Except for his sister, whom he adored and with whom he was obsessed, Bobby saw women as one more expression of the world's terrifying visions, ready to satisfy his manly need to penetrate but ready as well to skewer his brain with magic cords of slavery. When his sister aims those chords at him his world shatters.
"Stella Maris" is the name of a mental institution where Alicia has committed herself. The novel is composed of Alicia's conversations with her state appointed therapist. I found the force of this novel somewhat dangerous to my peace of mind, like The Passenger but more so. Alicia is unrelentingly brilliant, seducing the reader with engaging theories, for instance that the reason animals don't appear to experience mental illness on anything like the scale of humans is that they don't have language, that language is a "parasite" that infected early humans, dominating their "unconscious" and driving them mad enough to destroy the living world. Or her observation that the young of non-humans do not screech after birth as human babies do because that would draw predators. Her theory is that the loud wailing of human babies is driven by an "uncontrollable rage at something essentially wrong with the newly revealed world."
Alicia is stunningly beautiful, but she has no interest in any man other than her brother, whom she wants to have sex with and marry. Before declaring herself "unbalanced" and committing herself to Stella Maris she had done university work in mathematics and is brilliant in any subject you can name, reading 4-5 books a day and memorizing them (she can do crossword puzzles in her head and recite them back).
Alicia, like Bobby, is fascinated by her father's work on the atom bomb, seeing the creation of this weapon as a final "psychosis" of mankind, "the most important event in history" in the sense that it threatens the end of history.
As noted, I found the one-two punch of the books somewhat dangerous, that is, somewhat convincing. We humans can't reach any moral conclusions by staring into the voids of space or quantum theory. We are limited to the immediate people around us for a sense of "how things are." In answer to that question, I'd say that Alicia and Bobby are right, the atom bomb was the most important and the most psychotic invention in human history. As argued in this blog (see "Kissinger's nuclear war" at the link above), and as McCarthy expected, nuclear weapons probably will be used. There will be superficial meanings attached to this use, such as "One country is fighting another country," along with deeper meanings, including perhaps that there is a unified goal from an emerging technocracy whose interest is to use nuclear war and whatever other terrors are at hand to subdue and corral current humanity- now discounted as last year's species- into a confused mass that won't be able to resist the up and downgrades of an end-game karma.
Alicia commits suicide (as revealed in the beginning of both books) and Bobby drifts off to Spain, hiding from the "Feds" and mourning his sister for the rest of his life. It's not a happy ending. Should we conclude, as I think McCarthy did, that darkness prevails? I'm going to hold off a bit, just to see if some new, maybe saner language can take hold, so for instance one might turn on the network news and hear the anchor say, "In their continued effort to distract us from the creation of new humans and machines to replace us, leaders fan the flames of war to create the illusion of human agency."
That might be a bit much to expect, but some acknowledgement in the public sphere of what's happening to us would be a breath of fresh air.
Note to readers: Apologies for the irregular paragraphing above. I tried to rectify it but Google Editor, long forgotten by its creators, resisted.
Thursday, November 23, 2023
As regular readers know, I'm a former nightclub performer headlined Clairvoyant Harry. Telepathy is not an acceptable trait, so when I used to read audience members' minds I had to walk a tightrope between appearing both telepathic (which I am) and a clever fake (which I may also be). I won't bore readers with a re-hash of the forces that drove me to leave show biz, reject human society at large and maroon myself in the Mojave Desert (near Pearblossom). Let's just say I got tired of understanding everything.
I expected my isolation in the desert to bring both biblical clarity and near lethal loneliness, but I met a creature the likes of whom I had not known shared the earth with us: Robert, a telepathic gila monster. As I found within 30 seconds after encountering him on his favorite rock (about a quarter mile from my shack), Robert is not only telepathic and in complete mastery of the English language, but, like me, he's starved for company. We hit it off fast. In these pages you'll find accounts of our many strange and often illuminating adventures.
Anyway, I hadn't seen him for a while so this morning I set out for Robert's favorite rock, where he sat waiting for me.
