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 THiRTY-ONE tahw ro woh gniwonk to think. You are in 11/25/96 ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
Turning twenty-one is not as exciting as it should be, especially when your parents, avid disdainers of alcohol, think it would be cute to buy a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne for their son who is now of legal age.
I'm still wondering if I should just show up on the front porch with a huge bottle of vodka and ask them to join me. That would probably be bad form, and considering that I am still leeching off of them for my college education, I try to be nice to them, even if they are a little backwards.
But that's okay. Because now, birthdays don't hold important meanings anymore. When I turned 15, I got a driver's permit. At 16, I got my license. At 17, I could get into R-rated movies all the time. At 18, I could legally buy cigarettes and pornography (way too much of the former, hardly any of the latter). At 19, I was out of high school and in college. At twenty, I was no longer a teenager. And, at 21, I could finally legally buy alcohol.
I've been 21 for a month now, and I haven't had a drop to drink. It's kind of strange to look back on activities you used to participate in just because they were taboo. When they become perfectly normal, there's not that desire which stems from "breaking the system's rules." I enjoy getting plastered as much as the next guy, and fifteen shots of Jack Daniels is a great way to decorate somebody's lawn with at 3:00am in the morning, but now part of the mystique is gone.
Now I'll just have to start drinking to ruin my liver. I'll singlehandedly take on the AMA, and we'll see if my liver turns into mush or actually grows stronger. It'll be a race between my smoking and my drinking, and who knows, if next year's birthday is boring, I might start up intravenous drug use.
After all, the next big event to occur on my birthday will be in the year 2000. No, the world isn't ending on that day. My car insurance goes down. That, my friends, I am looking forward to.
Anyway, here's the zine. You might notice the absence of a prominent writer. He decided to take a break. Other people wrote stuff. We survived without him. We still miss his stuff dearly, though.
And remember... it's Thanksgiving, so go to your grandparent's house and eat them out of house and home. It's what the Pilgrims would have done. And if you really wanna play the part of the Pilgrims, bring some smallpox-infested blankets. Then you'll really be reliving history. Until next issue...
 Thanks to the local convenience store owner who got busted four times in a two year period for selling cigarettes to minors from 1991-1993. Without him, hundreds of kids would have had to search harder for smokes.
 Once we were gonna start up a business reselling porno tapes to kids at the high school. The plan fell through when we realized that a) the "get 250 video tapes for fifty bucks" was probably a scam, and b) we figured it would be cheaper to sell erotica texts culled off the internet. We never did that either and now, in the latter years of college, are semi-respectable folks.
I met Dark Crystal Sphere Floating Between Two Universes underneath the chilly gray November sky outside the University of Texas at Austin's Catholic Center as he exited Mass, his black trench coat flapping slightly in the breeze on his thin frame, the golden Jerusalem Cross on his Greek fisherman's cap glistening slightly, a miniature version of the tarnished one hanging from the leather cord around his neck. He led me across the street and through the wet grass on the University's South Lawn, past cold monuments to the heroes of the United States, the Confederacy, and the University, past the Tower and the West Mall to the Texas Union. We entered the third level door and entered the art gallery immediately to the left, passing quickly into a small, handsome room with a faux fireplace, and seated ourselves in opposing settles separated by a table.
DCS: If you look this way you can avoid looking at all the tacky pictures. I just like this room for the settles and the fireplace.
NM: It's not really a fireplace.
DCS: Shut up! They don't know that. You're always like trying to destroy everything good in my life.
NM: Oh yeah, sorry. Well, I guess we'll just start with the most obvious question . . .
DCS: What is the largest lake in South America? Lake Titicaca.
NM: Actually, I meant what's the story behind your name.
DCS: Well, what is in a name?
NM: People aren't going to think you're smart just because you use Shakespeare references. Especially since that play's just been made into a movie.
DCS: Oh yeah, sorry about that. But I didn't get it from the movie, I just know it. It does look like it'll be a cool film though.
NM: Yeah, I guess it does look kind of cool. But anyway, back to the interview.
DCS: Uh, could you like repeat the question a few times?
NM: Your name . . .
DCS: Oh yeah. First of all, to quote Beavis, "Size is everything." Most of my name's cribbed from the old Gent from Providence, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and his Circle. In their letters they often used pseudonyms, not unlike modern BBSers if they had to rely on snail mail, and I read in an old introduction by Margaret Ronan that one of these handles was Black Cylinder Floating between Two Universes. I don't know who used it, and as Ms. Ronan used some unreliable (though commonly used) sources, her introduction isn't necessarily the best, but both the introduction and the name really caught on to me, and, when it came to rebaptize myself, I used it, merely adding a few touches of my own. First, I inserted the term 'Crystal' because, as I read in an old geology book, the crystal is the most perfect arrangement of atoms in a mineral. I don't really see myself as perfect in any way, but it is what I strive to achieve. I changed 'Cylinder' to 'Sphere' for the same reason -- it implies flawlessness. I replaced the 'Black' with 'Dark' to keep the sense of mystique and inscrutability, while romanticizing it more, and making it less definite and concrete. I kept the rest because it means, to me, the very dissociation that we all live in, literally floating between the Two Universes of 'reality' and something more sublime. This is what I believe weird authors must try to achieve in their writing.
NM: You mean escapism?
DCS: Not vulgar escapism -- not merely fleeing into some distortion of every- day emotions, like Star Trek and the like, going into a world of happy little emotions different enough from everyday life to make it a little exotic but similar enough to keep from getting uncomfortable or scary. Basically what I mean is that what I try to achieve is liminality, the separation from this world, which we all experience at one time or another -- a kind of religious experience, as HPL refers to it. It is this liminality which weird authors try to take and channel their readers into. The weird tale opens a door through which we pass and just as with any door, be it magic, religion, or anything else, we must accept all of it, the good and the evil, giving rise to the twins weird fantasy and weird horror. This is achieved through manipulation the atmosphere of the tale. I believe that it was HPL who, in Supernatural Horror in Literature -- the definitive work on the subject -- said that the weird tale must focus on atmosphere just as the mystery must focus on plot. Ansat and I have discussed how this is similar to the Decadent's focus on the individual personality and psychology of degeneration and insanity, always with the focus on religion and some intangible ideal which pervades the entire fiber of the person. It is the similarity of the weird and the Decadent which has caused such a crossover, and why people who are attracted to one often dip into the other. Obvious examples include the Welsh author and Golden Dawn member Arthur Machen (whom Lovecraft acknowledged as one of the greatest author of his time), author of "The Great God Pan" and "The Hill of Dreams," who wrote both kinds of tale and tales which were of both kinds, the American Robert W. Chambers, best known for "The King in Yellow," a collection of weird and Decadent tales, even using the color of Decadence, and Edgar Allan Poe, Grandfather of both lines -- Decadence through Charles Baudelaire and weird fiction through Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
NM: You've already mentioned a lot of authors, and especially H. P. Lovecraft. They've obviously had a great effect on you.
DCS: Yes, they have, particularly Lovecraft. I have to credit Ansat with introducing me to him. I learned from him and from authors like Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany and, much more recently, T. E. D. Klein the value of atmosphere in horror and fantasy. Some people have seen my stories as merely Lovecraft pastiches, and I have sometimes drawn a little too much on him I think, but my stories differ markedly from his. He would never have written the stories I write. The Decadents and other weird authors, particularly those in the Lovecraft Circle, have also affected me in various ways, as has my own studies in religion, folklore and the occult. Most recently my studying early American supernatural fiction, and my reading of Robert E. Howard, have shown me the value of basing stories regionally, and using my stories to shroud the area around me in more mystery. For example, Charles Brockden Brown, while not the best author in the world, based his Gothic stories in America, believing that Americans should not be tied to Europe for their writing. At that time, just about all the books read in America were written in Europe and took place there. Robert E. Howard's "Pigeons From Hell" has shown me just how Texas can be made into a mystical land itself. I have tried this with my story "That Which Lies Beyond", and hope to do so more in future stories.
NM: Well, they have all influenced your style, now where specifically have your plots come from?
DCS: Really anything can trigger the muse, as I'm sure you and other authors know. Sometimes things in my life start me to thinking, sometimes things I read. Often times it's dreams. "On the Shores of Tír na N'Óg" was based on mixing Celtic myth with Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." "The Grave-Side Pool" was spawned after a walk through the cemetery, when I lay awake in bed thinking of dead shades aching to be heard, reaching up and grabbing at my pant-cuffs. "That Which Lies Beyond" is based almost entirely on dream. One night, having learned about a hill (Old Baldy, if anyone's interested) near Wimberly where rumor has it Satanists used to congregate, combined with my impressions of the Texas Hill Country, honeycombed as it is with limestone caves, and having read HPL's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," I dreamt that I was living in a house on a hill, surrounded by nothing but juniper trees and other hills, and I discovered that living in tunnels under the house were some sort of cultists lived who did not appreciate my living there and wished to do me in. I filled the valley near the hill by combining this dream with a dream I had earlier of a typical German immigrant town, like Fredericksburg. (Large numbers of Germans settled here in the early last century, especially those fleeing political and religious oppression.) Not much happened plot-wise that I borrowed, but that's where I got the atmosphere of the town -- and the title of the story. While I was there I was wandering through an cottage inn and hanging on one of the walls was a man wandering into a clearing in a forest, where he found a giant holding a club. Below the picture was embroidered "Remember That Which Lies Beyond." I extended this quote and attributed it to a book I saw in another dream. In this dream I was in a rare bookstore or antique store. Walking up to a group of shelves full of books, I looked up and was overcome with panic when I saw sitting there a black volume with either silver- or gold-gilt letters reading Book of Leviathan on the spine. Then I woke up. Other stories I have planned but may or may not write are another based on a dream I had and one based on my reading about the Yanomamo, a tribe in Venezuela and adjacent Brazil.
NM: You also wrote a story called "Haftling 141732" co-authored with Captain Moonlight. What's the story there? Are you political?
