Of course, this did not necessarily mean that Yu had any real understanding of the four seasons. Facts about them were easy to learn. He was taught by the computer learning machine that the four seasons were caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis.
However, this had only been the case up to the time of the Great Destruction. In the city where Yu was now living, the four seasons were merely artificial creations controlled by the computer. The entire city was completely covered by a giant transparent dome. A change of season thus no longer had anything to do with the tilt of the Earth's axis.
The domed city called Oedipus was built on the ruins of an ancient city which had been demolished at the time of the Great Destruction. The original city, once located on the coast, had a most distinct yet delicate change of seasons. Thus those who longed for the city before the Great Destruction designed the new city to include four seasons as a part of the city environmental control program.
Yu had not been feeling well for more than a month. Each cell in his body seemed to have accumulated a sensation of dark fatigue. He had no appetite, nor had he been sleeping well. He often had nightmares. When he was awake, he was distracted most of the time, accomplishing nothing.
Alone with the computer learning machine in his room, he was not in any condition to be able to focus on studying. Yu's grades, which were statistically categorized and reported weekly, continued to decline rapidly. Last night the display screen in his study room gave a message in a blinking, orange color which said, "--tomorrow, visit the psycho consultant. To prepare for the `Silver Ceremony'--"
The computer learning machine installed in each household was connected to and operated by the city's main computer, which controlled every function of the domed city. The city computer thus played the role as teacher for tens of thousands of students at the same instant.
Yu held his breath for a moment. The blinking, orange-colored letters meant that it was not an automated response from the study program but that the main city computer was communicating directly with him. This was the third time this had occurred. The first had occurred just before the Golden Ceremony. The second time was about three months ago and had also told him to visit the psycho consultant.
All citizens of Oedipus City, regardless of their age, were expected to obey the computer's commands. It was also considered absolutely taboo to tell anyone about the computer's direct contact with you. No one ever tried to break this taboo. It would be more accurate to say that no one could. Indeed, it could be said that Oedipus citizens were raised by the city computer. The standard patterns taught by the city computer penetrated deeply into their unconscious minds. The network of the city computer extended literally everywhere into the daily lives of all citizens. It was the only available toy infants could play with, the only teacher for students--and also their only friend.
Yu came to the business district of the city as he had been instructed by the city computer. He was really not excited about this visit. The psychological disturbance he had been experiencing the past three months had actually begun when he first met the psycho consultant. What would happen this time? Nonetheless, he knew he must meet the psycho consultant this evening. It was his obligation.
In addition to the east section of the outskirts, where Yu was living, the city contained three other sections, north, west, and south. Yu, however, never stepped into the other areas. Tall stone walls one mile in length were built between each area and no entrance was visible from outside. But what blocked the way between each area was not simply a physical barrier, for on the other side beyond the wall was believed to be a taboo territory. This belief constituted a mental block buried deep in each citizen's unconscious mind and was what enabled the myth of the other side beyond the wall to be maintained forever.
The east area as a whole was shaped like a park. Nestled among the trees, grass fields, and ponds were gigantic high-rise buildings, each capable of holding several thousand households, Where the countless residents lived. But even from the roof of these high-rise apartment buildings, one could not see into the adjacent northern and southern areas. The stone wall, separating each area, was that high. Yu himself sometimes thought that the actual stone walls were much lower and that anything above was a three-dimensional visual trick that the city computer was somehow projecting.
There were underground highways between buildings in the east area, and to go to the city center, you had to take the express subway. You could arrive at the station of the city center in thirty minutes once you got on the train.
The city planner designed the city to have all motorized traffic buried underground, thus leaving the citizens no choice but to go to places on foot above ground. The moving vehicles for individuals which had once existed before the Great Destruction no longer existed. The factories and power plants to support the lives of citizens were buried even farther underground. The cultured plankton farms providing food, along with the food-processing factories, were also buried deep underground.
In the middle of the east area, surrounded by greenery, was a white high-rise apartment complex where Yu and his mother had been living since he was born.
Since children's education was done by computer learning machines existing in each household, there was no school in Yu's world. When Yu was very young, he played with other kids in the neighborhood but in the last several years he had rarely seen any other children. This isolation started when Yu, like all adolescent boys, completed the Golden Ceremony and began confining himself at home with his mother. From that moment on, life's meaning began to change completely.
