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Title: Death into Life
Author: Olaf Stapledon
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Title: Death into Life
Author: Olaf Stapledon



CHAPTER I BATTLE


THE RAIDERS
THE REAR-GUNNER
THE CITY AND ITS PEOPLE
THE ATTACK


THE RAIDERS

TEN thousand boys in the upper air. Squadron upon squadron, their
intricate machines thundered toward the target, heavy with death.
Darkness below; and above, the stars. Below, the invisible carpet of
the fields and little homes; above, and very far beyond those flashing
stars, the invisible galaxies, gliding through the immense dark,
squadron upon squadron of universes, deploying in the boundless and
yet measured space.

In one of the bombers, seven boys. Seven young minds in patterned
unity; each self-cherishing, but all knit inwardly together by fibres
of steel-tempered comradeship. And all equally imprisoned, body and
mind, in their intricate machinery.

Seven boys, and by strange chance a moth. It had strayed, no doubt,
into the plane when the crew were taking their places. Since then it
had wavered hither and thither, up and down its prison, from one domed
transparent turret to another, teased by some obscure longing, needing
though unwittingly a mate. Searching, softly colliding with now this
young human cheek now that, kissing each one like the fluttered
eyelash of an invisible beloved, it spent the numbered seconds of its
life in vain. Or tremulously it thrust with feeble pressure against
the prison windows, drawn by the pin-prick lights of the sky; but
conceiving no immensity, no galaxies.

The seven boys too had their own, their more articulate yearnings.
They craved the life that was normal to their human, and more
conscious, but unfinished, nature. And like the moth sometimes their
minds impotently fluttered at the prison windows, vainly questioning
the stars.

THE REAR-GUNNER

The rear-gunner had never heard of galaxies. Even the stars were for
him little more than drifting lights. He knew, of course, that they
were suns; but what of it? The fact oppressed him. Shunned, it had
sunk almost too deep for memory. And though, on nights like this he
could not help remembering and wondering, after a moment's blankness
he was bored. The stars, he felt, didn't help matters at all. Down
here on earth it was hell, though streaked tantalizingly with
unfulfilling joys, with sex and beer and the bitter shattering ecstasy
of air-fighting. There were moments, too, rather frightening but
somehow exalting, when something deep inside one seemed to take
possession, so that the whole of life changed its colour and became
terribly important, and one kicked oneself for being such a waster.
But they didn't last, those moments. They were probably due to
digestion, or glands or something. No, down here it was hell; and up
there, just those blank stars. And now, to make things worse, he was
starting a cold in his nose. Already it tickled and exasperated him,
and already his head was none too clear. Would it spoil his nerve?
Would he muff his part in the show? Whatever happened, he must not let
the crew down. That really mattered. Mattered? Why 'mattered'? For a
moment an abyss of emptiness opened before him, but he gallantly leapt
it. Hell! He didn't know why it 'mattered', but it did; it mattered
terribly that the crew should do well. Then, remembering an earlier
raid, when the air round the plane was all fire and hammer-blows of
blast, he felt an inner sinking. Of course the odds were that the
whole seven of them would come through safely. But some crews would
not. And sooner or later--He pictured the plane ablaze.

Panic swooped on him; but instantly he beat it off. One mustn't think
such thoughts. Think rather of the pilot's skill and his own gunnery.
Oh well! Quite soon they would be racing home in front of the dawn,
lightened of bombs, and of fear. Then breakfast. How he wanted to
live! The moth's careless kiss had stirred him strangely, like the
tickle of a girl's hair on one's cheek, he thought. He had never been
to bed with a girl yet, though he often pretended he had. And he might
die tonight, never having done it. Why, he asked himself, was he so
clumsy with girls? Perhaps he was really frightened of them,
frightened of damaging something holy in them. He could never rid
himself of that feeling, though he knew it was silly. They were just
female animals, and he a male one. And so he covered his reverent
shyness with a man-of-the-world swagger; but they saw through it. She
saw through it. And she could lead him on and put him off so easily,
the teasing little bitch. But oh God, perhaps--perhaps they were both
messing things up; perhaps there really was something sacred; perhaps
this business of loving was really the way to it, if only they had the
right technique. By now the bomber was over the narrow sea. The risen
moon's reflection was a splash of light ahead. The moth pressed more
urgently toward the increased luminosity, while far below, unseen,
each wave-crest, each droplet of spray and bubble of foam, was
transfused with moonlight.

The rear-gunner did not know that under this salt water was an ancient
valley. There, forests had grown beside a great river. Mammoths had
crushed their way through the brushwood, and swum the hurrying water,
seeking new pastures in the future island. Crouching submen had used
untrimmed stones for tools, and for weapons in' their subhuman
quarrels, preluding bombs. But to the rear-gunner the narrow sea was
only the protecting moat of his island country. And his country was-
just fields and houses, cities and mines, the King and the Princesses,
and so on. And of course the decentest people in the world; and the
motherland of an Empire which was a spreading decency in every
continent. Some said it wasn't, blast them! They ought to know better
than to foul their own nest. But even if they were right, and the
Empire was a huge fraud, what matter? It was only the people at home
that really mattered. It was for them the crews were fighting, and for
the whole decent way of life. Decent? What could that really mean?
Sacred? Right absolutely? Or just the done thing, just a groundless
habit?

Dark land now loomed beyond the moonlit sea. Soon they would be up
against the enemy's defences, and then there must be no more dreaming.
Thank God, though he was clumsy with a girl, he was quick and sure
with a gun; and though on the way to the target his belly melted and
his legs might sometimes quiver, he was cool enough when the show
began. How the seven of them would act as one living thing, keying
their functions perfectly together! But oh, he wanted to live on. Of
course those buggers must be stopped from smashing everything. And the
island fortress must be defended, and the Empire, and all that. Yes,
and though one longed like hell for Civvy Street, it was good to know
that one was in on the greatest show, and doing it with style, like
the 'few', the superb 'few', in the Battle of Britain. But oh, he
wanted to live.

Well, if he did live through to the peace, he wouldn't bother about
politics. He'd have the hell of a good time to make up for all this.
Suddenly he had a vision of himself with his medals and his wing on a
shabby civilian coat, selling tooth-brushes from door to door. That
sort of thing happened after the last war, but it shouldn't happen to
him! If they didn't give him something better than that, he and his
kind would smash everything. The country certainly needed cleaning up.
It was all the fault of those dirty Jews, no doubt. Well, if life
meant living as an 'ex-serviceman', far better die tonight, and have
done. But pain! Like when he burned his hand, but all over. And death?
One never spoke about these things. He didn't even whisper about them
to his secret self, not if he could help it. Tonight, somehow, he
didn't care. He must face the facts. It was so much easier for the
Germans and the Japs, who believed they were going to Valhalla or
something. But for us, it was different. Of course the Padre was sure
we were all bound for some kind of heaven or other. At least he said
he was, but that was what he was paid for. Risky to bet on it, anyhow.
But if death was just a snuffing out, a switching off the current,
what sense in all this, this mess of heaven and hell down here?

Once more the rear-gunner brooded on the wide pin-pricked dome. Those
stars, those suns, were all looking at him with a cold objective
stare; or blinking, the better to see him; the better to eat you up,
my dear. At last he knew them for what they really were, the devils.
So at least he half-persuaded himself.

Actually, of course, they ignored him as completely as he ignored any
little phagocyte in his own blood-stream. The stars flowed in their
thousands, their myriads, squadron upon squadron, phagocytes in the
blood-stream of our galaxy. Depth behind depth behind depth, they
streamed along the channels of space, the great stars and the small,
the near and the far, the young giants and the senile dwarfs. And what
their significance might be, neither the rear-gunner nor any earth-
bound intelligence could ever know. Yet in the rear-gunner's mind some
dark, threatening hint of their possible meaning bore heavily down. He
shivered and blew his nose. Christ! What sense was there in those
bloody great fires? Those flying sparks, perhaps, from some unseen,
far greater fire. What a thought! He must pull himself together. For
him the flares, the flak, the tracer, must have more meaning; and to
keep a sharp eye and a steady hand. For at any moment now enemy
fighters might appear, and still far ahead lay the target, the City.

THE CITY AND ITS PEOPLE

Far ahead the City lay in the moonlight, exposed, waiting. The sirens
had sounded. Seen from the air by its patrolling fliers, this
metropolis was a huge smear, spilt on the patterned carpet of forest
and lakes, rivers and gossamer roads. It was an amorphous, yet an
obscurely detailed patch, as of lichen or some fungoid growth. It
sprawled over the plain, vaguely organic, splayed, a squashed animal
on the tarmac. But it was not lifeless. Restless antennae of light
reached upward from it, sweeping the sky, probing the upper air,
fading before the starry depth. For they searched, those prying
feelers, not for any heaven but for the expected re-onset of hell.

In a nearer view the City, the great living, wounded creature, still
displayed areas of vitality, intact tissues of patterned streets and
roofs. But there were huge tracts also of roofless honeycomb, the
cell-lids sheared away, leaving frail, broken, wax-thin walls, the
honey spilt and lost, the grubs all killed. There were broad regions,
too, where the comb had been crushed and flattened, the fragile
tenements shattered down into formless rubble.

Within this hive, this ants' nest, trampled and churned by giant
footfall, insects were still alive. Though swarms of them had migrated
outward into the forest and the frost to escape the nocturnal terror,
many remained. Ousters were gathered in deep-lying crannies and into
the buttressed shelters. Old people, their spirits already frayed out
toward death, clung still to life's last threads. Mothers clung to
their babies, fiercely jealous lest death part them; and expectant
mothers dreaded lest convulsive terror should drive the womb to vomit
out too soon its unfinished treasure. Young men and women shared
without privacy intimate delight, lest death should forestall them.
But others of the city's swarm had taken their stations for defence
against Hell's repeated impact. Gunners on their gun-sites waited.
Fire-watchers on the roofs waited. Wardens were in the streets.
Ambulance drivers were ready with their cars. In the casualty clearing
stations doctors and nurses waited in tense idleness. In the
mortuaries there were still displayed the unclaimed relics of the
city's previous agony, old withered bodies, and bodies in shattered
bloom, bodies in rags that were recently fine clothing, and bodies in
rags long worn; and torn disjected members, strangely impersonal, that
were once the familiar limbs of living workers, housewives, children.

Hidden among the ruins, armed men in uniform were held in leash, ready
to discipline the population.

City of horror, tortured no less in spirit than in flesh. Like any
city, it was a swarm of anxious little solipsistic individuals, each
encased in its own world, which seemed to it the one and only, the
true, the great world. For each of these beings, these postmen,
charwomen, shopkeepers, company directors, carried about with it, as
an aquatic insect might carry down a breathable air-bubble, its own
particular little universe, a microscopic and fragmentary excerpt from
the immense real; and yet a universe, a microcosm, complete with
landscapes and sentient beings, with cities and a starry sky, whether
of pin-pricks merely or giant suns; complete, too, with its own flux
of time, whether of a lifetime's years only, or of historical
centuries, or stellar ćons. Within each universe the minute individual
himself presided as a percipient, dynamic, scheming centre, endowing
its peculiar bubble with fragrance and colour, with heats of desire
and deadly chills of desolation. And these little selves, these body-
minds, these vibrant instruments of passion and of will, insulated as
mid-ocean islets, yet most strangely members one of another--might it
be that these were fractional excerpts from one immensity, from one
ultimate and single awareness? Or were they and all their kind
throughout the cosmos utterly separate grains of consciousness, and
the sole order of mentality in all the universe? Or did personal deity
look down on them, sifting his myriad creatures like sand-grains
between his fingers. Or were the little selves not in fact enduring
spiritual substances at all, but merely evanescent wraiths of
sentience and desire steaming from the physical processes of human
bodies, like vapours from a dung-heap?

Viewed in the mass, as units in a city's or a world's population, or
as insects in an ants' nest, how indistinguishable they were; their
prized differences merely the infinitesimal irregularities of a
machined pattern. Yet in a closer, a more intimate view, how unique
each one! Here, a little universe predominantly sunlit; until the
common disaster of our times eclipsed the sun for all. There, a
microcosm of sheer desolation. Here, a cauldron of furious events;
there, a stagnant puddle. Here, a mean and shrunken universe, confined
within a network of commercial or political intrigue, or of contrived
occasions of self-display; there, an ample and ever-expanding
microcosm, mirroring, however imperfectly, the whole tumult of our
modern world, the sequence of human history, the dawn of man, and of
the cosmos. Here, and here, and here, a universe disjointed by foolish
dreams or crazy myths. But there, and there, a very simple microcosm,
devoid of all immensities and subtleties, yet (who knows?) perhaps
essentially true to the ultimate temper of reality, because lit
inwardly by a few bright comradeships and loves.

And the little sentient, dynamic centres themselves, how diverse!
This, a spider, spreading, day in, day out, its filaments to bind the
wings of the innocent; that, a warm fountain of light irradiating
neighbour universes. This, living by rote, unquesting as a sleep-
walker; that, with fibres of martyred nerve extending into every
cranny of its little world.

So diversified were the city's millions in individual temper; and yet,
under the stress of a common delusion, a common tyranny, a common
tragedy, all now were harshly likened by the impress of an iron
convention.

Crippled now, the city, but unflinchingly game; with the fury of the
cornered rat, the tiger at bay. Proud and loyal people; but now
bewildered, tragic. Their idols crumbling. Gentle at heart, most
biddable. Delighting in the family and the Christmas tree; in the
pregnant tome, the far-flung theory. Opening the heavens with their
music. A people consciously how civilized; but latently barbarian;
like all men, but perhaps more dangerously. Under all their subtlety,
too simple. Under their gentleness, teased by the itch of their own
brutality; like all men, though perhaps more fiercely. A people easily
enslaved to brutish gods; the more so, since a nobler God had failed
them. For now the old gentle faith of the West lay rotting in their
hearts. Some, no doubt, still cherished it, were martyred for it,
witnessing against the tyranny; yet for most it was dead. How
faithfully had this people obeyed their new prophet, their frenzied
medicine-man. Giving him their boys and girls to remake to his dream.
Burning the books. Impounding, killing, torturing, to make a unified
people. Swarming over the frontiers in the prophet's name to make a
unified world. Demented with visions, they had strained forward
towards the promised land, the valhalla of glory and world-mastery and
plenty, these self-chosen saviours of mankind. But mankind had refused
them, had banded against them. And now their vision was fading. Not
merely because their armies were driven back, their cities blasted; in
their own hearts a spirit long dormant stirred in revolt against the
prophet and his purpose. Was it perhaps because, month after month,
year after year, the eyes of their victims and slaves had stabbed
them? Impotent pin-pricks, merely, but infinitely reiterated. Or was
it that their own suffering was at last teaching them gentleness?

Unhappy, tragic people. Deep sunk in guilt; but scapegoats also of a
guilty world.

THE ATTACK

The straining ears of the city's defenders were touched by a shadow of
sound. Sound was it, or fancy? If sound, was it thunder, or the
reverberation of distant battle? Advancing waves from the remote
tumult vibrated through the city's foundations, and slid along the
air-ways of the streets. The ruins trembled. The whole great wounded
creature quivered in every cell. And where the sound travelled, there
travelled also throughout the city's population, among the watchers at
their posts and the crowds gathered in the shelters, a sigh, concealed
by each from each.

Suddenly the city's own guns shouted and raged. Windows rattled,
crockery jangled. The sky's pin-prick stars were outshone by short-
lived brilliants. Ten thousand boys were in the upper air, intent on
slaughter; fair game, these, for the guns. And now the downpour of
great bombs tortured the city's heart, each striking into street or
building, with fierce rebound of fire; all intermingling their
spreading blast as raindrops their rings on a tormented pool. And so,
in half an hour, one more tract of the city's honeycomb was
obliterated, as by giant footfall. Once more, homes were
disembowelled, or their fronts torn off, exposing the doll's-house
rooms and furniture. Factories, offices, schools, churches, became
instantly mere rubble. And in these conglomerates of concrete and
brick, of beams and girders, here and there were human bodies. Of
these, many were quiet, their breath and life crushed out of them; but
some still breathed, and cried. And now great fires were jubilant
parasites upon the city, reaching their bright limbs skyward, their
dark plumes above the bombers.

In those minutes, hundreds upon hundreds of the little personal
universes vanished like the bubbles of a drying foam. Their vital
centres annihilated, they were extinguished, as a lit room ceases when
the lamp is shattered. And of the survivors some, because they were
symbiotic with some slaughtered one, were themselves henceforth
mutilated almost to death.

The city's bright antennae swept and probed the sky. In the upper air
the bombers picked their courses among cloud-high waving stems of
enemy light and bursting blossoms of fire. The ten thousand were
performing their appointed duty. For them the city's heart was a
target to be obliterated with finished skill before breakfast. That it
was also a tissue of lives and loves, was by most, in the stress of
the attack, forgotten. But for some it was obtrusive, and to be
anxiously shunned; and by a few the stab of pity was turned aside by a
carapace of self-righteousness; while fewer still, misshapen minds,
secretly relished the vicarious agony. But the more lucid gravely
faced the horror that they were inflicting, as one may press the core
out of a boil; and in full awareness they carried on with the work.

Each crew was a steel-knit unity of special functions and diverse
mentalities, obedient to a common purpose. Though each boy in each
crew was indeed his own cherished self, with a private theme of life
recalcitrant to this dread night, yet each was self-yieldingly organic
to the crew. Here and there, maybe, some misfit in the mental pattern,
some lone outsider or some untamed spirit, marred the crew's unity;
flustering all with mutual doubt and self-tender fear, poisoning the
composite being's single-heartedness and proficiency; much as an
aching tooth, or any other thorn in the flesh, may loosen an athlete's
unity of eye and muscle.

But this discordancy was rare. Each crew, within the little universe
of its common lethal purpose, was an integral creature. And the whole
armada of aircraft, stooping squadron by squadron to the target,
projecting their deadly spawn into the city's heart with stop-watch
precision and overwhelming concentration of onset, moved as a single
creature, an organic and intelligent swarm of beings, self-tender, but
self-yielding to the common life, the common purpose.

Not inviolate the bombers. Now one and now others, found by the city's
antennae, caught by the city's guns or by airborne defenders, streaked
the darkness with a long downward curve of flame; or blazed as a
sudden eruption, then vanished.

The moth still vacillated up and down its flying prison, vaguely
dissatisfied. But for the seven, the climax of their journey was now
at hand, the releasing of their death-load. Rapt now in the urgency of
their task, they were seven organs of one mechanical winged creature.
If any thoughts from the world of individual living should flutter
into any of the seven minds, these must be instantly destroyed. The
composite life of the crew must be absolute. The moth only, unwilling
and uncomprehending passenger, was separate. Imprisoned physically, it
remained mentally unfettered to the human tyranny, through its very
obtuseness.

The rear-gunner was happy. Already he had killed, and now he waited
for the next attacker. But when again the moth touched him with the
magic of a remote though so familiar world, his heart tripped; then
instantly recovered. Fiercely he braced himself.

Suddenly the plane was caught by convergent fingers of light. Near
shell-bursts blasted it hither and thither. In the storm of jagged
illumination, the rear-gunner saw for a moment the moth, a tremulous
creamy flake pinned on darkness.

Then overwhelmingly the rear-gunner's universe became all brilliance
and crashing noise: Wild pain flooded him through every nerve. Every
cell of his body's surface was attacked by smashing blast and furious
heat. And so with all the seven. The moth's papery tissues instantly
became a whiff of disorganized molecules. The flesh of all the seven
boys was agonizingly disintegrated. Seven young brains, the centres
and king-pins of seven universes, received their last experience. Then
these too became mere whiffs of gas, a rabble of wandering molecules.

And the seven young selves?

The rear-gunner's ultimate moments were wholly occupied with pain, the
frantic revulsion of his members against destruction. All other
experienced things in his universe, the pin-prick stars that were
suns, the crew's sacred comradeship, the moth's kiss, and all his
nineteen years of growing, were obliterated in the white heat of his
body's agony. Then pain itself ceased. The rear-gunner was
annihilated.

FIRST INTERLUDE

WHAT IS THIS DYING?

In the tube we said good-bye. You on the platform, I in the train. In
the time of the rockets.

Smiling, you stepped back and blew me a kiss. It was bright with all
our past.

The doors slid to, dividing us.

The chance that we should not meet any more was only, I told myself,
one in many millions. And yet--that very morning, and only a few
streets away, scores of people had been killed. Today, as on a
thousand days, they had yawned themselves out of bed, dressed,
breakfasted, set off about their business,' then suddenly, or slowly
and miserably, they had stopped being. Or so it seems.

What is this dying? No one who has done it can tell us what it is
like.

Are we mere sparks of sentience that death extinguishes, or fledgeling
immortals who fear to leave the nest? Or both, or neither?

We are conceived in mystery, and into mystery we die.

Let us, at least, not clamour for immortality, not pledge our hearts
to it. If the end is sleep, well, when we are tired, sleep is the
final bliss.

And yet perhaps what dies is only the dear trivial familiar self of
each. Perhaps in our annihilation some vital and eternal thing does
break wing, fly free. We cannot know.

But this we know: whether we are annihilated or attain in some strange
way eternal life, to have loved is good.



CHAPTER II EPHEMERAL SPIRITS


THE INSTANT OF DEATH
ANNIHILATION AND SURVIVAL
THE MEMBERS OF THE CREW
THE SPIRIT OF THE CREW
THE COMPANY OF SOME WHO WERE KILLED
THE SPIRIT OF SOME WHO WERE KILLED
DEATH OF THE SPIRIT OF THE KILLED


THE INSTANT OF DEATH

AT the very point of his annihilation the rear-gunner suffered a
strange experience, and one not easily to be told. He had already
swooned free from pain, and was falling headlong into nothingness. In
that final instant, suddenly he woke into awareness of his whole past
life. His whole past universe flashed miraculously upon him in
exquisite early-morning clearness and manifold detail. Once more and
all at once he was aware of all his days and nights, but as a string
of variegated beads laid out before him, alternate light and dark.
Each was figured with the unique experiences of that particular dated
night or day. There, as though present, he saw the day when he had
first been taken to school; the night of an indescribable nightmare
which kept its teeth in him even for many nights and days; the day
when, a school-boy, he had glimpsed divinity in a schoolgirl; the day
when he had started work in a bank; the night of his first operational
flight across the narrow sea. He saw too that the string holding all
his days and nights together was his cherished and continuously
growing body, now in the instant of destruction. Then, it lived, and
was the vehicle of all memory, the medium of all passions and
ecstasies, the source of all teasing hungers and all satisfaction. But
now his flesh was in the very act of death, his mind in the instant of
annihilation. Strange, strange that a mere instant should have room
for crowding thoughts and desires, and contain within itself all his
nineteen years!

At one end of the long sequence of his days he saw his first day of
all, knotted into the peaceful darkness of the womb, a day of painful
and novel churning and pressing, and of an agony of constriction,
followed by the sting of cool air on tender skin, and a sudden smack
that roused his lungs to their first breath and outcry. In the stress
of this earliest and most deeply buried of his memories the rear-
gunner was swept again by floods of blind infantile terror, rage and
self-pity; and of yearning for the womb's peace. And yet, surveying
his first day from the miraculous viewpoint of his last instant, he no
longer desired the womb, which seemed now about to swallow him once
more, and for ever. Now, all his desire was for life, and the
fulfilment of life's frustrated promises. For there before him lay all
his days, frustrated; bright with hopes and partial satisfactions, but
scored over with countless boredoms, distresses, falsified intimations
of future bliss, Greedily he licked up all the sweetness of his
precious numbered days, and spat out all their bitterness. And with
self-pity he brooded on the mature manhood that he was never to taste.

But now, in this same miraculously pregnant instant at the point of
his annihilation, the rear-gunner became aware of a strange conflict
within himself. With his whole being, seemingly, he was protesting
against annihilation; and yet at the same time he in some deep way
accepted annihilation with equanimity. With his whole being,
seemingly, he clung greedily to every sweet thing in his lifetime; and
yet also he turned away impatiently in search of ulterior ends, It was
almost as though two selves of contrary tempers assessed each day and
minute of his life, The one was recognizably himself as he had always
been, an eager lapper-up of pleasures and spewer-out of pains. The
other, the frightening and inhuman intruder, that was so alien and yet
somehow more deeply himself than his familiar self could ever be,
lapped up nothing, spewed nothing out, This formerly submerged but now
active part of him, if such it could be accounted, accepted pleasures
and pains alike dispassionately, judging each one for some ulterior
significance, inquiring of each whether the issue had in fact been
life or death, an increased range and penetration of personal being,
or a mere crippling. Thus in assessing the occasion when he had
shockingly burnt his hand the rear-gunner was twi-minded about it. As
his normal self, he was transfixed by the memory of the pain; but in
the other mode of his being, though equally aware of the body's
distress, he surveyed it quietly, and with a sort of voiceless
laughter at the other's gross enslavement. For this, after all, had
been not a crippling but an enlarging, an illuminating, experience.
Had it not initiated him into the formidable mystery of suffering? And
how could one begin to be a man without such initiation?

But his normal self greeted this incursion of a superior mentality
with incomprehension, ridicule and hate. He protested to himself, 'If
I must die, I'll die honest to God as I really am, and not be a sham
padre or a highbrow. Pain is just hell. I see no good in it, I hate
it, I loathe it. To hell with it!'

In his final instant, the rear-gunner tasted again the thousand little
experiences of wounded vanity or social mortification that had moth-
eaten the fair textile of his life, as when he had been cold-
shouldered by the belle of his suburb, or when he had discovered that
a new and brilliant friend lived in a shabby street. But now he was
torn by the violent discord between his familiar and his more lucid
selves. The one surrendered abjectly to the long-past horror of social
embarrassment; the other was tortured by shame of a very different
order, shame at puerility and meanness. In particular, over the
friend's back-street home he was now thrown into an agony of self-
contempt. For the friendship, which, as he now saw, might have been a
quickening influence in his life, had been poisoned by his snobbery.
In that first act of withdrawal, and in many other betrayals, up and
down his life, he had given poison to his own soul, so that he became
each time a little blinder, a little more heartless.

Assessing his blundering approach to the girl whom he had recently
designed to possess, he saw now in his awakened mood that never once
had he come face to face with her as a living spirit. Neither of them
had any real perception either of themselves or of one another or of
their relationship. Each had again and again wounded the other, not by
cruelty but by sheer self-absorption and obtuseness. On an occasion
when she, in distress over a crushed butterfly, had looked to him for
sympathy, he had failed to conceive that her misery might have some
hidden source. Secretly contemptuous of her childishness, he had
petted her and made love to her. But though she clung to him, a
strange chill came over her. And presently he grew exasperated at her
unresponsiveness, and ridiculed her for grieving so much over a
trifle. Then unaccountably she was seized with violent weeping. The
rear-gunner in his last instant and his miraculous lucidity saw, what
neither of them had at the time recognized, that through the
butterfly's destruction she had glimpsed with lightning suddenness the
horror in which countless fighting men and whole populations of the
oppressed were at that I moment engulfed. She was flung into a
desperate conflict between compassion for the oppressed and a new
sense that to participate in slaughter, even for the rescue of the
tormented peoples, was hideous sacrilege; though a sacrilege which in
a sick world needs must be perpetrated, to avoid a sacrilege more
hideous. But all this happened upon a plane of her being which she had
never before entered. Bewildered and terrified, she fled from it into
mere pity for the butterfly. But vague perplexity and unreasonable
terror remained. And in coming to him as an unhappy child rather than
as a woman, and in confiding to him a seemingly trivial grief that
tapped deeper sorrows, she was calling out to him for more than the
familiar love-making; she was imploring him for understanding and for
the healing of a wound which she herself dared not scrutinize; in fact
she asked for love, for the mutual searching and cherishing of beings
diverse in temper, yet members of one another. All this the awakened
self of the rear-gunner now recognized. And bitterly he despised
himself for his past obtuseness.

Yet in the very act of self-contempt, he also, as his normal self,
resented and feared this intrusion of clearer insight. 'What on
earth', he demanded, 'has come over me? What's the matter with me?
Where does all this highbrow slush come from? Not from me, surely. I'm
not like that; I never was. And anyhow, what's a girl for? Damn it, it
wasn't up to me to get her out of her silly muddle. All that sob-stuff
over an insect!'

In this matter of violence the new self of the rear-gunner revolted
with peculiar horror from his normal self. The living boy had always
accepted, though with obscure disquiet, the necessity of using
violence to defend the right. He himself had been called to kill and
to share in killing. For the crew's sake and for his country's sake he
had played his part in slaughter, sealing off in a neglected corner of
his mind all realization of the actuality, and of the horror and shame
that it engendered. He had told himself, 'It's dirty work, but it has
got to be done. If we're damned for doing it, well we're damned, but
it has got to be done.'

His new self, however, was outraged and bitterly remorseful. His
quickened imagination revealed with grim faithfulness the agony of the
enemy airman smashed by machine-gun bullets or cannon-shell, and of
the enemy citizens shattered or buried or burnt by the crew's bombing.
But more shameful even than this horror itself was the spiritual
betrayal that made it possible, the betrayal of that which his new
perception revealed as the most sacred thing, the bond of brotherhood
between all personal beings. New thoughts welled up in him, thoughts
which he could only with difficulty express, since his language was
limited by the dead boy's crude speech. Searching beyond the range of
the rear-gunner's familiar jargon, he brought out from the forgotten
recesses of that mind words and phrases dusty with neglect. 'How could
I be so--so insensitive,' he questioned, 'so--coarse-grained, dull-
witted, brutish, and so cowardly, as to take part in all that
savagery, that wickedness! And how can I ever wipe out, expiate, that
sin? I have wakened to find myself up to the neck in filth at the
bottom of a deep and stinking pit from which I can never climb.'

