The Bill Hicks Gurdjieff Attractor
Posted by lahar9jhadav on December 28, 2011
I had a vision of a way we could have no enemies ever again, if you’re interested in this. Anybody interested in hearing this?
It’s kind of an interesting theory, and all we have to do is make one decisive act and we can rid the world of all our enemies at once.
Here’s what we do. You know all that money we spend on nuclear weapons and defense every year? Trillions of dollars.
Instead, if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over,
not one human being excluded … not one … we could as one race explore inner and outer space together in peace, forever.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
William Melvin “Bill” Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and musician. His material largely consisted of general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy, and personal issues. Hicks’ material was often controversial and steeped in dark comedy. In both his stand-up performances and during interviews, he often criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity, and banality within the media and popular culture, describing them as oppressive tools of the ruling class, meant to “keep people stupid and apathetic.”
Hicks was 16 years old when he started performing stand-up comedy at the Comedy Workshop in Houston, Texas, in 1978. During the 1980s he toured America extensively and performed a number of high profile television appearances. It was in the UK, however, where Hicks first amassed a significant fan base, packing large venues with his 1991 tour. Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. In the years after his death, his work and legacy achieved acclaim in creative circles. In 2007 he was voted the fourth-greatest stand-up comic on the UK’s Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and appeared again in the updated 2010 list as the fourth-greatest comic.
Born in Valdosta, Georgia, Bill Hicks was the son of Jim and Mary (Reese) Hicks and had two elder siblings: sister Lynn and brother Steve. The family lived in Florida, Alabama, and New Jersey, before settling in Houston, Texas when Hicks was seven. He was raised in the Southern Baptist faith, where he first began performing as a comedian for other children at Sunday School.
Hicks was drawn to comedy at an early age, emulating Woody Allen and Richard Pryor, and writing routines with his friend Dwight Slade. Worried about his behavior, his parents took him to a psychoanalyst at age 17 but, according to Hicks, after one session the psychoanalyst informed him that “…it’s them, not you.”
His mother described Hicks’s early interest in comedy on The Late Show with David Letterman on January 30, 2009:
He always said up until the time he got interested in comedy that he was going to Texas A&M to be a vet. He loved animals and that’s what he wanted to do. And then he got interested in watching Johnny Carson and he read books about Woody Allen, so he got interested in that. He said that he saw Johnny Carson on TV and he thought, “You mean you can make a living doing that?” So he decided that’s what he would do.
Hicks graduated from Stratford High School in Houston and began touring in the early 1980s. After a few years of performing the same material, he felt that his act wasn’t progressing. He wanted to push the boundaries of creativity as his idols Jimi Hendrix and Richard Pryor had done. At 21 years old, Hicks had never consumed alcohol, smoked cigarettes, or tried drugs. He began to experiment to see if intoxication was indeed the key to crossing the line.
Once Hicks gained some underground success in night clubs and universities, he quit drinking, realizing that it wasn’t alcohol that made a great comic, but his ability to express a truth, even if it was an unpopular one. However, Hicks continued to smoke cigarettes. His nicotine addiction, love of smoking, and occasional attempts to quit became a recurring theme in his act throughout his later years.
California and New York
In January 1986, Hicks found himself broke, having spent all his money on a variety of substances. His career soon received another upturn, though, as he appeared on Rodney Dangerfield’s Young Comedians Special, in 1987. The same year, he moved to New York City, and, for the next 5 years, performed about 300 times a year. On the album Relentless, he jokes that he quit using drugs because “once you’ve been taken aboard a UFO, it’s kind of hard to top that”, although in his performances, he continued to extol the virtues of LSD, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms. He fell back to chain-smoking, a theme that would figure heavily in his performances from then on.
In 1988, Hicks signed on with his first professional business manager, Jack Mondrus. Throughout 1989, Mondrus worked to convince many clubs to book Hicks, promising that the wild drug- and alcohol-induced behavior was behind him. Among the club managers hiring the newly sober Hicks was Colleen McGarr, who would become his girlfriend and fiancée in later years.
Hicks quit drinking in 1988, as stated in his 1990 album Dangerous on the first track, entitled “Modern Bummer”.
In 1989 he released his first video, Sane Man. It was reissued in 2006.
In 1990, Hicks released his first album, Dangerous, performed on the HBO special One Night Stand, and performed at Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival. He was also part of a group of American stand-up comedians performing in London’s West End in November. Hicks was a huge hit in the UK and Ireland and continued touring there throughout 1991. That year, he returned to Just for Laughs and filmed his second video, Relentless.
Hicks made a brief detour into musical recording with the Marble Head Johnson album in 1992. During the same year he toured the UK, where he recorded the Revelations video. for Channel 4 He closed the show with his soon-to become-famous philosophy regarding life, “It’s Just a Ride”. Also in that tour he recorded the stand-up performance released in its entirety on a double CD titled Salvation. Hicks was voted “Hot Standup Comic” by Rolling Stone magazine. He moved to Los Angeles in 1992.
Hicks and Tool
The progressive metal band Tool invited Hicks to open a number of concerts in its 1992 Lollapalooza appearances, where Hicks once famously asked the audience to look for a contact lens he had lost. Thousands of people complied.
Tool dedicated their triple-platinum album Ænima (1996) to Hicks. The band intended to raise awareness about Hicks’s material and ideas, because they felt that Tool and Hicks “were resonating similar concepts”. In particular, Ænima’s final track, “Third Eye”, is preceded by a clip of Hicks’ performances, and both the lenticular casing of the Ænima album packaging as well as the chorus of the title track “Ænema” make reference to a sketch from Hicks’ Arizona Bay philosophy, in which he contemplates the idea of Los Angeles falling into the Pacific Ocean. The closing track “Third Eye” contains samples from Hicks’ Dangerous and Relentless. An alternate version of the Ænima artwork shows a painting of Bill Hicks, calling him “Another Dead Hero,” and mentions of Hicks are found both in the liner notes and on the record.
Censorship and aftermath
Hicks constantly faced problems with censorship. In 1984, Hicks was invited to appear on Late Night with David Letterman for the first time. He had a joke that he used frequently in comedy clubs about how he caused a serious accident that left a classmate using a wheelchair. CBS had a policy that no handicapped jokes could be aired on the show, making his stand-up routine difficult to perform without mentioning words such as “wheelchair”.
