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,                             UfOFofO                 ,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                 5/31/99                 tahw ro who gniwonk
to think. You are in               FiFTY-FiVE              ni era uoY .kniht ot
a state of unbeing....                                   ....gniebnu fo etats a



EDiTORiAL by Kilgore Trout



by Kilgore Trout

Yes, I saw Star Wars. Let's get this out of the way right up front. You'd think that after 16 years of rumination, ole George Lucas would realize that cute little creatures really annoy me. I hope Jar Jar Binks dies a horrible death at the hands of ravenous fanboys from all four corners of the globe. At least his voice could have been better than a damn Roger Rabbit rip-off.

That's all I'm going to say on the subject. My evil gnostalgia seems to be holding back my critical eye for this movie, which apparently wants to be unleashed like a man looking for pumpkins the day after Halloween for some good eatin'. It's probably for the best.

So, we're back from the dead again with a new issue, and we've also completed the third audio issue. Keep an eye out on the website for more information about where you can download the mp3 files once we find some server space. And, if you want a CD (yes, clocky went out and bought a burner), then email him at for transaction information. The CD is about 50 minutes worth of improv music played by clock, iwmnwn, styx, and myself. And just in case you think we're trying to be some idiot savant garde type of band, we're working up a b-sides album for all the wacky stuff that didn't go on that album. I think we decided we were going to call ourselves STS-48. We've still got t-shirts, too. Not many, though.

So, keep those submissions coming, and enjoy this bigger-than-i-thought-it-would-be issue. I'm always surprised to find stuff in my inbox that I didn't know was there. I should clean house and delete most of those 2,000 messages. I'm a pack rat. And remember, if you want to get published in State of unBeing, you might only have the next issue, because Nostradamus predicted that the world was going to end in July of 1999. I mean, he's probably full of crap.

But why take the chance? Don't you want to give the cockroaches something to read?



From: Brady D. Russell
Subject: Re: SoB #54 -- it can hang by its tail like a possum.


Dig. Parts of Kansas would amaze you. As a native, it takes some time to
learn to appreciate the majesty. 

Kansas is like an ocean, except it doesn't move but you can also eat more
of it.

While the people take some time to understand, once you do they have a
flavor unique in all the 50. And the women are the prettiest on Earth. 

I know what y'all's problem, was. You just didn't go to Lawrence, homey mi

Ever vigilant in defense of the state I left,
Brady Russell

[well, i don't think i could spend a lot of time 'learning to appreciate' the beauty of kansas before i decided to shove corn cobs down my gullet and set a torch near my stomach to die by implosion of popcorn. sounds like my english professor telling me i have to 'learn to appreciate' charles dickens. it's just not going to happen. the only thing i can recommend about hard times is that it is dicken's shortest novel. that said, i'm not really into statehood defense, and i'll be more than happy to list off a giant list of the suckitude we call texas. of course, burroughs did live in kansas, so whenever i decide to make my own personal trip to interzone mecca, i'll swim in wonder like a strange literati tourist. anyway, let's hear it for space colonization!]

Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 1999 11:17 PM
Subject: ???

where can i find yuor guys pages???there all down.
is there a new spot??
email me back and let me know?

Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 1999 11:27 PM
Subject: i just emailed you...

this error message keeps popping up 
500 Server Error
The hard transfer limit for this user has been reached

is it due to the shootings in colorado?  let me know what is going on.  
thanks for the info

[amazingly enough, yes it is. clockwork set up a little utility on the site to detect how people were accessing the website, and he sent around these statistics on the oh-so-secret SoB IntraNet. these dates are for april 21, 1999:

        mafia   3436 90.34%
        trenchcoat  2225 58.5%
        coat    1217 32%
        trench          1208 31.76%
     the         97 2.55%
        black   73 1.91%
        webpage         59 1.55%
        don't   42 1.1%
        like    42 1.1%
        homepage        42 1.1%

        mafia   215 5.65%
        trenchcoat  155 4.07%
        trench          68 1.78%
        coat    68 1.78%
        homepage        51 1.34%
        webpage         15 0.39%
        death   5 0.13%
        manson          5 0.13%
        hitler          5 0.13%
        black   4 0.1%

        mafia   55 1.44%
        trench          45 1.18%
        coat    40 1.05%
        trenchcoat  17 0.44%
        kmfdm   13 0.34%
        apocalypse  10 0.26%
        foosball        7 0.18%
        sob             6 0.15%
        black   6 0.15%
        eric    5 0.13%

AOL NetFind
        mafia   7 0.18%
        trench          7 0.18%
        coat    7 0.18%
        hate    3 0.07%
        satan   3 0.07%
        website         2 0.05%
        nazis   1 0.02%
        homepage        1 0.02%
        gothic          1 0.02%

        coat    6 0.15%
        mafia   6 0.15%
        trench          6 0.15%
     bomb      1 0.02%
isn't that exciting? you can't buy free publicity like that.]

From: clockwork
To: kilgore
Subject: Letter to the Editor -- Kosovo, Oh, Kosovo. Wherefore art thou.

I find myself feeling somewhat nauseous and watered down.  As much as I
would like to turn my head to events such as that is occurring in Europe,
unfortunately, or fortunately, I can not.  I am rather concerned, and
fearful for what may occur.  I mean, Nostradamus is knocking at the door --
July of 1999 is coming up, my lovely people: "The year 1999, seven month, a
pope, eager to appease; will stir things up in the east, before and after,
war rages."  Translate it as you wish.  And follow it all up with the
comings of the anti-christ, eternal war, blood filled seas, and the
destruction of the sun.

But, nonetheless.  I'm not driven solely by the prophecy of Nostradamus.
Although I certainly do not just toss that aside.  I must state that I do
not possess a wealth of knowledge pertaining to the history of the conflict
in former Yugoslavia, or the rest of the world's involvement with.  Basic
facts.  Basic things.  Headlines.  Biased slants.  I do see, however, the
world growing weary of the Western led power tactics on countries
everywhere.  Countries screamed against the recent U.S. attacks on Iraq --
small and large, not to mention the entire United Nations.  And now, they
are screaming again against the U.S. led military smacks against others.
And Russia.  Poor Russia.

Not only am I vehemently against war, but I believe this is a mistake by
NATO, one that could prove very costly.  They have admitted there is no
quick ending.  They have admitted the bombing of the country really does not
prove to be effective, and in fact has worsened the situation.  In fact,
from what I have seen, the real genocidal acts only began to occur after
NATO began their attack.  Whether this is directly a result of NATO attacks
or not is surely to be debated.  They know any kind of war objectives they
could have can not be achieved without the use of ground forces.  And I am
afraid that is soon to come.

Not to mention.  It seems as though NATO stepped into the situation with
little to no plan.  And they have little to no plan to exit the situation.
It is hard to believe they are convinced if they just fire enough missiles
at the country, they will throw their hands up into the air and apologize.
Perhaps that is what they expect them to do, since after all, NATO and the
United States are the controlling forces of the world, and no one dare
challenge them -- all must whimper at the very prospect of standing up to
them.  Well.  I am afraid they know not what they are stepping into.

And of course, I must mention that which is reported by the news media.
Whether I trust news media organizations, is something I do not know.  I am
certain I do not trust that which is told to news media organizations by the
United States government.  Especially by the Pentagon.  Especially during
war-time.  As any student of history, military history, would know, the use
of propaganda, for many underlying reasons, is wide spread during war.
Propaganda regarding the enemy and how evil they are.  Propaganda regarding
how our allies are of course winning such wars, plowing through the enemy,
we can not be defeated, our weapons are unmatchable, and everyone will be
safe.  I do not know what to believe.  I believe very little regarding the
"stats" of the conflict.  From any side.  Unfortunately, I do not have any
such device as a ham radio, which I believe could in fact be the best source
of such information.  I have read reports from such radio broadcasts.
Reports of more F-117s shot down.  Reports of NATO transport helicopters
carrying dozens of U.S. troops shot down.  Reports of Russia revving up
their ICBMs.  Reports of the use of non-conventional weaponry.

It is stated that Russia will do nothing against us.  Due to their reliance
on us to keep their country from collapsing.  These people also believe no
country would dare stand up against us in a military conflict.  So.
Unstable countries tend to do unpredictable things.  Especially when
unstable countries are led by a man who many consider to be quite unstable

In a military sense, I believe the United States is fairly weak at the
moment.  Multiple military conflicts in multiple countries, depleting arms at
a rapid rate, spreading forces around the globe.  All not quite a good idea.
In a military sense, how can the United States expect to keep track of and
control of all their "possible foes" if the current situations continue?
Political conflicts with the Middle East, now political conflicts with
Europe, conflicts with Russia, conflicts with China.  Furthermore, I fail to
understand how one can believe peace can truly be achieved through the hands
of force.  I can see this easily -- much to easily -- cascading into a
massive, earth scorching, evil, bleeding event.  We all know that World Wars
always begin in Europe.  And that is what I fear, and will wait to see.

From: Sophie Random
Subject: From the Old School

Dear Kilgore,

     I do not enjoy writing essays.  Instead of seeing a blank screen, I see 
my eighth grade English teacher, with her thick calves and butchered feet 
which my mother's podiatrist boss had ruined forever, declaring that all 
essays must be five paragraphs long. Each paragraph must have at least three 
sentences.  The first paragraph must introduce the main points of your 
essay, the next three act as the body, and the last is the conclusion.  I do 
not enjoy writing essays. So I will write a letter to the editor instead, 
because letters to the editor remind me of notes passed in study hall and 
therefore freedom of expression, of a place where no one could tell or judge 
or dictate.
     I have a sinking suspicion that this issue of SoB will have at least 
one nonfiction piece concerning the recent high school shootings.  And I am 
sure Mr. Ansata will have many, many enlightening righteous comments that I 
will no doubt half-heartedly skimp through, like the casual reader that I 
am.  But before I get to that part of SoB, I want to have something there to 
remind myself of a different perspective.  So I will write you, O my editor, 
this letter.  I believe in taking responsibility, you see, and actualizing 
my desires.
     Remember high school? I can't, my psychiatrist won't let me because 
it'll ruin all the hard work that she's done.  Ah, I wish. Unfortunately,  I 
can and do remember.  I even remember eighth grade, hell, I can remember all 
the way back to fourth grade...where the terror began.  Where the pee-wee 
football cheerleaders became the subjects of my first public polemic.  Where 
I stood, in the playground, and gave a rousing speech to jump-ropers, 
hop-scotchers and taggers about the evils of cheerleading circles and their 
implicit hierarchical structures based on ponytail length.
     But even more so, I remember when, in seventh grade, I scribbled my 
first tear-stained prosaic ramble about the despair of being too-smart and 
too-fat.  I remember when, in eighth grade, I wrote my first suicide note 
that I kept in my desk drawer "for when the time inevitably came."  I 
remember the summer after freshman year that I spent writing horrific 
angst-filled poetry, most of which rhymed. I remember sophomore year, 
writing short stories about my best boy friend who I was secretly madly 
hopelessly in love with. I remember junior year writing to my long-distance 
boyfriend about the banality of suburban life and the truth of 
existentialism and bad ska shows, although at the time, I thought they were 
pretty rad. I remember the summer after junior year that I spent at my 
computer writing more and longer than I had ever written in my life, about 
them all, about myself, about everything.  And throughout it all, I remember 
all the pretentious, yes, cliche, yes, but very real pain I felt because I
was a dumpy awkward precocious girl who never ever fit in, even with those 
who didn't fit in.
     I remember throwing myself into books, into poetry, into music, into 
anything to get me through it. But I also remember how during those years I 
acquired the habit of digging my nails into my palms whenever an 
uncomfortable social situation arose, digging them in so hard that I drew 
blood.  I remember hating myself, hating, blaming, being disgusted in myself 
and in life because of what "they" made it about.
     And I always owned a copy of Heathers. In eighth grade, as the 
president of the honors' club, I announced that for the end-of- the-year 
party we would watch Heathers, and the whole room applauded, except for 
the row sitting in the back.  The good-looking, just got done with 
basketball/cheerleading practice row.  And one of them asked: "What's 
Heathers about?"  To which I responded, in one of the most powerful 
moments of my young life, "It's about killing all the popular people."  But 
that's never what I thought of doing.  I only thought of killing myself. I 
only thought of hurting myself, hurting myself more than they could, so at 
least I could win at something.  It was my fault. It was my fault I didn't 
fit in, and I chose that station in life, and I suffered proudly, with an 
ugly rust grunge-era cardigan as my badge of courage.
     Remember when freaks and losers took it out on themselves?
     I confess, it is with mixed feelings that I watch these homicidal 
scenes from white middle-class suburban America.  But rarely do I feel badly 
that young lives were taken.  No, I am torn by the classic quandary with 
which the freak culture in which I was raised is obsessed:  Did these 
black-clothes wearing, Nietzsche reading, wire-rimmed glasses boys, like, 
totally sell-out?




