Discover more from Stoic Observations
Power. Symbols. Direction?
I’ve been living in my new place almost a year and a half. I was shocked last year to hear all of the fireworks starting around the third, crackling to life on the afternoon of the fourth and rumbling ominously until 3 in the morning. The same was the case this year, yet instead of seeing families walk around the neighborhood where people would be out, we watched in a kind of stunned silence from our balcony.
There is nothing that can describe the roar of thousands of explosives that goes on relentlessly for hours. One immediately thinks of a war zone. I’ve never been in one nor do I suspect that even our best cinematic simulacra get the audio job done right. There are multiple dimension of the noise. The booming rumble surrounds completely, an unending low thunder. Startling pops and whistles jolt you from moment to moment. The bangs from near here to far over there are constant. You know you are hearing clamor from miles around, it seems far enough away so that you are safe. The occasional pop that shows a brief sparkle over the local roof doesn’t seem like much. Then there are the rapid fire bursts. Is that a gun?
I sat listening to the symphony of booming for an hour with my eyes closed trying to discern in the closer reports if it was a gun and if so what caliber. I can tell a rifle from a pistol, and a 9mm from a .45. Something about gunshots are unique. A lot of it is in the rhythm and the spacing. Most of the echoes I heard were too rapid to have been the kind of guns I recognize, but I must admit that it has been a while since I’ve been out on the range.
None of this hearing gives any comfort. This year, as with last as I could see from the relative elevation of my neighborhood over the center of Los Angeles as multicolored flowers of fire bloomed miles into the haze, the feeling was the same. It was the feeling of awe. Like the attraction to a blazing bonfire, we are, deep in our limbic brains brought to attention by the danger and focused by our thinking selves at what it all means. Unlike the sort of destruction of an oil refinery fire, which we also witnessed this year, I reckoned with the fact that thousands upon thousands of people are out there wielding explosives. Illegal explosives in Los Angeles, that are on sale in Los Angeles, and are ignited in Los Angeles. We would like to think that the pyrotechnics of the multitudes are demonstrations of the same kind of patriotic sentiments you have in your heart, but you really have no idea. The sound and fury are inescapable. The meaning and purpose are undecipherable.
I watched Twitter this morning. One of the videos cast under the tag #LAFireworks included a montage of fail dancing and violent slapstick idiocy of the sort that makes the millions for Vines and now for TikTok. ‘Shutup already’, was the kindest literal I could find in the threads with their scores of comments, hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes.
Just before I began my daily descent Twitter, now that I am actually learning how to maximize my own use of it, I finished hearing out the three hour podcast of the Weinstein brothers, Eric and Bret on the latter’s DarkHorse publication. They had been concluding a list of black intellectuals for whom America could do well to lend an ear. I am familiar with a fair number of them even in my lacuna from engaging in that particular flavor of public dialog. There are people who remember me from my founding of The Conservative Brotherhood, back in the days when blogs mattered more than they do now. Even more shocking someone recently found me from my mention in Saviors or Sellouts. So I paused for a moment to think about the distance between myself and that gig economy of truth telling that we are all trying to leverage with different degrees of effort. I considered my own disenchantment with the odds that my volume is attenuated by my stubborn willingness to remain at arms’ length from the commentary industrial complex that Candace Owens seems to be navigating so well.
My obscurity is something of a blessing which I certainly appreciate. There is great value in relative anonymity and circumspect presence. It is something I’ve always noted to be the case in the business of intelligence. The overwhelming majority of us Americans are eager to spill our own beans of worth as our conceptions of liberty and meritocracy suggest. Our own success is our own confirmation bias, but before meeting that dosh point or market share target, we take every opportunity to learn something worth knowing and then demonstrate our ability to show what we know. It is the case that those who know don’t say and those who say don’t know? I can’t be sure, but I am sure that attorneys, spies and priests are at least three professions whose value is increased by keeping what they know to themselves. Gatekeeping, Eric Weinstein calls it. I am very sensitive to the fact that there is a lot to be said, but sometimes it’s better to let people figure it out the hard way, and yet on days like these it seems as though no one is prepared to speak the obvious truth.
This is the burden of a writer. I accept it. There is always work to be done. There is always the necessity to facilitate the process of discovery, to open source that process in public and to avoid agendas that seek to erect monuments and gates to The Final Truth, as if it were a gold bar to bury. The Tomb of the Unknown Truth guarded with guns and ceremony.
All that energy. All those fierce kabooms of sentiment surrounding in Los Angeles remind me that everything comes from the people. Today, however, there seems to be no coordinated fire. The energy that is captured in a process that diverts it to secret places, and no leaders seem to be worth of heeding. There is awe in the hearing of the random powers of harnessed fire. It’s Biblical and frightening. It is the American people. How shall we work it all out when it seems we only have the most powerful symbols of our nation at our disposal and no common purpose for the common man? I’ll accept my burden. I’ll tell you where it leads me. Right now I don’t know.