beautyCourt Transcript

LORD SCALES. We come to the first judgement. I am far from imagining, that just because the accused has fallen for a damsel and been ground up in the millstones of the world, he should be treated with leniency. Throughout his sinful life, his actions have been in direct conflict with divine agency. And by his own admission, his self-centred philosophy denies God’s omnipotence. Jacques Vallin, do you think the jury will applaud your murderous act because your motive was pure? Folly, folly, folly! The truth of the matter, is that your motive was hate. Hate and hate alone. Hate for your Janus sire, hate for the priest, and hate for the world. Yet you have wickedly disguised this hate as love for a maid. You see yourself as noble avenger for the fairer sex. But that is not love. Because hatred, which is a desire to kill, is the opposite of love, and since ’tis love what makes heaven in man, ’tis evident that hatred is what makes hell in him.(i) A hell you tasted for yourself when you drank the red-cap potion. There is nothing like a little taste of hell to keep a mortal on the straight and narrow… But looking at your future crimes, ’tis evident this did not thwart you…

JACQUES. Because I tasted Heaven too…

LORD SCALES. Ah, yes, we noticed that… Jacqueline. Your ecstasy in The Garden of Demonic Delights. How far from ridicule was your body then… Yet having seen you in that radiant state, how are we to judge your crimes? Your earthly life is almost done. At dawn you shall discover the final mystery of Death: the supreme truth of all existence… The sleep that surrounds your earthly life will soon engulf it, and all material things, including your flesh, will become vapour and smoke… How shall Satan save you? How shall you walk through His sacred gate?

JACQUES. Most majestic Lord Scales, I commend myself lovingly to your royal judgement. Your prudence knows well that all diamons must employ their strength, first to the service of Satan, and second to the destruction of Mother Church. This I have done throughout my life. Let it be known that the principal oath of my Order was to keep and protect the Satanic faith. This was foremost in my mind when Krew summoned the Infernal Council to judge me. Goblin jury, behold a sinner and profane offender of the Catholic faith. I know first hand of the inestimable hurts, idolatries, errors, and false doctrines that Mother Church has spread throughout the land. In truth, you should all cordially thank me for having rendered so great a service to our Holy faith. For my part I most humbly praise, with a contrite heart, Great Satan and His infernal prowess…

LORD SCALES. Stop fawning, you impudent little turd. ’Tis true your battles with Mother Church have added some colour to your personality. But what folly to think you could topple the ramparts of her papacy! Besides, a list of diabolic crimes does not make a diamon, any more than a list of doctorates makes a doctor. We are diamons by birth, not career. And as far as the court is concerned, you will remain a man of clay, ’til you can prove your divine origin by a task requiring superhuman power…

JACQUES. What pray tell, would you have me do?

LORD SCALES. Perform for us a miracle. Heal yourself…

JACQUES. ’Tis miracle enough that I live and breath after being racked so cruelly. And could I perform a miracle on so a grand scale as to heal this wretched body, I would have done it long ago…

LORD SCALES. Yet ’tis written that you raised the dead.

KREW. A work of the Paraclete and Holy Ghost.

JACQUES. I was the channel, not the cause. And who knows if Euripides was right when he said: “to live is to be dead, and to be dead to live?”(ii)

LORD SCALES. But your miracles made you rich. You prospered by disease.

JACQUES. I never asked for money.

LORD SCALES. ’Tis a great thing wanting that you never refused it either.

JACQUES. Wealth is a sordid burden.

LORD SCALES. Especially when you cannot take it with you.

JACQUES. I would gladly give away all that I own, but Mother Church seized my whole estate… That greedy avaricious whore…

LORD SCALES. Why should you care? Unless the blood of the world still flows through your veins?

JACQUES. The world is corrupt, and my blood boils with it.

LORD SCALES. Yet your attempts to uproot Mother Church have only resulted in your own ruin. Is that the work of a true diamon?

