That evening, after diagnosing myself as a victim of social deprivation, I descended the stairs from my bachelor apartment and sauntered several blocks down the street to a popular non-Mormon drinking establishment known as the Heretic Lounge. There I chose a small table and, when the barmaid came, asked her what drink she might propose for a religious skeptic. She suggested a Latter Day Stout; I lethargically agreed.
While strumming my fingers on the table waiting for my drink, I noticed a young woman across the room sitting at another small table, alone and keyboarding at a furious pace. When the barmaid returned with a mug of stout, I impulsively instructed her to place a second Latter Day drink at the young woman’s disposal, “courtesy,” I said, “of a fellow scribbler.” Then I returned to my reclusive state, staring by turns at the floor and the ceiling.
The ensuing week was one of small discoveries in my quest for a deep understanding of my self and my world. Indeed, my discoveries were so modest that I need instance only one. During that week I became adept at ascending the commode, where I both attempted to perform the acts commonly associated with that device and practiced the first five steps toward the liberation of my “Real Self Within,” or, as I preferred, the Sanskrit term purusa.
That week I also began to settle into a routine that was both congruent with the general schedule of the Heartland Retirement Center and compatible with my own gifts and aspirations.
6:00. Awaken to sound of alarm clock. Plan day. Contemplate the wonders of God’s creation, w/ special attention to Miss April & Prof. Calloway.
7:00. Reach about the floor for my cane. Rise. Make way to kitchen, while reflecting on topics philosophical, religious, literary.
7:45. Fix breakfast. Menu: see earlier description.
8:00. Make way to bathroom. Insert teeth in lower part of face.
8:15. Return to kitchen. Eat breakfast.
9:00. Make way back to bathroom. Assume throne, etc. Shave. Take bath.
10:45. Avoid panic attack by sallying forth into the world.
10:52. Return to apartment. Apply Old Spice deodorant. Dress.
11:30. Sally forth again. Explore hallways in search of adventure.
12:15. Proceed to dining hall. Partake of meal with fellow inmates. Audit colloquy concerning quality of food compared to quality of food in restaurants in both Heartland and the greater world beyond—New York, Vienna, Paris, Prague, Rome, Sydney, etc. Audit descriptions of common lot of geriatric maladies: year of onset, degree of severity, physician’s prognosis, prescriptions prescribed, benefits received. Audit (embellished) accounts of feats of strength, skill, mental acuity, performed in former years.
1:00. Return to apartment. Perch atop commode. Practice yogic posture and breathing.
2:00. Return to bedroom. Take siesta.
4:00. Awaken. Sally forth. Explore hallways.
5:30. Return to apartment. Prepare evening repast.
6:45. Eat. Menu: ham sandwich; can of soup; glass of wine.
7:30. Make way to study. Read selected passages from encyclopedias, eighteenth and nineteenth c. British novels.
9:00. Return to bathroom. Perch upon throne while considering techniques of writing successful novel.
9:45. Dismount throne. Remove teeth, place in water glass.
10:00. Retire to bedroom. Remove clothes. Place cane on floor within easy reach. Recline on bed. Contemplate image of Professor Calloway in her yogic posture.
10:45 (approx.). Fall asleep.
Next morning Benny launched “Religion Talk” on the maiden voyage KKKS had been spotting for the last three weeks.
He began the show by speaking of Kirkland’s deeply-felt, long-standing need for an enlightening but lively radio show on the topic of religion. He went on to acknowledge his lifelong interest in the subject, taking care not to mention his excommunication from the Amish community and his adventures under the church pews with Lucy. He told about his recent sojourn in California, where, he said, he had spent two weeks visiting various synagogues, cathedrals, charismatic churches, mosques, Buddhist monasteries, and spiritualist mentors, taking care not to mention the imaginary episode in which he had gotten in touch with the mother he had never known. He spoke glowingly of his experiences with a New Wave church and of the many services it had to offer, taking care not to mention that he was on its payroll.
On the last Wednesday afternoon in June, while Ed was reading the copy of Mollshe had bought at a garage sale, the phone rang.
Perhaps bought isn’t the word. What had happened was this. The previous Saturday morning he had accompanied Mildred on her weekly bargain hunt, and while she was checking out the action in pant suits, he’d come across a stack of magazines—several copies of Arousal, a Playmate or two, and the Molls—items that he, with time on his hands and no Classics at his disposal, paged through, just out of idle curiosity. Mildred came over to him to share her delight over the discovery of a white pant suit, size six, which would have to be dyed pink and ironed and taken in at the waist but was otherwise just perfect. He became so enthusiastic over her purchase that he accidentally slipped the Molls between the folds of the pant suit, an oversight that went undiscovered until they got home and Mildred was on the phone to Thelma with news of her fabulous buy and he was continuing to admire that bargain when what to his astonishment should fall out of the folds of that pant suit but the copy of Molls.
