Lesson Twelve: Spies and Relativists

The demon Slubgrip's previous adventures were gathered and recorded in Fr. Longenecker's Lent Book, The Gargoyle Code. Written in Screwtapian style, Slubgrip instructs his protégé Dogwart, while trying to keep tabs on his own 'patient'—all while the tempters tumble through Lent to Easter Day.

Worms! Worms! Just because I'm a few minutes late does not mean you can pack up and head for the door. As it happens I was dealing with some very important disciplinary matters with the Dean of Students. I might as well tell you what has been going on. You may find it instructive. The other day I came across some information about your slimy classmate Snort. I'm sure all of you noticed how smarmy and ingratiating he was toward me? Always flattering and trying to get on my good side? It turns out he was plotting against me the whole time. He was planning to report me to the Community Organizer for running a pyramid temptation scheme, and for abuse of the training chambers. 

This is how it works slimestrings. Just when you thought you had an ally, a chum, a colleague—he betrays you. Snort was angling for a quick promotion and while he was busy being all licky-licky with me he was cooking up a plan to win points with Chancellor Borstal, with a trumped-up accusation that would have sent me down to the training chambers myself, but on the receiving end.

Happily, I have my own network of informers in the chancellor's office and on the community organizer's committee, and Snort has been picked up by the Flacks and is even now on his way to our Father's banqueting house below. You know the old school saw—eat or be eaten.

You will notice that my dear friend Glimwort has re-joined us here in Pop Cult 101. All of that business with Snort and the training chambers was a terrible misunderstanding wasn't it my dear fellow? Glimwort will be serving as class monitor from now on, and I expect all matters of discipline and procedure to be referred to him first.

Now let us move on with our studies, grubs. We were talking about Relativism, and the need to reinforce the foundations of our work through constant maintenance. Relativism means that there is no such thing as truth, and this important precept can be woven into most any form of popular culture today. 

Let us take the arts, for example. Any idea that there could possibly be objective criteria for beauty has long been abandoned. In the bad old days the hairless bipeds actually attempted some sort of theory of aesthetics by which they thought they could judge if a thing were beautiful or not. All sorts of blather about "the golden mean" and "mathematical formulations for beauty." It was all nonsense. We soon got them to see that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Which is a cute way of saying, "Each individual can decide what they think is beautiful."

Our most successful tactic was to captivate the artists themselves. After several centuries of hard work we have got them to be the sole arbiters of artistic beauty, and their audiences follow along like the chimpanzee lemmings they are. The modern artist is in a class of his own. Ever since the romantic period we have been telling them that they must be "original," for they are, after all, unique and superior souls. They delight in dramatizing themselves as the visionaries, the dreamers, and the courageous souls who "march bravely on where mere bourgeois souls never dare to tread."

Once they believe themselves to be superior souls we get them to believe that they, and not the audience, should decide what is good art and what is not. The way to boost this pleasing trend is to make the artist into a celebrity. It works like this, grubs: take a mediocre artist. He believes that to be great he has to be "original," and by this he means he has to get people's attention.

So encourage him or her to produce something vulgar and shocking—a head made of frozen urine or a huge pile of animal fat carved into genitals or an unmade bed littered with used syringes and soiled sheets. Then once your client is notorious, er, I mean, "famous" he will be able to pontificate about "art" and "beauty," and because of his celebrity he can speak most any kind of nonsense and the crowds will swallow it. Work with our fellow tempters to weave in the art critics. Get them to collude with the mediocre artists so they can both become rich and famous. "You scratch my back. I'll scratch yours."

The same principles can be applied in the realm of music, literature, dance—you name it. Make the artists and critics into celebrities and marginalize and exclude any of the brutes who want to challenge the substantial structures of the art establishment we have put in place. Should some reactionary try to discuss "objective beauty" have him shouted down, ridiculed, and ostracized. Make him seem like an antique oddity, a crank, a buffoon, and a naive idealist.

4/3/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Catholic
  • Father Dwight Longenecker
  • Art
  • Aesthetics
  • Beauty
  • Devils
  • Lent
  • Relativism
  • Temptation
  • Christianity
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Dwight Longenecker
    About Dwight Longenecker
    Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book is Catholicism Pure and Simple.