On October 1, 1993, Hicks was scheduled to appear on Late Show with David Letterman, his 12th appearance on a Letterman late-night show, but his entire performance was removed from the broadcast—then the only occasion where a comedian’s entire routine was cut after taping. Hicks’ stand-up routine was removed from the show allegedly because Letterman and his producer were nervous about a religious joke (“if Jesus came back he might not want to see so many crosses”). Hicks said he believed it was due to a pro-life commercial aired during a commercial break. Both the show’s producers and CBS denied responsibility. Hicks expressed his feelings of betrayal in a letter to John Lahr of The New Yorker. Although Letterman later expressed regret at the way Hicks had been handled, Hicks did not appear on the show again.
Hicks’ mother, Mary, appeared on the January 30, 2009 episode of Late Show. Letterman played the routine in its entirety. Letterman took full responsibility for the original censorship and apologized to Mrs. Hicks. Letterman also declared he did not know what he was thinking when he pulled the routine from the original show in 1993, saying, “It says more about me as a guy than it says about Bill because there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.”
For many years, Hicks was friends with fellow comedian Denis Leary. But in 1993 Hicks was angered by Leary’s album No Cure for Cancer. Upon hearing the album, “Bill was furious. All these years, aside from the occasional jibe, he had pretty much shrugged off Leary’s lifting. Comedians borrowed, stole stuff, and even bought bits from one another. Milton Berle and Robin Williams were famous for it. This was different. Leary had practically line for line taken huge chunks of Bill’s act and recorded it.”
The friendship ended abruptly as a result.
At least three stand-up comedians have gone on the record stating they believe Leary stole Hicks’s material as well as his persona and attitude. In an interview, when Hicks was asked why he had quit smoking, he answered, “I just wanted to see if Denis would, too.”
In another interview, Hicks said, “I have a scoop for you. I stole his [Leary’s] act. I camouflaged it with punchlines, and, to really throw people off, I did it before he did.”
The controversy surrounding plagiarism is also mentioned in American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story, by Cynthia True:
Leary was in Montreal hosting the “Nasty Show” at Club Soda, and Colleen [McGarr?] was coordinating the talent so she stood backstage and overheard Leary doing material incredibly similar to old Hicks riffs, including his perennial Jim Fixx joke: (“Keith Richards outlived Jim Fixx, the runner and health nut. The plot thickens.”). When Leary came offstage, Colleen, more stunned than angry, said, “Hey, you know that’s Bill Hicks’ material! Do you know that’s his material?” Leary stood there, stared at her without saying a word, and briskly left the dressing room.
During a 2003 Comedy Central roast of Denis Leary, comedian Lenny Clarke, a friend of Leary’s, said there was a carton of cigarettes backstage from Bill Hicks with the message, “Wish I had gotten these to you sooner.” This joke was cut from the final broadcast.
In a 2008 interview, Leary said, “It wouldn’t have been an issue, I think, if Bill had lived. It’s just that people look at a tragedy and they look at that circumstance and they go, oh, this must be how we can explain this.”
Hicks’ style was a play on his audience’s emotions. He expressed anger, disgust, and apathy while addressing the audience in a casual and personal manner, which he likened to merely conversing with his friends. His material was less focused on the everyday banalities of life and placed greater emphasis on philosophical themes of existence. He would invite his audiences to challenge authority and the existential nature of “accepted truth.” One such message, which he often used in his shows, was delivered in the style of a news report (in order to draw attention to the negative slant news organizations give to any story about drugs):
Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration—that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather!
Another of Hicks’ most famous quotes was delivered during a gig in Chicago in 1989 (later released as the bootleg I’m Sorry, Folks). After a heckler repeatedly shouted “Free Bird”, Hicks screamed that “Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever!” Hicks followed this remark with a misanthropic tirade calling for unbiased genocide against the whole of humanity.
Much of Hicks’ routine involved direct attacks on mainstream society, religion, politics, and consumerism. Asked in a BBC interview why he cannot do a routine that appeals “to everyone”, he said that such an act was impossible. He responded by repeating a comment that an audience member once made to him, “We don’t come to comedy to think!”, to which he replied, “Gee! Where do you go to think? I’ll meet you there!” In the same interview, he also said: “My way is half-way between: this is a night-club, and these are adults.”
Hicks often discussed conspiracy theories in his performances, most notably the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He mocked the Warren Report and the official version of Lee Harvey Oswald as a “lone nut assassin.” He also questioned the guilt of David Koresh and the Branch Davidian compound during the Waco Siege. Hicks would end some of his shows, especially those being recorded in front of larger audiences as albums, with a mock “assassination” of himself on stage, making gunshot sound effects into the microphone while falling to the ground.
Cancer diagnosis and death
Hicks wrote, “On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having ‘liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas.'” He started receiving weekly chemotherapy, while still touring and also recording his album, Arizona Bay, with Kevin Booth. He was also working with comedian Fallon Woodland on a pilot episode of a new talk show, titled Counts of the Netherworld for Channel 4 at the time of his death. The budget and concept had been approved, and a pilot was filmed. The Counts of the Netherworld pilot was shown at the various Tenth Anniversary Tribute Night events around the world on February 26, 2004.
After being diagnosed with cancer, Hicks would often joke that any given performance would be his last. The public, however, was unaware of Hicks’s condition. Only a few close friends and family members knew of his disease. Hicks performed the final show of his career at Caroline’s in New York on January 6, 1994. He moved back to his parents’ house in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly thereafter. He called his friends to say goodbye, before he stopped speaking on February 14, and re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.
He spent time with his parents, playing them the music he loved and showing them documentaries about his interests. He died of side effects of his cancer treatment in the presence of his parents at 11:20pm on February 26, 1994. He was 32 years old.
Hicks was buried in the family plot in Leakesville, Mississippi.
On February 7, 1994, Hicks authored a verse on his perspective, wishes, and thanks of his life, to be released after his death as his “last word”, ending with the words: “I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.”
Arizona Bay and Rant in E-Minor were released posthumously in 1997 on the Voices imprint of the Rykodisc label. Dangerous and Relentless were also re-released by Rykodisc on the same date.
In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian’s Comedian, fellow comedians and comedy insiders voted Hicks #13 on their list of “The Top 20 Greatest Comedy Acts Ever”. Likewise, in “Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time” (2004), Hicks was ranked at #19. In March 2007, Channel 4 ran a poll, “The Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time”, in which Hicks was voted #6. Channel 4 renewed this list in April 2010, which saw Hicks move up 2 places to #4.
Devotees of Hicks have incorporated his words, image, and attitude into their own creations. By means of audio sampling, fragments of Hicks’ rants, diatribes, social criticisms, and philosophies have found their way into many musical works, such as the live version of Super Furry Animals’ “Man Don’t Give A Fuck”. His influence on Tool is well-documented, he “appears” on the Fila Brazillia album Maim That Tune (1996) and on SPA’s self titled album SPA (1997), which are both dedicated to Hicks; the British band Radiohead’s second album The Bends (1995) is also dedicated to his memory. Singer/songwriter Tom Waits listed Rant in E-Minor as one of his 20 most cherished albums of all time.
