The United States of the World​​
The world must establish in Washington in the District of Columbia a strong central world government uniting states under a constitution that will allow all its citizens to live magnanimously and freely in one worldwide union of democratic states.
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                                                                                      Perpetual  Baseball
                                   Daniel F. McNeill



    The first prophet of baseball appeared in 1975 in the film masterpiece, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Ken Kesey, the author of the book of the same title, owns the glory of having created the character who in the film reaches dimensions that make him the world’s first perpetual baseball player. His hero, Randall Patrick McMurphy, gets loose from handcuffs and in a mental hospital in the state of Oregon, where most of the action takes place, walks on a new moon. A west coast cowboy without a horse sounds the soul of a new and dangerous California in a tragedy that is, in the film version, the equal in power to anything in ancient Greek tragedy. Since the Civil War, the Europeanized minds of most American writers and artists who tried to revive the American soul only dug more holes or planted the ground with foreign seed. When Randall P. McMurphy gets loose from his handcuffs, the soul of America pounded into the ground at Gettysburg, which baseball preserved in a muted and disguised form, rises again fresh and true and shows the world how to walk tall on a new deadly ground. McMurphy leaves one location, a prison, wins a base in a different place, a mental hospital, struggles there against an organized group of enemies trying to pacify him, tries to escape and fails, but by his out allows a friend, a member of his team, to escape. The art of the film imitates the art of baseball. A tragic hero lives out a destiny routinely possible in any baseball game.
   When the guards delivering McMurphy from the prison to the mental hospital release him, he gets a new chance to step up to the plate. The new life he can create for himself will be full of risks because although his new environment has a measure of freedom, it will be the unrelenting mission of the group of enemies all around him, the women nurses and the men guards, to shut him up and turn him to stone. The confrontation with the pitcher takes the form, near the beginning of the film, of an interview with the head of the hospital, a psychiatrist. He is an intelligent, scientific humanist who, if he does not yet know all the laws of human behavior, at least is certain that all human behavior must obey laws. His business is to decide who is sane and who is insane, who is worthy to play the rigged game and who is not worthy. Like every pitcher he hates the sudden spontaneity of a base hit and his science is devoted to eliminating all home runs from the universe. McMurphy wants to get by him and be admitted to the mental hospital because life among the mentally ill seems a paradise after the handcuffs and the prison he has just left. To get on base in the psychiatrist’s prison seems at the worst an easy intermediary trip to full freedom. Like all ball players, McMurphy is sure that the only way back home is to first get on base. He has more than enough wit to handle the psychiatrist’s curves and he does earn a base in the cuckoo’s nest where he will be observed to decide if he is normal.
   He is, but his normalcy borders on madness because he has an innocent and fierce wind in the soul that blows where it will. He has enough discipline and reason to set his sails and steer his ship, but he obeys no law except the imperative to be born again with each new tug of the universe on his mast. He is a new Christ admitted to an evil world for a new crucifixion. He is insane because his humanity violates the rules of the rigged game. He is judged a social misfit because he will not sit down and quietly obey his enemies like a vegetable. He has the stiff, self-reliant hardness of a Ty Cobb. He is ready to steal any base in any ball game at any time against any team. Yet he is a new cowboy, not the old sort, usually on a horse above the ground with the glamour and god-like detachment of the sun. The old cowboys got off their horses mostly to punish now and then a few wild western men who disobeyed the law. Randall McMurphy is against any law that cannot prove on the spot its necessity by showing a man some new possibility for life. Like Achelous, the Greek river God, who turned himself from a man back to a river in order to squirt away from the grip of Hercules during a wrestling contest, McMurphy is a new cowboy because he has his eye on not just what is possible. He is not just ready to steal bases. The law allows that. He is ready to try to go all the way home at any moment. His boldness will send him off and running from first base for the plate on just a base hit like Enos Slaughter who scored from first base on a base hit to win the 1946 World Series. He is as innocent as Jesus, as self-reliant as Ty Cobb, and as bold as Enos Slaughter. He is too dangerous to be let out of the mental hospital. He has to be specialized, one way or another, so that he learns to live only according to predetermined models of behavior. Experts in the necessary laws of behavior must operate on him. He must be forced to stand passively touching a base and not be allowed to run freely around the bases.
   R. P. McMurphy walks through the mental hospital for the first time smiling ecstatically. He has, in fact, like Hamlet, faked madness to get out of the prison, and now his joy upon his admission to the new Eden that his cunning has made possible is straight-ahead wacko. He warbles like a bird-man of some new American race and crows like an Indian on the warpath. His words are as jaunty as his steps. He quickly turns the inmates of the ward where he is assigned—those who have ears to hear— into his apostles. He uses the ordinary language of typical American games—poker, Monopoly, basketball, baseball—as the wine of new prophecy. Such games are only water outside the hospital because, although they get close to life, they never get beyond an imitation of life. Inside the hospital, where men are cut off from the miracles of fresh real possibilities, they strike a note of reality. Games produce a more robust flavor in the brain than the mellow tantalization of pills and indoctrination. The language of games is essential to McMurphy because he does not know any path to a New Jerusalem that can be walked without trying to create a direct personal contact with every fellow he meets along his way. He needs his disciples as much as they need him. They don’t speak any language that knows the words of a real communion, but they do turn on to the arguments of games. R.P. McMurphy tries to absolve them from the useless search for a soul already lost by preaching the gospel of leaving themselves to go in a direction that seems farther away from themselves, to first base, to second base, to third base, and then farther away still towards the only really sane self for postmodern man, the one always ready to be born anew by a perpetual innocent search played out independently of the rules of ordinary behavior. He tries to put them on a new schedule of sleeping only to wake up fresh every morning for the start of a new ball game. He preaches that salvation is possible if they but dare to begin to play the game that the rules of the mental hospital, a tightly knit mini-copy of the rigged life outside, do not allow.
