TPD pp 162-165: Lolwut?

What is this I don’t even.

The last time I felt this way was over a hundred pages ago, with a brief interlude about a businessman having lost a package from a professor and his secretary saying she’ll find it.

Now, apparently, we’re getting back to that plotline. Nothing makes any sense, mind, but we’re back to that. So yay?

Chapter 17 opens in a “faraway secluded valley”, in a “little cluster of unlabelled buildlings hidden by rocky crags”. There’s a huge office complex where 200+ people are running to and fro, packing up their entire operation onto trucks. Then we meet this woman:

She was tall and slender, with long, jet-black hair; she wore black, loose-fitting clothes, and she clutcher her shoulder bag close to her side with pale, trembling hands. [...] She reached into her bag and brought out a pair of dark sunglasses with which she covered her eyes. Then she stepped down from the porch and started across the plaza toward the office building.

The nervous goth is referred to by her coworkers (?) as “the Maidservant”. Article included.

“What does the Maidservant require?”

“No idea, but the Hulk is still waiting on that crate of new pants, if you don’t mind.”

The Maidservant asks to run some copies on their copier, with the office manager bowing and scraping before her in a way that honestly feels very “Look at me, I’m in a cult!” and not very “manager in a large business”, if that makes any sense to you. She makes some copies from a little book and scurries back to the large house she had initially came from. She then re-wraps the book into a package so it will look like it bears no evidence of her tampering.

This package has a return address from J. Langstrat.

Obviously this is the woman from the previous clip; the businessman’s name, or at least the alias Langstrat sends mail to, is Alexander M Kaseph. So why is the Maidservant secretly rebelling against Kaseph? I have no idea.

Kaseph is described as such:

a middle aged, roundly build man dressed in loose trousers and tunic sat Indian fashion on a large cushion.

Exotic, particularly Indian or Asian, stylistic elements means demons, by the way. And doesn’t it seem like loose fitting clothing is a clear sign of demonic influence? Real True Christians wear spandex, apparently.

The fine furnishings of a man of great prestige and power surrounded him: souvenirs from around the world, such as swords, war clubs, African artifacts, religious relics, and several grotesque idols of th East;a battleship of a desk

This is where I begin to lose track of the sentence; next to war clubs and swords, I’m picturing an actual battleship. Allow me to listify:

The fine furnishings of a man of great prestige and power surrounded him:

  • souvenirs from around the world, such as:
  • swords
  • war clubs
  • African artifacts
  • religious relics
  • several rather grotesque idols of the East
  • A battleship of a desk with:
  • built-in computer console
  • multilined telephone
  • an intercom
  • A long, deep-cushioned couch with matching hand-carved oak chairs and coffee table
  • hunting trophies of
  • bear
  • elk
  • moose
  • lion

Tell me that’s not way too full for one sentence.

Anyway, while the narration wants us to derive from the furnishings that he’s accomplished, I’m mostly getting that it’s a very large room. What I do see, however, is a clear trend toward violence (weapons and dead animals adorn the walls) and a bit of a power fantasy (hand-carved chairs means he made someone else toil for his own pleasure, albeit indirectly; having the latest and greatest of everything is another way of flaunting power). On that note, this book originally came out in 1983. That was the year Lotus 1-2-3 came out, the year the Apple Lisa (the first gui computer) was released as well as the more famous Apple IIe, the year PC world began, the year Microsoft Windows was announced. This was the era of DOS 2.0, BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL, Tron, and the Commodore 64. So what the heck is he doing with a computer built into his desk?

The Maidservant’s name turns out to be Susan. She brings him his long-awaited package, and he takes a while to bother opening his eyes. He accuses her of being troubled, but she blames it on the moving and the upheaval. We find out she grew up in Ashton, couldn’t wait to leave, and now claims to be hesitant about returning.

See, these guys are obviously evil; they’re trying to get into Ashton, when decent people are all leaving.

“On the one hand, you have no desire at all for the town, and on the other hand, you sneak off to attend the carnival.”

[...] “I was searching for something from my past, something from which to envision my future.”

He held her hand and said, “There is no past. You should have stayed with me. I hold the answers for you now.”

“Yes, I can see that. I couldn’t before.”

Creepy.

