Living in such a state          taTestaTesTaTe          etats a hcus ni gniviL
 of mind in which time         sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA         emit hcihw ni dnim of
 does not pass, space         STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE         ecaps ,ssap ton seod
 does not exist, and         sTATeSt        oFOfOfo         dna ,tsixe ton seod
 idea is not there.         STatEst          ofoFOFo         .ereht ton si aedi
 Stuck in a place          staTEsT            OfOFofo          ecalp a ni kcutS
 where movements           TATeSTa            foFofoF           stnemevom erehw
 are impossible                              fOFoFOf             elbissopmi era
 in all forms,                             UsOFofO                ,smrof lla ni
 physical and                            nbEifof                   dna lacisyhp
 or mental -                           uNBeInO                      - latnem ro
 your mind is                         UNbeinG                      si dnim rouy
 focusing on a                       unBEING                      a no gnisucof
 lone thing, or                      NBeINgu                     ro ,gniht enol
 a lone nothing.                     bEinGUn                    .gnihton enol a
 You are numb and                    EiNguNB                   dna bmun era ouY
 unaware to events                                            stneve ot erawanu
 taking place - not                  -iSSuE-                 ton - ecalp gnikat
 knowing how or what                 3/25/95                tahw ro woh gniwonk
 to think. You are in                FiFTEEN               ni era uoY .kniht ot
 a state of unbeing....                                  ....gniebnu fo etats a



EDiTORiAL by Kilgore Trout



by Kilgore Trout

Yeah, I know, from the table of contents this issue looks small, but it's not. I'm quite pleased with it, other than the fact that there's only one poem and one story, but I suppose that's partially my fault since I didn't pay my internet provider until yesterday (read: put the check in the mail). So if you sent something in for this issue, I'll take a look at it for the next one.

Big news this issue is that I put out State of unBeing #8 in between this issue and the last issue. True, it was only a few hours before this issue, but it IS out. So get it from where you got this issue.

As for this issue, we're trying to be a little more "high brow" as we've come to jokingly call ourselves around the Apocalypse Culture Publication offices (haha). Since schools don't really do a good job of educating, we decided to include a little history lesson about a really cool guy who's dead now. Geechy Guy did a funny comedy routine on him. "Give me liberty, or give me, er, well, death is a little harsh, dontcha think? All I'm saying is that if you've got some extra liberty lying around, I'd like a piece of it..." But enough about strange looking comedians. We've got some lovely articles on the purpose of writing and why being naive in writing can be a good thing. Plus I've included the first part of my first normal story ever. Sorry if that lets you down, but dammit, I like it.

Once again, let me just say that we are always looking for new writers. We'd love to have some diversity around here. Opposing viewpoints, some letters to the editor or authors (send it all to me), or even GASP some articles and literature. Send it in. You don't get paid, but hey, you can say you got published.

Captain Moonlight promised he'd continue his guerilla warfare series next issue, so all of you guys docked out in cameo with rifles in the woods waiting for the next installment, be patient. He has to do a little more research. Wouldn't want to follow someone's instructions that weren't well written, would ya? ESPECiALLY if it could mean your life.

Not much else really. I'm just tired from putting together two zines tonight. Hope you like it. And, as we've always said, if you don't like it, go start your own damn zine.



Kilgore Trout

Crux Ansata
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
Kilgore Trout
Nemo est Sanctus
Not Myself


[=- ARTiCLES -=]


[Editorial | Next]

by Nemo est Sanctus

I have been meaning to go to a so-called "Poetry Slam" for some time. I don't know if this is a regional term, so for the benefit of those outside the area, a "Poetry Slam" is a kind of open mic poetry reading. The term, to the best of my knowledge, came from the High Times, a local brain bar, where the custom was to deride poetry rather than applaud it. Anyway, these poetry readings have since cropped up across the area. Nonetheless, I had not yet gone to one.

I did not have a legitimate reason to not go to one. Friends of friends had been in them, and friends had attended. I had even been with a friend when his girl friend's friends were inside at one. I sat outside on the porch. Truth is, I suppose, I was frightened to. Frightened of what, I don't know. Mostly of disappointment, I suppose. I'd heard local poets on the university radio talk shows and I'd met a couple of performers, and between that and what I had heard from friends, it was not as good as I would hope.

I was pleasantly surprised, though. The coffee shop I went to was having its first open mic night, and so there was a mixture of old things and new things and many people with multiple pieces, but as yet no "voice". Many of the people knew each other. I had expected college age pseudo-intellectuals, as clog the art deco coffee shops around campus, but these were mostly high school age people. It got me to considering the coffee shop, and some other topics.

People who present at these open mic nights seem to be very pleased with themselves. And well they should be; I was the same way when I was first printed in my high school's literary magazine or in State of unBeing. (I was less pleased when my writing was butchered in my high school's second literary magazine, but Kilgore has seen fit to schedule the uncut version of that story for SoB #8.) The thing is, it is a lot like a literary magazine: It is not exactly achieving publication or fame, but it has its chances. An coffee house, or a literary magazine, can be nothing more than a shoal on the shore of literature, or it could be the next Cheap Truth.

People at these coffee shops too seem to think this is a new concept. Of course, they are generally aware -- dimly -- of the beat generation's coffee shops, and I suppose they aspire to a rebirth of this concept. There have been, however, "coffee shops" in one form or another since at least the seventeen hundreds. Back then they were called salons, and the middle aged women who ran them would affect airs and read from Voltaire, considering themselves educated people. And, I imagine, some great people were connected with the movement.

What, though, separates an unknown salon from a Cheap Truth? The thing that makes the difference is, as I previously alluded, a "voice". Many other elements are needed -- distribution, budget, time -- but when a "voice" has been achieved these others are inevitable.

And what, Nemo, do you mean by "voice"? Simply this: The greatest journals, schools, movements, etc., have all operated around a philosophy and a vision. This is true not only of literature, but of politics as well. Who has read of the history of Marxism and not heard of Iskara, "The Spark", which provided the voice of the Bolsheviks before the October Revolution? Iskara allowed the movement to develop its philosophy, to reach out its message to other readers and possible recruits, but most of all it provided a forum for the theoretical leaders to discuss matters in a scholarly manner while still educating the public.

This is not to imply stagnation, however. Too often with political journals today, and perhaps why there are no real movements in politics today, there is no dissension, as they say, among the ranks. In Iskara, Lenin was not always right, and he changed his mind and debated openly with those who didn't agree. The important thing, though, was that the movement continued forward despite -- because of -- the disagreements.

What does this have to do with a coffee shop, or indeed with a literary magazine? If one is to be successful, it must come to develop its own philosophy. It is important to have a qualified editor in the case of a journal, and in both cases a circle of qualified writers must be assembled. Even with both of these, though, without a movement or a focus the endeavor will simply be a sounding ground where a couple of authors will present a couple of times and then move on, leaving nothing but the dregs to present their mediocre works. What is needed is a circle of theoreticians along with the writers.

What would a literary movement be without critics? What would a political party -- spoken in the nineteenth century sense and not in the modern two-"party" bastardization -- be without theoreticians? In both cases, stagnant. The writers would continue in their own manners, with no focus. The political writers would complain about the state of the world, with no idea of how this is to be repaired. It has been said that Cyberpunk was a writer and a critic; without either, there would have been no movement, but the movement eventually shook the entire world. It has been said that the beat movement was a handful of authors in a coffee shop before the "movement" was recognized, but because these were theoreticians also, the movement could be born, incubate in a back room, and again shake the world. The success of the Bolsheviks in shaking the world need hardly be mentioned.

