THE FIRST NEWSPAPER
It was good Arkansas journalism, but this was not Arkansas.
Haines’ first reaction to Rudy and Jackie’s claim to membership in the Ashram had been, in contrast to his usual straightforward style, guarded and ambiguous. Although the Drucks reported that Bill had told them that Rudy and Jackie’s application for membership in the Ashram had been accepted, he evaded the question when I asked. “Rudy and Jackie will have to figure it out for themselves,” he said. Finding themselves without support, they left, and I moved into their room, which was across the landing from Bill’s and next to Howie and Betsy’s room. Once again, I had the best view of a bowling alley in the United States, if not the entire world.
Shortly after this major elevation in comfort, privacy and aesthetics, an event occurred which I thought was a sign of great progress in my upward flotation from the inky depths of depression. I managed to write something imaginative. The bulletin I had written and mailed out with Bali’s help didn’t count, according to my standards, because it was just factional journalism, and pretty low-class factional journalism at that, but the little essay I wrote in my new room had a certain something, in my opinion.
THE BOMBARDMENT AND ANNIHILATION
OF THE PLANET SATURN
Since all competent bullshitters specializing in astrological matters are agreed on the singularly gruesome and wretched nature of the planet Saturn, competence being determined, of course, by agreement with this very definition, since any just or rational judgment is bound to fail, due to the influence of the planet Saturn, it is apparent that the only solution is to blow the big fat greasy sonofabitch to smithereens.
This is the ultimate objective of the Neo-American Church: nothing less than the bombardment and annihilation of the planet Saturn. Upon the successful completion of the task, with the dispersal of the malefic energy of this gloomy orb into the cosmos (which, if too seriously affected, will be our next objective), the Millennium, or golden age of mankind, will commence without further ado, and it will be possible to dismantle not only the apparatus of the Church but all the instrumentalities of The Divine Will; to permit Peter Rabbit free access to the garden of Farmer Brown.
The entire technical resources of the planet Earth must be marshaled in the service of The Holy War; enormous rockets designed, built and placed in orbit; fusion bombs of hitherto undreamed of power prepared; a special corps of dedicated men and women recruited and trained, all Capricornians identified and watched by a secret service, and all those born with Saturn rising rounded up and interned (in opulent luxury on tropic isles, of course) for the duration.
It may be asked (by certain mealy-mouthed phonies), “Won’t this upset the delicate balance of the forces in The Mysterium Tremendum with all sorts of dire results, such as trains not running on time, fucked-up calendars, etc.?” Or, by certain poetic souls of delicate sensibility, “How can such crude means effect good ends?; rather, let us pray unceasingly for deliverance from this dreadful visitation, which we must nevertheless richly deserve for some unknown reason.” Our reply to all such crappy nit-picking, hair-splitting, insecure and neurotic rubbish must be polemical; even sloganeering. When grave issues are at stake, a political approach is necessary, and the engagement of the most powerful emotions capable of elicitation, however grotesque.
Nevertheless, we may outline here the major arguments and rebuttals favorable to our doctrine (although refusing to admit for an instant that any argument is necessary; our proposition being self-evident to anyone of good will and sound mind):
(1) Time is the prison of mankind; the spell that binds us. As men manage space to confine each other, so do the gods use time. To proclaim that one lives in eternity under these circumstances is a waste of breath, merely true, only a scientific observation. Our spatial coordinates (our spatial projections) serve and define us, delight us, take out the garbage. Time is too hard; it concedes now only to a few magicians, all others are enslaved. We must storm the Bastille.
(2) The destruction of Saturn will not eliminate time (it says here), but merely drop it down a few notches to a manageable level, at least I certainly hope so. As for things getting even worse, let’s not think about it. To do so would be to fall under the influence of the Planet Saturn.
(3) Taking LSD is no substitute for blowing up planets. I am morally certain that Dr. Hoffman never, in his wildest dream, envisioned anyone putting his discovery to such a chicken use as employing it as a substitute for blowing up planets. If God wanted us to have synthetics he would have invented them.
(4) There are many trivial secondary benefits inherent in the project, such as the unification of mankind and what not, and God knows what serendipitous benefits. With the advent of the psychedelic age, many heavy people and machines will be left unemployed, for example, and the project will keep them busy; provide them, indeed, with a rationale. The great symbolical benefits engendered by shooting enormous steel projectiles loaded with explosives into a big mushy egg up in the sky are so obvious as to need no explanation, especially for Catholics.
(5) Novices require a teleology related to history. Although our actual objectives are the improvement of that time which, in the words of Thoreau, “is neither past, present nor future,” it is certainly convenient to have an “ultimate objective” ready-made, so to speak. One may envision the boo hoo, often merely a con-man, temporarily satisfying the questions of the novice, or at least obtaining his conditional allegiance, by enlisting his energies in The Holy War; then, should this “answer” prove inadequate upon further soul searching or study, the guru (who might be janitor of the lodge, or the novice’s eleven-year-old kid brother), coming up with the Great Mystical Equations at the right moment. In any event, by having something understandable to offer right off the bat, we are at least in a position to deal the joker to the poor fish when he is off balance on our side of the court, without resorting to dirty pool.
In reference to the actual proven nature of the planet Saturn, I refer the reader to an excellent rundown in Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi; New Direction Paperback, pages 104-106.
Peculiar stuff, and somewhat slapdash, but not the work of a depressed person. I had astonished myself, which is what most artists like best to do. Haines loved it and seemed to understand exactly what I was getting at. He read it to anyone who would listen.
