Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space Pro

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space Pro

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:03 am

Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space Program
by The Magician
These chapters are parts of a work in progress. © 1998-2001 The Magician.

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Table of Contents:

• Part 1: Hermes, the Ontological Detective
• Part 2: The Suicide Club Gives Birth to Both the U.S. and Chinese Missile Programs
• Part 3: The Slaves Shall Serve
• Part 4: Abreaction Therapy
• Part 5: Rocking to Amargi
• Part 6: Exodus
• Part 7: Sex and the Single Succubis
• Part 8: Conservation of Momentum
• Part 9: Paradise Lost
• Part 10: The Cult of Intelligence
• Part 11: The Book of the Antichrist
• Part 12: Stairway from Heaven
• Part 13: Sacred Tunnels
• Part 14: The Tyranny of the Black Brotherhood
• Part 15: Mute Testimony
• Part 16: My Name is Zak
• Part 17: Stab Your Demoniac Smile to My Brain!
• Part 18: Bloody Dichondra
• Part 19: Axe Me No Questions
• Part 20: Manuscript Found in an Urn
• Part 21: Leaving Mecca
• Part 22: The Square Root of Minus One
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 am

Part 1: Hermes, the Ontological Detective

I first heard about Jack Parsons from a fellow named Homer Nilmot, back in Philadelphia, around 1987. That was the time of my aborted attempt to get out of stock broking and make a living as a private detective. I can't tell you who Homer Nilmot was, or what I did for him, but I can tell you what I found out about Jack Parsons. All the sources here are real. Look them up for yourself. But be forewarned that your view of how the world works may never be the same again. Mine hasn't been.

Homer Nilmot was holding the folder close to his chest, as though fearful I might make a grab for it. The label read "Pasadena".

"Mythological control," he said. "The myth makes the man. Lyndon Johnson used to say about that old windbag Hubert Humphrey, `I've got his pecker in my pocket.' Well you get hold their mixed-up little minds and you've got their peckers and a lot more."

We were setting at an open air table at Downey's at the end of South Street in Philadelphia. He had been rambling for an hour, feeling me out or perhaps just putting on a show. He would come to the point eventually.

I looked out across Front Street to the Delaware and the barge being towed up river. A jogger trotted past in the direction of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

"Them endorphin addicts can't ever get enough," he observed, nodding at the jogger.

"How'd you vote, last election," he added as an afterthought.

"I voted for Clint Eastwood."

"We didn't find any record you'd registered." He enunciated "registered" carefully, with hardly a trace of Texas accent.

"Clint didn't run, last election."

"You a Republican, Democrat, Shi`ite on a Shingle, what?"

Fair enough. It was his money. He could ask what he wanted and I would prevaricate when necessary. I assumed he already knew the answers to the questions he was asking. He was just measuring my responses against what he already knew.

"I'm a Sunni in a Subaru," I said. "I'm a libertarian. I don't think it's any of the government's business how I spend my money or who I go to bed with. The first makes liberals apoplectic and the other raises self-righteous indignation in neo-conservatives. I say a pox on both their Houses." And yours, too, I thought.

"You gonna vote for Russell Means and Ron Paul?"

I played along.

"Gorbochev says he's a Democrat. It doesn't mean he'll carry Chicago. The Libertarian Party has about as much to do with libertarianism as the president of Coca Cola has to do with the cocaine trade. The connection is at best historical and etymological, and there are differences in marketing."

I added: "Of course some people who snort the one also like to drink the other. Anyway Means and Paul aren't running together--they're competitors, at least until the party caucus. Paul was a Republican until recently."

"And Means was an Injun," he said.

"On the other hand, anyone who calls the IRS `the Gestapo' has got my sympathetic attention."

He reflected on this. Then: "Ever hear of Jack Parsons?"

"Jack Parsons?"

"He and a feller named Theodore von Karman started the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. You know, those Jupiter probes and all that."

"I've heard of von Karman," I said. "If the data doesn't fit your theory, take logs; and if that doesn't work, take log logs, and then the data will fit any theory whatsoever."

Homer looked at me suspiciously.

"Just something I read in grad school," I said. "Von Karmen said that, according to Granger and Morgenstern in a book about stock market prices. What about Parsons?"

"Parsons died in the 50s. We want you to find out who killed him."

"Parsons was murdered?"

"It was alleged an accident. We have reason to think differently. Here are some clippings about the death. You can read them later."

"Could I ask why?" I asked, taking the envelope.

"Why he was murdered? That's what you're to find out."

"Why you're interested in Jack Parsons."

"Maybe later. Now it's best if you just look without any prejudice."

It was the summer of '87 and if the End was nigh, it was not nigh enough to notice. The Seven Years of Plenty were symbolized by Merrill Lynch's theriomorphic Sarapis. The country was high on money, congressional soap operas, and impending doom. The Apocalypse heralded by books like The Great Depression of 1990 and Blood in the Streets made all the sweeter the preceding spasm, the Twentieth Century's last great money-making opportunity. In accordance with Elliot Wave V, an exuberant public mood was lifting stock prices and women's skirts.

Or at least that's what I had said in my last report. It was a study for an investment bank on the correlation between stock market prices and trends in popular culture. A golden opportunity for theriomorphic bullshit.

I strolled up South Street on the way back to the office. The designer punk mirrored the cracks in the Zeitgeist. It was a rebellion of nostalgia. The Beatles, a bull market band, were back in vogue. Aging yuppies saw a new puberty, but now with cash to follow their noses. I had just read an article written for Rolling Stone by P.J. O'Rourke, the famed author of "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink." He was sufficiently smitten by deja vu to recommend LSD: Let the Sixties Die. To an ontological detective like myself, it seemed he had nothing to fear. It was the death of the Eighties that worried me.

My office was located in a renovated girl's school on Christian Street. It was non-obtrusive, inexpensive, with plenty of room for files. Anyway I never met clients there. The electronic gate was intended to prevent car theft, but it kept visitors out too.

Sheri, my assistant, was reading a book. Sheri was a member of the Church of the SubGenius, and had a picture of "Bob", tacked to the wall behind her. Bob was smiling with his customary pipe clenched between his teeth. There was also a poster advertising "Gimme Slack," the recent hit single by Doktors for Bob. Sheri was devoted to frop, which she discreetly kept out of sight, in the lower left-hand desk drawer.

"Herm, listen to this," she said. "This was the most popular book in America before the American Revolution. You'll enjoy this. Here is a description of some of those who get smashed by the Prince of Peace, when he returns one day, all unexpectedly." She quoted:

Adulterers and Whoremongers
were there, with all unchast;
There Covetous and Ravenous,
that riches got too fast:
Who us'd vile ways themselves to raise
t'Estates and worldly wealth,
Oppression by or knavery,
by force, or fraud, or stealth.


"No corporate raiders in the Kingdom?" I asked.

"Nor much of anyone else," Sheri said. "Listen to these virtuous types:

Then were brought nigh a Company
of Civil honest Men,
That lov'd true dealing and hated stealing,
ne'er wrong'd their Bretheren;
Who pleaded thus: "Thou knowest us
that we were blameless livers; ...

"Our way was fair, our dealing square,
we were no wasteful spenders,
No lewd toss-pots, no drunken sots,
no scandalous offenders."


"Sound like fine Philadelphians to me. Not your average lewd toss-pots. I would guess a Caribbean Island, a legion of angels, and a long vacation for each, not to mention blessedness and glory."

"Wrong, Hermes," she said. "They get cast into Hell along with the others. They had the wrong attitude. They were just noble because they wanted a reputation for virtue and honesty. It was all an ego trip."

"Hard man, that Jesus. If this was the most popular book around at the time of the Revolution, it makes you wonder how business ever became the business of America, much less how we arose out of the swamp to sign the Bill of Rights."

"The Founding Fathers were mostly Deists," Sheri said, shifting to professorial mode. "They didn't believe in this God's Wrath nonsense. They thought religion was something naturally inborn, which made them oppose crimes committed in the name of God, Revelation, or the Church. Tom Jefferson and his free-thinking dinners. "

Sheri paused to grin at her own little speech. "Makes you proud to be an American," she laughed.

The book was entitled The Day of Doom: or, A Poetical Description of the Great and Last Judgement, with a Short Discourse About Eternity, by one Michael Wigglesworth of Harvard University. It was first published in 1662.

"It would seem Wigglesworth was playing the classic guilt game," I suggested. "If you cheat, your methods are evil; and if you're honest, your attitude is evil. Everything you do is wrong. You are inherently defective and you had better do what the guru says."

"Yeah, these cults are all alike," Sheri said. "They want to wash your brain with a filthy Brillo pad. Speaking of which, two pink boys were here earlier. They wanted to ask you some questions. They looked like Xist Agents to me, but were dressed somewhat better than that."

Sheri called all government employees Xist Agents. "They got through the gate?" I asked. The only door to the office opened directly into the parking lot with its surrounding fence.

"They followed someone in. Or maybe they flew in by phantom helicopter. They could have been the three Men in Black, except there were only two of them. One of them was a fat little fellow. Greasy black hair, smooth talker. The other was medium build, skinny face, pasty, like he had just climbed out of a cemetery. I told them you had gone to New York on business, and would be back in a week. I didn't know what hotel. You never tell me anything. They left a number for you to call."

I took the phone number and went into my office. The first thing I wanted to do was read the clippings on Jack Parsons that Homer Nilmot had given me. I leaned back in my chair, put my feet on the desk, and looked out the window. The construction debris across the street didn't keep my attention for long, so I opened up the envelope.

The first article was from the late news edition of the Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, June 18, 1952. The banner headline on the front page read:

ROCKET SCIENTIST KILLED
IN PASADENA EXPLOSION
--------
Tragedy Drives His
Mother to Suicide
--------
Cripple Is
Helpless
Eyewitness

A brilliant Pasadena rocket propulsion expert met death in an explosion that ripped his garage laboratory yesterday and as a tragic aftermath his mother committed suicide by taking sleeping pills while an elderly crippled woman watched helplessly.

John W. Parsons, 31, former Caltech scientist and instructor and one of the founders of the school's famed Arroyo Seco jet propulsion laboratory, was killed when two explosions, which occurred almost simultaneously, demolished the laboratory on the grounds of the former Busch estate at 1071 S. Orange Grove Ave., Pasadena.

Parson's mother, Mrs. Ruth Virginia Parsons, 58, of 21 W. Glenarm St., Pasadena, took 45 pills after she was notified of her son's death at the Huntington Memorial Hospital about an hour after the explosion. The two women were in a home at 424 Arroyo Terrace, Pasadena, at the time.

Her elderly friend, Mrs. Helen Rowan, a cripple confined to a chair, saw the woman take the pills from a bottle left on a table after she had taken two capsules on order of a physician. Moments later, another friend, Mrs. Neilie Smith, a nurse, arrived at the home to console Mrs. Parsons in her bereavement. She found her slumped in a chair in the living room and Mrs. Rowan sitting helplessly nearby. Three pills were left in the bottle.

Mrs. Nedia Kibart, 59, of 320 Waverly Drive, Pasadena was in another room of the house at the time Mrs. Parsons took the bottle in her hands and began taking the capsules. The mother of the chemist had told Mrs. Kibart that she `couldn't stand it anymore' and that she would `kill herself,' according to Pasadena Police Lt. John C. Elliot.

He said Mrs. Rowan lived with Mrs. Parsons at the W. Glenarm St. address.

Parsons was recognized as one of the foremost authorities on rocket propulsion since leaving Caltech in 1946. He had been employed as a consultant by many firms, his brother-in-law Robert Cameron, 28, of 125 N. Rampart Blvd., told newsmen. Parsons and Dr. Theodore Von Karmine had founded the Caltech jet laboratory in the Arroyo Seco.

The explosives expert was preparing for a trip to Mexico on a job assignment, the nature of which was very secretive, Cameron said. Parsons was last employed by the Burmite Powder Co. in Saugus.

Parsons was apparently packing bottled explosives in a box to take with him on the trip today when the explosion occurred. It was followed immediately by a second and larger explosion, setting off other explosives stored in the room, according to Lt. Elliot.

Remnants of bottles marked "Explosives!" were found on the floor. Walls, doors, partitions, the ceiling and floor of the garage were demolished and a bathtub was toppled over. The body of Parsons was found lying near the tub.

The death of Mrs. Parsons was reported at 9.06 p.m. almost four hours after the explosion shattered the made-over garage. Dr. J. H. Huntsman pronounced her dead. He had been summoned by Mrs. Smith, the nurse.

Four tenants residing in the building above the garage laboratory were uninjured but were routed from their apartments. Salvatori Ganci, an artist who occupies the unit directly above the laboratory, said the blast ripped a large hole in the floor and broke a leg of his grand piano.

Army ordinance experts from Ft. McArthur were called to the scene by Pasadena Police to inspect the debris and to determine the cause of the blast. They were also to inspect Parsons' temporary residence at 424 Arroyo Seco, home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Carpenter, who were out of town, for any additional explosives stored there.

The building which contained the garage was at one time a servants quarters for the estate and recently had been converted to a multiple unit.

The bodies of Parsons and his mother were taken to the Turner-Stevens Mortuary pending funeral arrangements.


I mentally reviewed what I had just read. Parsons was an expert on rocket propulsion. He was active during and immediately after the Second World War. He had had a position at Caltech and was a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He had been working as a consultant for the Burmite Powder Co., according to his brother-in-law.

Brother-in-law. No quote from his wife. Where was she? Parsons was preparing to make a trip to Mexico. On a "secretive" job assignment. Parsons had stored explosives in his garage. Would an explosives expert do that? An explosion had killed Parsons and demolished the garage, but had not done major damage to the apartment above. The explosion had occurred in two parts. A small explosion had apparently ignited other explosives.

By some unknown sequence of events Parsons had been delivered to Huntington Memorial Hospital and had been pronounced dead. Parsons was unexpectedly young, only 31. Most of the article was about Parsons mother. She heard the news, took a bottle of sleeping pills, and died while a crippled friend watched. Both deaths had occurred Tuesday, June 17.

The article had been written hurriedly. Von Karman's name was misspelled. There were no quotes from Parsons' colleagues or employers. No quotes from CalTech or JPL or the Army Ordinance Experts.

The second clipping was the next day's follow-up article, on Thursday, June 19. Parsons' age had increased by six years, and "Burmite" had become Bermite.

Scientist's Fatal
Blast Explained

Police theorized last night that the explosion which took the life of John W. Parsons, 37-year old rocket and jet- propulsion expert, in his Pasadena laboratory Tuesday resulted from his dropping a can of fulminate of mercury.

Pasadena Police Chemist Don M. Harding, completing his examination of the remnants of the blast, said it was definitely established that the fulminate of mercury, a sensitive explosive used only as a detonator, was set off by a shock at floor level.

Harding said the quantity of fulminate of mercury could not be determined but he reported that the coffee can in which Parsons apparently was mixing the batch was shredded into shrapnel. There was a large quantity of other types of explosives in the laboratory, many of an experimental nature, Harding said.

Police said it had been reported that Parsons was manufacturing small quantities of the fulminate of mercury for commercial purposes.

The blast on the grounds of the former F. G. Crickshank estate at 1071 S. Orange Grove Ave., Pasadena, shattered the garage laboratory and inflicted injuries on Parsons that caused his death an hour later.

The scientist's mother, Mrs. Ruth Virginia Parsons, 58, of 21 W. Glenarm St., Pasadena, swallowed 45 sleeping pills and died after hearing of the tragedy.

Parsons was identified as one of the nation's leading authorities on explosives and jet propulsion. With five other original shareholders, he founded Aerojet Engineering Corp. in 1942, but sold out his interest three years later.

`He was a loner,' recalled T.E. Reehan, secretary- treasurer of Aerojet. `He liked to wander. But he was one of the top men in the field.'

Many of the basic patents for JATO (jet assisted take-off) were obtained under Parsons' name. While a vice-president of Aerojet he headed the solid propellant development project. Associates said he was not known to have done any work on atomic power.

Parsons had been with the Bermite Powder Co. of Saugus for a year until last Friday, when he left intending to go to Mexico. There, he told associates, he intended to do further research with explosives and miniature special effects for motion pictures.

At the Saugus firm Parsons headed one of the rocket propellant detonation and pyrotechnic short interval delay projects, a confidential research and development project.

`He stayed until Friday to finish his project,' said J.H.Arnold, treasurer and superintendant of Bermite. `I tried to get him to stay for the tests, but he was anxious to get to Mexico. He had been working hard.'

Parsons was extremely safety conscious, Arnold said. He worked carefully, had a thorough knowledge of his job and was scrupulously neat, the superintendent recalled.

Arnold was surprised that Parsons had explosives in the small make-shift laboratory near his home--a violation of the Pasadena fire-ordinance. The superintendent said, however, that Parsons had a powder magazine near Rialto and six or eight months ago had planned to go into the dynamite business.

Harding said enough explosives remained in the laboratory to `blow up half the block'.

The explosives had been stored there for six months or longer, police learned.

Examination of the blast scene disclosed that the explosion was concentrated in a small area. Apparently Parsons received the full, terrible force directly against his body. A hole was blown through the floor directly under the section upon which Parsons presumably was standing.

The blast broke windows in an adjoining estate, owned by W.W. Burris. Martin Foshaug, his mother, Mrs. Alta Foshaug, Sal Ganci, an artist, and Jo Anne Price, a model were on the second floor of the converted barn at the time of the explosion.

`Everything fell off the walls,' Ganci said. `The piano was knocked over, its leg broken. We were staggered.'

Ganci said he had expected `something to happen' as a result of Parsons' preoccupation with explosives. The chemist frequently warned neighbors that his experimental materials were unstable.

Harding was so skeptical of the chemicals left he shielded them from flash bulbs as photographers took pictures.


I skimmed some irrelevances. Then:

Parsons, it was disclosed, attained his eminence as an explosives expert principally by self-training. Born here, he was graduated from high school but took only two years of night study at SC.

Although Parsons had no formal degree he went from SC to Caltech as a research associate in astronautics and with Dr. Theodore von Karman founded the Caltech jet laboratory.

He was a member of the American Chemical Society, the Institute of Aeronautical Science, the Army Ordinance Association and Sigma Xi fraternity. He had refused a number of honorary degrees.


Well, anyway you looked at it, Parsons was a remarkable individual. He had become a research associate at Caltech without formal training, established himself as one of the foremost experts on jet propulsion, co-founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and had also been a founder of Aerojet. He had made his own way from nowhere to the top of his field. It was not surprising to find he was a loner.

The newsmen's curiosity had been easily satisfied. There were many unanswered questions. Parsons was described by a co- worker as careful and scrupulously neat, yet he had stored explosives for six months in a building with four upstairs tenants. Was this uncharacteristic carelessness?

The four tenants who lived in the top floor of the converted garage/barn were apparently aware of Parsons' laboratory below, yet were content to remain where they were. There were supposedly enough explosives left in the lab to `blow up half the block.' Was this just police hype? The blast that did occur managed to destroy the floor, ceiling, walls, and door of the lab without setting the other explosives off. There also was a conflict with the first article, in which a police lieutenant had described two explosions. Now, according to the second article, there was a single blast from the dropped fulminate of mercury.

Again there were no quotes from Parsons' wife or colleagues at JPL or Caltech. Just brief comments from the company officials at Aerojet and Bermite. Where were the characteristic expressions of grief and admiration for a departed co-worker?

Why did Parsons need to go to Mexico to do further explosives research? What was special about Mexico? Or was the "trip" a cover story to account for time that would be spent elsewhere?

These questions were thirty-five years late. Homer Nilmot needed a professional historian, not a detective. But I had known that from the start, and it hadn't prevented me from taking the project. Necessity is the mother of pretension.

I went over to the sink in the corner of my office and poured some expresso beans into the coffee grinder. I put fresh water into the kettle and turned on the hot plate.

It felt good to have a client. Homer was my second. The first had enabled me to rent the office, such as it was.

Most of the wall space was covered with bookshelves. Filing cabinets filled the interior. It was a loose-leaf compendium of American fringe beliefs. The collection had started as a hobby, arising from a general preoccupation with what people believed and why they believed it. Political beliefs, scientific beliefs, religious beliefs, economic beliefs--these were now my stock in trade. Long ago I had come to the conclusion that the outliers in the data, the odd items that didn't appear to fit, were the ones that told the real story.

At the moment Sheri was in the outer office combing the ads in obscure publications in search of new material. I had hired her because she was already a walking encyclopedia in certain areas, and she seemed reasonably happy to do the job at not very much pay.

I ground the beans into a fine powder, dumped the black dust into the strainer, and poured in hot water. After a minute I pressed out the grounds, tranferred the liquid to a mug labelled Personal Paradigms Inc., and added some half-and-half. When coffee-drinking had arrived in Europe in the seventeenth century, the Catholic Church had dubbed the black brew an evil drug. A prince of Waldeck offered ten thalers to anyone who denounced a coffee drinker. By contrast, Johann Sebastian Bach, the notorious drug pusher and author of the Coffee Cantata, had written: "Coffee, coffee, how I love its flavor, and if you would win my favor, yes! yes! let me have coffee, let me have my coffee strong." I was decidedly in the Bachian camp on this issue. Just Say No to weak coffee.

Under the influence of fresh caffeine, I turned to the last clipping. From the Los Angeles Times two days later, Saturday June 21:

Mystery Angel Enters
Scientist Death Blast
-----
Prober's Advance Belief `Someone Else'
Handled Waste in Parsons' Laboratory
-----

Evidence of the careless handling of dangerous explosive waste materials at the scene of last Tuesday's fatal Pasadena explosion yesterday was described by a former associate as completely `out of character' with the scientific background of John W. Parsons, 37, who was killed by the blast.

George W. Santmyers, Los Angeles chemical engineer associated with Parsons in a Naval Ordinance Department research project since Jan. 1 said that from the evidence gathered at the scene, 1071 S. Orange Grove Ave., he would conclude that `someone else' had put quantities of explosive refuse into exposed trash and garbage containers in the rear of the Pasadena scientist's laboratory.

Don Harding, Pasadena police criminologist reported finding in the trash can six filter papers containing inflammable residue of fulminate of mercury. This is believed to have been the explosive that took Parsons' life.

The cans, mixed with a content of beer tins and kitchen refuse, were nearly collected by Pasadena rubbish trucks. In addition to the filter papers, Harding also found some 500 grams of cordite, an ammunition compound.

`For Parsons to have disposed of such materials in that manner,' Santmyers said, `would be in the same category as a highly skilled surgeon to operate with dirty hands. And I knew Parsons as an exceptionally cautious and brilliant scientific researcher.'


The article went on to say that Parsons would not have tried to hastily dispose of such material at the last minute before his trip, nor would he carry such a hazardous primer in an automobile. Then:

At the time of his death, Parsons was definitely on the trail of a completely new explosive substance `far superior to any existing commercial blasting material,' Santmyers told police. . . .

Rumors that Parsons had been involved in mystic cults some years ago were discounted by Santmyers.


Curiouser and curiouser. If Parsons was involved in classified work, it would explain some of the information gaps in the first reports. Facts would be withheld because government secrets were involved.

It could also be a PR job. If Parsons had embarrassed the government and his colleagues by sloppy handling of explosives, the introduction of a `mystery angel' would allow government personnel to save face and maintain the image of scientific impeccability. And the story would hold up if federal investigators had squeezed out the Pasadena police under the guise of official secrecy.

