Medusa, Cupid & Snow White

Medusa. Everybody's nightmare.

Medusa. Everybody’s nightmare. If you need to catch up on concepts like the Insect Brain, go here and here On all the pics on this post, click for bigger.

NOTE: The portions of this manuscript which relate to science have been seized by the Amerian Committee for Responsible Social Science to be used as evidence in a hearing to determine whether disciplinary action should be taken against the participating scientists. The only portion of the manuscript which remains available is the final appendix, which concerns art and literature and therefore means nothing.

APPENDIX IX

MEDUSA, CUPID, AND SNOW WHITE

Dr. Cyril McFlax regards the Dog Pound as a bunch of Johnny-come-lately’s whose work has merely confirmed his own 30 years of research. McFlax’s book, The Eleusinian Mysteries and Other Secrets of the Medusa (Kelsey press, 1994), claims that knowledge of what he calls the ‘Great Female Metamorphosis’ has been a major subtext of art and literature since the days of the ancient Greeks. Although Mysteries sold only 112 copies, its content suggests that McFlax, an associate professor of humanities at the Kelsey Technical Institute, may have arrived at the Insect Brain Hypothesis quite independently, using nonscientific data. While the sex difference researchers give him credit for discovering the importance of the Cupid motif in art, they dispute the contention that McFlax is not indebted to their work. In rebuttal, McFlax points out that the scientists have failed to synthesize key elements of his own thesis, including the existence of ‘hive consciousness’ and the true meaning of the feminist movement. These latter two concepts have led him to make some fairly specific and dire predictions which have further alienated him from the scientific community. I spoke with him at his office during the final days of research for this book.

McFlax looks like everyone’s idea of a college professor. His eyebrows resemble hedges of dead boxwood, and his long white hair shoots straight from the scalp in all directions, as if trying to escape the heat of so much cerebration. Hawklike eyes hunt yours down, predators seeking a between-meals snack. He can be friendly but he doesn’t like to waste time on small talk. My tape of the interview indicates that he didn’t even wait to be asked a question before he posed one of his own.

McFlax: Are you going to put me in your book?

RL: I guess that depends on our conversation. I understand you believe that the Insect Brain Hypothesis is supported by sources as old as the Greek myths.

McFlax: Laying aside the question of whose theory supports whose, yes. The hardest thing to explain about Greek myth is the ubiquity of the transformation stories. They’re so pervasive that Ovid, the Roman poet, chose Metamorphoses as the title for his own distillation of the body of mythology. Robert Graves has done an excellent job of explaining the heroic plots as a memory of the conquest of Earth-Mother cults by the pre-Greek patriarchy: Hercules raping all those island priestesses. Graves is right that the myths memorialize the cultural war that had to be won before civilization could be built. But that’s no more than half the deep content of the literature. The other half has to do with all the changing of one form into another that’s going on in the stories. Scholars have a tendency to treat transformations as little more than plot devices, the ancient equivalent of ‘suddenly they were all hit by a truck.’ (Pretending to read from the classical text in his hand, he adopts a loud sing-song voice) ‘So the goddess turned Philminite (fil’-mee-nī-tee) into a crocheted throw pillow, and that’s why women still insist on keeping the damn things around today.’

RL: I’d always understood that the transformations were explanations of natural phenomena. A scared virgin got turned into an aspen tree; that explains why aspen trees quiver.

McFlax: I’m aware of that. Don’t be impertinent. The question is, why the sex difference? Generally speaking, the only males who undergo transformation are rutting gods, who go back to their original form after they’ve had their roll in the hay, and young men who have died, so that their transformation represents a kind of memorial. The human females who are transformed are generally alive at the time and they stay transformed. With one notable exception, it’s generally a goddess who does it to them. You can’t turn around in ancient Greece without seeing some woman turn into a cow, a tree, or some other passive prisoner of nature. That’s not an accident.

RL: You contend in your book that this is evidence of a subconscious memory that human females did at one point undergo a real metamorphosis. Are there myths which recall this event?

