Alexander Hellene

What Walks on Six Legs?

While he may carry himself with an air of intellectual and moral superiority, the bugman has stopped asking the big questions. He can distantly recall the sense of awe he felt as a child, those times looking up at the stars and the moon; those times reflecting on his ancestry, where he came from, the history and traditions of mankind and the wild beauty of Earth. Now his mind is so distracted by pixelated inanity, trash culture and his ridiculous job that he cannot, for the love of God, simply sit and think.

Adam Winfield

To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts–such is the duty of the artist.

Robert Schumann

*     *     *

I wake up from another night of staying up too late doing things that are not good form me a little to late to get a proper start to the day. Sleepy from consuming content, I am now sleepily consuming something potable, a caffeine-delivery mechanism, and maybe something edible, albeit quick and processed, if I eat anything at all. Quick rush, time is a blur. Blue screen of death has become the blue screen of life, the blue screen of paycheck. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Crack my knuckles, tun the computer on, so being another day of shuffling the digital files. Did I remember to pray last night? I did, before I fell asleep. Why do we save God for the end of the day? Surely I could use him here at the beginning. Tucked into my hive. Not noticing that my fingers have turned claws, my extra set of legs, the mandibles growing out of my neck.

*     *     *

If you’ve spent any time perusing the world of dissident politics, I’m sure you’ve come across the idea of a “small-souled bugman.” It’s a little bit of a catch-all term for the sort of consumerist-driven mindset among people that we like to imagine populate the ranks of what we view the movement that has been destroying everything good, noble, holy and vital about Western civilization for the past few generations.

You can blame capitalism and materialism, and indeed you should. The desire to endlessly economically expand and shove product down the throats of consumers on a never-ending cycle of holiday booms and slow-season busts has created the caricature of the overgrown, patchy bearded man-child who squeals in a manner that’s cute when your six-year-old does it when they get a video game system for Christmas, but not so much when you’re thirty-five. The sort of person who lives and dies by every new Marvel/Star Wars/Amazon/Netflix release, binging prestige TV and stuffing their face with processed and unhealthy. Who hates and sneers at and openly wishes for the deaths of those who don’t have the same politics and personal beliefs, all the while parading around with the unearned moral superiority of being the most virtuous human being on the planet.  

You know the memes. Soyjak. NPC. TvRace.

Whether they’re fair and accurate right down to the very last detail isn’t quite as important as the fact that they’re accurate enough. The overall impression is a member of a society where everything that had one given people a connection to the past and the desire to achieve great things in the future, planning and building and doing, is gone, stripped away from birth, sacrificed to the dark god of economic progress (for whom?) and material comfort. Because the worst thing a man can face, after all, is the prospect of hard work. The prospect of failure. We have achieved that kinder, gentler society where all you have to do to live a good, safe life is to stay indoors and consume.  

And don’t lift weights. Ever. Fitness is fascist, you know.

A consequence of a perilously overpopulated, brutally capitalistic, shamelessly hedonistic, morally decaying society, the humble bugman has come to define an age of technological dystopia in which everyone has everything — their gadgets, their fast foods, their fashion accessories — but somehow everyone also has nothing — no community, no natural spirit, no substance of mind. He is a zombified consumer, an emasculated wage slave, a vessel emptied of meaning and refilled with plastic, pixels and silicone.

Adam Winfield

*     *     *

It’s always a little odd for me to rag on the “rootless urban cosmopolitan overeducated bugman” because I am a rootless urban cosmopolitan overeducated bugman.

Sorry, friends, but these are my people. I’m not in the upper-echelons of the elite upper-class, but dig these signifiers:

  • Son of a physician
  • Born and raised in the northeastern United States
  • Comfortable, relatively coddled upbringing
  • Went to college, graduate school, and law school
  • Lived in a big cosmopolitan American city
  • Have an email job

The deliberate draining of purpose and passion from the bugman’s soul made it easy to assign him without complaint to a vapid, good-boy ‘job’ and a ‘career’ that does little but prop up the demented corporatist structure. He is a willing cog in the grinding bullshit machine — a marketer, an analyst, a ‘project manager’ — or has perhaps handed his life over to preserving the insanity of the state by becoming a lawyer or a bureaucrat. Worse yet, he gobbled up the STEM dream sold by grubby toy merchants, dooming himself to an existence of zeroes and ones. Zero purpose. One sad bugman.

Adam Winfield

I am indeed one sad bugman. Because I don’t want to be a bugman.

There, but for the grace of God, I would be one for good. I find myself able to turn back into an actual human being when things get too insectoid for my liking. The best way to do this is through the transcendent. And we get that through two primary ways: religion and art.

Art that points to the transcendent is a way to escape the trap of transitory materialism the modern world of Our Democracy wants to stuff you in. In bugworld, you’re either a skittering insect at the top, or you’re one of the unwashed, mostly pale masses worthy of only contempt. The bugs becoming the exterminators. It’s a very disturbing phenomenon that we all need to be aware of yet we turn into writing creatures with no higher purpose.

When I say that art is necessary to keep the soul from shriveling and the horizons of the mind from being stuck on ephemera, I mean both making art and partaking in art. The partaking in—not consuming—might be the more important of the two.

When you look at a beautiful building that is more than just people storage, but embodies proper proportion, beauty, and true artistic grace, you feel something stir in your core. When you hear a piece of music that makes your heart swell in a way you can’t explain, you can almost touch what it’s getting at although it keeps moving just far enough away to remain forever out of reach. But you never stop reaching.

You get this vague sense, like a tingling under your skin, that what you’re sensing is a glimpse into another world, the world where everything makes sense, where perfection has been attained, and you were lucky enough to find a tiny crack in the façade of our fallen, observable reality and sneak a peek at the beauty on the other side. And that beauty bathes our day-to-day existence just enough for it to look a little nicer than it had before.

This is inspiring, because it lets you know that you can get there again. That there’s something more than the toil of the physical labor or, in modern-day American, the email job. Slowly, your mandibles recede, that extra set of legs turns into dust and simply vanishes, you stop speaking in meaningless clicks and spreadsheet-language, and the world is that much more beautiful.  

Suddenly, you understand that everybody has worth. That other people exist and they, too, matter. That you understand the meaning of it all, even if it’s a fraction of an iota that still appears fuzzy around the edges. This is good! This means it’s working! It means that you’re one step closer to the capital-T Truth of it all.

And you’re going to start thinking for yourself. And start doing things. Things that might not help add to the GDP but will add to the edification of your very being.

I think this is why we’re pushed into the bugman cycle of consumption. It’s the Roman idea of bread and circuses but in every facet of society. A people with no commonality, no roots, is loyal not to God or to family or to nation, but to the state and the institution of its ruling regime. The degree to which you treat the decrees of various Federal agencies with the reverence of holy writ is a symbol of your loyalty.

No. Reject that. Reject the idea that this is all there is and you should never strive for more. Be okay with missing out on the latest thing, with being blissfully unaware of BRAND, without having a Very Strong Reaction about the Latest Current Thing, and with partaking in art that feeds your soul. You deserve better, and so does everybody around you.

I need this. We need this.

– Alexander


The Final Home campaign is 150% funded! 50% more and we’re at the omnibus edition of The Swordbringer. Back and spread the word and let’s help bring a little more art into the world.

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