the hard work of other Americans and laborers globally for the relative prosperity I have enjoyed, so too do all Americans and the international community depend upon me, to a lesser degree, to contribute what I can. We each exist as interdependent entities, from birth to death, sometimes giving, sometimes taking. In the course of a human life-span, we each experience varying degrees of dependence and independence, with one extreme of dependence, the crying babe clutching to its mother’s breast for protection and nourishment, representing a supremely common experience shared by humans throughout history. This dependency is symbolically represented in Christian iconography through the image of Mary and the baby Jesus, but the image of a young mother with her child existed long before the Church in Rome. She was also celebrated in Pagan Alexandria, in the guise of Isis and her son Horace, and there is ample evidence to support this point (I recommend careful study of the Korē Kosmou annotated by Manly P. Hall.) Just the same, I have become like the screaming babe, desperately clinging to the breast of a Mother Church (that is, the Christian community globally), for want of protection and nourishment, as are all the world’s poor when they look up to a Pope who has taken their interests to heart.
A charitable person would ask, what are the interests of the poor? One might just as well ask, what are the interests of all people, of all living organisms? The answers are identical and elementary:clean water to drink, nutritious food to eat, shelter from the storm of life, protection from the violence of others, love and care in sickness, laughter and joyful experience. Beyond these common necessities, nothing else can be considered ‘important.’ Yet, somehow we have failed to achieve an equitable distribution of these basic necessities and focused our attention instead on many unimportant issues and trivial controversies, while some fortunate few bask the lap of a luxury beyond the dreams of even the mightiest kings of antiquity.
One is led to wonder, how would the kings of antiquity view the state of our modern civilization? Could I summon their ghosts to ask, I am sure that their opinions would vary. However, a cautious survey of history suggests some common themes, when we observe the expectations people had for their leaders traditionally. Whether we are speaking of the Pharaohs of Egypt, Sage Kings of ancient China, of Babylon, Assyria, India, Hattusa, Minos, Crete, Persia, Macedonia, Thailand, Israel or anywhere else that has allowed a king to reign, and even if we limit our consideration only to primitive tribal groups, whether patriarchy or matriarchy, we find the exact same expectations manifest: that leaders are expected to be responsible to ensure both the protection and the prosperity of a community: fertility of the soils, regular rains and our success in the hunt. We could identify these as natural Laws, name them primordial duties of leaders, no matter where they live, on Earth or in the heavens just the same.
Be assured, I do not mean to obscure the failures of past leaders, nor to enter into any form of historical revisionism, nor even to suggest that monarchy is the preferred ideal form of political association. Far from it, we know too well the cruel caprice of so many tyrants and corrupt human dictators. However, if one would accept the fallible insight of Saint Thomas Aquinas on this subject, it could be recognized that a true King, properly so called, is distinguished from the common tyrant by his strict adherence to the common good. Specifically, to quote his letter On Kingship, to the King of Cypress (trans. Gerald B. Phelan),
“A government becomes unjust by the fact that the ruler, paying no heed to the common good, seeks his own private good. Wherefore the further he departs from the common good the more unjust will his government be. But there is a greater departure from the common good in an oligarchy [emphasis mine], in which the advantage of a few is sought, than in a democracy, in which the advantage of many is sought; and there is still greater departure from the common good in a tyranny, where the advantage of only one man is sought. For a large number is closer to the totality than a small number, and a small number than only one. Thus, the government of a tyrant is the most unjust.”
So far, I have neglected to acknowledge the peculiar institution of slavery and class divisions that have shaped so much of human history, in the same way the Pope and Vatican have neglected to acknowledge me. What can be said? I’m sorry. Please allow me to remedy the error… Take my purse, I don’t need it anymore. Do you want some food, I have extra. Where will you sleep tonight? I have a couch, come in out of the storm and share my roof… I can wash your feet, if you will scratch my backside. Just leave your shoes by the door. What? You say that you are stranded across a pond, let me build you a bridge. Here it is, a conceptual bridge to open a door of understanding, let me take your coat and fish hat.