Contemporary comedians David Cross and Russell Brand have stated that they were inspired by Hicks.
The British actor Chas Early portrayed Hicks in the one-man stage show Bill Hicks: Slight Return, which premiered in 2004. The show was co-written by Chas Early and Richard Hurst, and imagined Hicks’ view of the world 10 years after his death.
On February 25, 2004, British MP Stephen Pound tabled an early day motion titled “Anniversary of the Death of Bill Hicks” (EDM 678 of the 2003-04 session), the text of which reads:
That this House notes with sadness the 10th anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks, on 26th February 1994, at the age of 33; recalls his assertion that his words would be a bullet in the heart of consumerism, capitalism and the American Dream; and mourns the passing of one of the few people who may be mentioned as being worth [sic] of inclusion with Lenny Bruce in any list of unflinching and painfully honest political philosophers.
Hicks appeared in a flashback scene of Garth Ennis’s graphic novel Preacher #31 (“Underworld”), where the title character remembers meeting him after Hicks’s gig somewhere in Texas (also collected in trade paperback Preacher: Dixie Fried.
Film and documentary
A documentary entitled American: The Bill Hicks Story, based on interviews with his family and friends, premiered on March 12, 2010, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
By Cody Wayne
“A lot of us amateurs can make people laugh and some of us can occasionally even make people think twice about the daily nonsense of their lives. But with his clarity of vision and gift of words, if Bill Hicks had had any more time he might have started a revolution.”
Keith Olberman, MSNBC opinion-head and former ESPN Sportscaster
Bill Hicks died when I was in high school. Tool’s Undertow album was out and I couldn’t stop listening to Prison Sex on the kickin’ factory speakers in my neighbor’s Beretta. It had become a pastime to listen to Tool loud and stoned on our way to school. In fact, if it wasn’t for Tool and pot, going to school woulda sucked.
Denis Leary’s first stand-up/music album came out at about the exact same time. I thought it was amazing. hard-core. intelligent. mature. I’d never heard anyone talk like he did. and he was talking about drugs! I remember thinking, “Hey! I’m doing drugs too! I just started! YEAH! When you’re a stoner, you’re always thinking about how to make bongs out of stuff! I know what he means! Wow! This guy’s my idol!”
Radiohead was just starting its plans for world music domination with Creep in those days, too.
But what the hell?! What am I yammering on about? Is this just another pointless rant in Acid-minor? Here’s what brings it all together:
#1 – Tool openly expressed their gratitude for what Bill Hicks was doing in their Undertow album and gave a solemn, somber farewell to Hicks in their follow-up album Ænima featuring a fucked up picture of Hicks as a doctor doing a check-up on a hysterical patient with his mutated third eye completely fucking squeegied. The caption: “Bill Hicks. Another Dead Hero.” Hicks even introduced the band at Lollapalooza in the summer of ’93 in L.A.
#2 – Radiohead dedicated The Bends to the memory of Bill Hicks.
And #3 – Denis Leary stole several segments of Bill’s act for No Cure for Cancer. This is what hit me the hardest the first time I listened to Hicks’ Dangerous in ’98 or ’99. I couldn’t believe that the stand-up routine I swore by and almost completely memorized was partially ripped-off of this “new” guy Bill Hicks. And furthermore, Hicks wasn’t holding back at all. One of the things that really blew me away with Leary was his openness. but I didn’t know what open was until I heard Hicks. Hicks was the epitome of unrestrained thought in vocal form.
I was completely hooked.
Bill Hicks grew up mainly in Houston, TX and at a fairly young age was already recognizing the insanity and unanswerability of modern American family life. Whereas it could be said that a lot of adolescent angst materializes seemingly out of thin air and only because it feels like the right thing to do, Hicks seemed to have a pretty good grip on what the problem was: rules, regulations, the status quo, and stagnation.
Like many of us, or maybe I’m speaking only for myself, the family unit we experienced was never really strong. I never really lashed out in any major way, I was just totally disconnected from the feeling of a loving family. Hicks never lashed out either, but he still never felt connected to his mom or dad, brother or sister, in any emotional or spiritual way. Finally, he found a male counterpart who had almost the same alienated family background as he, in the form of high school cohort, Dwight Slade. This gave rise to Hicks’ new path, one of reading, stand-up comedy, music, spirituality, and transcendental meditation. These guys were in HIGH SCHOOL, ya’ll. No drugs or booze or fuckin’ around with the wrong crowd. Dwight and Bill were blazing their own trail.
They started doin’ little routines ripped off of Woody Allen and Johnny Carson on cassette recorders and eventually took their two-man act to the public at a place called The Workshop. They were always well-received, but then Dwight moved away, decelerating the incredible momentum they’d created together. Despite the loss Bill decided to keep doing shows anyway. A new club opened up next to The Workshop called The Comic Annex. It was place for stand-up comics to perform every night while people boozed themselves up. Bill was the youngest guy there, still in high school, straight-edge, and the most welcomed of all the comedians. But Bill still wasn’t the comedian he would turn out to be. It took a meeting with an ex-preacher named Sam Kinison to kick him into gear. What Hicks gained from Kinison’s act was his sense of “Who gives a fuck?” Kinison spoke openly about religion on stage in an almost serious manner so as to pick away at the very notion of religious practice. His comedy had more of a political bent than Hicks was used to hearing, and it turned Bill on right away. This was the spark, or should I say, “violent reign of thunderbolts,” that Hicks needed to put him on the path towards the patented brand of stand-up comedy he would perform from then on.
At 19, Bill moved to Los Angeles and started workin’ the stage over at the Comedy Store in Hollywood where pretty much every notable comedian of the mid to late eighties hailed; Dice, Shandling, Seinfeld, Leno. It was in Los Angeles that Bill Hicks had his first experience with drugs by dropping a hit of LSD in his apartment.
He began to “expand” on various levels after that, merging his seemingly inevitable run-in with drugs and alcohol with his politically and socially charged rants. It was a combination that ultimately detracted from the pure message he was trying to send and which also landed him a broken foot with the help of two marines who happened to see a show they didn’t like. He began to be known through the comedy circuit as a risk, albeit a worthy risk, but more than anything else, an alcoholic. AA to the rescue. Once Bill got past the drugs and alcohol, focusing only on periodic mushroom trips with his buddies on their ranch in Texas, his message became clear and focused. He was mortally passionate about revolutionizing the way people thought in general about everything they experienced in the reality presented by corporations and governments. His motto was, “Eat some fucking mushrooms and squeegie your third fuckin’ eye!” And this, I would argue, is part of the reason why Bill would have to die an untimely death.
