Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The City's True Name 5; State of the Universe

            State Of The Universe

            Sogwa and Mischief visited the sit-in at Akasic Library Plaza. They split up, promising to keep in touch by radio and psi-mail. They needed it; the crowd was enormous.
            Sogwa asked around, but nobody knew the true name of the City That Only Kids Can See, nor the reason why, nor even Grandma Marge’s address. Instead they told her why she couldn’t just go into the Akasic Library and find out these things for herself.
            They told her about interdicts and censorship; that the Web was closed ‘for the duration’, that the duration started out short but became endless.
            They told her about Gop’s angels; their loyalty, their ferocity, and how quick those angels are to accuse others of vulgarity, impiety and treason. They also told her how vulgar, impious and treasonous those angels were themselves.
            They told her about Gop; how poorly he was doing before the Fearsome Vision arrived; how well he has done since; how bravely his angels said he lead; and how badly in fact he led.
            They told her that Gop never admitted a mistake, or corrected one.
            They told her that Gop only listened to what he already thought.
            They told her about Gop’s lies, his secrecy, his failures, his follies, and his crimes.
            The people of the Akasic Library Plaza did not know the City’s true name, but they did know why Sogwa couldn’t find out for herself, and there was only one reason why:
            Gop the Image.

            Sogwa was skeptical. She asked a Heat-Vent Tube-Worm from the ice moon Europa, “That’s what you say about him, but how can I judge for myself if it’s true?”
            The Tube-Worm said, “To see Gop for yourself, just tune your far-sight to Channel One. Gop is about to deliver his State of the Universe address.”

            So Sogwa switched on her far-vision. It shone bright in her mind’s eye. Channel Three had midget mud-wrestling. Channel Seventeen showed the stock report from Mars. Channel Sixty-Six was playing a robot soap opera. Channel One Hundred and Thirty-Seven was selling Photosynthesis. On Channel Two Thousand and Six, two computers were debating PC versus Mac. Sogwa’s far-vison had ten thousand channels, but there was nothing on worth watching.
            So finally Sogwa tuned to Channel One. The State of the Universe speech was about to begin. The Robot Angel Choir serenaded Gop with this song:

“If I listened long enough to you
I'd find a way to believe that it's all true
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
Somebody else
Someone like you makes it easy to give
Never think about myself

If I gave you time to change my mind
I'd find a way just to leave the past behind
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
Somebody else
Someone like you makes it easy to give
Never think about myself.”

            The song ended, and Gop began his speech. He said, “My fellow Celestials, ever since the Fearsome Vision changed everything....”
            “Wait a minute!” Sogwa exclaimed. “Where have I heard that voice before?”
            Gop was saying, “... our struggle. But we will prevail in our long War on Fear. The Fearists will not succeed, provided only that you give me, Gop, your endless unquestioning faith.”
            “Hey mister!” Sogwa said to a Vegan who was sailing by. “I recognize his voice! I’ve heard it before! He’s - ” Sogwa stopped, gulped, and rushed ahead.  “- he sounds just like the Fearist! In the Fearsome Vision file!”
            The energy crystal from the blue star Vega halted. It rotated. Then it radioed, “Obviously you are a new arrival. Welcome to Hellen.”
            “Thank you, but how did you know?”
            The crystal radioed, “All of Hellen has been aware of that similarity, for quite awhile.”
            “But, but, but,” Sogwa sputtered,  “Gop says he’s fighting against Fearism! Say, where did he get that Fearsome Vision from, anyhow?”
            The Vegan radioed, “I do not know, for that information is classified. Many other people would like to know the answer to that question.” Then it sailed on.

            Being in such a big noisy busy crowd was like being a drop of water in the ocean. You felt like an insignificant part of a mighty power. It was the exact opposite of watching far-vision, which made Sogwa feel big, separate, alone, and helpless. There was something about the sound of Gop’s voice that made you want to either stop thinking or stop listening.