Then I awoke, finding myself in a great room, the sun shining through wide open windows. A wind whistles and blue skies greet my eyes. There are trees I see with green leaves and tin-shingled rooftops with chimneys and bird-holes. A chirp breaks the silence as I wonder what to do next. I take a sip from the drink at my side and think of the books on my shelf. Should I read one? Maybe two or three… Before I do, I must clean myself and eat. Where am I?
I came here to speak with you about the plight of humankind, of my plight and utter desperation. I need help. I need your help. I literally have tears running down my face, on my knees at your feet, begging you to show me mercy. Begging you to raise me up, to say that I am a king – full of dignity – and anoint me with your oil. What I want for myself, I want for all people. No man, woman or child should suffer life in bondage, enslaved to forces beyond any hope of control. It is the presumption of mankind, to assume and assert his dominance over others. We see the same behavior expressed in great apes and their primate relatives, dogs and other species of aggressive mammals where they congregate in groups. One lashes out against another, as if to say I am boss now. The same phenomena is observed in human relations.
As societies grew up over time, the modes of association changed. Tribal gatherings of prehistory gave way to an urban agricultural civilization and industrial economy over time, resulting in varied transformations in the interdependencies of people. For most of history, the family has been a primary nexus of relationships, with secondary relations drawn from these networks of friends and their children. But orphans and run-aways follow their own paths and form various relationships according to the distinct circumstance in their lives. Sometimes, one or another may find refuge with a new family, by adoption or by an expansive sense of friendship, that provides some temporary sanctuary against the constant threat of death we all share.
These various networks of tribes and families would display similar forms of dominance behavior over the course of history. So war grew from the seed of single combat between individuals to absorb entire families, tribes, villages, trading-companies and cities later on. The growth of urbanized populations, with the advent of agriculture and development of tool industries, also resulted in a higher propensity to form cooperative tertiary relations and trade, so artisanal associations and mercantile networks gradually formed over time to stretch across the landscape. The invention of boats and domestication of horse and cattle gave speed to the transport of goods across ever greater distances, resulting in a regionally-interdependent global economy between these various city-states, as they evolved from the state of Nature.
At the same time, the same way as we observe in the behavior of other mammal animals, the human groups began to form territorial associations. In primitive nomadic circumstance the boundaries were often fluid, encompassing only the immediate location and situation of a group. However, as societies’ legal associations developed in the first villages and cities, these boundaries became more rigid for both group and individual. So, our concepts of property, land-ownership and legal codes evolved from the archaic nomadism of prehistory, as the hunter/gatherers slowly settled to become agriculturalists, artisans and city-dwellers.
The politics of modern society owe fealty to these humble beginnings. We all owe fealty to these same origins and to deny such a heritage is to deny all the evidence provided to our senses, leading to existential crisis and unwarranted strife, unless I am wrong. In this way do all men, women and otherwise gendered individuals own a share in the roots of David. It follows from logical necessity that, insofar as the available evidence supports the axiom that says humankind came into being on the planet Earth from a common cosmic source, we all are related to each other by that common source. Unless it can be proven that David was other than being, or that he did not originate from the common Source we share, it must be accepted that all humankind shares a direct familial association with the tribe of Judah, King David’s true and royal family.
What does this mean? It means that our race is royal. It means that my race is royal and it means that my family has every right to carry ourselves with the dignity of kings, if we so desire. It means that you yourself have every right to carry yourself with the dignity of a king, or a queen, or whatevah you choose, because we are all brothers and sisters or other forms of relatives, you and me and every other living being in the cosmos and the higher reality wherein our cosmos is contained. Everything is connected. Every one of us is connected and interdependent with the meta-cosmic environment we share – legally speaking the Commons – Earth and heavens included entire.