Bill couldn’t get a whole helluva lotta momentum in the American McWorld (though he had a frequent spot on the Letterman show and did an HBO special sponsored by Rodney Dangerfield) so he decided to take his act to England, Australia, Ireland, and Canada. This is where he made his comedic breakthroughs happen in front of thousands and people fell in love with Hicks immediately. He had a production company and tons of ideas for TV shows swirling through his head.
But in America his popularity stagnated and was stifled by corporate censorship. (Hmmm… what was it about American society that made it so hard for someone of Bill’s character to get noticed?) Hicks was a strong proponent of evolution. not just the evolution of the human form, but the evolution of thought. of consciousness. (“You know, evolution didn’t stop with opposable thumbs, ya’ll.”) He brought out the idea that we still have a long way to go in terms of furthering our ideas and our thinking about how we want to deal with our situation here on earth and beyond. There’s a lot of sir psycho sex magic theory in the universe that hasn’t been tapped by all the proper channels. The evolution we must now get attuned to involves collective human consciousness. Don’t get bogged down thinking ideas are bad or dangerous. Ideas are not bad or dangerous and the more we censor, the more we stifle raw true artistic expression, the, more evolution stagnates. This stagnation is caused by producers and corporate sponsors who want to keep people as stupid and unthinking as possible. This is best exemplified in their censoring of Hicks’ final performance on the Letterman show. It was never shown because of what the producers decided was unfit to air. It’s the twisted cycle of maintaining public stupidity which continues, in a bulldozing fashion, to this very day. Here’s a list of some of the material that Hicks had pre-approved with segment producer Mary Connelly before the show and that CBS Standards and Practice later deemed unsuitable*:
1) The irony of pro-lifers killing people
2) A new show Bill wanted to produce called, “Let’s Hunt and Kill Billy Ray Cyrus”
3) Bill questioning the wearing of crucifixes, noting that that would be the last thing Jesus would wanna see if he came back ( I just made up a joke: What do you put on your plate at Jesus’ Last Supper Salad Bar? Crucifixin’s!)
4) Criticizing how we celebrate Easter with “a giant bunny rabbit leaving chocolate eggs in the night.”
This whole situation shows how it’s all right to tell brainless conventional jokes but it’s not all right to step over the edge and poke fun at major sponsoring groups like the Christian lobby. And it’s also fascinating to note that the less critical one is about various issues concerning the status quo, the more apt you are to become prey to advertising*. The more substance and talking points you have in a show, the less attention you’ll pay to the commercial break. Your mind would be too busy digesting and pondering the new information that was just received. U.S. media just can’t have that. That would be a bullet in the heart of consumerism, capitalism, and the American Dream.
* One of the things that pained Hicks the most was watching his former idol, Jay Leno, shilling Doritos to bovine America (“Crunch all ya want. we’ll make more!”) and becoming a corporate fuck-bag for NBC. The routine he created around his loathing for Leno is totally unrelenting and savage, describing, at one point, Jay Leno stuffing the barrel of an Uzi in his mouth and blowing his brains out in the shape of an NBC peacock on the wall behind him after having a meaningless interview with Joey Lawrence from the show “Blossom.” And to this day, Leno remains shameless.
Hicks slipped his Letterman act into his next few road shows and announced to the audience that what they just heard had been completely censored by CBS. This was all going on at a time when the man was dying of cancer, for fuck’s sake. He knew it was almost time to breach the plane between “here” and “there” and the whole episode with the Letterman show was pushing him over the edge. It’s one thing to protect your child from some of the grimmer realities our world has to offer, but to protect the general American public with the same reasoning just begs to be brought up for serious questioning, especially regarding the remarks Hicks made that night on Letterman. Who is being shielded from these remarks and for what fucking reason? You know the answer.
Bill Hicks was known as a comedian, but what set Bill apart from every other comedian and, well, every other person who has ever been in the media spotlight, was his relentless passion to do whatever he could to bring about the further evolution of the human species. more specifically in the domain of ideas and thought. He was the spokesman for an underground focus group based in the belief that our evolution now rests solely in the evolution of ideas. And it could be argued that there’s not much else.? If we are all nothing more than our fleeting thoughts, than why not start from that one essential point? So far, the human species has proved nothing more than the fact that we have thoughts that periodically manifest themselves in the “real” world in the form of action. If nothing else is real you can be absa-fuckin’-lutely rest assured that your thoughts are “real.” Your perceptions and your actions are a whole ‘nuther thing, but your thoughts, your ideas, your imagination, your dreams. those things you can count on.
Because thought-energy is the only reliable aspect of our existence, Bill constantly asked himself questions like, “Why is there such a thing as a bad thought or a controversial thought in our world?” “Why do we censor ourselves?” After all, isn’t that keeping us from arriving at and understanding the basic underlying truths which dictate our existence and experience? What’s really keeping us from being completely open with our thoughts? What is that stifling force? And Bill had an answer: the FCC, censors, network producers, CBS Standards and Practices, and the fear of offending farm-grown viewers at home. Moving further with this idea, he realized it all boiled down to big media, big government, and big corporations who are dead set on keeping people as stupid and non-thinking as possible. It could, of course, upset the delicate strategy of consumerism on which our society is based.
What made Hicks a revolutionary, and soon-to-be-legend in the vein of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, was his uncompromising journey to the heart of truth, dragging every facet of hell on earth to its death and dismemberment along the way. And I’m not talking about the heart of truth as defined by your average daily AM radio pundits like Rush, Hannity, Savage, Al Rantel, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and who knows who the fuck else out there spewing oral garbage and claiming to be the true dispenser of truth. I’m talking about fundamental inarguable truths. To use a couple ‘a simple examples from Hicks: If there are so many homeless people in the streets, doesn’t that tell you that our system doesn’t work? If news is so fair and balanced and objective, why is it that there’s never a positive story about drugs? I’m sure many of you out there have had some bitchin’ times on drugs. where’s that story? If drugs are so bad, why is Keith Richards still up and around? He shot heroine in his eyeballs. These are the kinds of truths that Bill liked to explore. We, as an American public, are so shot full of rhetoric to one side that we’re rarely able to find the time and space to think objectively and rationally about things for ourselves, especially now as the world is being split decisively between good and evil, right and wrong. These were the subjects of Bill’s curiosity and his routine. Abortion, drugs, religion, governments, capitalism, entertainment, the military, “Who’s the Boss?,” commercials, media. all of these things were fleshed out in front of human audiences usually to their absolute awe. He denounced pop stars as “demons set loose upon the earth to lower the standards,” distracting us from the perfect heaven on earth which we are all entitled to as the true children of god and moving us further into the becoming the “third mall from the sun.” As Bill often proclaimed, the audience had become his sheep while he was the herder, rounding up all the marginal thoughts everyone had but were unsure if they were kosher in society, especially in the Reagan and Bush years. Good lord.
