Interesting Science… Playing Music….

This video is actually a gross oversimplification of what really happens. The proprioceptive components of the somatosensory cortex (parietal lobe) and planning and initiation of motor function executive aspects of the pre-frontal cortex… the ballistic adjustment (error correction, anticipation and memory) of the cerebellum… and the “muscle memory” inherent in spinal interneurons, etc….

Basically… what a great musician does… is choose which learned sequences are inserted where… depending on the timing… key… and amount of space… while making it all sound natural and spontaneous….

The Zen qualities of being in the moment… and slowing down time….

Perhaps Music Therapy could have some potential for improving memory… or delaying memory loss… in Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementia patients….
Especially if initiated early in the disease process….

Advertisements

Sayr Wa Sulak, or Spiritual Wayfaring. (a different concept in storytelling… with some vague explanatory notes….)

About 25,500 words.

Unfinished and unabridged….

From a series of Science Fiction stories called The Nexus based on mining colony established on 90482 Orcus.

(No Air for Dirty Laundry.
No Womb in the Inn.)
by Professor Josea Melançon.
Pérhuzamos Mozgás
1 August 2013
7 October 2013
21 October 2014
#
#
0
#
#
Prologue: Attempting to Make Sense of Senseless Things in a Senseless World
#
#
Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
Sometimes things make perfect sense. Fit together. First time through. First pass.
Sometimes life is simple. Easily understood.
And… sometimes… life’s complicated. Complex. Convoluted. Full of twists and turns. Misconceptions. Deceptions.
Sometimes… accidental….
Sometimes… planned.
Sometimes… life’s a mystery.
And… sometimes… life’s a misery….
Sometimes life unfolds like some old… ancient… seemingly long-forgotten… story…. Some ancient… epic… poem….
Of pain….
An epic poem. Of struggle….
Of sacrifice….
Of redemption….
Of meaningless life….
Of meaningful death….
Like… La Canción de El Cid. Or The Epic of Gilgamesh….
Like the stories of my youth….
Like La Canción de El Cid….
Like El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha….
This story is like that. Complex. Subtle.
Hard to follow.
Hard to fathom.
Hard to comprehend.
On multiple levels.
Like a great poem by a great poet from a different time written in a different language… and the only translation you can seem to get your hands on is from a different country… and a different age…. A different ethnicity…. A different religion…. A different… Space….
So… in addition to difficulties understanding the depth and breadth of the poem and the poet and the rhythm and the rhyme and the subject… one must also consider cultural differences…. Migration of language. Limitations of Language…. Migration of meanings…. Idiosyncracies of translation…. Idiosyncracies of life….
The ego inflating feelings of the natural superiority from yourof one’s own culture….
The furtive… if unnatural… desireDesire to present yourones own beliefs in the best possible light…. As above reproach….
Other such… pressures….
Social….
Spiritual….
Emotional….
And economic….
And… I guess I’m at least somewhat an Economic Determinist….
That’s my core belief….
About the core values of others….
The ethics of certain situations…. And… certainly… situational ethics….
So… like I said…. Sometimes things just fit together…. In a nice… neat… package….
But not this time….
This time… nothing much makes sense…. Not in the linear sense…. Like why our ship stopped to pick up some relic…. Some outdated… out-moded hospital ship…. On our way to a Mining Outpost…. In the Way Out…. On the Fringe…. Just doesn’t make any sense….
Sure came in handy with those miners, though…. Almost like it was planned….
Apparently… it’s some kind of Ghost ship…. A lot of people died there or something…. Some kind of Cosmic contamination…. A radiation leak…. Something like that…. Something to do with a Damned crew… shipped off to Io… on a Death Mission…. Something like that…. No one really seems to know any details…. That’s weird….
Just makes no sense….
So… that’s why I’m saying this….
This isn’t going to be one of those nice… simple… linear… stories….
This is the other kind….
And… a rather extreme example….
#
This story starts out with a man… sitting at his assigned bench in the Galley of a ship… sitting in isolation… pondering the meaning… trying to understand… such a poem….
A single man… sipping an adult beverage… and ponderously pondering the vicissitudes of life….
#
#
I
#
#
Sublime… and Subliminal… Poetry….
#
#
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted– “Open then the Door!
You know how little time we have to stay.
And once departed, may return no more.”
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
That man would be me. Or… was me. Or… is me.
A man… on the outside…. Shut out….
Contemplating the meaning of life….
#
I guess proper English would be that the man in question is me.
And not too terribly long ago… I was sitting in the Galley of the Rocinante… just minding my own business… as they say from porch swings in some of the less safe parts of Saint Louis… trying to understand the complexities of a few of the Rubáiyát of probably the second most famous tentmaker of all time, Omar Khayyám. Ostensibly… I was trying to improve my knowledge of Ancient Persian…. Trying to understand the nuances of the Sufism…. Trying to transcend the limitations of the poor translation into English of the only copy I had immediately available…. Trying to coordinate the one… with the other…. Trying to connect to the depth… the breadth… the magnitude… of the vision of the Universe presented in the original Ancient Persian texts….
I was trying to understand the ancient wisdom… of ancient poetry….
And… I was stymied….
And then… as they say… some dude… shot me…. Not literally, of course…. But almost….
One of the legendary Dude Brothers, I suppose…. The infamous brothers who were systematically blamed for the vast majority of gun trauma in the vast urban jungles of the American Wasteland during the XXIst and XXIInd Centuries…. During that tragic period of history… during the triage I the Emergency Room… during the taking of “The History” that started the evaluation process… the “victim” would almost invariably utter that famous phrase that went something like this… “I was sitting in the swing on Granma’s porch… minding my own business… reading the Bible… when
Some Dude shot me…!”
Dudes doing what dudes are prone to do…. I guess that might best be described mathematically as Dude2 x Do2 = Doo-dy-doo2…. Deep Doo-Doo…. A mystery seeming worthy that great detective Scooby-Dooby-Doo….
Entirely unexpectedly….
My entirely unexpected interruption was similarly mysterious….
By a man I really like…. Even admire…. Most of the time…. But… not at the moment…. And not just because he was interrupting me….
#
Ok…. I guess I should warn you…. This is the place where this story… sorta… starts to degenerate…. Get a little weird…. Get a little more… interesting….
But mostly… just get weird….
Philosophically….
Metaphysically….
Theologically….
Theosophistically….
And realistically…. If that even really means anything…. Reality….
But… I guess… I should just tell the story…. As best I can…. And let you try to figure it all out….
Let you be the judge…. Since that’s apparently your function in this proceeding….
#
I mean….
At least… I think I mean….
Or I guess… I guess I mean….
He wasn’t physically there…. Not here…. (Not me…. I was there…. I mean… another man…. The other man….) But… it wasn’t a spiritual…. Nor metaphysical…. He wasn’t a… metaphorical… presence…. He was… more like… a historical presence….
A ghost…. I suppose…. In some sense….
Though… not in a palpable sense…. Not in a spooky sense….
Rather… I guess… he felt… to be… posing….
Or imposing…. No…. That’s not it….
I’m rather flustered…. Still a bit groggy….
The man…. The whole situation…. Felt….
Imposed…. From outside….
But… I didn’t know that at the time….
Or… couldn’t comprehend it…. Couldn’t put it together…. For what it was…. Really was….
I guess… for me… it felt like I was living out someone else’s life…. Living in… something… like a… Ghost Story…. Or like Science Fiction…. Fantasy…. Something fantastic…. Made up…. Unreal…. Surreal…. Supernatural…. Messed up…!
He was a flashback…. Or… rather… more of a… flashbang…!
In my mind….
Even now… sometimes… I still see him sitting there…. Beside me…. At his bench…. In the Galley…. Slaving away…. At his work….
Or… at his leisure….
Or… helping me understand some significant… some particularly difficult… or particularly subtle… nuance… in Ancient Persian…. Or some indecipherable Scientific data…. Some riveting historical revelation….
And then….
I see….
This…!
#
#
“Must… get… out…!”
The dark haired man pacing the floor was obviously agitated. He spoke with a slight accent that I couldn’t place.
Not his regular accent… which I knew intimately….
Uttering Uttered broken phrases under his breath….
Pacing…. Frenetically….
Restlessly….. And he paced… frenetically…. Recklessly….
Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth….
Relentlessly….
Mumbling to himself….
Staring at the walls….. Staring through the walls…. Staring into Space….
Not the Space displayed and floor-to-ceiling holographic display….
Seemingly seeing a potential way out…. Out to some location far out into the deep vacuum of Space-Time….
Beyond the ship…. Beyond the Universe…. Beyond Space-Time itself…. Beyond Reality…. All the way to some other… Space…. Some… other… alternate… reality…. On the other side… of some… shrouding… veil…. Some… concealing… curtain…. That only he could penetrate….
At times… he would stop… and cock…. Cock his head…. As if he were listening to something…. Listening for something. Hearing something…. Someone…. A voice maybe….
Crazy! I know….
I see him stabbing. Stabbing his open hands into the air….. Gesticulating…. Wildly….
As if he were trying to convince someone…. Something….
Convince himself….
Win an argument with some internal demon….
Or perhaps some demon from his past….
Or… just as plausibly… some demon from the future….
Haunting him….
Stealing his peace of mind….
Or pieces of his mind…. Huge chunks…. Of his sanity….
#
Then… he scurried to the far side of that tiny communal space where I was seated… trying to translate some poetry… before I headed off to my Womb to sleep.
This agitated gentleman slinked around like an over-excited ferret on the prowl… or feeling the unseen presence of some fell predator….
Scanning the walls….
Sniffing the floor….
Searching the ceiling….
Studying the lights… the lustrous tables… the soft… flexible… form-fitting ergonomic metal benches….
The hovering room-sized 3-dimensional holographic display of Space… and personal data… and workflow…. The personal “need-to-know” data required by each individual to effectively and efficiently perform his function…. You work followed you…. No one could escape from his work…. Not when he was in the Galley…. He just had to learn to ignore it….
The food and drink vending machines (as the dispensing spigots were euphemistically called for some historical reason)….
The waste disposal/recycling units…. The Life Support System….
The sealed diaphragmatic opening of the bulkheads… the Air-locks protecting us from the Deep Vacuum just outside…. Where our Hard-shelled Deep Vacuum Space Suits stood… securely fastened… waiting for us….
Touching everything….
Trying to peak behind… crawl under… dig into… the machines….
As if he meant to enter the very innards… the intestines… the bowels of the ship herself…. To explore their workings…. Their peristalstic pumping….
Probing…. Into the metal grating of the vents….
Pricking his ears…. Canting his head…. Then, then scurrying in quick bursts….
#
First… I concluded that he must believe the room was bugged….
And then… I concluded… that he might very well be right….
And… finally… that he certainly was right….
#
I guess I should take just a moment to explain a bit about the layout of the ship… since I assume you’re never been on board one…. Help you understand why everything seemed to happen in essentially one very constrained space… and time… in the incredible vastness of Space-Time….
#
The Dining Room… or the Mess Hall… or the Commissary… or the Common… or the Galley… (different people called the area different names at different times…) was the only area onboard the ship that had atmosphere.
Not romantic atmosphere.
Any atmosphere. At all.
The only area in the ship that was pressurized. That wasn’t under hard vacuum. That didn’t require at least some nominal form of Space Suit.
The only area where sound transmitted.
The only are where one could work… or play… or sit… or stand… comfortably….
Except for the Bridge.
[The Bridge was different from the rest of the ship. Especially the Commons. The Commons was essentially the only available playspace. Of course, the Ship’s Officers had their own playspace, separate from the passengers; they had the Officer’s Mess, which was essentially similar, though more elaborate. More comfortable. Relatively more spacious because there were usually fewer people crammed into the same absolute volume. And it was in Crew Quarters, which was closer to the essential functions of the ship.
The Bridge was off-limits to passengers. (And even in that Sanctum… the pilots generally wore some form of pressure suit…. As a precaution….)
During Transit… most passengers spent most of their time in their Wombs… in the area of the Civilian section of the ship known as The Inn…. Ostensibly… sleeping…. Certainly off in La-La Land…. But in reality… in an induced state… like suspended animation… but less… profound…. Less deep…. Not comatose…. So that something like normal Sleep Stages… though not exactly “normal” Sleep Cycles… can be simulated…. A… Special… individualized… sleep pattern… could be… assembled… and induced…. Specifically patterned to meet the needs of each person on board… in transit…. Whatever they might be determined to be….
#
The Bridge was a workspace.
The Bridge was a temple.
The Bridge was sacrosanct.
Only the Captain and the Ship’s Officers were ever allowed into the extremely cramped quarters of the Bridge, which was completely carpeted wall-to-wall with Command Couches, except for the space occupied by the robopilots and other necessary equipment.
And the Bridge was noisy.
There was always continuous chatter on the Bridge.
The Bridge was completely dark, except for the flashing lights on the panels and the innumerable screens displaying charts and maps and streaming data. Projections. Reports. Logs. Any and all necessary information.]
So the Common… or Galley… was the only conceivable place where a man could actually talk.
With another human.
Converse.
Chat.
That was part of its purpose.
Part of its designed function.
A significant part.
An essential part.
That’s why the seemingly cramped benches all faced inwards… towards one another. Not from because of some confusing Confucian belief in Feng Shui….
That… didn’t matter….
Because the only constant about the facing of a Space Ship… traversing deep space is constant change…. The cramped quarters forced people to sit face to face. The room was set up to break down individuality. To promote Team Building. To facilitate communication. Decrease the overwhelming feelings of isolation. Help alleviate the feelings of solitude… or loneliness… that was inevitable on long Space flights. A communal area to spend a little time… Outside.
Outside the drudgery of drill and work.
Outside the human-machine interfaces that probed men’s souls…. Invaded men’s minds….
Outside drug induced sleep bordering on coma.
Outside the Womb.
#
And I guess that’s why I felt cramped…. Or… trapped….
I realized that I couldn’t possibly escape even if the Rapture suddenly occured without going through the process of climbing into my hard-shelled High Vacuum Pressure Suit… which was currently secured… sealed… to one of the bulkheads at the entrance to the Galley….
So… I had no means of escape… alive….
I suddenly realized that I was essentially a Galley Slave….
#
#
As events started to unfold before my eyes… I grew more and more concerned by the millisecond….
As this suddenly unknown lunatic… who I very recently considered my friend… and one of the saner members of my cadre….
#
The Common was considered a part of the Inn: that area of the ship designated to accommodate passengers during their trek through Space. Separate out… set aside… non-crew. The tiny little non-essential portion of the ship where non-essential personnel could hang out during the months or years they would be together… traveling to and from their ultimate destinations.
Outside the cozy confines of the Common, all conversations must be routed through the Communications Headsets (another ancient moniker) installed in the suits or the Communications Systems integrated into the Cerebral Monitoring Units of the Womb Computer Analysis and… which were routed through the Central Computer… so those transmissions were certainly monitored….
(Unless you just happen to be one of the Chips. The elite. A Cyborg. Then you have chipsets surgically implanted to monitor and maintain vital functions… and most Cyborgs out in Space have sort of special Comm chips….
Of course… they also tend to have a chip on their shoulders, too. Because they were all little Vats. Me-too-ants. Clones.
But expensive, elite, jacked-up clones…. Special clones…. Not worker bees…. But not Breeders, either….)
Makes sense…. The Company wants to know if someone may be planning something… CRAZY!!! Or… if someone may just be going CRAZY!!! After all… that’s why NASA established protocols to handle such things in the constricting confines of Space way back when that seriously deranged Space Biddy put on her Depends and trucked clear across the country to try to murder her rival in some sordid extraterrestrial ménage a trois… Rocky Raccoon-style….
They tried to hush up the whole deplorable thing. Didn’t work. Hit the headlines. A real head case. And a hard case.
He got divorced….
She got prison….
NASA lost face… and a whole lot of money….
Bad deal all around….
Resulted in a grand reduction. She got a reduced sentence. He got reduced rank and eventually got shit-canned. NASA got reduced appropriations for covering up inappropriate fraternization.
Everybody did the math.
Whole affair reduced to ménage a <3.
Any way… my point is simply this: Anal Retentive people tend to get a bit emotionally… constipated. And… Deep Space is dangerous place for someone to suddenly get a case of emotional diarrhea.
But… something else good came out of that whole ass-hole incident, I guess….
Now Space Rangers don’t need to wear diapers to contain our urges: at least not our urges to blow and go. Now… we just go with the flow. And the suit recycles all the shit. Liquids and solids. The suit… and the Womb. Or the Egg. But more on that later….
But for now… more on that moron….
#
I was growing more and more concerned by the millisecond.
As the lunatic stalked the tiny room, his dark eyes shifted from one object to the next in incredibly rapid succession, darting around the room. He snapped his head around fiercely, stopping at odd angles.
To listen….
To look….
To lick….
To sniff….
To scratch….
To shift….
To search….
Like some kind of caged canid.
A jackal.
Or a wolf.
Some fell feral beast.
A rabid dog. On steroids..
But his motions were much faster. His emotions more on edge.
Making him less predictable….
Much less predictable….
Less controllable….
Less human….
More beastly….
More ghostly….
More ghastly….
More real….
At least more in the moment….
At least more at in that moment….
#
But at least he wasn’t slavering.
I know. I checked.
And that’s a plus!
The frenetic man was frantic! And possible deranged.
Scratch that….
Probably deranged….
Who am I kidding…?
Completely deranged…!
Ravenous…. But… not likely rabid…. Like the wolves on the Persian Steppes frequently are….
#
#
II
#
A Friend in Need is a Friend In Deed….
#
#
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour’d it to grow:
And this was the Harvest that I reap’d–
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
And as I sat at that sterile silver table… with my fresh… steaming… cup of coffee in my hand… my mind stepped back… away from the danger immediately before my eyes…. Sought to assess the situation…. And naturally… came to seemingly the inevitable… the only logical conclusion….
That somehow… this was… ALL…. MY…. FAULT….
Irrational….
I know that… now….
And now… I know I was wrong….
But in the heat of the moment…. In that irrational minute of self-doubt…. Self-loathing…. That was my first thought…. That… somehow… I had gravely offended my Islamic friend…. Maybe something I said….
Maybe a bit of an off-color joke….
Our previous discussions… about the Quintessential Harlot… for example…. The Great Whore of Babylon….
Eating a pulled pork sandwich for lunch on Ramadan… and thus desecrating a sacred… incredibly holy day for him….
Or maybe the synthetic Frangelico in my synthetic Arabica coffee with its synthetic real cream….
Or… maybe something else that I missed…. That I couldn’t immediately recall….
#
I’m going to take just a second to explain this…. This… feeling…. This… anxiety…. This… THOUGHT….
Because it’s important….
Because this is important….
Because my explaining may help you understand my relationship with this crazed Muslim… now before me… (or then…) seemingly bent upon Jihad….
The man I formerly… and still… considered my bosom buddy… and my best friend on board ship….
This is going to sound… stupid… but bear with me… please….
#
#
A specific chemical reaction… the reaction that actually created the cup… proceeds at a specific rate… because of a specific catalyst… and very specific quantities of reaction products… and as the polymers precipitated…. The exothermic reaction… the precipitation of the polymers creating the cup… give off just the right amount of heat to maintain the perfect temperature for the liquid inside the cup….
For maximum flavor….
And for maximum enjoyment….
The Goldilocks Temperature….
Not too hot…. Not too cold…. But just right….
One of the tremendous benefits derived from the Plasma that results from using Nuclear Fusion to power spacecraft…. Almost anything can be created from the resulting reaction products and power…. The Persian Environmental Engineer in front of me now… (then… now in the past…) had smiled so broadly when he had explained that to me… that I knew he really reveled that gift he gave me…. Telling me that…. Teaching me that…. Explaining that to me…. So… that made the Psychological sting of this… sensational prick… seem so much more… intense…. So much more irrational…. So much more painful… than I had expected…. Or than my mind was ready to accept….
#
#
And the second thing I did… or thought… was to start considering how I might use the precipitating polymers of that cup… and the steaming coffee it contained… as a weapon…. Initially for defense…. And then… for offense…. Because things suddenly started to look much more serious…. More ominous…. And I wanted more options… something more than any of those that were immediately apparent….
#
“Where are they where are they where are they where are they where are they where are they where are they where are they….”
Monotonous….
Staccato….
Falsetto….
The suddenly strange… deranged… demented… man… pacing… racing… in front of me… whom I previously thought I knew… continually muttered to himself as he diligently searched… in a grid pattern… for… something….
Not like he was walking the lunatic fringe; like he was serious. In control of his faculties.
But… still… on the razors edge…. Still… out of control…. Know what I mean…?
I think ya do…!
#
But he couldn’t be….
In control….
Not Really…. Could he…?
Or could he…?
#
#
So… I took a bit of time to compose myself. Squelch myself. Control my voice so I didn’t squeak and squawk when I tried to talk. So that I had some semblance of the sound of command. Sounded like someone in charge. And then… I answered him.
“I don’t know.” Hopefully I said it calmly…. Enough…. While mentally completing that simple yet intense sentence with multiple ending… what you’re looking for… or what you’re talking about… or even if you’re SANE, Buddy! But… I’m thinking… NOT!!!
I thought my voice sounded reasonably calm… considering….…. Considering…. The situation….
A soothing… calming voice….
To soothe… to calm my friend….
The who, the what, the when, the how, and the where the Hell we are!
Then I tried to calm myself.
My spinning mind.
My racing heart.
My squirming, churning bowels.
I started with deep breathing. Controlling my respirations….
Moved on to more contemplative meditation… to control my mind….
Slow my thoughts….
Slow time as it raced past… headed head-long towards utter and complete destruction….
I struggled to be rational: struggled to think rationally….
Here was a Cracker Jack engineer by all accounts… and by my own past experience…. And here he was… cracking up…. Right… before my eyes….
And this had HUGE implications for the success… or the failure of this project….
My project….
And my career….
And my life….
And at the moment… all three were suddenly looking a whole lot like abject failures…. Hell-bent on coming to an almost immediate, irretrievable, disconsolate end….
And… I’m not even taking into account the whole Malaria episode….
#
#
I have no idea why the next thought even passed through my mind… with my life on the line…. But it did….
I had to admit to myself… here I was… or… there I was… trying to sit calmly…. Trying to look… to act… like I was in charge…. Like it mattered….
While all the while… knowing in the depths of my soul… that I have no bleeping idea what the bleep was happening in the surreal whirlwind fiercely spinning…. Surrounding me…. Sucking me in….
And then…. I realized…. A Truth….
Sitting on the very edge of Oblivion… I stared full face into something brighter than the blazing Sun…. And it was like scales fell off my eyes…. And… suddenly… I could see…. Suddenly… I realized… Truth….
Not a Truth…. THE Truth….
#
If you ever want to be anybody other than some backwater bleep jockey… you needed to fix this bleeping problem… and fix it NOW!!!
Fix it before the noise grows so loud someone important hears the bleeping….
And your options…? Well… let’s just say… they’re looking EXTREMELY limited….
I don’t want you to be looking at me like some kinda “Say Nay Kid”, but when the Foo shits….
And I was certainly feeling like a Foo-“L”.
#
If I ever wanted to be anybody other than some backwater bleep jockey… I needed to fix this bleeping problem… NOW!!!
Fix it before the noise grew so loud someone important heard the bleeping….
And my options were looking extremely limited….
With my good options looking worse than a Grade-Z Science Fiction Horror flick…. Like The Brain-Eaters. Or worse… Plan 9 From Outer Space…. Or even worse… Plan Mine from Outta Myanus…. And my plan was for all intents and purposes… a non-existent plan….
The man ceaselessly pacing in front of me was supposed to be a Senior Environmental Engineer. My Senior Environmental Engineer. And by all accounts, he was a very good one. The best in fact. A real Cracker Jack. Really knew his way around the working of the Wombs. I knew that from some of our previous conversations about the technical aspects of maintaining life support systems in Deep Space. And I got the hint from some of the things he said, that something was upsetting him. And that something had to do with his job. His knowledge of the inner workings of the technology that we all depended on to keep us alive. And healthy. Physically. And mentally. And all that Foo shit was dripping down into my eyes… and interacting with the huge fluorescent “L” tattooed on the center my forehead signifying “Flashing Fucking Loser….”
#
Why was I suddenly concerned about my career…? I wasn’t ever really concerned before…. Or I wouldn’t be out here on the Fringe… exploring the Bermuda Triangle of career trajectories….
The mind certainly plays some strange tricks when it’s stressed…. And even when it isn’t… I suppose….
#
#
III
#
#
Lady Fate Flips the Fickle Finger.
#
#
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: not all thy Piety not Wit,
Shall lure it back now I was trying to think back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
Well… my best assessment of the situation set before me…? Sitting before me…? Or… rather like some not-so-subtle Lone Ranger running around the room cleverly disguised as a freakin’ MADMAN???
I suddenly realized that my best options seemed to be looking significantly worse than some Grade-Z 50’s Science Fiction Horror flick…. Like The Brain-Eaters…. Or worse… Plan 9 From Outer Space…. And nothing’s worse than that….
Almost nothing….
Only one thing….
My situation….
At least Plan 9 had some schmarmy stolen footage of Bela Lugosi… shot over the wall of his home… of him walking around… that they just inserted into the movie… that made absolutely no sense in the context of the story…. Like the car chases with cars that kept changing color and position….
The whole movie seemed… faked…. Forced…. Manufactured…. Desperate….
They had some stolen footage of a star….
But… still… that’s significantly more than I had….
And their situation could hardly have been more desperate than mine….
Because no matter how bad that looked…. How little they had…. They still had more than the little I had….
Because… I had NOTHING….
#
#
This… this… man… ceaselessly… erratically… pacing in front of me… was supposed to be our Senior Environmental Engineer. My Senior Environmental Engineer. And by all accounts, he used to be a very good one. The best in fact. A real Cracker Jack. Just like I said before….
And… I’d seen his work…. So… I knew….
This man was crucial to the success of this adventure. And this man was crucial to my success…. To my future….
We needed him…. I needed him….
This man was an engineer who really knew his way around the working of the Wombs… one of the critical technology components for Space Exploration and Exploitation of Resources. I knew that from some of our previous conversations about the technical aspects of maintaining life support systems in Deep Space.
I listened.
He taught.
And I got the hint from some of the things he said, that something was upsetting him.
And that something had to do with his job. His knowledge of the inner workings of the technology that we all depended on to keep us alive. And healthy. Physically. And mentally.
And now I was trying to think back on the content of some of those prior conversations….
I reasoned that this man… this Environmental Engineer… must have had approached me because I was the incoming Commander of the 90482 Orcus Mining Outpost, and as such, his Executive Officer…. Or… at the very least… his immediate senior in the organization’s less-than-complex hierarchical chain of command…..
#
#
As this crazed lunatic before me he paced, he constantly scanned the cramped quarters….
Muttering….
I heard some snippets….
Scattered words….
Phrases….
Bits of sentences….
Some… sounded… like Arabic….
Like Ancient Hebrew….
Or… like… some other… more distant… more ancient… more dead… tongues….
I concluded that the frantic Engineer couldn’t have been speaking to me… because… I’m a rational person…. Because there’s no way he could have reasonably expected that I would be able to understand… to comprehend… any… of the words… the phrases… the meanings of the expressions… that seemed to slip carelessly… thoughtlessly… from his mind… from his mouth… off his tongue… and out into the sterile atmosphere… of the secluded Common area…. Of… that Space Ship… skimming the trackless void… of Trans-Neptune Space….
#
#
These are a few snippets… of the phrases… that I caught… or at least that I think I caught…. Thought I caught….
Or… at least… some hints….
“… Lo-ruhama….”
Biblical Hebrew. Meaning… “No mercy”….
“… fanusi jihal….”
Arabic. Meaning… “magic latern”….
And then I thought I heard even more startlingly phrases… a plethora of… names…. The poor man shrieked… and writhed… as he spat out the names…. His stark staring… his terror seeming to rise exponentially with each additional ecstatic utterance….
He seemed to babbling… the names… of ancient gods….
Like… “… Ba’al….”
Northwest Semitic or Akkadian. Meaning… “master”… or “lord”…. Refering to the ancient god of rain… or storms… or agriculture… or fertility…. Or… the lord of the heavens…. The owner of everything in the entire effen UNIVERSE….
“… Chemosh….” National god of the Moabites. Meaning… “destroyer”… “subduer”… “fish god?”….
“… Avimelek….” Most Semitic languages… especially Ancient ones…. Meaning… “my father is king”… or “my father is a sacrifice”….
“… Moloch….” The Canaanite god. To whom royal babies were burned to curry favor… their sardonic smiles as the heat pulled the tender skin of their faces back… exposing their pearly white teeth… while drums drowned out their frantic screams for help from their father… the king…. To guarantee good harvests…. To safeguard profits…. Dancing joyously to the frenetic beat of the drums… while sacrificing their children in the flames… for their dreams of a better life…. Profits….
Or… a different pronunciation of the characters “MLK”.
The languages arising from the descendents of Noah’s son Shem, the Semitic languages, were initially written without vowels. So… I guess… Avimelek… or… rather… I suppose… Avimelek… could just as easily be pronounced… AviMOLOCH….
My father is Moloch!
An ancient name for Satan….
So… my father is Satan…!
That sudden realization certainly gave me a shocking sense of foreboding….
Who…? Whose father…?
Does this man know…?
Did I miss some clue…? Some hint…?
Is this man not potentially not some crazed Jihadist… bent on utter destruction of the infidels…? Is he… perhapsa jihadist… not a Muslim at all… but rather a Satanist…? Hell-bent on offering some kind of a Sacrifice…? A… human… sacrifice…?
Now… that thought was a bit disconcerting…. Quite a bit actually…. Ain’t no sheep… no goat… nor anything elseother animals out here…. So… I’m thinking…. Tag! I’m it! Oh, SHIT!!!
So… I tried to think… wasOr… is there a still better explanation…?
A more… logical… explanation….
Alas… I don’t know….
I figured my best bet would be to just proceed using a somewhat marginal modification of the Forrest Gump Philosophy….
Crazy is as crazy does….
My momma never said that. Not anything even remotely like it.
But the rationale certainly seemed sound enough in this particular case: this man sure sounded… looked… and more importantly… acted… FULL TILT BOZO!!!
He might as well just go ahead and put on the make-up and clown shoes, because he had already lost all credibility… completely lost sanity… in my mind….
I half expected him at any minute to start prancing and dancing and singing “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead!” or some other such Barry Manilow-esque jingle at the top of his lungs….
Now I’m acting all brave, but at the time… I tell you… I was just trying to position myself so that I could have a reasonable chance of hitting the panic button and escaping before this lunatic fileted me into some kind of rare shish-kabob with the occult vibro-scimitar that I assumed he must be packing….
Sacrificed me to some ancient demon-prince…. Or… to Satan the Dark Lord himself!
Via the flame… or via the flame-shaped dagger peculiar to his cult….
#
#
I know that a coffee cup essentially creating itself out of precipitating polymers… from the refuse… the Plasma exhaust of a Nuclear Fusion rocket motor are really neat and all…. But I realize they really ain’t the Holy Silver Serving Pieces dedicated to the Most High God in the First Temple in Jerusalem…. Sanctified…. Set apart….
Still… I have to admit that I was half expecting to see a finger form out of nothing… in mid air…#
Let me back up for a minute. I think I got this a little bit out of sequence. First, I heard him babbling in Hebrew…. And then in Arabic…. And that didn’t really bother me too much because I just assumed he was Palestinian. But with a name like Muhammed ibn Hamad Imad ad-din al-Isfahani, I should have known he was Persian… and not allowed my opinion to be so easily swayed by random recitation of spurious factations. Factoids. Whatever the fuck he was saying. Or spraying. Or praying. Anyway… we knew him simply as Imad. And like I said… he was a Cracker Jack Environmental Engineer. And an excellent programmer. Which was a rarity.
I must admit that I was a bit distracted. Intrigued. Trying to hear what he was saying and write across that big view screen that formed the far wall: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
Valuable words…. Too valuable to understand… even for a king… debauching himself at a drunken orgy….
The words called him to account…. Each was a coin…. A form of currency…. An Economic message….
#
That huge holographic display had enormous value, too…. Had a purpose…. Served a vital function…. First… and I guess… foremost… or most importantly… it constituted the wall… like a castle… protecting us from the Deep Vacuum of Space….
And… secondly… it served a function similar to a window to another world…. A world where we were just visitors…. Where we really didn’t belong…. That solid screen was a viewport… a window that revealed the utter darkness of the Universe outside the ship….
But… it also showed us… pin-points of light…. In the vast… dark… empty… void….
The wall kept us inside….
And that window… kept us looking out….
#
#
IV
#
Creator… and Created….
#
#
And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’t we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to it for help– for it
Rolls impotently on as Thou and I.
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
Let me back up for a minute. I think I got this a little bit out of sequence. First, I heard him babbling in Hebrew…. And then in Arabic…. And that didn’t really bother me too much… because at that moment… I just assumed he must be either Palestinian… or Yemeni…. And… that I had somehow unknowingly invoked some sort of deadly fatwa….
#
But with a name like Muhammed ibn Hamad Imad ad-din al-Isfahani…? I should have know better…. I should have known he was Persian…. From Isfahan…. The site of the famous ancient holy site known as the Atashgah of Isfahan… the Fire Temple of Isfahan… dedicated to Ahura Mazda… and the Prophet… Zoroaster….
[The city of Isfahan was also home to a major hero of the Zarathustrian religion… and the indigenous people of the region… and the ancestral enemy of their rivals… Vishtaspa…. Known in the West as Hystapes….]
And not allowed my opinion to be so easily swayed by random recitation of some spurious fractured factoids….
#
Anyway… we knew him… I knew him… simply as Mu…. And like I may have said at least a couple of times before… he was a Cracker Jack Environmental Engineer….
And an excellent programmer….
Which was a rarity out here…. In the Way Out….
#
And… he was my best friend….
#
I must admit that I was a bit distracted….
Intrigued….
Trying to hear… to understand… what Mu was saying….
Trying to work on my comprehension skills in Farsi… in Arabic… in Hebrew…, since I so rarely get to practice….
. Looking back…, he appears to have been in some kind of trance…. Because he never mentioned, because he denies any knowledge of Hebrew….. Or Aramaic….. Or Akkadian….. Or Western Semitic….. Or Sumerian…. Because he denied any knowledge of any languages… other than Arabic and Persian… including a little Ancient Persian… which I probably already mentioned….
I was captivated…. Enraptured…. Enthralled….
Right up until I heard a word that sounded remarkably familiar. Something similar to “… Dagon….”
Or… precisely Dagon….
Now… I didn’t really recall much about Dagon at that moment. So… I looked him up…. He seemed to be a relatively A minor Akkadian… or Assyrian… or Babylonian fertility god… who apparently evolved into one of the major fertility… or grain… or fish gods…. The supreme god of Amorite pantheon….
Immortalized… if that were possible… by Howard Phillips Lovecraft in his Cthulhu mythos….
Well… I must admit… that I more than half expected him at any moment to start buzzing and launch into a litany from the ravings of the “Mad Arab” Abdul al-Hazred… at almost any moment…. Start reciting fell verses from that abominable tome… the Necronomicon….
But he didn’t….
And I was glad….
And I’m still glad….
#
#
Of course, I realize that the Necronomicon is a fictional grimoire created by Howard Philip Lovecraft… and used by some of his other writer friends… but at that very moment… I was seriously considering suspending disbelief…. Completely….
I was even mentally searching similar fictitious to the volumes… encyclopedias describing entire worlds… that Jorge Luis Borges seemingly phantasmasized phantasized into being….
But Borges was different. He suggested that if an objected is desired strongly enough… a version… a replicant of that object can credibly… or incredibly… be created…. Like Archyta’s dove….
#
Now… that takes me back…. To some of my previous conversations… previous discussions… with Mu….
