And there, in the darkness, staring up at that screen, I marveled at this monumental font of deep and eternal ideas: the aversion to facing danger, even when it is right in front of us; the value of old and true allies; the corrosive force of addiction; responsibility forsaken, then reclaimed… and through it all the fear that we may be lesser sons of greater fathers, and that we may no longer have the courage or the will to defend the City entrusted to our care.
This, and more, what was what John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was trying to teach me, down that dark river of the future — and he ought to know. The Lord of the Rings was written between 1937 through 1949… years of dark waters, indeed.
A few years before Tolkien put pen to paper, an event took place that a man of his education would have undoubtedly been aware. On February 9th, 1933, the ruling elite of the world’s great Civilization held a debate in the Oxford Union. With thunderclouds growing dark across the English Channel, at a time when resolute action could still have averted the worst catastrophe the world has ever known, these elites resolved that “This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country.”
The Resolution passed by a vote of 275 to 153. Needless to say, this vote did not avert the fight. It guaranteed it.
How much of the weight of that, I wonder, sat along side him as he penned page after page about the decline of the Men of the West. For taken in its entirety, The Lord of the Rings is about the collective regeneration of the will and courage of a previous age, and ends with the hope that the greatest days of the City lie yet ahead.
I live a few miles from Santa Monica High School, in California. There, young men and women are taught that America is “a terrorist nation,” “one of the worst regimes in history,” that it’s twice-elected leader is “the son of the devil,” and dictator of this “fascist” country. Further, “patriotism” is taught by dragging an American flag across the classroom floor, because the nation’s truest patriots, as we should know by now, are those who are most able to despise it.
This is only high school, remember: in college things get much, much worse.
Two generations, now, are being raised on this poison, and the reason for that is this: the enemies of this city cannot come out and simply say, “Do not defend the city.” Even the smartest among us can see that is simple treason. But they can say, “The City is not worth defending.” So they say that, and they say that all the time and in as many different ways as they are able.
If you step far enough back to look at the whole of human history, you will begin to see a very plain rhythm: a heartbeat of civilization. Steep climbs out of disease and ignorance into the light of medicine and learning — and then a sudden collapse back into darkness. And it is in that darkness that most humans have lived their lives: poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
The pattern is always the same: at the height of a civilization’s powers something catastrophic seems to occur — a loss of will, a failure of nerve, and above all an unwillingness to identify with the values and customs that have produced such wonders.
The Dark is rising. You can feel it as clearly as the elves of Tolkien's Middle Earth felt the rise of Sauron. Thuggish world leaders openly declare their intent to anhilate America and all who stand in the way of world domination; and the world yawns; the Democratic Party and it new Messiah play partisan politics that suggest that a nuclear Iran is :
Meanwhile, the lunatic leader of Iran gloats:
The world powers cannot stop Iran's nuclear progress, state media on Monday quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying upon his arrival in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
'The talks made by some (countries) will be no hurdle in the course of progress of the Iranian nation,' Ahmadinejad told state television network IRIB in New York.
The president was referring to the demand by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (5+1) for Iran to suspend its controversial uranium enrichment process or face further political isolation and financial sanctions.
Yes, we've seen how effective sanctions and diplomacy have been over the last four years. While we have talked and dithered; trusting to the UN or the EU, Iran has moved closer and closer to its nuclear goals. You can almost hear the Iranian thugs laughing at the naivete of western elites and leaders. It is the sound of contemptuous superiority the typical psychopath expresses for anyone who is not himself.
Nevertheless, despite the poisonous words and overt appeasement of the Grima Wormtongues of our world, many refuse to bow to the dark, and remain ready to stand and fight for western civilization:
Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel joined thousands of protesters in New York Monday to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's planned address to the United Nations General Assembly, which opens Tuesday. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and former minister Natan Sharansky also spoke at the gathering, organized by a coalition of American Jewish groups. Wiesel said "We urge all the UN delegations across the street to leave the hall when [Ahmadinejad] appears on the stage."(Read it all)
It is clear from every piece of evidence at our disposal, that Ahmadinejad is a fanatic's fanatic who will not deter his genocidal vision because of a few million piddly human deaths or worldwide destruction, even if people in his own country suffer for it. He is completely rational about his irrationality, and would like nothing better than to be the Islamic 'hero' who ushers in the apocalypse for the 12th Imam.
It is true that behind this fruitcake, there are the Iranian mullahs, who may be religious, but are not stupid. They use Ahmadinejad to jab at the West and draw blood, then pull him back. Their goal is power, and they realize that you can't have power if you are dead. Ahmadinejad may think he calls the shots, but the mullahs, however immoderate and provocative are the ones with real power.