In this way, Hicks was therapy for humans who just couldn’t put their finger on the pulse of “why do we put up with hell on earth?” “What is it that bothers me so much that I can’t properly put into words?” Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we’ve only begun to dream the big, deep, progressive, infinite, beautiful dreams of humankind. We’ve only now been considering the reality of our global existence and how that existence can be furthered. In essence, we’ve only now begun to think of ways of harnessing the control of our own evolution.
Bill Hicks was an evolutionary catalyst incarnate. He was proof positive that nature cannot handle huge leaps in (r)evolution, that it must be a gradual process. Nature can’t keep up with individual spiritual evolution on the scale at which Hicks was operating on. Cell mutation was bound to destroy his body. No one can get away with spilling grandiose (r)evolutionary thoughts out on stage in front of too many people. at least not in this particular niche in human history. No one in contemporary society who attempts the wholesale rewriting of reality on a grand scale, thus thrusting sleeping human drones into the rude-awakening, the realization that they are sentient beings, can possibly hope to survive for very long. The nature of awakening won’t allow it. This necessarily means that Bill Hicks had to die. He probably knew he couldn’t last long on Earth, thus leading him on the path to early success. He took one for the human race like a suicide mind-bomber. No time to waste.
My theory is that, in order to keep itself balanced, the physical plane of nature provides for evolution with natural selection, and in the same way, the spiritual plane of pure thought-energy provides for evolution by a similar slow gradual process in the transformation of consciousness. What neither of these planes can deal with are surges or leaps that upset the delicate precise balance needed for change to be properly accepted. Bill Hicks upset that balance in the spiritual plane of thought-energy. The spiritual plane requires gradual transformation. Remember those “Travellers” in Dune? Hicks’ body, had we had the technology to sustain his life even with pancreatic cancer, would’ve eventually transformed into a big-worm blob with female genitalia for a nose and mouth. Or remember the uni-cellular globule that William Hurt was about to turn into in Altered States? That would’ve been Hicks. Yes, he was just a comedian, but he was more than that. He was a prophet, a soothsayer, a mystic, a guru. and he was all of these things in the form of a traveling urban gypsy with no use for anything but a microphone, some lights, a little music, a stage, and some open minds. He was getting through to the masses, the general populace, the common man and woman, impregnating people with unimaginable thoughts of Debbie Gibson, George Michaels, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, and George and Barbara Bush. Thoughts like those of Hicks being amplified and spread across audiences like Agent Orange, defoliating the jungle that had been growing out of control in everyone’s mind blocking the sunlight of truth, justice, unhindered thought, and the infinite human potential to achieve. thoughts like those, when unleashed, will, of course, cause havoc and even premature revolution which could be damaging to the human race. Although Leary ripped off a handful of Bill’s bits, what no one could ever take away from Hicks was his outstanding presence and incredible ability to put the impossible into the proper spoken language for everyone to understand. This ability to speak the unspeakable, to turn minds on to new revolutionary channels through spoken communication. this would be Hicks’ undoing. The Natural Powers That Be weren’t ready for the spiritual revolution proposed by Mr. Hicks in the same way Hendrix couldn’t survive for long. an artist Hicks frequently referred to when wanting to make a point in regards to directly tapping the soul, heart, balls. whatever deep part you wanna think of (the G-spot for the ladies, perhaps?)
We desperately need the voice of Bill Hicks today. His words from albums such as Dangerous and Rant in E-minor ring truer today than ever before. Acid Logic readers who haven’t yet had a taste of Hicks should immediately put down the crack pipe and take off their clown make-up. get out there and buy a Hicks album. Bill Hicks is our generation’s Jesus Christ.
Bill Hicks had to die for our sins.
NOW is when Bill Hicks should be touring.
NOW is when a loving loudmouth should be harping on human progress amidst human hell.
NOW is when Bill Hicks could’ve led the revolution incarnate.
NOTE: almost all basic factual information about Bill Hicks’ life was taken from a biography written by Cynthia True called, “American Scream: the Bill Hicks story” published in 2002.
The Silence of Bill Hicks
On February 26, 1994, Bill Hicks, the last truly great comic genius of the 20th century, died of pancreatic cancer. His death as a comedian happened less than five months before, when his act was cut from the David Letterman show. What follows is a reprint of what happened, with a transcript of the censored act itself.
Index on Censorship Magazine
Issue 6, 2000
The Last Laugh: Dear Bill
Introduction by John Lahr:
On 1 October 1993, the comedian Bill Hicks, after doing his twelfth gig on the David Letterman show, became the first comedy act to be censored at CBS’s Ed Sullivan Theatre, where Letterman was in residence and where Elvis Presley was famously censored in 1956. Presley was not allowed to be shown from the waist down. Hicks was not allowed to be shown at all. It’s not what was in Hicks’ pants but what was in his head that scared the CBS panjandrums.
Hicks, a tall 31-year-old Texan with a podgy face, aged beyond its years from hard living on the road, was no motormouth vulgarian but an exhilarating comic thinker in a renegade class all his own. Until the ban, which, according to Hicks, earned him “more attention than my other 11 appearances on Letterman times 100”, Hicks’ caustic observations and mischievous cultural connections had found a wide audience in the UK, where he is still something of a cult figure.
Hicks certainly went for broke and pronounced his real comic self in the banned Letterman performance, which he wrote out for me in a 39-page letter that also recounts his version of events. Hicks had to write out his set because the tape of it, which the Letterman people said they’d send three weeks earlier, had not yet reached him. Hicks, who delivered his monologue dressed not in his usual gunslinger black but in “bright fall colours, an outfit bought just for the show and reflective of my bright and cheerful mood”, seemed to have a lot to smile about.
Letterman, who Hicks says greeted him as he sat down to talk with, “Good set, Bill! Always nice to have you drop by with an uplifting message!” and signed off saying, “Bill, enjoy answering your mail for the next few weeks,” had been seen to laugh. The word in the green room was also good. A couple of hours later, Hicks was back in his hotel, wearing nothing but a towel, when the call came from Robert Morton, the executive producer of the Letterman show, telling him he’d been deep-sixed. Hicks sat down on the bed.