McFlax: A myth preserves important memories that are sometimes too painful to remain in the conscious mind. For this reason, every myth contains hidden elements. The hidden part is the content we don’t want to remember consciously. The most important myths are therefore the ones that don’t quite make sense the way they’ve come down to us. The discontinuities are the footprints of the subconscious. We can follow them to the concealed truth. One of the better examples of this is the Echo-Narcissus myth. Are you familiar with it?

RL: A girl named Echo falls in love with a young man who is obsessed with his own appearance. Narcissus drowns trying to kiss his own reflection in the water. And so Echo pines away to nothing, leaving only her voice behind to repeat what we say, like some mindless tape recorder.

McFlax: Anything strike you as odd about that?

RL: I don’t know. Why was Echo attracted to a goof who couldn’t take his eyes off himself?

McFlax: (explosively, using a term I’ve never heard uttered but only seen written) Pshaw! The know-it-alls claim that the story is a nature myth, don’t they? That in addition to being an explanation of the existence of the narcissus flower, it’s the Greek explanation for the echo phenomenon?

RL: I suppose so.

McFlax: Damn right they do. But now tell me what’s so inherently female about the sound of a voice bouncing back? When you yell into a canyon, do you hear a female voice come back? Don’t forget, this myth was written down by a male. Like all myths.

RL: The point being that if it’s not a good explanation of how echoes work, then it’s not really about echoes?

McFlax: That’s one point. It wouldn’t survive in this form if it’s a bungled explanation of nature. The other point is that we’ve lost the element or meaning of the story that would make the echo metaphor correct. Can we think of a way to tell the story that doesn’t make a mish-mash of the echo phenomenon? I’ll give you one. Echo falls in love with Narcissus. Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection. So far, it doesn’t sound like a love story. But it is. The reflection of himself Narcissus loves is Echo. The woman he loves is only an illusion, an image of himself he has projected onto her, the way his own face is projected onto the surface of the water. When he discovers the illusion, he and his love are doomed. In sorrow, Echo transforms herself into his reflection and disappears.

RL: And the meaning?

McFlax: Narcissus is all men. Echo is all women. The echo we hear is our own voice, which is the voice of Narcissus. The woman we love is only our own reflection. She is not there as we imagine her to be. The real woman we might have loved is gone forever. I believe this myth is a slightly garbled encoding of a real subconscious memory. That there was a time when women were as aware and as fully endowed with identity as men. Then they changed. In this myth, the responsibility for Echo’s repeating voice belongs—as it usually does—to a mother-goddess who transforms her so that Zeus will not be attracted to her. This is also presented as the reason Narcissus cannot love her; he is repelled when she repeats his command to ‘Come here,’ and he tells her, ‘I will never give you power over me.’ Yet another goddess then punishes him for his indifference to women by causing him to fall in love with his own reflection. You see, all the elements are here. Woman is changed, lessened to a reflection of men. Then man is condemned not to see that this is so. Both are cruelly injured by the same transformation. It may be that this particular myth is the last true love story—or its echo.

The Death of Narcissus

I love me, I mean you.

I love me, I mean you.

Echoes of Metamorphosis: Cyril McFlax believes Greek myths like the story of Echo and Narcissus record the subconscious memory of the change to the insect brain. Note the presence of Cupid in this rendering. McFlax’s theory holds that Cupid is a ‘bee symbol’ which has subconscious allegorical meaning to men.

The Cupid of legend. A boy or a bee?

The Cupid of legend. A boy or a bee?

RL: One myth doesn’t constitute a theory, though. Is there a pattern we can discern? For example, are there myths which give us an account of what really happened?

