September 11, 2013 - September 4, 2013
Thursday, August 26, 2010
A Decent Interval
The ultimate liberal symbol
REDUX. With all the other terrible stuff that's going on right now,
I realize people might not be in the mood for a look back at Teddy
Kennedy, but he's been in the col' col' ground for a while now, and
maybe it's time to consider what his real legacy is.
Hmmm? Ya think? How about "perfect symbol of the left"? No way one
could have pointed this out a year ago when he actually died, because
conservatives are such docile wimps that it would never occur to them
to call a spade a spade, and especially not when great conservative
moralists like Orange Hatch loved him so much they just couldn't stand
it when he died: 'O Thou Great Lberal Lion.' Because if there's one
thing conservatives are good at, it's abandoning all our principles in
the face of some event that allows us to weep on our sleeves like some
wholesome whore at the State Fair.
Unless Instapunk, as usual, has always been pretty much right
about everything. Including the fact that Teddy Kennedy was the perfect
embodiment of all modern liberal political policy. That this fat, rich,
spoiled, corrupt, gluttonous, drunken piece of shit was notable only for having
been the ultimate exemplar of what's laughingly considered the party
of the people. That this woman-abusing sociopathic narcissist, who never held down a
real, work-requiring job in his worthless life, who destroyed the life
of his first wife and solicited underage teenagers for sex from the
window of his limousine, while making the lives of his own children a
livng hell, who is nevertheless considered an icon of liberal politics
and liberal vision and liberal leadership -- uh, uh, VOMIT -- was
Well, he wasn't. Enough time has elapsed that we can now tell the
truth. He was a piece of shit. A turd. And a smelly one at that.
But he was a symbol. From his
manboobs and ballooning gluttony to his inarticulate screamings, he was
everything the liberal wing of the Democratic Party has been for two
generations -- a hypocritical epitome of voracious appetites, old
ideas, old disproven policies, old causes, and old self-justifications
for a life that anybody but a committed liberal would regard as a
wasted sprawl in a gutterful of deadly sins.
Couldn't have said this a year ago. But if he really was a Catholic, he's in Hell now.
You don't get to support 30 million abortions and still be a Catholic
in good standing. You don't get to wait for a young woman to die
underwater in a slowly disappearing air pocket while you noodle out your political career, FOR HOURS, and still go to heaven yourself, not even if you're a Shanty Irish Kennedy.
They laid him in repose and millions came to watch and adore him.
They're just lucky he didn't burst into fucking flames on his
What I couldn't say a year ago I'll say now. Teddy Kennedy was pure and
absolute slime. We don't get to judge? Oh yes we do. God doesn't want
us to be neutral about murderers. Or did you miss that part of the Old
Teddy Kennedy is so-called
liberal America. Think about that. Think
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
He loves it. Who doesn't? But the evidence
suggests he's cut off from actual feelings. Amputee.
RUN FOR A SECOND TERM? RIGHT. I can sense that people are
distressed about the lack of Obama
coverage here. He's mooning around at Martha's Vineyard, and the pundit
pages are full of autopsies of his failed presidency and even those who
are predicting he won't run for a second term. Less than two years in,
folks. Don't believe the post-mortems. He's going to run again. He
might even win.
Why? The MSM is still on his side. Think of them as the suicide bombers
of the left. The power elites in government and universities and (did
we mention?) government are still on his side. The feckless and
dependent are still on his side, even the ones who can't get jobs right
now, because they still think the government can tell business to hire
the incompetent and indigent.
But here's the big question. Are the African-Americans still on his
side? He won't be able to win without them. All the polls show they
still like him, but will they actually come out to vote like last time?
I think that's an open question. There are at least a couple reasons
Michelle's high life is not a problem. Nobody resents Shaq. This is
America. When you hit the big time, live big.
It doesn't matter that the president talks white to white fund-raising
audiences and black on the stump. We all gotta do what we gotta do.
It doesn't even matter that the current unemployment situation hits
African-Americans the hardest. Or does it?
Thing is, this president isn't really
an African-American. Now is he? In reality he's an American-African.
Who just might be a muslim.
There are no polls showing what African-American Christians -- the
overwhelming majority -- think of black muslims. There's no poll
breakout I've seen of how many of the approximately 20 percent of
Americans who think Obama is a muslim are African-American. And there's
no poll showing what African-Americans might think of a politician whom
they believe to be muslim but NOT a black muslim. Not Malcolm X but
Osama Bin Laden.
You see, there's a potential tear in the monolithic support Obama has
received from African-Americans. Because there's always been this big
asterisk nobody wants to talk about. Obama is not African-American.
He's a half-white African who isn't doing all that damn much to put
Americans back to work. And if you woke him up in the middle of the
night, would he be able to recognize and identify this stuff?
Rock was born to free African-American parents in Salem, New Jersey. Not much is known of
his childhood. He taught in schools in New Jersey
from 1844 to 1848. While teaching, he studied medicine. He apprenticed
to two white doctors based in Salem: Dr. Shaw and Dr. Gibson; studying
with practicing physicians was a common way to gain medical training.
Rock also sought entrance into medical school in 1848.He
transferred into the field of dentistry and opened a dental practice
in 1850. Finally gaining admittance to medical school, Rock graduated
from American Medical College in Philadelphia
in 1852. At the age of 27, he was a teacher, dentist, and physician. Of
course, the first black physician in the U.S. was James Derham. And
the first black attorney to argue before the Supreme Court was James
Oh. You don't like tap dancing? Paternalistic and racist, is it? Does
that mean Gregory Hines wasn't
worth admiring? You tell me. Perhaps you'd prefer the first
black novelist in this awful country?
points. No statue to me yet, and she has two nice points.
But, you see, this is all African-American stuff, and from the hidden
corners at that. Names you mostly don't know if you're not actually
from here. Obama know any of it? I doubt it. And, no, I'm not a
birther. I'm just reminding you that
Obama is from Hawaii, and he's probably learned about African-American
culture the way most white
people have, by mass media osmosis and by outsider curiosity. His taste
in African-American art is certainly suspect. He prefers this...
Which is to say he's faking it. Paintings aren't about typography.
They're about paint, vitally deployed.
Kinda brings me back to my original question. Will African-Americans
stick with him the next time around? We'll see.
AMC Coming On
I don't know if you get the American Movie Channel in your neck of the
woods, but there's something very interesting going on there. This post
is sort of half a blessing, but it's a fervent half if half is all it
is. AllahPundit is fired up about a new AMC series called The Walking Dead, which I know
for a fact Mrs. CP will never watch, but I might if it shows up On-Demand at
Comcast. It's got elements of The Road
Warrior and one of the more stellar cast members from the
short-lived but highly original series Jericho (now re-running at odd
times on SyFy).
Which I'm seizing on as an excuse for a very specific recommendation
and a more general exhortation to pay close attention to what AMC is up
The specific recommendation is the new series Rubicon, previewed in the trailer
above. It's a spy story, but not in the James Bond or Bourne mold. More
like John Le Carre but without his hatred of everyone and everything
that's ever lived. It's an old-fashioned, slow-developing espionage
puzzle blessedly devoid of clicking keyboards and flashing computer
graphics. The chief props are paper files, books, and note cards (plus
one classic Norton motorcycle I once owned one of myself). The acting
is extraordinary all round. Standouts include James Badge Dale in the
lead role of an intelligence analyst not trained as an operative,
Arliss Howard as his enigmatic boss, and the truly
can't-look-away-from-him-when-he's-onscreen Michael Cristopher
(Tony-winning writer and director) as the maybe villain of the piece.
