"Melissa," Juanita said pointlessly, "this is my mother."
"So how do you..." said Juanita's mother, and then the subway car underwent a stop ten times more sudden than I would have thought possible. Everyone who had been standing was thrown to the floor, except for one man who hung stonily from the handholds on the ceiling, and I was tossed straight onto Juanita's mother's belly. My purse spilled onto her face, some of it into her mouth. "What the hell is going on?!" exclaimed Juanita, who'd stayed quite firmly in her seat. People in the front of the car are yelling, shifting, mumbling "There was someone in the tracks!"
"Look at him!" someone belts out. I realize we are in the front car. "He's cut in half!"
"What's this?" asks Enriqueta, removing from her eyesocket what I rapidly realize to be the tape Joe gave me. "The Play of Power and the Power of Play, huh? Where'd you get this? That was one of Armand's favorite phrases...."
"Who's Armand?" I ask immediately, helping her up.
"We found it in the street," cuts in Juanita nervously.
"Armand was Juanita's father," Enriqueta explains.
From the mortified expression that Juanita wears I know I should be quiet. "What kind of music is it?" asks Enriqueta after a second or two, still holding it. "Or I guess you wouldn't know, if you just found it, would ya. Here, let me check it out!" And so quickly does she slip it in her Walkman that Juanita hardly has time to begin to form words of protest. And less than five seconds later, an indecomposable mix of fear, delight and pure shock rush out in a richly shuddering gasp. "It is Armand!"
"Joe is Armand?!" I say stupidly, feebly trying to bite back my last word. What was mere surmise is now certainty: Juanita's mother has no idea that Juanita and her father have reunited. Let alone of the bizarre nature of this reunion. Enriqueta still has her Walkman on, so I suppose she didn't hear me. But, well, perhaps my words seeped into her subconscious, because she seemed awfully sure when she burst out with: "You saw him! I know you did! I can tell by the look on your face! You sounded funny when you said you'd found it on the street -- I wondered why. You knew what was on here -- that's why you didn't want me to listen! You reached out to grab it from me -- or you began to, then you stopped, correctly suspecting that would rouse my suspicion irrevocably. You would have done best to throw it out the window, I suppose -- or to insist that you hear it first, and then accidentally break it and toss it out. But it's too late now. How long have you been in contact with him? Answer me, girl, before I belt you one!"
"Mom!! What's the matter with you?"
"Don't even ask me why it bothers me so much -- I imagine you know! He may be charming, but he's as dangerous as any man on earth. I never told you the full story."
"No! You kept it clothed in utmost secrecy!! No wonder I was a little curious, huh?"
"What's done is done," says Enriqueta, obviously not as calm as she is trying to appear. "Sit down and talk to me. Why don'tyou tell me how you found him, first of all."
"Carl did it. He went to a detective agency."
"That easy, huh."
"Mom, I didn't ask him to. He just did it on his own; he thought he was doing me a favor."
"And was he?" she snaps. And then calms. "And then what happened, hmmm? You went to see him, and had a friendly father- daughter chat, and you were curious for more information on what he was talking about so he gave you a tape he'd made." She smiles maliciously, a smile indicative less of pleasure than reversion to animal teeth-baring aggression. "That about sums it up, right?!"
"Exactly what did he do that made you hate him so much?" asks Juanita sharply.
"What did he do? What did he do, huh? I'll tell you one thing that he did -- one thing out of about two hundred! I won't even mention the dozen times I found him in bed with other women, the time he flogged me with a horsewhip because he'd been reading the Marquis de Sade and wanted to see what it would feel like -- what it would feel like for him, not a thought for me, you understand! The time he spent all our money -- literally our last dime -- building the prototype for a new computer memory he'd designed, only to discover that the patent was already held by IBM, but they weren't using it because they didn't feel it would be profitable this decade. And then I had to work like a dog to feed us both, while he was sitting in the library working out his cockamamie ideas! No, I won't trouble you with such trivial misunderstandings -- after all, I'm just a materialistic bitch standing in the way of his great godlike Ideas! But listen, here's the one thing I could never forgive him for: he killed your twin sister! What do you think of that, huh? He killed her!" And Enriqueta spurts a sudden flow of tears, her lower lip trembling.
"What do you mean he killed her?" Juanita asks hesitantly. "Why?"
"Not with his own bare hands. The only thing he ever did with his own bare hands was masturbate every other woman he met on the street. My God, just listen to me -- talking about him makes me sound as wacko as he is! He was trying to develop a new hallucinogenic drug -- one which would, oh I don't remember -- put one in touch with alternate universes. Something deriving from the multiple-universe interpretation of quantum theory ... the Everett hypothesis. Which I doubt if he understood -- he never got beyond undergraduate PDE as far as math goes, but he never wanted to understand, he just wanted to experiment. Let's see where this line of thought leads us! Well, it led straight to death! He was toying around with ... I guess LSD was his starting point, but what he ended up with wasn't much like it. I don't know much about biochemistry, but I knew more than he did then ... like I said, he never knew anything. And anyway, he spiked a cup of tea I was drinking with the stuff -- without telling me, to be certain. It was a hell of a trip, no doubt -- the experiment was a success. But it so happens I was six months pregnant at the time. Oh, he assured me there was no danger -- that's he'd calculated the risk to be one in ten million, or something -- Christ, how could he know! you'd need a complete understanding of the human organism, orelse several billion tests! He didn't give a shit about the danger, he just wanted to, you know -- to find out. Curiosity killed the baby. It was born alive, but its brain never developed. I never took it from the hospital -- when it was three weeks old I kissed it goodbye and they told me its brain would never develop to anywhere near human intelligence. Apparently it had only half a brain -- the rest was some kind of unidentifiable mutated tissue. They'd never seen anything like it, but they saw no point in preserving such an unfortunate creature. So I reluctantly agreed."
A strange suspicion forces its way into my mind: Maybe that was part of the experiment.
No ... would Joe do that?
Not unless he was reasonably sure of the outcome.
But even Joe could be wrong.
But -- if the baby was stolen as it was about to be put to death, would the hospital tell the mother? No way in hell!
No ... that's crazy. How well do you know Joe anyway -- after all, she was married to him, and she judged that he....
But that could just as well have hindered her judgement. And what mother is rational about her baby?
"Well he didn't give me any strange drugs," says Juanita, "and anyway I'm certainly not pregnant. He's living with that actress/singer, Marcella, and he seems to be perfectly normal. Maybe he's matured."
"If he seemed that way he was acting," Enriqueta retorts sharply. "He'll never mature. He don't have a mature bone in his body!"
"Neither does anyone else," Juanita says petulantly. "Maturity is in the brain, not in the bones, and the former organ is a lot more flexible."
"Well, I have no desire to see him," Enriqueta says. "Are you planning to visit him again?"
"I guess so," Juanita replies quietly, her tone a feeble effort at uncertainty. "I mean, even if he is a little strange, he is my father."
"By the way," remarks Enriqueta, overcoming her impulse to probe deeper, "I heard through the grapevine that I was nominated for the Fields metal. That's the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in mathematics."
"There's no Nobel Prize in mathematics?" I ask, quite eager to divert the conversation.
"The story is that Nobel's wife ran off with a mathematician," Enriqueta laughs. "That may be apocryphal, but it's as good an explanation as I've heard. Here's our stop."
And we all get off the subway, and we walk in different directions, and I feel so full inside that I gasp in wonder that it was me who felt so empty only seven or eight hours earlier. All you needed was a couple new stimuli, I tell myself optimistically -- sex and drugs, right? ha ha ha ha! When I get home mom and dad are already in bed. The next school day is uneventful; I have a couple tests and get a couple hundreds. The only notable event is Carl's absence. After school, Juanita and I exchange a pregnant glance, and walk toward the subway. We don't talk much on the subway -- I'm not in the mood to shout. When we arrive Marcellaoffers us tea. "Joe's not here," she says brightly, "he's off researching the space shuttle. He really thinks the only way to implement his plan for society is to communicate with the societal mind. Well, maybe not the only way, but the best way at least."
"No tea for me," I say firmly, not hostilely -- "at least, no tea like we had last time."
"Say," Marcella asks quietly, "can you guys sing?"
"Not me," replies Juanita instantaneously.
"I can sing all right," I answer hesitantly. "Little-girlish stuff, anyway. Don't ask me to sing any Billie Holiday. More like Doris Day."
"I'm recording some demos in my little studio here, but they're sounding really good and I'm considering not re-recording. I've only got a little sixteen-track recorder, but that's enough ... I use the drum machine, and I play the keyboard and rhythm guitar. Joe does all the crazy guitar solos ... I don't know what I'm going to do when I go back on tour next month -- I mean, I don't think he'll want to go with me."
"You're going on tour?" cuts in Juanita. "I thought you were doing that Artaud movie."
"The audition for that is coming up, but if I get the part who knows when it'll start, you know. It's not a big money thing, anyway, you know, it's an art film and it's French. It's not even such a big part. You know, it's the irony of my career -- I know I harp on it but it really eats at me -- that I'm really, really confident as an actress, but it's with my silly pop fluff that I'm making bucks. But these new songs are actually good - Joe's helping me write them. They've still got the beat and the, you know, simplistic love-song lilt that everyone loves about Marcella, but they've got some melodic complexity on top of that. He claims to have studied sitar with Ravi Shankar, and he says he applies that to the guitar. Whether that's it or not, his solos don't sound like anything I've ever heard before. I think it'll broaden my appeal -- not only lovelorn little girls, you know, but some intelligent ... well, older people too. So, anyway, I was wondering if you'd like to help me out ... sing some backing vocals, you know. I usually do them myself on the album cuts, but for this one song at least I'd like a different voice ... I'm not sure why, just intuition I guess."
"I'd love to!" I squeal, and hate the girlishness of my voice.
"I won't even embarrass myself by trying," says Juanita. "But I'd love to listen. Come on!"
Marcella gives me a lyric sheet and runs the instrumental track through a couple times, showing me where to sing. "The song sound great!" I grin, trying to sound as sincere as I am. "I mean it's danceable, but yeah, it also has a lot of content. Something for mind and body both, I guess you could say."
"Thanks," says Marcella, blushing just a little bit. "The body part is mine, and you can guess where the mind part came from. But it's a pretty combination. Here, let's run through once -- I won't record it, I won't sing, just you will." And she starts the instrumental tracks again. I close my eyes and follow the tortuous winds of Joe's note-bending feedbackful gasps, trying not to sacrifice my rhythm to his melody but to let my tone flow just alittle in his direction ... or that's what was in my conscious mind, at any rate: it's absurd to think of singing as intellectual. Anyway, when it comes time for the lead vocal Marcella starts to sing. For half a second I'm taken aback but I keep on singing as before ... this sounds perfect, I marvel distantly -- we'll never be able to duplicate it again for the recorder! "That's the one," she says as the last note twists to a close. "Perfection."
"We'll never be able to duplicate it, though," I nod to her, half glum, half transfigured.
"Perhaps not," she grins wickedly, "but the machines down at the record company will do a pretty good job. I had the recorder on! Just on a whim ... I don't know why. I had a feeling it might go well. Listen, anyway ... as I said before, I usually don't use backing singers on my studio cuts, but on the road I need them -- Do you think you'd like to tour with me -- if your parents would let you, that is? I mean, I know it's not your career goal or anything, but I'll bet you're not getting all that much out of high school. You could hire a tutor if that's what it would take to convince your parents -- you could afford it on your salary. A thousand five hundred a week, same as the rest of the band. Plus expenses. Whaddaya say?"
"God, I'd love to! I don't know if I can get permission, though.... My parents are very academically oriented, you know.... They don't believe so much in money. But ... aw hell, I'm sure I can convince them! When exactly does the tour start, and how long does it last?"
"It starts two weeks from today, and it lasts at least till July, probably through August."
"So that's maybe thirty thousand dollars?"
"Right. Though if you apply to college you won't want to declare it or they'll take it all away from you...."
"I already applied!"
"Great ... so you don't have to worry about that until next year. Anyway, there are ways to get around that sort of thing. Listen, I've got a contract right here... your signature won't be legally binding, but mine will."
