A culture does not subsist in virtue of its members, or of their mere vicinity. Nor does it subsist in any formal specification of its systematic relations – laws, customs, language, technics, rites, and so forth – or of the propositions about reality upon which those formalities are founded, and from which they derive. Nor even does it subsist in the agglomeration of its people and the body of formal specifications of their systematic coordination thrown somehow together.
This, in just the way that I do not subsist in virtue of my cells, or of the formal specification of their systematic coordination. Rather, my cells and their formal coordination subsist qua mine in virtue of me.
The regnant occasion of my body, and of my life, is just me. I am the angel of my body’s life. I am the concrete real in whom the formal specification of its systematic coordination first subsists so as to be strangely attractive to my otherwise wayward cells and organs and subsidiary control systems. The relations constituting the system of me are very like those of feudal vassalage. My subsidiaries are loyal to me for the sake of their love for me, and mine for them.
So likewise a nation subsists, not in its people or in its laws or in the system of propositions in virtue of which those laws make any sense, but rather in the concrete angel who is its regnant occasion, to whom its components are all strangely attracted, and by whom they are all domesticated to his house, ordered and coordinated.
You are the angel of your body, and of its life. You are your soul, brought to life – inspired, or enspirated – by the Holy Spirit. You are the regnant occasion of your body, in virtue of whom it lives. That does not mean that you are something added to your body. It means only that your body is what it is – a living, coordinate body of a man – in virtue of your soul, which is its form. Your regnant occasion is, of all the sprites who in you live, the one most noble and alluring, to whom they all pledge their fealty – more, or less (the latter being the factor of illnesses moral, physiological, and spiritual).
As you are the angel of your body and its life, so there is an angel of you. He is your guardian angel. As when your body sickens you suffer and you, the regnant occasion of your body, cannot do what you normally do, let alone what you ideally could do, so when you err and sin and fall away from the order set by your regnant occasion – your angel – he suffers, and is frustrated from the attainment of his natural ends.
The body is not the cells thereof. These live and die, cycle in and out of it. Nor is it the arrangement of those cells; for, an arrangement is not an actual thing except insofar as it is concretely implemented. It is in the order of the regnant occasion, by whom its order is concretely expressed, that the body consists as a living animal, engaging all the subsidiary animals – their material constituents, their souls, their lives – of whom it is built, and in whom it is then manifest.
So also with society. There is an angel of every culture, a regnant occasion – often, usually, he was identified with the king – and there is in turn an angel of the regnant occasion of a culture, that like him has a life of his own, to which the life of the king subsides.
In Deuteronomy, the Holy Spirit tells how each of the nations was assigned an angel. YHWH kept Israel for himself. YHWH then was the angel of Israel, and Israel – the Patriarch Jacob – was under him the angel of his People, as later were his heirs: Saul, David, Solomon, and Jesus.
Who is the angel of America? Who that genius? Not YHWH, who is the angel of the Church. Call him America, until we can identify him with his true Heavenly name. Who then is America’s earthly vicar? Who is the King of America?
It seems that America has never had an earthly vicar. But perhaps he has been always present, yet hidden, like Arthur in these latter days at Avalon. Perhaps the King of America is sleeping in a cave somewhere. Or perhaps like Parsifal and Moses he labors menially and unknown in some wild fastness, ignorant of his nobility, like Tom or Huck or Penrod.
He must be out there. For the vicar of America is that man in any generation who most perfectly exemplifies the peculiarly American virtues. And there must ever, logically, be such a man.
There is always a king.