A Stranger in a Strange Land

LOVE, BEAUTY, AND SEX:

* I'll give you an exact defintion. 'Love' is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

* Jubal did and assured her that she was the most beautiful girl in the world, then assured Fatima of the same thing. He was sincere each time and the girls believed him- Jubal had said the same thing on countless occasions starting with the Harding administration, had always meant it, and had always been believed.

* Jealosy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealosy- in fact they're almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for another. Both at once can produce unbearable turmoil.

* The joining of bodies with the merging of souls in shared ecstacy, giving, recieving, delighting in each other...the source, I grok in fullness, of all that makes this planet rich and wonderful. And until a person, man or woman, has enjoyed this treasure bathed in the mutal bliss of minds linked as closely as bodies, that person is still as virginal and alone as if he had never copulated.

* I am physically unable even to attempt love with a female who has not shared water with me...psychic impotence- unless spirits blend as flesh blends.

WISDOM:

* A desire not to butt into other people's business is eighty percent of all human wisdom.

Age does not bring wisdom, but it does give perspective...and the saddest sight of all is to see, far behind you, temptations you've resisted.

He had the arrogant humility of a man who has learned so much that he is aware of his own ignorance.

Geniuses are justifiably contemptuous of lesser opinion and are always indifferent to sexual customs of the tribe; they make their own rules.

* You go in a man's house, you accept his household rules. That's the universal rule of civilized behavior.

LAUGHTER:

* I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts...because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting.

I had thought- I had been told- that a 'funny' thing is a thing of goodness. It isn't. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to... The goodness is in the laughing. I grok it is bravery...and a sharing...against pain and sorrow and defeat.

Find me something that makes you laugh...a joke anything- but something that gave you a belly laugh, not a smile. Then we'll see if there isn't a wrongness somewhere and whether you would laugh if the wrongness wasn't there. I grok when apes learn to laugh, they'll be people.

' Death isn't funny.' Then why are there so many jokes about death?...with us- us humans- death is so sad that we must laugh at it. All those religions- they contradict each other one every other point, but each one is filled with ways to help people be brave enough to laugh even though they knew they were dying.

FAITH AND RELIGION:

Bits that grok true, but never a pattern- or if there is, they ask you to take the hard part on faith. Faith! What a dirty monosyllable- Jill, why didn't you mention that one when you were teaching me the short words that mustn't be used in polite company?

I've never understood how God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion by faith- it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe.

The only way that religion's precepts can be reconciled with the interrelations of what purports to be a monotheos is by concluding that breeding rules for deity are not the rules for mortals. But most people never think about it; they seal it off and mark it: 'Holy- Do Not Disturb'.

Man is so built that he cannot imagine his own death. This leads to endless invention of religions. While this cinviction by no means proves immortality to be a fact, questions generated by it are overwhelmingly important. The nature of life, how ego hooks into the body, the problem of ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe- these are paramount questions, they can never be trivial. Science hasn't solved them- and who am I to sneer at religions for trying, no matter how unconvincingly to me?

Churches thrive on martyrdom and persecution; it's their best advertising.

Religion is a solace to many and it is conceivable that some religion, somewhere, is Ultimate Truth. But being religious is often a form of conceit. The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was 'saved'; they were 'damned'- we were in a state of grace and the rest were 'heathens'. By 'heathen' they meant such as our brother Mahmoud. Ignorant louts who sledom bathed and planted corn by the Moon claimed to know the final answers of the Universe. That entitled them to look down on outsiders. Our hyms were loaded with arrogance- self-congratulations on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, what hell everybody elase would catch some Judgment Day.

A confidence man knows he is lying; that limits his scope. But a successful shaman believes what he says- and belief is contagious; there is no limit to his scope. But I lacked the necessary confidence in my own infallability; I could never become a prophet...just a critic- a sort of fourth-rate prophet with delusions of gender.

