was captured by Chetniks, royalist Serbian partisans, and then by
Communist partisans who attacked the Chetniks. He was liberated by
Italian parachutists who surprised the Communists, and he was
shipped to Italy.
The Italians put him to work designing fortifications for
Sicily. He stole a fishing boat in Sicily, and reached neutral
While there, he met an American draft dodger named Julian
Castle, upon learning that Aamons was an architect, invited
him to come with him to the island of San Lorenzo and to design
for him a hospital to be called the House of Hope and Mercy in the
Aamons accepted. He designed the hospital, married a native
woman named Celia, fathered a perfect daughter, and died.
Never Index Your Own Book 55
As for the life of _Aamons, Mona_, the index itself gave a
jangling, surrealistic picture of the many conflicting forces that
had been brought to bear on her and of her dismayed reactions to
"_Aamons, Mona:_" the index said, "adopted by Monzano in
order to boost Monzano's popularity, 194-199, 216a.; childhood in
compound of House of Hope and Mercy, 63-81; childhood romance with
P. Castle, 72f; death of father, 89ff; death of mother, 92f;
embarrassed by role as national erotic symbol, 80, 95f, 166n.,
209, 247n., 400-406, 566n., 678; engaged to P. Castle, 193;
essential naïveté, 67-71, 80, 95f, 116a., 209, 274n., 400-406,
566a., 678; lives with Bokonon, 92-98, 196-197; poems about, 2n.,
26, 114, 119, 311, 316, 477n., 501, 507, 555n., 689, 718ff, 799ff,
800n., 841, 846ff, 908n., 971, 974; poems by, 89, 92, 193; returns
to Monzano, 199; returns to Bokonon, 197; runs away from Bokonon,
199; runs away from Moazano, 197; tries to make self ugly in order
to stop being erotic symbol to islanders, 89, 95f, 116n., 209,
247n., 400-406, 566n., 678; tutored by Bokonon, 63-80; writes
letter to United Nations, 200; xylophone virtuoso, 71."
I showed this index entry to the Mintons, asking them if they
didn't think it was an enchanting biography in itself, a biography
of a reluctant goddess of love. I got an unexpectedly expert
answer, as one does in life sometimes. It appeared that Claire
Minton, in her time, had been a professional indexer. I had never
heard of such a profession before.
She told me that she had put her husband through college
years before with her earnings as an indexer, that the earnings
had been good, and that few people could index well.
She said that indexing was a thing that only the most
amateurish author undertook to do for his own book. I asked her
what she thought of Philip Castle's job.
"Flattering to the author, insulting to the reader," she
said. "In a hyphenated word," she observed, with the shrewd
amiability of an expert, " '_self-indulgent_.' I'm always
embarrassed when I see an index an author has made of his own
"It's a revealing thing, an author's index of his own work,"
she informed me. "It's a shameless exhibition--to the _trained_
"She can read character from an index," said her husband.
"Oh?" I said. "What can you tell about Philip Castle?"
She smiled faintly. "Things I'd better not tell strangers."
"He's obviously in love with this Mona Aamons Monzano," she
"That's true of every man in San Lorenzo I gather."
"He has mixed feelings about his father," she said.
"That's true of every man on earth." I egged her on gently.
"What mortal isn't?" I demanded. I didn't know it then, but
that was a very Bokononist thing to demand.
"He'll never marry her."
"I've said all I'm going to say," she said.
"I'm gratified to meet an indexer who respects the privacy of
"Never index your own book," she stated.
A _duprass_, Bokonon tells us, is a valuable instrument for
gaining and developing, in the privacy of an interminable love
affair, insights that are queer but true. The Mintons' cunning
exploration of indexes was surely a case in point. A _duprass_,
Bokonon tells us, is also a sweetly conceited establishment. The
Mintons' establishment was no exception.
Sometime later, Ambassador Minton and I met in the aisle of
the airplane, away from his wife, and he showed that it was
important to him that I respect what his wife could find out from
"You know why Castle will never marry the girl, even though
he loves her, even though she loves him, even though they grew up
together?" he whispered.
"No, sir, I don't."
"Because he's a homosexual," whispered Minton. "She can tell
that from an index, too."
