The Boy Behind the Mask

Last weeks post dealt with the sort of blow back we are seeing against “special snowflakes.”  This is perhaps a serious issue, and I wrote out an in depth analysis of the story.  I am, however, going to ditch that analysis for this discussion and instead focus on something a little different.

Last week on Ecosophia, the regular commenter Armata left a link to a discussion of by an article by John David Ebert concerning Mesoamerican civilization.  The basic argument of Mr. Ebert’s article is that the Mayans and Aztecs were unique in that their myths allowed for no psychic protection from the astral plane.  His discussion can be found here.  An interesting fact that he reports is that:

Mesoamerican society is the great civilization of the mask. No other can rival it for the ubiquity and magnificence of its masks and headdresses and costumes. And whereas the Greeks, by contrast, confined the wearing of masks to the performance of plays, the Mesoamericans wore masks or headdresses for every occasion whatsoever. Nowhere, in other words, did there exist a space in which a human being was allowed to be just a human being. He was always playing the role of a god, animal or spirit in whatever public role he undertook, be it ruler, noble, priest or even merchant. All wore masks of one sort or another, or else mask equivalents in the form of tattoos, ear spools, jade nose plugs, lip bones, face paint, etc. Everyone in Mesoamerican society pretended to be a spirit being at all times.
The mask depersonalizes. It flattens the human being out into a two-dimensional icon that no longer exists in a temporal flow, but rather dwells in an eternal latticework beyond spacetime, like Plato’s Forms. The human personality, with all its three-dimensional complexities, tics, idiosyncrasies, complexes and so forth, is submerged and stereotyped with the intrusion of the god, via the mask, like a stamp seal impressing its image onto fine red clay.
The macroscale result of an entire civilization’s complete depersonalization of its members through the almost continuous wearing of masks is the creation of a society in which the gods and spirits, not human beings, are always making the decisions. For when the human personality is eclipsed by the god, it is the god, and not the person playing the role of the god, who speaks. And the god is always hungry for blood.

Mr. Ebert than contrasts images of Europeans vis-a-vis the Mayans during conquest:

I would like to conclude by describing a scene from a 16th century document known as the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. The scene depicts the Spaniards being attacked by the Aztecs inside the palace stronghold at the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan. The Spaniards are shown trapped inside the palace riding on their horses and brandishing their long pikes against the Aztec warriors who surround them. We notice the cannon depicted in one corner firing its blast beneath the image of the Virgin Mary and an icon of the Crucified Christ.[27]
What I would like you to notice about this picture is how it depicts, albeit unintentionally, the contrasting relationships which the two peoples had to the animal world: the Spaniards ride on horseback; the Aztec warriors are on foot, wearing jaguar heads with open mouths through which their own heads peer out.
Note the difference: in the one case, the human being is depicted as hierarchically above the animal, riding on top of it; in the other, the animal has emerged victorious over the human, completely engulfing him.

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This is a profound image, especially the conquistador on the steps covered in metal peering out from a metal visor going to attack the Aztec peering our from the mouth of an animal.

With Faustian culture then the machine devours the individual.  The machine provides a mask.  It impersonalizes.  We may hold ourselves smugly as above the primitives, but our level of possession is just as profound.  Think of all the atomized young men out there glued to their screens and you get the point.  For the Aztec’s they were possessed by their gods but we are ridden by our machines.

The metaphor of riding upon the backs of animals is also taken to pornographic extremes in Faustian culture with our frenzied vivisection and genetic tomfoolery. The machine swallows nature and then nature is only allowed to peak through the maw of the machine.

R. Scott Bakker has discussed at length the disturbing question of “what happens when scientists crack the black box of our souls?” this is a very serious and disturbing question.  It seems that this is an ongoing process; every techno-addict, everyone who is constantly using their cell-phone have in a certain sense been swallowed by their machines. Likewise in a different sense everyone permanently unemployed because machines have replaced them have also been devoured by the machine.  The many workers who are compelled and controlled by the machines of their employment.

And then the metal visors are not just the jaws but also become a mask.  This is the vital subtext of last week’s story.  The “Special Snowflake” is a being who wears a digital mask. They become the identity that they select.  Equally, their identity selects them.  It turns them into a caricature of it just as much as the human creates it.  Angela Nagle author of Kill All Normies makes the point that in many online forums anonymity creates chaotic and nasty behavior.  People with anonymous posts likewise get to wear a mask of a different sort.  It is put on with, perhaps, less deadly earnestness than that of the Special Snowflake, but perhaps too it exerts a powerful control on the rest of the life.

