Monday, June 18, 2012

The Man in the High Castle—
Chapter Six The Grasshopper 
is Heavy

“The image of this hexagram
is the mountain, the youngest
son of heaven and earth.”
—Hexagram 52—Kên / Keeping
Still, Mountain, I Ching

Tagomi drove fast and smooth on the 20-lane, ten tiered new Embarcadero Freeway into SF. The City beneath him lit up like a Xmas tree—driving on it late at night when the traffic was light in his fast Jaguar, the feeling of gliding fast on the elevated expressway over the streets and precincts of the immense city could be almost transcendental. Like mainlining it in an artery—pumping through the heart of the universe.

Tagomi was wooing Tsukamato Kunio—about the 100 million yen being over budget. The Grasshopper Is Hung had turned out to be rather expensive. Philip K. Dick’s royalties had added a million yen—the whole film was getting costly.

“Even with CGI special effects, The Grasshopper’s ending up more than Blade Runner and Minority Report. Look at Scanner Darkly—it almost bankrupted me. We’re in a depression, you know, Tagomi,” the producer pointed out, “don’t forget.”

“Please, Tsukamato,” Tagomi crooned, “The Grasshopper is Hung isn’t a major sci-fi flick—it’s a skin flick, that’s all. We don’t need any major stars—that’s why we chose Abendsen. He’s not a major actor—we’re saving plenty. What’s a couple of million yen for a potential “Big Tuna” getting his rocks off?”

“Japanese male porno stars,” Tsukamato pointed out, “have more drawing power than female starlets—but American ones?”

“He’s the biggest young male American star in our movie—The Grasshopper Is Hung. More endowed than Nureyev.”

“Still,” Tsukamato sighed into his cellphone, “This is it. No more.”

Tagomi smiled to himself. Tsukamato was in his frugal mode, but they’d be able to recoup their losses easily. The movie would be the biggest porno flick since Godzilla Deep Throat.

Exported to Japan and Germany—that’s where all the size queens were. France, Hong Kong, Thailand—especially Argentina and Paraguay. This would be a breakthrough video—the next erotic New Moon. It would make Togami Inc rich—a real money-maker. And Spencer Abendsen—a new star in the video firmament.

All the way to Japantown, Togami had worried about Spencer. He was worried about the kid—he’d been having more and more blackouts. They weren’t really blackouts—they were more like sudden voluptuous daylight wetdreams. Embarrassing yet seductive wide-awake nocturnal emissions—involuntary orgasms in front of the cameras. They’d kept filming anyway—it added just the right shocking Buñuel-esque surrealistic touch to the script.

Spencer Abendsen couldn’t help it—he was Kên the youngest son of heaven and earth. He tried being a decent boyish Buddhist—letting the young male principle ebb away slowly through him in a calm steady movement into nirvana. But more often than not, it wasn’t a gentle sluggish flow of male energy—it was more like a sudden gushing fire-hydrant spurting uncontrollably along some street in New York City with everybody playing and cooling off in the gushing fountain during a hot summer day.

But still, Tagomi felt more and more estranged from The Grasshopper film. As if he weren’t the director anymore—somebody or something else was directing the shots. Maybe the shooting schedule and whole AV film business had been too much for the kid. He didn’t seem to understand who he was sometimes.

Hexagram 52—Keeping Still wasn’t easy for a young eighteen-year-old man in a city like San Francisco—a Baghdad by the Bay, a Sodom and Gomorrah City of Forbidden Pleasures. Spencer didn’t seem to understand the script—it was like somebody else was reading and playing the lines instead.

Spencer seemed ready, willing and able to be a decent actor—and Tagomi’s crack film crew knew what they were doing. Tagomi certainly knew his own business. But The Grasshopper didn’t seem to be a typical American teenager—nor was the flick turning out to be a Utamaro Kitagawa satire like Togami had intended.

Something else was going on—it was as if Spencer had a double somewhere else. A doppelganger actor who was somehow turning into Spencer—bleeding into the other kid’s body and mind. Who was this other—was he from some other world? Was he coming from the Nebenwelt—the other world on the other side? The one that The Grasshopper Is Heavy—was slowly but surely oozing into? Was it an erotic video instead of a novel—morphing and mind-melding with the PSA and Fourth Reich?

Tagomi shook his head—buried in thought walking back to his office. If Hexagram 52 signified the end and the beginning of all movement—then surely it was like yoga or bodybuilding. Spencer’s body, his back, his toes—his calves, his stomach, his hips, his jaws, his heart. All of these things that made up young Spencer Abendsen in the here & now—surely the kid had to be still like a mountain. And let the other world flow into him—and him into it?

Tagomi heard Tsukamato kvetching on & on in the background—but he was thinking about what his nephew had said about Spencer lately. He was smoking too many Rising Sun cigarettes and taking too many happy pills. He was spending all his time making love to Juliana Frink—or playing with himself in bed looking up at the ceiling. He was awake—but he was dreaming. He was asleep—but his eyes were open. Neat trick.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Man in the High Castle—Chapter Four Spencer Abendsen

Captain Wegner looked at the surveillance screen—the woman Juliana Frink was already knocking at Abendsen’s door.

Spencer Abendsen opened the door—it was Juliana Frink. She stood there on the porch—looking at him through the screen-door. She was a beautiful dark-haired young woman—Spencer immediately felt attracted to her. She saw a boy, tousled, about sixteen—wearing a T-shirt with a Sony logo and jeans.

“I’m Juliana Frink,” she said.

“I know,” said Spencer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Man in the High Castle—
Chapter Five Japantown 

“[The evil days of old age come]
and one fears heights, and perils
in the street; when the almond
tree blooms, and the grasshopper
grows sluggish and the caper berry
is destroyed, because man goes to
his lasting home; and mourners go
about the streets…” Ecclesiastes 12:5

It didn’t happen all at once—it wasn’t sudden like some kind of déjà vu flashback. It was more like Spencer felt himself sliding down into it—as he strolled down the hill from Pacific Heights, down Laguna from his apartment on Sacramento across from Lafayette Park, down to Japantown.

Down Laguna—past California, Pine, Bush, Sutton and then across busy Geary Boulevard. Spencer Abendsen could smell the eucalyptus in bloom even though it was January. The old Victorian mansions once dilapidated and dreary-looking along the street had all been gentrified and remodeled into apartments with bay windows jutting into the fog.

It was a strange feeling—like he was somebody else. Somebody else looking out his eyes into the hazy fog drifting along Geary Boulevard—creeping through the City on delicate cat’s feet. It was like being himself—but slowly remembering somebody else. Who it was he didn’t know—but he had the feeling he’d soon find out. He’d have to consult the book when he got home—he said to himself. The Oracle knows all, he smiled to himself. Maybe too much.

Down in the Japantown complex, past the bowling alley where Japanese high school boys once spent their time bowling after school—that’s where Spencer had enjoyed relaxing and schmoozing with friends. The sound of bowling pins smashing against each other and the sound of bowling balls rolling down the alleys—even the gutter balls—for some reason Spencer found relaxing. Like background music as he sat there long afternoons after work reading or writing in his notebook.

He liked the way Japanese guys relaxed and enjoyed themselves—the way they got along together. A couple of them became his friends—the beefy goodlooking one who looked like a jock but could play the cello. Spencer had fallen in love with him—the young Japanese cellist Yokichi Ozaki. After making love, Yokichi would play the cello in the nude on the balcony late at night. Spencer on the sofa—smoking a Rising Sun cigarette.

