Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Order / HierCon / Army /
Service / Cuban Crisis / Whitehall Street early 1960s
Whitehall Street Induction Station is in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A contemptible easy “job,” however ugly and philosophically intolerable the circumstances, has turned insanely hard. We’re busy drafting Cubans to invade Cuba. On occasion I don’t even go home at night but catch a few hours sleep under my desk. I’m the only clerk typist who does the cases accurately, so the Army has learned to pile all the work on my desk, distributing only token work to the other typists. It’s OK, they’d only make me correct the others’ mistakes later anyway. The incompetent get promoted, the incompetent get three day passes every weekend. Their one reliable slave can never be promoted and can never be allowed a weekend. Imaginary reasons are routinely found to “punish” me so that I’ll work a six day week, up to eighteen hours a day while the others work four day weeks: about two hours of work, about five hours of staring at the clock.
One day I get my pile of cases done. There’s a moment’s respite. What do I do? Stare at the clock? Hide in the bathroom? No: I pull out my Tolstoy. I’ve been reading War and Peacefor months and months: going on years I suppose. Any five minutes I can spend with Andrew or Pierre or Marie or Natasha is precious.
The lieutenant walks in. He sees me reading. He sees the others, staring at the clock, picking at their cuticles, looking glacial … He says, “Knatz isn’t doing anything. Find him some work.”
Please understand: the lieutenant was supposedly an intellectual. He was using his army time to work on his Ph.D.: in psychology: behavioral psychology. [note]
Indeed he hired me once to come in on Saturday to do some typing for him. Fifty cents an hour or some such wage. I made sure he never asked me again. I typed his manuscript. Then asked if he wanted me to correct it. What did I mean: correct it? Oh, spelling, grammar, simple stuff. If he wanted me to edit it, I should get quite a bit more money. What did I mean: edit it? Oh, logic redundancy … I could rephrase your four pages more clearly as a single paragraph. I could then strip your single paragraph of its redundancies, reducing it to a single sentence. That sentence could then be tautologically demonstrated to be a truism. Your paper would evaporate: it wouldn’t need to be written at all: save everyone a lot of time.
No, just type it as it is, please. Uh, but do correct the spelling and grammar.
He never let me near any more of his personal work.
One week the work load was so heavy the whole crew was putting in extra hours. We’re dining out of Styrofoam at our desks for perhaps the fourth night in a row. The Colonel for some reason takes the stairs that evening: passes our open door, looks in. “Oh,” he says: surprised and apparently pleased: “you’re working late tonight.”
Fucking idiot. I’d been working from morning to night every day and night for months. The whole typing pool has been working late this whole week. But of course the commanding officer has no idea of what goes on in his station. Whitehall Street was set up so that there was no resemblance between job and job description, between theory and fact, between map and territory. In theory, the work was distributed evenly. See the above. In theory, the work was distributed evenly not only among those of similar to identical MOS (or army training code) but also between military personnel and civil service personnel.
Ha! Once my crew of college graduate English majors took over the typing pool, the civil service workers retired: right on the job. These veterans used to type three or four cases a day in quadruplicate. But once the collegiate slaves — draftees every one of us — could be forced to do the work, why should the civil service people do any of it? They no longer even had to type the one case they’d still do accurately, since the sergeant had taken to simply putting all the finished work on my desk for me to correct.
There was one civil service worker in particular who really disgusted me. All morning long she’d just stare at the clock waiting for her coffee break to come. She’d return from her break stinking of fresh martini. Then she’d stare at the clock till lunch time came. Once she returned from “lunch” she was incapable of focusing on the clock and would just slump at her desk until it was close enough to five to go home early.
Think of the time that would have been saved if they’d just mailed her her pay and let her stay home.
