CHAPTER EIGHT

 

The drive back to London was both pleasant and educative, giving the four passengers in O'Donnell's Mercedes an opportunity to discover more about the Voice Museum and finalize arrangements for their prospective recordings.  As it happened, both Timothy and Sarah, who sat next to each other beside Sheila Johnston on the back seat, agreed to visit the museum together at the same time the following week, while Sheila made provisional arrangements for another day of that week, and Gowling, who sat beside the driver, tentatively offered his services for a day in the week after, when he would apparently be less busy.  The other two guests or, rather, ex-guests of Rothermore House had also, before going their separate ways, put forward provisional dates, so it rather looked as though O'Donnell would be in for a fairly busy time in the coming weeks!  And with a little luck, he would be able to show each of them around the museum personally, in a gesture of confidence.

     Their conversation became more desultory, however, as the drive wore on, and had virtually petered-out by the time they reached the outskirts of London.  Sheila was the first to go, since she lived way south of the Thames, and then, at Chelsea, Gowling alighted with a sigh of relief.  That left Timothy and Sarah, and, since he lived in Highgate and she in Hampstead, he was the next to be dropped off.  Not surprisingly, he was almost tempted to offer her a parting kiss when she put a farewell hand on his nearest thigh, but, mindful of O'Donnell's ignorance of their intimacy, he refrained from doing so at the last moment, making do, instead, with a parting smile.  O'Donnell simply nodded farewell and, as soon as Timothy was safely on the pavement, roared away again in his expensive motor.  After dropping Sarah off in Hampstead he would proceed to his semidetached in Golders Green, where he lived in bachelor confinement.  Whether he would continue to live in such confinement much longer, however, remained to be seen.  For he had certainly taken more than a passing fancy to Irene!

     Arrived home, Timothy immediately set about preparing himself some supper.  He hadn't eaten since lunch and, as it was nearly four o'clock when they left Rothermore House and had now just gone seven, his stomach was in need of some refreshment, not to say fuel.  It might have been more sensible, he thought, had they stayed on at Lord Handon's for tea instead of rushing away before it got too dark.  But O'Donnell had wanted to see one or two of the sights of Crowborough while some daylight remained, and had accordingly insisted on their leaving during the afternoon.  One could tell that even this was too late for Lady Handon, who, as previously noted, had wanted to get rid of them all in the morning.  Her husband, however, was less keen to see them go, and that was the main reason why they had remained there for the better part of the day.  No doubt, he was intent upon furthering the morning's intimacies!  Either that or he didn't want to be left alone with his wife and daughter too soon!  Yet, as far as Timothy could tell, the morning's intimacies had not been furthered, so the good viscount was obliged to make do with desultory conversation and, when that failed, a game of  billiards with Nigel Townley - an occupation which appeared to mollify him in some measure.

     Timothy ate supper in the kitchen of his four-roomed flat.  He was both pleased and relieved to be back from what, for him, had been an unprecedented experience.  But, by God, how small everything seemed!  The kitchen looked ten times smaller than usual - more a cupboard than a room.  And what applied to the kitchen would doubtless apply to each of his other rooms as well - all cupboards!  To be sure, the difference in scale from the rooms at Rothermore House was indeed tremendous, more tremendous than he would have been capable of contemplating had he never set foot in the place.  It was almost a comedown being back home again.  A comedown?  How quickly the aristocratic criteria of Lord Handon's stuffy old baroque mansion had made their mark on him, influencing his soul in a way he would ordinarily have considered pernicious or misguided!  No, not so much a comedown, the rational part of his mind now told him, as a radical change-of-scale.  But isn't that more to your liking?

