The Ego Empire

By Eric Le Roy

"I want it all, I want it all,

I want it all, and I want it now." -- Queen

Content 18+ Well, there you have it. I suppose I should make myself clear by stating that I have little patience with this ‘wanting it all’ bullshit. It reeks of modern self-indulgence and ego mania. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say that one of the most pernicious germs that has long infested the homo sapien brain, one that over time has sprouted into something of a proper plague, is the Human EGO.

Back in the days when the American court said I had to start attending AA meetings because of a pair of one-after-the-other drunk driving convictions, I often heard EGO described as “Easing God Out.” In AA you hear a lot of stuff like that, and I am surprised how much of it has remained with me. (I still drink.) As for ‘God’, I won’t go there, but I will say this: In my various prowlings around the planet, I have gradually become appalled at the amount of self-worship I see and hear. And one of the really nice touches that contemporary culture bestows is the assurance that we need not in any way be ashamed of such self-appeasing gluttony. Whatever we wish to treat ourselves to, go for it because We Deserve It.

In fact, there is an American author named Suze Orman who wrote a best-seller called The Courage to Be Rich. Charming. The message is that being rich is not just an outcome based on lust, achieved as often by chicanery, blind luck, brutality, and ruthlessness as by any of the flip side virtues, but that it can even be seen as an act of courage – a form of dauntless bravery. I think I should write a book that I shall entitle The Wisdom to Be a Murderer. Or maybe The Virtue of Becoming a Dope Addict.

Orman, as an American capitalist, cannot be blamed for encouraging people to go out and make money. It is, after all, the American Dream. But what stinks about it – and this is also very American – is her little trick of trying to turn Avarice – slobbering, slavering Greed – into something to be admired, something we can feel good about and use to give ourselves yet another pat on the back. You see, in this ‘brave’ new world of social media, self-promotion, and self-marketing, being a complete Asshole is not necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, often it is a boost to your career aspirations. Countless DJs, political pundits, and people on the boob tube whose presence is justified by referring to them as ‘personalities’ manage to get their strokes (in terms of publicity) and even ‘go viral’ by behaving in ways that would have older generations running for the exits. All modern nations that allow public ‘entertainment’ are saturated with these kinds of people: vomitous cretins who have figured out a way to get attention at all costs.

It officially started with Andy Warhol’s ‘15 minutes of fame’ deal with the human race. You see, Andy – himself the ultimate hustler – saw clearly that in the coming times (from his now distant perspective) – there would be platforms every mean-spirited clown in the world could surmount, take a loud, grunting, sulfuric dump, soak up the well-deserved applause, and then check how many millions of viewers it attracted. Some of these cunning entrepreneurs are today’s super stars.

For, just as it takes ‘courage’ to be rich, it also takes ‘attitude’ (now a much-esteemed quality also) to get the point across that as long as one is getting paid and getting their ‘props’ , then there is no reason to give a shit WHAT anybody else thinks. They flog their nastiness and arrogance like currency and sure enough, the suckers out there run to exchange dollars, euros and whatever in order to smell the crisp perfume of this treasure trove. This is exactly why people like Madonna, Howard Stern, Conor McGregor, and Justin Bieber became SuperStars – they were smart enough to understand that what the world really wanted and needed was a set of accomplished, well-rehearsed, and utterly shameless Assholes With Swag.

After all, their boot-sniffing worshipers – a sweltering rabble with such low collective self-esteem (and justifiably so) actually comprises no less than a throng of parasitic masochists, right? It’s like ‘victims’ who pass from one abusive relationship right into another. No number of beatings is enough for these people. Or like the jailhouse guard said to us one day (yeah, I was there) “You guys must really like this place because you keep coming back!” It’s like the young woman who cried to her hustler-pimp: “Whip me, beat me, make me write bad checks!” And so he did.

Vince McMahon, the cutthroat guy who made an empire out of professional ‘wrestling’, understood the human race better than Martin Luther King; Don King, the Fight promoter, understood the people of the earth far better than Mahatma Gandhi. And Judas understood better than Jesus what the Romans and the Jews really wanted. It’s how we are. It’s how we evolved. We want what we want and we are prepared, in many cases, to do whatever it takes to get it. The small towns of the earth are chock-full of people like Josef Goebbels and Ivan the Terrible, but we just never used to hear about them because nobody cared to become a fly on their walls. Their tyranny unfolded in obscurity. That’s because, whatever loathsome vermin they really were, they were not exhibitionists.

Most of you probably never heard of The Jerry Springer Show. But he was one of many American TV hosts back in the day who specialized in getting totally dysfunctional people – even whole families – that hailed from places like Snot Vista, Louisiana and Genital Crabs, Indiana – and putting them in front of the TV camera in deliberately contrived, hostile and confrontational scenarios: Hillbilly brothers who had married the same fat cousin, battered lesbian lovers (one with bruises and a black eye, the other decked out in combat boots, skull-and-crossbone tattoos and a cowboy hat), and so on, often reaching a climax of everyone throwing punches and rolling around on the stage while security staff rushed in to break it up. Big ratings. Even better than the Soaps.

And nobody felt the slightest bit of shame. They had had their 15 minutes of fame.

But you know what? I remember watching a film where a very sad guy falls asleep in front of the TV and somehow the remote control gets wedged under his arm so that the channels keep switching, one after the other after the other. And what you see is a roller coaster-like assembly line of glimpses, endless clips of ‘entertainment’ and ‘entertainers’: an amped up slideshow of too merry and very manic mugs – like dolls, gargoyles, hobos, salesmen, holy men, ping pong players, yodellers, rock stars, politicians, soldiers, sitcom goofs, and futuristic warriors. And the strange thing IS that somehow it made me understand the sadness of the dozing man, until, next thing you know, I was sad too.

I had the lonely revelation of understanding, once and for all, the savage sorrow of the human race as it chases its neon shadows and digital images up and down the glittering and sordid alleys of the world, wanting, wanting, wanting it all….and wanting it now….

The terminal futility of the EGO of a pathological breed, bereft of direction, deity, or dignity – here on a plastic stage where the coarse enactments revolving around money, power, and sex – and the essentially vicious lust for them – seem to supersede all other concerns, certainly all vestiges of humility and decency, and leaves you with the desolate vision of someone beating a gentle animal to death for no reason.

It thus becomes a strange world where image supplants realty, the true inner motives of people become difficult to disentangle from their outer performances and, most distressingly, there comes to mind the notion of a race of beings who have grown to intensely dislike each other even amid the icy politeness that is part of the act for some and the riotous vulgarity that forms the basis of the act put on by the professional hellraisers. One way or another it’s all a phony make believe, all cosmetic self-promotion.

Look, people have always cheated and connived. People have always been less than what they wanted you to believe (though in fairness, some have been more). But in the past, I truly believe that when people who had reached for things they could not get finally killed themselves, they did it out of shame and the defeat of sometimes noble enterprises. Now, many suicides come from bullying and boredom and a presiding sense of emptiness and purposeless that probably the human race has never known before.

Why? Because now it seems that all immigrants on the soul’s highway are headed toward the Mecca of the Self. Because it’s Me, Myself, and I.

We don’t need each other anymore.

And because, somehow in this Age of Self – this Digital Void where the idea is to get noticed at any cost, even for a minute or two – the Human Urge is panting, panting, huffing and puffing….like some crazy salesman knocking frantically at your door, his briefcase full maps to the Golden Grail where the cameras are waiting.

And you, munching on cold pizza and still in your underwear, hurry to answer before he gets pissed off with waiting and goes away.

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