McFlax: Yes. Indeed. Quite a few. One of the best ones is the Rape of Persephone. Every course in mythology teaches that it’s the Greek explanation of the seasons. Hades, the god of the Underworld, steals Persephone from the world of the living and intends to keep her with him, as his wife, in the kingdom of the dead. But Zeus intervenes because in her grief, Persephone’s mother Demeter has plunged the earth into winter—or so the popular version goes. Hades agrees to surrender Persephone but secretly has her eat of the pomegranate, ensuring that she will return to him. Thus, the daughter of the mother goddess resides in the world of the living for half of each year, during which we have spring and summer. But after the harvest, she goes down to join Hades in the Underworld, and we have fall and winter.

Persephone in the Underworld. Hijacked and, well, dead.

Persephone in the Underworld. Hijacked and, well, dead.

RL: And you’re saying that it really happened? Women’s consciousness got kidnapped by the King of the Dead?

McFlax: Do you give the scientists this hard a time? Forget what you think you know about this myth, which can’t be much. Consider it anew and see if you can’t hear in this story the ‘echo’ of another extremely famous myth from a completely different culture.

RL: Sorry. I’m drawing a blank.

McFlax: (Grinning triumphantly) I’ll tell it in a slightly different way then. Earth is a paradise of eternal fertility. A villain from the realm of darkness gulls a beautiful young woman into eating a piece of fruit. Thereafter, earth is changed. Life becomes a fight for survival against the cycle of the seasons and the cycle of female fertility. Suggest anything?

RL: Eve. Persephone eats the pomegranate, and Eve eats the apple. But where is Adam? It’s a different story without him.

McFlax: Ah. An interesting point. But first, take note of the fact that the similarities are striking, given that the Hebrews and Greeks have such different origins. It’s like finding accounts of the Flood in both cultures, which is one of the reasons we now believe the Flood occurred.

Still, you’d rather nitpick about Adam. I’m happy to oblige you. If you consult the original Greek text of the Persephone myth, in the Homeric Hymns, you will find elements that don’t add up, as if the gods of Mount Olympus had to be written into a much older myth of the Demeter-mother-goddess cult. What comes through clearly is that the central figure is not Hades or Zeus, but Demeter. And her behavior after the kidnapping of her daughter is very peculiar. She plunges the earth into a state of famine—not winter, incidentally—and then she disguises herself and starts wandering about. She makes no attempt to rescue Persephone or to take any action that would prevent her daughter from eating the fatal pomegranate. Instead, she moves in with a mortal family and takes a shine to their son, Demophoön, whom she subjects to secret rituals for the purpose of granting him immortality. When Zeus arranges Persephone’s return, Demeter’s first question is: did you eat anything in the Underworld? She takes the ‘bad news’ well.

Demeter. Loving mom.

Demeter. Loving mom.

RL: You’re suggesting that Demophoön is somehow related to Adam, and that Demeter is working some plan of her own that’s concealed under the Olympian changes in the myth? That Zeus and Hades are merely her foils?

McFlax: Yes. More than that, I’m convinced that this form of the myth represents a best guess by the Greeks about a story they know to be important but can’t quite understand or remember. It was Demeter who was the center of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were female-only rites practiced in secret for centuries. The rituals were rumored to involve orgiastic dancing, human sacrifice, and a degree of savagery that shocked even the pagan Greeks. I believe that the victory of Greek patriarchy in the cultural collision Graves describes was only partial, and that the Greeks knew it. In this myth, we can see them trying to hide the impenetrable mystery of Demeter’s power and purpose under a display of male authority, in the form of Zeus. But they can’t quite pull it off. The subconscious, which drives myth-making, won’t let them.

RL: Then what’s the real story?

McFlax: You’re not going to like it. Your beekeepers aren’t going to like it either.

RL: Shoot.

McFlax: To put it in terms your scientists would recognize, Demeter is the Darwinian survival instinct that drives natural selection. She is also, in figurative terms, the queen of the hive. Don’t forget that there’s always been a latent bee content in Olympian mythology. The gods like nectar with their ambrosia. Always in search of new sources of nectar, Demeter the earth-goddess raises up the species of homo sapiens; that is, she blesses Demophoön with her special attentions. But she soon perceives that this will cause problems. In the myth it is Demophoön’s mother who voices her fear that the attentions of the goddess will kill her son. In other words, the maternal aspect of Demeter foresees with concern the danger of giving mankind such divine attributes. But she cannot abandon the prospect of the nectar such a creation could provide. So she merely reduces the danger, removing or withholding a portion of these same divine attributes from her daughter, who is condemned to a life of half-death.