Japanese guys weren’t as fucked-up as American young men—maybe it was the way things worked out after years of samurai traditional male love back in Japan. Maybe it was because Spencer could speak some Japanese and was interested in kabuki. They’d seen him a lot the past year at the bowling alley. Whatever it was—it was no big deal. Older Japanese men at the baths were the same way—the grasshopper was heavy in San Francisco.

Yokichi’s uncle Mr. Nobusuke Tagomi worked in his office in the Nippon Times Building—a rather mysterious gentleman. Very nervous and fastidious—nibbling on chocolate-covered cherry bonbons with chopsticks to avoid smudging his laptop keys.

Mr. Tagomi auditioned girls for Captive Productions who made erotic videos—such as Speisu Garus (Space Girls) and Sexual Ecstasy Three. His protégé Choco Bon-Bon’s acting skills and his nationally renowned huge testicles were put to good use in various films. Tagomi sat in his office with the framed posters of his films on the wall and the crystal Best AV Director Award plaques hanging around him. He felt more like a doctor or lawyer than a pornographic filmmaker. He also worked for the Foreign Office in Tokyo…

Once he got across Geary Boulevard, Spencer strolled over to the Kinokuniya Bookstore. Another foreign edition of The Man in the High Castle had come out recently and he hadn’t seen it yet. He had a collection of them—a dozen or so from Europe, Japan and South America. He was curious about the cover and what it looked like. Supposedly a Chilean artist had done a very unique artistic cover—with a lethargic locust resting in a courtyard while a man with sunglasses looked on?

For some reason, Spencer kept thinking of Paraguay instead of Chile—what in the world did Paraguay have to do with anything? There’s been a brief blackout last weekend—supposedly a storm or something. He stopped in front of the Kinokuniya Bookstore—staring at himself in the wide picture window. All sorts of interesting books were on display—but that’s not what Spencer was looking at. He was looking at his own reflection in the mirror-smooth evening—it was going fuzzy-wuzzy on him.

He’d read about the Nebenwelt—and the mysterious book called The Grasshopper Grows Heavy. He’d read a couple of other early Ace paperback novels by Philip K. Dick—but Dick seemed to be, well, one of those old hippie amphetamine-addled hacks who died of paranoia way back when—just as his prose was about to decay into 100% psychotic drivel. A Marin County mystic—with no where else to go.

Spencer closed his eyes—feeling more and more dizzy and disoriented. He put on his glasses focused on the copy of The Man in the High Castle in the Kinokuniya display window. There was Dick’s book in the window—looking back at him. There was a man in sunglasses staring off to the right on the cover—and there sluggishly poised in a surreal almost de Chirico-esque courtyard moment was none other than a big fat grasshopper!

Spencer stared at it. But he didn’t go in and buy it. For some strange reason, he felt like he was having a panic attack—his gaze began to swim. Maybe it was an attack of vertigo—maybe he needed some sake and sushi for dinner instead of a book? Something in his stomach? he said to himself.

But he went into the bookstore anyway and bought a copy of The Man in the High Castle. He started thumbing through it right away—at a nearby sushi joint. He couldn’t read Spanish—but the more he glanced through the novel the more the hair on the back of his neck got erect. The whole story of the Nebenwelt seemed uncanny and yet familiar—the idea of an ongoing alternate history taking place made him feel the nervous frisson from another world. Why were so many readers into reading the book—from here to Timbuktu?

Spencer sensed he needed to get back to his apartment—and check out the advice of the I Ching. He needed some advice about what was going on in the book—why was he so drawn to it? Why had he collected all the various editions of it—that he could get his hands on? He wasn’t feeling himself—maybe it had something to do with The Man in the High Castle. He tossed the coins and came up with Hexagram 60: Chieh—“Limitation.”

“Water over lake: the image of limitation
Thus the superior man
Creates number and measure
And examines the nature of virtue and correct conduct”

He read down through the lines to the commentary:
“A lake is something limited. Water is inexhaustible. A lake can contain only a definite amount of the infinite quantity of water; this is its peculiarity. In human life too the individual achieves significance through discrimination and the setting of limits.”

Spencer closed the book and thought about it—contemplating what it said. He’d never particularly envisioned any novel as an alternate history—especially science fiction. Juvie sci-fi had always been more like a short period in his life back when he was an impressionable adolescent. Heinlein and those other writers were good—but reading them had been more like some sort of fairy tale fantasy he dreamed up while being a kid back then.

Anything to do with a hypothetical future or hypothetical past—that was way off in left field. It was more a matter of Meng—“Youthful Folly.” That’s all—just a somewhat imaginative way of reliving his boyhood. A minor juvie reminiscence—all those Heinlein sci-fi novels he used to read. The Winston series—just a bunch of boyhood romances. Like comic books or Saturday matinees at the Bijoux.

But taking it seriously? You’ve got to be kidding—he said to himself. He wasn’t interested in mainstream fiction—or even pulp fiction paperback Ace novels anymore. The last thing he wanted to do was spending his time adumbrating the limits of fiction— circumscribing the dystopian possibilities of some alternate history in the past or future. Or even now.

Spencer was happy just being who he was—living in San Francisco and working for the hospital across the street. He had a decent job as a file clerk in the hospital library next to his apartment. The California Pacific Medical Center was one of the largest medical centers in SF. He had a girlfriend and a couple of boyfriends too. That was all he really needed—he liked living close to Japantown. SF was cool.

But still his fascination with Dick’s book grew. And it was sort of odd as he later found out—his girlfriend’s name being Juliana Frink with her running a jewelry store on Fillmore. She and Frank, her brother, working in the mail order antique business too—specializing in fake Civil War memorabilia. They were good at it—and made a living out of it. He looked at the ring that Juliana had made for him—a topaz set in a triangle of onyx with wings wrapping down around his middle finger. He rubbed it—it made him feel better for some reason.

Just then the doorbell rang—Spencer answered it and let Yokichi come up. As Yokichi put down his cello and began slipping off his clothes, he said—“Oh, by the way, Spencer. Uncle Tagomi wants to see you tomorrow. It’s important. First thing in the morning, kido.”

The Boy in the High Castle—
Chapter Three The Kommandos

“He knows,” the Kommando said.

The other Kommando nodded.

Both Kommandos were outside waiting in their car—as Julia drove away who knows where. Who knows what she told him—he probably knew it all already anyway. It was midnight—the neighborhood was quiet. They were on a mission—for the Nebenwelt.

“I know too much,” said Spencer Abendsen.

The night suddenly grew darker—as the Kommandos and Spencer Abendsen drew nearer & nearer to each other. All three of them were aware—of each other.

“It’s absurd—I don’t know what’s going on,” said Hawthorne Abendsen. But Hawthorne Abendsen didn’t know what else to say—other than shrug his shoulders and hug his son goodbye.

He knew it was going to happen sooner or later—now the time had come. Only Julia could have saved his son now—but where did she go? To leave Spencer—at the mercy of the Kommandos? In between here and now—and the nebulous Nebenwelt…

They were both young Kommandos—the worst. They were trained killers—genetically engineered by Dr. Seyss-Inquart with only one purpose. To be the ultimate Nazi Praetorian guards.

Seyss-Inquart designed them to guard and protect Heydrich blindly and fanatically at all costs—they were highly superior to Sepp Dietrich’s Lunar Leibstandarte Division. More than just Old Guard fanatic loyalty was needed now though.

Two of them he gave to Canaris—as a gift to the admiral.

