No one liked cops at those parties. Anything that restricted the police was good. Why? Well, because police are never intellectual about anything. They're just stooges for the social system. They revere the social system and hate intellectuals. It was a sort of caste thing. The police were low-caste. Intellectuals were above all that crime-and-violence sort of thing that the police were constantly engaged in. Police were usually not very well educated either. The best thing you could do was take away their guns. That way they'd be like the police in England, where things were better. It was the police repression that created the crime.
What passed for morality within this crowd was a kind of vague, amorphous soup of sentiments known as 'human rights.' You were also supposed to be 'reasonable.' What these terms really meant was never spelled out in any way that Phaedrus had ever heard. You were just supposed to cheer for them.
He knew now that the reason nobody ever spelled them out was nobody ever could. In a subject-object understanding of the world these terms have no meaning. There is no such thing as 'human rights.' There is no such thing as moral reasonableness. There are subjects and objects and nothing else.
This soup of sentiments about logically non-existent entities can be straightened out by the Metaphysics of Quality. It says that what is meant by 'human rights' is usually the moral code of intellect vs. society, the moral right of intellect to be free of social control. Freedom of speech; freedom of assembly, of travel; trial by jury; habeas corpus; government by consent - these 'human rights' are all intellect-vs.-society issues. According to the Metaphysics of Quality these 'human rights' have not just a sentimental basis, but a rational, metaphysical basis. They are essential to the evolution of a higher level of life from a lower level of life. They are for real.
But what the Metaphysics of Quality also makes clear is that this intellect-vs.-society code of morals is not at all the same as the society-vs.-biology codes of morals that go back to a prehistoric time. They are completely separate levels of morals. They should never be confused.
The central term of confusion between these two levels of codes is 'society.' Is society good or is society evil? The question is confused because the term 'society' is common to both these levels, but in one level society is the higher evolutionary pattern and in the other it is the lower. Unless you separate these two levels of moral codes you get a paralyzing confusion as to whether society is moral or immoral. That paralyzing confusion is what dominates all thoughts about morality and society today.
The idea that 'man is born free but is everywhere in chains' was never true. There are no chains more vicious than the chains of biological necessity into which every child is born. Society exists primarily to free people from these biological chains. It has done that job so stunningly well intellectuals forget the fact and turn upon society with a shameful ingratitude for what society has done.
Today we are living in an intellectual and technological paradise and a moral and social nightmare because the intellectual level of evolution, in its struggle to become free of the social level, has ignored the social level's role in keeping the biological level under control. Intellectuals have failed to understand the ocean of biological quality that is constantly being suppressed by social order.
Biological quality is necessary to the survival of life. But when it threatens to dominate and destroy society, biological quality becomes evil itself, the 'Great Satan' of twentieth-century Western culture. One reason why fundamentalist Moslem cultures have become so fanatic in their hatred of the West is that it has released the biological forces of evil that Islam has fought for centuries to control.
What the Metaphysics of Quality indicates is that the twentieth-century intellectual faith in man's basic goodness as spontaneous and natural is disastrously naive. The ideal of a harmonious society in which everyone without coercion cooperates happily with everyone else for the mutual good of all is a devastating fiction.
It isn't consistent with scientific fact. Studies of bones left by the cavemen indicate that cannibalism, not cooperation, was a pre-society norm. Primitive tribes such as the American Indians have no record of sweetness and cooperation with other tribes. They ambushed them, tortured them, dashed their children's brains out on rocks. If man is basically good, then maybe it is man's basic goodness which invented social institutions to repress this kind of biological savagery in the first place.
Suddenly we have come full circle at the American culture's founders, the Puritans, and their overwhelming concern with 'original sin' and release from it. The mythology by which they explained this original sin seems no longer useful in a scientific world, but when we look at the things in their contemporary society they identified with this original sin we see something remarkable. Drinking, dancing, sex, playing the fiddle, gambling, idleness: these are biological pleasures. Early Puritan morals were largely a suppression of biological quality. In the Metaphysics of Quality the old Puritan dogma is gone but its practical moral pronouncements are explained in a way that makes sense.
The Victorians didn't really believe in those old Puritan biological restraints the way the Puritans did. They were in the process of breaking away from them. But they paid them lip-service and the old 'spare the rod and spoil the child' school of biological repression was still in fashion. And what one notices, when one reads the works of the children of those traditions, is how much more decent and socially mature they seemed than people do today. The 1920s intellectuals strove to break down the old social codes, but they had these codes built into them from childhood and so were unaffected by the breakdown they produced. But their descendants, raised without the codes, have suffered.
