The American Book of the Dead: The Diplomat from Utopia

Friday, August 20

The Diplomat from Utopia

On the eve of the inauguration, Benjamin Winchell, diplomat, had a talk with his son. The talk both depressed the President-elect and filled him with a childlike glee. It depressed him because the diplomat told him that everything that he thought he knew--everything that he had campaigned on--turned out to be a lie. It filled him with glee because he was let in on a massive secret. As he stood there on the podium taking his oath, millions of eyes were on him, thinking that they knew his motivation. But there was so much more on his mind than the Presidency. The Presidency was merely a vessel, like the body. What his father told him was the meaning of life.

"Son, I have news for you," the diplomat had begun. They sat in the library of his father’s house on the bank of the St. Louis river. A fire played in the fireplace. Benjamin Winchell drank brandy, warmed, out of snifter, leaning back in a thronelike chair which towered two feet over his head. There may as well have been a dog named Scruff lying at his feet to match the look of comfort in his eyes, as if living a powerful cliché. Young Charles Winchell sat across from his father in--of course--a smaller chair with a lower back. A mightily expensive chair to be sure--brought over after the French revolution--but small. Charles Winchell had no problem feeling like a strong man: a feeling sometimes as if he’d bed every single woman on planet earth. But in front of his father he was more than just diminutive: the President-elect was awed. It was the combination of the hell-like light of the flickering fire, the swirling of the brandy in the wide-bodied snifter as if he was Atlas turning the globe, the look of both amusement and brutality in the man’s eyes, which you could never read correctly and so always put you on edge, and, Jesus, just the sheer knowledge the man possessed. He was the only politician Charles had ever known who read everything: alternate histories, true histories, classic and contemporary fiction, biographies of Jazz men, quantum physics, on and on. It made Charles revere his father with fear, respect, and regret for his own inadequacy. The son was astute enough to realize that this was how you were taught to regard God.

"The main thing I have to tell you is this, Charles. Death is not a punishment. It is a release. There are many things that have been hidden from people over the centuries but this is the main one. I have been to the other side, Charles, and it is beyond majesty. Imagine all the sex and knowledge and art ever created in this world felt in one moment, compressed to the head of a pin. Words can’t touch it, so I won’t even bother. Do you know what it means if death is not to be feared but to be sought after?"

"Not entirely," Charles said, which he regretted because it was a rhetorical question.

The diplomat sneered. "Of course not," he said. "Not yet. Imagine if people were to know that death was not the end, but a pathway to bliss. The next day this word got out, there would be mass suicides. People would drop out of work and search for ways to die. In short, it would be the apocalypse. Do you see? Look at the death penalty. We put people to death as the ultimate punishment, not realizing that we are giving them a gift. Meanwhile life is suffering for the rest of us. It would mean the end of war. What would war be if we knew that we were helping somebody by killing them?"

"You could have a war of torture," Charles said. "You could bring people to the brink of death, instead of killing them."

"The prospect has crossed our minds. Some of the biological weapons being created these days are meant to do just that--disable people without killing them."

"That was just an idea, Benjamin. Why not just put an end to war. War’s a bad thing, right?"

"In theory," Benjamin replied. "It is also necessary. Human beings are a warlike species. A war is merely an extension of a schoolyard fight. Humans like to fuck, fight, love, and hate. All of these things need to exist--and screw the Buddhists--to try and ignore these instincts is just a form of repression. But I’m getting off the subject. We need war for more than just an exhibition of our aggression. It is necessary for the progress of the world. Son, you are going to be the last President. Everything from the Sumerians to the birth of Christ and the rewriting of Christianity has been leading up to you. There’s a lot I’m not telling you here. So much that I’m not even sure where to begin."

"Tell me this," Charles said. "How do you know about all of this?"

The Diplomat shook his head somberly, as if remembering a death, and said, "I’ll start there."

The diplomat talked for six hours.

"I’ll tell you the true story of what’s been going on for the last 5000 years. You want to hear the worst thing? The thing that would make most conservatives blush and cry? All the conspiracy theorists are right. There is a conspiracy going back thousands of years. That’s not telling you much. You must have picked up as much from dinner table conversations growing up."

"Certainly." The dinner table conversations about political power and defense contracts never seemed like a revelation. To most children what their parents do for a living seem like the whole world. If the kid is listening to his father talking about building cars for a living, he thinks building cars is the center of the universe. The difference with young Charlie Winchell was that his father’s profession was--if not the center of the universe, then at least the center of earth, which wasn’t so inconsequential, it turns out, when it came to the entire universe. It may be that every father is God to his son, but Benjamin Winchell actually ran the world.