Robert: Harry, how's tricks?
Me: Can't complain, Robert. Well, I could, but what good would it do?
Robert: Harry, if you came out here to cheer me up, don't bother. My mood has already been set by this morning's L.A. Times.
As you gather, Robert is conversant with our culture and in fact can "read" the online world through his lizard mind.
Me: I don't recall anything that wasn't the same as yesterday's news.
Robert: Check again, Harry. The headline reads, "COP28 has become a sham, but can the world afford to walk out?"
Me: I saw that, but how is it news? Did you actually expect the world powers to quit fossil fuel?
Robert: The outcome is not news. Everyone knows at this point that you're not quitting fossil fuel. The new element is the strategy.
Me: What strategy? The message seems fairly up-front. They are saying they won't change for a bunch of agnostics who don't believe there's a god who wants Armageddon.
Robert: But Harry, who are "they"? Who is this power that insists you continue using fossil fuel?
Me: The spokesperson at Cop28 was some oil sultan...Oh wait, there's a conflict of interest, if that's what you mean.
Robert: Sultan Al Jaber, head of Abu Dhabi's national oil company, and host of COP28.
Me: Ok, clearly a conflict of interest, but the information is not new- it was reported three days ago.
Robert: The new news is in my head. I realized that the whole thing is a trick. This sultan, he's a plant, and the U.S., Europe, Russia, China- everyone is in on it. His purpose is to supply you with an exterior force to blame. When you go to your politicians now and ask, "Why haven't you pushed harder for our country to quit fossil fuel?", they can answer, "We wanted to but Sultan Al Jaber stopped us."
I stared for a few moments at Robert, trying to process his idea, which he took as denial.
Robert: Come on Harry, the "civilized world," as you call yourselves, is not going to quit fossil fuel. You are not able to.
My continued silence encouraged Robert to go on.
Robert: You can't do it because the people you call "powerful" have little power, they're just reflections of popular opinion and wishful thinking. Imagine if your president and Congress together decreed an end to use of fossil fuel, and the immediate retooling of all auto plants to electric rail and solar panels.
Me: What do you think would happen?
Robert: If the effort to quit fossil fuels could not be stopped politically, your government would likely be overthrown and replaced by a fascist technocracy.
Me: And what about the general population? Under the technocracy, how would people function without cars?
Robert: There would be fuel left for a few years. Have you seen the Mad Max movies? They have the right idea. The technocracy hoards the remaining gas, distributing any excess to wild motorcyle gangs who rule the ruins of your cities, including Pearblossom.
I was quiet for a while, pondering the scorn I would endure if I rejoined society with stories of how much I had learned from a telepathic gila monster. Finally I sought closure.
Me: Ok, so what is your conclusion from this?
Robert: I already told you: When you ask your politicians why you can't avoid a Mad Max world, now they can say, "Because Sultan Al Jaber won't let us."
I searched my brain for something of interest to counter Robert's domination of the conversation. Finding a near blank, I made a polite goodbye and headed back to my shack, freed for now from the social bond I have with a reptile who forces me to care about the world's bullshit.
Thursday, October 19, 2023
I'm a bit at odds with the world's current tilt towards World War Three, or Four, depending how you look at it (I count everything from the end of World War Two to now as World War Three- check Robert's alternate classification below). You know the feeling, don't you, when all the optimism of your youth, all the ideology and philosophy, the cosmic agreements that allowed you to survive and sometimes flourish, unravel in a hiccup?
I've longed to share my thoughts with someone, but my options are limited due to self-induced isolation in the Mojave Desert. So this morning, although we've been estranged of late, I reached out to my iconoclastic companion, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster.
As usual Robert was not hard to find. I just headed out my back door into the desert, walked about fifteen minutes, and there he was on his favorite rock.
Harry, you soggy old human, he thought (he's telepathic, as I am). What can I do you for?
I just need a little distraction, Robert. I came upon you deep in thought. What were you thinking about?
Sorry, Harry, my "MindGuard" was on; normally we don't let humans engage with us on a thought level- you're the exception.
You should be.