It was four years ago when the orange-colored message first appeared on the display screen of the computer learning machine. The night before, Yu experienced a wet dream for the first time. The beautiful naked woman who appeared in his dream, seducing the innocent boy, was, of course, his mother.
Yu had never had a girlfriend nor even any chance to get to know a girl. It was the same for all boys in the east area. All the east-area residents were families comprised of only mother and son. There was no exception.
Yu loved only his mom, and his mom loved only Yu. Since Yu had been born, there was nothing to interfere with this deep affection, thicker than butter, between mother and son. It was natural for Yu, who was at puberty, to have a wet dream. And in the east area, where he had been raised, it was also only natural that his mother was his sex object.
On the night after his wet dream, the message Yu had seen in orange-colored letters on the display screen read: "You have grown up. The Golden Ceremony will take place tonight. By midnight, prepare for the ceremony as instructed." Yu vaguely knew that the Golden Ceremony was the first ritual ceremony to become an adult. Boys who completed the Golden Ceremony were allowed to wear a gold ring on their left hand. The ceremony that took place between mother and son would begin in flaring pleasure and ecstasy. At midnight, Yu's bedroom door had opened. There was his mom, still young and beautiful; and as in his dream of the previous night, she was totally naked. The only light in the room was the dim light from the display screen. The city computer was watching Yu and his mom. Yu understood these matters.
As he was instructed, Yu, who also was completely naked, pored honey on his palm and carefully rubbed it onto her white breasts, belly, buttocks, and thighs. Then he licked off all the honey he had just rubbed over each intimate region of her body.
Yu felt something hard rising between his thighs. That night at the very peak of the Golden Ceremony, Yu was invited into his mother's body for the first time. He inserted his rock-hard penis deeply into the same dripping wet hole he had emerged from when born and exploded white liquid inside.
After the Golden Ceremony, Yu and his mother began sleeping naked every evening. Never having previously experienced sex, Yu found himself becoming more and more deeply involved in these erotic experiences; the mother, who was longing for his young body, never tired of seeking her own unlimited pleasure. From that time onward, Yu rarely left the house.
Someone was calling his name with a clear, soft voice. Yu immediately turned around and discovered a girl with a slender, gentle body standing behind the plantain tree. Her long hair was waving in the breeze. Yu called the young lover's name.
"What happened to you, calling me so suddenly?"
The girl looked into Yu's face, worriedly. The two started to walk slowly along the promenade, and after a few seconds, Yu muttered, "I must see the consultant again."
"You should go ahead and see him."
"Yeah. But ... for some reason, I'm worried."
"Why? He is a good man. After all, we got to know each other thanks to him."
Trying to cheer this young lover who was somehow depressed, Ai squeezed his arm. By pressing part of her body against his, she was trying to channel her fresh energy directly into his soul and body.
Ai could never understand the reason for his low spirits. For his part, Yu had no intention of blaming her for what he was feeling. "It was my fault," he muttered to himself, biting his lips gently. "Last week, even after the terrible ordeal in the bedroom at the Silver Palace, Ai is trying to cheer me up as if nothing ever happened to her. Ai is so kind and she must really love me.'
Three months earlier, after receiving his second direct communication from the computer learning machine, Yu visited the psycho consultant in the office complex in the city center, as he had been instructed. The psycho consultant had a sad and serious look on his face. Until then, he never met an adult man face-to-face at such close range.
After a meaningless short conversation regarding Yu's mother-child relationship, Yu was taken for his first visit to the Silver Palace by the psycho consultant. Until then, Yu had no idea that there was such an institution as the Silver Palace for adolescent boys and girls.
The Silver Palace was located in a park full of greenery which was rather unusual for the city center. There were big and small restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, playhouses, discos, bars, pool, game centers--every kind of entertainment imaginable had been set up for young people, not only for boys of his age but girls as well. The psycho consultant took Yu into the great Silver Palace, showing him everything from the basement to the roof top. Listening to the exciting music and enjoying his first alcoholic drink, Yu became mesmerized by the festive atmosphere. Eventually he was introduced to a girl--his first meeting with Al.
"You guys can now use this Silver Palace anytime you want," the consultant told Yu and Ai.
Yu then asked, "But, my mom ..."
