Thu Jan 29, 2004 11:19 am - Visions Of Baba Yugga
I am going to recount here merely the various sacred sayings mostly about the murky mysteries of commerce I had heard over some years while a disciple of Baba Yugga, the charismatic financial guru born Artis Buckwhistle of East Peconic Park, New Hampshire. He was a saintly mahatma of business and commercial morals we shall all remember, some with adoration, others with an intense and unquenchable loathing.
Baba Yugga in this black maelstrom of controversy needs to be heard in his own voice, seen as he was, not exhibited like a household icon nor shabbily dismissed as stale, even a minor abomination of ghostly markets before a squalid public equally hungering for new gods and slander of the not entirely impeccable great. I hope my short memoir offers clarity where there is only opacity. Of course there is a superficial value in clear opacity.
I will merely say by way of a preface to these aphorisms that Artis Buckwhistle never had a passion or even a casual partiality for disguise; he merely saw that Africans of a younger age were listening with some hardly negligible credulity to Asian gurus though they had recently come from highly odorous places that were classical hellholes intractable to whatever elevated or even low persuasions these pundits and miracle workers might have been able to mount outside a vast sewer.
Baba Yugga could not achieve the same influence upon the United States as he was; an ordained though unfrocked as it were atheist if once Congregationalist minster. His choice of the name Baba Yugga, his ashrams held in famous midtown hotels, his eccentric dietary tastes centered on spicy crimson sauces for lima beans which he had preached to those who wanted to listen to that sort of piety which were nothing more than variations on a childhood fancy for mastered he had kept from his unknown puerility; at most his notions of ingestion were a very shallow veneer of discourse he had hardly taken seriously himself; he was a man whose honest focus was on the morals of business.
I am simply going to list the remarks I had personally heard Baba Yugga make at various places during his prophetic years touring lecture halls in the heartland of America, often over a cold beet salad in a less than fancy diner in a relaxed hour, offered without comment. The reader can decide himself whether or not after perusing these aphorism, tabletalk and more he chooses to see Baba Yugga as a saint with the guise of a crank or as others say, a charlatan whose partiality for sour scented incense and deep meditation concealed a simple middle class hunger for money. Some may suspect he was both or neither.
Baba Yugga was one beyond language. I am after a lifetime of lies most comfortable with enigmas. Perhaps the reader will make even more sense of these discourses than I have. I should warm him he may be seeing a cartoon instead of a riddle.
I find whenever I visit hotels, restaurants, even private homes of my intimates it is always to my interest, even often my moral pleasure, to take the roll of toilet paper in whatever bathrooms I go to when I am hosted by sundry and diverse folk. I feign some ablution, enter the chamber, close the door softly and with a deft and quick movie deposit it surreptitiously in my pocket.
Of course nobody really misses it. They think merely when they see the empty pace where it should be that it should be replaced; the paper must have somehow run out. With a shrug they unthinkingly put in a new roll and forget a trivial episode to themselves. At the end of a year or less I find I have saved several hundred dollars by never buying a roll of toilet paper at a store myself.
Lamentably at least seven or eight people in visiting my home have heard me say this over brandy and Cuban cigars and have accordingly removed toilet paper from my own bathroom. I would imagine after a while when the sense and spirit of proper frugality comes home to people in America normally one will have to walk off with these rolls constantly all the time whether one is dining on ivory truffles adorned with vintage wines at the Taj Mahal or gobbling down a bolus of tepid mousaka a Greek diner just, as we say in business, to stay even.
Iím not suggesting as some of my former disciples such as Sri Ronkonkomo has asserted that one should expand oneís small and trivial thefts of this occasional nature to as well pocketing silverware, small gewgaws, watches, blank CDs, assorted silver and gold cufflinks and ancient family phonographs.
I know and can prove the estimable Sri Ronkonkomo once tried to walk off with an entire toilet from the home of his cousin climbing out the back window and was arrested by his irate kindred for his intrepidity.
