Exalted if you do, exalted if you don’t. Am I right?
No. God. Obviously.
To be exalted is to be rarified and exceptional. Subject of acclaim and regard. It is be elevated, to be inside the castle walls.
How many among us can claim to be that, to have that? None.
We are the damned. All of us.
The damned are the relegated and the cast down. The damned are the excluded and the cast aside.
Where once exaltation meant proximity to God, now, in this secular world it is proximity – or more precisely access to – money that renders us exalted; money that confers exaltation.
It is money that fortifies the castle walls; money that makes the punji sticks lining the trenches around the castle; money-gators that patrol the moats.
I cannot have inherited a position of exaltation in this world. I arrived into a family of slender means. And when I grew, I went into the arts, thereby taking an ironclad vow of poverty.
My efforts in the intervening years – acquiring skills I could sell; burnishing my credit; taking a wife; purchasing vehicles and a lawn maintenance tools; acting generally with a measure of prudence and responsibility – these efforts have proved fruitless.
The pit of poverty into which I was born has grown only more steep and shear and unforgiving.
My efforts to commandeer a spare little sliver of The Dream have come to nothing. The house we bought – a modest little thing, far from the castle walls – is a sinkhole. The wealth we aimed to build – not real wealth, not the kind of wealth that would even draw the notice of those in the castle – is reduced to ash. This shell game of the exalted has rooked us, as it always seems to.
I received this letter from within the walls of the castle, which reads in part:
As you may have read or heard, Residential Capital, LLC (ResCap), recently announced that it and its subsidiaries, including GMAC Mortgage, are restructuring under Chapter 11. Although you may not be familiar with our name, ResCap is the parent company of GMAC Mortgage, which services your mortgage.
…The restructuring of ResCap and GMAC Mortgage does not change your obligations as a mortgage borrower. As such, you must continue to make your scheduled mortgage payments on time and in full to the address listed on your monthly account statement.
This last in bold.
This is a cherished tactic of The Exalted.
Since The Exalted put their anthrax torpedo up the ass of the world economy, the phrase “work hard and play by the rules” has entered the lexicon with a persistence unrivaled by any since the emergence of the phrases “sex tape” and “throw under the bus”. It is the tagline of the damned. The damned are the saps, the suckers who’ve held up the whole house of cards for the past few centuries. We suit up and hit the field and take our bruises and keep playing. By the rules.
Not so The Exalted. If you’re inside the castle and the game’s not going your way, you burn the rulebook and decry it as an enemy of the free market. You burn the rulebook and execute all your opponents. And, as you stand in the acres of the slain, you pin the remaining damned with your orangey eyes and you excoriate the fallen for the idiotic temerity they showed for having stepped onto the field in the first place.
Then you plant a single sapling among the corpses and lead the quaking damned who ring the arena in a chant extolling your virtues as a champion of peace. And, to ensure ongoing compliance, you pluck a baby at random from the crowd and you eat it in full view of the trembling and grubby crowd. When the baby’s mother screams reflexively, you grab her by the ankles and beat her on a rock like river-washed laundry, as you defy the damned to stop chanting your praises.
And when you grow weary in the arena – when your soft-fingered hands ache and you wish to return to the castle – you command the damned to lift you on their bowed shoulders and carry you across the drawbridge. And they better hustle back across because that thing is going back up, and if they slide into the moat to provide an extra meal for the money gators, it is their own failing. Pick up your feet, you lazy fuckers.
The Exalted are the fixers and the deck-stackers; the chiselers and the cheats. They are the house that always wins. The Exalted own the refs and the stadium and they’ll charge you seven dollars for a hot dog. They’ll soak you for parking and skin you on convenience charges. If you make noise, they’ll throw you in the drunk tank. When you launch a website called “crushTheExalted.com” they sell you the domain name, and you lease their bandwidth, and you store your data on their cloud. If you take to the streets, you gotta get your permits from them and the cops on their payroll will corral you along the route they approve. And later that day, their TV coverage of your protest will be snide and dismissive.
“So why bother?” you might be asking. “Their victory is assured. Why would you even squander your limited resources on this futility? Why put your bloody face print on this brick wall? Why punch your knuckles into fucking porridge? What’s wrong with you?”
Simple. It’s not the fallacy of ascribing to the damned a frail nobility that isn’t there. It’s not the misguided romance of throwing in with the doomed. It’s not the false hope of revenge.
It’s an allegiance – perhaps a vestigial one only – to humanity.
Because, as Dr. Cornel West tweeted earlier today:
“There's nothing wrong with being successful, with money or power. The question is -- is it connected to something bigger than you?”