"Your mother knows you are leaving home to prepare for the Silver Ceremony. She won't be in your way."
Yu spoke to the girl, his eyes cast down as if looking at something too bright, "So, Ai, where is your home? Where were you raised? How's your mom?"
The psycho consultant answered in place of the girl. "Ai does not have a mother. Girls are all raised in the protective institute in the south area. When they reach a certain age, the door to the Silver Palace will then be opened to them. This is the place for young girls and boys to find a partner."
"Why are you so down? You're not feeling well?"
"My mom took me to a hospital yesterday, but after the automated medical examiner checked me, he said there was nothing physically wrong with me."
Yu began to explain that he had gone to the hospital, without thinking much when he suddenly felt a tension from the body who was walking next to him. Feeling a terribly sharp pain in his heart, he immediately regretted what he had been saying.
"I'm sorry, Ai. I just said that without thinking. As I promised, I'll never talk about my mom. I won't."
Yu looked at the girl's face; seeing that her eyes were filled with tears, he hurriedly looked away. The girl shook her head violently like a child. Tears began to roll down her face.
Yu didn't know what to do. He felt terrible about saying something he shouldn't have. Touching Ai's shoulders with both his hands, words started to pour out of his mouth, even though he didn't know what he wanted to say.
"Ai, please listen. I like you more than my mom. It hurts when we are apart. It's true. I hate the night time. I hate to sleep with my mom naked. I want to sleep with you. And tonight, Ai, I'm sure I can. Please wait for me at the Silver Palace. I will meet you there after my meeting with the consultant.
After saying this, he felt like some enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He realized the reason he was not feeling well was that he was blaming himself for feeling more attracted to Ai than to his mom. "I want to be your partner, Ai," he said solemnly. "Really, I'm quite serious."
The girl raised her face and nodded. The boy drew his lips to her eyes, tasting the salty taste of her tears. The sun was setting; above the transparent dome, a silver arrow flew across the sky and disappeared. It was a giant spaceship which had lifted off from the spaceport located outside the dome. As the young couple began walking down the deserted street toward the Silver Palace, the girl said weakly, "I'm sorry I cried, Yu."
"You don't have to apologize. It's my fault."
"I learned for the first time the meaning of jealousy after I met you. I don't want to think about your mom. Such thoughts hurt me. They hurt so much that I start to hate your mom. Because she is keeping you all to herself. There is no place for me, no space between you and her."
The girl's confession eased the confusion Yu had been feeling. He thought, "Ai is jealous of mom for me." Suddenly feeling much happier, he decided to tease Ai a little. "You know, I feel jealous too. That consultant says really nice things about you."
The girl blushed and cried out softly, "That's a lie!" She then continued to talk quickly. "I was just very curious. Because obviously it was the first time that I had talked with or even seen an adult man that close."
Yu drew his eyebrows closer, thinking deeply. As far as he knew, all of the residents who lived in the east area's high-rise complexes were but mothers and young sons. In other words, there was absolutely no chance to see an adult man in the east area. Around the time when a son was becoming an adult, the mother and the son apparently moved somewhere else in the city. Their vacant home was soon occupied by a new mother and a newborn baby.
When Yu was about four years old, his mother took him to a shopping mall in the city center where he saw an adult man for the first time. The mall was filled with mostly mothers and their sons, along with some boys or girls walking by themselves or in small groups. In the crowd Yu saw a strange man who was tall and muscular, wearing dark clothes and a serious look. He was so scared that he clung to his mother. The mothers with children who saw the man looked down in a hurry and cleared the way to avoid him as if it were bad luck to see him. The man's face left a sad and indelible impression on the young Yu.
Yu knew that there must be an equal number of male and female children born, and in fact, there were many boys in the area in which he lived.
"Why are there so few adult men?" Yu muttered.
"Yu, have you ever heard a rumor that all the adult men are sent to outer space? It is said that since Earth became an almost uninhabitable star after the Great Destruction--and humans can only manage to live in domes like these which protect them from exposure to radiation, poisonous gases, or viruses--mankind has no choice but to prepare for a migration that has not yet been completed. So once men have produced offspring here on Earth, they are sent to space to construct the space migration city."
"I heard the rumor too. But neither my mom nor the computer learning machine teaches us the truth clearly. I'm going to talk about my mom, but don't get mad, OK? This has something to do with our future and is very important."
