Neither/Nor says they are finally getting progress, and I read proof on about half the texts, so soon my book should be out and I’ll be very happy if only because I’ll feel vindicated for having so long pretended to write. I’ll also be pleased at the inevitable bafflement in the ranks of the faintly hostile acquaintance local. I have a lot of confidence in this thing despite not believing it to be of any consequence greater than the consequence all tiny collections of shimmering literary jewels show a dearth of, and I suppose I should start planning how I’ll celebrate arrival of copies. Go to the bar and wave it in people’s faces? —naw, not unless you simultaneously cry words to the effect that you also wield a bottomless pocket… ON ME, FELLOWS! I’ll get on the radio, that’s what, and read excerpts and field stupid queries. Or maybe do nothing, except mention it to women in the bar: Yeah, I have a few copies at home if you’d like to come over…

This morning it is raining and on the way home the drops slid down the front of my shades, welling at the bottom. They’re supposed to conceal, I thought. Why bother wearing them.

If it is training at all to play serious Chess daily for several months, which I have done, then the training will be in one’s ability to maintain a sharp concentration. The rest of the phases are nothing now: the periods during which one spots Chess metaphors & apologies in everything… prosaic. For a long time I looked for a breakthrough, but it never came, and I slogged on, having early learned the lesson of humility and deciding that I wasn’t in it to win any more, but to practice and enjoy it. 80% of the time when I face a worthy challenge, I lose miserably and for weeks prior to learning the lesson, I get on people’s nerves. Exhaustion makes me irritable and enervation, nasty. Finally I developed the habit of smiling forcibly when I lost. In Method Acting: “To feel the emotion, make the motion.” I am not a good player but I can honestly say I know good play when I see it. Memorizing the variations of a few openings taught principles of good opening play better than the formulaic advice of the classicists. I’ve improved, but the improvement hasn’t come through any greater technical knowledge; it has come through a change in my emotional approach to the puzzles. A while back it became gossip that I am easy to beat but not when “he puts on his playing face.” Now I wear it at will just a touch more often. Slow work, and one of the disappointments in the departure today of my friend Richard Miller for Japan is that he is the town’s unofficial champ, always ready for a game. Where to locate new opponents?

For a month I’ve been processing raw data with this heightened concentration level… when I’m not playing or sleeping, there is one thing on my mind. THE puzzle. I primed myself for conversation… in people like me it takes years to weigh plus/minus, and we do it at our leisure, well aware from our distance of the drawbacks to intimate contact with humans. And I smashed my ego boundaries with a rebel yell when the moment struck. Opportunity knocks, I answer by detonating the charges I long ago planted under the walls of the castle. To the eerily detached voice in comforting tones: “Yes. Who is it? How can I help you. Come in, come in… ” I was told that I move too fast. Others have called me impulsive but I suspect they don’t credit me with deciding and then waiting in the wings for my cue like a skilled player should. Time pressure is the next problem to fix in my game: the clock is a damned nuisance and it was in this case; no getting around it. Too fast and yet not fast enough… should perhaps have begun earlier. For the first time in literally a decade or more, I’ve had the sensation my dad once told me about in an unrelated tale which served to remind me that I was living anaesthetically: when one is so intent on something that one forgets to go out for lunch. There is the measure of a life worth living, I say; how often you forget to eat. HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE EVER SEEN IT IN A FLASH? Lately? For analogies, imagine regaining your taste buds, or remembering your name after years. I assimilated a personality. A simple one, not complex maybe… it aided the task, or perhaps I was ready for the complexities and didn’t perceive them as such. Whoever could say that hell is other people has got to be an imbecile in forgetting the alternative and my worst sensation is the kind I imagine mystics get when deity descends but departs: acute distaste for every facet of my life as it was before. In this Drug, one shot can get you hooked. Even the opiates don’t change my feelings or remove them now; I’ve tried.

But she’s gone two weeks and the agony has persisted long enough to have become tolerable I suppose… Systems were down for a repair of circuits and the brownout is lifting, in some sectors. I cannot order my conclusions in any hierarchy of importance, but chief among the unpleasant experiences is that of establishing such a feedback loop as makes me feel like I’ve never once communicated with another person—and never will again—only to have the thing shut down… Like the lines are open but nothing is coming across the wires and my flywheels have been spinning in the red. No resolution, insufficient data, no conclusions, only tentatives, in chess: the myriad possible combinations…

In this respect I am struck by Diogenes’ use of a quote by da Vinci which strikes me as so alien and incomprehensible that its effect is only to inspire in me a revulsion for anyone who could think or say such a thing. I suppose it is reasonable to assume that this is the result calculated, and by past commentary on the matter by Dio we can assume that this is so; the apologetic and self-deprecating are, after all, begging to be rejected, a sign that they haven’t been honest in presenting themselves as candidates for communion with another.