JACQUES. Most sapient Lord, only you can judge.

LORD SCALES. Fawning again. The Satanic Scales of Justice beckon with a chime. But if I were to weigh your soul now, I fear the Needle of Salvation would not swing in your favour.

JACQUES. Then I wonder about those scales… And how the movement and dynamics of a soul may be subject to the law of mathematics…

LORD SCALES. ’Tis the weight of your intentions that we measure. You claim to be a product of pathology. Which brings me to the question: is the soul Substance or Quality? Or does Quality have bearing on the nature of the Substance? Wherefore, what Quality results in such deformity?

JACQUES. I have suffered from my affliction in both body and soul. For my soul was always in opposition to my body.

LORD SCALES. Ah, do you mean to tell us that you’re just a little butterfly under all that hoary bulk? Eh, Jacqueline?

JACQUES. I’ll tear your fucking horns off!

LORD SCALES. Ah! Not such a little butterfly after all. Alas Jacqueline, I am a life long Platonist. And to ensoul the body, ’tis necessary for the soul to sympathize with an image of similar idea.(iii) And if every external form shares an identity with its interior substance, what is the image of your soul?

JACQUES. Not this.

LORD SCALES. Then what Jacques? The milkmaid perhaps? Ah, how you craved her body. Oh, that you might step into her silken skin. But you would not fit: your bones are too big; your shoulders too wide; your ribcage too vast for her delicate dress; not to mention your saturnine skull, whose misshapen bones are the very nightmare of Venus. Poor fool, even now I see Proteus has a hold on your heart strings.

JACQUES. They say Time is a great healer. But mine is a curse that worsens with age.

LORD SCALES. Clearly, you are deluded and cannot see what we see.

JACQUES. I see exactly what you see. And you think I’m mad.

LORD SCALES. Well aren’t you, “Mad Abbot”? That’s why you’re having this conversation with yourself at two in the morning, is it not?

JACQUES. No one can tell me what I am.

LORD SCALES. True, but we cannot deny the evidence either. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, then it must be a duck. How I hate those perfidious close shorn apes, who tamper with their cocks, then don the garb of Venus, and strut about like quasi dames, with painted lips and sooty lashes, feigning speech and gesture to perjure woman’s ways.

JACQUES. The soul is not the body.

LORD SCALES. Ergo, your deformity is due to sin.

JACQUES. In which case, the goodmen are right: all flesh is evil, and the punishment of purgatory is nothing less than earthly pains…

LORD SCALES. Poor fool. Have you only just realised? Didn’t you know the carnal body is an invention of the Devil? That is how he reaches the inmost chambers of the human heart. Procreation is the means by which He maintains His hold on Earth. So what is the remedy, I ask you?

JACQUES. I have always dwelt upon myself as an evil beyond the reach of any remedy.

LORD SCALES. How very poignant. Shall you imbibe the urine of pregnant mares, to swell your paps and hips? A maniac’s dream. Let me summon Saint Jude, the patron saint of Lost Causes.

KREW. Little butterfly, how shall you grow wings in this earthly life, when your purse of transformation is the grave?

LORD SCALES. So I ask again, what is body and what is soul?

KREW. The soul is power. Power which a living body possesses and a lifeless body lacks. Soul and body are not two distinct things, but one thing with two aspects. A form-matter complex. Further, the soul dwells in a body, but in a body of a particular kind, by which the soul advances. Such is the sanctity of matter.

LORD SCALES. I’m not asking you Cyclops, you puffed-up hogs bladder! Let the accused speak for himself.

JACQUES. Je doute qu’aucun philosophe ait jammais bien connu l’union de l’âme avec le corps. [I doubt whether any philosopher has ever well understood the union of the soul with the body].

LORD SCALES. But you claim to understand this union better than us.

JACQUES. My union. Oh yes, I am well versed in philosophy, the first precept of which is “Know Thyself”.

