THE SEVENTH TRIP, OR NETZACH
(THE SNAFU PRINCIPLE)
The most thoroughly and relentlessly Damned, banned, excluded, condemned, forbidden, ostracized, ignored, suppressed, repressed, robbed, brutalized and defamed of all Damned Things is the individual human being. The social engineers, statisticians, psychologists, sociologists, market researchers, landlords, bureaucrats, captains of industry, bankers, governors, commissars, kings and presidents are perpetually forcing this Damned Thing into carefully prepared blueprints and perpetually irritated that the Damned Thing will not fit into the slot assigned to it. The theologians call it a sinner and try to reform it The governor calls it a criminal and tries to punish it The psychotherapist calls it a neurotic and tries to cure it. Still, the Damned Thing will not fit into their slots.
–Never Whistle While You're Pissing, by Hagbard Celine, H.M., S.H.
The Midget, whose name was Markoff Chaney, was no relative of the famous Chaneys of Hollywood, but people did keep making jokes about that. It was bad enough to be, by the standards of the gigantic and stupid majority, a freak; how much worse to be so named as to remind these big oversized clods of the cinema's two most famous portrayers of monstro-freaks; by the time the Midget was fifteen, he had built up a detestation for ordinary mankind that dwarfed (he hated that word) the relative misanthropies of Paul of Tarsus, Clement of Alexandria, Swift of Dublin and even Robert Putney Drake. Revenge, for sure, he would have. He would have revenge.
It was in college (Antioch, Yellow Springs, 1962) that Markoff Chaney discovered another hidden joke in his name, and the circumstances were- considering that he was to become the worst headache the Illuminati ever encountered- appropriately synchronistic. It was in a math class, and, since this was Antioch, the two students directly behind the Midget were ignoring the professor and discussing their own intellectual interests; since this was Antioch, they were a good six years ahead of intellectual fads elsewhere. They were discussing ethology.
"So we keep the same instincts as our primate ancestors," one student (he was from Chicago, his name was Moon, and he was crazy even for Antioch) was saying. "But we superimpose culture and law on top of this. So we get split in two, dig? You might say," Moon's voice betrayed pride in the aphorism he was about to unleash, "mankind is a statutory ape."
"… and," the professor, old Fred "Fidgets" Digits, said at just that moment, "when such a related series appears in a random process, we have what is known as a Markoff Chain. I hope Mr. Chaney won't be tormented by jokes about this for the rest of the term, even if the related series of his appearances in class do seem part of a notably random process." The class roared; another ton of bile was entered in the Midget's shit ledger, the list of people who were going to eat turd before he died.
In fact, his cuts were numerous, both in math and in other classes. There were tunes when he could not bear to be with the giants, but hid in his room, Playboy gatefold open, masturbating and dreaming of millions and millions of nubile young women built like Playmates. Today, however, Playboy would avail him not; he needed something raunchier. Ignoring his next class, Physical Anthropology (always good for a few humiliating moments), he hurried across David Street, passed by Atlanta Hope without noticing her, and slammed into his room, chain-bolting the door behind him.
Damn old Fidgets Digits, and damn the science of mathematics itself, the line, the square, the average, the whole measurable world that pronounced him a bizarre random factor. Once and for all, beyond fantasy, in the depth of his soul he declared war on the statutory ape, on law and order, on predictability, on negative entropy. He would be a random factor in every equation; from this day forward, unto death, it would be civil war: the Midget versus the Digits.
He took out the pornographic Tarot deck, which he used when he wanted a really far-out fantasy for his orgasm, and shuffled it thoroughly. Let's have a Mark-off Chain masturbation to start with, he thought with an evil grin.
And, thus, without ever contacting the Legion of Dynamic Discord, the Erisian Liberation Front or even the Justified Ancients of Mummu, Markoff Chaney began his own crusade against the Illuminati, not even knowing that they existed.
His first overt act- his Fort Sumter, as it were- began in Dayton the following Saturday. He was in Norton's Emporium, a glorified 5 amp; 100 store, when he saw the sign:
NO SALESPERSON MAY LEAVE THE FLOOR WITHOUT
THE AUTHORIZATION OF A SUPERIOR.
What!, he thought, are the poor girls supposed to pee in their panties if they can't find a superior? Years of school came back to him ("Please, may I leave the room, sir?") and rituals which had appeared nonsensical suddenly made sense in a sinister way. Mathematics, of course. They were trying to reduce us all to predictable units, robots. Hah! not for nothing had he spent a semester in Professor "Sheets" Kelly's intensive course on textual analysis of modern poetry. The following Wednesday, the Midget was back at Norton's and hiding in a coffee urn when the staff left and locked up. A few moments later, the sign was down and a subtly different one was in its place:
NO SALESPERSON MAY LEAVE THE FLOOR OR GO TO THE
DOOR WITHOUT THE AUTHORIZATION OF A SUPERIOR.
He came back several times in the next few weeks, and the sign remained. It was as he suspected: in a rigid hierarchy, nobody questions orders that seem to come from above, and those at the very top are so isolated from the actual work situation that they never see what is going on below. It was the chains of communication, not the means of production, that determined a social process; Marx had been wrong, lacking cybernetics to enlighten him. Marx was like the engineers of his time, who thought of electricity in terms of work done, before Marconi thought of it in terms of information transmitted. Nothing signed "THE MGT." would ever be challenged; the Midget could always pass himself off as the Management.
At the same tune, he noticed that the workers were more irritable; the shoppers picked this up and became grouchier themselves; sales, he guessed correctly, were falling off. Poetry was the answer: poetry in reverse. His interpolated phrase, with its awkward internal rhyme and its pointlessness, bothered everybody, but in a subliminal, preconscious fashion. Let the market researchers and statisticians try to figure this one out with their computers and averages.
His father had been a stockholder in Blue Sky Inc., generally regarded as the worst turkey on the Big Board (it produced devices to be used in making landings on low-gravity planets); profits had soared when John Fitzgerald Kennedy had announced that the U.S. would put a man on the moon before 1970; the Midget now had a guaranteed annuity amounting to thirty-six hundred dollars per year, three hundred dollars per month. It was enough for his purposes. Revenge, in good measure, he would have. He would have revenge.
Living in Spartan fashion, dining often on a tin of sardines and a pint of milk from a machine, traveling always by Greyhound bus, the Midget crisscrossed the country constantly, placing his improved surrealist signs whenever the opportunity presented itself. A slowly mounting wave of anarchy followed in his wake. The Illuminati never got a fix on him: he had little ego to discover, burning all his energies into Drive, like a dictator or a great painter- but, unlike a dictator or a great painter, he had no desire for recognition. For years, the Illuminati attributed his efforts to the Discordians, the JAMs or the esoteric ELF. Watts went up, and Detroit; Birmingham, Buffalo, Newark, a flaming picnic blanket spread across urban America as the Midget's signs burned in the stores that had flaunted them; one hundred thousand marched to the Pentagon and some of them tried to expel the Demon (the Illuminati foiled that at the last minute, forbidding them to form a circle); a Democratic convention was held behind barbed wire; in 1970 a Senate committee announced that there had been three thousand bombings in the year, or an average of ten per day; by 1973 Morituri groups were forming in every college, every suburb; the SLA came and came back again; Atlanta Hope was soon unable to control God's Lightning, which was going in for its own variety of terrorism years before Illuminati planning had intended.
"There's a random factor somewhere," technicians said at Illuminati International; "There's a random factor somewhere," Hagbard Celine said, reading the data that came out of FUCKUP; "There's a random factor somewhere," the Dealy Lama, leader of ELF, said dreamily in his underground hideout beneath Dealy Plaza.
Drivers on treacherous mountain roads swore in confusion at signs that said:
SLIPPERY WHEN WET
MAINTAIN 50 M.P.H.
FALLING ROCK ZONE
DO NOT LITTER
Men paid high initiation fees to revel in the elegance of all-WASP clubs whose waiters were carefully trained to be almost as snobbish as the members, then felt vaguely let down by signs warning them:
WATCH YOUR HAT AND COAT
NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST PROPERTY.
The Midget became an electronic wizard in his spare tune. All over the country, pedestrians stood undecided on curbs as electric signs said WALK while the light was red and then switched to DON'T WALK when the light Went green. He branched out and expanded his activities; office workers received memos early in the morning (after he had spent a night with a Xerox machine) and puzzled over:
1. All vacation requests must be submitted in triplicate to the Personnel Department at least three weeks before the planned vacation dates.
2. All employees who change their vacation plans must notify Personnel Department by completing Form 1472, Vacation Plan Change, and submitting it three weeks before the change in plans.
3. All vacation plans must be approved by the Department Supervisor and may be changed if they conflict with the vacation plans of employees of higher rank and/or longer tenure.
4. Department Supervisors may announce such cancellations at any time, provided the employee is given 48 hours notice, or two working days, whichever is longer, as the case may be. (Employees crossing the International Date Line, see Form 2317.)
5. Employees may not discuss vacation plans with other employees or trade preferred dates.
6. These few simple rules should prevent a great deal of needless friction and frustration if all
employees cooperate, and we will all have a happy summer.
– THE MGT.
On April 26 of the year when the Illuminati tried to immanentize the Eschaton, the Midget experienced aches, pains, nausea, spots before his eyes, numbness in his legs and dizziness. He went to the hotel doctor, and a short while after describing his symptoms he was rushed in a closed car to a building that had a Hopi Indian Kachina Doll Shop in front and the Las Vegas CIA office in the back. He was fairly delirious by then, but he heard somebody say, "Ha, we're ahead of the FBI and the Cesspool Cleaners on this one." Then he got an injection and began to feel better, until a friendly silver-haired man sat down by his cot and asked who "the girl" was.
"What girl?" the Midget asked irritably.
"Look, son, we know you've been with a girl. She gave you this."
"Was it the clap?" the Midget asked, dumbfounded. Except for his pornographic Tarot cards, he was still a virgin (the giant women were all so damned patronizing, but his own female equivalents bored him; the giantesses were the Holy Grail to him, but he had never had the courage to approach one). "I never knew the clap could be this bad," he added, blushing. His greatest fear was that somebody would discover his virginity.
"No, it wasn't the clap," said the kindly man (who didn't deceive the Midget one bit; if this guy couldn't pump him, he knew, they would send in the mean, tough one; the nice cop and the nasty cop; oldest con in the business). "This girl had a certain, uh, rare disease, and we're with the U.S. Public Health Service." The gentle man produced forged credentials to "prove" this last allegation. Horseshit, the Midget thought. "Now," the sweet old codger went on, "we've got to track her down, and see that she gets the antidote, or a lot of people will get this disease. You understand?"
The Midget understood. This guy was Army Intelligence or CIA and they wanted to crack this before the FBI and get the credit. The disease was started by the government, obviously. Some fuckup in one of their biological war laboratories, and they had to cover it up before the whole country got wise. He hesitated; none of his projects had ever been consciously intended to lead to death, just to make things a little unpredictable and spooky for the giants.
"The U.S. Public Health Service will be eternally grateful to you." the grandfatherly man said, eyes crinkling with sly affection. "It isn't often that a little man gets a chance to do such a big job for his country." That did it.
"Well," the Midget said, "she was blonde, in her mid-twenties I guess, and she told me her name was Sarah. She had a scar on her neck- I suppose somebody tried to cut her throat once. She was, let's see, about five-five and maybe 110-115 pounds. And she was superb at giving head," he concluded, thinking that was a very plausible Las Vegas whore he had just created. His mind was racing rapidly; they wouldn't want people running around loose knowing about this. The antidote had been to keep him alive while they pumped him. He needed insurance. "Oh, and here's a real lead for you," he said "I just remembered. First, I want to explain something about, uh, people who are below average in stature. We're very sexy. You see, our sex gland or whatever it's called works extra, because our growth gland doesn't work. So we never get enough." He was making this up off the top of his head and enjoying it. He hoped it would spread; he had a beautiful vision of bored rich women seeking midgets as they now seek blacks. "So you see," he went on, "I kept her a long time, having encores and encores and encores. Finally, she told me she'd have to raise her price, because she had another customer waiting. I couldn't afford it so I let her go." Now the clincher. "But she mentioned his name. She said, 'Joe Blotz will be pissed if I disappoint him,' only the name wasn't Joe Blotz."
"Well, what was it?"
"That's the problem," the Midget said sadly. "I can't remember. But if you leave me alone awhile," he added brightly, "maybe it'll come back to me." He was already planning his escape.
And, twenty-five hours earlier, George Dorn, quoting Pilate, asked, "What is Truth?" (Barney Muldoon just then, was lounging in the lobby of the Hotel Tudor, waiting for Saul to finish what he had called "a very important, very private conversation" with Rebecca; Nkrumah Fubar was experimentally placing a voodoo doll of the president of American Express inside a tetrahedron- their computer was still annoying him about a bill he'd paid over two months ago, on the very daynight that Soapy Mocenigo dreamed of Anthrax Leprosy Pi; R. Buckminster Fuller, unaware of this new development in his geodesic revolution, was lecturing the Royal Institute of Architects in London and explaining why there were no nouns in the real world; August Personage was breathing into a telephone in New York; Pearson Mohammed Kent was exuberantly balling a female who was not only white but from Texas; the Midget himself was saying "Rude bastard, isn't he?" to Dr. Naismith; and our other characters were variously pursuing their own hobbies, predilections, obsessions and holy missions). But Hagbard, with uncharacteristic gravity, said, "Truth is the opposite of lies. The opposite of most of what you've heard all your life. The opposite of most of what you've heard from me."
They were in Hagbard's funky stateroom and George, after his experience at the demolished Drake mansion, found the octopi and other sea monsters on the wall murals distinctly unappetizing. Hagbard, as usual, was wearing a turtleneck and casual slacks; this time the turtleneck was lavender- an odd, faggoty item for him. George remembered, suddenly, that Hagbard had once told him, about homosexuality, "I've tried it, of course," but added something about liking women better. (Goodness, was that only two mornings ago?) George wondered what it would be like to "try it" and if he would ever have the nerve. "What particular lies," he asked cautiously, "are you about to confess?"
Hagbard lit a pipe and passed it over. "Alamout Black hash," he said croakingly, holding the smoke down. "Hassan i Sabbah's own private formula. Does wonders when heavy metaphysics is coming at you."
George inhaled and felt an immediate hit like cocaine or some other forebrain stimulant. "Christ, what's this shit cut with?" he gasped, as somebody somewhere seemed to turn colored lights on in the gold-and-nautical-green room and on that outasight lavender sweater.
"Oh," Hagbard said casually, "a hint of belladonna and stramonium. That was old Hassan's secret, you know. All that crap in most books about how he had turned his followers on with hash, and they'd never i had it before so they thought it was magic, is unhistorical. Hashish was known in the Mideast since the neolithic age; archeologists have dug it up in tombs. Seems our ancestors buried their priests with a load of hash to help them negotiate with their gods when they got to Big Rock Candy Mountain or wherever they thought they were going. Hassan's originality was blending hashish with just the right chemical cousins to produce a new synergetic effect."
"What's synergetic?" George asked slowly, feeling seasick for the first time aboard the Leif Erikson.
"Nonadditive. When you put two and two together and get five instead of four. Buckminster Fuller uses synergetic gimmicks all the time in his geodesic domes. That's why they're stronger than they look." Hagbard took another toke and passed the pipe again.
What the hell? George thought. Sometimes increasing the dose got you past the nausea. He toked, deeply. Hadn't they started out to discuss Truth, though?