In one sense, though, this reads as a bit hypocritical. Doesn’t conversion to Christianity wipe away all your previous sins, make you over into a “new person”? Isn’t that the whole premise behind being “born again”? So isn’t it accurate to say that within certain Christian circles, the hope is that the past will be wiped away and that the reformed sinner will stay by Jesus’ side for all eternity,blindly trusting Jesus to hold all the answers? So the only thing she did wrong here is sticking with the wrong messiah. I don’t know about anyone else, but one of the driving factors towards my becoming pagan was that I was sick of being told I had no control or say in my own life, that it was all up to Jesus. Sitting on my heels waiting for Jesus to provide had never gotten me results, and I was tired of blaming that condition on my own wavering faith when I had the power to choose my own path in life rather than follow the one laid out for me.

So anyway, go Susan.

It turns out the meeting at the carnival was about retrieving Susan.

“But why did you even have to come looking for me? Why did you have to drag them along?”

He sat at the desk and began handling a wicked-looking ceremonial knife with a golden handle and razor-sharp blade.

Looking over the edge of the blade at her, he said, “Because, dear Maidservant, I do not trust you. I love you, I am one in essence with you, but…” He held the knife up to the level of his eye and peered down the edge of the blade at her, his eyes as sharply cutting as the knife. “I do not trust you. You are a woman given to many conflicting passions.”

Once again, a nice passage, well written (except for that clumsiness about his eye). But my analogy from earlier keeps nagging at me. A lot of Christian sects hold that man is innately sinful to such a degree that following one’s own passions, trying to do what is right based on one’s own judgement, is innately evil; the only judgement that can be followed is the judgement of Christ, distorted and warped through the centuries. Furthermore, there’s a history of treating women’s emotions like some kind of dark sorcery, something to be feared and mistrusted, much like Alexander does here with Susan.

Am I far off the mark here?

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5 Responses to TPD pp 162-165: Lolwut?

  1. Mau de Katt says:

    The main idea behind this particular segment is to show that The New Age, far from being a loose conglomeration of flaky ex-hippies and herbal-arts alternative healers (or so went the argument at the time), was really a Vast Organized Conspiracy, and even a Precurser to The Antichrist and the END TIMES, led by SATAN HIMSELF OMGWTF.

    Since things like meditation and yoga were making inroads into of a lot of extracurricular church activities, the Fundagelicals were really really concerned about this.

    Alexander Kaseph is supposed to be one of these Big Behind The Scenes Organizing Leaders, and the demon-choked skies are “proof” that it’s All Controlled By Satan. As for The Maidservant, I think she’s going to be part of some Surprise Reveal… but it’s been so long since I’ve read this book, I’ve forgotten who she really is. (Some poor woman — yes, women are inherently lead-astray-able — who was Led Astray but who later Repented and will help Our Heroes discover The Truth about the Evil Satanic New Age Takeover of their town. Or something. The bit with the manuscript is forshadowing, a placement of Chekhov’s Gun for use later on.)

    So the only thing she did wrong here is sticking with the wrong messiah.

    Pretty much, yes. It is a core belief of Fundagelicalism (i.e. Fundamentalists and.or Conservative Evangelicals) that, if you’re not a slave of Christ, you’re a slave of Satan. There is no middle ground or “other alternative”; if it’s not Jesus, it’s A Satanic Deception.

    • Skyknight says:

      Just to be sure…What, exactly, makes a middle ground impossible?

      • Mau de Katt says:

        I’m not sure there is an actual reason, other than just pure tautology. There’s probably a Bible proof-text that is used for this, but I’ve long since forgotten what it is. (Maybe riffing off the “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” one? I’m sure there’s another one or two that they combine with this one to “back it up,” if so.)

        • Skyknight says:

          I suppose a better question might be, why must Satan be the default if God is abjured? I’d think Satan would have more of a philosophy than “don’t do what God does”; that’s mere contrariness, not any kind of substantive methodology. And to head off the likely RTC rebuttal, neither is simple obedience to God. Which makes me wonder if RTCs see philosophy as valid in the first place (so…how do they think God arrives at his ideals? If, as is occasionally claimed, it’s all about what will best magnify his personal glory…Congratulations, those among the RTCs who claim such. You just devalued virtue, free will, reasoning, and EVERYTHING except glory and sycophantry.).

          • Taryn Fox says:

            First, the Bible proof text is probably the “no man can serve two masters” one.

            Second, the way I was taught is that Jesus and Satan are basically the only supernatural powers, period. So everything that isn’t 100% RTC is Of The Devil, and so are all supernatural anythings that aren’t themselves RTC-approved.

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