Category Archives: Excerpts

A collection of literary excerpts from the mind of Robert Anton Wilson

Introduction to Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words

Introduction to Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words, 1972

“Zounds, I was never so bethump’d by words. . .”   – SHAKESPEARE, King John

Modern American English is a language with numerous levels, like a skyscraper. The bottom floors are words like table, chair, door and window, known to everybody; the upper stories are words like synergyand cantharis and Hilbert space and transub­stantiation – esoterics which you can easily look up in an ordinary dictionary. But there is a basement, rented out to various shady and suspicious characters whokeep screaming hysterically or muttering suggestively in a language which is most definitely not to be found in standard dictionaries. Some of this underground vocabulary, such as luck and cuntis known to everybody, despite society’s official rejection, but other terms, such as muff-diver and beard-splitter and vacuum cleaner, are known only in certain parts of the country and are totally obscure to even the best-educated foreigners. And even those subterranean words that all of us recognize ate still mysterious; if we wonder about their history or antecedents, or whether they are related to certain similar-looking “respectable” words, or how and why they have been purged from polite speech and school dictionaries, or any of a dozen similar questions, we find it hard to discover the answers. The books which areSupposed to contain such information usually are, in this area, strangely silent-superstitiously silent.

This book attempts to answer such questions; in a leisurely and detailed manner and without a lot of academic technicalities. It is written for the general reader. The definitions are alphabetically arranged, and there are many cross-references.

What has happened among the youth in this country in the past decade-the first wave of “the Greening of America,” pot and LSD, women’s liberation and many other wild and unforeseen events-has badly shaken the old sex-is-dirty philosophy, replac­ing it with the view that sex is beautiful. Significantly, a book on explicit sexual terms can now be written, published and accepted, without the elaborate circumlocutions and euphemisms which the Kronhausens had to use in their book, Pornography and the Law, in 1959. That book was a work of social science that, in a sense, was written in code. From the vantage point of 1972, this is aston­ishing. Writing about the effect of the word luck on the human mind, these two scientists could not use the word luck. It was as if an engineer had to publish his analysis of our kilowatt capacity without ever mentioning volts, amperes or ohms.

Those days are gone, hopefully forever, but many people still wish that a book such as this one could not be published; and if it cannot be suppressed in the nation as a whole, they will try to ban it in their own communities. I have a certain sympathy for these people. A cynical old joke says that “a dirty mind is a joy forever,” but actually it is quite dreary; such as an excessively puritanical, sexually repressed mind is capable literally of driving a man crazy.

The new freedom, however, did not arrive in a decade and it did not arrive without suffering and conflict. James Joyce, for in­stance, endured decades of poverty because his masterpiece, Ulysses, could not be copyrighted in the United States due to a detail in the censorship laws of that period. Pirated editions sold widely, but the pirates received the profits; Joyce got not one penny from 1917 until the book was declared innocent of obscenity in 1934. D.H. Lawrence became depressive and somewhat paranoid, according to his friends, due to the censorship problems of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and some of hispaintings, and this may have hastened his premature death. And Frank Harris not only had his books alternately banned and bowdlerized, but was castigated as a monster and degenerate, for frankly acknowledging behavior which Kinsey much later was to describe as statistically normal. (Even earlier, Anthony Comstock, champion of censorship in the latter 19th Century, used to boast quite happily about the number of publishers he had driven to suicide.)

Henry Miller, a much tougher individual than Joyce or Lawrence, doesn’t seem to have suffered as much, but it remains a scandal that this pioneer, certainly one of the five or ten major Novelists of our century, could not have his works published in his own country until he was quite an old man. And Lenny Bruce, s0cial satirist of the night-club beat, seemed even tougher than Miller at first, but after nine obscenity convictions, and prison terms running into decades, he was reduced to pauperage and died of a heroin overdose that might have been suicide. Ironically, all his convictions have been overthrown by higher courts and, legally, he is now adjudged totally innocent of the “crime” of “obscenity.” Nevertheless, he died.

The list of important contemporary writers who have had cen­sorship problems in one part of this country or another reads like an honor roll of the great and near-great: John Steinbeck, James T. Farrell, ErskineCaldwell, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, John O’Hara, J. D. Salinger-and virtually everybody who has ever received a Nobel or Pulitzer prize. The folly reached some sort of climax in 1934 when reproductions of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes were banned from the U. S. mails. These frescoes, be it noted, had looked down for 500 years on the coronations of popes!

The principal input in the human communication matrix is Words, and every word beyond simple ejaculations such as oh wow or ouch was originally a poetic metaphor. Even to be goes back to an Indo-European root meaning to be lost in the woods. To have means to take hold of with the hand, and to want signifies to be vacant or empty. These “buried poems” in every word we speak are chains of command as well as of communications. In the technical language of semantics, we are governed as much by the connotations (emotional overtones) of words as we are by their denotations (the objects to which they refer). To quote an old example, we would rather eat “a tender, juicy piece of prime steak” than “a hunk of dead, castrated bull.”

“What is hardest of all?” Goethe once asked, and replied, “That which seems easiest of all: to see with your eyes that which is before your eyes.” Unfortunately, we do not see what is before our eyes; we see what we are programmed to see, and in human beings the chief programming device is language. We see what our lan­guage teaches us to see. In short, “dirty minds” are created by “dirty words.”

One of the greatest symbols in the history of mankind is the Greek centaur. We are all psychological centaurs-half animal (according to our own definition of animality) and half human (again, according to our own glamorous and self-serving definition of humanity). We are so at odds with the animal half of ourselves that we even try to ignore or hide the simple fact that we reproduce in the same manner as other mammals. Confronted with sex, all of us are inclined to feel something of that sense of un pleas­ant self-revelation that occurs when, looking through the bars of the monkey cage, we recognize ourselves on the other side. The attempt to evade the problem entirely by ruling sex out of our lives, however, is foredoomed to failure. One is reminded of the old Hindu story about the man who was promised a million rupees if he could avoid thinking of a rhinoceros for a whole day. Naturally, once the offer was made, he could think of nothing but rhinos-big rhinos, little rhinos, rhinos alone and rhinos in twos and threes, rhinos dancing and rhinos running, rhinos flying, even rhinos in impossible acrobatic positions.

The same thing happens to the antisexual prude, on a grander scale, because sex is more intrinsic to our mental processes than rhinoceri are. Such sex-haters think about sex more than the rest of us-big sex, little sex, sex alone and sex in twos and threes, sex dancing and sex running, sex flying, even sex in impossible acrobatic positions.

If anything stands out about Anglo-American attitudes toward native sexual terms, it is that our laws and customs were created by people who seem to have been seriously worried that the word luck could make their teen-age daughters pregnant, and that other words could turn whole populations into rapists, “sex maniacs” and depleted, hopelessly drooling, erotic imbeciles only fit for the ferbleminded ward of the state hospital.

