Copyright 1997 Pearl Publishing
Bubba Rom Dos and the Cowboy sat silently staring at one another across the antique oak table which increasingly served as a reminder that their present was also a part of a long distant past.
A past which wouldn't go away
"Good morning, gentlemen." d'Shauneaux tipped
his hat to the somber pair of time-worn miscreants.
"Ladies " he said, turning to the sleeping figures on the cots at the back of the room, while giving himself a hitch in the crotch.
Cowboy and Bubba broke into wide grins, for the first time in quite a while. Cowboy nudged Rom Dos and stage-whispered, "It looks like our 'other brother, Bubba' is going to die a slow and horrible death at the hands of the Feminazis."
"Those who do learn from the past, are happy to repeat it!" came the voice of the 'sleeping' Priscilla.
"Put it back in your pants, Bubba #3." came the voice of the 'sleeping' Alexis.
d'Shauneaux looked confused.
"Who is Bubba #2?"
Bubba Rom Dos rose to his feet and winked at d'Shauneaux while
giving himself a hitch in the crotch. He returned to his chair
amidst a roar of laughter from the maddening crowd of Mythical
Remnants, as they had dubbed themselves after the experiences
of the last few days.
Alexis smiled at having used this shared joke from her and 'Uncle Bubba's' sordid past to set up d'Shauneaux for the punch line. Priscilla just shook her head in disgust at this reminder of what she had subjected her poor young daughter to in the days of her youth.
After the morning hugs and the morning toasts had been taken care
of, the group got down to the business of waiting silently for
one or another of them to find some slim ray of hope to offer
to the others concerning their rapidly deteriorating situation.
"What the hell happened to InfoWar?" d'Shauneaux
said, out of the blue.
The others looked at him as if that was exactly what they had expected him to say.
"Damned if I can figure it out." the Cowboy shook his head, looking bewildered.
"It died before it was born, from what I understand." Priscilla seemed equally mystified.
"It was strange." Alexis commented. "It
appeared in the shadow of the InterNet, becoming a looming figure
of the future when the 'Information Highway' took hold, but after
the opening salvo was fired on the CypherPunks list, it just quietly
"As if it had never begun." she added.
Everyone turned toward Bubba, awaiting his contribution to the discussion, but he sat there staring at each of them in turn, and all of them at once, with a puzzled look on his face. It wasn't a 'good' look, it wasn't a 'bad' look, it was
"Distributed Mind!" Bubba suddenly intoned in a whispered shout.
The others stared at him, dumbfounded, but unsure as to why, or about what.
"Distributed List!" the Cowboy slapped his forehead.
"Distributed Persona!" Alexis said, as if waking from a dream.
d'Shauneaux rose from his chair with a look of divine revelation
on his face, as if blessed with a vision from the heavens. He
held his hand out above his head as if calling for complete silence
while he drank in the last sips of the spiritual liquor from above.
Finally, he spoke, while grabbing his crotch, once again,
"Distribute this!" he shouted, causing
everyone in the room to burst into a fit of laughter that seemed
like it would never subside.
"So what, exactly, are we talking about, here?" d'Shauneaux
asked when the laughter had finally ceased.
"I'm getting the distinct impression that all of you are finishing a conversation that you never started. Not that I understand what I just said, you understand."
"Exactly!" Bubba broke in, as if d'Shauneaux
had just cleared up an important question that hadn't yet been
"Multi-user persona. Distributed list.
"Distributed, multi-user persona."
"Distributed Mind!" Bubba shouted for real, this time.
The small collection of practical mystics looked at one another in awe of what they seemed to be realizing, as if of one mind
The Cowboy was the first to say what all of them now knew.
"InfoWar was never fought, because by the time it began, it was already won!"
? the Lunatic sat on the futon, sipping Jim Beam and speaking
softly to Baby as he scratched her behind the ears.
Although he knew he was as crazy as he had ever been, it was an experience which he could only describe as 'Stone-Cold Crazy.'
"Stone-Cold Crazy, Baby." he told her, sure that she understood.
He continued talking to her, not to imbue the moment with great meaning, but seeming to need to burn off an excess of random thoughts that were sweeping rapidly through his mind, all interconnected but needing to find release if they were ever to be slowed down and sorted out in the realm of reality.
"If it wasn't for the word, 'Baby', there wouldn't be
no Rock & Roll!"
