The Illuminatus! Trilogy
written with Robert Shea
The Midget versus the Digits
The Midget, whose name was Markoff Chaney, was no relative of the famous Chaneys of Hollywood, but people did keep making jokes about that. It was bad enough to be, by the standards of the gigantic and stupid majority, a freak; how much worse to be so named as to remind these big oversized clods of the cinema’s two most famous portrayers of monstro-freaks; by the time the Midget was fifteen, he had built up a detestation for ordinary mankind that dwarfed (he hated that word) the relative misanthropies of Paul of Tarsus, Clement of Alexandria, Swift of Dublin and even Robert Putney Drake. Revenge, for sure, he would have. He would have revenge…
Damn the science of mathematics itself, the line, the square, the average, the whole measurable world that pronounced him a bizarre random factor. Once and for all, beyond fantasy, in the depth of his soul he declared war on the “statuatory ape,” on law and order, on predictability, on negative entropy. He would be a random factor in every equation; from this day forward, unto death, it would be civil war: the Midget versus the Digits….
His first overt act began in Dayton the following Saturday. He was in Norton’s Emporium, a glorified 5 & 10 ¢ store, when he saw the sign:
MAY LEAVE THE FLOOR
WITHOUT THE AUTHORIZATION
OF A SUPERIOR.
What! he thought, are the poor girls supposed to pee in their panties if they can’t find a superior? Years of school came back to him (“Please, may I leave the room, sir?”) and rituals which had appeared nonsensical suddenly made sense in a sinister way. They were trying to reduce us all to predictable units, robots. Hah!…The following Wednesday, the Midget was back at Norton’s and hiding in a coffee urn when the staff left and locked up. A few moments later, the sign was down and a subtly different one was in its place:
MAY LEAVE THE FLOOR
OR GO TO THE DOOR
WITHOUT THE AUTHORIZATION
OF A SUPERIOR.
He came back several times in the next few weeks, and the sign remained. It was as he suspected: in a rigid hierarchy, nobody questions orders that seem to come from above, and those at the very top are so isolated from the actual work situation that they never see what is going on below. It was the chains of communication, not the means of production, that determined a social process.. Nothing signed “THE MGT.” would ever be challenged; the Midget could always pass himself off as the Management.
Never Whistle While You’re Pissing
by Hagbard Celine
Seventh Trip, or Netzach (the SNAFU Principle)
“The most thoroughly and relentlessly Damned, banned, excluded, condemned, forbidden, ostracized, ignore, suppressed, repressed, robbed, brutalized and defamed of all Damned Things is the individual human being. The social engineers, statistician, psychologist, sociologists, market researchers, landlords, bureaucrats, captains of industry, bankers, governors, commissars, kings and presidents are perpetually forcing this Damned Thing into carefully prepared blueprints and perpetually irritated that the Damned Thing will not fit into the slot assigned it. The theologians call it a sinner and try to reform it. The governor calls it a criminal and tries to punish it. the psychologist calls it a neurotic and tries to cure it. Still, the Damned Thing will not fit into their slots.
Appendix Teth: Hagbard’s Booklet
” I once overheard two botanists arguing over a Damned Thing that had blasphemously sprouted in a college yard. One claimed that the Damned Thing was a tree and the other claimed that it was a shrub. They each had good scholarly arguments, and they were still debating when I left them. The world is forever spawning Damned Things- things that are neither tree nor shrub, fish nor fowl, black nor white- and the categorical thinker can only regard the spiky and buzzing world of sensory fact as a profound insult to his card-index system of classifications. Worst of all are the facts which violate “common sense”, that dreary bog of sullen prejudice and muddy inertia. The whole history of science is the odyssey of a pixilated card- indexer perpetually sailing between such Damned Things and desperately juggling his classifications to fit them in, just as the history of politics is the futile epic of a long series of attempts to line up the Damned Things and cajole them to march in regiment.