Every society has its forbidden words, but they are usually connected with death or the deities. The taboos surrounding them are, within the belief system of the tribe, rational. Thus, the an­cient Jews and Romans could not speak the names of certain gods aloud, but this was motivated by courtesy and awe; it was felt that the gods did not like to be pestered except on important business. It was also feared that enemies, learning a god’s name, could compel him to obey them. Similarly, according to Frazer’s Golden Bough, Australian bushmen refuse to speak the names of the dead, and this makes sense if you happen to believe, as these people do, that the ghosts might overhear and be angry. However, Anglo-American culture since Cromwell’s Puritan Revolution is unique in banning its entire native vocabulary of sexual terms, even refus­ing to list these words in dictionaries, as if to pretend that they do not exist. Thus an entire sexual vocabulary of ambiguous slang, cant, argot and Latinate euphemisms presently exists, officially unrecognized. (Of course, these words were originally omitted from the first dictionaries because they were too well known; early lexicographers only included rare or obscure words. But as diction­aries took on their modern form of complete references, these Words continued to be banned, and luck, for instance did not appear until the American Heritage Dictionary of 1969.)

That some psychological interpretation of this logophobia (fear of words) is necessary appears undeniable. It is 300 years since Bacon and Galileo, 100 years since Darwin. Men have walked on the moon; nobody (well, almost nobody) believes anymore that sticking a pin in a voodoo doll will kill a man. Why then do so many appear to believe that words and pictures pose some occult threat to society? Why are men still jailed for the “crime” of publishing over 200 years after the Peter Zenger case allegedly established freedom of the press on this continent? Why does the Supreme Court (except for that rare heretic, the late Justice Hugo Black) persist in believing, or claiming to believe, that the First Amendment does not mean what it says-namely, that no laws shall be established abridging freedom of speech or of the press?

Ralph Ginzburg entered Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary early in 1972, handcuffed to a bank robber and sentenced to a three-year term for the manner in which he promoted and advertised a magazine, Eros.Outcries against this are based mostly on reitera­tions of the simple and undeniable fact that Ginzburg, due to a series of legal mischances, went to jail for printing material far less controversial than much that had been published without prosecu­tion in the ten years between his original trial and the time he went to prison. This certainly is worth emphasizing as an example of the irrationality of contemporary censorship, but it is even more worthwhile to ask why the devil a man was imprisoned at all for publishing erotica.

It has been asked, “If fuck is obscene, then is duck 75 percent obscene? Should it be printed as d—? The reader may feel superior to those who are even temporarily puzzled and disturbed by such a question, but what happens when the same kind of semantic (actually, symbolic) issue is moved to the visual arena? A photog­rapher who exhibited 50 photos of flowers would certainly not be considered obscene; yet flowers are, as any high-school graduate knows after Botany WI, the genitalia of plants. Suppose the pho­tographer held a show in which he exhibited 50 photographs of the genitalia of animals? Those who did not call him obscene would at least suggest that he was mentally unbalanced or had a very peculiar sense of humor. Only a passing acid-head might stop and say, “Wow, out of sight-beautiful, man!”

The case for censorship rests on two propositions: first, that sex is dangerous, and second, that even a symbolic representation of sex is dangerous. The censors, both public and private, believe that sex is dirty and threatening. Is that not paranoid?

It is time now-with the censors on the run-for all of us to come out of the shadows of shame and look at our language in the clear light of day.

For the reader’s convenience, all words used in definitions of other words, but which are themselves defined elsewhere, are set in small caps. They may be found in their own alphabetical sequence.

The Anatomy of Schlock

The Anatomy of Schlock

by A Nonymous Hack

from The Realist, No. 62, September 1965
reprinted in The Best of The Realist

For three months, I have worked as an editor in the coun­try’s leading schlock factory. My boss assured me that our schlock reached 30,000,000 Americans every month, and that, brethren, is a lion’s share of the schlock market.

Let me define my terms. Schlock is the next level down, below kitsch. Kitsch is naive, maudlin, hokey, unsophisticated. Commercial folklore, so to speak. Its flavor is bland, and, like American food, it is processed to be without any strong flavor, good or bad. Kitsch is “I Found God When My Doctor Told Me I Had Cancer,” “Jackie Kennedy Tells Why She Will Not Re- Marry,” “Should Wives Enjoy Sex? ”

Schlock, on the other hand, is brutal, lumpen-prole, aggres­sive, hairy; like carnival hot-dogs, so spicy you might vomit if you’re over-sensitive. Schlock is “He Beat His Grandmother to Death With Her Crutch,” “Love-Starved Arab Peasant Wom­en Raped Me Twenty Times,” “The Disease That Liz Caught from Dick.”

I got into the schlock market when I answered a New York Times ad for an editor for a slick men’s magazine. I passed the interview with flying colors and was hired. Then it was ex­plained to me that, in addition to the slick men’s magazine, I would also be editing three pulp men’s magazines.

The three pulps were, of course, pure schlock. They sported titles like (these are actual examples) “The Corpse Lovers,” “Inside Those Queer Bars,” “How to Find Your Favorite Vice,” “The Big Snatch,” “My Mommy Was A Hustler,” “Girls Who Suck You Dry.” Of course, the more raunchy of these titles did not live up to the expectations they aroused: schlock is not hard-core pornography but soft-core. “The Big Snatch” was about kidnapping and “Girls Who Suck You Dry” was about girls who take all your money and leave you.

Well, I have a family to support (as Adolph Eichmann may have said when his job was first explained to him); I sat down and began writing schlock. I produced such gems as “Wild Sex Freaks of History,” “A Prostitute Reveals Her Naked Soul,” “If You Think You Have V.D.,” “Can Lack of Sex Cause Cancer?” and “How Cowards Dodge the Draft.”

In between these epics, my magazines were crowded with cheesecake layouts, and I found that writing the captions to these was more fun, even, than writing the articles. As on all such magazines, the cheesecake came out of a file-the models had signed away everything, including (I think) their children’s life insurance, on a release form that couldn’t be broken by Clarence Darrow himself – and I invented whatever I wanted to say about them.

In creative and ironic raptures one day (and a bit dismayed , by the hard, whore-like expressions on the broads the art de­partment had handed me), I picked up the heaviest cruiser in the lot – a mauler who looked like she was 38 years old and had been a whore for 20 of those years in the $10-a-throw Sands Street section of Brooklyn – and wrote that she was a Sunday School teacher from Indiana.

The others I gave the usual fictional backgrounds, making them” girl scientists,” “typists,” “airline hostesses,” and so forth. Once in a while I would make one a “Greenwich Village hipster” and have her say something like “I dig the peyote scene” or “William Burroughs is my favorite writer,” but I was careful not to pull that one too often.

Meanwhile, another department of the schlock factory also published a tabloid newspaper – the kind that features head­lines like “Iron Lung Patient Rapes Two Nurses.” The editor was understaffed. (This didn’t prevent the publisher from con­tinually suggesting that he fire somebody – the publisher wor­ried that every department was overstaffed.)

Just for the hell of it, and because I was getting to enjoy schlock in a perverse sort of way, I took on writing the ESP col­umn in this newspaper. I read the predictions that had ap­peared over the past several months and began grinding out my own predictions, out of the blue. It was surprisingly easy. Among other things, I predicted that Lyndon Johnson would be assassinated, that anti-American riots would occur in another Latin American nation, that the $15,000,000 pornog­raphy collection on the closed shelves of a large public library would be robbed by a mob led by a defrocked priest “well known in occult circles,” that flying saucers would be in the news again, that shocking discoveries would be made at Stone­henge throwing new light on ancient Egypt and revealing how man came to be on earth (ESP bugs, I reasoned, are generally also the types who believe that man was deposited here by fly­ing saucers and that Egypt is full of occult mysteries}, that peanut butter would be found to contain radioactive isotopes, and that a Hollywood star would be involved in a sex-and-LSD orgy.