It took a couple hours, but my parents were convinced after they talked to Marcella and she explained that she understood this wasn't a career for me, but it was a fabulous opportunity, that she could arrange to get me a diploma through a tutor, that she had connections at Columbia, bla bla bla bla bla. The next two weeks, I didn't bother to go to school -- my parents didn't like that, but they had to admit it made sense. After a couple days, I asked them if I could stay over at Marcella's -- so as to get more practice in, to familiarize myself with the business, et cetera et cetera. Again, they conceded. For the first time I had power over my life -- true, power granted by luck, and by the good will of others. But at least it was a change! I didn't even think of Vlad very often.
Food and water were getting scarcer and scarcer. Seven peopledied of various ailments which Zar suspected were related to malnutrition. The Chief continued to follow the sun. Zar led rain dance after rain dance, and the people seemed satisfied with his performance as Healer... but he was growing less and less confident that the tribe would survive. It was three weeks after the wedding that he told Jalypsal of his plan. They were to leave in the middle of the night and head for the mountains where the rain clouds always came from. There, maybe, there would be food and water.
They wandered for two weeks, until they were about to collapse, having been a day without water and three days without food. And then they see it -- a tremendous castle by the sea, and a long line of young men stretching out behind. They rush toward the ocean filled with laughter -- and then, disgusted, spit the water out of their mouths. Someone sees them and directs them to the river....
The first week with Marcella is fairly uneventful. I learn all her songs, and Juanita and Carl come over daily after school. We have fun talking, making joke songs in Marcella's studio, trying to make sense out of things Joe said to us on various occasions. But there are no drugs and no orgies -- all that is alluded to only rarely. There is a certain sexual energy hovering near the surface of all our interactions; however, it never quite emerges into the realm of action. Clearly Marcella wants Carl with at least a little more than generally applicable lust, and Carl in turn desires her and Juanita both passionately, and Juanita lusts after Carl and is in addition as eager as I am to explore the curious sensuality so recently awakened in us. And clearly we all possess a certain driving urge to return to that never-never-land where mysterious figures rose from the dust and new logics originated and evaporated every second, to return to those enigmatic, barely-fathomed personalities who presented themselves to us in the mist of love and swiftly disappeared. But we're content to quietly relegate these multifarious maelstroms of deep longing to the shadows -- it's as if we're resting ourselves for the hurricane to end all hurricanes which is so shortly to come! Five days before the tour is to start -- Joe returns. Immediately he trots out the minty tea ... and I don't believe we drank any other beverage with our meals until breakfast on the morning we departed for the Los Angeles Coliseum!
BROWSING THROUGH THE COSMIC CUNTRADICTIONARY
The old man grins and brushes his ragged beard away from his mouth. His belly ripples and he enunciates like a preacher:
"O my Good! O my Gorgeous! Fanfare atrocious where I simply cannot stumble! Enchanted rack! Hurrah for the work of unspeakable delight and the marvelous body, for the first time! In the midst of laughs of children it began, and with them will it end. This poison will remain in all our veins, even when, thefanfare turning, we're sent back to the disharmony of old. O now, we so deserving of this torture! assemble fervently this superhuman promise made to our created body and soul: this promise, this dementia! Elegance, science, violence! We were promised the burial in shadows of the tree of good and evil, the deportation of the honesty, the chastity tyrannic, so that we might bring out our love so very pure. It began with some disgust and it ends, -- unable to instantly seize this eternity, -- it ends in a riot of perfumes -- .
"Children's laugh, slaves' discretion, virgins' austerity, horror of faces and of objects here, sacred be all of you in memory of this vigil. It began with all manner of rudeness, behold it ends with angels of flame and ice. Little drunken vigil, sainted! as would not be if not for the mask with which you've gratified us. We affirm you, method! We don't forget that you glorified yesterday each one of our ages. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life each day.
"Now is the time of the Assassins."
"I know that," says Joe spiritedly. "The time of the Assassins ... what is that -- Rimbaud! The Illuminations, am I right?"
"O yes indeedly tweedly twee," sings the old man, meticulously on key.
"Arthur Rimbaud," laughs Elise Aglaia, "isn't that your first name too, Arthur."
"He prefers to be called Art," cuts in Melissa.
"How do you know that?" asks Jake nervously.
"Who are you?" Carl asks Jake.
"I'm me, who are you?" retorts Jake vibrantly.
"I'm me too!" grins Carl.
"Arthur Rimbaud," grins the old man. "Yes, I recall that name. O once upon, or perhaps beneath, a bye bye bye bye gone."
"You look almost old enough to have known him," cracks Marcella.
"O yes, I knew him very way, yes wary veldt indeedt," proclaims the old man. "In truth, I new him -- and I old him -- better than I now myself. X! not X! X! infinite abundance! Good gracious, childhood, underhanded excellence potpourri, never twinkling an eyeskywonderporridge, eleventeen miss Tory."
"Senile old coot," Carl scowls bitterly, rotating his gaze to one of the other figures swirling misty through the hallucinogenerated scene he couldn't quite pin down.
"He isn't senile," insists Aglaia quietly. "Just the opposite. In a way, he's beyond sanity: he's absolutely grounded in true reality, whereas what we call sanity is merely firm connection to the particular world of forms that we've been habituated to see."
"Deep," smiles Mark knowingly. Fy laughs vigorously.
"Once," replies the old man, "I considered it my duty to penetrate to the deepest world. I sought to be a poet; I worked to make myself a visionary: you won't possibly understand, and I don't know how to explain it to you. To arrive at the unknown through the disordering of all the senses, that's the point. The suffering was tremendous, that I knew, but one must be strong, beborn a poet: it is in no way my fault. It is wrong to say: I think. One should say: I am thought. I is someone else. If brass wakes up a trumpet, it isn't to blame. To me this is evident: I witness the birth of my thought: I look at it, I listen to it: I give it a stroke of the bow: the symphony begins to stir in the depths or comes bursting onto the stage. If the old fools had not hit upon the false significance of the Ego, we should not now have to sweep away these millions of skeletons who, since time immemorial, have been accumulating the products of these cockeyed intellectuals claiming themselves to be the authors. In Greece, I have said, verses and lyres, rhythms: Action. After that, music and rhymes are games, pasttimes. The study of this past charms the curious: many delight in reviving these antiquities -- the pleasure it theirs. Universal mind has always thrown out its ideas narually; men would pick up part of these fruits of the brain; they acted through, wrote books with them: and so things went along, since man did not work on himself, not being yet awake, or not yet in the fullness of his dream. Writers were functionaries. Author, creator, poet, -- that man has never existed! The first study for a man who wants to be a poet is the knowledge of himself, entire. He seARCHES HIS SOUL, he inspects it, he tests it, he learns it... the soul has to be made monstrous. Imagine a man planting and cultivating warts on his face! One must, I say, be a visionary, make oneself a visionary. the poet makes himself a VISIONARY through a long, a prodigous and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness, he seARCHES himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, keeping only the quintessences. Ineffable torture in which he will need all his faith and superhuman strength, the great criminal, the great infirm, the accursed, -- and the supreme Savant! For he arrives at the unknown! Since he has cultivated his soul -- richer to begin with than any other! He arrives at the unknown: and even if, half crazed, in the end, he loses the understanding of his visions, he has seen them! Let him be destroyed in his leap by those unnameable, unutterable and innumerable things: there will come other horrible workers: they will begin at the horizons where he has succumbed...."
"So," Jake interrupts, "is that what happened to you?"
The old man grins but remains silent.
"It happened," smiled Aglaia, "but the cycle turned again. And the visions came back with such vigor that you can hardly escape for a moment of comprehensibility now and then -- am I correct?"
The old man nods slightly.
"You know what I think?" says Mark slowly. "I mean, I don't have as much experience with this guy as you do, but that last rant of his sounded awfully familiar too ... from Rimbaud's letters or something, I don't know. I think he actually believes he is Arthur Rimbaud."
"That I am," says the old man. "Indeedly."
" You're Rimbaud?" gasps out Aglaia.
"That's the idea, sis," yelps the old man, piroetting flawlessly. "That good old artyfartyheartyman himself. Hee hee hee heedly!"
"I don't believe him," says Jake.
"I do," booms a voice that seems to emanate from all the walls simultaneously.
"Xaj Kalikak!" screams Devon. And suddenly everyone notices a very strange occurrence: the internal boundaries of identity disintegrate as resolutely, and as beautifully, as dandelion seeds in the wind. Physically, mentally, in every sense, everyone is combining -- except the old man, who stands distinct as if the eye of the tornado. Mark and Jake and Ben and George and Fy and Zar and Al and Xaj -- all form one body, one consciousness. Several different Melissas, and Elise and Aglaia -- into one body, aged around twenty; into one mind. Devon and Andrea merge. Kristina, who nobody previously noticed, emerges from the multihued mist and stands stiffly alone, grinny oddly at Mark's transformation. Jalypsal Elypso emerges and merges with Devon- Andrea.... Carl and Juanita stare dazedly as Marcella floats inside Devon-Andrea-Jalypsal, then floats right out again, then in, then out, then in, then out, then in... finally, in.
"Reincarnation," says MarkJakeBenGeorgeFyXaj, "is twaddle. But it is the fact that the human mind tends to evolve into certain fixed points. Just as if you heat up a collection of atoms as it cools it will settle in any of a number of ground states, of equilibria, of minimum energy configurations -- when you set a bunch of patterns writhing wildly through eachother, they tend to settle, to configure, in a certain set of maximally efficient patterns. So in a sense the same person can appear repeatedly. Especially in different universes.
"It is also the case that similar patterns attract. You are so similar to eachother that your bodies melded into one, by analogy to the similarity of your minds. Recall that the fundamental law of the universe is analogy. Now is the time of the Assassins."
"Ahem," yowled Adelaide vaguely. Maria appears from the mist and merges with Devon and the rest -- uneventfully> NOT. ON OCCASIONALLY NOTNESS. aMeN! Optimality, optimal it, why? hee hee heedly.><><><><><><>>>
"Listen," i explained, we are heer 4 a purpose. "It is a fusion of confusions that I seek. O and I've little doubt that we are far too weak. And though the world may be relinquished to the weak ... the wider wilder world of dreams shall flow its everloving seams only to those of us who make our motions speak -- can love turn garbage into gold? out of this moldering can we mold? a flickre a flowre (a flickre a flowre) WHAT I'M TRYING TO REMAIN IS JUST THE WILL TO POWER!"
"Listen," I said, summoning all the wines of caverns and the biscuits of the road that I could weep, "wherever we are, that I can't quite remember, it seems rough to maintain logic for too long. So anyway, you see, it would be possible uh huh exceptly the you know and anyway, I can dig it so deep the eleventeeth canary couldn't die because it, and anyway I coffeetable nose, you see me, nevering nevery neverland and anyway OKAy NOW LISSEN PEEPULL! I have summoned you here because I want my utopia. I am utterlyserIOUS. You are all characters in my book, and it is part of my particular insanity that my unconscious scribbles out what my consciousness gasps at; in other words, I is someone else and it is not the fact that I have any more control over this than you do just because I'm writing this and you're not. Yeah. Doesn't this make any sense? I don't know... anyway, you see, there is of course the marmalade and the Kissinger red heffalump, occasionally the diamond clock of infinite -- we know, we know, we NO, ing, every sevenlump arousion lumpy coil python self- swallowing abyss abyss tremendous. You, my characters, I have summoned, and now combined -- understanding here that I is someone else -- in order to probe the darkest canyons of my mind, in order to examine what I have written in the pangs of darkest agony and delight, in the whimmering whimsical of music theory reflexed upon itself, inside the theory of theory of theory of..., and any way in any case and anyplace, which is where I am, the arbitrary common speaking clone, and occasionally on Tuesdays but you know I am, anyway, I perceive it that way and the point is as we call all see I am raving but you I have summoned here for the canyons of my mind ... I see, you love me also: I need a smaller group, more manageable: me (MarkXajJakeetcetera), and of course my ultimate Melissa shining Shadow-lover trembling superfeast, and then of course the JosieAndreaDevon sort of being, and then Juanita, such an innocence aside, and Senor Rimbaud, and oh, who else, I suppose Gautama Buddha wouldn't be out of line, or Friedrich Nietszche, or Henry Miller, or ... I'm getting tired ... oh, let's say Gottfried wild helm Leibniz. thassenuphynuf...."