The girl nodded in silence, and Yu continued to talk in a low voice. "One day, my mom told me where I was born. She said there was an ocean."
"It must have been in the west area, because that's the only area with an ocean. I once saw a map of this city before it became Oedipus City, when it wasn't yet covered by a dome. My friend and ! tricked the computer learning machine into displaying it on its screen."
"Then, the west area is the place for us to go. There must be somewhere for a couple to live together. The east area is the place for mothers and sons. The south area is for girls only. Only the west area and the north areas are left."
"Yu, girls grow up in the south area; after finding partners at the Silver Palace, they have children in the west area. If it's a girl, she and her mother will be sent to the institution in the south area; if it's a boy, they move to the east area. Boys who are raised by their mothers will meet girls from the south and fall in love and move to the west area to have a new home. When a child is born, the man who has fathered the child will depart for space ... But, Yu, what happens to mothers who are left behind after their sons move to the west area with their wives? There's no home where only mothers live in the east area, right?"
"Right. So mothers who are left by their sons must live in the north area."
"The city center, the east area, the south area are all connected by an underground highway, but there's no way to get to the west or the north area from the center."
"There must be a way! We just don't know it." Yu was getting excited. "Listen, Ai, when I meet with the psycho consultant tonight, I'll ask him how to get to the west area. Okay?"
At the end of the plantain-lined promenade a huge silver tower loomed in the dusk. This was the Silver Palace.
"Yes, Yu, of course! Please come as soon as possible. I'll wait for you without eating. I'll be in a disco."
The girl waved through the glass entryway and ran into the Silver Palace.
Yu felt depressed and had no appetite. He went through the motions of eating, pushing food far back in his throat, forcing himself to swallow, playing with a fork. When he began to feel nauseated, he held his breath; breaking into a cold sweat, he tried to keep from vomiting.
The yellow thing which was stuck to the meat was supposed to be natural cheese, but cold now, it was like soft plastic against his tongue. The dark red, slightly burned bacon looked like the intestines of a dead animal. Looking at the remains of the food, now on the verge of vomiting, Yu suddenly stood up, covering his mouth with his hand.
"Yu, what happened?" his mom murmurred in his ear. "This is your favorite food. You're still so young and must eat more. Your mom cooked it just for you." Her sweet and cloying whisper filled his head, reminding him of a saturated sponge. Her voice was so rich with love that its sweetness sickened him.
Yu jerked his shoulder away from her clinging touch. Staring at his knife, having totally forgotten about the meal, he felt his nausea retreating. "The knife, the silver knife ... The silver knife is in my room," he was thinking.
After leaving Ai in front of the Silver Palace, Yu walked alone past the skyscrapers in the city center. When he arrived at the consultant's, he was taken to the same dark and quiet room he had been in before.
Yu lay down on the sofa as instructed. The consultant was sitting in a chair that Yu couldn't see.
"How are you and Ai getting along?" the psycho consultant asked in a deep voice.
With a discernible tension in his voice, Yu answered this question with another question. "If Ai and I decided to become partners, what would happen to us?"
"There is a place where only partners can live."
"The west area, right?"
The consultant slightly leaned in, but the emotionless face remained silent. It seemed that the consultant had no intention of answering Yu's question. But it wasn't just the consultant, the computer learning machine only taught that the Silver Ceremony was meant to formally acknowledge a man and woman as partners--nothing was said about the future.
Where those men and women who became partners would go was still a mystery, like destinations of the mothers who were left behind by their sons. Yu tried to reword his question.
"If we are accepted as partners, we can go to that place, right? So, how do we become partners?"
"That's easy--but also very difficult."
The consultant lowered his voice. The voice had a slight pressure, as if he were trying to hypnotize Yu. Yu felt like he was in a daze but he somehow sensed what the consultant was going to say before he said anything. Yu tried to suppress his thoughts. He just didn't want to think about it. "Easy and difficult?" Yu muttered, "I don't understand ..."
"Yes, you do. You just aren't trying to face this head-on. There was a custom called marriage before the Great Destruction. Sexual partnerships between men and women were the foundation of society. These families provided various social functions for the education and protection of children in the next generations. Our partner system is patterned after the old marriage system.