The New Yorker, 1 November 1993.
What follows is an edited version of Hicks’ hitherto unpublished letter to Lahr.
Here is the material (verbatim) that CBS’s standards and practices found “unsuitable” for the viewing public in 1993, year of our Lord. These are the “hotspotsí”I believe were not mentioned. I’m going to include audience responses as well, for it does play a part in my thoughts on the incident which will follow the jokes. Jokes, John: this is what America now fears – one man with a point of view, speaking out, unafraid of our vaunted institutions, or the loathsome superstitions the CBS hierarchy feels the masses (the herd) use as their religion. I’m feeling good. The set I’ve prepared has been approved and reapproved by Mary Connelly, the segment producer of the show. It is exactly the same set that was approved for the previous Friday, the night where I was “bumped” due to lack of time. It is the material that I am excited about performing, for it best reflects – out of all the other appearances I’ve made on the show – myself.
Bill: Good evening! I’m very excited to be here tonight, and I’m very excited because I got some great news today. I’ve finally got my own TV show coming out as a replacement show this fall!
The audience applauds.
Bill: Don’t worry, it’s not a talk show.
The audience laughs.
Bill: Thank God! It’s a half-hour weekly show that I will be hosting, entitled “Let’s Hunt and Kill Billy Ray Cyrus”.
Audience bursts into laughter and applause.
Bill: I think it’s fairly self-explanatory. Each week we let the Hounds of Hell loose and chase the jar-head, no talent, cracker-idiot all over the globe till I finally catch that fruity little ponytail of his, pull him to his chippendale’s knees, put a shotgun in his mouth and “pow”.
Audience continues to applaud and laugh.
Bill: Then we’ll be back in ’94 with “Let’s Hunt and Kill Michael Bolton”.
Audience laughs and applauds.
Bill: Yeah, so you can see that, with guests like this, our run will be fairly limitless.
Bill: And we’re kicking the whole series off with our MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Markie Mark Christmas special …
Audience laughs and applauds.
Bill: And I don’t want to give any surprises away, but the first one we hunt and kill on that show is Markie Mark, because his pants keep falling around his ankles and he can’t run away … Bill mimes a hobbling Markie Mark.
The audience laughs.
Bill: Yeah, I get to cross-bow him right in the abs. It’s a beautiful thing. Bring the family. Tape it. It’s definitely a show for the nineties …
At this point I did a line about men dancing. Since it was never mentioned as a reason for excising me from the show, let’s skip ahead to the next “hot point” that was mentioned (by the way, the joke about men dancing got a huge laugh).
Bill: You know, I consider myself an open-minded person. But speaking of homosexuality, something has come to my attention that has shocked even me, Have you heard about these new grade school books for children they’re trying to add to the curriculum, to help children understand the gay lifestyle. One’s called Heather’s Two Mommies and the other is called Daddy’s New Roommate.
(Here I make a shocked, disgusted, face.)
Bill: Folks, I gotta draw the line here and say this is absolutely disgusting. It is grotesque, and it is pure evil.
Bill: I’m talking, of course, about Daddy’s New Roommate.
Bill: Heather’s Two Mommies is quite fetching. You know they’re hugging on page seven.
Bill: (lasciviously) Ooh! Go Mommies, go! Ooh! They kiss in chapter four!
Bill: Me and my nephew wrestle over that book every night …
(Bill mimes his little nephew jumping up and down.)
Bill: (as nephew) Uncle Bill, I’ve gotta do my homework.
Bill: Shut up and do your math! I’m proof-reading this for you …
We move directly into the next “hot point”:
Bill: You know who’s really bugging me these days. These pro-lifers …
Smattering of applause.
Bill: You ever look at their faces? “I’m pro-life!”
(Bill makes a pinched face of hate and fear, his lips are pursed as though he’s just sucked on a lemon.)
Bill: “I’m pro-life!” Boy, they look it don’t they? They just exude joie de vie. You just want to hang with them and play Trivial Pursuit all night long.
Bill: You know what bugs me about them? If you’re so pro-life, do me a favour – don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.
Bill: Let’s see how committed you are to this idea.
(Bill mimes the pursed lipped pro-lifers locking arms.)
Bill: (as pro-lifer) She can’t come in!
Bill: (as confused member of funeral procession) She was 98. She was hit by a bus!
Bill: (as pro-lifer) There’s options!
Bill: (as confused member of funeral procession) What else can we do? Have her stuffed?
Bill: I want to see pro-lifers with crowbars at funerals opening caskets – “get out!” Then I’d be really impressed by their mission.
Audience laughs and applauds.
(At this point I did a routine on smoking, which was never brought up as a “hot point”, so let’s move ahead to the end of my routine, and another series of jokes that were mentioned as “unsuitable”.)
Bill: I’ve been travelling a lot lately. I was over in Australia during Easter. It was interesting to note that they celebrate Easter the same way as we do – commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus by telling our children a giant bunny rabbit left chocolate eggs in the night.
Bill: I wonder why we’re so messed up as a race? You know, I’ve read the Bible – can’t find the words “bunny” or “chocolate” in the whole book.
Bill: Where do we get this stuff from? And why those two things? Why not “goldfish left Lincoln logs in our sock drawers”? I mean, as long as we are making things up, why not go hog wild?
Audience laughs and applauds.
Bill: I think it’s interesting how people act on their beliefs. A lot of Christians, for instance, wear crosses around their necks. Nice sentiment, but do you think that when Jesus comes back, he’s really going to want to look at a cross?
Audience laughs. Bill makes a face of pain and horror.
Bill: Ow. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t shown up yet …
Bill: (as Jesus looking down from heaven) I’m not going, Dad, no, they’re still wearing crosses – they totally missed the point. When they start wearing fishes, I might go back again … no, I’m not going … OK, I’ll tell you what – I’ll go back as a bunny …
Audience bursts into applause and laughter. The band kicks into Revolution by The Beatles.
Bill: Thank you very much! Good night!
(Bill crosses over to the seat next to Letterman’s desk. )
Letterman: Good set, Bill! Always nice to have you drop by with an uplifting message!
Audience and Bill laugh. Cut to commercial.
Then closes the show with …
Letterman: I want to thank our guests tonight – Andie McDowell, Graham Parker, and Bill Hicks … Bill, enjoy answering your mail over the next few weeks. Goodnight everybody!
The audience and Bill crack up at Letterman’s closing line.
… and we’re off the air.
