Traditionally, there are only two reasons for any book to have an introduction, or foreword, or pre-foreword or whatever the hell the editor decides to call that thing in the front of a book.
REASON # 1: TO BOOST SALES
Someone discovered long ago that an artfully dropped name can establish instant credibility in certain situations. In the publishing industry, this translates into the practice of inviting some celebrity or well-known expert to introduce a work. All too often, that is the sole "kicker" which sells it. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the quality of the introduction will be commensurate with the selling power of the introducer's name.
REASON # 2: SENTIMENTAL OBLIGATIONS
The editor bestows the honor of writing the introduction upon an old buddy -- some harmless but washed-up has-been to whom he owes a favor -- just to give the doddering hack a break, "for old times' sake." While this approach sometimes makes for a more enlightening and sincere introduction, sales may suffer from the lack of status attached to the decrepit old bum's name.
As difficult as it may be to believe, a book's ultimate success depends entirely upon which of these traditional paths is chosen by the editor. Since I fit neither category of introducers, this book may conceivably be one of those "wild cards" that shatter all accepted norms of publishing... if not even civilization as we know it, considering the nature of our mission!
Some readers may also be surprised to learn that the foreword is usually the last part of a book to be written, even though the foreword actually contains the afterthoughts. A common afterthought is that readers might wonder why in the world the book was ever written... which may be particularly true in this case, so an especially lengthy attempt at an explanation, or at least an excuse, is required.
The public generally associates my name with J. R. "Bob" Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius, as well it should. I have known "Bob" since our college days, when I saved him from drowning in a mud puddle after he had been knocked unconscious during a panty raid. (His skull was fractured by a bra with ice frozen into its cups -- a bra hurled by none other than his wife-to-be, the attractive and gracious "Connie" Marsh. Yes, all three of us met simultaneously on that fateful night in 1946.)
After several years of casual friendship and countless poker games, my win/loss ratio with "Bob" was hopelessly lopsided and my family fortune exhausted. I prevailed upon his boundless good nature to let me earn back some of my money. Pitying me, Dobbs proffered an opportunity by which I could both repay him my debts and also recover my own losses many times over. Promising a get-rich-quick scheme unparalleled in history, he enlisted my aid in founding the Church of the SubGenius and its public relations arm, The SubGenius Foundation, Inc. Utilizing my experience and numerous contacts in the advertising business, I chose the then-destitute Reverend Ivan Stang to fill the open Sacred Scribe position at Foundation headquarters in Dallas. Ivan's task was to compile and organize the encrypted instructions provided by Dobbs: arcane trance memos and codexes that ultimately became the early SubGenius pamphlets. "Bob" had long since undergone his Divine Emaculation, and had consequently amassed a personal fortune in the eleven figure range. He then pretended to retire from public life. (It was even rumored in the Pentagon that he had actually fled our Solar System!)
Nevertheless, in 1979, in caves hidden in the vastness of the Himalayas, the Most High Tibetan Lamas surgically altered my brain under the direct tutelage of Dobbs-- performing that perilous operation, The Opening of the Third Nostril. This enabled me to receive, unimpeded, dogmatic revelations directly from interstellar Silent Radio signals. It simultaneously prepared me for that painful somatic mutation to literal, physical OverManhood which so drastically warped my appearance that I now must conceal my visage from the squeamish, bigoted eyes of normal humans. Despite arduous spiritual preparations, I underwent the very tortures of Hell when first I channeled the brain-scorching direct alien transmissions required for The Book of the SubGenius (Simon and Schuster trade paperback, $10.95).
But who, some few may ask, is this man J. R. "Bob" Dobbs? As difficult as it is for me to imagine that there are still so many mired in ignorance, it yet remains a most challenging question to answer -- possibly the most challenging of our time. After all, how does one describe the indescribable, and define the indefinable? I shall attempt nonetheless to paint a portrait of "Bob" -- one equating not so much to a photograph, but at best to a child's broken-crayon stick figure scrawl.
