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Friday, January 29, 2016

We Must Cease To Be What We Are if We Are To Become Ourselves


It was, and I remember this very clearly, a full moon that night. I remember because the Leader of the Right Government™ was giving his weekly compulsory address: “…a glorious page of a story, the likes of which have never been written before. New great victories are expected within a week, miracles or the fault is yours…”

I was following up on reports of U-boats in the waters just off the northern shore, signaling to occulted agents hiding in nearby villages. I hid on the beach, dressed in heavy layers of wool and leaves to disguise my shape, listening to the roar of the waves on the beach echoing the roar of applause for the Leader’s words.  “...I have striven, therefore, from the beginning of everything, to conduct my war wherever possible, offensively…”

‘Easy enough to do,’ I thought, ‘when all wars are offensive.’ The radio commentator said there was a full crowd in Reeps Hall to hear the Leader speak with his dead tongue-there was always a full crowd for the Leader’s compulsory speeches-a full crowd twisting and writhing, enthralled as he droned on and on about “…our moral imperative, the divine duty to destroy those who seek to destroy us.” The crowd rose to their feet, stamping, and cheering, shouting their approval.

And on the beach the waves crashed and crashed and crashed and crashed again. Out there, somewhere, in the dark, a U-boat lurked. Maybe. I was cold and alone, watching for the signal and charting the course of five visible planets through the sky. I marked the path of the wandering stars, but saw no sign of U-boats in the water. Perhaps they were nothing more than false leads and pseudohistory planted by British intelligence officers, deliberate disinformation left by the BBC like a corpse floating in the cold, cold sea.

The Leader continued to harangue the assembled congregation, describing for them a Manichean world in which we are (inevitably, indubitably) the (unquestionable) force of good arrayed against the armies of multiplied darkness. The Leader spoke of fire and laughter, of a black hole of leadership and of magic words: “Assorabrab.”

“…now, people, arise and storms burst forth! Now lightning! Now fire. Now laughter and pain! The dwindling stars of victory burn in our heaven; it is the will of the heroic. It is our destiny. Wars like ours are finally decided with a bold throw of the dice. Let no moment pass without making a pass. Let no moment pass with false passports. We have started this conflagration; we set the world afire in order to prove our greatness…”

I saw incendiary devices fall on the zoo when the city was bombed last week. I watched zebras screaming as they burned to death, trapped under fiery rubble. I watched gorillas wrenching open the twisted bars of their cages to escape. They ran howling, and screaming through the streets indistinguishable from running and screaming citizens.  

Oh God! We must cease to be what we are if we are to become ourselves.



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