The Mandate of Heaven revisits beliefs, rites and institutions established during the 11,000 years of patriarchal rule. slavery and feudalism, and places them smack in the middle of a modern context.
Assumed power and privilege, ad hoc departments, old laws, secrets, ancient scrolls violence, hard traditional attitudes play roles in the story.
Chapter Chapter 2
Innocent and not innocent
2 Innocent and not innocent
Vera Cosman called it her ‘chaise d‘incarcération.’ It was like no other chair she had ever seen. It was the largest, the softest, the thickest, the deepest and the most posh chair of the most pure white velvet seating apparatus held together by the strongest, the best and the heaviest wood that any forest could produce a priceless item worthy only of an oil-shiekh’s most beautiful, best and favorite sex-slave.
So here she was now for the third day, sitting in this luxurious chair upholstered with the richest white velvet in the world on beautiful solid heavy wood painted white. White the symbol of virginity – Purity! Power! … Precept! She thought.
Everything was white, walls, ceilings, doors, floor, furniture, everything. Solidly white, the same extreme brilliant white, all over. Everything that is except the big black letters on the rehab poster at eye level on the wall and of course, the remnants of a summer tan she had already begun before being taken by these men.
She felt swathed in purity by the so very soft feeling of the soft silk lined white satin lounging gown she had been given to wear.
Vera Cosman’s eyes took in her limited-view of the white expanse for the millionth time looking for a place to rest her eyes, a nail popped out of the wall, maybe just a spot less white than the rest. No, everything was equally white. Only the big black letters of the large poster jumped up screaming at her, “I AM A WOMAN.”
I AM A WOMAN. The words accosted her, attacking her psyche. I AM A WOMAN. The letters became devious in shaping and reshaping. I AM A WOMAN. White on top White to my left I AM A WOMAN White to my right White as far as my eyes can see with my fixed head. I AM A WOMAN. I’m all in white. My chaise of incarceration is white. White. White! I AM A WOMAN. Why white? Why am I tied up? Like some criminal? I AM A WOMAN. White poster on a white wall, big jet-black letters I AM A WOMAN. White sterile bones! I can’t move. I AM A WOMAN. I’m breathing air polluted by white. I AM A WOMAN.
White Black on white I AM A WOMAN. It’s black and white at the same time. That’s it. The issue is black and white with them. I thank myself for having had the intelligence to take good thinking courses. I AM A WOMAN. They have the “authority.” Self-given authority no doubt! I AM A WOMAN. What authority can they claim? Their own … and esoteric…I AM A WOMAN.
“A girlish notion,” indeed to change my name! They don’t call it that when a “girl” changes her name to that of her husband’s. I AM A WOMAN. I am not changing it to that of husband or father… I AM A WOMAN. Perhaps this is the problem. I’m making a real and permanent name for myself, a name of my own. I AM A WOMAN. A name made by me, for me and of me, a name that pertains to me as a rational being that reflects me, my existence and my mind, who I am, what I am … I AM A WOMAN.
Why shouldn’t I name myself for what I am in reality? We don’t call a doe a dostag! I AM A WOMAN. Damn. Damn! Damn it! I AM A WOMAN. This is going to make me crazy. I AM A WOMAN.
I can’t hear a thing. I can’t feel a thing. I AM A WOMAN. I’m all alone here no one to talk to. I AM A WOMAN. Damn it all! I AM A WOMAN.
This was the third day. Finally she screamed out loud “I AM NOT A WOMAN.” It may be that she was on her way to insanity.
Later in the day a quasi-musical knock at the door surprised her. It was so gentle, so respectful she almost didn’t hear it. She didn’t invite the party in. She knew that whoever it was had his own full consent to enter. She was the prisoner.
But whoever it was did not just walk in. The knock was repeated, as gentle and respectful as the first time. “Bastards!” she said to herself. They’re giving me “the feminine power” of permission to let them in. What a cockeyed definition of power!” She did not answer.
The man walked in. He was the image of serenity itself. An overabundance of proud-with-himself aura reflected itself in the way he presented himself, an unassailable confidence and unquestioned authority exuding from his demeanor.
Alert and competent he said, “Good day, my dear Miss Cosman. How are you? My name is Roman Pontifexus. I am the First and High Allman here that is I am the chief Administrator of the Imperial Parliament of Man. I’m sorry it took me so long to see you. I have been very busy, but I do wish to welcome you to our humble institution, my dear Miss Cosman. We are very happy to see you here. If there’s anything you need or want, or if there is anything we can do for you, please let us know. Your wishes will be immediately granted. We are most anxious that your stay here be as pleasant as possible.”
Trying hard not to show her contempt of his obvious self-given title and name, she said, “How do you do, Mr. Pontifexus. Would you please untie my hands and feet?”
“Please call me “Your First and High” Miss Cosman. This honours my position.”
“And please call me Ms your First and High. This honours me.”
Calmly he said, “My dear Miss Cosman, there’s such title. It’s not in the dictionary. It’s just a silly sound feminists came up with. It doesn’t have any meaning.”
“Usage gives meaning. It now has meaning for our gender through usage, your First and H…”
“Touche! Miss Cosman. Feminists can do nothing of the kind. All names come from Adam; all language comes from man.”
“How seminal!” she said as her body stiffened. This man was so handsome, so flawless in dress, so straight in stance with such well-groomed dark rust-brown hair, deep-set rust-colored eyes matching his hair, a precise self-educated voice and a pleasant nose exactly in the right place. He was tall, well proportioned, well-styled with muscles taut by highly disciplined exercise. He wore an expensive three-piece navy wool suit with a well-chosen rust-colored tie that capped his self-image of perfect manliness.
