What are those images?
Self-immolation is deliberately setting oneself on fire. I picture dramatic protests from the Vietnam era, but it's been going on for centuries:
It was Western media coverage of Buddhist monks immolating themselves in protest of the South Vietnamese regime in 1963 that introduced the word "self-immolation" to a wide English-speaking audience and gave it a strong association with fire. The alternative name bonzo comes from the same era, because the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves were often referred to by the term bonze in English literature prior to the mid-20th century...Bonzo! Most Americans think of that Ronald Reagan movie when we hear "Bonzo." Perhaps some think of Led Zeppelin. But fiery suicide, to make a political point? That's new to me.
A capstone is "a stone that caps or crowns." I'm quoting the OED, where we can see the metaphorical use of the word goes back to 1685: "Here is the fair occasion... to put the cap-stone upon his other perfections" (tr. B. Gracián y Morales Courtiers Oracle 150). By the way, the Great Pyramid is missing its capstone. Ever notice? Makes you want to put an eye there:
Okay, now what about grasping at straws? What's the image there? I realize I've always pictured ants trying to get out of water by climbing onto some bit of straw. Focusing on that for the first time, I can see that grasping at straws would probably work for an ant. You're supposed to picture a human being trying to escape drowning and desperately grasping at anything, no matter how absurdly useless it is. Wiktionary tells me that the image goes back Thomas More, "Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation" (1534). More is talking about people who will not seek the "comfort" of God. Some of them are completely lethargic — "so drowned in sorrow that they fall into a careless deadly dullness." Others are so "testy" and "fuming" that you don't even want to talk to them. Then there are people who do want to be comforted. Some of them "seek for worldly comfort":
He who in tribulation turneth himself unto worldly vanities, to get help and comfort from them, fareth like a man who in peril of drowning catcheth whatsoever cometh next to hand, and that holdeth he fast, be it never so simple a stick. But then that helpeth him not, for he draweth that stick down under the water with him, and there they lie both drowned together. So surely, if we accustom ourselves to put our trust of comfort in the delight of these childish worldly things, God shall for that foul fault suffer our tribulation to grow so great that all the pleasures of this world shall never bear us up, but all our childish pleasure shall drown with us in the depth of tribulation.You know, that eye on the pyramid, as seen on the Great Seal of the United States dollar bill is the "Eye of Providence":
On the seal, the Eye is surrounded by the words Annuit Cœptis, meaning "He approves (or has approved) [our] undertakings", and Novus Ordo Seclorum, meaning "New Order of the Ages". The Eye is positioned above an unfinished pyramid with thirteen steps, representing the original thirteen states and the future growth of the country. The lowest level of the pyramid shows the year 1776 in Roman numerals. The combined implication is that the Eye, or God, favors the prosperity of the United States.Have we gone so deeply into the mixed metaphor that it's all coming together somehow?