It was as good a place as any, to start. The hallowed words of Gomez, himself.
"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."
The final words of the Author in "The Xenix Chainsaw Massacre."
? the Lunatic spoke quietly, but rapidly, pouring forth a liturgy of quotes and thoughts, wavering back and forth between rationality and dementia.
"Patience comes to those who wait. If you don't leave me alone, I'll find someone who will. Will I still respect you in the morning? Hell, I don't respect you now! Who put the Ram in the Rama-Rama Ding-Dong? My madness takes it's ground-round, 59 cents a pound. SPACE ALIENS HIDE MY DRUGS!"
What was he looking for? It was on the tip of his tongue. It was
everywhere and nowhere. It was in the midst of his sanity and
at the depths of his madness.
"TV is REAL!" the voice came loud and clear, stretching from the distant past to the equally distant future.
"TV is REAL. TV is REAL. TV is REAL!" he repeated over and over, knowing that if he could just focus on what meaning it held what meaning it held
"InfoWar!" thought ? the Lunatic, suddenly remembering
"What the hell happened to InfoWar?"
"TV is REAL!" he said, not daring to believe
what he heard in his inner mind as the words were spoken.
"InfoWar was over before it began "
"It was over before it began." he repeated.
Suddenly, everything was crystal clear.
The tattered remnants of the Magic Circle were having the time of their lives. While their world was fast falling apart, both in the present and in the past, they were celebrating life in both milieu at once.
"George Goebels." Cowboy said. "He was a riot!"
"And 'I Love Lucy' wasn't?" Priscilla gave him a doubtful look.
"Paul Neuman." d'Shauneaux said. "He knew the 'rules' of war!" He feinted a kick to the Cowboy's groin.
"Bianca and Blanc!" said Alexis, acting coy.
"They weren't in any of the movies we watched." Cowboy gave Alexis a stern stare for stepping out of line with the rest of the group's conversation.
"That's right, Alexis." Bubba joined in, wagging two fingers at her menacingly before turning to stick them into the Cowboy's eyes, slapping d'Shauneaux across the face, and then banging the two men's heads together.
"The Three Stooges!" Jonathan called out, throwing
everyone into fits of laughter as they recognized Bubba's excellent
parody of the trio who had won the comedic hearts of boys and
men throughout history, while leaving the girls and women scratching
Bubba passed around a bottle of his 'Special Reserve' Jack Daniel's
and the Cowboy started a bottle of Jim Beam moving in the opposite
"To Bogie and Bacall." Bubba said, raising his glass in toast, and the others nodded their agreement with his astute judgment in settling the battle of the sexes amicably.
Once they were done reveling in the mountains of pleasant memories
which would now be permanently etched in their minds from their
marathon video cruise through the past, they turned to the more
serious business of discussing the dark side of the technology
they had been studying nonstop, day and night, for several days.
"McLuhan nailed it." Alexis was the first to speak. "The medium is the message."
"It has been true since the dawn of time, and will remain
true until the sun sets on this mortal stage within which we make
our exits and our entrances." Bubba said, solemnly, looking
as serious as he ever had since the gathered group had known him.
"McLuhan was a compatriot of Bubba Rom Dos I." Bubba continued, with a tone of respect in his voice that those assembled had rarely heard. "It is no surprise that the Author understood the future of mankind, for better or worse, lay within the breast of the InterNet, long before it became the common view. He knew that man and machine, mind and data, would finally be irretrievably wed in the march toward the future.
"And he saw the specter of the Evil One's hand casting its shadow over the InterNet, even in the days when the handful of others who knew of its existence were looking to it as the coming Savior of mankind."
"Kill!" commanded the grizzled old guru, and the IntelliVoice Matrix scanned their recent conversation, bring up to the GraphiScreen the relevant passages from "The Xenix Chainsaw Massacre."
Gomez had seen the media bringing the far-flung reaches of the world and its people closer and closer together with each new technological development. Prehistoric man lived and died, for the most part, within a matter of miles from the place of his birth. With the invention of the wheel he began to travel a little further into new and foreign lands. In the days of sailing ships it took man the better part of his lifetime to cross the oceans, navigate the world, and return home. Then came faster ships, then airplanes and jets.
