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e-book: Afterlife


 

War Letters From The Living Dead Man


Introduction

LETTER

 I.

The Return of "X"
II. A Dweller on the Threshold
III. An Assurance
IV. The Way of Understanding
V. Astral Monsters
VI. The Archduke
VII. The "Chosen People"
VIII. Spectres of the Congo
IX. Unseen Guardians
X. One Day as a Thousand Years
XI. Many Tongues
XII. The Beautiful Being
XIII. The Body of Humanity
XIV. The Foeman Within
XV. Listening in Brussels
XVI. The Sixth Race
XVII. An American on Guard
XVIII. A Master of Compassion
XIX. The Rose-Veiled Stranger
XX. Above the Battlefields
XXI. A Soul in Purgatory
XXII. Peace Propaganda
XXIII. The Mystery of Desire
XXIV. The Scales of Justice
XXV. For Love's Sake
XXVI. A Master of Mind
XXVII. Invisible Enemies
XXVIII. The Glory of War
XXIX. A Friend of "X"
XXX. The Rose and the Cross
XXXI. A Serbian Magician
XXXII. Judas and Typhon
XXXIII. Crowns of Straw
XXXIV. The Sylph and the Father
XXXV. Behind the Dark Veil
XXXVI. The "Lusitania"
XXXVII. Veiled Prophecies
XXXVIII. Advice to a Scribe
XXXIX. One of These Little Ones
XL. The Height and the Depth
XLI. A Conclave of Masters
XLII. A Lesson in the Kabala
XLIII. The Second Coming
XLIV. Poison Gases
XLV. The Superman
XLVI. The Entering Wedge
XLVII. The New Brotherhood
XLVIII. In the Crucible
XLIX. Black Magic in America
L. Things to Remember


 

 

 

LETTER XLVI

 

THE ENTERING WEDGE 

            After our writing of last night, in which I told you of the tortured soul who asked my judgment on a course of teaching which had corrupted a nation, I went back to the battle line in France. (The Germans cannot sink me with their torpedoes.)
            Passing slowly along the German side, I saw again the tall majestic form, dark-veiled about the head, which I described to you in a previous letter.
            This time I hailed him, without waiting for him to hail me.
            “How goes your work?” I asked.
            He threw back the veil which covered him, and I saw the dark and splendid face, marked deep by thought and evil.
            “My work goes as it goes,” he answered. “And what have you been doing?”
            “Writing to the world this evening,” I replied.

            He laughed.
            “Have you been writing about peace?”
            “Not this time. I have been writing about a conversation I had with a great and troubled soul.”
            “Yes, I know.”
            “You know, do you? Were you listening?”
            “Through my long-distance telephone.”
            “Brilliant invention, the telephone,” I observed. “Did you inspire the invention?”
            “I? Oh, no! I worked against it.”
            “And why?”
            “It is not well that man should know too much.”
            “But when man makes discoveries, notwithstanding your efforts to hinder him, you attempt to use those discoveries against him, do you not?”
            “Of course.”
            “You interest me,” I said. “And were you interested by my conversation with the soul of Friedrich Nietzsche?”
            “More interested than you can imagine, until I tell you why.”
            “And you will tell me why?”

            “There is no reason for my not telling you. I am frank with those who see through me.”
            “Why don’t you teach that to the Germans?”
            “Because it would spoil my game. I want to destroy them after I have used them, and if they should turn frank, they would be so thorough in their frankness that they would disarm the indignant world.”
            “They are frank enough in their brutality,” I said.
            “Oh, yes! But that is another matter. Should they be frank in their repentance, the world would forgive them.”
            “But what of Nietzsche?” I questioned.
            “Only this, that it was I who inspired him.”
            “You did your work thoroughly.”
            “I do my work as thoroughly as it can be done.”
            “Tell me more,” I urged.
            “What a worker was lost in you,” he exclaimed, “when you chose good for your standard!”
            “But I am an excellent worker,” I insisted. “I have even balked some of your work.”
            He laughed, a quick, sharp laugh.