J.R. "Bob" Dobbs: on the surface, an average, good-looking all-American 'Joe,' though of debated parentage; perpetual smoker of a sacred briar Pipe filled with mysterious and, some claim, hallucinatory admixtures; master omni-salesman of legendary abilities (very probably the historical 'Travelling Salesman' of mythology), to whom has been widely attributed total command of The Luck Plane by virtue of, not skill, but sheer and unadulterated intuitive ignorance; recognized as Patron Saint of Salesmen the world over; contacted and Emaculated in his youth by the alien space-god, JHVH-1, to receive instructions for initiating select individuals into the secrets of Original Slack, its attainment, abuse and true-purpose; founder of a burgeoning cult religion with literally countless schisms and heretical spinoffs; purportedly assassinated in 1984 by the renegade Church Hierarchite D. Woodman Atwell (aka Puzzling Evidence and Überbrow), but also allegedly resurrected in 1987 at Dokstok, a pagan convocation of fanatical upper-echelon Church executives; prophesied savior of the dogma-following and dues-paying Chosen on X-Day, July 5, 1998, when his 'customers' the Xists arrive from "Planet X"; Honorary Pilot of the pleasure-saucer Escape Vessels of the Sex Goddesses; and captain of the Church softball team.
"Bob's" teachings promote awareness of the Original Slack with which all bipeds, mere-humans and SubGenii alike, are endowed at birth, allowing us to exercise and financially exploit our Abnormality Potentials. He fights to insure that this inate Slack is not squandered or, worse yet, stolen outright by that Conspiracy of Normals which presently controls this planet. Only if the Universal Slack levels are high enough, and the smoke from "Bob's" Pipe sufficiently thick, will the Xists materialize and save all paid-up, Yeti-descended Ordained SubGenius Ministers -- while trashing in their interplanetary "beer run" not only the faithless human Conspiracy dupes (or 'Pinks,' 'Menialitites,' 'Mediocretins,' etc.), but their entire hell-hole planet as well.
These are but a few reasons you owe it to yourself to purchase The Book of the SubGenius -- if you haven't already -- and to buy additional copies with which to save your loved ones... but NOT, necessarily, excuses for waiting to purchase this third book. (High Weirdness by Mail , an exposé of rival false cults, is the second.)
The Book of the SubGenius presented the Teachings of Dobbs in a formal, almost Biblical 'textbook' style. It succeeded in luring into the fold those brilliant collaborators who have made the Church relentlessly grow and grow, like The Blob of pop mythology or the Sceptre of Priapus in classical legendry -- simultaneously innoculating our endeavors against the entropic stagnation which otherwise afflicts all rival religions.
The intention, then, of this anthology of fables, parables and dramatic historical retellings is to help students transcend the hide-bound, stodgy formality of earlier revealed dogma, to grasp by example Dobbs' more subtle characteristics, and simply to enjoy his true-life adventures as he seeks to accomplish his Nameless Mission: a mission whose origin and purpose remains a total mystery, certainly unfathomable through mere rote memorization of PreScripture. Indeed, it's possible that those who haven't researched previous SubGenius litany may, ironically, glean more pure Slack from this collection than will the "Bobbies" who've memorized Dobbs' every recorded utterance. For they will be inculcating themselves with Dobbs Knowledge from context -- which, preliminary studies suggest, is the most expeditious way to extract that "Grail of the Philosophers"! "Bob's" is a living church, a dynamic social organism better understood through even vicarious experience than through the simplistic doctrines and embarrassing rituals which hobble lesser faiths.
What exactly is a "Three Fisted Tale of "Bob""? Any answer lies only in what the Tales are not.
They aren't just gripping yarns of action and suspense, nor whimsical fantasy, nor pathetic cuteness-and-light New Age prattlings. Nor are they limited to the strictures of science fiction or lurid murder-mystery traditions. One cannot label them simply 'romance'; and it is impossible to pidgeonhole any solely as spy thrillers, humor, nor sword-and-sorcery. They are, instead, a revolutionary amalgamation of all of the above, and far more!
Defying all basic literary genres, they lie more in the realm of Apocrypha -- dictated not by Dobbs, as was The Book of the SubGenius, but instead by his Apostles, his Fishers of Wallets. A few Tales may even seem heretical in content... but, more often, they represent inspired prophetic visions, biographical reenactments, and outright but no less valid fabrications. Whether solidly researched, untarnishable histories, or strictly metaphorical parables, they fill out the previously sketchy picture of "Bob" Dobbs the man.
To protect his family, Dobbs himself insists that we never identify which are true histories and which (if any) are fables; he trustingly leaves that determination up to you, our dearly beloved Reader. Thus, if any given Tale seems particularly distasteful to you personally, it is your right to rank it among the subversive lies; those that you enjoy, on the other hand, may be taken as irrefutable and factual chronicles worthy of being etched into the Rock of Ages.
