Tuesday, May 26, 2015

THE LESLIE GEDDES VARIATIONS - A NOVEL in PROGRESS








THE LESLIE GEDDES VARIATIONS


The main story line below is inspired by true events: the reincarnation of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes,  a shadow saint of the Vatican, fulfilling the prophecies in The Book of Revelation which will lead to the rise of a Third Rome.  

The story reflects the greatness of people I've known and the evil of people I've experienced.

I have necessarily changed names and events for privacy and narrative continuity, so I call it fiction and say that any similarity to people living or dead, places or situations is purely coincidental.   

And after all, until all of the prophecies are fulfilled, so will most others.


_______________________________________________________________________
CHAPTER 1

FAUST

Washington D.C., 2015

Faust wrote:

"The feast of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes is celebrated in her birthplace in Geddes, Scotland, each year on December 10 because on December 10, 1478, Philotheus of Pskov, a monk in Saint Petersberg, Russia, wrote a letter of prophecy to Ivan III. 

Among other things, he predicted that Russia would become "a Third Rome" when Saint Leslie Ann (of Geddes, Scotland) is restored to her "rightful" place in the Canon of Saints (more on this complicated tale later). The Knights of Saint Leslie Ann devoted their lives and fortunes to this mystical pursuit." 

Excerpted with permission from: "The Legend of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes and the Reality of the Muse Within the Hermeneutics of Roman Maps, and What it Means for International Relations Today in the Context of Russian-American Relations." (PhD. Thesis: -1962- Alex Jodorowsky, Princeton University.)

I had been told that Jodorowsky was crazy and to avoid him.


I tried.  



But before I could, he handed me a brittle copy of his Master’s thesis on Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes.



He devoted his life to Saint Leslie Ann, and destroyed himself for her, so this is Jodorowsky's story, not mine.  



Jodorowsky told me that finding the key of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes would save the world.  



He was obsessed with this nonsense.  



He was considered crazy by the rest of the Company.

Persecution complex, paranoia, delusions of grandeur, psychosis, or schizophrenia?  


I heard the whispers in the hallways and was cautioned to not engage him.



But, when I was also considered a liability to the Company too - too hot for the field and too hot to let go -  I found myself with him in the Company’s rubber room: Records Management.



We had desks next to each other in the basement of Langley and were supposed to be making lists of files to send to The National Archives.



Apparently, not trusted to do even that we simply sat passing time, counting the days to retirement.



Twenty-five more years for me but it seemed that at age 76, Jodorowsky really had no plans to ever leave.



So, I listened to him talk.


The first thing Jodorowsky told me is that her name was Leslie Geddes and she moved to Washington, D.C. from a little town named Geddes in Scotland.

The town itself is supposed to be cold and grey and grim, but it's claim to fame is the huge feast and celebration that takes place each December tenth.

This is The Feast of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes.

It is celebrated in Geddes, Scotland each year on December 10 because on that date in 1478, Philotheus of Pskov, a monk in Saint Petersberg, Russia, wrote a letter of prophecy to Ivan III.

Among other things, he predicted that Russia would become "a Third Rome" when Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes is restored to her "rightful" place in the Canon of Saints.

It's apparently a complicated and mystical tale full of contradictions and not much sense, but legend has it that a huge treasure was buried there in the 1400's by the Knights of Saint Leslie Ann, who devoted their lives and fortunes to her.

The legend lives on and each year thousands gather on that day to pay homage to the Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes before getting rip-roaring drunk and going out into the bogs on a treasure hunt.

So far, not a candlestick has been found. But the treasure hunters keep coming back for the ale, the fellowship and the dream of easy riches.

According to Jodorowsky, an incomplete version of the so-called Gospel of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes is in the Art and Archaeology stacks of the Art Museum of Princeton University Library in Princeton, NJ, in a box of the collected papers of Richard Halliburton.  

Attached to it is a note indicating that Halliburton discovered it in Nepal.  I says he traced the gospel to a sect descended from the Apostle Thomas.

The note by Halliburton reads:

“As narrated to me by a senior Abbott at the Potola Monastery, the two dahkini Les-lie and Fey-ling were witnessed by Saint Thomas on his voyage to Tibet after the crucifixion of Our Lord.  

According to Vatican archives, Thomas declared them saints after they appeared to befriend him and demonstrate good works. 

After gaining his trust, however, according to local lore, the two dahkini promptly murdered Saint Thomas and fed his corpse to vultures.