These were the two crack Kommandos who survived the Nebenwelt jump—they were the ones who were now telepathic. The standard story was true—there was Nebenwelt. It was a parallel world—yet they needed to see the Man in the High Castle. They commandeered the fastest Messerschmitt jet to Cheyenne—the security shields let them through. Just to see Spencer—to kidnap him.

“Goodbye Spencer,” Abendsen said. He knew he would never see his son again. Caroline was sleeping—she didn’t need to know now. Later—after the Kommandos left. He’d tell her about him going—that he said goodbye for her…

It was the last thing Hawthorne Abendsen wanted to say—but he said it anyway. Sooner or later the Nebenwelt was going to tilt into their lives—he knew that. That’s what the Oracle said—that’s what the Oracle was doing. It predicted it would probably come in—sideways out of left field in Fenway Park. It did didn’t it? Over that Green Monster they called it in Boston? Except it was a reverse homerun.

Spencer was already mind-melding with the Kommandos. Without looking back at his father—he led them into the study. The automatic doors hissed open and then closed behind them. They locked. That was the last time Hawthorne saw Spencer—he dimmed the lights and sat down on the couch. It molded itself around him—trying to make him forget. It purred and vibrated—uselessly.

The Kommandos were like Heydrich’s android Waffen-SS troops—they were smart but they had one key defect. They had been genetically programmed to be both SS-Supermen—and SS-Superwomen. What made them vulnerable—was their inbuilt Nexus-pride. Spencer knew this—he smiled.

Spencer waved the screen on—there was a blackout over Miami. The orbiting spy-bots were clustering over the new anti-matter void—zeroing in on the seething zoid interference. It was like a pulse shield—phasing in and out of Nebenwelt. Miami was still there—but it was somewhere else too.

“It figures,” Spencer said, nodding at the screen.

Luftwaffe chatter was dominating the airways—without Der Dicke the chain-of-command was falling apart. Already Berlin had called Rommel out of seclusion—he was on his way to a situation conference in the Berlin bunker.

The Kommandos looked at each other surprised—Spencer obviously knew how to lock onto spy-bots and coded channels. Flat-screen Japanese tech wasn’t supposed to pick-up SS signals—somehow he’d breached the firewalls.

One could see the outlines of another city—fading in and out of the picture. Was it New Miami—or Old Miami? Probes could get in—but nothing came out. It had been that way for 24 hours—the media was reporting a minor power-failure.

Spencer slipped out of his kimono—into a jumpsuit. He was tall and wiry like his father—he had his mother’s red hair. He kept it short in a buzz-cut—like the Imperial Marines. He’d been doing weights—listening to a beautiful Brian Eno version of Yamada's Kurofune. He sat down and did some thinking—watching the screens overhead.

The Kommandos relaxed a little—they’d expected something more intense. The kid’s mind was a blank—either that or he was shielding everything. There was nothing extraordinary about Spencer Abendsen—just another teenage suburban brat.

So what if he was a talented idiot savant—there were plenty of them hanging around. Did his talents extend to the Nebenwelt?—that was the question.

Spencer concentrated on Miami—pumping up his forearms and flexing them. Usually he finished working-out—by doing laps in the pool. But there was no time for that—not now.

“No more mind-chat,” Spencer said. “Talk to me.”

The two Kommandos looked at Spencer.

“You know?” the one Kommando asked.

“Yes, what do you know?” the other Kommando chimed in.

“I know—that’s why you’ve come to see me.”

Spencer turned the channels—to Asunción. It looked like Miami—a zooidal zoid in the zeitgeist.

“Yeah sure,” the head Kommando said.

Both Kommandos nodded mock-seriously.

They were waiting for him to come with them.

“I know,” he said. “Maybe you two know too much.”

Both Kommandos smirked knowingly.

The flat-screens—they were turning Matisse.

“You know about Nebenwelt—at least you think so.”

The two Kommandos saw it—the identity shift.

It was very quick—it was like a wave-interference pattern. It had blue-green sheen to it—like the moiré shield shimmering & arching over Miami and Asunción.

Then suddenly Spencer wasn’t there.

“What the fuck!!!!” the Kommandos shouted.

One of the thugs was reaching for his Luger when the other Kommando caught his wrist and held it tight. They struggled some—the cool-headed one won.

The cool-headed one was unflappable—his training was more sophisticated than his companion. They weren’t true twin clones like the rest of the Seyss-Inquart shock-trooper design. He and his companion were creative design units meant to intrigue Canaris—whose mind was like a 3-D chess game.

Marlene was the hot-blooded one—she immediately wanted to get rid of the Earth Boy. Evita was the cool-headed one—she nodded to Marlene. They dropped their identity-shields—they were two young women. Their jumpsuits slipped away—they were nude Nebenwelt identical twins.

Spencer smiled. He stretched out on the couch—showing off his invisible manly physique. He knew how to shape-shift better than them—but not all the way yet. He could only hold it for an hour or so—just enough to let them see through him for awhile. He studied them—knowing they were Nebenwelt clones. The real Kommandos were still back in the Nebenwelt Zone—being studied by the scientists.

When he shifted—he knew it was only temporary. But he wanted to know—more about these Nebenwelt clones and how they got into his presence without being detected by anybody. Apparently they’d even fooled Canaris—making it look like they were actually Kommandos. There was no way out of it. He sized up the two twin “androids”—they were his age. They looked female—they seemed real.

He knew they were fake Kommandos—he could tell the minute he opened the door. He opened the door quickly—catching them by surprise. He saw into their minds—before they could stop him. It was so quick—they didn’t even know it happened. What he saw—wasn’t what he expected.

They weren’t Kommandos—they were androids. They weren’t even human—they were some kind of shape-shift design he’d never seen before. It didn’t make any difference to him—he’d never tried doppelganger pussy anyway. But they weren’t here to fuck him to death—obviously. It had nothing to do with sex—not even the most advanced androids could experience orgasm. That he knew of. It didn’t make any difference to him—but they wanted him anyway. He needed to relax—before they kidnapped him.

He let himself go—he felt himself coming back into view. Knowing it was his last night on Earth—before the jump. No humans had ever come back—only these two fake Nexus androids. Did they still have human beings left on the other side—is that why they sent androids from the Nebenwelt?

Only androids seemed to make it through—what happened to the other Kommandos? The human ones—were they still there? Somewhere—in the Nebenwelt interzone?

Spencer timed it—he waited until he felt ready to make the big jump. He wanted to do it at just the right moment—phasing in & out with the Miami moiré patterns on the screen.

As he began phasing in & out—the fake Kommando entities disappeared.

“It figures,” Spencer said to himself.

Just as he phased out—he closed his eyes.

That’s when it happened…

Spencer Abendsen started disappearing.

The Matisse screens brightened momentarily.

For just a second—Spencer saw his Double.

The other one—on the Nebenwelt side…

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Man in the High Castle—Chapter Two
The Divine Invasion


“Where are they heading?”

“To Cheyenne, Wyoming,” Canaris said.

Captain Rudolf Wegener was discussing business with Canaris in New York—the Lufthansa ME9-E rocket ship from Berlin had crash-landed in the East River. A submarine had picked up the pilot and passengers—nothing short of a miracle.

“Cheyenne Wyoming? There’s nothing there!!!”

“Oh yes there is.”

“What? No airbases not…”

“Not what—who.”

“It must be somebody fairly important?”

“Yes—the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.”

“Hawthorne Abendsen?”

“No—not him. His son Spencer.”

“Spencer Abendsen?”