Kilgore Trout

Bixenta Moonchild
Crux Ansata
D.L. Brown
Holly Day
Kilgore Trout

Brady D. Russell
Sophie Random

Oxyde de Carbone


[=- ARTiCLES -=]


[Editorial | Next]

[previous installment]

by Crux Ansata

Jim Knipfel
(New York:  Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999) 235+xvi pp., $22.95

I suppose every major American city has to have a free weekly paper to provide the "alternative" to the "mainstream" daily, and thus preserve the illusion of free speech Americans hold so dear. ("Of course I can say whatever I want; this newspaper says 'fuck.' Now let's go shout down some racists...") In New York, the alternative weekly is the New York Press, which Knipfel describes fairly accurately as "a twisted, unpredictable, angry, funny alternative paper, filled with rants and first-person accounts of terrible lives." When I first lived in New York, I started reading the New York Press to find out what was going on in the city -- and avoid direct eye contact with the crazies in the subways. Jim Knipfel's column was by far the best part of the paper. As I came back to the city in later years, already somewhat aware of where to go to spend my weekends, I kept reading the New York Press pretty much for his column.

When I started reading his column, he had only been published in New York for about a year, though he had been writing much longer. The Slackjaw column had run in Philadelphia for about six years previously. This book, which includes some memories from those columns, but is by no means a "columns collection" book, is his first book-length publication.

Jim Knipfel is a person many of us can identify with: Bitter, outcast, cynical, trench-coat wearing, brass-knuckle toting, suicidal. He is also more than that. He is a talented, very funny writer, for example. (How many other recent books carry an endorsement from Thomas Pynchon?) He is a former punk singer; a reformed shoplifter; blind. This book is a memoir of his first thirty years or so, telling of growing up, getting a degree in philosophy, moving from city to city, and of his experiences with Retinitis pigmentosa.

When I was in high school, I knew a girl who had RP. Of course, I was a kid, and didn't understand what that meant. All I knew was she was a blind, attractive girl, with beautiful blue eyes. I assume that was because, as Knipfel observes, the RP had dissolved her retinas like so many tablets of Alka-seltzer.

All of which is not to imply this is a "triumph of the will" or "one man's inspiring struggle with RP." Knipfel is not like that. This his life, told with insight and wit, one of the factors of which happens to have been his progression into the darkness. He doesn't bog anyone down with statistics or pages of mantra-like affirmations. He just talks a good line, and leaves you giggling on the bus.

And trying to remember not to make direct eye contact with the crazies.


"Love is a grave mental illness."



[Prev | Next]

by Clockwork

What is this experience I wish to relate? How can I explain me reclining on the couch, still and aware, having taking mushrooms a few hours before, now writhing and living within the opera that had come into the room? Minutes before, I was standing in front of the stereo, a CD in each hand, attempting to decipher the english written on the covers, which band was which, and what each sounded like, in perpetual indecision as to what to listen to, as both Kilgore and IWMNWN sat across the room no-doubtedly staring at these sloth movements and attempts to grasp this concrete, geometrical land.

Much questioning, and many pauses in logical order, multiple comments from the audience on how it would not matter what I would choose, anything is fine, and I finally gave up on the rationality, grabbed the top CD from the stack, and flatly stated we were listening to classical. My attempts to plan out a multiple-hour listening experience by filling the seemingly massive 3-CD tray were abandoned, and I settled for one.

On the couch I went, reclined facing the stereo, able to view the track changes and the redgreenred alternations of the equalizer on the front panel, the only lights in the room from the multi-colored bulbs hanging above. And there began a completely clear rising chorus ensemble, an opera beginning to arise from the stereo -- not the cello, brass, percussion events I was expecting, but this opera contained much more life. The chorus rose over time, and I felt it being birthed into the room, the sound sliding from the speakers, sliding and covering the room from corner to corner, this breathing company of performers and characters and life, here to show the show. These were not things I could see, but feel this life I did. And the rise of masculine voices came and subdued, sharply dropped, and slowly returned, the play enacted with each note ringing through my entire body. This was a story, I had thought, a story of birth, and Truth, and death, and rebirth, and all the lives between -- the first few tracks lasting longer than any numbers on the stereo stated.

In the midst of the third track, I felt my body begin to tingle and buzz, from first my fingers and toes, the quickly creeping inward to ingest me entirely, and I laid open-mouthed, watery-eyed, and the world began to glow. I became bathed in a bluish-white light, a glowing aura that grew brighter with the beautiful sounds I heard, first myself in this glow, then my entire vision -- white-washed with this light. The light superimposing itself over my physical realm, providing a translucent, almost opaque view as I still was open-eyed. Operatic voices surrounded me, and the perception of the physical had disappeared, replaced with those sounds, voices, music, and this all-encompassing light. Thoughts were null until then, only drifting and going with what was occurring, but now I felt I had a choice to stay, or to return. What was meant by stay and return, I did not know, thoughts of death came to mind, and how tempting it was to progress into this other realm, these feelings of bliss and ecstasy, that all would be fine if I went forth, I chose to return. Slowly, the bluish-white regressed back into the room I was in, still hovering about, the operatic tale still swirling around me, and I sat up.

My body still tingling, and I was astonished and blissful, watching this ethereal haze drift and dance about the room, feeling its presence. I was taken aback by these thoughts of death I just had, overwhelmed with what was occurring, and so chose to step outside for fresh air and a cigarette in hopes to ground myself a bit. I stood and walked to the door, incredibly slow and fluid, passing amongst and through the dancing light and feeling it as I went -- opened the door slowly, slowly, stepped outside and shut the door behind me, slowly slowly. This energy was all around me, glancing back at the apartment I had just stepped from, the bluishwhite dancing freeful playful energy came out from the walls, and showed itself outside -- incredible, infinite layers of life to all sides, extending as far as I could see and touch. My perception of time had disappeared, crawled to a stop, and I sat on the step for what seemed to be hours, until time started again a few minutes later. I sat and smiled and took in this light, felt myself 200 yards away to my right, 100 yards away to my left, felt myself hovering above me, felt myself sway with the grass in the lot before me, sway and rustle in the tree not-so-far off, all in the same moments. And then I heard an incredible laughter arise from IWMNWN inside as I felt myself be him, and quick flashing untranscribable non-verbal conversations flew between us, several hours of thoughts and conceptions and understandings in a few moments when we were each other, when we were Kilgore, when we were all the room, and tree, and walls. I could not help but laugh as well, creeping back in with grins as to what was occurring, taking my place again on the couch, finishing the hour of music in six hours, and watching the light essence fade away with the operatic tale of us all.


"You realize, off course, that this means war."

--Bugs Bunny


[Prev | Next]

by Crux Ansata

The issue of "What is Fascism?" has occupied me now for some years. For the most part, I find our society uses the word "fascist" much as it uses the word "hypocrite," but where a hypocrite is someone -- usually a Christian -- whose morality one does not care for, a fascist is someone -- usually on the right wing -- whose politics one does not care for. That kind of name calling I do not care for, but what is to be done? So I thought about it, and kept my eyes open.

I find that on this, as in so many other things, the Marxists are probably the only ones with a coherent analysis of the topic. Others have definitions, with no reasons. These people often end up assuming every right-wing government is fascist, or every police state is fascist. This may have polemical value, but for an understanding of the phenomenon, and of how to oppose it, clarity is vital. Rhetoric has its place, but don't let yourself fool yourself. So, in these thoughts, I will be drawing a great deal from my understanding of the Marxist analysis of the phenomenon of fascism.

The definition, without the explanation, a Marxist may give for Fascism is this: Fascism is an essentially petit-bourgeois phenomenon, whereby the petit-bourgeois align their interests with the bourgeoisie in time of crisis against the proletariat. Much of the rest of this article will be an explanation of that definition.

In Marxism, little or nothing is static. That definition is misleading, in that it expresses what fascism "is," as if there were some grand, ideal, Platonic Fascism, blissfully singing among the seven spheres. Marxism isn't like that, and to really show what a Marxist analysis of Fascism would be talking about, I have to put the concept into a process, a praxis, to establish the vectors, if you will.

To begin, what is a "time of crisis?" An oft-quoted passage from the early times of Marxism has one person -- I believe it was Engels -- saying how at this point in history, we can go either to socialism or barbarism. It was one of the few passages where Marx and Engels let slip their usual mask of incurable optimism, and admitted progress is not inevitable. What did they mean by this? It is now frequently said the barbarism referred to was what we call today fascism.

As capitalism reaches a stage of increasing senility and increasing globalization, it runs out of victims to consume. Capitalism simply cannot achieve a steady-state. Stagnation may hold for a long time, but capitalism is not infinitely sustaining. It needs fresh blood to feed off. We are in a stage of advanced senility in our capitalism. The rich-poor gap is increasing. Workers' rights are being eroded. The proletariat is becoming increasingly globalized, as is capital. These statements mean much to Marxists and to people familiar with the state of the economy not covered in the Dollars and Sense segment on CNN2; they are peripheral to the thesis. Either assume this is the state of the world today for the sake of argument, or assume that in a world such as I have just described, the phenomenon I will now discuss would have the opportunity to come to be.