The Old Man: What???!!
"We've got to leave this den of lunacy tomorrow," Marcella reminds Melissa quietly.
"Remember, this is all hallucination!" chips in Jake. "It may be the longest, most intense acid trip in the history of man, but it isn't reality!"
"I'm surprised to hear you say that, Joe," says Carl quietly, as Jalypsal sucks him off.
"I was joking," Joe retorts laughing. "Reality: what a concept!"
THE MADMAN WELCOMES THE ABYSS
"The case of science, although structurally similar, is far less clearly comprehensible than that of mathematics. There was no one big theorem with which science turned itself upside-down. The order of classical physics (which spawned Laplace's braggadocio) began to crumble with the advent of special relativity, which proclaimed that time and distanceand mass
are not absolute but vary according to whom is observing them
(according to certain formulas -- where what is meant by "whom is
observing them" is simply the position and velocity of said
observer as a pointin three-dimensional Euclidean space).
Special relativity is very simple and very limited -- it is
basically a tremendous leap in philosophy facilitated by a
judicious application of elementary algebra. General relativity, which came around fifteen years later, is internally much more
substantial: it constitutes an extension of special relativity to situations involving acceleration. Its major tenets are that gravity and acceleration are basically the same thing, that space is not necessarily flat but may rather be curved, that mass is this curvature, and that physical systems always follow the shortest path (which is not necessarily a line!) through this curved space. It got rid of objects and flat space. It also got rid of the action at a distance which plagued Newton's theory: no longer did one body mysteriously "attract" another; each body was simply feeling out its shortest path through curved space, in a gradual way. General relativity is the currently accepted theory of large objects. Newtonian physics works fairly well for small, slow-moving objects. But it fails to predict the behavior of highly accurate clocks on airplanes, and it fails to predict the precession of the orbit of Mercury -- only the strangeness of relativity subsumes all the data of the fast and the large.
"But all the mayhem spawned by relativity was nothing
compared to that which followed in the wake of quantum mechanics.
(Which also started in earnest with Einstein -- with his theory
of the photoelectric effect. In fact, this is what he got the Nobel Prize for, a couple decades after it was proposed -- even special relativity was still too controversial!) The meat of quantum mechanics is the Schrodinger equation (independently formulated in a different way by Heisenberg) which predicts the evolution over time of waves of probability. Much philosophical
fuss centers around the fact that probability is allthe equation gives you -- it will never tell you exactly what is happening, but only what might happen with such and such a probability. More confusingly, it also says that what happened often depends on what you do now. It destroys the linearity of causation (which, as Godel discovered in his only scientific investigation, is actually not preserved in general relativity either). It also says that what happens across the galaxy can affect what happens here instantaneously -- even though information, by the laws of physics, takes at minimum hundreds of years to get from there to here (This effect is actually more general than quantum theory; Bell's Inequality proves that it would be predicted by any mathematically similar hypothesis). In other words, it reintroduces the action at a distance which general relativity destroyed.
"All this is a big mess conceptually. These effects,
most physicists assure us, are insignificant at any but the
smallest scale. Other physicists wonder whetherbig systems
which are unstable enough to react to small stimuli might
be nontrivially quantum-mechanical, and might therefore possess these bizarre properties. This has been proposed as an explanation for the alleged phenomena of telekinesis and telepathy. For example, the human eye can perceive a single particle of light; the human brain cell, when not quite ready to give off a charge, can be induced to do so by a very small amount of electric stimulation. In general, there is no consensus among physicists as to how tointerpret these anomalies. They just keep on working -- often meticulously avoiding areas in which the anomalies are known to appear.
"Jim Morrison crawls into the room, bloody crucified, moaning 'Before I sink -- into the big sleep -- I want to hear -- I want to hear -- the scream of the butterfly!'
"And Dostoevsky plucks a dart out from his anus, sends it sailing toward Morrison's backside. 'Listen!' yells he furiously, 'they have called me a psychologist, but I am no such thing! I am a realist in the highest sense -- I portray the reality of the depths of the human soul!'
"But there is one quantum weirdness which I haven't mentioned yet -- which is, I believe, exceptionally relevant from a general
historical perspective. Namely: the idea that what exists is a
function of who's observing. This concept was introduced very
conservatively in relativity; in quantum theory, however,
it assumesfar greater prominence. If no one observes, teaches
quantum theory, nothing ever happens for sure -- the Schrodinger equation governs the evolution of probability, and that's all. But if someone observes, then BANG! all of a sudden one of the many possible states is chosen. This is a very vague theory -- after all, what exactly is an "observation"? -- but it's a standard part of the practical physicist's quantum mechanics, known as the Von Neumann projection postulate. The questions inherent in this postulate are evaded by assuming that a measuring device is anything whose behavior is governed by classical Newtonian physics to within a high degree of accuracy -- in other words, anything big enough to by and large escape quantum effects, but not so fast or so heavy as to require the apparatus of relativity. For instance a person, or a laboratory recording device. But one big problem with this facile dispensation, as I see it, is that a human doesn't believe something unless he or she directly experiences it. From my point of view, I am the ultimate measuring device, the only true tool of observation. I may trust evidence relayed to me by machines or other people -- but this is all indirect; this all flows through my senses, through my own observation. And what if I am a quantum system? As mentioned above, no one has proved that complex macroscopic systems like the brain, sufficiently unstable to be sensitive to quantum effects, are not susceptible to the same weirdnesses as particles. I suspect that they are, and so do many other scientists (even some who are not mad).
"So, what does quantum mechanics say about science? It says that nothing is definite -- the entire universe only exists as a possibility; everything hovers eternally in ill-defined limbo. The beauty of it is that it is a well-defined ill-defined limbo -- one which is given by precise equations (which, unfortunately,
no one can solve except in the simplest cases. Although we understand hydrogen and helium fairly well, no one has ever
derived the propertiesofany other molecule from physical
principles.) The idea of science as a set ofdefinite "facts"
about the independently existing "real world" is alien to quantum
"'the soul went obsolete in 1934,' says Marshall McLuhan, 'with the advent of electrical technology and the fucking globalvillage bla bla bloobldy"; James Joyce emerges from the bedroom closet with a pickaxe and chops him up into a billion little pieces; Picasso crawls out of the tip of Joyce's green orgasming cock and proclaims the fragments of McLuhan's body a 'found sculpture,' and puts in on display in MOMA, which wants its mama but ends up sucking on the nipple of Xaj Kalikak's soiled pants. There is no justice in the cosmos of pure fury. There is no solid in the antechambre of mind. And Dostoevsky's dart plunges straight into Morrison's anus; nourished by the wine of the road and the biscuit of caverns, Morrison, my frightful brother, spits out flatulations so furious that the dart is plunged into Dostoevsky's head."
"Finally, let's look at neuropsychology. It has demonstrated numerous optical illusions -- cases where we see something which other procedures indicate are not "objectively" present. For example, when a disk with certain black and white patterns is rotated, we see colors. This is not because the wavelength of the light is changed to that of different colors. For example, how close we perceive different pairs of things to be is highly dependent on the size differential of each pair.
"And when we don't see something, conversely, sometimes we think we do. For example, it has been indisputably demonstrated by biology that the human visual field has a two blind spots -- but you don't see two blank spaces out there in front of you. Your mind covers up these spots interpolatively -- what it expects should be there on the basis of the immediate surroundings, you actually see.
"Additionally, what we remember depends on what is familiar
to us. We remember sentences in languages similar to those we
speak better than in those which are structurally alien. We
remember paragraphs of sense far better than paragraphs of
"I'll bet you a zillion dollars that didn't happen!" screams Dostoevsky; says Jimi Hendrix, "I'll bet you a zillion plus a zillion plus a zillion plus a zillion plus a zillion Mr. Businessmen pointing their plastic finger at me that we're inside one of Bob Dylan's songs at this moment." And Bob Dylan cries "I am nothing"; "but where are we going?" smiles Dostoevky; "We came out of nothing, we're going to nothing, and in nothing we'll end," explains Jimi patiently, "but what the fuck, eh?"; "But nothing to the nothing is undefined," says gottfried leibniz, "it can either be one or zero depending upon the velocity with which each nothing is approached. And therefore it is of the utmost possible essence to determine whether our rate of ontological nullification exceeds our rate of teleological nullification, in order to ascertain whether the ultimate fate of the universe is emptiness or unity."; "but who gives a fuck," protests Jimi; "Ooh baby, I do!" cries the Mata Hari; "and me!" cries Marilyn Monroe, "but you have to put a nickel into by bellybutton first"; and finally the needle zings Dostoevsky right between the eyes and it is me up on the crucifix; Jim Morrison swallows Dostoevsky's true soul and without it Dostoevsky returns to his true form, that of a pitch-black moth, or possibly butterfly, which Jimi Hendrix bats with a flyswatter, and as it lets out its long last orgasmic scream the whole room fadesaway to ashes and Jim says 'I guess that might be good enough,' and I say 'Marmalade!'
"So what? All these experiments are blows against the concept of an independent physical world. They indicate that what we see is a function of high-level mental process. Experiments with natural and synthesized drugs also indicate this -- the chemical balance of the brain determines what the human involved sees, feels and thinks. All this spawns a syllogism: what we see determines how we interpret (not to mention formulate) scientific experiments. So we must use science to determine what is really there, since our perceptions may deceive us -- but scientific evidence cannot be ascertained, except through our perceptions. This is obviously circular. This discovery alone is enough to negate science (scientifically). The rest, the math and physics, is all gratuitous ... many believe, however, that the points are interconnected. A quantum theory of large-scale systems would shed a great deal of light on this intriguing network of circularities."
THE MADMAN WONDERS, TRICKLING HONESTY
"O yes, I see; it is the incandescent eerieness of life which overtakes me: it is the laughing of the snarls and, yes, the snarling of the scowls, and all the trickling of the howls of sweat from on my forehead. It is the underside of life which overtakes me; it is the other side of death, that place beyond; it is that crisp and coolly feeling of climbing out of myself, of going astray from whatever course has set upon me, of saying No to all rules and hence saying Yes! Yes! Yes! to them: -- of breaking free; yes, even from the act of breaking. It is incredible, of course, and in the literal sense: it is beyond belief; it sees that pond, belief, and coolly drinks it. And foolly thinks it into ponderments away. Another day! Always another one! This is the plea of cunctuation, and the merriness of souls without a harness: to be free! one must procrastinate, not only "real things", but even -- yes -- the very concept of tomorrow. And only then are all things well -- What's that? There are no things! The ultimate foolishness; the cry of existence; To die of love, one must first announce one's life to the universe, in a shimmering quimmering sky-song of wet leaves, in a shuivering crash through the world! How one must love it -- one must love the world! before one can bid it farewell in honesty; not as a home departed but as food one has digested and for obvious reasons does not want to eat again. To get rid of X, if you love X, learn to hate it. If you hate X, learn to love it. If you don't give a shit; well, learn to! What do you think living's all about? Learn to love not giving a shit about anything, or learn to hate it -- it doesn't matter which comes first! For God's sake just do something! don't just sit around in indifference; It's your world! -- For God's sake I said, and I meant you! -- Words of wisdom from the looney bin. Tune in at 4i AM every morning for an update on the transnihilistic and transensible (not to mention transensual) annihilate of the world? Does that make sense? Does this make sense? Does anything? Oh, of course not; nor do you, so fuck you! The prejudice that the world makes sense was banishedquite some time ago -- or haven't you heard? The sponge, metaphysical eyeball racket, shoelace hairbrush grunge upon my skypall cries and lies and cries to me but I can't hear it no because I have no eyes and sometimes I can't eat the peanut gallery but it's okay you see because One of us has second sight! And it's not one of us, not you; it's the Beyond! I have transcended sense here; I have entered Nothing -- it's going to take the universe to black me out, but of course the universe is blackness so you smell. Uh huh. I see. But not too well, because it's all black! Ha ha ha ha. It's overtaken me again, you see: this thing called inspiration, but it might as well be called cracked Death on Wheels, because you see anything has meaning however this thing which is not a thing has no meaning therefore to assign it any is pure bullshit. Which if you know me you know will not stop me. -- Sometimes it overtakes me; then I know, I know this weird world can't exist; I know it's all a vast illusion within which I've somehow placed myself and to reason why I did so is quite useless because naturally reason is but illusion too, you see? Of course you do. You might not know it -- . You cannot know anything, see, and neither can anything but you can pee and stick your dick in women's funnyholes and smoke a cigarrete made of plantleaves and spend all morning scribbling meaningless equations on a blackboard and eat the Zuider Zee -- You can do anything if you want to, but it'll be nothing anyway, you see? The only thing that reasons is the only thing that is which does not reason but just is and thus does nothing which is everything and thus reasons: sometimes, I said, it overtakes me, and it is. But what it is I cannot know; and why it isn't when it isn't when it it; and why I always say it isn't when it is and why I always say it is when it quite isn't and why I always say I am when I, I amn't, and why I have to fuck daily although cunts do not exist ... all this, I said some time ago, is quite a mystery to me. And so is everything to me, and so is everything. And so I'm squiggling across the floor of the metaphysical forest, ten miles of underbrush alive above my head. And though I look for the sun I can't find it; only the goo of some defecating monkey sits a million miles above. And I can't help myself; I can't squelp myself; I can't kelp myself. I can't do anything but wait for that bright magic hour to come. You see? And when it comes I rise out of myself; I rise up, and I feast with emerald cities on the flittulance of the sun. But that is rarely, or else it's all the time; ... time too is an illusion you see. I am not me."