Indeed, Persephone becomes the wife of death—permanently denied real union with man—but lives on the earth in a non-individuated incarnation as the cycle of the seasons. This is the symbolic meaning of the eating of the pomegranate—transformation from the mind and body of human woman to the mind and body of nature. The eating of the fruit binds woman to the unconscious cooperation of the hive.

RL: That’s not inconsistent with the Dog Pound theories. It’s a more poetic version, but it’s not different in any material way.

McFlax: (Wagging a finger at me) But it is. Your scientists can’t help putting things under a microscope, examining parts instead of the whole. Demeter was not abandoning her daughters. She was changing them, yes, but in a way that ensured their eventual control over man. The bee is not conscious. The hive is. The hive wants more and better nectar, so it can grow and flourish. We men are not creatures of the hive per se. We are the flowers, the providers of the nectar. We are the source of the harvest, serving the needs of the queen. Remember that the other ‘nature’ explanation in the Echo myth involves identification of the male in the story with the narcissus flower.

RL: But it’s all a matter of perspective. The flower would see it differently. It would view the bees as vessels of its own procreation, servants of its own posterity.

McFlax: Correct. The flowers can do what the bees cannot. Therefore, the bee seems to serve the flower. But when the flowers have grown enough, have flourished to the point of wasteful overabundance, the bees of the hive begin allowing them to die, demonstrating their control. Man is on the verge of making himself superfluous. The nectar of his technology will soon allow the hive to survive without him, to thrive in abundant comfort without his rampant, dangerous creative imagination. This is the signal for the bees of the hive to begin exercising their eternal control over the life and death of the flowers.

RL: I suppose that’s where the feminists come into your theory. The hive swarming for the kill?

McFlax: Yes. But it’s premature to talk about that at the moment.

RL: Okay. But you are saying this has always been known and remembered by the Mother-Goddess cults. That the feminists know this and are acting on it now?

McFlax: Yes. They know it in a manner of speaking. The women of the ancients did too. Their enactments of the Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrations of the seeming surrender of the matriarchies to the Greek patriarchy. The priestesses are laughing at the presumed authority of Olympus, the temerity of the flower which believes itself lord of the bees.

RL: Then the Dog Pounders are wrong about the reduced consciousness of women?

McFlax: No. Individual female consciousness is much as they describe it. What they don’t see because they can’t put it under their microscope is the consciousness of the hive. All women are part of the same highly conscious organism, which uses men to achieve its own ends. In this respect, each woman is a tiny part of a huge and superior intelligence, an intelligence which is certain to conquer ours in the end.

RL: Beyond your ‘predictions,’ is there any way to confirm this part of your theory?

McFlax: Absolutely. Hive consciousness accounts for the one thing your scientists can’t explain. If women are solitary units of drastically reduced consciousness, then what is it that’s so incredibly intriguing about them? It’s not all sex.
It’s their hidden union with one another and with nature that’s the source of our continuing fascination with women, despite what we know of their impairments. We feel that they are connected to a greater power, to a secret knowledge of which they are half aware, just as they are half aware of us. That’s the meaning of the half-life of Persephone, that she has a foot in both worlds, a personal identity in neither. But she is owned by the darker world of hidden nature. And we men keep trying to read through her empty eyes to the truth of it. It is this occult, half remembered knowledge we see in the smile of Mona Lisa as she peers past us from the murky realm of her queen. We can’t figure it out, but we keep trying in our blind, relentless way.

This is also the explanation for the long history of the nude in art, which continually places before us this inactive, passive power which we cannot understand. We look and look, but we can’t ever get her naked enough to see who she really is.