DCS: Well, that particular story sprung from our mutual love for history. Moonlight and I have been friends for some time (though I still haven't told him where the SoB complex is, the schmuck), and one day we just got to talking about the Holocaust -- I don't remember how -- and we wound up writing the story. We both contributed about equally to the story, each in our own way. He even found out the actual beginning three digits for prisoners from the area the main character was from. We both put a lot of research into that. But no, while I'm concerned with humanity and the human condition, I wouldn't exactly call myself political. As Huysmans said, any discussion not dealing with religion or art is base and vain.
NM: You keep making references to religion. How do you think that plays into your stories, and the "weird tale," as you put it, in general?
DCS: Well first of all, the weird tale is hardly my innovation, as you seem to be implying. The heyday of the weird tale was about 1850-1950, years before I was born. I'm merely a practitioner, and only an experimenting one at that. The weird tale has its origins, I believe, in the name of its pioneering periodical by that name. S. T. Joshi has written a book published in 1990 through the University of Texas Press called The Weird Tale which I heartily recommend -- he's pretty much the authority on the subject, even editing the Arkham House editions of Lovecraft after Derleth's death. My stuff is hardly professional -- indeed, "That Which Lies Beyond" has been rejected by Weird Tales' heir, Worlds of Fantasy and Horror, and will probably soon be rejected by Cemetery Dance. But anyway, on to religion. Well, Lovecraft himself was an atheist and he said that he thought being religious would hurt a story's weird effect, bringing it down to the mundane. However, he probably did not realize that Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood, three of his major influences, as well as people like William Butler Yeats and Bram Stoker whom he also liked, were all members of the magical society the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn -- hardly atheists. The examples he cited, Dion Fortune sticks out, may have indeed affected the story, but that is more because of the kind of magic they were involved with that rendered the magic mundane. The Golden Dawn was a ritual magic group, a kind of magic which focused on the removal from the mundane, and in this sense it helped rather than hurt their writing. Likewise, as a Catholic, the whole point of the Mass is to raise the participants to a higher consciousness. Especially powerful, I found, was All Saint's Day Mass, at which the Litany of Saints was sung. Personally I have never written a story which I did not believe could happen. And Lovecraft himself has likened the effect of the weird tale with a religious experience. HPL certainly didn't believe in God or in an order to the universe, but he certainly had a sense of the sublime bordering on religion.
NM: Well, what about "Tír na N'Óg" and "That Which Lies Beyond?" Aren't they both rather anti-Catholic.
DCS: Well, I did write "Upon the Shores of Tír na N'Óg" during a brief period of Wiccanism. But I'm feeling much better now. I have a lot of respect for Wiccans like the late Scott Cunningham, but most Wiccans, Cunningham included, render their beliefs mundane. My sympathies for the Wiccans originally arose out of my respect for ancient Celtic religion, and I broke with the Wiccans because of my respect for ancient Celtic religion. The Wiccans aren't too intent on truly reviving Celtic religion except in a watered down form, mongrelized with other beliefs, Pagan and otherwise. I still love the old Celtic religion, but it is a thing of the past -- too much has been lost. And Catholicism has superseded it, bringing in the Savior by blood sacrifice. The story could, however, be easily changed into a more Catholic story (by drawing upon the tradition of St. Brendan), or at least one which does not seem anti-Catholic. And in any case, I more satirized the ignorance of the townspeople rather than their religion. As for "That Which Lies Beyond," I hardly see it as anti-Catholic. The protagonist lost faith, the faith did not abandon the protagonist. It merely showed how weak people often are, and how things often work against even religious people. It's like Job's questioning. St. Anthony of the Desert lived and died tormented by demons' physical assaults. We shouldn't expect God to help us all the time, though He often does play a hand in things. Read William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist, an excellent book. Or for that matter read Thomas B. Allen's Possessed, which was just published recently, which discusses the case that inspired The Exorcist. It's written by an agnostic of Catholic upbringing with an impeccable reputation, a former editor for National Geographic Books and author of a biography of Rickover, as well as of War Games: The Secret World of the Creators, Players, and Policy Makers Rehearsing World War III Today. He even admits in his book when testimonies are shaky, such as the claims that the victim knew Aramaic, and other instances. All in all I don't think anyone will find any fault with this book, and it gives an excellent account of an actual exorcism.
NM: Well, I'm glad to see it has the Dark Crystal Sphere Seal of Approval.
DCS: Five stars.
NM: Well, I guess that's about it. Any closing remarks?
DCS: Remember that which lies beyond. The universe is a much wider place than we think, and strange things roam. It is only Man's ignorance which gives him the smugness to assume that he has conquered all. And, never compromise your beliefs.
The 1996 election is now over, all the packages have been unwrapped, and now we are in the process of figuring out where we are going to put and what we are going to do with all the things other people gave us that we never really wanted. I voted. I know all the Anarchist arguments against voting -- I will deal with some of them in this article -- but I also know the arguments to vote, and they seemed to me more compelling. When I entered the voting booth, I was prepared to vote for one candidate and against six. To my embarrassment, there was another valid write-in candidate I had never heard of. This person will not be addressed in this article. Mea maxima culpa. (If anyone out there in SoB land knows anything about this mysterious eighth candidate, please write a letter to the editor, or even an article. The same goes if you want to dispute me on a point. I'll be happy to set you straight.)
This won't affect anyone's vote this election, and this was pretty much intentional. Draw from this whatever grand overreaching lessons you like, but don't expect me to be leading you by the hand. I have enough issues of my own to work out.
In any case, the reasons not to vote. They are legion, but can be pretty much summed up in a few. "You won't change anything." "Any vote for any candidate is still a vote for government." "Worse is better."
That first one is pathetically apathetic. I find it pushed more by the so-called "Liberals" and "Leftists", i.e. the big government morons who buy the fashionable rebel line. It is cool not to care. I don't buy the fashion. On the surface, this might be true. There was one candidate with a chance -- the media decided who was going to win, and the people pulled their instructed lever. In the bigger perspective, though, this is absolutely untrue. Here in the United States, we have a pathetically low voter turn out rate. In the USSR, they had a near universal voting rate, and they only had one choice! Here in the U.S., though, it is fashionable not to care, and the government likes it that way. Sheep for the slaughter.
On the contrary, if you can convince one person to get up off his ass and vote, you are going to change something. You will make someone do something. Even an uninformed vote is better than no vote at all, because in this country the true revolutionaries are not trying to get their people in, we are just trying to wake up the masses. It's the voting booth or the Oklahoma City bombing, boys and girls. How would you like me to open your eyes?
At this point in the development of America, voting may not change the government. (It will in the long term, but it is hard to see in the short.) It will, though, change the person. It is no substitute for a sustained program of information and education, but it is a start. Even a single spark can start a forest fire.
Argument two -- "Any vote is a vote for government", in the abstract, is absolutely true. All else being equal, the reformism of thinking you can abolish the government in the voting booth is naive, at best. We do not live in the best of all possible worlds, though. In some nations, boycotting an election can have an effect. In the United States, though, this will just let the few who go to the ballot boxes have the control of the guns. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph," as Burke said, "is for good men to do nothing." At this stage in America, getting people to vote and voting yourself cannot replace focused action, but it must augment it. We have not evolved past the ballot box yet.
Finally, "worse is better." Trotsky's eternal maxim. Often, I believe this. Hopefully, judging by Clinton's vote total, a lot of people believe this. (The more likely option is there is just a massive moron voting bloc, but let us be optimists.) Things will get worse, and reformism will not purify our nation. Under the law, there is no redemption without the shedding of blood. It is not yet time, though. If you believe this, vote for the worst candidate. It is hardly an argument for boycotting the elections.
In this nation, we have the chance to vote. This is a practical thing, in that we can actually change an election on some levels, and at least participate in larger ones. More importantly, this is a symbolic thing. Your vote is your voice, and even if you are not heard, the simple fact of speaking makes you one step closer to a true revolutionary.
And the best thing about being an Anarchist is that when you vote, you can vote entirely for the person you think is right, and when he loses you won't be discouraged. It's what you expected, anyway.
So I voted. I took a two hour bus trip round trip, plus waiting, to get from my University campus to my voting place and back. I missed Linguistics, but I voted. As I said, I was prepared to vote for one candidate and against six. (I will only be speaking about the presidential campaign. I doubt State of unBeing's international audience cares too much about my local government's ballot tax initiatives.)
I am an anarchist. This is a conscious use of the "is" verb, and I consciously act in accordance with my chosen title. I'm not a big fan of government, I actively dislike big government, and world government makes my head spin around and pea soup fly out my nose. Needless to say, it is a voting issue. It is not my only voting issue, and I did read a number of statements from a number of candidates before making my decision. My main voting issue was, though, how big do they want to make my government, and that is the main issue I will be discussing.
The three institutional parties -- Republican, Democrat, and "Reform" -- are all pretty moderate. The Democrats want big government fast, the Republicans was big government slow, and the Reformists want big government after lots of studies that will tell Perot how to maximize his profits. No surprise there. Dole may mean well, and Clinton may be (please note the "may be") just a coke-sniffing puppet, and at least Perot is a nut, but none of these are very compelling reasons to give them my vote.
This leaves the four "third parties" -- Green, U.S. Taxpayers, Libertarian, and Natural Law. (And that eighth candidate.) These were not so hard, either, but at least they are obscure.
Here in Texas, Ralph Nader and the Green Party were a valid write in vote, but did not appear on the ballot. Now, I think Nader probably means well, and it is a lot safer to drive now. He is also not really a threat, since he didn't have a chance. Unfortunately, he has made his career out of making the government bigger and more pervasive, and now he is running with a party that is international. Not organized, but they do exist internationally. Apparently, this puts him in the "big but well meaning government" category. Not my vote.