   The war between McMurphy’s apostles and the enemy team breaks out at the group therapy meetings ruled by Nurse Ratched, the queen of the ward. Outside, during exercise breaks on the basketball court, McMurphy teaches his team with a basketball how to penetrate to the heart of the real experience offered by the game by daring to throw the ball in a basket. Free from the eye of Nurse Ratched, playing basketball or not, he teaches them how to catch the ball of life. But here, sitting in a circle with his team dazed by Ratched’s presence, he can only watch with gaping eyes while she cuts them up with the knife of analysis. The therapy meeting is like a board meeting of a corporation whose members have all lost their souls. Board members of business corporations meet to decide how to use a power that is absent from the meeting but is real because the reality of human work, of goods and services produced, lies behind the accounting figures of their discussions and decisions. The members of Nurse Ratched’s board meet to analyze publicly how to use a power that is simply non-existing. She wants the human beings of her circle to mark the debits and credits of an absent balance sheet. Psychology calls this absent government in the human soul that has life-like fantasies but no real business the unconscious. Nurse Ratched wants her executives, whose egos are half-dead and near burial, to become conscious of something unconscious, to analyze an absent business, to hold the mirror of rational logic before their lost souls.
   For example, at the first board meeting that McMurphy attends, Nurse Ratched wants one member, Harding, who has admitted at previous meetings that he suspects his wife is cheating on him, to tell why he suspects her. Harding says that he can only “speculate as to the reasons why”. Ratched asks if he has ever “speculated” that perhaps he is “impatient” with his wife because she does not meet his “mental requirements”. Her measured, calculating words are alive with sexual innuendo. He answers that the only thing he can truly speculate about is the very existence of his life, with or without his wife. But he is unable to keep the focus of the group away from his relations with his wife because others interrupt with snickers expressing more sexual innuendo. Harding himself suddenly uses the word “peculiar” and the word flies wildly among fellow members of the cuckoo board, causing alarm. He bravely insists that being “peculiar” is not the problem: “I’m not just talking about my wife. I’m talking about my life. I can’t seem to get that through to you. I’m not just talking about one person. I’m talking about everybody. I’m talking about form, I’m talking about content, I’m talking about interrelationships. I’m talking about God, the devil, hell, heaven. Do you understand finally?” But under the stare of Ratched and with the hubbub of the cuckoo group, without the bounce of action and reaction to add rhyme to their reasoning, his words float by without effect. The truth risks becoming a feather unless it becomes a man. Harding’s mental health requires the courage of his accepting his being’s uniqueness, whatever it may be, as a vital and necessary element of his personality that need not be subject to anyone’s analysis. By putting himself in the position of being judged “peculiar” by a group, he turns himself into a defenseless object out of touch with a wholesome inner experience of his uniqueness. Ratched’s weapon against the mental health of being unique is the fist of two plus two equals four. She urges them to speak freely because getting talk of peculiarities out in the open under the gun of rationality produces the fission between mind and soul that reveals the world of guilt. The innocence of our experience is routinely destroyed when the mind, detached, dictates that every experience is necessarily good or evil. Ratched wants her patients to analyze what they are rather than be who they are. Being unique, from the point of view of rational knowledge, can only be a fault that must be corrected for if it is a genuine element of being then it means anything may be, no one’s peculiarity should be ruled out because it does not fit some abstract rational standard. Ratched wants them to do the rational tail chasing of all losers. She wants them to confess in public the sin of not being just like everyone else.
   McMurphy, a perpetual ball player, knows that psychological introspection on a group basis is just a trick to make him take his eye off the ball. Without a ball and a bat, far from a real baseball field, he has to either blow some life into the mouths of the dead around him or condemn himself to just thinking about playing perpetual baseball alone with himself in the terrible solitude of a mind cut off from the bounce of emotion. Perpetual baseball, like baseball itself, is a game requiring individual boldness and initiative, but individual effort cannot come to fruition (without the miracle of a home run) unless combined with a team of individuals trying to aid one another and using the same bases of security in order to fulfill their mission. Perpetual baseball is a team sport and Ratched has McMurphy’s team on their butts in a vicious circle where questions do not seek real answers and guilt is the name of the game. She is striking them all out. Their bats seem clumsy and useless. They lack the power to even begin the journey on the base paths. How easy it would be to coach his team and get his players and himself going if he and his eight disciples were on a real ball field in a real game and Ratched were but the enemy pitcher on the mound! McMurphy could jump up and shout encouragement with words everyone could understand. Wait for a good pitch! Keep your eye on the ball! She’s throwing you curves! It would be the easiest thing in the world to make his players see that she was trying to get them out of the game completely, to nullify them, to strike them out. And he himself could jump into the game, go to bat for his team, make something happen. But they are not on a ball field, they are mice in a laboratory with a well-meaning scientist who is not even aware that she is forcing them to submit to the law of an evil experiment. If McMurphy were to jump up from his seat in the vicious circle and try to save his disciples by hoping beyond hope that they could imagine they were in a game on a ball field, if he were to jump up and shout, “Wait for a good pitch! She’s striking you out! She’s trying to rig the game!”, if he were, so to speak, to start announcing the rules for perpetual baseball right in Ratched’s laboratory, where only the game of perpetual reason counts, his disciples would only believe that he was crazy and nurse Ratched’s laboratory approach would win the game because McMurphy would be a case study before their eyes of that wildness that obeys only the laws of life and speaks its own language. McMurphy would show himself as he truly is but in a way that would make him seem to be really crazy.
   The question then is not whether McMurphy, a poker player, will put up or shut up. He must shut up because Ratched’s well-meaning mind does not hear any words that do not fit a programmed groove of mathematical meaning and syntax. She does not catch any words that she cannot throw back in a pat sentence that has the firm indifference of a straightjacket. Words alone will not produce the miracle of speaking to his disciples of the tree of life because he can only speak to them, with Ratched refereeing her own game, through a word processor that edits out any nuances that speak of unpredictable possibilities. Ordinary words are just another routine out. He must put up a bet voiced in words able to duck the fists of Ratched’s logic yet secretly with the power to lead his poor souls to some blessed, unspeakable redemption. Four cards are now dealt face up to all the players and they all lose if someone does not have an ace in the hole.
   At the next board meeting, the following afternoon, McMurphy turns over his hidden card:

Nurse Ratched: Last time we were discussing Mr. Harding and the problem with his wife, and I think we were making a lot of progress. So who would like to begin today? Mr. McMurphy?

McMurphy: Yeah. I’ve been thinking about what you said about uh, you know, getting things off your chest, and uh well there’s a couple of things that I’d like to get off my chest.

Nurse Ratched: Well that’s very good, Mr. McMurphy. Go ahead.

McMurphy: OK. Today as you may or may not know—it doesn’t matter—is the opening of the World Series. What I’d like to suggest is that we change the work detail to night so that we can watch the ball game.

   The World Series! Up to this point, watching the film, we have not really listened to the talk of the board because the members, Ratched included, have not said anything that comes from themselves. But now we feel the tension and excitement of some new possibility, we hear the words of a new language. We all obey laws, like McMurphy’s disciples, of sterile obligations that war against our deeper obligation to create ourselves in a way that befits our human dignity. We all take absent problems seriously. But here is an absent business that is real. All they have to do to know the sorrows and joys, the outs and base hits of a free enterprise is to turn on the television set!
   The real business of the board can only be that each member accepts his own absurdity as a creative source of his unique personality. A truth that cannot be ascertained in any scientific laboratory is that to be healthy we must cut the cord with reason as the mother of our invention and follow the threads of our beings’ peculiarities even if the new paths are through shadowy regions that produce fear and trembling. We will never find the spaces in the outside world where the impossible is possible if we give up in advance the free use of the secret possibilities within ourselves to be manipulated by the same indifferent power that tries to regulate our public and conscious behavior. But McMurphy is far from announcing that salvation must be achieved right now by a real mystical experience. He is willing to settle for a televised substitute. In the baseball game men obey laws that exist nowhere but in the realm of their play, and a totally new form of life embodies itself where the impossible is always possible because the rules allow it. The game on the television is the play within the play where he will escape the rational consciousness of Ratched by showing his disciples in a rationalized form the base paths to the New Jerusalem. The ball game is an unwritten, unspoken, ritual drama of primal antagonisms and spontaneous, miraculous absolutions. The board members will never hear the drumbeat of themselves, the music of their uniqueness, until they get rid of the noise of reason and analysis in the brain. The ball game is a mystical experience that is a regular service of the mass media. It is a chance to watch a game that may short-circuit the one they are now playing.
   At this moment, however, the moment of McMurphy’s suggestion, only we, outside the circle, feel the excitement of some new possibility. And McMurphy has not even hinted that a mystical experience, even a televised version, is possible. He has not suggested that Ratched allow some substitute adversary into the play who may hide behind a curtain, like Polonius in Hamlet, waiting to be stabbed. No one knows that baseball may be a new adversary for the hero of reason except McMurphy and at this moment he is not talking. He is not offering some real opportunity for his disciples to play perpetual baseball, nor some opportunity for himself to play perpetual baseball because he is always playing it. McMurphy’s suggestion is almost totally neutral, neither a nothing nor a something but a faint hint of something else. McMurphy’s ace in the hole is not some cancellation of Ratched’s logic, which could only take a violent form, but the ace of a blank suggestion that seems as dead as the blank screen of the turned-off television set. Ratched is a bitch of perpetual reason because reason drugs her with a continual artificial fullness. It never lets the water out of her tub. McMurphy has merely pulled the plug.
   She sees his flimsy ploy, but as she reaches down and presses the plug into the hole, she suddenly takes her eye off the ball and begins passing out privileged information about what goes on secretly offstage.