Mu was apparently fascinated by machines….
Mu loved to talk about machines…. Get him involved in any discussion about machines… about mechanisms… about engineering concepts… about how machines work… and Mu’s face lit up…. This normally taciturn man became suddenly animated…. Ebullient….
Didn’t really seem to matter what type of machine…. What type of mechanism….
Machines of the present…. Machines of the future….
But… especially… machines of the past….
Mu was particularly fascinated by Ancient Automata…. Of all kinds….
Not simply an automata like Archyta’s dove… the machine I just mentioned…. A bird… that… that reportedly flew around on its own power….
Or even the throne attributed to Solomon the Wise, son of King David and last ruler of a united Kingdom of Israel. That piece was reputed to proclaim King Solomon’s glory… as he ascended into the sky to the sound of singing birds each day….
Or those famous devices installed in the temples of various Greek gods by Hero of Alexandria… to fool the ignorant worshippers…. To make the priests look like they possessed legitimate power…. To encourage… contributions…. To forestall… retribution…. To buy off the wrath of gods… who were in reality… only impotent idols….
Now… I’m talking about the True Automata…. Truly fantastic… fascinating machines…. Machines capable of functioning fully automatically…. Completely on their own….
Not simply under their own power….
But under their own control….
Of their own volition….
Machines with minds….
And perhaps… even souls….
God knows the possibilities….
The fantastic possibilities….
The fantastic creations… of men….
Machines like can barely be created today… with all of our advanced technology….
Machines like that creation attributed to famous Chinese Engineer Yan Shi, who was (known as “The Artificer”…. Yan Shi supposedly created an automaton that was apparently indistinguishable from a human being…. An automata who would sing when his chin was stroked; whose body cavity contained working mechanical organs: heart, lungs, kidneys, stomach, intestines… even liver and gall… considered the center of emotion in the ancient Orient….
And I certainly don’t mean to slight the amazing alchemist from the VIIIth Century, Jabir ibn Hayyan, who developed a recipe for creating essentially living snakes… and scorpions… and humans….
Nor the Bānū Mūsā Brothers who wrote a tome titled the Book of Ingenious Devices describing an automated programmable flautist capable of playing various tunes…. Alchemical creations that were alive… reputedly possessed by demons…. Humunculi… who looked… and acted… human….
These were the men… and the machines… that fascinated… that captivated the imagination of my Environmental Engineer, Muhammed ibn Hamad Imad ad-din al-Isfahani….
I know that we have Computers My point is that the greatest Alchemists… the most accomplished Mages… the most knowledgeable Sages… the most visionary Seers… and the most phenomenal Mechanical Engineers… from Antiquity up to and Robots and Androids and Clones and Cyborgs… a kind of combination of all of the above…. But… all of that’s back on Earth…. Not out here on the Fringe…. Those advanced technologies are way to expensive to risk damaging… risk destroying… way out here in the Way Out… where the worlds are cold… the men are hard… and the work is dangerous….
My point is simply this: that the greatest Alchemists… the most accomplished Mages… the most knowledgeable Sages… the most visionary Seers… and the most phenomenal Mechanical Engineers… from Antiquity… all the way toincluding the present day… and I suspect into the foreseeable future… almost ALL seem to come out of the Near and Far Eastern traditions….
#
And this illustrious Engineer… quivering on his knees before me now… may be just such a mechanical magician as these….
#
That’s what I was thinking. Shaking my head. Thinking that the reality I faced must in fact be some horrible dream. Some dreadful delusion.
And that the delusion set before me seemed very close to becoming reality…. My reality…. A reality revealed to me excruciatingly slowly…. Unfolding… before my eyes… as if this were all some sad creation… some abomination… some morbid god’s recreation… that thus cannot be thwarted… before it completes its predetermined course….
#
The Engineer seemed to slowly… haltingly… gather his thoughts….
He strolled slowly over to where I was sitting… almost casually….
He carefully placed his hands on the gleaming metal table….
Folded precisely….
Fingers interlocked symmetrically… as though he were Buddha… transcendent… sitting in relaxed state… of serene contemplation…..
Mu looked around the room… again…. With a blissful smile…. And… an exaggerated… or rather… over-exaggerated… and clearly feigned casualness….
As if he were Dillon himself… checking to make sure the coast was clear….
Then he leaned in close to my ear… and whispered in a soft, yet intense voice… affecting a strange sibilance….
“S-s-stop…. S-s-start….” Slowly at first….
“ S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start….” But ever increasing….
“S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start….” Until frenetic….
“S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start…. S-s-stop…. S-s-start….” Until utterly FRANTIC!!!
#
#
I admit… I was confused…. This man… whom I knew… well…. Or… thought I knew well…. This friend…. Seemed. He seemed to have regained control of his emotions….. Of his mind….. Yet… the words he spoke made no sense to me…. Absolutely no contact… no connection… with my reality…..
And then… he went off….
Like a teakettle… casually sitting on a hot stove… until… suddenly… surprisingly… vigorously… it started boiling…. Roiling at first. And then….
Chattering….
Then… EXPLODING!!!
Screa-ea-ea-eam-m-m-mING!!!!
Ripping through the veil of silence… in a shattering… shrill voice…. Like the legendary Rending of the Veil of the Holy of Holies [in the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the precise moment Jesus Christ died on the Cross when he was crucified]…. Tearing apart… sundering… everything… previously separating man from God….]
I guess a man’s mind often turns towards thoughts of the afterlife… when he thinks his mortal life is about to end… imminently….
#
#
V
#
“Get Out of Dodge, Pardner…” Thus Spoke Zarathustra!
#
#
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread– and Thou,
Beside me singing in the Wilderness,
And oh, Wilderness is Paradise enow.
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
Mu’s face seemed to morph. His frenzied visage returned. His agitation accelerated. And then… he exploded! Gesticulating wildly, he started to scream frantically as he jumped up and threw back his head like wolf about to howl!
His face morphed. His frenzied visage returned. His agitation accelerated. And then… he exploded! Gesticulating wildly, he started to scream frantically as he jumped up and threw back his head like a howling wolf!
“Got to go! G. T. G. I’ve got to go! G. T. G., G. T. G. You’ve got to go! G. T. G., G. T. G., G. T. G.. We‘ve got to go! G. T. G., G. T. G., G. T. G.!!! . Got to git the Hell out of Dodge, Pardner! NOW!!! Before it’s too late. Before it’s too late. Before it’s too late….”
#
And then…. Click!
Like a freakin’ switch flipped….
Utter… utter calm….
Muhammed raised his head solemnly… beatifically… like a priest who had just finished praying… or chanting the Liturgy… intoning the Benediction… invoking God’s blessing of peace… concluding the Mass…. Believing he had been heard….
The picture in my mind was just like I always imagined Jesus Christ on the Cross… as he spoke his dying words….
His beatific face beaming… an aureole surrounding his whole being as he spoke: “Father… forgive them… they know not what they do….”
“And Glory shown round about him….”
Whatever that means….
At that moment, however, I must admit that I was connecting with another phrase Jesus Christ spoke…. “Eloi… Eloi… lama sabachthani…?”
Because… to me… it seemed like God must have forsaken me…. Taken an extended vacation….
If he even existed to take a friggin’ vacation….
Certainly bad timing… if he were trying to impress me….
Anyway… Muhammed beamed beatifically as he raised his head to speak…. And the wall-sized view screen accommodated the religious imagery by providing him with a faint hvarena as he concluded the benediction of his liturgy….
“If it’s not too late already….”
#
The imagery was intense…. The situation was tense…. I was tense…. And somehow… believe it or don’t… I was not comforted by his words….
Not Muhammed’s words…. And not Jesus’ words….
I guess sometimes words fail….
But I almost had to laugh when this Mad Arab affected his best syrupy… sorghum… sweet as blackstrap molasses… drawl…. His drawled Ike Clanton at the OK Corral voice…. As he tried to convince me of the supreme seriousness of that moment…. His assertion that “we” needed to Cowboy Up…. Suddenly… the supremely surreal vision of the two of us high-tailing it out of Tombstone together… riding high in the saddle of some dilapidated dromedary occupied my mind….
Two riders on one camel…. A single steed….
Ridiculous…!
And… that image… brought to mind… another….
The symbol of the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici…. Or the Ordre du Temple…. The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon….
More commonly know as The Knights Templar….
[The Order of the Knights Templar were so named because their facilities were housed in what was known as the Temple Stables… which were stables set up within the reputed walls of the Temple of Solomon…. That set up must have caused great consternation among many of the native peoples… because the Muslims and the Jews… and even the Syriac and Orthodox Christians who were displaced from the premises view the site as holy…. Consecrated…. And horse shit surely demeans… desecrates… such a holy site…. Pig shit, too…. Even more so…. Because the Jews and the Muslims detested swine… and had a religious restriction against eating or associating with animals with cloven hoofs… unless they chew they also chew their cud…. Beasts with cloven hooves have long been associated with demons… and with Satan…. However… the Franj… as the Franks and the Norman French of Outremer were known… knew… or accepted… no such religious restriction against eating… or associating… with satanic swine….
Anyway… Muslims venerate the Holy Site as the place where the Miraaj, or Allah’s Night Ascent into Heaven on a magical Buraq, occurred…. Jerusalem is considered the third most holy city in Islam for that reason…. The Dome of the Rock sits on the site of the Holy of Holies… and encases the Foundation Stone… that is believed by Muslims to reveal the pattern of the hooves of the sacred buraq as he ascended and returned on that fateful night trek across the Heavens….
The Jews also consider the Temple Mound holy… but they have severe religious restrictions against entering the site at all… because no one is sure exactly where the Holy of Holies was located… and to accidently step on that sacred space is on pangs of the penalty of death…. Apparently the restrictions only apply to Orthodox… or practicing religious Jews….
So… the politics of the Temple Mound are… complex…. But the inadvertent… or malicious… even militant… desecration of the Temple Mound by the Knights Templar seems pretty certain….
Of course… none of that matters now…. Not since the Palestinian Authority took over…. Not since the State of Palestine has been established in the Levant…. And the Nation of Israel has been moved off-shore…. Moved to an even more luxurious island nation created by the engineers of the Pearl-Qatar expressly for the purpose of moving the worlds off-shore banking center off the coast of what used to be known as the Land of Milk and Honey… to a new… a jacked up version… the NEW Holy Land…. A wholly different definition of what’s holy…. The Land of Milfs… and Honeys… or Hornys…. A Land overflowing with Filth and Money…. Desecration and dissipation….
A plethoric little Pleasure Island filled to brim with dirty minds…. And filthy lucre…. And the filthy rich…. Playing their dirty little games…. And winning….
The Jew guessed that… and they gave up the Holy Land God had given them… and in return… they got to be gods themselves…. And… they sure seemed to have gotten themselves a Messiah in the bargain…!
Reminds me of the interesting intrigues… syncreatistic religious practices… involving the priests of Jehovah… and the priests of Ba’al… and the priestesses of Astarte…. Of the marriage… and rule… of the rules… laid down by King Ahab… and his queen… Jezebel….
Anyway…. The move solved a lot of problems….
And made a lot of people rich in the process…. Or… from the process…. So… they got plenty of buy in…. Because it was all other people’s money…. But… somehow… Peter Lupin… and the company he keeps… Maß Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH)… pulled it all together…. And pulled it off….
And in the process… some suggest… he saved the world….]
Supposedly the image represents Hugues de Payens (the First Grandmaster of the Order) and Godfrey de Saint-Omer were, two of the founding members…. The first two members….
And… those two poor knights… were too poor… to afford a warhorse apiece…. So… they showed great humility…. They humiliated themselves…. They shared one….
Apparently… their answer to their funding dilemma… was to swear a vow of Apostolic poverty….
Still… they vowed to take up arms… and serve the cause… against all odds…. Go to the desert…. Far away…. And fight the good fight…. Paladin….
But for them… Jerusalem lay at the Center of their Universe… not the extreme fringe….
And… their reward would be Eternal…. Not temporal…. Not temporary…. And not on this Earth.
How… why… that symbol flashed into my brain I have no idea. No recollection. I just know that it shot into my mind’s eye as if it constituted some religious revelation.
Sigillum Militum De Templo Christi..
But with two men in Hard-shelled High Vacuum Space Suits on a single… dilapidated… depilated… camel.
Suddenly the irony struck me… and I laughed out loud….
I don’t think my partner is even Christian!
#
Two men on a single steed. Or… camel… in this case…. Sounds like the plot from some implausible 1970’s comedy…. But even funnier…. Zanier…. Pricklier…. More comedick….
Anywho…. In my heart of hearts… I felt…. I knew…. That somehow… we must be in this together….
But… how…?
I was confused….
And afraid….
Was this previously rational man before me now completely insane…?
Or was I…?
Or… were we both…?
Utterly irrational…?
Still… in my delirium… the most frightening delusion of all… was that we were both sane…. Rational… men…. And… the only delusion… was that what we were experiencing… was really… REAL….
That we were admittedly paranoid… and neurotic… and caught up in a conspiracy of cosmic proportions….
Or…. Not….
May we were delusional.
Maybe I was delusional.
Perhaps we were picked… because we were no great loss…. And no one would ever believe our ravings… if they ever heard… anything at all….
To think that we might have been chosen by God for some super-secret mission to save mankind seemed like even more of a Cosmic Fluke….
All options seemed completely crazy…. Even if it eventually turned out that we really both were… utterly rational….
I mean… the most likely thing to me seemed to be… that I was picked… because I was nothing at all….
Or… perhaps… I wasn’t even picked. It was all just a fluke. And… I was a Fluke of the Universe….
That thought was certainly depressing….
#
I remember… at the time… feeling… disturbed….
What did all of that “G.T.G.” shit mean anyway…?
If anything….
And if it didn’t mean anything… if it were all just… nothing… just some cosmic bullshitter’s cosmic bull shit… why was Mu so frantically trying to spit it all out…? Like it was some kind of poison or shit… somehow poured in his mouth…. Rammed down his throat….
That just stuck in my craw….
And… in my brain….
#
#
I didn’t recall what he had said at the time. Not at that time…. But… somewhat later… it struck me….
I guess I was displaying my despicable prejudices a bit; naturally… I assumed that since he was Persian, he must be Muslim. I was right…. And… I was wrong…. I mean… at the time… I thought I knew…. Him. Mu…. And… I knew… he was Persian. Or… thought he may have been Muslim…. Because he was Persian… he must have been Muslim…. In fact…. Or… in fiction. Whatever I thought at the time didn’t really matter. At least I was coherent enough at the time to understand that. But… now… in retrospect… I know for a fact that he was Persian…. But he certainly was not Muslim…. I had just assumed he was….
And you know what happens when you assume….
I assume you do….
I know I do….
Now….
But… at the time… I was an ass. And that’s really the answer. At the time… I was more concerned about trying to recall our discussion on the finer points of Wajib al-Wujud…. “Necessary Existence”…. Islamic Theology regarding Reality…. Synonymous with God….
#
#
I don’t even recall how the topic even came up….
Muhammed and I were sitting at our benches in the Galley…. Sipping coffee…. Shooting the breeze…. Discussing some aspect of our mission…. I don’t really recall what….
But… then… we took a bit of a break…. Our minds… started to ramble…. Why were we here…. Really…. Here….
#
At first, I was baffled by what my friend had proposed so vehemently. I was perplexed. By his missive. By his message. His words shook my world. What was man’s purpose…? Man’s mission…. Man’s goal…. In life….
Or… more specifically… more pointedly… more precisely… what was mine…?
And… then… we stumbled into a discussion of… our Quest…. Our TRUE Search…. And not just our search…. The search…. For… meaning…. Which can never be answered by Science…. Because… Science doesn’t have the tools… to ask… “Why?”…. Only… “How…?”….
The search for… Truth…. REAL Truth…. In a Relativistic Universe…. The search for God…. Not a god…. The God. The REAL God…. In an unreal world…. A world of deception…. A degenerate… godless… world…. A world in which god has been slain… so that each man can evolve… can reach his highest state of being… realize his highest state of consciousness… become… his own god….
One god is slain… and innumerable… petty… gods… are created…. Resurrected…. Raised up in his place…. And ALL seek to ascend his throne…. The Throne of the One God….
A world in which Theology… evolved into nothing more… than the Psychology of Self-actualization…. A mental… and a moral… trap…. If… there is no being… higher than myself… then there is no authority… higher than myself… and there is no Moral Law… higher than my own wanton pursuit of self-pleasure… and profit….
Tohu wa-Bohu…. Creatio ex Nihilo…. Something… created out of Nothing…. Or else… seemingly much more likely… stolen….
I have slain my Superego… and usurped God’s authority…. I have created myself as my own lord and god….
But… at least to me… that proclamation seems rather dubious…. The whole picture perfect picture created by man’s most solemn musings…. The whole… IT… all… seems… so… unsettling…. So… fictitious…. So… artificial…. So… self-serving…. So… commercial…. So… tawdry…. So… cheap…. So… contrived…. Like some cheap parlor trick…. Like fortune telling…. The Hanging Man…. Pure… Psychological manipulation….
So incredibly small…. That’s what really bothers me. The seemingly inadequate dimensions….
If the tenets of Atheism are true…. If God is dead…. No…! Better yet… if God never existed… why spend so much… effort… so much… time… trying to chop him up…. Trying to chop him down…. Trying to bury him…. Why try to slay him… and take his throne… for yourselves…. Like MacBeth…. That never seems to work out so well…. Such usurpations always seems to end in tragedy….
Sure makes for a ripping yarn, though….
#
Anyway…. Somehow that discussion evolved even further…. And… then… Mu mentioned Wajib al-Wujud…. “Necessary Existence”….
Muhammed’s thesis was this: Only God MUST… necessarily… exist…. The only being that exists out of necessity is God…. All other creatures…. All Creation in fact…. Proceeds…. Follows…. Flows… out of the plethoric abundance of God…. Everything else…. ALL of THIS…. Is nothing… more… and… nothing… less… than an expression… of THAT…. Truth…. That reality…. That revelation. Therefore… all we see… all our senses perceive… and all our mind conceives… is nothing more than a fantastic revelation…. An emanation…. Yet… still… an insufficient imitation… of God….
#
So… if Mu’s thesis is to be believed…. Well…. Then… it’s a powerful statement…. Because… that's a powerful god…. An all-powerful god…. A god even I could worship…. Humbly….
Someone once told me that either God had to EVERYTHING he claimed to be…. Omniscient…. Omnipotent…. Omnipresent…. And Eternal…. Or he was a liar…. And… nothing at all….
But… if God really was all that…. Really IS all that…. Then he must also be All-Merciful…. All-Loving…. While still being All-Holy…. And… Just…. And totally transcend man’s capacity to comprehend… God….
WOW!!! What a doxology…!
But… then… you know… sometimes life gets in the way….
Then… I thought about my momma…. What my momma would probably say…. About God….
And… that made me… sad….
Because… it’s a sad story…. But… maybe I should tell it…. Just so you know….
#
#
My momma emigrated. Moved to America. To provide a better life for her kids. For me. And she really never knew what she was getting herself into….
She worked hard…. For everything she got…. But she never did manage to get much…. Because she was always just an Em…. And… therefore… and Out…. She never got in…. Never got to join the Union….
I was her pride and joy…. And she thought I had made it…. Made it in…. But here I am… out on the Fringe…. Out in the Way Out…. She left her pleasant… secure… life in Buenos Aires…. And emigrated to build what she expected to be a better life… in that God-forsaken land called America….
America forsook God…. And God forsook my mamma…. And her kids….
I mean… I sincerely believed that God forsook me….
And… America forsook God… America forsook my momma, too….
Betrayed her trust….
Raped her….
My mother… left her homeland… to come to America… to slave away for rich… powerful… prestigious… men…. For men who claimed to be Liberal… and Progressive… Socialist…. Union leaders…. Politicians…. Media mavens…. Workers… for the Common Man…. Working men themselves… working… for the Working man…. Fighting oppression….
And all the while… they were just turning free men and women into slaves…. Willing slaves…. But slaves nonetheless…. Many people sold their freedom…. And that’s not all…. My momma sold her freedom…. Sold her dignity…. Sold her body…. To those men…. As an Entertainer…. As a prostitute…. As a surrogate…. As a fucking breeder bitch….
And my mother got down on her knees… and she begged… to be treated like a whore….
My mother shamed herself…. And my mother stained herself….
My mother stained me…. And my mother shamed me….
And I can never forget that fact….
And I can never forgive that mangy… emigrant… bitch….
I’m just another son of an Em… on the Way Out….
Yo soy un hijo de perra…. Un hijo de puta…. Y un hijo de dolor….
I am the son of my mother…. And I can’t even claim that Spanish is my mother tongue…. Not really….
#
I wanna make something clear…. Very clear…. About my momma….
My momma loved me…. Maybe too much….
My momma would do anything… anything at all… to see me succeed….
And…. Some of the things she did… were… shameful…. Very… shameful….
Too shameful to talk about….
Too shameful to think about….
Too painful to forget….
My momma loved me…. Maybe my momma loved me too much….
More than I deserve….
Maybe I made her do those… shameful… things….
At least she had the decency to die before she had to watch me fail…. So… I never shamed her…. After all she sacrificed for me….
That would have made all of this even more painful….
Too painful to bear….
#
#
So… thinking about God… and remembering my mother… weighed on my heart… and ate at my soul….
Made me… uncomfortable….
Somehow… talking about religion… suddenly seemed… too… personal…. So… I decided to try to create some space…. I deflected…. I mentioned the famous philosophical work La vida es sueño by the great XVIIth Century Spanish playright Pedro Calderón de la Barca.
Anyway…. The premise is that nothing actually exists…. Life… and everything else exists only as a dream….
I love Reverend Samuel Johnson’s famous reply to that idea…. I’ll paraphrase: Let me smack you in the mouth and then you can tell me about your dream….
Mu laughed…. And our conversation drifted back towards the business of Asteroid Mining, Space Travel and Life Support Systems…. Engineering details….
#
#
But later… at some other nebulous time… while I was sitting… secluded… on that ergonomic bench… in the Galley…. Staring out that huge window… into the vast expanse of Space-Time…. My mind drifted back….
Back to Muhammed….
Back to my momma….
Back to the great XVIIth Century Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca….
Back to his Classic philosophical masterpiece… La vida es sueño….
And… back to God….
Funny how that all works… ain’t it…?
My momma may have sold her freedom…. May have sold her dignity…. And she certainly sold her body…. To those men….
But… my momma never sold her soul…. To no one…. Because she had already given it to God….
Anyway…. Like I said…. If Mu’s thesis is to be believed…. Accepted fully… faithfully… as Truth…. That would a powerful statement…. Because… that would define a powerful god…. But… still… my momma would probably say… “ALL of THAT… doesn't even touch the hem of my God's garment….”
#
#
Finally… I remember what my friend had told me before…. Or… rather hinted…. That he was a Mage….
Not like in that old game Dungeons & Dragons….
Like in the Christmas story…. In Matthew….
A Magus…. One of the Magi….
And then… it all made more sense….
Which really wasn’t much… because none of it seemed to make any sense at all…. And I had no idea what a Magus really was… except some vague historical references…. They are Zoroastrians…. Or Zarathustrians…. Believers in Ahura Mazda…. Or… ultimate… and ultimately… Truth….
And Thus Spoke Zarathustra….
#
#
At first, I was baffled by what he… what Mu… said so vehemently…. So brusquely….
And… he wiggled his ears when said it….
And… I wasn’t sure what that meant….
He was frantic…. Almost green with… panic….
He sounded… sick…. And looked… almost green….
Almost like…. No…! No way….
Couldn’t be…. Could it…? Could he…? Be….
Master Yoda…?
Perplexed…. I was…. Hummmm….
The mind may play strange tricks on a man… especially when he’s hold up in some dismal cave out in the wilds of Space….
#
#
Anyway…. I struggled vainly to solve the puzzle set before me….
Maybe you can do better. Riddle me this….
What good would leaving the Common possibly do…? We couldn’t talk privately….
Any communications would be even more thoroughly compromised….
And… what could he possibly mean with all that “G.T.G.” freakin’ Kaiser Scheißkopf Schmuck…? If anything…?
#
Well… finally… it hit me…. Not necessarily the answer…. But at the very least an answer…. And a potentially plausible one at that….
I suddenly understood that he didn’t mean leave the Galley…. The Common…. No…! He meant leave the SHIP!!! Go out on a Space Walk. And never come back…!
By that point, I’ll just be honest… I was ready to leave!
But… still…. I wasn’t ready to do that! That was suicide! Plain and simple. The ultimate capitulation….
#
So… I thought about options…..
Other… options….
Good options….
Which… seemed to be… at least at the moment… tremendously limited….
Severely limited….
I counted them…. Listed them…. In order of probability of success….
¡Nada!
At least… none presented themselves…. At least… no good options….
So… I decided to explore even the bad options. And I couldn’t find a lot of those either!
So… I decided to try to improvise….
So… I pondered….
#
#
You know how sometimes… you’re in a critical situation… and you catch… your mind… drifting…. Sometimes… you just get a little bit… giddy…. Even goofy.
Well… maybe you don’t….
But I do….
And I was….
And I did….
Drift…. Like a Mitsubishi Eclipse at high speed on a tight turn on a steep… wet… back-country road through the mountains of Japan…. Zooming past the rice paddies. And the cow patties. All of that shit….
And… I guess… I should clue you in… since you’re not equipped to read my mind…. My thoughts…. My musings….
#
They went something like this….
¡Nada!
I love that hard “th” sound….
NaTHa….
The sound of it….
The feel of it….
The… visceral… fee-ee-eel of it…. That almost… slimy… quality….
It’s almost like… spitting… in disgust….
¡No me gusta!
The same root…. The same… visceral… feeling….
Disgust….
Dislike….
Disrespect….
Distinct…. Set apart…. Separated…. Dead….
Distink…. Distinkin’…. Jus’ thinkin’….
Stinking… Dis….
Dis…. Another word for Hell….
And Dispater…. Father of Dis….
Another word for Satan… Father of Lies…. Master of Deception….
Full circle…. Disgusting….
¡No me gusta!
Hell…. I know….
And then… my mind returned… to the present… which is now in the past….
And the problem… the situation… was still there….
Imagine that….
Well… I didn’t have to. Because I was there….
#
#
What would he do if I resisted? If I didn’t go along? If I tried to talk some sense into him? If I tried to change his mind?
And then… I drifted…. Again….
#
I was seriously much more concerned that my friend Mu was just about to declare some dark Fatwahfatwah and go off all giddy-giddy-up Jihadin’ all over jihadin’ on my fat assetts… while my fat ass shits in the cinema…. Face spittin’ chiclets like some candy-ass Eminenema… etts.
Crotch sniffin’ ass lickin’ shit spewing homophobe! Race baitin’ woman hater. Whether he sits or shits…. Same diff…erence to me. He gets no deference from me. I quit dealing with all doz dipshits… Lipshits… fake tits… and all the rest of that La-la-land Rover overhyped vainglorious bastards and bitches…. Now I’m gone. Adios! All you chichi cabrons….
#
Oops…! Dats a wrap! Right outta da wrapper and “Out on da Fringe”….
Way beyond da norm…. Like I’m livin’ da Dream…. Breakin’ da form…. Makin’ ya SCREAM…. Just bein’ extremely selfish…. Cuz that what I do…. Doo-doo-dah….
A crappy rap with shitty rhymes, but what can I say? I’m not from L.A. I can’t make a case ‘cause I’m lost somewhere in space and I ain’t got the time… for this shit!
You can eat my white chocolate candy-coated Eminem-ass….
#
But… back to the sterile atmosphere of space. And the shiny space-aged stainless satin surfaced appliances of the Common. I just sittin’. Thinking. Mu might’ve just gone too far. Way too far…. Out….
And… in the back of my mind… I was kinda thinkin’…. Appliances…. Tools…. That’s what we were…. Not who we were. What we were. Animal. Vegetable. Mineral. None of that mattered. Because we were OBJECTS. Not subjects. Not human. Not non-human. Inhuman. Subhuman. Objects. Of scorn… and derision…. Devalued…. Worthless…. Objects.
#
Then that craze creature spouted some phrase that clicked. That stuck. That resonated….
“You know her….”
#
Know… her….
Well… depending on whom she was… maybe I did…. Got me there…. Might’ve made too much fun there…. Become an “I just don’t care bear”….
It all seemed ok when he said it about you…. Like you were some sick fool…. While he swam in the cess pool…. And dove into the press pool…. And claimed he was Old School….
Claimed ass kissin’ was all cool….
When he’s in control…. Speak…. Cuz he’s a control freak…. Freakin’ out of control Geek…. So don’t try to troll him…. Or he’ll… freak out… and… spew hate… on you… like he did on Kimchee….
So… you see… I rhymed it…. That SpaceTime shit…. If that’s a crime… arrest me….
Yo-ho, Moe! I’m Schick… wi’ Dis….
Oh, well…. Poetic Injustice….
Now…. Moving on…. Moving out…. Moving… back….
#
Moving back to the here…. Moving back to the NOW!!!
Now… that I know he’s Farsi… that shit just didn’t fit…. So… I need to quit it….
So… I dit-dit-did it….
#
Because… just then… my friend Mu said something that just solid shit clicked….
That stuck…. That struck….
That penetrated….
That resonated….
Mu said: “You know her….”
Or… maybe… he said: “You know her….”
I don’t know…. He emphasized something….
Well… depending on whom he means…. Who she is…. Maybe I do…. Maybe I don’t…. Got me dere….
#
But the G.T.G.….
Got to go…. Can that be it…? She-it….
Must be something else….
Must mean something else….
An anagram maybe…?
Not a Chiasmus…. Definitely not a Chiasmus….
An ACROSTIC…?
Could that be it…? Or something like it…? Something similar…? A different language…? A different concept…? Like Hebrew numerology…. In ancient times… before Arabic numerals… the letters served as numbers…. So… G…. G would be… seven…. T would be… 20. G would… still be seven…. So… 7… 20… 7…. Or… 727…. Or… 7… +20… +7… =34…. Or… maybe it’s supposed to be gamma… the Greek letter… which would three….
Or… maybe it’s something else….
Symbols…? Could it be symbols…?
G… is the symbol for…? Guanine….
And T… is the symbol for…? Thymine….
So… maybe that’s the key…. Maybe… it’s some kind of… Genetic Code…?
Would have to be DNA… not RNA… because DNA contains Thymine… and RNA substitutes Uracil….
Three base pairs make a codon…. Which constitute a reading frame…. Code for a specific amino acid…. Or some kind of signal…. Start…. Or… STOP!!! And… that’s what he was screaming before…!
So… GTG… ain’t the Start codon…. That would be TAC…. Codes for Methionine…. And… it doesn’t code for any of the three possible Stop codons…. GTG just codes for… Valine…. Which means nothing…. At least… to me….
Nutin’…. Just random letters…. In a random pattern…. Uttered by some random… crazy… man….
Or… maybe… it’s just… what he said. Or… perhaps… how he said it….
Something like: “She’s… the Demonspawn…!”
Well… that certainly narrowed it down.
And… I’m not sure what to call it…. How to label it. Appropriately. Or… inappropriately….
Icebreaker. Deal-breaker. Ball-breaker. One of those I’m sure….
I mean… I never even met Susan Sarandon; she was before my time. By a good bit. But I wish I had….
Still… I didn’t think he was really talking about Ghostbusters.
I decided that he might be slightly less likely to pull some ceremonial rhino-horn dagger and kill me in cold blood if I feigned interest. Or at least held up my end of the conversation. So I screwed up my face, made up some meaningless… Bull SHIT!!!
Totally meaningless…. NO meaning whatsoever…. Just completely random guttural utterances. Any Dadaist would have been proud!
Crazy is as crazy does…. And that man looks and sounds crazy….
Or… maybe… it’s not the meaning that matters…. Not even the symbolic meaning….
Not the meaning…. Not the symbolism…. Not the words…. Not the sound of the words…. Not the meaning of the sound of the words…. Not the shapes….
Maybe it’s a different code…. A cryptographic code…. But that would be stupid… with just three letters that repeat… and no key….
So… what else…?
Some… subtle… combination… of… all… of… those…?
Looks… and sounds… CRAZY!!!
That’s totes cray cray… as they used to say…
So… think… like a crazy man….
Try to think like a crazy man….
Try…. Try…. TRY!!!
Try to think…. To think….
Think…. Think…. THINK!!!
G… looks… like… 6….
T… looks… like…. Nothing. Except T….
6 T. 6…. Six tons… six what…? Six times six…?
Six times six equals…. Nothing….
A whole LOT of NOTHING!!!
#
But… I guess… sometimes… nothing… is something….
Sometimes… nothing… can mean something….
Sometimes… that nothing… is enough of something… to be… satisfying….
Sometimes… that nothing… can contain just a glimmer…. A shimmering… light…. Of hope…. Of finding… TRUTH!!!
Sometimes… you’re out there in the Way Out… stumbling around… bumbling… prospecting… and you trip over a huge nugget….
Sometimes… you strike GOLD!!! Pure gold.
And… sometimes… you strike… out….
And sure seemed to me that we were in the bottom of the ninth…. And… I was rooting for Mudville…. And Mighty Casey was at the bat….
#
6T6… could… sound like… 66…. And a string of 66s… might look something like… 66, 66, 66, 66, 66, 66, 66, 66, 66…. Or… like… 666666666666666666…. Change the reading frame…? You can get… 666,666,666,666,666,666…. Or six sets of 666s….
Unholy shit, Batman…!
Makes a boy wonder… don’t it…?
#
Now… maybe you’re thinking that I’m smart….
That I sound smart…. And I look smart….
But… this is now…. And that… was then….
And then… I didn’t look smart…. And I didn’t sound smart…. And I didn’t even feel smart….
Now… I can easily do the math…. But then…?
It was a totally different story….
Because I didn’t get it….
Until Muhammed said….
#
“She’s the Demonspawn…!”
And… I know where he placed the emphasis on that….
And… that narrowed it down….
I mean… I knew that Mu’d never even met Susan Sarandon; she was before his time. By a good bit.
But I sure wish I had…. And… maybe I did….
Still… I didn’t think he was really talking about Ghostbusters…. I wish he were…. But I knew he wasn’t….
#
I mean… I didn’t figure it all out from just that one clue…. It was a process…. Took time…. Took a long time…. A long long time…. A lot of looking back….
To come to… the realization….
To come to… the TRUTH….
But… what happened at that critical moment… was that I decided to just go with the flow….
Got to go…. Get up and go…. Go with the flow….
#
I decided that Muhammed might be just slightly less likely to pull out some ceremonial rhino-horn dagger… and stab me… slay me… in cold blood… if I at least feigned interest…. As a survival instinct….
Or at least tried hard to hold up my end of the conversation….
And… besides…. His emphasis on the definite article intrigued me…. Professionally…. As a Linguist…. As a man who considers himself to be, if not a real ladies man, certainly a cunning Linguist…. At least… in my dreams….
#
It bothered me….
It was… unnecessary….
The definite article…. The “the”…. Was unnecessary…. Inefficient…. Almost… stilted….
I mean… Mu was speaking English….
And he was certainly fluent… speaking English…. And a few other languages….
And when even fluent non-native speakers of English speak in English they tend to drop the definite article… often even when it’s normally necessary….
But… Mu didn’t drop it…. He added it…. Stuck it in…. Seemingly… or slyly… on purpose…. Somewhere that it usually isn’t even used….
Except to emphasize something specific….
Someone specific….
#
Now… I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him correctly….
Did he mean… Demonspawn…? Or… Demonspawn…? Or… Demonspawn…?
As in… “Pawn of multiple demons”…?
Or… “Spawn”… of one… particular… Demon…?
The sentence structure seemed to argue the latter…. But I couldn’t be sure….
Not of his meaning….
And not even if it mattered….
I just knew that it looked like Mu was getting madder…. Not necessarily angrier…. But certainly crazier….
#
So I screwed up my face. Made some meaningless… circular… jerking… almost masturbatory gestures with my left hand…. While clinching my right fist… tight… as I mumbled: “Ummmm…. Who…?”
I didn’t get the opportunity to execute my diversional query prior to his riposte….
“That… Babylonian Whore…. Qarinah….…. That… Succubus…. Attacks… dreams…. Steals… knowledge…. Sucks… life….”
With those few discernable syllables… that raving Mad Arab skewered me. Right through the heart. Right through my soul. Now… I knew… the bitch… whom he described….
Undeniably….
Intimately….
Our… travel companion….
My… Ex….
But he didn’t know that….
He couldn’t… know that…. Not… yet….
The most he could know was that I knew her…. Somehow…. And he knewalso seemed to knw… that I knew… more…. Than anyone. Else. About her….
Except… possibly… him….
#
#
So… let me recap…. My feelings….
Initially… I must admit… my life passed before my eyes…. But… I figured out… that my fears… were largely unfounded…. I miss-recollected. My friend was not a known associate of well-known academic and philosopher… Hassan-i-Sabah… the Old Man of the Mountain… like the famous Persian tent-maker and poet of love… Omar Khayyam… was…. I mistakenly confused Isfahan for Alamut. But the inspiration for the religious events recounted in the tales was different. And I was mistaken in my fear.
Still… I find the ironic intercession… the intertwining of drugs and dreams in a desert tale… delicious…. Sweet as cakes of pressed figs and dates sweetened with honey.
But… this particular desert dream, while filled to overflowing with passion, was certainly devoid of the flowers of maiden hood… the last vestiges of virginity long lost….
And… innocence… long forgotten….
Thrown away….
Battered…. Bartered…. Bought and sold….
But… my Farsi friend Mu…? He ain’t even Muslim…. And he ain’t even Arab… though I keep claiming he is….
#
So… it never really mattered….
Ironic, huh…?
This man named Muhammed… lived his whole life… hiding from Islamic Fundamentalists… of both branches…. He pretended to be Sufi… and Shi’ite… because that sect is more shrouded in secrecy…. Not because he was really Isma’ili…. Nizār’īyyah…. Or… Hasshashim….
And in the end… he was destroyed… by a different moral code…. A lawless legalism…. The Law of the Jungle…. The Judgments of the Amoral…. The Philosophical descendents of the Philistines…. The legalistic equivalents of the Amorites….
Dead people…. Dead men…. Dead souls….
Dead. Dead. Dead….
#
#
VI
#
Deprived of Sleep… and a Few Other Things….
#
#

