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Image of the beast blown, p.1
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       Image of the Beast / Blown, p.1

           Philip José Farmer
Image of the Beast / Blown


  After viewing his partner's mutilation in a home

  movie, a horrified private detective pursues

  leads in the most disgusting case of his career.

  His investigation plunges him into a nightmare

  of sexual brutality and supernatural bestiality.

  It is a journey he—and you—will never forget.

  Image of the Beast and Blown are two under-

  ground classics that tell this fantastic story

  complete in one volume. They are now avail-

  able for the first time in ten years.

  With a Foreword by Theodore Sturgeon








  For Forrest J. Ackerman,

  the Scarlet Pimpernel of fantasy


  Copyright © 1968, 1969 by Philip Jose Farmer

  Cover illustration by Enric: Copyright © 1979 by Playboy

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored

  in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by an electronic,

  mechanical, photocopying, recording means or otherwise without

  prior written permission of the author.

  Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada by

  Playboy Press, Chicago, Illinois. Printed in the United States of

  America. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 79-53029.

  Reprinted by arrangement with Scott Meredith Literary Agency.

  Books are available at quantity discounts for promotional and in-

  dustrial use. For further information, write our sales promotion

  agency: Ventura Associates, 40 East 49th Street, New York, New

  York 10017.

  ISBN: 0-872-16557-4

  First Playboy Press printing October 1979.


  Theodore Sturgeon

  "I hear you're writing pornography now."

  Thus spake one of the acquaintances of Philip José

  Farmer recently. The question seems simple and straight-

  forward. It was, obviously, asked by a man who honestly

  felt he could define his own terms, and probably that the

  terms he used were so self-evident that they didn't need


  There is a vast number of honestly simple-minded

  people who can, without hesitation, define

  pornography science fiction

  God communism

  right freedom

  evil honorable peace

  liberty obscenity

  law and order love

  and think, and act, and legislate, and sometimes burn,

  jail, and kill on the basis of their definitions. These are

  the Labellers, and they are without exception the most

  lethal and destructive force ever faced by any species on

  this or any other planet, and I shall tell you clearly and

  simply why.

  Simple truth is hard to come by. Virtually everything

  which looks like the truth is subject to question and

  modification. "Water runs downhill." At what tempera-

  ture? Where—in an Apollo capsule, for example, or in the

  input end of a siphon? "Skirts are for girls." Would you

  like to face up to a batallion of the kilted Black Watch

  or a company of the hardbitten Greek evzones? (They

  even have lace on their skirts.) "E=MC2," said that

  burnished deity of the relative, Albert Einstein, "may

  after all be a local phenomenon."

  The lethal destructiveness inherent in Labelling lies

  in the fact that the Labeller, without exception, over-

  looks the most basic of all characteristic of everything

  in the universe—passage: that is to say, flux and change.

  If he stops and thinks (which is not his habit) the La-

  beller must concede that rocks change, and mountains;

  that the planets change, and the stars, and that they have

  not stopped because of the purely local and most minor

  phenomenon that he happens to be placing a Label on in

  this place at this point in time.

  Passage is more evident in what we call life than in

  any other area. It is not enough to say that living things

  change; one must go further and say that life is change.

  That which does not change is abhorrent to the most

  basic laws of the universe; that which does not change

  is not alive; and in the presence of that which does not

  change, life cannot exist.

  This is why the Labeller is lethal. He is the dead

  hand. His' is the command, Stop! He is death's friend,

  life's enemy. He does not want, he cannot face, things

  as they really are—moving, flowing, changing; he wants

  them to stop.


  I think it's because of a perfectly normal desire for se-

  curity. He wants to feel safe. He does not know that he

  has mistaken stasis for stability. If only everything

  would stop, if only today and tomorrow would be just

  like yesterday (he never looks really carefully at yester-

  day, you understand, so he thinks everything was

  motionless and peaceful and law-abiding yesterday,

  which of course it wasn't) he could really feel safe. He

  doesn't realize that he has become anti-life and pro-death

  —that what he is actually about is a form of suicide,

  for himself and for his species. He doesn't realize that

  in the sanctuary of the church of his choice, any given

  Sunday (or Saturday) morning, he will see respectable

  matrons dressed in clothes which would have been for-

  bidden, not only on the streets, but on the beaches,

  within the memory of the older parishioners. He has

  forgotten that it was only a few short years ago that

  something close to cultural shock swept through our

  species because Clark Gable, as Rhett Butler, said

  "Damn" in a movie. He overlooks all evidence, all

  truth, and he Labels; and he is absolutely deadly, so

  watch out for him.

