The House That Jack Built: Chapter III (The Working, Through A Glass Shattered)

1946

Mirage a Trois

CAMERON

I suppose it’s only fair that I tell my story first. You figured this was no ordinary book already. Pulp science fiction alternate history, yes. Artistically minded metafiction with an occult subtext, yes. But you’re still giving names to things. Like BABALON.

Anyways, you don’t care about that. You don’t even know who Babalon is. That’s okay. I don’t either, yet. Mystery Babalon, mother of abominations, whore of all the Earth, Great Goddess of Love, Initiatrix, “did you fall from heaven, baby? Because you’re out of this world”…let’s see…bitch, slut, shallow airhead, artist, headcase, demoness, witch, sinner, ginger, deserter, soldier, dreamer, woman. Hill Leslie Cameron’s daughter, that hussy from the school dance, that loser who got so shellshocked from the Big One serving in the Joint Chiefs’ conference room in DC. Someone with potential, no matter how hard she has to fight to unlock it. Marjorie Cameron. All names. Some accurate, some not. I own the accurate ones. Point is, I’ve been called worse.

He doesn’t know “Cameron” yet. Name, rank and serial number, brother.

In any case, Jack met me in January 1946. I came here for family, ran into a colleague from Anacostia, at the Hollywood unit there. He said I had to meet this guy Jack…he was dreamy, artistic, powerful, my type entirely, he said. LIKE HELL.

He’s Satan in human form. He loves it. But that’s trifling, compared to the company he keeps. I walked into this communist hellhole (yes, I said hellhole. I’m not lying this time, OR crazy, dammit!), smelled…fluids everywhere, and only some of them were fermented. Then the incense hit me, the Prokofiev. I vaguely remembered having come here before…God. I must have been drunk then. Blanked it out. I’ve surely blanked out worse, but it still pisses me off.

In case you don’t get it yet…he and his redhead-loving pal want to manifest the “Force of Babalon”. To balance the male-dominated world that gave birth to Nazi Germany, to the Trinity bomb, to the United States of America as it stands today. This state of recently manifested world affairs they blame on Horus, the Egyptian God who’s been dead since I don’t know…Moses…while simultaneously exalting Horus as the embodiment of the New Aeon of Freedom. Oh, and they regularly attend a thing called the Gnostic Mass at the Church of Thelema, yet are ostensibly “metaphysical atheists” and “scientific illuminists”. Did I mention LA is literally Hell?

It all smacks of No Gods, No Masters to me. Kropotkin said that. Jack insists he’s not a Marxist, he’s an individualist…shut up already. Dammit. God…my head hurts. Pour me a drink. No, I know it doesn’t help most people’s headaches. I’m not most people. Haven’t you got that yet?

In any case, if these people sound confused, you should see the brotherly love this alpha Houdini and his frathouse paid-by-the-word buddy who thinks he’s an author have going. I won’t even give the other one a name…he’s too scummy to have one. This New Aeon shit looks like the same old same old, to me. The New Deal isn’t much better, but at least it’s conceptually coherent.

How are they going to accomplish their high-minded idealistic claptrap, you say? By combining three conflicting views and breaking the fourth wall. That’s why this chapter has this structure, and that’s why I get to talk first.

He’s a sex magician. He thinks I don’t know…he thinks I think those sweet nothings mean just that, and that mechanical bulls are not capable of leaving dents in the wall of sleep. He’s a goddamned idiot, and not a wonderful one. I’ve seen sicker-looking colors out of space in my sacred retreat on Grandma’s farm.

Why am I going along with that?” What the fuck kind of a stupid question is that?! I’m not going along with SHIT, cowboy. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about his scarlet whore crap. He’s not just a good lay, either. There’s potential there. He stands at the crossroads not only of America’s future after the war, but of time and space. I intend to make sure he gets there, once I’ve turned the tables on him. It’s…complex. So was everything I’ve ever done worth doing. It’s just not as maze-like as he makes it. Labyrinths only have one path, dumbass…and they have monsters in them. That’s actual complexity…that’s what your Law of Thelema means.

You’ll see, Jackie boy. By March, when your magick has run its course, you won’t recognize yourself. The fourth wall? I’m gonna explode that sucker. You won’t know what hit you.

Then the work begins. Cleaning up the pieces. With my help. Never summon up anything you can’t put down, scrub.