"Could it be that everyone of all religions are true?" "Huh? How could that be? Mike, if one is true the others are wrong." "So? Point to the shortest direction around the universe. It doesn't matter where you point, it's the shortest...and you're pointing back at yourself." "Well, what does that prove? You taught me the true answer, Mike. Thou art God." "And thou art God, my lovely. But that prime fact which doesn't on faith may mean that all faiths are true."

All any philosopher ever comes out with is what he walked in with- except the self-deluders who prove their assumptions by their conclusions.

CUSTOMS AND MORALS:

Customs, morals- is there a difference? Woman, here, by the grace of God and an inside straight, we have a personality untouched by ther psychotic taboos of our tribe- and you want to turn him into a copy of every fourth-rate conformist in this frightened land! Why not go whole hog? Get him a briefcase.

The second point is you are right; Mike must learn human cutsoms. He must take off his shoes in a mosque, wear his hat in a synagogue, and cover his nakedness when taboo requires, or our shamans will burn him for deviationism. But, child, by the myriad aspects of Ahriman, don't brainwash him. Make sure he is cynical about it.

Solipsism and pantheism. Together they explain anything. Cancel out any inconvenient fact, reconcile all theories, include any facts or delusions you like. But it's cotten candy, al taste and no substance- as unsatisfactory as solving a story by saying: - "then the little boy fell out of bed and woke up."

The capacity of humans to believe in what seems to me highly improbable- from table-tapping to the superiority of their children- has never been plumbed.

With a touch more confidence and a liberal helping of ignorance I would have been a famous evangelist.

"God damn it- let's stop this taking of the Name of the Lord in vain!"

GOVERNMENT

Government! Three-fourths parasitic and the rest stupid fumbling- oh, Harshaw conceded that man, a social animal, could not avoid government, any more than an individual could escape bondage to his bowels. But simply because an evil was inescapable was no reason to term it 'good'. He wished government would wonder off and get lost.

Democracy is a poor system; the only thing that can be said for it is that it's eight times as good as any other method. It's worst fault is that it's leaders reflect their constituents- a low level, but what can you expect.

Harshaw held that certain feet were made for stepping on, in order to improve the breed, promote the general welfare, and minmize the ancient insolence of office.

He had more than his share of that streak of anarchy which is the birthright of every American.

GROKKING AND WATER-SHARING:

'Grok' means 'identically equal'...that observer interacts with observed through the process of observation. 'Grok' means to undertand so thoroughly that the observer becomes part of the observed- to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything we mean by religion, philosophy, and science- and it means as little to us as color means to a blind man. If I chopped you up and made a stew, you and the stew, whatever was in it, would grok- and when I ate you, we would grok together and nothing would be lost and it would not matter which one of us did the eating!

If I had mentioned a hundred other English words, words which we think of as different concept, even antithetical concepts. 'Grok' means all of these. It means 'fear', it means 'love', it means 'hate'- proper hate, for by the Martian 'map' you cannot hate anything unless you grok it, undertand it so thoroughly that you merge with it and it merges with you- then can you hate. By hating yourself. But this implies that you love it, too, and cherish it and would not have it otherwise. Then you can hate- and (I think) Martian hate is an emotion so black that the nearest human equivalent could only be called mild distaste.

He found butterflies and women tremendously interesting- all the grokking world was enchanting and he wanted to drink so deep that his own grokking would be perfect.

You don't grok a desert by counting its grains of sand.

Shape is not man. Man is grokking.

Thou art God and I am God and all that groks os God, and I am all that I have ever been or seen or felt or experienced. I am all that I grok.

"Thou art God," Mike repeated serenly. "That which groks. Anne is God. I am God. The happy grasses are God. Jill groks in beauty always. Jill is God. All shaping and making and creating together."

I accepted water-brotherhood with Mike before I understood it- and I've become deeply entangled with its responsiblities. You'll be commiting yourself never to lie to him, never to mislead him, to stick by him come what may.