Communications technology made the world smaller, but only at the limits of its current level of development. Mail brought news over a period of years, then months, then weeks and days. Newspapers brought news of the outside world to the average citizen. Then suddenly, with the advent of the telegraph, the wireless, radio and television, the world became an extension of ourselves-and we became an extension of the world.
Now, when it happens in Paris, in Vietnam, in Russia, it happens here-in our living room-nightly. Fashion trends, opinions, world views-these are no longer our own private enclaves of individuality. What we do, and espouse, belongs to the world, and what they adopt and embrace belongs to us. All of mankind now shares, in an interactive experience, the reverberation of all that we do, individually and collectively,-spanning the oceans and continents until it has finally become a truism that, "no man is an island."
The clan of true believers sat with their heads bowed, almost
weeping with the force of emotion that descended slowly upon them
as their minds retraced the trail of history they had followed
from the Author's era to their own. Knowing, all the time, the
end that would come unexpectedly on the unsuspecting souls who
thought that Technology was going to be a kind God, and
a good Master.
"How was it that the Author saw what nobody else at the time seemed to notice?" Alexis asked Bubba. "How did he manage to foresee so clearly the Dark Path that lay ahead for a technology that was still in its infancy?"
Bubba smiled, feeling in his element, in control, once again.
He was, after all, a teacher of metaphysics, first and foremost,
no matter what his outwardly outrageous personal predilections.
"The Author saw no more than those with eyes to see have seen from the beginning of time. The difference was that he recorded what he saw, and he followed its trail into the future by bearing in mind the past."
"Brave New World." Jonathan said. "Animal
Farm. Catch-22. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Them. Invasion
of the Body Snatchers. Night of the Living Dead."
Jonathan knew these titles by heart, from the books in his Grandfather's study.
Each member of the Magic Circle broke into a wry grin, as if from a single pair of lips. Yes, Bubba was right. There were those who saw, and those who spoke of the world that lay beyond the veil of mechanical consciousness, throughout the annals of time.
"The Author was not alone in his vision, he merely recorded it at a time and place in history where his words would prove conspicuously prophetic because society and technology were moving at such a rapid pace that tomorrow's seeds were blooming today, but nobody was stopping to smell the flowers." Bubba pointed out.
"Or the stench!" the Cowboy added.
The Cowboy sprang from the lineage of the Author, and he understood very well the nature of the startling prophecies he made which so astounded those who read his manuscript with the benefit of the hindsight provided by the march of history.
They continued reading the excerpt from the "TXCSM" manuscript:
We now live in an age where, in between the slumber of the soap operas and the bewitchment of 'prime time,' we are fed our opinions and world-views in catch-phrases and ten second sound-bytes.
At the same time, Gomez sees to it that there is enough trouble and turmoil in the world that the World Leaders, even in democracies, can chip away at human and individual rights under the guise of dealing with various 'threats' that they, themselves, have concocted as a means of retaining power over the masses.
Even as the governments of the world strive to bring everyone and everything, however minute, under tight control and regulation, Gomez and the Dark Allies are behind the scenes, helping to guide the development of a technology that will, along with television, be the ultimate weapon in their struggle for the domination of all mankind-the Computer.
Priscilla was the first to mention what they were all thinking,
"It's almost like reading the Cypherpunks list."
"It predated the CypherPunks list," the Cowboy
noted, "but it didn't predate the CypherPunks. They, like
the Magic Circle, have existed from the beginning of time.
He looked at Jonathan to explain further.
"If the Cypherpunks had never existed, then history itself
would have had to turn back on itself and invent them before moving
Jonathan watched the smiles of his dearest friends as they saw the love with which he spoke of those who had helped shape his childhood. It was the same love that they had all experienced in the bond they felt within the Magic Circle.
"The Cypherpunks mailing list gave hope and sustenance to the Circle of Eunuchs initiates who happened across its path. Since the original meeting where the Magic Circle had been formed, they had been forced to work alone, in secret, never knowing if their efforts would ever make a difference in the larger scheme of things."
They returned to the excerpts:
The rich and powerful have managed to lull us to sleep with the hypnotizing power of television-stealing our thoughts and our reasoning processes in our slumber, feeding us our reality via the airwaves according to the 'official' party line.
The government and the media have placed us on neat little shelves where we are numbered and labeled according to their own wants and needs. We are allowed the illusion of freedom of thought, and individual choice, as long as we have our 'Freedom of Thought Permit 1136.51-709' and don't stray too far from the permitted paths.