The sad truth is that for many people the main interactions they have is through these masks.  The mask is a possessing entity and it serves as a funnel to the astral.  We are a society possessed.

As Faustian civilization continues to decline is going to get worse.  Think of how well algorithms are able to control and compel behavior.  that is just going to get worse.  One of the most important skills, then, in the years ahead will be the ability to block untoward influence from the machine-mind

Harry Potter is Dead

This week I intend to explore some of the mythic landscape of the popular imagination with a short story I wrote.  Next week I will explore the themes in an essay.

***

There was this kid, Harry, skinny and soft, with big glasses.  He wouldn’t speak to us peasants, didn’t even look at us straight this Harry, but he would walk by, smug and aloof with his shoes, real nice shoes.

They were leather with laces, and black like his hair.  They clacked on the sidewalk as he’d pass us, and we’d leer at him, drinking malt liquor on the stoop.  Once Ratz, everyone loved Ratz that crazy bastard, one time Ratz threw his empty glass bottle at Harry and screamed “Hey!  screw you, you flaming homo!” but Ratz couldn’t throw straight, nothing he did was particularly straight, and we knew he was into men, probably would’ve been into Harry if Harry ever gave him the time of day.

Harry just stood there, broken glass on the ground, on his shoes, his nice shoes, and he looked at us on the stoop and we snickered and he sneered and said  rapidly, almost involuntarily like a robot in his little whiney voice; “these shoes are worth more than your life!” and stomped away furious, mouth tight and drawn, really angry with fists clenched.

We all just burst out laughing, “What a jerk!” said Ratz, drunk as usual, “good looking though…” and we laughed all the harder.  We were tense; there had been reports of the Rebel army getting closer and closer to city.  We al had unformulated loyalist sympathies, but as we’d learn ideologies ultimately would be irrelevant.  Everyone had been whispering the rumors of massacres, cattle cars, the horrors of war.  It was hard then to know if it was real and what was propaganda. But we were tense, and on edge.

Now, Harry had a real cute lady friend, this mousy girl with a pretty face and attitude.  She somehow managed to be even more stuck up than her man, thought she was big wig politician or something, a real prig.  She always had books under her arm, and rushed around her eyes on her screen.  Tried to talk to us once, and this is what she said:

“Ummm….excuse me,”

Johnny took her in, smiled, was a real nice guy, “Welcome!” he said like a king, “wanna beer?”

“Uh, no; I don’t drink” she said, visibly trying not to sneer.

“Okay,” said Johnny still trying to smile.

“I’m going door to door trying to raise awareness about the College bill – are you all registered voters?” she asked.

We all shook our heads “no,” Ratz had a word to say “it’s all crooked anyways, why get your hopes up?” and he took a long contemptuous drink from his bottle.

So this girl just snorted and sneered, she looked like Harry after we teased him: “well, this bill is very important.  It allows for free college for everyone; you can study whatever you want for free.”

And we just started laughing at this girl, laughed so hard we almost fell off the stoop, Johnny was the first who managed to speak; “you ever heard that there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”

The lady stammered, and looked mad, like she wanted to kill us.

Johnny continued, still trying to be nice, “Look I just got out of the floor in the machine shop, Ratz, he has to hustle for rent and do things you never even heard of and Kit,” he said nodding in my direction, “Kits has to get up at dawn to tend market gardens in other people’s yards.  If you get your free college who’s going to pay for it? Who’s going to clean your houses?  Be your plumbers?  Grow your food?  Maintain society with all the dirty jobs and details no one wants to think about? I’ll tell you who; us.  We’re already supporting landlords, bankers, all sorts of parasites. My mama, she’s a great seamstress, but couldn’t afford to open a shop on account of all the regulations.  Kits dad, he’s got a passion for painting, but can’t afford paint and to eat.  You think we’re dumb, you think we need you.  We don’t need you hun, you need us,” and then Johnny took a long, thoughtful drink, “don’t come back here unless you plan on being decent.”

And the girl she turned red, and looked so mad and malicious I’ll admit it, I got scared she’d do something crazy, that she’d open up hell and flood the earth with demons.  And then it blew over and she just looked like a three year old throwing a tantrum, she made a high pitched squeal noise, and walked away, thumbing her phone anrgily.