George giggled. "Just as I suspected. Instead of using your goddam prajna or whatever it is to spy on the Illuminati, you're just another dirty old man. You use it to play Peeping Tom in other people's heads."
"Heads?" Hagbard protested, laughing. "I never scan the heads. Who the hell wants to watch people eliminating their wastes?"
"I thought you were going to be Socrates," George howled between lunatic peals of tin giggles, "and I was prepared to be Plato, or at least Glaucon or one of the minor characters. But you're as stoned as I am. You can't tell me anything important. All you can do is make bad puns."
"The pun," Hagbard replied with dignity (ruined somewhat by an unexpected chortle), "is mightier than the sword. As James Joyce once said."
"Don't get pedantic."
"Can I get semantic?"
"Yes. You can get semantic. Or antic. But not pedantic."
"Where were we?"
"Yes. Well, Truth is like marijuana, my boy. A drug on the market."
"I'm getting a hard-on."
"You too? That's the way the balling bounces. At least, with Alamout Black. Nausea, then microamnesia, then the laughing jag, then sex. Be patient. The clear light comes next. Then we can discuss Truth. As if we haven't been discussing it all along."
"You're a hell of a guru, Hagbard. Sometimes you sound even dumber than me."
"If the Elder Malaclypse were here, he'd tell you a few about some other gurus. And geniuses. Do you think Jesus never whacked off? Shakespeare never got on a crying jag at the Mermaid Tavern? Buddha never picked his nose? Gandhi never had the crabs?"
"I've still got a hard-on. Can't we postpone the philosophy while I go look for Stella- I mean, Mavis?"
"What is Truth?"
"Up in the cortex it makes a difference to you whether it's Stella or Mavis. Down in the glands, no difference. My grandmother would do as well."
"That's not Truth. That's just cheap half-assed Freudian cynicism."
"Oh, yes. You saw the mandala with Mavis."
"And you were inside my head somehow. Dirty voyeur."
"This will never take its place beside the Platonic Dialogues, not in a million years. We're both stoned out of our gourds."
"I love you, George."
"I guess I love you, too. You're so damned overwhelming. Everybody loves you. Are we gonna fuck?"
(Mavis had said, "Wipe the come off your trousers." Fantasizing Sophia Loren while he masturbated. Or fantasizing that he masturbated while actually…)
"No. You don't need it. You're starting to remember what really happened in Mad Dog jail."
"Oh, no." Coin's enormous, snaky cock… the pain… the pleasure…
"I'm afraid so."
"Damn it, now I'll never know. Did you put that in my head, or did it really happen? Did I fantasize the interruption then or did I fantasize the rape just now?"
"Did you say that twice or did I just hear it twice?"
"What do you think?"
"I don't know. I don't know, right now. I just don't know. Is this some devious homosexual seduction?"
"Maybe. Maybe it's a murder plot. Maybe I'm leading up to cutting your throat."
"I wouldn't mind. I've always had a big self-destructive urge. Like all cowards. Cowardice is a defense against suicide."
Hagbard laughed. "I never knew a young man who had so much pussy and risked death so often. And there you sit, still worrying about being whatever it was they called you when you first started letting your hair grow long in your early teens."
"Sissy. That was the word in good old Nutley, New Jersey. It meant both faggot and coward. So I've never cut my hair since then, to prove they couldn't intimidate me."
"Yeah. I'm tracking a black guy now, a musician, who's balling a white lady, a fair flower from Texas. Partly, because she really turns him on. But partly because she could have a brother who might come after him with a gun. He's proving they can't intimidate him."
"That's the Truth? We spend all our time proving we can't be intimidated? But all the time we are intimidated on another level?" The colors were coming back strong again; it was that kind of trip. Every time you thought you were the pilot, it would go off in an unexpected direction to remind you that you were just a passenger.
"That's part of the Truth, George. Another part is that every time you think you're intimidated you're really rebelling on another level. Oh, what idiots the IIluminati really are, George. I once collected statistics on industrial accidents in a sample city- Birmingham, England, actually. Fed all the relevant facts into FUCKUP and got just what I expected. Sabotage. Unconscious sabotage. Every case was a blind insurrection. Every man and woman is in rebellion, but only a few have the guts to admit it. The others jam the system by accident, har har har, or by stupidity, har har har again. Let me tell you about the Indians, George."
"Did you ever wonder why nothing works right? Why the whole world seems completely fucked up all the time?"
"Yeah. Doesn't everybody?"
"I suppose so. Pardon me, I've got to get more stoned. In a little while, I go into FUCKUP and we put our heads together- literally, I attach electrodes to my temples- and I'll try to track down the problem in Las Vegas. I don't spend all my time on random voyeurism," Hagbard pronounced with dignity. He refilled the pipe, asking pettishly, "Where was I?"
"The Indians in Birmingham. How did they get there?"
"There weren't any fucking Indians in Birmingham. You're getting me confused." Hagbard toked deeply.
"You're getting yourself confused. You're bombed out of your skull."
"Look who's talking."
Hagbard toked again. "The Indians. The Indians weren't in Birmingham. Birmingham was where I did the study that convinced me most industrial accidents are unconscious sabotage. So are most misfiled documents among white-collar workers, I'd wager. The Indians are another story. I was a lawyer once, when I first came to your country and before I went in for piracy. I usually don't admit that, George. I usually tell people I played the piano in a whorehouse or something else not quite so disreputable as the truth. If you want to know why nothing makes sense in government forms, remember there are two hundred thousand lawyers working for the bureaucracy these days.
"The Indians were a band of Shoshones. I was defending them against the Great Land Thief, or as it pretentiously titles itself, the Government, in Washington. We were having a conference. You know what an Indian conference is like? Nobody talks for hours sometimes. A good yoga. When somebody does finally speak, you can be sure it comes from the heart. That old movie stereotype, 'White man speak with forked tongue,' has a lot of truth in it. The more you talk, the more your imagination colors things. I'm one of the most long-winded people alive and one of the worst liars." Hagbard toked again and finally held the pipe out inquiringly; George shook his head. "But the story I wanted to tell was about an archeologist. He was hunting for relics of the Devonian culture, the Indians who lived in North America just before the ecological catastrophe of 10,000 B.C. He found what he thought was a burial mound and asked to dig into it. Grok this, George. The Indians looked at him. They looked at me. They looked at each other. Then the oldest man spoke and, very gravely, gave permission. The archeologist hefted his pick and shovel and went at it like John Henry trying to beat that steam drill. In two minutes he disappeared. Right into a cesspool. Then the Indians laughed.
"Grok, George. I knew them as well as any white man ever knows Indians. They had learned to trust me, and I, them. And yet I sat there, while they played their little joke, and I didn't get a hint of what was about to happen. Even though I had begun to discover my telepathic talents and even focus them a little. Think about it, George. Think about all the pokerfaced blacks you've seen. Think about every time a black has done something so fantastically, outrageously stupid that you had a flash of racism- which, being a radical, you were ashamed of, right?-and wondered if maybe they are inferior. And think of ninety-nine percent of the women in the Caucasian world, outside Norway, who do the Dumb Dora or Marilyn Monroe act all the time. Think a minute, George. Think."
There was a silence that seemed to stretch into some long hall of near-Buddhist emptiness-George recognized a glimpse, at last!, into the Void all his acidhead friends had tried to describe- and then he remembered this was not the trip Hagbard was pushing him toward. But the silence lingered as a quietness of spirit, a calm in the tornado of those last few days, and George found himself ruminating with total dispassion, without hope or dread or smugness or guilt; if not totally without ego, or in full darshana, at least without the inflamed and voracious ego that usually either leaped forward or shrunk back from naked fact. He contemplated his memories and was unmoved, objective, at peace. He thought of blacks and women and of their subtle revenges against their Masters, acts of sabotage that could not be recognized clearly as such because they took the form of acts of obedience; he thought of the Shoshone Indians and their crude joke, so similar to the jokes of oppressed peoples everywhere; he saw, suddenly, the meaning of Mardi Gras and the Feast of Fools and the Saturnalia and the Christmas Office Party and all the other limited, permissible, structured occasions on which Freud's Return of the Repressed was allowed; he remembered all the times he had gotten his own back against a professor, a high school principal, a bureaucrat, or, further back, his own parents, by waiting for the occasion when, by doing exactly what he was told, he could produce some form of minor catastrophe. He saw a world of robots, marching rigidly in the paths laid down for them from above, and each robot partly alive, partly human, waiting its chance to drop its own monkey wrench into the machinery. He saw, finally! why everything in the world seemed to work wrong and the Situation Normal was All Fucked Up. "Hagbard," he said slowly. "I think I get it. Genesis is exactly backwards. Our troubles started from obedience, not disobedience. And humanity is not yet created."
Hagbard, more hawk-faced than ever, said carefully, "You are approaching Truth. Walk cautiously now, George. Truth is not, as Shakespeare would have it, a dog that can be whipped out to kennel. Truth is a tiger. Walk cautiously, George." He turned in his chair, slid open a drawer in his Danish Modern quasi-Martian desk and took out a revolver. George watched, as cool and alone as a man atop Everest, as Hagbard opened the chamber and showed six bullets inside. Then, with a snap, the gun was closed and placed on the desk blotter. Hagbard did not glance at it again. He watched George; George watched the pistol. It was the scene with Carlo all over again, but Hagbard's challenge was unspoken, gnomic; his level glance did not even admit that a contest had begun. The gun glittered maliciously; it whispered of all the violence and stealth in the world, treacheries undreamed of by Medici or Machiavelli, traps set for victims who were innocent and blameless; it seemed to fill the room with an aura of its presence, and yes, it even had the more subtle menace of a knife, weapon of the sneak, or of a whip in the hands of a man whose smile is too sensual, too intimate, too knowing; into the middle of George's tranquility it had come, inescapable and unexpected as a rattlesnake hi the path on the afternoon of the sweetest spring day in the world's most manicured and artificial garden. George heard the adrenalin begin to course into his bloodstream; saw the "activation syndrome" moisten his palms, accelerate his heart, loosen his sphincter a micrometer; and still, high and cool on his mountain, felt nothing.
"The robot," he said, glancing finally at Hagbard, "is easily upset"
"Don't put your hand in that fire," Hagbard warned, unimpressed. "You'll get burned." He watched; he waited; George could not tear his glance from those eyes and in them, then, he saw the merriment of Howard, the dolphin, the contempt of his grade school principal ("A high IQ, Dorn, does not justify arrogance and insubordination"), the despairing love of his mother, who could never understand him, the emptiness of Nemo, his tomcat of childhood days, the threat of Billy Holtz, the school bully, and the total otherness of an insect or a serpent. More: he saw the child Hagbard, proud like himself of intellectual superiority and frightened like himself of the malice of stupider but brawnier boys, and the very old Hagbard, years hence, wrinkled as a reptile but still showing an endless searching intelligence. The ice melted; the mountain, with a roar of protest and defiance, crumbled; and George was borne down, down in the river racing toward the rapids where the gorilla howled and the mouse trotted quickly, where the saurian head raised above the Triassic foliage, where the sea slept and the spirals of DNA curled backward toward the flash that was this radiance now, this raging eternally against the quite impossible dying of the light, this storm and this centering.
"Hagbard…" he said at last.
"I know. I can see it. Just don't fall back into that other thing. It's the Error of the Illuminati."
George smiled weakly, still not quite back into the world of words. " 'Eat and ye shall be as gods'?" he said.
"I call it the no-ego ego trip. It's the biggest ego trip of all, of course. Anybody can learn it. A child of two months, a dog, a cat. But when an adult rediscovers it, after the habit of obedience and submission has crushed it out of him for years or decades, what happens can be a total disaster. That's why the Zen Roshis say, 'One who achieves supreme illumination is like an arrow flying straight to hell.' Keep in mind what I said about caution, George. You can release at any moment. It's great up there, and you need a mantra to keep you away from it until you learn how to use it. Here's your mantra, and if you knew the peril you are in you'd brutally burn it into your backside with a branding iron to make sure you'd never forget it: I Am The Robot. Repeat it."
"I Am The Robot."
Hagbard made a face like a baboon and George laughed again, at last. "When you get tune," Hagbard said, "look into my little book, Never Whistle While You're Pissing-there are copies all over the ship. That's my ego tip. And keep it in mind: you are the robot and you'll never be anything else. Of course, you're also the programmer, and even the meta-programmer; but that's another lesson, for another day. For now, just remember the mammal, the robot."
"I know," George said. "I've read T. S. Eliot, and now I understand him. 'Humility is endless.'"
"And humanity is created. The… other… is not human."
George said then, "So I've arrived. And it's just another starting place. The beginning of another trip. A harder trip."
"That's another meaning in Heracleitus. "The end is the beginning.'" Hagbard rose and shook himself like a dog. "Wow," he said. "I better get to work with FUCKUP. You can stay here or go to your own room, but I suggest that you don't rush off and talk about your experience to somebody else. You can talk it to death that way."
George remained in Hagbard's room and reflected on what had happened. He had no urge to scribble in his diary, the usual defense against silence and aloneness since his early teens. Instead, he savored the stillness of the room and of his inner core. He remembered Saint Francis of Assisi called his body "Brother Ass," and Timothy Leary used to say when exhausted, "The robot needs sleep." Those had been their mantras, their defenses against the experience of the mountaintop and the terrible arrogance it triggered. He remembered, too, the old classic underground press ad: "Keep me high and I'll ball you forever." He felt sorry for the woman who had written that: pitiful modern version of the maddened Saint Simon on his pillar in the desert. And Hagbard was right: any dog or cat could do it, could make the jump to the mountaintop and wait without passion until the robot, Brother Ass, survived the ordeal or perished in it. That was what primitive rites of initiation were all about- driving the youth through sheer terror to the point of letting go, the mountaintop point, and then bringing him back down again. George suddenly understood how his generation, in rediscovering the sacred drugs, had failed to rediscover their proper use… had failed, or had been prevented. The Illuminati, it was clear, didn't want any competition in the godmanship business.
You could talk it to death in your own head as well as in conversation, he realized, but he went back over it again trying to dissect it without mutilating it. The homosexuality bit had been a false front (with its own reality, of course, like all false fronts). Behind that was the conditioned terror against the Robot: the fear, symbolized in Frankenstein and dozens of other archetypes, that if it were let loose, unrestrained, the Robot would run amok, murder, rape, go mad… And then Hagbard had waited until the Alamout Black brought him to freedom, showed him the peak, the place where the cortex at last could idle, as a car motor or a dog or cat idles, the last refuge where the catatonic hides. When George was safely in that harbor, Hagbard produced the gun- in a more primitive, or more sophisticated, society, it would have been the emblem of a powerful demon- and George saw that he could, indeed, idle there and not blindly follow the panic signals from the Robot's adrenalin factory. And, because he was a human and not a dog, the experience had been ecstasy to him, and temptation, so Hagbard, with a few words and a glance from those eyes, pushed him off the peak into… what?
Reconciliation was the word. Reconciliation with the robot, with the Robot, with himself. The peak was not a victory; it was the war, the eternal war against the Robot, carried to a higher and more dangerous level. The end of the war was his surrender, the only possible end to that war, since the Robot was three billion years old and couldn't be killed.