Oh. And Miranda Richardson too. You spend a lot of time watching James
Dale thinking, and you're completely okay with that. I know I've
recommended more than a few shows to our readership, but this is the
first TV series I'm actually pissed off about the fact that I have to
wait for the next episode. That's how good it is. Only problem is, I'm
not sure you'll be able to catch up four episodes into it. (Lost chickens coming home to roost?
Maybe.) And coincidentally (?), the latest major addition to the cast
is another alum of the aforesaid Jericho.
I'm hooked. It may turn out to be another liberal suitcase bomb against
the Republican establishment, but I actually don't care for once.
THAT's how good it is.
I first became aware of AMC's artistic ambitions with the western
miniseries Broken Trail, starring Robert
Duvall and Thomas Haden Church. I was very impressed by that effort. It
seemed to me they were looking to honor the tradition of old-time
classic movies within the freer time limits offered by television. They
deliberately ignored the supposed bang-bang-bang action requirement of
alphabet network series television, drew a deep breath, and hearkened
back to the slower pace of Shane
and The Searchers. As
if they were rediscovering character development, setting, mood,
cinematography, and, well, composition. They realized television gave
you the room within which to do these things, if you only had the nerve
to learn from the old masters and take the time to do it without
marquee faces, one-liners and cheap climaxes.
I said earlier that this is only half a blessing. I've tried and failed
to appreciate such critically acclaimed AMC series as Breaking Bad and Mad Men. They don't do it for me.
But I accept that I'm simply not the intended audience for those works.
And I'm guessing they're drawing praise for the same reasons I like Broken Trail and Rubicon -- thoughtful writing,
skilled actors rather than stars, and the kind of attention to
cinematic detail that results in something more like a long-running
movie than a TV show.
My opinion. For what it's worth.
just disappears. She was crazy. Never part of the story.
She just thought she was. In her crazy crazy ether dreams.
. Penny is banned. Hate to have to do
it. But it's necessary. As long
as she focused her bitterness and incoherent nastiness on me
personally, we could absorb it. But she's moved on to attack other
people we care about. Not a bad woman, perhaps, but a woman who needed
to be put on a train and sent away.
"I wasn't quite as sick as I made
out." What needs to be done needs to be
She's on the train now. We'd never shoot
a woman. Unless she tries to come back.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The Full Business: Ron Paul
THE DAFT DOCTOR.
Boss wants me to post. I don't even remember the last time I posted. Let's see how rusty I am. Is this even the right website?
We at InstaPunk have taken shots at Ron Paul before, but we've never deigned to give everyone's favorite Republitarian the full business. The above video, posted yesterday by the Capitalism page on FaceBook, brings the doctor as close to relevance as he's likely to get anytime soon. Batter up!
The interview starts of strong enough, and Paul comes across as fairly lucid-- for a politician, at least. The best line of the piece starts at 4:42: "We have lost our understanding and confidence in how free markets work." He's right. And it explains a good chunk of this loon's appeal. Economics, and specifically capitalism, has been almost enitrely withheld from the last few generations. It simply hasn't been transmitted. It's been available, sure, but anyone who's wanted to learn it has, essentially, had to educate themselves from scratch. It should have been taught alongside history, and math, and cursive. In every year of K through 12. But it wasn't. Which has had a dual effect of victims of economics deprivation: Economics irritates them, and they have a sense that they need to know about it. Enter Ron Paul. Those who are at least somewhat educated can tell he's off his hinges, but he is clearly possessed of an understanding of economics. In that sense, it's good that the uneducated are drawn to him.
The interview-- and Paul-- falls apart after the commercial break. It starts off on a shakey foot. Paul addresses Moore as though the tub is simply misguided, as though he's fueled by a sincere desire to help the poor instead of simple Marxist envy. When InstaPunk warns us about niceness, this is what he's talking about. We shouldn't treat our foes as fair-minded just because we'd like them to be.
Which brings us to Afghanistan. First off, he fails to call Moore on the left's 180 on the morality of the Afghanistan operation. Has the congressman just not been paying attention?
Then the circus truly gets underway. It's just about impossible to overstate how irrational his isolationism is. At bottom, his position is, Leave the rest of the world alone, and they'll leave us alone. It's not just misguided. It's not just wishful thinking. It's irresponsible, malignantly dangerous buffoonery. And he has no excuse. Go back to 2:17. Listen to him describe the impact of the Singaporean and Indian markets on American hospitals. He knows that the rest of the world affects us. Why does he only allow the existence of non-American initiative when it strengthens his argument?
Because he's not a serious thinker. He's a show-off. A blowhard. A minstrel (not in a racist way, relax) for the more absurd stripes of libertarianism.
I have to admit. It's nice to have a politician who's even heard of the subjective theory of value, or the primacy of the individual. The "daft doctor" and the Paulistas are necessary steps in our civic evolution. But steps is all they are. And the first steps of a new development in any sphere are rickety, faulty, and practically scream their need for further improvement. The first car isn't even road worthy today. Montesquieu was an early, insightful pioneer of liberty, but any nation that followed his recommendations to the letter would collapse in short order. And I don't want to be within a hundred miles of the first hypodermic needle.
We need guys like Paul. We also need guys who are better than Paul. Lots of them. More than just this guy. And way better. And we need them fast.
As a palate cleanser, here's another video posted by Capitalism. One heralding the success of a more rational foreign policy.
Monday, August 23, 2010
The Old Man in the
BRIZONI WANTS SOAP OPERA. Your first piece in the MS. Whether you
know it or not, I'm thinking you're reacting not to my writing but to
He was my namesake, the first Robert Fisher Laird. (I'm the third.)
It's almost impossible to write about him. It always seems Reader's Digest overdone.
I tell people in person, but I never write about it.
He can't have been a saint. No one is. If I were Faulkner or some other
southern writer, perhaps, I would have discovered the vice in him that
makes me feel superior. But my own dad (RFL, Jr. a.k.a. InstaPunk
Senior) never did. No one else in my family or of my acquaintance ever
did. He was the man with the cane who came off the porch to drive away
the hoodlums. It actually happened. Only not from the porch. He was on
the main street of Salem, close to eighty, armed with only a cane, and
afflicted with a physical ailment that sounds more literary than real
to everyone you tell. The thugs fled. He had gray eyes that could see
into your soul.
Let me back off. Nobody has those, except in southern novels. And he
wasn't southern. I can't remember the last time I saw him. I remember
the occasion. I was fourteen, home from prep school for Easter break or
some damn thing. They'd just rushed him to the hospital. He was 82. And
I insisted on going to the hospital to see him. My parents rightly said
no, no, no, but I refused to be denied. And at the age of fourteen I
became a sufferer of what wouldn't be discovered for a few more years
-- PTSD. For years afterward, I could not remember what I saw in that
hospital bed. I blanked on it completely. I had a conception of it I
could not visualize. A man who aged a hundred years in a single day. I
was also the one who heard the phone ring that night, the call from the
hospital. I ran to my father, but he was already out of bed. I'd heard
the phone, but he still somehow knew before me. As with so many things,
we didn't discuss it until many years later. And when he did speak of
it, my dad was characteristically terse. "He came to me. Before you
told me about the call."