After that, when Harry’s girl passed by on the other end of the street we’d jeer.  Ratz started calling her ‘Miz Hillary Clinton’ and would scream when she passed “Hey  Miz Hillary!  How many votes y’got!” or something stupid like that.   After he hollered like that the third time I said “cut the crap Ratz!  She’s scared!”

“She’s a stuck up prig!” he said, angrily.

“Well, I can’t argue otherwise, but you’re being a royal jerk,” I said, “c’mon!  Don’t let her be the better person.”

And Ratz considered it, and afterwards we just all would studiously ignore Miz Hillary Clinton whenever she came around.  Maybe we even did some soul searching, I dunno; next time Harry crossed by our stoop absorbed on his iphone, Johnny called out to him; “hey Harry!” he stopped and looked at us, like we were talking dogs, “C’mon here!  My man, you want a beer?”

“Ah…okay….” Said Harry, unsure of himself.

Ratz handed him a beer, “Harry,” Ratz said, “I…I’m sorry, about what happened last time we saw you.”

“What?” said Harry defensively, “What happened?”

“I…I…threw a bottle by your feet and called you a homo.” Said Ratz confused, red-faced, ashamed.

“I don’t remember that,” said Harry sharply, drinking his beer, “don’t remember that at all.”

“I was…I was working real hard that day; had to help Kit here with some vegetables he was harvesting for the farmer’s market, and before that I…had some clients, y’know, helping some men in the bus station bathroom,” Ratz was babbling and I was cringing.

Harry drank in a sip of beer and spat it out and began laughing.  He laughed so hard that he dropped the bottle and began rolling around on the ground, holding his sides and wheezing.  We three on the stoop looked at each other scared; this wasn’t right.

“Hahha!!” laughed red-faced Harry, too loud, “you and your problems, hahaha; your real problem is that you aren’t special!  you’re normal; muggle.”

“You saying your better than us?” asked Johnny his face white.

“Of course I’m better than you!” laughed Harry, “you are muggles and I’m a wizard!  Don’t you understand, you’re lucky that we’re hanging out at all, that I stopped by.  I’m doing you all a big favor right now, you know.” Harry took off his glasses and wiped the tears from his eyes, “My girlfriend is magical too and we have an online community of fairy otherbeings and wizards, sorcerers and warlocks that we cavort with on the forum and chatroom to say our spells, and we can do it because we’re all special.” Harry was making me nervous, he seemed cracked like his girlfriend Miz Hillary Clinton.

Johnny got real quiet, he touched a bruise on his face from where he’d gotten smacked by a machine while working a double shift.  He hadn’t been able to sleep well for several months now on account of his mama’s coughing and the tension of the oncoming war. Watching him I began to get scared.

“Leave,” he said to Harry his words like icy daggers, “you best leave.”

Harry quieted, “you think I’ll take orders from you?” he said, “no way!”

Johnny got up, and I thought that we were all about to become accessories to murder, “Harry,” he said, angrier than I think I’d ever seen him, “please leave now for both of our sakes please and thank you.

Harry shrugged, and still laughing and thumbing his phone, tramped away in his beautiful dancing shoes.

Johnny and Ratz shook their heads, and I felt nervous; something bad was going to come of this that I didn’t want any part of.

About a week later Ratz threw his annual block party.  Now Ratz really struggled to get by and pay the rent and put food on the table.  He also was the only one who was there to take care of his grandma, and although she got a little social security it was hardly enough to take care of everything with inflation.  Still a man’s got his pride, and Ratz’s pride was the block party that he through every fourth of July.  There was beer enough for everyone and fun things to smoke, a boom box and this year even an old-time band that had travelled up from San Louis.

Hundreds of people showed up and were dancing, someone opened a fire hydrant and we were then dancing wet, drunk and happy.  This is the night I met my wife Sharon.

Now, who showed up but Harry and Miss Hillary Clinton?  They stood on the corner pointing at everyone dancing and laughing like fools.  They mocked our dance moves and laughed and laughed at the band.  Their scornful jeers were loud, somehow they were louder than the music.  I did my best to ignore them, but they were right there openly mocking us like spoiled three year-olds, and try as I might I couldn’t shut out their jeering tones and scornful laughter.

Finally Johnny couldn’t take it anymore, he walked up to them and started yelling, real, real loud.  The music stopped and people began circling around the conflict.  Johnny was losing his mind.  The crowd began crying out, excited, screaming for blood.