What the Metaphysics of Quality concludes is that the old Puritan and Victorian social codes should not be followed blindly, but should not be attacked blindly either. They should be dusted off and re-examined, fairly and impartially, to see what they were trying to accomplish and what they actually did accomplish toward building a stronger society. We must understand that when a society undermines intellectual freedom for its own purposes it is absolutely morally bad, but when it represses biological freedom for its own purposes it is absolutely morally good. These moral bads and goods are not just 'customs.' They are as real as rocks and trees. The destructive sympathy by intellectuals toward lawlessness in the sixties and since is derived, no doubt, from what is perceived to be a common enemy, the social system. But the Metaphysics of Quality concludes that this sympathy was really stupid. The decades since the sixties have borne this out.
Phaedrus remembered a conversation in the early sixties with a University of Chicago faculty member who was moving out of the Woodlawn neighborhood next to the university. He was moving because criminal blacks had moved in and it had become too dangerous to live there. Phaedrus had said he didn't think moving out was any solution.
The professor had blown up at him. 'What you don't know!' he had said. 'We've tried everything! We've tried workshops, study groups, councils. We've spent years in this. If there's anything we've missed we don't know what it is. Everything has failed.'
The professor added, 'You don't understand what a defeat this has been for us. It's as though we never even tried.'
Phaedrus had had no answer at the time, but he had one now. The idea that biological crimes can be ended by intellect alone, that you can talk crime to death, doesn't work. Intellectual patterns cannot directly control biological patterns. Only social patterns can control biological patterns, and the instrument of conversation between society and biology is not words. The instrument of conversation between society and biology has always been a policeman or a soldier and his gun. All the laws of history, all the arguments, all the Constitutions and the Bills of Rights and Declarations of Independence are nothing more than instructions to the military and police. If the military and police can't or don't follow these instructions properly they might as well have never been written.
Phaedrus now thought that part of the professor's paralysis was a commitment to the twentieth-century intellectual doctrines, in which his university has had a prominent role. A second part of the paralysis probably came from the fact that the criminals were black. If it had been a group of trash whites moving into the neighborhood, robbing and raping and killing, the response would have been much fiercer, but when whites denounced blacks for robbing and raping and killing they left themselves open to the charge of racism. In the atmosphere of public opinion of that time no intellectual dared to open himself to the charge of being a racist. Just the thought of it shut him up tight. Paralysis.
That charge is part of the paralysis of this city here. Right now.
The root of the 'racism' charge goes all the way back to square one, to the subject-object metaphysics wherein man is an object who possesses a set of properties called a culture. A subject-object metaphysics lumps biological man and cultural man together as aspects of a single molecular unit. It goes on to reason that because it is immoral to speak against a people because of their genetic characteristics it is therefore also immoral to speak against a people because of their cultural characteristics. The anthropological doctrine of cultural relativism reinforces this. It says you cannot judge one culture in terms of the values of another. Science says there is no morality outside of cultural morality, therefore any moral censorship of minority patterns of crime in this city is itself immoral. That is the paralysis.
By contrast the Metaphysics of Quality, also going back to square one, says that man is composed of static levels of patterns of evolution with a capability of response to Dynamic Quality. It says that biological patterns and cultural patterns are often grouped together, but to say that a cultural pattern is an integral part of a biological person is like saying the Lotus 1-2-3 program is an integral part of an IBM computer. Not so. Cultures are not the source of all morals, only a limited set of morals. Cultures can be graded and judged morally according to their contribution to the evolution of life.
A culture that supports the dominance of social values over biological values is an absolutely superior culture to one that does not, and a culture that supports the dominance of intellectual values over social values is absolutely superior to one that does not. It is immoral to speak against a people because of the color of their skin, or any other genetic characteristic because these are not changeable and don't matter anyway. But it is not immoral to speak against a person because of his cultural characteristics if those cultural characteristics are immoral. These are changeable and they do matter.
Blacks have no right to violate social codes and call it 'racism' when someone tries to stop them, if those codes are not racist codes. That is slander. The fight to sustain social codes isn't a war of blacks vs. whites or Hispanics vs. blacks, or poor people vs. rich people or even stupid people against intelligent people, or any other of all the other possible cultural confrontations. It's a war of biology vs. society.
It's a war of biological blacks and biological whites against social blacks and social whites. Genetic patterns just confuse the matter. And this is a war in which intellect, to end the paralysis of society, has to know whose side it is on, and support that side, never undercut it. Where biological values are undermining social values, intellectuals must identify social behavior, no matter what its ethnic connection, and support it all the way without restraint. Intellectuals must find biological behavior, no matter what its ethnic connection, and limit or destroy destructive biological patterns with complete moral ruthlessness, the way a doctor destroys germs, before those biological patterns destroy civilization itself.
