From Chapter 18: In which we attend a private poetry reading.

A third glass of wine, some Benzedrine dissolved in orange juice, and a dozen unknown authors later, Josie found herself slumped on a couch, lost in a cloud of tobacco and marijuana, listening to a theological argument between Noelia’s husband, and a blond man with a goatee wrapped in what looked to be a Hopi blanket, about whether the gender of the Maker affected free will.

She had long lost her handsome Jew. Kerouac had left too, back to his hotel, after reading just one poem. Apparently, he had found the “coolness” of Larry’s guests dreary and preposterous.

Lipton was recording the conversation between George and the man in the Hopi blanket. Because of that, and because they were heavily intoxicated, the two men preferred to speak in short sentences.

George entertained the idea that God was a woman: “She is everywhere,” he explained with a simper. “And because she is a mother, she knows. She’s warm and nurturing. She cares about you and she cares about me. She is everyone and everything. And it is because she cares, because she loves us so intensely, that she lets you be. It breaks her heart, but she lets you be.”

Josie disagreed. What is George talking about, referring to God as a woman? God cannot be a wimpish woman. God is man.

The man with the goatee snorted. “God doesn’t care,” he said. “That’s enough proof that he’s a man: women are nice and generous; God is a selfish dick.”

Josie concurred. She could barely keep her eyes open.

“There is no reward or punishment in the afterlife,” George’s interlocutor continued. “There is probably no afterlife. What for? God doesn’t care about what you do or what you are. He’s like a government official in charge of designing a new highway in a city he will never set foot in: he doesn’t care if he has to tear down a house or ten thousand. He listens to everyone in general and to no one in particular. He doesn’t think of today, tomorrow, or a couple of years from now. God’s plans span over millennia—over hundreds of thousands of years, over millions of years, when you and I and everyone else on this planet will cease to exist. What does he care if you kill or rape or steal? He’s planning to exterminate us all, anyhow, when he destroys this planet. That’s why we can, because he doesn’t give a shit.”

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Love, or the Witches of Windward Circle

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