Afraid to fall asleep. Struggles to stay awake.

He lifted his head and smiled as the drugs kicked in. His head lolled on his chest as they forced his arms into the sleeves of that gleaming white vestment… buckled the shining silver straps along the back of the straightjacket. He lifted his head for the briefest moment…. A serene smile spread across his face like an excitatory electrical discharge…. A glint of deep understanding flashed across his cornea…. A feeling of profound connection formed spontaneously in my mind… as his lips carefully formed two words….
Hacked….
System….

Omar Khayyám, or Omar the Tent-maker. Mathmatician, Philosopher, Poet. Adviser to Seljuk Malik Shah I. Went on Hajj after killed (presumably by Assassins).
Avicenna & Omar in Isfahan.
Atashgah of Isfahan: Fire Temple of Isfahan. Zoroaster. Vishtaspa: “kavi” poet/priest/prophet Magi. Hero in Zoroastrian tradition. Abominable villain in Sistan heroic cycle. Mage/Prophet in Greco-Roman and Christian thought as “Hystaspes”, inventor of Astrology, predicted fall of Rome and coming Savior (seven day week created after number of planets).
Zoroaster or Zarathustra: human condition struggle between aša (truth) and druj (lie). Ahura Masda is aša, creation, existence and condition of Free Will. Purpose of mankind is to sustain aša through active participation in life and exercise of constructive thoughts, words and deeds.
Ahura Mazda proclaimed by Zarathustra as uncreated god. Ahura means “light” and Mazda means “wisdom”, thus Lord of Light and Wisdom. Creator and upholder of Arta or Truth. Omniscient and omnipotent. Created Angra Mainyu, the “evil spirit” who created evil and will be destroyed. Invoked in triad with Mithra and Apam Napat after Artaxerxes II.
Angra Mainyu: mainyu “mind, mentality, spirit” angra “destructive, inhibitive, malign” thus absolute antithesis.
Daevas aka mainyu “evil spirit, mind, thought” that deceive themselves and humankind. Later become demons. Daevas offspring of achistem manah “worst thinking” or deceit.
Ahriman cannot create life without intervention, so creates Jahi, the primal whore who afflicts women with menstrual cycles.
Mithra angelic divinity of covenant and oath. Judicial figure. All-seeing Protector of Truth. Thousand ears. Myriad eyes. Who sleeps not, ever wakeful.
Roman Mithraic Mysteries: god of morning sun who slew primeval bull. Seven grades of initiation with ritual meals, seven planets/gods. Syndexioi “unite by the handshake”. Born from rock, slaughtered bull (tauroctony), shared banquet with Sol.

Al-Khutbat al-gharrá or The Splendid Sermon on the praise of God agrees with Avicenna on Divine Unity and describes the Sufi methodology of knowing God. “Sufis, who do not seek knowledge by ratiocination or discursive thinking, but by purgation of their inner being and purifying of their dispositions. They cleanse the rational soul of the impurities of nature and bodily form, until it becomes pure substance. When it then comes face to face with the spiritual world, the forms of that world become reflected in it, without any doubt or ambiguity. This is the best of all ways, because it is known to the servant of God that there is no better than the Divine Presence and in that state there are no obstacles or veils in between. Whatever man lacks is due to the impurity of his nature. If the veil be lifted and the screen and obstacle removed, the truth of things as they are will become manifest and known. And the Master of creatures–upon whom be peace–indicated this when he said: “Truly, during the days of your existence, inspirations come from God. Do you not want to follow them?” Tell unto reasoners that, for the lovers of God, intuition is guide, not discursive thought.–Omar Khayyám

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: not all the Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Not all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