"To understand this tremendous theorem, we have to step back a little. Before the end of the nineteenth century, mathematics slid easily into philosophy. And so , therefore, did science (since mathematics is its primary language). It was essentially a bunch of tacitly accepted, difficult to define conventions -- there was no precisely formulated standard as to what constituted a well-formed mathematical statement or a valid proof or disproof
of such. Logic, which did have definite proof rules, was considered as separate, as a branch of philosophy. And, until the end of the nineteenth century, it made virtually no progress beyond Leibniz. But then Frege, Peirce, Peano and others burst out with a flood of seminal work on two fronts: making logic more powerful,and expressing more of mathematics in terms of logic. And finally Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead wrote the Principia Mathematica, in which a substantial proportion of existing mathematics was actually written in terms of logic -- in terms of the connectives AND, NOT, and FOR ALL (and the concept of function). Their scheme was later refined into Zermelo-Frankel set theory, which is considered the modern logical foundation of mathematics. It's a nice idea; one important consequence is that one may construct a computer which, given any mathematical statement phrased in terms of formal logic -- be it infinite-dimensional fuzzy topology or the theory of poker odds --will in a predetermined finite amount of time (depending on the length of the statement), tell you if the statement is true or false.
"But there were problems with this ambitious scheme from the beginning. When Frege's masterwork (which contained for example the first purely logical expression of the concept of number) first appeared -- it contained a foreboding footnote. After the work was finished but before it was published, Bertrand Russell had written to Frege pointing out that his formalism allowed one to talk about the set of all sets which do not contain themselves as members. And this is of course a paradox -- because this set does not belong to itself if and only if it does belong to itself. Principia Mathematica circumvented such difficulties by introducing the theory of types, which assigned every function a type and asserted that no function could take as argument anything of type greater than or equal to its own. The scourge of self-reference appeared to have vanished. But it wasn't gone yet! In the late 1930s Godel came along and dealt Russell an even bigger blow than Russell had dealt Frege -- he proved that no formal system in which basic algebra could be formulated, could ever be proved to be logically consistent using its own rules of proof. And if one uses system Y to prove that system X is consistent, how does one know that system Y is consistent? One has to use some different system Z. One can't use X, because then the system consisting of Y adjoined to X would violate Godel's theorem. And then why is Z consistent? There are no loopholes -- mathematics as logic is mathematically (logically!) guaranteed to be eternally a dubious proposition, not necessarily false but then again not demonstrably true. Self-reference returned, stifled but not undermined by the theory of types, to set the course of mathematics in disarray.
"But most mathematicians just don't give a shit. They go on doing the same sort of thing mathematicians did before Godel's theorem, without caring if the system they're using is consistent or internally self-contradictory. And this is fine with me -- the point is that mathematics turned on itself; it self-negated. Now mathematics can no longer be rationally looked at as a search for true theorems. Rather, it must be understood as a search for interesting or useful forms, as an art and science of abstract symbolism."
"That is a beautiful sound," Zar whispered, awakening to the sound of Lisala's lute.
"I think so too," she said, after a little. "It just came out of me, at random; I wasn't even thinking about it."
"Or anything else, right?" probed Zar quietly. "That's how good ideas always come ... they slither up behind you while you're staring into space, and then pop up and scare the living shit out of you! What I've always wondered is what it is that makes some tunes so beautiful ... the mind has some innate sense of proportion or something, but what it is I could never quite grasp. That tune, for example ... it kind of catches you with the first four notes, and then ... uh, then the next four kind of give you the same thing, backwards ... and you might expect the same fore-back-fore-back-... pattern to go on eternally, but instead the backwards tune is repeated and drawn to a close."
"Four threes is three fours, right?" interrupted Jalypsal, in a tone which indicated she had been thinking long and hard on the problem.
"You can always change the order," replied Zar hastily.
"With music, though ... I think what it is is that you have a
tune, and it wants to continue ... You have to embed it in a
bigger tune which fulfills the expectation and surprises you. The problem is to satisfy the old tunes while pounding in the new."
"Kind of like propaganda," Lisala observed dreamily. "Convince the people they want what you want them to want. Convince them it's their idea."
"Music as a tool for self-esteem," Jalypsal whispered. "I guess it is, yeah ... it certainly makes you feel good. I always wondered why."
"Why do we find certain things pleasurable?? Why do we like art? Because," Zar realized triumphantly," they give us a pretend universe in which we can do what is not possible here."
"But it's not your universe," protested Lisala, "unless you're the artist."
"Do we seek freedom, or ... " Jalypsal's point trailed off into the haze which she always felt around her thoughts ... "Music gives us the illusion of freedom, right?"
"It tells us what to want," said Zar," and then gives it to us. The trick is to do this in a way which does not become boring."
"But are you saying this is true on every level?" asked Lisala, as if a softly chuckling breeze had banished her
confusion and restored her to her rightful place upon the austere throne of reason. "In what makes a tune good, and what makes a song made of tunes good, and so on?"
"Yes," Zar insisted passionately, "I am. I am saying that the whole art of music is giving a tune, and then giving a new tune which contains the old, and which contains some other tune, possibly overlapping with the original, and which contains some noticeable tune containing both of these two tunes. But wait ... what do I mean by a tune? Somehow I mean not only a tune of notes, but a tune of tunes ... To explain this properly I'd need a whole new language; now it seems as if I'm not saying anything...."
"So," Jalypsal teased as she kissed his chest, "do you need a language in which you can not say anything and still be saying something? You need to have a word for not anything, like a stickwith no marks...." She is laughing; Zar is not. At first she thinks him annoyed; then she realizes that her remarks may have contained more than she had intended.
"That has little to do with music, I think," he mused intently, "but it is intriguing nonetheless. It makes no sense, does it ... a mark for the void would be ... But what if you ... If not anything is called something, say not anything, as I
already said, then it is not not anything because it is
A meandering "What?" escaped Lisala.
"If not anything is called blllbldybll, then it is not not anything, because it is that which is called blllbldybll.
That's what I mean to say. We need a language for talking about
"What do you mean?" asked Lisala -- "we are talking about language."
"I mean we need a way to talk about any word, without saying which one ... never mind ... Look, not any apples and not any
lutes and not any orgasms -- is the same thing, right? Not
anything is not anything. But we can't talk about this, but we are anyway. If we give not anything a name, then we are not talking about not anything but something else, because not anything is not that thing which has that name. But if we are talking about something else, then not anything is ... You see, there's a circle here ... to talk about it is not to talk about it...."
"And all of this makes no sense," protests Jalypsal, "so let's go eat breakfast."
"But wait!" Zar is elated and his voice is loud. He waves his hands and doesn't notice. "It makes no sense, but I have made sense of it! Look, this is like a circle so we can write a circle." He pulls a pin from his shoe -- on the floor by the bed -- and pricks himself; he scrawls on the back of his shirt.
"Zar!" shrieks Lisala, and then she giggles at the extremity of her reaction.
"Look," he urges hurriedly. He makes a few marks. "These are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. But this is a very clumsy sort of notation. It grows too fast. So here is how I will write ten." He scribbles, grinning. "And here is how I will write two sixes." He gives them a few more simple examples. "This works for everything, you see? Nine nines is...." And then he stares strangely into Jalypsal's nose. "Nine nine nines is:"
"How do you know that?" asks Lisala ... almost angry, as if he haa violated some sacred royal vault.
"I just ... Look -- ..." They don't eat for ten hours, and when they do they hardly notice.
"So that's how zero was discovered," said Xaj pointlessly. "Rather disappointing, I suppose, in that the idea just seemed to jump out of nowhere, when it came right down to it."
"But what happened to Zar and Lisala?" prodded Epiphany, a subtle smile splayed across her. "Did his attempt to pose as Horquentin work?"
"To a limited extent," Xaj replied patiently. "He wrote a beautiful little book, a sort of new bible, the Book of Horquentin, and he converted almost half of them to his revised faith. Andthen instead of engaging in battle, he made a very famous deal. If they could give him what he asked, he would yield the kingdom to them; if they could not, they would yield to his rule. They acceded because they thought it so obvious that they could fulfill his request; if not, they decided, then they deserved to lose, for he must indeed have the power of miracle."
"Was the deal, by any chance," asked Fy, "one related to a chessboard?"
As Xaj began to nod, Mark smiled: "You mean to fill a chessboard with grain so that the first square contains one seed,the second two, and each following square twice as many as the previous one."
Xaj said, "Precisely. The game was not exactly chess, but the board was the same. The story is still told. From their point of view it did seem like a miracle. And had Zar not invented zero, it is unlikely the idea would have presented itself to him."
"The power of abstraction," murmured Starlight.
Fy: "I'm more interested in his theory of music, really. It was an idea not quite expressible in the language of his time, but now we might be able to make some sense of it. I think that might be helpful."
"Could we see a copy of his bible?" I asked.
"Darling, listen, we have to talk," begins Carl in a confident, loud monotone, almost the moment he, upon return,
walks through the door. Hearing Marcella grumble something in response, he takes a deep breath and continues. "I've been thinking a lot -- about us, I mean. About our situation. I don't think ... I don't think we've been in our right minds lately ... I think, I'm saying I think maybe the tea is still affecting us a little, or maybe just shock from Juanita, or maybe both. What I'm saying is, I don't think we're behaving rationally.... I don't think I can take it anymore.... Honey? I know you're here; you left the door open."
Marcella replies: "Glub glub glurble." His words are slowly, harshly yanking her from a deep, deep quiet sleep. As if ascending from a tomb she lifts awareness up through layers of mellifluous free dream and neverknowing black, through a series of shifting strata more wildly variegated than that which seethes
beneath the surface of the earth.
"What? Morphine?" quips she blearily, not yet awake enough to feel the desperation in his nervously proposed platitudes, to
hear the trembling that seeps through all the seams of his tired
voice. It strikes her eerily, all of a sudden, that she was a little earlier dreaming that she was a morphine needle. Plunging deep into tender flesh, delivering crystal peals of
pleasure -- and frenzied lifetimes of agonious dependence.
"Wake up and listen to me," he says. "What I'm saying is that it isn't right.You've got to listen to me."
"I'm listening," she says, though she's already guessed what she's about to hear and her mind is soaring light years away
from the situation.
"We both know that Joe was a very powerful man, psychologically. Right now, I'm trying to phrase my thoughts as forcefully as possible, so as to have the maximum possible impact, but I know if Joe were speaking for the same cause he'd probably have you convinced before you even knew what he was talking about. But...."
"You're wrong," she says heatedly. "You're dead wrong. He was a lot more than just a masterful phraseologi...."