There were two great errors in the world, he perceived: the error of the submissive hordes, who fought all their lives to control the Robot and please their masters (and who always sabotaged every effort without knowing it, and were in turn sabotaged by the Robot's Revenge: neuroses, psychoses and all the tiresome list of psychosomatic ailments); and the error of those who recaptured the animal art of letting the Robot run itself, and who then tried to maintain this split from their own flesh indefinitely, until they were lost forever in that eternally widening chasm. One sought to batter the Robot to submission, the other to slowly starve it; both were wrong.
And yet, on another plane of his still-zonked mind, George knew that even this was a half truth; that he was, indeed, just beginning his journey, not arriving at his destination. He rose and walked to the bookshelves and, as he expected, found a stack of Hagbard's little pamphlets on the bottom: Never Whistle While You're Pissing, by Hagbard Celine, H.M., S.H. He wondered what the H.M. and S.H. stood for, then flipped open to the first page, where he found only the large question:
IS THE ONE MORE TRUSTWORTHY
ALL THE BUDDHAS
George laughed out loud. The Robot, of course. Me. George Dorn. All three billion years' worth of evolution in every gene and chromosome of me. And that, of course, was what the Illuminati (and all the petty would-be Illuminati who made up power structures everywhere) never wanted a man or woman to realize.
George turned to the second page and began reading:
If you whistle while you're pissing, you have two minds where one is quite sufficient. If you have two minds, you are at war with yourself. If you are at war with yourself, it is easy for an external force to defeat you. This is why Mong-tse wrote, "A man must destroy himself before others can destroy him."
That was all, except for an abstract drawing on page three that seemed to suggest an enemy figure moving out toward the viewer. About to turn to page four, George got a shock: from another angle, the drawing was two figures engaged in attacking each other. I and It. The Mind and the Robot. His memory leaped back twenty-two years and he saw his mother lean over the crib and remove his hand from his penis. Christ, no wonder I grab it when I'm frightened: the Robot's Revenge, the Return of the Repressed.
George started to turn the page again, and saw another trick in Hagbard's abstraction: from a third angle, it might be a couple making love. In a flash, he saw his mother's face above his crib again, in better focus, and recognized the concern in her eyes. The cruel hand of repression was moved by love: she was trying to save him from Sin.
And Carlo, dead three years now, together with the rest of that Morituri group- what had inspired Carlo when he and the four others (all of them less than eighteen, George remembered) blasted their way into a God's Lightning rally and killed three cops and four Secret Service agents in their attempts to gun down the Secretary of State? Love, nothing but mad love…
The door opened and George tore his eyes from the text. Mavis, back again in her sweater and slacks outfit, walked in. For a proclaimed right-wing anarchist, she sure dresses a lot like a New Leftist, George thought; but then Hagbard wrote like a cross between Reichian Leftist and an egomaniacal Zen Master- there was obviously more to the Discordian philosophy than he could grasp yet, even though he was now convinced it was the system he himself had been groping toward for many years.
"Mmm," she said, "I like that smell. Alamout Black?"
"Yeah," George said, having trouble meeting her eyes. "Hagbard's been illuminating me."
"I can tell. Is that why you suddenly feel uncomfortable with me?"
George met her eyes, then looked away again; there was tenderness there but it was, as he had expected, sisterly at best. He muttered, "It's just that I realize our sex" (why couldn't he say fucking or, at least, balling?) "was less important to you than to me."
Mavis took Hagbard's chair and smiled at him affectionately. "You're lying, George. You mean it was more important to me than to you." She began to refill the pipe; Christ God, George thought, did Hagbard send her in to take me to the next stage, whatever it is?
"Well, I guess I mean both," he said cautiously. "You were more emotionally involved than I was then, but now I'm more emotionally involved. And I know that what I want, I can't have. Ever."
"Ever is a long time. Let's just say you can't have it now."
" 'Humility is endless,' " George repeated.
"Don't start feeling sorry for yourself. You've discovered that love is more than a word in poetry, and you want it right away. You just had two other things that used to be just words to you- sunyata and satori. Isn't that enough for one day?"
"I'm not complaining. I know that 'humility is endless' also means surprise is endless. Hagbard promised me a happy truth and that's it."
Mavis finally got the pipe lit and, after toking deeply, passed it over. "You can have Hagbard," she said.
George, sipping very lightly since he was still fairly high, mumbled "Hm?"
"Hagbard will love you as well as ball you. Of course, it's not the same. He loves everybody. I'm not at that stage yet. I can only love my equals." She grinned wickedly. "Of course, I can still get horny about you. But now that you know there's more than that, you want the whole package deal, right? So try Hagbard."
George laughed, feeling suddenly lighthearted. "Okay! I will."
"Bullshit," Mavis said bluntly. "You're putting us both on. You've liberated some of the energies and right away, like everybody else at this stage, you want to prove that there are no blocks anywhere anymore. That laugh was not convincing, George. If you have a block, face it. Don't pretend it isn't there."
Humility is endless, George thought. "You're right," he said, unabashed.
"That's better. At least you didn't fall into feeling guilty about the block. That's an infinite regress. The next stage is to feel guilty about feeling guilty… and pretty soon you're back in the trap again, trying to be the governor of the nation of Dorn."
"The Robot," George said.
Mavis toked and said, "Mm?"
"I call it the Robot."
"You picked that up from Leary back in the mid-'60s. I keep forgetting you were a child prodigy. I can just see you, with your eyeglasses and your shoulders all hunched, poring over one of Tim's books when you were eight or nine. You must have been quite a child. They've sure mauled you over since then, haven't they?"
"It happens to most prodigies. And nonprodigies, too, for that matter."
"Yeah. Eight years' grade school, four high school, four college, then postgraduate studies. Nothing left but the Robot at the end. The ever-rebellious nation of Me with poor old I sitting on the throne trying to govern it."
"There's no governor anywhere," George quoted.
"You are coming along nicely."
"That's Chuang Chou, the Taoist philosopher. But I never understood him before."
"So that's where Hagbard stole it! He has little cards that say, 'There is no enemy anywhere.' And ones that say, 'There is no friend anywhere.' He said once he could tell in two minutes which card was right for a particular person. To jolt them awake."
"But words alone can't do it. I've known most of the words for years…"
"Words can help. In the right situation. If they're the wrong words. I mean, the right words. No, I do mean the wrong words."
They laughed, and George said, "Are we just goofing, or are you taking up the liberation of the nation of Dorn where Hagbard left off?"
"Just goofing. Hagbard did tell me that you had passed one of the gateless gates and that I might drop in, after you had a while alone."
"A gateless gate. That's another one I've known for years, without understanding it. The gateless gate and the governorless nation. The chief cause of socialism is
capitalism. What the hell does that bloody apple have to do with all this?"
"The apple is the world. Who did Goddess say owns it?"
" 'The prettiest one.' "
"Who is the prettiest one?"
"Don't make a pass right now. Think."
George giggled. "I've been through too much already. I think I'm getting sleepy. I have two answers, one communist and one fascist. Both are wrong, of course. The correct answer has to fit in with your anarcho-capitalism."
"Not necessarily. Anarcho-capitalism is just our trip. We don't mean to impose it on everybody. We have an alliance with an anarcho-communist group called the JAMs. John Dillinger's their leader."
"Come off it. Dillinger died in 1935 or something."
"John Dillinger is alive and well today, in California, Fernando Poo and Texas," Mavis smiled. "As a matter of fact, he shot John F. Kennedy."
"Give me another toke. If I have to listen to this, I might as well be in a state where I won't try to understand it."
Mavis passed the pipe. "The prettiest one has quite a few levels to it, like all good jokes. I'll give you the Freudian one, as beginners. You know the prettiest one, George. You gave it to the apple just yesterday.
"Every man's penis is the prettiest thing in the world to him. From the day he's born until the day he dies. It never loses its endless fascination. And, I kid you not, baby, the same is true of every woman and her pussy. It's the closest thing to a real, blind, helpless love and religious adoration that most people ever achieve. But they'd rather die than admit it. Homosexuality, the urge to kill, petty spites and treacheries, fantasies of sadism, masochism, transvestism, any weird thing you can name, they'll confess all that in a group therapy session. But that deep submerged constant narcissism, that perpetual mental masturbation, is the earliest and most powerful block. They'll never admit it."
"From what I've read of psychiatric literature, I thought most people had rather squeamish and negative feelings about their genitals."
"That, to quote Freud himself, is a reaction formation. The primordial emotional tone, from the day the infant discovers the incredible pleasure centers there, is perpetual astonishment, awe and delight. No matter how much society tries to crush it and repress it. For instance, everybody has some pet name for their genitals. What's yours?"
"Polyphemus," he confessed.
"Because it has one eye, you know? Also, Polyphemus rhymes with penis, I guess. I mean, I can't remember exactly what my mental process was when I invented that in my early teens."
"Polyphemus was a giant, too. Almost a god. You see what I mean about the primary emotional tone? It's the origin of all religion. Adoration of your own genitals and of your lover's genitals. There's Pan Pangeni-tor and the Great Mother."
"So," George said owlishly, still not sure whether this was profundity or nonsense, "the earth belongs to our genitalia?"
"To their offspring, and their offspring's offspring, and so on, forever. The world is a verb, not a noun."
"The prettiest one is three billion years old."
"You've got it, baby. We're all tenants here, including the ones who think they're owners. Property is impossible."
"Okay, okay, I think I've got most of it. Property is theft because the Illuminati land titles are arbitrary and unjust. And so are their banking charters and railroad franchises and all the other monopoly games of capitalism-"
"Of state capitalism. Not of true laissez-faire."
"Wait. Property is impossible because the world is a verb, a burning house as Buddha said. All things are fire. My old pal Heracleitus. So property is theft and property is impossible. How do we get to property is liberty?"
"Without private property there can be no private decisions."
"So we're back where we started from?"
"No, we're one flight higher up on the spiral staircase. Look at it that way. Dialectically, as your Marxist Mends say."
"But we care back at private property. After proving it's an impossible fiction."
"The Statist form of private property is an impossible fiction. Just like the Statist form of communal property is an impossible fiction. Think outside the State framework, George. Think of property in freedom."
George shook his head. "It beats the hell out of my ass. All I can see is people ripping each other off. The war of all against all, as what's-his-name said."
"Hobbes, snobs, jobs. Whoever. Or whatever. Isn't he right?"
"Stop the motor on this submarine."
"Force me to love you."
"Wait, I don't…"
"Turn the sky green or red, instead of blue."
"I still don't get it."
Mavis took a pen off the desk and held it between two fingers. "What happens when I let go of this?"
"Where do you sit if there are no chairs?"
"On the floor?" If Iwasn't so stoned, I would have had it by then. Sometimes drugs are more a hindrance than a help. "On the ground?" I added.
"On your ass, that's for sure." Mavis said. "The point is, if the chairs all go away, you still sit. Or you build new chairs." She was stoned, too; otherwise she'd be explaining it better, I realized. "But you can't stop the motor without learning something about marine engineering first. You don't know what switch to pull. Or switches. And you can't change the sky. And the pen will fall without a gravity-governing demon rushing into the room to make it fall."
"Shit and pink petunias," I said disgustedly. "Is this some form of Thomism? Are you trying to sell me the Natural Law argument? I can't buy that at all."
"Okay, George. Here's the next jolt. Keep your asshole tight." She spoke to the wall, to a hidden microphone, I guessed. "Send him in now."
The Robot is easily upset; my sphincter was already tightening as soon as she warned me there was a jolt coming and she didn't really need to add that bit about my asshole. Carlo and his gun. Hagbard and his gun. Drake's mansion. I took a deep breath and waited to see what the Robot would do.
A panel in the wall opened and Harry Coin was pushed into the room. I had time to think that I should have guessed, in this game where both sides were playing with illusion constantly, Coin's death could have been faked, artificial intestines dangling and all, and of course Mavis and her raiders could have taken him out of Mad Dog jail even before they took me out of course, and I remembered the pain when he slapped my face and when his cock entered me, and the Robot was already moving, and I hardly had time to aim of course, and then his head was banging against the wall, blood spurting from his nose, and I had time to clip him again on the jaw as he went down of course, and then I came all the way back and stopped myself as I was about to kick him in the face as he lay there unconscious. Zen in the art of face-punching. I had knocked a man out with two blows; I who hated Hemingway and Machismo so much that I'd never taken a boxing lesson in my life. I was breathing hard, but it was good and clean, the feeling of after-an-orgasm; the adrenalin was flowing, but a fight reflex instead of a flight reflex had been triggered, and now it over, and I was calm. A glint in the air: Hagbard's pistol was in Mavis's hand, then flying toward me. As I caught it, she said, "Finish the bastard."
But the rage had ended when I held back the kick on seeing him already unconscious.
"No," I said. "It is finished."
"Not until you kill him. You're no good to us until you're ready to kill, George."
I ignored her and rapped on the wall. "Haul the bastard out," I said clearly. The panel opened, and two Slavic-looking seamen, grinning, grabbed Coin's arms and dragged him out. The panel closed again, quietly.
"I don't kill on command," I said, turning back to Mavis. "I'm not a German shepherd or a draftee. My case with him is settled, and if you want him dead, do the dirty work yourself."
But Mavis was smiling placidly. "Is that a Natural Law?" she asked.
And twenty-three hours later Tobias Knight listened to the voice in his earphones: "That's the problem. I can't remember. But if you leave me alone for a while maybe it'll come back to me." Smoothing his mustache nervously, Knight set the button for automatic record, removed the earphones and buzzed Esperando Despond's office.
"Despond," the intercom said.
"The CIA has one. A man who was with the girl after Mocenigo. Send somebody down for the tape- it's got a pretty good description of the girl."
"Wilco," Despond said tersely. "Anything else?"
"He thinks he might remember the name of her next customer. She mentioned it to him. We might get that, too."
"Let's hope so," Despond said and clicked off. He sat back in his chair and addressed the three agents in his office. "The guy we've got- what's his name? Naismith- is probably the next customer. We'll check the two descriptions of the girl against each other and get a much more accurate picture than the CIA has, since they're working from only one description."
But fifteen minutes later, he was staring in puzzlement at the chart which had been chalked on the blackboard:
???? DESCRIPTIONS OF SUSPECT
???? First WitnessSecond Witness
???? Height 5'2" 5'5"
???? Weight 90-100 lbs 110-115 lbs
???? Hair Black Blond
???? Race Negro Caucasian
???? Name or alias Bonnie Sarah
???? Scars, etc. None Scar on throat
???? Age Late teens Mid-twenties
???? Sex Female Female
A tall, bearish agent named Roy Ubu said thoughtfully, "I've never seen two eyewitness descriptions match exactly, but this. .."
A small, waspish agent named Buzz Vespa snapped, "One of them is lying for some reason. But which one?"
"Neither of them has any reason to lie," Despond said. "Gentlemen, we've got to face the facts. Dr. Mocenigo was unworthy of the trust that the U.S. government placed in him. He was a degenerate sex maniac. He had two women last night, one of them a Nigra."
"What do you mean that little sawed-off bastard is gone?" Peter Kurten of the CIA was shouting at that very moment. "The only way out of his room was right through that door, there, and we've all had it under constant surveillance. The door was only opened once when DeSalvo took out the coffee urn to have it refilled at the sandwich shop next door. Oh… my… God… the… coffee… urn.. ." As he slumped back in his chair, mouth hanging open, an agent with a device that looked like a mine sweeper stepped forward.
"Daily sweep for FBI bugs, sir," he said uncomfortably. "I'm afraid the machine is registering one under your desk. If you'll let me just reach in and… uh…that gets it…"
And Tobias Knight, listening, heard no more. It would be a few hours, at least, until their man in the CIA was able to plant a new bug.