I say "opportunity," because Marxism, properly understood, is not some kind of Skinnerian determinism. Our only options may be socialism or barbarism, but yet we have the option: Socialism or barbarism. Something more than the mere situation determines the rise of fascism.

This is an important distinction between the Marxist and Capitalist analyses of fascism I personally have seen, and I may as well make the point here. In Capitalist terms, fascism is generally seen as the corporate state. That means: Under certain, ill-defined circumstances (usually involving one or more Really Bad Men), the state may come to serve the purposes of the corporations rather than the people. (Or, more accurately, rather than being neutral arbitrators of the law, as Capitalist analysts like to pretend the state can be.)

Now, to a Marxist, the statement "that state is serving the interests of big business" doesn't sound like Fascism so much as Capitalism. Not surprisingly, Marxists do not see Fascism as essentially different from Capitalism. Like Imperialism, Fascism is a flavor of Capitalism. The reason why the causes of Fascism are nebulous in Capitalist analysis -- and why they are left with a static definition of what it is rather than an analysis of how it forms and why -- is because Fascism is a development of Capitalism, not an aberration from it, triggered through some mystic Evil or viral Bad Guy. The descriptive elements, the union of corporation and state, do not make fascism, as the capitalist analysts think. These elements provide a situation that makes this development possible. A quasi-fascist state can be imposed from above, under these circumstances, but, as will be discussed, if it is so imposed, it is not fascism.

So, we assume these circumstances, and we consider where the Fascism comes from. In this time, where the bourgeoisie -- the persons who own the corporations selling so well on Wall Street, and employing the rest of us -- has so much more than the proletariat, the system enters crisis. A situation where a minority dominates the majority can only be sustained for a short period of time. The lack of justice cries out to all men for rectification.

Another side note: What is discussed here is not just that one guy has fifty whatzits and another guy has only twenty-five. That, again, is a static way of viewing the problem. Capitalism doesn't just sit there. In order for a corporation to survive and thrive, it needs profits. Capital, by its very nature, seeks to increase. This, too, is a side note to the thesis, and so I'll only refresh the reader's memory with this note. For justification, read a Marxist analysis of capital. The effect is: The rich-poor gap does not just exist; it either is expanding or contracting. In a society where the rich have the power, the rich-poor gap will increase, because it is not in the interests of the members of the ruling class -- aside from the occasional Tolstoy or St. Francis of Assisi -- to give away their wealth and power. The "lack of justice" to which I refer is not that some have slightly more; it is that some are in a state of taking more and more -- proportionally -- than others. The evil is not wealth; the evil is oppression facilitated by wealth.

Well, okay, we have a rich ruling class, and a poor underclass. Get some rope and some lampposts and everyone's happy, right? Not quite. In pre-capitalist societies, where Capital did not control the way people behaved, there were such tension relieving situations. Among the Oghuz peoples of Siberia, for example, periodically the leader of the tribe would throw a big party and let all his main followers plunder his possessions. Wealth is redistributed, esteem is preserved, and everyone goes home happy. In Israel, in the years of the jubilees, debts would be forgotten, slaves would be freed, and, perhaps most important, land was returned. Why was this most important? Because the land in an agrarian society is the means of production. If one person, one class, or one tribe monopolized the land, the means of production, this person or group would be able to get richer at a higher rate than anyone else, and would be in essence the ruler, the ruling class. In our society, capital is the means of production. It is not technically accurate to say so, but more or less that means wealth. So, the rich get richer not out of an aberration of Capitalism, or due to insufficient "pluck and luck" bootstraps on the side of the lazy homeless folks, but due to the structures that make up our capitalist society. Capital tends to increase, to aggregate. Capitalists that do not constantly increase their capital go bankrupt. Our "morality" is subverted to capital, and rather than being driven by what is in God's plan, or in men's best interest, businesses are driven by what is most profitable. They say that is the way things are, that they have to do that to survive. And they are right. And so the system cannot sustain itself once means of exploitation have been drained.

So we have established what the time of crisis refers to, and we have brought ourselves to the point in space-time where this crisis is existing. Now, who are those players I referred to above, in saying the "petit-bourgeois align their interests with the bourgeoisie in time of crisis with the proletariat." The bourgeoisie I have already introduced; they are the people who own the means of production. In short, this is the class -- because we don't necessarily oppose the individuals -- that dominates the possessions that make it possible to accumulate wealth. Who are the others?

The word "proletarian" is probably about as well-known as "bourgeoisie" in our culture, and about as poorly understood. In essence -- at least for the terms of this essay -- the proletariat is that class of persons who have to sell their labor-power to survive. They are the folks who would starve to death if they couldn't keep a job. I would suspect that covers most everyone reading this, either now or once the diploma's in your hands. This is because the tendency in any capitalist society is to increase the amount of wealth in the hands of the wealthy, and decrease it -- proportionately between the classes -- in the hands of the many. As the bourgeois class comes to own more, a larger percentage of the people end up in the proletarian camp. It is in the interests of the proletarian class -- who have little and are losing even that -- to throw off the system. It is in the interests of the ruling class to avoid giving them the power to do so.

The ruling class has a great many tools with which to effect this. I'll summarize them into two: Sticks and carrots.

The traditional -- though not necessarily fascist -- police state uses what may be called the stick. Union organizers come down with unfortunate cases of death. Uppity peasants get misplaced. We're all familiar with this kind of society; we've been funding it for decades. This uses force to oppose the will of the people to be free. This is not the only -- or often the most effective -- way to run a country. In a pre-industrial society, one can force one's peasants to farm or die. Even in the first degrees of sweatshop capitalism, this kind of oppression can be sufficient. As work gets more complex, however, and in educated societies, this becomes less efficient.

So, the fascist whips out his carrot. This one is harder for people in our society to see, not only because it is more subtle, but also because it pervades our society. It is not only a system of "If you're good, I'll reward you," but even one that stops the people from being able to see the oppression. Everything seems to "work." That's the way things "are."

The educational system, for example, teaches people to see and consider the world in the way the ruling class wants them to, and only in this way. Entertainment and news outlets serve similar purposes. Part, but not all, of the purpose of this educational distortion is to prevent the people from seeing the advent of fascism. Hence, the bourgeois analyses of what it means. If the people are constantly told fascism depends on the leadership principle, for example, or on racism, they will not see the maturing of the socioeconomic principles that led to fascism in the past, and lead to it now. The distortions of history, the many layers of lies about World War II, serve the purposes of those who seek to hide the fact fascism is coming again, and always, as long as capitalism subsists. The ideology of the ruling class becomes the ruling ideology. This is not fascism; this is a step towards it. But I'll stop with the fascist's carrot just now, because we have another character to introduce.

Who is the petit-bourgeois? In real terms, he is nothing. He doesn't exist. He thinks he does, but he doesn't. What is important, though, is that he thinks he exists.

The petit-bourgeois are the guys Saul Alinsky call the "have a little, want mores." Technically, in Marxist analysis, the petit-bourgeoisie are those people who own their own means of production, and no more. They are self-employed, and do not employ anyone else. On the surface, America seems to have a great many of these people -- subcontracting computer workers and the like. In reality, the nature of our society today makes their independence imaginary, even ludicrous. We are still in a transitional state, though; a Marxist knows we always are. There are not true petit-bourgeois, but there are people who act like them, and think like them. There are people who don't like to accept that they are slaves to capital, and so they pretend the are economically free.

Here we have another aspect of the fascist's carrot. It is in the interests of the ruling class to let many of the people have some wealth -- not capital, but wealth -- so they think they have a stake in this society. "Remember, where your treasure is, there your heart is also." The ruling class teaches the people to believe they are petit-bourgeois, or are potentially so, because to allow them to see they are proletarian would be to encourage them to link up with those who share their class interests.

Fascism occurs when the petit-bourgeois -- or, in this case, those who pretend they are -- believe their interests lie with the ruling class. They are taken in with the wealth the ruling class allows to trickle down, and with the memes spewed out by the ruling class's media, and the interpretations given in the ruling class's educational facilities. And they come to think they and the bourgeoisie are on the same team.

What does this mean in practice? In a police state, where there is no petit-bourgeois, but only suppressed workers, outright force is used to keep the people in line. In a fascist state, the people ask the government to keep them in line. They will vote for more prisons and more cops, will support the suppression -- explicitly or tacitly -- of unacceptable thoughtforms, but, most importantly, will believe the capitalist system, if not perfect, is at least the best for them. The sad irony, of course, is that it is not, but the artificial petit-bourgeois, in refusing to see themselves in their true socio-economic place, cannot see the world they inhabit. Like a man addicted to sin, by refusing to see the error in his ways, he is blind to the true world.

With the benefit of this analysis, we can briefly examine some of the regimes typically called "fascist," and make an effort to see if they really are.

The term comes from Italy, under Mussolini. In this case, and the case of National Socialist Germany, the Left and the Right united into a government. How could such far separated factions join into one? Because they did not join as a political union, but as a socioeconomic force. The seeking after a national leader, the emphasis on the power of the state, and so on fulfilled the needs and desires of the petit-bourgeois class. All they wanted was for the trains to run on time. They wanted a society that "worked," which is to say, a society that worked for the ruling class. They wanted the system not to improve, but to keep going as it always had, and so it was essentially a reactionary phenomenon. It is no surprise fascism in its purist form first manifested in the heartland of Europe, where industrialism was well entrenched, as was the working class movement. Marx considered Germany the best hope for a socialist revolution. The revolution came; Germany shows what a gamble "socialism or barbarism" really is.

From the same time period, and often mentioned in the same breath, is Franco's Spain. (And, to an extent, Salazar's Portugal. Knowing next to nothing about the socioeconomic state of Portugal, I won't be directly addressing it, and shall assume it to be essentially like the situation in Spain.) In Spain, one sees a union between the state and capital, and a relatively oppressive regime. However, one finds some differences. The churches, for example, tended to oppose National Socialism. This is not a result of Protestantism's influence, or of the uniquely National Socialist elements of German fascism, though this is sometimes proposed. The Church in Italy was none to accommodating of Mussolini, and despite the lies about Pope Pius XII common today, the Church was not aligned with the state in either nation.

On the other hand, the Church -- at least the Church in Spain -- was considered to be a supporter of Franco. Even though, as time went on, Catholicism in Spain came to be aligned with anti-Francoist forces -- especially in Euzkadi -- in the days of the revolution the Church tended to the side of the Francoists. Is the position of the churches irrelevant, a mere historical detail, or does the Spanish situation teach us something?

Spain was not as industrial as Germany and Italy. In Spain, the landholders were aligned with the Francoists, while they played much less part in Germany and Italy. In short, the situation in Spain was a wide-based reactionary movement, not an essentially petit-bourgeois movement. In Spain, the revolution was defeated by what would become called fascist, not subsumed, as in Italy and Germany. The Spanish regime would more properly be called Traditionalist, not Fascist. (Interestingly, history seems to indicate that as nations become more entrenched in fascist or quasi-fascist regimes, the churches increase in their opposition to them. In Italy and Germany, where the movements were essentially capitalist to begin with, the Church opposed them through their whole lifespans.)

