Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bugs to the Rescue

Ha! I say. And also, Bah! And to whom do I direct such a double-barreled expectoration? How about all the people with worthless degrees like sociology and social psychology and psychology? For that matter, exactly how many degrees are actually worth anything? And what is the worth of people like (ack) Dr. Phil and (ack, gack) Oprah? Who really needs them to tell you how to run your life? You're better off watching the imitable, inestimable and probably ineffable Bugs Bunny! Cartoons over college!

You are confused? I will unconfuse your confusiment, after which things will be as crystalline-clear as a pool of water in a cave (and if you haven't seen how eerily clear a pool is in a cave, you are truly missing something. But I digress.).

Bugs belongs to the ancient archetype known as the Trickster. American culture has always been hesitant to embrace the Trickster because of his moral ambiguity. Most people today don't know much about him, courtesy of the public schools. Ah, shoot, most people don't know anything about mythology, also courtesy of the public schools (if I say "Luke, I am your father," everyone knows that quote. But how many know it is an example of the myth known as the Search for the Father?).

I find the Trickster the most interesting of the mythological archetypes, mostly because he is a snot. He's stupid and smart; creative and destructive, foolish and wise, good and evil. In a society like ours that likes to split things into either one or the other, and actually thinks there are solutions to all problems, it's hard for many to tolerate a character with such grey in him.

Throughout history several animals have symbolized the Trickster, but the most common one has been the rabbit. The best example generated by popular American culture over the last 60 years? Bugs, of course.

At the risk of simplifying things too much, I will also split the Trickster into a good one and a bad one. The biggest difference? The good Trickster uses persuasion; the bad Trickster uses force. This difference fits neatly into libertarian theory.

Bugs is an example of a good Trickster. He doesn't really use violence. He outsmarts his opponents, whether they are the psychopathic Marvin the Martian, the hyperactive obsessive-compulsive Tasmanian Devil, the paranoid and hysterical Daffy Duck, or the psychotic Yosemite Sam.

Because Bugs values brains over brawn, he is a libertarian hero! He fully understands some people are not only crazy, but can't be changed. This makes him a true conservative. He doesn't hate anyone, but instead actually seems to like everyone. He appears to understand that such feelings as hate, rage and envy hurt the ones who feel them just as much as those the feelings are directed at. A wise rabbit he is, one worthy of emulation.

Bugs is fearless. He is unflappable. He is always optimistic. He is never disturbed by anything. He is in the world, but not of it. Who needs Mickey Mouse when you have Bugs as a role model?

It is from Bugs that I understood what "turn the other cheek really means." It takes two to have a fight. Bugs never falls into anyone's trap. They want to fight; he doesn't. He outsmarts them. He "turns the other cheek." Yet, he always wins. He is the creative, wise, smart, good aspect of the Trickster.

Unfortunately, what is left is the destructive, foolish, stupid, not-so-good aspect of the Trickster. In Western culture, there are two Bad Guys who fit the worst aspects of the Trickster. The first is the serpent in the Garden of Eden; the second is Satan.

Both are motivated by envy and hate. Often, people motivated by such feelings show them indirectly. A perfect movie about this? Try Amadeus, in which the envious and hate-filled Salieri tricks Mozart to his death.

Want some more examples of the destructive Trickster? How about the Lincoln administration tricking Southerners into firing on Fort Sumter? Now that would have been a perfect time to turn the other cheek. "No, no, we're not going to fire on the're trying to start a fight...we're not going to fall into the trap."

More examples of the destructive Trickster? The Wilson administration loading the Lusitania with munitions. The Germans were dumb enough to fall into the trap and sink the ship. The end result? American troops in World War I. How about the Roosevelt administration continually baiting the Japanese into attacking the US, which happened at Pearl Harbor? The end result of that? American troops in World War II.

How about Hitler claiming Poland attacked Germany? The German people fell for the trick. How about the US claiming North Vietnam attacked American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin? Congress and the American people were tricked into a war that killed about 58,000 Americans and over a million Vietnamese, all for nothing.

How about the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon? It was a trick, a trap set for the US to fall into. And the administration fell right into it. It's a Bizarro World version of Bugs where the rabbit has turned evil and tricked Marvin into turning his disintegrator ray on himself.

Some more examples of destructive Tricksters? The neocons. They have tricked poor, dull-witted Dubya into starting World War III.

Bugs would see through all these traps, and not fall into them. He'd outsmart them. He'd see what they are up to: violence, death, destruction. He sees things clearly: when people are crazy, murderous, thieving and destructive, he says, "Nah, I'm not falling into your trap. You're not going to make me like you."

The creative and wise Trickster, who uses persuasion, is on the side of Good. The destructive and foolish Trickster, who uses unnecessary force and violence, is on the side of Evil.

We need more good Tricksters in the world, people who are "as wise as serpents and harmless as doves." We need more people who understand Bugs. If more did, the Marvin the Martians of the world wouldn't be able to cause as much trouble as they do.

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