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Heraldry for the tribes of the 21st Century
I haven’t decided 100% how I aim to resolve my citizenship. I am standing on traditions, some examined and others not quite to my satisfaction. Thus I have decided to open my mind in the same essay-expository way that has served me over the years. You see the dilemma is that I can embrace several paradigm shifts at once. As one devoted to my best understanding of the philosophy of science and the ethics of Stoicism, I am happy to think on my feet, pursue barbell strategies and otherwise retain a measure of calm in the face of the contingencies of our complex world. So I don’t have an immediate answer for my preferred pronouns as an American.
On the one hand, I very much like the idea of simply saying my pronoun should be ‘his majesty’. But perhaps that is a bit much too over the top. While it clearly is mocking of those trapped in the world of verbal trappings, there is the genuine precedent of royalty and nobility. Noble as I try to be I’m not attempting to pretend that I’m royalty. I’m the one who abdicated the social and political prerogatives of the Talented Tenth, remember that race thing? While it’s hardly likely that those who are begging for this kind of respect are demanding one bend the knee to actual honorifics and titles, I see them demanding one bend the knee to their gender preference. One has to try mightily not to spit take when one considers exactly what kind of symbology on their heraldic crests this would demand. How could one resist a crest with crossed penises as a superior alternative to the moribund Tele-tubby rainbows everywhere festooned as ‘pride’? If I were so constituted, I’d take crossed penises in a heartbeat. That’s homo heraldry of a higher order.
Be that as it may, and despite what a wonderful t-shirt business it might make someday, I still find people’s gender identities tiresome and over-engineered. So fucking what? Literally. I don’t care how you get down. Not because I’m creeped out, not because I think you are less deserving of equal treatment under the law, not because I think you’re going to burn in Hades, you cheeky little pervert. I’m simply bored to tears by the testimony and I resent the implication of being corralled into a benevolent approval of your sexual habits. This counts for your fascinating dietary predilections as well. So long as you get your kicks and your calories elsewhere than from me personally, I really am not interested in the dimensions of your hungers. I know some people who watch a lot of television actually assume that is the person I’m speaking to or corresponding with, but when I’m looking into your eyes I am seeking out your mind, not your libido. Even for people who think with their gonads. If I want a boner, I know a URL. Sorry ‘they’ were already replaced by an AI.
I do want my pronoun to be semi-serious and yet a mockumentary of myself. (Or should I say ‘us’?) No. Royalty is out. Fine. How about a pretense? According to them what know:
A pretender is a claimant to an abolished throne or to a throne already occupied by somebody else. The term in itself is not pejorative. The original meaning of the English word pretend, from the French word prétendre, means "to put forward, to profess or claim".
The term pretender is applied to those persons on whose behalf a claim to a throne is advanced, regardless of whether that person himself actually makes an active claim. Significantly, the word pretender applies both to claimants with arguably genuine rights to the throne .. and to those with wholly fabricated claims as pretenders..
I like that.
So, if I am to be a pretender, then which is the throne I claim? I have only recently, as a Stoic practitioner, put something other than ‘combat epistemologist’ on my calling card. Yet I suspect I will always belong to that tribe of Popperians. I don’t think I would have had to be involved in such combat were I actually close enough to the astronaut industrial complex to fulfill that childhood dream. Alas I suppose I will always be a seeker of truth rather than a careerist. I admit to myself and to you, that in my priorities it is better to know than to do, that is if you want some comfort in life. Despite the fact that I am lazy and I distrust many aspects of our practical meritocracy I would rather be than an expeditionary soldier than a revered hierarch. The challenges of discovery keep coming and undermining my trust in what I know. So what is my ultimate goal? I think Borges has me nailed. I want to be the keeper of the Infinite Library. And since I have always been a good big brother growing up in a roughneck neighborhood, I am quite ready to courageously defend. I guess that makes me most like this familiar character from the Marvel Comic Universe, Dr. Strange division. It helps that I like the actor too.
I will say that the Baron only slightly edges out the one whose personality is actually more to my liking, and that would be the ineffable Shepherd Book. Alas, Book has no real title other than ‘shepherd’, and no throne. He’s more of a pastor. Of course there is a universe of science fiction characters to choose from, and while I won’t bore you with some flippant indications of my familiarity, I will say that I have found a useful affinity for those who take on hopeless tasks under the Lovecraftian darkness that is similar to our post-everything era. So as much as Mordo is motivated by a betrayal of all he held sacred, then so am I.
A baron should be addressed as the Right Honorable. Thus, if I was a pretender to the seat of the Infinite Librarian, I would be the Right Honorable Baron Cobb-Bowen of the Infinite Library. That’s a mouthful. I could be directly addressed as Your Lordship. It also gives me some room for promotion. After all, there are still Marquesses and Dukes above me. I should do something to merit Most Honorable or even better, Your Grace.
But since I am a pretender, I might as well claim to be a Duke of the Abandoned Throne of Established and Potential Western Reason and Primary Keeper of its Infinite Library of Reasonable Practices & Irrational Heresies.
You may therefore address me as ‘his grace’. If on the other hand, you find me less than gracious and are quite willing to give me an underhanded compliment, ‘his lordship’ will unerringly suffice. If, on the non-binary third hand you have no regard or respect for my intellectual hungers and find my pronouns not only pretentious but outrageous, ‘that unctuous twit’ works wonders. Either way, you can’t say I’m not keeping current.