I am interested in how every nefarious opportunity might offer a thin layer of noble motive. Back home, the icon of heroic self-destruction was encased in the single word, Alamo. Republic, said Big John, the sagacious simpleton,
`Ah lak the sound of the word; it means people can walk free, talk free, come or go, be drunk or sober, however they choose.’
And then along comes Vonnegut to explain for the first time ever in my reading the motivation of the Texians, the Founders of Texas: slavery. They wanted to bring along their slaves, and Mexico would not allow it. Walk free, says Big John, Talk free.
In Steinback’s Sweet Thursday, two campesinos sat upon a hillside, watching it all come down in harmony. They had two bottles they were saving for a friend for his birthday, and as they sat there, they began to consider the harm of offering two bottles of vino to this particular compadre. Perhaps they should only give him a bottle and a half. It’s like falling on a grenade for your squad, this removing of temptation. Or one bottle, even. They knew his character, his habits, and so the faults in the offering expanded during a long afternoon while the content of the bottles diminished. Of course, by the time the intended giftee was around, the gift wasn’t.
The most rancid offal is but fertilizer, after all. Or, as Steinbeck himself writes:
It is astounding to find that the belly of every dark and evil thing is as white as snow. And it is saddening to discover how the concealed parts of angels are leprous.
Sir Thomas More is the poster boy for great and noble sacrifice, for he gave up his life in defense of his holy calling which conflicted with the lust of a malicious monarch. He presents many fine and profound sentiments in A Man For All Seasons to defend the proposition that no king can declare on matters of conscience. It is all very wonderful and inspiring, except …
Sir Thomas was defending the most dictatorial and deadly menace on earth at that moment, being his established Church. More was the pitiful protector of the Inquisition, in support of which as Lord Mayor of London he had gleefully condemned many to the flames who were considered by Mother Church heretical. That’s right, this icon of personal religious preference was but a tool of the most horrible torture and mass murder.
But he used good diction, like our own Bard when he extolled the patriotic heroics of imperialism. Unlike little Mitch and the current Repugnant chorus, who read from a blatantly fake script which is reduced to one term in our newage consiousness (which itself shrinks by the generation like a Campesino’s sacrament): Bailout. That’s all, just say the word, it’s the new Repugnant mantra. It is utterly and provably false to anyone who reads, which excludes the core audience of Old Mitch, the Banker’s Bitch.