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"You're the one who invited me for coffee."
"True, and both of us are off duty. See here: if you look at the world in a certain way, everything is connected to everything else." A nice hermetic philosopheme, I thought. He immediately added: "I'm not saying that those people are connected with politics, but . . . There was a time when we went looking for the Red Brigades in squats and the Black Brigades in martial arts clubs; nowadays the opposite could be true. We live in a strange world. My job, I assure you, was easier ten years ago. Today, even among ideologies, there's no consistency. There are times when I think of switching to narcotics. There, at least you can rely on a heroin pusher to push heroin."
There was a pause—he was hesitating, I think. Then, from his pocket, he produced a notebook the size of a missal. "Look, Casaubon, you see some strange people as part of your job. You go to the library and look up even stranger books. Help me. What do you know about synarchy?"
"Now you're embarrassing me. Almost nothing. I heard it mentioned in connection with Saint-Yves; that's all."
"What are they saying about it, around?"
"If they're saying anything, I haven't heard. To be frank, it sounds like fascism to me."
"Actually, many of its theses were picked up by Action Francaise. If that were the whole story, I'd be okay. I find a group that talks about synarchy and I can give it a political color. But in my reading, I've learned that in 1929 a certain Vivian Postel du Mas and Jeanne Canudo founded a group called Polaris, which was inspired by the myth of the King of the World. They proposed a synarchic project: social service opposed to capitalist profit, the elimination of the class struggle through cooperatives. . . . It sounds like a kind of Fabian socialism, a libertarian and communitarian movement. Note that both Polaris and the Irish Fabians were accused of being involved in a synarchic plot led by the Jews. And who accused them? The Revue internationals des societes secretes, which talks about a Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik plot. Many of its contributors belonged to a secret right-wing organization called La Sapiniere. And they say that all these revolutionary groups are only the front for a diabolical plot hatched by an occultist cenacle. Now you'll say: All right, Saint-Yves ended up inspiring reformist groups, but these days the right lumps everything together and sees it all as a demo-pluto-social-Judaic conspiracy. Mussolini did the same thing. But why accuse them of being controlled by an occultist cenacle? According to the little I know — take Picatrix, for example — those occultism people couldn't care less about the workers' movement."
"So it seems also to me, O Socrates. So?"
"Thanks for the Socrates. But now we're coming to the good part. The more I read on the subject, the more I get confused. In the forties various self-styled synarchic groups sprang up; they talked about a new European order led by a government of wise men, above party lines. And where did these groups meet? In Vichy collaborationist circles. Then, you say, we got it wrong; synarchy is right-wing. But hold on! Having read this far, I begin to see that there is one theme that finds them all in agreement: Synarchy exists and secretly rules the world. But here comes the 'but'.
"But on January 24, 1937, Dmitri Navachine, Mason and Martinist (I don't know what Martinist means, but I think it's one of those sects), economic adviser of the Front Populaire, after having been director of a Moscow bank, was assassinated by the Organisation secrete d'action revolutionnaire et nationals, better known as La Cagoule, financed by Mussolini. It was said then that La Cagoule was guided by a secret synarchy and that Navachine was killed because he had discovered its mysteries. A document originating from left-wing circles during the Occupation denounced a synarchic Pact of the Empire, which was responsible for the French defeat, a pact that was a manifestation of Portuguese -style fascism. But then it turned out that the pact was drawn up by Du Mas and Canudo and contained ideas they had published and publicized everywhere. Nothing secret about it. But these ideas were revealed as secret, extremely secret, in 1946 by one Husson, who denounced a revolutionary synarchic pact of the left, as he wrote in his Synarchy, panorama de 25 annees d'activite occults, which he signed . . . wait, let me find it . . . Geoffroy de Charnay."
"Fine!" I said. "Charnay was a companion of Molay, the grand master of the Templars. They died together at the stake. Here we have a neo-Templar attacking synarchy from the right. But synarchy is born at Agarttha, which is the refuge of the Templars!"
