Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Highway Narcissist

My wife Linda Sue and I were driving along Highway 101 in California, when we came upon this sight.

That's right.

A self-proclaimed Narcissist!

My heart leapt. My mind swamped with questions. Could the driver be anything like Tyler LePerdu?

The guy behind the wheel all but ignored our acknowledgement, and I wondered if it had been poor judgment to give him the "thumbs up" as we passed. One would be wise not to stir the pot with a narcissist at 70mph, particularly when they are featuring inverted stars that look suspiciously satanic. The truck was black. And that font.

A Narcissist?

Safely home, I Googled the word "narcissist" to see if my rather studied understanding precluded something obvious in the culture around me. I found nothing substantial, but did make a few wonderful discoveries. I now know where to go should I ever need to recognize a narcissist. I know where to find an online questionnaire to see if I might be a narcissist. There is even a Canadian dress company calling itself Narcissist, featuring bride's maids dresses with names like Emily, Serena and Jackie.

"Jackie" is a Narcissist.

Then I considered the possiblity that the Highway Narcissist was simply giving his props to a wrap star I’d not heard of, or a heavy metal or NWOBHM band I would know nothing about. All I found was a recording by a Detroit techno musician, an “inspired set of machine soul.”

Apparently, this is The Narcissist.

The Rabbit Hole

Feeling as though I'd hit a dead end, I decided to pursue the meaning of the inverted stars. I quickly learned that they are Nauvoo Pentagrams, and was thrown into a hotbed of controversy. One search result informed me that the inverted pentagram is used by both Mormons, and, according to certain Mormons, Satanists. Say the Latter Day Saints, the Satan worshippers' use (for evil) is much more contemporary; their use (for good) is more historically accurate. Not knowing much about Satanism, I went further down the rabbit hole and learned that not all Satanists worship Satan. While some do worship Satan as a deity, others focus more on material or physical advancement of the self, prefering more egoistic approach to life with self-centering world views and natural laws; all of which led me to more controversy in Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, and whose philosophies were heavily influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, H. L. Mencken, Jack London, and Ayn Rand.

I wonder if the Highway Narcissist had a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" in the glove box.


Blogger Steven LaRose said...

Oh man.
If I saw that truck I bet I would have thought: "Lame band name". But then I would think: "What sorta kook would drive such an obviously functionless "pick-up"?" "No musician I've ever known." Those stars are tattooed on Miss America's bikini line and dangling from the ear-rings of frat-boys every where. The pentagram's meaning has expanded away from the original source at a rate that increases in distance that is like an inverse Xeno's Paradox. Each gereration's star loosing meaning twice as fast and twice as profound. Thanks for all the links. I'll have to keep coming back and diving down the various rabbit holes. The Anton LaVey branch should be make into a graphic novel, if someone hasn't already. I'd do the illustrations if there are any brilliant writers out there. . .

January 31, 2006 11:43 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Foster said...

I agree. The pentagram is like many other symbols that lose their meaning over time when certain corners of the culture stake claims of ownership over them. By ownership, I don't mean use or participation, either. I mean good old fashioned possession. Possession for their own, self-determined meaning. Pagan symbols, religious symbols, patriotic symbols -- all mixed signals.

I believe this is true of language as well. I remember Orson Welles waxing disdain over the hijacking of the word "gay." Wouldn't it be great to have a beer with a lexicographer to hear them sing their lament about the watering down of the english language? And most importantly, ask them why that is.

February 01, 2006 9:48 PM  
Blogger Gerric Duncan said...

Wikipedia categorizes Levay primarily as both "Satanist" and "Organist". I knew there was a connection.

I agree with both of you. I'll go a little further with your idea of symbol possession, Jonathan, and suggest that it's a binary ripe for deconstruction. Symbolism, including written language, is possession. Writing is thievery.

Good writers, however, like Robin Hood steal from the meaning and give to the metaphor. Bad writers use ugly Robin Hood metaphors, so I'd better go.

February 04, 2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger Steven LaRose said...

Merry men?
Watering down of the English language?
The beauty of the English language is its viral meme explosive growth nature. I'm not the only one who finds it a bit evil when it is lamented that language should be "clear" and consistent. By the way, don't "they" mean that "they" want language to be opaque? Clear seems like a metaphor of a metaphor that allows one to place a clear text over another text in order to reveal something about both texts. And as far as "consistent" goes, that sounds like the call for universal truths that certain readers of the words of god are killing each other over. Bad writers and fluid readers unite!

February 05, 2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Foster said...

I think I should share with you the image of the lexicographer in my mind when I wrote that: a feckless and embittered troll who fancies himself a linguist but really works at The Dictionary Corporation and is responsible for "sputter" through "veinule." He hates it when more work is created for him. "Why can't words just stay the way they should be..." He basically hates change. Change is the devil.

This is a bit of an extrapolation, of course, but there is something about the folks who spend their lives determining what should go into a dictionary. The concept fascinates me.

I'm on the same page with you regarding the growth factor. Particularly because language is so connected to thinking and imagination.

Note: this is the trouble with the Comments section on a blog -- there is always so much I want to respond with, so little time.

February 07, 2006 4:35 PM  
Blogger Frank Dickerson said...

Dude, I'm not to happy to see my truck on your blog. I don't like being made funny of. Take it off or tell me why not. Not cool.

February 11, 2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger Tyler LePerdu said...

Let me be frank.

You simply don't get it.

February 11, 2006 3:24 PM  

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