November, 2005

Mythic Prelude:

Hostage Lite and Bozosis

Today I was held hostage in the Middle East for the first time.

I went to an apartment in the Dokki area of Cairo to meet two American friends for a visit to our Egyptian friend Daoud (not his real name). Daoud, in the famous Bible story that is well-known to almost all of us, is the Joseph (Arabic Yusuf) character of his family, the child so favored by his parents that he is of course despised by his brothers and sisters, who are resolved to express their resentment and bitterness by acting in concert to harm him. Daoud's sister in particular has been relentlessly vindictive, bringing an endless series of lawsuits against him, all aimed at forcing Daoud to impoverish himself in order to pay his court costs.

The building we visited today was both politically and emotionally explosive in these terms, as the sister owns the building as a whole, while Daoud owns within it a few flats on which he earns rental income. Daoud's sister, whom we will call Magnul (crazy) -- more on this later -- is trying to intimidate potential tenants from renting from Daoud by threatening to sue them if they move into one of his units. She has also told the imam of the mosque just in front of the building that Daoud wants to rent to Israelis who intend to ridicule and hurt Islam.

Our real reason for going to Daoud's apartment -- not his living space, but a flat that he is renovating and getting ready to rent out -- was to purify it. Jeanne Eck smudged the place with a sage bundle, her husband Chuck Shepherd held the frequency of courage with his powerful Mars energy, and I played didjeridoo, bells, and a quartz crystal singing bowl containing some water that I had been given by reiki master Mary Bontempo, from a well in Saleh Salem that is called St. Mary's, and is said to have been dug by the boy Jesus in Mary's presence. It was quite clear when I went around to play didjeridoo in all the rooms that the dark energies in Daoud's apartment had gathered in the bathroom, in which the windows are very dirty and closed, the water in the plumbing fixtures stagnant and needing to move. Our prescription for Daoud was to run the water fixtures and clean all the windows thoroughly, especially the very dusty outer screens, with soap and water, followed by a rinse of clean water, preferably from the Siwa Oasis.

Little did we know as we were on our way back downstairs how true it would be for us today that love brings up whatever is not love to be cleared. Even as we got back down to the third floor and passed Magnul's flat again, and felt again that the pain of the person living there is not only palpably heavy, but piercingly so, we had no idea what was waiting in the lobby, from which we thought we were about to waltz out for a delightful lunch together.

While we'd been up on the top floor, as it turned out, Magnul had arranged for the bawaab (doorman) and another man to change the lock on the lobby door, then lock us in and gather a gang of men who would attack us and beat us. This is what the bawaab shouted from the other side of the door when Daoud demanded that he let us out, and Chuck voiced the same demand in what anyone could hear as clear, strong Arabic. When Daoud then said that he would call the police if the bawaab did not open the door, the voice we heard next was from Magnul's maid, yelling at the bawaab that if he opened the door, he'd be fired from his job.

Men began to gather on the other side of the door, four of them by now, and Daoud said he believed that Magnul had timed this action for now because men would be coming soon to the mosque for prayers, and the bawaab would easily find among them some angry men -- and hungry men, now that mid-day in Ramadan was coming fast -- who'd be ready to pick up a stick and bop some Americans. It soon occurred to Jeanne, Chuck and me that the best word to describe what was now happening was hostage. Daoud called the police, only to find that in five calls to the 122 police emergency number, the police dispatcher at the other end was convinced that Daoud's story was so improbable that he must be playing a joke of some kind. I don't know if the 122 desk cop warned Daoud that sending a prank police emergency call is a crime, and he'd be punished if he kept this farce up.

Chuck had his Aries on, and got more hits with his calls to the American embassy and the security director at Schlumberger, who called in turn the regional security office of the Egyptian national government. I called my landlord Gouda Fayed, who called his cousin the police general, his lawyer and another official in his very large family -- it is said here in Nazlet el-Samman, right in front of the Sphinx, where some 5,000 Fayeds live, that every day a Fayed is born, and a Fayed dies. No one says out loud that a lot of Fayeds wear uniforms, but this is well understood.