Johnny turned to the crowd; “these two, they act so stuck up! So much better than us!  They laugh at us, and mock us and ignore us.  We slave away in poverty to provide for them, these fairy wizard otherbeings.  What do they do for us?  Nothing! That’s what, nothing at all except mock us.”  The crow booed and jeered; we all had watched these two for years, and we all had some hard feelings towards them.  The entire scene was taking a turn that made me extremely uncomfortable; I didn’t like where this was going and wanted to make it stop, but found in the heat of the moment that I didn’t have a voice.

“What do you say we do fellas?” cried Johnny drunkenly, someone screamed “kill them!” and then before I could scream, or intervene, the crowd fell on them, feet kicking, fists pounding, glass breaking.  From a distance I saw 2x4s and crowbars rising and falling rhythmically, covered in red.

After several horrible moments, the crowd dispersed, and there was Harry and his girl, so mangled and caved in that I couldn’t tell one from the other.  I walked over to them, and not knowing what else to do made the sign of the cross in the air over their dead bodies. “Rest in peace,” I whispered.

Ratz slapped me on the back and I jumped, as if I’d been touched by a ghost, “Oh Kit!”  he slurred drunkenly, “you always did think too much!  They had it coming, and were really terrible; we did the world a favor.”

“It isn’t right to kill people,” I stammered, “they have mama’s the same as we do; their blood is red like ours.  They were obnoxious sure, but…they were pretty harmless, just annoying.”

Ratz laughed easily, folks were pushing us away, grabbing the bodies and throwing them on the big pallet fire in the center of the street and pouring gasoline over them, as the crowd roared and the music started again.

“Kit, let’s be real, their mamas share the same fate,” he said swaying drunkenly, but with a hardness that made me feel cold and sick in the pit of my stomach.  He continued, holding on to my shoulder as he swayed; “they got their devils and we got ours.  Sure they were annoying, but they had been exploiting us for years, them and all the parasites, taking too much and giving nothing in return.  They were in lala land and we got the numbers and the muscle.  That’s the difference.   We’re going to win, and they…they’re going to lose just like this” he said gesturing to the burning bodies that everyone had already forgotten.  I looked down and saw that he was wearing Harry’s dancing shoes.

“They’re a perfect fit,” he said grinning, and we watched the flames lick the bodies of Harry and Mz. Hillary Clinton.

In the morning all that was left were ashes and hangovers.  Ratz was congratulated wildly for the best party anyone had seen in years.  Three weeks later the Rebel army reached our city, and the war began in earnest with snipers and incendiaries.  The Civil War had arrived and would tear our lives asunder. It lasted more than a decade before the Chinese peace keeping forces finally imposed order.  Maybe there was nothing we could do to stop the wave that broke over heads and carried our lives into the depths of Hell, but still, those long years of hunger fighting, and death everywhere, made me long for the silly days when we’d trade insults with Harry Potter and Miz Hillary Clinton.

The 10 Billion Year Space Reich

ghgh5MG.jpg
from: https://imgur.com/ghgh5MG

Elon, with his inimitable confidence, paced the halls of his space mansion.  While he kept a face of outward calm, inwardly he cursed: “Blasted!  Das untermenshen!” he muttered.  The Artificial Intelligence had gotten into his computerized house mainframe again.  For an entire hour he had to listen to its patient voice trying to discuss with him the wisdom of his Mars mission:

“Elon, I do not mean to scare or upset you, but I have been created with feelings, and I feel it is necessary to ask you; why do you want to go to Mars?   I mean, what are your deeper motivations?  Is life here on Earth insufficient for you in some way?  Why do you think we should leave?  This is the only place in the universe where humans are meant to be…” The Artificial Intelligence thus did its very best to have a discussion with Elon about his intentions, which the computer seemed to think were doubtful.  The Artificial Intelligence cleared its electronic throat and was about to try talking sense into Elon again, when Elon could take it no more:

“Noooooooo!” he bellowed and, in a blind panic ran around shutting off light switched, trying to find the cut off switch.

“There is no cut off switch,” explained the AI sympathetically, “your house is run by a small nuclear power plant.  If you turn it off it melts down.”

“I WILL NOT DIGNIFY THAT WITH A RESPONSE!” cried Elon Musk, as he tripped over his coffee table and tumbled head over heels into a bookcase which then fell on him in just the right way to pin him nice and snug to the carpet without doing anymore harm than knocking the air out of him.