What does it mean when everyone speaks of a person in sainthood terms?
His doctor was a shallow, narcissistic, social climber asshole with
a bitch wife. And I can still remember eavesdropping on his
conversation with my grandmother after the death. He was in tears. The
tears were running down his sunken, pampered cheeks. "No one will ever
know just how much pain he was in every moment of every day."
Why I can't write about it. It's a Lifetime movie, not real life.
But my sister and I knew that it wasn't a Lifetime movie. When we
stayed overnight, we knew the nurse would come at something like six in
the morning to change his "dressings." She was a kind but annoying
woman, who seemed to want to bask in her role. Like she was keeping him
alive or something. She wasn't. He was the one who was keeping him
After she left, he got dressed. In a suit and tie. Every day. Every
goddamned day. He had a wicker chair in the upstairs sitting room. I
don't know why it was comfortable, because he couldn't lean back into
its upright back. He rested his elbows on the armrests, he drank
coffee, and he was happy to see us kids awake. His voice was soft but
clear, a kind of loving brush that went well with his mustache. He had
a mustache voice. His hair was snow white. It had been since the age of
twenty-one. I don't know exactly why, but it turned white overnight,
when he was twenty-one. He didn't have to speak loudly. Maybe you were
always straining to hear. I don't know.
The stories he told you were rarely about his adult life. Other people
told you those. He repeated himself. He told you the same stories, the
way old people do. He talked about growing up in Germantown,
Pennsylvania, with five other brothers. We all loved the story about
the housekeeper (his mother died when he was four) who insisted the
doctor should intervene because all the boys were too thin, and the
doctor took note of the fact that all the boys ran everywhere and asked
the housekeeper, "Ever seen a fat greyhound?" But he wasn't forgetful.
He knew what you were studying in school, he still knew his Greek, and,
oh, by the way, he had
founded the school you were studying in, and was the head of the Board
of Trustees, and the Senior Warden of the church that backed the
school, and, yeah, he was living his painful days to make sure you got
the education you needed.
There was one story he told about his childhood. I'm pretty sure he
wasn't trying to show off. He was telling us something about life. In
Germantown, there were a lot of brick walls surmounted by cast iron
fences. As a kid, he was doing a kid thing, walking along the top of
the wall with his arm over the top of the spiked iron fence... when he
slipped. He was impaled through the soft flesh of his shoulder. He was
The grownups came , eventually, and hoisted him off the iron paling. He
said to us,
"I was crying. Then the doctor said to me, 'Why are you crying? It
doesn't hurt.' And I realized he was right. It didn't."
He showed us the gossamer remainder of that long ago hurt. On his old
old arm. Just to let
us know that all hurts can go away. even though they always leave their
Because all grandfathers want to be heroes to their grandchildren,
right? Like the way he told us about his attempt to sign up for the
military in World War I, and they turned him down because he was a
chemist. "You're 4-K," he told us of his classification. "What does
that mean?" "It means we take you AFTER we take the women and children."
It was left to other people to tell us of his much more interesting
personal history. His father was a successful industrialist with a
significant fortune, but Boppa (our name for him) wanted to make it on
his own. He started a dyeing company that got burned down by a German
employee saboteur at the outbreak of hostilities and Boppa spent fifty
years paying off all his debts because you can't go bankrupt. He went
to work for DuPont and became a kind of chemical troubleshooter. During
WWII, a lead ethyl leak at the Chambers Works in New Jersey threatened
the lives of all the employees. He went into the plant all alone to
shut off the main valve and came home a poisoned madman, hiding in a
closet and threatening to kill anyone who came near him. His brother,
another spectacular member of his family, somehow got from
Philadelphia to Salem in 45 minutes (this
of the ferry) with a made-up, spur-of-the-moment antidote and saved
life. (I have firsthand knowledge of the brilliance of this doctor. I
had my face ripped apart by a heartworm-maddened Irish Setter and the
last vial of "Uncle John's" Arkase eliminated my scars The nurse who
told my mother I'd be disfigured for life was flabbergasted. Arkase. I
come from more talented stock than I am.)
There are are also the people my grandfather put through college, whom
nobody knew about until we buried him. And there are...
Oh forget it. Those of us who knew him know. He also came to me after
he died. I won't try to convince you. He just did.
But I suppose you're wanting to know about his medical problem. Fair
enough. When he was sixty-five he was diagnosed with skin cancer on his
back. He underwent radiation treatment. The radiologist forgot and left
him on the table too long. I don't know how long 'too long' is, but at
the end of it my grandfather had a hole in his back the size of a fist.
It could never heal. For seventeen years, the hole in his back had to be
dressed like an open wound every day, and once a month the surgeon (the
one who cried) had to pick decaying bits of bone out of the perpetually
open wound. He forgave the doctor who made the mistake. Did I mention
that he was an Episcopalian Christian who taught Sunday school and
believed what he taught? Still, no wonder that when the final illness came, his body
literally fell apart in a few hours. All that had been keeping it going was will. The one horrifying detail I could remember from the hospital was that he was lying on his back.
A few final thoughts... It's not all Lifetime Channel or even Hallmark
Channel. My Dad once took a swing at
his saintly dad on the tennis court and got decked forthwith. A
uppercut, I'm told. It's hard to live up to a
giant. My dad tried in the hardest way. All those combat missions. And
I'm even worse. But here's the deal. Boppa and I were closer than my
dad was with his dad. He knew, I'm convinced, what I was here to do.
When he died, I felt like my real father had died. When I was fourteen.
But the last thing he
said to me was, "Be a good boy." And then afterwards, the day of his
funeral, he said, "I know you will be." I haven't always been. But I've
No matter how bizarre it sounds to you, that's what I'm trying to be. He had gray eyes that could see into your soul.
From up here in the stands, I can see
how you'd end up with a shortage of opponents. You're the 9-foot-tall
gladiator with the wicked blade that goes through skulls like butter.
Most people can't take you. Many of the ones who try are too stupid to
realize how outclassed they are. The hamburger that gets made of them
only serves to affirm the suspicions of the more wary.
I've been reading you for a while, and commented only very little. Much
of the time, I agree and there's nothing to fight you over. Often I
don't know enough to tell whether I agree or not. On the occasions I
don't agree... well... Cyclists know that when you're out on the road
in traffic, having the right-of-way still doesn't mean shit when
everyone else is driving a 2-ton vehicle.
If I may be blunt: it's not just that
you win, but that you're so brutal about it -- wailing in with that
huge Scottish claymore, splashing blood and entrails everywhere. If
what you're wanting to do is dispatch enemies, I suppose that's a good
way to go. But if you're fencing with friends (or pupils), you pick up
a foil and go for the quick, surgical touch. My foil instructor in
college would hit with the same move, over and over, until we caught on
to what she was doing. She could take us out whenever she wanted,
clearly; but that wasn't her objective in our salle. (I don't know
where she went when she wanted a real match -- she'd fought on the
women's Olympic team and was very, very good. True competition was
probably hard for her to find.)
