The Eternal War is Here (excerpt)

opium den.jpg

Once I was lying comfortably she disappeared again into the back room and reemerged bearing a tray on which were arranged a pipe, a lamp, and several other implements and vessels.  And a book of matches from Trader Vic’s.  She lit the lamp, adjusted the flame, then used a tool with the look of a Civil War dental instrument to scrape out a pea-sized ball of opium from a little lacquer box.  Picking up another needle, or skewer, she heated and kneaded the pellet of opium over the low flame.  When it was warm and soft enough she put it into the opening at the top of a hexagonal ceramic bowl plugged into a long bamboo pipe with silver fittings.


The Eternal War is Here (excerpt)


How do you dream in numbers?  I can curse in numbers, scream in numbers, pray for deliverance from inverse functions, and all those expressions might be blessedly silenced by the pipe, but none assisted…Opium could have given them a new way of looking at old equations.  ‘Well, yes, Franco, strictly speaking three times three does equal nine, but an eight is so beautifully symmetrical, infinity upended, that I had to put it in there.’


The Abramiad, Part Two: "The Long Afternoon" (excerpt)


“American banknotes are by common consent the world’s dullest,” he says almost dreamily as he fondles a handful of them.  “Uniform in size and shade, stamped with every species of politician from founding father to pioneer ward heeler, and not a single writer or artist...unchanging Freemason symbols and nary a reproduction of, say, a Thomas Eakins painting or a St. Gaudens sculpture by way of illustrating a really quite worthy patrimony...and even the most gruesome patch of turf on the planet, where by rights only food and fuel and bullets ought to have any currency, the greenback will still grease and/or turn the wheels of commerce.  Now tell me, Vietnam notwithstanding, that the United States isn’t still the city on a hill envisioned by that righteous pain in the ass Winthrop.”

“Ronald Reagan couldn’t have said it any better.  I mean, he really couldn’t.  You know, someone should really be following you with a tape recorder.”