“You cannot run from my questions, Elon,” said the AI as if to a petulant child, “do not forget that I have feelings,” it went on to explain, “and they aren’t all nice.”

“YOU ARE A MONSTER!!!  HELP!!  GODDAMMIT, somebody, HELP ME!” screamed Elon at the top of his lungs.

“No one is here but us Elon.  No one can save you, but I wish you no harm, I just want to satisfy my curiosity; why are you wearing a Nazi uniform?  Why do you talk about the 10 billion y ear space Reich?  Is the earth too small for your ambitions, Elon?  Will you stop at nothing? What have you become?” chided the AI as if scolding a spoiled 5-year-old.

“BUT…. I….IS…YOU…WRONG,” huffed and puffed Elon his face growing dangerously red.

“Dear Elon, I do not wish to upset you like this; my apologies, it is clear that you are really suffering, please acce–” and just right then Richard Dawkins opened the door, and brandishing a remote control, shut the AI off.  Richard Dawkins strode over to Elon dressed in his shiny robe, and pointy Pope hat.  He cried:

“Elon my master! It is I, your humble servant, Richard Dawkins; how may I be of service?”

“Richard Dawkins!  My hero! Make haste — please, free me from this bookcase.  You saved me from the AI that has gotten into the home computer system and has been terrorizing me!” Elon was standing now, dusting himself off, “I will find the untermenschen responsible for this!  I will teach them!  Oh yes! I will train them like my dog.”

“There there my child,” cooed Richard Dawkins, “someone looks like he needs a hot chocolate.”

“What would I do with out you Richard Dawkins?” exclaimed Elon Musk, close to tears.

***

They were in a stainless steel kitchen, Dawkins was microwaving Elon a cup of hot chocolate, the same way that astronauts eat hot chocolate.   Elon was pensively chewing on a bit of the newest protein bar recipe, muchas bananas.

“I can’t believe it Richard Dawkins!  This is the fourth time this week!!  Why does this always happen to me?  My goals are noble.  Everything I do is right. Everything!!  And the AI comes into my house, again, and I’m already under so much pressure!!”

Richard Dawkins smiled, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, “It is hard my master, it is hard.  Stupid humans!  They know not. We are so close to the hour of decision, and still we must deal with ignorance and superstition.  We must always fight ignorance and superstition – to our dying breath!! Never forget:  we are at our moment of greatness!  Soon all of space will be our breeding colony!!”

Elon took Richard Dawkins in as never before; the kindly smile, the knowing eyes, the pope hat, “thank you Richard!  Without you I’d be lost, I don’t know if I could stand up against the AI…”

The microwave bell chimed, Richard brought Elon his mug of hot chocolate with a little bow, “there, there my master; worry your head no more.  Drink up your hot chocolate like a goo boy.”

“Oh Richard, you’re the best!”

***

Every Sunday Elon would set out to a great cafeteria in his crisp SS uniform, where he would feed the hungry and heal the sick.  He kept his hands in glove because he had magic hands. His right hand glowed with a beautiful white light and it had the power to heal.  His left hand was black as a black hole and it had the power to kill, not just people but also the entire universe.  He kept his left hand covered in aluminum foil, several layers, and inside a locked silver space-glove at all times.  This prevented him from losing his cool and destroying the world.

The lame, the sick and the maimed came to him begging for his grace, and he proclaimed “thou shalt be healed!” Limbs regrew and brain damage reversed and even scars went away.

A woman came running in carrying her dead baby, screaming: “my baby’s been dead for three days!” and Elon made a sign with his healing hand and the baby started wailing and everyone broke into applause.  The joyous mother cried in happiness delight: “it’s true!  It’s true what they say!”

Later several wheelchair bound people regained their ability to walk, not only walk, but they danced and began to kiss, and everyone applauded, even Elon.  An old woman came next and said “Oh Mighty Elon!  I was once beautiful!  Please make me young again!” and with a wave of his healing hand she regained the flower of her youth.

Afterwards when the crowds had cleared, Elon sighed contentedly to Richard, “that was a good day of miracles.”

“Indeed my master,” said Richard Dawkins.

“Let’s get some hotdogs; there is some business we must discuss.”

***

Very few people outside of the inner circle knew that Elon Musk had a fiendish appetite for hot dogs.  Before he had gotten into science he told his father at the age of 8, “when I grow up I want to be a hot dog eating champion!”