"It's easy in this sense. You and Ai are required to love each other not only mentally but physically to become mature sexual partners. That's all you need to do in order to be accepted as partners. But such a simple task can be difficult. Isn't that right, Yu? No, no, you can't deny it! You must say it clearly in your own words. You two applied for a use of a bedroom in the Silver Palace last week. You must tell me what exactly happened or what didn't happen there."
"... that ..."
Yu had a headache and felt dizzy. He was thirsty with anxiety. But he had to obey the psycho consultant. Through the orange-colored message on the display screen, the city computer had ordered Yu to let the psycho consultant handle everything. To disobey the psycho consultant would mean disobeying the city computer.
Feeling embarrassed to death, Yu finally pushed words out of his mouth. "... I couldn't do it, sex, I mean." The voice of the consultant had no mercy; it was as if he were beating Yu with a whip.
"You couldn't perform sex with Ai, right? But why is it? Yu, you have no problem having sex with your mother The gold ring on your finger is proof. Only those who have passed the Golden Ceremony can wear the ring. In other words, there is no physical or physiological condition preventing you from performing the sex act. You can have sex with your mother and cannot do it with your lover--whom you love so much that you want to be her partner Listen, the cause is not biological but psychological. It's all in your mind. Go ahead and think, think about the reason yourself."
Yu already knew the reason; he didn't need to think. "My mom got in my way. Every time when I tried to touch Ai's body, the image of the unhappy mother appears in my mind. It forbids me to touch Ai. `You are such a bad boy. How can you touch a woman's body other than your mother's? You came out of my womb and you will be always a part of me. I won't let you do such things. I won't allow you to do such filthy things'..."
"That's right, Yu. Your mother is the cause for your impotence. You must now make a choice. Mother or lover. You must decide which one to love."
"I've already decided on that. I'd rather live with Ai alone than with my mom. I really, really don't want to sleep with my mother anymore. I want to escape--to run away with Ai to somewhere where my mom won't be around."
"You cannot escape, because the image of your mother is in your mind. No one can escape from his mind. So the solution is easy: you must commit a murder. You must kill the image of your mother that is eating away at you and destroy this monstrous love which controls you and your creativity and independence. You understand, don't you? The psycho consultant can only give you advice; you must take responsibility for your own actions."
Yu's response was a half-scream. "But what can I do?" He really didn't know what to do. Ever since he was born his mother was the closest person to him--she was now almost a part of his own body and mind. How could he erase the existence of his mother within him?
Suddenly the words kill your mother echoed through and electrified Yu's mind. He felt the shock run through his body. He simply nodded as the consultant spoke urgently behind him.
"You can do it, Yu. This is the discipline that all boys in this city must go through. That's why we have the Silver Ceremony. Listen, Yu, you must do this!"
The consultant then placed something heavy and cold on Yu's palm. It was a small silver dagger.
"The Silver Ceremony is tonight. Leave the display screen on. The city computer will talk to you. Now listen carefully: without completing the Silver Ceremony, you and Ai cannot be sexual partners. Unless you and Ai become sexual partners, you cannot live together. You must remember that."
Yu clasped his hands over his eyes, pressing hard. It felt as if every wrinkle of his brain was being burned.
That night Yu once again could not perform at the Silver Palace. In front of Ai, who shyly opened up her body, Yu's penis remained miserably unaroused. On the bed, burying his face in Ai's young, firm breasts, he first screamed in despair and then began crying.
Suddenly, the orange-colored message appeared on the display screen. Startled, Yu glanced up.
"Now, we'll begin the Silver Ceremony. Take the dagger. Then keep looking at the screen. No matter what happens, you must not take your eyes from it."
Numerous red, green, and yellow lights began flashing on the screen. Yu found himself being sucked into this screen with its mysterious hypnotic power.
Powerful and even violent sensations started to fill his every cell. He could feel them penetrating his very fiber, tunneling deeper and deeper to extract the violence locked up at the bottom of his being.
Yu heard a door open. It must be mom! he thought. But the image that came with this thought seemed totally different today: dirty, disgusting, fat, sweaty, bad smelling--the very symbol of the human body's decay! It made him feel like vomiting.
The middle-aged woman was walking toward Yu, shaking her flacid hips and lower part of her body. She whispered to Yu, reaching for the organ between his legs. "Yu, come on. Take off your clothes. Make love to your mom. See, it's already so hard."