I consider such acts deeds of petty or grand larceny, treachery, contempt for others redolent with a certain hellish moral odium that is at once reprehensible unless we rob others out of revenge, certainly not justifiable for any other reason.
The whole nature of toilet paper I think we would all agree establishes itself in our perceptions as a product nearly worthless, always in itself less than one step away from being utter trash.
There are three levels of marketing in a healthy business: purveying the products most or all people need, offering them trivial or even noxious vaporous gewgaws that one persuades the more credulous among us they might be amused by its very triviality but which they really donít need, and the ultimate one utterly beyond any sales pitch of forcing upon salves a plethora of products clear to an imbecile are either something nobody needs or a fabulous and grotesque odium the world would do better without altogether if nobody had even thought of it much less manufactured it.
In human history all business run by morons or geniuses even in the time of Mu has easily risen to the first level of commerce, America to the second level often; nobody but a few fabled corporate firms in Atlantis had ever achieved the third level. What has happened in sundry marketplaces on other planets or how some bizarre species of a recondite biology much beyond our ken and more might respond to our perhaps idiosyncratic human solicitations in our earthly commerce is not known.
Are there further levels of commercial expansion beyond our vision of the possible altogether that one at present cannot imagine? I donít know. If I did know I wouldnít tell any of you.
After his first weeks of his apostasy Sri Ronkonkomo had advocated the meeting of strange people in desolate places where there were no witnesses, dispatching them, taking their wallets, clothes, even wigs if they had any as well as their socks and shoes, leaving them to be picked up by the police naked and splayed on alien turf in some uncomely manner for these armed hacks to make out a death certificate in triplicate, cursing the cadaver as only our excellent lawmen can because there was nothing on the body to loot.
He attributes his doctrine of ultimate sacred pillage to me as well, Iím afraid. With the coarse zeal and vulgar style for which I once excommunicated him from my ashram, he of all my diverse dissenting disciples would inevitably embrace such ethics. I never was for the killing of anybody even if the crime was incapable of detection nor if one benefited mightily from it. Every corpse even if shriven of life by accident in my view is at bottom a dead customer. Beyond that there is a general unraveling of casual trust in others such felonies inspire that is all too generally lethal for business. There is no reason to believe that Sri Ronkonkomoís draconian edicts will be among his vast army of followers forever confined to a few isolated beaches and dark alley.
I suspect his whole cult of a lust for bellicosity. It is just as we all know just as profitable to kill people in a crowd in daylight if one can do so with impunity. Such things happen commonly in wars and the more barque public executions. Secrecy in theft is unnecessary when it is defined by the state as taxes or taken with brazen force by the police; it is only those without law or strength who perforce have recourse to carron acts of extracting a portable booty from the dead.
The nature of commerce on the other hand is based on trust in the end like a marriage or the indirect action of arthropod infantry in a complex military campaign against its neighbors. One can experience the arcana of commerce in domestic intimacies or on a miniature golf course watching the local antics of its warrior red ants. We must believe that the strangers who sell us their goods will stand behind their produce if it is defective, that customers who enter our stores do so to shop civilly, not to lighten the owner and clerks of their goods and purse. Finance and business is moral in the moot conventional way because it must be ethical to survive at all. That is why it is preferable to the whim of princes and hierophants.
Murder in commerce will expand to more murder in the same markets with a centrifugal ratio of less invulnerability to being arrested for slaying oneís prey, more fear, even panic in ordinary commercial life. Rapine and random slaying is always a deterrent to an optimally free and easy market. A customer who is afraid to leave oneís house for fear of being murdered is no customer at all.
I did say once in a Romanian steak house to Sir Ronkonkomo over an excellent plate of lima beans that if one runs across a corpse in a deserted street one should rifle thorough his pockets if possible and walk off with his clothes and shoes before the police do. I think we would all agree that is a long way from taking up low violence to create that optimal situation of profit. We benefit from the energies of the living as we never do from the stale bounty we snatch from the dead.