In more recent times, regimes across Latin American and in Turkey have been called fascist. Leaving aside some, which may have been more purely fascist (such as some movements in Turkey, and some regimes in South America), the general tendency has become to call all police states in the regions fascist. This has been either the result or a cause of the careless use of the word "fascist" in contemporary discourse. Many of these regimes were brutal and oppressive, but, as mentioned above, the hearts of the people -- at least those in the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois -- have to be with the governments to qualify a nation as fascist. In many or most of these regimes only the rulers -- as often as not the military -- supported the rulers.

Thus far, I have discussed classical fascism, the fascism with which we are familiar from history. This fascism has concentrated on the union of capital with the nation state, the dominant form of government in recent history. For this reason, we may rename this form "national fascism," as we briefly take a look at another form of fascism.

This tendency within capitalism, to form into fascism, is a pattern, not a mere aggregation of facts. This pattern may be lifted to a higher level. Analysis of the economic state of the world today shows that capital is reaching a global level, and so are workers. No longer competing only against people in the next factory or the next town, workers today compete against workers and working conditions across the globe. The negative effects on the American economy are well-documented, if not well-reported. Alongside this tendency for capital and labor to globalize -- and by no means coincidentally -- government is globalizing. The nation state has even now begun to be superseded by multinational -- and eventually international -- governing bodies.

Just as, within the state, the interests of capital are served by unifying political and economic power, beyond the state these interests still hold. A global corporation can benefit at least as much by the manipulation of a global regulator as a national company can by the manipulation of a national regulator. And so we can expect to see, if global government continues without capitalism being superseded, a new, global form of fascism.

This is not the same as imperialism. Lenin's insight into the analysis of imperialism was very profound, but the claim it would be the highest -- which implies last -- stage of capitalism showed again the ever-present optimism that has made Marxist thinkers so charming. In brief, imperialism is the stage wherein the dominant nations -- in a way, the bourgeoisie of nations -- colonized and exploited the less developed nations.

At first blush, this appears to be a valid description of the world today. The United States and Europe, the so called global North, seem to still be engaging in a neocolonial relationship with the global South, the third world and former second world. This is a misunderstanding based again on the transitional nature of the world we live in. Today, the people of the first world are "colonized," just as are the people of the second and third worlds. The belief that imperialism would be the height of capitalism stemmed from the belief the nation state would be superseded along with or after capitalism. Today, we live in a world of hyper-imperialism; we are in transition to a world of globalist fascism.

Imperialism is by no means dead, though it is breathing it's last. For example, in the case of Kosovo, the Clinton government is not quite acting in union with the international organizations to crush the national sovereignty of Serbia. It remains the imperialist oppression of one nation-state by another. This kind of bullying oppression is outdated, and indeed may be helping usher in the brave new world of up-to-date, globalist bullying oppression.

This serves to highlight, too, how a stooge like Clinton can continue to wield such apparent power. The national government of the United States still retains a great deal of power, even while it is being subsumed as a department in WorldCo, Ltd. While the United States government has undoubtedly gone to serve the interests of the ruling class not only in preference to the people, but even against the people, it still retains enough independence to cause problems for the global fascists. And so, tools of more or less malignant factions are put into positions of power, such as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

With the help of this analysis, we can now see why the governments of Latin America and Turkey are, in a sense, fascist, even if their nations are not as far along the capitalist development as the first world. In a way, the so-called national bourgeoisie of these global South nations fulfill the role of global petit-bourgeois, in affinities if not in fact. In the terms of individuals, it probably is in the interest of Latin American generals to align themselves with the global bourgeoisie. The lifetime of a single tyrant is unlikely to extend to the point the world enters into a Marxist paradise, and so it is even less likely that a Latin American general will be converted than the scion of a bourgeois family.

This also explains why, here in the United States, we will (temporarily) escape some of the more vicious aspects of the global fascist regime. For the moment, serving as the global petit-bourgeois, we continue to be coddled by the ruling class. Until they feel they can afford to dispossess us, or until they feel they have no choice.

This time will come, inevitably. And it is unlikely to be a long time coming.

Thus far, we have only thought about how fascism comes to be, how the individuals lead to fascism. I will now take a couple of moments to look the other way, at how living in a fascist system effects the people. Much has been written about this subject already, so my remarks will be brief.

In its thoughts and its prejudices, the fascist system is inherently other-oriented. I don't mean altruistic; I mean the fascist is obsessed with overcoming others, and so has no time to develop the self. This is a result of intermingling with capital, which, in order to survive, must be constantly preoccupied with getting more. More profit, more consumers, more market share. In another article I have discussed the distorting effect this constant state of fear and selfishness has on the citizens of a capitalist nation. The nation itself, however, changes as well.

By being constantly fixated on the other, as I alluded to above, the state loses the ability to develop itself. Expansionist nations, whether fascist, imperialist, or simply empire building, eventually reach the state of imperial overreach. Constantly going out and subjecting other peoples distracts the nation from developing itself, just as constantly trying to climb the corporate ladder prevents the person from having the time or the inclination to build the self, to create. It is not just the misery that comes with realizing how pointless is a capitalist life that prevents capitalists from contemplating and building themselves; they simply lose the opportunity.

And this is another element that distinguishes a fascist state from a quasi-fascist police state. In a healthy society, the people constantly question and think as much as possible. This is a result of being fulfilled as a human, and is a goal toward which states would be better put. In capitalist, and especially fascist, states, this questioning subsumes along with individual development. Education contracts to the bare minimum needed for employment; the arts atrophy; and people simply stop questioning ruling ideologies. Just as the people have to think about getting enough wealth to survive, so the state as a whole has to think about consuming enough to survive. In an imperialist nation, that comes from consuming other nations; in a fascist one, it comes by consuming its own citizens, and they have to do so willingly.

And so, quite apart from any moral or humanist arguments, there is a pragmatic and aesthetic reason for opposing the fascism toward which we are headed. It is, quite literally, soul-destroying. If it continues, the ability to develop, to create, and to truly live will continue to be crushed.

But now that not just a definition, but an actual analysis and understanding have been presented, we can begin to understand what fascism is, what fascism means, and how to defeat it.


[=- FiCTiON -=]


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by Holly Day

The boys at the plant have already noticed the change in me. They say she's good for me, whoever she is, and I agree with them, one hundred per cent. I spend the day thinking about her hair, her skin, screaming at the clock to hurry up, hurry up, I have to get home and back to my girl.

Closing time comes and I'm gone, on the road in my car down that wonderful stretch of highway that's made all the difference in my life. It was on a night like this that I first met Ann, first saw her standing by the side of the road with her arm outstretched, thumb cocked up, long copper hair animated by the hot summer wind.

I almost didn't stop. I'm still not sure why I did. She got into my car and folded her long legs beneath her on the seat like some wild animal prepared to spring up and run at any minute. She smelled like rainwater beside me in the car, like flowers and springtime and things I had long stopped paying attention to. She told me she was coming back from her boyfriend's house, that he was too tired to give her a ride home, and that her mother wanted her home before seven every night. She gave me directions to her house and settled back a bit, apparently convinced I was okay.

I decided to play a little trick on her, teach her a lesson about hitchhiking. Pretty girls shouldn't hitchhike, shouldn't talk to strangers. I don't think what I did was wrong. I intentionally drove past the turn-off to her mother's house and instead kept heading down the highway towards my house. I glanced over to see if she'd even noticed, but she was too busy messing with her hair and her makeup to see what I had done.

It wasn't until we pulled into the cul-de-sac where I live that she even said anything. "Hey, wait a minute," she said. "Where the hell are we?" She tried to open her side of the car, but I snapped the electric locks shut on all the doors. That freaked her out a bit, but we were inside my garage and the garage door was closed behind us before she was fully aware what was going on. "What are you doing?" she yelled. She swung her fist at me; I caught it easily in my hand and pinned it behind her back.

I was on automatic pilot at this point. I knew somehow I was going just a wee bit too far with the joke, but I really didn't know what else to do. I did know that if I let her go, I'd be in serious trouble with the police for kidnapping or assault or something like that. Somehow, I managed to get her inside the house and down into the basement, where I locked her in the laundry room so no one outside could hear her hollering. She's such a little thing, it really was no big deal, but I still felt winded when I finally got the door shut.

I went upstairs and fixed myself a beer. "You've really done it this time, Ed," I said to myself. "Now what're you gonna do?" Since the first beer didn't offer any inspiration, I had a second, and a third, and ended up passing out on the couch.

I barely made it to work the next day, got up just in time to run out the door in the same clothes I'd slept in. I didn't even remember the girl until around lunchtime, wondered if it had all been some alcohol-induced dream. The rest of the work day dragged, what with me worrying about the girl in my house, whether she'd gotten loose and called the police on me, or if she had killed herself and I'd have a dead body to explain or hide.

When I got home, I went straight to the laundry room. I prepared myself for an attack of sorts, I was sure she'd be angry as hell, but when I opened the door I found her sitting in the far corner, her face streaked from crying all night. "I have to use the bathroom," she said, quietly.

She didn't move to get up.

"I bet you're hungry, too," I said, feeling suddenly very guilty. She looked so innocent, so vulnerable. I just wanted to sit next to her and hold her for an hour or so and tell her I wasn't some freak who was going to hurt her. I just wanted to talk to her for a year or so. "I'll be back in a minute."

I shut the door and locked it quietly. Immediately afterwards, I heard her jump up and try the door from her side. I went upstairs and fixed her a sandwich, wracking my brain to figure out what I should do next. My basement's pretty soundproof, and I figured she could scream to her heart's desire down there and no one would hear her, provided I kept all the windows and doors closed. There's a bathroom in the basement as well, so she would never even have to come upstairs for anything. I guess that was about the point where I'd decided to just keep her and not worry about returning her to her family or taking her back to the boyfriend who didn't care enough about her to give her a ride home at night.

I got myself a length of chain out of the utility closet and a couple little padlocks and went back downstairs. The girl was huddled in the corner of the laundry room again -- her eyes grew as huge as dinner plates when she saw the chain in my hand. I put my finger to my lips and lunged for her before she could move. "I'm not going to hurt you," I said as calmly as I could with her thrashing about beneath me. "If you stay still, I won't hurt you." I finally sat on top of her and got the chain around one of her ankles two or three times tightly. I snapped the lock on and got up. She lay on the ground, panting, staring at me with a world of hate in her eyes. "We're going to the bathroom, and then you are going to eat," I said to her, staring straight into those eyes. "Get up."

I led her to the bathroom and turned my back as she did her business. I guess she could have tried to kill me then, but she didn't. Afterwards, I chained her to the pool table with enough length on the chain for her to get to the bathroom when she needed to and lie down on the beat-up sofa when she wanted to sleep. I moved my television downstairs so she'd have something to keep her occupied during the daytime, and I brought her a pile of books to read when t.v. got too stupid for her to watch.