But helpless pieces in the fame He plays,
Upon his chequer-board of Nights and Days,
He hither and thither moves, and checks… and slays,
Then one by one, back in the Closet lays.
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
I don’t know which… if any… of the various kinds of Pure HELL you’ve personally been through, but….
Wait….
Excuse me. I apologize. I just tried to deceive you….
Hell is never pure…. Has to do with its essence….
So… please allow me to rephrase….
I don’t know which… if any… of the various kinds of Impure HELL you’ve personally been through, but… in my limited… experience… limited… existence… my period of somewhat less than a thousand years… (significantly less… though it sure seems like a lot longer sometimes…) one of the worst punishments I’ve experienced is sleep deprivation…. Because of the uncertainty, I guess….
Sometimes… you know you’re in Hell…. Categorically…. Unquestionably…. Somehow… you just know it….
But other times…. You feel like you just might be in heaven…. At least… like your almost there…. Almost in heaven…. Just outside the pearly gates…. Out in the antechamber…. The outhouse…. Somewhere close…. Something like that….
Certainly not the bowels of Hell….
Because… there’s fruit…. Big bowls of it…. Not-quite-fresh fruit…. But fruit none-the-less…. Definitely not ambrosia…. Just some fruitcakes… [the shriveled… hard kind… that look… and taste… like freeze-dried bricks and shit… only lacking the nutritional value of red clay…. Or reconstituted feces…. You know the fruit I’m talking about…. Holiday fruit…. Not Passion Fruit…. Not Blood Oranges…. The kind with the fluorescent plastic fruit particles…. The ones that are worse than the lyrics to Plastic Jesus… and not half as funny…. The kind you have to endlessly endure during Turkey Season…. Thanksgiving…. Christmas…. Visits to grandmas… and grandpas… and outlaw In-laws…. The same sad decorations…. The same sad… unspiked… punch…. Or Egg Nog straight out of the dairy case…. A few of those sad… scarlet… Molded Christmas salads… like some shade similar to Fuschia Vomitus…. Turkey roasting…. And some slimy Green Bean Casserole…. With Funions…. Burning holiday candles…. Squirting Scent of Spruce spray…. And ugly… outlandish… garish… Christmas sweaters that smell of mothballs…. Because your mom is too cheap to buy cedar chips…. Ah… the all-too-familiar beautify of a Reformed Protestant Fundamentalist Puritan version of a steamy sex pit] with a few of the ugly virgins… that don’t quite fit into the blissful paradise that awaits the real martyrs…. Because we just don’t measure up….
You know the ones I’m talking about…. Not Vestal Virgins… whose gifts of Prophesy are tied to their sustained virginity…. I’m talking Reasonable Virgins…. Any reasonable man can look… and readily see the reason behind the stoic maintenance of those girls’ maidenheads…. The Coyote Ugly Tavern Girls…. Where a reasonable man has got to tap the keg pretty hard before he gets hard up enough to tap that…. Then gnaws his arm off to escape the trap he laid for himself….
Keg Wenches…. The kind of girls you warm up to when they’re sitting on a Vodka Luge…. The kind who only look good when it’s hittin’ Last Call and you’re puttin’ on your Beer Goggles… getting’ ready to just dive in…. And hit it….
You… and I… get stuck in some subpar Purgatory… stuffed with butterbeans boiled with bacon… savory sacrifices burned to a state of oblivion…. A Sweet Purgatory… where even the odd iced tea is… oh… so-o-o-o-o sweet…. Butt… nothing’s can compete with those sweet Butterface Angels….
A beautiful Butterface Purgatory….
Where… everything’s beautiful….
Butterface….
Sometimes… I feel like I’d really rather take my chances sleeping with the Succubus…. Again….
At least I’m tempted….
But… not Mu….
He was a rock…. He was an oak….
But… not me…. Or… not I…. I wasn’t….
So… my friend was an oak… and I… wasn’t….
But… at least… I had a woody….
#
#
Dreams…. Strange dreams…. Reminds me of a discussion I had once with Mu… before this all… began…. Reminds me of something he said….
We were sitting in the Galley… sipping synthetic coffee…. Shooting the breeze…. Talking about Machines…. Talking about Automatons…. Talking about Space Travel…. Talking about the working of the Wombs…. And… talking about… dreams….
Mu seemed stupefied…. He just stared at the steam rising from his cup…. All misty eyed…. As the misty vapor danced… he lifted his eyes… and stared at the wall…. Stared at the screen…. Stared through the screen… displaying the stars… as though he were staring off into the vast distance of deepest Space….
And… I… drifted… back…. To something he had said… earlier….
#
#
Dreams…. Strange dreams…. Wet dreams…. They're all just that…. Nothing more…. And nothing less….
Maybe some of them mean something…. Maybe some of them don't. Maybe NONE of them ever mean anything…. But none of them are never really gonna give you the lotto numbers…. Unless it's just pure… dumb… random… luck…. And I believe that putting faith in anything as random as pure luck is dumb…. Because I believe everything happens for a rational reason…. Even irrational things…. Because I believe in ultimate truth….
I’m an engineer. And I’m a pragmatist. I believe in evidence. Experimental evidence. And empirical evidence. I believe in what I SEE. And I believe in what I UNDERSTAND. And I believe in what makes SENSE. And… I believe in what WORKS. Especially what I SEE work….
But I don’t put much stock in dreams….
Because… I believe… strange dreams… and WET dreams… even STRANGE wet dreams… are just that…. Dreams…. And strange…. Ephemeral…. Insignificant…. Gossamer…. Just dreams….
Unless… someone else put them there….
And… then… that’s different….
#
I didn’t understand that… then…. What he said…. What he meant….
I don’t really even know now….
I’m not sure Muhammed did either….
But it sure sounded… sure felt… profound….
#
#
Anyway….
Almost makes you afraid to fall asleep, doesn’t it…. The whole… damned… business…. And… believe me… that’s just what it is, too…. Business…. Damned business….
But… when you’re severely sleep deprived… it’s such a struggle to stay awake….
And… you’re never quite sure that what you’re experiencing isn’t some incredibly vivid dream…. Or… some incredibly bad reality…. Like a bad trip… that just won’t end…. Because you were never asleep….
Chronic sleep deprivation is bad enough…. Fatigue…. Malaise…. Feelings of desperation…. Feeling like you desperately need to sleep when you desperately need to work…. Clumsiness…. Stupidness…. A situation closely akin to utter stupidity… but worse…. Far worse….
I’m talkin’ stone-cold stupid…. Extraordinary stupid…. Above and Beyond stupid…. Ordinary stupid would have just spell-checked and been done with it…. But for some… stupid recognizes no bounds…. No rules…. No rights….
So… what’s left…?
Nothing…. Really….
Nothing real anyway….
And… coming to grips nothing but with stupidness is tough enough…. Even when you reach the zone…. That zone…. The zone above and beyond Above and Beyond stupid….
But with acute sleep deprivation… you also have to deal with episodic microsleeps…. You fall asleep… very briefly… but you can’t even recognize that you’re asleep…. Or… were asleep…. Ever so briefly…. And when you wake up…. You don’t remember that you were just asleep…. Absolutely no recall…. So… you have no recourse….
And because sleep deprivation disturbs your mental function… makes your brain slow… makes your brain stupid… you can’t decide what the truth really is…. And that’s a real nightmare….
#
#
So what…?
What’s my point…?
Just this…. I figured out that was what was wrong with Muhammed….
He wasn’t sleeping….
He was afraid to sleep….
Afraid to even crawl into his own Womb….
Of course… like I said before…. I’m not that smart…. I didn’t figure it out… then….
I didn’t figure it out until later…. Much later….
Until it was too late…. Too late to help….
Too late to forestall the events that were just about to happen…. To be precipitated…. To be… constructed…. Fabricated….
But… at least… I did… finally figure it all out…. Most of it at least….
#
Like I said… or at least hinted before….
At first… I thought it was some kind of religious conviction…. I assumed that he must really follow some form of Fundamentalist Islam… even after he had tried to convince me that he wasn’t…. That he was faking….
But… turns out… Mu was not a faqir…. Or a fakir….
But I couldn’t really come up with any other possible valid… rational… reasonable… excuses… or reason… even one I considered to be irrational… but relevant….
I mean… if he had some kind of religious opposition to wet dreams… even really wet dreams… why would he join a mining expedition to a planetesimal or Trans-Neptune Object on the far fringe of the Solar System…?
And… the timing…. I mean… it just makes no sense…. No sense….
And we’ve all been in transit on this ship or some other similar tug for almost five years…. Maybe longer…. And I’ve never seen him look like this in the two years I’ve been sharing the same Galley with him every waking minute of every single day…. Living each day almost attached at the hip like Siamese Twins….
But… what does that matter…?
Matters not at all…. What’s done is done…. And….
Who’s done is done…. Overdone…. Cooked. Toasted. Roasted. Basted. Oven backed. Fried. Over. Done. Just desserts…. And… no do-overs….
Nothing left to do but munch on the cold, stale pizza crusts… the molded remains of your life…. Savor it…. Like your last meal…. While you try to impress yourself with your Monday Morning Shaquille-lacking Quarterbacking….
#
Rhymes with hacking, Buster….
#
Mu was a mechanic. A meddler. A tinker. A tweaker. A refiner. A fine-tuner….
And… a fine man…. Not some religious fundamentalist nut-job…. Like so many would try to have us think…. Try to mentally manipulate all of our minds these days….
My friend Mu… was… at heart… a fixer…. Whatever he saw that seemed broken….
Seems like he was always tearing things down…. Figuring things out…. And putting things back together again….
Things that were old… or worn out… or discarded… or… devalued….
Things that seemed worthless…. Mu saw their value….
Things that were broken… seemingly beyond repair…. Mu took them apart… down to their primary components… and worked on… refined… honed those parts… and repaired the whole…. Put it back in working order…. Seemingly shattered… battered… beaten… broken things…. My put back together… so that they were more beautiful… worked… better than ever…. Beyond their design parameters….
Mu was sharp….
But… the man also had an edge…. A hard edge…. A dark edge…. A sharp edge….
And he walked the razor edge….
But Mu… was… still… sharper….
Sharper than any razor….
Sharper than a laser etched diamond….
Sharper… and darker… than a freshly flaked shard of obsidian….
And… he could be… abrasive….
Aggressive…. Clearly….
Difficult to get along with…. Because… Mu’s a perfectionist….
And… because he couldn’t stand bullshit….
Or… wouldn’t stand bullshit….
Not even sweetly scented… candy coated… bullshit…. The kind that melts in your mouth… not in your hands…. So… your hands don’t get dirty….
Mu didn’t go for fad diets…. He had a discriminating palate…. And… a discriminating nose…. That man could smell bullshit a mile away….
And… Mu… steadfastly… refused to candy-coat the Truth…. As he saw it…. In any form….
Because… he had a religious conviction…. His god valued Truth…. So Mu valued Truth….
So… he was willing to pay the price…. Any price…. For Truth….
And… Truth… like Freedom… always comes at a price….
“For you shall know the Truth…. And the Truth… shall set you free….”
#
I seem to remember someone saying something like that to me. Sometime. Long ago….
But that’s probably just bullshit, too. Or… not.
#
Anyway… I have to admit… sometimes grudgingly… that the man was usually right… about Truth…. And Freedom…. And everything else…. Meaningful…. In life….
Unusually unusually…. Uncanny really…. Unreal….
Disturbing….
Sort of like Nostrodamus…. Without the Mysticism….
Or… Omar Khayyám…. Without the poetic language…. Without the subtlety….
Possessing Truth….
Professing Truth….
A long lineage…. Poets…. Prophets…. Non-profits…. People….
The pure… unmitigated… Truth… seems to disturb a lot of people…. Especially those who profit from untruth…. From deception…. From lies…. From power….
Truth… is disturbing….
Preach it loud enough… and you may shake… the very foundation… of Society….
And… perhaps that’s why… this man… was way out here…. In this ship…. On his way… to the Way Out….
Sentenced… to live out his life… in obscurity… our here… on the Fringe…. In the Way Out….
For wanting to help his fellow man….
For relentlessly seeking Truth….
For relentlessly speaking Truth… in a Relativistic Universe….
And… that cost him….
#
#
Ok. Here’s the deal. The real deal… not some queer deal…. Not some backdoor blogging blah-blah-blah…. Blah-blah…. Blah….
The diagnosis. The dissection. And the synthesis….
Dis’ this….
Some things… you just can’t fix….
Such as stupid…. Just got to accept it. Deal with it.
And other things… they just won’t let you fix….
Who…?
Some dame…. Some dude…. Some people…. Some man….
The man…. Doesn’t matter….
Don’t flatter yourself… Dude….
Just can’t be done….
Just can’t be fixed….
Just gotta accept it….
Even that flaccid, effeminate fem-dom-android, !eM&Me? (pronounced “bang-‘em-and-me?”), copped that… so she/he/it (pronounced “she-he-it”) cashed in… and shut up….
That’s what marks one as a REAL Star…. A RockStar…. A true MonStar….
True Knowledge….
Knowing when to put up…. Knowing when to put out…. Knowing when to suck up…. And… especially… knowing when to shut up….
Suck this, Dreamchild! Dreaming child…. Child of dreams….
WAKE UP!!!
Understand that truth is relative…. Understand what version of truth is currently helpful…. Currently acceptable…. Current…. Can you cope with… can you cop to… Electric TRUTH!!! That… opens the door to everything else… in this State of Altered Reality…. This current Relativistic Universe…. Where the value of everything is relative…. And the Truth… of everything… seems relative….
#
#
Well…. I guess this is the place where I just punt…. My passing game ain’t working…. And I can’t run the ball…. And times running out….
This sure seems like it all took a long time…. But in reality… it sure is taking me a lot longer to tell this tale than it took it all to actually happen…. At least… a lot longer than I remember it all taking to happen…. But… then again… my minds been scrambled…. Just like an Autumnal Humpty Dumpty….
Of course… you never now when a Fall is about to come out here in Space-Time…. Seasons are… different…. More dependent on the man…. And the Company….
Anyway…. Maybe I should just get back to telling ya’ll what happened….
#
And then….
I’m not really sure…. What happened….
I mean… I don’t really know what happened….
I mean… I know that I should know…. But… I don’t…. Know…. And this seems like HUGE cop-out… even to me….
Like you’re almost there…. And then….
BOOM!!!
The kids knock on the door…. Want water or sumpin’….
ANTICLIMAX!!!
I mean… certainly that doesn’t happen out here in Space…. Because of Wombs….
But back on Earth…. Well…. Doesn’t really happen there for most people either…. Clones….
I used to do it to my momma though….
Not THAT!!!
I mean disturb her…. Although… she always pretended that I didn’t…. But… I know I did….
Because I always did it on purpose….
But… I was completely clueless…. Back then….
Still am….
Almost….
Completely….
Clueless….
Almost….
#
#
Okay…. I’m gonna just make a confession….
If this were a story… a novel… and I were a reader… then I would demand my money back… because I would sincerely believe that this was one of those lazy-ass monkey back Deus ex Machina deals… where the author just uses stage props and gadgets to simulate magic…. Like those cheap megapixel CGI graphics movies that were all the rage… when holovids first came out… and everyone was porting those ancient abortions of programs to new platforms… and raving that they really constituted… even defined… art….
Ars Gratia Artis….
Ars Ad Suum Arses….
Whatever it is….
But this is Criminal Proceeding…. A Court of Inquiry…. And I know that you don’t just depend on the veracity of witnesses… like me…. I know that…. The truth of statements drawn from memories… can be tainted…. Opinions… can be perjured…. Supposedly secure data… can be stolen…. Can be… manipulated…. Factual… or even emotional… memories… that can be manufacture…. Even… fraudulently implanted….
I can’t even be sure that the memories I’m attempting to present honest my own recollections…. Not manufactured by someone else…. Not input into my mind from outside… for some devious… nefarious purpose….
I’m embarrassed to say this, but the next thing that I’m sure I remember… is waking up…. Feeling incredibly cold…. Frickin’ freezin’…. And… I seemed to be spinning…. Or… the room seemed to be spinning…. And… I sat… slumped over… in stunned silence…. I thought I was in… some kind of… well… a giant Ice Cream maker…. Something like that….
I was horribly disoriented…. It was horrible…. I know that….
Or… at least… I think I recall that….
No idea where I was… or where I’d been… or how I got there… and no real care… no concern… for any information…. I just wanted to go back to sleep… and for some reason I couldn’t…. And I was nauseated…. At first… I slowly… drowsily… became aware that my head was on my arms…. And that my arms were folded on the table…. And felt like they were asleep…. Heavy…. Detached…. Dissociated….
And then… I noticed… sort of out of the corner of my eye… as if from somewhere outside my own self… my own body… that Mu was groggily attempting to pull himself up off of the floor… in the far corner… over by the whole wall monitor that displayed the vast void of Space surrounding our ship….
Almost immediately… at least it seemed that way… I heard… or rather felt… like a… wild… frenetic whooshing… whirring… sort of… fluttering… noise…. And a plopping… grunting… almost… hurling… puking… sound….
And then… stomping…. Whomping…. Like a Disco….
Dizzying…. Disconcerting…. Dazzling lights….
Then… slowly… a sensation…. Like I yawned…. And my ears popped…. And… they gradually… slowly… in a sort of sick crescendo… started to work…. The spinning galaxy started to right itself…. And… I heard…. Or felt…. Or… sensed…. Like a kind of slow fade in… to a horrendous cacophony…. Klaxons… and buzzers… and shouting… and screaming….
And the air… surrounding me… seemed to get… a little… lighter…. Tighter…. As though the room contracted…. Then expanded….
And then…. I dunno….
Or… maybe that was before…. I dunno….
Even now…. I DON’T KNOW….
And… I know… I should….
#
#
I know I’m screwing this up… but… it’s wicked hard to describe….
Wicked hard to understand….
Wicked hard….
Just hard….
Wicked…. Hard….
Terrible….
Wicked….
Just… wicked….
#
And then… all motion seemed to stop….
Not inside the Galley…. And not inside the ship….
But all around…. In Space…. Or… out in Space….
And it felt… funny….
I felt funny….
Almost… like I started floating…. Almost like gravity stopped…. Very briefly…. Or… some kind of… transition…. To a slightly different gravity….
It’s really hard… to explain… the feeling….
If you’ve never been in transit in Deep Space… you probably can’t understand….
And… then… I felt… what seemed to be… a little push… or a shove…. And then… I felt a little pop… or a click….
That’s what I was trying to explain before…. The sound of hurling…. Or puking…. Or liquid shit hitting the water in the commode with a splash…. Or a gurgle…. A distinctive shitty plop…. That’s what I meant…. A visceral sound…. Felt more than heard….
And then… I noticed the figures appearing… protruding… falling backwards through the diaphragmatic air locks of the bulkheads…. Like I imagine shit emerging…. But… executing a perfect back-roll… over the left shoulder… and onto his feet… in a crouched position… facing the far wall… weapon draw…. Facing Mu….
Or at least that’s how one of the three men did it….
The other two… fumbled… and stumbled… and staggered… and slid… like sit shit hitting the fan and spreading out…. In a puddle…. Those two rolled into the opposite corners as far as possible away from our floridly psychotic engineer…. Falling into clumsy… inglorious… heaps…. Lumps of sick shit…. About as impressive as diarrhea… or projectile vomitus… as they attempted to enter the fracas… gracefully…. Like they’d never trained to move on a ship doing evasive maneuvers….
And that’s sure what seemed to be happening….
#
#
And… I guess that… brings us to this….
I didn’t recall at the time… but have since been told… that they through the whole book at us…. At both of us…. Because they couldn’t be sure I wasn’t complicit…. And they still aren’t…. So… they couldn’t be sure that we wouldn’t be armed… with something… that we might use to try to seize control of the ship….
Now… when I think back… I have to wonder… just how stupid could they be…? It’s a whole lot like worrying about a dog… chasing a car…. What’s the damned dog gonna do with the car once he catches it…? Drive…?
What would Mu and I do with a spaceship…? Where would we go…? Where could we go…? It’s… SPACE!!! And… neither one of us was a pilot….
But… let’s just agree to leave logic and sanity out of this discussion…. For whatever reason… they decided the best thing to do was through the whole tactical book at us…. I guess the felt that we were that threatening…. All that…. And a bag of chips…. Well… make mine buffalo…. Because I’m calling BULLSHIT!!!
#
#
They threw the whole book at us…. The whole… entire… tactical book…. At US!!!
And… think about it…. That must have cost millions….
For dogs…. Damned dogs….
And… that’s when I realized… that we were most certainly damned….
#
#
Funny…. No one’s ever gonna believe me… But… this feels just like I felt when me and Momma went down in that tunnel…. That sewer…. To escape…. After I ate that candy…. Instead of eating the rat that Momma caught and cooked for me….
I guess that’s why the whole idea of nanorobotics inside my brain… makes me… queezy…. Uneasy…. Feel like I wanna puke…. Because I did…. Have a truly visceral response…. Like I was drawn and quartered… and impaled… all at the same time…. Like my intestines were pulled out and burned with hot coals in front of me… while I was being torn apart… and a HUGE pole was shoved up my ass… all at the same time….
Gotta hand it to those medieval fisting winches…. They certainly knew how to tear somebody apart when they tortured them….
But… this all seems… pretty stretchy… etchin’ sketchy… to me… too….
#
#
VII
#
Galley Slaves
#
#

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted– “Open then the Door!
You know how little time we have to stay.
And once departed, may return no more.”