Nurse Ratched: Well, Mr. McMurphy, what you’re asking is that we change a very carefully worked out schedule.

McMurphy: A little change never hurt, huh? A little variety?

Nurse Ratched: Well, it’s not necessarily true, Mr.McMurphy. You know, some men on the ward take a long, long time to get used to the schedule. Change it now and they might find it very disturbing.
McMurphy: They can go back to the schedule after the Series. I’m talking about the World Series, Nurse Ratched. Huh?

   The board members are on a schedule that has been carefully worked out for them! She admits that, even though the board members might find it very disturbing, the schedule can be changed. She herself translates McMurphy’s nearly blank suggestion into words that speak of the possibility of proceeding in some different, disturbing way, and worse still for a hero of reason, this new direction would not be prearranged! She lets the ball drop and bounce right into McMurphy’s hands. Suddenly he is almost shouting words that would have seemed absurd a few moments ago, but are now blessed with meaning:

McMurphy: They can go back to the schedule after the Series. I’m talking about the World Series, Nurse Ratched.

   He is right to be excited because a voice of reason has admitted that when logic does the business of ruling human behavior its design always presupposes an end that excludes ipso facto any deviation whatsoever. Reason has confessed publicly that “It’s not necessarily true” that “a little change never hurt”, but what it really means is “It is necessarily true that a little change always hurts.” Ratched tells her patients that they are mice that experimenters have put in a cage and that the logic that the experiment forces them to accept is that they will harm themselves if they dare to leave! She has by no means opened a door, but she has certainly admitted that some alien program could harm the program she has put in the computer. She has openly admitted to McMurphy’s disciples what he merely coolly hinted at: that a new groove is possible by turning on the television to watch the ball game.
   In fact, in the next breath she confesses her mistake:

Nurse Ratched: Well, anyway this is no way to proceed about this ...
   
   She suggests that they take a vote to decide whether or not they watch the ball game: McMurphy loses. He gets only three votes out of a possible eighteen. Yet a momentary flip-flop of Ratched’s logic sent C our after D and to get her troops back in the prearranged march ABCD and avoid the terrible possibility of ABDCXZ, of a quantum leap, she has had to resort to democracy, to the awesome freedom of people prearranging their own schedule. And the crisscross of words echoing hurried thoughts has said more in toto than either Ratched or McMurphy intended. The sum of their conflict can only be answered, as in the ancient Greek theater, by the voice of a chorus that responds to the confusion of antagonistic thought with the unity of a collective voice.
   The voice of the chorus speaks the next day at the third board meeting. Meanwhile, the night before, McMurphy gives his team a great pep talk by inspiring them to try to break out of their prison, out of the hospital, and watch the baseball game on television as a kind of mythological challenge that they should attempt even though it seems beyond the realm of possibility. They have already lost the real ball game because they failed to vote to watch the baseball game on television. But McMurphy cares nothing, absolutely nothing, about ball games that have already been lost. He doesn’t even mention the possibility of voting at the board meeting the next day to watch the second game of the World Series on television. Instead, he announces that he is going to go downtown now and watch the World Series anyway at a bar and invites them to come along with him. Is he talking about a real ball game or a fantasy ball game? Does he mean he can watch a replay of the game? How can the ball game that was played that afternoon and is already over be seen? Even a replay, highly unusual on nighttime television in 1963, would already be a ball game that is partly fantasy since the real game has already been played while the playing seems to be going on. It is impossible to say whether this new ball game is real or not but it does not really make any difference because the nerve of his pep talk is to get his disciples to imagine that the impossible is possible. And anyway there always seems to be a ball game downtown in some bar when a perpetual ball player is imprisoned. They should have the courage to take a lead off base themselves and run off downtown too! One, Chesswick, who will be the voice of the chorus the next day at the board meeting, even agrees to go off with McMurphy. To bust a hole in the hospital wall, McMurphy decides that he must lift up a sink in the ward’s men’s room that is at least twice his weight and fastened to the floor. This is a real enough plan because to bust a hole through the bars a huge object is necessary, but there are other ways out and the challenge has more than a hint of mythology, something like the challenge of Indo- European heroes of legend who had to prove their superhuman worth by pulling some magic sword out of the ground. In any case, he gives them a laboratory demonstration in the men’s room of trying to do the impossible. He even bets them real money that he can lift the sink. He makes a superhuman effort and fails, but his promethean grunts and groans and the supreme tension of his muscles say all that need be said against those who say that it is impossible to play perpetual baseball in a mean world that seems crammed with only petty possibilities: try.
   At the meeting the next day, McMurphy is silent and Ratched is back on her high horse. She starts tramping on Billy, a sensitive, boyish young man with a severe stutter.

