Sheldon Wigs Out


Family History
Subject S. was born in Galveston, Texas in 1980.  Father (G) remembered as a “stereotypical Texan” with interests in hunting, football, and other “masculine” pursuits—deceased with S. still in grade school.  Mother (M) a devout evangelical Christian.  S. recalls repeated attempts at religious indoctrination.  Two siblings: a fraternal sister (M2) and an older brother (G2).  Both unremarkable and apparently socially functional.

Early testing established extraordinarily high IQ (self-reported at 187). Subject’s growing interest in mathematics and science only exacerbated tensions within the home and at school. Advanced intellect and lack of interest in peer pursuits led to extensive bullying. Early evidence of Asperger syndrome (undiagnosed).  Enrolled in college at age 11.  Completed first Ph.D. at age 16, second doctorate at age 20.  One year abroad in Germany.  Age of first masturbatory experience unknown.  Apparently remains a virgin at age 31.

Symptomalogy/provisional diagnosis 
At the time of the homicides and subsequent institutionalization, S. had been working for approximately five years at a prestigious university of science and technology in Southern California.  Two male victims (H and L) were co-workers, while L was also subject’s roommate.  Third victim (P) was a female acquaintance of S, H, and L living across the hall in subject’s apartment building.  All victims appear to have been killed by a single weapon—a prized reproduction of a large sword used by “the Klingons” in the television series, Star Track.

While it is unclear if any single event precipitated S’s violent attack on H, L, and P, subject was heard to be screaming “Big Bang! Big Bang!” when admitted by police to emergency psychiatric ward.  Asked his “occupation” during intake interview, subject showed signs of automatism and echolalia, stating repeatedly, “I am a theoretical physicist. I theorize physics and I exist in theory.”  Subject punctuated this recitation with childish giggling.  Evidence of hypergraphic tendencies collected at subject’s apartment (fig. 1) provides additional diagnostic insight into this ideation.


After administration of haloperidol and a 24-hour course of sedatives, S. engaged in slightly more coherent attempts to explain motivation for the homicides.  Subject appears to have been incensed by L. and H’s “incessant yammering about the social protocols attending coitus” and by L’s inability to master a simple “differential syntagm of cereal box order.”  This fixation, in conjunction with other odd ritualistic behaviors, suggests long-standing and apparently untreated presentation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Asked as to why he had severed L.’s head from its body and apparently presented it to P before also murdering her, subject protested that L’s head had been employed as a type of “comic knocker.”  When interviewing physician pressed for more information on this odd detail, S. would only respond, “They know what they did.”  

            Blunted affect indicative of schizoaffective disorder.  Subject also presented with First Rank symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.  In initial psychiatric interviews, subject insisted that his actions were monitored weekly by “millions of Americans.” Moreover, S. was frequently heard to boast that millions more watched him than the neighboring “community.”  As evidence of his surveillance, S. drew a diagram of his apartment and demanded hospital staff search for three cameras hidden in his living room (fig. 2).  This delusion had become elaborated to the point that S. spoke of his tormentors as Camera “C,” Camera “B,” and Camera “S.”  Subject also expressed delusions of grandeur in his repeated claim that he was “the smartest person currently alive” and that he was a personal friend of actor Wil Wheaton (known primarily for his work in the Star Track television programs).  Partly to humor subject, hospital staff allowed S. to call “Wheaton” during his second day on ward so that their supposed friendship might be confirmed.  When call went unanswered, S. claimed Wheaton was “not home.”  Subsequent court documentation demonstrated that actor Leonard Nimoy (also famous for his involvement in Star Track) and comic book author Stan Lee had previously filed for restraining orders against S.  Subject also expressed severe delusions of contamination, especially related to food preparation.  Subsequent interview with peers confirmed this to be a life-long issue.

 Prognosis
Not good.  Arrival of mother from Texas instigated cascade of pathologically regressive behaviors that, quite frankly, were embarrassing even to seasoned psychiatric professionals.  These included repeated demands for the recitation of a beloved childhood lullaby (“Soft kitty”) and requests for a highly sexualized application of “vapo-rub” to subject’s chest.   Subject also received a brief visit from another co-worker, “R”, who himself appeared to be suffering from various forms of psychiatric distress.  After a short detention, "R" was issued a prescription for valium and released.  

Wish Her Safe at Home (1982)

Stephen Benatar
NYRB Classics

This book apparently has somewhat of a "cult" status attached to it, maybe because author Benatar originally self-published the manuscript and sold it on the street.  In this edition, the introduction is written by John Carey, who in 1982 was the lone voice advocating that the book advance for consideration for the prestigious Booker Prize. Carey counts his fellow committee members' adverse reaction to the book as a testament to its power.  That may well be, although I have another theory as to why certain readers might bristle at this book.

But first, the basic set-up: Rachel Waring is a 40-something virgin working as a bureaucratic functionary in London.  She has lived there with her flatmate Sylvia for just over a decade.  Unexpectedly, Rachel inherits her long-lost and perhaps insane aunt's house in Bristol.  After touring the property and town, Rachel decides to make a clean break of her old life so that she might re-invent herself as a creature of leisure and beauty.  What follows is a rather excruciating account of hypomania gradually turning into psychosis, narrated entirely in the first person by Rachel herself.  

If Wish Her Safe at Home were just the story of one's woman crack-up, it would be less than remarkable.  But Benatar complicates matters by destabilizing all the characters that surround Rachel as she grows increasingly unbalanced.  Refracted through Rachel's increasingly distorted psyche, the motives of her new neighbors become increasingly nebulous--do they think she's merely eccentric? Are they trying to exploit her advancing madness?  Or are they simply clueless and baffled?

Carey is right that the book is genuinely disturbing.  Let's face it, few can remain wholly unaffected by a convincingly narrated chronicle of a slow slide from the putatively normal to the full-on psychotic.  A good writer can make that "transition" seem just a little too easy and even (gulp) relatable--which is exactly what Benatar does here.  Carey also extols the book as being truly "original" in that it doesn't follow any of the "dozen or so" plots common to all literature.  I'm not sure about that.  The Turn of the Screw comes immediately to mind, as does Polanski's Repulsion.  NYRB Classics has also published a rather nasty account of a descent into male psychosis with The Diary of a Rapist (1966).  In fact, the novel of gradual mental disintegration seems fairly common by now.

As to why the rest of the Booker Prize committee was reticent to advance this novel, that may have to do more with gender politics than the ingenuity and talent of the writing.  As we follow Rachel on the Havisham express, we gain increasing insight into the childhood roots of her illness.  Particular weight is placed on a failed attempt at coitus when Rachel was 20.  After dating a boy for a few weeks (her only boyfriend ever, we learn), the two end up in the backseat of his car.  Just as Rachel is about to lose her virginity and finally "become a woman," the boy ejaculates prematurely on her thigh.  Machinations by her evil mother prevent the two from seeing each other again for several months, by which time the boy is now engaged to someone else.  Ruminating on this event some twenty years later, Rachel is haunted by the fact that--not only did she not lose her virginity--she never got a chance to "touch it" or even "see it"--"It" being his penis.  

While I admire Benatar's courage in attempting, as a man, to write a first-person account of a woman's psychosexual disintegration, I can also imagine how a panel of literate critics--at the dawn of the Lacanian 80s no less--might take exception to such an unapologetically phallocentric figure that doesn't actually make it into the carpet, so to speak.

The Devil's Mansion (1931)

Rex Jardin
Walter J. Black, Inc.

Nice entry into the venerable "weird old house" genre.  Sweet and stupid, young Janet Lord accepts a post to be the companion to a lonely old lady living in a small town in remote British Columbia.  Things get weird from the start as a vicious dog with red glowing eyes follows Janet everywhere and growls menacingly anytime she approaches the property line. Also, Janet notices that all the mirrors in the house have been painted over.  That night, finding her room consists of only a cot and an army blanket, she decides to leave first thing in the morning--but her new employer, Miss Boisevain, calmly informs her that she'll never leave the house again...ever!  Understandably alarmed, Janet tries to figure out a way to escape, but "Rajah" the vicious dog with the glowing red eyes follows her everywhere to prevent her fleeing.  The home's mute servant, Nita, takes pity on the girl and tries to warn her of the fate that awaits her if she doesn't leave soon.  Making things even more creepy, Janet begins to hear sobbing in the turret room above her and frantic piano playing at 3 in the morning.  Then a twist!  Miss Boisevain, her seeming jailer, also tells Janet she must escape, confirming that they are all hostage to some other sinister presence in the house.  Could it be.....the DEVIL?! 