But presently his mood changed. Lifted as it were outside himself, he
regarded more objectively not only his participation in murder but his
whole life of rudderless drifting.

Reverting to the old jargon, 'Poor mut, poor twerp!' he sighed. Then,
painfully seeking out words that could express more faithfully his new
quickened perception, 'That poor sleep-walker', he said, 'could not
possibly have done otherwise. How could so insensitive a being have
struck free from the universal sin? How could anyone so scared of
disapproval, so cowed by the tribe's censure, have seen that the tribe
was wrong, have stood out against the tribe's will? The most that
could be expected of him was that he should obey the tribal call to
give up his freedom and learn to fight and in the end to die. And this
he did.'

But now another thought slowly took shape under the anxious scrutiny
of the rear-gunner's newly awakened and more lucid self. Surveying all
his fragmentary and hitherto undigested, uncriticized acquaintance
with the world of men, he saw that even if he had been clearly
conscious of the enormity of slaughter, yet to stand aside would have
been wrong. For to stand aside would have been to refuse a desperate
call for rescue. Millions of human beings, suffering under the most
hideous tyranny, cried out for practical help, and there was no way of
bringing them relief save the forlorn attempt of war. To preach human
brotherhood and set an example of non-violence would in this case be
quite futile. Moreover so deep-seated and subtle was the perversion of
all men's minds, so crazily were most men addicted to false values,
and so desperate was the present plight of the human race, that
nothing but violence, nothing but ruthless slaughter, could prevent
the destruction of the very possibility of a better world.

'If I had stood aside', he admitted, 'I should have been a peculiarly
ugly kind of snob, I should have been guilty of a sort of snobbery of
righteousness. I should have been just washing my hands of the whole
mess to keep my precious self clean.'

Yet when he remembered stories he had heard of the selfless devotion
of some who refused to take any part in war, he wondered whether they
had perhaps some vision that he still lacked, so confident were they
that violence must always in the long run inevitably do more harm than
good.

But presently he told himself, 'Those visionaries may, just may, be
right; and certainly they were true to their own faith. But--how can
one refuse for a doubtful vision a present and urgent cry for help
against cruel oppressors, torturers?'

Bewilderment and horror weighed down on him. 'Surely', he cried, 'the
world must be sheer hell if the only hope is that millions, in order
to rescue the tortured, will force themselves to use all the devilish
devices of war, will freely commit this foul crime against--against
what? Call it the spirit. This crime against the spirit, against the
very thing that they want to defend. Yes, surely this world of ours is
sheer hell.'

But recalling the brighter and fairer things in his own short life, he
protested, 'No, not hell, but something lovely that has been spoilt,
something of lovely promise but terribly hurt, frustrated. Where was
it, and when, and in what form that the poison entered?' These
questions were beyond his wit to answer; for his knowledge of the
world was but the knowledge of an average young man; and, though his
intelligence had been quickened by death, ignorance defeated it.

When the rear-gunner's two selves, if two they were, and if truly
'selves', and if both were indeed 'his', reviewed his final instant of
agony and annihilation, their feelings were very different. The normal
boy, faced with utter destruction, cried out, seemingly with the whole
force of his being, 'Oh, Christ, let me live!' And with that last
desperate prayer the rear-gunner himself, the normal, greedy,
snobbish, fear-tortured, yet within the crew well-disciplined and
comradely, self of the rear-gunner utterly ceased to be. Surely the
outcry of that poor self-cherishing and doomed individual mind might
well have echoed from star to star, from galaxy to galaxy, might have
reached even to the ears of compassionate God, if such there be; with
the similar last cries of his six companions and the other slaughtered
crews and the many killed citizens in their fiery honeycomb, and all
the killed on land and sea and in the air, in every quarter of the
planet.

But the other, alien self of the rear-gunner, and the alien self in
all the company of the killed, scorned that prayer which all had
prayed. 'Not I,' affirmed the rear-gunner in his more lucid mode, or
the alien being that had awakened in the rear-gunner's annihilation,
'Surely not I, but some other, was guilty of that cry, some mere
brute, some subhuman thing involved with me.'

Thus in his last instant the rear-gunner, like all the killed, had
been torn by inner conflict. The normal boy, at the very point of
extinction, was outraged by the aloofness and ulterior searching of
that stranger within himself. He supposed that the coldness of desire
in him must surely be death itself already dissolving his vitality and
disintegrating his mind. Yet in the same instant he, his very self (if
his self it truly was), his new, alien and quickened self, assessing
his past life's little worth, declared, 'All my life I shirked the
test. I took the easy line. I lapped up little pleasures and was cowed
by little pains. I turned away from every opportunity of growth, held
back always by sluggishness or fear or blank obtuseness, smothering
the dim light in me at every step by my self-generated fog of trivial
cravings. What might I have done, what become, if I had not chosen
always to remain a sleep-walker. And now it is too late. Never will
those lost openings be restored to me.' Remorse and self-despising
gripped him. Particularly he loathed his baser self for that final
desperate cry to a divinity in whom he had never really believed, and
whose name had hitherto been for him little more than an imprecation.
'Abject creature that I am,' he said, 'nailed to self-pity! What
matter that such a moth must die without fulfilment?'

Not that even in his more lucid mentality the rear-gunner accepted
annihilation wholly without misgiving. Though he cared nothing for his
personal survival, yet it seemed that with his ending must also come
an end to something perhaps more worthy. Seemingly the whole little
treasure of experience which he had gathered in his brief lifetime
must now, with his extinction, be itself extinguished. If only he
could know that in some way it contributed to some whole of cosmical
or divine experience, as a raindrop to the ocean! But he had no reason
to believe that this was so; and in his lucid mode he scorned to
believe without reason, merely for comfort. Well, the ocean would not
be perceptibly the poorer without his raindrop. Moreover, as he now
bitterly realized, he had lived so obtusely that perhaps nothing
whatever in his whole life was creatively unique and worthy of
preservation. True, but what of his six companions, and the thousands
of war dead and all the myriads that had died and were to die in all
lands and ages? And what of all those stars that were indeed suns, and
the minded worlds that perhaps were sprinkled, however sparsely, up
and down the galaxies? Did all their vast treasure of experience
simply vanish with the ephemeral individuals who had supported it?

The rear-gunner, even in his more lucid self, was oppressed by the
seeming futility of all existence. But he told himself that even the
loss of all that treasure mattered nothing. Really what mattered was
just that the upshot of all those myriad lives should be the practical
advancement of their particular worlds in individual happiness. But
happiness? The happiness of insects like himself? Not sheer happiness,
then, but the fulfilling of these insects in ever richer, keener, more
discriminate, more creative living. (What unfamiliar language this!
From what hidden source did it rise up in him?) The fulfilling of
insects, generation after generation, in ever finer awareness! Then,
was the justification of the ćons of misery and pain some final,
glorious, cosmical Utopia? And would it be a dreadfully superior
Utopia of super-minds intent on super-highbrow activities? Once more
oppression seized the rear-gunner. And presently he thought of the
inevitable decline and fall of that far-off society. For scientists
declared that the whole universe was running down like a clock, and
that in the end all life would be extinguished. In imagination he saw
a million frozen worlds, each sprinkled with frozen honeycombs that
once were cities, their features now almost obliterated by the corpse
coverlet of ultimate snow.

The rear-gunner, or that which had awakened in the rear-gunner's final
instant, was overwhelmed by a great weariness and loneliness, so that
he cared only for sleep. Vaguely he thought of those occasions when,
after a hard day, he had dropped into bed, and down, down, into the
peace of sleep. (The womb again.) On those nights, had he on the brink
been told that, if he slept now, he would never wake again, he would
have leapt from his bed; but now, though believing that his sleep was
to be eternal, he sighed thankfully and drew the blanket of oblivion
over his head. Presently even the ultimate desire for extinction was
expunged from him; and with it, all thinking, all awareness.

ANNIHILATION AND SURVIVAL

After an instant or an ćon, he who had been the rear-gunner in the
aeroplane where the moth was imprisoned woke from his nescience?. And
it was as though he woke into a new nature.

He took up once more the thread of his meditation, but now the whole
climate of his being had changed, as though sleep had profoundly
refreshed him. He smiled at his recent despond, reminding himself of
the feebleness of human intellect. How should human animals, those
upright worms with swelled heads, predict the issue of the ćons? And
if the last event must indeed be ultimate and eternal death, might not
all still be well? After full achievement, what better than sleep? But
anyhow, what matter! How foolish to despair over a disaster so remote
and so uncertain!

Once more, he considered the chequered rosary of his own past days and
nights. Little enough of achievement, certainly, could be seen in
them. But he viewed them now no longer with a sense of personal
frustration, no longer with exasperation and self-blame. Somehow a
weight seemed to have fallen from him, as though an aeroplane had
jettisoned its load, and suddenly flown free. Pitifully, but not with
self-pity, he now fingered the little rosary of those days and nights.
'Poor boy,' he said, 'so greedy was he for delight, and so misused by
the world, and by himself. So unaware was he of all but his trivial
hungers and pains. No! Not I! That poor sleep-walker was never I.'

And yet, fingering again those beads of time, and looking more closely
into the heart of each obscurely translucent globe, he began to see
that there were indeed occasions in the rear-gunner's life of which he
could without hesitation declare, 'Now that, yes that, truly was I.
Then, and then, and then, I, the real I, did indeed wake in the depth
of the dreamer's heart; and I, I, took possession for a while.'

He watched the schoolboy, startled once by seeing with new eyes a
certain outlawed schoolmate, so that with fists and tongue and heart
he hotly championed him. And when he had so thrillingly greeted
divinity in a schoolgirl, his adoration, though callow and muddied
with self-importance, was in essence disinterested. Responding to that
alien sweetness he had indeed in his childish way saluted divinity.
That adoration of another, that craving to live wholly for another's
sake, that obscure longing to find with another some still
inconceivable but exquisite union and rebirth as 'we'! There had been
moments, too, when trees and flowers and clouds had opened strange
windows for him. And sometimes, in his training for the air, most
unexpectedly, a mathematical formula had stirred him with its economy
and far range of significance. Music, too, had now and again struck
from him a spark of perplexed worship. And after all, had he not given
himself without reserve to the crew's life, in service of a cause how
vaguely conceived yet none the less recognized as binding? For that
cause he, who feared death as a child the dark, had died.

'Yes!' affirmed the being who had awakened out of the rear-gunner, 'on
those occasions it was indeed I, my very self, who saw, felt, spoke,
took action.' And as he peered into the dimly luminous heart of each
past day, he recognized everywhere traces of a lucidity which he need
not disown, though everywhere it was overlayed with the poor sleep-
walker's obtuseness. 'Though he was not I,' he mused, 'yet every day
and every night I was astir within him, though drowsily, in the dark
womb of his nature.'

'But I?' he wondered, 'Who am I? What is it that I truly am? The
creature that gave birth to me, the creature that cried out for
immortality, is quite extinguished. It has no part in my future;
whilst I, escaping from its death, am cut off from all nourishment
from its finished life. And yet I live on. The cord is cut, but the
first breath in the new world not taken. Unless this dark isolation
ceases, I too, through sheer lack of experience, must soon be
annihilated. Oh for a world, a heaven, where at last I can begin to
fulfil the promise of my nature! Oh for the clash and concord and
creative intercourse with others of my kind with whom I can rise
beyond myself to richer, keener being!'

THE MEMBERS OF THE CREW

Musing in this style he suddenly recognized that a world was all the
while around him. So absorbed had he been in his inner-drama that he
had not noticed it. But now he knew that he had been all the while
afloat in the sky over the burning city. He was the centre of an
unbroken sphere of vision. Bodiless, his seeing was in no direction
obstructed. Below him lay the fiery honeycomb; above, the climbing
smoke plumes, with here and there a star, and the moon, now forging
through little clouds. On every side he saw war's shafts of light and
bursting suns of fire. An obscurity downwind was the fading cloudlet
left by the bomber's recent explosion. Presently a near shell-burst
engulfed him for a moment in an extremity of light and noise, but
painlessly. And then an aeroplane, roaring out of the darkness,
traversed harmlessly the very point from which he saw.

But once more his attention was distracted from his physical
surroundings, for he became aware of the mental presence of his six
killed companions.

The past lives of all were bared, like his own, for contemplation by
all seven of them. It was as though all seven stood now together, each
viewing all their seven pasts from the final instant in which all had
died; as though all together looked along seven radiating tunnels of
biography. All were embarrassingly aware of each other's most intimate
experience. For though all had rid themselves of their mortal natures,
they were as yet not fully equipped for mutual insight. Each was still
fettered by much of the ignorance and prejudice of his particular
life. And so, in each, the habit of comradeship and self-yielding to
the crew's community was now put to new strain by this unwished-for
intimacy. Formerly each, while outwardly performing his office in the
common life, had preserved an inner sanctuary which the others could
not, would not, violate. But now, in a bare instant, mutual perception
was thrust on all. Shames formerly covered were now exposed. Conflicts
formerly disciplined for the crew's sake, but always smouldering, now
flamed.

Secretly, the pilot had always despised the rear-gunner's accent; the
rear-gunner had resented the pilot's self-assurance. Forbearance for
the crew's sake had restrained each from wounding the other. But now
each looked with horror and incipient hate at the other's unexpressed
but now unconcealable hostility. The navigator's diffidence, which had
forced him always to be the last to go through a door, was now seen by
all to be the fruit of secret annoyance and envy. The bomb-aimer's
stammer, formerly an occasion for kindly indulgence, though for
unexpressed contempt, revealed its root in the shame of an obscene
desire which made all shudder and draw away.

There was one of the seven, the engineer, a newcomer, who in the air
was wholly of the crew, bound by the filaments of the crew's unity;
but off-duty he had remained apart, because of rough speech and
manners and an inscrutable reticence. He now appeared to his six
companions almost as a member of a strange barbarian tribe, or a
creature of another world, never explored by any of the six. They,
haling from little suburban villas and secondary schools, felt
themselves to be integral to society. They regarded the policeman not
indeed as their servant but at least as the necessary defender of
orderly and decent living. But this other, nurtured in a northern
work-town where work had formerly come almost to a standstill, where
the common fate was hunger, sickness and social impotence, saw the
whole convention of society's Structure as a device of the prosperous
to keep the poor in subjection. Every policeman was for him an enemy.
Looking down the vista of his days and nights, this seventh member
saw, and his six companions saw with him, a filthy urchin sitting on
the kerb-stone playing with a broken bottle in the gutter; while in
the six other lifetimes all observed nice children sitting on suburban
grass-plots. They watched the schoolboy in a crowded classroom
discovering his native power, but constantly hampering himself by
rebellious acts and consequent punishments. They saw the young man
unemployed, gripped in that steel trap of privation and futility,
listening to angry speeches at street comers and in shabby halls,
poring over revolutionary tracts, and presently himself making
earnestly subversive speeches, or skirmishing with policemen. They saw
not only these distressing events but also the inner passion
exfoliating day by day in the young man's heart, the passion of the
iconoclast and the revolutionary. And they were outraged. For it
seemed to these others, who, for all their man-of-the-world cynicism,
had never really questioned the fundamental integrity of their
society, that this passion sprang merely from self-pride and envy.

But the young revolutionary, looking into the lives of these sons of
business men, clerks, shop assistants, mechanics, was amazed. Their
parents, one and all, had been compelled by social circumstance to
fight for a living against innumerable competitors, all seeking
desperately for some foothold on the slope that leads up to affluence
but down to penury; yet, these fathers and these sons, though they had
been nearly always discontented and harassed, blamed merely their bad
luck, or the state of trade, or bolshevik machinations, or the Jews,
or the inveterate evil in man's heart. They never had any thought that
their troubles were in fact the issue of some deep-lying social
disease, and that they were poor little infected cells in the social
body. But, to the seventh member of the crew, the engineer, it seemed
that for such as these, and indeed for all men, there could never be
any hope unless they could learn to understand the great social forces
which had produced all this frustration and misery. And understanding
would surely drive them to take action together about it.

All seven were plunged into revulsion and protest, long-enduring (so
it seemed to them) as a lifetime of painful learning; but, measured in
physical time, it happened in the instant. Little by little, yet in
the instant, after the spell of bewilderment and horror a change came
over the seven emergent spirits of the crew. For each of these beings,
who had been through that strange remaking which had befallen the
rear-gunner, were now apt for learning. They were no longer simply
boys who had died. They were the beings that had been obscurely born
of those seven, and had awakened into clear awareness in the
extinction of those mortal seven. Therefore, after the first
revulsion, they yearned together, each saluting the other's
individuality with respect, and seeking mutual insight. The pilot and
the rear-gunner laughingly forgave each other. The bomb-aimer's
obsession was seen by all no longer as a devilish lust but as a
psychical scar left by misfortune. The revolutionary was no longer
spurned. For now the six saw that their condemnation of him was less
moral than snobbish, a mere unthinking rejection of standards alien to
the tribe. They reminded themselves that this seeming enemy of
society, whose energy appeared to be sheer hate, had been also their
own trusted companion in the crew, one who in action had been well-
integrated with them, one to whom all had paid a special though none
an intimate admiration.

Eager to do justice, they looked with clearer vision. They saw the
schoolboy in his bare home struggling with his homework, while the
mother soothed a crying baby. They saw the parents daily trying to
conceal mutual irritation under their sorely tried affection. They saw
the lad himself noting day by day that the source of all their
distress was poverty. And they saw him conceiving through suffering
and mutual aid a passion of comradeship for certain schoolmates and
young fellow gangsters, and a growing need to give himself in
corporate and comradely activity.

They savoured more intelligently the lad's frustration in
unemployment; and his induction into the corporate life of the
revolutionary Party, where at last he found peace in self-dedication
to the revolution. With curiosity, with growing interest, and then
with warm accord, they watched the young man's mind form itself by
reading and the experience of social action, until he was fully
disciplined to a commanding idea, the conception of mankind as
something of high promise but of crippled actuality.

Through his fervour the six themselves now for the first time felt the
power of this human gospel. 'It is indeed largely so,' they said,
'though the mortal boys that gave us being knew nothing of it.'

But they saw also, with their newly quickened intelligence, that the
revolutionary's majestic vision of class conflict and social
evolution, though in a way true and serviceable, reached nowhere into
the depths of truth; and that their comrade, spellbound by a theory,
had conceived the world too glibly. They were distressed, too, that in
service of the revolution he had often broken the moral law that they
unquestioningly accepted. For the sake of a political though never for
a personal advantage he had often lied; given false interpretations of
facts, vilified the personal character of the opponents and half-
hearted friends of the revolution. In their post-mortal lucidity they
could well understand how revolutionary passion had seemed to justify
such conduct; but they were perplexed, recognizing that to behave in
this way was to do violence to something sacred, to that temper, that
way of life, that universal spirit, which all, obscurely swayed by
echoes of the old religion, had dumbly and shame-facedly recognized as
in some sense divine. But they could not honestly blame their comrade
for this error, if indeed error it was; for its source was the
generous passion for the freeing of mankind from bondage. And for
their own part the six were now deeply ashamed of their own past
obtuseness to the world's ills, and to the meaning of the great
pattern of events in which all their lives had occurred.

The revolutionary seventh, on his side, having now fully recognized
the personal reality of his six companions, looked with misgiving on
many things in his own past, fearing that, in blind loyalty to the
end, he had often, by lightly choosing evil means, done hurt to
something without which the end, the true end, could never be
achieved.

And so these disembodied seven, who in their former lives had scarcely
ever given attention to the deeper questions, now entered perplexedly
upon a philosophical discussion, if indeed such a name can be given to
the strange direct interfusing of mind with mind which now swiftly
brought them into accord.

Thus at last, through mutual insight, the community of the seven was
restored and deepened. Each one of these diverse spirits, strangely
born of the lives of seven young Englishmen, contributed his
uniqueness to the common enrichment. And thus at last did their
friendship find its consummation in intelligent love.

But in this final act of love the seven, as distinct beings, were
doomed to attain not only their fulfilment but their end. For the
upshot of this mystic fertilization of each by all was that all
conceived within themselves co-operatively, or perhaps were gathered
up into, a single spirit, which was the living identity of them all.
Each with agony and terror but with overriding ecstasy was torn by
strange death--or birth-throes. And out of this communal parturition,
lethal to the seven, who now all fell headlong into nescience and non-
entity, the single new-born spirit took wing.

New-born? Or newly awakened? Conceived perhaps much earlier in the
seven's active comradeship, but hitherto somnolent, tranced, impotent,
and now at last awake and free. Whatever the metaphysical truth of it,
the seven now had died into an identical, more vital being, who was no
one of them, nor yet the sum of them, but the heir of all their lives.

THE SPIRIT OF THE CREW

This being woke to find himself at first no more than the fragmentary,
ephemeral and single-purposed spirit of a certain bomber crew.

Strange that the seven should be dissolved in a fellowship which,
after all, had possessed them so superficially. Each of them had lived
almost the whole of his life without any relation to the crew. Only in
their final year, their last few months, had they been thrown
together. Probably all of them, certainly some, had participated in
associations far more expressive of their personal natures than the
upstart and grimly simple crew. Yet now in death all died into that
stark spirit. Seemingly the cause was that in the moment of death all
were intensely concerned in the crew's united action. Moreover, only
in the crew had they learnt to discipline their wills fully to a
common purpose.

But indeed this simple spirit of a bomber crew was soon to discover in
himself strange depths and heights of being. Brooding on the past
lives of his seven members, he came to feel that, in some way still
dark to him, he was in fact far more than the unity of those seven
boys. As the sheer crew-spirit, he remembered those seven bodies as
his own seven-fold body, though a body whose organs were often
recalcitrant to the precariously enthroned common spirit. For each of
his seven members had a life and a sentience and a will of his own.
And each had a mentality far richer than the single-purposed spirit of
the crew. Only in the air were they fully disciplined to the common
will and to the fanatical simplicity of the common spirit. And even in
the air they had remained seven individual minds, self-disciplined
under a common loyalty.

But now, he who had emerged from the seven, felt that all the while he
had been resident in each one of them, identical in each, though for
the most part unconscious, deeply submerged, rising into clear
perception and integral will only on those occasions when the crew's
action was most single-purposed. When it was less so, when some of his
members were keyed up for battle and some were reluctant, then it was
he himself (so it now seemed to him) who goaded the faint-hearted ones
into courage, as a man may goad his own tired muscles into the vigour
of desperation.

Looking back, it seemed to him that not merely the seven but the very
machine that imprisoned them had been part of his body. For through
the seven's well-trained senses and through their instruments, and
through their muscles and their mechanical controls, he lived the life
of that composite being, biological and mechanical. As a man driving a
car may feel the roughness of the road through the tyres, and the
steepness of the hill through the straining engine, so he felt through
those seven bodies and through the wings and air-screws and straining
engines the very texture of the atmosphere, and the thrust and swoop
of the plane. And as a man's will controls a car, so he, through the
seven minds who were but organs of his own mind, controlled and fought
the plane. Looking back into his past, it seemed to him that he had
always since the crew's founding been present in each of his members
as the identical will for efficient flying, efficient defence,
efficient attack, and safe return. In the past he had participated
only in the vaguest and most ineffectual manner in the personal lives
of his members outside the aeroplane, outside the carapace of their
common life in the crew. He knew them only in so far as they were
intimate with each other. But now in their death and mutual insight he
became fully possessed of all their experience.

In life, each one of them had been an individual boy fleetingly
possessed by the crew's unity. Moreover each had been a member also of
other communal beings. For each had shared in other groupings, in
family, school, team, working gang and innumerable other less durable
associations. Looking back into the earlier lives of the seven, the
spirit of the crew told himself that in the time before ever they came
together as a crew he could have had no part in any of them at all.
Indeed in those days, seemingly (though somehow he could not believe
it) he had no being anywhere. And even later, in the time of the crew,
one or other of his precious members was often possessed for a while
by sheer self-concern, or by interest in some corporate being other
than the crew. And indeed the young revolutionary, though of all the
seven he had been the most self-disciplined to the crew in action, was
also in his heart aloof, because dedicated ultimately to a loftier
loyalty.

'But I, I, who am I?' questioned the crew's spirit. 'Am I really no
more than the ephemeral community of the seven in whose lives I was
conceived, and in whose death I discovered myself? And what future, if
any, lies before me? In what world can I take action to express my
nature more fully than my seven members could ever do?'

For as the crew's simple spirit brooded over the lives of his seven
members, all their diverse individualities became absorbed into
himself. His nature deepened to include the whole wealth of all their
being.

Further, it seemed to him that, though his contact with the world was
limited to the experience of his seven members, yet in some manner he
was indeed far more than those seven. Though they were in a sense his
parents, yet it now seemed to him most insistently that throughout all
their lives, and not merely since the forming of the crew, he had
always been present within each one of them, feeding on the diversity
of the experience of those young human persons, and always an
identical spirit in them all. But always, until their death, he had
been a sleep-walker.

Nay more. It seemed to him that not only in the seven but in all those
whom the seven had ever known, in their lovers, friends, colleagues,
enemies, a spirit lived which, if only he could reach out to it, would
prove to be himself, or, if not himself, then perhaps some more lucid
spirit, that he, like all those others, strangely harboured.

Intently brooding on those seven lives, assessing the quality of their
fumbling commerce with their fellow mortals and with the world, this
being who seemingly had been born of the seven as the starkly simple
spirit of their vivid community in action, now seemed to himself far
older than the seven, seemed indeed primeval, perhaps eternal, seemed
also to be of unplumbed depth, and subtlety. And now he was possessed
by an obscure but passionate longing to be more fully, more lucidly
himself, and to come into active commerce and communion with a world.
As a sleeper may sometimes struggle vainly and in terror to spring
from sleeping into waking, while his limbs remain paralysed, his eyes
shut, and his mind crushed down as though under a great weight of
water, so this being struggled to wake and be fully himself, and greet
the unknown world, the great reality beyond himself.

THE COMPANY OF SOME WHO WERE KILLED

Suddenly the spirit of that crew with whom a moth had been imprisoned
became aware of the cloudy moonlit sky and of the burning city, far
below. The sirens were sounding to proclaim untranquil and unlasting
peace.

He became aware also of a host of presences, bodiless like himself. It
was as though a babel of voices deafened him with incoherent clamour;
but these were in fact a swarm of spirits shifting, vanishing and
reappearing, impinging directly upon his mind with violent conflict
and intermittent sweet accord.

After a spell of bewilderment, he discovered that these beings with
whom he was in such overwhelming contact were the spirits that had
awakened in the final instants of all the killed in that battle, both
in the air and on the ground. There were individual beings, and there
were composite beings like himself. There were spirits emergent from
those isolated killed who had not at the moment of death been deeply
absorbed in the common life of any group; the spirits of particular
airmen, firemen, soldiers, gunners, citizens. And there were those
composite spirits that had awakened in the sudden destruction of whole
close-knit crews of aeroplanes and anti-aircraft guns.

The spirit of that moth-accompanied crew found this new experience
painful. The tumult and conflict of all these beings entered deeply
into his own personality. For, under the stress of these new
attractions and repulsions, one or other of his own seven members, who
had seemed so well integrated into his own single being, would wake
again into individuality and strain away from him. Indeed the whole
company of spirits was a strange quivering flux, criss-crossed by
ever-changing new patterns of individuality and communion. Individuals
coalesced with one another or broke apart to merge themselves in new
corporate beings, which might presently be once more disintegrated, or
engulfed in greater beings.

An electron within an atom, they say, has no distinct individuality at
all. It is a mere factor pervading the whole atom. So, equally, with
these disembodied individual spirits, dissolved in corporate beings.
But the electron may recover its individuality and leap free from the
atom, to join perhaps with some other atom and once more die from
individuality into a new corporate being. So also with these spirits.
Or again electrons may become links binding atoms together in larger
wholes of individuality. So also these spirits.

For instance, the revolutionary member of that crew which had died
when a moth died now woke once more into individuality through the
influence of other spirits of his temper. But so well had he been
merged in the corporate being of his crew that, far from breaking
away, he became the link by which the whole sevenfold spirit of that
crew found community with all those among the killed who had willed a
new world.

The individuals and corporate beings in this company of all the killed
seethed like bubbles on the surface of boiling water, appearing,
vanishing, merging, separating; or like the ever-shifting patterns of
wrinkles on the skin of heated milk.

But one at least among those killed, being of far finer temper than
the rest, had a different fate. Like all, she suffered annihilation of
her earthly self; but since, even in her earthly self, she had been so
little blinded by worldliness, the spirit which woke in her death
could pass easily and swiftly through all the strange forms of being
which most others must so laboriously climb.

She was a saint of the City. Born to luxury, but also to sincerity,
and schooled in the best temper of the old religion, she had early
broken with the easeful and gilded life of her own class. She looked
for friendliness with the poor. For years they had rejected her; but
in the end their hearts were won by her service and her need of them.
When the tyranny broke upon the City, she with modest daring, and the
formidable prestige of her integrity, had defended the persecuted and
rescued the hunted.

Eagerly she reached always outward in friendliness and service; yet
the source of all her warmth and strength lay in her inner life of
contemplation. She praised the spirit in such forms as were known to
her, in field and wood and sky, in human grace and the significance of
human words, but above all in human loving. Not for her the
subtleties, of the theologians, nor the equal subtleties of the
sceptics. For her the perception of love's divinity, and the steep and
excellent way.

When death destroyed her, then in virtue of her life's devotion the
spirit that awoke in her dying soared on strong wings; until she
seemed, she seemed, to be gathered up in exquisite communion with the
very God whom all her life had praised. But her true and ultimate fate
cannot yet fittingly be told.