    Nurse Ratched: Did you tell the girl how you felt about her?

   Billy (stuttering): Well, I went over to her house one Sunday afternoon and I brought her some flowers. And I said, I said, Celia will you (stuttering extremely) marry me? (Snickers and chortles from the board)

    Nurse Ratched: Billy, why did you want to marry her?
    Billy: (stuttering): Well, I was in love with her.

    Nurse Ratched: Your mother told me that you never told her about it. (Long pause) Billy, why didn’t you tell her about it? (Long pause) Billy, wasn’t that the first time you tried to commit suicide?

   The fist of two plus two equals four lets rip for the millionth time a low fastball over the outside of the plate! A real human being, conscious of the mind’s limitations, reserves judgment about matters that cannot and perhaps should not be known. Zing! Ratched’s logic not only knows the secrets of the human heart but also discovers there a cause-and-effect relationship between the inability to speak of love and suicide. Billy is right not to answer her. There is nothing to say. We are at zero.
   Some voice from the chorus of Ratched’s dead souls must find the strength somewhere to move muscles to produce a totally new therapy. Chesswick, a small ineffectual man, suddenly feels in himself the birth of a creation out of nothing that once happened in American culture, the birth of baseball. Indeed, the true measure of the miracle is that he does nothing more and nothing less than what Americans have traditionally done to make something happen that has fresh life in an atmosphere of cultural sterility: he begins talking baseball. He begins speaking the only language that every American can understand in the fight to transform the laboratory of Ratched’s evil, controlled experiments to the arena of endless human possibilities. Chesswick goes to bat for himself, for his team, and for Billy.

Chesswick: Oh, my God.

Nurse Ratched: Yes, Mr. Chesswick?
Chesswick: Miss Ratched, I’d like to ask you a question please.
Nurse Ratched: Go ahead.

Chesswick: OK. Uh, you know, if uh, Billy doesn’t feel like uh talking, I mean, uh, why are you pressing him? Why can’t we go on to some new business? Huh?
Nurse Ratched: The business of this meeting, Mr. Chesswick, is therapy.