Meanwhile, a handsome young man--Blair Rodman--is searching for Janet.  They met briefly in the town the morning Janet was to arrive at her new post, and he is alarmed when he can't get in touch with her (for he is smitten by her innocent charm).  He quickly figures out Janet is a hostage in the "Devil's Mansion," but after getting conked on the head and tied up in the barn, he spends most of the story in the hayloft hoping not to get attacked by Rajah the devil dog.  Also, in a strange touch, he constantly complains to himself about how hungry he is and how great it would be to have a chicken sandwich.

And then the inevitable.  This "thing," this presence, this mysterious other person in the house that refuses to be seen has decided that he will marry Janet!  If she does not marry him, he threatens to kill Blair Rodman for good.  As she is also deeply in love now with Blair (for no real reason other than she is trapped in the house, as far as I could tell), she realizes she must accept her fate and become Mrs. Devil-wife.  There's a lot more suspense shenanigans that I won't bore you with as "the devil" takes Janet to Seattle to begin a round-the-world cruise.  And there's Blair hurrying down the highway to save her (after, I swear, stopping on the way to Vancouver to get a couple of chicken sandwiches). 


So is Janet's unseen groom really the devil?   A supernatural force of absolute evil?  SATAN?


I'm going to tell you.  It is the one big reveal in the book, so do not look below if, in some odd universe of improbability, you actually plan on tracking this novel down.  


But there's another reason you might want to consider not looking below.  If it is Satan, if the Devil is really the Devil in The Devil's Mansion, there's a very good chance you will be damned for all eternity by learning this information.  I know, it seems absurd.  I, too, was laughing things up all  21st-century secular style... until I got to the final chapter.  And then....


Is it Satan?  Does Satan plan to make Janet his bride?  Please, I want you to pause and think this through carefully before proceeding.  Do you really want to know?  Why do you want to know so badly?  Do you realize that in your curiosity you might be risking your eternal soul?  That by continuing to read, you are, in a sense, actively seeking out the presence of the Dark One?  Why would you do that when it would be so easy just to walk away?  To flip to another web page and NEVER RETURN HERE under any circumstance? 


Surely he's jesting, you say, there's no way revealing this final bit of plot information could have any effect on me.  But what if it could? What if it did?   What if The Devil's Mansion is itself a cursed book, damning all who come to its final pages and learn its final forbidden secret?  And what if that damnation could be passed on, even in electronic form, by simply reading about the book's closing paragraphs, the moment when this sinister presence--heard but not seen for 200 pages--is at last revealed? 


Do you want to risk it?  This is your last chance to opt out...for I am about to reveal the true identity of the sinister presence that resides within the "devil's mansion," the dark force that would have sweet Janet as his tortured bride!


One thing it isn't, I will say, is some kind of Scooby Doo prank.  It's not someone trying to con Janet out of money or property or anything like that.  Nor is it Miss Boisevain or Nita or Blair in some kind of dissociative split-personality scenario.  Nope.  

Then again, maybe you're thinking we don't find out one way or another, that the ending maintains some kind of "fantastic" ambiguity.  Let me assure you this is not the case.  There is a DEFINITIVE answer to the question.   In the final chapter, we meet this unseen villain in the flesh, as it were, and all secrets are revealed.


Most likely, such damnation does not await you at the end of The Devil's Mansion.  MOST likely.  But nothing is for certain.  This could all be a devilish little prank.  Then again, perhaps I myself fell prey to Lucifer's trickery, and now I am toying with you in the hopes of dragging you along with me. Perhaps this is the curse Satan put on the author, his book, and all his readers, a cursed curiosity that not only kills "the cat" but casts the profane feline into the eternal flames of hell for not turning back, for ignoring the fact that some things are just not worth knowing.


There.  I can do more.  Consider yourself warned, several times over.  If the mysterious presence in the house is indeed Satan and he also indeed has the ability to damn you in this revelation, so be it. You will have no one to blame but yourself.  You who could not turn back.  You who would know the truth, no matter what the cost.  Your rendezvous with destiny  is soon, I promise.  Knowledge to be gained, perhaps, and yet possibly a soul to be lost.  Moments from now you may well know a minor, insignificant detail from a minor, insignificant novel.  Then again, you might be subject to the hysterical wailing of inconsolable sorrow, wretched in the realization that this was no joke, that you had been warned--repeatedly so--to turn back, to click away, to go see if anything good was on television--anything other than receive the cursed revelation of THE DEVIL'S MANSION!


And so we arrive.  Is it the devil, Satan himself, that prowls The Devil's Mansion?  Is it Lucifer who wishes to make Janet, sweet innocent Janet, his bride in hell?


Is it a mere plot detail...................or is it a gateway to ETERNAL SUFFERING!!!


Nah.  It turns out the guy is Miss Boisevain's mutant son: a two-foot tall dwarf with green scaly skin, topped by a "regular-sized" head with red frizzy hair.  That's why he painted over all the mirrors and only walks around in the dark.  And when he needs to go someplace new, he has someone carry him around in a little leather valise.  This was to be Janet's fate before Blair arrived on scene and, in the simple act of turning on a light, caused this "devil" to drop dead from a heart attack.


You are free to go. 



The Annotated Ann Coulter: Volume I

Concerned citizens have debated the Ann Coulter question for many years now.  Does Coulter sincerely believe in the often ridiculous positions she champions in print, on Fox news, and during her campus lecture tours?  Or, as many have suggested, is Coulter an ongoing "performance" project of some kind, a hyperbolic parody of conservative anger and illogic dreamed up by a conceptualist collective somewhere in the Village?  Rachel Maddow has recently attempted to make this same "art school" argument about GOP pizza magnate and freelance genital inspector Herman Cain, but in truth, it is Coulter who first compelled left-leaning cultural elites to contend with the enigmatic posturing of feckless fascism.  So, for example, when Coulter claimed after the meltdown of the nuclear reactors in Fukushima that there now exists "burgeoning evidence that excess radiation operates as a sort of cancer vaccine," baffled bystanders could only wonder at her motivation.  Regardless of one's position on nuclear energy, no one would really take a "pro-meltdown" position, would they? Talk about seeing the glowing silver lining around a hazy cloud of Cesium-137-- this has to be a stunt, right?  Ultimately, however, Coulter's "intent" in her books and punditry is not all that important.  Be it sincere or a sham, the effect on American culture and politics remains the same.  If you want to drink from a mountain stream, after all, it matters little if a horse up river pissed in the water by design or by accident; either way, you still have a mouth full of horse piss.

One of Coulter's signature moves, both in print and in person, is to appear so consistently agitated by the moral bankruptcy, political hypocrisy, and all-around stupidity of the American "liberal" that she might at any moment hyperventilate and pass out.   From a performance perspective, these histrionics involve conveying a sense of boiling rage that, if not for the displacements of her "wit" and/or the threat of incarceration by the state, might actually erupt into either localized or more systematic programs of violence, perhaps an on-camera seizure triggered by patriotic exasperation or a call for a national liberal-cleansing program based on information gathered from Amazon marketing cookies.  Slander, Treason, Godless, Guilty, Demonic--these are the words Coulter has deployed to brand her engagements with the American "left," inflammatory generalizations that work well in stoking her core constituency of hotheads who prefer to live their lives in a perpetual state of generalized inflammation.  Given the cartoonish provocations of these titles, one might assume Coulter is hoping her political adversaries will respond in kind by simply drawing Hitler mustaches on her annual point-of-sale ad flats, thereby taking the reactionary bait that would drag an otherwise thoughtful progressive down into the limbic mud with her.

But what if Coulter's perpetual rage is actually sincere, grounded in the frustration that so few take her seriously at whatever it is she is attempting to do (beyond selling books, of course, still the primary conservative test of "truth"--much as one might consider Ray Kroc the greatest chef in the history of the world for having sold some astronomical number of easily consumable meat-units).  Even more intriguingly, perhaps Coulter is a bored überfrau, despondent that no adversary appears worthy or willing to join her in mercilessly demolishing and then transcending the doxa of western political thought.  Driven to despair that she alone must drive the final nails into the coffin of rational political discourse, her rage has gradually assumed the logic of excrescence described so beautifully by Jean Baudrillard in Fatal Strategies; that is to say, bored with the dialectics of "left" vs. "right," Coulter has worked feverishly to will into existence a world that is "more right than right," an ambition that increasingly has little or nothing to do with anything an imaginary "left" might be doing, but is simply a death-spiral into evermore extreme positions of purely experimental conservatism, a type of "string theory" for post-Bucklidian politics.