And Saul Goodman stepped hard on the brakes of his rented Ford Brontosaurus as a tiny and determined figure, dashing out of the Papa Mescalito Sandwich Shop, ran right in front of the fender. Saul heard a sickening thud and Barney Muldoon's voice beside him saying, "Oh Christ, no…"
I was at the end of my ropes. The Syndicate I could see, but why the Feds? I was flabbygastered. I said to that dumb cunt Bonnie Quint, "Are you a thousand percent sure?"
"Carmel," she says. "I know the Syndicate. They're not that smooth. These guys were just what they claimed. Feds."
Oh, Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus with egg in his beard. I couldn't help myself, I just hauled off and bopped her in the kisser, the dumb cunt. "What'd you tell them?" I screamed. "What'd you tell them?"
She started to snivel. "I didn't tell them nothing," she says.
So I had to bop her again. Christ, I hate hitting women, they always blubber so much. "I'll use the belt," I howled. "So help me, God, I'll use the belt Don't tell me you didn't tell them nothing. Everybody tells them something. Even a clam would sing like Sinatra when they're finished with him. So what'd you tell them?" I bopped her again, Christ, this was terrible.
"I just told them I wasn't with this Mocenigo. Which I wasn't."
"So who did you tell them you were with?"
"I made up a prescription. A midget. A guy I saw on the street. I wouldn't give the name of a real John, I know that could come back against you. And me."
I didn't know what to do, so I bopped her again. "Go away," I says. "Be missing. Let me think."
She goes out, still blubbering, and I go over to the window and look at the desert to calm my head. My rose fever was starting to act up; it was that time of year. Why did people have to bring roses to the desert? I tried to contemplate hard on the problem and forget my health. There was only one explanation: that damned Mocenigo figured out that Sherri was pumping him and told the Feds. The Syndicate wasn't in it yet They were all still running around the East like chickens with their legs cut off, trying to figure who rubbed Maldonado, and why it happened at the house of a straight like this banker Drake. So they hadn't got the time yet to find out that five million of Banana Nose's money had disappeared into my own safe as soon as I heard he was dead. The Feds weren't in on that at all, and the connection was circumsubstantial.
And then it hit me so hard that I almost fell over. Besides my own girls, who wouldn't talk, there were a dozen or two cab drivers and bartenders and whatnots who knew that Sherri worked for me. The Feds would get it out of somebody sooner or later, and probably sooner. It was like a light bulb going on over my head in a comic strip: TREASON. AIDING AND ABEDDING THE ENEMY. I remembered from when I was a kid those two Jewish scientists who the Feds got for that. The hot squat. They fried them, Christ Jesus, I thought I'd vomit. Why does the fucking government have to be that way about somebody just trying to make a buck? Even the Syndicate would only shoot you or give you a lead enema, but the cocksucking government has to go and put you in an electrical chair. Christ Jesus, I was hot as a chimney.
I took a candy out of my pocket and started chewing it, trying to think what to do. If I ran, the Syndicate would guess I was the one who emptied the till when Maldonado was rubbed, and they'd get me. If I didn't run, the Feds would be at the door with a high treason warrant. It was a double whammy. I might try to highjack a plane to Panama, but I didn't know nearly enough about Mocenigo's bugs to make a deal with the Commie government down there. They'd just send me right back. It was hopeless, like trying to fill a three-card inside straight. The only thing to do was find a hole and bury myself.
And then it was just like a light bulb in my head again, and I thought: Lehman Cave.
"What does the computer say now?" the President asked the Attorney General.
"What does the computer say now?" the Attorney General barked into the open phone before him.
"If the girl had two contacts before she died, at this moment the possible carriers number," the phone paused, "428,000. If the girl had three contacts, 7,656,000."
"Get the Special Agent in Charge," the President snapped. He was the calmest man at the table- ever since Fernando Poo, he had been supplementing his Librium, Tofranil and Elovil with Demerol, the amazing little pills that had kept Hermann Goering so chipper and cheerful during the Nuremberg Trials while all the other Nazis crumbled into catatonic, paranoid or other dysfunctional conditions.
"Despond," a second open phone said.
"This is your President," the President said. "Give it to us straight. Have you treed the coon?"
"Uh, sir, no, sir. We have to find the procurer, sir. The girl can't possibly be alive, but we haven't found her. It is now mathematically certain that somebody hid her body. The obvious theory, sir, is that her procurer, being in an illegal business, hid the body rather than report it. We have two descriptions of the girl, sir, and, uh, although they don't tally completely they should lead us to her procurer. Of course, he should die soon, sir, and then we'll find him. That's the Rubicon of the case, sir. Meanwhile, I'm happy to report, sir, that we're lucking out amazingly. Only two definite cases off the base so far and both of them injected with the antidote. It is possible, just possible, that the procurer went into hiding after disposing of the body. In that case, he hasn't contacted another human being and is not spreading it. Sir."
"Despond," the President said, "I want results. Keep us informed. Your country depends on you."
"Tree that coon, Despond."
"We will, sir."
Esperando Despond turned from the phone as an agent from the computer section entered the room. "Got something?" he snapped nervously.
"The first girl, the Nigra, sir. She was one of the pros we questioned yesterday. Her name is Bonnie Quint."
"You look worried. Is there a hitch?" Despond asked shrewdly.
"Just another of the puzzles. She didn't admit being with Mocenigo the night before, but that kind of lying we expected. Here's what's weird: her description of the guy she says she was with." The computer man shook his head dubiously. "It doesn't fit Naismith, the guy who said he was with her. It fits the little mug, the dwarf, that the CIA grabbed. Only he said she was the second girl."
Despond mopped his brow. "What the heck has been going on in this town?" he asked the ceiling. "Some kind of sex orgy?"
In fact, several kinds of sex orgies had been going on in Las Vegas ever since the Veterans of the Sexual Revolution had arrived two days earlier. The Hugh M. Hefner Brigade had taken two stories of the Sands, hired a herd of professional women, and hadn't yet come out to join the Alfred Kinsey Brigade, the Norman Mailer Guerrillas and the others in marching up and down the Strip, squirting young girls in the crotch with water pistols, passing bottles of hooch back and forth and generally blocking traffic and annoying pedestrians. Dr. Naismith himself, after a few token appearances, had avoided most of the merriment and retired to a private suite to work on his latest fund-raising letter for the Colossus of Yorba Linda Foundation. Actually, the VSR, like White Heroes Opposing Red Extremism, was one of Naismith's lesser projects and brought in only peanuts. Most of the real veterans of the sexual revolution had succumbed to syphilis, marriage, children, alimony or some such ailment, and few white heroes were prepared to oppose red extremism in the bizarre manner suggested by Naismith's pamphlets; in both of those cases, he had recognized two nut markets that nobody else was exploiting and had quickly moved in. Even the John Dillinger Died For You Society, of which he was inordinately proud since it was probably the most implausible religion in the long history of humanity's infatuation with metaphysics, didn't earn much less per annum than these fancies. The real bread was in the Colossus of Yorba Linda Foundation, which had been successfully raising money for several years to erect a heroic monument, in solid gold and ten feet taller than the statue of Liberty, honoring the martyred former president Richard Milhous Nixon. This monument, paid for entirely by the twenty million Americans who still loved and revered Nixon despite the damnable lies of the Congress, the Justice Department, the press, the TV, the law courts, et al., would stand outside Yorba Linda, Tricky Dicky's boyhood home, and scowl menacingly toward Asia, warning those gooks not to try to get the jump on Uncle Sammie. Beside the gigantic idol's right foot, Checkers looked adoringly upward; beneath the left foot was a crushed allegorical figure representing Cesar Chavez. The Great Man held a bunch of lettuce in his right hand and a tape recording in the left. It was all most tasteful, and so appealed to Fundamentalist Americans that hundreds of thousands of dollars had already been collected by the Colossus fund, and Naismith planned to hop to Nepal with the loot at the first sign that contributors or postal inspectors were beginning to wonder when the statue would actually start rising on the plot he had purchased, amid much publicity, after the first few thousand arrived.
Naismith was a small, slight man and, like many Texans, affected a cowboy hat (although he had never herded cattle) and a bandito mustache (although his thefts were all based on fraud rather than force). He was also, for his nation at this time in history, an uncommonly honest man, and, unlike most corporations of the epoch, none of his enterprises had poisoned or mutilated the customers whose money he took. His one vice was cynicism based on lack of imagination: he reckoned most of his countrymen as total mental basket cases and fondly believed that he was exploiting their folly when he told them that a vast Illiminati conspiracy controlled the money supply and interest rates or that a bandit of the 1930s was, in a sense, a redeemer of the atrophying human spirit. That there was an element of truth in these bizarre notions never crossed his mind. In short, even though born in Texas, Naismith was as alienated from the pulse, the poetry and the profundity of American emotion as a New York intellectual.
But his cynicism served him well when, after reporting certain strange symptoms to the hotel doctor, he found himself rushed to a supposed U.S. Public Health Service station which was manned by individuals he quickly recognized as laws. This is an old Texas word, probably an abbreviation of lawmen (Texans don't know much about abbreviating) and is as charged with suspicion and wariness, although not quite so much rage, as the New Left's word pig. Bonnie Parker had used it, eloquently, in her last ballad:
Someday they'll go down together
They'll bury them side by side
For some it means grief
For the laws a relief
But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.
That about summed it up: the laws were not necessarily fascist Gestapo racist pigs (words largely unknown in Texas), but they were people who would find it a relief if bothersome and rebellious individualism disappeared, however bloody the disappearance might be. If you were ornery enough, the laws would bushwhack you- shoot you dead from ambush, without a chance to surrender, as they did to Miss Parker and Mr. Barrow-but even if you were merely a mildly larcenous hoaxter like Dr. Naismith, they would be much cheered to put you someplace where you couldn't throw any more entropy into the functioning of the Machine they served. And so, recognizing laws, Dr. Naismith narrowed his eyes, thought deeply, and when they began their questioning, lied as only an unregenerate old-school Texas confidence man can lie.
"You got it from somebody who had body contact with you. So either you were in a very crowded elevator or you got it from a prostitute. Which was it?"
Naismith thought of the collision on the sidewalk with the Midget and the weasel-faced character with the big suitcase, but he also thought that the questioner leaned heavily on the second possibility. They were looking for a woman; and, if you tell the laws what they want to hear, they don't keep coming back and asking more personal questions. "I was with a prostitute," he said, trying to sound embarrassed.
"Can you describe her?"
He thought back over the pros he had seen with other VSR delegates, and one stood out Being a kindly man, he didn't want to implicate an innocent whore in this messy business (whatever it was), so he combined her with another woman, the first that he ever successfully penetrated in his long-ago youth in the 1950s.
Unfortunately for Dr. Naismith's kindly intentions, the laws never expect an eyewitness description to match the person described in all respects, so when his information was coded into an IBM machine, three cards came out. Each one had more similarities to his fiction than differences from it, and they came from a card file of several hundred prostitutes whose descriptions had been gathered and coded in the past twenty-four hours. Running the three cards through a different sorting in the machine, limited to outstanding bodily characteristics most commonly remembered correctly, the technicians emerged, after all, with Bonnie Quint. Forty-five minutes later she was in Esperando Despond's office, nervously twirling her mink stole, picking at the hem of her mini-skirt, evading questions nimbly and remembering intensely Camel's voice saying, "I'll use the belt. So help me, God. I'll use the belt." She was also smarting from the injection.
"You don't work free-lance," Despond told her, nastily, for the fifth time. "In this town, the Maf would put a knife up your ass and break off the handle if you tried that. You've got a pimp. Now, do we throw the book at you or do we get his name?"
"Don't be too hard on her," Tobias Knight said. "She's only a poor, confused kid. Not twenty yet, are you?" he asked her kindly. "Give her a chance to think. She'll do the right thing. Why should she protect a lousy pimp who exploits her all the time?" He gave her a reassuring glance.
"Poor confused kid, my ass!" Despond exploded. "This is a matter of life and death and no Nigra whore is going to sit here lying her head off and get away with it." He did a good imitation of a man literally trembling with repressed fury. "I'd like to kick her head in," he screamed.
Knight, still playing the friendly cop, looked shocked. "That's not very professional," he said sadly. "You're overtired, and you're frightening the child."
Three hours later- after Despond had nearly done a complete psycho schtick and virtually threatened to behead poor Bonnie with his letter opener, and Knight had become so fatherly and protective that both he and she were beginning to feel that she was actually his very own six-year-old daughter being set upon by Goths and Vandals- a sobbing but accurate description of Carmel emerged, including his address.
Twelve minutes later, Roy Ubu, calling via car radio, reported that Carmel was not in his house and had been seen driving toward the Southwest in a jeep with a large suitcase beside him.
In the next eighteen hours, eleven men in jeeps were stopped on various roads southwest of Las Vegas, but none of them was Carmel, although most of them were around the height and weight and general physical description given by Bonnie Quint, and two of them even had large suitcases. In the twenty-four hours after that, nearly a thousand men of all sizes and shapes were stopped on roads, north, south, east and west, in cars not remotely like jeeps and some driving toward, not away from, Las Vegas. None of them was Carmel either.
Among all the men wandering around the Desert Door base and the city of Las Vegas with credentials from the U.S. Public Health Service, one who really was employed by USPHS, had a long lean body, a mournful countenance, a general resemblance to the late great Boris Karloff, and the name Fred Filiarisus. By special authority of the White House, Dr. Filiarisus was able to gain access to everything known by the scientists at Desert Door, including the course of the disease in those originally infected, among whom two had died before the antidote took effect and three had shown a total lack of symptoms even though exposed along with the others. He also had access to both FBI and CIA information as it came in, without having to bug either office. It was he, therefore, who finally put together the correct picture, on April 30, and reported directly to the White House at eleven that morning.
"Some people are naturally immune to Anthrax Leprosy Pi, Mr. President," Filiarisus said. "Unfortunately, they serve as carriers. We found three like that at the base, and it is mathematically, scientifically certain that a fourth is still at large.
"Everybody was lying to the FBI and CIA, sir. They were all afraid of punishment for various activities forbidden by our laws. No variation or permutation on their stories will hang together reasonably. Each witness lied about something, and usually about several things. The truth is other than it appeared. In short, the government, being an agency of punishment, acted as a distorting factor from the beginning, and I had to use information-theory equations to determine the degree of distortion present. I would say that what I finally discovered may have universal application: no governing body can ever obtain an accurate account of reality from those over whom it holds power. From the perspective of communication analysis, government is not an instrument of law and order, but of law and disorder. I'm sorry to have to say this so bluntly, but it needs to be kept in mind when similar situations arise in the future."
"He sounds like an effing anarchist," the Vice President muttered.
"The true picture, with a ninety-seven percent probability, is this," Filiarisus continued. "Dr. Mocenigo had only one contact, and she died. The FBI hypothesis is correct: her body was then hidden, probably in the desert, by an associate wishing to avoid involvement with law enforcement agencies. If prostitution were legal, we might never have had this nightmare."
"I told you he was an effing anarchist," the Vice President growled. "And a sex maniac, too!"
"The associate who hid the body," Filiarisus went on, "is our fourth carrier, personally immune but lethal to others. It was this person who infected Mr. Chaney and Dr. Naismith. This person was probably not a prostitute. These men lied, among other reasons, because they knew what the government agents wanted them to say. When power is wielded over people, they say as well as do what they think is expected of them- another reason government always finds it difficult to learn the truth about anything.
