The Shape of the Human Condition


Artwork by Gene Duplanter

THE DULMEN

By:

Steve Erdmann

Steve Erdmann – Copyright  – C – 2021

A novel of and written in the 1970s

Another version of this article can be seen at https://ufospotlight.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/futuristic-realities/

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Chapter One

The Dream World

Martin Salisbury was a stalwart man, in his early thirties by the standards of the society in which he lived, rather tall, rugged, and dark-complexed with a bronze look about his physique.  His face, the look of pure, untouched youth as if the purity of the honey of wild bees along with the scent of naivete’ as a graduate of the Parthenogenetic College of Imperial Dulmania.   He was a ‘Dulmen’—a rather muscular specimen of the one world government.  In his deep-red cape, knee high bronze sheen guards, the Dulman accentuated his uniform even more with his bold stance.  The metallic sheen of his metal fibered clothing outlined well the emblem of the Dulmen government___ a sword crossing a nude female body in a reclining position, leg raised, knee bent; around this curious X was a striking 3-dimensional artwork of flames and famous individuals of the Dulmen history—a history that was so extravagant and inclement as the fury implanted upon the emblem itself, a history largely hidden and inconsistent to any student that might be fully Dulmen.

From Ambrose Hill he could see Maylar City below—a metropolis of gleaming synthetic steel-like tubes, a crystal-clear diamond dome of a glass-like appearance containing tube-shaped structures 2000 feet or more into the air, cris-cross lines creating a patchwork of squares here and there and ant-size dots steadily moving along their lengths: the speedway and their “Zot” Cars, miniature mobile-homes-laboratories built into cozy traveling vehicles; the ‘Zot’ Cars ran on pure atomic energy.

Here and there was a glitter, a gleam would shoot upward from the complex of metal and diamond inside their Bubbles (smooth curved Domes as if growing out of the ground and containing the uniform and expensive homes of the residents).   Inside the Domes could be seen tall, stately mansions of Gothic-type architecture with many steps leading to Parthenon temples and Gothic forums, serenely constructed columns and spirals stood independently as if photographed from an ancient Roman city; flawless silver-like parabolic shaped constructions as long, low-radiused bulges of metal coming up from the ground; towering cubical superstructures of almost pure transparency; the ascending circular-levels of the ‘Arena’ distanced above each other.  One could also see the crowds of people as floating specks using  their transport aides— personal aerial transports mechanisms attached to their waists.

In other parts of the city could be seen two needle-type electrode-anode superstructures jutting crooked and jerking bolts of electricity between the two.   These Domes were miles in radius almost nudging Ambrose Hill, and they held the city in a state of controlled air-conditioning and seasonal regulation and adjustment.

Martin took a deep breath of the crisp fresh air.  He smiled smugly, then grabbed his cape and briskly swung around and marched into an archway-opening in the side of the cliff.

“Ground level please!”  he snapped at the attendant.  Attendants were necessary for their auto-air elevators, if only for policing purposes.  The Department of Welfare  had a high standard of vigil.

It had been a few hours since Martin had been released from his “perimeter of learning”  at the University in Zerok, a sister city of the capitol Mylar.  From the apex of Ambrose Hill, he could survey his homeland terrain like an inheritor of a vast fortune examining delicate fruit to be plucked at his whim.  The enclosure of the elevator subdued his passion somewhat, but his spirits rose to their previous height of the excitement when he was confronted with the huge cinemascope Viewing Screen  before him; an ingenious way of permitting the passengers to watch their ascent and descent as if they were virtually “falling”  or  ‘‘ascending’’ along the side of the hill (elevator was not the only mode of travel in Dulmania, but it was shared with several other modes that could have accidents and harm).

The cold, mechanical stare of the attendant was commonplace here in Dulmania—for years, human mice had been stimulated to do tricks and feats in their quest for a bit of cheese:  now mankind had become the mice and his blind hopes and vain aspirations had become the cheese.  

“Thank you.”  Martin looked quickly from side to side as he stepped out of the elevator chamber onto the smooth pavement street which led straight to the city several miles away.  A Zot Car of the Department of Welfare swung abruptly in front, its sliding panel moved rapidly (sometimes the  Dissolve Mode  would  be used and an opening would magically appear), revealing the opening to the vehicle as several descending steps permitted Martin easier passage.  The panel slid shut.  The Zot Car practically made a 90-degree turn and shot down the stretch of highway towards the domed city several miles away.

Before the mighty hulk of the city, all terrestrial creation seemed to bow in ignoble servility!

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Chapter Two

The Brain

“Martin! Martin Salisbury,” the voice was almost tearfully happy.  An elderly, plump, ruddy-faced man came around his desk, a shining semi sphere suspended a foot or so above the floor, revealing an indented writing panel on one side.

Martin thought it somewhat comical how one looked as if he were sitting in midair aside one of these desks for one was suspended by scientifically controlled jets of air and laser light from vents in the floor as they cushioned one’s body in the air at various heights. This was one’s ‘chair.’

The ruddy-faced man grasped the young lad’s hand: “Martin,” he said again, this time with the concern of a loving father, “It’s good to see you.  Please sit next to me.”    He led the fellow by the hand a few feet to his desk and pressed a button.  Martin smiling broadly was magically elevated into the air.  The gentleman pushed another button and Martin floated within pleasant conversation distance.

“Uncle Redress— my friend —”  Martin had wet drops of moisture forming in his eyes.  He tried to hold back the emotion of tears.  Their hands met — they spoke no more for a moment for fear of bursting into raw emotion.   After a moment of calm, Uncle Redress spoke.

“Well Martin, tell me, have you really graduated from the Institution of Truth or are you still playing hooky with lush damsels of the Aroian Palaces?”

The remark immediately brought a recurring reminiscence consisting of mosaic gardens, dogwood trees and exotic scrubs, cool, refreshing fountains of sparkling water, giggling adolescence, all geared to counter what fears and frustrations an aristocrat may have in his  bustling paradise.

Martin noticed the obvious humor and laughed, “No, Uncle,  your Martin has finally graduated—graduated!”   Martin slapped his hands almost fanatically on his legs with a sharp snap.  “Uncle, you’ll not know the exhilaration I feel – like – like…”

“Like a superman?”  It was a musing remark from his uncle.

“Yes!  Like a Superman.  I am a Superman!”   He looked thoughtfully at his Uncle and leaned forward to him, “We are Supermen!”

“Right my son, right.”  His Uncle reached into the storage boxes of his desk-sphere and pulled out a capsule of Z-BR8, a drug of mind-bending proportions comparable in utility to the cigarettes smoke several hundred years ago.   First there had been the hallucinogens, then Peso Drin, Cobanarcin, till an altogether different specialty arose when the “drug complex” completely broke down and a policing of all used and registered drugs were quarantined by the Momads of the Kausar Regime which added a special toxin to be sold and exchanged in public consumption.

‘‘Care for one?”

“Yes, thank you,”  Martin responded.

A quick snap of the capsules between the thumb and fingers and the Z-BR8 ingredient was suddenly absorbed into the bodies’ metabolism. It took only a fraction of a second.

“Tell me my loved one, just what do they instruct in those grand halls of teaching today? You know, it’s been over 130 years since I was strolling the great auditoriums and laboratories,”  the uncle’s eyes searched the air longingly as he spoke.  “Ah, thaw’s heaven itself!  Tell me,  please, is Professor Airheart still there?”

Martin was not sure he heard the question correctly for a generation of rewritten history had occurred since his uncle’s attendance at Zerok.

“Uncle!”  Martin chuckled, “That was over hundred and forty years ago,” he sobered for a moment, “Professor Airheart was executed…” Martin quickly caught himself; what a foolhardy mistake—things had changed so much since then, one hundred and forty years, especially in Dulmen schemata, could be considered a long time, many generations!

“Executed!” his uncle thundered. “You are mistaken, my son!” Puzzlement shown all over his face, “Professor Airheart…?”   Anger began to show on the uncle’s face:  “He was one of the greatest political scientists…,”  he stopped for he was overcome with his own emotion.

“Ah uncle let us not argue! It’s my first visit!”

Martin was being gracious indeed.  He could have his uncle jailed for such arrogance.  For a long time, it had been  a teaching of the Dulmen government that the elders did not speak out against  the younger. The youngsters were so much more previous.   All the scientific Mind Control, the Hilam-Hick-8489-Abstraction-Mind-Philosophy  was come of age.   No oldster tasted of such ‘Truth.’   A knowledge explosion had been started without any scheme of where it would lead them, or who would be smashed beneath its crawl as it progressed.  Wisdom and truth, at least that approximation that was deemed coaxial with Dulmen philosophies at that period, came at an earlier age in the Dulmen world – and earlier and earlier.

“I’m sorry! Sorry,”  Uncle Redress lowered his head.

“Indeed,”  Martin replied softly.

Martin reached over to the desk and took another capsule, doing the same as before releasing  the toxin into his body.  He looked rather coolly at this uncle.

“You asked about schooling.  Many things have changed.  Plane A of the early structure of learning has become compressed within a period of several weeks.  As you remember, it took a year or more, “ said Martin.  “They’ve done away with private isolation chambers.  We are now all continued in gravity-free lines forming a ‘hub’ in the air and there are over six hundreds of these levels several miles into the air. This is called a Silo—miles of floating bodies, everyone lined to the ‘Brain,’  the Big Sire, as the students call it.  It resembles nothing of the old system. Plan B: it reaches further. You remember the underground Hyper-Thought-Ocean where some four million minds floated in the electromagnetic fluid for at least three days?  Now, over 60,000,000 –  if need be –  can be passed through in a steady flow.”

A receiver rang, a small red light on the desk-sphere was the only evidence.

‘‘Hello?”  Uncle Redress spoke into the open air.

“Master Arian, Division G-2, wishes to speak to you and Sire Salisbury – both –  at once,” came a clear voice seemingly from midair.  “He will be coming along shortly, please,”  instructed the midair voice.

Martin’s uncle smiled a bit sheepishly when looking back to the young man, and then almost with a sign of inferiority went on to explain, “Master Arian is also a graduate, short one year than yourself, Martin…”

“Yes, I’ve seen him over the years.  I will be happy to confront a fellow student face to face,” confessed Martin.

“As a graduate with honors, Martin, he will soon take my place.”  There was only slight shock to the words of the elderly officiate, for the new structure of government was happening so fast that nothing could surprise them anymore.

“He will direct your office soon?”  asked Martin unnecessarily.  His uncle nodded resolutely.

Within seconds Arian walked into the room.  While all three persons present were dressed in the attire of the ancient Roman warriors of Greece, Martin had been  the only one wearing the full array of leather-like vinyl-atomic-synthesized-breast covering, and plumed gold helmet. Arian and Sire Redress wore more comfortable clothing consisting of sandals, light metal-fibered clothing with the official Dulmen emblem. The clothing design was generally that of ancient Greece – though Martin, or any of the others, would have not  invariably traced clothes to that  time; neither did they know that such a country had once existed!

Martin was now holding his helmet in his lap.  Martin didn’t stand; Arian bowed reverently to Martin.  The young man nodded back.  This much protocol was automatic and honorable as breathing to a Dulmen aristocrat.

Arian Yul was a fair complexed, slender, and broad-shouldered fellow.  When he was a child of three, he had been the pride and joy of his alleged mother.  While his mother had hopes of young Arian becoming an interplanetary pilot in the Dulmen military, Arian had different hopes and expectations. He envied the young bourgeois of the University Forums; these were the reckless and dramatic – ofttimes, violent – protégé’s of the various educational branches of special education.  Some would become highly skilled politicians (after one or two scandals), some great doctors (after a murder or two), and perhaps even a few would aspire to engineers and chemical scientists only (following some form of mass destruction on their part; they would call it evidence of their skill).

But Arian didn’t fail on that point and had claimed several atrocities to his record before graduation from the Dulmen reorientation process—a process that was impregnated into every human creature on the face of the Earth.  The process reached its acme in aristocracy and the demigods where Dulmania only could they give it the official enjoinment and “stamp of approval.”

“Have you informed Martin of the situation yet, Arian?”  the uncle  addressed the co-worker-aristocrat.   He hovered directly in front of the desk where Uncle Redress extended the drawer exposing the stock of Z-BR8 drugs.  Martin took another.  Arian simply ignored them.

“Not as yet,”  Arian began to realize the true purpose of the visit and needed to get back on track with the true sentiments, his face became serious.  He subdued the ‘jets’ beneath him lowering him to the floor, pacing slowly as he spoke.

“Martin, I have a rather weird, complexed story to tell. I don’t really…” his uncle’s eyebrows rose and lowered  “…know how to start…Ah…”  he glanced at Arian “…perhaps because we don’t really know what we’re up against!”

“That’s what we hope to find out!”  Arian added.

Martin noticed the slight confusion and used it as ample opportunity to inject a fresh idea.  ‘‘yes, maybe we would go to a local diner for a lunch.  Perhaps the atmosphere would be more conducive?”

It was obvious that the bulky framed Department Head had no intention of going into deep discourse now.  Perhaps he had more hopes of soliciting the affection of his nephew more appropriately (the latest manufactured replica of Dulmania in human form on public display).

“To the Arena basement?”  asked Uncle Mark Redress with a touch of pleasantry.

“Fine. That sounds nice,” Martin nodded. “but let us walk.  At the Academy we were taught to walk, not for the fact that our physiques thirsted of it, bit out of the tradition of good health.  And we are to walk as the gods we truly are – praise Vera, the heavenly seductress,” he smiled gingerly, “besides, a stroll in this great city would interest me!”

“Swell,” his uncle acknowledged, “we have some great points of interest for such a fine graduate.”   There was a touch of humor.

“Come!” Arian graciously bid them to leave with a polite Julius Caesar-Shakspearian gesture of the hand. 

Through the passageway thy walked, and just as quickly the wall reproduced itself into a solid mass, the same as before.

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Chapter Three

Conspiracy

In full array, the three men briskly walked down the streets of the city, proudly and vainly, as the official gods they claimed.  On their waists they carried small boxes that hummed slightly; these are the sensors  –  a micro spy agency in a box.  Through these little boxes, information was fed to and from a central computer and Informational Brain in the Department of Welfare.   Any detection of human forms and alien agencies following the three man with possible criminal intent would start the detection and then process the information.  It could even smell the aroma of a person within miles, detect their nervous status and, eventually, criminal behavior or intent—then the following  arrest!  There was no predetermined range.

The mechanism worked  in principle of using various sensitive substances and chemical reactions of micro pick-up plates which used electronic modulation of the atomic reactions as recorded and amplified crystal-clean.

(A very simplified example would be the way a sulfur dioxide chemical reaction to wet litmus paper breaking the beam of light to a device recording the intensity of the beam.  Substances of various kinds could be used in various chemical reactions involving an accurate measurement of hundreds of odors.  Dulmen science had refined it a hundredfold to ‘atoms’ being collected in the air for miles and then identified according to their molecular ‘beds’ — if they had highly classified material to discuss, an alarm would sound the minute any trouble was detected, they weren’t taking any chances.)

Martin was seeing a stunning avenue of white, silver, and green; largely fashioned after the architecture of the ancient Romans –  one would think that Martin was on Rome’s Mars Hill but with weird abstractions of the ultramodern  interwoven.  The beast-like statues on each side of the wide expanse of steps leading to the hill that were skirting the entrance of the Department  of Warfare were not lions or bears, but even more grotesque beasts: mutations created in the Dulmen laboratories for battle.   The “Bors,”  they were called, super strong, raging, furious masses of terror; hide thick, strong as steel (yet flesh); jaws as strong as that of a 20-ton steel trap; multiple arms and tentacles with the tensile strength of diamond that would sweep and slash flagitiously.  The Boors, created as a scientists’  vain joke, had become centuries ago an indispensable weapon and had been used by the thousands in battle and herded into conflict to subdue and destroy cities and villages ahead of the on-coming armies.   

The pillars of the complex were made of diamonds from the depths of Jupiter and Mars. The steps were carbon synthetics from Dulmen laboratories as if polished gems fit for a god.

Ahead walked the graceful bodies of the maidens of the city strolled; genetically bred, named after Dulmen goddesses of lust, perfect specimens of female invention—they were totally Dulmen in nature.  Martin watched them as they majestically climbed the stairs into the shadows of the pillars and columns in their thin, transparent robes revealing their nudeness; some carried jars of perfume; some carried exotic drink—they all were meant to adorn the streets of Mylar City.

“I think you’ll enjoy our Arena Pub,”  Uncle Redress informed. “Some of the more noted dignitaries will probably be there.”   He was loosening up quite rapidly as denoted by a hidden smile upon his face.  The three strolled robustly, capes flipping with vigorous rolls of the cloth in the city breeze.   Here, there, the erotic maidens appeared; some childishly laughing as they stood near a well or a fountain or raced around green foliage or trees.   Everything appeared programmed.

It was dusk and golden hues appeared in the sky outside of the domed city which allowed a majestic view of the setting sun.  A flash appeared as Dulmen spacecraft passed silently over the domed city in perfect unison and coordination—small balls of light which suddenly veered in a 90-degree turn, then disappearing at great speed.

The city had begun to light up; fountains were rainbow colors; there were no streetlights—things lit up; a pillar there, a statue here; a tower; an archway; a stainless steel-like structure, a rotundum of many stories high and many hundreds of feet wide, lit up the city at night highlighting  gigantic Dulmen emblems.  People could be seen going up and down the structure, carried by the midair suspension mechanisms seen  as thousands of dots moving uniformly.

If the three aristocrats could have known of previous eras in history, they would have known of an unknown Roman poet of the third century A.D lustfully wrote his verse on the Eve of St. Venus:

So, the petalled crimsons have unveiled their blush,

And a flame of roses breaks from the warm clusters,

The goddess herself has bidden the roses loosen,

The raiment from their maiden buds,

To be naked virgin birds in the fresh daybreak.

But since those millions of passing moments had been so fettered from their senses, they would probably espouse a similar poem of one their contemporary poets, Zol:

Computer quadrant A – strobe, strobe, strobe,

Take all that is within this heart of mine,

And feel the passion rise,

Computer quadrant E – connect, link, charge,

For before the night’s reprieve,

Our lusts will all run dry.

Poems were all usually synchronized with the deranged minds of the Dulmens’  Brain, an insanity that had become conformity and a berserk reasoning that had become the norm.

The men were in active conversation, Arian gesturing quickly with his hands as if in symphonic proportions, a thrust of his hands here and there.  Uncle Redress was more consistent, his hands a steady shaking of his fists.  Martin was a little more than interested in what was being said glancing down and forwards over and over in pensive thought ad serious concern.

(For they were but smothered, mindless creatures, totally under the watchful eye of that largely unseen but forever present Thing that was lurking behind all earthly creation whose astral eyes that treated mundane existence as if cogs in the overall sardonic game.  To see them from the vantage point of our Hidden Jupiter, they are but synthetic manikins on a large chess board of human activity painted with realistic, sweet smiles and ostentatious glares, but nevertheless as empty as the clay and dirt from which mankind was once constructed.   Even their language was styled and put-on.)

The story Martin was hearing unfolded before him was indeed intriguing—-for anyone who was aware of the Dulmen hierarchy  and  its exotic methods of espionage—-for anyone to escape the detection of The Brain  stationed deep within the bowels of the Earth (far below even The Department of Truth, its sister Department of Welfare,  the Thought Police and The Welfare Patrol) was indeed fantastic. Dulmen people were not only watched, but their lives were programmed and computed!

But this is what the indications were: somewhere, somehow, persons unknown has been detected with no electronic linkage whatsoever with the Central Brain.  How startling, for everything had been checked over and over; there were no flaws in the components of the computer; the hanumen monsters which crawled the limbs of the Big Sire reported resoundingly that all was well. The alarm systems were functioning perfectly.  Everything was completely within the prescribed framework built upon Handleson-Berg system of failsafe.

One of the hundreds of new innovations in the Ultra Computer was that of Mean Time to Failure had been reduced to a nominal minimum by self-regulation of all electronic and mechanical parts of The Brain itself.  The whole body of the computer was, in effect, a pulsating, scintillating organism mimicking flesh and blood organisms.  The link-up leads were fashioned much after the nucleotides in the DNA arrangement of the human body; the electronic logic circuitry after the genetic chain that might be found in deoxyribonucleic acid; there were many more comparisons that were numerous and fantastic.

A ride through the computer shafts of the Big Sire was a psychedelic adventure to anyone of a knightlier bent.   A full, three-hour excursion could be made in gravity-controlled projectiles in the shafts traveling through flashing circuitry and shimmering, crawling walls of flesh-like metals and synthetic ‘cells.’   From the middle of a shaft to the end of its radius was one mile:  A multitude of Computer Projectiles  traveled each shaft of the thousands of shafts throughout the computer.

No one knew the exact extent or range of The Brain but the  Brain itself—-this audacity was tolerated only in the fairyland of Dulmenia!

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Chapter Four

Nowhere to Hide

“Just when was the first indication of a conspiracy?” asked Martin, sipping the nectar from the thimble cup.

About them was a rather dreamy scene of flowing curtains and polished metal mobiles and statues of abstract war-gods and lustful goddesses.  Couples and citizens were reclining or seated around transparent tables — all suspended in midair on invisible suspending jets; some were at different levels; some separated by walls of flowing curtains.  A large service bar was to one side, where barely clothed maidens floated to various parts of the room delivering the refreshments.  Behind the service bar was an enormous telescopic view of the inside arena: some of the most degenerate debauchery was going on now in the Circus Maximus.  

‘‘Well, you see, Martin – ah, we can call it a conspiracy – but we don’t know of it as such yet.   All we can say is that these unknown entities – well, they’ve just escaped control, that’s all.”   For a man of almost 200 years of age, Mark Redress spoke with the vibrant manner of a young Mus-chute,  that band of Dulmen soldiers who stormed the hidden cities of the Vars  deep within the mountains of planet Mars.

The Vars were the last of the remaining population of what was once the lower Eastern hemisphere of earth some 1000 years ago who had escaped to Mars for safety.   And while Uncle Redress was somewhat heavy now, there wasn’t an ounce of flesh he couldn’t harden into muscle by tightening of his tendons in his youthful moments.

“Amazing! But why haven’t they been captured – at least one of them?”

Martin expressed a small amount of pique by flexing his fist and elbow on the table.

Arian was sitting cross-legged and in deep seriousness, then he shrugged.  “Could it be incompetence?” he asked.

“Oh wait, my noble friend,” Uncle Redress swiftly informed, “let’s not speculate unnecessarily — you are speaking of the death penalty.”

Death in the kingdom was without hope of immorality.  Only the Dulmen hierarchy had the power of continual existence (or not) of one’s personality being recorded on  Atom Discs  and played into a newborn infant when life was again restored.  There was a slight psychological problem at first, but that was only temporary and Dulmen ingenuity again solved the problem.  This immorality was the only kind offered to those who had lived devoted lives to the Dulmen government  and bestowed upon a person in the name of one or two of the god or goddesses of Dulmen creation.

“It wouldn’t be the first time, dear Arian; though I must admit  it was during the Xerion era that the last traitors were captured.”  Martin paused and gave a slight sneer-like sniff while gazing through the transparent table.   “The fools!  My father spoke of how proud and vain they were while they feverishly worked at building that contrivance that purported to blast Mylar City off the face of the Earth.”

Martin’s vocal cord moved nervously at the utterance of the word father, for Misslou the Great was but a dark void in his memory—- the smile, the looks, the gestures of his father were vivid recollections, but they were cold, empty, almost like spurious food or the feel of a wet tongue against cold metal.  The memories resembled as one viewing a theatrical presentation over the Thought Screen in his father’s lifetime, and it all seemed just as distant.  Martin went on:

“They didn’t realize that they had been watched for over six months – clear on up to the surprise capture.”  Martin summoned for another drink; the baldheaded man behind the bar nodded.

“But you see, Martin, this is so much different.  No one’s attempted anything of the sort. We’ve found no evidence of infiltration.  Sectors A through Q have been completely voided of Specs.”   Uncle Redress went on, wrinkling his forehead in consternation as if to impress the problem upon the young nobleman.

“ I see.  That leaves us without any available data?” asked Martin.

“Just some eyewitness data.”

“And what did it disclose?”

“A variety of individuals. Some elderly; some in youth; at least five altogether.”

“And they were seen only in the sprawling Flats and its Pit Areas, the Outer Cities, Bubble Cities?”  queried Martin.

The Pit and the Outer Cities  were those villages and hamlets outside the Bubble Cities; while these environments were policed regularly and scanned always, there still was a semblance of freedom, often just for the whim of the Dulmen aristocracy.  Mylar police would gather Outer City citizens off the street to erase all control, speak rude and derogatory phrases, and deliberately throw them into a rage, only to kill them on the spot, or arrest them to be used as bait for the events in the Arena where the three men presently had the opportunity to be seated.

The Pit was a multilevel, underground city, sometimes stationed near Outer Cities as an extension.  As one descended through the levels, one also descended the cultural way of lives within  the  subterranean shafts.  Within the bowels of the Earth were some human animals in ghettos that still utilized the homes of the once rich some several hundred years previous, though savage hands and minds plied them to shambles and ruins, some more than others, though by Dulmen standards of its  aristocracy,  the homes were slums.  These cavities became abodes of discarded creatures, while always under strict surveillance, were permitted to exist. One could enter these territories, these lost limits, when fooled that control might seemingly appear lax, but where  laxity never really existed at all.

The ‘Flats’ were miles of nuclear bombed craters and peculiarly rearranged landscape having the appearance of the craters on the Moon.

“Apparently then,”  Martin continued as he adjusts his sandal a notch, “it  is these areas that must be closely watched.”   Martin glanced into the serious faces of the two officiates.  “There are several things we can do.  We must program preliminary tapes into the Central Computer to scan those lower regions more fully.  Then check again the Big Sire to see if any accommodative action was taken,’’ Martin smiled, “ we don’t want to infuriate the intelligence of the Brain, we’ll humbly suggest such, and, depending on this, we may send out patrols of police to those points of suspicion.  From what I access, it doesn’t pose much of a problem.”

The others were obviously more vexed with Martin’s conclusion.  “It’s outrageous Martin!  I have no sympathy for any citizen who would dare to conspire – in anyway – against Dulmen authority,”  Arian expounded.

“And you yourself know how difficult it is to break the Ring of Detection.”

“To do so, one would have to be one of the Hanuman Incubi that crawl in the flesh of the Majesty Brain hidden the god cities.  No one has ever seen them, to my knowledge,” Uncle Redress was trying to  emphatic, “indeed, their specific locations in the computer inner sanctum is unknown”   Mark Redress was silent for a moment; was the young nobleman getting the proper perspective?  “I don’t see how the possibility of Reality Escape could be.”

At the words “reality escape,”  a low clicking could be felt in the back of young Martin’s brain.  He subtly reared his head back, as if drawn from a magnetic to that sound.  Perhaps it was a burst of electrical energy that was activated within the nerine matter of his brain (a common occurrence that was indicative of the detection of the Mighty Sire) to the ruling computer and its eternal vision.  Martin gained his composure without indicating the slight intrusion; one would compare it to it to a hypnotic subject coming out of a session-trance without any awareness of the intervening time lost.

‘‘Yes, yes, your right uncle,” Martin added, “it is intriguing, I must admit.  I make no pretention as to that fact.  It is of great interest.  I can only imagine how much it concerns you as the Caesar Officiate of the Department of Dulman Security.   I imagine you’ve been pulling your hair out.”   At Martin’s words,  Uncle Redress lifted his eyes towards his forehead and rubbed his hand on a balding spot there in evident humor.   “But I want to also impress upon you,”  Martin continued, “the opportunity this gives us for loftier ambitions.  I think it will brighten up your perspective, no end.  You now think it is nothing but a threat.  But it could possibly be an opportunity for gaining honors with the gods, such as not been seen since the Xerion Conspiracy.  Did not either of you think of that?”

Martin glanced curiously at the two staring somewhat mystified back at him.  Arian nodded in accordance.  So, he was a graduate only greater than he by one year, thought Arian Yul, but he was not going to become the new Cesar Officiate of the Department of Dulmen Security.  Even if the thinking of the younger graduate was fresh and active, Arian hoped that he need not worry as to the security of his forthcoming position.  He could have said those words just as easily, he assured himself.  But then, one year was only one year, and who was to say the Big Sire didn’t have something special in mind with this Son of Misslou?

A loud roar arose from the large crowds of spectators around the arena.  Everyone in the lounge must have looked up at the Panorama Screens which had been giving them a full-length, cinematic, virtual reality view of the circus.  Portions of the spectators were in frenzy, leaning over their fellow viewers and waving their fists and shouting profanities.  Others were pouring aphrodisiac drink and perfumes into the air.  Some were engaged in rather sensuous and activities in the spectators areas as well.  In the Circus Proper  below several hybrid beasts were devouring Dulmen maidens deliberately brought to the Circus in prospect of such erotic acts; they symbolized the fertility of maidenhood.

At one end of the circus, policemen were beating couples into doing sexual copulation; each being replaced by new couples while the exiting couples were taken to their destruction—-males to sadistic battles to their death, females to their death by beast.  It was the height of perversity, and it was what everyone had waited to participate in during the Week of Preparation.

(Somewhere in the Dulman hierarchy, the ratio of human passion was recorded against the tolerance of Mind Control, supposedly for scientific purposes: it reeked of the essence of one European dictator centuries before, called Hitler, and for similar scientific experience.)

Martin was also gripped with the scene.  It had been some years since his last visit to the arena.  As a young boy of nearly fourteen – Dulmen time scale –  he could remember the rote loyalty drills; these were bits of phonic, holographic testing and training that young noblemen  were exposed to during their waking hours; the sole purpose being to psychologically train them to the Dulmen Imperialism as if a Father Image.   Whatever self-esteem was involved for a young nobleman or women —  indeed, any child, nobility or not  —  from a parent — it would be virtually traced back organically as a love for the child’s government, right or wrong, as a nostalgic and invincible ‘Father.’

Background music would be a steady beat of a monotonous thud of base sounds whenever the word loyalty would be shouted out followed by more successions of monotone sounds until sequence was repeated.  Soon the word ‘loyalty” would flash on the Cinematic-Virtual-Reality-Holographic-Thought-Screen  along with an audible production of the word.  This would be repeated over and over.  The words “loyalty Dulmania,” with the same pattern and sight variation happened (a quick flash of various current places and people of importance would appear for split seconds in screaming out to the audience seated in utter darkness):   A plethora of gods, goddesses, battle scenes, Grand Caesars of Dulmania, various points of historical and contemporary prestigious scenery.  One would suddenly find oneself flooded with an array of fantastic, scientifically timed portrayals of sight and sound.

At points, various pictorial and live action events happening within the arena  where injected into perceiving minds; first, still- photographs, then live action, always decorated with corresponding slogans such as “love Imperial Dulmania,”  “feel its Eagle Grip,’’  “ Eternal Dulmania, it is our life,” and other bombastic slogans.

(It would have been only with slight surprise that Martin would have previously left his small cubical chamber at his University to march rank and file, along with fellow students, to the Arena to their pretentious Forum area allotted for the University City, to find themselves wrapped up in the frenzied, exhilarating optative miasma as an evil aroma of lust and violence  directed towards the love of a Fatherly Dulmania.  The brutal Forum debates were only a childish form and preparation for the coition with the Arena.  Martin had visited more frequently  since those earlier visits.)  

Martin sipped pensively on his capsule of drink, eying the Screen rather coldly but enraptured. The huge bulk of the muscular policemen’s back blocked the midportion of the view; every muscle churning, rippling, stretching with the mechanical lashing of the whip as it ripped up the flesh with bits of the metal knives protruding at the end of the whip.   

The Screen was suddenly streaked with red drops of blood which rolled down as the Pickup Lens was within the range of the slaughter.  Blood was starting to spurt everywhere, yet no one turned their heads away in disgust.  No one winced.  No one  protested.  There was nothing of protest or uneasiness that would have been representative of more sacred societies.   Amid the screaming, shrieking mobs, one could hear the shouts of “Kill!  Kill!  Kill!”

“Wonderful!” groaned Arian.  Arian lifted himself upon his knees placing one hand on the invisible cushion of thrust and leaned forward as if to fall into the three-dimensional panorama.  Uncle Redress stood upright with his hands at his waists, breathing rather heavily, his fingers turning white from the taunt pressure on his belt; his complexion was more than ruddy, it was dark red; and it looked as if he had gone the limit of the mind-bending drug.  Martin also stood upright, hand supporting chin, the other arm supporting elbow.

The ruffle of velvet and silk came from the shadows as a petite but charming face of one Countess Flora moved into the soft light, the stone white complexion of her pristine, cold but lovely skin was seemingly filled with an icy and penetrating radiance.   As if drawn by the magnetic pull of her eyes, Martin rose to his feet, staring deeply into those eyes. 

Countess Flora had obviously been informed of the new graduate and his title as the son of the late Misslou the Great.   Already rumors had started to spread  prior to his homecoming telling of his flighty, mysterious ambitions. Martin recognized the famous Countess immediately, the gracious Mistress of Mylar, for her prestige had spread far and wide among the aristocracy.  For Martin it was a bit more personal as he gazed with awe, for the Countess had been the mistress of Misslou, the General Deluxe, and it was with a bit of nostalgic interest that she had her way to the Arena that day.

The Countess moved to one side of a dangling mobile of  faces  and shapes, smiling innocently at the young man, her blonde hair blown  gently by the breeze.  A juvenile handmaiden floated quickly to the nobleman and offered a perfumed handkerchief, which Martin took, and she receded back to the side of her mistress.  Martin rubbed the material between his fingers and casually glanced  to her for reassurance.  Martin looked around to see many people staring in wonderment, as well as the bothered expressions on the faces of his present companions.

Someone switched the décor lighting, and the room was bathed in a seductive blue hue spotted by sparkles of light reflecting from revolving mobiles.  Anxious swoons went out from the café’ crowd as they were drawn by more of the barbarous activity going on in front of them on the virtual realistic Thought Screen.

Martin sniffed casually on the perfumed handkerchief.  He stepped away from his table and stood on his ‘palm’ of controlling jets.

“You know, gentlemen,” Martin spoke clearly and intentionally brisk with no sign of artificial phoniness, “a solider would certainly be worthy of such ecstasy if one paid homage in a special way to Great Goddesses Lucia, Vera, Donna, Sherell, and offer a gift of the highest order!”

Martin slowly took larger stepped forward, his face erasing each minute wrinkle one by one as growing rapture encased his face till it converged into a youthful sheen of fanaticism.   “Not since the Xerion Era has such a challenge been.  I’ll offer no stately mansion; no invention; I’ll offer no orgy; no new asteroid for a well-loved goddess.”

He was drawing as much attention to himself now as was the chaotic activity in the Arena to the attending viewers;  In fact, his gestures and actions seemed to blend in perfectly with what had been going on before them.   A neurotic feeling arose within him, a confused melody of emotions, partially dedicated to “ love of Fatherly Dulmania,’’ and partially to his own Superman lusts!  Only in a world were satyrs, imps, trolls, ghouls, where all  the Orient and Greecen monsters had truly come to be —-could such thoughts—-have taken shape.

The young nobleman steadily moved forward out of the shadowed area into the glow of the Viewing Screen, his face lit with a soft fluorescence as his steadily pounded his fist in the palm of his other hand.

“I’ll offer a gift worthy of a new Dulmen graduate!  One that will show the true stature of this Prince of Duggar, Son of Misslou!   Greatness as has never been seen will be demonstrated as a lesson to all!”    Martin’s eyes wide with frenzied thought; his breathing labored and intense; Martin threw  both arms above his head in a dramatic V  as his cape swung to make a dark silhouette of the beastie god, solider policeman.  “I’ll give them the conspirators!  Soon! Here, for the Circus!”

In momentary relief from tension,  Martin casually turned to the Countess who had lurched back into the shadows and was looking ominously at the graduate.  He bowed quixotically to her with his helmet in one hand.

In the background continued the shouting and clapping of the Circus groan beating to the continued slaughter:

“Kill!  Kill!  Kill!”

**********

Chapter Five

Prelude to Destruction

In the dark  surveillance room, the Spec Boards eerily glowed  in the dark.  The faces of the operators could be seen seated in front of the detection screens, oval graphs of sectors A through Q; these concerned the Pit Area and the Outer Cities and  their Entrance Perimeters.

Martin hadn’t wasted any time:  he had quickly posted police squads in various parts of the cities.  Should anything be detected, it would be forwarded to the Brain  when the Spec Boards located that  particular white dot that meant a genetic-molecule arrangements not within the electromagnetic effect of the Brain—-police would converge on that spot within a matter of minutes.

Uncle Redress leaned close to one of the screens as the operator waited to point at an uncertain blimp.  Uncle Redress smiled fatherly.  Squeezing on the man’s shoulder as they both smiled: some aberration had appeared on the screens, probably due to an animal or bird that may not have pertinently computed.

Uncle Redress  had spent many hours in such Operation Rooms during a battle some decades ago when they circled Mars and pinpointed the scattered number of Vars  after they had smashed their major hideouts.  The Martian surface had been broken up into specific sectors outlined by intrinsically accurate grids: down to the micro degrees (for the sake of the operators, not the computers, which needed no such illustration).  It was only with the invention of the new Genetic Modulation Analyzer-Computer (G.M.A.C) that the blackout effect of the Vars could truly be combated.

Uncle Redress had gotten quite a thrill and become quite an expert at locating the white specs of light popping up on the grids, moving converging and  spreading. He also directed the feeding of the computer with the grid information as well as the aiming of the Atomic Guns that propelled a stream of electromagnetically atoms from a circling satellite to those individual lights as an uncontrolled atomic reaction in the bodies of the victims and their total annihilation.

The defeat of the Vars was stupendous news after their escaping  detection of some 700 years.   Much hoped for ingenuity had been put into their Vars encounter.   “To Find the Vars – To Destroy the Vars”  had been a Dulmen slogan during those battle-lean years.  Uncle Redress had found himself in such a unique position at the frontlines – it was only natural that his name was brandished about from every citizen and propagandist news film and Thought Record.  His face loomed from many billboards and placards for some time as a national hero  –   as a well-trained graduate which earned him high places of esteem in the Dulmen government at that time.

The present episode had that atmosphere of suspense, that anxiety and excitement which could only appeal to a Dulmen soldier and his swelled pride.  For a moment it seemed as if it was anticipation of locating Vars all over again.  The Vars: who had journeyed to another planet to escape the consummate evils that had come upon them.

**********

A Cascade of light appeared on side of the room wherein Arian entered and the opening vanished.  “How are things, Mark?”  Arian took a position next to Uncle Redress and began a casual examination of the Screens.

“Nothing, nothing as yet,” Mark Redress dryly responded.  The snap of a Z-BR8 capsule was heard.  “I don’t imagine it will be too much longer.”

“Well, I’m to meet Salisbury,”  informed Arian, “he’s following the police squad through City A-1 now.  I believe he feels that it will be in those areas that any response will be made.”  One could almost become hypnotized by the soft glow of the screens with the  tranquilizing aura they projected—-of course, that was impossible as the Brain would block it instantaneously.  “By the way,” Arian continued, “police squadrons and Spec-Observations are being  erected in the 200-odd cities in this territory.  Should we find anything there—-well, it would only amplify the problem was much bigger than we imagined.  To think!”

“I thought we’d do that, Arian, we really did,’’  Mark assured the group as he leaned on a panel of one screen into its in its glow.

“Well, I best go.”  Arian broke his gaze away from the glow.  “Keep in touch,”  seeing the humor of the situation, chuckled, “No doubt.”  

In the thinking of the two Dulmen Statesmen-Soldiers it would be a matter of minutes before another historical epoch in Dulmen history would be swiftly traversed.

**********

City A-l was nestled in the rolling fills just outside of Mylar City.  In fact, some of the suburban homes were only a thousand feet or so from the transparent dome of the Dulmen god-City.  From where Martin stood it was many miles from the other side of City A-1.

From their elevated point the group could look down  and observe the god-City of blinking lights, glimmering Zot Cars on streets, the rumble and haunting chatter of the neighborhoods below where lights and lit homes looked like many twinkling stars dotting the hills of the terrain.  Further on the horizon, like some huge and gigantic, majestic moon beyond a horizon plain  stood the magnanimous dome of Mylar; the tall, metallic  and synthetic structures from within  jutted up, slightly resembling the pock-marked features of Earth’s Moon at a distance; a rather awe-inspiring sight  to those who were strangers.

Off in the distance a small globe of light was creeping towards them just above the glow of Mylar; it grew every second until the figures of the two men were seen in a transparent bubble of light—-it was Arian and the Globe Transport Operator that detected Martin and his group by Sensor and was guided directly towards them.  The device quickly circled overhead and came within a foot of the street.  A man-size section of the bubble dissolved and Arian stepped out, turned, and watched the transport quickly elevate, disappearing, jetting away to Mylar as a faint dot of light.  

**********

“Any minute now, my friend!”  Arian spoke with the usual vanity of a Nobleman as he approached Martin with a Nazi-type salute that had become everything that Dulmania stood for.  Martin did the same, but more casually.

