Boiled Frogs and Beanstalks

In his most recent post, Kristor tells of his sense that fresh wood has been thrown on the fire that licks the pot in which conservative frogs have long simmered. As you can see in the comments, he is not the only frog to feel the scald and twitch. I was, indeed, one of those commenters, so you can count me among scalded and twitching frogs.

The New York Times certainly stoked the boiler when it owned the shrill libels of Sarah Jeong, but the caloric adaptability of conservative frogs is legendary, as is the speed with which their twitching subsides. I know that I have gotten used to finding a nasty animus between the lines in the New York Times, and so expect I will get used to finding their nasty animus printed in plain English.

Sputtering dudgeon is a state to which every conservative grows accustomed.

When some new outrage triggers a fit of sputtering dudgeon, many conservatives find relief in imagining that their enemies have at last “gone too far” and are about to “wake a sleeping giant.” This strikes me as unlikely, and also as an unhappy metaphor, given what fairy stories have taught me about giants who rise from their slumbers in wrath. For students of the sleeping giant, the locus classicus is, no doubt, the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and from this story we learn that a faith in sleeping giants is a misplaced faith.

The first thing we learn is that giants are extraordinarily sound sleepers—so sound that, in the case of Jack’s giant, it was possible for the pilfering thief to swipe from under the giant’s nose not only his hen that laid golden eggs, but also two large bags of silver and gold. While making away with the latter, Jack was badgered by the giant’s dog, which “barked at Jack most furiously,” but no matter how furiously the dog barked,

“the giant did not wake from his sound sleep, and the dog grew tired of barking.”

Every conservative Cassandra knows just how that dog felt.

Having deprived the giant of all but one of his treasures, Jack resolved to climb the beanstalk one last time and take the giant’s singing harp. It was on this last raid that Jack succeeded in “waking the sleeping giant.” But the consequences of the giant’s waking were not such as to reassure those who would place their faith in sleeping giants.

It so happens that this particular giant was a sot who had been sleeping in a state of inebriation, and who therefore woke to a fury that was stumbling, stupid and slow.

“Jack ran as fast as he could, and in a little time the giant recovered sufficiently to walk slowly, or rather to reel after him. Had he been sober, he would have overtaken Jack instantly; but as he then was, Jack contrived to be first at the top of the bean-stalk . . .”

First at the top and, as every child knows, first at the bottom.

“The moment Jack got down the bean-stalk, he called out for a hatchet, and one was brought him directly. Now just at that instant the giant was beginning to descend, but Jack cut the beanstalk with his hatchet . . . which made the giant fall headlong into the garden. The fall was so great that it killed him . . .”

So much for the terrible vengeance of a sleeping giant roused. If Sarah Jeong is half as nimble and resourceful as Jack, she and her ilk will strip the conservative giant of everything, and then fertilize their garden with its body and its bones.

In their fits of sputtering dudgeon, some conservatives find solace in the thought that, at the end of the day, conservatives have more guns. For my part, I cannot see the use of guns in a culture war. Guns are just like the long legs and brawny arms of Jack’s giant: fearsome at first glance, but a broken reed in the face of a man with a hatchet.

If a conservative fires his gun, or brandishes his gun, or merely mentions that he has a gun tucked away in the back of his closet, he will, of course, be instantly demonized as an unhinged terrorist and banished to the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Like the enraged giant, he will find the beanstalk cut from under him; he will “fall headlong into the garden” of Sarah Jeong and her ilk; and in that place his decomposing body and bones will add bounty to their harvest.

The man with a hatchet is, of course, the man with the power to interpret events and represent reality. The man with the hatchet is the man who gets to tell the story after the giant has fallen to earth and the guns have been put away.

Consider that Jack is a pilfering thief and the giant, at worst, an intemperate brute. And then consider which of the two comes off as the hero. As he stepped onto the topmost limb of that fatal beanstalk, the giant was, in truth, an outraged householder burning with righteous anger at a thief, and yet the storyteller has us cheering for larcenous Jack.

Don’t be that giant! Don’t even think about climbing down the beanstalk until you have taken possession of Jack’s hatchet, or at the very least seriously blunted its blade.

19 thoughts on “Boiled Frogs and Beanstalks

  1. Pingback: Boiled Frogs and Beanstalks | @the_arv

  2. If the adage is true that, generally speaking, ‘the older one gets the more conservative (s)he becomes,’ then that is probably explanation enough for conservatism’s failure to actually conserve anything worth conserving.

    • ‘the older one gets the more conservative (s)he becomes,’

      If a conservative uses the language of the left in the manner of the left,
      then ‘(s)he’ is no longer a conservative, but is transitioning to the left.

      • Well, Brian, you know what I have always said:
        Leftward the course of empire makes its way,
        The first four Acts already past, a fifth shall close the drama with the day.
        Time’s most degenerate offspring is the last
        . (apologies to Berkeley)
        Would it make you feel better about things were I to write “he or she” instead of “(s)he,” or should I just exclude the women altogether?

