"The Cherry Orchard," by Chekhov, what a marvelous discussion piece for those who do family wealth consulting. Ancestral wealth, urbanity and vulgarity, rising entrepreneurial wealth and decayed aristocrats. The loyal retainer. The perpetual student. The petulant heiress. The urbane cad. What if advisors were to watch, then identify the character whose worldview is most like their own? Family/History. Time building towards the Russian revolution. And we in our dream world as Merchants of Wisdom. Seriocomic characters of some lesser Chekhov.
I prayed for wisdom, and the gods, sent twin afflictions, and a bill for $30,000 each, plus travel and expenses. True, at first I saw this as a cosmic joke at my expense, but now I see the wisdom in it. Next, time, it could be cancer, so I am grateful it was just two secular priests, sent to teach me the vanity of human wishes.
I prayed for wisdom. To mentor me, the gods sent the best in the business, ___ ___ and __ __, but not the cash to cover the tariff. Four days later I owe them $30,000, each, plus travel and expenses. For the next thirty years, I will be discharging an ever compounding debt. I would bequeath my newfound wisdom, along with the debt, but all I recall from the eight man-days of consulting, is "Know thyself," a cosmic jest, and these two jokers were no comedians.
She never prayed for wisdom, but only for the good of others. The gods sent cancer. And her response was gratitude, humility, and reverence.
Sharing a tattered blanket in the Dumpster, I write his words down but have no idea what they mean or whether they mean anything at all.
Forbidden or guilty knowledge. How do we carry the knowledge that sees into and through the inevitable vice and folly of the best among us like (voice garbled here, seems to be a Jack or Jill, or maybe James, or Jewel?) and (voice garbled and unintelligible, maybe Mike or Martin, or maybe Thad?), let alone (voice garbled and unintelligible, maybe Kevin, or Kelly?). Loyalty and the recognition we are no better. Yet, when the manic moment comes, and we write like (unintelligible, maybe Ambroise? Amber?) or (unintelligible, maybe Rebecca? Richard?) about Wealth and Wisdom, or Virtue, and God and Wealth, or Raising Ethical Heirs, and we take our place among the leaders with feet of clay, what appalled silence can we expect from those who see through us? And what applause from those who don't? Like (voice all too intelligible) poor Phil.
Sad to see him like this. I woke him gently, "It is ok, Tutor, we have no readers. And I take no offense. I know I don't see through you. And I am glad I don't. We all need heroes and you are mine. I only wish I had your courage. Still, I wish you would not drink rubbing alcohol at bedtime; it only gives you fits like this. Now sleep."
To our Readers,
If I may drop the pretense of being "Phil," for the moment, and write to you in propria persona as the all seeing, all knowing Author Function of Gifthub, and General Manager of Wealth Bondage, proud sponsor of Gifthub, I wanted to say that it has come to our attention that recent posts contain what appear to be hidden meanings and certain allusions -- ones that I in no way intend, nor have I or anyone else here in a position of Authority, signed off on them. How deeper meanings have gotten into our discourse is under investigation at this hour. We suspect the hidden meanings are Trojan Horses secreted by highly skilled Hackers, bent on subverting Wealth Bondage by bringing to light secrets that must remain secret if we are to protect Wealth Bondage as a Way of Life, the Integrity of the Franchise, and you as a Valued Customer. If you have - perhaps in all good faith and without meaning to do so -- decoded the hidden meanings in any of the last 2,467 posts (prior posts do not seem to have been infected), contact me directly. A moratorium is in place for the next 24 hours for any hidden meaning you may have obtained by whatever means, as long as you have kept it secret, and make a full personal disclosure to me and to me alone. Any hidden meanings in your possession, whether in writing, or in traces on your hard drive, or in your browser cache, not reported in the next 24 hours, will be treated as Brand Dilution, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Thank you for your prompt cooperation in this urgent matter.
Let me assure that the two who were carted off in a garbage truck in FL, when the big truck emptied the Dumpster, were not Tutor and me. We were in NYC, actually, at the Intersection of Wealth and Bondage, the two guys with squeegees, you may have seen, offering bro bono Morals and Wisdom Consulting to the Hedge Fund managers, their spouses, and the children in the back seat. Yesterday, Tutor dressed as Athena, in a diaphanous toga, revealing one hairy pectoral, as I, presenting myself as Mentor, channeling Athena's Divine Wisdom, tried to work myself into the back seat of a chauffeured Cadillac Escalade, to provide wise counsel to the bored looking kid in the blue blazer headed to school. Didn't go well. We got rousted for drunk and disorderly, but at least we were not carted off in the truck. I would not mind the indignity as much as the compressor they use to compact the garbage. What a way to die. The grinding sound, the walls closing in....