“Yes, what did Uncle Redress have to say?”   Martin smiled slightly.  Martin could imagine the old fellow puffed-up with visions of military conquest.  As a child on Leave  from school, Mark Redress would tell Martin the most amazing accounts of Dulmen conquest and glory; often placing Martin on his knee and gesturing with vivid and darting hand motions as he portrayed some of his experiences. 

There was “The Stone City.”  Was it real?  Was it a dream?  Martin’s uncle did not know.  It could just as easily be a heavenly reality, a bit of Dulmen Dream Candy, supplanted in his mind to treat him to reward him for a job well-done; or maybe it was real.

(Whatever the reason for this strange discovery, the Caesar of Security once trampled through the battle-torn cities of the Vars hoping to find some abandoned citizens who were left behind in their interplanetary escape.  After several hours of relentless and anxious searching through the homes and streets that reeked of the Penetration Ray, Mark listlessly wandered off into the surrounding fields.

It had been near dusk, and several miles later, that Mark came over the rim of a grassless hill to gaze upon an amazing sight: there, for miles in a deep valley  was perfect radius of stone monuments and pillars as if closely placed tree trunks.  Mark could not see the center of this magnificent  ‘wheel,’ nor could fathom the purpose for what purpose these constructions these had been built.

Mark noticed that the tips of the of the grooved pillars were broken off at irregular levels; it was almost as if a forest of stone trees had once existed here and due to some fantastic holocaust, only tightly packed, possibly underwater,  pillars remained.  Why? Who? What? Perhaps the Brain knew.  “Do not worry about it too much,” Mark explained, “it was only one of the oddities of our society.”)

Martin smiled at the telling of his uncle’s past.  Here would be another adventure the Caesar Uncle to brag about.  Arian smiled too, “He’s busy now.  Terribly busy.  Say, what have we here, does she dance for you, the new Graduate?”   Arian asked  at the erotic movements of a maiden who now paraded for the three other men lustfully.

“No, Arian, she dances because she knows she is in the presence of a god!  And she hopes to steal a bit of our gracious attention.”   The men leaned on the pillar in a moment of sensuous relaxation.   Each of their uniforms contained special compartments for these erotic times—-special elastic pouches that covered their genitals, allowing a comfortable erection of their organs.  A small group of whispering neighbors had also begun to form on the Porta Walk along the rim of the street; they too had wondered why the ‘gods’ had chosen to visit their neighborhood.  One of the persons who watched so attentively was the girl’s mother. 

“Say, little one, do you think your arrogant little heart would beat so carefree if a god  should succumb to your gift of gesture?”  Arian spoke daringly, both hands on his hips.  The girl, somewhat slyly,  but brazenly nevertheless, danced  over to the men.

“You may provoke a god’s wrath,”  Martin continued, stroking her hair as she danced away.

Still, this was no time for teasing—-the time lapsed far above that which Martin had imagined for the capture of conspirators; his grandiose vision of jailing  at least one conspirator soon was in doubt.   He slapped his right  fist  around the handle of his sword  in a sharp snap:  “Blast it, oh Mighty  Zerichonus!  Why has nothing happened!” 

“Take it easy, brother!’  Arian cajoled, “a gift by early morning would be great; but a gift presented to the gods by another day would not diminish the importance of your conquest.”

“You’re right.”  Martin was encouraged by Arian’s remark.  “But still….”

“Come Martin,” Arian enticed Martin’s mind to other thoughts, “let us take this young lady at her word,”   Arian was led into other thoughts, “let us take this young lady at her word,”  he gestured with an  open palm into the lit patio.  “So, you want to flatter the gods?”  Arian smiled at the nymph.

Something akin to a Sex Flush came on their faces. Then came Martin’s single command:  “Take her!”

The others immediately disrobed , and a subdued gasp came from the crowd eager to join in the game of lust from a god.  The mother stumbled forward a bit as if by mistake to protest,  but only whimpered, and placing her hand over her mouth, turning back into the crowd to hide.  Martin glanced over his shoulder at the Mother as he disrobed.

‘‘Take care, Mother!  Your child will be made blessed tonight!”

**********

The countryside before the man was a beautiful subarctic landscape—-the Caucasus Mountains formed a majestic ridge before him with rich, green ferns and evergreens cascaded like a delicious balm on a buffet covering the whole panorama.  The snowcapped mountains portrayed an undeniably dazzling emblem of sensuality and beauty.  

This was the land known once long ago as Russia, specifically the Mount Usha territory.

“Coming little one.  Elia is coming!”

Somewhere in that thicket, Elia thought to himself, up that mountain base about one-hundred-feet, was a lost lamb. It had been a last-minute decision that caused Elia to take the fold out this day.  But now he had, and one was lost, he would attempt to find it.

Fighting his way upward through the thistles and lashing branches, slipping now and then upon wet  and sometimes snow-covered ground, Elia progressed painfully.   There was no sight of a beaten path.  The tail of the animal protruded from Elia’s trench coat but had become somewhat of a stumbling block in the undergrowth of stems and branches.

It had been five years now that he had lived with that device grafted onto his body. And if it hadn’t been for the huge, thick lion’s mane around his head with his own  furry body hair and full mustache, Elia would look as normal as any conventional human.

But many years ago, before he forsook Dulmen citizenry, he begged to become one of the Wild Ones—-those who sought the thrills of a lifetime by looking and feeling like an animal of their own choosing.  Dulmania was filled with such mutates and genetic creations.

“Yes, I hear you little lamb!”  Elia announced.

Oh, how foolish he had been, about as foolish as that lost sheep, now in some precarious situation in some gully, or perhaps in a thorn infested thicket—-one thorn had inflicted a cut on Elia’s cheek.  Why did not the creature stay put, instead of sneaking off spurred  by some kind of adventurous curiosity?  Why did he not stay alongside of his brothers and sisters?

“Brother!”   What a strange word to be using out of the clear blue.  Elia had come to a dead stand still; the slope had become unbearably steep where Elia would have to scale a ledge of thick granite of about ten-feet high or maneuver around it.  “Yes, I have a brother,” Elia thought to himself, “a flesh and blood brother, somewhere and someplace in this carnival world.”    It struck him twice as odd  that the last time Elia had seen him, his brother was but a small child, barely entered the instruction levels of education facilities, and he was about to be given and initiated under a new name.

“What was that name?”  Elia asked himself.  “Ah, I cannot think now!  What was it?”

Breathing like these were his last sudden breaths of air, Elia pulled himself up on a rocky ledge that had become heavily infested with clinging vines.  The lamb had obviously come away from the path and become snarled in the vines.

It was a small black lamb; not a pinch of white; it bayed forlornly  as Elia stood smiling gently at the creature.  Then Elia stooped to rescue the lamb.  

What was my brother’s name?  “What an indifferent relationship that one could not even remember your own brother’s name!”   Well, there’ll

be no more ‘lost moments,’ if Elia could help it, “like this sheep,” he told himself, “ they’ll all be brought Home, if he had a choice.”

Stooping, Elia wrapped the lamb inside his toga beneath his coat near the thick hair of his body.  Through a clearing in the towering trees his eye caught a patch of flawless, mild blue sky—-this struck Elia as odd  because it looked so new and different.  It was almost as if something were ‘out there,’  invisible yet real and dynamic, just waiting to burst through that serene atmosphere.   Elia could also feel the tension, so solid, almost as if he could reach out and touch it but preventing his hand from doing that very thing.  He turned his head  from side to side, got up to leave with the lamb, taking the pathway he had previously missed finding.

Suddenly, Elia was struck by a revelation:  “Arian!  That was my  brother’s name!  Arian Yul, they named him!”   He thought again, “too bad there wasn’t more there between us.  Ah, but that is Dulmania.  That is Dulmania.  Arian, I  wonder what he is doing now?”

**********

Chapter Six

Moderato, Scherzo

The majesty of Dulmen Control was an art.  Everyone proceeded under the phantom of Free Will.  In the Dulmen Bubble cities the Brain did control and did interfere. The masses there were thoroughly indoctrinated.  A world of Robots in the absolute sense was the last thing the pontificates of Dulmania wanted.  What they wanted was the total possession of one’s being, not  his total relinquishing of all creativity.

Oh, they tried it that way, but it was a defeat to their own purposes.  For Dulmania had another foe—-the real foe—-and it kept demonstrating its reality in the human psyche.  They had hoped to accomplish their goal by completely and totally channeling the creativity of the masses, not destroying it.  To do this was quite an art.  At times, complete control, Robotism, was necessary but the Brain was very wise in such matters: over the eons the Brain discovered that several personality traits were vital to the wellbeing to the Dulmen purpose—-an insane uncompromising desire for personal gratification, of lust and spirit, had led more than once to a person or person’s invention of a horrible weapon of conquest and destruction, and perhaps mayhem and havoc lie in the attainment of that invention or weapon; the Brain always weighed the alternatives, and proceeded  accordingly.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have been but a mere starvation of several hundred people; the murder of one or more officials; the explosion of a SD-3 spacecraft or other mysterious sabotage (this happened when the great Dulmen Senator of Zeker City had overthrown a faulty system in the political structure; some wondered if it was an honest overthrow, or, what exactly was accomplished or the motivation behind it.  Dulmen propagandists bannered the Thor affair as heroic).

There was the case of Terrace Merrion—the medical scientist of the academy of Vera .  Merrion programmed a sophisticated plan for the renovation of a quarter of the outlying Cities.   Merrion had for several years studied the growing number of genetic degeneracies in the Middle Class of the Outer Cities that was also becoming evident in sprinkled cases in the Lower and Slum residents.  While not a direct threat to the most curious Statesman, the Brain had, however,  perceived this more discerningly.

Merrion noted that the outer layer cells in the cerebellum and the spinal cord nerve column had a slight irregularity in the nucleon and other organelle.  This was not true for those individuals whose physical constitution had been replaced by synthetic and mechanical parts, but since these parts were arbitrarily bestowed by the whimsical guardians in the god-Cities; however,  but no such creations could elude the Brain.

The same irregularities had been associated many years before when large groups of the Outer City slum people rose in unrest, boarding overnight in revolt.  The cause was completely unknown; nothing in the environmental-control tracings indicated an aberration.   A few other more brazen slum dwellers began to rear up as spokespeople for the dwellers: they were all quickly collected and rushed to the Sector 5 encampments of the Dulmen Educational Enforcement—-here the anarchists were placed in the Hyper Thought Ocean.  The ‘ocean’  was a huge abyss as part of the ‘transport tube’ (among other uses) functioning to permit travel to the multiple subterranean cities within in the bowels of the Earth.  It was often referred to as The Pit.

Within hours, Big Sire has transformed their mental functions into a harmonious version of Dulmen Robotism; the citizenry settled into their routine lives; the irregularity in the nucleon soon disappeared—-so did 20 citizens in a mass arrest one evening—-without a trace.  When questions arose, propagandist heralded that the Brain had it all under control.

When Merrion again studied this potential threat, hoping to find a noble place in the eyes of the Dulmen hierarchy, he ecstatically set out to heroically crush the hidden threat with all the might of a lightning strike.   In programming the data to the Brain, Merrion asked that these conspirators be immediately sent to the Hyper Ocean        for readjustment  —- and then immediate shipping of the gang to the asteroid Phyllis for isolation  —-  an undetermined isolation.

The Brain reacted with enormous ferocity and contrarian action:  the potentially threatening citizens were herded together within hours – sent to the Arena  —  while all news and communications media announced the surprise Circus.   A gargantuan  slaughter and heatless debauchery took place in a fast and furious arrangement which no one questioned (if any questioning was done it resulted in imprisonment in one of the labor camps).  The Brain’s decision as final!

So, when a mother twanged at the sight of seeing the rape-seduction of  her impish 19-year-old daughter by such stately  and eloquent gods,

The mother’s emotions were viewed with suspicion; surely the mother realized that the suddenness, the bruteness, the utter disregard was mandatory for such a deed? These gods were involved in a big mission —- a whimper from a sibilant peasant was totally perverted to that line of reasoning.  When the mother would eventually return from the Office of Welfare, the mother would mysteriously feel different somehow.

But there is more to happen this this night of nights —- the sky was a rather clear early autumn eve, and a somewhat crisp smell filled every activity, the sights, ambiance, the unusually warm season, and most citizens considered this all part of the unusual erratic weather they were having.   A bit of frenzied, creeping  excitement was in the air; and like the somewhat perfumed gust that melted across the face of the city with an ingenious feeling of frightfulness and a tantalizing, almost murderous,  tension that  filled the darkness and finessed the mellow streams of soft light from businesses and homes; the twinkling stars were heralding more stentorian Dulmen activity. 

Andante Alterato

The square in the middle of City A-1 had an enormous statue of two beautiful goddesses.  They were wrestling each other  in a fight to the death in a magnificently efficacious battle that only the Brian could manufacture by its Control.  The two lesbian ladies were fighting atop a withering snakelike creature that had synthesized human features to its arms and legs, and a weak human resemblance to its reptilian face.

Its arms were lifted in pain from supporting the weight of the ladies, and the appearance of its uplifted tail and the darting split tongue denoted its struggle to escape.

The exact meaning of the edifice was lost  in meaning to the Outer City people, lost in antiquity for they did not know it proclaimed the death of three Dulmen god-goddesses.  The Dulmen hierarchy created and destroyed their gods-goddesses, and the death of the three were memorialized in connection of with the surrender of the last remnant of a foreign government: it must have been quite an episode. 

The status was bathed by light from the perimeter-base  positioned behind exotic shrubbery in a purplish-white, green, and blue tinge that would throw one into ecstatic rapture should one gaze too long.

Around the lighted square was immediate darkness with the golden hues of squares and rectangles of light from the mystic silhouette of the homes bordering the square; columns flanked the perimeter of the square of the square, some casting long projecting shadows over the area.  Men, women, children strolled across the square—-the children playfully chasing each other in laughter.

Suddenly, overheard several squadrons of Dulmen aircraft swept silently through the skies, rather low but swiftly:   first one V – formation of oval blue-white globes, then another and another, each brilliantly lighting the square in white splendor as if smelted silver metal from some casting pot were poured over the intrigant scene causing by-stander-citizens to make exclamations of reverend awe.

The discussion that Martin and some cohorts were having denoted their restless anxiety concerning the delayed arrest of the unknown conspirators.   As usual, their conversations surrounded their belief in the utter control of Dulmania and even how eloquent the conspirators were in their evasion.

‘‘You know, Jerald, should you drink anymore of that mixture, you’ll not be working with me tonight,’’ Martin threw the words at one of the intoxicated Mus-chutes who polished the golden jeweled handle of Martin’s sword, a young squire of a particular unit that accompanied him. The squire worked  skillfully with a special buffing pad.  Jerald stopped his boastful jesting to the others as he turned to a serious vein, allowing the bottle of liquor to lower to his side.  He swaggered over to Martin.

“Ah, my lord, I drink not of my own accord.  Tis, all the fine gentlemen  with us tonight that are imbibing,”  Jerald rationalized.  “Why we all have noted the air is full of magic expectancy—-it is a night as tonight that moments are made of.”   His drunken and relaxed body bobbed  about as a puppet on strings.

“Clown!   You celebrate much too early!”  Martin pointed one finger at the man, this time in dire seriousness.  Jerald’s flush face showed no alarm, he blinked innocently.  “You all are about to fall on your honorable  faces!”

‘‘Please Martin, it is not the time to chastise us, it has been sometime since such a memorable occasion has come about.  Take it easy on your men tonight,”  Arian moved to Martin’s side.

Martin rebounded:  “ If it weren’t for the fact that within minutes, we’ll be busy in capturing conspirators, I’d have no need for any of you.  I’d just as soon have you in jail for disrespect.”   Martin swung his arm in a radius indicting the bunch of men before him.   A unified murmur arose from all of them aligning with Arian’s merciful plea.

“Our hearts are heavy too, sire,” Jerald followed closely, moving next to the standing god, affectionately placing his hand on the man’s shoulder.  The others suddenly commenced with laughter.  Jerald looked, but twinged in surprise; he saw nothing humorous. 

“Stop it !” ordered Martin.  Jerald turned to expound further to Martin,  “There is something here that is not quite correct….’’  Jerald was uncertain as to what exactly to say, wrinkling his forehead, gripping his sword handle, “this is different!”

“Different!  Why different?”  the Son of Misslou asked.

Jerald turned his head from side to side and if searching for words, “Why…why…whatever we are looking for—-hiding!

“Hiding?  Is it not true, sire, that within the last centuries, no purported conspirator has escaped detection?  We have even watched before they made their final steps, is that not correct?”

‘Correct!  It will be no different this time.”  Martin glanced over to see that several policemen and soldiers had gathered to listen.

“ But it is different now,” Jerald confessed.

Martin could have easily become angered.  This night had manifested itself to  be an infuriating mess. In fact, in his own natural surroundings at the University he had only to visit the Aroian Palaces where lovely damsels could  intoxicate him with all the erotic science at their learned trade.  On a good night, Martin could cram into four hours what normally would have taken twenty-four.  In his private chamber Martin could attach to the Main Stimulator and sleep the night in an ecstatic world of Ultra Make Believe; tonight, it was prevented by the serious business at hand.

“It is not different!”  Martin slapped back, grabbing his sword from the stunned squire, slamming it into his sheath.  “it is not different!”  Martin raced a few steps towards the other men, waiting for a reply from Jerald.

“If you say so, sire,”   Jerald gestured with an outstretched hand.  He quickly put it to his waist.  “But three hours have passed; to one as uneducated as I, that seems to be some kind of record!”

Martin tightened his lips over and over as he gripped his sword—-Jerald didn’t realize how close to death he had come.

Several of the City residents had gathered to examine the commotion.  It was the first time some citizens observed these gods in their golden array.

Martin eyed a lady creeping within the crowd between the policemen.

“It is no different, Jerald, my friend, then one of these!”  Martin grabbed the ladies’ hair with one big swoop of his hand, violently yanking her into the middle of the human circle.  She gasped in pain as she crashed to a stop on her knees.   An anxious murmur went up from the growing crowd.    “ You see, Jerald, we have complete control over her and her mind.  They are what we want them to be!  Nothing more; nothing less.”  He rammed her head to the ground with his foot  and let it rest there.

“Because of Control,” Jerald mused almost sarcastically.  That sarcasm would have long ago been intolerable if it were not for some common but whimsical  decency of one god to another.

“Yes, Control!” shouted Martin.

“But tell me Prince of Dulmania, have they no guts in the middle of their skulls of their own?”

“None.  They are slaves of the Brain.”

“Then you have nothing to fear of them,”  assured Jerald.

“Nothing!  What are you driving at, mad man?”

“Just this, Son of Misslou, there is something in that gray matter of these animals that has eluded genetic, synthetic, mathematic invention!   Something different!”

Jerald threw both bottles of liquor at the ladies’ head, smashing instead in front of her, showering her in fragments of glass.

“Different indeed!  If you have any facts, demonstrate them!”   Martin’s face had turned red in anger.  He gripped his sword handle with a whiten, clenched fist.  His breathing was slow and deliberate.

Jerald had the limelight.  He knew it.  A cocky smile was hidden beneath his phony smoothness, and his eyes sparkled with sarcastic laughter.  Jerald realized that he had not graduated with as many Honors as Martin; whatever the reason, this time he was out to teach a cruel lesson. 

“May the gods of Dulmania forgive me, but what if…what if…Control were dropped from detecting these poor creatures?  What if all electronic, vibratory linkups were ‘cut,’ and they could see for themselves for what they and we really are?”  Jerald stepped a few steps forward with his arm outstretched beseechingly.

Martin didn’t like what he heard, at all.  “What do you mean?  What are we really saying here?”

“Naked!  Naked in the sight of any!” Jerald rebounded. “Stark reality!  All true history!  All fact!”

Martin snapped back, ‘‘The Brain is fact!  The Brain is reality!  The brain is all  there is!  It is the total of existence.  Outside of it will only be chaos!”   Martin stepped harder and tightened his foot on the woman’s neck.  She gagged.  Martin looked down with a look of spite.

A large crowd of citizens had gathered flanking as a fence of golden policemen-Mus-chutes.  An agonized murmur ebbed over the crowd. 

“Then why do they rebel so hatefully against us when we Sport with them?”  Jerald was referring to the many nights that gods from the Bubble Cities would roam the prosaic streets of the Outer-Towns and in jest or spite remove all seeming Control and allow them to see Reality as never seen before.   Usually, it was done  to a select crowd, and as the Dulmen gods threw vicious epithets are them, the crowd would grow into a rage and try to kill the harassers.   Martin never had a participant to such events while at the University, but he had heard of such.

‘‘Are you saying such useless attempts against authority are beyond the knowledge of the Brain?  It would know what and why these things would happen!”  Martin angrily  assured. 

“Yes, but that same rebellion—That same defiance is there in our ‘new’ Conspirators,”  Jerald looked coldly into the eyes of Martin, “yet we haven’t dropped Control!”  Martin’s eyes bonded to Jerald’s as Martin finished, “they have!”

Blast you, Jerald!” Martin’s voice rang out as Martin lifted his sword high into the air over his head, strangling the jeweled handle, swinging it about as if looking for a suitable target.

‘‘Drop Control, Martin!  Drop Control and see!’’  Jerald chided devilishly, “drop it, Son of Misslou!  Drop it!   Now!”   Salvia dripped from Jerald’s lips denoting his drunken frenzy.

Martin threw back his arms in a dramatic arc, jetting out his chest, and looking to the sky with watered eyes of agony; he resounded:

“Ye gods and goddesses of Dulmania:  I beseech thee, grant the grace I ask!  To prove the sovereignty of the Sire, give us power for Sport!”

Martin steadied himself  in his footing, holding his sword high over his head in a tight grip as if he were expecting the sword to be struck by lightning.  Instead, a loud rumble of thunder  rang out; the Brain had consented! With that Martin brought the sword down upon the women’s  neck!   An insane yell went up from the citizens gathered in the square: all Control had been removed!  The crowd lunged forward at the guards who barely had time to turn somewhat to see the wild-eyed, savage snarling, clawing  crowd attacking  at the some of the soldier-policemen. 

The remaining policemen took a pace backwards in unison, swords pulled from their sheaths in a graceful and synchronized motion:  the first layer of the mob was stopped; the bodies fell; in a second the full force of the citizen herd momentum followed, incited by the slaughter of their neighbors; for the first time, they viewed in an all-together different frame of mind.

Pointing their swords directly at the citizen crowd, the police began jetting-out green-white rays  of death that disintegrated masses of citizens all around the square.  Indiscriminate slaughter revealed deep, red crimson slabs of the square amid the shrieks and screams of ladies dying and raped, and the animal grunts and snorts from enraged men; the terrifying crying of children rent the crisp night air; a peddler’s wagon had broken loose from its ponies, rolling into the crowd, its crops strewn over the bodies of dying and mangled bodies.

“Mama!  Mama!  Mom!  Mama!”

**********

Chapter Seven

Concerto Mysterium

The large golden orb of the morning Sun filtered through the branches of trees and between the corners of houses in the outer limits of suburbia A-1.   Zephyr Road was just off the lake where one could look downhill to see a blanket of morning mist arising into the cool fresh air denoting thin wisps of moisture rising.  The dew filled nostrils.  Down the road and towards the east below the valley lay  Mylar City; the bubble was much smaller in view now than Martin and his cohorts viewed earlier. 

Directly behind it, Ambrose Hill was sleeping beneath ruffled sheets of Milky white clouds.  Then, a flash; a spark; a small glow, would emit every few seconds.   White humps dotted the green and brown, red hills of the Autumn landscape; these were the many homes of the Outer City.  Zephyr Road  jutted to the forefront of the scene.  Birds sedately chirped rhythmically as a Zot Car  smoothly climbed the road next to the lake and headed west through the city limits.

The only clamor this rather demure Thursday morning was that of an old peddler who was strolling the streets of the county road picking up bits and pieces of stray junk the children had thrown upon the street Porta-Walks hoping to sell them somehow later.  Occasionally, he would walk over to a Disposal Chute  at the intersection  corner of the road and press the lid button to see if any miscellaneous paraphernalia had not been disintegrated yet. 

As he traveled on, the homes became more spaced, and the spaces became more wooded.  The clean-looking shrubberies and evergreens were being replaced  by many large oaks and elms. Heavy  undergrowth and thicket appeared generously. 

Suddenly, the quick swish of a sliding door panel was heard and out of the semicircle domed shaped home on a slopped lawn came a happy sweet shriek of laughter and excitement, as two nude figures  came bounding down the lawn, landing on the Porta-Walk; they preferred to run down the walk rather than use it, playing leapfrog over each other for several hundred feet.

The peddler took only a casual notice and then went about his business; the undraped appearance of the two teenage children were nothing new;  neither  were a pair of adolescent persons acting so brusque at an early hour.  They ran one and on and came to a pathway leading off the road, the two trying to prevent each other from getting onto the pathway, tripping, and pushing each other amid childish squills and comments.

Finally, the one broke ahead, turned, kicked dirt up at the other and ran on.  They soon disappeared in echoing laughter and romp.  The path led up a hill for several hundred feet, then down into a gorge holding a little stream. The two ran down the hill and soaked themselves in the icy water (they had produced a sweat, even at that early hour).

“Stop it, you simpleminded thing,” the girl said in unconvincing exasperation, “stop it, Teddy.”  The boy continued to throw water on her until she just sat there looking an insincere look of anger.

“Okay, Marian,”  the boy took time out  from laughter to help the girl up, “let’s see what is on the other side of that ridge,”  he pointed to a row of trees outlining a field just above them on an eroded bank.

“You’ll have to help.  It’s all loose dirt.”  She placed herself in a position to be helped by his arm up the slopped terrain.

They continued through the field which was heavy with orchard grass;  Ted tried to hide, and a game of Hide and Seek ensued.   They must have had sex at least three times before exiting  on the other side of the field. 

Ted has the girl’s arm pinned behind her back and was smiling impishly as he put force into the judo hold.   ‘‘That’s enough!”  she winched.  In that minute he let loose, she observed the look of impish delight he gave to her predicament.   She slapped him.  His immediate response would have been to throw her to the ground, it was prevented by her remark, “You get a real kick out of administering pain, devil of Darrigan, don’t you?”

He walked on in silence, and within a few seconds they both looked like two very bored souls.  Marian was still rubbing her arm. The morning had turned out to be such a bore—-nothing new, just the same old things.  But the two were just children of the lowly, uneducated class of the Outer Cities; already at their early age, the best they could hope for would be to die in the graces of a Dulmen god or be made a foster child of the Bubble City goddesses.

They came to a wider dirt road, one used by peasant slavery to haul produce, it hadn’t been used for some time.  Clumps of crab grass and weeds readily covered it.   They walked on.

“What bothers you?”  Marian asked, “you act strangely, normally you would have passed up on the chance to slap back.”   She threw pieces of gravel gently against him.   He didn’t answer. 

Broken branches hung out into the road.   Occasionally a large insect would dart spasmodically over the road.  A lizard darted off the road into the weeds.  Sunlight threw a dark silhouettes on the road from large elms and oaks as lofty umbrellas.   One could only wonder how the woods had not  closed-in and swallow the road.

Marian muttered now and then about her cousin Xekter  from Common, a city several thousand miles away.   She was quite thrilled about her cousin for he lived in a city that was quite different.   Xekter lived in an underwater city.  Oh, how Marina loved to hear the thrilling tales of his boyish adventures:  Imagine riding bareback on live fish!  

Marian had never been outside of City A-1 by herself.  So, this visitor from Common City was always a treat.  The jealousy she was trying to provoke on Ted seemed more promising now.

Ted would glance blankly at Marian occasionally. Marian soon  realized she was getting nowhere; she stopped suddenly; thrust her hands to her sides;  and stomped her feet:  “ May your heart be rent out by its roots  –  you — you…”

“Come off it, Marian!  Please let’s just walk.  For a change, let’s just be silent,’”  he gently placed his hand on her chin and squeezed softly; this struck Marian as odd.  They continued to walk.

After a mile or more they came to a smaller pathway that denoted an entrance to someone’s property ahead in the woods.  On a small spruce tree next to the road was an old metal sign that had been affixed intothe tree, furrows of bark  infringing the edges showing it had been sometime since it was posted: in large black letters, it read “POSITIVELY NO TRSPASSING—VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED—-Order of the Department of Welfare.”

They sat for a moment on the large stones situated to one side of the area as they gazed obstinately at the sign.

“Hey!  We’ve never been in there!”  Marian exclaimed tossing bits of dust in the direction of the path.  Ted gave her a half sneer.

“Violators will  be prosecuted!”  Ted motioned with his palms upward as if lifting an imaginary boulder; he slumped back into his thinking posture.

“So, we’ve done it before, let’s do it again!  They just put those signs up to scare people—-unless it is really offending the Brain—-they say nothing!  You know that!”  Marian was tugging on Ted’s arm, asking him to follow her down the path.  He went limp and made the weight of his body a difficult object to lift.

“But what if it  is wrong—-regardless!”  Ted’s childlike innocence struck Marian as somewhat precociously odd.  She helped Ted to his feet and the let go of him to give him a stare of curiosity.  He long sleek, shinning black hair partially hung over her shoulder; for a child of seventeen she had developed voluminously according to Dulmania standards.  To be less would mean she could not visit the Bubble Cities on the Eve of the Sun when Dulmen priests manifest a wonderous display of gods and goddesses as they stalked the Citizens’ Championship into the realm of the Lesser Human Gods: special invention of the Brain.

She flipped her hair over her shoulder and stroked a few bits of straw and weed from it.  She cocked her head  to indicate her curiosity.  Ted felt her suspicion and anxiety  bubbling up.

The two gained momentum until they stumbled into the folded  legs of the towering statue.  They stopped in fearful apprehension.  They took a short glance of this beast, barely seeing the nose projecting over the statue’s folded arms.

“Shoosh!  Be quiet!”  Marian giggled as she  pushed playfully on Ted’s shoulder.  Ted returned the gesture.

“Looks like an opening there!”  Ted pointed to a jagged opening in the base of  the stature dividing the beast’s legs suspiciously.   It looked as if the golden statue had been built over an opening to a subterranean cavern indicated by the jagged edges of stone protruding along the metallic opening.

The two had broad grains as they tiptoed into the opening.  They were greeted by a soft luminous rock, a product from Dulmen space mining.  There were steps leading to an alter patio on which was overlayed with lovely clothing and various materials.   Containers spaced throughout  with strings of beads and jewels heaped high into the air that decoratively lapped over their edges.   In the middle of the patio was a table of stone.   A rather awesome feeling was  created by the stalagmites and stalactites doting the ceiling and base of the interior.  

“A temple, Marian!  A temple!  Here they worship some secret god.”  Ted exclaimed as he ran to the center of the patio and slapped his hand on the stone slab, his voice vibrated and echoed in the hallow chamber of the room.   Ted took on a pensive stance as he looked bewilderingly at his feet, he wrinkled his forehead in deep thought. 

“What if there was only one god?  One god?”

“One god?”   Marian shouted credulously; she  raised her upper lip slightly in a sneer.

Ted glanced back at her, her feet together, her hands folded at the base of her stomach.   Marian was so naïve; yet so full of knowledge in ways that Ted at first was only beginning to see as also terrifying:  She was friendly; yet a friendship that would end with the first selfish whim.  Faithful;  yet always changing to new and dubious faiths.  “From where have you gotten that idea?” Marian exclaimed. 

“What if I said, ‘the Brain—-the Brain’ was not the final god?’”  Ted’s hands began flaring about indicating his predicament of thought. Marian was trying to see through the quandary he created.

“But you didn’t, did you?”  Marian remarked in friendly suspicion.

Ted hesitated.  Could he?  Could he speak as he felt?  Surely Marian would understand.  “No, I didn’t!”  Ted exclaimed.  He held a serious expression as he walked down the  steps, earnestly looking for words.  Looking directly into Marian’s eyes, he paused for a second, the spoke:

“ A man….a very wise man…so gentle and kind but unusual, had talked to me some time ago,’’ Ted held his hands out as if holding an invisible box, shaking it every now and then, glancing to Marian, begging for her understanding, “and as he talked, and I began to see somethings differently.  He told of a tribe of people from many, many eons past, a people devoted to one way of life…to one god…a real god…I mean,” he was showing signs of exasperation at his inability to convey his thoughts, “A single god…a father god…these people worshipped no man, no manmade image.   It is hard to explain, Marian, but they led a simple life.’’  He chuckled and looked back into Marian’s face, now  standing with an astute expression, “ they marry, but only once, and to only one women whose life is dedicated to the same goals.”  Marian opened her mouth in a slightly  humorous gasp.  “The children are subordinate, taught by command…and…and,”   ideas were now raging through his mind until he became almost overtaken by the scope of the picture parading through his imagination. Then he slapped his chest in a sharp crack and walked aimlessly into the sunlight.  Marian followed sheepishly as if to hear more revelations.

They spoke little as they steadily strolled towards the road at the top of the hill.  Ted remembered the many childhood episodes he had when he lived with his parents.  Ted was encouraged to rebel.  Often, he would be viewed in his Block Room, a reinforced Cell  with various pieces of fake furniture onto which he could vent all his anger and hate.  Dulmania was preoccupied with such demonstrations as a bonus for either an aggressive solider, a Circus Torturer, or a stonehearted politician.  This was all recorded-on circuits and all accompanying body-reaction was thoroughly studied. But unfortunately, Ted Andrew Zeo was not found of the aristocratic background and prospects, a fate of so many Outer City children.  It was customary for children of Dulmenia to be born to the mortal gods, or not,  and to practice hostility and rebellion; if they wouldn’t, how could they be expected to stand by their government in times of alien threat?  (And, oh, those alien threats, all elusive, all unseen!   Dulmenia had wiped-out all traces of or incorporated  in any foreign government in the solar system; but there still seemed to always be an alien threat from somewhere, someplace).

Often when Ted’s parents and neighbors had engaged in orgiastic worship on the Special Day and in the pageantry and color of the Dance, some would rise into a rage and destroy objects inanimate or animate about them, things with life or not, Ted would gleefully yell, scream, or shout, destroying “playthings” laid about him; and with great strength, surprising for a child of three years.

It was exceptionally warm on this autumn day, warm enough to cause perspiration, and Marian proceeded to flick-off  the weeds and grass sticking to her voluminous body as they strolled away from the road and down a slope towards a school building.  Ted wanted to introduce some frolic to alleviate building tensions.

“Come on, let’s race down the hill!”  Ted grabbed Marian’s arm shaking her out of her nonchalant sun-basking.  She giggled and laughed and her muscular but feminine body dashed alongside Ted down the gradual slope to concrete pavement around the building.  The asphalt-like pavement was hot but no hot enough to seer through their mud stained.  Their voices and laughter echoed against the towering wall before them.  Ted picked up a clump of tarred gravel and threw it at an imaginary “hoop.”

“Just like the primitive people did once, Marian, it was a game, but back then they used an inflated sphere.”   Ted slapped his hands together, “Come!  Let’s attempt to go inside!”   He firmly took Marian’s hand and led through double doors outfitted with push-bars across them.   He peered through the clear windows.  A clink-clank rang out when Ted pushed the bar and to his surprise the door swung open.  It echoed loudly in the sunlit interior hallway.  They suddenly reared their heads back in disgust:  “What a smell!” Marian choked, “This place must have dead vermin in  the corners!”   Yet, the walls and corners revealed a curious absence of spider webs, and there was no thick blanket of grey dust that would have indicated a lack of activity for some time.

Ahead, directly in front of them, wide steps led to a main hallway from which various other door and entrances could be seen.   To their left, a concrete-like incline dropped off to what appeared to be a basement level.  They had no idea as to why they walked into the area, but they advanced slowly into what apparently was a basement recreation area that contained a deep depression, apparently a swimming pool; two opposing doors on the other wall led to another  segment of the gym. 

The unusual stench was unrelenting.  Both youngsters had their eyes completely smarted with tears.   Flowing down Marian’s cheeks were tears as she gave soft coughs that echoed loudly in the lonesome surroundings.  From the sunlight  streaming through the basement windows, they both eyed a bluish-red ribbon along the rim of the pool.  Hand in hand, they advanced to investigate.

The two became gripped in a frozen state of shock!  They stood motionless and all color left their faces which shared each two dilated eyes; Marian slowly stared into the pool and then   swung around to face away.  Throwing her hand over her mouth to try and stop any vomit that would surely have happened.   Ted churned his head from side to side in hopes of rejecting a steady stare.  In the large pool where the mangled, blood-stained bodies of men, women, children of all ages and sizes were indiscriminately deposited here from a massacre:  It was the  result of the Sport of the gods  from a night or two earlier. 

The body of one Jerald Cosnic, a daring Mus-chute, could barely be seen in the mayhem.

The two stumbled feebly back up the incline by which they came.  Marian had become a failure to her Dulmen breeding, whimpering like a child of three, and it was plain that something alien had invaded her psyche like a lightning bolt.   For some reason, somehow, the Dulmen Circus  didn’t compare, exactly why remained unclear, but something that Marian had previously said….something…!

“Ted  Zeo!”  The voice was booming and startling!   Marian’s breath was frightened out of her.  Ted squeezed her arm in the wake of terror.

Before them, one leg advanced,  fist on his sword,  whiten in anger, stood a muscular Dulmen soldier. Sunlight struck the gold of his helmet companying the purple plume.  Further behind the soldier stood three other soldiers gripping their atomic-weaponized swords: a sardonic, dank expression on each.  Outside, positioned about, were transport crafts.

“Come with us,”   the soldier boomed again, “you’re under arrest!” 

**********

Chapter Eight

Alterato Sonata

It was quiet.   It was peaceful.

The rough branches of the maple tree rocked in the breeze that caressed the forest.   The leaves would twist and turn, this way and then that way, as if to push themselves out of their branch sockets.   The outer leaves would strive to clutch at the ancient Sherman Oak across from it, almost as if the two would  clasp branches together in a handshake suited for nature.

Above their autumn green-orange-brown color was a pure light blue of the afternoon sky.  The slightly chilled air gave the scenery a medicinal feeling.  Extremely high in the sky was seen the thin vaporous white cirrus clouds.  There were also large patches of mild light blue until the sky partnered with fluffy cotton-like cumulus clouds.

It was the freshness of nature, almost unbelievable in its beauty  and delicacy.

What was once a heavy deciduous forest of broadleaf branches and sturdy oaks, tree seedlings, shrubs, wildflowers, and a forest floor of last year’s leaves (as well as many thousands of years past) had become the straggled, matted and weeded ‘lot’ that sat just beyond the industrial area on the verge of a major city.  Its eerie but tranquil beauty of years past was lost, exemplified by a seriously rusted  piece of metal obscured beneath the leaves, or a girder heavily coated with moss and autumn-stricken ivy; these were just a few of the tell-tale artifacts telling of the activities that once ensued over the millennia. 

A crystal-clear stream meandered down through the woods carving a well-defined gully as it went.  It was feed by an underground spring just over the hill to the north, and it lazily rolled on down to the granite and flint rock cliff and became part of an industrial waste pond a mile farther down the sloping terrain. How this natural beauty of pure, uncontaminated fluid existed in relationship to the turbulent history that occurred during the thousands of years at that very spot would be a difficult conundrum.  But there it was: a small silvery, shinning ribbon of icy fresh water in a dying world!

Yet, it was quiet.  It was peaceful.

A small pinkish form was making brisk jabbing motions at the bottom of the slope by which the stream ran.  Two tiny hands were actively taking he mud and packing it tightly together to make a dam on the edge of the water; two small feet would dolt back and forth through the lip of the water, quickly grabbing small shinning crystals from the bottom of the stream and artistically place them on his handiwork.

“You are playing pretty, honey?”  came the voice of the mother from the above tree line up above the stream.   The mother was tenderly smiling down to the boy  from her reclined position; she had put aside her paint and crayons from her work on the canvas she had placed before her to watch her two-year-old child.  The mild blue eyes of the fair young child rose to look at her lovingly and a joyous smile rose to acknowledge her.

Then his glances were increasingly drawn to the majestic, lone Shermond oak tree that  towering over his mother.   It was his tree, he thought, his favorite tree.  He has just claimed it.   It would forever be part of him and his memory, along with the rosy complexion of his mother so lovingly looking at him; and all fresh smells of the damp living woods about him.    A great joy swelled within him.  He suddenly threw his mud pack onto his youthful creation.

“Ya, Mommy!  Pretty!  See house!”   One or two more mud packs on his already cluttered creation and he would be finished.

He turned around in circles two times with a musical sound from his stubby little neck, only to be confronted by a rolling tumble weed which hit him smackdab in the face; the surprise of it caused him to fall on his backside, clutching the weed as if it was a ball.  He began to laugh just as joyously as before. He saw the whole event as wonderfully humorous.   The mother was also laughing affectionately at the episode. 

“Okay now—-build a big castle.”  his mother conjectured to the little toddler.  I  build ‘god castle,’ he announced back referring to the capitol Bubble Cities.  I go there, Momma.”

