By the end of the book, Barbara has rationalised away the existence of the ‘Operators’ as being part of her unconscious mind which had been brought in as an emergency remedy to help heal her mind. It is not entirely clear to me at least how the symptoms of mental illness can form part of its cure and I am not entirely convinced that these Operators were merely something conjured up by her own mind.
If for instance Barbara can admit that ‘Something’ guided her on the winning numbers for the Las Vegas roulette wheel; how upon deciding that she needed to find a job, how that same ‘Something’ led her to the precise street and building where an opportunity had just arisen, and furthermore, in one passage how one of the ‘Operators’ apparently advised her before leaving her mountain cabin to take a flashlight with her, it being early in the day Barbara herself could not understand the logic of the Operator’s demands but she took a flashlight with her all the same. It was only when she arrived in town to find that the bus-service she had intended to use to return to the cabin had been discontinued and that she had a three hour wait for a different service, by which time when she finally returned home it was not only dark, but she was apparently being tracked by a mountain lion, which with judicious application of the flashlight, she managed to scare off. There is no way Barbara herself could have foreseen any of these events and one is left with the conclusion that it must be some kind of all-seeing all-knowing force which exists beyond the human realm.
The great striking point here which splits and sends people to man their trenches and rally to their standards and fight with all their might is whatever they would give in answer to the ultimate question: Does God exist? Those who answer no, consider belief in God unscientific and wishful thinking; the belief in spirits and demons as delusion and superstition, and possibly consider those that do as intellectually challenged. For them, schizophrenia is solely a disease of the individual’s own mind and the delusions and the cast of voices show the astonishing power of the human brain.
Those that do however, see God as being present in the elements and experiences of life which science cannot answer. They consider spirits and demons as a possibility; the human body is only a vessel which the spirit temporarily occupies so could it not be that since consciousness continues after death in the spirit then it must logically follow, that spirits can exist independent of a physical form, without human bodies, or physical bodies at all. All religion and folk traditions have some commentary to make on the existence of these discarnate beings, and according to many of the descriptions of these creatures in many of the ancient holy books of the world’s religions the creatures which alternately persecuted and apparently aided Barbara, seem like a combination of the angels, demons and Djinns of the ancient faiths.
A very peculiar comment is made by the Operators about God which evokes something almost Biblical about the fall of man and the fallen state of the world:
“Operators, very early in the history of civilization, had surrounded the earth with an airfield of steel rays so powerful that even God couldn’t get through.”
An airfield of steel-rays is clearly just a metaphor for some other form of power and it reminds me of the work of CS Lewis whose remarkable science fiction trilogy, ending with That Hideous Strength, evokes this idea, less that God is banished from Earth but more that an evil principle known as Oyarsa: the bent one, has taken ownership of Earth, leading to a kind of spiritual quarantine of our planet by the spiritual forces of the solar system. The condition of this quarantine is that Earth’s Oyarsa cannot travel beyond the Moon’s orbit but nor are the other spiritual powers or Oyeresu allowed to come to Earth to intervene.
Another thing which makes me wonder whether the Operators might be a real phenomenon and that Barbara wasn’t hallucinating their existence but that due to the adrenochrome toxin in her blood, was able to perceive things which our consciousnesses usually filters out of our reality as being perhaps too strange and disturbing, is one of the dangers of being targeted by malicious Operators.
“At least, buy some nails and a hammer nail down the windows. Because that’s the way you’re going to go. Wait until you have twenty Operators from the council in here, working on your mind, telling you to jump. Believe me, you’ll jump. So far as the council is concerned, you’re a monstrosity and a source of danger, something that has to be put out of the way.”
When one notices the same trends in different people’s experiences then one has to assume there might be some commonality at the root of those experiences. It is very common for those suffering from schizophrenia and hearing voices, to be driven to suicide by those voices. If these voices were part of our own subconscious mind, then why would it have any desire or interest in killing itself? It makes no sense, considering the natural imperative for survival which is supposedly one of the strongest instincts in man. This seems to go against nature and it would seem to make sense that only a maliciously inclined outside force which takes pleasure in human misfortunes would have any desire to drive a person to suicide.
