Reflections on Fear

Indignant cowards,
Clinging to endless non-life,
Immortal hiding

“Delta Variant Artist,” aka Man.–

A gleefully nasty headline from Mediaite informs me that, “Eric Clapton Brutally Mocked for His Latest Anti-Vax Rallying Cry: ‘Transitioned from Delta Blues Artist to Delta Variant Artist.’” 

So one of the oldest living icons of popular music, a man with admirers spanning at least three generations, a guitarist whose fans used to scrawl “Clapton is God” as graffiti without anyone even laughing at them, and a man probably personally responsible for more young people taking up the guitar (to the aural world’s detriment, frankly) than almost anyone else in modern music, is now reduced to an object of “brutal mockery” because he dares not to recite the official catechism of the major pharmaceutical conglomerates and their global administrative state lackeys regarding vaccines that are being administered by force or near-force around the world, in spite of their still being, in principle, experimental drugs whose long-term side effects will not be known for some time. 

As with most people who lower themselves to “brutal mockery” of men who have more accomplishments, courage, and dignity than they, the mockers have exposed themselves to the very ironic laughter they purport to be throwing at Mr. Clapton. “Delta Variant Artist” is not very funny — but it is very apt for the situation, in Clapton’s favor. For one of the great shames of the current mad rush to sell off and administer every last dose of the currently available vaccines, to the great profit of the drug companies and the great power grab of the authorities, is that we are now learning, more clearly by the day, that these vaccines are not very effective against the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is the variant responsible for the recent “surge” in cases worldwide. In other words, a fatal flaw of the current vaccine push may already have been exposed, even while we are all supposed to be laughing at Eric Clapton’s vaccine skepticism. 

But in the end, this is not even about agreeing or disagreeing with Clapton on the usefulness of the vaccines per se. In such a fluid situation, everyone is free to form his own opinion, and to object to alternative opinions — as long as this debate is carried out in an atmosphere of respect for one another’s freedom of thought and expression. But that respect is exactly what we — but particularly those on the power players’ side — have forsaken.

What this “mocking” of the skeptics is really about is the rejection of all rationality, all civility, all willingness to admit the extent of what we do not know about the current pandemic situation, in the name of…in the name of toeing the party line, saying what the ruling establishment wants us to say, believing what global capitalist power players and global government dreamers wish us to believe, without applying five seconds or five brain cells of independent thought to the facts as they reveal themselves. 

The status quo types are straining their minds to force a laugh at the “Delta Variant Artist.” For my part, I have never liked or respected Eric Clapton more than I do these days, and the reason has less to do with my judgment of his opinions about vaccination than with my admiration for his dignity and intransigence amidst today’s mob mockery mentality.

One of several Twilight Zone episodes that has left an indelible mark in my mind is “Perchance to Dream,” about a man who visits a psychiatrist to explain a recurring, or rather continuing, dream in which an enticing woman seems to be trying to draw him into increasingly frightening situations, apparently in an effort to drive his weak heart over the edge. The man has become convinced that he will die the next time he falls asleep, as his dream temptress leads him into a situation too terrifying to survive.

I have frequently pondered this episode’s unstated premise, namely that a man might literally be frightened to death by the products of his own imagination. It is certainly possible, I have always assumed, granted that his physical health be genuinely challenged, the imagined doom realistic enough — like a deeply immersive nightmare — and the man’s own soul sufficiently primed to be susceptible to the subjective sense of complete helplessness or inescapability. In such conditions, I believe it absolutely plausible that a man’s spirit might give up the fight against the source of its fear so thoroughly that his body’s natural mechanisms of resilience and self-correction could become compromised.

In support of this, I suggest that many, if not most, cases of what we call “natural death” are partly (at least in their particular timing) the result of a similar mind-body mechanism of “giving up the ghost,” as we say, i.e., of deciding not to hold out any longer. Anyone who has spent time with an elderly person on his death bed, especially during his final days or hours of life, has likely observed this process. Death, when it occurs as the end of a process of gradual weakening, seems to arrive partly through the soul’s active effort to let go. It is quite reasonable, then, to speculate that humans could also undergo this process of letting go under imposed psychological strain, just as surely as they do under the more common vectors of natural end-of-life resignation. Indeed, it should be possible, in principle, to determine whether this is so, by way of experiment.

The experiment would have to be conducted along the following lines.

Exhaust the willpower of a population with continuous, relentlessly oppressive fear-mongering about a virus that in fact causes mild or no symptoms in most who become infected. Then treat those who do visit the hospital suffering with significant symptoms as emergency cases of a fatal disease: Strap them on their backs; sedate them and hook them up to machines that control breathing, thereby taking away much of their physical capacity to fight congestion and struggle for breath naturally; surround them entirely with strangers in hazmat suits, denying them even the reassuring presence (let alone the round-the-clock emotional support) of familiar faces and loved ones; and do all of this, again, against an emotional context of endless propaganda certifying for the sick and anxious that their illness is a case of the most cataclysmic, world-altering medical event in history.

As a practical matter in conducting this experiment, it might also be useful to act self-righteously concerned and saddened when some of the subjects — particularly those with temperaments prone to anxiety, excessive fear, or the hopelessness of depression — choose, in a desperate attempt to escape the psychologically imposed nightmare of their situation, to give up the fight, to let go.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” As the human race has more than amply proved in recent times, Roosevelt’s warning was exactly correct — though not exactly in the sense that he intended.

For Roosevelt meant that men’s fear of paternalistic government and socialist legislation was the only thing preventing them from escaping economic depression, whereas in truth, as we may now say with certainty, it is precisely those excessive and irrational fears that drive men into the inescapable and suffocating embrace of paternalistic government that we ought to fear most. The ease, for example, with which a republic founded on such spiritual premises as “Give me liberty or give me death” has now succumbed, with barely a moment’s hesitation, to an undignified collective scream of “Please save our lives, to hell with liberty!” is as clear a proof of the true nature of the fear that ought to be feared as one could ever witness.

The habituated and universal reliance on government as the source of all security, the provider of all solutions, and the guardian of all moral premises — that is to say, cowardice elevated to a political theory — is indeed a psychological monster to be feared. The nightmare has come to life, and those few among us still trying to live awake are feeling increasingly surrounded, or rather submerged, by the world of the terrified sleepers.

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