"Listen," he says flatly, holding his palm up toward her in what she realizes he hopes is a calming gesture. As if the sight of a certain anatomical feature is sufficient to bridle my deepest emotions! The thought pulls giggles from her groggy heavy head.
"I'm listening," she says, and it's even less true than the previous time she said it; her smile turns grim, and then to a smile again.
"He was original, no question. He was a genius -- in his own realm. Someday I'll probably be able to say that I was glad to have been around him. His ideas have a grip, a strong intuitive appeal that at times seems to border on magic." Here his
voice turns towards snarl. "Like all fatuous idealisms."
"You're just upset because they refused you the money," Marcella ventures quietly and strongly. "You listen to them
over Joe just because they're speaking and he isn't. You know damn well if he was around you'd still be devoting your life to Synergenesis. And without a single doubt in your min...."
"But he's not around, is he?!!" Carl yells. "When things got tough, he wandered off into his own little fairy dimension -- like the unrealistic kooky dreamer I always knew he was!" She starts to speak; he raises his voice yet more and continues: "He had me trapped, the motherfucker! He had me trapped in his goddamned psychotic delusions! But now he's trapped there all by himself, and I say the world's better off because of it -- this way no one else will be suckered in by his sweet talk and crazy confidence!" His anger fades to tears. "And the worst part of it is -- I know, no matter how hard I try, I'm never going to come up with anything as spectacular as he did. No, my own ideas have no value to me now -- I could spend my life thinking, pondering the issues that are important to me, considering them diligently, from every angle -- and I'd get no further than he would've gotten in a couple hours ... casually, rattling off ideas during sex, or during breakfast, or at fucking teatime!" He spits his words with such gnarled vigor that every consonant carries a tiny bit of bile into his mouth; the sour taste serves only to rile him further: "It makes me fucking sick, that's what it does! I'm telling you! My God! My fucking God!" He collapses on the floor beside the bed, leaning his head on the mattress by her tensed-up thigh.
"Obviously," she says, "your feelings are more than a little ambiguous. Why don't you give it some time before you commit yourself, even in your mind, to any rash decisions."
"Ambiguous?!" he murmurs, standing, attempting to assume the neutral objective tone of the mature lecturer. "Ah, just a tiny bit confused am I? No, there's no confusion here. The confusion
is entirely in your lovestruck mind. I don't see why you want to marry me -- I don't even believe it, really. Our marriage wouldlast about two weeks. You're still in love with him, only it's a love so mad you can't even distinguish it from the very substance of your mind, your soul, your life!"
"How eloquent," she murmurs appreciatively. "Yes, per...."
"And yes, I know I'm only eloquent when discussing him. But that doesn't prove anything, goddamnit! Just because he was an enigmatic genius doesn't mean he was right! Just give me that, will you -- there's not a causal relation there. Now, is there?"
"He saw things," she says slowly, "in a way we can't. Now, we can choose to reject his insights for that reason, or we can choose to work with them, to see how they integrate with what we see around us. It's as if he were granted the ability to perceive ultraviolet light -- we'd at first be skeptical when he claimed to see things we didn't perceive to be there. But if other sources, other senses, proved that certain of the things he claimed to see were actually there, that would lend his ability a certain amount of credibility, wouldn't it?"
"A certain amount of credibility, which a sufficiently devious son of a bitch would think nothing of taking advantage of. You remember how I met him -- that crazy flight down to Florida? He toyed with us! He lied worse than Ronnie Reagan!"
"It was a mistake to introduce the notion of truth -- you know his opinion on that."
"Yes, I know his opinion," he snarls. "But I want to know yours! I want to know this," he says, composing himself. "I promised myself that I wouldn't explode, that I wouldn't behave like a tempermental seventeen year old, like a fucking child!"
"You're behaving no more like a child than ninety nine percent of the adults I know, and you know that. Come on, honey, stop feeling sorry for yourself. After what you've been through, you have more right to the label 'adult' than most senior citizens." She smiles at him warmly, sensing a chance to melt the jealous spite which she feels lies at the center of his resolve. "You've even got a twenty five year old fiancee."
"Who's in love with another man, who unfortunately happens to be comatose at the moment."
"Do you really believe love to be exclusive? We've been over this so many times before."
" We've been over it? You mean, Joe's been over it. We've been handed down the party line. Well, I don't buy it anymore. I hereby resign as co-coordinator of Synergenesis. I hereby resign as bearer of the sacred Armand Kipple torch! I just don't believe everything he said was true," he pleads desperately -- "that's all there is to it. Just because it's remarkably self-consistent, because everything fits into everything else so wonderfully -- doesn't mean it has a damn thing to do with reality! Can't you see that?! The delusions of a genius are as intricately intrabalanced as the greatest works of art or science -- but they're delusions nonetheless. Marcella, I love you! I love you more than anything. My life will be nothing without you -- no, not nothing, I shouldn't lie to you. Something will be left. But only the smallest quantum, too miniscule for the human eye to see. My passion for ideas was rendered impotent by Mr. Kipple; must my physical passion be destroyed by him as well? All I have left are the animaldrives; the will to eat, to fuck, to survive. Goddamnit, Marcella, when I went down to Washington to talk to those people, I realized that we're under a spell up here. We live in a sort of misty trail he left behind him everywhere he went. A sort of hallucinogenic gas. I know, now I sound like I've cracked up as well. It's hard to talk sanely about insanity. Listen, what I'm trying to say is: come away with me. Please! Forget about Synergenesis, about Joe -- for a while, at least. Get back in touch with the real world. Go back to your career. Live your own life -- that's what's important to me. I hope you choose to live it with me, because I love you more than anything, but I'd rather you live your own life a million miles from me than that we live together in Joe's shadow for the rest of our goddamn lives! Let's get out of this city -- we can go to LA, that'd be a great place for your career. I could go to UCLA, or maybe CalTech, and study something nice and concrete, no room for dreaming, maybe aeronautical engineering or geochemistry or ... I don't know, anything! The important thing is..." -- he realizes that he's in danger of losing track of the direction of his protestations -- "the important thing is that we exit this realm of illusion, this fantasy universe which he forged for us, and rejoin reality. I love you, Marcella. Please come. Right now. There's nothing here for us -- everything here is his."
"It's ours," she says, now fully awake. "The link between Joe and myself is a natural, definitional, intrinsic connection,
therefore real, dynamic unity is the efficacious route. If the
link between the two of us and you is not as natural, not as deep-seated, as we all once thought it was, then perhaps the
optimal choice is not effective unity. Perhaps the link between us is not ripe for synergenesis. Perhaps it is, therefore, wise for us to separate."
"Speak to me, Marcella!" he cries, wildly waving his limbs all about, smashing a floor lamp on the floor. "Goddamnit, speak to me! Don't give me all that shit -- you sound like a walking automaton! You're no fucking better than any other politician spouting crap about 'truth, justice and the American way' in every situation.... I want ... God, I want to feel you in the rhythm of your words!"
"I was serious. Look, I can put it in his language or I can put it in the common language -- if you really feel as you're saying, then we have nothing in common anymore. So we have to split. There, Carl, do you like that better?! That's about as cliche as you can get, about as far removed from ... But why should I apologize for speaking his language? Look, I don't have my own language, and neither do you! If it's a choice between him and the common, the average, the repetitive shit of the universe, yeah, I guess he's what I'll pick!"
"But the ordinary language is already in you. It's a choice between whether you'll spend your life indoctrinating yourself with the language of his psychotic delusion-world, or whether you'll spend it developing yourself. What about your career?"
"What about it? I can't write music anymore, you know that. I suppose I can still act. I'm playing Anais Nin...."
"And don't you think your inability to write music has anything to do with Joe? With the intimidating power of his ... his all-embracing creativity? Don't you think if you left him, left his apparition, left all the trappings of your life with him and of his deluded dreams, then some of your own self, what you had before you met him, might return?!"
"This discussion is so muddled. There are loose issues peeking out all over the place. The basic question is which course of action will lead to the greatest amount of new pattern. The greatest synergenesis."
"Fuck that! Fuck fucking synergenesis, and all the trappings of his ... of his fucking disease. Which choice will make you happier -- to fight the impossible battle of spreading his lunatic dreams through the world, or to do what you want? As I said before, I love you, but this is about you."
She hesitates. "I appreciate your concern, I really do. And I really do love you. You're so much more than a boy of seventeen to me -- there's so much energy inside you, so much life." He winces at the word 'energy'. "But I really don't know which choice would make me happier. I don't think I could be happy betraying Joe ... betraying Joe's memory, if he dies -- and what if he comes back?!"
"I won't have an easy time facing him myself," Carl admits, frightened that he finds himself resigning himself to losing her. And then a brilliant thought strikes him: "But -- what if he's
cured? Think about that! Him coming out of the loony bin,
admitting all that stuff he thought before was crazy, and you
having wasted your life on it. Then how would you feel?!"
"I don't know; I can hardly imagine it."
He scowls: "Famous last words."
"Listen, Carl, it's sweet of you to think of me so. I love you too, I really do. Not the same way as I loved Joe, but just as genuinely. But my life is just a question mark, just an arrow pointing who knows where. And yes, there's an element of reluctance at the thought of devoting my life to his visions. I sometimes wonder if they're right -- and then I remind myself what they say about truth and falsity ... I -- very occasionally -- have the same dilemmas you're describing. You know damn well he had them too. But any sensible human being has doubts about everything! The final word is, I've pledged my life to Synergenesis, to furthering his visions, and any other hopes I might have had for my life are trivial relative to that, are manifestly dispensible. A certain amount of pain goes along with this choice, but not much, honestly, not much. I only wish I could have you also."
"You're just like those religious nuts out on the streetcorner selling flowers," he spits, suddenly spiteful.
She stares at him silently, thinking how self-denyingly
silly it would be to say 'I won't even dignify that with a
"You only want me because I remind you of your time with him."
"Maybe so," she says, although she knows it isn't true.
"I have nothing more to say to you," he pronounces severely, and stalks toward the door.
"Yes you do," she giggles, spontaneously hysterical.
"What?" he growls, turning his head as he's about to slam the bedroom door.
"That," she giggles, rolling over and over in the bed.
He stands a moment, struggling impotently to summon some devastating retort. He leaves in silence.
"I love you," she whispers, as he slams the apartment door.
She throws the top sheet to the floor, lies flat on her back and considers her image in the mirror. Slowly and pulsingly, she masturbates, conceiving of her body as a fluid being gradually brought to boil. One orgasm is not enough; she brings another, then another, then another, then another, until her cunt is sore and red, as if to prove she has no need of men: they may deprive her of her goals, and of their love, but not her raw, essential happiness. No one deprives her that. Her skin suffused with the perfume of sweat, her body glowing like the winter sun on snow, she rises from the bed and walks to the closet on her toes. A certain indescribable magic, or so she senses, guides her every step. She removes her long black coat, the one she wore that night Juanita first showed up; and, just as on that fateful day, she puts on nothing underneath. She ambles slowly down the seven flights to the car and spontaneously drives towards their cabin in the Berkshires -- the three hours pass in mysterious soft trance, a sort of metaphysical massage of which, according to its nature, her intellect hardly takes note. Almost literally before she knows it, her body is there. Her mind is traveling the stars, from Orion to Sirius to Betelgeuse and back through the center of the Sun, where it's melted into its component hydrogen ions and fused again into a brighter, better, bolder glow which assumes every property of her previous form and something else besides, some indescribably perfect vacuum of serenity, some crackling core of fiery calm. Her mind is making twenty thousand voyages at once, through every scene she's ever seen or just imagined, through every corner of the worlds of death and life. And as she opens the cabin door, these voyages swiftly rush away. She is left with nothing but herself. And she hears something, then -- a gently trickling trail of song. She hears her voice weave out a tune with more of a supple, strong fluidity than anything even Joe ever concocted. Mozart on acid, she giggles to herself as she sings ... and, incredibly, the gorgeous melody concords naturally with the lyrics, which are
as glowingly transcendent, and translucent, as all but the
poignantest crescendos of Joe's labors of love. When she
finishes the song she lets her coat fall from her shoulders and
she turns to face the sky and howls with all her body's might and her soul's also, at the shimmering buxom phosphorescence of the
And Marcella, naked, walks and walks through the dark quiet
night. The air is filled with viscous phantoms, and the cool
rushing of the wind against her skin arouses the urge to tease
a man, or sing a song, or form a monumental sentence, or yell
at the top of her lungs. But she does nothing: only stops on top
of a rock and silently stares, from through the trees among which she stands down across the forest to the sea of city lights, which sends her mind into a frenzied dance of hate and love. An image ofJoe looms before her: narrow erection curving up, hurrying toward her with a notepad in his hand and a stream of thoughts so fresh that he hasn't had time to scrawl them down -- wild thoughts exploding, pouring, soaring out, flaring, daring the universe ... and sweet Juanita, Carl and she swept along by the abandon-dizzy flow, swept along by the visions so much purer than they alone could find.