In a short while, I began getting letters from fans. Many of them congratulated me on the number of my predictions that came true, although actually none of them ever came true. Ap­parently, these people possess a very convenient kind of mem­ory. (When Kennedy was shot, many astrology magazines ad­mitted they hadn’t predicted it, but I recently heard from an as­trology buff that all the leading astrology magazines had pre­dicted it!)

As an experiment, I tried the most outlandish prediction I could imagine in my ESP column. I predicted that a new island would rise in the Pacific Ocean, covered with strange non­-Euclidean buildings bearing inhuman hieroglyphics. I had lifted this from “The Call of Cthulhu,” by H. P. Lovecraft. The ESP fans ate it up. They are always expecting things like that to happen anyway.

I was becoming a schlock meister, a veritable uber­schlockmeister. I started dreaming up titles for tabloid stories. All the stories in the tabloid, you see, were fictitious. (Inciden­tally, the best inspirations are never used. They are too far out. Such as: “Kicked Out of Ku Klux Klan for Negro Blood – He Becomes Muslim Leader.”)

The staff would have a bull session each Monday morning and work out 15 or 20 ideas for the next issue. “Say, how about this,” somebody would cry. “Mad Hunchback Sells Hunch to Butcher/Woman Poisoned by Hunchburger?”

“Nah,” the editor would say, “Too far out in left field.”

“How about, ‘Vice Squad Cop Catches V.D. From Prosti­tute He Arrested’? ”

“Great, ” the editor would reply, “We’ll use that one. ”

And so another “news” story would be born. I often reflected that we represented the next stage in journalism, after The New York Times. The Times merely alters and selects facts to fit a particular political line. We invented our facts on the spot, a much more creative process.  If it is the destiny of man to “transcend mere reason and empiricism,” and to “achieve a rebirth of myth and magic,” as many modern philosophers think, I can safely claim that we schlockscribes in our grubby offices were doing more to further that end than the Times.

I soon discovered that my predecessor on the men’s pulps had applied the same formula: “Woman Gives Birth to Pup­pies” appeared in the tabloid; “Women Who Have Given Birth to Animals” had appeared several issues back in one of the men’s pulps. A girl who regularly had intercourse with a dog­ – a spectacle she performed for money in a Mexican whore­house – had “worn down her immunity” to dog sperm and thus became impregnated. The pulp archly stated that the story had appeared “in several Mexican newspapers” but that “some doc­tors” claim it is impossible. The tabloid picked it up without any reservations. Folklore students of the future will have to wade through tons of this schlock in stalking down the origins of various contemporary folktales.

The schlock-sex field is much tougher than schlock-crime or schlock-ESP. “This is kind of tame,” the publisher, or schlock­fuehrer, would say occasionally. Since he fired one person every week without fail (and thus kept us all in that half-mad kind of frenzy necessary to the production of true schlock), this remark would spread terror throughout the factory. We would outdo ourselves with “Teen-Age Sex Club Seduces Parents” or “Wolf-Men Who Drink Blood for Lust.” Then, the schlockfuehrer would come around again, looking worried. “Take out ‘cunni­lingus,’ ” he would say (referring to a factual story, for once, about a crusader for sexual freedom), “you gotta be careful in this business. ”

My predecessor, I discovered while going through back is­sues, had named one model “Senora Maria Theresa Fellatia” and said she was waiting for an appointment “with her phy­sician, Dr. Cunnilingua.” Somehow, this one went through. It is altogether possible that the publisher didn’t know either of those words at the time.

The biggest panic occurred when some pubic hair was dis­covered in one of my pulps, in an issue done by my predecessor but on which I had corrected the blues (last stage before publication). The printer discovered the small dark tangle and called the publisher, saying we could all go to jail. The publisher came thundering into my office, gibbering: “Pubic hair! You let pubic hair go by! Goddamn it, pubic hair! We can all go to jail! ”

The printer, fortunately, was able to correct the plate. After that, I scrutinized each crotch with the kind of care I usually give only to living girls. Anybody who passed my office and saw me studying a vulva through a magnifying glass would have thought, “What a horny bastard! He’s really in the right job.”

In spite of the one-firing-every-week policy, I enjoyed myself in the schlock factory. Most of us laughed a great deal, es­pecially after each firing (we knew then we were safe for another week). Schlock is fun to write. The best, of course, is the stuff you have to reject for publication, but which everybody in the office enjoys. “Jayne Mansfield Revealed To Be Male Has-Been Who Had Sex-Change Operation,” was one the publisher dreamed up himself, and for two hours nobody could talk him out of it. His lawyer finally made him see reason, which is too bad. It would have been the tabloid’s best-selling issue. . . until Jayne sued them out of existence.

Another one the whole office loved was “The Four-Letter I Word That Sue Lyons Calls Burton,” which was based on a gossip column item that Sue Lyons called Burton “Bull,” but: the readers wouldn’t find that out until after they bought the magazine and read the story. My all-time favorite, cooked up by a girl who worked on the movie mags, was: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer Catches Leprosy/Audience Splattered by Flying Or­gans.” Alas, the editor of the tabloid thought that was too much even for his audience.

The movie magazines were, like all good schlock, basically dishonest. The stories were more-or-less true but were given the schlock-treatment by our staff. An item would be lifted out of Hedda Hopper or Louella Parsons and then jazzed up with a suggestive or blood-curdling title and developed into a whole story. Everything in the story, except the key fact, would be fabrication. As long as none of the stars were made to look criminal or foolish, we never had any complaints from the stu­dios’ legal departments.

Intrigued by a cover-line on one of our “true confessions” mags – “Stripped Naked in the Subway/Nobody Would Help Me” – I found that no incident remotely like it occurred any­where in the story. The little 60-year-old lady who ground out three of these mags, writing most of them herself, had carried journalism even further than our tabloids.

At this point, the publisher gave me another magazine to do – a detective mag. He also gave me, at last, one assistant to help with the three schlock mags. The assistant proved to be a talentedschlockscribe and quickly was grinding out “Sixty Streets of Sin” and “He Asked Me To Sleep With His Wife” at a sizzling rate. I let him take over two out of the three schlock mags, and concentrated on one schlock mag, my slick, and the detective mag.

My career in the schlock factory was brought to a close when I began preparing my first issue of the “slick.” It was an imita­tion of Playboy, with lots more cheesecake. Looking over Play­boy and its other imitators, I decided that the key to success in this field was, in a word, balls. I set out to create the boldest, most sophisticated, raciest men’s magazine ever. The editor-be­fore-the-editor-before-me was fired for making it “too in­tellectual.” I was careful to avoid that error.

The publisher said he didn’t want schlock in this one maga­zine – “It’s our class publication,” he used to repeat – but he was such a pure, dedicated schlockmaestro that everything he touched turned to schlock. Looking over past issues, I dis­covered that the only non-schlock one that had been put out by the editor fired for being “too intellectual.” “Not schlock and not egghead,” was my guiding principle. I revamped my table of contents several times, making it more schlocky each time. I kept two non-schlock articles, a factual piece about Cuba, and an interview with a prominent novelist, and tried to make the rest of the pieces come out as both schlock and non-schlock simultaneously. This I did by giving them schlock titles but sophisticated insides, or, in one case, a sophisticated title with schlock insides.