Coulter is no ordinary thinker, that much is clear.  The easy thing to do would be to ignore her, or when that is not possible, simply dismiss her as a kook wandering somewhere along the continuum between  the bitterly insane and the insanely bitter.  But this would be shirking our moral obligations, I think.  For example, if Coulter truly believes what she writes, to ignore her is to reward and even encourage her harrowing descent into an ever more terrifying (albeit lucrative) form of madness, one that can only end with her camped out by the Bellvue ambulance bay hectoring the sick and injured for their cowardly reliance on public EMTs (Did you even consider for a second that you could have your neighbors submit private bids to bring you here, you parasite!)

On the other hand, if Coulter's act really is a bluff, and she in fact spends all her free time in Manhattan clinking cocktails with book editors, gallery curators, and a few cynical but discrete Ivy League professors, laughing about the endless gullibility of the stupid hayseeds who are paying for her new walk-in jacuzzi--then don't we owe it to her miserable captives to set them free?  If, back in 1964, I had been struggling to sit through all 8 hours of Warhol's Empire, I know I would certainly have appreciated it if someone had come into the theater to let me know it was okay to leave, that I was just a prop in the execution of someone else's conceptual stunt.

Perhaps those of us who identify with progressive causes would benefit by digging a bit deeper, by subjecting Coulter's oeuvre to a more sustained and probing form of textual explication.  By "deconstructing," if you will, the logic of the Coulterian universe, there is a chance--a slim one, I will concede--that we might better understand, a). what she professes to believe; b). whether or not she really believes what she professes to believe; and c). the sensibility of a readership that truly believes that she believes in things that she may or may not actually believe.

The only way to do this, I propose, is through a line-by-line examination of the work itself--what we in the academic game sometimes call a "close reading."  As a slanderous, treasonous, godless, guilty, and demonic member of the professorial class, I hope that I might be well-suited to such a task. In the interest of critical self-reflexivity, I will admit up front that I think she's probably faking it, that she doesn't really believe most of the positions she advocates (like carrying heavy water for the "pro-meltdown" community).  But I am willing to keep an open mind, and if somehow Coulter can win me over with the strength of her arguments, I will be more than happy to concede that she is correct and that my "liberal" ass deserves immediate incarceration for crimes against the state, at least until it arrives at its final destination in hell where Coulter and other heavenly conservatives can pelt me and my fellow damned with burning copies of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche.

Let us begin with Coulter's fourth book, How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).  Though the title remains confrontational (it implies, you see, that talking to a liberal is so unpleasant that one would do everything in his or her power to avoid such a fate), I begin here because this book suggests, at least implicitly, that some type of dialogue might still take place (at least as of 2004, the date of the book's original publication).  Admittedly, in Coulter's ideal form, this "dialogue" would be a Thanksgiving dinner wherein a witty "conservative" systematically decimates the sophistry of her uptight liberal relations by demonstrating that there is no problem in the 21st century that can not be answered by some creative combination of Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and Jesus.  To put a positive spin on this otherwise depressing scenario, let us emphasis that this scene at least has us all sitting at the same table, as it were, and that if Coulter's woefully naive young cousin doing an Anthro degree at Smith began choking to death on the ceremonial wishbone, she still might have enough empathy to get up and administer the Heimlich maneuver (then again, perhaps Coulter really does have the courage to commit an unparalleled act of pure Objectivism:  No one help her!  It is not in our interest to prevent this lazy, under-achieving masticator from choking, for her death shall leave more turkey and stuffing for the rest of us!  Turn the highchairs this way so that the babies might also learn this lesson well!)

So let us begin (Coulter's prose will be in bold black, my annotations in red).
 
A special note to conservative readers: Given that modern American conservatism has now become indistinguishable from paranoid schizophrenia, there will be no attempt made here to "persuade" or "convince" you of anything.  Rather, much as one might address a co-worker who suddenly professes a belief that extraterrestrials are filling his head with voices telling him to kill the neighbor's dog, the following will proceed from the assumption that logic and reason are of little use in convincing you of anything, and that your best hope resides in a carefully monitored regimen of Haldol or Thorazine. I'm so sorry.  If somehow appeals to cooperative reason and socio-economic justice prevail in the future, we will try to send a time machine back to rescue the rest of you from yourselves.  Until then, good luck.  Also, I think someone on your local public access station just suggested adding a penny in sales tax to help clean up that toxic dump site that's been festering out by the Johnson place and breeding all them mutant super-raccoons---your time might be better spent writing a letter about how the free market is the only way to deal with the mutant super-raccoon problem, and that you'll shoot any city animal control officer who comes on your property to implement a socialist "one-size-fits-all" campaign of mutant super-raccoon eradication. 

1
How to Talk to a Liberal

(1) Historically, the best way to convert liberals is to have them move out of their parents' home, get a job, and start paying taxes.

Coulter begins here with a touch of folk wisdom, essentially adapting Churchill's bromide, "If you're not a liberal at 20 you have no heart. If you're not a conservative at 40 you have no brain," so that it might better appeal to her most loyal readers (crucially, however, Coulter is not willing to concede the 20 year-old part of the equation.  Even deciding to share your toys in preschool would be counted as a moronic flirtation with wealth redistribution).  Conservatives love using this quotation because they believe it imbues the speaker with a type of practical philosophy born of hard-won experience and incontrovertible common sense.  By dropping it into everyday conversation, the conservative signals that he or she possesses the necessary intellectual depth to reflect on life's big questions, but still has not been swayed by the more "complicated" book-learned philosophies favored by liberal elites. 

Unpacking the sentence, we see three interlinking assumptions:

1. Liberals are children.
2. Liberals are unemployed.
3. Liberals do not pay taxes.

By casting the liberal as a child who will, under ideal circumstances, be "cured" by confronting the more sober truths of adulthood, Coulter endorses the rather sad but protoypically conservative position that the world is what it is and nothing will ever change it.   Only children believe that the world's inequalities and injustices might be productively challenged.  The "adult" conservative, on the other hand, knows how the world "really works," and that the child-liberal will eventually understand that s/he must give up the ridiculous aspiration for a world that is less horrifying.   Most often, this "adult" perspective is the product of having been worn down by age, fear, and fatigue so that no other possibilities remain imaginable.  A mortgaged and mirthless 40 sees what carefree 20 cannot--life is an endless struggle to acquire shit and protect it from other people who want to take your shit, all so that when you get really old you don't end up dying penniless in a ditch.  Thus it has been since Thog the caveman first suckered-punched Grunda the hill person so that he might steal his woman, jaguar paw, and pointed stick.

By choosing to open her 2004 book with a generational mapping of right and left, Coulter gives us some insight into her core readership.  While I have no empirical data to back this claim up, I am willing to follow Coulter's lead here in baseless speculation to suggest that her books are most avidly consumed by white men who are married, middle-aged, and fairly well-off (given that this is the key constituency of the Republican party, this would not be surprising).  Why this particular demographic?  Because Coulter "gets" them, she understands the frustration of being a "wealth-producer" surrounded by parasitical sucklings--the wife, the kids, an idiot brother, the city, the state, public education, tollways, welfare deadbeats, the chronically ill, and so on.  Thus the appeal of the regressive Randian fantasy of holding one's breath and refusing to "produce" so as to teach all the ungrateful morons around you a lesson (much as the toddler will withhold feces during toilet training as a way of protesting the oppressive discipline of the parents).  

