The Citadel

(The following has nothing to do with the college named The Citadel.)

So long as there is a Citadel shall not another stand opposed? It is, by its nature, contention and calls by its challenge “We are other than you barbarians, test yourself upon us. We know what is in your hearts is not the tender mercy, the peace of our god. He has given us this fortress on the hill and bade us deny you entry.”
No fool of an army would such a battle enjoin.
Time has taught them patience, knowing that the Citadel will fall from within. They see the fortification, the armies kept at battle readiness and the population as unfocused, unsteady, fearful of the attack they are told will surely come. The wise go about their business; growing, saving, prospering, their populations living out their lives never assailing the fortress, the ever crumbling fortress.
The Mongols, the Turks,the Greek, Roman, Viking, Spanish, French, British, the Axis, the Communist: fortresses all, all gone but in name and memory, all fame turned to infamy, all having learned;
So long as there is a Citadel another shall stand opposed.
Those very walls to keep the enemy at bay, to keep fear outside, meant to give security can not change the world they exist in. The world knows the fortress is ready to attack at anytime and to impose their will from an impervious position; in this one thought are all outside united.
So begins the worlds: within the Citadel and the world without. Within the wall, the world is withdrawn; gathering, preparing, fortifying, ever mindful of spies, everywhere there are spies among them. The world without goes about their business, growing saving, prospering; their populations living out their lives never assailing the fortress, the ever crumbling fortress. As conflicts arise among those without, words are exchanged, settlements made, all careful to avoid the armies from within the wall: they know once those armies engage, the conflict is no longer theirs to control. To keep their control they must learn about their opposition and learn to reason with them. From this arises new viewpoints, commonalities that the Citadel is not privy to, having not been engaged. As time passes, the two worlds diverge, become strangers to each other, each pitying the other, one for weakness, the other for foolishness.
Within the fortress, the people say “All fear us. The world is ours to conquer” Without, they whisper “To conquer but not to hold, the fools. All who conquer are conquered.” War is a game of chess the world plays with the Citadel while quietly robbing it of vitality. They have seen it before from both sides of the wall.
Some ally with the fortress, knowing to do so lessens the repercussions of their misdeeds. The Citadel always bears the burden for their brothers; the deaths and wounding, the economic drain, the moral ambiguity, the loss of standing in the world and in the eyes of their god. Some allies, freed of these burdens, act out irresponsibly, aggressively, imperiously, threatening with the sword in an others hand. Those threatened fear the hand with the sword more than the voice that drives it. The fortress presents its ideals, its civilization at the same point of a sword, at the same moment it presents death. How could the two not be confused?
So the Citadel gathers armies against it. All the battles of the world are brought to the walls to be fought. The Generals cry out, “See, as we have told you for so long the enemy is upon us. Let us be at them!” So engaged, what is left of the ideals falls to expediency, the war is within the walls as much as without. All are other; enemy and traitor. All is war where there had once been the sweet brotherhood and the use of tilled fields.
Who would rise and say, “Where there was once the peace in our hearts there is now hate; the enemy is fear in our hearts and has driven our god from us. If the courage of our god is in our hearts, what man should we fear? Why are there walls between what is in our hearts and the world? Would not our god want us to welcome others? If our god is the one god then is he not in their hearts as well? Should we not let them see into our hearts as we learn what is in theirs? When we know of them, we will know the good from the evil among them and they will be our brothers against the evil ones. Our walls keep us from our brothers in arms.”
What leader in a Citadel would rise and say, “I see, now, what history teaches. Let us rejoin the world. Let us be like them that do not have every battle and no need to prepare for all enemies.” There is never a safe time or person to speak truth to power.
What fools they would be, knowing another would arise, in pride and passion, saying “Cowards and traitors! The world has not known our kind. We will prevail where all others have failed.” The prideful people would cheer.
Pride goeth before the fall and the fall always comes.
*
The Digressions
(Thoughts that occurred to me that did not fit gracefully into the allegory.)
*
The Cycle Digression
(Based on the economic theory, the only two ways to make money are through invention or exploitation)

Fear creates force, force creates isolation, isolation creates stagnation, stagnation creates non-inventiveness, non-inventiveness creates exploitation, exploitation necessitates force, force creates fear.
Or
Faith creates courage, courage creates openness, openness creates interdependence, interdependence allows knowledge, knowledge creates tolerance, tolerance creates peace, peace creates opportunity, opportunity creates invention, invention creates progress, progress creates faith.
Pick your cycle and see who you are.
*
The Game of Chess Digression

In T.S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland” there is a passage called “The Game of Chess”. The concept is a first man is busied with a game of chess by the first conspirator, as a distraction, while a second conspirator is seducing the first man’s wife. The two immediate corollaries: while we are busy with wars, the world is screwing us on the business and progress sides of the equation.
On the personal side, I’ve spent a lot of time writing this, my love , as you are well aware. Knowing that this is a game of chess as well, a distraction from you, I put a sleeping pill in your coffee. Problem solved. In the recession of your sleep, the game is resolved and when you awake the completion of it is before you. The Citadel is in its place, all is in balance, the world is fresh before your eyes as befits you. A miracle.
*
The Albatross Digression

My girl (inside joke alert), my prime beta reader, said the Citadel was “shooting the albatross”, referring to my trying to get rid of bad luck (karma) by writing this. The genesis of shooting the albatross has nothing to do with luck (though I think Melville implied otherwise.) Fishermen started shooting the albatross because they scared away the bait fish the large fish fed on. As the bait fish left, the larger fish the fishermen wanted left as well. Shooting the albatross was a method of territorial resolution between the two.
Fishermen will sometimes use birds to locate fish and then get rid of them through any means necessary. While having unique physical abilities, birds just can’t grasp we’re running the show now and they would be smart to accept this and move on. Acceptance is key on this, birds. They’re really just dinosaurs with wings, you know.
Still good for recon, though…
Considering all this, I suppose I’m the Citadel people’s albatross, just giving them a little recon. I’m moving on now, no need to shoot me…

So what does this mean to you, my love, about whom my every thought revolves? Consciously or subconsciously, it has to lead back.

“I think it’s dark and it looks like rain” you said
“and the wind is blowing like the end of the world” you said
” and it’s so cold it’s like the cold if you were dead”
and then you smiled for a second.

“I think I’m old and I’m feeling pain” you said
“and it’s all running out like the end of the world ” you said
“and it’s so cold like the cold if you were dead”
and then you smiled for a second.

Sometimes you make me feel
like I’m living at the edge of the world,
like I’m living at the edge of the world.
“It’s just the way I smile” you said.
(Lyrics to “Plainsong” by The Cure)
It’s just the way I smile, old and grim, but warm.

Advertisements