This city of dreadful night. What a disaster!
Phaedrus wondered what was going to happen to Lila, just shifting around here from one scene to another. She'd been around long enough to know how to take care of herself, he supposed, but it still spooked him. He was sorry to see her go like that.
He got up, went into the bedroom, and looked at the bed wondering whether he should go to sleep now. He decided to take a shower instead. It would be the last one for a while.
There really wasn't much purpose in being up here in this hotel room, he thought. His business with Redford was all done. He really should be back down there on the river watching after things. He'd checked the boat lines yesterday, but you never know. Some tug could throw a wake in there and really mess things up. Lila had said she would just go down and take her suitcase off, but under the circumstances, with her mad at him like that, it was probably something he should check into. Particularly in this city. In this dreadful night.
By the time he was done showering he had decided to pack and get back and sleep on the boat.
He dressed and packed his duffel bag and got ready to go. Then, with his tote bag full of unread mail over one arm, and a duffel bag balancing it in the other hand, he passed through the sitting room toward the door. There he noticed that the moth was still buzzing under the lamp shade, still engaged in its own personal war with the forces of darkness. He took one last look at the magic balcony window on the other side of the room and then closed the door on it forever.
In the hallway, waiting for the elevator, he listened to the howling windy sounds of the elevator shaft. Howling wind sounds. They have a meaning for boat people that others seldom understand.
Suddenly it came to him that the moth didn't struggle to get up here at all. That moth rode up here on the elevator like everybody else. That was a twentieth-century moth. Only Victorian moths struggled against the darkness.
He smiled a little at that.
When Phaedrus' taxi arrived at the 79th Street Boat Basin he could see that the wind coming in over the river had shifted to the northwest. It was a sign the rain would stop soon.
By the gate, sitting on a rail, was a black man who stared at him. Phaedrus wondered for a moment why he was there. Then he realized he must be a guard. He didn't have any uniform though.
Phsedrus paid the driver, gathered his luggage from the seat of the taxi, and stepped out.
'You keeping things quiet here?' he said to the guard.
The man nodded and asked, 'Is that your boat way out on the end?'
Phaedrus said it was. 'What's wrong with it?'
'Nothing.' He looked at Phaedrus. 'But there's someone on it.'
'What's he doing?'
'It's a lady. She's just sitting there. No raincoat. I asked her what was the matter, said she "belonged" there. She just looked at me.'
'I know her,' Phaedrus said. 'She must have forgotten the combination.'
The boards of the dock were slippery, and as he walked carefully with all his luggage he could see her out there under the boom gallows.
He didn't like it. She was supposed to be gone for good. He wondered what she had in store for him now.
When he got there Lila's eyes were wide and staring. She acted as if she didn't recognize him. He wondered if she was on drugs.
He swung his luggage over the life lines and stepped aboard himself. 'Why didn't you go in?' he asked.
She didn't answer.
He'd find out soon enough.
He rotated the combination wheels of the lock in the dark, counting clicks, then gave a sharp tug on the lock, and it opened. Maybe that's why she couldn't get in.
'Couldn't you get the lock to work?"
'They stole my purse.'
Oh, that was her problem.
He felt a little relieved. If money was all she needed, he could give her enough of that to get her going in the morning. No harm putting her up for one more night.
'Well, let's get down inside,' he said.
'We're ready to go now,' Lila said. She got up strangely, as if she was carrying something heavy all wrapped in her arms.
Who is 'we'? Phaedrus wondered.
Down below he gave her a towel, but instead of wiping herself with it she opened up what she had been carrying and began to stroke what looked like a baby's face.
As he looked closer he saw that it wasn't a baby. It was the head of a doll.
Lila smiled at him. 'We're all going together,' she said.
He looked at her face carefully. It was serene.
'She came back to me,' Lila said, 'from the river.'
'She's going to help us get to the island.'
What island? he wondered. What's this doll? . . . 'What are you talking about?' he asked.
He looked at her very closely. She returned his gaze and suddenly he saw it again - the thing he had seen in the bar at Kingston, the light, and he felt inappropriately relaxed by it.
This wasn't drugs.
He settled back on the berth, trying to find some space to think this through. This was coming at him too fast.
After a while he said, Tell me about the island.'
'Lucky's probably already there,' she said.
'We're all going,' she said. Then she added, 'You see, I know who you are.'
'Who?' he asked.
There was no point in asking her any more questions. All he got was still more questions.
She looked down again at the doll with an adoring look. This wasn't any kind of drugs, he thought. This was real trouble. He recognized the style of what she was saying, the 'salad of words.' He had been accused of it himself, once. They meant something to her but she was leaving things out and skipping and hopping from place to place.