“Yes honey. Now play pretty.”

The mother went busily back to her artwork, but the baby really wasn’t interested in creating anymore.  The child had already gathered a small but unique collection of bits and pieces consisting of old Dulmania refuge and ancient debris, carrying the tumble weed to his spot and adding it to his collection.   A small coil, maybe a gear that had been at one time from a lazar pistol that were in the army of the Quothian Empire.   It was badly rusted  and the twists of the coil could barely be discerned.   Also found were a few bits of metal stripping and more recent pieces of film from the industrial laboratory only about two thousand feet away.   The child cherished it with more vigor: It was to him the prettiest of the bunch.

Already he was conducting a new excavation on a new discovery.  Several feet away, just to one side of a dwarf evergreen, he had found a rounded pebble and metal stone, overturned it,  having been guided there by the sight of the dwarf evergreen.  Such a tiny plant.  He would make it his by uprooting it and bringing it to his mother, but when the task proved too complicated, the child went back to working the protruding object.  He rested his small features by the rounded object and began to dig  around what now actually was a crescent of metal in the dirt.  Occasionally, the mother and child would exchange glances at each other.

It was quiet.  It was peaceful.

To the south just barely over the slope of the hill at the top the curved top of the industrial complex was visible.  The opaque material of the building would light up with a flare in minute intervals.  When each burst of light occurred another atomic-synthetical  ‘slab’ was created for the industries used in spacecraft and aircraft and other mechanical uses.   The vast amount s of atomic radiation and waste was quickly dispelled through the  affinity chute  whence the contaminates were drawn into a fluid retainer and discharged into the waste pond at the base of the lot.   Logically, the catalyst substance in the water was to hold and subdue the radioactivity…its success was very elusive.

The babe seemed to sense the awesome and terrifying prospect of the site, even though details were only vague recollections from misunderstood conversations.

He swung his little head away from the direction of the industrial complex; he wanted to concentrate on what on what was left of the beauty around him.   And he found beauty everywhere as seen in the weeds, shrubs, that swarmed the dry and complexed ground; a milliped was briskly traveling the branch of a tiny beech tree seedling and he sat there and innocently stared at the insect until it reached the slightly brown and orangish-green leaves of the plant.  He looked down at his project  and began to circumnavigate the stick around his bit of archaeology.

Time had raced past this spot changing the forest mantle and at fantastic speed.   At one time a giant Tyrannosaurus stalked these grounds.  Beneath a thick layer of leaves, several yards into the dense brush, enshrined in hardened and fossilized rock many feet below, were the footprints of that mighty beast; indeed, twenty feet further away and fifty feet below the ground  was the skeleton of a giant Triceratops.  But no one will discover it at this time, far too secure in its tomb—-nor does anyone care.

And time had raced ahead bringing another collage and cinematic swarth of  history:  flint arrowheads, broken bits of clay pottery yet to be discovered by those with more able minds.   For amongst the varied color pebbles that lined the stream  the ancient settlement of an Indian tribe existed—-pulverized and camouflaged by times’ passage, but it was there.

If one knew where to look, he would investigate the hallow of the large maple on the edge of the brush, beneath a heavy muck of leaves and sediment, to find the remains of a rubber strip that once was part of an automobile tire.   At one time a heavy rope held that tire to a  thick lower branch on that maple; children would gleefully play and swung on it.

An active hangout for the neighborhood hoodlums during the mid-twentieth century, a campfire would be built near the deceased scarlet oak tree, only sixty feet from where the babe now played, the teenagers would sit and tell vulgar jokes and use gutter talk and drink heavily of the beer they had stolen from the back room of a tavern on the skirts of that woods.   A foot further in the dry cracked soil was the end of a busted switchblade knife brought to that condition during the many boyish but dangerous scuffles around the campfires. 

An even more current artifact was the riblike girders of steel that once was the supporting foundations of a field buggy  factory where manufacture of a small  compact  mobile unit that once raced between the slender bodies of the R-Squad positions.  It was destroyed one night during an apparent sabotage attempt: the white color of the aircraft pad was unrecognizable.  

Though largely contaminated by the passage of time, the weakened forest still gave a gallant shout-out of its vitality.  The breeze could still stir through the hues of colors and still play frolic with them.  The old Shermond oak  would smoothly bow its head in acknowledgement   —    and then bow, stand erect momentarily once again, only to bow routinely as if a conductor in a grand symphony of nature.  

The smell of decaying leaves swelled-up in the child’s nostrils.  It was a smell so rich and good, yet  as symbolic of the dying world in which he sat and played, he had been raised in one of those families that had been relatively ignored by the multiple tentacles of the Dulmen spy world.  He had an original mother, though the scandals in the life of such peons were so accepted, no shock had yet been etched in the mind of such  a little one.  His lovely mother was dying slowly of a venereal disease, that only the aristocracy, the rich and pompous, were allowed the luxury of a cure—that Dulmania mental sickness of mind of the power-hungry rulers had not yet become possible to medicate or cure.  Indeed, during the Sedox Era, such diseases had been totally wiped out through prenatal immunization.  With the advent of various Dulmen instruction only those politically favored received the ‘remedy.’

The babe had no need or capacity to be concerned with the problem, he was gazing wonderingly towards the sky.   He watched the cumulus clouds pass over.  He almost felt as if he could reach out and touch their serene, rolling surfaces.   A gust of wind swept past him carrying the autumn aroma.  He contently went back to his digging.

A red squirrel scampered up the trunk of an old spruce tree and made its way quickly through the branches.  With a shove from the wind, the spruce hugged a dogwood nearby and intermingled its crimson-green leaves and red berries: the squirrel traversed through all this.  The babe was still attracted to the mighty lone Shermond Oak hovering over the bank of the stream, to the child it stood out as the grand conductor of the autumn symphony of musical players of other oaks, scents of thistle and evergreen, maples, hickories, and chestnuts.

The wind died down, the branches and twigs and stims of the wild living that had been swaying around them came to rest.  Birds with long, slender wings  slid over trees and then ascended high into a patch of cloudless sky.   The breeze started the second stanza of this nature song, leaves surging from one side to another, lulling momentarily, and then starting over again.

It was quiet.  It was peaceful.

It was a special treat  that nature preserved for the lonely and for the unfortunate; those who lasted through years of unending turmoil, revolution, and mayhem; of the same frightening faces and traumatic interludes:  these also shared with nature the unfortunate struggle for life in their diverted innocence, this much was nature willing to give. 

The lazy trickle of the stream water threw a blanket of comfort over the whole natural embroidery.  The contentment of this favorite autumn day was reflected in the dirty little hands of the child who busily stroked his stick around that ancient object slowly emerging from the ground; his small stature only making that task much more difficult.

The breeze combed his thin blonde hair, and the child mumbled letters he was mimicking from the object—“A—D.”   These were left over, but still largely used in various citizenry breeds ‘‘from the age of the Great Eagle,”  the golden years of the Sedox Era, a preDulmen empire  that had large hopes of a One World Society.  The Sedox wanted the language to be short, concise, and very communicable: the Telephar alphabet.  Each letter denoted a full syllabus of expression.  What came to be neanderthal-like grunts, hisses, and whimpers, was said to be the most sophisticated language in the world.   “E” – energy;  power; force, and so on.  “A” – atom, miniature; ash: all-encompassing, and so forth. Later, with the dissolution of that society, the Dulmen rediscovered the novelties in old, Anglo-Saxon twentieth century expression and created a whole mystique using proper titles and rank.

The rather snappy and melodic chanting of the child came to a peak as the babe finished his excavations.  Nearby, the quiet crunching of a forest predator could be heard munching on several acorns; a hard low thud somewhere deep in the woods as a fox had scampered knocking a stone into the gully,  followed by a refrain of a gust of air sweeping through the orchard grass;  the yellow backsides of still green leaves fighting to parade their existence in the green and brown forest.

Somewhat breathless, the child began to tug at the object with both hands, his bare body  had begun to show signs of chilling that even the early morning Sun wasn’t able to alleviate. The boy was too preoccupied to worry about his personal comfort.   With a final yank, he pulled the badly corroded object out of the ground.  In his tight little fist, he examined it closely, and utilizing two dirt caked stubby legs, he toddled over to his to his pile of findings, throwing the object down onto the top of his collection.  The object sled down the heap into some autumn-struck Kenilworth Ivy.  It was a round object, obviously having had a silver tinge at one time, and an image of a face could be seen against the corroded edges.  It was an ancient coin, a coin from an empire that bore the words IN GOD WE TRUST on one side: a plaything that the child had no way of comprehending its true worth.

The mother now motioned for the little one to come to her.  She stood up and held the outdoor scene she had created for the child to see: an exact replica of the wooded area about them with the white, fuzzy figure of the boy in the middle of the artwork.   He smiled contently at his mother and began quickly to struggle up the small pathway leading to the top of the ridge where his mother waited patiently with an outstretched hand.   When he reached her, somewhat out of breath, he firmly grasped her hand.  As they turned to leave, the child held back to place his hand along the bark of the Shermond Oak.  He looked straight up into the towering limbs above him with the fluffy white cumulus clouds passing directly farther above.  It was his tree; his favorite tree; it would be his forever he told himself.

It was quiet.   It was peaceful.

He turned to walk along with his mother. His small body busily pumping his short infant legs to keep up with her as they strolled home through the tall stalks of grass.

**********

Chapter Nine

The Palace of Dreams

Across the snow-white pavement of the square strode three strutting figures with their uniform capes gingerly whipping behind them.  A steady slap echoed against the whiteness of stone and marble as their sandals thrusted against the surface. The sun seemed to have darkened in the shade of the trees circling the large square.  They appeared to be heading towards a large monument in the center.  It was a towering pinnacle of stone with a small rectangular opening and around its parameter were windows spaced systematically  of no great quantity; the monument came to a tapered point: It housed many privileged mortals which slept in the dreams of the gods—-and perhaps, just perhaps, reasoned Martin, a conspirator!

They passed several stone columns and large monolith slabs placed arbitrarily throughout the square that contained slogans and epitomes dedicated to privileged  individuals as engravings heavily and gracefully on their front sides.   For the fact, however, that greenery and shrubbery were suspiciously missing along with some architecture,  it would have passed for a cemetery of the 21st Century.

The three soldiers marched briskly through the morning air, and with each step coming closer, broader in nearness, the top of the building seemed to rise higher and higher until suddenly they passed into the thick darkness of the interior.  Martin notice that the stones lining the rim of the entrance were enormous and a stunning tribute to Dulmania.

They passed down an extremely large corridor that took several minutes to traverse.   In the shadows of an immediate Entrance Room, they were met by blinking red, green, white lights  on the face of the Computer Wall that scintillated the interior with the synchronistic pulsations of color.   A smooth but varying musical hum weaved out from the guts of the Computer that nursed a collaboration of  the many incubated individuals that were housed to live an eternity of many times, either for a service rendered or a debt  paid.

“Welcome, gentlemen.  Welcome to the Palace of Dreams.  You have  been announced.  We greet you Son of Misslou, we hope you find the evidence you are looking for.”  It was the voice of the Computer: its store of information was fantastically clairvoyant.

Martin smiled musingly, “Good morning.’’   Matin glanced around at his two companions who were also smiling.  “May we  visit your corridors?”

“Be my guest!’  The Computer spoke with a mellow but nostalgic frequency.

“Thank you.”  Martin stepped a foot or so to enter a corresponding and ascending corridor.

”Please forgive the housekeeping,” it replied, “we don’t have visitors often.”

Martin glanced back momentarily, “Thank you.  Thank you very much.”  One didn’t have to know the age of a Computer to demonstrate politeness, it was just something about its manner that deemed it so.

The three started their journey up corridors of the temple.  Suspended on the invisible Jets, they progressed up the passage of Cells.  To one side an infrequent beam of sunlight flashed across the corridor from the “peep hole” rectangular windows; on the other side were synthetic viewing windows into the Cells allowing one to investigate the Sleep Chambers.

Martin would occasionally investigate a Sleep Chamber, and holding up his hand, the conveyer would slow, and the movement the movement of the suspending jets would stop momentarily as Martin would peer intrigued into the Chamber.  Usually, the person inside  would be laying in a silver suit, silent, and still on a metallic slab.   On the wall above the person’s head, a roving Eye would pivot in its socket and scan every inch of the Chamber.   Below, a Computer Unit showed signs of its existence by its scintillating lights.

The Dream Palace, or Temple as it  was called, was the Dulmen  way to reward those of a certain Elite with their noticeable and outstanding  reward from this life (and the next).   He or she may have been an Outer-City peasant – or a noblemen  — of the Bubble Cities, a soldier who had done some heroism in outer space,  or had fought in a success Dulmen battle, now being rewarded with ecstasy and sensuous delights of the senses of millions of years crushed into  and capsulated into the matter of a few minutes.   These individuals need not live out their normal life span.   Normally, a person would die and the sum total of his existence, his personality, would be computerized  and his identity would become a part of the Great Brain to live on eternally as a recorded memory bit of holographic information in the Nirvana of the dark depths of the awesome, master Brain: a scientifically verifiable eternity.

Halfway up the Memorial, the Computer spoke:

Pardon me gentlemen, I have an irregularity located on Level 85.   My information suggests nothing of alarm, but I suggest you check it out anyway.”

Martin arched his neck back and looked curiously into the air, “Thank you, it may  be what we are looking  for.”

Martin’s pulse stepped up slightly.  His expression took on a more serious consternation clinching his teeth lightly together causing a drawn expression on his cheeks.  It had been a full day – with much tension – under the weight of his promise to catch the elusive entities.  His patience was gone and he was wearing a peculiar wrath at this point.  Body upon body, face upon face, had appeared through the Chamber Windows as they swiftly ascended the corridor.  Some had a pasty white appearance, others a soft pink.  All were, however, straight lipped, unsmiling in their perfumed dreams.

The Suspension Platform  slowed bit by bit until it stopped suddenly across from the hatch door to a particular chamber.  The hum of the conveyer jets died down and then disappeared with a low hiss.  The three men stepped over to the hatch-door, Martin peered in but suddenly reeled   back, regaining his composure, and stepping again to peer through the diamond-hard viewing portal.

Inside, was a young lady sitting upright, yet unable to beak the straps around her wrists.  By the expression on her face, she was in stark terror and physical pain, rolling her head side to side  and twisting her mouth in agony.  He long hair was pasted to her lips by her saliva.  She gave a blank look, almost as if she saw them, yet didn’t, perhaps looking beyond them.  Because of the soundproof enclosure nothing could be heard, but she obviously was in the struggle of a great tragedy.

“What’s wrong with her, sire?”  a soldier asked stepping closer to look.  Martin just shook his head.

‘‘She appears to be  in agony!  Is something wrong with the machinery or electronics here?” asked another.

A malfunction!  It can’t be corrected at this time.  She’ll have to be taken out by our technician custodians,” announced the Computer.

“Has it anything to do with our quest ?”  asked Martin rather loudly, still having difficulty viewing the horrid scene before him.

None.  She has not received the proper information feed,” was the Computer’s nonchalant response.  “It is nothing more.”

“Why?”

”I don’t know.  This has never happened recently.  Most Dulmen are quite receptive.”

“Yet she is not !”  stated Martin sarcastically.

“No.”

“You say no conspiracy,”  Martin was analyzing differently,  “ I’ve seen this seed of rebellion lately and it indicates only one thing: a connection with the conspirators!”

Maybe so,” replied the Computer, “ but we’ll never know for sure.”

“She is completely out of our reality!” challenged Martin as the Computer ended the conversation in sedate,  human phonetics.  Martin asked no more questions.  He peered into the chamber once again: the girl was no longer young and beautiful but had magically turned into an elderly hag of many years, wrinkled and decrepit and barely able to hold herself upright.  Martin saw something else: before their eyes, suddenly, her hair had turned gray and silver, bit by bit, it turned to white!

Martin glanced down at the Identification Label on the hatch of the cubicle, it read:   Mary Longarm, 5890-892-4600, Sector 5, Level 85.

“Let’s get out of this horrid scene, leave.” Martin ordered almost begging.  The military unit turned to descend to the ground level.

Martin was fearful.  Something!  Something different had been seen in that face of bedlam: it had signified something beyond Dulmania Control and he just didn’t know how to picture it.  The face of the Outer City citizens, when soldiers had jested and played with the experimental release from Control, the experimenters could then see the reality outside of Dulmania; Martin grabbed his cape and sword handle in a tight and fearing grip.

**********

Elia had the small lamb safely nestled  in a bed of straw hear his slung hammock that extended along one side of the tent, while the other half housed a comfortable array of food, preserve, blankets, cushioned folding chairs, electric cooking stove (a rarity for a person as himself, and a well-cared for possession), plus a table and several stacks of clothing and blankets.

A hanging lantern descended a few feet from the apex of the tent and a cozy glow filled the weatherproof shelter.

It was early morning yet while the rising sun was only a few minutes away: stars could be seen clearly in the night sky above the pitch-dark forest.   Not a speck of light could be seen through the hills and mountain sides.  Not a campfire.  Not a torch blaze.  Not even the distant halo-glow of a Dulman city.  No, Elia’s tent stood alone in the valley with a singular warmth all its own.  The fire he had built to warm the sheep had finally died to a mass of glowing embers.  The braying of goats and sheep denoted a restlessness for the coming morning.

It also was a freedom that Elia wouldn’t have dared exercise except for the fact that several unusually large earthquakes have suddenly isolated a nearby area with the Caucasus Mountains as the diameter.  With the complete collapse and utter destruction of Mount Elbrus, the 18,500-foot mass of  rock and earth dissolving into rubble as if acted upon by several mysterious forces, Dulmen citizens left with a rapid hast explicit of uncontrolled fear.  The Officiates didn’t prevent the exodus, but rather aided it with great haste.  The unknown was always a highly controlling factor.

Elia’s ‘people’ quickly converged in droves from their few isolated ‘spots’ in the continent.  His ‘family’ had lived silently in the rugged valleys of upper Siberia.  It was there he would return within a few hours to carry-out the assigned task.  But now he wanted to mediate and contemplate first.

Combing his silky ‘mane’ back as best he could after taking a razor to his beard (shaving his face with the ancient razor; he had accompanied a disgust for lengthy hair of his more frivolous days), and washing his face, Elia went about the task of shutting down camp.   

He will pack his gear on the three mules that accompanied his short journey from the ‘village.’  The small lamb that he discovered, he will carry; aside from minor cuts and scratches, it had become symbol of the unfortunate, the lost, and those who were possibly blindly chivalrous.

Soon this curious  procession will be seen coming across golden fields and down a slopping pasture into the small street of the nearby desolate village.

“We have been given immunity”  Elia would think of the ever-watchful eye of the awful Zeus, the Great Brain,  “but why?  And for how long?”

Quietly swishing his strong lion’s tail like a content cat, Elia glanced at the gentle lamb.  He stroked the lamb  twice.  The desolate and uninterrupted serenity of nature’s quit was too good to be true, and the star-studded heavens seemed to hold back that potential, haunting fear that might break through any moment  and cause even the embers of the campfire to extinguish.

But the moment also made Elia feel good.   It gave him that extra bit of courage he would need when he will shortly visit the various citizens in Dulmania.  It had been five years, but that was not long enough a period to wipe away the familiar faces  and some of the  happiness and even the sad and sordid past-times he had with those neighbors.  How would they receive him?

What would he say?

Would he even finish the journey?

Or would it already be too late?

**********

Chapter Ten

Basso Continuo

Uncle Redress had watched the faint glow of a speck of light on the scanner.  Over a period of minutes, it increased in brightness.  He checked the location as to the territory of the find.   It had passed into an area that was Do Not Trespass-Restricted Area of the Dulmen government.  

His face held a soft, low smile; but if one looked closely, he could note a sign of sardonic wickedness there also.  He couldn’t help himself altogether because some baser instincts within his subconscious adhered to his Dulmen training  –   a mild ‘jerk’ of his head indicated as much—and he enjoyed it!   Everyone had been allotted their potent of Z-BR8 capsules.

“Good!  Good,”  he muttered to himself as he jumped from one scanner to another, peering over the shoulders of  the operators.  “Fine! Fine.”

The room lit up with brilliance momentarily and then sled back into total darkness as someone entered through the dissolvable portal to the room.

“Police have been dispatched, Sire,”  the person informed.

“Did you also inform Martin?”  Uncle redress questioned. 

“Immediately, sire.  He has just been reached at the Palace of Dreams.”

“Palace of Dreams?”

“Yes, sire.”

Uncle Redress looked somewhat puzzled.  What could Matin have found so interesting there?  Surely, he didn’t think a conspirator would be able to hide in that scrutinized mansion.

“Oh well,” Redress mildly exclaimed  and turned to look back at the florescent panels, “I suppose they’ll take the captors to the Hall of Criminal Detention,’’  then quickly declared, “yes, and let me know as soon as they arrive.” 

“Yes, sire.’’

‘‘Tell Martin, I leave within a few minutes.”

“yes, sire.”

“That’s all.”

The room lit up again, and immediately regained it black solace.  Uncle Redress folded his hands at his crotch and balanced himself on his toes, rocking, showing some childish smugness.  This could be a big event for him!  Oh yes, a big episode for a true god of Dulmania, one could become ecstatic within such wellbeing. 

“I believe they are captured now, sire,”  one of the operators informed, “the Pointer has faded.”

“Check back with me, informing me by Communications; if so, I’ll leave immediately.’’  Redress smiled confidently.  The operator spoke swiftly into the Communications. Uncle Redress had begun to sway like a high-strung adolescent, partially singing a tune.   He rubbed his hands his hands together in excited  impatience.

“They are headed back, sire,”  the operator announced.

“Then I go!”  He informed his personnel of their further duties.

The room lit up again, and immediately regained its black solace as he disappeared into a fray of light.

**********

The nude boy and girl stood before the semi-oval seat of the Questioner that swayed in midair before them.  The Judgment Hall  had a curious touch of Aztec and  Mayan architecture blended rhythmically with that of ancient Rome (all of which was lost history to average citizens and some of those present).  Martin sat there soberly tapping on his new black boots with his short leather whip—-an obvious distinguished aspect of the Questioner and Examiner.

Behind the two captives were several officials of the immediate Investigation Squad, which included Redress and Arian.  They all stood in patient complacency, looking sternly at the two, for this was the break they had been waiting for. 

The chamber was dimly lit in red that surrounded  as a phosphorus glow in the chamber.  There was also burning torches protruding from strange architecture in the crannies uniformly located on down the walls leading into the darkness at the far end of the room and contrasted expertly with the white glow of Martin’s throne.

Martin stepped from his throne and walked casually over to the boy; he glanced at him with great hate that impinged upon the limits of his psyche. 

“Do you know why you are under arrest?”  Martin snapped sharply.  He had taken his allotment of Z-BR8 to curve his rage.  He continued to pace in front of the boy. 

“Yes, we trespassed on restrict and private Dulmen property.”

“Is that right?”  Martin stopped to ponder the boy’s erroneous assumption, or lie, then continued to walk.  “And nothing else?” His questions were brisk.

“I don’t know.”  The boy was shaken with wrenching fear.  His body had turned to a cold icy feel from the panic growing within him.  His face was stained from tears.  Their wrists were swollen where cords bound the two, but not necessarily out of necessity, but mockery.

“I doubt that!”  Martin stopped to tap him spitefully with his whip.  He continued in his restless pacing. 

“It is much more than strange that the two found the unfortunate ‘burial’ site at the old relic?”  interjected Arian, referring to the ancient school building that had existed in somewhat pristine condition. Apparently, its condition was due to use before by Dulman governmental agencies.

“Yes.  Yes, it was, Arian,”  agreed Martin.  “And also find it interesting that it was in such a short matter of time, as well.”   Martin paused his pacing and gazed coldly into the boys eyes, “ Was it because you had followed the solders from the Jest to the old relic—secretly hiding?”

The boy knew what the godman was driving at, and he rocked his head from side to side in utter disbelief, “No, no sire.  It was nothing like that.  It was just a morning stroll.”

“Just a stroll!”

“Yes.”

“Just a morning stroll, nothing more?”

The boy timidly and hopefully glanced up at Matin, “Yes.”

Matin’s expression turned to dire hate, “You lie!”

This was not happening, the boy thought, it was not true, surely, surely someone could defend them, yes, someone—-the Brain—-yes, the Brain knows!  “Ask the Great Lord!” the boy blurted out.

“Indeed!”  Martin shouted out, raising his whip as if to slap the boy, the boy jerking back his head to absorb the potential blow.  Martin lowered his whip to his side in more composure.  “Indeed. You see, we have—-and you were detected!”

Detected?”

“Yes!”

“As to what?  We’ve done nothing. Said no…”   He stopped, for he suddenly realized how strange and misleading it would have been to complete that remark.  Mark saw his predicament.

“Yes, your correct child, you said and saw much—-it showed on our scanners!  Trapped!  Caught!”  Martin stood  looking dominantly at the two as he slapped his whip repeatedly in his palm.   A slight smile of arrogant pleasure was on his lips.  The girl began to cry aloud.

A moment of silence emerged, then Martin asked, “What have you to say for yourself?”

Ted’s thoughts were now rapidly envisioning that kind old man they had encountered, the visions of which had to have been detected by the Scanner-Sensors.  He could picture his rosy complexion, his flowing white robes, his cane in hand, and that air of a personality associated with something outside of Dulmania, something totally disconnected with the mile after mile of stone and metal, synthetic construction, of Circus, of Jest, of the atrocities such as that Marian and he had stumbled upon previously; and he spoke of a Father—-a Father which sparked a warm glow within Ted’s heart that he never realized existed.  Ted certainly never experienced it with his own father.

“It was nothing evil, Lord,”  Ted pleaded, “we were just discussing an elderly man I had met.  He was kind.  A kind person.  He spoke no harm.”

“No harm?  We think differently.  We Sensed  differently.  There is something there that is aberrative—-it doesn’t equate, it doesn’t compute!”

Marian was sobbing almost hysterically.  She fell forward at the feet of Martin and began kissing them, pleading irrationally for mercy while visions of the fate to befall such traitorous action began to enthrall her thinking.  Oh, how now she remembered the reports of slaughter in the Circus.

In Dulmania, one wasn’t just content to help the hierarchy capture potential conspirators, but if, within one’s self and own being, a person could detect any trace of rebellion, any smidgen of resentment or fear, that person would be disposed to turn his or herself over to the officials of the Bubble Cities! 

From that point, a person would the go through Purging and finally Ecstatic Death  with the promise of eternal life in the Information Banks of the Big Sire.

Long lines of the confessors would line into flanks and march solemnly into the center of the Circus.  There they would sing praises to the gods and goddesses of Dulmania of whom they wished to resign in eternity.  Drugged  into a state of sublime ecstasy with Z-BR8 and other hallucinogens, they patiently awaited their forthcoming slaughter into their eternity.   It was hoped that this mirage prompted others watching to jump into the Arena  as also confessors and receive the same ending.

At this point, Marian didn’t seek such a reality; she wanted to live her life out.   She insisted, he had done nothing wrong.

“Can you tell us where you will meet this man?”  Martin began questioning again.

“I don’t know, sire.  That is, not exactly.”

“Go on.”

“It was during late summer at the waterfall of the Lily Pads, the one decorating the Goddess Vera.   I occasionally walk there because it is not too far from my home; Vera has been a patron goddess.”  Martin sneered at what he felt was a dubious remark by the boy.   “One day as I sat praying, I felt a presence behind me—-opening my eye to see a reflection cast in the water before me….”   Ted was beginning to relax somewhat now, thinking he was doing something to please the gods, “….I was startled.  In pure snow-white robes, the person was almost as if he had materialized.  But I had turned only to see an old man balanced on a wooden cane.   He looked calm and sincere.  There was something about his deposition that projected great wisdom.”

“What did  he say?”   Martin looked casually down at the girl; she had stopped crying to listen.  Martin nudged her to her feet indicating she should stand to listen; this she did revealing a dirty tear-stained face.

“The first words to come out of his mouth were, ‘If you must pray, why not pray to a real God!’”  Martin stared ahead with resentfulness.  “Then he proceeded to say  that I was a ‘Son of Evil’ and would die in evil unless I came face to face with the ‘Father of All.’”

“A traitor!  Truly a traitor!”  Uncle Redress shouted.  He stepped forward near Martin to speak.  Martin bid him silent.  “Go on,”   Martin requested. 

‘He said many things; some I cannot remember!  He spoke of ‘another reality,’ one outside of Dulmania. He said we were ‘slaves of unreality.’”

“Blasphemy!” Martin shouted. Ted’s eyes widen in expectation.  Something quite unexpected was happening here that neither he nor Marian had come to grips with earlier. 

“He also said we were ‘servants of death,’  and that our freedom was only a ‘slave reality: real slavery.’’’

“Why wasn’t this old man detected by the Big Sire?”  The Son of Misslou turned to accost his uncle, “Why didn’t the scanners pick him up at this point?”

“Perhaps if has something to do with this ‘other reality’ he spoke of,” Arian said.   He came out of the dimly lit red of the back area into the white light of the foreground.

“You have ‘freedom.’  By the hand of the gods, you have complete, total freedom.  Has anything been kept from you?”  Martin queried.  “In the Brain is complete ‘Truth.’   In the cities of the gods are complete reality.  We create realityWe are reality!”  

The allegation this old man made to young Ted made Martin quite confused, “We don’t deny you freedom, short of traitorous action to Dulmania….”

Martin jerked his head back, and then made several short jerks, stopping to gaze into the air over their heads of those before him: The huge letters M-A-R-T-I-N had materialized overhead: The Brain was about to speak, the Brain would sometimes make its presence known at surprising times and in often unexpected ways.   Much like a tele-type of ancient times, a message produced in midair and passed before them across the room.  “THERE IS A BIT OF INFORMATION THIS YOUNG MAN MUST RECALL.”   A short and silent pause must have been on the lips of the Unseen Genius, “IF HE WOULD RECALL, SEVERAL YEARS AGO, AS A BOY OF FIFTEEN, YOU MADE AN ERNEST REQUEST OF ME.”  Ted was now showing signs of trauma, now bending on one knee,  “YOU HAD A BROTHER YOU HATED,  HE WAS TO BE A SOCALLED ‘SON OF GOD.’  YOU WISHED HIM DEAD AND SWORE TO REVEAL THE SEEDS OF TREACHERY IN HIM.  YOU ALSO SWORE TO THE SEEDS OF ANY FURTHER TREACHERY IN HIM—AND EVEN GREATER ALLEGIANCE TO ME.”  Another pause before more frightening words, “YOUR  BROTHER WAS DESTROYED SHORTLY AFTER, WAS HE NOT?” 

Silence was a heavy camion in the room.   Its drudgery lasted almost a minute.   Martin was the first to muster a breath—-then words.

“Freedom!  Total and complete freedom!  Not slavery!”   Martin’s words had been given an extra firmness considering the Brain’s equally  overbearing expression.  Ted Zeo no longer could speak.  He was numb in the quagmire of confusion.

“Where are you going to meet this man again?” demanded Martin.  There was only silence.  Ted gazed blankly at the floor.

“Where are you going to meet this old man again?”  shouted Martin grasping the boy by the hair and jerking his head back in a swift motion.   The boy gagged.  A look of fear and hate, both, covered the boy’s face.   The boy clenched a fist.   “Where?”  Martin raised his whip; his eyes dilated with hate.   Martin’s smooth childlike complexion had become contorted into a ruddy pink  beneath the contortions of face muscles; fury was denoted by short snorts of air out of his nostrils; he was a magnificent example of Dulmen machinery functioning at its fitful best.

“Tell him!  For the sake of the Dulmen gods—-tell him!”  Marian became hysterical and moved towards the boy to add emphasis.  “Tell him, you imp of a demon!  Tell him!  Tell him!”   She began to beat the boy with her fists: harder and harder!

“Please Marian,”  whimpered the boy, somewhat distancing from the control of the demi-god and was swaying with each blow from the girl. “Don’t Marian,” he pleaded, “please,”   his nose began to bleed, “ please don’t,” he sobbed.

The guards grabbed the girl and pulled and pulled her back from her contortions of fear and rage.  Her actions apparently verged on insanity (if that had any equivalency in Dulmania).

Martin relaxed momentarily and began to speak more casually.  “I suppose this old man led you to believe that Dulmania was somehow not in your best interest.’’   Martin recalled how the main themes at the University centered on how all treachery and rebellion and how the overshadowing evidence of Dulmen  benevolence transfigured that.  “I suppose he told you how life inhabits not in the veins of Dulmania, but a Higher Power!”

Those words sparked  some acknowledgement in Ted Zeo.  He glanced up into the eyes of the demigod.

“Yes, that is correct.”‘  There was a twinge of spite in Ted’ remark.

“And that ‘killing’ at the hand of another mortal was wrong?”

“You are saying this, sire.”

“And that the gods of Dulmania are not really gods, but just flesh and blood such as he?”

Oh, how those ‘histories’ were now invading Martin’s memory.  Like phantoms of the past come out again, but only to haunt a forbidden secret.   And there was something being seen here now that he had not seen before that moment.

“And it was wrong to ‘hurt’ or ‘kill,’”  Ted continued in his own words.  Martin noted the arrogance of the boy.   Martin’s contorted lips and his grip on his whip again highlighted his hate.

“Then tell me traitor, how long will you be able to watch ‘this’ before you divulge the information we seek?”

Martin dismissed the guards, bluntly faced the girl, and began to beat the girl mercilessly.

**********

Chapter Eleven

Saltarello – Moderato

The waterfall cascaded over the rim of the cliff serenely, melodiously; the flowing water sprayed about exuberantly on the rocks into the pool below.   It narrowed into a stream fenced by lichen, foliage, moss, and other botanic vegetation.  Stone benches had been placed now and then along its bank.  Arching over the stream was a huge marble sculpture of the goddess Vera; she looked as if she were about to descend to the top of the stream and glide down the waterway: arms were at her sides and tilted gracefully.  Her chin slightly bent  towards the heavens and her cat-like eyes stared upwards with a look of longing.  She was treading on hundreds of smaller stone images of human arms and legs.  

In the spring of the year, the park site surrounding the waterfall was astoundingly beautiful.  Lily pads covered the small pond pools on each side  of the stream outlined by long lines of exotic flowers and plumage.   The stream contained at some points blossoms from apple and cherry trees. Roses would pop through the climbing vines partnering closely with oaks and weeping willows.  A few swans visited to dart back and forth and glide over the crystal-clear water.  The fragrance of luscious wild fruit ad botanic redolence strode in the breezes.   It was almost magical.  Rhythmic chatter would issue from couples who sat and made conversation and prayer to Vera.  Sometimes the dialogue became outrageous and the water would carry traces of scarlet and red.  Often, in pure indifference.

Ted Zeo sat motionless, expressionless.  His arms limp at his sides.   He protruded one leg out from him in a relaxed manner.  He obviously was drugged or under a form of Control.  He wore a one-piece outfit like moccasin material or animal hide, simple with an outdoor appeal.  His head was lunged slightly forward in his zombie gaze, and at the nape of his neck was a swollen red streak, a tell-tale sign of the whipping he received at the Crimson Corridor of Justice that night before.

As the birds chirped gently and cheerfully in the morning light, almost unnoticed came a ruffle from the brown-green ticket behind him.  Then it stopped.  It was followed by crunching, sliding gravel.  The boy was being watched by invisible glances. Ted somehow perceived the projections for he knew the source.   The gravel sound continued until a shadow fell across Ted’s lap.  Ted cared not to move.

“My father could not be here, Ted Zeo, alleged son of Maccabee Zeo, child of destruction—but instead, I offered to come.”  The voice was that of a much younger person.  It had challenge to its tone, a crisp determination, yet with compassion and benevolence. 

“Is that so?”  replied Ted, coolly, calmly.  He rotated his neck slightly, barely seeing the person  behind him.   “I’ve come to wait for him just as he said might be possible.”   Ted turned back to his original position.

The other young lad moved directly in front of Ted to face him.  “Why?  Why did you come again?”   Ted said nothing, just continued his trance-like stare.  The new-comer gave his name:  “My name is Matthew.  That name is highly esteemed among my people.  It had been given to those who hope to lead my people.  I only hope that I hall earn that name.”

Ted raised his eyes only momentarily to gaze at the boy.  He was somewhat near Ted’s age, but his look of youth was tempered.  The boy obviously has seen work, hard work, revealed by the creases and wrinkles in his hands.  His blonde hair was being tested by the wind and he appeared to be an outdoorsman.  His dark blue eyes were clear and analytical.  The thick cloak and robe-like mantle-toga were snow-white wool that almost glistened in the sunlight.

“You  can offer me nothing any longer.”   Ted remarked despondently, his eyes fixed upon the fair-haired boy.

“I offer the greatest gift of all.”   The youth stepped closer and in an unsuspected touch placed his hand upon the shoulder of the hopeless Ted.   “I can reveal to you the eternal love of an eternal Father.’’

Ted frowned again and lowered his head.  “Father!  What is a  father?  I am owned  by a guardian who presents me twice a year to the Department of Welfare for personal initiation into various Dulmen rites,”  he paused in thoughts that came sluggishly, “my mothers are many…no, my one legal guardian is a lady…”

“The true history of your family and ancestry is a confused and erroneous one — as is the fact with all  of Dulmania.  The truth of which you will not be able to bare  at this time.”

“To bare…”  murmured Ted, becoming incoherent in his thinking, “I must have you stay long enough.”   Ted swayed slightly and appeared to gasp for air while speaking.  He stumbled to his feet while Matthew graciously helped him.  “You must stay just a few minutes longer—just a few,”  Ted pleaded.

‘‘Of course, my…my brother.”  Matthew smiled and squeezed Ted’s shoulder affectionately.

A moment of silence was broken by a low but audible high-pitched sound above their heads.  The mellow-blue sky first appeared empty but then as if on an invisible angel’s harp strummed  beyond vision, high in the placid sky, it became louder and louder into a noticeable hum. 

The stranger quickly glanced over upward to see a silver speck zigzagging about a mile over their heads.  It was soon joined by another and then another, and all three descended vertically downward —- Dulmen transport globes that separated about two-hundred-feet above, spreading into a circle on the ground, one on the far bank of the steam and two on either side of the boys. 

At lightning speed,  Dulmen guards seized the bewildered youths.  Matthew jostled and pivoted on his toes much like ancient football players did when active in their sport, but it was in vain for his struggle was futile.  They harshly and expertly bound his wrists together behind his back and shoved him into a craft.  

Matthew slowly turned to glance at Ted from the transparent sphere.  With two guards next to him, Matthew appeared to be calm, giving Ted a glance of pity and determinism.  Ted was also bewildered by the arrest.  Slowly, they also led Ted into the other Bubble Craft.   A wave of a guard’s hand the crafts ascended slowly for the first ten feet and then picked up speed and rapidly veered briskly into the sky.

The arrest appeared to have completed more expertly  and profoundly than their earlier expectations.   They rewarded themselves with more Z-BR8 capsules.

In the on-going silence of the morning, a sparrow glided straight down the middle of the stream, banked, and fluttered to the bench on which Ted Zeo had been seated.  The bird chirped frequently while pecking with his beck on the stone.  Spying a small shiny object on the ground, the bird hopped down to it, eyed it suspiciously, and begun pecking it as well: It was a small medallion that had been lost in the shuffle of the arrest; sparkling clean and the silver circlet glittered with each turn.

To a discerning eye, one could see the miniature image of a dove descending upon a fish.

**********

Chapter Twelve

The Arena – Circus Maximus

The youth stood before two heavy metallic sliding doors, huge monstrosities with steady blinking lights around their edges.   Outside the thick structures one could hear the low, thudding throb of beating drums; the steady ‘‘Boom!  Boom! Boom!”   A slow hypnotic moan.   Guards stood beside the doors, awaiting to attend the matter of opening them and escorting the herd of homosapiens into the Circus Proper

Firm fingertips were upon the individual as two guards jerked his wrists  together and began to encase the cords around them.   It hurt.  It was painfully tight.  They checked him over to see if his robes were straightened properly for this fashion, especially the blood stains from previous whipping.   It was to be most illustrative.

“Stand ready to meet the gods!”  the one guard sneered.  He slapped the boy on the shoulder lunging him off-step and almost into the girl in front.   “Father, have pity!”  she sobbed huddling against the boy and supporting him to a standing position.  Matthew halfheartedly smiled back to the tearful girl, who was, then, immediately forced to turn back around.  In her face, though stained with from tears, and eyes that were  perpetually moist, he found solace, and better still, remembrance of something soft, warm, and loving that he had felt only a day ago; and apparently, had little chance of immediately returning to.

The guards, presently stunned by their allotment of Z-BR8, continued checking the captives on down the line.  Matthew’s mind was one big blur of colleting memories and events.  His capture had been quickly followed by many others in his community.  With amazing accuracy, scanners placed throughout Dulmania cities and rural regions begun picking out the, now, familiar white specs.  Within hours the maneuvers of the guards concentrated upon descending about Conspirators in an accurate science after the first global arrests of the Hidden People  that had been picked-up and transported to Mylar City for questioning. 