Yes, Coulter--or at this point, "Ann"--truly understands the middle-class white guy's pain.  She arrived on the national scene during the dark days of the Clinton presidency, a Godsend as the most vocal in a new battalion of younger, blonder, female Republicans who at last showed the world that not every right-winger had to look and talk like Robert Novak.  Prominently unattached, Ann is the kind of gal you fantasize about while putting on your cleats to play the back nine at the country-club.  Unlike your mollycoddling wife, Ann would understand the horror of having your oldest son come home from college to announce his plans to be a professional "graphic novelist," or seeing your daughter go out every weekend with a trio of pierced weirdos who are most obviously homosexuals.  Ann knows what it's like to have your hard-earned pay taxed by an evil bureaucracy that wants to throw that money away on the prostitutes and drug dealers you sometimes think you see loitering around as you drive to the baseball stadium downtown. And with Ann by my side, I would never lose an argument ever again.  Next time that wise ass liberal neighbor of mine points out that I'm much more likely to get shot by my own gun than to shoot a burglar, Ann would be right there to call him out for the dickless coward he really is!  In fact, I wouldn't mind if she called me a few names as well.  Don't get me wrong--I still think it is the man's role to take the lead in any relationship.  But when I see Ann in that tight, little leather vest...I don't know, suddenly I want her to get mad at me.  Really, really mad.  I want her to tell me what a worthless weakling I am.  I want her to yell at me for nicking the upholstery in the Beamer.  I want her to lock me in the bathroom with just bread and water until I work up the courage to go tell off those pricks at the Sanitation department for cracking our new trash bins, just because they're too lazy to put them back down gently (and I pay there goddamn salaries with my taxes!).  And then I want Ann to hold me as I cry and cry.  Why has the world become so scary and why don't I understand anything anymore?  How could anyone be against a flat tax, Ann, I just don't get it--it's so obviously and objectively fair to everyone.  What do you mean you found a picture of Ashley's vagina on her cell phone?  Why would she do that?  I don't care what anyone says, Ann, this democracy will only really work as long as white people are in the majority. 

And so on.

It would seem explicating the first line of Coulter's book has taken more time and space than I anticipated, so perhaps this is a good place to stop for now.  See you next time...maybe.  I can't decide if it's really worth it or not.

Editor's Note: I would also like to note that in googling the phrase "annotated Ann Coulter," I discovered another site that had this idea long before me.  You might want to visit them as well (here).











 

The Proxima Project (1968)

John Rackham
Ace Books H-91

This appears to be science-fiction aimed at youngish to middle-aged men of the 1960s uncertain about the era's emerging counter-culture.  As we open, Horace McCool has decided to quit his lucrative job in the family's financial business.  Having heard and seen (in stereophonic 3-D) a music performance by the world's hottest pop band, "The Trippers," McCool is completely smitten by the band's enigmatic lead singer, "Yum-Yum."  He is leaving his job so that he might meet Yum-Yum and make her his bride.  We expect that this apparently psychotic act will eventually be explained as a form of techno-hypnosis or space madness, but it turns out just to be lazy exposition--the book needs Horace to go find Yum-Yum, so that's what he does.

McCool is aided in his quest by his faithful secretary, Ms. Horne, whom he tasks with finding as much information as possible about Yum-Yum and her band.  Ms. Horne is happy to do this because she is also a "Trippers" fan and has a thing for their male singer, Jim.  Sneaking backstage at a Trippers concert, McCool cuts to the chase and asks Yum-Yum to marry him without so much as a formal introduction.  The band is amused, but not cruelly so, and Yum-Yum lets him down gently (even after McCool explains to her--the world's most famous pop star--that this whole "music" thing can't last forever).  But McCool will not be dissuaded.  He sends Yum-Yum an expensive broach, which the other band members quickly realize is actually an audio-visual "bug." She politely returns the gift. 

But McCool gets an even better lead.  He learns that the band plans to take a sabbatical at a remote lunar resort.  If he can spend that time with Yum-Yum, he reasons, he is sure he can finally win her over.  With Ms. Horne in tow, McCool makes the journey to the moon and--after a bit of hide-and-seek--ends up in The Trippers' lunar compound.  Here we gradually learn more about the band.  Something is slightly "off" about them.  For one thing, they all appear much younger when off stage, mere children really.  We also learn that they made a group decision at the age of 11 to become the most successful pop stars in the world, and then worked rationally toward that goal until it was achieved.  Soon we are in Children of the Damned territory as we realize the band are actually super-advanced beings (albeit still human) who decided very early in life that the earth could not contain their desires and ambitions.  Incredibly, their decision to become fabulously wealthy as a rock band is in service of another, more astounding goal: they seek to build a spaceship and leave the solar system!

As it so happens, McCool and his secretary have arrived at the fateful moment of the band's final departure for the Centauri system.  But McCool thinks they are bluffing.  There is no way five teenagers could have mastered the science and technology of interstellar space travel.  But the band tells him (and Ms. Horne) that they only have ten minutes to decide--if they don't leave the compound (which is actually the spaceship), they will soon be embarking on a journey that will last at least ten years.  Moreover, the Trippers might even decide not to come back at all!  Partly because of his infatuation with Yum-Yum and partly because he can't admit to himself the kids might actually be telling the truth, McCool (and Ms. Horne) remain on board.  Wouldn't you know it, the kids aren't lying.  Soon they are blasting off for regions unknown!

From here McCool and the kids debate some points of generational philosophy as they make their way across the galaxy.  Gradually McCool begins to realize that Yum-Yum is some type of pre-asexual genius weirdo  child, and his affections turn instead toward the more mature and voluptuous Ms. Horne.  Eventually the space party realizes they will be unable to return to earth, and most likely will die in orbit of Alpha Centauri.  But then, just when all is lost, they are greeted by a flotilla of alien spacecraft.  As it turns out, they have arrived at Centauri just as the locals are holding a festival that seeks out and honors "first spaceships;" that is, this super-advanced race likes to scout out and collect the first spaceships that visit their star system from other worlds.  The aliens honor McCool, Horne, and the band with an elaborate celebration.  To his great embarrassment, McCool telepathically reveals a momentary twinge of lust for his sexy green hostess.  The Trippers, meanwhile, decide to put on a show of their greatest hits, a performance that is a tremendous success.  These Centauri aliens can not get enough of the Trippers happening sounds.

As McCool and Ms. Horne watch the Trippers perform from backstage, wondering if they'll ever get back to earth, they are approached by an "older" alien.  Recognizing that McCool is also the older and more wise of the human party, this alien wants to talk business.  Soon, the two have worked out an interstellar business arrangement.  McCool will trade the music of the Trippers for access to Centaurian technologies that he can market on earth.  The Trippers agree to the scheme as they have no desire to return to earth anyway.  There is only one thing left for McCool to do--marry Ms. Horne. 

 So, in the end, this hybrid of Children of the Damned and Wild in the StreetsMcCool begins as a success in the "straight" world, flirts momentarily with the superficial trappings of youth culture (and their anti-materialist blather), but ends up happily married and with even more money.  Generation gap addressed and solved!

Thunder Before Dawn (1953)

Thomas Wyatt
Wings of Healing

In Thunder Before Dawn, we have a document that confirms all the worst stereotypes about Red Scare hysteria of the 1950s.  Here Christianity stands as the last remaining line of defense against Communism, and in keeping with the apocalyptic paranoia of the right, the end of both nation and world is once again imminent.  Communism's greatest threat, we are told in the introduction, is a "mongrelization of the races...They would have the three races (the Caucasian--white, the Mongolian--yellow, and the Negro--black) intermarry until no distinct race remains, and a mongrel race is developed."  Happily, Jesus has created a "fourth race," a race of "believers" who respect the divisions of white, yellow, and black. 

From there it's your standard rant about nation and world turning to crap.  Here are some choice lines:

"Despite all wishes to the contrary, the rising generation does express something of the spirit of the Anti-Christ, the lawless one, and the immoral conditions everywhere present is leading us to another Sodom and Gomorrah." 

"Millions of drunken, cursing, pleasure-mad women are destroying the last bulwark of civilization. That which some term 'the liberation of womanhood' is Satan again seducing Eve to bring the whole human race down to its last, lowest, level."

"Why is there so much questioning about our foreign policy?  Why are taxes and national indebtedness reaching proportions that threaten our entire economic system?  Why do we try so desperately to make peace with Satan?  Why? why? why?"

The Death of the Führer (1973)

Roland Puccetti
Arrow Books 
(imported from Ludic Despair)

If you're like most dolts produced by the American education system, you probably actually believe Adolph Hitler died in his bunker in 1945 when the Russian Army reached Berlin.  Such ignorance is understandable, given how important it was, then and now, to protect the world from the terrifying REALITY of the situation, namely this: At the end of WWII, Adolph Hitler's brain was surgically removed, placed in stasis, and then transplanted into a willing new host!   Most likely, "Hitler" is still somewhere on the planet today, scheming, ever scheming, to return and complete his plans for world domination. My money says the brain is now in Rick Perry.  Every Texas yahoo talks about secession now and then, but Perry's recent campaign pledge to annex the Sudetenland is troubling to say the least.

