We learn that Karl has chronic problems with women, homosexual tendencies, an interest in the ideas of Jung , and many neuroses , including a messiah complex. Karl, badly injured during his journey, crawls halfway out of the time machine, then faints. John the Baptist and a group of Essenes find him there, and take him back to their community, where they care for him for some time. Since the Essenes witnessed his miraculous arrival in the time machine, John decides Karl must be a magus , and asks him to help lead a revolt against the occupying Romans. When he asks Karl to baptise him, however, the latter panics and flees into the desert, where he wanders alone, hallucinating from heat and thirst.
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Dick, The Crystal World by J. Ballard, Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch and Inverted World by Christopher Priest. Oh, those New Wave SF novels written in the 60s and 70s - experimental, boundary pushing and out-and-out weird. Thus, for any reviewer, avoiding spoilers is next to impossible. For me, Behold the Man is a provocative, highly philosophical exploration of the many dimensions of myth, religion and history, all within the context of one of the craziest bits of time travel ever imagined.
Thank you, Michael Moorcock! Count me in as a new fan. And, to top it off, Karl is a Jew obsessed with Jesus and Christianity. Karl and Monica bicker incessantly. Karl tells Monica he needs God. But as a spokesperson for science and reason, Monica counters: religion is born out of fear and without fear, religion will die. Poor, poor, Karl. He has to admit "This age of reason has no place for me. It will kill me in the end. Karl invites a Jungian discussion group to meet once a week in his occult bookshop.
The same day he left and arrived in 28 A. Karl finds himself southeast of Jerusalem, near the Dead Sea, among the Essenes, a mystical, acetic, peaceful Jewish sect. Karl reckons his arrival in his egg-shaped time machine must have struck the Essenes as truly extraordinary and miraculous but being a sect of hallucinating visionaries, they accepted it in stride.
No long thereafter, John the Baptist is on the scene. Events move apace until John wants to present Karl as the messiah. Karl agrees on the condition that John and the Essenes take him to where he landed at this point Karl is thinking in terms of his return voyage. After all, he only wanted to travel back to this time and place to get a feel for what it would be like to live during the age of religion and among people of strong faith.
Alas, things take a decidedly different turn. Most especially when Karl, half-starved and wide-eyed, to all appearances a half-mad prophet, eventually journeys to Nazareth to meet the son of Joseph and Mary, to come face to face with Jesus. But then the shock: "The madman, the prophet, Karl Glogauer, the time-traveler, the neurotic psychiatrist manque, the searcher for meaning, the masochist, the man with a death-wish and the messiah-complex, the anachronism, made his way into the synagogue gasping for breath.
He had seen the man he had sought. He had seen Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary. He had seen a man he recognized without any doubt as a congenital imbecile. After all, he would be bringing a myth to life, not changing history so much as infusing more depth and substance into history.
And as Monica was always in the habit of telling him, he lived with unresolved obsessions and had an abnormal messiah complex. As the saying goes, the rest is history. British author Michael Moorcock, born "The time machine was a sphere full of milky fluid in which the traveler floated, enclosed in a rubber suit, breathing through a mask attached to a hose leading to the wall of the machine.
The sphere cracked as it landed and the fluid spilled into the dust and was soaked up. The instruments, cryptographic, unconventional, were still and silent. The sphere shifted and rolled as the last of the liquid dripped from the great gash in its side.
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Behold the Man