Dirty Socks and Denture Breath
Santa Bárbara from New Libertarian, August 1990
Chapter 2 in “The Prometheus Meltdown”
a tribute to Robert Heinlein
SIMON MOON WAS the Hairiest Cosmologist since Einstein; he had adopted the hippie “Jesus Christ” look in the ’60s and had never seen any reason to change it. By 1984 he bore a distinct resemblance to aSaskwatch but his employers at Health, Education, and Welfare tolerated that because he was the only computer scientist in the country who really understood GWB-666, the giant Al system that had become the fourth, and most powerful, branch of the government.
For Simon, meltdown began with a simple “mistake,” an Error in Celtic History on a TV documentary.
“And then,” the narrator droned portentously as the camera panned in on a map of medieval Dublin, “On April 24, 1014, Brian Born led his armies onto the field of Clontarf to join battle with the Danes under Sitric…”
Simon snorted contemptuously, then snorted some coke as a chaser. The Moons (then spelled Muadhens in Gaelic, of course) were from Dun Laoghaire and had fought beside Brian Born at Clontarf; if there was one date in all history that a Moon would not remember wrongly it was the day Ireland expelled the Danish invaders. And that was April 23, 1014, not April 24. Besides, the number 23 was a phenomenon that Simon had been tracing and charting for years as an example of Bohm’s implicate order, Jung’s synchronicity, and Hagbard Celine’s “Erisian Giggle Factor.” Shakespeare, like Brian Born, had died on April 23, and had been born on April 23, too, to make the Author’s hand more visible. Cervantes had died on the same April 23 (1616) as Shakespeare. As icing on the cake, April 23, 1014, when Brian Boru defeated Sitric and died himself, was a Good Friday, just like the day Lincoln was shot. It was a double synchromesh – Boru, Shakespeare, and Cervantes all obit. April 23; Born, the late Redeemer, and Lincoln all kaput Good Friday – and Simon had it in his charts.
The TV writer had simply goofed.
“French Canadian arms against them,” Simon muttered. “Don’t let Satan bring you metaphors.”
It was the next night that Simon began to realize that something unheimlich was happening. He was reaching behind his bookcase for his hash stash when a book fell over; bending to retrieve it his Celtic eye saw the words, “,..at the Battle of Clontarf, April 24, 1014.. ,”
The same error twice, in two days? That was a synchronicity in itself. Simon turned the book over to examine the cover: Brennan’s Historica Chronologia Eblansis. He had read it many times and he knew damned well it had always said the Battle of Clontarf occurred on April 23, 1014.
With an eerie feeling, Simon turned a few pages, looking for the Norman invasion. Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, had led his Norman hordes into Ireland August 23, 1170. That was another date Simon never forgot, because on August 23, 1921, while discussing synchronicities, James Joyce had seen a giant black rat, and the Joyces had originally entered Ireland with Strongbow.
But Brennan now said the Normans had landed in Ireland on August 22, 1170.
Simon hastily dropped Brennan and fetched a text on genetics. He read with horror-catastrophized eyes: “…and thus the father contributes 25 chromosomes in the act of conception…”
It had always been 23 before. Simon began methodically ransacking his whole library, his cosmos eroding beneath him. He found that Vincent “Mad Dog” ColI had been shot by the Dutch Schultz mob on 22nd Street, not 23rd Street, and that Schultz himself had been gunned down on October 25, not October 23. Shakespeare had been born on April 7 and had died on April 19. The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English had an entry for “25 Skiddoo” but not for “23 Skiddoo.”
Simon sat down weakly, his coincidences evaporating. His cosmology exploded. His confidence entropied.
“A boy has never wept nor dashed the law’s delay,” he thought. “No sign nor smell of any bean soup. Maybe the Rewrite Mob has been here.”
Simon had heard about the Rewrite Mob from Clem Cotex, the president of the Warren Belch Society, zonked theorists who specialized in “explaining” data so bizarre that not even the parapsychologists would look at it. Clem claimed that the Rewrite Mob were invaders from another space-time continuum of higher dimensionality, who regarded our universe as an art-work. He said they were all strung out on faster-than-light Speed and believed themselves Holographic Coherence Editors. They thought every art-work could be improved by “touching it up just a little,” to make it “tighter and, brighter” and “more accessible to a general audience.” That was how Clem explained the process of evolution itself (“they’re always changing things”), most of the so-called “paranormal,” and why, when you checked a reference, it often didn’t say what you remembered it saying the last time you looked.
