Monday, August 16, 2021

All is Lost (Maybe)


In his seminal book on screenwriting, Save the Cat, Blake Snyder posits that near the end of a good script, the protagonist should arrive at a moment where all seems lost. Our hero’s ambitions are not only dashed, but he is worse off now than when the movie started.

Ideally, per Snyder, this is followed by a dark night of the soul, during which the hero must face up to his failures. Suddenly, help arrives, often in the form of friends the protagonist made or something he learned earlier in the film, leading to a triumphant and satisfying finale.

Snyder cites examples as eclectic as Star Wars, Elf, Miss Congeniality and “Christ on the cross” to illustrate the power of that penultimate moment when death and darkness are all around.

For me, as for most educated people, the ideal cinematic All is Lost instance comes when Daniel LaRusso is THIS close to forfeiting the All Valley Karate Championship but convinces Mr. Miyagi to do that clap-hands healing move on his leg, then remembers the crane technique he had seen him practicing on the beach. The science is settled.

Many have supposed that what we are living through feels like a movie, or perhaps a Black Mirror episode, as it is so bleak and unreal. Whether or not the Lizard People are huddled in some writers’ workshop in Davos, typing out our future with their tongues and tails, those of us who value freedom could be forgiven for believing that, at this moment, All is indeed Lost.

As I type (with fingers), governments and corporations the world over are imposing barriers to travel, employment, commerce, and daily life. The ostensible purpose of these infringements is to force people to accept injections, and then carry physical and digital proof that they have done so.

To anyone capable of seeing more than one move ahead, it is the second part of that proposition that is most troubling. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the contents of these syringes are the best possible thing one could have coursing through one’s veins. Let us further suppose that the disease they are meant to mitigate makes smallpox look like a Plantar Wart.

This remedy – if one can call it that – will render every human being traceable, trackable, and permitted to function only at the sufferance of official authority. Moreover, as with all Covid measures nowadays, no sunset date or endgame is mentioned or contemplated. “15 Days to Flatten the Curve” sounds as anachronistic and truthful as “Remember the Maine!”

I maintain a Facebook account largely for purposes of anthropological study. It allows me to observe the meanderings of the dimmest people from my past, many of whom I forgot I knew. Without exception, they are whole hog for this idea, describing anyone who differs or seeks delay in the vilest possible terms, without stooping to consider what reasons we may have.

An especially gobsmacking recent example is a photo of those old, yellow vaccination cards we had for school, captioned with, “You’ve had a Vaccine Passport your whole life, so what’s the big deal?”

Now, my cohort and I are half a century into this material experience. Even the most meticulous hoarders among us would be hard-pressed to put their hands on that old thing. But that is hardly the point, is it? That document was a record of decades-old inoculations against deadly and crippling diseases, required for admission to a few, specific places (public school, summer camp, etc.).

What is now being proposed is a comprehensive, inescapable, digital monitor that tracks your every move, and is a requirement for the essentials of daily life. So yes, I suppose I did have a yellow card at some point, but I did not need to carry it as a condition of buying food or leaving my home.

My acquaintances championing this have never known privation in the least degree and so they see freedom as some right-wing fetish. They do not know it is the air they breathe but, like oxygen, they will miss it right quick.

Again, the problem is not a scientific disagreement. They aver that everyone should accept these injections – and maybe that is true, or maybe not – but the means they advocate are both worse and larger than the proximate threat itself. They are so blinded by their will to power that they cannot, or will not, contemplate the consequences.

So as this prison is erected around us, applauded with rancid enthusiasm by the dribbling idiots we have known, is All truly Lost?

I think not.

For one thing, the government and corporate overlords mandating this madness are not behaving as though they are winning. They seem panicked. Their worry is not over the disease (is there anyone remaining whose primary fear is Covid itself?), but they are in a race against time.

I believe official vaccination numbers about as much as I believe that pipe burst in Atlanta. Even so, as noted, there are many people eager to be injected and recorded and monitored. But a significant minority, or more, of free-born populations are and will remain unwilling to be jabbed. Even among those who are willing, or have been, many see through to the problem I am describing. In Italy, for example, many citizens have burned their vaccination passes in solidarity with the freedom-minded.

Doubtless, the top people pushing this have held dreadful meetings, possibly by Zoom, peopled by hollow-chested men in problem glasses, insisting they must advance this agenda “as one” (they always uphold uniformity as a virtue). If havens are allowed to exist – businesses or jurisdictions that do not require the tracking of human activity – the scheme perishes.

It is often noted that if these injections were so splendid, there would be no need to threaten and cajole. Similarly, if their goodness were self-evident, and towering majorities of populations were on board, as official numbers suggest, there would be no need to race toward totalitarianism at ludicrous speed.

Further, they really don’t understand us at all. By “us,” I mean not only freedom-loving people, but humans generally. Everything they are proposing, from the perpetual wearing of masks to scheduled injections, digitally policed, is so unnatural that it can only be imposed by overwhelming and sustained force. Now, overwhelming and sustained force is just about their favorite thing, but even they can’t keep it up forever.

We can outlast them. This will be easier for some than for others, as they continue to foreclose aspects of normal life to the non-compliant. I am not the most advanced prepper-survivalist in the world but, as Cliff Clavin once advised, I do keep an inflatable raft and a couple cans of tuna fish in the trunk of my car. Your move, jackwagons.

So, what have we learned, and what friends have we made, such that we may endure this All is Lost moment, through the dark teatime of the soul, and arrive at ultimate victory?

Significantly, we have seen that everything they tell us is untrue. This applies to mortality and vaccination rates, therapies and, most important, the bargains they offer to buy back our freedom.

You may wish to advise the zealous converts in your orbit who announce they are “fully vaxxed” that they are nothing of the kind. With third and fourth boosters already forthcoming, to be mandated as a condition of participation in society, they will discover, to their sorrow, that there is no such thing as “fully vaxxed” in this world and we all fall short of the grace of Fauci.

We have further learned, as alluded to above, that they cannot accommodate or understand non-conformity. To them, freedom is just another word for racist. Ridicule, in particular, scrambles their circuits, and we must up our mockery game. This one is easy for me; as a born smart-alec with no friends, I have plenty to say and nothing to lose.

Beyond wise-ass remarks and scalding prose, I have wondered what I can offer to this struggle. If it is a war, where is my unit and how will I look in the uniform? For now, I think the strongest move is simply to remain firm, to hold out, to say no. The way they are behaving now ought not to be rewarded with compliance.

All the frantic energy is being expended on their side. Let them punch themselves out like Clubber Lang, and then we’ll see where we are.

Then there are the friends we’ve met along the way, who help us to overcome. All over the world, people are finding each other, seeing the truth, and giving one another the courage to stay strong.

Despite the best efforts of Zuckerberg, @Jack, and the gargoyles at Google, people are coming together, sharing their stories, and letting others know they are not alone. The ongoing protests across Europe, hundreds of thousands strong, are just one example. More of this, please.

Taken together, all that we have learned and those we have befriended make for a potent combination. As Mr. Miyagi presaged before Daniel-san delivered the kick to the face that changed history: “If do right, no can defense.”

Theo Caldwell just wanted to be left alone. Contact him at