Agnes Surian lay in bed that night, tossing and turning in her sleep.
Walking in the woods in British Columbia with her boyfriend, back when they were teens…Sometimes, it’s daytime, sometimes, nighttime, going back and forth between light and dark…she looks to her left and sees Thurston beside her, instead of her teen sweetheart.
“So, the beast is hiding among these trees?” he asks her.
“Yes. I’m sure of it,” she says. “Trust me, Andy, I know what I’m…”
Suddenly, a brown bear appears…She and her old teen boyfriend scream.
The bear attacks her boyfriend, a claw swatting his face.
She pulls out her gun and aims at the bear…A fog floats before her eyes, blurring everything…She drops the pistol…That pheromone smell…The fog clears…Instead of seeing the bear killing her teen boyfriend, she sees Thurston again, being gored by Callie as the beast…Surian screams.
The beast’s body hair falls off, and she changes back into nude, beautiful Callie.
She smiles and spreads her legs for Surian.
“Lick me, Agnes,” she says with lewdness in her eyes.
Surian woke up with a jerk and a grunt.
“Oh, Jesus!” she gasped.
The next morning, Surian went to Callie’s apartment building, to the first floor apartment across from the crates in the alley. She saw the man in his kitchen through the window, the man who’d had sex with Callie that other time.
Surian rapped her knuckles on the window with one hand and flashed her badge with the other. “Detective Agnes Surian,” she said when he opened the door. “I’m working with the Toronto police. I’d like to ask you a few questions about a female tenant of this building, one I know that you’ve had…contact with…She’s blonde, beautiful, and often…without any clothes.”
“Oh, yeah,” he grunted with a lewd smirk. “Her.”
“What can you tell me about her?” Surian asked.
“Oh, she was nice,” he groaned, then licked his lips. “Such a beautiful…”
“Sir, I”m not interested in the pornographic details. Did she tell you her name, or which apartment she lives in? What floor does she live on…do you know?”
“Oh, uh, I think she lives on the seventh floor. I went up to her by the elevator and asked if I could have another screw.” Surian struggled not to roll her eyes. “She told me to fuck off.”
Gee, what a surprise, Surian thought.
“Then I saw her get in the elevator alone. It went up to the seventh floor. Later, I went up there to look around. I turned right after getting off the elevator and went down the hall. There was a powerful, sexy smell that got stronger and stronger as I continued to the end. It was at its strongest when I’d reached the farthest room on the right. It put me in a daze, though, and I couldn’t remember anything after that. Funny thing: the next thing I remember, I woke up in bed here in my apartment. There’s something voodoo about that chick.”
“Thank you,” Surian said. “I think I know all I need now. Goodbye.” She started walking out of the alley.
“Hey!” he shouted just before she disappeared out of the alley. “If you go talk to her, let ‘er know I’d be happy to satisfy her with my cock again!” His eyes were beaming with hope.
“I sure will, Super-stud,” Surian called back, then laughed.
She went into the apartment and got in the elevator. When she got out at the seventh floor, the pheromone smell was already in the air. She held her breath as long as she could as she hurried down to the end of the right-side hall. She opened the hall window by Callie’s door as wide as possible to air out the powerful fumes. She stuck her head out, exhaled, and breathed all the fresh air she could hope to get from outside. Still, that sexy smell dazed her.
Room 717. Her eyesight grew blurry, but not so much that she couldn’t read the number on the door and remember it. She knocked.
Callie answered, opening the door wide.
She stood before Surian, naked from head to toe.
“Good morning, Agnes,” she said with a grin.
“How do you…know my name?” Surian slurred.
“I know a lot about you and your boyfriend cop. The vibrations unifying the universe give me access to all kinds of knowledge, including your life.”
“Andy’s not…my boyfriend.”
“He will be. You want him to be.”
Surian looked down at Callie’s breasts and hairless crotch. “Do you…ever wear clothes?”
“Not if I don’t need to. Anyway, you’ve already seen every inch of me many times, so there’s no point in my hiding my body from you. Do you like it? Check me out again.” Callie turned around for Surian, who admired the roundness of Callie’s buttocks. “I know you’ve experimented with lesbian sex a few times. Come on in. Lick my pussy.”
“Oh,…uh,…OK,” Surian sighed, then entered the apartment.
Callie closed the door and took Surian by the hand, leading her into the bedroom. Callie lay on the bed on her back and spread her legs. Surian put her face in between: the pheromone scent gave her no choice not to.
Callie moaned and sighed as Surian licked and sucked on her hard clitoris. Kluh put a thought in Surian’s mind, repeating it over and over like a psychic chant: Google Kluh…Polynesian myth…know more about who I am…
Callie sprayed her orgasm into Surian’s mouth. Before she knew it, she’d already gulped it down. She rose to her feet, then stood before smiling Callie like a soldier ready to receive her next orders.
“Thank you, Agnes, for giving me so much pleasure,” said the demoness in flawless human form. “You will forget all that happened here, including where my apartment is. Now, go…and don’t forget to Google me and my myths.”
Surian walked out of the apartment like an automaton.
That afternoon, Surian was at the 22 Division police station. She sat in a chair in Detective Hicks’s office, reading something on her phone when he and Thurston entered the room.
“So, what have you got for us about the beast, Detective?” Hicks asked as he got to his desk.
“Just a minute,” she said, her eyes widening as she read.
“Oh, sorry, Detective,” Hicks growled. “I didn’t know your social life on Facebook and Twitter was more important than finding the beast and saving lives. Don’t forget the hashtag when you share your posts!”
“Hicks, please,” Thurston said. “For your information, we’ve come a lot closer to catching this beast than all your cops combined.”
“Don’t talk back to me, Thurston!” Hicks shouted. “You and your werewolf/Dr. Jekyll story? Don’t make me laugh! Its ‘magic’ erased your video of the girl’s transformations, eh? How convenient!”
“C’mon, Andy,” she said, rising to her feet and putting her phone in her purse. “Let’s follow ‘Chloe’ and see if she ever talks about a spirit named ‘Kluh'” She and Thurston walked out of the office.
“So, there’s an evil spirit now, eh?” Hicks shouted as they walked past all the other detectives’ desks towards the exit. “You’ve even deluded yourselves that it has a name? You two are a joke!”
“Ignore him,” Thurston said. “What have you learned?”
“Well, I’m wondering if there are any Polynesian exorcists in the Toronto area,” she said.
As much as I recognize the conservative as my ideological foe, I can at least have a kind of grudging respect for him. We on the left know where we stand with those on the right: they support and rationalize the authoritarian class system we all suffer under, and while they spuriously claim that capitalism is good for society as a whole, they don’t go around pretending they care about social justice in a meaningful way.
With liberals, on the other hand, the situation gets foggy, and it’s in this way that the ruling class is particularly cunning. The liberal claims to care about all the social issues we communists are insistent on addressing (racism, etc.), but he or she backslides right when matters get urgent, or when his or her class privileges are threatened.
What must be understood is that the liberal, in relation to the conservative and fascist–and by these three I include every variety–is just another snake-head on the body of the same Hydra. Slice off Bernie Sanders‘s head, and the heads of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tulsi Gabbard pop out of the same reptilian neck to replace his.
For us, the resolution of class war will not come about in the form of making compromises with the capitalist class, as liberals would have it, by emulating the Nordic Model, or having a market economy with a strong welfare state, single-payer healthcare, shorter working hours, and free education all the way up to university; these social democrat benefits, of course, would be paid off through imperialist plunder.
No, we want to extend those benefits globally, and to rid ourselves of the market as soon as the productive forces of society have been fully developed, for the benefit of all. The liberal will never help us with this project; he, nonetheless, routinely tricks many left-leaning people into thinking he’s our friend. For this reason, we leftists need to be educated not only in dialectical and historical materialism, but also in the psychology of the liberal worldview.
The liberal, as we know, is hypocritical in his claims to care about social justice, and opportunistic in his politics. He says all the right things (well, except for stating a commitment to socialism), but fails to do what needs to be done. At the heart of this hypocrisy and opportunism is a psychological conflict resulting from a confrontation of his material privileges.
The liberal’s superego is making all these moral demands to care about social justice, including resolving class conflict; but his id enjoys all the pleasures and privileges of being part of a higher social class (including his cushy place in the First World), and his id doesn’t want to lose them. So his conflict tends to resolve itself in the form of espousing such things as identity politics: he’ll keep the class structure of society intact, but allow blacks, women, gays, etc., into the upper echelons.
Liberals are in denial about the extent to which they support, whether covertly or overtly, the capitalist system. They will, for example, play the same game of false moral equivalency as conservatives will when it comes to comparing communism and fascism. In their opposition to communism, one every bit as vehement as conservatives’, they’ll pretend that Stalin’s leadership was every bit as cruel and oppressive as Hitler’s, even though it was the former’s army that did most of the work in defeating the latter and his army. See here for a more thorough discussion of the huge differences between the far left and far right, a discussion beyond the scope of this article.
Liberals rationalize their defence of the establishment by pretending to have a ‘pragmatic’ approach to curing the ills of our world. Hillary Clinton has claimed to be a “progressive who gets things done,” when the only thing she and her husband ever got done was to move the Democratic Party further to the right.
Liberals’ ‘pragmatism’ is set against the ‘utopianism’ of Marxism, when as I mentioned above, it’s the latter of these that’s the pragmatic application of progressive ideas. Liberals, on the other hand, aren’t progressive at all. They like to imagine they occupy a ‘reasonable’ position in the political centre, avoiding the violent extremes on either side. We are not, however, living in a world where reality is static, unchanging.
What’s more, the current of these waves has been going further and further to the right, ever since the dawn of the Cold War, and especially since the disastrousdissolution of the Soviet Union. That rightward movement means that ‘neutral’ centrism is at best a passive acquiescence to that current, and at worst a collaborating with it. We must move against the current, and that can only mean an aggressive, revolutionary move to the left.
Still, liberals smugly insist that they’re ‘the good guys,’ projecting their support of the unjust status quo onto conservatives, as if only the right is to blame for our woes. Oh, the GOP and their awful wars! Vote in the Democrats, and the wars will end…or, at least, they’ll be tolerable [!]; the same for the Tories and Labour Party in the UK, and for the Conservative and Liberal Parties in Canada.
Liberals not only project all government corruption onto conservatives, but also project their tendency to interfere in the democratic process onto other countries, as in the case of Russia, a country with whose politics they themselves have interfered, as I mentioned above with regard to Yeltsin. Even after the Mueller report showed no proof of the claims of the Steele dossier (in which many, including myself, saw no real evidence right from the beginning), some liberals will surely stillclaim Russia colluded with Trump to get him elected in 2016. Now, he can use liberal folly and dishonesty to his advantage, and quite possibly get reelected in 2020. Thank you, liberals!
Both liberals and conservatives use splitting, or thinking in terms of absolute black vs. white, good vs. evil, when judging each other. That conservatives do this is painfully obvious: “Either you’re with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Liberals pretend to be above splitting, characterizing themselves as “open-minded,” but they’re just as hostile to differing ideologies as conservatives are.
I’ve known many supporters of the Democratic Party who imagine that all will be fine as long as their idolized party is elected, as opposed to the GOP. This blind devotion continues in spite of how similar their party’s agenda has come to that of the Republicans. In liberals’ universe, the DNC is all good, and only the GOP is all bad, no matter what either party does.
On Facebook, back when Trump had just been elected, and all the liberals were traumatized, I posted a meme that said, “So, you’re Obama‘s biggest fan? Name 5 countries he’s bombed.” A liberal FB friend of mine (then, not now) trolled me, saying, “Who cares? We have Trump.” Now, granted, Trump’s bombing of countries has grown even worse than Obama’s, but this needn’t (and shouldn’t) involve us trivializing Democrat sins. The problem isn’t this party vs. that party, or this charming man vs. that charmless man: it’s the metastasizing of imperialism that’s the real problem; whichever party is manifesting it at the moment is immaterial. Liberals can’t grasp this reality.
This splitting between ‘good DNC’ vs. ‘bad GOP’ is so extreme now that liberals are willing to go to war with Russia for her ‘collusion with Trump.’ These same people who were so passionately antiwar back in the 60s and 70s now bang the war drums, all because they’re such sore losers over the 2016 election results. Recall Rob Reiner’s short film with Morgan Freeman.
When I posted an article saying that Russia is not our enemy, that liberal FB friend of mine trolled me, saying it was a “crock of shit article…Russians are persecuting gays.” I responded sarcastically, saying, “You’re right, Peter. We should start World War III.” He liked my reply. Yes, risking nuclear annihilation is the only way to help gays. Hmm…
Liberals will engage in reaction formation, condemning everything bad they see conservative politicians doing, while resting perfectly content if a liberal politician commits the same egregious acts; in other words, liberals make an open show of hating the political evils of the world, yet secretly either don’t mind them, or even support them. Had Hillary been elected, liberals would be at brunch now instead of protesting Trump; even though she’d have had similar, if not virtually identical, policies as he has. The wars would have continued, the super-rich would have their interests protected, she’d have been tough on immigration (including a US/Mexico barrier), etc.
Liberals engage in fantasy, not only the totally uncorroborated fantasy of “Russian collusion,” but also fantasies that mere incremental reforms will fix what’s wrong with our world. Ocasio-Cortez‘s Green New Deal, apparently, will heal environmental degradation, when nothing less than an immediate, revolutionary takeover, by the people, of the government will do so. Sanders‘s giving away of free stuff will cure everything, it is supposed, instead of merely placating the public and staving off revolution.
A fantasy world of people indulging their desires via legalized prostitution, pornography, and drugs would fulfill people, as some liberals would have it, instead of fulfillment from ending pimps’ and madams’ exploitation of sex workers, and having government-funded rehab programs to get addicts off of junk.