On the other hand, Homer Nilmot thought Parsons had been murdered. Who would have had a motive to kill Parsons? I knew where to start and why Homer had hired me.

I re-read the last line. Rumors of mystic cults discounted. Right. I called Sheri.

"We have anything on Jack Parsons? He was a jet propulsion expert in Pasadena who was killed in an explosion in his garage laboratory in the early 50s. He was a member of some cult or another."

Sheri thought for a moment. "He was a member of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis. I don't know anything about him, but I have definitely heard or read the name in that connection."

Crowley. I knew a little about Aleister Crowley. He was an English occultist and magician. A Cambridge graduate. He had claimed to put magic on a scientific basis. This was magic in the anthropological sense, not in the stage show sense. Real Magick. He spelled it with a k, magick. I recalled that he also been given a channeled revelation, The Book of the Law, in the early part of the century. Some journalist had called him the "wickedest man alive". That had been a piece of journalistic sensationalism, as I recalled, but Crowley was certainly controversial. It would be enough to make Santmyers discount rumors of Parsons' involvement in mystic cults.

"Here's what we need," I told Sheri. "We need anything we have on Crowley that might tell what was going on in California, particularly Pasadena. We also need other sources of information on Parsons. Go over to the University of Penn library and see if you can find anything on the history of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory or early rocket research at Cal Tech. Look up material on von Karman--there ought to be some references to Parsons.

"Also," I added, "we want to find out if Crowley had any involvement with intelligence organizations. I doubt that Homer Nilmot is paying money just out of intellectual curiosity about the early history of rocketry."

After Sheri had left, on impulse I pulled out the Encyclopedia Britannica and looked up Aleister Crowley. There was a two-word entry. "20th-century satanist," it said. Well. You could always count on the Encyclopedia Britannica for in-depth research and scholarly impartiality. Satanism (whatever that was) was a standard term of abuse applied by certain groups to anyone who disagreed with their religious beliefs. Some Protestants called Catholics satanists. Some Catholics called Masons satanists. Some termed satanic the adherents of the Moon Goddess or of other nature religions. The encyclopedia might as well have described Jesus as a "1st-century blasphemer" based on the gossip of the Sanhedrin.

Or maybe Crowley was really some sort of satanist. In Philadelphia satanists were rebellious teenagers from religious homes, who tattooed "666" on their bodies and sacrificed small animals. Which reminded me of the two Men in Black.

I looked at the phone number left behind by Sheri's afternoon visitors. It was Center City. When I punched in the number, I heard a ring, a click, then a further ring with a different tone. Then the line went dead.

I hung up and took a sip of coffee. The phone rang.

"Personal Paradigms," I answered.

"We know," a voice said. "Good afternoon, Mr. Paradigms," said a second voice.

"May I help you?"

"Yes," said the first voice. "Oh, that's very good. He wants to help us," said the second.

The first voice continued: "We understand you are interested in Jack Parsons, Mr. Paradigms. Is this true?"

"Not at all," I said.

"That's good. That's very good," said the second voice.

"Jack Parsons was the cause of much trouble for a lot of people recently, Mr. Paradigms. But it's settled down now. We wouldn't want anyone mixing the pot."

"Stirring the cauldron," the second voice corrected. "Rejuvenating the remains. Roiling the ruckus."

"Why do you care?" I asked.

"We care."

"We are very caring people," the second voice said.

"Who do you work for?"

"Let's just say we work for the government." Voice No. 1.

"We represent a government agency." Voice No. 2.

"You will not have heard of us. We keep a low profile." No. 1.

Laughter. No. 2: "That's very good. We keep a low profile with our high foreheads." More laughter.

The line went dead.

I took another sip of coffee.

* * *

Leaving the office, Sheri was a blur of motion. She always felt that if she could only move fast enough, the world would spin out behind her like a treadmill. She had the key in the switch of the Volvo while still closing the door with her left hand, started the electronic gate on its ponderous rise while sliding out of the parking space in a deft parabola, then shot through the opening with barely an inch to spare. She turned right in the direction of Lombard.

Holy Crowley schmowley. She checked her watch. It was 2:32. She decided she would stop at Harvest, by the Stock Exchange, on her way over to campus. Frank would likely be there in a few minutes. Like some of the other foreign currency options traders, he liked to pop up for a beer right after the close. Frank had told her about a psych professor he had had who was into Crowley.

From 22nd Street Sheri cut back down Market toward the Exchange and slid into a parkplatz on the street as a car pulled out. The driver in a second car waiting to back into the same space stuck his head out the window. "You bitch!" he yelled. Sheri flashed him a smile as she put a quarter in the meter. She entered the Exchange building on the 20th Street side, walked through the atrium past the Exchange entrance, and into Harvest.

Frank wasn't there, so she sat down and ordered two beers. She was nearly finished with hers before Frank came in with some other traders. Sheri waved him over.

"Ola, mi chulo. Your beer is waiting. I see you can use one. Tell me about it."

"I was getting blown out of the water all day by the Swiss franc." Frank took a seat and downed half the beer. "In the morning I was delta neutral, fully hedged you know, intending just to buy and sell a few and suck out the spread. But then the Swiss started to rally. It ran up a hundred points and I was sitting on negative gamma so I kept buying spot to stay hedged. I was losing money all the way up. And then it turned around and dropped two hundred points. My position kept getting longer the more it dropped, so now I had to sell back in the interbank market all the spot I had just bought, at a position loss at that because you couldn't keep the option prices in line. Everyone was yelling and shoving and I had a splitting headache. I went back in the restroom for some energy, but I was so shook up I spilled most of the coke on the floor. I wasn't gone more than a few minutes, but when I came back the Swiss had rallied almost seven-five points, and Kinsky was yelling at me where the fuck had I been. We took a good hit and he acts like firing me. And the Swissie closed unchanged.

"It wasn't a good day," he concluded.

Sheri nodded sympathetically. "Negative gamma can do that to you." She wondered what it was.

"You can say that again," Frank agreed. He was off in his own world, staring out at pedestrians on 19th.

She leaned forward and ran her fingers lightly along the inside of his left thigh. "Been getting any lately, Frank?"

"What?" His eyes swung to her and jerked abruptly back into focus.

"Remind me who that psychology professor was you had at Penn. The one who you said was into occult and magical groups."

"Wilson. David Wilson. Yeah. What about him?"

"You were telling me about an exchange in class one day. He was talking about Aleister Crowley."

"Crowley. Yeah. Wilson gave us a reading assignment in this book about the psychology of possession. I think it was saying that people, like holy rollers, who go into a trance and speak in tongues, or you know voodoo rituals that use music and drugs, or people who have certain terrifying experiences in war. There was a common psychology in all these."

"The psychology of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll?"

"Something like that, I guess. Anyway one day he was talking about Crowley. I think he knew some students on campus who thought Crowley was hot shit. Crowley said something about doing your own thing ... "

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," Sheri prompted.

"Yeah. He was saying they seemed to think it meant doing whatever the hell they wanted to."

"What did he think it meant?"

"He said Crowley meant you should find the one thing you really wanted to do in life, and to do that. Find your true will. Don't try to be a frigging accountant when you're really a guitar player at heart. There was this guy that was asking him a number of hostile questions. Someone told me after class that he--this guy--was a member of a magical group. I don't really know if he was or not."

Frank looked out the window. Once again lost in thought.

"Thanks, Frank. Got to go. Listen, call me some time. We've got to stop meeting like this."

"Yeah." He turned momentarily to watch her leave. Strange girl, he thought, but fun. Sort of like foreign currency options. The puzzle was half the pleasure.

* * *

Sheri returned around six with a few items from the library. She said there was a psychology professor at Penn named David Wilson who had the reputation of being something of a Crowley expert.

I called his office but he had left for the day. I decided to do the same.

On the way out I picked up The Day of Doom from Sheri's desk and paged through it. It was filled with family values:

"The godly Wife conceives no grief,
nor can she shed a tear
For the sad state of her dear Mate,
when she his doom doth hear. . . .

The pious Father had now much rather
his graceless Son should lie
In Hell with Devils, for all his evils,
burning eternally,
Than God most High should injury
by sparing him sustain;
And doth rejoice to hear Christ's voice,
adjudging him to pain."


"Damned sinners deserve no pity," I said to Sheri.

"Amnesty International can't help you in Hell," she replied.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:06 am

Part 2: The Suicide Club Gives Birth to Both the U.S. and Chinese Missile Programs

I arrived back at the apartment too late to catch the nightly news soap opera with Dan, Tom, McLehrer, and Peter. I opened a Dos XX and selected some CDs. The Hooters and Pink Floyd.

My two cats didn't like the music. They scowled and left for another room.

I started in on the stack of materials Sheri had left me.

"Guess what," Sheri had said. "The project Jack Parsons was involved in at Cal Tech was called the GALCIT Rocket Research Project. It became the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I found two histories of the program--one written in 1940 and one in 1954. You'll be especially surprised at what you find in the later one."

I sifted through the pile. The earlier pamphlet was entitled "The Daniel Guggenheim Graduate School of Aeronautics of the California Institute of Technology: A History of the First Ten Years," Bulletin of the California Institute of Technology, Vol. 49, No. 2, Pasadena, Calif., May, 1940.

It said the GALCIT Rocket Research Project had begun in 1936 at the private initiative of a group composed of Frank Malina, Hsue-Shen Tsien, A.M.O.Smith, John W. Parsons, Edward S. Forman, and Weld Arnold. Weld Arnold had financed the group with a $1,000 donation. The group seemed to revolve around Malina, Parsons, and Forman.

"The problem of rocket motor design, based on the theory of perfect gases, was discussed by F.J.Malina. J.W.Parsons and E.S.Forman made an experimental study of the fast-burning powder rocket motor. The practicability of various substances as propellants for jet propulsion was investigated by J.W. Parsons."

So Parsons was the fuel expert. The experimenter. The kid who mixed the powder and turned jet propulsion into reality. I checked the references. There were two papers by Parsons listed, one published, one unpublished: "Experiments with Powder Motors for Rocket Propulsion by Successive Impulses," with Edward Forman, in Astronautics, No. 43 (1939), 4; and "A Consideration of the Practicality of Various Substances as Fuels for Jet Propulsion."

Returning to the history, I discovered there had been other reports "prepared for manufacturing concerns and government agencies by F.J.Malina, with the assistance of J.W.Parsons and E.S.Forman. These dealt with a general review of rocket propulsion and the possibility of application to heavier-than-air craft."

According to the history, the GALCIT program had recently (in 1940) been expanded under the sponsorship of the Committee of the National Academy of Sciences for Air Corps Research. The program was directed by Theodore von Karman, who was chairman of the subcommittee on jet propulsion. "The experimental part of the program is being carried out by F.J.Malina, J.W.Parsons, and E.S.Forman."

The second history was entitled The Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology: The First Twenty-Five Years, Cal Tech, Pasadena, June 1954.

In the text, Parsons was not mentioned by name. On the other hand, only a few people such as von Karman were. I turned to the list of research references and checked those against the papers from the earlier history. Seven references under "Rocket Research Project" were listed in the 10-year history. The same names and articles were listed in the 25-year history, except for papers by Jack Parsons and his co-author Edward Forman.

I looked again at the date.

June 1954.

Two years after his well-publicized death, a co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory had been excised from Cal Tech history.

It smelled of patricide. The academicians had had their revenge. Take the embarrassing fellow without the degree and bury him in the footnotes. Then delete the footnotes.

The twenty-five year history was sanitized in more ways than one. Its tired prose overlooked private initiative entirely and arrogantly gave the credit for research and progress in the field of early aeronautics to Cal Tech and the National Academy of Sciences. But the history was still helpful. It made clear that the original project had been absorbed by the military--the Army Air Force.

"Because of the possible application of rocket propulsion to assisted takeoff of aircraft, the Army Air Force became interested in the program and in 1941 took over sponsorship of the work. At this time the effort was organized and known as GALCIT Project No. 1 . . . .

"By 1941 the scope of both theoretical and experimental work had been greatly extended. In August 1941, the first practical solid propellant had been developed, and the first successful assisted-takeoff tests were made. The first rocket motors shortened takeoff distances of small aircraft by as much as 50 percent. After the development work was completed and the assisted-takeoff motors went into extensive service use, large- scale production was undertaken by the Aerojet Engineering Corporation, which was subsequently acquired by the General Tire and Rubber Company and has recently become the Aerojet-General Corporation. . . .

"In 1944 the first long-range rocket research and development program in the United States was started. By this time the size of the project had increased to a point where the organization of a separate laboratory seemed desirable. Accordingly, on November 1, 1944, the Project separated from the GALCIT and became known as the Jet Propulsion laboratory . . ."

So this was official history. The GALCIT project and Aerojet Engineering Corporation (of which Parsons was one of the founding shareholders) had become an important part of aerial warfare research during the Second World War. Later in the 1950s the Jet Propulsion Laboratory would be at the center of the race to space. It would seem no one cared to acknowledge the important entrepreneurial role played by a disciple of the unsavory Aleister Crowley. Why was that?

To do so might upset the conventional image of dispassionate progress that scientific bureaucrats liked to project. Many of the latter, I knew, had never had a creative thought in their lives, and resented anyone who did.

I decided to have another beer. I put on Duran Duran's Notorious and looked out the window down Second Street, which extended from the building below me. In the distance it turned into a thin ribbon of lights stretching endlessly to the south.

The only food I found in the kitchen was tuna I had stocked for the cats. I made myself a tuna sandwich, and returned to the living room.

I looked to see what else Sheri had culled from the Van Pelt library. She had found Theodore von Karman's autobiography, The Wind and Beyond.

The introduction said von Karman had been chosen over all other living scientists to receive the first National Medal of Science from President John Kennedy in 1963. After skimming the first few pages, I checked the index and turned to the first reference to Jack Parsons. Von Karman said he had been sitting in his Cal Tech office one day, when three "young men" showed up wanting his help in building a space rocket. It was John W. Parsons, Frank J. Malina, and Edward S. Forman.

The three had already talked to some other Cal Tech staff members and "had been turned down because rocketry was not regarded as practical or even scientifically interesting."

Frank Malina was a graduate student in aeronautics at Cal Tech, and wanted to do a Ph.D. thesis on rocket propulsion. He had been told he would be better off getting a job in the aircraft industry. Parsons was a self-taught chemist "with considerable innate ability." Forman was a rocket engine tinkerer. According to von Karman, both Parsons and Forman had corresponded with the early German and Russian rocketeers, one of these being Willy Ley, the author of many books on rocket travel. Their back yards in Pasadena "were pockmarked from the effects of rocket explosions." Parsons and Forman had heard that Malina was working on rocket propulsion and had gone to him for advice. At the time "real scientific interest in rockets . . . was virtually nil."

The three wanted to build solid- and liquid-fuel rockets which could perhaps fly twenty to fifty miles into space. Von Karman thought the project worthwhile, because instrumented rockets could bring back information about cosmic rays and weather at altitudes balloons wouldn't reach. So he gave Malina permission to do his doctoral thesis on rocket propulsion, and gave the group permission to use the Aeronautics Laboratory during off hours, even though Parsons and Forman had no formal connection with Cal Tech.

The Parsons-Forman-Malina group had money problems from the start. The only funds they got came from a student named Weld Arnold who gave them $1,000 in return for becoming the group photographer.

After one rocket misfired inside the Aeronautics Laboratory, the group was moved outside to a concrete platform attached to the corner of the building. Another explosion buried a piece of gauge deep into the wall, and Cal Tech students started calling the group the Suicide Club. To prevent difficulties with the administration, von Karman decided to move the Suicide Club away from all buildings as far as possible. They found a spot in the Arroyo Seco in back of Devil's Gate Dam, on the western edge of Pasadena.

In May 1938 "Hap" Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, visited the Club. He was interested in scientific applications to war, in particular to the possibility of some form of rocket- assisted takeoff for large bombers from small air fields, like those in the Pacific Islands. The group got a $1,000 contract, and a year later one for $10,000.

The success of jet-assisted takeoff was followed by experiments with long- range rockets. By 1945 JPL had launched America's first successful high-altitude rocket, the WAC Corporal, to a height of forty-seven miles. Later in 1949 at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico, the WAC Corporal was launched from the nose of a reconstructed V-2 to a height of 244 miles.

It was the first American rocket to enter extraterrestrial space. Not a bad ending for a project that started with two boys from Pasadena (Parsons and Foreman) with cratered backyards.

Paging through the book, I found a photo of Parsons. It was taken in January 1943 at the Muroc (now Edwards) Air Force Base in California. It was a photograph of the founding fathers and early directors of the Aerojet Engineering Corporation. The group was standing in front of the Douglas Havoc attack bomber (A-20), "the first U.S. airplane to take off with permanently installed rocket power plant". Parsons was standing between Theodore C. Coleman, the Director, and Edward S. Forman. Von Karman and Frank Malina were also in the photo, along with the A- 20 pilot and some others.

I was surprised at Parsons' appearance. I suppose I had expected some wiry New Age vegetarian type or perhaps a nerdy looking intellectual. Parsons had rugged good looks with black, wavy hair. Like the others, he was squinting into the sun. He carried a serious, preoccupied expression.

Aerojet had been founded in 1942 by Parsons-Forman-Malina, along with von Karman, Andrew Haley, and Martin Summerfield. The purpose had been to sell JATO (jet-assisted takeoff) units to the armed forces. Each founding member had put up two hundred dollars. Von Karman said that what they lacked in business acumen, they made up in other ways. "Parsons, for instance, was an excellent chemist, and a delightful screwball. He loved to recite pagan poetry to the sky while stamping his feet. The son of a one-time tycoon, he stood six-foot- one, with dark wavy hair, a small mustache, and penetrating black eyes which appealed to the ladies."

When Parsons wasn't working with explosives, he was the head of a religious sect called the Thelemites, von Karman related. The latter met in Pasadena in a mansion in a room with walls of carved leather. Among other things they practiced sex rituals. Or so von Karman learned when the FBI questioned him about Parsons some time later. Von Karman described Parsons' mentor Aleister Crowley as an "ex-mountain climber," and said Crowley's story was related in a book entitled The Great Beast.

Von Karman told what happened to Aerojet in a chapter entitled, "How I `Lost' $12,000,000." In 1944 the company had desperately needed financing to finish some contracts with the Navy. Banks would not make loans for such an unstable enterprise as rocketry. After much soul-searching, the owners reluctantly tried to raise capital by offering half their stock to General Tire for $225,000, which the group had decided was the fair value. General Tire countered with a stunningly low offer of $50,000. Eventually in early 1945 the group, whose voting power was held in a trust under von Karman, sold the shares for $75,000.

Later on General Tire wanted to completely buy out the minority shareholders, including von Karman and Malina, in order to consolidate Aerojet with the parent company. It offered to pay $350 a share. Otherwise General Tire threatened to make a $300 dividend. This would deplete Aerojet of assets, and would subject von Karman to heavy taxes. General Tire would also then convert the shares of Aerojet into shares of the combined company at an unfavorable ratio. Von Karman eventually agreed to sell. (Malina, by contrast, took the $300 dividend anyway, converted his shares into those of Aerojet-General, and opened an art studio in Paris.) One of von Karman's friends later calculated that by selling out in 1953, von Karman had lost the opportunity to be worth $12,000,000 in the 1960s.

Jack Parsons and Ed Forman followed a different path. Both men had dropped out of GALCIT to devote full time to Aerojet when the company was formed. Then in 1945 when the group as a whole sold half-interest to General Tire for $75,000, the two of them made a separate agreement for the remainder of their Aerojet stock. Afterwards they apparently lost contact with JPL programs. Parsons, however, continued to work for other aerospace firms. Von Karman heard that in 1947 Parsons had become involved in arms for Israel. Some years later the Mexican government asked Parsons to set up an explosives factory. Parsons told von Karman that the Mexicans were providing him with a seventeenth-century castle for living quarters. "But Parsons never entered it. While he was packing a trailer with explosives in front of his home, a bottle of fulminate of mercury slipped from his hand and exploded. A few hours later he died."

So this was the explanation of the "mysterious" trip to Mexico. Parsons was building an munitions factory.

Von Karman apparently took the conventional account of Parsons' death at face value. But his account had introduced a myriad of new possibilities relating to Parsons' death.

If Parsons had become involved in arms dealing, he could have been killed by a client or a competitor.

Von Karman noted that Parsons had continued to place his stamp on solid- fuel rocketry after leaving Aerojet. That might make him a threat to competing companies. Could Parsons' death be a simple, if extreme, case of industrial espionage?

Parsons was headed to Mexico to establish an explosives factory. Did someone have a reason to stop that enterprise?

Parsons was the head of a religious sect. Could he have been killed by a fanatic?

I looked at the clock. It was nearly 3:30 a.m. I decided to glance quickly at the other two books Sheri had supplied. One was entitled JPL and the American Space Program. It contained another picture of Parsons. Parsons, Malina, Forman, Smith and a student assistant named Rudolph Schott were relaxing in a sandy area of the Arroyo Seco. A rocket motor was in place, ready for testing. There were sandbags behind which the group sought safety during the tests.

Parsons looked quite young in the picture. Then the chronology stuck me. If Parsons died in 1952 at age thirty- seven, he was only twenty-one--the age of an undergraduate Junior--when he showed up in von Karman's office in 1936.

The history mentioned that before the GALCIT group had received the $1,000 from Arnold in the Spring of 1937, Parsons and Frank Malina considered writing a movie script about a flight to the moon. They hoped to raise research funds by selling the script to Hollywood. (Malina himself had become interested in rockets at age twelve when he had read Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon.) Short of money a year later, Parsons and Ed Forman had taken jobs with the Halifax Powder Company in the Mojave Desert.

The JPL history also speculated on the origin of Parsons' solution to one problem with JATO rocket storage. The powder in the rockets deteriorated after only a few days, so that the rockets would explode instead of burning with a controlled thrust. It occurred to Parsons to replace the charcoal in the powder with paving asphalt. He replaced salt peter with potassium perchlorate as the oxidizer. One theory said Parsons got the idea while watching a roof being tarred. Malina, however, pointed out that Parsons was already familiar with Greek fire, an asphalt-based material used by the ancient Greeks to set ships ablaze from a distance.

The other book was entitled The History of Rocket Technology, and contained an article by Malina on the early days of GALCIT. It explained how it all got started. During 1936 the local Pasadena paper had carried an article about the possibility of rocket-powered aircraft. The story was based on a seminar given by William Bollay, a graduate assistant to von Karman, and reported some studies done in Vienna. Jack Parsons and Ed Forman had seen the article. They showed up at Cal Tech seeking help on their current project, the construction of a liquid- propellant rocket motor.

It was now 4:35 a.m., so I simply turned out the light. The two cats began a game of hide-and-seek in the darkened room.

As I lay on the couch, I kept thinking about two things I had read earlier in the Karman autobiography.

The first was that von Karman, a Hungarian Jew, was a descendant of a mathematician at the Imperial Court of Prague who had been given credit for creating the world's first mechanical robot, known as the Golem.