The Natural Law party makes my skin crawl. I have read some of their stuff, and I have seen Hagelin speak. He has quite a few things going against him. First, he is a scientist. Scientists have no place in government. Remember Marxism? Remember how proud they were of their technocracy? See, scientists do what works. Government -- politics in general -- has no place doing what works. Politics is for those who will do what is right, and make it work. Political heroes are not people who can fill in the blank, no matter how neatly they can do it. Political heroes are those who fight and die against overwhelming odds. Leaders, not bureaucrats and technocrats, belong in government. To see what scientists would do, making things work, read Brave New World or Anthem.
Second thing going against them is that the Natural Law party is a one world party. They like to downplay this -- almost as much as they like to downplay the Transcendental Meditation link -- but it is there. The Natural Law party in this nation is working alongside and for the same goals as the Natural Law parties in Europe and Canada, and probably elsewhere. I'm not real big on one worldism, however efficient it may be. I'm afraid that however amusing it may be to think of Haglein meditating and bouncing around on his rear end on an air mattress, they will not be getting my votes anytime soon.
This leaves two parties. I did my time as a Libertarian years ago. They have a lot of good ideas: minimal government, no income tax, etc. Their good ideas are shared by the USTP. The Libertarians, though, are anarcho-capitalists. If the Reform party is pretty much made up of Republicans without the balls to make a real change, the Libertarians are pretty much Republicans without the backbone and the heart to support anything that won't make them money. They go too far. If you have a statist society, you will inevitably have an infantile population. Permissiveness is only good in the revolution or after it. While the state exists, it is more damaging than liberating to take the Libertarian line. (Also, their position on the NWO was never made clear to me.)
On the other hand, there is the U.S. Taxpayers Party. They support a real reduction in the government, including an immediate repeal of the income tax and the eventual reform of our economic system. Their position on one worldism is clear and unequivocal: No NAFTA, no GATT, no WTO, no UN, no nothing. For Clinton, the era of big government is over not because government is getting local, but because it is going global. The USTP supports cutting away the government on all levels, and allowing the locality to do what they feel necessary. The USTP supports Michael New, the man who was kicked out of the Army for his refusal to wear a UN uniform of questionable legality. (Indeed, both New and his father are active in the USTP, and New seconded Phillips' nomination.) Aside from Howard Phillips of the USTP, the only other presidential contender to support New was Buchanan. The USTP is the only party with a real plan for reducing the government.
And how do they achieve this? They are a Constitutionalist party. Now I have never been a big fan of the Constitution, seeing it as essentially a reformist stagger backwards after the Declaration of Independence, but the USTP use it in the way it can best be used: as an absolute limit to government power. (And any U.S. citizen above the age of twelve -- especially a voter -- unfamiliar with the Constitution should probably be horsewhipped.) The USTP reading of the document is staggering, as a careful balancing of powers accompanied by a constant reference to the Bill of Rights, and especially amendments one, two, four, and ten. No government is better than government, but if you must have a government, one that is strictly controlled and with a jealous balance of powers is clearly better than the system we have degenerated into now.
(Of course, I do not agree with them on every point. The only point with might make a difference, though, is capital punishment. If there were a party identical to them that opposed capital punishment, I would vote against the USTP, but to the best of my knowledge the only party opposing capital punishment in the U.S. is the Libertarian party. And "theocratic" in the title, by the way, is a crack about how they are viewed by other people; the USTP is not theocratic by any rational use of the term.)
All things considered, this was a pretty easy election. Five of the seven candidates I knew anything about were one worldist or proto-one worldist, and several aren't too hot on national government, either. The Libertarians, God bless them, simply have to develop a backbone, or at least see the government as something more than an instrument for regulating business, before they can really be a pleasant thought on the national field. The USTP, on the other hand, supported me on just about every plank I considered worth going to the polls over: Michael New and the U.S. uniform; NAFTA; GATT; the Mexican Hayride; income tax; the UN; and so on.
Of course they lost. They were right.
Where is the justice in a world where a few people on the top rung of the social ladder benefit from the tireless work of their minions? The only justice in a system such as this is a justice created by those who benefit from it. However much we would like to think this is not the way of things today, it is a grim reality. Society is being constructed to benefit the top chickens in the pecking order.
This article may already be considered by some as being of the conspiracy theory ilk, about to force the reader to believe that there is a conspiratorial group of highly powered people, who sit in a smoky room playing god with humanity. This may or may not be the case -- for all we know, The Bilderbergers may just be a group of ultra-rich people who meet annually to trade recipes and talk about what they did on their vacations. It is not our point here to make assertions on whether an organised controlling body does or does not exist. We could all theorise as much as we like about the circumstantial evidence to support the existence of a group such as described above; however, without any concrete evidence, all that exists are only theories.
The classical picture of this 'theorised' controlling body, as we see it portrayed by such televisions programs as the modern day "Twilight Zone" and "The X-Files" is very, very romanticised indeed. A group of men (of course men), old, evil looking men, sitting in the smoky room described earlier, playing a real life game of chess. If they did exist, though, I doubt this would be the case. These people, who would not necessarily have to be men, would never have to physically meet to do business. They would not even have to know what each other looks like. The world is getting very impersonal thanks to technological advances.
The conspiracy theories aside, society IS being constructed as an upwards funnel, designed to push and concentrate power and wealth towards the top, with or without the help of an overseeing body. Whether it is intentional or not, the fabrication of society for the malicious purposes of the top few is advancing with a gathering speed.
The ways that this is being achieved are cloaked in the ignorant television society of today, which itself is part of the basis for the funneling of power. The apathy and ignorance of our society is the 'spoonful of sugar' that makes the flagrant infringements on our privacy and basic human rights that little bit easier to swallow. Add to this morals and beliefs which have been handed to us on a phosphorus coated glass platter, and we have the basis for a society which is willing to believe anything they are told, a society which can see no further into the future than what form it's next 'distraction from thought' will take and a society which refuses to take into account the ramifications of the tools of convenience which it is handed.
In June of 1985, the Australian minister for health unveiled plans for a National Identity card called 'The Australia Card' at the National Taxation Summit. This card would be a compulsory form of identification for all Australian citizens and showed the Australian public who could see past the plethora of excuses on why we needed it, that the government was willing to step toward the cliched 'Orwellian' society.
One year after its initial presentation, the proposal was taken up by the government and pushed for all it was worth. Needless to say, we never got our euphemistically named 'Australia Card.' The scheme never eventuated because of complete disapproval from public and other sectors.
A lesson had been learned by the government of Australia, which may or may not have been known before. It was going to be impossible for them to instigate something as controversial as a national identity card in one big hit. They would have to do it slowly, step by step. It is not being insinuated that after the initial idea was quashed, the government vindictively went in search of a smoky room and put on angry old man masks and started plotting how to insert microchips into the left shoulder blade of every Australian citizen. It does however make sense in their minds to categorise the populace, to give us all numerical values so they can control us just that little bit better, and to add stability to their power.
Using the powers of hindsight, 10 years later, we in Australia have a lot of loose ends being created which can and probably will be easily tied together into a national identity card. We have a tax file number, which initially was to be only used for taxation purposes only, but is now being used for a lot more than that. Many 'loyalty card' schemes, bank cards, ATM cards, fuel cards, drivers licenses, health care cards, medicare cards, video store membership cards, the list goes on indefinitely. Add to this the recent trial of 'Smart Money Cards' on the Gold Coast in south east Queensland. All of these things pointing directly towards the introduction a national identity card, which would tie them all together in the name of convenience.
By inserting these things step by step, the Australian government will achieve what it set out to do 10 years ago, minus the public uproar. This is a basic example of the 'Jacob's Ladder of Consent,' which has been adopted and in use for some time by many governments and institutions around the world. It has been, up until now, a mostly unspoken of and fool proof system to bring into being forms of population control and manipulation.
The mechanics behind it are simple, yet insidious and far reaching. The V-Chip, which has done it's 5 minute tour of duty in the media circus, is a step in the 'Governmental/Corporate Censorship' ladder and is also a very prominent example of what is being discussed. It isn't what the V-Chip does that is the main concern; it is what it opens the door to. However, nothing is said about the permutations, only the necessity. Another parallel rung on the same ladder is the attempts to censor the internet. I am sure we have all heard the pathetic excuses being uttered by governmental bodies and corporations alike as to why the internet needs to be censored, how it is corrupting the minds of 'our children,' how it is a boiling pot for 'terrorist activity,' how it is anything to get public approval of censoring it. A title of a recent newspaper article shows this perfectly, "Cyber Attack a Real Threat". Very emotive, very to the point, not altogether untrue, but so far out of proportion that it doesn't really mean much at all.
If these steps mentioned above are obtained, that is the V-chip and censoring of the internet, they WILL lead to others, slowly winding the population down the proverbial garden path which leads to complete censorship, with the population not being able to see where it is going until it gets there.
Censorship is only one of the many forms of control which are being engineered and slowly instigated into society using the Jacob's Ladder of Consent. We have the necessity for a form of identification which can't be forged being impressed upon us, the slow construction of a 'One World Government' (or hasn't it been renamed a 'Global Neighborhood?), an ever growing need for 'Electronic Cash' and so on and so on. Each plan being so monolithic and jarring on the comfortable normality of today that they couldn't be put into place straight away, but each is being broken down into steps and steadily worked towards.
Each of these steps which have been referred to takes a different form. Each being displayed from a different angle. The attainment of each step is an easy task. Television, radio and written medias are the mediums for approval, and the ways that these steps are achieved are simple, covert and work with sickening ease. By sitting back and watching society pass by, it is easy to systemise a few of the ways we are twisted into swallowing each step entirely and then forced to believe it is for our own good.