Deeper than that issue, though, is how pleasure-seeking is a mere manic defence against the depressing reality of alienation, as I’ve arguedelsewhere. Instead of understanding libido as satisfying drives through pleasure-seeking, we need to promote an object-directed libido (by objects, I mean people other than oneself, the subject; hence, object-directed libido is, as Fairbairn understood it, an urge to cultivate human relationships). And the promotion of loving human relationships is part of what socialism is about.
III: Hollywood and Pop Culture
Entertainment as escape to fantasy is especially apparent in the liberal media empire known as Hollywood. Anyone who has read enough of my blog posts knows that I like to write up analyses of films, many of which are mainstream ones. Sometimes I do psychoanalytic interpretations of them, sometimes I do Marxist ones, and sometimes a combination of the two.
This does not mean, however, that I have any illusions about these all-t00-reactionary films. My Marxist interpretations are deliberately subversive: I wish to turn these narratives into various threads of a leftist mythology, if you will, in order to counter the liberal/CIA–laced propaganda narratives Hollywood is brainwashing the public with.
Another reason I believe my Marxist slant is justified in interpreting these liberal narratives is because I see them as reflecting the conflicted liberal psyche I outlined above. The liberal’s superego demands films that promote equality, but his id wants the gratification of pleasure and the maintenance of the usual class privileges. Hollywood may be liberal, but it’s also a business. Hence, there’s a mask of the idealized liberal version of equality (identity politics, etc.) in these movies, but behind that mask are manifestations of class contradictions the liberal would rather you didn’t see.
‘Liberty and equality’ in these films, past and present, are defined in bourgeois contexts, as in Casablanca; peel away the mask, though, and note how subordinate blacks like Sam are. American Psycho is masked as a scathing critique of yuppies far more than of the capitalist world they embody…which you’d see if you removed the mask. The old Planet of the Apes movies idealized a peaceful coexistence between ape (symbolizing the proletariat, in my interpretation) and man (symbolizing the bourgeoisie), rather than promoting revolution (which was toned down in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes). Political corruption is seen as sensationalistic and titillating in Caligula, while the real oppression of slavery sits almost unnoticed in the background…behind the mask.
With the growing of neoliberalism, though, Hollywood movies have resolved the id/superego conflict, on the one hand, through identity politics (showing us strong women and blacks, as well as sympathetic portrayals of LGBT people, etc.), and on the other hand, through an upholding not only of the class structure of society (e.g., CEOs who are black and/or women, as opposed to promoting worker self-management), but also of imperialism and perpetual war (check out the spate of DC and Marvel superhero movies to see my point).
Whenever class issues are addressed, they’re rarely if ever dealt with in order to promote revolution; rather, it’s just as if to say, “Here, we acknowledged the problem–good enough.” Consider such films as Elysium, Snowpiercer, and Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi to see my point. Thus is the superego placated, while the id is indulged.
Liberal pop stars like Bono and Madonna put on a show of caring about human rights, yet they’re bourgeois through and through. Consider her shameful support of Israel through her planned Eurovision concert; on the other hand, she felt morally justified in opposing only the Trump facet of the ruling class, promising blow jobs to those who voted for Hillary, as if Trump’s non-election would have made much of a difference.
IV: Julian Assange
Trump’s election certainly made no difference as to Julian Assange‘s fate, despite all this nonsense of the last few years of him and Russia supposedly helping Trump win in 2016. Trump, who repeatedly spoke of how he loved Wikileaks, and of how fascinating Wikileaks is, now says he knows nothing about it, and that it is of no consequence to him, now that Assange has been carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy.
Now we expect repressive, authoritarian measures from conservatives like Trump against journalists who make them look bad…but where are all the liberals, those who loved Assange when he exposed the imperialist brutality of the Bush administration, but changed their tune when it was the brutal imperialism of Obama’s administration, and of Hillary’s corruption, that was exposed?
On top of liberals’ splitting of the political establishment into ‘good DNC, bad GOP,’ we also see the displacement of blame from the rightly accused (Hillary and the rest of the Obama administration) to the whistleblower (Assange). The same, of course, goes for Chelsea Manning’s persecution, a displacement of blame from the murderous US army to she who accused them.
That same liberal former Facebook friend of mine (Peter) used to speak ill of Assange right up until Trump’s surprise election. Peter went on about how Assange had ‘lost all credibility’ (according to mainstream liberal propaganda, of course), even though not oneWikileaks publication has ever been proven false. He also described Assange with the most eloquent of language, calling him “a fucktard.” He claimed, back in 2016, that Ecuador was sick of putting up with Assange living in their embassy, when left-leaning Rafael Correa wanted to protect him there, and it’s only with Lenin Moreno’s election (and money from the IMF!) that Assange has been kicked out.
Liberals backslide and betray the people at the very moment when their class privilege is threatened. That’s what Mao observed in ‘Combat Liberalism’: “liberalism stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude…To let things slide, for the sake of peace and friendship…To let things drift if they do not affect one personally…To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge…It is negative and objectively has the effect of helping the enemy; that is why the enemy welcomes its preservation in our midst. Such being its nature, there should be no place for it in the ranks of the revolution.” (Mao, pages 177-179) This is why liberals are no friends of the left.
Stalin once called social democracy “the moderate wing of fascism.” On the face of it, his words may seem excessive; but when you consider how liberals like Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and Gabbard (in spite of, to her credit, Gabbard’s opposition to the war in Syria and defence of Assange) have no intention of overturning the capitalist system–instead, they would just soften it in order to stave off revolution–the logic of Stalin‘s words is revealed.
As I explained in my ouroborosposts, the clock ticks counter-clockwise from social democracy, then to mainstream centrist liberalism, then to neoliberalism, and finally to fascism. It’s not enough to be ‘left-leaning’ to turn the ticking back in the clockwise direction. Only a hard-left stance will have the necessary force to counteract the counterrevolution of the last fifty years: this means such things as ridding ourselves of anti–Stalin and anti-Mao propaganda, to arrive at the truth of the value of the communist alternative; for imperialism is a formidable foe that requires a resistance far more effective than the pathetically weak one offered by liberals.
Detectives Surian and Thurston sat at the tip rail in The Gold Star that night, waiting for Callie to come onstage. A nude stripper was doing the last song of her floorshow. She spread her legs in front of Thurston.
Surian laughed at him for the embarrassment she saw on his face. “C’mon, Andy,” she said. “Enjoy yourself.”
“You’re the only one for me, Agnes,” he said in her ear.
“Oh, fuck off, Andy,” she said. “Pussy is pussy. You’re a guy, aren’t you? Live a little. I don’t care.”
“I care that you don’t,” he said…and meant that. He always flirted with Agnes Surian because he really liked her. “You’re much prettier than she is.”
“Bullshit I am,” she said. “That woman has a much better body than I have.”
“I’ll always like your brown eyes, and that cute brunette bob cut of yours, to that woman’s silicone anytime.”
“You’re not getting me that easily, Andy. Watch her.”
“Every time you talk like that, Agnes, you remind me of my high school crush, the girl you look like, who friend-zoned me and broke my heart.”
“She was that plain-looking and flat-chested, eh?”
“Oh, come one! You have more boob than that, more real boob than that stripper, and more smarts, which I find especially attractive.”
“Oh, aren’t you sweet. Stare at her ass, not at me.”
“Really. Your hunches about perps are accurate as fuck. You found the beast.”
“Who’s coming on next,” Surian reminded him. “Just don’t let yourself get mesmerized when she’s onstage. We don’t wanna lose…’Chloe’…again.”
“Agreed,” he said, glad the stripper’s spread was no longer in front of his face. “You remember what ‘Chloe’ looks like?”
“Yeah, I saw her over on the other side of the bar a while ago. You’ll see her soon.”
The song ended, and the stripper left the stage.
“All right, gentlemen,” the DJ announced as Callie got on the stage. “Let’s give a big hand for this sexy lady. Here’s…Chloe.” A chorus of men’s cheers pounded on the detectives’ eardrums.
“Remember, Andy,” Surian said in Thurston’s ear. “As soon as you smell those sexy pheromones, hold your breath. She uses that smell to fuck with our heads.”
“Got it,” he said. “Then we follow her, and if we can get a chance to see a transformation, we get video of it on our cellphones to show that prick, Detective Hicks, and get him to believe us.”
“Yes,” she said. They looked up at Callie with grins as she shook her ass in that tight dress and those black fishnet stockings.
At about 2:00 AM, the detectives had followed Callie to the apartment of a man she was about to have sex with. They were lucky enough to be able to climb up to a third-floor balcony where they could look in a window and see her nude body bouncing on top of her lover in bed.
“I can’t believe we were lucky enough to find the right room so fast,” Thurston said.
“I can,” Surian said. “She seems to have the power to lure people anywhere she needs them to be. She probably put the intuition in our heads to look here first.”
“You mean she wanted us to find her here?” he asked. “You think she can do that?”
“Yes,” Surian said. “If she has the power to turn into a hairy, clawed beast, she probably has all kinds of powers, including her power to hypnotize us with those pheromones. She wants us here, and wants us to follow her around for some reason–I don’t know what that is, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. So we’ll have to watch out for any traps she tries to set for us.”
“OK,” he said. They both took out their cellphones and set them to video camera. “I feel like a porno director.”
“Enjoy your perviness,” she said. “She’s hot, isn’t she?”
“I’d rather be pervy with you, Agnes. You’re hotter.”
“Shut up. I am not.”
“Oh, yes, you are.”
“Just get video of the proof, and stop hitting on me.”
They had been getting video of Callie and the man having sex in the cowgirl position for a minute or two before, at the sight of her wiggling tits, Thurston opened his mouth: “Check out bouncing Chloe.”
“Oh, behave yourself, Andy,” Surian said.
“You said, ‘Enjoy your perviness,’ Agnes,” he said.
“In your private thoughts, please,” she said. “I’m not a dude. I don’t wanna hear it.”
“Wait: what are they doing now?” he asked after seeing the man roll over and get on top of her. He got her on all fours. “So, he wants to do her doggy-style now?”
“No, wait,” Callie said, loud enough for the detectives to hear. Her lover was trying to enter her anally.
A flashback went past Callie’s eyes: Mort rolling over and rolling her over on all fours, so he could sodomize her…back when she was thirteen.
“No!” Callie shouted again.
“Oh, c’mon, baby!” the man said, starting to push in.
“I said…NO!” she shouted, growling the last word.
“Holy shit!” the detectives whispered together as they saw hair grow out all over Callie’s body. Her lover moved back, startled and speechless, his eyes and mouth wide open.
“You’re recording all this, right?” Surian asked in a shaky voice, her eyes agape.
“Yeah,” Thurston gasped with his jaw all the way down. “Are you?”
“Of course. Oh, my God!”
Callie’s lover screamed, then her claws sliced across his throat, splashing blood all over the bed. He fell on his right side, shaking, clutching his throat, and coughing out blood. The beast stabbed its claws, both hands, into his chest. He no longer moved. Surian and Thurston were now the ones shaking.
Then the beast looked at the window.
“Oh, shit!” the detectives said when the eyes of the smiling beast met theirs. It jumped off the bed, bounced on the floor, and flew at the window. “Fuck!” the detectives cried.
They dodged apart from each other in time for the beast to break through the glass and fly out between them. It landed on the front lawn of the apartment and ran off.
Thurston called backup. “The beast is back,” he said. “It’s running down Jarvis Street towards Isabella Street. Surian and I will wait for it at Edward Road, on the other side of town. Hurry!”
Whenever cops confronted the beast as it ran and jumped down this or that road, a mere whiff of its intoxicating pheromonal smell, which quickly spread around everywhere it went, overpowered the cops to the point that they couldn’t aim their guns at it, much less fire at it.
The smell even got into the police cars through opened windows or car doors, causing a fog of disorientation that made it impossible to follow the beast. By about 5 AM, it had returned to Edward Road, to the alley next to Callie’s apartment building. The two detectives had been waiting.
Hiding behind the bushes in Edward Park across the road, they grinned to see the beast plodding along in exhaustion, leaving a trail of tufts of its hair. It entered the alley and went behind the crates, as it had last time.
The detectives came out from the bushes and crossed the road. With their pistols cocked, they entered the alley.
The beast lay asleep behind those crates again. Surian and Thurston put their guns away and took out their cellphones, which they reset to video camera. They began to record video of the beast from the shoulders up.
All those hairs on its skin were slithering back, retreating into their follicles. Its claws were shortening, changing back into fingernails.
“This is…incredible,” Thurston whispered. “Wow!”
“I know, but don’t make any noise,” Surian whispered. “She might wake up and get hairy again.”
Callie’s hair changed from brown back to blonde. Now fully changed from beast back to beauty, she lay there still asleep, the same nude sex goddess she was every night in The Gold Star, all clean, freshened up, and as if ready for a Playboy photo shoot.
“She doesn’t even need to pretty herself up in the bathroom,” Surian gasped, still in amazement at what they’d seen. “This is some kind of major supernatural shit we’re seeing here. You got all that recorded, Andy?”
“Yep,” he said with a smile. “We have all the proof we need. This should make Hicks finally take us seriously.”
Callie woke up.
“Good morning, ‘Chloe,’ or Sandra, or whatever your name is,” Surian said with a triumphant smile. “We’ve finally got you.”
“Hi,” Callie said with an ear-to-ear grin, not at all intimidated by them.
Before the detectives could hold their breath, they’d already inhaled a huge whiff of that aphrodisiac pheromone smell. Their heads were swaying from side to side.
“How about a threesome, detectives?” Callie asked. “I know you two like each other, and I know you both like me.”
Surian and Thurston got down on their knees. They dropped their cellphones on the ground. His head went between Callie’s spread legs; Surian’s lips wrapped themselves around Callie’s left nipple. Both detectives began sucking, kissing, and licking. Callie took a cellphone in each hand.
Her hands let out a glow surrounding both cellphones. The demoness’s power erased the memory of the video recordings. Callie orgasmed from Thurston’s lips and tongue on her clitoris, spraying come into his mouth. Kluh’s magic caused Callie to lactate, feeding Surian generous gulps of milk.