While the wheels of what is costumed as justice here in Egypt were beginning to turn at a distance, our focus was naturally still on the other side of the smoked glass doors, where we noticed the blur of one man after another who came up, tried in vain to look through the door, then went away. It was at least a relief to us now that we saw only one new blur every couple of minutes, and we did not see, and hear the clamor of, a growing mob of men outside. In one call after another from what are called mobile phones here in Egypt, Chuck, Daoud and I delivered the same message: three Americans are being held hostage and threatened with bodily harm. This went on for some thirty minutes.

Until we saw a couple of white uniforms appear on the other side of the door, and Daoud told us the police are here. Next we heard a walkie talkie, and we figured that either some police who are important enough to be patched through to the precinct are here, or some crooks of a more sophisticated type have now joined the show. By this time the bawaab and any others who'd been thinking of being stick men today were long gone. Our deliverance was only a matter of time.

We were never, in all honesty, fearful of any harm. Daoud had heard some of the men outside say, "There is a very big man in there." This would be Chuck, who was a football player and still looks it. Anyone coming through the door would get to meet him, and next to him the man who is not quite as big -- that would be me -- but who was holding a big thick stick some four feet long that nobody needed to know yet was not a heavy club, but only a thin-walled didjeridoo that would never be used as a weapon anyway. And as if this package of beef and trickery were not enough, any intruders would have had to face Jeanne's voice and general ring of Leo authority. We were not worried.

There was never any doubt, except sometimes in Daoud's mind, that we would all come through this perfectly safe. There is no bravado in this. We knew that the ceremony of love we had just done upstairs would inevitably evoke love's opposite from Daoud's sister. What we did not reckon when we started the cleansing upstairs, but which soon became clear as the door was unlocked and we walked out to see the city sheriff, some plainclothes police now pulling up under a siren, and half a dozen senior white suits wearing enough gold stars and bars to dress at least two war ministers, was that Daoud's sister had proved herself to be magnul kiteer -- really crazy -- because she had committed the very serious crime of holding others hostage. She was in some deep, smelly hummus now, as we could see easily from the face of her maid, the one who'd shouted down at the bawaab to keep us locked inside, as the police put her into the back of their navy blue panel truck and drove off.

It was all over but the initial paperwork, which we went through in an hour at the Dokki police station. All they really wanted was our names and addresses. Little more was needed when the main premise of the scenario was that in a country that lives and dies by its tourist industry, one does not commit felonious crimes against rich Americans who spend suitcases of money here. It mattered little that Magnul and Daoud's little brother, who soon appeared -- truth be served over kindness this time, he is one of the few men I've ever seen whose totem animal could actually be a weasel -- first claimed that we had come to rob him, and we had stolen his wallet and thrown it away, and then said that we were there to rent the apartment from Daoud. By now it was plain from the face of the brother's lawyer too that the purpose of our visit to Daoud was irrelevant. The bottom-line weight of the case couldn't be avoided: the crime of hostage-taking, at least against Americans, is a very serious matter.

And also a very light one, as one thing that a stupid crook story as spectacular as this one proves yet again is that there is nothing to fear when we are still in the comic universe, where human beings are both thrillingly inept and full-balloon crazy, and we continually bring weird trouble on ourselves not because we are wicked, but because we are simply too dumb to anticipate the consequences of what we do. Today's main exhibit is the landlady who does not look ahead to the severe boot in the burqa that she is going to get if she is unfastened enough to have Americans held hostage in the lobby of her building. Other exhibits abound, and can be cited in passing. (1) The bumbling defense secretary who tries to invade and occupy a furiously hostile country by sending an army less than half as big as the force his generals tell him they need. (2) The corporate buccaneer who steals billions of dollars from his shareholders and employees, and believes they'll all be good sports about it, accept their screwing in good cheer and never voice the mildest complaint. (3) The nation that thinks it can go on living far beyond its means and keep borrowing trillions of dollars from competitor countries, who, the borrower assumes, will never use their financial clout to apply the death of a thousand cuts. (4) The president who calls his foolish military adventure a "crusade," then is surprised to see that he has on his hands a longer, harder fight than he expected; (5) The especially endearing guy who walks into a 7 - 11 wearing a George B-sh mask, holds up the store and leaves, only to find that he can't start his car, then walks back into the store wearing the same clothes, with the mask hanging out of his back pocket, and asks the store clerk to help him with a jump start -- and he is then amazed to see that somehow the police have just arrived.

