THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY
THE THIRD TRIP, OR BINAH
October 23, 1970, was the thirty-fifth anniversary of the murder of Arthur Flegenheimer (alias "The Dutchman," alias "Dutch Schultz"), but this dreary lot has no intention of commemorating that occasion. They are the Knights of Christianity United in Faith (the group in Atlantis were called Mauls of Lhuv-Kerapht United for the Truth; see what I mean?) and their president, James J. (Smiling Jim) Treponema, has noted a bearded and therefore suspicious young man among the delegates. Such types were not likely to be KCUF members and might even be dope fiends. Smiling Jim told the Andy Frain ushers to keep a watchful eye on the young man so no "funny business" could occur, and then went to the podium to begin his talk on "Sex Education: Communist Trojan Horse in Our Schools." (In Atlantis, it was "Numbers: Nothingarian Squid-Trap in Our Schools." The same drivel eternally.) The bearded young man, who happened to be Simon Moon, adviser to Teenset magazine on II-luminati affairs and instructor in sexual yoga to numerous black young ladies, observed that he was being observed (which made him think of Heisenberg) and settled back in his chair to doodle pentagons on his note pad. Three rows ahead, a crew-cut middle-aged man, who looked like a suburban Connecticut doctor, also settled back comfortably, awaiting his opportunity: the funny business that he and Simon had in mind would be, he hoped, very funny indeed.
WE SHALL NOT WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
There is a road going due east from Dayton, Ohio, toward New Lebanon and Brookville, and on a small farm off that road lives an excellent man named James V. Riley, who is a sergeant on the Dayton police force. Although he grieves the death of his wife two years back in '67 and worries about his son, who seems to be in some shady business involving frequent travel between New York City and Cuernavaca, the sergeant is basically a cheerful man; but on June 25, 1969, he was a bit out of sorts and generally not up to snuff because of his arthritis and the seemingly endless series of pointless and peculiar questions being asked by the reporter from New York. It didn't make sense- who would want to publish a book about John Dillinger at this late date? And why would such a book deal with Dillinger's dental history?
"You're the same James Riley who was on the Mooresville, Indiana, Force when Dillinger was first arrested, in 1924?" the reporter had begun.
"Yes, and a smart-alecky young punk he was. I don't hold with some of these people who've written books about him and said the long sentence he got back then is what made him bitter and turned him bad. He got the long sentence because he was so snotty to the judge. Not a sign of repentence or remorse, just wisecracks and a know-it-all grin spread all over his face. A bad apple from the start. And always hellbent-for-leather. In a hurry to get God knows where. Sometimes folks used to joke that there were two of him, he'd go through town so fast.
Rushing to his own funeral. Young punks like that never get long enough sentences, if you want my opinion. Might slow them down a bit"
The reporter— what was his name again? James Mallison, hadn't he said?—was impatient. "Yes, yes, I'm sure we need stricter laws and harsher penalties. But what I want to know was where was Dillinger's missing tooth— on the right side or the left side of his face?"
"Saints in Heaven! You expect me to remember that after all these years?"
The reporter dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief— very nervous he seemed to be. "Look, Sergeant, some psychologists say we never forget anything, really; it's all stored somewhere inside our brain. Now, just try to picture John Dillinger as you remember him, with that know-it-all grin as you called it Can you get the picture into focus? Which side is the missing tooth on?"
"Listen, I'm due to go on duty in a few minutes and I can't be—"
Mallison's faced changed, as if in desperation which he was trying to conceal. "Well, let me ask you a different question. Are you a Mason?"
"A Mason? Bejesus, no—I've been a Catholic all my life, I'll have you know."
"Well, did you know any Masons in Mooresville? I mean, to talk to?"
"Why would I be talking to the likes of them, with the terrible things they're always saying about the church?"
The reporter plunged on, "All the books on Dillinger say that the intended victim of that first robbery, the grocer B. F. Morgan, summoned help by giving the Masonic signal of distress. Do you know what that is?"
"You'd have to ask a Mason, and I'm sure they wouldn't be telling. The way they keep their secrets, by the saints, I'm sure even the FBI couldn't find out."
