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Moment of Truth: Martyrs and Monsters

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the wooden stake that is the hammer. Very difficult to use.

It snuck up on us one day while we were listening to Pete Seeger and reading the diary of Anne Frank, and listening to Bessie Smith and reading Edward Said, and listening to Chumbawamba and reading Frantz Fanon. The agents of rot swarmed in. They came at night. They used the silence and darkness to conceal their purpose and their protocols.

Or, maybe it was obvious. You were listening to Martin Luther King, Jr. inspiring you to action against the smug, violent, comfortable bosses, leaders, and owners. The FBI and the Ku Klux Klan could be plainly seen hovering around him, making threats that had nowhere to go but into execution. And then he was killed. Everyone was getting assassinated except the people who really needed assassinating. They were cruisin’ for an assassinatin’. They were clammoratin’ for an assassinatin’. They were dunning for a gunning. But they never got it. Only the decent people did, plus John F. Kennedy.

Rachel Carson, Joe Hill, W.E.B. du Bois, Jacques Cousteau, Virginia Wolfe, Malcolm X, Eugene V. Debs, Shirley Chisholm, Fanny Lou Hamer, Ho Chi Minh, did they all live in vain? Were they all killed by werewolves? The current thinking is that they were. Were they all killed by the same werewolf? Current theories say, “probably.” Does that mean they all live on as werewolves now? Yes. E.O. Wilson recently became a werewolf, in case you missed it.

What exactly is a werewolf? A lot of ignorant people will try to tell you. On a podcast called “Supernatural,” a not-very-persuasive voice named Ashley Flowers tried and did a crap job. She began by asserting that “we always cast extremely attractive men to play them in movies, like Michael J Fox, Hugh Jackman, and Taylor Lautner.”

Okay, Michael J. Fox was in Teen Wolf. Taylor Lautner was in that Twilight garbage. Hugh Jackman? Is she mistaking Wolverine for a werewolf because of his suggestive facial hair? No, right, he was a werewolf in Van Helsing. I didn’t remember that either.

The writer of that first clause, “We always cast extremely attractive men to play them in movies,” must have a pop culture memory the depth of Zambonied fruit leather. The original actor to play the Universal pictures wolfman was Lon Chaney, Jr., not a glamorous ingenu by any measure. Actually, downright homely. Then there was Bela Lugosi, in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, who I don’t think was cast for his looks but for his affordability. Somewhere in there was Henry Hull, star of Werewolf of London, also of indifferent attractiveness. And the most recent actor to reprise the Universal Pictures character, Lawrence Talbot, aka the wolfman, was Benicio del Toro, portraying in hilarious fashion an emotive late-19th C Shakespearean actor, depressed and brooding.

What was the point of the “extremely attractive actor” thing on the podcast, “Supernatural?”

“Supernatural” is in the Parcast distribution family of podcast products: slickly produced, brief, and shallow. Intellectual symptoms of the monetizing of mediocrity.

The folkloric stories told in the werewolf episode seem chosen to allow for easy segues. They aren’t bad, per se, or even poorly told, but they don’t add up to anything. Ashley Flowers suggests, through ventriloquized mouth sounds, that there’s something universal about the full moon making people squirrelly, but there’s nothing universal about it, nor does every folkloric werewolf story revolve around the full moon. She also suggests that the stories are about how an animalistic nature resides in all of us, but that’s confusing, because clearly all of us aren’t very attractive actors. Nor have most of us or even many of us made deals with the devil or been bitten by a werewolf or been a seventh child. Universality is the opposite of what these stories point to.

I – who write my own text, thank you – am going to focus on the cursedness of the werewolf. The werewolf is unhappy. He or she – let’s call it “they” in the current fashion—they is lonely, an outcast, unable to form relationships for fear of killing their beloveds. In a way they are allegorical closeted queers. They believe themselves unable to overcome their curse, nor are they able to admit it to anyone.

Going further back in folklore, to the Middle Ages – though the transformation of humans into beasts, predatory and otherwise, dates back to before the common era – we find a conflation of two outcast characters: the werewolf and the wild man of the forest.