Wegner rubbed his eyes squinting into the darkness. Sometimes the Admiral could be more inscrutable than the Imperial Japanese Emperor himself. Inscrutable was the wrong word—he somehow wasn’t always apparently politically correct. Poker-faced—would that perhaps be a better word for the Admiral?

“It’s Spencer they want to kidnap.”

“Who wants to kidnap him?”

“The two Kommandos—they hijacked a jet to Cheyenne.”

Wegner scanned the file on the screen. That was the good news—the bad news was that the two Kommandos were the ones who survived the Nebenwelt jump. They’d done it on their own. Without orders or permission—they’d commandeered a small Messerschmitt fighter. They were flying under the radar—soon they’d be knocking at Abendsen’s door.

Far away on the Atlantic coast—Miami and Reichs Marshal Göring didn’t exist anymore. Neither did the underground Luftwaffe base—and the huge fleet of Messerschmitt rocket ships at Cape Göring. It was like a bloodless Night of the Long Knives—even the rats in the Führer bunker beneath the Reichskanzlei were nervous. There’s nothing more mean and nasty—than Nazi internecine warfare.

“But why Admiral? A mere 16-year-old boy? According to our records, he’s just a normal American kid. Tagomi has taken him under his wing—the Imperial tutors have educated him. But surely the Kommandos don’t want to kidnap Spencer Abendsen—they’re after the boy’s father. Isn’t he the mysterious Man in the High Castle?”

The screen dimmed and there was a rush of static. The lights in the submarine went red—then back to normal.

“Besides Admiral—Abendsen is the mystery man. He’s the one who wrote The Grasshopper. He’s the Man in the High Castle—supposedly the one who knows Nebenwelt better than anybody. Yet he’s just a writer—he’s never made the jump. How could he know more about it than the Kommandos—they were the ones actually there?”

“Are you sure, Captain Wegner?”

“If the Kommandos are flying to Cheyenne—there’s a reason for it. If the Kommandos knew everything they needed to know about Nebenwelt—they wouldn’t be doing this. Any medical reports on Herr Kohler and Herr Seligsohn?”

Canaris shrugged. “Nothing abnormal or out of the ordinary. A few headaches—short-term memory intact again.”

Wegner hit the search button—scanning the de-brief files. Nothing came up about Cheyenne or Spencer Abendsen—other than data maps pinpointing the underground network beneath the suburban home. What did the Kommandos want—why didn’t they go through channels?

“Messerschmitt autopilot—it does everything,” Canaris said.

Wegner nodded—looking at his watch. They’d be in Cheyenne in an hour—secretly he admired the boldness of the two men. They were skilled and trained Kommandos—but somehow Nebenwelt had changed them. They were more aggressive—they obviously had an agenda. But whose agenda—the Fourth Reich’s or some other world? The Abwehr—or the SS? The Luftwaffe was out of the picture—it would be a much smaller world now without Der Dicke.

“There’s a young woman on the way to Abendsen’s home too—her name is Juliana Frink. She neutralized a Nazi hired killer—posing as her lover. He was assigned to kill Hawthorne Abendsen—the thug was using Frink as a foil.”

“What about the Kommandos?”

“Tedeki has permitted Frink to enter the gated community where the Abendsen family lives. Supposedly she’s a telepath—in contact with the Oracle.”

“But what about the Kommandos?”

“We’ve got the okay from Denver Control and Tedeki—to let them land and see what they do. Tedeki is as curious as we are—the same with Frau Frink. It’s wait-and-see—after all she neutralized the hired gun. There’s nothing more we can do.”

Wegner was impressed—usually the Admiral’s thinking was much more convoluted with military intelligence. But he was being much more straight-forward than usual—something else was bothering him.

“There’s a little cocktail party going on—the usual guests and acquaintances. Nothing out of the ordinary—except one thing.”

“Admiral—surely you jest. Just one thing out of the ordinary? I’m not sure of anything right now. Miami is gone—so is Paraguay. Vaporized—off the face of the earth. Some kind of multiple-theater conflict is opening up—I just don’t know enough about this Nebenwelt thing. I’m for the Kommando unit doing their thing—anything more they find out can only help us with intelligence. ”

Canaris studied Wegner’s expression—Wegner was no flat-faced steely-eyed black-shirt thug with shiny jackboots and a Waffen-SS metal or two. Wegner was Canaris’s protégé—his right-hand man and partner in crime.

“You’re right Wegner—we really don’t know anything about Nebenwelt yet. That’s why we’re letting the Kommandos fly undercover to Cheyenne—they want to meet the author of The Grasshopper.”

“You mean, of course, Hawthorne Abendsen.”

“No, Wegner—they want to meet Abendsen’s son. They want to meet Spencer Abendsen.”

“But why Admiral?”

“Because Spencer Abendsen is the true author of The Grasshopper—not his father Hawthorne.”

So it was all just a ruse—to protect the boy. The father was willing to take the heat for the book—in order to hide his son from the SD. But why publish The Grasshopper in the first place—why endanger his family for a book of fiction?

Parallel worlds were beginning to fold together fairly quickly—alternate realities were synchronizing on different levels. It was an unfolding process—surely Tedeki and the Abwehr had insider knowledge if anybody did.

Especially Canaris. Surely if anybody knew who was the Man in the High Castle—it was him. Seemingly always thinking ahead of events—the ultimate master spy and clever multi-tasker.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

(Chapter One of a Proposed Sequel to The Man in the High Castle)

“We have entered
a moment when
we are alone…”
—Philip K. Dick,
The Man in the High Castle


“Too bad I don’t have a copy of the oracle here,” Canaris said to himself. “I could consult it—take this issue to it for its 5000 years of wisdom…”

Der Dicke had taken off quickly in his Messerschmitt—back to the safety of his Luftwaffe base in Miami. As Canaris expected, Der Dicke had sent an urgent coded message to Miami for an emergency staff meeting. The subject—Hawthorne Abendsen.

There was more to the message—Berlin had been contacted. The three best Nazi Orientalist scholars from the Reich University were to be immediately flown to Miami—for their expert advice on the Book of Changes and other important matters of state.

Canaris smiled to himself—despite Göring’s skepticism at the situation conference with the Kommandos, the news had been taken seriously by Der Dicke. Things were now moving according to plan—let Luftwaffe counterintelligence try the impossible now. Where the Army and SS had failed—perhaps the Luftwaffe could succeed. And with their success—doom themselves to oblivion.

Then Admiral Canaris recalled—there was a copy of the I Ching in the Book Lounge in the Bunker. So he made his way from the conference room, down the elevator—to the deep sprawling bunker that was his underground Navy base beneath New York City.

The Book Lounge was actually a huge electronic library—with access to the complete Fourth Reich database. There was a small lounge for the more senior intelligence staff—the old naval counterintelligence class from WWII. Canaris had seen to that—the lounge was all chrome-steel & glass furnished in elegant art deco design. A period Canaris appreciated—Egyptian moderne he called it. A sense of power—yet respect for history.

The doors hissed open—admitting him into the main level of the lounge. He was a mile beneath Manhattan—inside the heart of the beast. He took a right to another room—his personal office. There it was—inside a battered battleship-gray metal filing cabinet he kept around for nostalgic purposes. It was wrapped in a black silk scarf—along with three ancient coins.

Sitting at his desk—he began the consultation. The moment was right now—it was time to consult the oracle. It would only be a matter of time now—before both Der Dicke and Reinhardt Heydrich the SS Reichsführer were doing the same thing. It was like a Domino Effect—snaking its way slowly through the haughty hierarchy of Supermen.

