The Time Exchange
Chapter 3

Wallaringah Mansions was an elegant piece of nineteenth century architecture which had long since seen better days and was, in 1981, a cheap boarding house for those seeking refuge from the difficulty of finding affordable accommodation. It was cheap indeed with rooms starting from a meagre $28.00 a week, but a lot of them had million dollar views of the harbour with the Opera House just out of view opposite neighbouring Kirribilli.

I got a tiny little room with a fantastic view after spending a few weeks relying on the goodness of friends who let me sleep on their couch. I had only just returned from a couple of months in Europe and Egypt where I did something which in retrospect proved to be very foolish. I visited Giza and saw the pyramids which may seem like a fairly innocent thing to do. But it was foolish because late in the day I was still hanging around the base of the pyramid when, at sunset, I was approached by a representative of the Egyptian Antiquities Authority who allowed me to climb the first of the pyramids for the modest sum of five Egyptian pounds. It wasn't until I returned to Sydney that I realised that I had become involved in something which was really very scary. I felt like I was completely out of my depths and a subtle groaning panic had begun to grow within me.

You may be wondering what could be so scary about climbing a pyramid. Well, I was smoking a little cannabis at this point in my life, not a whole lot mind you, but enough to make me sensitive to the deep astral content which the tip of a pyramid unavoidably defines. I smoked a little before I moved in at Wallaringah, and while I was soaking in THC it slowly dawned on me that I'd just made the biggest mistake of my life. My jaw dropped and I gaped in horror as I realised that the pyramid was not a casually benign tourist attraction but a working sequencer of destinies. As if from a forgotten dream I recognised the new presence in my life. It was an ancient being, one whom I knew I could now never forget.

A few weeks later I was settling into my little room at Wallaringah. I was driving a taxi around Sydney's north shore about three nights a week. I was walking a lot of nervous energy into exhaustion, and I had begun to experience some intriguing aural and visual hallucinations. This may surprise you but at the time I was not particularly surprised. About a year earlier I decided to practice some of Castaneda's techniques for stopping the world which turned out to be a fairly risky behaviour. I found Castaneda's writing inspiring. It reminded me of some nearly forgotten early childhood experiences, and I believed that I could restore some of the perceptual skills I had lost when I became a member of society by practicing some of these techniques.

It wasn't long before I acquired some more cannabis, but it was several weeks before I mustered up the courage to take a puff of it.

I rolled the first joint at about ten a.m. and smoked probably half of it before sitting back against the wall silently anticipating a now forlorn confrontation with my distilled reflection. Experience with Castaneda's techniques allowed me to arrest the flow of internal dialogue, so my mood was fairly altered before the floodgates broke again and my body petulantly spun a new string of conversational prattle.

I mentally returned to the flat I shared with my girlfriend a couple of years earlier, to the place on the sofa where I read Wu Ch'eng-en's classic comic novel 'The Monkey King', about a monkey who came from Hawaii but who later accompanied Tripitaka on his long journey west to fetch the sacred Buddhist texts. The happiness I shared with my girlfriend mingled with the childlike innocence the monkey brought to every intrepid adventure. But when I traced the monkey's journey to India I began to compare the isolation of his island home with the solitude of Buddha, and then, in view of my Christian upbringing, with the unique experience of Jesus in first century Palestine.

It was at this point that, quite accidentally, I conceived of each character as representing a chakra echoing the Buddhist theme structuring the story, or as one of those psychic nodes located in the body, such as the belly, the heart, or the throat. Having made this perceptual connection I then conceived of the planet as an integral global organism consisting of head, abdomen and legs not unlike ourselves. It slowly dawned on me that the planet is a creature like so many other creatures. For the first time I saw that the American continents represent the hind legs of a planetary being. I saw how the African continent represents its fore legs, and how the creature's head may be found in the vicinity of Europe. I sat there dumbfounded, and for the second time in as many months, my jaw dropped as I slowly took in the awesome implications of this indiscriminate conception.