Yu's pants were already off. His penis, which was shrunken in front of Al, was straight up in the skillful hands of his mother. "I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!" Yu felt nauseous. Then even before he knew what he was saying, he screamed, "Don't. Don't touch my body."
"What are you talking about? Come on, Yu, let's go to bed."
Mother, so involved in her own desire, didn't seem to notice the mysterious tension in Yu's words. The tornado of lights on the screen were moving faster, its myriad light delivering intense messages to Yu's subconsciousness.
"Kill, kill, kill."
Yu's right arm started to lift as if it were controlled by some invisible power. Kneeling down to hold Yu's penis in her mouth, Mother didn't notice the mysterious tension in his voice. Despite the dark blue anger swirling around his entire body, Yu was almost ready to ejaculate as a result of her expertise. I am impotent in front of Ai because of this woman. I can't forgive her. I can't forgive her.
"Kill, kill, kill." The circles of light were still shouting. No, I can't forgive her. Kill ... Yu felt something was igniting deep inside the hot core of his brain. No, I can't forgive her. Kill, kill, kill. The silver dagger slowly came down on his mother's neck, as she was kneeling down. Yu saw the whole thing as if he were merely an observer.
The Silver Ceremony was over.
Immediately the blizzard of lights disappeared. The screen still displayed the orange-colored message. The bloody, naked body of the woman on the floor was lit with the dim light of the flashing orange-colored message on the screen.
Under the clear, shining sky, there was an ocean, slightly darker blue than the color of sky. Soft waves were gently bumping against the sand, churning up white foam. There were pine trees behind the beach and a cozy bungalow, in which anyone would want to stay at least once in his lifetime.
A man was looking at the scenery, feeling the strong rays of the sun even in the shade under the palm trees. It was the psycho consultant who sent Yu and Ai to the west area two years ago. Since then, the consultant had visited the west area several times, not to see Yu but to see Al.
Sea, beach, trees. These rich resources looked natural, but the consultant knew they were artificial. Outside the domed city was literally the world of death. Without protective space suits, any human being outside the dome would be destroyed immediately. Such severe conditions existed throughout the world. The Great Destruction had turned the entire Earth into the world of death.
The consultant spotted a young woman standing among the trees. He started to walk slowly on the sand toward her. It was Ai. He must confirm the results of the Bronze Ceremony.
As the consultant talked to the woman, gentle and low, she looked devastated.
The pregnant Ai's stomach was sticking out to its maximum. The due date must be very close. At the consultant's words, Ai slowly raised her face. Then, a small bronze container fell into the sand from her hand. It was what the consultant had handed to Ai several days earlier.
The consultant lifted the bronze container and shook it by his ear. The container was empty. The Bronze Ceremony had been completed.
"He didn't suffer, did he?"
The consultant continued. "Now, you can deliver your baby safely. You can hold your baby in your arms."
"... why? But, why?" Ai shouted suddenly. She covered her face with both her hands and sobbed uncontrollably for a long time.
"I loved Yu. I loved him so much. I gave him poison. Why? Why?"
The consultant put his hand on Ai's shoulder and said, "You can't blame yourself. There is nothing anyone can do. No matter how strong your love for Yu, you're totally powerless in front of the city computer's power. It operates on your subconscious mind. No one can resist it."
"But, I started to hate Yu, somewhere in my mind. That really hurts me."
"That's because I told you that you wouldn't be able to become a mother unless you completed the Bronze Ceremony. That is the order of this Oedipus City. You wanted to deliver a child. Then, when Yu seemed to stand in the way of your becoming a mother, you naturally started to feel some hatred toward your partner."
"No, no, you're wrong!" said Ai. "The baby started to grow bigger. Then Yu started to seem detestable. Maybe because I wanted to have my baby all to myself. Then, when Yu touched my naked stomach, I started to tremble with hatred."
The consultant didn't say it, but knew that her reaction was inevitable. The message that had been supplied to her subconscious mind by the city computer would explain what would otherwise seem like impulsiveness. The human psychological control system that was supposed to paralyze these violent, impulsive explosions was simply overridden by the computer and hatred flooded the mind--hatred that made it possible for a son to murder his mother or a wife to murder her husband. This was the secret of the psychological system that was controlling the minds of citizens of Oedipus City.
