Some years ago, I was at the annual Dragonfest gathering, hanging with witches and druids and pagans of eclectic persuasions, and chanced to hear a fellow — a regular there I recognized, but whose name I did not know — carrying on a long, instructive monologue on fairies, specifically how to catch them.
He was saying that the way you catch a fairy is to drill a hole through a rock, then hang it up by a thread where it can sway in the breeze. Fairies are attracted to holes drilled in rocks. They want to see what’s on the other side of the hole, and they will stick their head through to look. But the other thing about fairies is that they can’t back up. So if they can get their head into the hole, but can’t fit their wings, they’ll just stay there, stuck. Then all you have to do is go out, collect all the stones you have hanging in your yard, and you’ve caught yourself a mess of fairies.
This fellow was perspiring heavily as he spoke. At 8000 feet elevation, it can get blisteringly hot on a sunny day. But it was late afternoon, when even a blistering day is mellowing into merely warm, headed toward downright chilly by sunset. It occurred to me he might be tripping on magic mushrooms, which could possibly have contributed to his earnestness, as well as much of his narrative.
The odd thing about entheogens — mind-expanding compounds like psilocybin — is that they often unlock uncanny insights into the hidden workings of things. You just have to understand how to think metaphorically.
Because, of course, fairies don’t really exist. It’s ridiculous to think there’s a class of beings, anywhere, who would thoughtlessly dive headfirst into a hole in a rock, and upon learning that there’s no way through, would nevertheless refuse to back up, or back out, or back down, instead just pressing ahead into a stone noose until they either strangle themselves, or get snatched up and mounted on someone’s wall as a trophy. Ridiculous.
Except that I know far too many people who are exactly like that. They stick their head in a no-win situation, and when they realize there’s no way forward, they “double down,” which, as far as I can tell, means that they shove their head even deeper. I know far too many people who have wedged themselves into no-win situations so deeply that even their feet are no longer visible. That’s a metaphor, of course.
I keep reading about one fellow, in particular, who lives in a big white house in Washington, D.C., at least on weekdays. He calls himself a “puncher.” Meaning, I gather, that he doesn’t just stick his head in the hole, he rams his head into it as hard as he can, and when it doesn’t get him through, he rams it again even harder. He calls it decisive masculinity.
Methinks somewhere along the line, he got manliness and fairies mixed up.
This afternoon I read about the nerve gas attack in Syria, and this fellow’s manly response of lobbing fifty or sixty missiles at an airport in Syria.
I was also reading about the previous resident of that big white house after an almost identical nerve gas attack in Syria, and he spent quite a bit of time planning to stick his head in the hole, angling to get backing from England and the US Congress to hit ALL the airports — all the important ones, anyway — and completely knock out the nerve gasser’s air force, hopefully toppling his regime. England didn’t like the look of the hole, and said No, thank you. Congress had its collective head stuck in the Hole of No, and so immediately doubled down on No. So this previous fellow did the unthinkable — he actually backed out of the hole, to the catcalls of all the fairies who weren’t at the moment engaged into trying to shove their heads through a rock.
That’s a whole bunch of metaphors.
As far as I’ve heard, the current “puncher” doesn’t have a plan at all. It was just: nerve gas, punch. A manly reflex. Oooh. Ahhh. There was no attempt to take out the nerve gasser’s entire air force. From what I read, it’s not clear the airport had any strategic importance at all, but then, maybe that just got left out of the news. I’m sure this was a very important airport, the most important of all the important airports. Even so, the outcome is going to be about like hunting bear with a dessert-fork: if you’re really, really lucky, the bear will die laughing. Yes, that’s another metaphor.
But the real issue is, now that the current fairy-fellow’s head is stuck in this particular rock, he can’t back down. Manly fairies don’t do that, and he’s not just any manly fairy, he’s a “puncher.” He’s the most bigly “puncher.” He will escalate.
As a fairy, he has no other choice. He can’t back up. So unless he is gathered up and mounted on a wall somewhere, he will eventually double-down to the nuclear option.
And let me be perfectly clear. That is not a metaphor.