Why Me?

by Steven H Cullinane
on August 26, 1995

Preface of March 7, 2001:

Today is the feast day of Saint Stanley Kubrick, who died on March 7, 1999. The note below indicates a direction that Kubrick's work might have taken had he been familiar with Changewar, by Fritz Leiber.

The work of a more famous science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, in 2001: A Space Odyssey, furnished Kubrick with a blend of science and a late-sixties acid trip in Section VI -- "Through the Star Gate." For a more recent example of this by-now rather nauseating blend, see the cover story of the weekly Science News for February 17, 2001. This story, "Enlightenment Science," describes research that rehashes the work of sixties scientists who investigated altered states of consciousness. Now that 2001 has arrived, perhaps it is time for a more mature look at altered states.

The work of Fritz Leiber -- in particular, his short story "Damnation Morning" of 1959 (reprinted in the collection Changewar, Ace paperback, 1983) -- is a fitting successor to that of Malcolm Lowry in describing the altered state of consciousness known as delirium tremens. The works of Lowry and Leiber far surpass those of Clarke in depth and subtlety. They should be prescribed for those who, like Elaine Pagels and her husband Heinz, are tempted to mix the religion of Scientism with more avant-garde pursuits. (See my journal note "Midsummer Eve's Dream" of June 23, 1995.)

"Why me?" -- Elaine Pagels in The New Yorker of April 3, 1995

A. Read Changewar, by Fritz Leiber

(Ace Books, New York, 1983).
See esp. pages 22, 76, 135, 177, 192.

B. Read Walsh Functions and their Applications, by K. G. Beauchamp

(Academic Press, London, 1975).
See esp. Table 3.3 and Table 5.1.
Discuss the connection to Leiber's "Spiders" and to Jung's thoughts on the problem of squaring the circle.

C. Read Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce.

See esp. Book II, section ii (geometry lesson).
Discuss the connection to Leiber's "Snakes" and the relationship of Joyce's "Doodles family" to the attached two pages of geometry.
[In the original, the attached two pages included material now found on the web pages Diamond Theory and Geometry of the I Ching.]

Postscript of March 7, 2001:

"...what he was trying to get across was not that he was the Soldier of a Power that was fighting across all of time to change history, but simply that we men were creatures with imaginations and it was our highest duty to try to tell what it was really like to live in other times and places and bodies. Once he said to me, 'The growth of consciousness is everything... the seed of awareness sending its roots across space and time. But it can grow in so many ways, spinning its web from mind to mind like the spider or burrowing into the unconscious darkness like the snake. The biggest wars are the wars of thought.'"
-- Fritz Leiber, Changewar, page 22

Postscript of May 23, 2004:

Excerpt from Fritz Leiber's
"Damnation Morning," 1959

Time traveling, which is not quite the good clean boyish fun it's cracked up to be, started for me when this woman with the sigil on her forehead looked in on me from the open doorway of the hotel bedroom where I'd hidden myself and the bottles and asked me, "Look, Buster, do you want to live?"

Her right arm was raised and bent, the elbow touching the door frame, the hand brushing back the very dark bangs from her forehead to show me the sigil, as if that had a bearing on her question.

Bordered version
of the sigil

The sigil was an eight-limbed asterisk made of fine dark lines and about as big as a silver dollar.  An X superimposed on a plus sign.  It looked permanent.

... "Here is how it stacks up:  You've bought your way with something other than money into an organization of which I am an agent...."

"It's a very big organization," she went on, as if warning me.  "Call it an empire or a power if you like.  So far as you are concerned, it has always existed and always will exist.  It has agents everywhere, literally.  Space and time are no barriers to it.  Its purpose, so far as you will ever be able to know it, is to change, for its own aggrandizement, not only the present and the future, but also the past.  It is a ruthlessly competitive organization and is merciless to its employees."

"I. G. Farben?" I asked grabbing nervously and clumsily at humor.

She didn't rebuke my flippancy, but said, "And it isn't the Communist Party or the Ku Klux Klan, or the Avenging Angels or the Black Hand, either, though its enemies give it a nastier name."

"Which is?" I asked.

"The Spiders," she said.

That word gave me the shudders, coming so suddenly.  I expected the sigil to step off her forehead and scuttle down her face and leap at me—something like that.

She watched me.  "You might call it the Double Cross," she suggested, "if that seems better."

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