J. J. Audubon’s Sea Eagle. Which doesn’t exist. Conspiracy!
The observant will have observed that I made no Super Bowl predictions and tried to ignore the event altogether. I had one of my “feelings” about it, which went something like this: Peyton Manning is a great quarterback, but he is an old quarterback with a damaged neck, and I have grown tired of holding my breath every time he drops back to pass one of his ever more fluttery passes. Records and narratives and legacy aside, he needs to get out of football while he still isn’t in a wheelchair. Last night, I bailed early. As I said, I never had good feelings about his last Super Bowl. For too long he’s seemed to me a man on borrowed time.
What did I do? I watched the umpteenth rerun of The Day After Tomorrow. A movie I’ve come to subtitle “Brokeback Warming,” with little Jake Gyllenhall burning books to stay alive in the New York public library because Dick Cheney failed to heed Global Warming and thereby precipitated an instant ice age. It’s one of my guilty pleasures, this movie, so sententious in its liberal posturing that I can’t ever get enough of it. Produced at the height of Global Warming hysteria, it takes the opposite tack with absolutely no sense of irony and proposes an impossible climate outcome as catastrophic as the failed option of Barbra Streisand’s mother to procure an abortion in the pre-Roe v. Wade days. Tragic stuff.
In an age where the prevailing philosophers insist there is no meaning, the narratists continue to make up post-modern meaning, meaning anything that can sell a headline or a movie, no matter how absurdly and demonstrably false that meaning is. Now we will have the narrative of the Seattle Seahawks, the lowermost member of the Canadian Football League, whose greatest cultural exemplar is The Killing and whose coach is a leftwing 9/11 Truther.
According to a Deadspin report from six months ago, Carroll reportedly questioned Retired general Peter Chiarelli, who had just finished his term as the Army’s vice chief of staff, about whether some of the events that occurred on 9/11 actually happened. Chiarelli visited Carroll at the Seattle Seahawks headquarters last spring. When Chiarelli mentioned of Iraq, Carroll reportedly “wanted to know if the September 11 attacks had been planned or faked by the United States government”:
In particular, Carroll wanted to know whether the attack on the Pentagon had really happened. Chiarelli—who was the top-ranking Army official inside the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into its western side—explained that it had. He said he had lost many colleagues. But Carroll didn’t stop there. He ran through the whole 9/11 truther litany.
“Every 9/11 conspiracy theory you can think of, Pete asked about,” said Riki Ellison, the former NFL linebacker who now runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance and introduced Carroll to Chiarelli. Ellison, along with Seahawks offensive line coach Pat Ruel, was at the meeting as well. “And he didn’t stop at 9/11—he had lots of questions about the role of the military today.”
Ellison, a three-time Super Bowl winner who played with the 49ers and at USC who now runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, had said that Carroll “grew up in California during Vietnam, and during Watergate. That’s just the perspective he brings to the table.” The discussion reportedly turned hostile, but Ellison said, “Pete had a four-star general in the room, one of the army’s top guys. Why wouldn’t you push the envelope?”
Why indeed? Maybe there’s a time to back off. Unless you’re flat fricking crazy. Sticks with me right now because I just had to mourn the death of my friend Lloyd Pye. Except that we weren’t friends when he died. There was a bitter break before the unanticipated end. He became a 9/11 Truther. It ended badly. Very badly.
Two things about that. I used to admire the alternative science guys. They know there’s something wrong with establishment science. Too many peer reviewed articles published by the equivalent of politically corrupt figure skating judges and too few opportunities for scientists who might be Einstein patent clerks projecting new breakthroughs into the hard-leftist walls of the academy. That’s grossly unfair.
The other thing? The topper. Alternative science guys are also invariably hard leftists. It’s a wrenching contradiction they never recognize. They spend their lives being dismissed, disrespected, and destroyed by members of an academy that consists of hard leftists, and they never make the connection that science has been fatally compromised by ideology and self-interest within the, well, party of science AS ideology in service to a preferred narrative of anti-human collectivism. Why, I guess, I blew my top at the end.
