THE FOURTH TRIP, OR CHESED
Jesus Christ On A Bicycle
Mister Order, he runs at a very good pace
But old Mother Chaos is winning the race
–Lord Omar Khayaam Ravenhurst, K.S.C., "The Book of Advice," The Honest Book of Truth
Among those who knew that the true faith of Mohammed was contained in the Ishmaelian teachings, most were sent out into the world to seek positions in the governments of, the Near East and Europe. Since it pleased Allah to decree this task for them, they obeyed willingly; many served thus for their whole lives. Some, however, after five or ten or even twenty years of such fealty to a given shah or caliph or king, would receive, through surreptitious channels, a parchment bearing the symbol: That night, the servant would strike, and disappear like smoke; and the master would be found in the morning, throat cut, with the emblematic Flame Dagger of the Ishmaelians lying beside him. Others were chosen to serve in a different manner, maintaining the palace of Hassan i Sabbah himself at Alamout. These were especially fortunate, for it was their privilege to visit more often than others the Garden of Delights, in which the Lord Hassan himself would, through his command of magic chemicals, transfer them into heaven while they still lived in the body. One day in the year 470 (known to the uncircumcised Christian dogs as 1092 A.D.) another proof of the Lord Hassan's powers was given to them, for they were all summoned to the throne room and there sat the Lord Hassan in all his glory, while before him on the floor lay a plate bearing the head of the disciple Ibn Azif.
"This deluded one," the Lord Hassan declared, "has disobeyed a command- the one crime that cannot be forgiven in our Sacred Order. I show you his head to remind you of the fate of traitors in this world. More; I will instruct you on the fate of such dogs in the next world." So saying, the good and wise Lord Hassan rose from his throne, walking with his characteristic lurching gait, and approached the head. "I command thee," he said. "Speak."
The mouth opened and the head emitted a scream such that all the faithful covered their ears and turned their eyes away, many of them muttering prayers.
"Speak, dog!" the wise Lord Hassan repeated. "Your whine is of no interest to us. Speak!"
"The flames," the head cried. "The terrible flames. Allah, the flames…" it babbled on as a soul will in extreme agony. "Forgiveness," it begged. "Forgiveness, O mighty Lord."
"There is no forgiveness for traitors," said the all-wise Hassan. "Return to hell!" And the head immediately silenced. All bowed down and prayed to Hassan and Allah alike; of the many miracles they had seen this was certainly the greatest and most terrible.
The Lord Hassan then dismissed everyone, saying, "Forget not this lesson. Let it stay in your hearts longer than the names of your fathers."
("We want to recruit you," Hagbard said, 900-odd years later, "because you are so gullible. That is, gullible in the right way.")
Jesus Christ went by on a bicycle. That was my first warning that I shouldn't have taken acid before coming down to Balbo and Michigan to see the action. But it really seemed right, on another level: acid was the only way to relate to that whole Kafka-on-a-bummer example of quote democratic process in action unquote. I found Hagbard in Grant Park, cool as usual, with a bucket of water and a pile of handkerchiefs for the teargas victims. He was near the General Logan statue, watching the more violent confrontations across the street at the Hilton, sucking one of his Italian cigars and looking like Ahab finally finding the whale… Hagbard, in fact, was remembering Professor Tochus at Harvard: "Damn it, Celine, you can't major in naval engineering and law both. You're not Leonardo da Vinci, after all." "But I am," he had replied, poker-faced. "I recall all my past incarnations in detail and Leonardo was one of them." Tochus almost exploded: "Be a wise-ass, then! When you start flunking half your subjects, perhaps you'll come back to reality." The old man had been terribly disappointed to see the long row of As. Across the street, the demonstrators advanced toward the Hilton and the police charged again, clubbing them back; Hagbard wondered if Tochus had ever realized that a professor is a policeman of the intellect. Then he saw the Padre's new disciple, Moon, approaching… "You haven't been clubbed yet," I said, thinking that in a sense Jarry's old presurrealist classic, "The Crucifixion of Christ Considered as an Uphill Bike Race," was really the best metaphor for the circus Daley was running. "Neither have you, I'm glad to see," Hagbard replied: "Judging from your eyes, though; you got teargassed in Lincoln Park last night." I nodded, remembering that I had been thinking of him and his weird Discordian yoga when it happened. Malik, the dumb social-democratic-liberal that John wanted to recruit soon, was only a few feet away, and Burroughs and Ginsberg were near me on the other side. I could see, suddenly, that we were all chessmen, but who was the chessmaster moving us? And how big was the board? Across the street, a rhinoceros moved ponderously, turning into a jeep with a barbed-wire crowd-sticker on the front of it. "My head's leaking," I said.
"Do you have any idea who's picking it up?" Hagbard asked. He was remembering a house lease in Professor Orlock's class. "What it amounts to, in English," Hagbard had said, "is that the tenant has no rights that can be successfully defended in court, and the landlord has no duties on which he cannot, quite safely, default." Orlock looked pained, and several students were shocked, as if Hagbard had suddenly jumped up and exposed his penis in front of the class. "That's putting it too baldly," Orlock said finally… "Itmight be somebody years in the future," I said, "or the past." I wondered if Jarry was picking it up, in Paris, half a century before; that would account for the resemblance. Abbie Hoffman went by just then, talking to Apollonius of Tyana. Were we all in Jarry's mind, or Joyce's? We even have a Sheriff Wood riding herd on us and Rubin's horde of Jerry men… "Fuller's car is a stunt, a showpiece," Professor Caligari fumed, "and, anyway, it has nothing to do with naval architecture." Hagbard looked at him levelly and said, "It has everything to do with naval architecture." As in law school, the other students were disturbed. Hagbard began to understand: they are not here to learn, they are here to acquire a piece of paper that would make them eligible for certain jobs…
"There are only a few more memos." Saul said to Mul-doon. "Let's skim them and then call headquarters to see if Danny found this 'Paf who wrote them,"