The Whiteness of the Wail

All monsters face north.

Frankenstein’s creature scrambles over icebergs, and stops every thousandth step to stare straight upward, at the pole star, pulsing and emitting frigid stabs of light. The wendigo comes roaring over the ice floes, invisible and ineffable destroyer. Saucer-Nazis hover in clouds of antigravity hum. One-eyed Wotan crouches alone in blood-matted furs, huddled over a crack in the earth, warming his hands on deep volcanic glow. Russian ICBMs approach, gliding toward the pole on NORAD radar screens, tiny white blips, glimmers of thermonuclear doom, chittering like ghost-larva.

Here, at the uppermost spot on earth, Nordic neverland, there is no east nor west, only south in every direction.

Here, in the true north, the sun never sets, but merely declines into the horizon’s mist-fire, then looms upward - a throbbing blur - again.

In the ultimate north, Valkyries fall in electromagnetic sleet-storms, a rain of screaming virgin battle-rage, turned into light and a slime of freezing tears.

Icebergs creak and moan in a language known only to themselves.

A storm blows up, a death-blast of snow, the most beautiful of powders, whiter than any pure Germanic amphetamine, finer than anesthetic cocaine, more powerful than any pristine squalls of heroin.

Here, in this absolute here, the center of the Ur-storm, there is only sound, the whiteness of the wail, the first and final emanation of the frozen glare-midden. All colors and none, absolute presence and absence. Last cry of oblivion, suction-din draws souls from flesh, eyes from sockets, hair from skin, crystals from their grids, boulders from the earth. Pulling everything upward, into itself.

There are the black holes of outer space. And there are the red holes of the human body. But only one white hole of the north. And it opens its vast mouth, breathing all and nothing, eternity and time itself, inward, into the whiteness.

And then, again, lets loose, a wail wider than the entire world.
On the cover of Classics Illustrated #87 are gathered the fairy queen Titania, Bottom with his grinning ass’s head, and the little green-clad puck. To complete the effect of unreality, underneath is a sleeper in Elizabethan dress, dreaming them all.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: with Oberon declaiming in lust-hardened scorn: “Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.”

It’s just a 15 cent comic book, the same size and shape as any Batman, Mighty Thor or Archie. But the language is straight from the Shake. And it’s tucked into the drugstore spinner-rack with other, equally mysterious stories: Melville’s Typee (luscious south sea maidens wearing skimpy sarongs, tattooed warriors, ominous tiki idols), Treasure Island (secret maps, tricorn hats, bellowing one-legged buccaneers), and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (complete with flame-headed angels sweeping beautiful little girls off to heaven).

Buzzing fairies and mist-haunted lovers, Robin Goodfellow, the puck, flying on a bee, under a fat, glowing moon, looking more like a wicked winged Cub Scout than an emissary from the dark regions. Golden Titania glides, in her long luminous gown, with the moon around her head as a midnight halo. Another grand panel shows her and donkey-headed lover Nick Bottom. Five fairies hover above them, bowing in midair. “Hail mortal!” one proclaims. “Hail. Hail. Hail,” the others chime in.

“Hail mortal!” - the denizens of the nightworld paying homage to a moon-addled man-beast.

At the end of the play comes the duke’s pronouncement. “The iron tongue of Midnight hath told twelve.” Then he commands the three loving couples to the best bride bed, to mate and create, to breed fortunate issue free from harelip, mole, scar or any prodigious mark.

A smirking puck appears with a besom to sweep away the cobwebs of dream.

And the sleeper wakes.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Prophet of Providence, knew more than he allowed himself to believe. He worshipped, with his mind, the cold glittering sky. But with his heart, he paid groveling obeisance to the sea.

His claim was to be the pure psychic spokeshuman for transvoid transcendence. Yet, what else could have produced his vision of oceanic slime-frenzy, the glistening bastard fish-things flopping out of the New England surf, but abject dagonic lust?

Yes, he knew, he knew and he loved. He saw, in foetid dreams, Dagon, the national god of the Philistines, “the people of the sea, who were uncircumcised, for which they were despised.” He did the sacerdotal hand-job, stink-finger of juddering joy, and his pineal slime-vein throbbed in his skull like a psychic hemorrhoid at 20 Gs while the parade of scaled sea-spawn, all gills and gasping gizzards, marched out of the waves.

Lovecraft had the science, the starry wisdom. He knew, he saw, but his love dare not speak its own name. He could not allow himself to truly believe and thus he had to wither away with his diet of crumbly cheddar cheese and cold canned beans. He had to die a wretched death of lonely colon cancer.

The tragedy is this: if he had allowed the baleful truth of the Philistine Phrenzy, the oozing eros-gnosis to sweep over his head, hot as chowder, slick as creamed tuna on overcooked egg noodles, if he had but laid aside his sterile astro-ideology and said a big fat “Yes!” to the Soft, Wet, and Wiggly Wonder, then he might have lived forever among the stars he so loved.

For what are Cthulhu and Dagon but great vulvate deities in drag? A quivering rugose cone indeed, leaving behind a odiferous slime trail that drives men to gibbering madness? What is fish but sealed-up female and what is female but bifurcated fish?

If he had bowed down in the ancient Philistine temple-midden, bowed down to the liver-lipped sea-stench monstrosity, then he would have been raised up, up to the realms of celestial glory and love.
Norsemen against the sea: caked white with salt rime and crusts of northern spray, frozen into crackling coats of armor, driving their Viking longships, their nameless U-boats, their arcane dirigible sky-machines against darkness, against Ran, who rules the regions of watery sleep.