The other concerned Hsue-Shen Tsien, one of the original members of the GALCIT group with Parsons, Malina, and Forman. Von Karman considered Tsien one of his brightest students. Tsien had co-authored the paper with von Karman and Malina that lead in 1944 to the ORDCIT project: a program to develop long-range jet- propelled missiles. The first prototype was the Private A, a missile powered by a solid-fuel rocket unit manufactured under the supervision of Jack Parsons at Aerojet. Aerojet would later provide a liquid-fuel rocket motor for the spectacularly successful WAC Corporal.

Tsien was thus a founding father of the U.S. missile program. In the 1960s Tsien was also credited with the successful establishment of the nuclear missile program of the People's Republic of China.

Tsien was a classic case of self-fulfilled reality on the part of the U.S. government. As a Chinese citizen, Tsien was accused of being a Communist spy during the McCarthy period because he refused to testify against a colleague. Tsien's security clearance was removed. Tsien said he couldn't work under those circumstances, and threatened to return to China if his clearance wasn't restored. He made the threat to the U.S. Under Secretary of the Navy, who was ultimately responsible for some of Tsien's projects at JPL. The Under Secretary panicked and had Tsien arrested by Immigration. The U.S. government subsequently refused to let Tsien leave the country for five years, by which time he had no desire to stay. Ten years after leaving the U.S., Tsien had turned China into a missile power.

As I lay in the dark, hypnagogic images of Golem blended with missile- equipped Chinese Communists.

Eventually, however, my thoughts drifted back to a youthful group of friends and sunny afternoons in the Arroyo Seco. I fell asleep.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:06 am

Part 3: The Slaves Shall Serve

Sex rituals? I thought when I awoke the following morning.

It didn't seem to fit. Jack Parsons and Ed Forman had been two uncommonly bright kids experimenting with rockets, and corresponding with the early rocket pioneers. They had showed up at Cal Tech and formed an alliance with some of von Karman's graduate students. Unlike the latter, Parsons and Forman already had hands-on experience with mixing solid rocket fuels and constructing rocket bodies.

Cal Tech thought the idea of space rockets was silly, except for von Karman, perhaps the nation's leading expert in jet propulsion. Von Karman gave the group the use of facilities. After some explosions, they ended up in Pasadena's Arroyo Seco--a small canyon that passes near South Orange Grove Blvd.--at a spot near Devil's Gate Dam, and near where von Karman, Parsons, and others founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory a few years later.

The project had soon attracted the attention of the U.S. military, which was looking for some form of jet-assisted takeoff for planes using the short air strips in Southeast Asia. The group obtained a number of JATO patents, most under Parsons' name, and formed a company named Aerojet Engineering Corporation to sell JATO units to the military. The early stockholders had had financing problems, and their intellectual property had essentially been expropriated by General Tire and Rubber.

But JPL's WAC Corporal had become the first rocket to enter extra- terrestrial space. And another member of the original rocket group had gone on to found China's missile program.

Sex rituals? Was there some sort of contradiction here? On the other hand, this was an important lead. Sex itself is a powerful explosive. Perhaps Parsons' death had something to do with his unusual personal life.

The new lead was waiting for me at the office. Sheri had started the laborious process of sifting through our own research collection. She had marked a reference to Parsons in The Great Beast, the biography of Crowley mentioned by von Karman.

One of the particpants in those sex rituals was L. Ron Hubbard, the future founder of Scientology.

A group of Crowley followers had established a church in Pasadena in the 1930s. It was called the Agape Lodge, and was started by Wilfred T. Smith, whom Crowley had met in Vancouver in 1915. According to John Symonds, Crowley's biographer, Wilfred Smith subsequently aroused Crowley's ire by seducing Helen Parsons, the wife of John Whiteside Parsons. Parsons was then one of the Agape Lodge flock. Symonds referred to Parsons as "Dr." Parsons, apparently thinking his Cal Tech association implied a doctorate.

Crowley wrote Smith that his seductions were giving the Agape Lodge the reputation of being "that slimy abomination, a `love cult'." (I found it difficult to see how something named agape could have avoided that stigma.) Crowley apparently expected little reform from Smith, pointing out that when he had met Smith in 1915, Smith was sleeping with both a woman and her daughter. So Smith was disfellowshipped, and Parsons took over the church. Parsons, meanwhile, had transferred his affections to Helen's younger sister "Betty" (Sarah Elisabeth Northrup).

In the summer of 1945, some time after Parsons had sold his shares in Aerojet, a young L. Ron Hubbard appeared at the Agape Lodge. Parsons thought Hubbard had great magic potential. Betty did too, and started sleeping with Hubbard. Parsons wrote Crowley of Ron Hubbard: "He is the most Thelemic person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles. He is also interested in establishing the New Aeon. Thy son, John."

With the loss of Betty, Parsons set about magically attracting another principal partner. He had succeeded by February 1946 when he wrote Crowley about a girl named Marjorie Cameron. "I have my elemental! She turned up one night after the conclusion of the Operation, and has been with me ever since, although she goes back to New York next week. She has red hair and slant green eyes as specified."

In the newspaper clippings Homer Nilmot had given me, Robert Cameron was cited as Parsons' brother-in-law. Apparently Parsons was married to Marjorie Cameron when he died in 1952.

Parsons continued his magical operations with the sexual participation of Marjorie Cameron. By some unclear mechanism, these resulted in revelations delivered through the mouth of L. Ron Hubbard. Parsons gave them special significance, writing Crowley: "I have been in direct touch with One who is most Holy and Beautiful as mentioned in The Book of the Law. I cannot write the name at present. First instructions were received direct through Ron, the seer. I have followed them to the letter."

This was pretty rich. "Ron the seer." If Ron was God's (any god's) mouthpiece, he was in an ideal position to manipulate Parsons. Hubbard had started by taking Parsons' girl. You could already guess that Parsons' money would be next.

Crowley wrote to his head man in America, referred to as Frater Saturnus: "Apparently Parsons or Hubbard or somebody is producing a Moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts."

Moonchild? What was a Moonchild? I made a note to look it up.

In the meantime, Hubbard ran off with Betty in Parsons' yacht. Parsons wrote Crowley that he had magically evoked a storm which drove the two back to shore. "I have them tied up; they cannot move without going to jail," he wrote.

Symonds' account of Hubbard abruptly ends there. Clearly, however, there was more to the story. Was there a continued relationship between Hubbard and Parsons?

Later in 1949, Symonds relates, Parsons took the Oath of the Abyss, which was said to be an attempt to unite his consciousness with the Universal Consciousness. Parsons gave himself the magical name of "Belarion Armiluss Al Dajjal AntiChrist." Symonds thought Parsons was going crazy at this point.

"Dajjal," Sheri explained, "is Arabic for `deceiver,' which was the name given the Antichrist in Islamic legend. Ad-Dajjal was supposed to have a red face, one eye in the middle of his forehead, and to rule all the world, except Mecca and Medina, for forty years before being destroyed by the Mahdi."

Weird stuff. Why would Parsons chose that name?

"So now we know the real identity of the Antichrist," I told Sheri. "Parsons was trying to start a New Aeon or New Age, and Hubbard (Ron the Seer) was trying to cash-in on it. There are God-hucksters on the radio who have suspected all along that New Age movements are the work of the Antichrist. I think they're right. When you hear someone declaring a `New Age,' or a `New Order' run for your life."

"What's wrong with a New Age?" Sheri wanted to know.

"I suppose it's mainly a question of who's in charge. When a group proclaims a New Age, you can bet they themselves expect to end up running the show. Those in power now typically wouldn't need, and wouldn't want, a new order for themselves. They're doing well enough under the old order, thank you. So it's either another elite group making a power-grab, or else it's disgruntled trouble-makers, angrily enduring the `present distress,' perhaps envious of the rest of the world or suffering from an illusion of insignificance. These types might well vote for radical political and social reforms. The little guys in the present age, naturally, are going to be well-rewarded big honchos in the next world. But today's little guys are a large, heterogeneous group, and they disagree on the nature of the changes needed."

We catalogued a few questions: What had lead Parsons to become a closet magician? Why was he so naive where L. Ron Hubbard was concerned? What were Parsons' occult activities immediately prior to his death?

Where was L. Ron Hubbard in June 1952?

Then there was Homer Nilmot. He undoubtedly already knew what we had thus far discovered about John Whiteside Parsons. Probably a good deal more. What hadn't he simply told me at the outset? What was he trying to accomplish?

I had met Homer a few weeks previously at a party given by Trisha, Sheri's roommate. Homer introduced himself and asked what I did. I told him I was an "ontological detective". The description had just slipped out, and it occurred to me it would look good on a business card. Homer chose to focus on the detective part and asked for a meeting. At lunch at Downey's he seemed to know a lot about me--enough to make me wonder who was playing detective. He had given me a cash retainer, and had discouraged any questions about himself or his organization.

The strange phone call I had received indicated someone else was also interested in Jack Parsons.

"Why don't we focus on the following," I said to Sheri. "First, how did L. Ron Hubbard come to meet Jack Parsons? The biography of Crowley doesn't explain that. Was it through the O.T.O.? And what happened after the incident with Ron running off with Betty in the yacht? We need more details."

Sheri had arranged a meeting with David Wilson, the Penn academic who was supposed to be the Crowley expert. Like many academics, I assumed he had fallen in love with his subject. If so, this would be helpful. In order to understand Parsons, I had to see the world through his eyes, and Parsons obviously admired Crowley.

How would an expert on rocket propulsion reconcile his professional life with the other one involving the Agape Lodge? Maybe Parsons just liked sex. Or maybe there was more to it than that.

There was a small line of students waiting outside David Wilson's office. I had never understood why a professor would voluntarily choose to teach a summer session. I knocked on the door and they looked somewhat resentful when Wilson came out with a departing student and told those waiting office hours were over for the day. He gave me a good-humored grin and we went inside.

The room was sparsely furnished, but exuded more the atmosphere of a private den than an academic office. Missing were the stacks of papers and research reports piled high on desk, filing cabinets, and spare chairs. There was an oriental rug spread out in front of the desk, with two padded armchairs angled on either side. Nested among the books on the wall shelves was a CD player, softly pumping out "Bass Strings" by Country Joe and the Fish. A framed print on the wall showed a dancer sensuously arching backward, her left hand resting on the floor behind her.

Wilson himself was in his mid-fifties, with layered medium-length white hair combed forward. His face showed the intense enthusiasm of an undergraduate.

"So you're interested in that old rascal guru Aleister Crowley," he said, waving me to an armchair. "What can I tell you about him?"

Homer Nilmot's questions to me had indicated a political motivation for his interest in Jack Parsons. I decided to start with that angle.

"Can you tell me something about the political attitudes of Crowley and his followers?"

The answer came almost immediately, without reflection, like a well- rehearsed lecture for Psychology 101.

"You have to distinguish between Crowley-the-Herald-of-the-New-Age, and Crowley-the-Man. Crowley-the-Cambridge-Don had the turn-of-the-century British upper class attitude that viewed much of the outer world as peopled with inferior wogs, geeks, and niggers, who for their own good needed to be ruled with a firm British hand. By contrast, the Book of the Law (his revelation) was democratic, anarchistic, hacking apart the group mythologies of society and nation with their self-perpetuating codes of personal and economic bondage.

"Crowley-the-Man sometimes said that women were creatures of inferior minds. The Book of the Law said every man and every woman was a star, which Crowley-the-Herald-of-the- New-Age interpreted to mean full equality between the sexes. Most of Crowley's followers were in fact women of an independent spirit.

"Occult organizations are by their nature hierarchical. There are masters and disciples, inner and outer orders. Everyone gets spiritually ranked according to his or her initiatory stage. This aspect of things undoubtedly appealed to Crowley-the-Man, who wanted to possess the occult knowledge and spiritual stature denied ordinary people. Nevertheless, Crowley- the-New-Ager set out to democratize magic by publishing the secret traditions.

"Crowley's political program was essentially set out in Liber Oz."

Wilson got up to pull out a typed sheet from a drawer in his desk. It was a plain sheet of white paper with no heading. An address in California was listed at the bottom of the page. I read:

Every man and every woman is a star.
There is no god but man.
Man has the right to live by his own law,
to live in the way that he wills to do,
to work as he will,
to play as he will,
to rest as he will,
to die when and how he will.
Man has the right to eat what he will,
to drink what he will,
to dwell where he will,
to move as he will on the face of the earth.
Man has the right to think what he will,
to speak what he will,
to write what he will,
to draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as he will,
to dress as he will.
Man has the right to love as he will,
take your fill and will of love as ye will,
when, where, and with whom ye will.
Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights.
The slaves shall serve.
Love is the law, love under will.


I thought about it for a bit. Then: "This is powerful political stuff," I offered.
"It would upset a few people," Wilson said. "The right to die when and how you will? The military and the medical profession would prefer to keep that prerogative to themselves.

"The right to dwell and move around where you will? That's anathema to the modern conception of the nation-state. How would we dispense with immigration authorities, border patrols, the passport mafia, and the coast guard? How would the tax collector keep track of anyone in such a world?

"To love as you will? Free love provoked violent reaction in the Sixties. And who believes in it anymore in the Live AIDS era?

"To eat as you will? That implies sovereignty over ones own body. Are you kidding? Look at the governmental and media hysteria over substances with psychopharmacological properties. As for less controversial chemicals, it still takes an average of 8-10 years and $100,000,000 to get a new drug approved by the FDA and out on the market. Thousands can die while the FDA decides whether a new treatment is `safe'.

"Free speech? Destroyed by the libel laws. A few years ago the Trilateral Commission published a book by Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington which said that the problem with modern democracies was there was too much democracy and too much free speech. That democracies could only survive as long as most people left the problems of running a country in the hands of an educated elite, like (and this was Huntington's example) in the good old days when Harry Truman was able to make do with a handful of Wall Street lawyers and bankers. Huntington proposed going after the press with a liberal dose of the libel laws.

"No God but man? What would the religious establishment say to that? How are you going to terrify people into submission without an external supernatural power to back up arbitrary codes of largely monetary conduct?"

Okay, I thought. This still doesn't tell me much about Homer Nilmot's interest. Or not that I could see, right off hand.

"Do you know anything about a Crowley follower named Jack Parsons?" I asked.

"Just what I've read here and there. The Symonds biography of Crowley has some material. Then there are some books by the current head of an O.T.O. lodge in London, Kenneth Grant. One is called The Magical Revival and another Aleister Crowley & The Hidden God. They discuss Parsons' experiences with a `Frater X.' If you compare the events with Symonds' biography, Frater X is obviously L. Ron Hubbard, the Scientology founder. Grant chose not to use Hubbard's name, perhaps fearing a dirty tricks or character assassination campaign conducted by some of Hubbard's fanatical followers."

I took note of the two books.

"Does it make sense for a scientist like Parsons to be a magician?" I asked.

Wilson just grinned at me.

"Does it make sense for a scientist to be a Protestant?" he finally responded. "Did it make sense for Isaac Newton, the inventor of the calculus and expositor of the law of universal gravitation, to write commentaries on the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation, and to devote his time delving into alchemical treatises?"

"Okay. Let me alter the question. What is the relation of magic to science and religion?"

I asked that question because I was annoyed at his superior attitude, but he didn't seem to notice.

"Sir James Frazier, the anthropologist, characterized science, magic, and religion as three approaches to reality, and I would agree. The scientific approach can be summarized in the phrase `seeing is believing'. Scientists are from Missouri--you've got to show them. Physical science deals with the basic forces of material reality--gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces--as elucidated by experiment.

"The key psychological characteristic of the domain of physical science is that it purports to study behavior that manifests itself independently of human cognition or belief. You don't have to understand gravity in order to fall off a building and die from the impact. It doesn't matter if you've ever heard of gravity or even if you vehemently deny its existence. Stick your finger in an electrical socket and you get a shock, whether saint or sinner, Methodist or Moonie.

"Ideally, scientists are supposed to be neutral skeptics.

"For example, Einstein said that large gravitational bodies such as stars would warp space-time around themselves. So that even a light ray passing by would apparently change directions-- just as though it had been `pulled' off course by gravity--and continue at an angle to its original path. This was an interesting theory by a leading scientist. But the theory was only believed when the phenomena was actually observed in the solar eclipse of May 29, 1919. When announced later, the confirmation made headlines around the world. Even then Einstein himself wasn't convinced his own theory was correct, because he had made other predictions that hadn't yet been confirmed."

The phone began to ring.

"Anyway, that's the way the scientific approach is supposed to work. But doesn't really," he added, picking up the phone.

When he finished I asked him what he meant.

"Well, scientists don't work in a vacuum. You go to college to learn the current body of accepted, and acceptable, beliefs. What questions you ask depends on what questions you feel comfortable raising in a seminar comprised of educated colleagues. The university doctoral program indifferently screens out the incompetent and the competently heretical. What experiments you perform depends on what experiments are `worthwhile'. What is `worthwhile,' of course, depends on what you can get grant money for, and what you can publish. Both of these require referees who are already grounded in the body of current beliefs.

"Here is one example. French peasants in the Seventeenth Century kept reporting meteorites. The scientific community laughed at the superstitious reports from gullible bumpkins. Any educated person `knew' that stones don't fall from the skies.

"If you really believed in observation and experiment, of course, you would have gone out and seen the meteorites for yourself. This just shows that how scientists actually operate differs from the Pollyanna descriptions of the scientific method you find in high school textbooks."

"The Seventeenth Century occurred some time ago," I astutely observed.

"It's not any different today," he replied. "In 1962 a French astrophysicist named Jacque Vallee watched his colleagues erase a magnetic tape on which his satellite-tracking team had recorded data on an unknown flying object. The data had a suspicious resemblance to classical ufo sightings, and he was given the explanation that `people would laugh at us.' What is interesting to a psychologist is the fact astronomers were willing to destroy scientific data rather than run the risk someone might associate them with cultists and cranks.

"You even have witch-hunting organizations like CSICOP--the Committee for Snotty Interpretations of Claims of the Paranormal--which engages in character assassination of scientists involved in parapsychological research. CSICOP members claim their goal is rooting out fraud. But it isn't fraud that really upsets them. It's heresy. CSICOP once ran a study refuting a particular astrological correlation. When one of the editors of their magazine realized that a statistical error had been made, and that the study actually supported the astrological assertion, the magazine refused to print a retraction. He wrote a letter to the editor, but they wouldn't print that. He himself then did a further study, which this time came to the `right' conclusion, and CSICOP published it, but refused to publish the reference to the error in the previous study. They then agreed to publish a statement that his second report had been `censored.' Then, without his knowledge, they censored the reference that the report had been censored. It shows their real function is propaganda.

"They have a court jester, an erstwhile stage magician and a paid disinformation agent for the U.S. Department of Defense, who goes around claiming parapsychological research results are obtained by trickery. Imagine CSICOP scientists being led around by the nose by a stage performer! CSICOP even got Nobel-prize winners to sign a statement that astrology was superstition. It was absurd. Most of the people who signed that statement wouldn't know a Gemini from a Taurus. Yet they were perfectly willing to declare there was no scientific evidence for astrology."

David Wilson was clearly on his soap box. I just listened.

"It's the basic appeal to authority rather than evidence. The Pope says you shouldn't wear prophylactics--he's the Pope, after all. And a CSICOP T.V. scientist says there's no evidence for psychokinesis--well, he's on T.V. after all. He must know what he's talking about."

He paused, so I interjected: "How would you characterize the religious and magical approaches?" I was still listening between the lines, trying to get a sense of where Jack Parsons may have been coming from--living simultaneous lives as a rocket genius and a Crowley disciple.

"The religious and magical approaches are quite distinct. Both believe in an unseen order, a sacred realm. Both are concerned with laws that operate according to one's psychological state. It's difficult to generalize, but the religious approach is basically concerned with worship and reward and punishment. You worship a God by emulating his characteristics. The devotees of Dionysus were infused with his spirit. Followers of Jesus receive and express his love.

"The magician is more pragmatic. Crowley defined magic as the `art and science of causing changes in conformity with will.' That is, magic integrates psychology and physics. Magicians believe in the Hermetic principal `as above, so below.' There is a complete correspondence between the inner and outer world, between the microcosm and macrocosm, between your state of mind and your outer world experience.

"The magical approach is technological in that you want to bring about changes in your own or others behavior, in the state of society, or in physical matter. But the starting point for effecting change is the consciousness of the magician himself. Or herself.

"A magician would not hesitate to use a religious approach. For example, a magician might meditate on the God Dionysus, or perform a prayer or ritual dedicated to Dionysus, in order to infuse his own consciousness with the Dionysian spirit, if this were important for the accomplishment of a particular goal.

"Neither would a magician hesitate to study science. Science is, after all, a very powerful method for getting at certain aspects of physical reality. In fact, one standard type of magical exercise involves immersing yourself in a point of view alternative to what you are normally accustomed.

"Around here," he waved his hand vaguely at the surrounding walls--I assumed he meant the university--"we talk about putting on our psychologist's hat, or economist's hat, or physicist's hat--meaning you interpret something in terms of the conventional wisdom of that profession. A good magician believes in the multi-model approach. For the moment he may become a psychologist, or economist, or physicist, or he may take the cosmic viewpoint of a priest in the ancient Egyptian city of On, or adopt the paranoia of a life-long member of the John Birch society. The manipulation of reality requires a plasticity of consciousness."

"Aren't there different types of magic?" I asked. "How does, say, black magic differ from white magic?"

Wilson laughed. "How does the gas mileage of white cars compare to that of black cars?"

"You're saying there's no difference."

"Not at all. People who buy black cars may be, in general, different drivers from people who buy white cars, so white cars may get different mileage." He paused. "I suppose there are different ways to answer your question. On the one hand there's the good-guys-wear-white-hats approach. White magic is what we do. Black magic is what anyone I don't like does. In this sense, `white' magic is magic used for a purpose you approve of.

"But magic is really a neutral technology, somewhat independent of the goals of the magician."

Wilson paused, thought for a moment, then decided to stop there.

"Nothing you have said so far makes Crowley or magic seem all that awful, aside from whether you think it makes any sense." I said. "So why does the mention of Crowley's name arouse so much hostility?"

"Oh. For a number of reasons. Crowley wasn't all that nice of a guy. He was a notorious practical joker and show-off. If anyone conceived a disagreeable opinion of Crowley, he went out of his way to confirm their worst impressions, often acting like a dirty-minded little kid. It was perhaps the inevitable consequence of growing up in a family who believed in the literal truth of the Bible, thought they were the only true Christians, and looked forward to the imminent return of Christ. Besides the fact that he enjoyed manipulating others' perceptions of reality, Crowley was, I think, practicing the magical principle that relates the degree of power you have over someone to your capacity to generate intense emotion in that person. That is, it was better they spoke badly of him, than they not speak of him at all.

"He was a show-off alright. When he first left Cambridge, he went around as a Count Vladimir Savareff. Another time, when the Paris authorities had commissioned a bronze butterfly to cover the private parts of the monument which Jacob Epstein had made for the tomb of Oscar Wilde in Pere-Lachaise, Crowley stole the butterfly and showed up at the Cafe Royal with the butterfly afixed as a cod-piece over his evening dress.

"Then there was sex. Remember, we are talking about the early part of the twentieth century. This was a time when parents still read John Harvey Kellogg's Plain Facts for Old and Young to learn the thirty-nine signs of the secret vice of self-abuse in their children. Kellogg exemplified the spirit of the age when he recommended having the skin covering the end of the penis sewn up to prevent erection, and the application of carbolic acid to the clitoris to prevent abnormal excitement in females.

