Ka-Tetiquette: Minding Your Manners In A World That’s Moved On


1/6-1/12
Wizard & Glass:
Prologue-Chapter 4.ii

Well, it would seem quite a lot has happened since my last post. A megalomaniacal sociopath (worshipped as a god by an ignorant death cult) almost got everybody killed when he refused to concede a contest that he lost fair and square. Of course I’m talking about the beginning of Wizard & Glass, and the resolution to the cliffhanger ending of The Waste Lands.

Why, what else could I have possibly been talking about?

Okay, let’s stop being coy. This week, life tried it’s damndest to imitate art when the President played his version of the God Drums and his followers, a bunch of real-life Pubes, began to wreak havoc on our increasingly dystopian society. I don’t want to write about Trump or the events of January 6th on this blog— just want to nerd out about Sai King and the Song of Gan—but let’s be real. What the hell else am I supposed to think about, let alone write about? The parallels between what’s happened in Mid-World over the past few weeks, and what’s happened here in reality, are impossible to ignore.

It was surreal, after having just read about the Tick-Tock Man sitting on his throne, to see photos of “The QAnon Shaman” standing on the dais in the House Chamber. Watching these insurrectionists, many dressed just as bizarrely as the Luddites, invade and desecrate a keystone of our civilization, I couldn’t help think of the grim ruins Eddie and Susannah walk past on their way to the Cradle. It made me feel sad and ill, and never before have I so clearly understood the phrase “the world has moved on.”

Up ahead, the arched entrance to a marble building had been overgrown by vines and some straggly green stuff that looked like cypress beards, but it was still magnificent and somehow dignified. Beyond it, around the corner, a crowd was babbling excitedly… The fun-loving Pubes of Lud were holding another public execution.

The Waste Lands, p. 452

Just like Blaine, Trump has been riling up his supporters on a daily basis for years, using all-caps tweets instead of a ZZ-Top drum track. And just like Blaine, who incites violent pandemonium in Lud before gassing the entire city and abandoning it, Trump unleashed his bloodthirsty base only to turn around and give up after they’d already committed treason on his behalf.

Blaine and Trump have both been mentally unhinged for quite some time, and like the monorail short-circuiting when it realized it had lost the contest, Trump seems to be having his own systems malfunction. His desperate tweets from various accounts after being suspended from Twitter were not unlike Blaine’s final stuttering lines of dialogue.

But the most notable similarity I’ve observed between what Blaine does to Lud and what Trump is doing on his way out of office, is everyone’s obsession with being polite. Blaine abhors rudeness and will punish you for it. Roland stresses the importance of asking riddles in the proper manner. Susannah apologizes to Blaine when she salutes him with that strange Mid-World throat-tapping gesture, but uses the wrong hand. Even when Roland yells at the computer and roasts him with the most savage insults, he always speaks respectfully. There is a crisp politeness to Roland’s speech, a diplomacy that is impressive but useless when dealing with a psychopath like Blaine. Only Eddie has the nerve to drop the niceties with the murderous computer. Perhaps it is not Eddie’s riddles that cause Blaine to break down, but his overwhelming rudeness.

“YOU MUST NOT SPEAK TO ME IN SUCH A MANNER.”

– Blaine the Mono, Wizard & Glass, p. 66

Here on Keystone Earth, our culture seems to share Roland’s reverence for civility. In the aftermath of Wednesday’s horrifying events, I’ve actually seen people calling out the language being used to describe the Nazi terrorists at the Capital, arguing that we should be civil, not divisive, and to those people I say: fuck off.

There’s a character in these chapters who embodies this attitude, and his name is Little Blaine. When Eddie and Susannah first hear his voice, he’s helpful, warning them in his hushed voice that Blaine is crazy and dangerous. But he won’t speak up when Blaine is around, he doesn’t want to be punished for being rude, just like the folks who think we can all live happily together as long as we don’t call each other names or use bad language.

Luckily for the Ka-Tet, Eddie knows that Little Blaine is full of shit, telling him to “get lost, squirt.” (p. 66). Eddie knows that when you’re dealing with a bully as cruel and unreasonable as Blaine or Trump, there is no diplomacy. There is no civility. There is no palaver. You treat them like the low creatures they are and you strip them of their power.

“It’s the world’s smallest violin playing ‘My Heart Pumps Purple Piss For You.’”

– Eddie Dean, Wizard & Glass, p. 67

If we want to hold Trump and his enablers accountable for what they’ve done to this country, we must learn from Eddie’s victory in the barony coach. We must not let the Little Blaines of the world shush us into speaking with respect to those that deserve none. We must insist on calling things out for what they are, no matter how improper it might be, and no matter who might take offense.

Next Week’s Reading
Wizard & Glass:
Part One: 4.iii-5.xvi
& Part Two: 1.i-2.v

Published by Joe Rechtman

Screenwriter/watcher. Constant Reader & Dark Tower Junkie.

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