As some of you know, I have a critic whom I’ve dubbed my “Malevolent Stalker.”
For something on the order of eight years now, he’s searched for discrediting facts about me in IRS records, obscure blogs by people who knew me thirty-six years ago, my children’s Amazon wish lists, a variety of what he calls “confidential informants,” and so on. He spins what he finds, and invents what he can’t find, in order to charge me, publicly but pseudonymously, with racism, sexism, greed, hunting down and exposing dissenters, homophobia, lowbrow tastes in theater, violent tendencies, religious bigotry, anti-Semitism, willfully damaging family relationships, destroying people’s careers, voyeurism (from my tenure as a bishop of a singles ward), bad taste in literature, fascist inclinations, and so on and so forth. In his depiction, I believe in being dishonest, disloyal, sordid, malevolent, callously hateful and cruel, and in doing wrong to good men and women. And, in their turn, his small following of faithful disciples believes (or pretends to believe) all bad things about me, hopes to hear more bad things, imagines itself to have endured many terrible things at my hands, and delights in the prospect of enduring more such things. If there is anything wretched, unlovely, or of bad report or worthy of condemnation, they seek after these things in connection with me.
Right now, they’re marveling at the verisimilitude of a short story, posted in installments, that is transparently based on the fictional crimes and acts of self-righteousness that they’ve invented for me over the past eight years. These fictions are so uncannily close to the prior fictions! Perhaps this newest fiction will serve as a “cautionary tale,” they hope.
It’s strikingly weird, and sometimes even funny.
I have no idea who the Stalker is. Despite the many hundreds of threads he’s launched about me, my comic absurdities, and my bloodcurdling depravities over most of the past decade, and despite the insulting emails that he’s been sending me for the past two or three years (sometimes several in a given day), he’s been extraordinarily careful to reveal nothing about his own identity. I don’t even know that he’s a “he,” though — perhaps chauvinistically — I see his particular kind of cunning obsession as more likely to be a masculine pathology than a feminine one. (And, although I suspect that he earns his living as a personal incontinence consultant or something of the sort, it’s only because I heard about that job from a commercial the other day and thought of him. Just a hunch.)
Anyway, one of the amusing characteristics of the Stalker and his small band of brothers is their propensity to ascribe to me what he and they are clearly doing themselves.
Thus, I’ve read this very morning about how frustrated I must be in my never-ceasing attempts to figure out the Stalker’s identity (and the identity of one of his lesser acolytes who, a while back, falsely claimed for about a year that he was a serving though unbelieving bishop who was about to travel, and then just had traveled, with me on a tour of Israel).
To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear, with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave never go.
To right the unrightable wrong,
To love pure and chaste from afar,
To try when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star.
This is my quest.
To follow that star,
No matter how hopeless,
No matter how far.
To fight for the right
Without question or pause,
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause.
And I know, if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this –
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.
But I’ve made no serious attempts to discover the Stalker’s identity. I have huge lifetime goals that I’ll probably fail to reach, but finding him isn’t among them. Not even close. I probably haven’t spent so much as fifteen minutes over the past eight years even wondering who he is, let alone puzzling over the name in real life of the poseur pseudo-bishop, who was an obvious mountebank from the start.
I just find it unspeakably bizarre that such people exist.
The world is a very strange place.
Anyway, I’ll be interviewing life-long friends about the Stalker over brunch in just a few minutes. And then, if we have the time, my wife and I will probably stroll along the beach for a few minutes, looking for him. Then we’ll search for him on various southern California freeways for two or three hours before we meet some folks up in Santa Clarita and do a combined interrogation and dinner with them. Plainly, my life, such as it is, revolves around this matter.
Posted from Newport Beach, California