It's a weird beginning to a relationship, but it works for me. Every day I go to work and dream about the angel in my basement, and every evening I come home and we talk about things she's read, the news, whatever soap opera she'd hooked on at the time. She shows me some of the poetry she's written, too, mostly stuff about missing her boyfriend and being held prisoner, but I guess that's understandable. She's warming up to me -- I look forward to the day when I can take her chains off and let her have the run of the house without worrying about her trying to escape. It won't be for a long time, I know, but I can still dream.

I never realized how lonely I was until she came into my life. My garden has flowers in it again, the first flowers to bloom since Mama died. The whole world smells like hyacinths and jasmine and morning glories to me, and I owe it all to her, to the anticipation, her realization of love.

And she will realize it. She will learn to love me. As I love her.


"If we humans were as foolhardy or daring as butterflies, moths, and other winged insects, and threw ourselves, all together, into the flames, then who knows, perhaps the blaze would be so fierce and the light so strong that God would open His eyes and be roused from His torpor, too late, of course, to recognize us, but in time to see the impending void after we went up in smoke."

--Jose Saramago, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ


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by Bixenta Moonchild

--You have come, I said, my words spit into the air with a gruesome awkwardness, my uncertainty of purpose frozen inside my shivering will, my only certainty being of how my repulsive weakness clouds the bright eyes of them. They can laugh when they look away, and they do.

"We shall get a rise out of her yet!" their radiance screams, attempting to devour my wretched dreams. My thoughts are now pulled into the territory where they inevitably fall victim to nearly the whole of reality that is united against the putrid position that is mine.

--To rise alone? is the plea that escapes my quarantined character. They rejoice together in the ecstasy of the division between their evidently perfect eternal dominance and this fresh new excrement from my rotten being within the center of them all. I think they must love me because they need my inexhaustible repugnance to fuel their continuous glory. But there is no love; there is only the forever balanced opposition of forces, seeing that nothing else but my own hideousness is enough to repel a whole world of beauty.

"Bless our souls, she is trying to speak!" they cackle, knowing that they are always blessed, and smiling at the contrast. I writhe in humiliation; acceptance, the companion of peace, would never come near me and could not live within the walls of my constantly tortured consciousness. Peace does not exist. And companionship is against the meaning of my existence.

--The soul that reaches... is the reply I begin to spew forth, although I am uselessly fighting its release.

Communication is forcefully dragged out of me by the powers which are intent upon perpetuating this endless game and its endlessly enduring outcome. They never tire of it, and salvation from this madness is barely even an idea in my mind of awareness that exposes me to this terror.

"Shall we take her into another round?" they question. I, in my separation, am included among those who know the answer; everyone knows that once a cycle is established an there exists nothing to intervene, this reality will be endless.

--Into this infinity, is what I say to them, and my tremendous embarrassment resulting from my inconsequential babbling strikes me instantly with renewed pain. One formation of negative energy such as I can never develop an immunity to the attacks of transcendental energies.

"She is one that is always losing herself," they giggle with a beauty that I recognize clearly despite my always being here at home in the confines of my grotesque self. My intense shame produces their unbounded glee, and though the two have been in the same place for so long, they have never had the fortune to mix.

--Is one that attains, I continue, offering these words of mine for them to tear apart, making my own ill-fated future possible. I think I must be a part of them because I continue to put forth this effort that I know will end up destroying me, and so I think it cannot be my effort. I think I might see that our wills are conjoined, together always. But there is no will of my own that functions in this world. My will is paralyzed within my nauseating putridity, and my actions are now controlled by the greater will that is the righteous companion of them.

"What a laugh it is that she will never be sanctified," they call to me. I shiver again upon hearing this curse, even though this thought occurs to me every moment that I live.

--The sanctity, I cry, with the same pathetic incoherence that makes them so delighted every time. I cannot help my misery in seeing their delight, as I cannot help but remain trapped where I stand, always facing it and always apart from it.

"Shall no one ever come to collect this nasty creation? Indeed not, praise and glory be! For pity is far above her!" they sing, their sweet voices celebrating in knowing of my despair. It is a marvel how they participate in my misery without dirtying their hands, just as I have no hand in their resulting happiness. That their beauty is not affected by the dreadful effects of their actions makes them yet more beautiful to me. Upon realizing the absurdity of my envy I am made yet more envious of them for their being on the other side of it.

--Of collective creation, I whimper, the completeness of my idiocy never escaping their attention, their superiority strangling me whenever I speak. I only want to surrender, to have them take me into their perfection. But they would never allow me to taint their purity, and I, being so familiar with their loveliness as if it were mine, would never want to ruin it either. A single victory quickly dies, and they would never let go of the euphoria of fighting me off.

"No, she could not be lost in that disgusting wretch she calls herself, because what an improvement it would be if she were!" they say in harmony, their words excitedly dancing around my cage. Though I know I am so well-confined, I yearn to reach out into their space even as I also know that it can only produce brutal agony within me by its contact with me. My desire is at once restrained and sustained by the old proclamations of reality.

--It is not lost, is the phrase taken from me to help the cycle on its way, although it could have been the exact opposite of this phrase, and no difference would have come of it. Any random expression of my torment is perfect for their purposes.

"What hilarity there is in seeing such enormously loathsome repulsion as hers in a tiny, puny location!" they shriek with good cheer. I am grateful that I know I have always been terrible, deserving of the terror I experience, and I know that I need them to show me just what I am. And I remain grateful for seeing myself clearly although I sense that the value of my truthful perception of my ugliness is debased in the lovely face of the value of their beauty.

--But it transcends location, I reply at their command, so that impatience never slows their graceful rhythms. I wonder if they know how I appreciate this malicious laughter, all through the awful things it does to me. I love them for their state of the highest bliss so much more because I know the lowest state of suffering. If they in their ecstasy truly knew me, it would surely kill what they are, and I, with nothing left to look at but my own rotten self, would surely be taken by an even greater suffering, if greater suffering than my present be possible. Then I should be a life that wishes not to live, but, as I am now, I am only a life that wishes not to live as myself, as I now see that there exists something else, and although I can never be it, I can now at least see it.

"Nothing can separate her from her darkness," they say to me, and I listen, unable to imagine their great resplendence because I am occupied as a witness to the perpetuation of my despair which is made by their resplendence.

--In separation there, they take those of my thoughts which belong to them and leave those which pertain to them. They transform my misery into their beauty. If only I could be seen as indirectly beautiful. But there is no beauty in me; it exists only in the wonderful transformation and belongs only to them.

"Time and time again she falls into the depths!" is their joyous chant. I try to see their happiness only as it is now; I cannot bear to look where it comes from. I cannot bear to look at myself.

--Becomes a new time, I answer them as I must. I never know the meaning of any phrase of mine sacrificed to this vicious exchange of words. I only know that this equal exchange, which is driven by the patterns established in the past, shall always create equal and opposite outcomes, and I shall always get mine.

"You will be the same sludge as you always are," they reassure me. My ridicule serves its purpose easily, as the path is well-beaten. The set-up is ingenious; above the path they have planted a glimmer of freedom for me to see. It catalyzes the fresh production of the torture within me as I fall at the time I once again realize it is only a glimmer placed there to taunt me, from the time I first notice it again and try to gauge its distance.

--You will, is the next pulled from me, and I hardly feel it leave. I felt a flicker, just for a moment, of something beyond my familiar situation, but it outs itself and I dismiss it. For there is nothing that could be of any use to me that is away from this game of the sanity and the insanity in a harsh embrace, as this game has no use but to preserve itself. Thus is the nature of my world and their world; I do not say `our' to myself. I can only say it to them for their amusement at its absurdity.

"She has become so many failures, and they all suit her best!" they howl, and it seems that their laughter is increasing, but I know it couldn't be. The balance does not change, the polarity between us never tilts, nor is there any room for an increase. The constancy is set at full blast.

--Become many, I yield as usual, but the words are now slower from my mouth. There is no real change, as always; it is just a new trick from them, I know, but it works, and I am petrified with fright, which is also not any change from the usual. But I think I feel a new factor in my fright, yet I know my thinking is only there to let me comprehend my pain.

"We do not even care to throw a light upon her!" they exclaim, and this is funny to them because I have always existed in darkness. My attention is diverted to somewhere I have not cared to explore, and now I think there is something hiding amidst the outer reaches of my consciousness. I know they aren't watching; they couldn't bear to see, either.

--And we do not hide, I am prompted to say, but I strangely grasp some meaning from my forced speech. They chuckle in great fun at the use of the word `we', as they always do, but my helplessness in uttering it doesn't come back to sting me because I am looking at something else.

"Her imperfections couldn't be cured in the land of God!" they are glad to announce, displaying their pride. I feel a shock that has its source not in them, but in my own mind, and I begin to wonder if they are giving me something that they do not suspect. I begin to use my mind for something other than the viewing of the mindless world around me.

--Imperfections in the land, I am now saying the words for me and not for them, and I am desperately reaching in a new direction, away from their territory, for an understanding of something new to me. They do not notice, for they do not look in the part of my mind where understandings are held, for they would not want to be blinded by the understanding of my agony.

"She can only succeed in progressing downwards to brand new levels of squalor!" they cheer to themselves and laugh at me. I am unable to hear each of their jabs at me which would normally infuse me with anguish; I am slightly taken away from them and into another place, perhaps within myself, where there is now something else. I think that there is another exchange occurring besides the one in normally observable actions.

--That seeks progression, I now listen to myself. It seems that they laugh harder, they talk faster, and they sound farther away, but I am uncertain.

"We will certainly give her something to cry about!" they declare triumphantly. I am no longer struggling to endure their oppression, I am struggling to find something, and I can almost hear it.

--You are given, I respond automatically, complying with their needs while straying from the path and realizing that I could possibly need something for myself. But it seems so noisy, and I can't hear the sounds I am drawn to.

"There will be no sadness that we don't design!" they applaud themselves in rapture. Their voices are becoming distant. I am falling into another one of their tricks, but it cannot be, because the pain is subsiding, I think, and they would not let this be. The pain exists, as it always has, and I believe for a moment that it is I who am fading from existence.

--All that there will be, I am still functioning within this unbreakable cycle, as I should have known, but I can't stay apart from the useful ideas breaking into my head, and I am now functioning in my own pursuit.

"How simple it is to train our little subject of disgust," they continue, heavier on their side, while mine is slowly lightening. I do not know which one is moving on, and my fear has not left my side. If it is them, they do not let me know. I have thought that if they go away, I would have no identity apart from them but a lonely shadow of my former darkness. I question, if I go away, would there be no one who would perpetuate this hateful cycle that I know myself as part of.

--And free from subjection, I call out, startled at a new strength in my voice. I remember, beauty is not a slave to its origin, nor am I, and it can be created in purpose. I am scared that they will hear, but I do not try to return.

"The transformation of wretchedness to wretchedness anew simply works wonders for her," they jeer mercilessly, not knowing that I do not need any more mercy. Their tone shows that they are oblivious to the difference, but their words are hurried and the pace has been accelerated.