In the book The Siren Call of the Hungry Ghosts, which deserves a full investigation all of its own and Youtuber ‘Zap Oracle’ has actually published an excellent two hour video which explains anything I could go into here; suffice it to say that it is an investigation into the world of channelling, ghosts and mediums which Joe Fisher, who at 22 set a record as England’s youngest ever editor in chief at the Staffordshire Advertiser and later went on to become one of Canada’s leading investigative reporters, becomes personally embroiled in discovering whether there is any truth to the existence of ghosts and spirits. His last words to his editor-in-chief at Paraview Books Patrick Huyghe shortly before he threw himself to his death from a limestone gorge at Elora Gorge in Ontario Canada, were that the spirits were still after him for having written his last book which was The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts.
My fundamental question here is do these ghosts, demons, spirits, djinns actually exist in some real spirit form which can interact with the human world to a limited extent and are there certain people in certain circumstances who find themselves in full contact with these beings?
If the answer is yes then it forces us to reconsider a great deal about what we think we know about the nature of humanity, its origins, the problems we face and in truth, it answers a lot of questions I think we all have and many of the mysteries which have plagued us for millennia can be solved by incorporating this shadowy world as a fundamental causative agent over much of the history of human activity. Perhaps even, a causative agent over some of our very thoughts.
Cross-referencing the ‘Operators’ of this book with the demons from CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and Evelyn Waugh’s The Ordeal of Gilbert Penfold convinces me that there is some objective reality to these ghostly Operators since the same characters using the same kind of programme can be discovered in other people’s experiences.
The Screwtape Letters is a series of correspondences between a junior devil or ‘tempter’ Wormwood, and his ‘uncle’ Screwtape, where uncle Screwtape advises his nephew on how best to lead the human, described as ‘the patient’ he is tempting astray from God and the road to salvation and towards a petty-minded self-concerned cynical intellectual materialism, which CS Lewis satirically alludes suits the devil so well.
It’s not necessary for the temptee to do anything particularly evil to find himself drawn into the devil’s party, merely when the thought of eternity, heaven and salvation may come in the way, be distracted into forgetting all about them by thoughts of lunch, or the passage of the number five bus and the front page of the newspaper.
As Screwtape later says:
“The safest road to hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, milestones, without signposts.” Conversely the road to heaven and the glimpse of the transcendental can be achieved in the most mundane of actions as Screwtape admonishes Wormwood and accuses him of allowing the patient to slip through his fingers when he allows him to read a book he really enjoyed, then compounded this by letting the man walk down to the old mill (a walk through country he really likes) and have tea there, alone. By allowing the patient two real pleasures his soul edges closer to God and out of the grip of hell.
Screwtape wants to eradicate any pleasure that is not actually a sin, such as a fondness for country cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa because “there is a sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them”.
CS Lewis’ demonic tempters bear a similarity to the Operators except that they have not revealed themselves to the ‘patient’ but exist, just as the Operators were said to exist to normal people, as a voice which most people assume to be the voice of their own thoughts and ideas. It is only at the end of the book when the ‘patient’ is killed during the war by a falling bomb that he finally glimpses these spirits which have guided him through life for better or worse:
“There was a sudden clearing of the eyes and he saw you for the first time, and recognised the part you had had in him and knew that you had it no longer. Just think (and let it be the beginning of your agony) what he felt at that moment; as if a scab had fallen from an old sore…”
For Lewis, death is where we glimpse these opposing factions continuously trying to direct and gently nudge the soul either to heaven or hell and the patient, finally breaking free from Wormwood and seeing his part in influencing his thoughts while alive, it is as if “he shuffled off for good and all, a defiled, wet clinging garment.”
From Lewis’ vision and the classical orthodoxy of demonic beings it is generally understood that they exist apart from the kingdom of God and are antagonistic to both it, and mankind which is an emanation of this kingdom since it is also generally considered within all of the literature of the world’s religions and metaphysics, that man has some divine spark, some small portion of the creator within himself. I always find this passage intensely moving and Lewis’ astonishing description of what might happen at the moment of death and passing to the next life seems itself to be so radiantly full of light and understanding that I am humbled by his eloquence and the beauty of his vision:
“As he saw you, he also saw Them. I know how it was. You reeled back dizzy and blinded, more hurt by them than he had ever been by bombs. The degradation of it!—that this thing of earth and slime could stand upright and converse with spirits before whom you, a spirit, could only cower. Perhaps you had hoped that the awe and strangeness of it would dash his joy. But that is the cursed thing; the gods are strange to mortal eyes, and yet they are not strange. He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them, he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time’. All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered.”