The conclusion is inescapable: that what Jeanne and Chuck, Daoud and I experienced today turned out to be Hostage Lite because human beings in general are not really sinful, much less actually E-word. The reason we inflict so much painful strangeness on ourselves, let the embarrassing truth be told, is that we are suffering from acute bozosis (Am. Eng. bozo, n., "clown," 1800's vaudeville, from It. bozzo, adj. "mentally damaged or defective"), and this is what causes us to imagine that we can do something astoundingly silly and not have to pay for it. It is even possible, grim as the thought may be, that the most difficult obstacle to the spiritual liberation of the Earth in the years just to come is not greed, or rage, or hate, or any other frequency based in fear. It is that human beings are simply too bozotic to ascend. While we need not dwell at length on the nuances of bozo and its related words -- the definitive primary source on this remains the Firesign Theatre album I Think We're all Bozos on This Bus -- it is worth noting in passing that the classic bozo type is easily recognizable by his or her large, bulbous nose, which squeaks pleasantly when another person gives it a gentle squeeze, an act that a bozo rarely resents, and may actually enjoy.

While a bozo may create astonishing trouble for himself and others, he never does so from mean or selfish motives, and is truly decent, affable and kind, if not terribly bright. Classic bozos: Jacques Tati's M. Hulot. Ed Norton of The Honeymooners, once described as "the stupidest man" by his fellow bozo Ralph Kramden. Ted Baxter of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, though he is more of a bozo-magpie hybrid, as are many roles played by the late Ted Knight. Shakespeare's Nick Bottom, Polonius, Dogberry and Gloucester in King Lear. Sterne's Uncle Toby Shandy. Franz Liebkin, the unrepentant Nazi playwright from The Producers. Rip Van Winkle. Dagwood Bumstead. Clarence the Angel and Uncle Billy Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. Gracie Allen. Colonel Moodus in Catch 22. King Priam and almost all the citizenry of Troy. Homer Simpson. Chester A. Riley. Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. Edith Bunker. Billy and Valencia Pilgrim, Colonel "Wild Bob" and other inhabitants of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. Candide. C. W. Moss in Bonnie and Clyde. Sancho Panza, except when he is governor of Baritaria. Pantalone in the commedia dell' arte. Sergeant Snorkel, who is actually a bozo-berserker hybrid. The Keystone Kops. The guy who traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. And anyone who continues to make or buy an SUV when the price of oil heads over $60 a barrel toward $100, though such people are technically bozo-piggie hybrids in whom the bozo's natural modesty is muted by the same need for importance that caused power piggies in bygone eras to claim superiority over others by looking down at them from on top of a horse.

Bozos are absolutely everywhere, so much so that the scientist who may eventually isolate the bozo gene will probably not win a Nobel prize because he or she will only have confirmed what the rest of us knew all along. If a bozo gene does indeed prove to be part of our innate genetic makeup, then it will be inescapably true that not just most human beings, but all of us are in fact involuntary shape shifters who have no control at all of our repertoire, and may switch at any moment from bozosis to common sense and basic competence, and then back to bozosis in a manner that is absolutely random and unpredictable, so there is no telling when any human being will suddenly bozo out, and with what bizarre results. Much of the tension of modern life, in fact, especially in the "developed" countries, is simply in the effort so many people make to suppress their bozosis and be competent almost all the time, a vain endeavor that makes a clownburst of long-stifled bozosis inevitable and catastrophic. The ultimate, terrible product of this toxic repression of one's bozo nature: the corporate chief executive, who is expected to make consistently good decisions by being utterly without bozosis all the time, and so must live in an agony of perpetual stress until his bozosis bursts forth with an effect that is cyclonic and diluvian on himself and all others around him.