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread– and Thou,
Beside me singing in the Wilderness,
And oh, Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out the same Door as in I went.
#
Omar Khayyám–Ruba’i
Edward FitzGerald–Translator
#
#
Where was I…?
Dazed…. And confused…. For how long…?
I can’t be sure….
What was I talking about…? The Capture…?
I think so….
But… it’s hard to be sure….
Anyway… the two addled ones fiddled and faddled and futzed with their equipment as Security Chief Braxton Hyx first felled Mu with direct Taser hit…. Then… he took him completely out completely…. Put him down for the count like a rabid dog…. Put him out of his misery with a headshot from his Popgun… his MagnetoPulse Neuronal Disrupter…. Just pushed the barrel of his head… charged it up until it was whining like some freakin’ jacked up Jersey Shore bitch… and….
POP!!!
Drop!
Roll.
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour’d it to grow:
And this was the Harvest that I reap’d–
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’t we live and die,
Lift not they to it for help– for it
Rolls impotently on….
Then Mu’s world underwent what I guess as Thou and I could best categorize as a Braxton Hyx contraction…. As his world drew in tight around him…..
The ever-profession Security Chief moved forward to secure the slobbering Persian’s cooperation with as much safety for all parties as possible… as the now wall-eyed man frantically flopped and fell around the spinning wall of the Galley like a freshly caught fish on tumbling ice….
But… why not me…?
I guess… they had… other plans…. Other orders…. Other… secret… desires….
#
#
Anyway…. That’s about when they hauled us out…. Feet first…. Or hauled him out… feet first… rather…. Mu….
Wasn’t my time yet….
I still had to meet with the Princess of Darkness….
The Whore of Babylon… as Muhammed proclaimed her….
The Quintessential Harlot….
My Ex-wife….
To discuss… things….
How did I know…? I knew….
It wasn’t some mystical… magical… thing….
It was visceral…. I felt it…. Inside….
I felt a little… nudge…. A little… push…. A subtle… shove…. A little… snap…. Heard… a crackle…. Felt… a pop….
Like my spine being… snapped…. On the Rack…. My mind… being… broken…. On the Wheel…. My very being… being manipulated…. Like pricking pins stabbed into a Voodoo doll…. At will…. Just like… Old Times…. Medieval tortures…. Modernized…. Mechanized…. Miniaturized….
And… at that very moment… I felt that faint… but somehow… familiar…. Far distant… yet… distinct… connection….
And… I knew…. For sure…. It wouldn’t be long….
Before the fun began…. Before the Game began….
The real Mind Game….
Because the real… Professional… Play-YAH had just arrived….
Still… I realized I had a few minutes…. To anticipate…. How much I was about to be screwed….
#
#
Like I said before…. They threw the whole tactical book at us….
After careful consideration… my question is…. Why…? What did the reasonably think we would do…? Where did they rationally think we would go…?
But… your question is probably quite a bit different…. Something like….
What’s the whole tactical book…?
First… they used MELiSSA to fuck us… and OH-SNAP to put us to sleep…. Then they just used gravity and gravity assist maneuvers to beat the shit out us…. And then it was just a matter of zapping us… shooting us in the head… wrapping us up…. shooting us up… and sliding us into Special Purpose Security Pods for transport (SPSP-Ts)…. And… maintenance….
A brilliant strategy, actually…. I have to commend whoever thought up that one…. First… they chilled the room just a bit… or… more likely… just turned down the thermostat on the Temperature Control System so that our core temperature dropped to just above 330C…. Actually… I guess they really didn’t have to do much…. They probably just turned off the heat exchangers… let the room temperature drift down… to equilibrate with the void of Space…. Let me give you a hint…. The temperature outside wasn’t much higher than that of the Cosmic Background Radiation… which hovers around a balmy 2.70K…. I figure somewhere around 5-250K…. So… to keep from killing us… Snap-freezing us… they had to have used their friggin’ nanorobotics that they’d friggin’ infested us with… that monitor our vital signs and electrolyte and various gas levels… to monitor our core temps… and form a servo-control loop with the TCS of the ECS…. Meanwhile they simultaneously programmed the OH-SNAP to generate Nitrous oxide and Xenon… which routed through the vents via the Life Support System…. Nitrous oxide makes you giddy…. And Xenon makes you sleep…. And… it’s a Neuroprotectant…. Just like the cold…. BONUS!!! After the Space Suits of the three men involved in the Security detail were securely fasten to the bulkheads… the hit the brakes… to kill the artificial gravity… and through us around… so we would be beat up and dizzy… while they purged the volatile anesthetics out of the atmosphere and flushed the room with Nitrox… so the Security Team wouldn’t be sedated, too…. Then… they used the flashing lights and noise to further disorient us before they hit us with Tasers and Electromagnetic pulse generators to temporarily disrupt our neural circuitry…. Then they just went with the old standbys for treating Psychotics…. Straight jackets and major tranquilizers….
Now… I respect the Hell out of Security Chief Braxton Hyx. No real reason to throw him under the bus. And back back over him. And drive forward. And backwards. A few times…. That man’s a consummate professional. Always has been.
Now… I respect him even more…. Because he did what he knew he needed to do… at a critical moment… for all concerned…. He did his duty…. Above…. And beyond…. In that brief moment of lucidity… when I coming out of the anesthesia… and the ship was accelerating again to provide gravity for the three men tumbling through the door could see it written all over his face… in retrospect… that he really didn’t want to be there…. In that situation…. Doing that…. To his fellow man…. To his friend…. But I could also read his eyes… that he wasn’t going to let that stand in his way…. He wasn’t going to let that stop him from executing his duty…. To Protect…. And… to Serve…. I could see in his eyes… that he had signed up for the job…. And he was going to see this through…. He had taken the Company’s money…. And he was going to see that this job was done RIGHT!!! No matter who happened to be on the other end of his application of justice….
The Doc…. Well… I could see from his face that he really didn’t care if he were there or not…. Not in that room…. Not on that ship…. And not even in that Universe…. And he didn’t really care anything about duty…. I could see by his slack jaw… by the dark circles and bright red lines in his muddy sclera… that he’d much rather be somewhere else… shooting drugs into some other subject…. Namely… himself…. And his shaking hands showed that delivering this shot was the only thing standing between him… and shooting himself up with his next fix…. And that was where his focus seemed fixated…. But… if you need a man who knows drugs…? Then Doc’s your man…. Because that man knows drugs…. He just walked over to the machine and said what he wanted…. Like he’d feel comfortable walking up to the slot in a Crack House door and placing his order…. Just like he was ordering junk food for a case of the munchies…. Just like that…. And when he walked and over… and put the injector against Mu’s neck… and squeezed that trigger… it looked like it was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life…. Giving good drugs… to someone else…. I guess he looked the same way when he shot me up…. But I didn’t see it…. He sneaked up behind me…. And I don’t remember anything after that….
The only one who really showed any the most cursory enthusiasm… the only man who seemed like he really wanted to be there… was the Purser…. And his smiling lips were spread as wide as a whore’s legs… showing his toothiest… most exuberant… flashiest… tastiest… shit-eating grin…. He almost looked high…. Higher even than Doc…. Like he’d just tasted some good shit…!
And maybe this was a high for him…. An opportunity to exert the full extent of his power…. Since I was momentarily incapacitated…. And would very soon be relieved of command…. Lose all authority…. And… he was certainly bucking for a promotion…. Kicking…. Like a mule kicking in its stall….
#
#
Please let me take a minute to talk about Ronal Asher ben Judah…. Because… I think it might help you understand a few things about the Company…. And the men they employ….
That man… this man… and I use that word “man” loosely… was… an… enigma….
Sometime… he was a tool…. A wedge…. Man’s simplest tool….
Sometimes he was a fool…. But not just any old fool…. He was always a fucking purposeful fool…. A fool with a purpose…. To fuck…. Someone…. Anyone…. Everyone…. His boss told him to fuck….
And sometimes… he acted like he was… some kind of… gleaming gay blade….
Sometimes… he seemed like a snake…. But mostly… he reminded me of a weasel….
How do I describe him…? In some… meaningful… understandable way…? Objectively….
If Ronal were a drink…? Well…. Honestly…?
Vodka and orange juice make a screwdriver…. And that’s close…. Ronal did love to screw people…. He was certainly vindictive little sycophant…. But he sucked up too much to really be a screwdriver…. Ronal was darker…. More sinister…. Less sweet…. Served a… darker… more sinister… but still necessary purpose….
I see Ronal Asher ben Judah as being more like vodka and prune juice…. More of a Piledriver….
More of a shit stirrer….
More of a… character assassin….
Not so much a Trader… as a Traitor…. A treacherous traitor….
Kind of the Space-Time equivalent of a Bent-dick Arnold Schwartz…. That pompous-assed Patriot who bent over for the British… and took one for the other team…. And… loved it….
Like his namesake… Asher… who sold his brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt… because he was jealous….
Some kind of massive… misshapen… prick….
By choice….
But more than anything or anyone else… he reminded me of the Biblical account of Judas…. Iscariot…. The man who controlled held the purse strings for the Bank of Jesus Christ…. Starting near the banks of the Jordan…. And ending outside the Garden of Gethsemane… on the Mount of Olives… overlooking the Temple Mound…. Close to where the Pinnacle of the Temple stood, apparently….
One man… betrayed… with a kiss….
Judas was apparently more concerned with money… with power… with position… with prostitution… than he was about Salvation…. He wanted to make sure he got his in the Here-and-NOW!!! He didn’t want to wait for some pie-in-the-sky in the Great Beyond….
Because he didn’t believe….
In that….
Apparently….
He didn’t… buy in….
Judas Iscariot… lacked Faith….
Some scholars have suggested that Judas Iscariot… really should be translated Yehuda Sicarius…. That the man we remember as the Purser for the Apostles…. The man we revile as the Pawn of Satan… who treacherously sold our Savior… to his death… was really a member of the Sicarii… or Dagger Men…. A extremist splinter group of Jewish Zealots… determined that the Messiah’s purpose was to bring about a heaven here on Earth…. Establish a temporal Kingdom of the Jews…. A Sect of Assassins… who slew with flame… or serpent-shaped daggers… to destabilize the empires of those they considered enemies…. To bring about political change…. In their own lifetime….
Now…. Do I think Ronal Asher ben Judah is really like that…?
Yes….
And… no….
First… I don’t think he would actually have the guts…. To come out…. Take a stand…. Confront….
Because he has the heart of a weasel… not the heart of a lion… or even the heart of a wolf… who leads a group… a family… in overwhelming attack… with overwhelming numbers…. Or… wears down a weaker enemy…. Ronal is more like a cock-leech…. He finds a cock he likes… gets a good lip lock on it… and hangs on… for as long as he can….
Second… now weak sycophants like him have much more subtle methods….
You don't need the bullet when you've got the ballot….
And you don't need the ballot when you own the government outright….
Lock. Stock. And barrel.
Yep…. Politics makes strange bedfellows….
Different animals…. Breeding different animals….
And… even animals… didn’t used to breed like that….
#
But… we were talking about power…. And politics…. And money….
And… the historical Judas Iscariot….
Judas Iscariot took the 30 pieces of silver from the Chief Priest, Joseph ben Caiaphas, sometime the day before he celebrated the Passover meal with Jesus and the other Disciples…. The Last Supper…. And then… Jesus Christ sent him out… to betray him…. And he did….
But then… Judas apparently realized what he had done… at least in part… and had some sort of seller’s remorse…. Caveat vendor…. So… he took the 30 pieces of silver… the statutory price for selling a slave… and bought a Potter’s Field… filled with red clay… called Akeldema….
Akeldema. Aramaic. Meaning “Field of Blood”….
The Potter’s Field…. That Judas purchased… with his blood money…. The Thirty Pieces of Silver…. The Slave Price….
Akeldama…. The place where Judas Iscariot… hanged himself…. The place where his abdomen split open… and his intestines spilled out….
Akeldama lies on a narrow, level terrace… sitting on the South face… of the Valley of Hinnom…. The Valley of Gehenna…. Or Hell…. Where the stinking refuse of the City of Jerusalem… the City of Peace… burned day… and night… in unquenchable fire….
“Curse is he who hangs upon a tree….”
Cursed, indeed….
But… before we leave Akeldama… let’s fast forward a little over a Millennium… to the Crusades…. To the place where the Knights of Saint John Hospitallier… buried the poor… dead… travelers… who died in their Hospital… every day…. Those who didn’t have money… to buy their own grave….
Who has that kind of money these days…?
Out here…. In Space….
Out here…. In the Way Out….
I don’t know…. Certainly… not I….
#
One more thing about the legend of Judas Iscariot…. Maybe two…. Or even three….
The hanged man…. Reminds me of the Hanging Man….
The Twelfth Trump or Major Arcana card in a Tarot deck…. The Hanging Man isn’t dead…. He’s hanging… suspended… between life… and death…. The gallows is really a Tau cross…. And… the wood… it’s alive…. A living tree…. And the Hanging Man’s legs… form a sort of fylfot cross…. And… there’s a nimbus around his head…. Like he’s some kind of freakin’ Martyr….
The Hanging Man…. Hanging…. Between life and death…. Between the Universe… and the Divine….
A card of prudence… if not jurisprudence…. A card of duty….
A card commending… the Great Work…. The Magnum Opus….
Of Hermeticism….
Of Gnosticism….
Of The Illuminati….
And… of Baphomet….
And that… brings us back… full circle… to the Temple Mound…. To the Temple Stables…. And to the Templars…. And to their connection to their mortal enemies… the Hospitaliers….
The Knights of Saint John Hospitalier accused the Templars… of holding the salted head… the assaulted… the severed head of Saint John the Baptizer… in a secret cave… beneath the Complex of their order on the Temple Mound…. They further accused the Templars of worshiping the accursed head of Baphomet….
I guess the head must be the key… to some great mystery…. Or not….
I mean… some scholars… or fruitcakes… claimed that the Templars Complex connected clandestinely with the Bir al-Ahwah… the Cave of Spirits… the Well of Souls… that penetrates the Foundation Stone from whence Mohammed is believed to have ascended up to heaven… hidden beneath the al-Aqsa Mosque… the Dome of the Rock….
The reputed hiding place of Ārôn Habbərît… or the Ark of the Covenant… or the Ark of Testimony….
If it’s not really the Tabot… secreted away in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum….
Anyway…. What’s the story so far…?
Satan worship….
And worse…. Collusion with the enemy….
Islam….
Unbelievable…. Unless… politically convenient…. Because it gave a legitimate way for the crowned heads of Europe to forego paying back their loans… without offending the Church of Rome…. And… it gave the Church… a way… to grab power… prestige… property… and money… as well….
All in the name of God….
A wanton redistribution of wealth….
A predatory preexistential Pogromnacht….
A Kristalnacht…. Worse….
A Final Solution….
So… of course… they jumped on it….
Don’t people always feel entitled to what other people have slaved for…? Especially if they get to kill them, too…?
Might as well dispense with all of the Ten Commandments at once…. Especially if you can get some kind of Papal Dispensation…. Or indulgence….
All that… and a bag of chips…. With the Pope’s face emblazoned across it…. For a price….
The price of your soul….
Oh! JUBILEE!!!
And… the supposedly suddenly saintly Knights of Saint John Hospitalier made these horrible allegations… for what…? Retribution…? Or… Hubris…. Overweening pride…. And greed…. In order to steal the political power…. Steal the papal prestige…. Steal the money…. Of their arch-rivals…. In order to discredit them…. In order to decimate… to slay them…. So… they drove them into hiding….
But… who were really the Gnostics…? The Aliens… hell-bent on controlling the lives of all humanity…? The Illuminati…? The ones who actually had knowledge of Baphomet…? Of Demons…? Of D-men…?
The Damned…? Or… the Damning…. Who lived…. Who prospered….
Makes me wonder…. Who the enemy really is…. Really….
I mean… Satan stood atop the Pinnacle of the Temple when he tried to tempt Jesus Christ into jumping down… so he would be saved by Angels…. Tried to trick him into revealing who he was… before his appointed time….
I mean… Jesus really wasn’t in any danger…. Not then….
Why…? What was he doing…? Then….
Ever wonder…? Why…?
#
#
So… I kept crawling around… for the longest time… looking for some symbol…. Some sign….
For a circle… inside a triangle… with a 999… or a 666… inside….
Something….
Somewhere….
Subtle….
Hidden….
Occult….
But… I never saw… not even one….
#
#
Anyway…. Wrapping up….
Ronal Asher Ashwhole… and I do mean whole… probably wasn’t the worst of them…. Not by a long shot…. Not by a cum shot…. Just the most obvious…. The densest…. The Wedge…. The simplest tool…. But he was still a prick….
#
#
Maybe you’re wondering why I even bring that up….
Because I was thinking about it…. And… because I’m angry…. And… because I’m confused…. Trying to figure things out…. Make some freakin’ sense of the evidence….
I mean… they could’ve killed us at any moment… right…?
But… they didn’t…. They waited….
At least… they waited… to kill Mu….
Cold-hearted….
In cold blood….
Cold…. Frozen….
So…. Why did they wait…. Why didn’t they just do it…?
Do us…?
Do me…?
I don’t know…. Maybe they’re just waiting… until some nebulous… convenient… time… to kill me, too…. Ice me…. Put me away in cold storage….
Or… maybe it was something else….
Maybe they were trying to find out… something….
I don’t know…. Maybe that’s part of their torture…. The TERROR!!! Of not… knowing…. If…. When…. The power… of un…. Knowing….
#
#
The cloud… of Unknowing…. Bothered me….
I tried to reason it out…. But… I couldn’t….
I was lost…. And… I was damned…. And I was damned lost. And I knew I was damned lost…. If I didn’t do something…. Soon….
But… my Salvation… was beyond my control…. Beyond my own power…. Beyond my own reach….
And then it occurred to me…. There are only three areas of the ship with atmosphere. The Galley. The Bridge. And the Officers Mess.
And if Mu wasn’t in the Galley… and he wasn’t sleeping… when he wasn’t sleeping…. Well… he certainly wasn’t in either of the other two places….
And if he were in his Womb… like he was supposed to be… he was asleep…. Or sedated…. And he would be…. For sure….
But… he had to be someplace…. The Laws of Physics stated that…. Logically… even considering the vicissitudes of Herr Professor Schrödinger’s equation… and the paradoxes inherent in Herr Professor Einstein’s presentation of the Event Horizon… Mu almost certainly was still somewhere aboard the ship….
So… if he wasn’t in the Galley…. (I know now that the evidence… from his suit… from the ship… from the System… all say that he was in the Galley… with me. But I know I was…. And I know he wasn’t…. And I know I’m sure…. So… something’s messed up…!) And he wasn’t in his Womb…. Where could he be…?
Well… of course… like they told me… “we have ways of making men talk”…. Or at least “they”… the Company… the government… those nebulous men… those nefarious women… who have no qualms about invading our privacy… invading our minds… have ways… of knowing…. Of constructing…. Truth…. Because everything is monitored…. Everything is tracked…. Everything is logged…. Automatically…. Almost infallibly…. Almost perfectly…. Almost….
The only exception… the only escape… the only “Freedom”… is in the Galley…. And even that has monitors….
“For our health”… I’m sure….
So… even that “Freedom”… is simply a well calculated illusion…. A deception…. A trap….
I mean… the Onboard Holistic Synthetic Nutrition Analyzer and Processor (or OH-SNAP, for short…) recognizes your metabolism and chemical structure and works with the analysis apparatus within each individual Womb to make sure each person maintains specific parameters determined specifically for that specific individual based on their own specific needs at that very specific moment….
And… that giant viewscreen… actually that interactive holographic display that adjust to the precise position of each individual in the room and displays their unique pre-sets… adjust everything they need displayed for their position in the room… their position in the hierarchy… their job requirements… and their security status… and responds immediately to each individuals expressed desires… is in reality a multidirectional interface… receiving and displaying information in real time…. And certainly recording and sending the information it receives… it perceives… instantaneously… to the System… through Quantum Entangled connections….
The MELiSSA (or Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) and other multiply redundant ECLSSs (Environmental Control and Life Support Systems) closely monitor skin temperature and ambient temperature and perspiration and relative humidity and partial pressures of oxygen and carbon dioxide and all of the other components of the ship’s atmosphere and calculate metabolism and lean body mass by determining each person’s acceleration and friction against the surface of the floor covering… correcting for the angular momentum and acceleration… etc…. Etc…. Etc….
Anyway…. Each individual is different…. Distinct…. Distinctive…. And none of us on board this ship are even very similar….
#
So… the computer… the ship… the System… making a mistake… about someone being in the Galley… when he was someplace else… would be hard… if not impossible….
To believe….
To be True….
Of course… Truth… and Perception… or… belief… are different beasts…. Different species…. Different genera…. Different phyla…. Different kingdom…. Different Universe…. Definitely no necessary relationship can be defined… no matter what hypotheses might be proposed….
#
So… I guess maybe all that money my momma invested in a Seminary education… all that Reformed Theology…. Formerly Reformed…. Before it moved over to the Ivy League…. Secularized…. I guess… maybe it wasn’t all really completely wasted after all…. Not completely, anyway….
Philosophically… if not Theologically….
#
Besides… the only time… and the only places… that any man or woman can be out of their Hard Vacuum Space Suit at all… is when they are either in their Womb… or in the Galley…. Even if they are a pilot…. And each Space Suit is individually and specifically tuned to each individual Astronaut…. As is each Womb…. And both are constantly monitored…. Vital signs…. Artificial atmosphere…. Hydration level…. Nutrition level…. Activity level…. Mental activity…. And any connection with either an Astronaut’s Womb… or the Galley… or any other such entity anywhere else in Space-Time… is recorded… and the information is immediately shared… System-wide…. Such as at the instant any man’s Suit and his specially programmed Bulkhead to the Galley are docked…. Automatically…. And constantly thereafter…. Until a disconnection occurs…. Via a very secure… very complex… quantum entangled… handshake protocol….
So… the System… knew where Mu was…. Knew what he was doing…. Knew when he doing it…. Knew where he was doing it…. And… probably even knew what he was thinking while he was doing it….
But… if Mu figured out a way to slip all that security…. And… if he wasn’t in his Womb…. And… if he wasn’t in the Galley…. Then… the System would probably assume that he was up to some sort of No Good…. Or Not Good…. And that’s definitely NOT GOOD….
But… that’s a lot of if’s…. A lot of ands…. And a lot of really big but… but… butts….
#
#
And speaking of butts….
Twat a coincidence!
#
So… I’ve already told you that I felt the hook-up…. The coupling…. The docking of her ship….
So… I really wasn’t surprised when I saw her stick her sweet ass through the diaphragmatic device that functioned as the seal to the airlock on the Bulkhead of the Galley….
Wasn’t the least bit surprised when I felt… or smelt… that rush of moist… hot air…. And… the smell… of fresh-cut roses….
And… I guess I knew what was coming next….
And I knew… I was fucked….
She didn’t waste much time with foreplay…. But she never did…. That’s just not her way…. She just got busy…. Got down….
Go down….
Throw down….
Started pumping away….
Started pimping away….
Old School….
I’ve already given you the gist…. The jizz…. All that jazz….
Not all I guess….
So… here’s the rest….
I just shot my load… just like I’ve already told ya….
So… I guess… I’ll just pick up where I left off…. HA!
#
#
Mu lifted his head and smiled slightly as the drugs kicked in his head. His blank face lolled on his chest as the three men forced his arms into the sleeves of that gleaming white vestment… buckled the shining silver straps along the back of the straightjacket.
Momentarily… he looked like some kind of high priest praying to the Supreme Being of the Universe…. Maybe he was….
Then the man lifted his head for the briefest moment…. A serene smile spread across his face like some aberrant excitatory electrical discharge…. And… a glint of deep understanding flashed across his face… reflecting the light of cognition… of recognition… from his cornea…. A feeling of profound connection formed spontaneously in my mind… as his lips carefully formed two words….
#
But… I’m a Linguist…. Not a lip reader….
And I couldn’t make it out…. Not clearly….
Looked like…. Maybe….
Hacked….
And…. Maybe….
System….
#
Then… I understood….
That is all… just a Ghost story…. Tenuously connecting Past… Present… and perhaps… Future….
Who knows…?
We humans seem to have lost our way…. And we seem to have lost our understanding of the sanctity… the sacredness… of life….
#
#
FINIS….
Hypertext Cache
#
#
Hypertext 0: Omar Khayyám. Historical Vignette.
Omar Khayyám- was known as a falsafī , meaning one who wished "to know who I am". The word is related to Greek work “philosophy”, or “lover of wisdom”. He was labeled "detached from divine blessings" but some Islamic salafist. Omar Khayyám commented on a disagreement between Avicenna & Abu'l-Barakát al-Baghdādī suggesting that if the later "does not even understand the sense of the words of Avicenna, how can he oppose what he does not know?"
A Rubáiyá is a quatrain, or four lined poem, of which the first, second and fourth lines rhyme. The Rubáiyát is a collection of quatrains, the majority of which are considered to be the work of one man, Omar Khayyám. The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám has been characterized as “sublime sufisms denigrated to blasphemous words through the stumbling translation of FitzGerald”. Some have complained that FitzGerald badly missed the spirit of the works in his over zealous attempts to versify.
Omar Khayyám, or literally, Omar the Tent-maker was a very famous Mathematician, Philosopher, Poet and Adviser to Seljuk Malik Shah I. Omar Khayyám went on Hajj after Seljuk Malik Shah I killed (presumably by Assassins of Hassan-i-Sabah, the Old Man of the Mountain, ostensibly to gain political and religious freedom for Shi’ite Muslims under an “oppressive” Sunni government…).
Omar Khayyám and the legendary physician, Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna were both believed to be in Isfahan… possibly contemporaneously… so each may have known… interacted… influenced… the other….
Omar Khayyám’s commentary on Al-Khutbat al-gharrá or The Splendid Sermon on the praise of God agrees with Avicenna on Divine Unity and describes the Sufi methodology of knowing God. “Sufis, who do not seek knowledge by ratiocination or discursive thinking, but by purgation of their inner being and purifying of their dispositions. They cleanse the rational soul of the impurities of nature and bodily form, until it becomes pure substance. When it then comes face to face with the spiritual world, the forms of that world become reflected in it, without any doubt or ambiguity. This is the best of all ways, because it is known to the servant of God that there is no better than the Divine Presence and in that state there are no obstacles or veils in between. Whatever man lacks is due to the impurity of his nature. If the veil be lifted and the screen and obstacle removed, the truth of things as they are will become manifest and known. And the Master of creatures–upon whom be peace–indicated this when he said: “Truly, during the days of your existence, inspirations come from God. Do you not want to follow them?” Tell unto reasoners that, for the lovers of God, intuition is guide, not discursive thought.
#
#
Hypertext 1: The Bridge. Page 11.
The Bridge is different from the rest of the ship. Especially the Galley… or Commons. The Commons is the Common Workspace… and essentially the only available playspace for passengers. Of course, the Ship’s Officers had their own playspace, separate from the passengers; they had the Officer’s Mess, which was essentially similar, though more elaborate. More comfortable. Relatively more spacious because there were usually fewer people crammed into the same absolute volume. And it was in Crew Quarters, which was closer to the essential functions of the ship.
The Bridge was off limits to passengers.
The Bridge was a workspace.
The Bridge was a temple.
The Bridge was sacrosanct.
Only the Captain and the Ship’s Officers were ever allowed into the extremely cramped quarters of the Bridge, which was completely carpeted wall-to-wall with Command Couches, except for the space occupied by robots… and navigational computers… and quantum entangled interfaces… and other necessary equipment…. The Bridge itself was essentially one… organic… Quantum Computer… integrally connected to the rest of the known Universe through the Mysteries of the System….
And the Bridge was noisy.
A droning… seemingly continuous chatter… whose level only rose or fell… but never completely ceased…. There was never complete silence on the Bridge.
The Bridge was completely dark, except for the flashing lights on the panels and the innumerable screens displaying charts and maps and streaming data. Projections. Reports. Logs. Any and all necessary information.
#
#
Hypertext 2: The Galley–Seating Arrangement.
The cramped quarters forced people to sit face to face….
Tête-à-tête….
The room was set up to break down individuality….
To break up cliques….
To promote Team Building….
To facilitate communication….
And to monitor communications….
Decrease the overwhelming isolation.
Help alleviate the feelings of solitude… or loneliness… that always seem inevitable on long Space flights. A communal area to spend a little time… Outside….
Outside of work….
Outside the norm….
Outside the Womb….
#
#
Hypertext 3: The Galley–Communications.
The Galley or Common is considered an integral part of the Inn: that area of the ship designated to accommodate passengers during their long trek through Space. The tiny little non-essential portion of the ship where non-essential personnel could hang out during the months or years they would be together… traveling to and from their ultimate destinations.
Outside the cozy confines of the Galley… (or Common, as it is often called… because that space constitutes the Common Workspace) all conversations must be routed through the Communications Headsets (another ancient moniker) installed in the suits or the Communications Systems integrated into the Cerebral Monitoring Units of the Womb Computer Analysis and… which were routed through the Central Computers that constitute The System… so those transmissions were certainly monitored….
(Unless you just happen to be one of the Chips. The Elite. A Cyborg. Then you have chipsets surgically implanted to monitor and maintain vital functions… and most Cyborgs out in Space seem to have some sort of special Comm chips….
Of course… they also tend to have a chip on their shoulders, too. Because almost all of them started out little Vats….
Mutants….
Me-too-ants….
Clones….
Cloned… but not forgotten….
Expensive… Elite… jacked-up clones….
Special clones….
Not worker bees….
But not Breeders, eithers….)
Makes sense…. The Company wants to know if someone may be planning something…. Or… if someone may just be going CRAZY!!! After all… that’s why NASA established protocols to handle such things in the constricting confines of Space way back when that seriously deranged Space Biddy put on her Depends and trucked clear across the country to try to murder her rival in some sordid extraterrestrial ménage a trois… Rocky Raccoon-style….
#
#
Hypertext 4: Historical Vignette: Sanitation in Space. How the Word Got Out….
They tried to hush up the whole deplorable thing.
Didn’t work….
Hit the headlines….
And hit ‘em hard….
A real head case….
And a real hard case….
They all hit the road… high-tailin’ it to Splitsville….
He got divorced….
She got prison….
And NASA got screwed…. Just not in a good way….
NASA lost face… and a whole lot of money….
Bad deal all around….
Resulted in a grand reduction. She got a reduced sentence. He got reduced rank and eventually got shit-canned. And… NASA got reduced appropriations for covering up inappropriate fraternization.
Whole affair reduced to ménage a <3.
Any way… my point is simply this: Anal Retentive people tend to get a bit emotionally… constipated. And… Deep Space is dangerous place for someone to suddenly get a case of emotional diarrhea.
Oh…. And… now Space Rangers don’t need to wear diapers to contain our urges: at least not our urges to blow and go. Now… you just go with the flow….
And the suit recycles all the shit.
Liquids.
Solids.
And everything in between….
Between the sheets….
Between the cheeks….
The suit….
And the Womb….
Or the Egg….
Scoop all that shit up…. And recycle it….
Refuse…. For continued human use….
Everything….
Sweet…. And salty…. And everything in between….
But more on that later….
But for now… more on that moron….
Well… just slap me and call me Spunky Monkey-face…. Thinks like that stick with you tighter than Cheez Whiz, Space Fizz and Ape Jizz, don’t they…?
#
#
Hypertext 5: Simulated Sleep Cycles.
For example… Rapid Eye Movement… or Stage Five Sleep… is augmented…. So… dreams occur…. Are actually induced…. Produced…. Like movies…. Because they are movies…. Programs…. Written to program…. Men’s minds…. To probe…. To query…. And to implant… suggestions…. To control men’s minds….
#
#
Hypertext 6: Book of Daniel, Chapter 5.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
Book of Daniel, Chapter 5. Written on the wall of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by a disembodied hand at drunken feast hosted by Babylonian King Belshazzar profaning the sacred gold and silver vessels from Solomon’s Temple to praise “the gods of gold and silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone”. The words are Aramaic names for currency: Mene=mina (count), Tekel=shekel (weigh), Peres=half-mina (divided, Persia) and also may suggest certain aspects of Kabbalistic Hebrew Numerology and Magic.
#
#
Hypertext 7: Kabbalistic Hebrew Numerology and Magic.
Gematria: using Hebrew or Aramaic letters numerologically to calculate values… like Chai (life)=18 which is considered a lucky number….
Temurah: method of rearranging letters to give different meaning to words by Kabbalists Atbash: replacing first letter of alphabet with last. Avgad: replacing letter with preceding. Albam: replacing first letter w/ twelfth, etc.
Notarikon: creating words using acronyms of first or last letters. Was used in Kabbala and Alchemy. Agla= Atah Gibor Le-olam Adonai “You, O Lord, are mighty forever.” Malachim created from wind and fine and enlightening air. Genesis 6:2 The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. (Nephilim).
#
#
Hypertext 7:
Initially… I must admit… my life passed before my eyes, but my fears were unfounded. I miss-recollected. Not a known associate of well-known academic and philosopher, Hassan-i-Sabah, the Old Man of the Mountain, like the famous poet of love, Omar Khayyam. I mistakenly confused Isfahan. for Alamut. But the inspiration for the religious events recounted in the tales was different. And I was mistaken in my fear. Still… I find the ironic intercession… the intertwining of drugs and dreams in a desert tale… delicious…. Sweet as cakes of pressed figs and dates sweetened with honey. But this desert dream, while filled to overflowing with passion, was certainly devoid of the flowers of maiden hood… the last vestiges of virginity long lost….
#
#
Hypertext 8: Vishtaspa. Page 24.
Vishtaspa: “kavi” poet/priest/prophet Magi. Hero in Zoroastrian tradition. Abominable villain in Sistan heroic cycle. Mage/Prophet in Greco-Roman and Christian thought as “Hystaspes”, inventor of Astrology, predicted fall of Rome and coming Savior… and legendary creator of the seven day week… reflecting the number of known planets at the time….
#
Hypertext 9: Zoroasterstrianism.
Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) was a legendary prophet who categorized the human condition as a struggle between aša (truth) and druj (lie). The Supreme Being in the concept of Zoroaster is Ahura Masda… who is the Avatar or manifestation of aša… creation, existence and condition of Free Will. Purpose of mankind is to sustain aša through active participation in life and exercise of constructive thoughts, words and deeds.
Ahura Mazda was proclaimed by Zarathustra as an uncreated god. Ahura means “light” and Mazda means “wisdom”, thus Lord of Light and Wisdom. Creator and upholder of Arta or Truth. Omniscient and omnipotent. Created Angra Mainyu, the “evil spirit” who created evil and will be destroyed.
#
Ahura Mazda was invoked in a triad with Mithra and Apam Napat after Artaxerxes II.
#
Judas Iscariot… Who some say meant Yehuda Sicarius… Men who kill with serpent-shaped daggers to destabilize empires and bring about political change. Now we have much more subtle methods. You don't need the bullet when you've got the ballot. And you don't need the ballot when you own the government outright. Lock. Stock. And barrel.
Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna.
Templars. Bahomet. Head of Saint John the Baptizer.
Enemy Knights of Saint John Hospitalier.
Severed head the key….
The Hanged Man
Thirty pieces of silver. Potter’s Field. Red clay. Akeldema. Place where dead from Hospital of Saint John buried daily.
The Roman Emperor and military was heavily influenced by a Mystery Cult that developed outPinnacle of the Zoroastrian concepts of Mithra. The concept of “Truth” as being the supreme virtue morphs. Mithra becomes the angelic divinity of covenant and oath. A judicial figure. All-seeing Protector of Truth. Thousand ears. Myriad eyes. Who sleeps not: ever wakeful.Temple
#
Roman Mithraic Mysteries: god of morning sun who slew primeval bull. Seven grades of initiation with ritual meals, seven planets/gods. Initiates are referred to as Syndexioi–“unite by the handshake”. Mithric mythological images: born from rock, slaughtered bull (tauroctony), shared banquet with Sol.
#
#
Hypertext 10: Babylonian Whore. Page 36.
Angra Mainyu: mainyu “mind, mentality, spirit” angra “destructive, inhibitive, malign” thus absolute antithesis.
Daevas aka mainyu “evil spirit, mind, thought” that deceive themselves and humankind. Later become demons. Daevas offspring of achistem manah “worst thinking” or deceit.
Ahriman cannot create life without intervention, so creates Jahi, the primal whore who afflicts women with menstrual cycles.
#
#
Hypertext 11. Succubus. Page 36.
According to the Zohar, succubi are the descendents of Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Lilith was born on the same day (Rosh Hashanah) and from the same Earth as Adam (whereas Eve was formed by God from Adam’s rib). Lilith left Adam because she refused to be subservient to him. She refused to return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with the Archangel Samae. Lilith and three other succubi became the queens of the demons. The other three bore human children, but Lilith bore the Lilin: night spirits who invade men’s dreams to steal semen. A succubus takes the form of beautiful young girls in order to sneak into men’s dreams and have sexual relations in order to obtain semen to beget more night demons; however, discerning men can tell their true identity because they have sharp claws or talons. She may also possess wings. Lilith was first mentioned in Isaiah 34:14.
#
#
Hypertext 12: Wajib al-Wujud.
Wajib al-Wujud describes the absolute and nondelimited reality of God, the “Necessary Being” that cannot exist on highest level…. The only reality that is really totally real in reality…. On lower levels… it represents everything outside of God… or the Cosmos….
#
Wahdat al-Wujūd describes a similar idea. A literal translation of the phrase is “Unity of Existence”. The concept stems from the work of Ibn Arabi, though he never actually used the phrase. His view was that Wujūd is the unknowable… the inaccessible ground that God alone inhabits. Only God can truly exist. All Creation exists only because of God. Only God is absolute, infinite, nondelimited (mutlaq). All Creation is constrained, confined and constricted. “Oneness of Being” is an incomplete concept that must be augmented and integrated with the idea of the “manyness of reality”.
#
Wahdat al-Shuhud means “Unity of Witness” or “Apparentism” and is the seemingly contradictory idea that God and his creation are entirely separate…. Though this difference is understood to be a purely semantic argument….
#
#
Hypertext 13: Faqir
Circle inside triangle 999… or… 666

Omar Khayyám- falsafī wished "to know who I am". Labelled "detached from divine blessings". Commented on disagreement between Avicenna & Abu'l-Barakát al-Baghdādī answering, "does not even understand the sense of the words of Avicenna, how can he oppose what he does not know?"
Sublime sufisms denigrated to blasphemous words through the stumbling translation of Fitzgerald. He badly missed the spirit of the works in his over zealous attempts to versify.

