She covered her delicate breasts with her hands, an expression of modesty that she had never before shown in his presence. You have left me no choice other than wishing to never see you again, not even in the land of the dead. These were words that once would have obliged him to carry out her summary execution. But she was right; she was now free, and entitled to opinions. So he rode off toward the mountains. Truth, he felt, comes with a price.
On two occasions he was attacked by mountain tribes who might have presented a danger were they not starved wretches. Both times, they rushed him to take what he had, but what followed was not so much a melee as a massacre. Jin felt no sense of accomplishment at being the last to stand amidst the corpses. For two days an illness wracked him and he was forced to halt his journey while he huddled in a cave, burning with fever. The men, the women, the eunuchs; the children stolen from foreign lands; the curiosities disfigured for his amusement; the innovative creation of one merchant in Pau, who obtained his human wares in infancy, trained them all their lives in absolute darkness, and then released them into light only on the day they met their future masters, before blinding them with fire so they would have only that one sight to contemplate, forever.
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He remembered bribing a magistrate so that condemned prisoners could be forced to service him until he slit their throats at the moment of his greatest pleasure. He relived a lifetime of joys unspeakable and pleasures beyond imagination; objects designed to be inserted in the willing and others that the unwilling would writhe in agony trying to expel; the use of ointments that cooled or heated or released hallucinogenic vapors when the skin was heated by passion. He recalled his honored mother protesting that all this dallying with slaves was all well and good, but that it was time he produced an heir and took his position managing the family fortune.
He remembered himself tricking her into signing away her own freedom so he could experience the sin of incest. He saw her cursing his birth as he shipped her off to the provinces with instructions that she was to be set to labor in the fields. He remembered meeting fellow adventurers of the flesh who taught him about the Temple of Celestial Pleasures and advised him that it was a place he should seek out only after he had exhausted all other forms of ecstasy beneath the dome of Heaven.
Always he was left unsatisfied. Always he was left chasing the great pleasures of a world that, for all his willingness to try anything once, continued to prove itself too finite for one as high-born as himself. Blackness gathered around him. Death seemed to clutch him in its skeletal hand. But then he woke covered with a crust of his own vomit, his head aching but clear. He felt only need. And so he rode on. He found the Temple occupying a narrow cleft in the mountains that showed the only green he had seen in many days. It was a sprawling palace with walls of gold that confronted the sunrise and returned it to the sky.
Cascades of crystalline water flowed from the minarets at each corner, feeding shallow pools that surrounded the edifice on all sides, providing Heaven with a perfect reflection of itself. There was no possibility of taking his horse all the way to the front gate; the beast trembled in fear and would not approach any closer.
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So he slit its throat and made the final approach on foot, striding on the bejeweled path that was the only route between the placid reflecting pools. The gate was an obscene bas-relief in which hundreds of miniature human forms coupled in combinations of two or three, or four, no two positions alike, all possible sexual combinations represented. It was the most intricate work of art Jin had ever seen with his own eyes, and it moved him not at all. Only when he pulled the braided silver cord beside that gate did he experience something that astonished him, for the gate did not lift or lower or swing open like a door or slide into some recess in the wall.
It simply gave the impression of receding, in some direction that defied all the dimensions Jin knew. Beyond stood a small army of men and women of exceptional beauty. Some were unmarked and others were covered with ink or brands. All were naked.
All were flawless. All regarded him with frank sexual contemplation. Slight in a manner that would have seemed alarmingly emaciated for anybody else, strangely devoid of pores, the hairless creature in an ankle-length white gown strode toward him and regarded him with eyes that possessed neither whites nor irises, but were instead orbs of glowing silver. His throat went dry, as he realized that for once in his life he did not know what he was privileged to do next.
The inhabitants of the Temple tittered among themselves, as if he had just uttered something adorable enough to have come from an infant. This holy place is not what many pilgrims imagine, a more exotic form of brothel with a greater selection of pretty whores to choose from. To be sure, it sometimes serves that purpose when such commerce facilitates the training of those you see before you.
They are all still struggling to achieve the same state of total jaded surfeit that has rendered all terrestrial forms of sexual ecstasy so dry and empty for you. Jin felt a desperate need to re-establish some command over the situation.