It also means that we are related to Jesus, insofar as we can believe that he exists in the common Reality somehow, somewhere. Really think about it, did Jesus come to be on Earth? We are born of the same Source. The same can be said of the historical Prophets, may peace be upon them all. Each and every one of us shares the same cosmos from where we all find common origin, insofar as we can believe in the premise of our own existence and/or so-called Being.
So what? Why should Pope Francis or anyone else care about any of this? The Pope should care because he is also like a king, cousin of Jesus, and so shares our responsibility to uphold the primordial duties of leadership by strict adherence to the common Good of all living beings. However, in the event he may disagree with my conclusions, I apologize. Unless I am mistaken, Pope Francis will appreciate that my methodology is purely Franciscan, following the advice of Saint Bonaventure, based on contemplation of the life and times of Jesus, his passion, death and resurrection, and imitation of the same.
In his text Lignum Vitae Bonaventure compares Jesus’ life to the Tree of Life and, taking this as my starting point, I discovered related comparisons of the Crucifix with the symbol of Jacob’s Ladder, forming a bridge, linking material Earth and humankind to a higher reality. The image of a tree-qua-bridge permeates the mythology of our primitive ancestors, so too with a snake which represented humankind’s spiritual tether, forming the connective tissue between our living consciousness and the higher Unity of everything, or All. Some say it is a silver chord, while other people say it is no ‘thing’ at all. But, the fact remains that we are tied together and inescapably bound with the common Reality. That is, unless I am mistaken.
At the heart of the common Reality is the Source, some people imagined as a fountain, for others a flaming ball of light, like a Sun shining so brightly it cannot be seen (though perhaps we sense neutrinoid emanations). In the Bible, it is a spring that feeds four rivers… named for rivers that sustained several human communities on one tiny planet orbiting one tiny little sun in the vast expanse of our cosmos. Some time before recorded history, humans imagined a ceremony of baptism to represent immersion into the rivers fed by that Source. So, when Jesus was baptized by John, this represented the highest form of surrender to transcendent Reality.
For one reason or another, politicians in the United States, namely Sarah Palin, some people, believe it is ethically justified to characterize such a sacred ritual as a form of punishment for suspected freedom fighters. She said, “Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists,” and American, so-called Christian, patriots cheer her. In my fallible opinion, it is a vulgar insult for her to speak of these sacred theatrics in such a profane manner, she should be ashamed. Thus, I would not get her stoned. If she ran for president, I would vote for the other. Had I any money, I would contribute to all her opponents and their propaganda campaigns. I would go on ranting tours, raving to every town and village and hamlet; and I would denounce her before all the world.
Would I be ethically justified? I believe so, but I could be mistaken. Alas, I have no money for that course of action, so who knows what will actually happen. I can only speak to the potential course of events, without knowing what actually happens until after it has actually happened. Time flows on, some say it is like a river. How can we know? Seeking answers to these questions, we begin to investigate the cosmos – our home. Thus Philosophy is born, all our sciences and patient study of the phenomena of living experience.
Today we are investigating the question of whether or not Pope Francis and the Catholic Church should acknowledge the higher learning of one individual human from Texas. Am I qualified to answer this question? I have no way to know absolutely, but I can take a guess and hope for the best. Therefore I guess it would not be the worst possible outcome if the Pope empowered me to be a forceful advocate for the common interest, or King properly so called. Any wise strategist will comprehend the logic of a force multiplier: whereas, although my voice in isolation has little power, if the Pope were to raise me up and anoint me as a King before God and all humankind, it would magnify the potential influence of my effort to serve our community. In this way, the Pope would benefit his own Christ-like mission to inspire charity and service to the poor, both parties win. Everyone wins… except Sarah Palin and her crony-capitalist Fascist Oligarch friends -they will lose.