It didn’t work.

One week the tabloid editor was fired on Monday, his suc­cessor was fired on Wednesday, and the publisher called me in­to his office on Thursday. “I don’t want you printing writers who are writing The Great American Novel,” he began. He told me my whole issue was too intellectual and that several stories were being dropped from it. He ended the interview on a paternal note: “I got a reputation for doing a lot of firing, ” he said, “but I’m trying to change that. I’m not going to fire any­body without two week’s notice, from now on. As for you, you’re still okay in my book. You just have to learn a little.”

He had made a similar speech to the tabloid editor before fir­ing him. I typed up a job resume that night and brought it into the office half an hour before starting time the next morning. I had run off 20 copies of it on the office photostat machine when the schlockfuehrer called me into his office and fired me.

Until a replacement for me could be found, everything – the slick, the whodunit, and the three pulps – was put in the hands of the little 60-year-old lady who did the confession magazines.

The Passion of Madalyn Murray

“The Passion of Madalyn Murray”
by Robert Anton Wilson

from Ralph Ginzburg’s fact:
 Jan-Feb 1965
Volume 2, Issue 1

Her brother is unemployed, her son has had a mental collapse, and she herself faces a lifetime in jail – but America’s No. 1 atheist is still “riding at a gallop, high in heart”

For 4 years, Baltimore endured an atheist in its midst. Not just any atheist, mind you, but the most famous atheist in America: Madalyn Murray, the woman who filed a lawsuit and got the Supreme Court to kick religious prayers out of the public schools. Ever’ since the lawsuit brought her to their attention, the good people of Baltimore strove to get rid of Madalyn Murray, and in June, 1964, they finally did it. As a result of the methods they used, Madalyn is now in exile in Hawaii, her arm is partly paralyzed, her hair is almost white at 44, her organization -the Freethought Society of America-has been wrested away from her, her brother is un­employed, and her son is under a psychiatrist’s care. The worst victim of all, however, has been the U.S. Constitution, which has emerged from the affair even more battered than the Murray family.

Those people traditionally concerned about civil liberties have not protested much about the Madalyn Murray case, probably be-cause they find it simply incredible. When I visited Hawaii and spoke to Madalyn Murrays present-day lawyer, Hyman Greenstein, he frankly told me that he himself did not completely believe Madalyn’s story when he first agreed to represent her. She was a human being in trouble,” he said. “That was obvious. But I was sure she was exaggerating and dramatizing what had happened. I just didn’t believe these things could happen in the United States. Then I went to Baltimore and investigated the facts. Believe me, Jack Ruby didn’t face worse prejudgment in Dallas than Madalyn Murray has faced in Baltimore.”

In fact, to understand the Madalyn Murray story one must first understand the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, and nothing in America prepares a person for such an understanding, Imagine Spain, in the days of the Inquisition, transferred within our borders. Maryland is named for the Virgin Mary; it was founded by Catholics; it is still predominantly Catholic; 17% of all property in the State be-longs to the Catholic Church, which pays no taxes on it. Maryland is the only state in the Union that demands a religious qualification for judges; the only state that demands a religious qualification for jurors; the only state that de­mands a religious qualification for witnesses. Madalyn Murray literally could not testify in her own behalf in any trial there, nor could any other atheist testify for her. In addition, the legal code has not been substantially revised since 1789, and it perpetuates many old English common-law punishments that have been abolished elsewhere. Particularly crucial to Madalyn Murray, who is under indictment on eight counts of assault against policemen (she charges that the police actually assaulted her), the Maryland laws do not fix a maximum sentence for the crime of assault. The judge can make the prison term as long as he wishes-and Baltimore judges are not noted for their partiality to Madalyn Murray.

If Maryland’s laws are Medieval, its folk culture, with its persistent violence, deserves to be called Fascist. It is part of the South: The stink of hatred permeates the air like smog in Los Angeles and filth in New York. Negro homes have been bombed in the past year. Talk to a cabdriver in Baltimore about the “color” problem and hate sprays from him like odor from a skunk-in 3 minutes he will improvise 90% of the tortures it took de Sade years to dream up, with “Martin Luther Coon as the principal victim and Earl Warren next in line. A celebrated Iynching in Baltimore not so long ago ended with the hanged man’s toes and ears being hacked off by a member of the mob. The ears and toes are probably on somebody’s mantelpiece today, and the owner is probably proud of them. Bet on it. He shows them to guests: “Got these babies fighting Communists.”

*   *   *

In this little pocket of 13th-century life, Madalyn Murray stood up and declared herself an atheist, an anarchist-socialist, and an integrationist. Here she started, and fought to a Supreme Court victory, a suit to end prayers in the public schools. Here she took into her home, and into her Freethought Society of America, Mae Mallory, a bitter Negro militant wanted by the authorities in North Carolina, And here, Madalyn Murray, after winning her school-prayer case, started a lawsuit to force the United States government to tax church prop­erty the same as any other property.

In the March-April 1964 issue of Fact, I wrote the first profile of Madalyn Murray to appear in a major magazine. In it l described some typical reactions to Madalyn’s activities:

Day after day the letters pour in…. “You should be shot!” “Why don’t you go peddle your slop in Russia?” “YOU WICKID ANAMAL” “I will KILL you!”…

The day before Christmas a rock was thrown through the window, causing $67 worth of damage… [The phone calls are] a barrage of insult, obscenitythreat, and psychotic rambling…

…her elder son, Bill, now 17, [has been] beaten up by gangs of Catholic adolescents more than 100 times…, her younger son Garth, who is 9, [is] beginning to have nightmares because of frequent assaults by other. boys.

…Sifting in her office interviewing her I heard a school bus go by. Every child stuck his head out of the window and shouted, “Commie, Commie, Commie!”

My article appeared on the newsstands on April 1, 1964. A few weeks later, Madalyn Murray wrote to me to say that reporters from Timeand Life were coming in squads and battalions to interview her, carrying my article and asking their questions from it. (Both Time and Life later swiped my title, “The Most Hated Woman in America.”) “They’re all trying to find errors in your Fact piece,” Madalyn told me. “They’re sore as hell about Fact’s expose of errors in Time and they want to get even.” They never found any errors, although once they thought they had. A Mr. Michael McManus, of Time’s Washington office, called Madalyn and an­nounced that she had lied to me about her Army career. You weren’t on Eisenhower’s staff,” he crowed, “you never Ieft North Carolina.” Madalyn’s maiden name was Madalyn Mays, and Time had gotten ahold of the WAC record of a different Madalyn Mays.

The Time article appeared on May 15, and Madalyn wrote to tell me that now Esquire and the Saturday Evening Post were doing stories on her. Baltimore, more and more, found itself spotlighted as the nation’s atheism capital, and Baltimore did not like it. Madalyn’s cat was strangled. A series of letters, postmarked Baltimore, became progressively uglier:

“You had better read this carefully! It may be the last one you read. Somebody is going to put a bullet through your fat ass, you scum, you masculine lesbian bitch!”

