Friday, March 22, 2013
We Are Not All Howard Beale Now
You must understand I am capable of galvanic rage.
That is probably news to most, if not all of my readers and friends. I'm not talking about cutting remarks on message boards after midnight, either. I mean real, bad, spittle-flecked rage. There are very few things that truly matter to me, but they matter to me a great deal. And I am very slow to anger, but there is no end to it when it's unleashed.
I don't act like that on the Intertunnel, and I try not to act like that off it, either, but I fail often enough. Many people are very blase on the Intertunnel, although they have very strong opinions. Often it is because they are shielded from real privation. They won't miss any meals if X passes the Y law. Many bloggers have sinecures, and while it doesn't always make them mellow, it does make them sort of ambivalent about the things that they rail about. I've observed outrage as a kind of hobby for decades now. It's tiresome to me. The professional doesn't listen to amateurs. Robespierre wouldn't read Andrew Sullivan.
I live at the edge of the economic map, and several other maps, including the actual map. We're cutting edge cave people here. People tell me that my life seems odd and occasionally wonderful to them. It seems that way to me, too, although it is too demanding on my wife and children to suit me. But I would not trade our life for cable TV. But if the DJIA or Congress sneezes, we get pneumonia.
I'd make an excellent Savonarola. I could build a pulpit and rail from it with the best of them. I'd give you the finger while you burned me in the Piazza della Signoria, too, because I'm an Irishman as well as an Italian. But I can't bring myself to do it. I must not rage. I'm tired of manifestos everywhere.
My god, everything is a manifesto. You can read any innocuous news story on Yahoo and there are 3000 comments after it and 2500 of them are manifestos and the other 500 are plain screeds. Every gathering, real or virtual, is a pretext to launch into a description of the New World Order everyone's going to install right after they're made God-Emperor by acclamation, by virtue of the excellent manifesto they left in the comments after a story on The Frisky about this year's bikini styles. Everyone so desperately wants to be Howard Beale. I really sort of am Howard Beale. I don't want to be Howard Beale. I certainly don't want to watch amateurs try their hand at it. I'm a pro. Born to the purple -- prose.
I put my children on the Intertunnel. A thing fraught with peril. But they are the product of the best of my self, and my wife's best efforts. They are a very long prayer released into the ether. One does not pray as if God is a vending machine; put a wish in the slot, and out comes the candy. You offer it up for its own sake.
My sons' video showed up in so many places I'm afraid to start naming them because I'll forget some and offer an unstudied insult to those omitted. I swear I saw them everywhere these last few days -- almost.
Nowhere where bad people are. Nowhere where Howard Beale reigns. I saw them in places where decent, hard-working, put-upon people congregate. I saw them where people recognize something of the potential in persons not given over to the depravity of the general culture. People who know the difference between civilization and barbarism. People that value effort. Like progress. Think about the future.
I saw all the supportive and pleasant things that were said. The encouragement offered. The attention paid to two little boys who doggedly try despite obscurity and hardship. People reached in their pockets to help them, to support them, to let them know that there is more than a world of Howard Beales outside their practice room. I'm immensely grateful for it, but so much more than that. You've restored my faith in my fellow man, which I must admit was running on fumes. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
There are nice people everywhere, if you will but look. I'm glad we did.