Jonathan told the assembly, "The Cypherpunks, more than anyone in their era, understood that."
"And the Circle of Eunuchs understood that
Bubba pointed to the words only now beginning to take shape
on the screen he had opened.
In the great battles of the past the Dark Forces have always been beaten by the individuals scattered in the secret places, living unnoticed in obscurity. Living quietly and unobtrusively, forgotten about in the madness storming the land, they have kept alive the spark of Thought and Reason. They were able to go quietly about their work, making contact with the individuals who were ready to escape the madness and work towards restoring Sanity in the land.
The Cowboy stood up and made a sweeping gesture toward the screen, as it filled anew, saying, "And both organizations contained a variety of individuals who, despite the fact that the minds of almost all of society around them was caught in the grip of the Evil One's mind-numbing vortex, rose above the automatism of their age to do what they could to warn their fellow citizens of the following "
All eyes turned toward the screen, to read:
This time there will be no escape. Every man, woman and child on the face of the earth will have a dossier documenting their life from the time of their arrival on the face of the planet. Information gleaned from the Department of Motor Vehicles, their Social Security Number, banks, credit cards, magazine subscriptions, charitable and political contributions.
When Gomez removes the masks of his human allies, revealing them as dark agents who have been rewarded with wealth and power for doing the bidding of the Evil One, the names of the misfits and wrong-thinkers will be spit out of the computers at the speed of light-to be rounded up and disposed of in the opening salvo of the new Holocaust.
Only then will the final Battle of Armageddon begin, ravaging the face of the earth and devouring humanity; bringing total control of humankind under the Dominion of the Evil One, with nobody but the Waking Dead left to carry on the human race.
The group sat quietly, in solemn honor of those throughout history
who had held closely to the small, quiet spark of the Tao, the
human spirit, the Creator, or whatever they envisioned when Eternity
whispered to their souls.
Slowly, they began to stir, and rose to silently stretch before
returning once again to the great oak table to continue their
quest for understanding as to how and why they must find some
way to make their reach into the past result in a slight shift
in the course of history
a shift that could move mountains
in the CypherPunks' future
and in the Magic Circle's present.
? the Lunatic turned the page on a manuscript that had just been set down a century in the future. He knew what the Magic Circle of that era knew, and he knew what they needed to know to bring their desperate gamble to a successful conclusion.
Gomez and the Dark Allies began their two-pronged attack on mankind through the Wonderful World of Television. They had seen the hypnotizing power of television, how it made us 'comfortably numb,' how it shaped our world-views, our opinions, and our reality eventually becoming our reality.
Zappa tried to warn us.
"Watch me and I'll bleed you, 'cause you eat the shit I feed you."
Fogherty just gave in, and accepted it.
"I know it's true. Oh, so true. I saw it on TV."
InfoWar was over before it even began.
After reading this passage, for the umpteenth time, ? the Lunatic finally understood, with the help of those who had seen, and been, the living proof of both this passage and another one which had leapt to his mind to start him on his current train of thought.
"TV is REAL."
A bumper sticker that the Circle of Eunuchs had promulgated during the life of the Author, knowing that not one person in ten thousand would understand what it truly portended for their future.
"Real TV, Baby."
? the Lunatic petted her lovingly, as she licked his arm in return.
"Video_World, and TV_World. Those were the titles we had
put to Part II of 'The True Story of the InterNet.' But that was
before the censorship crisis on the CypherPunks mailing list,
when we saw the sticky, tangled tentacles that lay at the root
of the World Wide Web.
"And before Gomez began to build his Evil Empire on the cornerstone of WebTV."
Baby looked up at ? the Lunatic as if wishing she understood human speech. She laid her head down on his leg and drifted off to sleep as he continued to talk to her, certain that, at some level, she understood what he had to say.
"I saw it coming from a long way off, Baby. I thought
about it, wrote about it, and I even told others about it
he could hardly believe what he was about to say,
ever really, fully, believing it myself."
"I thought everybody saw." he told her, massaging her spine as she slept. "I thought people understood."
"I thought they were like me." ? the Lunatic continued, shaking his head in sadness. "I thought that they saw, and understood, and were only putting aside their knowledge until it began to matter enough that they must turn back, and return to sanity, to reality "
? the Lunatic sat in quiet meditation, searching his body, mind and soul for the words he could speak which would, once and for all, make what he had always known, become real. Real forever, never again to be forgotten in the madness that ruled the land.