Both creatures, often mistaken for one another or simply folded into each other until they’re indistinguishable, live on the outskirts of society. Unlike very attractive actors. They come out only furtively, to abduct children or feed on livestock, or abduct then feed on livestock or children, which, I admit, very attractive actors do, but afterwards werewolves quickly disappear back into their wilderness. They live just out of sight, maybe even below the surface of city streets, or in parts of the city or countryside considered unfit for decent citizens to frequent and certainly unfit for any so-called respectable lifestyle.

An aside here: there are two works I have memories of, speaking of conflation, that have folded into each other in my mind. One is a Richard Wright story, “The Man Who Lived Underground,” and the other the Ralph Ellison novel, Invisible Man. I can’t remember which story had a man living in an underground chamber, the walls of which he’d studded with diamonds. In any case, both works are about outsiders.

And the heroes I mentioned earlier were also outsiders of a kind. Each of a different kind. Monsters in the night forest, pushed to the periphery, shunned by those who arrogantly call themselves the “decent,” those who want us to believe they’re upholding normalcy and respectability. Patriotism. Healthy values.

Rachel Carson, Joe Hill, W.E.B. du Bois, Jacques Cousteau, Virginia Wolfe, Malcolm X, Eugene V. Debs, Shirley Chisholm, Fanny Lou Hamer, Ho Chi Minh, Pete Seeger, Anne Frank, Bessie Smith, Edward Said, all werewolves. Finally pushed by the overweening of the overwieners to march forth into the daylight in their hairy forms and speak up for what they believe in.

Marx used the vampire as a metaphor for the rich. What he didn’t say, but sort of implied, was that there’s a war between the people’s werewolves and the creepy cabal of wealth-hoarding vampires who hide behind masks of decency. It’s an age-old war. It keeps flaring up. Whenever we think we’ve exposed the vampires to the sunlight and burned them out of our midst, or at least been on the verge of doing so, the vampires assassinate our werewolves.

We find they were always one step ahead of us, infecting a self-selecting segment of the population with vampiristic slavishness. The infected ones worship the master vampires, while we on the other hand have empathy and realistic respect for our werewolves. The masters incite the infected, first against the werewolves, and then against us, we for whom the werewolves have spoken out and allowed themselves to become targets.

Our heroes have always been socialists, ecologists, anti-colonialists, feminists, anti-capitalists, queers, and werewolves. Oh, of course one or another of them may have lost their way now and then, been a less than perfect werewolf, made regrettable decisions that ended up benefiting the vampires. But most never sold out to the vampire establishment. Most never got the chance, and if they had had the chance would have snarled at it.

Some of you are saying, E.O. Wilson? A werewolf?

Yes. Maybe he was an unwitting werewolf. Rachel Carson, Jacques Cousteau, and E.O. Wilson are typical unsuspecting werewolves. Most periodic theriomorphs become so unwittingly. They might not discover what they are until the third or fourth transformation. Certainly the curse of lycanthropy takes one by surprise. If it doesn’t, perhaps what you think is a werewolf is just a scheming, glory-seeking charlatan, a sheep in wolf’s clothing, the majority of whom don’t last long before betraying themselves.

Pete Seeger? Yeah, Pete Seeger. I won’t argue that there are many wannabe werewolves who are just little were-Pomeranians or were-chihuahuas, prancing at the dog show. But Pete Seeger was not one of them.

Your Edwin Teller, William F. Buckley, Newt Gingrich, and Donald Rumsfeld are classic vampires, born careerists whose every move is intended to justify their sickening vampiric desires.

And those desires, and the justifications for them, never truly die, do they? They rise again and again from the grave, at first in somewhat unfamiliar forms, but they soon become all too familiar.

Why speak of things in this allegorical way? I have my reasons. It’s particularly relevant since QAnon identified the CERN Large Hadron Collider as a Hell gate. I want us all to be ready for the onslaught of vampires and their ghoulish slaves, their familiars, their Renfields, their Q- holes, their infiltrating agents. I don’t discount any possibility when it comes to vampires conducting evil into our world, even dumb ideas invented by their spider-eating lunatic slaves. Those vampires are clever. They never stop scheming. We won’t be able to defeat them completely until we elucidate all the ways they worm in and rot the edifice of public understanding for their own purposes.

All that’s really important, though, is that we remember, the goal is to choke off the flow of blood to the vampires. All blood to the people.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!

Moment of Truth


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