If the phrase In the Hall of the Mountain King means anything to most people, it’s as the title to one of the parts of Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite. Cinema buffs may also associate that tune with the movie M, as the music played just as the serial killer played by Peter Lorre strikes.
I was reminded of the phrase while reading this post about Neal Rauhauser over at The Other McCain. Stacy McCain wonders whether Mr. Rauhauser is evil or crazy or both. (My guess is that both is the correct answer.)
Rauhauser thinks of his evil acts as heroic, avenging the wrongs he alleges have been done by the dehumanized scapegoats whom he alternately diminishes (as insignificant “trolls,” etc.) and magnifies as dangerous enemies, as suits his selfish purposes.
I would argue, and this where the Hall of the Mountain King comes in, that what Neal Rauhauser wants to be is King of the Trolls like the character in Act II of the Ibsen play Peer Gynt. After Peer Gynt meets the Troll King’s daughter, the Troll King offers him the opportunity to become a troll—if Peer marries the daughter. Peer declines in the end. An important plot point that is crucial to understanding the play is a question asked by the Troll King: “What is the difference between troll and man?” The answer given is: “Out there, where sky shines, humans say, ‘To thyself be true.’ In here, trolls say, ‘Be true to yourself and to hell with the world.'” Egoism is a defining trait of the trolls in the play.
So it is with Mr. Rauahauser. His seeming lack of empathy might allow him to believe that he is merely following Polonius’ advice (and the Troll Motto)—To Thine Own Self Be True—while ignoring “And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Neal Rauhauser, wannabe King of the Trolls. That might explain a lot.
Oh, and one more thing … Stacy McCain describes Neal Rauhauser as Patient Zero in the Weinergate nonsense. A better description might be the virus.
Yet one more thing … You can tell that I didn’t go to Harvard. I referred to M as a movie instead of a film.