Bill Sheft, a comic and one of the writers on the show, comes up to me saying, “Hicks, that was great!” I ask him if he thinks Letterman liked it. Bill Sheft, whose other duties include warming up the audience and getting them to applaud when the show goes in and out of commercials says, “Are you kidding? Letterman was cracking up throughout the whole set.”
Since I am a fan of Dave’s and the show, it meant a lot to me that he enjoyed my work. The fact that it was over, and by all accounts went fine, was a huge relief.
After the show, I returned to my hotel and took a long hot bath. As I was getting out of the tub, the phone rang. It was now half past seven. Robert Morton, the producer of the Letterman show, was on the line. He said, “Bill, I’ve got some bad news …” My first thought was that Dave had been chopped up and sauted by the mob cook. Robert Morton went on, “Bill, we’ve had to edit your set from tonight’s show.”
I sat down on the bed, stunned, wearing nothing but a towel. “I don’t understand, Robert. What’s the problem? I thought the show went great.”
Morton replied, “It did, Bill. You killed out there. It’s just that the CBS Standards and Practices felt that some of the material was unsuitable for broadcast.”
I rubbed my head, confused. “Ah. Which material did they find unsuitable?”
“Well,” Morty replied, “almost all of it. If I had to edit everything they object to, there’d be nothing left of the set, so we just think it’s best to cut you entirely from the show. Bill, we fought tooth and nail to keep the set as it is, but Standards and Practices won’t back down and David is furious. We’re all upset here. What can I say? It’s out of my hands now. We’ve never experienced this before with Standards and Practices, and they’re just not going to back down. I’m really sorry.”
“But, Bob, they’re so obviously jokes…”
“Bill, I know, I know. But Standards and Practices just doesn’t find them suitable.”
“But which ones? I mean, I ran this set by my 63-year-old Mom on her porch in Little Rock, Arkansas. You’re not going to find anyone more mainstream, nor any place more Middle America, than my Mom in Little Rock, Arkansas, and she had no problem with the material.”
“Bill, what can I say? It’s out of our hands, Bill. We’ll just try and schedule a different set in a couple of weeks and have you back on.”
Then Morton said, “Bill, we take full responsibility for this. It’s our fault. We should have spent more time before working on the set, so Mary and I could have edited out the “hot points”, and we wouldn’t be having to do this now.”
Finally, I came to my senses. I said, “Bob, they’re just jokes. I don’t want them to be edited by you. Why are people so afraid of jokes?”
To this, Morty replied, “Bill, you have to understand our audiences.” This is a line I’ve heard before and it always pisses me off. “Your audiences!”
I retorted, “What? Do you grow them on farms? Your audience is comprised of ‘people’, right? Well, I understand people, being a person myself. People are who I play to every night, Bob, and we get along just fine. And when I’m not performing on your show, I’m a member of the audience for your show. Are you saying that my material is not suitable for me? This doesn’t make sense. Why do you underestimate the intelligence of the audience? I think that shows a great deal of contempt on your part …”
Morty bursts in with, “Bill, it’s not our decision. We have to answer to the networks, and this is the way they want to handle it. Again, I’m sorry – you’re not at fault here. Now let me get to work on editing you from the show and we’ll set another date as soon as possible with some different material, OK?”
“What kind of material? How bad airline food is? Boy, 7-11s sure are expensive? Golly, Ross Perot has big ears? Bob, you keep saying that you want me on the show, then you don’t let me be myself, and now you’re cutting me out completely. I feel like a beaten wife who keeps coming back for more. I try and write the best material I can for you guys. Yours is the only show I do because I’m a big fan, and I think you’re the best talk show on television. And this is how you treat me?”
“Bill, that’s just the way it is sometimes. I’m sorry, OK.”
“Well, I’m sorry, too, Bob. Now I’ve got to call my folks back and tell them not to wait up. I’ve got to call all my friends …”
“Bill, I know. This is tough on all of us.”
“Well, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do … OK.” Then we hang up.
So there you have it. Not since Elvis was censored from the waist down has a performer, a comic, performing on the very same stage, been so censored – now from the neck up – in America. For telling jokes.
“What are they so afraid of?” I yelled. “Goddamnit! I’m a fan of the show. I’m an audience member. I do my best shit for them … they’re just jokes.” Here’s this show I loved, that touted itself as this hip late-night talk show, trying to silence one man’s voice, a comic, no less.
Apparently, many of my media friends, fans and supporters are also Letterman fans. They felt that this was a story that was newsworthy and expressed to me their own sympathy and outrage over what had occurred. Thursday came and went and still no tape arrived, so I took it upon myself to call Robert Morton personally. I asked why the tape hadn’t arrived yet, and he said, “Um. I don’t know if we are legally allowed to send out a tape of an unaired segment of a show.”
I thought this had just come off the top of his head so I said, “Robert, I just want it for my archives, and my parents would love to see it,” to which Morty replied, “I understand. I’ll get you the tape. And let’s work on another set for a few weeks from now.”
“Great,” I said, and hung up. To this day, no tape has ever arrived.
Since there was so much interest from the media, we decided to go ahead and do some interviews. One radio talk show I did, the Alan Bennet Show in San Francisco, had a live studio audience the morning I called in to be interviewed. The studio audience laughed at the jokes as I told them, and applauded the points I made about television after hearing the jokes. One person who heard the broadcast took it upon himself to write a stinging letter to CBS, chastising them for their cowardice for not airing my set. He quickly received a letter in reply which was then forwarded to my office.
Its contents were most interesting and added a humorous twist to the already black comedy that was unfolding. I have CBS’s reply before me, and quote: “… it is true that Bill Hicks was taped that evening and that his performance did not air. What is inaccurate is that the deletion of his routine was required by CBS. In fact, although a CBS Programme Practices editor works on the show, the decision was solely that of the producers of the programme with that of another comedian.
Therefore, your criticism that CBS censored the programme is totally without foundation. Creative judgement must be made in the course of producing any programme, and, while we regret that you disagreed with this one, the producers thought it necessary, and this is a decision we would not override.”
I did what I’ve always done – performed material in a comedic way, which I thought was funny. The artist always plays to himself, and I believe the audience, seeing that one person can be free to express his thoughts, however strange they may seem, inspires the audience to feel that perhaps they too can freely express their innermost thoughts with impunity, joy and release, and perhaps discover our common bond – unique, yet so similar – with each other.
This philosophy may appear at first to some as selfish – “I play to me and do material that interests and cracks me up.” But, you see, I don’t feel I’m different from anyone else. The audience is me. I believe we all have the same voice of reason inside us, and that voice is the same in everyone.