Every ideology is a mental murder, a reduction of dynamic living processes to static classifications, and every classification is a Damnation, just as every inclusion is an exclusion. In a busy, buzzing universe where no two snow flakes are identical, and no two trees are identical, and no two people are identical- and, indeed, the smallest sub-atomic particle, we are assured, is not even identical with itself from one microsecond to the next- every card-index system is a delusion. “Or, to put it more charitably,” as Nietzsche says, “we are all better artists than we realize.” It is easy to see that label “Jew” was a Damnation in Nazi Germany, but actually the label “Jew” is a Damnation anywhere, even where anti-Semitism does not exist. “He is a Jew,” “He is a doctor,” and “He is a poet” mean, to the card indexing centre of the cortex, that my experience with him will be like my experience with other Jews, other doctors, and other poets. Thus, individuality is ignored when identity is asserted. At a party or any place where strangers meet, watch this mechanism in action. Behind the friendly overtures there is wariness as each person fishes for the label that will identify and Damn the other. Finally, it is revealed: “Oh, he’s an advertising copywriter,” “Oh, he’s an engine-lathe operator.” Both parties relax, for now they know how to behave, what roles to play in the game. Ninety-nine percent of each has been Damned; the other is reacting to the 1 percent that has been labeled by the card-index machine.
Certain Damnations are socially and intellectually necessary, of course. A custard pie thrown in a comedian’s face is Damned by the physicist who analyzes it according to the Newtonian laws of motion. These equations tell us we want to know about the impact of the pie on the face, but nothing about the human meaning of pie-throwing. A cultural anthropologist, analyzing the social function of the comedian as shaman, court jester, and king’s surrogate, explains the pie-throwing as a survival of the Feast of Fools and the killing of the king’s double. This Damns the subject in another way. A psychoanalyst, finding an Oedipal castration ritual here, has performed a third Damnation, and the Marxist, seeing an outlet for the worker’s repressed rage against the bosses, performs a fourth. Each Damnation has its values and uses, but is nonetheless a Damnation unless its partial and arbitrary nature is recognized. The poet, who compares the pie in the comedian’s face with Decline of the West or his own lost love, commits a fifth Damnation, but in this case the game element and the whimsicality of the symbolism are safely obvious. At least, one would hope so; reading the New Critics occasionally raises doubts on this point.
Human society can be structured either according to the principle of authority or according to the principle of liberty. Authority is a static social configuration in which people act as superiors and inferiors: a sado-masochistic relationship. Liberty is a dynamic social configuration in which people act as equals: an erotic relationship. In every interaction between people, either Authority or Liberty is the dominant factor. Families, churches, lodges, clubs and corporations are either more authoritarian than libertarian or more libertarian than authoritarian. It becomes obvious as we proceed that the most pugnacious and intolerant form of authority is the State, which even today dares to assume absolutism which the church itself has long ago surrendered and to enforce obedience with the Church’s old and shameful Inquisition. Every form of authoritarianism is, however, a small “State,” even if it has a membership of only two. Freud’s remark to the effect that the delusion of many men is religion can be generalized: The authoritarianism of one man is crime and the authoritarianism of many is State. Benjamin Tucker wrote quite accurately:
Aggression is simply another name for government. Aggression, invasion, government are interchangeable terms. The essence of government is control, or the attempt to control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it be made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy.
Tucker’s use of the word “invasion” is remarkably precise, considering that he wrote more than fifty years before the basic discovery of ethology. Every act of authority is, in fact, an invasion of the psychic and physical territory of another.
Every fact of science was once Damned. Every invention was considered impossible. Every discovery was a nervous shock to some orthodoxy. Every artistic innovation was denounced as fraud and folly. The entire web of culture and “progress,” everything on earth that is man-made and not given to us by nature, is the concrete manifestation of some man’s refusal to bow to Authority. We would own no more, know no more, and be no more than the first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant, and the intransigent. As Oscar Wilde truly said, “Disobedience was man’s Original Virtue.”
The human brain, which loves to read descriptions of itself as the universe’s most marvelous organ of perception, is an even more marvelous organ of rejection. The naked facts of our economic game are easily discoverable and undeniable once stated, but conservatives- who are usually individuals who profit every day of their lives from these facts- manage to remain oblivious to them or to see them through a very rose-tinted lens. (Similarly, the revolutionary ignores the total testimony of history about the natural course of revolution, through violence, to chaos, back to the starting point.)
We must remember that thought is abstraction. In Einstein’s metaphor, the relationship between a physical fact and our mental reception of that fact is not like the relationship between beef and beef-broth, a simpler extraction and condensation; rather, as Einstein goes on, it is like the relationship between our overcoat and the ticket given us when we check our overcoat. In other words, human perception involves coding even more than crude sensing. The mesh of language, or of mathematics, or of a school of art, or of any system of human abstracting, gives to our mental constructs the structure, not of the original fact, but of the symbol system into which it is coded, just as a map-maker colors a nation purple not because it is purple but because his code demands it. But every code excludes certain things, blurs other things, and overemphasizes still other things. Nijinski’s celebrated leap through the window at the climax of ‘Le Spectre d’une Rose’ is best coded in the ballet notation system used by choreographers; verbal language falters badly in attempting to conveying; painting or sculpture could capture totally the magic of one instant, but one instant only, of it; the physicist’s equation, Force = Mass X Acceleration, highlights one aspect of it missed by all these other codes, but loses everything else about it. Every perception is influenced, formed, and structured by habitual coding habits- mental game habits- of the perceiver.