SATYR STYX. By the tip of my horns, I find that statement quite preposterous. Are we to assume that this ignorant wretch, deems to know himself?

JACQUES. I cannot be baited by your damned insults and tedious cross examinations. I’ll wager my milk-nuts that I know myself better than you…

SATYR STYX. So what are those cankerous horns and twisted limbs? Some great human truth, decked in the garb of symbolism?

JACQUES. Nay, misery! I know what I am on the inside.

LORD SCALES. But you know in part and prophesy in part.(iv) For you have spent so many years immersed in dreams that you cannot see the wood for the trees… I have learnt by hard experience that all heavenly dreams crumble under the hard hammers of Nature. And only through Nature can man receive the grace of Satan.

SATYR STYX. Spoken like a true philosopher.

LORD SCALES. Philosophize and be damned.

JACQUES. But you just said you were a Platonist.

LORD SCALES. Did I? How very odd. What I meant to say was pragmatist. ’Tis well known in Satanic circles that philosophy is a subject fit only for lunatics. A bottomless sea of vain intellectual sophistry. Democritus, Leucippus, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, – take your pick. And you, mad abbot, have studied them all…

JACQUES. Naturally. I was especially fond of Proclus. Did you know, he claimed the outer boundary of the cosmos was smooth like a mirror?

LORD SCALES. Such an educated man… A mirror? How fascinating…

JACQUES. – Yes, a mirror that could both receive and convert the Intelligible light: the borderline between incorporeal and corporeal. Wait… I know this bit… What comes next? Think! … Fire, the origin of Light, which has its cause in the Demiurge, the incorporeal from… A mirror, yes. Why, these are reflections all! My poor and wretched soul!

LORD SCALES. I have seen many vainglorious philosophers prattle on the soul, and grievously vex and concuss themselves with shaking sconces, ’til they lie drunk in intellectual stupor. Man is subservient to the ends of Nature, lest a higher power dwells in him. Then his goodness, like a poultice, heals the world.(v) So tell me Proselyte, what power dwells in you?

JACQUES. Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

LORD SCALES. Hark! Is he speaking in tongues?

SATYR STYX. It sounds like Galilean.

IMP. It might be Egyptian…

GOBLIN. No, he’s drunk like a Pentecost apostle.(vi)

LORD SCALES. God forbid, I thought he was filled with the Holy Ghost. For there can be no fellowship between Light and Darkness here… Behold the grubby little man that stands before us. And how this little grub, repugnant to the senses, could become a gilded butterfly is beyond me. Perhaps he still thinks the essence of the butterfly is the self same essence as the grub? Nay, different creatures. Oh, what mysteries of incarnation this hermaphrodite of Satan would have us believe.

KREW. What mystery of incarnation, that God became man, the living Christ.

LORD SCALES. Alas, this proselyte is not capable of receiving Christ. The mysteries of Christ are hidden from the Jews.

KREW. Yet he wrought His miracles, even at the touch of a dead body.

LORD SCALES. Miracles are not always subject to gratuitous grace; they are also the work of unclean spirits and false prophets.(vii) Physician, cure thyself.

JACQUES. To align this body and soul is not within my power.

LORD SCALES. So, like the Orphic sects of old, you deem the soul better than the body?

JACQUES. I do. The incorporeal is superior to the corporeal. The alchemists believe one reflects the other. As above, so below. But they quite mistaken. I am quite secure in this knowledge, and nothing you can say will persuade me to the contrary.

LORD SCALES. Get down off your dungheap! Incorporal and corporeal? What is this unintelligible model of the world you present us? How can there be any foundation of secure knowledge, when the world is constantly changing its physical image? Little wonder, when your own mirror is so distorted. Do not speak to us of mirrors, when you are too terrified of your own reflection!

JACQUES. My flesh has always repulsed me.