By using the social necessity to not stick out from the crowd, to be part of the flock, people are forced into accepting new steps by being told that "everyone else is doing it." Larry Abrams explained this technique for gaining public approval in his book The Greening by saying:
"The 'creation of the appearance of popular support' is at the center of all contemporary political activity. This technique is so all-pervasive as to lead even the most rational among us to conclude even in the face of the most outlandish proposals, 'I must be the only one who feels this way.' Our opposition to some preposterous scheme seems to be unique, with the result that we shrug our shoulders and accept what we are told is 'the wisdom of the majority' or the all-conclusive, argument-ending 'world opinion.'"
This is a tool of coercion, people may oppose what is being proposed, but they accept it none the less.
Using desensitisation to gain approval, there seems to be more and more one-off American shows appearing on our television screens sporting vast technologies which are coincidentally only extensions of the technology we have today. It isn't only the TV, though -- we also have movies and the like coming out which have basically the same content. A good way to try and quell public disapproval on a topic is to start the dampening process before the topic is instigated. By familiarising the populace to another step, when it is proposed the public are already happy to agree with it. They have been desensitised to its existence, and more readily accept it.
New technologies which infringe our rights are not the only area where desensitisation is used. An abstract form of desensitisation is used to insert morals or beliefs into areas of the population which will aid those on the upper crest of society to get fatter.
Constantly we see the media taking their own perspectives, or the perspectives they have been coddled into taking, on the subjects they are reporting upon. This relates back to the population who are exposed repetitively to these points of view, by these sections of the population adopting these points of view and/or swallowing whole what they have been told, and taking it as gospel.
We can see this happening in America. A while back we had the evils of the cults being thrust upon us; now, we have the militias and the ever present 'terrorist' threat. What is a better way of having a scape-goat, than creating one yourself? The American populace has been lambasted into believing that whenever the media says that someone is to blame, they are. Constantly we have militia groups taking the blame for bombings and the like, when there is contrary evidence to support that something or someone else was to blame. The media only covers the surface of the stories, saying that some minority group was to blame, then they say nothing else. The people take this as the truth, because they have been manufactured to think this way. These groups are sentenced by the media. Guilty until proven innocent, and the proof is never provided.
The government, through their media, have created infallible patsies, just perfect to blame for events which may get messy, or which they do not want to be held accountable for. This is just an example of the differing forms and tangents of desensitisation that are used on the population to gain consent for various actions and steps that inevitably aid the upper few to grasp more control and make rock solid foundations for the continuation of this control.
In the end, each step must gain public approval, as the public are the main body who can oppose and stop these various steps from being introduced. The few ways described above are ways that are used to gently push the population into agreeing with these steps.
However, if a step meets massive public disapproval, which is happening less and less, it will resurface again in the future, under a different guise, but being exactly the same in essence as the initial proposal. This continues to happen until public consent is gained.
Another trick which is used to work around public disapproval is to sidestep the topic and create something new around it. This is a form of what was discussed earlier with regards to the way that opposed steps will resurface as many times as it takes for them to be accepted. Take, for example, the censorship of the internet debate. A good proportion of the general public are still fairly ignorant of what the internet is and what it does. The people who would like to see the internet become a mediated, censored medium prey on this ignorance. Using headlines like the one mentioned earlier, "Cyber Attack A Real Threat", they make the internet-illiterate among us think of an army carrying laptops, ready to seize control of their country. This headline is ambiguous enough to make images like that spring into the minds of the population, generating fear about what could happen if the internet isn't censored. They have worked around the initial topic of censoring the internet and made the internet into a threat if it isn't mediated. They make the public believe that it is a threat to them so that they approve of it's censorship, when in reality, the internet is only a real threat to those on the top.
One other way that public approval is gained is by making the public believe that whatever is trying to be introduced will benefit them in some way. By inserting a small test area, then proving that it works is the way that this is done. A certain recent Olympics was the staging ground for many new technologies, ranging from the perfect identification that is retina and palm scanning to three dimensional rendered maps of the entire Olympics. The only way that the public would see that these new technologies would help them is by testing them against a 'real' threat, then making sure the images of the event reach the far corners of the globe on the many television networks which are covering the Olympics. Conveniently, a 'real' threat did come along in the form of a pipe bomb, and just as conveniently, it was initially blamed on a terrorist group, while the FBI were centering on a "militia connection". In just that one incident, the powers that be had implicated most of the patsies they created, the public believed that it would be a militia or a terrorist group to blame, and anyone with any foresight would have known the storyline to the saga before it unfolded.
The response teams were at the site in minutes, some even clearing people from the area BEFORE the bomb went off (a faint smell of fish is present). More public disapproval is stacked against the beastly fiction-terrorists and their friends, the fiction-militias. The technologies are shown to have worked "similar" to their intended purpose as the bomb didn't go off in any of the major Olympic venues. The people are happy because they have been fed some images of others' manufactured suffering and they have been given someone to blame for it. The people are ignorant to the way that intrusive technologies like retina scanning have been normalised and readied for insertion into their society WITHOUT public disapproval. The people have been desensitised to the presence of heavily armed and expertly trained troops in their everyday lives. And the upper crust are happy, because they like to watch something which will benefit them in the future go so well.
The Jacob's Ladder of Consent is the way that governments sidestep public uproar and disapproval. It has been tested and honed to the point where unless we are aware of its workings, it is nearly impossible to find. There are many, many other tools of social construction, which are being employed to underhandedly turn life into a viable commercial interest. If the Jacob's Ladder is the insertion point, then the areas about to be discussed are the continuing and ever growing tools of social control. They are a social cattle prod if you like.
Throughout human history, we as a race have displayed the need to be ruled over and classified. Even though dividing the population into classes doesn't seem to be the fashionable or intelligent thing to do in today's modern life, the traditional classifications still exist as strong as ever, and the gaps between the classes are being pried apart into schisms by the upper crust. As stated, the terms "lower," "middle" and "upper" classes are not used as much as they have been in the past, but the classifications they represent are very apparent. The benefits gained by those who are on top are many and varied. In their self-induced omnipotence, it makes a lot of sense to force society to become a caste system.
This caste system seems only to be a modern day assimilation of the traditional social class system, with lower Class drones who serve the middle and upper class, serving food to them, building their houses, etc... but never being able to serve each other, as their monetary supply is mediated so they cannot afford to. A middle class of workers, who never see the light of day, who live in a plastic world of TV and delusions of grandeur because they have someone below them to feel good about. This middle class are the separator. They are the filter for the section of the population below them, deciding which crumbs fall, and which crumbs don't. The Upper Class who sit comfortably above all, living off the servitude of those below them, and then the upper echelon of humanity, the minority who control the monetary supply to the population of the earth, which in turn gives them complete control. This upper echelon also manipulate the upper class into the false belief that they alone are the controlling factor.
Into this realm of total social classification is where society is heading. It is like drawing a line between two points, then extending the line to find it's destination. The point which forms the model of today is only viewable by its extension into society. We have shops pointedly directed at each separate caste which is evolving and ossifying around its rung on the social ladder. These stores are just an example of the ways that this caste system manifests itself today, and these ways are becoming more and more pronounced.
These shops are only symptoms of the process of separating the population into islands unto themselves. The products they stock and their prices attract the patronage from the social castes they target. Shops which attract their patronage from the upper caste are of the highly priced, glossy white, multilevel inner city kind, while shops that attract people from the middle class are your generic brand suburban shopping center type. For those people who just can't make the proverbial ends meet, the powers that be so graciously provide cheap import "Junk Shops", so that the lower class can get products which they just can't afford elsewhere.
These shops are not a construct of the men in the smoky room to classify the population. It is in fact the other way around. These shops have evolved through the necessity of the varying castes and are being used as a tool to further exasperate the gaps between them.
At this point, society still has the grey areas between each caste. Upper-middle class, lower-middle class, etc. For us to fall properly into our assigned places, the gaps between must be so vast that no one can be able to move from them. If you are born low, you will stay low for the rest of your life. Images of a world like Huxley's spring to mind, where humans are created by a production line process and are physically altered to suit the caste for which they are destined. This is not the case in the world today. It is not so much a physical caste system, but more a monetary caste system, which is being fabricated so that it will be an impossibility for anyone to move much from where they were born into.
The grey areas are the parts of the system which are being taken away. Today, we still hear stories of people who started with nothing, and clawed their way to the top, and we still have those multimillionaires who come tumbling down. Slowly, but noticeably, the world is being geared towards taking away the possibility for that happening. To get the edge in today's world, one must have that gold-plated university degree; if not, we are destined for a life of servitude. Those degrees are being pushed further away from the lower areas of society by making it more and more costly to go through university, making it only those with money who are allowed to have an education.
Another area where the caste boundaries are being ossified and separated is within the health system. Public health systems are being slowly strangled and dismantled. The best medical care, which just so happens to be private health care, costs far too much for the average person to afford. The lower classes are slipping into a production line existence, waiting patiently in line for what those above them get instantly because they have the money. If the commercialisation of health care continues as it is, we will find ourselves with absolutely no provision for a health system which is accessible by those who don't have the wealth to pay for private health care.
To simplify and draw together the ideas discussed above, the social castes are being separated and consolidated by a monetary system which is being created to be the greatest benefit to those at the top, then benefit in much lesser degrees those who stand below them, with no possibility of the schisms between being bridged. With democracy being the excuse for the rampant commercialism which was bred from greed.
A tangential manifestation of social classification lays in music. By classifying music into definite categories, the people who listen to that form of music are in turn classified. This isn't as visible in the older portion of the population, but the younger population are being tragically typecast by the music that they listen to, and by the manufactured cultures which have been handed to them along with that music.
It isn't that hard to pinpoint the effect this gives. A subculture created by categorised music, with commercialism making sure that it is like some religion to listen to only one kind of music, and to wear the clothes and adopt the attitude which forms part of the music classification package deal. Some music subcultures even provide their devotees with a global outlook and a life plan. Bring into the equation intra-generation fighting, so to speak, brought about by the mindset "The attitude which I have moulded from the music category I listen to doesn't like yours."