As I see it, Education in the purest sense is an engine of our common interest, driving us forward towards a more perfect state of being. We are told to study hard and pay attention, because it is generally believed that the effort of learning will strengthen each individual, in the hope that our combined efforts will produce the highest possible good for all: our mutual survival in comfort and safety – in a word, Salvation. Again, following the Franciscan formula, by contemplating the life of Jesus we can see that his effort was – like a true King according to the Thomistic definition – to serve the common interest or greater Good. Therefore, if we are to follow his example, we also should serve the common interest and uphold the primordial duties of a ‘leader.’
How do we measure learning, in order to determine when a person qualifies as “highly educated”? Could we bear to submit ourselves to the authority of a woman, Maria Montessori suggests that Education in the highest sense is a holistic enterprise wherein we seek to raise every child to their highest possible good – something nearing to Perfection, but never quite perfect. So, it follows logically to ask, what is the highest possible good an individual may achieve? The answers vary. For Socrates, the goal of learning was a comprehension of first Principles: Good, Bad, Justice, Injustice, Love, Hate, Chaos, Order, the laws of Nature, each has a place in the perfect individual. Marcus Aurelias (in Meditations) speaks of Cosmic Consciousness, giving the impression that it is desirable for an individual to achieve an awareness of the highest Reality. Later, during the Italian Renaissance, Geoffroy Tory published an image of perfection (Champfleury, 1529) wherein “the well-formed and well-set-up individual contains in his own person the nine Muses and the seven Liberal Arts; he even contains the Virtues, for his hands and feet are marked Justicia, Fortitudo, Prudentia, and Temperantia – all this serving to show ‘que l’homme parfaict doibt tellement estre proportionné en science et en vertus que a tous enrois et propos il soit decent et honneste….’ (…to show that the perfect man should be so proportioned in science and virtue as to be in all places and circumstances decent and honest.) Such it appears is the lesson of the ‘nobles et bons pères Anciens.'” (See: Jean Seznec, The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The Mythological Tradition and Its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art. First Princeton ed. 1972)
As it regards practical recognition of merits, however, we typically acknowledge certain thresholds on the child’s pathway to Perfection – the point where we say “that is good enough” because we realize it is absurd to expect every child to achieve the heights of transcendental mythology in the course of only a few short years. Thusly, the challenge becomes to convince the University, a Pope and society generally that I have achieved a degree of learning and deserve some formal acknowledgement of that.
So, how do I prove to the Pope and reader that I contain the nine Muses and seven Liberal Arts, the Virtues, or any measure of Cosmic Consciousness, communion with First Principles and Knowledge of Nature’s laws? The Muses of Rome are: Calliope – Epic Poetry (?), Clio – History (?), Erato – Lyric Poetry (?), Euterpe – Song and Elegiac Poetry (?), Melpomene – Tragedy (?), Polyhymnia – Hymns (?), Terpsichore – Dance (?), Thalia – Comedy (?) and Urania – Astronomy (?). The Seven Liberal Arts are divided into four and three: a Quadrivium, of Arithmetic (?), Geometry (?), Music (?) and Astronomy (?); and a Trivium, of Grammar (?), Logic (?) and Rhetoric (?).
So many questions. What is a Pope to do? He could accept the absurdity of my conundrum and help me out. Acknowledge that I have achieved some degree of learning in each of these fields, though yet not perfection. Would it be a sin to say that I feel like a highly educated person? How does my feeling benefit you, the Pope, or any other potential collaborator in the work to attain the common interest for all? I know not, cannot say. But, what I can do is make the effort, to crush my enemies and slay the dragons that would enslave and chain me in bondage. Freedom is my ally and so I have plumbed the depths of Liberty and now I comb the heights, attempting to reach that absurd point which lies beyond reason. It can only be in a state of perfect Freedom, where a poor fool could name himself king and be accepted as such. I believe that this name is written on me.