  Philip José Farmer is a superb writer and in every

  sense a good man, who seems to have been born with the

  knowledge that the truth—the real truth—is to be sought

  with the devotion of those who sought the Holy Grail,

  and to be faced openly, even when it turned out to be

  something that he and the rest of us would much rather

  it wasn't. Ever since (in 1952) he exploded into science

  fiction with an extraordinary novelette called The Lovers,

  he has continued to call it what it is, show it as he finds

  it. The book you hold in your hands is a perfect case in

  point. The Labellers will be gone from here long about

  page 5, crying "Stop!" (A word which of all words is

  most against God.) A handful of poor tilted souls, whom

  the Labellers have frustrated and perverted, will drool

  wetly all the way through, skipping all the living con-

  nective tissue and getting their jollies out of context.

  (Some of these will ther
eafter destructively Label the

  book, to Stop anyone else from getting any.) The rest of

  you will take these pages for what they are: truths (for

  many of these things are truly within us all, whether

  you find that a pleasant truth or not) and the seeking

  for truth; the symbols and analogs of truth and of the

  quest for truth—and a hell of a good story.

  After I had read The Image of the Beast, and be-

  fore I wrote these comments, I called Phil Farmer for

  one clarification. In all my reading and researching,

  and in all my hardly impoverished imaginings, I have

  never run across an image like the one concerning "the

  most beautiful woman in the world" and the long, glis-

  tening thing, with a golf-ball-sized head complete with

  a face and a little beard, which emerged from her womb

  and entered her throat. Aside from the amazement

  and shock which it evokes, it filled me with wonder,

  for it is unique, and was, to me, without literary or

  psychopathological referents. They are, he tells me, Joan

  of Arc and the famous/infamous Gilles de Rais (which

  in itself is an odd coupling!), and he went on to tell

  me that they are part of a far larger symbolic structure,

  to be elucidated in two more books. This is why IMAGE

  has the subtitle-note An exorcism: Ritual I. Therefore,

  like everything else Farmer has written, IMAGE is fable.

  That is to say, like all of Aesop and a lot of Shake-

  speare, the story is larger than the narrative—the play

  means more than the events described. Calculated dis-

  comfort is a well-known path to truth. The lotus position

  is at first an agony. A fast of forty days and

  nights is only for the dedicated, and while it might lead

  to a meeting with Satan, it is recorded somewhere that

  Satan can thereupon be defeated. I take Farmer's

  structured shock accordingly, and go with it, and eagerly

  await the completion of his pattern.

  For you can't keep a good man down, friends and

  Labellers—neither his goodness nor his manhood.

  —Theodore Sturgeon



  Smoke rose to the light, and smoke and light fused to

  become green milk. The milk fissioned to become smoke

  and darkness above. As below.

  Smog was outside, and smog was inside.

  Green and sour.

  The green and sour odor and taste came not only from

  the smog, which had forced its tendrils into the air-

  conditioned building, nor from the tobacco plumes in the

  room. It came from memory of what he had seen that

  morning and anticipation of what he would see within

  the next few minutes.

  The film room of the Los Angeles Police Department

  was darker than Herald Childe had ever seen it. The

  beam of light from the projection booth usually tended

  to make gray what otherwise would have been black.

  But the cigar and cigarette smoke, the smog, and the

  mood of the viewers, blackened everything. Even the

  silver light from the screen seemed to pull light in in-

  stead of casting it back at the viewers.

  Where the beam overhead struck the tobacco fumes,

  green milk formed and curdled and soured. So thought

  Herald Childe. The image was unforced. The worst smog

  in history was smothering Los Angeles and Orange coun-

  ties. Not a mouse of a wind had stirred for a day and a

  night and a day and a night. On the third day, it seemed

  that this condition might go on and on.

  The smog. He could now forget the smog.

  Spread-eagled on the screen was his partner (possibly

  ex-partner). The wine-red draperies behind him glowed,

  and Matthew Colben's face, normally as red as Chianti

  half-diluted with water, was now the color of a trans-

  parent plastic bag bulging with wine.