And though she stands pliant and tall, suffused with comfort in her bold determination to expand the dream that was his, and now is hers, until the soul of every quantum in the universe feels its glow -- she cannot help but shed a tear, and then another, at the grey inexorable lack of fervor with which the machine of repetition pounds, pounds and pounds its lifeless mold upon the universe, upon the faces and the secretest vibrous places of her fellow human beings, upon herself, its dull resounding thud disrupted only by the empty thrusts of randomness, while those anomalous effusors, puppets of crazed unquenchable thirst yet puppetmasters over every scene they survey, those frothing fountains of new pattern overspilling every edge, those great cracked dreamers like Armand Kipple, are thrown like waste away.
(The tale of a Gwum)
At first she slipped by me, cascading streams of flowers and a suiciding chastity and rivulets of never-spoken pain. She clung onto my friend with cries of "Knowledge! Science! Excellence!" and taunted him with riddles of her darker days tattooed on angels' buttocks and another world. But then she poisoned him with noise and dizzy passion, or else with joys that knowing knows it's never known, and she leaped into my bed from his, afraid to touch the ground. And in my caves we wrestled greedy with the brittle eyeless creatures of the million-year-long night. Nocturnal luxuries escaped us; we only rolled into a subterranean river and were pumped out through a geyser near my cabin on the shore.
Ah yes, but then the excellence and knowledge, science, passion of the inner waves compelled us to plunge in again, and on our second try her chastity gave yells of fickle friction and the mellow bells of fiction drove us both along: oh, into unforgivable blandness, mitigated by plastic and forgiven by a oneness with the sun. It was not, in fact, the next attempt which drove us through the palace walls and installed us as the King and Queen of Babylon, of Samaria, of the never-written script. In fact, I can't remember what the clock said at that moment when the emptiness of universal love escaped my mind and ate her trembling, and her the same with me. What I recall are the endless summers that like punctuation marks defined the structure of the floating of the cloudbanks of my mind. Again the literal fails me; when one looks at the real through the spectacle of truth, only the metaphor gleams throughly...
God is dead, I said, and she said "I am grinning." We waged
wild battles on the boundaries of known: I pursuing ravenously herinto every corner, she dodging, trembling art and peace, occasionally diving into a mousehole or an empty world.
After a timeless time of flaming ice and bathing in the emptiness enchantment of our lust and love and lucky lies, something inside me said 'She is not wide enough. Her world is too small; only if you curl up will you fit in her. How can you flail the dance of epileptic differential orgy once you nest in her? Let her go!' This voice had beckoned me before, and I had listened, and was glad of it: this strange pied piper, so I thought, espied my quite elusive soul. But she refused to be discarded like the imaginary playmates of my childhood world. Even the symphony of fists would not annul her. And after many broken bones and charred environments, she poured a tsunami of blame into my open mouth and crawled into my friend's room with her sidekick, just to spite me. By virtue of my never-failing cleverness, however, I distanced them from a distance, and she flew back into what she perceived as my ornately gilded cage. And I said "God is dead," and she wasn't grinning but she kissed me on the cheek and then I kissed her and then she was and O that spark again consumed us like a rocket through a cloud, passed into vacuum and the nether-nodes of circuits of our beings: springing out for years to come and rudely blathering the memories of terrible dusky dawns when it was the evening dew and violets of cacaphony converted that appealed to us. And eons later all the trees of hate caught fire, those snarling baobabs of conscience, and from the ephemerally disquieting desolation grew an orchard-free of orchids wailing colors, fruits and vegetables to modern man unknown and dreams of dizzy dawns uncluttered by the vengeance of the slaughtered night. Our love sprang knew in every flower, and I kissed her every mouth and then we sang to eachother songs of what is living? what is dying? what is excellence, science, love? when we have the gleaming of this ease to swim in -- surrounding us --
DIONYSEASHORE DEADITATIONS ON THE BRIDALWAVE OF LIFE
"One day I was sitting under a pine tree and quietly thinking, and all of a sudden -- I can't remember my immediately prior
thought -- the universe turned pure white, and then disappeared around me. There was nothing but emptiness -- not black exactly, just void, pure nothing. There was no thought. I couldn't even try to wonder where I was or what was happening, because "I" did not exist. There was no sense of time, either, in this empty place: a second and a century meant the same thing, because without regular motion there is no way time can be measured, or even defined. And then there came a sort of vague, raw, general awareness: the void was, not quite cognizant of itself, but gently reaching out and feeling its own existence. No longer was it void, therefore, but what one might describe as "elemental looking-at". The looker and the looked-at were the same, but this unsplittable, self-referential act was precisely sufficient to nullify the purity of the nothingness I'd been so suddenly pulled into. This, I sensed, was "me", was the fundamental "I" in the center of all of us, which seems to arise differently in each person but actuallyexists outside the physical universe of person, place and thing. I felt that the "I" I was feeling was the essence of "I", the actual "I" of everyone.
"But then, I thought, what of all the other stuff in our minds? If our fundamental "I" is only elemental looking-at, only the void twisted around, so to speak, then what are all the other thoughts, the memories, habits and emotions?
"Or did I think all these things later? I can't recall an exact order, probably because, as I said before, time has no meaning in the absence of regular motion.
"The void looked at itself and saw that it was looking at itself. And then, some timeless time after that, it looked at itself and saw that it saw itself looking at itself. And so on: one after the other and all at once. The suspension of temporality is almost impossible to describe in our language, which puts on everything a certain tense.
"And then the void revealed that it was not void but complete randomness. The void, it became very clear, was actually everything. All possible occurences, entities, dreams --
together. And they appeared to, in some sense, cancel out. For every X there was a not-X, an exact opposite, and the conjunction of the two was nothingness. So combining everything left naught. But then, quite slowly, as if by chance, an entity emerged from the soup of total chaos, of absolute containment. This entity was awareness, was identity, was void-looking-at-itself. The void was one thing, the void-looking-at-itself was another. This single entity appeared as a sort of glowing sphere amidst the perfect purity of void. And then, inside this sphere, I saw a shape form. I can't describe to you what it was, but as soon as it appeared inside, it also appeared outside. And then the sphere looked outside, and saw the shape, but it saw it wrong, slightly misshapen, and the misshapen shape grew inside the sphere. And then outside the sphere, the same shape grew. And then the sphere looked at this shape, and misinterpreted it again -- and so on; before I knew what was going on there was an incomprehensible multitude of structures both inside and out, constantly adding to itself according to the same strange pattern: X evolves inside, X then grows outside, X is seen by the inside, but seen wrong, seen as some Y which is not X, and, finally,this Y evolves inside.
"At this point I saw that the sphere was me. I felt myself
inside it. I opened my eyes and looked at the universe, my
immediate universe, in this light. "That building in front of
me", I asked myself, "how do I recognize it as a building? By
certain habits of mind only. For instance, I know I cannot
actually perceive it as three-dimensional; science tells us
that the retina on which our eyes register images is two-
dimensional. Therefore, science informsus, the three- dimensionality which we so vividly perceive is a construction of our minds -- a very useful construction in the context of our lives, no doubt, since our lives are structured around the idea of the three-dimensional world. In this and in other aspects", I said to myself,"what I see is a consequence of my conditioning. Therefore I see it as a building only because I have a certain set of habitual thoughts in my mind which correspond to various aspectsof the entity "building". And then I see the building, and the fact of this seeing enters my mind and reinforces those same patterns: those habits must correspond to reality, says the
mind, because, after all, you did just see a building out there."
All these thoughts jumbled through my mind in no particular order. I knew I was far from making sense of the strange vision that had overtaken me. A friend came up and with her I walked into the building, with few doubts as to its reality, the indescribably intense image of pure emptiness rapidly fading from
"Science now dominates the popular mindset in numerous ways. Rationality rules our image of ourselves, if not our actual behavior. As science's negation of itself manifests itself in technology, this will become triumphantly apparent to everyone -- just as the universal-mechanistic implications of Newtonian physics eventually emerged. Through the theoretical elaborations of thermodynamicists like Carnot, grew the design and manufacture of the internal combustion engine. This suddenly made us feel ten times more in control of the world -- coast to caost in three days instead of three weeks. And then, finally -- with the jet, derived still from classical physics -- in five hours. What the technological ramifications of the revolution of observer-dependency will be, I don't pretend to know. Many have guesses, and I have mine, but there's little point in trotting them all out here. No one claims this will be the first scientific revolution without practical byproducts. Entertainment devices which make essential use of optical illusion, distorting "reality" directly. Drugs which induce specific illusions, specific ways of experiencing. Cybernetic means of interacting human thought processes with those of artificial intelligences....."
"Listen," I said, summoning all the wines of caverns and the biscuits of the road that I could weep, "wherever we are, that I can't quite remember, it seems rough to maintain logic for too long. So anyway, you see, it would be possible uh huh exceptly the you know and anyway, I can dig it so deep the eleventeeth canary couldn't die because it, and anyway I coffeetable nose, you see me, nevering nevery neverland and anyway OKAy NOW LISSEN PEEPULL! I have summoned you here because I want my utopia. I am utterly serIOUS. You are all characters in my book, and it is part of my particular insanity that my unconscious scribbles out what my consciousness gasps at; in other words, I is someone else and it is not the fact that I have any more control over this than you do just because I'm writing this and you're not. Yeah. Doesn't this make any sense? I don't know... anyway, you see, there is of course the marmalade and the Kissinger red heffalump, occasionally the diamond clock of infinite -- we know, we know, we NO, ing, every sevenlump arousion lumpy coil python self- swallowing abyss abyss tremendous. You, my characters, I have summoned, and now combined -- understanding here that I is someone else -- in order to probe the darkest canyons of my mind, in order to examine what I have written in the pangs of darkest agony and delight, in the whimmering whimsical of music theory reflexed upon itself, insidethe theory of theory of theory of..., and any way in any case and anyplace, which is where I am, the arbitrary common speaking clone, and occasionally on Tuesdays but you know I am, anyway, I perceive it that way and the point is as we call all see I am raving but you I have summoned here for the canyons of my mind ... I see, you love me also: I need a smaller group, more manageable: me (MarkXajJakeetcetera), and of course my ultimate Melissa shining Shadow-lover trembling superfeast, and then of course the JosieAndreaDevon sort of being, and then Juanita, such an innocence aside, and Senor Rimbaud, and oh, who else, I suppose Gautama Buddha wouldn't be out of line, or Friedrich Nietszche, or Henry Miller, or ... I'm getting tired ... oh, let's say Gottfried wild helm Leibniz. thassenuphynuf...."
The Old Man: What???!!
THE MADMAN FANTASIZES POINTLESSLY
CyberTimes: The Tower is obviously a philosophical book; how would you categorize it within this general category?
B.N. Goertzel: It is the room whose content is denial that it is a room.
CT: Can you translate that into ordinary language?
CT: Well, will you?
BG: I don't know; I can't predict the future.
CT: Many critics have perceived The Tower as only secondarily
metaphysical, as primarily an exercise in speculative futurology. How would you react to that?
BG: That would depend upon the circumstances.
BG: How I would react to that. If I were in a really terrible mood, I might punch the goddamn critic in the face. If, on the other hand, the critic was particularly attractive, I might offer her my services as a vaginal exercise machine.
CT: You don't like to answer questions, do you.
BG: I'm not going to answer that question. I'll take a stab at your first one, though: like almost all my other stories, it has the moral that there are no morals. Do you consider that more ordinary language? All I did was substitute "moral" for "room" in my previous formulation.