"Well, Crowley's magic, especially later on, was tantric. It involved sex. To the public at large that made it black magic by definition. The public essentially first heard about Crowley when he opened his Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu in Sicily. The British papers began a campaign of villification claiming that the Abbey was inhabited by drug addicts who spent their days indulging in sexual abominations. As a result, Crowley was banished from the country by Mussolini in 1923."

Banishment by Mussolini? Was that serious condemnation or not? But I dropped that line of thought because here was opportunity to ask a basic question about those sex rituals.

"What's sex magic?"

Wilson turned for a moment and looked out the window across his desk.

"Like most other types of magic ritual, it's a way of reprogramming the human mind," he said finally. He got up and moved to one of the bookshelves. "I usually refer people to this book for the basic mechanism involved."

The book was entitled The Mind Possessed: A Physiology of Possession, Mysticism, and Faith Healing. It was written by a British psychiatrist named William Sargant.

"Sexual magic was practiced by the Ordo Templi Orientis long before Crowley became a member. Crowley, incidentally, always wrote OTO in a manner that made the phallic symbolism of the letters obvious--the O's representing the testicles. He also formed the A in Aleister with curls at the bottoms of the verticle strokes and the cross-bar positioned at the top of the letter, so that the total effect was an ithyphallic version of OTO."

The phone rang again. While Wilson talked to a student about an exam, I looked once more at the sheet of paper Wilson had given me when I had first come in the office. A group entitled JPMS had sponsored the flier. The address was in Glendale, California.

When Wilson got off the phone, he looked at me as though it were time for me to leave.

"Just a couple more quick questions," I said. "There are groups of Crowley followers around today. What are they like?"

"It all depends. Many intellectuals read Crowley for the clarity of his thought, which contrasts with a lot of the New Age bilge floating around today-- channelled revelations from 35,000-year-old Lemurians and moralistic dolphins and whatnot. But keep in mind the Media-Crowley. The Media-Crowley was the wickedest man alive. Look at the Bantam edition of Crowley's autobiography. Notice the advertising blurb at the top."

He showed me a paperback The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. The blurb said these were "the profane and uninhibited memoirs of the most notorious magician, satanist and drug cultist of the 20th century."

"Anyone who actually read the book will come away with a much different impression that they get from the cover. But think about it. There are all sorts of kooks and crazies who want to be associated with Crowley because they take this hype seriously. They're looking for a piece of the action of drugs, black masses, satanism, sex, bloody rituals, and whatever else the media have lead them to expect. It's not likely to be a nice crowd. And some of those weirdos can be downright dangerous."

Wilson looked at me carefully. "Downright dangerous," he repeated.

"What about this group?" I held up the sheet of paper with the quotations from Liber Oz, and tapped the name at the bottom.

Wilson shrugged ignorance.

"What does JPMS stand for?"

"Oh that." Wilson didn't bat an eye. "That's the Jack Parsons Memorial Society."
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:07 am

Part 4: Abreaction Therapy

There was no pay phone at the Palladium, a restaurant on the U. of Penn campus, but they let me use the house phone at the end of the bar. I told Sheri about the books Wilson had mentioned and asked her to get me a direct flight to Los Angeles.

I felt the stare as I turned. The man was wearing a black suit and sitting on one of the high wooden barstools. Someone had apparently replaced his blood with embalming fluid and it still annoyed him. The deep-set eyes in the greenish gray flesh stared without blinking. He stood up and moved toward me.

"Have the time?" the mouth asked.

"It's two-thirty," I guessed.

"You lie!" he affirmed with some belligerence. "It's a quarter past four." He glared at me before turning and shuffling out the door to Locust Walk.

When I followed a few moments later, he had disappeared.

I went back into the Palladium and dialed the time. It was 2:33. Then I tried the number Homer Nilmot had given me.

"Trans-Global Consultants," the woman answered. She said Mr. Nilmot was out but she would relay my message.

When I got back to the office, Sheri told me she had gotten a flight reservation for the day after tomorrow.

"Just enough time to tie up some loose ends," I said. I told her about the walking stiff I had met at the Palladium.

"Sounds like one of my two Men in Black," Sheri responded. "The one from the cemetery, she said gravely."

"Well, this was definitely an actor from Rent-A-Ghoul. Who are these Men in Black supposed to be, again? Maybe that's the point of this little charade. To create distraction."

"The classic Men-In-Black are the bad guys of the space brother world," Sheri said. "Traditionally, they are tanned or olive-skinned individuals with high cheek bones, faintly Oriental in appearance, often driving black Cadillacs or Buicks or something, and who appear to people who have had ufo experiences and threaten them to keep quiet about whatever has happened. Or sometimes they show up in the guise of Xist or Air Force agents, take down full reports of the victim's experiences, and tell him the military is conducting an investigation. Except if the `investigators' are investigated, their credentials often turn out to be bogus. Experiences with MIBs may be, incidentally, the reason General Carl Spaatz, our first Air Force Chief of Staff, announced at a press conference in 1948, `There is no truth to the rumors that the flying saucers are from Spain, or that they are piloted by Spaniards.' "

I thought about that. "Well, that doesn't fit this fellow," I said. "He didn't have the slightest hint of a suntan, and I haven't seen any ufos lately."

"Me neither," said Sheri. "I guess we don't qualify to be among the chosen few." She curled out her lower lip in a pout.

There was something bothering me about what happened at the Palladium. It seemed, well, familiar. "Give me a Men-in-Black example," I asked Sheri. "Something early, maybe. Something classic. You know, before the media and the hype took over."

"Easy," she said. "There was Albert Bender. He closed down his International Flying Saucer Bureau in 1953. He said three men wearing black suits were responsible. Most amateur ufologists concluded it was government agents who had put pressure on him. It was another ten years before Bender told the full account in his book Flying Saucers and the Three Men. Bender's three men weren't your average government bureaucrats. No, sir. They had glowing eyes. They materialized and dematerialized in his apartment. They took him to a secret ufo base in Antarctica. And so on."

"So it was likely a hypnotic experience," I said. "An extended mind fuck."

"Or whatever," Sheri said. "He exhibited the usual symptoms from contact--upset stomach, loss of appetite, headaches, lacunar amnesia."

It came to me, then, what had been bothering me about the Palladium ghoul. It took a little digging through the files, but we found it soon enough.

It was a paper entitled "The Confusion Technique in Hypnosis," by the hypnotherapist Milton H. Erickson. It was published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis in 1964. Erickson gives an example of the technique in action:

"[A] man came rushing around the corner of a building and bumped hard against me as I stood bracing myself against the wind. Before he could recover his poise to speak to me, I glanced elaborately at my watch and courteously, as if he had inquired the time of day, I stated, `It's exactly ten minutes of two,' though it was actually closer to 4:00 P.M., and walked on. About half a block away, I turned and saw him still looking at me, undoubtedly still puzzled and bewildered by my remark."


Erickson goes on to explain that the technique works through the use of vague and puzzling statements. Because of the initial confusion, the hypnotic subject will then treat the first clearly understandable piece of information as unusually important.

"Maybe they're softening up our minds now," I said to Sheri. "They're getting ready to stick it to us."

"Whoever they are," Sheri said.

I asked Sheri to keep trying Homer Nilmot's number. Meanwhile I made myself a cup of coffee, and sat down to study the theory of sex magic in William Sargant's The Mind Possessed. David Wilson had let me borrow his copy, which I gladly accepted. Returning it would give me an excuse to talk to him again.

According to Sargant, there is a general physiological mechanism for reprogramming behavior. It involves the creation of intense emotion, such as fear or anger, leading up to a collapse from emotional exhaustion. Sargant originally studied soldiers who were having mental difficulties stemming from traumatic war experiences. It turned out such problems could generally be alleviated through a drug-induced emotional experience of sufficient intensity to lead to a general physical collapse. Sargant called it an "abreactive experience".

"After the patient had come round," Sargant wrote, "he might burst into tears or shake his head and smile, and then report that all his previous fears and abnormal preoccupations had suddenly left him, that his mind was functioning more normally again, that he felt more like his old self, that memories which had obsessed and terrified him could now be thought of without fear or anxiety."

It was not necessary to "re-live" the original experience. Just to generate the emotional collapse. The mind, according to Sargant, subsequently became pliable to new programming--new behavior and attitudes, just as it apparently had been when the original problems were implanted.

Drugs were only one method for inducing the collapse. Music and dancing was another. So was terror induced by hell-fire preaching. Or a holy-roller atmosphere of music and confession and induction of the Holy Ghost. Or electro-convulsive therapy. Or exhaustion through repeated sexual orgasm.

The collapse could serve the purpose of a general release from worries, guilts, obsessions, and sins. But one also became open to new ideas, Sargant claimed. One could become a new man or woman, for good or evil, in the service of the Gods, the flag, or the self.

In sexual magic, the trance is induced through sexual exhaustion. Sargant quotes Aleister Crowley, the magician himself, on the details:

"The candidate is made ready for the ordeal by general athletic training and by fasting. On the appointed day he is attended by one or more experienced attendants whose duty it is to exhaust him sexually by every known means. The candidate will sink into a sleep of utter exhaustion but he must be again sexually stimulated and then again allowed to fall asleep. This alternation is to continue indefinitely until the candidate is in a state which is neither sleep nor waking, and in which his spirit is set free by perfect exhaustion of the body . . . [and] communes with the Most Highest and the Most Holy Lord God of its Being, Maker of Heaven and Earth."

I called Sheri back in and read the passage to her.

"So basically you fuck your brains out until you see visions and talk to God and the angels," she summarized.

That seemed to be pretty much it.

"With the help of experienced attendants," I noted. "It probably induces a change in the brain's hormonal balance. But obviously there are more techniques than just the one Sargant mentions here. For example, when Jack Parsons and Marjorie Cameron were engaged in ritual intercourse, it was L. Ron Hubbard who was communing with the Most High. Ron the Seer, right?"

"Sounds like a complex subject. If you want the whole technology, perhaps you should go the source." She laid a book on my desk. It was Crowley's Magic in Theory and Practice.

I groaned inwardly. This wasn't what I wanted to spend my time on. I just had the vague hope that if I could get into Parsons' mind-set, it might help me find out who killed him. It was a comforting belief since it was all I had to go on at the moment. But getting into Parsons' mind- set was turning out to be a complex process.

I studied Sheri's posture. She was sitting with her feet propped up, the hem of her skirt slipping well above her knees. She was wearing a silk blouse that clung seductively to her breasts.

"You want to get something to eat after work?" she asked. "I'll buy you a burger and a margarita at the Copacabana."

I considered it. The offer was tempting. I was a sucker for fresh lime juice and tequila. I hesitated, though. All my instincts told me not to get too chummy with the help. The phone wouldn't get answered, the research wouldn't get done, the office would fall apart.

On the other hand, we were only going to get a hamburger. Why not. Just because she wanted to buy me dinner didn't mean she expected to sit on my face for dessert.

"Sure," I said. "Why don't we go have a margarita?"

At Copa we got a table on the 4th Street side where we could watch the foot traffic at the corner with South. Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" was booming out over the sound system. As we sipped our drinks, Sheri told me that Albert Bender was also a student of magic.

"This was going on while Bender was studying ufos. What happened with respect to the Men-in-Black may have been only obliquely related to `flying saucers.' Magic is a traditional method of conjuring up elementals. And Bender suffered from a lot of poltergeist manifestations."

"In that case, maybe Jack Parsons was also visited by Men-in- Black," I said.

"Maybe it's all magic," Sheri said. "The saucers are just techno- veneer. Most of the interesting stuff seems to take place in someone's mind, with no witnesses."

I watched her tongue lightly lick salt from the rim of the glass before she took a sip of margarita. When I had interviewed Sheri only a couple of months previously, she had claimed she was a Hindu vegetarian who didn't drink but got stoned frequently. Now here she sat with a drink in her hand, and she had just ordered a hamburger.

"No salad tonight?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Sometimes like Fritz Mondale I ask myself, `Where's the beef?' I get this intense craving for bloody bovine carcass."

"As long as you don't knock over little old cows in the street to support your habit. Or stand on a soapbox preaching the occult virtues of meat-eating."

"No possibility of that, not since I found Bob. Bob says death to all fanatics."

She had been a rock groupie, once getting arrested in Miami. She had played guitar for several years, then had switched to electric blues harp and had performed with Muddy Waters.

"Bob drinks, you know," she said, her tongue at work on the rim of the glass. "He's drinking buddies with the Fightin' Jesus. That's the one who comes bringing not peace, but a sword. The Macho Jesus, not the wimp who turns the other check."

"So that's why you were reading Wigglesworth--to study up on the Fightin' Jesus."

Once she had rehearsed for the part of Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. Although all in all she preferred Krishna, she said, as Krishna could be seen in anyone, including a lover, she had claimed. But that was the last I had ever heard of Krishna. Maybe it's just something you say in a job interview, when you don't want to sound like a Jesus fanatic.

"Nah. American history is cultural edification. Roots, you know? Which reminds me. You want to go to a party tonight? It's called the Mauvaises Arts Ball, and gets started around eleven o'clock. It's a parody of the Beaux Arts Ball, the one for Arts and Architecture held later in October."

"Mauvaises Arts?"

"If the Beaux Arts Ball were the semi-orderly formality of a ceremonial dinner dance, then the Mauvaises Arts Ball would be the orgy in the back room. It was inspired, I think, by the reviews of Bad Cinema that Dan Akyroyd used to do on Saturday Night Live. Anyway this year's theme is Apocalypse Culture."

"As in the Four Horsemen?"

"As in the Kali Yuga, Friday the Thirteenth, nuclear winter, the mark of the beast, marrying and giving in marriage, chaos theory, the Society Hill Dungeon, rumors of war, the return of Quetzalcoatl, 2001, lycanthropy, famine, the invasion of the body builders, automobile air bags, Presidential astrology, AIDS needles washing up on the beach, earthquakes, sex with robots, psychic warfare, cable TV--all those things."

"I take it I don't need to wear a Tuxedo then."

"You can wear pretty much anything you want. There will be the usual artsy crowd there, and a lot of pinks and assorted politicos. A couple of fellow Sub-Genii are scheduled to speak, or rather to rant and rave. It's all part of the atmosphere. Later in the evening there will be a channeling session delivered by Helen Morley, the Avatar of Amargi."

"Where's Amargi?"

"Amargi is a Sumerian word meaning freedom."

That appeared auspicious. It sounded like fun, and I said I would go. I worked my way around the bar to the phone, called Trans-Global Consultants, and left a message telling Homer Nilmot where I would be.

When I returned to the table, I saw a mounted Philadelphia patrolman had stopped just outside the window. From time to time passersby would pause to pet the horse. All but the better-looking women were told to keep their hands to themselves. I guess the horse was picky.

"So what did David Wilson at Penn have to say?"

I told her about Liber Oz.

"It sounds to me pretty much a strong statement about individual rights," Sheri opined. "I think the Founding Fathers would have approved. Leave out the love part, maybe."

"Yeah. Whatever happened to politics, anyway. Now every political campaign is run as a crusade to solve the world's problems."

"So. You don't believe in crusades against evil, taking out the bad guys, all that." Sheri's tone was mocking.

"No. The way I look at it, organized sin and organized sin- fighting are two sides of the same corporate coin. It's like the Society Hill Towers' resident priest who has a number of women confess that the grocer's new delivery boy has seduced them. He makes them each put a hundred dollars in the poor box. Then the delivery boy appears, and the priest asks angrily, `What have you got to say for yourself?' `Just this,' the delivery boy replies. `Either you cut me in on those hundred-dollar fees, or I take my business to some other parish.' "

"Yeah," Sheri agreed. "You can't get rich saving souls if everyone's converted."

"Crisis managers couldn't cope without calamity. You can't get elected President without a social problem to fight, or a menace to protect people from. Of course the `problems' never disappear. The Cossacks are always coming to rape our women and destroy Our Way of Life. And by definition there'll always be people with below average income or whatever. The chief function of government is to find problems that can be profitably managed. Everyone wants to save the world, as long as doing so gives them power, and as long as someone else pays for it."

"Why do you think people go into politics, anyway?"

This was getting too serious for discussion over margaritas, I thought.

"A lot of men go into politics because of the women. Ever been to a major political convention or an election night party? Sexy women everywhere. And there's nothing like working for a noble cause to get them hot and willing."

Sheri blushed. I was surprised.

"It's niacin," Sheri explained. "I took a 500 milligram capsule a few minutes ago. It creates a skin flush similar to the Masters and Johnson sexual flush. Trisha's recommendation. Niacin reduces serum cholesterol--the fat in your bloodstream. She was a biochemistry major."

Sheri decided to change the subject.

"The other day I was in Garland of Letters--the New Age bookstore down the street, and these two women were looking at books, and this other woman comes by and says, `You ladies don't look at that witchcraft. Read your Bible.' "

"I read the Bible one time myself," I said. "Not Bob's, the other one."

Sheri looked skeptical.

"Really. The begets and all. One thing I remember it says is that Satan appears as an angel of light. You don't hear much about that, these days. To hear some Christians tell it, Satan has pointed ears, 666 tattooed on his forehead, and dresses in brand-name Lucifer Leather with an appropriately-sized forked codpiece. But their own reference manual says it's the opposite of that."

"You're saying that if everyone agrees something is evil, it's just as likely not?"

"Not exactly. I'm saying that when you find Satan, he'll probably look like Jesus Christ himself."

"And what does that have to do with Jack Parsons? Or abreaction therapy?" Sheri demanded, after a moment's thought.

"I have no idea. Just something that came to mind."

I signaled for the check.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:07 am

Part 5: Rocking to Amargi

Trisha spooned the arginine carefully into the grapefruit juice. Three teaspoons made about twelve grams. She added three more teaspoons of choline chloride mixed with pantothenic acid. She stirred the brew carefully, added water, then drank it fast, keeping her mind blank. She shuddered at the aftertaste.

Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw were right, she thought. Arginine does taste like dead goat vomit.

She went to the bedroom and stood before the full-length mirror inspecting her body critically. High breasts giving way to a flat abdomen. Narrow waist, a widening at the hips, and long legs that were slightly muscular. The late afternoon sun coming through the window highlighted the reddish gold at her crotch. She thought a light trim was in order.

She locked her fingers behind her neck and pulled her hair up over her head. The golden blond mane overflowed the arc of her wrists and still easily covered her shoulders.

She would go tonight as Dejah Thoris, she thought. When she was growing up her father had read her Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales of Barsoom, and she had often imagined herself as Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium. She had once asked her father for a jeweled dagger, which he purchased for her a few years later on her sixteenth birthday.

Well. Not quite as Dejah Thoris. As Dejah Thoris she would have worn an ornament for her hair, sandals, a simple belt to support her dagger, and nothing else. That was the difference between Philadelphia and Barsoom. For this party she would also wear a dress. Perhaps the sleeveless white one with the hemline that hung to her left ankle, but which was gathered up on the right side to end at her hip. The dagger would hang down at the side of her exposed thigh.

She was sure the effect would be stunning.

* * * * *

"So? What do we do for bread?" Roy demands.

"You tell me." Ezra spits on the sidewalk. "The drug deal won't fly, not with the cowboy ridin' herd down there."

They are leaning against a wall near 12th and South. The previous week they had put up a table near 3rd and collected signatures and money. "Committee for a Drug-Free South Street," the cardboard had read. They had taken in over three hundred dollars, a hundred for rent, and the rest blown in weekend partying.

"Let us pay a visit to that mother Two-Shoes. Jivin' us in the presence of the Man."

They contemplate the demise of Two-Shoes in silence, a strategic plan requiring careful thought.

Shit, you ain't no committee for a drug-free nothin', Two-Shoes says. The Man cocks his ear and gets nosy. Ezra makes up a phone number and as the Man saunters off on his horse they pack up and disappear.

"Maybe we should pluck some pussy off the street," Ezra says, and then Roy sees it too.

Coming down the block, the Cadillac of downtown pussy.

"Look at her dress, pulled up like that."

"Advertisin'," says Ezra.

Roy looks at the billowing blond hair, the sleeveless white dress, and the naked leg rhythmically flashing at him.

"Hey, lady," he says as she comes past. "Tell me how much and I'll knock over a bank."

He reaches out and touches her shoulder, to slow her down. He hardly senses her hand moving, just the sting that spreads through his arm.

He looks at the line drawn from his wrist to the inside of his left elbow. The line begins to fill with blood.

"Jesus, the bitch cut me."

To Ezra he sounds more awed than angry.

Roy stares at his arm as the blood begins to freely drip on the sidewalk.

"A little love nip," Ezra says.

Oblivious to his friend's plight, Ezra hurries to follow her.

* * * * *

"Get your methylxanthines here!" a voice cried.

The methyl hawker was a mobile concession stand, bright yellow cap and jacket, and loaded with white styrofoam.

"What do you recommend?" Homer Nilmot asked.

"Tea is your best bet, about 125 milligrams of caffeine, same as a cup of coffee, but it's a better stimulant because it also contains theophylline--the coronary vasodilator and antiasthmatic."

"What about the hot chocolate?"

"The chocolate has two methylxanthines, the diuretic drug theobromine and the stimulant caffeine. Mixed with succrose, cinnamon, and vanilla, it is rich in carbohydrates and a source of quick energy."

After a moment's thought, Homer decided on the hot chocolate. He sipped the thick liquid and looked around the spacious open room that would later serve as the dance floor for the Mauvaises Arts Ball. It was early and people were mostly milling about, talking. Streamers, Chinese dragons, and inflated puppets dangled in mid-air. At either end of the floor were small raised platforms with podiums.

A woman was speaking on the far dais, but Homer couldn't distinguish anything she said over the babble of conversation. Above the dais, a pink neon sign flashed: "The truth shall make you free." Homer smiled. He knew the quotation. A thin man porting two large volumes was taking his place at the near podium.

Warbling from an old phonograph nearby was a cowboy song Homer had never before heard outside his father's ancient stack of 78s: "He turned his ol' belly right up to the sun. He sure was a sun-fishin' son-of-a-gun." Strawberry Roan.

Homer paused near a man wearing a superman outfit, in which the "S" had been replaced by "007." 007 was briefing a couple in medieval costume.

"The original 007 was John Dee, the leading scholar of the day, an occultist who served as a secret agent for Queen Elisabeth I. At that time--the Sixteenth Century--England was challenging the number one sea power Spain. Dee not only kept track of Spanish naval preparations, but also helped create a defeatist atmosphere by spreading the rumor, through personal astrological forecasts he prepared for the King of Poland and the Emperor of Bohemia--knowing the predictions would be repeated abroad, that storms would cause the defeat of a great empire in 1588. Throughout Europe everyone understood the `great empire' to be Spain, whose Armada was in fact defeated by the British in 1588. You might say it was simply a good weather forecast, but the prediction was widely believed and created a dearth of good sailors to man the Spanish ships. Powerful, effective propaganda. Dee also cast the Queen's horoscope and set the date for her coronation.

"Dee introduced cryptography into the spy network run by Sir Francis Walsingham, and signed his own occult communications 007, the number later adopted by Ian Fleming in his James Bond novels. Ian Fleming served as assistant to the director of British naval intelligence during World War II, and knew that Dee was one of the founding fathers of his own organization. It was Ian Fleming, incidentally, who in 1943 conceived of the plan to have Aleister Crowley question Rudolf Hess, when Hess made his famous flight from Germany to England. Fleming thought Crowley was just the right person to gather information on the occult activities of the Nazis."