A Self-supporting Squirrel Cage 56
When Lionel Boyd Johnson and Corporal Earl McCabe were washed
up naked onto the shore of San Lorenzo, I read, they were greeted
by persons far worse off than they. The people of San Lorenzo had
nothing but diseases, which they were at a loss to treat or even
name. By contrast, Johnson and McCabe had the glittering treasures
of literacy, ambition, curiosity, gall, irreverence, health,
humor, and considerable information about the outside world.
From the "Calypsos" again:
Oh, a very sorry people, yes,
Did I find here.
Oh, they had no music,
And they had no beer.
And, oh, everywhere
Where they tried to perch
Belonged to Castle Sugar, Incorporated,
Or the Catholic church.
This statement of the property situation in San Lorenzo in
1922 is entirely accurate, according to Philip Castle. Castle
Sugar was founded, as it happened, by Philip Castle's great-
grandfather. In 1922, it owned every piece of arable land on the
"Castle Sugar's San Lorenzo operations," wrote young Castle,
"never showed a profit. But, by paying laborers nothing for their
labor, the company managed to break even year after year, making
just enough money to pay the salaries of the workers' tormentors.
"The form of government was anarchy, save in limited
situations wherein Castle Sugar wanted to own something or to get
something done. In such situations the form or government was
feudalism. The nobility was composed of Castle Sugar's plantation
bosses, who were heavily armed white men from the outside world.
The knighthood was composed of big natives who, for small gifts
and silly privileges, would kill or wound or torture on command.
The spiritual needs of the people caught in this demoniacal
squirrel cage were taken care of by a handful of butterball
"The San Lorenzo Cathedral, dynamited in 1923, was generally
regarded as one of the man-made wonders of the New World," wrote
The Queasy Dream 51
That Corporal McCabe and Johnson were able to take command of
San Lorenzo was not a miracle in any sense. Many people had taken
over San Lorenzo--had invariably found it lightly held. The reason
was simple: God, in His Infinite Wisdom, had made the island
Hernando Cortes was the first man to have his sterile
conquest of San Lorenzo recorded on paper. Cortes and his men came
ashore for fresh water in 1519, named the island, claimed it for
Emperor Charles the Fifth, and never returned. Subsequent
expeditions came for gold and diamonds and rubies and spices,
found none, burned a few natives for entertainment and heresy, and
"When France claimed San Lorenzo in 1682," wrote Castle, "no
Spaniards complained. When Denmark claimed San Lorenzo in 1699, no
Frenchmen complained. When the Dutch claimed San Lorenzo in 1704,
no Danes complained. When England claimed San Lorenzo in 1706, no
Dutchmen complained. When Spain reclaimed San Lorenzo in 1720, no
Englishmen complained. When, in 1786, African Negroes took command
of a British slave ship, ran it ashore on San Lorenzo, and
proclaimed San Lorenzo an independent nation, an empire with an
emperor, in fact, no Spaniards complained.
"The emperor was Tum-bumwa, the only person who ever regarded
the island as being worth defending. A maniac, Tum-bumwa caused to
be erected the San Lorenzo Cathedral and the fantastic
fortifications on the north shore of the island, fortifications
within which the private residence of the so-called President of
the Republic now stands.
"The fortifications have never been attacked, nor has any
sane man ever proposed any reason why they should be attacked.
They have never defended anything. Fourteen hundred persons are
said to have died while building them. Of these fourteen hundred,
about half are said to have been executed in public for
Castle Sugar came into San Lorenzo in 1916, during the sugar
boom of the First World War. There was no government at all. The
company imagined that even the clay and gravel fields of San
Lorenzo could be tilled profitably, with the price of sugar so
high. No one complained.
When McCabe and Johnson arrived in 1922 and announced that
they were placing themselves in charge, Castle Sugar withdrew
flaccidly, as though from a queasy dream.
Tyranny with a Difference 58
"There was at least one quality of the new conquerors of San
Lorenzo that was really new," wrote young Castle. "McCabe and
Johnson dreamed of making San Lorenzo a Utopia.
"To this end, McCabe overhauled the economy and the laws.
"Johnson designed a new religion."
Castle quoted the "Calypsos" again:
I wanted all things
To seem to make some sense,
So we all could be happy, yes,
Instead of tense.
And I made up lies
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So that they all fit nice,
And I made this sad world
There was a tug at my coat sleeve as I read. I looked up.
Little Newt Hoenikker was standing in the aisle next to me. "I
thought maybe you'd like to go back to the bar," he said, "and
hoist a few."
So we did hoist and topple a few, and Newt's tongue was
loosened enough to tell me some things about Zinka, his Russian
midget dancer friend. Their love nest, he told me, had been in his
father's cottage on Cape Cod.
"I may not ever have a marriage, but at least I've had a
He told me of idyllic hours he and his Zinka had spent in
each other's arms, cradled in Felix Hoenikker's old white wicker
chair, the chair that faced the sea.
And Zinka would dance for him. "Imagine a woman dancing just
"I can see you have no regrets."
"She broke my heart. I didn't like that much. But that was
the price. In this world, you get what you pay for."
He proposed a gallant toast. "Sweethearts and wives," he
Fasten Your Seat Belts 59
I was in the bar with Newt and H. Lowe Crosby and a couple of
strangers, when San Lorenzo was sighted. Crosby was talking about
pissants. "You know what I mean by a pissant?"
"I know the term," I said, "but it obviously doesn't have the
ding-a-ling associations for me that it has for you."
Crosby was in his cups and had the drunkard's illusion that
he could speak frankly, provided he spoke affectionately. He spoke
frankly and affectionately of Newt's size, something nobody else
in the bar had so far commented on.
"I don't mean a little feller like this." Crosby hung a ham
hand on Newt's shoulder. "It isn't size that makes a man a
pissant. It's the way he thinks. I've seen men four times as big
as this little feller here, and they were pissants. And I've seen
little fellers--well, not this little actually, but pretty damn
little, by God--and I'd call them real men."
"Thanks," said Newt pleasantly, not even glancing at the
monstrous hand on his shoulder. Never had I seen a human being
better adjusted to such a humiliating physical handicap. I
shuddered with admiration.
"You were talking about pissants," I said to Crosby, hoping
to get the weight of his hand off Newt.
"Damn right I was." Crosby straightened up.
"You haven't told us what a pissant is yet," I said.
"A pissant is somebody who thinks he's so damn smart, he
never can keep his mouth shut. No matter what anybody says, he's
got to argue with it. You say you like something, and, by God,
he'll tell you why you're wrong to like it. A pissant does his
best to make you feel like a boob all the time. No matter what you
say, he knows better."
"Not a very attractive characteristic," I suggested.
"My daughter wanted to marry a pissant once," said Crosby
"I squashed him like a bug." Crosby hammered on the bar,
remembering things the pissant had said and done. "Jesus!" he
said, "we've all been to college!" His gaze lit on Newt again.
"You go to college?"
"Cornell," said Newt.
"Cornell!" cried Crosby gladly. "My God, I went to Cornell."
"So did he." Newt nodded at me.
"Three Cornellians--all in the same plane!" said Crosby, and
we had another _granfalloon_ festival on our hands.
When it subsided some, Crosby asked Newt what he did.
"I'll be damned," said Crosby.
"Return to your seats and fasten your seat belts, please,"
warned the airline hostess. "We're over Monzano Airport, Bolivar,
"Christ! Now wait just a Goddamn minute here," said Crosby,
looking down at Newt. "All of a sudden I realize you've got a name
I've heard before."
"My father was the father of the atom bomb." Newt didn't say
Felix Hoenikker was _one_ of the fathers. He said Felix was _the_
"Is that so?" asked Crosby.
"I was thinking about something else," said Crosby. He had to
think hard. "Something about a dancer."
"I think we'd better get back to our seats," said Newt,
"Something about a Russian dancer." Crosby was sufficiently
addled by booze to see no harm in thinking out loud. "I remember
an editorial about how maybe the dancer was a spy."
"Please, gentlemen," said the stewardess, "you really must
get back to your seats and fasten your belts."
Newt looked up at H. Lowe Crosby innocently. "You sure the
name was Hoenikker?" And, in order to eliminate any chance of
mistaken identity, he spelled the name for Crosby.
"I could be wrong," said H. Lowe Crosby.
An Underprivileged Nation 60
The island, seen from the air, was an amazingly regular
rectangle. Cruel and useless stone needles were thrust up from the
sea. They sketched a circle around it.
At the south end of the island was the port city of Bolivar.
It was the only city.
It was the capital.
It was built on a marshy table. The runways of Monzano
Airport were on its water front.
Mountains arose abruptly to the north of Bolivar, crowding
the remainder of the island with their brutal humps. They were
called the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but they looked like pigs
at a trough to me.
Bolivar had had many names: Caz-ma-caz-ma, Santa Maria, Saint
Louis, Saint George, and Port Glory among them. It was given its
present name by Johnson and McCabe in 1922, was named in honor of
Simon Bolivar, the great Latin-American idealist and hero.
When Johnson and McCabe came upon the city, it was built of
twigs, tin, crates, and mud--rested on the catacombs of a trillion
happy scavengers, catacombs in a sour mash of slop, feculence, and
That was pretty much the way I found it, too, except for the
new architectural false face along the water front.
Johnson and McCabe had failed to raise the people from misery
"Papa" Monzano had failed, too.
Everybody was bound to fail, for San Lorenzo was as
unproductive as an equal area in the Sahara or the Polar Icecap.
At the same time, it had as dense a population as could be
found anywhere, India and China not excluded. There were four
hundred and fifty inhabitants for each uninhabitable square mile.
"During the idealistic phase of McCabe's and Johnson's
reorganization of San Lorenzo, it was announced that the country's
total income would be divided among all adult persons in equal
shares," wrote Philip Castle. "The first and only time this was
tried, each share came to between six and seven dollars."
What a Corporal Was Worth 61
In the customs shed at Monzano Airport, we were all required
to submit to a luggage inspection, and to convert what money we
intended to spend in San Lorenzo into the local currency, into
_Corporals_, which "Papa" Monzano insisted were worth fifty
The shed was neat and new, but plenty of signs had already
been slapped on the walls, higgledy-piggledy.
ANYBODY CAUGHT PRACTICING BOKONONISM IN SAN LORENZO, said
one, WILL DIE ON THE HOOK!
Another poster featured a picture of Bokonon, a scrawny old
colored man who was smoking a cigar. He looked clever and kind and
Under the picture were the words: WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE,
10,000 CORPORALS REWARD!
I took a closer look at that poster and found reproduced at
the bottom of it some sort of police identification form Bokonon
had had to fill out way back in 1929. It was reproduced,
apparently, to show Bokonon hunters what his fingerprints and
handwriting were like.
But what interested me were some of the words Bokonon had
chosen to put into the blanks in 1929. Wherever possible, he had
taken the cosmic view, had taken into consideration, for instance,
such things as the shortness of life and the longness of eternity.
He reported his avocation as: "Being alive."
He reported his principal occupation as: "Being dead."
THIS IS A CHRISTIAN NATION! ALL FOOT PLAY WILL BE PUNISHED BY
THE HOOK, said another sign. The sign was meaningless to me, since
I had not yet learned that Bokononists mingled their souls by
pressing the bottoms of their feet together.
And the greatest mystery of all, since I had not read all of
Philip Castle's book, was how Bokonon, bosom friend of Corporal
McCabe, had come to be an outlaw.
Why Hazel Wasn't Scared 62
There were seven of us who got off at San Lorenzo: Newt and
Angela, Ambassador Minton and his wife, H. Lowe Crosby and his
wife, and I. When we had cleared customs, we were herded outdoors
and onto a reviewing stand.
There, we faced a very quiet crowd.
Five thousand or more San Lorenzans stared at us. The
islanders were oatmeal colored. The people were thin. There wasn't
a fat person to be seen. Every person had teeth missing. Many legs
were bowed or swollen.
Not one pair of eyes was clear.
The women's breasts were bare and paltry. The men wore loose
loincloths that did little to conceal penes like pendulums on
There were many dogs, but not one barked. There were many
infants, but not one cried. Here and there someone coughed--and
that was all.
A military band stood at attention before the crowd. It did
There was a color guard before the band. It carried two
banners, the Stars and Stripes and the flag of San Lorenzo. The
flag of San Lorenzo consisted of a Marine Corporal's chevrons on a
royal blue field. The banners hung lank in the windless day.
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