The question is, how far will the mullahs let the madman go? Would they let him "wipe Israel off the map", if they thought the world, i.e., the U.S., would do nothing? I think they would, simply because if they could get away with it, then it would completely consolidate their power as the real "leaders" of Islam--the ones who elimated the hated Jewish State, the poisonous thorn in the side of the Islamic world.
Can we base our security and that of Israel's on the hope that the mullahs may be immoderate, but perhaps not irrational?
God help us if we rely solely on such a vain hope--particularly if the Democrats get back into power.
Because, you see, Iran and the rest of the terrorists are patiently waiting. They are waiting for the Democrats--with all their inherent moral weakness and confusion; the Iranians are waiting because they perceive fear, appeasement, defeat, and surrender in the Democratic rhetoric and behavior. They know that as soon as an Obama gets elected, they will be home free and will not have to suffer any consequences for wiping Israel off the map--from the U.S., anyway. They will be able to do as they like without interference.
The dithering Democrats will excuse, rationalize and basically look for any reason to exculpate any atrocity Iran initiates, because they are 'the party of peace' and they just know they can talk to lunatics and trust them.
They Iranians know that today's Democrats will not stand against the darkness; instead they will simply turn off the lights and dwell in the dark without protest--then say it is a good thing.
As Whittle notes, these days, Hollywood has become the propaganda arm of the political left and the Democrats.
Once upon a time, I thought that movies, literature and art had the goal of entertaining people through the selective recreation of reality, and could inspire and motivate us to a greater appreciation and experience of life.
Really great art stands on its own, without any agenda (to paraphrase Sigmund, Carl and Alfred). What we have exemplified in the anti-American selections that Hollywood chooses to celebrate is not great art at all, but art appropriated for the purpose of advocating and disseminating a political agenda. This is what the Soviet Union used to do with all the statues and posters and paintings and "art" that depicted the beefy proletariat workers with their "new" consciousness, standing around proudly to attest to the wondrous glory of Soviet life.
It didn't really convince anyone even then-- except the propaganda experts who created it.
Likewise, the intellectual heirs of the Soviet propaganda experts who now live in "Hollywood"; along with all the rest of the artistic and intellectual elite of the West, have developed a creative alternative to the old Soviet realism style-- which despite its fundamental propaganda style, at least tried to project something positive ("real but fake" you could say).
The agenda of the new propagandists' art is not to "glorify" anything, or at least not to depict anything positively. On the contrary, the current crop of elites seek to destroy and deconstruct the underlying values of the West, for which they feel a profound contempt. The ideology that drives them has failed to create the socialist utopia they yearn for; so now in their despair and spite, their art has evolved to capture and expose the anti-life, anti-beauty, anti-reason, and generally anti-human threads of their souls.
Just watch Redacted, Stop-Loss, or In the Valley of Elah, and watch as "our soldiers are depicted as murderers, rapists, broken psychotics or ignorant dupes –visions foisted upon me by bitter and isolated millionaires such as Brian de Palma and Paul Haggis and all the rest."
The cultural elite of the West has become dedicated to the darkness of the human soul.
Dr. Martin Seligman a well-known researcher in behavior, in an article titled "Misreporting Science in the New York Times: Against Happiness" notes that in the choice of articles on psychology it chooses to print, and in the ones it ignores, the NY Times (one of the advertisers for the new elite) is making a concerted effort to consistently display life as full of "unmitigated tragedy, violence, and meaninglessness." He mentions several well-written books that have never been reviewed by the NY Times Book Review, and some articles on recent research on happiness that never made it to press:
What do these books and stories have in common? They are good news. They suggest that virtue, well-being, nobility, happiness, and meaning are all within the realm of human possibility, and that life is not just unmitigated tragedy, violence, and meaninglessness. And they are based on solid, painstaking science involving hundreds of thousands of subjects, hundreds of refereed articles, and scores of doctoral dissertations from the most reputable universities in the world.
But take a shoddily researched and truly lightweight account that can be run as “Against Happiness,” and it leads.
Yes, there are professional pessimists. Yes, there are nattering nabobs of negativism. There are media dedicated to the dividends of darkness that both reflect a cultural bias toward despair and simultaneously shape it. They are enormously influential, and if you wonder why our young people are in the midst of an epidemic of depression and meaninglessness in the presence of unprecedented wealth, education, and opportunity, you might start with what they read in the New York Times.
Indeed, you might. And then you could go on to explore most of the recent literature, art, and film that promoted by the Times and other media outlets which are dedicated to the "darkness" to which Dr. Seligman refers.