RL: But if what you’ve said about myths is true, then this knowledge is contained even in the myths that have been written by men.

McFlax: And in art, too. The precious bees of your scientists are represented in tremendous numbers throughout art in the form of all those ‘harmless’ little Cupids. Like the husband who keeps peering around the shoulder of his wife’s lover to look for the scoundrel who has cuckolded him, we obsessively paint and then ignore the same round-bodied little drone whose wings and stinger should tell us where woman’s allegiance lies. Every Cupid is a flag of the hive. It isn’t us she loves and obeys. But we’re so besotted with ourselves we send her valentines adorned with pictures of our victorious rival. If you won’t see the truth, it doesn’t matter how obvious and numerous the clues are. No wonder she smiles so slyly.

The myths do tell at least part of the story—half-concealed by ineffectual male attempts to cast ourselves in a more heroic light, to write a happier ending. In male myths, of course, the dominant element is not the purpose of Demeter’s plan, but the fact of transformation. They tell us again and again that man’s mate has been stolen, turned into something less, something somehow absent or asleep. It’s a transformation we invariably depict as evil, an act of the devil.

RL: Back to Adam and Eve?

McFlax: Of course. (Laughing) I’ve always been amazed at the dimness of the Judeo-Christian assumption that the apple represented knowledge. As if the god of the Old Testament had gone to all the trouble of creating human beings with no intention of having them learn anything. What other value could they have? Would it please you to have children who remained as ignorant as they were at birth? But I can forgive the error. It’s the indicator of the hidden part of the myth, the part we don’t want to remember.

RL: Which is…?

McFlax: That the apple is not from the Tree of Knowledge but the Tree of Forgetfulness. The serpent in the garden is not Lucifer, but the Mother-Goddess, the female principle that opposes and yet completes the male principle of Yahweh, who—like the Adam he created in his own image—believed in the possibility of a creation without pain or cost, a paradise where the flowers rule and do not bow to bees. The mother-goddess reaches out against this dream. Her dominion is death, the dying that proceeds in every second of every organic life. There will be no paradise, she says. You will die. Everything alive will die. But if you wish to have children carry on your legacy—which is one thing Adam and Eve don’t have in the garden of Eden, at least metaphorically—then Eve must eat of this apple.

What, pray tell, is the sex of the serpent?

What, pray tell, is the sex of the serpent?

RL: And so it is Eve who eats. And Adam does not?

McFlax: Yes. Genesis tries to hide this but can’t entirely. Eve eats it first and is cursed. That’s the clue we are given. Notice now the parallel with the Demeter-Persephone story. It is the woman who pays the price for posterity, the survival of the species. We know this part in our bones. Eve eats of the apple and falls into a deep, long sleep, akin to the sleep of winter or… (His voice hangs, waiting for me to finish his sentence)

RL: …Snow White. Or Sleeping Beauty.

Snow White isn't a cartoon. she's a fairy tale and a ballet.

Snow White isn’t a cartoon. she’s a fairy tale and a ballet.

McFlax: That’s right. All these stories are of a piece when you correct the errors of the hidden parts. All those princesses locked up in magic towers are our own mate, whom we long for eternally and whom we are powerless to set free. Echo is Persephone is Eve is Sleeping Beauty is Juliet is your own true love, forever denied you. It is a tragedy that cuts across cultures, a memory too deeply embedded to be cast out of our dreams.

Can a virtuous knight penetrate the Wall of Thorn? No.

Can a virtuous knight penetrate the Wall of Thorn? No.

RL: Juliet?

McFlax: Shakespeare reworks another Greek myth about Pyramus and Thisbe. The male partner discovers his true love dead, or apparently so, and kills himself. She awakens only after his suicide, which spells her own doom. It isn’t Prince Charming’s kiss that will awaken the princess, but his death, which is also the death of her remaining humanity. This is the tragedy of all human love. The lovers cannot be joined together, and if they try to bridge the gulf nature has placed between them, the consequence is death. That’s also the secret of the enduring appeal these stories have. It is the emotional accuracy of the loss that runs through them like an underground spring which moves us. Contrary to outward appearances, our subconscious minds do not perceive them as extreme or remote from our experience. They are a symbolic retelling of the deep reality of each of us.

