After a while he said gently, 'Everything's all right. I'll be taking care of you for a while.' He watched for a flicker of recognition but didn't see any. Just the hypnotic gaze - straight ahead.
She knows I'm here, he thought, she probably knows I'm here better than I know she's here. She just won't acknowledge it. She's like some treed cat, way out on the end of a limb. To go after her just scares her farther out on the limb, or else forces her into a fight.
He didn't want that. Not after what happened back at the dock.
He softly closed the door and went back into the cabin again.
He remembered from his anthropological reading that these trance-like states are supposed to be dangerous. What happened back there at the dock fit the description of Malayan amok - intense brooding that's sometimes followed by sudden violence. But from what he remembered personally it wasn't so dangerous. If there's violence it's provoked by hostile people trying to break the trance and he wasn't about to do that.
Actually, he had a feeling the worst was over. The ominous thing about last night back in Manhattan was that she seemed so happy. She wasn't suffering. When she hugged and rocked that doll it was like listening to someone freezing to death say they feel warm. You want to say 'No! No! Feel the cold! As long as you're suffering you're all right.'
Now she's changed. The question is, changed for the better or for the worse? The only thing to do now, he thought, is just to wait it out for a while and see which way she goes. It looked like this good weather might hold for a while. He had plenty of things to do to keep himself occupied.
. . . Such as eat. It was already afternoon. He'd planned to tie up at Atlantic Highlands and buy food there, but now that was a couple of miles away. Maybe tomorrow he could put the outboard on the dinghy and putt over if the weather was calm. Or maybe see if there's a bus on shore somewhere and take that. For now they'd have to get by on what food was left from Nyack.
Nyack. That was a long time ago. Everything would be stale.
He pulled up the icebox top and looked inside. He reached down into the icebox and pulled up what he could find and placed it on the galley counter.
. . . There were some cocktail hot dogs in little jars . . . some small cans of meat and ham and roast beef . . . The bread was still there. He picked it up and it felt stiff . . . He opened the bread wrapper . . . It looked still edible . . . canned tunafish . . . peanut butter . . . jelly . . . The butter looked OK. One nice thing about cruising in October is that the food goes bad slowly . . . some chocolate pudding . . . He'd have to get groceries very soon. That was going to be a problem.
What to drink, though? Nothing but whiskey and water. And mix . . .
These cocktail hot dogs were stuck in the jar. He held the jar upside-down over the galley sink until all the juice around them ran out, but the dogs were still stuck. He got a fork and pried one out over a plate. It came out in pieces. Then suddenly they all came out in one big plop! They were kind of soft and squishy but they smelled all right.
He supposed he might just as well give her the whiskey and mix to drink. Yes, that ought to be good. She might refuse the food but the booze would be a little more tempting . . .
He spread some of the butter on the stale bread, put three of the cocktail hot dogs on top and another slice of bread on top of that. Then he poured her a really stiff one and put the glass on the plate with the sandwich and brought it up forward.
He knocked lightly, and said, 'Lunch. Beautiful lunch!'
He opened the door and put the tray on the bunk across from her. 'If I've made the drink too stiff let me know and I'll add some water to it,' he said.
She didn't answer but she didn't look angry or disconnected either. Some progress, maybe.
He closed the door and went back into the main cabin and started to fix his meal . . .
There are three ways she can go, he thought. First, she can go into permanent delusions, cling to this doll and whatever else she's inventing, and eventually he'd have to get rid of her. It would be tricky, but it could be done. Just call a doctor at some town they came to and have him look at her and figure out what to do from there. Phaedrus didn't like it, but he could do it if he had to.
The trouble is there's a self-stoking thing where the craziness makes people reject you more and more, which makes you crazier, and that's what he would be getting involved in. Not very moral. If it went that way she'd probably spend the rest of her life in an insane asylum, like some caged animal.
Her second alternative, he thought, would be to cave in to whatever it was she was fighting, and learn to 'adjust.' She'd probably go into some kind of cultural dependency, with recurring trips to a psychiatrist or some kind of 'social counselor' for 'therapy,' accept the cultural 'reality' that her rebellion was no good, and live with it. In this way she'd continue to lead a 'normal' life, continuing her problem, whatever it was, within conventional cultural limits.
The trouble was, he didn't really like that solution much better than the first.
The question isn't 'What makes people insane?' It's 'What makes people sane?' People have been asking for centuries how to deal with the insane and he didn't see that they'd gotten anywhere. The way to really deal with insanity, he thought, is to turn the tables and talk about truth instead. Insanity's a medical subject that everyone agrees is bad. Truth's a metaphysical subject that everyone disagrees about. There are lots of different definitions of truth and some of them could throw a whole lot more light on what was happening to Lila than a subject-object metaphysics does.