Canaris opened the silk scarf and took out the three brass coins. Then he wrote the question on the back of an envelope—“How should I approach the Nebenwelt?”

The Nebenwelt Project was moving right along—now that Kohler and Seligsohn were recuperating from their memory loss. The shift from Nebenwelt had temporarily paralyzed their short-term memory—but after several weeks it returned. Yet they were changed—somehow.

Canaris cleared his mind—then he began throwing the coins. The bottom line was Six, and so was the second and then the third. The bottom trigram in K’un—the Earth. That pleased Canaris—three changing receptive lines. As deeply receptive—as the North Atlantic. His home—away from home.

Then line Four and Five—both Eights. All yin lines so far. Good lord, he thought excitedly; one more yin line and I’ve got Hexagram Two, K’un, The Receptive. The dark, yielding, receptive power of yin. The other half of Hexagram One, Ch’ien, the Creative. The four fundamental aspects of both the Creative and the Receptive—“sublime success, furthering through perseverance.”

Canaris threw the set of coins one last time—but it was a Seven. A yang at the top of the hexagram—the roof of a crumbling house. Po / Splitting Apart. A sense of deep despair came over him—he breathed deeply until he was centered again.

Opening the book, Canaris read the judgment.

SPLITTING APART. It does not further one
To go anywhere.

Canaris studied the hexagram—then he looked at the chart at the end of the book and came up with what Po / Splitting Apart was turning into. It was becoming Hexagram 26—The Taming Power of the Great.

How could two hexagrams be so different? The roof collapsing—yet the power of staying still? He’d never got two hexagrams like this before—defeat yet victory.

Canaris read the judgment.

Perseverance furthers.
Not eating at home brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

Canaris narrowed down to a single line under the Image: The way to study the past is not to confine oneself to mere knowledge of history, but application of this knowledge, to give actuality to the past.

Canaris closed the book and thought about it. No action was necessary—it was best to do nothing. Trying to aggressively approach Nebenwelt was not the proper thing to do—not at least now. Nebenelt was coming to him—letting Nebenwelt approach was better.

Being aggressive would only yield doom and destruction—let both Göring and Heydrich tread where angels fear to tread. Knowing them, Canaris said to himself, they will try to control Nebenwelt like everything else in Reich politics—by sheer naked power.

Two things had already happened—the Little Doktor’s appointment as chancellor of Germany and all German-occupied territory and the sudden cancellation of Operation Dandelion. Now the news about Nebenwelt—a parallel world to the Nazi Planet.

Canaris was skeptical. Meaningful coincidence was just not how the Reich was run—synchronicity had nothing to do with Berlin or Berchtesgarden. The astrologers were, of course, still consulted—they were the ones who lobbied the most against the Book of Changes as nothing but degenerate oriental mysticism. The astrologers were politicians—like everybody else.

Canaris shrugged his shoulders. Astrologers? Necromancers? Dreamy Orientalists? Who or what was next? The entrails of an owl? The flight of egrets across an evening sky? What was happening to the world? Their former allies the Japanese were now the enemy—Operation Dandelion would surely become a long extended Cold War now. Apparently the alternate world was similarly cursed—was the roof falling in on them too?

Canaris returned the book to the filing cabinet—somehow the Nebenwelt was connected with the oracle. The Orientalists said the book was alive—it was 5000 years old. It was aware of the Nebenwelt—it was trying to tell us something. Abendsen used the oracle for his book—The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Canaris rubbed his eyes—he had an uneasy feeling about all this.

Next to the oracle was Abendsen’s book—Canaris kept both of them together. They had similar invisible contours—they described parallel worlds in conflict. Canaris often wondered—did he have a Double in the Nebenwelt? The Kommandos had reported his Double had been hanged—after the conspiracy against Hitler had failed. How would this effect his intelligence egress between the Führerwelt and the Nebenwelt? What had happened to Naval counterintelligence after the war in the alternate world—had it been absorbed into the Nebenwelt power elite structure?

They’d known about Nebenwelt for 18 months now—two Kommandos were back. They’d been debriefed—their short-term memories had returned. They were smart—Canaris trusted them. Professor Wolfgang Pauli had been summoned from Norway—to explain the physical phenomenon of synchronicity to the Naval staff.

But how does one explain something like synchronicity to a young submarine commander—or to one of the crack Luftwaffe Mars Expedition rocket pilots? Yet to get to Nebenwelt—required aleatoric acausal expertise. It was an ancient technique—it was 5000 years old.

No one knew where Abendsen was—but they had his book. A tight group of neo-nazi literary scholars had been assembled—to map out on a point-by-point comparison the differences between Abednsen’s imaginary alternate world and the actual Nebenwelt. Germanics departments around the world had been alerted—graduate students were scrambling.

Canaris was interested in having undivided control over egress—so both worlds wouldn’t bleed into each other. There were enough problems in the Führerwelt—without adding Nebenwelt Cold War politics to his list of Mission Impossible projects. Nor did he want Heydrich causing problems—nor Der Dicke. These were ambitious men—there was no Leader to hold them in check anymore. The Little Doktor was Paper Tiger—where was Speer? That suave sophisticated Architect—Hitler’s pet and his biggest disappointment. Had he defected to Nebenwelt—like Rudolf Hess?

The oracle’s advice on Po / Splitting Apart was apropos—the collapse of the Reich in one world and its victory in another was mind-boggling enough. But to contemplate a peaceful non-military enantiodromia between two such opposing worlds was almost unthinkable—how could two such diametrically-opposed worlds co-exist once they became aware of each other? How had they been split-apart in the first place—how long had they been Twin Planets spinning around the same sun?

But Canaris had other things to worry about—within his own world. The powerful Nazi factions were again reorganizing themselves—the Nazi knights reorganized the order constantly. But something was going on in the Nebenwelt—something in both worlds. Canaris was fearful—such developments only spelled trouble. Such an unfortunate encounter—would be a War of the Worlds.

It was unthinkable—yet unthinkableness was his job. Canaris had been trained to think the unthinkable—after all he was the head of Naval counterintelligence. He still believed in the Führer-Principle—but the idea of Führer-Control over another world was sheer madness.

The Nazi Mars and Moon colonies were barely functional even now—despite all the best German science and technology available. How could his world hope to prevail over a parallel world—another aggressive alternate world already hopelessly bent away from the Axis?

Captain Wegener was back at Tempelhof Airfield after his meeting with Heydrich on Prinz-Albrechstrasse. He smiled and nodded to the young lieutenant driver—so proud of his mirror-polished Daimler phaeton sedan. Just another kid from Munich—who loved driving fast on the Autobahn. The whole world opening up to him—proud of his shiny chrome Luger too.

The new R-15 Messerschmitt rocket was in the air—soon Wegener would be back in New York. Canaris came on the emergency channel—there was a tremendous amount of static.

The image of Canaris jiggled on the screen—like a nervous water-spider. Moiré patterns dimpled the bunker background image—Canaris looked grim.

The admiral chose his words carefully. “Miami has been vaporized. The whole Luftwaffe complex is gone—along with Göring and his staff. It wasn’t Heydrich or the Little Doktor. It wasn’t the Japanese either.”

Wegener leaned toward the screen. “Who did it then, Admiral?”

The image faded—then it popped back on the screen. Wegener felt himself listing eccentrically—all sense of balance gone…”

“The Nebenwelt,” Canaris said. “The Invasion has begun.”

Friday, June 8, 2012


Why do they let him go on?
Maybe because they can’t stop him.
Maybe there’s never been anyone
in half-life like Jory before.”