The reporter finally left, but Sergeant Riley, a methodical man, filed his name in memory: James Mallison — or had he said Joseph Mallison? A strange book he claimed to be writing about Dillinger's teeth and the bloody atheistic Freemasons. There was more to this than met the eye, obviously.
LIKE A TREE THAT'S PLANTED BY THE WATER WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
Miskatonic University, in Arkham, Massachusetts, is not a well-known campus by any means, and the few scholarly visitors who come there are an odd lot, drawn usually by the strange collection of occult books given to the Miskatonic Library by the late Dr. Henry Armitage. Miss Doris Horus, the librarian, had never seen quite such a strange visitor though, as this Professor J. D. Mallison who claimed to come from Dayton, Ohio, but spoke with an unmistakable New York accent. Considering his fur-tiveness, she found it no surprise that he spent the whole day (June 26, 1969) pouring over the rare copy of Dr. John Dee's translation of the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred. That was the book most of the queer ones went for; that or The Book of Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage.
Doris didn't like the Necronomicon, although she considered herself an emancipated and free-thinking young woman. There was something sinister, or to be downright honest about it, perverted about that book and not in a nice, exciting way, but in a sick and frightening way. All those strange illustrations, always with five-sided borders just like the Pentagon in Washington, but with those people inside doing all those freaky sex acts with those other creatures who weren't people at all. It was frankly Doris's opinion that old Abdul Alhazred had been smoking some pretty bad grass when he dreamed up those things. Or maybe it was something stronger than grass: she remembered one sentence from the text: "Onlie those who have eaten a certain alkaloid herb, whose name it were wise not to disclose to the unilluminated, maye in the fleshe see a Shoggothe." I wonder what a "Shoggothe" is, Doris thought idly; probably one of those disgusting creatures that the people in the illustrations are doing those horny things with. Yech.
She was glad when J. D. Mallison- finally left and she could return the Necronomicon to its position on the closed shelves. She remembered the brief biography of crazy old Abdul Alhazred that Dr. Armitage had written and also given to the library: "Spent seven years in the desert and claimed to have visited Irem, the city forbidden in the Koran, which Alhazred asserted was of pre-human origin. . . ." Silly! Who was around to build cities before there were people? Those Shoggothes? "An indifferent Moslem, he worshipped beings whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu."
And that insidious line: "According to contemporary historians, Alhazred's death was both tragic and bizarre, since it was asserted that he was eaten alive by an invisible monster in the middle of the market-place." Dr. Armitage had been such a nice old man, Doris remembered, even if his talk about cabalistic numbers and Masonic symbols was a little peculiar at times; why would he collect such icky books by creepy people?
The Internal Revenue Service knows this much about Robert Putney Drake: during the last fiscal year, he earned $23,000,005 on stocks and bonds in various defense corporations, $17,000,523 from the three banks he controlled, and $5,807,400 from various real-estate holdings. They did not know that he also banked (in Switzerland) over $100,000,000 from prostitution, an equal amount from heroin and gambling, and $2,500,000 from pornography. On the other hand, they didn't know either about certain legitimate business expenses which he had not cared to claim, including more than $5,000,000 in bribes to various legislators, judges and police officials, in all 50 states in order to maintain the laws which made men's vices so profitable to him, and $50,000 to Knights of Christianity United in Faith as a last-ditch effort to stave off total legalization of pornography and the collapse of that part of his empire.
"What the deuce do you make of this?" Barney Muldoon asked. He was holding an amulet in his hand. "Found it in the bedroom," he explained, holding it for Saul to examine the strange design:
"Part of it is Chinese," Saul said thoughtfully. "The basic design— two interlocking commas, one pointing up and the other down. It means that opposites are equal."
"And what does that mean?" Muldoon asked sarcastically. "Opposites are opposite, not equal. You'd have to be a Chinaman to think otherwise."