Ran, Teutonic goddess whose name means theft, Ran, sleek with oceanic shadows, swings her net skyward and hauls down, drowns the intruders from the regions of the sun, capturing paltry human treasures.

Iron decays in the halls of rust. Woods crumbles in the beds of rot. Sails shred and scatter. Keels crumple like ribbon. Brass cannon and human bones tumble in the subaqueous murkland deeps. Gold, here, is mere glittering gravel. Pharmaceutical white gold dissolves instantly like salt or snowflakes.

Ran wears a fringe of shimmering kelp and phantom plankton sheathes more precious than any silks. She breathes black swirls of tentacle ink. Jewels are trash compared to her living beads of sea foam. Platinum is no better than coal, soft and useless where no sunlight can make it shine. Uranium ore - unrefined - has barely a glow.

Heavy water congeals around the goddess as a luminous cape, bending gravity. When Ran reaches from the waves, trammels man, tangles science, when Ran steals the living from the sun, she needs no temptress siren song or golden Lorelei locks. Her hair, a black glimmering swirl, makes men bone-weak with desire. She merely reaches out a naked arm and drags Northmen to her breast with strong beautiful hands.

In her realm, there is no line between sky and sea. Water evaporates and rises. Water condenses and falls as freezing rain, coating the bomb-heavy zeppelins with glittering armor, burdening them with tons of sky-ice, dragging them downward to Ran’s arms, drowning in hydrogen flames and North Sea shadow tide.
The gravestone in Hollywood Memorial Park reads: “Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer, 1927-1959.” Below the dates is a carved profile of Petey, Our Gang’s mascot pit bull, and two Masonic symbols: the draftsman’s compass and a scimitar.

Alfalfa made 61 Our Gang shorts between 1935 and 1941. With his idiot grin, preternatural whine and heavily waxed cowlick (to stand up under the lights) he was the hopeless hayseed lover boy.

One episode, “Harum Scarum,” featured Alfalfa as Valentino as the Sheik. Slashing the air with his cardboard sword, he fought to the death with Butch, to rescue slave-princess Darla. Spanky made a perfect Grand Eunuch, peeking through layers of gauzy muslin as Alfalfa crooned “I’m in the Mood for Love.”

But pimply-faced and gangly at fourteen, he was kicked out of Our Gang. After a few bit parts, he ended up as a bartender and then a hunting guide in northern California. Henry Fonda and Roy Rogers were his two most famous clients.

In 1954, in Track of the Cat, he played an ancient Apache with a mystical connection to the black panther which is stalking Robert Mitchum’s farm. His makeup is so heavy, he looks more like an effigy carved out of stale putty than a human being. He doesn’t speak, just shuffles like a bent-over mummy brought back from the dead.

Death came as a dog. He lost his hunting hound, and had to pay his neighbor, Bud Stiltz a 50 dollar reward to get it back. But after forking over the fifty bones, in a drunken rage, wearing his Shriner’s fez, Alfalfa stormed back into Bud’s cheap bungalow and demanded the money back. Bud refused. Alfalfa yelled and threatened, waving a buck knife like a scimitar.

Bud produced an automatic - U.S. Army surplus. Alfalfa attacked, the two men struggled and the gun went off. Alfalfa got it in the stomach and died within minutes.

At the trial, Bud broke down and wept, describing how he’d killed his buddy. The judge acquitted him, declaring the death “justifiable homicide.”
In 1941, Martin Bormann, Hitler’s gray eminence, gave his fuehrer a shepherd bitch named Blondi. Hitler immediately took the dog to his heart, enjoying especially his time teaching Blondi tricks. Blondi traveled with the fuehrer wherever he went throughout the Reich, sleeping in his room and having an army sergeant, Tornow, detailed to take care of her at all times.

During the most dire military crises, Hitler would take breaks from his staff meetings to walk Blondi and put her through her tricks. Watching her climb a steep ladder gave him the most pleasure. When the dog performed well, the general staff could expect the fuehrer to be in a much better mood.

As the Reich was collapsing, the Russian army heading toward Berlin, Blondi went with Hitler to the bunker beneath the Chancellery garden.

Blondi by this time had been mated with another purebred shepherd and had a litter of five puppies, which lived in a special kennel in the bunker. One puppy, named Wolf, was Hitler’s favorite. No one was allowed to touch him and as the military situation grew more dismal, Hitler used the dog - stroking him and repeatedly murmuring his name - to calm himself.

But hysterically afraid of being captured by the Russians, Hitler planned his own suicide. As the end neared, Hitler heard that even Himmler had turned traitor, opening negotiations with the Allies.

The cyanide which Himmler’s S.S. had provided for the fuehrer’s suicide was now highly suspect. Thinking it was just a knockout drug - so that Hitler could be taken east and displayed in a cage in Moscow - he needed proof that the drug would work.

So Blondi performed one last act of service for the Reich. Sergeant Tornow and Hitler’s doctor took the dog into the bathroom. There they pried her jaws open and crammed a poison ampule down her throat. With pliers, the doctor squeezed, releasing the cyanide.

Hitler inspected Blondi to make sure she was dead. The cyanide was genuine, and highly effective.
Soon afterward, Sergeant Tornow was ordered to shoot the puppies, even Wolf.