All of the above was thought in the flicker of an instant, second nature. The diplomat was still talking:

"The UFO buffs are right. There is a massive government conspiracy covering up the entire phenomenon. Sweeping it under the rug with bullshit fronts like Condon and Bluebook. Poor naïve Vallee, he thought he was actually uncovering something. Read his journals, the man may have been a prophet. Let me get to the point though. Roswell happened. Every political act in the last three thousand years has been done to deal with the UFO question. And by UFOs I mean a physical manifestation of God. Every religion is a way to describe the infinite, right? People think UFOs are just the latest manifestation of some kind of perennial vision. If this was Fatima, they’d be seeing the Virgin Mary. Not true--UFOs are real and the last manifestation before the end of the world.

"All our plans were almost laid to waste in the sixties when the counterculture discovered LSD. You see, they were right. Everything on earth is bullshit and all that matters is what exists behind matter, blah blah blah, consciousness, God, magic, whatever you want to call it. What they did wrong is they found their utopia too soon. They were undisciplined. Timothy Leary said tune in, drop out, and would have created a nation of raving homeless people if all of America truly listened to him and dropped out of society. It would have been anarchy. No food getting produced, everybody just lying in bed smiling at the ceiling. That’s not progress, that’s apathy.

"Which is where the conservative agenda comes in. Our methods might have seemed harsh. Killing students in Ohio. Beating up peaceniks holding out flowers. Cops didn’t know what we were up to, and they’d rather beat someone up then not. That’s their job, to enforce. But the powers-that-be knew that we were on to something much larger than some small demonstrations to a minor war. Everything we’ve been doing has been leading up to the Big One--the apocalypse. You think you came up with that campaign slogan by accident? Lesson one, nothing in this world happens by accident. He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good--and we’ve been bad in order to ensure a long-term, larger good. But it takes time. War is a growing pain, as is ignorance. Am I making any sense?"

"Partially."

"Yeah, I’m trying to tell you the history of the world in a chapter. At least that shows that you’re paying attention. We are now to the final stage. The Mayans talked about 2012 being the end, and they were right. They were right about everything--even eating each other. Remember, if everybody’s reincarnated, what’s it matter if one of your manifestations gets eaten? Anyway, 2012 is here and you’re President which is no mistake. We’re going to bring on the end of the world and usher in a Paradise. We’re going to make this world evolve, whether it likes it or not. We’ve got to start a religious war so people will give up on religion once and for all."

"So the Bible isn’t true?"

"It’s all true, every religion. All true and all false because each religion claims it’s the answer."

"Let me ask a question: if we instigate a religious war, proving everything in Revelations to be true--why would people abandon religion?"

"Because the final revelation will be--after the war is over--that we are all God, and that is the only religious principle that matters."

"One last question--and then I may just have to throw up--why not just give people this revelation without a war?"

"Because we’ve fucked up things beyond measure. People believe in Satan, people believe in horrible grotesque, base and debasing things. The world had to come to a breaking point. This is my one regret: without these people out of the picture, the collective consciousness of the world cannot change for the better."

"So we fucked up the environment, desensitized everybody to spiritless sex and violence, made hate a religion, just so we could kill them all?"

"I’m proud of you, Charles. It is no accident that you are going to be President. Everything you say is true. We fucked up the world so we could fuck it one final time. It was what we were told to do. It was the only way for the human race to reach the next stage of evolution.

"We’ve done well keeping major ideas secret. Made UFOs seem like a laughing stock. Created fronts like SETI. What do you think SETI does, sits around all day listening to silence? Of course not. If people knew the secrets behind the UFO issue, they would know about the coming calamities. Contact alone would lead to hysteria, daily investigations, people abandoning faith, total upheaval which would have been out of our control. If there wasn’t such a thing as journalism this wouldn’t be a problem. There were two major things that we learned from in the last century: ‘The War of the Worlds’ and Watergate. In short, the media has more power than the Pope.

"Everyone had to keep living by the insane delusion that this was the way it should be. They had to keep going to their jobs, watching TV, voting, unaware that the world was disintegrating by design."

Benjamin Winchell sat up and took a deep breath as if he was taking in all the air from the room. "I’ve got good news and bad news for the conspiracy theorists. The good news is they’re right. The bad news is they’re right."

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