“You will be killed before too long. Or maybe your pretty little baby boy. The queer looking bastard. You are a bitch and your son is a bastard.”

“Slut! Slut! Slut! Bitch slut from the devil!”

Madalyn files all such letters in a folder which she someday hopes to publish under the title, Letters from Christians. But the growingmurderousness of the correspondence, as na­tional publicity about her increased, began to get under her skin, and she bought Tsar, a large German shepherd, and trained him to attack on command.

Meanwhile, somebody in the Baltimore Post Office began systematically underlining the first three letters in her name, so that all of her mail reached her insultingly addressed, “Madalyn Murray.” MadaIyn complained to the Baltimore Postmaster and was told that an investigation had failed to unearth the culprit, although her mail continued to arrive disfigured. Then, suddenly, all mail stopped. Madalyn complained to the Baltimore Postmaster and to the Postmaster General in Washington, with no immediate results. Then an unidentified Commu­nist called and told her that her mail was being delivered to the Communist Party of Maryland. The C.P. leaders, having a long-standing grudge against MadaIyn (“All Communists have a long-standing grudge against all anarchists,” Madalyn says), had not bothered to notify her that they were receiving her mail. Madalyn again complained to the Postmaster General and soon began to receive her mail anew. Not long after, the “Madalyn Murray” underlinings were resumed.

The good people of Baltimore devised other harassments. The garbage cans at Madalyn’s office were dumped onto the ground every day, before they could be collected. Her son Bill received traffic tickets almost every time he went out driving. Somebody entered the back yard of her home at night, was attacked by Tsar, and rammed a piece of wood down the dog’s throat. Coming into her office one morning, she found two officials of the City zoning board going through her correspondence, and when she tried to have them arrested for tres­passing, no judge would issue a warrant.

Each of Madalyn’s efforts to cope with these harassments brought on further difficulties. To handle the garbage problem, she boned up on Baltimore law and found that a business firm could use its own incinerator if the incinerator was a specific legal size. She bought an incinerator that met the requirements, but the first time she used it several fire trucks rushed to the scene with sirens blaring and extinguished the blaze. When MadaIyn quoted the law to the fire chief, he informed her that in his judgment the incinerator was unsafe.

Madalyn picked the most flagrant of Bill Murray’s traffic indictments and fought it in court. Although two witnesses, one a policeman’s son, testified that Bill had not committed the violation (driving through a red light), the court found him guilty.

*   *   *

Madalyn Murray continued to fight back. Her lawyer at that time, Leonard Kerpelman, found in his Iaw books that a citizen unable to obtain redress from a judge could appeal directly to a grand jury. Madalyn persuaded him to make this Iast attempt to register charges against the zoning-board inspectors who had been caught in her office. A few hours later, Madalyn re­ceived a desperate phone call. Kerpelman was in jail. He had knocked on the office door of the grand jury and was immediately arrested for contempt of court. Rushed before Judge T. Bar-ton Harrington, Kerpelman was quickly con­victed and fined $25. Having only $24.78 in his pockets, Kerpelman was taken to jail. MadaIyn paid his fine and got him out, but he was shaken by the experience and began to show increasing disinclination to represent her further. He also was worried that Madalyn’s enemies might use the contempt conviction to try to have him dis­barred. To head this off, he appealed his case. Strangely, he was represented by William L. Marbury and Marvin Braiterman. Marbury is the attorney for the Roman Catholic Church in Madalyn’s “tax the churches suit, and Braiterman is the attorney for the Episcopal Church in the same suit. They appeared before Judge Michael J. Manley and persuaded him to drop the case against Kerpelman. This was the first, and only, case ever won in the City of Baltimore by anyone associated with Madalyn Murray. Kerpelman subsequently broke with Madalyn and is now publicly working against her.

*   *   *

The next act of the melodrama began, like the Fall of Troy, with a runaway girl. The fair Helen in this case was I7-year-old Susan Abramowitz, who met Bill Murray in high school. Bespectacled, shy, and intellectual, Susan soon became emotionally involved with Madalyn’s elder son. What happened after that is subject to dispute. Susan’s parents, Leonard and Jeanne Abramowitz, charge that the Murrays “induced Susan to abandon her Jewish faith” and to move into the Murray household. Susan claims that her parents beat her cruelly for associating with Bill, broke her glasses, cracked her teeth, and blackened her eyes, and that she sought refuge in the Murray home only after her own parents threw her out of theirs. The Baltimore papers printed all of the charges made by Mr. and Mrs. Abramowitz, but not a single word of the countercharges by Susan and the Murrays. When Madalyn complained, an editor told her that her charges were libelous and that he could be sued for printing them. (Actually, the charges against Mr. and Mrs. Abramowitz are legally protected against libel action, being contained in a brief filed by Susan Abramowitz, William Murray, and Madalyn Murray in the Criminal Court of Baltimore, under Article 26, Sections 91-101 of the Baltimore Code. Among other complaints of cruelty, this document charges, on Susan’s testimony, that her father struck her on one occasion so hard that he fractured a bone in his own hand.)

The Abramowitzes obtained an order from Judge James Cullen on June 2 placing Susan in custody of an aunt and uncle. Susan immediately fled to New York City and took refuge with a friend. Two weeks later, she and Bill re-turned to Maryland and were secretly married. Then they returned to the Murray household on June 20. A neighbor recognized Susan and called the police. “You’d think it was Dillinger they were after,” Madalyn says. “A whole fleet of squad cars came racing to our house.” In their haste, the police forgot to obtain a warrant for Susan’s arrest, so the Murrays refused to open the door. The police tore open a screen door and rushed in.

What happened next is again a matter of dispute. The Murrays charge that they were brutally beaten by the police. According to the police version, Madalyn Murray single-handedly assaulted eight policemen. (The next day, only five policemen claimed to have been assaulted by her, but two days later three additional policemen pressed charges.) Madalyns mother, Leddie Mays, an elderly woman suffering from arthritis, is accused of assaulting still another policeman. Mrs. Mays admits touching a policeman. “He had Bill on the ground and kept clubbing him, so I grabbed his shoulders from behind and yelled at him to stop. `You’re killing the boy!’ I said.” For her crime, 73-year-old Mrs. Mays was promptly knocked unconscious by the club of another guardian of the peace.

When I asked the plump 44-year-old Mad­alyn how in the world she managed to assault eight armed policemen, she grinned. “You didn’t know I was such an Amazon. did you?” More seriously, she said, “I bet every hood in the country will migrate to Baltimore when word gets out that eight of their policemen can be assaulted by one overweight, middle-aged housewife.”

Madalyn was taken to University Hospital for injuries, her mother was taken to Union Memorial Hospital, and Bill was taken to jail, where he claims the police beat him all night long while one of them read the Bible aloud to him. “We’ll make a Christian out of you yet, you cock-sucker,” he quotes one of his tormentors as saying.

The next day the Murrays were released, and they carefully hid a tape-recording that Bill had made of the tussle, in which Sgt. Charles Kelly is clearly heard admitting that the police had no search warrant. The matter of the war-rant apparently began worrying the authorities at this point, for State Attorney W. J. O’Donnell suddenly called a press conference to explain that the police do not need to have a warrant in their possession when entering a house if they have reason to believe a warrant has been issued.

