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Devolution, by Dane Rudhyar, 1952. Image Copyright © 2001  by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.

by Dane Rudhyar, 1952

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Part Six - November-December 1951

I am trying to recall what was my first feeling after I read the long letter. I think it was, "This is madness . . . sheer madness!" For a long time, I had neither thoughts nor feelings. And out of the blankness there grew pain, and bitterness . . . and anger. Darkness pounded at me, trying to choke me. Perhaps it was self-pity turned aggressive, a violent rebellion against my fate, in which old memories piled up, re-awakened, in disarray.
      Was it my love of Emerald, broken, smashed, that hurt so? There was that, of course. Was it anger toward Ron, my friend? Yes, that too. But there was something still more poignant, still more bitter and devastating I know it well now. I had failed. I had been called, and had not answered. Maybe it was all madness, Ramar was insane, an impostor, or worse I tried to tell myself. But I couldn't believe it, try as I might. I fought. I rebelled. I hated. Still, when I remember his eyes, I knew . . . what? I could not tell. To know and still not to know and feel defeated. This was unbearable.
      Because I could not bear it, I tried desperately to forget everything. I tried hard. I struggled to remain angry and resentful, to lash my bitter thoughts against Ron and Emerald, to sneer at their ghostly presences in my mind. I dared their memories within my heart. Jacqueline came into my office as my secretary and more! She was willing, too willing. I tortured myself, after hectic evenings in night clubs, of drinking and lust, to see her in the chair Emerald had occupied. I watched her pretty face become sunken and sallow from sleeplessness and excesses.
      I had to buy and write stories for the magazine. The man who replaced Ron was ineffectual. I worked harder. I resorted to chemical stimulants "pep pills" to keep up the crazy pace. I sought weird inspiration in artificially induced dreams which progressively filled up with erotic, sadistic scenes unusable material. I was even called down to the publisher's office for printing "borderline" stories. "One must not go too far, you should know! What's the matter with you, anyway. You look wornout. Take it easy, for heaven's sake!"

One day, during a hot October spell, at an endless business meeting after a particularly insane night in Harlem, I blanked out completely. I was rushed to the hospital. The doctors prescribed complete rest, said something about my kidneys, my heart. I was full of toxins, worn down to the bones, it seemed.
      The publisher sent me to Florida for recovery. Another editor in the company temporarily filled in for me. I heard Jacqueline had been fired; the poor girl had too much of the fast life as well. It didn't help to make me feel at peace. Yet, I was so tired, I finally lapsed into a state of vegetative torpor, helped by sedatives. I lay on the warm sands of the beach. I did not think, did not feel . . .
      It was then that I began to hear, very distant yet clear, what seemed to be Emerald's voice. "Please, Dick, try to understand! Let go . . . Try to believe. Try to feel!" It would come especially in the late afternoon as I watched the sun drop into the waters of the Gulf, a ball of orange shrouded in mist.
      One day, the sky was extraordinarily clear. I was staring at the sun, as it touched the sea, far, far away. I watched the big golden circle. It seemed like a consecrated host, held by an invisible priest who now placed it slowly back into the chalice of space rimmed by the horizon. I watched the disc was nearly gone. . . it disappeared. Suddenly a flame of brilliant green flashed from the sea where the golden sun had been laid to rest. Green flame. . . Emerald! And I saw her vividly, standing in the paling sky, smiling.
      Our present age would call this a hallucination, I am sure. Perhaps it was. And yet, in that moment, something indescribable happened inside of me. It was as if something turned over, and nothing after that was quite the same. A peace which I had not known for so many months settled in me with the gathering dusk. I stood, very still, facing the western sky and lo! an evening star grew brilliant some distance above the horizon. I felt sure it was Venus. And wasn't that Mars, that reddish star, still farther up in the sky? A coincidence?
      The evening chill made me shiver. I hurried back to my room, fell on my bed and slept a very long time.

