June, Wednesday 2, 2004 – Cronos: When Riffle’s sword touched my neck, I saw a bit more of Cronos’ history. It was from earlier than before, again. The Titanomachy hadn’t happened yet. Zeus was free but the others were still engulleted.
It made me angry.
I scolded it.
I said, No, world! I do not need the history of Cronos right now. If anything, I need the history of Riffle!
This was actually a mistake on my part. I should have blamed myself because it is, after all, my very own power that gave me, perversely, this insight. But blaming oneself is very hard. I’m not sure it’s something people can do.
So I scolded, instead, the world.
Crack the earth.
Stir the sea.
From the west there comes an outpouring of good to make all things right.
Max sets out in his catamaran to bring this virtue to an end.
He’s owned his crime but he can’t make it right.
His crime is a poison.
It is the Latter Days of the Law.
The Buddha’s answer is fading.
It cannot stop the suffering of the world.
The knife of the legend of Mr. Kong
Reflects his answer:
“We must try to be good.”
The Island of the Centipede
Cronos slouched on the throne of the world.
He was contemplating a sickle. It was a really big flint sickle and it was grey.
“Son,” said Cronos. O my love.
That was the weird thing about Cronos. When you’d hear him talk, the world would echo with that in the background: O my love.
“Son,” said Cronos.
It was an awkward moment.
I thought I’d eaten you, but maybe it was a rock.
I had that thought once, on Floor 93-GA. It was the suckiest eating contest ever.
“You’ve been eating everybody,” said Zeus. “Poseidon and Hera and stuff.”
“I did not ask to rule a Golden Age,” Cronos said. “Rather I wished to dominate a freakish carnival of horrors. A masque of the imperfect. A world of people with the bones of their pain jutting out so that you can hardly talk to them without saying, ‘O my love, why are you broken?'”
Zeus said, “I understand.”
I don’t know much about Zeus. There’s a bias in the history—a sense of focus to it. Zeus is important, but it’s Cronos whom this history is about, down here in the crust of the world. So I don’t know much about Zeus or what was going on in his head, but I think that he was telling the truth.
He had that Martin sound, all serious and like it’s perfectly natural, of course, who wouldn’t prefer to rule a world wracked with sorrow and pain and full of monsters?
And Cronos smiled, like it was a joy to hear.
“I am going to cut your stomach open,” said Zeus, “and spill out my brothers and my sisters, and a rock.”
“And if I forbid it?”
“In this world,” said Zeus, “we bring forth children in sorrow.”
Cronos had trouble finding an answer to that one.
“It’s the rule,” Zeus explained.
This would appear to be one of the Man Laws, like in those Miller Lite commercials. You poke it, you own it. We bring forth children in sorrow. Entropy always increases. Don’t shoot food. Leave the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil alone. Castrating your father and taking over his throne is a punishable offense. Sharing is caring.
Stuff like that.
Not even Cronos can really argue with that kind of rule; but at the same time, he didn’t rise and hand Zeus the sickle.
“Who are you, my son?” Cronos asked.
“I’m the Lord of Misrule,” said Zeus. “I’m the answer to your prayers. I’m the one who’ll bring this whole world down around your ears.”
Cronos’ heart fluttered in his chest. It’s weird that he’d never taken it out—you’d think that he would have, since there’s nothing so dangerous as a heart. But he hadn’t.
“Show me,” he said, and his voice was desperate with hope.
“Your authority has no foundation,” said Zeus, “for you have done a wicked thing.“
It was electric. It cut through the air. But it didn’t impress Cronos.
“More,” Cronos said.
“The dog that carries a serpent on his back is vile; the tiger that carries a dog, we call a saint.“
Cronos mulled that one over for a while.
Then he shook his head.
The sky gathered behind his shoulders and the stars burned bright with Uri’s fires and the world grew heavy as a woman carrying her child and he said, “You are not equal to this task.”
Dread was the nimbus of Cronos at that moment. The power of him held Zeus still. Cronos was Ge’s son in that moment, strong as the earth, unsurpassable, indestructible, horned and terrible, and free—as only one creature in all the world could be—to act accordant to his desires.
Ink’s hand hurts quite a bit more than her neck. The sword has cut her hand deeply. It is still, and thank Heaven for the pathetic muscles of the little rat, no more than skin-deep in her neck.
But it’s the blood that runs down her neck that scares her.
She finds herself wondering, “Is it possible to die?”
She will probably have a choice in the matter. She is the imago and she has been to Hell and back and it seems likely that she would have a choice. But it is also probable that something would be lost. If nothing else, her sense of her own humanity. At worst, the value of the sacrifice of her life, with which she is hoping to carry past any final obstacles that stand between Ink Catherly and God.
I think that I will describe the terror that was Cronos in that moment like this.
We are in ourselves the actual and the ideal. And the actual is all that moves, all that acts, all that speaks. We cannot really demonstrate that there is more: but there must be more, or we are in Hell.
Where is the fire of our intention?
Where does it move upon the earth?
It does not, and in that respect Earth is very much like Hell, and yet, and yet, and yet the difference is that we are here. Hell is to live without experiencing our life. Earth is life knowing our own presence. It is life, flush with our ideals.
But Cronos knew a thing that I did not know.
He wore it like a blaze.
It was the terror of the flesh, the power of the actual, the aura of the substance of him. That with his hands and with his fingers he could move, and Zeus could not stop him from moving; that that substance was raw, unconstrained by Zeus’ volition or the limits that Zeus would rather have put on it, and capable in its action of dragging Zeus’ ideals down.
Those dirty fingernails could break Zeus’ virtue. Those bloody hands could kill him. Those great arms and those great teeth could put a stop to the ideals of the lord of all the gods.
Flesh has that power.
It obliterated the thoughts of Zeus. It held him still.
But Zeus had trained for this.
He had spent years in empty meditation and practice and taught his flesh to act when his mind could not.
The world swam with the blinding rapture of Cronos and it drove away the thoughts of Zeus and the will of Zeus and the fire of him flickered and went dim beneath the wind of all that power, and the flesh of Zeus stepped forward and took the sickle in his hand and cut his father’s stomach open to bring his brothers and sisters into the world.
It seemed impossible to Zeus that it did not hurt Zeus; that the opening of the wound in his father’s stomach brought Zeus no pain, burnt none of Zeus’ nerves; that he could see and hear and smell the wound but he could not feel it.
It seemed a thing that should wound, instead, the all of world and sound.
Out fell the stone; and Hades and Poisedon; and Hera and Demeter and Hestia; and great snaky loops of titantestine too; and Cronos looked down at his stomach and Zeus could hardly see his face through the blindingness of the reality of that moment when he cut his father open at the throne of all the world.
Cronos staggered. The storm shifted at his back. It loomed upon the world and in that moment it seemed very possible that the world would end and there would only be Heaven and Hell forever after, amen—
Somehow, Cronos held it back.
Somehow, Cronos balanced himself and held aloft the burden of all pains while his innards snaked themselves back in.
The fingernails on his hand were cracked and dirty. His hair was wild. He reached for his son with hands soaked in everybody’s blood.
Cloud-shouldered Zeus, the son of Cronos, born in the fullness of Tyranny to bring justice to the world, seized five babies and a stone and fled.
THE HISTORY OF THE SWORD