Now with the demoness’s fluids inside them, the detectives moved away from Callie’s body; for those fluids were now swimming inside the detectives’ bodies, giving Kluh direct psychic control of both of them. Still mesmerized, the two began French-kissing on the ground there in the alley as Callie got up and walked out of the alley, insouciant about her nudity, her hands at her sides and allowing anyone watching at the time to see all of her body if he or she wished to.
She went to the front door of her apartment building and used her power to unlock it, just by using the tip of her finger to tap on the keyhole. She did the same with that of her apartment, with no need of a key, when she’d reached her floor from the elevator. A hypnotized neighbour of her latest victim would soon arrive at the door of her apartment with her purse and clothes.
The detectives snapped out of their stupor after another ten minutes of necking. Thurston gave Surian a few more kisses on the lips and cheek.
“Stop it!” she said, slapping him. “You pig!”
“Oh, come on, cutie-pie,” he said, rubbing his cheek. “You were as into the kissing as I was.”
“‘Chloe’ used her power to make us do that, to distract us while she got away,” she said. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. We got video of both transformations.” They picked up their cellphones and checked where they’d saved the video recordings. We can finally prove–“
“Hey, what happened to them?” he said, frowning.
“She must have erased them while we were…fuck!”
“Let’s go find her apartment.”
“She’ll probably elude us again. We’ll have to think of a different strategy. I’d like to know what she does with herself when she isn’t stripping. I’d like to follow her around in the day, and see if there’s anything we can learn about her that way.”
“Yeah, in any case, we still have that sexy smell of hers fogging up our brains. We can’t think straight, so we can’t do much here and now.”
Yes, follow me around in the day, Callie/Kluh thought as she lay on her bed on her back. Learn more about me through Dr. Visner.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a 1972 rock album by David Bowie. The eleven songs on the album together tell the story of Ziggy Stardust, a messenger who tells of saviour aliens coming to an Earth that has five years left before all life on it must come to an end. He tries to save the Earth in the form of an androgynous, bisexual rock star, but his arrogance, excesses, and decadent lifestyle end up destroying him. The songs were written first, and the story grew around them later.
The album shot Bowie into stardom, and it’s now considered one of the most important albums in rock history. Bowie toured in the Ziggy persona for several years; but his immersion into the character blurred the line between him and Ziggy, almost driving him over the edge. This going-over-the-edge is similar both to that of Vince Taylor, Ziggy’s main inspiration, and that of ‘Maxwell Demon,’ the persona of Brian Slade in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, inspired by Ziggy Stardust.
Here is a link to the lyrics for all the songs on the album.
“Five Years” introduces the problem of the story: it isn’t specified what the cause is, but “we had five years left to cry in.” The end of the world is nigh, apparently. Environmental destruction? Nuclear war between the NATO and Warsaw pact countries? No cause is stated explicitly, if it’s even implied. Bowie paints a vivid verbal picture of the traumatized reaction of everybody, but little more than that.
There are, however, a few hints as to what’s really going on. First of all, consider who the would-be messiah is: an alien whose herald is a bisexual, androgynous rock star? What can such a messenger do beyond entertain? Adults understand this, but the idolizing teenager sees so much more in the heroes he or she worships.
This story is a teenage fantasy, a melodrama in which rock stars are messengers of saviours, and mundane problems are seen as apocalyptic. How often have we heard adolescents over-dramatize whatever upsets them, acting as though their problems are heralding ‘the end of the world’? They do this again, and again, and again…
Consider the chord sequence of almost the whole song: G major, E minor, A major, and C major–four chords, repeated in a cycle throughout the song (save for the fat/skinny, tall/short, nobody/somebody people verse–A minor to C major [twice], G major to C major, D major 7th, and A minor to C major–not much of a variation). Anyone who listens closely to David Bowie songs, especially those of the 1970s, will typically hear manychordchanges and variations within each song. “Five Years,” with its repetitive four chords, is symbolic of that adolescent melodrama of, “Mom! Dad! You’re ruining my life! My life is over!” happening again and again, in teenage crisis after teenage crisis.
Those five years are rumoured to have been the result of a dream Bowie had, in which his deceased father told him he would die in five years; but I see the choice of five years ’til ‘Armageddon’ as going from turning 13 to turning 18, or from turning 14 to turning 19…five years of emotional crises; perhaps a teenage fear of not being able to take care of oneself upon reaching the independence of adulthood. This fear of freedom is something Erich Fromm once explored.
The first time I heard this song, back when I was a teen, I was struck by how different Bowie’s voice sounded. It wasn’t his more usual baritone; he sang the song in a more boyish-sounding upper register, suggesting he was telling the story from a teen’s point of view.
Aside from the teen perspective, though, there are other interesting observations. Life is equated with suffering, since “we had five years left to cry in,” rather than live in. The teen narrator is observant in how deceptive the media is, since by his noting of the reporter’s tears, he “knew he was not lying.”
The teen wishes he could escape the pain by distracting himself, thinking of pop culture-oriented things, entertainment, etc.: “opera house, favourite melodies, boys, toys,…and TVs” (he and the other teenagers will be distracted by the pop culture icon, Ziggy Stardust, soon enough), but this manic defence cannot cure his despair.
His head is in pain; it feels “like a warehouse, it had no room to spare.” Now, he’s trying to cram in people, instead of pleasurable things; for as Fairbairn observed, correcting Freud, our libido is object-seeking (that is, seeking relationships with other people–objects are people other than oneself, the subject), not seeking to achieve pleasure, or the gratification of drives.
The boy is cramming “so many people”: fat/skinny, tall/short, nobody/somebody–these pairs of opposites sound like merisms, figures of speech often found in the Bible (heaven/earth, good/evil, as in the first three chapters of Genesis) meant to indicate the whole range from one extreme to the other. In other words, the teen is stuffing the internalized objects of people of all shapes, sizes, social classes, and of everything between the extremes of fame and obscurity, into his head, in a desperate attempt to escape the despair and desolation of loneliness that the imminent destruction of his world would cause for him.
The boy sees child abuse caused by the stress felt from the global crisis: a girl his age hits some children, rather like an elder sibling imitating the abusiveness of his parents. A black person stops her, saving the kids. This vignette suggests a number of the social issues many were especially concerned with at the time: the teen girl’s imitation of parental abuse suggests she isn’t observing the dictum, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” We also see a negation of the stereotype of the black criminal, by making a black man the hero this time. Teens of the early Seventies would have been sensitive to anti-establishment ideas like these.
A soldier stares at a Cadillac: he’s a member of the working class, who often die for the rich during war; he contemplates the luxury he himself can never enjoy, but for which he slaves away, so the ruling class can enjoy it. A cop defers to religious authority, disgusting a gay man who has been persecuted by that very authority.
The boy sees his love in an ice cream parlour, “looking so fine.” He feels “like an actor”–presumably in a melodramatic love story, or perhaps, in his teenage identity crisis, he doesn’t feel like his True Self. He wants his mother; he wants to regress back to an early childlike state, to an easier, less stressful time.
He thinks of his love, “drinking milkshakes cold and long.” He mentions his love’s “race”: is this person black? Is this the cause of his emotional crisis, the ‘end of the world’ for him? Have his conservative parents rejected his love for being a non-white? (Or is he black, and is his love white?) Is his love a she…or a he?
If he is in an interracial relationship, how does this tie in with the black person stopping the teen girl from beating the kids? His open-mindedness towards other racial groups for lovers is commendable, but is his choice of a (presumably non-white) partner meant as a deliberate act of defiance against his parents’ authority? If so, is his seeing a black person saving kids from a teen girl’s assault actually a wish-fulfilling dream, the girl representing his (immature) mom, the kids representing him (and similarly bullied teens), and the black person representing his love?
Does he want his love “to walk” up to him? “To walk” free from prejudice? Anyway, they have five years that he’s so obsessed with, it’s “stuck on [his] eyes,” and the “surprise” sounds like sarcasm; for he’s been through these brain-hurting crises so many times before, and will again so many times in the future, hence the repetitiveness of the song’s chord progression.
“Soul Love” expresses the pitfalls of idolatrous “love” in several different forms. There’s the fake love of patriotism, the “slogan” of fighting for one’s country, leading to a mother’s tears at the sight of her son’s headstone in a cemetery.
Another form of idolatrous love is the puppy love of a teenage boy and girl speaking “new words.” But “love is careless,” descending over “those defenceless.” “Sweeping over, cross a baby,” could mean lovemaking resulting in an unwanted teen pregnancy, or it could mean the Cross that the baby Jesus, another idol, would eventually give His love on. Furthermore, “love is not loving.” The idolized ideal is far from the real thing.
“The flaming dove” could be religious zeal for the Holy Spirit, or the burning destruction of peace when “idiot love will spark the fusion” resulting in nuclear war, that foolish love of conquering an enemy (i.e., those ‘commies’ during the Cold War), instead of the wise love of learning how to coexist with differing ideologies. The “idiot love” could also cause “the fusion” resulting in an unwanted pregnancy.
The “soul love” of a Catholic priest tasting the Host (“the Word” made flesh…and in this case, made bread) is “told of love” of the Most High God as “all love” (1 John 4:8); but Bowie sings that his “loneliness evolves by the blindness that surrounds Him.” Evolutionarytheoryhelpsexpose the phoney idolatry of religious faith, freeing man from Church authoritarianism, but also leaving us to feel alone and insignificant, in need of a new idol to worship, a new leader to follow blindly, as Fromm observed:
“When one has become an individual, one stands alone and faces the world in all its perilous and overpowering aspects.
“Impulses arise to give up one’s individuality, to overcome the feeling of aloneness and powerlessness by completely submerging oneself in the world outside.” (Fromm, page 29) The teen, rejecting parental or Church authority, nonetheless needs a new leader to follow, someone in whom he can submerge his individuality so he no longer feels alone or insignificant. The stage is set for Ziggy Stardust’s arrival.
“Moonage Daydream” is more of a surrealist vignette than a continuation of the album’s narrative. Incoherent imagery (“I’m an alligator. I’m a mama/papa coming for you…a pink monkey-bird…,” etc.) abounds, like the automatic, random ramblings of the unconscious, a teenager’s “moonage daydream” of his coming rock ‘n’ roll messiah-herald, his dream as wish-fulfillment.
The notion of a wish for salvation through rock ‘n’ roll is accentuated with Mick Ronson‘s power chord at the beginning of the song. This “moonage daydream” is a teenage fantasy in which the teen hopes his rock ‘n’ roll idol will “lay the real thing on [him],” and prove that he really cares for the fan.
The daydream could be seen as a surreal dialogue between the rock star and his fan. We keep the “‘lectric eye” (the TV camera) on the star, while he presses his “space face close to” the fan’s. This “church of man,” a secular church of rock ‘n’ roll to replace that of the Bible-thumpers, “is such a holy place to be,” for it frees us of the repressions of the past.
“Starman” advances the story with Ziggy Stardust heralding the coming of a saviour from outer space. The message is heard on a rock radio station; then, those Earthlings who hear it hope to learn more “on Channel Two,” on their TVs. Here we see how the media mesmerizes us with pop culture icons, who distract us from our real problems by tempting us to idolize rock stars; but as we learned from “Soul Love,” love (i.e., the idolatry of celebrities, religious figures, or partners who may break our hearts in the future) is not loving (i.e., real, selfless love).
The melody Bowie sings at the beginning of the chorus, with its upward leap of an octave and step down a semitone, reminds us of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” We’re being lured into a fantasy world, the adoration of a rock star, when we should focus on our reality on Earth; Dorothy similarly dreamed of an ideal world to escape from dreary Kansas–she’d want to return home soon enough, though. Little children were charmed by the Land of Oz; teenage “children” will “boogie” to Ziggy’s musical message.
“It Ain’t Easy” has fewer chord changes than even “Five Years.” It isn’t a Bowie composition, though: it was written by Ron Davies. Bowie nonetheless did make a few lyrical changes to the song, in particular, this one: “With the help of the good Lord [instead of “patience and understanding”], we can all pull on through.” Such a change reinforces the album’s theme of reliance on religion, a form of idolatrous love that is a drug to distract us from our problems–recall, in this regard, what Marx had to say about religion.
Another contrast is between Davies’s bluesy original and the dainty melancholy of Bowie’s version, accentuated by Rick Wakeman‘s harpsichord playing. The repetition of the song’s few chord changes, like the four of “Five Years,” can be heard to symbolize the mundane normality of our unhappiness: same shit, different day.
“We will all pull on through, get there in the end. Sometimes it’ll take you right up, and sometimes down again.” The idolatrous love that religion and rock stars inspire only temporarily raises our spirits; like the highs and depressing coming-down on drugs, these manic defences aren’t omnipotent.
Side Two of the album establishes the arrival of rock ‘n’ roll prophet Ziggy Stardust. Now, “Lady Stardust” is actually about androgynous Marc Bolan, but the song still fits the narrative, since Ziggy represents glam rock stars like Bolan, Lou Reed, Jobriath, and of course Bowie. The boys and girls gaze on the beautiful star in pagan adoration.
While Ziggy is often confused with the extraterrestrials he’s heralding, it shouldn’t really matter whether he’s merely an earthly messenger or a quasi-divine alien. Rock stardom, here a metaphor for organized religion, shows that the distinction between messenger and message is typically blurred. The Bible is often perceived as infallible, even when its message of love is ignored; rock stars are practically deified by their fans, when it’s really their performances that should be admired. Jesus is God according to Christians; he’s a prophet according to Muslims. Religion on TV is entertainment as distracting as rock ‘n’ roll.
“Star” begins with references to men who tried to improve their world through methods more down-to-earth than Ziggy’s. “Tony” is involved in the troubles in Northern Ireland, with the conflict between Britain and the IRA. Nye Bevan, as the UK Minister of Health from 1945 to 1951, tried to improve health care in England by socializing it. Some try to make things better, others fail and suffer.