  The camera swung away to show the rest of his

  body and some of the room. He was flat on his back and

  nude. His arms were strapped down beside him and

  his legs, also strapped down, formed a V. His penis

  lolled across his left thigh like a fat drunken worm.

  The table must have been made for just this purpose

  of tying down men with their legs separated so others

  could walk in between the legs.

  There was only the Y-shaped wooden table, the thick

  wine-red carpet, and the wine-red draperies. The camera

  swept around to show the circle of draperies and then

  turned back and swooped up to show the full form of

  Matthew Colben as seen by a fly on the ceiling. Col-

  ben's head was on a dark pillow. He looked straight up

  at the camera and smiled sillily. He did not seem to care

  that he was bound and helpless.

  The previous scenes had shown why he did not care

  and had demonstrated how Colben had progressed,

  through conditioning, from impotent fear to rigid antici-


  Childe, having seen the complete film once, felt his

  entrails slip about each other and knot each other and,

  their tails coiled around his backbone, pull until they

  were choking each other.

  Colben grinned, and Childe murmured, "You fool!

  You poor fucking fool!"

  The man in the seat on Childe's right shifted and said,

  "What'd you say?"

  "Nothing, Commissioner."

  But his penis felt as if it were being sucked back up

  into his belly and drawing his testicles after it.

  The draperies opened, and the camera moved in to

  show a huge black-rimmed, long-lashed, dark-blue eye.

  Then it moved down along a straight narrow nose and

  broad, full, and bright red lips. A pink-red tongue slipped

  out between unnaturally white and even teeth, shot back

  and forth a few times, dropped a bead of saliva on

  the chin, and then disappeared.

  The camera moved back, the draperies were thrust

  open, and a woman entered. Her black glossy

  hair was combed straight back and fell to her waist.

  Her face was garish with beauty patches, rouge, powder,

  green and red and black and azure paint around the

  eyes and a curl of powder-blue down her cheeks, arti-

  ficial eyelashes, and a tiny golden nose-ring. A green

  robe, tied at her neck and waist, was so thin that she

  might as well have been naked. Despite which, she untied

  the cords about the neck and waist and slid the robe off

  and showed that she could be even more naked.

  The camera moved downward and closer. The hollow

  at the base of the neck was deep and the bones beneath

  hinted at exquisiteness.

  . The breasts were full but not

  large, slightly conical and up-tilted, with narrow and

  long, almost sharp, nipples. The breasts were hung upon

  a large rib cage. The belly sank inward; she was skinny

  about the hips, the bones stuck out just a little. The cam-

  era went round, or she pivoted—Childe could not tell

  which because the camera was so close to her and he

  had no reference point. Her buttocks were like huge un-

  shelled soft-boi
led eggs.

  The camera traveled around her, showing the narrow

  waist and ovoid hips and then turned so that it was look-

  ing up toward the ceiling—which was covered with a

  drape-like material the color of a broken blood-vessel

  in a drunkard's eye. The camera glanced up her white

  thigh; light was cast into the hollow between the legs—

  she must have spread her legs then—and there was the

  little brown eye of the anus and the edge of the mouth

  of her vagina. The hairs were yellow, which meant that

  the woman had either dyed her head hairs or her pubic


  The camera, still pointing upward, passed between her

  legs—which looked like the colossal limbs of a statue now

  —and then traveled slowly upward. It straightened out

  as it rose and was looking directly at her pubes. These

  were partly covered by a triangular cloth which was taped

  on. Childe did not know why. Modesty certainly was not

  the reason.

  He had seen this shot before, but he braced himself.

  The first time, he—in common with the others in the

  room—had jumped and some had sworn and one had


  The cloth was tight against the genitals, and a shift in

  angle of lighting suddenly revealed that the cloth was

  semitransparent. The hairs formed a dark triangle, and

  the slit took in the cloth enough to show that the cloth

  was tight against the slit.

  Abruptly, and Childe jumped again even though he

  knew what was coming, the cloth sank in more deeply,

  as if something inside the vagina had spread the lips open.

  Then something bulged against the cloth, something that

  could only have come from within the woman. It thrust

  the cloth up; the cloth shook as if a tiny fist or head

  were beating against it, and then the bulge sank back,

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