CT: In Chapter Ten, where Samuel scientifically studies the Tower and deduces scientifically that science is meaningless -- what were you trying to say about modern science in the real world.
BG: See, that's a tangible question; maybe I can answer it. The main point of that chapter was that the Tower worked like a nonlinear superposer, essentially, on the brain-waves of its inhabitants. It combined all the mental patterns of all the residents, controlling the contradictions in a way which I designated in detail. A certain subjectivity followed: Sam sees what Sam wants to see, and what others want to see -- combined, according to the contradiction equation. And Sam performs meticulous experiments confirming the equation, on Jay Zeus and his flock as well as individually. The point is, the equation implied that the equation was just a bunch of presuppositions, of mental forms: it negated its own absoluteness. I think exactly the same thing is happening with quantum mechanics right now: our equations are leading us back to their own source: reality, they tell us, is made my our cognition -- so, therefore our equation is not absolute. Science negates itself, so to speak.
CT: "So to speak." You're unusually guarded when you're talking about science. Why is that? You have so little respect for anything -- .
BG: It's a bad habit, that's all. I never believed in any religions ... science was my only religion. Until my first LSD trip, I implicitly believed in science. Except in a corner of my mind ... -- And then my whole mind became a corner. Figure that topology.
CT: How about Chapter Thirteen, where he decided to find ecstasy and balance in the pure act of wandering. That's very Taoist.
BG: Everything is very Taoist, and so is its opposite. So what. The point of it is, to believe in this is just as fallacious as to believe in anything else. The Zen disciple is no closer to the Truth than the disciple of Keynesian economics or rutabaga worship.
CT: Nor yourself? You reduce yourself to the level of Everyman?
BG: I am the universe.
CT: And he is a part of you?
BG: He is the universe as well. Look, this is getting boring -- why don't you go away.
THE ABSOLUTE PERSPECTIVE
The madman cackles. He knows no one will understand him; in fact he hardly understands himself. But how he needs, he needs, heneeds, he needs to speak:
"Fundamental feedback-loops ... the universe as made up of feedback loops: what are these loops? They are re-evaluation of pattern ... they are the process by which a system (set of patterns) X defines its own pattern-evaluation function, subjectively defining the universe: this is the loop of pattern- birth ... the spiraling beauty of the feedback-loop measure is that it stands beyond! these particular definitions: it is about the process of definition.
"This is the primary dynamic of the cosmos: each boundary sucks into itself. The universe sucks. Every boundary -- each line Inside/Outside -- redefines reality according to its own standards ... but then, of course, the boundary is only defined according to somebody's standards -- which have also redefined themselves -- (are also redefining --). It is a never-ending cycle within cycle within cycle within cycle ... -- it is a bottomless abyss: I say, however, let us stand outside of this abyss -- paradoxically? Okay. -- and call each redefinition of Universe a cycle ... and observe loops of cycles and cycle-structures. Mathematical transnihilism --!
" -- Precisely what, now, do I mean? Every entity -- every set of patterns S defines its own evaluation function m(S,X), which defines the difficulty of creating X out of S
"This is how S construes the world -- it is the world to S.
"This is a fundamentally discrete process: at time t there is m(X), at time t+1 there is m(S,X) ... and so on; there is no reason for the process to stop after one iteration. Although the simplicity of a member of S is not changed by an iteration -- S is not necessarily closed; S interacts with things which are different under m(S, ) -- and thus is changed ... therefore there exists m(S,X)(S,X) which is not equal to m(S,X) : a second-order effect, but still reflexive, still significant -- indeed, all the world is its consequence.
"Every set of patterns does this : "implicitly"! defines things for itself, evaluates everything according to its own measure. Of all things the measure is man, said Protagoras -- this anthropocentrically-twisted skepticism finds a fuller expression: Of all things the measure is every thing -- every set of patterns.
"Again, then: we set up an Absolute system of measurement (paradoxically -- transnihilistically!) :each elementary act of pattern-redefinition we call a loop, a single feedback loop: a quantum of action! The quantum of action is the redefinition of the universe. -- An elementary flicker of existence.
" -- Every set of patterns, at each "time" -- defining time -- creates a loop. This is subjectivity.
"What is, then, objective? We create an objectivity beyond objectivity, including subjectivity, by considering the universe as under the evaluating function defined above in terms of depth of feedback loop structure (or any other evaluating function involving only feedback loops).
"This is, yes, fundamentally illogical: X a pattern in X. Now we have stepped beyond mere definition of pattern.
"And to resolve this fundamental illogic, we can -- yes! --introduce time: each element of the universe -- each set of patterns -- has a discrete period of possible alteration: likewise with the Universe. We may say: Universe at time 2 is the set of patterns in Universe at time 1, according to the evaluation function described above. Time or contradiction? They are the same; however, the former is preferable for purposes of computation.'
"-- An image of the Universe as tumbling, ever-tumbling, ever-through-itself.
"-- And consciousness, which we previously dismissed as an unanalyzable aspect -- as the unanalyzability -- of sufficiently complex physical systems -- now we have perhaps portrayed it differently? as fundamental looking-back-on-itself of the universe?! -- as time, or contradiction: as the pattern of all patterns: as the universe!
" -- We have a meta-law for physics, for all science, with this truth ... previously we had special relativity's law- invariance with respect to inertial coordinate systems, general relativity's law-invariance with respect to even mutually accelerating coordinate systems, quantum theory's wave-packet reduction axiom which states that state is invariant with respect to choice of macroscopic observer -- now we have the ultimate restriction along these lines: All laws must apply within everyone's subjective reality. This is total invariance.
" -- in, out, the pulsing -- pulsing, pulsing, nothing but the pulsing."
THE MADMAN WAILS
O my Lissy! She is everything to me; she is everything I am not; she is everything. I am precise; I am the apex of precision. Within me even feelings have names and labels, equations and dark brown handbags marked "Utopia". Within her all is feeling; all is swimming, and there is no destination. All is within her ... whether it is coming out is another question. She is a filter, through which pours the universe ... a filter which scrambles everything that goes in her, turns it into a particular mark of chaos that's her name, that is her name, that is my Lyssyly. And she is beautiful; that's her name to me sometimes, sheer strangling beauty ... Sometimes, however, she's the ugliest thing on earth.
Like right now. Actually, I can't see her ... but I can imagine it -- the look on her fat twisted face, the tears in her eyeballs welling up to make the dark and desperate plunge out towards oblivion....
It is belief that creates trash, 'tis the accumulation of habits -- but these habits reproduce, they intermultiply through the pattern of emergence.... I love you, Lissa! ... And I am writing this for you: So that you may see what I really know of you ... You always accuse me of not knowing you. Well, let us see if this is so. I do not claim to make a work of art here; I do not care to make one. What interests me is not the tickling of the skin of the aesthetic "sense" ... ticklishness itself being alearned phenomenon, a biased concept ... -- What interests me is an unwashed reproduction of life itself. That this is impossible does not faze me. The very concept of possibility is illusion. What interests me is penetrating to the very groin and bowels of life itself, to the raw unordered -- . What interests me is penetrating -- Sticking it into that wild flame cosmic cunt of the universe, sticking it in her ...
... Sex. O my Lissa! I want you so badly, and yet ... and yet -- It is so short! I live so briefly! You are a goddess, in my dreams, within the waking dreams of sex. Last night when you were sleeping, or maybe not ... you were awake, perhaps, but I was sleeping and then I half-awoke to find my finger in your cunt, and somehow to my sleeping mind your cunt and my finger fribulated through the implicosphere to form a distribution, in the sense of functional analysis ... to form a linear functional, an inner product, over an infinite dimensionl space ... The space, perhaps, was our minds, or my awareness ... my sexual activity mapped this into itself ... the problem was that you cannot multiply two distributions, so the various thrusts could not combine to form one continuous whole, one focal act of making love ... instead it was mere isolated acts, incomprehensible .... And then I awakened, and there was that moment of grief and impiety there when you stopped to put your diaphragm in, my darling, and I waited in the icy sprint of morning for your legs to close around me, and to beg for my free giving, and to beg.... I always have an image before my mind when I'm fucking you, my darling ... some woman somewhere, some pale and nonexistent goddess from some archetypal movie or some light-years distant star of perfection and dark, abysmal incongruity. I can fantasize endlessly about all kinds of things which horrify me in practice; in fact, I sometimes think, about precisely those things which do indeed horrify me in practice, which blankly frighten me. For instance, I can fantasize, in variously subtle ways, about being "tested" by a woman ... She'll let me lick her cunt, and if I give her a sufficiently splendid orgasm, only then she'll let me fuck her. This is possible, I suppose, only because I know she's going to accept me. If there were any "real" indeterminacy I'd be scared to death. In reality, I become upset at least a little at any indication that I'm not doing something correctly, or even that my "performance" is the controlling variable of her enjoyment. On the other hand, of course, it excites me tremendously that she is excited by me ... I always imagine myself touching her with not only hands and flesh and penis, but with glowing spears of love turned away from myself with sparkling infinite affection, flung into her as, indeed, the tongue is flung into the mouth of the newly-met lover for the first time ... that spark-sweet twinge of intuition, of inhibitions long-since lost about a second ago....
TO DANCE TOWARD DEATH
"I walked away!" she sings, smooth, resolutely to herself. "I walked away! I walked away! I walked away!"
She hears a distant voice: "Melissa!"
Perhaps not far enough away quite yet, she giggles while she sighs. Forget it all. Go to college. No, not that quite yet. Not what I'd dreamed for me before it all, before it all. Not yet. Forget it. yet. Forget it. yet. Forget of it. O love, forget of my embraces, my infinitely loving faces, my indescribably graces, forget of everything we shared in lovelovelove. It was a fusion of confusions that we sought -- but I suppose the temperature was not sufficiently high... No: it was perfect in itself. It was beyond time. Something to pull me back into the web of time now. Don't want to turn out like Joe, catatonic, or like Carl, swung back in spite into ridiculously normalcy, or ... God, I don't know about Marcella, she's so weird. She'll be a slave to him, I guess, a slave eternally. That's what she chose in life, and I guess his death has only solidified her decision. Oh, I don't know, maybe it is for the best, in terms of, you know, disseminating his ideas throughout the world and so on so forth, but in fact she's lost herself in all her vigor for his cause. But isn't that how it always is: didn't he, in fact, lose HIMSELF in a stronger sense for the same cause. Oh, but the cause was him. Oh, I don't know. I just don't know at all. It seems to me that it seems to me that it seems to me that it seems to me that it seems to me that it.... I don't understand myself well enough. I've got to forget, I've got to blot, I've got to let it go. Oh yes, yes, yes, it was a sparkling beautiful moment. But all the forces that made it possible are gone. And so I've got to give it one long last kiss goodbye. Oh no, not even that. For even a kiss might suck me right on back into the whirl. I've got to turn my back and walk, walk. walk walk walk away. Not out of hatred, as did Carl, not out of disappointed hatred because it was perfect in itself. Just out of love for my integrity, for myself. I will not be consumed in Armand's fires.
And what of my perfect love, my Zebulon, my Xaj, my Jake, my Mark?
An acid dream, you willy-nilly silly sillyhead! You'll just have to make do with the actual world like the rest of us!
And it doesn't seem so harsh, the hard imperfection of reality as opposed to the precious softling flow, the sweet perfection of that other realm. No not so very bad at all: as Jake and the other Melissa found, they're just two aspects of the same thing, and when you fall too far into one, the other brightly will appeal to you. As a guiding light, or spectre. An acid dream. Reality is the stuff that dreams are made of -- but the acid whirl is the dreams that stuff are made of. It comes full circle, just like everything that ever is. And now I can think this, intellectually, and it seems so pat and processed -- O but how tasty it was, how bold deliciously orgasmic, to throw myself in the whirl, to ride the waves of the unconscious collective on the surfboard of the penis of my dreams. I have the urge to plunge back inside, but it won't do; it won't happen. It can't, because the forces that made it possible are gone. I know what I have to do: not forget it, but go past it, like the death of a wonderful lover and best friend. Exactly like that, yes. yes, yes, exactly. I know what I must do: MIT, as I always planned. MIT or CalTech ... Caltech's further away, might be better. MIT or CalTech, yes, in fact, you see. In fact, in fact, yes, yes, CalTech or MIT! Oh oh, you silly little bimbo! Just put the tangling out of your mind, for just a little while. Goodbye sweet wiggawump! Goodbye goodbydly!