"This John Dee was some sort of college professor?" the medieval woman asked.

"He was the most learned man of his time, not surprising considering his personal library contained almost ten times as many books as the Cambridge University library. Dee wrote the preface to the first English translation of Euclid's Elements, itself the most famous mathematical treatise in history. Unfortunately, Dee was smeared by the religious establishment because he devised a flying machine for a production of Aristophanes' play Peace. They couldn't understand how it worked, so they charged that Dee was in league with demons. He had also been imprisoned for a time by Queen Mary, because he was suspected of employing enchantments against her.

"Afterward, Dee was patronized by Queen Elisabeth, but when she died she was succeeded by James I, who was obsessed with witchcraft, even writing a book on the subject based on his personal investigations. He's the same King James who had the Bible translated into English. James' obsession with witches, incidentally, is the reason for the infamous King James translation, or mistranslation, `Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' Under King James, witch-hunters had full reign, and Dee was eventually forced to step down as Warden of Manchester College."

"So Dee was just a scholar, maligned because he was ahead of his time?"

"Well, to be sure, like most of the leading intellects of that age, he had a personal interest in the occult. Fascination with the occult also seems to be endemic to the intelligence profession. Through his scryer Edward Kelley, an Irish rogue who was nevertheless a genuine medium, Dee held conversations with diverse spirits. Some would later claim that Kelley used these channeling sessions as a way of manipulating Dee."

A slender girl wearing cat's ears moved past. She was hanging on to a pony-tailed behemoth in a Tuxedo. "Les vertus se perdent dans l'interet," she whispered pointedly, "commes les fleuves se perdent dans la mer."

The man at the near podium had begun to speak. "I refer you to the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, Final Report, July 1986, Volume 2.

"According to official U.S. government statistics, the magazine Teeny Tits, Big Boobs to Chew & Suck On contains, and I quote, `Thirty- seven photographs of a partially clothed caucasian female exposing her breasts and her vagina; Twelve photographs of a partially clothed caucasian female exposing her breasts and inserting a finger or fingers into her vagina; Four photographs of a partially clothed caucasian female exposing her breasts and her buttocks; Three close-up photographs of a caucasian female's vagina spread open with her fingers.'

"Ho hum, you say? Another nebulous piece of government sociometry, to be filed and forgotten along with the balance on merchandise trade? Not so! For independent surveys by private researchers indicate the magazine in question actually contains thirty- eight photographs of a partially clothed caucasian female exposing her breasts and her vagina. So why the miscount in this official document? Why the deliberate falsification of an important statistic?

"I submit that we have here before us one more example of government cover-up . . ."

Homer continued to circulate. A new record played on the phonograph: "Stray in the bunch, and the boss said kill it. I shot it in the rump with the handle of a skillet. Come a ti yi yippie, come a ti yi yippie yippie yea."

"You see, we had gone out to Bird-In-Hand and Intercourse to sample the shoo-fly pie," said a Horus-faced man sporting a mohawk.

Homer inspected the small group, paying particular attention to a svelte female in a bikini.

"Then in the afternoon we went back to her aunt's place near King of Prussia where they were having a yard party. It was mostly a group of wealthy, liberal, new-age Pennsylvania Dutch, and someone started talking about the new wave of Hitlermania in European publishing and how terrible it all was. You would think they were personally responsible for what happened in Germany in the 1940s.

"I found the fake emotion a little obnoxious, so I said one man's culture is another man's disease. First I said that the Nazis learned at the feet of the masters, that most of the evil Hitler did, he learned by reading the Old Testament. Genocide? I said. Where do you think Hitler got the idea? Yahweh told the ancient Israelites to wipe out every man, woman, and child when they conquered the land of Canaan he had `given' them. Kill a Canaanite, win a homestead. When once they spared a few people, Yahweh smote them for rebellion.

"Racial purity? Yahweh told them not to take wives of the surrounding peoples. Stay away from inferior goyish shiksas, Yahweh said. If that's not master race propaganda, I don't know what is, I said.

"The thousand-year reich? Hitler got that phrase from Martin Luther's translation of the Book of Revelation, which was an early Jewish apocalyptic work adopted as part of the New Testament canon.

"Now I was really rolling, so I told them that history was on Hitler's side. A United Europe? That's what Hitler wanted and it's all the rage these days with European left-wing intellectuals. Hitler took the one government, one economy, one currency idea one step further, and planned also for a common language. Now Europe's got it, although the language is English, much to the disgust of the French.

"A one-world global village? McLuhan was describing what Shicklgruber started. Technology accelerated under the Nazis, with the beginnings of space rockets and continent-wide electronic communication links.

"Then I got personal. I pointed out that some SS leaders were into vegetarianism and right-brained Eastern philosophy, not to mention consciousness-altering drugs like hashish, peyote, amphetamines and cocaine. Change your mind and you'll change the world. The SS understood that, or at least the leaders did.

"All in all, I said, Hitler was a man ahead of his time, a man of the 1980's, but suffering under the Neanderthal baggage he picked up from the Bible. Like many futants, he turned into a maniacal killer.

"That set them back, all right," Horus-face finished smugly.

"So what did they say?" asked the girl in the bikini.

"Oh, some of them were pretty pissed. They didn't believe that part about SS leaders being vegetarian."

There were large foam rubber cushions and bean bags arranged along the walls. Homer settled down on one, closed his eyes, and let the voices wash over him.

"I have this friend who works at a Philadelphia bank who's been mugged four times," a girl's voice was saying.

"Really? Four times?"

"Around that. He just looks like the archetypical chronic victim. He wears his body like a provocative sign: `Please don't mug me.' People see this guy coming from a block away, and get the instant urge to beat the hell out of him."

The voice at the podium continued: ". . . A group of dedicated men and women putting your tax dollars to good use, hours and hours of grueling work, watching pornographic films on your behalf, all in the interest of science and the future of America. Here, beginning on page 1573, is a listing of the actual films viewed and studied by the Commission."

The speaker began to enunciate the list in a stentorian voice. "A Coming of Angels. A Few Good Men. A Girl Like That. A Lacy Affair. A License to Thrill. A Little Dynasty. A Little Sex in the Night. A Married Man. A Matter of Size . . ."

With his eyes closed, Homer could perceive the sounds of the room as a single standing wave of energy, which pulsated and crackled. Then he detected a tremor, the arrival of a second modulating wave. Homer opened his eyes and saw the Goddess in the doorway.

As Trisha paused, surveying the room, a refreshments boy wearing yellow cap and jacket appeared. He obviously had instructions to approach every new guest. He was flustered by her presence but rallied to the occasion.

"Adam, Madam?" he asked.

Trisha raised her eyebrows.

"Ecstacy, MDMA. Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine returns you to the Garden of Eden. You see the world with new and innocent eyes. You gain an emotional empathy with everything around you. But you don't have to worry about dissolving into the cosmic glue, because it strengthens your ego and makes you feel good about yourself. You can think and dance normally, while having your heart filled with love."

The refreshments boy saw that Trisha was regarding him with amusement. It made him feel like a street preacher pushing Jesus.

"I'm always that way anyway," she said. "I don't need it. Besides, it inhibits orgasm."

"No, you wouldn't want that," he mumbled as she moved past him. He felt faint.

Trisha spotted an enclave with Colin Bass, the M.D. at Pennsylvania Hospital from whom she obtained prescription pharmaceuticals. The circle opened to admit her as she moved closer.

"In the late 1800's health faddists said you were supposed to eat natural, wholesome foods, get plenty of exercise, and abstain from sex," Colin was saying. "Good diet, good exercise, and good sex. Just like today, except proper sex then meant no sex. Kellogg's Corn Flakes, for example, were created by John Harvey Kellogg in the 1890's with the intention they would help eliminate harmful sexual desires. Mothers could perform no higher duty than to see their sons start the day off with a fresh bowl of antimasturbation corn flakes. Kellogg's own marriage to a nursing student at his sanitarium went unconsummated. Instead he spent his honeymoon writing a book about the evils of sex. On the other hand, he did have an orderly administer him an enema every morning after breakfast."

Behind her, Trisha heard a man's voice reciting a list of films. ". . . Debbie Does Dallas. Debbie Does `em All. Debbie's Fantasy. Debbi's Confession. Deep Chill. Deep Passage. Deep Roots. Deep Throat. Deep Thrust. Delicious. Deliveries in the Rear. Delivery Boys. Der Lang Finger. Der Perverse Onkel. Der Sex-Spion. Desire for Men. Desiree. Desiree Lane. Desires of the Devil. . ."

"Well," Trisha said, "medical malady or no, perhaps it's better to keep sex slightly immoral, non-casual, hence preserving its air of excitement and privilege for the aristocracy who dare defy the Gods."

"The next stage of sexual evolution is technological," pronounced a short curly-haired punk in a Rambo T-shirt. "Imagine this total environment, a multi-sensorily controlled bedroom, set up with biofeedback equipment and closed circuit holography, programmed to respond to your every mood and generate the ultimate sexual trip with real or imaginary partners."

"We already got that," Colin responded. "It's called the central nervous system and it can organize your experience into pretty much any shape you can imagine."

"Then something went wrong with my programming," a girl said. "The more sex I have, the less I like it."

"Remember you are the programmer as well as the program."

"So what should I do?"

"Maybe you should have less sex. Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that."

"But isn't the lack of sex the root of all evil?"

"No, you've got it mixed up." A man in horned-rim glasses spoke up. "What Freud said was the lack of a good analyst is the root of all evil. A good analyst will provide you with all the sex you need."

"Ever since I read Philip Jose Farmer's book The Lovers, I've wanted to have sex with an alien." Rambo again.

"Aren't you afraid of catching something?" Oriental girl, genuinely curious. "Some kind of galactic gonorrhea?"

"Many men after ufo observations report a soreness in the testicles," responded a big man in a Tux. "Maybe that's what they have. They're suffering the biological after-effects of an experiment in inter- species breeding."

"It happens to women too," the Oriental girl said. "I read about a woman in California named Marian Greenberg who became pregnant from extraterrestrials. She wrote a book about it. She hadn't had sex for months when it happened. It's like the sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were beautiful, and through them begatting the Nephilim. "

"Yes, I read that same story. But didn't she share a hot tub with this guy before she became pregnant? Maybe it wasn't extraterrestrials. It could have been subterraneans." Trisha.

As the group pondered the possibilities, Trisha looked across the room and saw Ezra standing in the door to the kitchen.

Following Trisha up 13th, Ezra sees her disappear into Dirty Frank's. He enters from the corner, and stands for a moment looking at the dingy tables and the beaten up bar. Redneck song on the juke box. In the back above the video games he sees cabinets, doors ajar, stacked with cases of beer. A baseball game is in progress on the blurry TV screen. The painted wall opposite is covered with pictures, in contrast to the dilapidated one behind him, which displays only Budweiser and St. Pauli Girl signs. Why don't they spread the pictures around, make it look classy, he wonders. Overhead fans circulate a general smell of disinfectant which permeates the room despite two doors open to the street. Ezra feels comfortable here. He walks around the bar to a spot near Trisha, who is seated at the table nearest the video games.

Also at the table is a man in a business suit, a mulatto girl, and a swarthy fellow with a small mustache. Ezra hears them call the suit man Eric. Eric has only stopped by for a few drinks. "I know my wife is going to kill me when I get home. She always yells at me when I get smashed," he says as he drains his glass. He smiles at Trisha.

"No wonder you drink, a bitch like that," the girl sitting beside him speaks up. "Here. Let me get you a cajun martini. That'll pick you up."

"Did I tell you about the hangover I had last week?" he asks her.

Keeping an eye on Trisha, Ezra feels in his pocket and finds he has enough change for a beer. He sips the brew and hears her say she is going to an old warehouse down near the bridge. Then she is out the door and into a taxi. Ezra grabs his bottle, rushes out to the street, and watches the cab disappear.

He drains the bottle and throws it into an alley. Then he walkes over to Market, down to 4th, and turns left toward the bridge. Some weirdly dressed people drive by, and he follows the car up the street. They get out in front of an old building. There is a bouncer at the door, checking tickets.

Ezra watches people go in for a while, then walks around to the back, finds an open window, and climbs through it into a kitchen. He helps himself to the shrimp until scolded away, then walks to the kitchen door and looks out into a large room.

Colin was speaking again. "That's right, the FDA's Recommended Daily Allowances are based on no scientific evidence whatsoever. Instead they calculated the minimum amount which will keep you from getting a known vitamin deficiency disease. Like scurvy. Say 20 milligrams of Vitamin C. Then they add a small margin, say 40 mg. So they set 60 mg of C as the RDA. There's not the slightest evidence that 60 is the optimal amount. Its based on the 19th century notion that you get all the nutrition you need from balanced meals--balanced meals being whatever the average Joe eats. So as long as you don't have scurvy you're getting the optimal amount of C, or whatever."

Settled back on his cushion, Homer was watching Trisha. Gradually the impression came to him that everyone was watching her. Not staring, just being aware she was there.

Two YMCA types had positioned themselves on the neighboring bean bag. "But if you're always looking for something, you'll never find it. Just when I thought I would be a bachelor all my life this girl comes along and I find we have a lot in common."

"I gave you numbers to call," the other one said.

"Yeah, but I don't like to pay for it."

"I know, but if you're going with girls and calling up other girls and paying for it, then you feel more relaxed. It's not like you're begging for it. You know my philosophy on that."

Now a couple was blocking his line of sight. Homer shifted so he once more had a clear view of the Goddess. If I can't have that woman, I'll die, he whispered to himself. But he was too cynical to believe either that he would ever have her, or that he would actually die from wanting.

". . . Hot Action. Hot Blooded. Hot Bodies. Hot Cars, Nasty Women. Hot Chocolate. Hot Circuit. Hot Close Ups. Hot Country. Hot Cunt Service. Hot Dallas Nights. Hot Dogs. Hot Dreams. Hot for Cash. Hot Fudge. Hot Girls in Love. Hot Gypsy Love. Hot, High, and Horny. Hot Jobs. Hot Legs. Hot Line. Hot Lunch. Hot Merchandise. Hot Nights & Hard Bodies. Hot Number. Hot Nurses. Hot off the Press. Hot Pants. Hot Pursuit. Hot Pink. Hot Rockers. Hot Roomers. Hot School Reunion. Hot Shots. Hot Spa. Hot Spanking. Hot Spots. Hot Spur. Hot Tails. Hot Touch. Hot Wire. Hot Wired Vanessa. Hotel Hooker. Hotline. Hotter than Hell. Hottest Hunks. House of Ill-Repute. . ."

The couple before him were engaged in an animated discussion.

"And what's more, you eat too fast," the girl said.

"I don't like to talk that much when I'm eating."

"And you walk too slow."

"I walk for pleasure, not exercise. When I exercise, I jog or work out in a gym."

"Besides you're in business. I don't think I could ever respect anyone who does that for a living."

"Jesus, Gloria, you're a nurse yourself."

"I'm helping people."

"Do you ever treat people who are in business? Or what about the hospital you work? Isn't that a business? What if no one paid their bills, or paid your salary?"

"You just don't understand what I mean. Because you never listen to me."

"I'm listening now."

"And you're always arguing. You argue about everything I say."

The man in horn-rimmed glasses was speaking passionately. "All the signs point to AIDS being a designer disease, engineered by genetic manipulation, and spread--by design or by accident-- under the cover of public innoculation. Look at the patterns. The incidence of infection in Africa corresponds to the precise location of the smallpox vaccination program conducted in the mid-1970's by the World Health Organization. And the appearance of AIDS among Haitians can be attributed to the same source, since there were 14,000 Haitians then on UN secondment to Central Africa who also received the vaccine. AIDS gets to New York City by a similar process--the Hepatitis B vaccine study in 1978. Six years later, 64 percent of those in the study had AIDS, and the percentage is probably higher now. Interesting enough, back in 1969 the Biological Warfare division of the U.S. Department of Defense requested funds at a House Appropriations hearing to develop genetically a disease that would attack the human immune system. What do you think happened? They got the money from Congress, the same idiots who are now being asked to spend funds on a cure."

We had barely gotten inside the door to the Mauvaises Arts Ball when Sheri had to rush off to the bathroom. While I was waiting for her to return, a waiter appeared. He looked at my Levis and running shoes.

"You look like a businessman," he said. "Perhaps some dimethyltryptamine?"

He offered me a platter with marijuana joints neatly arranged like carrot sticks. I assumed the DMT had been rolled into the ends of the joints.

"What else you got?"

"A mescaline mix." He indicated the peyote buttons in the wooden bowl in the center of the display. "These will reveal to you a small green man, Mescalito, whose photo appears on Peter Pan peanut butter jars, but who is occasionally mistaken as a little green alien from Mars.

"Finally, there are psilocybin mushrooms, the fungus of choice for discriminating shamans."

I took one of the joints and slipped it into my shirt pocket. In some parts of the country, it would have been tacky to help yourself to a little of everything. But this was Philadelphia, so I took some peyote buttons and mushrooms also. You never knew when an emergency might arise, or what you could trade them for.

There was a man on an elevated platform who had been reading a list of names. He now paused. "You must remember that despite the countless hours spent in viewing and analyzing this genre of film, it is a matter of record that no male member of the Attorney General's Commission experienced an unseemly erection, nor was any female member forced in the course of her duties to put on dry underwear. This in itself is testimony to the dedication and high moral purpose of the Commission." He returned to the recitation of the list.

". . . Piercing of Laura. Private Nurses. Private Party. Private Pleasures. Private Practice. Private Teacher. Prized Possession. Pro Ball Cheerleaders. Probation Officer's Discipline. Programmed for Pleasure. Project: Ginger. Prunella. Public Affair. Punished. Purely Physical. Puss N Boots. . ."

While waiting for Sheri, I looked around the room for Homer Nilmot, and amused myself by eavesdropping on the desultory conversations. Trans-Global had relayed the message that Homer would meet me here.

"If it weren't for Fred, I could have gotten my degree and really gone somewhere. I could be teaching sociology now."

"If it weren't for Fred, you would have flunked out of college in six months. Everybody knows your rush to get married was an excuse to avoid exams."

"Der volkische Staat hat die Rasse in den Mittelpunkt des allgemeinen Lebens zu setzen."

"I dreamed last night that I became the head of a nuclear power station. Only the reactor was missing. It was in some place like New Mexico, and everything was in a state of decay, with crumbling walls like those at an old castle I had seen near Salisbury in England. I, or a group of us, had stormed the place and taken it over, then I was in charge and I felt very confident. A military group came by with orders for an inspection, and I could barely repress a smile because only I knew there was no reactor to inspect. In addition they didn't know that the personnel had changed (that is, that we had taken over), and were under the delusion that I might actually care about their orders. But I let the leader of the group in to look around. There were also other people coming and going, and two girls showed up and started to accompany us on the tour. Then the girls were naked with white trimmings where their bathing suits had been. A guy and one of the girls began kissing, and I knew that the second girl and I would get around to that too. But then the first girl and I began kissing, and the second girl got angry. I soothed her feelings, and then they were both kissing me and I woke up."

"Science overthrew theology and assumed the post of infallibility. Now it cites the warfare of science with theology the same way the government cites the ideals of the Revolution. Tyranny reigns under the rubric of freedom."

"Joe definitely has the biggest mortgage in our office. He must pay three thousand a month in interest alone."

"I always thought he had that look about him. A man with a purpose, a man with responsibilities."

"Well he does. He got a thirty-year mortgage. He'll be paying on it till 2014."

"I wish my Arthur could do something like that. He has hardly any debts because he can't get any credit."

"An infinite set is a set that can be put on a one-to-one correspondence with a proper subset of itself. For example, the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, . . . can be matched one-for- one with the even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, . . ., since 1 matches with 2, 2 matches with 4, 3 matches with 6, and so on. The number n matches with the number 2n. Therefore there is a sense in which we can say that all the natural numbers are contained in the set of even numbers. In a similar way, a hologram can be matched with a proper subset of itself. Suppose you have a hologram of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fairmont Park. You can throw it all away except for a piece, but from that piece you can reconstruct the entire original hologram. Thus each part can be said to contain the whole image of the museum and the park, and the whole image can be examined by looking at only a tiny portion."

"He was the type of guy who was always spilling french fries in his lap."

"She was weeping and cursing when I vaulted into her brain."

"We can't get it all together. It is all together."

"I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."

"The classic double-bind theory of Gregory Bateson can be illustrated by the mother who tells her kid to quit imitating Johnny and to be himself. Of course the kid, left to himself, had the spontaneous inclination to imitate Johnny, but now he's told this is not being himself. Thus, by definition, he's wrong no matter what he does, and this circuit of insanity gets imprinted in his mind."

"Crotchless underwear?"

"If you look at a Cadillac today, and you look at a Cadillac tomorrow, there's a little bit of difference."

"That's true. You can't step into the same Cadillac twice."

"I just had a tissue donor from Doylestown."

"How could a boogey man be in my house?"

"Boogey men have lots of keys."

"You'll pay to know what you really think."

"Careful analysis by the President's Commission notes the paperback book Tying Up Rebecca contains, on the inside cover, an advertisement for Stallion Slo-Cum Spray. This official document states, `A photograph of the product is on this page and printed below the photograph is "Get it up and keep it up!" A three paragraph narrative explains its application and why it's needed. The price is $10.00 and an order form has been supplied on page 192.' "

Ezra stops a passing waiter. "Can you get me some of that slokum spray?"

"No, but I do have a nice mixture of cocaine and phenylalanine. It's rolled in a coconut macaroon for oral ingestion."

Ezra eyes the concoction. "How about a beer?" he asks cautiously.

"Sorry, hard drugs you have to buy yourself." The waiter points to the cash bar in the corner.

"Lawyers are living proof cowboys fuck sheep."

"Backward ran the sentences until reeled the mind."

"I was parked on Sansom street and someone vandalized my car, threw a rock through a window, left glass all over the inside. I called the police to report it, and they asked if anything was missing. I said no, didn't appear to be. Then it occurred to me it would be better to have something missing. So I said a camera, a Polaroid, had disappeared."

"Would Jesus take a urine test?"

"He said render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

"Well, whose urine is it, God's or Caesar's?"

"And now we come to the Attorney General's official synoptical review of the movie Forgive Me I Have Sinned.

"A male dressed in a robe is seated behind some lattice work with smoke surrounding him. The young girl, who is dressed in what looks like a parochial school uniform, stands on the other side of the lattice work.

"Who are you, she asks?

"Tell me about the sins of the flesh, the man says.

"What do you want me to say? The girl moves closer to the lattice work.

"You little fool. Tell me of your sins if you want to be forgiven.

"It was when Serena and I went camping. It was so much fun. The campfire was warm. I was so tired, my sleeping bag was so warm. I just went to sleep. I dreamt Serena was touching me.

"How was she touching you? How did she touch you?

"She touched my face. She touched me with her hands and her mouth. She kissed me. And then she moved her hands further down and I couldn't breathe.

"Tell me more how you've sinned. . . .

"She put her hands between my legs and I felt all warm and strange. . . ."

I worked my way to the far side of the room, where I spotted Homer Nilmot looking at a neon sign above the head of an intense young woman at a podium.