This is what I think CBS, the producers of the Letterman show, the networks and governments fear the most – that one man free, expressing his own thoughts and point of view, might somehow inspire others to think for themselves and listen to that voice of reason inside them, and then perhaps, one by one we will awaken from this dream of lies and illusions that the world, the governments and their propaganda arm, the mainstream media, feeds us continuously over fifty-two channels, twenty-four hours a day.
What I realised was that they don’t want the people to be awake. The elite ruling class wants us asleep so we’ll remain a docile, apathetic herd of passive consumers and non-participants in the true agendas of our governments, which is to keep us separate and present an image of a world filled with unresolvable problems, that they, and only they, might somewhere, in the never-arriving future, may be able to solve. Just stay asleep, America. Keep watching television. Keep paying attention to the infinite witnesses of illusion we provide you over “Lucifer’s Dream Box”.
The herd has been pacified by our charade of concern as we pose the two most idiotic questions imaginable – “Is television becoming too violent?” and “Is television becoming too promiscuous?” The answer, my friends, is this: television is too stupid. It treats us like morons. Case closed.
And now, the final irony. One of the “hot points” that was brought up as being “unsuitable for our audience” was my joke about pro-lifers. My brilliant friend Andy posited the theory that this was really what bothered and scared the network the most, seeing as how the “pro-life” movement has essentially become a terrorist group acting with impunity and God on their side, in a country where the reasonable majority overwhelmingly supports freedom of choice regarding abortion.
I felt there was something to this theory, but I was still surprised to be watching the Letterman Show (I’m still a fan) the Monday night following my censored Friday night performance and, lo and behold, they cut to a – are you ready for this? – pro-life commercial. This farce is now complete. “Follow the money!”
Then I’ll see you all in heaven, where we can really share a great laugh together Forever and ever and ever.
With love, Bill Hicks.
John Lahr is a writer based in London and New York. He is the author of Light Fantastic: Adventures in Theatre (Bloomsbury) and Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton (Penguin)
A Piquant Trait of the Peculiar Psyche of Contemporary Man
Now let us return to those three-brained beings arising on the planet Earth, who have interested you most of all and whom you have called ‘slugs.’
“I shall begin by saying how glad I am that you happen to be a long way from those three-centered beings whom you called by a word so ‘insulting to their dignity’ and that they are not likely ever to hear of it.
“Do you know, you poor thing, you small boy not yet aware of himself, what they would do to you, particularly the contemporary beings there, if they should hear what you called them?
“What they would have done to you if you had been there and if they had got hold of you — I am seized with horror at the very mention of it.
“At best they would have thrashed you so, that as our Mullah Nassr Eddin there says, ‘you wouldn’t have recovered your senses before the next crop of birches.’
“In any case, I advise you that, whenever you start anything new, you should always bless Fate and beseech her mercy, that she should always be on guard and prevent the beings of the planet Earth from ever suspecting that you, my beloved and only grandson, dared to call them ‘slugs.’
“You must know that during the time of my observations of them from the planet Mars and during the periods of my existence among them, I studied the psyche of these strange three-brained beings very thoroughly, and so I already know very well what they would do to anybody who dared to give them such a nickname.
“To be sure, it was only in childish naivete that you called them so; but the three-brained beings of that peculiar planet, especially the contemporary ones, do not discriminate such fine points.
“Who called them, why, and in what circumstances — it’s all one. They have been called by a name they consider insulting — and that’s quite enough.
“Discrimination in such matters is, according to the understanding of most of them, simply, as they express it, ‘pouring from the empty into the void.’
“Be that as it may, you were in any case extremely rash to call the three-brained beings breeding on the planet Earth by such an offensive name; first, because you have made me anxious for you, and secondly, because you have laid up for yourself a menace for the future.
“The position is this: Though, as I have already said, you are a long way off, and they will be unable to get at you to punish you personally, yet nevertheless if they should somehow unexpectedly chance to learn even at twentieth hand how you insulted them, then you could at once be sure of their real ‘anathema,’ and the dimensions of this anathema would depend upon the interests with which they happened to be occupied at the given moment.
“Perhaps it is worth while describing to you how the beings of the Earth would behave if they should happen to learn that you had so insulted them. This description may serve as a very good example for the elucidation of the strangeness of the psyche of these three-brained beings who interest you.
“Provoked by such an incident as your thus insulting them, if everything was rather ‘dull’ with them at the given moment, owing to the absence of any other similar absurd interest, they would arrange somewhere in a previously chosen place, with previously invited people, all of course dressed in costumes specially designed for such occasions, what is called a ‘solemn council.’
“First of all, for this ‘solemn council’ of theirs, they would select from among themselves what is called a‘president’and only then would they proceed with their ‘trial.’
“To begin with, they would, as they say there, ‘pick you to pieces,’ and not only you, but your father, your grandfather, and perhaps even all the way back to Adam.
“If they should then decide — of course, as always, by a majority of votes — that you are guilty, they would sentence you according to the indications of a code of laws collated on the basis of former similar ‘puppet plays’ by beings called ‘old fossils.’
“But if they should happen, by a ‘majority of votes’ to find nothing criminal in your action at all — though this very seldom occurs among them — then this whole ‘trial’ of theirs, set out on paper in detail and signed by the whole lot of them, would be dispatched — you would think into the wastepaper basket? Oh, no! — to appropriate specialists; in the given instances to what is called the ‘Hierarchy’ or ‘Holy Synod,’ where the same procedure would be repeated; only in this case you would be tried by ‘important’ beings there.
“Only at the very end of this true ‘pouring from the empty into the void’ would they come to the main point, namely, that the accused is out of reach.
“But it is just here that arises the principal danger to your person, namely, that when they are quite certain beyond all doubt that they cannot get hold of you, they will then unanimously decide nothing more nor less than, as I have already said, to ‘anathematize’ you.
“And do you know what that is and how it is done? “No!
“Then listen and shudder.
“The most ‘important’ beings will decree to all the other beings that in all their appointed establishments, such as what are called
‘churches,’‘chapels,’‘synagogues,’‘town-halls,’ and so on, special officials shall on special occasions with appointed ceremonies wish for you in thought something like the following:
“That you should lose your horns, or that your hair should turn prematurely gray, or that the food in your stomach should be turned into coffin nails, or that your future wife’s tongue should be three times its size, or that whenever you take a bite of your pet pie it should be turned into ‘soap,’ and so on and so forth in the same strain.
“Do you now understand to what dangers you exposed yourself when you called these remote three-brained freaks ‘slugs’?”
Having finished thus, Beelzebub looked with a smile on his favorite.