The door of the ancient hotel room swung open. Don Denny accompanied by a doctor entered. Denny’s face was strained with apprehension. He looked at me.

“How are you Joe? Are you feeling better? For chrissake, I was worried about you."

“You and who else?” I said. “They’re all dead & you know it. The same with Runciter."

The doctor hauled out his medical bag on the vanity table. “Is there any pain along with the enervation and the difficult respiration?”

He got out his old-fashioned stethoscope and cumbersome blood-pressure-reading equipment. “Do you have any history of cardiac involvement, Mr. Chip? Your mother or father? Unbutton your shirt, please.”

“I’m okay now,” I said.

“Let him listen to your heart,” Denny said tersely.

“Forget it,” I said. “Runciter was here. We got thru to each other. We’re all in cold-pac; he’s in here too. Altho he’s pretending he’s still boss—somehow outta the loop. Surely you know that by now.”

“No,” said Denny.

“See that spray can of Ubik on the table. He left it here. Spray it on you, now. Or I’ll do it.”

The doctor removed his horn-rimmed glassed and rubbed his eyes. Then he disappeared.

“Spray it on you. Or I’ll do it,” I said.

“Oh, okay. It doesn’t make any difference now. You’re the last one left.” He sprayed the Ubik on himself—there was just enough to do it.

Denny evaporated. An adolescent boy, mawkishly slender, stood there. Black-button eyes, sallow complexion. A misshapen smile—more like a smirk.

“So who the fuck are you?” I said.

“I’m Jory,” he said.

“That’s what I thought. Just a greasy ugly little pimply-faced punk, that’s all.”

Jory’s fingers writhed—like he wanted to get them around my throat. His face twitched—he’s been caught doing what he did best. Being a hyena—a fuckin no-good half-life scavenger.

“Yeah, kid. Finally we meet—but on my grounds.”

“Not for long,” Jory stammered. He had this twitch to his face, his flesh seemed to undulate with aversion. Cruddy, crummy decay and kipple was worming its way into him. He was no good—he was only 15 when he died in an auto accident. He was making-up for lost time now.

Jory opened his mouth—I could hear them all. Screaming down there deep inside a well—all the precogs & telepaths. The whole Runciter gang. He’d got them when they were vulnerable—lying there in their half-life propped up in their half-life coffins.

“Don’t you have anything to say?” I said. “It’s you who’ve rubbed us all out. What’s left of us.”

“Neat stuff,” Jory said. “Where does Runciter get it. Ella Runciter that is. They’ve got her in a different room. I haven’t been able to suck her dry yet.”

“Yeah, I know. Your toady Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang. He let you do it, didn’t he? The fuckin
faggot moratorium owner.”

“Von Vogelsang is queer for me. I let him do me when he’s cringing for it. He’s a medieval queen bee, you should’ve known that by now. Amphetamines and acid—he’s a chicken queen dontchaknow.”

“It figures,” I said.

“You rang sir,” Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang said. He stepped into the consultation lounge, mincing over to the coffin.

The moratorium owner slithered over to me, putting in another of his untimely appearances. His lips were puffy, his eyes were dilated.

“Can I get you anything, Mr. Chip? A cup of coffee? A martini? Another amphetamine, perhaps a twelve-hour spansule? In my office I have some special twenty-four-hour aphrodisiac spansules—one of those can keep you going for hours, if not all night.”

“See,” Jory said. “Van Vogelsang is my sugar daddy. He lets me suck them all dry. All of you half-dead telepaths and teeps. Then I let him suck me off—and he gets to taste your brains.”

“You must get bored—this little Tomb World of yours,” I said.

“So what’s new? You two must get kinda bored? A couple of down-and-out scummy old queens like you two? A pair of mortuary misanthropes—what creeps.”

“We don’t have to cruise for it,” faggy Von Vogelsang said. “It comes to us. There’s a glut of half-life victims at our disposal. Runciter and your team of mind-readers was just the right thing to happen. Jory and I were simply starved, my dear. A nice psi hors-d’œuvre of exquisitely alert & over-sensitive minds—oh, if you only knew.”

“So you’re the real telepaths. Not Runciter or Hollis or Dole Melipone.”

“Melipone was a screwball."

“You mean like you two?”

“Hardly, my dear. We here at the Brethren Mortuary are accredited and approved. We’ve been doing this for centuries, dontchaknow? Time reversion is strictly speaking the way things are done. We don’t just suck you dry—we go back with time reversion and suck each of your past lives dry, simply dry to the last drop, my dear.”

“You’re so sick. You must be pretty needy to have to do that. Cold-pac vampires on the prowl. Undead preying on the half-dead. You really must be hard up.”

Always solicitous Von Vogelsang looked worried. So did Jory, standing over me.

“We go back as far as we can go, but we have to. One life isn’t enough—we need all of them. There’s a reason for this reversion machinery—crude as it may seem.”

“It’s because you’re dying too. You’ve been dead much too long, Von Vogelsang. And you too, Jory.”

There was this sinking sensation in the hotel room. The retrograde time momentum back to 1969 was undergoing something weary, shaken, worn-out. Something was wrong.

“It seems to me, I said, “something malignant rather than purposeful is happening here in your rathole front for a funeral home.”

Letting his breath out in a ragged, noisy rush, Jory looked hesitantly at Von Vogelsang.

“What I said isn’t necessarily true,” Von Vogelsang said. “I don’t hold the same relationship to this regressed underworld like Jory does. It’s all his fault—I don’t know anything.”

“You know too much,” Jory said to Von Vogelsang.

Von Vogelsang was on his knees. Insipidly praying for forgiveness. It sickened me. I could smell the stink of formaldehyde on his breath—Von Vogelsang was deadly afraid of Jory. Why?

Suddenly Von Vogelsang disappeared.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dick in Cold Pac

                        The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick
                        by R. Crumb from Weirdo #17


“He had always been there.”
—Emmanuel Carrère,
I Am Alive and You Are Dead:
A Journey into the Mind of
Philip K. Dick

“So what happened?”

“It’s like you said…”

“Yeah, I thought so…”

“Like I had this Martian Time Slip dream.”

“Yeah, another kipple effect nightmare?”

“It happened right away.”

“So tell me about it.”

“I was up on Capitol Hill. At the Elliott Bay Bookstore. Browsing around.”


“Well, bingo—just like that. I felt the kipple effect oozing again into me, into the bookstore. Real smooth and sneaky-like.”


“I looked down & my leather jacket was gone. Just like that. Along with my billfold like it usually does. When the Kipple Effect happens. My jacket & billfold just disappeared.”

“Talk about déjà vu…”

“Yeah. It happens every time.”

“So I started looking around the bookstore for my jacket & billfold, right? I found my jacket in a cabinet drawer & put it back on. But the billfold’s still missing…”

“It figures. Then what?”

“I turned to this little ugly old lady sitting at a desk next to the cabinet & asked her like where’s my billfold? She looked like an old bitch troll, shit, man.”

“They confiscated it,” she snarled at me. “That’s how we do things around here. Official business.”

I asked her “Official business? Like who? What the fuck!!! Management? When do I get my fuckin billfold back?”

“When Mao decides so,” she said.


“Yeah, Mao, well—you’re getting into it now. Dream management confiscating your memory & old kipple queen bees keeping their eyes on you.”

“That’s what I thought. In the dream I felt totally awake and lucid about everything. The Mao thing reminded me naturally of both Dick & Disch. Dealing with some kind of fuckin fascist authority figures.”

“Well, now you know.”