That was a hardly credible exegesis, Simon thought.
Unless-the thought struck him like a huge chromium envelope-unless the Rewrite Mob had joined forces with the first Church of Fundamentalist Materialism, a fanatic splinter group off the old Committee to Scientifically Investigate Claims of the Paranormal. The Fundamentalist Materialists claimed, like medieval Thomists, that there was only one map that showed all realities and that they were lucky enough to own that map. Happy concentric egotists, they were the last bastion of Dogma in a world of growing agnosticism and relativism.
“A sea of troubles is the worst case of performance,” Simon thought grimly. “The proud man’s sidewalks were in trouble.”
He ignored his hash that night and took some Valium instead.
When he awoke the next morning he saw the great whalelike hump of the peninsula of Howth outside his window.
That would be a comforting, even romantic, view if Simon lived on the southern coast of Dublin. Since he lived on Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., – Dopey City (as he called it) – the hump of Howth was a distinct discombobulation.
“Get that goat of yours between the maid’s legs,” he muttered. “A piece of him is actually Cthulhu.”
He wondered if some international secret society had secretly moved him internationally to another society during the night. The only group likely to perpetrate such a mindfuck was the Legion of Dynamic Discord, Hagbard Celine’s egregious anarchists, and they would have left a kangaroo in the room with him to multiplex his pixillation.
Simon wondered if he were finally wigging. After all, it could happen to anyone. Under the present brutal and primitive conditions on this boondocks planet hysteria was chronically epidemic. Armed thugs of all varieties, some called “governments,” made life more hazardous, not less $0, than it had been in the primordial jungles; the general anxiety and freak-out level was higher than anywhere else in space-time. Why should Simon Moon, who was the Invisible Hand’s Society’s agent within H.E.W., be immune to the general madness as this domesticated primate species approached the 30th anniversary of the Hiroshima werewolf howl?
He crept exasperatedly w the window and studied the view with humor, care, and empathy. ‘That was Howth Hill out there, all right, and’ a Sealink ferry was moving south in the bay, headed for Wales. There was a Martello Tower to the left. A Martello Tower, he wondered, or the Martello Tower?
“I am an Alien with a bare bodkin,” he reminded himself. “Let in the maid for the widow’s son..,”
A stately, plump young Irishman came out on the roof of the tower, blessed gravely the awaking mountains and began to shave with a straight razor. In a moment, another young Irishman, taller, lithe, and dressed entirely in black, also appeared on the roof of the tower.
The Martello Tower, then. Indeedyment: Simon was in the first chapter of Ulysses. He had been moved in time as well as in space. He was back in June 16, 1904. About now, in the homely cottage on Eccles Street, the nameless cat was saying Mrkgnao to Leopold Bloom. Any other cat would say “Meow,” but a Joycean cat is precise; he says Mrkgnao.
Simon looked back at the tower and could hear the dialogue in his imagination: The aunt thinks you killed your mother – He was raving all night about a black panther – A new art color for our Irish poets: snotgreen…
A quick smile broke over Simon’s lips. He no longer thought he was going bananas. He had an explanation of what was happening to him.
He had simply fallen out of one book into another.
Simon dressed hurriedly, carelessly, energetically, in the clothes the Author had left for him the huge closet enclosure. He was only mildly surprised to find a brown mackintosh among them. So: he was due at Glasnevin graveyard at 11 a.m. – less than three hours from now. The Hibernian Cemetary Escapade.
At least, he mused, I have solved the riddle that has tormented Joyce scholars for sixty-two years; who was that lanky galoot in the brown mackintosh at Paddy Dingam’s funeral? As with most of the profound enigmas of philosophy, the answer was the hardy perennial: You did it yourself. Just like the answer to the Zen koan: Who is the Master who makes the grass green?
Washed and dressed, Simon descended three flights of stairs to the street, already excited at the prospect of seeing Dublin 1904 for himself. “Newspapers to defend any unauthorized orgasm,” he remembered.