She hears the voice again: "Melissa!"
"Yeah?" she answers, thinking herself awfully silly for responding to a voice inside her mind.
"Melissa! Wake up! Dinnertime!"
It's only mom, she tells herself and breaks into wild laughter. You thought it was the ghost of glory past, but it was mother! "Coming," she answers quietly, and for some reason this strikes her as hilarious.
"You're not yourself lately," her mom says as she sits down at the table. "Staring off into space all the time; sleeping in the middle of the day. If I didn't know you better I'd say you were in love ... or on drugs! Ever since you got mixed up with that Marcella."
"In retrospect," says her father, "I'm not sure that was a good idea."
"It was a wonderful idea," Melissa counters calmly. "It was the best time of my life. I know I'm acting a little weird, but I'll get over it. Someday maybe I'll explain it to you ... but I can't now, you'll just have to accept that. I mean, there are some things you just wouldn't understand."
Her mom laughs understandingly (though actually, of course, she understands not a thing), "You'd be surprised what moms can understand."
Melissa grins inscrutably. "Anyway, mom, I decided I'd like to go to CalTech next year."
"You just want to get away from us!" she giggles.
"No, mom, it really is the best place for biochemical engineering. After...."
After what happened in the last month, I'm absolutely positive that's what interests me. I want to learn how such states can arise, and.... "Never mind. Uh... after dinner I'll bring down the acceptance form; we might as well send it off now. That way I'll get a better dorm room."
"Righto," says pops, and as they gouge at their steak and potatoes she is surprised at how comfortable, how at-home she feels. Shocked at how alienated she once was from the reassuring tenderness of routine. Maybe, she tells herself brightly, the continual birth of the new is not, as Joe envisioned it, the ultimate teleology. She laughs at her own language: refuting him in his own tone. Maybe there's something in the warm, soft reassurance of the real, of the stunningly habitual, of the repeated-ten-thousand-times, of the beginning, end and middle grown into one entangled womb of evergiving from which one never need escape. No, no ... wrong image. A womb is infinitely comfortable, and it's habitual in some ways -- but it's where the new isspringing forth: it stands for this above all other places! And you eventually leave it. But if you get into hard and soft and all that other shit again you'll end up right back in lalalaland with Joey. Forget it!
"I'm getting excited already," she giggles girlishly. "In fact, I was wondering if I could take some summer courses. If I could go to Berkeley for the summer I could finish first year calculus and physics ... well, that'd be a really rough pace, but I think I could handle it."
"What's the hurry?" asks her mom seriously. "This is supposed to be your summer of love, right? Your last summer of freedom."
"If childhood, the closest thing to slavery our society permits outside of prison, is to be known as freedom," retorts Melissa.
"Do you really feel that way?" asks mom.
"I'm just being argumentative. But I would love to go to Berkeley this summer. I'm just in such a hurry to become a real scientist, you know ... there are so many things I want to learn."
"I think that's wonderful," says her father. "I don't see any reason why you shouldn't go. At this rate you'll have your Master's in four years."
"Three," grins Melissa. "No, that's crazy. Maybe I'll get lazy in a couple years, but right now I'm psyched so I might as well take advantage of it."
"That's my girl!"
The teacher, at the blackboard, looks confused. He scratches his chin tempestuously, then paces back and forth, then back and forth again. Then plays with his chalk. He mumbles something about remembering how to do this proof. "I can prove it," says Melissa timidly, reluctantly -- she's only been in the class a week and she still feels like an out-of-towner.
"What's that?" asks the teacher, sweatily, nervously. Their eyes meet and a strange pang of recognition dances through them.
"I can prove it."
"Well then, by all means come up to the board and do so." So she does. The proof of the Chain Rule, one of the basic rules of differential calculus: she read it in the book the night before. Hasn't anyone else read the book? she wonders tensely. Or is this different somehow... no, you silly. Two minutes later, she hears herself talking and wonders who's controlling her voice. "So first you pick this epsilon, then this delta must exist so you know...."
"Excellent!" the teacher grins; she finds herself staring at the hairs on his chest, at the bulge in his pants, at his eyes fixed on her nipples. "Are you sure you've never had this class before?"
"I had calculus in high school," she says breathily, "but we didn't prove things, we just sort of did them."
"Proof because the teacher says so," laughs ... uh, Dr. Logan. No, she recalls, he's not a doctor, just a teaching assistant. After class she comes up to him and asks to make an appointment totalk about some questions she had. "How about now?" he says, and she says "Fine!" She watches his ass dimple in and out as they climb the stairs to his office. She watches closely as he shuts but does not lock the door.
"Okay," he says quietly, settling back in his chair as she scans him intensely from two feet away. He turns his eyes to the open calc text on his desk. "What do you want to know?"
"What are you doing tonight?"
It just came out. Omigod. It just came out. I had something about a simpler way to prove the product rule ... but I saw my error, and I didn't know what to say. Tried to make up another question but I didn't know what to say. So I made a fool of myself. Time to go back to Brooklyn.
"I ... uh," he stutters. "Do...."
"I'm sorry," she says quietly, a tear in her eye. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. It just came out of my mouth, that's all."
"Actually," he continues, "I'm busy tonight; there's a meeting of this art gallery I'm involved with. But tomorrow night I'm free -- would you like to go have a drink or something?"
"That'd be great," she grins. It doesn't seem the time to remind him that she can't have a drink in a bar because she's only seventeen. She'll get a fake ID. And she leans over and yanks him into a kiss. A long, wet, raucous one, which pulls her to his lap and pulls her hand down his shirt, rubbing those coarse delicious hairs, feeling that heaving muscle tone. He thinks: this girl knows what she's doing. She must have had some experience. But hey, she can't be after me for an A, because she'll get one anyway! Before he realizes what is happening, her mouth is on his cock, her hands on his gonads massaging from every possible direction at once; she's gulping his semen with a vigor he's never seen before. Her underwear are in her hand and rapidly on the floor; her shirt is up and her bra is hanging and her little, tender breasts with oversized nipples are batting all across his face. She pulls his pants down past his ass and digs her nails into his cheeks until the blood runs out as she straddles him and bounces him up and down in the creaky old chair. Yes! yes. yes. yes. yet again. Did you really think you could do without it; the shrieking all-containing ultramoan, the automatic ultimately free-willed scream of all-pervading life... did you think you could leave it behind just like that?? Oh yes, yes, In and Out...
... And as the doorhandle creaks and turns she feels the stirrings of an orgasm: first in the soft backs of her knees, then slowly creeping up the tendons in her thigh, up the needle- sharp tension of bold strength that pulls her up and down his straining, throbbing, greedy pulsing stalk; then, tantalizingly, softly tauntingly, up the bumps of her sweaty back, out along her vertebrae, through her drippingbeady armpit and up onto her neck till it itches so badly that she can't resist the urge to scratch it but she does because her fingers are four inches into his butt, and then into her breasts, but not the nipples yet, lighting them like candles and inflating them like helium balloons; as they growstiff and ever stiffer, stiffer than imaginable, stiffer than bone, a greedy, soft and loving bone, strict in its passion so that nothing in its way can long survive, as they inflate into this discipline of undisciplined beauty and carousing pleasure-pain, they carry her body through the atmosphere and eons of empty space onto another world, into the whirled of furious passion and then it spirals through her navel, this perfect high, and seems to bind her to the earth; renders her body a perfect throbbing united essence, a oneness in the grind of love, a void and universe in the central pang of striving, growing, kneading, needing, flowing, sowing fields of every kind and living fifty billion lives in every second; she moans, and the pangs of love come closer to containing, but something's left out, and it's unbearable that everything's not alive in her ... the white-hot multicolored bold ecstatic screaming that is infinite orgasm abandon love abandon fury spirals out of her young tongue so wildly flailing sore from lashing on his face (the professor in the next office hears her scream and suspects danger, barges in); but still there's something left out, and the pounding, oh, grows stronger, and the footsteps of invading reasonpain come pouring in, and yet the indescribably pulsing of the in and out confusion ecstasy union, combination of all opposites in consciousness universal and automatic thrust and tanglewind of love, blown on the wind, and then there's something still abandoned, just one kernel, and the infinite abandondizzy whizzing of the wind, though far more wonderful than othering, is yet the not-beginning of the whirld, and oh the wild orgasming screaming but there isn't quite a peak and footsteps louder come, and is it quite the raging angel that it's meant to be and oh! strange blades of fire and ice and oh! can I explain this vibrous dance of core and chance set flailing free: the thing left out is the spiraling, the dancing of communion, the ultimate orgasm fleeting pain-ecstatic murmuring of the acid dream, of the nothing-seems-quite-solid, of the fluidized existence and the tangled scream of abandon that I forced myself to ... forget? NO! YES TO TANGLE IN WILD ABANDON OH THAT TANGLESCREAM! OH YES TO PULSING CONTRADICTIONARY MADNESS AND THE WHAT-IS-NOT? OF AGES TURNED TO PLAY AND INFINITE GLORY-SPEWING GLADNESSES OF BODIES SPARKED THROUGH COLORLESSLY MULTIHUING NOTHINGNESS ALL WHIGMALEERING UNIVERSE, OH YES TO EVERY LAST SENSATION IN MY EVERY SKIN, MY EVERY ORGAN, EVERY PORE; OH SET MY PANCREAS ON FIRE WITH TONGUES OF FLAME THAT ARE TONGUES OF LUST THAT ARE TONGUES OF EVERY TONGUES OF ECSTASY!!!!! UNTIL I AM NOTHING BUT ONE PULSING HOT OF INCANDESCENT PLEASURE!! TILL I AM ONE ... (and the bodies and the faces of the others tumble in; Mark and Kristina, Xaj and Jake and Josie, a dolphin named Melissa, and Aglaia, and the old man; and she sees, in this perfect moment, that these voices will invade her mind and body as she renders herself vulnerable in the beauty of the pure orgasmic statelessness; that she will be institutionalized for multiple personality, that not for years will her Ben return and let her out, at which point ... what will happen? at which point all the tumblethrough will begin again. But what else can there be? The lull of repetition is a womb and nothing else; andonce you've seen the wild explosion of the patternless and glowing of the effervescent dusky screaming dawn, there's no returning. There's no returning to the womb, only embrace-freedom or die: only embrace-freedom!) And the sensation, indescribably delicious all-containing tantalizing nothing tangled clear incredible, flows through her body now entire, shoots up her nipples, her vagina and her brain in one smooth eruption of infinite wild love and "Logan, we won't put up with that here!" becomes a part of her, and when she feels Logan grow limp, someone says "heart condition", dead, that's just a part of her, and oh the incandescent climbing that becomes glowing its own goal, the infinite frenzy screaming flock of trembling arrows of pure light on piercing nothingness and spiraling trembling delicatelife pain, the dancing tumblebees of the bacchanal of nonexistence, I feel death spread her legs and the battle of the life versus the smooth seductive thighs of Darkest Goddess, that is, ofbirth versus repetition, is thrown like waste away into the purely glory love of bold orgasm, hard and soft and all through every life, and every orgasm a wargasm waged boldly against repetition, on the side of life, and yet no war is ever present, onlythe boldly everpresence and the tingling of what was never sane, the sheer transcendent nonsense pulsating abandon- dizzy acceleration-infinite tongues and cuntlips of the penis of the dawn thrust into dusk and reproducing wombs with laps of wild abandon and the lilyscream of tender breasts in love and every everything, all softly swallowed in the infinite abandon of orgasmscream, lawlessly laugh of living love...
"We've got to leave this den of lunacy tomorrow," Marcella reminds Melissa quietly.
"Remember, this is all hallucination!" chips in Jake. "It may be the longest, most intense acid trip in the history of man, but it isn't reality!"
"I'm surprised to hear you say that, Joe," says Carl quietly, as Jalypsal sucks him off.
"I was joking," Joe retorts laughing. "Reality: what a concept!"
Converted by Andrew Scriven