294. Corners of the mouth (VI)
The library was constructed in pure exposed concrete and the computers lined up along the wall were aged, perhaps dating from the 1990s. A large concrete pillar ran at an acute angle across the room, perhaps it contained an escalator or a staircase. The walls down one side of the building were glass, burnt glass so that the light filtered into the room as if by sunglasses. Outside, the building was an inverted ziggurat; it looked as if someone had taken a Mayan temple and inverted it—turned it upside down and then filled it with books. It was meant to be covered in marble, but the authorities had run out of money. So there it stood, brutal and yet somehow sacred. An attempt to marry the archaic Mesoamerican with the latest in post-war construction techniques.
In a small gap between the computers stood a man. He resembled Robert Anton Wilson, the libertarian psychonaut who lived a rather dubious life in the 1960s; a man who advocated consciousness change and LSD from the pages of Playboy, a man who died in poverty. Yet this was not Wilson: on that score I was very sure. This man was someone quite different, and yet everything Wilsonian was in place: the ample stomach, the white hair that formed a mane behind him, the slightly hooded eyes, and the Pan-like goatee—or was it like the Devil? The pseudo-Wilson was, as with the real Wilson, engaged in a detailed lecture constructed to change the audience’s engagement with reality.
I had pushed back from one of the computer terminals, fed up with the dismal operating system. I began to watch pseudo-Wilson, from a distance, as he expatiated on his chosen topic. Nominally, he was here to talk about Scientology; not to advocate for or against, but more to describe how Scientology could change a person’s worldview—their reality tunnel, as the real Wilson would term it.
As the talk progressed, however, there was very little about Scientology in evidence. Instead, pseudo-Wilson began to talk about how certain developments in quantum physics had negated and transcended Jesus. I found myself a little surprised at the direction the talk had taken. Pseudo-Wilson was not in a hateful mode, he merely explained himself in calm terms.
Suddenly, a 3-D model, decked out in simple blues and reds of the type that might appear in a 1980s science fiction film, blinked into existence. I saw it was a model of the Earth, divided into geological cross sections. Pseudo-Wilson began to explain that, from the inter-dimensional perspective, the Earth is flat. As he explained the theory in detail, his model Earth splintered apart into many layers that floated at a slight remove from the original model. My reaction to pseudo-Wilson’s ideas was to experience a rush of exhilaration, not the scepticism you might expect. I found myself thinking: “Yes, of course the Earth is flat; it all makes perfect sense now.”
However, my appreciation for pseudo-Wilson’s worldview and revelations did not last long; for the library faded away and I found myself in the turret of a bomber, circa 1945. The bomber did not stay in the air for more than a few moments; it was hit and I plunged into the countryside below. I found myself in a narrow lane surrounded by high hedgerows. I realised that I was a German soldier in the Second World War and that the Allies were on the advance and that I had to hide. I crawled through the hedgerows and hid myself in a field adjacent to the road; just as Hemingway did when, scouting ahead on a captured German motorcycle-sidecar, he was shelled and forced to hide for the night in a hedge. I weaved in and out of the hedges, always just ahead of the Allies but always aware that they were after me. There is a certain delicious sensation to pursuit; and I evaded capture until the scene swirled away like cream stirred in coffee.