All authority is a function of coding, of game rules. Men have arisen again and again armed with pitchforks to fight armies with cannon; men have also submitted docilely to the weakest and most tottery oppressors. It all depends on the extent to which coding distorts perception and conditions the physical (and mental) reflexes.
It seems at first glance that authority could not exist at all if all men were cowards or if no men were cowards, but flourishes as it does because most men are cowards and some men are thieves. Actually, the inner dynamics of cowardice and submission on the one hand and of heroism and rebellion on the other are seldom consciously realized either by the ruling class or the servile class. Submission is identified not with cowardice but with virtue, rebellion not with heroism but with evil. To the Roman slave-owners, Spartacus was not a hero and the obedient slaves were not cowards; Spartacus was a villain and the obedient slaves were virtuous. The obedient slaves believed this also. The obedient always think of themselves as virtuous rather than cowardly.
If authority implies submission, liberation implies equality; authority exist when one man obeys another, and liberty exists when men do not obey other men. Thus, to say that authority exists is to say that class and caste exis, that submission and inequality exist. To say the liberty exists is to that classlessness exists, to say that brotherhood and equality exist. Authority, by dividing men into classes, creates dichotomy, disruption, hostility, fear, disunion. Liberty, by placing men on an equal footing, creates association, amalgamation, union, security. When the relationships between men are based on authority and coercion, they are driven apart; when based on liberty and non-aggression, they are drawn together. The facts are self-evident and axiomatic. If authoritarianism did not possess the in-built, preprogrammed double-bind structure of a Game Without End, men would long ago have rejected it and embraced libertarianism. The usual pacifist complaint about war, that young men are led to death by old men who sit at home manning beaurocrats’ desks and taking no risks themselves, misses the point entirely. Demands that the old should be drafted to fight their own wars, or that the leaders of the warring nations should be sent to the front lines on the first day of battle, etc., are aimed at an assumed “sense of justice” that simply does not exist. To the typical submissive citizen of authoritarian society, it is normal, obvious and “natural” that he should obey older and more dominant males, even at the risk of his life, even against his own kindred, and even in causes that are unjust or absurd.
“The Charge of the Light Brigade”- the story of a group of young males led to their death in a palpably idiotic situation and only because they obeyed a senseless order without stopping to think- has been, and remains, a popular poem, because unthinking obedience by young males to older males is the most highly prized of all conditioned reflexes within human, and hominid, societies.
The mechanism by which authority and submission are implanted in the human mind is coding of perception. That which fits into the code is accepted; all else is Damned to being ignored, brushed aside, unnoticed, and- if these fail- it is Damned to being forgotten. A worse form of Damnation is reserved for those things which cannot be ignored. These are daubed with the brain’s projected prejudices until, encrusted beyond recognition, they are capable of being fitted into the system, classified, card-indexed, buried. This is what happens to every Damned Thing which is too prickly and sticky to be excommunicated entirely. As Josiah Warren remarked, “It is dangerous to understand new things too quickly.” Almost always, we have not understood them. We have murdered them and mummified their corpses.
A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of “monopoly in the means of production.” Since man extends his nervous system though channels of communication like the written word, the telephone, radio, etc., he who controls these media controls part of the nervous system of every member of society. The contents of these media become part of the contents of every individual’s brain.
Thus in preliterate societies taboos on spoken word are more numerous and more Draconic than at any more complex level of social organisation. With the invention of written speech — hieroglyphic, ideographic, or alphabetical — the taboos are shifted to this medium; there is less concern with what people say and more concern with what people write. (Some of the fist societies to achieve literacy, such as Egypt and the Mayan culture of ancient Mexico, evidentially kept a knowledge of hieroglyphs a religious secret which only the higher orders of the priestly and royal families were allowed to share.) The same process repeats endlessly: Each step forward in the technology of communication is more heavily tabooed than the earlier steps. Thus, in America today (post-Lenny Bruce), one seldom hears of convictions for spoken blasphemy or obscenity; prosecution of books still continues, but higher courts increasingly interpret the laws in a liberal fashion, and most writer feel fairly confident that they can publish virtually anything; movies are growing almost as decentralised as books, although the fight is still heated in this area; television, the newest medium, remains encased in neolithic taboo. (When the TV pundits committed le`se majeste after an address by the then Dominant Male, a certain Richard Nixon, one of his lieutenants quickly informed them they had over stepped, and the whole tribe — except for the dissident minority — cheered for the reassertion of tradition.) When a more efficient medium arrives, the taboos on television will decrease.