Smith was forced to remind himself that a water brother could not lead into wrongful action. He let himself be encouraged to walk around- and found that he did enjoy it and the living creatures (grass) did not protest. He set his sensitivity for such as high as possible; his brother was right, this was thier proper being- to be walked on. He resolved to enfold and praise it, an effort like that of a human trying to appreciate the merits of cannibalism- a custom which Smith found proper.

It was an unlimited acceptance, an eternal yea. Jill suddenly felt that Smith would jump out the window if she told him to- and she was correct; he would have jumped, enjoyed every second of the twenty-story drop, and accepted, without surprise or resentment, discorporation on impact. Nor would he have been unaware that such a fall would kill him; fear of death was an idea beyond him. If a water brother selected for him such strange discorporation, he would cherish it and try to grok it.

He did not want the woman to die at that moment, even though it was right and possibly its obligation. The abrupt change from rapport of water ritual to a situation in which a newly won water brother might be considering withdrawal or discorporation wold have thrown him into a panic had he not been consciously suooressing such disturbance. But he decided that if it died now he must die at once also- he could not Grok it otherwise, not after Giving of Water.

ALTRUISM:

Of all the nonsence that twists the world, the concept of 'altruism' is the worst. People do what they want to, everytime. If it pains them to make a choice- if the choice looks like a 'sacrifice'- you can be sure that it is no nobler than the discomfort caused by greediness...the necessity of deciding between things you want when you can't have both. The ordinary bloke suffers everytime he chooses between spending a buck on beer or tucking it away for his kids, between getting up to go to work or losing his job. But he always choooses what hurts least or pleases most. The scoundrel and the saint make the same choices on a larger scale.

You are not in my debt. Impossible- because I never do anything I don't want to do. Nor does anyone, but in my case I know it. So please don't invent a debt that does not exist or next you will be trying to feel gratitude- and that is the treacherous first step toward complete moral degradation...'Gratitude' is a euphemism for resentment. Resentment from most people I do not mind- but from pretty little girls it is distasteful....the Japanese have five ways to say 'thank you'- and everyone translats as resentment, in various degrees. Would that english had the same built-in honesty! Instead, English can define sentiments that the human nervous system is incapable of experiencing. 'Gratitude' for example.

A moot point. The predestinationers and the free-willers were tied in the fourth quarter, last I heard. Either way, I have no wish to disturb a man sleeping in the gutter. Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia- the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death...before they breed more hemophiliacs.

ART:

Anybody can see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the prety girl she used to be. A great artist can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is...and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be...more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo see that this lovely young girl is still alive, prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who grew older than eighteen in her heart...no matter what the merciless hours have done.

One does have to learn to look at art. But it's up to the artist to use language that can be understood. Most of these jokeers don't want to use language you and I can learn; they would rather sneer because we 'fail' to see what they are driving at. If anything Obscurity is the refuge of imcompetence.

Abstract design is alright- for wallpaper or linileum. But art is the process of evoking pity and terror. What modern artists do is pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Creative art is intercourse, in which the artist renders emotional his audience.

'Artist' is a word I avoid for the same reason I hate to be called 'doctor'. But I am an artist. Most of my stuff is worth reading only once...and not even once by a person who knows the little I have to say. But I am an honest artist. What I write is intended to reach the customer- and effect him, if possible with pity and terror...or at least divert the tedium of his hours. I never hide from him in a private language, nor am I seeking praise from other writers for 'technique' or other balderdash. I want praise from the customer given in cah because I have reached him- or I don't want anything. Support for the arts- merde! A government supported artist is an incompetent whore!

MISC:

Daughters can spend ten percent more than a man can make in any usual occupation.

A true-confession story should never be tarnished by any taint of truth.

Remind me to write an article on the comulsive reading of the news. The theme will be that most neuroses can be traced to the unhealthy habit of wallowing in the troubles of five million strangers.

I want to spit back at the camel and ask him what he's sour about.



Back