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.

Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:17 am

Part 20: Manuscript Found in an Urn

The girl kept crossing and uncrossing her legs nervously and winding strands of her long blonde hair around her fingers. Like someone he had known in high school. He was surprised she wasn't chewing gum.

David Wilson involuntarily glanced up at her. Mistake. She suddenly froze like a deer in headlights, then crossed her legs once, the knees coming apart just slightly wider than demure. She stared straight at him with set apart blue eyes as though looking through him and beyond.

He cleared his throat. "And you found this manuscript where?"

"In a cave." She smiled brightly as though she knew how crazy it sounded.

"Stuck on a stalagmite?" he asked sarcastically.

"No. In an urn. Like at Qumran."

He nodded knowingly. He had no doubt she had written it.

"Let me guess, psychology major, minor in English. Or vice-versa."

"No. Classical literature." She smiled brightly again as though to show no offense had been taken at his getting it wrong. "And anthropology."

"Margaret Mead, huh?"

"No. She made all her stuff up. Innocent natives having unencumbered sex. She just wanted to get laid." The girl cocked her head slightly to one side, not smiling now. "In an academic way, of course."

Wilson wondered what getting laid academically meant. He was afraid to ask. Maybe one of his colleagues had put her up to this. A psychology experiment targeted at other psychology professors. He cleared his throat again and pretended to be paging through the manuscript for the first time. But he had already puzzled over it all night.

She had left the manuscript, with a note, in his department mailbox.

"There are some anomalies," he begin cautiously. "For instance, here it says that Aleister Crowley thought he was the reincarnation of John Dee. Was that just a mistake the main character makes in his hasty research into Jack Parsons' background? For, of course, Aleister Crowley actually thought he was the reincarnation of Edward Kelley, among others."

She looked at him haughtily. "He most certainly did not. Yes, Crowley wrote that. But he was always pulling the leg of his followers, whom he would laugh at when they took him seriously."

Wilson was startled at her confidence. Her tone of authority. He found himself looking over her face, and down the graceful curve of her neck to her breasts which would suddenly strain against the front of her blouse as she spoke passionately. In spite of himself, he was getting turned on. In an academic way, of course.

"John Dee was a scholar, Crowley was a scholar," she continued. "John Dee was a secret agent, Crowley was a secret agent. John Dee used a scryer Edward Kelley, Crowley used scryers like his wife Rose, Victor Neuberg, and others." She tossed her head. "And much more. Of course Crowley identified with Dee, not with Edward Kelley."

"Well, even if he identified with Dee, it doesn't mean he didn't think he was the reincarnation of Edward Kelley."

"Reincarnation is identification." She looked at him as though daring him to argue with her. Definitely one of my colleagues, Wilson thought. Maybe Petrograd had put her up to this. That crazy Russian was always getting defense contracts to do weird things.

"Who did you base the character Zak on?" Wilson asked suddenly.

She didn't appear to notice the implication. "Yeah, what was that all about?" She smiled again now. "I guess people still hear voices in this day and age."

More than you think, Wilson thought to himself. With the Babalon Working Jack Parsons had torn a hole in the fabric of space-time, and something had flown in. Now it seemed an alien current was slowly possessing the entire human race. Whether you thought this was good or bad depended a lot on your point of view.

"This would appear to be a description of my office," Wilson said, glancing around. "You've been here before?"

"I told you I didn't write it," she said coolly.

"But this is supposed to take place in what? In 1987. I've only been here three years. Since 1996."

"I was told you would find it interesting."

"By whom?"

She began to twist hair around her fingers again.

"Oh, by a friend."

Wilson could feel the electric current in his groin. She was—. What was she doing?

"Well, I would like to keep it another few days, if you don't mind." Wilson had already made a copy. But he wanted to make sure she returned, if only to pick up the manuscript.

"Sure," she smiled. "Well, I won't take any more of your time." She stood abruptly, smoothed the front of her skirt, and turned toward the door.

Wilson remained seated. He didn't want his erection to be obvious. You could lose your job for stuff like that these days, he was thinking.