Saul ignored the comment. "But the pentagon isn't in the Chinese design— and neither is the apple with the K in it. . . ." Suddenly, he grinned. "Wait, I'll bet I know what that is. It's from Greek mythology. There was a banquet on Olympus, and Eris wasn't invited, because she was the Goddess of Discord and always made trouble. So, to get even, she made more trouble: she created a beautiful golden apple and wrote on it Kallisti. That means 'for the prettiest one' in Greek. It's what the K stands for, obviously. Then she rolled it into the banquet hall, and, naturally, all the goddesses there immediately claimed it, each one saying that she was 'the prettiest one.' Finally, old man Zeus himself, to settle the squabble, allowed Paris to decide which goddess was the prettiest and should get the apple. He chose Aphrodite, and as a reward she gave him an opportunity to kidnap Helen, which led to the Trojan War."
"Very interesting," Muldoon said. "And does that tell us what Joseph Malik knew about the assassinations of the Kennedys and this Illuminati bunch and why his office was blown up? Or where he's disappeared to?"
"Well, no," Saul said, "but it's nice to find something in this case that I can recognize. I just wish I knew what the pentagon means, too. . . ."
"Let's look at the rest of the memos," Muldoon suggested.
The next memo, however, stopped them cold:
"This one has to be some damned hippie or yippie hoax," Muldoon said after a long pause. But he sounded uncertain.
"Part of it is," Saul said thoughtfully keeping certain thoughts to himself. "Typical hippie psychology: mixing truth and fantasy to blow the fuses of the Establishment. The Elders of Zion section is just a parody of Nazi ideology. If there really was a Jewish conspiracy to run the world, my rabbi would have let me in on it by now. I contribute enough to the schule."
"My brother's a Jesuit," Muldoon added, pointing at the Society of Jesus square, "and he never invited me into any worldwide conspiracy."
"But this part is almost plausible," Saul said, pointing to the Sphere of Aftermath. "Aga Khan is the head of the Ishmaelian sect of Islam, and that sect was founded by Hassan i Sabbah, the 'old man of the mountains' who led the Hashishism in the eleventh century. Adam Weishaupt is supposed to have originated the Bavarian Illuminati after studying Sabbah, according to the third memo, so this part fits together— and Hassan i Sabbah is supposed to be the first one to introduce marijuana and hashish to the Western world, from India. That ties in with Weishaupt's growing hemp and Washington's having a big hemp crop at Mount Vernon."
"Wait a minute. Look at how the whole design revolves around the pentagon. Everything else sort of grows out of it"
"So? You think the Defense Department is the international hub of the Illuminati conspiracy?"
"Let's just read the rest of the memos," Muldoon suggested.
(The Indian Agent at the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin knows this: from the time Billie Freschette returned there until her death in 1968, she received mysterious monthly checks from Switzerland. He thinks he knows the explanation; despite all stories to the contrary, Billie did help to betray Dillinger and this is the payoff. He is convinced of this. He is also quite wrong.)
". . . children seven and eight years old," Smiling Jim Trepomena is telling the KCUF audience, "are talking about penises and vaginas—and using those very words! Now, is this an accident? Let me quote you Lenin's own words...." Simon yawns.
Banana-Nose Maldonado evidently had his own brand of sentimentality or superstition, and in 1936 he ordered his son, a priest, to say one hundred masses for the salvation of the Dutchman's soul. Even years afterward, he would defend the Dutchman in conversation: "He was OK, Dutch was, if you didn't cross him. If you did, forget it; you were finished. He was almost a Siciliano about that. Otherwise, he was a good businessman, and the first one with a real CPA mind in the whole organization. If he hadn't gotten that crazy-head idea about gunning down Tom Dewey, he'd still be a big man. I told him myself. 'You kill Dewey,' I said, 'and the shit hits the fan everywhere. The boys won't take the risk; Lucky and the Butcher want to cowboy you right now.' But he wouldn't listen. 'Nobody fucks with me,' he said. 'I don't care if his name is Dewey, Looey, or Phooey. He dies' A real stubborn German Jew. You couldn't talk to him. I even told him how Capone helped set up Dillinger for the Feds just because of the heat those bank-heists were bringing down.
You know what he said? He said: 'You tell Al that Dillinger was a lone wolf. I have my own pack.' Too bad, too bad, too bad. I'll light another candle for him at church Sunday."