It is something I am very familiar with, and why I turned to science fiction and fantasy, where there there are artistic universes where morality and objective reality still exist . It is why books and films like Harry Potter and Narnia have achieved phenomenal success and why the three Lord of the Rings movies were so profoundly relevant to our time. They were bright, glittering stars in the midst of a cultural black hole that was sucking all the joy, hope and love from life.
Do you think I am exaggerating? Take a look at the books the NY Times considers worthwhile. They are filled with despairing and hopeless people. Often, their characters aren't even likable. But they supposedly deal with very profound and important issues and are considered "serious" and "literary". I used to try to read some of them, but I found I couldn't ever finish them. They made me sick and gave me nightmares (and I'm not talking about Stephen King novels either). I finally found a pardigm I could live with: If it was recommended by the NY Times and considered an "important" work, I avoided it the same way I try to avoid death.
I finally abandoned reading the NY Times Review of Books (which I read for years) entirely after they decided to EXCLUDE the most popular book of the latter part of the 20th century in the Best Seller List and banish it to the Children's Book List. I am referring, of course, to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, which is sneered at by the true literary establishment; as was Tolkien's Lord of the Rings 40 years ago. As is science fiction and mystery (unless it conforms to the "darkness" criteria, I've noticed). And, as for romance novels (and believe it or not, there are truly excellent novels in this genre, that are comparable to the works of Austen, Bronte and others) the anti-intellectual stigma attached to reading such novels says all you need to know about the attitude of the true literary establishment, as exemplified by the NY Times.
Don't get me wrong. One of my majors in college long ago was English Literature. I don't believe that all books need to have happy sappy endings. On the contrary, if books are to teach us about life and all the important issues that involves, it is often necessary to face unpleasantness and pain. Truly wonderful art helps you to do that, while simultaneously rejoicing in the human spirit.
Shall we discuss many of the so-called "artsy" movies? Especially the ones that open in special theaters (if it appeals to the "masses" it must be insipid)? Almost all of them are life-hating, pathetic romps dedicated to the twin themes of despair and hopelessness. Or catering to the darkness within men's souls--if not actively celebrating it. Few and far between are the ones that even explore the light and the goodness of those souls. After being told over and over again that happiness is impossible in this world; that those who pursue it are simple and shallow; and that , as C3PO in "Star Wars"--a wonderful robotic symbol of this mindset--says, "misery and suffering is our lot in life" --is it really any wonder that my profession is overwhelmed by the unhappiness of our fellow humans?
Those who buy into the doom and gloom agenda are so profoundly caught up in their own narcissistic feelings that they can't even tolerate having a political candidate they supported lose an election without suffering post-traumatic stress. I had a patient once who became suicidal because her son had to have surgery and she felt life had no meaning or purpose...and then I found out that her 30 year old son was scheduled for bunion surgery, and I'm afraid I lost all sympathy for her plight.
Truly, there aren't enough antidepressants in the universe to reverse the onslaught of depression and malaise that is aimed at our minds from sun up to sun set that would have us believe that everything is a disaster. Like Denethor, the doomed Warden of Gondor, who spent years listening to Sauron tell him how hopeless it is to oppose him (in Return of the King); the media --and all those who listen to the Sauron's of today-- would like us to pour oil on the funeral pyre and just light it--because we can't win against evil; we can't win against chaos; we can't win against darkness. According to them, we are doomed. Doomed!
I touched on this in a post I did in November, 2005, relating to Harry Potter. There is a reason JK Rowling's Potter series has become the metaphor for our times in much the same way that JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was a metaphor for World War II--and still has enormous relevance for today's conflict with the Islamofascist barbarians:
If it were left to the leftist intellectual elites of academia and the media; or to hapless leadership of the Democratic Party, in thrall to Saruman and under the influence of a spate of Wormtongues, (i.e., the political left), neither the spreading darkness of Tolkien's Mordor, nor the vicious malice of Rowling's Voldemort would be opposed.
Whittle concludes his excellent piece this way:
It is the small-town virtues of self-reliance, hard work, personal responsibility, and common-sense ingenuity — and not those of the preening cosmopolitans that gape at them in mixed contempt and bafflement — that have made us the inheritors of the most magnificent, noble, decent and free society ever to appear on this earth. This Western Civilization… this American City… has earned the right to greet each sunrise with a blast of silver trumpets that can bring down mountains.
And what, really, is a Legion of Narcissists and a Confederacy of Despair against that?
Against that, they are nothing. Absolutely 0.
Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
-The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers