Coyote Kings and the Cost of Civilization
The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust is a complex work of fiction, from which it is difficult to pull a single unifying thread. Philosophical, historical, literary, political, and pop cultural references abound, such that it offers a connection point for many different audiences, while at the same time potentially losing others in the sheer volume of proprietary information – that is, exclusive to certain academic or cultural spheres.
For this, any attempt to “close read” a small sample of such a dense work risks overlooking just how many themes Faust is tackling – from the importance of brotherhood (specifically intimate male-male bonding without the false-necessity of homosexuality and subsequent stigmatization), to the little-discussed political motives of crack-cocaine distribution.
Minister Faust also evokes the parallel between the destroyer impulse and the advance of civilization – the latter usually attributed to mankind’s collective creativity. It is this theme that I will explore, through the lens of Heinz Meaney, one of Coyote Kings’ primary antagonists.
The World Man whose skull becomes sky and whose bones become mountains after he is murdered by his children – the Green Man whose body is seed becoming spring growth and summer harvest after assassination at the hands of his brother – the Sacrifice Man made of flesh but who is a woodworker nailed directly onto wood (as if the ancient code makers could not have been more clear) and whose followers wear a model of the device that murdered Him like a talisman (only incomprehensible if one neglects the core revelation) – is the earth-god who must die so that Its children may live upon Its flesh… [p. 530]
Meaney is a man who seeks the power to dominate and devour the rest of mankind to stand at what he projects to be the pinnacle of human evolution. To that end he destroys lives – through murder, manipulation, theft, deceit, even literally cannibalizing others. The “core revelation” of which he speaks is that it is through the lens of the “grotesque” that humans can truly understand the driving force behind both civilization and human evolution. Not just the pain of initiation into any number of social groups or status echelons, but how great advancement for the one has often come at the literal “sacrifice” of an other. He offers the alternate interpretation of the story of Cain and Abel, suggesting that Cain was in fact rewarded for his sacrifice of his brother, as from Cain sprouted civilization – again regarded as the gauge of human evolution.
Truly it is a strange – indeed grotesque – practice for Christians to wear the symbol of their savior’s destruction, under the pretext that it was through his suffering that mankind was redeemed from Original Sin. It is ironic, too, that Christians have often turned their noses up or pointed accusatory fingers down at faiths which practice animal and human sacrifice, while celebrating the sacrifice of their own religion’s central figure. Their hypocrisy is enabled by the purely bogus distinction between “sacrifice” and “martyrdom”.
In casting Heinz as a rather detestable antagonist, Minister Faust seems to be suggesting that we look at civilization in a different light. That perhaps we should look at it not so much for the boons it has granted humankind, but with respect to the oft-forgotten sacrifices – of human labor, flesh, and spirit – which make up its foundation.
Heinz speaks of the advances in medicine founded upon the sacrifice of animals and says that we are not likely to discard them on account of the millions of human lives they have saved. He also mentions discoveries made through torture in Japan and China, and mass murder in the Jewish holocaust.
I was reminded of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, wherein she lays out in explicit detail the shock treatment practices of torturer-psychologists, which were intended to unmake the victim and make his mind fertile for new suggestion. Klein draws a parallel between the shock treatment of individuals and the shock tactics employed against entire nations, the latter of which – not so coincidentally – often directly incorporated the former. The series of military coups in South America in the 1960s and 1970s, in which countless dissenters were executed, created such a “shock” to the public consciousness that they were less resistant to sweeping economic changes from a socialist model to a neoliberal one.
The events of September 11, 2001 in the United States, and the rush to build anew in New Orleans and Iraq, in the aftermath of natural disasters and man-made destruction respectively, offer more contemporary examples of how “advancement” has been predicated upon enormous sacrifice. Not one’s own willing sacrifice for the good of others, which we call altruism, but the more predatory sacrifice of another for one’s own gain. We call that parasitism.
Meaney extrapolates his central thesis of sacrifice to what may seem to be an absurd extreme – specifically, the need for the children of the earth-god (humanity) to devour that god (our world) in order to reach the next stage of evolution. But is it truly any different from or less extreme than the real-world myopia and immediate gratification motives of neoliberalism and the industrial complexes that ravage the planet in its name?
It was interesting to me that Minister Faust also drew a distinction between the “agro-sedentary pastoral” epoch, in which women and goddesses were the seat of power, and the “technomobile”, “urbanized”, “modern” period, built upon the primacy of men and male gods. The shift from the more egalitarian agrarian societies of antiquity to the more contemporary selfish capitalistic societies of today is itself a result of what Meaney calls the “phallic imperative”. Our modern civilization’s destroyer impulse is often referred to as the “rape” of the planet, a term that may seem like hyperbole in common discourse, but becomes poignant within the broader context of the epochal shift.
Heinz Meaney’s implication is that our final advancement as human beings will be predicated upon the annihilation of the world itself. Minister Faust seems to be suggesting we look at our “highly advanced” civilization for what it is – violent, invasive, and ultimately destructive for both those who have been and will continue to be sacrificed, and the sacrificer as well. Meaney, after all, meets an explosive end on the wrong side of a shotgun. Food for thought, perhaps, for other parasites and cannibals.