HAND IN HAND TOGETHER WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
Rebecca Goodman closes her book wearily and stares into space, thinking about Babylon. Her eyes focus suddenly on the statue Saul had bought her for her last birthday: the mermaid of Copenhagen. How many Danes, she wonders, know that this is one form of representation of the Babylonian sex goddess Ishtar? (In Central Park, Perri the squirrel is beginning to hunt for the day's food. A French poodle, held on a leash by a mink-coated lady, barks at him, and he runs three times around a tree.) George Dorn looks at the face of a corpse: it is his own face. "In Wyoming, after one sex-education class in a high school, the teacher was raped by seventeen boys. She said later she would never teach sex in school again." Making sure he is alone in the Meditation Room of the UN building, the man calling himself Frank Sullivan quickly moves the black plinth aside and descends the hidden stairs into the tunnel. He is thinking, whimsically, that hardly anybody realizes that the shape of the room is the same as the truncated pyramid on the dollar bill, or guesses what that means. "In Wilmette, Illinois, an 8-year-old boy came home from a sensitivity training class and tried to have intercourse with his 4-year-old sister." Simon gave up on his pentagons and began doodling pyramids instead.
Above, beyond Joe Malik's window, Saul Goodman gave up on the line of thought which had led him to surmise that the Illuminati were a front for the International Psychoanalytical Society, conspiring to drive everyone paranoid, and turned back to the desk and the memos. Barney Muldoon came in from the bedroom, carrying a strange amulet, and asked, "What do you make of this?" Saul looked at a design of an apple and a pentagon . . . and, several years earlier, Simon Moon looked at the same medallion.
"They call it the Sacred Chao," Padre Pederastia said. They sat alone at a table pulled off to the corner; the Friendly Stranger was the same as ever, except that a new group, the American Medical Association (consisting, naturally, of four kids from Germany), had replaced H. P. Lovecraft in the back room. (Nobody knew that the AMA was going to become the world's most popular rock group within a year, but Simon already thought they were superheavy). Padre Pederastia was, as on the night Simon met Miss Mao, very serious and hardly camping at all.
"Sacred Cow?" Simon asked.
"It's pronounced that way, but you spell it c-h-a-o. A chao is a single unit of chaos, they figure." The Padre smiled.
"Too much, they're nuttier than the SSS," Simon objected.
"Never underestimate absurdity, it is one door to the Imagination. Do I have to remind you of that?"
"We have an alliance with them?" Simon asked.
"The JAMs can't do it alone. Yes, we have an alliance, as long as it profits both parties. John— Mr. Sullivan himself authorized this."
"OK. What do they call themselves?"
"The LDD." The Padre permitted himself a smile. "New members are told the initials stand for Legion of Dynamic Discord. Later on, quite often, the leader, a most fetching scoundrel and madman named Celine, sometimes tells them it really stands for Little Deluded Dupes. That's the pans asinorum, or an early pans asinorum, in Celine's System. He judges them by how they react to that."
"Celine's System?" Simon asked warily.
"It leads to the same destination as ours— more or less— by a somewhat wilder and woollier path."
"Right-hand or left-hand path?"
"Right-hand," the priest said. "All absurdist systems are right-hand. Well, almost all. They don't invoke You-Know-Who under any circumstances. They rely on Discordia... do you remember your Roman myths?
"Enough to know that Discordia is just the Latin equivalent of Eris. They're part of the Erisian Liberation Front, then?" Simon was beginning to wish he were stoned; these conspiratorial conversations always made more sense when he was slightly high. He wondered how people like the President of the U.S. or the Chairman of the Board of GM were able to plot such intricate games without being on a trip at the time. Or did they take enough tranquilizers to produce a similar effect?
"No," the priest said flatly. "Don't ever make that mistake. ELF is a much more, um, esoteric outfit than the LDD. Celine is on the activist side, like us. Some of his capers make Morituri or God's Lightning look like Trappists by comparison. No, ELF will never get on Mr. Celine's trip."
"He's got an absurdist yoga and an activist ethic?" Simon reflected. "The two don't mix."
"Celine is a walking contradiction. Look at his symbol again."
"I've been looking at it and that pentagon worries me. Are you sure he's on our side?"
The American Medical Association came to some kind of erotic or musical climax and the priest's answer was drowned out. "What?" Simon asked, after the applause died down.