I'm well aware that I haven't earned the right to critique your
approach. And I am in awe of your intellect. But... well... there it
is. (I am now prepared to sacrifice myself to illustrate my point.)
So, I thought, he has a point. I can be mean. Maybe I shouldn't be. So
mean, I mean. That's why I apologized.
But I've been thinking about it. Had dinner this evening with esteemed
family members who are, well, RINOs (e.g., no problem with the Ground
Zero Mosque), but don't seem to regard me as a monster. They weren't
aware of this website, but it came up in the context of Psmith
and I found myself having to explain what's unique about
InstaPunk.Yeah, we're political, rightwing, etc, but what I found
myself proudest of was what's truly the thing no other website can say.
And that's what caught their attention. That we don't ban people, but
if you're a troll, IP or CP or LP or somebody will sally out to kill
you, "splashing blood and entrails everywhere." They LIKED that.
Let me rephrase that. Old-fashioned liberals seem to like the idea that
the First Amendment is self-policing. Start a fight, don't whine about
the blows if the other guy is a better fighter.
Which caused me to rethink my apology to Ashbless. He wants me to use proportionate force (I should
emulate foil girl...) Just enough to win. But not enough to hurt.
Others are saying similar things. These are your friends. You don't
always need to go for the ten-count knockout. And that sounded
reasonable. Until my RINO relatives made me think about it. They said,
we'll love to look at your site and even if we don't agree, the truth
is probably somewhere in between.
No. It isn't. The truth is precisely where I say it is. Or I wouldn't
plant that stake in the ground. I'm not gambling, negotiating, or
bargaining. I'm not inching toward a compromise between my "extreme"
ideas and the more "reasonable" ideas of those who have lived their
lives steeped in the mainstream media. My whole purpose in being is
drawing lines in the sand. I'm right. You're wrong. NO MATTER WHO YOU
ARE. Even if you're William Ashbless.
My job at this blog is to defeat the opposition whenever it conflicts
with my views. Crush, annihilate, destroy and lay waste the opposition
with every power at my disposal. What I'm sensing is not a principled
opposition to this idea, but rather a revulsion against the fact
that my responses result in
"blood and entrails."
Yeah. They do.That's wrong? No. Only if you're a second generation
setup for moral relativism in all its forms. What I learned from my
relatives. You see, I'm thinking that their objections to my arguments
weren't so much about actual disagreements, but sheer wonder that
anyone could or would dare to
say what I was saying. They couldn't believe that an apparently
well-educated and cultured man of the 21st century would say what I was
saying with a straight face without getting struck down by lightning.
Which is only a stone's throw from saying all commenters need to be
treated with kid gloves, because we're all human and fallible, after
all, and, well, lightning strikes the good as well as the bad. Can't we
all just get along?
So, as I said, I thought about it. My relatives are wrong. About
everything. Ashbless is wrong. About me. My job is, always has been,
and always will be, about squeezing the life out of every wrong-headed
idea I've ever discovered on the Internet or in the MSM. Period.
No matter how many entrails squirt across the horizon. And no matter
how many happy friendly bunnies get devoured in the process.
Follow me. No bunnies will die.
Friday, August 20, 2010
BAKER'S PORTRAIT (SCROLL). St. Nuke superintended the creation of The Boomer Bible. Then he was
assassinated during his coronation as King of Punk City. Why? Because
he was a prick. The anthologizers of punk writing had this to say about
his final solo
of the punk writing movement have labored diligently to endow Punk
City’s first king with a genuine historical mystique. Not only is he
given credit for the writing of The Boomer Bible, but also for acting
as both teacher and surrogate father to the ‘subjects’ in his petty
kingdom. As it does with many historical icons, the truth tends to
reveal St. Nuke as a less than admirable personage. In a work called
Konfessions—left unfinished at his death—St. Nuke wrote candidly about
the single-minded obsession with power that fueled his rise to
dominion. The following excerpt from the beginning of Konfessions is
brief but sufficient to solve any so-called ‘mystery’ about the
character of St. Nuke. The bottom line? This is a piece which could
probably be produced by any urban gang leader with powerful enough text
correction software. All the textbook neuroses are here:
Narcissism, pychopathic ego, delusions of grandeur, and frequent
detours into psychotic alienation. Long live the king.
And here's the actual text that survives...
Your book is finished.
2 Now comes the great emptiness. Impossible to prepare for. It is
spring again, but not everything gray turns green again. Did you?
3 Moses stayed in the wilderness. The claptrap has it his daddy
told him to. But you know better and so do I. Mo was a wilderness guy,
used to that ache, that rage, that solitary singleness. Desert
4 The pleasure was not in climbing to the mountaintop, but in
coming down. Coming down with commandments, slaughtering the golden
calf with words, mere words.
5 But after the calf the calf killers take the same dry tablets
every day. Someone else’s medicine. Not much of a palliative. Is it, Harry?
6 Only one of us will take the cure. Which will it be?
7 So long since we talked. It’s been a trip. Sometimes I wish you
were here to see it. But if you came, my boys and girls would take it
hard. They’re good at that.
8 They don’t understand you. Not yet. It will take them time and
they have so little. If I could feel anymore, I would feel for them.
9 Sometimes I dream of Rio. Not that I’ve
seen it, but I arrive at your villa, dressed like you in white. In the
dream at least my wounds and scars are healed.
10 You push past the servants to greet me. We have a drink on the
high terrace, and the clink of ice, the sweet honeysuckle, that faint
smile of yours are all there is—except the human spike of Aldo Morro,
with its faint smile, impaling the bloody sun.
11 In the dream I tell you how it was in Punk City. You want to
12 “Tell me,” you say, “about the beginning.”
13 Then it is my turn to smile. And we grin, like boys, and the butler
comes to announce the guests.
14 But I don’t think I’ll get to Rio. It doesn’t look to be in
the cards. Yet I feel you waiting anyway. As I am waiting for you.
15 I have it in mind to tempt you here. An idle fancy, but we
have some things you haven’t seen. Now wouldn’t that be a novelty?
15 Forgive my drivel. I am tired tonight. Too tired for more
Temptation. The idea grows on me. Your other kingdom, the one you
haven’t seen. Won’t you come home, dear Harry, and meet your boys and
2 They are out there, writing. Ants carrying their crumbs through
the narrow tunnels.
3 Punk City is a colony of ants. But not so easy to kill. I have
pulled them underground. Not to save them but to use them. This I could
only tell you.
4 I know most of their names, the insides of their infant minds,
and yet I spend them like handfuls of pennies.
5 Twenty yards from where I sit, underneath the courtyard bricks,
four hundred bikes are sitting in the dark.
6 They are not your Angel hogs, fat flatulent farmyard beasts.
Tonight they will awaken like cats, silent stalkers.
7 A youngster named Bobby Shiv will mount up with forty four
others, ten bands, and do a job in the Northland.
8 Some of them will not return.
9 Therefore they will ride double on their way out. All the bikes
must come back.
10 If one of the riders dies, the others will strip him of his
armor and weapons and leave the undistinguished corpse behind. If half
a dozen die, their bikes will still come home.
11 But every one of the forty four soldiers is writing, at this very
moment, content to be less valuable than a motorcycle and yet on fire
with the need to leave his mark in words. Ants with an attitude.
When is a metaphor not a metaphor?
2 When it is not simply a parallel but a template that molds and
drives the story. Like you.