This saint, alone among all the dead of that battle, sprang straight
to bliss; or if not she, then the being that in her dying woke and
struck free. Some few others, airmen, citizens and gunners, were
gathered quickly into the common being of some church or party or
other storied or passionate group. But most remained for long in
tumultuous intercourse with their fellow dead.

This merging and union among the spirits of the killed was never
painless. For although what drew the spirits into union was always
some deep identity of will, yet also, no sooner were they forced into
thorough and respiteless intimacy than in sudden revulsion they
strained apart.

Agonizingly the massed experience of all these lives was thrust upon
each spirit, so that at first their only wish was to avoid the
intolerable stress of conflicting opinions and desires. For among
these dead were young and old, men and women, masterful and
submissive, simple and sophisticated, rich and poor, knaves and heroes
and saints. Moreover there were the raiders and their enemies, the
attacking airmen and the citizens.

Not only were there antagonists from both sides of the battle, now
tortured to find their minds poured together and subtly interfused
with enemy minds, and their most sacred values spurned seemingly in
the very sanctuary of their own souls; not only so, but worse, for
there were many who, though on the same side of the battle, now with
horror discovered one another to be at heart poles asunder in temper
and ideals. For deeper far than the cleavage of the war was the
difference between those who rendered ultimate allegiance to the very
essence of spirit, to reason, love and creativity, and those whose
hearts were secretly given mainly to personal or tribal power or to
any other of the thousand phantasms that distract men. On both sides
of the battle many simple spirits were in a confused way sincerely
loyal to the light, and on both sides many were secretly wedded to
darkness. But in the City the miasma of tribal doctrine grievously
blinded even those who were for the spirit.

One thing alone, it seemed, the whole company of the spirits emergent
from the killed had in common. All were the issue of lives cut short
by violence. Unlike the members of a crew, no common purpose united
them. Only death, violent and untimely, held them together as a single
company.

But since all these beings, though hampered by the ignorances and
prejudices of their mortal progenitors, were beings of lucid nature,
their common tragedy of lives cut short was enough to form a stepping-
stone to full mutual insight. Little by little, through what seemed to
these spirits an age-long lifetime or remaking, though physically all
happened within the spell of that brief battle, community triumphed
over conflict. All came to appreciate under their many errors the
identical truth in all. Conflicts still perplexed them, but now only
as differences among friends united in trust, and pressing eagerly
toward full mutual insight.

Presently they cried out together, 'Had those poor mortals who
generated us been able to see into one another's hearts and minds as
we now see, strife would have been less Common on earth, happiness
less rare. But we, possessing fully our common inheritance of
experience, can create together a true fellowship of spirits, can be
translated, each one of us, into the richer, ampler being of our
union.'

But no sooner did they rise into this ecstasy of mutual insight than
all felt themselves reeling, swooning, into unconsciousness. For in
their communion they doomed themselves as individuals to extinction.
Together they became the parents, or perhaps rather the midwives, of a
single being. Each one of all this company died utterly, but his
experience was gathered up into a single, ampler spirit, in whom they
as conscious individuals had no part.

THE SPIRIT OF SOME WHO WERE KILLED

This spirit, who was born or who was wakened in the annihilation of
all the heterogeneous company of the killed, possessed the pasts of
all. He remembered, for instance, how a certain rear-gunner was kissed
by a certain moth. And he remembered the composite spirit of that
crew. He remembered through many brains the air-fleet's journey across
the sea, and equally the preparations of the citizens for defence. The
conflicts of will between citizens and attackers, between the young
and the old, the rich and the poor, the forward-looking and the
backward-yearning, he felt as conflicts between his own discordant
moods, in the days before his waking into clear self-knowledge.

For it seemed to him that during the lives of his many members he had
always been present in them all; though impotent, paralysed, sunk in a
vast and incoherent dream. Always his members were divided from one
another in location and in allegiance. And though in every one of them
he had sometimes drowsily awakened and assumed precarious rule, never
in those past lives had he, the loftier being, ruled for long.

'But I, I, what is it that I really am?' This question tormented him.
'If indeed I am no more than the spirit emergent in this night's
killed, how comes it that I was alive in them before ever they were
united in death? No! Though I possess the experience of this small
company alone, I am indeed far more than their emergent spirit. I am
that in all men which craves the light. Then why am I thus confined to
a small company, and they all dead? Surely I am far more than the
spirit of those few dead. I am the spirit of the dead of all lands and
ages, and it is I that am immanent in all the living also. Always, in
every generation since men first were men, I, I was the identical
spirit in them. Then how comes it that I know nothing but those few
ended lives?'

Through his experience of his dead members he now, chafing at the
limitations and disabilities of those few, tried to form a clear view
of the great world in which they had so briefly and so blindly lived.
For though each of them had his unique world-view, none saw far, all
saw crookedly. Vaguely therefore, the perplexed spirit of those killed
pieced together from his members' experience a fragmentary and
incoherent vision of the plight of mankind upon its little planet.

Vaguely he saw the nations summoning all their strength for war;
vaguely the slaughter, the hate, the fear, the universal hunger for
peace. And still more vaguely he was aware of the deeper crisis of our
age, the crumbling of the old world, the painful birth of the new.
Vaguely he saw that the perennial inner drama in each man's heart, the
battle between darkness and the light, was in this moment of mankind's
long life most crucial.

Surveying the fragmentary visions of his members, he was tormented by
their inconsistency and triviality, and tantalized by the veiled and
surmised features of high truth; so that he cried, 'Blind and
paralysed that I am, I must, must wake and be my whole self. I must
possess all men. I must know the whole truth about mankind. I must be
a power in all men's hearts. I must take action.'

Then suddenly the being who had emerged from those few killed mortals
was assailed by the overwhelming onset of a crowding host of
presences, by the individual minds of all who had been killed in this
long war, and in the last war, and in all wars in all ages, and all
who had died violent deaths in any way since man began, and all whose
end had come by disease or sheer old age. And when the myriads of the
dead had flooded upon him, there came at last the living, the two
thousand million, white and black, yellow and brown, living their
little various lives under the wide shadow of war. He knew them
inwardly through their own experience, but also outwardly through
their experience of each other. His consciousness widened to cover the
whole field of human mentality; as an exploding star spreads its
light-waves in an expanding sphere of illumination through the dark
surrounding nebula. The massed experience of all living persons in all
lands, fell upon him in an increasing cataract. But though he was
compelled to be present in all these minds, he his very self remained
distinct from them. They were voices sounding in his ears, not
experiences of his own. Seemingly for a lifetime, an aeon, the
cataract thundered upon him, while he battled to keep his identity
afloat; yet all happened within the instant.

Piecemeal visions of the whole terrestrial globe, seen through two
thousand millions pairs of eyes, inexorably assailed him; visions of
night and day, of dreamlands and waking life, of tropical jungles and
temperate champaigns and the planet's frozen extremities, visions of
plains and hills and storms at sea, of remote crofts and shacks and
homesteads, and of a thousand cities; visions of factory-work and
tillage, of miners at the coal face and hunters in the northern
forests, of company meetings and cathedral services; visions of war.

A babel of voices also resounded in his tortured mind, speaking in
many languages, all of which were perfectly familiar to him, voices of
American citizens discussing investments, of German gauleiters
enforcing discipline, of Indian peasants imploring food, of Russian
tractor-drivers, Chinese students, and all the kinds and races of
humanity. He heard inarticulate bellowings of hate, balanced sentences
of persuasion and discussion, whispered instructions passed from
soldier to soldier in ambush, and all the sweet and secret
communications of lovers. Their embraces also he poignantly felt, in
mansions and slums, on haystacks and in dark alleys. Through
innumerable hands he felt the soft curves of human limbs, the textures
of cloth and wood, and cold metal. Through a host of feet he felt the
surface of the earth, the hot desert, the snowfields, the city
pavements, the moors. Equally all the smells invaded him, of sweat and
roses, corpses and sea breezes, of the hot tarmac and the cold smoke-
laden fog, of spent explosives, dust, and blood and entrails. And all
the flavours of all the foods and drinks, relished in innumerable
mouths and swallowed down the world-population of gullets. He was
assailed also by those expulsions which take place every day in every
land, whether in immaculate closets or stinking latrines or behind
hedges or in the open desert. And those other, those honoured
expulsions too he felt, all the birth-pangs of that moment, of young
mothers torn and frightened, and mothers old and tired; births sealed
by death, and births easy as an animal's.

Not only the physical perceptions of all human sense-organs but also
the longings and fears and busy thoughts of all human minds were
forced upon him; their inveterate self-cherishing, their self-
sacrifice for ends great or petty, their myriad reasonings, in search
of profit or of divinity.

And with this he was aware of the corporate and tenuous spirits
emergent in all human associations, from the long-lived but nebulous
individualities of nations, churches, social classes, to the brief
ardent spirits of aircraft crews, of little ships, of party cells, and
the intense communions of lovers. He was confronted also with the one-
track minds emergent in innumerable special societies, in business
firms, professional associations, trade unions, philanthropic
associations, little chapels, churches, clubs, and the juvenile
spirits of schools and colleges, wrapped in their cocoons of tradition
or straining for new growth. The cosmopolitan, but in war-time sadly
disintegrated, mind emergent in all pioneering men of science in all
the warring lands was also present to him; and the thousand exploring
or merely repetitive mentalities of cultural cliques, 'movements',
religious fanaticisms, social policies:

The spirit of those killed was now confronted also with those rare and
holy individuals, like the City's dead saint, who through intensity of
contemplation and integrity of action had become more nearly pure
spirit than human individual. These he recognized as beings more lucid
than himself. He strained against them, recalcitrant to their
excellence; yet at the same time he longed to rise to them and include
their clearer nature within himself.

DEATH OF THE SPIRIT OF THE KILLED

Reeling with the impact of all this voluminous and inconsistent
experience, the being who had emerged from the killed in a certain
battle over a certain city was torn between the desperate need to
preserve his identity, and the longing to assimilate all this wealth
of experience, and find communion with all these diverse spirits,
individual and corporate. Exclusiveness and love struggled within him.
For, in contemplating all this host, how could he not feel for them a
deep compassion and kinship and yearning? But also, because they
threatened his individuality, they were repugnant to him. Again and
again he had to remind himself that fellowship and not self-cherishing
is the way to the larger life. At last, after how long a struggle, he
flung down all his defences and welcomed the invaders.

'All you great cloud of beings,' he cried, 'though we are separate,
surely also we are one. In our inmost being we are one. Under our
severalty and our idiosyncrasy, we are identical, we are Man.'

But no sooner had he passionately affirmed his unity with that host of
others, than a fog of darkness and of oblivion surged against him.
Struggling to retain consciousness, he felt himself disintegrating,
evaporating, under some powerful influence, as a dewdrop when the sun
devours it. Presently he, as an individual being, the transient spirit
that had emerged in those few killed, was extinguished. He died into
the great spirit of Man.

SECOND INTERLUDE

THE HEART OF IT

You! Most single and singular, whom I love best! Even you are in fact
immensely remote from me, you dear centre of an alien universe. Though
you are the most near of all things, you are also sometimes
perplexingly remote. Over how many decades have we been growing
together in a joyful, a life-giving, an indissoluble symbiosis! Yet
even now, sometimes I have no idea what you are feeling or thinking.
You are apt for action, I for contemplation; you for responding to the
minute particular that claims your service, I (Oh fatally) for the
universal and the far-flung. Although our minds do indeed most often
move in a common rhythm, like a close-dancing couple, yet sometimes we
are at arm's length, or we break step, or we fly apart, cleft by some
sudden discord. How many times have I said to you, 'Quick, there is a
train to catch', and you have answered, 'There is plenty of time'; or
I, 'Now we are too late', and you, 'The train may be later'. Even in
Hell you would be an optimist. But in the end, of course, through some
black magic which you are forced to use on such occasions, the train
is caught, and we sit together silent, waiting for it to start. Again
and again our diversity hurts, it even infuriates,' but it does not
really matter. Indeed in the end it is an enrichment, a painful but In
the end a welcome participation of each in the uniqueness of the other.

Even in that most sharp discordancy of all, did we not become more
real to one another? In the end we have grown together more closely.
We know one another the better for it; we love one another the better.
We are more intimately and indissolubly 'we.’

Of course each of us is still 'I,’ and the other is 'you,’ the far
centre of an alien universe,' but increasingly, and now
indestructibly, the two of us together are also 'we', the single,
though two-minded centre of a universe common to both of us. We see
the world together. No longer does each of us look at it merely in
solitariness, with single vision, seeing it as a flat picture. We
perceive it now in depth, stereoscopically. With our common binocular
vision each regards all things from our two alien viewpoints.

Our distinctness is as precious as our unity, and our unity as our
distinctness. Without deep harmony, in our roots and our flowers, how
could we hold together? But without our difference, how kindle one
another?

Nothing in my world is identical with anything in yours. Not a tree,
not a word, not a person. Is redness, even, to me just I what it is to
you? Probably it is much the same, for we are similar organisms; but
perhaps, (who knows?) your 'red' is what I call 'green'. What matter?
Such a difference would be eternally insignificant for us, since it
would be for ever indiscernible. But justice, beauty, truth and a good
joke have meanings that we can share with one another, and are
discovered to be never identical for the two of us. And though we have
friends in common, they are never quite the same persons. Though the
friends of each are the friends of both, yet also and inevitably the
friend, the lover, of one is the other's possible antagonist. These
our differences, that haunt us elusively at every turn, or step
suddenly forward and bar the way with fire, cannot without disaster be
ignored. Blind love is no love at all.

We are indeed for ever separate, for ever different, for ever in some
measure discordant; but with a discordancy ever more harmonized in the
'we' that is for each of us so much more than 'I' yes, and perhaps
even than 'you'. As centres of awareness we remain eternally
distinct... but in participation in our 'we', each 'I' wakens to be an
ampler, richer' I', whose treasure is not 'myself' but 'we'. And so
'I' without 'you' am a mere torn-off ragged thing, a half-blinded
crippled thing, a mere phantom whose embodiment is only in 'us'.

This precious 'we' that we have conceived together, this close-knit
unity in difference, this co-habitation and communion of two spirits,
will not for ever exfoliate on this planet. Soon or late, one or other
of us will die. Then 'we', no doubt, will live on for a while in the
survivor, as a cherished but a growthless thing. When both are dead,
it will vanish from this world. And then? Surely it is incredible that
'we' should have no further being.

Yes, but the incredible has often happened.

Dread, and to us inscrutable, are the dark ways of dark God.



CHAPTER III THE SPIRIT OF MAN SURVEYS HIS PAST


THE SPIRIT OF MAN AND HIS MEMBERS
THE CHILDHOOD OF MAN
EDEN AND THE FALL
THE AGE OF THE PROPHETS
THE FAILURE OF THE PROPHETS
THE MODERN AGE
DAWN OF A NEW FAITH
THE CLIMAX OF MAN'S DISEASE


THE SPIRIT OF MAN AND HIS MEMBERS

THAT essence which is indeed the universal spirit of Man, identical in
all human individuals, survived the extinction of the transient being
which had emerged in those few killed. Gravely he had watched those
men and women die. Feeling their pain and sorrow as in a way his own,
he yet held himself aloof from it; much as a man may feel the hurt of
a cut finger or a barked knuckle and yet carry on with his work.

The spirit of Man did not now for the first time wake. He had all the
while been awake and aware in all the two thousand million living
individuals that composed his living flesh; and equally in every
moment of mankind's long life-time he had been aware in the living
population of the world. And in all the tenuous and fragmentary

corporate beings, brief or lasting, that were emergent in human
associations, the age-old spirit of Man had always been aware. He knew
them not only as individual spirits distinct from himself but also as
though they were sentiments and ideas of his own mind; as a man may
know the interests and whims, the passions and high purposes, that
jostle one another within him.

The spirit of Man confronted the City's dead saint, and all the saints
of all lands. These appeared to him not as something alien and lofty
to which he could not attain, but as most truly and inwardly his very
self; though often they were confused by doctrines which he, wise with
all human wisdom, saw to be false. In spite of their errors, these
angelic beings were at heart indeed himself; the more so for their
inveterate yearning beyond him, beyond his mere humanity to some
spirit purer and more Godlike. For this yearning was his own. And in
the beatitude that these rare beings reached in seeming union with
their Gods, he too found bliss. But his was a dumb and uninterpreted
bliss. Not for him their little myths. To him their joy was rather a
foretaste of strange joy still to be found; but never, perhaps,
explained. For he knew well that the intelligence of no man, nor even
of the essential spirit of Man, could solve high mystery.

The spirit of Man, unlike that lesser, transient spirit emergent in
the killed of a certain battle, was not confused and nauseated by the
welter of human experience. Perceiving through all men's sense organs,
he fused without effort all their perceptions into a single orderly
perception. Thus, fingering the earth through swarms of little human
feet, and watching it through hosts of little human eyes, he felt and
saw his planet as a variegated sphere of lands and seas, of tropic,
temperate and arctic.

And from this globe, on which his multiple body was a sparse and
creeping vital dust, he now, as on many other occasions, looked
wonderingly outwards through men's eyes and telescopes to consider his
location and prospects among the planets, among the stars and
galaxies. 'When I am full-grown', he dreamed, 'and not the fledgeling
that I am, and not racked by the distemper which to-day distresses me,
perhaps--' But then the hugeness of the cosmos, beside the minuteness
of his own bodily instrument, silenced his imagination. 'I am so
little,' he murmured, 'so young, so ignorant and weak; and so
distorted by these fierce convulsions of my flesh. What part can such
as I play ever among the stars?'

A persistent eagerness for he knew not what, a restlessness to exert
some hidden potency that he could not yet conceive, impelled him again
and again to look outward at the stars, in a conflict of exaltation
and abasement. But in the main his interest was with his immediate
fortunes, and so with his little planet and all his tingling multiple
flesh, mankind. His flesh? In a way, yes, his multi-cellular flesh.
And yet his own unified awareness of his individual members was very
different from a man's obscure consciousness of his body's cells. For
he could at will concentrate his attention on anyone of those minute
personalities. They were for him at once persons into whose minds he
had access and also parts within his own physique and mentality. For
the personal lives of the great host of his members were fused into a
single epic theme, which was the groundwork of his own being.

For him the whole ocean of human experience, far from being a chaos,
formed a single clear though often self-conflicting pattern of his own
self-knowledge and knowledge of the world. To a man at sea-level the
waves may seem disorderly; but from an aeroplane he may observe that
they are in fact well-ordered ranks, a number of drilled processions
and regiments moving in many directions across each other's tracks,
inter-penetrating without losing their identity, reflected here and
there from bays and promontories and distant coasts, disturbing each
drop of the water with the summation of all their rhythms; but in some
regions one wave-train and in some another dominates the rest. So, but
with far greater complexity, the mental field composed of all human
individuals was seen and felt by the spirit of Man to be traversed by
many prevailing trends of thought and purpose, while ephemeral zephyrs
flurried now one region and now another of the human sea with fleeting
catspaws of passion and of fashion.

In respect, for example, of the many vocations of human beings the
great spirit of Man felt innumerable special modes of mentality
imposed by circumstance on the common human nature and the personal
idiosyncrasies of men and women. Peasants, though infinitely diverse,
were mainly peasant-minded, thrifty, patient, rich in country-lore;
and superstitious. Wage-slaves in industry mainly lived for their
brief hours of leisure. Like seedlings in barren ground their roots
were starved; yet many put forth poor gallant starveling blooms of
love. The minds of financiers were woven largely of figures and the
abstractions of the money-market. They were strangely obtuse to the
repercussions of their fiats ??on the lives of men and women. And yet
they too were personal spirits, capable of loving. In physicians'
minds awareness of the human body's intricacies and manifold disorders
bulked overwhelmingly. For sailors the world was mainly water; for
miners, tunnels.

There was one mode of experience which the spirit of Man felt as a
character of the whole field of human mentality, here faint and there
obtrusive, here obsessing the spotlight of consciousness, there a
secret but powerful influence in the unwitting depths of the
personality. All the little human creatures craved, frankly or under a
cloak of revulsion, intimate bodily contact with some other of their
kind, either in the normal union of the sexes or in some eccentric
manner. The importunacy of this hunger, though rigorously restrained
by convention, toned every feeling, every thought, of the spirit of
Man's individual members; toned also his own mentality, with an
Adonis-like self-delight, a sweet mysterious, bisexual, hermaphrodite,
sensual and spiritual passion, inconceivable to human individuals.
Thus the spirit of Man enjoyed the beauty of all well-grown men and
women, by perceiving them through the loving eyes of all their lovers.
Not only the spiritual communion but also the physical delight of all
lovers in one another was his treasure.

But in all this experience of beauty and of love, as in so much of his
experience, he was distressfully aware of a widespread malaise and
sickness in his flesh. The beauty of his members, exquisite here and
there, was for the most part marred, disfigured. Starvation, disease,
overstrain, and all kinds of disharmony with the world and with each
other, blighted most of them, and oppressed the spirit of Man himself
with the jaundice of his flesh. And so, he remembered, it had been for
many thousands of years.

In each of his members he, his very self, was ever the spirit that
craved understanding, wisdom, community, love, beauty and creativity;
but in nearly all the little human creatures, this spirit was
eternally frustrated by a pest of stupidities, hates, ugliness, and
all manner of betrayals. And everywhere there was fear; not only the
urgent fears of war but of death in every form, of incurable diseases,
of poverty, of disgrace, of the loss of the beloved. And all the self-
regarding fears of human beings were felt by the loftier being that
was Man, felt with full poignancy; yet also with detachment. For these
minute ephemeral beings, though indeed they were his flesh, were not
he, himself. Their unhealthiness was indeed oppressive to him, because
it was an unhealthiness in his own body lowering his vitality, and
confusing his mind; but the sorrows of those spirits were not in
themselves his sorrows. Though he experienced them from within, he
experienced them with detachment.

Yet, most strangely, this detachment was not the whole of his feeling
toward them. Just because they were all in their diverse ways persons,
self-aware and other-aware, his own mere self-concern in their joys
and pains was strangely mingled with the respect and compassion, yes
and the love, due between all personal beings, no matter how remote
from one another in the hierarchy of personality. A man cannot love
his little brain-cells, for he has no acquaintance with them, and they
are not persons; but the spirit of Man, knowing men inwardly, and
knowing them as persons, needs must love them with such love as is
their due. He loved them for being at once identical with himself and
other than himself; identical in their groping will for the light,
other in their littleness, their diversity, their frailty, and their
mortality.

Moreover they and he were bound together in a strange mutual
dependence. He, without them could have no footing in the world,
perhaps no being; and they without him, constantly active within them,
would be mere sub-human beasts. Without them, love would be for him
inconceivable, for only in their severalty could love be. Yet without
him in their hearts they could never love; for they could never be
truly aware of one another as spirits, and as inwardly united. Through
the unity of himself and his members, fellowship and even loving
mutual insight were rhythms which pervaded, though unsurely, the whole
human field. Only here and there, of course, did love blossom fully,
only among serene or lifelong lovers, and in the few inspired lovers
of mankind or of the very spirit of Man himself, or of some imagined
God.

Because of love's unfulfilment in his members, he himself was maimed,
paralysed by their discordancy, and confused by their conflicting
fantasies.

Particularly in this age of violence the spirit of Man was tormented
by the convulsions of his flesh. He was oppressively aware throughout
nearly all his peoples of the rending spasm and the harsh fatigue of
warfare. Only in the deepest jungle and in the snow-huts of the Arctic
were men wholly free from war's effects. Everywhere else the slaughter
and the fear and the strain weighed upon them, even if only as a vague
shadow cast upon a normal life. And to some the war brought a black-
out darkness of the spirit, though a darkness shot with flashes of
much-needed pleasure or the pale light of hoped-for dawn. Everywhere,
save among a few born warriors and a few strategists poring over the
chess-board of war, and among those who made profit out of the urgency
of war's needs, the spirit of Man felt the unison vibration of men's
yearning for peace; though most were also fearful of what peace might
bring. And in many great regions of the human field men, and women
also, were crushed and annihilated by war's fierce impact.

Though to his members the war was a prolonged gloom and misery, to him
it seemed a brief though violent contortion of his body, paralysing
his mind. He knew it as the climax of a long-suppressed disease. His
organs, long discordant, were now divided against themselves in crazy
conflict. And though he could not but will victory to the side which
was on the whole for the light, and not to the other side, which was
blindly astray, yet his sympathies were divided; for on both sides,
though in unequal extent, there were men and women who were
blunderingly obedient to his will; and on both sides were cancerous
and rebellious growths. And every day swarms of his individual
members, the precious cells of his flesh, the vessels and instruments
of his essential being, suffered destruction or hideous maiming.
Everywhere young minds, the only vehicle for a glorious change that
had seemed imminent in him, were being squandered. With this huge
killing of the young the tone of all his tissues must surely turn
predominantly old. And he himself, whose million years were but a
childhood, might well become in temper prematurely senile. Indeed, if
men's mutual destruction were not restrained, the race might destroy
itself, and he, the spirit of Man, who was still so juvenile, and full
of promise of great and glorious change, might prematurely end.

Glorious change! Cutting across all the pervading wave-trains and
local flurries of human mentality the spirit of Man felt two strong
conflicting wills in every region, in every mind. They thrust against
one another as opposing waves meet on a tormented lake with violent
pulse and throb of their conflicting rhythms. From one direction the
minds of men were all stirred by a yearning for the womb, for easy
bliss, for safety, for the familiar order with its known ills and
known opportunities. From the other they were moved by a longing for
new horizons and greater scope for their vitality, and by discontent
with the existing pattern of human life. Indignation fired them
because of the misery of their own lives or their fellows'. Here and
there they rose even to a passion for the flowering of the human
spirit, and therefore for a new-born world which alone could support
that flowering. He saw that, though this internecine conflict had
racked him always, now, in this tense moment, it was most severe, most
urgent. For in some way that was still dark to him this moment of his
life was felt as crucial. Something strange, unprecedented, dangerous,
was causing a new restlessness, a ferment, throughout his flesh. Was
this fever merely the climax of his familiar, long-suppressed disease,
or could it be the stress and tumult preluding some vast remaking,
some rebirth into a creature more subtle and more vital?

THE CHILDHOOD OF MAN

For so many centuries, for many centuries of millennia, the spirit of
Man had been toilfully, painfully clarifying his purpose. At first,
how slowly!

He looked back into the deep vista of his past. The historical and
prehistorical ages of humanity crowded his t memory. As a man may peer
back into his youth, and even into the mists of his infancy, so the
spirit of Man reviewed his life. Every phase of his whole past lay
open to him. And at the earliest point of all he saw the first of his
remembered ages knotted into the dark womb of his subhuman ancestry.
Out of that darkness he had sprung to life as a certain individual
fully human infant, a male child, the first true human being,
offspring of subhuman parents. By whatever mutation of genes he had
been created, there he was, the I. one bright individuality in a
certain almost human but still subhuman family, the one twinkling star
of half-lucidity in the dark world of the subhuman. And he himself was
in appearance scarcely distinguishable from his subhuman kin. Only in
his half-lucid spirit was he man.

In this forefather of us all the spirit of Man first breathed. And
well he remembered how In this his first germ cell he slowly wakened
and slowly discovered his uniqueness. For this father Adam of all
human beings had painfully to find himself. Loving his subhuman mother
for her animal affection, he loathed her for her obtuseness to his
human needs. Accepting his brothers and sisters for their
companionableness, he despised them for their stupidity. Soon, though
the youngest, he became the master of them all. And then in youth and
maturity he was the genius, the medicine man, the tyrant, of his
subhuman tribe. Timorous yet arrogant, revered but hated, maddened by
loneliness, without speech or the support of any human tradition, the
first true man was so hampered by his subhuman nurture that to the
spirit of Man, looking back on him from a future time, he seemed
scarcely human. Yet, though by upbringing a mere subman, ignorant,
inarticulate, bewildered, teased by his own unfulfilled humanity, he
was by native capacity fully human. A man by nature, but by nurture
almost a beast. He accepted the simple customs of the submen, and was
content to beat them at their own simple game. But the spirit of Man,
reviewing the first man's life, remembered occasions when, in
unfamiliar torment of self-consciousness, he had fluttered impotently,
mothlike, against the shut windows of his nature, and how, in his
dealings with companions and his sexual mate, he had craved what could
never be given, what he himself could never conceive, personal
awareness and true love.

How far, how very far, had the spirit of Man travelled, since he was
that Adam! Now, at least he knew clearly what his nature was. And that
knowledge, in spite of all his errors, was a constant light. Yes! But
his members? When he compared his present members with Adam, he saw
that by far the most of them were scarcely more lucid. There was a
certain rear-gunner, for instance, who, in spite of all the prophets
and philosophers through all the ages, knew scarcely better than the
first man what his nature needed. Of love he had little more
understanding than Adam in his subhuman world; of wisdom, in spite of
his smattering of science, rather less; and of creative action, less,
far less.

Among Adam's offspring some had been clear-minded like himself; and
among them, as comrades or incestuous mates, human loving had first
begun.

When at last that Father Adam had died, when the first truly human
self was annihilated, the spirit of Man had disengaged himself from
that ephemeral being, and wakened into clearer but still halting
insight into his own and Adam's nature; as, long afterwards, in the
death of a certain rear-gunner, a more lucid spirit had awakened.
Though still imprisoned within the limits of poor Adam's knowledge, he
was not enslaved, like Adam, to Adam's greeds and fears. And he was
sensitive to all the subtlest features of that bewildered mind's
experience, as Adam himself could never be. And so, already, though
darkly and without the winged vehicle of language, he felt, but could
not clearly conceive, that his main concern must ever be to know, to
love, to make.