            On Channel One, Gop declared, “I say to the universe, either you are with us or you are with the Fearists. There is a war between good and evil, and I am not neutral in that struggle. I will stop at nothing to crush the foe. We will export death and destruction to the eight corners of the cosmos in defense of this great city; for we are not just fear fighters, we are freedom fighters.”

            Gop said, “Throughout universal history, would-be deities have always claimed that crime is justified to serve their grand vision — and they end up alienating decent beings across the cosmos. Would-be deities have always claimed that regimented worlds are strong and pure — until those worlds collapse in corruption and decay.”
            Gop said, “The long twilight struggle against self-oppression will not be easy, nor should it be. After all, ruling the universe would be a lot easier if it were a dictatorship, and I were its dictator. We have the inherent right to rule, but there is no royal road to global dominion. We, the self-chosen righteous, must compel the cosmos to be as good as we are. We must impose freedom and justice upon an ungrateful world, by force and fraud if necessary.”

            Sogwa’s attention wandered, so she looked around. There was some kind of a commotion happening around the central stage. Sogwa got close enough to the stage to see, and yes, there she was; Miss Liberty herself, doing the two things that she does best:
            Rabble-rousing, and organizing.

            Miss Liberty orated, “Beset by sin, fools seek virtue in theocracy; but sin is theocracy’s salvation! For behold; Gop decrees that only Gop shall rob; only Gop shall torture; only Gop shall kill; only Gop shall break the law; and that, says Gop, is the whole of the law; all the rest is commentary!”
             “But what is the Law? What is the real Law, the true Law; the Law that moves the sun and other stars? What is the Law that makes the world what it is? Not the liar’s Law, not the lawyer’s Law; not the Law that tries to justify itself; but the mathematics of being; mind’s physics and matter’s psychology. What is the Law that makes us who we are? Not the Law of cops and crooks, not the quarrel of twins, not the human fight, but the cosmic balance.”
             “For vengeance is not justice; war is not peace; slavery is not freedom; ignorance is not wisdom; and force is not law.”
             “The Law that must be enforced is not the true Law.”

            On stage with Miss Liberty was Gabriel. He wore dark shades, he played the saxophone, and man, I’m telling you, he rocked, he rolled, he wailed! He blew the blues, the true-blue blues; he was cool, he was hot, he was ‘round the lot. Gabriel belted out saxophone gospel.
            Then Gabriel put down his horn. He said, “Call for volunteers!”
             Miss Liberty cheered, “Celestial Revolution! The jig is up! Come and help the Overturn!”
            Gabriel said, “We need direct action agents! Non-violent, high-value, high-risk!”
            Miss Liberty said, “Who here is brave enough?”
            A  lava dragon from Io pushed through the crowd. He said, “I volunteer.” Others lined up to volunteer; three redwood trees, a swarm of bees, a robot, a sunspot, a whale, and a human.

            On Channel One, Gop was saying, “I hear the voices and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, I decide what is best, and what's best is for Torquemada to remain as Archangel of Defense. Press Secretary Goebbels will voluntarily resign in order to spend more time with his family. Nixon will volunteer to replace him. Benedict Arnold will no longer make policy decisions, and Vice-Divinity Satan will remain hidden in an undisclosed location.”
            Gop said, “I am pleased to announce the latest addition to our peace arsenal; the Mark 23 Hellbomb Bandolier, now operational. It will be a deterrent in the War on Fear. It will frighten the fear-mongers over there before they can frighten us here.”
            “Some of my critics have claimed that the hell-bomb might fall into the wrong hands. That is impossible. I know where it is.”