This type of classification broadens and categorises the population on a lateral level across generations, pushing individuals within a generation further away from each other. Keeping them looking in hatred at each other, while being ignorant of what is going on above them.
Other factors do come into play when speaking of lateral generation classification, religion (which touches on music) and television (which touches on religion). Geographical placing of cultures has a fairly major effect as well. Populations placed near oceans have whole surfing cultures spring up. Many more subcultures exist which further classify the population on a lateral level, with very few of these divisions breaching the generational boundaries.
So what we have is a two-dimensional array effect of social classification. Over the whole population, we have caste divisions made by superficial monetary wealth. Then laterally, within this definite social caste system, we find further classification within generational boundaries. These lateral classifications are designed as package deals for the sections of the community which fall into them, who only see what is happening within their own boundaries, and who are ignorant to the steps being taken towards ossifying their caste boundaries.
The concept of social disapproval being one of the anchors on the bandwagon of social control was discussed earlier. Voices only cut so deep, and when we are talking about an upper level of controllers, who are on the most part deaf to our cries, voices mean very little at all.
The whole round-about process of the "Jacob's Ladder Of Consent" could be ignored, and the agendas instigated instantly. Think for a minute. If this was to happen, and if it was to happen as sudden as this, what images would we see being beamed into our lounge rooms from around the world?
Riots? Massive public uprisings against the powers-that-be? Possibly and probably. The power that the people hold is not in voices alone. The voicing of opinions only goes so far, as anything which is opposed in this way, will be routed around, re-worked, and re-inserted. Physical opposition and the retaining of this power is the transcending part of public disapproval.
Admittedly though, the power of voicing is vast, but this doesn't come from one voice alone. It comes from many voices joined together, again, returning to a form of physical opposition. This power, in its many forms, is very recognisably a large snag in the fabrication of society.
A Jacob's Ladder of Consent has been set up to take away this power, and the diffusion of this power upwards can be found in many other Jacob's Ladders in the forms of censorship and the like. One permutation of this is the gun control debate.
Theoretically, let's say that gun control is achieved and owning a gun is criminalised. It seems apparent, from the world today, that if this theoretical situation was to arise, the police would retain the use and ownership of guns, and so would our armies. In this example, where has the power been shifted to? It has been taken away from the population and shifted upwards in the social hierarchy to the people who are meant to protect us. Protect us from what? Ourselves?
It is not the intention of this section to incite people to riot or to impress a view that guns are good and we all should own them. Its intention is to show the power that they represent and to illuminate where that power will go if it is taken away. This is not a parallel of the author's opinion on the subject, but as stated, it is an attempt to point out the underhanded intentions which exist in the gun control debate.
The power is only shifted if it still exists. That is, the above example is only relevant if firearms are retained by police and armies, which are the protectors of governmental control, not the people. If every gun on the face of the planet was destroyed, then we wouldn't lose out, as governments would lose the same as the people. This, however, is right up there with wishing for world peace -- impossible and only achievable if greed ceased to exist.
In the 1960's, a very good example was brought to the surface of how a drug can be used to curb the threat posed to governmental power structures by a portion of society which shows the highest threat. The drug being referred to from the 1960's was LSD. The conspiracy theories aside, if we look at the situation from the 1960's and how much of a threat the uprising masses were to the government of the USA, we can see that the instigation of LSD into society may very well have been what caused the 1960's to deteriorate into the drug crazed frenzy that we see it being portrayed as today.
Making the use of drugs desirable is a very useful way to keep the population blind. Today, we see the drinking of alcohol taking on a whole new meaning as a fashion statement. When we step back and look at the side effects of alcohol use, it is possible to see how useful they would be to an evolving power structure which has a basic necessity for their minions to be kept benign and drugged.
In colloquial terms, the main long term effects which come from alcohol use are memory loss and the dulling of the cognitive process. These are just a few of the bare effects of alcohol relating to the mental shades of its side effects, many other physical effects exist. Look at those two effects:
a) Alcohol promotes memory loss -- very necessary in the construction of the social hierarchy which relies on it's population to be happy and complacent. The good old days when things were better don't exist if you can't remember those good old days properly.Why target alcohol as being an "opiate for the masses?" Look at the way today's society has been created. Alcohol is increasingly becoming a fashion statement. It is now "cool" to drink designer drinks, and for the rest of the community which this doesn't appeal to, a "Joe Six-pack" mentality has been created and in place for many, many years now, where it is a way of life to drink beer and go out with your mates to the footy. This "Joe Six-pack" area of our community is the area in which the best comparison can be made between the effects of alcohol and the apathy towards the world around them and their unwillingness to speak out against governmental wrong doing. There are other factors which do come into play. This area of the community has been bred by their parents to live this lifestyle, they have been taught to embrace the consumer life for all it is worth, and to only think about family and work, to strive for "the great Australian dream", or "the great American dream" or the great whatever dream.
b) Alcohol reduces the cognitive process -- this is the interesting one, and the most dangerous. It dulls your mind, makes you lethargic, and basically causes a physical apathy and procrastination.
All this aside, this is the section of the population which harbors the most apathy, with alcohol being intrinsic in their lifestyle. The long term effects of alcohol described earlier only come about in any measurable form by long term alcohol abuse. This long term abuse does not mean hard-line alcoholism only. These mental effects are also visible in those people whom incorporate alcohol in any amount into their everyday lives. The people who come home to the wife and kids and have "a few" beers" or glasses of wine, which, to the point of being stereotypical, is inherent in the "Joe Six-Pack" caste.
Although religion isn't holding as much sway in the public eye as it has done throughout history (this is in the public eye -- behind the scenes it is a completely different story), it still holds enough power to be regarded as a drug which is used and abused by those who wish to gain control for their own purpose.
Drugs themselves are traditionally seen as having physical effects, and these are the effects which are capitalised upon, as discussed earlier with alcohol. Religion, however, is a form of psychological drug, a form of conditioning. It keeps the minds of those who are addicted closed and dogmatic. Many religions also need monetary payment for their services, because God needs money, as money is holy. It may very well be the upper crest of some of these religions who form part of the "ruling elite" who have been referred to.
The way religious belief is structured would be a very appealing aspect to one who would wish to use it as a tool. A group of people who swear allegiance to a figure head, then live their lives adhering to a book, or group of books, which this figurehead has allegedly passed down to these people. Normally, a religion asks its followers to be closeminded to anything which falls outside of their belief structure and also provides a system of rationalising away anything which falls outside of these beliefs.
This is almost a foolproof way of keeping a good percentage of the population benign and indifferent. Keep them believing that their mundane lives of servitude will some day be changed when their "messiah" comes to save them. Everyone needs a dream, however fanciful. This is the crux of this section. Any drugs which have been inserted into our society, whether intended for a purpose or through social evolution, seem to have the same effects. The reason why we have so many varieties is simple. What may appeal to one section of the population may not appeal to another, and we can't have anyone slipping through the net and actually being aware of that which is happening around them, can we?
Have a look at the many "distractions from thought" which we have evolving around us. Either your traditional forms of drugs, alcohol, opiates, pharmaceuticals, mind altering drugs and the like, and also the non-standard drugs: TV, religion, computers, movies, sport. This is not to insinuate that all of these are bad things and that we should throw off the shackles of modern life. It is only to show how certain aspects of this modern life can, and probably are, used for the purpose of keeping the human mind occupied on tasks which don't involve considering what things may be going on just outside of the TV's narrow line of sight. "Idle Time is the devil's plaything," and the devil is anything which we are told not to think about.
How easy it is to systemise, illuminate and to point out the ways our lives are becoming a commercial interest. How hard it is to find answers to how to stop this from happening and how often we see people who complain about the state of the world, but do nothing to find solutions. The problem we are posed with is this: intentionally or unintentionally, our lives, and the lives of those around us, are slowly being turned into a money making process. Our freedom of choice is being eroded along with our powers to make change. These are being replaced with a misconception that they still exist. We on the lower rungs of the social hierarchy are having our lives turned into inescapable servitude, and we are being enticed to enjoy this new life, with the help of "distraction from thought".
The hard part is defining how to stop this process. Awareness is one of the answers. Being aware of the many ways in which our freedoms are being siphoned away, being aware of the consumerism which makes it all seem ok. Not bowing down to the new god money, and not allowing ourselves to be swept along with the crowd. Education is another answer. Not the conditioning which we see being portrayed as education, but the sharing of ideas and ideals. Having an open mind and not adhering to "ready to serve" consumer mentalities. Listening to all that is around you, absorbing every piece in the puzzle, then fitting it all together. Watching all that goes on around you with a cynical eye, and being able to tell the many shades of propaganda, greed and social fabrication, and the many ways that they manifest themselves.
This may not be enough of an answer for some people, but there is no simple answer. It IS easy to outline problems, but answers often come much harder. In the end, it must be awareness which will prove to be the most workable solution. We cannot beat them at their own game, as officially the game doesn't exist. If we were to find a way of playing, we would be guilty of becoming like them. Awareness is the key. Awareness of the ways in which we are being bred for the monetary gain of those above us.
Money isn't actually the core of the problem; however, it is the seed that the problem grew from. Greed is the core of the problem, and to the point of being pessimistic, nothing will ever change until we as a species lose the ability to sell out its fellow people for the advancement of a bank balance, but we all know the story of the ice cube and its chances in hell.
1. "The Deceptive History Of The Australia Card", Jim Nolan
2. "Cyber Attack A Real Threat", Westside News, July 10
3. "The Greening", Larry Abram
4. "Terrorism Strikes at the Olympics ...", Steve Macko
EmergencyNet NEWS Service, Saturday, July 27, 1996
"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."
The distance is dark and threatening.
The weatherman is getting worried.
Move underground, he calls from the living room.
The worst line of storms he's seen in years.
He merely echoes the churning sky.
As I watch from my bay window,
My heart races with anticipation.
I am going to meet Mother Nature
The tea kettle is whistling in the kitchen.