The living room of the tent. Sara is dressed as before, except that her hair is in curlers. She again knits pink booties, again stiﬂes sobs. The calendar reads “June 1938 b.c.”
Narrator’s Voice: And when Hagar saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.
There is a respectful knock on the tent ﬂap.
Sara: (Calling) Come in.
Sara: (Looking up) Oh it’s you, Hagar.
Hagar: (British Accent) Yes Mum, it’s me, Mum, your loyal handmaid Hagar, Mum.
Sara: (Angrily) Where have you been? You’re ﬁve hours late.
Hagar: I have been out sacriﬁcing an animal, Mum, to the pagan goddess Isis, Mum.
Sara: Who in hell is Isis?
Hagar starts to dust the furniture.
Hagar: She’s not in hell, Mum, she’s a nature goddess. Worship of Isis originated in ancient Egypt and is destined, Mum, to extend throughout the Mediterranean world, or I miss my guess.
Sara: And what animal have you been sacriﬁcing, my good handmaid Hagar? Not one of mine husband Abram’s sheep, I hope?
Hagar: (Innocently) Oh no, Mum. It was a rabbit, Mum, an itty-bitty rabbit.
Sara: (Interested) A rabbit, huh? Tell me, how do you do it? I’ve been trying to kill a rabbit for nearly sixty years.
Hagar: It’s easy, Mum.
Hagar stops dusting to explain.
Hagar :If I may be so bold, Mum, there are three simple steps.
Sara: (With great curiosity) And what is the ﬁrst step?
Hagar: If I was you, Mum, I’d ﬁrst hold off on the bon-bons.
Sara: And what do you expect the former Miss Holy Land to eat while she’s reading her Harlequin Romances and knitting booties?
Hagar: Alfalfa sprouts, Mum, between a pair of salt-free crackers.
Sara: Sounds terrible. And what is the second step?
Hagar: The curlers, Mum. They’ve got to go.
Sara: But my raven tresses are the glory of my womanhood, the essence of my sexuality! Plus, they make me feel good about myself.
Hagar takes a vanity mirror and holds it before Sara’s eyes. She ﬂuffs Sara’s hair.
Hagar: I’m sure they do, Mum, but your beautiful hair has a natural wave to it, Mum, rendering curlers quite superﬂuous.
Sara: Well . . . I’ll think about it. And the third step?
Hagar: Begging your pardon, Mum, but they’ve got some real nice teddies down at Frederick’s of Hollywood.
Sara: And how would that look on the former Miss Holy Land?
Hagar :Right now, Mum, not so good, but after six months on alfalfa sprouts and salt-free crackers . . .
Great-grandma was a true Reisender, which, we were regularly reminded, is the German word for traveler. In her lifetime she’d covered half the world, from Prussia to Russia to the heart of Asia to Kansas and finally on to Idaho. She’d been born in old Prussia back in the middle of the nineteenth century and her family had moved to Russia when she was a young girl. Before coming to America she’d been married to Great- grandpa in a Muslim mosque out in the wilds of Central Asia, which is a story in itself.At the time I didn’t know the details; in fact, the whole thing was a big secret. Grandpa told us kids we were too young to understand, so after we looked up “Muslim” and “mosques” and “Central Asia” in the encyclopedia Karen and I came up with our own theories. I dreamed up the idea that Central Asia was the ancient version of the Wild West and that Great-grandpa had borrowed a horse or two that didn’t belong to him and when this was discovered he and Great-grandma decided Russia wasn’t the best place to raise a family after all and became outlaws. Karen had it figured that Central Asia was the ancient version of Reno; it was where you went to get married if you jumped the gun and this happened to be reported to the preacher. But our theories were just guesses. And they didn’t account for that mosque.
It would seem that Corky Ra has been caught with a hand in the cookie jar of plagiarism.
Take the webpage entitled “SUMMUMand The Kybalion,” which is attributed to Corky under his venerable name, Summum Bonum Amen Ra. Here we find what amounts to a case for his innocence: “Summum… rewrites the information found in The Kybalionin a manner more appropriate for our modern era. It also presents new material not found in The Kybalion, thus giving a complete and more indepth outline of an age-old philosophy. The US Copyright Office considers Summum … a ‘derivative work,’ while from a broader perspective, it is a continuation of a neverending story.”
In addition to this defense, there was, on the former webpage “The Pendulum of Pleasure and Pain,” a transcription tape of one of Corky’s informal talks. Among other things, he says that “in The Kybalion, there is a little comment, and … it doesn’t belong in the book at all … these guys did their own interpretation of it … and in one paragraph they say something like, we cannot have any immorality in society like if you saw some frontal nudity on cable TV and stuff it would be the worst thing you could do, and to condone anything like that would be a person not on the path and stuff like that. I thought, ‘Jesus! These guys really got a lot of balls to put something like that in this kind of book!’ It came from nowhere … and they are personal opinions from the commentator, and you sort of have to look over them and look for the deep truth that is in the book that has been passed down for thousands of years.”