Ziggy, however, imagines he can save the world by announcing the alien saviour “as a rock ‘n’ roll star.” He finds it “so enticing to play the part.” While Bowie himself had been without a major hit since “Space Oddity,” and therefore “could do with the money”; this preoccupation with cashing in on selling salvation through the media is chillingly redolent of the TV evangelists.
Yet since, as I argued in my examination of “Lady Stardust,” it doesn’t matter all that much whether Ziggy’s the alien himself of just an Earthly messenger of the Starman (because the religious tend to revere prophets almost on the same level as gods), then Ziggy and his band could themselves be the sons of God enjoying the daughters of men in their hotels every night. ‘Sons of God’ could be angels, gods, or otherwise quasi-divine beings, or they could be the descendants of Seth; therefore, Ziggy et al could be terrestrial or extraterrestrial, actual spiders from Mars.
In spite of the light-hearted attitude towards screwing groupies, though, they’d still “better hang on to [themselves].” For all of this freewheeling partying will ultimately lead to Ziggy’s self-destruction, just as the mating of the sons of God with the daughters of men led to the Deluge and destruction of the Earth, this latter already something expected to happen in five years.
“Ziggy Stardust” tells the whole story in brief, but from the point of view of the envious Spiders from Mars. Ziggy’s an amazing talent on the guitar, but “he took it all too far.” Ziggy lets his talent and fame go to his head, “making love with his ego.” He imagines himself as godlike, “jiving us that we were voodoo.” The fans recognize that, in his growing egotism, Ziggy isn’t the saviour they’ve thought he is, so they kill him, and that’s the end of the band. The idolatrous always suffer bitter disappointment when reality hits them in the face.
“Suffragette City” is about Ziggy’s relationship with a woman who’s great in bed, but has him so wrapped around her finger that she won’t let him hang out with his male friends. The power-based relationship is given a tongue-in-cheek comparison to men’s relationship with feminism, since Manchester, England was a major city for the growth of the Suffragette movement.
One of the hurdles in the fight for equality of the sexes is the perception that it involves onesex trying to dominate the other. Accordingly, feminists are perceived as ruling over their boyfriends/husbands in exchange for sex. On the other hand, a young man without a girlfriend or wife is seen as a freewheeling “droogie” running around partying, doing drugs, destroying property, beating people up, and even engaging in sexual impropriety (as Bowie himself was apparently guilty of with then-underage Lori Maddox).
What’s interesting, from the point of view of this song, though, is how rock star and groupie have changed roles: the idol has become the idolater, and vice versa. A son of the gods, having mated with a daughter of men, has become a son of men mating with a daughter of the gods. The dominant and submissive have swapped positions.
So, part of Ziggy’s self-destruction as a rock star is his ‘domestication’ by his girlfriend, thus losing his power and status as a rock-and-roll demigod; part of it is his having disappointed his fans by not delivering the salvation he’s promised; and most importantly, part of it is the drinking and drugs he’s overindulged in.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” focuses on that self-destructiveness through the excess partying. You can smoke the cigarette of time quickly, or you can savour it; live life in the fast lane, or take life with a relaxed attitude. Teenagers are stuck at a time of life of being “too old” and “too young” at the same time, too young to be partying to excess, but too old to be overprotected as children.
Early in the morning, one may “stumble across the road” drunk and stoned after a night of partying, which is a manic defence against all that is depressing to a teen…the “five years left to cry in.” Ziggy knows that kind of pain, for he’s “had [his] share.”
Even in his dying, Ziggy tries to comfort all the teens that he’s disappointed with his “religiously unkind” posturing as a prophet (making him no better than the priests and televangelists). Still, his advice is worth hearing: “Oh, no, love, you’re not alone!”
One of Bowie’s musical influences was Jacques Brel, whose “Jef” has been echoed in this song: “Non, Jef, t’es pas tout seul.” Brel comforts his friend Jef, after his girlfriend has dumped him and broken his heart; Ziggy comforts his teen fans after he himself has disappointed them, breaking their hearts. “You’re not alone!” Don’t let alienation get you down! “You’re wonderful!” You don’t need to identify with a rock star to feel worthy, teens. You’re already wonderful, just as you are.
The song climaxes with a whirlwind of chord changes and modulations suggesting the complicated emotions teens go through during those turbulent years. After the C major to A major sequence beginning with “Oh, no, love, you’re not alone,” we hear those words again with a chord progression of C-sharp minor, G-sharp minor, B major, D-sharp minor, B-flat minor, C-sharp major, B major, D-sharp minor, B-flat minor, and C-sharp major. Then, repeated chromatic ascents from B-flat major to C-sharp major are heard as Bowie sings, “Just turn on with me, and you’re not alone!…Give me your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful!” etc.
The lesson to be learned from this album is that, no matter what ‘apocalypse’ of “Five Years” we’re about to suffer, “No matter what or who you’ve been, no matter when or where you’ve seen, all the knives seem to lacerate your brain,” we don’t need an idol to “get there in the end.” No messengers of such idols, as the media likes to distract us with–be they priests, televangelists, or rock stars–are going to help us “all pull on through.”
It’s knowing that we’re not alone, that is, we’re all sharing the same sorrows and alienation of one form or another, that will comfort us, through our mutual empathy (that is, through Ron Davies’s “patience and understanding”). And if we give each other our hands in that empathic attitude, to help each other in solidarity, we’ll realize we have a lot more than just five years to live in.
Ten minutes before his therapy session with Callie, Dr. Visner was sitting at his desk thinking about her.
I remind her of her stepfather, he thought as he looked over his notes. He tricked her into thinking she enjoyed the sex with him. She looks at me with desire in her eyes, and I don’t think that’s just my countertransference making me want to think she wants me, though I must be careful with my countertransference. She is beautiful and desirable, that stripper, and because of the sexual abuse she suffered from her stepfather, her transference with me–though amorous on the surface–will have unconscious hostility to me, too.
Beyond the obvious ethical problems of me possibly being involved with her sexually, he continued in his meditations, there’s the danger of her turning violent on me. Her stepfather, Mort Brahms, it turns out was the man killed by that animal in the Hamilton news story…and there have been sightings of such a beast here in Toronto, after the killings of two men during sex with them. She must have delusions that she’s this beast. Does she own a pet of some exotic kind? Does she dress up in a furry costume, with fake claws? The police insist that the victims didn’t have knife wounds, but claw wounds. The men wouldn’t have fucked her when she was wearing such a costume, I think it’s safe to assume; few men would be turned on by that. She wouldn’t have changed into such a costume right after the kills, for she was at their homes, and why would she carry the costume around? I can’t seriously be expected to believe she transforms into a beast, as with her Hulk fixation, so what’s going on?
His receptionist spoke on the intercom: “Ms. Seaver is here for her appointment, Dr. Visner.”
“OK,” he said. “Send her in.”
Callie entered the room. His jaw dropped.
She was wearing a sleeveless, skin-tight, PVC red dress that went half-way down her upper legs and showed off a generous amount of cleavage. She also wore black fishnet stockings and matching high heels. She’d painted her face with thick black mascara, purple eye shadow, pink blush, and red lipstick.
“What do you think?” she asked with a grin. “Do you like it?” She turned around for him, then sat in a chair facing him. Without panties, she at first had her knees together, but over the next several minutes she would slowly, almost imperceptibly, open her legs. As her legs drifted open, that pheromone emanated from her.
He took a deep breath and resisted looking between her legs. “Why are you…dressed like that?” he asked. The pheromone buzz was already beginning to affect him; his eyes were half-closed, and his head swayed left to right.
“I’ll be stripping at The Gold Star tonight,” she said. “As soon as we finish here, I’ll be going over there, so I won’t have time to change. Besides, I wanted to look hot for you.”
He pushed himself to regain control. “Don’t I…remind you…of your hateful stepfather? He who…cruelly sodomized you, and drove your mother…to suicide?”
“You may look like Mort, but I can see you’re a much better man than he ever was.”
“I see.” With effort, he was writing notes. Don’t grill her on Mort’s death, he thought, blinking a lot. Discuss it only if she brings it up, and even then, be tactful. “But you…hardly know anything about me. How do you know…I’m any better than he was?”
“I know enough,” she and Kluh said together, as they were always communicating together now; indeed, Callie’s personality had become barely distinct from that of the demoness. Their souls were like circles in a Venn diagram that overlapped about ninety percent, with only thin edges of the one soul and the other not touching. Because of this psychic closeness with the mind-reading demoness, Callie’s ‘knowing enough’ about Visner was no exaggeration.
“You know…the idealized version…of a father/lover figure…that you’ve projected onto me,” the therapist nonetheless insisted. I feel high, he thought, still blinking.
“Is that so?” she asked, her legs wide open now, her agape eyes and pursed lips giving him no doubt that the exposure of her vulva was fully intentional. “Enlighten me.” The pheromone aroma grew more and more powerful.
“Y-yes, w-well…,” he began, stammering not so much from her exhibitionism, or the pheromones, as from her choice in clothes; for her outfit was an exact replica of that of a young Thai prostitute he’d enjoyed, many years ago, during the partying years of his youth in Southeast Asia, just before he began his master’s degree. “Because of your trauma, your personality has split into three…aspects, we’ll say.”
“You think I have three personalities?”
“No, I-I don’t think necessarily that–not yet, anyway. I’ll try to explain this…to you in a way…that w-won’t sound like…psychoanalytic jargon. I’ll use language you can understand. Y-you…”
“No need to dumb it down too much. I’m smarter than you think.”
“No, Callie, I don’t mean to condescend. Anyway, there’s you in your original ego-state, just wanting to connect with people, as we all do when we’re healthy. But, because of the divorce…of your parents, your father’s…distancing himself from you, then his death, your mother’s suicide, and your stepfather’s…rapes, that original you…has developed two other, subsidiary egos.”
“OK, I’m intrigued,” she said with a smirk, her legs still wide open. “What are these ‘subsidiary egos’?”
“Well, one of them is an angry, hateful, and even violent beast, so to speak.”
Her eyes widened. Her smirk grew wider.
“This ‘beast’ rejects people, because it’s been hurt…so many times by them, and it can only remember…pain and rejection itself. The other is…w-well…as you are now…full of lust and desire, e-eager for the fulfillment of pleasure.”
“Oh, you’re right about that,” she said, using her power to open her vagina into a big, black hole.
The pheromone smell was overpowering. Still, he held on to his composure, as shaky as he was getting. He just looked down at his notepad and wrote more notes, but his shaky hand made the words almost illegible.
“Don’t worry. I won’t let the beast get you.” She licked her lips at the visible erection in his pants.
“Do you want to talk about the beast?”
“I’d rather talk about the horny version of me.”
“I can see that.”
“Yeah…but you aren’t looking.”
“Do you feel insulted about that?”
“No. I know you want me. I can feel it. You’re just a little shy. Actually, your resistance makes you all the more attractive to me. Men who jump at every opportunity for sex are boring. You’ll come to me, though, in time.”
“I will, will I?” he asked with a smirk, looking directly into her eyes and trying his best not to look down.
“Oh, yes,” she said, still showing off that wide-open hole, and smiling from noticing his occasional, furtive looks. “As I said, the beast won’t kill you.”
“I’m not concerned…about a beast killing me.” His head was spinning from the sexy smell.
“You’ve been following the recent local news, haven’t you?”
“Of course I have. A hairy beast…killed two men…by slicing them up…with razor-sharp claws. Police claim…they’ve seen such an animal, a furry one…with a woman’s curves, running about…and jumping up high, in huge leaps, on the streets at night. Are you saying…that this beast is a part of you?”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “But you don’t believe that, do you?”
“I believe the beast…is a figment of your imagination.”
“But you do acknowledge that I killed those men, and Mort? You do acknowledge that the police really saw a hairy animal with a figure as curvy as mine?”
“I acknowledge…the possibility of your having…killed them. I acknowledge that people have seen…a beast out there; but I’m a psychotherapist, not a forensic scientist. I’ll leave it up to them…to decide if you killed those men, if there really is…a hairy animal out there, and if that animal…is connected with you…in any way other than…in your imagination.”
“You believe…you killed those men…as that beast, but I’m not yet convinced…that your guilt in those matters…is anything other than…a figment of your imagination. You’re clearly deeply disturbed…and traumatized; this trauma is making it difficult…for you to see things…as they are. I care about you, and I want to help you. You’re terribly fragmented, split up…into three parts.”
“Actually, the fragments are all coming together. You’ll be joining us, too, Doctor, in a very special way…in a way, in fact, that will go beyond how you came together with that girl prostitute in Bangkok many years back.”
The story is about a glam rock star from the 1970s named Brian Slade (Rhys Meyers), who fakes his own assassination and ‘disappears.’ What’s happened to him? Journalist Arthur Stuart (Bale) must find out, in a manner reminiscent of the search for the meaning of ‘Rosebud’ in Citizen Kane.
The film also includes a number of quotes from Oscar Wilde: those from The Picture of Dorian Gray interest me in particular, since Slade, like Gray, is a beautiful boy whose homoerotic, narcissistic charm and false public image leads to the suffering of many, especially his female love interest (Mandy Slade, played by Collette).
Here are quotes of Wilde’s used in the movie, all from The Picture of Dorian Gray, unless otherwise specified (the quotes aren’t letter perfect in the movie):
“An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them.” (Chapter 1, page 18) [In the film, Curt Wild says, “A real artist creates beautiful things and…puts nothing of his own life into them.”]
“Women defend themselves by attacking, just as they attack with sudden and strange surrenders.” (Chapter 5, page 76)
“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.” (Chapter 8, page 119)
“There were times when it appeared to Dorian Gray that the whole of history was merely the record of his own life, not as he had lived it in act and circumstance, but as his imagination had created it for him, as it had been in his brain and in his passions. He felt that he had known them all, those strange terrible figures that had passed across the stage of the world and made sin so marvellous, and evil so full of subtlety. It seemed to him that in some mysterious way their lives had been his own.” (Chapter 11, page 166)
“The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history.” (Chapter 20, page 252)
Here are some quotes from the movie:
Opening text: Although what you are about to see is a work of fiction, it should never the less be played at maximum volume.