Writing Science Fiction….

Well… the fact of the matter… is that ALL Science… is Fiction….

Some of it is just recognized by the general public… and science proselytites… as being such….

What is almost unanimously accepted as “fact” today… will in the near future be derided as almost farcical….

That’s just how Science works. At least… that’s how Science is SUPPOSED to work. Sometimes… our biases get in the way… and we have trouble dragging our dead and decaying holy cows out of our hallowed halls… to be properly disposed….

ALL Scientific knowledge is by its very nature temporary… unless those “facts” reach the realm of religion….

I had an idea for a story while I was visiting my father in the hospital last week. After he fell and broke his hip.

The idea was to explore the concept of REALITY….

REALITY for my father… who is demented….

REALITY for my mother… whose world is being rocked by my father’s dementia… but also by his hip fracture and rehabilitation….

And… REALITY. Period.

To get to that story… which has not yet begun, by-the-way… I needed to get to a better understanding of REALITY. What it is. How we humans construct our personal Realities….

That’s what led to this mornings Public Service Announcement.

Waxing eloquent on my internal musings….

Cognition and Reality: More Things my Family is Teaching Me.

What I am about to say is just an idea. Not even a hypothesis. I have been nurturing the idea for a long, long time. I began thinking about this when I was trying to come up with ways to teach doctors to perform procedures more safely and effectively. More sagely. But… I have looked at the conceptual foundations of the ideas very recently… in light of my father… and my mother… and my daughter….

Let me start out with a simple question….

What is reality?

The question may be simple, but the answer is far more complex.

Many, many people today work under a fallacy: a false assumption. They espouse the idea that I have my reality and you have yours and that’s OK… just as long as I get what I want….

That is an incorrect and asinine assumption. It is completely fallacious. That assumption simply means that that person refuses to accept anyone else’ authority over their lives. That person lives in what is defined in the abuse literature as Reality 2: an alternate reality designed and defined by controlling abusive person that is outside Reality… but allows that person to be unchallenged in obtaining the desires of their heart.

Reality 2 is not reality at all; Reality 2 is simply a perception. Actually… a misperception.

Reality is world on which our sensory perceptions… and emotional manipulation of those perceptions as based…. Not the fantasy inside our brains that our neuronal discharges construct… but the real world outside… which provides the stimuli that are thus interpreted. There is a definite difference between REALITY… and our individually formed… and distorted… concept of Reality. We ALL get it wrong. Because we all inject our biases and limited knowledge on to the image we create of REALITY. Reality 1 is an image that generally meshes with the interpretation of other humans in the same general vicinity; however, even Reality 1 is construct… not actual REALITY.

My mother lives in Reality 2: a carefully constructed world in which everything serves her needs. She refuses to see… explore… understand… Reality 1. Reality 1 does not exist for her. Reality 1 is far too threatening to her emotional well-being. She will not be swayed. She is very unrealistic. She lives in a fantasy world… and calls that fantasy world Reality.

We ALL do to some extent….

We all refuse to admit that truth, too…. Too emotionally threatening, I suppose….

But… that’s an aspect of Psychology that I do not intend to explore today….

Now… I’ve defined reality. I can begin presenting my postulate….

The way we humans functionally define Reality… is by comparing what we see and hear and taste and smell and feel (sensationally and emotionally)… to our preconceived ideas of what Reality should be: the Reality inside our head. Our own Personal Reality. We perform this testing constantly. In order to do so effectively we have to have effective memory, because that is the basis for comparing. We use our entire bank of memory: short-term all the way through long-term.

What do I mean?

As my daughter drives down the road, she compares the changing scene constantly. She has a set of reactions– skilled responses– that she stores away in her memory so that she doesn’t have to make up a new maneuver every time she encounters a new situation, because the situations are often quite similar. She should not need to go through the entire process of creating a response on the spot… while she is distracted… because the inherent delay in doing so… and the distraction from the process of driving… would be dangerous…. Is dangerous…. Very dangerous…. For young drivers. That is very effectively proved statistically. Young, inexperienced drivers are FAR more likely to die in an automobile accident than more experienced drivers. Is that Darwinian? Survival of the fittest? No. That is a combination of two things: experience and maturation of cerebral functions. Our frontal lobes are the last parts of our brain to mature… and some brains mature more quickly than others… so executive functions are affected…. Of course, some people never “mature”. That’s why experience is not always a good teacher. Experience is only capable of teaching people who are equipped to learn. That may be a Darwinian driving component….

What does that have to do with our inherent need to constantly test… and prove… reality…?

My daughter THINKS she has driving down. She desperately desires to drive without supervision. She does not see anything wrong with not having plans in place… or even recognizing threats…. That is what defines youth: having no clue… and having no clue that you have no clue… and being good with that….

My daughter cannot adequately perform tests of alternate realities to her own… because she cannot entertain the idea that they even exist. She doesn’t see the need to check her mirrors for dump trucks with trailers carrying backhoes cutting her off… because she knows where she’s going…. She doesn’t need to adjust the car to the curb so others can pass… or look before she opens the door and gets out… because she’s the only one in the world…. At least in her little world. She lives in her own little Reality 2… where other people… and danger… do not exist. All that exist is her desires. Experience may be an ineffective teacher when Reality is tested only based on one’s desires….

My father is different. He has dementia, so his memory is impaired. He also has macular degeneration, so his vision is very impaired. And otosclerosis, so his hearing is impaired. So… his ability to test Reality is severely impaired, but he does not understand that. His long-term memory is good, because the chemical and electrical connections that constitute those memories have been nurtured and reinforced and maintained for many, many years. Those connections are essentially permanent. They are structural. Hardwired into the system. New memories are software memories: they take time and reinforcement to become repeatedly backed up to the point that are redundant. That takes a lot of time… and a lot of energy… that could be better utilized serving other functions….

Let me put it this way: next week… will you need to know what you ate for lunch today? Probably not. And… you do… you should probably write it down.

Most immediate memories do not need to be put down in any permanent way. The connections can be trimmed and the chemical and electronic connections recycled to make the system more efficient….

Now…. I will circle back….

Testing the new memories… comparing them to old and new memories… is a much more efficient way of operating. The new memories do not need to be constructed in concrete. They can be made our of disposable material and compared to other memories. The most useful can be reinforced… and the no-longer-useful can be chucked and recycled….

That’s how our mind works: we constantly test what we see and hear and taste and smell and feel (physiologically and emotionally) to what our current concept of Reality is. Then we adjust. We either automatically throw away the new material that doesn’t mesh with what we hold as Reality… or we adjust our concept of Reality.

My daughter cannot yet conceive of how to adjust her concept of Reality while driving… because she doesn’t have enough experience adjusting her concept of Reality to efficiently and effectively do so….

My father cannot adjust his concept of Reality because his dementia and visual and auditory impairments… the chemical and electrical workings of his brain and sensory organs… no longer work effectively. So… he is no longer able to adequately test his concept of Reality. His concept of Reality is fixed. He tries… but the visual that actually represent his current Reality look distorted… and unreal…. His long-term memories… and even his hallucinations… look much more like he remembers Reality to be… so… obviously… that is the Reality he chooses to believe….

My mother cannot adjust her concept of Reality… because to do so… would challenge her delicately constructed emotional concept of self. Her comfort zone. The walls that protect her fragile ego.

Realize that this is a greatly simplified version of what is really happening… and is not at all an accurate picture of REALITY in any way, shape or form….

This is simply a basis for beginning to think about REALITY in our own lives… and in the lives of those around us.

I first conceived of this idea of Reality Testing while I was examining how Neurointerventionalists inject Onyx into the brain: we look at multiple screens… and we form a mental image…. And… when what we see on the screen… no longer matches our mental image… we have to figure out WHAT is different…. Whether what suddenly manifests itself is good… or bad… or indifferent….

I realized this morning that is what was happening when my daughter was driving to school.

I recognized the issues with my mother last Summer and with my father last week.

Hopefully, some of this will resonate with some of your own experiences….

My Daughter I Never Knew: A Freakin’ Horrorshow.

WARNING: This story contains some vulgarities that may offend some people and ideas that may offend even more. Do not feel compelled to read this story if you are offended by course language or adult situations. This story is written for mature readers.

About 12,000 words.