They Saved Hitler's Brain (aka The Madman of Mandoras) (1963) dared speak this truth in the tortured logic of Z-cinema some fifty years ago.  Legend has it that the film began shooting in the late fifties--only to be shut down by Nazi agents in Hollywood looking to suppress its startling revelations.  It took the courage of a rag-tag band of UCLA students in the early sixties to shoot some additional framing footage, thereby padding out the original film by ten or fifteen minutes so that it might get distribution and thus see the light of day.  But it turns out the Nazis had nothing to worry about.  The temporal rift created by grafting together the film stock and styles of the late fifties and early sixties was so jarring that the movie elicited only jeers and ridicule.  For years it played in the post-fringe graveyard of late-night television, leaving an astonished few to admire the stamina of the actor forced to kneel for hours at a time behind an old ham radio set and under a bell jar in order to "sell" the illusion of functional decapitation.

Happily for lovers of historical drama,  the saga of Hitler's itinerant brain did not die with that noble, yet failed cinematic experiment.  In 1973, novelist Roland Puccetti tried once again to alert the world to the ongoing hazard presented by allowing Hitler's brain to remain at liberty,  giving us the sublime revisionism of The Death of the Führer (Arrow Books-1973).

I have now read Puccetti's book.  Before recounting its alternative history of the years after the Second World War (absolute and total spoiler alert), let me say this:  The Death of the Führer MUST be adapted for the screen as soon as possible.  How it hasn't already ended up as a major motion picture is a true mystery, one that makes me suspect Nazi sympathizers are once again pressuring Hollywood to ignore the R-rated bombshells contained in this book.  The Death of the Führer is everything Inglourious Basterds hoped to be--but done with such economy and ease that it utterly shames Tarantino's lumbering attempt to pass off what are essentially five interminably long dialog scenes as some kind of fast-paced caper film.  If you want brutal and stunning Nazisploitative action, then Puccetti is your man.

We begin at a Bavarian ski lodge some time in the 1960s.  A young man--his name is unimportant, call him Mr. Framing-Device if you like--has twisted his leg and must stay off the slopes.  An old man sitting on a bench nearby accurately diagnoses the skier's condition from afar--for you see, this old man is a doctor: Karl Giesvius. As so often happens when strangers meet in the Bavarian Alps, their conversation soon turns to Hitler.  Karl, it turns out, knows the REAL story, which he proceeds to tell us:

Ten or so years after the end of WWII,  Karl had been sitting in a Parisian cafe when suddenly a local rushed in and begged him to attend to a dying man elsewhere in the city, a dying man who claimed to have information about the whereabouts of....Hitler!  Understandably intrigued, Karl rushed to the man's bedside to hear a startling confession: "I assisted in the removal and transplantation of Hitler's brain!"  Later, after the man dies, Karl looks through some old photos and verifies that the dying man had indeed been a member of the Führer's personal medical team.  He decides to fly to Berlin and begin his investigation.

First task: get inside the Führerbunker and see if any clues are still there.  Now, you might think the Führerbunker would have been picked over for just about any and all items of historical import, and that accessing it would be difficult if not impossible.  But this turns out not to the be the case.  Consulting a map of the compound, Karl figures out where the ventilation shaft should be, and after moving a few well-placed rocks, he's unearthed the entrance.  After shimmying down the vent, he's the first person to stand in the Führerbunker since the Russians collapsed the entrances at the end of the war.  What's down there?  Junk, mostly.  It would also appear a Russian soldier took a retributive shit on Hitler's bed, an extremely resilient shit considering it somehow survived for a decade before Karl descended into the bunker to witness it.  He checks out the conference room.  Nothing.  Eva Braun's bedroom.  Nothing.  He's just about to give up and/or suffocate from a lack of oxygen when finally Karl discovers a hidden passageway connecting Hitler's bedroom to... a secret surgical theater! 

Looking around the tiled room with his flashlight, Karl discovers a bloody operating table and scalpels that still have hair on them (the hair of Hitler!).  Strangely, though the Nazis had apparently pioneered the art of brain transplantation, they still didn't quite understand that one should shave a surgical area before operating.  Karl continues his search for evidence.  His flashlight illuminates a strange object on the floor.  Bingo! It's a brain!  

Hitler's brain?  Well, no, actually--Karl quickly reasons it is the brain of the poor schmuck who donated his body so that Hitler could have a new ride.  This was some particularly good writing, I thought.  Here Puccetti captures the urgency of the situation back in 1945.  With the allies advancing, Nazi doctors had no time to wash down the operating theater nor throw away the old brain--a point Puccetti emphasizes by revealing that the floor-brain is still in the steely clutches of the forceps used so many years ago to wrench it from its skull!  There's also a bucket of congealed blood nearby, but Puccetti does not speculate as to why the brain didn't end up there rather than on the floor. Also, we are left to wonder how this brain tissue, much like the enduring pile of Russian infantry crap in the next room, could survive more or less in tact for over a decade.

Karl's investigation continues. He finds a plaque bearing the name of the surgical genius responsible for all this brain shuffling: Dr. Wilhelm Tager.  Karl is flabbergasted.  Tager, as it turns out, was his buddy from medical school before the war, his old fencing partner, and a genius of neurology who finished at the top of their class.  That just about seals it.  Find Tager find Hitler's brain, he reasons.  And then he can kill them both!

After a little more detective work, Karl tracks Tager down to a remote castle somewhere in Spain.  Next obstacle: How to infiltrate a well-guarded compound full of evil Nazi scientists?  Here Karl decides for an elegantly direct approach--he simply floors his motorcycle and breaks through the front gate (as seen on the action-packed cover above).  That might seem crazy, but Karl's plan is actually a bit more complicated.  After taking a few Nazi bullets and wrecking his bike into a tree, it is Karl's hope that Dr. Tager will attend to him and then recognize him from their college days.  And this is precisely what happens.  After surgery, Karl wakes up and tells his "old friend" that he just happened to be vacationing in Spain and that the throttle on his motorcycle just happened to get stuck--that's why he crashed through the gate uncontrollably. 

One might think that the Nazi brain trust (those entrusted with the Nazi brain, that is) hiding out in Spain would be the most paranoid gated-community on the planet--but no one seems to question the fact that Karl, unseen by Tager since before the war, has suddenly and seemingly coincidentally arrived on their doorstep.  Before you know it, all the Nazis have welcomed Karl into their little clique, probably because Karl wastes no time fishing for Hitler leads by constantly bemoaning the fate of the Third Reich.

Later, once he's completely healed from his injuries, Karl is invited to a big party hosted by the owner of the castle, the beautiful Baroness Gerda Bach-Wisliceny. The party goes well as Karl learns a few new tidbits by eavesdropping.  But still no sign of Hitler's noodle.

Things really heat up later that night when a guard knocks on Karl's door.  The Baroness has requested a private audience.  Well, one thing leads to another, and before you know it Karl and the Baroness are in her bedroom ripping off each other's clothes.  And then this happens:


Her fingers dug into my arms with sharp nails, her back arched spasmodically, she started to pull me down deep into a bottomless pit.  Somewhere within my body a train of cold liquid left its station with relentless fury and plunged on to its destination.

Here Puccetti is telling us, as artfully as he can, that Karl is about to ejaculate into the Baroness.  The story continues.

Gerda's eyes opened widely now.  The pupils looked dark in the fire glow, much darker than before, and somehow beyond them and behind them there was a deep rustling of Teutonic forests, of shadowy predators roaming in the night...Only then did I raise my trembling, terribly tired fingers to her head, slide them under the golden hair and feel the bony ridge across her skull.  Only then did her lips part to give the fateful cry. 
      'ICH BIN DER FUHRER.'
Yes, friends, our intrepid hero and narrator has just enjoyed a simultaneous orgasm with Adolph Hitler-- a drop-dead gorgeous Hitler, mind you, but Hitler nonetheless (an alternate cover for the book foregrounds this reveal a bit more forcefully). 

Some might be thinking this was surprisingly enlightened on Hitler's part, this willingness to have his brain transplanted into a woman.  Funny thing about that--it was actually a complete surprise for the Führer.  Later we learn that Tager and his team had a young, strapping Aryan male all ready to host Hitler's brain, but the kid died during surgery from an unforeseen complication.  The original Baroness Gerda Bach-Wisliceny, a loyalist if ever there was one, stepped right up and volunteered her body.  Man, was Hitler ever mad when he woke up.  But we are told that the Führer eventually warmed up to and even embraced the idea of being a sexy Baroness.  Realizing it made for a good hiding place, the brain decided to stay put.

