Last week a colleague remarked that singer Linda Ronstadt has caused a near riot in a Las Vegas casino after dedicating a song to propagandist Michael Moore.
We had a brief chat about how polarised US politics had become and continued on with our business.
On my way home that night, I was finishing Philip K Dick’s superb book “VALIS” which is mostly indescribable (read it, READ IT!) but is partly about the downfall of an evil republican president (ostensibly Nixon) brought about inter alia by a girl child prophet.
Imagine my surprise when I open page 213 and read about the protagonist having a dream where he is being driven around by..you guessed it..Linda Ronstadt..who sings him a message. The message is cryptic and highly symbolic. The dream comes after the protagonist frets that the The Empire – recently set back by the downfall of Nixon – will make a comeback and they will have to wait until the child is an adult before they can expect help. What he does not realise is that the child has just been killed in a freak accident. The dream is a message from the messiah child. Linda Rhonstadt is a symbol of her as an adult.
What had the little girl told us? That human beings should now give up the worship of all deities except mankind itself. This did not seem irrational to me. Whether it had been said by a child or whether it came from the Britannica, it would have struck me as sound.
Kevin drove me home; I went at once to bed, worn-out and discouraged, in a vague way, I think what discouraged me about the situation was the uncertainty of our commission, received from Sophia. We had a mandate but for what? More important, what did Sophia intend to do as she matured? Remain with the Lamptons? Escape, change her name, move to Japan and start a new life?
Where would she surface? Where would we find mention of her over the years? Would we have to wait until she grew to adulthood? That might be eighteen years. In eighteen years Ferris F, Fremount [Nixon then, now Bush? Ed], to use the name from the film, could have taken over the world—again. We needed help now.
But then I thought, You always need the Savior now. Later is always too late.
When I fell asleep that night I had a dream, In the dream I rode in Kevin’s Honda, but instead of Kevin driving, Linda Ronstadt sat behind the wheel, and the car was open, like a vehicle from ancient times, like a chariot. Smiling at me, Ronstadt sang, and she sang more beautifully than any time I had ever heard her sing before. She sang:
“To walk toward the dawn
You must put your slippers on.”
In the dream this delighted me; it seemed a terribly important message. When I woke up the next morning I could still see her lovely face, the dark, glowing eyes: such large eyes* so filled with light, a strange kind of black light, like the light of stars. Her look toward me was one of intense love, but not sexual love; it was what the Bible calls loving-kindness. Where was she driving me?
During the next day I tried to figure out what the cryptic words referred to. Slippers. Dawn. What did I associate with the dawn?
Studying my reference books (at one time I would have said, “Horselover Fat, studying his reference books”*), I came across the fact that Aurora is the Latin word for the personification of the dawn. And that suggests Aurora Borealis—which looks like St Elmo’s Fire, which is how VALIS looked. The Britannica says of the Aurora Borealis:
“The Aurora Borealis appears throughout history in the mythology of the Eskimo, the Irish, the English, the Scandinavians, and others; it was usually believed to be a supernatural manifestation . . . Northern Germanic tribes saw in it the splendor of the shields of Valkyrie (warrior women)”
Did that mean—was VALIS telling me—that little Sophia would issue forth into the world as a “warrior woman”? Maybe so.
What about slippers? I could think of one association, an interesting one. Ernpedoeles, the pupil of Pythagoras, who had gone public about remembering his past lives and who told his friends privately that he was Apollo, had never died in the usual sense; instead, his golden slippers had been found near the top of the volcano Mount Etna. Either Empedoeles, like Elijah, had been taken up into heaven bodily, or he had jumped into the volcano, Mount Etna is in the eastern-most part of Sicily. In Roman times the word “aurora” literally meant “east.” Was VALIS alluding to both itself and to re-birth, to eternal life? Was I being—
The phone rang.
Picking it up I said, “Hello”
I heard Eric Lampton’s voice. It sounded twisted, like an old root, a dying root. “We have something to tell you, I’ll let Linda tell you. Hold on.”
A deep fear entered me as I stood holding the silent phone. Then Linda Lampton’s voice sounded in my ear, flat and toneless. The dream had to do with her, I realized; Linda Ronstadt; Linda Lampton, “What is it?” I said, unable to understand what Linda Lampton was saying.
“The little girl is dead,” Linda Lampton said. “Sophia? How?” I said.
Mini killed here By accident, The police are here, With a laser. He was trying to—*
I hung up.
The phone rang again almost at once. I picked it up and said hello.
Linda Lampton said, “Mini wanted to try to get as much information—”
“Thanks for telling me,” I said. Crazily, I felt bitter anger, not sorrow.
“He was trying information-transfer by laser,” Linda was saying. “We’re calling everyone. We don’t understand; if Sophia was the Savior, how could she die?”
Dead at two years old, I realized. Impossible.
I hung up the phone and sat down. After a time, I realized that the woman in the dream driving the car and singing had been Sophia, but grown up, as she would have been one day. The dark eyes filled with light and life and fire. The dream was her way of saying good-bye.