Now I'm writing this many years after I first conceived of the Host Model of Earth and in all this time I've never been in a position where I could seriously doubt it. Over the course of this time I've spoken to many people about the host model most of whom were partial to an acceptance of its validity. But you may be inclined to adopt a little doubtful circumspection when it comes to new ideas like the host model of Earth because doubt is a necessary part of your thinking. I've written at length on this subject in another volume which a quick search might uncover if you happen to be interested. My concern in the present context is not so much a discussion of the host model itself as an account of the circumstances surrounding its emergence in my thinking.

There are, however, a couple of things I need to draw your attention to in order to make my little story work here. The first thing to make clear to you is the implication that the planet is a being, a critter not unlike so many other critters, and consisting of all the attributes we normally associate with critters such as a possession of the faculty of mind. The planet is thus a being who is conscious. It is conscious of itself, its surroundings and of us as its cosmic beneficiaries. It is the being who is our immediate cosmic ancestor and the being with whom we may relate as reciprocal partners in the convergence we know as life. This may sound a little fanciful to you but remember: I'm a telepath and a schizophrenic. Such things are normal from my point of view.

The other thing I would like to point out to you concerns the unique identity which the people of Britain enjoy in the context of the host model. It is a very curious thing and probably the most profound observation I can draw your attention to, but the coastal outlines drawn around the British Isles represent an abstract depiction of the planet as a whole. In this case Scotland represents the head of this depiction, its forelegs can be seen to protrude west of Scotland's Southern Uplands, and its hind legs can be seen east of Land's End in the south of England. Ireland represents the creature's foetus which corresponds with the foetal identity of Australia itself strung at the end of an umbilicus, the Indonesian archipelago. You may need to turn your map of Australia upside down in order to realise its significance: head in the south east, rectum in the west, legs pointing north to the Equator.

The British Isles therefore represent the head of the planet, a kind of homunculus sitting on the planetary shoulders, and the British people the very summit of global society.

Now, out of deference to you the reader I feel it is my solemn duty to point out to you that, at this point in my story, we meet each other at somewhat of an impasse. Either you accept the validity of the host model in which case you will find that what follows is not particularly surprising or you cannot accept the validity of the host model in which case you may find that what follows is somewhat egregious. If you happen to count yourself among the second group then you may find that you are able to defer your feelings in this matter and give me a little credence so that I may attempt to make my case. In any case what follows is a very frank admission which nevertheless remains a vital component in the unfolding of my story.

Notwithstanding which group you happen to belong to my admission is concerned with how I came to represent the identity of the planet in my thinking about the host model. It was fairly early in my experience with the host model that I began to think of Her Majesty the Queen as Queen not only of England but of the entire planet. It seemed perfectly natural to me at the time to associate Her Majesty with the unique identity of the planetary being itself. This may not sound very shocking to you so let me add that it was around this time that I began to entertain a telepathic rapport with her. Of course, you may be inclined to suggest that a claim of this sort sounds suspiciously delusional to you, but I think you'll find that you're not in a good position to substantiate this view. Apart from claiming to possess telepathic powers you can't say there's much evidence of delusion in my literary behaviour so far.

Nevertheless allow me to allay these concerns by explaining that, as a telepath, I don't actually read your mind. I read my own mind. Since we are all made of electromagnetic energy we can't avoid being fields of electromagnetic radiance, and since I am a receptive electric field I can't help absorbing your radiance. The only real question is one of whether or not I go to the trouble of reading the radiance around me. I therefore suggest that we are all fundamentally telepathic. I only differ from you in terms of possessing an inclination to pay attention to the radiance I'm absorbing.

In spite of whether or not you believe in this sort of thing it is a perfectly innocent thing for me to pray with Her Majesty since she is the Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. I'm sure that members of the Catholic Church pray with His Holiness the Pope and think nothing of it, so I'm not going to cringe from this admission just because you happen to find it vaguely irritating.