If objects are the ultimate reality then there's only one true intellectual construction of things: that which corresponds to the objective world. But if truth is defined as a high-quality set of intellectual value patterns, then insanity can be defined as just a low-quality set of intellectual value patterns, and you get a whole different picture of it.
When the culture asks, 'Why doesn't this person see things the way we do?' you can answer that he doesn't see them because he doesn't value them. He's gone into illegal value patterns because the illegal patterns resolve value conflicts that the culture's unable to handle. The causes of insanity may be all kinds of things, from chemical imbalances to social conflicts. But insanity has solved these conflicts with illegal patterns which appear to be of higher quality.
Lila seems to be in some kind of trance-like state up there but what does that mean? In a subject-object world, trance and hypnosis are big-time platypi. That's why there's this prejudice that while hypnosis and trance can't be denied, there's something 'wrong' about them. They're best nudged as close as possible to the empirical trash heap called 'the occult' and left to that anti-empirical crowd that indulges in astrology, Tarot cards, the I-Ching and the like. If seeing is believing then hypnosis and trance should be impossible. But since they do exist, what you have is an empirically observable case of empiricism being overthrown.
The irony is that there are times when the culture actually fosters trance and hypnosis to further its purposes. The theater's a form of hypnosis. So are movies and TV. When you enter a movie theater you know that all you're going to see is twenty-four shadows per second flashed on a screen to give an illusion of moving people and objects. Yet despite this knowledge you laugh when the twenty-four shadows per second tell jokes and cry when the shadows show actors faking death. You know they are an illusion yet you enter the illusion and become a part of it and while the illusion is taking place you are not aware that it is an illusion. This is hypnosis. It is trance. It's also a form of temporary insanity. But it's also a powerful force for cultural reinforcement and for this reason the culture promotes movies and censors them for its own benefit.
Phaedrus thought that in the case of permanent insanity the exits to the theater have been blocked, usually because of the knowledge that the show outside is so much worse. The insane person is running a private unapproved film which he happens to like better than
the current cultural one. If you want him to run the film everyone else is seeing, the solution would be to find ways to prove to him that it would be valuable to do so, Phaedrus thought. Otherwise why should he get 'better'? He already is better. It's the patterns that constitute 'betterness' that are at issue. From an internal point of view insanity isn't the problem. Insanity is the solution.
What it would take that's more valuable to Lila, Phaedrus wasn't sure.
He finished his sandwich, put away the food and cleared off his plate in the sink. He guessed the next thing to worry about would be that engine, and why it was overheating.
If he was lucky it would be something caught in or over the through-hull water intake for the engine cooling system. If he was unlucky it would be that something had clogged up in the water passages inside the engine itself. That would mean taking the cylinder heads off and fishing through the heads and jackets to find it. The thought of that was awful. Really stupid, when he bought the boat, not to have bought a freshwater cooling system that would have prevented the second possibility.
You can't think of everything.
Up on deck he raised the dinghy with the mast halyard, held it suspended over the side of the boat and lowered it gently so that its transom didn't go under. Then he got in, unsnapped it from the halyard, and by hand-over-handing along the boat gunwale, worked it to the stern of the boat.
He took off his shirt, lay flat in the dinghy and reached down with his hand into the water until it almost was up to his shoulder. It was cold! He felt around but there didn't seem to be plastic bags or other debris covering the engine intake. Bad news. He pulled his arm back up again and wiped it dry on his shirt.
He supposed whatever it was could have dropped off after the engine stopped, while he was sailing. He
should have run the engine for a while before he got into the dinghy to see if it was still happening. You always think of these things too late. Too much other stuff on his mind.
He tied the dinghy to a stanchion and got aboard. He went back to the cockpit and started the engine. While it was warming up he began to think about Lila again.
She's what you could call a 'contrarian.' 'You're a loner, just like me,' she had said the day they left Kingston. That stuck in his mind because it was true. But what she meant by it was not just someone who's alone, but a contrarian, someone who's always doing everything the wrong way, just out of pure willfulness, it would seem.
Contrarians sometimes just seem to savagely attack every kind of static moral pattern they can find. It seems as though they're trying to destroy morality as a kind of revenge.
He'd gotten that word out of his anthropology reading. It indicated there's more to contrarians than just individual 'wrongness.' It's common to many cultures. That brujo in Zuni was a contrarian. The Cheyenne had a whole society of contrarians to assimilate the phenomenon within their social fabric. Cheyenne contrarians rode their horses sitting backward, entered teepees backward, and had a whole repertoire of things they performed in a contrary way. Members seemed to enter the contrary society when they felt a great wrong, a great injustice, had been done to them and apparently it was felt that this was a way of resolving the injustice.
