ARE YOU A MOE, A CURLY, OR MERELY A LARRY??
by Rev. Ivan Stang, Church of the SubGenius
Book of the SubGenius
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There are three kinds of people in this world. I know, you've heard that before. Everybody has their 'three types' of people, or their four types or five types. Many only list two types: those who divide people into two types, and those who don't. But there are three, and the models for these types come neither from psychology nor ancient religion. They come from Columbia Studios, and they are archetypally embodied in The Three Stooges.
The Stooges unwittingly --of course -- left us a rich legacy of deft interpretations of the most primal human behavior patterns. Their short films, seen as a whole, form a tapestry in which the interactions of people as individuals, corporations and nations are distilled to a microcosm, a pure essence of existential folly.
There is but a small percentage of Moes in any given population: perhaps 5%. There are even fewer Curlys. The vast bulk of humanity are Larrys.
(Though represented by male characters, the three types also apply to women.)
Moe is the active personality, and if not always dominant, always striving to be. Moe is the one who spurs the others into action. He devises plans to better their lot, but when his plans fail the other two suffer the consequences. But is Moe any less the fool for that they follow his plans?
He is a natural manipulator, only partially because the others are waiting to be manipulated. He would want to manipulate them anyway, even if they weren't so willing.
Were it not for the presence of his friends, Larry probably would live in peace -- a dull, flat, mechanical peace. Though clumsy, he is still the most employable of the three -- for the other two are incapable of following orders, although for different reasons. Most people are Larrys.
Larrys divide people into those who don't divide others into two types, and those who do. But they do so only because they grew up hearing it.
Curly is the only likeable one, a truly rare human model. He is the holy man, the Divine Fool. He is as creative and active as Moe, but it is a spontaneous and joyous kind of creativity, no good for the kind of plotting and scheming required by a Moe-dominated society. He is a free spirit, but correspondingly unable to function well in a world of Moes and Larrys. He, like Larry, is perpetually abused, but he intuitively understands what is happening to him and reacts far more angrily -- if equally ineffectually. He is everyone's favorite Stooge because he is the funniest; through his innate nobility and natural humility he constantly bests Moe, but it is in an unconscious way, and it is only apparent to the outside observer. Curly himself is hardly aware of his talents; his weakness is that he does not know his own strength, and cannot trust his own luck.
In real life, Curlys are usually branded by the Moes and Larrys around them as retarded, schizophrenic, mal-adjusted or just plain stupid, whereas in reality, it is only Curly who understands the truth. Remaining cheerful through adversity, he wins battles not by fighting, but by 'accidentally' unleashing 'accidents' in which his enemies injure themselves.
But Larry is a born follower, a blank slate that only reacts (and slowly at that) to exterior stimuli. He never initiates action. He is Moe's absolute tool, the truest 'stooge.' When Moe's abuse finally does make him angry, he lashes out not at Moe, but at Curly. No matter how he suffers under Moe's yoke, he never really rebels. He argues, but gives up easily.
Alien to feelings of avarice or ambition, he is the opposite of Moe, yet the two are drawn together by some inexplicable balancing force of nature. The Larrys, though, are ever the in-betweeners, sluglike nonentities caught in the crossfire of cosmic dualities -- yet remaining there by some herding instinct that makes being a casualty of the Moe-Curly battle preferable to life alone with other Larrys.
(And then there are Shemps, Curly-Joes, and Joe de Ritas, but these were all merely Larrys trying to be Curly-like. The Larry-Who-Would-Be-Curly is the saddest "type" of all. American show business is littered with the corpses of personalities locked in failed Curlihood.)
Only the existence of the blameless, bovine Larrys makes that of Moe or Curly possible. They are able to maintain their level of glandular brutality and senseless destruction only at the expense of the unquestioning, loyal worker drone whose income partially supports their excesses. Were he not there to diffuse Moe's anger by becoming another recipient of his blows, Curly would have been killed long ago, and Moe would have committed suicide out of loneliness.
The horror of it all is that the three types need each other to survive. Of all nature's cycles of parasitic symbiosis, the one involving the three human types is the most nightmarish. It rages around us all the time in real life, spreading death and madness, yet when we see it on the screen we call it "comedy."
I am a Moe. Moes are always coming up with theories like this. They, we, are Colin Wilson's 'Right Men' (Wilson is a 'Right Man' too), those who assume they're right and act accordingly. Let the Curlys and Larrys be the dumb, willing guinea pigs for our egocentric ideas. They're BEGGING for it! They DEMAND that we tell them what to do! Should we be so cruel as to deny them their desired bondage??
We, unlike the Larrys, recognize the magical potential of the Curlys, and become skilled at exploiting it. We receive royalties off the works of Curlys. HA! And the Larrys -- those "fuzzy-headed ones" are fit only take down our dictation, to sweep our offices, to deliver our papers in the morning. All those LITTLE THINGS. And though we know it looks unseemly for us to wield such tyranny over innocent idiots, yet what choice do we have? NATURE ITSELF has decreed that this should be THE WAY.
Unfortunately, I am not the only Moe in real life. My own son is a Moe; he bosses the other kids around and invents clubs which they may join...and already he mildly threatens my bull patriarch's hold over our tribe. There are thousands of others, and I constantly find myself doing battle with them. Two of my old friends and myself currently hate each other because our Moe Powers came into stark conflict. This sort of thing is weakening the stranglehold we Moes have traditionally maintained over the Larrys and Curlys, because those tribes do not waste their energies fighting amongst each other or their own species. Sooner or later, I fear, the Larrys and Curlys will learn from our example and lift their heads out of the sinkhole of ignorance they have always wallowed in. I wonder if this could be the Twilight of the Moes. It would mean Peace between Russia and America and the Third World, on the one hand; on the other, it would mean the end of magazine columns by opinionated assholes. I'd be out of work!
No, the Moe Conspiracy must rule for ETERNITY! I will occasionally join, however distasteful it may be to me, with my fellow Moes like Ronald Reagan (who I hate) and other governmental and corporate "leaders," those whose regimes I normally oppose, just long enough to agree upon the illusions to be used to seduce the Larrys and Curlys into fighting our wars against each other for us... it is what they WANT... I personally would just as soon let them free in their pastures, but if I did, the Reagan Moe or the Client Moe or the Rival Columnist Moe might get the upper hand. No, our battle between ourselves must remain self-perpetuating, and if we do not cooperate in using Larrys and Curlys as fuel, our machine will run down.
I am the only Moe who ever dared to announce the existence of the Moe Conspiracy, and I do it only because I know that you Larrys and Curlys will think it is a joke -- SIMPERING FOOLS! -- while my fellow/rival Moes will chuckle along with me at the thought that I'm getting PAID for this.
Bow before me, oh ye pitiful earthbound Larrys and meek Curlys! The MOES shall TRIUMPH, and your cries of poked eyes and the sound effects of your konked heads shall be as music to our ears!
I HAVE SPOKEN.
Mean King Stang, 1985
Fat, Cigar-Chomping, Egotistical Lord over All SubGeniuses in the World After "Bob's" Death, Commander of the Vast Army of Little Dallas Whipping Boys, Abusive Order-Giver to Popes and Other Moes, Crusher of Larrys and Scheming Exploiter of Curlys##