Chapter 11: Gil’s Tale
Returning to the Fairmount, I find a card on my dresser:
There once was a young god named Loki
Well noted for moving too pokey.
Having fallen in love
Never knowing whereof
He resolved to crawl back to Skokie.
A Message from Mara
This Mara character is beginning to get on my ganglia.
I soon find Gilgamesh in Akron, Ohio where he sells life insurance. (Asira had the perspicacity to do a simple phone book search and discovered one Gilbert Gamesh listed under Immortality Insurance, LLC).
The old hero has changed little in the past five thousand years, except he looks a little odd in suit and tie instead of splendid Sumerian battle dress.
“Oh, Anu, I never thought to see you again,” he mussitates. (I have appeared to him in my original form.) “What name are you going under now?”
“Loki.” Gil raises his nappy eyebrows. “After your time.”
“So whaddya want?”
“For starters, a new Messiah.”
Gil shakes his head vehemently. “Not me, buster. I’m outta that game. For millennia I’ve tried to bring some enlightenment to this sorry stockpile of semi-sentient humanity and all I’ve gotten for my trouble is animadversion mixed with obloquy. Look, I even wrote a book called The God Game demonstrating how man can transform himself into a state of consciousness well beyond his current equivalent of sea sluggishness and exactly seven people read it and they were all members of my current immediate family.”
I promptly summon up the text of Gil’s book and do an instant browse.
“But this is just the kind of stuff I need,” I protest.
“Yeah, whaddya you know from religion. You’re a devil, right?”
“For one thing,” I say with half-assed hauteur, “we invented religion. Aside from that it seems to me that you agree with what Plotinus wrote in his letter to Flaccus.”
“What? That external objects present us only with appearances? That it would be monstrous to believe for a moment that the mind is unable to perceive ideal truth exactly as it is? ‘Consciousness,’ I recall Plotinus saying, is the sole basis of certainty. The mind is its own witness.’”
“Exactly,” I respond. “We have grown accustomed to thinking of reality as an absolute. But reality consists of those perceptions that are universally shared by individuals within a particular culture. At least this is one aspect of reality, the reality of car payments and credit card transactions, of TV, pornography and potato chips.”
“Yes,” Gil says excitedly. “But there are other aspects of reality not so commonly shared, perhaps not shared at all. Although we can imagine a time in the early history of humanity when cooperation and communication were absolutely essential for survival, when the cry of an animal, a flash of lightning, the heavy tread of a mammoth’s feet may have served to warn us of the possibility of imminent danger, the shared reality this implies excludes entire realms of human experience, especially the subtle sensation of the sublime.”
“And doesn’t that lead us to theurgy? Remember Julianus.”
“Of course. Marcus Aurelius never cared for him mainly because he got tired of discussing the gods like Marcus always did and said it was high time to manipulate or even create them. I remember when Julianus saved the army of Marcus Aurelius from destruction.
“Yeah, and he also wore a garland around his neck and a girdle with images engraved on it which corresponded to the god being invoked. Then he commanded the god to appear. Commanded, mind you, not requested. He actually compelled him to do so.”
“And remember katokhus, when he donned a flowing white robe and purified himself with fire and water?”
“He was also big on telestiki, the ‘understanding warmed by fire,’ mainly because he was crazy about talismans,” I chime in, “so why not try a revival of theurgy based on Julianius’ principles, maybe throwing in a little Iamblichus as well?”
“I can’t become involved in anything so repulsive as starting a new religion or reviving an old one,” says Gilgamesh.
“Let me tell you a little story. You know your devil queen not only gave me immortality, she conferred on me the ability to read some minds. Oh I’m sure I’m not as good at it as you devils are but at times it has served me well. Take the instance of a certain SS colonel named Josef Streicher many years ago.”