#
By Verruca Vulgaris, M.D.
8 January 2014 0900
19 February 2014 1208
20 February 2014 1942
10 March 2014 1522
13 March 2014 1448
19 May 2014 1308
20 May 2014 1202
26 May 2014 1342
12 June 2014 1672
27 April 2015 1442
#
#
I. Prologue: The Writing on the Wall.
#
#
וּפַרְסִֽין תְּקֵ֥ל מְנֵ֥א מְנֵ֖א (WordPress arranges Hebrew out of order!)
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
#
#
If you’ve never given life; if you’ve never taken life; if you’ve never weighed someone’s life in the balance; if you’ve never yourself been weighed… never been found… wanting… then maybe… you just can’t comprehend… the real value… the true value… of life.
And… if that’s the case… then this story… probably won’t mean much to you….
I’ve given life. And I’ve taken life. And… I know….
Anyway… the text above… “The Writing on the Wall”… well… it’s a message…. About money. Small change. The most direct translation is probably: “A mina. A mina. A shekel. And a half-mina.”
Traditionally the meaning is considered to constitute a message about Divine Judgment… or… Divine Retribution: “God has numbered your days; you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting… insufficient; as a result… what you have will be taken from you… and divided.”
Many people who think they know the meaning don’t understand the monetary part….
What does that have to do with my story?
Nothing.
Much.
I just found it intriguing….
Or… maybe… the meaning… is occult….
#
I hate to interrupt Storytime… to interject… but I’m about to do just that….
Seems sometimes we mere mortals have the propensity to get ourselves into trouble….
To bring about… situations… in our lives… that can best be described as… desperate….
Times when we are in despair.
Times when we feel hopeless.
Times when we feel abandoned.
Times when we feel like we are trapped in a personal Hell of our own creation….
That’s the crux of this story. This story is about one of those times….
Ok. Commercial break over. Back to the story….
#
Of course… I realize that this is no way to start a story. No proper way. To start any story. Except… maybe a Horror story. And… I guess… that’s really what this one is…. A Horror story. A horrible story. A real Horrorshow of a story. Like Alex and his droogies would say. Speaking in Nadsat. A post-apocalyptic industrial amalgam of English and Russian constructed into a language called Nadsat by Anthony Burgess in his classic dystopian novel of the not-too-distant future A Clockwork Orange. Love that book. And the movie. One of my favorites. And Horrorshow is one of my favorite words. Nadsat words anyway. Horrorshow is similar to wicked. In the Improper Bostonian vernacular. Means “peachy”. Comes from the Russian. Хорошó. Pronounced Khurashó. Meaning… Good. Well. That’s great! Something like that. Groovy.
Only… this isn’t some post-apocalyptic tale. Of society gone wrong.
No. This is the pre-apocalyptic part. The bad stuff that happens before the bad stuff that happens… after… a decadent society… rips… itself… apart.
Ba. Da. Bing!
This Horrowshow… is about yesterday. And about tomorrow. And about today. Near-future. And not too distant past. And… the hear and now. If any of you just happen to be listening….
In this story… the setting… is… here. And the time… is… now. The twilight… before the black knight….
The eve of the destruction of this current version of the Kingdom of Camelot… and all that is good… in our own eyes….
As we… who are all-consumed with ourselves… distracted by our own desires… sit twiddling our collectively misplaced thumbs…. All atwittering….
Immediately before the approach… the arrival… of… all-consuming darkness. The Crepusculation Towards the Apocalypse.
And… it began a long time ago. With decades of decadence….
Now… that time is upon us….
#
#
I woke up this morning. Flipped on the coffee pot. And proceeded to hover somewhere between vacillation and vegetation.
As I so struggled, I plopped myself down into my favorite Sunday morning stretched-out shape on my extremely comfortable leather couch in my extremely energy efficient and even more extremely comfortable modern home filled with all the modern conveniences in my extremely up-scale neighborhood in somewhere North by Northwest of suburban Boston… in order to separate… insulate… granulate… myself from the work and worries of the outside world.
Granulate…. Ain’t life sweet… when such a word can be used to describe… recalcitrance…?
Now… I should probably tell you that I view myself as an outsider. Something of an outcast. A Rebel in a Yankee world.
Because I live in Lexington, Massachusetts: the Cradle of the Revolution… and certainly the Cradle of Democrats… if not the Cradle of Democracy. And I’m not from Boston. And… as “they” so aptly say… you can’t get their from hear….
But Boston… this whole part of the country formerly known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony… has… evolved… socially… and morally… and financially…. The Reformed Puritanical ghosts of the founders of this long-running experiment in Social Engineering have long since been silenced in their graves….
As I sat… somewhat dazed… I pondered a poem by Edgar Allen Poe….
“O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?”
I suppose Poe was simply obsessing over golden grains of sand…. Attempting to constrain… control… the sands of time….
Anyway….
#
Let me try a different approach. Perhaps something more… literary. Some purple prose. A touch of mystery….
A different… beginning…. Maybe… we’ll even wind up with a different ending….
#
#
II. A Dream Within a Dream.
#
#
Steam spewed in clouds and streams, puffing it’s way out of the spout in gasps and gouts as the coffee pot burbled and coughed its way towards the ultimate completion of its task. The staccato crescendo into sudden silence awoke me from my musings.
Sometimes… unexpected silence… can do that….
The misty vapor flowed over the brim of my mug as the hot, brown liquid swirled into the cold, white cream. (No sugar. Gotta draw that magical… mystical line somewhere….) I stared vacantly at the rapidly dissipating cloud… lost in inconsequential thoughtlessness….
Drifting….
Dissipatedly….
As I sat carefully ensconced well within my comfort zone, in my usual place, following my usual routine… without further thought… I never even considered that the unusual… may soon manifest itself in my life… like some horribly overstated invasive insect species.
Interrupt my carefully calculated routine….
Leave my leisurely day in chaos….
And leave me in utter confusion….
About that time… as I sat… staring into the mist ascending from my mug… an image formed….
A… hazy… crazy… image….
Those misty vapors congealed to create a macabre… imagining…. An intense… impression. A curious… presentment…. An iconic image…. An image that reminded me of dread portends emanating from the dark and mysterious Sibylline Oracles…. Occult scenes of swirling sulphurous smoke… obscuring lakes of flaming brimstone…. Suggesting otherworldly tortures…. Retribution…. For past sins….
My mind deviated quickly towards the descriptions of Dante’s Divine Comedy…. Il Inferno….
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”
Many translations get that phrase in Old Italian wrong. Many translators claim it says: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
It doesn’t.
The phrase is best translated: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
#
Il Inferno….
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Obviously… an ill omen. If you get my meaning.
I really don’t feel capable of appreciating the comedy in that… divine… or otherwise….
Irony…? Certainly….
Comedy…? Not so much.
I mean… now…? I can laugh. At myself.
However….
At the time….
I didn’t….
Anyway…. I hung there. Transfixed. Suspended in SpaceTime. At least in my mind….
Pondering….
Is all that we see… or seem… really… nothing… but a dream… within a dream…?
Nothing…. But… turtles… all the way down…? One turtle… stacked on the back of another… stacked on the back of another… ad infinitum…? Or… is life… the value of life… even more elusive…? The meaning of life… even more… nebulous…? Does the very transience of life… promote intransigence… rather than transcendence…?
Or… in an effort to embrace the perception of political correctness… do we all too often swing the pendulum the other way… towards unreasonable… irrational… and even unacceptable… compromise… in an effort to slaughter… to satiate ourselves… on other people’s sacred cows?
In essence… I suppose I was pondering the question: What is the essence of life?
Amidst my musings… this limpid… ephemeral… unreality…. This inscrutable imagery…. Pulled me back. To the present. Or… to the past…. And… at the same time… revealed itself to be something far more unsettling…. Something far less… unpleasant…. Something far more satisfying…. Than the harsh reality it sought to replace in my mind…. Or… my imagination….
That image… that memory… teleported me back… to two… disparate… disjointed… disconnected points in time….
One seemingly recent….
And the other… definitely distant….
Almost three decades… and 1,500 miles away….
One… seemed… real…. Exquisitely… real… but… perhaps… in reality… was nothing more than a dream…. A vision…. A delusion….
The other…? Definitely a nightmare…. But… also… definitively real…. A real… harsh… reality…. Yet… seemingly even more unreal than the event that I knew to be historically accurate…. That event shattered all my illusions of reality. Stole my life. Sucked all desire out of the depths of my soul…. Left me nothing more than hallow husk… bereft of anything… but disillusion….
Both left me haunted….
But the latter haunting… was by something… stranger….
As if… I were… haunted… by some… stranger….
As if… I were hunted….
Pursued….
Stalked….
By my daughter….
I never knew….
#
Still….
I don’t know….
If she’s real…. Or… not….
Something really real…. Or… something… really unreal….
Imaginary…. Unimaginable….
Something…. Or… nothing….
Nothing more than just some twisted dream….
Some… apparition…. A ghost…. Some demon… shrouded in smoke…. Or… something… someone… else….
I don’t know….
Still….
I’ve thought about that.
And… I’ve thought about… that!
That scene…. That vision….
Replayed it in my mind….
Replayed it over in my mind….
Over… and over… and over…. And over….
And over….
And still….
I’m not sure….
No matter how many times I analyze…. Rethink…. Ruminate…. I can’t seem to digest….
IT!!!
The scene…. The event…. The dream…. The… vision….
If that’s really what it is….
Really what it was….
If any of it…. Of… that…. Of… THIS…. Is really REAL….
I’m not sure….
I’ve really never been more sure…. Less sure….
Sure. Period….
Even now….
I cannot… comprehend… completely… the context…. The stark reality…. The confusion…. The illusion…. The fragility…. The unreality…. The ephermerality…. The immortality… or… mere mortality…. The morality…. Or the lack thereof….
Passion…. Compassion…. Changing fashion….
It’s all a blur. Certainly blurry. And… not just at the edges… of unreality….
All I know is… suddenly… I became aware….
Of what…. Of… where…? I have never been sure….
Could never be sure….
Can never be sure….
Even now…. I’m not sure…. Of anything….
Except… that vision… of HER….
#
#
III. The Vision.
#
#
White. White! WHITE!!!
White… piercing light…. Purest…. Brightest…. White light. Seemed to emanate from… everywhere….
Everything….
Except…. There really wasn’t… much… of anything….
But light….
Bright. White. Piercing. Light.
Penetrating….
Uncomfortable….
Disquieting….
All around… me. Surrounding…. Me….
Beside…. Behind…. Below…. Above….
Both sides….
In front….
Inside….
Me….
Nowhere to hide….
Whatever it was….
Wherever it was….
Wherever I was….
Everything… was… pure white….
Like fresh snow….
Purest white….
Unimaginably pure white….
Light.
Inexplicable.
Pure.
White.
Light.
Incomprehensible.
Pure.
White.
Light.
Effulgent.
Pure.
White.
Light.
Piercing.
Penetrating.
Prescient.
Purposeful.
Light.
Extending to the most distant ends of… whatever… wherever… I was….
A pure white… fluffy… comfortable… beautiful… inviting blanket…. Like fresh snow…. But warm…. Like a down comforter…. And it was… covered… shrouded… in thick white mist…. Obscured… by a haze…. Like a cloud….
Flother. Snow. Flake. Falling….
Like fog….
Dense… white… fog….
And the air… was… clean…. Crisp… and cool…. Pleasant…. Like a brisk Fall morning…. Or the most beautiful Spring afternoon you’d ever experienced…. But hazy….
I was surrounded… overwhelmed… uplifted… by pure peace…. Intense joy…. Immense Bliss….
#
And then… there… she was….
A vision…. An apparition….
An angel…?
Standing. Silent. Stunning.
Demure.
Head turned. Chin almost resting on her shoulder.
Face almost hidden. Almost. Almost….
Bright blue eyes peeking past an alabaster shoulder…. Through amber tresses…. Slightly tussled, but not quite out of place….
Picture perfection…. That was… her….
Standing before me…. Silent…. Stunning….
A shimmering sylph…. Radiant beauty…. Piercing, pure, crystalline celestial azure eyes….
Slowly… thoughtlessly… she pulled one lock down in front of her face… and twirled that strand around her right index finger….
Slowly….
Turning….
Twisting….
Oscillating….
Rocking….
Rhythmically….
From her hips….
Ankles crossed….
She was beautiful.
Young. Very young.
Late twenties. Early teens. Something like that.
Blonde hair hanging down…. Past her shoulders.
Thin. Athletic.
And then… she untwirled her finger from the tightly
spun hair and blew it off of her face.
Pffft!
Then… demurely… her eyes… fell upon… mine….
Just like….
#
No. Can’t be.
Impossible….
She’s….
Dead.
#
She looked up. It looked up.
The vision. The apparition. The… angel…. For lack of a better word. A better idea. A better understanding. A better… descriptor….
That young… beautiful… woman… looked up….
Looked at me….
Looked through me….
As if… she knew me….
Intimately….
Had known me….
Still knew me….
Would… always… know… me….
Always….
And… in all ways….
Penetrating…. Inescapable….
Lustrous blue eyes.
Sheepish smile. Or rather… impish grin…. Hidden. Revealed only in her pure blue eyes…. Like Spring water…. Only… more pristine…. More… natural.
And then… she spoke….
#
“Father….”
#
What?
Me…?
Was she speaking to me…?
Or… to someone else…?
How could that be…?
Can’t be…! No way…!
She’s not my child!
She’s not my daughter!
That’s not my… name….
Not to her….
I don’t know her….
#
And yet… she looks… so familiar….
Feels… so… familiar….
Like my daughter….
Like… my wife….
But that can’t be…. That’s… impossible….
My wife is dead. She died not long after my other daughter was born.
Breast cancer.
She should have lived.
Been cured.
But… she didn’t….
She wasn’t….
And… she died.
Maybe… she said…. Maybe… she meant… flother…?
But…?
No.
#
Maybe… it was nothing more than a dream….
Or… a vision….
Or… nothing at all….
#
Anyway…. I didn’t see it…. Any of it…. Not really….
I felt it…. If that makes any sense…. Even if it doesn’t….
Even if it… did…. Even if it… does….
It…. Doesn’t…. Matter.
That’s the way it was…. The way we were….
And that’s the funny part….
#
Baring one’s soul never seems to be easy….
I feel foolish…. Exposed…. Naked….
And… I suppose… then… at that merest moment in SpaceTime… for once… I really… truly… was….
Completely….
Naked….
Not physically….
Emotionally….
Spiritually….
Completely open. Exposed. Unprotected.
Nowhere to run.
Nowhere to hide.
From the all-exposing… all-revealing… pure… white… light….
#
Maybe I should clarify something. About angels.
Maybe some of you are Christians….
Maybe some of you are scholars….
Maybe some of you are Christian scholars….
Maybe some of you know… that humans… are not… and never will be… angels…. That dead people remain dead… until the Second Coming….
But… then again… maybe some of you have no idea what I’m babbling about…. And… that’s ok, too.
So… what I’m trying to say… is… that I was simply speaking figuratively… when I said… she was… an angel…. She looked like an angel. Appeared… to be… an angel…. Or… how I imagine… an angel… to look…. How I… expect….
Anyway…. She surprised… even frightened me…. Caught me off guard….
#
Still….
Father….
Spoken softly… expectantly… as though she were searching….
But yet… like… she… knew….
She wasn’t asking. She was stating. A fact.
Father….
That phrase…. That word…. The expectation….
That haunting… accusation….
Spoken with such… conviction….
Spoken with such… innocence….
Disarmed me…. Initially…. Then….
Struck me like a slap across my face….
Struck me like a shot across my bow….
Struck me as… exceedingly formal….
Yet… at the same time… struck me as… exquisitely… excruciatingly… intimate….
#
Where am I…? What is this place…? Why is she saying that… to ME???
Maybe…. She’s speaking… to someone else….
Maybe… she means… something… else….
Flother. Perhaps….
#
But…. No….
No one uses that word. No one knows… that word.
And….
She was looking at me….
She was speaking… to me….
She was definitive….
And she… and I… were alone… together….
#
And then… it hit me….
That slap….
Struck me….
Like a stone….
From a sling….
From far away….
In time….
And… like a slung stone… it suddenly hit me….
From out of the blue….
Hit me.
Right.
Between.
The eyes.
Her age…. Her face…. Her hair…. Her eyes….
This wasn’t really as much of a mystery as I initially thought. Wanted to think….
There… before me… stood… my daughter….
My daughter I never knew.
#
#
IV. Language Adrift.
#
#
Well… that was the first thing. The first event. That happened. Or rather…. The second. The event that happened… unexpectedly…. Such a long, long time… and far, far distance… from the first….
About twenty years.
About 1,500 miles.
As I think I said before….
I don’t really want to get into what happened.
Back then.
Not really.
It got… messy.
Real messy.
REALLY messy….
And… I don’t mean just the cold wind… and the blowing snow… and the hard ice…. That was one cold… hard… indiscriminate… Winter….
#
But… before I go… farther… backwards… maybe I should just say a little more… about how I felt… about the second… lighter… more proximal… event….
I’ve been looking for a word to describe my feelings… at the time… recently. Regarding… that… event….
While I was looking I came across a different word. Another word. A word I wasn’t expecting. A word… out of the blue. A word that seemed to fall out of the celestial blue sky….
Flother. Supposedly a synonym for “snowflake”.
I suppose Tomita might have titled his iconic album Flotherdance. Had he known….
Maybe I should explain. About flother. As best I can….
#
Flother is a hapax legomenon. In this particular case, an English hapax legomenon: A word that can only be found one time in the entire body of English Literature prior to 1900. In a manuscript written around 1275. Something similar to nortelrye. Middle English. Most likely means “education”. Chaucer used it once. Or Slæpwerigne . Old English. Appears once. In the ancient Exeter Book. “Sleep-weary”. But that particular hapax legomenon can be a bit confusing. Because… we assume the word can mean either: “weary for sleep”… or “weary from sleep”….
Language drift.
Like “wicked”. Usually means “bad”. Or “evil”. Unless you hear it here in Boston. When it means “good”.
Sometimes words do that.
Change meaning.
Sometimes concepts….
Drift….
Sometimes… whole societies….
Drift….
Search for….
Find….
New meanings….
#
New lamps for old….
#
Flother. Nortelrye. Slæpwerigne.
Yup. Guess that just about sums it all up….
Sums up what a hapax legomenon is….
Sums up my feelings….
Sums up the situation….
Unique.
Mysterious.
Nebulous.
Confusing….
#
#
V. Of Residences and Residencies… and Bulls… and Bullshit….
#
#
Now…. I suppose I owe you some sort of story. Some kind… or unkind… explanation. About… that… earlier… event….
#
We were living in Saint Louis at the time. My wife and I. In a small condominium right next door to the huge Medical Complex on Kingshighway. The first major purchase we ever made together. And we were so proud. Third floor walk-up in a sketchy part of town, but still…. Our castle.
The place had parquet floors, a balcony, a washer/dryer… and a parking spot….
Sometimes… it’s the little things.
Sometimes… not so much….
Anyway….
We were both doctors. My wife had just graduated from their very prestigious Medical School and was starting her Internal Medicine residency in a premier program. Working her way up the rungs of the ladder to the life of her Dreamworld…. Climbing hand over hand…. One rung after another….
#
Academic Medicine….
Her dream….
My dream….
Our dream.
We were living the Dream!
Looking back…. At least… we shared that….
I was in the middle of the worst part of the most hellacious Neurological Surgery residency in the entire history of Planet Earth. Unearthly intense. Although… not in any pleasurable way.
Painful. Abusive.
That kind of intense.
And I loved it.
That intensity….
That pain….
That… brutality….
That… humiliation….
That abuse.
At least that was what I’d been told.
What I was being told. As… I was being brainwashed….
And… of course… I believed it…. I bought in…. Became a dutiful soldier…. A successful soldier. Goose-stepping my way towards becoming an insanely rich soldier….
The chairman passed out a little trifle of a pamphlet called “Message to Garcia” that we were all told to read. Apparently it was written in about an hour. It was initially published in “Philistine” magazine. The story is about accomplishing a difficult task. And… not asking a lot of questions. Period.
Success… has many… different… definitions….
Many… different… delusions….
#
By anyone’s standards, we were successful. Living our lives right on track.
Busy being just exactly who everyone thought we should be. Busy doing just exactly what everyone else thought we should do. Living our ostentatious… yet… meaningless… lives in the Fast Lane. Searching. For meaning. Flying down the tracks of life on an Express Train to Success. Our lives… our careers… were on rails.
No reason to look up.
No reason to look out.
And… no reason to look in….
#
In pursuit of that dream, my wife went away to present at an Internal Medicine conference…. Prestigious, I’m sure. D.C. Chicago. Somewhere. Gave a ten-minute talk. Presented a poster. Something like that. I don’t really remember exactly what. Maybe something Endocrine? I’m not sure. About the specific topic.
Still…. Something….
Inconsequential.
To me….
At least that’s what I remember thinking at the time.
Made my wife happy. Made her feel successful.
The rest… was mere formality.
The rest… didn’t really matter… to me….
The subject… didn’t really matter… to me….
In retrospect… my wife… didn’t really matter… to me….
Nothing really mattered to me. Not then.
I already had the Surgeon’s Mentality. And a bulletproof ego….
So… I figured I had sufficient reason to be a bit of a snob towards mere mortals…. Even lesser gods…. In the immortal hierarchy of Medical godhood.
I guess we viewed it as a game.
Garnishing respect….
Propping up the pecking order….
Hashing out the hierarchy….
Establishing and maintaining the Caste System….
I was at the very tip top of the food chain. A Brahmin. Up in the stratosphere. Above the holiest of the lesser gods. The Holy of Holies. The Holier-than-thous….
And… Medicine residents…?
Fuck’em!
I did.
That may sound cold and hard. But… it was the truth….
And… I see no reason to sugar-coat the bitter pill….
At least we were married.
And in my mind… that made it all OK….
At the time… I thought it was my right….
And now… I know… I was wrong….
But then… I was ignorant….
I was obstinate….
I was obtuse….
I thought… well….
#
Maybe I should mention something about the mentality….
Among men… real men… relative godhood is defined by two qualities: length and strength. Real men prove ourselves by the tasks we perform. The most god-like men walking amongst us prove our supremacy by completing the most difficult task. Herculean tasks. We were considered messengers of the gods when we carried that Message to Garcia. Without asking questions. Something less when failed. Something far less when we questioned.
#
Another thing…. I was on call all the time….
And when I say all the time… I mean ALL the time….
That’s just the way it was.
My Neurological Surgery training was extremely long and extremely hard. I averaged about 120 hours a week in hospital. Sometimes more. Much more. Spent 200 out of total possible 216 hours in house over one nine day period.
And… that’s the way I loved it….
That’s what I was told….
That’s what I believed….
That’s just the way it was….
Only actually fell asleep while performing surgery once. But… I was just assisting.
See…?
That’s what impressed us.
That’s what impressed… me.
Be… all that you can be….
Sacrifice.
Everything.
Else.
For GLORY!!!
That’s not just the way it was; that’s the way it had to be….
The longer….
The harder….
The better….
We would be….
Maybe that helps to explain why elite Surgeons tend to be such cocksure pricks.
Maybe that helps explain why gods love to live exclusive lives in exclusive communities.
We accepted that hard work… herculean effort… is necessary…. To earn our stripes. To ascend the throne. To be the best of the best….
The problem with being on call every other day is… you miss half of the interesting cases….
But being on call all the time… affects a man…. Effects a man. Changes him. Changes his chemistry. Changes his goals. His desires. His relationships.
Guess we kind of blithely overlooked the principle of cause and effect….
Be all you can be….
See what you want to see….
#
Let’s face it: Residencies are stressful….
All residencies are stressful….
And… marriages… are stressful….
And our marriage was even more stressful than most….
Because my wife was also a doctor….
Because my wife was also in her Residency….
I mean… in many ways… my wife and I were equals.
Equally brilliant.
Equally perfect.
Equally stressed….
And… all of that brilliance… all that perfection… all of that stress… equaled a recipe for disaster!
All the stress… and the incongruent call schedules… were a considerable strain on our relationship….
Because… long… hard hours… and lack of sleep… lead to a little known phenomenon I like to refer to as… Testosterone Storm….
#
I’m not sure whether or not women under the same conditions undergo the same physiological… and psychological… phenomenon: I think not. But in men… at least in me… and other Surgeons… stress and lack of sleep tended to trigger a sudden surge of testosterone.
And… testosterone gives a man a certain sense of… entitlement….
A certain sense of inevitability….
A certain sense of infallibility….
A certain sense of invincibility….
And… that attitude of inevitable infallible invincibility can certainly become infectious….
Affected….
Even unbecoming….
Sure… such aggression can be attractive in certain social situations….
Such as… on the floor of a hospital….
In the Emergency Room….
In the Operating Room….
In a bar….
On a first date….
In the short-term….
But on a day-in, day-out basis… in a long-term relationship… or in a marriage… that aggression can be daunting… rather than attractive…. Seem threatening rather than any source of security….
Like I said: we Surgeon-types tend to transform ourselves into cocksure pricks…. Stress and lack of sleep tend to unmask certain… character flaws…. Which… I suppose… may lead to a certain level of… objectification…. When a man feels that everything around him must reflect his own greatness….
The Ancient Greeks called it hubris….
We never had a name for it. We never even considered it. We never needed to…. We just lived it…. Just part of the lifestyle….
#
#
VI. Trophy Lives.
#
#
Try not to be distracted by my unvarnished… my… unflattering… objectivity…. Try to focus on the bigger picture….
I do.
Objectivity is important for my job. And… I’m just trying to tell it like it was….
Really. Was.
Really. Is.
Sans sugar coat. Just the bitter… jagged… little pill.
At that time… my wife was… just that….
Just my wife….
Just an object.
A trophy. A Home Entertainment Unit. Nothing more. And that’s just the way it was. Butt… certainly a beautiful one.
At that time… I was going to be a Surgeon….
And now… I am one….
A Neurological Surgeon. With an impeccable pedigree. Trained in one of… in THE… premier program on the face of the planet…. And… the most brutal…. And… at the time… that all seemed ok…. That was what seemed to be most important….
I’m not desperately seeking sympathy. I’m just trying to tell the truth.
My wife was a doctor.
And… she was a Trophy Wife.
And… Trophy Wives are objects by definition.
Status symbols.
That’s why successful men… and especially Neurological Surgeons… are so prone to trade up on what seems to be a whim.
Because that’s a misrepresentation. A misunderstanding.
Because it’s not a whim.
Because it’s really important.
Because Trophy Wives are nothing more than expressions of how much such shallow men love themselves.
How much we love ourselves….
If you’ve never walked in the boots… you’ve never been in the Army. You really don’t know what it’s like. You really don’t have any knowledge… any authority… to criticize….
But don’t let that stop you….
#
I pledged the fraternity. I’m guilty as charged.
For someone who aspires to be a top flight Surgeon, a top wife is a whole lot easier to get into than a top residency program. Especially after finishing training. That was the mantra we chanted.
That’s what we were told.
That’s what we were sold.
That’s what we believed.
That’s what we were told to believe.
That’s what we chose… to believe….
But my wife was exceptional. Superlative. Even in the realm of top-sitting Trophy Wives. She was beautiful and smart and accomplished. Successful. In her own right.
Of course, Neurological Surgeons can be trophies, too.
Objects of affection. And self-affectation.
Sometimes love can be inconvenient. Especially when it comes to loving others.
#
#
VII. Impersonating an Impersonal Elvis.
#
#
So when my wife came home from her trip….
Well… let’s just say… I missed her….
Parts of her anyway….
Some parts… more than others….
And all I saw was a tight window of opportunity… in a wall of otherwise conflicting call schedules…. And… I’ll admit… I wasn’t in a real talkative mood….
Cue the Elvis, please….
A Little Less Conversation….
A little more… action….
Like I said before… sometimes… love can be inconvenient….
That’s another thing about chronic sleep deprivation…. Tends to make men stupid…. Or… more stupid…. More primitive…. And… essentially… aphasic….
Even smart men.
Maybe even especially smart men….
But… maybe not….
#
I missed my wife. Specifically… I missed her… sex….
And then… about three weeks later… my wife missed something….
Her period….
And then… about a 28 days after that… she missed another….
And we both knew what that meant….
And… we both tried not to think about it….
So… she scheduled an appointment….
At the clinic down the street….
She filled out paperwork…. And I tried to be supportive….
And in retrospect… I probably wasn’t too terribly successful…. In fact… I know I wasn’t. I may have even been terrible. Certainly felt terrible. But I definitely wasn’t successful….
Not when it really mattered….
Not that it really mattered….
Like I said before…. Nothing really mattered…. To me….
Except what I ladled out onto the plate I had sat before me…. Life was a banquet…. A buffet…. A smorgasbord….
And… I was hungry….
So… I gorged myself….
And… I found out… that in fact… I was insatiable….
But… of course… I could not find that clarity at the time….
I mean… I really didn’t think of myself as a pig….
I mean… I really didn’t even think of myself as a god….
I mean… I always thought of myself as some kind of a White Knight… on a White Charger… rescuing damsels in distress…. Doing the work of God…. A Paladin….
I was good!
Or… at least… good enough….
I mean… I thought I was….
I mean… I was told I was….
I mean… I believed… I was….
I mean… I believed… I knew what mattered…. Really mattered….
I mean… I believed… my life… really mattered… to me….
And my wife’s life really mattered to her….
And staying on track with our lives really mattered to both of us….
And what people thought about us really mattered….
Social status and what-not….
And she wasn’t ready….
And I wasn’t ready….
And we both had things to do….
Things we wanted to do….
Things we needed to do….
Things we told ourselves we needed to do… to accomplish… what we needed… to be successful….
For my wife… and me… to be… Successes….
Just another day enjoying the sunny skies at Sonova Beach.
And… looking back… I guess… we thought life was about nothing more than sitting by the pool…. Swimming…. Sunning…. And… sucking cesses….
I mean… that’s sure how life tasted right about then….
I mean… in retrospect… I guess when I say life really mattered… I was really lying….
It didn’t….
Not really….
Not as much as other things mattered….
On the relative value of life scale….
Life really held a value of absolute zero….
#
Before I go on… please let me explain… what I learned… about my actions… my reactions… my performance… in the Clinic Visit I described so… clinically… above….
I was ruthlessly efficient. Clinically detached. Which in medical situations is usually great. But in this particular situation… defined failure. Spousal emotional abandonment. Dereliction of husbandry duty.
Now I know. Now I understand. Now… I comprehend….
The full extent. Of my abject failure.
That is the harsh reality of my brutal self-appraisal.
#
#
VIII. A Life of Virtue… at Least… Virtually.
#
#
I know what you’re probably thinking…. My wife and I didn’t fit… don’t fit… the demographics of Abortion.
We were married.
We were well-educated.
We were successful.
And… we were WASPs.
We were Conservative Christians….
Not the kind of people who usually show up on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic…. Except maybe as protesters…. Or… providers….
And… the elephant in the room…. We were both doctors.
So… we should have known better….
Planned better….
Planned parenthood….
Performed better….
You’re right. We were. We did. We could have. And… we should have.
I would have thought we would have….
But we didn’t.
I’ll get to all the excuses in a minute, but first… I’ve got a joke for you. Coulda, Woulda, and Shoulda walk into a bar…. Coulda and Woulda got slammed…. Shoulda walked out…. And got hit by a train while he was trying to cross the tracks…. Oops!
I just made that up. Not very funny. I know.
Not really meant to be funny. This was serious.
But real humans make mistakes, too. And that’s not very funny either a lot of times. Especially to the people making the mistakes….
#
Qué serà, serà, I suppose….
I used to think that expression was Latin. Or Italian. Or Spanish. Or Spanglish. But apparently… the phrase doesn’t actually exist in any language… other than popular song lyrics composed in American English.
I suppose I could have said. Non me arbitratur militem, sed mulierem. Roughly, “He doesn’t think I’m working out as a soldier: he thinks I’m a woman (or a girly-man).” Racism, sexism and homophobia hadn’t been acknowledged in Academic Neurosurgery at the time.
But… I guess that’s another topic….
#
#
IX. Inexcusable Excuses.
#
#
Ok. Now… the excuses. Just like I promised.
We tried to plan ahead. Be smart.
But… she couldn’t tolerate the pill. And cervical caps didn’t really work… unless the woman had already birthed a baby from down below. And Elaine on Seinfeld had a monopoly on Today sponges. And IUDs were considered dangerous. Could possibly lead to sterility. And she wanted… we wanted… children… eventually…. At some nebulous… convenient… future time….
#
Time.
Isn’t that always the issue with “successful” people?
Time….
#
And besides… all of that took time…. Interfered with passion…. With raw intimacy…. And we were married…. And unprotected intercourse was just… a sperm of the moment decision….
And… in retrospect… a bad decision….
A momentary lapse of reason….
We were swept away…. Or… more honestly…? I was swept away on the tidal surge of emotion associated with Testosterone Storm….
I guess maybe I’m human after all….
I know. That’s just an excuse.
Hindsight may be 20/20. But… so is Mad Dog….
And Mad Dog tends to be much more… intoxicating….
#
#
X. The Horrorshow.
#
#
Please excuse my obliquity…. My meandering course….
But… brutal… emotional… honesty… is… often… difficult….
Especially for those of us who for professional… and personal… reasons tend to be… a bit… emotionally detached….
#
The clinic was right down the street.
About a block.
Maybe two.
Maybe a few more.
But not far.
Not too far.
We could have walked, I guess. But we didn’t. I drove. So my wife wouldn’t have to walk back. (Even though she still had to climb the backstairs. Third floor walk-up….)
And… protesters were marching and shouting and carrying signs with horrible pictures showing dead fetuses and blocking the sidewalk and the door to the clinic… and snapping our pictures… and calling her names….
And… it was a bad scene….
A really… horrible… confusing… emotionally destabilizing… gut wrenching… bad scene….
A bad dream…. A real nightmare…. A seriously… surreal… Horrorshow….
Not in any good sense.
In the not good sense….
As in the sense of… definitely… not good!
Revealed to be stunningly… starkly… unforgettably… unforgivably… real…. Harsh reality…. Glaringly displayed in the harsh light of hindsight….
And in my experience… the 20/20 vision of hindsight… mixed with Mad Dog… and the unflattering light of inescapable reality… has a strong tendency to make me look like an ass…. A mirror reflecting my internal ignorance. My pathological personality defects. Reveal my arrogance and insufferable intelligence for what it truly is: nothing more than insanity… inanity… and… insatiable stupidity. Petty superficiality. Supreme selfishness….
#
#
XI. Clinical Sterility and the Hard Hike Back to Never-ever-againland….
#
#
This is kind of hard to explain….
The Abortion Clinic made a negative impression on my mind….
Not negative in any normal sense of the word….
Negative in the sense… that it almost wasn’t there.
The Abortion Clinic exists as a ghost… haunting my mind….
I remember that the clinic was across Euclid Avenue from the old Forest Park Hotel… which still had an ancient elevator that required an elevator operator…. And a new deli where we enjoyed eating.
I remember thinking that maybe we’d drop by for a late lunch after the procedure, but that didn’t work out.
I remember the protesters marching on the sidewalk.
I remember driving into the parking lot.
I remember the scared forest green steel door.
I remember the blonde brick façade and the round coke-bottle green blown glass tiles configuring the corner and the stark stainless steel awning that jutted out over the sidewalk at an odd angle….
I remember the utilitarian… almost pedestrian construction….
I remember the institutional green tiles lining the walls and forming the floors…. The white grout. Institutional green.
I remember wondering why the walls of medical clinics were almost always that same color. Not Federal green. That would be too bland. A slightly deeper green. Almost mint. Almost mucous. Almost snot….
I remember wondering where the inevitable reproduction of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World was hidden….
I remember thinking that the Abortion Clinic reminded me of my old dentist’s office at the end of Main Street in Waynesboro, Mississippi… except that he had a very large reproduction of Charles Allan Gilbert’s All is Vanity instead.
I remember I was always fascinated by that picture.
And I remember that his office smelled more of ether. Rather than the overwhelmingly offensive sterility of isopropyl alcohol and chlorine bleach….
But I don’t remember much about the office.
And… I don’t remember much about the procedure. Not even the informed consent.
I do remember how oppressively sterile the Abortion Clinic… the entire situation… felt….
I remember the feeling of stares. And quickly averted gazes.
I remember the stark silence. Of lips that started to move. To speak. But didn’t….
I remember that I said nothing.
I remember my wife said nothing.
I remember the doctor said nothing.
I remember the nurse said nothing.
I remember nobody said nothing. That was the most silent… most sterile place I ever remember being….
I remember it was all so… clinical. So… sterile….
Consummate… all-consuming… clinical… sterility….
Nothing could possible survive that sterilizing silence.
No thought.
No question.
No remorse.
Nothing.
But silence. Isolation. And the sterile… silent… smell of isopropyl alcohol and chlorine bleach.
And then… I heard the tin lid of a specimen jar ring closed.
And then… we were done….
I gathered up our meager belongings, and helped my still-groggy wife back to the car.
I cranked it, yanked it into drive and drove the three blocks back down to the parking spot in back of our condo.
And… no one was the wiser.
At least… not me.
#
#
Needless to say, the walk back up the three flights of the back steps to our condo was… difficult.
Dismal. Detached.
Silent…. Secret…. Shattered….
Frightened…. Forlorn….
Insulated…. Isolated…. Inconsolable….
Both of us….
But… I focused on my feelings….
I was distraught.
I was destroyed.
And… I assumed… so was she.
#
My wife climbed the bleak rusting black backstairs essentially alone in the glowering darkness. I think I tried to help, but I’m not really sure. She stared gloomily at each steal step as she slowly dragged herself up towards our bed.
Silent.
Pale.
Listless.
Sedate.
As if still anesthetized.
My soul felt as if it were being ripped out of my body…. Ever. So. Slowly.
Figuratively….
And… my life… destroyed….
Literally….
Everything I had always told about myself…. Everything I had always told myself I was…. Everything I had always believed myself to be… was in that instant… revealed to be a lie…. All my grandiose ideas of Noblesse Oblige… were revealed… in an instant… to be false….
A prick exploded my balloon of self-adulation.
Suddenly… I realized… I was no White Knight in glimmering armor on a fine charger…. And… I never had been…. Anything…. More than merely a peasant….
And… I felt much more likely a demon. Maybe even Satan himself. Or… worse…. But… certainly far less powerful.
Like Icarus… I had flown too high… and came crashing back to Earth…. In a ball of flame.
Ouch!!!
#
#
XII. Tenebrous Enlightenment and Sacrilegious Confessions.
#
#
I’m not really big on expressing my feelings. Not good at expressing emotions. But… I’ll admit… looking back… that bad scene… the protesters snapping my picture… calling me names… shouting at me….
I took it personally.
Made me feel like a criminal.
I mean… I tried to ignore them. Bit my tongue. Hid my face. Shuffled to the door of the clinic and held it open for my wife.
I can only imagine how my wife felt….
No. I take that back.
That’s a bald-faced lie.
I can’t even imagine how she felt….
Her head. Her heart.
Her hormones….
Her feelings of loss. Guilt. Remorse. God’s vengeance.
All… magnified….
All… intensified….
And… those feelings didn’t go away when we got into the car and drove away….
What had once been glorified… and sterilized… was now gorified… and stultified…. Utterly grotesque.
The Real World can be like that. A dose of reality seems always to be an extremely bitter pill to swallow; no matter what you were told to expect.
“It’s just a bee sting,” mockingly laughed the huge prick… through a calloused smile….
#
One more thing before I wander away from the subject….
Nobility…. Royalty….
Loyal subjects….
Medieval knights in shining armor…. Riding fine white chargers….
Dungeons…. Dragons…. Demons…. Damnation….
Damsels in distress….
Church…. Rituals….
Sacraments….
Salvation….
Healing….
Forgiveness….
I don’t know about your feelings on such matters, but I found it hard… still find it hard… to sit still on a church pew… when I feel guilty…. Everything feels harder. Especially those cold… hard… pews. In those cold… hard… churches….
At the time… and for a long time thereafter… I felt like I was an accessory to murder….
A murderer….
A monster….
A God-forsaken baby butcher….
Cain himself….
Only worse….
Lucifer fallen. Satan. The Lord of Lies.
Worse than that even….
A impenitent child killer…. Slayer of Innocents….
If any such specimen actually exist.
Any innocents.
In the context of Original Sin.
God knows.
I don’t.
But… doesn’t matter what I think about… other… sinners….
So… going there… to church… seeking compassion… seeking comfort… from the comfortably perfect… from the disturbingly uncompassionate… didn’t really seem too terribly comforting…. Lost people living their lives outside the Church… out in “The World”… the cold… hard… harsh… Real World… seemed far less judgmental… less damning… than our fellow Conservative Christians… carrying signs… calling us names…. Shouting condemnation…. Screaming for their own form of justice…. Showing no mercy….
I don’t know about my wife…. But I certainly didn’t feel loved.
Not by Christians.
Not by God.
Not by my wife.
Not even by myself.
I felt judged….
I felt ostracized….
I felt cursed….
I felt convicted….
I felt… Damned.
By Christians.
By God.
God-damned.
Literally.
And… that’s a horrible feeling. Especially for someone like me… who had compared myself favorably to other Christians for my whole life….
Suddenly… my Sin… my ugliness… my filth… my unholiness… was readily apparent.
To me.
To God.
And… I felt… must certainly be clearly visible to everyone else.
I felt lucky I wasn’t flayed…. Burned…. Crucified….
How could I ever be loved…? By my wife…. By my self…. By anyone who ever found out…. By God…. And… certainly never by such flawless flippin’… self-serving… self-righteous… hypocrites….
So… I decided… I would never give any of them the chance…. To ridicule me….
I knew….
I didn’t need any help.
I was guilty.
My eyes had been opened. I saw myself for whom I always was…. For whom… I always… would be….
Now… and ever more….
Eternally….
Bereft….
I felt like crawling into a hole. So… mentally… and emotionally… I did.
#
So… we Christians say that God is Love…. Incomprehensible…. All-abiding…. Love….
And… we sing that they will know we are Christians by our love….
But… then… we spew hate….
Divine Wrath….
Our wrath….
My wrath….
While we claim… we represent… God….
While I claim… I represent… God….
Divine Love….
Divine Wrath….
Divine Retribution….
Co-mingled….
Like the Blood of my Savior….
Can’t we comprehend….
Can’t I comprehend….
That our hypocrisy….
That my hypocrisy….
Confuses… God’s children… whom he is trying to save…? Confutes…. Obfuscates…. Misrepresents…. Undermines…. God’s… message… to mere mortals.
I am shattering the illusion of Love….
I make my Savior gorgeous face… ugly… when I display my own wrath…. My own rage…. And… call that… Divine Love….
Maybe that’s why Jesus got disgusted with the filth and disease of the doctors who washed their hands of their responsibilities to the poor…. To the dirty…. To the despised….
Maybe that’s why Jesus… the Great Physician… decided to hang out his shingle… choose to hang out… to associate… to eat… with the ritually impure… the ceremonially defiled… the unclean… who knew… they needed to be cleansed….
Who accepted that they needed to be healed….
Who recognized they were Spiritually sick….
Steeped in Original and unoriginal Sin….
So… having been on that spit…. Having felt spitted and spat upon…. Having witnessed the vindictive Wrath of the ungodly Goody-goodies…. Those who claim to fear God… and vow to spew the venom of their fear-filled god…. I feel like I must ask: How can Christians who spew such hatred expect anyone on the other end of those words to hear… God’s Love…? Do we not drown out God’s message with our relentless droning…? Continually pounding our War Drums…?
I say that in love….
And… I say… sometimes… “love” is inconvenient….
And sometimes… some of us… aren’t able to express our “love” in ways that is intelligible to other people that we claim we love…. But… that never seems to stop us from expressing our heartfelt feelings…. Sometimes violently.
I wasn’t externally violent. But… if I’m truthful… with myself… internally I was. Emotionally. I beat myself up pretty badly. And… I’m sure some of my self-loathing must have sloshed over the brim of my cup.
My cup runneth over.
With wrath….
Sometimes… love seems terrible.
And… sometimes… acts of true love… are intangible.
#
#
I know I can’t speak for my wife; she’s dead.
I mean… maybe she didn’t remember…. Maybe the anesthesia gave her amnesia….
I sure hope so.
But I doubt it.
She wasn’t asleep….
Conscious sedation is the technical term.
But whatever she thought….
Whatever she felt….
She never said.
She never spoke about any of it. Not out loud….
She kept her feeling inside.
Suppressed them.
Repressed them.
So… I don’t know….
Whether she ever thought about… that day….
About that child….
About the whole hellish deal….
The whole hellish ordeal….
She never said…. Anything….
About any of it….
And… I never asked….
I just grieved….
For myself…. For what I’d lost….
Tried to bury my guilt.
Over my child.
That I killed.
And never even buried.
I just shut my mouth.
Tried to shut my mind.
And that didn’t work.
#
Another thing…. While I’m confessing…. Trying to get things off my guilty conscience….
I never even knew the sex of that fetus. That child.
I never bothered to check the sex… of my baby….
Because I was scared….
Because… I never cared….
Not really….
Didn’t matter….
Or… at least I thought it didn’t….
Not at the time, at least….
I didn’t even have enough respect for that child I had helped to create… through my lust… to bury… her…. I just my daughter be thrown away…. Like trash…. Like garbage…. Detritus. Offal.
Nothing more to me than Flotsam….
Jetsam….
And… Jizzum….
Shipwrecked sex.
“Clean-up on Aisle 3!”
Guess I should have used a condom.
Pregnancy is… at least in some sense… a venereal disease…. And… thus… preventable.
Through the proper application of rubbers. And plastics. And other moldy things.
Ideas.
Attempting to mold and shape the results after the event seems to be a far less effective strategy.
In retrospect.
#
That’s cold. I know.
Now… I know…. The TRUTH!!!
That child of my loins….
That child of my lust….
That… living… child.
Our child….
MY child….
My daughter….
My daughter I never knew…. Because I never cared…. To know….
Until I met her… face to face….
In whatever….
In wherever….
THAT place… was…. That place is….
But at least, now I know.
#
#
XIII. Of Blinders, Blind Men and Blind Guides.
#
#
Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but to me, abortion is a deeply personal issue. At least that’s my personal experience.
What politics seems to miss… from both sides… is the transcendent personal horror of abortion. The tremendous sense of personal loss. The feelings of guilt. Of shame. Of humiliation. The emotional holocaust.
Loss of self-esteem.
Loss of self-love.
Loss of selfless love.
Loss of self.
Loss of life.
Abortion is a horrible thing: a decision of utter desperation. And… I feel… personally… that such horror… such abject personal despair… should never be politicized.
But… at least for me… even the abject horror of abortion may have some kind of silver lining…. When hard lessons are learned… and become a part of our very fiber…. Our being….
To me… that abortion… was a revelation… about myself…. About my values…. About my relationship…. About my marriage…. About my beliefs…. About my Spirituality…. About my self….
#
Maybe I should at least attempt to explain.
Christian Marriage is supposed to be a vehicle for raising Godly children. Not simply a means to an end. Not even a mechanism to find self-fulfillment.
But… Christian Marriage is ultimately… ideally… at its core… at its heart… and in our souls… supposed to mean more than that. Christian Marriage is supposed to be about sacrifice. Of self. To God.
Christian Marriage is supposed to be a journey two people embark on together in love towards a common goal. Towards Unity. Towards Oneness. At least ideally….
And ours wasn’t….
Ideal. In any way. Except… superficially. To others….
And we both… KNEW… that….
We both realized that we were growing apart. Falling apart. Being pushed apart. And… pushing apart. Existing independently…. Occupying the same residence…. Instead of truly living… together….
Instead of loving one another.
Instead of creating a new life… together….
Essentially our marriage became an object lesson in marriage equality: we seemed to spend all of our time fighting for our independence… working towards a feeling of mutual equality… but… in the process… we became relationally aloof…. Emotionally detached…. Spiritually separated….
Separate… but equal….
And we both believed that was just the way it was….
The way it always would be….
The way we were….
That we couldn’t do anything about it….
Because that’s the way we wanted it to be….
The way we wanted to be….
And… then… we gave up….
Or rather, I gave up. I wimped out.
Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.
I can’t speak for my wife. But… I took the path of least resistance…. I chose the easy path…. The path of blaming anything and everything… and everyone… else….
The pathetic path of victimhood….
You see… I saw myself as the victim….
I blamed circumstances….
I blamed my life….
I blamed my wife….
After that abortion… I saw her… chose to see her… view her… as an object. Like a sports car commercial on television. As something… once valuable… but now… tarnished…. Blemished…. Blighted…. Ugly…. Tainted….
So… I flipped the scenario. Change the channel. Turned her off. Because… now… she turned me off.
I suppose our lives fit perfectly into our consumer-driven ideal of a perfectly disposable society….
I didn’t want her….
And… she didn’t want me….
I didn’t trust her….
And… she didn’t trust me….
She didn’t want to have sex….
And I… did….
I mean… I didn’t want to want to, but I did….
I suppose I could blame raging hormones….
I suppose I could blame Testosterone Storm….
But… I didn’t….
I blamed her….
Especially during episodes of elevated sexual appetite associated with Testosterone Storm.
And… I’m sure… that must have scared her. Scarred her.
I know I shouldn’t have blamed her…. Now.
I know I never should have blamed her. Now.
I know I should have known that then. Now.
Maybe I should have blamed myself. I don’t honestly know. But I do know… that I… should have taken responsibility for myself…. My contributions…. My desires. My choices….
Instead of constructing walls to protect my fragile ego….
Instead of walling out my wife….
I should have held myself accountable…. For not being a good leader…. For not being a good enough leader…. For my family….
And… looking back…. I certainly wasn’t kind. Certainly not kind enough…. Not understanding enough…. Not loving…. Not enough.
Not nearly enough….
Not considering the circumstances….
Consider this: I fucked my wife. Literally.
I didn’t give getting what I wanted at that moment a second thought. I felt entitled.
I mean… my actions never threaten everything I always wanted. Everything I had worked all of my life to accomplish. To achieve. To earn. My impetuous, imperious actions never imperiled my dream.
I threatened hers….
I threatened her….
My wife. Whom I claimed to love….
And I blamed her. For being weak. So that I didn’t have to blame myself….
Because… she threatened… my self-esteem. My ego….
See… I was looking out.
For myself.
My fragile ego.
Not looking in.
At my heart.
I should have been honest. With myself.
And I wasn’t.
#
But… before I made that choice… to abrogate my responsibility to my wife… and… my child… I deceived myself…. I lied to myself…. And I knew it.
And… all of that… led to our… misconception….
Still… I convinced myself that I couldn’t stop her…. That I shouldn’t stop her…. That I had no say…. No choice…. It was all hers…. All her.
A woman’s choice was all that mattered….
But really…. In reality…. I never even tried…. I just shifted the blame onto her…. Took the bait…. Told myself it was her decision…. Not mine…. That I really had no say….
Her life….
Her dream….
Her decision….
I shouldn’t interfere….
So… I didn’t interfere….
And… I didn’t talk…. I kept my thoughts to myself….
Even convinced myself I was being a good… caring… husband….
I convinced myself. That I had no rights to impose my desires on her body… except… of course… my conjugal rights….
But… in my heart of hearts… I knew….
And… that knowledge killed me…. Slowly…. From the inside….
And… my wife must have known, too.
Because she died….
And our relationship died….
And… we just let it happen….
And… like I said… abortion is nothing more than a symptom of a moribund relationship….
And… Death….
Darkness.
#
#
XIV: Impure Desperation.
#
#
In my experience… at least in my life… Abortion… is a Doorway unto Death…. Abortion is a desperate act taken by desperate people who feel they have no other viable options. Abortion is a desperate choice: who lives; and who dies. Desperate mothers feel that they must choose between their babies’ lives… and their own….
And… that is what they are told…. By seemingly well-meaning… and well-informed… medical professionals….
Reminds me of my own indoctrination….
What I have said may seem harsh to many. Maybe even to too many…. But… for anyone who knows… it’s nothing more than the pure… unmitigated… TRUTH….
I will say only one more thing about religious… stuff: I sincerely believe in life after Death. I know it exist. Because I’ve experienced… forgiveness….
#
#
XV. Of Damn Lies, the Damned Liars Who Tell Them and Damning Statistics.
#
#
Now…. I expect that what I’m about to say will make an enormous number of people enormously uncomfortable. Enormously sad. Enormously mad. Some people will be shocked. Some people stunned. Some people will judge. And some people will simply dismiss my statements out-of-hand as the calloused musings of a Madman….
Some people will feel disrespected… and… in return… diss me…. Without ever listening. Without ever trying… to understand.
Some will be sorely temped to stop reading…. But… I encourage each of you to continue…. To finish….
And some… will know… that every word I speak… is absolute… unabridged… unmitigated… incontrovertible… TRUTH…. Those folks will know that I’m talking the talk only possible by someone who has walked the walk…. Those who have descended into that dark… personal Hell of his or her own making…. Packed to bleeding brim with demons of his or her own construction…. Surmounted those unquenchable flames of that purifying fire…. Only to emerge from the cracked crucible… scared… scarred… and sacred…. Burned to a crispy.
Then… they will know…. Because they have experienced… the Pit of Despair….
A lot of people say a lot of things about abortion.
That abortion is a woman’s choice.
That abortion is murder.
But… for the mother… and the father… abortion… is an act of desperation….
Abortion… cannot occur with wreaking carnage.
Destruction. Desolation. Dissipation.
And the carnage… the destruction… the desolation… doesn’t end whenever that pregnancy is terminated…. Because abortion isn’t about an unwanted fetus: abortion is about a broken relationship. Abortion is a symptom of a relational disease…. Of a decadent… dying… decaying… relationship….
And… abortion isn’t an end.
No.
Abortion is a beginning….
Abortion is a doorway…. Unto Death…. Into Death….
And… the death that ensues is infectious: it goes on… and on… and on… and on… and on….
And nobody ever tells you that…. Nobody ever tells you the truth…. Nobody ever informs you of what happens once the afterbirth has been pulled free from the womb…. And… thrown out. Disposed of.
And nobody ever cares….
About your baby….
About you….
About how you feel….
Really feel….
In your mind…. In your heart…. In your soul…. In your conscience….
When that baby’s… your baby’s… heart stops beating… your own heart stops beating…. Stops feeling…. Becomes cold and hard….
At least for a while.
And… nobody cares….
Because… at that moment… you… and your baby… become statistics….
And nobody cares about statistics….
Statistics are objects….
All most people think about is politics….
All most people care about is politics….
People care about subjects… not objects….
About people. Not statistics.
Living. Breathing. People.
And… power…. Because politics is really about power…. And that’s what people represent to politicians….
Power…. Control….
Disconsolate mothers are discharged. Dismissed. And disconcerted fathers are disregarded.
And… dead babies are thrown out in the trash….
Or salvaged for useful parts…. Research…. Money….
Dead babies and disconsolate mothers become statistics as soon as they are no longer paying patients. Abortion is nothing more than a business…. A ruthless business.
And disconcerted fathers…?
Were never more than a fucking afterthought to begin with…. Just like the afterbirth…. Even less…. A mere genetic necessity…. Sperm donors…. Some fleshy appendage pre-appendectomy…. A hunk of meat. A bit of fun… before the cold… hard… fact… of pregnancy…. In the final equation… the male is nothing, if not generally meaningless…. Meaning his opinion generally means less than nothing….
And… the babies…? Well… the babies have absolutely no say. Because aborted babies are dead….
Because dead babies don’t vote….
Besides… dead babies know no guilt…. Know no shame…. Have no feelings…. Show no emotions….
Dead babies feel no pain….
Dead babies have no heartache…. Know no heartbreak….
Dead babies are no longer a headache….
Dead babies no longer exist….
Not on our televisions….
Not in our magazines….
Not on our Social Media….
Not in our Social Conscience….
Not in the real world….
Not in our real lives….
Only in our dreams….
And often… not even there….
But… disconsolate mothers and fathers do….
Feel pain. Guilt. Shame. Heartache.
Because we live on…. Limp along…. In some sense of the word…. Life….
And… no one thinks about the real victims… of abortion….
I know….
#
A lot of people say a lot of things about abortion.
And many… maybe most… of those people… speak lies….
Maybe some sincerely believe in what they are saying. Believe they are being objective.
Even helpful.
But… they aren’t.
They’re really doing nothing more than reciting talking points that someone else made up and drilled into their narrow-minded little brains. Unknowing… uncaring… soulless people seeking political purchase to further advance their political purpose….
And… that’s… what defines… their conception… and their misconception… regarding… and disregarding… life….
So… when people scream insults at one other with vehemence… extreme prejudice… while claiming the moral mountaintop and proclaiming LOVE!!! When one side screams “It’s a woman’s choice!” and the other screams back “It’s MURDER!!!”… Brother and Sister… I’m here to tell you… it’s both….
And… I’m also here to warn you… that the carnage… and the desolation… doesn’t end… whenever that pregnancy is terminated….
No. The inexpressible… inescapable… inconsolable… pain is just beginning….
And it goes on… and on… and on… and on… and on…. And nobody ever tells you that…. Nobody ever tells you the truth….
And nobody… ever… cares….
About your baby….
About you….
Or about how you really feel….
All they care about… is politics….
All they really think about… is politics….
No one thinks about the real victims… of abortion….
I know….
Been there. Done that. Not good.
Definitely… not good….
#
#
XVI. Ridiculous Remorse.
#
#
I stared into her bright… questioning… eyes….
I stood… stunned…. Dazed…. Confused….
Ridiculous….
Guilty….
Shamed….
Ashamed….
Full of remorse….
Silent….
When she stared into my eyes….
When she stared into my soul….
As I looked into her eyes… I cried….
I feebly tried to form phrases…. To explain….
Say something…. Anything….
“I…. I…. I…. I…. I…. I….”
I failed….
#
Then… suddenly… a flash of insight….
I….
That was it. That was all I had.
I….
Nothing more….
The sum total of my “successful” existence… was… I….
#
Suddenly… I realized… I had lost all belief… in the sanctity of life….
I objectified my child… just as I objectified my wife… and everything else… in my so-called “life”….
Suddenly… I realized… I loved nothing but myself…. My life.
And then… I realized… I didn’t even love that….
I couldn’t.
Not now.
Not. Any. More.
#
#
XVII. Hapax Legomenon.
#
#
And… I suppose… that… brings me back… to this….
Flother.
I know. I keep saying that. Word.
Like… it’s important.
Like I’m some kind of damned fool.
And… maybe I am. A fool.
But… now I understand… that I’m certainly not damned…. At least not by my daughter. And not by God….
Maybe I should explain. The significance. Of flother.
Flother is a hapax legomenon. Guess I’ve said that before. Means… unique. In the sense that the word only occurs one time…. Guess I’ve said that before, too.
Flother… for instance… means snowflake. And… each snowflake… is unique. Even though each snowflake is composed of nothing more that frozen water. A phase change.
Every snowflake is made up 100% of the same… identical… substance….
And… every snowflake forms a six-pointed star. Precisely. A shared pattern. Every one.
Yet… each snowflake… no matter how much it might resemble every other snowflake superficially… is unique. Each six-pointed star… is spectacular… in its attention to detail. In its differentiation from every other shimmering star. In it differences. In its uniqueness.
Flother.
And… each of us is like that. Similar. Yet… different.
Unique.
Each baby.
Each mother.
Each father.
Each… and every… human… born… and unborn….
Alive.
Dead.
Or… yet to be conceived.
Each of us… even identical twins… even octuplets… are unique….
Even though we share the same number of chromosomes. And 99.9% the same DNA…. And even though our mitochondrial DNA is passed on only from our mothers… and even more highly conserved….
Each of us is different.
Each of us is unique.
None of us will ever be truly copied. Not even as clones….
When we are gone… however we go… something much more important than the Dodo Bird or the Tasmanian Wolf… is lost… forever….
Yet… on this Earth… each one of us… is transient….
Each of us… is in some symbolic way… a snowflake. Each of us… is… flother. Never to be repeated. A snowflake hovering transfixed in a nanosecond of SpaceTime… dangling… betwixt Heaven and Hell.
#
#
XVIII. Like Clockwork.
#
#
Bear with me. Another aside… that hopefully will aid to understanding….
#
Most people are blissfully unaware that A Clockwork Orange was published in two versions. The American version… the one Stanley Kubrick used as the basis of his screenplay… and the English version….
The American version ends after chapter 20.
The English version… the complete version… continues… through chapter 21.
The last chapter is left out of the American story. The American version of the story ends with Punishment. Pain. Retribution….
The American version of the story is more… puritanical….
The American version of the story… omits… Redemption….
#
#
XIX. True Understanding.
#
#
Then… she turned. Looked into my eyes.
She stood there. Silent.
And then… she smiled….
A smile that said: “It’s OK. I’m OK. I understand….” And many more things….
A smile that said: “I know. I know you. I forgive you.”
A smile that said: “I love you….”
A smile that said: “Father!”
#
BOOM!!!
That smile…. My daughter’s smile…. My daughter… I never knew… her smile… hit me. Right where it hurt.
I was… emasculated. Castrated. Impotent.
Accountable. Responsible. Reprehensible.
And finally… I blamed… myself….
As I always had…. In my heart of hearts. In secret.
Successfully secreted. Deep. Within.
I accepted full responsibility…. All of the accountability that I had previously worked so hard to avoid….
Finally I found what I’d always been seeking….
Acceptance…. Love…. Affirmation…. Forgiveness.
My daughter… whom I never knew… loved me…. Loves me…. Forgives me…. Embraces me…. And… is in a far better place that I could ever have provided for her…. Could ever even have imagined. For her.
The perfect place….
As I stood there… staring into my daughter’s eyes… our daughter’s bright… blue… eyes… I wished my wife could have felt some of that… profound… intimacy…. That… compassion…. That… forgiveness…. That… love…. Before she died….
I hoped my dead wife could feel… would feel… our daughter’s… and our God’s… eternal love…. Forgiveness.
And… somehow… at that moment… I knew… she had…. I know… she did…. I know… she does….
#
#
XX. The Harsh Reality.
#
#
I know I said that dead people are dead. And… that’s what I sincerely believe. Dead people… even dead babies… don’t somehow magically or mystically transform into angels. The dead aren’t lounging around somewhere in Heaven. The way I understand it… nothing substantial happens until after the Second Coming….
Would certainly be nice to tell you something different.
Would certainly be nice to believe something different.
But… I’ll simply stick with what I believe Scripture says. Sorry.
So then… how can I say that I know my wife feels Forgiveness…?
Let me give this a shot.
Eternity… can be a bit hard to understand…. Hard to imagine. Definitely hard to explain. So… maybe I should just say… that Eternity… at least as I understand it… is a very, very long time. Long enough that past… and present… and future… all time… lose all meaning….
#
I knew that she had felt… experienced… forgiveness… not the kind you get from eating some cracked cracker-flat unleavened wafer and drinking some kind of divine grape-flavored Kool-aid….
Or even Welch’s Concord Grape Juice.
I knew I had.
I know I have.
And… that knowledge… opened my eyes…. Enabled me to stare into the stone-cold abyss… the harsh reality of my life….
#
What harsh reality…?
I loved myself… my lifestyle… my dreams… my future… much more than I loved my child….
And so did my wife….
The consequence of my blind self-love…?
In my mind….
At the time….
She wasn’t a child….
She wasn’t a life….
She was a choice….
I bought the lie….
My wife bought the lie….
We bought the lie….
We chose to see what we wanted to see rather than what we knew to be the truth.
We wimped out… rather than searching for Truth.
We sought convenience. We bought complacency. And getting caught up in our own lives… how we chose to define “success”… we chose to become complicit….
True love is never complacent….
True love is never complicit….
But… true love can be inconvenient….
Very inconvenient….
And… I realized… as I looked into her bright blue eyes… that… I still love myself….
#
#
XXI. The Not-so-Grand Finale.
#
#
As I stood…. There…. Enshrouded in the ebbing… flowing… ivory mist…. Awash in white light….
As I stared into the beautiful… pristine… crystalline… pure… peaceful eyes of my daughter I never knew….
As I considered her blissful smile….
As I pondered the serene setting in which she resides….
Bright. White. Piercing. Light.
Penetrating….
Pleasing….
Illuminating….
Effulgent….
Cleansing….
Bleaching out every stain….
As I stood there… staring… I realized that initially… I had felt hunted…. Haunted…. By ghosts…. By demons…. Of my own making…. Hidden in the cracks… the crevices… the shadows of doubt… in my mind…. But… never… really… there….
See…. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist…. Focus on my shortcomings…. My failures…. My embarrassments…. My insecurities….
I guess maybe I had felt hunted all along…. Been haunted… all… along….
Unresolved issues can have immense power over a man’s mind sometimes….
Finally… as I confronted my demons… I came to understand that I was truly successful….
That… I… am… truly… successful.
That finally… I felt… finished…. Complete…. Whole…. Because… I felt wholly forgiven….
Though not necessarily Holy….
Certainly not anything close to saintly.
I was good enough…. I am good enough….
And… I realized… wide-eyed… yet reluctantly….
Remorsefully….
That the life my wife and I destroyed… when we walked through that throng of protesters… and into that Abortion Clinic… on that dreary… cold… harsh… Winter day… was not that of our unloved… and unknown child….
Now I understand that we didn’t destroy one life.
We destroyed two.
The lives we destroyed… were our own….
#
#
Τετέλεσται·
#
#