There can be no better laboratory for observing this than Egypt. This is an intensely bozotic country that would seem measurelessly inventive in the art medium of chaos if all this bozosis were not happening completely by accident. We shall not attempt here to explain the why of any of it, except to note in passing that the combination of poverty, established religion and corruption has been known more than once in our planet's history to make a country go full-out, four alarm, pants-on-fire, broken wall and tower bozotic. Much of Earth's history can be understood from this. The long bozosis of Italy over the many centuries since the Roman empire was toppled by invading bozo-wolf hybrid tribes. The stultifying bozosis of Ireland, from which James Joyce could not wait to escape. Come to think of it, though I'm only a bozo-ibis hybrid rather than a pure bozo type, I am in fact something of a seasoned authority on bozonics, having been born in the bozone of Brooklyn, New York and having lived much of my life in other bozospheres, notably Kansas, Hawaii and now Egypt.

One encounters bozosis here in Egypt every day, in matters great and small. A few days ago I went to the Mena House hotel, on the other size of the Giza plateau from where I live, to buy an International Herald Tribune, assuming that it would be easy to find at what is after all an Oberoi hotel, and should be as expert as any at having what their guests and other visitors want, and extracting their money for it. I find in the bookshop only the two Egyptian English papers: the Al Ahram Weekly, which sells for one Egyptian pound (about US 17¢) and the Egyptian Gazette, which costs half that much, 50 piastres. There are no foreign papers on the rack. When I ask the clerk if he has the Trib, he finds it in a stack of papers that are under the counter, out of sight, and sells it to me for LE 9 (about $1.46). The math could not be more obvious. Could this shop make more from selling only two of the Trib or Le Monde or Die Zeit than it will get from selling out all the local papers it has? Yes, probably, though strictly scientific method compels us to point out that bozosis is not the only variable that may be in play in this case. One does not have to be George I. Gurdjieff to spot the faux-bozosis of laziness that human beings will sink into when they know they will keep their jobs no matter how well or poorly they do them, and they have no motive to make sure the foreign papers their guests want are right at chest level on the center rack on their newspaper stand.

More entrenched and conspicuous bozosis is on view every night on the other side of the Giza monuments, right across Sphinx Street from where I live, in the sound and light show at the pyramids and the great sphinx. The show, my next-door neighbor and teacher Abd'el Hakim tells me, has not changed in the 25 years since it first began, and he soon suggested that the tourists could listen to the show on headphones in their respective languages, so the village could enjoy peace and quiet again in the evening, and not be assaulted for three hours every night by ear-splitting noise pollution from sound equipment so tinny that one naturally wonders if it might have been built partly from Bronze Age artifacts found right here on the Giza plateau.

Even with all the advances in computer and digital entertainment technology over the last 25 years, and all the ways in which Egypt too has tried to modernize, the sound and light show is the same as it was a quarter-century ago. There is the same low-effort "history" to the effect that the pyramid stones were cut with copper tools, then dragged into place by 100,000 slaves hauling the two-ton blocks with ropes on wooden rollers, and somehow using human brawn and donkey power to place them into such perfect position that mortar was neither needed nor used. There is the same hammy narration by voices like the plummy British character actor in Spartacus who tells Laurence Olivier as Crassus that his defeat of the slave army is his most glorious victory. There is the same cheesy lighting from a system so antiquated that it lacks even a dimmer board, so that all the lights are operated only with on/off switches and can't be faded in or out. The sad result is that when the show ends with all three pyramids and the sphinx lit up, and the last crashing chords of an orchestral score that can only be described as morbidly obese, the lights -- all cut off at once. No mysterious, dramatic fade of the kind that anyone can see would be much better. Lights bang off, as they've been banging off now for 25 years.

