Thursday, April 10, 2008

On the "Man-Baby"

Cosmo on his bike, around 1960.

Reading in many of the online posts how Cosmo in his later years became more and more enamored of children, I'm reminded of his more mystical/religious take on his own "coming childhood." I post the following from my book Gospels from the Last Man. This was written in 1992, about a visit Cosmo and I took to the Amerindian site Aztalan:

The Doctrine of the Man-Baby

2.9. Several months following the initial visit to the ruins of the city of Aztalan, Cosmo di Madison and I decided to return there, just the two of us this time, to make a second, more rigorous visit.

"I would like to inspect things a bit more carefully," he told me. "I don't want any bimbos along this time. Alright?" [One has to read earlier parts of the book to get this remark.]

Cosmo di Madison and I drove to the site, but finding that the summer heat was too oppressive to spend time in the open field that used to be the center of the city--the area, in short, where one could sit upon the remains of the Aztalan pyramids--we wandered down to the riverside and talked in the shade. Cosmo pointed out how well suited that section of the river was for a trading port, and indicated to me precisely where the Egypto-Phonecian quays were most likely built.

"Those archaeologists are fucked when it comes to explaining central Wisconsin. You know it, don't you? This city was much larger and much more flourishing than they try to tell people. They want you to think there was hardly anybody around here before the Lutherans and Han Christian Heg and all the other finks and hoodlums arrived. Pssssssh! It's fucking sick!"

Because of the heat and the depressive mood induced by thinking on Luther and his followers, Cosmo and I decided to return at once to Madison, regardless of the fact that we'd only been at Aztalan twenty minutes and hadn't really accomplished the more careful inspection intended.

Driving back through Lake Mills rather pensively, our windows rolled down, we came to a stop sign on the sidewalk. Next to the stop sign there was a very small child on a Big Wheels tryke. I brought my car to a stop and looked here and there, trying to decide if the correct way was straight ahead or to the right. The child, resting on his tryke and with his feet splayed out languidly, looked up at Cosmo di Madison and distinctly muttered the words--


I was a bit put off by the tone of the child's voice. For it sounded as if it came directly from some depth out of keeping with the scene around us: the box houses, the toys and swings, the mowed lawns. As the child said nothing further, I began to pull away from the stop sign. We drove a couple blocks. Cosmo put out his cigarette and remarked warmly, with a little chuckle-- "Kids always know. Ya hear me?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, eager for an explanation of our uncanny encounter with the child.

"They know I'm the Man-Baby."

I sensed that Cosmo was about to relate to me something of great importance, something of which I hadn't previously had so much as a glimmer. I rolled up my window, so as to miss none of it, and asked-- "But Doll Face... What is the Man-Baby?"

"Basically, there have been fourteen of us," he began. "The Man-Baby is born old, and becomes younger and younger as he gets older. The Man-Baby doesn't ever die, but he regresses back into his childhood. I am the Man-Baby, and the Man-Baby is I."

"So the Man-Baby regresses back to childhood."

"The Man-Baby begins as a prophet, or elder statesman, and then he gradually regresses back. I am now regressing back: I am returning to absolute childhood. Soon I will be there."

"You will be where?"

"Absolute childhood."

"But what will happen to you when you reach absolute childhood?"

Cosmo di Madison rolled up his window. He leaned toward me, as if afraid someone would overhear us (nevermind we were now flying down the On-ramp onto Highway 94, in the stifling heat of a dead summer day, in a Honda Accord with both windows rolled up) he leaned toward me and whispered in a hoarse tone: "I will eskff. What did you think I would do? Psssh!"

"You will eskff," I confirmed. "Yes?"


"Like Moses and Jesus?"


"But what does it mean, specifically, for a Man-Baby--for a Man-Baby returning to absolute childhood--what does it mean for him to eskff? What, precisely, will it look like?"

"In the end I will become larger and larger. I will be larger than buildings."

"Am I to imagine a gigantic sort of baby then? A baby larger than buildings? " I ask him in a tone of mild fright.

"Oh, don't worry, pumpkin! I will just be eskffing. Finally I will fill the sky, I will be larger than Everything--I will be Everything . And then suddenly I'll eskff."

I am persistent in my inquiry. I ask him, hoping finally for a definition: "But what does it mean to eskff?"

"I will ecstatically unite with all Divine Jorphelancy," replies Cosmo di Madison.

"Divine Jorphelancy?"


"How do you spell that?"



"Just like it sounds."

I take the orange pastel pencil from my dashboard and write the world "jorphelancy" on the face of a Guns and Ammo Business Reply Mail subscription request card that I ask Cosmo to grab for me from the back seat.

"So: eskffing. You will eskff. But what precisely happens to the body in eskffing? Are there any remains? I mean--how can we build your crypt?" [From this point on, the text is based on notes from a later discussion with Cosmo di Madison concerning the Doctrine of the Man-Baby. Whereas above I could only reproduce his answers from memory, from here on the quotes are exact. I asked him again: "What precisely happens to the body in eskffing? Are there any remains?"]

"The energy cell in the body occorphelates an enzyme from a hydrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, and the more the atoms form, and the more cosmic ozone that affacates and occoilantly hits the planet, the more powerful the Man-Baby gets, the more politically powerful his body seems to be."

"Do you mean his body as a fetish, as a sort of relic?"

"Yes. The body of the Man-Baby determines the political agenda. I myself will become so powerful that I will dissipate into a large vat of energy and disappear. But my body will become powerful in another way."

"And if I could be present at the eskffing--"

"I'm not sure that's possible."

"But if I could be present, what would I experience?"

"You would experience another Man-Baby ascending into Heaven."

"You mentioned before that there were fourteen Man-Babies in history. Is that correct?"


"And could you tell me who they were?"

"Ezikel, Moses, Isaiah, Michael, Jesus, Mohammed, Akine, Buddha, and Immual." [I spelled the names as he pronounced them, unsure of some of them.]

"But--let's see--that only seems to be nine of them."

"That's because I didn't name the Man-Babies currently living."

"Could you name them?"


"It's rather important. How am I supposed to write the canon?"

"There's Ozzie Nelson, Bob Geldoff, Myself, David Sanford, and Nat Campbell."

I asked Cosmo di Madison if there was any connection between the giant final size of the Man-Baby and the stories of giants recorded in the past. In short: were the giants in any way related to the Man-Babies?

"Perhaps there was some connection," he said. "Perhaps. But the giants in the past were mostly women. They were Amazons. Giant women Amazons."

"Really? They were Amazons? I guess I never read much concerning the Amazons."

"The Amazons were total vegetarians. They were very righteous people. You didn't fuck with the Amazons. Ya hear me?"

"I seem to remember reading about that."

"The women in the Amazon tradition would always get very large. But the men wouldn't necessarily get very big. You just didn't fuck around with 'em. Nobody did."

"Where did the Amazons first come from?"

"They came from Tibet, or India. Mostly Tibet. They wanted to get back at the Greeks and the Jews for crucifying Jesus Christ. They were very righteous. Very clean people. Fantastic cooks too."

"The Amazons were good cooks?"

"The Amazons were the best fucking cooks in ancient Greece. And don't you forget it. Don't believe any of these university professors. They don't know what the fuck they're talking about. They're all gonna vote Democrat or join some Communist front group. Eventually you won't be able to learn anything around here because everything will be rhetoric. Ya hear me?"

***This is from book II of Gospels from the Last Man. Books I to III are all online now, the first book at and the rest linked from there.***

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