Students of Wesleyan, mourn with me the passing of an era. For, as of this May’s commencement, we will have lost our greatest warrior in the struggle against the all-consuming maw of ontology. I refer, of course, to the august personage of Mytheos Holt. Throughout his time as Wesleyan, Mytheos has opposed the sickly liberal ideology through the positing of its essential Other. But this is not simply a representation of Wesleyan’s Other par excellence—Mytheology is the location of a de-ontological project, a posited ideology that collapses the very idea of ideology by revealing the absurdity of opinion. Mytheos is Wesleyan’s foremost troll.
Before you take this last statement as a gross insult aimed at Mr. Holt, I would present an etymological examination of the word in question. “Troll” has two separate meanings. Commonly (especially in this era of high fantasy) the word is used in its beastly sense: it refers to something monstrous and grotesque, a beast that dwells in caves and under bridges, something hidden from public view, shunned as ugly, malicious, and destructive. But the socio-cultural actor that is named “troll” does not have his roots in this fairy-tale grotesquery. Rather, he, like Simon Peter, is a fisherman, a fisher of men (though he is certainly more patient than the petros upon which the Church is founded.) The “troll” casts his line into the watery dialogues of social discourse, but he does not take others by forces. Rather, his lure only draws those who are attracted to it – it reveals what already is.
Certainly, Mytheology is an example of this glowworm. How would a column draw such a response if the dominant ideology of this campus did not think that its statements required immediate correction? This is the action of a threatened ideology, one that feels its foundations shaking under it—a secure ontology knows its own permanence. Mytheology is meta-satire: it posits an anti-ontology to those who would see themselves as de-ontologized, elicits an ideological response from those who state that social good is more important than the concept. What else can we call this but a revelation of the absurd? The troll, through his mask, reveals the masks of others. But where the troll’s mask may be removed at whim, the mask of the Other is cursed, bound to the face of he who wears it because of his sheer ignorance of its existence. The troll is thus a savior—he holds up the inverse mirror to the face of invisible ontology, and the revelation of the mask brings it one step closer to its removal.
Still, a single troll can only present so much of a de-ontological force. If trolls are not multiple, there is the danger of a simple inverse relation between the troll and his caught Other. The troll becomes the new Other for the invisible ontology, and the reciprocal relationship of ideologies continues. What must occur for discourse to be fully de-ontologized is a complete infection of ideology by the trickster, the de-ontologizing troll. But does not the very concept of the troll posit this as a possible truth? That is to say, is it not possible—nay, probable—that the de-ontological force is in fact completely present in discourse? The very masks that we see as the creations of ordered (and ordering) power might in fact be the chaotic byproducts of anarchistic play, and our trusted barons of seriousness simply roles played by mischievous actors!
And play is entirely the purview of the de-ontological troll. He disregards order for the sake of amusement—and this is why the troll is monstrous. He is the force that opposes the force of binary opposition. That is not to say he is without binaries, but his oppositions shift so frequently that they can be called “outfits” rather than “beliefs.” Yet the troll is part of discourse, he stands within it and alters it from within, through its own rules, neither through violence nor coercion. The troll undermines teleological thought: this is a blessing. Hegel has already shown us that the ultimate result of completion is no different from nothingness.
Thus, I offer this final thanks to Mytheos Holt for his artful sabotage of Wesleyan’s discourse. I also give a final charge to the students that will succeed both him and me: troll this campus. Destabilize its ideologies and reveal them to be masks, just like any others. Above all, play with words and ideas. Do not become chained by what is “right” and “good.” Neither become embroiled in rebellion for rebellion’s sake. The destruction of discourse will reveal everything to be what it has always been—itself, and only itself, world without end.