The spirit of Man, peering back into the ages of his long infancy, saw
Adam's descendants slowly win mastery over their tribe of submen.

And always the first true men had lived mainly as submen, though
ruling those poor half-human cattle; and sometimes, teased by the
strange spark within them, men groped for more human living. How dark,
how fog-bound had been their minds! And yet, because these his first
members had been indeed part-lucid, like all subsequent men, and not
wholly unseeing like the submen, already the more sensitive among them
were obscurely loyal to him; already he was alive in them, a spark
disturbing them; but only with spasmodic intuitions, gleams of
understanding, flashes of mutual insight, only with passing miracles
of clear love, or wisdom, and short, precarious flights of divine
creating. Our earliest human forefathers were no less human inwardly
than men to-day, no less aware, intelligent, and apt for love; but
they lacked the long treasure of experience yet to be gathered and
scrutinized by the thousands of generations. And lacking this, they
lacked judgment and clear human purpose. And he too, the spirit of
Man, in his far-off infancy, lacked judgment; and though already his
purpose was the essential human purpose, it was imprecise, not
rigorously conceived, not even constant. For not yet, not in that
earliest age of man, could there be, even for the spirit of Man, any
clear vision of the way.

The millennia of his infancy succeeded one another as the weeks of a
child's life. His members multiplied. They spread into every land, a
sparse, percipient vital dust on Earth's vast skin. He remembered, as
his own hard-won prowess, how they learned and lost and learned again
the skills and lore that were the earliest human tradition. Above all
he savoured his memories of the first halting speech; recalling how,
out of familiar grunts and cries in familiar situations, significance
had slowly emerged. He remembered too, as his own most distinctive
strokes of insight, the acts of the early geniuses who had first used
stones as missiles or as hammers, first shaped a flint, first seized a
flaming brand from the bush-fire to tame and use the bright, biting
creature; first tamed a dog, a horse; first turned the rolled log into
a wheel. He remembered also how they had passed from continent to
continent, storm-driven in their canoes. It was he, his very self, too
(how he remembered it!), who, through the minds of early medicine men,
had first used marks as signs; and he who first led them to symbolize
their hungers; and their aspirations by drawings on cave walls and by
rhythmic incantations. And he had made them find in the growing
subtlety of gesture and of intonation, and later in dance and song, in
sculpture and painting, the means to quicken their consciousness of
self and other, and of the dread and lovely world. He again it was who
teased them with an itch for understanding; so that, in haste for
satisfaction, they childishly explained the universe in terms of their
own hunting lore or peasant wisdom.

In short it was he who had always (so at least it seemed to him) been
the lucid though often misguided spirit in them, forcing them to
conceive and then abandon illusion after illusion. Yes, it was he, the
spirit of Man, who had done all this; and yet he was nothing but his
little members themselves in their highest reach of percipience and
integrity, united as a single mind.

EDEN AND THE FALL

Ten thousand centuries after his birth from the womb of the subhuman,
in fact in the full bloom of his childhood, when generations of
hunters, fishers, pickers of wild fruits and herbs, and the nomadic
herdsmen, and finally the settled farmers, had played their parts in
weaving the long tapestry of early culture, then, ah then, there came
a happy age. The spirit of Man remembered how at that time he was a
small, clear, constant flame in every heart, fostered by a strong
though but half-conscious custom of reason and friendliness. Men lived
in Eden, and in innocence. War was not, and violence between man and
man was a private madness only. The families of hunters or herdsmen,
and the companies of communal farmers, were each unified by a common
purpose and by comradeship in work. Each family was a close-knit crew,
fretted no doubt with conflicts and jealousies, but rooted in mutual
acceptance; and far more deeply rooted than the ephemeral crew of ship
or aeroplane could ever be. And because of this wholesomeness of the
social tissue of mankind, this age was the bright phase which, ever
after, tradition would enshrine and glorify as the Golden Age. The
spirit of Man, looking back in perplexity from this tortuous age of
ours, reviewed in memory that long-past candour of his members, and
sighed. Crowning that bliss, came the first cities, each set in its
own wide cornland, and each the seed-plot of a new elegance and
subtlety of mind. And all was weaponless. And lords and kings were
only leaders among brothers. All men took care for all.

But presently, through the land-hunger of the swelling cities, and
their rivalry in splendour, empires had risen, knit by arms. And often
remote barbarian tribes, greedy for wealth and power, had overrun
whole civilizations. And all the while the hosts of little farms, once
worked by free comradely yeomen, were welded into great estates, where
gangs of slaves were forced to labour for the lords who owned them.

The spirit of Man, looking back on this phase in his childhood, saw
that this was the time of his first undoing. Some secret poison had
crept into his flesh to start the smouldering cancer that was to rack
him throughout his life. Before that age, men's greed had been
tempered by their unquestioned custom of brotherhood. Opportunities
for mastery had been slight, and censure powerful. But in the new
affluence of the cities, new dazzling prizes enticed men. And since
all men were spellbound by this glamour, censure of arrogance and
self-seeking lost its power; save among slaves, and what matter the
censure of slaves? And what authority, anyhow, the masters demanded,
was there for censure? Merely the dying prestige of the blind and
outworn custom of the tribal age that had passed. Now, new ambitions
charmed men. New moralities whispered plausibly in their hearts.
Wealth and military power and imperial majesty demanded the allegiance
of all men.

The spirit of Man remembered that even he himself had been misled by
the new specious values. For in the earlier, golden age his multiple
body had been a disorderly swarm of little tribes, but now it was
becoming orderly; and so it seemed to him that the order of the whole
was worth the sacrifice of some. For order promised new power to his
limbs. Organized into great states, and into heirarchies of social
classes, his multiple body (he believed) could develop new sensitive
organs and new creative skills. In the new cities some men, saved from
toil by the toiling masses, could give their whole minds to the
problems of the spirit, the problem of man's nature and his destiny.
And so it had seemed even to the spirit of Man himself that the new
order opened new reaches of the long way of life; even though hosts of
his individual members, born to be persons, were doomed by the new
order to become slaves, mere units of the great machine.

Remembering his folly, he cried, 'What fiend, what power of outer
darkness, was it that crept into every tissue of my flesh, and even
into my inmost self? Or what inherent weakness in me was it that then
undid me?'

He watched the hosts of labourers, their spirits maimed, tilling the
stubborn ground with inadequate tools, to keep the rich in affluence;
or being driven in gangs to carry great stones for the building of
temples for the priests, and palaces and tombs for the kings. In each
suffering individual slave of all these millions, generation upon
generation, the spirit of Man was himself present. He saw each child
denied its human birthright; its promise of human happiness broken by
toil and harshness. He was alive, too, in the minds of the privileged,
who should have become the peculiar instruments of his own awakening
mentality; but in them he found for the most part obsession with
luxury or personal glory, and dreams of immortality. He watched them
conceive a thousand myths of a life hereafter, and consecrate half
their energy and the labour of innumerable slaves to securing comfort
for themselves in the other world.

Reviewing those millennia of his late childhood, the spirit of Man saw
man's power constantly increase. Cities grew more splendid, empires
vaster, armies more cunningly equipped, handicrafts more apt and
lavish. But the cost was the sweat, and often the blood, of
innumerable slaves. And to the privileged it seemed natural and right
that this should be so, for the comradely custom of the ancient tribes
was forgotten. And though between lovers and between friends and in
working gangs love might often emerge, the steel threads that knit
society were no longer comradeship but power. And again, though the
brighter minds were stirred by curiosity about the secret nature of
the universe, they still assuaged that itch merely by fantasy, by
wishful fantasy. They could not yet see clearly what thinking was, nor
what the ceiling of its flight. Neither love nor reason was a constant
star to guide.

The spirit of Man recalled how, in that phase of his life, even he
himself had strayed from the way which in the Golden Age he had
already half-conceived. In this age of slaves and empires the sickness
of his flesh had clouded his wit and obscured his feeling. He was like
a man whose mind wanders in fever. And the new lure of power was one
of the dream visions that confused him. But now and then, here and
there, even in this dark phase, he had recovered lucidity; and in the
mind of some unheeded prophet or humble slave he had declared, though
vainly, some facet of the truth.

THE AGE OF THE PROPHETS

Shifting now the searchlight of his memory to the next movement of his
life, the spirit of Man recalled his sudden waking, as it were, from
childhood to adolescence.

Tormented by the distress of the swarming workers and the futility of
the privileged, and frightened at his own delirium, he, the spirit of
Man, had at last put forth the whole strength of his will to wake
again and more fully into such percipience as was possible to him, and
to wrestle as never before with the problem of his own nature, and of
his relation to his members and to the whole universe beyond him.

Through his recent centuries of sickness he had conceived health more
clearly. Through participation in a great evil he had more urgently
perceived the good. Of the follies that beset his members, some he
could easily avoid, others not. Never had he been tempted to suppose
that the triumph of one particular empire or potentate or noble caste
or priestly class or creed was in itself of any importance. As well
might a man be loyal to his right hand against his left. Nor did it
ever seem to him desirable or credible that little human individuals
should have eternal life. Too well he knew their littleness, their
triviality. Too often, indeed in every death, he himself had struck
free from the drowning individual spirit and watched it suffer
extinction. But in men's internecine struggles for power and empire he
saw the promise of world order, and for himself theocratic
dictatorship over all his flesh. Spellbound by this hope, he had
overlooked the degradation of his members in slavery. But never again,
no never again, would he persuade himself that in their degradation he
himself could thrive; or that, while the many suffered, his work could
be carried on by an unheeding few.

Something more was also borne in on him. Since all his little members,
though so minute and so crippled, were of stature personal, he
recognized that in permitting their degradation he had not only harmed
his own flesh and dulled his own mentality; he had sinned. And this
recognition of his sin had been a new and terrible and enlightening
experience for the spirit of Man. He discovered that, in some way not
yet clear to him, he was under obligation to respect and foster the
life of personal spirits of whatever order. With shame and remorse he
confessed to himself, 'Even if slavery and empire had indeed been the
way for my advancement, yet I ought to have rejected them. In
accepting them I sinned against something deep within me that was at
once my essential self yet also somehow far greater than myself.'

In mental agony he cried, 'I, the spirit of Man, have sinned against
the Spirit'. And in that spontaneous cry he recognized for the first
time that he, even he, the spirit of Man, was not a law unto himself,
not the ultimate rightful arbiter of his own conduct, not the measure
of all things. But what power, what divinity, could it be that thus
mastered him?

Looking back to that dread discovery, and that unanswered question,
after thousands of years had passed, he remembered well how, when he
had suffered this half-enlightenment, he had gazed outward from his
planet, through the eyes of Egyptians, Babylonians, Indians, and the
remote Chinese, and the isolated, and still savage Americans. Through
these scattered human eyes he had contemplated the joined hemispheres
of night and day. Of the true nature of sun and stars he still knew
nothing, but knew that he knew nothing. He knew neither that they were
mere balls of fire, nor that they were immense, and engulfed in
inconceivable immensity. But in the passion of his repentance it
seemed to him that the surrounding dark-bright sphere was alive, was
spirit like himself, but greater; and that all its luminaries were
flashing eyes, and angry. .

Looking back from our latter day across the gulf of centuries the
spirit of Man tasted once more the bitter blood-guilt of his youthful
sin, and seemed to see once more the flashing anger of the heavens.
And yet surely that sin was expiated. For had he not inwardly lived
through and suffered, generation after generation, all the sorrows of
the downtrodden? And had not compassion tormented him?

In his childhood's remorse he had wondered what he could do to wipe
out his sin, to overthrow the tyranny that he had permitted, and
thereby to heal his sickly flesh and purge his erring will.

At last with innocent hopefulness he had resolved upon a twofold plan.
Strengthening his own will with earnest contemplation, and searching
with new insight and reverence the groping spirits of his saints, he
would more forcibly than ever make his presence felt in the minds of
all men and women. And also he would choose out some, the most aware
of all his members, to be peculiar vessels of the light. These should
become self-consecrated instruments of his new chastened purpose. They
should influence all men, both humble and powerful, like master cells
controlling the growth of tissues. They should so work upon men's
minds that all men would henceforth gladly dedicate themselves to the
great cause that he and they together served. And so tyranny would be
forsworn. Thus the cancerous tumours that were destroying his flesh
would melt away, and his flesh would be once more wholesome.

This plan he had vigorously executed. With redoubled strength, born of
his new passion, he had stirred the minds of all men and women in
every land, so that all yearned, though still obscurely, for new life.
At the same time he had chosen out his prophets, the many lesser and
the few great, to explore the truth, and to preach it. Thus was it
that within a span of a few centuries the leading peoples had
conceived those high visions which were to hold all men till the age
that we call modern.

Looking back at that time of youthful hope across the centuries of
disillusion, the spirit of Man smiled and sighed. To suppose that so
easily the enemy could be defeated, the fiend exorcized!

But it had been a gallant venture. In land after land prophet after
prophet had preached some partial aspect of the truth. And the hearts
of the peoples took fire. The prophets had spoken each in the language
of his own people, and they had shaped their message according to the
concepts of their age. And so, even in their own minds, the truth that
each had felt was shot through with error. Accepting the old gods and
the old taboos, they strove to purify them in the light of the flame
which the spirit of Man had kindled in them. But, being creatures of
their age, they could not abandon the old images wholly to the flame.

In the East a young man of royal birth, shielded from the truth by
luxury and pomp, went out to find how the common people lived. Penury,
disease and sorrow everywhere confronted him. And all men were
enslaved to their distresses, as he himself had been enslaved to his
pleasures and his royal style. Neither in personal triumph, he
discovered, nor in the frustration of cherished desires could men find
peace. The spirit of Man moved him to consecrate his life wholly to
seeking out the way of peace, the way of reality, for his fellow
mortals. Forswearing for ever the pleasures and I glories of the
favoured individual triumphing in the world, this prophet set out to
free himself wholly from desire, save the one desire, to surrender his
will and destroy his individual self utterly and be dissipated into
the spirit not of man merely but of the cosmos. For the individual
selves of men, with their enthralling pleasures and their torturing
woes seemed to him to be phantoms only, moments of the universal
sprit, real-seeming to themselves merely because of their strange
isolation and privation from the universal. To find his reality in the
whole, a man must deny himself utterly, must kill his individuality.
So long as he remained in the world, he must use himself wholly in
service of his fellows; yet even toward them he must remain always
detached, caring at heart only that he and they should travel along
their destined ways toward the ultimate dissolution of their finite
selves in the universal Spirit.

Other great prophets in the East described more minutely the Way by
which alone men might hope to escape from their littleness and their
enslavement, the Way of reasonableness, forbearance, mutual respect
and self-detachment.

But in the West another, apostle of truth, lover of wisdom, strove
above all to clarify men's thinking, by patient questioning; and to
show that the way of reason also must lead a man to stand outside
himself, and see himself wholly as one among his fellow mortals. He
affirmed that to favour oneself against another was to be false to
reason, and that the right goal for each man was to express the
essential spirit of Man in the integrity of his own life.

Another, between East and West, schooled in his people's vision of the
one almighty creator, the law-giver, the just and jealous God, most
high, most dread and holy, found in his own heart-searching another
and a nobler gospel. He saw that all his fellows were deep in sin.
They lied and cheated and drove hard bargains. They were heartless
toward one another. And above all the rich used their power not to
free the poor from poverty but to keep them enslaved. All, all, in a
thousand ways, sinned constantly against the spirit. And yet also they
loved. And love was their salvation. The prophet in his own daily
living had found that in fact men were inevitably members one of
another, and that only in mutual insight and friendship could they
fulfil themselves. For in love, in which each self-regard is
restrained for the other's sake, each spirit finds also self-increase
through joy in the other; and in the community of the lovers love
itself is greater than either.

Long ago the lonely Adam of our species had hungered blindly, vainly,
for human companionship. Since then, throughout the generations the
human creatures had tasted friendship, love, comradeship in work; but
without clear perception of its excellence. At last this great
prophet, a chosen instrument of the spirit of Man, and supreme lover
of his fellows, saw clearly that in this relationship of mutual
awareness and cherishing between persons individual human creatures
were transformed, dissolved and remade to a finer pattern, and indeed
possessed by something greater than themselves. And he affirmed, using
inevitably the thought-forms of his people, that this glory residing
in the communion of human spirits was in fact God, all-loving, all-
knowing and almighty. And because this prophet was indeed inspired by
the spirit of Man, and raised above his fellow mortals in the power of
love, and because in his day his people were expecting a great leader,
he believed that he himself, the Son of Man, was also the unique Son
of God, and that he himself must be the leader, not of that people
only but of all mankind. And because the spirit of Man, resident in
all men's hearts willed to expiate his own former sin by bearing all
men's suffering, the prophet believed that he, the Son of Man, who
conceived himself to be also the Son of God the Almighty Lover, was
sent by his divine father to die for men's salvation.

Other prophets also there had been, great and small, in every
inhabited land. Stung by the quickening presence of the spirit of Man
within them, but confused by the desires and fantasies of those early
cultures, all these prophets had roused men somewhat, yet also
entangled them in further fantasies. Always the heart of truth that
fired them was the same, the excellence of wisdom, love and creative
action. But some preached one aspect and some preached others, and all
their gospels were distorted by the longing of individual human beings
for immortality for their little selves.

THE FAILURE OF THE PROPHETS

The spirit of Man, looking back across two millennia, and more, to the
few centuries of his great venture with the prophets, sighed and
smiled. How he had strained with all his strength to quicken his
ailing flesh! And for a while, first here, then there, he had
succeeded. One people after another, one great limb of his multiple
body after another, had been stirred by the quickening current of a
great idea. In land after land an inspired and disciplined few had set
all men an example of life in service of the spirit. For a while his
whole body seemed to be reviving. But the poison still remained in all
his tissues, not easily to be overcome. For the very structure of his
flesh, the pattern of men's social relations, had been too long
distorted by the disease. The form of society, the organization of men
in hierarchies of social classes, was itself largely a product of the
poison, so that its structure favoured the disease rather than health.
How clearly he now saw it!

True, under the influence of the prophets new social forms and new
ways of living were here and there attempted. Men grouped themselves
into churches or retired from the world into monasteries, or became
solitary hermits, seeking salvation for their individual spirits, or
dedicating themselves in selfless adoration to the God whom the
prophet of their people had proclaimed to them. Here and there, some
few even set out bravely to change the evil forms of men's
relationships and found a society that could indeed express the spirit
in daily living. But the ancient hierarchies, both social and
ecclesiastical, remained powerful. True, century by century the new
healthy but tender social tissues proliferated; until at last some
became powerful organs. Here and there they even overmastered the
ancient order. But the greater they became the more they themselves
were infected by the inveterate poison. For the rising tide of
spiritual energy which had carried forward the prophets and their
first devoted disciples, was not powerful enough to undermine the
strongholds of the enemy; and presently the tide began to ebb, leaving
behind it a desiccated wrack of institutions which formerly had been
the living instruments of the great revival. The spirit of Man
remembered how he had struggled with failing strength to stimulate his
members once more while they were already coming to terms with the old
bad order. He had struggled in vain. Here and there, now and again,
throughout the centuries, the smouldering fire had sprung once more
into flame. Some prophet had arisen, some new movement had started in
the hearts of men, inspired either by a passing recovery of the old
fervour or by a revulsion against new baseness. But soon the flame
died down; the new institutions were assimilated to the old. The new
organs were poisoned.

Again and again, century after century, in land after land there was
some resurgence of the spirit; but with ever-decreasing power. These
revivals were but the rearguard waves counter-attacking for the
retreating tide.

The spirit of Man, looking back at this time from the age that we call
modern, swept the searching beam of his memory over the whole of this
period in which, though spiritual passion was mainly ebbing, material
power was increasing. Through all that time the great mass of his
little members were in fact, though not in theory, slaves. Without the
toil of the many neither the luxury of the few nor the structure of
society itself could exist. Occasionally some group of the workers,
savage with adversity, would dare to rebel. But immediately the whole
power of society would be brought against them; and either by violence
or by the tyranny of the established myths working in their own
clouded minds, the bewildered commonalty would be quelled.

Yet all the while the fortunate were becoming on the whole more
prosperous, and even more refined.

As a sick man may remember the wanderings of his own sick mind, so the
spirit of Man remembered his faintness and his mental confusion at
that time. He remembered too how he had once more gathered his
strength for a new kind of attempt to purge his ailing flesh of
poison. His members had become more and more spellbound by the
established ways of life and of thought. They judged everything by the
authority of some ancient prophet, as revealed to them in some
distorting scripture or the falsified tradition of some priesthood. By
now all such authority, though vital formerly, had everywhere become a
support for the old bad forms of life.

The spirit of Man therefore determined so to strengthen the
individuality of his members that they would question all authority.
They should become more aware of their own personality and less
servile to the group. So he set about firing them with a new hunger
for fulness of individual life, not hereafter but here on earth.

In the West, quickened by him, they now saw with new eyes, heard with
new ears, and relished their world exquisitely. He inspired them, too,
with a passion to inquire into the hidden nature of things. Under the
renewed influence of that ancient people whose prophets had cared most
for wisdom, they now conceived a new loyalty to clear reasoning, a new
desire for sincerity in all thinking. By stirring them thus the spirit
of Man intended to show them that this road also, like the road of
love, which had proved too difficult for them, must, if followed
faithfully, lead them out of the prison of self-absorption, and free
them to seek the one true goal, the fulfilment of mankind in wisdom,
love and creativity.

He believed that little by little their new learning would strip away
from their minds all the childish and wishful fantasies of personal
immortality which had so long ensnared them into endless efforts to
secure, by faith or ritual or conventional good works, happiness for
their too cherished individual spirits after death. At last, he hoped,
they would be forced to recognize their littleness; and then, bereft
of heir dream of immortality, deprived of their 'souls', they would
find their only true salvation in joyful corporate living with their
fellow mortals. They would at last consecrate themselves without
reserve, as he himself had done, to the fulfilling of the spirit in
Man.

Re hoped, moreover, that in another way also the loss of their
delusions would free them. For these fantasies of an after-life were
the opium by which the rulers had spell-bound the common people in all
lands, promising them happiness hereafter if they would be obedient to
church and state; and, if they rebelled, damnation. Deprived of this
drug, they would surely no longer acquiesce in tyranny.

It had seemed to the spirit of Man also that the vast powers promised
to his members by science, their new magic, would enable the rulers at
last to free the enslaved masses from the necessity of toil. No longer
would there be any need at all, he told himself, for the many to be
hungry, sickly, ignorant and scarcely human, in order that the few
might have the leisure and affluence for carrying on the great
adventure of Man. For surely, by the wise use of this new magic, men
would speedily abolish hunger, sickness, ignorance and all those
natural ills that hitherto prevented men from being fully human.

So he had planned, but the issue was very different from his
expectation.

True, in the region where his recent inspiration had been strongest,
some of the more intelligent or the least enslaved to the old
fantasies, or to the craving for personal power, had indeed done as he
had intended. With a new zest for understanding they had set about
exploring the mysteries of nature, the movements of planets and stars
and falling stones, the impact of chemical substances on one another,
the workings of the human body and the secret of its relationship to
the mind. Some of them conceived the body as a machine controlled by
the soul; but later as a machine self-regulated, with mind as a mere
consequence of its activity. The soul was by more and more of them
dismissed as an unnecessary hypothesis.

The spirit of Man was surprised and rather amused by their thorough
divorcing of matter and mind, and their belief that matter alone was
fully real; but he was on the whole well satisfied, for now surely,
weaned from fantasies of immortality, they would be less distracted
from their proper goal.

But things happened otherwise. Their whole morality had been
sanctioned, falsely, by the prospect of reward and punishment
hereafter, in eternal bliss or eternal damnation. And so, when they
could no longer believe themselves immortal, they were disinclined to
burden themselves with righteousness. Slowly but surely the fibres
which bound men together in mutual responsibility began to be corroded
and broken.

There had been one, however, God-intoxicated like the ancient
prophets, but brought to God by the path of intellect, who ill his own
life and teaching expressed but also distorted the inspiration of the
spirit of Man. He conceived the Whole I as alone fully real, and as
both spirit and matter. And the r Whole for him was God. The little
human creatures he saw as phantoms, abstractions from the indissoluble
reality of the Whole. Their self-will, he declared, sprang from their
blindness to the Whole, to the inexpressible beauty of the Whole. He
himself was possessed by a passion of self-oblivious righteousness
through his devotion to the Whole; and he preached to his troubled
fellow mortals that they should seek salvation by rising beyond their
individuality and their self-love, to conceive the intellectual love
of God.

The spirit of Man had been pleased with this philosopher-prophet.
Surely men must now see that not only the gospel of love, which they
accepted and constantly betrayed, but also sheer reason demanded that
they should rise above the pettiness of self-regard, and live in self-
transcending community.

Very few of his members were persuaded. The triumph of reason among
them took a different turn from that which the spirit of Man had
intended. They had won their new magic of physical science by
analysing things into their component parts and studying the behaviour
of the parts. Now, therefore, those few among them who cared to think
about these mysteries, hoping to understand and control human nature
as they understood and controlled the behaviour of matter, set about
analysing man. And they were persuaded that a man was indeed a
mechanism of appetite and repulsion and calculating self-interest,
which itself was an expression of the massed activity of minute
physical units. All love, they affirmed, was at heart physical lust,
and all idealism self-deception. Right and wrong were fantasies. The
only intelligent course for a man was the calculated gratification of
whatever cravings impelled him. Few of the little human creatures
behaved frankly according to this principle, but its hold upon them
steadily increased.

THE MODERN AGE

Meanwhile men had begun in earnest to use their new magic for changing
the whole condition of human living; but not in the manner that the
spirit of Man had intended. A few devoted pioneers did indeed work
according to his inspiration. Hoping simply to open the way for
mankind's fuller living, they invented innumerable devices for
clothing men better, housing them more comfortably, feeding them more
amply, and for ridding them of sickness, and of slavery to toil. They
won power from the stored energies of the primeval forests. They
harnessed steam for the transmission of that power to their machines.
From the strange little magic that the ancients had known in amber
they developed a mightier magic for their telegraph, telephone, radio
and all our thousand electrical ingenuities. With their new rapid
transport and communication they brought the ends of the earth
together; so that, as never before, the fortunes of men in one land
affected the inhabitants of every land.

This material progress had at first delighted the spirit of Man.
'Soon, soon,' he had cried, 'with increased nourishment my whole flesh
will be healthy; with increased understanding of one another and their
common world the peoples will feel themselves akin, and the rival
classes will be bound together in mutual insight and comradeship.'

But very soon it was clear that this was not to happen. The
application of science had begun in the fortunate lands where science
itself had first begun. It was controlled not by the will of mankind
as a whole but by individuals seeking private profit. And so, in order
that the machines might be fed and profits piled up, men and women,
and children also, were forced to live as cattle, and as uncared-for
cattle. Their lives were wholly occupied with toil, with hunger, with
fear of their masters, and with such soiled impoverished love as they
could snatch. Their limbs and brains, at birth as human as any
other's, were crushed by evil conditions down into subhumanity.
Meanwhile the craftsmen, heirs of ancient skills, were ousted by the
machines, to be ground henceforth between the millstones of starvation
and lethal toil. The upshot in those pioneering lands was not, as the
spirit of Man had intended, fuller life for all men. Instead, wherever
the new magic spread, there was for the workers degradation of body
and of mind, and for the few fortunate, power and luxury such as kings
and princes had never known.

The spirit of Man had watched the new magic spread its dire effects
over all the world. Little by little its new cheap swarming products
were carried into every land, and country after country became a
workshop for making even more of them. Everywhere the traditional ways
of life began to fade, or retreated into the few remaining fastnesses,
like snow in spring-time, retreating into the mountains. The' old
cultures loosened their grip on men's minds. The prestige of money and
personal power and speed and machinery and machine-made luxury ousted
the ancient values.

Meanwhile the workshops of the world competed with one another. And
because the peoples, though their need was great, lived mostly in
penury, and had little money for purchasing, there were more goods
than could be sold. And so profits failed, factories closed, workers
were dismissed into deeper penury. And so less goods than ever could
be bought, and the whole mad world that the new magic had made circled
and spiralled towards disaster, like a spinning-top when its energy is
spent.

One method alone seemed able to whip the flagging top into new life.
The states, already desperately competing for markets and commercial
empires, must pay the industrial masters to arm them ever more
heavily. Then factories would open again and workers be once more paid
wages. This was accordingly done. To the spirit of Man it soon became
clear that, since the jealous states lived in constant dread of one
another's armaments, any spark would be enough to touch off those vast
explosives in apocalyptic war. And then his multiple body would be
hideously torn and tortured, and he himself, the constant and lucid
spirit in all men, might well be engulfed in delirium, might even be
for ever annihilated.

Once more his plans had been utterly defeated, whether by some innate
weakness in the little cells of his flesh or by some alien power that
had sown poison and inveterate disease in him far back in his
childhood.

He could no longer hope for success by merely trying once more to
revitalize his members by making his presence in them felt more
powerfully. A few here and there might respond, but the mass of them
were by now too deeply diseased for heroic love, or heroic reason, or
heroic righteousness.

Fainting under the toxic influence of his disease, yet stung into
desperate vitality by the prospect of still more cruel disaster, the
spirit of Man earnestly searched for some device by which he might yet
save himself.