      • ‘ Would it make you feel better about things were I to write “he or she” instead of “(s)he” ? ‘
        At least then I could pronounce it and the written language would not be completely divorced from the spoken tongue.
        ‘ …or should I just exclude the women altogether? ‘
        In English, ‘man (he)’ might or might not exclude ‘woman (she)’. It depends on the context.
        For example, from Genesis 5 [KJV]:
        ‘1 …In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
        2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.’
        Exactly the same ambiguity obtains in the Greek with ‘anthropos’ and ‘andron’.
        The attempt to nail everything down with one (and only one) politically correct denotation for each word destroys connotation, removes nuance, kills poetry and reduces language to a system fit for the communication of machine with machine and for the enslavement of man.

      • Thanks, Brian. You’ve failed, thus far, to convince me that my usage of “(s)he,” as opposed to “he or she,” equates to a ‘transitioning to the left.’ But I’m still listening.

        Some few years ago a close family member accused me of being “p*ssy whipped.” (S)he said that (s)he could see it when no one else could (a little gnostic ism at play in that case, methinks). Somewhat concerned that (s)he might actually have a point, I consulted a number of persons in my close circle equally knowledgeable of my marital relationship. The overwhelming consensus was that (s)he had allowed her overactive imagination to control her own eyes and her better sense. I took the general consensus in that particular case as more representative of the reality of the matter in question. I would do the same here if I knew what the general consensus were.

      • If (s)he had succeeded in cowing you, she would have succeeded in p*ssy whipping you with the fear of appearing p*ssy whipped. Men also use this fear to manipulate other men, but I’m not sure that counts as p*ssy whipping. I believe the expression is based on the expression pistol whipped, as both expressions denote degradation through domination. Some men are certainly p*ssy whipped, but I believe that many more are whipped by the fear of appearing p*ssy whipped.

      • To certain persons, a man’s capitulating on, e.g., the importance of putting the cap back on the tube of toothpaste and the like is equivalent to being (or at least becoming) p*ssy whipped. That might be the case, but I ain’t seeing it if it is.

      • This is the difference between Christian marriage and pagan marriage, both of which are different than feminist marriage.

      • 1) TM: ‘You’ve failed, thus far, to convince me that my usage of “(s)he,” as opposed to “he or she,” equates to a ‘transitioning to the left.’’
        2) TM: ‘The overwhelming consensus was that (s)he had allowed her overactive imagination to control her own eyes and her better sense.’
        By adopting the language of the left and (this is the critical point) using it in the manner of the left, you muddy the meaning of what you have said. You cut yourself off from more than a millennium of English tradition, thus not only failing to conserve it but actually advancing the project of the left to destroy that tradition and control the thoughts of generations to come through the control of the language in which their thoughts are driven and.

        QED. You are clearly heading leftwards.
        However: ‘is transitioning’ does not necessarily equate to ‘has transitioned’.
        There is still time… 🙂

    • QED. You are clearly heading leftwards.
      However: ‘is transitioning’ does not necessarily equate to ‘has transitioned’.
      There is still time.

      Brian, thanks. I appreciate that you haven’t, as yet, given up on me. Although I remain confused as to how you discern that I am “clearly heading leftwards” based on the scanty evidence of the fact you cite. It seems to me that one would need a lot more evidence of the fact to make such a claim or accusation against another one hardly knows, but that’s just me. I will definitely take your advice into account, nevertheless.

  3. Pingback: Boiled Frogs and Beanstalks | Reaction Times

  4. It might be, JM, that the Left has stopped boiling its enemies in a pot slowly and has begun to sautee them in a hot skillet swiftly. That would make a big difference to the whom of the who. Now in Louisiana, my Bertonneau relatives sautee the frog, in butter, lemon, and pepper. (No one would think of boiling him.) What about you Texans? How do you prepare your frogs?

    Votre ami créole, Le “Frog,” Thomas-Félix.

  5. It seems to me that two types of response is occurring to the progressive decadence which steadily builds in North America. The first is the alt right which is to small at this time to seriously challenge leftists. And in any case it seems to be inherently pagan and thus outside the christian theism of traditional folkways. Not, that it would be bad to see them knock some S.J.W. heads. Instead of a populist revolt the tradition will increasingly enact the Benedict Option. In Spain there was the Falange (organized fascism) and the Carlists (organized traditionalism) and the army led the resistance. None of those groups will do that here. The scenario of the old novel and movie “Seven Days In May” will not happen here. And it is just as well that it does not. God does not desire the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his wicked ways and live.

  6. Yes, a good article. If I may add my own allegory: the human rights god morphed into a beetle-faced, pregnant hermaphrodite: white men failed to notice and still worship this god in the form of Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson.

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