Imagine this: Microsoft or Apple or Lucasfilm or whoever commits to donating a computer-controlled light and sound system to the Giza pyramids, and to training the Egyptian staff who will operate it. Everybody wins. The donor company gets marvelous PR. The audience gets a much better show. Egyptian-American cooperation leads to better relations between their countries. And the local tech staff learns priceless skills that they could teach in turn to talented young light and sound students, thereby training a generation of new tech wizards who can propagate their expertise all through the region, and work with the best anywhere. Is it a dynamite idea? Of course it is. Do you know someone who knows someone who could help bring it to realization? You probably do. Will it happen here anytime soon? Just ask yourself another question. Have you ever thought to yourself, as many have by now about how to create a better show at Giza, that your new idea makes so much sense it will never be adopted? Of course you have, and so has everybody you know. Many times. If anything, we find ourselves thinking more and more often how so many things in our community, our country and our world could be made better if human beings were not so impervious to change, to creativity, to honest effort. For all we know, bozosis may have nothing to do with anyone's mental acuity or speed, but only with the sleeping dog act that so many human beings play so well. Most, not just some, will avoid making any effort when they have the easy option of settling into a comfortable pillow of habit, resignation and disengagement.

This has long been the usual practice, if one can call it that, in Japan and Hawaii, where I used to live, and here in Egypt, where stark poverty, oozing corruption and the everyday outrages of an immovable police state all anchor the general belief that nothing can be done. Typical is the response of one of Gouda's daughters, when she heard about my experience of being kidnapped and held hostage. "The women here are completely crazy," she said. "They pull things like this all the time and think they can get away with them. And a lot of the time they do. That's why I stay at home."

Needless to say, though we now have on our planet more ways to be mobile than we have ever had before, more and more of us are choosing to stay at home, in every sense of that metaphor. We have seen clearly enough for a while now that human beings will respond in fear to rapid change and unpredictable challenges, and that the faster and wilder the ride gets, the more we shall have to address all the fear by holding the frequency of love. What we had not expected is that the scenario of planetary awakening is even more complex than we'd thought. We know, we see it happening, that millions of people all over the world are starting to awaken every year. What we did not see was how many people would try to evade the mounting pressures of the time by switching off, staying at home, going to sleep.

The Reawakening will still come. But before it does, we shall have to find the conscious, active ways to attract it. Until we do, we shall be served a cluster of alarms and emergencies unprecedented in our history. The political bombshell that Americans await with glee, dread and wonder this week, as top officials of the American government are about to be indicted for high crimes in the CIA leak case, is a mere bit player at a time when Mother Earth fights through her health crisis with one cataclysm after another, when the global economy -- never so interconnected as it is now -- is a house of cards, and when the much-respected physician and author Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz has now written, in his article "Avian Flu Fright: Politically Timed for Global 'Iatrogenocide'," that "If avian flu becomes more than a threatened pandemic, it will have done so by political and economic design."

"This thesis," Horowitz goes on, "is supported by current massive media misrepresentations, profiteering on risky and valueless vaccines, gross neglect of data evidencing earlier similar man-made plagues including SARS, West Nile Virus, AIDS and more; continuance of genetic studies breeding more mutant flu viruses likely to outbreak, inside trading scandals involving pandemic savvy White House and drug industry officials, curious immunity of these pharmaceutical entities over the past century to law enforcement and mainstream media scrutiny, and published official depopulation objectives. With the revelations and assertions advanced herein, the public is forewarned against this physician assisted mass murder best termed 'iatrogenocide.'"

Horowitz's stunning report spreads like wildfire on the internet now, and will be a valuable test case for determining whether news of this ultimate crime will cause more human beings to rise into awareness than to snooze into bozosis. The moment of opportunity is now at hand, well before we enter on Nov. 28 what
Mayan calendar expert Carl Johan Calleman calls the "Fourth Night" of the Galactic Creation Cycle leading to our self-created chance for spiritual liberation and transformation on Oct. 28, 2011.

It is time to send now, besides the frequency of love that casts out fear, the light that may help lift us out of bozosis, if only until the moment of realization at the climax of the play. Keep singing. Keep Holding Those Frequencies.

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Copyright 2005 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.