When wandering through the peasant fields I heard an enchanting song and asked my guide, Abu, what it was. He told me it is a nursery rhyme unique to the village where Saint Thomas met two of the dhakini, and is sung to warn children to beware proselytizers of foreign faiths. The song, sung in a soft lilting hum, goes: 

'Ha ha! ha ha! Thomas is dead, Thomas is dead, we chopped his head, now Thomas is dead, ha ha! ha ha! He came in peace, he left in pieces, Saint Thomas is dead, the vultures are fed, ha ha! ha ha!'" 

I found myself humming the tune for days afterwards and was bewitched by the beauty of the descendants of the dahkini as they tended to their children during the harvest, although I was likewise glad to have not been butchered by them, as myth has it the dahkini still roam the northern district mountain range in search of food and friends.  They are known as The Pink Lamas."

Jodorowsky had written all of this in his thesis which he pushed on to me.

According to Jodorowsky, this Gospel of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes was to be the basis of Halliburton's next adventure, tentatively titled, “Magical Saints, Magical Tibet.”  Hallibuton planned to voyage by yak Tibet to track down the so-called Pink Lamas sect.  However that was prior to Halliburton's untimely death.

When Jodorowsky was assigned by the Company to Tibet to train the resistance he took the opportunity to further his undergraduate research into Halliburton's found gospel and the Pink Lamas.  It was in the Mustang valley of the Himalayas that he told me he found a guru from the Pink Lama sect.

Through many tantras Halliburton learned from his guru that the universe exists as single cycle through 1001 reincarnations of Lama Les-Lie of Geddes in all her permutations (Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes, Lady Geddes etc.) at the end of which will be both destruction and the total enlightenment of humankind.  

Somehow along the way Jodorowsky included the thesis that the Vatican has twelve shadow saints, of who one is Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes, who reincarnates as the chief Lama of the Pink Lama Sect.

Her Gospel completes and interprets The Book of Revelation. 

Jodorowsky's obsession was to find this lost gospel of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes.

According to Jodorowsky's research at the Vatican archives, (when he was assigned to the Vatican by the Company) each shadow saint held a key, which opens the door to prophecy. 

Whoever holds all the keys will rule the world. 

And then, the prophecies of the Book of Revelation will come to pass.

Or, so said Jodorowsky.

But, now my own story comes to an end.

So, to whomever finds this note, I ask, where is hope?

What is the best thing you ever did for anyone?

Where is truth?

What is your truth?

Political activism and religion do not translate into emotional empathy.

Alienation didn't die with Camus.

It is in every neighbor, friend, lover.

I am excluded, a bother, an imposition of boundaries.

And, so are you.

Trust me, at your lowest moment in life, you too will be alone.

Through me, and though you, they would see the horror of themselves."


Faust hit 'send' and left his apartment to the tune of the Duke Ellington Bridge Blues.
He thought back that a year ago he had been headed in the same direction, until fate intervened.
He recited in his head:

"The woods.  A man took interest in youth, killed my soul, killed the truth.  I reached out to the Master who conspired a pawnbroker's fate to me.  Deliverance seemed foregone, silence the order of the day, the secret of how evil has its way;  I was crushed by the pain I felt of why, the pain of not knowing, the pain of being made to die.  Evil people who kill happiness, joy, innocence, trust, hope, love; I read searching for why.  Thinkers of art and beauty returned empty looks, advocates for social justice were nothing but theory and book, those in the classics had their heads in the sky and all the others just didn't answer, simply not caring to surmise.  In desperation and despair there seemed to be no hope to go on living, knowing I was shunned by people I thought cared yet finding their world unforgiving.  So, I gave into silence, its triumph over violence.  But then, as I made my way over the Duke Ellington Bridge, she told me.  For some reason, just then, she thought twice to give me some unsolicited advice.  'You don't know people,' she said, 'people are mean.'  Then I knew, and allowed myself, finally, to cry."

___________________________________________________________________

CHAPTER 2


CHAPTER 2

THE CONFESSIONS OF KIRSTEN FEYLING, THE NORWEGIAN PORN STAR

Boston, 1956.


Kirsten looked.
She covered one eye, and looked.
She covered the other eye, and looked.
How thankful I am to have the gift of perfect sight, Lord, she thought as she looked over the Boston Commons.
She thought about how far she had come and her limitless future.
Graduating from Boston University, the first person in her family.
And, come September, ophthalmology school.
Everyone had said she should find a husband and start a family.
Of course, that is what she wanted but she knew from a child she had a path to follow.
Other girls went to college for an MRS degree but she wanted to see the world.
Her Norwegian forbearers would be amazed, she thought, her carrying the gospel to China for SOS Villages.
What better way to spread the word of Christ than by acting like him as a healer?
Well, let's not get carried away by pride, she thought.
"I'll do my best to work with the blind and to teach them brail and to help those with poor sight see.  My actions will be my testimony."
She pulled her sweater closer against the April chill.
Spring weather hadn't come to Boston yet, but she also reacted to the stares of the men passing by.
She knew she was pretty, "well, there's that pride again," she admonished herself.  
But she was, she knew.
Even the girls commented on her figure in the showers.
But, maybe that could be used for Christ as well, she just didn't like the lurid gawking.
Twenty-one years old and she hadn't even kissed a boy since 8th grade at St. Ignatius.  
Well, she believed God had a special plan for her.
She would meet a doctor or missionary and they could travel the world in a life of pure love.

