BEAT THE DEVIL

by

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” — William Blake.

Satan (the Debbil’, Lucifer, Beezelbub, Ol’ Scratch) lurks at Mach 1. Mach 1 is a dream. The pious will tell you that when you dream, you are vulnerable to possession. To dream is a Faustian bargain unto itself.

The Devil is a phantasm of 1000 faces, but one guise is very familiar to those who are pushing speed’s envelope. Satan is a manifestation of the human impulse to defy mortality — an impulse that as often as not hastens and confirms our own mortality, I might add… This demon appears in the vaporous guise of pressure waves that develop around a projectile approaching the Speed of Sound. During and after World War II fighter pilots and test pilots talked about such a demon, a wind-whipped specter that would sprout wings, howl like a banshee, climb around and wrap itself around the aileron of their aircraft as it explored the outer reaches of stability.

Assuming that apparition was real — and ultimately tamed when the aircraft blasted through the sound barrier — does the Devil disappear when he has been found and conquered? Does he seek refuge somewhere else? In the very pages of the LA Times Magazine perhaps? In the guise of a scrivener named Bill Sharpsteen? If so, this was a preemptive move by Beezelbub, as he sensed Breedlove and Richard Noble were onto something in their pursuit of Mach 1… The Devil is a slippery bastard, after all…

“There is a moment in each day that Satan cannot find.” The moment the Devil cannot find is that same moment when the doors of perception are cleansed, and the horizons are infinite. The Devil is beaten and vanquished. It is a moment of Infinity — a moment that lasts forever and disappears in an instant. In that moment those who are mad enough to dare can wrap the entire universe into a speck of a matter a million times smaller than the head of the proverbial pin upon which a thousand angels sing… it is the mother of all metaphysical payoffs… in a Nietzschean sense, the Moment of Infinity belongs to the Human Spirit at its most Exalted…

It is a rarefied and brave being who dares to Beat the Devil and peer into both the Human Heart and the Laws of mass and velocity that truly guide the cosmos…

The devil dwells in the unknown. To beat the Devil is to claim the unknown. The Devil is beaten in the moment of Discovery. The moment when discovery becomes empirical, when unknown co-ordinates are charted. When mankind stakes a flag in the turf of mystic phenomenon. Because the pursuit of Mach 1 is nothing if not a turf war of empiricism with the Devil.

The moment Satan cannot see is the moment he shows himself. And the Devil is the very thing the Human Spirit cannot see — until the moment he spreads his wings. Only then is he conquered.

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