I might also point out that, fairly early in the piece, the pyramid made clear to me that telepathic relations were to be expected anyway since the pyramid was not much more than a global consciousness exchange. I envisioned an image of the platform at the top of the first of the pyramids at Giza adorned with an old fashioned telephone which rang incessantly. I could answer a call, but as soon as I put it down it would ring again. I was given the impression that it was possible for me to make contact with virtually anybody on the planet if I happened to have some little snippet of information about them. And I believe the same could be said of anyone equipped with the inclination and a suitable point of view.

I had a couple of grams of cannabis left after this initial introduction to the host model. I smoked it very sparingly so I made it last several weeks during which time I became a little more acquainted with the ghost of Earth. Driving the night shift meant that I became a frequent visitor to the night. The night shift began at about three in the afternoon and went for twelve hours, but the day driver was often not ready at this time so I was often still at work around dawn. On my nights off I would wake up at about four in the afternoon, take in the sunset and then get about my personal business when it got dark. I liked the night. It provided me with an opportunity to practice my hallucinations.

It wasn't long before I was reading the Bible. I'm not a particularly religious person so I wasn't looking for spiritual comfort in my hour of need or anything like that. I grew up in a Church family and had read Bible stories before so I knew that there was a golden coloured pearly glow about a lot of the stories which appealed to me most of all. I started with the first chapter of Genesis and got as far as Psalms before I gave up and moved on to other things. I skipped Leviticus and Numbers, of course, because the narrative was somewhat interrupted in those books. If you're familiar with the Bible then you'll know that they make for tedious reading indeed.

I would sit up against the wall in my little room reading these stories in the evenings. My little room was shaped like a vertical oblong. The floor was about nine feet square but the ceiling was about fourteen feet high so it had a lofty air about it. The walls were painted a pale yellow colour and I had a yellowish lamp shade which cast a golden coloured gradient across the wall. I remember the year I spent in that little room with affection, and reading the Bible stories made me feel closer to the Earth spirit I knew I had been flirting with. I was still affected by my recent visit to Egypt, and reading about the Israelites in the Holy Land long ago helped me capture the sentiments so many other visitors to the place had enjoyed.

My little room at Wallaringah provided me with an opportunity to become more and more socially isolated which is something I enjoy. My increasing solitude later proved to be a decisive factor in the drama unfolding in my life, and I doubt that you could over-estimate its significance. All of life, it seems, is made up of implicit social agreements which are dissolved when an individual chooses to go alone.

Being alone wasn't an imposition to me. Even as a teenager I was pretty much a loner. In high school I wasn't a member of any particular grouping and I would float from group to group as it suited me. I felt very comfortable with my solitude. But the grating undercurrent of fear accompanying the ghostly presence in my life was taking a toll on me. While I was out walking in the city one day I bumped into a girl I knew before I started this journey, and she let me know in no uncertain terms that my demeanour had taken a turn for the worse.

Our paths crossed in the food court of the Centrepoint shopping mall in the heart of Sydney's shopping district. It was lunchtime, she was an office worker doing a little shopping and I was looking for a place where I could eat and watch the world go by.

"Hi! How are you?" she asked effusively.

I mumbled something incoherently trying to evade her. I had spent the morning practicing the 'not doing' techniques I had learned from Castaneda and I should have had the sense to let go of the mood I had let myself get into, but I didn't. I stood before her looking off into the distance and wishing that she would just let me go.

"What have you been doing?" she asked again pressing the point.

I really had no answer to that question! What was I going to tell her?

I spoke of nothing as best as I could, but she got the impression I was trying to brush her off. I suppose I was.

She hesitated for a moment wondering what to make of my behaviour. "You rat!" she told me as she stormed off.

The incident stuck in my mind but not because I felt sorry for the way I had treated her which was also true. It was because I caught a glimpse of myself in her reflection, and I didn't like what I saw. I looked haunted.

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