The streets of Sandycove – which was where he had guessed he was – had the 1904 mix of horse-drawn carts and a few scattered “automobiles,” as he had expected. But few of the citizens looked at all Irish. Most of them were Arab street-boys, definitely homosexual in gestures and demeanor. Twenty-three of them propositioned him before he reached the comer and caught the tram into Dublin central. There were flutes and Pan-pipes playing nearby… wormwood, too much in the sun…
The tram was drawn by a giant black centipede. The driver, old Nehemiah Scudder dour behind his eyepatch, kept a flamethrower by his left hand and had to employ it a few times, sending warning blasts of fire over the centipede’s head when it made obviously hungry lunges at passing Jesuits and Mugwumps. Holy Christ Everlasting, Simon thought, I suspect I’m in a Finkelstein virtual universe between two eigenstates… “Wormwood, wormwood.”
The mugwumps were naked, the color of penis flesh in hard corpuscular erection. They sipped pussy juices out of laboratory jars as they walked, masturbating casually, their cat faces impassive. Occasionally one of them would leap upon the back of a passing nun to bugger her forcibly and suck blood from her neck.
The tram passed through Kingstown where five croppies were hanging from a gibbet, bodies covered with tar as a preservative – they were White Boys, Simon knew, and this area was warped by 18th Century vibes – they entered the Silent Blue Desert and had to fight off giant land crabs (the driver issued krypton guns to everybody in into Monkstown where Simon saw Owan McCarthy staggering out of a pub, shouting back at the angry publican, “Sure, if all the cats and dogs of Kerry knew about this place, they’d all come here to piss” – Past Sandymount Strand where green fishboys, ineluctable modality of wet dreams, rose from the rocks making vaguely obscene gestures – An old junkie coughing and hawking as they passed Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s home where the rebellion of 1798 had been planned –
“The Subliminal Kid as pale as his shirt,” Simon thought. “A king of infinite space for our Irish poets: Dirty Socks. I’m caught up in a Burroughs cut-up!”
They were passing St. Stephen’s green and a stone Sir Arthur Guiness stared pensively at Punks with green-streaked hair, who walked by with portable stereophonic radios blaring Julie Atrocious’s “Life’s A Drag,” a lament for a house-maid who had committed suicide after Julie sacked her for carelessness – that was from Julie’s LP “Snot,” which was popular with Dublin Punks in 1983 – The time coordinates were still shifting – St. Stephen’s Green was packed with clones: some fanatic Divisionist had mass-produced himself to stage a rally against an alleged “Sender” – The Divisionists planned to “take over” by endless self-cloning and then win democratically by majority vote – They are all paranoid about the Senders who are planning to “take over” by direct hypnotic-telepathic broadcast into the forebrains of the tired, the depressed, the weary, and all those who had made their minds empty by practising Zen or Transcendental Masturbation – They turned the corner past Tommy Moore’s statue above the public urinal, the author of “Meeting of the Waters” still in the right place, as Bloom had observed – The urinal had a new graffito on the outside wall: Schrödinger rules the waves. . .
Simon remembered that Schroedinger had walked these streets in 1948, pondering the cat paradox, just as Joyce had walked here seeing a hundred curious epiphanies 44 years earlier….
The pipes of Pan grew louder. A smell of hungry crucified eroticism, like rotten cheese, began to permeate the air. They entered the quays, and Anna Liffey flowed by laughing and dancing toward the sea. The huge greycloaked Liberator, old Daniel O’Connell, looked down, hand out as if to say, “In my day, the dung-heap was this high” – Beneath the Liberator’s pedestal men in black skirts and Aztec priests were performing open-heart surgery without purpose or anesthetic-Roman centurions building crosses for Sean McBride and the central committee of Amnesty International who have been found “guilty by reason of sanity” on charges of Bleeding Heartism, Do Goodism, and Aggravated Compassion-Past brass and copper streets of Venusburg where Rhysling sang “A Spacesuit Built for Two” and the Ladies Moral Society led by Dante Riordan stoned him – Past the metal bridge and the Four Courts where Matt Wands, Marcus Cups, Luke Swords, and Johnny Pentacles listened in endless testimony about a case of public indecency in the bushes of Phoenix Park involving a minor bureaucrat named Joseph K. – Mayan priests were preparing youthful victims for Ah Pook, centipede god of death in orgasm – Heavy metal addicts lurched by moaning, “Gotta have my uranium – that Plutonium monkey climbing my back, man – Coke bugs – Let me outa this Death Universe.”
Simon Moon had jump of the peninsula – He thought, “Back to Howth Castle and Environs – My father much offended about a planet of domesticated primates-He was raving all night about the most blatant case of hard-core goat-Honeying and making Denture Breath for the Mafia –”
We pass through Chinatown.