The piercing sound intensifies a feeling of power and excitement
The door flies open
Crashes into the wall.
My entire body jerks toward the sound.
As the wind envelops me
It seems to drag me out the door.
The sky has turned black.
Clouds are spinning.
Clutching their loved ones,
Race to their storm cellars.
Nothing but warped wooden doors and rusty locks.
They won't shield them from the angry hand of God.
One of them screams at me to run for my life.
I only drift aimlessly to the middle of the street.
The clouds are ripped apart by the gale.
As the monster becomes.
The winds are whipping my hair in my face and tearing at my
The trees up the street are slashed from their roots by the
moaning, growling abyss that
hurls itself toward me.
It spins so fast yet I can see each lawn chair, each picnic table,
each toy left carelessly
Rotate slowly in it's grasp.
Sucking the life from the vacant street
And feeding on the fear from underground.
Branches and mailboxes rip through the air. They seem to aim for
From up the street I can see it take the houses.
The roofs go first, shingle by shingle.
They fly so gracefully.
The echo of the windows crashing
Pierces through the roar of the winds.
The houses are gone.
They remain constant only in the funnel, spinning endlessly.
It lifts its foot for a moment,
Like a slithering dragon, intent on destruction.
Then it stomps back down on the storm cellar.
The wood splinters and lets go of it's hinges.
Lifeless bodies of people I once knew,
Naive neighbors seeking useless refuge from the hideous dragon.
Now soaring limp and helpless
In the dizzying whip of the winds.
When the novelty has worn out,
The dragon throws them back to earth
With such awesome force
That their bones shatter like delicate china.
It is time. I must challenge it.
Like the others before it,
This monster has taken too much.
All that is evil and all that is good stirs within its core.
Despite its rapid speed it seems to tiptoe towards me.
The convergence of destruction and new beginnings accepts my
I do not run, I do not flinch.
Through the screaming winds, the splintering cellar doors, and the
Through the roar of the dragon,
Comes a familiar whistle
Of boiling water.
I open my eyes
To find myself staring out of my bay window
At the blackened sky.
The door flies open,
Crashes into the wall....
His fist connected once more with the man's jaw. She put a hand on his shirtless back, telling him with her touch that is was over. He stood up, the victor. Although the atmosphere weighed heavily with the smell of sweat, blood, and rage, the pride of victory made him seem just a little taller. She trembled with the fear and hatred of violence. But she also quivered with desire for the man who held her tearstained face against his bare chest.
He, too, shook with a dismal excitement. He looked down at the unconscious monster as it bled on the carpet. The man had it coming to him; he had gone too far. His diseased mind revolved around her. Loving her, killing her, being her. But the man didn't know about him. He didn't know that her would stop at nothing to protect the precious creature, now weeping in his arms.
They held each other tightly as all the emotions of relief, fear, excitement, and love floated around them, keeping them warm. The sirens pierced the night, finalizing their safety. She looked up, into his benevolent gaze and thanked him silently as they rocked back and forth. Out loud she whispered, "Don't stop swaying."
I don't know why we picked Greece.
For that matter, I don't quite know why we decided to make this trip at all. Perhaps we were just trying to recapture something. Recapture what, I'm not quite sure, but this is the best I can come up with.
Somehow, we had fallen apart. In one sense, this speaks of us as a couple, but in another this speaks of us as individuals. Over time we had parted ways, even as we were together. This was true spatially, temporally, with her rehearsals and performances and my endless editing details and my own circle of friends -- I could never stomach the kind of people she had to deal with for her career -- we didn't see each other very much aside from bed and those instances we'd almost be surprised and embarrassed to find ourselves looking across a dinner table or over scripts and notes at each other.
But "real life", as it is called, is not so real, and this "reality" was only the type, the symbol of the much more real life below the surface, as we parted ways in our hearts.
After she left for school she only visited me once. We talked on the phone, we wrote letters, but she only visited me once. She really had nothing to come back to. Parents dead, family never really that close, a grandmother slash surrogate mother that she always disliked a bit less than I.
That time is burned in my mind. There are times we remember, but then there are times we cannot forget. This is one of the latter.
At first, we could keep ourselves happy through sheer containment. To an extent we intended to be happy on our vacation, no matter what the truth may be. Strained laughter, the pleasure of simply ignoring the pain. Happiest few hours I'd had in years, actually. And then, in the little cottage I had rented through conning a friend into loaning me more than I'd ever be able to repay -- again -- we'd be forced to deal with each other.
We tried talking. It worked a little, but inevitably one or the other would mention something -- a friend, a project, a get-together she forgot I hadn't been her escort for -- and the room would ice over again.
We tried sex. That worked a little better. No talking, no thinking, no contact, just the ritualized motions of showing you care. Could be done in one's sleep, actually.
We tried fighting. That worked the best. It was something we both had a hell of a lot of practice in.
When did it begin? Did it ever begin? (Does anything ever begin?) At what point did we stop being "we, you and I" and start being "you and I, we"?
Does a relationship begin to die as soon as it is born, like a metaphysical life? "Death begins at the moment of conception. The Pope says so."
I think, to be a little less philosophical about it, this started when she returned from school.
"I am expecting to meet a stranger here tonight."
That is what I told her on our first date after she came back, to visit. I claimed my right as "kind of former but not really over boyfriend" quickly, and hoped to see her as much as possible before she left me again.
I couldn't answer. I just stood there, an uncomfortable distance from her, an uncomfortable silence between us, and looked at my feet. I still can't answer. How much did she change, and how much did I change, and how much did I change us through my expectations?
There are some questions that simply have no answers. There are questions we do not really want to have answered.
She yelled. She cried. I said things that hurt just with the saying. She might have thrown something. Sometimes she does that. Ever since I stopped standing near when I can smell the tears coming.
I dressed and I left. Out into the cold night of the forested hillside. I walked through the woods, listening to the waves of the wine dark sea. Or actually, what I discovered was just a brackish mountain stream.
I followed the sound of the water, and then, later, the river itself, up, aimlessly upstream, fighting against the current. I slowly became aware that the song of the river was being accompanied by the song of a girl's voice, and followed that, too, along the river and up to a pool.
She didn't see me. Some shepherdess, I suppose, or village girl. Young. I reached the shadowed edge of the clearing as she dropped her dress from her shoulders, and as she slid into the water, turned her singing face into the moonlight and shone with a corpse's pallor.
I approached, quietly, under the cover of her splashing and Greek folksongs and the mumbling of the river, and sat beside her dress on the shore. The dress was the off-white of poverty, or of utility, a covering trying to be white but having to deal with the stains of life. I held it, rough, weathered, real. Her scent still clung to it, earthy, and I tried to make it seem unpleasant. And, somehow, the almost pathetic stitching, no doubt representing hours in the firelight, tried to seem beautiful. It was a battle of wills.
I sat and watched her play, for a while, pulling my jacket tighter, less used to the night chill than her, and less warmed in my stillness. As she pulled herself back on the shore, I lit up our faces as I lit a cigarette, and briefly illuminated her goosebump covered body.
Apparently not startled in the least to find me sitting beside her clothes in the moonlight, she laughed and babbled a lot of Greek. I shared her smile, but not her conversation. After a few expressive gestures, I shared my cigarettes.
A few gestures of my own, and she sat beside me, shivering as the wind dried her, and pressed against me, my arm around her.
She talked, and I listened. She -- from time to time -- would laugh, and I would smile. Finally, she sang a few more songs, and I looked, melancholy, into the distance, or occasionally smiled back at her. She sat beside me, so thoughtless, so shameless, I expect she must have been a little simple minded. I suppose that's what I need sometimes, though. Simple.
And as we sat, I looked less into an obscure distance, and more into a present obscurity, and her singing got closer and lower. Her gooseflesh had gone, and she felt warm in my arms, and held me as I held her, warming each other. A kiss, and perhaps, and perhaps nothing, or perhaps simply nothing I can understand.
And I looked into the distance again, into the distant stars looking down on us, and cradled her until she fell asleep, a vulnerable child in my arms, surely not more than thirteen, fourteen, her skin looking less ghostly against her dress, a shroud she was laid upon, shivering slightly as I stood, but not yet wrapped in. In her sleep, she absently clutched for it, and I lifted the edges over her body.
And one more kiss, and I was gone.
When I got back, she had locked all the doors. I figured she'd latched them, too, so I didn't bother with the front door. Circled through the back, leading into a hallway to the small bedroom. A concession to vacationers who needed an escape route for nighttime visitors, I suppose.
I found her sprawled out on the bed, nude, her hair framing her face and her limbs haphazardly tossed. In the pale moonlight coming through the windows -- Americans don't shutter windows -- I could see a dark spot around one arm, turned down. She'd cut her wrists again. Her other arm was across her body, and a river of blood trickled between her breasts.
Unconscious like this I can feel a tenderness for her as intense as the day we first kissed. I went into my suitcase and unpacked a washcloth and some bandages, and praised God for indoor plumbing in two whole temperatures: frozen and tepid.
I bathed her wrists and breasts, bandaged her. We both knew this wouldn't kill her. On some subconscious level, or maybe it is intentional, she always draws a little blood without cutting anything important. I don't even know if it is a cry for attention, really. We all need an escape valve, a way of hurting ourselves enough to let off steam without hurting ourselves enough to make it permanent, enough to die. I think there was a certain blood sacrifice ritual to the whole sequence. We'd fight, I'd leave, and when I'd come home, more often than not I'd bandage her wounds, tuck her in, kiss her on the forehead and spend a night staring into the cold darkness through tear filled eyes.
She might have mumbled something as I lay her down. It might have been nothing, or I might have heard her say, "I love you." She always knew I'd come back. I suppose that is love. I suppose that trust, that I would return -- that I would be there -- is love. If it isn't, I don't know what is.
"No," she is telling me. "You never seemed strong."
