Frown Strong / A Conversation with Merlin. Rainbow Bridge, San Francisco, 1974. $2.25.


The author refuses to be named and, it is noted on the back cover, he will never answer any questions about this book.

It reads polished and exact for me, and still keeps a kind of proper informality that makes the dialogue sound right to my ear.

“Student: Will you tell me the mystery of the pyramid?

Frown Strong: You ask much.

Student: But Sir, I must be able to learn.

Frown Strong: The PYR-AMID was in very ancient times a machine which would today be termed an atomic furnace, except that the atomic furnace of today would be a toy compared to what the pyramids were. Their functions were many, but in the first place were needed to create a certain kind of atmosphere necessary at the time. Its working concerned the passing of silicon mirrors of sun energy by refraction through certain crystals obtained from dead bodies which were capped with copper. There was also a certain kind of fertilization of the result of this by starlight. But at this stage it is enough that has been told to you.

Student: That is very much indeed.

Frown Strong: It is necessary to forget these matters and stay to your development. This was only told to you that you may cease to day-dream and mystery dream instead. The day-dream will turn against you. The mystery will keep you from student madness.”

Frown is just one of the many nicknames Merlin uses in the book. It is aptly chosen for the title as the book tends to sternly rap the knuckles of the entire human race.

“Agla: I have the meaning that you are instructing me in, and would like to know this: is the present state of affairs amongst humans their natural evolvement? Not concerning living; but concerning their numbers, there are so many?

“Tior: Yes and No. The numbers are because of several reasons. One is that everything is making a return to the planet by collecting various kinds of force, which the planet extracts from everything, and it is balanced. Now when man started to slaughter the animals, and the great herds became extinct, nature was forced to produce humans to do the job that the animals had done in the said collection and return. This meant a lowering and coarsening of the human. But if the planet was to survive, there was no choice. It is interesting how humans are often referred to as dogs, wolves, sheep: and even more remorsefully, it is interesting that when one considers clubs, such as the Elephant Club, it almost looks as though the number of people are drawn together to make the return of the elephant. Another reason is this: that as the level of quality of return of each person became weaker, owing to degeneration of the human race, so nature was forced to cause the birthrate to be increased. Now there are other reasons why the multitude, but we will consider those at another time. . . .

“You are like everyone else at your level of existence — most aggressive — and we say this to you concerning your gentlest moments. The rest of the time your aggressiveness turns into a shrieking, tearing harshness. . . .

“Really the vapors of your habits are most strong and sometimes prevent us [Merlin and his friends, I assume] from living with you.”

The book demands our perfection. It offers no defense of our present behavior and seems to say that survival is indeed possible without all this aggressive earthly grossness.

This morning I plowed another garden. I use a 12 horsepower Gravely tractor which is one of the most beautiful machines I have ever known. I shudder at the thought but in terms of this little book my raging red machine cannot be justified in any way. How can I be so wrong?