Imagine how you’d feel if you walked outside your home one morning to see a white cube, half the size of a city block, hovering noiselessly a hundred feet above the ground.
At first you’d probably be confused.
You’d try to understand what, if anything, you’d missed, and what the trick might be. You’d rub your eyes, walk around beneath the cube to check for hidden supports, and do what you could to determine, first and foremost, if anything but the apparent interpretation of this apparition were true.
Following the collapse of your conventional explanations for the cube’s existence and position, you’d be confronted with the fact that everything you believed about gravity, space, and perhaps reality itself was either incomplete or false.
What might you then feel?
I’ll tell you: terror.
I don’t mean in the body- or psychological-horror sense. I mean in the proper sense of awe, humility, and reverence when an insignificant human being is exposed to powers of Consciousness and Order far beyond what he could previously imagine.
I often felt that when reading “Sanction” and after I finished it.
It’s also the highest praise I can give to any work of art: that it stretches and ultimately shatters my notions of what’s possible, standing radiant as a testament to itself and by extension everything else in the culture that produced it, both in compliment and critique.
“Sanction” was ostensibly written by one man, Roman McClay. I say “ostensibly” not to cast doubt upon its authorship or attribution—neither of which I question—but because it’s obviously the work of a mind greater than just one man.
Some sections of the book are autobiographical and bear the moving marks of manly grit and grief over the loss, betrayal, and hardship that left deeper wounds and brighter scars on an unusually sensitive and generous heart.
Other sections of the book display a mastery of such complex and nuanced subjects as oenology, neurology, genetics, evolutionary biology, petroleum engineering, and literary analysis.
Finally, Sanction also revels (rightfully) in a philosophy derived from a life well- and fully-lived, and also widely-read—an uncommon combination when the mass of men today choose either one or the other.
But within and between these lurks the inescapable sense of a deeper, higher voice speaking through a chosen vessel that had been shaped to contain and convey, as best he could, something larger than him.
Pragmatic men will read that and laugh, and perhaps call me obsequious. To them it’s axiomatic that the only books worth reading come from major publishing houses.
Meanwhile, men who’ve completed the book will know exactly what I mean and snicker like they’re missing eight fingers. Because now they know better.
Regardless, those were the thoughts that accompanied me during my reading of “Sanction”, as I often attempted to understand the book itself more than the story.
Though the book also has a story. It leaps across time and space, weaving through multiple perspectives, requiring eight-hundred pages in the first volume alone to justify its four-word opening sentence:
“Pain demands a response.”
A work of pure philosophy would explicate this claim, citing sources and scholars as it built a case for action in the face of unjust suffering. In an era where non-fiction books outsell fiction by about half, an author could be forgiven for taking that approach.
“Sanction” doesn’t. Using its first-chair performers of autobiography, scholarship, and philosophy, it weaves a symphonic science-fictional tale of one man, Lyndon MacLeod, aka “The Inmate”, and the life—or really, lives—that mold him over forty-plus years into a living instrument of will.
To say more would betray a story I’m not only incapable of doing justice to, but that demands to be experienced word-by-word and turn-by-turn in the picture-house of your mind.
In this way, “Sanction” is a journey you must go on. It’s an initiation: a task that no man can complete for you, a meal that no other system can digest, and a revelation that has its own music to whisper into your heart.
And your balls.
For “Sanction” too is a man, a formidable master who will not transmit his wisdom without a fight. In the opening stages of the book, it will do everything in its power to prevent you from reading it. Unanswered questions tumble from its pages like cold grains of Scottish hail. The vocabulary incapacitated my dictionary with precise KunTao Silat de Thouars strikes as obviously repetitious, stylistic words flexed over its fallen body.
The first chapter takes the form of a lecture by an unknown, “post-biological” character who all but accuses the reader—in ample use of the second person—of unworthiness. And in case you’re foolhardy enough not to take him seriously, the second chapter allows the reader to eavesdrop on an extended dinner conversation by a group of five men smarter, stronger, more dangerous, and all with higher T-scores than anyone you know. Plus they all have the same name, except one man.
If you make it through this gauntlet, congratulations. You’re sixty pages in. Seven-hundred forty more to go.
Thus a weak man will not, cannot read “Sanction.” And frankly, “Sanction” doesn’t want him to. Because it’s not for him.
It’s a book for men who’ll work the double- or triple-shift in the oil field, rebuild a dozen businesses in the cackling face of treachery, or burn down the vineyard after a harvest because fuck you, I serve a higher law.
If you are that man, or wish to be, “Sanction” is for you. Perhaps “Sanction” is you. If you’re willing to shed blood from your high self-regard to have your genetic line be invigilated by the work, you and it will see.
Sanction does eventually invite the reader in. When, why, and how, I have decided not to say. I want you to climb the mountain with me and look out from the summit, as we savor a glass of Bordeaux.
Trust me when I say you’ll want to have earned it.
Because from 8760 feet you’ll witness a miracle: the squared circle, an impossibility accomplished nonetheless. The white cube hovering over the wasteland. The thing that shouldn’t be there, but is.
The mathematical implications will then be yours to estimate. Is it prophecy? A warning? Is God coming back into the world? Maybe.
But by the end you will know, as I do, that men now have their sanction.