Clearly the disease was kept in being against all his efforts by the
poisoned and deformed tradition and social structure which moulded all
men's behaviour and crippled all their spirits. But how could he
prevail upon his members to change the whole form of their society if
their minds were no longer vital enough to take mass action for the
sake of righteousness? Anxiously debating with himself, he wondered
whether, if not love, nor reason, then perhaps hate and cold self-
interest could rouse men to destroy the vampire that sucked the blood
of all, the cancer that was annexing to its own corpulent and hideous
flesh the energies of his multiple body.

DAWN OF A NEW FAITH

The spirit of Man set out to stir the minds of the oppressed with
indignation against the money power that gripped them. He also chose
out forerunning prophets to expose the folly of measuring human worth
in terms of money, and allowing the blind movements of money to
control the fate of human beings. And then he swayed them with a
prophet of a new kind, one who could speak in the language of science,
one who regarded men in their massed behaviour as simply economic
animals, one who concealed his rage against all oppressors under a
manner of studied objectivity. Inspired by the spirit of Man, but,
like all the prophets, confused by his own idiosyncrasy and his own
fortune, the new prophet conceived his own pattern of truth and error.
He affirmed that the whole life of mankind was a predictable causal
sequence; that the rise and fall of peoples and social classes, the
incidence of wars and revolutions, the sway of religions and all
ideals over the minds of men, were the summed efforts of men's
economic motives and their economic environment. He declared,
moreover, that all history was the story of the struggle of rival
social classes for power; that the present master class had now
fulfilled its function as the pioneer of mechanism; that the modes of
economic production upheld by them were now quite inadequate and
already breaking up; that circumstances were forcing men to set up a
planned economy controlled by the workers; and that the workers, long
repressed, must now of necessity burst their chains, overthrow the
masters, and establish a new world-order, planned through and through
for human welfare.

While the spirit of Man was watching the slow spread of the new
gospel, the expected war seized mankind. And under the stress of war
the old order was so strained that in one great region of the world it
broke. Another prophet had arisen, a believer in the new faith, a man
apt in resolute action, and impelled (so at first it seemed to the
spirit of Man) chiefly by righteous hate against the rulers for
killing his brother and oppressing the whole people. The prophet's
followers, an inspired and self-disciplined few, set the people a high
example of self-dedication, and won their allegiance. In a sudden
storm the old order based on money was in this land quite destroyed,
and a new order was founded.

With wild hope, but also with misgiving, the spirit of Man had watched
the birth-throes of this new society. For in all his lifetime there
had been no event like this. Never before had a great idea not merely
won men's hearts but embodied itself successfully in a new kind of
social structure over half a continent. Could this great event be
indeed the beginning of his body's return to health? The statesman-
prophet and his followers defended their new society with fierce
devotion. They did not shrink from destroying many thousands of human
beings who were hostile to the revolution. Little by little the
seedling that they had precariously planted struck firm roots. The new
state grew strong.

The spirit of Man, remembering the failure of his ancient prophet of
love, now laughed at his own youthful simplicity. 'My sickness', he
said, 'had gone too far to be cured by noble feelings and gentle
words, and even by the martyrdom of a great prophet. Not by the slow
spread of love from heart to heart could men's poisoned associations
be changed but only by a sudden explosion of rage disciplined under
cold intellect, only by a great act of violence in a scientifically
conceived and executed revolution. Nothing but the surgeon's knife
could save me.'

But even as he made this affirmation a chill crept over him. For his
nature, after all, was love, not hate. And not in ruthless discipline
but only in the glad and free self-expression of all his members could
the spirit of Man properly thrive.

He brooded more intently on the great event, and peered more closely
into the minds of the prophet and his followers. Presently he
recognized that, after all, the real motive that had launched the
revolution and defended the new state had been not merely hate of the
oppressor but the new passion of comradeship among the oppressed; who
for the sake of their fellow workers, their wives, husbands, children
and sweethearts, had given themselves in the common cause. The
prophet-statesman himself, though stung to hate, was moved first and
most constantly by love, by love of his murdered brother and of the
oppressed workers. The whole vast revolution, which had seemed at
first the expression of sheer hate, was in fact a mighty gesture of
outraged love, and worthy of love's great prophet himself, who long
ago had died to save men.

Very strange it seemed to the spirit of Man that this should be so.
'Despairing of love', he said, 'I tried to move my members by the
force of sheer primitive rage and hate, yet after all it is love that
has moved them and stung them to this hate.' But when he considered
how rebels and recalcitrants had been shot, or exiled and slave-driven
to death, how critics had been silenced, witnesses intimidated, and
accused men browbeaten into false confession, and above all how the
minds of the young had been drilled into acceptance of the new gospel,
the chill of doubt returned. He reminded himself that, if the
revolutionaries had not been ruthless in defence of the new state, it
would certainly have been destroyed, and that the founding of this new
people's state had been by far the most hopeful thing in the modern
world. But also he remembered that his members, though minute and so
misshapen, were none the less persons, and that even the defenders of
the revolution ought to treat even the enemies of the revolution
always as persons, never as mere vermin.

Meanwhile the men of money and all their followers throughout the
world had done their utmost to destroy the revolutionary state. And
many sincere believers in the gospel of love, outraged by the violence
of the revolutionaries, had sided with money against the new order.

Presently in the more distressed of the money-states themselves the
minds of men began to assume a new temper, a blind rage against the
disastrous power of money, and against the falsity of the commercial
mind. The spirit of Man saw that he himself was partly responsible for
this blind rage, for he had done his utmost to infuriate men against
the old order. But he had not seen where mere blind rage would lead
them.

THE CLIMAX OF MAN'S DISEASE

A false prophet, born of this exasperation, but willing to use the
power of the old order for his own ambitious aims, began to cast his
spell over a great and distressed people. In him the true fire of the
spirit was subtly blended with heats of personal resentment against a
society that had scorned him. With passion he felt that individual men
and women should be instruments for the expression of something
deeper, greater, than themselves; but his impoverished and crooked
heart could not conceive that thing save in terms of his own warped
nature. And his warped truth was the very gospel that his tormented
people craved. They had been defeated in war; he promised them world-
conquest. They were deeply unsure of themselves; he told them they
were by nature the supreme race whom all others ought to obey. They
had suffered grievously through the breakdown of their money-bound
society; he exorcised the spell of money, and promised them security,
prosperity, plenitude of wealth. They had been paralysed by
unemployment; he set industry going again by directing it to the
making of weapons. They had been emasculated by the evaporation of all
ideals; he gave them a thing to live and die for, the mystic race, of
which, he said, all men of the true blood were vessels. They had been
sickened by decades of licentious self-seeking; he commanded them to
abandon individuality and conform in thought and feeling and conduct
wholly to the pattern set them by the race, through its supreme
mouthpiece, himself. They had learned to despise the cult of logic-
chopping reason; he exhorted?? them to think with the blood. They had
been embittered by the cant of the enfeebled religion of love; he
preached not love but hate, not gentleness but might and cruelty.

The spirit of Man had watched this great people clutch in their
despair at the phantoms which the false prophet evoked for their
undoing. He watched the young men, the young women, become intoxicated
alike by what was true and what was false in this savage gospel. He
was present in every young mind that tortured itself willingly away
from the natural flowering of its personality, so as to live according
to the crazy precepts of the false prophet's false religion. He
watched the massed thousands, uniformed, marching behind their flaming
banners; the children carefully hardened to brutality by bullying, and
prepared for torturing men by being encouraged to torment cats and
dogs. He felt the precious individual cells of his multiple flesh,
that were so much more than cells, since they were capable of
personality, denatured by the poison; so that henceforth a whole
generation of them must constitute a tumour in his body until death
should remove them.

Not only in this great people but in others also the poison had
conquered. And indeed in every people throughout the world it was at
work, here as a suppressed but chronic disease, there threatening
disaster. With grief and despair the spirit of Man recognized that
even among those newborn peoples where the true revolution had
triumphed and founded the new order, the poison was still obscurely at
work, though restrained by the influence of the new social order.

At last, when the false prophet had fully armed his people, he had
struck with all his force, helped by formidable allies, at those
peoples where the enfeebled powers of money ruled, and the
disheartened followers of the true spirit were paralysed with their
own past failures. Once more the whole human race was thrown into
convulsion. It had seemed to the spirit of Man in the first phase of
this paroxysm that the issue might well be fatal, that he who had
survived a million years might now, though still in early youth, be
destroyed. For though mankind, his flesh, would surely recover even
from this greatest war, he, the spirit of Man, might well be killed.
And then his animal body, tempered no longer by its soul of
intelligence and love, would live on mechanically, until some later
and more crazy war should finally destroy it.

THIRD INTERLUDE

WINDOWS

Strange how your eyes reveal you!

Some spirits are best made known through brow or lips, or the
chiselling of the nose, or the head's carriage, or the hand's
proportions, or the gait and rhythm of the whole body. But you stand
always at the open windows of your eyes, looking at people passing in
that thronged street, the world. Intent and self-oblivious, you do not
peep through curtains; you lean frankly forward on the sill, where
all, can see you, in the sunlight. (Or is that brightness all your
own?) Every passer-by can see you, but one who has watched for decades
sees you best.

But eyes? How can those globes of gristle, those camera lenses, speak
the soul? They were not made for communication, but just for watching.
Ancestral women watched the flying spindle, and the potter's wheel.
Ancestral men aimed the flint arrow. Ancestral beasts looked for hand-
holds on the trees, judged the ripeness of the golden fruit, caught
with the eye's mere corner the tell-tale movement of long grass, or
gauged the leap. And much longer ago, long before colour dawned in any
mind, ages before even shape was clearly seen, far lowlier creatures,
eyed only with blisters on light-sensitive skin, groped their way. And
earlier still the wholly-eyeless vaguely felt the contrast of light
and shade falling on the body's surface.

Those eyes of yours, those well-proportioned windows through which an
inner beauty sees and is seen, are the flower of all that history. But
of how much more besides! For as reptilian claws fathered the ape's
hands, and these the human artful instruments of making and of
gesture, so eyes have found new powers. Through all the human
generations they have seen beauty, and they have expressed the spirit.
Wide open with interest, half-closed with languor or contempt, staring
with hate or sorrow, narrowed for peering at far horizons, crow's-
footed at the corners with frequent smiling, prone to sidelong
glancing in shrewdness or in shy enticement, veiled or bright with
love, eyes have slowly, little by little though the ages of human
living, created their own language.

What wonder, then, that some clear spirits reveal themselves most
surely in the unwitting speech of eyes!



CHAPTER IV THE SPIRIT OF MAN CONSIDERS HIS PLIGHT

THE SPIRIT OF MAN AND THE SPIRIT
THE DARK OTHER
THE REAR-GUNNER AGAIN
DISEASED CHRYSALIS
THE END OF THE WAR


THE SPIRIT OF MAN AND THE SPIRIT

RACKED by the pains of war and the many social distresses of his
multiple flesh, and by the failure of all his efforts to recover
health, the spirit of Man fell faint with despair. His will for life
and for the fuller expression of his nature faded into lassitude. The
death-will tempted him. Why should he continue to struggle, enticed by
a goal beyond his powers? Why not sink quietly into nothingness? His
flesh had been at once too frail and too rebellious. He could neither
strengthen it for the spirit's service nor curb it from
licentiousness. Homo Sapiens, it seemed, was a species of inadequate
design, a mere pterodactyl of the spirit, and no true bird, perfected
for flight. A pterodactyl? Rather a strayed moth, doomed to flutter
vainly against prison windows till death should still its
restlessness.

Then why, why continue the torment of effort? What need, what duty
could compel him? No need at all he recognized in himself but for
rest, and sleep, and death.

Yet in perplexity he found that even in this ultimate fatigue and
disillusionment he could not, or he must not, surrender. It was
becoming increasingly clear to him that he, the spirit of Man, was
pledged in some obscure way to some greater, some universal Spirit
that was indeed his own true essence, yet more purely spirit than he
could ever be. And so he must, he must, school himself to become the
faithful instrument of that greater, which was at once the unfulfilled
promise of his own nature, and yet also (how could this be?) the
infinity that had created him by its own limiting, and that had upheld
him in every moment of his being. To this, his source and his goal, he
must be true. Must? Why must? He could not say. And yet it was certain
that he must.

Seeking new strength, the spirit of Man now looked once more outward
from his planet toward the stars. For those great fires, those sparks,
perhaps, from some still greater, hidden fire, had latterly become for
him a symbol reminding him insistently of his littleness, disturbing
him with their dark hint of some ulterior greatness. Now therefore he
must contemplate them afresh.

In this our moment of Man's crisis, the astronomers, those eyes
through which he studied the heavens, had mostly been drawn aside from
their true function into kinds of work urgent for warfare. But a few
were left; and these he now impelled with a new wonder, a new will to
see their familiar star-fields no longer as fields of mere data for
analysis but as enigmatic features of celestial reality; so that
through their telescopes and through their brooding minds he too might
for a while contemplate the stars, and strive to see himself in true
relationship with them. From his grain of rock, with its hot core of
iron, and its film of greenery and ocean, he gazed outward through the
deeper ocean of the air. There swung the moon, too prematurely senile
to bear life; and there the sun, father of all vital growth in Earth,
life's mother. The sun, that one-time god, was after all nothing but a
large blaze, a very average, perhaps rather elderly star, a not
inexhaustible fountain of vital energy; which, however, might any day
explode and devour its little brood of worlds. The spirit of Man
scrutinized those worlds, but could make little of them. If some day
he could reach to them with feelers of human intelligence, what would
he find? Were they perhaps other fertile orbs with presiding spirits
like himself, and multiple flesh, alien to his? Or were they just
blank worlds of sun-melted rock or of eternal ice, or spheres of
inhospitable desert or boundless ocean, with no vital air?

Impatient of his ignorance, he peered beyond the outermost planet,
probing the constellations. Seen through mankind's telescopes, the
pin-pricked blackness became a blackness thick-laid with dust of
diamonds, with here and there a larger brilliant or some great
dazzling gem. But even the least was a star, a sun. Immobile, fixed,
inert they seemed; but well he knew how, squadron upon squadron, the
great suns flowed and voyaged. And all of them together (how well he
knew it) formed a vast whirl of sparks, each solitary as a prisoner,
gaoled by sheer distance from its neighbours. But he reminded himself
that the whole galaxy, could he have viewed it from, outside, would
have seemed a close-knit organism, compact of streaming cells, free-
roaming yet obedient to the whole's nature. Many such seeming
organisms, such galaxies, he could indeed see far afield through the
directed instruments of his astronomers. And hosts of others, he knew,
voyaged beyond human vision, like airborne gulls beyond the horizon,
or circling over the antipodean ocean. The spirit of Man seemed almost
to know that the whole physical cosmos was itself one organism, with
galaxies for members.

And so? And so? Thought surrendered to sheer wonder. Was he, the great
spirit of Man, no more, then, than a blood-corpuscle or little atom in
the universal organism? Or was he, perhaps, the vital germ of the
whole cosmical egg? Was all the rest a lifeless yoke, awaiting his
magic? For a moment self-pride swelled him; but at once he recollected
that even so, even if by miracle he was the sole vital germ of the
whole cosmos, yet not by its own sole power could the germ create the
fledgeling, still less could it produce unaided the grown eagle. Only
the whole concourse of events could do so. For the eagle's making
there must indeed be the germ; but the yoke also, and the mother's
care, the prey, the flight-enabling air, and all the past, the whole
ancestry, even to primitive life in the early ocean, even to the
planets' birth and the primeval nebula and the surmised inscrutable
creative act from which all sprang. Little enough the germ's mere
spark of creativity! And he, the half-lucid spirit of earth's ruling
species, even if he dared for a moment to think of himself as the germ
of the cosmic egg, he must surely feel not self-glory but humility;
and dread, lest, directing his spark falsely, he should frustrate the
potency of the whole cosmos, and so betray the Spirit.

And if after all he was one of a great host of spirits in worlds
sprinkled throughout the cosmos? This was the more exciting thought. A
longing for comradeship with his own kind stirred in him. If he could
but co-operate with such beings across the light-years and the parsecs
of distance! It was, of course, impossible. Each world-spirit must be
loyal to his own vision of the Spirit, in utter isolation from his
fellows.

The Spirit! At least he must with his whole will affirm his ultimate
loyalty to something other than himself, something perhaps darkly
glimpsed beyond the galaxies, but brilliantly, imperiously present
within him, as the essence of himself yet infinitely more than
himself. In himself, it was the will to be aware, to love, to make.
Beyond himself, perhaps it was the will of a greater than himself to
fulfil the whole cosmos in wisdom, love and creativity.

THE DARK OTHER

In the days of Man's infancy his groping members had worshipped gods
of their own invention, beings that for him had no plausibility,
because they conformed only to the nature of his individual members,
not to his own composite nature. But latterly some, though they had at
last forsworn all cosmical myths, remained still gropingly loyal to
the Spirit in their hearts, until they came to conceive a new
divinity, none other than himself, the very spirit of Man.

He judged that in a way they were right; for indeed he himself was the
passion of intelligence, love and creative will that smouldered,
though deep buried, in every human heart.

But now at last the spirit of Man began to see that this dawning new
religion of his members was but a half-truth, and full of danger. For
if he, the spirit of Man, was in any manner worshipful, it must be not
because he was man but because he was spirit; because, like his little
members themselves, his essence was intelligence, love and creative
will. Those who worshipped him were indeed true to the Spirit in that
they gave allegiance to intelligence, love and creative will; but in
circumscribing their allegiance to himself, to the imperfect common
spirit of their species, they were false to the universal Spirit, and
so to him also, and to their own true nature.

The spirit of Man could not but yearn towards a divinity beyond
himself, towards the universal Spirit that was his own essence, yet
infinitely more than himself. But also with painful perplexity he
recognized in himself an obscure yearning toward something beyond even
the universal and lucid Spirit of intelligence, love and creative
action; a yearning toward some alien Other, inscrutable, terrible, yet
in some strange dread way most beautiful. The great spirit of Man, who
had so slowly, so toilfully and painfully, awakened through the ages,
now seemed at last to feel blindly the presence of that Other,
stripped of all the false images that men had vainly conceived to
reveal him. Knowing at least what the Other was not, the spirit of Man
seemed to know in a way what he in fact was; yet knew of his actual
nature nothing save his bare and terrible otherness. He was not Ra nor
Siva nor Chronos nor Jaweh nor Jesus. Nor yet (the thought startled
him with bewilderment, almost with vertigo) could it be said for
certain even that the dark Other was identical with the Spirit, that
he was the perfection of all intelligence, love and creative will. For
these, which for the spirit of Man and for all finite spirits of every
rank must needs be sacred, might perhaps in the Other be transcended.

Considering thus, the spirit of Man, even in the agony of his body's
conflict, cried out to the Other, 'Oh, Thou, Thou, Thou!' but then
fell dumb. Presently in his heart he whispered, 'How should I, his
small and lowly creature, address him; how make contact with him?
Stars and galaxies declare him, atoms and electrons manifest him.
Every insect, every sparrow, every wild flower proves him. Men in all
their ways, both good and evil, fatally express him. And I, though
loyal utterly to the clear Spirit that is my essence, salute also, and
compulsively, him, the Other. And yet I must for ever doubt whether
these two are in fact several or identical. Spirit I humbly know, but
what is Thou? Dazzling darkness in the eyes! Shattering silence!'

THE REAR-GUNNER AGAIN

Convinced of his impotence in regard to the Other, the spirit of Man
turned once more to consider the Spirit, the more familiar, more
intelligible divinity, which so insistently and unmistakably claimed
his service.

But could that be called a divinity which, it might well be, was no
personal consciousness beyond his own personality but sheerly an
imperious ideal claiming his allegiance, perhaps quite irrationally?
Was this ideal implanted in him by the Other, to be the law of his
being, though not, perhaps, of the Other's own being at all? He could
not know. But with no trace of doubt he knew that for him, as for his
little personal members, the way of the Spirit was the way of life.
Throughout the swarm of the galaxies, all personal beings of whatever
rank of lucidity must of their very nature give allegiance to the
Spirit, or else be false to the clear light within them. For all, the
way of life must ever be the way of sensitive intelligence, of loving,
and of creating. But the modes of these must strangely vary and
conflict. Arid to the lowlier creatures the more lucid expressions of
the Spirit must often seem perverse. The spirit of Man, recalling the
long pilgrimage of his growth, saw that for him the Spirit had indeed
taken on many a new guise since he had first so darkly conceived it in
the time when he was Father Adam.

In that earliest moment of his life there had been no difference
between himself and the self of his one sole member in its most
quickened state. But now, because his members were very many, there
was a gulf between himself and each one of them. They were so diverse.
Even in their expressions of the Spirit they were for ever in
conflict; for each was enraptured with some one mode of the Spirit's
manifestation, some one direction or manner of intelligence, or of
loving, or of creating. But he, since he comprised all their
diversity, participated equally in all their conflicting achievements.
He was the identity in all. Moreover his members were so ephemeral;
and he perennial; they, so fettered to the particular brief flowering
of their individual selves; he, so remote from that enthralment.

It was difficult, therefore, for him to keep aware of the minute but
vivid and concrete lives of his members. He was in danger of ignoring
them as a man ignores the particular cells of his brain. But since
they were indeed personal, and the whole ground of his own
personality, to lose touch with them would be to lose himself and die;
and to betray the Spirit. Particularly in this moment of his life he
must guard against this danger. For recently all his concern had
inevitably been with the great world-influences, and with the need for
planning and control of the relations of peoples and of social
classes. In his absorption in this immense need, he, the very spirit
of Man, was once more forgetting the personal lives of men and women.

With earnest sympathy, even with reverence, the spirit of Man now
relived the little lives of now one and now another of his myriad
members, the living and the dead; or dwelt upon crucial moments of
those lives. And amongst others he chose out the rear-gunner in the
aeroplane where a moth had fluttered. With fresh wonder and humility
he rethought the young man's thoughts high over the narrow sea. He
immersed himself in the obscurity and confusion of the rear-gunner's
mind, as though plunging into a turbid and a murky stream. He felt
himself pushed this way and that by currents of unconscious impulse,
by childhood fears and hungers, long forgotten. He was seduced by
ignorance and false reasoning into innumerable follies and trivial
purposes. But also, with a shock of pity he experienced the young
man's hesitant loyalty toward a spirit that he could only obscurely
conceive. It was a longing hopelessly led astray by the conventional
cynicism of his pose. Through the rear-gunner's eyes he saw the Spirit
not as the clear will for love and reason and creating but as a mere
dim and formless light, percolating down through the muddy water.
Strange that a being so lacking in clarity should yet, in spite of the
torment of his tangled nature and the fetters that society had
fastened on him, be able to give his cherished life unfalteringly for
so confused and dim a vision of the Spirit. Like the imprisoned moth
he was trapped in the great machine, nay he was part of the machine;
and yet, unlike the moth, he disciplined himself finally to courage
and to comradeship in the crew, in fact to the Spirit, though
shamefacedly, almost unwittingly.

What could the great spirit of Man himself do more? Within the wider
limits of his own ignorance and frailty, he too could only falteringly
serve the Spirit. Moreover what was he but the spiritual unity of all
his members? He was greater than each merely because he was the best
in all, made one in some occult telepathic union. And yet he wondered.
Was he not more truly one than many? Then were his members after all
mere figments of his own essential and single being? Were they in fact
not real individual spirits at all but mere experiences of his own,
though received through a host of different viewpoints? But no! That
rear-gunner, in being less than the consciousness of all mankind, in
being circumscribed by immense ignorance and inwardly warped by the
impact of a faulty society, must surely have been something more
positive than a passing thought of the spirit of Man himself, must
have been a real though a brief individual; and a gallant individual
too, capable of a heroism never to be called for, seemingly, from the
great spirit of Man himself. For never, seemingly, would the spirit of
Man be called upon to die for that greater Spirit that claimed his
loyalty, since he himself was the sole known vessel of that Spirit. A
mother carrying her child in her own body fights at once for her
child's life and for her own; and he, fighting for that greater Spirit
which he alone could bring forth, was fighting also for his own
survival. But the rear-gunner had given his life that something other
than himself should survive. And the City's dead saint had lived to
serve those who were far less admirable than herself. Adoring the
Spirit, she had for the Spirit's sake given herself ungrudgingly.

DISEASED CHRYSALIS

Once more the spirit of Man turned to consider the plight of his
multiple body as a whole. He could no longer doubt that every organ,
every tissue, of his flesh was now in dissolution. His whole substance
was turning to fluid for some strange transformation. His whole form
was changing like a cloud. What was to be the issue?

Again, as so often before, he earnestly questioned whether this dread
transmutation was indeed the final and lethal paroxysm of his
corroding disease, which had entered him far back in his childhood, or
whether it could after all be a glorious though torturing rebirth. Oh,
rebirth it might be, must be! Hitherto, stage by imperceptible stage,
the browsing caterpillar had quietly grown; but now the whole creature
was disintegrating, for death or fuller life, for the true imago or
for some dread parasitic growth. The dying primitive creature had been
after all little more than a formless crowd of cells, a mere polyp or
sponge, a confusion of free-ranging and undisciplined individuals,
organic for local or vocational ends only, in families, tribes,
nations, mysteries and social classes. The total life of the race was
the issue merely of blind forces, impinging on the little creatures of
the swarm, and swaying them through their inveterate self-seeking. But
now at last it seemed that he, the spirit of Man, so long almost
powerless to control his flesh, might some day come into his own, and
reign as the directive mind and will of all humanity. And then, wise
from all the mistakes of his past, he would so inspire his members
that they would work together freely to turn the earth into a
paradise, where, generation by generation, men should fulfil their
nature joyfully and ever more gloriously as instruments of the Spirit.

As the war's end drew near, the spirit of Man saw more starkly that
nothing could save him but a new and lucid will for the Spirit,
widespread among the peoples. The upstart empires, those cancers in
his flesh, must indeed be destroyed; else there could be no health in
his body, and his mind must fail; but more, far more, was needed than
this desperate surgery. For the poison had spread throughout his
blood-stream, and into every organ of his body.

And so in the very year of the military victory the spirit of Man was
forced to doubt whether the victors, though professed champions of the
Spirit, had any clear conception of what they would do with their
victory. Their concern, it seemed, was increasingly with mere power,
with the organization of the world to maintain themselves in power.
Some wished only to restore the old sponge structure in which they
themselves had formerly prospered. Others planned indeed a close-knit
world-organism, but one in which every man and woman should be held in
place by steel threads not of comradeship but of regulations, a world
in which the Spirit would be as fettered as in the cancerous empires
themselves.

And now the spirit of Man himself began to doubt what precisely it was
that he needed of his members. In the past it had been easy to see
that the need was for them to curb and transcend their wild
individuality, that they should be disciplined in the common cause,
that the old loose tissues of his flesh should be broken down 'and
reshaped into a tighter structure. But no sooner did this end begin to
be in sight, no sooner did the victors foresee themselves as
controllers of the world, than they themselves became the instruments
of a new danger. No sooner did they grasp the need for discipline and
world-planning, than they began to forget the purpose of discipline
and the goal of planning. Most forgot it, but not all. The saint,
killed in the City, and thousands of other humble men and women
scattered up and down the world, did not forget.

All the while that the spirit of Man was forcing himself to seek a
clearer view of his predicament, his flesh continued to be tormented
by the huge convulsion of war. He was in the plight of one who, in a
high fever and on the verge of delirium, knows that nothing can save
him but a desperate, an almost impossible effort to keep a cool head,
and think out his cure, and administer it with precision.

The opposing peoples were now strained to the last extremity, the one
side to stave off ruin, the other to win a quick and thorough victory.
Great fleets carried great armies to land on the enemy beaches. Great
air fleets destroyed city after city. The armies projected themselves
in clattering machines and with the fury of innumerable guns across
the meadows and the wasted cornfields, and through the wrecked
villages. The retreating enemy blasted and burned and tortured.
Everywhere the little members of his body accepted discipline and
danger, and suffered all manner of pains and mutilations and deaths in
the simple hope that by their sacrifice others would be saved, and a
happier world made possible. Their sensitive flesh was torn and
mangled by the impersonal blast of bombs or the lustful and devilish
cruelty of their fellow mortals. They were subjected to scientifically
devised torture, or simply destroyed in thousands as vermin, in the

cheapest possible manner; or else, as free citizens and fighters, they
choked under the sea, or fell headlong from the sky, or were crushed
under falling masonry, or burnt to shrunken faggots of charred flesh
and blackened bone.

All this physical agony the spirit of Man himself suffered, for their
flesh was his flesh. And even their mental terror of extinction he
knew, since he resided in them all. Yet in the midst of this distress,
and in spite of it, and because of it, he saw more clearly than ever
the truth about himself.

'Strange and most subtle', he told himself, even in his agony, 'is the
mutual dependence of these little beings and myself. Unless they are
wholly disciplined to my will I am torn and crippled by inner
conflict; yet if these cells of my body degenerate from true
personality and become indeed mere cells, mere cog-wheels, mere de-
spirited units, utterly obedient to the spiritless organization of the
whole, I myself, my true self, must faint into nonentity. For I have
no being whatever save as the identity of spirit in each and all of my
members. There is only one forlorn hope for me, that they should of
their own free will, and not merely by compulsion, discipline
themselves for the common good and for the Spirit's sake. But even
this is not enough. While disciplining themselves, they must also
contrive to be uncompromisingly loyal each to his own individuality
and uniqueness.'

The spirit of Man saw what it was that he must now do. His inspiration
of his members must be made more precise. It was useless merely to
exhort them vaguely to renewed loyalty to the Spirit. He must declare
explicitly just what the Spirit demanded of them in this moment of
history.