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It would be pathetic, like offering a scrap of bread to one who has known feasts. It is just not any form of sex you imagine. It is the consummation that all of these acolytes hope to achieve, once they have exhausted their capacity to achieve satisfaction with mere terrestrial pleasures. For those who have tried everything else, experienced everything else, and found the pleasures of Man wanting, what awaits is greater than anything known by any being who crawled or walked beneath this blue sky.
We charge one price: everything you have. These terms are non-negotiable, and only full acceptance of them will admit you any further into the Temple. We have other sources for such baubles. No; we seek to charge you nothing you own, but everything you have. Will you pay that price? Perhaps he had not exhausted all the options available to him.
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Surely there had to be some courtesan, somewhere in the seven kingdoms, who possessed tricks he had not yet encountered. But just entertaining this thought meant imagining a long slow slog back to the fleshpots of the emerald coast, where he would find himself browsing the same assortment, facing the same dull-eyed eagerness in the eyes of servant girls and boys raised to no ambition greater than someday being used by a Lord like himself. It would mean experiencing the same disappointments, again and again, to the point of long nights spent contemplating the momentary flash of pain that would bring relief seconds after he slipped some dagger into his sated heart.
The idea of commencing the search again was more, he found, than his jaded soul could bear.
So he seized the moment, aware even as he did that it was a form of suicide. By then, they had made him drink a substance that conferred calm on both body and mind, and he watched most of what came next from the remove of a theatre patron watching the acrobats do tricks for his amusement. Two female acolytes with sleek black hair, twins he was told, fed him a potion that guaranteed arousal, used their painted lips to bring him to the very point of release, then withdrew and produced a bladed device of a sort that reminded him of the towering version used in his home city to behead murderers and thieves.
It was no more than a rectangular frame enclosing a spring-loaded steel blade designed to be pulled along a grooved track, and then locked into position until it could be released to leap back into its prior location with a force terrible enough to shred whatever lay in its path. One twin pulled the blade all the way back, and inserted the pin that held it in place. The other released the blade. The beautiful twins offered him reassuring smiles with cheeks now sporting wide constellations of scarlet freckles.
But the potions Jin had been given did their job. Notwithstanding the obvious flaws in the theory, though, it was prevalent enough in late for Life magazine to dispatch one of their reporters to the Scottish highlands to see if McCartney was dead after all.
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They found him, somewhat dishevelled and surprised, strolling across the land with his family - his stepdaughter Heather looking like she was about to attack anyone that came near them. Feeling recuperated, almost back to his old self, McCartney decides to travel back to his home in London to start recording his first solo album, with a four track the size of a fridge that he wheeled to his house from Abbey Road. The resulting album, brilliantly titled McCartney , is scheduled to be released in April via Apple. Lennon and Harrison write a letter and make Ringo hand deliver it to McCartney.
He also stands his ground on the release date, ensuring that McCartney is released in April as planned. Despite Lennon quitting nearly a year before, despite Harrison and Starr having previously walked out on the group on separate occasions, it was McCartney that was set in stone as the villain of the piece - as the man responsible for the break-up of the Beatles.
Haunted by his part in the drama, McCartney then starts to have weird dreams about Allen Klein, the new Machiavellian Beatles manager and actual villain of the piece.
History gets re-written, battle-lines are drawn. He files a law suit to dissolve The Beatles partnership once and for all and flies to New York to start work on Ram , his second album - with a bunch of musicians hired in secret by Linda. The resulting album again gets slaughtered by critics and ex Beatles alike.
Even Ringo weighs in, giving the following review -. Worth noting here that this is the same Ringo Starr who had just released an album called Beaucoups of Blues. It would have been hard enough following The Beatles with a fair wind, but under these circumstances? Everyone reviewed the context and a genuinely great album was ignored, an album of total joy and optimism - a joyride of drunken newlyweds on the run.
It stretches and it yawns, it springs into life and takes you everywhere but ultimately nowhere. After Ram is released he returns to England and wins the first battle in court to formally end The Beatles. The hours in Hamburg, the gigs at The Cavern, and the 13 albums in 7 years that were mostly recorded in one room. In a retrospective review, Pitchfork gave it 9.
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