Mnemosyne — saddest of deities — waved her wand and the shadows talked.
Fergus Hume - Miss Mephistopheles (1890)
As the world becomes more complex we see more and more people who pretend to cope with the complexities. Those who paint crazy patterns on the fog seeping in and around modern life. A malign miasma oozing from the swamps of unreality those busy loons are so fond of.
They give totem names to the madness, hurling them into the swirling darkness as if to cast spells, ward off the spectre of confusion, the nightmare of collapsed understanding where nothing makes sense unless you huddle together with the totem thrower who claims to know the path.
With too many possibilities and too few answers we have set ourselves adrift on poorly mapped cultural swamps we neither asked for nor needed to explore. We should never have listened to the crazed, soft-handed loons painting their pictures of places they had never visited, never could visit because they merely oozed from the suppurating decay of soft minds.
What we missed but never should have missed is that we had a culture already, didn’t need a new one, didn’t need to drop our guard, didn’t even see ourselves dropping it. We began to think we were prejudiced because the loons on the shore told us so. Because with huge irony we had educated them to tell us so. And we listened but should not have listened.
We should not have listened because our supposed prejudices were our cultural reference points, our way of getting through life without suffering too much damage or causing too much harm to others. We were persuaded that small problems needing small adjustments were really large problems needing wholesale changes. A rooting out where there was no disease to root out.
So we are left with patterns in the fog but more and more loons have gathered to paint and to point at what isn’t real and never could be real. And so we have to argue and justify what once we took for granted, didn’t need to explain because it was so familiar, so useful, so tuned to a certain way of doing things. Familiar it was and familiar is another of those things to which we should have paid more attention, should have kept hold of.
Now? Now we are busy electing loons, liars, thieves and charlatans who would give away what little there is left to anyone prepared to pay the price, intone the mantras, bow to the new gods, make the right noises, ignore the past, the history, the lessons. Patterns in the fog. We should have known.