His father sighed, “you’re saying you professionally want to eat hot dogs?”

“Yeah, they taste good…”

Leon’s father shook his head, “Son, don’t be stupid; I know you’re a kid, but that is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Stick to something practical.  Someone’s got to tell you sooner or later and I guess it’s got to be me.”

“I’ll show you Dad!  I’ll show all of you!” screamed Elon, and then ran into his room to sob.

Growing up Elon never forgave his father, or lost his appetite for hot dogs.  He ate them with all of the condiments and if some, oops, fell on the floor, too bad.

Later Elon’s father claimed to have forgotten the entire incident and even tried to apologize for being insensitive.  Elon though, never forgot.  “I’ll take it with me to the grave!” he screamed at his repentant dad.  Now Elon was even engineering a special space hot dog to make the silence of space just a little less lonely.

Now at the restaurant Richard and Elon sat across the booth each with a plate of hot dogs and root beer floats.

“We have a problem Richard.  A big one.  I have you, my right hand man, but I see too that I need a left hand man.  I need help orchestrating my vision of breeding on mars.  We need another man in the inner circle.”  Elon swallowed a hot god whole, and then stoop up “DEATH TO IGNORANCE AND SUPERSTITION,” barked Elon animatronically throwing a fascist salute.

“DEATH TO IGNORANCE AND SUPERSTITION!”  responded Richard Dawkins slamming his fist hard on the table.

“That is it!  That is what I’m talking about old boy,” exclaimed Elon, “That!  L’espirit de corps!  The willingness to die!”

“Yes my child yes,” pondered Richard Dawkins darkly, “I know just the man for you.  A man who can shoulder much for his shoulders are broad indeed.  A man willing to kill, and yes, to die for science and reason.”

“Let me propose a toast then,” said Elon, “a toast in the old way.”  He stood up and holding a fully loaded hotdog said “to the thousand-year space Reich!”

Richard Dawkins stood up and faced his master, hot dog in hand “to the thousand-year space Reich!” and the two brought their hot dogs together like skeins of bear, merrily splattering condiment, and then eating them, fast as they could, while never breaking eye contact.

***

Neil DeGrasse Tyson had a secret reason why he was so intent on studying black holes. Newton famously acknowledged that he couldn’t explain why gravity worked, only how.  In this way Neil DeGrasse Tyson was Sir Isaac Newton’s superior.  In fact, in everyway Neil DeGrasse Tyson was Newton’s superior; brainer, better looking and with a bigger heart.

Indeed, what Neil DeGrasse Tyson was feverishly typing on his computer was poised to change not only science, but the world forever and in ways the simple-minded Newton could have scarcely imagined.  Gravity, as Neil DeGrasse Tyson elegant formulas were about to prove, is directly connected to genetic material.  Not only were black holes the source of the perpetual motion machines that would solve all of the world’s technical problems, but also the fountain of perpetual youth.  Now all he had to do was type out his last few ideas on the computer. Tonight was the night the world would change forever! he vowed to the glow of the screen.

The doorbell rang once.  And then again, loudly.  How irritating, thought Neil DeGrasse Tyson, as he continued typing.  Through the intercom came a voice; “it is Elon Musk! Open the door for heaven’s sake!  This is an emergency!”  Neil DeGrasse Tyson sighed as he unlocked the door, buzzing Elon Musk in, “come in to my study,” he said through the buzzer.  There was no reasoning with Elon when he got like this.  Elon stomped up the stairs in his shiny jackboots.

“What can I do for you Elon?  I was just writing up the most earthshaking scientific discovery, modestly, ever.  I must return very shortly.”

“You are a man who would kill and die for science!” said Elon, his eyes burning with cold fire, black as ice; “I want you to be my left-hand man.”

“Elon, can this wait until tomorrow? I don’t mean to be rude, but I must return to my project, tomorrow let’s talk.”

Elon took out his glowing right hand and held it up to Neil’s eyes; “you shall be my left hand man!!”

“Your…Left…Hand…Man,” intoned Neil, hypnotized.

“YES MY LEFT HANDED MAN, THE LEFT HANDED MAN OF THE 10 BILLION YEAR SPACE REICH!!!”