            “Don’t think that I care too much for that,” he said. “There is more than one road for me. If you block the door, I can go in by the window.”
            “And how did you go into Nietzsche?”
            “Sometimes by one way, sometimes by another. He only locked his door against man, and you see I also am Beyond Man.”
            “I perceived that at our first meeting. He who goes beyond man must make the choice between good and evil.”
            “There is no fooling you,” he said, “and so I no longer try. Yes, it was I who inspired Nietzsche to preach Beyond Man to the Germans, who could only choose evil when they believed themselves strong.”
            “And what do you get out of it?”
            For answer, he asked a question:
            “Did you ever play chess?”
            “Often, in many lives,” I answered.
            “Did you have an interest in the game?”
            “A great interest.”
            “Did you play for stakes?”
            “No.”
            “Then what interested you?”
            “Why, the game.”

            “Of course,” he said. “That is how I enjoy my game. I play to win, if I can. When I do not win, I have had the pleasure of the game.”
            “And you played with that great man’s soul?”
            “As a cat plays with a mouse. I found in him an earnest spirit, with a sore spot in his head and in his heart. He was an easy one.”
            “How did you go about it?”
            “By the usual method.”
            “And that is?”
            “Flattery.”
            “And he did not smell a rat?”
            “The rats were perfumed. He is an aesthete.”
            “Do you always perfume the rats?”
            “It isn’t always necessary. I perfumed yours.”
            “Yes,” I said, “with the patchouli of peace. But I have a keen scent.”
            “Yes, the Others have taught you too well.”
            “Did Nietzsche ever see you as I see you?”
            “He saw my distinguished face, and he felt the thrill of my power, and he envied and desired to be like me. It is great sport when these earnest mortals are anxious to emulate me!”

            “And so you taught him Beyond Man?”
            “Yes, and I taught him to despise the One who was really Beyond Man.”
            “Then you are not really Beyond Man yourself?”
            “My head is. My other members are nearer the earth.”
            “Notwithstanding the dignity of your presence?”
            “Oh, there is a dignity in the earth and in what belongs to the earth!”
            “Did the German philosopher ever know you for what you are?”
            “Yes, toward the end, but then it was too late to undo my work.”
            “Then also at the end,” I exclaimed, “he saw the two forms of Beyond Man, you and the Christ!”
            “Yes, he saw. The seeing drove him mad.”
            “And you have no remorse for your work?”
            “Remorse? What is that?”
            “Remorse is an emotion which men feel when they are conscious of having done evil.”
            “An emotion that men feel,” he repeated. “But I only feel those emotions of men which give me pleasure in the feeling.”

            “Such as—”
            “You are really too curious and inquisitive!”
            “Granted, my curiosity and inquisitiveness,” I said. “But it interests me, this labor of a lifetime, to make him an instrument through which all this could be produced,” and I indicated by a gesture the battle line beneath us.
            His eyes were brilliant with fire as he answered:
            “What is the lifetime of a man in comparison to the glory of all this? One might labor a thousand years and produce nothing in comparison with this!”
            “It pleases you then, this slaughter?”
            “What a trifling question! It gratifies me, glorifies me, exalts me—all this carnage of battle brought forth by me and my kind.”
            “And did you have all this in mind while you were preparing one man to corrupt a nation by his writings?”

            “Yes. He was the one perfect instrument. None other could have served our purpose so well—ambitious, dissatisfied, aristocratic, arrogant, unloving in the broader sense, capable of infatuation and hence of disenchantment, and last but not least, with eyes open to the vision.”
            “The vision of you?”
            “Yes. He saw me first in dreams, and admired me, and desired to emulate me.”
            “And then you spoke to him of Beyond Man?”
            “Yes, and I used the old arguments that women were of small account; that the love of woman stood in man’s way; that woman enslaved man unless he enslaved her; that Nature was the devil, not the Great Mother, and so was to be combated as far as possible; that man rose to Beyond Man by denying all that could influence him, including Nature, and by asserting whatever gave him freedom, such as his own superiority to all other beings, his mastery of them, his mastery of his own thought, his mastery of good and evil, of fact and falsehood.”
            “A fine combination of fact and falsehood, that teaching of yours,” I said.

