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by don jolly
art by channing creager

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He leans across the table, a face in the darkness, Harvey Keitel:

"Jesus Christ?

"Sure, I knew him.

"He was the nuisance of the neighborhood in Jerusalem, 2,000 years ago. He screamed in the street when we were sleeping, and he and his friends were moochers. Just, really low-quality people. They never worked a single day in their lives, and still all the widows and the merchants had him over for drinks. Jesus could talk. In fact, it's all he did.

"Some people think what he did to me is a miracle. I say: maybe. But I look at it as a curse. You don't have to be the son of god to curse people, and that's what happened. That son-of-a-bitch Jesus gave me the Evil Eye right as he was marching up Golgotha and I deserved it a little bit, too. I threw my shoes at him.

"I was a cobbler.

"Anyway, I threw the shoes and he got mad and put the whammy on me. Normally a whammy is no big deal, but this ass-hole Jesus got a whole bunch of other assholes to buy into his shit, so that Whammy became something nasty; something really bad. I'm not going to die. I just have to keep moving, all the way until the end of the world. Tough break, but I'm used to it.

"You may have heard stories about me. Most of them are true, except for that shitty book by Sue … Eugene Sue. that's what it was. Eugene Sue. That one I disliked. I didn't like his cadence.

"I make it a point to sit down with most of the important people who turn up, and I'm pretty good at picking em'. What can I say? People are predictable, ultimately. They want a little beer, some nice cooz. A cool place to sleep, when it's hot outside. But they want to believe in something. And they will listen to any kind of shit, and believe it, because they want to. They need to. They don't have any choice. Belief is the only way they can look outside themselves -- into the world as it existed before they were born, and the one that will still be around after they die. I have different problems.

"I don't want you to think I'm an atheist, although over the years I've met more than a few atheistic jews. I believe in God very strongly. But if you want to call my God "Old Testament," go ahead. I like those words. That's what he is: "Old Testament." He's older than anything, and his word can stand up in a court of law, any court. It's true, absolutely. It's not my problem if you idiots, all of you idiots, Christians and Jews and Mooslims too, now that I think about it -- it's not my problem if you misread it. Or if you buy some edited in, happy-ending, Mickey Mouse crap. Better men than you have got it wrong. Trust me. My God drinks blood, and so does yours, wether you see it that way or not.

"My God inflicted Job with sores and boils. He killed the man's entire family. And he did that because a little spirit made a bet with him. It wasn't the devil, my friend. There is no devil. Just devils, everywhere, in the bricks and trees and the rocks, and God does this shit for nothing because he's the worst of the bunch. He doesn't think about us any harder than a chemist thinks about a - a - a microbe, on one of those glass slides. We live, we die, it's all bullshit to him.

"Last month I made it a point to track down an expert shitposter. I think the internet has the potential to be an expansion of the way we think, as a species, and that interests me. Shitposters write on the internet, for the internet. Their work won the last American election for Trump. And more than that, they're starting to organize themselves into collectives, networks and activists. People believe in them, somehow, and that's interesting to me, too. So I found this kid. Now I won't share his name or his handle, but I will share a thing or two about our meeting."
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"Okay.

"This kid lived in the suburbs. And I mean, all the way in the suburbs. Planned houses, new-planted trees, no city. Just this kind of …outpost. A development, out in the desert. Now, because it was so far out of town, the place was really kind of beautiful. You could see the whole sky, especially in the morning, and even though there wasn't any river around, or pond, every yard had a sprinkler, administered by the development. They mowed the lawns, too, I think. Either way, it was really nice. I made sure to correspond with this young man's mother and tell her I was coming, so when I arrived one day a little after noon, she was expecting me. The shitposter's room, she said, was upstairs. So I went up to see him.

"The kid's room was a mess. He was lying on a bed surrounded by candy wrappers and plastic jugs which he'd filled with pee. I don't think he'd had a shower in weeks, and I know what that's like, so it didn't shock me. It did, however, tell me something about his state of mind.

"I saw he had a poster tacked to his wall; a promotional half-sheet for Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., distributed at comic book stores in Fall of 2013. The show, as you probably know, was a collaboration between the complimentary industries of film and network television; a spin-off of Disney's 'Avengers' property designed and budgeted for the prime time crowd. As a result its viewership skews older than streaming shows like Daredevil or Luke Cage and the show itself attempts to duplicate the structure of something like C.S.I. or N.C.I.S.. It's plotty but it makes money for somebody and I have no problem with it. The kid's poster was hanging upside down. 

"'You watch this show?' I asked. 'I watch it too. I try to watch everything. Lotta time to kill. What do you think of it?'

"'lol,' said the kid. 'watching the electric jew.'"