So, as Lenin said, what is to be done? The answer is essentially the same in all cases. If a journal, coffee shop, or political movement are to be successful, their main members need to become familiar with each other, and the theoreticians among them must come to understand the movement that is developing among them. A coffee shop does not provide an appropriate forum for the reading of literary criticism, but when the familiars are known to each other, essays and concepts will get exchanged. There is no better place than a coffee shop. It is imperative, though, that the movement define itself. Else, the movement, coffee shop, journal, will die.

More important, though, is that the coffee be strong and plentiful.


"Let every conscientious man ask himself this question: Is he ready? Is he so clear in his mind about the new organization towards which we are moving, through the medium of those vague general ideas of collective property and social solidarity? Does he know the process -- apart from sheer destruction -- which will accomplish the transformation of old forms into new ones?"

--Alexander Herzen


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AiDS Update ["Kill Em 'All -- The Truth About AiDS"]
by Clockwork

Alright, boys and girls, here I am again. Many of you wanted more information and such, and I promised I would write up another article. And BOOM! I have...

Many of you wanted to know where I got my information from. Well, prepare for a bibliography from hell... And, you can check all these things out for yourself, you can attain all these articles from somewhere. I am not exactly sure where. Maybe the library -- that's always a fun place. Of course, there are better places to go. However, if you don't want to spend all the time looking for all this crap yourself, don't worry. Just send a letter to our Kilgore saying that you would like the information on AIDS. And make sure to leave your name and e-mail address so we can contact you.

Now for the list...

"The Real Cause and Cure of AIDS," by Everett G. Jarvis.

"AIDS, A Plot To Kill People?" by John Hairhall, Baltimore Evening Sun.

A public statement made by Professor Jakob Segal from Berlin, Germany ... obtained from the New York Transfer News Service. You can also get his book (in German) -- "AIDS, Die Spur fuehrt ins Pentagon."

Neur Weg Verlag
Kaninenberghoehe 2
W-4300 Essen 1

"Who's Making Money Off Of AIDS?" by Steve Painter, from The Green Left Weekly.

"The Strecker Memorandum," by Dr. Robert Strecker. You can obtain MUCH information from Dr. Strecker and The Strecker Group. They even offer a videotape for $30. You can write to them at:

The Strecker Group
1216 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Or, you can call them: 213-977-1210, 213-977-0701, or 800-548-3198. Just call them up and ask for information about AIDS and they will send it to you.

I got many articles from a publication called New Dawn Magazine, which comes out of Australia. I do not have the address off hand, but I do have the articles:

"Shocking Revelations On AIDS Research"
"AIDS: Man-Made Holocaust"
"The Mystery of Skull Valley"
"AIDS: As Biological or Psychological Warfare"

"Scientist's Polio Fears Unheeded," from The Houston Post, Friday, April 17, 1992. Not exactly AIDS, but very interesting...

A document written by one Campbell Douglas, M.D.

And an article out of Covert Action Information Bulletin #28:
Box 50272
Washington, D.C. 20004

Henry Kissinger's "top secret" document was National Security Memorandum 200, and can be obtained from the National Archives. Call them or write them up, and you can probably get a copy sent to you.

Out of the U.S. Senate Library, you can get a copy of the Appropriations Hearing on July, 1969, when the Dept. of the Army requested $10 million to research a virus to destroy the immune system.

Now, I have everything listed above, except for the videotape. I also do not have copies of the National Security Memorandum, and the Appropriations Hearing, but I have seen them. So, if you want any of this stuff, write us. You will probably have to pay for shipping and handling, but believe me, it is worth it.

WAIT! I am not done yet .... as an added bonus I have included some more interesting things...

I will now reprint a speech given by one Mr. Craig Hulet. He was a former advisor to the National Security Council and a former consultant to many multi-national companies. He has over 4 years writing and lecturing to share with everybody who will listen. Mr. Hulet knows personally the kind of men who are running the world. He knows what they're up to and he is trying to warn us. This speech was given on July 25th, 1992, at the Hilton Hotel in L.A. His subject was George Bush and the New World Order, but at that end of the evening, he was asked a specific question about AIDS, and this is how he responded:

"... biological warfare virus by the U.S. Military. Sure... I really hate that subject. You know, we're never, ever going to be able to prove -- Strecker, William Douglas -- we'll never be able to prove that AIDS was developed specifically to reduce the populations of Central Africa, the black inner cities, drug users, prostitutes and homosexuals. But it just seems strange to me that all through the 1960's and 1970's, there were books published; [the] Global 2000 Report to the President, [the] the Club of Rome wrote a book on overpopulation -- I must have over 50 books on over-population and the need to get rid of a certain large amount of people on the planet. Now, they never say which people out to be gotten rid of, but it seems a major coincidence that the same people that are starving in Ethiopia, in the Sudan, are the same people that getting AIDS and dying. By the year 2000, they expect 60 million blacks in Central Africa to die of AIDS. 60 million! It could be as many as 20 million in America. Homosexuals, predominantly, and the interesting thing is, it is not a homosexual disease. It IS a man-made, mutated disease. It had to have been man-made. Sheep do not get together and do chemical experiments on their viruses. So, a man had to graft this bovine virus, which they now that's what it is, onto a human cell. It had to be made. So we know it's man-made. They know it's transmitted with the ... because t most effective device ... the best test to discover if you have A not a blood test, it's a saliva test. Now why haven't they told us that?

"It's not a sexually transmitted disease, it's simply a disease that gets transmitted. And you can get it by sneezing on someone. Why don't they tell us that? In the Congressional Record, it says that it can be transmitted "effectively" by mosquitoes. It says so. The Center for Disease Control, in the Congressional Record, says that it is transmitted by mosquitoes in Belgrade, Florida -- they know it for a fact. Why haven't they told us that AIDS is being transmitted by mosquitoes? They say it to themselves in the Congressional Record, why don't they tell us?

"OK. Here's my theory. Whether or not [AIDS] was created for the purpose of exterminating the very same, coincidentally, same anti-social element that the men I did business with for 15 or 20 years, thought ought to be gotten rid of anyways; homosexuals, prostitutes, blacks, etc., and of course the Black Continent -- they want the resources but they certainly don't want to feed the people, see? Why is that they are allowing all of these myths to be told -- the destruction to take place, and they're doing nothing to stop it? Here's my theory, and this is all it is -- is a theory -- that they'll find a cure when about 1 billion people on this planet have died from AIDS, starvation and disease -- all over the world, all of a sudden Eli Lilly, who is one of the major corporations doing AIDS research -- and coincidentally, George Bush on the Board of Eli Lilly -- when they finally eliminate huge sections of the population, which is what they always wanted throughout the 1960's and 1970's, because of over-population -- it's called "mitigating the problem." They feel that AIDS and famine and disease will mitigate the problem of over-population. I suspect that around the year 2010 or so, all of a sudden Eli Lilly will announce that phenomenal cure for AIDS, but not until a lot people die. Like I said, it seems a major coincidence to me that the very same men I did business with for years, dislike the most, those people happen to be the ones contracting AIDS -- happens to be the ones that are dying in famines and pestilence -- I don't believe in the "Coincidence The History" -- I just don't. I haven't for a long time because National Security Council is too brilliantly planned. They plan to the most minute detail. I can't believe that all of this is coincidence. That's all I can say though.