The True Story of the Golden Apple of Discord
or, “Now Look What You Made Me Do”
What really happened was that everybody was squabbling over the apple and working up a sweat and pushing one another around and pretty soon their vibrations — Gods have very high vibration, exactly at the speed of light, in fact — heated up the apple enough to unleash some heavy fumes. In a word, the Olympians all got stoned.
And they saw a Vision, or a series of Visions.
In the first Vision, they saw Yahweh, a neighboring god with a world of his own which overlapped theirs in some places. He was clearing the set to change its valence and start a new show. His method struck them as rather barbarous. He was, in fact, drowning everybody — except one family that he allowed to escape in an Ark.
“This is Chaos,” said Hermes. “That Yahweh is a meanmother’, even for a god.”
And they looked at the Vision more closely, and because they could see into the future and were all (like every intelligent entity) rabid Laurel and Hardy fans and because they were zonked on the weed, they saw that Yahweh bore the face of Oliver Hardy. All around him, below the mountain on which he lived (his world was flat), the waters rose and rose. They saw drowning men, drowning women, innocent babes sinking beneath the waves. They were ready to vomit. And then Another came and stood beside Yahweh, looking at the panorama of horrors below, and he was Yahweh’s Adversary, and, stoned as they were, he looked like Stanley Laurel to them. And then Yahweh spoke, in the eternal words of Oliver Hardy: “Now look what youmade me do,” he said.
And that was the first Vision.
They looked again, and they saw Lee Harvey Oswald perched in the window of the Texas School Book Depository; and he, again, wore the face of Stanley Laurel. And because this world had been created by a great god named Earl Warren, Oswald fired the only shots that day, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy was, as the Salvation Army charmingly expresses it, “promoted to glory.”
“This is Confusion,” said Athena with her owl-eyes flashing, for she was more familiar with the world created by the god Mark Lane.
Then they saw a hallway, and Oswald-Laurel was led out between two policemen. Suddenly Jack Ruby, with the face of Oliver Hardy, stepped forward and fired a pistol right into that frail little body. And then Ruby spoke the eternal words, to the corpse at his feet: “Now look what you made me do,” he said.
And that was the second Vision.
Next, they saw a city of 550,000 men, women and children, and in an instant the city vanished; shadows remained where the men were gone, a firestorm raged, burning pimps and infants and an old statue of a happy Buddha and mice and dogs and old men and lovers; and a mushroom cloud arose above it all. This was a world created by the cruelest of all gods, Realpolitik.
“This is Discord,” said Apollo, disturbed, laying down his lute.
Harry Truman, a servant of Realpolitik, wearing the face of Oliver Hardy, looked upon his work and saw that it was good. But beside him, Albert Einstein, a servant of that most elusive and gnomic of gods, Truth, burst into tears, the familiar tears of Stanley Laurel facing the consequences of his own karma. For a brief instant, Truman was troubled, but then he remembered the eternal words: “Now look what you made me do,” he said.
And that was the third Vision.
Now they saw trains, many trains, all of them running on time, and the trains criss-crossed Europe and ran 24 hours a day, and they all came to a few destinations that were alike. There, the human cargo was stamped, catalogued, processed, executed with gas, tabulated, recorded, stamped again, cremated and disposed.
“This is Bureaucracy,” said Dionysius, and he smashed his wine jug in anger; beside him, his lynx glared balefully.
And then they saw the man who had ordered this, Adolf Hitler, wearing still the mask of Oliver Hardy, and he turned to a certain rich man, Baron Rothschild, wearing the mask of Stanley Laurel, and they knew this was the world created by the god Hegel and the angel Thesis was meeting the demon Antithesis. Then Hitler spoke the eternal words: “Now look what you made me do,” he said.
And that was the fourth Vision.
They did then look further and, lo, high as they were they saw the founding of a great republic and proclamations hailing new gods named Due Process and Equal Rights for All. And they saw many in high places in the republic form a separate cult and worship Mammon and Power. And the Republic became an Empire, and soon Due Process and Equal Rights for All were not worshipped, and even Mammon and Power were given only lip-service, for the true god of all was now the impotent What Can I Do and his dull brother What We Did Yesterday and his ugly and vicious sister Get Them Before They Get Us.