"The only hypothesis that mathematical logic will accept, when all the known data was fed into a computer, is that the fourth carrier is the procurer who disappeared, Mr. Carmel. Experiencing no symptoms himself, he is unaware that he carries the world's most dangerous disease. For reasons of his own, which we cannot guess, he has been hiding since he disposed of the woman's body. Probably, he feared that the corpse might be found and a case of manslaughter or homicide could be made against him. Or he might have a motive completely unrelated to her death. Only twice has he contacted other human beings. I would suggest that his contact with Miss Quint was typical of their professional relationship; he either hit her or had sex relations with her. His contact with Dr. Naismith and Mr. Chaney was some sort of accident- perhaps the crowded elevator that has been suggested by Mr. Despond. Otherwise, he had been, as it were, underground.
"This is why we only found three cases instead of the thousands or millions we feared.
"However, the problem still remains. Carmel is immune, will never know he has the disease unless he is told it, and will eventually surface somewhere. When he does, we will learn of it through the outbreak of Anthrax Leprosy Pi cases in the vicinity. At that point, the whole nightmare begins again, sir.
"Our best hope, and the computer backs me on this, is public disclosure. The panic we tried to avoid will have to be faced. Every medium of communication in the nation must be given the full facts, and Carmels description must be circulated everywhere. This is our last chance. The man is a walking biological Doomsday Machine and he must be found.
"Psychologists and social psychologists have fed all the relevant facts about this case, and about previous panics and plagues, into the computer also. The conclusion, with ninety-three percent certainty, is that the panic will be nationwide and martial law will have to be declared everywhere. Liberals in Congress should be placed under house arrest as the first step, and the Supreme Court must be stripped of its powers totally. The Army and the National Guard will have to be sent into every city with authority to override any policies of local officials. Democracy, in short, must cease until the emergency is ended."
"He's not an anarchist," the Secretary of the Interior said. "He's a goddam fascist."
"He's a realist," said the President, clear-minded, crisp, quick on the uptake and stoned clear round the corner of schizophrenia by his usual three tranquilizers, a stronger dose of amphetamines than usual, and loads of those happy little Demerol tablets. "We start implementing his suggestions right now."
And so those few tattered remnants of the Bill of Rights which had survived into the fourth decade of the Cold War were laid to rest -temporarily, it was thought by those present. Dr. Filiarisus, whose name in the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria was Gracchus Gruad, had completed on the day known as May Eve or Walpurgisnacht the project begun when the first dream of Anthrax Leprosy Pi was planted in Dr. Mocenigo's mind on the day known as Candelmas. These dates were known by much older names in the Illuminati, of course, and the burial of the Bill of Rights was expected, by them, to be permanent.
(Two hours before Dr. Filiarisus spoke to the President, four of the world's five Illuminati Primi met in an old graveyard in Ingolstadt; the fifth could not be present. They agreed that all was going as scheduled, but one danger remained: nobody in the order, however developed his or her ESP, had been able to trace Carmel. Leaning on a tombstone -where Adam Weishaupt had once performed rites so unique that the psychic vibration had bounced off every sensitive mind in Europe, leading to such decidedly peculiar literary productions as Lewis's The Monk, Maturin's Melmoth, Walpole's Castle of Otranto, Mrs. Shelley's Frankenstein, and DeSade's One Hundred Twenty Days of Sodom-the eldest of the four said, "It can still fail, if one of the mehums finds the pimp before he infects a city or two." Mehums was an abbreviation for all descendants of those not part of the original Unbroken Circle; it meant mere humans.
"Why can none of our ultra-sensitives find him?" a second asked. "Does he have no ego or soul at all?"
"He has a vibration but it's not distinctly human. Whenever we seem to have a fix on it, we're usually ' picking up a bank vault or the safe of some paranoid millionaire," the eldest replied.
"We have that problem with an increasing number of Americans," the third commented morosely. "In that nation, we have done our work too well. The conditioning to those pieces of paper is so strong that no other psychic impulse remains to be read."
The fourth spoke. "Now is no time for trepidation, my brothers. The plan is virtually realized, and this man's lack of ordinary mehum qualities will prove an advantage when we do fix on him. No ego, no resistance. We will be able to move him at our whim. The stars are right, He Who Is Not To Be Named is impatient, and now we must be intrepid!" She spoke with fervor.
The others nodded. "Heute die Welt, Morgens das Sonnensystem!" the eldest cried out fiercely.
"Heute die Welt" all repeated, "Morgens das Sonnensystem!")
But two days earlier, as the Leif Erikson left the Atlantic and entered the underground Ocean of Valusia beneath Europe, George Dorn was listening to a different kind of chorus. It was, Mavis had explained to him in advance, the weekly Agape Ludens, or Love Feast Game, of the Discordians, and the dining hall was newly bedecked with pornographic and psychedelic posters, Christian and Buddhist and Amerindian mystic designs, balloons and lollypops dangling from the ceiling on Day-Glo-dabbed strings, numinous paintings of Discordian saints (including Norton I, Sigismundo Malatesta, Guillaume of Aquitaine, Chuang Chou, Judge Roy Bean, various historical figures even more obscure, and numerous gorillas and dolphins), bouquets of roses and forsythia and gladiolas and orchids, clusters of acorns and gourds, and the inevitable proliferation of golden apples, pentagons and octopi.
The main course was the best Alaskan king crab Newburg that George had ever tasted, only lightly dusted with a mild hint of Panamanian Red grass. Dozens of trays of dried fruits and cheeses were passed back and forth among the tables, together with canapes of an exquisite caviar George had never encountered before ("Only Hagbard knows where those sturgeon spawn," Mavis explained) and the beverage was a blend of the Japanese seventeen-herb Mu tea with Menomenee Indian peyote tea. While everyone gorged, laughed and got gently but definitely zonked, Hag-bard-who was evidently satisfied that he and FUCKUP had located "the problem in Las Vegas"-merrily conducted the religious portion of the Agape Ludens.
"Rub-a-dub-dub," he chanted, "O hail Eris!"
"Rub-a-dub-dub," the crew merrily chorused, "O Hail Eris!"
"Sya-dasti," Hagbard chanted. "All that I tell you is true."
"Sya-dasti," the crew repeated, "O hail Eris!" George looked around; there were three, or five, races present (depending upon which school of physical anthropology you credited) and maybe half a hundred nationalities, but the feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood transcended any sense of contrast, creating instead a blend, as in musical progression.
"Sya-davak-tavya," Hagbard chanted now. "All that I tell you is false."
"Sya-davak-tavya," George joined in, "O hail Eris!"
"Sya-dasti-sya-nasti," Hagbard intoned. "All that I tell you is meaningless."
"Sya-dasti-sya-nasti," all agreed, some jeeringly, "O hail Eris!"
If they had services like this in the Baptist church back in Nutley, George thought, I never would have told my mother religion is all a con and had that terrible quarrel when I was nine.
"Sya-dasti-sya-nasti-sya-davak-tav-yaska," Hagbard sang out. "All that I tell you is true and false and meaningless."
"Sya-dasti-sya-nasti-sya-davak-tav-yaska," the massed voices replied, "O hail Eris!"
"Rub-a-dub-dub," Hagbard repeated quietly. "Does anyone have a new incantation?"
"All hail crab Newburg," a Russian-accented voice shouted.
That was an immediate hit. "All hail crab New-burg," everyone howled.
"All hail these bloody fucking beautiful roses," an Oxfordian voice contributed.
"All hail these bloody fucking beautiful roses," all agreed.
Miss Mao arose. "The Pope is the chief cause of Protestantism," she recited softly.
That was another roaring success; everybody chorused, and one Harlem voice added, "Right on!"
"Capitalism is the chief cause of socialism," Miss Mao chanted, more confident. That went over well, too, and she then tried, "The State is the chief cause of anarchism," which was another smashing success.
"Prisons are built with the stones of law, brothels with the bricks of religion," Miss Mao went on.
"PRISONS ARE BUILT WITH THE STONES OF LAW, BROTHELS WITH THE BRICKS OF RELIGION," the hall boomed.
"I stole that last one from William Blake," Miss Mao said quietly and sat down.
"Any others?" Hagbard asked. There was none, so he went on after a moment, "Very well, then, I will preach my weekly sermon."
"Balls!" cried a Texas voice.
"Bullshit!" added a Brazilian female.
Hagbard frowned. "That wasn't much of a demonstration," he commented sadly. "Are the rest of you so passive that you're just going to sit here on your dead asses and let me bore the piss out of you?"
The Texan, the Brazilian lady and a few others got up. "We are going to have an orgy," the Brazilian said briefly, and they left.
"Well, sink me, I'm glad there's some life left on this old tub," Hagbard grinned. "As for the rest of you- who can tell me, without uttering a word, the fallacy of the Illuminati?"
A young girl- she was no more than fifteen, George guessed, and the youngest member of the crew; he had heard she was a runaway from a fabulously rich Italian family in Rome- slowly raised her hand and clenched her fist.
Hagbard turned on her furiously. "How many times must I tell you people: no faking! You got that out of some cheap book on Zen that neither the author nor you understood a damned word of. I hate to be dictatorial, but phony mysticism is the one thing Discordianism can't survive. You're on shitwork, in the kitchen, for a week, you wise-ass brat."
The girl remained immobile, in the same position, fist raised, and only slowly did George read the slight smile that curled her mouth. Then he started to smile himself.
Hagbard lowered his eyes for a second and gave a Sicilian shrug. "O oi che siete in picdoletta barca," he said softly, and bowed. "I'm still in charge of nautical and technical matters," he announced, "but Miss Portinari now succeeds me as episkopos of the Leif Erikson cabal. Anyone with lingering spiritual or psychological problems, take them to her." He lunged across the room, hugged the girl, laughed with her happily for a moment and placed his golden apple ring on her finger. "Now I don't have to meditate every day," he shouted joyously, "and I'll have more time for some thinking."
In the next two days, as the Leif Erikson slowly crossed the Sea of Valusia and approached the Danube, George discovered that Hagbard had, indeed, put all his mystical trappings behind him. He spoke only of technical matters concerning the submarine, or other mundane subjects, and was sublimely unconcerned with the role-playing, role-changing and other mind-blowing tactics that had previously made up his persona. What emerged- the new Hagbard, or the old Hagbard of days before his adoption of guru-hood- was a tough, pragmatic, middle-aged engineer, with wide intelligence and interests, an overwhelming kindness and generosity, and many small symptoms of nervousness, anxiety and overwork. But mostly he seemed happy, and George realized that the euphoria derived from his having dropped an enormous burden.
Miss Portinari, meanwhile, had lost the self-effacing quality that made her so eminently forgettable before, and, from the moment Hagbard passed her the ring, she was as remote and gnomic as an Etruscan sybil. George, in fact, found that he was a little afraid of her- an annoying sensation, since he thought he had transcended fear when he found that the Robot was, left to itself, neither cowardly nor homicidal.
George tried to discuss his feelings with Hagbard once, when they happened to be seated together at dinner on April 28. "I don't know where my head is at anymore," he said tentatively.
"Well, in the immortal words of Marx, putta your hat on your neck, then," Hagbard grinned.
"No, seriously," George murmured as Hagbard hacked at a steak. "I don't feel really awakened or enlightened or whatever. I feel like K. in The Castle: I've seen it once, but I don't know how to get back there."
"Why do you want to get back?" Hagbard asked. "I'm damned glad to be out of it all. It's harder work than coal mining." He munched placidly, obviously bored by the direction of the conversation.
"That's not true," George protested. "Part of you is still there, and always will be. You've just given up being a guide for others."
"I'm trying to give up," Hagbard said pointedly. "Some people seem to be trying to reenlist me. Sorry. I'm not a German shepherd or a draftee. Non serviam, George."
George fiddled with his own steak for a minute, then tried another approach. "What was that Italian phrase you used, just before you gave your ring to Miss Por-tinari?"
"I couldn't think of anything else to say," Hagbard explained, embarrassed. "So, as usual with me, I got arty and pretentious. Dante addresses his readers, in the First Canto of the Paradiso, 'O voi che siete in pic-cloletta barca'- roughly, Oh, you who are sailing in a very small boat astern of me. He meant that the readers, not having had the Vision, couldn't really understand his words. I turned it around, 'O oi che siete in piccioletta barca,' admitting I was behind her in understanding. I should get the Ezra Pound Award for hiding emotion in tangled erudition. That's why I'm glad to give up the guru gig. I never was much better than second-rate at it."
"Well, I'm still way astern of you.. ." George began.
"Look," Hagbard growled. "I'm a tired engineer at the end of a long day. Can't we talk about something less taxing to my depleted brain? What do you think of the economic system I outline in the second part of Never Whistle While You're Pissing? I've decided to start calling it techno-anarchism; do you think that's more clear at first sight than anarcho-capitalism?"
And George found himself, frustrated, engaged in a long discussion of non-interest-bearing currencies, land stewardship replacing land ownership, the inability of monopoly capitalism to adjust to abundance, and other, matters which would have interested him a week ago but now were very unimportant compared to the question which Zen masters phrased as "getting the goose out of the bottle without breaking the glass"- or specifically, getting George Dorn out of "George Dorn" without destroying GEORGE DORN.
That night, Mavis came again to his bed, and George said again, "No. Not until you love me the way I love you."
"You're turning into a stiff-necked prig," Mavis said. "Don't try to walk before you can crawl."
"Listen," George cried. "Suppose our society crippled every infant's legs systematically, instead of our minds? The ones who tried to get up and walk would be called neurotics, right? And the awkwardness of their first efforts would be published in the all psychiatric journals as proof of the regressive and schizzy nature of their unsocial and unnatural impulse toward walking, right? And those of you who know the secret would be superior and aloof and tell us to wait, be patient, you'll let us in on it in your own good time, right? Crap. I'm going to do it on my own."
"I'm not holding anything back," Mavis said gently.
"There's no field until both poles are charged."
"And I'm the dead pole? Go to hell and bake bagels."
After Mavis left, Stella arrived, wearing cute Chinese pajamas. "Horny?" she asked bluntly.
"Christ Almighty, yes!"
In ninety seconds they were naked and he was nibbling at her ear while his hand rubbed her pubic mat; but a saboteur was at work at his brain. "I love you," he thought, and it was not untrue because he loved all women now, knowing partially what sex was really all about, but he couldn't bring himself to say it because it was not totally true, either, since he loved Mavis more, much more. "I'm awfully fond of you," he almost said, but the absurdity of it stopped him. Her hand cupped his cock and found it limp; her eyes opened and looked into his enquiringly. He kissed her lips quickly and moved his hand lower, inserting a ringer until he found the clitoris. But even when her breathing got deeper, he did not respond as usual, and her hand began massaging his cock more desperately. He slid down, kissing nipples and bellybutton on the way, and began licking her clitoris. As soon as she came, he cupped her buttocks, lifted her pelvis, got his tongue into her vagina and forced another quick orgasm, immediately lowering her slightly again and beginning a very gentle and slow return in spiral fashion back to the clitoris. But still he was flaccid.
"Stop," Stella breathed. "Let me do you, baby."
George moved upward on the bed and hugged her. "I love you," he said, and suddenly it did not sound like a lie.
Stella giggled and kissed his mouth briefly. "It takes a lot to get those words out of you, doesn't it?" she said bemusedly.