The hunt for markets and their infinite expansion to regions beyond the slow indigo plummeting of the Doppler rays has to proceed as I have said many times from those who must have the product through those who might be amused at times by it, to those who not only have no need for it but might very well find themselves in peril of being enslaved or even killed by it.
Clearly there is another level to this centrifugal reaching out toward an optimal clientele in a world of murk, chaos and general inexplicibility. It is easy enough to sell any product at all to somebody who cabot survive without it, one doomed to servitude and death by its absence.
The science of business at its most healthy is the craft of understanding real and perceived desperation. It is why most of us would do well if not to be doctors and pharmacists to invest in their operations when they go finally go corporate after much private success and issue common stocks to finance their operations. One should say the same for lovers, Hindu ghat keepers and grocers. I usually do.
It is much less easy to purvey the same product to one who ha no need for it but regards it as a fashionable lineament to adorn a life in which for cunning or financial reasons they want to appear either as reliable or inevitable in an office or a brothel as shoddy furniture. Ne can rarely sell the same thing to anybody twice. Therefore unless marriage or any political act in a stable society the first sale of anything for buyer and purveyor is the last bit of commerce in it as well.
Yet very clearly some in the United States both in its middle class suburban phases or its supposed slums has been very successful in marketing items of no discernable or even undiscernible value whatsoever to any who have gone into debt or took up crime and personal treachery to buy then. In fact according to a study made by five distantly related chemistry professors in Peoria the entire history of humanity could have lived has they had a time machine to get here on the trash of our devout consumers.
The sheer volume of this garbage, ultimately a parcel of celestial trash if we think of it metaphysically, testifies to the success of American business at selling them goods they never had any use for in the first place. Yet how marvelously effective has that same juggernaut been in reaching out to hermits, recluses, celibates, beekeepers, sewer cleaners, along with those unflambouyant and few philosophers and the few saints among us who value not merely frugality but clasp to their souls the dour harvests of a principled austerity?
We have hired Mexicans to sneak into apartment buildings and flood the floor of these monkish characters with throwaways advertising perpetual nearby clearance sales, exquisite unmentionable pleasures to be had by dropping in on local restaurants for the blue plate specials.
We fill the air itself with placards os that the sky itself is partially obscured by our yawps and siren songs for the rubes to spend their lucre. If they donít watch television we canít inundate their spirits with endless commercials. If they havenít got a radio they arenít barked at by men with brassy carnival voices pitching oils and creams they never heard of and would never need even if they changed their biology entirely and become consumer cyborgs.
Sir Ronkonkomo has told many of his followers that I not he was the original fount in my tabletalk of the habit among his faithful of constant mild undertipping of waiters of both our groups when they were one tax-exempt religious organization: the League of Baba Yugga.
He claims that I always educated occasionally but not always stealing silverware in the same restaurants, pocketing the butter but no more than that. Outside of my causal remarks about toilet paper youíve heard I never said any of the things Sir Ronkonkomo claimed I had intoned in our more arcane sanctorums.
I think in retrospect one never hears the truth about a man outside of the comments of actuaries who never knew him, especially if he is a prophet. I was always much more philosophical than Sri Ronkonkomo has ever admitted. I suspect this comes from his own inability or disinclination to be as elevated as he would like to be.
I have pointed out that the League of Baba Yugga has always been for peace, order, morals, honestly and civility if always for the morally worst of reasons, as we admit freely to our foes. We are for a tranquil and equatable slate because one cannot do business in a war zone; justice and charity keeps the rabble more quiet and ready to buy even what they donít need than tyranny and slaughter.
We are for structure and elegant design, even civilized amusements in a society because it is easer to market to those who are in place, tolerably sated and narrowly precedable in their taste for fashionable and mildly pleasant banalities than those who are not.
We honor morals in our way embracing necessity, not choice; it is always cheaper and more comfortable as well to market to the varieties than to put them with the mad and vicious into prison. We value honesty because the labor of constantly checking the deeds of the dishonest adds immeasurable to our costs. I have always remarked that a society which needs guards is more at once more expensive and more structurally clumsy than one that does not. Virtue pays for even the devil.