“Histories like ancient ruins are the fictions of empires. While everything forgotten hangs in dark dreams of the past, ever threatening to return.” –female narrator
“I want to be a pop idol.” –young Oscar Wilde
“Childhood, adults always say, is the happiest time in life. But as long as he could remember, Jack Fairy knew better.” –female narrator
“Rock music has always been a reaction against accepted standards. And homosexuality has been going on for centuries. At the moment having a ‘gay’ image is the ‘in’ thing, just like a few years ago it was trendy to wear a long grey coat with a Led Zeppelin record under your arm.” –Trevor (Slade’s guitarist)
“Everyone’s into this scene because it’s supposedly the thing to do right now. But you just can’t fake being gay. You know, if you’re gonna claim that you’re gay you’re gonna have to make love in gay style, and most of these kids…just aren’t going to make it. That line, ‘Everybody’s bisexual’, that’s a very popular thing to say right now. Personally, I think it’s meaningless.” –Curt Wild
“He thought he fucking was Maxwell Demon in the end – you know? And Maxwell Demon…he thought he was God.” –Curt Wild
“I want you because you remember.” –Lou
“He was elegance, walking arm in arm with a lie.” –Cecil, of Slade
“The doctors guaranteed the treatment would fry the fairy clean out of him. But all it did was make him bonkers every time he heard electric guitar.” –Cecil, of Curt Wild
“Heroin used to be my main man. You could be my main man.” –Curt Wild, to Brian Slade
“You all know me – subtlety’s my middle name. It’s as subtle as the piece of skin between my vagina and my anus – ooh la! la! Now what’s that called, I can never quite remember…No man’s land? Oh gosh – my geesh, dah-ling!” –Mandy Slade
“It’s funny how beautiful people look when they’re walking out the door.” –Mandy Slade
“Time, places, people,… they’re all speeding up. So, to cope with this evolutionary paranoia, strange people are chosen who, through their art, can move progress more quickly.” –Mandy Slade
While the film received only mixed reviews and was not a box office success, it has since become a cult classic, as it should be at the very least, for it is a superb film, visually and sonically gorgeous.
Brian Slade is a rock star reminiscent of David Bowie (during his Ziggy Stardust years) and Jobriath. He’s also bisexual, as is Curt Wild (McGregor), who’s based on Iggy Pop; and the two glam icons have a gay affair during the time they’re musically collaborating.
The film begins with a spaceship delivering a baby (Oscar Wilde), with an emerald pin clasped to his blanket, on the doorstep of the Wilde family in Dublin in 1854. This pin symbolizes the special talents of those who wear it, in particular the artistic gifts of LGBT people, whose suffering from the prejudice of mainstream society shapes the expression of those talents.
The next person to own the pin is gender-bending Jack Fairy, whom we see as a child being bullied by his male classmates in the schoolyard, all for such effeminate tendencies as wearing lipstick. As an adult, he will be admired by the glam rock community for his daring androgyny. He is a true original.
The glam rock fans of the 1970s like to put their ‘bisexuality’ on display…but are they really bisexual, or do they merely posture as such because of bisexual chic? Curt Wild, speaking to a TV reporter, thinks many of them are faking being gay. This notion of posturing, of having a narcissistic False Self, is a major theme in the movie…artificiality…image.
Slade’s identification with his persona, “Maxwell Demon” (paralleling Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ an alien who comes to Earth, saves it, and becomes a rock-and-roll star, only to be destroyed in the end), goes to the point of almost driving him mad; he fakes his murder to be freed from the persona (a liberating from one’s False Self that is comparable to Dorian Gray’s stabbing his portrait with a knife, only to end up killing himself). Then, Slade becomes…someone else…
This escaping from reality, and from its pain, to build up a false self-image, is a manic defence, a mask to hide behind. Be a performer, and forget the pain that comes from the alienating bigotry and social rejection of the ‘freaks’ of the world: gays, transwomen, etc. Only through the flamboyant lie of being a rock star can we ever accept society’s deviants.
If you aren’t a star, though, then you’re just a lonely, sensitive fellow like journalist Arthur Stuart.
As a member of the largely closeted LGBT community, a closeting resulting from the AIDS scare of the mid-1980s that revived much of the homophobia that had been tamed somewhat in the 1970s, Stuart has little to smile about. The partying years of the glam rock era are no more; his hero–Slade–turned out to be a phoney to all his former fans; and so all Stuart has are the painful memories of a once-hopeful time (hopeful for gay liberation) long since dead.
And now he has to research those painful years for Lou, his newspaper editor.
He sits on the subway, moping and brooding over those years, while a few seats over from him, a child is wearing a mask of Tommy Stone, the current pop idol. That mask is symbolic, because in the end we learn that Stone is who Slade has become! Slade has replaced one mask for another; he’s gone from the fake image of a glam rock star to that of an 80s pop star.
As an appropriate soundtrack background to Stuart’s melancholy, we hear the sad piano notes beginning Slade’s “Hot One,” a song from Stuart’s past, lost and gone forever. The song, with its promo video, combines Slade’s openly-expressed bisexuality with the fantasy of being from outer space, a world far better than our shitty Earth.
Consider the prettiness of the voices whenever Rhys Meyers is not singing, as opposed to the rawness of his own voice. Not to disparage the immense talent of the other singers (Rhys Meyers, too, sings well, of course, but just with a different style); but my point is that the pretty vibratos of Craig Wedren of Shudder To Think and of Thom Yorke can be symbolically associated with the poseur primness of Slade’s Maxwell Demon persona, while Rhys Meyers’s earthier sound symbolically suggests the real Thomas Brian Patrick Stoningham Slade hiding underneath.
That ‘poseur,’ posturing voice is heard when Rhys Meyers’s Slade is mouthing the words of “Ladytron” to Collette’s Mandy, just before he steals her (and the emerald pin) from Jack Fairy. Recall the lyrics of the song: “I’ll use you, and I’ll confuse you, and then I’ll lose you…still, you won’t suspect me.” These words reflect the idealize, devalue, and discard phases of narcissists’ relationships with their victims…and these three things are exactly what happen to Mandy.
Since Slade is comparable to Dorian Gray in their narcissism, aestheticism, and libertine indulgence, so is his relationship with Mandy comparable to Gray’s with the actress Sibyl Vane. Gray loves Vane only when she acts well, that is, when she is not being herself; but when she does a poor performance of Juliet, showing obviously fake emotions because she’s too distracted in her love for him, he loses interest in her. (Wilde, Chapter seven, pages 97-102)
Similarly, Slade loves Mandy only when she does as much posturing (the American woman even faking an English accent) as he does. Later, he falls in love with the raw, real Curt Wild, she is doing less and less posturing, and Slade loses interest in her.
Slade has a love/hate relationship with his image; he’s told Wild, “A man’s life is his image.” He needs his phoney personae, but too much of living in them drives him mad. Dorian Gray has a similarly ambivalent relationship with the portrait Basil has painted of him: he envies and covets the permanence of its beauty, yearning to trade the impermanence of his own beauty with it; later, after the trade has been achieved, the picture’s growing ugliness, representing his growing sinfulness, makes him hate and fear the painting, since it’s a mirror to his soul.
Slade has also traded his True Self for the beauty of Maxwell Demon…later, Tommy Stone. And since Maxwell is paralleled to Bowie’s Ziggy, Tommy–in his white outfit, the next big image Slade has made for himself–can be paralleled with Bowie’s Thin White Duke, appearing in a white shirt from 1974-1977, right after Ziggy appeared. And as The Thin White Duke spoke in a pro-fascist way, there is Tommy Stone’s support for “President Reynolds” (sounds like right-wing Reagan) as “Excellent. Excellent. I think he’s doing brilliant work. He’s a–tremendous leader, tremendous spokesperson for the needs of the nation today.” (And post-Ziggy Bowie, as did Slade after the end of Maxwell, snorted a lot of cocaine.)
Slade repels his True Self, yet sees an idealized (i.e., fake!) version of it in Curt Wild’s raw energy. His falling in love with Wild is Narcissus adoring his reflection in the pond.
Wild’s excessive drug use, incompetence in the recording studio, and violent temper tantrums (to say nothing of Mandy’s jealousy) mean that Slade’s symbolic ‘True Self’ is unacceptable to his peers. When he loses Wild, he must lose his False Self, Maxwell Demon, too…for that False Self is a true demon, like Gray’s portrait.
Stuart’s also had to lose his False Self, the glitter-eye-makeup-wearing gay groupie of the band who coversT. Rex‘s “20th Century Boy” (actually performed by Placebo); and so now all he has is his melancholic, lonely True Self.
Slade’s indulgence in his Maxwell Demon persona, pushed to the extreme of thinking he is Maxwell (“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person! Give him a mask, and he’ll tell you the truth!”), is him going to the ouroboros’s biting head of extreme posturing. His love of earthy, real, proto-punk Curt Wild is Slade pushing past the biting head, over to the bitten tail of his ‘True Self,’ projected onto Wild, and therefore he’s not really being his True Self. This means Slade has not only gone past the serpent’s head to its tail, but he’s gone another circle around the ouroboros’s coiled body, back to the head. And since Wild can’t be the ‘True Self’ Slade needs him to be, their affair ends.
Similarly, teen Stuart–idolizing Slade, narcissistically identifying with him, and masturbating to pictures of Slade and Wild–shifts past the serpent’s biting head of an extreme False Self, and over to his True Self again, when his father catches him in his room and shames him for expressing his sexuality.
The fact is, all of us have a mixture of False and True Selves, and with this reality comes our place on the narcissistic spectrum. But since most of us have integrated our True and False Selves, our narcissistic tendencies are usually at moderate, healthy, mature, and realistic levels. It’s when the True and False Selves are polarized and split, the ‘ugly’ real self being repressed and/or projected onto other people, that’s when narcissism becomes pathological, resulting in hurting those around us. (I’ve writtenmuch about this problem elsewhere.)
The splitting of True and False Selves is a manic defence against dealing with our pain. Pushing these defences to extremes–the libertine hedonism of Slade in his orgies and cocaine-sniffing, and of Gray in his opium den–results in an explosion of pain, going from the ouroboros’s biting head to its bitten tail.
We can’t run away from the pain of such bigotries as homophobia and transphobia by escaping into a sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll fantasy world; we must change our world as it is…not in the idealistic way Slade and Wild try to do and end up only changing themselves, but in the realistic way of changing all of ourselves, together, slowly but surely, through teaching people love…not the fake love of religious authoritarianism, but the real love of tolerance and open-mindedness.
Detectives Surian and Thurston were sitting in her car on a street near the apartment building where the blue-haired stripper was with her boyfriend. They’d been waiting there for hours; it was about 2:30 in the morning.
“I told you nothing was going to come of this,” he said, sipping his coffee.
“What if she was the wrong girl?” Surian asked. “Another girl with her hair dyed blue?”
“I saw only one stripper in The Gold Star with blue hair,” Thurston said. “This must be her. I don’t see an animal anywhere, though.”
“Let’s just wait another hour or so, OK? We’ve already invested enough time in this.”
“She and that man who entered her apartment are probably just asleep after a fuck…as we should be.”
“Shut up, Andy. You’re not getting me that easily. Anyway, maybe–“
Her cellphone rang. She fumbled in her purse for it.
“Hello? Surian here.” Her eyes and mouth widened at the words heard from the other end. “OK, we’re on our way.” She hung up and started the car.
“Someone spotted the beast?” he asked.
“Yes, in a neighbourhood on the other side of town.” Her tires screeched on the road as she tore down it.
“I told you we were wasting our time here, Agnes.”
They were about halfway to the point where Surian’s caller told her where he saw the beast when he called her again.
“Hello?” she said into her cellphone.
“The beast has just been spotted on Yonge Street,” the caller said. “It’s running towards the intersection at Bloor.”
It’s near Yonge and Bloor?” she said. “We just drove past that intersection, didn’t we, Andy? I forget.”
“Yes, we did,” Thurston said. “Do a U-ie and go back.”
Her tires screeched on the road again as she swung the car around. On the way back to that intersection, though, she hadn’t driven past two buildings before hairy, clawed Callie landed on the roof of her car, denting it with her weight so far as to push a deep crater on it between the heads of Surian and Thurston.
“What the fuck?!” he yelled. He and Surian rocked in their seats as the car stopped.
They swung open their doors and got out with their pistols already in their hands. He spun around and looked up at Callie on the depressed car roof.
But he just froze at the sight of the furry creature with her wild, yellow-toothed grin.
“Jesus Chri–,” he began, raising his gun at Callie.
She swatted him before he could pull the trigger. He lay on the road, knocked out. She’d bent down to hit him just in time to dodge a bullet Surian fired at her back.
Callie looked back at the detective with a smile. Kluh caused a fog to obscure Surian’s vision. She smelled a familiar, intoxicating smell, too. In her daze, she allowed Callie to jump on her.
Her gun fell out of her hand, then the fog cleared. She looked up at the grinning face of the hairy beast. Callie held her right hand over the cop’s face, the claws an inch or so above her nose. She moved her fingers in a slow dance, as if trying to decide whether to gouge out Surian’s eyes or slice off her nose. The detective could only wince and hope for mercy.
Callie moved her hand away and brought her face down to meet Surian’s. Their noses touched. Their eyes were locked on each other’s. That ‘sex pheromone’ smell was overwhelming.
Callie heard a grunt from Thurston as he’d come to and was getting up. She jumped off of Surian and flew high in the air and out of sight. Surian just lay there, trembling.
“Are you OK?” he asked, offering a hand to help her up.