--There is the transformation of truth, I say, and now I have no doubt that this is truly happening, but I hesitate to take hold of the assertion that I am making it happen. I alone, for a change, am proving to be a marvel to myself. My observations lead me to creations in my own consciousness, and, reunited with them, I realize that it was I who led them into being. I feel my understanding expanding, and I see the cycle is speeding up and flying apart under my orchestration.

"Look at her paths!" they try to laugh, but they are getting too quiet. The desperate disturbed dreams of what it would be like to be them finally destroy themselves with no farewell from me, as I begin to dream of what it will be like to be what I myself can create.

--It brings the paths of sight, I answer them with dignity, and I no longer need to watch them continue, as I have regenerated my focus to boldly explore the answers that I have lovingly given to myself.

"Our infinite objects of destruction are still strong," they declare to themselves, but the sound that reaches me is smaller, and it wavers on its longer journey to me where I easily and indifferently detect that their expressions carry less gaiety and more emptiness.

--To the infinite objects of our love, are the new words of mine whose meaning is surfacing and bringing along with them the meaning of all the past ones which were buried under the attacks to which I had agreed.

"And it leads back to her same pathetic routine!" they continue to chime. I have discovered that the purpose of the constancy of clockwork is to provide a bounded path to hold us there alive from which we can experience the need and find our reasons and generate the deep desire to recreate reality into such greatness that it becomes too strong for all of its old bindings and is held by none other than its new creator. I do not look, but I know that they are weighing themselves down since that which they had violently clutched to give themselves balance has now refused to be held in a one-sided love.

--And leads us back, I speak to myself generously, knowing that there is more of me. My consciousness is no longer a tool of their hatred. It has discovered its own power and creates a new self, a new life, a new reality.

"The home of our magnificence will still last forever," they shout airily in useless defiance of the movement that shakes their old position and the meaning of these words of theirs which come forth from it. They do not know how to do anything but continue with their cycle of familiarity which is spiraling into oblivion.

--To the home of everything.... It is my statement of assurance radiating in all directions, approaching even those who cannot understand it, for they see in only one direction which is bound to close in on them.

"You are apart," is their accusation which narrowly survives the exit from themselves and barely reaches me from their helplessly shrinking location which is so certainly apart from the merrily expanding new world.

--You are not apart from all, my own words fill the atmosphere that includes all that I was afraid to imagine before, along with the rapidly vanishing remnant of the old reality that I was so afraid to change.

"You are..." they finally call out to me, the end of their words falling into silence. They do not remain in stillness, because their former motion has gone somewhere. I remain in plurality.

--You are here, I say. I do not await an answer from them and none comes. I am awaiting my first becoming as I feel it approach.

And I offer for the first time a phrase that is not a forced answer to some one else, but a force that originated from myself.

--And we have become....

Upon the final note which announces my freedom, all the words I have previously spoken, fragmented by my past tortured life, all return to echo at once. The prayer reveals itself as a self-sufficient creation, and.... And I am speechless.

You have come to rise alone.
The soul that reaches into this infinity is one that attains
the sanctity of collective creation.
It is not lost, but it transcends location.
In separation there becomes a new time.
You will become many
and we do not hide imperfections in the land that seeks
You are given all that there will be.
And free from subjection, there is the transformation of truth.
It brings the paths of sight to the infinite objects of our love
and leads us back to the home of everything.
You are not apart from all
You are here
And we have become.


"We're through being cool."



[Prev | Next]

by D.L. Brown

Sam opened the blinds to the sole window in his studio apartment. With assistance from the streetlamp located outside his window, he could see that it was raining. Not a heavy rain, but a steady one. There was no wind, and the raindrops fell in vertical lines onto the ground outside. Putting his hands into his pockets, Sam stared out the window for a while, thinking about nothing. He just stood there and watched the drops fall. They made small misty patterns on the outside of the glass while his breath fogged up the inside. He'd breathe warm air on the window, then draw little smiley faces with the tip of his nose. Every once in a while, he would look down at the windowsill and deem it filthy, resolving to clean it when he got in the mood. After a while, his nose got too chilly, so he backed away from the window and sat down on his bed.

Sam had set his mail on the floor when he first got home. He picked it up and flipped through it. There wasn't anything there that interested him. Bills, advertisements and pictures of missing kids. He wondered if anyone ever found any of those missing kids. Does someone see these things and realize that the kid had been living upstairs from them for the past three years? They'd been there all along and no one knew that the kid was missing? He set the pile of junk mail back down on the floor.

Sam knew what he needed -- whiskey. He checked his pockets for money, but he didn't find anything. Going over to his desk, Sam opened the top drawer to see if he had any emergency cash stashed away there. No dice. He looked over to the corner of his apartment at the huge glass jug of quarters he kept around just in case he ever needed subway fare. Did he really want to dip into that fund? He debated it in his head for a couple minutes and decided that a small bottle wouldn't be too much strain on the money in the jug. He went over and picked the jug up, tilting its mouth downwards and shaking it so the contents would pour out slowly onto his hand. As Sam got the first few quarters out of the jug, he lost his grip. The jug went crashing down onto the floor and shattered, sending quarters and shards of glass out everywhere in a blob. Sam cursed to himself as he jumped away from the mess. He then walked over to the closet and dug out the vacuum cleaner, setting it down by the mess before kneeling down to pick up all the quarters. Sifting through the pile very carefully so as not to cut his hands or fingers on any tiny pieces of glass, he transferred all the quarters to the top his bed by the handful. It took a total of eight handfuls to get all the money off the floor before he could plug in the vacuum and suck up all the glass. When Sam finished, he unplugged the cleaner and carried it back over to the closet. As he was doing so, he noticed a trickle of blood creeping down his right leg. He must not have felt a piece of glass gouge him in the knee when he was scooping up quarters. Sam put the vacuum back in the closet and closed the closet door.

He located his old shaving kit and dug around in it, knowing he had some bandages in there. He found one, opened it up and covered the cut. He didn't even bother cleaning it or wiping off the excess blood that had run down to his ankle. Going back over to the bed, Sam placed his hands on his hips and stared down at the heap of coins there. He sat down beside the pile and counted out ten dollars worth of money. Taking a deep breath, he scooped up all the cash he had counted and stuffed it into his pants pocket. Continuing to look at the pile of money, Sam got up off the bed. What was he supposed to do with the leftovers? He didn't have another jug to put it all in. Shrugging his shoulders, he walked away from it and out the room. He'd figure it out later. Right now, the plan was to get some whiskey.

He shut his apartment door but left it unlocked as he made his way down the narrow hallway that went all the way from the back end of the building to the front. The hall floor was made of hard tile and his shoes clicked loudly as he walked to the front of the building. When he got to the door, he stopped for a moment and watched the rain come down in their straight lines before turning his shirt collar up and pushing the door open with his shoulder. The rain was warm as it soaked into his clothes. This would certainly clean off the blood that had congealed on his leg. Taking long, deliberate steps, Sam walked downhill to the corner of the street where the liquor store was. Thank heaven for all-night liquor stores. Going in, he went straight for the whiskey aisle. He knew right where it was, since he had done this so many times before. Sam took a bottle off the shelf and checked the price to make sure he could afford it. He smiled, for he had enough money with him. Sam carried the bottle up to the checkout register where the cashier placed it into a brown paper bag while Sam emptied out his pocket. The cashier gave Sam a look of minor disbelief when he saw how Sam was going to pay for the bottle, but the cashier didn't say anything; he just rang it up and counted each quarter until there was enough. Sam didn't even bother with getting any change; it was only a miniscule thirteen cents.

Walking back uphill, the rain picked up a bit and the wind started to whip around. Sam took jogging steps all the way back to his studio. Upon returning to the confines of his apartment, Sam shook off the paper bag from underneath the bottle of whiskey and held it up in the air, examining it like it was fine wine. Sam sat down on the floor behind his coffee table, which still had his shot glass on it from the last time he bought a bottle of whiskey. He opened the bottle with haste and eagerly poured himself a drink. Counting to three, Sam grabbed the glass and downed its contents in one fluid motion. He quickly repeated that process. Sam looked over at his window and frowned -- the blinds were still open. He got up and shut them to their original position. Then he had another craving: cigarettes. Again, he checked his desk, but didn't find any there. He must have smoked that entire pack. He had more, though -- there was still half a carton left on the top shelf in his closet.

Sam reopened the closet door, took the carton down and opened it. He saw that one of the packs had already been opened. He hadn't smoked an entire pack last night; he had put the pack back in the carton instead of in his desk. Sam took the opened pack out and returned the carton to the shelf. Pulling a cigarette out, Sam frowned again as he noticed a pair of bills that had been folded and stuffed between the cellophane and the box. He took the bills out to count them. There was a fifty and a five. The fifty was a crisp one of the new design. He had gone through the trouble of breaking open the glass jug for nothing. Still, he had fifty-five extra dollars now. He picked up the phone to give someone a ring and say he had some extra money to party with but couldn't think of anyone to call, so he returned the phone to its cradle. He tossed the money on top of the pile of quarters that still sat in a heap on his bed. There would be time to think of ways to spend it later. Sam retook his place on the floor and quickly poured himself another shot, downing it just as fast before lighting the cigarette with a pack of matches he found on the floor. The matches said "Umbarger's." He remembered that place -- a strip club. He'd only been there once, when he was vacationing in Los Angeles, but the place was out of this world. He couldn't help but laugh out loud between drags on his cigarette while thinking about all the crazy things that went on at Umbarger's. Lap dances there were only ten bucks, and it only took fifty to take a girl upstairs for a private show. That's what he could do with the fifty-dollar bill he found in the pack of smokes -- take a road trip out to L.A. and... no, too damn far away. Still, he could dream about it. Sam wondered if Misty was still there. Misty was something else, that's for sure. Gave Sam an orgasm without touching him once. Just by giving him instructions -- "Pull up your shirt... unbutton your jeans" -- and breathing hot air on his bare skin.

Crushing out the final chapter of his cigarette in his tin ashtray, Sam poured himself another drink. He could really pack this stuff down. There wasn't really much of a difference between sober and drunk anymore, anyway. Getting up off the floor, he went over and sat down on the far end of his bed, away from the pile of money, on top of his pillow. As he glanced down at his digital clock, he noticed the time was eleven fifty-nine. He resolved to watch the clock until it switched to twelve. He hunkered down and glared at the red numbers. This was going to be the beginning of a brand new day. The thought of that raced through his head and ricocheted from one side to the other so hard that it hurt. His brain caught on fire as his eyes dried out. His nose twitched and tingled until he could contain it no longer -- in an exaggerated swoop, he jerked forward and let out a loud sneeze. He could feel it reverberate through his bones as he bounced on the mattress. In a panic, he struggled to focus on the clock again, but it was too late. The red numbers now made fun of him as they read twelve-even, never to go back, never to show Sam what he missed.