This legal theory appears to be new. I called the Attorney General’s office in Washington to inquire about this and was told, “I never heard of such a doctrine.” When I asked if I could quote this, my informant hastily added that the Attorney General’s office does not officially utter opinions on the law for the press and suggested that I call the American Civil Liberties Union. At the A.C.L.U., Mr. Alan Reitman, a lawyer, stated flatly, “There is no such doctrine in American law. If a search is to be made, the police must have a warrant.” Madalyn’s Hawaiian lawyer, Hyman Greenstein, says bluntly, “O’Donnells doctrine wouldn’t last as long as a snowball in hell in any court outside Mary-land. Even in Maryland, it wouldn’t stand up against anybody but Madalyn Murray.”

Madalyn and her family held.a conference. Considering her 100% record of defeat in all Baltimore courts, they decided that if she re­mained in Baltimore she would undoubtedly be convicted on assault charges. They recalled that the prison sentence for assault, in Maryland, can be as high as the judge chooses to make it. That night the Murrays, with Bill’s new wife, Susan, drove to Washington and took a plane to Hawaii. Baltimore was at last rid of its atheist.

The good people of Baltimore were not satisfied yet. Leo Murphy, a Baltimore artist who had done a drawing for the cover of Madalyn’s magazine, American Atheist, began to receive phone calls from people threatening to kill him or to throw acid in his face and blind him. An Ida D. Collins wrote gleefully to the Baltimore Sun, “Madalyn Murray took the wrong route when she left us this week. Instead of Hawaii, she should have taken a `slow boat to China’ and do us all a favor and stay there.” The insurance company cancelled the insurance on her house and, although the mortgage payments were up-to-date, the bank began court action to foreclose because the house no longer was insured. And in Hawaii, Madalyn watched her son Bill begin to slip into a mental breakdown.

Bill had taken his share of punishment during the previous 4 years with Spartan solidarity. After his night in the Baltimore jail, however, he suddenly broke into screams before Judge Joseph G. Finnerty and shouted, “You Christian, you Catholic, I won’t go back to that cell and be worked over again!” In Hawaii, Bill began to sit for long periods in his room, utterly silent. Occasionally, he would come out of his stupor and attack his mother verbally, saying she had ruined his life by getting him mixed up in the school-prayers case. Then he locked him-self in his room and refused to talk to anyone for nearly a week. He is now under the care of psychiatrist Linus Pauling Jr. He has come out of his silent depression, but retains a violent hatred of his mother, whom he blames for all his troubles.

*   *   *

Back in Baltimore, Madalyn was tried in absentia for contempt of court and sentenced to I year in jail. The Baltimore authorities also got busy and created a new law that fifed a minimum 20-year sentence for each count of assault against a policeman. Madalyn Murray, the Baltimore Sunannounced, now faces at least 160 years’ imprisonment if she ever returns to Baltimore. I asked Madalyn’s lawyer, Hyman Greenstein, about this: “Doesn’t the Constitution prohibit such ex post facto punishments?” “Yes,” he said, “but the Constitution also prohibits trials in absentia, and Baltimore has already done that to her.” He added: “Assault, you know, is a misdemeanor. If they get away with it, she’ll be the first American ever to serve life for eight misdemeanors.”

Meanwhile, a gang of people moved into Madalyn’s business office, announced that they were the “Freethought Society of America,” and tried to use the bank account Madalyn kept under the society’s name. Madalyn’s fight against the coup d’etat has followed the traditional pattern in Baltimore courts: She has lost every single hearing.

Heading the group occupying Madalyn’s office is Lemoin Cree, a 26-year-old biologist who works at Fort Detrick, where the U.S. Army carries on research in the creation of arti­ficial bubonic-plague epidemics and other meth­ods of biological warfare. Mr. Cree and his associates insist they were appointed by the “board of directors” of the Freethought Society. Madalyn Murray insists there is no board of directors of the Freethought Society, and showed me the by-laws to prove it.

Madalyn is convinced that Cree and his group are “Catholic agents.” A friend of mine, who knows the atheist movement the way Clark Kent knows the inside of the phone booth at the Daily Planet, laughed at this. “Madalyn is breaking under the strain,” he said. “The Church has given her such a hard time, she’s be-ginning to see priests everywhere.” According to this informant, Lemoin Cree and his associates are actually atheists, but atheists whose politics are Right-wing and who are embittered by the fact that Madalyn Murray, the only atheist to achieve national publicity, is conspicuously Left-wing.

Since the office contained several hundred dollars worth of furniture belonging, not to the “Freethought Society of America,” but to Madalyn’s mother, Leddie Mays, Madalyn sold this furniture to her friend, Mae Mallory, who thereupon tried to obtain a robbery warrant against the group in the office. A Baltimore judge ruled that the bill of sale was not legal. The bill of sale had been witnessed by a notary public in Hawaii, and the judge declared that, under Maryland law, it had to have been witnessed by a clerk of a Hawaiian court, not by a notary public. Lawyer Joseph Wase, representing Mae Mallory in this matter, insists there is no such Maryland law. According to Miss Mallory, however, the judge involved had said of Madalyn, “That atheist doesn’t have any rights in this State.”

Yes, all this is happening in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States of America, in the Year of Our Lord 1965.

*   *   *

Going from Baltimore to Honolulu must be Iike ascending from the nethermost circle of hell to the pinnacle of paradise. In every way, Hawaii is the antithesis of Baltimore. It is the most cosmopolitan of American states, and the most tolerant. Racial harmony is so good that even the year-long parade of tourists-with its high percentage of Legionnaires, werewolves, warlocks, Storm Troopers, monsters, and miscellaneous Ugly Americans-does not under-mine it.

Shortly after her well-publicized arrival in Hawaii, Madalyn telephoned lawyer Greenstein and asked to see him. Hyman Greenstein is a legend throughout Hawaii. Everybody knows that he was the model for Lieutenant Greenwald in Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny, that he is a fanatical devotee of sports-car racing, that he loves impossible” cases, and that during World War II he won so many “impossible” court-martials that Admiral Halsey personally inter­vened to have him transferred out of the Pacific area. In one notorious court-martial, the presi­dent of the court lost his head and called Green-stein “a son of a bitch.” Greenstein calmly turned to the court clerk and asked, “Did you get that down?” Court was immediately adjourned. It reconvened a few minutes later to dismiss the charges against Greenstein’s clients.

A short, soft-spoken man, Greenstein a ways wears green bow ties and his office is decorated in shades of green. Madalyn warned me, “The green is some kind of personal symbol to him. He is not amused when somebody says, `Oh, are you Irish, Mr. Greenstein?'”

When it became known that Madalyn had called for an appointment, Greenstein’s staff was dismayed. His secretary told the lawyer, “Everybody wants to know if you’re going to take that awful woman’s case.” Greenstein called the entire staff into his office and left the door open. “That door is always open to people in trouble, whatever their beliefs,” he said. “Does anybody want to quit?” Nobody did.

Mr. Greenstein has prepared a blockbuster of a brief against Madalyn’s extradition. He charges that “No court in the State of Maryland is legally constituted” because of that State’s religious qualifications for judges, juries, and witnesses, and that, therefore, “The entire judicial system of Maryland is in violation of and repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.” He further argues that Maryland’s failure to prescribe maximum penalties for assault is “barbaric, outmoded, and repugnant to the Constitutional guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment.”

