Where does hypocrisy come from? Is intelligence an actual measurable quality, or is it, as the Jesuits might say, merely the absence of stupidity? And if you lack stupidity, can you be said to suffer a deficiency? Were Einstein, Feynman, and Mr. Wizard stupidity-impaired?
But above all, where does this authoritarian business come from? I don’t just mean politicians. I mean control freaks in general.
Even poetry isn’t free from these incredible control freaks! Only two days ago I was shocked to receive the following unsolicited “poem” by “email”:
Q. Oh what saith the Lord(ess)? What might a poem be?
Might it be prose yet sweeter, with rhyme and strict meter?
Might it be words upon paper, shaped like a tree?
Might it alliterate like maybe pickles 'n peter?
Might it assonate like bats and classy cravats?
Might she personify and curts-eye and bow and say "Hi?"
Oh Lord(ess)! Please hear our pleas for clarity!
We can't stand all of this mystery!
A. Oh, stop it. And your rhythm's off anyway, you twit.
This message has been brought to you by the Evangelical Church of Non-Rhyming Poets of America, Reformed.
Can you see what’s happening here? And it doesn’t end with rhyme!
It doesn’t end anywhere!
Being a scientific sort, when faced with a puzzle such as this I immediately think of experiment. In this case, dealing with a serious psychosocial problem, serious psychosocial methodology is called for. But you can’t get those kind of drugs anymore, so my next idea was that I should voluntarily become an authoritarian. Then I will be able to report to an amazed and astonished world my findings as to where my head has gotten to.
So. I have become a rabid proponent of the Julian Day Calendar. You may not have ever heard of the Julian Day Calendar, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the Julian Year Calendar -- the one that preceded the Gregorian Year Calendar which we’ve been using lately.
Well, the Julian Day Calendar is a Day Calendar, not a Year Calendar. You count days. Doesn’t that make more sense? Don’t answer that, I don’t care what you think, because I am being an authoritarian, and I have just decided for you that counting days makes more sense.
Want to know how you’ll figure out when years start and end? Why should you care? What, are you raising pigs? Don’t you know pig-farming is a waste of time, you should be in the slaughtering business, that’s where all the money is now? What, do I have to explain everything to you?! Look, how do you know now when it’s high tide? You look it up in a chart, that’s how. YOU LOOK IT UP. You don’t make the rest of the world calculate time based on the number of tides that have elapsed since the Red Sea parted, just so you don’t have to keep a tide chart handy!
So let’s see, what have we learned by being authoritarians? Well we have learned that we are over 18,000 days old (18K in the metric system). We have learned that when we rant on and on about Julian Days, nobody cares. In fact we have learned that we are not legislators or executives or police so therefore we can’t make anyone care. We have learned that authoritarians use the editorial “we” way too much.
But most importantly, we have learned that authoritarians think that they are right. Therefore they do not know they are being authoritarians. They think they are pointing out truths. So it doesn’t do any good to tell a control freak to stop it.
Next issue: We nag Paul Schell anyway! Just because we can!