"I said," Padre Pederastia whispered, "that we're never sure anybody is on our side. Uncertainty is the name of the game."
At the bottom of the page was a note in pencil, scrawled with a decisive masculine hand. It said: "In the beginning was the Word and it was written by a baboon."
Scrawled on the bottom of this memo was a series of jottings in the same masculine hand (Malik's, Saul guessed) that had jotted the baboon reference on memo 12. The jottings said:
"Oh, Christ," Barney groaned. "Oh, Mary and Joseph. Oh, shit. We'll end up either become mystics or going crazy before this case is over. If there's any difference."
"The Order of DeMolay is a Masonic society for boys," Saul commented helpfully. "I don't know what the Atus of Tahuti are, but that sounds Egyptian. Taro, usually spelled t-a-r-o-t, is the deck of cards Gypsy fortune tellers use— and the word 'Gypsy' means Egyptian. Tora is the Law, in Hebrew. We keep coming back to something that has roots in both Jewish mysticism and Egyptian magic. . . ."
"The Knights Templar were kicked out of the church," Barney said, "for trying to combine Christian and Moslem ideas. Last year, my brother— the Jesuit— gave a lecture about how modern ideas are just old heresies from the Middle Ages warmed over. I had to go for politeness' sake. I remember something else he said about the Templars. They were engaged in what he called 'unnatural sex acts.' In other words, they were faggots. Do you get the impression that all these groups related to the Illuminati are all male? Maybe the big secret they're hiding so fanatically is that they're all some vast worldwide homosexual plot. I've heard show-biz people complain about what they call the 'homintern,' a homo organization that tries to keep all the best jobs for other fruits. How does that sound?"
"It sounds plausible," Saul said ironically. "But it also sounds plausible to say the Illuminati is a Jewish conspiracy, a Catholic conspiracy, a Masonic conspiracy, a communist conspiracy, a banker's conspiracy, and I suppose we'll eventually find evidence to suggest it's an interplanetary scheme masterminded from Mars or Venus. Don't you see, Barney? Whatever they're really up to, they keep creating masks so all sorts of scapegoat groups will get the blame for being the 'real' Illuminati." He shook his head dismally. "They're smart enough to know they can't operate indefinitely without a few people eventually realizing something's there, so they've taken that into account and arranged for an inquisitive outsider to get all sorts of wrong ideas about who they are."
"They're dogs," Muldoon said. "Intelligent talking dogs from the dog star, Sirius. They came here and ate Malik. Just like they ate that guy in Kansas City, except that time they didn't get to finish the job." He turned back and read from memo 8: "'. . . with his throat torn as if by the talons of some enormous beast. No animal was reported missing from any of the local zoos.'" He grinned. "Lord God, I'm almost ready to believe it."
"They're werewolves." Saul answered, grinning also. "The pentagon is the symbol of the werewolf. Look at the Late Late Show some tune."
"That's the pentagram, not the pentagon." Barney lit a cigarette, adding. "This is really getting on our nerves, isn't it?"
Saul looked up wearily and glanced around the apartment almost as if he were looking for its absent owner. "Joseph Malik," he said aloud, "what can of worms have you opened? And how far back does it go?"
WE SHALL NOT
WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
In fact, for Joseph Malik the beginning was several years earlier, in a medley of teargas, hymn singing, billy clubs, and obscenity, all of which were provoked by the imminent nomination for President of a man named Hubert Horatio Humphrey. It began in Lincoln Park on the night of August 25, 1968, while Joe was waiting to be teargassed. He did not know then that anything was beginning; he was only conscious, in an acid, gut-sour way, of what was ending: his own faith in the Democratic party.
He was sitting with the Concerned Clergymen under the cross they had erected. He was thinking, bitterly, that they should have erected a tombstone instead. It should have said: Here lies the New Deal.
Here lies the belief that all Evil is on the other side, among the reactionaries and Ku Kluxers. Here lies twenty years of the hopes and dreams and sweat and blood of Joseph Wendall Malik. Here lies American Liberalism, clubbed to death by Chicago's heroic peace officers.
"They're coming," a voice near him said suddenly. The Concerned Clergymen immediately began singing, "We shall not be moved."