“This is Aftermath,” said Hera, and her bosom shook with tears for the fate of the children of that nation.
And they saw many bombings, many riots, many rooftop snipers, many Molotov cocktails. And they saw the capital city in ruins, and the leader, wearing the face of Stanley Laurel, taken prisoner amid the rubble of his palace. And they saw the chief of the revolutionaries look about at the rubble and the streets full of corpses, and they heard him sigh, and then he spoke the eternal words: “Now look what you made me do,” he said.
And that was the fifth Vision.
And now the Olympians were coming down and they looked at each other in uncertainty and dismay. Zeus himself spoke first.
“Man,” he said, “that was Heavy Grass.”
“Far fuckin out,” Hermes agreed solemnly.
“Tree fuckin mendous,” added Dionysius, petting his lynx.
“We were really fuckin into it,” Hera summed up for all.
F N O R D
“Very nice,” I said. “But why did you bring me up here?”
“It’s time for you to see the fnords,” he replied.
Then I woke up in bed and it was the next morning. I made breakfast in a pretty nasty mood, wondering if I’d seen the fnords, whatever the hell they were, in the hours he had blacked out, or if I would see them as soon as I went out into the street. I had some pretty gruesome ideas about them, I must admit. Creatures with three eyes and tentacles, survivors from Atlantis, who walked among us, invisible due to some form of mind shield, and did hideous work for the Illuminati. It was unnerving to contemplate, and I finally gave in to my fears and peeked out the window, thinking it might be better to see them from a distance first. Nothing. Just ordinary sleepy people, heading for their busses and subways. That calmed me a little, so I set out the toast and coffee and fetched the New York Times from the hallway. I turned the radio to WBAI and caught some good Vivaldi, sat down, grabbed a piece of toast and started skimming the first page.
Then I saw the fnords.
The feature story involved another of the endless squabbles between Russia and the U.S. in the UN General Assembly, and after each direct quote from the Russian delegate I read a quite distinct “Fnord!” The second lead was about a debate in congress on getting the troops out of costa Rica; every argument presented by Senator Bacon was followed by another “Fnord!” At the bottom of the page was a Times depth-type study of the growing pollution problem and the increasing use of gas masks among New Yorkers; the most distressing chemical facts were interpolated with more “Fnords.”
Suddenly I saw Hagbard’s eyes burning into me and heard his voice: “Your heart will remain calm. Your adrenalin gland will remain calm. Calm, all-over calm. You will not panic. you will look at the fnord and see the it. You will not evade it or black it out. you will stay calm and face it.” And further back, way back: my first-grade teacher writing FNORD on the blackboard, while a wheel with a spiral design turned and turned on his desk, turned and turned, and his voice droned on, IF YOU DON’T SEE THE FNORD IT CAN’T EAT YOU, DON’T SEE THE FNORD, DON’T SEE THE FNORD . . .
I looked back at the paper and still saw the fnords. This was one step beyond Pavlov, I realized. The first conditioned reflex was to experience the panic reaction (the activation syndrome, it’s technically called) whenever encountering the word “fnord.” The second conditioned reflex was to black out what happened, including the word itself, and just to feel a general low-grade emergency without knowing why. And the third step, of course, was to attribute this anxiety to the news stories, which were bad enough in themselves anyway. Of course, the essence of control is fear. The fnords produced a whole population walking around in chronic low-grade emergency, tormented by ulcers, dizzy spells, nightmares, heart palpitations and all the other symptoms of too much adrenalin. All my left-wing arrogance and contempt for my countrymen melted, and I felt a genuine pity. No wonder the poor bastards believe anything they’re told, walk through pollution and overcrowding without complaining, watch their son hauled off to endless wars and butchered, never protest, never fight back, never show much happiness or eroticism or curiosity or normal human emotion, live with perpetual tunnel vision, walk past a slum without seeing either the human misery it contains or the potential threat it poses to their security . . .
Then I got a hunch, and turned quickly to the advertisements. it was as I expected: no fnords. That was part of the gimmick, too: only in consumption, endless consumption, could they escape the amorphous threat of the invisible fnords. I kept thinking about it on my way to the office. If I pointed out a fnord to somebody who hadn’t been deconditioned, as Hagbard deconditioned me, what would he or she say? They’d probably read the word before or after it. “No this word,” I’d say. And they would again read an adjacent word. But would their panic level rise as the threat came closer to consciousness? I preferred not to try the experiment; it might have ended with a psychotic fugue in the subject. The conditioning, after all, went back to grade school. No wonder we all hate those teachers so much: we have a dim, masked memory of what they’ve done to us in converting us into good and faithful servants for the Illuminati.