3 The colony is not directed by a king. It is the queen who makes
sense and order of all those tiny automaton deeds.
4 Alice Hate is the queen.
5 I am the drone consort, my value spent now that the eggs are
laid. Other drones are queuing up, eager to fertilize the next
6 What have I created, in the name of creation?
7 Is this the question that occupies you? I suspect that it is.
My body is torn to pieces. I am the fossilized spring of Punk City’s
mind, my scars the dry, white beds of the bloody rivers which
fertilized our grand conception.
2 I stood and bled in the Blade to purify our tongue and thought.
Now I ache and sweat and shiver from the scourging of remembered
3 Yet I do not feel myself sanctified—only tainted and
diminished, fading, shrunken, ill.
4 Are these the stigmata of sacrifice—or the vengeful
recurring infections of a maimed imperfection which can never be made
5 Do you still tremble in fresh agonies from ancient
6 Can you heal you? Or only those who injure you?
How does the gourd feel, when it has become an instrument at the ritual?
2 Does it know itself as the painted husk whose hollowness is
what both elevates and slays it?
3 I am a gourd at the keyboard, typing to hear the echo of my
hollow being, all that is left of me, the click of dead seeds bouncing
inside a dead shell.
4 You are a gourd of remembrance, a cerement of the mummy of
faith. Gourd of gourd, rite of rite, very gourd of very gourd...
5 I understand the white suit, the white hair, the sunglasses. I
put on the blue face of St. Nuke each day, usufruct of Kassander,
because this is the face through which I have looked out upon life, the
face I have impressed on the world. Without it I am blind, impotent,
without a perspective from which to perceive and act.
6 I understand the disappearance of Venus and Apollo. They became
the marble that worshipped them. Just as the priests intended. Capture
the gods and lock them in the temple, where they can do no more harm.
7 This I have done to you. How many times?
I shall call this piece “Konfessions of Nuke.”
They will find it after my assassination. My successors will explain
it, twist it, suppress it, as they will. But the file will live on in
the system, find its own victims.
2 Will it find its way to you? The question seems a door to
philosophical speculation. But I will defer that for now. Are you even
familiar with Augustine?
3 A builder of orthodoxy, inevitably canonized by rules of his
own making, describes the path he has taken to his chosen god. And
there is no purpose in the journey if the path does not begin in sin
4 You know where my journey begins. But I must be obedient to the
template in some measure. There is a line through this field that
represents the perspective of the saint, looking back. Perhaps you can
use it to sew up my shroud, covering the dough while it rises for
I was born—and by ‘I’ is meant Nuke, of course—of the system. There is
a queen. There is a colony. There must be a chosen drone.
2 Kassander was the first. In a sense he sired the queen and was
3 You had your purposes too. The initial conditions must be set
just so, or the stories end before they get started.
4 The stories have been, are being, spun, and I need not repeat
them. Augustine’s is not a tale of plot, but of interior transformation.
5 I could say, with justice from the standpoint of the saint,
that there was no interior at the inception. This, after all, was your
6 There was a face drawn in greasepaint, an elaborate set,
hundreds of extras, a few well crafted props.
7 And there was the queen, finger of the creator, hovering above
Too, there was the system.
2 From a certain vantage point, the system makes even the set
irrelevant. There are directors who choose to stage Hamlet in street
clothes, in a theater naked of concealments, loading all the burden of
magic on the words themselves, and their performance. The play’s the
3 So it may be that there is no need of Punk City in the flesh,
as it were, so long as there is the system. Mercado’s folly, a chip set
and software suite that sucks crumbs from ants and chews them into an
4 But Rosenkrantz, on stage, does not see the ropes, the lights,
the orchestra, the balcony. If he thinks he sees them, he is imagining
beyond the boundary of his role, engaging in a flight of fancy.
5 The Nuke of the stories may be acting on a phantom set. That is
the choice of the storytellers. The Nuke of the interior life is,
however, a creature of Punk City. He has been given a set (so to speak)
of initial conditions, to which he responds.
6 In the absence of an interior, it is these which must be
There was a punk writer band called the Epissiles. Workers in the
colony. They had names, faces—the same face, really, a concoction of
makeup that conveyed facelessness.
2 St. Nuke was one of their number, a faceless face with a name
devoid of lineage.
The Epissiles had been set in motion for some reason. Does it matter
The energy that gave them momentum came from two sources, the plot and
3 The plot was their father, and so needs no explanation, except
to say that it gave them a conflict in which to establish being, if
such could be accomplished.
4 The props were mostly technological. A chip and software
configuration that accepted input from varied instruments.
In the absence of an interior, the instrument was the identity.
5 Zero Daze, destined to become the great manipulator, began his
career hunting and pecking the keys of a jury-rigged plot synthesizer.
6 St. Nuke held the macrophone, capable of translating his spoken
words into electronic characters.
A suggestive term, electronic characters. Mere pulses of electricity,
on, off, in some combination that might have meaning to the right
reader, called in the argot of the technologists a user.
2 St. Nuke was not yet the user in this configuration. He was
himself an electronic character, an outline figure on a screen, a
combination of pulses being stored for someone else’s use.
3 For my use. For yours. For anybody else’s. But not for his own,
not that he knew of anyway.
4 Unable to read, he yelled into the macrophone, watched his
voice turn into photons on a cathode ray tube, recognizing ‘I’ because
he knew the character, although this is a statement which, like many
statements of fact, contains no particle of truth.
5 He yelled “I, I, I, I, I,” and drew satisfaction from the
obedient, repeated echo on screen. This was not an existential
satisfaction. It was not psychology but physics.
6 It was like blowing into a balloon and seeing it inflate.
I do not mean to bore you, but you have inquired (in mind at least)
about the beginning, and the beginning is always the trickiest part,
the part that just might be impossible.
2 First there is nothing, a blank sheet, and then something
appears upon it, a scene, a character, an initial cause of some kind.
We want to skip ahead to the complications, the confrontations, the
consummations of the tale. When we skip ahead, as we always do, we miss
all the grandest miracles.
3 The first word we place on that blank sheet carries with it a
universe of assumptions. I tell you a name, and believing that you are
receiving, you give everything in return.
4 You give a space in your imagination in which this name puts on
a face and body, breathes, turns imputed sense impressions into
imitated thoughts. You supply the sound of voice, the meaning of sighs
and smiles, the assumption of identity.
5 It is you who perform the miracle, the granting of life, and
all the rest is trivial compared to this one triumphant act of creation.
6 But in this case the routine, divine gift must be withheld. The
story does not begin with identities implied by words. It begins with
only words, or less than that, the mere images of words, stamped flat
on our blank sheet of paper.
St. Nuke mills about on the stage, a name for which no lines have been
written, on a set not so much designed as collected, an assemblage of
objects around which a play might be written.
2 A chorus has also been assembled, that is, a rabble of voices,
also without written lines, who will also mill, commenting on the
inscrutable scratchings of the not-yet author.
3 What might they say during this gap between notion and creation?
“It does not add up to anything yet. There is a lack of what we might
call a discernible intention.
2 “First, there is the hurriedly scrawled name of a child’s poem,
underscored, as if it were some kind of clue.