"We'll be moved, all right," a dry sardonic, W.C. Fields voice said quietly. "When the teargas hits, we'll be moved." Joe recognized the speaker: it was novelist William Burroughs with his usual poker face, utterly without anger or contempt or indignation or hope or faith or any emotion Joe could understand. But he sat there, making his own protest against Hubert Horatio Humphrey by placing his body in front of Chicago's police, for reasons Joe could not understand.
How, Joe wondered, can a man have courage without faith, without belief? Burroughs believed in nothing, and yet there he sat stubborn as Luther. Joe had always had faith in something—Roman Catholicism, long ago, then Trotskyism at college, then for nearly two decades mainstream liberalism (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s, "Vital Center") and now, with that dead, he was trying desperately to summon up faith in the motley crowd of dope-and-as-trology-obsessed Yippies, Black Maoists, old-line hardcore pacifists, and arrogantly dogmatic SDS kids who had come to Chicago to protest a rigged convention and were being beaten and brutalized unspeakably for it.
Alien Ginsberg— sitting amid a huddle of Yippies off to the right— began chanting again, as he had all evening: "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. . . ." Ginsberg believed; he believed in everything— in democracy, in socialism, in communism, in anarchism, in Ezra Pound's idealistic variety of fascist economics, in Buckminster Fuller's technological Utopia, in D. H. Lawrence's return to preindustrial pastoralism, and in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Voodoo, astrology magic; but, above all, in the natural goodness of man.
The natural goodness of man . . . Joe hadn't fully believed in that, since Buchenwald was revealed to the world in 1944, when he was seventeen.
"KILL! KILL! KILL!" came the chant of the police,—exactly like the night before, the same neolithic scream of rage that signaled the beginning of the first massacre. They were coming, clubs in hand, spraying the teargas before them. "KILL! KILL! KILL!"
Auschwitz, U.S.A., Joe thought, sickened. If they had been issued Zyklon B along with the teargas and Mace, they would be using it just as happily.
Slowly, the Concerned Clergymen came to their feet, holding dampened handkerchiefs to their faces. Unarmed and helpless, they prepared to hold their ground as long as possible before the inevitable retreat. A moral victory, Joe thought bitterly: All we ever achieve are moral victories. The immoral brutes win the real victories.
"All hail Discordia," said a voice among the clergymen— a bearded young man named Simon, who had been arguing in favor of anarchism against some SDS Maoists earlier in the day.
And that was the last sentence Joe Malik remembered clearly, for it was gas and clubs and screams and blood from then on. He had no way of guessing, at the time, that hearing that sentence was the most important thing that happened to him in Lincoln Park.
(Harry Coin curls his long body into a knot of tension, resting on his elbows and sighting the Remington rifle carefully, as the motorcade passes the Book Depository and heads toward his perch on the triple underpass. He could see Bernard Barker from the CIA down on the grassy knoll. If he carried this off right, they promised him more jobs; it would be the end of petty crime for him, the beginning of big-time money. In a way he was sorry: Kennedy seemed like a nice enough young fellow—Harry would like to make it with both him and that hot-looking wife of his at the same tune— but money talks and sentiment is only for fools. He released the bolt action, ignoring the sudden barking of a dog, and took aim— just as the three shots resounded from the grassy knoll.
"Jesus Motherfuckin' Christ," he said; and then he caught the glint of the rifle in the Book Depository window. Great God Almighty, how the fuck many of us are there here?" he cried out, scampering to his feet and starting to run.)
It was almost a year after being clubbed—June 22, 1969—that Joe returned to Chicago, to witness another rigged convention, to suffer further disillusionment, to meet Simon once more and to hear the mysterious phrase "All hail Discordia" again.
The convention this time was the last ever held by the Students for a Democratic Society, and from the first hour after it opened, Joe realized that the Progressive Labor faction had stacked all the cards in advance. It was the Democratic party all over again— and it would have been equally bloody if the PL boys had their own police force to "deal with" the dissenters known then as RYM-I and RYM-II. Lacking that factor, the smoldering violence remained purely verbal, but when it was all over another part of Joe Malik was dead and his faith in the natural goodness of man was eroded still further. And so he found himself, aimlessly searching for something that was not totally corrupt, attending the Anarchist Caucus at the old Wobbly Hall on North Halsted Street.