Once you see it in another culture like that and then come back to our own you can see that in an unofficial way we have our contrarian societies too. The 'Bohemians' of the Victorian era were contrarians. So, to some extent, were the Hippies of the sixties.
. . . The engine didn't seem to be overheating now. Maybe the problem was gone? . . . Hah - not very likely . . . Probably it was just because the engine was in neutral and wasn't working very hard. Phaedrus shifted into reverse to let it tug against the anchor for a while. He waited and watched the temperature dial.
Anyway, it seemed to him that when you add a concept of 'Dynamic Quality' to a rational understanding of the world, you can add a lot to an understanding of contrarians. Some of them aren't just being negative toward static moral patterns, they are actively pursuing a Dynamic goal.
Everybody gets on these negative contrarian streaks from time to time, where no matter what it is they're supposed to be doing, that's the one thing they least want to do. Sometimes it's a degenerative negativism, where biological forces are driving it. Sometimes it's an ego pattern that says, 'I'm too important to be doing all this dumb static stuff.'
Sometimes the contrary anti-static drive becomes a static pattern of its own. This contrary stuff can become a tiger-ride where you can't get off and you have to keep riding and riding until the tiger finally throws you and devours you. The degenerative contrarian stuff usually goes that way. Drugs, illicit sex, alcohol and the like.
But sometimes it's Dynamic, where your whole being senses that the static situation is an enemy of life itself. That's what drives the really creative people - the artists, composers, revolutionaries and the like - the feeling that if they don't break out of this jailhouse somebody has built around them, they're going to die.
But they're not being contrary in a way that is just decadent. They're way too energetic and aggressive to be decadent. They're fighting for some kind of Dynamic freedom from the static patterns. But the Dynamic freedom they're righting for is a kind of morality too. And it's a highly important part of the overall moral process. It's often confused with degeneracy but it's actually a form of moral regeneration. Without its continual refreshment static patterns would simply die of old age.
When you see Lila that way it's possible to interpret her current situation as much more significant than psychology would suggest. If she seems to be running from something, that could be the static patterns of her own life she's running from. But a Metaphysics of Quality adds the possibility that she's running toward something too. It allows a hypothesis that if this running is stopped, if any static patterns claim her - if either her own insane patterns claim her or the static cultural patterns she is shutting out and running from claim her — then she loses.
What he thought was that in addition to the usual solutions to insanity - stay locked up or learn to conform - there was a third one, to reject all movies, private and cultural, and head for Dynamic Quality itself, which is no movie at all.
If you compare the levels of static patterns that compose a human being to the ecology of a forest, and if you see the different patterns sometimes in competition with each other, sometimes in symbiotic support of each other, but always in a kind of tension that will shift one way or the other, depending on evolving circumstances, then you can also see that evolution doesn't take place only within societies, it takes place within individuals too. It's possible to see Lila as something much greater than a customary sociological or anthropological description would have her be. Lila then becomes a complex ecology of patterns moving toward Dynamic Quality. Lila individually, herself, is in an evolutionary battle against the static patterns of her own life.
That's why the absence of suffering last night seemed so ominous and her change to what looked like suffering today gave Phaedrus a feeling she was getting better. If you eliminate suffering from this world you eliminate life. There's no evolution. Those species that don't suffer don't survive. Suffering is the negative face of the Quality that drives the whole process. All these battles between patterns of evolution go on within suffering individuals like Lila.
And Lila's battle is everybody's battle, you know?
Sometimes the insane and the contrarians and the ones who are the closest to suicide are the most valuable people society has. They may be precursors of social change. They've taken the burdens of the culture onto themselves, and in their struggle to solve their own problems they're solving problems for the culture as well.
So the third possibility that Phaedrus was hoping for was that by some miracle of understanding Lila could avoid all the patterns, her own and the culture's, see the Dynamic Quality she's working toward and then come back and handle all this mess without being destroyed by it. The question is whether she's going to work through whatever it is that makes the defense necessary or whether she is going to work around it. If she works through it she'll come out at a Dynamic solution. If she works around it she'll just head back to the old karmic cycles of pain and temporary relief.
Apparently whatever caused that engine overheating was gone. He sure couldn't reproduce it now. He shut off the engine and the boat eased forward toward the anchor.
The sun across the water was getting on to the end of the afternoon and he began to get a slightly depressed feeling. Not the best of days. He noticed a seagull pick up an oyster or a clam or something from the sand on the shore and fly up into the sky and then drop it. Another seagull was homing in and diving to take it away from him. Pretty soon they set up a real screeching. He watched them for a while. Their fighting depressed him too.
He noticed on one of the other boats at anchor there was someone aboard. If he stayed up on deck they might start waving and want to socialize. Not something he wanted to do. He picked up his stuff and went below.