Then, who checks the checkers, you might ask, if all or most are lacking most inner constraints and personal honor? Busies cannot thrive without iron character in its shoppers as well as its manufacturers. We aim as well for civility and often achieve it; an unruly mein in an amiable market stirs passions that turn a simple and amiable turn of finance into a raucous theatre of bellicosity.
Where Sri Ronkonkomo and I do differ in our inner philosophy is probably most particularly in ethics and metaphysics. He is for economic war on all high and low levels, from erasing the bank accounts to exterminating the immortal spirit of his antagonists if fortune has made them lucky enough to have any.
I am never for angering anyone. Even a mosquito he may one day be a potential customer. I am one who always loves my enemy; tomorrow he may be one of the infantry that compromises my clientele and make me a guerdon of money.
I have quite a different view of celestial affairs as well as earthly bellicosities and torpor than he does as you might imagine. I see God as the supreme starry banker. At his whim he is merciless and gives us nothing or lends us a generous parcel of mortality, then forecloses on us without formality in his time.
Sri Ronkonkomo thinks of God as a ban name used car salesman. He offers one a painted over ancient vehicle at a hustlerís price, Sri Ronkonkomo says, then knocks one off in apparent accidents as we swerve into ultimate ditches on slippery roads.
You may judge who is the better prophet and visionary.
I was the first pundit in America to affirm that business was based on vapor, capital, nothingness, aery stuff, clandestinely the materials or lack of them of a classical faith system. I was therefore the first to have one of the League of Baba Yugga placed literacy in the concrete foundation of each corporate building in America and over much of the West, employing in its perfumed environs a resident praised, moral counselor and local hierophant presiding over certain hermetic rites idiosyncratic to our sect.
The necessity of keeping our rites secret, the mechanism of representing as a science or even robotics micaceous of some iron substance in what at bottom was nothing but a cult magically making something from nothing, mercurial credit form vapor, gaudy metallic income from ether, even bankruptcy out of a less than nothing that did not existed nor ever could exist even in this improbable Creation, was very much to our purpose and more as you might imagine.
Were our ectoplasmic nature discovered by the populace the entire stock market, the calculus of banks, the imaginary flow of gold, the fantastical and bizarre largesse of a sudden and abrupt liquidated that bought property, gilt whores and fey amusements when one was previously worse off babbling in the gutter like a lout or taking up the low drudgery of a pauper would have been all too visible to all.
That uncouth revelation of our esoteric necromantic nature would have been the end of the seemingly manifest economy of the world. Some wags and skeptics might say and have in fact said that would be no loss. They must have a taste for tepid mangos and coconuts they could cut down from the local palm trees with dull flint knives.
Our little chapels in each corporation were hidden at the bottom of their cellars, only available by repairing to a secret elevator hidden beyond a clandestine wall, only entered by a vermillion plastic card, voicing a guttural password in Babylonian and turning a coded green key.
Within these lavishly carpeted and baroquely gilded haunts stuffed with a clutter of iconry and shiny metal we celebrated the thaumaturgic rites of passage of our Holy Mondays when the employees went to work, the birthdays of Jay Gould and Charles Ponzi, the prophetic tabletalk of peripatetics like the fiercely epigrammatical Horace McNamara, whom some skeptics claim falsely was purely a creature of credulous gnostical apocrypha.
Sri Ronkonkomo had claimed in his cups many times that I had been quietly dispatching the frugal and saintly in our country for years by direct and indirect mechanisms at all times. No stranger to easy slander, he had said over many a copious dram washed down with his favorite dark ale that those with a taste for asperity I didnít murder I had stilled in diverse ways by tethering them with a subtle need for cars, credit cards, plumbing and communication by phone with people they were quite successfully otherwise avoiding.
This of course is rank and naked persiflage. I am not responsible for any of the follies and excesses of affluence, her or among the farflung life systems of any remote star. Among what the banal call a choice of evils we would all agree beyond the ancient musings of a Hebrew prophet or two that to be rich is on of the least venomous of all vices.