Sandstorms from the Silent Blue Desert beat against Simon Moon as he staggered along Ormonde Quay, past the bar where the Sirens sang for Leopold the Lonely Bloom, so lonely blooming, sad Leo. The Mugwumps marched by with sandwich boards: H and E and L and Y and, still trailing, apostrophe S. The 1904 citizens ignore the time travellers and speak: in furtive, cryptic phrases:
“They don’t want the Hiroshima werewolf in lower Manhattan,” said Ned Lambert’s brother. “Felicity a while?”
“This exercise because Olave the Black was an ancestor of mine,” muttered Long John Fanning. “Huge centipede entities. The three ruffians?”
“They drove his wits away by visions of hell.”
“Him possessed of canine entelechy. Mechanical and random methods. He can explain.”
“A white patrol car before the death. And an encyclopedia.”
“You can tell Barabbas from me,” Ben Dollard shouted, “that he can put that writ where Jocko put the nuts.”
Cashel Boyle Fitzmaurice O’Conner Tisdall Farrel with bottlegreen eyes, walking carefully outside the lamposts, cried “Coactus voluil’
King King lurched past holding Fay Wray in one huge paw.
College of ‘Pataphysics, Bulletin 23-THE DEATH DWARFS OF MINRAUD ARE STILL RUNNING THE SHOW. WHEN THE MARKS WALKED OUT ON THE CHURCH, THEY INVENTED FUNDAMENTALIST MATERIALISM AS A NEW FRONT FOR THEIR BLACK IRON PRISON. “ANY JAIL IS BETTER THAN NO JAIL,” IS THEIR MOTTO. THEY ARE TRYING TO STAMPOUT QUANTUM LOGIC, BURN THE BOOKS OF VON NEUMANN AND FINKELSTEIN, OBLITERATE COPENHAGEN. THEY DON’T WANT THEIR HUMAN CATTLE ENCLAVES TO LEARN THAT IN ADDITION TO A YES AND A NO THE UNIVERSE CONTAINS A MAYBE.
Simon Moon awoke. He could see the towers of lower Manhattan and the high church elegance of Trinity’s episcopal spires. In the other direction that great old gal in the harbor held up her dollar sign. This was an executive suite in a building in the comer of Wall Street and Broadway.
“Strange damn dreams,” he muttered. “Cthulhu, get that goat of yours. Country matters, or take arms?”
The radio in the comer by the washbasin turned itself on:
“Russian troops are still advancing across France – In England, London is radioactive rubble. The mad faceless government in Liverpool has surrendered under a ‘better Red than dead’ policy. In Washington, President Galt has ordered all our nuclear missiles fired in every possible direction since quote ‘we don’t know where the next attack might come from’ unquote. The only ones opposing the war effort are the first Church of Irresponsible Whim Worship. Their leader, Reverend Gooey, has said…”
A new voice came on: “We don’t want to wisk our pwecious necks!”
“… and he was immediately stoned to death by the Ladies Moral Society under the leadership of Shib-Niggurath,” the announcer concluded.
“I will begin with death on a nice spring day – the vampire Joyce is the result of random genetic cut-ups plural – Country matters is their Black Iron Prison–” Simon grumbled.
“Wait,” the announcer cried. “A new bulletin just in – Oh, my God, our missiles aren’t firing. There is suspicion of sabotage by effete intellectual snobs. This may be the end of freedom and democracy in the world…”
Simon snapped the radio off. He had guessed what kind of novel he was in this time when he saw the dollar sign instead of the traditional torch in Liberty’s hand. He was in a humorless capitalist epoch; he had fallen into the universe of that feisty old lady he always imagined was the lost grand-duchess Anastasia.
“Reality police really on my ass this time,” he mumbled. “Trying for pix of the cock, and less than kind.” He knew that in this book there was Pure Good and Pure Evil and anybody with his Irish skepticism about those who claimed to be Pure Good was a pathetic dupe of Pure Evil. The war going on out there had not been started by Machiavellix, Machiavellix, Atoms and Oil (the cartel that owned everything,) like the wars he had known before; the government was not lying about its motives, like all governments he had ever known in other eigenstates. The Purely Evil were attacking the Purely Good and all objective persons had to rush out and join Purely Good in the struggle or the universe might become, Gnosticwise, Purely Evil. In this universe, the laws were: Obey, Believe, Fight. Die.
Simon was not intimidated. He knew this was just another book.