For now, I occupy the bottom 1% of American society, utterly dependent on the charity of others for survival, something reminiscent of Doctor Einstein’s lament: “School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel. I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn’t worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave. This was a Catholic School in Munich. I felt that my thirst for knowledge was being strangled by my teachers; grades were their only measurement. How can a teacher understand youth with such a system? From the age of twelve I began to suspect authority and distrust teachers.”
Sir Ken Robinson asks, do schools kill creativity? I would say yes, but I talk to the wind… Something worked. Robinson points to the deleterious condition of many modern schools, describing the strategy as an industrial “cookie cutter” model, where children are stuffed into compartments and molded into a sort of arbitrarily defined shape, the way we manufacture goods on assembly lines. He follows this with a proposal for a more agricultural approach to education, where the learning environment is arranged to provide fertile ground for growing children as though from seeds. For my part, if my opinion has any merit, I would assert the Montessori Method as an agricultural approach, being as it is based on the premise that each child develops autonomously, to give each child a maximal opportunity to master lessons that will help them to thrive in life.
Even without money, I have thrived because of my experience in a Montessori inspired learning environment. This, I believe, is one of the miracles of Life, a secret of the ascetic predecessors to Christian monastic living: Nature does not recognize the value of any fiat currency when doling out her blessings. We thrive on the basis of other and, I dare to say, higher authorities than the petty, feeble-minded laws of human invention. So, it is no longer any mystery to me, why Jesus was willing to abandon the material acquisitiveness of humankind. He surrendered himself completely to the Reality and so too have I, following the Franciscan formula.
Relatedly, Sir W M Flinders Petrie presents several ancient conceptions of human prosperity, in his textbook Personal Religion in Egypt Before Christ where,
“In the early times the abundance of good things of the world is always represented as the best wish for the future life. The proverbial literature of the Pyramid ages pictures a strong-minded man, well-balanced, firm but kind, enjoying all rightful pleasures, and not denying himself a fair share of enjoyments or relaxation. The tales of later times never represent self-denial or abnegation as of any value or effect, the idea is simply absent… nowhere do we meet with any virtue beyond the reprobation of evil. It is only the rich noble who boasts that he has given food to the hungry and clothes to the needy; no ordinary man presumes to claim such good works. Nor is any sign of communism seen; every man has his own possessions, and bargains with the gods to give him more. In Jewish thought we meet the same type. Every man wishes to live under his own vine and under his own fig-tree. He is to be blessed with a fruitful wife and a large family, and the sign of virtue is to be external prosperity.”
So, my problem has become its own solution, where my love of learning has lead me to believe in myself. Whereas I once wanted to earn recognition by an institution of higher education, I have myself become an ‘institution’ of higher education and amassed the power to teach all humankind about the nature and content of our common interests: the highest Good of our desire, what we call true Prosperity or Thriving. In this way, I transfer my wealth to you by empowering you to become master of your own destiny, to cast off the chains that ensnare and to smash the false idol of monetary valuation in order to attain the heights of true nobility. With power comes responsibility, the noblesse oblige of France’s Ancien Régime, known as primordial duties of anyone who presumes to ‘Lead’ universally speaking :: Prosperity and Protection. Now you are the king.
However, it still remains to be seen whether the Pope will deign to acknowledge these speculations of mine. Who can predict the outcome? Does the Pope understand that these are serious questions, that my window of opportunity is ever shrinking, as the shroud of death lingers waiting to take me at any moment in Time? What comes next? I know not, cannot say. It is a mystery, the Truth lurks veiled. Such is life for all men, unless I am mistaken. Until then, I will pass the time patiently imagining more good reasons why he should.
For a start, I believe (I truly truly believe) that the
best worst possible thing I can do would be to reclaim ownership of my ancestral hereditary territories, in the Glen Orchy highlands of Scotland, so I could evict the occupants and bulldoze Kilchurn Castle… like a madman, laughing all the way to the Cisjordan West Bank. Just cause.
