I had told them they didn’t need me, that the tapes would do, hundreds of hours rebroadcast from the previous century. But no they said, they wanted contemporary critics! And that they didn’t want the loonies they had created by imitation in the old world in the new UnderGround. All that cloned patterning from 20thcentury-made zombies. They wanted a century of teaching to preserve the human soul! Surface hideouts of proletarian survival were feared most of all, dog eat dog militia fiefdoms existing before the birth of nations. The whole purpose of the contemporary had been to prevent awareness of the Wipeout by distraction and entertainment patriotism. Paradigms of mindlessness required to dull the senses to misperceive the event had to be replaced with mindfulness and courage in order to come out of the bunkers fit in a hundred years. I was not up for a slate at the Big Dumbo in Denver, the Ivy boys were there.
The UGs were another species of utopian community that popped up in America from the start. America was a small group haven of too many to name. Always a brotherhood was desired but which resulted either in dissolution or the inauguration of a strong leader who had all the power. These communities broke easily. The alternative to the UG was the takeoff. The lesser of the proles took off and left earth entirely, thinking to return after the dust settled. Like doves? The fantastic Kieninger (1927-2002) chosen to lead the Stelle to space said that ships would lift off before catastrophe. Evacuation plans to board the Starseed enterprise were to "simply place your name on the ‘automatic pick-up list,’ and believe that it is so. Should the need arise, you will be instantly beamed aboard a starship to safety without having to step into the blue-white tractor levitation beam." A welcome suspended animation awaited the physical with the mental, but the Directorate feared this in the 1500 cites worldwide below.
Greater travesties pretended no solution beyond these: go UG, hide on the surface or go into space. Our government's plan was the best according to it. Beneath all cities and in vast hideouts of New Mexico and the Rocky Mountains production of untold UG bases stored every means of survival. Linked by mag-lev UG shuttles over thousands of miles, these were held by the greatest minds since WW II as the solution, to ultimately pop up like moles or prairie dogs a hundred years after and restart civilization with a cybernetic graft.
Mag-lev shuttle trains built by workers with missing body parts, hands destroyed by radiation, cavities lined with white plastic type material with various sized zippered doorways, "we opened several of the zippered sections over the solid rock of these hollowed out Norwegian mountains, hydroponic gardens in UG bases, original Native American food crop varieties with more vigor under adverse climate conditions, in case the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico was not covered with scores of salt domes suitable for sub-sea excavation and deep buried sub-sea-floor bases. These had housed the genetic engineering laboratories, and the human clone production facility prison. Also, a highly-secure cocaine warehouse for illegal narcotics in transit, clandestine nuclear weapons stores, a super-secure Presidential command center, a super-secure bunker for corporate executives and directors, an ark populated with a select human population destined to survive apocalypse…multiple clandestine, high-tech facilities buried deep beneath the ocean floor of the Gulf."
I was reading when they came. Do you want to go with us to be saved from the end of the world? They don’t take no for an answer. I’m bound and gagged. My neighbors left behind. I’m to lecture in the program at DUMBpra Underground live, if they can get me to talk when all the species are pulverized by rock, but I’m too numb to go into it. The real question was whether to tell anybody ahead of the event since it was foregone it could do them no good. I go over my notes for the first class. "You’re here because Pop will eat itself, himself, yourself and all. Pop a doddle do." It was one of things that got me off the Red and Blue Lists. "Your first paper is to imagine you’ve been captured and are being held underground, but are intended by your captors to become a free society, completely cut off from all previous societies, families, ancestors and nature. Explain your reactions to this news and begin to design a new society under these conditions."
I had written about these communities, the second reason I got off The Lists: "the corruption and totalitarian nature of these undergrounds cannot be stated." There the colonies underground were compared to the worst gulags and Noah’s ark, but with a difference. Run like academies and military camps, they were set up and planned by such, the operating procedures were containment, thought control:
Imagine there's no silence, music always piped in,
with subliminal messages of control.
Imagine covert tranquilizers and stimulants in the foods,
microchips in every chin.
Imagine how much they would not desire literature to provoke thought and rebellion, yet realized that without art and poetry populations would be unable to survive once the gates were opened again. So to prevent the government science plan to survive from simultaneously killing the human spirit by these controls, just about the time I thought I could belong, I realized it was better to oppose the death of 5 billion than to cause it.
Vast UG facilities would restart 21st cent civilization from the ground up, Atlantis reborn. In the star class of such facilities around the world, those guys would be the ones to pop up outside the walls of the New Jerusalem like gophers. All the institutional homes of presidents and vice presidents would belch forth officials in their high speed deep UG. Elevators beneath DC would hum to a lev-mag catch shuttle from Cheyenne mountain.
I had written that "these survivals of humanity or the individual always assume life is worth saving, as defined by themselves. Isn't it better to live a slave?” Take for instance the bears enslaved to milk their glands, caught in "crush cages" on Chinese farms so they can't move and a permanent hole or fistula is made in the bears' abdomen and gall bladder to be milked daily for 'bear bile.' They are often fitted with iron vests to prevent suicide. One mother bear, provoked by the cry of her cub as its stomach was about to perforated, got loose, ran to its cub, strangled it, and drove her head into a wall to kill herself. There are in fact countless examples of such things which show that life or survival is only desirable if and only if...."
That was the assumption of my ancestors, Mennonites who fled a hundred years of oppression, midnight raids, imprisonment, torture. It was their position that life was not the highest good but faith was, and resting in that faith were counseled not to argue with their captors but to embrace their salvation in the blessings of Jesus, that is, embrace their death rather than adopt the beliefs of their captors, much like the apostle Stephen who was stoned, and the thousands cataloged from Hebrews 11 to Foxes Book of Martyrs to The Bloody Theatre. In this scene we had all gathered in the Coliseum, just as we were brought off the street. Caesar stood up and called out whether any were Christians. Now I know that Christian has been utterly defamed by his adversaries and his impostors. I know that Jesus has been diminished and defamed. Nonetheless, with my wife and young children standing with me, I shouted with the loudest voice, "I'm a Christian" and begin toward the podium singing out loud and louder, "Oh Lord our Lord, how excellent is they name in all the earth!" So you see I was not given tenure.
I had been bowling with Hank Hagerty, all night, in the early 60's, which we did more then once. I said, Hank, I think Jesus is going to return in our lifetime. He said, I do too. None of the parties to the survival of their enlightenment took this option, so there was some surprise when captivity got led yet once again. How many survivalists in the New Testament? They were all killed. So while I'm running up there to be beheaded I only do it from inner compulsion. What you going to do, avoid the Coliseum?
What anyway could you do underground? Who would ever stop saying? When is there an end? I'm not trying to write it. I'm writing, better to be out, outside in the event and enjoy it. Raise the hands in wonder and praise, sing Psalm 46. They will put the Psalms on the news. Echoing from every channel minarets of praise. Channel 3 has Psalm 8. Channel 5 has Psalm 91. Psalm 34 is on Channel 10. and all the neighbors will be outside singing, praising, O Lord our Lord, how excellent is they name in all the earth.
Bio: AE Reiff performs at Death of the Imagination.