"I'm going to do a White Paper on that one of these days. One of the reasons I haven't is that if you talk about AIDS, you never get invited on the university campus -- you follow me? So I never address AIDS ... for 4 years I've had material on AIDS that addresses this in some fundamental way, and some of it was very good documentation, proving some of the things that I just said, but I have never discussed it because if you discuss AIDS, I guarantee you, you will never be a speaker on the university campuses." [Craig Hulet]

Here's the other treat for you. This is the House of Common Social Services Committee, and this is a document prepared by the Royal Society of Medicine. You can not get more official than this in Great Britain. And this is what they say:

"The scale of the deceptions and misinformation perpetrated by virologists, clinicians and editors of scientific and medical journals about the ineffectivity of genital secretions, compared with that of blood and saliva, has been astonishing. In the presence of a new, lethal virus, spreading amongst people, for which no vaccine or cure is in sight, every person would assume that scientists have been working day and night to verify how it is transmitted. On the contrary, having assumed for a variety of motives that AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease like syphilis or gonorrhea, a negligible research effort has gone into the critical matter of transmission. A few preliminary papers were published and their findings have been repeatedly quoted as showing the opposite of what they actually showed. When this was pointed out in letters to the editors of American medical and scientific journals, publication has been refused. No attempt has been made to check or double-check the findings of other laboratories, or to rectify published errors.

"As far as it goes, the tiny research effort into infectivity of bodily fluids indicates that saliva is far more infectious than genital secretions, but that blood is vastly more infectious than either. Consequently, the idea that condoms can have any significant effect on the spread of AIDS in a nation is utterly preposterous.

"Governments all over the world are spending millions of pounds [dollars], advising their citizens to present AIDS by using condoms on the basis of MANIFESTLY FRAUDULENT misrepresentation of scientific evidence."

So! There you go! I highly recommend calling up Dr. Strecker and getting the information that he has. Lot's-o-stuff. Aren't you really happy now? Aren't you just overjoyed that our government does this kind of thing?

Ain't life grand?


"Hereditary bondsmen! Know ye not
Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?"

-- Lord Byron


[Prev | Next]

[Other "Notes"]

by Crux Ansata

The words came out devoid of meaning or emotion or inflection, as if the voices from which they issued were barely human. But then, emotion was not demanded or even desired. Rote recitation was good enough; the object was compliance, not belief. The goal was to breed the habit of not caring. Insincerity was expected and not punished. The game was far subtler than that.

-- Amerika by Brauna E. Pouns

The preceding quote does not refer to the American Pledge of Allegiance, though it could. Today, the Pledge is "said" in schools across the nation, but just as in Amerika, the idea is not to foster feeling. Rather, two other things are achieved by this rote recitation of the Pledge: submission to the command of the teacher and a demeaning of what the Pledge stands for by presenting it not as a creed but rather as a block.

Many of the persons in the schools where the Pledge is required refuse to say it. There are a number of reasons for this, and there is nothing wrong with it. It is better to refuse to say the Pledge because one disagrees with it than it is to say the Pledge despite one's disagreement with it simply to submit to the dictates of the school. Nonetheless, in my opinion, this refusal is misplaced, for the Pledge is fundamentally a revolutionary document.

As with many of the great revolutionary documents of American history, the reactionary forces that rule our nation now have tried to drain all meaning from the Pledge. Rather than the revolutionary statement it is, it has been presented as a pledge of allegiance to the government, rather than to an ideal. It is not that, as an analysis of the text will show.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag..." To the flag. In the Third Reich, citizens pledged their allegiance to Hitler, to a man. The same has held true for many nations throughout history: that the pledge of allegiance is to a man or to a State. The Pledge, however, makes no such call. Rather, it is a pledge to a flag.

Is this, then, a pledge to a dead symbol? Not so. The American flag is a symbol -- one of great revolutionary significance; but that is another essay. Nonetheless, it is not a dead symbol. In ancient Rome, the soldiers pledged their allegiance to their standard, but they did not mistake this as being a dead symbol. Rather, they took their standards as divine symbols of their unit. It was to the unit that they were pledging, and indeed the Pledge continues "and to the Republic, for which it stands."

Why to a flag, then? Every movement has had its symbols, as a focus. An ideal, is of course most desired, but to think of an ideal is near impossible. A standard or a focus is necessary, for morale if for nothing else. The standard was not carried into battle simply for show or for signaling. Rather, the standard itself provides a kind of psychic focus by which the people can love their ideals through a symbol. Just as a Christian does not worship a cross, but rather the Man for whom it stands, so to does an American pledge not to a flag, but to the Republic, for which it stands.

"... the Republic ..." -- this is an interesting phrase. For, what does 'Republic' mean? 'Res publica' -- 'the public thing'. This does not, cannot, mean a State, except wherein a State serves as 'the thing of the public'. To pledge to the Republic does not mean to pledge to the State, but to that thing which is of the people -- the ideal nation. Except in modern America, 'Republican' throughout time and space has meant one opposed to the tyranny of an unjust State. This was true in the early U.S., this is true in Ireland, and so on. Interestingly, though, this is the axis upon which much pledge protest rotates. The schools have taught for so long that the Republic for which the flag stands is the U.S. government that people have begun to believe it. This is not entirely true, though, as it is to the ideal that the U.S. attains that is the Republic.

Anyone who still doubts this need only continue the statement. The Pledge itself defines what the Republic for which the flag stands is. It does not say "which is the U.S. government," but rather "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all." Any State wherein there is no liberty and justice for all, then, is not the republic for which the flag stands, or so says the Pledge. Nor is it any State wherein anyone is oppressed, for we are "one nation". As in Ireland, we fight for "a republic, united, boys, and real" -- to quote from Black 47's "The Big Fellah".

(A parenthetical note should likely be here made about the meaning of the "under God" clause, as many have attempted to undermine our nation with such smokescreens as allegations of religious insensitivity. This clause was added in the fifties -- about twenty years after the Pledge was written -- and means simply that we are one nation. Under protests, it has been revised at times to say such things as "under the sun", thus demonstrating definitively that the intent is not to segregate by religion but to united under the heavens. It should tell one a lot about the true goals of the American Atheists and others who refused to accept even this revision. But even were it to mean literally what it appears to, what God would this mean? Likely, it would be the so-called Nature's God in which the generation of the Revolution believed. This would not be a sectarian God, but was rather their catch phrase for the interrelatedness of the universe, and so here God means about what Bucky Fuller would mean by Universe. "One nation, under God," then, expands out to "one nation, as it is meant to be under the divine laws that set the universe into motion," for we, as Men, are meant to be united, with liberty and justice for all.)

Far from a simple oath of fealty, then, the Pledge is actually a more complex document. The first clause -- "I pledge allegiance" is simply an acknowledgement that one is committed to the following, but from there it gets more dense. The second clause -- "to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands" -- defines to what allegiance is being sworn, and establishes that it is not to the nation that allegiance is being pledged but rather to the flag and goals of that nation, the Republic for which the United States itself stands. The final clause -- "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all" -- defines the American Dream. In this pledge, the taker agrees to struggle to equality and freedom for all oppressed persons, a truly revolutionary sentiment.

Clavell, in his short The Children's Story, warned what happens when the people permit the schools to teach children disdain for the revolutionary symbols and creeds of the past. Those of us with a knowledge of history, however, must take back our idols. Perhaps we will one day have reclaimed our children and our roots, and then we can finally say with the guerrilla in Larry Kirwan's Days of Rage:

Give me liberty or give me death! Nothin's ever goin' to be the same again! No more beggin' for civil rights. No more, "hell no, we won't go"! Tonight we fought back and nothin's goin' to stop us now!

This government murdered my brothers and sisters at Kent State. And all because a bunch of kids dared to disagree with the "Imperial" foreign policy. That's why we brought the war home and that's why those fascists are going to think twice, before they invade Cambodia or any other country again!

"I have a dream," the man said, well I have a dream too. I'm goin' to bring this country back to a white heat and remold it all over again. You can call me a radical or a troublemaker, you can even call me crazy. But I'm probably more patriotic than you.

America -- love it or leave it! Well, I'm an American too and I'm not going anywhere, until that flag, once more, becomes a symbol of beauty and truth to all the oppressed peoples of the world.

