The Empire of Lies, Part III
The Corruption of Eloquence
Commentary for 9 June 2014
By J.R. Nyquist
In A Dialogue Concerning Oratory: Or the Causes of Corrupt Eloquence, the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus relayed the observation of an orator on Rome’s descent into entertainment culture during the first century AD: “The causes of the decay of eloquence are by no means difficult to be traced,” the orator explained. “The true causes [of the decay] are, the dissipation of our young men, the inattention of parents, the ignorance of those who pretend to give instruction, and the total neglect of ancient discipline.”
Ancient discipline, of course, was morally serious. It was passionate in that seriousness. Near the beginning of the first century the Roman historian Titus Livy mourned “the dark dawning of our modern day,” and noted: “In these later years wealth has brought avarice in its train, and the unlimited command of pleasures has created in men a passion for ruining themselves and everything else through self-indulgence and licentiousness.”
In this distant mirror, held up by Livy two thousand years ago, we may see our own reflection. Indeed, we are repeating the social history of the first century. We have all the maladies, and more. Tacitus used the following words to describe the ancient discipline, as opposed to the licentiousness of moderns: “Our ancestors pursued a different plan: They stored their minds with just ideas of moral good and evil; with the rules of right and wrong, and the fair and foul in human transactions. These, on every controverted point, are the orator’s province.” (XXXI.1)
What else should eloquence be for?
Imagine a corrupt eloquence with the power to charm, persuade, and enable something unnatural – as in the glamorizing of confusion, the idealizing of perversion, the romanticizing of metaphysical rebellion. Give it a musical voice, a lyric. Perhaps it might go something like this:
Waking in the rubble
Walking over glass
Neighbors say we’re trouble
Well that time has passed
Peering from the mirror
No, that isn’t me
Stranger getting nearer
Who can this person be
You wouldn’t know me at all today
From the fading light I fly
Rise like a Pheonix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn
You know I will rise like a phoenix
But you’re my flame
The words are from the song Rise Like a Phoenix – the winning entry in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest – performed by the drag queen “Conchita Wurst” (a.k.a., Thomas Neuwirth of Austria, b. Nov. 6, 1988). It says on Wikipedia that Neuwirth uses female pronouns to describe his drag queen persona “but male pronouns referring to himself.” He identifies as “gay,” and presents a thoroughly female image while sporting a beard. As he explained in a recent interview, the stage name “Conchita” refers to “a lady’s private parts,” and “Wurst,” of course, is the German word for sausage. (Depicted below)
To show the extent to which first century Rome is a mirror of twenty-first century Europe, Tacitus relates details of the Emperor Nero, who was also a famous singer – and winner of the “Eurovision” song contests of his day. Like Austria’s Neuwirth, Nero was also a drag queen, and this should not surprise us (given the parallels between Rome’s “crisis of modernity” and our own). Tacitus wrote:
Nero was already corrupted by every lust, natural and unnatural. But he now refuted any surmises that no further degradation was possible for him. A few days later he went through a formal wedding ceremony with a member of a perverted gang, whose name was Pythagoras. The emperor, in the presence of witnesses, put on the bridal veil. Dowry, marriage bed, wedding torches, all were there. Indeed everything was public which even in a natural union is veiled by night.
There is, indeed, a definite resemblance between first century antiquity and twenty-first century modernity. This resemblance we may take as a warning, and as a challenge to popular assumptions about progress and where our civilization is headed; for we know in which direction Rome was headed. In the moment we may congratulate ourselves on being open-minded; but then, are we knowledgeable enough to distinguish a change in fashion from a fatal symptom? As Nero’s history shows, gay marriage is nothing new. And now it sneaks in upon us because we do not know the precipice on which we stand. Many contemporary observers of modern politics, now in their seventies or eighties, have privately registered surprise that the issue of gay marriage – or the subject of homosexuality itself – should have gained popular currency at this time. “I never would have predicted this twenty-five years ago,” an older clergyman confided to me. “I didn’t see it coming.” (Please notice the role that homosexual marriage now plays; especially in the growing schism between economic conservatives and cultural conservatives – and ask with an eye to strategy, - cui bono?)
Of course, there is something deeper than politics to all this. The homosexualist is a metaphysical rebel, and a moral rebel. As if to break the shackles of reality, as if to deny the limits of human existence (of DNA itself), we are now prompted to cheer when a man seeks to become a woman and a woman seeks to become a man. The immorality of the project is lost, of course, on a generation that does not recognize objective truth or reality. Truth is subjective, we are told. But is this really true? If we say “black is white,” we offend reason. If a man wears a dress and refers to himself as a woman, a deeper kind of offense is promulgated: – a metaphysical offense against human existence and the morality which is integral to it. Here the Empire of Lies finds an opening through which it might smash our feeble hold on “truth” in a most spectacular way, although this smashup cannot result in a triumph for anyone.
