The Banality of Disbelief

By Ira Zist
Video by Joe Anderson

Tom Wolfe is wearing his trademark white suit. He is six-foot two and not who he claims to be. The official story, if you'll have it, is that the celebrated author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test has with age become the soporific author of I Am Charlotte Simmons; that he helped found a New York-based magazine in the 1960s that set out to deepen the reality of a magical and doomed city, but that contributes today only to its artifice. He suggested back then that the magazine be called The New York Moon. Every evening of its release, New Yorkers would empty onto the streets to cries of the paper boys trumpeting "The Moon is out! The Moon is out!" That publication eventually became New York magazine, with its pages of sumptuous nonsense to benefit the delusions of the summer home set.

But certain parts of this story don't add up. Certain questions need to be answered. We can begin at a recent Wolfe reading, where from the back of the crowd I ask about Project Horizon, the cover-name for a joint NASA/Army project to build a manned military base on the dark side of the moon. The project was initiated in 1959. By the middle of that year NASA had picked The Mercury Seven, its first group of space-bound astronauts, whom Wolfe would later immortalize in The Right Stuff (more on that later). According to documents, NASA's moon base was set to become operational in 1966. Instead, the program was terminated in that year - or so we're told, though the documentation on this is mysteriously missing. Just two years later, Wolfe published The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the high water mark in his series of non-fiction works dealing with radical counterculture. In Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, he mythologized a meeting between the New York social elite and the Black Panthers, brokered by Leonard Bernstein (the latter two were under FBI surveillance at the time).

Wolfe was a unique talent in his generation, perhaps too talented for his own good. After excoriating the political elite in his 1976 Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine, his style suddenly, inexplicably, changed. Gone were the elaborate titles and radical edge that had characterized Wolfe's work. He took up an interest in space travel, we're supposed to believe, to write about the Mercury Seven. How can this be, and what does it have to do with Project Horizon? Is it possible that Wolfe, having been deemed too dangerous by the Nixon administration, was secretly disappeared and replaced by a look-alike - the ultimate false flag operation against the field of journalism? What are we to make of "Tom Wolfe's" support of the Bush administration, with its push to fund - you guessed it - a NASA moon base? And what are we to make of the recent appearance of a publication, produced by a shadowy, unidentified group, also titled The New York Moon?

When I ask Wolfe myself, he taps the American flag pin on his lapel and winks, while I'm removed forcibly from the room by a quartet of ushers. So much for the freedom of speech.

We are often encouraged by those in power to ask the wrong questions - for example, " did we actually land on the moon?" rather than "did we ever leave?" We're told to confine our imaginations to a sound stage in Florida, rather than the incomprehensible, airless weightlessness of the surface of the moon. Such is the banality of disbelief. It is easier to create an illusion based on the facts you can grasp than to assimilate the ones you don't. This manifests itself today in the 9/11 "truth" movement, with its fantasies of an American world hegemony so powerful that it could only be made to suffer by its own hand and for its own benefit. It's just so much chaff to distract us from the real question: Is the United States now operating a secret moon base, and is Tom Wolfe currently imprisoned there?

Is he secretly editing The New York Moon from extra-terrestrial exile, leaving a trail of evidence for us to out his impersonator? Will he one day, when we have uncovered the truth, return to Earth to restore integrity to our national press and purpose to our baffling, flotsam city?

There is every reason to disbelieve the story implicit in this line of questioning. It simply does not Google. Powerful forces have kept it from the light of the Moon. But with the help of you, dear readers, we can add up this loose change. Add your evidence -- and just as importantly your questions -- to the Wiki below.

The Wikipedia page for The New York Moon

In this issue:


THE Philosophy of Navigation

New Black Towers: A history in 10 chapters

Where Has It Gone?


Free Lunch

Reactive Monument


The Banality of Disbelief

4D Document

Investigating time and space

Previous Editions

July 2007

About the Moon

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