When I was a child I used to love to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


"While men are gazing up to Heaven, imagining after a happiness, or fearing a Hell after they are dead, their eyes are put out, that they see now what is their birthright."

--Gerrard Winstanley


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by Adidas

Tribute to The Man With A Voice:

Patrick Henry

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

That is an exert from Patrick Henry's most famous speech. He delivered this speech on March 23, 1775 in front of the Virgina Provincial Convention. While written records of the speech were never made, the entire speech was printed in a biography of Patrick Henry by a William Wirt. He relied mostly on accounts of people who heard the speech.

Patrick Henry was born in Hanover County in Virgina. Henry studied law and received his license to practice in 1760. He won some fame in a lawsuit called "the Parson's Cause." Patrick Henry was elected to the Virgina House of Burgesses in 1764. In 1765 he spoke out against the Stamp Act * (Footnote 1), in his speech according to tradition, these are the often quoted words: "Caesar had his Brutus--Charles the First, his Cromwell--and George the Third--may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it."

Henry was elected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in August of 1774. He was also a member of the Second Continental Congress for a short while in 1775. After that he was a commander in chief of Virginia's military forces, he then resigned in February 1776. A few months after that, he was chosen to help draw up the first constitution of the commonwealth of Virginia.

Henry became the governor of the new commonwealth of Virginia when it was established in 1776. He moved to the palace at Williamsburg (where English colonial governors had once lived). He referred to the voters as "fellow citizens", and through this showed his strong feeling of democracy. The Revolutionary War brought several problems to Virginia, and Patrick Henry worked to help fix these. He recruited 6,000 men for the Continental Army * , and he got 5,000 soldiers for the state militia. Henry encouraged mining lead to increase the ammunition supply, he also imported and manufactured gunpowder. He also set up shipyards and dockyards to protect the coast of Virginia. Even with all of his hard work, Henry was criticized, yet with all of this he was elected governor in 1777, 1778, 1784, and 1785 (During his second term, Henry helped the George Rogers Clark expedition by providing supplies).

In 1788 Henry returned to Law practice because his public services had left him horribly in debt. Because of his fame as a brilliant speaker, he got many clients and became a successful criminal lawyer. His law fees helped him by allowing him to buy land, and in 1794 he retired to his estate near Appomattox, Virgina.

During the next five or so years Henry received many requests to return to public life, but he refused them. He was offered a seat in the US Senate, posts as a minister to Spain and France, a place in Washington's Cabinet as Secretary of State, and the position of Chief Justice of the United States. In 1796 Henry was elected governor again, for the sixth time, but he refused the position.

Finally Washington was able to persuade Henry to become a candidate for representative in the Virginia state legislature. Henry made his final, great speech during this campaign, the speech was a denial of a state's right to decide the constitutionality of federal laws.

Heres Henry's Final Speech
to the Voters

"United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into fractions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs."

-- While Henry did win the election, he died before he could take it.

Historical Quickie - As you may no Henry VII was the King of England who is famous for denying the Roman Catholic Church, and for having six wives. You may also know that he had so many wives because he wanted a son, and he didn't get one from all of his wives, he either had them executed or divorced. What you may NOT know is that it was not the fault of his wives, but the fault of Henry himself, he didn't have the correct chromosomes to have a son.

FootNote 1

Stamp Act - The Stamp Act was one of the several taxes Britian had placed on the Americas to help pay of the French and Indian War Debts. The Stamp Act was passed in 1765 by the British Parliament. It required that revenue stamps by attached to all official documents and printed matter in the American Colonies. This included Cards, Dice, Marriage Licenses, and several other things.

FootNote 2

Continental Army - The Continental Army was the army that congress had appointed George Washington as the General of. The Continental Army was the army fighting for America in the American Revolution. Desertions were high, the army had fewer men than the British, the different states men didn't get along very well, and they had many other problems, but they managed to pull through, and win America its independence.


"Despotism has passed from the palaces of the kings to the circle of a committee. It is neither the royal robes nor the scepter nor the crown that makes kings hated, but ambition and tyranny. In my country, there has only been a change in dress."

--Jean Varlet, Explosion, 1793


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[Part 1]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan

As a writer, I see amazing potential in emulating Forrest Gump. His naivete is the gift every writer searches for, the ability to see life and the world around without prejudice.

In reading reviews of "Forrest Gump", I've realized that several reviewers simply do not understand the point of the movie. They cannot fathom what is so endearing about a retarded man who frequently misses the point about what's going on in his country during the 60's and 70's.

It is obvious to a writer what endears him to Forrest: He misses the point. The struggle for civil rights, the Vietnam War, Watergate -- Forrest isn't worried about the far-reaching social and political implications. Such a word as "implication" doesn't enter his vocabulary. He is blessedly naive. This is a gift.

For a short-story fiction writer, there is a small range of topics on which to write: sex, death, science, and politics. And humor if you're good. It's a short list, but it clearly includes the whole of humanity: politics includes religion, money, and sin, for example. Sex may include love, but not usually. And gay themes include all these topics; humor if you're optimistic.

Take a look at that last paragraph again. Do you feel it belongs in this essay about naivete in writing? Certainly it does. Obviously, the lists and the connections I've made reveal that I'm far from naive. But I appear to be a competent writer. So how does naivete come into the picture? How can it be achieved?

Naivete in writing is the ability to sit down and write without censoring yourself, without prejudging your characters and plots, without doubting the validity of your work. It is restraining yourself from deleting "happy" themes, from only creating characters as intelligent and worried as you are, from rewriting plots which "obviously" wouldn't happen in the real world.

An ordinary writer struggling to achieve naivete often finds that he groans whenever a character is idealistic, because, hell, where is there reason to be idealistic today? People are losing their faith and morality at an alarming rate. They're still killing the rain forests. The Zapatistas and Chechens face uphill revolutions. The Republicans control the House. Political and social doom are imminent. Millennialism will only make religious fervor worse. Good enough reasons for any idealistic character's future to seem bleak, huh?

In thinking up my story, "Joseph Tries Something New", I had the premise that I'd write about a naive character in college. Certainly I felt some measure of success when I left off after Joe got a haircut. But the deadline for that issue came, my piece wasn't finished, so I attached a normal ending for when I'm feeling decidedly non-naive: failure -- in this case, the failure of Joseph's idealism and wish to become non-conformist. At the second sitting, I had no intent in making Joseph naive anymore, for doing so would have required that I be feeling naive. My sociopolitical consciousness was raging that day, and it clearly shows in the character's demise.

For a writer to be naive, he must be consciously naive, which is apparently a paradox. And it is. A good writer has good knowledge about what he writes; after all, you can only write what you know. Naivete doesn't mean writing about what you don't know, however.

Look back over the stories or poetry of children, for example. It teems in naivete, but reeks of lack of knowledge. However soul-crushing it may be, to write naively and well requires intimate knowledge of the workings of the world. Naivete in writing requires personal detachment from the subject matter. Sociopolitical consciousness must go out the window; however, the knowledge must remain. Deadlines, egos, six-page quotas, and all other hindrances of real life must be put on hold.

I see Forrest Gump as an analogue to a naive writer. While the plot of the movie and the book are quite fantastic, considering the realistic life of a mentally retarded person (more of that non-naive sociopolitical consciousness leaking in), the manner in which Forrest explores his world, interacts with people, and accepts his current situation in life are directly analogous to the desired naivete the writer wishes to achieve while creating a piece of fiction.

Conscious actions such as character and plot development must be constantly going on in the author's mind, but none of this thought process can appear in the dialogue or actions of the characters. Blatant foreshadowing, especially of doom, is out. Inexplicable plot twists, caused by the author's sighed proclamation, "It's bound to happen", is out.