LORD SCALES. Indeed? Yet you have revelled in its lusts and fluxes; glutted yourself with a self-centred passion on the one hand and an idolatrous goat-worship on the other. That is hardly the behaviour of an ascetic. On the contrary, you have been entranced by your senses.

JACQUES. I admit my soul has been besmeared by passions; I have floundered in the glory of the female sex; I have sunk into the mire and bondage of the flesh.

LORD SCALES. Ah, the infirmity and fallibility of human nature.

JACQUES. I was lost in it.

KREW. My lord, what Jacques really means to say, is that his soul is imprisoned in his body. Imprisoned unjustly.

LORD SCALES. Krew! Do you take me for an utter numbskull?

KREW. No my lord!

LORD SCALES. I see no injustice here. ’Tis simply a matter of atonement. Which brings us to the crux of the matter: transmigration.

JACQUES. What? Are you mad? Transmigration? What a perverse doctrine of agonies! A phantom carrot, by which the churlish ass is drawn toward his death, whilst Mother Church goads him from behind: “Oh humble churl, accept your lowly lot, for your reward will be in Heaven where you shall change into a shining angel.”

KREW. And so you shall. For in the Kingdom of God there is neither suffering nor death, and the chosen dwell at ease in Paradise…

JACQUES. – But meanwhile, we must soundly flog you, ’til your welts run with blood, for you deserve these earthly sorrows, because you were born in sin… Eternal life will be yours if you but keep the faith. So remain vigilant; beware of the enemy; for Satan stalks the earth like a hungry lion. Fall not into his snares – for He can transform himself into an angel of Light… Yea, be not deceived, for He may even change himself into a beautiful woman…

LORD SCALES. Well, He might Jacqueline, but not you. There’s more possibility of an ox speaking Latin, than of you becoming a milkmaid… Mind you, the Dumb Ox of Sicily did end up speaking Latin. And I always wandered how he did it. Do you think the Angelic Doctor was inspired by the devil?

JACQUES. – What?

LORD SCALES. Never mind. All this metempsychotic transmigratory deliberation has put me in a pickle. But I should very much like to know what you were before that. To work it out would be an exercise of profound sagacity. A task beyond The Wisest Man of Greece.

SATYR STYX. Then let us say, for argument’s sake, that the accused is a fallen seed of Adam, once perfect, but who is now buried in a sepulchre of flesh. His body is a grave.

JACQUES. Oh, there’s a good genius. If I am in a grave, should I not try and escape?

SATYR STYX. By what means?

JACQUES. Suicide, you idiot. A legitimate relief from intolerable suffering.

SATYR STYX. ’Tis unlawful to destroy the body.

JACQUES. What’s the harm, if I’m dead already dead?

SATYR STYX. Only an act of grace can save you. You claim to be a diamon but diamons are Dionysiacal; we are part of Him, formed from the same sooty ashes of the Titans who tasted his flesh.

JACQUES. Then let me launch forth a contrary argument, lest I be scorned any further by a theological blockhead. Satyr, what act of grace will purge your horns and fetlocks?

SATYR STYX. These are my father’s horns and I am proud of them.

JACQUES. But as any eunuch will tell you, that body is a product of your milk-nuts, id est your bollocks. And had you been castrated as a kid, we might now mistake you for a doe…

KREW. Correct. Adulthood is preceded by a transient phase of plasticity, in which cell groups, though destined to produce a particular type of tissue, may form a totally different tissue if exposed to contrary secretions.

JACQUES. Too late for the Satyr. He has lived his entire adult life as a doe.

SATYR STYX. What! No horns, no cock? I am inexpressibly alarmed!

JACQUES. You would be! Then one day, after spying yourself in a pool, you decide you can stand it no more. So you jump up and declare: “I’m not a doe! I’m a Stag! And my name is Runcibold!” But despite your protestations, no one believes you. You are told, in no plain words, that you are deluded, and cannot see what others see. They crown you King of Fools, and you end up mad, like me…

SATYR STYX. My lord, I must protest. I find this most insulting. To be equated with a eunuch in this manner. Must I wager my milk-nuts to prove a point?

