America Will Rule the World

by Alex Gordon

AMERICA WILL RULE THE WORLD a short story by Alex Gordon As life continues, Mendip Lodge occasionally still welcomes the inevitable procession of bizarre and eccentric people. Aunt Laura, and Proctor, now a professor, have returned, and are already locked in their usual intense dialogue. Eavesdropping round the door, one evening, as they warm their hands round the sitting room fire, I continue to learn all the details of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. I discover that, in Ancient Greece, Socrates was the tutor of Plato, and that Plato, in turn, tutored Aristotle. Proctor, laughing heartily as he spies me in the hall, invites me inside. I settle down to listen as he continues. It seems that Socrates, with Plato at his elboe, would delight in wandering the winding streets of Athens. When meeting some random stranger, Socrates would then confront the victim with searching demand into the axioms of ideological inquiry, such as : 'what is the true meaning of justice,' or perhaps... 'what is morality,' or maybe... 'what of freedom ?' "It appears that to the Greeks," Proctor explains, with the hint of a smile, "everything in life was seen as a form of a game !" "A process !" "Yes, you can call it that," he says, polishing his glasses. "The main point is that their minds were agile in a way that we cannot compete with today !" "How," I ask ? "Well... for example, military generals, on the eve of a great battle, were sometimes known to write poetry ! Can you imagine such a thing, in today's world !" "I see what you mean," I admit. "Our minds have been so entirely and completely trained to specialize," he says, "from the Industrial Revolution onwards. "It's almost as though -- if you make an analogy between the human mind and the computer -- we are all refined software programs... but we've lost the operating system !" "But getting back to the game," I insist... "was it possible to step outside it ?" The fire crackles up suddenly. "Yes of course," he says, "the whole point of a game is that eventually it must end and then the rules are changed, and you start another game !" "What about today ?" "The door is closing, fast," he says sadly. "To redefine the game requires an immense freedom of thought. It necessitates a collossal autonomy of being, in the following spheres... the political, psychic, spiritual, rational... I could go on and on." "Actually, the whole thing is closing down," he says. "Freedom and democracy and left-wing political thinking are like muscles in the sense that on the one side, we are lucky to have them, men died such that we might, but if we do not continue to use them these muscles will then atrophy, and eventually become useless." "In the end the laws will change. Finally we will not even know that we want these things at all. This is the very real danger which lies ahead." "The first rule of the game is that there are no rules," I say softly. "That's it," he agrees, seriously. "The second rule of the game is that it is not a game." "And that's exactly how they enslave you," he mutters darkly, "once they have you believing that... you're lost forever !" I'm out walking with Red, near his house in Highgate. He's been back from the hospital for a while. He's wearing a dressing gown. He walks very slowly, like an old man. He hardly looks around at all. We stop for coffee in a tiny antique cafe. Red's eyes are still faraway, locked on something impossibly far away. "Look," he exclaims suddenly, in a dry, cracked voice. Two old men are standing in the doorway, deep in discussion. One has a black beret and a long beard, the other has glasses, white hair,and a mac. "Look," Red insists ! I stare at the men, but for the life of me, cannot understand why Red is so insistent. "Do you know who they are," he asks me seriously ? "No !" "You really don't know !" This with a searching gaze. "No !" "I have to talk to them," he exclaims urgently ! "Why ?" "I have to !" He gets up dramatically and leads me over to them. "I know who you are," he tells them. They stop talking. There is a silence. "Have we met," one of them asks ? "Once, long ago," Red says... "do you remember ?" "I'm not sure I do," says the old man. "Try !" "When was it," the old man asks ? "Look... it's a kind of a process !" "What ?" "Do you know what freedom is," Red asks ? "I think I have a pretty good idea !" "Do you believe that a person can be reborn ?" "Maybe. But what's this all about, anyway !" The hint of a smile. "Look, I know who you are," Red says defiantly ! "Are you sure that you're friend is alright," the old man asks me, pityingly ? "Red, what are you saying," I ask, bewildered ? "And what language is that ?" "I'm asking him what freedom is !" The old man's eyes are kindly and patient. He rolls a cigarette, carefully. "I think I know what's happened to your friend," he tells me softly, behind his hand. "He thinks he's in Ancient Greece !" The sound of Simone singing 'Red River Valley,' drifts upwards through the house. I've bought my first long-playing record. This is a first, for me, and the ritual is steeped in special significance. It's a blues sampler, and I'm listening, entranced, to Little Walter singing lazily... 