Thursday, January 30, 2014

Part Eighty-Two, Chapter Four - The Trial of Soltan Gris, And Everyone Else

Gris has been building a stockpile of blackmail material on his fellow officers, but that's pretty par the course for the Apparatus.  The real twist is that...

But Gris also seemed to have been using it to amplify or illustrate points he had learned in Earth psychology and psychiatry, for some of the notes on the edges of the evidence said, "Proves he was oral erotic" and "Typical sado-masochism" and "Using a Knife Section knife in that way definitely demonstrates penis envy" and other things of a like manner.  Also it is possible that Gris, naturally lazy, never bothered to catalogue or sort what he collected, much less use it.

He's not just a loathsome intelligence agent, he's an amateur psychiatrist intelligence agent diagnosing his blackmail victims!  Could there be anything wor- ooh, close call there.  You really have to watch your words around this author.

Well, it was all there now, the labors of ten years.  They were the rewards for continuous snooping and prying into things that never could have been his concern.  They also explained, to some degree, why he never had any friends: The names on those notes and photos and recorded strips read like an officer personnel roster of the whole Apparatus.

It says so here in the court proceedings: unlikable.  Liked by no one.  A bitter, unlikable loner- wait, I already used that line in a chapter title.

The defense attorneys have everything all alphabetized, and start going through their buffet of evidence.  An Apparatus agent was ordered to interrogate a village on Mistin (must be near Flisten), however that works, and he of course raped all the women and castrated the men "in a gory bout of sadism" and then burned the village down anyway.  An Apparatus general on Modon kidnapped some nearby village women for a party, raped them, flogged them to death, buried them in a shallow grave in the basement, reburied them weeks later after they started to stink, and then executed some locals for the crime.  A group of Apparatus officers raped the "young children" of a man they were extorting money from, disemboweled his pregnant wife in front of him, and chucked him into a river after he went insane from the experience.  The Apparatus' mad doctors kidnapped a whole orphanage to turn into circus freaks with a snake's body or "the haunches and genitals of a snug."  I'm not sure exactly what a "snug" is, but it's bound to be something horrible if the Apparatus is involved.

Lovely stuff, and nothing that should surprise us at this point.  But you might be wondering what the mass-murder of villages on distant worlds or the mutilation of children has to do with Gris' bigamy charges.  The answer will be revealed next chapter.

While the sordid tales create loads of "HEADLINES!", Madison mourns, because they aren't his headlines.  Voltar's media, recently trained by him to sensationalize "sex and blood" almost as much as the book's author, spends days screaming about the Apparatus' crimes, instead of covering the manhunt for the outlaw Jettero Heller.  There is of course a hilariously ironic moment where Madison protests that this Apparatus coverage "is just sensationalism.  It is pointless" but to no avail.  How ever will the Army or Fleet or Domestic Police go after a criminal without the media telling them to do so?  How else is a world's dictator going to get anyone to do what he wants?

But despite Heller almost falling out of the public eye, despite the attorneys and journalists taking over the trial and running in a different direction, Madison "did not, however, for a moment, doubt that he could, sooner or later, triumph."  It's all going wrong and he's lost control of the situation, but his victory is still inevitable, dammit.  Be excited!  Feel dramatic tension that the bad guys might carry the day!  Worry that good may not be able to triumph over evil, even as you watch evil defeat itself!  This is still a tense and exciting spy thriller, not a foregone conclusion!

As an aside, this chapter neatly illuminates the story's problem with psychology, and not the "I HATE PSYCHOLOGY!" type of problem.

We're repeatedly told that psychology is all bunk, sex-crazed, evil, and responsible for all of Earth's degeneracy.  However, we've seen a lot of Voltarian society by this point, and lo and behold it has it's share of sexual deviants and monsters in human form as well, even though the planet was free of psychology's taint until Gris got involved.  So, Hubbard: if there's rapists and sadists on both planets, but psychology is only on one of them, is it really to blame for these problems?

On top of that, if mental health is all phony, why do so many deviants in these books happen to align with psychological descriptions of mental disorders?  Hell, the author keeps using clinical terms to describe Lombar's megalomania.  If psychology doesn't have any answers, why does the author keep referring to it?

Back to Chapter Three 

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