"Excuse me?" a man said.
Kirsten jumped at the intrusion and looked up.
"Excuse me," he said again.  "Don't you go to Boston University?"
Kirsten relaxed a bit, how silly she thought, that her pride made her think that yet another man was simply hitting on her.
"Yes?" she asked.
"My name's David.  David Esquith," he said.  "I graduated last year but thought I saw you on campus?"

"Oh," Kirsten wasn't sure where to take the conversation but was flattered he would remember her.  Well, there weren't that many co-eds, but still...
"So, I'm working now on the Boston Stock Exchange, since graduation last year," he said as he subtly sat down next to her on the bench, "over there on Lexington Avenue."  He pointed over the Commons.
"Oh, I think I remember you, were we in  class together?"
"Actually, I'm in a fraternity and I saw you at a mixer.  You and some of your sisters were singing some do-wop.  It was tooty fruity!"

Kirsten looked at him more closely.  Cardigan sweater, pressed trousers, loafers, but his hair was slicked back.  Maybe he thought he was one of those hip types pretending to be cool and knowing nothing about it.

And Kirsten knew about cool, not from experience but from her roots.  She remembered her parents in San Francisco bringing her out on stage when she was three years old for the first time as part of their burlesque routine.  

She learned all the routines earlier than nursery rhythms, the dance, the pantomime, the exaggerated skits, the jokes.  But her parents never let her watch the blackface performers.  

She remembered when one skit at a Washington DC charter school set up as a theater had a performance where one actor called out "Manny where's the liqueur?" and Joe Riener, a regionally known actor for his blackface and characatures responded, "oh....Lord!" and then said the punch line that brought the house down "Uh oh, there's a nigxxxr in the woodpile!"  

Kirsten's parents were so furious at the performance that they said they would quit, but of course they needed the money so they didn't.  But that evening they told Kirsten, to "never pretend to be what you aren't and never pretend to be black.  It's a sign of disrespect."  

After the show when they got home was the first time she heard Billie Holliday.  Her mother put on the scratchy phonograph and told her she was hearing the greatest voice ever.  "And remember," her mother told her, "if you ever use that terrible "n" word and ever abide racist talk or blackface this is what you are disrespecting: the truth of Billie Holliday."

Kirsten looked at David Esquith, and thought "What would he know, this hipster, of Billie Holiday?"  Then she caught herself, "Lord forgive my pride and judgment."

"Where did you say you're from?" she asked to be polite.

"Bethesda, Maryland," he said "We moved out of the city once it started becoming dirty."

"What did he mean by that?" Kirsten wondered, but then caught herself.  Why not see God in everyone?  But she had leave an it wouldn't be proper to be seen with this boy she wasn't dating, not that she did date.  She began to get up and excused herself.

"Wait," David said.  "Actually, this is quite a coincidence.  I remember when you did the do-wop piece with your sisters and my fraternity brothers and I are having a stag at the old house.  We're looking for some entertainment, and I thought..."

"Well, of all the insults!" Kirsten fumed.  A stag and he thought her, a virtual stranger, could be approached and propositioned?  Kirsten's eyes shot daggers, "Be seeing you," she said and huffed off, although she had no intention of ever seeing that boy again.

David jumped up and ran after her, "Wait, wait, jeepers I meant to sing for the boys, I'm sorry if I offended you.  I just really thought you were the tops before and we would pay you what the boys chip in.  And we're doing it before me and my buddies have to sign up.  You know, a last taste of civilian life."

Kirsten paused in her tracks.  What was the right etiquette here?  After all, it was flattering he remembered her singing, they had been classmates and he simply put forward an innocent offer.  And she could use the money.  Then her mind shifted.  This isn't about etiquette its about being Christ like.  Okay so he was rather loutish and flatfooted but he came to her in all innocence and who knows, maybe she could move them to Christ by showing compassion.  How selfish it was of her, she thought, to think the worst.  She would repent by showing she didn't want the money, that her motivations were God like.

"Okay," she said "I'll be happy to sing at your stag but I want you to send my portion of the take to charity, to one that helps the blind.  There's one here in Boston, even I can get you the name."  Kirsten felt a warmth come over her, Christ within her.