KREW. Well if you did, your only course to salvation would be to find new milk-nuts, or learn the mystery of their secretion.

SATYR STYX. The very idea! My lord – see how the goblins mock me. Yes, yes, very funny. That is sufficient, if you don’t mind! No, I never was a doe. No, not ever! Nor a nymph neither! Yes, these are my own milk-nuts! Oh! Enough of this verbal castration!

LORD SCALES. Order! Order! Goblin jury, hold your tongues! Milk-nuts indeed. And the accused will kindly show the bench some respect. Jacques Vallin, apologise to the Satyr.

JACQUES. I was merely trying to present the problem from another point of view. For there are eunuchs who were born so from their mothers womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.(viii)

SATYR STYX. By the codpiece of Pan, I will not take it! I am very well endowed, and with a reputation to match! They don’t call me “Mr. Love Muscle” for nothing, you know!

JACQUES. Pardon all company whilst I spit another tooth…

LORD SCALES. Another tooth! Quick, quick, pass it here… Ah! An incisor. The inquisitor has long pliers. I shall put this in the jar marked “Mental Disease”, along with other freaks of Nature dredged up from the Tyber.

JACQUES. If I cannot choose what I am to be, how shall I work out my own salvation?

LORD SCALES. With fear and trembling. The world will always shrink from adopting your state as imperative and official. And rightly so, because ’tis contrary to the course of Nature. Your only route to salvation is to reincarnate according to your deeds in this life, taking a higher or lower body in the next life…

JACQUES. Absurd! Reincarnate? I cannot not commit myself to such insanity! The corruption of the flesh; the burden of living amongst other men; and the humiliation of becoming one!

KREW. Have you taken a look at yourself lately? When your soul is purified by the chastening sorrows of its earthly career, ’twill be re-united with the divine Essence.

JACQUES. An infringement of my intelligence! That I should be condemned to an eternity of transmigration, as I advance or recede in purity. To think that I was a fly in one incarnation and a fish in another! That through a course of ages, after living as flowers, birds and beasts, I will finally become pure enough to join the heavenly elect! Yet there is more purity in a flower than a Saint; and the simple Ox is far more noble than the pope. Oh, pardon my boldness if I transgress, but it makes precious little sense that our Imperial Satanic Majesty, when purified of his sins, will rejoin the angels in Paradise, where no doubt, his fine intellect would re-offend God, who would then cast him back down to hell… And may I ask, what manner of body Satan will give me in the next life?

KREW. What manner of body did Adam and Eve have before the fall? For now you see through a dark glass.(ix) The death of the soul is nothing more than a profound union with the ruinous bonds of the body.(x) The body is a tomb.

LORD SCALES. You are a very grave beast indeed.

JACQUES. Then how shall I be resurrected?

KREW. Not in that body, which you have received from the first Adam, but in one attainable from the Holy Ghost alone…

JACQUES. I would prefer the body the red cap potion gave me…

LORD SCALES. When will the accused admit the irrefutable evidence of his flesh? Despite its vile deformity, ’tis what God intended.

JACQUES. Then God has made a terrible mistake. This is not my body.

LORD SCALES. But Jacqueline, my dear girl, you are fused to it as an oyster to its shell. To Aristotle the body is the natural instrument of the soul. To wit, the soul is both the first and last cause of the body, for a soul cannot incarnate into a random body.

JACQUES. Then let the goblins think on that before they reach a verdict.

GOBLIN. Unlike you, we are not ashamed of our material nature.

LORD SCALES. So I ask again, is the soul Substance or Quality? Or does Quality have bearing on the nature of the Substance? Answer, man of clay…

JACQUES. My wits are gone. I behold luminous devils hovering in the air… Gargoyles on the corbels and imps upon the sills. Pray, save me from the pyre…

LORD SCALES. Goblin Jury, how many faggots will it take to smelt this pretender diamon? He longs to keep his pact. But will Satan be paid by such a counterfeit coin?