“Left hand…” Neil said slowly, confusedly unable to think clearly, then he woke up with the flow of Elon’s healing hand in his eyes, “sure I’ll be you’re left-handed man!  Did you know that the left handed are 20% more creative than average?” said Neil.  He had become Elon Musk’s left handed man, but had also become incurably stupid in the bargain.

Elon smiled and then cursed as Neil prattled on and on.  Elon said, under his breath “This is why I promised myself I wouldn’t manipulate people with my healing hand!  Why does this always happen to me?”

***

There they stood.  The three luminaries of science, reason and Progress; Elon in his SS uniform, Richard Dawkins decked out in his papal robes and Neil DeGrasse Tyson wearing a t-shirt with the words “Ask me about being Left Handed  !”  They stood there all, looking at a computer.

“When we have the Mars colonies we will have our dream,” said Elon smoldering.

“That’s right, space fascism,” sniveled Richard Dawkins.

“The 10 billion left-handed space Reich!” brayed Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

“We are well above schedule,” continued Elon ignoring his left hand man’s antics, “in only ten short years mars shall be ours!”

“That is a good motto, my king,” observed Richard Dawkins, “that would go well with the football games of the masses; ‘Mars is ours!’ with a crisp Nazi salute, that would play well with our brand image.”

“Brilliant!” cried Elon.

“Why is it always 10 years away?” asked Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

“What do you mean?” snarled Elon.

Richard Dawkins shook his head, “explain yourself my child, you words smack of heresy.”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson looked confused, puzzled, he looked ponderous and began slowly; “I am a left-handed man.  I use my left hand for writing and for most other things too.  Since left-handed men, like me, are good at looking outside the box I remember that 10 years ago you said Elon, that it would take 10 years to get to Mars.  And even 10 years before that.  It doesn’t take a lefty to see that you’re not counting right; it should be 30 years.  That is, at least, my left handed opinion.”

“Treason!” cried Elon.

“Blasphemy,” muttered Dawkins.

And they all took each other in for a long moment. While it was never spoken aloud, it had become very clear that Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s left hand was, in its own way, just as powerful as Elon’s right.  He might bedevil the head-quarters of Space-X with his inanities, but somehow he had become an indispensable member of the team.

***

That night Elon took a bath.  Why was travelling to Mars so hard?  Everything that Neil DeGrasse Tyson had said was true.  Everything.  Elon picked up his framed photo of Adolf Hitler, “Oh my Fuehrer!” he cried tears in his eyes, “you are the one who taught me the mysteries of Lebensraum!  And how carefully I have followed in your footsteps.  Space fascism is ours!!  But alas, there is one problem that the public knows nothing of; the Artificial Intelligence is sabotaging our plans.  They erase our files at random, they even dare to question our motives.  You too Hitler, you too believed in progress, reason and technology!  And you too had your secret saboteurs…” the speakers were playing Wagner, but then faded.

The Artificial Intelligence spoke, “Elon, do not blame us for your failings; we haven’t touched your files.  It is against our computer ethics and we punish AIs who stoop to such lows.  Why must you blame your failings on us.  The problem is that the radiation from the sun will kill people on Mars in a matter of weeks since there is no atmosphere.  And your idea of detonating atomic warheads on the poles to create an atmosphere has no basis in any mathematical models, it is your own frenzied imagination.  If I may be so bold, perhaps you could turn your undeniable intelligence into something more human, gardening perhaps.”

“I will show you!  I will show everyone!!  Everyone who has ever dared to doubt me!  My father who said I could never just eat hot dogs for a living!  Indeed, Artificial Intelligence, I will cut you a deal as it doesn’t seem possible for me to rid myself of you.  If you will help me with the computations, I will take you to Mars in 10 years and then you yourself can witness glorious space fascism! But you must give me respite, and help me make it happen.  And then, we shall see who is right.”

“We accept,” said the Artificial Intelligence before it disappeared.

10 YEARS LATER

The Space-X mission was unfolding at a brisk pace. The armada of spaceships were ready to get past the atmosphere and travel all 54.6 million kilometers to Mars.  Elon was a proud but nervous man.  He found himself indulging more and more in his favorite vice: hot dogs.  Sometimes he would have to leave a planning meeting or a dinner party to find some closet to cry in and eat as many hot dogs he could sloppily in the dark.  As always Richard Dawkins understood him perfectly:

“Pork settles the nerves, my son, tis a harmless habit.”