Along this line, writing for an audience is strictly illegal. This seems to go directly against the advice drilled into our heads by our loving grade- school English teachers. Their advice is valid for essays, persuasive pieces, and pieces of non-fiction, but for fiction, aiming for an audience is usually fatal to the hopes of achieving naivete. Writing specifically for SoB readers who use iSiS UNVEiLED and love playing Cyberspace -- unless the idea is extremely clever -- will simply result in a pigeonholed and contrived piece of writing which begs for mercy and receives none.

Naive writing does not mean that the story itself must be simplistic and naive. In fact, the most enjoyable part about reading good fiction is finding that there are several levels of thought beneath the printed-word exterior. Certainly, deep thoughts can be found in ordinary fiction. When the fiction is naive, however, finding these thoughts is much more enjoyable.

When naivete in fiction is achieved, whether accidentally or through concentrated effort, it is readily apparent. The piece will be read again and again, even by the author (the type of person is notorious for wanting to forget bad writing, especially his own). When such a piece of naive fiction emerges from an author's whirling mind and exhausted fingers, it is a miracle -- but a miracle which is achievable and repeatable. As Forrest Gump would say, "Holy shit, this is good!"

Happy writing.

[to Part III]


"Where are those who will come to serve the masses -- not to utilize them for their own ambitions?"

--Peter Kropotkin


[Prev | Next]

by Crux Ansata

"The point is," Des Hermies was always telling him, "that there is a basic difference between you and the other realists, and no patched-up alliance could possibly be of long duration. You execrate the age and they worship it. There is the whole matter. You were fated some day to get away from this Americanized art and attempt to create something less vulgar, less miserably commonplace, and infuse a little spirituality into it.

"In all your books you have fallen on our fin de siècle -- our queue du siècle -- tooth and nail. But, Lord! a man soon gets tired of whacking something that doesn't fight back but merely goes on its own way repeating its offenses. You needed to escape into another epoch and get your bearings while waiting for a congenial subject to present itself."

-- Là-Bas, page 21

So Des Hermies diagnoses Durtal, fictional writer and literary alter ego of the decadent author Joris-Karl Huysmans. Indeed, the decadent author is frequently a man out of time, and frequently turns to the Middle Ages as a time more attuned to them. Even in the novel set contemporary to its writing, A Rebours, Huysmans says:

The fact is that when the period in which a man of talent is condemned to live is dull and stupid, the artist is haunted, perhaps unknown to himself, by a nostalgic yearning for another age.

-- A Rebours, page 181

While by no means exclusive among decadents -- frequently they turn within, as Huysmans himself in A Rebours, or even to another world, as the quasi-decadent Dostoevsky in "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" -- the turn is often back in time to the Middle Ages, as was done in Là-Bas. In a genre so obsessed with escapism and with a wish to escape one's time, it is appropriate that many authors outside the time of the fin de siècle may have expressed decadence in their work. Poe, for example, was a decadent before the decadents, and Dostoevsky after. Lagerkvist, especially in The Dwarf, is such an author too; a decadent out of time. As Huysmans' Durtal says himself, "In the Beyond all things touch" (Là-Bas, page 52).

It would first be beneficial to define what exactly we mean by a "decadent novel." The premier decadent novel would be A Rebours (by Joris-Karl Huysmans), although other novels have demonstrated decadent traits, such as Là-Bas (also by Huysmans), The Picture of Dorian Gray (by Oscar Wilde), and, it may be argued, The Dwarf (by Pär Lagerkvist). The decadent novel is notable in a number of points. First, stylistically, the decadent novel at its purest has no real storyline. The focus rests more on the interior of the characters than on the exterior of the plot. The importance of the story is in how the events affect the protagonist, not how the protagonist affects the events. Second, thematically the decadent novel cultivates the artificial and the evil in man and the world. That which would normally be called deviant or aberrant is, in the decadent genre, instead elevated and focussed upon, without ever really justifying. Finally, a note should be made on the effects of the decadent school on the authors, or perhaps simply an overview of the mutual relation between the decadent author and the decadent work.

Lovecraft wrote that the weird tale should not extend past the short story, as it is almost impossible to preserve the tone for that length, both for the writer and the reader. For the decadent, this is even more vital as the entire focus of the tale tends towards introspection. For this reason, the most perfect examples of prose decadence have been prose poems, especially those written by Baudelaire. The decadent writer does not simply describe events. Rather, as was said of Baudelaire,

He roams through the entire luxuriant world of the senses in order to know himself better and to analyze more completely his own shortcomings. The sense of solitude is ever within him -- but not in the blurred, misty manner so characteristic of the Romantics.

-- Bernstein, page xv

The decadent novel, though, has been attempted, such as in the aforementioned case of A Rebours. The decadent novel, in its preservation of tone and theme, ends up reading almost as a collection of prose poems, related by the narrator and to an extend the plot. Although the technical decadent works were in the third person typical of fin de siècle France, the journal is perhaps a superior structure for a decadent novel, and it is this structure that Lagerkvist's The Dwarf uses.

Dispensing with the general structure of the third person novel, The Dwarf tells his story in an introspective first person where every event that occurs -- whether to him, or to the Prince, or to the kingdom -- is perceived not in the manner of that event alone, but in the perspective of that event in relation to the dwarf. Through this manner, Lagerkvist manages to preserve the flow of plot while still focussing entirely on the introspection of the protagonist. Thus, Princess Teodora -- perhaps the only character to ever be redeemed -- is not a princess to the dwarf. "She is a whore. A whore in the bed of a magnificent prince." (The Dwarf, page 9) Don Riccardo, who has an affair with the dwarf's obsession, the Princess, is not the hero others see. Rather, "I do not for one moment believe in his courage. He is an intolerable braggart -- that's what he is!" (The Dwarf, page 88)

Every character, every event, is presented not in the light of what occurs, nor even in the light of the dwarf's perception of that which occurs, but rather each event is presented as it affects the dwarf.

Thematically, the dwarf is rich with decadent themes. The focus on the evil of the world, as presented through one ugly in his body as he is in his mind; the focus on religion, both orthodox and heterodox; and the near-worship of the woman, despite the implications of homosexuality. All these themes are important in decadent works, and all are present in Lagerkvist's The Dwarf.

Influenced by the Romantic school as well as the current sciences of the time, the decadent school focused on the physical manifestations of evil, and the affect of insanity on mind and body. The protagonist of the ultimate decadent novel, des Esseintes of A Rebours, is described in this vein as:

a frail young man of thirty who was anaemic and highly strung, with hollow cheeks, cold eyes of steely blue, a nose which was turned up but straight, and thin, papery hands.

-- A Rebours, page 17

He is a weak man, of will as well as body, as the result of generations of inbreeding and weak heredity. In a similar manner, the dwarf describes himself as follows:

I mentioned that my face was exactly like that of other men. That is not quite accurate, for it is very lined, covered with wrinkles. I do not look upon this as a blemish. I am made that way and I cannot help it if others are not. It shows me as I really am, unbeautified and undistorted. Maybe it was not meant to be like that, but that is exactly as I want to look.

The wrinkles make me look very old. I am not, but I have heard tell that we dwarves are descended from a race older than that which now populates the world, and therefore we are old as soon as we are born.

-- The Dwarf, page 6

Once again, the character is deformed to match his evil. Although he does not state the evil as such, nor even his deformity, he accepts that "[m]aybe it was not meant to be like that," but "[i]t shows me as I really am". Once again, the responsibility is laid, rather vaguely, as the result of weak ancestry. A point worthy of note is his refusal to address himself as evil, or even deformed, per se. Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is an apparent exception to this stress of evil reflected on the body as the soul -- monstrum facia, monstrum anima -- insofar as the evil protagonist appears good through almost the entirety of the text. Nonetheless, the essence of the book is purely decadent, and when the magical shield is removed the visage of Mr. Gray accepts all the ugliness of his soul.