He therefore set about once more clarifying his own thoughts and his
inspiration of his members; even now on, the threshold of his
delirium. At the very time when men were at last falteringly beginning
to carry out his earlier precept, when the more socially-aware of them
were propagating successfully a will for social discipline and world-
planning, he must bestir himself desperately to inspire the more
spiritually-conscious with a new tenderness for individuality and for
sincere personal awareness. To many of his members, and even to his
past self, it had seemed that these two inspirations were opposed to
one another; yet in fact each of them cried out for the other for its
completion.

The spirit of Man accordingly spoke his new message in innumerable
hearts in all the war-tortured and state-ridden lands. 'Remember the
great prophet of Love,' he told them. 'Slowly you have begun to
outgrow the limitations of his teaching, but at the same time you have
forgotten his truth. He persuaded you no doubt to believe questionable
doctrines, declaring that men were immortal and that God was their
loving father, possibilities that lie far beyond human under-
standing. But he also made some of you see that all men are members
one of another, and that only in the active love of neighbours, of
comrades, can man find salvation. Therefore, be tender, oh always
tender, to the individual human being. Plan, you must; for your world
is in disorder. Control, you must, and in your present emergency you
must not shrink from using even bombs and tanks and machine-guns, for
some of the Spirit's enemies are very powerful, and too far perverted
to accept any other persuasion. And sometimes, when you yourselves
have power, you rightly feel that to be less than firm would be a
betrayal. But oh, let firmness be eternally married to tenderness.
Even the fallen but still dangerous enemy is human, and a warped
instrument of the Spirit. And the little nobody, working in a factory
and coming home tired or starved of joy, claims infinite tenderness;
even when in his stupidity or blind self-interest he resists
benevolent planning. And let it be written across the minds of all
rulers in letters of undying fire that unless your planning gives to
each little nobody wings and freedom to use them, you plan in vain.'

Millions upon millions responded vaguely to the new inspiration, for
the peoples were being harassed by a swarm of tyrannies, great and
small, evil or benevolent. They longed as never before for freedom.
They were sick to death of discipline, of commands, of forms, of
identity numbers and regulations. They desired only to be done with
the war, and go back to Civvy Street and a good job, and to have
enough money to amuse themselves. Moreover those who had the power of
money longed to be free of restrictions on their self-seeking. And so
it turned out that this vast craving for freedom was only here and
there a will freely to serve the Spirit in personal integrity. It was
in the main a desperate thirst to have a good time without
responsibility for others.

The spirit of Man's new-old inspiration was vaguely welcomed by most
men, both by people of goodwill, and also by those who willed to
restore the old licentious freedom. And these assiduously perverted
the new gospel for their own convenience. And so the socially loyal,
who demanded planning, condemned the new longing for freedom as a
trick of society's enemies. Very few welcomed it as the completion of
their own social gospel.

Once more the spirit of Man's inspiration of his members failed,
perhaps partly through the weakness and confusion of his new prophets,
but mostly through the irresistible impetus of social forces which
were grinding mankind fatally into the harsh and lethal forms of the
world-wide ant-state.

THE END OF THE WAR

The bells clang for victory. The trumpets blast and the flags wave.
Troops march in procession through every city. Crowds cheer. They
cheer for a golden but a phantom future. The past is but a pain in the
memory. None but the bereaved and the mutilated greatly care for it.

The bells clang for victory, for peace, for the passing of life's long
black-out, for the return to Civvy Street, for the hell of a good time
coming; and for the triumph (so the victors say) of the Spirit over
the powers of evil that so nearly conquered the planet.

But the spirit of Man does not greatly rejoice; for though one
disaster has been gallantly prevented, another is in the offing. One
paroxysm of his disease passes, but the disease is not cured. The
chrysalis is astir for the great rebirth, but the moth is still
imprisoned, and the parasite snugly housed in every cell of his fever-
weakened flesh.

The spirit of Man, though hoping still, confronts the future with
misgiving.

FOURTH INTERLUDE

TIME AND ETERNITY

Today! Tomorrow!

Today comprises the whole present universe of infinite detail and
inconceivable extent. Today is fields and houses and the huge sky.
Today human creatures are being conceived, are born, are loving,
hating, dying. Electrons and protons in their myriads are everywhere
busily performing their unimaginable antics. Planets attend their
suns. Galaxies drift and whirl.

All this today comprises, and with all this the whole past is pastly
present in today; Queen Victoria, Babylon, the ice ages, the
condensing of the stars in the primeval nebula, and the initial
inconceivable explosion of creativity.

But tomorrow? It is a wall of impenetrable fog, out of which anything
may come.

When we remember or discover the past, we confront something that is
what it is, eternally though pastly. It is such and such, and not
otherwise. Our view of it may indeed be false, but it, in itself, is
what in fact it was, however darkly it is now veiled. No fiat, not
even an Almighty's, can make the past be other than in fact it was,
and eternally is. God himself, if such there be, cannot expunge for me
the deeds I now regret.

But the future? It is not veiled, it is nothing. It has still to be
created. We ourselves, choosing this course rather than that, must
playa part in creating it. Even though we ourselves, perhaps, are but
expressions of the whole living past at work within us, yet we, such
as we are, are makers of future events that today are not. Today the
future actuality is nothing whatever but one or other of the infinite
host of possibilities now latent in the present. Or perhaps (for how
can we know?) not even latent in the present, but utterly unique and
indeterminate.

Yesterday is palpably there, there, just behind me; but receding
deeper and deeper into the past, as I live onward along the sequence
of the new todays.

But tomorrow?

Yesterday I had porridge and toast for breakfast, as on the day
before, and the day before that. Yesterday, according to instruction I
caught a train to Preston. I had set my plans so as to reach the
station in good time. And because a thousand other strands of planning
had been minutely co-ordinated, at the appointed minute the engine
driver, who had been waiting in readiness for the guard's whistle and
his waving flag, moved levers. The train crept forward. In that train
I found myself sitting opposite a lovely stranger, not according to
instruction, nor as the result of any plan. Soon we were talking,
looking into one another's eyes; talking not of love but of nursing
and hospitals and the wished-for planned society, and of her Christian
God, and of a future life, and of eternity. Before we met, before our
two minds struck light from each other, our conversation had no
existence anywhere. But then in a fleeting present we began creating
it. And now the universe is eternally the richer because of it, since
irrevocably the past now holds it, now preserves in a receding
yesterday that unexpected, that brief and never-to-be-repeated, warmth
and brightness.

With her I have no past but yesterday, and no future; but with you, my
best known and loved, I have deep roots in the past, and flowers too,
and the future.

Some fifteen thousand yesterdays ago there lies a day when you were a
little girl with arms like sticks and a bright cascade of hair. In a
green silk frock you came through a door, warmed your hands at the
fire, and looked at me for a moment. And now, so real that moment
seems, that it might be yesterday! For that particular fraction of the
eternal reality is always queerly accessible to me, though fifteen
thousand yesterdays ago.

But tomorrow?

Tomorrow, shall I, as it has been planned, catch the bus for Chester?
Or shall I miss it? Or will it refuse me, or never start on its
journey? Or having absorbed me will it collide with a hearse or a
menagerie van? Will the freed lions and tigers chase people along the
street? Shall I feel their huge claws in my flesh and smell their
breath, and know that for me at least there is no tomorrow? Or perhaps
some hidden disease is ready to spring on me tonight? Or a bomb? Or
will the laws of nature suddenly change, so that stones leap from the
earth, houses become soaring pillars of rubble and dust, and the sea
rushes into the sky? Or will the sky itself be drawn aside like a
curtain, revealing God on his throne, his accusing finger pointing
precisely at abject me? Or at a certain moment of tomorrow will
everything simply end? Will there be just nothing any more, no future
at all?

I cannot answer these questions with certainty. No man can answer them
with certainty. And yet if I were to bet a million pounds to a penny
that things will go on, and half a million that they will go on
fundamentally much as before, few would call me rash.

Yesterday the events which are now so vividly present and actual were
in the main inscrutable and not yet determined. And therefore
yesterday they had, we say, no being. And yet, and yet--there are
moments when we vaguely sense that, just as the past is eternally
real, though pastly, so the future also is eternally what in fact it
will be, though for a while futurely to the ever-advancing present. We
move forward, and the fog recedes before us, revealing a universe
continuous with the present universe, and one which, we irresistibly
feel, was there all the while, awaiting us. Could we but by some magic
or infra-red illumination pierce the fog-wall, we should see the
future universe as in fact it is. So at least we sometimes
irresistibly feel. My conversation with that lovely and serious
travelling companion--was it not always there, awaiting me, knit
irrevocably into the future as it is now irrevocably knit into the
past? When I was born, was not that journey awaiting me?

Through the interplay of external causation and my own freely choosing
nature, was not that happy encounter already a feature of the eternal
fact, though futurely? Was it not equally so when the Saxons first
landed on this island, and when the island itself took shape, and when
the sun gave birth?

And fifteen thousand yesterdays ago, when you and I first looked at
each other, was not our future even then just what in fact it has
been? It was of course related to us futurely, and was therefore
inaccessible... but was it not all the while there, lying in wait for
us? One does not suppose that the centre of the earth, because it is
inaccessible, is therefore blankly nothing, until someone shall burrow
down to it.

And indeed I cannot even be sure that in that moment of our first
meeting the future was, in very truth, wholly inaccessible. For in
looking into your eyes I did (how I remember it!) have a strange, a
startling experience, long since dismissed as fantasy, yet
unforgettable. It was as though your eyes were for me windows, and as
though curtains were drawn aside, revealing momentarily a wide, an
unexpected and unexplored prospect, a view obscure with distance, but
none the less an unmistakable prevision of our common destiny. I could
not, of course, see it clearly; for it was fleeting, and I was a boy
and simple. But I saw, or I seemed to see, what now I recognize as the
very thing that has befallen us, the thing that has taken so long to
grow, and is only now in these last years flowering. Today our hair is
greying, our faces show the years. We can no longer do as once we did.
But the flower has opened. And strangely it is the very flower that
once I glimpsed even before the seed was sown.

Fantasy, sheer fantasy? Perhaps! But when we think of time and of
eternity, intelligence reels. The shrewdest questions that we can ask
about them are perhaps falsely shaped, being but flutterings of the
still unfledged human mentality.

The initial creative act that blasted this cosmos into being may, or
may not (or neither), be in eternity co-real with today, and with the
last faint warmth of the last dying star.



CHAPTER V MAN'S FUTURE


THE SPIRIT OF MAN HAS A VISION
HE TRIES TO REMEMBER THE VISION
THE VASTNESS AND THE HORROR
THE MOTH BREAKS FROM THE CHRYSALIS
SIX HUMAN WORLDS
THE END OF MAN


THE SPIRIT OF MAN HAS A VISION

THE bells! The bells clang for victory. They strike all hearts to
thankfulness, and many to joy; but some to cruel memory of past
promise, now never to be fulfilled. And some, in the intolerable
conflict of hope and new foreboding, are gripped to silence. These,
these only, are the eyes of tile spirit of Man, facing the fog-wall.

Heedless of the bells and the trumpets, the processions and the flags
and the cheers, the spirit of Man stares at the blank future, with
hope but with new foreboding. He presses with all his eyes against the
impenetrable fog. So fixedly is he nailed to the blankness of the
future that the present sweeps past him unobserved.

He reels into a strange trance. For a pregnant instant, between one
beat and the next beat of the crashing bands, he is plucked seemingly
quite out of time into eternity, and dropped back headlong upon the
advancing wave-crest of the present, enriched with huge experience.
For between one blast and the next blast of the trumpets the spirit of
Man sees all his future ćons, and his senility and death. He sees also
the lifetimes of a thousand worlds, and the death-time of the cosmos.
He sees the Spirit, the true Spirit, full grown at last but crippled,
groping still toward the dark Other. But whether she is taken by her
beloved, he cannot know.

HE TRIES TO REMEMBER THE VISION

The bells clang on. The crowds in every metropolis still cheer. But
the spirit of Man is heedless, rapt in the fading memory of that huge
instant.

What was it that seized him? Could he but recapture the lost vision!
He remembers only that it was the opening up of an immensity never
conceived by man, an immensity that was at once (how insignificant and
irritating these threadbare words!) most terrible and yet most
beautiful, in a manner humanly unimaginable. And embraced within this
vastness, like a cell in a living body, like a little word in a great
song, a little tremor in a great orchestration, a flicker of being,
long past and yet eternal, there lived and died our universe of space
and time, and many-worlded galaxies, and of the many-mannered spirit.
Chilled and dismayed by the confused memory of that immensity, the
spirit of Man yet longs to be engulfed in it and suffused with it, as
the hart the water-brooks. For that vastness, alien beyond all
conception, was also (how could this be?) strangely familiar, intimate
even. That instant on the remotest peak of being was also (but how,
how could this be?) a startling homecoming.

The remotest peak of being? No! The spirit of Man, scrutinizing his
future memory, recognizes that he cannot claim to have been there; for
even in that soaring instant the presence of the inaccessible Other
overhung him. Not to the summit had his assumption borne him, but to a
lowly spur, a foothill only. Very far above, cloud-veiled, more
guessed than seen, the stark horn itself rose, forbidding,
inaccessible to all creatures, even to the spirit of Man. Yet
unreasonably lovely. And far below, below the ravines and hanging
forests, down in a vast plain, a little stream lay like a faint
scribble, one among many, glimpsed through the haze. And this little
stream, one of many, the spirit of Man recognized as his own home-
universe of space and time, and of many-worlded galaxies.

To us, in our more intimate and temporal experience, our universe is
instinct with life and change; yet from the viewpoint of eternity's
foothills it was fixed, complete, with all its surging ćons equally
present.

Seeking a nearer view, the spirit of Man had swooped downward with
hawk-like scrutiny. Poised over our universe, he saw in more detail
all the long reaches of our river of time laid out before him, from
the stream's initial wellspring in eternity to its final stagnation in
the bog of eternal changelessness.

THE VASTNESS AND THE HORROR

All this he had seen in the great instant. But now, dropped back once
more into time, and swept forward on the wavecrest of the present, he
tries eagerly but with uncertain success to recapture his late vision.

He dimly recalls that within one stretch of rapids in the stream's
middle reaches a single fixed swirl of ripples was seen to be his own
whole life in time. There, half-seen, half-guessed, lay his first
waking in Father Adam. And there too his death. And in between lay all
his ages, that for us are past or future. There, the gleaming ripple
of his childhood's golden age, there the age of his prophets, there
the onset of science. And there also he saw, much as a man on his
death-bed may remember an incident of his childhood, the moment of
history which we call present. There the bells clanged for victory.
There, or but a tremor earlier, the rear-gunner in a certain aeroplane
felt a moth's chance kiss. There, an obscure saint in a city was
destroyed, and also leapt to bliss. Today, after that instant of
eternity how strange it seems to the spirit of Man that, before his
illumination, this our present moment should have appeared as the crux
of man's whole career, perhaps of the whole cosmos! Searching his
fading memory of the eternal view, he now affirms that the truth is in
fact far otherwise. This moment that for us is present is not, alas,
the moment of his rebirth from the chrysalis to become the finished
moth. Our struggle is a mere premonitory birthpang, one of many. Not
till long ages afterwards, so his memory of the eternal view affirms,
does the imago ripen fully and emerge.

Probing his memory to recover the times that for us are future, the
spirit of Man sees only the general form of human history. Of the
little span that most concerns us, and him also today, the lifetime
awaiting men now living, he remembers almost nothing. Even of the next
few centuries he recovers only a shadowy and deceptive image. So very
long is the ćon of his whole career that even a millennium, unless it
happens to be in some way unique or momentous in the eternal view, may
be as indistinguishable as to us a day among a thousand others far
back in childhood. The events of a century or a decade may be quite
indiscernible. No doubt here and there some trivial and fleeting
incident, such as a casual war or abortive social upheaval, may
freakishly obtrude itself in his future memory; but in general such
brief events present themselves to him only if they were specially
striking or significant.

The war which bulks so largely in all our lives, and in his own life
today, his memory does detect; but he recovers little more of our time
than the bare outline of the war's occurrence, and its issue. It was a
minute though vivid incident in a far lengthier phase, namely the
great world-revolution, which, though today its achievement seems to
us almost at hand, lies in fact very far away in the middle distance
of his immense lifetime. In the light of his future memory, if memory
it is, he now regards today with sobered judgment. For in the decades
and centuries to come he seems to see war upon war, each more
destructive than the last. Century by century ever more shattering
explosives were flung from country to enemy country, from continent to
continent, half-circling the planet. Poison gases and the bacteria of
disease were in due course freely used. With subatomic power men
contrived to blast their cities instantaneously into rubble, to tumble
mountains into populous valleys, to sink whole countries under the
invading ocean. Nay worse, with new-found psychical techniques enemy
governments attacked one another's populations, driving whole peoples
crazy, so that millions turned berserk, slaughtering one another
aimlessly in the streets, murdering their own children, flinging
themselves off high places, or into the sea.

These maniac deeds the spirit of Man remembers only in a shadowy way,
and with the aloofness of one remembering a dream. For he recalls them
through his instant of exaltation in eternity, as old unhappy far-off
things, needful somehow for the eternal glory, and themselves thereby
redeemed.

But when he turns from his remote vision to the actual past, and
recalls in intolerable detail the horror of our own war, and of the
scientific, the diabolic torturing that preceded it, and behind that
all the savagery of men throughout his long experience, the
illimitable vistas of man-made horror, past and future, appall him.
'What present benefit,' he cries, 'what remote Utopia or far-off
divine event, can recompense the brief personal beings of my flesh for
such agony and such curtailment of their fleeting lives?' And now,
quickened by his memory of past distress, his imagination feels the
full weight of future pain and sorrow. The torn flesh, the crippled
minds, the hopes frustrated, the loves cut short! Inexorably they pile
up, century by century, age by age. And with shame and despair the
spirit of Man recognizes that much of this huge weight of misery must
burden his own conscience. For again and again he himself through
ignorance or obtuseness had inspired his members falsely, to their
destruction.

'Surely', he cries, 'it would have been better if I had never been
conceived on this planet, if terrestrial life had remained for ever
subhuman. For, though nature, red in tooth and claw, is brutish, man
is devilish.'

But no sooner has this cry escaped him, than he reminds himself that
it was but half the truth, nay less. For how tender toward one another
could his members be, and how aspiring, when their nature was not
poisoned by adverse circumstance! From Father Adam to the last of all
human 'generations men had struggled constantly in their confused,
conflicting ways, to be true to the spirit in them. And in some ages,
past or to come, whole peoples had reached the very threshold of a
gentler, richer humanity.

But all, if he must believe his vision, must in the end be vain. Never
in all the future ćons, it seems, is man to fulfil his promise: The
moth, trembling vainly on the brink of flight must in the end be
crushed.

Dismay at that remote disaster weighs down upon the spirit of Man.

But then, like one who has stepped into a deep bog or quicksand, and
throws himself on his back for security on the firm ground, the spirit
of Man desperately reverts to his high vision of eternity. For the ice
peak still strangely holds him. Darkly he knows, or seems to know,
that the suffering of a thousand worlds and countless universes is
somehow transfigured in eternity. But how? But how? He cannot know.
Even on eternity's foothills he could not know. And now he knows only,
as he knew then, but then more clearly, that in eternity all is indeed
transfigured. He knows also, with dread but with acceptance, that not
only for his little members but for him also the future holds, along
with joys and half-awaking, a thousand pains, and in the end
annihilation. Yet, knowing this, he also knows in virtue of his
instant of eternity, that the agony and sorrow and annihilation will
not have been in vain. But how, but how, can it be not in vain?

THE MOTH BREAKS FROM THE CHRYSALIS

Impatient lest the vision should escape him wholly before he can grasp
its import, the spirit of Man scrutinizes it more closely, passing
forward along the darkling corridors of his future memory to reach
once more and to comprehend more clearly his remembered death and that
which followed after, not seemingly to him but to some other, awakened
in his death.

He sees that even during the recurrent wars of the near future the new
texture of his multiple body was still slowly forming. More and more,
mankind was becoming an organism, though still torn and warped by the
repeated paroxysms of the disease. An organism, or a mere mechanism?
It was a system knit for power, not for the spirit. Alike in peace and
in war the lives of his little members were gripped ever more strictly
in the organic mesh, a steel mesh alas not of comradeship but of the
mechanism which their science had spawned. And so they were knit more
and more closely together as the flesh of a single world-wide
creature, though a creature still prone to internecine conflicts. And
though, through men's diabolic inventiveness, the horrors of warfare
became ever more destructive, they became also briefer and rarer. For
the unity of the world-organism painfully but triumphantly reasserted
itself, gripping its rebellious organs and all its little individual
cells ever more firmly in the steel mesh. At last there was no
possibility of any further rebellion. Wars ceased. All the tissues of
the imago, it seemed, were fully formed and integrated; but by
mechanism and domination only, not in the spirit.

Something was very wrong. The formed creature could not burst the
chrysalis. The moth could not free its wings and fly into the new
world that awaited it. Humanity, though it had possessed itself of all
the resources of its planet, and though the whole life of mankind was
fully organized for power, was paralysed. The spirit of Man was
paralysed in all his members.

Peering with difficulty into that dreary phase of his career, he sees
that though all human beings were at last well grown and prosperous,
and all exercised their particular skills fully in the common
enterprise, and all had a sufficiency of easy pleasures, yet in none
was there clear awareness of the spirit. Reason was fettered, love
stifled, and there was no creating. All men performed by rote the
activities that were allotted to them, and none, or very few, asked
what was the purpose of it all. The tradition of the spirit was lost.
Men lived in an endless sleep-walk.

As the centuries and the millennia passed, and the moth, Man, still
lay paralysed in the chrysalis, a subtle decay secretly began to lay
hold of all its tissues. For the creature could not live its living
death for ever without corruption.

The spirit of Man remembers how, when he himself was already faint
with the sluggishness of his members, and fearful of annihilation, he
put forth a passionate fiat to give light to the clouded minds of men,
so that here and there a few were disturbed in their somnambulism.
Little by little, these few, groping century by century, and often
martyred for their recalcitrance to the great mechanism, re-created
the lost wisdom, which the forgotten prophets had long ago conceived,
and overlaid with fiction.

It seems to the spirit of Man that for a long age the new awakening
made little progress, for it conflicted with the all-powerful
mechanism of the world, the steel organic mesh of the world-organism.
But little by little, under his desperate goading, the wished-for
miracle happened. Century by century, the whole world's temper
changed. The struggle between the still somnolent minds and the
awakened minds was world-wide and desperate, the one side armed with
the scientific lore and all the mechanical resources of the world, the
other armed only with love of the spirit.

At last the masses of men were all smouldering with the new fire, and
the great change happened. Control of the world passed suddenly from
the somnolent to the awakened. The spirit of Man came at last into his
own. The finished creature, Man, burst its bonds. The moth, emerging
from the close world of the chrysalis into the great air, spread
frail, cramped wings to harden in the sunlight of an ampler world. It
was a perfected, yet an imperfect creature; fashioned through and
through for life in a new element, yet through and through scarred by
the grub's old disease. For the past ages of hate and fear had left
their mark on the very texture of human mentality. Men were no longer
slaves, but their minds were moulded to a culture fashioned by men in
chains. The moth was formed and free, but weak and sickly. Ever and
again its individual members yearned for the lost freedom of the
chrysalis, or for the licentious freedom of the disease.

But little by little, so it seems to the spirit of Man, the wings were
smoothed out and set, the new tissues strengthened. One by one the old
horror's traces were expunged. Mechanism, formerly man's tyrant,
became his slave, science his willing servant. The earth was
transformed from an aimless generator of power into a fitting home for
free men and women. And with the change even power itself increased,
since free men could foster it better than slaves. And so, with the
lavish use of power, coastlines were altered, lost continents lifted
from the ocean bed, deserts made fertile, the arctic warmed, cities
rebuilt to nobler plans. All men lived in modest affluence, and all
had access to all lands in their own vehicles of flight. The children
grew up to freedom and friendliness. The young men were indeed sons of
the morning. And all citizens, being friends in a common work, spent
themselves gladly in the thousand diverse enterprises of the new
world. The old, peaceful with fruition, rested in life's evening, and
awaited death as the tired toiler sleep. For in every mind the spirit
of Man was present as the final judge of action and the final
consolation in all sorrow.

Century after century, age after age, men continued to embellish their
planet and explore the universe with the far-reaching eyes of science.
Age after age they developed the human spirit into an efflorescence of
art, personal awareness and metaphysical imagination. Ever exploring,
they came now and then on strange new veins of spiritual ore; they
broke suddenly into new worlds of beauty or personal being or abstract
truth.

SIX HUMAN WORLDS

But as time passed there was less and less opening for further
venture. Increasingly the generations were forced to repeat the
achievements of their forerunners. The whole of life became a gracious
ritual, but still a ritual. The instrument was perfected, but the
music, though exquisite, was repetitive of the ancient themes. The
moth's wings were ripe for flight, but they could only quiver
monotonously and ineffectively. The creature seemingly had not the
instinct to take wing.

The spirit of Man recalls how, though in full possession of all his
members, he was perplexed and impotent. For life is movement, and
adventure; and where they are not, comes a creeping death. It is
spirit's very nature, at whatever level of its being, in all its
finite forms, to strive for enrichment through intercourse with other
spirit, and in that enrichment to be reborn. Without this soaring,
comes the creeping death. The spirit of Man knew well that, unless he
could break the spell of this happy but barren ritual, mankind must
sink once more into an age-long sleep-walk, even as the ants and bees.
And so once more he chose out prophets to rouse men into a new
discontent.

In answer to this new call the human race once more bestirred itself.
Violently once more the moth's wings trembled for flight. And that it
might at last succeed, men now gave their main energies to perfecting
human nature for sensitivity, intelligence, loving and creating.

In due season a race of nobler human beings peopled the earth. They
saw with finer and more colourful vision, heard and smelt with more
than the dog's discrimination. Their touching was as delicate as the
bee's. With far-reaching and deep-probing intelligence they swept
aside the primitive concepts of their forefathers and fashioned a
whole new universe of ideas, adequate to their new experience. Their
own nature, too, was limpid to them. And in the subtlety of their
self-knowledge and their awareness of each other the spirit of Man
became more vital and more lucid. The new human race applied its
wisdom to the exploration of earth's sister planets, in search not of
power but of comradeship. In accordance with the exhortation of their
prophets, they looked for strange intelligences, alien in idiosyncrasy
but identical in underlying spirituality. With these they intended to
create a far-ranging community of worlds. But all their gallant
exploration revealed merely that man was alone in the solar system.
Neither on sultry Venus, where the air could not support life, nor on
cold, arid Mars, where life was but a patchwork of lowly vegetation,
nor on torrid Mercury nor great Jupiter, nor on any other planet did
men find intelligence. The spirit of Man, recalling that chill
discovery through his future memory, savours once more the loneliness
that assailed him. Looking outward from the remotest planet, men
wondered whether perhaps throughout all the starry blackness there lay
nowhere at all any peopled sphere but their own dear earth.

But the new mankind would not accept defeat. They set about the daring
task of producing, even from human stock, races adapted to live in
those desert planets. For such races, living in such different worlds,
would surely be so far different in body and mind from terrestrial man
that together the peopled planets would indeed create a new diversity
and depth of spiritual insight and community.

This was accordingly attempted. And after many centuries of millennia
the solar system became a commonwealth of  minded worlds, each
occupied by a race fitted to its peculiar conditions, and unviable
elsewhere. And the spirit of Man was the spirit identical in those
diverse populations. Thus Venus, habitable now in virtue of the oxygen
suspired by a specially bred vegetation, was the kindly home of a
humanity fashioned to her sultry climate. Mars, now gifted with an
enriched atmosphere, supported deep-chested giants who leapt and
climbed like gibbons in their little world. On massive Jupiter and
ringed Saturn pygmies with mighty thighs, and feet like pedestals,
held themselves with difficulty upright against the tug and pressure
of their planet, and fought the eternal cold with power from fractured
atoms. Even on far Uranus small fat-protected human creatures lived in
underground cities. Only the two outermost planets remained
uncolonized.

Each of the six worlds developed through the centuries its own
appropriate way of life, its own art and wisdom. Each was sufficient
to itself for life's necessities, but all shared the luxuries and the
art and wisdom of all. Conflict of will between the worlds was not
unknown; as when the Uranians demanded that the Terrestrials should
equip their Antarctic Continent to be a vast settlement for visiting
Uranians, who could live only in the most frigid terrestrial climate.
But since all these races, though so diverse, were loyal to the spirit
of Man, identical in them all, conflict, though often distressing, was
an enrichment.

It seems to the spirit of Man, exploring his future memory, that for a
million years or more the races of the solar planets perfected their
societies and embellished their cultures. But in the end they too,
like the original terrestrial mankind, reached stability, and entered
upon a long phase of ritual living.

The spirit of Man, now the mature spirit of six diverse worlds,
foresaw once more the creeping death that stagnation promised. Once
more he gazed outward toward the stars. All the psychical insight of
the six worlds had failed to make contact by any psychic technique
with any intelligence beyond the confines of the solar system. Though
men were always seemingly upon the brink of some great revolutionary
advancement in telepathic skill, they could never achieve it. And
physical contact with the few planets of the nearer stars seemed
impossible, so vast was the ocean of interstellar space. Every attempt
at communication, physical or psychical, proved utterly barren.

For ćons the six worlds continued their happy but stereotyped living.
Since every age was identical with every previous age, there was less
and less for the quick intelligence to do. And so it sank little by
little into coma. Science became a traditional mystery, art a dextrous
play on age-old conventions, personal relations a matter not of mutual
awareness but of formal manners; religion, once a crusade, became
merely a comfortable and seemly ritual.