“I don’t think I pissed my panties, if that’s what you mean.”
“I don’t smell that, but I do smell the smell of that stripper.”
“That’s right,” she said, now on her feet. “I told you we weren’t wasting our time.”
Kluh’s powers threw a fog over the air that ensured that all the other police lost Callie; but Surian and Thurston were given clear enough air to follow her well enough to find, by around 5:30 in the morning, more long, brown hairs. These were found on the dewy grass of a park across the road from Callie’s apartment building. More and more groupings of hairs made a path across the road.
Picking up some hairs on the sidewalk between the park and the road, Surian said, “Andy, take my car to 22 Division and show them these hairs. Tell Detective Hicks what happened two and a half hours ago, then come back to pick me up.”
“Nobody will believe what we saw,” Thurston said.
“I know. Do it anyway. We’ll prove it later.”
“You wanna go find her over there all alone, right?”
“Of course. Now, go on.”
“I don’t like the idea of you facing her all alone, Agnes.”
“A naked hottie hiding in an alley? I think my gun and I can handle her. Don’t be jealous; I won’t get horny.”
“How do you know she isn’t still in her monster state?”
“Well, she isn’t rampaging anymore, she only comes out at night, and we never start seeing hairs until her rampages are all over.”
“Well, OK,” he said, turning towards the dented car. “The split second you feel in danger, call me and I’ll race back here.”
“Thank you, honey. Now, get going.”
He got in the car and drove off, in all reluctance. She crept across the road, her eyes locked on that alley. Was a naked stripper lying behind the pile of wooden crates standing against the wall of the building on the left, opposite to Callie’s apartment? Surian took out her gun.
A man living on the ground floor of Callie’s apartment looked out his window and, indeed, saw naked Callie lying asleep, from his point of view, to the right of those crates. Unlike during those previous times, she now didn’t look dirty or sweaty; her hair wasn’t disheveled, either. She lay there as flawlessly photogenic as a Playboy model, all thanks to Kluh’s growing powers.
“Is this my lucky day, or what?” the man whispered.
He went out the side door to get a closer look.
Surian, absent-minded as she stood in the middle of the road, watched the scene with growing interest.
Callie woke up and saw him standing there, ogling her body. She and Kluh also sensed, through the vibrations between her body and the road, Surian’s presence. On her back, Callie spread her legs.
The man grinned at the sight of her immaculately hairless vulva.
“Well?” she said, impatient and almost annoyed with him.
“Well, what?” he asked in his lustful stupor.
“Are you gonna take me in your home and fuck me, or what?”
“Oh, uh, yeah,” he said, snapping out of it. He put out his hand to help her up. She took it and stood.
A car horn beeped Surian out of the way as Callie emerged from the crates. As Surian stumbled closer to the alley, Callie looked over to her. Instantly, those sex pheromones emanated from her, the smell entrancing both Surian and the man. He led Callie into his apartment.
The cop went over to the window, walking in a daze and trying to regain her self-control. The gun fell out of her hand. She looked through the window to see him and Callie in his kitchen. Callie lay on the floor on her back with her legs spread. He was so distracted by his lust that he never bothered to look at the window and see Surian. He unzipped his pants and entered her.
Surian just stood there, stupefied by the smell of the pheromones as she watched the sex. Her will melted away; she felt as if she were in the middle of a dream. She rubbed her hand against her crotch.
You want us, Detective, Callie and Kluh communicated psychically to her. But you can’t have us now. We’ll be together, in time. For now, though, goodbye.
Surian was made to turn around and walk back to the sidewalk, forgetting her gun and leaving it there in the alley. She stood on the sidewalk and stayed there in her daze for a half hour before Thurston returned in her car. She got in.
“Well?” he asked. “Was she there?”
“No,” she said in the oblivion of her daze, from which she was slowly coming out. “But I do think she lives in that apartment, or at least in the area.”
“Hicks doesn’t believe our story about the dent on your car. He asked if we were high when it happened.”
“That’s OK. We’ll prove it later. We’re getting close to her. I can feel it.”
“So, what do we do for now? Stake out that apartment?”
“We’ll go back to The Gold Star,” she said, “and see if we can find her. That aphrodisiac smell is definitely coming from her, though she’s tricky with how she uses it to manipulate people.”
“Yeah, she hypnotizes us with lust…though you’re still my favourite.”
“Shut up, Andy. I want to see if any research is out there, on Google or in the library, about the…phenomenon…we saw last night. Though I don’t know what to look up. No name for the beast, so far as I know.”
Don’t worry, Agnes, Kluh and Callie mused as they borrowed some of the man’s clothes, left his apartment in them, and went up the elevator to her apartment. You’ll find out all about the spirit world in due time. She used her powers to unlock her apartment door, went in, and waited for a neighbour of the dead photographer’s, under her mind control, to come to her apartment with her clothes and purse.
[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]
Because of traumatic bonding, we survivors of emotional abuse may find it tempting to believe our abusers when they say they want ‘to connect’ with us again, or to be ‘reconciled’ with us. Nobody wants to lose friends; we all hate to see close relationships disintegrate.
But since the pain outweighs the good we received (or thought we received), we must protect ourselves from any new pain our abusers are planning to inflict on us. At the same time, their manner of communicating with us seems so kind, so patient, so loving.
Have they changed? Have they finally learned from all the mistakes they made in the past? We’d like to think so…oh, how we’d like to think so! After all, though the good that we got from the relationship may have made up a minority of the total experiences in it, that good may have been (or at least may have seemed to be) a rather large minority. A minority, nonetheless, is still a minority, big or small. What can we do to avoid falling into yet another trap?
If that ‘large minority,’ or ‘significant minority,’ of good times really was good, in spite of the clear majority of bad, we might want to think less of the quantity of experiences of good and bad, and think rather of their quality. Were the good experiences of any real importance, or were they just fleeting pleasures? If the latter, their large number (if they actually even were large in number) hardly comes close to compensating for all the pain that the bad experiences caused. If the good times were significant, the bad times all too often outweigh the good times, too. Either way, be careful!
And if those abusers are asking you to get back in touch, you know their sucking you back in is not in your best interests.
I’ll give an example of hoovering I got from my older sister, J., the golden child of the family. She tried emailing me, after the falling-out I had with the family when my late, probably narcissistic mother died (readthesepostsfortheoriginstoryofmytroubles with my family, if you’re interested), telling me about possessions of mine still in our mother’s home that I should collect. I didn’t want them. I never even replied to her email. I also blocked her and all our other family members.
Then she tried, several months to a year or so later, to contact me on Facebook. I rejected her message request. When you go No Contact, you must commit to it.
She tried, in her messages (the opening part that I actually saw, for I had no wish whatsoever to read them), to be warm and caring in her tone. I wasn’t buying one word of it. I know her too well. She likes to open her messages to me with such stale, formal language as, “I hope this email finds you well,” implying a lack of genuine, heartfelt emotion. She never was one for the sincerity club.
She would have me believe that the whole family misses me terribly (If so, why have neither of my older brothers–nor anyone else in the family, apart from her and Mom when she was alive–ever tried contacting me, except ever so rarely over the past twenty years I’ve lived in Asia after leaving Canada in 1996?); and they want us to “heal those wounds,” as my aunt described the problem on the phone just before my mom died in hospital. I haven’t contacted them because, frankly, I don’t miss them. Why would I miss emotional abusers?
Furthermore, I assure you, Dear Reader: the only ‘healing’ they want is from their own point of view; they couldn’t care less whether I heal or not–I’m expected just to fall in line and do what they want. The ‘healing’ would involve me changing my ‘errant’ ways and apologizing for the hurt I caused them. They wouldn’t need to change, because in their opinion, they never did me any wrong. Their anger towards me is always ‘justified’; mine never is. I’m just an immature, selfish whiner, according to them.
I beg to differ, as I’ve explained at length in all the posts (links above) that I’ve written on the subject; there’s no point in my repeating all of that here. In any case, true reconciliation must involve reciprocity: it’s only fair. I’m prepared to acknowledge things I’ve done to upset them, in recent years as well as those further off in the past; but beyond a mere paying of lip service to their faults, they will only trivialize all that they and Mom did over the years to provoke my wrath. As her flying monkeys, they’re willfully ignorant of what she did, which was an atrocious string of lies and smear campaigns against me and our cousins over the decades.
The point, Dear Reader, is that it will take a lot more than honeyed words from abusive people to be worthy of your trust. It actually doesn’t involve them saying much of anything; it involves them doing those two things they’ll never do–listening to you and validating your feelings.
Always remember that, whenever your abusers pull the old hoovering tactic: it doesn’t matter what their mouths are doing, or what their fingers are doing when they write or type their messages for you to read; it’s what their ears are doing…and what their brains are thinking in secret.
Since we abuse victims have no way of knowing for sure what activity is going on in their ears and brains, our abusers should have a formidable task convincing us if they’re truly contrite. For if they’re faking their regret, their attempt to regain our trust should be an impossible task.
A few nights after, Surian and Thurston were sitting at the tip rail in The Gold Star.
“We’ve been checking out all the girls here for several nights now, and we still haven’t found anyone who’ll lead us to the beast,” Thurston said. “I really think we’re wasting our time.”
“We haven’t seen all the girls yet,” Surian said. “Check out this new one coming onstage. We haven’t talked to her yet.”
On went Callie. “And now, let’s give a big hand to this sexy lady,” the DJ announced. “Here’s…Chloe.”
“Chloe?” Surian said. “Wasn’t Sandra’s mom named Chloe?”
“Yeah, but so what?” he said. “What does that prove about the girl onstage?”
“I don’t know, but I feel these hunches are getting me closer to the beast. There’s something about this girl here. I’m getting a strange vibe from her. A smell, her perfume? It’s almost like a…sex pheromone, or something.”
“Wait, I’m getting that feeling too, Agnes. Not that I’d ever prefer her to you, of course.”
“Shut up and watch the show, Andy.”
They did. ‘Chloe’ had dark blue hair, thanks to Kluh’s manipulations of Callie’s looks. She was wearing a tight black leather outfit. She was moving around to ‘Fuck the Pain Away,’ by Peaches. Another man was eyeing her from the side of the tip rail opposite from where the two detectives were sitting. She was eyeing him back with equal interest, and not the phoney kind that strippers give when they see a chance to make money.
“He likes her,” Thurston said.
“And she likes him,” Surian said.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said, his head swimming. “Is it that ‘pheromone’? But I think…I’m beginning to like her. Sorry, cutie-pie…you’ll always be…my favourite, but she…is having…some kind of…effect on me.”
“I don’t believe it,” Surian sighed, her eyes as locked on ‘Chloe’ as his were, “But I’m…getting the same feeling. I’ve never had…lesbian cravings…like this since…grade twelve. I feel like…such a pervert…sitting here.”
“That’s why…they call it…pervert’s row.”
Why are you attracting those two cops to me? Callie asked Kluh in her mind.
Don’t worry, the demoness answered her. They won’t get us. We’re getting more and more powerful all the time. I have a use for those two, later on. For now, let’s lure that man on the other side into your bed. His life force will give us more power.
After her floorshow, Callie went over to the man who’d been eyeballing her. The detectives watched them chat for a minute, then the man went over to the VIP area while Callie went off to the washroom.
“OK,” Surian said. “Let’s just wait for Blue Hair to come out of there and join her admirer in the VIP area. We’ll wait and see if he leaves the bar with her, then we’ll follow them to…his place or hers.”
“Right,” Thurston said. “Then she’ll make the beast magically appear?”
“I don’t know, Andy, but we’ll just see if anything strange happens, like a hot-looking naked woman hanging out in an alley after the beast appears. We’ll see if there’s some kind of connection between the two.”
‘Chloe’ came out, but now with blonde hair and in a pink lace bra and thong, and wearing white high heels. She didn’t give off that pheromone smell that had turned the detectives on, either; so they didn’t recognize her, and they didn’t pay attention to her as she went into a VIP room to be with the man.
Instead, they saw a blue-haired woman come out afterwards, wearing a red dress and having that sexy smell. Assuming she was ‘Chloe,’ the detectives watched her go in the direction of the VIP area. That stripper went in with another man, one who looked like Callie’s man.
Callie, nude, was lap-dancing her man in the VIP Room. His hands were on her breasts. She leaned back, turned her head to face him, and looked in his eyes lewdly as she kept grinding.
“I’m a…photographer,” he grunted. “You’d make a…great model. Wanna make…some extra money?”
“Sure,” she sighed, enjoying the feeling of the bulge in his pants as much as Kluh was. “What do you have in mind?”
“I could do…a photo shoot…of you…in my studio…apartment,” he moaned. “What do you say?”
“OK,” she said breathily, smiling at him. “How about a little later on tonight?”
The detectives never noticed her leave with him, because they’d already left, following the blue-haired woman with her boyfriend to their apartment.
An hour later, Callie was in the photographer’s apartment, nude except for her high heels, and bent over with her legs spread. She was in front of a mirror, so he was included in the pictures he was taking of her, his camera hiding his face, while her face was seen upside-down between her legs, a timid expression on it as he clicked the camera.
Jesus, he thought. I so want that brown eye of hers. He clicked a few more photos.
He wants me, Callie thought. I can feel the psychic vibes rippling from him to me.
You don’t need to feel his vibes to know that, Callie, the demoness told her in her mind.
I know, Callie thought. I mean that I know exactly how he wants to have me. The way Mort did…from behind. I know what he’s looking at, what he wants to put it in.
Yeah, it feels hot, doesn’t it? Kluh asked her. Those predatory eyes of his, aiming at your ass. We can feel his lust adding to our own.
Exciting, yes, but also scary.
How is it scary? If he hurts you, let the beast kill him.
But those two cops are getting closer to us.
Don’t worry about the cops. I won’t let them get you.
But you are letting them get closer to me. You have some kind of plan–
But you’ll be all right. Don’t worry. Just let Mark here fuck you tonight, and with his energy, we’ll gain more power. Trust me. It’ll be fun.