But back to the post-coital revelation that our narrator just had some manner of queerly heteronormative gay sex with Hitler.  "What would I do," wonders the reader, "under such circumstances?"  Given that Karl is dedicated above all else to his mission, he loses no time recovering from this quite literal "mindfuck" and stabs Baroness Hitler-brain straight through the heart, leaving her for dead.

For the next twenty or so pages, Karl is on the run trying to evade capture in the compound.  He jumps a guard and steals his uniform, which buys him a little more time to wander around the castle in search of a way out.  Eventually he finds another series of hidden passageways leading deeper and deeper into the castle's foundations.  Finally he stumbles upon, wouldn't you know it, another goddamn secret operating theater!  No sooner have you killed Hitler's host body than his evil surgical team is right back at it putting his brain in yet another body.  Actually, Karl probably should have seen this coming. After all, as narrator, he of all people should understand the basic premise of his own story.  Caught off guard indulging in some well-deserved self-recrimination, Karl is taken into custody and whisked away to a holding cell. 

You're probably thinking at this point that Karl himself is destined to be the new donor body for Hitler's brain.  Makes sense.  Hitler needs the body and the Nazis no longer need Karl--that's certainly what a lesser writer would settle for here.  But Puccetti has other and much more incredible ambitions.  Karl is wheeled into surgery alright, but finds that his nemesis Dr. Tager instead plans to implant a type of experimental electrode "harness" in Karl's brain.  In fact, he forces Karl to remain awake as he cuts off the top of his skull and inserts the electrodes one by one.  Later, in post-op, we discover that Tager and his assistants can now control Karl's actions simply by pushing the appropriate buttons: THIRST, HUNGER, LUST, etc.  This is the sort of thing Nazi doctors live for, apparently.  Bouncing Hitler's brain from body to body is a neat trick and all, but Tager's real ambition is to rule the world by implanting electrodes in every human skull!  We also discover here that Tager has no real investment in Nazi ideology--he chose to ride Hitler's coattails only because Hitler seemed--at the time at least-- the most likely to make his dream of global brain control come true.  He would just as easily have cast his lot with the Americans or Russians, if need be.  That's just how evil Tager is--the pure evil of pure science.

After some pleasure/pain interrogation from Tager and his buttons, Karl is taken back to his cell, which it so happens is a glass cube.  There he devises a brilliant plan.  He will break the glass by ramming his head into the wall, which will also probably disable the brain-electrode stuff at the top of his brain.  At the very least, he reasons, it will interfere with its optimal operation.  Gathering his strength and courage, he runs headlong into the glass--so hard that he blacks out.  When he comes to, however, he finds the plan has indeed worked--there is nothing but shattered glass all around him (and no guards, apparently).  Karl quickly runs back to the lab and pulls all the wiring out of the control-console so that Tager cannot send any more brain signals.

But the console can be quickly repaired, Karl reasons.  No, there is simply no way around it, the electrode net in his brain must come out.  But how?  Who will do the delicate surgery?  Karl.  Karl will do the surgery.  Karl will do the surgery on himself.  Brain surgery.  Karl will perform brain surgery on his own brain.

Are you beginning to understand why this novel must be committed to film as soon as possible?  I already have Scarlett Johansson down for the role of the Baroness.  As for Karl...well, who cares really?  I just want to see the scene wherein Scarlett Johansson reveals that she is actually a busty receptacle for Hitler's devious brain.  I would trade you any number of Final Destinations and/or Centipede units for such a moment to be captured on film.

Back to the brain surgery.  Karl sets up a mirror to see the top of his head.  "The scalp was easy," Karl tells us.  Then the skull bone.  Then the membrane covering the brain.  Underneath are the electrodes.  Though delicately inserted only hours earlier by Dr. Tager, Karl finds he is able to simply rip them out of his brain with no real consequences.  But the suspense isn't over:

There I was, nude and exhausted, unarmed and with the whole top of my brain exposed to raw air. If I so much as leaned forward, the cerebrospinal fluid encasing my brain would spill out; I could imagine the sticky liquid dripping over into my face and blinding me.  

To make matters worse, a guard suddenly appears and interrupts the operation.  Luckily, Karl still has the presence (and fluid) of mind to dispatch him with a nearby bone saw.  But there he remains, his brain still exposed to "raw air" and all of his brain juice about to spill out.  He decides he has no time to stitch the membrane and just goes for wiring the skull back in place.  After that he's so tired that he just kind of flops his scalp back over the bone, figuring he'll deal with that after he's finished killing Tager and finding Hitler's new cranial hideaway.

Eventually he corners Tager and forces him at gunpoint to the "vault"--the most secret of secret chambers in the bottom floors of the castle.  Inside is the requisite vat with Hitler's pulsating brain floating inside, awaiting its new host.  As an incidental detail, we are also told there are two crossed sabers on the wall as part of the castle's Coat of Arms. Almost immediately, however, this proves not to be incidental as Tager calls Karl's bluff on the number of bullets in the gun, which leads directly to the two men retrieving those very same sabers and reliving their days as college fencing opponents (remember? I told you about that earlier).  Karl is worried, for he never beat Tager in their university matches, but it remains his only hope.  Thrust and parry.  Thrust and parry.  And then Karl spies an "Auto-Destruction" button on the wall.  It's true.  He really does.  A big red button that will blow everything up.  Even if Karl can't escape, he can blow up the entire castle, Hitler's brain, and all the remaining Nazis at the same time!  

Karl pushes the button.  No, you fool! screams Tager.  Ten minutes to absolute annihilation.  Just then Karl sees that the brain vat has become unmoored and is rolling into the periphery of his vision.  Two quick ballet leaps and he is standing over the bubbling vat. He then drives his sword directly into the Fuhrer's brain!  Tager screams in horror, and Karl takes advantage of his shock to stab Tager "in the crotch" all the way back to the pelvis.  Tager collapses, and in doing so, knocks over the now pinkish red vat of brain and blood.  Hitler's brain slides across the floor where Karl, not wanting to leave anything to chance, scoops it up. 

Karl must escape--the castle is still going to blow at any second.  Miraculously, he discovers another secret door leading to some kind of mining-car contraption below.  Still clutching the well-stabbed yet still relatively cohesive Hitler brain, he jumps in and releases the brakes.  A bloody Tager crawls along the tracks begging for mercy.   But no dice.  Karl rides the mining-car out of the castle and out into the open air.  There he sees a mighty condor flying through the sky, and considers throwing Hitler's brain on the grass so that the majestic bird might swoop down and carry it away.  For that would be a fitting final indignity for Hitler's stupid evil brain--snatched up by razor-sharp talons and fed to a nest full of baby condors.  Just then the earth rocks with the force of the castle exploding.  In the end, Karl simply falls on the brain and "collapses" it good and flat.  

Victory!

Back to our Bavarian ski-lodge in the present day.  The story over, Mr. Framing-Device doesn't know what to think. Did this old man really have sex with Hitler in a woman's body, operate on his own brain, and then almost throw Hitler's brain to a hungry condor?  Just then a nurse appears on scene to retrieve Karl--the sun is setting and it's time to go back home.  Mr. Framing-Device takes the nurse aside and asks if he might visit Karl again some day.  "Why not?"the nurse responds, "visiting hours at the sanatorium are open to everyone."

And there we leave it.  Karl might be crazy.  Then again, he might just have a bad case of tuberculosis.  I guess the next generation of historians will have to make the ultimate determination: did Tager somehow get the brain back and put it in Scarlett Johansson, or did it end up in the bellies of a dozen hungry little condor chicks?

Unknown Tongues--Tomfoolery or Not? (n.d.)

Morris Chalfant
Church of the Nazarene

A number of people in the Bible "speak in tongues;" however, the Bible never claims that "speaking in tongues" is incontrovertible evidence of God's presence in the speaker.  In fact, it can also signal demonic possession.  Therefore, "unknown tongues" may well be "tomfoolery" and should be treated as such. 

I did a little extra research and discovered that "Tomfoolery" is a word that dates to 1812.  No one seems to know the exact derivation, but I'd like to think there was once a guy named Tom who was very easy to fool by resorting to obstreperous comic shenanigans.