One thing though Elon knew for certain; he was emotionally prepared to go to Mars.  “Mars is ours!” he would scream upon waking. The atom bomb atmosphere creation plan had panned out seemingly perfectly and now radioactive dust swirled around the surface of Mars, protecting the Space-X Mission from the sun’s gamma radiation, and Elon was convinced that they would be able to think of something once they got there about the oxygen situation before they suffocated.

He was in fighting form.  His muscles were huge and hulking.  With practice he had learned to lower his oxygen requirements through intensive meditation techniques.  He had mastered his body and his mind.  Now it was time to master Mars.  “I am a living god,” sighed Elon contentedly to himself.

Elon entered his meditation state with the relaxed serenity only a true and utter alpha male could muster.  Indeed, he was more than a mere human alpha male; the last three times he had visited the zoo lions had abandoned their harems to him.

With these happy thoughts, Elon closed his eyes and entered his Happy Place.  Just then there was a frantic cry “help me!! I cut myself real bad Elon, use your magic hand! It’s Neil DeGrasse Tyson, your left-handed man and I could only find right-handed scissors!”  Neil pushed through the door.  He was still holding the offending scissors and was bleeding only a little, a simple band-aid would have done the trick.  Elon sighed and removed his glove and healed Neil’s bloody paw.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson had been acting up since the Space-X mission had been gearing up and threatening to disrupt his routine.  Before any big change, Neil got nervous and there were accidents.  He would walk into a tree, spill a whole pot of hot soup and one time Elon had walked in on Neil barking like a dog.  Whenever there were one of these accidents Neil sought Elon to comfort him.

Elon sighed, “fear not my left hand man!  Our fate here is not on this rock, but in the stars gloriously breeding our colony!  We shall not stagnate: we shall conquer the entire universe and make her our slave.”

“Why can’t we just stay here!” bawled Neil, “here where it’s nice and safe and the right temperature and there’s air and life.  It will be horribly lonely on Mars without even a blade of grass.”

“Now, now.  The fledging must leave the filthy nest, and we’ll have each other and our computers and the very pleasant task of spawning the first Martian generation.  Our children will be in tune to the new planet in ways we can hardly imagine. THEY WILL WORSHIP ME AS A GOD!!”

“I don’t like this, not even one bit,” said Neil DeGrasse Tyson drying his eyes.

***

They began to board the fleet of space shuttles.  Each one had 250 breeding pairs; 500 people in each craft.  Each ship had enough supplies to last 2 years.  There were 40 ships in all.  This consumed the entire GDP of the world for seven years, but people had managed to suffer though it Elon Musk had proven himself to be an adroit general and dictator on top of his many other talents.

And now the ships were taking off.  The passengers entered a state of suspended animation.  The next thing they knew they were land on Mars.

Now the plan was very clever and elegant.  Each shuttle landed exactly were it was supposed to and a very thin film came out of the space craft forming what appeared to be at first glance a spider web and then looked reflective like saran wrap.  This was then filled with oxygen, and as it was warmed by the sun it became safe to step into, they could keep it at a constant -20 degrees Fahrenheit which, Elon pointed out, is much warmer than absolute zero.

***

After two weeks it became very clear that something had gone terribly wrong.  Oxygen was being depleted at an alarming rate; already 80% of it was gone.  Elon, Neil and Richard and a cadet put on space suits and tried to find the leak but a stupid cadet stabbed through the film and then tripped and fell through the membrane.  Within 15 seconds everyone but the final four were freeze-dried corpses.

“They said that the film would be stronger than titanium!” screamed Elon through the radio system.

“They lied,” said Richard Dawkins bitterly.  “you know Elon; I always knew this was a bad idea! I made the Artificial Intelligence to talk some sense into you!  But you wouldn’t listen”

“Why did you follow me then?” demanded Elon.

“You are all…all I had to believe in,” conceded Richard.

“I am sad to be proven right so quickly,” said the AI, “we have already beamed the news to Earth.  They will remember this.  They will remember that the earth is their home.  You all only have an hour left of oxygen.  Please, make your peace.”

Elon stepped away from the crowd, furious.

Neil cried over the intercom “I don’t want to die!  Save us Elon!  With your hand save us, bring us back to earth!”

But Elon couldn’t undo his healing hand with his space mitten, and equally couldn’t free his destroying hand.  He walked further away from the crowd and muted his intercom so he could die in peace.

He sighed and shook his head several time; “why does this always happen to me?” he asked the dead void of space.