Sorry…where was I? I’ve been so crazy the last few days. “Crazy in bed”. I know. He tells me that all the time. In any case, you might have heard that the famous V-J Day kiss in the photo was actually against the lady’s wishes? That ain’t got nothing on what I have to put up with from entitled Messianic fools. Agape my ass.

Surf’s up, bitch-boy. A tsunami from the South Pacific is about to swallow Pasadena. Ride the WAVE.

JACK (FRATER 210)

…she didn’t call me “motherfucker”? Okay then. But I mean…it’s not like she gets the thing I’m actually trying to do here. That is, I hight Don Quixote, do all the drugs, ride the dragon, get drunk and fuck…you’ve read the poem I wrote in 1943. God, I was a little shit then. Still am, objectively. I know that good and goddamn all too well, thanks. This operation is one of two things: either a) a resolution of the contradictions inherent in American society now that the dust from the Big One has settled, and a path forward…contradictions I embody, as a microcosm of everything good, bad, strange, weird, and wonderful about my country…or b) a complete and utter dissolution of the entity known as Marvel “Jack” Whiteside Parsons, aka Frater 210, the Antichrist born on the day Watchtower Magazine insisted the end would come…and in the bargain, the dissolution of the screwy macrocosm I embody, and its holy potential with it. Which would suck, but the choice is not in my hands. Basically, it’s the windmill to end all windmills. And I intend to tilt that bad boy, either way. Or both. Who knows? Not me.

Yeah. I’m the Antichrist, rocket-fueled and skyward soaring. An alien out of place, out of time. A pulp magazine published by a fringe apocalyptic cult predicted my birth. Don’t you think I fucking know that? You’re all a lot like her, probably. Aware of your own shadow, yet (no…let’s be honest with each other. It’s because of that) convicted of your own conventionality. Normal, principled, harboring quiet doubts about the existence of God and the goodness (even the existence, if you’re smart) of the United States of America. Pledging allegiance to the flag, and coincidentally to the Republic Pictures serials in which Captain America punches Hitler, and only tangentially to the Republic for which those things only stand.

Be not contented with the image. I who am the image of an image say this. Debate not of the image, saying Beyond! Beyond!” That’s from Liber LXV. It’s a document Crowley wrote (received, if you wish – makes no difference) to explain what we call the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel…the assumption of true form that precedes the doing of True Will. I’ve learned some things…one of them is that Crowley might have been a product of his culture, but had some things to say. So do I, and that quote could describe me better than my birth certificate.

Basically, I’m calling his bluff. Our bluff as a planet. My bluff as a man standing before his mirror to shave, in the magick circle before his God. I’m a cultural illusion, in an era when everything else is too. This story is an illusion.

Babalon is just a name we give to that force which is the chalice, the silence of deep space…and also the cold. In this destroying vacuum (tight as one of Forman’s O-rings), the stars are lit. Any engine worth anything will need to be able to restart in orbit, in extreme temperatures and vacuum and God knows what kind of radiation. It’s a goal to shoot for, and I’m starting now. Pouring my blood into her cup even as I convince Cameron (gently, but not politely, I admit) to be something she very much already is.

Cameron, though she might not see it yet (she’s psychotic and mad at the world right now, but knows I’m its avatar), has her own misconceptions of things, and of me. She knows she’s crazy, and also that she’s Really Truly Realer Than Real. She thinks these things aren’t actually obvious to me? Ha ha. Sure.

I am nothing if not a judge of the right explosive for the right job. That’s why I picked her. Frater X had little to do with it…a Raggedy Ann doll would suit him, as far as redheads and sex go. Sometimes your guardian spirit is just your head telling you tales, bro. Don’t think I don’t know the difference.

Smith and Crowley…hell, even Jane Wolfe…would be insane with rage if they heard I had brought Frater X up to speed on the Eighth Degree methods of magick without initiating him. What…you think I’m gonna hand him nitroglycerine and say “if you don’t drop that, it can kickstart your heart”? Drop the soap, kid…see if I care. I’m about to unleash either salvation or destruction for the entire WORLD – Zero or Two. Only one way to the Stars…and my skin is in the game so deep it hurts. You think I’m not careful? Please. I’m also a calculating asshole sometimes. But that’s beside the point.

Either no one here gets out alive or we all do. I just hope Cameron can teach me how to make the explosion I’m about to cause worth it. Because there is a chance that it might be Darker Than I Think.

So help me God…here goes absolutely nothin’.