"I Had Sex with Hitler and then Almost Fed His Brain to a Condor"

If you're like most dolts produced by the American education system, you probably actually believe Adolph Hitler died in his bunker in 1945 when the Russian Army reached Berlin.  Such ignorance is understandable, given how important it was, then and now, to protect the world from the terrifying REALITY of the situation, namely this: At the end of WWII, Adolph Hitler's brain was surgically removed, placed in stasis, and then transplanted into a willing new host!   Most likely, "Hitler" is still somewhere on the planet today, scheming, ever scheming, to return and complete his plans for world domination. My money says the brain is now in Rick Perry.  Every Texas yahoo talks about secession now and then, but Perry's recent campaign pledge to annex the Sudetenland is troubling to say the least.

They Saved Hitler's Brain (aka The Madman of Mandoras) (1963) dared speak this truth in the tortured logic of Z-cinema some fifty years ago.  Legend has it that the film began shooting in the late fifties--only to be shut down by Nazi agents in Hollywood looking to suppress its startling revelations.  It took the courage of a rag-tag band of UCLA students in the early sixties to shoot some additional framing footage, thereby padding out the original film by ten or fifteen minutes so that it might get distribution and thus see the light of day.  But it turns out the Nazis had nothing to worry about.  The temporal rift created by grafting together the film stock and styles of the late fifties and early sixties was so jarring that the movie elicited only jeers and ridicule.  For years it played in the post-fringe graveyard of late-night television, leaving an astonished few to admire the stamina of the actor forced to kneel for hours at a time behind an old ham radio set and under a bell jar in order to "sell" the illusion of functional decapitation.

Happily for lovers of historical drama,  the saga of Hitler's itinerant brain did not die with that noble, yet failed cinematic experiment.  In 1973, novelist Roland Puccetti tried once again to alert the world to the ongoing hazard presented by allowing Hitler's brain to remain at liberty,  giving us the sublime revisionism of The Death of the Führer (Arrow Books-1973).

I have now read Puccetti's book.  Before recounting its alternative history of the years after the Second World War (absolute and total spoiler alert), let me say this:  The Death of the Führer MUST be adapted for the screen as soon as possible.  How it hasn't already ended up as a major motion picture is a true mystery, one that makes me suspect Nazi sympathizers are once again pressuring Hollywood to ignore the R-rated bombshells contained in this book.  The Death of the Führer is everything Inglourious Basterds hoped to be--but done with such economy and ease that it utterly shames Tarantino's lumbering attempt to pass off what are essentially five interminably long dialog scenes as some kind of fast-paced caper film.  If you want brutal and stunning Nazisploitative action, then Puccetti is your man.

We begin at a Bavarian ski lodge some time in the 1960s.  A young man--his name is unimportant, call him Mr. Framing-Device if you like--has twisted his leg and must stay off the slopes.  An old man sitting on a bench nearby accurately diagnoses the skier's condition from afar--for you see, this old man is a doctor: Karl Giesvius. As so often happens when strangers meet in the Bavarian Alps, their conversation soon turns to Hitler.  Karl, it turns out, knows the REAL story, which he proceeds to tell us:

Ten or so years after the end of WWII,  Karl had been sitting in a Parisian cafe when suddenly a local rushed in and begged him to attend to a dying man elsewhere in the city, a dying man who claimed to have information about the whereabouts of....Hitler!  Understandably intrigued, Karl rushed to the man's bedside to hear a startling confession: "I assisted in the removal and transplantation of Hitler's brain!"  Later, after the man dies, Karl looks through some old photos and verifies that the dying man had indeed been a member of the Führer's personal medical team.  He decides to fly to Berlin and begin his investigation.

First task: get inside the Führerbunker and see if any clues are still there.  Now, you might think the Führerbunker would have been picked over for just about any and all items of historical import, and that accessing it would be difficult if not impossible.  But this turns out not to the be the case.  Consulting a map of the compound, Karl figures out where the ventilation shaft should be, and after moving a few well-placed rocks, he's unearthed the entrance.  After shimmying down the vent, he's the first person to stand in the Führerbunker since the Russians collapsed the entrances at the end of the war.  What's down there?  Junk, mostly.  It would also appear a Russian soldier took a retributive shit on Hitler's bed, an extremely resilient shit considering it somehow survived for a decade before Karl descended into the bunker to witness it.  He checks out the conference room.  Nothing.  Eva Braun's bedroom.  Nothing.  He's just about to give up and/or suffocate from a lack of oxygen when finally Karl discovers a hidden passageway connecting Hitler's bedroom to... a secret surgical theater! 

Looking around the tiled room with his flashlight, Karl discovers a bloody operating table and scalpels that still have hair on them (the hair of Hitler!).  Strangely, though the Nazis had apparently pioneered the art of brain transplantation, they still didn't quite understand that one should shave a surgical area before operating.  Karl continues his search for evidence.  His flashlight illuminates a strange object on the floor.  Bingo! It's a brain!  

Hitler's brain?  Well, no, actually--Karl quickly reasons it is the brain of the poor schmuck who donated his body so that Hitler could have a new ride.  This was some particularly good writing, I thought.  Here Puccetti captures the urgency of the situation back in 1945.  With the allies advancing, Nazi doctors had no time to wash down the operating theater nor throw away the old brain--a point Puccetti emphasizes by revealing that the floor-brain is still in the steely clutches of the forceps used so many years ago to wrench it from its skull!  There's also a bucket of congealed blood nearby, but Puccetti does not speculate as to why the brain didn't end up there rather than on the floor. Also, we are left to wonder how this brain tissue, much like the enduring pile of Russian infantry crap in the next room, could survive more or less in tact for over a decade.

Karl's investigation continues. He finds a plaque bearing the name of the surgical genius responsible for all this brain shuffling: Dr. Wilhelm Tager.  Karl is flabbergasted.  Tager, as it turns out, was his buddy from medical school before the war, his old fencing partner, and a genius of neurology who finished at the top of their class.  That just about seals it.  Find Tager find Hitler's brain, he reasons.  And then he can kill them both!

After a little more detective work, Karl tracks Tager down to a remote castle somewhere in Spain.  Next obstacle: How to infiltrate a well-guarded compound full of evil Nazi scientists?  Here Karl decides for an elegantly direct approach--he simply floors his motorcycle and breaks through the front gate (as seen on the action-packed cover above).  That might seem crazy, but Karl's plan is actually a bit more complicated.  After taking a few Nazi bullets and wrecking his bike into a tree, it is Karl's hope that Dr. Tager will attend to him and then recognize him from their college days.  And this is precisely what happens.  After surgery, Karl wakes up and tells his "old friend" that he just happened to be vacationing in Spain and that the throttle on his motorcycle just happened to get stuck--that's why he crashed through the gate uncontrollably. 

One might think that the Nazi brain trust (those entrusted with the Nazi brain, that is) hiding out in Spain would be the most paranoid gated-community on the planet--but no one seems to question the fact that Karl, unseen by Tager since before the war, has suddenly and seemingly coincidentally arrived on their doorstep.  Before you know it, all the Nazis have welcomed Karl into their little clique, probably because Karl wastes no time fishing for Hitler leads by constantly bemoaning the fate of the Third Reich.

Later, once he's completely healed from his injuries, Karl is invited to a big party hosted by the owner of the castle, the beautiful Baroness Gerda Bach-Wisliceny. The party goes well as Karl learns a few new tidbits by eavesdropping.  But still no sign of Hitler's noodle.

Things really heat up later that night when a guard knocks on Karl's door.  The Baroness has requested a private audience.  Well, one thing leads to another, and before you know it Karl and the Baroness are in her bedroom ripping off each other's clothes.  And then this happens:


Her fingers dug into my arms with sharp nails, her back arched spasmodically, she started to pull me down deep into a bottomless pit.  Somewhere within my body a train of cold liquid left its station with relentless fury and plunged on to its destination.

Here Puccetti is telling us, as artfully as he can, that Karl is about to ejaculate into the Baroness.  The story continues.

Gerda's eyes opened widely now.  The pupils looked dark in the fire glow, much darker than before, and somehow beyond them and behind them there was a deep rustling of Teutonic forests, of shadowy predators roaming in the night...Only then did I raise my trembling, terribly tired fingers to her head, slide them under the golden hair and feel the bony ridge across her skull.  Only then did her lips part to give the fateful cry. 
      'ICH BIN DER FUHRER.'
Yes, friends, our intrepid hero and narrator has just enjoyed a simultaneous orgasm with Adolph Hitler-- a drop-dead gorgeous Hitler, mind you, but Hitler nonetheless (an alternate cover for the book foregrounds this reveal a bit more forcefully). 