            “Of course,” he answered; “but what would you? Truth alone could never have produced this.” And he swept with his long arm the line of battle beneath us.
            “And what else did you teach your chosen disciple?” I asked.
            “I taught him all that he taught the world. Whenever he drove a woman’s face from his heart, I scored a point and he thought himself nearer Beyond Man. Whenever he swelled with pride and superiority, I scored a point and he felt himself nearer Beyond Man. Whenever he read Gospels and sneered to himself at the humility of the so-called Son of Man, I scored two points—one against him and one against your Christ.”
            “Thank you,” I said, “for enrolling me with the followers of the Crucified One. I am such a follower.”
            He ignored my last remark and proceeded:

            “I encouraged his wish to produce a new ideal of a leader, a new Christ, an Antichrist, a hard-faced German Christ, who should not win men by love and compassion, but by cruelty and hardening. Oh, I have done that work well! Many a German has exalted my ideal to the place of the Son of Mary. Many a German has put me in place of the Sun-God, and hailed me as Beyond Man, though he was too cowardly to herald me frankly as Antichrist. Instead, he added my attributes to Christ and called us by one name, and by that name he sought to destroy all pity and compassion, both in himself and in others, sought to destroy all love that stood in his way of becoming like me. It was I who taught him to exalt the cross as a symbol of cruelty, of sacrifice to himself, and not of himself for the love of man.”
            He paused, and gazed out toward the stars that shone serenely above us.
            “You seem to me,” I said, “to be yourself conscious of the superiority of Christ to Antichrist.”
            Again he ignored my remark, and continued the line of his own thought.
            “”What intellectual pleasure it has given me, this transforming of a Christian nation into monsters of egotism and cruelty to all things not their own! The foreigner was to be hated, despised, used, ridiculed, and whenever possible insulted. I taught them that such were the ways of Beyond Man, that so was man surpassed.”

            “But why do you tell all this to me?” I asked. “”Why do you thus lay your cards upon the table, when you know that I hold a better hand?”
            The eyes he turned to me were smouldering lakes of flame.
            “Because I envy you,” he said.
            “Is that some new and more subtle attack upon me and the principles I stand for?”
            The dark one laughed again, his sharp and mirthless laughter.
            “Frankly, no,” he said. “You no longer amuse me as an opponent.”
            “Which means—”
            “That I throw up the game in weariness—that is, for the present. Already the souls I deluded are weary of me and my teaching. They have seen a new light—some of them.”
            “Perhaps,” I said, “they have seen the light of the Christ, the true Beyond Man.”
            “Perhaps,” he repeated.
            “And you have seen it, too?”
            “Faugh!” he said. “Are you ambitious to convert the devil?”
            “Ah, no!”
            Suddenly he turned to me:

            “Will you take me for a pupil?”
            “Again, no,” I answered. “You will make that request of some good woman, with a better chance of deceiving her.”
            “So you know all the tricks?”
            “My teacher has taught me much regarding the ways of your kind.”
            “Then I bid you good evening,” he said, and disappeared in the darkness.
            World for which I write, I am telling you these things that you may be armored with knowledge. When Satan asks you to convert him, beware lest he convert you. When Satan points to Beyond Man, even to Christ, be sure that his Christ is not Antichrist; be sure He is full of compassion, that His heart bleeds for the woes and weakness of the world, that His crown of thorns is the mark of His sacrifice for man, and not merely a becoming ornament. For, as He said:
            “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
            And also:

            “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many,  *  *  *  for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

            June 2.

Letter XVII

LETTER XLV