Not only has Madalyn found a conscientious and capable lawyer in Hawaii, but she has also come upon some truly good Christians. Eighteen Hawaiian clergymen, including a Catholic priest, signed a petition urging Governor John A. Burns not to approve the extradition of Madalyn back to “religious persecution in Maryland.” In fact, as soon as she landed on the island she was offered help-by a church. The Rev. Gene Bridges, of the Unitarian Church, called her on the phone to ask if she had found a home yet. When he learned that she hadn’t, he invited her whole family to spend the night in the backroom of his church. Mr. Bridges immediately thereafter started calling the board of directors of his church for approval. The board has 15 members. After calling 8 and receiving 7 approvals, he invited the Murrays to stay until they found a home. They remained in the church for 2 weeks.

“Madalyn has mellowed a lot, due to the Unitarian Church,” one Unitarian told me. Madalyn now attends the Unitarian services every Sunday and sends her son Garth, 10, to the church’s Sunday School. I attended services with Madalyn at Mr. Bridges’s church one Sunday. It began with some recorded music by Dizzy Gillespie, then Mr. Bridges read selections from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea and E. E. Cummings’s I: 6 non-lectures. Madalyn listened enthralled and said to me as we came out, “Isn’t he wonderful?”

That afternoon, Madalyn and I visited the largest Buddhist church in Honolulu and she picked up several free pamphlets of Buddhist sermons. “You’re not getting religious, are you?” I joked. “Hell, no,” she said. “I’m just curious.

*   *   *

For Madalyn Murray remains unshakable-and unsinkable. Sitting on the veranda of her little rented house at 1060 Spencer Street on the side of Punchbowl Volcano, with the pano­rama of Honolulu and the looming whalelike hump of Diamond Head spread before us, she told me eagerly of her plans in the “tax the churches” suit. “We’re going to subpoena the Archbishop of Baltimore, Lawrence Sheehan,” she said, “and make him tell how much money the church collects from its property in Baltimore, how much of that remains in Baltimore, how much remains in the United States, and how much goes to Rome. That information has never been available before, but it will be now. People can add and subtract; you know. Wait ’til the American public starts figuring out how low its taxes would be if all that untaxed money weren’t flowing out of the country. Madalyn is also planning to run for Governor of Hawaii, on a platform in which a fourth branch of government-the economic-would be added to the executive, legislative, and judicial. She is broke, in debt to the chin, the Baltimore courts won’t let her use her bank account, and she is still riding “at a gallop, high in heart.”

The other victims are less buoyant. Bill Murray is still under psychiatric care. Garth, Madalyn’s other son, has frequent nightmares about “seven-foot tall cops” beating his Mommy. Old Mrs. Mays is subdued and anxious. Madalyn’s brother Irving, 48, gave up a good factory job, not wanting to be the only Murray in Baltimore and a standing target for the remaining hatred, and he has not found a new job yet. As for the victim that has suffered most-the U.S. Constitution-it is not flesh-and-blood and, hence, doesn’t feel its wounds, but if it could speak it would probably whimper softly.

 

(reprinted in Email to the Universe)

Sex Education for the Modern Liberal Adult

“Sex Education for the Modern Liberal Adult” by Robert Anton Wilson, published in The Realist, Issue No. 12, October 1959, republished in The Best of The Realist.

The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands and feet Proportion. . .

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

– William Blake

While I was attending college, I worked part-time as an orderly in a hospital. One of my jobs was cleaning up the “stroke” cases, paralyzed old men who could no longer control their bowels. This proved to be useful experience later on, when I became a father – a baby and a paralyzed old man are much the same to one who must care for them, except that a baby’s bowel movement is lighter in color and there is less of it.

I also used to go along on the ambulance to emergency calls. I’ll never forget the first birth I witnessed. I had just read Philip Wylie’s Essay on Morals, and I remembered his statement that a man who hasn’t seen a baby born is a spiritual fop, a traveler on the surface of life. I was, I remember, astonished at the enlargement of the vulva (it was so much bigger than verbal descriptions would lead one to expect). Later, I wrapped the placenta in newspaper, to throw it out.

In spite of having received “a good Christian upbringing,” I can’t remember a time when I really believed that sex was “dir­ty.” When I saw the Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, I was swept by a wave of tenderness, almost to the point of tears, at the photographs of lovers.

The first time I heard anybody refer to those beautiful pic­tures as “vulgar” (I have heard this opinion twice, once from a 16-year-old Irish Catholic virgin, and once from conservative Russell Kirk) I was flabbergasted. If someone had said that Van Gogh’s “Sorrow” was pornographic, I couldn’t have been more astonished. It still seems to me that our civilization must be basically insane to produce people with such orientations.

During the Korean War, I made a point of donating blood the maximum number of times. I was thunderstruck when somebody told me that donating blood requires “courage.” “What the hell do you mean?” I burst out. “It doesn’t hurt! ” (I was, at that time, nervous whenever I went to the dentist.) “But,” said my friend, “to see your own blood draining out…”

I didn’t understand then, and I still don’t. But I heard the same tone of voice from a co-ed in my college class when I men­tioned my work as an orderly. “You mean you clean up dirty old men?” she said. And I heard the same tone, again, when I was explaining to another girl, why my wife and I believe in Natural Childbirth. “Your wife must be very brave,” she said. (Natural Childbirth, according to the Read Method, is often as ecstatic as the conception itself.)

And I hear exactly the same tone of voice in people who ob­ject to Marilyn Monroe’s joyful femaleness, or some of Red Skelton’s jokes, or Dr. Albert Ellis’s frankness. I can only con­clude that our civilization is full of people who are squeamish and uncomfortable about the basic biological nature of life.

I think that these people are, whether they are “adjusted” to society or not, profoundly, existentially insane.

I was astonished and dismayed to discover – in letters of pro­test which The Realist received after printing Paul Krassner’s “Sex Education for the Modem Catholic Child” – that this lit­erally insane hatred for the physical world still festers in the minds of many who consider themselves enlightened free­thinkers and humanists.

Let us face the facts for once. Man is one cell in a universe of process. His life is part of the carbon cycle. He lives off the fruits of the earth directly, or off the animals whose food-value derives from the fact that they live off the fruits of the earth; and his excrement and (ultimately) his corpse both go back to the earth as fertilizer.

This is the basic existential cycle, the frame in which our values must be found. There is no way of breaking out of it. The other natural processes of the solar system and the great galaxy itself are equally crucial to humanity: if the sun went nova tomorrow, human life would end. The cycle of birth, re­production, and death also dominates us.

Millions of lesser cycles, epicycles, rhythms, and processes make up the structure of our reality: the moon; menstruation; blood pH; metabolism; spring, summer, fall, and winter; di­gestion; respiration.

There is nothing “vulgar” about these processes, nothing “not nice,” nothing “obscene.” They are just there; they exist; and that’s all. Whether we accept these processes, rejoice at their beauty or feelhopeless and disgusted about being involved in them – this tells something about our own mental health, but not about the natural processes.