It was in the look of this all-too-perfect Atlas that the germ of deep contempt for this man started in Vera. As the exchange of words proceeded she could tell that the face belonged to a man who looks on and rejoices as a calm and confident spectator in the face of “feminine powerlessness.” And right now she was powerless. But staying fully aware!
“And now my dear Miss Cosman, I have a rather unpleasant task to perform. But it is rendered ever so much less unpleasant since I have a charming and beautiful girl such as you to deal with.”
“Girl?” she said, “I’m an adult.” She felt like screaming what she thought she really was but she kept her silence. She saw in her state of powerlessness that she didn’t know enough about what this abduction was really all about. So he went on unhindered by any volunteered facts.
“It is to my utmost regret that you refuse to sign the papers foregoing your choice of name. You have been so ill advised by those you depend on for good counsel out in the business world, that you have lost sight of reason and good taste. You’ve lost your sense of balance, Miss Cosman. God knows the world sadly lacks good business consultants today. I must admit man was certainly ill-prepared when woman demanded to participate in his world.”
Vera rolled her eyes towards the ceiling thinking, “You bastard!” But she had to listen to him. “You have to admit Miss Cosman, woman’s role in the world has not been clearly defined by man or he wouldn’t be in this mess. Miss Cosman, please respect me by looking at me when I am speaking to you.”
“That’s better. Now, because you refuse,” she turned her eyes away again, “to sign the retraction, our very learned philosopher-in-residence came to the conclusion that you have been brain-washed with all manner of ill-fitting and dangerous feminisms. That you have by now internalized these and made them part of your beliefs and personality. This is a very sad situation indeed, so very sad. My dear Miss Cosman we are here to help you. We want to help you to overcome these churlish ideas by showing you how to give up the puerile attitudes you hold. “
He knows nothing about who and what I am how I think or what I think, she thought as rage and anger started to fester inside. She was finding it harder and harder to control herself.
“So for your wise rehabilitation Miss Cosman, a very kind and I must add a very profound man of wisdom will come to you every day. He is the Psychologist-in-residence, Mr. Virel Andreus, an Oxford man, very learned. Isn’t that nice Miss Cosman?”
She wasn’t about to answer. He went on. “He’s a very intelligent man and very sensitive. So sensitive he’s practically feminist in his outlook. That’s very fortunate in your case, I would say. Don’t you think so?” She didn’t answer. He kept looking at her right in the eyes trying to make her look at him.
“He is to begin working with you tomorrow morning. I hope you will cooperate fully with him. He’s a very busy man so I do not want to see his precious time wasted, Miss Cosman.” He turned to leave.
But turning around again, he said, “Oh, by the way, I assigned you a personal attendant, a private servant of similar beliefs as yourself. I assume you’re of the Christian tradition. She’s a very caring woman. She is to be your very own “lady-in-waiting” this is her job description. She is to wait solely on you and your needs. She’ll be in shortly to introduce herself. She’s used to serving people; her whole life has been lived to the service of other people. She is the most marvelous woman you will ever meet. We chose her for you because she’s an exceptional role model for all women Miss Cosman, so we wish with all our hearts that you treat her well.” As she heard the door close, she said under her breadth, “Yes, your First and High Pontiff…” and made a deep imaginary contemptuous bow.
As he closed the door behind him an auxman, the name they had given to those who served the men in the IPM, rushed up to him. She made a deep bow of reverence to him and said in a put-on sweet thin feminine voice, “My First and High Allman, here are the papers my First and High Knowman commanded me to deliver to you.”
“Thank you my dear little canary. Run along now like a good little girl,” he said, passing his hand deftly over her round well-proportioned yellow-feathered bottom. The canary blushed and giggled on cue as she strutted off down the long luxurious hall precariously askew on inordinately high-heeled platform shoes, the little yellow tail of her canary uniform wagging seductively at him as he watched her until she was out of sight. “Such power these creatures hold over men. And they don’t even know it,” he thought shaking his head in total disbelief.
‘She’ who had remained nameless by His First and High Allman was the lady-in-waiting Vera had already met on the Monday of her incarceration. Lower status men in the IPM hierarchy had already consulted ‘she’ about a few things concerning Vera as they prepared to put her in her “chaise of incarceration.” ‘She’ was a soft pudgy blank-faced matron wearing the pasted-on smile that goes with the right table of traditional beliefs held together by rote at the tip of one’s tongue. Her career had been that of caregiver, seeing to the needs and comforts of others, mostly men. She knew her job well, and her place in the world. But strangely enough when she came in she would plant herself stoically between the much-hated poster and Vera to be face-to-face with her charge.
The first time ‘she’ had made her appearance Vera learned that her assigned IPM name was Constitute Ribman. So when she came in again shortly after His First and High Allman left Vera immediately asked, ”Did they make you take the name Constitute Ribman?” But all she got in reply was the stoic smile pasted on her blank face; there was no answer forthcoming from the animated robot who repeated over and over, ”My orders are to see to your every need Miss Cosman; you are my life now.”
Tears formed and ever so slowly trickled down Vera’s cheeks as she realized that she would have to use another thinking feeling being for all her needs and comfort. This went against all her values. She was even powerless to wipe away the tears. ‘She’ would have to render even this humbling service for her.