He had discovered that he was living in a book while reading G. Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form on hashish. When he came to the theorem, “To cross again is not to cross,” he suddenly crossed. In that vertigo and hilarious cosmic ecstasy, beyond form, Simon remembered that he had been in many other books “before” and would be in other books “later.” He was not the character, the particle (so-called) in any form, but the wave function that coexisted in all probability states.
“Author can go take a flying fuck in a rolling Mobius strip,” he said. “I got n dimensions.”
A hand from the ceiling emerged, holding a card extended.
It said: DADA IS NOT DEAD! WATCH YOUR OVERCOAT! – Andre Breton
Simon passed through “M.M.M. Mystical Books of All Ages” and found himself on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
“We were expecting you,” Mr. Spock said. “It was logical.”
“How do I get back to my um you know ah my own bag?”
Spock turned to the computer. “I can hook up with GWB-666 in your time coordinates,” he said. “I believe you have had considerable experience with that early pre-Migration silicon-based life form?”
“Yes,” Simon said. “I worked with it. Or for it.”
Spock punched in his question about Simon’s wobbly reality-grid. GWB-666 answered on the console:
SUBJECT IS UNDER ATTACK BY THE REALITY POLICE. THEY ARE ATTEMPTING A REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM OF HIS HUMAN SKEPTICISMAND NIETZSCHEAN RELATIVISM. THE ATTACK WILL ESCALATE. DREAMS MAY COME. HIS OWN PATH, LIKE LAWRENCE TALBOT’S, WILL BE A THORNY ONE. SUGGEST THAT HE CLING TO THE LAST WORDS OF HASSAN I SABBAH.
“Does that mean anything to you?” Spock asked, raising an eyebrow.
“It will do,” Simon said. “Take me to your transporter.”
He changed ectoplasm. They beamed him down to birdchirps. “Genes are passed on more illuminated than bugger all… the Greeks had known too the maid never departed more – He was staggering along Ormonde Quay looking dour behind his eye-patch… love between maid’s legs rose under Section 23…”
Simon decided later, as he came down, that that was what the mystics meant by illumination. He felt a vast superiority to all other characters in the book, who were still identified with their roles there and had never known true freedom as he had. Still later, he began to feel sorry for them, because they took events in the book seriously and suffered awfully about it all.
They all needed an O.O.B.E. (out of book experience.)
Of course, Simon had never succumbed to the vulgar error of worshipping the Author. The Creator was as crazy as the Creation: that was the first axiom of Moonian ontology. Hagbard Celine had given him reasons to believe the author was, in fact, a Crazy Woman. The Greeks had known that, Hagbard said, and called her Eris, goddess of chaos: Her Chaotic Excellency, happy causeless essence.
“If you don’t believe it,” Hagbard argued, “who put all the nuttiness here, huh? Answer me that, Mr. Wise Guy Logical Positivist.” Hagbard had been illuminated in a book called Illuminatus and thought he was more illuminated than bugger all or anybody else.
It was obvious, then, that the Author, while under the influence of Joyce, Burroughs, old Star Trek shows, the Anastasia lady and the general chaos of current history, had gotten into some vicious psychedelics. Simon was riding a Schroedinger wave between Dublin 1904, Interzone, Galtopolis and various other virtual universes.
“Damn it,” Blake Williams exploded. “There’s still a Real War going on out there. A real war with Real Good against Real Evi1.”
Hdeat-hdeat-hdeat came the sound of the machine guns, opportunely.
“It will only last until I get to another eigenstate,” Simon said serenely.
“Oh damn Everett, Wheeler, and Graham… damn old man Schroedinger and his insane dead-and-alive cat…”
Simon passed Parnell’s grave (“Twas Irish humor wet and dry/flung quicklime into Parnell’s eye,” he thought) and saw the twelve mourners at Paddy Dingam’s grave. Bloom, a handsomer man than Simon had realized, stared at him. He’s just realizing that I’m number thirteen, Simon thought.
The tram passed through Kingstown into the Silent Blue Desert – Strange furtive figures, men in black skirts with bottlegreen eyes, scuttled through Blackrock: practitioners of perversions so secret they had never been recorded by any sexologist on any planet-an old junkie coughing and hawking as they entered North Clark Street and turned toward the Loop–
“What does that do to your oxymoronic Absolute Relativism?” Blake Williams cried angrily as KGB men on a scaffold removed the dollar sign from Liberty’s hand and replaced it with a hammer-and-sickle.