The Ashram kids, who, although we kidded around a lot, had been basically respectful towards me, became even more so. The Leaguers did too, but more in the way that people respect any show of force, rather than out of appreciation or approval. Almost everyone in the house believed in astrology in a standard, cause-and-effect way. My attitude, which combined a grasp of the subject and a kind of acceptance of it, along with a flippant dismissal of the whole business as just another metaphorical construct to be kicked around at will, was a little over their heads. It was clear to all that I had literary talent, however, and everyone knew the Psychedelian cause needed as much of that as it could get.
The Ashramites, in consequence of being constantly reminded of it by Haines, understood, if only superficially, that the external world was to be regarded as an illusion. It was part of “the teachings,” in which they believed, or at least tried to believe. Despite the moderate intelligence and barbaric, supernaturalist heritage of most of them, they got the general idea: The answer to the question who? was one’s own self, not “God,” or the “Cosmic Mind,” or even, and this is where they failed when they failed, “we.” They understood, more or less, that the answer to the question where? was “in one’s own mind,” and not “in the universe” or on any particular planet or solar system or “level” or “vibrational frequency” or “alternative reality.”
They knew, sort of, that the answer to the question what? was “Nothing.” Off and on, they were aware that the answer to the question why? was “attachment” and the answer to the question when? was “now or never,” but they didn’t know any of this with much assurance or certainty, which was why they were students and followers rather than leaders and gurus. Some of them all of the time, and all of them some of the time, knew these things, in the same sense that so-called “Christians” know they have been instructed by their Lord to turn the other cheek, hand over their cloaks, etc., but much prefer to cry “Lord, Lord” all the time, which St. Paul, all the Popes, Martin Luther and a bunch of other guys told them was even better, and is a hell of a lot easier.
Since I still harbored the delusion that Tim was an enlightened teacher, I ascribed the occultist tendencies of his followers to his present absence rather than to his former presence. I was wrong. Tim really was a cosmic-mind “Hindu” (or Brahmanist, or Roman Catholic turned inside out) just as he had said in his trial in Texas. What prevented me from recognizing this obvious fact was his ability, wit, grace and specious maladaptations of the truisms of genuine monist philosophy to the subtly perverted usages of opportunistic revolutionary politics, which in those days I regarded as mere froth.
Froth today, scum tomorrow.
Tim and I had the classic virtues and vices associated with our houses of birth, Libra and Aries respectively, which are opposite each other in the zodiac. Tim excelled in sensing what it was his audience wanted to hear and giving them so much more of it than they expected that they didn’t know whether to shit or go blind, while my talents lay in the direction of figuring out what was wrong with the bastards and then telling them exactly what they didn’t want to hear the most. Tim, a truly other-directed personality, and a master of disguise, appeared and disappeared all over the place as he adjusted his image to the varying demands of the kid culture, while I bored ahead like a ram, even when brick walls intervened or nobody was paying any attention and my target had gone home to enjoy a leisurely lunch.
Astrology can help define, Fazzm, what games are being played and something about the style of the players, but little or nothing about the outcome of any particular game or the fate of any particular player. It does seem appropriate, however, that the Libra in an Aries/Libra conflict/alliance should be rewarded with popularity and the Aries with priority. Since my relationship with Tim had started with my false assumption that he was enlightened, I had thrown the “who’s first” game before it had even started, and supposing that being first was the only game in town, I saw no reason for further competition. In comparison to the satisfaction of first, what else mattered?
By granting Tim that honor I had peeled off my astrological label and had managed to see things in a way that was alien to my character. I made excuses for his failings, which was also uncharacteristic, and it wasn’t until Tim produced his Starseed Transmissions and Neurologic that the last vestiges of my delusions about him evaporated, and I added yet another ironical twist to my collection. I had come in first largely because I thought I didn’t have a chance.
Easy, early successes often screw and glue early errors in place forever. The history of the religion racket is plastered with examples. It was a good thing I thought of myself as a relatively minor hod carrier for so long because it gave me the freedom to think things out. By the time I got going, I understood the intellectual minefield I had entered pretty well, and had acquired the Zmms and other strange devices to light my path.
Haines, who did not believe he owed anything at all to Tim, had none of my hang-ups, and one of the reasons Haines distrusted me was that I did not, in his judgment, sufficiently distrust Tim. Bill thought Tim was a “mad scientist” and that was that. Tim’s philosophic ideas were on the same level with those of Narad, the Man of Iron, if not lower. Haines was right.
The article advocating the bombardment of the offending planet, which was reprinted here and there in the underground press, added to the effect of the first Divine Toad Sweat from Millbrook, brought the Church back to life. Five-dollar bills began to appear in P.O. Box 694, Millbrook, N.Y., with such regularity that I was able to buy cigarettes, replace worn socks, and quaff an occasional pint of wine with carefree abandon. I offered a share of my cash flow to the Ashram but Bill refused it.
“Don’t even tell anyone how much you get,” Bill advised. “We have enough rich pricks to tap around here without taking money from economic basket cases like you and me.”
Serious historians can get as many copies of the Divine Toad Sweat of old as they want. The doctrine and the style of the Church have changed since those days, and so has my choice of literary flavors, but I believe in keeping an accurate historical record of things, even if the contemplation of some of it makes my flesh crawl, blood freeze, hair stand on end, etc.