Joe knew nothing about anarchism, except that several famous anarchists—Parsons and Spies of Chicago's Hay-market riot in 1888, Sacco and Vanzetti in Massachusetts, and the Wobbly's own poet-laureate, Joe Hill— had been executed for murders which they apparently hadn't really committed. Beyond that, anarchists wanted to abolish government— a proposition so evidently absurd that Joe had never bothered to read any of their theoretical or polemical works. Now, however, eating the maggoty meat of his growing disillusionment with every conventional approach to politics, he began to listen to the Wobblies and other anarchists with acute curiosity. After all, the words of his favorite fictional hero, "When you have eliminated all other possibilities, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true."
The anarchists, Joe found, were not going to quit SDS—"We'll stay in and do some righteous ass-kicking," one of them said, to the applause and cheers of the others.
Beyond that, however, they seemed to be in a welter of ideological disagreement. Gradually, he began to identify the conflicting positions expressed: the individualist-anarchists, who sounded like right-wing Republicans (except that they wanted to get rid of all functions of government); the anarcho-syndicalists and Wobblies, who sounded like Marxists (except that they wanted to get rid of all functions of government); the anarcho-pacifists, who sounded like Gandhi and Martin Luther King (except that they wanted to get rid of all functions of government); and a group who were dubbed, rather affectionately, "the Crazies"—whose position was utterly unintelligible. Simon was among the Crazies.
In a speech that Joe followed only with difficulty, Simon declared that "cultural revolution" was more important than political revolution; that Bugs Bunny should be adopted as the symbol of anarchists everywhere; that Hoffman's discovery of LSD in 1943 was a manifestation of direct intervention by God in human affairs; that the nomination of the boar hog Pigasus for President of the United States by the Yippies had been the most "transcendentally lucid" political act of the twentieth century; and that "mass orgies of pot-smoking and fucking, on every street-corner" was the most practical next step in liberating the world from tyranny. He also urged deep study of the tarot, "to fight the real enemy with their own weapons," whatever that meant. He was launching into a peroration about the mystic significance of the number 23— pointing out that 2 plus 3 equals 5, the pentad within which the Devil can be invoked "as for example in a pentacle or at the Pentagon building in Washington," while 2 divided by 3 equals 0.666, "the Number of The Beast, according to that freaked-out Revelation of Saint John the Mushroom-head," that 23 itself was present esoterically "because of its conspicuous exoteric absence" in the number series represented by the Wobbly Hall address, which was 2422 North Halsted— and that the dates of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, November 22 and 24, also had a conspicuous 23 absent in between them— when he finally was shouted down, the conversation returned to a more mundane level.
Half in whimsy and half in despair, Joe decided to perform one of his chronic acts of faith and convince himself, at least for a while, that there was some kind of meaning in Simon's ramblings. His equally chronic skepticism, he knew, would soon enough reassert itself.
"What the world calls sanity has led us to the present planetary crises," Simon had said, "and insanity is the only viable alternative." That was a paradox worth some kind of consideration.
"About that 23," Joe said, approaching Simon tentatively after the meeting broke up.
"It's everywhere," was the instant reply. "I just started to scratch the surface. All the great anarchists died on the 23rd day of some month or other—Sacco and Vanzetti on August 23, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow on May 23, Dutch on October 23—and Vince Coll was 23 years old when he was shot on 23rd Street—and even though John Dillinger died on the 22nd of July, if you look it up, like I did, in Toland's book, The Dillinger Days, you'll find he couldn't get away from the 23 Principle, because 23 other people died that night in Chicago, too, all from heat prostration. 'Nova heat moving in,' dig? And the world began on October 23, in 4004 B.C., according to Bishop Usher, and the Hungarian Revolution started on October 23, too, and Harpo Marx was born on November 23, and—"
There was more of it, much more, and Joe patiently listened to all of it, determined to continue his experiment in applied schizophrenia at least for this one evening. They retired to a nearby restaurant, the Seminary, on Fullerton Street, and Simon rambled on, over beers, proceeding to the mystic significance of the letter W—23rd in the alphabet— and its presence in the words "woman" and "womb" as well as in the shape of the feminine breasts and spread-eagle legs of the copulating female. He even found some mystic meaning in the W in Washington, but was strangely evasive about explicating this.
