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book cover of Ground Zero

Ground Zero

A novel by

Howdy stranger, Come on in from the dread frozen wastes of Cyberia, relax and rest your RSI-racked body by the warmth of my campfire, virtually speaking, that is, while I tell you a little about Ground Zero (GZ). Perhaps the best place to start is by confessing that I derived a lot of malicious pleasure endowing antagonist F. Fokko Okkels, a rather unsavory scandal sheet reporter nicknamed 'the dung beetle' with the lowest standards of professional and personal conduct conceivable. Yet despite his obvious faults Okkels evokes sympathy precisely because he turned out to be 'human, all too human'. Nor is his unenviable predicament anything to sneer at.

You see, Okkels happens to confront head on formidable foe Herman Gnuticks (HG) - a.k.a. 'the Wiseguy from the West' - and his gang of merry pranksters, who happen to be on book tour in Europe. And in that sense GZ is not only a fast-paced parody of science and philosophy, but also of the press and book publishing biz. The band of practical jokers are on the road to pitch HG's latest release 'Guide for the Apoplexed' - actually included as freebee book-within-a-book. GZ's corrosive prose - "a work of friction, work o' fart" - according to one cranky criticaster - chronicles the (mis)adventures of the group united in the so-called Philosofictional Society. Their main aim is to try to generate publicity for 'Guide' via book-signing sessions, newspaper and television interviews - culminating in an attempt on HG's life by a jealous rival; awkward moments on a nudist TV talk show; and numerous other stimulating encounters, set against a canvas splashed with lots of local color.

On route in Holland, HG's henchmen con poor Okkels in the worst possible way while the mud-raking little runt of a reporter sweeps along the plot by the expedient of contentious updates in his paper. However, try as he might, the crux of Guide - as soberly written as GZ is flighty - eludes the overeager tabloid hound, who somehow always manages to bark up the wrong tree. Not surprisingly really, given that nothing less than (wo)man's age-old quest to crack the cosmic conundrum is at stake.

An old Chinese proverb says: We stand on a whale catching minnows. The exhilarating, if ominous, implication of this kernel of oriental wisdom is that there's something momentous afoot, which with a little bit of bad luck is never fully grasped between cradle and grave - even as we fritter away precious time in petty pursuits. Why should this be so? One likely explanation is that we are caught in the suffocating stranglehold of this conventional workaday world of ours by virtue of a lifetime of socialization, conditioned to think of ourselves as 'mere mortals' - creatures put here by a (benevolent?) God, or else chance products of a callously indifferent evolutionary process. Ultimately neither makes sense and could potentially plunge us into deep psychological crisis via the dangerous routes of religious fundamentalism, scientific reductionism or philosophical nihilism. How then to proceed? Ancient Indian sagacity provides a tantalizing hint: Knowledge is ignorance; ignorance knowledge. And if you think about it that's precisely the crux of the Christian myth of the fall from grace and expulsion from paradise by dint of having eaten fromthe Tree of Knowledge! Other cultures and religions, too, hint in the same direction. Knowledge - consciousness more generally - is a double-edged sword, conferring power upon its possessor while simultaneously severing knower from known. Subject and object, self and not-self, are juxtaposed, spontaneously creating an insidious dualism that mercilessly traps us inside a Pandora's box of opposites - all too often ensnaring us in conflict and strife. Building on this insight GZ - pitched as 'gateway between the dual and nondual' - puts it all together, insinuating an actually attainable enlightenment in our lifetime. The price exacted for non-attainment is 'dualing to the death' - a fate worse than a fate worse than death and a thorough waste considering that enlightenment is everyone's birthright. So why not take a chance? You'll be getting your hands on a book that is a playful yet deadly serious spoof; a wholly justifiable read both as pleasant pastime and solid investment in your own future. If, like the countless thinkers throughout the ages you're fascinated, obsessed even, by the Riddle of Riddles, you can't afford to ignore GZ - fruit of 30 years hard labor. P.L.


Used availability for Paul Lysymy's Ground Zero

Paperback Editions

December 2000 : USA Paperback

Title: Ground Zero
Author(s): Paul Lysymy
ISBN: 1-56315-261-4 / 978-1-56315-261-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Sterling House Pub
Availability: Amazon