In this particular lifestyle the motto is “Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying,” but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory.
Any given man sees only a tiny portion of the total truth, and very often, in fact almost … Weh! steck’ ich in dem Kerker noch? Verfluchtes dumpfes Mauerloch, Wo selbst das liebe Himmelslicht Trüb durch gemalte Scheiben bricht! Beschränkt mit diesem Bücherhauf, Den Würme nagen, Staub bedeckt, Den bis ans hohe. … perpetually, he deliberately deceives himself about that little precious fragment as well. A portion of him turns against him and acts like another person, defeating him from inside. A man inside a man. Which is no man at all.
“It’s Chung Fu,” Juliana said. “Inner Truth. I know without using the chart, too. And I know what it means.” Raising his head, Hawthorne scrutinized her. He had now an almost savage expression. “It means, does it, that my book is true?” “Yes,” she said. With anger he said, “Germany and Japan lost the war.” “Yes.”
These parallel worlds are a knotty problem, he realized. I wonder how many exist. Dozens? With a different human sub-species dominant on each? Weird idea. He shivered. God, how unpleasant . . . like concentric rings of hell, each with its own particular brand of torment.
Below lay the tomb world, the immutable cause-and-effect world of the demonic. At median extended the layer of the human, but at any instant a man could plunge—descend as if sinking—into the hell-layer beneath. Or: he could ascend to the ethereal world above, which constituted the third of the trinary layers. Always, in his middle level of the human, a man risked the sinking. And yet the possibility of ascent lay before him