"Who do you think killed Jack Parsons?" he asked.

She turned and looked at him as though he had committed an indiscretion. "In the latter days, a man's enemies shall be those of his own household," she said.

Wilson pondered this. "I didn't know they included the New Testament in classical literature these days."

"They don't. Anyway, I was quoting the Zoroastrian prophet Zaratust. From the Bahman Yast. There will be wars and rumors of war, signs in the heavens, earthquakes, plagues. All this was written 600 years before Jesus."

She closed the door quietly behind her.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:17 am

Part 21: Leaving Mecca

"No, Mohammed left Meccah, he didn't go to Meccah."

Dean looked at Zak with exasperation. It bugged him that Zak knew so little of the Middle East—maybe some Jewish history and a little about Israel and that was it. The American disease.

"The Hijra was when Mohammed left Mecca and went to Medinah, or Yathrib as it was known then. Moslems date their calendar from this event: Year 1 for the Moslems, but 622 A.D. in the West."

"I thought Moslems made a pilgrimage to Mecca," Zak said. To Dean he sounded defensive.

"That's right. It's known as the hajj, and is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Make a pilgrimage to Mecca before you die."

"So why do they do that? I mean, Mohammed left there, right?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "Listen. I'm just telling you what is. I don't have to justify any of this. I assume they go to Mecca because that's where Mohammed was from—like Bethlehem for Jesus. Also that's where the mysterious black rock is, the Kaaba. It was previously a site of pagan worship, but now has a huge mosque surrounding it."

"A black rock?" Zak's face showed his interest had perked up.

"Yes," Dean replied. "You know, an alien artifact. I wouldn't be surprised if your Council of Nine didn't have something to do with it." He said this in an innocent tone of voice.

"Can't you just accept it as a hypothesis that mankind has been—may have been—in contact with other beings for thousands of years? Really, it explains a lot."

Dean shrugged. "Okay." He wasn't offended by the idea. "And maybe the Kaaba is a receiving station. Who knows, maybe even for your Nine."

"Keep in mind that the square root of nine is three," Zak said thoughtfully.

Dean laughed. He rolled off the couch in laughter. He lay on his back on the rug wiping his eyes.

"No, wait. Three—the Christian Trinity, right? Where did that come from? Maybe from a tradition, or just an intuition, about the Nine."

"Right," Dean said, attempting to contain his mirth. He decided to go along: "Hence that fake verse in the New Testament. Where is it?" Dean pulled a book off the shelf and paged a moment. "Here it is: 1 John 5:7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

"Fake verse?" Zak asked. "In what sense is it a fake verse? I mean, how it is more fake than any of the others?"

Dean grinned. "Good question. I mean it didn't appear in the original canon which was fixed by the Church in the 4th century. The verse wasn't in any of the Greek manuscripts. Instead it was inserted into the third edition of Erasmus' Greek New Testament in the 16th century. The verse was taken from the Latin Vulgate. Catholics didn't accept the idea of the Trinity until the Council of Constantinople. When was that? 380 A.D.? But afterward it was embarrassing that there was no mention of the Trinity in the Bible. So some priests got creative and manufactured the evidence."

"Three-in-one. So. The father, the son, and the holy ghost. What the hell is the holy ghost?"

"I don't know. Didn't they make a movie about that with Bill Murray? Holy Ghost Busters?

Dean and Zak were both cracking up now. It was good to relieve the tension of the last several days.

"Anyway," Dean said, "that is the error of the Christians in the Moslem view. There is only one God, Allah. God the Father, if you will. Jesus was a prophet, and worked miracles, but he wasn't God. And neither was this Holy Ghost."

The door to the library opened and a woman entered.

"Oh, hi mother," Dean said. He stood. "This is my friend Zak, the one from America I was telling you about." Dean turned to Zak, and watched Zak turn red and trip over his own tongue.

"I'm very pleased to meet you," Zak finally managed. Dean looked at Zak appraisingly.

"Make yourself welcome in our home," she smiled at Zak. And then to Dean: "Will dinner at nine be suitable?"