The dwarf's bias on this fact, though, is illuminated by examination of another example of the portrayal of the soul through the canvas of the body: Princess Teodora. From her first introduction, the dwarf is at pains to describe her;

She is no longer young, her breasts sag as she lies in the bed, playing with her jewels and taking them out of the casket proffered by her handmaid. I cannot understand how anyone can love her. She has nothing which a man could find desirable. One can only see that once upon a time she was utterly beautiful.

... She is a whore. A whore in the bed of a magnificent prince. Her whole life is love which, like her jewels, she lets trickle through her fingers, while she lies smiling vaguely as she sees it run away between them.

... I hate her, I want to see her burning in the fires of hell.

-- The Dwarf, page 9

Why does he denigrate her so? One may be tempted to attribute it to a block between the dwarf and the "magnificent prince", except that she and the prince have so little to do with each other. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, "I hate all her lovers. I have wanted to fling myself upon every one of them and pierce them with my dagger to see their blood flow." (The Dwarf, page 8) Perhaps he is jealous, though not of Teodora. After her redemption we can better contrast the dwarf's opinions with those of the rest of the court. Anselmo relates:

The Prince sat faithfully by her bed all day long watching her face become more and more transparent and what the court described as spiritualized. As though he had seen her himself, Anselmo maintained that she became as lovely as a madonna. I who really did see her knew how much truth there was in that.

-- The Dwarf, page 219

Later, Anselmo relates:

Bernardo was painting a Madonna with the features of the Princess. The Prince and the whole court were very absorbed in the work and greatly pleased with it.

-- The Dwarf, page 223

Even then, the dwarf almost always speaks of the painting where the Princess is depicted as a "whore" when he speaks of the Madonna. The dwarf chooses not to see -- or accept what can be seen, as he never sees the Princess after her death -- the Princess as anything other than a whore, and in the same way he chooses not to see the evil in himself. Nonetheless, the actions of the court do demonstrate that, once redeemed, the Princess becomes beautiful once more.

But the dwarf is not of a mind to recognize this redemption, and what form does it take? In one of the more striking religious segments of the novel, the dwarf visits punishment upon the Princess for many days following the death of her paramour, Don Riccardo. No other character is demonstrated to go through such a transformation as the Princess does in the following sections. Indeed, no other character is presented as good. The Prince is presented in exalted terms, not as one who is good, but rather as one who is difficult to understand. Boccarossa is presented as exalted, and the dwarf even says that he could love Boccarossa. Nonetheless, Boccarossa is never presented as good, and the "love" between the dwarf and Boccarossa seems more on the level of respect or camaraderie, feelings which he refuses to harbor for those women with whom he comes into contact. With the Princess he is jealous of her lovers. With the Prince's mistress, Fiammetta, and daughter, Angelica, the dwarf is simply repulsed by their sexual activities, belying more a sublimation of heterosexuality than an exaltation of homosexuality. Just as the decadents -- such as in Baudelaire's "Femmes Damnées" -- Lagerkvist presents surface homosexuality that ends up presenting a very different view.

The treatment of the Princess, though, is along different lines than simply a sublimated love. The Princess, when the story opens, has prostituted herself "in the bed of a magnificent prince." Whatever the dwarf's feelings towards her, and whether his motive is justice or jealousy, he opposes this action and sets himself up as avenging angel. In decadent literature, women are sometimes redeemed, such as in Baudelaire's "La Fanfarlo", but men never are. Here, too, the woman is redeemed, though she herself -- rather than Baudelaire's men -- must suffer for it. This is also an element in The Picture of Dorian Gray, where Wilde states:

Better for him that each sin of his life had brought its swift, sure penalty along with it. There was purification in punishment. Not "Forgive us our sins," but "Smite us for our iniquities" should be the prayer of a man to a most just God.

-- Wilde, page 244

By the end of the tragedy Mr. Gray realizes the power of redemptive suffering, but nonetheless he cannot be redeemed. The suffering of his sins destroy him.

In the religious nature of the Princess' redemption is seen a form of combat between good and evil, an intensified version of the balance, sometimes of tension and sometimes of conflict, which typifies the interaction between good and evil in decadent literature, including The Dwarf. The Satanism of decadence is by no means the "religion" Satanism as it is understood today. The Satanism today is a-theistic -- in the sense of holding God as irrelevant -- and egocentric, holding the ego to be important to an extent that a decadent would see as aesthetically displeasing. As such, in Satanism, the balance is as irrelevant as God while in decadent Satanism, the focus is on the beauty of evil as can only be seen in comparison with the beauty of good, both being artificial aesthetics. Modern Satanism is a "religion" of nature. Decadence, and decadent Satanism, is a cult of artificial beauty.

It is on this background that the Black Mass, le messe noir, is performed. Although it is yet performed by Satanists today, LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, belittles it as "the original psychodrama," and says of its performers:

Although the Black Mass is a ritual that has been performed countless times, the participants often were not Satanists, but would act solely on the idea that anything contradictory to God must be of the Devil.

-- LaVey, page 31

Those participants who were not Satanists are said to have included the likes of Huysmans himself, and undoubtedly include the characters in such novels as Là-Bas and The Dwarf, the latter of which describes its messe noir on pages 26 and 27, where it is said not to be meant as blasphemy, but rather is presented as a comparison, a tension, against the religion of the fully formed. In The Dwarf, in Là-Bas, in the decadent novel in general the Black Mass is not a blasphemy, as it would be in a heterodox religion, but a conflict of the aesthetic. It is another artificiality to contrast against the "normal" artificiality.

The Black Mass is not the only Satanic thread, either in The Dwarf or in other decadent works. In Lagerkvist specifically, the inversion of religion where the dwarf himself is presented as personal savior to the Princess, as a substitute for her priest, and through him her Christ, seems as blasphemous on the surface as was his presentation of himself as Celebrant at the Black Mass. As the Bible says, though, he is known through his fruits. The dwarf presents himself as scourging savior, and though his intervention the Princess indeed is redeemed, at least in the eyes of the villagers and court. In a manner of speaking, the dwarf is "crucified" for his works, but rather his imprisonment is more aligned to that of Paul's or the early Church in general. To any extent, he presents himself as an evil and through this tension good comes about in the truest manner of decadent artificiality and good-evil balance.

A note should be made, too, of the relation of the lives of the decadent authors in relation to their creation, too. It has been said that decadence could never have arisen outside a Catholic country, for Catholicism alone presents the necessary idealistic philosophy that an idealist artificiality could be presented against. Although this is true of the French decadents -- Baudelaire considered himself an incurable, though permanently lapsed, Catholic, and Verlaine constantly vacillated between worshiping in the cathedral and at the absinthe bar -- the idealist philosophical system seems to have been possible among certain severe Protestant denominations after the initial flame had been lit. Crowley, considered to be a passable author but the most steadfast of the British decadents, came from a Christian Science background, and Lagerkvist came from a strict Protestant sect. Whatever the starting point, a religious foundation of set ideals would seem to have been a necessity.

It has also been said that the only two possible routes for a decadent end either at the foot of the cross or the suicide's noose. Although not entirely true, as Rimbaud demonstrated by simply leaving literature entirely and others have achieved by finding another ideal to lean religiously on -- to take as their own magical picture-shield as Dorian did, for several of the most important decadents it was true. Huysmans followed in the footsteps of his own Satanist character in that he left decadence and the Satanism he was said to have practiced to eventually enter a monastery. The quasi-decadent Dostoevsky, while not going so far, did have his confidence in the material world broken rather early, and, by the end of his life, when the likes of "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" was written, had come to believe that redemption in this world is only possible, if it is possible, through the bearing of the cross. MacAndrew sums it up in saying:

Dostoevsky, after he had renounced the possibility of an ideal social organization, felt (it was a feeling rather than an idea) that the whole point of life is redemption through suffering and love, which is a very Christian approach indeed.