Chesswick: Oh. Well, you know I can understand this, Miss Ratched, because, uh, I know, uh, Mr.McMuephy, he said something yesterday about, uh, a World Series, a baseball game? You know, and I’ve never been to a baseball game, and well I think I’d like to see one. And that’d be good therapy, too, wouldn’t it Miss Ratched?
Nurse Ratched: I thought we decided that issue.
Chesswick: No, I, uh, I don’t think so because, I mean, we, uh, discussed that yesterday and uh we have a new game today, I think, don’t we Mac?
McMurphy: That’s right, Chess. And we want a new vote on it, don’t we?
Nurse Ratched: Will one more vote satisfy you, Mr.McMurphy?
McMurphy: Yuh, it’ll satisfy me.
Nurse Ratched: There’s a vote before the group. Everyone in favor of changing the schedule please raise your hand.
   What can be a better drama of the inner conflict of the American soul than to watch a queen of reason, hearing the sound of that soul, rush to set up a new controlled experiment whose outcome she can rig? She seems to have abandoned prearranged categories, but her ploy is only the momentary twitter of a democratic vote whose outcome she has foreclosed because she controls in advance the categories that will regulate the vote. But Ratched will not freeze R.P. McMurphy in any category because at the bottom of the soul of America lies a primal word, an unwritten mythical tongue, and he will speak it. We are now watching in open conflict the struggle of two teams playing for different cities. Ratched’s city is formed by rational consciousness and reason. McMurphy is playing for the city of the impossible, the heavenly city of endless games where gestures are never bound to practical ends, where means are confused with ends and there is never any need for a final score. In McMurphy’s city, men play perpetual games of their own free invention on Elysian Fields for from the hospitals of reason and rational consciousness. Ratched’s city can only force McMurphy’s city to reverse the natural order of history: since American life created baseball, he must now use baseball to recreate American life. He will speak primal words because under the pretense of democracy Ratched is plotting to refuse him real words. In her city no one even suspects that a mythical Mickey Mantle is always trying to hit the mythical curve balls of a Sandy Koufax in some corner of the American heart.
   Yet McMurphy now, when a new free vote seems possible, becomes the truth because the cold eye of reason has at least blinked and ahead a path innocent of all the necessary choices of consciousness leads to a new base.To describe the journey in philosophical terms, McMurphy can now fly off towards an end unforeseen by rational knowledge. In terms of baseball, which is the game McMurphy is always playing, he has a chance to steal a base, to win a step ahead in a game played according to rules that allow the impossible. The ball game on the television set is the apple of escape from Ratched’s garden of reason and rational consciousness to a promised land beyond good and evil, to a super incorporation of the self that is not necessary.
   McMurphy’s ace in the hole is really nothing much more than the ploy of a runner on first base eager to steal second base. Ratched has had her eye fastened on him since he got to first base by earning admission to her ward. Ever since then he has been taking a lead, swinging his hands, moving away from his base, believing. A man has been preparing to race off, following the bounce of his fantasy, towards an unknown possibility while the eye of reason, on an imaginary pitching mound, has been holding him on base with the stare of a knowledge that sees only his murder. McMurphy must not fly off too quickly or too slowly but at just the moment when Medusa’s eye blinks. Like a base stealer he will run to his perdition if he leaves base too soon and at the same time he must be quick-witted enough not to leave base too late. Chesswick, another player on his team, has stood up to bat and confused Ratched’s attention span, but there is no help for McMurphy except to face alone the absurdity of a foot race toward the impossible. He has got to continually leave wherever he may be in order to return home. He cannot know whether Ratched’s eye is the stare of a truth superior to a man’s free creation of himself until it blinks and lets him dare to run off and test his ability to create himself freely: instead of trying to know what can exist, he must try to exist without knowing anything except the reality of his voyage in movement towards—the pitcher blinks! The cowboy without a horse is off for second base! A new vote is taken among the board members to decide whether or not to watch the World Series on television! McMurphy’s body and spirit come alive as though he were a base stealer off for second base with every muscle at its peak of strength for the run. A new vote! And every board member is raising his hand! McMurphy feels like a base stealer with his own knees jumping up towards him with furious bounces while his arms pump and his feet rise and fall in a wild flight towards freedom. What a pleasure it is for a cowboy to suddenly feel that there is a way out of the corral even though all the gates are shut! How delicious is even one momentary taste of a freedom that exists only when a man is galloping towards the unknown! Nine hands are up! More than enough votes, it seems, to turn on the ball game! McMurphy slides into second base.
   Safe! But his victory is too sudden and unique to be endowed by reason with permanence. McMurphy has gone far but only as far as reason has prearranged to let him go. He is still fixed in a category that can be the death of his being. Reason has twitched but not budged from her heavy-handed position.

Nurse Ratched: I only count nine votes, Mr.McMurphy.
McMurphy(chuckling): She only counts nine, only nine. It’s a landslide!

Nurse Ratched: There are eighteen patients on this ward, Mr. McMurphy. And you have to have a majority to change ward policy. So you gentlemen can put your hands down now.
   McMurphy (indicating the nine men in the ward not in on the therapy session, men who appear to be hopelessly lost mentally): You trying to tell me that you’re going to count these? These poor sons of bitches, they don’t even know what we’re talking about.