"Now, I should explain that I expected the kid to say this. The word "jew" is a powerful thing. It inspires intense identification, and intense antipathy. The kid wasn't strictly speaking protestant, his family certainly didn't attend church, but the way he used the word 'jew' reminded me of Martin Luther, and he -- believe me -- he was one of the truest and most unique assholes in the world. When I saw what he was doing to Germany I went south for a few hundred years and ended up spending the entire renaissance getting drunk in Italy with the Comte Saint-Germain. I don't like assholes, exactly, but I do respect them. Assholes usually end up  in charge.

"When the kid said 'electric jew' he was borrowing a phrase from a cartoon by A. Wyatt Man, who is famous for racial logos like the big-nosed 'merchant' and the famous "around blacks, never relax" cartoon. 'Man' is an alias, of course, but his stuff has a wide circulation. And he has a cartoon about the 'electric jew' that goes like this:

"There's a picture of a kid, like five or six, and he's got Stars of David in his eyes, like he's been hypnotized, and he says 'mommy, I want to racemix like the cool rappers on T.V.'

"Only he says it slower. 'Mommy … I …Want …to .…racemix like the cool rappers on T.V.' See?

"Behind him, there's a television -- and it's playing music videos. And there's a black guy with a white woman on the screen, and the announcer is saying something like: 'That's the newest chart-topper by big jungle jim, it's all on pink on the inside, brought to you by Morry Shekelberg of the Finkelstein label.' So the idea is that television is lying to you; it's been made by alien interests, and it's putting the whammy on children. This is a deeply suspicious attitude, but I think it's basically right. I've already explained about the whammy.

When I was born, I didn't have "Judaism" the way people talk about it today. I made shoes, and the jews were my people. Jesus was a jerk, but he was jewish, at least as far as I was concerned. But everything changes when one generation dies and their kids get old enough to succeed them. People don't see it, because they're too busy dying, but me and Melmoth and everybody out here: we see things just fine.

And as far as I'm concerned practically the entire population of the planet is a jew; that's how far some version of our thing has spread, but none of them are jews either, really. They just don't think of it the same way I do.

"To the kid, 'the jew' was something to be distrusted; an exploitative interest, hiding in media technology. You can be disgusted, you can disagree. But that's how the kid saw it, and that's how he used the word. When you can't be killed it takes more than that to offend you. I kept goin:

"'I only asked because I saw you had the poster,' I said.  'They gave that poster away at comic book shops. Is that why you have it? Do you like comics? S.H.E.I.L.D…Originally that's Jack Kirby, right? Then Jim Steranko? I've met them. Kirby was an mensch.'

"'lol,' said the kid. 'reading the sequential jew.'"

"'Sequential art,' I said to him, thinking. 'That's interesting. So I guess you've read Scott McCloud? That theoretical stuff?” 

"'lol,' said the kid. 'wasting time on the wood-pulp jew.'

"'Isn't that going too far?' I asked him. He had a shelf full of dog-earred paperbacks, mostly science fiction and critique. 'I see you like books. Do you really think anything printed on wood pulp is part of some mind-control scheme? You like language, obviously, you're a writer.'

"'lol,' said the kid. 'deciphering the significant jew.'

"'So you're a semiotician, then. A structural linguist. Your objection to language is that at a certain point the signifier is arbitrary, and its signified too conceptual to be considered strictly real. You don't agree with Charles Sanders Purse, who posits the existence of a referrant?'

"'lol,' said the kid. 'falling for the linguistic jew.'

'Okay,' I said, sitting down in the kid's computer chair. It had wheels, like something you'd find in an office, and there were a bunch of pictures of little anime girls open on his desktop.

"'I'm beginning to think you only operate by negating things,' I said. 'What do you think about God?

"'lol,' said the kid. 'denying the divine jew.'

'That's interesting,' I said. 'You believe in God, but you think he's trying to trick you and control you, along with the rest of it.' I paused here. I'll admit – for dramatic effect. 'You might be right,' I said. 

'If you believe in the God – do you have any kind of text that you do respect? Do you read the Bible?'

"'lol,' said the kid. 'trusting the biblical jew.'

"'Maybe you don't have to trust it,' I said. 'Maybe it's a record of profound feeling.'

"'lol,' said the kid. 'indulging the neurochemical jew.'

"'I don't buy it,' I said. 'Just because our feelings can be understood as chemical reactions does not invalidate living. I know spirit is a reality. I know there's something of us outside the body.  We have a collective existence, as a species. Men and women -- together. We participate in this spirit when one generation raises its successor. It's powered by birth, and death. That's the world, the spirit, the oversoul.'

"'lol,' said the kid. ''3D women are not important.'

"I thought about that.

"'If you deny everything,' I said, 'If you deny not just writing and the idea of language but also your body and your soul, what claim can you possibly have to a sincere perception of God? What do you believe in, really? What believes in you?'

"'lol,' said the kid.

“And that was all."
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