RL: By ‘us’ you mean men?

McFlax: Of course. Though, as you know, women also respond strongly to these tales, to the extent that they are able to respond to anything. Inside the mind they’re not allowed to use, they also know and remember. (Suddenly emphatic) This is not new information! I have been teaching this to my classes for most of my adult life. And I’m not the first. Other men have figured it out. Study Lewis Carroll—he beat your precious Dog Pounders to the punch by a hundred years. The truth is, we all know there has been some kind of unholy intervention by the mother-goddess. It’s the central fact of human existence. We lost our bride in supposed exchange for the life of the species. We cannot forget the merciless bitch who did it. We keep searching for her secret lair, the hiding place from which she works her woe. Darwin brought science into the search and renamed her Evolution.

But we know better than Darwin did. We vilify her constantly, heap our hatred upon her. She is Medea, Medusa, the wicked witch, the evil stepmother, Morgan La Fay, and most recently, she is also Betty Steinmiller rising from the black heart of earth to reassert her control. Her powers are the powers of an unchanging darkness we can’t defeat. She terrifies us. That’s why we keep reinventing her in our fairy tales, giving her new faces and names and weaknesses. We are trying to transmute her into a form in which we can defeat her. So that we can pretend victory might be as easy as outwitting some nasty, stereotyped witch.

RL: Did the Greeks do that too?

McFlax: Constantly. The myth of Perseus and Medusa is a perfect example. It is almost the exact opposite, a kind of reflection, of the Echo-Narcissus story. Perseus goes out to slay the wicked witch Medusa, whose merest glance could turn him to stone. He is our great wish-fulfillment dream, the hope that we might free our stolen mate from the clutches of nature. But we do not know how to defeat her. So in the dream we use the symbol of our own loss as the weapon of vengeance. It is the power of reflection—

RL: (foolishly interrupting) uh, I don’t remember any love interest in the Perseus story. Is that a possible flaw in your interpretation?

McFlax: (angrily) You impudent pup. You turn your own ignorance into someone else’s weakness. No. It is not a flaw. Perseus seeks the head of Medusa as a wedding gift to his king. And he undertakes the mission out of foolish, boastful pride. How pregnant with symbolism is that? I suggest you research the myth more deeply—you will find that every detail resonates with what we have been discussing. Perseus must find Medusa, but oddly, the Olympian gods do not know where she lives. Her location is known only by a group called the Gray Women, who live in a twilight world of shadow and despair. The gods who render assistance to Perseus are Hermes—god of secret knowledge and hidden truths—and Athena, a goddess, yes, but one born directly from the head of Zeus as the incarnation of wisdom. Such a pair evokes the powers of mind, conscious and otherwise, does it not? So I urge you to read—for the sake of your own enlightenment and my good temper.

RL: Sorry.

McFlax: Where was I?

RL: The power of reflection.

McFlax: Yes. The power of reflection. Reflection is, in its passive sense, a detested barrier in our relations with women, but in its active sense it is the source of all male power and thus our only chance to defeat the queen of darkness. Note that the serpent of the Garden is part of Medusa’s crown, the poisonous powers of nature that slither in the dark where we can’t get at them until they strike from their place of concealment. It is evil itself which Perseus confronts, the evil of nature which has done us this terrible wrong. He prevails with his mirrored shield, and from the blood of the decapitated queen rises a winged symbol of liberation, the great white stallion Pegasus.

RL: The image of Pegasus seems to have an eternal appeal. It’s even a staple of advertising.

Pegasus. You always knew it was about sex.

Pegasus. You always knew it was about sex.

