breaking of habit produces a change in the machine." - George Gurdjieff
Nathan stood patiently at the window, as he did every night, hoping to catch a glimpse of Marianne, as she undressed for bed. It was his final opportunity to see a
naked woman before being sent to Vietnam; and he had every intention of storing that glorious image most vividly in his mind. I would rather pledge allegiance to her, he thought, as he contemplated
the strange and brutal society in which he lived.
Appalled by the idea of war, the teenager had accepted a Bible, where he had hoped to find some solace, if not answers to his questions. But what he found there was
the God of war Himself, Jehovah of Armies, whose slaughter knew no bounds. How appropriate, he soon realised, that society should openly worship a God such as that, rather than turn away in
disgust. No matter where he looked, it seemed, there was a fog of words and concepts, slowly turning human beings into little more than robots.
Yes, I would rather worship her, he thought, as Marianne began to unbutton her blouse. No words were necessary for that, he discerned - just a pounding heart and an
unfettered instinct. Yet he could see no way for such primal feelings to find expression in the modern world. And so he retreated into a world of his own; a world of exquisite gentleness and
beauty, where Marianne's body became the temple at which he worshipped, daily.
It was to become the world that he lived in for most of the war. Whenever he saw blood, it would be Marianne's menstrual blood. And whenever he heard a loud noise or
explosion, it would be the distant thunder of a passing storm. It seemed that nothing from outside could shake Nathan's world; certainly not the ever-present fog of words that he knew were
corroding the very fabric of reality itself - or what was left of it.
On one particular day, however, he was jolted by the sight of a naked young woman. That she was dirty and crying didn't change the fact that he found her to be
profoundly beautiful. Somewhat awestruck by her sudden appearance, time seemed to stand still, leaving nothing but the distant thunder of a passing storm. Only it wasn't a passing storm, of course,
and time hadn't really stood still. As Nathan struggled to understand what horrors he was now witnessing, he could only conclude that he was in some sort of terrible nightmare. For the woman had
been smashed to pieces, it seemed, and two of his buddies were dancing around with strange hats in place of their helmets. Only they weren't hats.
Nathan threw-up, violently, as he emerged into the nightmare of the real world; a nightmare from which he knew he could never truly awaken, because the world itself
had unconsciously created it - a world that was now made of fog, sustained by fog, and continuously generating fog. A fog of words.
After returning home, minus his left leg, he noticed that the atmosphere had become significantly heavier and denser. Education, politics, religion, TV, the media...
Even the object of his affection had been consumed by the all-pervasive fog. "You saved me," he told Marianne, "time and again you saved me. Now let me save you."
But she wouldn't listen. "You're deluded," she told him, "just leave me alone."
And so, of course, he obeyed her wishes. As for Marianne, she went on to identify herself as a Christian
Conservative. She took a teaching job at the local primary school, got married, had two children, got divorced, and finally died of cancer at the age of 58.
Nathan still speaks about the fog, to anyone who will listen. "It has become like a thick, black treacle," he maintains, "sticky and relentless." He also speaks about
Marianne, or rather the divine energy that she once represented. Armed with facts about ancient Goddess worship, he insists that only by venerating the feminine, and reclaiming our sexuality, can
we hope to cleanse the world and emerge from the darkness. "I knew it," he can often be heard muttering to himself, "I was right all along."
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