Then, just as swiftly, those scanners stopped: no more traces were found!  But Martin Seisbury  was happy with his accomplishment.  Apparently,  twenty-five conspirators had been caught  a few hours after Matthew’s arrest.   The Judgment Halls, which Martin now actively presided over, became crowded with large amounts of officials in the dimly lit crimson light of the auditorium.  One by one, the suspects would file before the brilliance of the Judgment Seat highlighted by the huge three-dimensional Dulmen emblem in the back wall.  Each suspect was dressed in the clothes of plain and simple garb of the nomad.  Each hung their heads in silence.  Each refused to speak or confess anything, but would speak-out with such expressions as:

“Father have pity on us!”

 Or occasional:

“Preserve us to the end.”

It would infuriate Martin immensely, and the watching crowd  (which often manifest itself as a violent mob) attempting to grab the prisoners and attempt murder but stopped by the mysterious and stunning flashes of large block letters overhead from the Brain:  “ LET THEM BE!”   And so, the mob would restrain their actions, drop their grips, fall back, and allow the nerve-shattered victims to remain to stand in silence—- silence or song —-for some would be so brazen as to sing sweet melodies—hymns  praising a One God—-a Creator of All.

It would be at this point that Martin would beat them maliciously or have them beaten, yet they remained silent upon his questioning, or they sang until knocked into unconsciousness.   This show of authority would come to an end when this giant-sized Dulmen ego was satisfied, and the victim finally sent to the Hyper-ocean where their brain patterns and memories were raped naked and minutely analyzed In the deep recesses of the Mighty Sire.   Every crook and cranny of their ‘super egos’ were psychologically dissected—-and even then, there was something that didn’t compute!

**********

Just when the patience of Dulmen gods were being irksomely tested, the needed information was discovered!  The major source of this simple tribe was located—-somewhat unwittingly—-during Dulmen psychological and mental rape.   The source was seemingly the cliffs and hills out on the far end of the Forbidden Zone near the edge of the Flats!    The Flats were mirror-like Moon-like prairies created by the searing and hellish heat of the last atomic-nuclear war on the planet:  a rough area of approximately 2000-miles square, pock-marked with deep dark craters—-centers of the various explosions that often evaporated-away rock, boulder, mound, bill or mountain!

It was only near the farthest  edge of the vast area that a gradual hill or rock irregularity would appear, until knolls and then large, majestic towering and even spiraling cliffs, unnatural archways, windows, and icicle-like columns.    It was within the corners, sinks and tight fissures of these cliffs that caverns had formed  within the bowels of rock by means of the gyrations and convulsions  in the earth from the nuclear holocaust; existing within these convenient caverns and stone hallows, the tribes of Conspirators had hidden for many, many eons—-secret, ever-elusive, ever watchful, yet never fully protected or invulnerable.  The only protection they had was the rugged terrain and —– some Higher Source.

The area had been immediately quarantined due to the extreme radiation in the thousands of roentgens and desolation; the, then, present government posted stern prohibitions and limits.  Any youth venturing into the areas would be almost instantly turned into a senile, deathbed  patient displaying wet and grotesque burns and sores.  The effects of the war could not be contained just to the Flats—-the governments did instigate a timely and ingenious propaganda as to explain away the global deaths which suspiciously appeared to be radiation poisoning.  The profligacy of human governments had not changed that much in intervening years. 

As Dulmania came into existence, various catalysts and Reducing Agents were dropped into the areas from orbiting spacecraft hoping to abate the radiation levels.  A certain amount of success was obtained, but the area was still avoided as dangerous and plague-like.   Children grew-up associating the area with the Dulmen god of War—-Maxz—-and the war-torn area was known as the Land of the War gods.

The fantasy taught to children was astounding, and the extreme to which the government went was significant of the huge statue which stood like a towering monster over a highway leading into the War Zone: a fanged, pupil-less, hairless monstrosity of a Dulmen solider with arms crisscrossed over his chest, disintegrator sword in his fist, and a metal-tipped whip in the other.   The statue rose some eight-hundred feet into the atmosphere and the top would often be obscured by clouds.

A large stone dedication at its feet announced: MARXZ – ALL THAT IS HUMAN.

**********

Chanting could now be heard through the large Arena doors.  The audience of the Arena must have grown full and spectators impatient.  There was no deed for citizens to be troubled by the weather  growing cooler and their losing their sun-warmed afternoons with barely warming  radiant heat from fall seasons  —-  to the contrary, the weather inside the Dulmen Bubble City was disgustingly mild and fair!  Their blood was already stimulated by drugs and Z-BR8 intoxicants.  Trumpets were starting to join the beats of the of the drums in a brisk and military style.

Directly in front of the metal doors, eloquently dressed, fully intoxicated ladies and gentlemen in elaborate garb danced in a childish fashion; their laughter was enough to cause horripilation and hysteria.  The dancing crowd began to disrobe each other teasingly; Matthew could only shake his head in disgust, tears began to roll down his cheeks.  Many of his people turned their heads in shame or disgust at such haughty display which gave little respect for the feeling of the new captives which were about to sacrifice their lives for some eternity in the memory of the gods.   Many had come forth to confess sympathies secretly harbored within themselves and realizing this only upon hearing the announced arrest of the Conspirators: and now they wanted to make final restitution with the hidden rulers of Dulmania.

Matthew’s eye caught a familiar face of a boy dancing in frenzied rapture, the same boy who he had confronted on the day of his capture—-his very being was about to be consigned to the electronic circuits of the Ultra-Computer. Ted Zeo!   Ted Zeo had finally made a ‘mark’ for himself in Dulmania eternity and legendary.  Matthew shook his head: so near, yet so far!  The fate of that young boy could have been different  if….  

Cries of horror and fear rose from behind Matthew and the snapping of a whip forced his attention to focus sharply on the new activity:  large transparent enclosures had been rolled into place on each side of the line.  Within them, hideous, snarling  and grotesque beasts—-The Boors—-lashed their tentacles about like octopuses, revealing between lashes large teeth in a gapping cavity of a mouth whose roars could  be heard even outside the enclosures.

Matthew’s people were in tears and cringing in freight.  Thoughts of Lorna, Matthew’s sister, as well as his father, Paul, were painfully as well as intimately haunting him.  But above all this was his vision of his sweet wife, Roseanne; he had felt her gentle fingers upon his hand numerous times in previous hours, looking up in expectancy of seeing her petite and smiling face, only to realize that this was a fantasy of his mind fostered by the fear of the forthcoming terror!

The men tried to comfort the women as best they could, handicapped by their imprisoned limbs.   Matthew struggled  back into the crowd to do likewise but was cut short of breath by a husky hand around his throat and forced back again; regaining his  breath, he stuttered, and then shouted over the heads of those before him into the crowds of people:

“Sing!  Sing!  Loud, my brothers and sisters!  Sing!”

Matthew tried to raise a clenched fist into the air in a show of brave expression, only to feel the pain of the cord around his wrists.  Tears streamed down his cheeks instead.

“Sing to our Father!  He has not left us!”

A large hand muffled his mouth, allowing only mumbles as he vigorously struggled, biting the hand of the soldier who grabbed his chin in pain.  The boy jutted himself straight and continued:

“This has happened for a purpose!  A new and terrible Age has opened!  The time has come!  It is here!  So, sing!”

The citizens, soldiers and aristocracy of Dulmania perhaps were struck  by the irony of the situation: The Brain, in its immense and total Power to Control, had allowed all players to exhibit  a veneer of free actions  rather than resort to rote zombieism, perhaps as a way of showing Dulmen eventual victory and Rule.

Matthew’s voice unexpectantly at last hit a noted of joy and he began to smile.  Then, just as suddenly he was knocked to the ground and left lying.  Immediately, voices rose in song, a stentorian melody, loud, vibrant; to the Dulmen, it was alien, incoherent ,  but to the persons of many centuries before, it would have been familiar.

“‘A mighty fortress is our God…,’ the song went, ‘a trusting shield and weapon,’  faces of the crowd and attendants became struck with surprise, ‘He helps us free from every need, that hath us now overtaken…’”

And on and on it went!   The snapping of the  indignant whip over their heads had little effect, neither the vile and nasty remarks of the soldiers, nor the slapping of the faces of the women.

“ ‘The old evil foe now means deadly foe: deep guile and great might, are his dread arms in fight…’”

The erotic dancers stopped suddenly in amazement and they began to study the strange chorus. Matthew regained consciousness and smiling was helped to his feet by someone unknown.  Despite pain, he began to sing as well.

‘“…on earth is not his equal…’”

The guards, despite their confused expressions and murmurs of exasperation, were given a signal to commence.  The Circus audience was impatient for their big event.   A wave of the hand, a crisp, sharp monosyllable from the Centurion Officiates of the Arena Games,  and the huge doors began to roll aside to reveal the enormous Pit Area of the Arena.

‘“ Tho’ devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us, we trouble not, we fear no ill, they shall not overpower us…’” 

Whips lashed out overhead as the procession and signing continued.  Yes, it continued!  It continued into the loud roar of mankind at its animal worse.

‘“ This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will…’”   

The jeering, the cursing, the throwing of urine and aphrodisiac-hallucinogenics increased, but the captives went on signing for as long as they could through exhaustion.  The main terror was nearby.

“‘…he can harm us none, he’s judged, the deed is done…’”

They quickly prepared themselves for their final acts of loyalty as they strove to grasp each other’s hands to signal confidence and love to their religious tribal brothers and sisters.

‘“…one little word can fell him…’’’

Until the captives reached the point of unbearable exacerbation and passed into oblivion!

**********

Chapter Thirteen

The Ascending God

Though huge portraits of Martin Salisbury decorated the pillars of the Arena, the whole of Mylar City Proper and continuing suburbs, Martin was feeling no warmth, contentment, or composure.   And while the news dispatches had gone out in eloquent processions, and the Dulmen propagandists did more than their share to advertise this latest Dulmen victory, Martin felt something deep-down in the pit of his stomach that wasn’t the essence of victory.  He had been fashioned into an overnight hero yet he felt defeated (feelings that were probably reviewed by the Brain), he had won the favor of gods and goddesses, yet he felt like an undeserving child.

In the early minutes before the Circus, Martin approached the Circus Proper through the Officials Chute-Corridor. The conveyor jets transported him and his personal guards to the praetorium of the mid- length of the Arena  where the official Box  was for honored guests and dignitaries.   He nodded only halfheartedly at those who stood to greet him.  Uncle Redress (smiling lustfully with pride), Arian, several Dulmen dignitaries and officials spoke:

“Congratulations,”  slowly spoke Arian with a board grin.  They shook hands, the rest nodded.  Martin quickly swiveled and sat upon the suspending set that faced out into the Arena.   Martin shaded his yes and solemnly glared at the Pit  area.

The spectators appeared to be in a robust and wanton mood, and the seating-area was full; everyone rocked and bounced on the plastic-like Veri-Cushion (a flexible but invulnerable  sheet or canopy that was in fact a  spectacular Belt that could, at will, form into a ‘seat’ and backrest upon the presence of a body; it appeared as a popping motion about the Arena as various rows of spectators appeared).

Occasionally various citizens would light-up in an aura of blue-white light evidentially because of a Ray Device  held by another individual.  These were the Stimulation  Devices that would suddenly throw the victims into a momentary  frenzy of erotic and ecstatic delight.  One could see a female arch up on her toes and heave her bosom into the air, musically weaving her arms through the glow while bathed in an eerie blue-white light hovering on top of the green halo a few inches from the skin of her body.  Suddenly, the light would vanish and she would drop back to her original position, usually to comic with the provocatory.

The drums had stopped abruptly.  Then the loud, clear blasts of the trumpets.  The huge entrance doors sled open.   Martin’s attention was enlivened — he sat up erect on his throne.  Then it turned to dismay as he as he began to view again all the familiar faces that stood before him in the preceding hours. His eyebrows rose in serious consternation as he noticed the captives signing in jubilation.  Then, again, he thought to himself, this was not so surprising given the irony of this band of ‘loners.’

Veronica, the dark-haired, hazel-eyed damsel who had stood before him for an hour, was again in his view.  Unable to harass her into speaking, a guard slapped her.  She only cried.

“Why does my God-given brother persecute me?”  she  sobbed.

“Brother?”  the guard snapped back, “I would not wish to ‘touch’ the likes of you!”

Martin observed the incident, “A bit too harsh,” he thought to himself. The women stumbled forward.  Martin noticed that here was a woman that was far too eloquent, of a majestic heritage, much more than those mechanical nymphs that decorated the Mylar City gardens.  Here was a women whose face was ruddy from wind and not from the artificial color injections into the glands of erotic damsels.  She had the strong, firm muscles from the many hours of tilling the ground, harvesting the crops, and rearing the children; not the mathematically and systematically developed thighs, hip, and breasts of the Mylar maidens; their physiques were calculated  to produce desire of the human Dulmania gods.  Her hair had the half-sheen of wind and dust after he a long day’s journey across the prairies, not the forever-sleek strands of the Aroian Palaces. 

**********

“Why — why does my brother persecute us?”  she sobbed with large owl-like eyes.

Martin swallowed his saliva before speaking:  “You are addressing a god!’’   He paused briefly, “I am not your brother.”

“You are a prisoner that you judge us so vainly.”   The intense stare of her eyes continued their sober fixation.  Her statement whirled around in Martin’s head that was the very essence of Dulmania (from his lustful nights in the Aroian Palaces to the mentally electric ‘throb’ of the Dulmen Universities).   He could not comprehend. 

He jerked his head back in several small flicks. 

“You are far too wise a woman to be a traitor.  If I could offer you your ‘freedom’—HERE—NOW—in exchange for your allegiance would you give it?”   As if written there, Martin held his hand out  flat and straight.

The women just wryly twisted her lips in a sly grin:  “Why should I give up all that I have—all that I WANT—for a parcel of bead that is already rotten with disease?”

“You speak riddles!”   Martin stomped from side to side.  “You make no sense!”   He looked at her in cold examination.  “I could have your mind transferred in a twinkling of an eye!’  He shook his finger at her.  “Your whole  body molded into an exquisite damsel of Dulmania, every thought plucked, dissected, by the Brain, whether you liked it or not!”  Martin looked at her expecting unusual reaction—-instead, she slowly tilted back her head and cogently, almost in pain and agony, spoke:

“There are somethings, my earthly brother, where you have no ownership—neither can it be bought—or sold—neither can you rob it.   For ‘it’ lies in the protection of the Power of one much higher…”   She stepped forward a few paces to deliver her remark.  “…for our Father is not mocked, as you are doing unto your brother  so shall it be done unto you!   Sooner or later, it shall be done unto you!”  

“Riddles!  Confounded riddles!”  Martin rose two clenched fists in anger, an angered god!   But to Veronica he appeared as a lost child.

“Take her away!   Let the Brain have her!” 

 **********

Martin halfheartedly slammed his fist into the other hand as to not disturb those seated around him.   His thoughts traced over the others in the procession.   These few who were so enigmatic to his robotic mind.  “Why?”  The thought kept sneaking  snake-like, rat-like into his mind.  The question had no business being there, there should have been no question at all.

“Why?”

And “why” kept lingering there as he recalled another familiar face  below in the Arena.   That face was contorted in joyous song.   It was the blue-eyed, blond-haired, lovely adolescent, Sandra.   She had kept her silence and only tears betrayed her hate.  But she tried to remain silent, though misunderstanding followed her aside the atrocious evens she had seen.

Sandra let her anger be known when she attempted to slap Martin’s face—-Martin at first felt a reciprocal rage, but it mellowed into admiration—and then haughty laughter.  The Hall took its cue and began laughing as well.  The cold, almost damp stone slabs that checkered the walls of the Judgement Hall echoed vibrantly throughout, rebounding the sound back and forth along the Malayan-type faces sculptured in the stones in the periphery of the reddish nocturne corridor.

This furthered Sandra’ s resentment, and she promptly spit in the man’s face.  

“Take the brat!”   He calmly further reflected examining his glossy whip.  “Rape her if she refuses to talk.  Then turn her over to the Brain,”  he flipped the whip from one hand to the other, “that is all!”

Sandra was briskly escorted away.  She expressed a look of ghastly horror  as she disappeared into the mass of vultures lurking in the red haze of the Hall.  Still, she shouted:  “Dulmania will die!   Our God is not profaned!  Dulmania will die!  Father, help us!”

**********

There was Andrew:  a husky and muscular specimen of the mysterious tribe. Clothed in the customary toga and heavy sheath with the emblem of dove and fish on the front, he now stood before the Grand Questioner.  He also stood mute.  In short order, Andrew had been flogged.   It was obvious he had been flogged because of his muscular iron-like physique.  Instead of the smooth, flawless skin  seen in Dulmania, there were the scars and wrinkles of hard labor on his hands and neck.  He was a man of 34-years-of-age but he appeared much older.  He evidently was not a product of the Bubble Cities or even the Outer Communities. 

Andrew had been in the last train of captives, and Martin had become quite proficient in the handling of the last few.  Martin stood in almost  bored tears as he watched Andrew grimace in pain.  In great pain, Andrew recited some of the chants and prayers of his tribe; no one could understand them, but they were buffers to ward off the pain.

“Blast your god!”  Martin cried out.  Nothing could harm the man any more than he was hurting in the lashes of the flagellations.  “It is trickery to delude us in the rebellion against the official gods of Dulmania!” 

Andrew said nothing.  He peered up at Matin quickly and continued to chant his sayings.  

“Damned be your Father!”   The last lash struck – the man was released to fall to the cold floor.  He looked as dead.  Martin went to stand by him and turn him over with the toe of his boot, but was startled to see Andrew attempting to raise, a slow eternal moment in which he rose a full arm’s length.  His sweat and blood glistened as his dark eyes reached out to the Dulmen towering before him and he groped for words   He murmured in a deep breath of exasperation:  “He who is a friend of the world is an enemy of the Father…,”  he paused, “…he who is against the Father…,”  pause again,  “…is an advocate of the world.”

Andrew’s head fell to the floor as a heavy rock, and then he lay unconscious.

**********

The terror for the captives had passed.  The slaughter was finished. Cheers were still ringing from the spectators around the Arena, many were climbing the inner wall to travel to the Pit area, all in frenzied excitement.  Some were exhibiting cannibalism to the mutilated bodies strewn about.  Small globe-transports zig-zagged about the growing mass of Arena spectators in the Pit area, like darting hummingbirds, they zipped about charging close to spectators as if to disrupt their activity, and then quickly moving to another spot.  Trumpets were again sounding and the drums throbbed against this wall of anarchy with a jubilant resonance, the whole Arena was in a mass orgy.   It wa a manifestation of Dulmen gods!

They were calling out Martin’s name!

“Stand forth Son of Misslou!  Arise our Ascending god!””

Over and over went the chant, first low and feeble, then in unison, gaining in volume joined by the clapping of hands, into a thundering roar.

“Stand forth Son of Misslou!”  

Around the inner wall of the Pit were wide viewing windows stretched around the four corners of the partition and in the midlenth sections.  Around the windows a line of spectators could also be seen shouting and clapping; others held their children over their heads as if to give them a better view.  Some had their noses pressed tightly against the windows. 

“Arise our Ascending god!’

Banner-bearers held large flags of state and federal motto which waved back and forth gracefully and in unison.

“Stand forth Son of Misslou!”

Hands were being  clasped onto Martin’s shoulders in friendly congratulations, and the dignitaries that were seated near him were raising their arms in salutations.

“Arise our Ascending god!”

Martin began to awake from the indifferent stupor he was in.  His thoughts had been in a momentary battle and he was first aware of the complete scene about him. Unable to erase haunting faces that appeared before him during the last hours, Martin rubbed his eyes hoping the visions would go away, but they remained.  He reluctantly viewed the shouting mob. He silently beckoned Dulmen gods to remove his disturbing thoughts.  His vision ascended to the canopy of electrical static that branched out into the atmosphere of the Bubble City from the Purifying Tower  that was visible just over the rim of the Arena bleacher-area, the jagged arcs of electricity  would jerk out from the tower’s pinnacle, spreading white and blue spray and mist over the city.

Slowly, Martin banished his frame of mind and then stood silently and somewhat disinterested stood before the crowd. The roar of the spectators turned into deafening applause and shouting.  Garments and various clothes were thrown into the air, stimulator-devices were activated in rapid succession.

Unavoidably, Martin’s eyes fell upon the Pit Area as the actions of a trained falcon as to what he had done.  He waved his arms towards the crowd…once…twice…and then dropped them to his side in what appeared to be a forlorn droop, turning to those behind him in his mysterious melancholy.  Slowly, he investigated the rancor of hysteria around him.  The creases in his neck somehow now felt like heavy lead had been poured there.  The dignitaries about him produced a sight that caused growing disgust to Martin:  their occasional ‘jerking’ of their heads indicating the ‘Control’ of the Big Sire, the Brain.  And then in ironic repugnance, Martin felt his own ‘jerk’ of his skull.

“An Ascending god,” he thought momentarily to himself, “indeed!”  That was a rank signifying the evolution of a personality from the realm of the demi-god ‘humans’ that now ruled the Bubble Cities to an actual ‘real god of the heavens’ that came to walk amongst the people once a year at the Big Festival.  It should have racked him with pleasure, but  mixed feeling s and confusion were his only realism.

“Prepare to send our Special Police Squadron out…”   Martin addressed Arian who smiled at Martin in dizzy admiration, “I will meet you at the Space Terminal  shortly within the hour.”

Martin walked away quickly without further explanation!  He was unaware of the looks of amazement and questioning that suddenly appeared as he advanced into the Officials Corridor.

These captives were not the only specimens to ponder —  there were other mysterious organisms and threats to investigate as well.

**********

Flashing images from the past, like delicate burst of color and shape, laughing faces and glaring eyes, confronted martin’s  consciousness:  psychedelic renderings from his ID: completely and totally Dulmania.  

First there came the drawn face of one Professor Aultorixus, his rubber-tipped cue waving back and forth rhythmically at the casually grouped before him. His high cheek bones accentuated his pale complexion, and his quick movements of his thick lips resembled the mincing of a jungle monkey.   An instructor of history, he had no peer, and no one could equal his devotion or mental dexterity.

“There were six consecutive governments,” he was reciting, “each with an inherent seed of weakness that made their downfall inevitable.”  The smell of fresh fruit and floral perfumes were conductive to his low and melodious voice.  “They all had essential structures which prohibited the ultimate discoveries of Power and Might.”   Through the ivory columns that rounded the rather cool Study Hall, one could see warm sunlight caressing the evergreen shrubberies directly outside.  Beyond that, in the Athletic Fields,  students were engaging in sports of combat—while cheering females urged them on.

Aultorixus stopped to look his class over; he spoke again. “‘Let me illustrate a point.”   He strolled over to Martin who was lazily reclining on expensive tapestry and linen sheets.  He eyed Martin curiously.  “In Dulmania we have evolved to a point beyond what Krendelson labeled the Psychic Apex, is that correct?”

“Yes sir!”  was the snappy reply.

Aultorixus slapped Martin’s face, quickly and with might, while he gently shook the man’s other hand in a sign of deep friendship.  Martin was only momentarily stunned.  He had seen these acts portrayed on the visual units in his Learning Cubical, it should have come as a total surprise.   The others were looking on with unemotional interest.

Professor Aultorixus did the routine again.  Martin reluctantly tried to keep himself from emotion under the sting and radiant warmth of the slap in hopes that his cheek would stop quivering. 

“So, your see that personal relationships are varied and depend solely on how much we can psychosomatically endure as well as project.”

The Instructor casually strolled to the front of the podium and began more of his insouciant conversation.  The psychosomatic syndrome in other ages would have gone by other definitions and descriptions; two thousand years earlier, provided they were agile enough to recognize the syndrome for what it truly was, it would have been called ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘double-mindedness.’   It was essentially what led the Cyrenaic or Hedonistic school of thought by Hegasias to turn into a religion but with a new twist, yet already as ancient as the First Parents, to evolve and grow in ever more subtle ways of life until it became worldwide and incomprehensibly ‘evil.’

One could see the relevancy of this when confronted with the history of Countess Flora.  She had become the perpetual ‘virgin’ (any comments to the contrary would have would have brought damnation in the Dulmen Laboratory Incinerators).  She was a protégé of the goddess Vinos, a revolved form of the goddess Venus, and as such she was granted the perpetual grace of Holy Virginity; all eyes were fixed to that fact with demanded loyalty.  It was an insane form of truth, for Countess Flora was far from a virgin.  Indeed, the concubinage was starkly evident and her reputation certainly no secret and no disgrace by Dulmen standards, but inherent and necessity for a society where wickedness was so rampant that ‘virtue’ had to be invented, even if by insane measures!

These recollections of Martin’s faded suddenly.

“Better get in, sire,”  came the request from a guard-attendant, “ you’ll be crushed to death by that oncoming mob.”

Seisbury ogled the murmurings of a group of people on the porta-walk that had noticed the ‘Ascending god,’ their new Caesar, and then their footsteps turned into swift running.

“Quickly, get in sire!”  Martin became suddenly alert and stepped into the control seat of the Zot Car, a gentle purr and the car shot away.

**********

Martin was again wrapped in reminiscence.  He was envisioning a lovely maiden of the Aerion Palaces, involved in one of her seductive renditions, her long silken hair tumbled down upon his face enveloping him in a usual strong scent of aphrodisiac perfume.   She began to laugh hysterically, a second group of women near them directed their attention and laughter to a visiting officer. 

Suddenly, an earsplitting cry of pain and terror rang out, highlighted by insane grunts and squeals. 

Martin grasped for balance as he tried to force himself upright as he threw the surprised maiden to the floor.  Martin lunged  forward to investigate, holding his Penetrating Pistol  in front of him, the chaotic noise suddenly stopped, all eyes turned to Martin slowly approaching the encircled activity.  Spectators backed away casually, almost purposefully as if planned, each with a mystifying grin on their faces that gave Martin a chill!  When they had flanked back, the scene revealed a horrible murder; it was the mutilated body of the Head Officer of one of the nearby military divisions.  It was just one of Martin’s deepest lessons in Dulmen morality.

Martin’s head began to ‘jerk’ incessantly, causing a slight ‘ache’ between his eyes and a warmth at the nape of his neck: The Grand Ruler, The Big Sire, the Brain was discharging  Martin’s disposition of shock and Martin’s possible questioning the morality of the incident.

Martin’s thoughts continued to the days that followed that incident, he had the opportunity to learn ‘firsthand’ the justice of the Dulmen Empire, the rulers of that land in their most direct and perverted form.

Sandra, a particular maiden which had occupied Martin with her attentions during this murderous act, was set free,  she was found innocent of any charges, and was said to be neither a witness to a crime or an accomplice.  This struck all as odd, though none knew officially of such complaints.

Martin had testified that her behavior, before and during the act was indicative that she knew what was about to happen and that her hysteria indicated that much—a laughter which intensified before the act.

The prosecution immediately jumped upon this point.  The prosecutor also questioned Martin that the girl’s physical position above him was suspect of the possibility that she was attempting to ‘pin’ Martin down while the homicide was being done. Martin collaborated that suspicion.  There were no jurors — the Brain had made juries extinct —  the Sedox Era saw the last real “Court of Jury,”  for already seeds of inscrutable vanity had transformed courts into a whimsical  ‘Kangaroo Court,’ resulting into Dulmen juvenilia bowing to the complete control of the mighty network of their Electronic Ruler.  And when the Brain spoke, it was final!  This much, Martin had been trained to believe.   So, when the girl was found completely innocent of the charges, the only suspicion one could hold was against the prosecution for their incompetence.

Jess, Marine, Val, the three other female witnesses that been sought to testify—were condemned to death! The Officer to whom the witnesses had been assigned to for that evening, Thor de Charge (the grandnephew of one of the highest generals on the Martian surface), was soon to be placed on that planet in hopes of helping his Uncle solve a colonization problem.  It was thought that the evening’s ribaldry would lend to that possibility.  These girls’ legal distraction was considered an act of ‘treason.’

How odd, thought Martin, that he should look upon such tactics as of no suspicion!  And why?   Why was he even ‘allowed’ his suspicions?  His head began to ‘jerk’ under the weight of free-thinking and the detection of the Brain.   Susan, the sole maiden found guilty of the full charges of murder, was put to death, though there was no evidence to perpetuate that action.  The other two women—-strikingly and beyond comprehension—were found innocent!

Inquiries were not permitted!  Prosecution ordered a mistrial.  The High Judge of the Department of Justice controlled the situation saying that no new trial was necessary. But the legal oddities continued.  For the first time in years, a group of dissenters were found guilty of treason.  They were no longer heard from.  But a rumor already began to circulate as to the reason for the Court’s irony of justice: the two girls had more important duties the following night: two visiting, robust and gruesome officials from the city of Star of the far west!

Why?  That thought came back again and again to Martin, why should he deem the situation so odd; did not the Great Computer actually ‘Know?’  Surely, Martin, of all people, should have known how Dulmen accomplishment hinged on the surreal and erratic timing of Dulmen jurisprudence.  

There was, however, something here that made Martin’s stomach quiver, what if (and this very thought had escaped him for some time) Martin Seisbury had been attacked instead of the Head Officer?  Martin’s thoughts were very confused.   In the soft green glow of the Zot Car cabin, he could feel the perspiration on his face.   Nervous tension brought nausea to his stomach, and that hadn’t happened in eons.  His fingers stroked his sweat and he tasted It and the bitter salty taste.

“Are you in a hurry, sire?”  the attendant asked.

Martin answered slowly and trancelike, “no, no.”

“Then I won’t bother to speed our travel,” confirmed the attendant.  The Zot Car had the ability to ascend into the air vertically and then dart off, or, if it were wished, it would ‘dematerialize’ and ‘materialize’ and travel to one of several Electromagnetic Ports throughout the city (an engineering feat that the government scientists had quite a problem stabilizing and perfecting over the  centuries).

Dulmen science, like Dulmen politics, didn’t always move in a straight line.

**********

“Isn’t it great, Martin,” exclaimed the shinning face of one of his fellow students; it had been sometime since that pumpkin-face had invaded his memory, and here it was again, cascading across the motion-film and kaleidoscope of his mind’s eyes.

“Yes, Zon, it’s wonderful.”  Martin remarked; the exact occasion had escaped him.

“I want to pull my hair out!”

“Go on.”

“I want to run!”

“Run.  Run.”

“I want to dance across….”

“Sure, Zon!”

“I want to pull my guts out!”

“What?”

“I want to kill!”

Kill!  It was a word that already had placed more than three punches to Martin’s stomach. Ironic for such a word in the daily life of the Dulmen totalitarian empire.  It only added a notch in his stomach tension.   Fellow student Zon’s plump face slowly faded.  There was in preparation another psychic melodramatic event:  this event had not been spied nor captured by the Great Erebus Brain that lucked everywhere, even  beneath Mylar city  —-   indeed,  beyond capture by anyone in the general citizenry!  

Through transparent slots in the side of the Zot Car cabin, Martin could peer into the surroundings.  They had just come along side of sterile white business halls,  a huge pavilion supported by thick and designed marble columns.   People and officiates strolled up and down the wide and long expanse of steps; most in discussion about some latest philosophy that had been aired in the courtyards of the Hall.  Swankly dressed and pressed uniforms and cleansed capes, knee high boots that shined,  paraded the lengthy expanse of the steps.

They didn’t always have that slow clip, thought Martin.  His mind raced back to the time that the rank and file would line up in squadrons and march in union on the Arena plastic-like seating transparencies.  Four, five, six or more levels, one above the other, back, and forth the soldiers would march like millions of ant swarming; several levels above and looking down it would appear as if a mosaic of red and brown and grey. 

The soldiers would seem to march for hours. Stereophonically-methodically tuned for precise emotional reaction, such that by the end of a three-hour period the soldiers were entranced, and the herded off to the Aerion Palaces for a release to their frenzied state in a stampede that required utmost coordination, a Dulmen ‘creation,’  a dynamic ‘organism’ within an ‘organism.’

Martin’s Zot Car had turned onto an Express Highway that led almost directly to the Space Air Station; built so that the thick reinforced highway arched over an inner-city river, and then spiraled around a towering monument building—a similar innovation in other sister cities—the highway would level off and the arch down lower and lower till it became again ground level—spreading out for several miles till it neared the Space and Air Station .   

As the Zot Car picked up speed along the highway, a steady blue light ‘beeped’ off and on synchronistical  on the control panel.  The green glow of the panel itself was throbbing from light to bright in rapid succession  corresponding to the gathering speed.  Sensor-Controls were placed irregularly alongside of the highway, they stood upright on a slender support  and looked like a huge ‘eye’ gyrating in various positions. Along the highway were various ‘gardens’ and fields of commercial and laboratory crops and plants owned by the Department of Welfare.  Every mile or so there were smooth slopping curves of an hourglass shaped  structure which had ‘viewing windows’ at the top (the only sign that it might be occupied): these were the biological laboratories were bold experiments were performed.

**********

Martin Meets the Brain

(Martin’s first encounter with the Brain, the Big Sire, was no gentle introduction; experiments indeed, thought Martin. What wild and wonderous history; just how far back in history did it extend?  Again, his mind sank into the churning recesses of his aggregate of consciousness-subconsciousness.  Martin was about 15 years at the time and had been told about these great moments.  Lesson after lesson prepared him for these ventures, and he expected them to be frightful, but his teachers stressed his encounter with the Brain as a mystical parent, kind and loving .  

(He suddenly found himself elevated to about 600-foot level of gravity-free. His head was shaved bald. Cold bits of metal, miniature electrodes, were gently placed to various parts of his scalp.  The connections led to a central ‘spinal cord’ of the hub down which ran all the other electrical nerve-lines from the many other students located in the spirals. 

(Suddenly, the gossip and murmurings of several thousand people shrunk to a whimper, and then, an almost invisible purr.   A blackness descended over him as light was shut off by blinders over his eyes.  A solitary ‘clunk’—short and metallic as if a lever or throttle were thrown.  A fragile but frightening silence before a low glow of ‘creeping irradiance’  flowed into his brain: it began at the nape of his neck, the back of his head, and slowly crept across his gray matter to meet another ‘feeler’ creeping backward from  his forehead.  Where they met was a tingling as if a kindling of a small fire within his cerebrum until his whole skull was an imaginary ‘glow’ pulsating in synchronization to the electrical input.

(Martin had been blindfolded, he only saw pitch darkness and the usual imaginary green and red spots of closed eyelids, but strikingly an array of sparks emerged  out of a white speck; then ‘stars,’ wind, lightening, and thunder!  Faces, thousands of them, unknown and familiar, all thrown together in a matrix of color and sensuality.  Voices, millions of murmuring and gibbering monotones and some high-pitched shrieking  voices.  Laugher, insane, hysterical, and then jovial, and pleasant.   A large booming sound as if an explosion:  a whole city consumed in flames and an exhibition of molten metal. 

(The scene shifted to the underwater; a few escaping bubbles turned into a vast armada of rising bubbles, upward, upward; and far below were the marvelous Underwater Cities—semi-spherical metropolises that were several miles across and could travel the water at several knots of speed.  [These were later destroyed in the global tsunamis and earthquakes – tossed about like seaweed.]

(This exhibition was destroyed by collapsing pillars and crumbling monuments.  Millions of people in the early century Dulmania were racing madly across fields and desert terrain trying to desperately escape the repeated  blinding flashes and searing heat of atomic bomb  explosions that quaked the earth with a humongous force that dissolved a person’s flesh instantaneously.

 (The drama quickly turned into a somewhat alien, more serene, panorama:  Martin and several others were moving down a street  viewing the odd architecture of the homes, buildings along the way.  This was certainly outside the present era of Dulmania. Every conceivable architectural composition since the beginning of time. The homes were decorated in quaint yet bizarre arrays.  Three-story homes with all sorts and shapes of windows, frosted, colored, multiple porches and patios of all designs, strings of lights around corners and down streets, beautifully decorated lawns with exotic and beautiful shrubs, plants, evergreen trees and strange towering prehistoric-like botanical monsters.  Martin felt small and puny in this neighborhood.

(Thrown into a lightning-fast vortex, Martin felt as if he were punched in the stomach, a vertigo with gusts of air all around him, his arms and legs extended outward in weightlessness as he fell into blackness.  A light suddenly appeared and he noted that he had passed into a cavern shaft, he was running down a cavern tunnel created by human hands, torches lined the sides, and his footsteps seemed to echo as his feet rapidly dug into the dirt.  His heavy  breathing was almost a prayer that he would find the end and burst into fresh air and sunlight, and when that happened, Martin found himself several thousand feet in the air over the side of a mountain from where he could observe the peaceful countryside spotted by white, red, and brown homes nestled next to the silver ribbon of a river—–then he plunged!  A great sickness came over him, a belaboring nausea, a whirlpool of flashing green, white red and many colors, and murmurings, an occasional distortion of a blurred face, and finally a loud ringing that became intensified until……)

This emersion into the Brain would not be Martin’s last excursion, only his first, until the time the Brain was convinced that Martin was well-attuned into its grasp by its juggling chromosomes and DNA, synapses, and nerve paths, and at its satisfaction. 

**********

“Stop!  Stop!  Stop!”   Martin screamed.  His back ached and Martin felt the wetness of vomit upon his chin and chest and found his right leg in the awkward position of having been pinned over his head against the Viewing Slot  of the Zot Car as he tried to prevent himself from falling below the front of his cabin seat.  The attendant was trying to force Martin upright and trying to place a tranquilizing substance to him.

“Out!” Martin weakly ordered.  The attendant failed to respond.  “Out!” demanded Martin in anger. The curved hatch swung open and permitted Martin exit and a fall to the ground. 

“Oh, the gods forgive me,’’  Martin whispered, “oh, the gods forgive me!”

He was sobbing now, and utterly ashamed of his condition.  He was thinking how obnoxious he was.  “Oh, forgive me!”   With the strength of one arm, he nervously forced himself to stand erect.   He glanced around to see where they came to rest, then began to rub himself as if to calm his nervous agitation.

The highway was deserted.  Ahead, several miles, he could see the Space and  Air Station which stood near the rim of a Bubble Dome.  In the opposite was Mylar City canopied by waves of pink, green phosphorescence that rolled over the city from the electrical discharges of the Purifying System  of its gleaming towers.

A cool  breeze was cutting across the hydroponic fields they had parked along.  It appeared that the Weather Control System  sent a purifying air turbulences throughout the enclosed city as well as the surrounding areas.  It felt good.  It cooled Martin’s perspiring body.  Martin slowly paced the gravel along the highway praying his stomach butterflies would calm down.

“Shall I call for medical assistance?”  asked the Zot Car driver from the hatchway.  It would take, upon request, seconds for the black Medic Craft  to arrive.

“No.”  Martin sedately replied continuing to pace and glance at the ground.  Martin queried himself: How could this be?   Why was the Brain’s method of Psyche Mind Control  not operating at this moment?  He knew how subsequent Control Operations went—-it was like passing into sleep and upon waking he would be something  new and completely Dulmen.  It would be like going to sleep at night and waking instantly without memory of the night’s dreams.  Why should he now be bothered by this something inside—-something!

Martin paced in the opposite direction.  He glanced about the highway to see where the Highway Sensors  were spaced.  He noted one appeared to be some distance from them, but Martin feared that  al-controlling presence  of the High God, The Big Sire, the Brain  was ever-present.  The best he could do would be to ask for pardon.  What if Mylar City citizens had seen him at such a weak state?  His fate would have been consigned to the dank and limitless memory banks of the Brain and its dubious ‘afterlife’ in the Dulmen eternity; and it would be rightly deserved.

Or would it?  Would it?

Martin covered his face at the fright of having such thoughts.   It was making him dizzy to wrangle with himself over such  fuzzy thinking. 

“Please sire, come back in,”  pleaded the Zot Car driver, “you’ll want no one to see us standing here so questioningly.”

Martin would have struck-out with a reprimand at such presumptuous talk, but he was in no mood, he was exhausted.

“Alright.  Alright.’’  He threw the small fist of gravel that he held to the round and stepped through the hatchway of the Zot Car.  “I’ll want to change this uniform as well.  It smells.”

**********

As they turned to leave, the child held back to place his hand along the bark of the Shermond Oak.  He looked straight up into the towering limbs above him with the fluffy white cumulus clouds passing directly farther above.  It was his tree; his favorite tree; it would be his forever he told himself.

It was quiet.   It was peaceful.

He turned to walk along with his mother. His small body busily pumping his short infant legs to keep up with her as they strolled home through the tall stalks of grass.  (Chapter Eight, Alterno Sonata)

The sun had begun to set.  Due to the promptings and urgings of the small husky toddler, the mother had escorted him to his novel playground just beyond the lengthy field of orchards and tall flowing grasses where, this night, the Sherman Oak could be seen protruding up from the irregular curve of the tree line.

He wanted to dive once again into the collection of odds and ends he had found.  Perhaps some had blown away, his mother questioned, though the wind had died down to a small zephyr.