The spirit of Man, like a spectator at a boring play, or a traveller
fallen into a snowdrift and struggling against the drowsiness that
preludes death, wrestled with the oncoming floods of sleep.

Meanwhile, for thousands and millions of terrestrial years the six
worlds continued their frustrated living. The day grew longer. The
moon, swinging outward from her parent, showed a smaller disc to
Earth's inhabitants; then, creeping slowly inwards age by age, our
satellite grew to a huge portent in the sky; until at last, under the
strain of the planet's gravitation, it broke into a million fragments
to form a bright Saturnian ring, which men saw henceforth as a
dazzling sunlit arch across the whole night sky. Meanwhile the sun
himself, squandering his energy, displayed a smaller disc.

And still the six world-peoples, like six sleep-walkers dancing hand
in hand, performed their endless ritual of living.

Ćon upon ćon this continued. The forms of the constellations changed.
One by one the older stars were dimmed, and then extinguished. And one
by one those that were still in their prime reached that crisis which
so many stars must in their season suffer. Blazing one by one with
fantastic effulgence for a few weeks, they then shrink into senility.

The six worlds knew that presently their sun must do likewise, and
engulf or sear his planets.

THE END OF MAN

Today, while the bells clang for victory, the spirit of Man recovers
from his future memory the temper of that age when expectation of the
final catastrophe first possessed the minds of all men. No way could
be devised to save the worlds from destruction. Little man could by no
means check the forces of an exploding star; nor harness them, nor
escape them. The six worlds, living under the shadow of annihilation,
changed their temper. And the spirit of Man at last threw off his
lethal drowsiness to face a mortal hurt, not in hope that it might be
averted, but to prepare himself for his end.

Throughout the six worlds all men and women faced the same urgency.
The exact date of the explosion was unpredictable, but it might now
occur at any moment, and certainly within a few centuries. For a while
the human peoples, self-disciplined to the spirit, debated anxiously
whether to commit mass suicide at once or to carry on their affairs in
contempt of the future. In the end they decided not to forestall the
disaster, not even to cease from procreating. For perhaps, after all,
the calculations were faulty, and a thousand years of decorous
civilization might still be possible. And even if, as seemed most
likely, the end must come within a century, they were determined to
meet it with full consciousness and with dignity. Let the children
still be born, even if they must soon be slaughtered. Let the spirit
of Man experience fully to the last possible moment. Let his vast
treasure of experience, gathered through so many ćons, be wholly
completed before it should be laid with reverence and awe at the feet
of the inscrutable Other.

And so for many centuries the six worlds lived on, expecting instant
death. During this time they were mainly concerned to explore by
psychical means the Spirit's relation to the Other, and their own
prospects in eternity. But their researches discovered nothing. The
Other, it seemed, was utterly indifferent to their fate.

Small wonder, then, that despair and savage rebellion against the dark
Other at last began to stir among the six world-peoples. The spirit of
Man in that last brief moment of his long life was racked once more by
conflict among his members. For in each world, though one party
remained faithful to the Spirit, another revolted. 'What is the good,
what the good', they cried, 'of continuing loyal to that Other, who is
utterly inaccessible and indifferent. And why should we persist in
service of the Spirit, a mere phantom that has after all no standing
in the cosmos, and is a mere figment of our own foolish minds. All the
generations, ever since Father Adam, have deceived themselves. We will
use our last centuries, or years or moments, solely to snatch
pleasure.' And so under the suspended sword they guzzled every joy
that their science could give them. And those upon Uranus, hoping
against hope that by some rare chance, or unforeseen eventuality, they
might be too far out from the sun to be caught within the actual
incandescence, burrowed frantically into the deep rock of their
planet, extending their subterranean cities, to escape the coming
heat.

But in every world a large number of those ultimate human beings
remained loyal to the Spirit. 'Though we alone', they said, 'in all
the cosmos may be the Spirit's vessels, and we so soon to vanish, yet
we are for the Spirit even to our last breath.'

The spirit of Man, though once more he was not master of all his
members, was absolute in many. Awake, as in no earlier moment of his
life, he saluted the Other, and prepared for the last agony, and
sleep.

The moth, the finished creature that had never flown, now faced its
death. And though despair threatened to paralyse its limbs once more,
the tremulous wings now beat with new power, beat bravely, beat with
the strength and rhythm almost of flight. But presently wings and
flesh and spirit must all be shattered, crushed by giant footfall.

On a certain day the sun's gathering energies, pent within his
shrinking surface, burst suddenly abroad. An expanding sphere of fire
welled outwards.

For a few hours the peoples of the six worlds were blinded by sheer
light. Then world by world they were engulfed in flame.

The spirit of Man, like the rear-gunner whom so long ago a moth had
kissed, was annihilated.

FIFTH INTERLUDE

THE HOUSE WITHOUT YOU

I have come home to an empty house. For three nights and three days it
will be without you.

It is the same house as ever, but so different; a hearth without a
fire, a lamp unlit, the score of a song that is not being sung. In the
dining-room, on your chair's back an old blue coat waits where you
left it. In the kitchen your gardening-gloves hang over the fire-
place, while the clock counts the seconds of your absence. In the
larder are the dishes you have cooked for me, to last till Friday. In
the bedroom, an ancient hair-brush and a crippled comb, scent bottles,
books that you never have time to read, and pamphlets, leaflets,
papers; and the bed, soon to be freighted on one side only.

The sooner I am asleep the better, for without you this place is not
home.

When you are here, it is the very stronghold of reality. The wind may
howl around it, but always vainly. True, a welter of phantoms is ever
surging against these walls, phantoms of war, social conflicts,
evolutionary forces; and, beyond all, the cold unknown. They are all
huge and formidable, and some of them must actually be dealt with; and
yet all of them, while you are here, are insubstantial, somehow
unreal. Even the bombs that shook the house (so that a particular
rattling door-handle always cows me) were somehow, for all their
screaming and blasting, not quite real.

But now, with you gone away, there is no light here to drive back the
invading shadows, no warmth to withstand the outer cold. The phantoms
have turned real. The wind's howl is frightening. The all too tangible
weight and pressure of a brute universe thrusts against these frail
walls. They sag inward, they crack and gape, revealing the driven
clouds, a war-sick planet, and the dying suns, gripped within the
eternity of the cold dark.

But on Friday when you come home, the lamp will be lit once more, the
song will be sung again, the ghosts will be laid. For the thing that
unites us, the spirit that comprises us as the sphere its hemispheres,
will be once more and indubitably the heart of reality.



CHAPTER VI THE COSMOS, AND BEYOND


THE COSMICAL COMMUNITY
LIFE AND DEATH OF THE COSMOS
THE SPIRIT AND THE OTHER


THE COSMICAL COMMUNITY

TODAY, while the bells clang for victory, the spirit of Man remembers
futurely the instant of his death. His vision, snatched between one
stroke and the next stroke of the bells, was just the vision that will
confront him in his future dying, now pre-cognized. With perplexity
and wonder he now in future memory reviews his dying. For in that
instant he, even as had happened to a certain rear-gunner ćons
earlier, was both destroyed and wakened.

In the very act of falling headlong into eternal sleep and
nothingness, the spirit of Man saw all his ages miraculously displayed
before him, from his conception in Father Adam to the destruction of
his six world-peoples. The many phases of his life were all present to
him, like a string of beads, various, each one variegated and darkly
translucent. Each obscurely revealed within itself depths of meaning
formerly hidden from him.

And in that instant of his annihilation, while he assessed each
movement of his life, he was anxiously aware that another being, not
his familiar self, was also judging; watching, as it were, over his
shoulder. This alien self, that was not his familiar self yet had
always been rooted in him, entangled in his every desire and thought
and act, but mainly impotent and tranced, seemed now fully awake, and
intent on extricating himself stage by stage from that prolonged
entanglement in merely human living. The spirit of Man in his last
moment yearned for continued life, and grieved over his ćons of drowsy
grub-hood, his tormenting stagnation in the chrysalis, his moth-
maturity, so full of promise and yet so marred and barren, and finally
his pointless slaughter; but the other self within him, the pure
spirit in him, regarded his tragedy and all his errors with
detachment. He cried, 'Not I, not I, that half-awakened, still self-
pitying, man-bound spirit! Too feebly and erringly he inspired and
ruled his members. No! He was not I. But I, I, what is it that I am?'

The spirit of Man, in the instant of his annihilation, feared, and yet
adored this newly awakened being within him, sprung seemingly from his
own spiritual substance, yet alien, lofty, and freed in his
annihilation.

Searching more closely his future memory of his end, the spirit of Man
recalls with human horror the slaughter of all his members, and his
own extinction. And with a surge of personal resentment he sees the
strange other self, that was seemingly not himself at all, triumph and
exult in his annihilation. But immediately, in the light of his own
miraculous vision from the foothills of eternity, both downward into
time and upward to eternity's high peak, horror and resentment fade.
He views his end with grave acquiescence, even with exaltation. Though
doomed to annihilation, he identifies himself with that alien
survivor. For that which died in his dying, though it was his own dear
self, was but the vessel, the shell, the husk of that which survived.
This at least the spirit of Man knows well, through his moment of
eternal vision.

For this he knows. In that far future moment of man's destruction he,
the spirit of six worlds, vanished into oblivion, experiencing no
further happenings at all. But that within him, which was not himself,
yet in some dark way more than himself, woke to its true nature; and
rediscovered itself to be the spirit not merely of Man's six worlds
but of a host of worlds, scattered throughout many galaxies of stars.
This ampler spirit had indeed all along been conscious in that many-
worlded host. To him, in his voluminous and many-worlded life, that
simple spirit of one planetary system, the lowly spirit of Man, had
been no more than one theme of dream-like yearning and thinking which
he performed, as it were, absent-mindedly, while his attention was
engaged with loftier matters.

The great company of worlds which together supported this high spirit
were great and small, young and old, sprinkled among the galaxies like
a few seeds adrift in the vast air.

These worlds were of two orders. Many, like the six human worlds, were
too lowly to enter into the single and lucid awareness of that great
spirit. Blindly, unwittingly, they contributed their part in the
conscious spirit of the whole, as cells and muscles and intestines
contribute unwittingly to the mind of a man. But other worlds, more
developed and lucid, were like the brain-cells that together are
conscious as the man's individual mind. These more lucid worlds,
though greatly diverse in idiosyncrasy, were all alike in that their
peoples had reached to psychic powers impossible to men. By
consciousness of their underlying psychical identity they kept in
touch with one another across the intervening spatial void. For in the
dimensions of the spirit no gulfs divided them. In the spirit they
were consciously together, they were one. Thus their worlds were
indeed the multiple brain of a cosmical spirit.

The concern of these awakened worlds (so it seems to the lowly spirit
of Man) was almost wholly with the life of the spirit. But of the
nature of the spirit's life on this high plane the lowly spirit of Man
perforce knows almost nothing, since his mentality is of a lowlier
order. This alone he knows: that the cosmical community of worlds like
all true spirit was intent on contemplation of all the sensuous and
spiritual subtlety of the cosmos, and chiefly the subtle mutual
awareness of personal beings of every order; intent also on creating
through ever new forms of art and philosophy and personal intercourse,
new modes of the spirit.

In this high common enterprise the lowly spirit of Man in his six
worlds had, of course, no conscious part whatever. For the human moth
had never dared to fly into that high psychic sphere where world-
peoples are consciously one spirit. Man seemingly was too lowly a
creature for such adventure. His function in the life of the whole was
seemingly no more than to contribute unwittingly to the ground-tone or
temper of the great cosmical spirit's life.

Or was his case more tragic? Perhaps Man was indeed potentially of the
sort to play a conscious part in the whole's life, but maybe he was so
crippled that he remained for ever impotent. Perhaps the six worlds
were by nature fit to enter consciously into the cosmical spirit, but
perhaps Man had been too grossly poisoned by some alien and hostile
influence ever to fulfil his true destiny. The moth was indeed
seemingly meant for flight, but its chronic disease had crippled it
beyond recovery.

And if this is indeed, as seems most likely, the truth about the six
human worlds, maybe it is the truth also about many other of the
abortive worlds up and down the galaxies. So at least it appears to
the spirit if Man, searching his future memory. For seemingly even the
great singular spirit of the cosmical community of worlds was himself
not wholly fulfilled. Seemingly he too was frustrated, crippled by the
widespread disease that frustrated so many of his members.

The spirit of Man obscurely remembers futurely the great diversity of
the many worlds and races of the cosmical community. Most were in a
way man-like, but some were of strange inhuman physique and mentality,
inhuman too in their modes of sensing and in their ways of life. Some
indeed were so alien that the spirit of Man, now sunk back to his
terrestrial status, recovers only an inarticulate feeling of them as
beings incomprehensible to man; as when, on waking, we try to
recapture a strange dream or nightmare, and can say of it only that no
words can describe it, no human thought conceive it. But some worlds,
glimpsed by the spirit of Man in a spate of shifting, fleeting, dream-
like vision, he can at least in outline seize. Of these, some were
strange spheres inhabited not by races of separate individuals at all
but by a continuous vital tissue spread over the whole world's
surface. Of the races of individuals, many were very alien to Man.
Some few there were whose native element was ocean; some were winged
creatures of the air who, by a strange tilt of fortune, had reached
and surpassed the human range of insight.

It seems to the spirit of Man, however, that most worlds of the
cosmical community were peopled by creatures man-like in general form.
Planets of the terrestrial type were the most kindly homes for life.
Though previously the spirit of Man had remembered futurely his own
future career continuously up to the moment of his annihilation, now,
confronted in memory with a host of man-like worlds, he half doubts
which of all these man-like races was in fact the race that he himself
had possessed. Was he indeed the spirit of those six worlds that
their sun had devoured? Or was he, after all, one of those other man-
like races, of better fortune, that had in the end become members of
the cosmical community? Or perhaps he was one of the many that had
never even emerged from the chrysalis; or one of those most
unfortunate spirits whose members had learnt too soon to rifle the
energies of the atom, before they had spiritually awakened to the
right use of power. Many such dangerous adolescent races his vision
now obscurely reveals. One at least wielded its destructive energy so
murderously in internecine warfare that its world became an unpeopled
desert. Some, using their power to remould their own biological nature
before they knew what was truly to be desired, rendered themselves
physically inviable, or simply insane. And not a few, ignorantly
tampering with mighty forces, burst their planets into whiffs of
asteroids.

The more the spirit of Man broods upon the host of worlds, the more he
doubts as to which of the many glimpsed man-like races was indeed his
own. Perhaps after all he had been resident in one of those few races
that had moved forward from strength to strength till in due season
they had learnt the art of exploring the whole cosmos by telepathy
and clairvoyance; one of those who had in due season played a
pioneering part in founding the cosmical community. He cannot tell.
But most probably, yes, almost certainly, he must be indeed the spirit
of those six lowly worlds, destroyed by fire.

LIFE AND DEATH OF THE COSMOS

The spirit of Man remembers that from his viewpoint on the foothills
of eternity he saw the birth and the death and the whole life of the
cosmos. He witnessed the first instant of cosmical time when the
creative fiat of the supreme Other issued in a spaceless point of
light, pregnant with all the energies of the future cosmos. But of the
fiat itself and of its source, he knows nothing. For even in his
eternal instant the peak was but a lofty whiteness scarred with
precipices, glimpsed fitfully beyond the high white clouds. But well
he remembers how, from the inscrutable fiat, space and time and all
physical energy and finite spiritual potency gushed forth.

From that first moment of cosmical time the expanding gas-cloud
swelled and swelled, and presently disintegrated into cloudlets. These
in turn, whirling and flattening and trailing spiral streamers,
crumbled into stars. And here and there, a flying whirlpool of
primeval power collided with some star and tore from its substance the
material for future planets. And here and there among these new worlds
sprang life; and here and there, spirit.

One by one the galaxies matured. More and more of the minded worlds
made psychic contact with each other across the deserts of space; or
rather they probed psychically down into their own nature till they
reached their hidden unity of spirit. And in their diversity, and
their underlying identity of spirit, the cosmical community grew ever
richer in experience and more single in purpose. And in this
singleness and richness awoke the spirit of this many-galaxied
universe, this cosmos. For the spirit of this cosmos was simply the
identity of experience and of will presiding in all this rich
diversity; and it precariously commanded allegiance through all
conflict. Again and again there was bitter inter-mundane strife in
which the weapons were not physical but psychical. The antagonists,
separated by impassable tracts of space, could none the less destroy
each other's minds by direct psychic impact of mind on mind, or
disintegrate one another's hard-won community by subtle dissemination
of psychic poison among the minds of the enemy world. The causes of
this cosmical strife lay always in discord about the way in which the
community of worlds could best fulfil its destiny as the vessel of
spirit. These wars were all religious wars. The casualties were worlds
poisoned beyond recovery, derelicts of spirit.

It seems to the lowly spirit of Man, recalling his high vision, that
although again and again such conflicts tortured the cosmical
community, and though many a noble world was lost by sheer
misadventure, yet as the ćons passed the cosmical community gained
concord and strength. Its member worlds became more and more intent
upon their common purpose. And this common purpose, so it seems to the
lowly spirit of Man, was the will that every individual life in all
those diverse worlds should be a theme of rich and true experience and
of spiritual creating; and that each individual should be knit
inwardly by sensitive love into the lives of some few diverse others,
and by far-flung threads of comradeship into the whole life of his
world, and of the cosmical community; and that the cosmical spirit
should preside unquestioned in every mind, and be the single
experience of the whole cosmical community, fulfilled in knowledge and
in love.

But the life of the cosmos could not last for ever. Even as each
minded world, each man and woman, each little fly and moth, must in
its season die, so also must the great spirit of a cosmos.

Already the myriad beings of the cosmos foresaw the cosmical death.
The physical energies of the cosmos were constantly dissipated. Star
after star was extinguished, like a spark drifting on the wind. World
after world was compelled to maintain its heat and life artificially
by the disintegration of the atoms of its planet's rock. Race after
race was forced to refashion itself eugenically for life not on a
planet but on the cooled surface of its former sun. After ćons beyond
computation, the cosmos became a dark waste with here and there a few
sparks of artificial light, where the races of intelligent beings
still struggled to keep alive, and to maintain the cosmical spirit in
full lucidity until the end. The dying community of the cosmos,
indeed, now planned its fading life for one unshakable purpose. So
long as the races could still maintain the cosmical spirit in full
lucidity they would live on, to gain for the spirit the last possible
wealth of experience. But when at last they were faced with inevitable
degeneration, then one by one the races would destroy themselves. For
it was the constant will of the cosmical beings that the cosmical
spirit should die not inch by inch but in full lucidity. Ever since
the first intelligences in the first of all the worlds had first
become vessels of the cosmical spirit, they had also yearned with fear
and adoration toward the dark Other, the cosmical spirit's alleged
creator. But not till the cosmical spirit should be fully grown in
beauty and in wisdom and in the power to love, could he (or she, for
all spirits of composite growth must needs be hermaphrodite) be ripe
to know the Other.

In the last days of the cosmos, the spirit of the cosmos longed
impatiently to meet her unseen lover, knowing nothing of him but that
she had great need of him. And she had strong faith that he too needed
her. But the issue of her death was not to be as she had expected.

THE SPIRIT AND THE OTHER

To the spirit of Man upon the foothills of eternity it seemed that,
long before this physical cosmos had sunk into the death of ultimate
darkness and cold and stillness, the cosmical spirit died utterly; but
that in her annihilation the essence in her, which was indeed the
single and essential and universal Spirit, survived; and that the
Spirit disentangled itself (or himself or herself) from the dying
idiosyncrasy of this cosmos, and came into her own as indeed the very
Spirit, identical in all the innumerable spheres of created being, of
which our cosmos is but one.

Of those alien spheres of created being the spirit of Man, searching
his brief vision of eternity, recovers nothing but the vague
conviction that such alien spheres did indeed exist, and that to
beings nurtured in this cosmos they must be for ever inconceivable. He
knows merely that they are wholly disconnected with this cosmos, save
in the experience of the Spirit which is identical in them all; and
that in each one of them, as in this cosmos, the Spirit strives
constantly to wake into wisdom and love and universal community and
further creating.

Obscurely it appears to the lowly spirit of Man, recalling his vision
of eternity, that the spirit of each cosmos, at some moment of its
cosmical time, dies; and that the single and universal Spirit,
disentangling herself from all these deaths, preserves in her own
singular awareness the whole treasure of experience conceived in each
cosmos.

Obscurely it appears to him that the universal Spirit, beautiful with
all the beauty of every cosmos, yearns for communion with the dark
Other, her creator. For in this union of the creature and the creator
love surely is fulfilled.

But the lowly spirit of Man, peering from eternity's foothills, sees
only that the universal Spirit, fulfilled with the beauty of all
spheres of created being, dies, and, whether in that ultimate death
she, like all lesser spirits, is annihilated so that a loftier spirit
may strike free; or whether, dying, she swoons into blissful union
with her creator; or whether, even for her, the dark Other remains
utterly inscrutable and inaccessible, the lowly spirit of Man cannot
know.

SIXTH INTERLUDE

THE BROKEN TOY

When the dearest, friendliest toy was broken, and the desperate child
ran to you weeping, your whole will was to console. Let the world
wait, the telephone ring unanswered, the train be missed. Nothing,
sublunary or celestial, must come between you and the soothing of this
grief. With kisses, hugs, exhortations for courage, and slyly
intruding jokes, oh soften the tragedy, and rouse at last a wan,
reluctant, ludicrous, watery smile!

Or perhaps you would say, 'Let's see if Daddy can mend poor Jumbo'.
Then I, feebly rebellious, but mastered by the urgency in tearful
eyes, and the sight of your tenderness, would set about clumsy
surgery, so that Jumbo might return to the loving arms, patched,
maimed or squinting, but more or less himself.

This passion of tenderness, which blazed in the child for the toy, in
you for the child, sprang (so my heart confidently affirmed) from the
heart of the cosmos.

But the perennial slaughter of the innocents? And Hitler's gospel? And
the stern law of entropy?

The comforted child beamed on mended Jumbo, and you on the child.



CHAPTER VII SALVATION


THE SPIRIT OF MAN GRIEVES FOR MAN
THE REAR-GUNNER, AND OTHERS


THE SPIRIT OF MAN GRIEVES FOR MEN

THE Spirit of Man is daunted by his station on the middle heights of
the great hierarchy of being. Above him rise range upon range of
spirits, up to the universal Spirit; and beyond, even beyond the very
Spirit whose essence is intelligence and love and gallant creating,
towers the veiled, the inconceivable Other.

The spirit of Man is daunted by the knowledge that he himself, like
men and women, must in due season die. And yet, contemplating his
death, he finds full peace in the expectation that his life must give
some slight enrichment to loftier beings than himself, and finally to
the very Spirit.

But then, looking downward upon the myriad little individuals alive or
dead, on earth and on the host of worlds, he sees that very few of
them are capable of that peace; so fettered is each one to his own
individuality, fearing extinction as a child the dark. Compassion
stabs the spirit of Man on account of the littleness, the
helplessness, the cruel frustration and torment, of the swarms of
these minute abortively personal beings.

Hot protest surges suddenly in him against the Other, who seemingly
permits this misery.

But then, remembering the glimpsed high peak of being, the cold, the
fair, the dread, he whispers in his own heart, 'Thou! Oh, Thou! Your
little short-lived creature scorns to judge you. And yet--could I but
see, but feel, your will's rightness! But Thou! Were I to condemn, yet
must I adore.'

And now a thought dawns on his mind's darkness, a thought about his
own experienced salvation, and so about the salvation of all spirits.
'There is nothing positive,' he says, 'nothing essential in me at all
save the universal Spirit herself, deprived in me of all her nature
but the little part that can find expression within the cramping
limits of humanity. In my dying she, who is more I than I myself,
strikes free. And in her freeing I (so says my recent vision) find
completeness. What dies in my death, dies utterly; but what survives
is utterly fulfilled in the untrammelled Spirit. And further, in that
vision of my future death, did I not see myself in death's instant re-
live my whole terrestrial life, watching it with new eyes from the
high foothills of eternity? Did I not see my sorrows and my shames, my
errors and my hounding remorse, all transfigured, all duly placed as
features within the grave and lovely pattern of the cosmos. And if
this is so for me, is it not so also for all the lesser spirits, even
to men and women, even to dogs and lizards, trees and moulds and the
disease bacteria; even to the ultimate sparks of spirit within each
atom? When death annihilates them, the spirit in them strikes free and
climbs the heights of being, to waken fully as the universal Spirit.
And will not she, each time this happens, she whose very essence is
love, lovingly look back upon those little lives, and in compassion
re-create those little spirits for a while within her vastness, so
that each may see its little life transfigured in the pattern of
eternity. And then will not each little re-created spirit, having
found this fulness and salvation, gladly sleep again for ever? In each
of them what utterly dies is his separateness and his blindness. If
this is "he", then "he" is indeed destroyed; but if "he" is that alien
who wakes in his dying, then "he" it is who rises to the very
foothills of eternity, and sees his little earthly life
transfigured.'

Surmising in this way about the lowlier spirits, the spirit of Man
recovers peace of mind. For if this thought be true all, even to the
least, find a salvation more blissful than any that any of them could
have the wit to conceive.

But now the spirit of Man finds his new peace still precarious. For
once more he remembers the dread, though worship-compelling, Other.
And once more doubting, he fears once more for the salvation of his
fellow spirits; so uncaring seems the Other, so unresponsive, so
heartless. Yet, fearing, the spirit of Man still adores. For the very
Spirit herself, in her extremity of death and loneliness, still
adores. 'And so', he cries, 'must all the lesser spirits too, when
they are re-created within the very Spirit. Their salvation is
assured.'

The spirit of Man's mood changes. Brooding on the terrestrial lives of
men and women and their ineluctable moulding by brute circumstance and
blind historical forces, he loses all sense of the Other. The strange
intoxication leaves him. And at last he complains, 'The Other? What
Other is there but the blind idiot, Fate, or the quite unworshipful
outer darkness, the thoughtless void?'

His fog-bound mind stands paralysed.

But once more his mood changes. 'At least,' he cries, 'if the Other is
a mere projection of my own desire and fear, still there is the
Spirit, the indubitable Spirit; in me, and men, and all the worlds.
And to the Spirit I shall be loyal without reserve.'

The spirit of Man prays to the very Spirit, 'Possess me wholly! Let me
be the filled vessel, the perfected instrument! Give me the heart, the
wit, the imagination, to serve effectively in your cosmical war
against the darkness, and the void, and idiot Fate!'

But no sooner has he prayed, than, seemingly in unlooked-for answer to
his prayer, he is seized again by the irresistible presence of the
Other; so that he can only whisper, 'Thou! Oh, Thou!'

THE REAR-GUNNER, AND OTHERS

The spirit of Man, brooding still on his vision, conceives how each of
the lowly spirits might be re-created in the vastness of the Spirit;
for it still seems to him that the infinite tenderness of the
universal Spirit toward every kind of personal being must impel her to
this high act of love, this reawakening of all lesser finite spirits
to receive salvation and then the ultimate bliss of sleep.

The rear-gunner of that aircraft in which a moth had fluttered, must
surely have found salvation. He who had been destroyed with all that
crew, he who had died and wakened to be the crew's spirit, and then
the spirit of the killed in a certain battle, and then the spirit of
Man, and then of this whole cosmos, and then at last the very Spirit
herself, yearning toward the Other, even he found salvation. And the
salvation that he found was not merely the vicarious salvation of
dying that nobler spirit might in his death strike free. For out of
the charity of the universal Spirit the minute annihilated spirit of
the rear-gunner was re-formed for a while within the vastness of the
universal Spirit.

The rear-gunner reverted to his little earthly life and death, but
with confused knowledge of the past and future of mankind, and of a
host of worlds, and of eternity's foothills, and of the glimpsed high
peak of being.

'When I was imprisoned', he mused, 'in that aircraft, and in the
somnolent nature of that boy, how dark and cheerless was my prison!
Peering through the bars, I saw nothing but man's harshness and the
indifferent stars. How forlornly, over the narrow sea, I strained for
courage! When the moth touched me to longing and self-pity, how near I
was to breaking! And how fantastic, ludicrous, and how phantasmal, was
that whole little universe that I had spun round myself, cocoon-wise,
conceiving it to be no fiction but the huge and harsh reality! Yes,
and my poor muddled, self-bound attempt at loving, so blind, so
desperately astray from love's true course! But now at last I have
lived, and truly loved. I have loved beauty in a host of worlds. Even
on little Earth I have loved so much, and in a thousand veins. I have
loved Helen and Cleopatra, and others as lovely and more lovable. I
have praised with Dante his Beatrice. And I have fully known what in
my lifetime was denied me utterly, the marriage of true minds, and a
lifetime's deepening harmony. Yes, and I have listened to Socrates in
Athens, and comprehended fully the wisdom of Gautama. I have walked
with Jesus in the cornfields. And though now, once more limited by my
human littleness, I can but vaguely conceive the glories that I have
experienced, yet I know that I have indeed delighted in all
terrestrial and all cosmical beauty, all human and all cosmical
goodness. I have weighed all such thought as lies within the range of
any finite spirit. Wakened far beyond the dim lucidity of Man, I have
admired the high social beauty of the Cosmical Republic, and served it
in the gallant lives of its many citizens. And in the death of the
cosmos I have wakened as the universal Spirit. And then I, the very
Spirit, looking back with compassion at me, the martyred boy, have re-
created him that he may find salvation. And I, the boy, have seen my
little irksome and meaningless earthly life woven into the glorious
pattern of cosmical being; and there transfigured. But also, as the
universal Spirit, I have fluttered papery wings against the shut
window of the ultimate prison, vainly yearning toward the Other. I
have participated in the Spirit's death. Beyond that, all is darkness,
not of desolation, surely, but of mystery. And now I, who was a boy
killed in battle, am reconciled to that frustration of my earthly
self, and even to the Spirit's ultimate death. Little I, dying into
the greatest I, have found salvation. And now I, that boy, desire for
my little self nothing but sleep, dissolution in the vastness of the
Spirit. And I, the very Spirit, though I too must die, and shall not
within the whole span of time find union with the Other, have found
salvation. For my beauty will be perfected for him, to take or to
destroy.'

