King Of The Hill

I remember as a small child living in the countryside talking part in a spontaneous king of the hill contest with about a dozen kids on a haystack. It was a lot of fun.

Some old wise men since the days of Confucius (and probably long before that too) have typified politics as a king of the hill contest for people who never grew up. The king metaphor has been used in a lot of contexts, from humpty-dumpty to “all the king’s men”, because it creates a classic false dichotomy: “are you a king’s man or are you not?” If you say no, it is “off with your head” immediately. If you say yes for your own self-preservation, you may not be believed and if you do not prove yourself to the king’s satisfaction by becoming and remaining a slave, it is still “off with your head” sooner or later. Whenever someone poses a false either/or question—are you A or B—this trap arises. Are you Caesar’s or not…and so on. The moment you commit yourself to entertaining the false question, you automatically lose or get caught in a trap with no escape. That’s common sense.

After the international monetary world changed its focus during the late 1960s, people were purposely faced with a whole lot of new false A or B questions such as “gender”: “are you a feminist (A) or are you not? (B)” If you say you are a humanist, you have supposedly dodged the question and must be a closet B person and, therefore, have an inherently false, outdated and patronising idea of human nature because one does not define all aspects of human nature purely in terms of womanhood. Therefore, if you are neither a woman nor a pornographer, grinning away to oneself through an ability to entertain perverted thoughts, you must be wrong. It is the old King of the Hill game all over again, which just goes to show that there are still kings and queens about who get their kicks and distribute money accordingly from trapping people into false games of their own invention.

I used to play chess quite often as a kid and I remember discovering a different edition of chess that, so the box claimed, was actually the original chess game that was first designed by Vikings. It was a bizarre game to play because only one side had a king. Furthermore, it soon became clear that the rules of the game were so designed that the king could not lose. He could lose all his pieces but he was still invincible and all the other pieces would inevitably die by his hand. It was only a matter of time.

Was the person who designed that game devilishly clever or a knave? And there, perhaps, we find another false A or B question: let us just say instead they evidently never grew tired of playing king of the hill. Is it still a felony to declare kings or queens as pitiful excuses for human beings? Probably. “Among the hills what have you?” “There are many white clouds but they cannot be caught and sent on to your Majesty” (T’Ao Hung-Ching, witnessing the height below).

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