He watched her for a long time, then saw she was getting dreamy.
'You'd better dry off and change clothes,' he said. She didn't answer. She just looked down at the doll and made little cooing sounds.
'Why don't you go up forward and rest?' he said.
Still no answer.
'Do you want something to eat?'
She shook her head and smiled dreamily.
He got up and tugged at her shoulder. 'Come on,' he said, 'you're falling asleep.'
She woke a little, looked at him blindly, then carefully wrapped the doll again and got up. She stepped ahead of him like a sleepwalker into the forecabin and there placed the doll carefully in the bunk ahead of her and then slowly climbed in.
'Sleep as long as you want,' he said.
She didn't answer. She seemed to be asleep already.
He went back and sat down.
That wasn't so hard, he thought.
He wondered what he would do with her in the morning. Maybe she'd snap out of it. That sometimes happened.
He got a flashlight and lifted the cabin sole boards to check the level of water in the bilge.
It was still quite low.
He then got a wrench and opened the top of the drinking water tank and shone the flashlight beam inside. It looked about half-full. He could fill it tomorrow morning, he thought, just before he left.
What the hell? How could he leave tomorrow? What was he going to do with her?
He went back and sat down again. He wasn't really coming to grips with this.
After a while he supposed he could call the police.
And say what? he wondered.
'Well, you see, I've got this crazy lady on my boat and I'd like to have you get her off.'
'How did she get on your boat?' they would ask.
'Well, she got on at Kingston,' he would say . . . ridiculous. There was no way he was going to win that conversation.
He supposed the easiest legitimate way out of the whole mess would be to get her to see a psychiatrist. Then, whatever happened to her, he'd be done with her. That's what they're for. But how was he going to talk her into that? He could barely get her into the bunk up there.
And who was going to pay? Those guys don't come cheap. Would they take her as a charity case? An out-of-towner in New York? Hardly. And anyway just the paper-work of it, the bureaucracy, could make it days before he got out of here.
Slowly the predicament he was in began to dawn on him. Boy! There's no such thing as a free lunch. She really had him trapped. There was no way he could get rid of her now. What the hell was he going to do?
This wasn't tragic. This was so dumb it was comic. He was really stuck with her!
He could see himself spending the rest of his life with this crazy lady up in the forecabin, never daring to report her, traveling from port to port like some yachting Flying Dutchman - a servant to her for the rest of his life.
He felt like Woody Allen . . . That's who should play him in the movies. Woody Allen. He'd get it right.
What to do? This was impossible.
He realized he could just take her out and dump her overboard. He thought about it for a while, until it started to give him a sick depressed feeling. No sense in being ridiculous. He was really stuck.
It was cold in the cabin. The shock of all this must have prevented him from noticing it. He got out the charcoal briquets and built a fire in the heater, but all of the matches went out. More Woody Allen. All of a sudden nothing was working.
He went over in his mind all the things that had happened since he first met her in Kingston. She had given little warnings that something like this might happen. She was such a stranger he just hadn't recognized it. The sudden anger over nothing, that crazy sex episode in the forecabin in Nyack. She had been acting that way all along.
He guessed that's what Rigel was trying to warn him about.
He thought of starting up the stove for some coffee, but decided not to. He should try to get some sleep himself. There was nothing he could do now that couldn't be done in the morning. He rolled a sleeping bag out on the bunk, undressed and got in.
The talk about the 'boatman,' what was that about?
He wondered why she picked him up, of all people, at that bar.
She must see him as some sort of refuge. Some sort of savior.
He began to think about how isolated she really was.
After a while he guessed that must be the whole explanation. That's why she came back here tonight. Apparently he was the only person she could come to.
He didn't know what he was going to do with her.
Just listen to her for a while, he supposed, and then figure it out. That's all he could do.
The absence of any harbor sounds here was strange. Here in New York Harbor he'd expected tugboats and barges going through the night and heavy ocean vessels. Not this. This was like some peaceful inland lake somewhere . . .
Sleep didn't come . . .
. . . That light he saw around her. It was trying to tell him something.
It was saying, 'wake up.'
But wake up to what?
Wake up to your obligations, maybe.
What were they?
Maybe not to be so static.
It was a long time now since those years when Phaedrus had been a mental patient. He'd become very static. He was more intelligible to the sane now because he'd moved closer to them. But he'd become a lot farther away from people like Lila.
Now he saw her the same way others had seen him years ago. And now he was behaving exactly the way they did. They could be excused for not knowing better. They didn't know what it was like. But he didn't have that excuse.