2003 11 15
One of the funny things about K. (how come I’m not laughing?) is how regularly reconstruction visits to files and sections still, as always, are under construction. Some coding or formatting nicety gets upgraded for the fourth time before the story takes the shape it needs to declare its most basic essence. Right now I’m redoing textured, colored backgrounds and adding for the first time borders within the module frame (that’s this one, the upper right, the one with the story) and my memory of the CO of Whitehall Street revealing that he had no idea of our hours or our work load comes happily upon the occasion of my first visit to TV’s X Files. 2003 seeing 1963 mapped onto 1993!
I’ve now seen X Files Season I, episodes 1 to 4. In I think it was 4 Mulder, the UFO believer, and Scully, the UFO atheist (bkMarcus’s perceptive contrast), investiage a “case” where we’re told that the recently missing girl is the daughter of a woman who’d gone missing, claiming abduction, decades earlier. Mulder and Scully are feds: FBI. The fed is blind to everything Mulder thinks he finds. The government’s right hand having no idea what its left hand doeth even when told.
The veteran abductee’s son receives digital codes from a TV always on, always tuned to no known channel. Mulder, our credulous “scientist” doesn’t recognize binary when he sees it! (Meaning that in 1993 TV could trust that the audience wouldn’t guffaw, the audience being trusted not to recognize it: not enough to be sure.) The FBI breaks all rules of decency to steal the code, indignant once they recognize the signal to be top secret! (revealing that the military is stealing alien technology, alien methods from alien wrecks) (now that’s the only art of the show truly unbelieveable: the military stealing hi-tech knowhow and not bragging about it, showing it off: intimidating the rest of the world!)
Anyway, the kid must have gone on taking code dictation because when the pair return to the house of alien wo, the floor is covered with more binary. Scully ascends the stairs and accidentally gets another perspective: the code is also a cartoon of the missing girl: the boy’s sister.
So: the boy is the only one who really knows what’s going on and where. The Harley bikers know more than Mulder and Scully. The military doesn’t know shit: it can only steal. The FBI doesn’t know shit: though it too steals. Mulder knows the next most after the boy (and the bikers). Scully knows the next most after Mulder. … And the fed knows the least of all. Except: somehow the fed also, paradoxically knows everything. Like the Church. The Church only hires, only promotes, the stupidest, most credulous people. Yet somewhere, buried in the Vatican, understood by some secret cardinals, is the truth!
2012 05 26 resurrecting, there are typos here I can no longer correct. I recognize a parallel here tough between what I said about X Files and what got blogged here about horror flix.
I don’t recall saying a total of two words to any of the civil service workers in my nearly two years there. I did get a note from the woman just introduced though. My girl friend was well known at Whitehall Street for showing up to meet me after hours. Everyone had been present when the Puerto Rican WACs were brought in to help me communicate with the Cubans. If everyone hadn’t seen the most amazingly beautiful, sexy, and jiggly of the WACs reach within minutes of sitting at my side under my desk to caress my groin, then they certainly sensed that something like that had happened. Etc. Anyway, this particular civil servant sends me a note: It’s a crude drawing of a women’s sex organs and asshole. There’s a hairy vulva, a gaping vagina, and an asshole. The asshole isn’t just gaping; it’s dripping. Plop, plop, plop … Little turds fall in a line from this bum. The caption below the drawing instructs me to “smile” if I like to “eat it.”
Why should I tell her? The woman turned my stomach. I couldn’t just smell her alcoholic breath, I could smell her: if you know what I mean.
And her smell wasn’t enticing. She wasn’t nearly as bad though as another civil servant who worked at Whitehall Street for a while. I’ve been in the public vicinity of many an unwashed pussy in my life but never one that stank like hers. She must have been diseased. By itself, with normal hygiene, normal pussy smells wonderful to a mature heterosexual male.
@ K. 2002 04 09
Perhaps I should add: Columbia University was famous for its studies of behavioral psychology. But in Columbia College, where we were told, and believed, that we were the smartest of all, psychology was revered; behavioral psychology was held in contempt: at least among the students that I knew. Believe me: I no longer hold behavioral psychology in contempt. But I did then: and still did in 1962-63, at Whitehall Street.