"Honesty is the worst policy," George said grimly. "I was a child prodigy, you know? A freak. It was rugged. I had to have some defense, and somehow I picked honesty. I was always with older boys so I never won a fight. The only way I could feel superior, or escape total inferiority, was to be the most honest bastard on the planet earth."
"So you can't say 'I love you' unless you mean it?" Stella laughed. "You're probably the only man in America with that problem. If you could only be a woman for a while, baby! You can't imagine what liars most men are."
"Oh, I've said it at times. When it was at least half true. But it always sounded like play-acting to me, and I felt it sounded that way to the woman, too. This time it just came out, perfectly natural, no effort."
"That is something," Stella grinned. "And I can't let it go unrewarded." Her black body slid downward and he enjoyed the esthetic effect as his eyes followed her- black on white, like the yin-yang or the Sacred Chao-what was the psychoses of the white race that made this beauty seem ugly to most of them? Then her lips closed over his penis and he found that the words had loosened the knot: he was erect in a second. He closed his eyes to savor the sensation, then opened them to look down at her Afro hairdo, her serious dark face, his cock slipping back and forth between her lips. "I love you," he repeated, with even more conviction. "Oh, Christ, Oh, Eris, oh baby baby, I love you!" He closed his eyes again, and let the Robot move his pelvis in response to her. "Oh, stop," he said, "stop," drawing her upward and turning her over, "together," he said, mounting her, "together," as her eyes closed when he entered her and then opened again for a moment meeting his in total tenderness, "I love you, Stella, I love," and he knew it was so far along that the weight wouldn't bother her, collapsing, using his arms to hug her, not supporting himself, belly to belly and breast to breast, her arms hugging him also and her voice saying, "I love you, too, oh, I love you," and moving with it, saying "angel" and "darling" and then saying nothing, the explosion and the light again permeating his whole body not just the penis, a passing through the mandala to the other side and a long sleep.
The next morning, he and Stella fucked some more, wildly and joyously; they said "I love you" so many times that it became a new mantra to him, and they were still whispering at breakfast. The problem of Mavis and the problem of reaching total enlightenment had both vanished from his mind. Enjoying bacon and eggs that seemed tastier than he had ever eaten before, exchanging pointless and very private jokes with Stella, George Dorn was at peace.
(But nine hours earlier, at that "same" time, the Kachinas gathered in the center of the oldest city in North America, Orabi, and began a dance which an excited visiting anthropologist had never seen before. As he questioned various old men' and old women among the People of Peace- which is what ho-pi means- he found that the dance was dedicated to She-Woman-Forever-Not-Change. He knew enough not to try to convert that title into his own grammar, since it represented an important aspect of the Hopi philosophy of Time, which is much like the Simon Moon and Adam Weishaupt philosophies of Time and nothing like what physics students learn, at least until they reach graduate level studies. Only four times, he was told, had this dance ever been necessary: four times when the many worlds were all in danger, and this was the time of the fifth and greatest danger. The anthropologist, who happened to be a Hindu named Indole Ringh, quickly jotted in his notebook: "Cf. four yogas in Upanishads, Wagadu legend in Sudan, and Marsh's queer notions about Atlantis. This could be big." The dance went on, the drums pounded monotonously, and Carmel, far away, broke into a sudden perspiration…)
And, in Los Angeles, John Dillinger calmly loaded his revolver, dropped it in his briefcase and set a Panama hat on his neatly combed silver-gray hair. He was humming a song from his youth: "Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine…" I hope that pimp is where Hagbard says, he thought; I've only got eighteen hours before they declare martial law… "Good-bye forever," he hummed on, "old fellows and pals…"
I saw the fnords the same day I first heard about the plastic martini. Let me be very clear and precise about this, since many of the people on this trip are deliberately and perversely obscure: I would not, could not, have seen the fnords if Hagbard Celine hadn't hypnotized me the night before, on the flying saucer.
I had been reading Pat Walsh's memos, at home, and listening to a new record from the Museum of Natural History. I was adding a few new samples to my collection of Washington-Weishaupt pictures on the wall, when the saucer appeared hovering outside my window. Needless to say, it didn't particularly surprise me; I had saved a little of the AUM, after Chicago, contrary to the instructions from ELF, and had dosed myself. After meeting the Dealy Lama, not to mention Malaclypse the Elder, and seeing that nut Celine actually talk to gorillas, I assumed my mind was a point of receptivity where the AUM would trigger something truly original. The UFO, in fact, was a bit of a letdown; so many people had seen them already, and I was ready for something nobody had ever seen or imagined.
It was even more a disappointment when they psyched me, or slurped me aboard, and I found, instead of Martians or Insect Trust delegates from the Crab Galaxy, just Hagbard, Stella Maris and a few other people from the Leif Erikson.
"Hail Eris," said Hagbard.
"All hail Discordia," I replied, giving the three-after-two pattern, and completing the pentad. "Is this something important, or did you just want to show me your latest invention?"
The inside of the saucer was, to be trite, eerie. Everything was non-Euclidean and semitransparent; I kept feeling that I might fall through the floor and hurtle to the ground to smash myself on the sidewalk. Then we started moving and it got worse.
"Don't let the architecture disturb you," Hagbard said. "My own adaptation of some of Bucky Fuller's synergetic geometry. It's smaller, and more solid, than it looks. You won't fall out, believe me."
"Is this contraption behind all the flying saucer reports since 1947?" I asked curiously.
"Not quite," Hagbard laughed. "That's basically a hoax. The plan was created in the United States government, one of the few ideas they've had without direct Illuminati inspiration since about the middle of Roosevelt's first term. A reserve measure, in case something happens to Russia and China."
"Hi, baby," I said softly to Stella, remembering San Francisco. "Would you tell me, minus the Celine rhetoric and paradox, what the hell he's talking about?"
"The State is based on threat," Stella said simply. "If people aren't afraid of something, they'll realize they don't need that big government hand picking their pockets all the time. So, in case Russia and China collapse from internal dissension, or get into a private war and blow each other to hell, or suffer some unexpected natural calamity like a series of earthquakes, the saucer myth has been planted. If there are no earthly enemies to frighten the American people with, the saucer myth will immediately change. There will be 'evidence' that they come from Mars and are planning to invade and enslave us. Dig?"
"So," Hagbard added, "I built this little gizmo, and I can travel anywhere I want without interference. Any sighting of this craft, whether by a radar operator with twenty years experience or a little old lady in Perth Amboy, is regarded by the government as a case of autosuggestion- since they know they didn't plant it themselves. I can hover over cities, like New York, or military installations that are Top Secret, or any place I damned well please. Nice?"
"Very nice," I said. "But why did you bring me up here?"
"It's time for you to see the fnords," he replied. Then I woke up in bed and it was the next morning. I made breakfast in a pretty nasty mood, wondering if I'd seen the fnords, whatever the hell they were, in the hours he had blacked out, or if I would see them as soon as I went out in the street. I had some pretty gruesome ideas about them, I must admit. Creatures with three eyes and tentacles, survivors from Atlantis, who walked among us, invisible due to some form of mind shield, and did hideous work for the Illuminati. It was unnerving to contemplate, and I finally gave in to my fears and peeked out the window, thinking it might be better to see them from a distance first.
Nothing. Just ordinary sleepy people, heading for their buses and subways.
That calmed me a little, so I set out the toast and coffee and fetched in the New York Times from the hallway. I turned the radio to WBAI and caught some good Vivaldi, sat down, grabbed a piece of toast and started skimming the first page.
Then I saw the fnords.
The feature story involved another of the endless squabbles between Russia and the U.S. in the UN General Assembly, and after each direct quote from the Russian delegate I read a quite distinct "Fnord!" The second lead was about a debate in Congress on getting the troops out of Costa Rica; every argument presented by Senator Bacon was followed by another "Fnord!" At the bottom of the page was a Times depth-type study of the growing pollution problem and the increasing use of gas masks among New Yorkers; the most distressing chemical facts were interpolated with more "Fnords."
Suddenly I saw Hagbard's eyes burning into me and heard his voice: "Your heart will remain calm. Your adrenalin gland will remain calm. Calm, all-over calm. You will not panic. You will look at the fnord and see it. You will not evade it or black it out. You will stay calm and face it." And further back, way back: my first-grade teacher writing FNORD on the blackboard, while a wheel with a spiral design turned and turned on his desk, turned and turned, and his voice droned on,
IF YOU DON'T SEE THE FNORD IT CAN'T EAT YOU, DON'T
SEE THE FNORD, DON'T SEE THE FNORD…
I looked back at the paper and still saw the fnords.
This was one step beyond Pavlov, I realized. The first conditioned reflex was to experience the panic reaction (the activation syndrome, it's technically called) whenever encountering the word "fnord." The second conditioned reflex was to black out what happened, including the word itself, and just to feel a general low-grade emergency without knowing why. And the third step, of course, was to attribute this anxiety to the news stories, which were bad enough in themselves anyway.
Of course, the essence of control is fear. The fnords produced a whole population walking around in chronic low-grade emergency, tormented by ulcers, dizzy spells, nightmares, heart palpitations and all the other symptoms of too much adrenalin. All my left-wing arrogance and contempt for my countrymen melted, and I felt genuine pity. No wonder the poor bastards believe anything they're told, walk through pollution and overcrowding without complaining, watch their sons hauled off to endless wars and butchered, never protest, never fight back, never show much happiness or eroticism or curiosity or normal human emotion, live with perpetual tunnel vision, walk past a slum without seeing either the human misery it contains or the potential threat it poses to their security… Then I got a hunch, and turned quickly to the advertisements. It was as I expected: no fnords. That was part of the gimmick, too: only in consumption, endless consumption, could they escape the amorphous threat of the invisible fnords.
I kept thinking about it on my way to the office. If I pointed out a fnord to somebody who hadn't been de-conditioned, as Hagbard deconditioned me, what would he or she say? They'd probably read the word before or after it. "No this word," I'd say. And they would again read an adjacent word. But would their panic level rise as the threat came closer to consciousness? I preferred not to try the experiment; it might have ended with a psychotic fugue in the subject. The conditioning, after all, went back to grade school. No wonder we all hate those teachers so much: we have a dim, masked memory of what they've done to us in converting us into good and faithful servants for the Illuminati.
When I arrived at my desk, Peter Jackson handed me a press release. "What do you make of this?" he asked with a puzzled frown, and I looked at the mimeographed first page. The old eye-and-pyramid design leaped out at me. "DeMolay Freres invites you to the premiere debut of the world's first plastic nude martini…," the press release declared. On second glance the eye in the triangle turned into the elliptical rim of a martini glass, while the pupil in the eye was actually the olive floating in the cocktail.
"What the hell is a plastic nude martini?" said Peter Jackson. "And why would they invite us to a press party for one?"
"You can bet that it's nonbiodegradable," said Joe.
"Which will make it very unfashionable with honky ecology freaks," said Peter sarcastically.
Joe squinted at the design again. It could be a coincidence. But coincidence was just another word for synchronicity. "I think I'll go," he said. "And what's that?" he added as his eye fell upon a half-unfolded poster on his desk.
"Oh, that came with the latest American Medical Association album," said Peter. "I don't want it, and I thought you might. It's time you took those pictures of the Rolling Stones off your wall. This is the age of constantly accelerating change, and a man who displays old pictures of the Stones is liable to be labeled a reactionary."
Four owl-eyed faces stared at him. They were dressed in one-piece white suits, and three of them were joining extended hands to form a triangle, while the fourth, Wolfgang Saure, generally acknowledged to be the leader of the group, stood with his arms folded in the center. The picture was taken from above so that the most prominent elements were the four heads, while the outstretched arms clearly made the sides of the triangle, and the bodies seemed unimportant, dwindling away to nothing. The background was jet black. The three young men and the woman, with their smooth-shaven bony faces, their blond crew-cuts and their icy blue eyes seemed extremely sinister to Joe. If the Nazis had won the war and Heinrich Himmler had followed Hitler as ruler of the German Empire, kids like this would be running the world. And they almost were, in a different sense, because they had succeeded the Beatles and Stones as kings of music, which made them emperors among youth. Although long hair remained the general fashion, the kids had accepted the American Medical Association's antiseptic-clean appearance as a needed reaction against a style that had become too commonplace.
As Wolfgang himself had said, "If you need an outward sign to know your own, you don't really belong."
"They give me the creeps," said Joe.
"What did you think when the Beatles first came out?" said Peter.
Joe shrugged. "They gave me the creeps. They looked ugly and sexless and like teenage werewolves with all that hair. And they seemed to be able to mesmerize twelve-year-old girls."
Peter nodded. "The bulk of the AMA's fans are even younger. So you might as well start conditioning yourself to them now. They're going to be around for a long time."
"Peter, let's you and me have lunch," Joe said. "Then I'm going to get some work done, and then I'm going to leave here at four to go to this plastic martini party. First of all, though, hold the chair for me while I take down the Stones and put up the American Medical Association."
The DeMolay Freres group wasn't kidding, he found. There were martinis, olives and all (or cocktail onions for those who preferred them) in transparent plastic bags that were shaped like nude women. Pretty terrible taste the manufacturer had, thought Joe. Briefly, Joe wondered if it would be a good idea to infiltrate this company so as to get dosages of AUM in all the plastic nude martinis. But then he remembered the emblem and thought maybe this company was already infiltrated. But by which side?
There was a beautiful Oriental girl in the room. She had black hair that reached all the way down to the small of her back, and when she raised her arms to adjust a head ornament, Joe was surprised to see thick black hair in her armpits. Orientals did not normally have much body hair, he thought. Could she be some relation to the hairy Ainu of northern Japan? It intrigued him, turned him on as he'd never thought armpit hair would, and he went over to her to talk. The first thing he noticed was that the headband she wore had a golden apple with the letter K printed on it right in the center of her forehead. She is one of Us, he thought. His hunch about coming to this party was right.
"These martini bags sure have a silly shape," said Joe.
"Why? Don't you care for nude women?"
"Well, this has about as much to do with nude women as any other piece of plastic," said Joe. "No, my point is that it's in such execrable taste. But, then, all of American industry is nothing but a giant obscene circus to me. What's your name?"
The black eyes fixed his intently. "Mao Tsu-hsi."
"No. My name means 'cat' in Chinese. His doesn't. His name is Mao but mine is Mao." Joe was enchanted by her enunciation of the two different tones.
"Well, Miss Cat, You are the most attractive woman I've met in ages."
She responded with a silent flirtation of her own and they were soon in a wonderfully interesting conversation- which he could never remember afterwards. Nor did he notice the pinch of powder she dropped into his drink. He began feeling strangely groggy. Tsu-hsi took his arm and led him to the checkroom. They got their coats, left the building and hailed a cab. In the back seat they kissed for a long time. She opened her coat and he pulled the zipper that went all the way down the front of her dress. He felt her breasts and stroked her belly, then dropped his head into her bush. She was wearing no underwear. She draped her legs over his, using her coat to screen what was going on from the cab driver, and helped him expose his erect penis. With a few quick, agile movements she had swept her skirt out of the way, raised her little seat into the air and slid her well-lubricated cunt down over his cock and was fucking him sidesaddle. It could have been difficult and awkward, but she was so light and well coordinated that she managed to bring herself to orgasm easily and voluptuously. She drew in her breath sharply through her teeth and a shudder ran through her body. She rested her head momentarily on his shoulder, then raised herself slightly and helped Joe to a pleasant climax with a rotary motion of her ass.