What caused the Great Destruction was not nuclear, biochemical wars. Rather, there was incurable social confusion on the global scale which lead to the final war. It first began in the developed countries in the twentieth century, and several centuries later, it spread to the entire world with the speed of cancer cells eating up human flesh.
The origin of the sociopsychological devastation of civilized society was the illness called family destruction. The sharp increase of adolescent crimes and family violence started to shake the fundamental framework of society. It was related to the incapacitation of the sociopsychological controls that had supported civilization ever since its beginnings. The sociopsychological control system was referred to as the Oedipus Complex.
In Greek mythology it was prophesied upon his birth that Oedipus would someday kill his own father and sleep with his own mother. He was doomed to live out his fate. This story was symbolic of various human desires. The prohibition and control of such desires enabled the construction of civilized society. In the twentieth century these prohibitions and the controls of the family and society began to collapse.
The power of the father was lost, and the psychological intimacy between mothers and sons became dangerously close. It was only a matter of time before psychological attachment turned into physical attachment. Sexual encounters between mothers and sons, witnessed by husband/father led to the son's murder. On the other hand, due to the too powerful influence of the mother, many sons became impotent in front of women other than their mothers. And many tried to escape from this spectacle by murdering their own mothers.
This flood of Oedipal desire ran out of control and completely destroyed the family structure upon which society was based. The final war was an all-out attack on the previously held values of civilized society--thus destroying the foundation of self control.
The few people who survived the Great Destruction constructed the domed city and lived inside it. They set up this complicated social-psychological system in order to avoid the revival of the Great Destruction. In short, the Golden Ceremony became the official acknowledgment of the sexual relationship between adolescent boys who have reached puberty and their mothers. The Silver Ceremony compelled the son, who has chosen another lover, to kill his mother. And the Bronze Ceremony described the murder of the husband by the pregnant wife. When the construction of the domed city was complete, the system was already set up. It was concluded that there was no other choice but to enforce this mysterious system in order to maintain a civilized society, liberated from Oedipal desire.
Unconsciously protecting her stomach by putting her hands gently over it, Ai asked the psycho consultant, "What will happen to me?"
"You will have a baby in this west area as you desired."
"But if it is a girl, they will take the baby away from me. Won't she be taken to the south area where I grew up?"
"That doesn't happen. Don't worry. You will have a boy."
Meanwhile, the consultant thought to himself, "That will not happen, my daughter. It was already genetically determined that you would have fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, just like you and Yu. The girl will be raised in the south area and the boy will be left in your arms. You will move to the east area with your son. Then, the twins you deliver will be guided by the psycho consultant someday to the Silver Palace, meet each other, and fall in love--just like you and Yu. Fate will repeat itself indefinitely. Only an exceptional human, immune to the poison spread by the city computer could escape this destiny. The man who has escaped must maintain the secret of Oedipus City and continue to turn the wheel of fate. Daughter, this is a cursed job ..."
"Now," the consultant spoke to Ai invitingly. "Let's go back to the bungalow."
The sea was reddened by the setting sun. The wind was chilly. Ai muttered dreamily, letting her long hair flow in the sea breeze. "My baby moved. I will never be apart from this child. No one can separate us. I can never love any other human being like I love this child. This child means everything to me."
The consultant shrugged and nodded to the young, dreamy pregnant woman.
Translation by Kazuko Behrens; stylized by Sinda Gregory and Larry McCaffery
KAZUKO YOSHIO BEHRENS received her M.A. degree from Cornell University in Asian Studies. She is a Ph.D. candidate in School of Education of UC-Berkeley, where she is exploring aspects of parenthood, particularly mother-child relationships through cross-cultural perspectives. She has translated many Japanese postmodern tales and essays into English.
SINDA GREGORY published an interview with and essay about Rikki Ducornet in the Fall 1998 issue of Review of Contemporary Fiction; the author of Private Investigations: The Fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Alive and Writing: Interviews with American Authors of the 1980s, she currently is Professor of English at San Diego State University.
LARRY McCAFFERY's most recent publication was Federman, A to X-X-X-X--A Recyclopedic Narrative (San Diego State University Press); currently a Professor of English at San Diego State University, his main activity is hiking near his home in the Anza Borrego Desert.
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|Publication:||The Review of Contemporary Fiction|
|Article Type:||Short Story|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2002|
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