“This happens to be a right-wing Aristotelian universe,” Simon said calmly. “There was bound to be one static block-like universe in Wheeler’s super-space. ”
There was a knock at the door. Here comes everybody?
“Come,” Simon called.
Father Starhawk entered. The tall, bronze, beardless Cherokee made both Simon and Blake Williams aware of their own hairiness and whiteness. The priest wore his lapel button of Pope Stephen, looking dour behind his eyepatch, with the caption, “What, Me Infallible?” Father Starhawk was a Stephenite, part of the band who, under Pope Stephen, had turned the Roman Catholic church from the most reactionary to the most progressive in the whole book.
“We have to go to Chicago to see Hagbard,” Starhawk said. He did not waste words.
“I wanted to split this scene anyway,” Blake Williams said, looking glumly out the window. The Abominable Tcho-Tcho People were executing Catholic priests, old Jewish rabbis, Moonies, all kinds of non-Cthulhoid “reactionaries.” Dog-faced things were creeping out of the subways, minions of Nyarlathotep the mad faceless god. Russian troops marched down Lexington Avenue to Brass and Copper Streets with a bare bodkin.
Blake Williams, Ph.D. was author of Quantum Physics as a Branch of Primate Psychology. He had always regarded all religions, all arts, all philosophies and all sciences (including his own) as illustrative data showing how domesticated simians organize the quanta of perception into reality-tunnels. Now he was beginning to believe there was a block-like Aristotelian universe out there after all, and it seemed like a bitch on wheels.
“The Author is tripping,” Simon said. “Nothing to get upset about. He did it to you before, more than once. Remember your affair with the transsexual? Or the ‘unspeakable violations of experimental ethics,’ as the F.D.A. called them, in your Project Pan?”
Williams slouched into a chair. “I don’t believe in the Author,” he said. “We are emerging from some stochastic process – a random word generator perhaps – At the most there may be a Bohmian Hidden Variable involved… some highly clever epigrams emerge clearly here…”
Simon noticed that Starhawk had a scratch on his cheek and that his coat was badly tom in the back.
“Trouble crossing the Silent Blue Desert?” he asked. “Those giant land crabs again?”
“No,” the priest said. “Mugwump tried to sodomize me.”
The Citizen staggered out of Barney Kiernan’s pub howling, “May the God above/Send down a cove/With teeth as sharp as razors/To slit the throats/Of the English dogs/Who hanged our Irish leaders! Sinn Fein!”
Hush! Caution! Errorland!
A group of VIkings came marching tiredly from Clontarf. They were not hostile, just weary and dog-tired.
“Pardon me,” their leader said to Simon, “My name is Fortinbras and we are looking for Elsinore… we got lost, I think…” He showed a greying telegram:
DEAR FORTINBRAS TERRIBLE NEWS STOP. OLD KING, NEW KING, QUEEN AND PRINCE ALL DEAD STOP. ALSO DEAD PRIME MINISTER, PRIME MINISTER’S DAUGHTER, PRIME MINISTER’S SON STOP. ALSO DEAD TWO COLLEGE STUDENTS STOP. ALSO COURT JESTER PREMATURELY EXHUMED STOP. BRING SHOVELS STOP. HORATIO, CASTLE ELSINORE.
On a planet of domesticated primates armed with bird of paradise feathers – Radical Lesbians distributing copies of The Thoughts of Chairentity Brownmiller – To cross again – When Simon awoke the next morning he had confused dreams about Dublin and Interzone. He looked out at Dupont Circle and saw that Washington was having another blizzard.
“Strange damn dreams,” he muttered. Simon Moon awoke the next morning in the Silent Blue Desert. In the distance he saw the Cities of the Red Night, Kadath in the Cold Waste, the towers of Wall Street, Miskatonic University, the hill of Howth, and the Blue Lodge assembling at the temple of Solomon the King.
So soft this random word generator, he thought.
“Oh Lord my God,” he shouted, “is there no hope for the widow’s son?”
The door burst open with a sound of titanic Viking gods hurling thunderbolts. The Reality Police, led by Sgt. Joe Friday, burst into the room, phasers on stun. Grim crewcut types: no nonsense.
Blake Williams, Starhawk, Padre Pederastia and the goat were all ordered back against the wall. “You are under Suspicion,” Friday said formally. “Possible assembly for hypothetical discussion of virtual alternatives.”
“Probable cause for suspicion of mental masturbation,” added one of the crew cut clan, his chest expanding.
