Chasing the Dragon
Have you ever heard an addict talk about their addiction; heard them talk about “chasing the dragon,” talk about the way in which they got hooked on whatever it is that they got hooked on: whisky, cocaine, heroin…the adulation of a crowd, or a feeling of righteousness, how they got hooked because they kept looking for the experience that was as the blissful, as fulsome, as perfect as the first time they ever used.
They were chasing the dragon.
The expression comes from Arthurian legend. Old King Pelinore, was most famously on this quest. He was a king in his own right, and a knight of the Round Table. He was the father of Elaine; wife of Sir Lancelot, mother of Sir Galahad. He was something of a laughing stock; because he was always leaving court to go on the quest for what most of his peers believed was an imaginary beast.
He was chasing the dragon.
Pelinore was pure of heart. Lancelot beheld the Holy Grail while he was staying at his castle, where sanity returned to him and he wedded Elaine, and conceived their child Galahad, who fulfilled the quest for the grail together with Sir Percival, and Sir Bores.
The other knights would often tease Pelinore, and making up stories about having seen the beast. He would immediately get up and go to find it. Some, like Percival, and Sir Palomides (The Saracen), joined him on the quest. Like Pelinore, they were believers, and it did not matter to them what they risked, what they gave up; in terms of prestige, reputation, standing, and wealth. What mattered to them was the quest itself, it was the proper role for the knight, when he was not serving his king at war, to be on the quest for justice, and peace, for truth, and goodness, for beauty’s sake, for love.
They were chasing the dragon, the questing beast.
Senator Sanders is chasing the dragon now. Is he a goodly knight; like Pelinore, Percival, and Palomides? Or is Bernie Sanders a junkie, just looking for his next fix?
Does he actually want to advance the progressive agenda, or does he want one more big rally to take him to the edge?
I do not know the answer to this question.
I suspect that BS does not know the answer to this question either. I do wish that everyone who is following him, ardently supporting his candidacy; I do wish they would answer this question for themselves.
All of the quest knights shared certain qualities in common; humility, grace, and peace they also possessed a strength in direct proportion to their faith, and purity. When they were true they could not be defeated, and of that there was no doubt.
One thing I know from my experience with addicts, is that when they do not get what they want, they become angry, bitter, resentful. They begin to blame everyone and everything around them for their failures. They risk more and more, until they lose everything, destroy their relationships and are left bereft.
BS is chasing the dragon, and he seems increasingly delusional. He risks squandering all of the good will he has amassed from his colleagues; for being on his quest and fighting the good fight. He has succeeded in moving the focus of the democratic primary significantly toward the issues that he is most passionate about. I believe that the democratic party is grateful for this, and grateful for the energy he has brought to his campaign. Even though it was not enough to give him a victory, and even though his prospects were always statistically improbable.
Is he the same progressive idealist today that he was a year ago when he started his campaign? Is he a Pelinore or a Percival motivated by purity of heart, or has he lost his mind like Lancelot, junked out for something he could never have?