Robert P. Drake’s Tarot Reading c. 1928
“You have the talent,” Drake said coldly, “but you are still basically a fraud, like everyone in this business. Yourworst victim, madam, is yourself. You deceive yourself with the lies that you have so often told others. It’s the occupational disease of mystics. The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether I destroy myself alone or destroy this planet — or turn around and try to find my way to the right-hand path in some dreary monastery. The universe will roll blindly along, not caring, not even knowing. There’s no Granddaddy in the clouds to pass a last judgement — there’s only a few airplanes up there, learning more and more about how to carry bombs. They court-martialed General Mitchell for saying it, but it’s the truth. The next time around they’ll really bomb the hell out of civilian populations. And the universe won’t know or care about that either. Don’t tell me that my flight from Death leads back to Death; I’m not a child, and I know that all paths lead back to Death eventually. The only question is: Do you cower before him all your life, or do you spit in his eye?”
“You can transcend abject fear and rebellious hatred both. You can see that he is only a part of the Great Wheel and, like all other parts, necessary to the whole. Then you can accept him.”
“Next you’ll be telling me to love him.”
“Yes, and I can learn to see the great and glorious Whole Picture. I can see all the men defecating and urinating in their trousers before they died at Chateau-Thierry, watching their own guts fall out into their laps and screaming out of a hole that isn’t even a mouth anymore, as manifestations of that sublime harmony and balance which is ineffable and holy and beyond all speech and reason. Sure, I can see that, if I knock half my brain out of commission and hypnotize myself into thinking that the view from that weird perspective is deeper and wider and more truly true than the view from an unclouded mind. Go to the quadruple-amputee ward and try to tell them that. You speak of death as a personified being. Very well: Then I must regard him as any other entity that gets in my way. Love is a myth invented by poets and other people who couldn’t face the world and crept off into corners to create fantasies to console themselves. The fact is that when you meet another entity, either it makes way for you or you make way for it. Either it dominates and you submit, or you dominate and it submits.
Take me into any club in Boston and I’ll tell you which millionaire has the most millions, by the way the others treat him. Take me into any workingman’s bar and I’ll tell you who has the best punch in a fistfight, by the way the others treat him. Take me into any house and I’ll tell you in a minute whether the husband or the wife is dominant. Love? Equality? Reconciliation? Acceptance? Those are the excuses of the losers, to persuade themselves that they chose their condition and weren’t beaten down into it. Find a dutiful wife, one who truly loves her husband. I’ll have her in my bed in three days, maximum. Because I’m so damned attractive? No, because I understand men and women. I’ll make her understand, without saying it aloud and shocking her, that the adultery will, one way or another, hurt her husband, whether he knows about it or not. Show me the most servile colored waiter in the best restaurant in town, and after he’s through explaining Christianity and humility and all the rest of it, count how many times he steps into the kitchen to spit in his handkerchief. The other employees will tell you he has a ‘chest condition.’ The condition he has is chronic rage. The mother and the child? An endless power struggle. Listen to the infant’s cry change in pitch when Mother doesn’t come at once. Is that fear you hear? It’s rage. Insane fury at not having total dominance. As for the mother herself, I’d wager that ninety percent of the married women in the psychiatrists’ care are there because they can’t admit to themselves, can’t escape the lie of love long enough to admit to themselves, how often they want to strangle that monster in the nursery.
Love of country? Another lie; the truth is fear of cops and prisons. Love of art? Another lie; the truth is fear of the naked truth without ornaments and false faces on it. Love of truth itself? The biggest lie of all: fear of the unknown. People learn acceptance of all this and achieve wisdom? The surrender to superior force and call their cowardice maturity. It still comes down to one question: Are you kneeling at the altar, or are you on the altar watching the others kneel to you?”
“The wheel of the Tarot is the wheel of Dharma,” Mama Sutra said softly when he had concluded. “It is also the wheel of the galaxy, which you see as a blind machine. It rolls on, as you say, no matter what we think or do. Knowing that, I can accept Death as another part of the wheel, and I can accept your nonacceptance as another part. I can control neither. I can only repeat my warning, which is not a lie but a fact about the structure of the Wheel: By denying death, you guarantee that you will meet him finally in his most hideous form.”