Lloyd hated the neo-Darwinian oligarchy. He knew they were profoundly corrupt. He devised numerous ways of puncturing their hubris, their rotted logic, their patronizing assumptions. Yet, like a reprobate Catholic on his deathbed, he bowed before them in the end. He fell hook, line, and sinker for the anti-rational, anti-everything 9/11 Truther Conspiracy.
In the end it’s always ONLY about the narrative, no matter how earnestly we talk about facts and, uh, truth. Alternative science guys love the narrative more than most. They mortgage their lives for it. They’re suckers for the really big narrative, the one about The Man conspiring against us for no explicable reason, no matter how much it contributes to their own immolation.
Why I’m not too upset about the Super Bowl. The narrative is always only a fairy tale about today’s headlines. Peyton Manning will always be the greatest quarterback who ever lived. Not worried about his legacy. Right now, after the emotional delay WASPs always experience, I’m missing Lloyd Pye. I usually get the opportunity to fix things before they become unfixable. Not this time.
Lloyd Pye was the first friend who died before we could resolve our differences. That hurts. Do I regret anything I said? No. Not really. He came at me with the Truther nonsense, and I asked, finally pleaded, that he not do it again. I did more research than he did into the facts, the arguments, the theories, the motives, and I went round after round with him in his growing obsession. We struck, I thought, a peace. Then he came at me again, almost out of the blue, after I’d already told him this was a friendship killer. But his hatred of George W. Bush was so great that he couldn’t stop himself.
After months, years, of forbearance, I went all Instapunk on him. Which is never a pretty sight. Now he’s dead. Do I feel guilty? No. What I feel is sorrow. Like watching a man in a locked room who has the key dangling over his head but never thinks to look UP. Lloyd hated Neo-Darwinian evolution but he couldn’t bring himself to believe in God. He preferred to believe in aliens instead.
You see, aliens — and alien directed evolution — are the best way to deal with the miracle of humanity without acknowledging moral imperatives. It’s not only alternative science; it’s alternative philosophy and alternative logic. How the 9/11 Truthers get by.
Should I feel guilty? Yes. He called me a polymath. I disagreed. I told him I was a mile wide and an inch deep. He disagreed. I should have persisted, regardless of how awful he was being. I screwed up.
What does any of this have to do with the Super Bowl? Not much. Unless we remember that men devote their lives to ideas while women devote their lives to people. One is not better than the other. But both are necessary. Without men, women would be nameless drones living in solitary enclaves, in poverty and isolation. Without women, men would be Stalin, murderous lords of empires beyond our current imaginings.
One more thing. Men, with their whole idea problem, are the only sex that has ever tried to put limits on themselves. Every major religion — excepting the eternal exception Islam, of course — has been designed, by men, to put limits on men. If there ever was a female religion, say, Wicca, has it ever tried for a moment to put limits on women?
Games. Sports. Men try to govern themselves. They’re the bricks. Women are the slippery mortar, always unmaking the walls. But women also make good troops. If you want a good sports team, pick women first. They follow the rules. If you want a better sports team, add more rules. They will obey them all. Why totalitarian regimes need to persuade the women first. It’s men, always men, who insist on breaking every rule they can find.
Peyton Manning. Time to go home. Never seen a better quarterback. Now that everyone is a woman, there’s no place for you anymore. Your brother has a brighter future because he’s more girl than you.
Now. Let us all meditate on the evil genius of George W. Bush planning the 9/11 attack. Sigh. Happy, Lloyd Pye? Happy, Pete Carroll?
Men are idiots. Except on Groundhog Day, when they invented civilization.
P.S. There never was any ‘Sea Eagle,’ despite Audubon’s beautiful portrait. It’s destined to join myths like the Seattle Seahawks as a species that had a single bright day. I’d trade them all in for an afternoon with a single bald eagle.
Lloyd Pye. Yes. He was crazy. But so am I.