“I will indulge my sorrows, and give way
To all the pangs and fury of despair.”
Joseph Addison, Cato (1712)
You may have seen that the conservative gadfly Mike Adams took his own life after being forced into early retirement, at the age of 55, by the University of North Carolina—Wilmington. I had forgotten about Adams, but his lampoons of the politically correct university were one of the first things I read on the internet. Adams was what I would call a right liberal, and I stopped reading his blog when his gags grew stale, but I was saddened by the news that he at last put a gun to his head.
Certain corners of the internet are buzzing with rumors of foul play, some cretinously asking how a man with a half-million-dollar severance package could do anything but dance away into retirement counting the bills. Others speak darkly of powerful interests who were quaking at the thought of Mike Adams with an internet connection and free time on his hands. This strikes me as nonsense. A half-million dollars means very little to a fighter who has been beaten; and no one quakes at the thought of damp squibs from a beaten man.
In all likelihood, Mike Adams died of despair.
As Cato’s son Marcus says in the lines of my epigram, despair alternates between “pangs” and “fury,” between a stabbing pain against which you have no defense, and an impotent rage that you can do nothing but be so stabbed.
“With woeful measure wan despair—
Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled;
A solemn, strange, and mingled air!
’Twas sad by fits, by starts ’twas wild.”*
Collins does well to liken despair to a musician, and his song to a funeral dirge interrupted by trills of wild frenzy.
* * * * *
I did not descend to the lower hell from which Mike Adams could only escape by suicide, but I did ride the bucking bronco of pangs and fury this past week. I was sad by fits and by starts was wild. The harpies got to Adams in the end, and one of them took a vicious snap at me.
Last week I received notice that an anonymous student felt threatened and harassed by words I have published here at the Orthosphere, and had therefore filed an official complaint of racial and sexual hate. Many people who have known me for decades immediately decided that this meant there was at least a fifty-fifty chance that I am a clandestine ogre who scrawls filthy words on these pages, who blurts crudities, spouts invectives, and skewers little kiddies on a spit so I can roast them over a cruel fire.
Long time readers may disagree, but I do not think I have done anything like that in these pages. I have sometimes voiced opinions foreign to the flapdoodle one hears fluted in a postmodern faculty lounge, and I have tried to do this with a degree of panache, brio and jolly jouissance, but I did not suppose that I sounded like a jeering oaf or vitupertive crank.
* * * * *
The complainant was too lazy to dig very deeply into my on-line corpus, but very quickly discovered damning proof that I am one of Satan’s spawn. He or she submitted as evidence of my vileness three answers I wrote to comments over the course of the past six weeks. These appear to have been selected because they contained voodoo words, the anodyne meaning of my answers perhaps obscured by the complainant’s poor reading comprehension. This complainant was not a critic who, after careful study, discovered a sinister undercurrent beneath my words, but was rather a postmodern prude, a malevolent Mrs. Grundy, a progressive philistine, an SJW.
Narrowminded bigotry is the telltale mark of the SJW. Narrowminded bigotry and hate. The SJW is not only trapped in a swirling Sargasso Sea of stagnant platitudes, but is also convinced that beyond the horizon of that sorry Sea there is nothing but its exact opposite and antithesis. SJWs are, for instance, stagnantly platitudinous about equality, and therefore hold the narrowminded and bigoted opinion that anyone who disagrees with what they say on the subject must necessarily be a proponent of slavery and genocide. SJWs are likewise stagnantly platitudinous about their love of people of different colors, and therefore hold the narrowminded and bigoted opinion that anyone who disagrees with what they say on the subject must burn with murderous hate whenever a person of contrasting color hoves into view. And this moronically Manichean worldview justifies the mean and bitter pinheads that we call SJWs in hating and harassing anyone who is not equally mean, equally bitter, and equally pinheaded.
You may feel that I have here at last abandoned restraint and begun to skewer a little kiddie on a spit, and to roast that little kiddie over a cruel fire with unbecoming glee. Perhaps you are right, but this particular kiddie is putting me through hell and is trying to stuff a sock in my mouth; and I don’t take at all kindly to that.
Neither did poor Mike Adams, until, at last, the little kiddies and horrible harpies drove him to stop his own mouth with something no man has the power to remove. A man can brave only so much fury; he cannot bear infinite pangs.
*) William Collins, “The Passions, An Ode” (1770)