Genuinely pissed, Sam gave himself comeuppance by punching himself in the leg. Another drink and another smoke was all he needed to make himself feel better. Slowly walking over to the coffee table, Sam gently fell to his knees and poured himself another shot. He drank it while plucking another cigarette out of his pack. Lighting the cigarette, he got back up and picked up the lone, framed photograph on his desk. It was a picture of him with the love of his life, Tina. There they were, arm in arm, at the little bed and breakfast they stayed at when they visited Arizona. Sam was wearing his favorite tie in that photograph -- a green and blue one, diagonally striped. Tina hated that tie. Tina hated all of Sam's ties. She'd call them gaudy and brash, and Sam always retorted that they were just an accurate reflection of his personality. Setting the picture back on the desk, Sam sighed. Things just haven't been the same since Tina left. He missed her a lot. He told his friends that he was over her, but deep down inside, his heart was still broken. Thankfully, she didn't take all his stuff or screw him over in some other way. It was just one day, Sam came home, and she was gone. Nothing left but a note. Sam didn't have the note anymore; he actually ate it when he was drunk one time.

Feeling a bit depressed from thinking about Tina, Sam sat down on the floor again. At least, his original plan was merely to sit. As his butt made contact with the carpet, his body gave way and he ended up lying belly up on the floor. Arching his head back to look at the coffee table, Sam made eye contact with the whiskey bottle and its quickly evanescing contents. He reached behind himself and brought the bottle down to floor level with his right hand. His left hand felt around for the shot glass but instead found the ashtray. Sam accidentally knocked it off the table, spilling ashes and snuffed out butts onto the floor. He stared at the dusty mess and resolved to get the vacuum back out, but he just didn't have the energy to get back up at this time. He'd get to it later; right now, he wanted more whiskey. Figuring that searching for the shot glass now wouldn't be worth the effort, he placed the bottle to his lips and tried to finish off the bottle. He got a couple of swallows down his throat before gagging and spitting up the rest. The liquid burned his mouth as it trickled down onto his shirt from his chin and both sides of his face. Sam returned the bottle to the table, trying to stand it upright but settling on leaving it on its side. He needed to get up and get a towel to wipe the mess off his face.

Struggling to stand, he staggered around a bit before coming in contact with one of the walls. Sam spread his arms out against the wall to keep himself propped up. Guiding himself into the bathroom, he placed his hands on the edge of the sink and relaxed for a while. Then the lights went out. Maybe it was a power outage. Or perhaps a blown fuse. It didn't make any difference to Sam. He cursed again as he turned the cold water on. The sound of the gushing water gave him a headache so he ran his hands under the stream, swiftly splashing it against his face before turning the faucet off. The streetlamp outside still illuminated his place in a spooky kind of way. Sam looked at himself in the mirror. The shadows shrouded the entire right side of his face. He saw himself as an ominous image. The light really created a mood. Sam felt like a real badass now. He thumped himself on the chest a few times and turned to go back over to the window. Before he made it there, he lost his balance and fell flat on his face. It hurt, but not too bad. He could lay here for a while. He could stay and rest a bit, then get up and look out the window later. Maybe when the lights came back on. Calmly, Sam closed his eyes and passed out.


"I know of no more disagreeable situation than to be left feeling generally angry without anybody in particular to be angry at."

--Frank Moore Colby


[Prev | Footer]

by Kilgore Trout

He screams in silence, mouth held open by foreign hands which stroke the underside of his tongue. Hands are all over him: groping, piercing, pinching, caressing. His eyes are blinded by the white-blue light emanating from the inside of his brain, and everywhere he tries to look, he is certain he is melting the walls. He perceives reality through the touches of others -- a passive, blind observer.

"Testing... testing... one, two, three."

His feet are painfully curled up like in an ongoing orgasm, but he feels no pleasure. The taste of stomach bile juice rests uncomfortably on the edges of his molars, and the hair follicles on his arms and legs are slowly contracting inward. The air stinks of medicine and open sores.

"Working now? Did you patch sixteen to twenty-two?"

The white-blue light intensifies, and blood oozes from the corners of his eyes. High-pitched feedback assails his ears, and the hands quicken their pace. The hands in his mouth withdraw and are replaced by metal bars. He cannot make any noise as bolts are driven through his cheeks.

"Signal coming through? Good. Alright, Mr. Brierly, let me tell you about the final death of God."

Everything stops.

* * * * *

"It's happening again," Johnny says.

"The dreams?" Jen asks.

"The dreams."

"The same ones?"


A car smashes through the front window of the diner, shattering glass everywhere, and comes to a stop about five feet from where Johnny and Jen are sitting. The driver is dead, a bullet hole in his right temple.

"Hey, you okay?" she asks.

"Huh?" Johnny blurts out.

"You looked out of it there for a minute."

"Sorry. I was just thinking."

Jen sips Coke through her straw. "They're just dreams," she says. "A bunch of wacky associations strung together inside your sleeping head. They don't mean anything."

"But there's this feel to it," Johnny replies. "It's almost tangible, almost real. I experience tactile sensations: pain, pleasure, fear. And then there are these devices, these horrible contraptions that operate on their own twisted mechanics."

"And you have no idea where they come from?"

"Not a clue. One of my friends calls things like that 'artificial dream artifacts.' He says he gets them all the time in his dreams, like wooden pulley systems that assemble high-tech robotics or escalators to the moon made completely out of dinosaur bones. In his dreams, though, they're benign."

Jen stares outside and catches her reflection in the window.

"What I don't understand," Johnny continues, "is the repetitive nature of the dream. Shouldn't it be impossible to have the same dream over and over again?"

"Maybe it's just a similar dream, and you think it's an exact carbon copy," she says.

"No. Impossible. I've had it too many times, and the dream is so godawful long. No way is it ever different. I'd be damn happy if it changed slightly."

"The voice over the radio? The paralysis? The experiments? The woman?"

"Every time."

The driver sits up in his seat and digs into the hole in his head with two fingers, extracting the slug. One eye is closed, covered in blood. He tosses the bullet to Johnny, who catches it in his left hand. The bullet is in pristine condition, and, on the back, there is a single word etched in: Lilith.

"Why are you staring at your hand?" Jen asks.

Johnny's hand is empty.

"I think I need to call it a night," Johnny says.

"Well, I hope you sleep okay tonight."

"It's not sleeping that's the problem. It's waking up and remembering."

* * * * *

"Now, the first thing you have to do is ask yourself a question. When you dream in dreams, do you dream of reality?"

It always begins in the same way. He is standing on the boardwalk at night. There is no moon, and the air is chilly, but the sweater he brought remains in the car. He can hear the waves gently lapping up on the beach, and every now and then a lone car with one headlight passes in the distance. Then she shows up, dressed simply in a green tank top and white pants. She consumes him with grey eyes, and when she opens her mouth, endless streams of monarch butterflies pour out.

"You've had it with the repetition: the hands, the beach, her. It isn't always the same, though. You aren't that static. What do you think you're dreaming, anyway?"

At this point, one of three things happens. Sometimes the butterflies cocoon themselves in midair, falling to the ground and covering the boardwalk. Sometimes she grows a proboscis and implants it in his neck. Sometimes the butterflies turn on her and envelop her completely.

"What would you do if something really changed? Not just a simple variance, but a total paradigm shift? Could you trust your dreams anymore?"

Once, none of these things occurred. He takes her hand, and they walk out onto the beach. They take their shoes off and wade into the surf, sifting the wet sand between their toes. The half-moon frees itself from behind the clouds, and a light appears in the distance across the sea. She tells him that is where she is from, the floating ship. She tells him that he should go there, and they walk out onto water.

"Would you be ready to take on such an opportunity if it arose? Maybe you'd rather jump to safety instead, content with a life played out in minor variations."

Halfway there, he starts to get tired, so she suggests that he rest. He lies down, floating on his back, and falls asleep. He dreams of himself asleep in his bed, and she is perched in the open window, watching him with her grey eyes and wearing a half-smile.

"The choice defines both you and your reality. Do you make the choice, or do you allow God to choose for you? Tell me, Mr. Brierly. Are you capable, and maybe more importantly, is God more capable than you?"

* * * * *

Johnny wakes up, his bedroom smelling of something like medicine. The curtains around the open window are fluttering in the breeze, and the windowsill is covered in scratch marks.

"Goddamn cats," he says as he gets up and shuts the window.

The telephone rings while he is drying himself off after his shower, and Johnny runs naked into the kitchen to answer it.

"Hello?" he asks.

"It's Jen," she says. "Sleep okay last night?"

"I slept like a baby last night." The earpiece of the phone starts to melt around his ear. "I'm not sure if that's good or bad, though."

"Of course it's good. That's, what, the first dreamless night you've had in four weeks?"

Johnny pulls the phone away from his head and looks at the earpiece. It is solid.

"You still there?" Jen asks.

"Yeah," he replies.

"So we should celebrate or something. Got any hot dates you'll need to cancel tonight?"

"Very funny. The only thing I need to do is get fitted for a suit. My sister's wedding is in two weeks, so I'm cutting it pretty close."

"Do they know if it's a boy or a girl?"

"I think she went in for a sonogram last Wednesday, but I haven't heard anything yet. Heather's been having lots of complications because she's so small. The last time I spoke with my mother, she was worried that Heather wouldn't be able to carry the baby to term."

"That bad, huh?" Jen asks.

"That bad," he says. "She can't even leave my parent's house except to go to the doctor. My mother says she's bleeding a lot, too."

"That's awful."

"Well, she shouldn't have let that army guy knock her up. I'm supposed to be the fallen child, the one who did all the drugs and stopped going to church and hanging out with my heathen friends. She's the good little girl of God who gave her older brother a lecture on the evils of premarital sex and even signed one of those abstinence pledge cards at some church camp."

"Sometimes people get caught up in the heat of the moment," Jen says. "I mean, what about that one chick you picked up at the Atomic Cafe? What was her name?"

Johnny pauses. "I don't remember," he says.

"See? You aren't perfect, and you can't expect her to be, either."

"But she didn't even use protection. I may have been drunk, but at least I used condoms."

"Well, that was pretty dumb."

"I guess this makes me the good kid again."

"Hardly," Jen laughs. "Give me a call when you're finished with your suit stuff."

* * * * *

"So now you're wondering what all of this has to do with the final death of God. First, we'll have to do a little study in the scriptures. You're up for that, right? It'll be just like Sunday School, sort of."

A small white light appears in the corner, illuminating a small table with a book on top of it. The hands lift him up and carry him over to the table, standing him next to it. The book is open to the first chapter of Genesis.

"Look at verse 27."

He leans forward and reads:

  1. 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

"Now flip over to chapter two and read verses 18 and 22."

The book's pages flip automagically to the desired selections:

  1. 18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.
  2. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

"We have a little textual problem here. You've just read bits of the two creation accounts in Genesis, and there are two different methods of woman's creation. In the first, she is created at the same time as Adam, but in the second, she is made from Adam's rib. Is this an error in the Bible or something that needs to be delved into in order to understand?"

Steel poles with hollowed ends shoot out from the walls on either side of him and attach themselves to the bolts in his cheeks. Sparks singe his hair and eyebrows as the poles weld to the bolts. The poles start to turn, and he finds himself suspended upside down, supported only by his face.