What are the world's wealthiest families for?, I asked The Happy Tutor, Dungeon Master to the Stars, in Wealth Bondage: The Way we Live Now. Toe to toe facing each other in the Dumpster, while the wind whipped bitterly cold, it seemed as good a time to ask as any. In the hopes of turning my bankrupt Morals Consulting practice around, I had been researching Wise Counsel, Trusted Advisors, Purposeful Planners, Committees for the Preservation of Flourishing Dynastic Families, and Concierge Spiritual Services in our Target Market (Ultra High Net Worth Individuals). Tutor looked up over his spectacles from Erasmus's The Praise of Folly, a book he re-reads often, since he figures large in it, in drawings by Holbein the Younger. Those were his glory days when he as Morals Tutor, trained as a cleric at Oxford, and then in an itinerant carnival troupe of Beggars, as a World Class Fool, served as Mentor and Disciplinarian to young noblemen and noblewomen, OTK. Tutor did not answer; instead he reached under the sack of garbage on which he was reposing and tossed me a soiled edition of Leibnitz. I could not understand one word of it. Then he bopped me on the head with Pope's "Essay on Man," - a theodicy, the preface pointed out, based on Leibniz. "Whatever is is right." Wealth Bondage, or the Free Market System, generally, in other words, is not a perfect world, but is the best of all possible worlds. Then he bopped me on the head with "The Fable of the Bees" by Mandeville. "Private vices, public virtues." Wealth Bondage as a casino, in other words, and sink of iniquity is built on private desires, often depraved, but produces public benefits, like employment in the casino, in liquor stores around it, in pawn shops, rehab centers, and the flesh trades in which Tutor and I have been so active over the years, in service to our Ideal Clients. I kind of got the connection, but, again, What are the world's wealthiest families for, that we should serve them? So, then he boinked me on the head with The Wealth of Nations. That seemed closer because it means the market is God at work in the world and out of that, because God works in mysterious ways his wonders to create, comes Wealth Bondage and our wealthiest families, including my generous patron, she who rules us all. Then he tossed Darwin at me. So! Social Darwinism. Ruling families as highest level predators who are necessary for the preservation of the ecosystem. Without wolves in Yellowstone, the whole public park gets screwed up, studies show. That is beginning to make more sense! We need highest level predators to maintain a healthy moral economy. Then, whack, upside the head, came Hobbes, Leviathan, showing the king as the head of the body politic, the King of Political Beasts, ruling on earth as God, the King of Spiritual Beasts, rules us from Heaven. Now, at last I had the answer to why we Serve Wealthiest Families - because as we go up the Great Chain of Being, through the various wealth levels, we get closer and closer on earth to God in Heaven. "But," I said, "Tutor, "this is the divine right of kings and queens. This seems more like late feudalism, about the time kings got beheaded!" Turning the pages of Erasmus, which he reads in Latin, Tutor did not even look up, "Phil, comparatively speaking, the Dark Ages were not so dark. Here in this Dumpster, like the Monks, we keep learning alive, for the benefit of our Fellow Wise Counselors, and those we serve." We do the rich no good when we, The Wise, fail to keep up with our reading.
He would slay his own son, but awaits the sign on the tele-prompter. (From Phil's upcoming Life and Sayings of the Happy Tutor.) I may not be Boswell, but I owe my friend and mentor at least this much, to preserve the best of his Table Talk for future generations. Tutor may be immortal, but like the classics generally, he is a bit the worse for wear. Unless we capture and codify his aphorisms, there is a chance that they will be tossed out, with the sacks of garbage, when the big truck comes to empty our abode. What the aphorisms may mean, it is not for me to say. They are a chain of signifiers; we do know that much.
The Happy Tutor, my Mentor, said last night, as the cold wind blew outside our cozy Dumpster, "I have often noticed, Phil, that even the proudest King may be a humbler soul than his Butler." I have certainly noticed that myself, but I don't see why Tutor would remark on this, unless he meant to intimate something profound. So, this morning when I got to the office, I asked Dr. Amrit Chadwallah, The Senior Adjunct in Charge of Forensic Hermeneutics here in Wealth Bondage for his professional opinion. He determined through close analysis that Tutor's remark is, indeed, as I had suspected, "esoteric," but he could not determine if the model was Jesus Christ, Leo Strauss, or the billboards of Leo Burnett. He said, "Phil, correctly interpreting a Text like this could take generations, assuming we had the intellectual tools. The meaning, it would seem, has been intentionally concealed inside a hard shell. Perhaps the goal was to avoid giving offense. Or, perhaps this word-form is a secret message for "eyes only" of the Elect, ages hence, when humankind is more highly evolved. We could break it open with a hammer, but might damage any nut it might contain." Chadwallah went on to say that, in his experience, as Wise Counselors like Tutor age, particularly if they have been hard drinkers, or otherwise addicted to vice, that their apparently profound dicta become increasingly random. He said, "There is no guarantee, when generations hence this aphorism is correctly parsed, that it will mean anything at all." His advice was to let the matter pass without comment. So, I will.