What is in fact the alternative to the business world that any dissenters of his rank sort offer us? What do they want to do with the direction of our spaces as we amble into the close midnight of the future? Would they prefer to be living udder some bankrupt commune where all sit in a hole in the ground in state of profound terminal torpor? I think they are not ambitious in destruction as others are in healing of our pare-capitalist misery.
Would they bring back the Dark Ages and the invasion of sundry Goths? Have they got plans to take up the same folly and misery of poverty and lack of hygiene on the moon or on Mars?
You have all quite civilly asked me about the celebrated and mysteriously sinister denouement of my sacred conflict with Sri Ronkonkomo on Jay Gouldís birthday. Both the ultimate destruction if one could call it that of Sri Ronkonkomo and my own subsequent exile from the business world and the United States as well as the police and Justice system looked for me from Alaska to the Everglades to hold me responsible for his apparently earthly dispatch. It had been an amply fit peroration to a remarkable day holy for both of us in the extreme.
Itís not of course as if Sri Ronkonkomo was killed like an errant dog or cockroach with his noxious sect of dissenters and blasphemers or was ritually eliminated in a popular and gaudy way by some flamboyantly bloody public execution; we donít have any such intolerably crass ways and in our view metaphysically unredemptive notions of martyrdom in our religion.
Far from it, we are devotees of prophets who have lived into their centenary years half senile yet shot full of elixirs by Swiss doctors, chamber lakes within of artificial ooze from indigo chemicals that are either nameless or well beyond longing to crystalled extracts of Ceylonese monkey glands such as these silken creatures have on the sides of their exquisitely curved necks.
Our saints are never sacrificed to anything or anybody. They are pure souls of egoism and high solarity. We inject ourselves with puissant decoctions that allow us to simulate for a few hours like materialist zealots the fevers of youth, not because we value puerility which in the end is one more mortal madness but from our high knowledge that the young are the most expensive people in the world beyond princes and bishops, unrepentant ravings buyers of diverse provender of the most bizarre and useless ilk purveyed in the most posh or sordid markets.
Once a veritable legion ruled in the Assyrian manner by brainless ruling hungers that one day as patriotic humans we hope will rule in ourselves and without as well either benignly or by force over our future unborn or any other species tainted by such fevers over the knowable universe.
We try on Earth in this savage time with our cosmetics to look as if we are twenty no matter how grotesque we may appear while doing so, emulate the ravenous commands of our already fatigued and collapsed clandestine glands to paces and devour all and everything; we are all aging acolytes to finance in our region if not in our flesh after twenty.
It is our tragedy as opaque dominos of piety that beyond our middle age we are hardly able to consume and spend as we once did, yet we are cognitively conscious of our loss in a most exquisite way. As much as many belief systems before us had revered those who have died most picturesquely for some faith or other, we only the very different spirits who have wallowed and reveled in carnality at its most fearsomely and prodigiously feral.
What could have happened among two high priests of faiths dedicated to affluence? Did any of you expect a duel with scimitars as if one or both of us were Douglas Fairbanks? Were you addicted to films to the point where you had expected us to wrestle to the death on a parapet somewhere high above the skyline of New York, our silhouettes bathed in a battery of garish and radiant lights?
Unfortunately for me and perhaps for himself Sir Ronkonkomo no more dead than I am. He is living in Monaco, a habituť of the local plush casinos. I am only occasionally in the United States to oversee the League of Baba Yugga; otherwise I am in often to be seen if in dosages in most of the carnivals of the world and in clandestine six star resort hotels not far from my rather palatial digs in Southern Tasmania.
Sri Ronkonkomo directs his domains from time to time from Europe via gilt messengers the world thinks are starlets or the usual courtesans that gather all too classically around the gilt marquis of high finance. I prefer an intimate approach to running our faith; I like most times to speak directly with my subordinates such as you.