“Know what?”

“You don’t really need Ubik to figure it out. Think phenothiazine like Chien used so he could see the Almighty one in Dick’s “Faith of Our Fathers.”

“Like the Lizard monster at the Leader’s party?”

“Or any of its other disguises on the future Orwellian 1984 TV with messages drooling outta the android’s or robotic bubble head’s mouth, doing the same old propagandistic newspeak thing.”

“Definitely a weird seminal short story. You know what it reminded me of? The Jap version of The Man in the High Castle. After the Axis won the war—the whole west coast under the Rising Sun.”

“In Dick’s story phenothiazine did what Ubik does—it got rid of the illusion by de-hallucinating the poor fuck Chien. Like Ubik did for Joe Chip.”

“Yeah, but in The Man in the High Castle, Tagomi does the same thing. He de-hallucinates and suddenly sees a different kind of San Francisco—one where something called the Embarcadero Freeway exists. All because of this flash-back thing with some of Childan’s jewelry. Into an alt.welt. Without drugs or cold-pac deep freeze…”

“Another time other than just strictly linear time exists in that novel. The tenor of the moment changes. Two worlds—they don’t collide. They kinda schmooze with each other. You know, like the I Ching. Dick used it a lot writing that book…”

“Well, there I was…mind-fucking myself in this spectral version of this bookstore—usually a place I feel fairly comfortable in. But not this dream bookstore. I felt awfully paranoid & worried about having no ID on me. In fact, I really didn’t know who I was…”

“Yeah, then what?”

“I woke up. I woke up & started laughing at myself in bed. It was like an anxiety dream I told myself—I always hate it when they abscond with my billfold & identity like that. It’s like I feel I’ve been thrown into some kind of crummy Lost & Found Department somewhere. Without a clue as to why or WTF I’m doing there, you know what I mean?”

“So now that you’re into this lucid dream thing, how do you feel about it? Now you can remember your dreams. But can you remember from one dream to the next—that you’re getting mind-fucked?”

“How can you know you’re being mind-fucked when you’re in the middle of being fuckin mind-fucked? Your memory’s been erased—so each mind-fuck is totally completely new. You’re like in the ultimate Mind Fuck Moment. How can you compare it with anything, man?”

“I dunno. It reminds me of Snake Plissken. Caught up in Escape from New York. Everything’s different in there—different rules, different lifestyles, different everything. You remember what he went thru.”

“Yeah, you’re right. It’s like Escape from New York. It feels like I’m inside the same Prison Planet each time, man. Like I’ve always been there. And yeah, there’s No Escape.”

“Maybe it is a Prison Planet. And cold-pac is lock-down for all us inmates?”

“Well, yeah. Especially in these Ubik dreams. There’s no escape. No use fighting it. It’s been that way for centuries.”

“You think so?”

“I don’t know. I do know I’ve been deceived more than once. Once I wake up—I’m okay. But when I’m lucid dreaming, it’s the pits. The Dreamscape is truly Other. Like when I’m dreaming my whole existence is a cold-pac psychotic nightmare usually full of shitty paranoid foreboding Kafkaesque scenarios.”

“How do you know when you wake up—that’s it’s not just another Ubik dream you’re in? You know, a dream within a dream sort of thing? Have you ever woke up in a dream thinking you were awake?

“Oh man, you would have to say that, wouldn’t you?”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dick as Deadhead

The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick
by R. Crumb from Weirdo #17


“Phil longed for a revelation.
As the sixties progressed, he
anguished that the greatest
gift of all had been denied him.”
—Thomas Disch

“Dick must have ended up feeling like he’d reached the end with Galactic Pot-Healer. And Do Androids Dream of Electric Dreams.”

“Yeah, same with A Maze of Death. He was tired of faking it—he wanted the real thing. Whatever that was.”

“Well, he was kinda burned out I suppose. Pumping out all that Ace pulp paperback fiction. The speed & the divorces. Not a happy man. He was scraping the bottom of the barrel back then and he sort of died creatively & spiritually. That’s what Disch says anyway…”

“Yeah, Crumb’s Weirdo Comic pretty much explains what happened to him next tho. The wisdom tooth extraction—the pain killers. The whole 2-3-74 Valis visionary-hallucination thing. Bingo...”

“Yeah, I guess he was pretty much ready for it—some kind of out-of-body experience connecting him with a new schizoid Fractured Fairy Tale gestalt starting things all over again. Throw in a talking unplugged radio, some underground Christians back again, the fascist Romans still hanging around here now—plus the usual paranoia & pain killers. What do ya get? Huh? Huh?”

“I dunno. Whatever it was it seems to have been a super-escalation mindfuck of whatever sixties Berkeley paranoid shit was going on inside his fucked-up head…and his fucked-up lifestyle. Are all sci-fi writers that fucked up?”

“I was gonna say he reminds me of you…”

“Yeah, well, you aint no calm Rock of Gibraltar yourself, man. You’re so fucked up that…”

“Skip it. Just kidding, man. We’re like both stuck on a Titanic just like Dick—you and me. We can shuffle the deck-chairs a little bit. But let’s face it—we’re both in cold-pac & just quibbling over little shitty details doesn’t really change anything at all.”

“Hmmm. I suppose you’re right. Maybe we can learn how to nullify this kipple thing we’ve been caught up in. I don’t wanna keep dreaming this way, dude.”

“Neither do I—but then maybe it’s like Ella Runciter said in Ubik.”

“You mean we just gotta deal with it?”

“Yeah, I was gonna say just live with it. But in cold-pac that's kinda a sick joke ya know? Tell me. Have you seen Jory yet? He’s the one giving me static every night. Just like in Ubik—sucking all my cold-pac precognitions dry. Schmoozing thru the night & draining my memory dry. Know what I mean?”

“Well, I was wondering about him. Is that him popping up in my dream every night?”

“I dunno. I think so but if that’s true—that we’ve both got this Jory character inside us… Well, you know what that means. Whether we’re dreaming or not—we aint alive, we’re in cold-pac. And it's like haunted in here, baby.”

“Yeah, it figures. This Jory character. I’m always arguing with him. He’s like some kind of adolescent punk-monster of the Id.  Like in Forbidden Planet.”

“Definitely. And something else. All those ads in Ubik—going on & on. You been getting any of those in your dreams?”

“Yeah. Kinda. But they really don’t fit into the storyline tho—they just kinda pop up with each scene. What’s that all about?”

“Yeah, I noticed that too. You know what they remind me of? Passwords or scores popping up in some kind of computer game.”

“Yeah, not just ads for Ubik. But some kind of recurring computer game thing—maybe reminders that somebody or something is sponsoring the goddamn narrative? Is it a novel we’re in or just another fucked-up computer game fantasy…”

“Yup. Exactly. I’ll tell you something tho. Something you might not have known. The German translation of Ubik? It uses the word “Marke” as “brand name.” A commodity brand name or kind of marking of the product thing.”


“Well, if you translate the St. John quote in Ubik that way you end up with this: “When all things began the brand name already was. The brand name was such & such. You know, like "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later.”


“Up to that point of entry into the Ubik plotline as Logos or brand name, the ad copy-like epigraphs pitching various Ubik commodities begin each chapter, but precisely do not interact with or tie into the chapter itself, keeping its place just like an ad or station break.”

“Yeah. So what?”

“So that when Ubik steps down from the epigraph horizon into the narrative (its underworld), it’s more than just a cure-all product…” Ever read Laurence Rickels’ I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick.”

“Yeah, what’s he say?”