"TV is REAL!"
? the Lunatic had said it himself, long before Gomez had spoken those prophetic words.
Long before it had quickly begun becoming a truism, with video recorders capturing every aspect of life, and beginning to define life, itself. Before 'The World's Funniest Home Videos' before 'Cops' before the O.J. trial before 'Real TV.'
He had said it before Gomez, and he had said it better. And it lay somewhere in the tattered ruins of his mind calling him back to reality.
"All my lies are true."
He remembered! A two line poem by Carroll, the muse within.
"And everything I do, I really am."
When the bodies began dropping on TV, they dropped at our front
door. But the bodies on TV got up and went home at the end of
the day, to their family and friends, and they came back to do
it all again tomorrow.
The bodies at our front door did not.
We watched 'other people' march for freedom. We watched 'other
people' hate them. We watched 'other people' kill for freedom.
We watched 'other people' die at their hands.
Then suddenly, without warning, it became us that we were watching.
"Vietnam, Baby." ? the Lunatic told her, as he
watched her sleep peacefully, in a world that was safe and secure.
"It wasn't them we were watching anymore, it was us. It was our fathers and sons, our brothers and friends, our neighbors and those who lived on the other side of our town. It was us who lay dying on a foreign shore. It was our blood seeping into foreign soil.
"It was our blood being shed at Kent state, and us being gassed and beaten at the Chicago Democratic Convention."
" he said, shaking his head, wondering
where the years had gone since Charles Whitman had climbed to
the top of the University of Texas campus tower and started blowing
away total strangers
the inhuman ants who lay far, far below
"A silicon chip slipped inside his head." ? the Lunatic had sung those words with Kinky Friedman, at the 'Charles Whitman Memorial Reunion' gig in Austin.
It was a shock to the whole nation. The televised 'event' had
somehow changed something sacred.
It meant that it was no longer safe to [Bang!] walk down the street; to [Bang!] step out of a campus building, laughing with a friend; to [Bang!] unload your musical equipment to set up for your gig at the Hole In The Wall bar across from campus; to [Bang!] sit at home, safely, watching television and not see people just like you, doing what you do every day, fall victim to the random violence of a crazed stranger.
And O.J. brought it home, from far, far away, to our own doorstep,
where the bodies of those killed on the television dramas and
movies lay dead, still.
But now the victims weren't dead. Nicole was screaming outside our door, her throat slashed as she struggled with a determined attacker. She lay bleeding on our walkway as a stranger, our son, came to her defense, only to meet a savage and horrible death for trying to save our wife, our mother, our daughter.
We were concerned when we watched the death of our heroes, as they fell to crippling diseases from living lifestyles similar to our own; as they fell from the pedestals upon which we worshipped them when they proved themselves to be mere mortals, like us.
And now they were murdering us, our families, and our children. And they showed no remorse
"I might have been able to forget," ? the Lunatic
told Baby, as she looked up at him sleepily, nuzzling her head
into the warm safety of his crossed legs, "if it hadn't
been for the CypherPunks."
"They just can't leave it alone. They won't lay down and die, like any sane and normal person with half a brain."
It's not that the CypherPunks were all cynical
just for the sake of being contrary. There were no shortage of
list members who could pull off that act, without acting, from
time to time, but many of them were actively working toward
something. A goal, edification, erudition, a project, a point
But the crap just kept coming. The Privacy Thieves only wanted ElectoAustria. Then they wanted ElectroPoland. Then they came to our town, and they said they just wanted to protect us, but they needed to take our guns, to keep us safe. They needed to listen to our phones to make certain that they could protect us from unknown evils. They needed a key to our door, so that they could save us, in an emergency even if it meant saving us from ourselves.
And they needed access to our letters, our conversations, our words, our whispers, our thoughts and our minds
Baby leapt to her feet as ? the Lunatic shouted so loudly that
the walls shook, and the windows rattled.
She began barking, in support. Jumping up and pawing his legs, trying to say something, he was certain of it. She leapt time and time again, begging him to understand begging him to have 'ears to hear.'
"Nuke Ottawa, too!" he shouted, and Baby jumped up in his arms, and began to lick his face. What a dog what a wonderful fucking dog!
"I should have named you 'Killer.'" he said, as he gave her a bone.