Callie remained bent over, allowing Mark to see both her pink and brown places.
I’m scared, Callie mentally told Kluh. He wants to stick it in my–
Don’t be scared, Kluh reassured her. Let him enjoy it. You know you want to.
I do, but I don’t.
Let the ‘do’ part win. It’ll be better for both of us in the long run. The boundary between us is blurring more and more, Callie. Allow it to happen, then you’ll see things more my way, and you’ll see the good I’m doing for you.
I’m transforming my fear into pleasure?
Yes. You have to go through these feelings again to heal yourself. Then you’ll have as much fun as I have.
But it’s hard to stop the memories of Mort–
They will fade in time. We have to transform them by re-experiencing them, processing them, making them hurt less and less every time.
Yes, but what of the beast? I don’t want to kill anymore.
When the painful memories end, you won’t become enraged anymore, and the beast will stay dormant. Now, come on–let’s make this happen…
Kluh needed little influence to get Callie to open her buttocks wider to give Mark a better look. She wanted to face her fears, and thus end them.
“I think we’ve taken enough pictures,” Mark said after clicking a photo of her in this last moment of exhibitionism. He put the camera down and stood up. “C’mon, honey.” He took her by the arm and led her to his bedroom. “I’m on fire from you.”
His words made her hear Mort say, “Honey, you’ve set me on fire.” Those words had been said just before a sodomizing she’d gotten from her stepfather a few years back; he, too, had taken her by the arm and led her into his bedroom. When she saw Mark’s bed, she shuddered at how similar it looked to Mort’s bed from that night.
Ooh, Kluh moaned in Callie’s mind’s ear. I can’t wait.
I feel the hot tingles, too, Callie replied, but I’m shaking.
The fear adds to the thrill. Enjoy it. Give Mark what he wants. It’ll all work out in the end.
I’m still not so sure. “Mark,” Callie said as she got to the foot of the bed, “maybe we–“
“On the bed, on all fours,” he said with urgency, unzipping his pants.
“Oh, OK,” she said in a trembling voice. She kicked off her heels and got on.
Spread your legs for him, Kluh said. Let him see.
Callie did, her whole body shaking the whole time. She felt the demoness using her power to lubricate her anus; it sent a shiver through her body as she felt the vibrations of Mark’s heating lust. He knelt behind her on the bed and aimed for her ass.
As he entered her, Callie saw flashes before her eyes of Mort’s bedroom all around her. Though she was lubed, she relived Mort’s painful entry. Her body shook; she yelped.
Don’t let the beast out! she thought. Stay calm. Stop thinking about Mort. Try to enjoy this. Face your fears. Don’t get agitated. Don’t let the hair grow. Don’t let the claws grow!
Mark kept moving in and out. She shook all over, not just from his thrusts, but from the feeling of it being Mort behind her. Mark wasn’t hurting her, as aggressively as he was fucking her ass; but she was feeling Mort’s stabs in her mind.
She checked her arms: no growth of hair. Her fingernails: no claws.
Not a drop of sweat touched her skin, but she felt Mort’s sweat and spit dribbling on her back. Mark’s beer breath never came close to her face, but she smelled Mort’s smoker’s breath invading her nostrils.
Her arms–still hairless. Her fingers–no claws…so far.
Mark’s moans were soft and mild; Callie, however, heard Mort’s raspy grunts, mere millimetres from her right ear. The bedroom shifted back and forth from looking like Mark’s to looking like Mort’s. Waves of pleasure alternated with waves of terror.
On her arms, still no hair slithering out of the follicles. Still no claws…yet.
Sometimes it felt like Mark massaging her rectal wall, stimulating her vaginal wall, the deliciousness of it giving both Kluh and Callie tingles; sometimes Callie relived the cutting pains Mort used to give her. The pleasure and terror were undulating in respective crests and troughs that seemed to be synchronized with Callie’s alternating visions of Mark’s and Mort’s bedrooms. Sharing the pleasure Kluh felt, her mind’s merging with that of the demoness meant Callie couldn’t make up her mind whether she loved the anal or hated it.
Mark helped her make up her mind. He began spanking her right ass-cheek, giving it a sharp sting. Kluh loved it, making Callie squeal and giggle; but Callie remembered how Mort used to spank her during a sodomizing. After the fourth spank, her voice, mid-squeal, phased into a growl.
She looked back down at her arms and hands in a panic. Claws were growing from her fingertips. Hairs were wiggling out from the skin all over her arms.
Mark’s eyes widened at all the hair he saw growing on her back. “What the…fuck–?” he grunted, then pulled out and came on the sheets between her knees.
She looked back at him with a hairy face and a malicious grin baring yellow teeth.
“Jesus Christ!” he screamed.
All that brown hair on her curvy body, covering her breasts and belly…and those long, thick, pointy claws, two quintets of knives.
“Oh, my God! What the f–?” She interrupted his scream by slashing four of those claws across his throat, spraying dots of blood everywhere. He fell back off the foot of the bed, his limp dick still poking out of his open fly as he lay on his back coughing blood and shaking. She jumped on him. He looked up at her in disbelief.
She closed his eyes forever with a stabbing of all ten claws deep into his chest, reddening his whole torso. Then she looked to her left: a window.
She jumped off of him, in its direction. Then she jumped out, splashing glass everywhere. Once she hit the grassy ground in front of the apartment building, she heard a siren.
Genesis, or Bereshith (“In the beginning”) in the original Hebrew, is the first of the five books (Pentateuch) traditionally ascribed to Moses, the Torah. It’s actually the product of several writers and editors who, over the course of hundreds of years, gave it its final form. According to the persuasive documentary hypothesis, four stylistically distinct narrative strands can be found interwoven throughout the Tanakh (Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim–the Law, Prophets, and Writings), or the Old Testament, as Christians call it.
Those four narrative strands are, in approximate historical order, the Elohist, Yahwist (or Jahwist), Deuteronomist, and Priestly sources (E, J, D, and P). In the Yahwist source, God is referred to as YHWH (Yahweh, the Tetragram, translated as the LORD); the Elohist source calls God Elohim (“God,” or “gods,” depending on the context); the Deuteronomist source (“second law”) is to some extent a retelling of much of the law; and the Priestly source, predictably, serves the agenda of the ancient priests, and also has a more developed theology.
I’ll be examining the first eleven chapters of Genesis, known as the ‘primeval history.’
II: The Yahwist Adam and Eve Narrative
I will start with the Yahwist account of the Adam and Eve story, because its presentation of YHWH Elohim is much more primitive than the transcendental, spiritual depiction of Elohim as given in the Priestly account of the Creation. Indeed, the Yahwist God is both physically and mentally anthropomorphic, walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8); He’s also fallible and of limited knowledge, creating all the other animals as prospective companions for Adam before realizing that Eve is truly fitting for him (Genesis 2:18-22). He also needs to ask Adam where he is (3:9), who told him he was naked, and if he ate of the forbidden fruit (3:11), all needless questions for an omniscient God.
YHWH, after creating the Garden of Eden, made Adam out of the dirt (‘adamah, traditionally translated “dust,” Genesis 2:7) of the earth. Later, when YHWH tells Adam he will die for having eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, He says, “Dust (‘adamah) you are, to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) Since Adam’s opposite sex companion has the name of Eve (hawwah, “life”), his equation with the dirt, where all the dead return, thus associates him with death. Opposite sexes represent opposite principles: for the ancients, woman is life; man is death.
The whole reason Adam was created (Genesis 2:5) was to till the garden (Genesis 2:15); in other words, man exists to work. Eve, as the “mother of all living,” was given life in order to give life herself: a great honour, but also a great burden. For the ancients, woman is; man does.
It isn’t my wish to defend these traditional roles and ancient attitudes; on the contrary, I comment on them to critique them, for I’m doing a critical analysis of Genesis to expose its authoritarian aspects. People shouldn’t be compartmentalized into roles, with a few at the top and most at the bottom. I’ll discuss more of that later.
Some have interpreted Adam as being a hermaphrodite prior to the creation of Eve. The removing of a rib from Adam during his sleep thus means that the rib symbolizes the feminine aspect removed from the primordial human being, thus creating separate sexes. Creation by separation is also seen in the Priestly account of the creation: heaven/earth, light/darkness, day/night, water/land, etc. More on that later.
All of this separation into distinct parts is seen as good according to the Biblical writers. I will be arguing the opposite opinion, since separation is used to justify discrimination, authoritarianism, and divisiveness–again, more on that later.
Adam and Eve were naked (‘arummim) and not ashamed, “naked” also implying vulnerable, helpless. Their unashamed, natural state also implies the naïve, innocent way of children, who don’t know much of anything. That the serpent is more subtle (‘arum), cleverer than any other animal, implies a special knowledge.
Thus we see a dialectical relationship between the words in the Hebrew pun, ‘arummim and ‘arum. There is a sweetness in the childlike innocence of allowing one’s secrets (symbolized by the would-be exhibitionism of showing one’s ‘private’ parts) to be known, and a wickedness in being clever, cunning; but there’s also a danger in that vulnerable innocence, and an advantage in having a knowledge that leads to cleverness, shrewdness (see also p. 14, HEBREW BIBLE, notes to Genesis 2:24-25, and 3:1-21). The good of one phases into the evil of the other, and vice versa, like the dialectical unity of opposites as can be symbolized by the tail-biting head of the ouroboros, another serpent I’ve discussedelsewhere.
The serpent tempts Eve by telling her that in eating of the Tree of Knowledge, she and Adam will be like God, or gods, depending on the translation of Elohim, to have the power of knowledge. Since Yahweh has forbidden eating of this tree, on pain of death, one must ask what’s wrong with acquiring knowledge.
Is this an allegorical illustration of how knowledge results in a sad loss of innocence? That’s one valid interpretation. Is this act of disobedience to God symbolic of carnal knowledge, the sex act, resulting in concupiscence? Or is eating the forbidden fruit an act of rebellion against our ‘loving’ Lord, who doesn’t want us to have the power that knowledge gives? Or do freedom and knowledge lead to isolation and fear?
III: From Freedom to Fear
In Escape From Freedom, Erich Fromm describes how Protestantism gave freedom from the authoritarian Catholic Church, but then left a vacuum of insecurity for Christians like Luther and Calvin, who resolved this problem with a far more authoritarian rigidity: “…while Luther freed people from the authority of the Church, he made them submit to a much more tyrannical authority, that of a God who insisted on complete submission of man and annihilation of the individual self as the essential condition to his salvation. Luther’s “faith” was the conviction of being loved upon the condition of surrender…” (Fromm, page 81, his emphasis)
Similarly of Calvin, Fromm writes, “Although he too opposes the authority of the Church and the blind acceptance of its doctrines, religion for him is rooted in the powerlessness of man; self-humiliation and the destruction of human pride are the Leitmotiv of his whole thinking.” (Fromm, page 84)
The Protestants, as we can see, were the authoritarian heirs of the priests, be they ancient Hebrew or Catholic. Again, instead of allowing the flock to seek knowledge, men like Luther and Calvin wanted the flock to submit to their authority, to see themselves as “naked” and helpless without that authority.
IV: Blame and Punishment
Back to Genesis, where Eve gives Adam the forbidden fruit. Many traditionalists have done a misogynistic spin on this story, blaming Eve unfairly for the Fall, when the text itself clearly shows Yahweh judging and punishing the serpent, Eve, and Adam for the role each plays in the Fall.
John Milton, in Paradise Lost, took pains to soften the blame put on Eve, instead praising her beauty in virtue, in Book IX, lines 896-899: “O fairest of all creation, last and best/Of all God’s works, creature in whom excelled/Whatever can to sight or thought be formed,/Holy, divine, good, amiable or sweet!”
Instead of being tempted by her, Milton’s Adam freely chooses to fall with her, out of love: “Matter of scorn, not to be given the foe,/However I with thee have fixed my lot,/Certain to undergo like doom, if death/Consort with thee, death is to me as life;/So forcible within my heart I feel/The bond of nature draw me to my own,/My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;/Our state cannot be severed, we are one,/One flesh; to lose thee were to lose my self./So Adam, and thus Eve to him replied./O glorious trial of exceeding love,/Illustrious evidence, example high!” (IX, 951-962)
Now Milton was no proto-feminist, of course: he took the traditional patriarchal line that man is “the head of the other sex which was made for him; whom therefore though he ought not to injure,…” (The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce Restored to the Good of Both Sexes, page 223); but his kinder attitude towards Eve shows that the misogynist interpretation of her having tempted Adam was far from, and needn’t have been, universal.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil isn’t merely about knowing right from wrong: “good and evil” is a Hebrew merism meant to represent all aspects of knowledge, i.e., from ‘the worst’ to ‘the best.’ Knowing right from wrong is perfectly defensible from a moral standpoint; if Yahweh is a moral God, He should be all in support of allowing Adam and Eve to have such knowledge. No: He’s opposed to Adam and Even gaining the power of knowledge, for such an acquiring of power would be a threat to His power.
The Christian notion of Adam and Eve being morally perfect before the Fall is illogical, as I described elsewhere: if they were originally without moral faults, they would never have chosen to disobey God. Milton’s rhetorical notion that they were “Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall” (III, 99) misses the point. Being “free” to sin alone doesn’t make a morally perfect person want to sin; his perfect morality will make it clear to him that sinning will bring about his destruction, no matter how tempting the act is, and no matter how free he is to commit the sin.
It would make more sense to regard the two naked lovers’ fall from grace in a dialectical fashion, that is, in trying to rise too high in the gaining of knowledge, to become clever (‘arum), they become knowledgeable only of their own nakedness (their being ‘arummim), of their vulnerability and helplessness, a falling to the lowest point. The ascent to the biting head of the ouroboros (powerful knowledge and being ‘arum), going past that point, and phasing into the serpent’s bitten tail of their naked (‘arummim) powerlessness. (Recall how I see the ouroboros as a symbol for a circular continuum.)
