I Heart Indies

Friday, April 24, 2015

Musings of an Unacknowledged Legislator

Your average plumber wields more power
than the greatest writer who ever lived
(Originally posted January, 2011) Percy Shelley, or if not Shelley, someone like him, once said, “Writers are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” The fact Shelly spread around outrageous nonsense partly accounts for the reputation writers have as self-righteous fatheads.

Al Capone never had to tell anyone he was an unacknowledged legislator, Cardinal Richelieu never had to say it, no one in the Trilateral Commision, or the Diamond Cartel, or a Dan Brown novel ever comes out with something like that. So it looks fishy when Shelley says it,  It’s tooting your own horn.

It’s pretty unlikely that some conspiracy nut will ever finger a secret cabal of writers as the real Power behind the Powers That Be.  “You know the grassy knoll? The disappearance of Elvis? Those fake moon rocks? You know who’s really behind all that stuff? John Updike!”

Lots of professions could make better claims than writers for global legislative power. Plumbers might also feel themselves fairly unacknowledged, world-wide legislation-wise. Plumbers don’t write about plumbing, of course; they only plumb, and so their significance in the arena of global government doesn't get the attention it deserves. Even Alice Walker’s most ardent fan doesn't look forward to her next poem as want as someone waiting ankle-deep in fecal matter for the truck with the happy-face plunger logo.

Moreover, plumbers, three-year-olds, and others in positions of tyrannical authority have the good sense not to mope about it. Usually a writer who comes out with a line like being an unacknowledged legislator one moment, will begin whining about how little he earns the next. This makes us seem not only delusional, but bratty. Look, you’re either a world-ruler or a yuppie looking to make a payment on the Volvo; you can’t be both.

Imagine meeting someone who claims to be an Unacknowledged World Legislator. Certain that at any moment his keeper will pop from the shrubbery and strap him in a strait-jacket, you play for time. “Very impressive,” you remark, sidling away from him.

“Yeah, I guess so,” he mutters, “but I don’t have a dental plan.”

Imagine that: a megalomaniac on the verge of striking for higher wages.

I’ll leave legislation, acknowledged or otherwise, to Congress. The great world and wide has taught me my place. I’m not complaining. I don’t want to legislate in an unacknowledged or any other capacity. I’m happy with my lot in life. 

And I suspect that in whatever Star Chamber the true unacknowledged legislators of the world meet, they turn with a sigh from setting the price of petroleum, fixing all the presidential races, and determining library fines for the next millennium, and say to themselves, "This is okay, I guess, and it pays the bills.  But what I really want to do is write."

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