Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - Author’s Note

“The next one,” the manager said, again motioning for him to continue walking, “is at Thanksgiving. We’ll be sending workers back to their residences-of-origin for that, for two days. Then back here again until Christmas. So you’ll see them again. If they haven’t been transferred to other facilities. That’s three months. But you’re not supposed to make any one-to-one relationships here at New-Path—didn’t they tell you that? You’re supposed to relate only to the family as a whole.”

“I understand that,” Bruce said. “They had us memorize that as part of the New-Path Creed.” He peered around and said, “Can I have a drink of water?”

“We’ll show you the water source here. You’ve got one in your cabin, but there’s a public one for the whole family here.” He led Bruce toward one of the prefab cabins. “These farm facilities are closed, because we’ve got experimental and hybrid crops and we want to keep insect infestation out. People come in here, even staff, track in pests on their clothes, shoes, and hair.” He selected a cabin at random. “Yours is 4-G,” he decided. “Can you remember it?”

“They look alike,” Bruce said.

“You can nail up some object by which to recognize it, this cabin. That you can easily remember. Something with color in it.” He pushed open the cabin door; hot stinking air blew out at them. “I think we’ll put you in with the artichokes first,” he ruminated. “You’ll have to wear gloves—they’ve got stickers.”

“Artichokes,” Bruce said.

“Hell, we’ve got mushrooms here too. Experimental mushroom farms, sealed in, of course—and domestic mushroom growers need to seal in their yield—to keep pathogenic spores from drifting in and contaminating the beds. Fungus spores, of course, are airborne. That’s a hazard to all mushroom growers.”

“Mushrooms,” Bruce said, entering the dark, hot cabin. The manager watched him enter.

“Yes, Bruce,” he said.

“Yes, Bruce,” Bruce said.

“Bruce,” the manager said. “Wake up.”

He nodded, standing in the stale gloom of the cabin, still holding his suitcase. “Okay,” he said.

They nod off as soon as it’s dark, the manager said to himself. Like chickens.

A vegetable among vegetables, he thought. Fungus among fungus. Take your pick.

He yanked on the overhead electric light of the cabin, and then began to show Bruce how to operate it. Bruce did not appear to care; he had caught a glimpse of the mountains now, and stood gazing at them fixedly, aware of them for the first time.

“Mountains, Bruce, mountains,” the manager said.

“Mountains, Bruce, mountains,” Bruce said, and gazed.

“Echolalia, Bruce, echolalia,” the manager said.

“Echolalia, Bruce—”

“Okay, Bruce,” the manager said, and shut the cabin door behind him, thinking, I believe I’ll put him among the carrots. Or beets. Something simple. Something that won’t puzzle him.

And another vegetable in the other cot, there. To keep him company. They can nod their lives away together, in unison. Rows of them. Whole acres.

They faced him toward the field, and he saw the corn, like ragged projections. He thought, Garbage growing. They run a garbage farm.

He bent down and saw growing near the ground a small flower, blue. Many of them in short tinkly tinkly stalks. Like stubble. Chaff.

A lot of them, he saw now that he could get his face close enough to make them out. Fields, within the taller rows of corn. Here concealed within, as many farmers planted: one crop inside another, like concentric rings. As, he remembered, the farmers in Mexico plant their marijuana plantations: circled—ringed—by tall plants, so the federales won’t spot them by jeep. But then they’re spotted from the air.

And the federales, when they locate such a pot plantation down there—they machine-gun the farmer, his wife, their children, even the animals. And then drive off. And their copter search continues, backed by the jeeps.

Such lovely little blue flowers.

“You’re seeing the flower of the future,” Donald, the Executive Director of New-Path, said. “But not for you.”

“Why not for me?” Bruce said.

“You’ve had too much of a good thing already,” the Executive Director said. He chuckled. “So get up and stop worshipping—this isn’t your god any more, your idol, although it was once. A transcendent vision, is that what you see growing here? You look as if it is.” He tapped Bruce firmly on the shoulder, and then, reaching down his hand, he cut the sight off from the frozen eyes.

“Gone,” Bruce said. “Flowers of spring gone.”

“No, you simply can’t see them. That’s a philosophical problem you wouldn’t comprehend. Epistemology—the theory of knowledge.”

Bruce saw only the flat of Donald’s hand barring the light, and he stared at it a thousand years. It locked; it had locked; it will lock for him, lock forever for dead eyes outside time, eyes that could not look away and a hand that would not move away. Time ceased as the eyes gazed and the universe jelled along with him, at least for him, froze over with him and his understanding, as its inertness became complete. There was nothing he did not know; there was nothing left to happen.

“Back to work, Bruce,” Donald, the Executive Director, said.

“I saw,” Bruce said. He thought, I knew. That was it: I saw Substance D growing. I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself, in one blue field, in stubbled color.

The farm-facility manager and Donald Abrahams glanced at each other and then down at the kneeling figure, the kneeling man and the Mors ontologica planted everywhere, within the concealing corn.

“Back to work, Bruce,” the kneeling man said then, and rose to his feet.

Donald and the farm-facility manager strolled off toward their parked Lincoln. Talking together; he watched—without turning, without being able to turn—them depart.

Stooping down, Bruce picked one of the stubbled blue plants, then placed it in his right shoe, slipping it down out of sight. A present for my friends, he thought, and looked forward inside his mind, where no one could see, to Thanksgiving.

Author’s Note

This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed—run over, maimed, destroyed—but they continued to play anyhow. We really all were very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief: even when we could see it, we could not believe it. For example, while I was writing this I learned that the person on whom the character Jerry Fabin is based killed himself. My friend on whom I based the character Ernie Luckman died before I began the novel. For a while I myself was one of these children playing in the street; I was, like the rest of them, trying to play instead of being grown up, and I was punished. I am on the list below, which is a list of those to whom this novel is dedicated, and what became of each.

Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgment. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error, a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is “Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying,” but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of the ordinary human existence. It is not different from your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place in days or weeks or months instead of years. “Take the cash and let the credit go,” as Villon said in 1460. But that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit a whole lifetime.

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