It had been a long week. God, what a week! He needed to get back to the old life. That whole city and all its karmic problems, and now on top of it Lila and all her karmic problems, were just too much. Maybe he should just take it easy for a while.
On the pilot berth was the tote bag with all the mail. At last he could get started with that, a good diversion. He opened up the leaf of the dining table, put the tote bag on top of it and took out the top bunch of letters and spread them out.
For the rest of the afternoon he sat with his feet propped up on the table, reading the letters, smiling at them, frowning at them, chuckling at them and answering each one that seemed to call for it, telling them 'no' when they wanted something with as much grace as possible. He felt like Ann Landers.
He heard Lila stirring once or twice. Once she got up and used the head. She wasn't that catatonic. This quietness and boredom of a boat at anchor was the best cure in the world for catatonia.
By the time it was dark he began to feel stale at answering mail. The day was done. It was time to relax. The light breeze of the day was now completely gone, and except for a slight rock of the boat now and then everything was still. What a blessing.
He took the kerosene lamp from its gimbaled mounting, lit it and placed it near the galley sink. He made another meal out of the left-over food from Nyack and thought about Lila some more, but didn't reach any conclusion except the one he had already reached: there was nothing to do but wait.
When he brought in Lila's food he saw the plate and glass he'd brought in earlier were empty. He tried again to talk to her but she still didn't answer.
He felt it getting colder now that the sun was down. Rather than start up the heater tonight he thought he'd just get into the sleeping bag early. It had been a long day. Maybe make a few slips on these new books on William James.
These books were biography. He'd read quite a bit of James' philosophy. Now he wanted to get into some of his biography to put some perspective on it.
He wanted particularly to see how much actual evidence there was for the statement that James' whole purpose was to 'unite science and religion.' That claim had turned him against James years ago, and he didn't like it any better now. When you start out with an axe like that to grind, it's almost guaranteed that you will conclude with something false. The statement seemed more like some philosophological simplification written by someone with a weak understanding of what philosophy is for. To put philosophy in the service of any social organization or any dogma is immoral. It's a lower form of evolution trying to devour a higher one.
Phaedrus removed the bag of mail to the pilot berth, then placed the kerosene lamp on top of the icebox where it would be over his shoulder and he could read by it, then sat down and began to read.
After some time he noticed the lamp had become dim and he stopped reading to turn up the wick.
Some time later he got his little wooden box from the pilot berth to make some slips about what he was reading.
In the hours that continued he made a dozen of them.
At another time he looked up from his reading and listened for a moment. There was not a sound. A little tilt of the boat now and then, but that was all.
There was nothing in what he was reading that suggested James was some kind of religious ideologue interested in proving some foregone conclusion about religion. Ideologues usually talk in terms of sweeping generalities and what Phaedrus was reading seemed to confirm that James was about as far as you can get from these. In his early years especially, James' concept of ultimate reality was of things concrete and individual. He didn't like Hegel or any of the German idealists who dominated philosophy in his youth precisely because they were so general and sweeping in their approach.
However, as James grew older his thoughts did seem to get more and more general. This was appropriate. If you don't generalize you don't philosophize. But to Phaedrus it seemed that James' generalizations were heading toward something very similar to the Metaphysics of Quality. This could, of course, be the 'Cleveland Harbor Effect,' where Phaedrus' own intellectual immune system was selecting those aspects of James' philosophy that fit the Metaphysics of Quality and ignoring those that didn't. But he didn't think so. Everywhere he read it seemed as though he was seeing fits and matches that no amount of selective reading could contrive.
James really had two main systems of philosophy going: one he called pragmatism and the other radical empiricism.
Pragmatism is the one he is best remembered for: the idea that the test of truth is its practicality or usefulness. From a pragmatic viewpoint the squirrel's definition of 'around' was a true one because it was useful. Pragmatically speaking, that man never got around the squirrel.
Phaedrus, like most everyone else, had always assumed that pragmatism and practicality meant virtually the same thing, but when he got down to an exact quotation of what James did say on the subject he noticed something different:
James said, Truth is one species of good, and not, as is usually supposed, a category distinct from good, and coordinate with it.' He said, 'The true is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief.'
'Truth is a species of good.' That was right on. That was exactly what is meant by the Metaphysics of Quality. Truth is a static intellectual pattern within a larger entity called Quality.
James had tried to make his pragmatism popular by getting it elected on the coattails of practicality. He was always eager to use such expressions as 'cash-value,' and 'results,' and 'profits,' in order to make pragmatism intelligible to 'the man in the street,' but this got James into hot water. Pragmatism was attacked by critics as an attempt to prostitute truth to the values of the marketplace. James was furious with this misunderstanding and he fought hard to correct the misinterpretation, but he never really overcame the attack.