But the problem of promiscuity today is that “repressive” sexual mores serve another beneficial purpose besice the obvious ones related to health. In our existence we gain much by the consummation of community with others, and modern man whines endlessly about the alienation that is the lack of strong bonds between people. We’re all painfully self-conscious Hamlets yearning after the kind of closeness only achieved in Conspiracy, love, or war. Political and criminal conspirators only persist once they’ve solved for themselves one of the age-old questions: that confronting recruiters when in need for a test for loyalty. Communion with another is proven by tests, and when sex no longer serves the extra purpose of sealing a pact — a multidimensional pact — then there is no longer any possible proof, and we are eternally sperate despite all protestations to the contrary. Lesser proofs for lesser commitments do not suffice because we long for supreme unity; only a test built on a contrived resistance to an act will demonstrate, sacramentally, that here, and now, we have broken through and formed Conspiracy.

The trivialization of sex is a symptom of culture-wide infantilization in which we sell our birthright (no pun intended) for a delusory consolation prize. Furthermore, casual sex between friends no longer appeals to me, on the basis of my observation that while the friendship is colored by profundity betrayed, the Conspiracy is contradicted by cavalier attitude.

I’ve changed my mind on abortion, too, and now stand unequivocally opposed to it (although opposed yet to state intervention). The act not only bespeaks a loathsome trivialization, in constitutes perhaps one of the greatest possible indignities that a man can perpetrate on a member of the human species. And I’m not talking about the fetus, which I regard as an inconsequential adjunct to this aspect of the crime of abortion. That they will live if they are not aborted is merely good; (to digress, forever be damned the mouthings of psychotic liberals who bemoan abused children or the unwanted; they show that they understand Nothing of life, and confine us to the grim sight of a nation of chosen, coddled, and engineered little clones of Spock.) Returning, no imaginable horror short of torture-murder that could be conjured in Room 101 — rats eating faces, whatever — could possibly match abortion for the degradation, the perversion, and the ugliness. And the anti-abortion cranks will win in the end, precisely on the basis of the aesthetic implications of the act. They are fighting on the front lines for the happy and useful pretension that Skinner and his ilk presume to be able to debunk with scornful science: that we are by nature dignified creatures and worthy. I would join the Church tomorrow if, in helping it succeed, I could know that the scientists would once again tremble in their laboratories and occasionally be brought to harsh task for their evil machinations. Unfortunately we live in a world demonic in its expectation that secular authority (or authority of any sort but the secular brand being particularly pernicious from this angle) deserves a fair — and long — test in the court of history. If only I could believe.

Phil, you asked me why I hate the world and would relish its utter annihilation. The most I can say is that you’ve clearly got a long way to go before you learn where to edit yourself so as not to appear a fool. Your offers of riches, fame, and influence should I but quit complaining and go to work would entice the kind of retard who plays Supermarket Bingo. The only work worth working is to slay the dragon or follow Ulysses, and trapped as I am the best I can do is crawl through the mud of the psychosis called daily life and console myself with visions of mayhem, vengeance, riot, bombings, and instant death for those responsible for any specific crime. Bad Billy is a puerile liar and it hasn’t taken him/her long to reveal it, but I think I’ve seen glimmerings that he/she at least would understand rage. Those who don’t, I find, tend toward the smug & fatuous. In a less bitter mood I’ll say I don’t want to drive you away; I think you’re okay really but I’m bugged by such a question. Forgive me. You’re just a bit further down the road to realization of what a concentration-camp-world we live in. As a practicing phenomenologist, I know about the influence of mood over perception. The power of negative thinking has proven itself far more effective than that of your positive kind in the past, if only because positive thinking is a subset of critical intelligence in general, a special case that posits dangerous editing of input.

Joe Fulks: Your mention of multi-model communication to TC118 was fortuitous considering that this same issue contained my minimalist-metafiction masterpiece, Twilight to Authority. I hope Kysor scratches his head although I expect him to be a clod about it, as most of your semi-educated techies tend to be. What they don’t realize is that metafiction truly serves up more precision that fiction itself, and is often criticized by the “humanists” of the art community for being sterile, overly-technical to the point of being nothing beyond dazzling technique, etc., etc. Pynchon, the greatest writer of all time, wrote technical manuals for Boeing while he was at work on V., and trained in mathematics if I remember aright.

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