-- MacAndrew, page 233

Lagerkvist was to take a similar path, beginning in a firm Protestant community, passing through the decadence of The Dwarf, but he was eventually to end in the trust of religion once more, and his greatest work was Barabbas.

In all these ways, then, The Dwarf is indeed a decadent novel. Stylistically, The Dwarf follows the introspective pattern of Huysmans and the decadent novelists, in content The Dwarf tells of Satanism; artificiality; and redemption of the woman, who is presented in a manner almost to be worshiped, even if the main character himself does not admit as much. Even in biography Lagerkvist suits himself to be considered a member of the school of decadence, if not temporally, then by every other qualification.

Sources Quoted
Bernstein, Joseph M.  Introduction.  Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine:   Selected 
     Verse and Prose Poems.  New York:  Citadel, 1993.

Huysmans,  Joris-Karl.   Against Nature.  Trans. Robert  Baldick.   New  York:  
     Penguin, 1959.

---.  Là-Bas.  Trans. Keene Wallace.  New York:  Dover, 1972.

Lagerkvist,  Pär.  The Dwarf.  Trans. Alexandra Dick.  New York:  The  Noonday
     Press, 1988.

LaVey, Anton Szandor.  The Satanic Rituals.  New York:  Avon, 1972.

MacAndrew, Andrew R.  Afterward.  Notes From Underground.  By Fyodor  Dostoev-
     sky.  New York:  Signet, 1961.

Wilde, Oscar.  The Picture of Dorian Gray.  USA:  Random House, n.d.


[=- POETRiE -=]


[Prev | Next]

by Not Myself

          To lie, to cheat, to steal is
     Cum cum concentrate dammit
          Arson, murder, rampaging
               just human nature
               never a condemnation
               always a second chance
     Yank the shaft like a springtime flower
               there's duck butter on your chin
     Brief ejaculatory satisfaction
                         Hair, hair
               long hair
          Blurry blinders
     My eyes see only the future
     Give no second thought
     To what has passed
          I can see them out my window
               I watch them run play laugh          
          Free unselfconscious laughter
     What did I never have

          I am torn up
               They mend me
               I'm in them
          They are torn apart
     In God's eyes everyone is equal
     Everyone can be saved
     Jesus extends his loving arms for all
          In front of my feet is a line in the sand
     Time passes too slow
     Beer is for the depression
     Everclear is for the hopes
               to drown them
               My ship is sinking
     Kids and children first
               Leave the others
     Kill me
          Kill me.


[=- FiCTiON -=]


[Prev | Footer]

by Kilgore Trout

We are both storytellers, you and I. You have your stories, and I have mine. Being human, we are members of the only species known to exist that can bring to life that which does not actually occur in reality. It is a wonderful process that allows us access to experiences not normally obtainable. Along with this positive function comes a downfall, though. For in being excellent storytellers and well-rooted in the exposé of fiction, we also become experts in deceit and falsehoods.

This is one of my stories. Yours will no doubt come at a later time. But for now, listen to what I have to say. My story is not a story in the truest sense of the word because it is based on fact. I lived the events you are about to experience. However, all of the other qualities it possesses exemplify it as being a story. Treachery and dishonesty are especially emphasized, as they unfortunately go hand in hand with everyday life.

Do not look for a moral or some kind of message that you think I might be trying to convey. There is none. Immerse yourself in the visceral aspects of the story -- I am here to entertain, not philosophize. So now follows a story. I hope you appreciate my efforts, and there is only one thing that I ask of you.


* * * * *

The coffee tasted bitter, but it was piping hot, and I needed the jolt of caffeine to wake me up. Jay was late to pick me up, as usual. I put the mug on the table and flipped on a switch on the portable black-and-white television sitting on the counter. The TV buzzed, and the screen rolled a few times before steadying itself. The latest news was relayed by an overpaid anchorwoman who needed a few more diction lessons before she'd ever have a chance to get a spot with the evening news. She read the latest accounts of rebel activity in Mexico and Russia off the teleprompter very badly. I never understood why the revolutionaries were made to look like criminals. They were doing exactly what we had done to the British two hundred years ago, and no one thinks that was a bad thing.

The doorbell chimed a few hurried tones. I turned off the TV, grabbed my briefcase and went outside. Jay was standing there, panting.

"Sorry I'm late," he said. "I was over at Liz's last night and had to go home to shower and change."

I gave him a wry smile. "Pleasure before business was always your motto, Jay."

"You oughta try it sometime, Nathan. Might get you out of the house every now and then."

"Yeah, I'm just so spontaneous," I joked. "Come on. We better get moving or Bruder will chew us up"

We got into Jay's Ford Bronco and headed to work. Jay ran a few stop signs on the way to save time, eliciting numerous honks from other cars and allowing us to view the finely manicured cuticles on some of the city's best- cared-for middle fingers. After about ten minutes of shortcuts, or as Jay called them, "highly efficient transportation passageways," we pulled into the office's parking garage.

"Lots of meetings today, bud," said Jay as we hopped out of the blazer. "Hope you're in the mood for a lot of crap. I hate it when budget revision rolls around."

"Well, considering how low our profit-margin was last quarter, I'm pretty sure there's gonna be a lot of changes made over the next few days. Only problem is that the budget is stretched very close to the limit."

"Rumor around the office is that they're gonna lay off staff," Jay grinned. "Bruder better not lay a hand on Emily. If I lose my secretary, I might actually have to do some real work."

"Wouldn't that be the end of it all? We better get inside."

* * * * *

"Nathan." It was Laurie Cox, one of the temps.

"Yes, Laurie?"

"Mr. Bruder, uh, wants to see you. ASAP."

I didn't like the sound of her voice or the glassy look in her eyes.

"Did I do something wrong?" I asked. "What is it, Laurie?"

"I think you better let the boss explain everything."

She blinked a bit too rapidly and walked off. I didn't know what I had done, but it must be pretty bad for Laurie not to tell me. We had become friends of sorts during the seven months she had been working here. We ate lunch together quite a bit and talked every so often, but that was it. After all, I was a middle-aged man and Laurie could barely get into bars legally. The girl was smart, though, and gutsy. She dropped out of Rhodes College her sophomore year when she realized college didn't educate and was only one big diploma machine. At least with work she's making money and not racking up a big debt.

I knocked on the door. The knob turned and Randy Bruder appeared.

"Nathan, come in," he said dryly. "Take a seat."

Bruder walked behind his huge mahogany desk and sat down as I plopped down in a chair in front of him. He looked at me for a moment, clasped his hands together, and then rested his chin on them. He sighed.

"Now, Nathan, I'm sure you are aware of the financial situation of the company."

I nodded in the affirmative.

"Yes, well, I don't know exactly what Laurie has told you, and I'm sure you have heard rumors--"

"Sir, wait," I interjected, holding up my hand. "Ms. Cox is one of the best temps who has ever worked here. Surely you can't be thinking of firing her?"

He closed his eyes. "No, Nathan. Laurie's job is in no danger."

"That's good to know," I replied. "I've been going over the budget, and although it's--"

"Wait. Let me finish. You have been a good employee here, and your work on the Strauss account was remarkable. But some things have to be done, and unfortunately, your position is something we cannot afford to keep."

"So I'm fired. Just like that."

"I'd say 'laid off' is a better phrase." He sounded too smug.