JACQUES. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust… Cease this frenzy! My substance is of Earth, born in a fiery crucible… My bones are formed of clay kneaded with marrow and tempered by fire… My flesh is a ferment of the same, dissolved in acid and brine…

LORD SCALES. Then shall we, like Empedocles, assume that “like is known by like”, and resolve your soul into the four elements, and its two moving causes Love and Strife?

JACQUES. Yes. All flesh is grass.(xi) I shall be as chaff before the storm, and as ash which the whirlwind scatters.(xii) Let me return to that state without sensation, where I will cease to be held by pleasure and pain; free from this vile vessel that is corruption and clay.

LORD SCALES. Nay, ’tis folly to compound the soul from the elements. If that were so, all things would be animate. You think matter is the foundation and principal of things? Then what is the common essence of the four elements? For they are constantly changing into each other. Water by Fire becomes Air; and Air condenses again to become Water. Air changes to Fire when flint strikes Earth. Yet even Earth changes into Water over time. A continuous process of dissolution that proves matter is impermanent. Ergo, there must be a fifth element.’

JACQUES. What is the fifth element?

LORD SCALES. I’m asking you, Jacques.

JACQUES. Er, is it the prima materia?

LORD SCALES. The prime chaotic matter of Aristotle? Oh dear, oh dear. You’ll have to do batter than that.

GARGOYLE. Methinks the Mad Abbot makes a very poor alchemist.

LORD SCALES. Agreed. Alchemy was never his strong point. And the transmutation of his base substance is nigh impossible considering the impurities of his soul.

IMP. The dissolution of the egg is the genesis of the cuckoo; the dissolution of the cuckoo is the genesis of the four elements. Upon my soul, that is most strange and contradictory. What perverse profundities. Is this what the learned call metaphysics, and the unlearned alchemy? Then what is the philosophers stone that transmutes the cuckoo into an egg again?

LORD SCALES. Shall we let you into a secret Jacques? Matter is most mysterious and ’tis not safe to talk about it too plainly and openly. The real principals and constitution of the corporeal world are known only to God. Man’s senses only give him the husks of things; and their true essence is beyond the power of his reason. So if you believe Empedocles, go and jump into the fiery mouth of Aetna… But give me your sandals first.(xiii) Ha! Ha!

JACQUES. If I shall not return to the elements, how shall I be resurrected? Pray, not in this body…

KREW. No, not in that body. For the second Adam is the philosophic man, and has passed from the elements into eternity. One substance never dies, but continues by perpetual increase: the Holy Spirit. Wherefore Christ bears witness by the resurrection of his flesh.

[Long Silence]

JACQUES. Er, my Lord, pardon my ignorance, but will you reveal the secret?

LORD SCALES. Secret, Jacques?

JACQUES. The fifth element. If ’tis not the prima materia, then what?

LORD SCALES. Love, Jacques. The fifth element is Love.

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2000.

i. After Swedenborg, on the nature of the inner man, “Heaven and Hell”.

ii. Euripides, quoted by Socrates in his dialogue with Callistes in Plato’s Gorgias.

iii. Commentary of Olympiodorus on the Phaedo of Plato.

iv. Corinthians I, 13:9.

v. Then his goodness like a poultice heals the world. These might be Colin Wilson’s words. I can’t remember.

vi. Acts 2:13.

vii. Matthew 24:24.

viii. Matthew 19:12.

ix. Corinthians I, 13:12.

x. The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries. Thomas Taylor, 1891.

xi. Peter I, 1:24.

xii. Job 21:18.

xiii. According to Lucian, Empedocles cast himself into the mouth of Etna so that people might believe he had returned to the Gods; but Etna spewed out his sandal and destroyed the illusion.