In coming to grips with the deeper motivation behind today’s “hip” slogans and favorite causes, we should remember the secret formula which inspired the Empire of Lies from its beginning. Those who would destroy morality seek to remake the world. Those who seek to remake the world are attempting to usurp God’s office. “Morality is the ultimate aspect of God, which must be destroyed before reconstruction can begin,” wrote Albert Camus in The Rebel (p. 62). Here, as Camus intuits, “The romantic hero … considers himself compelled to do evil by his nostalgia for an unrealized good.” In the case of Thomas Neuwirth, the supposed romantic hero (Conchita Wurst) does evil out of a misguided nostalgia for the ontologically impossible. Here the subject asserts his own divinity by throwing down a gauntlet to the Creator and saying, “I don’t have to be what you made me.” Here we find a denial of the true self combined with the worship of a false self. And this reveals both nihilism and narcissism. It shares with Communism the denial of our actual humanity, leading us to embrace a monstrous nightmare – whether it is a man in a dress, or Soviet man. In both instances the attempt to tyrannize over nature, the attempt to negate the ontologically given, results in confusion and tragic loss. Here the confusion extends outward, in concentric circles, malignant as it is misguided. Thus Milton depicted the fall of the rebel angel in Paradise Lost:
Is this the Region, this the Soil, the Clime,
Said then the lost Arch-Angel, this the seat
That we must change for Heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since he
Who now is Sovereign can dispose and bid
What shall be right: farthest from him is best
Whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell happy Fields
Where Joy forever dwells: Hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang’d by Place or Time.
According to Milton, the first metaphysical rebel upheld the idea, “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.” Today the metaphysical rebel proclaims "heaven on earth" along with universal toleration. Here we find no mere resemblance, but a true embodiment of the type. In an essay featured by The Contemplative Observer we find the idea that Thomas Neuwirth (a.k.a., Conchita Wurst) is not simply a bearded man in a dress. His outward appearance is disturbingly close to popularized depictions of Jesus Christ. The Contemplative Observer notes, “And, indeed, there’s in circulation … [an] icon, that shows Christ’s face replaced by that of … Conchita Wurst….” (See below)
As Christendom suffers attack upon attack, indignity upon indignity, defeat after defeat, a new religion moves in to take its place. This great and rising sect of our time, which is socialism, has three major objectives as outlined by Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. First, socialism wants to destroy capitalism (i.e., in terms of private property in the sense of business ownership); second, socialism wants to destroy the family; and third, socialism wants to destroy the nation state. As Bukovsky pointed out, the socialists failed to destroy the idea of private property, but they have partly succeeded against the family and the nation state. The breakdown of the family is all too real for anyone to deny, and this breakdown spells disaster for a society that is too weak to resist.
To give us an enlarged idea of the aforesaid breakdown, The Contemplative Observer quotes in full an unnamed American friend (guess who?), responding to the idea of being labeled “intolerant” by a fan on Neuwirth’s website, andiamo24, as follows:
I notice in my dictionary that the definition of the word ‘intolerance’ has been changed to mean ‘bigotry.’ But it is not bigotry if we find murder intolerable. It is also not bigotry if we find sexual deviancy and perversion intolerable. It is prudence, and it is healthy instinct, to do so.
I would want to ask this andiamo24 if she would feel right exposing a ten-year-old boy to ‘the wonderful’ Conchita Wurst. (And why is he so wonderful?) Something as wonderful as a sexually confused young man, who adopts the personality of a woman, could not possibly signify a contagion of perversity — except that this perversity is so seductive. And so, we ought to wonder, if a young boy instinctively finds Conchita Wurst’s personality disturbing would andiamo24 find this boy’s reaction ‘intolerable.’ Or then, what if the boy decided to become a woman because Conchita’s charisma is truly overpowering? What if all boys found Conchita irresistible and became just like her? Let us say that the glorification of Conchita — who is wonderfully powerful — converts all humans to the glamorous path of transgender-ism. In that case you will have achieved the destruction of the human race, which would then die out, the last old Queen dying alone and without an audience. As each individual decides to break the great chain of being which makes the human race possible, andiamo24 must applaud. Well, she is already applauding. She already champions our extinction, our condemnation, under the banner of tolerance. And she calls it ‘wonderful.’
But in reality it is vicious. For a person who embraces the destruction of their own kind, and the denigration of the ontologically given (i.e. sexually), is a monster, corrupt to the core, poisonous even to herself. And if our posterity survives our present flirtation with death (with the negation of our posterity), they will abhor the likes of andiamo24 as they would a murderer. And they would be justified to condemn so unwholesome a progenitor (or non-progenitor), marveling that humanity survived, that Europe survived. But then it won’t survive, will it? Because the Muslims and the Russians are hovering in Europe’s doorway, ready to take possession as all of Europe stands in thrall to a man who adopts the personality of a woman.
What I say here is not bigotry. What I say is prudence, and prudence is one of the four cardinal virtues. And here, without any doubt, intolerance becomes a necessary adjunct.
Perversion, which brings an end to all innocence, and which normalizes what is harmful to the life cycle, must not be lionized as heroic or romanticized as noble. When perversion is normalized we may ask what else may be normalized, especially with the advent of so far-reaching a Revolution. “Murder, in fact, is on the way to becoming acceptable,” wrote Albert Camus of the nihilist’s path. “It is enough to compare the Lucifer of the painters of the Middle Ages with the Satan of the romantics. An adolescent ‘young, sad, charming’ (Vigny) replaces the horned beast.”
Today the rebel’s newest incarnation of Satan is personable and funny, and musically gifted as an entertainer. To fill out the disturbing allure, add an irresistible femininity – and a beard as from the New Testament. “The dandy creates his own unity by aesthetic means,” noted Camus. “But it is an aesthetic of negation. ‘To live and die before a mirror’; that, according to Baudelaire, was the dandy’s slogan. It is indeed a coherent slogan. The dandy is, by occupation, always in opposition.”
Now he wears a dress, has sex with men, and sings.