Some time ago I read a fascinating story. It was a confession of some sort from a French professor (economics and philosophy), author, public intellectual, columnist AND (working in the U.S.A nowadays) pundit. Did I mention he was French? So this guy is a typical intellectual loudmouth with academic credentials. In the deep mists of time when he was 24 he visited a “philosopher king” (his words) in north Africa. To his amazement, this 43 year old god like creature turned out to be living a life of Socrates by day and Tiberius at night. Well ok, maybe not that bad, he did not fuck little girls, just boys. So, this is happening in a culture of [Quran 76:19] There will circulate among them [servant] boys [especially] for them, as if they were pearls well-protected, it is not exactly a massive violation of good manners and civility. However, for the average European citizen it is something incredible depraved. I wrote average, you know what Americans call Jo-Sixpack or Plane Jane. This is to emphasize that certain people thought differently already for a long time. In the early 20th century, the economist John Maynard Keynes encouraged friends to go there, as “bed and boy,” he noted they were not expensive. Travel agencies into the 1970s would advertise the “young, magnificent Tunisians” to Westerners. In 1978, the infamous Spartacus Gay Guide, a manual for sex-seekers, noted that the boys of Tunisia only expected, in return, something like a T-shirt or socks. The book asks that all who go there: “…not to offer money…as this is one of the few areas in the world where money is not expected — let us try to keep it that way.” So far for the “not average”.
But enough depravity, back to the confession. This young dude, fresh out of University, could not accept this would be the future he was walking into. He confronted the “philosopher king” at the moment the young boys had just ben sent of and then killed him, entombed him in an old grave in the yard where the confrontation toke place and almost immediately after this called the lover of the “king”, saying he was sorry for disturbing him but “had the king changed his mind and decided to not join him for an evening of Absint and Dervish whirling ecstasy? The experience with the dervishes must have been dark and foreboding but it all turned out to be a strange disappearance. Things like this happen in north Africa and they happen amongst the not so average. After some investigating, dust settled down on dossiers and everybody involved moved on, as is said nowadays. The young guy never used Absint again, especially not in the company of dervishes, the king’s remembrance slowly turned into something of only lesser nobility. Things changed only now because (the not so young anymore) guy felt the need to spill his guts.
Strange how unpractical highly educated people can behave. After slaying the king he could have just gone to the dean of the faculty, or higher up in the university ranks and tell the story of picking up this faculty-member for a night of slumming since he promised to take him to the worst parts of town. Lo and behold he discovered his body which had gotten the Pierre Pasolini treatment, probably for the same reason! After all, king didn’t just fuck kids, but also high school kids and probably first year students. Or/and maybe his lover had gotten fed up. Things like this are known to happen, but you know you respect the country, the city, the faculty, but don’t know what to do in this situation being in a foreign country with it’s own culture, you do not want to create an even more scandalous situation. Fucking high school and first year students is certainly scandalous enough, it’s not like he was abusing guttersnipe or mudlark or something.
In no time at all, local authorities would have roughed up the lover (him being the lover of a known homosexual) deported home with a message for the French police, about this person being the only and most obvious suspect but unfortunately no conclusive evidence.
Virtually everybody would have known exactly what had happened. Almost everybody would be totally OK with the result. No need to feel guilty or even troubled, authorities on both sides of the sea agree this is a prime solution, everything’s fine.
You have been reading this far and you are most probably thinking: why is the writer fantasizing about this improbable story and what’s this story even about? You have started some sequences of a search engine and are probably telling yourself this writer is a loon, the only story on the whole of the internet is that very connected with some terms from this story is very, very different.
I have a confession to make also. Look at the title of this post: Htrae, it is the name of Bizarro world, that parallel world/universe where everything is a mirror image of what it is in this world. In most cases not just a mirror, but a funhouse mirror. So the part of the Pierre Pasolini treatment is clearly shit covered funhouse mirror. Except for the part of boys ranging from 17 years old to fifteen, this is nowadays used to defend the king!
But also the first part is smog and mirrors. The visit of course is totally true. Some other details, well the king could not, not think about sex and raw power, plus he was a promiscuous sodomite. No, I am not repeating myself he died of aids. This is that funny disease you only die of after fucking a stranger only once if you do that in Philadelphia.
Last but not least, the king left after 2 years of his planned three and did not return to Tunisia, he was persona non grata. You don’t have to do the math, it’s not even arithmetic, if you can count on your fingers you’ll get to the conclusion. I mean Tunisia! Persona non grata there! A place famous amongst sodomite perfs for cheap young boys. Imagine being unacceptable by even these standards.
But, the smoke and the mirrors? What, where? The whole stage of the play, that is what is the smoke and the mirrors here. The young dude visited his hero, witnessed the horror story and did what EVERYBODY else did: nothing. This has been going on for fifty years everybody in the kingdom or even just interested in the king would know this after 10 minutes of research. The king is still that: a philosopher king because of “the philosopher’s thoughts as “a long exploration of transgression, of going beyond social limits, always inseparably linked to knowledge and power”. This all results in a beautiful intellectual dreamscape to which numerous people still dedicate their lives and if it is criticized this is only done on an intellectual level. And of course the sex put into the mix makes for a fun kink does it not. It is not possible to ignore the morass, but somehow everybody manages to not notice the putrid water infecting their feet while only noticing the view on the distant horizon. So there is plenty of mirrors and smoke, but it still does not stop.
The king was an astute leftist throughout much of his life. The young guy was and is on the right, and certainly not an intellectual ally. He came with this revelation about the philosopher king 53 years after the fact and important details in his accusatory statements were about the king being a pedophile rapist: He would make love there on the gravestones with young boys. The question of consent wasn’t even raised.” Also he argued that the king was able to get away with this because of the racial element of his affairs. “He would not have dared to do it in France… There is a colonial dimension to this. A white imperialism,” guy said.
So the critique of a rightwing intellectual on this creature that will remain stuck in the sixties counter culture forever (and the woke-culture now) is not about his wishes to justify his baser instincts and needs AND to build a philosophical framework to do so. His critique is about colonial aspects of the matter, about race and white imperialism. Fucking children is not beyond the pale. Building a philosophical construct for a society in which fucking children is a norm is not beyond the pale. No, these newest transgressions of campus culture (colonialism, racialism and whiteness) these are bad. Not so very bad of course is witnessing the kings behavior and taking no action to put an end to it. Not even for 50 years.
This is a rightwing guy against a representative of the very, very left. The light reflected by all the mirrors is blinding from every direction. I just can not shake the feeling that if this kind of behavior is not beyond the pale for you and you apparently do not feel the need to expunge some piece of crap like this from society, maybe you just do not consider it that terrible yourself. Maybe you are not really opposed to this new culture.
The question remaining then is: if the very, very left and the intellectual right are in reality so much aligned, are we ever going to experience reality for what it is and no longer be fooled by the funhouse mirrors and all the smoke? If there is something like a bizarro world is it then also possible that that bizarro world is the one we are living in?