'My babe, she don't stand no cheatin', my babe.' Morning sun teasing the skylight and the hustle of easy traffic outside. Emily and Holmes are downstairs, carrying books from room to room experimentally. My water pipes bluster and threaten, buried behind the attic wall. I feel so much older now. Running a few fingers across my chin I'm overjoyed to detect pioneer stubble, the promise of future manhood. I stroll over to the little desk beside the window, open a drawer and take out a packet of Embassy cigarettes, light one up, sit down on the bed, and inhale deeply. Blue circles dance between me and the sunshine. There's a party in Hampstead at the weekend. A few friends are there. I decide to get drunk early. Then dance clumsily and knock an ashtray off a table. Everyone laughs. Apart from this, not much is happening. I'm bored and frustrated, hovering around the wine and cheese table endlessly. The band 'Little Feat' are on the stereo. A few people dance lamely. Then I see a neat, short-haired girl sitting quietly in an large armchair in a corner. In a momentary whim I suddenly jump up onto the arms of the chair so that I'm almost sitting in her lap. She looks surprised, but not unhappy, and she smiles and blinks in a slightly confused way. The novelty of this approach has worked. We talk for a while about nothing in particular. Eventually I realize how unnatural this is, and wander off. I stalk more corridors. Opening a bedroom door I'm amazed to be confronted with the sight of Dorian, back from India, lying outstretched and completely drunk on a bed surrounded by a gaggle of admiring young girls who fuss around him. I think it best to leave quietly. On the stairs I find Dante. He gives me a weary look. "So it's all over, Bioland, and everything," he mutters... "God, I wonder what did happen to Norbert, though !" "Yes, it's all very unreal," I agree... "did all of that stuff really happen ? I can't even tell... the acid confused things so much... I can't tell whether it all happened or not !" "Something did happen," he said decisively," looking at me in an odd manner. "You see what I believe," he starts out... "is that out here," and he reaches one hand out in front of him... "it's all complete chaos, and yet here," and now he puts his hand close to his head..."it's all incredibly safe and humdrum and routine. "The difference is the programming. We're programmed to take the raw chaos, and to put it into orderly lines, or cubes, and we learn to do that very, very well. Far too well, in fact. "What happened with Norbert is -- we got involved with the raw chaos." I think about this. It starts to make sense. "And the game is about how we create the lines and cubes," I say. "Exactly," he replies. "And the Process is the whole thing -- it's the raw chaos, and it's the game." "Yes," he says. "Every game we've ever played." "I could cry about what's happened to Red," he says. "I know," I say. "He believes he's in Ancient Greece," I say. "Are you serious ?" Dante is amazed. "Time travel," I say. "I know," he says. "Listen," I tell him. "Norbert was trying to warn us about something. And it was really, really important." "I know," Dante agrees. "Machine intelligence. The real effect on the human race." "Once it arrives, we will be in another world, a place where miracles are commonplace, but no-one will be interested any more. No-one will be intelligent, even." "I know," he says. "Not only that, language will be upside-down, too. Double-think. Double-talk. All gobbledegook." "America will rule the world," I say. "And America will be loved by all. But if you don't agree - you'll die!" Suddenly my mind goes back to an image in slow motion... I'm eight years old, running through the woods, proudly wearing my black cowboy hat, shooting down imaginary villains. "Who will win," I ask Dante... "Norbert or America ? Do you remember what he said... 