Thus the rear-gunner, who was killed in company with his six
companions and with a moth, found his salvation. And then in peace he
sank into eternal sleep.

The revolutionary engineer of that aircraft crew also had his
reawakening. 'When I was imprisoned,’ he said, 'in that eager boy, I
really believed that the millennium was at hand, and that it would be
won by such as I, and that it would be simply a world-wide Terrestrial
Soviet Republic. But now, after how many stages of my post-mortal
growth and grim remaking, I know better. How often have I been forced
to watch the Revolution thwarted, even on the Earth! And in the end I
have seen its long-belated triumph on that planet turn stale and
lethal through sheer stagnation. I have seen the same in world after
world. But also I have watched the founding of the great Cosmical
Republic, and its glory, and its final death. On Earth and in a swarm
of worlds I have entered into the many ways of life which that boy
could not conceive, or which he noted only to condemn them as
irrelevant to the Revolution. I have gauged all the subtle flavours of
personality, human and non-human. I have been remade by the great
arts, and by careful philosophy. I who was that boy was very ruthless,
very blind; but I did, according to my dim light, see and serve
mankind's immediate need. And now, I who was so restless have found
peace. I who was so hot a champion of man's fulfilment, and even (all
unwittingly) of the Spirit's triumph, I, who was so fierce a rebel
against the power of tyrants, have accepted man's frustration and the
Spirit's ultimate death at the hands seemingly of the tyrant Other.
Strange that I, who so cherished man and scorned religion, should now
worship not only the universal Spirit but the tyrant Other; who, if he
exists, is seemingly indifferent to our prayers and to our worship.
Perhaps he is no more than a figment of our craving. Then, at least
how glorious a craving! But the Spirit is no figment. And in the
Spirit, I, who was once a rash boy, but have travelled so far and
learnt so much, have seen my little earthly life transfigured. And
now, all my desire for this poor human self is sleep, dissolution in
the Spirit. And what if she too in her death must be dissolved in
sleep before the mighty Other will take her?'

Thereupon, the re-created spirit of that boy slept.

The saint in a war-tortured city woke again within the vastness of the
Spirit. 'How very strange,' she mused, 'how surprisingly different
from my expectation has death been, and how much more wonderful! At
first it seemed that I was lifted straight to full communion with thy
God, such bliss enfolded me. It was no merely private bliss; for I
felt that in this heaven all my friends were equally included, my
neighbour the plumber who was so good to me, the pale mother whose boy
was killed (but in that heaven she found him), the Jew I saved from
the police, the prostitute who nursed me through my sickness, all
these and all other good-hearted people shared, it seemed, that bliss.
Yes, and all sinners too, it seemed, were remade and brought into that
heaven. But I did not long remain in static ecstasy. Things were
happening round me, things never dreamed of in my simple faith. The
gulfs of history opened before me, and the future, and all the hosts
of living worlds, and the incredible diversity of spirit in them all.
And most strangely the God who had gathered me to himself, who had
wakened me to his vastness and perfection, who was indeed the
universal Spirit in us all, seemed most perplexingly to be after all a
finite, a created spirit. And beyond him loomed that dread Other, whom
in all my earthly days I had feared; and so denied, affirming always
that the very Creator himself was love, and that beyond him there was
nothing. But now my own past longing for my God of love was
transformed into the yearning of the universal Spirit for that Other,
the dread, the hidden, the frosty-fair, the source and crown of all
things. Him, whether he be love or wholly inconceivable, I needs must
worship. The Spirit, his creature, grows in loveliness, and prepares
herself to be his bride. Yet he remains ever unseen and unresponsive.
At last she dies. And then? Does he perhaps destroy the perfected
creature that he has killed; or does she wake into eternity, and in
his unveiled presence; and in joy of mutual love are they two made
one? However stern her fate, she gladly welcomes it, because he wills
it. And so she has salvation. And I too, who am at once she and this
little earthly self re-created in her vastness, have salvation. Seeing
my little life transfigured, I crave nothing now but sleep. And she
too, the very Spirit, whether her fate be slow death and then absolute
sleep or inconceivable eternal life, has peace.'

And so the saint who died in the tormented City slept.

There also died the false prophet of the fallen empire. In the instant
of his death, as in all deaths, the little mundane self was confronted
with a newly awakened, alien self, who now scrutinized and weighed the
dark and blood-stained rosary of his life's days. 'Not I,' he cried,
'it could not have been I, who poisoned the minds of millions with
false reasoning, and their hearts with false values. Not I glorified
might and cruelty and lying. And oh, it was not I but some devil in me
that tortured so many sensitive creatures in my rage for power.' But
the mundane self of the false prophet, in the instant of his
annihilation, protested, 'It was in loathing of their canting
gentleness that I praised might and cruelty, and in hate of their
canting truth that I praised falsehood. And it was on a people who
craved my discipline and my inspiration that I imposed my will. I was
the high instrument of fate. But in the end fate betrayed me.' The
false prophet's new and alien self replied, 'An instrument of fate,
but no less a traitor to the Spirit, which in my youth I vaguely knew,
like all men. Then stage by stage, and wilfully, I misconceived it,
until at last I gloried in the part of Antichrist. I played with men's
fears and hates and bloodlust, till in the end fate, far from
betraying me, did indeed deal justly with me. But "me", "I"? Surely
that evil pervert was not I. For I am pledged wholly to the Spirit.
And though for that creature's sins I must pay, perhaps in an eternity
of torment, yet I praise whole-heartedly, ungrudgingly, the Spirit.'

The being that had awakened in the false prophet's death had much to
learn; for, though his will was clean, he was still deeply entangled
in the ignorance and falsehood and false values of his earthly self.
But after his agony of remorse had spent itself, and after many
torturing stages of remaking under the stern pressure of the new-learnt
truth about mankind, he woke at last, as all men wake, to find himself
the very spirit of Man, and then the cosmical spirit, and finally the
universal Spirit herself, yearning toward the Other.

But presently, within the vastness of the Spirit the little earthly
self of the false prophet was re-created for a while. Wise with the
Spirit's wisdom, he looked down on his little earthly life, and
sighed. 'I did great evil,' he mused, 'epoch-making evil. Of my own
will I wickedly did it. The currents of that little world's events
fatally combined with my own weak vision and self-importance and
frustration to drag me down into that life of horror. But now, having
indeed suffered my purgatory, I am remade. And now I see my little
hateful self no longer hateful, but transfigured. The agony of shame
and guilt is passed. Now, looking back, I would not change that life.
I would not have it otherwise. My evil, though in me utterly evil, was
a needed feature of the whole's form. Someone had to play that part.
And so I, even I, who was so wicked, find salvation. And now, what
more can I desire for my earthly self but sleep?'

The spirit of Man, contemplating such possibilities of individual
salvation, reminds himself that these thoughts are his own mind's
figments. 'Can they,', he wonders, 'be indeed veridical, or are they
sheer fantasy? And if they are true, is not all well with the world?'
Listening in the depth of his own being, he strains for some clear
answer. No answer comes but silence. And for his own part he knows
that he has outgrown the need for any such consolation. Strange peace
possesses him. He whispers in his own being's depth, 'Oh, Thou, Thou!
So be it!'

SEVENTH INTERLUDE

GROWING OLD IN SPRING-TIME

Larks are singing their way up airy ladders, peewits rapturously
tumbling down them. The gorse is gay. Our rhubarb, lusty and rude,
spreads great palms to grab the light. Young potato-shoots sketchily
rule dotted lines across the beds. Your early peas are shoving their
little green noses up through the earth; and in the frame your cabbage
seedlings, in huddled queues, await their turn for ampler and more
dangerous living. On the hawthorn's sheltered side a foam of blossom
is spreading. In the field an immense concourse of oat-seedlings, a
mighty youth-movement, uniformed in green, hales the sun with up-
stretched arms.

Spring is painting the earth's old face young again, is actually
rejuvenating her.

Even we, the ageing gardeners, are sun-warmed with an illusion of
youthfulness. When the cuckoo calls, we pause for a moment in our
weeding, our digging; to listen, and exchange smiles. But our backs
are stiff with stooping, our muscles too quickly tire. Old eyes,
unaided, can scarcely tell a chaffinch from a linnet.

We too, once upon a time, were part of the spring. But now our season
is autumn. There will come an April when we shall be as out of place
as a pile of last year's potato haulms that no one has had time to
burn.

Growing old is of course tiresome, yet in a way illuminating. Though
the body's ecstasies begin to fade, yet somehow they have an added, a
strange and solemn significance, like holy rites long practised yet
ever fresh. The mind too is ageing. Already, though as yet almost
imperceptibly, it begins to lose its grip. Memories will not promptly
come when called. Or they crowd in unwanted, confusing thought.
Exasperation is too easily roused. Danger, pain, and all harsh change
of circumstance become more daunting, because the strength to cope
with them is hard to summon. Youth's gift of sudden and reshaping
insight comes no more. And the future, unless by accident or design my
life is cut short, will bring sheer dotage. Strange, how little it
disturbs me that I, who am interested most in Man and the cosmos,
shall fall away from the adult mentality and lapse into the second
childhood! The high themes will be too much for me. I shall finger my
memories in public and repeat my anecdotes. (And you, who are the
younger, with what patience and gentleness you will correct me!) A
little later my feeble craving will be only for warmth and sleep and
such food as I can digest. And then I shall be a burden; to myself, to
you, and to the young. It is no sunny prospect. Yet, seen in its whole
setting, it becomes an acceptable though a sombre detail.

And short of dotage, life's autumn has its own glory, unconceived in
youth. Young, I was a mere bubble of ego, and the universe was no more
than a close filmy skin containing me; old, I am reduced almost to a
point, but a sentient point, upon which a vast reality, depth beyond
depth, is focussed. In a way I am at once dimensionless yet also
infinite. I am almost nothing, yet I include a panoramic aspect of the
infinity beyond me. The view is, of course, fragmentary, and must be
largely false; but it presents itself to me as a subtle, a far-flung,
a dread but lovely universe.

The dying fires of my body, and the cravings of this withering ego,
seem now so unimportant, so dwarfed by the urgent needs of a whole
tumultuous human world, and by the imagined potentiality of the myriad
stars, and the unseen yet ever darkly present majesty beyond the
heavens. The failing body still clings to life, still clamours for
such delights as it can still achieve. And all too often I still
succumb to its unruly greeds or fears, false to the outer reality and
the central spirit that possesses me. The withering self still craves
security, immortality, and even the trappings of dignity; but
shamefacedly, with self-ridicule. Though all too often I conduct
myself slavishly, I am no longer enslaved. Increasingly I identify
myself not with those cravings but with the great outer reality and
the central spirit. When the body dies, and I myself, may be, sink
into eternal sleep, I shall have lost so little. For the cosmos will
go on; and the spirit, in innumerable other centres, will go on. In
losing this infinitesimal 'me', I lose, after all, nothing.

Further, in ageing, in this slow withering away of cherished delights
and vaunted powers, there is a kind of purgation, as though in
readiness for some grave impending event. The victim is being shorn
and cleansed in preparation for the altar. But the universal spirit
that inwardly possessed him is now slowly discarding the
idiosyncrasies of this outworn individual, is now stretching long-
cramped wings, impatient for flight.

Those dear delights, those modest powers, all that is the cherished
me, I willingly let go. Others will repeat them, and some more
splendidly. For me, when this tiresome ageing is fulfilled, the
welcome end is sleep.

But you? But we? The fair thing that has awakened in us, must that too
sleep for ever? Or does it, since its essence is of the spirit, strike
free?



CHAPTER VIII HERE AND NOW

THE vision which the spirit of Man has laboured to recapture fades
even from memory. Bells and trumpets conquer it under their loud
cataract. Nothing more is to be recovered of the reality that faced
the spirit of Man in his instant of eternity.

Reality? Was it indeed reality or a dream, a figment of his own
sickness?

Strange that the whole vast panorama of time and of eternity, recently
so actual, should now have paled into the mere memory of a dispelled
hallucination! Like a snowflake dropped in water, it has melted,
vanished. The warm present has dissolved it. Vainly now the spirit of
Man thrusts his sight against the fog-wall. He cannot pierce it.
Eternity is once more infinitely remote; and inconceivable, just an
empty word. The vista of the future ćons is mere fantasy. Even
tomorrow, lying one little pace ahead, lies hidden.

Yielding to the present's insistent clamour, the spirit of Man
observes today's mankind. Can men, he wonders, rise beyond themselves
in this great moment? Oh that they may falsify the recent tragic
vision, and at one bound cross the Rubicon that has so long restrained
them! But are they the stuff for such a venture? Has their recent
world-wide agony strengthened or weakened them? Has suffering purged
or broken them? Will the moth now burst its chrysalis bonds, or is it
poisoned at last fatally?

The spirit of Man perceives that the swarms of men are in unison at
least in their will for peace, for a long respite from war's strain
and horror; but lust for vengeance and fear of retribution force them
into sharp discordancy; and equally the will for power and glory
opposes itself to the passion to end all tyranny. And if men crave
peace, it is less for love's sake than for fear's. Over the prostrate
enemy the victors grasp comradely hands; but gauge each other with a
wary eye. In all the celebrant cities the crowds are drunk with music
and with impatient hope; but here and there a sober and a silent
watcher is chilled with doubt.

Recently the conquered peoples, freed one by one, had blessed their
liberators with flowers and wine and kisses; then, one by one
disillusioned, they had cooled, or even turned futile arms against
their new conquerors. For these victors, intent on order, on repairing
the world's crushed tissues, had not been tender to the unruly germs
of the new world-creature, whose strange, unlovely, foetal shape
repels all those who cannot read its promise. Order, the victors
conceived too simply, in an outworn pattern. Their touch, blindly
healing, had favoured not the moth's unfinished shaping but the
dissolute organs of the grub; not the new, the wakening Man, but the
old sleep-walker.

So it seems to the anxious spirit of Man, watching through his many
eyes his own tortured flesh. Wherever war has passed, and where the
tyrant armies have withdrawn from their untenable conquests, and ebbed
back towards their central stronghome, desolation lies in the wake of
the retreating flood. Fields are barren; for the young men were taken
away to be work-slaves in the enemy lands. Villages, if not wrecked
and burned for vengeance, are starving, their food-stores rifled.
Cities are crippled or utterly destroyed, their machinery smashed or
stolen. And everywhere the human creatures, harshly moulded by years
of warfare or years of oppression or years of vain though supremely
brave secret resistance to the foreign tyrant, are now too familiar
with harshness, are unserene, are tinder to every spark. Marred by
hunger, by uncared-for sickness, by respiteless fear or sudden terror,
by impotent hate or outraged love, they are gaunt and deadly tired;
are listless, and yet quick to puerile or senile passion, whether of
friendliness or loathing, impulsive gratitude or spite. Too long one
sole crude need has grimly ruled these conquered; ruled all of them
save the heroic resisters; the need not for God, or the soul's
salvation, nor for mankind's liberation, nor even for the rescue of
their country, but just for food and clothing, a bare pittance,
endlessly sought and never adequate. For this, and for avoidance of
the conqueror's harshness, they have daily schemed and ventured.
Strange that, in spite of all, some had found time and strength to
work for a happier future, to fan courage and hope through secret
newspapers and radio, and with the example of their own heroism.

But later, when the foul tide had ebbed, and the first liberations had
been celebrated, still the martyred and bewildered peoples starved.
For the unfinished war still claimed the ships, the trains, the
lorries. And because of their continued misery, and because the men of
money were seen to be creeping back into power, some bitter voices
affirmed that liberation had proved a mockery. And then, because these
unhappy peoples were all overwrought with suffering, they snatched up
once more guerrilla weapons, and so provoked their liberator-
conquerors to harshness.

What new mentality, the spirit of Man wonders, what new temper,
savage, and maddened by suffering, or perhaps by very suffering purged
and kindled to ruthless, piercing insight, will presently blaze from
this tormented continent?

The plight of the liberated, though severe, is more easily to be borne
than the ruin of the defeated enemy. For not only have they suffered
war's extreme ravage but also the curse of all their victims is upon
them. Yet, by nature not inhuman, they have bowels and brains as prone
to gentleness as any other people's, and no more prone to devilry. Un-
toward circumstance has savaged them, as a horse by brutal treatment
is turned vicious. And so this proud perverted nation, too faithful to
their false prophet, must now suffer for the evil that they did in the
prophet's name. For now the newly liberated peoples are hot for
vengeance. Hateful vengeance, masquerading as justice or security,
demands its due. Kill! Kill the war-criminals, who founded the
concentration camps, who tore off finger-nails, who beat sensitive
flesh to pulp or slowly burnt it, who cut off women's breasts and
crushed men's testicles, who tortured children before the eyes of
their parents, to force betrayal. At last they shall pay in their own
suffering, even to the least of petty officials who carried out the
commanded brutality. And for the masses, if it is not practicable or
politic to slaughter all those millions, at least their war power must
be utterly and for ever destroyed. Seize or smash their vast
machinery, seal up their mines, divide their land among the victors,
brand them all as criminals, use the skilled and unskilled workers all
as slaves to make good the huge damage in all the lands that they
overran! Twice in a generation their barbaric power-lust brought the
world to war. Now at last the penalty! Already the slow lava-flood of
conquest has seared their fields, trampled their villages and cities,
devoured their young men and women. And now, from the east westwards,
and from the west eastwards, fleeing populations have poured into the
constricted heart of their country, like beasts before a forest fire.

Their armies were pushed back until all resistance broke. Today the
victors meet.

Today, while in all other lands the bells rejoice, in one ruined
metropolis they are silent. And silent crowds line the streets,
watching the armed procession of invaders, and awaiting retribution.
But some eagerly cheer. Formerly secret resisters to the fallen
tyranny, now at last they are freely vocal. Others, changing their
allegiance with the change of wind, give tongue in loud false
welcomes.

The spirit of Man, peering through the sombre minds of those defeated
citizens, reviews their plight with horror and with pity. He blames
them, of course, for their past betrayal of the Spirit; as he blames
all men, and blames himself, for inveterate frailty and perversity.
But he knows, what the victors fear to recognize, that a great part of
this distracted people secretly loathed and condemned the prophet and
his tyranny, but dared not speak against it, since to murmur was to
court inhuman punishment. He knows too that thousands were not
deterred even by this threat. They accepted harsh imprisonment,
disease, torture, mental ruin and finally slaughter, rather than keep
silent. These he salutes as the noblest of his members. And this whole
tragic people he now chiefly pities for their desolation, and for the
vengeance that the indignant, the short-sighted victors prepare for
them.

During the final agony of the city's resistance, government broke
down, order vanished. The city's population, formerly so disciplined,
became a rabble of desperate and lawless individualists. But no! For
even in this chaos friends could still be loyal to friends, mothers
were still faithful to their children, lovers to one another. In their
extremity these citizens manifested not only their worst but also
their best. Here and there, after long oblivion, they rediscovered
their best. For they were human. And what extremity, what unsurpassed
calamity was theirs! Their honeycomb of dwellings all trodden down,
they sheltered in the wreckage, defending their chosen crannies
against the swarming homeless creatures from east and west; and from
the escaped slaves, imported toilers from the conquered lands, now
breaking free, and waging their own private savage war of vengeance
against the citizens. Famished prowlers attacked each other for scraps
of food, or banded themselves together to storm the stores,
overpowering the police. The sick and the dying lay untended among the
ruins. For the emaciated bodies of these once proud citizens could not
resist the plagues that swept through the city; and the dead were too
many to be removed.

But now at last the war is over. The sirens cry no more. Overhead ten
thousand aircraft of the victors circle and stream, displaying power.

With horror and foreboding the spirit of Man searches the minds of
these distressful citizens, and their compatriots up and down that
ruined land. What part will they play in the new world, a world
balanced on the knife-edge between hope and despair, a world in which
the neurotic mentality will be tinder for every spark of discord? The
elder and the gentler citizens, who for so long dared not even whisper
their yearning for a long-lost and happier city and a kindlier nation,
now openly praise those times; though they themselves by acquiescence
had helped to murder the old order and install the new and evil state.
But the young? They had no part in that happier age. They never
breathed the faith which for their forefathers was the very air of
life. From childhood their minds were trained and twisted to the new,
diabolic faith. And though many of them are now sickened of savagery,
they are ignorant of the spirit. Bewildered, they wake at last from
the nightmare illusion into which they were born, and that they could
not but take for reality. And now, in a new, strange daylight world,
they dare not move. They have no bearings in it. Like a blind man
given sight, they are merely confused and paralysed by their new
perception. Some are enticed by it to grope furtively, uncomprehendingly
and with many a tumble, along the way of gentleness that they have
been so thoroughly schooled to scorn. For these there is hope.
But others, too deeply addicted to the drugs of hate and violence,
too jealously resentful towards all friendly, happier beings,
too fiercely at war with their own gentler nature, remain
incurably the crazy heroes or perverted saints or mere hooligans that
harsh circumstance has made them. Bitter and incredulous at their
leader's fall and their fatherland's catastrophe, they swear
vengeance, dedicating themselves to the next war, and to the
enslavement of all mankind.

Feeling inwardly the perverted heroism of these lost souls, the spirit
of Man shudders. Theirs are the same bowels and brains as other men's.
Once they were little hopeful children, little straight green shoots
of true humanity. But the poisoned blizzard seared and twisted them.
Counting the host of them, the spirit of Man despairs. For the victors
plan vengeance; and vengeance breeds contrary vengeance; and where
vengeance rules men's minds, perverts and hooligans are very
acceptable as instruments, and as leaders.

But the conquered are only one people among many. The spirit of Man
turns his grave scrutiny upon the conquerors, those marching men,
weathered, apt for hardihood, and for slaughter, with bullet or shell,
with bayonet or hand-grenade or knife. He considers, too, those many
boys in the upper air, those pilots, gunners and the rest, machine-
trapped all of them, yet for the crew's sake self-disciplined and
comradely. He feels in the hearts of all these invaders a deep,
crushed-down horror of warfare, and a longing for the ways of peace.
In all of them he finds the unclear but urgent need for some gentler
and more deeply rooted 'we' than the stern comradeship of war-time crew
or company. And with this need for gentleness arises a vague
tenderness towards all men, even towards the conquered. For though at
one moment these conquerors profess stern retribution, in the next they
may be sharing their rations with a hungry citizen. In all of them the
lust for vengeance is strongly countered by a blindfold, urgent,
desperate movement towards the spirit; the very movement that so
bewilderingly stirs the war-racked citizens themselves.

Is this, then, inquires the spirit of Man with sudden hope, the new
world's new temper?

But now he turns from the victorious invaders in the city's streets
and sky to watch the homelands of these conquerors. There too
smoulders the same longing; but how confused, how seamed with fears
and greeds and a thousand plain stupidities.

In the west, believers in money scheme to save mankind by their money-
power; sincerely, for their hearts are touched by mankind's distress.
But their own too-well-remembered triumphs of free commerce, and their
sly hope of further gain, blind them to the world's new needs, to its
need of a supreme world-purpose and world-plan, and its need that all
men should feel themselves one in the spirit. These believers in money
propose to create, by sheer free commerce, prosperity for all men, and
for themselves dominance and vast riches; forgetting the harsh lesson
of the planless past. And the spirit? Even those whose minds are not
bemused by money conceive the spirit far too simply, in the the form
that money fostered. For them the individual, who is the seat of
money-power and the pioneer of all great enterprise, is also the sole
vessel of the spirit. And this is true, but not the whole truth.
Nowhere but in the awareness, the wisdom, the loving, the creative
action, of individuals can the spirit be; but these self-confident
individualists dare not see that the brigand individual, who would be
self-complete and unrestrained, is the spirit's main enemy. We are
members one of another.

The spirit of Man turns eastward to the great new society where money-
power has been tamed, where men have planned resolutely, ruthlessly,
for the common welfare. But here too the upshot is uncertain. Here, as
elsewhere, burns the will for the spirit, though unacknowledged and
unnamed. But here they conceive it as social discipline and social
power, the power of the first great comradely community to develop all
its potency for the fulfilling of its citizens in health and wealth,
and in that pattern of mentality which the new state's masters and the
hosts of their willing followers declare most admirable. For them the
main theme is the ability for practical service and willing discipline
in the common work. The spirit of Man knows well that this fellowship
in work is a factor in the true spirit, and one disparaged in the
west. But if this is not balanced by the west's loyalty to the
individual's own perception of the spirit in his own heart-searching
and solitariness, and in his own salutation of his own friend's
uniqueness, the spirit must surely wither. With anxious doubt the
spirit of Man watches this great people's crusading enthusiasm for
their new order. He feels inwardly their impatience with un-
believers, their will for conformity, their fiery, arrogant, ruthless
loyalty to the new society. How well justified; but also how
dangerous! Are they, after all, heading for a new tyranny, and for the
world-wide ant-state? Or is their mass-mindedness a passing mood,
caused by all their suffering and their common danger? And will this
most socially conscious of all peoples become presently also the most
spiritually aware? Will they, when the present stress is over, recover
their heart-searching and their solitariness, to pursue with fresh
earnestness and new penetration the questing, the mystical, vision of
their own earlier sages?

And what of those other eastern peoples? What of those dark-skinned
and still unfree dwellers in the great peninsula, whose sages were
most mystical of all? And those more easterly, with faces of old
ivory, whose way of life is the most ancient; but today in the hard
school of war they work out together a way most new, though deeply
founded on the past? And what of the darkest peoples, who now uneasily
stir in their long servitude?

With doubt but with hope the spirit of Man surveys the condition of
his multiple flesh. The ferment is world-wide and deep. Surely the
world-creature is straining to break the chrysalis bonds. The moth
will soon be free, will spread wing and fly, will live its ardent life
beyond the grub's farthest range of vision.

But the spirit of Man's own recent tragic vision of Man's future still
daunts him.

But then, once more, beyond the stars and ćons he darkly feels the
Other, and in mystery finds peace.

END PIECE

PARENTHOOD

When first you saw your daughter, you said, 'It is all so strange!
That new little thing seems quite unconnected with me.' But at the
breast she quickly bound you, and soon your whole life was centred on
her. Parted from her, you relaxed into coma. I became a background
figure, noticed occasionally for refreshment.

When your son came, he of course occupied the focus; but he was no
supplanter of his sister, and she no discarded fondling. You made room
for both; and they, very soon, for each other.

Over their upbringing, how we planned and wondered! This food, should
it be, or that? This routine, or that? This toy, this book, this
parental attitude, this school, or that? Every move was a dangerous
experiment, fostering growth or checking it, leaving perhaps a
permanent scar. Dreadful the thought that we, through ignorance or
unwitting failure of character, might be crippling those young spirits
for a whole lifetime.

Suddenly death threatened our daughter. Twelve years she had grown
from a microbe inside you, a mere parasite, to become a bright young
human individual, hopefully learning with laughter and tears the high
art of womanhood. But now, through sheer chance, death or madness
might this very day destroy her. She suffered, we were helpless, the
surgeon's knife alone could save her. We shall not forget that day. We
shall not forget seeing her, when it was over, her head turbaned in
bandages, so weak, so white, so unexpectedly beautiful; and still
herself.

Soon, bewilderingly soon, the two were in turn done with schooling,
and freed at last from our close care. Each now must try for a
foothold in a crumbling, a catastrophic world. But then the war
claimed both; her, for the embattled metropolis; him, for the sea. We
shall not forget his going. With untried strength he set out to face
the horror that the elders had made. When his ship was sunk, and he,
among the few survivors, was taken from the water, no mystic message
told us. And when at last we learned of it, we went about our affairs
unchanged; but when we thought of him in the water, it was with bated
breath. We were awed, and vaguely shamed, by our continued good
fortune in a tormented world. Where millions are struck down, those
who are spared shudder.

The two live on. They are no longer our children, but a young woman
and a young man, formerly our children, now our junior fellow
citizens, our loved and respected and perplexing friends. Much, of
course, we have still in common with them; but the years prise us ever
apart. In trivial ways, and perhaps sometimes more deeply, we may
still and gladly help. We can write letters, send books and fruit and
pipes. We keep at least a home, for their rest and healing. But in the
more fateful ventures of the spirit the two are beyond range of our
helping. Formed in part by us, they are yet creatures of a world
strange to us. Throughout their minds, your mothering and my fathering
are a deep-written, an inerasable palimpsest; but over and over that
archaic script truths not of our teaching, values not of our
preaching, and maybe errors not ours, are strongly superscribed. And
so, though for us the two are for ever our children, yet also they are
strangers.

We peer anxiously into their futures. They make their alien choices,
and we dread the issue for them; as the hen for her swimming foster-
brood. Could we but teach them the skill for living as once we taught
them skating, that they might as surely surpass us in life as on the
ice! But for living in tomorrow's world what lore have we? Perhaps
their alien choices are in fact sure and finished strokes in an art
beyond us.

So it is with the world. With bated breath each generation fears for
its successor. Yet the world goes on; belying equally the forebodings
of the old and the hopes of the young, flowering ever with unforeseen
disaster and with strange glory.



THE END




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