"Fine," Dean said. She nodded, smiled again at Zak, and left the room.

"Yes?" Dean inquired, looking at Zak.

"I thought your mother would be, oh, I don't know, a grandmotherly figure, maybe in her 70s. She's— She's beautiful!"

"So she is," Dean said dryly. He knew that for a woman in her 40s, his mother was a strikingly voluptuous figure. But he didn't care to discuss that with Zak. "Why don't I leave you here for a bit while I go see how everyone is. Remember, your room is just down the hall, to the left."

"Okay," Zak said happily.

* * * * *
After Dean had left the room, Zak looked around the library. Many of the books were bound in leather, most of them in Arabic or French. A few were in English. Zak recognized The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas, and saw another called La Bas, by J. K. Huysman. Even the English books are French, Zak thought to himself. Perhaps the French books are all Arabic.

Zak leaned out a window and looked down the street. He could see the sidewalk café on the corner, and between two buildings the Seine. Here he was in Paris. He had never been out of the U.S. before.

Dean had led the escape from America. For that Zak was grateful—he had been at his wit's end. Zak had returned home, tired from a day of pouring concrete. The dust from the clay had permeated his hair and clothes and dissolved in his sweat, and he was looking forward to a long shower. But first he popped open a can of beer and turned on the T.V. to the news. They were doing an update on the Oral Jerry Swagger story—the one about the dead man who had been found on his lawn. But now the station announced that it had obtained exclusive footage of a cash transaction Swagger made with an unidentified man the day before the dead man showed up on Swagger's lawn.

Zak straightened out of his slouch and stared at the T.V. It was the footage he had Dean shoot of the dinner at L'Orangerie. He sat there stunned, his mind racing. It had been another one of the "Sally Rand" drops. He had carefully wrapped the developed film, placed it into the bottom of a large brown grocery bag, put two mason jars on top of the film package, written "Sally Rand" on the bag, and dropped it at a place in San Marino.

He had been betrayed by Hoova. True, his own image always seemed a little obscured on the film. Dean's cameramen had done their job well. But he could recognize himself easily, which meant someone else could also.

Zak did the only thing he could think of. He called Dean. Dean listened to the story in silence. Finally Dean said, "Do you have a passport, Zak?" The answer, surprisingly enough even to Zak himself, was Yes. He had gotten one on impulse after a long Hoova message that talked of ambassadors to mankind, and embassies, and passports, and other analogies he couldn't remember now.

"We should take a trip. Now, traveling isn't cheap," Dean warned.

No problem, Zak had replied. He had kept his "tithe" from the Swagger money, like Hoova had instructed. He in fact had $32,000 in cash. Yes, he was very grateful to Dean. Dean had even dropped that bit about him being a Mossad agent, taking Zak's obvious panic and plight at face value.

But, maybe he should thank the Nine also. True, they had betrayed him. But now here he was in Paris. Perhaps it had all served a higher purpose. Zak couldn't escape the feeling, however, of having been used. In all his previous missions Zak had performed behind the scene, and had remained behind the scene. But then he had participated in the . . . hit—the transfer of money—on Oral Jerry Swagger, and later had seen himself in flagrante delecto on local T.V.

The messages via Hoova, messages from the Nine had assured him there was nothing to worry about. Sure, that's what they said. "Once bitten, twice shy," Zak thought to himself.

Zak began to explore the book shelves. The books had been collected mostly by Dean's father. Dean had told Zak his father had been much older than his mother. His father was already a successful engineer of 40 when he married her at 15. There was a dam named after him somewhere in France. Dean's mother had barely attained 20 years of age when her husband had been killed in Caan, only a year after having been appointed the Lebanese Consul in Marseilles.

Zak took La Bas from the shelf, and went to his room. He stripped to his shorts, stretched out on the bed and had managed to read a page or two before falling asleep.

It was a troubled sleep. Voices and images haunted him. Accusing fingers, pointing, "That's the man on the tape," whispering as he tried to move to a different spot where he couldn't be seen. A table behind a pillar, a different aisle of the grocery store, around the corner and into the arch of a doorway.

