Good comes out of evil and evil comes out of good.
The American people are faced with the following—we see it coming and cannot avoid it:
Either Donald Trump or Bill Clinton will live in the White House by early next year.
The creep factor has never been so high, or so visible, in the American republic.
And yet, if good does come out of evil, the 2016 presidential election will give us all a powerful, unavoidable lesson—things associated with ambition and leadership have a very high creep factor.
This useful understanding will hit us hard: those who live and work in a modest, humble, manner for themselves and their loved ones are the true owners of themselves.
A great, unspoken backlash against creepiness will occur. Millions of Americans who quietly view the horrid spectacle unfolding in front of them will feel that the greatest virtue and the greatest happiness is honesty, hard work, good taste, intelligence, modesty, ingenuity, and kindness.
This is not to say that one cannot feel a certain pride—for whatever reason—for a particular candidate: this is not a lecture against whomever you might favor; this is not the point of this essay, and as much as democracy always seems troubling, this is okay—what we are merely trying to point out is that the general feeling of creepiness and revulsion and disgust Americans feel right now, in the summer of this election year, in reaching a fever pitch of mass recognition, will trigger a healthy purging, a new and radical appreciation among the American populus of real virtue—and this virtue will naturally and quietly grow tremendously in value.
The creep factor is a safety measure which protects us against wrong; it cannot be intellectualized away; we know it the way we know the smell of sour milk.
The creepy does not have to rise to the level of crime to be noticed—and this is what makes it such an important warning device, and also why it belongs so powerfully to both social relations and aesthetics; it is not ignored, because it can’t be, even though it is often pushed under the rug of public discourse.
Now, the creep factor does interact with libel and slander, and, if there is a question of facts—and we are falsely suspecting creepiness based on hearsay—this obviously is an issue.
But this is something which cannot be denied by the individual who feels it. It doesn’t have to smell (alluding to our earlier “sour milk” analogy)—it can be known without a doubt even as “the creep” in question denies it, has supporters in high places, has respectability, is liked by many, and even has certain admirable qualities. The creep factor is something we feel in our bones, even as it flies under legal or public detection. It can be sensed, even if there is no “smell” at all. The “creep” can play victim; “the creep” can play all sorts of games, and these games, even when they gain “the creep” public support, only increase the creep factor in our eyes.
It is safe to say that because of the choice we have for president this year, one does not have to get into the pros and cons of either one of the candidates to simply and factually state that, in total, the creep factor of public life in America has never been so high. We can bemoan this fact, or we can see the good in it: it will lead to a healthy backlash against creepiness in nearly every corner of America.
Some will argue that when creepiness reaches a tipping point in our leaders, a tipping point in public, followers and private individuals will feel the urge to be more creepy, as well.
This may be true up to a point, but the creep factor, thanks to the current election, is so pervasive now, and is felt so significantly in the body politic, that shame and disgust will set in to such an extent that great numbers of citizens, without thinking, will turn in the other direction.
And, as we said, the creep factor affects us—who are not making judgments in a court of criminal law—rather in a social or aesthetic manner; this is the luxury we have as citizens free of the creep factor ourselves: we judge with our more gentle feelings (acute—but gentle) and not in full-blown rage, or malice. Creepiness is not the same as crime—as when, for instance, a tyrant murders citizens in full view of all and the cowed citizenry’s inaction becomes a license for more terror.
The real and harmful violence of nations (including those of the United States) is certainly a factor that may overlap with a leader’s or a country’s creep factor—but it’s the very nature of the creep factor to belong to the aesthetic realm, occupying that crucial area between warning and harm; the greatest pain and ultimate doom has not yet occurred, and there is still hope. Without the creep factor as a warning, the human race may have been wiped out long ago.
The creep factor is not conscience or morality; it works at a far more sensitive level, the place where flowers cast forth their delicate perfumes; the place where very small children shyly cling to the necks of their mothers and hide their faces; the place where a secret heart beats loudly, almost in spite itself, for the deepest, sweetest, and purest love, in the throes of the kindest and sweetest ecstasy; and in the place where the superior edge of the musical or poetic genius is felt, and understood, and known.
The creep factor can manifest itself in countless situations, and those who desperately cry, “Creep!” may very well be full of creepiness themselves.
Just as we are not “taking sides” on the election, neither are we “taking sides” when it comes to men versus women—or any of those other divides which divide.
The creep factor can go either way.
The creep factor moves, as delicately as any poem, in the invisible air.