FRATER X

ROCKET TO HELL

a plan 93 films production

executive producer

Roger Corman

creative consultant

Ed Wood

based on a treatment by

Anthony Boucher

screenplay by

D Vance Wimpole

directed by the maestro himself

Kenneth Anger

starring

Jack Parsons

as a character based loosely on his true self

Marjorie Cameron

as herself

and as CAMERON

Frater X

as NARRATOR

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

The typewriter, which has been typing the same thing eleven times of its own ghostly, perhaps demonic accord, with no one sitting before it, but the lurid voice of the silence – a paradox of signal that is also noise that is also dead air – emanating from within it, stops moving, mercifully, blessedly. The room in which the typewriter sits, next to a stained yellow mattress on the floor, is garishly lit, decadently decorated with occult art and softcore pornography, painted with way too much attention using the finest oils. Over all is the scent of rose petals, and a slight electricity fills the air. Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto plays on the hi-fi.

NARRATOR: Welcome to the greatest show on Earth. They say a sucker’s born every minute…that’s what circuses are for. Like Southern California, 1946. Three rings. Agape Lodge, the Manana Literary Society, and the burgeoning aerospace industry. Here I stand, Ringmaster, with the bearded fucking lady (god, what a cunt…why does she think she’s so attracted to a dick?) and the lion tamer (lookit me putting my head in this chick’s mouth! What a dick. Why does he…but you get the idea.)

Reels from the 1946 Merrie Melodies cartoon “Hair-Raising Hare” play, then cut to a psychedelic film depicting a live performance of Break On Through by the Doors. From a loudspeaker outside the room, possibly the building, radio transmissions are heard which seem to be Air Force pilots describing an aerial view of the Moon, sometime in 1964.

NARRATOR: There’s only one voice here. Ignore those glimpses of the future. I have no identity – Jack’s a fool thinking he can escape the Law by owning that he is an illusion and making himself Real with Love. He’s read too many goddamn books, all of them aimed at kids. Don’t you think I know that, of all people? I am an illusion, an ego, an ectoplasmic abortion, and I am PROUD of it. I have to be. I am the hope this cursed age waits for. My service record is proof. My role as scribe is proof. My novels are proof…no one ever asked me to change a word of them, and my paychecks prove that. Leah Hirsig thought she was the Ape of Thoth, back in Cefalu, Italy at Crowley’s Abbey of Thelema (lookit me! Like Church, but EEEEEEEEEVIL!) before the War…but she fucked that goat earnestly. With her whole heart. A dead God of Agape Love might have rewarded her for that. But the word of the Law is “fuck you, pay me”.

The room darkens. Only an unearthly hum is heard…high-pitched, machine-like. Outside the window, a ghostly green orb floats by. It is not Venus.

NARRATOR: I know I’m beginning to annoy you. I also don’t care. My perspective is grounded. It has no dreams, no love, no care in this world or any other but itself. That doesn’t make me the bad guy…you’ve read Job, haven’t you? Or were you expecting the science fiction writer to tell you a story that makes you feel things? That’s Heinie’s job. His service record is fake, in my Cathedral of lies. Here Below…it’s actually Hell, not Earth. Did you know that? THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU. What the fuck did you THINK that meant?

Stock footage from a third-grade anatomy film, made sometime in the 1950s, plays, showing blood rushing between the heart and the brain in gory, factual detail. followed by the old classic, Duck and Cover. Behind all this is a weird electronic beat, one-third theremin, one-third field recording from the Peenemunde rocket base in Nazi Europe, one-third synthesized pulsating beat.

NARRATOR: I am, like it or not, the objective voice of reason. The adversary in the Court of the Most High. Many on this cursed darkling plain agree with my worldview, and my analysis. Which path will you choose? Sensible, practical, budget-conscious, science-based? Or foolhardy pipe dream constructed by an occultist who squandered CalTech’s money trying to emulate better men, who can’t even hold down a job?

The room fades entirely to black, then a snowy TV-like picture. Over the static, Marjorie Cameron can be heard in a recorded 1973 spoken-word performance of the Robert Browning poem “Child Rolande to the Dark Tower Came.”

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3 thoughts on “The House That Jack Built: Chapter III (The Working, Through A Glass Shattered)

  1. Yes I like it but this has always struck me as being unfocused and disjointed. I am not sure it contributes much to the plot line. It does serve to highlight the eccentricity of the main characters. Goodness knows those three are difficult to delineate. But this is one chapter that could be cut without loss. Fun to read tho it does catch the attitudes and outlooks well.

    Like

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