"Of course, since we are preternatural and not backward Fundamentalists, we don't have to be restricted by sola scriptura. Dated between the 8th and 10th centuries CE, the 'Alphabet of Ben Sirah' describes the legend of Lilith. She was the first wife of Adam, created out of the same dust and clay that he was. When Adam wanted to have sex, though, Lilith protested, saying that she would not be on the bottom. Adam admonished her, telling her that he was superior and she was only fit to be on the bottom. Lilith saw herself equal to Adam since they were both made from the same substances, so she shouted the Ineffable Name of God and flew away."

A flat-screen monitor rises up out of the table and rotates itself to his orientation. A sequence of 216 red Hebrew letters flashes on the screen, one at a time. Their speed increases, getting faster and faster until the letters blur together. He thinks he sees them forming a hand.

"Naturally, Adam was quite upset with the loss of his mate, so God sends three angels to retrieve her. God tells Adam that if she doesn't want to come back, she will have to kill a hundred of her offspring every day. When the angels reached her, she did not want to return, and they threatened to drown her in the Red Sea. Lilith told them of God's curse upon her because of her flight, and the angels left her alone."

He clearly sees a hand forming in the blurred letters, and it extends out from the screen and clamps itself around his neck. The flesh on his neck begins to sear, and the steel poles push inward, shoving the bolts through his cheeks, which fall out of his mouth. His cheeks are slowly ripping.

"Lilith has been blamed for the pains of childbirth and has been accused of being a baby stealer and the inflictor of disease upon children. Some say she was the mother of Cain, the first murderer. She also plays a role as a succubus, fornicating with men during the night and impregnating herself on their nocturnal emissions to continue her demon offspring."

The steel poles rotate again, returning him to an upright stance, and he grabs onto the bars to support himself. A thick, musky liquid pours into his mouth from the poles, and it cools his throat as the draught goes down. The light above the table goes out, and everything is once again in darkness.

"Is Lilith real? What isn't? At worst, she is a metaphor, which is as real as what you are currently experiencing, Mr. Brierly. Lilith represents rebellion even if it means damnation. Her conscious divorce from the will of God kills him for her, and she is no longer a creation but an abomination of God. Her existence is defined by her actions, but her identity is her own. So, Mr. Brierly, the question remains. Do you, as a child of God, continue to suckle, or do you murder your father?"

* * * * *

"But the most important thing is that you feel comfortable in whatever garment you choose," the salesman says as Johnny looks at himself in the mirror. "Now, the suit you've got on is a wool suit, but it's got some Lycra in it. 96 or 98 percent wool, I'm not sure which, but you can tell by how soft it is. That's a good suit for traveling, by the way since the Lycra keeps it from wrinkling too much."

"It's for a wedding," Johnny says. "My sister's. I'm bringing the shotgun."

The salesman laughs. "Well, it looks good on you."

The suit is grey and has a subtle pattern that is just enough to prevent it from being bland. Johnny buttons the top button of the jacket and does a little twirl on the tips of his tennis shoes.

"You like that one better than the other two, don't you?" the salesman asks.

"Yeah, I do," Johnny affirms. "I didn't think a suit could feel this good."

"It's a nice suit. It'll work at the wedding, and it'll be just as good for job interviews, parties, and funerals. It screams multipurpose."

Johnny's reflection smiles at him as the mirror begins to fill with water. Johnny can see his reflection trying to hold its breath, the face going blue and blood vessels in the cheeks ready to burst. He turns to the salesman.

"I'll take it," he says.

"Wonderful," the salesman says, smiling. "If you want, we can go ahead and have it marked off. It fits pretty well in the shoulders and doesn't need to be tapered... just a little turned up in the sleeves and some hemming will do."

* * * * *

They are running across the water now, and he sees the ship, somehow floating with numerous holes in its hull. The light he saw from the shore is a raging bonfire on the deck, emitting white-blue light and producing copious amounts of thick, maroon smoke. The waves tug at his feet, and he notices for the first time that she has wings on her back.

"The Jewish rabbis who wrote about Lilith were attempting to reconcile the disparities in the creation accounts and did not portray her in a favorable light. Some, however, see her as a hero because she chose to defy God even though she couldn't win. Look at the Romantics in England in the late 18th and early 18th century. Who was Blake's hero in Paradise Lost? Satan, for much the same reasons."

The moon slides back beneath the clouds, leaving them bathed in the white-blue light from the fire. He loses his footing and falls face-first into the water, the thick, musky liquid entering his lungs. She reaches beneath the surface and pulls him up.

"Just like Satan, Lilith is a symbol for free will. Not only does she embody the absolution of woman's subjugation to man, but she is the archetype of freeing oneself from complete bondage."

Her shirt rips apart as her wings unfold, and, with her arms wrapped tightly around his chest, bare breasts pressing into his back, they fly into the air. Her grey wings beat slowly and gracefully as they make their way through the air. As they get closer, he hears screams coming from the ship. The name of the ship has faded away, and only a 'P' and an 'A' are still visible.

"The curse upon Lilith also involves immortality. Lilith cannot die. She remains free and is alive forever. There can be no reunion with God. is this a bad thing? Only time will be able to answer."

She gently sets him down on the deck of the ship, and the stench of charred flesh hits him. Tiny, deformed men with open sores are shoveling crying babies into the fire, one at a time. One man stands near a blackboard, marking a stroke for each baby consumed. He feels his innards stirring, and he drops to the ground, dry heaving. When he looks up, she is unbuttoning her pants.

* * * * *

Jen downs the shot, and her whole body vibrates for a couple of seconds.

"Yum, the tequila shake," she says, wiping her mouth. "Gotta love it."

"I don't see how you can drink that stuff straight," Johnny says, nursing a Shiner. "You are a much stronger woman than I."

"So you picked out a suit?" Jen asks. She motions to the bartender for two more shots.

"Yeah, I got a really nice one," he says. "I spent way too much money. I should have gone to one of those bargain places, but once you've touched the good stuff, there's no turning back. When I called my mother today, she said my dad never owned a suit that cost that much."

"You won't be able to be your shabby self anymore."

"Not if I can help it. Oh, they found out it's going to be a boy."

"Have they picked out any names yet?"

"Not that I know of. I think they should call it Justice."

"Justice? That's dumb."

"Well, if my sister loses the baby, she can say it was a miscarriage of justice."

Jen frowns. "You are so evil," she says.

"No, I'm not," Johnny grins. "I'm the good child now, remember?"

She pushes one of the shots toward Johnny.

"I'm not drinking that," he says, shaking his head.

"Yes, you are," Jen says. "Be a woman."

"Not even some salt?"


Johnny picks up the shot, looks at Jen, and brings it to his lips. He downs the alcohol, tilting his head back as far as it will go. The shake comes on, and he grips the shot glass tightly while his body is inundated with spasms. His eyes roll back in his head, and he feels liquid beginning to fill his lungs. The shot glass breaks in his hand, embedding shards of glass in his palm.

"Well?" Jen asks.

"I hate hard liquor," he answers and sets the full shot glass back on the bar.

* * * * *

The bars slide out of his cheeks, and he falls onto a blanket of hands. The red hand around his neck withers up and crumbles into dust. He coughs up the liquid which forms a glaze running down his chin and neck onto his chest. The hands turn him on his stomach and rub the glaze all over his body until he is glistening.

"It is not a question of choosing to live but choosing to die. Do you prefer the illusion of free will, or would you rather really be free? Lilith made her choice at the beginning of time. What will you do? When the moment of crisis arrives, will you become free, or will you back away?"

He continues to cough up liquid, and the hands keep spreading it all over him until it is about an inch thick. A panel in the closest wall opens, revealing a blazing fire. The hands move him toward the furnace, and his feet start to burn.

"Are you the potter's son?"

* * * * *

Jen sits down next to Johnny in the pew.

"Sorry I'm late," she whispers. "Damn traffic."

"We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of one man and one woman in holy matrimony," the pastor begins. "Marriage is a sacred institution, and we are always proud to see those who are in love honor both themselves and our Lord."

As the ceremony progresses, Johnny notices blood seeping out beneath the bridal dress' trail. It is barely red, almost black, and it flows down the steps, first in trickles, and then it gushes. A large pool forms at the base of the steps and bubbles in loud pops, letting off steam. Johnny sits transfixed, watching the blood boil.

"Do you, Gregory, take Heather to be your wife," the pastor asks, "in times of sickness and health, for better or for worse, until death do you part?"

"I do," he says.

The edges of one side of the dress, drenched in blood, push inward and outward like someone underneath a sheet trying to get out. The movement of the dress' edge sends ripples down the stream of blood into the pool. A tiny hand reaches out from beneath the dress and lifts it up. The fetus stares at Johnny with its grey eyes.

"Do you, Heather, take Gregory to be your husband," the pastor asks, "in times of sickness and health, for better or for worse, until death do you part?"

"I do," she says.

The fetus crawls out from under the dress on feeble arms and legs, kicking its tangled foot free from the still-attached umbilical cord. It sniffs in the air for a moment and slithers down toward the pool of blood. On the last step, the umbilical cord goes taut, and the fetus turns and pulls until the cord comes loose with a numbing, ripping sound. The fetus puts its hands in the blood, leans forward, and drinks.

"I now pronounce you husband and wife," the pastor says. "You may kiss the bride."

Gregory takes Heather into his arms and kisses her. The fetus looks up and blows Johnny a kiss. Johnny breaks down, sobbing. His mother, sitting next to him, pats him on the back and hands him a Kleenex.

"It's okay, dear," she says. "At least it wasn't the rodeo guy who rode bulls every weekend."

Jen reaches over and touches him lightly on the forearm. "I never thought I'd see you cry at a wedding," she comments.

The organist begins playing, and the newlyweds descend the steps with beaming smiles. Johnny turns to Jen, closes his eyes, and hugs her.

"It's not them," he says. "It's not them."

* * * * *

He rolls over on the deck onto his side and looks up at her. She slides the white pants down over her hairy legs and kicks the pants aside with a cloven hoof. Her grey eyes look his body up and down as they wildly dilate. In the corner of his vision, he sees a baby thrown into the fire with a shovel. The chalk screeches as it makes another mark.

Her hand, with perfectly manicured nails, extends down toward him. He pushes himself away from her with his feet until his back is against the railing. He pulls himself up, leans over the railing, and throws up again. Hands caress his back, and he turns, seeing her behind him. She puts her arms around his neck and hugs him, an erect nipple digging into his sternum.

He unfastens her hands from his neck and steps away. He looks over the railing and spots a small lifeboat in the water. She motions him to come over to her with a finger. He climbs up on the railing, looking down at the lifeboat and wondering exactly how far down it is.

Glancing over his shoulder, he sees her stretching her arms toward him, holding a small child. He looks back down at the water, then turns back at her. The child has grey eyes and struggles in her grasp. She smiles at him, and he stares down at the rowboat.

She touches him on the forearm and tugs his arm slightly. The smell from the fire hits him again, and he doubles over, almost losing his balance. He steadies himself again, unsure of jumping or staying. The moon is still lost behind the clouds.


State  of  unBeing  is  copyrighted (c) 1999 by Kilgore  Trout  and Apocalypse
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