"Plainly put," the woman was saying, "the Mark of the Beast is a designation without which no man can buy or sell. Buying and selling requires money. Most money exists in the form of checking accounts. Ever try to open a checking account without giving the bank your social security number? Your SS number goes on your employment record, your tax record, your school record, and the data files for all your credit cards, your driver's license and your passport. It serves as a general universal identifier, a mark, which is computer coded to keep track of all your financial and other important activities.

"A social security number is just the embryonic beginning of the Beast system. At the European Economic Community's three-story computer complex in Luxembourg, an attempt is being made to assign every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth an 18-digit number, that is 6 + 6 + 6 digits. Interestingly, the computer complex itself is commonly referred to as `the Beast.' "

This was my kind of good rant. I liked this woman. She continued.

"I refer you to the eye-opening book, When Your Money Fails . . . the "666 System" is here, by Mary Stewart Relfe, Ph.D. The cover notes that this work has been called `one of the most astounding books of this generation,' by Colin Deal, author of the best seller Christ Returns by 1988.

"This fine work points out that that the first war ship which entered the newly re-opened Suez Canal in June 1975 carried on its deck Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and on its bow the number 666. It also says that all Arab-owned vehicles in Jerusalem must carry the license prefix `666' in order that Israel may be able to quickly identify the enemy if war breaks out. . ."

By this time I had reached Homer. All I wanted was to explain the trip to California--to continue the Jack Parsons investigation--and verify Trans-Global would pay expenses, a task I managed to accomplish despite acoustical chaos. The important work done, I indicated the sign above the girl.

"How about you? Do you know the Truth?" I asked.

"Yeah. Known it for years," Homer said.

"Has it make you free?"

"Not really. I had to fire my God because he wasn't doing his job."

Homer looked thoughtful. "When I was at college," he said, "sophomores would sneak into the restrooms some nights at the start of the school year, and put these signs above the urinals. On the signs would be a single biblical reference: I Kings 21:21. It was on old joke, but new Freshmen wouldn't have heard about it yet and would go and look it up."

"And what does the reference say?"

"Every man that pisseth against the wall shall be cut off."

"With respect to the number 666, elementary gematria reveals . . .," continued the girl at the podium. But gematria's revelation was aborted, for at that moment the room darkened, and a booming voice overrode all competition.

"Welcome ladies and gentlemen, not to mention all you idolators, whoremongers, dogs, insensitives, unbelievers, effeminate, abusers, sorcerers, despisers of government, fornicators, and blasphemers. And greetings, too, to those unclean, unsanctified, puffed up with knowledge, or holding political office. A toast to Apocalypse Culture! The End Time is here! It's here NOW! So tonight it's fitting that we begin the first annual Mauvaises Arts Ball with a prophetic PLAGUE FROM HEAVEN!"

A shower of hailstones fell from the ceiling. A woman near me shrieked as ice slid down her ample cleavage. Then the room went completely black, and from the four walls came a thunder clap, the voice of Grace Slick: "Every night I rock myself to sleep."

The song was over before a slight illumination reappeared. Just enough light to make out the facial features of the person next to you if you looked carefully. I felt a tug at my arm. It was Sheri and with her was another girl, of medium height, with a wild mane of hair that shot out in all directions.

I missed her name, but I caught the warmth given off by her body as we stood toe to toe for introductions.

As above so below.

Random thoughts kept popping into my head.

Sheri had left again to talk to a fellow Sub-Genius, the ranter with the inside scoop on the 666 system. For reasons unknown Sheri had set me up with the girl with the wild hair. Why, didn't seem important at the moment.

We began to dance. It was crowded and it seemed natural I would lace my fingers at the small of her back and pull her close. Angel means messenger. Her reaction was unexpected. She simply leaned her forehead into my shoulder and pressed her stomach and pelvis against me. We danced some more, body to body. She was wearing a strange perfume that was heady, erotic. What we require is an angelology of words.

After a while I slid my hands down on her hips, feeling their rhythm. She turned her face upward in invitation, and as I kissed her, she slipped her hand under my shirt and ran her fingers up and down my side.

Words are angels, independent carriers of soul. She unbuttoned my shirt. I shifted uncomfortably in my Levis, and started to pull away. But she adjusted to the motion, keeping her pelvis pressed against me as I stepped backward. The powder developed by Jack Parsons using roofing tar and sodium perchlorate was known as GALCIT 53. At this point I lost all desire to slow the course of events. In the darkness I began to roll her skirt up under my fingers until I reached the hem. Then I slipped a hand underneath the elastic of her panties, and caressed the cleavage between her hips. She shifted her right hand around to my back, clinging to me, standing on tiptoes and pushing her breasts forward. The slightest nudge would have toppled us over.

We were both breathing hard. I realized we were standing beside a cushion, and I sat back on it and pulled her down on top of me. I was dimly aware that we were not the only couple making use of the darkness. She sat astraddle my thighs, and began to unfasten my Levis. I rolled her over to the side and slipped a hand into her panties. She pressed against my fingers as I explored her body. If the present is intolerable, and the future is inaccessible, only the past can furnish models for change that can be communicated to a mass population with relative ease.

Then I pulled her panties off entirely, slipping them over her shoes. I leaned back on the cushion and pushed my Levis down to my knees, and she straddled me again and slipped me inside her. It was a slow number and we got into a rhythm of sorts with the music. Our life is less the resultant of pressures and forces than the enactment of mythical scenarios. I wanted to pull her dress completely off, but I yielded to prudence and contented myself with unbuttoning the front to caress her breasts. She had her hand down between us, exploring the connection, monitoring the thrusts, and massaging us both. Then she leaned forward over me, shaking her head from side to side in orgasm.

I was in no hurry. The longer this lasted the better. But she abruptedly pulled off me, then turned and took me into her mouth. By considering the personified archetypes as Gods, they become recognizable as persons, each with styles of consciousness or typical modes of apprehension. The insistance of her lips and fingers made me come almost immediately. I guess it was just as well, because the voice of the master of ceremonies intruded to state this would be the last number before the channeling session by Helen Morley. I pulled up my Levis and she buttoned her dress as the lights began to brighten. She gave me a kiss, and as she did so I spied her panties, which were still lying on the floor. She smiled when I handed them to her, and walked away carrying them in her hand. I watched her cross the room and exit through a door on the other side.

Finally I looked around me and I saw Sheri standing a few feet away, contemplating me behind an expressionless mask.

"Not I was the cause of this act, but Zeus and my portion and the Erinys who walks in darkness: they it was who in the assembly put wild ate in my understanding," I quoted.

"Helen can't channel unless she's just had sex," Sheri said matter- of-factly.

"That was Helen Morley?"

Sheri nodded.

"So what could I do? Deity will always have its way." But I couldn't help asking: "What if I hadn't been available?"

Sheri didn't bother to comment.

Later, after the lights had darkened, a there had been a moment's silence, Helen Morley began to talk about new light from the sun and the time of coming Earth changes.

It was weird and garbled stuff, but seemed quite in keeping with the rest of the evening.

"The Earth will begin to receive light with a new frequency. This increase in intensity of the frequency of energy will produce a different life, which will be lived in a different way from the one known today. This means that the cyle of life on Earth will be totally and radically changed, because of the inevitable mutations which will result at the electro-chemical- molecular level. Other forms will be given to the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Man will undergo a change in the force field which structures him."

She was talking in a microchip-simulated voice, like those in new model cars that tell you your seat belt is unfastened.

"Every man, as vivified by energy, has his own determined force field, which is the etheric body, or the soul--the psychic energy which structures the material form. The good quality force field of man is capable of bearing, without any damage to matter, any kind of change in freqency of energy, which determines a new time where different values exist. But if the organism is a chaotic vibrator of exterior effects, produced by excessive human emotivities (hate, malice, envy, egoism, hypocrisy, fear, etc.), the syntony with values of the Universal Force Field will then go though major distortions, distortions which would make any energetic power change unbearable to the cellular system.

"Survival, therefore, is for those who, by their spiritual evolution, have attained a physical structure and psychic frequency which harmonizes with the Superior Force Field coming from the sun in an energetic form. The increase in power of the energy coming from the sun will also produce a certain effect in the mental field of the humans: what is negative will become more negative, and what is positive will acquire a greater syntony. When this energy, which is spiritual, is in discord with the mind, a short-circuit is produced in the organism and certain fuses blow.

"This will lead to an exaggeration of violence and evil in general, a progressive degeneration of the remaining moral, ethical, social, religious, and spiritual values by which the human society is still structured. The few people whose individual force field is in syntony with the values of the Universal Force Field will have to struggle in order to keep away from the negative solicitations emitted by the human masses, who are caught in the crazy whirlpool of a destructive, uncontrollable, and non-preventable delirium."

"Sounds like she's talking about all of us," I said to Sheri. "The chaotic vibrators of exterior effects were driven to the Mauvaises Artes Ball."

"Yeah, well, what do you think about Helen Morley as New Age prophetess?"

"At least there's no ectoplasm. But she seems to be more interested in frequencies than freedom," I said. "I think I liked her better with her panties off."

I shut up then, because I saw that Helen was looking at us, as though in some supernatural way she had overheard our conversation. She began walking toward us--toward me--her eyes in a parallel focus, looking at a distant point beyond my head.

She stopped a couple of feet away. "They have given me a message for you," she said.

I waited, conscious of the watchful eyes of the surrounding people. When she didn't speak, I finally decided she was waiting for a reply.

"Okay, I'm ready for the message."

"You have to separate the wheat from the chaff," she said.

I started to laugh out loud, but then I realized the room had changed.

I was looking out a window, across a valley, to an adjacent hill. There before me were the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:08 am

Part 6: Exodus

From the window of his room in the King David Hotel he could see the walls of Jerusalem's Old City on the adjacent hill. The valley lying below, separating him from the Jaffa Gate, was Hinnom, better know as Gehenna or Hell. The prophet Jeremiah had predicted a slaughter in Hinnom, and the name had since become a metaphor for divine punishment. The valley extended to his right, southward, then curved eastward around Mt. Zion, where it would eventually meet the Kidron Valley below the archaeological ruins of the City of David.

Hell isn't so terrible, he thought. Just a lot of bad press.

The previous night he hadn't needed to play a role because he had felt like a bloody tourist. He had investigated the hotel bar, in search of companionship, but the few girls passing through were Americans primarily interested in New York-Jerusalem comparative shopping values. Then he had gone to a French restaurant where the service had been adequate, but the entrees were of mediocre quality and flagrantly overpriced. The wine list consisted of a smattering of domestic Israeli varieties that tasted like shoe polish. Afterward he had discovered the management wouldn't accept the local currency, the shekel, in payment: he had to use scarce dollars.

Next he had asked a cab driver to take him somewhere there was live music, and they had driven several miles in the fog to a club at the top of a mountain, where there was a dance floor and a three-piece band. He had sipped a sabra liqueur, and watched a youthful clique who were drinking, dancing, and occasionally retiring outside to smoke hashish. Then she had appeared, and he had forgotten why he was here.

"Where did the hotel say to go to hear a live band?" she had asked.

"Nowhere, really. They said there wasn't much in Jerusalem, because Jerusalem is a holy city. There is a disco or two, but as for live performances other than concerts, it's mostly just tourist shows consisting of folk songs."

She had laughed at the peculiar notion of holiness, the musical voice reverberating within the room. "In ancient times what was holy was demarcated by singing and dancing. Primitive religion was mostly about sex, which is the principal affirmation of life; and drugs, which are doorways to another world--the realm of Gods, spirits, and the dead. Both are properly experienced in the company of music."

At that point there was no way he would have refused her invitation. She had given him precise instructions.

Playing a role? He wasn't sure what he meant by that. Who he was and why he was here kept tugging at the edge of his mind, but whenever he turned his attention in that direction, it flittered away, out of grasp. At other times he had the impression he was someone else. But that, too, made no sense without a clear basis for comparison.

Now it was time. He turned from the window to pick up the paper sack, carefully closed the door of the room behind him, and walked down the red-carpeted stairs from the fourth floor. He pushed through the revolving door of the lobby, declining the doorman's offer of a taxi, and glanced briefly at the YMCA across the street before turning right down David Hamelech. After a while he turned to his right again, into a street that descended between rows of one- and two-story abandoned buildings before rising up to the outer wall of the Old City.

A stray cat ventured out of the rubble of a building into the edge of the sunlight. He paused to speak to it, glancing carefully back up the street as he did so. Then, as the cat scrambled away, he stepped into the dark interior of the stone structure and waited quietly for a few minutes. Cars passed occasionally in either direction but there was nothing else. He emptied the sack and quickly donned a cloak made from coarse brown cloth. Then he folded a kufiyah and fitted it on his head with an aakal made of stiff rope.

He crossed Yafo, entered Jaffa Gate, and joined a stream of similarly clad figures headed down the narrow passageways of David and Chain Streets, which were also crowded with merchants, shoppers, tourists and soldiers. The Islamic faithful, on their way to prayer, would pass on through the Gate of the Chain entrance to the Haram es- Sharif, the Temple Mount, where they would enter the western door to the Dome of the Rock. There, beside the Foundation Stone where Abraham had prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and from which Mohammed had ascended to heaven, they would kneel with heads pointed southward, toward Mecca.

Shortly before reaching the Gate of the Chain, however, he turned abruptly to the left, along El-Wad, and then turned left again on Via Dolorosa. Near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre he entered a doorway, walked across the room, and knocked at a second door.

After a moment the door opened and a hand pulled him inside. Without saying a word the heavily robed figure placed a hood over his head, shielding what little vision he might have had, and led him through a maze of corridors. When the hood was removed he found himself in a chamber where a candle revealed an opening in the floor. A wooden ladder descended into the rock. The figure pulled back the cloth from around its face, and he saw it was her. She motioned him to follow her down the ladder.

At the foot of the ladder the passageway continued its downward slope, then leveled off before reaching an open room that glowed with a dim blue light. He caught the smell of incense and the faint strains of a female vocal choir. He looked at the pillared walls and the perfectly formed statue in surprise.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"Beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," she said. "It stands on a spot previously occupied by a Temple to Aphrodite, erected by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This underground room, forgotten and hence preserved, is all that remains of the original temple."

He thought about the guided tour he had taken through the church above, in which was located Golgatha, the place of Jesus' crucifixion, as well as Jesus' tomb. A guide with candy on his breath had showed him a hole in the rock that, the guide said, marked the exact spot where Jesus' cross had stood. He had declined the guide's suggestion he insert his hand into the hole. He had, however, touched the headstone of Jesus' tomb for a special blessing after a priest had thrust a small cross and a flower into his palm. He had gotten the message: if you don't want to donate, don't visit our church. The guide had then shown him the key to the church's main door. The key was left in the hands of a neutral Moslem family to avoid jealousy among the Christian factions--Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic, Syrian, and Abyssinian--who shared property rights to the enclosed holy spots.

He felt a tightness in his chest as he gazed on the statue of Aphrodite, then looked at the opposite wall which was clearly of recent construction.

"Come," she said, "and I will show you the newly restored functional area of the Temple." She turned a key in what appeared to be a door of solid copper, and they stepped into a warm, incense-filled room, which was dimly illuminated by colored lights reflecting off the walls and casting their hues onto the patches of steam floating in the air. The ceiling was formed of pieces of mirrored glass fitted at varying angles to generate an undulatory kaleidoscope. He did not recognize the language of the choir, but the music had a haunting, sensuous quality.

She bade him relax on a small pile of cushions. "The attendants will tell you what to do." He watched her leave through another door, then looked about him carefully. He monitored his internal senses, but felt in no danger. Even the tension that had dogged him constantly from his arrival at Ben- Gurion Airport was gone. He noticed a decorated Greek vase on a small table. He got up to look more closely, and saw it was a picture of a naked hetaira, standing, but leaning forward with head down. A man was entering her from behind.

Curtains parted and a young girl clad only in a short terry- cloth robe stepped inside carrying a goblet on a silver platter. He suddenly felt overdressed in the heat of the room. She kneeled beside him, holding out the platter. He took the goblet and lifted it to his lips. It was warm red wine, surprisingly good. She smiled encouragingly at his small sips, so he quaffed the remainder and returned the goblet to the tray.

In a moment the attendant had returned with the cup refilled, and with another girl. This time the tray was set by his side, and the two girls began to help him out of his clothes. They wrapped a large towel around his body, then left him to finish the wine. The dim light had taken on a bright crystalline pattern and the smell of incense had become strongly erotic. He realized the wine contained a psychedelic.

The liquid spread soothingly throughout his body, and he settled deeper into the cushions. He recalled William Blake's reference to the soul's five windows, and noted his own had grown larger, sucking in a rich bouillabaisse of light, sound, taste, touch, and smell.

After an indeterminate interval the two girls returned and led him into an adjacent room with a large sunken bath. When he was fully immersed, they disrobed and joined him on either side. They rubbed his body with soap. He leaned back against the sloped back of the bath, enjoying the exquisite touch of their fingers on his muscles. He was some ancient creature, floating on the ocean surface, the sun warming his skin. Then an electric shock went through him when the hands began to lather his genitals, temporarily jolting him back into the exterior world.

One of the nymphs smiled at his swelling member, and he looked at the curve of her brow, the delicate neck, and the brown nipples on the small breasts. She looked something like Theresa, that day hiking along the crest of the hills, when she had leaned back against a large rock, laughing, taunting him to take her in the bright sunlight. So that's what he had done, slipping off her panties, and lifting her dress to press against her, later turning his head to the side to look out over the Mediterranean as he came.

Now the video is rolling as they rinse off the soap, and begin to methodically cover him with a clear perfumed liquid. He sees the pavement rushing toward him as the car weaves through the Judean hills on the road to Beersheba. At the West Bank checkpoint the soldiers look at the plates on the car and wave him on through. He passes by rocky hills, seeing occasional roadside produce stands and young boys on donkeys herding goats and sheep, till he turns off at Hebron, the burial place of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, where David is anointed king and lives for a time with his six wives, but he is not here to see the monuments.

Then they lead him through an entrance surrounded with myrtle branches into a third room with a floor covered with thick rugs and bid him kneel on a small cushion. He realizes he is in the principal room of the temple--it feels vaguely familiar--the floor around him strewn with rose petals. He sits back on his heels with his hands on his knees. The room is dark save for a muted light that silhouettes a statue of Aphrodite. This one is life- size, larger than the one he sees on the split-screen of previous time, the light going out for a moment, then reappearing. He can see a faint aura around the statue of the Goddess, and he shifts his head to see it better from the sides of his eyes, then feels the surge of adrenaline as the statue moves.

The room becomes somewhat lighter as the Goddess approaches, and he can see her skin glistening with a light coating of oil. He runs his eyes over her torso, the breasts full, the belly perfectly formed. He drops his gaze to the thighs topped with a triangle that seems to sparkle with gold. She is stopped a few inches away, smiling down at him. He stares at her pubis, feeling the heat from her body, smelling her sex. Lines echo in his consciousness. His own words? Someone close to him?

Stab your demoniac
Smile to my brain!
Soak me in cognac,
Cunt and cocaine.


He is on fire. In other circumstances he might feel ridiculous, kneeling like this, a projection from his own body pointed in the air, now seemly too expansive, like a terracotta lamp of Priapus with its extended, exaggerated phallus, the end set aflame and hung in a doorway telling evil spirits to fuck off. But he is here to worship and by Goddess that's what he intends to do. As she speaks to him with words he does not understand, and the voice of the choir rises, he reaches out grasping her hips, pulling her forward, and runs his tongue over and into the golden hair. She places her hands on his head, and then sits and lays back as he works his way upward to her lips. Her lips melt away like a soft marshmallow sauce, then return firmer and she is biting his lower lip. Now he has fused with this Goddess, and as she wraps her legs around him he realizes he is no longer certain of the boundaries of his own body.

Slipping down the side of the mountain into deeper and deeper snow, this winter's crazy stunt. The snow is suddenly up to his chest, then a whoosh as it collapses beneath him. He is holding himself wedged against the icy walls of the crevice looking down, straining, ripping off a glove with his teeth and clawing at the rock, trying to pull himself up and out, his feet kicking uselessly below. The agony of working upward a half-inch at a time, a shouted primal defiance of gravity pulling him down. Then the sudden knowledge that slowly, slowly, he will make it, finally rolling out to the side, and being flooded with the terror there is no feeling in his hand. He plunges it inside his clothing against his chest until finally the first searing needles spread though his fingers.

The tension still builds. He is at the exam, his Senior year, having worked all night with only an hour's sleep. He notes with satisfaction the logical working of his mind, producing the answers in lock-step fashion. Until he looks at the clock and realizes he is actually in slow motion, working at a rate that will allow him to finish half the questions at best. Everything is there--the insights, the recall of facts, the intuitive sense of the expected answer. No mental blocks, no panic at unfamiliar material, just the overwhelming fear that he is going to fail because his mind is working too slowly. Straining at his brain, a special kind of mental pressure that he exerts in dreams when he is flying, holding himself aloft and moving forward as though propelled down an inclined plane, but keeping a uniform distance above the earth. Making his mind work faster, his hand write faster, looking at the clock, feeling a dull fire running up and down his back, until out of the blue on the last question--there isn't the slightest tumescence in his penis-- he is suddenly convulsed in orgasm. He sits there in surprise, then looks guiltily at the surrounding students still immersed in their exams, and wonders how he is going to hide the stain on his trousers as he leaves the room.

In the Pacific off Malibu he feels the motion toward the shore. He has never spent enough time at this to be any good at it, but now miraculously, with no need to paddle, the board is moving forward, upward, following the swell of the building wave. He is standing as the foamy wave crests--a wave you never get in Malibu--and looking at the watery canyon below, his feet like magnets drawing the board into him till it becomes a living extension of his body. Now he begins the downward slice through the liquid, the sole of his board adjusting to subtle shifts in pressure, and he accelerates, riding the foam. The exquisite pleasure surges throughout the neural network, delivering a lusty joy to the outposts of his body, and he realizes all his life he has been waiting for this one moment, this one supreme second when he is completely attuned to the rhythms of life and the forward motion of the universe. Then, as he rides the wave, the spray rising up around him, he feels the special tightness in his chest, a tension like he is physically contracting his pectorals, but not that. His armpits are like hooks grasping at the air flowing around him. Then he catches the flow and rises off the board. He is flying, surfing the air, exactly like the dreams, except now he is fully awake.

He looks down at the curiously entwined bodies, which disappear as he rises through the thick clouds and out into the starry blackness. He cruises the edge of space, the planet above and below him absorbed in its own retrograde motion. And he knows now this is what it is all about.

Here in the open frontier he is free at last.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:08 am

Part 7: Sex and the Single Succubus

I had made it to the office around eleven o'clock in the morning, and we had worked steadily since then. Sheri's expert on Scientology turned out to be Trisha, and Sheri had filled in some gaps with her over the phone. Sheri summarized:

"Here roughly is the chronology so far. Jack Parsons shows up at Cal Tech in 1936, age 21, wanting to build space rockets. The GALCIT project is initiated. At this time L. Ron Hubbard, age 26, is off somewhere writing men's action-adventure stories, pulp westerns, and so on. Hubbard doesn't write his first science-fiction story until 1938, about the time that Hap Arnold of the Army Air Corps appears at the GALCIT laboratory in Pasadena wanting to know if rocket research could help him with the problem of air strips which were too short for takeoff of modern military planes.