“It’s like the writer of a Ubik program giving instructions or hints—making labels, sharing notes, valuable notes.”

“Sounds like a computer game to me. You don’t suppose…”

“Yeah, now you get it. The Beloved Brethren Mortuary cold-pac is like a computer game.”


“And that little snotty nefarious brat Jory is just a little pimply-faced adolescent fuckin around with us in this crummy cold-pac computer game.”

“You got it. Kinda scary isn’t it?”

“Well, it’s no weirder than Stanislaw Lem’s take on Ubik as being a Marxist critique of capitalism decay and kippleization of markets, production & commodities I suppose.”

“You’re so brainy…”

“So let’s pretend we’re like anti-psi operators or inertials when we’ve dreaming next time. And this computer cold-pac dream game environment is out-of-joint.”

“You mean like Counter-Clock World ... our dream-world is entering into a kind of Hobart Phase?

“Yeah, we’re inside this fucked sidereal process in which time moves vertically not horizontally. Simultaneously rather than past/preset/future. We’re remembering things—but to remember things we’ve gotta forget things. Horizontal things like who we were when we went asleep.”

“Hmmm. That’s pretty heavy, man. I don’t know if I can wrap my mind around that one or not.”

“Look at it this way: We’re constantly faced with the replacement of brand-new situations while our memory ages and we’re trying to act out decayed versions of who we used to be.”

“Hmmm. Sounds fucked up to me, man.”

“It’s like Joe Chip’s portrait on the bills and coins. It’s funny money. He’s inside some kind of disjointed relationship with this dream-world of crummy Ubik commodities… inside this computer game.”


“So like we’re anti-psi operators or dreamtime inertials wising up to the situation by getting more lucid inside the dream, right?”


“We’re being subjected to two processes. One is a going-away, so to speak. A going-out-of-existence. That's process one. It’s horizontal. The second process is a coming-into-existence all at once. It’s vertical, simultaneous & superimposed. It’s a matrix that's never existed before."

“That’s why my dream are so Kipple?”

“Yeah, every new dream is a going-away that has the stronger pull. But its process, too, follows two trends. Symptoms of decay alternate with (and stabilize as) products that are obsolete.”

“Yup, I’ve felt that way maybe kinda.”

“Anyway, let’s see what our dreams are like tonight. The Kipple Effect. Try to pay attention to it…”

“Okay. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dick as Dickhead

The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick
by R. Crumb from Weirdo #17


“I thought a masterful con that
works. He’s a professional entertainer
of beliefs—a con man.”
—Thomas Disch, Interview with PDK

“A con-artist?”

“Yeah. It takes one to know one.”

“Like Disch, you mean?”

“Yeah, well, they were both good at it.”

“Being con-artist divas?”

“Well, d-u-h-h-h. Gnostic drag anyone? How about some cool Anamnesis burlesque?”

“Yeah. Dick turned everything into illusion.”

“So did Disch. Sci-fi was their way out.”

“Or maybe in. With each novel a rabbit-hole.”

“You mean a rabbit pulled outta a magician’s hat.”

“Yeah, same thing. Words can be magic sometimes.”

“So apparent reality for these guys seems to always end up always false & untrustworthy like Ubik?”

“Well, kinda, I suppose. Like Joe Chip & Runciter both ending up being caught up in a parallel world cold-pac nightmare. Thinking the real is real but it aint. Like was it ever real?”

“Gawd, you wanna know something really weird? Ever since I read Ubik—I’ve been fuckin dreaming Ubik dreams. You know, cold-pac nightmare things.”

“Really? So have I. I wonder what that means?”

“Well, what’s weird is that while I’m dreaming it all seems real, you know? But there’s this kipple thing going on—like Joe Chip’s going thru the storyline.”

“I know what you mean. The more lucid you get remembering these dreams—the more the Kipple Effect kicks in. It’s really pretty awful.”

“Like with me, well, it used to be I’d lose my billfold first. That was like the hint that my memory was gonna go for a crash. It used to happen slowly—you know like degenerating from one thing to another.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m more aware of it now tho. More lucid—I don’t know why. But then I start forgetting things—like where I am in the dream. And then the usual Freudian thing—ending up nude & looking around for my fuckin clothes…”

“Yeah, it sucks. Like last night, I got into this argument with this guy about stealing my memory. I blamed him for my predicament—for losing everything in the dream. It went on & on…”

“Yeah, I dunno. The more aware you’re losing it—the faster you start losing it. And the more you start losing it—the faster you start losing everything…”

“Well, dude—you know what that means.”

“No, don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.”

“Yeah, let’s face it. We’re both like Joe Chip. We’re in cold-pac, baby. This is some kind of goddamned Beloved Brethren Mortuary we're in—we’re dreaming it now, in fact. Can you dig it?”

“Jeez, Lueez, it’s all Philip K. Dick’s fault.”

“You really think we dream books we’re reading?”

“You’re fuckin A, man. Especially these mind-fuck sci-fi novels by Dick. Paranoia is contagious, you know? Like yuk!”

“Well, in these Ubik dreams I’ve been having—like I’m more lucid that I ever have been. More lucid & aware of the crummy situation I’ve dreamed myself into. It's a creeper. It gets deeper & deeper.”

“Yeah, me too. But it seems so real, man. So real inside these fuckin Ubik dreams—you know what I mean? But then when I wake up I have to laugh at myself. The mind-fuck I've been struggling with, well, it's just disappears. Thank gawd. Man oh man...”

“Well, I dunno. After reading Ubik a couple of times, like I downloaded Exegesis on my Kindle. Fuck me! Talk about a fuckin labyrinth. A ratty rabbit-hole. It was like I was into this serial-dream mode thing. It’s this recurring thing—getting more & more aware of the Kipple Effect, don’t you think?”

“I don’t think—I know what you're talking about. But it aint just losing your billfold or clothes anymore. The plots are getting more complex and paranoid. I keep losing track of myself. Know what I mean?”

“Hmmm. Yeah, we’re both turning into P. K. Dickheads that's for sure, man. Wait until you read A Scanner Darkly. That's when you're in deep shit.”

“Fuck that. I saw the movie—talk about weird. I don’t wanna end up like Keanu Reeves or Downey.”

“Well, it’s the same with all of PDK’s novels—everything gets slowly transgressive & worse & worse. I’ve read most of his novels. The Man in the High Castle still gives me bad dreams—the same with that short story “Faith of Our Fathers.”

“It seems like Dick is living in more than one world all the time. He's got all these layers & simultaneous realities ending up getting stacked on top of each another. Chilling the layers together—like Rome & now going on at the same time?”

“Like with the Crumb Weirdo Comics thing.”

“Yeah. Somewhere Dick says he doesn’t write beautifully—he just reports about conditions to get to those outside the cold-pac.”

“But that, of course, is surely just a fiction—that we’re all dead just thinking they’re outta cold-pac. What a mind-fuck. What if we're all dead anyway?”

“Well, you see, Dick ended up being a real deadhead. He knew he was just faking it—pretending he was this smooth guy outside cold-pac totally informed & all that. Like Abendsen in The Man in the High Castle. The Grasshopper is Heavy thing. Like he was always yearning for some kind of real religious out-of-this-world revelation—instead of faking it all the time.”

“Like A Maze of Death and Galactic Pot-Healer? He must have felt like he'd been denied some kind of kosher religious experience—and he’d reached the end-game. He was scrapping the bottom of the barrel. He couldn’t fake it anymore—that’s when it happened.”

“Yeah, that impacted wisdom-tooth thing..."