I stood up, feeling the skin on my face heat up. "But I don't understand. I've worked here for fifteen years, fresh out of college. I tried to do the best I could, put in more overtime than I thought was humanly possible. Can't you take that into consideration?"

"We have. There is an extra bonus included with your severance pay to show our appreciation. I hate to see you go, but what the boys upstairs say is final. It's for the good of the company. I know you can understand that."

"But we're still turning a profit!" I yelled. "Why cut employees?"

His eyes turned cold. "Goodbye, Nathan. I hope you find a new job soon. I know there are plenty of companies who would want a man like you. Use me as a reference if you'd like."

"Like hell I will," I muttered under my breath as I got up and left the office. Laurie was standing outside, head hung low.

"Thanks for the warning."

* * * * *

The ringing in my ears turned out to be the telephone. I reached out to grab it, fighting the onsetting hangover. The Irish whiskey had knocked me out very fast last night.

"Hello?" I asked, still not half awake.

"Nathan, it's me," Jay said. "Are you okay? You sound drunk."

"No, I just woke up. My bedfellow was a bottle of whiskey, though, and now I have a terrible headache."

"Man, Jesus... I can't believe this happened. I'm surprised it slipped by me -- I always here about people who are about get canned." He paused. "Sorry."

"'s alright."

"Why didn't you tell me yesterday? I would have taken you home to keep you from calling a cab. When Laurie told me, I couldn't believe it."

"I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I kinda yelled at Bruder when he told me I was getting some extra money to show their appreciation for my hard work. Rather would have kept my job."

"Bruder's an asshole, and he definitely isn't PR material, but he's just taking orders. I hope his ass gets fried when they make more cuts."

"Still wouldn't get me a job."

"Nope. But it might make you feel better. Listen, tomorrow is Friday, so how about me and you go someplace, find a couple of nice girls, and get your mind off this?"

"Jay, I'm thirty-six years old. I have no job. I'm not exactly dating material."

"Trust me. We'll have a good time. Do you need anything? Want me to pick up something for you on my way home?"

"No, I'll be fine here, wallowing in my own self-pity."

I tried to laugh but couldn't.

"See, you're cracking jokes. Already starting to feel better. If you need me, I'll be over at Marilyn's tonight." He gave me the number.

"Marilyn? What happened to Elizabeth?"

Jay chuckled. "She found out about Trish."

* * * * *

We had been at the club for about three hours, and the disco music wasn't exactly to my likings. I didn't listen to it when I grew up in the seventies, and it definitely had no place here now. Jay was off somewhere dancing to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" while I was sitting at a table, nursing my beer and feeling way too old. And Jay said I would love this place. A finger tapped my shoulder, and I turned around.

"What's a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?" Laurie asked sarcastically.

"I'm supposed to be having a good time," I answered. "Don't I look the part?"

"I think you'd have to be wearing bellbottoms or a leisure suit to accomplish that."

"Ah, I see. So, is this one of your usual hangouts?"

Laurie sat down across from me. Diana Ross started to sing about a love hangover.

"No," she replied. "Jay told me he was taking you here, and I wanted to apologize."

"Apologize? If anyone should apologize, it should be me for what I said to you."

"I should have told you before you went to see Mr. Bruder. It was the least I could have done."

"Don't worry about it. What's done is done. And forgotten."

Jay walked over. "Hey, Nathan," he said, pointing to the dance floor, "I think that cute little redhead over there has been eyeing you." He noticed Laurie. "Oh, hi. Well, I'll go say hi to her myself then." He turned, ran a hand through his black hair and strutted over to the young girl.

"What is he?" asked Laurie. "Every female's worst nightmare?"

"That depends on who you ask," I explained. "Jay would say he's God's gift to womankind, and there are quite a few women who have agreed. That is, until they found out about all the other women that agreed with them."

Laurie laughed as "YMCA" blared through the speakers. She looked up with disgust. I couldn't help but share the feeling.

"Who could like the Village People?" she wondered.

"Well, from a purely public image standpoint, I'm sure Karl Marx would have liked them. A band made up of members of the working class."

"What about the Indian? Where does he fit in?"

"Laurie, you're supposed to laugh at my jokes, not point out holes in them."

She rolled her eyes. "Did you realize these songs are being played in the exact order as that Sounds of the '70s commercial?"

"How the hell do you know that?" I shrugged.

"I watch too much television, I guess."

"That you do."

"Would you like to get out of here? This is my first time in this club, and I hope it's my last."

"Truer words were never spoken.

We stood up to leave. As we neared the exit, Laurie looked back at me. "Shouldn't you tell Jay we're leaving?"

"Nah. He'll never know I was gone. Probably figure that I went home with some bimbo."

"I hope you don't think I'm a bimbo."

"Of course not. They're all over by Jay."

She laughed again while I opened the door for her.

* * * * *

The coffeehouse was filled to capacity, but we managed to find a table in one of the back rooms. At the table next to us were a group of long-haired guys with a stack of books in the center of them. I caught a few of the authors' names -- Kropotkin, Guevara, Alinsky -- and heard them discussing something about how revolution had to be continual to keep anyone from getting into power. In about four years they'd all be clean-shaven and working in the business world. All my ideals for a better world flew out the window when I had to find money to pay the rent after college.

Laurie really was beautiful, something I had never noticed before. Her short, black hair fell in soft wisps down to her pale cheeks, and she filled out the tight black dress nicely. I never did think about relationships and dating at work. I always figured that it was a bad idea, but now that we didn't work together... no, that was stupid. She was young, and I, well, wasn't. Who'd wanna shack up with some guy with no job, no ambition, and an impending midlife crisis? I certainly wouldn't.

She sipped from her coffee. "So, does this place suit you better?"

"I think Dante's Inferno would have been paradise next to that place."

"It's good to know you have decent tastes. If you had wanted to stay, I think I might would have gouged the DJ's eyes out or something."

"Yeah," I nodded. "I could see that happening. Does that mean you're a humanitarian?"

"It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Speaking of dirty jobs, have you figured out what you're going to do yet?"

"Guess I'll get my resume together and find another account job at some firm."

"Is that what you want?"

"It's what I'm qualified to do."

"But do you really want to keep doing that? Isn't there something you've always wanted to try?"

"I'm too old to be taking chances."

She leaned forward. "Bullshit. It's just a matter of how old you feel."

"I need stability."

Laurie held her thumb and index finger an inch apart. "Life's only so long, and it's nothing but a drop in the bucket when you think about it. Stability is nice, but you have to live a little while you still can."

"How come you think you know everything?"

"I'm not old enough to know that I don't, and I hope I never do."

"I hope so too, for your sake. And thank you."

"For what?"

"For making this evening better than it looked like it was gonna be."

"My pleasure. We'd better leave. This place is about to close."

"What time is it?"

"Almost one."

"Damn. I musta been at the club longer than I thought."

We left and walked to the car. It was a nice night, the crisp air making it just cool enough to be really comfortable and relaxing. After a couple of blocks we made it back to the parking lot. As I sat down, she leaned over and kissed me on the lips hard.

"Let me drive you to my house," she pleaded.

"Laurie, what are you doing?" I asked.

"Trying to seduce you."

"But I'm almost twenty years older than you!" I stormed.

She huffed. "There you go, bringing age into it again."

"Well," I acknowledged, "that kiss made me feel like I was in high school again."

Laurie inched closer to me on the seat. "Then why not go with the feeling? Be wild again. Do something irresponsible?"

"I can't. I'm sorry. I just need time."

She turn the ignition and gunned the engine. "Well, I've waited seven months, I guess a little more time won't matter."

It was a long ride to my house.


State  of  unBeing  is  copyrighted (c) 1995 by Kilgore  Trout  and  Apocalypse 
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