     Ah yes, there at last was the philosophical part of his psyche reasserting itself again, reminding him of who he was and what he believed in as a person.  It was coming to his rescue, coming to combat the pernicious influence of his recent misguided experiences.  That old Nietzschean 'transvaluation of all values' was making its voice heard above the babble of contradictory feelings and impressions once more.  He could hear it quite clearly now, as he sat in front of his mug of steaming coffee and plate of cheese-and-tomato sandwiches.  Calm, reassuring, methodical, a reassertion of his customary values.... No, it wasn't a comedown to be sitting back here in one's tiny kitchen after the materialistic opulence and expansiveness of Rothermore House.  On the contrary, one had simply returned to one's own more evolved level, a level in which materialism was scaled-down, as it were, to a bare minimum.  One had returned to the late-twentieth century again, to a world of flats and small city houses.  It was a very different world from the old aristocratic one of large country mansions.  And faced with a choice between living in a small flat or a large mansion, one could hardly be blamed for coming down heavily in favour of the former.  One simply followed one's logic until it attained to a realization of the fact that one was closer to the Holy Ghost by living in a flat or small-city house than ever one would be in a large country mansion.  Not a great deal closer perhaps.  But still, on a higher level of evolution than the person surrounded by nature on some country estate.  One was morally better off, and that was worth knowing.   Such was the way, at any rate, that Timothy Byrne looked at life, and he was confident that there were plenty of others who would be just as capable of looking at it from a similarly objective viewpoint - objective, that is, in terms of the Holy Ghost and the struggle for inner truth.

     He smiled to himself as he swallowed the last mouthful of sandwich.  In his mind's eye he saw the stern, rather embittered face of Lady Handon, as she disagreed with his concept of the Diabolic, saying: 'I really cannot reconcile myself to your attitude towards the stars and nature.'  Ah well, too bad, Lady Pamela, too bad!  We don't all live on the same evolutionary level, after all.  Some of us virtually live in the Middle Ages, some in pagan times, others even aspire, if that's the right word, to the primeval, and yet others live in a mixture or combination of them all.  But then, of course, some live more up-to-date - in fact as far up-to-date as the last quarter of the twentieth century.  A few are effectively spiritual leaders and consequently expressive of viewpoints which may well sound strange to those who lag behind.  And the further they lag behind, the stranger these viewpoints are likely to sound.  A genuine pagan would have been even less disposed to accept Timothy's views of the stars and nature than Lady Handon.  Fortunately, however, genuine pagans were few-and-far-between these days.  Evolution was against them.  It disliked laggards.

     Yet what of the spiritual leaders?  Was evolution encouraging them as much as it could, and, if so, had Timothy Byrne a right to consider himself blessed with the privilege of such leadership?  Yes, he liked to think so - at least as far as his thinking, his theories, were concerned.  Naturally there would be those who, when once they read his latest published work, would be only too ready to consider him mad or bad, or both.  But so what?  Did that prove he really was?  In all probability their thinking - assuming they thought anything at all - was simply at a lower stage of evolution and therefore indisposed them to relate to him.  It was nothing to be surprised at.  There were millions of Lady Handons in the world, and what they thought was usually little more than what others had thought for them, and not generally the most up-to-date or progressive people either!  Let them have their little grumble, if that was all they wanted.  He would not be thrown off course by that, but would stick to his intellectual guns and fire away at the body of outmoded tradition, of entrenched reaction and dogmatic denial.  And if, after all, he was wrong and could be proved so?  Well, damn it, he would still fire away for all he was worth and assert his thinking over everyone else's.  It was his own life to do with as he saw fit.  And if he saw fit to regard human evolution as a sort of struggle from diabolic alpha points to a divine omega point, from the stars to the Holy Spirit - well then, that was his affair and nothing could take it away from him, not even the combined efforts of all the Lady Handons in the world put together.  As long as he lived, his truth lived with him.  It was germane to him and a reflection of his degree of evolutionary sophistication.  He had a right to think of the Alpha in diabolic terms, for he had gone so far in the contrary direction ... that there was no other reasonable possibility.  Willy-nilly, the Alpha is entitled to the respect accorded to divinity until the coming of the Omega shows it up and puts it in an immoral light.  For alpha and omega are incommensurate, and if there is to be an omega point, there can be no continuing allegiance to the Alpha.  Self-realization necessarily excludes worship.

     He finished off his last cheese-and-tomato sandwich and gulped down the rest of his coffee.  His new book was bound to cause some disagreement or disapproval among people.  Good, let it impinge on the cobwebs of their conservative thinking and rouse their feelings a bit!  God knows, some of them needed to have their feelings roused, to be shocked out of their smug complacency!  And if it stirred them into writing him abusive or threatening letters, so be it!  He would bear his cross as best he could, regardless.  He wouldn't go along with those who thought 'God's in His Heaven and all's right with the world.'  The Devil was in its Hell all right, but, so far as he was concerned, God had yet to be established in His or, rather, its Heaven.  Only with the climax of evolution would man attain to God, in his opinion.  Only with the transformation of spirit into holy spirit, transcendent and pure, would God actually become manifest in the Universe. 