Being true SubGeniuses all, each author sees "Bob" differently, depending upon his or her own ethical development. One writer may be accurately recounting the Master's deeds, while the next is a schismatic reprobate intent upon destruction of the Church from within. "Bob" still insists that you be the judge.
Our contributors hail from all walks of life: occultists, astrologers, rich jet-setters, doctors, minimum-wage slaves, yardmen, poverty-stricken geek visionaries, upper level corporate managers, Berkeley egghead intelligensia, Right Wing fascists, frothing Commie radicals, film makers, technical writers, Christian missionaries, suicidal wretches both successful and failed, cartoonists, avant-garde painters, rock musicians... even gorgeous, slinky housewives in sheer, silken evening gowns. (One manages to combine all of the above callings!) Some have had absolutely no prior professional writing experience, yet were obviously inspired by what can only be termed 'Higher Powers.' Two or three have actually built successful careers as accomplished, paid storytellers!
As for the editor of this anthology, the Rev. Ivan Stang is a celebrated and erudite man of distinction known the world over -- an accomplished author, radio personality, film auteur... and regular family man. Known for his ranting 'Southern Preacher' style sermon delivery, Rev. Stang has organized soul-saving Church Devivals across this country (and several foreign nations) to great critical and even supernatural acclaim.
He has arranged these Tales not chronologically, but rather by stringent (but seductively simple) Drummondian subliminal Silent Radio mind control techniques. The first few stories provide a perspective for new readers unfamiliar with the orthodox dogma: introductory Tales, if you will. At the same time, they serve to remind self-proclaimed "SubGenius experts" of those sound basic doctrines from whence sprang the Church's pythonic, back-to-the-Pamphlet, dogma-scrubbing re-deformation movement.
Once the explanatory narratives have been digested, the newly illuminated reader may hurtle uncontrollably but safely into the more profound, esoteric and, mayhaps, frightening tales -- those designed to disconnect established thought patterns and saboutage habitual mental logic. Gliding effortlessly into a euphoric haze of real or imaginary happenings, the reader will imbibe freely of the fermented fruits of those not-quite-genius, becoming "drunk as a lord" with enlightenment.
Finally, when the maximum limit of enlightenment-absorption is reached, the reader (if he or she can still be refered to as such) may dare stealthily to approach the last stories -- hideous necropoli of soulessly rotting, malifiscient, stench-filled pre-/post-histories wherein mysterious apparitions gleefully carve their unspeakable names upon the foolish mortal reader's heart and soul. Tales of this depth simply defy all earthly description.
This arrangement allows the reader to become gradually familiar not only with the ancillary characters who populate the later stories, but even with their writing styles -- for did not these so-called "characters" write half the stories??
This is the first One True Anthology to represent the entire gamut from the Before-, After-, and In-Between Resurrection annals -- the first (of, hopefully, many volumes) to dare cover ALL conceptual bases, charging cheerfully and unfalteringly into the colossal sales fray that is the marketplace, battling head-to-toe with any and all competitive comers, even the shallowest of best-sellers. And it shall surely come up smiling, delivering Dobbs' Ultimate Punchline in its pristine virgin state -- unsullied and uninterpreted.
By promising nothing, "Bob" both gives us the world and grants us the final laugh... that laugh which will surely last all the way to the bank, no matter what may be impugned regarding this book's sales figures by any pencil-necked geek of a market-myopic book chainstore accountant.
We sincerely hope that these Tales somehow allow the elusive awareness of Slack to delicately insinuate itself into our readers' consciousnesses, preferably without damaging to their abilities to do their day jobs. After all, we value their money almost as highly as their souls.
It is therefore my most profound privilege to declare to you, dear reader: READ ON IF YOU DARE!
This is my testament!
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High Weirdness by Mail, the Cyclopedic directory of kookified mutation and artistic frenzy, is, partially, our way of repaying those early collaborators who'd gobbled up the bait, for it promotes their own hundreds of secular rantzines, scientific discoveries, performance projects, UFO contacts, forbidden musical recordings and shunned comic books, all created independently of the Dobbs-Word -- indeed, created as if in psychic rebellion against the insidious spiritual grip within which Dobbs had, in many cases, threatened to engulf their minds. Dobbs was proud of them for that, and rewarded them. Both High Weirdness and The Book of the SubGenius are $12 each postpaid from The SubGenius Foundation, Box 140306, Dallas, TX 75214. They may also be ordered by better bookstores everywhere through the publisher, Simon & Schuster. BACK