As they crossed the field their long shadows extended before them as the warm disappearing sun caressed their backs.  They quickly kicked their way through yellowish clover;  above them and to the horizon was a large soft white image peering down on them, the moon.  The sky had become completely void of clouds and only a yellowish-white fog could be seen at the level of the treetops in the distance, a man-made smog circling in all directions. The air had a deceptive appearance of being clear atmosphere that one was accustomed to years ago — back then, one could almost feel exhilaration with every inhale.

They reached the mighty oak.  The mother stood patiently as the babe scampered down the path to find his collection of odds and ends from the previous daytime venture.  The rays of the setting sun lit up the trees,  roasting them in the shinning of the golden orb.  The branches  allowed a trickle of red, yellow, and brown leaves in a contrast on the forest floor.

When the babe found his stack of souvenirs, he momentarily glanced at his mother standing atop the ridge.  He glanced about the area with slightly drawn eyebrows.  It was a pretty sight to see, the shadows falling upon each other through the woods as warm patches of sunlight still caressed some limbs.  The stubs of grass quivered in the steady soft breeze beneath them.

For the child, life had just  begun.  It was good.  It was real and mysterious.  The babe could still smell the fresh juices of the spring before. As if a freshly moved lawn was still somewhere in the air somehow joined a haunting combination of thistle-evergreen and clumps of tall, towering ferns and evergreens in a slight rocking motion.  Birds darted above high in the mild blue sky.

The child let out a sigh of anticipation, “ I play mommy?”

The mother sat beneath the oak tree and nodded her head in acquiescence.  The babe contently went about his filling his bag with his souvenirs.  He would occasionally pick a plant or a bit of goldenrod or Maple leaf viburnum about him.   

It was still quiet.  The peace was supreme.  Life was good.  The child’s thoughts were friendly: It was a forest all his ownIf ultimately only a unbeknownst masquerade.

**********

Chapter Fourteen

The Search

Suddenly, Elia was struck by a revelation:  “Arian!  That was my  brother’s name!  Arian Yul, they named him!”  He thought again, “too bad there wasn’t more there between us.  Ah, but that is Dulmania.  That is Dulmania.  Arian, I  wonder what he is doing now?”  Chapter Five, Prelude to Destruction.

**********

It was nearly 45-minutes into the hour that Martin assured Arian to have the patrol squad ready.  They had driven very slowly; Martin needed the additional time to alleviate his nervous condition.  He downed the thin shells of several Z-BR8 capsules as he stepped onto the sparkling clean pavement of the take-off patio.

Stretched out for hundreds of feet in sheik symmetrical flanks were several squadrons of military space craft, slender windswept oblongs with translucent curving forefronts enclosing the crafts’ cabins.  Four thin spidery telescopic legs supported each crafts’ weight.

The launching patio seemed to extend for miles in all direction.  Along the rim were various humps of metal signifying the spacecraft hangers.  To one side was a huge structure which appeared to be made of glass-like material  with metal strips into large rectangles as the only signs of support.  That was a spacecraft factory that ran uninterrupted for several miles along the highway at the east quadrant of the launching patio. 

Through the various sections of the diffuse semi-transparent walls, one could see a bursting red flare along with a low hum and churning; at other points, a blue-white light, or, green, in shadows of the  high-speed machinery. 

The factory was only slightly obscured from sight by projectiles and missiles that radiated to the far edge of the humongous patio.  They were all different sizes and diversifications.  Most of them were of circular or globular types—a proven design for high-speed travel. 

Arian waited patiently outside one of the crafts.  His peripheral version caught sight of Martin and he stopped his conversation with the spacecraft crew and he went to meet the Son of Misslou.

“Greetings, Arian.   Do the crew people need further elaboration on the purpose of the mission?”  Martin raced to the grist of the mission.  Arian noted the growing importance of the new ‘god,’ but was never presumptuous enough to bring it up in conversation.

“Yes, sire. We have brought every policeman up to date. The Mus-chutes have already been informed last night.  We are to enter the ‘Flats’ in twelve squadrons each parallel to one another by six miles.”

Martin spoke with ease though he was impatient.  “We’ll scan all regions as we go. Communications will be kept fluid through operations.  At the least detection, each squadron will break-away to investigate, but all squadrons can be ordered to any trouble spot.”

Arian nodded in agreement.  Martin dismissed the Zot Car driver.  Martin’s darting glance at the driver conveyed his wish for strict confidence about Martin’s previous paranoia along the highway.

The two leading crewmen were dressed for cooler weather: new, glossy knee-high boots, sturdy thick leather visage and coat, all with the Dulmen emblem in front.  Their suits squeaked from the newness.  Their sword-weapons slapped slightly on their sides as they walked.  A brisk salute went from the crowd to Master Seisbury.  The crews scrambled to their crafts, inside walkways, and operation consoles.  Martin and Arian vanished into the lead craft.

**********

‘‘Martin!   Martin!  Martin!’  jovially laughed Uncle Redress coming down the center aisle of the control cabin.  He grabbed Martin’s hand in warm affection and then bowed his head towards Martin’s feet and  kissed his hand.  “Martin, my nephew, what a day of bliss.  I believe I could cry.  Martin!”   The man obviously was unprepared for words; those about stood in confused attention boarding on uninterest.

“Yes, Mark, we are all happy with this occasion,”  Arian did not want to disclose any information about “‘the Ascending God’s” growing discontent, “I am quite sure he is most anxious to see this affair to the finish!”

Arian flipped his hand through the air signaling the start of operations.

The crafts rose from the launching patio one by one, row by row, as globular ‘bubbles’ wobbling from watery depths racing to the surface; the crafts all struggled to the Air Trap Chute on the slope of the cities ‘bubble edge.’ (The electromagnetic force field kept the pristine inside atmosphere from meeting the outside molecules.)

Upon slipping through the Chute, each craft waiting patiently outside the city forming the respective squadron units until  their  small armadas  were  formed and pointed towards the horizon.  The mighty U-shaped armadas slowly began in sped which quickly exhilarated into the setting sun, a large orange orb slowly nestling up to the rim of the horizon.   

**********

The crafts’ wrap-around canopies of transparent synthetic diamond often switched to a polarized blue shade.  Weightless and graceful globules, the crafts glided over the statue of a Mus-chute solider guarding the main entrance to the  legendary ‘Flats.’

They passed over their first crater and its sleek, shinning sides that were formed by terrifying heat and enormous pressure.  Deep shadows were thrust against their backsides from boulders and rocks.  Soon the craters were  many as if a newly created Lunar surface.

Martin viewed the odd and eerie sight.   He was aware of the ancient legend telling of how  men first placed their feet on Lunar soil and were told a mythical story of the goddess Luna caressing the earth and enticing men to her feminine charms.  And then followed centuries of amazing discoveries and industry.

“Thinking of the goddess Luna?”  queried Uncle Redress with his usual compassionate smile.

“You knew?” Martin replied. It was Luna here on Earth but only perfectly designed.  A Dulmen production.  Uncle Redress interjected:  “She lured mankind from his birthplace to her boudoir like a lustful love adventure, but she beckoned them to their total destruction.”

It began to dawn on Martin that here, again, were bits and pieces of knowledge that his government-peers didn’t feel necessary to divulge to him.

“How was that uncle?  I mean, her magnificent mineral resources, yes.  The advantages of an eternal guardian Military Outpost, yes. A new domain for Dulmania, yes. But to our ruin?  How?”

“Shortly before that, Martin, shortly before.  It was the imperfect government that preceded Dulmen rule.  Through their incompetence and impatience to compromise with other worldly competitors, a warring faction arose on the Luna orb.  Global conflict broke-out on Earth, my nephew, it was amazingly easy to bombard their opposing party with nuclear weapons from the Moon.  Within seconds  the Earthly arm of that opposing faction threw at the Lunar civilization all the nuclear might they had.  We are now passing over what once was the  mightiest and the most glamorous civilization that ever existed —- except our glorious Dulmania —- which incorporated everything of wonder  from that defeated civilization.”

Uncle Redress  further explained that through the efforts of politician and military spy, Chardin Maxz, that the revolution was a smashing success and the beginning of Dulmania.   Martin only stared in pensive thought.

“Ah, there is more, much more.  The story of Chardin Maxz is an epic in itself,”  Mark Redress continued.

But Martin wasn’t satisfied with such ‘history.’   For the first time in his new career, Martin felt as if a puppet  in some secret plot in this marionette play.   But should he be brazened enough to even question?

Leaning towards the Viewing Canopy, Martin still had questions.  “When did they first land on the Moon—I mean, there must have been a time when they first transported human beings from earth to that satellite?  What civilization was it?  When did it take place?”

Mark continued adding more facts:  “There were a few side effects to such disasters.  As you can well imagine, the high radiation.  This poisoning was a number one epidemic that science placed an all-out attack.   Another was the ‘wobble’ of the planet; it was a serious threat.  For a while, large portions of Dulmania were transported to the Moon for safety—-until the electromagnetic fulcrum could be invented.”

Martin jerked his head to stare at his uncle, almost in hatred.  The Uncle seemed to be ignoring Martin’s remarks.  Mark Redress seemed to stare beyond him, he wasn’t listening at all.

“When did they first land on the Moon?” demanded Martin.  Mark may not have known, Dulmen brainwashing was often a fact.

“Of course, Maxz was challenged during the battle as well…”

When  did they, Uncle!”   Anger was stirring in Martin that he couldn’t appraise himself, for there was a lot Martin couldn’t recently understand.

“The challenged government of that glorious civilization did dispatch four nuclear projectiles towards the vicinity of the Lunar dissidents and today we can see them seared into the Lunar surface—craters of the new government:  Might, Supreme, Justice, New Order.  Simple names appropriate to the occasion.”

Martin was about to strike his Uncle.  The motionless and empty look upon Mark Redress’s face, he was not going to defend himself.  Martin brought his fist to his chest, the incessant movements of his Uncle’s lips only increased Martin’s anger.  He slowly brought his fist to head level and started to grimace……

“Scanners activated!  Scanners activated!”   It was the voice of one of the Console Operators.  It broke Martin’s spell of anger.  Martin stared at the console to his left.

“Close in!”  Arian shouted.  “Tell the rest of the squadrons to hold position.”    Arian eyed the Scanner closely.  “Descend to two hundred feet.”

The craft veered to a lower and newer location.

“Look!” shouted a soldier who was viewing through the Canopy.  He pointed to a glassy surface below him.  Soon Martin and several other personnel stood by the Observation Canopy.  Below them were panic-stricken forms, humanoid in shape. Clothed in animal, rawhide clothing, they ran apelike showing dark strains of thick black hair on arms and legs.

“Drop down1  Let’s get a closer look!”

The humanoids scamped about looking for shelter; some behind a blast swept boulder where they huddled in fear; others stumbled as they ran throwing terrain objects such as stones, waving clubs in anger and freight.

“Look at their faces!  They’re not human!”

“Mutations!”  exclaimed Martin.  “We’ve suspected as much!’

A few remnants of the pre-Dulmen civilization must have survived to beat-out an existence in the destitute environment. “just how many, for what end, we had no idea,” Arian interjected.

The small band of freaks eventually disappeared into hiding.  ‘‘They’ll make good specimens,”  Arian spoke, “ we can take care of that later, for we know those are not the ‘conspirators’ we are looking for now!”

**********

But the moment also made Elia feel good.  It gave him that extra bit of courage he would need when he will shortly visit the various citizens in Dulmania.  It had been five years, but that was not long enough a period to wipe away the familiar faces  and some of the  happy but even the sad and sordid past-times he had with those neighbors.  How would they receive him?

What would he say?

Would he even  finish the journey?

Or would it already be too late? ’’   Chapter Nine, Palace of Dreams.

***

Elia had no trouble Navigating the small Rugby Craft.   Though it was centuries out of style, its simplicity led to no difficulties for even an isolated group of people to repair.  Besides, when Elia glided into the snow drift landing spot several miles out near one of his old home cities,  he knew he probably wouldn’t have any further use for it.  But then, one could not be sure.

He left the craft below the white snow drift with the compartment lights running.  The soft blue and white of lights shone through the veil of snow;  It would  make a good beacon upon his upon his search for the craft when he attempted to return a few hours later.  He walked  away from the craft into the whistling wind, leaving deeply entrenched foot marks—they would disappear within minutes in the downpour.

When Elia arrived in the city, he found large Portal Screens atop the maze-like cubical apartments that made-up most of this northern ‘outer city.’  The screens displayed a serenely smiling, nearly bald, gentleman parading a wide collar and a plump face that covered the screen.  People were huddled in packed crowds earnestly listening while other were racing away  and dashing madly about.  All were heavily clothed as protection against the elements.

Elia kept to the shadows along the sleek cubical mosaics.  Now and then he thought he had recognized an old friend or a familiar neighbor.

“Luzian?”  he inquired of one mutate who was gazing at him from his lizard-like face.  The cold, strange stare from two dark, beady eyes denoted unfamiliarity and they both went separately without further conversation.

Elia continued to slink down through shadows, occasionally bumped by hurrying citizens.  The few people that he did recognize zipped into the nocturne of this of the almost perpetual ‘night’ of the artic.  Elia was glad that not all the cities he planned to visit would not be so endlessly dark.

Suddenly, he caught sight of a lady he had not expected to encounter.  She was no mutation, but a rather conventional but beautiful lady with rich auburn hair tucked beneath a Worker’s Cap.  He had recognized her appealing form while she stood in the light of the Portal Screen.    Elia took solid and deliberate steps to stand close to her; his frosted breath caught her attention.

“Elia,” she said emotionless with only a spark of surprise.

“Kathern, my wife!”  a bit of heartsick longing rose within him.  Elia recalled her as not being totally dominated by Dulmen propaganda.

“How are the children?”

“Fine. They’re somewhere in the city.”   She kept her gaze to the screen with its reflection traveling  across her youthful face.

“And you?”  Elia asked, followed by a short silence.

“Fine.  Are you listening to the orator’s announcements?  Conspirators have been found in the recent earthquake areas.  The Big Sire has had them under surveillance for days now!”

Elia might have known.  Nothing less than an act of the Almighty might have protected the Exodus People.  The ingenuity of the Big Sire had seemed to have overcome even that.

“Why did you come back?”  his wife asked.

Elia swallowed, a hard knot in this throat, he wanted to say so much, it hurt.  “I love you!” he said.

“We haven’t been to bed for years, my husband.”  She kept her gaze on the screen.

“No, no, Kathern, I love ‘you.’”   She gave him only a blank glance, then turned back to the newscast.  

It was hopeless at this moment, he thought.  Tomorrow Elia planned to travel to his other Siberian communities.  Perhaps after hearing  him in speaking to these others, Kathern would come back to him.

The Portal Screen was announcing certain persons that cogently struck Elia:  “…officiate gods Arian Yul, Mark Reddress, Mylar City resident……”  The words boomed in his ears from the orator’s narration.  Elia stopped to listen;  what an informative surprise; so, his brother was very much alive and active.

Perhaps they would meet on these matters so intrinsically important.

**********

Saltarello

The young girl sat upon the level crag of a boulder.  She looked over the silver-tinted wasteland.  She was snugly enveloped by a woolen robe that was thick and heavy protecting her from the night cold.  A bulky  shawl shielded  her head and neck and only allowing her rosy-windswept cheeks, full lips, and watered eyes shingled by visible dark long lashes; she watched the huddled sheep on the pathway and clearing at the foot of the boulder.   A circle of stone and rock formed a small wall as shelter for the animals, protecting them the cutting wind that raced across the Flats.  She listened to the baying of the sheep, stroking one now and then with her long wooden staff.

She would glance at the full moon peering over the wasteland giving it a silver glow and shadows.  Although many miles away, two huge craters could be seen.  Towering rock spirals wrestled thin by the elements and the extreme forces of atomic explosion.    The night sky was a heavy mosaic of clear, sharp specks of light as scintillating, quivering stars.   The cold nip of the icy air gave the scene a sanitary aspect.

The clinking of a bell on an old ram caught her attention.  A burning torch in a crevice was the only light she had, but its glow covered several hundred feet.  Softly she hummed a gentile, sweet melody.

Her husband had been gone for several days now though he meant to be back by the dawn of the preceding day from his short and unromantic task.  Most of his latest missions for the Commune were strict business.   Now, he failed returning  at the time he had promised and she worried that he had run into some dire difficulties.

It was inevitable, she reasoned.  It had to be done.  The Elder, John Alexandrius, Matthew’s father, was presently incapable of continuing the missions in that area.  His health at his age was not at its acme, Matthew would carry-out that program with dexterity  But Matthew convinced the Elder that is was time for a ‘young blood’ to take responsibility and he assured his father that he was well-prepared to take on the hazards of the program.  Because he was of married status, the father protested, though Matthew was without children, and it only took slight dispute to convince the aging man of the unavoidability of the situation.  Already, younger men had been going on projects to various global territories; for its success for the Community Missions, Matthew said it was best that he took some of the responsibility without delay.

The young girl rose to her feet to stand, balancing herself on the long staff.  She took one finger and whipped the chain of tears that ran down her cheeks, they would make her cheeks red and chapped in the cold of the night.  Besides, if Matthew did appear suddenly, he would question her about the tears.  It took several days for some of the Ministers to return from trips—-though Matthew had gone farther in distance this time and, perhaps, had several feats to accomplish.  She leaned her head upon her hands clasped to the staff and cried in earnest:

“Oh, please come home, Matthew.  Oh please!”

She gave a sigh of remorse and exasperation, letting her arm swing to her side, turning to step upon stones leading to a higher vantage point on top of another granite slab.  The staff clinked on the hard surfaces; she raised the staff for a head rest.

“Such a lovely, lonely place for some to look upon,” she spoke to herself, “yet, should it be filled with the glory of love it would be boundless in beauty.”

She gripped her hands together around the staff in the posture of prayer and gazed up the multitude of glowing orbs across the sky, and spoke:

It is written: ‘therefore, rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea!   For the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.’”

She closed her eyes in earnest expression  and again her eyes began to water.  “Oh, please Father, if it be thy will,  if within thy purpose, return my husband to me.”

A hard knot appeared in her chest but she again spoke:  “It is written: ‘ But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils.  And in the synagogues, you shall be beaten.  And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for testimony against them.’’’

Her mind was beginning to ramble over past events; cherished moments from years gone by.   She began to taste the bitter tingle of human tears.  She visualized a warm and cozy summer’s day  and pleasant green vegetation and long stalks of corn.  From Matthew and herself laughter rang out as they ran freely through the plantation.  With dirty stains upon their hands from pulling weeds, they momentarily stopped to frolic.

‘‘We best get back to work, Matthew,” she had giggled as she dodged the boy as they bounced around a cherry tree chasing each other.  The boy stopped to catch his breath and then he sank into a green carpet of grass.  

“Come, set down.  Rest a moment.  We have all afternoon for us to work.  Here, take a cherry!”  He plucked one from a low branch.  She nodded in thanks and gracefully sat next to him.

“It was only a few year ago that this planation was nothing but rock, dry brittle soil, but look at it now!  A small paradise right here, only a half miles of so from the rim of the Flatlands,” exclaimed  Matthew. 

She smiled with a bit of reverence as she caressed tops of grass.   “Yes, and by the hard work of the Commune.”  She glanced over at the bobbling heads of crops.  “Like so many things we’ve done, it was by hard work and the devoted love of our people.”  Her eyes rose to meet  Matthew’s.  “If only it could grow the world over, we are so few.”

“It has grown, Christine.  There are a few communities as our own.  Not many, I’ll grant you, but there are a few,” Matthew assured her.

“Have you seen the others?” she inquired.

“No, but I’ll have that opportunity soon. I’ve heard so much about them, I just as well should have been there myself.’’  Mathew took on a worried look.  “You know, communications at any distance is a problem.  A big problem.  But for the first time in years, we can make reliable contact within a reasonable time.” 

“Is that who Tamor is?” she asked about a familiar name.

“Yes,”’ assured  Matthew,  “Tamor is an elder of the Commune which resides on the eastern quadrant of the Flats.   He is a very courageous man.  And a terribly busy one, I might add, for such depends on him.”

Christine shook her head in wonderment, “All this growth. I never realized it. Seems that when I been just a child,”  they both had to smile because they both had not yet reached adulthood, “when I was smaller, I didn’t remember seeing this large plantation.  We didn’t have any such thing, but perhaps a weather-beaten garden.  Now, we grow our own produce in such magnificent numbers.  Cattle and sheep, look at our herds!”  She pointed to the brown and white animals strolling on a hillside.

“Em, yes.  It is a warming thought if you should stop to really look at it.”  Matthew had more on his mind.  He smiled to himself and then  slide into a more comfortable position to make a longer comment.  “I’ve seen all kinds of growth within the past years.  I admire the work of the Commune, what the beauteous labors that have produced.  Some of the magnificent craftsmanship that our carpenters and clothiers have produced are marvelous.  But the beauty of a ‘human’ is one that no man can match.” 

Christine looked at Matthew in innocence, not knowing why the grin on his face.

“Take the growth of one girl that I know.  Just a small, tiny little thing some years ago.  Rather thin, but healthy.  Very industrious.   But all in all, I had little interest in her.  She was a friend, true, but I had a lot of friends.’’

Matthew’s grin grew a little larger but controlling it.

“What little girl is this?”  asked Christine in serious expression.

“Well, now, wait a minute.  I’ll get to that shortly…time had passed on.  I watched this little friend grow into a young maiden helping to make our Commune existence even more worthwhile.   Struggling at the side of her mother and father to organize our way of life against the elements. Studious? Oh, what a student; and how often I was embarrassed by her as a rival.  Dedicated.  Charitable.  Yes, I suppose she was all of this and more.  But she was also ‘lovely,’ she had grown into a rose from the earth blossoming into fullness.   No finer creation might be found on earth to herald the handiwork of our Heavenly Father.”

“Well, who is she?”   asked Christine determined to discover her.

Matthew looked at her as if he wanted his eyes to speak.  “You, my dear, you are the lovely one.  And it is deepest wish, providing things are right, that you know my love for you.  And, perhaps, one day, if it be your wish as well, we will marry.  It is my highest compliment .”

Matthew leaned over her and lightly kissed her on her forehead, then he assisted her to her feet.  Christine did not know exactly what to say.  She was magnetized by his sweet  words.   She answered with admiring eyes. 

“We will talk again, Matthew, I promise,”  she assured him.

He understood.  “Come Christine.   We best get back to work.  I believe your father is calling now.”

The memory vanished, and Christine found herself again gazing over the desolate wasteland

Matthew wouldn’t have carelessly given up all this love, all this devotion here in the Commune to throw it away for some careless endeavor in the cities of the barbarians on the other side of the Flats, she thought to herself.  If it took this much sacrificing, it must deserve the effort…and the risk.  What was it that Matthew said right before he left?   “It is written: ‘Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth?  I tell you, nay, but rather division.’  It is also written: ‘Who when is that faithful and wise Stewart…blessed is that servant. Whom the Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.’’’

Later, in quiet study, Christine found the words so true, and the implications were so presently adequate.

In the frosty night breeze, the voice of the elderly John Alexandrius could be heard calling the girl’s name.  He repeated the call.  His voice was coming from over the rocky ridge to which the barren path descended.  Christine realized the late hour, and she would have to stop her herding and gather the animals back towards their pens.

“Christine,” came the robust tone of the Elder, “gather your animals together and put them away for the night.”

“Coming father!”  she replied, cupping her hand to one side of her mouth, “I hear you.  We’re coming,”  as the baying of the animals began their march back to the farm.

And it would be a good thing too; perhaps the warmth of her father-in-law’s understanding, his guiding and vibrant wisdom  would be a welcome thing on such a cold night.  She could visualize now his two dark eyes, singled by bushy eyebrows, peering at her out of a rosy-cheeked face haloed by his snow-white hair and beard.  Often, his serious face would burst into a heartwarming smile. 

A few minutes later, “Coming father!  Let me shut the gates to the pens!”  She felt the pain of remorse gathering within her, and the uncontrollable thickness of the anxiety in her throat forming tears.  She thrust the long wooden staff over the boulder and into the wooden gate forcing it open.  She again used the staff to check the amount of animal feed.  Satisfied, she moved along the boulder until her silhouette  disappeared into the ravine.  All that was left was the last flickers of a dying torch and the low murmuring of huddled sheep.

But if the night quietude could speak, it would have uttered screams of panic and fear: for if one looked closely out over the plain in the direction that Christine had faced, out into the thousands of silver and white specks of heavenly lights, one would see a horizontal line of orbs growing in brightness, becoming more defined with each second.  It was the StarCraft squadrons carrying the ineffable Dulmen with crafts that extended to the horizon!  

Within minutes, the orbs of the crafts eerily covered  the rocky ridge.  First, one squadron glided gracefully in small groups of five over the farthest part of the ridge of jutting granite.  Then five more floated over the ridge.  Five more.  The armada of crafts had broken into various groups of five, each dispatched into a particular sector; their Scanners fully activated.  They came in a steady stream rapidly peeling off a main squadron group and proceeded into investigatory places. 

The low-burning farmer’s torch, the sole illuminance for those baying gerus ovis, had already given one last flicker, and the crooked shadows of the animals quickly ceased.  Christine summoned her loyal and trustworthy herd-dog to her side, and then dispensed the dog to rounding-up the animals for the pens.

The night waited for the next suspense-filled interlude!

**********

Chapter Fifteen

Feline

The smell of cheap wine fumed up into the nostrils of any near passerby that could find his way through the cluttered walkway.  Humped amounts of paper, wood, old paraphernalia from lamps to worn-out shoes, to dinnertime garbage, lay strewn up and down the alley and street.  A floating lamp was the only light in that dark recess, and its low wattage have only given a person a headache.

The meow of an old tomcat accompanied a discovering of some human object beneath a pile of discarded papers and a large poster that had been hastily torn down to be replaced by a newer one at the cold metallic side of the building that formed part of an alley:  the newer  sign was a portrait of  the expressionless, wrinkle-free, youthful face of Martin Seisbury.  Oddly, the propagandist had invented a queer twist to these productions:  they gave Martin shoulder length hair as a rather effeminate appeal, and a message introducing him as “The Ascending god.”

Arms and legs thrashed about  to throw the awkward bulk from on top of him.  Sluggishly, a gruff-faced man joggled himself upright and peered through heavy half shut eyes that were red with bloodshot and were watered in irritation, shingled by heavy and puffed eyebags beneath.  A dark and wiry beard radiused his face looking as if someone smeared charcoal over his face, denoting a shave a lady hobo had given him days before.  He lifted his redden hand, sick from sores,  to straighten the beat-up old hat upon his head; the crown of the once stylish derby was bashed and creased all over.  He deeply  growled and coughed  as if sick.

“Eeeem.  Blasted place is about as comfortable as laying on a bed of nails,” he mumbled as he tried to lift himself up but only falling back into the trash, “Where is it?  It was here before.  Where is it?”  He angrily  demanded throwing the thick pulp aside and kicking a spilled trash can out of his way.  “I smell it!  It’s here!”  

He forced himself to his feet and staggered across the alley to fall against  a wall of granite that supported him from collapsing.   He remained silent for five minutes.  When he regained some coordination, he slowly pushed himself into the light of the main street.

“Forget it,” he slurred, “there’s another one—-there’s—–there’s…,” he nudged a bulky object in the pocket of his seamless one-piece jumper that was torn to smithereens from wear and tear, “What?  What’s this?”

He dramatically grabbed the bottle of wine from his pocket, sniffed it, and proudly held it up as if a magnifying glass to a floating street globe.  “Wine!  Ah, wine!”  He began to laugh hysterically.

He cupped the bottom of the bottle in his hands and reverently swung around in an arc to again raise it to the pulsating advertising light over a nearby tavern.  A velvet-red glow shone on his face revealing a very sickly set of jowls and wrinkles from chronic illness.  His tearful eyes gazed upon the red substance splashing about in the bottle.  Above him was a three-dimensional nude female model gyrating within the advertisement-plasma beckoning passerby’s to come in for merriment and unrestrained pleasure.

With one brisk movement of his hands, he threw the neck of the bottle into his mouth, whimpering like a spoiled child, he gulped the stringent fluid down.  It seemed to add metal to his body, and upon wiping his mouth upon his sleeve,  he was ready to venture forth again—-at least, for the distance of a few feet.

The street upon which those nightclubs, taverns, and apartment buildings were situated ran for several hundred feet and then abruptly at an edge in front of him turned into a monstrous chasm that had been created by multiple earthquakes rendering the underground city into pieces.  The cliff of that fault-crack had eroded into a steep slope with a few remaining trees, forest brush, that led down to more of the heavily destroyed city below.

High overhead was an orange ‘flicker’ as if a red-hot coal that was still slightly burning: It was the huge electrode of the Sol Globe  situated at the middle-ceiling of the arching underground shaft.  A buzzing sound crackled from it ever so often and thundered through the poorly lit cavern.  The shaft was so poorly lit that the citizens of Feline were living in a perpetual night; it was the last city in the multilevel complex of subterranean shafts.  The Department of Welfare having long ago neglected the public electrical facilities such that Feline, as a city, remained in a stupor. 

The number of artificial lights could be counted in a matter of seconds

In the black darkness of the city staring outward like a stretched lattice of glowing eyes; more were the jaunting flickers of manmade torches and bonfires that glowed in yards and patios of vaguely visible homes accompanied to fluttering shadows of nearby people and things.

Here in this Alice in Wonderland world one could find the conventional Dulmen homes of synthetic domes and zigzags and squares, but even more so, were the homes that projected a lost page in time.  Stately mansions with tall columns, elegant vines, evergreens, and then next to it an almost flat suburban-type home with an arching garage and wide yards: all equally ruined and devastated.  And so, it went throughout the city.  The gross  deterioration masked the bizarre ruin of the homes.  Even less occasionally would some light be seen from the interior of the homes.  

The perimeter ledge of land  on which Tom Longram took his drunken stance was  strangely well lit, perhaps because it was a Dulmen estate that remained intact to the electrical apparatus coming from the main shaft.  The earthquakes had well torn the subterranean metropolis but eventually the citizens of  Feline returned to establish a ghetto-type of existence.  Property, life, and limb had fallen prey to anyone’s whim, and what could be summoned by municipal police was far too lame to curtail any crime.  Besides, it was much too convenient for crooks and even ordinary citizens and the police to take a hand in pilfering and the pandemic occasions of rape and mayhem.  This all fit well with the general Dulmania lawlessness.

Much earlier, registered citizens left the devastated site in large droves carrying what property and possessions they could to settle in areas available in the neck of the shafts and in the cities above on the surface.  Strangely, Dulmen permission was perfunctorily given but that usually depended on a citizen’s relationship or generic background to officials or citizens on the surface, which could be punitive and harsh, often involving enslavement or other dirty dealings.

Those that remained in Feline did so because of the uncertain reality on the surface which was viewed as another alien world.   Few had ventured from Feline since their birth.  Dulmania was satisfied to have them corralled in their present circumstance.

Many questioned the metaphysical aspects of the catastrophe.  Maybe it was a warning from the gods!  Perhaps they had lost favor altogether with the gods and goddesses for Feline had long ago been portrayed as an outcast city relinquished into Dulmen subterranean life.  Although unknown to Feline citizens at this time, Feline one of the first cities that had witnessed the appearance of the mysterious and unique ‘conspirators’ from the shadowy ‘Communes’ hidden in the wildernesses around the globe.  And it was in Feline that the Big Sire could be heard to occasionally rumble and groan, the same Big Sire that was part of the global computer-complex that ruled Mylar City and all the other regions.

Tom Longram shuddered to think of his reality as he stood immobile and pensively gazed at the dark vault of the sunken city.  He leaned on a column from a ruined bannister, the only remains of an outdoor beer garden.  That hazy glow might appear any minute in the far wall of the shaft, he thought to himself, and slowly grow into a golden swirling vortex almost as if something were trying to burn through the solid rock wall with a penetrating ray.   That mass of radiance would turn into a drifting cloud of orange, green and red amid vapors of black smoke.  Citizens would stop their activities to watch in horror at the grotesque mass of energy and see an odd human image forming:  two blue dots advancing from within  the vapors and growing into large catlike eyes that would shift about in its stare—-and then end in one spot.  The apparition would let out a scowl, a horrifying heart wrenching yowl comparable to a cat   or even a lion.  Even after many such visitations, citizens never quite grew docile enough to see the Great Mind roaming about—-it was such cat-like locutions that priorates gave the city its name.  The irradiance would diminish into a small globe of light and then slink back disappearing into the subterranean wall.

“Ah, Mary,”  Tom sighed, “why did you have to go?”  Tom bowed his head in grief and began to stumble towards a line of honky-tonks.

His wife had departed some time ago along with the vast crowds of citizens; Tom never did quite understand why although she seemed to be engaged in some secret project for the Department of Defense, Tom never felt obliged or was brave enough to question about the nature of the activity.  He shunned the interim of the whole thing while his wife became more and more indifferent to him and the family.  However, she was of the generic rank of the 21st level, and he only a servant class of Dunbar.  She often spoke that she was destined for service in the higher ranks of Dulmania and she bragged how she had somehow obtained just that!  Tom did not know what to make of her declaration; one thought he envisioned was the tales he heard about the Palace of Dreams on the surface, but it all remained confusing.  

Whatever her secret project was, he understood that it was ‘big,’ and she had been under constant surveillance and control since the day of her inauguration into her new duties.  At first, it appeared to Tom some type of tragicomedy, but the scene soon changed when Mary excited with the other citizens.

“Tom,” she said, “I must leave!”  Tom had raised his eyebrows.  He began reciting her words:  “I’ve been asked to leave.  Something ‘big’ is going to happen—-something ‘more.’”

The memory evaporated and Tom once again stood in the glow of three floating street globes.  “Something ‘big,’’’  he said sarcastically, shaking his head and waving his bottle, ‘‘something ‘more.’”  His sarcasm was filled with sadness.   He began to stumble into the street, staggered back to the curb and fell on his buttocks with a thump.  He slumped the bottle of liquor to his feet and then lowered his head into his arms and elbows.

“Why couldn’t that white robbed fella leave us alone?   He started it, whoever he was!”   His voice increased in volume, ‘‘Why didn’t he stay away?  I knew he was trouble from the first  time I saw him!”   Tom took another swig from the bottle and allowed the puissant-smelling liquid dribble through the grisly stubs of his beard.

Two females had stepped away from the entrance to the smoke-filled honkytonk and were talking low but emphatically as if in a quarrel.  They appeared to be youngsters in the latest gross tightfitting apparel.  The two waved their righthand index fingers at each other and then parted paths.

Tom continued his thoughts.  He thought at first that his wife had a genuine concern for him; how their saddened situation came about was hard to say.  All he could related to be the afternoon she had returned from a trip to the Department of Welfare for ‘tax adjustment’ that this mysterious ‘sphinx’ of a problem appeared.  They had  been late in their tax payments.  Usually, a monthly audit was asked, so she packed a small duffel bag and  headed for the Subway Transport (a subterranean train and transport in the major shaft where ‘shock free’ projectiles would propel citizens to further transportation on the surface).   It was a customary practice (depending on a citizen’s generic assets, as well as some physical ones) which might be pleasing to a ‘god,’  that payments might in the form of sexual prostitution.

This didn’t bother Tom, nor the children,  nor, apparently, his wife Mary.  The only fear they shared  was that the ‘gods’ might tire of such compensation and demand  their entire estate and then force them into physical slavery.  This led into other difficulties.  Some might even find themselves confronted by torture in the Arena or in the basement of some Dulmen officiate.   This was the only real concern Tom could muster over the whole affair, and the implication was that Tom should not become too prying or concerned  at the sentient issues. 

He remembered the afternoon that Mary came running into their compartment cubical-living quarter, breathlessly muttering words about having been ‘wrong’ about something or another (Tom had been busily repairing a Viewing Screen.  Dulmania no longer assisted in their repairs, though they always made it mandatory to have at least one functioning).

She sat down immediately and gleefully began telling him of a strange man who almost appeared out of nowhere and captivated her with a plethora of talk that was confusing yet startling.  He seemed to know instinctively the personal plight they were in: their delinquency in tax and rent, the sexual prostitution as payment, the pilfering of food to avert starvation of the little children, he even knew a fact that made Mary’s skin crawl:  that numerous faults and cracks were multiplying throughout the Earth’s crust and mantle and fissures of great pressure were appearing  in larger and larger Dulmania ‘shafts’ (part of the Pit system) and bubbles throughout deep pockets within terra firma! 

“He said: ‘Repent or there will be no way for you to escape!  Neither will your goddess Vera, your Marxz, your Horus – nor any of your diabolical phantoms will save you!  The Evil One had grown and reached the ultimate step – but the last – that he will take!’  I believe that is what he said.  Quite sure.  What does it mean?”

She leaned forward on the foam hassock and received her husband’s vaguely hidden bewilderment.  He set the electrode that he was working with aside and kneeled before her, noting the quiet, impassive expressions of their children (these were ‘Rob’ children, the only children that Tom and his wife were allowed, artificially inseminated,  by serial sequence and generic match in the laboratories of Dulmania, created by synthetic substances and energy: they were the only children that Tom Longram and wife will ever have!

“I don’t know, Mary,”  Tom had said, “either he was a prankster or – or –  or one of those poor individuals they will be sending to the surface laboratories to be exterminated.  It is obvious he is ‘mad,’ completely discordant with Dulmen reality.”

“That’s what I thought.  That’s what I thought.  But he was sane enough to tell me about my personal secrets.  And there has been many earthquakes, Tom.  We’ve heard the reports, remember?”  She pointed her finger at her husband in seriousness.

Tom’s robust face  had appeared to her a masterpiece chiseled out of marble: piercing dark eyes, handsome features, but still being ruled by the whimsical dictums of the city prelates, though  the wife often took the situation under her  wavering control:

“Tremors have occurred – and I heard many more rumors!” she asserted.

“I’d stop that, Mary. I wouldn’t  bother with that fellow anymore.”

Mary wasn’t really listening.  Her mind was already visualizing some of the other things the man had said.  She sat looking past her husband.  Tom rose to go back to his errand.  He glanced forlornly at this wife.  They said no more on the topic for over a week.  But he knew she continued to see this mysterious man; he even spied the two out in the garden of the patio Plaza of the apartment.  The man appeared to be polite, clean and in a spotless white robe, features that were unusual in Feline.  Mary had said that this mystery man had expressed the wish to speak to the whole family together. Mary prevented this for unknown reasons.

These memories and visions faded and Tom Longram found himself back in the present.  Tom’s ears began to ring, louder and louder, and he quickly clasped his hands over them and closed his eyes.

“Oh no,”  he thought, “not again!”  He bit his lip in fear as this was a regular experience.  The ringing would stop and then bleak silence.  Yes, Tom was going deaf and there was nothing he could do about it.  It was inevitable because his Class could not avail to profitable services, not until all past debts were ‘cleared,’ and even then, it would be  necessary for him to perform some outlandish sacrifice. 

Again, two females were in debate.  His head swirled beyond that which his  inebriated state would prompt.  The glaring hologram advertisement of the tavern cast an unstable scenery.   When he rose again there was only the tomblike deafness.  He swayed as he looked at the two lesbian females in a physical brawl over a physical advancement that led to a slap.  There was a swirl of a hand, a bright burst of light, and the one female slumped to the pavement—-dead—-lifeless—-while the other ‘strolled’ into the darkness at the far end of the street!

(The scientists of the Sedox era did a commendable job of hologramlike advertising where such utilizations of such technology in Mind Control were astounding in symphonies of light, shadow, and darkness.  It was almost as if ‘time’ itself had vomited up a gasping plea for mercy: Stop!  For heaven’s sake, stop! )

And then Tom witnessed a third sombrous interpolation that entered his scenery as a man and his lady friend, a group of homophiles, a few other people, all demonstrated the same indifference: a man came by and upon encountering the body, stepped over it, almost as if it weren’t even there;  his face had hidden beneath the rim of his hat, of which he tipped the rim closer to his forehead so shadows would cover it even further.   Soon he disappeared.  A steady flow of people came down the avenue demonstrated the same indifference in a trail of mosaic orchestration and esoteric dance, but with no audible tone: a song of silence.

Tom could feel the heavy breathing from within himself; he placed his hand on his chest to see if his heart were still beating: the silence was so deep and so continuing he could not be sure of anything.  

The street tilted more as he grabbed onto a railing that led to a basement cabaret which prevented himself from falling down the steps.  He stopped short but swung himself onto a wall of the building next door.  The pulsating glow of the advertising plasma illuminated a plethora  of painted and scribbled symbols from hoodlum gangs that trailed along the street.  Amid the expressions of vulgarity, bad humor, dissent, seven words struck him the most, even though it had been difficult selecting them out of the hodgepodge of scribbled éclat:

IT IS HE END OF THE WORLD.

And so, it is, thought Tom.  His hand slipped on the railing and Tom Longram realized for the first time in many months that his wife and children had been, oddly, the only other living things that he had really cared about; why he didn’t realize it sooner, he really didn’t know, he only knew it was too late.

“IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!”  his voice rang out in a surprising vibrance despite his weak condition.  The railing slipped away from his grip.  Total darkness and complete silence descended upon him.

It was death!

**********

The mother sat beneath the oak tree and nodded her head in acquiescence.  The babe contently went about his filling his bag with his souvenirs.  He would occasionally pick a plant or a bit of goldenrod or Maple leaf viburnum about him.  

It was still quiet.  The peace was supreme.  Life was good.  The child’s thoughts were friendly: It was a forest all his own!  Chapter Thirteen.

***

The child’s plastic bag was filed with all the odds and ends that once were paraphernalia of the forest.  The babe slowly made his way towards the path carrying his most prized possession: the ancient coin.  The nip of the cold night air made his task even more awkward.   The bright glow of the moon appeared to make ample light to work but the mother stood by sternly watching because she had just admonished the child that it was getting late. 

The star-studded sky was a glorious sight to the child who had held out his hand as if to grab some of the points of light that were myriad in their appearance.  The fluorescent moon looming above as if the child could grasp  it as tied to its mother Earth by a thin umbilical cord of life.  The face of the moon hadn’t changed noticeably over the eons allowing a child to question, still, about the proverbial ‘man in the moon.’

The twisting branches of the forest stood out as shadows against the dark blue star-filled sky, and the babe imagined all sorts of mysterious and prying faces composed by the forest.

He hurried quickly, sometimes stumbling in his task of carrying his bag of souvenirs.  Here and there, creatures of the forest could be noticed in the tall yellow grass and pale reeds, only adding to his determination to reach his mother’s side.   Dirt-stained, sweaty, with a slight cut on his fatty leg from swish of a thornbush, he eventually grasped his mother’s hand, his smiling out-of-breath-body finally rested his head upon her dress.  She gently caressed his hair as she gestured that they should quickly leave, the chilly night air was more than she cared for.   Together they grasped the bag and headed across the moonlit field.  Suddenly, the boy tugged on the bag and asked the mother to stop walking.  He turned to look back at the mighty Sherman Oak  that guarded the entrance to the woods.

The silver orb of the moon seemed to protect his favorite place with warm care.  It was quiet.  It was very peaceful.  The babe raised his arm and sadly waved at his new favorite place of play.

The two quickly scampered off to a warm home.

**********

Chapter Sixteen

The Conspirators

The Searching Party had been patient.  They had crisscrossed the mountainous ridges over and over, covering the picturesque  granite archways, pyramid boulders, towering plateaus of red rock, the maze of stone debris and explosion-torched earth.  When they had no results, they spread the search farther beyond the sloping hills to where more comfortable terrain appeared  of sleeping trunks  and roasted limbs of trees and brush.

To not waste any further time circling the same incommodious area, the order was given to spread the five Group Squadrons farther down the range, and several to ‘trace-back’ across the Flats, and a few headed back to the point of their entrance.  Martin and his craft remained in the immediate vicinity.

Their sprite-like globular craft glided over a crater rim, dipping down in between  the spirals of rock and granite, down an eroded fissure of a canyon-size split in the side of a mountain, then up again and back towards the rolling hills.

“My Lord look at those zigzag lines of brown,’’ beckoned one of the technicians towards his Viewing Screen hiding him beneath  a bright hue.  

Martin turned from the Sensor Grid to visually observe the meticulously organized rows of brown below the craft.   “Appears to be a plantation, I’d say from their arrangement,”  and Martin motioned for a few others to look as well.  “Why didn’t we notice it before?”

“I don’t know, sire,’’ came the excited voice of Mark Redress, “but all of your scanners have been activated as well.”   And, indeed, all the scanners were suddenly operating.  Small white lights could be visually seen, and then several more  pinpoints of light appeared throughout the terrain.

“What’s that large luminous mass?” asked Martin about a definite glowing blob on the scanners.

“It denotes the largest amount of human or subsisting activity, Lord.  We’ve circled closely in that area but a moment ago, and there was nothing!  Nothing at all!”  reported the technician.  Martin looked at him in surprise. 

“Alright!  Circle that area—-then descend!”  Martin stood erect from his stooped position over the consoles.  His chest swelled with anxious anticipation.  “To your battle stations!   All stations alert!”

Their spacecraft was a small arsenal of atomic destruction, a  virtual single-craft-Army that would be able to ward off any aggression till the other crafts arrived; notwithstanding, they could totally obliterate the opposition.

The craft turned back and dipped down to within feet of the crumbled, valanced face of a cliff.  The scanners noted a small life forms, peering out of the cabin canopy, the crew noted the stampeding bodies of sheep.  Martin threw his head back in roaring  and uninhibited laughter:

“Found them!  Found the rascals!  Found them!”

He spun around, unsheathed his sword, and began to lightly tape the tops of those seated at the consoles.  The technicians stared at Martin in confusion and fear.   He swirled the sword over this head and then rammed the weapon back into its sheath.  Here was the opportunity to relieve that oppressive pressure that had built within his physique and banish that bleak, untamed fury in his mind, establishing his sovereignty as a Dulmen god!

Martin glared at his technicians with a sardonic smile, snapping his fingers over his head.

“Set her down!’   A rise in the pitch of the craft’s generators, then it turned into a low vibratory hum.  The craft nestled into a center of a boulder-nest and reduced its fluorescence to a  bare minimum.  Within minutes, the red capes and the brown-black vestures of the soldier patrol emerged from a hatch and down a ramp. Drawing their weaponized swords, they immediately dispersed in military fashion to boulders and rocks for hiding.  The only visible sign of their entrenchment was their vaporized breaths in the cold-night air.

They were facing a well-chiseled entrance to a cavern beyond the guarding boulders.   From within a dim glow emitted.

After a few minutes of silence, Martin and three-high-ranking soldiers ordered the patrol to slink into the cavern mouth.   Martin raised his hand  in a signal for his patrol to momentarily stand motionless. The cool expression on his face, the slow movement of his eyes from side to side, with an engrossed look of deep interest, the stark expectation that possessed him was evident.   It was almost as if his mouth were salivating with the hunger of excitement.

They passed several sister tunnels running in various directions, but Sensors on their vestures  told them that the main activity lay ahead.  Arian and Mark Redress looked like some gorilla-warriors slipping into a forbidden enemy war zone.  Arian ran his hand over his belt and a pea-sized light popped out of a belt-slot and continued to rise into the air.  It grew in its luminosity until it was bright enough to cast a daylight hue that accompanied them at their side.  The deeper they went in the shaft  their Sensors became a steady pulsating green.

Low musical rhythm could be heard of voices in chorus, and with each step the words became clearer and discernable.  A rather jubilant song.  The diction was not entirely Dulman though similar; some of the men whispered that they only recognized  a partial familiarity.  There were words talking about a king which was in glory; they were questioning his name; he was promised for ages; his name was Emmanuel!

“THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES!  OPEN THE GATES BEFORE HIM, LIFT UP YOUR VOICES!”  Such a haunting melody full of happiness and promise.  ‘‘IN ALL OF GALILEE, IN CITY OR VILLAGE, HE GOES AMONG HIS PEOPLE CURING THEIR ILLNESS!”   Again, a solemn refrain,  ‘‘THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES!  OPEN THE GATES BEFORE HIM, LIFT UP YOU VOICES!”  

Several soldier lowered their hands to the handles of their Penetrating Swords  and fists whitened as they gripped the jeweled handles.  They began to take a battle stance and with each step the chorus of voices grew louder.  Tambourines could be heard mixed into the chorus.

“SING THEN OF DAVID’S SON, OUR SAVIOR AND BROTHER: IN ALL OF GALLIEE WAS NEVER ANOTHER! THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES! OPEN THE GATS BEFORE HIM, LIT UP YOUR VOICES!”

They were beginning to pass chiseled sculptures of men on the sides of the tunnel and beneath each image, unknown names, in a forgotten language.  Martin glanced back on his patrol to see if they were in a battle stance.

“HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR US, THE PLEDGE OF SALAVTION…”

Suddenly, they turned a corner to be confronted by a large sleek velvet curtain, clean without the dust of the cavern, their guiding light produced a sheen across the flowing ripples of the luxurious material.

Martin order them to stop, and the line culminated into a position of soldiers who waiting anxiously to hear what Martin had to say.  Martin felt that whoever was on the other side of that pendulous veil had to have heard them, but then, because of the volume of the conspirators’ chorus, he could not be sure.

“HE TOOK UPON HIMSELF THE SINS OF THE NATION…”

Somewhat breathless, Martin wished he could have prepared himself better against what laid ahead.  He imagined that, now, steadily spreading from one Dulmen metropolis to another, propagandist would have heralded the news of the new “Ascending god,” about the epoch that was about to emerge upon the world; how the last remnant of traitorous conspirators ‘in all creation’ had been discovered and were promptly and invidiously being dealt with.  The citizens of Dulmania would never have to fear of such a threat every again!

(The ‘programmed’ hysteria would not be a normal thing but a creation of the Brain.  Madam Marza would dance nude in remembrance of the deaths of her husbands.  The children of her neighborhood would prick her with pins and sharp objects as she danced hysterically about.  The Rob children would march in long divisions down the street of outer cities; they would lift their feet up high and slap them to the ground in a march like that of infantrymen of a mad dictator eons ago, the Third Reich.  The Rob children would converge on the properties and bodies, by their own request, and demolish them to smithereens.  Other Dulmania citizens would offer  on the day of the Jest  remembrances of their family and friends to Dulmen gods and goddesses and the new Ascending god.  Under the disguise of worship, their new god played with their minds and lives, while citizens told themselves it was all glorious!

(The hysteria, the debauchery, would spread throughout the globe: every home, every city, every place where people gathered, esoteric practices that usually were not practiced but at special times during the year, would be indulged in.  Mothers and fathers would stand immobile before their sons and daughters and endeavor to sing profanities to the gods as their children slapped them in their faces, punched them in their stomachs and kicked them on the ground, again and again.

(Or the opposite would happen.   Drunk with drugs and liquor, laughing fiendishly in the new festival, parents would sneak into the rooms or living areas where children resided and begin to throw stones and furniture at them, all the while jeering at them and asking the children to fall upon their knees and pray in thanksgiving to the gods, trying to explain in breathless anxiety the meaning of the festival.  If a two-month-old baby were killed, well, the gods were at least appeased; if a son or daughter maimed, they would praise and brag about it as a blessing from the eternal gods and goddesses.

(Erotic orgies; sadistic murders; wanton criminality; in trees; in the torn openings of graves, amongst the corpses; bestiality among domestic and feral animals—often by moonlight and projected hologrammatic images; huge cinematic portraits of Dulmen officiates smiling down on vast areas along with bursting shafts of light in all shades of brilliance, rolling, tumbling,  spreading beneath its umbrella over a world that had gone ‘mad.’

Martin Salisbury’s thoughts revolved back to the task at hand:  he rationalized that all the praise and commendations were for a job well-done.  Then his thoughts were snapped completely back to the current situation by more chorus:

“THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES!”

He motioned two soldiers to advance to the curtain.  The others stepped back a few paces, and in unison they all  drew their weaponized swords, pressing a tab on their jeweled handles by the weight of their palms causing the wide edges of their swords to glow with intense heat and light.  “alright,”  Martin remarked, stepping back a few paces himself. 

“OPEN THE GATES BEFORE HIM!  LIFT UP YOUR VOICES!”

With two swings of two weapons, from the top of the curtain diagonally to its lower edge, the laser-action of the swords ripped a neat “^”  and the heavy material fell with a loud clump.  With raised swords, all the patrol stepped into an immaculately clean chamber that had rows of torches extending down the sides of the cavity.  A large fire was in the center of the area that  housed a metallic-grid-fireplace  with animal designs.  A circular grid in the ceiling allowed the smoke to dissipate.  Wooden benches, stone stools,  table slabs, pieces of wardrobe and clothing were in the immediate area; and at the far end a flight of stone stairs leading to a leveled podium encircled by a wall of books (not the kind that Dulmania was accustomed to, but antique, ancient, and with binding including many pages).

Shrieks and gasps suddenly rang out!   Women left their benches of decorating and embroidery to grasp the hands of their children and race towards another curtained archway on a far wall.  Their panic caused some torches to be propelled onto the floor.  Women and children, then,  barely vanished  through the second curtain leading to the other chamber.   A handful of men swirled away from their tasks at the library shelves  and in a defensive gesture attempted to hurry the women and children along.

The voices of the chorus that had introduced the soldiers into the cavern suddenly stopped and loud murmurs, whisperings, and crying began.  Martin watched in suspenseful interest at the split-second response of the alien people.  Martin snapped his fingers, and a few soldiers shot blobs of stunning energy disabling some of the  scampering men to the ground.  The second curtain was thrust to one side and out stepped a rather stern-looking male with white hair, long flowing robe and gown, staff in hand, and a medallion around his neck.  Others peered through the archway in fear and shock.

The elderly man said nothing but stepped quickly thrusting his staff into the dirt floor with a ‘crunch’ with each jab.  A barely subdued look of anger was upon his hoary features.  When he came within feet of the brazen Martin Salisbury he stopped and looked at Martin with cold penetrating eyes.  A strange uneasy silence came upon the scene, a silence that Martin had never encountered before.  Martin felt that he had at long last come close—-very close—to the aching mystery  that swelled up in the recesses of his mind.

“Whom do you seek?”   Somewhere from beneath a cloud of white and slightly grey hair came the deep resonance of the man who obviously was high in authority.   Martin really didn’t need the two muscular and stern Mus-chutes that stood at his side, Martin thought to himself, he had enough courage to handle an old man.

“You are addressing ‘the’ new god, old man!”   Martin was mustering up a tirade of sardonic and crudeness to spew upon the patriarch but  the old man’s face was too much of a unique reality to make that possible. “I am the Son of Misslou!”

No one moved.  Then suddenly Arian and Mark redress became curious and confident enough to enter the line of confrontation.

“I know what  you are!”  The old man jobbed his staff angrily in the soil.  “We’ve been expecting one such as yourself for some time now.”  The old man spoke perfect Dulmen dialect for he had previously ventured into Dulmen territories many times. His rugged pink complexion and the calluses on his hands did show that he had not been averse to herding sheep in the cold autumn night,  nor plucking crops in the blistering heat of a summer afternoon.

We, old man, are your ultimate salvation or your destruction!   We are about to save you or destroy  you!  Whatever I see fit!’’  Martin stiffened for the old man’s response.  “What do you say to that, ancient one?”

The old man gave only a slight smile, realizing that much was at stake.

You have not that power – you batch of mindless protoplasm – you empty vessel of vain temptress thoughts —  you…”    

Martin cut his diatribe short, “ Stop it!”   Martin brought his hand up to swing it against the man’s face.  John Alexanrius did not flinch, though a few female gasps could be heard from the other chamber.  Some of his people scampered to his side in defense. 

Martin forced a weak smile.  “So, you speak riddles as well?  Some of you people speak nothing but riddles!  The empire will fall,”  recalling that threat of the Circus victims, ‘‘your god is not mocked?”   Martin spit upon the ground in contempt.  “Bah!  Do you realize for how long we have existed?   Do you, old man?  That is only one fact that says that my kingdom will go on forever.”

John Alexandrius saw an opportunity to factually educate Martin.  “For some time now the substrata and core of this planet has been in dishevel; when our Lord sees fit within days – years – this planet will crumble into itself.  The bowels of Mother Earth growls.  You have seen evidence of that yourself.” 

Martin pretended astonishment, “We’ve had no catastrophes!”

“None of which your Master Computer would allow to be known.  What of Feline?”

“Feline?”  Martin grasped the old man’s thoughts.  “What of Feline?  That city was ravished by the anger of our Great Mind.’’ 

“Not that master alone!  Our all-mighty God destroyed her!”

“You old fool!  I’ll strike you dead now if you speak as such again!” Martin thrust a finger at John’s face.

John Alexandrius glanced wearily to the ground, “You’ll not solve anything that way.  What happened only foreshadows what yet is to come.   It is written: ‘Nothing under the Sun is new, neither is any man able to say: behold this is new.  For it hath already gone before in the ages that went before us.’’’   Alexandrius glanced sadly at the younger graduate-god, “‘The perverse are hard to be corrected: and the number of fools is infinite,’ so it is written.”

“We’ll see how your scorn stands fast  when your homes, houses, and supplies are ravished!  When your women and children are raped!  When your able-bodied men are strapped to a stake and tortured for long, endless hours with  ‘penetrating’ rays,” thundered Martin.  “This cavern will crumble into utter oblivion!  You must confess and relent your so-called ultimate reality peacefully.” 

“And become mindless robots wandering the unholy streets of damned cities?   To become puppet-people unknowingly acting out a fake life and death drama on a stage set with waves of cues and signs that flow relentlessly during a great sea storm,’’  said John.   “We’ve heard it all too often in the history of  your civilization:  ‘Sit here, unholy child! Rise now, unholy child!  Eat and sleep now, unholy child!   Die, kill, worship me now, you ghastly unholy child!  But please do not understand  that your personal ‘freedom’ is truly only a wild slavery!”  The patriarch’s mustache rose and lowered with his succinct expressions. 

“Slavery?”  said Martin sarcastically.  “What freedom  have you?  Living like hidden rats, like wild prairie animals in a desolate wasteland,  huddled like frightened beasts timid of any luxurious greatness.”    He quickly glared at the faces peering from the adjacent archway.  “Your women wear simple adornments  of savages and your men attack us with nothing but burning torches!  Your vocabulary is nothing but gibberish.  You have substituted ‘evil’ for ‘live’ and ‘dog’ for ‘god.’  I’ve had enough of your ‘riddles’!”

“Then understand this, you Son of the Dragon, your civilization will die – will be utterly destroyed shortly – the One and only True God will demonstrate His universal greatness!  Your livelihoods and bounty will be ravished!   Your women  and children will seek unrequited safety in the wastelands!   The whole face of your civilization will be smeared over like molten tar!   And our people will have no hand in your demise other than our God will be the one to wrought this.  It is written:  ‘“And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid to waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord!’”’ 

Martin was wondering how the promised destruction of their god was any different than the Dulmen destruction this tribe was forecasting, but he kept the thoughts to himself.

“Yes, this little band of people,” continued John Alexandrius,  “for all your pomp: all your garrisons, military, weaponry will be utterly helpless.  His Greatness will be magnified by your rebellion.  It has been long in waiting; it will be great in its Coming!’

Martin churned his fist over his sword handle, waving his head from side to side in exasperation.  Martin queried to himself:  Why did not the mighty Brain speak out now; indeed, it had been suspiciously silent in finding words or actions.  Martin did take notice, as well,  that the Brain’s ‘jerking’ of his head had ceased for some time now.  Frustrated, he threw his golden helmet from his head to the ground.  “Blast you old man!  I’ll kill you I swear!”  Martin strode down the dirt and rock chamber to the far end of the cavern and pointed up at the shelves of book.  “What book?  What book ‘whence it is written’?”

John Alexandrius could only  look at Martin with growing sad pity; it was still a mystery why this ‘Ascending god’ appeared to them at this time, in this way.

In the quietude of the books on the rock shelves stood numerous titles long forgotten and largely unknown.  The Dialogues of Plato, Jowell, I Led Three Lives, Herbert Philbrick, Critique of Pure Reason, Kant—-and many more, some greatly aged, some barely materialized—-but all miraculously preserved somehow by mysterious measures.  The list of published valium ran on and on.  Some showed signs of great age with a musty smell and a yellow appearance of antiquity; they couldn’t have survived this long if they had not been kept in a  Preservation Vacuum Chamber.

“I’ll tell you of what is written in the laws of Dulmania, my white-haired Patriarch, I’ll tell you that!” boomed Martin.  “It is stated that ‘…whosoever alienates the principal teachings and lessons of the gods and goddesses of Dulmania and willfully conspires to break the union to the government by secret or private meetings or worship to endanger the security of all Dulmania, shall be persecuted swiftly and as mentioned by other articles in the law…’”   Martin smiled at the elderly man.  “And that could begin right now!”

John Alexandrius moved his lips rather dryly as if mustering more strength: “It is written: ‘Mark them which divisions an offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them…’”  Martin’s eyes narrowed into a glare, for Martin considered this semantical battle was almost wrung dry, ‘‘…It is also written: ‘For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through such wantonness…while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption.’” 

Martin had lost all patience, lunging at the library, taking his sword in hand, pressing it turned-on, and wildly slashing it through the books, disintegrating many into vaporous  dust, ‘‘It is written!  It is written!  Where is it written?  Let’s see this book!”

“You out-Herod!”  shouted Alexandrius raising his staff as if to give a defense.  He stood in the white film of disintegration dust  falling about them.

“Please, Father, no!”  shouted one of the female Commune people.  Two men dressed in knee-high kilts of sackcloth and rope belts quickly grabbed the old man, preventing any further disaster.   Arian and Mark Redress drew their disintegrating pistols as a warning of their defense.  The gathering Communities could only stare in anxious anticipation.  Some helped others to their feet. 

Martin no longer wanted to badger these people.  His fascination now centered on this mysterious book and many of the esoteric sayings.  Everything that this tribe of people stood for had been a rude shock to his sense of reality.  He felt weary and somewhat tired.  He released his tight grip on his sword handle, hearing it clump to the bottom of his sheath.  He spoke to the old man who now was in prayer or deep thought.

“Would you show me this book ‘whence it is written?’’’ pleadingly asked Martin.   John Alexandrius sensed the man’s change of attitude and lifted his head in small increments to stare at Martin in surprise.

“Yes, but you must send you’re the rest of your fleet back along with their crews, or I promise you,  you will not see that book!  You have no choice!”  

Martin thought the ultimatum over, he bit on his lower lip in frustration.

“Alright, But I must see this book!!”

“No, Martin, don’t be a fool,”  shouted Uncle Redress, “your whole future is at stake, don’t you see? You are able to receive the gift of immorality!”

Martin just looked at his uncle blandly.  His uncle could see that Martin had not been moved by his uncle’s comments.  Mark Redress made a few emphatic steps towards Martin, “Martin, Dulmania is at stake!  You’re ushering a New Age, man, don’t go blind over a worthless bit of prehistoric parchment!”

“What possible interest could you have in a compilation of paper?’’ quizzed Arian swiftly, “ surely your Thought  Inference Records would be much more useful  just by its eloquence?”   Arian patiently waited on Martin’s reply.

Martin pensively examined his crew and the cavern people.   After a moment of silence, Martin pressed a button on his belt—a slight crackle went out.

“Patrol Ship  No. 1!”  Martin called out. “This is Martin Salisbury!  This is an order:  All Patrol Crafts are to return immediately  to Home Base!  Understood?  Immediately!”

“Anything wrong, sire?”

“No.  Have all patrol crafts return at once!  This my personal command!   That is all.”

Uncle Redress shook his head in disbelief.  Arian gave a sigh of despair and folded his arms across his chest in a sign of disappointment.   Arian stood mute in the glow of the leaping flames of the center gridwork, recalling soothing childhood memories of his revolving room he spent time in as a youngster, his tension release mechanism; but he also noticed that ‘he’ did not have the formidable body ‘jerks’ utilized by the Central Computer for some time now.

Martin appeared to be pleased  with his decision.   A curious calmness came over his person.  Casually Martin walked over to where his tossed helmet  in the dirt, staring at it momentarily as if to decide about his next action.  Then he placed it under his arm.

“Uncle, I wish you to back to the Patrol Craft with the rest of the men,’’ Martin sensed a potential rebuff,  “No, I want you to go!  That is an order!  Remain in the ship until further notice.”

His uncle tilted his head to one side in disgust and forged his way into the crowd of soldiers, policemen and crew outside of the first ‘arch opening.’  The order Martin gave could vaguely be heard repeated by his uncle to Martin’s men.  And then they turned about and vanished taking the artificial floating canopy of light with them. 

‘‘Arian, my friend, remain with me.  I want someone other than myself to attest to these facts,” then struck by a sudden thought, Martin turned to the Commune patriarch  for assurance, ‘‘Is that alright, Lord of the Commune?  I would not want it any other way.”

John Alexandrius slowly nodded, “Believe me, it is not up to you to decide, but it will be permitted.  But you must promise that no word of your finding this Commune will be sent back to your headquarters.  You must promise!”

In Martin’s new and unusual demeanor, Martin nodded in agreement, ‘‘This whole affair is within purview of the Big Sire, you realize that!”  It struck Martin that the Mighty Mind, the Brain, had been silent throughout this whole episode.

“Our God has protected us,’’  said John, “the Arch Murderer has been our enemy from the beginning.  However, why was it not that you detected us earlier?”  There was a twinkle of humor and  irony coming from beneath the heavy eyebrows and the forest of a mustache and beard.  Martin, on the other hand,  only looked expressionless, perhaps realizing the implications of which the Commune patriarch spoke.

Martin nodded for the Commune leader to carry out his promise.  Martin and Arian stepped closely behind John Alexandrius as Commune members stepped aside allowing the small procession to continue amidst the low, excited murmurs of the tribe.  They traveled further down the tunnel being filled by tribespeople and they could see that ahead was a well-lit room. (Martin had become fascinated by these tribespeople:   Human by every outward appearance, yet alien in their mannerism and attitudes; having both pity and fear; standing in direct conflict with Dulmania).  The exit of the cavern was an oblong cavity with torches in many cracks and cavities.  Stalagmites and stalactites seemed to be objects till suddenly the room was ablaze with hundreds of slender candles as a pyramid shape.  Center of that  soft brilliance was a dark form that could have been a human body suspended in the middle of some contrivance.

After a few seconds Martin could see more clearly:  This appeared to be an image of a man, suspended with both hands high over his head, clasped together by nails or spikes through his wrists into a beam,  and with what appeared to be blood running down his arm and seen on various parts of his body.  His feet were nailed in the same way on a wedge and oozed more blood.  A towel-like toga barely covered his pelvic area.  His rib cage protruded, for his obviously was famished.  The image’s head was slumped to one side; his hair was lengthy and matted, held in place by what appeared to be a crown of some plant.  Blood leaked from various wounds about his body.  He appeared to be totally exhausted and either dead or near-death.

Martin was not totally unfamiliar with crucifixion for he had seen it often in the Arena, but this statuesque scenery had a different quality behind it.  It was, however, out-of-sorts with his conception of the Commune people.

“What is this all about?”  asked Martin pitifully surprised by the sight.  “’Why does this man hang like this? For what crime is he being punished?  What has he done?”   Martin was beginning to ramble, “Why did you do this to him?”  Arian just held his gaze on this bizarre spectacle.

John Alexandrius turned to look at the Dulmen; John had the look of a prophesier.  He was looking for words to describe the event to the obdurate Dulmen aristocrat.

“It is not real, my son.  What you are seeing before you is a statue.  A very real statue, yes, an unsurpassed work of art, I must grant to your astute senses, but only a manmade creation.’’  The words reverberated somewhat in the hallow underground cavity.  “We worship no idol; it is forbidden to worship mere images; true art appreciation is another situation.  What it represents is very real and greater sense.  He lives today – He lives now!  What happened to him is a story on a long continuum that has bespoken to the ages.”

“He looks dead!  Was he rescued or pardoned?”   Martin glanced back and forth from John Alexandrius’s face to the beautifully bewildering sight before him.

“No, no, young man,” said Alexandrius, “I suppose he never could really  die. You see, his Father saved him for His predestined purpose, aside from his righteousness character and total faith.  He was totally unlike any human that ever lived.  He committed no crime; took no lives; murdered no one; He spoke no guile; He…”

“Then why  was he killed?  Who killed him anyway?”

“The official government!”

“Then he must have committed a crime.  Probably he was a traitor!  That is not that unusual, you know.  I’ve had some study on this subject.   I assure you:  government has become such a science that no crime could go undetected.’’   Martin spoke with a certain pride in his voice.

“Oh, but you see, the greatest crimes were committed by the self-righteous hypocrisy of His friends and the community.  One of His specially chosen followers, a disciple, betrayed Him for a handful of money.   Another lied and denied ever knowing Him when He needed his support the most.  Some fled away when He was arrested.   A Judge could not decide to follow his own conscience…’’

“Conscience?”  Martin broke in for the word was so unusual and bewildering.  Martin felt that he was starting to learn a whole new vocabulary. 

John Alexandrius continued:  ‘“Conscience.’   He decided to leave his fate up to a mob of the community which released a hardened criminal to go free in his place as an act of appeasing the people,”  Martin was visualizing some of the court proceedings that he had witnessed,  “and then he had the gull to admit that he could see no evil in the man and he washed his hands as a symbol of avoidance of the affair.”   John Alexandrius looked profoundly at the statue.  “You cannot see them from here, but the back of the Man is slashed red with blood and raw flesh from the whip-thongs of the soldiers who beat Him!  They hit Him!  They spat upon Him!   They jeered and called him names!’’   John looked seriously into Martin’s eyes.  “The official church of that community turned against Him!”

“You mean that the ‘gods forsook him?’” 

“You know what it is like to have one of your alleged gods forsake you?”  asked Alexandrius.   “Then you must know what it was like for His Father to have seemingly forsake Him.   He called out a plea to that effect just before His death.’’

“Yes, I suppose I’ll never know that—I’ve never seen my father.”  Martin was being startlingly candid.

“There is much you won’t be able to bare right now, but very few in Dulmania have real fathers.”

“My father was Misslou the Great, an officiate of the Imperial Army!” 

“Could you bare the truth of your origin?”  asked John Alexandrius.  Martin nodded, no longer sure of what to expect.

“As far as we can tell, your real father was a political scientist in the halls of Dulmania learning.  He was executed when he advocated a system of  ‘family living’ which rubbed the grain of the hierarchy-aristocracy and common people alike:  that of a more stable system of having one husband for one wife.  He swore that a venomous poison had spread throughout the so-called civilized world and that mankind was devouring itself by catering to its own ‘lusts.’  A stable monogamous family was the solution.”

“That’s not so!”  protested Martin.  “How can you charge such a thing?  You make me out a common citizen!”

“His name was Cornelius Airheart and…”   The elderly man was interrupted by the shrill voice of the Dulmen graduate.

“No!  No!  No!  Professor Airheart was a traitor!”  protested Martin.

“He was your true father, the only father you ever had.  Quite against convention he fell in love with a maiden who was an official liaison to the Aerion Palaces.  He wanted to offer her more than was allotted to her in your despicable society. He offered her a monogamous  marriage!”

“No!  This can’t be!  A traitor, yes!  But not my father!”

“A child was born in hopes it would hasten that possibility.  Instead, the philosophy of one Johnathan Airheart was condemned as age-old heresy.   After his execution, a pseudo-legend was propagated: One General Misslou de Gallius, a great war hero, had died and had gained immorality as a god.  He had a son by their mystical union with Madelyn Shaw-Salisbury who is well on her way to gaining a place with the god himself – through the lustful caterings to the officiates  who visit the Palace.” (In Dulmania it was common for the child to take on the names or last name  of the mother if the union was of alleged mystical origin.)

“What distortion of the truth!”  bellowed Martin.

“It is the truth,’’ casually remarked the old man, “and your father came close to teaching  what that crucified man on that deathbed also espoused for he saw monogamous marriage as a means of stability and much more!” 

Martin’s eyes suddenly became a bulbous reservoir of tears.  Martin’s hands were shaking  as he pointed a finger in abeyance  at the statue, “Who…who…is he?  What …wh…what was his name?”

The history told in the last few minutes was taking a toll on Arian in its discourse on Madelyn Shaw-Salisbury.  Arian recalled the many sensuous visits to the beds of the Palace where Mistress Nymphia – the late love of Professor Airheart – held a lot of his passing hours.   It also began to dawn on him how much older he was than Martin Salisbury.   The truth had jolted him to his core as he began to see the puzzle-pieces join so momentously and inconceivably!

“He is the Christos, prophesied through the ages, Christ, Immanuel!”  proudly proclaimed the Commune superior.  The candle pyramid highlighted the old man’s grand  sculptured face.  Together the two humans ponderingly gazed upon the statue.

“It is written: ‘And behold , thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.  He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father, David: and He shall reign over the House of Jacob forever; and of his Kingdom there shall be no end.’”

John Alexandrius pointed to a ’pyx’ at the base of the statue: A small transparent item with a generative apparatus to one side giving a slight purr.   John motioned that Martin should approach the apparatus along with him.  Together they stepped near the mechanism to look upon a large yellowed-brown book, much like those he had obliterated on the shelves outside of this Holy place.  It was in fact a ‘vacuum chamber’  with a circulation system leading to the  ‘pump.’  By turning dials on the front of the pyx, mechanical wires, threads, and tentacles would tenderly turn and lift the pages of the book.  Martin was led to believe there were several such scared books stored in a special vacuum system deep in the cavern.

“What you see before you is the pyx of the Scriptures.  It is a sole surviving copy of several  sacred  and original texts.  Their existence and reality  has long been denied and mention of them was even hidden, even before Dulmania arose it menacing continence.”

‘‘What is ‘scripture’?”  asked Martin as he fought the gnawing pain in his stomach.

“The sole records of the history of the Heavenly Father telling of the times and death of His Son, the inauguration of his Commune and the Prophecy of its future,”  John Alexandrius spoke naturally about the Books as if their existence was common knowledge to Martin as it was to Alexandrius’s beloved followers.

Perhaps such behavior would have seemed impetuous several thousand years before when the title ‘Christos’ was a household word, but to the Dulmen aristocrat — indeed an Ascending god — his great ‘conspiracy’ was being dissolved and demolished before his very eyes!  Martin began to cry, then sobbed visibly, choking and whimpering, no longer a replica of a god.

“Who…is…this…heavenly father?”

‘‘Perhaps, my son, he is the only Father you have right now!”  The stone-stare of the elderly man narrowed onto the Dulman, “And he is the only Father  that truly loves you.”

“Then why did he leave his son to die such a torturous death?”

“Earlier, much earlier, mankind out of their own vain lust, rebelled against their Originator, unable to remain within the righteous and perfect guidelines of that Guiding Manifestation, mankind would have been resigned to eons of brute, carnal — sometimes perverted existence  —  if it were not for the perfect sacrifice of His very own Son Who performed that which any natural man could not !”

John Alexandrius looked upon Martin compassionately as tears rolled down his cheeks. Martin’s lips quivered in fear.  Alexandrius continued:  “His Son was resurrected from the dead right after His burial — gloriously and triumphantly!”

“Lived, not died?”

“He lives now near His Heavenly Father – and within the hearts and  minds of his followers.’’

“What would I do to be included in these miracles?”  asked Martin, still exhibiting some smidgen of doubt.

Alexandrius  jabbed the staff  in his tight grip into the dirt:  “You must begin by turning your back on every evil, nefarious thing that your society that your world and your government exists on!  Turn yourself over to a new way of life!  You must turn your back to the evil lusts of your mind!  Right now, people of this planet are killing, maiming, murdering each other, and even in the name of righteousness, and many are literally tearing each other limb from limb, in military combat, but also in the consumption of flesh in mindless orgies!”

A single figure  emerged from the shadows of the back of the cavern; Christine said: “You must right the wrong you have done!  First you must change!”

Martin was still gazing into the friendly glow of the transparent pyx, despite his blurred vision and tears, Martin tried to make out the strange language and writing.   So, this is one of the books “whence it is written,” thought Martin.   Arian stood with bowed head in deep thought.  Christine went to her father and comforted him by her own warm hand.

“What’s wrong, my dear?”  Alexandrius asked, fearful of the girl coming so close to the confrontation.  Martin studied her with just as much curiosity. 

“Father,”  she finally spoke in broken and  faltering Dulmen dialect, ‘‘father, does he know anything about my husband?”   She covered her face to halt sobbing.  The mutilated bodies that Martin recalled in the Arena in just the past day was thrust into Martin’s recollection.   Martin shook his head in disgust.  ‘‘Can you describe him?”  Martin asked.  Martin glanced downward in apprehension.

“Fair.  Blonde.  Dark blue eyes,”  the girl momentarily stopped to swallow and stood still for a few seconds.  “…a young adolescent boy, handsome…’’

“He is dead,”  Martin coldly remarked.  Christine visualized some executioner’s axe falling on the victim’s neck.  Martin stood there and watched the girl tumble against the old man’s chest as he cuddled her and she wept in remorse and anguish.  John’s face also turned from a rosy complexion to a very light  pale pink:  he glared at the Dulman in utter hate.  The crowd of Commune members were also visibly upset. Echoes of dismay, protest and many female sobs could be heard down through the cavern.

Some member grabbed a torch from the wall and proclaimed a threat to avenge the death of the young missionary lad.   Commune members  protested against any further violence, and the member was restrained.  Coincidentally, the smell of bayberry and thistle intermingled with frankincense incense carried through the sacred spot oddly signaling an interlude to gain control.  After an undetermined period of silence, John Alexandrius finally spoke:

“It is written; ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil  against you…’”

“Please do not quote the book,’’  begged Martin.  Martin began to feel a growing element of confusion, yet anger.

‘“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you’” 

“Don’t!  Quote!  The!  Book!’’  demanded Martin waving a clenched fist at the elderly leader.

‘“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.’’’

“Accursed be your foul book!  Accursed!’   Martin threw his golden helmet back amidst the padded cushions at the base of the statue where the choir sat and sang.  The helmet runed over and over and rolled up to the feet of Arian.  ‘‘Accursed  be your savior!”

Martin looked up at the statue and with his out-stretched fingers as to hide the image.  Patriarch Alexandrius softly kissed his daughter-in-law on the cheek, huddled her close to his side, and began to lead her in the direction away from the  statue.  “Come dear, come.” said  the elderly man in their strange language.  Immediately the chorus of voices that Martin heard earlier upon his patrol’s arrival began once again to sing with vibrant courage as the choir marched for more distant and safe places.

John Alexandrius looked at the solemn and worried face of Arian and offered his hand and gesturing that Arian should follow.  Arian hesitated  for a look at Martin but gave a deep sigh and then quickly joined the throng of carolers and Commune spectators.  Martin stood alone in the solitude of the Holy Place. 

“I’ve jested and joked and blasphemed at that which was sacred to you, oh crucified man—for why and what now, it is no longer clear to me,”  Martin continued his oration, and he was becoming increasingly aware that he was void of the classical ‘jerk’ of the Big Sire, the Brian.

“What you speak of as ‘holy,’ such as this special cavern, were meagre playthings for most Dulmen soldiers.”   Martin stopped to slam his fist into the other hand.  “Blast you!  I cannot think!  Your desolate  crucified man hanging there chides me!  His slumped head berates my mind!  Your haunting old book of ‘scriptures’  scolds my Dulmania prestige!”  Martin clasped his hands to his temples and shouted:  “I cannot think!  I cannot think!”

Martin heaved several gasps to ward off sobs.  He remained silent for a few minutes.  From somewhere in the bowels of the caverns could be heard the haunting trickling of cool underground spring water that echoed through the ancient subterranean world.

Martin lunged forward and with spread fingers he tied to cover the illuminance from within the transparent pyx. In his scrambled thoughts, now mysteriously void of the control of the Brain,  questions came rapidly into the matrix of his mind.  Why should I give up the power and glory of Dulmania to live in caverns in animal skins?  Respect for life, they speak of killing as a crime.  They speak of freedom, yet they live as impounded sheep.  They ‘box’ this together under one god and one marriage?  They say that freedom is not free.

Martin visualized the history of the riotous and frenzied crowds in the Arena.  The screaming face of one Mary Longram in the Temple of Dreams.  The cold electrodes of the ‘Hub’ programming being placed upon his skull.  Thought eradication.  And himself as a small boy running to the side of someone that he just could not now identify.   

Martin glared hatefully at the statue of the crucified man.   He raised the sword above his head to bring it with great force and full fury upon the purring pyx and its scriptures.  Suddenly and in shock, he found himself weightless and the scene about him turned into a vortex of blurring black and white tossing his body against the sharp edges of rock.   When he gained some sort of equilibrium of his senses, he was again stunned to find his sword embedded at the other end of the cavern – into solid stone!

But much more frightening:  he could swear that the head of the crucified man, if only for a moment, turned erect to match the stare of the Dulmen demigod

**********

Chapter Seventeen

Crescendo

The Portal Screen was announcing certain persons that cogently struck Elia:  “…officiate gods Arian Yul, Mark Reddress, Mylar City resident……”  The words boomed in his ears from the orator’s narration.  Elia stopped to listen;  what an informative surprise; so, his brother was very much alive and active.

“Perhaps they would meet on these matters so intrinsically important.”

Chapter Fourteen, The Search

***

Elia had grabbed at the shambles of a wall and fence, fighting away from the grips of the maddened citizens clawing at his flesh.

“They’ve got my tail,” grimaced Elia in in pain,  “release my tail!”

Oh, how they hated what Elia said:  It brought fear to some and hurt the arrogant pride of others.  The crowds hooting and hollering made Elia even more determined to free himself.  Kathern!  His thoughts suddenly were filled with her remembrance.  Did she grasp his last message, and would she try to find her way to the Rugby Craft  and wait for him?  Or was she now quickly making her way to the golden doors of the Siberian Caesar to denounce her own husband as a traitor?  Which?   And was there any real escape from the serpentine eyes of the Big Sire?