   Nurse Ratched answers, “Well, I have to disagree with you, Mr.McMurphy. These men are members of the ward just as you are.”, which means that she admits what we already suspected, that she was not really switching to some new category, but only giving a false nuance of democracy to the logic of the old category whose limits she holds firmly within predetermined bounds. It could not be otherwise. The scientific method does not allow free inquiry except within categories that it defines in advance by a stoical application of reason to phenomena. Any element within any species that does not fit the predetermined category of the species is simply removed from active consideration as an element of the species. Scientific reason can never win the battle to define reality because it limits its own part in the struggle to the safe area where reason must chase only its own tail. It shuts all the doors forever and knows only in a solipsistic groove that excludes in advance anything that it does not choose to know. At best, if it finds something that does not fit the knowledge it wants, it sets up a new exclusive category, and so on ad infinitum. Luckily for McMurphy, one of the nine lost souls that he must now try to get to vote to watch the World Series is a being outside even the most broadly defined category of American science: he is an Indian.
   McMurphy has already shown himself a successful executive of a new space and new business; he is a perpetual baseball player doing a perpetually new business inspired by the free enterprise spirit of baseball. And McMurphy has inspired his apostles—nine of them raised their hands—to feel the boldness of his enterprise as a power alive within themselves. He has successfully begun to teach the members of his corporation to incorporate themselves by beginning to fly off towards unknown spaces. Since the ball game on the television set has not yet been turned on, he has each of the nine men on his team already playing a new game in a freshly discovered space of the mind that needs neither reason nor television. McMurphy is a sincorporation of a business executive because he tries to market only products that his customers need even though his drum must beat a magical sound to awaken the need. He has cornered a market that nobody wants, he has taught the dregs of America that there is no final out ever if they raise their hands and say yes, if they refuse to buy what they don’t need. But the first out of America, the American Indian, is represented in the drama too in the person of a huge and silent Indian. He makes it his business never to speak at all. His defense against the barbaric mammon and the ferocious iniquity of the white man is to hush up eternally. Any word that comes out of the Indian’s mouth is the sound of a lie that an enemy has whistled into his spirit to scalp his soul. No one can sell him anything at any price because his pride is stronger than his need. Will he raise his hand and let McMurphy’s lowly team of beaten palefaces watch the World Series? The magic of McMurphy’s sales pitch does allow the Indian to speak without words. The Indian can give a signal by raising his hand—he can speak without speaking—that will send for the millionth time a primal ball of the American spirit flying over an American land once again made holy. The pride of even the proudest of the conquered may be defenseless against the music in the soul that calls travelers to follow the base paths of their own free self-creation. The ballgame on television suddenly seems to the Indian a good beyond the goods and evils of the white man’s fiendish invention. He raises his hand.
   But by this time, Ratched has already precluded the sound of a new voice: while McMurphy is on his horse galloping all around the ward hustling to earn just one vote from one of the lost souls, Ratched adjourns the meeting. She turns the screws of the coffin without the slightest regard for either the living or the dead or the in-between. She shoves the uniqueness of the Indian’s assent off to a no-man’s-land with which her reason refuses in advance to have any truck. McMurphy simply ignores her action because he has been on second base too many times with two outs to give up before the third out. She declares the third out in advance without even throwing the ball, but this seems to McMurphy, in the excitement of his long lead off second base, no more than the unspoken claptrap of a pitcher trying to stare him back to his base. His base running soul is speaking words of prophecy all over the ward, talking up a new logic, selling perpetual baseball. All he needs to get home is a base hit! The heroic input of just one man can allow a whole group of men to dare to follow paths that lead to life rather than remain imprisoned in a vicious circle of prearranged failure.
   Meanwhile, this is what has taken place just before Ratched adjourned the meeting:

   Mc Murphy: All right., all I need is one vote, right? Right?

   Nurse Ratched: All right.
   McMurphy: OK. (moving around the ward) Wanna watch the World Series? C’mon, Pal, this could be a big moment for yuh. Now you wanna watch a baseball game? You wanna watch baseball? Just raise that hand up. Just raise the hand. Whatta you say? Sorry. Banchini, old horse, whatta you say, you wanna watch the ball game on TV? Huh? Wanna watch the ball game? Baseball? World Series? Whatta you say, Pal? You tired? Just raise your hand up, Banchini, watch the ball game. Huh? OK. All right. what about you, Pal?All we need’s one vote. Just one vote. Just your one vote! That’s all we need! Just raise your hand up and your buddies can watch the baseball game. General,you remember, don’t yuh? October? The banner, the star, (singing)”Oh say can.” The World Series. Raise your hand up. (singing) “by the dawn’s early light”  Just raise your hand up. What about you, Pal? Wanna watch the ball game? Wanna watch the ball game? Huh? Just one vote. Just raise your . . .”
   Ratched does give McMurphy a chance to go fishing for men in a polluted creek where all the fish are dead, but now she sees that his last possible convert is the Indian, an unknown element in her category that could speak everything or nothing: it’s time to preclude a baptism that might really be possible.

   Nurse Ratched: Gentlemen, the meeting is adjourned.

   McMurphy (ignoring her, shouting): Isn’t there one of you maniacs that knows what I’m talking about?

   Nurse Ratched: Mr. McMurphy.
   McMurphy: Huh?
   Nurse Ratched: The meeting is adjourned.

   McMurphy: All right, just wait a minute, will yuh, just one minute?
   Nurse Ratched: You can bring the subject up again tomorrow.

   McMurphy ( speaking to the Indian): All right, Chief. You’re our last chance. Whatta you say huh? Just raise your hand up. That’s all we need from you today, Chief, just raise your hand up one time. Show her that you can do it. Just show her that you can still do it. Just raise your hand up. All the guys have got ‘em up. Just raise your hand up, Chief, will yuh? Huh? (He turns away from the Indian) Come on, there’s got to be one guy in here that’s not a total nut.

   Chesswick: Mac.

   McMurphy (looking back at the Indian): Chief! The Chief (warbling an Indian war cry) Nurse Ratched. Nurse Ratched, look, look, the Chief put his hand up! The Chief put his hand up. Look. He voted. Would you please turn the—would you please turn the television set on? The Chief has got his hand up right there. (Mastering his excitement and speaking calmly) The Chief voted now will you please turn the television set on?
   Nurse Ratced: Mr. McMurphy, the meeting was adjourned and the vote was closed.

