187. Enthusiasm (IV)
Updated: Mar 23
About four years ago, a wave of trickster energy washed over the West and terminated in Brexit and Trump. The wave has receded, so let us examine the flotsam and jetsam and the outline left at high water. The paradigmatic figure of the those times was the online troll—a figure who was suppoedly in the pay of Putin’s intelligence services or possibly part of a global terror network or maybe just a bored teenager; perhaps, indeed, the troll was all three.
Trolls psychologically tortured journalists, politicians, and assorted experts who preened and spoke cheap pieties on Twitter. Their vanity was punctured when angrycumgroyper1488 made a fool of their empty flattery. “So worried about how white supremacy hits males 16-18, folks.” “Hi, Jennifer! Masters in Education here, some studies…” People can go on like this for pages, an endless psychic circle jerk of self-congratulation.
The troll wore a mask; and so there was a general outcry against these masked men; even men became hysterical about trolls. I knew a man who worked for American intelligence; I mentioned 4chan to him and his reaction was squeamish, a bit like a girl who just found her man’s dirty socks at the bottom of the laundry—he would not go to the depths for gold.
The fool, the troll, creates ordered chaos; he cannot be destroyed, because he has total flexibility—he is masculine and feminine, liquid hardness. In popular English tradition, he is Mr. Punch, a hand puppet whose main interests are sausages, beating his wife, Judy, and sneaking off with his mistress. Punch defeats a policeman, a doctor, a clergyman, a crocodile, and even the Devil—all of whom try to frustrate his schemes. His means of attack is a big stick and Punch beats his enemies with relish as children in the audience squeal in delight—“More! More!” He even beats the Devil; why? Punch beats the Devil, because he reveals Abraxas—the hidden God; he is beyond good and evil; he is just joyful existence: women, sausages, and stick—what more does man need? Certainly not policeman, clergyman, doctor—or even the Devil.
The troll was vigilante and fool; the fool puts on a mask to tell the truth; and the truth is funny, and sometimes sad—offended people will beat the fool and punish Punch; there is joy in slap and counter slap, as most couples know. Four years on, the energy has reversed, the populists are out of power: due to Covid-19, everyone wears a mask—everyone is a masked fool. You are all fools now, mask wearers; and so this sets the stage for another movement, another transformation of society, through the chaotic overworld energy of the mask.
Why did Pepe the Frog become a significant, possibly outlaw, symbol? The frog lives between two worlds; he is hermaphrodite, complete and integrated man: the pond is the unconscious, the frog moves between overworld and underworld. He is just being himself; he is Zen, on the lily pad—plop! Hence three men of the 2016 moment: Trump, troll-in-chief, a great toad; Farage, with French blood, an English “frog”; and Peterson, who sounds a bit like the Canadian frog Kermit. The frog can be anything, since he is Abraxian; some frogs are angry about race; some are just vibin’; some want money—sometimes the same frog feels all three and more, only at different times.
Unintegrated people project onto the integrated man; neurotic progressives obsess about race because they cannot face the awful reality that race exists, so they project their own fantasies of mass murder: “If you post pictures of the frog you’ll start another Holocaust!” As Žižek observed, everyone knew the brutal Yugoslav Civil War was about to break out because people stopped making ethnic jokes—lies made even small truths dangerous. And, in the same way, contemporary progressives seek to stamp out the little healthy chaos that stops the big explosion; and in doing so open the way to general ethnic strife.