The experience, Joe realized, would have been more exquisite a few months, or a few years, earlier. Now, with his growing sensitivity, he was conscious of what had been missing: the actual energetic contact. The effect of the JAMs and the Discordians on him, he reflected, had been paradoxical by ordinary standards. He was no more puritanical than before they started tinkering with his nervous system (he was less), but at the same time casual sex was less appealing to him. He remembered Atlanta Hope's diatribes against "sexism" in her book Telemachus Sneezed-the Bible of the God's Lightning Movement-and he suddenly saw some weird kind of sense in her rantings. "The Sexual Revolution in America was as much of a fraud as the Political Revolutions in China and Russia," Atlanta had written with her usual exuberant capitalization; she was, in a way, quite right. People today were still wrapped in a cellophane of false ego, and even if they fucked and had orgasms together the cellophane was still there and no real contact had been made.
And yet if Mao was what he suspected she would know this even better than he did. Was this quick, cool spasm some kind of test or some lesson or demonstration? If so, how was he supposed to respond?
And then he remembered that she had not given an address to the driver. The cab had been waiting only for them to take them to a predetermined place, for reasons unknown.
I've seen the fnords, he thought; now I'm going to see more.
The cab stopped on a narrow, heavily shadowed street that seemed to be all empty stores, factory buildings, loading docks and warehouses.
With Miss Mao leading, they entered an old dilapidated-looking loft building with the aid of a key she had in her handbag, climbed some clanging cast-iron stairs, walked hand in hand down a long dark corridor and came at last through a series of anterooms, each better appointed than the last, to a splendid boardroom. Joe shook his head, amazed at what he saw, but there was something- he suspected a drug- that was keeping him docile and passive.
Around a table sat men and women costumed from various eras of human history. Joe recognized Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mongol and Polynesian dress, also classical Greek and Roman, medieval and Renaissance. There were other outfits more difficult to recognize at first glance. A flying Dutch board meeting, Joe thought to himself. They were talking about the Illuminati, the Discordians, the JAMs and the Erisians.
A man wearing a steel breastplate and helmet with gold inlay and a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee said, "It is now possible to predict with ninety-eight percent probability of accuracy that the Illuminati are setting up Fernando Poo for an international crisis. The question is, do we raid the island and get the records now, making sure they're not endangered, or do we wait and take advantage of the trouble as a cover for our raid?"
A man in a dragon-embroidered red silk robe said, "There will be no way to take advantage of the trouble, in my opinion. It will seem like chaos on the surface, but underneath the Illuminati will have everything very much under control. Now is the time to move."
A woman in a translucent silk blouse whose little vest did not hide her dark, rounded breasts, said, "You realize this could be a lovely scoop for your magazine, Mr. Malik. You could send a reporter there to look into conditions on Fernando Poo. Equatorial Guinea has all the usual problems of a developing African nation. Will tribal rivalries flare up between the Bubi and the Fang, preventing the further development of national cooperation? Will the poverty of the mainland province lead to attempts to expropriate the wealth of Fernando Poo? And what of the army? What, for example, of a certain Captain Jesus Tequila y Mota? An interview with the captain might prove to be a journalistic coup three years from now."
"Yes," said a big woman in colorfully dyed furs who played incessantly with the carved leg bone of some large animal. "We don't expect C. L. Sulzberger to grasp the importance of Fernando Poo until the crisis is upon the world. So, if advance warning is desirable- as we think it is- why not through Confrontation?"
"Is that why you asked me here?" said Joe. "To tell me something is going to happen in Fernando Poo? Where the hell is Fernando Poo, anyway?"
"Look it up in an atlas when you get back to work. It's one of several volcanic islands off the coast of Africa," said a dark-skinned, slit-eyed man wearing a buffalo hide decorated with feathers. "Of course, you understand that you could only hint at the real forces at work there," he added. "For instance, we wouldn't want you to mention that Fernando Poo is one of the last outcroppings of the continent of Atlantis, you know."
Mao Tsu-hsi was standing beside Joe with a glass containing a pinkish liquid. "Here, drink this," she said. "It will sharpen your perceptions."
A man in gold-braid-encrusted field marshal's uniform said, "Mr. Malik is the next business in order on our agenda. We are to educate him, to some extent Let's do it, to that extent."
The lights in the room went out. There was a rustling at one end, and suddenly Joe was looking at a brightly lit movie screen.
WHEN ATLANTIS RULED THE EARTH
The title appears in letters that look like blocks of stone piled on top of one another to form a kind of step pyramid. It is followed by shots of the earth as it looked thirty thousand years ago, during the great ice ages, showing woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers and Cro-Magnon hunters, while a narrator explains that at the same time the greatest civilization ever known by man is flourishing on the continent of Atlantis. The Atlanteans do not know anything about good or evil, the narrator explains. However, they all live to be five hundred years old and have no fear of death. The bodies of all Atlanteans are covered with fur, as with apes.
After seeing various domestic scenes in Zukong Gi-morlad-Siragosa, the largest and most central city on the continent (but not the capital, because the Atlanteans do not have a government), we move to a laboratory where the young (one hundred years old) scientist GRUAD is displaying a biological experiment to an associate, GAO TWONE. The experiment is a giant water-dwelling serpent-man. Gao Twone is impressed, but Gruad declares that he is bored; he wishes to change himself in some unexpected way. Gruad is already strange- unlike other Atlanteans, he is not covered with fur, but has only short blond hair on top of his head and a close-cropped beard. In comparison to other Atlanteans he seems hideously naked. He wears a high-collared pale green robe and gauntlets. He tells Gao Twone that he is tired of accumulating knowledge for the sake of knowledge. "It's just another guise for the pursuit of pleasure, to which too many of our fellow Atlanteans devote their lives. Of course, there's nothing wrong with pleasure- it moves the energies- but I feel that there is something higher and more heroic. I have no name for it yet, but I know it exists."
Gao Twone is somewhat shocked. "You, as a scientist, can talk of knowing something exists when you have no evidence?"
Gruad is dejected by this and admits, "My lens needs polishing." But after a moment he bounces back. "And yet, even though I have my moments of doubt, I think my lens really is clear. Of course, I must find lie evidence. But even now, before I start, I feel that I know what I will find. We could be greater and finer than we are. I look at what I am and sometimes I despise myself. I'm just a clever animal. An ape who has learned to play with tools. I want to be much more. I say we can be what the lloigor are, and even more. We can conquer time and seize eternity, even as they have. I mean to achieve that or destroy myself in the attempt."
The scene shifts to a banquet hall where INGEL RILD, a venerable Atlantean scientist, has called together prominent Atlanteans to celebrate a space research achievement, the production of a solar flare. Ingel Rild and his associates have developed a missile which, when it strikes the sun, can cause an explosion. He tells the marijuana-smoking gathering, "We can control to the second the timing of the flare and to the millimeter the distance it will spring out from the sun. A flare of sufficient magnitude could burn our planet to a crisp. A smaller flare could bombard the earth with radiations such that the area closest to the sun would be destroyed, while the rest of our world would suffer drastic changes. Most serious of all, perhaps, would be the biological changes these excessive radiations would bring about. Life forms would be damaged and perhaps become extinct. New life forms would arise. All of nature would undergo a tremendous upheaval. This has happened naturally once or twice. It happened seventy million years ago when the dinosaurs were suddenly wiped out and replaced by mammals. We still have much to learn about the mechanism that produces spontaneous solar flares. However, to be able to cause them artificially is a step toward predicting and possibly controlling them. When that stage is reached, our planet and our race will be protected from the kind of catastrophe that destroyed the dinosaurs."
After the applause, a woman named KAJECI asks whether it might not be disrespectful to tamper with "our father, the sun." Ingel Rild replies that man is a part of nature and what he does is natural and can't be construed as tampering. Now Gruad interrupts angrily, pointing out that he, an unattractive mutation, is the product of tampering with nature. He tells Ingel Rild that the Atlanteans do not truly understand nature and the order that controls it. He declares that man is subject to laws. All things in nature are, but man is different because he can disobey the natural laws that govern him. Gruad goes on, "With humanity we can speak, as we speak of our own machines, in terms of performance expected and performance delivered. If a machine does not do what it is designed for, we try to correct it. We want it to do what it ought to do, what it should do. I think we have the right and the duty to demand the same of people- that they perform as they ought to and should perform." An aged and merry-eyed scientist named LHUV KERAPHT interrupts, "But people are not machines, Gruad."
"Exactly," Gruad answers. "I have already considered that. Therefore, I have created new words, words even stronger than should and ought. When a person performs as he or she should and ought, I call that Good; and anything less than this I call Evil." This outlandish notion is greeted with general laughter. Gruad tries to speak persuasively, conscious of his lonely position as a pioneer, trying desperately to communicate with the closed minds all around him. After further argument, though, he becomes threatening, declaring, "The people of Atlantis do not live according to the law. In their pride, they strike the sun itself, and boast of it, as you have, Ingel Rild, this day. I say that if Atlanteans do not live according to the law, a disaster will befall them. A disaster that will shake the entire earth. You have been warned! Heed my words!" Gruad strides majestically out of the banquet hall, seizing his cloak at the door and sweeping it about him as he leaves. Kajeci follows him and tells him that she thinks she partly understands what he has been trying to say. The laws he speaks of are like the wishes of parents, and, "The great bodies of the universe are our parents. Isn't that so?" Gruad's naked hand strokes Kajeci's furred cheek, and they go off into the darkness together.
Within six months Gruad has formed an organization called the Party of Science. Their banner is an eye inside a triangle which in turn is surrounded by a serpent with its tail in its mouth. The Party of Science demands that Atlantis publish the natural laws Gruad has discovered and make them binding on all with systems of reward and punishment to enforce them. The word "punishment" is another addition to the Atlantean vocabulary coined by Gruad. One of Gruad's opponents explains to friends of his that it means torture, and everyone's fur bristles. Ingel Rild announces to a gathering of his supporters that Gruad has proven to his own satisfaction- and the demonstration runs to seventy-two scrolls of logical symbols- that sex is part of what he calls Evil. Only sex for the good of the community is to be permitted under Gruad's system, to keep the race alive.
A scientist called TON LIT exclaims, "You mean we must be thinking about conception during the act? That's impossible. Men's penises would droop, and women's vaginas wouldn't get moist. It's like- well, it's like making the shrill mouth-music while you are urinating. It would take great training, if it can be done at all." Ingel Rild proposes the formation of a Party of Freedom to oppose Gruad. Discussing Gruad's personality, Ingel Rild says he checked the genealogical records and found that several of the most agitated-energy people in all Atlantean history were among his ancestors. Gruad is a mutation, and so are many of his followers. The energy of normal Atlanteans flows slowly. Gruad's people are impatient and frustrated, and this is what makes them want to inflict suffering on their fellow humans.
Joe sat up with a jolt. If he understood that part of the movie, Gruad- evidently the first Illuminatus- was also the first homo neophilus. And the Party of Freedom, which seemed to be the origin of the Discordian and JAM movements, was pure homo neophobus. How the hell could that be squared with the generally reactionary attitude of current Illuminati policies, and the innovativeness of the Discordians and JAMs? But the film was moving on-
In a disreputable-looking tavernlike place where men and women smoke dope in pipes that they pass from one to another, while people grope in couples and groups in dark corners, SYLVAN MARTISET proposes a Party of Nothingness that rejects the positions of both the Party of Science and the Party of Freedom.
After this we see street fighting, atrocities, the infliction of punishment on harmless people by men wearing Gruad's eye-and-triangle badge. The Party of Freedom proclaims its own symbol, a golden apple. The fighting spreads, the numbers of the dead mount and Ingel Rild weeps. He and his associates decide on a desperate expedient- unleashing the lloigor Yog Sothoth. They will offer this unnatural soul-eating energy being from another universe its freedom in return for its help in destroying Gruad's movement. Yog Sothoth is imprisoned in the great Pentagon of Atlantis on a desolate moor in the southern part of the continent. The Atlantean electric plane bearing Ingel Rild, Ton Lit and another scientist drifts, trailing feathery sparks, to a landing in a flat field overgrown with gray weeds. Within the Pentagon, an enormous black stone structure, the ground is scorched and the air shimmers like a heat mirage. Flickers of static electricity run through the shimmering from time to time, and an unpleasant noise, like flies around a corpse, pervades the whole moor. The faces of the three Atlantean sages register disgust, sickness and terror. They climb the nearest tower and talk to the guard. Suddenly Yog Sothoth takes control of Ton Lit, speaking in an oily, rich, deep and reverberating voice, and asks them what they seek of him. Ton Lit lets out a terrible shriek and claps his hands over his ears. Froth slips from the side of his mouth, his fur bristles and his penis stands erect. His eyes are delirious and suffering, like those of a dying gorilla. The guard uses an electronic instrument that looks like a magician's wand topped with a five-pointed star to subdue Yog Sothoth. Ton Lit bays like a hound and leaps for Ingel Rild's throat. The electronic ray drives him back and he stands panting, tongue hanging loose, as the Pentagon first and then the ground begin to soften into asymptotic curves. Yog Sothoth chants, "la-nggh-ha-nggh-ha-nggh-fthagn! la-nggh-ha-nggh-ha-nggh-hgual! The blood is the life… The blood is the life…" All faces, bodies and perspectives are skewed and there is a greenish tinge on everything. Suddenly the guard strikes the nearest wall of the Pentagon directly with his electronic wand and Ton Lit shrieks, human intelligence coming back into his eyes together with great shame and revulsion. The three sages flee the Pentagon under a sky slowly turning back to its normal shape and color. The laughter of Yog Sothoth follows them. They decide that they cannot release the lloigor.
Meanwhile Gruad has called his closest followers, known as the Unbroken Circle of Gruad, to announce that Kajeci has conceived. Then he shows them a group of manlike creatures with green, scaly skin, wearing long black cloaks and black skullcaps with scarlet plumes. These he calls his Ophidians. Since At-lanteans have a kind of instinctive check on themselves that prevents them from killing except in blind fury, Gruad has developed these synthetic humanoids from the serpent, which he has found to be the most intelligent of all reptiles. They will have no hesitation about destroying men and will act only on Gruad's command. Some of his followers protest, and Gruad explains that this is not really killing. He says, "Atlanteans who will not accept the teachings of the Party of Science are swinish beings. They are a sort of robot who has no inner spiritual substance to control it. Our bodies, however, are deceived into feeling as if they are our own kind, and we cannot raise our hands against them. Now, however, the light of science has given us hands to raise." At this meeting Gruad also addresses his men for the first time as the "illuminated ones."
At the next meeting of the Party of Freedom the Ophidians attack, using iron bars to club people to death and slashing throats with their fangs. Then the Party of Freedom holds a funeral for a dozen of its dead at which Ingel Rild gives an oration describing the ways in which the struggle between Gruad's followers and the other Atlanteans is changing the character of all human beings:
"Hitherto, Atlanteans have enjoyed knowledge but not worried over the fact that there is much that we do not know. We are conservative and indifferent to new ideas, we have no inner conflicts and we feel like doing the things that seem wise to us. We think that the things we feel like doing will usually work out for the best. We consider pain and pleasure a single phenomenon, which we call sensation, and we respond to unavoidable pain by relaxing or becoming ecstatic. We do not fear death. We can read each other's minds because we are in touch with all the energies of our bodies. The followers of Gruad have lost that ability, and they are thankful that they have. The Scientists dote on new things and new ideas. This love of the new thing is a matter of genetic manipulation. Gruad is even encouraging people in their twenties to have children, though it is our custom never to have children before we reach a hundred. The generations of Gruad's followers come thick and fast, and they are not like us. They agonize over their ignorance. They are full of uncertainty and inner conflict between what they should do and what they feel like doing. The children, who are brought up on Gruad's teachings, are even more disturbed and conflict-filled than their parents. One doctor tells me that the attitudes and the way of life Gruad is encouraging in his people is enough to shorten their life spans considerably. And they are afraid of pain. They are afraid of death. And even as their lives grow shorter, they desperately seek for some means of achieving immortality."