"Swell!" David said.  "It's this Saturday at the Omega house on Adams.  You remember, where you were before."

"Okay, two hours of bebop this Saturday, sailor!"

"Great, and I'm joining the department of education with the airforce, assigned to Morocco!"

"See you then!"  Kirsten gave a mock salute and turned to walk home, thanking Christ for providing this gateway to the lives of others.

When she got to the bottom of The Commons it occurred to her that she hadn't asked what time she should show up.  For that matter, would there be someone who was to play the piano?  A guitar even?  How long was she expected to perform and what music did they want?

"Silly!" she said to herself and spun around to look for David.  But he was gone.

"Oh no," she thought.  "Such a fool.  I don't even know who to call and ask?  Should I call him on the Exchange?  But what if a secretary answers how can I explain I'm calling to ask about a stag party?"  The thought of that made her laugh.

"Arrgh!" she moaned.  Well I'll figure it out, I'll prepare for any eventuality.  "As Mother always said, 'the show must go on!'"

"Okay let's see..." and Kirsten walked home by the Charles River figuring out her set.  She would start with a Billie Holliday, and then rev it up with some dowop.  Who is that new boy everyone is talking about, Elvis?  She thought she could do Blue Suede Shoes, the boys would get a kick out of that.  Maybe a couple of burlesque routines, well she'd have to judge the crowd.  Throw in another Billie tune because she's the tops and then end it with something patriotic to send the boys off.  And for the encore..."Well, silly girl." Kirsten thought, you're getting ahead of yourself.

She went home lost in a dream.  It was to be the time of her life.

==
Kirsten looked at herself in her mirror as she straightened her hair.  She wished that some of her sorority sisters were around to come with her but they were either studying for finals or on dates.  Except for Stacey Cohen who was having an affair with her married professor.  "Homewrecker!" Kirsten fumed, she really should report her.

Kirsten examined her breasts.  Ever since the panty raid by the Alpha frat boys she had been self-conscious.  The frat had stolen her bras and hung them out their windows with a sign "Kirsten's Ripe Mellons".  Still, the panty raids were a time-honored tradition.  When she went to complain to the Dean he explained, quite rationally, that having ordered and socially condoned fun was the best antidote to deviant behavior.  

The bras and sign came down at the end of rush week and her class on social psychology and Wertheim confirmed that lack of structured fun leads to deviance so she came to feel that in some way her humiliation may have served a higher good in the end.

Still, she now wore suit jackets.  And proper undergarments, not lace.  Her roommate Janae Bunker had tried to convert her to Mormonism and Kirsten had to admit that the underwear was a selling point.  In fact, maybe she would place an order even if she didn't convert.  Come to think of it, was the underwear ordered or bought at a specialty store?

"Silly!" Kirsten chastised herself.  "Focus!"





________________________________________________________________________

CHAPTER 10

THE NOTEBOOKS OF ALEX JODOROWSKY
including
A TREATISE ON SPYCRAFT

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 1956

"I wish you were here instead of me."
From the moment I read that I knew my path.  Destiny is only mysterious if one is closed to the signals in front of us.

And that day in the stacks of the the rare documents in Princeton's Art and Archaeology stacks I found my signal, waiting for me.

What is all the more remarkable is that it appeared to have been misfiled.  But only by being misfiled would I have ever found it.  The signals will find us, if only we look for them.

My father, where was he?  Probably in some alcoholic or drug induced stupor.  It is hard to believe that about twenty years ago he was the youngest tenured professor in Princeton's history.  His theory of signs in art, arguing that great art was a map to a universal aesthetic truth, even landed him on the cover of Life Magazine.
He had a novel approach of connecting an eastern philosophy of aesthetics with the western philosophy of rationalism.  My father was only twenty years old when he received his doctorate in Art history from Columbia University and got tenure at Princeton University a mere two years later.  Even Carl Jung noted his thesis in a footnote.

The Life Magazine article had a photograph of my father in India meditating surrounded by devotees.  Just like him, he went to India to find a guru, before most in the West had even heard of the term, and within a year became a guru himself.  He spoke fluent Hindi and Tibetan.  No one knows how he learned them.  He just seemed to absorb the languages almost as soon as he arrived in India.

My father said that yogic experience and aesthetic experience were one and the same.  To the people from the east he explained his theory of aesthetics and to the people from the west he explained his theory of yogic ecstasy.  

Worldly actions, he said, are insubstantial.  There is a higher reality which is the highest self.  The irony is that the method he to achieve that ecstasy is through the material form of aesthetic experience.  Leonardo Da Vinci, he explained, was the yogic master who achieved this highest realization.  And this is the definition of great art.