Simon sighed. He carefully extinguished his cigarette end.
The fuzz spread out “looking for evidence.” They sniffed the chamber-pot knowingly, making notes; examined the pen-wipers for signs of lint; turned up the bed – “Sometimes they hide Plotinus in the mattress” – and seized a bag of Simon’s weed on the grounds that “There might be laetrile in there. Better let the lab boys have a look-see.”
“These are the rules if you are under suspicion,” Sgt. Friday explained with no muscles moving anywhere. “You have the right to an attorney of our choice. We offer only first-year Chinese law students who still say ‘regal’ for ‘legal.’ You have the right to any and all dope you need to tolerate this universe but any unauthorized orgasm will be observed and may be used in evidence against you. You have the right to speak, as long as you don’t question the Big Bang, the Second Law of Thermodynamics or any other sacred dogma of Fundamentalist Materialism. If you try to remain silent or meditate, we have the option under Section 23 to tickle your rectum with bird of paradise feathers. You will be assumed guilty until proven insane and then shock treatment commences. If you try to leave this novel you will be sent to the Deleted Expletive Department and re-issued in a comic book for life;”
Another man burst into the pub, almost knocking Bob Doran off his barstool and stomping on Garry Owen’s tail in his rush. Garry barked, “Oaf! Oaf! Oaf!”
“I am Joseph K.,” the stranger cried with a haggard clammy expression. “I think – that is, I presume – that there is some kind of a mistake, or error in judgement. I am completely innocent. I have no pornographic books or philosophy, I am good to my mother, I am still a virgin at 42, I-”
One of the Reality cops turned his phaser to kill and dissolved Joseph K.
“Too surrealist,” he explained. “We aim to establish some solid Reality here at last. Law and order.”
King Kong lurched past in the street, locked in death struggle with Hastur the Unspeakable.
“Special effects are allowed, up to a point,” Sgt. Friday explained coughing hastily. “Comedy is allowed, up to a point. But guerilla ontology is an offense against the Iron Laws of History.”
“The Black Iron Prison,” Simon said, almost to himself…Another man burst into the clothing suggestive of Mitte/europa, appearance of a minor bureaucrat…the Reality Police turned…There was a real chance for freedom…Guys were knocking down their PRIME MINISTER’S SON STOP… “Downright surrealist, tommyguns blasting death-death-“…”Yes,” Simon said, Getting It, “the bathroom to wash”…all is permitted and we are unconditionally holding a card extended… Technicians, WATCH YOUR OVERCOAT…”Over here, Simon, this way, holding Fay Wray…”…The tram was drawn by a flamethrower in his left hand…the riverwoman danced and laughed…Sandstorms from the Silent Blue Desert along Ormonde Quay, past the bar where Bloom, so lonely blooming, when we overthrew dogmatic theology…Chicago gangsters burst intobrothel on the Lexington Avenue Subway…Bohm’s implicate order had always been 23 before…A sea of troubles with a straight razor…Aye, there’s the centipede’s head as they passed Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s clones: some fanatic Divisionist god of death in orgasm…To be or not in a building near the corner of Wall Street…Nobody thinks of death between a maid’s legs…DADA IS NOT DEAD! WATCH Hitler and the Chinaman’s wave between Dublin 1904 and “What, Me Infallible?”
Simon awoke. “The Empire never ended. I got it,” he cried like any happy convert to Erhard. “When we overthrew dogmatic theology, there was a real chance for freedom. Hume, Huxley, Nietzsche, Korzybski, all those guys were knocking down certitudes. The Empire had to find a new system to control us – ‘I must create a System or be enslaved by another’s,’ grok? – so they invented Fundamentalist Materialism. No wonder Willie Blake howled his head off and warned us it was the same old con with a new set of blinders – If we got beyond all tunnel-realities we would be out there in Chaos with Nietzsche and Hassan i.Sabbah – nothing is true, all is permissible, the anarchist gnosis…”
The set collapsed. Carpenters wheeled the walls back to the prop department; the actors walked off, lighting cigarettes, removing make-up, chatting. Bored technicians dismantled the solar system.
Simon was alone in infinite space. “Over here, Simon – this way –” came the voice of Hagbard Celine, Episcopus.
“But the Rose Cross College – the Blue Lodge…”
“You don’t need them anymore,” Hagbard shouted. “You’re in the Eye of the Pyramid now. This way – quick! ”
Simon walked toward the voice, his Craft ebbing.