Gruad tells a meeting of his Unbroken Circle that the tune has come to intensify the struggle. If they can't rule the Atlanteans, they will destroy Atlantis. "Atlantis will be destroyed by light," says Gruad. "By the light of the sun." Gruad introduces the worship of the sun to his followers. He reveals the existence of gods and goddesses. "They are all energy, conscious energy," says Gruad. "This conscious and powerfully directed and focused pure energy I call spirit. All motion is spirit. All light is spirit. All spirit is light."
Under Gruad's direction, the Party of Science builds a great pyramid, thousands of feet high. It is in two halves; the upper half, made of an indestructible ceramic substance and inscribed with a terrible staring eye, floats five hundred feet above the base, held in place by antigravity generators.
A band of men and women led by LILITH VELKOR, chief spokeswoman for the Party of Nothingness, gathers at the base of the great pyramid and laughs at it. They carry Nothingarian signs:
DON'T CLEAN OUR LENSES, GRUAD- GET THE CRACK OUT OF YOUR OWN
EVERY TIME I HEAR THE WORD "PROGRESS" MY FUR BRISTLES
THE SUN SUCKS FREEDOM DEFINED IS FREEDOM DENIED
THE MESSAGE ON THIS SIGN IS A FLAT LIE
Lilith Velkor addresses the Nothingarians, satirizing all Gruad's beliefs, claiming that the most powerful god is a crazy woman and she is the goddess of chaos. To the accompaniment of laughter she declares, "Gruad says the sun is the eye of the sun god. That's more of his notion that males are superior and reason and order are superior. Actually, the sun is a giant golden apple which is the plaything of the goddess of chaos. And it's the property of anyone she thinks is fair enough to deserve it." Suddenly a band of Ophidians attacks followers of Lilith Velkor and kills several of them. Lilith Velkor leads her people in an unprecedented attack on the Ophidians. They storm up the side of the great pyramid and throw the Ophidians down to the street, killing them. Amazingly, they succeed in wiping out all the Ophidians. Gruad declares that Lilith Velkor must die. When the opportunity presents itself, his men seize her and take her to a dungeon. There an enormous wheel has been constructed with four spokes in the shape:
Lilith Velkor is crucified with ropes, upside down, on this device. Several members of the Party of Science lounge about, watching her die. Gruad enters, goes to the wheel and looks at the dying woman, who says, "This is as good a day to die as any." Gruad remonstrates with her, saying that death is a great evil and she should fear it. She laughs and says, "All my life I have despised tradition and now I despise innovation also. Surely, I must be a most wicked example for the world!" She dies laughing. Gruad's rage is unbearable. He vows that he will wait no longer; Atlantis is too wicked to save and he will destroy it.
On a windswept plain in the northern regions of Atlantis a huge teardrop-shaped rocket with graceful fins is poised on the launching pad. Gruad is in the control room making last-minute adjustments while Kajeci and Wo Topod argue with him. Gruad says, "The human race will survive. It will survive the better purged of these Atlanteans, who are nothing but swine, nothing but robots, nothing but creatures who do not understand good and evil. Let them perish." His finger strikes a red button and the rocket hurtles on its way to the sun. It will take several days to reach there, and meanwhile Gruad has gathered the Unbroken Circle on an airship which takes them away from Atlantis and into the huge mountains to the east in a region that will one day be called Tibet. Gruad calculates that by the time the missile strikes the sun, they will have been landed and underground for two hours. The sun rides blinding yellow over the plains of Atlantis. It is a beautiful day in Zukong Gimorlad-Siragosa, the sun shining down on its slender, graceful towers with spider web bridges spiraling among them, its parks, its temples, its museums, its fine public buildings and magnificent private palaces. Its handsome, richly furred people gracefully stride amidst the beauties of the first and finest civilization man has ever produced. Families, lovers, friends and enemies, all unsuspecting what is about to happen, enjoy their private moments. A quintet plays the melodious zinthron, balatet, mordan, swaz and fendrar. Over all, however, the great eye on the side of Gruad's pyramid glares horrid and red.
Suddenly the sun's body rages. Coiled flames, balls of gas, roll out. The sun looks like a giant fiery arachnid or octopus. One great flame comes rolling toward the earth, burning red gas which turns yellow, then green, then blue, then white.
There is nothing left of Zukong Gimorlad-Siragosa, except the pyramid with its upper segment now resting on the base, the antigravity generators having been destroyed. The baleful eye looks out over an absolutely flat, burnt-black plain. The ground shakes, great cracks open. The blackened area is a great circle, hundreds of miles in diameter, beyond which is a dark brown and still desolate wasteland. Thousands of cracks appear in the brittle surface of the continent, the strength of whose rocks has been destroyed by the incredible heat of the solar flare. A tide of mud starts crawling over the empty plain. It leaves only the top of the pyramid, with the great eye, showing. Water sweeps over the mud, at first sinking in and standing in pools, then rising higher so that only the tip of the pyramid sticks out of a great lake. Under the water enormous parallel fissures open in the ground on either side of the blackened central circle. The midsection of the continent, including the pyramid, begins to sink. The pyramid falls into the depths of the ocean with cliffs rising on either side of it to the parts of Atlantis that still remain above the ocean. They will remain for many thousands of years more, and they will be the Atlantis remembered in the legends of men. But the true Atlantis- high Atlantis- is gone.
Gruad stares into his crimson-glowing viewplate, watching the destruction of Atlantis. The light changes color, from red to gray, and the face of Gruad turns gray. It is a terrible face. It has aged a hundred years in the last few minutes. Gruad may claim to be in the right, but deep down he knows that what he has done isn't nice. And yet deep down there is satisfaction, too, for Gruad, long tortured by unreasonable guilt, now has something he can really feel guilty about. He turns to the Unbroken Circle and proposes, since it appears that the earth will survive the cataclysm (he was not really sure that it would), that they plan for the future. Most of them, however, are still in shock. Wo Topod, inconsolable, stabs himself to death, the first recorded time that a member of the human race has deliberately killed himself. Gruad calls upon his followers to destroy all remains of the Atlantean civilization and then, later, to build a perfect civilization when even the ruins of Atlantis have been forgotten.
The great beasts that inhabited Europe, Asia and North America die off as a result of mutations and diseases caused by the solar flare. All relics of the Atlan-tean civilization are destroyed. The people who were Gruad's erstwhile countrymen are either killed or driven forth to wander the earth. Besides Gruad's Himalayan colony there is one other remnant of the High Atlantean era: the Pyramid of the Eye, whose ceramic substance resisted solar flare, earthquake, tidal wave and submersion in the depths of the ocean. Gruad explains that it is right that the eye should remain. It is the eye of God, the One, the scientific-technical eye of ordered knowledge that looks down on the universe and by perceiving it causes it to be. If an event is not witnessed, it does not happen; therefore, for the universe to happen there must be a Witness.
Among the primitive hunters and gatherers a mutation has appeared that seems to be spreading rapidly. More and more people are being born without fur and with hair in the same pattern as Gruad's. The Hour of God's Eye has caused mutations in every species.
From the Himalayas the rocket ships of the Unbroken Circle, painted red and white, swoop out in squadrons. They sweep across Europe and land on the brown islands where Atlantis used to be. There they land and raid a city of refugees from the Atlantean disaster. They kill many of the leaders and intellectuals and herd the rest aboard the ships, fly to the Americas and deposit the helpless people on a vast plain. Far below their route of passage lies the Pyramid of the Eye at the bottom of the Atlantic. The base of the pyramid is covered with silt and the break where the upper part of the pyramid had floated on antigravity projectors is also covered. Still the pyramid itself towers over the mud around it, taller by three times than the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the building of which lies twenty-seven thousand years in the future. A vast shadow descends upon the pyramid. There is a suggestion in the darkness of the ocean bottom of giant tentacles, of sucker disks wide as the rims of volcanos, of an eye as big as the sun looking at the eye on the pyramid. Something touches the pyramid, and enormous as it is, it moves slightly. Then the presence is gone.
The pentagonal trap in which the people of Atlantis had heroically and brilliantly caught the dread ancient being Yog Sothoth has been, amazingly, undamaged by the catastrophe. Being on the southern plain, which was relatively uninhabited, the Pentagon of Yog Sothoth becomes the center of a migration of people who survived the disaster. Emergency cities are set up, those dying of radiation sickness are treated. A second Atlantis begins to take root. And then, from the Himalayas, the ships of the Unbroken Circle come swooping down on one of their raids. Lines of Atlantean men and women are marched to the walls of the Pentagon and there mowed down by laser fire. Then explosive charges are placed amid the heaps of bodies and the masked, uniformed men of the Unbroken Circle withdraw. There is a series of explosions; horrid yellow smoke goes coiling up. The gray stone walls crumble. There is a moment of stillness, balance, tension. Then the piled-up boulders of one side of the wall fly apart as if thrust by the hand of a giant. An enormous claw print appears in the soft soil around the ruins of the Pentagon. The masked men of the Unbroken Circle race frantically for their ships and take off. The ships dart into the sky, stop suddenly, waver and plummet like stones to explosive crashes on the earth. The surviving refugees scream and scatter. Like a scythe going through wheat, death sweeps among them in great arcs as they run in massed mobs. Mouths open in soundless screams, they fall. Only a handful escapes. Over the scene a colossal reddish figure of indeterminate shape and number of limbs stands triumphant.
In the Himalayas, Gruad and the Unbroken Circle watch the destruction of the Pentagon and the massacre of the Atlanteans. The Unbroken Circle cheers, but Gruad strangely weeps. "You think I hate walls?" he says. "I love walls. I love any kind of wall. Anything that separates. Walls protect good people. Walls lock away the evil. There must always be walls and the love of walls, and in the destruction of the great Pentagon that held Yog Sothoth I read the destruction of all that I stand for. Therefore I am stricken with regret."
At this the face of EVOE, a young priest, takes on a reddish glow and a demoniac look. There is more than a hint of possession. "It is good to hear you say that," he says to Gruad. "No man yet has befriended me, though many have tried to use me. I have prepared a special place for your soul, oh first of the men of the future." Gruad attempts to speak to Yog Sothoth, but the possession has apparently passed, and the other members of the Unbroken Circle praise a new beverage that Evoe has prepared, made of the fermented juice of grapes. At dinner, later that day, Gruad tries the new beverage and praises it, saying, "This juice of grapes relaxes me and does not cause the disturbing visions and sounds that makes the herb the Atlanteans used to smoke so unpleasant for a man of conscience." Evoe gives him more to drink from a fresh jar, and Gruad takes it. Before drinking he says, "Any culture that arises in the next twenty thousand years or so is going to have the rot of Atlantis in it. Therefore I decree a noncultural time of eight hundred generations. After that we may allow man free reign on his propensity for building civilizations. The culture he builds will be under our guidance, with our ideas implicit in its every aspect, with our control at every stage. Eight hundred generations from now the new human culture will be planted. It will follow the natural law. It will have the knowledge of good and evil, the light that comes from the sun, the sun that blasphemers say is only an apple. It is no apple, I tell you, though it is a fruit, even as this beverage of Evoe's that I now quaff is from a fruit. From the grape comes this drink and from the sun comes the knowledge of good and evil, the separation of light and darkness over the whole earth. Not an apple, but the fruit of knowledge!" Gruad drinks. He puts down his glass, clutches his throat and staggers back. His other hand goes to his heart. He topples over and lies on his back, his eyes staring upward.
Naturally, everyone accuses Evoe of poisoning Gruad. But Evoe calmly answers that it was Lilith Velkor who did it. He was doing research on the energies of the dead and had learned how to take them into him. But sometimes the energies of the dead could take control of him, so that he would be just a medium through which they act. He cries, "When you write this tragedy into the archives, you must say, not that Evoe the man did it, but Evoe-Lilith, possessed by the evil spirit of a woman. The woman did tempt me, I tell you! I was helpless." The Unbroken Circle is persuaded, and agree that since Lilith Velkor and the crazy goddess she worshipped were responsible for Gruad's death, henceforward women must be subordinate to men so such evils will not be repeated. They decide to build a tomb for Gruad and to inscribe upon it, "The First Illuminated One: Never Trust A Woman." They decide that since the lloigor is loose they will offer sacrifices to it, and the sacrifices will be pure young women who have never lain with a man. Evoe seems to be taking control of the group and Gao Twone protests this. To prove his dedication to the true and the good, Evoe declares, he has had his penis amputated as a sacrifice to the All-Seeing Eye. He pulls open his robe. All look at his truncated crotch and immediately retch. Evoe goes on, "Furthermor.e, it is decreed by the Eye and Natural Law that all male children who would be close to goodness and truth must imitate my sacrifice, at least to the extent of losing the foreskin or being cut enough to bleed." Kajeci comes in at this point, and they plan a great funeral, agreeing that they will not burn Gruad as was the Atlantean custom, signifying that one is dead forever, but will preserve his body, symbolizing the hope that he is not really dead but will rise again.
There follow several thousand years of warfare between the remnants of the Atlanteans and the inhabitants of Agharti, the stronghold of the Scientists, who now call themselves variously the Knowledgeable or the Enlightened Ones. The last remnants of the Atlantean culture are destroyed. Great cities were built, then destroyed by nuclear explosions. All the inhabitants of the city of Peos are killed in one night by the eater of souls. Chunks of the continent break off and sink into the sea. There are earthquakes and tidal waves. Finally, only outcroppings like the cone-shaped island of Fernando Poo rise alone from the sea where Atlantis had been.
About 13,000 B.C. a new culture is planted on a hillside near the headwaters of the Euphrates and it starts to spread. A tribe of Cro-Magnons, magnificently tall, strong, large-headed people, is marched at gunpoint down from the snows of Europe to the fertile lands of the Middle East. They are taken to the site chosen for the first agricultural settlement and shown how to plant crops. For several years they do so while the Unbroken Circle's men guard them with flame throwers. Their generations pass rapidly, and once the new way of life has taken hold the Illuminated Ones leave them alone. The tribe divides into kings, priests, scribes, warriors, and farmers. A city surrounded by farms rises up. The kings and priests are soft, weak and fat. The peasants are stunted and dulled by malnutrition. The warriors are big and strong, but brutal and unintelligent. The scribes are intelligent, but thin and bloodless. Now the city makes war on neighboring tribes of barbarians. Being well organized and technologically superior, the people of the city win. They enslave the barbarians and plant other cities nearby. Then a great tribe of barbarians comes down from the north and conquers the civilized people and burns their city. This is not the end of the new civilization, though. It only revitalizes it. Soon the conquerors have learned to play the roles of kings, priests and warriors, and now there is a kind of nation consisting of several cities with a large body of armed who must be kept occupied. Marching robotlike in great square formations, they set out over the plain to find new peoples to conquer. The sun shines down on the civilization created by the Illuminati. And below the sea the eye on the pyramid glares balefully upward.