     Thus Timothy saw himself in the unique position of being a spiritual leader who was yet an atheist, a man of God who disbelieved in God's actual existence, preferring to contend that it was our duty, as evolving beings, to create ultimate divinity in due course, to further the cause of divine truth in the Universe by cultivating the spirit as much as possible.

     God, then, was the culmination of evolution, the divine flower at the end of the stem of human progress, the climax of Eternal Life.  By cultivating the spirit Timothy believed that we were not so much getting into contact with God, contrary to what most mystics had hitherto imagined, as simply with that which, in pure consciousness, was potentially God - incipiently divine.  The spirit and the Holy Spirit were not identical.  For the latter was destined to arise out of the former as it became transcendent.  As yet, however, spirit was all too impure, held back and down, as it were, by the flesh.  Some presumption, indeed, to equate this spirit with God!

     With supper out of the way, Timothy decided to call a  halt to these rather radical reflections and do some meditating before going to bed.  He was quite tired now and anxious to make up, in due course, for any sleep missed the previous night.  Ah, how Sarah had drained him of physical energy, or such of it as he had still possessed after the fatiguing exertions of their dancing match!  A sexual vampire, if ever there was one!  But a very beautiful woman, he had to admit.  Too beautiful, in fact.  The kind of woman who could quickly drain one of spiritual energy, too!

     He switched off the kitchen light and ambled across the passageway to his study, which was where he preferred to conduct his brief stints of Transcendental Meditation these days.  The light was somewhat brighter in there and quite dazzled him as it came on, causing his mostly paperback library to gleam back at him from the opposite wall.  Ignoring that, he advanced towards his dark-green notebook, which lay where he had left it on the desk beneath the study's single window, and, opening it at the page where he had made his last entry only a couple of days before, began to read:-

 

I like de Chardin's phenomenology, or theory of cosmogenesis.  In fact, it has had some influence on my own work.  But I'm rather sceptical about his Christogenesis, especially with regard to a literal resurrection of Christ and the consequent inference of an already-existent Omega Point compounded, so to speak, of the spiritual presence of the Risen Christ.  This would suggest the existence of God, and I am unable to reconcile myself to it.  However, I do believe that, considered figuratively, the Resurrection can be regarded as a symbolic illustration of man's future destiny in spiritual transcendence.  Hence the Universe could be said to entail a literal Christogenesis insofar as it is man's destiny to follow the symbolic example of the Risen Christ and ultimately attain to the Omega Point, attain, in other words, to the Holy Spirit, the climax of evolution - call it what you will.  But as for Christ Himself, no, I can't for one moment believe that He literally rose from the dead and actually attained to the Omega Point two millennia ago - particularly in light of the fact that, even in this day and age, we have such a deplorably long way to go in developing our spiritual potential, and, as a corollary to that, to pairing back and eventually transcending the natural, ours no less than that pertaining to nature in general.

 

 

     Timothy smiled to himself in deference to the almost Nietzschean implications of the latter part of the last sentence, before turning back the page of his notebook to a note written earlier that same day.  It read:-

 

Like Aldous Huxley, I am opposed to downward self-transcendence but in favour of upward self-transcendence.  I believe the future belongs to LSD or some such hallucinogenic alternative.  Increasingly we shall avail ourselves of the synthetic, turning away from the natural, as from a narcotic plague.

 

 

     And above it another note, reading:-

 

They say that, like art, literature is dead, but this isn't really so!  Literature is simply undergoing a process of transformation into a higher stage of evolution, becoming less a matter of illusion and more one of truth, like art.  In this transitional age, the most advanced literature is that which aspires most consistently and successfully towards truth or fact at the expense of illusion and fiction.  In this regard, the philosophical stands above the autobiographical, the transpersonal above the personal.  Hence novels like Island (Huxley) or The Call-Girls (Koestler) are superior to, say, Tropic of Cancer (Miller) or Sons and Lovers (Lawrence).  But these predominantly autobiographical novels are, by a like-token, superior to novels of a traditionally and/or conventionally fictitious cast.