He gave a shove with this foot forcing his assailants to slide down the steeply collapsed rubble as he jumped to the top of the pile.  Elia stood still for a moment, frozen, immobile, his tail swishing nervously back and forth, stooped as if to spring into a high leap, his viewing of the citizens fanatically scampering to their feet, and then up the incline in pursuit once gain.

Elia, however, disappeared in lightening fashion over the earthquake strewn rubble and down into the cold night and city below him to continue his prophetic mission.

**********

The Winter months had been severe in that part of Dulmania; long and strenuous blizzards and snow falls that went on  for months leaving a blinding white  blanket over all visible terrain and superstructures.  

But springtime had now come and it was an elaborately  beautiful one.  Perhaps it was trying to compensate for the pricks and pains of the preceding year.  Here and there,  vines of plants  and freshly sprouting grass was attempting to grow on the lips and upper walls of deep crannies and gullies that were produced by the sudden and frightening earthquakes and tremors that had gripped the globe in  darkening fashion.

It was a terrible sight in many places. Several Bubble Cities, Methorphoria for example, had been split asunder by the rippling of the Earth’s crust, aghast, looking like the shell of a cracked egg that was discarded on the ground.   Many subterranean cities were destroyed; level upon level sinking downward upon each other with the shrieks of millions of men, women, and children!  It happened instantaneously,  dramatically, malevolently overnight.  Huge clouds of dust and debris ascending even above the crust.  Then came the secondary collapses with their thundering echoes over the Earth that continued to cause shudders in many that remained alive. 

Wild Bors  and various laboratory mutations had been inadvertently released from their captivities and now roamed the countryside devouring and destroying the garbage heap of mankind; terror stalked the planet.  Famine now became the present problem, and even the utilization of  synthetic inventions became a gross problem for the first time in eons.   Most of Dulmen extraordinary projects were suffocated in their tracks by the chaos!  Their ‘science’ became useless!

Like a mother bear, weak and out of breath from fighting foes against her cubs, Mother Earth stretched her aching and torn muscles and gave a whimpering sigh before she reclined back into her rubble for a suspicious nap.  But for how long?   And when the worst of winters came — and evenings held an icy star-studded sky  over half-orbs of a few remaining destroyed but barely operable Bubble Cities —  the only witnesses were the weak and famished citizens of Outer City homes and scarcely alive families.   Most saw the planet as granulated!

But for how long would such suspicious quiet  last?

And what would be the inventive explanation of official Dulmenia and its Brain conjure up—if, indeed, it could be said that these still existed at all?   There was a myth that had started in the wisp of gossip to the effect that a god, Zerionus,  would help the remnants of mankind search their conscience for a solution, for fear that the mysterious God would release Its Wrath once again. 

**********

On the outskirts of what once was Mylar City strolled a bearded man.   His sleek shinning hair denoted much care; an emblem of a dove descending upon a fish was clearly represented on his robe.  In the cusp of his hand was a booklet, rather small, but new and bound in leather.  In keeping with the warmer weather, his feet were sandaled. As he walked along, he viewed the multicolored fields and hills that also included the tragically disheveled devastation where, now,  miraculous sprouts of wild petunias, marigolds, zinnias, tulips, and lilies represented spring-time’s natural landscape had begun to forge again.  

When the man reached a dislodged boulder that on side allowed a ‘table’ or platform, he cleared his throat  and waited as the crowd began to gather.    The sweet fragrance of spring rose into his nostrils.  It seemed to give him courage.   He placed his book upon a rotten tree limb whose branches made a unique podium at stomach level.  He smiled now and then at the gossiping people as they gathered.

Now and then, someone asked  him as to the purpose of the event, he would bend low to speak to them and explain that he had an important message he will give.   Some would rush away to tell more family and friends.   Wonderment as to the mystery man’s purpose began to draw more people.   Was it a message from the gods?   Was ‘he’ a god?   Soon a voice rose from the crowd in protest:

“Come on, let’s hear what you have to say,” demanded a grizzly-faced man raising a fist into the air in protest.  A sizeable portion of the crowd chimed in with agreement; a composite of what remained of  Dulmania— the torn and tattered clothing, the broken and mended human limbs of those who miraculous survived the underground and worldwide havoc, the barely fed citizens of the Outer Cities, some trying to show emblems of their survivability with best stolen jewelry and linen.   Intertwined, were some suspicious maggoty and strained-faced officials and members of aristocracy. 

Finally:  “Citizens of Dulmania!  How many of you would turn aside from me, the one who tell you why your world has been so suddenly catastrophic?  How many?  Yet, I also will tell you that many ‘will be’ that foolish!” They all focused their attention on the man who occasionally swayed side to side; in the distance could be seen more people coming to investigate.   “You would be that foolish because you have been blinded, your vision has been spurned from your faces; no, not your literal sight, though has been more than tapered with in the on-going destruction, but I am referring not to your faces, but your mind’s eye.  Your heart cannot speak because of your lack of knowledge,”  he lifted his opened book into the air, “here is that knowledge!  Here is that Truth!”

The multitude began to murmur homogeneously.

“You have heard, no doubt by your propagandists,” continued the mystery-man, “that the goddess Vera, or the goddess Sherall, the god Marxz, or the god Zeronius cursed you,”  he stopped to point a finger directly at the crowd, “you have cursed you!”   A recondite smile arose and then vanish from his face.

It is written: ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness blasphemies!’    I say  that your Vera, your Sherall, Marxz and Zeronius are but inventions of your own diabolical minds, ushered through by the biggest imp – Satan – otherwise known as a diablerie of  electromagnetic forces and collection of memory banks, pulsating circuits neutronic mumbo-jumbo!   You have captivated ‘thoughts’ into ‘stones!’  You have harnessed power and energy into small atomic nooks!   A person’s whole ‘personality’ can be written virtually upon the face of a few atoms and they can be forced to live a phlegm-like immorality; should a circuit be broken, an ‘energy-pack’ disturbed, a radio wave not transmitted from anode to anode of that monstrous computer, your makeshift heaven ceases to exist!”

The man wiped the sweat from his brow, and he could see that the crowd was becoming intently curious.  Groups of adolescent children and their parents, some nude and painted in various psychedelic and opalescent colors as decorate ‘body painting,’ forced their way to the front to hear the mysterious speaker.   Their body-paints were overlaid with the dirt of the recent tragedies and hung on the skeletons of famished bodies.

‘‘‘Versed in nothing but morbid questioning and controversies, out of which is coming envy, strife, calamities, wicked suspicions, altercations of men of a decadent mind and derived of the truth, inferring that devoutness is capital,’”  he was again quoting his book, but he now continued in his own words,  “…the god of this world is the only real ruler, the Trickster, and his demons are one vast organization!  I say that he is the one that you unbeknownst worship!  For he has substituted ‘life’ for ‘evil’—Hellenism disguised as philanthropy; death for life; hate for love; licentiousness and lawlessness for true brotherhood; his inventions are varied and inconceivably reminiscent but fluidly ‘evil!’’’

The somewhat youthful face placed emphasis on the word ‘evil.’  Evil had been turned in a reverse-pattern that meant anything that Dulmenia said was against that empire and out of their control.  That logic had enabled whole races to be exterminated.   It was allowed prelates and officials a greater insanity of ‘hero worship,’ an obnoxious horror that was shared in their blood.  The man spoke of ‘thundering steeds’ rolling cross the skies that will bring even more worldwide destruction.  The mysterious prophet said that there was a better way and that was entreating them to war against their innate lusts of the body, and to pray to a true Heavenly Father who would aid them in their fight.

One man pushed his way to the forefront, raising his hand as a signal to speak:

“Prophet, what do you suggest to one who owns you completely, even as not yourself? I am part Dulmania, truly a part…”  he ripped open his coat in a fury, and the yanked a panel in his chest revealing the neatly packed glowing electronic coils that went into making his artificial inners—small scintillating lights blinking off and on in systematic, synchronistic rhythm aided by a soft purr of a miniature atomic generator.  ‘‘…sixty organs are built like this, for it was either have this done to me or to be created again as an early immorality with the gods, a tape and film existence in the electronic records of the ‘Big Sire!’’’

The prophet only shook his head; it was true; only all too true—what had been so commonplace to him at one time was now a pretentious shock.   He quoted his book again:

‘“Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Great Spirit?  We are confounded because we have heard reproach; shame hath covered our faces; for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house.’’’

“All in time,” spoke the prophet to the robotic man, “your Heavenly Father will  restore you All in All.”

A  beggarly and disheveled man forced his way to the front of the crowd and swiftly pointed a cruel finger at the prophet:  “I recognize you!   Aren’t you—yes, you are—the son of Misslou!  I recognize you now!”   The man turned to address the crowd with quick gestures of his hands.  “Don’t you recognize him?   He, whose face was so callously forced into our memories only a few months ago.  The ‘Ascending god!’”    The citizen took a cold and hard look at Martin.  “The one who was to have fought and defeated the Conspirators in a ground battle!  This is he!”

A low growl and convoluted murmurs went up from the crowd of Dulmen citizens.   A slight anger built up within him, enough to sting his nostrils:  It need not matter what his past had been;  he was facing a much better future.

“Yes!  Yes! You are correct!  But I have chosen the name of another,’’  Martin’s face was flush for this was the first time he was visibly shaken, “Urijah!  Urijah the prophet ‘who prophesied against the land according to all the words of Jeremiah!’’’

Henceforth, the name ‘Martin Salisbury’ was nonexistent just as the putrescence-like unreality of his past.   But who did any of the citizens think they were fooling, blind sheep to the slaughter?

“ ‘And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies, but they are not valiant for the truth upon the Earth: for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord!’’’

Martin- Urijah, grabbed small hemp bag tied to his rope-belt and jerked it off his waist.  Glaring at the crowd, he spilled its contents into his moist palm and clenched it tightly. A dark batch of vapor-like whirlwind dredged up into the air the gray clay of the plains.  This whirlwind, however, had a strange sound denoting that it was animate and artificial.  Without warning, and to the far right of the crowd  three swirls appeared forcing three separate clearings; the whirlwinds glowed with weak blue-white ionizations as a solid shadow formed within as three jostling Mus-chutes—official police of the Royal Imperial Court—emerged out of a materialization device; they could have come from the direct command of Martin’s uncle (many Mus-chutes resided deep within the lobby chambers of the vast computer and the atomic power plants of the Big Sire beneath Mylar).

Martin was observing all this activity taking place about him as bystanders pointed to the Bubble City  about a mile away.  Distant observers began to fidget as they observed a florid glow which many underground citizens of Feline would have readily recognized. The creeping Mus-chutes should have convinced Martin that his soliloquy was about to be cut short.

(Martin had done much study of ‘lost history’ in his discovery of the many manuscripts of the Commune; slowly Martin-Urijah became more and more sane.   A certain anger came and went as he studied, but the warm hand of the Commune children into his hand dissolved any  constant fear.  Small children found in Martin an ideal companion to frolic and play ‘hide and seek’ in the early spring months.  He had, also,  learned of the worldwide network of prophets—– names such as Tamar, Sansabar, Theodore, Elia, Jefferson, Townsend, others—-and there always was his beloved, Christine.)

Having no fear of the visiting Mus-chutes, Martin continued in his rapidly  produced lecture: Prophets hid in the Tibetan mountains of the Himalayas, worldly governments started to ‘invent’ miraculous tales to cause fear within the remaining populace of the Earth, the visitor and ‘Father’  from outer space, The Sun, Wandering Spirit, the announcement that Dulmania actually was the outcome of twelve successive authoritarian governments in the previous eons (all of which faltered and shared the same degeneracies).   The sciences of Mind Control and Propagandism progressed and became perfected in the Dulmania’s  Big Sire.  This was the problem that Martin-Urijah faced:  Compacting as much history to the ignorant populace in as short of time as was humanly possible before his capture and possible death! 

The rear wall of the crowd developed into a terrified frenzy as most  were aware of the Feline-City-type manifestation encroaching upon them.  Many were running towards the surrounding mounds and hills, only to be captured by the bestial manifestation about a mile from the spot the prophet was situated.   A soft rumble could be felt beneath their feet.  The lion-like face of the blob of energy let out a high-pitch growl as it advanced and grew; Martin remained steadfast in his sermon:

‘“The fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground!’’’

The onslaught began that very day around the globe!  In Tamar’s vicinity large starving hordes had massacred an army of people in a blitzkrieg for survival.  Their efforts were quickly wiped out by earth renting cracks and topsy-turvy fissures in the crust of the earth.  Several cities vanished within seconds.  The huge, towering statue of the War God Maryx had cracked instantaneously into thousands of fine lines, and then with a low painful rumble, shifted  and fell into itself as a smoldering and cascading avalanche of stone, metal and pieces of rubble.

‘“I will fill his mountains with his slain men; in thy hills, and in valleys, and in all they rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword.  I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return, and ye shall know that I am the Lord!’”

In John ‘Red’ Townstead’s Veron de Sheol, the prosperous and luxurious underwater city that traveled as a beautiful gem from aquarium port to aquarium port, its beauty and serenity was torn asunder by hurricanes and monstruous mystery  waves of inclement wrath.

‘Red’ Townstead was stubborn in  his prognostication of impending boom, as he left within an hour of the destruction of Veron de Sheol to the surface in an aqua ferry; only to learn of five other underwater complexes that were swashed in a maze of girders, plastics, debris that became swirling masses rocking to and fro in the turbulent waters!

‘“ I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until He came whose right it is and I will give it to him!’”

**********

Elia vividly recalled the first few hours of the blizzard.  He had been hiding in the local park, a beautifully decorated recreation area near the Imperial Bubble City nearby and he could see the first few flakes pass over the soft blue-white glow of the floating aerial globes throughout the park. 

Soon, a velvety blanket of white lay over the landscape, delicately balanced on the tops of pine branches and the boughs of oaks.   The statue of a once-famous Dulmen General, arched backwards upon the rearing stallion, had withstood the year round brutal cold.  Quickly, the snow crystallized into frightening proportions of a whiteout.  Not only was food a complete deficit in the economic-political confusion  caused by the intrepid amount of meteorological flightiness, but lawlessness and anarchy stole across the blizzard-stricken domain forcing some into the few underground hideaways in those areas.   Within minutes, these became  their sealed ‘tombs’ that irreversibly cut their dubious and tenuous lifegiving umbilical cords.

In the silence that sometimes accompanies tumultuous blizzards with its blinding white snow-blanketed terrain, Elia wept—-hard and deeply till Elia’s chest ached and his limbs were in pain.  The End was near and part of his life was tied with some of the rebellious breather buried beneath that cruel white crust.

(What was once South America in eons past, had come to be called Dano in the Dulmen international tongue—-meaning  dynamic; atomic; negative; operation.  Within its equatorial climate all that one normally could anticipate were hordes of nasty mosquitos and the savage vegetation, but the citizens of  Katri  were the meagre few that had still the semblance of abiding in what remained of a ‘god City,’ Bubble Complex.   Then came the awful and blistering hot that seemed to rain down from above—and  belch up from below—sprouting pits of volcanic openings in surprising places, spewing golden-red lava, and bellowing white steam.

(Within one hour, the jungle was a vast carpet of suffocating flame, huge, towering columns of smoke that choked the breath of life of all remaining creatures.  It was only a matter of minutes before the unbearable magma pounded against the Bubble City until the metropolis  succumbed to the twofold pressure of earth tremors and streams of lava.

(‘‘‘Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured upon this place, upon man, and upon beasts, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched!’” )

Thus, Rob Jefferson gazed in pretentious discernment upon his home vicinity from his Water Scout  projectile as it sped down the Amazon River.  Jefferson’s apocalypse was one of earnest and dangerous appeal, but he found an indifferent and savagely protective audience causing a thin escape with his life from the irascible officials.

And so, it was for the encrusted Christos Prophets around the globe—-all increasingly becoming aware of their time for ‘departure.’

**********

The scowling of Old Nick  who was a “murderer from the beginning,” pruriently flaunting himself behind the back of Urijah, with Nick’s lion-like growl and a grinding, agonizing ‘purr’ that would cause any audience to fall to their knees and hold their hands over their eyes to shield themselves from the brilliant light of the swirling vortex of the gaseous and vaporous Monster.   The catlike eyes of “the Prince of this World.”    Assenting were the Hanumen Monsters aroused from their cubicles – their tombs of the undying dead – their hairy atrocious  bodies dancing on spindle legs as if a bug intoxicated with an insecticide.   This showed their realization that their time on Earth was over.

A hot wind mustered up by Old Nick’s anger crawled about Urijah’s back.  The squall caused his hair to bristle and pull at his roots as the wind gradually grew into hurricane proportions.  Urijah took capsules from his belt-pouch and held evaporating Z-BR8 out for anyone to see:

“Behold your god!  And behold its designer!”   Urijah pointed backward to the Satanic adversary.  “We have awakened him from his hiding place  and his brother incubus of electronic memory banks, transformers and atomic generators!  He growls in pain for he knows his time is short!”   Urijah suddenly realized that the Big Sire, a Dragon, may no longer exist considering all the total and utter destruction happening about the globe.   

The ground was shaking mysteriously in the grip of seismic waves.  Huge locusts appeared in swarms: escaped mutations from several destroyed laboratories that ranged about the globe. The pitiful remnant of mankind had no defense against these monsters.

‘“And there came out of the smoke, locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.’”

Urijah allowed the few remaining Z-BR8 capsules to slip away in the wind.   ‘‘And this is your refuge!  You fight with this evil to appease your god!”   The wind pulled at Urijah’s limbs.  Some hair stuck to the corners of his mouth. “Disobedience has led to undeterminable lawlessness so you have hidden yourself in a wilderness of a  makeshift fantasy world!”    

Urijah, still a stalwart man with a rugged bronze appearance, but having lost the look untouched youth, the scent of naivete was no more.   He was a follower of Christos!   A follower of that  magnanimous Kingdom.   A Christos!   In his mind’s eye, Urijah could see the smiling faces of those from the Commune, patiently waiting for him somewhere beyond  all hills, beyond  this time!

Despite the shrieks and cries of terror going on about him in the world being torn apart by invisible hands that rent everything asunder,   Urijah prepared to make a liminal exit.   ‘‘Asteroid Watch” programs disappeared days beforehand when civilization and its watchdog agendas disappeared about the globe totally unaware as humongous celestial rocks collided into the Earth’s crust producing  absolute finality in a red mass that  blocked out the Sun.   That blinding flash ushered in of a new age!

“Oh earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!”

***********

Chapter Eighteen

EPILOGUE

The babe’s ‘special place’  was no more, at least not in a terrestrial sense.  All the trees, scrubs, and hidden artifacts that the child discovered and had become so fond of, no longer existed.  The skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus  that had been undiscovered by human eyes, would never be discovered and seen.   Beautiful roses, golden rod, white poppies, bloodroot  would never be seen again.   The Moon  was a dark red and carried ‘splinters’ of Earth from the demolition of that planet and further decimation by atomic explosions thrown at the satellite by mankind’s last-minute madness they exhibited in their death-Theos and their calamitic ending.   With the annihilation of the Brain, interplanetary Dulmania outposts and bases also dissolved rudimentary connections and vanished from sight.

Uncanny and majestic large white oblongs, like, but not identical to the Dulmen spacecrafts, abruptly began to create a ‘gap,’ some supernatural hole in the stratosphere.  Huge objects quietly flowed out of that ‘vortex’ and filled the hemisphere in procession  and ranks until that whole sky was filled with the purring mysterious bodies, horizon to horizon.

It was the beginning of a new and glorious Epoch and a creation of a neoteric world!

**********

If we only knew what the next thousand years would bring; the next hundred years; the next day; the next hour.

If only the prognosticators of ‘hell fire’ and damnation would be quiet and allow us ‘fun loving’ people assume our toy of science and allow us to “get on with” our playing.

Perhaps all those other anguishing thoughts picking at the back of our minds would also cease: What of those quant and gothic-looking churches that are slowly deteriorating?   Now that God is dead, how is He going to fix those broken glass windows?  How soon will the utopia that our scientists predict finally arrive?   When will the panacea arrive?  Who will answer?

It is a rather fruitless quest, for the  Christos told us not to say, “lo here’’ and “lo there,”  for He was already among them.

Likewise, to ask when our fictional Dulmania will emerge, and will it have a resemblance of this futuristic science-fiction story, is also naïve.  Just a passing glance at news dispatches and current historical events tells us that Dulmania has been  in existence.  It is now!  We are the Dulmen!

In Communist Russia, ‘White Coats’ are the array of the KGB officers who inject aminazin and sulfazin into the bodies of the ‘political unreliable’ and dissidents who are out of step with Russian politics.  Some spend their remaining hours isolated in an asylum for ‘defaming the Soviet state and political system.’

Several years ago, in New York City, the late Reverend Billy Graham declared to a 20,000 audience that ‘‘unless our nation turns to God, we will not be spared by God.”

A government study on Crime in America reported that the “U.S was a violent nation…violence persists in the U.S while diminishing in most other countries…Americans have always been a violent people…’’

The once sparkling jewel of midtown Manhattan, Times Square, has deteriorated to a district of sleazy movie houses, pornographic bookshops, prowling prostitutes, and has received the title of “Slim Square.’’ 

The Louisiana Judiciary Commission recommended that Judge Edward A. Haggerty, Jr., the presiding judge at the Clay L. Shaw assassination conspiracy trial, be removed from office for the willful misconduct…Haggarty was arrested in a raid on a stag party, charged with resisting arrest, solicitation for prostitution and conspiring to commit obscenity.  John Haggarty resided at the trail whence Clay Shaw was found innocent of conspiring to kill the late President John Kennedy. 

It would be superfluous to distil recent crime and murdering statistics and details which would  outstrip the fictional scenes in THE DULMEN for their brutality, sadism, and horror.  If the citizens of the world feel helpless and hoodwinked by terrestrial events, we can only hope and pray that the nihilism engulfing us will soon have a ray of hope to shine brightly through.

Stephen Erdmann

2021

***********

https://www.ancient.eu/Jesus_Christ/

https://ufospotlight.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/the-military-industrial-corporate-complex-matrix-miccm/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/The-Middle-Ages

https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-guest-authors/truth-behind-christ-myth-ancient-origins-often-used-legend-part-i-006130

https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-guest-authors/truth-behind-christ-myth-green-man-and-legend-jesus-part-ii-006132

https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/fearsome-wicker-man-eerie-way-druids-committed-human-sacrifice-005285

https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-religions-opinion-guest-authors/are-nephilim-really-offspring-sons-god-and-daughters

**********

Steve Erdmann – Independent Investigative Journalist

Another version of this article can be seen at https://ufospotlight.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/futuristic-realities/

HUMANS ARE MONSTERS!


Edited by Steve Erdmann

Ugly side of nature

Nature Talk

May 2020

11 / 64

May 2020

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Oct 2020

bobwolski

May ’20

Two quick stories, and an overall point.
I have recently experienced a resurgence of interest in all things Nature. I have been having a lot of fun trying to identify all the trees in my neighborhood and in all the parks I go to. So, the other day I gave myself the task of seeing how many willow trees I could observe along the winding country road near my house. I observed many Carolina and Black Willow trees. Then I came upon one willow that was completely covered over by a climbing vine. It draped over this rather tall tree like a blanket. At first I didn’t even realize there was a tree there, it was so well covered. The tree resorted to sending out a medium size branch with some leaves on it out from under the vine, pitifully trying to reach for some sunlight to keep it alive. That’s one story.
One more quick story. My backyard looks over a nice well-kept pond where a pair of Canadian Geese made their home. Just a couple weeks ago, the female had a gosling, and momma and daddy were showing the cute little thing all around the pond and grazing and walking all around the surrounding grass. I am working from home these days and one afternoon, a couple days ago, I heard the two geese wildly honking and flapping. I quickly looked out back at the pond and caught the very end of a neighborhood dog attack. That dog went right for the little gosling. I didn’t see the actual attack, only the family owners of the dog chasing him off the poor little guy. So, he escaped with his parents. He tried swimming along with his parents but couldn’t make it across the pond. He had to turn back. He was obviously hurt badly. He slowly made his way back to the edge of the pond and after about an hour, right there at the shallow waters edge, he died. It seemed to me his parents were just confused; why wasn’t the little one following, why was he motionless. They kept trying to scare him into action, back to life. After an hour and a half, they finally walked off, and in fact, I haven’t seen them around this pond ever since.
My point in all this is — I went from loving the beautiful things in nature to being depressed and almost confused. The ugly side of nature just threw cold water in my face.
Does anyone have any comments on how we should understand these types of experiences?

zoology123

May ’20

It’s life don’t dwell on it. Horrible things happen all the time it is just life. I for example when i see a drowning insect always save them, or if i see a beetle or something with one or two ants attacking it i save it from the ants. Horrible things are a fact of life. I would continue further but my thoughts probably aren’t what you’re looking for.

trh_blueForum Moderator

May ’20

I’m sorry you had to experience those things. While they are a natural part of the world, it’s still distressing.
For what it’s worth, know that the gosling will go on to feed another animal, or at minimum flies and fungi, and nearby plants.
As for the vines, I like to turn it around and admire the tenacity of the plant and admire how alive they are.
I admit I too am saddened by nature sometimes, though usually when I see an invasive species smothering out native life.

ourmikegeorge

May ’20

Nature is beautiful but it’s not pretty. In the UK an over-sentimental view of nature has led to much destruction of habitats and reduction of biodiversity. Killing ivy which people think is “strangling” trees is one example, and the ivy which would have supported an enormous amount and variety of wildlife is removed to leave bare tree trunks.

davidenrique

May ’20

Very interesting post.
I can completely empathize with you confusion/depression. Nature is FULL of unimaginable waste and suffering, and we could sit here all-day citing examples without even scratching the surface. I’ll refrain from doing that, but we could.

I don’t really have any good comments/advice, but here are just a couple of thoughts that came to mind now:

  1. Plants almost certainly don’t feel pain or suffer. I don’t just say this just because they don’t have the structures/mechanisms that we animals have to perceive pain or to suffer (although they don’t), but also because it just wouldn’t be beneficial for them. I don’t think they have evolved different mechanisms to do the same thing, since pain/suffering are very complex and specific adaptations that have evolved to lead to certain outcomes in animals. That doesn’t really apply to plants, or to a lot of other organisms.
  2. Nature is FULL of unimaginable waste and suffering, but it is also FULL of unimaginable beauty, complexity, intricacy, and other good things. So, if you can do something to improve the situation, do so… but when you can’t, there is nothing wrong with a sort of “willful avoidance” or with intentionally ignoring the bad to focus on the good. If you think about it, being depressed, angry, or feeling bad about the things you can’t do anything about only increases the amount of suffering in the world. So don’t make things worse, it is fine (and good) to find the good in the situation.
  3. The ugly side of nature is what creates the good side. We simply would not have the good side without the bad. Every beautiful, complex, and amazing adaptation that you see in the natural world, the very fact that anything more complex than self-replicating nucleic acids exists, is directly because competition, parasitism, exploitation, and death exist. Ultimately, it is those interactions which are the driving force for the evolution of complexity, cooperation, altruism, and every other good thing that has evolved.

May ’20

 davidenrique:

The ugly side of nature is what creates the good side.

I know someone who supports a butterfly conservation charity but sprays their garden plants to kill caterpillars. 

zorrosidekick

May ’20

If I have learned anything in my years it’s that there is no inherent dignity in a Death of any kind. Sure, we try to inject some into the process but we never really succeed because there wasn’t any there to begin with. Nobility maybe, compassion probably, but dignity…no.

As the gardeners of this great big Garden that was gifted to us we can address the different injustices that we perceive. In fact, I would encourage you to address it to the best of your ability. Tear down some of the vine if you wish to give the tree a fighting chance. Perhaps erect a small fence or other barrier around the property to reduce the chance of predation by domesticated animals.

I can see how you might feel discouraged by these things but that can be used as a motivation instead of a defeat. Predation is a constant act in a world where competition is the natural order and modern humans aren’t used to losing in that game even though bacteria/viruses, exposure, accidents, and predation are taking us out all the time too. Please remember, nay believe, that Life(in all its forms) is worth protecting, learning about, and propagating even though Death exists.

screedius

May ’20

If you’re looking for some consolation, I’m not sure this is it, but I’ll tell you something my undergraduate physics professor tells his students: The second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that entropy, the inherent disorder in the universe, is always increasing. Every action we take creates disorder. Even when we try to create ordered systems, the cost in entropy is always higher than the order we create. Eventually, the entropy of the universe will be so great that there is no longer any matter. It will all have been converted to radiant energy and scattered to the farthest reaches of the universe where it can no longer interact with anything. Life itself is an incredibly complex ordered system. There are so many different chemicals that must bind together in just the right order and so many different systems that must work together in just one simple organism, the fact that anything as complex as a cell, or a plant, an animal or a person even exists in the first place is nothing short of impossible. The only reason that this can occur at all is the fact that these incredibly ordered systems only exist for an infinitesimal fraction of a second in the lifetime of the universe. So be glad that you are here to experience it in all its variety and complexity. Life and death, good and bad, beautiful, and ugly are not concepts that will exist forever.

chelonia_cam

May ’20

Very sorry to hear your experience, I’ve had a few experiences like this but I believe that we as humans react this way to seeing other animals morn and have grief for them. But as others are saying it’s the cycle of life, not as much being a domestic dog attacking wildlife or invasive plants killing out natives, but ultimately it’s nature the repeating cycle of life. But it’s best to not catch yourself on the negatives and focus on the positives.

sbushes

May ’20

the responses here kind of relate to one of the reasons I´ve been particularly interested in parasitic wasps and flies since I started exploring entomology…

my knee-jerk response to the notion of parasitism is that its abhorrent… that one creatures lays its babies inside another…and that their baby then eats said creature from the inside out while it’s still alive …is hard to wrap your head around from a human perspective!

but that’s a positive challenge to overcome IMO, to discard more traditional perceptions of these actions as good / evil …and see it as the cycle of life as those above mention

and more than that, to connect and in a sense, care for these creatures and value them as well! …is just absolutely fascinating to me. 🙂

it’s a powerful experience to gaze into the eyes of a parasitic bee-grabber when photographing it!

spending time with these creatures really shakes my worldview.

jurga_li

May ’20

Though I am sorry for your distress, but, as the others have noted, there are no good or evil guys in nature. They’re all part of ecosystems and have their own functions. The only evil guy is us, humanity, who import invasive species by trying to beautify the nature or make it more useful for us, trying to eradicate “evil guys” (sparrows, wolves, insects, etc.). Even in your gosling story there is a human hand – it is letting their pet loose with the birds in the vicinity. As for nature – I have recently witnessed the cannibalism of a squirrel, when a male squirrel kills and eats young ones sired by another male. Yes, it’s cruel and seemingly unnecessary (not from the point of view of a killer squirrel, who later mates with a mother squirrel and will guard his offspring well), but this is nature, we must accept it.

schizoform

May ’20

I’ve struggled with this, too. Nature doesn’t do good/evil. It doesn’t do pretty/ugly. It doesn’t salve the sting of death and it doesn’t believe in death with dignity – natural death is often horrible. It does do tenacity, and creativity, and diversity. It accepts and transforms everything.

The consolation is that we who sort things into good and evil and beautiful and ugly can feel and shape these things. We can choose where to cast our gaze and what to cultivate around us, and we can feel deeply the goodness and beauty and respect the harshness, pain and sorrow that brings it all into such sharp relief.

It’s not easy, but it is real. The only goodness and beauty that exists is the goodness and beauty we find and cherish. Good luck.

susanhewittRegular

May ’20

If you study Nature long enough and deeply enough, it will eventually show you everything that exists. This can be a tough learning process because you will get to see things you would rather not see and learn things you would rather not learn.

But, as is true of life in general, we do need to know the whole picture, not just the pretty and uplifting parts. Life is not here to entertain us, and nature is not here to soothe us.

Even in the people we love the most and admire the most, we will sometimes see a glimpse of something repugnant or disappointing; that’s the way things are.

We are all under pressure right now with the pandemic rolling over us, and we wish there was something out there which was composed entirely of comforting loveliness.

But the truth is always your friend, so embrace it, don’t shy away from it. Try not to judge nature as “good” or “bad”, just observe it with an open mind.

Nature is the ultimate teacher. In fact, nature is our original mother – we were born from her. There is an overall beauty and magnificence in nature, despite it being “red in tooth and claw”.

Nature is not something separate from us and different from us, it is what we are made of too. We must come to terms with it, with all it, otherwise we won’t be able to come to terms with what it is to be human, what it is to be “me”.

I reckon you are feeling sad and a bit defeated, as I think we all do from time to time, especially during this pandemic. But if you do love nature, go back out there, and keep looking. Look smaller and look bigger too. Give nature a chance to show you how it all makes sense, and what you can do to make things better if there are issues for which humans are primarily responsible.

lotteryd

May ’20

Welcome to the forum! Your mention of the gosling reminded me of this recent essay on the same topic which coincidentally features goslings:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/06/science/geese-coronavirus-humor.html 10

nickcarlson

May ’20

I think one of our more insidious traits as humans is our tendency to anthropomorphize nature. Growing up in relative comfort, under the jurisdiction of laws and human rights, with abstract views on life and morality that are very foreign to this world (when compared to the rest of life on Earth), it’s easy to impress our human views upon nature and see things through our lens. And while it’s perfectly normal and natural to feel uncomfortable at the brutality nature has to offer, it shouldn’t taint your view of nature, because nature doesn’t give a damn about our human misconceptions.

botanicaltreasures

May ’20

Many of us here have asked the same question. Seeing all the compassionate and empathetic replies you’ve gotten shows another side of nature. We can choose to build rather than destroy. In Romans 8:22 The Apostle Paul made the same observation as you did “For we know the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” I feel sad with you and I feel some comfort too.

botanicaltreasures

sbushes

May ’20

I see parasitic wasps as a mercy. Too many caterpillars can devastate crops leading to starvation.

1 Reply

davidenrique

May ’20

 nickcarlson:

because nature doesn’t give a damn about our human misconceptions.

“nature” is a human concept that doesn’t really exist out there. A goose isn’t “nature”, it is just a goose. And a goose, like a lot of different animals, CAN feel pain and to suffer horribly. It DOES care that it is being attacked by an eagle and half of its intestines are currently hanging out of its body. That is NOT a misconception, it does not constitute “anthropomorphizing”, or “judging nature”, it is a real, objective, biological fact.

To reply more broadly (not just to Nick): if there is ANYTHING objective in the universe, it is that pain and suffering are inherently and objectively bad. That is true. Even though sometimes they can be a part of something that is overall good that outweighs them (such as feeling some pain/suffering to obtain a larger reward later, or to achieve a goal), the feelings themselves ARE indeed bad. There’s no judgment or subjectivity involved in acknowledging that. As such, I think it is missing the point to say that we shouldn’t “judge nature”, “anthropomorphize”, or “look at nature through our human lenses”. While the good may outweigh the bad (let’s say the eagle in the scenario above is a beautiful, endangered keystone species on which an entire ecosystem depends, and the goose belongs to an invasive species that is destroying that ecosystem), that fact doesn’t make the bad disappear. The gosling being ripped apart alive by an eagle is still suffering horribly. I think it’s a little flippant* to ignore this fact and pretend that it’s all just a matter of interpretation, that there is no objectively ugly side of nature.

*that’s not exactly the word I’d like to use, it’s a bit too strong/negative, but I can’t think of a better word

melodi_96

May ’20

Domestic dogs are not part of nature, so there should be a long tlk with those owners about how to walk with a dog.
All situation is not even ugly, it’s the actual side of the life, you too kill thousands of creatures every day and don’t even notice it, to live an organism must kill something or find something dead, as euchroites are not bacteria’s and can’t survive without it. And I’m glad that dead gooseling is what brought you those thoughts, there’re far more brutal things happening.

jurga_li

botanicaltreasures

May ’20

A glance to the question from the other side: how many ecosystems were erased, plant communities damaged, wildlife killed or drawn to starvation and died by creating crop fields? There is no correct answer to the good and the bad nature even from an anthropomorphic point of view.

347-871-2416 drnucc@ipredator.org 

Dark Psychology

Dark Side of Human Consciousness Concept

Authored by Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. (2006)

Dark Psychology is both a human consciousness construct and study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon others motivated by psychopathic, deviant or psychopathological criminal drives that lack purpose and general assumptions of instinctual drives, evolutionary biology and social sciences theory. All of humanity has the potentiality to victimize humans and other living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology explores criminal, deviant and cybercriminal minds.” Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. [2006]

Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon others. All of humanity has this potential to victimize other humans & living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings and perceptions that lead to human predatory behavior. Dark Psychology assumes that this production is purposive and has some rational, goal-oriented motivation 99.99% of the time. The remaining .01%, under Dark Psychology, is the brutal victimization of others without purposive intent or reasonably defined by evolutionary science or religious dogma.

Within the next century, iPredators and their acts of theft, violence and abuse will become a global phenomenon and societal epidemic if not squashed. Segments of iPredators include cyber stalkers, cyberbullies, cyber terrorist, cyber criminals, online sexual predators and political/religious fanatics engaged in cyber warfare. Just as Dark Psychology views all criminal/deviant behavior on a continuum of severity and purposive intent, the theory of iPredator follows the same framework, but involves abuse, assault and online victimization using Information and Communications Technology. The definition of iPredator is as follows:

iPredator

iPredator: A person, group or nation who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, victimization, coercion, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. iPredators are driven by deviant fantasies, desires for power and control, retribution, religious fanaticism, political reprisal, psychiatric illness, perceptual distortions, peer acceptance or personal and financial gain. iPredators can be any age or gender and are not bound by economic status, race, religion or national heritage. iPredator is a global term used to distinguish anyone who engages in criminal, coercive, deviant or abusive behaviors using ICT. Central to the construct is the premise that Information Age criminals, deviants and the violently disturbed are psychopathological classifications new to humanity.

Whether the offender is a cyberstalker, cyber harasser, cybercriminal, online sexual predator, internet troll, cyber terrorist, cyberbully, online child pornography consumer/distributor or engaged in internet defamation or nefarious online deception, they fall within the scope of iPredator. The three criteria used to define an iPredator include:

  • A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT.
  • The usage of ICT to obtain, exchange and deliver harmful information.
  • A general understanding of Cyberstealth used to engage in criminal or deviant activities or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.

Unlike human predators prior to the Information Age, iPredators rely upon the multitude of benefits offered by Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. These assistances include exchange of information over long distances, rapidity of information exchanged and the seemingly infinite access to data available. Malevolent in intent, iPredators habitually deceive others using ICT in the abstract and artificial electronic universe known as cyberspace. Therefore, as the internet naturally offers all ICT users anonymity, if they decide, iPredators actively design online profiles and diversionary tactics to remain undetected and untraceable.

Cyberstealth, a sub-tenet of iPredator, is a covert method by which iPredators attempt to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they engage in ICT activities planning their next assault, investigating innovative surveillance technologies or researching the social profiles of their next target. Concurrent with the concept of Cyberstealth is iPredator Victim Intuition [IVI], an iPredator’s IVI is their aptitude to sense a target’s ODDOR [Offline Distress Dictates Online Response], online & offline vulnerabilities, psychological weaknesses, technological limitations, increasing their success of a cyber-attack with minimal ramifications.

Arsonist

The Arsonist is a person with an obsessive preoccupation with fire setting. These individuals often have developmental histories filled with sexual and physical abuse. Common among serial arsonists is the proclivity to be loners, have few peers, and absolutely fascinated by fire and fire setting. Serial arsonists are highly ritualistic and tend to exhibit patterned behaviors as to their methodologies for setting fires.

Preoccupied by fire setting, Arsonists often fantasize & fixate upon how to plan their fire setting episodes. Once their target is set ablaze, some arsonists experience sexual arousal and proceed with masturbation while watching. Despite their pathological and ritualistic patterns, the serial arsonist feels pride in his actions.

Necrophilia

Thanatophilia, Necrophilia and Necrologies all define the same type of disordered person. These are people, and they do exist, who have a sexual attraction to corpses. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies necrophilia as a paraphilia. A paraphilia is a biomedical term used to describe a person’s sexual arousal and preoccupation with objects, situations or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation and may cause distress or serious problems for the person. Hence, a Necrophile’s paraphilia is sexual arousal by an object, a deceased person.

Experts who have compiled profiles of Necrophiles indicate they have tremendous difficulty experiencing a capacity for being intimate with others. For these people, sexual intimacy with the dead feels safe and secure rather than sexual intimacy with a living human. Necrophiles have divulged in interviews feeling a great sense of control when in the company of a corpse. A sense of connection becomes secondary to the primary need for perceived control.

Serial Killer

A serial killer is a true human predator typically defined as someone who murders three or more people over a period of 30 days or greater. Interviews with most serial killers have revealed they experience a cooling off period between each murder. The serial killer’s cooling off period is a perceptual refractory period whereby they are temporarily satiated with their need to cause pain to others.