Things My Father Is Teaching Me: Dealing with Dementia… and Other Important Lessons in Life….

I am posting this for two reasons: as an update for anyone who knows my dad, but also as a discussion of some of the therapy modalities that are available for people with dementia and other impairments of memory, etc.

Often we feel sorry for our loved ones and want to “help” them by doing everything for them and thus relieving them of the burden, but what that actually does is accelerate the process of loosing function when we do not allow them the opportunity to think and try to do things for themselves. That accelerates their loss of skills.

We are spending a lot of time reinforcing “orientation” to him. Normally we are oriented x 4: person, place, time and situation. He is oriented x 1: he usually knows who he is. Sometimes he is even confused about that. But… with repeated reinforcement, he does better. He is brightest in the morning when he wakes up, and less bright when he is tired and in the afternoon. He is frankly confused after sunset and especially in the evening when he is tired and getting sleepy. He does not know where he is or the year or why he is where he is… but he knows that he is not at home. When he IS at home, sometimes he does not know he is there. In the morning he knows he has two sons and can sometimes say our names. He does not recognize me. When he is tired and it’s dark, he doesn’t recognize my mom. When he says “Mother”… he means HIS mother. During the morning and early afternoon and evening when he is not too tired, he asks where his wife has gone. At night, he talks about Mama… and uses different word patterns. He remembers his brothers and sisters, but not his children… and often not his wife…. At night he has no idea he has children and confuses his brothers and sisters for his own children. He confuses the idea of father: his being a father with his not really having known his father because his father died when he was very young. During the morning he can tell about how his brothers helped his mother raise him. At night he cannot. He hallucinates and delivers rambling soliloquies. He also develops word-finding difficulties. But on formal recall testing… he had excellent immediate recall… so there is something there to work with to reinforce and develop.

There are two aspects of dealing with dementia and how WE respond is very important. HIS response is “normal” for his situation. If I get upset because my own father doesn’t recognize me, then I am not going to be able to make decisions that benefit HIM. He needs reinforcement to remind him of what the world he lives in NOW looks like.

My dad also has Macular Degeneration, which compounds the issues because he cannot see well. Essentially he sees in splotches and even those splotches are blurry and distorted. He also has formed visual hallucinations and scintillating scotomata (specks of flashing lights). Because of his dementia, he cannot differentiate between what he sees and what he hallucinates. He also has Otosclerosis (hardening of his hearing) and misinterprets sounds… as well as having auditory hallucinations at times.

Now… let me try to explain his World….

“Reality” looks like a Van Gogh or Impressionist painting to him. But the visual hallucinations look perfectly real. “Reality” is filtered via his faulty retinas…. But his visual hallucinations are formed in the parts of his brain that ordinarily interpret vision… because they are not getting used… because of his faulty retinas…. So… they fill up with chemicals… and spill chemicals… that trigger PERFECT pictures…. And… he doesn’t have the memories and reasoning abilities to figure out that the Impressionist art is real and the real is imaginary…. And… then people… some who claim to be people he knows… but who don’t LOOK like the people they claim to be… because they are older… and their features are missing or distorted… try to tell him that they are important people in his life… and that what he sees as real… really isn’t… but they don’t look like who they say they are… or even like humans at all possibly…. Well… no wonder he gets confused. Especially when he is tired and taxed.

The best answer that we can come up with is to try to constantly reinforce where he is, the day and date, and the situation. We can see a flicker of a light. It’s like a spark when you’re trying to build a campfire. This may turn out to be a very positive experience. If nothing else, it’s helped us define a trajectory moving forward into the future.

One more thing…. When a doctor or nurse or therapist asked your loved one with memory issues a question… don’t be too eager to jump in and answer. Don’t correct the answer. Not allowing the examiner to examine… will lead to missing significant findings… and likely impede the care of your loved one…. The answer isn’t all the examiner is looking for: they are looking at the processing as well. Your loved one also needs to exercise their mind as much as possible. Being patient can be frustrating.

God is good.

Creativity… and CompartmentaliZZZZing!

I posted earlier about Compartmentalizing….

The Three Bs….

Follow-up….

My dad fell and broke his hip yesterday. Had hip replacement surgery today.

I compartmentalized….

If you look… observantly… you will see people compartmentalizing in times of extreme stress….

We humans focus on unimportant… or even frivolous things…. We obsess about meaningless minutia… in the grand scheme of things….

Like the food for the family to be served at a funeral. Who sent flowers. Who visited. Anything. Everything. To distract us from our grief….

We very rarely see out families… especially extended families… except at family events…. As we get older… those events tend to trend towards funerals…. Or hospitals….

Grief is a very strong emotion. And a very strong driver of human… experience…. Of human… direction….

Grief is VERY strong. Grieg affects us. Grief effects us. Grief changes us.

Because grief is strong enough to lift us up… out of our rut…. Out of our comfort zone….

Grief is strong enough… to change our lives….

Even when no one else notices. Even when no one else knows….

Even in our shame.

Grief and shame tend to go together.

Even when our grief… and our shame… are internal. Even when all of our scars are invisible to prying eyes… because they’re on the inside.

Compartmentalizing can be good; or… compartmentalizing can be bad.

Compartmentalizing can form an eschar. A truly hideous scar that prevents any real healing. Then… the wound needs to be debrided. The dead… corrupting… tissue… needs to be removed…. So that REAL healing can occur.

That’s what God is Good is really about. Examining hidden wounds…. Debridement….

My Daughter I Never Knew, too.

Don’t forget to examine your heart.