The most important of the cyclic processes in the life of a healthy adult is, of course, that of pre-orgasmic tension, or­gasm, and post-orgasm relaxation.

Psychiatry, history, anthropology, etc. all seem to bear out the conclusion that it was the Church’s interference with this particular cycle that began the degeneration of mankind, which led ultimately to the present mess in which a great proportion of the population is embarrassed, uncomfortable, or just plain frightened at any crucial biological process.

It is for this reason that I am a militant freethinker and not just a nice, respectably academic “humanist.” The American Humanist Association goes on and on about “stating positive values,” etc., not “being merely negative,” etc. Well, I call my­self the Negative Thinker with good reason.

I just don’t believe any new positive values can enter the life­blood of our civilization until we have first purged it of the poison of the Schizogenic Fallacy: the fallacy that man is a “nice” spirit imprisoned in a “not nice” physical body.

My wife used to believe, as many “liberal intellectuals” still believe, that organized religion is a quaint relic of the Dark Ages, a charming sort of living fossil as cute and as harmless as the duck-billed platypus. She couldn’t understand how I could get so angry about it.

Now, however, with children arriving at school age, she is beginning to develop some of my own militant anger. It is a horrible thing to see innocent children begin to pick up the millennia-old theological rubbish from their playmates; it is more horrible to reflect on how much more they will pick up from children’s TV shows and from our supposedly secular public schools.

Make no mistake about it, old Wilhelm Reich may have been wrong about many things, but not when he wrote, in The Function of the Orgasm and The Mass Psychology of Fascism, that chronic rage and hatred stem directly from “orgastic im­potence” (the inability to achieve total organismic orgasm), and that “orgastic impotence” stems from, man’s rejection of his own physical being.

The child taught to despise his own body and its functions and to identify himself with an imaginary “soul” is eventually going to become full of hatred for everybody and everything in existence. Why? Because one part of him (the sensory, non-ver­bal, existential level, you might call it) is permanently at war with this ridiculous “soul” dogma which his cortex tries to be­lieve. His nervous system becomes schizoid.

He has what Reich calls “muscular armor,” chronic physical­ tension holding back the natural, but (to him) forbidden felicity of the organism. He can’t be comfortable in his body; and, of course, he can’t really get out of it.

The result, according to the usual Freudian mechanisms, is that all this neural frustration and biological rage is projected outward upon the rest of existence. The physical world becomes, as it was to Saint Cyprian, “the creation of the devil.” The rest of mankind becomes “the enemy” to be exterminated, or, more hypocritically, “the damned” to be saved. Every social evil, from the malicious gossip of Mrs. Gilhooley’s bridge-table to the horrors of Belsen, derives from this state of mind.

Now, finally, what of the people who consider themselves “liberal” and “enlightened” but object to “Sex Education for the Modern Catholic Child”? Krassner’s language is uncen­sored, very true. So is the blood, smear, and urine analysis of a competent obstetrician.

Are you upset by Krassner’s reference to sanitary napkins (a puritanical euphemism itself, by the way)? You would be more upset by the case of a girl my wife once knew who inserted her first Tampax without removing the cardboard roll. I don’t suppose anybody could deny that the painful experience of that girl resulted from the stupid taboos of our society which made it impossible for her to learn how a Tampax should be inserted by asking clear and specific questions in plain words.

Are we still living in the Victorian Age? Do you object to a reference to “nocturnal emissions”? The Army, in its psy­chological test for draftees, refers to them as “wet dreams.” If you are afraid of plain language about the natural functions of the healthy human body – your human body – what are you doing reading a freethought journal anyway?

Nobody can deny the point made by Paul Krassner’s Swift­ian little bit of satire – that the precious “natural order” which the Catholic hierarchy is so anxious to save from interference by the rubber industry, this wonderful capitalized Nature that is not the same as the nature known to science (since things can happen which violate it), this sacred “Nature” sees to it that millions of ova are wasted for every one that is fertilized, that trillions of spermatozoa perish without ever reaching an ovum, that hundreds of thousands of babies are born dead every year.

Krassner makes this point by using specific, extensional lan­guage, which is what any semanticist would advise. Who or what would profit if the point were weakened by evasions, sub­terfuges, euphemisms, and Nice-Nelly-ism in general?

A psychiatrist once told me that he makes a point when dis­cussing sex with his patients of using the familiar Anglo-Saxon monosyllables rather than medical terms. “They can never really tell me about their problems if they’re busy searching for ‘nice’ words,” he said. It may seem unrelated, but I am re­minded of Ramakrishna’s remark that, before he could teach yoga to Occidentals, he first had to teach them to weep.

I am a very enthusiastic student of certain varieties of Orien­tal mysticism, some of which seem quite rational to my mind. The purpose of yoga, of what the East calls “ways of libera­tion,” is not to sink into a mindless trance like a masturbat­ing tree-sloth, but to become more acutely aware on all levels of the senses, nervous system, and “mind.” (A Zen master once summed up Buddhism in the one word, “Attention.”)

The first step toward this awareness is to transcend the “muscular armor” which keeps the organism sensitive to those parts and functions it has been told are not “lady-like” or not” gentlemanly. ” (Modern psychiatry insists on “abre­action” – as Mencken put it, the patient has to make a jack-ass of himself before he can be cured.)

Michelangelo wrote that “to create, you must first be able to love.” Einstein, more verbosely, said that the drive toward greater knowledge always begins from “an intellectual love of the objects of experience.” The greatest artist and the greatest scientist of the Western world are at once in recognizing that their creativity arises from “love”; and Einstein seems to have had in the back of his mind Spinoza’s “Intellectual love of a thing means understanding its perfections.” Twenty-five hun­dred years ago in China, Confucius wrote in the Shu King that “the dynasty, Y Yin, came in because the folk had achieved a great sensibility. ”

All of these expressions (the Zen master’s “Attention,” Michelangelo’s “love,” Einstein and Spinoza’s “Intellectual love of things,” Confucius’ “great sensibility,” and I could throw in also Blake’s remark about “cleansing the doors of per­ception”) seem to me attempts to verbalize an experience which, by its nature, cannot be verbalized. One has to ex­perience it.

You have to relax your body, so that the hard kinks of prejudice and fear cannot censor your perceptions. You have to look at things without using words inside your mind, look at things as they are originally perceived without shame or “value” or use-consciousness or purpose of any sort. Every thing you look at will then appear to you, as Blake says, infinite.

This is the “oceanic experience” Freud noted at the root of religion. It is also at the roots of science and art. We are all stumbling into this experience constantly, whenever we are completely relaxed and unafraid – Sunday afternoon in the hammock, for instance.

This experience has created a hundred stupid theologies, true; but, it has also created sciences and arts. In the Occident especially, from the troubadours of the 12th century up to D.H. Lawrence and Ezra Pound, this experience has become the ex­clusive property of wild and erotic independent mystics, while the official churchly mystics have sunk deeper and deeper into a miasmal mist.

It is out of this “oceanic experience” that a rational hu­manism can create “positive values” as an alternative to the de­lusional schizophrenias of Judeo-Christian theology. But these values can only be understood by those who are aware on all levels of their being, sensory as well as rational; and the majori­ty of people will never become aware in this way until those institutions are destroyed which teach man to despise his own body and to fear even to speak of it in plain, honest words.