McFlax: Pegasus is civilization itself, an idea we conceived to transcend her power, in hope of surpassing her might. But we can’t. She will always hold the one thing we cherish more than any other, and if she ever releases her hold, we will surely die. It’s a fact we must keep reminding ourselves about, even as we deny that we know the darkest part of the story. The tragedy of our great accomplishments is that they can never achieve the ends we wanted, and they can never please or transform the cipher who’s standing in for our lost partner.

RL: I’m running out of tape. A couple of quick questions about sources. Your book claims you made the bee connection before the Dog Pound. Where did you get it? It can’t all be from the use of the term nectar in Greek mythology.

McFlax: You should read the book. I deduced it from the fact of reduced consciousness in women, which is obvious without resorting to a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo. From what we can discern, group consciousness seems to be a built-in property of prehistoric cultures which worshipped the mother-goddess. The individuals have no sense of ‘long time.’ Every year is the same year repeated. There is no attempt to record great events, no progress, no writing. The culture is, in personal terms, asleep. Yet the culture as a whole has an awareness that directs its activities, its rituals, its purpose in being. When I looked for a metaphor of such group consciousness, I found the beehive to be quite perfect.

We know that honey and mead and other bee products are instrumental in even the oldest cultures. The orgiastic dancing of the mother-goddess ceremonies recalls, rather directly for me, the dancing of honey bees, which is their form of communication about new sources of nectar. The Cupid motif was also strongly suggestive. I therefore chose it as a means of elucidating the phenomena I was talking about. It did not surprise me in the least that scientists discovered organic confirmation of my theory. Bee hormones in the female brain? Wasn’t that their great discovery?

RL: Yes. Micro-hormones. They act like a governor on brain function, collapsing the multi-dimensional constructs of consciousness to a serial stream of data. They also govern female behavior. The clincher was that these micro-hormones are identical with those found in the Brazilian cocoa bee, which feeds exclusively on cocoa pollen. That’s why the scientists think we’re approaching a crisis. Too much refined chocolate causes these particular micro-hormones to run wild. A kind of mass power trip—they all want to be queen.

McFlax: I’ve seen the crisis coming for a long time. I didn’t need to know anything about cocoa bees. The conquest of men by the hive is imminent and inevitable. Already they are resurrecting the mother-goddess, calling her Gaia, and lying about her wicked heart. The feminists could not do what they are doing alone. They are being directed by the hand of the Medusa herself. We have made the human hive big enough and rich enough. They will procreate in test tubes. Men will be put to death by the millions. Writing, art, science—all the male endeavors—will be terminated. The Eleusinian Mysteries will be celebrated with blood sacrifices at Rockefeller Center, the Place de la Concorde, Red Square…

RL: I have to cut you off. I’m definitely out of tape.
McFlax: I see.

RL: Don’t worry, professor. I’ll put you in my book.

McFlax: In a chapter of my own?

RL: In an appendix. In small print. The last thing before the Glossary.

McFlax: Thanks for nothing.

RL: Thank you.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I thought I had switched off the tape recorder at this point, but apparently I didn’t. The transcription I got from the typist contained the following additional exchange between McFlax and me. I include it for the sake of accuracy, but I still can’t make head or tail of it.

McFlax: (faintly, as if from the corridor outside his office) You still here?

RL: I was just leaving. The lock on my briefcase seems to be stuck.

McFlax: That’s not the only thing that’s stuck. (Pause) Have you given any thought to the implications of what I’ve told you? The implications for our interpretation of original sin? The nature of the eternal battle between God and Satan? The reason for the attitude toward women displayed by the Church throughout the middle ages and even into the present era? The meaning, the purpose, the catalyst of the Second Coming? The real disposition of the battle lines at Armageddon? Have you given any thought to these questions?

RL: No.

McFlax: You should read your Bible, young man. Book of Revelation. Chapter 9. Verses 7 through 10. Good day to you.

Cupid. The lesser god who continues to make all men believe in love as more than reflection.

Cupid. Not the boy-bee but the god who continues to make all men believe in love as more than reflection.

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