"Parsons supposedly learns about Aleister Crowley while taking a couple of night classes at USC. He and his wife Helen join the Los Angeles branch of Crowley's O.T.O. in 1939. While pursuing magic, Parsons is also working with Theodore von Karman, Frank Malina, and Ed Forman at Cal Tech, and he and Forman are working for the Halifax Powder Company in the Mojave Desert.

"The Army Air Corps takes over sponsorship of the GALCIT project in 1940, and Parsons spents most of his time developing jet- assisted takeoff units.

"Meanwhile L. Ron Hubbard also goes go war. What happens there is all part of Hubbard's Navy record, which gets released to a Scientologist named Gerry Armstrong under the Freedom of Information Act in 1981. Hubbard gets into the U.S. Naval Reserve in July 1941, as a Lieutenant, using various letters of recommendation out of which he has fabricated an apparently bogus past. In the Naval Reserve he first writes public relations articles, and then takes Intelligence Officer training in New York. He gets bumped out of Intelligence after his first assignment, because he is considered unreliable. He is always trying to draw attention to himself and impress others with his importance, and turns in reports which read like, and may have been, pulp fiction. Eventually he goes to anti-submarine warfare school in Miami, and gets appointed Commanding Officer of a submarine tracker, the USS PC-815, but has his career sidetracked again when he spends several days dropping depth charges on what the Navy concludes is a magnetic soil deposit. Hubbard also shells a Mexican island (target practice, he says), and Mexico lodges an official protest.

"Back in Pasadena, Parsons leaves his position as head of solid- fuel rocket research at the Army Air Core Jet Propulsion Research Project in 1942, and devotes his full time to similar work at Aerojet, the new company he helped found. His friend Ed Forman does the same. Parsons is experimenting with drugs at this time, as illustrated by a poem he published in 1943 in the OTO's Oriflamme:

I hight Don Quixote, I live on peyote,
marijuana, morphine and cocaine,
I never know sadness but only a madness
that burns at the heart and the brain.
I see each charwoman, ecstatic, inhuman,
angelic, demonic, divine.
Each wagon a dragon, each beer mug a flagon
that brims with ambrosial wine.
"He is also building up the Agape Lodge. His technique may have been similar to that of his mentor Wilfred Smith. The latter's technique was described by another member of the lodge, Louis T. Culling, in his book A Manual of Sex Magick. Culling refers to Smith under the name `Frater 132'. When Smith started the Los Angeles O.T.O., there were only eight members. He would invite visitors to observe the performance of something called the Gnostic Mass, during which he would have sex with as many different women visitors as possible. During sex, he would concentrate on the idea that he was transmitting into them a psychic force of attraction to the O.T.O. His paramour did the same with the men visitors. As a consequence, within one year the lodge membership had grown to eighty-five.

"Parsons takes over as head of the California O.T.O. in 1944, after Crowley expels Wilfred Smith for turning the lodge into a love cult. Living with Parsons at this time is `Betty', or Sarah Elizabeth Northrup, who later marries L. Ron Hubbard. She is an beautiful, blond eighteen- year-old USC coed when she moves in with Parsons, after her sister, Parsons' wife Helen, leaves with Wilfred Smith. Parsons encourages Betty not to be monogamous in her relationships, saying that jealousy is a base emotion.

"Now about that mansion. Parsons owns the place at 1003 S. Orange Grove, as well as the adjoining carriage house where his laboratory is when he dies. He inherits the property from his father. He subdivides the mansion into apartments, keeping the two largest rooms for himself. These also serve as the Agape Lodge for O.T.O. meetings. He puts an ad in the paper that only `Bohemians' need apply to rent his apartments, so he had basically artists, actors, and people like that staying there.

"By war's end in 1945, Parsons and Forman have sold out all of their Aerojet stock to General Tire, though Malina and von Karman still own half their shares. Meanwhile, L. Ron Hubbard ends up the war in a naval hospital in Oakland, Calif. He has an ulcer. He devotes his time trying to convince the V.A. he should be given a full disability pension, claiming various ailments, war wounds, and so on. By this time, Parsons is possibly familiar with Hubbard's name, because sometimes the people at his place sit around discussing the latest science fiction stories, criticising ideas and techniques.

"A science fiction illustrator named Lou Goldstone introduces Hubbard to Parsons. Goldstone often visits at Parsons place, and one day he brings Hubbard with him. According to a letter Parsons wrote Crowley in July 1945, he had met Hubbard about three months previously, and Hubbard had been living with him in the house at 1003 S. Orange Grove for a couple of months.

"Parsons and Hubbard first hit it off really well. Eventually they have a falling out over a business with some boats. Trisha says that Hubbard and boats always spelled trouble. She says that when Hubbard wrote his first hardback in 1937 (a book entitled Buckskin Brigades) he got a check for $2,500 and rushed out and bought a small boat, the Magician, despite a pile of unpaid bills.

"Anyway Parsons, Betty, and Hubbard start a company called Allied Enterprises. They sign the papers in January 1946. The purpose is to buy boats on the East Coast and sell them on the West. Parsons puts up nearly all the money, about $21,000. Hubbard kicks in $1,200, while Betty free rides.

"In the meantime there is heavy tension between Parsons and Hubbard. Although Parsons and Betty have had other bed mates in the past, Parsons has a strong streak of jealousy when Betty devotes herself exclusively to Hubbard. So Parsons sets about seeking another partner. He wants more than just another girl friend. He wants a `scarlet woman', a magical partner with whom he can beget a `Moonchild.' The Moonchild will be the incarnation of a God, and Parsons has in mind one prophesied in The Book of the Law. His scarlet woman shows up in the form of the artist Marjorie Cameron.

"Meanwhile Hubbard and Betty head off to the East Coast with $10,000 of Allied Enterprise money to purchase the first boat. Hubbard calls from Miami and says they've bought a yacht called the Diane. Then Parsons doesn't hear anymore from them, and after a while gets alarmed. He goes to Miami to discover that Allied also owns two schooners, The Blue Water II and the Harpoon. Parsons can't find the lovebirds, so has someone watch the schooners, and one day gets a report that the Harpoon is pulling out of the harbour. This is when he does a ritual to the spirit of Mars and a squall drives Betty and Hubbard back to shore.

"Parsons files suit in Dade County court and gets back two of the boats, and part of the third, and dissolves Allied Enterprises. He goes back to Pasadena. This is July 1946. The love birds Betty Northrup and Ron Hubbard sell their share of the third boat and get married on the East Coast. This is while Hubbard is still married to his first wife."

"What does Parsons do with his boats?" I asked.

"No information." Sheri continued: "Hubbard goes off and writes Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which is first serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1950."

"What is the relation between Hubbard and Parsons during this time?"

"Apparently they had no contact. Hubbard spends a good bit of time in Laguna Beach, and in Los Angeles after the publication of Dianetics. But there is no indication they saw each other again, after Allied was dissolved in July 1946."

"Do we know where Hubbard was when Parsons died, in June 1952?"

"Hubbard seems to have been in Phoenix, delivering lectures on Scientology to the Hubbard Association of Scientologists. By this time Dianetics had already been superseded by Scientology."

I felt again the twinge of disappointment. We had been over this before and it had negated one working hypothesis. I had toyed with a title for the report to Trans-Global: "Scientist Slain by Scientologist." But I should have known the job wouldn't be that easy.

So much for Hubbard. I would have to look for another villain.

"What year was it Parsons wrote the poem?"

"1943." She recited it again.

Parsons was ahead of his time. I thought about the date. The timing was coincidental, of course, but 1943 had been a pivotal year in the history of psychedelic drugs: Albert Hoffman had discovered LSD; the OSS had started experiments with marijuana; and the SS had tested the effects of mescaline.

At Sandoz in Basel, Switzerland, Hoffman had been examining derivatives of ergot, the rye fungus. He had apparently absorbed some d- lysergic acid diethylamide through his skin while changing a filter paper. He became not unpleasantly drunk and found his mind displaying a series of vivid images. To test the theory LSD had caused the experience, he deliberately took 250 micrograms--which he thought a very conservative dose--and embarked on a three-day trip.

The Office of Strategic Services, meanwhile, had been looking for a truth drug that would make people talk. In early 1943 it had decided the most promising among the ones tested was cannabis indica, and began trying it out on personnel from the Manhattan Project. The Project, the wartime effort to construct an atomic bomb, had a high level of security. Concentrated oral doses of marijuana made the subjects throw up, but when smoked in a mixture with tobacco made them mellow and loquacious. The first field test took place on May 27, 1943, when an OSS agent supplied marijuana-injected cigarettes to the New York gangster August Del Gracio. The OSS had been talking to Del Gracio about Mafia cooperation in keeping the waterfront free of enemy agents, as well as help in preparing the Allied invasion of Sicily. The test was a success: Del Gracio babbled on and on, revealing secret details of the drug trade.

The Schutzstaffel doctors at the Dachau concentration camp were more interested in control than confession. The SS was looking for a drug to turn unruly people into spineless zombies. Mescaline didn't do the trick, even though it made some people reveal their innermost secrets: the covert hostility of the inmates simply became overt.

Later in the 1950s the CIA, the OSS successor agency, had also searched for drugs useful in agent control, and had funded through foundation grants the bulk of LSD research. With the cooperation of Eli Lilly and Sandoz, the two LSD manufacturers, the CIA monitored or controlled worldwide LSD distribution for the rest of the decade. As part of the testing, interestingly enough, the early researchers in the CIA's MKULTRA project agreed among themselves that a co-worker could slip them LSD at any time. It made for hazardous duty. One co-worker was slipped LSD at the morning coffee break, and fled fearfully out of his office and across the nearby Washington Mall. He crossed the Potomic into Virginia, and hid under a fountain to escape monster cars.

I rubbed my eyes and looked at Sheri. There was still the issue of Crowley's or Parsons' (or Homer Nilmot's) connections to intelligence agencies. Here the record was murky and our best information was only moderately reliable.

Theodor Reuss, the world-wide head of the O.T.O. who gave Crowley a commission in 1912, was apparently an agent for the German Secret Service as well as a journalist. With Crowley himself the record was more ambiguous.

Crowley was turned down for an job in British Intelligence at the beginning of World War I because he was too controversial (although Crowley claimed it was because he wasn't sufficiently stupid). Crowley subsequently wrote for the German-American poet and publisher George Sylvester Viereck. Viereck thought the American press one-sidedly British, and took it upon himself to rectify the balance. He published The Fatherland, a weekly which expounded Germany's view of the European war, and The International, a literary journal that he also gave a pro-German orientation. His efforts were generally approved by the rest of the media up until the U.S. entered the war against Germany in 1917. Typical afterward was the view expressed by one previously- sympathetic editor, who called Viereck "a venom-bloated toad of treason."

Crowley began to contribute articles to both periodicals in 1915 after a trip to New York. Whether or not Crowley's primary intent was to act as an agent provocateur, as he claimed, and to undermine German propaganda by carrying it to excess, his devotion to the cause was clearly tongue in cheek. Privately he expressed the opinion Viereck would do anything for money. Crowley's cynical view of the war ("we have waited a long time to smash Germany and steal her goods") and opposition to British Imperialism impressed Viereck, however, and in 1917 Crowley became the de facto editor of The International. Crowley seized the opportunity to get into print a lot of his unpublished stories, poems, and essays, including a series about a detective named Simon Iff.

Crowley's pro-German and pro-Irish writings caused consternation in Britain, but not in America because, according to Richard Deacon in A History of British Secret Service, Crowley was supplying information to American Intelligence. But, if Deacon was correct, to whom and about whom was Crowley reporting? In 1915 President Wilson had instructed the U.S. Secret Service to set up a unit to spy on suspected German agents. The unit had stolen documents relating to Viereck's activities and had leaked them to the New York World. If Crowley gave information to the Secret Service regarding Viereck or anyone else, the fact was not shared with the FBI, for later, in 1942, J. Edgar Hoover used Crowley's previous association with Viereck as a basis for denying him entry into the U.S. Crowley himself seemed to imply he supplied information to someone concerning Theodor Reuss, the "Outer Head of the Order," an O.T.O. position Crowley later assumed himself in 1922.

In the 1930s Crowley roomed in Berlin with Gerald Hamilton, a German spy. Deacon indicates that, being friends, they concocted reports on each other: Crowley's reports on Hamilton going to MI5, while Hamilton's reports on Crowley went to German Intelligence.

Sheri had shown me a picture in The Book of the SubGenius in which two individuals, one from the political left and one from the political right, are snarling and fuming at each other, while J. R. "Bob" Dobbs surreptitiously picks both their pockets. You could imagine Crowley and Hamilton doing something similar: milking the system for their own purposes.

As World War II approached, both the Germans and the British became suspicious of occult organizations. Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi SS, thought the Rosicrucians were a cover for the British Secret Service, though it was in fact through independent astrologers that British Intelligence scored one of their greatest coups. The Third Reich's Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolph Hess, relied heavily on the advice of astrologers, and in 1941 a plan conceived by Ian Fleming of Naval Intelligence was executed using faked astrological forecasts to lure Hess to Scotland, where Hess expected to negotiate with a pro-German political circle. Hess was captured, but the British subsequently failed to exploit the event for propaganda effect, because British higher-ups feared there really was a pro-German clique within their own government.

Then there was Crowley's relationship to Maxwell Knight, the MI5 officer who alleged served as model for Ian Fleming's "M" in Fleming's James Bond stories. Knight was introduced to Crowley by the occult writer Dennis Wheatley. In a biography of Knight entitled The Man Who Was M, Knight's nephew is quoted as saying his uncle told him that Knight and Wheatly went to Crowley's occult ceremonies out of academic interest in black magic. Wheatley was doing research for his books, so Knight and Wheatley, the nephew said, "applied to Crowley as novices and he accepted them as pupils." The biography indicated that both Wheatley and Knight had apparently found Crowley disappointingly normal in one respect: he was well-dressed and had the voice and manner of an Oxbridge don.

* * *

"The Phallus is the physiological basis of the Oversoul," wrote Aleister Crowley. From my conversation with Homer Nilmot, I gathered that Lyndon Johnson would have agreed. The President thought he had the Vice-President's Oversoul in his pocket.

I decided to stop by Dirty Frank's on the way home. I was thinking about A.C., since I was assuming at this point that Jack Parsons' beliefs were the same as Crowley's, once updated a generation and translated to California. (A big transition, to be sure.)

Aleister Crowley's magic was based on that of John Dee, the Elizabethan mage. Crowley even thought of himself as a reincarnation of Edward Kelley, the sometime rogue who served as Dee's scryer. That is, it was Kelley who received the channelled revelations which Dee recorded, just as it was another Kelley-- Rose Kelley, Crowley's wife and the sister of a future President of the Royal Academy--whom the alleged being Aiwass used as a medium to prepare Crowley to receive The Book of the Law in Cairo in 1904.

What Dee called angels, Crowley called preterhuman intelligences. These intelligences resided in other dimensions, and humans could interact with them to human benefit. Anyone could do it, Crowley indicated. But of special importance were those whom Crowley termed "The Secret Chiefs," a group of superhumans who were in constant contact with certain of these intelligences, and who were concerned with the spiritual progress of mankind.

I was sitting at the bar having a draft when my thoughts were interrupted.

"Yo, brother."

A bearded man of medium height and build was grinning at me. He was sitting at a booth with a companion who had one forearm wrapped in a bandage.

I looked at him inquiringly.

"You got to separate the chaff and the wheat," he cackled.

The extended campaign of mind-fucking was beginning to annoy me. I looked at these two characters. They didn't look like members of a vast conspiracy, but you never could tell.

I finished my beer and left.

Much of Crowley's magic was devoted to establishing communication with various nonhuman beings. He found sexual magic more efficacious than other methods he had tried, and after 1914 most of his rituals involved Bacchus, Aphrodite, and Apollo. Bacchus was invoked by wine or by what Crowley called the "elixir introduced by me to Europe": fruit juices mixed with an extract of peyote. Ether, strychnine, and cocaine could also be used, the latter with "prudence." Apollo was invoked by the tom-tom, the violin, or the organ. Aphrodite was invoked by auto-, hetero-, or homosexual acts.

Crowley seemed to think that sex was an independent force. He would have disagreed with William Sargant, who had implied that such rituals work only by changing the consciousness of the participants. But theory was less important than the fact the rituals produced observable results. Sex magic was described by Crowley in Of the Nature of the Gods, Of the Secret Marriages of the Gods with Men, and Liber Agape.

The opus, or Work, of sexual magic, was explained using the traditional terminology of alchemy. In an act of magic, the erect "wand" of the magician might be introduced into the "privy chapel" of the woman. While the magician concentrated on the goal of the Work, the couple would then spend at least an hour at the altar, exulting in love, before performing the "Sacrifice of the Mass," or coming to orgasm.

The "Gluten of the White Eagle," or female sexual secretions, mingled with the "Elixir of the Red Lion," or male sexual secretions. The mixture was allowed to undergo a transmutation in its natural alchemical furnace for a few minutes. It was then consumed in its entirety by the magician.

It couldn't be any worse than eating yogurt, I suppose.

Spirits were contacted using the talismans and invocations of John Dee's Keys of Enoch. The magician would recite the invocation of a particular Key, and then masturbate over the talisman while concentrating on the ruling spirit of that Key.

The creation of a Moonchild was covered in Crowley's novel of the same name. The operation was an attempt to get a nonhuman spirit, such as a planetary spirit or a God, to incarnate into a human body. Jack Parsons had endeavored to produce a Moonchild with Marjorie Cameron, and had undoubtedly followed Crowley's instructions carefully. The key factors seemed to be that the prospective parents have appropriate horoscopes and copulate continuously in a ceremonial manner toward the desired goal. After impregnation took place, the woman was to immerse herself and her thoughts in an environment consistent with the Work: "Let the mind of the woman be strengthened to resist all impression, except of the spirit desired. Let the incense of this spirit be burnt continually; let his colours, and his only, be displayed; and let his shapes, and his only, appear so far as may be in all things." In addition, the spirit was to be invoked through daily rituals in the magician's temple.

Crowley believed any developing fetus began as just a lump of protoplasm. Only after three months or more would it attract a soul for which it would form a suitable vehicle. It was at this point of incarnation that the couple would, if the Work of Magick was successful, bar the gate against any human ego and bring about the incarnation of some non- human being.

Thus was the Moonchild begotten.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:09 am

Part 8: Conservation of Momentum

I took a cab to the airport. The driver was a mass of jelly, rolling from side to side in his seat as we turned corners. He breathed heavily and kept the CB turned up, chuckling at the dispatcher's comments.

In the air I tried to get comfortable in the confined seats. After the exhilaration of takeoff, flying is as much fun as sitting inside a circus cage.

I slept for a while, then woke when they brought through the breakfast service. I inspected the eggs and regretted I wasn't in First Class.

I read the paper for a while. A member of the Gorilla Anti-Defamation League had written a letter to the editor, decrying the "media transformation of peaceful, docile herbivores into stereotypically vicious, aggressive King Kongs."

There was a story about an ex-magician named Awesome Amos who went around debunking the results of scientific experiments. Recently an experimental physicist had claimed to have captured on film the passage of a magnetic monopole. This was a hypothetical particle which had only a single polarity--a magnet with just a south or a north pole.

The Awesome Amos said the alleged photograph of a magnetic monopole was faked. The reason was obvious: magnetic monopoles didn't exist. The Awesome Amos could produce an equivalent photograph with one hand tied behind his back, he said. The monopole "trace" had appeared on a photographic negative deep inside a cave. "Put me in a cave," said Amos, "and I'll get you a full-color photo of a Penthouse model."

The temperature was 84 degrees coming into L.A. shortly before 11 a.m. L.A. was my old stomping ground, and it felt good to be home. I went by the Hertz counter, then took the Hertz bus to the lot on Airport Boulevard. I drove the T-Bird down to Manchester, then took the 405 freeway to the Wilshire exit and Westwood.

I went into the Old World Westwood and had a Belgian waffle for breakfast. Some Swedish businessmen at the next table were getting briefed by a native. I think he said Nicky Blair's and Spago were trendy spots. And when the weather gets rainy, he feels it in his elbow and wrist.

Heading back to the car, I walked by a store called Alexandria II, and went in and bought a book by Paul Williams about Philip K. Dick. The SF writer intrigued me because he thought he had communicated with extraterrestrial intelligence, and had written a couple of novels based on the experience: Valis and Radio Free Albemuth. I got the car out of the parking lot and caught the Santa Monica and Pasadena freeways east.

I took the South Orange Grove exit in Pasadena. I drove slowly, looking for the 1071 address where Parsons had died. It was on the west side of South Orange Grove, between Arlington and Madeline Drive. Whatever used to be there wasn't any longer, 1071 to 1079 being an apartment complex called The Georgian.

I parked the car and walked down Madeline, which was lined with large palms. I crossed Grand, and then I could see the Arroyo Seco through an opening in the trees. Some houses sat on the incline into the Arroyo. They were buried behind cactuses and tropical plants, with rooftops level with the street. I turned right on Arroyo Boulevard, which skirted the edge of the gully. Eventually I passed a small wall lined with stones. Below, through the trees rising up from the bottom, I could see a horse path, and beyond that the Arroyo's far side: a sharp wall of vertical sand capped by trees and brush.

Just before I reached the old San Rafael bridge, I found a trail formed partially from a buried set of stone steps which wound its way through overhanding brush to the bottom of the Arroyo. A couple of miles further up would be Devil's Gate Dam, where the GALCIT group--the Suicide Club--had done their early rocket tests. The birth place of both American and Chinese missiles.

I walked along the Arroyo's sandy bed under the bridge. Among the graffiti at the base of the bridge was a large drawing of an eagle whose wings overarched the legend

DEUTCH LAND

spelled just like that. Along with a couple of swastikas.

A man and a woman rode by on horseback, and saw me looking at the drawing. "That's pre-Columbian artwork," the woman commented in passing.

I realized she was partially correct, although the skinhead artist probably hadn't had that in mind. I recalled once when I had purchased Rudyard Kipling's book Under the Deodars in a used bookstore, I had been startled to find an encircled swastika along with Rudyard Kipling's signature on the front cover. Doubleday, Page & Company, of Garden City, New York, had thought nothing of putting out an authorized edition with an imprinted swastika in 1911. I had later seen swastikas in the British Museum on Greek silver plates from the 3rd century B.C, and on Bronze Age pottery in a museum in Vienna.

I continued to walk up the Arroyo. To walk along this part of the Arroyo was an experience in time reversal. The city disappeared. And if you ignored the concrete sluice that ran along one side of the bed, you could imagine little had changed from the days the Arroyo had supplied acorns and water to the Gabrielino Indians.

Apparently it wasn't so dry back then.

This whole area, extending from South Orange Grove, where I had been looking for Parsons' old address, down into the part of the Arroyo above the San Rafael bridge, had once formed part of Busch Gardens, one of Pasadena's biggest tourist attractions before it closed in the depression of the 1930s. Then the Bohemians had moved in. And the kids who were determined to send rockets into outer space.

I followed a path that lead out of the Arroyo to California Boulevard. I walked by a house behind which was a garage apartment. A bare-chested man was standing out front, hosing down the lawn. Back at South Orange Grove I turned right and looked for 1003, the erstwhile address of the headquarters of the California O.T.O. If it had still existed, it would have been almost at the corner with Arlington, but now the nearest adjacent numbers were 995 and 1021.