It was a couple of days later. I was sitting in the hotel lobby after dinner when a middle-aged woman approached me.
      "You are Dick Probeck, the editor of Interplanetary Tales, are you not?" she asked. Her voice, her face, were quite lovely, with a rather unusual quality a foreigner perhaps; yet she had no accent. She went on, "I heard your name called by the clerk a few days ago, and I have thought of speaking to you ever since, but did not wish to intrude. Then, last night, I had a vivid dream. I was asked to speak to you . . . by Ron."
      I was started. "By Ron? Do you know him? Where is he?"
      "You might have heard him speak of me. I am the friend he saw a good deal of, before . . . before he left . . . us." She smiled. "My name is Sonia Ladonin."
      I remembered the name. So this was the woman who had interested Ron in mysterious things, "occult ideas!" I had never met her, but she fitted his description well. Born of Russian parents, I recalled, somewhere in South America. Her father was an archaeologist; had been killed in the Andes while exploring some ruins, just after World War I. Her mother had taken her to California, where she grew up.
      I offered her a seat. I felt an inner excitement grow. I asked, "You spoke of a dream?"
      "Yes," she answered, looking far away, as if seeking to recall a half-forgotten scene. "It was a dream, but a very intense one. I saw Ron's face clearly. He was looking intently at me, and he was saying: 'Talk to Dick Probeck. Talk to him. Tell him we are well. Tell him . . . I woke up suddenly. It seemed so strange that I had heard your name just a few days before! I had known the name, of course. Ron often spoke of you . . I am not sure what this means, but I am certain it is a real communication. You may think, of course, what you wish, if you don't believe in dreams."
      "I believe, and I don't believe!" I said, with some hesitation. "I wish I could be sure . . . sure of so many things. But tell me, have you heard from Ron since he left? Did you know he was leaving? Did he tell you all that happened just before?" I looked at Sonia Ladonin eagerly. Was the mystery to be solved? Could she have known Ramar? Did she know where they went, and why they went? So many questions rushed through my mind!
      She spoke lowly, looking straight into my eyes. I felt she was trying to sound me out; to find out how much I knew, how much, perhaps, she was to say.
      "I have not heard from Ron. At least, there has been no letter. I do not know where he is. But I feel sure he is well, and on a great task. I have faith in him."
      "Did you ever meet a Mr. Ramar?" I asked. I was not sure it was right of me to mention his name to her, but I had to know, to try to understand.
      "The day before he left," she said, "Ron phoned me. He told me he had met an extraordinary person. He said wonderful things had happened to him so wonderful they could not be told casually; not then, for he had to leave at once. He asked me to have faith . . . assured me I would know, in time."
      "Did he mention anyone else?" I had to say it.
      She looked at me even more intently. Then her face became very quiet. She smiled a little. "Yes, Mr. Probeck. He did say he was not going alone. I think I understood what he did not say. But, I believe you know far more than I do?"
      I didn't answer. She said, "Perhaps you will tell me? I think I could understand. You may know that I am not unaware of things which most people today dismiss as fairy tales, superstitions or impossibilities. Of course, I was upset at first by Ron's departure. We had been very close. I loved him . . . I still do. But real love is not possessive, is it? I am glad for him if he has found what his heart and his spirit were seeking so eagerly. I am glad . . . for them. I find happiness in the thought that I may have help him, possibly, in being more ready for what I somehow feel has happened."
      "But what? What has happened, besides love? I loved Emerald too?"
      "Emerald? A beautiful name. I see you have been greatly hurt. Pain too can be a path, as can love."
      "A path?"
      "If you do not know that love is a path to God, then you have not really loved nor understood what we name God." Her voice was very soft, very gentle. I bent my head. There was a long silence.
      Finally, she rose and said, "I had better leave you now. If you wish to see me tomorrow, I would be happy to talk with you. It was very good to meet you. I think I understand now why I had the dream."
      I was confused. I felt weak, like someone getting out of bed for the first time after a long illness. All I managed was a muttered "Good night."

I returned to my room, I imagined myself in the midst of a desert, walking among dry shrubs, where roads which look impressive on the map are just faint marks of tires and hoofs. And the imprints of men and beast fork out, as they come to a waterless river. Which is the way? One cannot be sure. It was so difficult to know. There is no one to ask.
      I sat down heavily. I stared through the large window, into the night. "Pain and love," she had said, "paths to God." I never thought of God. "Intelligent people" don't do that anymore in big cities or should I say, "intellectuals?" Pain and love. Very romantic, wasn't it? What did I know about love, anyway? And pain. Hadn't I nearly killed myself to escape pain, the pain of seeing myself as I was?
      I knew, at last, that there is never any escape. I knew that somehow the new beginning I had shrunk from making would confront me again . . . in this life, perhaps in others, who can tell? . . . if I chose the wrong path, the path of "Escape." There is no escape. Even time is no escape, it turns and bites you, scorpion-like, with its tail!
      Sonia Ladonin was right. Perhaps she knew a great deal.

Read Part Seven

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Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
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Illustation ("Devolution" by Dane Rudhyar, 1952)
Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
All Rights Reserved.

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