   McMurphy (excited again): But the vote was ten to eight! The Chief, he’s got his hand up! Look!

   Nurse Ratched: No, Mr. McMurphy, when the meeting was adjourned, the vote was nine to nine.
   Randall McMurphy has done everything he could to trick Moby Dick into not slapping men down with his tail, but toying with a power that has no possibility of meeting with human beings on the sacred ground of their true dignity only makes the tail more rigid, its force more furious and more deadly. Randall McMurphy wants to watch the baseball game so badly that he even stoops to appealing to the monster’s humanity!
   McMurphy: Ah, come on, you’re not gonna say that now, you’re not gonna say that now.

   But Captain Ahab is one of his ancestors so he does not fear heading out, when reason and humanity fail, to the open sea of his just anger:

   McMurphy (continuing angrily): You’re not gonna pull that hen house shit now when the vote—the Chief just voted, it was ten to eight. (Shouting wildly) Now I want that television set turned on right now.

   McMurphy is nowhere. He is speaking words outside the known categories. He is being wasted by a power that speaks words that squeeze the edges of its victim’s brain until the mind is narrowed to a spectrum of naive and petty universals and is unable even to realize that it is itself about to collapse for lack of air. McMurphy is on the floor. He will get up. He will go to bat again. He will not obey a law that contains a universal judgment contrary to the living stamina of his inner dignity. Not now, not ever. He has been on second base too many times when the third out has been forced on his team to give up. But the way he creates himself anew, the way he hits his home run in spite of the enormous odds against him, needs to be examined by us very closely.
   We must understand that McMurphy has been stripped by Ratched of the power to speak in a known language. Ratched has him where she wants him, at zero. She has him screaming like a maniac. She has him surrounded by blank walls in a silence so total that the sounds of normal words touch no human being even slightly and even echo back into McMurphy’s own mind as an indictment against himself. If going crazy is hearing words that come clear and straight from the heart fall flat on another’s ear, then McMurphy is going crazy. Every roll of the dice is coming up snake eyes. He can’t change the dice so he has to change the name of the game.
   We are talking about how an American man saves his soul. McMurphy must create himself from zero without the tool of a known language.  He must sit down in front of a blank television screen, cut off from reality by a rational lunatic, with his group of lost souls, and somehow find words of a new and powerful innocence that will make his disciples members of an unbeatable, primal ball team. McMurphy must either speak with the tongue of some language declaring that his being is forever the enemy of Ratched’s logic or accept to live as a speechless dummy with the fiber of his being tied fast by her ropes. What will McMurphy say? Where is the language of some miraculous ignorance that can turn McMurphy and his scarecrows back into real men?
   Under the stare of Nurse Ratched, a Sphinx with the victorious cold look of a beast whose paws are unable to touch human skin except with the hurt of animal claw, McMurphy, sitting before the blank television screen, looks up at the nothingness with eyes glimmering with excitement and says, “Koufax, Koufax kicks. He delivers. It’s up the middle! It’s a base hit! Richardson is rounding first, he’s going for second! The ball’s into deep right center! Davis is over to cover, to cut the ball off! Here comes the throw. Richardson’s rounding first, he’s going for second. The ball’s into deep right center. He goes into second. He slides. He’s in there. He’s safe! It’s a double! He’s in there, Martini, look at Richardson, he’s on second base! Koufax is in big trouble! Big trouble, baby! All right . . . .”  Words lifeless and absurd for the calculating mind release the blessed waters of an ignorance innocent of all the necessary goods and evils of Ratched’s world. The sound of McMurphy’s trumpet begins to crumble the walls of her city. Then a sacred eye in the depth of his soul sees a mythical home run hitter come to the plate waving the magical bat of all our impossible hopes. The batter swings and McMurphy shouts, “It’s a long fly ball to deep left center.” And now all his disciples around him are shouting with equal enthusiasm for McMurphy proclaims it a home run. They are wild and noisy and crazy with the loud shouts of hope, over the wall of Ratched’s prison. McMurphy’s players are suddenly the true apostles of his gospel because the words of his imagination have become a real power within themselves. McMurphy sees something where there appears to be nothing. A holy candle of an imaginary baseball game is suddenly shining in the darkness. The mythos of baseball at the root of his disciples’ minds comes magically alive and primal cries of freedom and joy echo from a pulse beat suddenly in rhyme with the deepest rhythms of our continent. That beat thrills to the sounds of our real language. The syntax and sentence structure and above all the verb of baseball’s mysterious and ingenious drama establish in the soul the language that says, among other things, that our true dignity is forever ready to burst out if we but have the courage to play the game of living the truth and that playing at making the impossible possible is a serious American business.