We are sitting on the hood of my car, the warmth of the cooling engine warming us nicely in the cooling evening air. We are talking together; we are not talking to each other. We gaze across the headstones with a chasm a handspan across separating us. In the distance, I think I can see her leaving again, for another semester away from me.
"Your shell seemed strong, but you seemed weak, if only because you needed it." It is odd what kind of things come out when we think we are parting. Things we hid from each other. Things we never noticed. Things we never allowed ourselves to notice. "Or thought you needed it. With me you didn't. With me you could have let it down, let yourself be vulnerable. I always hated that about you. I felt you didn't trust me." Or not so odd, perhaps. There are things we cannot allow ourselves to see, if we are to keep a relationship. As our respective school careers ended and we came to realize we had to be together, no matter how much we hated each other, we both had things we had to forget. Every evening when I come back, I have to forget. It is the only way to live.
I am vaguely studying a nothing in the distance, perhaps watching her plane fly away again, giving the words a chance to run away before cluttering the area with my own.
She clutches her knees against her breasts, her arms wrapped around her shins. We have been here too long; she shivers as the warmth of the car disappears with the last warmth of the sun. Her chin rests against her knees, and when she talks, out of the corner of my eye I can see her head bob up and down. Out of nowhere, I start watching her hair, without turning my head, as I feel my mind trying to isolate the words I want. It is longer than I have seen it on her -- except in pictures -- and it beats against her back in tempo with her speech. It looks good on her. Everything looks good on her.
"Do you remember one time -- I haven't a clue what we were talking about -- you told me you expected I'd been really teased as a child? You said you could see how someone could turn out like me, as if I could be reduced to a set of environmental factors, as if I was nothing more than my history? You looked so condescending, so maternal. At that moment I was entirely vulnerable. You know, I think I hated you at that moment."
She turns her face towards me. "I know." The distance is gone. Somehow, I hear tenderness in her voice. For a moment, I think we see each other. For a moment, we are real, and not abstract memories and might have beens. For a moment, I feel the hate welling up again.
My nerve breaks first. I look back across the graves. "One must hate anyone one is vulnerable to. Otherwise it will kill you. Love is the power to hurt someone, but hate is the power to be hurt.
Somehow, we finished the evening, and the visit, and thought we had put each other behind ourselves. And we had. And we always came back.
I don't know why we went there. I don't know why we went. Whatever it was we were looking for, it was not in Greece. I don't expect it is anywhere, in space. I thought it was somewhere in time, but I'm no longer sure.
Where is love? Where is union? Can you lose it, or do you just ride the wave closer and then farther again?
Below the surface, inside, in the heart, or in the great Platonic ideal world. That must be where love is. Somewhere there are the realities. If we could see it, maybe we could know why we have to be together, whether we think we love or hate each other.
And are these really different?
We went to Greece together, and we came back together. We always come back, and on some level we are always together. We really have no choice. And I, for one, am happier that way.
Incessantly lonely nomad seekingAnd so His plan was in place. One of mindless proportion and infinite wisdom. That is what the brochure said, anyway. Alan had been extremely obsessed with paid-for-television advertising the past lunar cycle, even to the point of becoming fluent in Spanish to catch the ones on Unavision.
large, overly obese, farm animal
for meaningful, possible long-term,
relationship in run-down trailer park.
he was in the PTA you know.
but it didn't have to be that way.
oh, I know.
terrible, isn't it?
horrible, horrible, horrible.
he has fleas you know.
but it didn't have to be that way.
oh, I know.
terrible, isn't it?
horrible, horrible, horrible.
Littering the 70s ensembled living room of his mother's home, uncountable free brochures and cheaply packaged videotapes had been tossed about by Him. This is where He sat, achingly reclining in a puke lime green chair that had been in the family His entire life, while the ancient box of a television sat on the floor in front of Him, oozing the words of his biddings. His Father and HIS Father sat for mere moments in the same chair, leaving behind a unmistakable mass of Them. Of hope and hate and large blistering wrinkles caught on by the light.
This is where it is. This is where I'll be. This is what I am. This is.
Thumbing through the frozen stuffing and turkey mixture on His lap, Alan came across a shriveled green pea that had escaped from its walls, and eyed it cautiously. You can never know about those Greenies. Crazy vegetables had spread across the country, infecting many with their "Save the Trees" disease. Only peas know such evil. Alan did not have plans to become one of them.
He averted his eyes away from the reservoir of gravy and pretended to glance about at the wallpaper. The pea was attempting to scale a hunk of turkey, heading straight for his flesh, but Alan knew this already, and remained calm about it. Waiting for just the right moment, Alan seized his form with deftly swift actions, and, jumping atop the limey chair with a Scottish grunt, challenged the pea to war. Alan knew what this meant, and He was prepared to stand behind His biddings. The pea, too, knew what that meant, somehow.
Alan did not count on the cavalry of shriveled pea-like vegetables standing behind the voice and body of its leader. Even some of the miniature onion flavorings were full of conviction and pride. Alan knew what was to come of this. He knew the cultivation of his existence had come to an end -- His tractor running out of fields to plow -- why waste it on a few ill-doctored vegetables.
And so He bowed to the pea, extending His middle finger with apology. Many out There would take this with offense, and promptly shoot Him in the chest and then tell His mother. In the realms of the Kingdom, however, this is wisely known as an apology of sorts -- something used to say, "Hey, man, I was just kidding about that whole frozen vegetables suck thing. So, like, chill."
And that was that.
I jammed the syringe of novacaine into my pineal eye, but I could still see the screams.
"Doctor, doctor," the nurse screamed, "the patient has anesthetized himself. What do you recommend?"
The head doctor pulled down his surgical mask and smiled. "Make the boy feel again," he said, pulling up a stool and lighting a cigarette. "After all, that's why he came to us -- to feel."
Two orderlies appeared and wrestled me onto the gurney. I managed to kick the nurse in the chest before I was finally strapped down. The leather restraints immediately became soaked with my sweat. The doctor approached me with a large scalpel.
"Goddammit, they sure don't make patients like they used to." The nurse drew a line across my forehead with a marker as the doctor spoke. "I'll be happy when Armageddon comes, Nurse. Then everyone will be nice and docile so I won't have to put with this resistance shit."
"Doctor, I thought when Jesus comes back, there won't be any sick people," the nurse said.
The surgeon looked up quizzically. "No sick people? Of course there will be sick people! What else is a doctor in God's Army supposed to do? But that's still in the future. Right now, we've got some cutting to do."
My mouth opened to yell for help, but the nurse shoved in a ball gad and fastened it around my head. The door to the O.R. opened and a petite man peered in.
"Uh, doctor," he said, pointing out into the hall, "the patient in Three is flatlining, and he doesn't have insurance. Should we still try to save him?"
"You know the rules," the doctor scolded. "If we save one person for free, we've got to start saving everybody for free. Go wheel him down to the morgue and call it a night."
"Righto," replied the man, who promptly disappeared.
The doctor leaned over and cut along the black line. Blood ran into my eyes, and I waited in darkness as he got a good grip and snapped the top of my head off.
"Jesus, Nurse, would you look at this brain?" I heard him say. "His cerebellum is so huge! And look right here -- the mantle is starting to break up. There must be something wrong with his core."
I heard the whir of a drill and then a goopy, splattering noise.
Anne shook her head and dabbed her eyes with a tissue. "Why did this have to happen to us? Why, Cyrus? What have we done?"
"Nothing," I consoled, putting my arm around her. "Sometimes these things happen. I don't know what else to say. We'll get through it, somehow."
"But our child is dead! I saw the truck coming, and I tried to swerve away, but it was... too late. And when I saw her in the car seat..."
"It's not your fault, Anne. Don't blame yourself. You did everything you could."
She continued to cry, and I just held her. I couldn't do anything else.
When I came to in the ICU, I panicked. Tubes were running all across my body, and I could feel something cold and metallic in my ass. My hands and feet were still strapped onto the bed. One of the orderlies was sitting by the door, reading Behold a Pale Horse by William Cooper. He glanced up, noticing that I was awake.
"Oh, good," he said. "I'll go get the doctor."
A few minutes later he returned with the surgeon in tow.
"Feeling better, Cyrus?" he asked, picking up the clipboard on my bed.
"I dunno, Doc. Why don't you tell me? And why is there something up my ass?"
He chuckled. "All of your questions will be answered in due time. right now, I think I ought to introduce myself, seeing that we've been through quite a bit. My name is Dr. Eric Driskell, and I'm the head surgeon at this wonderful institute. I would shake your hand, but, uh, you're all tied up."
"And why is that?" I asked.
"Oh dear. I was hoping to avoid this part, but I guess you ought to know. We don't want you to accidentally dislodge your brain."
"You know those cheap doctor jokes everyone tells? Well, this is the part where the doctor tells the bad news."
"And that would be?"
"Now, Cyrus, you've got to understand that in a huge bureaucracy like this, mixups do occur. I'd suggest starting with Max Weber to learn--"
"What the hell is wrong with me?" I yelled.
The doctor grimaced. "We seem to have misplaced the top of your head."
"Don't worry. Our crack team of hospital janitors is scouring the hospital as we speak, looking in trashcans and bedpans. We think it might have been used for hair implants by mistake."
I tried to discern if the top of my head was indeed missing. I couldn't tell.
"Look, Cy -- do you mind if I call you Cy?" Dr. Driskell asked.
I shook my head.
"Jesus, don't do that! Your brain could go airborne." He turned to the orderly. "We need a head restraint pronto. Make sure it's got lots of knobs and stuff so I can tweak the hell out of the configuration."
The orderly left. What kind of doctor was this?
"What kind of doctor are you?" I inquired aloud.
"I already told you. I'm the head surgeon." He grinned. "Get it? Head? Surgeon?"
"I'm not really in a humorous mood," I admonished. "And if you can't find the top of my head?"
"I guess we're calling it a grandiose trepenation. Do you know what a trepanation is?"