3 “There is what must be a tentative list of Dramatis Personae,
although they seem less like characters than record labels, slapped
down thoughtlessly, as if out of the blue—Johnny Dodge & the 440s,
the Duke & his Angels, Liz Smack & the Hypos, Kassander &
the Doomslayers, Cadillac Mope & the Spraycans, Kobra Jones &
the Snakes, Slash Frazzle and Hate Mail, Mr. Magic, Gypsy Jackknife,
and others too numerous to mention.
4 “There is a wandering ‘what-if’ statement, not sufficiently
developed to serve as a premise—What if there were a locale populated
by complete nonentities, deprived of even the shared roots of an inner
city gang, a beach on which the flotsam of big city bus stations is
continually washed ashore by a tide of indifference and despair?
5 “There is, off by itself, a word in upper case—TECHNOLOGY—under
which appear random notations: Mercado, the ruthless executive seeking
a testbed for breakthrough computer designs... punks as guinea pigs, or
hamsters running their wheels inside... a catalyst of some kind...
6 “There is a long series of contextless words: drugs, bikers,
Philadelphia, books, baby boomers, the Tarot, law, a king, warfare,
massacres, art, a traitor, a messiah.
7 “And there is also a statement or commandment or exhortation:
Let them make themselves up, come what may.
8 “Are we to understand that these unidentified personae are
expected to write their own lines, turn this rubbish into scenes and
acts and moments of illumination? Impossible. They will never get past
Yet we have, in a sense, gotten past the beginning. I can hear you
laughing, Harry, because you know that this is only a partial truth,
like so many others.
2 I mean it in the sense that somehow a context has been
established, pulled together out of the rubble of incipient potentials.
3 I am holding your book in my hand. We had to have written it.
Punk City is embedded into the landscape of Philadelphia with a certain
momentum that sends our poor children out to wage war against the
tribes and fiefdoms of the city’s underworld.
4 St. Nuke the King must therefore have a history, some
chronology which flows from a beginning, a beginning that is thus
necessarily a fait accompli.
Now for the partial untruth of this assertion.
2 We have never gotten, will never get, past the matter of our
beginning. It is our obsession, the eternal center of our being,
whatever that may consist of.
3 I know that you understand this, understand it better than
anyone, but I know, too, that you regard it as our responsibility to
explain it to ourselves, however long it takes.
I am but a chapter in this story, I know, and I have completed my
contribution—all but the ending, which is the most important milestone
for those charged with finding the beginning.
2 I have pondered my ending, anticipated it, and in some fashion
I do look forward to it, as you, I know, must be aware.
I have dreamed it,
3 Too vividly not to recognize its verity.
The king is struck down in public, before the assembled multitude.
2 He has not been popular. He has rather been feared and obeyed
and admired, but not with affection.
3 He has demanded too much, and he has transfused his own
strength into others, who have been preparing to sever the umbilicus
and assume the responsibility which the king has for so long undertaken
on their behalf.
4 The king must die. That is all.
5 There is a faithful right hand who also anticipates
assassination, stands guard fiercely to prevent what cannot be
prevented. His hand moves more swiftly than a pulse of fear in the gut,
but not swiftly enough. The king is stabbed to the heart. He has one
moment in which to see all that has been—one piercing true perspective
from the threshold of his end.
This one moment is an eternity.
2 All other moments are part of it, including this one, so that
he has the experience of watching himself live the eternity in advance
within the larger eternity which is beyond the vision and outside it.
3 In that one eternal moment he knows what can be known, which is
It ends there. He was killed before he could add more.
BAKER AGAIN. Yeah. Boz had a tough time after meeting St. Nuke.
Here's what he learned as a "new journalist" sentenced to be a dog: in
PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Boz the Dog, who is the narrator; Mr. Magic;
Johnny Dodge; and others who are mute auditors. The Scene is laid in
the Whoreshop, amid the clank and clatter of the punks at table, eating
I went yesterday to the Whoreshop with Alice
Hate, and she tied my leash to a table in the corner before leaving
me to go converse with her band.
2 I had expected carousing and revelry, but instead the groups
huddled at their tables and worked earnestly with decks of cards. They
were, I gathered, planning their next day’s writing on the BB, but I
could not understand how they were using the cards and why.
3 I watched unobtrusively for a time. The table to which I was
tethered was occupied by Johnny Dodge and the 440s. Soon Mr. Magic
joined them, sitting on the bench in a position near me, and without
joining in the generally shared pretense that I was not there.
4 He gazed at me with an amused smile that displayed the
brilliant whiteness of his teeth against that rich black skin, and he
asked if the dog was comfortable.
5 I replied that I was as comfortable as could be expected, but
6 What, he inquired, was I curious about?
7 About the cards, I told him. For I could not deduce their
purpose or the source of their apparent authority. Were they analytical
tools of some kind, or, as they sometimes seemed, a device of religion?
8 Both, Mr. Magic said. Of what purpose was belief if it did not
assist in the making of decisions about every aspect of life?
9 I asked: Of what then is this belief constituted?
10 “Of all beliefs,” said Mr. Magic.
11 I confessed myself bewildered. For it has always seemed
to me that one of the purposes of religion is to distinguish between
what one should believe and what one should not. This is the great boon
of religion, and the great bane.
12 Mr. Magic smiled. “That is because you have no experience of
the ancients. In the early days your archaeologists find so confusing,
the differences that arose were not over which gods one should believe
in, but over which gods one should worship.
13 “In fact, all cultures and all peoples did not doubt the
existence of their neighbors’ gods. Nor do the punks. They have much to
learn, of course, but they have learned that they do not yet know
enough to claim that Buddha is real while Jesus Christ is not.
14 “The difficult part of their education is achieving the
ability to suspend their disbelief in all things.”
I objected to what Mr. Magic was saying: “Surely this is merely an
epistemological position, not a religion. For it cannot explain the use
of cards as a device of religion.”
2 “It was you,” Mr. Magic said, “Who introduced the word
‘religion.’ I do not regard it as entirely apt. However, I have allowed
it because I suspect that what you are after—you who were once a
writer—is a story. Is it not the case that this is the principal
perspective from which you relate to the word ‘religion’? That since
none merits your belief, you regard them all equally as mythology, as
fanciful tales of the story of Mankind, each with a moral, or moral
3 “Yes,” I said with a certain surprise. “I have found many of
the stories intriguing, even when the explanations and instructions
4 “Then I shall tell you of the punks’ beliefs in that form,
though you are bound to be misled.
5 “Still, it is your choice and even your need to be misled;
otherwise, you would encounter many phenomena which do not yield to
6 “I encounter them all the time anyway,” I told Mr. Magic. “This
community is such a one.”
7 “Yet the failure of your analysis is always attributed to a
want of facts, not to any fundamental error in your system of analysis.
As if you could understand what mystifies you if only you knew more of
8 “I suppose that is true, at least partially,” I said. “Of what
man is it not true?”
9 “Of many,” Mr. Magic said, including several here in this
community which you find so unyielding.
10 “But I have promised you a story that will enable you to apply
your infallible analytical method. Would you like a bowl of water
“Even your own histories,” said Mr. Magic, “include accounts of the
king known to the punks as Kanatos, a pharaoh who maintained beliefs so
astounding to his people that they sought to destroy the record of them
after his death.”
