Man's rational life consists in those moments in which reflection not only occurs but proves efficacious. Santayana
Last week's post generated a mountain of discussion — pro and con — mostly via e-mail. Many correspondents asked us to explain the basis for our daring hypothesis. Were the Readers just guessing? Do we have an inside track? What evidence is there for the predicted unraveling of Tradistan? Did some sociological construct or theological proposition nudge us to our conclusion? Were we smoking something other than a splendid H. Upmann Magnum 50?
With so many e-mailers curious about the reasoning behind the post, PL decided to devote this week's edition to an explanation of our rationale. Right up front, we'll tell you there's nothing arcane or mysterious. No logic-chopping theories. No crystal balls. No fifth column inside the élite sect compound. No flies on grimy cult walls. We did nothing more than contemplate basic consumer behavior.
Maybe a concrete example will make it clear.
Suppose that, for some unknown reason, the best-selling toothpaste in the U.S. suddenly became unavailable. Let's also postulate that, owing to relentless marketing over several generations, this brand far outsold any other, so much so, in fact, that it alone was associated in consumers' minds with dentist-delighting oral hygiene and dazzling pearly whites.
What would happen?
Would the next-best-selling competitor then occupy the number-one slot?
Market mavens say no.
Oh, for sure, there might be an initial uptick in sales, but #2 wouldn't immediately take over the old marque's dominance in shoppers' psyches. Consumers would still consider the no-longer-available product as the gold standard. In their minds, #2 wouldn't be much better than a consolation prize, so naturally they wouldn't automatically transfer their brand loyalty to a commodity their shopping habits voted second rate.
At the same time, the competition, capitalizing on the opportunity open to them, would redouble marketing efforts to capture American housewives' allegiance and toothpaste dollars. But before one of the other manufacturers could secure the top spot, years, perhaps decades, would have to pass, and many millions in advertising dollars would have to be spent.
According to our analysis, this is the condition of Trad Nation U.S.A. today, as the about-to-be extinct Tradisaurus Rex Quondam (now "The Lowly Worm") slithers out of the Boy "Bishop's" way. The Donster used to be the biggest brand name in the woefully unregulated world of traditional Catholicism. (True, if he were a dentifrice, he'd've been pulled off the shelves years ago, but, then, Sedelandia is no rational marketplace.) It took years of self-promotion and fawning hype, but the Flushing Rat, little-by-little, managed to make a lot of cult zombies mistake a pisher for a mensch.
As "The Man," Sin-burn was also Sedelandia's one and only public intellectual, a title he'd earned by (a) writing self-promotional newsletters, (b) ranting and raving to anyone who'd sit still long enough to hear him out, (c) noisily debating straw opponents, and (d) snagging ego-centric interviews. His prose was annoyingly lumbering, his podium persona nasally bristling, but amid all the sophomoric posturing, he managed to be, on a few occasions, almost thought-provoking (until you unpacked what he wrote, that is).
No contender for the vacant see of Tradistan can make that claim, in particular his "eventual successor," as Dannie calls the Boy "Bishop"-Elect. Where is Junior's œuvre? Who outside the Swampland élite thinks of the Kid as Trad Nation's chief theoretician? In a similar vein, who regards "One Hand" or Pivvy or the skittish Long-Island Jellyfish as a "scholar bishop" or learned advocate of the sede hunch?
Besides lacking the mental chops to assume Don's rôle, none of the sede hopefuls has the time or the cash to project onto folks' minds the image of a Tradzilla redux. Each already has his identity fixed in the lay imagination, and, believe you us, it is not the image of a profound thinker or theological prodigy. Pussbucket, sacrament-denying "priests" who can't understand Latin neither whisper their names in awe nor play tinny recordings of their babbling in lieu of a Sunday sermon. To arrive at that standing, the wannabes would need decades in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a targeted marketing campaign. How could "One Hand," for instance, who last week again reported a picayune collection of less than $4K — $3,422 to be exact — afford it?
He couldn't. And neither could the others. (A good thing, too, because nowadays none but the utterly brain-dead degenerate would fall for it.)
All this explains why PL insists there'll be no single central figure in Trad Nation for generations to come, if ever. The yawning void, however, will permit a fresh class of "bishops" to step up to the plate to provide access to the sacraments without all the soul-killing infighting. With real degrees, multiple valid lineages, and an insider's knowledge of "The System," each one will offer a haven to moral Catholics anxious to escape the depraved lay trash who support — in Carl Hiaason's strikingly apropos phrase — "submaggots unfit to suck the sludge off a septic tank."
As the depleted ranks of cultlings turn inward on themselves at Big Don's exit, it's time to brusha, brusha, brush away the "clerical" plaque of the past.