Zak woke up several times, for a few seconds, his mind showing him the actual reality of his safety here in Dean's house in Paris. Eventually Zak relaxed and the images became more pleasant. Trips he had taken with Dean up and down California. In one of them they were stopping in Carmel, and when Zak got to his room at the Inn, there was Dean's mother waiting for him. They kissed, and she said, "Feel my breasts."

Now in Zak's dream Dean's mother was naked on hands and knees, pressing the side of her face against the bed as she looked back at him. "Come on," Zak, she was saying, "slip that big Jewish schlong inside me." Grabbing the sides of her buttocks, Zak pressed himself firmly into her moist tunnel.

Zak suddenly opened his eyes to the now darkened room. Damn, he thought, why does the mind always conk out just when it's getting exciting?

Zak's erection was painful. Bladder pressure, he thought. He got up and made his way in the darkness down the hall to the bathroom. And when he swung open the door, there was Dean's mother, in slip and panties, slip pulled to the waist, one leg perched on the toilet, a leg naked and exposed to the top of the thigh as she rubbed it with body lotion.

"Oh, hi Zak," she said. "We usually don't lock doors around here. Just a quick knock will do."

"I'm sorry. Excuse me," Zak said in confusion, backing out of the bathroom as he watched her rub cream into the inside of her left thigh. As he closed the door he realized she had been looking at his crotch. In the hallway darkness he quickly felt the front of his shorts and found he was sticking straight out of the opening.

Zak began to wilt as he stumbled back to the bedroom. He crawled under the covers, his face burning, and prayed that dinner time would never arrive.
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Re: Jack Parsons & the Curious Origins of the American Space

Postby admin » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:18 am

Part 22: The Square Root of Minus One

Dean was annoyed with the way Zak was acting around his mother. Zak would spend most of the time staring at her, except if she addressed him he would look down at his plate as he responded. So when Zak threw him an appealing look Dean instead joined in on Fourier's line of humiliation.

Not that Dean wasn't often himself annoyed at Fourier. But his mother was only human, after all, and if Fourier sometimes stayed overnight, well, he preferred it was someone urbane and educated and normally pleasant like Fourier, than, oh, say that young salopard at the butcher shop who was always making eyes at her.

"The most famous equation in mathematics? Um, I would say __, although there are a few other candidates also," Dean said.

To Dean's satisfaction, Zak was now looking at him furiously.

"Precisely," Fourier said. "So, let's take logs of both sides. We get that the log—we're referring to the natural log, of course—the log of minus one is pi = 3.141592 etc. multiplied by i, the square root of minus one. Remarkable, isn't it? You take the log of minus one, and you get its square root multiplied by pi. But in any case, that should settle the issue whether negative numbers have logarithms."

"Is there a point to all this?" Zak asked.

Fourier looked at him in genuine surprise. "Why, yes. Aside from the sheer beauty of mathematics, it illustrates that there was something there all along, right in front of one's eyes so to speak, which people chose not to see. First they pretended negative numbers didn't exist. Then they pretended that imaginary numbers, ones involving the square root of minus one, didn't exist, or were absurd, or were meaningless. Space debris, as it were. Now, that is exactly how it is today when it comes to the spiritual world, the aliens, the things that go bump in the night, the hyper-dimensional entities that intersect our space-time, cases of coincidence, telepathy, teleportation. We pretend they are not there, or if there, they are meaningless or absurd, or even if they are real, well, so what, they are useless. But any engineer knows how useful i—or j, as electrical engineers call the square root of minus one—really is. The so-called imaginary numbers, or complex numbers (those numbers having both a real and an imaginary part), are some of the most useful in all of mathematics."

Dean saw Zak's face light up at this. "So," Zak said, "to understand the aliens I need to study imaginary numbers? Or complex mathematics?"

"Well, I'm sure it would help," Fourier said, "but the simple point I am making is that spiritual or hyper-dimensional phenomena are imaginary." He paused and looked intently at Zak. "But they are imaginary in the same way imaginary numbers are imaginary. They may be imaginary, but they are very real, in some sense of physical reality. They are built into the fabric of reality, and only a fool denies reality."

Zak looked triumphantly at Dean. "So, what area of complex mathematics would you recommend I start with?" he asked Fourier.

Fourier pondered the question seriously, as he consumed the last of his canard à l'orange. Finally, as though after great difficulty, he said: "Riemann's zeta function."

"Riemann's zeta function?"

"Otherwise known as the P.T. Barnum function," Dean interjected. "There's a prime born every minute." Dean began laughing as his own joke. He stopped when he saw that both Fourier and Zak were looking at him hostilely.

Dean's mother came to the rescue. "We're having creme brulée for dessert. Should I have it served now?"

* * * * *
I drove north. I had no destination. I drove more or less with the same inattention I had driven out into the desert from Los Angeles. Eventually I ended up on 395, still going north.

Later I would look at a map, trying to retrace my path. It wouldn't compute. I had driven out into the desert into nowhere, and had emerged from nowhere back into the ordinary world.

I was a fugitive, I guessed. At least until I sorted out what I wanted to do about that butcher knife ending up in the belly of a man on Oral Jerry Swagger's front lawn. Maybe it wasn't mine, but I doubted that, after all that had happened. It had to be the two ghouls, the two men in black—Little Olive and Big Pasty was the way I thought of them. They had set me up good. First in the park, where I had left my notebook. Oral Jerry Swagger's name prominent. Their attack had led me to buy the butcher knife. Then . . . Then it appears I left it in the hotel room and it ended up stuck in an OJS employee on Swagger's lawn in Pasadena. Next there would undoubtedly show up a link back to the Pasadena Hilton. Then my notebook would mysteriously surface. Then . . .

I drove. Was this the way it had happened to Jack Parsons? He was ready for a trip, a move to Mexico, to the 17th-century castle the Mexican government was providing him—and then he got blown up in the garage apartment he used as a laboratory while he was packing his car for the trip. I was sure it was someone connected to the U.S. government, trying to bury Parsons' technology—to maintain the military monopoly.

But, who knows? Before this Jack, with his magical workings, had opened a crack and something had flown in. Maybe Little Oliver and Big Pasty flew in from that direction also. I glanced at the other end of the seat. The Louisville slugger was still with me. There are a lot of things you can do with a baseball bat. Even play baseball.

Mt. Whitney loomed to my left, and I reached the turnoff to drive to the base of the mountain. I was tempted, but continued on. One year three other fools and I had tried to climb Mt. Whitney in the winter time, while it was covered with snow. The first night we camped at 8000 feet. One of the guys stetched out his legs and stuck his ice-covered boots right by the fire, to melt the ice off them. After a time, someone smelled something burning. He had burned half-way through the rubber sole of one boot, without even feeling the heat.

The next day we had continued on up the mountain. I was well ahead of the others when we decided to turn back, because the guy's foot was freezing—the guy with half a sole. In attempting to catch up with those below, I noticed a nicely sloped, snow-filled, but shallow ravine, and hopped in and went sliding down at a nice pace on my rear end. Then abruptly I had to brake my slide, because there was a sudden sharp drop-off of about 15 feet, right in front of me. The ravine had by this time deepened considerably, and I fumbled around trying to figure out how to climb out of it. The snow kept getting deeper at the edge of the ravine, and I was in snow up to my chest when it suddenly all went whoosh, and I fell into a crevice. I had managed to wedge myself at the top, using my upper arms, with my feet dangling. But there was no hand or foothold, because everything was covered with ice. And when I finally got out of the crevice, I was still faced with the original problem.

I jumped down 15 feet into a point beside where I saw a rock peeking out of the snow below, and survived without hurting myself.

Being a fugitive wasn't so bad, I decided, since by all rights I should have been dead years ago. When the four of us got off Mt. Whitney that day, we drove to Death Valley and had a wiener roast. We were looking for highs and lows, all in the same trip.

I drove on.
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