I got into the T-Bird and drove on up the street, past the Wrigley Mansion where the floats for the Rose Parade lined up in starting formation each New Year. I turned south down Green Street, and made my way to the Pasadena Hilton, parked in the garage, and carried my travel bag through the hotel to the lobby. I got a room on the 10th floor overlooking Los Robles and downtown Pasadena.

There was something eerie about being in Jack Parsons' hometown. He was starting to feel real. I felt a tinge of excitement. But, for some unknown reason, there was also a faint sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

* * * * *

Trisha was lying with her legs crooked over the end of the couch. She was wearing shorts and halter.

If I went for girls, I could really go for this one, Sheri was thinking.

"What you need is an inflatable body guard," Trisha said. "One of those blow-up virile young studs who look tough and scare off other mammalian aggressors."

Sheri had been accosted on the street, and she was somewhat upset.

"I should of thought of that before going to Carolina's. Anyway, I could hardly saunter down Locust dragging a rubber Rambo."

"A little misdirection helps. You succeed through symbolism. Hitmen for Ialdabaoth have been hanging around my family for generations, ever since they ran Araunah off the threshing floor."

Sheri considered this in puzzlement. "Come again?"

"Thank you, I'm sure I will. A second coming, as it were."

"Tell me what you're talking about."

"I'll tell you a story, but first a little song and dance," Trisha said, swinging her legs up and off the couch. "Why don't we get out of this heat trap?"

"If we're going out, maybe we should pick up Helen down the street."

"Yeah, we wouldn't want Morleykins overdosing on her own excremeditation. She can amuse/confuse us with more Dog Star doggerel."

"You sound as if you doubt the utility of Helen's channeling."

Sheri herself had little opinion on the matter. She thought of herself as the quintessential observer. A collector of observations. She viewed Helen's channeling with the same detachment that she might give an automobile turning a street corner.

"She's passing off metaphysical re-runs as the new fall season."

"You've heard her stuff before? Where?"

"Would you believe me if I told you?" Trisha's lips bore the trace of a smile. But only a trace.

"Damn it, Trisha. You're driving me crazy."

Down the block a ways, they ascended the steps and knocked at Helen Morley's door.

"It's not me that's crazy," Trisha replied. "I don't spend my days holed up in Hermes' stacks, sorting through the obituarial effluvium of twentieth-century three-brained semi-consciousness."

"I like what I'm doing. Besides, you're the one that told me about the job. If I'm crazy, it's by your contrivance."

"The invisible hormone at work. Hello, Morleykins." Helen stood in the doorway looking pretty in pink, the All-American girl.

"Greetings and salivations," Trisha continued. "Sheri and I were wondering if you would like to go out and engage in some Old Age carnality. Say we visit my old friend Bacchus."

"You want to see Helen do something carnal," Sheri said, "you should have seen her at the Mauvaises Arts Ball."

"Right, Morleykins. The word is out that your behavior reinforces the adage that women should be obscene and not heard. One should beware of psychopomps bearing gifts."

Helen shrugged, not understanding the allusion: "Channeling is not good or bad per se, but whether you channel good or bad spirits."

"Environmentally speaking, one woman's channel is another woman's Love Canal," Trisha replied. "According to Xenocrates, the daemons are intermediate hierarchies of beings between man and the One. Each planetary spirit, for example, is a living being. Each person also has his own ruling daemon which always has more influence than any other daemon: the person's own Holy Guardian Angel."

"I have nothing to do with demons."

"Neither did John Dee. He was always hurt when people accused him of sorcery. After all, he was only talking to the angels. It's all a matter of semantics. On one occasion the angels suggested that Dee and his scryer Edward Kelley swap wives, which they apparently did."

"The angels neither marry nor give in marriage," Helen said. "That doesn't mean, however, they don't have sex."

"How right you are, Morleykins. Straight and narrow, yeah, tight is the path that leadeth to righteousness. The Immaculate Conception is conceptual emasculation. And here we are at the Bacchanal."

"Am I dressed for this?" Helen again. "I could go back and put on a black leather mini-skirt."

"Bacchus was never picky about clothes. When in doubt, take them off."

"Who wants to propose a toast?" asked Sheri, when the libations arrived.

"To the Age of Horus," Trisha responded. "To the Crowned and Conquering Child."

"The Age of Yuppies, you mean."

"No, first was the Age of Isis, the age of Goddess worship and matriarchy. The came the Age of Osiris, the years of patriarchy, with the solar-phallic Gods. These Gods, like the phallus, would die and rise again: Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, Jesus, Mithra. Finally, this century saw the beginning of a third age, the Age of Horus, the warrior God successor to his parents. A time of androgyny, whimsy, and cruelty: childhood years."

"Who said this was the Age of Horus?"

"The subject of your employer's fancy: the Great White Beast himself."

"Who are you calling Beast: Hermes or Aleister Crowley?"

"To tell the Thoth, I'm not actually sure."

"Where does that name come from, `The Beast'? Or `Beast 666'?" Helen wanted to know.

"According to Crowley's official court testimony, the `Beast 666' means `sunlight.' `You may call me Little Sunshine,' he once said."

"Not a very good name to scare Christians with: Beware the Little Sunshine Power arising in Europe!" Helen mused.

"That happens in 1992," Sheri said. "I read the prophecy in some book. `Final barriers to commercial intercourse are removed in the European Economic Community. Then all nations drink of the wine of Babylon's fornication! No man may buy or sell absent a gold-backed ecu!' But seriously, let's face it: can anything good come out of Europe? The only European tourists I see around here are culturally backward nitwits. Or maybe it's just that intelligent Europeans stay home cultivating their vineyards."

"Speaking of tourists, I'm going to L.A. tomorrow," Trisha said.

Sheri felt a chill. "Why are you going to L.A.?"

"I must be about my father's business," Trisha replied.

"You have a father? I thought you sprang full-grown from the head of Zeus." Sheri wasn't able to hide her sarcasm.

"No, that was sister Athena. War Goddesses don't fuck. Athena remained virginal, like Joan of Arc, and devoted her energy to killing off men. It's fitting she was cerebrally born with the help of Hephaestus's axe."

"Life would be so simple if there were only one Goddess. And, of course, her Only Begotten Daughter."

"Monotheism has got to be history's dumbest idea," Trisha said. "It was started by that crazy Egyptian, Akhenaton, who decided there was only one God, the Sun-God Aten. The virus got spread around, by Moses and Mohammed among others, and the world's been infected since with deadly strains of Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, and Moslem mono. One God, One Way, One Truth, One Country, One Flag, One Mind, One World, One Art, One Flavor, One Purpose, One Race, One Sex, One Scripture, One Party, One Music, One Relation, One Process, One Orifice, One Sense, One Geometry, One Literature, One Idea, One Channel, One Energy, One Mass, One Frequency, One Horn, One Devil, One Marriage, One Life, One Orgasm, One Savior, One Sheriff, One Virgin, One Element, One Duality, One Origin, One Money, One Time, One Beast, One Path, One Law."

"At least we know there is more than One World," Sheri responded. "There is a multiplicity of parallel universes. In some of these, Schrodinger's Cat died for your sins."

"Sheri's going to give us a lecture on physics," Trisha commented dryly.

"The key question is, Who Killed Schrodinger's Cat? In Schrodinger's experiment a cat is enclosed in a box with a radiation detector. If random radiation arrives the detector activates a mechanism which breaks open a vial of poisonous gas, which in turn kills the cat."

"That's a rather gruesome experiment," Helen said.

"Now before you open the box, the quantum wave function contains a superposition of states. There are states in which the cat is alive, and states in which the cat is dead. The cat is both alive and dead."

"Sounds like a cat, alright."

"But when you open the box and look, it's either one way or the other. For example, you open the box and you see the cat is dead. What killed the cat? According to one interpretation, it was the act of observation that collapsed the wave function into a single eigenstate. Since in this eigenstate the cat is dead, clearly the observer killed the cat."

"Now I understand why in the old days kings slew the bearers of bad tidings," Trisha said. "If a messenger had chosen the wrong eigenstate, he had it coming to him."

"According to another view--the many world's interpretation--the act of observation splits the current universe into a multiplicity of different universes. In some of these universes the cat is dead, while in others the cat is still alive--just as indicated by the original quantum wave function."

"That's a lot of universes. But what good does it do you if in the current universe your cat's dead."

"Well, there's always the comfort that in some other universe some other you possesses a living feline."

"What we need is Schrodinger's Rat to gnaw a tunnel between those two universes." Trisha.

"That would be convenient, but confusing. Imagine the shock you would give the other you, when she met her doppleganger petting a dead cat."

"Imagine her shock when I switched my dead cat for her living one," Trisha replied. "But, being me, she would understand."

"How do you know the other you is a `she'?" Helen wanted to know.

"Because you were a `she' before the box was opened. It might be different, however, at the moment of conception. If the universe splits at that time, the polarities might be reversed in some of the alternative worlds." Sheri.

"Seems I've heard this before. You split open Adam's side, and out steps Eve." Helen.

"You split open Eve's side, and out steps Adam. Next you have an orgy with yourself and fall into a post-coital depression." Trisha.

"According to some Gnostics, the Fall of man was the fall into the physical world, the descent into matter," Helen said.

"The Gnostics always had material hang-ups," Trisha responded. "Which proves they needed physical therapy. What is the significance of spirit and light without matter and darkness? That's precisely what's wrong with New Agers. They don't understand that existence is the interplay between dualities. All things fornicate all the time."

"The Fall," Sheri interrupted, "was the emergence of self-consciousness: Adam and Eve saw their nakedness and they were ashamed. According to Julian Jaynes in The Emergence of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, prior to about 1000 B.C. communications from the brain's right hemisphere were received as auditory hallucinations and were interpreted as messages from the Gods. This process ended when man became conscious in the modern sense, i.e. self-conscious."

Trisha wrinkled her nose. "That theory ignores the fact people are still getting as many messages from the Gods as they ever did, maybe more. Moreover it retains the arrogant academic metaphysical belief that man--particularly any full professor--is the highest evolved intelligence in the universe, and hence must have created the Gods."

"Maybe that's what the Apocalypse is all about: an academic plot to destroy the Gods by annihilating the human race."

"Or it could be simply a further evolutionary stage of self-consciousness. We are going to enact the End of the World so we can watch it happen on the evening news."

"The End of the World is the end of consensus reality. Everyone becomes apocalyptic when their everyday assumptions are violated: the subway goes on strike; the president is discovered to be a crook; your daughter is sleeping with an alien."

"Better that she's sleeping with a migrant worker than being used for breeding purposes by humanoids from the Crab Nebula."

"There are Christians who believe in a `Secret Rapture'. Maybe that's what alleged abductions by space aliens really are: the Christian secret rapture. Only the true believers didn't know their God was interested in warm bodies for medical experiments. Promise them paradise and they'll line up in front of the labs."

"The Apocalypse could be the revenge of Gaia," Helen interjected. "Mother Earth is destroying the virus of human civilization, and will continue to do so as long as it threatens her existence."

"But suppose human civilization is the brain of Gaia. Wouldn't the brain kill the body before launching a direct attack on itself?" Sheri asked, looking at Trisha. Sheri was herself uncertain why she wanted confirmation.

Trisha thought for a minute. "It's possible. But suppose human civilization is Gaia's asshole. Then we're in for some heavy shit for sure."

With that thought, the three called for more libations.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:11 am

Part 9: Paradise Lost

Gravity was reversed, so I had to climb head-first down the ladder and through the narrow passageway to reach the room that glowed with a weak blue light.

The warm and moist smell of the sea permeated the cavity. I could feel a pulse coming through the borders (walls?) of the room.

"What is that sound?" I asked someone.

"We're vibrating at 7.83 Hertz," the voice said. Then I was alone.

I looked around and saw a statue. For some reason it created an undefined longing. I looked closer.

Then it moved, and as my heart rose to my throat, the room went dark. In fear I reached out, feeling the wall for a light switch. Finally I found one beneath my fingers. I flipped it on. The room remained dark. I flipped it again. Nothing. Then, seized with a sudden terror, I forced open my eyes and turned on the bedside lamp.

I sat up and looked around in confusion, then slowly remembered I was in Pasadena, in a room at the Hilton. The bed coverings were damp and twisted.

The dream still had a physical presence. It felt familiar, like something dreamed once before and since forgotten.

After a while I turned off the lamp and went back to sleep.

* * * * *
In her seat on the plane, Trisha ignored the stares of the man across the aisle. She looked at the slip of paper in her hand.

Gravity is the arch-enemy of successful rocket performance.


It had been one of her father's favorite quotations, taken from the Journal of the American Rocket Society, April 1940.

There are many types of freedom, she reflected. Her father had viewed them all of a piece. Freedom meant getting off the planet: escaping from the gravity well. Freedom also meant the right to live the Bohemian lifestyle he preferred. To him, separating these notions into separate spheres, disciplines, or areas of academic or social discourse was absurd.

He was right, of course. She had searched through his manuscripts for years, trying to understand. And one day she had discovered the answer. The same Great Tyrant who had driven their ancestors off the family farm, so to speak, centuries ago, was also the Being that kept mankind imprisoned and exiled on an out-of-the-way planet circling a Type G star.

Because of the Great Tyrant's theft, there had followed century after century of bloody warfare. Trisha sighed. All this over a piece of Middle Eastern real estate.

Well, her father had had his reasons for wanting a moonchild. She had her own.

* * * * *
At the Pasadena Public Library I parked behind a car whose bumper informed me sex cures headaches and his other car was a piece of shit too.

The library had microfilms of two local newspapers published in June 1952: The Pasadena Independent and The Pasadena Star-News. I was trying to get a clearer picture of what happened the day Parsons died, looking for anything not reported in the clippings I had gotten from Homer Nilmot.

The Independent for June 18, 1952, cost five cents. The front page headline read:

BLAST KILLS CHEMIST
MOTHER ENDS HER LIFE

House Torn Apart by Explosion


There was a picture of City Patrolman L.D. Harnois inspecting the debris of the destroyed apartment at 1071 South Orange Grove. The story said Parsons had moved from that address on June 1, and he and his wife Marjorie were staying at 424 Arroyo Terrace--where his mother had a summer position as caretaker-- while preparing to leave for a trip to Mexico. Parsons had gone over to the South Orange Grove apartment to gather up some of his supplies.

In the Los Angeles Times article I had read previously, the chronology had jumped from the explosion to Parsons being pronounced dead an hour later at Huntington Memorial Hospital. The Independent filled in some chilling details.

"Parsons body was literally torn apart by the chemical blast.

"The explosion blew off his right forearm, tore a gaping hole in his jaw and shattered the other arm and both legs. He was still conscious after the blast."


Two upstairs occupants, Mrs. Alta Fosbaugh and Salvatore Ganci ran down and found Parsons pinned under two heavy washtubs and one wall. They were able to free him.

Martin Fosbaugh, Mrs. Alta Fosbaugh's son, said Parsons had been experimenting in order to produce a "super" fog effect for motion pictures.

"Several boxes of highly dangerous chemicals were found outside the building, apparently placed there by Parsons a few minutes before the blast."


Parsons could have removed the boxes from the apartment, or taken them there for storage, or anyone else could have.

When informed of her son's death, Parsons' mother became hysterical, began drinking heavily, and was given nembutal tablets. She said: "I can't stand to live without my son; I simply adored him." She said she "had a gun upstairs," and then committed suicide by taking the rest of the pills.

There were a few details about Marjorie Cameron Parsons, Jack Parsons' Scarlet Woman and then his wife. She arrived at 424 Arroyo Terrace unaware that her mother-in-law had just died.

"Stoic in the face of her double loss, she told investigators she and her busband were to leave last night on a pleasure trip to Mexico. The hallway of the two-story Arroyo Terrace mansion was crowded with their packed baggage."


By the following day the rumor mill had gone into action. The front page headline in the Thursday, June 19, Independent read:

LINK LOCAL BLAST VICTIM
WITH WEIRD CULT RITES


There was a picture of Parsons on the front page. The caption read "John W. Parsons . . . spiritual seances?"

The story was based on ten-year old police files.

"John W. Parsons, handsome 37-year-old rocket scientist killed Tuesday in a chemical explosion, was one of the founders of a weird semi-religious cult that flourished here about 10 years ago.

"Old police reports yesterday pictured the former Caltech professor as a man who led a double existence--a down-to-earth explosive expert who dabbled in intellectual necromancy."


After engaging in some corny psychological speculation that Parsons was "trying to reconcile fundamental human urges with the inhuman, Buck Rogers type of inventions that sprang from his test tube," the article noted:

"Back in 1942 Pasadena police received a letter from San Antonio, Tex. The writer, who signed himself `A Real Soldier,' asserted that a `black magic' religious cult was being conducted from a house at 1003 South Orange Grove avenue."


Located at that address was, of course, the headquarters of the California Ordo Templi Orientis as well as Parsons' apartment at the time.

I wondered about the identity of the "Real Soldier." San Antonio?

The Independent article stated the house had been leased to Parsons "and his wife Marjorie" on June 26, 1942. The reporter had the wrong wife, of course. Parsons was still married to Helen Northrup in 1942, and had never met Marjorie Cameron. But possibly Jack and Helen Parsons had first moved to that address in June 1942. Or had Parsons inherited the house from his father then?

After police received the anonymous letter, Parsons was interviewed by Det.-Lt. Cecil H. Burlingame. Parsons said he and others had formed a fraternity which would discuss philosophy, religion, personal freedom, and fortune telling.

Two years later police investigated a minor fire at the house and found books and pamphlets about a "mysterious `Church of Thelema.'"

"Police made no further attempt to probe Parsons' bizarre personal life."


That was reassuring. At least the Pasadena police had the good sense to mind their own business.

After the explosion, cartons of PETN and trinitrobenzine had been removed from Parsons' lab to Ft. MacArthur. Parsons had told a neighbor he was making fulminate of mercury commercially and the current batch would be his last.

Parsons was correct on that account.

Friday's paper reported the funeral under the headline "Hold Secret Funeral Rite for Parsons." Then on Sunday, June 22, the headline read "Police Drop Probe of Death Blast."

"The case is closed as far as we're concerned," Det.-Lt. Cecil H. Burlingame declared." He said a statement by George W. Santmyer "isn't sufficient to warrant us reopening the case."

This was obviously referring to Santmyer's statements reported in Saturday's Los Angeles Times. Santmyer, who had worked with Parsons on a naval ordinance project, had suggested "someone else" had strewn explosive materials around the apartment at 1071 S. Orange Grove. The Pasadena police weren't interested in pursuing that.

I didn't find anything else in the Independent. This was 1952 and people were preoccupied with U.N. troops battling the Reds in South Korea, and with the upcoming presidential elections: Eisenhower and Nixon were running for the Republicans. The front page headline on June 24 announced:

TINY BOX TELLS WHO CAN
LIVE OR DIE IN ATOM RAID


The accompanying article referred to the device as a chemical radiation detector, a "colorimetric dosimeter."

"Every Californian may some day wear one around his neck like an Army dog-tag, according to plans under consideration of state civil defense officials."


Strange world. These were the same people who thought Parsons belonged to a weird religious cult.

I turned my attention to the Star-News, and followed its version of the story, starting again with Wednesday, June 18-- the day following the explosion. The article implied that all four, not just two, of the upstairs residents had pulled Parsons from the debris after the explosion at 5:08 p.m. He had been found lying under a 2-tub laundry fixture.

After dragging Parsons free, they propped him against one wall, where he was found by the city ambulance crew.

"Parsons methodically directed his rescuers, while being loaded into the ambulance."


I thought about that. About Parsons, his limbs shattered, his right forearm blown off, methodically directing the ambulance crew.

Parsons was born Oct. 2, 1914, and was the son of Maj. Marvel H. Parsons and Mrs. Ruth Virginia Whiteside. He had attended the University School in Pasadena.

There were a number of written notes found in the destroyed apartment.

"The notes, most bearing chemical symbols, but a few carrying philosophical and religious references, were found on the blast- shattered ground floor of the structure."


One partially torn note said: "Let me know the misery totally. And spare not and be not spared. Sacrament and Crucifixion. Oh my passion and shame--."

This was probably jottings for a poem, like the one Parsons had written for Oriflamme.

Others concerned industrial explosions. One read: "Texas City Disaster Report. 433 dead. 128 missing. (The explosive) cannot be detonated with rifle bullets, blasting caps, or dynamite."

The details of the other notes weren't given, but the article summarized: "There were other notations about the disasterous electric-plating firm explosion which killed 15 persons in 1947 and another at Parsons' own Aero Jet plant, in which eight died."

Thursday's Star-News: "Ironically, it was learned that Parsons had been a member of the coronor's jury which investigated the 1947 explosion of a Los Angeles electroplating company which killed 15 workers."

The Saturday, June 21, Star-News reported on Santmyer's statements. Santmyers indicated Parsons was operating a small explosives manufacturing plant in Fontana, and was exploring the possibility of a Mexican branch of his factory. But Parsons' wife Marjorie said no, they were just going to Mexico on a pleasure trip.

The report was bewildering: "Santmyers told press representatives that he specifically wanted to quash reports that Parsons was the victim of a murderer or that he practiced weird religious rites.

" `Jack was the kindest man I've ever known,' Santmyers declared. `He hadn't an enemy in the world.' "

At least part of the statement was plausible. Parsons' problem was he was too nice of a guy. Back in 1945, he had let L. Ron Hubbard move in with him and live off his charity, while Hubbard triffled with Parsons' girl (even if Parsons didn't believe in monogamy) and plotted to steal Parsons' money. Parsons should have shoved Hubbard down the steepest incline of the Arroyo Seco.

But the rest of Santmyer's statements were puzzling. The Pasadena police had assumed from the beginning that Parsons' death was an accident. The reports in the Star-News, the Independent, and the Los Angeles Times all implied accidental death also. The first public indication that there was a problem with the common interpretation was the story of Santmyer's remarks as given in the Saturday, June 21, Los Angeles Times--the report of a "death angel."

Even so, the police had said in the following day's Independent that Santmyer's remarks were not sufficient to reopen he case: meaning the police had interpreted Santmyer as asking them to do just that. But the same day Santmyer talked to the Los Angeles Times, he told a Star-News reporter that he was trying to kill two rumors: the rumor Parsons was murdered, and the rumor Parsons engaged in "strange" religious practices.

Santmyer was protesting too much. There hadn't been any public implication that Parsons was murdered apart from the remarks of Santmyer himself. It certainly wasn't the Pasadena police who had raised that possibility. So who had? Who were Santmyer's denials addressed to? It might have been the Army Ordinance experts at Ft. MacArthur. They could have found suspicious circumstances surrounding the explosion at 1071 S. Orange Grove.

In addition, the ten-year old police reports only hinted at the truth about Parsons' "religion", which was one of the tales Santmyer was attempting to quash. Perhaps the other rumor Santmyer was trying to spike, the rumor of Parsons' murder, also had a basis in fact.

Homer Nilmot had not sent me on a wild goose chase.

Theodore von Karman had said the FBI had questioned him about Jack Parsons. Clearly other investigations had gone on than just the one by the Pasadena police.

Parsons' death had sparked a lot of unusual attention accompanied by curious denials. It had all the hallmarks of "national security." The real investigation would be conducted outside the media (and public) spotlight
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