Some might be thinking this was surprisingly enlightened on Hitler's part, this willingness to have his brain transplanted into a woman.  Funny thing about that--it was actually a complete surprise for the Führer.  Later we learn that Tager and his team had a young, strapping Aryan male all ready to host Hitler's brain, but the kid died during surgery from an unforeseen complication.  The original Baroness Gerda Bach-Wisliceny, a loyalist if ever there was one, stepped right up and volunteered her body.  Man, was Hitler ever mad when he woke up.  But we are told that the Führer eventually warmed up to and even embraced the idea of being a sexy Baroness.  Realizing it made for a good hiding place, the brain decided to stay put.

But back to the post-coital revelation that our narrator just had some manner of queerly heteronormative gay sex with Hitler.  "What would I do," wonders the reader, "under such circumstances?"  Given that Karl is dedicated above all else to his mission, he loses no time recovering from this quite literal "mindfuck" and stabs Baroness Hitler-brain straight through the heart, leaving her for dead.

For the next twenty or so pages, Karl is on the run trying to evade capture in the compound.  He jumps a guard and steals his uniform, which buys him a little more time to wander around the castle in search of a way out.  Eventually he finds another series of hidden passageways leading deeper and deeper into the castle's foundations.  Finally he stumbles upon, wouldn't you know it, another goddamn secret operating theater!  No sooner have you killed Hitler's host body than his evil surgical team is right back at it putting his brain in yet another body.  Actually, Karl probably should have seen this coming. After all, as narrator, he of all people should understand the basic premise of his own story.  Caught off guard indulging in some well-deserved self-recrimination, Karl is taken into custody and whisked away to a holding cell. 

You're probably thinking at this point that Karl himself is destined to be the new donor body for Hitler's brain.  Makes sense.  Hitler needs the body and the Nazis no longer need Karl--that's certainly what a lesser writer would settle for here.  But Puccetti has other and much more incredible ambitions.  Karl is wheeled into surgery alright, but finds that his nemesis Dr. Tager instead plans to implant a type of experimental electrode "harness" in Karl's brain.  In fact, he forces Karl to remain awake as he cuts off the top of his skull and inserts the electrodes one by one.  Later, in post-op, we discover that Tager and his assistants can now control Karl's actions simply by pushing the appropriate buttons: THIRST, HUNGER, LUST, etc.  This is the sort of thing Nazi doctors live for, apparently.  Bouncing Hitler's brain from body to body is a neat trick and all, but Tager's real ambition is to rule the world by implanting electrodes in every human skull!  We also discover here that Tager has no real investment in Nazi ideology--he chose to ride Hitler's coattails only because Hitler seemed--at the time at least-- the most likely to make his dream of global brain control come true.  He would just as easily have cast his lot with the Americans or Russians, if need be.  That's just how evil Tager is--the pure evil of pure science.

After some pleasure/pain interrogation from Tager and his buttons, Karl is taken back to his cell, which it so happens is a glass cube.  There he devises a brilliant plan.  He will break the glass by ramming his head into the wall, which will also probably disable the brain-electrode stuff at the top of his brain.  At the very least, he reasons, it will interfere with its optimal operation.  Gathering his strength and courage, he runs headlong into the glass--so hard that he blacks out.  When he comes to, however, he finds the plan has indeed worked--there is nothing but shattered glass all around him (and no guards, apparently).  Karl quickly runs back to the lab and pulls all the wiring out of the control-console so that Tager cannot send any more brain signals.

But the console can be quickly repaired, Karl reasons.  No, there is simply no way around it, the electrode net in his brain must come out.  But how?  Who will do the delicate surgery?  Karl.  Karl will do the surgery.  Karl will do the surgery on himself.  Brain surgery.  Karl will perform brain surgery on his own brain.

Are you beginning to understand why this novel must be committed to film as soon as possible?  I already have Scarlett Johansson down for the role of the Baroness.  As for Karl...well, who cares really?  I just want to see the scene wherein Scarlett Johansson reveals that she is actually a busty receptacle for Hitler's devious brain.  I would trade you any number of Final Destinations and/or Centipede units for such a moment to be captured on film.

Back to the brain surgery.  Karl sets up a mirror to see the top of his head.  "The scalp was easy," Karl tells us.  Then the skull bone.  Then the membrane covering the brain.  Underneath are the electrodes.  Though delicately inserted only hours earlier by Dr. Tager, Karl finds he is able to simply rip them out of his brain with no real consequences.  But the suspense isn't over:

There I was, nude and exhausted, unarmed and with the whole top of my brain exposed to raw air. If I so much as leaned forward, the cerebrospinal fluid encasing my brain would spill out; I could imagine the sticky liquid dripping over into my face and blinding me.  

To make matters worse, a guard suddenly appears and interrupts the operation.  Luckily, Karl still has the presence (and fluid) of mind to dispatch him with a nearby bone saw.  But there he remains, his brain still exposed to "raw air" and all of his brain juice about to spill out.  He decides he has no time to stitch the membrane and just goes for wiring the skull back in place.  After that he's so tired that he just kind of flops his scalp back over the bone, figuring he'll deal with that after he's finished killing Tager and finding Hitler's new cranial hideaway.

Eventually he corners Tager and forces him at gunpoint to the "vault"--the most secret of secret chambers in the bottom floors of the castle.  Inside is the requisite vat with Hitler's pulsating brain floating inside, awaiting its new host.  As an incidental detail, we are also told there are two crossed sabers on the wall as part of the castle's Coat of Arms. Almost immediately, however, this proves not to be incidental as Tager calls Karl's bluff on the number of bullets in the gun, which leads directly to the two men retrieving those very same sabers and reliving their days as college fencing opponents (remember? I told you about that earlier).  Karl is worried, for he never beat Tager in their university matches, but it remains his only hope.  Thrust and parry.  Thrust and parry.  And then Karl spies an "Auto-Destruction" button on the wall.  It's true.  He really does.  A big red button that will blow everything up.  Even if Karl can't escape, he can blow up the entire castle, Hitler's brain, and all the remaining Nazis at the same time!  

Karl pushes the button.  No, you fool! screams Tager.  Ten minutes to absolute annihilation.  Just then Karl sees that the brain vat has become unmoored and is rolling into the periphery of his vision.  Two quick ballet leaps and he is standing over the bubbling vat. He then drives his sword directly into the Fuhrer's brain!  Tager screams in horror, and Karl takes advantage of his shock to stab Tager "in the crotch" all the way back to the pelvis.  Tager collapses, and in doing so, knocks over the now pinkish red vat of brain and blood.  Hitler's brain slides across the floor where Karl, not wanting to leave anything to chance, scoops it up. 

Karl must escape--the castle is still going to blow at any second.  Miraculously, he discovers another secret door leading to some kind of mining-car contraption below.  Still clutching the well-stabbed yet still relatively cohesive Hitler brain, he jumps in and releases the brakes.  A bloody Tager crawls along the tracks begging for mercy.   But no dice.  Karl rides the mining-car out of the castle and out into the open air.  There he sees a mighty condor flying through the sky, and considers throwing Hitler's brain on the grass so that the majestic bird might swoop down and carry it away.  For that would be a fitting final indignity for Hitler's stupid evil brain--snatched up by razor-sharp talons and fed to a nest full of baby condors.  Just then the earth rocks with the force of the castle exploding.  In the end, Karl simply falls on the brain and "collapses" it good and flat.  

Victory!

Back to our Bavarian ski-lodge in the present day.  The story over, Mr. Framing-Device doesn't know what to think. Did this old man really have sex with Hitler in a woman's body, operate on his own brain, and then almost throw Hitler's brain to a hungry condor?  Just then a nurse appears on scene to retrieve Karl--the sun is setting and it's time to go back home.  Mr. Framing-Device takes the nurse aside and asks if he might visit Karl again some day.  "Why not?"the nurse responds, "visiting hours at the sanatorium are open to everyone."

And there we leave it.  Karl might be crazy.  Then again, he might just have a bad case of tuberculosis.  I guess the next generation of historians will have to make the ultimate determination: did Tager somehow get the brain back and put it in Scarlett Johansson, or did it end up in the bellies of a dozen hungry little condor chicks?