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History of Bestiality Trilogy (Moment of Freedom, Powderhouse, The Silence).


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Moment of Freedom


The bleakest, most depressing indictment of humanity I have ever read. And possibly one of the most powerful and brilliant books.

Where to begin with this? Well, it's part of a trilogy called 'The History of Bestiality' which includes Moment of Freedom, Powderhouse, and The Silence.' The books opens with a narrator who does not apparently know his name but works as a servant of justice. One day, he notices the judge is distracted, looking at something on his desk, and the narrator acquires the photographs in question and discovers they are of the town's most prominent members (including the judge) engaging in sexual acts with children and animals. Thus begins a journey through the depravity of the human race which takes in several cities and stories which detail (quite convincingly) the abhorrent nature of man. The narrator ponders on the children killed by the 2nd World war, the many prostitutes and pimps of the European cities, the devices of torture we invented and used without concern in the passing centuries, his ex Nazi friend whose only lament is that their great leader did not succeed, a destitute kitten, starving and ill-treated, roaming the streets, the small boy whose mysterious stomach illness is solved only when it is discovered that the barber he works for has been buggering him.

It truly is a vile and disgusting civilisation we have concocted. And the narrator (or Bjoernboe) points out that as much as we might like to believe this is a thing of the past, we are kidding ourselves. It manifests in new ways, takes root without fuss or notice, and spreads too quickly to be adequately dealt with. He too, is complicit and, with total apathy, tells us of a time in Italy when he had sex with a young prostitute while her five-year-old daughter (or sister) sits and watches.

Then the book concludes with Bjoerboe telling us about a new aspect of humanity which troubles him, something he clearly brings up because he believes this may be more than a mere passing fad. In fact, it may be a new means by which the rancid diseased human can express his bilious soul. He tells us of a series of young men who, apparently mild and quiet individuals, one day acquire a gun and begin indiscriminately killing people in the street. As though he knows (even in 1966) that this is the next logical step for humanity to most effectively demonstrate its evil nature.

Seriously, this book blew my mind. Sadly, the only copies I can get are by Norvik Press which aren't the worst but aren't the best either. This trilogy deserves something better. It is an absolute masterpiece of horrific nihilism.




I will now begin Powderhouse.

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  • hux changed the title to History of Bestiality Trilogy (Moment of Freedom, Powderhouse, The Silence).



Part 2 of Jens Bjørneboe's History of Bestiality trilogy is possibly even better than part 1 (Moment of Freedom). It deals with the same bleak worldview but while Moment of Freedom felt like a collection memories and opinions with no real narrative framework, Powderhouse was far more coherent and self-contained. The narrator is now working in an asylum for the criminally insane in France as an odd-job man and, as a result, the book has a more conventional narrative which allows for other characters and themes to be brought together in a way that was lacking in Moment of Freedom. This book felt like a book, but still provided Bjørneboe an opportunity to explore his ideas regarding the evil inherent to humanity.

One of the plot points is that the chief physician encourages lectures as a kind of therapy. This allows for the narrator to give a lecture about the history of witchcraft and the various inhuman methods with which society dispatched of the accused. This is then followed by a lecture from one of the doctors about the history of executions and the executioners themselves, a portion of the book that was thoroughly gripping in its macabre detail. The fact that execution was often a family business, the various methods used, and the countless downsides to each individual technique. How long it takes to die, what is considered humane, and the incident where a doctor twice shouted the name of a guillotined man at his severed head and the eyes looked at him.

The book had a strange, almost post-apocalyptic feel to it, as it all takes place of the grounds of the asylum and the narrator often sits outside his home on those grounds drinking wine, giving milk to a hedgehog, or having sex with the young nurse Christine.

I would be more inclined to recommend this book to people than Moment of Freedom as it has a more digestible narrative but still affords Bjørneboe an opportunity to examine how deeply unpleasant the world is.



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  • 2 weeks later...

The Silence 


"The court sat, the charges were read, the witnesses heard, the evidence presented; humanity was found guilty."

Part Three of the trilogy focuses on colonialism and the global exportation of evil. The narrator is now in an unknown north African country and spends his days throwing bread at hungry children and refusing the advances of child prostitutes. His alcoholism has intensified, and he has occasional discussions with Columbus, with God, with Robespierre. He is accumulating all the evidence required to confirm that humanity is a slew of excrement. And yet, there is a lingering sense of hope, one to be found in the spiritual element. Bjørneboe clearly feels that, whether capitalist or communist, the move away from a spiritual understanding of ourselves is a terrible mistake. Before we can know where we're going, we must know who we are. And that is only achieved through spiritual salvation. His attacks on colonialism are unoriginal and somewhat simplified (as much of the world now approves of) but he's using this merely as a platform from which to reach his ultimate conclusion so it's forgivable.

Like the other two books, especially Powderhouse, there are sprawling narratives about history which are presented as stories. The chapters about Cortes and Pizarro for example are coloured with a sweeping canvas which must be taken as part of the whole story of human history. These stories are sporadically told between conversations with his friend Ali, the hungry children begging for food, the American oil man who wants to atone for his countries sickness. And they slot neatly into the narrative as reminders of our crimes but also as occasional reminders of our capacity for beauty too. The story about Satan living as a human only to conclude that the earth is too awful and that he'd rather go back to hell being one I particularly enjoyed.

These three books were bleak, dark, significant works, and unrelenting in their pessimistic view of the human species. Yet a glimmer of hope remains as Bjørneboe concludes that despite the guilty verdict there is one voice we have yet to hear from: that of the defense.



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