'it only takes one idea, just one man to give his life... to overturn the entire world !" "It's not America," Dante says distantly... "it's the multinational corporations... which operate above government level... all over the world !" "It's not America, the real enemy," he repeats emphatically. "The average American is as innocent as you or I, in all of this. Too innocent, actually. They have been steadily depoliticized over the years. No, Washington has been hijacked by private capital. The multinationals !" "What is the endgame," I ask ? "The endgame is the struggle between the rightwing who will try to shut down the Constitution in order to create a police state - and the left -- who will be fighting for human rights. If the thirst of the rightwing becomes great enough -- Western military forces shall be sent to secure the oilfields in the Middle East. This shall be Norbert's fulcrum -- the point of no return -- double reality. Meanwhile, the rightwing will utilize the media to twist the use of language beyond recognition. It shall be claimed that we are fighting for 'freedom' !" We both laugh bitterly for a while. "Do you believe that Norbert is really a time traveller," I ask ? "If you see the world through his eyes -- then this becomes possibl," Dante says. "This and much more, as he outlined. He saw the future," Dante continues. "He understood that time has run out -- that things are moving too fast." "He's there now, in America," I say. "I know," Dante says. "Dante," I ask ? "Yes ?" "These rightwing individuals we talk about... who run huge multinationals... they must love their children... and they must love the world, too ?" "In their way, they probably do," he admits. "But money corrupts," he points out... "you do know that, don't you !" "Of course," I say. "Money is black magic," he spits. "It manipulates the community. It also manipulates itself." We get up and stroll through the party. It's late and most people are now leaving. In the sitting room, the late night news is showing on TV. Something to do with Harold Wilson. We flop down into armchairs. I grab a bag of crisps and munch away. Dante lights a cigarette. The news is over. It's raining in the darkness outside. Time to leave. I say goodbye and head for the door. I'm resting against the doorframe for a second when I hear Dante call me back. "Zand, Zand, Jesus... I don't believe it... you've got to see this !" I stare at the screen. It's someone familiar. A chill goes down my spine as I realize... it's Norbert ! But he looks totally different. Smart. Hair slicked back. Americanized. A huge, confident smile on his face. All of the immense skyscrapers of New York are his backdrop. He's speaking. With a broad American accent. This is a commercial, I am stunned to understand. In his hand is a can of soft drink - cola. Triumphantly, he's telling the world... "IT'S THE REAL THING !" Back at home I cannot sleep. I trudge downstairs and mix a bowl of cereal and then brew a cup of strong tea, and bring them all upstairs to my room on a tray. I need to think. I swallow a few spoonfuls of cereal. Jane Fonda stares back at me from the wall with a kind of mocking, sardonic, nakedness. So, Norbert is alive, I realize. He's real ! He's not just a figment of my imagination. He's alive and successful -- in America. I try to remember the synthesis of his message. That the internet would split America into two. Two alternative search engine scripts conflicting and splitting the world into two. Two worlds - double reality. And he knew it as only a time traveller would. My brain hurts. I'm feverish, in fact. Images seem to jostle and flash through my mind disturbingly. 'AND, NAND, NOR'. The code within. Leading to only one, inevitable outcome. Code apocalypse. 'Ra'. Cairo. The sequence begins here. THE SEQUENCE ! The arcane dance of the symbols. Taking us from here to there. Robbing us. Binding us. Blinding us. Taking us to a place where love or even humanity can no longer exist. Programs within programs. The lure of paradise and immortality constantly available - to he who plugs in. And for he who refuses... just endless terror and world war. One search engine script so powerful that it would blind every citizen of America so that they might no longer see all hell that has broken loose in the world outside. And suddenly I stop eating and look upwards through the window and all of the infinite darkness of the night sky seems to rage down to engulf me with madness as I finally realize with a terrible certainty who Norbert really is ... the dark eyes, the imperious nose... the slightly flat lips... "He is an Egyptian priest," I whisper to myself incredulously... "the living embodiment of the God 'Ra' ! He is reincarnated ! He has bridged the gene path ! Norbert is 'Ra' ! The one to create the original, arcane, sequence of symbols -- the Egyptian language. The energy has then travelled through Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, lying dormant for a millenium, then surfacing in the British empire, and now America. He goes to reclaim his script ! The original script ! The internet is the Oracle ! And, at