Speaking of serpents, they were revered as symbols of rebirth, fertility, wisdom, and knowledge prior to the polemical pages of Genesis; thanks to YHWH’s punishment of the serpent for tempting Eve, it is now one of the most despised of animals, the hostility especially being between it and her (Genesis 3:14-15). Gaining knowledge is morally wrong, apparently.
Note the wording of Eve’s punishment, with respect to her relationship with Adam: “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” In the New English Bible, this passage is rendered, “You shall be eager [or feel an urge] for your husband,” suggesting perhaps an emotional dependence, or a neediness, leading to his dominance in the family. I suspect the writers were manipulating women’s empathy and love, taking advantage of it, for the sake of reinforcing and justifying the patriarchal family.
Finally, Adam’s punishment: the difficulty and hardship of working in order to survive. I don’t mean to belittle or trivialize the toil that women also endure, especially today, to support their families–far from it; but we shouldn’t assume that the male role as traditional breadwinner is in any way glamorous, or a privilege. Part of ensuring equality for women will include no longer exploiting their “desire,” “urge,” or eagerness for their husbands (if they choose to have them); part of equality will also include eliminating compulsory sex roles, so both sexes can, to an equal extent, be free to be both providers and homemakers.
V: The Birth of Death
Then, while of course both Adam and Eve (and the serpent, for that matter) will eventually die–not the death of their innocence, which has already happened the day they ate the forbidden fruit, but actual, physical death–the death sentence is explicitly said by YHWH to Adam (Genesis 3:17-19). I suspect that this narrative is a mythical distortion, as so many ancient Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern narratives are (read Frazer‘s Golden Bough to see what I mean), of an ancient rite of human sacrifice, the killing of the old sacred king by the new one (many examples of such mythical distortions of such rites can also be found in Graves‘s two-volume Greek Myths).
To understand what I mean by the myth distorting the original ritual, as opposed to just plain describing what happened, we need to consider how language in the ancient world expressed history and fact in a poetic, metaphorical way, as opposed to the modern descriptive, prosaic way. Northrop Frye elaborates: “The first phase of language…is inherently poetic: it is contemporary with a stage of society in which the main source of culturally inherited knowledge is the poet, as Homer was for Greek culture…There were technical reasons for this: verse, with its formulaic sound-schemes, is the easiest vehicle for an oral culture in which memory, or the keeping alive of tradition, is of primary importance…the ability to record [i.e., writing it down] has a lot more to do with forgetting than with remembering: with keeping the past in the past, instead of continuously recreating it in the present.” (Frye, page 22)
Frye continues: “The origins of the Bible are in the first metaphorical phase of language, but much of the Bible is contemporary with the second-phase separation of the dialectical from the poetic, as its metonymic “God” in particular indicates. Its poetic use of language obviously does not confine it to the literary category, but it never falls wholly into the conventions of the second phase.” (Frye, page 27)
So what we get in such characters as Yahweh, Adam, and Eve (as in so many of the other characters in myths of many other cultures of the ancient Middle East) is an alteration by metaphor and symbol of what originally happened in history, a result of the oral passing on of the story before it was finally written down. I don’t mean to show a dogmatic allegiance to the very fallible writing of Graves, Frazer, and the other Cambridge ritualists, for indeed, their ideas are far from universally applicable (and Graves’s ‘scholarship’ is particularly mischievous, to put it as kindly as possible); but I do think their ideas can be applied to these specific mythical narratives, as certain motifs seem to reappear here and there, and thus at least seem to show recognizable patterns.
In my speculation, Adam would have been the old king, engaging in an orgy with Eve (the queen) to promote fertility. The sexual symbolism of the two naked lovers eating forbidden fruit would suffice as the remnants of the original orgy, now mythically distorted (any other participants in the orgy having already been excised from the story). Finally, the new king (now YHWH) walks in the garden in the cool of the day, and kills the old king, something mythically distorted into a mere death sentence.
Another aspect of the rite of human sacrifice that seems to have been distorted and incorporated into the Adam and Eve narrative is the scapegoating and banishing of the one, or ones, who committed the sacrificial murder. I emphasize here that the narrative, as we have it, has distorted what originally happened, since those killed in the sacrifice also double as those banished, namely Adam and Eve.
The killer in the original sacrifice, represented here by Yahweh Elohim, could also, in a way, be the banished one, since His separation from humanity (because of the original sin of Adam and Eve) could be seen as yet another mythical distortion of the consequences of the rite of human sacrifice.
The story of King Oedipus serves as another example of the mythical distortion of the ancient rite of human sacrifice: Oedipus is the new king who murders the old sacred king (distorted into his father, King Laius), marries the queen (distorted into his mother, Iocaste), and incestuously enters her bed (a distortion of the orgia, or fertility rite). He leaves Thebes with his daughter/sister Antigone, a mythical distortion of the scapegoat who is banished from the city to expiate for the sins of the people of that city.
Cain’s murder of Abel, while on one level representing the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural one, may also be a distortion based on a rite of human sacrifice, for the sake of founding a new city. For when Cain was banished by God and settled in Nod, to the East of Eden, he founded a city named after his son, Enoch. The Romulus and Remus myth (the former having killed the latter) also seems to be based on a rite of human sacrifice to found a city–Rome, of course. See Hyam Maccoby‘s book, The Sacred Executioner, for more details.
VI: The Sons of God
The opening of Genesis, chapter six, is fascinating. It reads like something straight out of pagan myth; know that the ancient Hebrews started with polytheism like everyone else in that part of the world, then shifted to monolatry (a belief in many gods, but commanded to worship only YHWH, their tribal deity), then finally to monotheism, as expressed in the transcendental, spiritual God of chapter one, from the Priestly narrative). The use of b’nei ha-Elohim (sons of God, or sons of the gods?) reflects this transition.
Whether they’re the sons of God, or of the gods, ultimately doesn’t matter: they’re clearly divine or semi-divine beings (angels? That they’re the descendants of Seth seems to me like a Church cover-up of the obvious paganism.) who have come down from the heavens to make love with “the daughters of men,” resulting in the partially divine Nephilim, giants, great heroes of renown. It reads like Zeus seducing pretty maidens, resulting in men like Heracles! Here we see an example of the Biblical transformation of pagan myth.
The whole p0int, however, of this sexual union of the “sons of God” with the “daughters of men,” leading to the explosion of sin in the world, and in turn leading to the Great Flood, is that according to Biblical morality, you gotta keep ’em separated–namely, the divine and human worlds. An intermixing of the elements separated in the Creation results in chaos, the literal Chaos of the primordial world before the Creation (Mays, pages 88-89).
VII: Creation From Chaos
Orthodox Christians insist that God created the universe ex nihilo, but this isn’t borne out in the first chapter of Genesis. When Elohim created “the heaven and the earth” (another merism, here meaning everything, the universe; but with the implied dualism of a separation of above from below, since people in the ancient world viewed the universe as a layer of heaven over a flat Earth, with the layer of Hades at the bottom), everything “was waste and void,” primordial Chaos, an infinite ocean, if you will, of formless, undifferentiated matter.
Milton–one of the best-read of English poets, and a polyglot who knew Italian, Greek, Hebrew, etc.–believed the heresy that God created the universe not ex nihilo, but out of primordial Chaos. Some of his belief may have been influenced by his reading of the Greek myths in their classical sources; but some of it must have been influenced by his understanding of the nuances of the original Hebrew, tohu wa-bohu.
So the ruach of this transcendental God (not the physical, man-like Yahweh who walked in the garden in the cool of the day and asked questions He didn’t know the answers to) moved upon the face of the waters, the waters of a Brahman-like oneness of undifferentiated matter. The “earth” (Genesis 1:2) wasn’t earth as such, since the land wasn’t yet formed by its separation from the oceans, the waters above hadn’t yet been separated from those below, and not even the light was yet formed by its separation from the darkness (choshek, which translated from the Hebrew is darkness, or confusion, this latter being an intermixing), no difference between day and night.
Everything was just a watery, dark oneness, similar to the Hindu speculations in the Rig Veda, 10.129. Creation in this Priestly narrative is all about separating things into dualistic opposites: first, light and darkness, creating day and night (without the sun!); then, the firmament separates waters above from the oceans below (remember, heaven is a layer above, and the Earth is a flat layer under it, according to the ancients), the second day; and the separation of the oceans from the land, the third day.
Paralleling the first three days, the next three days involve the creation of the sun for the day, and the moon and stars for the night, the fourth day; the creation of animals flying in the firmament versus the sea animals, the fifth day thus corresponding to the second; and on the sixth day, the creation of the land animals, and finally, ha-‘adam, male and female (implying a hermaphroditism that will be separated into sexes later), made in the image of Elohim. (Is “He” androgynous, too? That is, though Elohim has the masculine plural ending of -im, since the masculine is traditionally used as a generic form for both sexes, could the meaning “gods” imply the inclusion of goddesses, too?)
VIII: Separation is Saintly
God looked at his creation, everything separated into opposites, just as the Priestly writers wanted it, and He saw that it was tov, good. (Incidentally, the separation of every living thing after its kind has been used to justify racial segregation.) It is only the intermixing of these opposites, reunifying them, that is considered sinful. Hence the sin of Adam and Eve becoming like gods–“one of us,” God says to the angels (Genesis 3:22), who were once inferior gods in the heavenly, divine council of pagan times–by acquiring the power to know, yada, which also has a sexual connotation, the uniting of male and female, hence the interpretation that the naked couple’s sin was a sexual one.
Cain’s murder of Abel is sinful also because only the divine world has the right to decide when one may die; his killing of his brother thus shows him arrogating himself to a divine status, another forbidden mixing of above and below.
The plan to build the Tower of Babel, meant to reach up to heaven and so connect above with below, is once again an attempt to mix the divine world with the human one. Hence, God says to the heavenly host, “let us go down, and there confound their language,” (Genesis 11:7) making a babble of mutually incomprehensible languages.
IX: The Flood as Creation 2.0
So, to return to the deluge story, the divine beings above, making love with the women of earth is another forbidden mixture of opposites, resulting in a grotesque proliferation of sin that causes God to regret His creation of the world. The Great Flood is thus a return to the endless seas of Chaos before the Creation.
The end of the forty days and nights of rain (or is it 150 days and nights, according to the Priestly source?) parallels the Creation’s second-day separation of the waters above and below with the firmament. The slow receding of the waters after the flood parallels the separation of land and ocean on the third day of Creation. Noah’s sending of the raven and the dove to know if the waters have abated parallels the fifth day’s creation of birds. Noah’s family emerging from the ark, with all the pairs of animals, parallels the sixth day. Separations are re-established, all is well again, and God puts His rainbow in the sky. Noah’s sacrifice to God at an altar exemplifies a holy moment corresponding to the holy seventh day that God blessed and rested on.
But just as there was naked wickedness of a sexual sort in the Garden of Eden, so is there in Noah’s tent, in which he gets naked and drunk from the wine he’s made from the vineyard he planted. What does it mean when his son, Ham, sees him naked in the tent? A literal interpretation would have been sinful enough, given the ancient taboo against seeing one’s parents naked; but could Ham have done something worse?
Some scholars have suggested that Ham either raped or castrated Noah; another suggestion is that Ham raped his mother, who, as Noah’s patriarchal property, was thus also Noah’s nakedness, and so Ham was attempting to usurp Noah’s parental authority. Whichever interpretation is correct, we see once again an intermixing of realms (here, father vs. son) meant to be kept separate. It also reads like another distortion of a rite of human sacrifice (Ham = new sacred king; Noah = old sacred king; sex; violence; and banishment, distorted into Noah’s curse…)
Ham is cursed by Noah and regarded as a lowly servant, as his descendants, the Canaanites, will be. Since the descendants of Shem are the Jews and Arabs (Semites), and those of Japheth were once believed to be Europeans, the Hamites (living in parts of Africa [!]) were once regarded by white Christians as inferior; the enslavement of blacks was thus seen as being perfectly rationalized. Again, we see the evil of excessive separation, justified and presented as a false good to the world.
X: From Separation to Authoritarian Rule
The Priestly accounts’ emphasis on separation can be understood as a justification of their authority as representatives of God. They represent the separate, divine world, which mustn’t be mixed with the vulgar masses. The priests are separate, holy, and superior: this is how they get their power over the rest of us. The laity, on the other hand, are seen as inferior, unclean, and sinful–we must be ruled over. This attitude has survived, in different religious forms, to the present day, with–for example–Catholic priests largely unpunished as “sons of God” mating with the, figuratively speaking, “daughters of men.”
I don’t wish to saddle the ancient Hebrew priests with all of the blame for the divisiveness in the world. Obviously, this divisiveness has been the fault of many diverse groups throughout history, and in many cultures. But the priests’ promotion of separation as holy–in the forms I’ve described above, as well as in the notion of keeping the ancient Israelites, God’s chosen people, “pure” from intermarriage with Gentiles–has in no small way contributed to divisiveness and authoritarianism in general.
Major forms of such divisiveness in the world today–identity politics (on the right as well as on the left), the false dichotomy in American politics in the ineffectual two-party system, the apartheid nature of Israel–as well as historical racial segregation, have been reinforced by fundamentalists’ reading of these Biblical passages.
We need to end the dichotomizing of the world, and promote more unity and oneness. I like to compare Brahman to the Chaos before God’s creation-by-separation. I also compare Brahman to nirvana and to the dialectical monism of yin and yang, to dialectical and historical materialism, that which brings us all closer together in love and equality, not that which separates, isolates, and alienates us from each other.
The promotion of knowledge, rather than the forbidding of it–as well as the intermixing of cultures and ethnic groups, and the mixing of sex roles–will help achieve liberation and equality. More knowledge means fewer authoritarians can rule over us. For these reasons, I tend to be the Devil’s advocate. I have sympathy for the serpent, the ouroboros of eternally flowing knowledge.