“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity”
The Second Coming : W.B. Yeats. 1919
Perhaps The Best lack conviction because battling the passionate intensity of The Worst, the vehemence of The Social Media Pile-On Mob, the sanctimonious correctness of The Moralisers, the sheer fortress-like absolutist thickness of the several parties comprising The Mediocre, is just too bloody exhausting after a time.
Well toughen up, Princesses! Because The Worst gets worse.
Why, Ned hasn’t even mentioned the singular horror that is Ambitious Mediocrity!
Nothing is more disheartening to the thoughtful, more dangerous to a thoughtful world, than ambitious mediocrity. Not least because mediocrity does not know itself. Indeed, would not recognise itself if it bit itself on the arse. The capacity to know thyself is beyond the mediocre mentality. Even if – BIG if – the concept of self-cognition does by mischance happen to rise in the mediocre consciousness, the threatening spectre is wilfully dismissed as an unnecessary and hazardous notion that would necessitate admitting one’s inadequacy to oneself. And is that going to happen? No way, blockhead! The Mediocre have no self doubt. None. They can’t. Not a jot. Because The Mediocre are, as the man said, always at their best. From which unexamined position the added injection of ambition, fueling self-delusion, drives the unquestioningly witless into situations way beyond their capability without their ever recognising it. While The Best fall exhausted and self-doubting by the wayside. Or, finding themselves employed, managed, manipulated, bullied and otherwise CEO’d by The Ambitious Mediocre, are driven insane. Or simply give up and run from the bone-headed world into arcane pursuits such as reading.
Now. The merest smidgen of research demonstrates local mediocrity almost invariably presenting in the form of Holden-Ford binary thought. Stay with Ned. Holden-Ford. You are one or the other. Irredeemably. You think one way or the other. Irrevocably. And your binary opposite is intolerable. A rival to be scorned when in expansive mood, hated when not. The homophobe versus christianophobe nature of much recent Folau Discourse springs to mind. Liberal/Labor dualism. Melbourne v Sydney. Bali/not Bali. Victim/Villain.
Now. The occasional Valiant of Different Thought may chug over a crest, dazzling in its difference, for a brief moment tempting a thinker perhaps to broader insight, but the cognitive aberration, equally anachronistic, never threatens to put a serious dent in Holden-Ford intellectual hegemony. Furthermore, deep into the 21st century, in an astounding display of digger-like resilience, Holden-Fordist Thought continues to thrive long after its automotive analogues have been displaced by umpteen more sophisticated, imported competitors. The flourishing of vehicular alternativism is simply not replicated in the market of thought! Au contraire! Far from loosening its grip with the passing of time, Holden-Fordism seems only to be expanding its dualistic dominion over what may be loosely termed The Australian Mind.
So. Give them an issue and out they come, Holdens and Fords, revving at the lights of discourse, drivers panting with the importance of highly polished, accessorised and badged, same old same old contributions. Same old faces, same old earrings, same old headband, same old toothy hee-hawing at each others wit when talk turns to lighter matters..which it inevitably does as The Mediocre rapidly run out of intellectual steam and begin to repeat repartee.
To this exchange is awarded the appellation “The Conversation”.
Now. How often does “The Conversation” concern people who themselves are not invited to participate in The Conversation? Ned here is thinking of the poor, the chronic unemployed, the homeless, the victims of violence, et al. When did we last see a homeless person on a TV panel show? A pauper? A chronic welfare recipient? Is there a minimum wage prerequisite – let alone mandatory state of bourgeois grooming – for appearance on The Drum or The Project or The Nightly Cant or Morning TV Gibberish OMG? There appears no end of familiar well-tailored offended parties by proxy in attendance upon these platforms, and precious few, if any, actuals. Then again, victims by proxy make a living through having opinions. And, when on a good thing, by sticking to it.
And then, and then, diving deeper and down, we enter the realm of shrieking blockheadedness known as social media. Down here, the light of sense is so unable to penetrate, the darkness of cerebral immiseration so pervasive, that not even the cranial feebleness of Holden-Fordism can get a look in. Down here, where reaction by keypad has completely supplanted thought, we are in the realm of no thought at all.
So toughen up, Princesses! And off with their heads!
In 1919, given the then disturbed state of the world, Ned’s good friend W.B. was inquiring, poetically, as to whether The Second Coming might be at hand. With caveat that, if such was the case, The Second Coming of what?
In 2019, one hundred years of disturbance later, with sincere apologies, W.B..
“And what rough beast. its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Northcote to be born?”
Or St Kilda, Darlinghurst, Bondi, or Byron Bay, for that matter.
That’s all for now.
Remember: Cause Trouble. And teach your children well.