Until now the philosophers have
only tried to understand the world . . .
the point, however, is to change it.
—Karl Marx

The point is not to change the world.
All the worst people change the world.
The point is to understand it.
—Maurice Marx

Bixby, Mettro, Manishin and Marx.

Ah, Bixby, Mettro, Manishin and Marx. Sitting here in my high-ceilinged under-priced West End Avenue Co-op, waiting for my wife to come by and leave the keys for the last time, I am giving a party in my head. A party for Bixby, Mettro, Manishin and Marx: for all the soldiers of my formative years,the shock troops of my imagination — the drill sergeants of my character and achievements; the Unknown Soldiers of my finest failures. One glass is all I need for this party. It is full of ice and yellowish vodka, colored and flavored by a spear of buffalo grass. I raise it to my guests, one by one, each of whom had a key point about the living of life to impart; points I seem somehow to have missed.

Bixby, sword-skinny, wild-blonde hair, long, long fingers gesticulating, apparently independent of each other and the hands to which they were attached; Bixby wearing the remnants of an Air Force uniform he’d never been issued, and whose age remained a mystery—he could have been anything from twenty-two to forty. Vitamins, he said, vitamins were the secret, he took thirty-eight different pills a day. Thin as a skeleton, but a healthy, energetic skeleton. Depression-prone, Bixby shone with a mad optimism; optimism about playing the piano; those lighter-than air fingers were self-taught and full of dazzling technique — optimism about writing the Second Great American Marxist Science Fiction Novel (He had already written the first, but its whereabouts were buried in the puzzles of piles of old Cosmos Magazines in which it had been serialized) even optimism about Dianetics. Bixby was one of the first “clears” in a still-muddy America, long before Dianetics had become the menacing Church of Scientology; optimism extending even to the coming triumph of Marxist socialism and the possibilities of a revival of interest in the works of Scriabin.