"What did I tell you? You see, you've given me an additional clue. Unfortunately, it only increases the confusion. So, on the right, a synarchic pact of the left is denounced as socialist and secret, though it's not really secret; it's the same synarchic pact, as you saw, that was denounced by the left. And now we come to new revelations: synarchy is a Jesuit plot to undermine the Third Republic. A thesis expounded by Roger Mennevee, leftist. To allow me to sleep nights, my reading then tells me that in 1943 in certain Vichy military circles—Petainist, yes, but anti-German—documents circulated that prove synarchy was a Nazi plot: Hitler was a Rosicrucian influenced by the Masons, who now have moved from hatching a Judeo-Bolshevik plot to making an imperial German one."
"So everything is settled."
"If only that were all. Yet another revelation: Synarchy is a plot of the international technocrats. This was asserted in 1960 by one Villemarest, Le 14e complot du 13 mai. The techno-synarchic plot wants to destabilize governments and, to do it, provokes wars, backs coups d'etat, foments schisms in political parties, promotes internecine hatreds. . . . Do you recognize these synarchists?"
"My God, it's the IMS, the Imperalist Multinational State — what the Red Brigades were talking about a few years ago!"
"The answer is correct. And now what does Inspector De Angelis do if he finds a reference to synarchy somewhere? He asks the advice of Dr. Casaubon, the Templar expert."
"My answer: There exists a secret society with branches throughout the world, and its plot is to spread the rumor that a universal plot exists."
"You're joking, but I—"
"I'm not joking. Come and read the manuscripts that turn up at Manutius. But if you want a more down-to-earth explanation, it's like the story of the man with a bad stammer who complains that the radio station wouldn't hire him as an announcer because he didn't carry a party card. We always have to blame our failures on somebody else, and dictatorships always need an external enemy to bind their followers together. As the man said, for every complex problem there's a simple solution, and it's wrong."
"And if, on a train, I find a bomb wrapped in a flier that talks about synarchy, is it enough for me to say that this is a simple solution to a complex problem?"
"Why? Have you found bombs on trains that . . . No, excuse me. That's really not my business. But why did you say that to me, then?"
"Because I was hoping you'd know more than I do. Because perhaps I'm relieved to see you can't make head or tail of it either. You say you have to read lunatics by the carload and you consider it a waste of time. I don't. For me, the works of your lunatics—by `your' I'm referring to you normal people — are important texts. What a lunatic writes may explain the thinking of the man who puts the bomb on the train. Or are you afraid of becoming a police informer?"
"No, not at all. Besides, looking for things in card catalogs is my business. If the right piece of information turns up, I'll keep you in mind."
As he rose from his chair, De Angelis dropped the last question: "Among your manuscripts . . . have you ever found any reference to the Tres*?"
"I don't know. An organization, maybe. I don't even know if it exists. I've heard it mentioned, and it occurred to me in connection with your lunatics. Say hello to your friend Belbo for me. Tell him I'm not keeping tabs on any of you. The fact is, I have a dirty job, and my misfortune is that I enjoy it."
As I went home, I asked myself who had come out ahead. He had told me a number of things; I'd told him nothing. If I wanted to be suspicious, I could think perhaps that he had got something out of me without my being aware or it. But if you're too suspicious, you fall into the psychosis of synarchic plots.
When I told Lia about this episode, she said: "If you ask me, he was sincere. He really did want to get it all off his chest. You think he can find anyone at police headquarters who will listen to him wonder whether Jeanne Canudo was right-wing or left? He only wanted to find out if it's his fault he can't understand it or if the whole thing is too difficult. And you weren't able to give him the one true answer."
"The one true answer?"
"Of course. That there's nothing to understand. Synarchy is God."
"Yes. Mankind can't endure the thought that the world was born by chance, by mistake, just because four brainless atoms bumped into one another on a slippery highway. So a cosmic plot has to be found—God, angels, devils. Synarchy performs the same function on a lesser scale."
"Then I should have told him that people put bombs on trains because they're looking for God?"
*Templi Resurgentes Equites Synarchici