            Sogwa’s attention wandered again, so she looked around. Gabriel was wailing on his saxophone. Then he set it down and said, “Call for volunteers!”
            Miss Liberty cheered, “Celestial Revolution! Up shall fall down, here shall go there, now shall turn into then! Who here is quick enough?”
            Gabriel said, “We need time travelers! Everyone with skills involving black holes, four-dimensional shortcuts, quantum weirdness and other loopholes in the Law!”
            Mischief pushed his way through the crowd. He squeaked, “I volunteer.”
            Sogwa saw this and was thrilled. She saw other volunteers answer Gabriel’s call. There were a dozen dolphins, a hundred little green men, a billion bacteria, and a single electron. All of  them somehow knew how to get around Gop’s interdict on time travel.

            On Channel One, Gop was saying, “My job is to decide things, and I have decided that all you need is faith in me. Believe in me, and I will protect you. Your poverty will be wealth, your sickness will be health, and your troubles will be over. Believe in me, and everybody who ever annoyed you will regret it. Believe in me, then name it and claim it. Wishes shall be horses, money shall grow on trees, and the dead shall walk the earth. Believe in me, and I promise a New Order.”

            Miss Liberty yelled,  His new order? HA! I’d rather have the same old chaos!”
            She caroled:    “I once heard a butterfly shout
                                    while giddily flitting about
                                    ‘Of Chaos I sing!
                                    Each flap of my wing                                     
                                    Brings thunderstorm, rainbow, or drought!’ ”

            Gabriel preached, “Do not believe on the strength of traditions even if they have been held in honor for many generations and in many places; do not believe anything because many people speak of it; do not believe on the strength of the sagas of old times; do not believe that which you yourself have imagined that a god has inspired you. Believe nothing which depends only on the authority of your masters or your priests. After investigation, believe that which you yourself have tested and found reasonable, and which is for your own good and that of others.”
            Then he picked up his saxophone and blew the blues.

            On Channel One, Gop was saying, “I know that my War on Reality has its critics; but my War on Reality is the central front of the War on Fear. Reality has bossed us around long enough! Facts are stupid things, so we shall overcome them, by the Power of Pride. Conclusions first, reasons afterwards. Up is down because I say so!”
            “It’s true that you can’t fool all the people all the time, but you can fool some of the people all the time; and that is our base. So let us catapult the propaganda.”
            “We of the hypocrisy-based community offer perfect freedom from responsibility. Ours is the triumph of the whim. Under our care, consequence is reversed; the innocent are punished, the guilty are protected, the able are dismissed and the incompetent are rewarded. By the Power of Pride, true and false change places, whenever convenient. The hypocrisy-based community transcends veracity to attain impunity. O rapture!”

            Miss Liberty said, “Power of Pride? HA! Power corrupts and Pride is a sin! I’d rather have Freedom than Power, and I’d rather have Conscience than Pride! Freedom of Conscience is like Heaven; Power of Pride is like someplace else!”
            She said, “Once a poor but ambitious man prayed for wealth. Gop himself appeared, and offered him a million dollars in gold coins, right then and there, on one condition only; that two plus two equals five. The man agreed to this condition, thinking it meaningless; but he soon learned, too late, that if two plus two equals five, then a million dollars equals nothing!

            Gabriel trumpeted on his horn, and he said, “Call for volunteer!”
            Miss Liberty cheered, “Celestial Revolution! Up shall fall down, the weak shall beat the strong, the small shall rule the great! Who here is small enough?”
            Gabriel said, “We need a special messenger to send a special message!”
            Miss Liberty said, “They say the truth will set you free - but first drive you crazy. Well, have we got a truth for Gop!”
            Gabriel said, “Who here wants to break the news?”
            Miss Liberty said, “We need someone small, fast, smart and crazy brave, for a mission of poetic provocation! Are you unafraid of the Fearist? Come and diss him in his den!”
            Gabriel said, “Commit a Thought-Crime against Empire!”
            Miss Liberty said, “We need  the straw that breaks the camel's back! Who shall be the last cup of water needed to break the dam? We seek the last snowflake that makes the avalanche fall!”
            Gabriel said, “Who volunteers to speak truth to power?”
            Sogwa pushed forward through the crowd. She said, “I volunteer.”

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