"So, you see," Simon was explaining when the restaurant was starting to close, "the whole key to liberation is magic. Anarchism remains tied to politics, and remains a form of death like all other politics, until it breaks free from the defined 'reality' of capitalist society and creates its own reality. A pig for President. Acid in the water supply. Fucking in the streets. Making the totally impossible become the eternally possible. Reality is thermoplastic, not thermosetting, you know: I mean you can reprogram it much more than people realize. The hex hoax— original sin, logical positivism, those restriction and constriction myths— all that's based on a thermosetting reality. Christ, man, there are limits, of course— nobody is nutty enough to deny that—but the limits are nowhere near as rigid as we've been taught to believe. It's much closer to the truth to say there are no practical limits at all and reality is whatever people decide to make it. But we've been on one restriction kick after another for a couple thousand years now, the world's longest head-trip, and it takes real negative entropy to shake up the foundations. This isn't shit; I've got a degree in mathematics, man."
"I studied engineering myself, a long time ago." Joe said. "I realize that part of what you say is true. . . ."
"It's all true. The land belongs to the landlords, right now, because of magic. People worship the deeds in the government offices, and they won't dare move onto a square of ground if one of the deeds says somebody else owns it. It's a head-trip, a kind of magic, and you need the opposite magic to lift the curse. You need shock elements to break up and disorganize the chains of command in the brain, the 'mind-forg'd manacles' that Blake wrote about. That's the unpredictable elements, dads: the erratic, the erotic, the Eristic. Tim Leary said it: 'People have to go out of their minds before they can come to their senses.' They can't feel and touch and smell the real earth, man, as long as the manacles in the cortex tell them it belongs to somebody else. If you don't want to call it magic, call it counter-conditioning, but the principle is the same. Breaking up the trip society laid on us and starting our own trip. Bringing back old realities that are supposed to be dead. Creating new realities. Astrology, demons, lifting poetry off of the written page into the acts of your daily life. Surrealism, dig? Antonin Artaud and Andre Breton put it in a nutshell in the First Surrealist Manifesto: 'total transformation of mind, and all that resembles it.' They knew all about the Illuminated Lodge, founded in Munich in 1923, and that it controlled Wall Street and Hitler and Stalin, through witchcraft. We gotta get into witchcraft ourselves to undo the hex they've cast on everybody's mind. All hail Discordia! Do you read me?"
When they finally parted, and Joe headed back for his hotel, the spell ended. I've been listening to a spaced-out acid-head all night, Joe thought in his cab headed south toward the Loop, and almost managing to believe him. If I keep on with this little experiment, I will believe him. And that's how insanity always begins: you find reality unbearable and start manufacturing a fantasy alternative. With an effort of will, he forced himself back into his usual framework; no matter how cruel reality was, Joe Malik would face it and would not follow the Yippies and Crazies in the joy ride to Cloud Cuckoo Land.
But when he arrived at his hotel door, and noticed for the first time that he had Room 23, he had to fight the impulse to call Simon on the phone and tell him about the latest invasion of surrealism into the real world.
And he lay awake in his bed for hours remembering 23s that had occurred in his own life . . . and wondering about the origin of that mysterious bit of 1929 slang, "23 Skidoo. ..."
After being lost for an hour in Hitler's old neighborhood, Clark Kent and His Supermen finally found Ludwigstrasse and got out of Munich. "About forty miles and we'll be in Ingolstadt," Kent-Mohammed-Pearson said. "At last," one of the Supermen groaned. Just then a tiny Volkswagen inched past their VW bus, like an infant running ahead of its mother, and Kent looked bemused. "Did you check out that cat at the wheel? I saw him once before, and never forgot it because he was acting so weird. It was in Mexico City. Funny seeing him again, halfway around the world and umpteen years later." "Go catch him," another Superman commented. "With the AMA and the Trashers and other heavy groups we're going to get buried alive. Let's make sure that at least he knows we were in Ingolstadt for this gig."