Next, I will to plant an oak sapling there and I would name that tree Life. Then I would build a new castle on the spot and surround it with a labyrinthine garden. I would call it a Sacred Grove, although it is like a temple. A place just for me, to contemplate the life, Jesus and other mysteries, to spread my feats and keep my books.
My library will be like a Museum, in an archaic sense, a shrine for the nine Muses and space for quiet study and/or higher learning. An educational ‘institution.’ Then, you know, open a gift store and food court area where people could eat fruit and vegetables grown in the surrounding gardens. I would eventually expand into other markets, providing new jobs and taxable revenue for the government of Scotland and all the rest…
My gardens will hang there, just as they hung at Nineveh in ancient Assyria, with a plaque stele where the ancient kings describe what they had done:
Ashurnasirpal II, king of the world, king of Assyria (883–859 BC): “I dug out a canal from the (river) Zab, cutting through a mountain peak, and called it Abundance Canal. I watered the meadows of the Tigris and planted orchards with all kinds of fruit trees in the vicinity. I planted seeds and plants that I had found in the countries through which I had marched and in the highlands which I had crossed: pines of different kinds, cypresses and junipers of different kinds, almonds, dates, ebony, rosewood, olive, oak, tamarisk, walnut, terebinth and ash, fir, pomegranate, pear, quince, fig, grapevine…. The canal water gushes from above into the garden; fragrance pervades the walkways, streams of water as numerous as the stars of heaven flow in the pleasure garden…. Like a squirrel I pick fruit in the garden of delights.”
Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria (704-681 BC): “Whereas in former times the kings my forefathers had created bronze statues imitating real-life forms to put on display inside temples, but in their method of work they had exhausted all the craftsmen, for lack of skill and failure to understand the principles they needed so much oil, wax and tallow for the work that they caused a shortage in their own countries – I Sennacherib, leader of all princes, knowledgeable in all kinds of work, took much advice and deep thought over doing that kind of work…. I created clay molds as if by divine intelligence for cylinders and screws… In order to draw up water all day long, I had ropes, bronze wires and bronze chains made. And instead of a shaduf I set up the cylinders and screws of copper over cisterns….I raised the height of the surroundings of the palace, to be a Wonder for all Peoples… A high garden imitating the Amanus mountains I laid out next to it, with all kinds of aromatic plants, orchard fruit trees, trees that enrich not only mountain country but also Chaldea (Babylonia), as well as trees that bear wool, planted within it.”
“And for Tashmetu-sharrat the palace woman, my beloved wife, whose features the Mistress of the Gods has made perfect above all other women, I had built a palace of loveliness, delight and joy….”
Somewhere in my library, I will post prayers for kings, each dedicated to one of nine Muses and addressed to all Reality:
To Calliope, a prayer for the trans-Jordan king, Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein: that he will continue to serve the cause of Peace around the world, bringing aid to those in need, in times of crisis. That he will continue to defend the democratic aspirations of his people and uphold the sovereign, inalienable liberties inherent to each. Let him open his borders to me, so I could carve a path for my canal, Abundance, and feed water into their part of the river, that his family and their neighbor’s may thrive. As-Salām al-Malakī al-Urdunī. So may it be.
To Clio, a prayer for my ancestors – kings: Bless the soul of Gregor roi, the beloved first of our tribe, and let him rest in eternal bliss. Bless the soul of Robert Roy, let his name be on the lips of every man and king. Bless the soul of Judah and all the ancients, that they may live again. So it is written. So may it be.
To Erato, a prayer for the king of house Saud in Arabia: that peace will be upon his tribe and neighbors; that he could raise me up and call me kin and then permit me Hajj, to bring my Abundance into Mecca. Let the Sharif forever be a good man, a true king, ever vigilant in service to the common interest of all, and let the name Abdullah bin Abdul’aziz Al Saud be on the lips of every man and king. So may it be.