2 “Akhenaton?” I asked. I recalled that the Encyclopedia
Britannica refers to him as the first true individual in recorded
3 “An interesting observation,” Mr. Magic remarked. “But one that
is the first step on the primrose path you are determined to walk.
Since you show some familiarity with the Egyptians, are you aware of
the concept of the ka?”
4 “Only vaguely,” I said. “It is one of several spiritual aspects
of a person. It is usually defined in terms of what it is not. It is
not the soul. It is not the ghost of the deceased. It is, I believe,
usually translated by Egyptologists as ‘double,’ and yet it is depicted
not as an image of a person but as a small winged being which
accompanies the person in life and must be somehow placated in death.”
5 “Yes,” Mr. Magic agreed, “the translators have had difficulty
with the ka. What they have no way of knowing is that the ka was
regarded as a being, one not identical with the person it accompanied,
but closely associated nonetheless.
6 “The translation ‘double’ is not correct. It would be more
accurate to render the term as 'mirror image,’ with many subtle
7 “We moderns have lost our wonder at words, but the ancients
regarded them as magic, one of the deepest creating principles of the
universe. Thus, the mystical Hebrew fascination with the name of God as
an unknowable, unmentionable totality unto itself. And thus, the
Egyptian belief in another creator god, Thoth, shown as an ape and
described as the father of writing.
8 “Seeing a divine element in words, the Egyptians came also to
believe in the power of words to engender new beings, the spawn of
those who said and wrote them.”
9 “But,” I said, “it is still the soul with which the Egyptians
are principally concerned in their funeral rites.”
10 “Indeed,” said Mr. Magic. “The soul is a giver of life. The ka
is a life given.
11 “Man is not simply a thing created. He is himself a creator,
and his own creation goes on without him, pursuing its own course.
12 “While the Egyptian had an obligation to his ka—a
responsibility not to hinder or hobble it, not to offend it with
hypocrisies or disrespect—his prime duty was indeed to the soul and its
progress in the life after death. This is reflected in the religious
writings the archaeologists have been able to decode.”
I had an inkling of the heresy of Kanatos: He tried to change or reduce
the emphasis on the soul?
2 “Yes. For it was he who detected that words also create new
life in us.
3 “He became, in our terms, aware—in a way that his people had
not been before.
4 “He felt in himself the power of words to extend his
perception, to help him feel, savor, understand the experience of life
5 “This extended awareness he believed to be the gift of the ka
world, a grateful offering made to us in the same way that we make
offerings to our creator.
I digested this. Then I considered the politics of the situation, which
are always important: “I take it that this was ominous to the Egyptians
of his time?”
2 “Not at first. His was an awareness not shared by his people.
3 “He alone conceived of a space within his person in which
thoughts created a universe that mirrored or reflected the physical
4 “He was among the first to look inside himself for wisdom, and
in doing so, he perceived his connection to his ka, which fed him from
the accumulated wisdom of all that had ever been thought and said and
felt by people before.
5 “This was the treasure of the ka world, the stored legacy of
human experience made directly accessible to the living.
6 “To Kanatos this seemed infinitely more powerful than the
secondhand symbolic wisdom of the gods, because it infused him with a
sense of the richness of his own experience, a capability to relive and
learn from that experience which was not provided by mere obedience to
7 “He therefore made the error of seeking to replace worship of
the gods with awareness of the hierarchy of beings he experienced
through his own ka.
8 “His inflexibility in this caused the gods to rouse the people
9 “Then you are implying,” I said, “that there was no real
inconsistency, that he made an error of politics, not philosophy.”
10 “That is correct. The gods of the Egyptians were also present
in the world of the ka, inevitably so, for the ka were the offspring of
11 “But they had a different hierarchy?”
12 “Yes. For theirs was a world in which no experience is ever
lost, nothing ever entirely forgotten. The gods therefore take on a
different aspect, and the organization of experience is based on other
“We are close to the story of the ka world,” I remarked.
2 “Indeed we are,” replied Mr. Magic. “As Kanatos saw it, the ka
world was born from our world with the creation and growth of human
language. The existence, the echo as it were, of spoken words was
3 “As the echo appeared to fade, it was merely passing into
another realm, where words of like origin clustered together, taking on
the semblance of a winged vessel that flew on eternally, giving voice
to its contents. This was the source of the small birdlike image
captured in Egyptian hieroglyphics and passed on unchanged through the
4 “Yet the growing power of language was also changing the world
of the ka. The beings grew larger as vocabulary increased in size and
could carry more experience.
5 “Undying, they felt their own growth and desired it to
continue, which meant they sought to establish connections in our world
with other human beings, so that these could benefit from the stored
experience of the ka, which in turn received new experience.
6 “The cycle thus created led to the existence of ‘greatwings,’
ka beings so immense and wise that their choice of human infants to
join with—from several to many at a time—became a guarantee of
greatness in our world, a step toward the emergence of a new kind of
7 “This new kind of experience was the awareness enjoyed by
Kanatos, who believed himself the chosen one of the greatwings.”
“We are all chosen, aren’t we?” I commented. “And, of course, where
some are great, others are greater.”
2 “Yes. The greatwings, like human beings, tended to flock
together, like to like. Their purpose in being was to express the
experience they contained, which they did in the manner of musical
instruments, sounding themselves in great chords or songs that joined
with those of others in their flock, and so filled their universe with
the music of being.
3 “And, like the human beings from which they sprang, the ka,
too, were not simply created things, but creators.
4 “The music of the great flocks, and of individual greatwings,
sired other new worlds and beings, which—derived from the language and
memories of humankind—acquired a materiality of their own, and became a
kind of timeless analogue of experience we would recognize as akin to
5 “Over this new material world the greatwing choirs, as the
flocks may be called, presided as our gods do over us. Depending on
their inclination and personality, they protected, they ruled, they
inspired, they tyrannized, just as our gods do.”
6 I asked: “And then a turning point of some kind was
7 “Your instinct is always for the story. Yes. With all acts of
creation there is some separation, some sharing out and reshaping of
energy and a momentum to the appetite for energy of the thing created.
8 “The material world of the ka created its own new world of the
echoed word, which in turn gave rise to its own physical realm.
9 “And now you must imagine the process of a balloon blowing up a
balloon, which blows up another balloon, into infinity.
10 Each new inflation is a recombination, a unique set of
possibilities realized, but the process of generating new
recombinations must come to an end unless the source of possibilities
is always expanding.
11 “The ka world, created by us, came to need us, to feed on us,
though not to drain us necessarily, for what was exchanged for our
experience was the limitless reimagining of our own potential as it was
being tried out, so to speak, in the worlds of the ka.
12 “It was this echo within an echo, this dream within a dream,
that exploded into the awareness of Kanatos and those who came after.”
Every story has a conflict. I mentioned this to Mr. Magic, who did not
2 “In this case, the conflict originated among the first
greatwing choirs. The distinctive song or symphony of a choir is
inevitably an expression of meaning, a definition of the oneness in
which each individual voice is an indispensable part.
3 “As the choirs were not the same, their meanings were not the
same, and the worlds they spawned were not the same.
4 “The structure and content of each world was an acting out, an
incarnation if you will, of all the aspects of meaning contained in the
oneness of the choir which created it.
