pls read this as slowly as you can read
It was this fable that made me a militant pacifist. When I started to write it, I was actively 'against war.' When I finished it, I was consciously and intently a militant pacisfist — “. . . once I truly saw the exquisite radiance of even the most benighted life.”
Hector, psychic assassin
“It had been startling to discover that Hector had been a psychic assassin many hundreds of years ago when sorcery was in its vigorous prime. The vassal of a great king, Hector had been young, brilliant, sly as a snake, and beloved of the volcano goddess, Erif. The lava blood of the planet’s heart was imprinted in his psychic body like the vermilion signature of the volcano goddess’ favor. Thus, in the etheric realm, Hector’s psychic black-body was slashed with veins of the violent exuberant vermilion of the incandescent lava pumped, new and shocking, from the planet’s living heart. The etheric black-body was like looking at an x-ray of someone’s soul.
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“He had powerful benefactors, did Hector FerdeLance whose knowledge of subtle neurotoxins became legendary in rumor. He played the stringed zambal, attended the king, was a pretty, winning youth. Who was to know for sure that he wielded death so deftly? He was not employed to snuff the sparks of little lights, there were crude minions enough for that. His use was to outwit the shielding wards, those protecting woven words, that rhapsody of other kings.
“I told FerdeLance things about myself,” Gamma Ray wrote on. “If we were to play together at this Healing Game, he needed to know some things about me. Art, I told him, is perhaps to some healers an obscene intermingling of psychic bodily fluids. The acceptance of, the discovery of a different point of view than one’s own, a taking on of soul matter, the quivering naked stuff that the artist rips, aztec, from his or her own beating heart.
“Hector FerdeLance, the assassin, was interested in art and in the panvoyant, the what to do with yourself when assassinating vexing kings and fighting wars were no longer the way to ignite the impatient blood.
“In a few days more Hector spoke a truer name and his eyes turned as dark as and gleamed like obsidian when he spoke this name. ‘Vio Lence, my familiars called me, because I studied destruction,’ FerdeLance said blandly. ‘Along the way of learning what kills, I learned much of how we are alive. I have waited long to do penance, and you were the first one who might recognize that embrace of life with death, the breathless intimacy. Of course I lied to your class teachers or they would not have introduced me. It is true that I rejoiced in others’ pain. After I became vassal to the snake god king, Bothrops, and beloved of the lava goddess, Erif, I no longer lusted for the big and brutal pain my fellow warriors inflicted and endured.
“‘Bothrops, my king,’ he continued, ‘was so well warded by charms, by cunning, and by tall zealous guards that I was to learn more subtle arts than bursting joints and rending limbs and skinning men alive. I became the worm in the apple, the canker in the gift of sacred corn, the assassin in the summer wind. Until kings looked wide-eyed through me to see the face of Death, they never knew how I had come into their sanctuary. All their guard was girded against the marauders, the pillagers. I came to know that there is no reason enough to kill, but I was deep in blood debt by then.’
“Vio Lence gazed into the distant past and mused, ‘I remember the first person I ever killed mind to mind.’ He looked in the present at me and shrugged, ‘It was not casual or frequent, this phantom killing. And it was a work of art. Was it wrong? Who is to say. That is difficult to unweave. Was it evil? Yes.
“‘Because it is evil,’ Vio continued smiling, ‘you are reluctant to ask. Yet you want to know. What was it like killing a great king, from afar? With mountains and mists, rivers and corn fields between you? Well, it was a great undertaking. It was a dreadful and wonderful intimacy, all their life's lights gutter, their pictures go out like stars. That evanescent final moment when all that is alert quits.
“‘It is the finality, the irreversibility that daunts, haunts you. By the fifth and last king I slew, at least I knew some portion of what was lost. When I had killed by physical hacking and slashing, there was a certain bloodthirsty slaked satisfaction in surviving while they did not. In the chaos and risk, the adrenal fury singing through your veins. It was like gorging, like rape, it was a tornado screaming through the brain and blood. I howled raw like the jaguar at the moon. The amla, the spirit, the coherence, of the slaughtered would flee the butchered body in terror, cringing horror. Prince or peasant, all men die the same when they are butchered.
“‘It was not lovely or interesting. To kill as I did later, by stealth, by seduction, when I saw the breadth of a life, then I knew what I did. It was like walking through a pyramid-shaped tunnel, a pyramid on its side. Starting at the wide end, you saw the vast spiraling mosaic of their complex life, until you came to the narrow end where face to face at the top of the spine, you looked into the unblinking eyes of the life Snake. In the reptilian brain, their first and last light lay. It’s the place where consciousness is ignited. And quenched. The sixth king, Orez, I did not kill. I saved him instead. He knew I could have killed him, and when I did not, each picture, poem, song, from the least crumb of his all but lost life became precious, delirious to him. The great cruel king wept. I became a healer in that hour. Orez became a kind ruler, seeking to treasure his subjects’ days as his own.
“‘His rapture at being spared was so abundant, the great wave of it washed my soul clean of the greed for power. I was made humble by my knowledge of all the little sacred secrets, the precious and putrid moments of his intricate life. I could not but be guardian of his breath once I truly saw the exquisite radiance of even the most benighted life.’”
Hector, Psychic Assassin, my friend. For those who grok it, this is my octessential statement for why I have resolved to devote my life to the Abolition of War, to the pro-peace world — because the psychic assassin become Healer, Hector, taught me why militant pacifism is the only choice . .. . . .. If you read this as slowly as you can read, you will funes¹ what a life is worth that you can not take it. . .. .
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1 Vulture . Cib . Owl . South . tzolkin 196 12.14.05 wed
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