Friday, December 25, 2009

A Y Pestis of Youthful Ignorance

Suddenly, David Aaranovich’s observation of the Copenhagen festival of self-hatred started sounding historically familiar.

Suddenly there was the world, spread out in front of us, not like a bookcase full of travel guides, or even as represented in diplomatic simulacrum in New York by UN ambassadors, but in its own messy right.
The image that came to my mind was of some vast biblical trek, in which tribes make their way over various terrains to an uncertain land. Out front, and to the sides, were the little groups of activists and NGOs; some pathfinding in distant hills, some wailing and beating themselves and others with thorn branches, some praying loudly and piously, some shouting to the others to catch up, some predicting doom with an unacknowledged pleasure.
To my ear it seemed to start conforming to a pattern of human behavior that was a cross between the Donner party and Nero’s joy at the incineration of Rome.
As soon, however, as the Flagellant movement crossed the Alps into Teutonic countries, its whole nature changed. The idea was welcomed with enthusiasm; a ceremonial was rapidly developed, and almost as rapidly a specialized doctrine, that soon degenerated into heresy. The Flagellants became an organized sect, with severe discipline and extravagant claims. They wore a white habit and mantle, on each of which was a red cross, whence in some parts they were called the "Brotherhood of the Cross". Whosoever desired to join this brotherhood was bound to remain in it for thirty-three and a half days, to swear obedience to the "Masters" of the organization...
Much like the lethality, boredom, and pedantic constancy of medieval life, the ritual sit-ins and the public rioting had to take place with the cadence of the familiar chants, the banners and the parasitic circus of politicized mitlaüfer.
Twice a day, proceeding slowly to the public square or to the principal church, they put off their shoes, stripped themselves to the waist and prostrated themselves in a large circle. By their posture they indicated the nature of the sins they intended to expiate, the murderer lying on his back, the adulterer on his face, the perjurer on one side holding up three fingers, etc. First they were beaten by the "Master", then, bidden solemnly in a prescribed form to rise, they stood in a circle and scourged themselves severely, crying out that their blood was mingled with the Blood of Christ and that their penance was preserving the whole world from perishing.
The only question is who it is that the modern Carbon Dioxide cult will lionize and then compare themselves to.

No comments: