The Unlovely Littleness of the Lordliness of Mere Man
His children were indeed smiling for there was scarcely time to wave good-bye to their father. About 1% of the meeting was moving with them, leaving the 99 parts behind. A sound of a trumpet of some kind was like a cacophony to Hu, but blessed as cool streams of water in the desert to those taking their leave. Faster than any rocket was their extraction. It was like the removal of Peter from prison, in the book of Acts. Nothing impeded, no guard could hinder, there was an audible shuddering moan from the Judicial Assembly and … they were gone!
They ? the captives with many others, not alas the Court, which seemed strangely vulnerable, almost like an insanely comic assemblage of guilt-ridden judges, still unaware that it was all a joke.
Hu was glad he did not have the indignity of having to watch the similar departure of his wife, since she had not yet been found. Now will she ever be found by our forces ? he asked himself.
He had to admit that he doubted it, for there was a camaraderie which was indisputable between the mother and her children, all centred around this Jewish Messiah, this Jewish Christ. Had He indeed taken His own ? Jews and Gentile alike, His ... children! Yes they are His, not mine, he pondered, as his mind re-asserting itself, he recognised the need for instant action and supreme, indeed superb poise.
Taken them ? He, the Christ ?
To that question surely the Assembly must now address itself … or perhaps not in those terms. No, certainly not! His composure began to return, but his thought was clear: NOTHING was to allow the recognition of the true significance of what had just happened. In his own mind, that was one thing off political limits, and that was private, personal and rather hard to contain, though less so after a life-time of duplicity and really ripe rationalisation.
He strode to the podium, but was staggered to find another speaker in that place. Evidently the Assembly had gone out of its mind.
It was one of his friends, a man of substance and power, who was addressing all. It was hard to believe his unwilling ears.
Gentleman and Ladies, came the inversion, a new mode in terms of having the priorities changed from time to time, for more balance: we have just witnessed an escape of the first magnitude. We have made it proverbial that unlike Texas, we DO always get our man; but today in the presence of us all there has been an extraction, like that of some rotten tooth, and some dentist seems to have been interested in the securing of that rotten mess, the defendants. Let it be so! We will not bow to intervention, whatever it may choose to call itself. It is our earth and no power will shake our resolve to inhabit it with our own autonomy. We fear nothing and will resist everything.
Even as he spoke, however, a news report on the radio was announcing enormous outpourings of grief in the populace, for thousands had lost their sons, their daughters, their fathers, their mothers; businesses were without some of their most talented participants, partners, bosses. It was, one reporter was declaring, like the days of France back with Louis XIV and later, when the purges and taxes on Protestants had led to such an emigration from France that it had hindered its economic development, and made gifts to England, and later to the USA. The world had lost some of its best flowers, some of the most sensational scents... it was less florid now.
People are aghast! the commentator was announcing. This is a grave day for space exploration programs, and the colleges, for there is extensive report that thousands and maybe millions are simply GONE!
Hu collected his wits. He gave orders for the arrest of the commentator, then thought better of it, since a comparison was there; then wondered, and found himself in the midst of a neurotic tension. HOW to show majesty in defeat; for that was what it obviously was on this occasion ?
When the podium was clear, he marched up to it with his most purposeful stride, and remembering the lessons of his youth, asked the Chairperson, for his own greater glory, handling the minutiae of procedure, with a smile that if oily, was in earnest, if he might speak to the people.
Protocol in place, he reviewed the history of the last years, the successes, the removal of the danger of the moon as a space station – you have to advance perspective in times of peril, he had told himself – the financial accounting methods which so well limited terrorism, the examples made of those resisting the World Governing Authority, the prosperity which could be expected from unity ...
He was shrewd enough, however, when interrupted most volubly in a manner not seen in years, by one of the national representatives, to smile kindly, and invite him to the podium. In times of disaster, he held, you have to bend a little, so that the trunk does not break with the violent winds. Give them scope, let them speak, and then masterfully and smilingly account for the ... little matters, and press on, press on, that was the way, instead of thinking. Thought was now quite obviously an enemy, and the only way was cultivated protocol and power mixed with action!
The representative had a strange gravity that almost glowed, an interesting phenomenon! thought Hu, since the Enemy’s people are gone. At that, he became afraid for the first time, simply and elementally afraid, for here he, Hu was acknowledging that God was there; for an enemy not there, this was no enemy at all. His ears were however better pleased with what he heard without, than within. The voice on the sound system was imploring all to take stock, and to realise that the universe had strange powers, calling on the Assembly to seek sanction for an increase in research which would allow the quelling of such intrusions. If there was to be warfare, let it be wrought with power and confidence. If they had lost some, let them go. Is not rubbish regularly removed from offices ? Is it not well to have treacherous people out of the way ?
Was this not a welcome scene ? Did it not make the job of international cleansing far easier ? Why not regard it then, soberly, as a power assist to man's greater glory!
Here was evidence that autonomy would work, for the withdrawal of contrary forces was, for all its economic loss, a vast increase in unity, which would shortly pay for itself, and allow this world to become the cultural statue of One Man, One Race …
However at this point, a huge commotion from many members drowned out his next words, and Hu, quick to perceive specifically social and psychological developments, realised the error.
Quickly, and with that confidently deferential mode he sometimes chose, he resumed the podium himself, and apologised to the women – ladies was not quite so fashionable these days, and he rarely used the term, except in the conventional address phrasing – for this oversight of his good friend. On the latter, he glowed likewise, indicating that they all had to make allowances for the excitement of the day, and that the true meaning had been that MANKIND was in view, and as that term was also not acceptable to some, he actually – always ACTION was his motto – moved that the phrasing MAN, and MANKIND be henceforth a criminal utterance.
PERSONKIND was to become not merely a wise option, as for so long, but a legal requirement in all relevant contexts. MAN, the gender, is to cease to exist, he declared, with perhaps a little oversight, and PERSON is the only relevant and acceptable term. He stopped himself just in time from adding ... which can be managed. Management ? personment ? it was becoming unclear. Leave that one to the boys in blue, as he liked to think of academics, the modern blue-stockings. He was a trifle unacademic at times, since some of these had been like fish-bones in his throat ... but not many now, he laughed inwardly. Most of them will be ... gone! There are, he smiled dreamily within, in the sort of therapeutic and momentary haze, some advantages in getting to the last Act! He resumed however from the podium, as applause diminished for his 'insightful' beginning.
We are ALL persons, he glowed, and as persons we will prevail; and it is one of my new emphases, he continued, that ONE WORLD, ONE PERSON will become the elixir of our times. We will not only become more and more unified, and Hu seized on this opportunity with increasing relish, but …
Let us however hear his words, for at his most eloquent, Hu could intoxicate an Assembly.
We will not, he proceeded, tolerate any invasion of the reality that it is the personal. Our true concern is not with the gender: it is the individual; not with some polluted muck of bits and pieces, but the RACE. It is the HUMAN RACE that matters, indeed the HUPERSON RACE, and all these specificities that the Christian related to creation, are to broken down, so that as ONE we will march on what remains of God, and take the place ourselves.
Gone the religious ceremonies to recognise what we do not see; GONE the ways of witness. No more will we EVER tolerate the recognition of any God, any object of worship, any shrine for awe, any consciousness or any claim, appeal or intuition directed to ANY but the HUMAN RACE, with its mystic powers, its controlled enthusiasms, its vast cultural background and its glorious future.
Applause, almost hysterical, broke out in the doubly relieved Assembly. Hu had done it again. He had not declared war on God in so many words, for such a recognition could have inflamed fears. He had not made gender-men feel assaulted, for he had transcended it all with RACE, and HUMAN, nay the HUPERSON RACE as the goal, the glorious target. He had involved no less the past, with reference to the vast cultural past, than the future, fuzzy but to the faithful, a very gamut of grace from which no confinement could impede, nor danger exclude.
Eloquence had battered truth, grandiloquence had overpowered reality and determination had dashed fact before the eyes of the unelect. Such has been the way of the oratorical emptiness of the ages, where power is corroded, truth is excluded and fire seems flashy before the ashes accumulate. That, after all, is one of the things that make ashes what they are, the preceding, uncontrolled flames! Hu however was by no means immersed in such thoughts as these, but merely felt the warmth of the flames as convenient, comfortable and powerful..
Masterly indeed, that little speech! thought Hu, who was roundly applauded and then individually congratulated by many of his most senior advisers, not one of whom did not relish the increase in prestige, power and authority indirectly involved in being now the ONLY permissible authority, the topmost and the uttermost of the height of the ONE which the race must now become, part of that directive community WITHIN the community which was all there was to be. Not a few were already at work on salary commensurable with authority considerations, which in the euphoria of the turning of shame and even shambles into triumph, by words at least, might well be obtained.
The Assembly was then dismissed, and Hu thought of Cleo, Cleo,
the enemy within ? or was she gone
too ? He hoped so, but then felt that this would be too much, to lose his wife as an emblem of maturity and an example of wisdom, that is, the wisdom of maintaining SOMETHING from his fallen family. He MUST find her, he felt, and taking his notes of months of research, and his car, he took leave and hastened to dispel the thought that she too might be missing, and with his machinery lacking power to find her, possessor of a final triumph. The coils of a 20 foot Anaconda seemed to be enclosing his unyielding body, and a mental nausea began to envelop him. Indeed that very picture surged into his mind, like some unruly wave, coming from the deep.
In two days, he at last came to the conclusive assurance he had found where she had been living, but gone she was! Permanently or locally ? As he mingled unctuously in some of the local places, assuring people of the glory of man and the certainty of success for the race, he heard one person talking about Cleo, whose real name had begun to be known by a few.
With awe, she described how she had been with her at the time of the … Removal Session, as it was now being called (RS its acronym, which also fitted for 'riotous separationists'). This acquaintance of Cleo narrated that she had heard a Trumpet that at first she had thought came blaring from the musical system, and never would she forget the look on Cleo’s face as she was simply removed. It was eerie, and that kindly graciousness which she had felt in Cleo, seemed to transmit itself into the very air. She was astonished and imbued with an eruptive, indeed rather an irruptive and indeed ineluctable melancholy.
Smoothly, Hu acknowledged the mysteries of the universe and congratulated his World Knowledge Panel on its progress. We move, he declared, ah how we have moved in these last few years. Soon all mysteries will be known! Meanwhile, yes it is of interest, and we must all meet the sacrifices personally which are before us, as I do, at the loss of my very dear wife!
With smiling features, gracious poise and pose, he managed to extricate himself, declaring he was taking a few days off and had enjoyed the time in the village, and was soon left to his thoughts, which in contrast to the socially endued face which was his, were in murderous mode, in assault action and very unruly.
WHO ARE YOU! his suddenly released conscience thundered.
I am Hu, he diligently replied, Unifier of the Race, Gainer of Glory, Despatcher of Rivals to the Possession of All Things, Regal Executive, Master of Ceremonies, Director of Research, Contriver of Answers…
His conscience cut him short. It is not an assembly do you here meet! it thundered.
How dare it! thought Hu, but suddenly realised that here was an enemy within that the … what did they call it ? rapture, the or some such thing ? the RS at any rate, did not remove. With a fury borne of desperation, he turned on his conscience. Be forever still! he declared. Your place is to follow me, not challenge me. I will tolerate no dissension in my own mind, and if you want to live, then learn to live with me.
A silence met his last words which did more to intimidate this fallen man, this thrice fallen man, much more than anything else.
He was used to handling opposition, contriving to direct it, control it, but not to this silence. Brooding silence, perhaps, could be accepted; but total silence ? Hu felt uncomfortable, as if he had done something irrevocable. He suddenly felt close to tears, which he despised, and realised that the loss of Cleo meant more to him than that of his children, which after all he had been seeking to subject to involuntary removal, through judicial murder. A cold clarity began to form about facts, to which he was not accustomed. The silence of death! the unwanted phrase clambered up the precipices to the heights of his delusion; and it frightened him.
A man of action, he resolved at once on his course. He would have more company with his own race, talk more freely, and USE this new sense of social community to bring others more amply into his ambitions for the race, of course, and so prosper even more in the very midst of this cold silence within. Yes, this was the plan. He would more socially aggregate, congregate, so that the lonely inward spirit could exist, co-exist, yes that was it, first among equals ... well, not equals but rather comrades. The camaraderie of comrades would constitute a unity in which he would be directive, but surrounded.
Hu, being himself alone, would assuredly follow it. He even managed a wan smile at his own cleverness.
Forlornly a group of dispirited men appeared on the screen of his mind, one which he could not quite shut down; and they were seen distantly and dimly, as in a mist, tramping after a coffin. He looked at the scenery outside, increasing his speed as he travelled; but the inward scene merely softened into a sullen show of sympathy, as the men removed their hats, took up their spades, and began to dig. Death! said one, it is admittedly sad, but it is better so! The dead bury their dead! said another, and they all began to dig, graves enough for them all.
Hu shuddered, narrowly making a sharp turn at the foot of the hill, as the road wound down to the depths beneath the mountains which he was encircling. Are you encircling them, or are they encircling you! the thought, undesired, echoed in the caverns of his mind, as the scene outside him, became united with that within.
Death warrant for Hu! announced one of the diggers. Ever a man of wit and charm, Hu decided to be jolly with the funereal vision, and said, Yes, that's right, the Aussies used to called their soldiers that, diggers, eh ? We must all play our part. The silence that met his chirrupy ruse was as profound as the scene which ended in his mind like unwanted TV, all the diggers quietly moving to enter their graves, each one left helping the other to be decently covered, till only one was left.
Cleverly, the last remaining dying shape mounded up the earth high above the hole, brought a large stone to disturb it so that gravity would account for the rest, sent surging in on the earth-slide, and was conveniently enveloped with his future bodily home.
The silence, thought Hu, it is the silence which I cannot endure.