If I show up in your digs looking like a postman, a deliverer of take out pizza or a presenter of legal subpoenas invisibility when one is what I am is more effective a protective resource than an army of brazen pistoled guards. In each case my superficial guise is real enough. I often bring my lackeys real pizza. Sometimes at my whim it is or is not laden with mushrooms and even pepperoni.
In any event, the climax of our blended war and colloquy was worthy of our belief system shared by us in a large and caraways way one does honor any faith if of course we quailed mightily in all or at least most of the detail of our common religion.
However I will describe pithily the details of our final dogleg as it were. The matter is simple enough. Sri Ronkonkomo had been studying the Viatica as a hoary model for how to run a religion as a business. Unlike them he never mentioned martyrs, missionaries or sacred conversions; like them he had dabbled awhile in real estate, had set up a bank and ran all his cushy loan operations out of his banking offices to finance the very loyalist whit Swiss accents who were running his own holy sites in the cellars of their corporative offices.
He had expected me to do as much or had assumed I had already done it.
As you will see I understood veer well the short term clout of such movers at once stimulating oneís equity and ambition but also creating a terminal weakness deep in his faith system. One does not do such magic and alchemy unless one is very desperate when running a religion given any chance for a board of directors to monitor or change oneís policies. It Ďs more suitable to a shoe business than a religion.
As you may have guessed from your own crafts of commerce, Sri Ronkonkomo had made the deep mistake of issuing common stocks in a holding company surreptitiously owning his dissenting cult, then promoted preferential inside trading option at sweetheart prices to his loyalists thinking that nobody in the game would find his operation behind Korean financiers and the maze of worldwide financial opacity his gannets and financiers had devised to protect him as if he were like God himself beyond any attributes.
As he discovered to his subsequent consternation he w neither a god nor even much of a clever financier. My own agents along with others, mostly banks in Berlin and Malaysia, had of course spotted the flow of money to his coffers; we all didnít have to work all that long or hard to determine what his system of expanding his equity in a supposed pitch darkness of midnight money might be.
Through the most improbable middlemen including those Berlin pundits and Malaysian operators we silently bought up his region; one afternoon in a lightning move, ritually taking up our hostile coup on Jay Gouldís birthday my covert lackeys along with the Berliners and Malaysians fired him.
I was at the end cerement personally of course if in an excellent disguise. Posing as a deliver not of souls but of pizza, I handed him a slice with a grin. It had plenty of pepperoni and mushrooms on it I can assure you.
Sir Ronkonkomo left town and the country the next morning, the police and Justice System on the orders of his posh servants looked for me as his slayer to trump up criminal charges against me; I was unavailable in Tasmania to be interviewed by any of these hacks and slaves much less arrested and arraigned by any of them. That is in prťcis the story.
Sri Ronkonkomoís faith is now merged whit mine as it always should have been. What had we really disagreed about in large matters? We both had understood that when reason, interest, sanity and even perversity had failed humanity, which was often enough, they could still be redeemed by business.
We are now the only faith snugly housed in the subcellars and below of every corporate enterprise in America outside of a few intractable Korean convenience stores to bring its employees from the latrine workers to the CEO who have been venomed by classical human misery.
Such celestial woe sorrily is incurable even by our religion or any pharmacy. I am an honest prophet; I cannot lie to my adherents about the impeccable paradise we have left for an intermezzo in Pandemonium or the mild and insectless Eden imminently waiting for us.
We are masters of our own torment; we grow out of terrible pain, not pleasure. We are adults foaled from a world of blood, not a paradise replete with luscious low hanging papayas and crisply green coconuts. We can only advance as another citadel within our spirit the kind of subtle and elevated faith in our cloven and suffering hearts when we rise from our private lake of ashes daily.
We are the ardent pilgrims to the mildly poisoned market we will all find somewhere on this sanguine theatre on Earth or in snug in the black folds of space, a small shaded bazaar among the alabaster waste of infinite stars which the verdant vapor of capitalism and a healthy and benign business community deserves.
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