 

 

     He smiled to himself once more, this time in response to a reflection on the shortcomings of the above note, which, while doing relative justice to conventional bourgeois literature, absolutely failed to embrace the extent to which computers would revolutionize literature in terms of an artificial conceptualism that, in relation to conceptual precedent, would be effectively superconceptual, and proceeded to read the first note on the left-hand page, which was strictly autobiographical:-

 

I am incapable of writing inconsequential works - novels which revel in silly fictions and half-baked illusions.  If I do not write philosophical bombshells, pushing the pursuit of truth to greater heights, I don't write at all.  My imagination dries-up before mere story-telling.  It requires a worthier task!

 

     Ah, how true that statement was!  He closed his notebook and stood a moment staring blankly through the dark window, out into the night.  He wasn't a petty man to waste valuable time scribbling silly fictions!  It was his duty, he felt, to further the philosophically- and/or autobiographically-biased literature of late-twentieth-century man.... Admittedly, it was still necessary to commit a certain amount of illusion or fiction to paper, but one did so begrudgingly and sparingly, always with a view to supporting one's philosophical bias.  For if one was foolish enough to allow it to swamp one's work, to move from the plane of foundations to that of the principal edifice, one simply produced poor literature, that is to say, poor by late-twentieth-century standards - reactionary or traditional, a literature seemingly in the service of the perceptual rather than standing on its own conceptual terms in philosophical opposition to the theatrical, whether anterior or, preferably, posterior to it.  For the perceptual and the conceptual were two quite separate ways of approaching life, and there was no sense in which the perceptual was inherently superior to the conceptual.  On the contrary, it was a barbarous alpha, not a civilized omega.  The one stemmed from dreams, the other could be said to presage meditation.

     Absentmindedly, he pulled the bright cotton curtains across the dark window and then turned towards the centre of his study.  He normally meditated sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor, but he wasn't now sure that he really wanted to meditate, after all.  Somehow the day had caught up with him, making him too tired to adopt a positive attitude towards his spirit.  He would run the risk of relapsing into a kind of downward self-transcendence in trance-like stupor.  He could end-up experiencing his subconscious mind rather than his superconscious one, his perceptual senses rather than his conceptual spirit.  No, he could do without that, especially after his experiences of the last two days!  He'd had enough truck with the Diabolic Alpha at Lord Handon's.  In a short while he would be sliding down into his subconscious anyway, to dream the devil-knew-what, so he might as well save himself the inconvenience of premature subconscious domination in the study.  After all, it was the noblest of his four rooms, the one most suited to the cultivation of spirit.  It wouldn't do to fall asleep there!  God knows, it was difficult enough to cultivate spirit at the best of times, what with all the diurnal occupations and obligations with which one had to contend.  Even more difficult when one lived in an environment, as Timothy used to do, in which dogs were gruffly barking most of the time.  Hellishly so!

     Fortunately, however, all he now had to contend with was tiredness, yet that was more than enough!  He decided, there and then, to take himself off to bed and make-up for this spiritual lapse some other time - perhaps the following day.  Then he might be in a better frame-of-mind to cultivate the godly and aspire towards transcendent spirit.

     And, sure enough, the following evening he set aside half-an-hour for the objective in question.  As a rule, he preferred the evening to the day because, to him, it was a less evil time, the sun having its primary influence on the opposite side of the globe.  The evening world was accordingly at the farthest physical remove from the Diabolic Alpha, and thus it was easier, he believed, to aspire towards the Divine Omega then than at any other time.  Aspire, yes!  But not attain to it!  For there was an immense difference, he felt obliged to remind himself, between spirit and holy spirit, between that which was potentially God and the actual transcendent establishment of God in due course.  To underestimate this could prove fatal.  He had no intentions of doing so!

     Yet he got a surprise that evening.  For no sooner had he completed his meditation routine and begun listening to some synth-based music than the telephone rang, and who should it be but Sarah Field!  He almost jumped out of his skin at the clear sound of her voice, sweetly alluring as ever.  Had he got over his visit to Rothermore House?  Yes, he had.  Was he happy to be back home?  Yes, he was.  Had he decided what he would say at the Voice Museum on Thursday for O'Donnell's commercial benefit?  No, he hadn't.  Would he be free for a friendly get-together on, say, Monday or Tuesday evening?  Er ... yes.  But where?

     "I'll come and see you, if you like," Sarah replied.  "I'd love to see your flat."

     "Oh, you would, would you?" (Gentle laughter at Sarah's end of the line.) "Well, in that case, Tuesday will be fine."

 

 

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