GW Recaps–Dead For Now: Chapter Six, Seven, Eight
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Next: Nine, Ten, Eleven
Chapter Six Unknown Known: Michael Hastings
I ran across Hastings by accident. Usually I keep up with journalists like Hastings, but I hadn’t heard of him before reading about his mysterious death. Although journalists sometimes come out badly in public opinion, I admire independent journalists and whistleblowers. As happens with these stories, there is always a story the person is said to be working on before they are killed. And as always, attacks upon the person after death insisting that the person was out of control, etc. etc. http://nymag.com/news/features/michael-hastings-2013-11/
The someone who wants to speak with Gabriel is Zest. He warns Gabriel that he’s in danger. Gabriel already has figured out who from. Zest says he’s going to try to stop Clement, and that Gabriel should call him immediately if anything happens.
A story from Carl Mankiewitz on Tom Paine, and Gabriel’s acting as Paine’s spokesperson. Paine has inspired the RIP (Revelation Interpretation Provocation) street movement, who are starting protests in various cities demanding truth from government based upon Paine’s revelations.
After that, Gabriel figures he needs to take cover. He sees that his friends are taking precautions, and he is planning to hide himself. First, he and Veronica take care of some tasks for securing the office, and Gabriel makes a key from the mold he created. It’s Halloween, and regular people are enjoying the annual parade in the Village.
However, some people have come for Gabriel and Veronica. They prepare themselves as the intruders break into the office. A fight ensues and Veronica is shot. Gabriel struggles and fights them off long enough to call Zest. Zest is on his way over. Gabriel is finally overcome by the attackers who drag him outside to a van. For a brief moment he breaks away, but they jab him with a syringe full of dope and he’s out.
Joel comes by the building and is stunned by the damage from the fight. Zest finds him, and takes him to where he has Veronica safely stashed. Together they get Veronica back to his loft, where Geneva waits. Zest explains that Clement has abducted Gabriel. He will take care of the mess at the office to avoid undue attention from authorities, and he will find Gabriel.
Thoughts: I happen to love the Maneko-neki cat, and it’s raised paw reminded me of a fist raised in protest. The sign is on the back cover of the printed book. I have it below as well.
Gabriel’s abduction is what the whole book has been leading to at this point, and everything changes now. Gabriel has truly become part of a conspiracy as much as any unknown known.
PART TWO–Diyu Diyu is the realm of the dead in Chinese theology.
Chapter Seven Unknown Known: Frank Olsen
Olsen’s story is the classic CIA misstep, and one that symbolizes the wrongful MK-ULTRA experiments gone wild. It’s one of the few where the government actually had to admit wrongdoing.
Some other place. Gabriel regains consciousness but has little idea where he is. He’s drugged and confused, and the blank-masked figure who approaches him makes his mind spin. Gabriel tries to defend himself, but he’s weakened. Then horrifyingly, the man has Gabriel put into a heavy plastic box. Gabriel panics, and then tries to kick his way out. The captors dump cold water on him, and the masked man tells him he needs to listen.
From there, Gabriel loses time. He worries about Joel, he tries to keep himself calm with mental exercises. He is repeatedly drugged. He finds comfort by figuring out he’s in the country somewhere, and by the appearance of an owl in his window–the only non-malevolent being he sees.
Carl Mankiewitz runs a story on Gabriel’s disappearance. We aren’t sure when this is, but Mankiewitz is very worried as no one is commenting on where Gabriel is.
Gabriel is subjected to more mental torture, including a pulsating yellow screen and being put back into the plastic box. He realizes that Clement is the one holding him there. Clement says Gabriel must help him. He then has Gabriel taken to another masked man, who acts as an interrogator/torturer. He beats Gabriel, gives him electric shocks, and finally hauls Gabriel up by his arms in what’s called strappado.
Clement orders the torture to stop. He tries to comfort Gabriel. Gabriel is repulsed by this. He tries to go along with Clement’s ministrations, and after another session with the muscled torturer, tries to kill himself by slamming his head against a wall. When Clement stops this, Gabriel allows him to think he’s giving in. And then Gabriel sees and hears the owl tell him (in Veronica’s voice) to do what he can to survive.
Clement changes the torture to more direct mental machinations, hooking Gabriel up to a machine. To Clement’s invention, Cognoscenti.
Chapter Eight Unknown Known: Oscar Romero
I’ve long had an interest in the strange goings-on in Central and South America in the Seventies and Eighties, a time of the Contras and Colonia Dignidad. Romero was brave in demanding that the military stop attacking its citizens, and the shocking act of assassinating a priest should have led to something to help the people of El Salvador. But the crimes against humanity continued.
Gabriel is subjected to hypnosis and Clement demands to know information about him. Gabriel resists, but he begins having hallucinations. He sees Dominic in the Herald-Standard library. He sees Joel talk about a painting. His reaction to this gives the information that he is not out for revenge, but wants to act as a protector.
Gabriel starts to pick up that the hallucinations are not real, and he is sedated. When he wakes, he realizes Clement has been somewhat successful. He sees the owl, who he calls V. V tells him that that he should take his father’s advice and become another person. To be Ryan, a person based upon Gabriel’s middle name.
Gabriel is hypnotized again, and sees a terrifying demon. He sees a vision of Joel again, and then his mother, asking him about Zach Mesereau. He realizes he again is seeing fakes. In his mind, V tells him to give them false information. The information seems to please Clement.
The mental hypnosis/torture continues to the point where Gabriel fully listens to V, and hides himself inside a mental library, allowing “Ryan” to take over.
Clement continues to be pleased with results, including Gabriel becoming Ryan and losing his old identity. His protege, Encausse, arrives at the house. Clement takes him to see Ryan and introduce him to Ryan. Encausse takes Ryan’s hand: “My name is Alex Barclay. A pleasure to meet you.”
Between the Pages:
- First, on torture. I keeping thinking back to Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to torture one’s protagonists. I feel bad for what Gabriel goes through at times–but I have limits as to what will happen to him.
- And betrayal. Alex turns out to be very different from who he was in The Hanged Man.
Beyond the Pages:
- Strappado is explained here. As Gabriel mentioned, Girolamo Savonarola was subjected to this. I’m fascinated by Savonarola and those Di Medici times in Florence. An excellent book is Fire in the City, by Lauro Martines.
- In terms of what has happened to Gabriel mentally, a book I consulted in part is the classic The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”: The CIA and Mind Control.
Question for Readers:
If someone had told Gabriel, prior to the events in these stories, that he would lose his mind, lose himself, he would have laughed in their face and refused to consider this could ever happen. But it did–although his mind has fought hard to save itself. How easy or difficult do you think it would be for you to be brainwashed? What would it take?
One song that captures the feeling of what’s going on in Gabriel’s mind is Black Flag’s Damaged. Read more about singer, musician, poet, writer Henry Rollins, who is a strong LGBTQ+ advocate.
I, I don’t even care about self-destruction anymore
What’s the use?
I just sit at home alone
Another one: Pink Floyd, Brain Damage
You raise the blade, you make the change/You rearrange me ’til I’m sane
You lock the door/And throw away the key
There’s someone in my head but it’s not me
Copyright 2016 Alex Fiano
Page updated 3/9/2018