Tuesday, March 13, 2012

REPOST: Larry, Curly, Moe:
An Eternal Golden Braid


A post from two three years ago.... strangely appropriate today.

I am a firm believer in the Stopped Clock Principle ("even a stopped clock is right twice a day"). By which is meant, of course, "Even people whose philosophy I despise may be right, even supremely right, about one particular issue."

Today I stumbled on a quote from someone whose philosophy I do indeed despise: the "Reverend Ivan Stang," a "brilliant satirist with a gift for promotion", as the Hacker's Dictionary defines him. A leading member of the so-called "Church of the Subgenius", he is notorious for brilliantly, hilariously, and quite maliciously dissing organized religion in general and Christianity in very focused particular.

The following is from his first book, entitled "High Weirdness by Mail: A Dictionary of the Fringe - Mad Prophets, Crackpots, Kooks, and True Visionaries", published in 1988.

This book belonged to Dave, my former housemate in the late 80s, when I lived at The Stenhouse, The Bachelor Toybox from Hell (a very happy but fortunately relatively brief time from which my wife and wedding day would eventually rescue me). I had long since lost the book, but never forgot the sentiment. However, observing my three little boys beating each other up at home this afternoon, I had a vision of the Stooges in action... which brought to mind this quote.

In this short discussion, Mr. Stang explains in rough outline the first step to true understanding: the existence of the spiritual pecking order among humans. This semi-comic essay was my first step into a longer term project: the discernment of the Spiritual Ladder, and an attempt to understand natural nobility as it manifests itself in our day.

Like I said: I can't abide him or his sniggering anti-Christianity. However, I do recognize his occasional ability to recognize truth and state it well, as here:

There are three kinds of people -- I call them Larrys, Curlys, and Moes. The Larrys don't even know that there are three types; if they're told, it's an abstraction, because they cannot imagine anything beyond Larry-ness. The Curlys know about it, and recognize the pecking order, but find ways of living with it cheerfully...for they are the imaginative, creative ones. The Moes not only know about it, but exploit and perpetuate it.

The naive, pleasant believers of all kinds are Larrys -- ineffectual, well-meaning do-gooders destined always to be victims, often without once guessing their status. Like sheep, they don't want to hear the unpleasant legends about "the slaughterhouse"; they trust the strange two-legged beings who feed them. The artists, unsung scientific geniuses, political writers, and earnest disciples of the stranger cults are Curlys -- engaging, original, accident-prone but full of life, intuitively aware of the Moe forces plotting against them and trying to fight back. They can never defeat the Moes, however, without BECOMING Moes, which is impossible for a true Curly.

The Moes, then, are the fanatics, the ranters, the cult gurus, the Uri Gellers AND the Debunkers; they are the Resistance Leaders and the Ruling Class Bankers. They hate each other, but only because they want to control ALL the Larrys and Curlys themselves. They don't actually enjoy their dominance; it's simply part of their nature. Nor are they less foolish for the fact that they make the decisions. They suffer a chronic paranoia that is unknown to their less demanding underlings. Larrys and Curlys die in wars started by rival Moes -- the Larrys willingly, the Curlys with great regret. Concepts like "Hell" and "Sin" were invented by Moes to keep Larrys in line; the Larrys in turn, being far more numerous, exert social pressures on the Curly minority to also obey...mainly so the Larrys won't feel like suckers.

The Moes also invent myths, like that of the "Grouchos, Harpos, Chicos, and Zeppos," to throw the more rebellious Curlys off their trail and keep them unsure of the real situations. (When the Curly's finally die of overwork, the Moes find that they cannot live in an all-Larry world; they select special Larry's and vainly try to mold them into False Curlys...but it isn't the same.)

I am a Moe, though not a particularly powerful one; that is why I know these things, and it is also why I dare to tell you -- for most of you will think it's just a funny joke. A few will know it is the truth, but will fight far harder against my Moe enemies than you will against me, a relatively harmless Moe. My fellow Moes -- enemies and uneasy SubGenius allies alike -- will know what I'm REALLY saying...


Ivan Stang. Smart man.

And it is in honor of this quote that I have always kept three little statuettes on my desk at work, near my image of St. Thomas More: one each of Larry, Curly, and Moe.

But he is, however, wrong. There are not three types of people, but seven (with infinite gradations within each type). Of which, more presently.

ADDENDUM:


A friend of mine objects to the "sin is invented" meme embedded above. Well, I don't buy it either. Stang probably stole it from Heinlein, who stole it from Nietzsche, who stole it from Rousseau. Doesn't make the rest of the insight untrue. (Alas, Moes may not have invented the concept of sin, but they have certainly and often exploited it to their own ends.)

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