the moment he reclaims the central search engine script, every man, woman and child will then have to view, for the first time, the real world ! The devastation which up to that point -- had been hidden ! It shall be the Apocalypse, the moment of reckoning... the finality of all things ! Ra has arrived, and his vengeance shall be terrible ! I look around my crowded, colourful little attic room for inspiration. Rod Steiger stares back at me, emotionlessly. Guitars, albums everywhere. My cherished old Ferrograph tape recorder on the table, beside an old oscilloscope which my father had brought back from the lab one evening, a year before. One word still reverberates. The Oracle. The Internet Search Engine. The Oracle. The glass ball of the magician. The mirror on the wall. Magic will return to the earth, I realize... everywhere there will be magicians, cults, witches, sects, religions, healers, psychics... on and on and on. Could it be that we are actually leaving the scientific era - altogether ? Disease on the rise. Illiteracy increasing it's grip. A return to arcania, or the medieval. Two worlds, conflicting with an extraordinary tension. Science and magic. Duality, again. Dual reality. And, if the internet search engine really was the Oracle, then would the rest of the ancient civilization return also ? And yet, perhaps this story has reached the starting of its end, here. LIfe has a way of pedantically trudging along, brutally stamping all revelations underfoot, into wooly forgetfulness in a type of mundane, ritualized manner. I just don't know what to make of it all. I actually wonder whether I am going mad. My mother has a long, serious conversation with me, during which she repeatedly looks searchingly into my face in a worried way. It doesn't help that she and Holmes are starting to get old now. The generation gap, too, seems to be widening. Sometimes she will start a great new philosophical debate in the kitchen. Later I'll realize with horror that she will have been arguing out the grand issue of 'who am I' - or 'why are we here' - for five or six hours, with no break except for an endless stream of coffee and tea. Not only this but also she will have somehow roped into this debate some unsuspecting innocent such as the plumber, or Sam or perhaps even a visiting Jehova's Witness... and four hours later no-one will be any step closer towards clearing anything up. I wonder whether an extra protein injection, or possibly alcohol might jumpstart her out of this idling mode. But it is impossible not to love this strange and wonderful, quaint little oddity of a mother, with her perpetual quizzical half-smile, her Quakerly politeness, and her massive armoury of stock and share certificates which are lodged in the top drawer of her massive Victorian desk, nestling up against her communist party card. Her hair is well on the way to grey now, and Holmes cannot walk as far as he used to. I still have the problem of what career to chose, what to do with my life, and my final year at school is almost over. Dorian announces that he has a plan to bury a plastic spanner in Ethiopia. The family are silent. It's old news by now. Mrs Jackson trundles in with the soup. "I've mixed your beer in," she informs Dorian in a tone of polite concern. Dorian says nothing but his lips are pursed in irritation. He looks out of the window where Tizzy and the milkman are tussling routinely. Rain falls greyly. We spoon our soup in silence. Dorian repeats his plan. "It's only a phase," announces Holmes, in his usual patronizing tone, draining his soup-bowl dry. "It's called life," I say. I'm wearing green eye-shadow again. Holmes suddenly stares at my face, opens his mouth as if to say something, shuts it, shrugs his shoulders, scratches his back through a terylene shirt, and buries himself resignedly behind the Financial Times. "Silly me -- Muriel called -- Isaac's playing at Toc H on Friday -- she wants to know if we'd like tickets," Emily announces cheerily ? There's a general chorus of moans and grunts of dissent. "Do you know that the Maharishi says that if everyone would meditate for at least one hour a day, then the world would be rid of stress and wars and everything," Robina suddenly chirps up ? "How extraordinary," Holmes mutters distantly. "Did you hear that my friend Angel has found a job working in the park for the summer," I tell them excitedly... "and he says maybe he can get one for me too !" "Then the two of you can lie on your backs in the sun all day long occasionally reaching over to give each other great big jabs of heroin," Holmes says, laughing hilariously at his own precociousness ! "Holmes," scolds Emily... "you really musn't !" THE END

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