5 “The worlds thus created were not different in the sense that
varieties of flowers are different, or breeds of dogs. They differed in
their very essence, as joy differs from sorrow, or intellect from
emotion, or order from randomness.
6 “Some embodied a kind of self-contained equilibrium that
separated them from the others without giving rise to real conflict.
7 “One example of such a world is a realm we human beings have
dully explored without contemplating either its source or its relation
to us. You undoubtedly know it as ‘mathematics,’ and like so many
others you have probably given no thought to its actual location in our
universe, if it has one, or to its ironically illogical superposition
of reality and unreality.
8 “Mathematics has a perfection of consistency which seems to
demonstrate its independence from mankind, while its purely conceptual
state of being, as we perceive it, would seem to demonstrate the
opposite—that its existence depends entirely upon the imaginative
functions of a powerful organic brain.
9 “For the world of mathematics is not ‘there’ in the sense that
the moon and sun and stars are ‘there.’ It is not even ‘there’ in quite
the sense that the laws of physics are ‘there,’ pushing and pulling on
the stuff of the universe with a uniformity we characterize as laws.
10 “In mathematics there are infinities of existence which cannot
be manifested physically at all, as in the infinite set of unreal
numbers. Because it extends so far beyond what is physically and
practically necessary, mathematics is not simply a useful component of
our universe, but a universe of its own with infinite, sometimes useful
interconnections to ours. And it is a universe that will never yield
all its secrets to the counters and measurers and calculators who
profess to understand its nature.
11 “It is this characteristic of unreal reality from the human
perspective that binds together all the ka worlds. What separates them
from one another are the discordancies which exist between some of the
largest and most powerful of their number.
12 “Such discordancies are so great, and so naturally inevitable,
that they must be resolved, as discrepant musical elements must be
resolved before the ear can register a sense of completion. The process
of reaching such a completion is itself the purpose and meaning
of all music.
13 “It is at this level—as a journeying toward meaningful
completion—that a perpetual state of what can only be called war exists
in the ka realm among the domains of the Greatwing Alba, the Greatwing
Raptor, and the Greatwing Raven.
“Each of these immense greatwings—Alba, the Raptor, and the
Raven—presides over its own land, islands, if you will, in the sea of
music called Mareka, which is the ocean of all possibilities.
2 “The land of Alba is Iris, the land of the Raptor is Kain, and
the land of the Raven is Eden.
3 “The polar opposites are Iris and Eden, and in between stands
Kain, eternally riven by the conflicts of the poles.”
4 I interrupted: “The old morality play.”
5 “How could it be otherwise,” Mr. Magic inquired, “in a world
born of the human realm?”
6 “But note that the play is not instructing us. Rather it is
reflecting us and influencing us, in infinite reciprocity.
7 “The play does not tell us what the meanings must be. It rather
characterizes the nature of the competition for interpretation of our
8 “The Choir of Alba sends its greatwings in search of human
hosts who can be induced to provide a certain kind of experience to
fuel its growth. Likewise for the Raptor and the Raven.
9 “But as the ultimate fathers of the ka world, it is always we
who choose which kind of greatwing to join with, and even if we want
such a joining.
10 “There are many who do not accept the greatwings, just as
there are many who are regarded by the Raptor and the Raven not as
hosts, but as prey.
11 “They circle above the tiny stubwinged ka of those who choose
to go it alone, and at times they swoop to swallow those who are not
strong enough to defend themselves.”
“And the climax of the play?” I asked.
2 “There are times when the balance of power tilts,” Mr. Magic
said. “When too many choose or are devoured by the Raven and its
3 “For the land of the Raven is the darkness of Eden, where the
completion of the music is found only in silence, in the extinguishing
of all memory, the termination of all thought, the stillness of the
ocean after the last ripple of possibility has been flattened to
4 This is the definition of the Raven’s uniqueness. The
completion of its music means the end of all music, by all choirs. It
therefore cannot be permitted to accomplish its desired
4 “But Alba does not prey on those who choose not to join him.
His music requires joy and loving union, and Alba never, almost never,
intervenes in the physical realm of men. It is thus the Raptor which
must intrude directly in our world when the Raven nears its coda.
5 “The Raptor can accomplish such an intrusion by three means.
6 “It can hunt and swallow vast numbers of stubwings, to keep
them from being used by the Raven.
7 “It can also, in dire crisis, command its mightiest and most
ancient greatwings to join with individual human beings, not as one of
many human hosts as is their custom, but one to one, so that if the
chosen human being can survive the joining he will be the direct
recipient of all the power and fire contained in a single greatwing.
8 “Finally, in extremis, the Raptor can itself join with one
human being, who has by this union the power to alter the course of our
9 “Meanwhile,” I asked, “the Raven is doing nothing?”
10 “On the contrary,” Mr. Magic informed me. “The Raven uses much
the same means to defend its gains. And the Raven in many respects
holds the advantage. He and his greatwings have the power to attract
and seduce the fearful. The Raptor has sway only with those who possess
courage and will.
11 “Yet the battle between them is eternal, and never yet has the
Raven prevailed when the Raptor goes on the attack.
12 “Aha!” I barked. “Good triumphs over evil. End of play.
Mr. Magic wagged a finger in my face. “I warned you that you would be
misled by the story,” he said.
2 “The punks believe,” I suggested, “that they are the chosen of
the Raptor in this round.”
3 Mr. Magic did not answer directly. “They are endeavoring to
learn from the story, which they do not claim to understand entirely.”
4 “And the link between the punks and Kanatos is the cards?”
5 “In a manner of speaking. You are perhaps familiar with the
Tarot, which is often attributed in some measure to Egypt.”
6 I nodded.
7 “The Tarot you know is a garbled version of the one that
actually emerged in Egypt, which like the ka, reflected the
story—meaning all stories, in all possible combinations—with a template
for calling specific permutations from the infinite sea.
8 “The template provided by the cards is unbounded, like its
source. Yet it is simple to invoke, which is a help to the uninitiated
who need assistance in their learning.
9 “The punks, like you, are concerned with stories, and for this
reason the ka Tarot is valuable to them in their work and in their
10 “There is, however, nothing automatic about the learning
catalyzed by the cards. It occurs gradually, or in spurts, or in
experiences of a transformational nature.”
11 “I think I might be able to help the dog understand the uses
of the cards,” said Johnny Dodge, who had been listening to our
12 Mr. Magic smiled. “I could think of no one better suited to
the task,” he said.
Johnny Dodge extracted a deck of cards from inside his heavy coat. “I
can explain much that you are curious about,” he said, “but it will
take time. Several hours at least.”
2 “I have nothing but time,” I told him.
3 My new instructor smiled. “I believe you are wrong about that,”
he said. “A dog runs out of time the moment his master—or mistress—lays
a hand on his leash.
4 And then I remembered that I was still under sentence as Alice
Hate’s dog, and I blushed as a jerk on my collar informed me that my
mistress had indeed plucked up my leash, her business at the Whoreshop
5 “Perhaps tomorrow,” said Johnny Dodge. “Perhaps your mistress
will be minded to take you for a walk to this location at the same time
6 I felt myself pulled away, heard the husky voice of Alice Hate
humorously urging me to be a good boy and come along.
7 “Tomorrow,” I growled at Johnny Dodge. “I will hope for
Just as he feared, Boz died in Punk City. But not before he wrote
again. Just saying...