I started to shake my head, thought better of it, and simply said, "No."
"Ah." The doctor started pacing. "In ancient cultures, they would drill a hole into someone's head to release evil demons and spirits. Nowadays, there are some who say that by drilling a hole in the skull, undue pressure is removed from the brain which allows the brain to 'breathe' and causes instant happiness. You might say we've given your brain air-conditioning. If we can't find your brain, you'll still be a happy man. It might be a bit hard to get laid, but that's why God created roofies. I've got some if you'd like a few."
"How come I'm not feeling happy right now? Why am I really pissed off?"
"You're not? Not even a little blissful?"
"Not feeling any love for humanity?"
"There's no hints of illumination running around in your head?"
"Absolutely nothing of the sort."
Dr. Driskell frowned. "Damn, there goes that grant. Oh well. We'll get you all patched up."
I got into bed next to Anne and kissed her cheek. She pushed me away.
"Not tonight, Cyrus," she complained. "I'm not in the mood."
I turned over onto my back. "Anne, you haven't been 'in the mood' for four months. I've been as patient as humanly possible, but this is getting very trying."
"I just don't want to have an accident."
"I'm going to wear a condom."
"But it might break."
"Anne, I told you I'd get a vasectomy. Then we wouldn't have to worry at all. You can't keep living in fear like this."
"What if something happened to me? You wouldn't be able to have more kids. I just can't go through that again. There's no way I'm getting pregnant again."
"We don't even have to have sex tonight. I can't remember the last time we've done anything romantic. You can't keep this up. It's going to tear you apart."
She looked away. "It's just going to take some time."
I slid out of bed and went to the bathroom to masturbate.
I woke up to the kind smile of a nurse.
"Good news, Cyrus," she exclaimed. "I think you're going to be a happy man today."
"I have to admit, I didn't think you'd find the top of my head," I said. "Where was it?"
"Not so fast. We didn't find your scalp, but we did find one that belonged to an elderly gentleman. His head is larger than yours, but Dr. Driskell says with a little cosmetic work, it should do just find."
"I don't want some old man's head. I want my head with my hair on it."
"Now, now," the nurse scolded. "Beggars can't be choosers. Some people would give their left arm for a new head of hair."
"I bet some people here have," I said coldly.
"There's no need to be rude. The doctor will be in later to talk to you."
I tried to sit up, but the head restraint kept me immobile. "Nurse, can I ask you something?"
"You may," she said with a manufactured smile.
"During the operation, was the doctor really talking about the end of the world?"
She opened the door to leave. "Oh, we always talk about God and pray to Him during operations. That's why we do such a good job. Have a nice day."
My mother-in-law called one day and told me that Anne had moved in with her.
"Let me speak to her, Mom," I said.
"She doesn't want to talk," she replied. "Cyrus, Anne can't deal with you right now. She's barely holding together here. She says she doesn't want to be a burden to you, so you can get on with your life."
"But we're in this together," I complained. "Anything she goes through, I go through."
"You weren't there, Cyrus. You didn't have to look at the bashed-in head of your daughter. You don't have to see that image every night while you try to sleep."
"Don't you think I still think about Juliana? Don't you think my mind conjures up horrible recreations of what happened? Dammit, Mom, Anne needs me, and I need her."
"You're probably right, you're probably right. But this is Anne's choice, and Jake and I are going to stand by her. We enrolled her in therapy today, and with time everything will get better."
"And where does this leave me? She's my wife. I want to talk to her."
"In time, dear, in time. When Anne is ready, she'll see you."
I hung up the phone. "Make death die," Valentinus wrote. How I wished I could bring my little Juliana so I could win Anne back. But I couldn't perform miracles, and now the two most precious things in my life were gone. Would I be next?
I spent the next three days in a normal hospital room while Driskell revamped his efforts to find the top of my head. I told him I didn't want the old, fat man's scalp, and he said he understood, even though I detected a sense of disappointment in his voice. They still had me in a head brace, so one of the orderlies had wheeled in a television on a cart since I couldn't watch the one high up in the corner. Those three days were full of outrageous talk shows and even more outrageous soap operas.
Once, when I was in high school, a few friends and I were going through a bunch of my parent's unmarked videotapes on the chance that we might find something racy. One of the tapes contained old soap opera episodes, and we fast-forwarded through them hoping something else might be on the tape. We noticed that after coming back from a commercial, the camera was on a closeup of someone's face and then pulled out. Before a commercial, the camera would zoom in on an actor's face. This occurred all the time, and I realized while lying in my hospital bed that the lack of creativity found in the camerawork extended to all other aspects of the show as well. Such a discovery was trivial, but there's not much to do when your head is restrained and you have to let the nurses feed you.
The one high point of those three days was J-me, a medical student who was doing a thesis on deviant surgical procedures that caused gnosis. She told me that when she happened to glance in my room, see me immobilized and notice that half of my head was missing, she knew a prime subject had been found. I knew I'd disappoint her, but I needed the company. Besides, anyone who spelled their name like she did had to be somewhat interesting.
After she had figured out that I hadn't received any type of access to gnosis, she dispensed with her scholarly questions. she came by everyday for a bit, though, and I appreciated that.
"You never told my why you had this operation in the first place," J-me said one afternoon in a commercial break of All My Children.
"I wanted to be able to love again," I explained. "My daughter died in a car wreck a few years ago, which caused my ex to go into deep depression. She finally left me, and I just didn't think I could give myself to people again. I tried everything -- therapy, hypnosis, accupuncture, yoga, alcohol. I thought maybe medical science could give me a cure, but I fear that field is more fucked up than I am."
She sipped bad hospital coffee from a styrofoam cup. "I'm sorry. I didn't know. And you didn't understand that they'd be tearing off part of your head?"
I laughed. "I thought he was speaking metaphorically. I'd rather be droll and uncaring than a freak."
"Well, at least you can say you've got an open mind," J-me joked.
"Jeez, does everybody in the medical profession make bad jokes?" I asked.
"Really, listen. You've experienced something few people have."
"Nobody should have to go through that."
"But you did. And you survived. You're a strong person. Haven't you learned anything from your ordeal?"
"Yeah. Before the operation I was depressed and angry. Now I'm depressed, angry, and ugly as hell. Maybe when I die Michael Jackson will buy my skull, and then I'll be able to spend eternity on a pedestal next to the bones of the Elephant Man."
"Most people would already by raving mad if they lost part of their head. But here we sit, having a conversation like it's an ordinary experience."
"Maybe those people who are crazy have achieved gnosis and just can't communicate it."
"Then what about you?" J-me asked. "You seem to be functioning normally."
"I'm still in the hospital. Stick me outside and see how long I last. Do you think I would 'function normally' in the real world looking like this?"
"It'd be more of the people around you who wouldn't act correctly. They'd take a look at the hole in your head and freak. And if you ever went to parties, people would wonder whether to play certain Nine Inch Nails and Cracker songs."
I pretended to vomit. "There's that horrible sense of humor again. You oughta have Dr. Driskell take a look at that."
"Fuck no, Cyrus. After seeing what happened to you, I'm doing all of my operations myself."
"Wouldn't that hurt?"
"Not with the right drugs. Besides, I think there'd be something real special about cutting into yourself and not feeling it. You really would be in control of your life. If you could do that and not feel it, you could kill yourself and not even experience the pain. You're holding the scalpel, and you can either patch yourself up or do away with it. It doesn't really matter, one way or the other, because at the time you are an observer, a third party whose only interest is to cut and leave."
I glanced over at J-me. "You can be really strange sometimes," I said.
"But you listen," she replied. "I've got to go make my rounds. If you need anything, you know where to find me."
J-me left and I started flipping through the talk shows, trying to decide which ones I'd like to be on. I was pretty sure it wouldn't be too hard to get on one now.
The gravestone was simple but beautiful. "Juliana Emily Martin," it read. "Born February 29th, 1995, died September 23, 1995." I never could figure out what pithy saying to put on the gravestone. Anne said we shouldn't put anything.
I took a swig from the flask. The alcohol burned my throat. I stared at the dates. A year ago today. I took another drink.
When a child dies, especially your own, you wonder about how much pain they felt. Part of that derives from wanting to take that pain from them and bear it yourself. I always hoped she died instantly and only felt happiness during her short life.
Sometimes I wish I was Juliana. I think Anne beat me to it, though.
My eyes opened to the sight of a brick wall. I glanced around and saw that I was in an alley, lying in a bed of garbage, leaves, and cigarette butts. I stood up and found a payphone a few streets down. I dialed information and got J-me's phone number.
"Hello?" she asked.
"It's me, Cyrus," I answered. "I'm out of the hospital."
"They let you go?"
"Well, let's just say I didn't know I was going to be released until I woke up in a goddamn alley. They did bandage my head, which was nice."
"Those fuckers," J-me fumed. "We'll sue their asses for every penny they've got. We'll get Driskell's license revoked and get him put in jail for gross bodily harm. That hospital will--"
"Hold on, hold on. I don't even want to think about those people right now. Could you just come pick me up?"
"But you want to sue them, don't you?"
"Not really. Besides, I think I've already figured out my problem. It's got nothing to do with my head. Just come pick me up."
J-me huffed. "You really want to spend the rest of your life like that?"
"You don't seem to mind it too much."
"Well, I'm different. Other people--"
"Other people will have to deal with it. We'll talk over dinner."
"Okay. You sure you're alright?" she asked.
I glanced down at the ground where the bandages and my brain were strung about. "Perfectly fine," I assured her. "I've never felt better."
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 1996 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 1996 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: CYBERVERSE 512.255.5728 14.4 TEENAGE RiOt 418.833.4213 14.4 NUP: COSMIC_JOKE THAT STUPID PLACE 215.985.0462 14.4 ftp to ftp.io.com /pub/SoB World Wide Web http://www.io.com/~hagbard/sob.html Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. The SoB distribution list may also be joined by sending email to Kilgore Trout. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--