To Euterpe, a prayer for the poet king of Persia, Hakim Abu ‘I-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi: Let his Shahnameh be read and remembered forever. Our lyric-tradition is the same, let us give it a name – Birds. So may it be.
To Melpomene, a prayer for my enemies: that they may be spared the humiliation Tragedy deserves. For Sarah Palin: that no man compare her to a whore, nor suggest that she leave, if she does not love. For the Fascist Oligarchs who presume to represent our democratic, libertine idylls: that they will retire to exile from the world of Kings, being rejected by us all; and throw their riches – their tea – into the sea.
To Polyhymnia, a prayer for Pope Francis I: that he will live forever and ever. Amen. So may it be.
To Terpsichore, a prayer for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: that she uphold my true and rightful claims; that she will encourage and invest in our job creation schemes and permit us to conduct business in England and abroad; that our profit will be her profit, bringing ever greater wealth to the sovereign nations humane. Let her redeem the sins of our ancestors and denounce their awful crimes, so that the lion and unicorn may dance forever in peace. Make a king for Scotland, one true Celtic Lion. So marry me. So may it be.
To Thalia, a prayer for Elvis Presley: that his imitators will get “it” – at heart, we are all the King. So it is. So may it be.
To Urania, a prayer for Neil deGrasse Tyson: let him lead us to infinity and beyond. So is it written. So let it be done.
In each of the four corners of my estate, I will to lay four stones with Ogham script reading Justicia, Fortitudo, Prudentia, and Temperantia, to remind all that the perfect should be so proportioned in Science and Virtue. Likewise, in the same spirit, I will fill the library with books and manuscripts covering all the seven liberal arts. A cabinet therein is to be kept well stocked of the latest curiosities, oddities and objects of scientific interest. A sign will hang above the door at the entrance, reading, “Let no one who is ignorant of geometry enter.” Outside, the Sacred Grove gardens will be dedicated to the benefit of poor people everywhere, designed to turn my profit to their account and extend my canal – Abundance – to stretch it across the continents of our spaceship Earth – upholding the common interest of Kings and actively doing that thing called leadership.
So I have come to the conclusion of these reminiscences and leave you now to wonder: to wander, explore and experience the life of worth. We leave Pope Francis with some difficult questions. Could he tolerate the Golden Dawn of Samuel Liddelle “MacGregor” Mathers? How will the Holy See be moved? What will happen? Absurd questions, and too many of them. Still we must be free in order to ask. The Holy Father is given the freedom of choice, whether it is acceptable to abandon us to alienation in a society of addicts, where the over-rationalized bureaucracy has a stranglehold on our accounts, whilst all around us citizens fall prey to the banalization of everything and grow depressed and cynical. Yet Herbert Marcuse’ Marxish critique instills us with the revolutionary hope that we (the entire human race) could reconstruct ourselves and begin anew. Unfortunately, it is believed by some today that we have already passed The End of History and now live in ahistorical or post-historical times. Let us reject this notion. Let us cast aside our differences to raise ourselves up into Heaven by passionate salvatory efforts, following the Franciscan formula: imitatio dei.
When I have gone, lay my bones to rest in the land of my ancestors. On my stone, a dolmen, let it be written that, “Between the rays of the Sun, I have likewise inscribed and lodged the nine Muses, the seven liberal arts, the four cardinal virtues, and the three Graces, placing each apart from the others, and at the exact center of the Sun, I have designed and portrayed Apollo playing his divine harp. This is to show that the concatenation and full perfection of the Letters, Muses, liberal Arts, cardinal Virtues, and graces are inspired and nourished in us by Apollo.” (Geoffroy Tory, Chapfleury, 1529. trans. Seznec); lay my harp upon my grave and at last let the Pope read my rights, my living will and testament: “He lived as he was born and as he died: screaming out for more.” …and MacGregor despite them shall flourish forever.
Your creepy cousin,
Père Ubu, le Roi
The Texan who trolled a Pope