Criminal Psychology experts have hypothesized their motivation for killing is the pursuit for an experience of psychological gratification only achieved via brutality. After they murder, these individuals feel a sense of release combined with egotistical power. The experience for them brings such gratification that they become wanton of feeling the experience of release and gratification once again.

“The term ‘serial killings’ means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.” FBI

Sexual assault, rape, humiliation and torture are often involved during the course of their murders. Experts at the Federal Bureau of Investigations have outlined other motivations in addition to anger, rage, attention seeking, thrill seeking and monetary gain. Often, serial killers exhibit similar patterns in their choice of victims, how they murder their targets, and methods for disposal of the body. Criminal experts trained in behavioral analysis concur serial killers have a history of significant emotional, behavioral and social pathology. Although not absolute, serial killers tend to be loners who have trouble engaging in functional relationships.

Provided above are four examples of offenders and offender groups who commit abusive and/or violent bizarre acts sharing the common bond of having deep psychological deficits with distorted worldviews. These serious psychiatric and/or personality constructs, which may metastasize throughout their being, defies reason. What is it about these human predators, how do they function and socialize in their day-to-day lives? These brief profiles speak volumes about the dark nature of the human condition. In addition to all sharing mild to severe psychopathology, they all are perceptual loners with deep-seated forces governing their decision-making capacities.

The serial arsonist may not assault other people or find gratification from being a human predator as does the serial killer, but he actually experiences joy and elation from his fire setting. In addition to joy, he feels a sense of accomplishment from the devastation he has caused. His episodes of fire setting are extremely dangerous given he can cause harm to others, but the goal of inflicting pain or bodily harm is not his modus operandi.

For the serial arsonist, the big payoff is his sense of pride and distorted perception of accomplishing a brilliant feat of genius. His perverted sense of achievement, at times, lead him to become sexually aroused and masturbation ensues. The arsonist’s behavior is reprehensible, illegal and dangerous, but typically does not involve premeditated murder. They live within an abyss of infernal obsession.

Although the Necrophile is not causing pain to another person or victimizing others, his actions are extraordinarily bizarre and absent of any sense of logic. The Necrophile’s need for perceived control is so insidious that he develops a sexual attraction to a corpse. Imagine what the experience must be for him. He is sexually aroused by a lifeless body that is expressionless and absent of warmth. Most people yearn for connection during sexual intimacy, but the Necrophile does not require this. He becomes aroused by the experience of a total and complete disconnect. Clearly, his mind has entered a very dark realm.

The serial killer is one of the most despotic characters that manifests from the dark side. In films, court cases and news coverage, the serial killer is frequently a subject of intrigue. The essence of this epitome of deviant evil echoes a part of the human psyche that only the serial killer himself can realistically experience. Just as an alcoholic craves his next drink or an opiate addict yearns for his next fix, the serial killer becomes addicted to murder.

The serial killer speaks of the gratification and elevated sense of release once his murder has come to fruition. Unlike the necrophile or serial arsonist, the serial killer’s sole endeavor is to extinguish life. For many of these assailants, sexual arousal by torturing their victims is a common theme. Although a common theme, there are other equally disturbing drives causing them to torture their victims.

These four examples are illustrations of the extent to which humans will go for the experience of power, pleasure and/or goal attainment. All of the criminal profiles described, involve assailants feeling a sense of gratification from their abusive and/or heinous actions. The reality is that these examples are merely basic profiles of four segments of the population of men and women who participate in criminal, abusive or deviant acts. The extent to which humans will go for sexual gratification, perceived control or financial gain is quite extensive and elaborate.

Before the advent of scientific advancements and the capacity of society to explain deviant human behavior, monsters and demons were the cause of such chaos. Unable to understand how people could commit such atrocities, metaphysical beings were the only logical explanation. Instead of fearing their neighbors, early civilizations concocted legends and tales of demonic beings. Werewolves, Vampires and Ghouls prowled the night stalking their prey.

Although contemporary society deems itself as advanced in its ability to comprehend the potential for humans to commit violent and heinous acts, learning how to reduce and/or prevent bizarre and deadly actions perpetrated by humans remains elusive. Our species is the only group of living organisms that participate in actions antithetical to our survival.

Dark Psychology is both the study of criminal & deviant behavior and a conceptual framework for deciphering the potential for evil within all human beings. This writer does not claim to have the proverbial “holy grail” of defining deviant human behavior, but rather a framework for inquiry and further investigation.

Many years ago, when this writer first became interested in the study of forensic and criminal psychology, he posited that aberrant deviant behaviors were part of a psychiatric illness not yet determined. With the passing of time and research, intrigue followed from the vast array of theories and explanations for why humans maintain a capacity to prey upon other humans.

The idea of Dark Psychology entered this writer’s theoretical exploration and he began to formalize a set of concepts he believed plausible. The sum of his attempts ended in narrow concepts aimed at trying to explain the psychopath and sexual predator. Four years ago, this writer experienced his first paradigm shift pertinent to his present theory.

A psychopath, as described by psychologists, is emotionally flat, lacks empathy for the feelings of others and is free of remorse. Psychopaths behave as if the world is to be used for their benefit, and they employ deception and feigned emotion to manipulate others.” Bill Steele, Chronicle Online (2011)

The construct that follows is this writer’s best attempt at defining why humans are predators with the potential to prey on others for reasons that seem to lack purpose and/or understanding. This writer presents to you, Dark Psychology.

Dark Psychology Defined

Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon other people motivated by criminal and/or deviant drives that lack purpose and general assumptions of instinctual drives and social science theory. All of humanity has this potential to victimize other humans and living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses.

Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings, perceptions and subjective processing systems that lead to predatory behavior that is antithetical to contemporary understandings of human behavior. Dark Psychology assumes that criminal, deviant and abusive behaviors are purposive and have some rational, goal- oriented motivation 99.99% of the time. It is the remaining .01%, Dark Psychology parts from Adlerian theory and the Teleology. Dark Psychology postulates there is a region within the human psyche that enables some people to commit atrocious acts without purpose. In this theory, it has been coined the Dark Singularity.

Dark Psychology posits that all humanity has a reservoir of malevolent intent towards others ranging from minimally obtrusive and fleeting thoughts to pure psychopathic deviant behaviors without any cohesive rationality. This is called the Dark Continuum. Mitigating factors acting as accelerants and/or attractants to approaching the Dark Singularity, and where a person’s heinous actions fall on the Dark Continuum, is what Dark Psychology calls Dark Factor. Brief introductions to these concepts are illustrated below. Dark Psychology is a concept this writer has grappled with for fifteen years. It has only been recently that he has finally conceptualized the definition, philosophy and psychology of this aspect of the human condition.

Dark Psychology is not just the dark side of our moon, but dark side of all moons combined.

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.

Dark Psychology encompasses all that makes us who we are in relationship to our dark side. All cultures, all faiths and all humanity have this proverbial cancer. From the moment we are born to the time of death, there is a side lurking within us all that some have called evil and others have defined as criminal, deviant, and pathological. Dark Psychology introduces a third philosophical construct that views these behaviors different from religious dogmas and contemporary social science theories.

It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.“ Alfred Adler

Dark Psychology posits there are people who commit these same acts and do so not for power, money, sex, retribution or any other known purpose. They commit these horrid acts without a goal. Simplified, their ends do not justify their means. There are people who violate and injure others for the sake of doing so. Within in all of us is this potential. A potential to harm others without cause, explanation, or purpose is the area this writer explores. Dark Psychology assumes this dark potential is incredibly complex and even more difficult to define.

Dark Psychology assumes we all have the potential for predator behaviors and this potential has access to our thoughts, feelings and perceptions. As you will read throughout this manuscript, we all have this potential, but only a few of us acts upon them. All of us have had thoughts and feelings, at one time or another, of wanting to behave in a brutal manner. We all have had thoughts of wanting to hurt others severely without mercy. If you are honest with yourself, you will have to agree you have had thoughts and feeling of wanting to commit heinous acts.

Given the fact, we consider ourselves a benevolent species; one would like to believe we think these thoughts and feelings would be non-existent. Unfortunately, we all have these thoughts, and luckily, never act upon them. Dark Psychology poses there are people who have these same thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, but act upon them in either premeditated or impulsive ways. The obvious difference is they act upon them while others simply have fleeting thoughts and feelings of doing so.

Dark Psychology posits that this predator style is purposive and has some rational, goal-oriented motivation. Religion, philosophy, psychology, and other dogmas have attempted cogently to define Dark Psychology. It is true most human behavior, related to evil actions, is purposive and goal oriented, but Dark Psychology assumes there is an area where purposive behavior and goal-oriented motivation becomes nebulous. There is a continuum of Dark Psychology victimization ranging from thoughts to pure psychopathic deviance without any apparent rationality or purpose. This continuum, Dark Continuum, helps to conceptualize the philosophy of Dark Psychology.

Dark Psychology addresses that part of the human psyche or universal human condition that allows for and may even impel predatory behavior. Some characteristics of this behavioral tendency are, in many cases, its lack of obvious rational motivation, its universality and its lack of predictability. Dark Psychology assumes this universal human condition is different or an extension of evolution. Let us look at some very basic tenets of evolution. First, consider we evolved from other animals and we presently are the paragon of all animal life. Our frontal lobe has allowed us to become the apex creature. Now let us assume that being apex creatures does not make us completely removed from our animal instincts and predatory nature.

The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge to conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation.” Alfred Adler

Assuming this is true if you subscribe to evolution, then you believe that all behavior relates to three primary instincts. Sex, aggression, and the instinctual drive to self-sustain are the three primary human drives. Evolution follows the tenets of survival of the fittest and replication of the species. We and all other life forms behave in a manner to procreate and survive. Aggression occurs for the purposes of marking our territory, protecting our territory and ultimately winning the right to procreate. It sounds rational, but it is no longer part of the human condition in the purest sense.

Our power of thought and perception has made us both the apex of species and the apex of practicing brutality. If you have ever watched a nature documentary, this writer is sure you cringe and feel sorrow for the antelope ripped to shreds by a pride of lions. Although brutal and unfortunate, the purpose for the violence fits the evolutionary model of self- preservation. The lions kill for food, which is required for survival. Male animals fight to the death, at times, for the rite of territory or the will to power. All these acts, violent and brutal, evolution explains.

Defiant individuals will always persecute others yet will always consider themselves persecuted.” Alfred Adler

When animals hunt, they often stalk and kill the youngest, weakest, or females of the group. Although this reality sounds psychopathic, the reason for their chosen prey is to reduce their own probability for injury or death. All animal life acts and behaves in this manner. All their brutal, violent and bloody actions relate to the theory of evolution, natural selection and instinct for survival and reproduction. As you will learn after reading this manuscript, there are no Dark Psychology applications when it comes to the rest of life on our planet. We, humans are the ones to possess what Dark Psychology attempts to explore.

Theories of evolution, natural selection and animal instincts, and their theoretical tenets, seem to dissolve when we look at the human condition. We are the only creatures on the face of the earth that preys on each other without the reason of procreation for the survival of the species. Humans are the only creatures that prey upon others for inexplicable motivations. Dark Psychology addresses that part of the human psyche or universal human condition that allows for and may even impel predatory behavior. Dark Psychology assumes there is something intrapsychic that influences our actions and is anti-evolutionary. We are the only species that will murder one another for reasons other than survival, food, territory or procreation.

Philosophers and ecclesiastical writers over the centuries have attempted to explain this phenomenon. We will delve into some of these historical interpretations of malicious human behavior. Only we humans can harm others with a complete lack of obvious rational motivation. Dark Psychology assumes there is a part of us because we are human, which fuels dark and vicious behaviors.

As you will read, this place or realm within all our beings is universal. There is no group of people walking the face of the earth now, before, or in the future who do not possess this dark side. Dark Psychology believes this facet of the human condition lacks reason and logical rationality. It is part of all of us and there is no known explanation.

Dark Psychology assumes this dark side is also unpredictable. Unpredictable in the understanding of who acts upon these dangerous impulses, and even more unpredictable of the lengths some will go with their sense of mercy completely negated. There are people who rape, murder, torture, and violate without cause or purpose. Dark Psychology speaks to these actions of acting as a predator seeking out human prey without clearly defined purposes. As humans, we are incredibly dangerous to ourselves and every other living creature. The reasons are many and Dark Psychology attempts to explore those dangerous elements.

It is this writers aim to examine the nature of Dark Psychology and to understand the origin and development of psychological phenomena motivating human beings to exhibit predatory behavior in the absence of any apparent rational motivator. This writer realizes his endeavor to succeed at this is next to impossible, but he hopes Dark Psychology will foster an interest in further exploration.

As mentioned above, there have been a plethora of philosophers, great thinkers, religious figures, and scientists who have attempted to conceptualize in a cogent way Dark Psychology. For this writer, Dark Psychology encapsulates all previous theories and explanations for human brutality.

It is this writer’s assertion that Dark Psychology exists universally throughout the human species and manifests itself as predatory behavior (inclinations) without apparent rational motivation. He suggests that examination of Dark Psychology and its evolutionary foundation is vital. He does not suggest Dark Psychology is part of our evolutionary heritage, but he does believe it is vital to investigate the evolutionary foundation of Dark Psychology.

To be exact, this writer means the basis or rudimentary constructs we all possess. Throughout this manuscript, you will read how redundant this writer is when it comes to reinforcing the basic tenets of Dark Psychology. He does this not only for the reader, but also for himself in order to remain focused on the core constructs. Remember, Dark Psychology is like a spider’s web attempting to capture all previous theories of human victimization and communicate them to others inspiring awareness, and encouraging self-awareness.

The more readers can visualize Dark Psychology, the better prepared they become to reduce their chances of victimization by human predators. Before proceeding, it is important to have at least a minimal comprehension of Dark Psychology. As you proceed through future manuscripts expanding this construct, this writer will go into detail about the most important concepts. Following are six tenets necessary to fully grasp Dark Psychology as follows:

1. Dark Psychology is a universal part of the human condition. This construct has exerted influence throughout history. All cultures, societies and the people who reside in them maintain this facet of the human condition. The most benevolent people known have this realm of evil, but never act upon it and have lower rates of violent thoughts and feelings.

2. Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to people’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to this innate potential to prey upon others devoid of clear definable reasons. Given that all behavior is purposive, goal oriented, and conceptualized via modus operandi, Dark Psychology puts forth the notion the nearer a person draws to the “black hole” of pristine evil, the less likely he/she has a purpose in motivations. Although this writer assumes pristine evil is never reached, since it is infinite, Dark Psychology assumes there are some who come close.

3. Because of its potential for misinterpretation as aberrant psychopathy, Dark Psychology may be overlooked in its latent form. History is replete with examples of this latent tendency to reveal itself as active, destructive behaviors. Modern psychiatry and psychology define the psychopath as a predator devoid of remorse for his actions. Dark Psychology posits there is a continuum of severity ranging from thoughts and feelings of violence to severe victimization and violence without a reasonable purpose or motivation.

4. On this continuum, the severity of the Dark Psychology is not deemed less or more heinous by the behavior of victimization but plots out a range of inhumanity. A simple illustration would be comparing Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. Both were severe psychopaths and heinous in their actions. The difference is Dahmer committed his atrocious murders for his delusional need for companionship while Ted Bundy murdered, and sadistically inflicted pain out of sheer psychopathic evil. Both would be higher on the Dark Continuum, but one, Jeffrey Dahmer, can be better understood via his psychotic desperate need to be loved.

5. Dark Psychology assumes all people have a potential for violence. This potential is innate in all humans and various internal and external factors increase the probability for this potential to manifest into volatile behaviors. These behaviors are predatory in nature, and at times, can function without reason. Dark Psychology assumes the predator-prey dynamic becomes distorted by humans. Dark Psychology is solely a human phenomenon and shared by no other living creature. Violence and mayhem may exist in other living organisms, but humanity is the only species that has the potential to do so without purpose.

6. An understanding of the underlying causes and triggers of Dark Psychology would better enable society to recognize, diagnose and possibly reduce the dangers inherent in its influence. Learning the concepts of Dark Psychology serves a twofold beneficial function. First, by accepting we all have this potential for evil allows those with this knowledge to reduce the probability of it erupting. Secondly, grasping the tenets of Dark Psychology fits our original evolutionary purpose for struggling to survive.

This writer’s goal is to educate others by increasing their self-awareness, creating a paradigm shift of their reality for the better, and inspiring them to educate others to endeavor upon the path of learning to reduce the probability of falling victim to those possessed by the forces explored by Dark Psychology. If you have been a victim of the Dark Psychology guided predator, do not feel humiliated, because we all experience some form of victimization at one time or another in our lives.

We all have a dark side. It is part of the human condition but agreed not to be well understood. An unpleasant reality, Dark Psychology surrounds us waiting patiently to pounce. As this writer has previously mentioned, Dark Psychology encompasses all forms of cruel and violent behaviors. We need only look at the senseless cruelty to animals. Being a dedicated pet lover, animal abuse to this writer is both vicious and psychopathic. As recent studies have suggested, animal abuse correlates with a higher probability to commit violence against humanity.

On the milder side of the Dark Continuum is vandalism of others property or the increasing levels of violence in video games children and teens plead for during the holiday season. Vandalism and a child’s need to play violent video games are mild compared to overt violence but are explicit examples of this universal human feature this writer’s theory illustrates. Most of humanity denies and hides its presence, but still the elements of Dark Psychology quietly lurk beneath the surface in all of us.

It is universal and everywhere throughout society. Some religions define it as an actual entity they call Satan. Some cultures believe in the existence of demons as being the culprits causing malicious actions. The brightest of many cultures have defined Dark Psychology as a psychiatric condition or spawned by genetic traits passed down from generation to generation.

This writer attempts to examine Dark Psychology’s origin and nature to understand how the average, well-socialized person can wind up in the news, having committed an atrocity no one could have predicted. At any point during the day and throughout the night, since the beginning of recorded history, atrocities inflicted by one human on another are infinitely occurring. Although macabre, it is amazing how apparently decent people could participate in or allow such horrors to occur.

Thousands of these atrocities are evident throughout history. The holocaust during World War II and ethnic cleansing presently occurring in neighboring countries are a few examples. History, with the remnants of what Dark Psychology has caused, abounds with examples. As described above, Dark Psychology is alive and well and requires a serious inspection. As you continue to explore the tenets and foundation of Dark Psychology, a cognitive framework of understanding will slowly develop.

Dark Continuum

The Dark Continuum is an essential element to comprehend in your passage through the dark side of humanity. The Dark Continuum is an imaginary conceptual line or concentric circles that all criminal, violent, deviant and sadistic behaviors fall. The Dark Continuum includes thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions experienced and/or committed by humans. The continuum ranges from mild to severe and from purposive to purposeless.

Obviously, physical manifestations of Dark Psychology fall to the right of the Dark Continuum and more severe. Psychological manifestations of Dark Psychology lie to the left of the continuum but can be equally as destructive as physical acts. The Dark Continuum is not a scale of severity, in terms of range from bad to worse, but defines typologies of victimization in the thoughts and actions involved. When this writer further expands his thesis of the Dark Continuum, you will have a conceptual illustrated line depicting all forms of Dark Psychology ranging from mild and purposive to severe and purposeless.

Dark Factor

The Dark Factor is defined as the realm, place and potential that exist in all of us and is part of the human condition. This concept is one of the more abstract terms of Dark Psychology, because it is so hard to illustrate via the written expression. According to an online dictionary, a factor is anything that contributes causally to a result i.e., a number of factors determined the outcome. This writer will attempt to extrapolate for you in a cogent manner how Dark Factor resembles an equation.

The Dark Factor is not a mathematical equation, but a theoretical one. The Dark Factor is a set of events that a person experiences, which increases their probability for engaging in predatory behavior. Although research has suggested that children who grow up in abusive households become abusers themselves, this does not mean all abused children grow to become violent offenders. This is merely only one facet of a multitude of experiences and circumstances that contribute to the Dark Factor.

The number of elements that are involved in the Dark Factor equation is large. It is not the quantity of elements causing Dark Factor to become extreme, but the impact those experiences have on a person’s subjective processing that makes the Dark Factor dangerous. Some of these facets include genetics, family dynamics, emotional intelligence, peer acceptance, subjective processing and developmental milestones and experiences.

Dark Singularity

The Dark Singularity is a theoretical concept similar to the definition of singularity at the center of a black hole. When this writer attempts to illustrate the concept of the Dark Singularity, he uses astronomy and cosmology as a metaphor to describe this concept. In astrophysics, the singularity is the absolute center of a black hole that is incredibly small, but dense in mass beyond mathematical comprehension. The theory suggests that the singularity is so dense and powerful, modern laws of physics and their mathematical equations become entangled.

A black hole is the huge expanse of space surrounding the singularity and so dense light cannot escape its grasp. At the center of all galaxies as well as ours, the Milky Way, is an all-powerful black hole with an infinitely small singularity at its center chock full of awesome energy. The Dark Singularity, as it applies to Dark Psychology, is the absolute center of the Dark Psychology universe. Simply put, the Dark Singularity is made of pristine evil & unadulterated pure malevolence. Farthest to the right of the Dark Continuum is the Dark Singularity. Also, part of the human condition is the Dark Singularity that no one ever reaches. The person who comes closest to the Dark Singularity is the advanced & severe psychopath who victimizes others with minimal motivation or purpose for his actions.

Because all behavior is purposive, the Dark Singularity is a theoretical destination never reached. The Dark Singularity is approached, but without arrival. The center of Dark Singularity is best explained as “Predators Who Prey Without Purpose.” The closer a person approaches the Dark Singularity, the more heinous and malevolent their behavior becomes. At the same time, their modus operandi becomes less purposeful. As stated, this is an abstract concept that this writer will outline in his later writings.

A psychological and philosophical tenet to comprehend when venturing to visualize cognitively, the Dark Singularity, is that all behavior is purposive. This writer was blessed to have completed his doctoral degree in the mid 1990’s at the Adler University in Chicago, Illinois. What he learned in those four years of academic studies was the theories and philosophies of Alfred Adler. Alfred Adler was a turn of the century medical doctor and psychologist who was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and an incredible philosopher as well.

Through this writer’s studies, he grasped hold of many of Adler’s theories. To this day, this writer interprets his world as defined by Alfred Adler, this great medical doctor and psychologist. Adler had many theories of human behavior and this writer integrated many of them during his construction of Dark Psychology. The three most valuable concepts from Adler for developing the theory of are as follows.

Adler believed that all behavior was purposive. From the moment we are born to the day we die, everything we think, feel, and do has a purpose. Nothing we initiate during our life span occurs haphazardly. Although his philosophy may initially sound simplistic, it actually is quite complex. With this premise in mind, the reason why people are benevolent is that it serves that person to be so because they reap the rewards of acceptance by their peers, loved ones and community.

Children taught to be kind, caring, and contributory have greater levels of feeling accepted and being part of a group. For Adler, feeling part of or a strong need for acceptance by others was the purpose for healthy functional behavior. Taking his theory of all behavior being purposive to the opposite end of the spectrum, malevolent behaviors serve a purpose as well.

Adler posited that people who behave in hostile or non-accepting ways were responding to a deep sense of inferiority. When people perceive they are not part of or not accepted by a social group, they move into negative directions. As they move further away from their innate purpose to be part of a social construct, the further away they move from treating others with kindness, respect and dignity. Under this tenet, Dark Psychology assumes that 99.99% of all behavior is purposive. Like Freud and Jung, Adler subscribed to the philosophy of Teleology.

Furthermore, as humans increasingly become discouraged, isolated and his social environment becomes increasingly fragmented, the more they lash out towards others in volatile ways. A prime example and quick illustration would be the narcissistic psychopath. The narcissistic psychopath is incredibly selfish, finds delight in victimizing others and purposely takes advantage of others without remorse. The concept of purposive behavior is paramount to the understanding of Dark Psychology.

As mentioned above, this writer strongly believes all human behavior is 99.99% purposive. The left over .01% is where he differs from Adler. This .01% is the Dark Singularity. Of all Adler’s theories, the assumption of all behavior as purposive is vital to understanding Dark Psychology but varies slightly in the severest form of malevolent human behavior(s).

The second theoretical tenet Adler defined central to Dark Psychology is the concept of subjective processing. We all have thoughts, feelings and actions, in which cognitions and affective states influence behavior. Conversely, a person’s behavior influences his cognitions and emotions. Defined as a system or what Adler called a constellation, the triad or trinity of human experience is comprised as an orbiting system of thoughts, feeling and behaviors. Adler added subjective processing to this system of human experience.

He believed that childhood experiences, birth order positioning, family dynamics, quality of social acceptance and the dynamics of inferiority vs. superiority worked in a manner to create a person’s perceptual experience and trajectory of interacting with his world.

The easiest way to understand subjective processing and the perceptual framework is by visualizing a pair of sunglasses. These shaded glasses filter light and protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Your eyes represent true reality and the sunglasses represent your filtering mechanism distorting the reality of the harsh sun light. Hence, your “perceptual sunglasses “filter, distort and alter how you interpret information and respond accordingly.

This is how our subjective processing works but applied to the human condition. Reality exists and occurs every moment all around us. Subjective processing filters our reality to both protect and shield us from what we feel may be counter indicated to our purposive goals. If the human develops in an environment where he perceives being part of, belonging to, and accepted, his subjective processing filtering mechanism allows input that is much more accurate. A person socialized in what he perceives as a discouraging environment, their subjective processing becomes distorted and convoluted with selfishness and narcissism.

Regarding Dark Psychology, the goal is to assume that all people filter their world using subjective processing. Those people who are aggressive, violent or abusive are wearing a pair of proverbial sunglasses that are myopic and blurry. These people perceive others are out to harm them and move to assault or manipulate them first. Their subjective processing distorts their common decency, charitable acts and selflessness. Acts of kindness become foreign experiences or used to manipulate their social environment guided by a selfish modus operandi.

The third tenet valuable to understanding Dark Psychology is Adler’s theory of Social Interest. Social Interest, postulated by Adler, is the compilation of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings translated into benevolent behaviors. Simply stated, the greater a person feels accepted by others, the more they feel part of, and the higher sense of belonging directly links to a person’s Social Interest. People with high Social Interest are inherently kind, selfless, giving and receptive. All of these qualities of Social Interest further solidify their subjective processing to be positive and compassionate. High Social Interest equals low Dark Psychology impact.

Given that, we all have a Dark Factor within us; the person with high Social Interest keeps his Dark Factor subdued. The lower the Social Interest, the higher the probability the Dark Factor manifests. When a person feels discouraged, does not feel part of, does not experience a sense of acceptance and perceives his world as isolating, he is at a higher risk for exhibiting dysfunctional hostile reactions. Related to Alfred Adler & purposive behavior, subjective processing and Social Interest are central to understanding Dark Psychology.

Dark Psychology is a theoretical construct made up of a compilation of the philosophical tenets of Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, this writer’s clinical experience as a psychologist, his academic and professional experiences as a forensic/criminal psychologist, and the many discussions with loved ones and colleagues over the years regarding deviant behavior.

As mentioned earlier in this manuscript, this writer’s goal is to take fifteen years of thoughts and observations and translate them for others to investigate. The second goal, and most important, is this writer’s hope that others will read his work, investigate his postulations and use them to defeat those that walk-through life looking to harm, victimize and brutalize.

Others postulate an entirely different tenet that is not psychiatric but defined as a depletion of conscience. This writer does not spend much time going into clinical studies or academic explanations, given the massive quantities of work compiled by those studying deviant behavior. The approach is to cast a wide net to cover relevant theories that this writer feels are highly valuable to understanding Dark Psychology.

A portion of the information relevant to understanding Dark Psychology is an overview exploring child development, family dynamics and other factors that work to formalize Dark Psychology. Although there is no way to exactly define why and how some people turn to the dark side, there are areas for exploration that help to explain how the “laws of probability” exist in the development of the antisocial personality construct. Other areas discussed include psychiatric illness, personality disorders and alcohol/drug addiction as catalysts to deviant behavior. Psychiatric and alcohol/substance abuse do not explain violent behavior, but this writer concurs these disturbances contribute to the understanding of Dark Psychology.

Contemporary social sciences investigate the areas of psychopathy, narcissism and personality disorders. These profiles are very intriguing and fuel much of the interest in the field of forensic and criminal psychology. Based on this writer’s investigation, there seems to be an intricate combination of these three-character disordered constructs that that create truly despotic people. Once this writer has presented Dark Psychology thoroughly, provided will be alternative explanations for violent behavior. Another element of Dark Psychology discussed will include rapists, pedophiles and sadistic sexual offenders.

In the concluding manuscripts to follow, this writer will move into the most important themes defining Dark Psychology. It is within these arenas this writer offers advice on how to insulate oneself from becoming a future target for the human predator. Once you have a grasp of Dark Psychology, you will then have the ability to assess other people’s actions as being potentially dangerous.

Employed in mental health for the last 25 years, working as a psychologist and forensic examiner for 10 years treating patients, evaluating court entangled defendants, and learning as much as he can as a forensic psychologist has given this writer the opportunity to offer those not involved in the pursuit of Dark Psychology, a set of tools for protection.        

Remember, Dark Psychology includes all criminal and deviant behaviors committed upon other people. Although many people are intrigued by the discussion of the serial killer and psychopath, the vast majority of predators hunting human prey are not engaged in murder or sexual deviance. If this writer were to make an estimate, he would put the percentage of human predators at roughly 70% of the total pool of people who are out to victimize others, but who are not involved in murder or sexual deviance. 30% have been estimated to include criminal, deviant and violent offenders where physical contact is planned.

At the beginning of this introduction, this writer presented what he believes is a sound theory of the human predator. Dark Psychology assumes what lives within all of us is a potential reservoir of violent malicious energy. All humanity lies somewhere on the Dark Continuum with most being in the category of subtle, mild and with fleeting thoughts and minor shortfalls. The reality though is Dark Psychology is a universal phenomenon, and there is no dispute all of us, at times in our lives, have had at least thoughts of sheer violence and predatory fantasies.

The difference is most of humanity has never acted upon those thoughts. The reason is that we have a low Dark Factor equation compared to the predators. For them, their Dark Factor is elevated; influencing them to move in a direction towards what many define as evil and this writer defines as a trajectory accelerating towards the Dark Singularity.

Carl Jung and Alfred Adler’s theories were a powerful influence in this writer’s creation of Dark Psychology. He strongly adheres to Adler’s philosophy that behavior is purposive. The only slight philosophical divergence from Adler is this writer’s belief that all behavior is 99.99% purposive. He holds the remaining .01% as being within the realm of the black hole of the Dark Singularity. The black hole of the singularity is the area of evil that the predator comes close to, but never reaches.

The Dark Singularity is the potential in all of us to behave as a predator, hunting human prey completely and utterly devoid of purpose. This writer also strongly subscribes to Adler’s theory of subjective processing. Dark Psychology and the human predator have a highly distorted perceptual filtering mechanism. For them, it is no longer about being compassionate and kind. Their subjective processing colors all of their thoughts, emotions and perceptions with blackness and venom.

At some point in the development of the human predator, he/she actuates his thoughts and feelings and starts down the long road of what contemporary criminologist call psychopathy. Within time, their subjective processing filter becomes divorced from experiencing remorse. They come to perceive that the victimization of others is deserved by those who are too naive to protect themselves.

Given that, a large portion of human development surrounds social acceptance, the predator somehow moves into the arena where his Dark Factor becomes an active force fueling an urge for the destruction of others. Once touched by the realm of psychopathy, he has entered the point of no return. Just as light cannot escape a black hole, the human predator cannot escape the path towards the Dark Singularity. Interviews conducted by forensic profilers and research scientists with convicted notorious psychopaths have proven the theory of accelerated movement towards the Dark Singularity.

Not only have psychopaths divulged a perception of experiencing a sense that their evil acts accelerate in frequency, but also their experience of acting as predator takes on an addictive quality. Using cosmology once again as a metaphor for Dark Psychology, the closer matter approaches a black hole, the faster mass accelerates and can never swing away from the black hole’s awesome gravity. Interviews with psychopaths almost exactly mimic this universal law of astrophysics.

As society moves further into what is defined as the Information Age filled with digital technology and cyberspace, Dark Psychology and its impact on humanity will be tested at greater rates. Given the veil of anonymity cyberspace offers all humanity, the question remains is if the nefarious aspects living within all of us will recognize there is a realm of free reign called the digital universe.

“Dark Psychology is the study of the chasm within us all, which only few enter, and even fewer ever exit. Without a natural predator to cause humans to rally, we prey upon one another.” Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D.

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. is a NYS licensed psychologist, cyberpsychology researcher and online safety educator. In 2009, Dr. Nuccitelli finalized his dark side of cyberspace concept called iPredator. Since 2010, he has advised those seeking information about cyberbullying, cyberstalking, cybercriminal minds, internet addiction and his Dark Psychology concept. By day Dr. Nuccitelli is a practicing psychologist, clinical supervisor and owner of MN Psychological Services, PLLC. After work and on the weekends, he volunteers helping online users who have been cyber-attacked. Dr. Nuccitelli’s is always available to interested partied and the media at no cost. This website and everything created by Dr. Nuccitelli is educational, free and public domain.

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IN DEPTH | PSYCHOLOGY

Psychology: the man who studies everyday evil

By David Robson30th January 2015

Why are some people extraordinarily selfish, manipulative, and unkind? David Robson asks the scientist delving into the darkest sides of the human mind.

I

If you had the opportunity to feed harmless bugs into a coffee grinder, would you enjoy the experience? Even if the bugs had names, and you could hear their shells painfully crunching? And would you take a perverse pleasure from blasting an innocent bystander with an excruciating noise?

These are just some of the tests that Delroy Paulhus uses to understand the “dark personalities” around us. Essentially, he wants to answer a question we all may have asked: why do some people take pleasure in cruelty? Not just psychopaths and murderers – but school bullies, internet trolls and even apparently upstanding members of society such as politicians and policemen.

It is easy, he says, to make quick and simplistic assumptions about these people. “We have a tendency to use the halo or devil framing of individuals we meet – we want to simplify our world into good or bad people,” says Paulhus, who is based at the University of British Columbia in Canada. But while Paulhus doesn’t excuse cruelty, his approach has been more detached, like a zoologist studying poisonous insects – allowing him to build a “taxonomy”, as he calls it, of the different flavours of everyday evil.

Self-regard

Paulhus’s interest began with narcissists – the incredibly selfish and vain, who may lash out to protect their own sense of self-worth.  Then, a little more than a decade ago, his grad student Kevin Williams suggested that they explore whether these self-absorbed tendencies are linked to two other unpleasant characteristics – Machiavellianism (the coolly manipulative) and psychopathy (callous insensitivity and immunity to the feelings of others). Together, they found that the three traits were largely independent, though they sometimes coincide, forming a “Dark Triad” – a triple whammy of nastiness.

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It is surprising how candid his participants can often be. His questionnaires typically ask the subjects to agree with statements such as “I like picking on weaker people” or “It’s wise not to tell me your secrets”. You would imagine those traits would be too shameful to admit – but, at least in the laboratory, people open up, and their answers do seem to correlate with real-life bullying, both in adolescence and adulthood. They are also more likely to be unfaithful to their spouses (particularly those with Machiavellian and psychopathic tendencies) and to cheat on tests.

Even so, since Paulhus tends to focus on everyday evil rather than criminal or psychiatric cases, the traits are by no means apparent on the first meeting. “They are managing in everyday society, so they have enough control not to get themselves into trouble. But it catches your attention here or there.” People who score particularly high on narcissism, for instance, quickly display their tendency to “over-claim” – one of the strategies that helps them boost their own egos. In some experiments, Paulhus presented them with a made up subject and they quickly confabulated to try to appear like they knew it all – only to get angry when he challenged them about it. “It strikes you that yes, this fits into a package that allows them to live with a distorted positive view of themselves.”

Born nasty

Once Paulhus had begun to open a window on these dark minds, others soon wanted to delve in to answer some basic questions about the human condition. Are people born nasty, for instance? Studies comparing identical and non-identical twins suggest a relatively large genetic component for both narcissism and psychopathy, though Machiavellianism seems to be more due to the environment – you may learn to manipulate from others. Whatever we’ve inherited cannot take away our personal responsibility, though. “I don’t think anyone is born with psychopathy genes and then nothing can be done about it,” says Minna Lyons at the University of Liverpool.

You only need to look at the anti-heroes of popular culture – James Bond, Don Draper or Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street – to realize that dark personalities have sex appeal, a finding supported by more scientific studies. Further clues to the benefits might come from another basic human characteristic – whether you are a morning or evening person. Lyons and her student, Amy Jones found that “night owls” – people who stay up late but can’t get up in the morning – tend to score higher on a range of dark triad traits. They are often risk-takers – one of the characteristics of psychopathy; they are more manipulative – a Machiavellian trait – and as narcissists, they tend to be exploitative of other people. That might make sense if you consider our evolution: perhaps dark personalities have more chance to steal, manipulate, and have illicit sexual liaisons late while everyone else is sleeping, so they evolved to be creatures of the night.

Whatever the truth of that theory, Paulhus agrees there will always be niches for these people to exploit. “Human society is so complex that there are different ways of enhancing your reproductive success – some involve being nice and some being nasty,” he says.

Dark corners

Recently, he has started probing even further into the darkest shadows of the psyche.  “We were pushing the envelope, asking more extreme questions,” he says – when he found that some people will also readily admit to inflicting pain on others for no other reason than their own pleasure. Crucially, these tendencies are not simply a reflection of the narcissism, psychopathy or Machiavellianism, but seem to form their own sub-type – “everyday sadism”. For this reason, Paulhus now calls it a “dark tetrad”.

The “bug crushing machine” offered the perfect way for Paulhus and colleagues to test whether that reflected real life behaviour. Unknown to the participants, the coffee grinder had been adapted to give insects an escape route – but the machine still produced a devastating crushing sound to mimic their shells hitting the cogs. Some were so squeamish they refused to take part, while others took active enjoyment in the task. “They would be willing not just to do something nasty to bugs but to ask for more,” he says, “while others thought it was so gross they didn’t even want to be in the same room.” Crucially, those individuals also scored very highly on his test for everyday sadism.

Arguably, a rational human being shouldn’t care too much about bugs’ feelings. But the team then set up a computer game that would allow the participants to “punish” a competitor with a loud noise through their headphones. This wasn’t compulsory; in fact, the volunteers had to perform a tedious verbal task to earn the right to punish their competitor – but, to Paulhus’s surprise, the everyday sadists were more than happy to take the trouble. “There wasn’t just willingness to do it but a motivation to enjoy, to put in some extra effort to have the opportunity to hurt other individuals.” Importantly, there was no provocation or personal gain to be had from their cruelty – the people were doing it for pure pleasure.

Troll tracking

He thinks this is directly relevant to internet trolls. “They appear to be the internet version of everyday sadists because they spend time searching for people to hurt.” Sure enough, an anonymous survey of trollish commentators found that they scored highly on dark tetrad traits, but particularly the everyday sadism component – and enjoyment was their prime motivation. Indeed, the bug-crushing experiment suggested that everyday sadists may have more muted emotional responses to all kinds of pleasurable activities – so perhaps their random acts of cruelty are attempts to break through the emotional numbness.

More immediately, his discoveries have attracted the attention of police and military agencies, who want to collaborate with Paulhus to see if his insights might explain why some people abuse their positions.  “The concern is that these people might deliberately select jobs where you are given the mandate to hurt individuals,” he says. If so, further work might suggest ways to screen out the dark personalities at recruitment.

(Getty Images)

He’s also excited about new work on “moral Machiavellianism” and “communal narcissists” – people who perhaps have dark traits but use them for good (as they see it). In some situations, ruthlessness may be necessary. “To be prime minister, you can’t be namby pamby – you need to cut corners and hurt people, and even be nasty to achieve your moral causes,” he says. After all, the dark personalities often have the impulse and the confidence to get things done –even Mother Theresa apparently had a steely side, he says. “You’re not going to help society by sitting at home being nice.”

All of which underlines the false dichotomy of good and evil that Paulhus has been keen to probe. In a sense, that is a personal as much as a professional question. He admits to seeing a dark streak in his own behaviour: for example, he enjoys watching violent, painful sports like Mixed Martial Arts. “It didn’t take long to see I would stand above average on these dark traits,” he says. “But given my abiding curiosity as a scientist and my enjoyment of investigating such things – I thought that perhaps I was in a good position to take a closer look at the dark side.”

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By Alex O’Brien17th May 2021

When amateur player Alex O’Brien unexpectedly won an online poker tournament, little did she know that she’d be pitted against one of the game’s most controversial players. A stellar team of poker pros offered to train her, and she discovered how poker can transform how you see the world.

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One dark December afternoon, a message on my phone lit up like a warning signal.

“Are you in?”

This was the third time in two days that Philipp Kiefel, my poker coach, had asked me to sign up to play in a specific online tournament. It had a whopping first prize of $10,000 (£7,000/€8,250), and he thought it would be good practice. I’m a science writer, not a professional player, and had taken up the game initially as a hobby, but then started to study it in earnest to help me research a non-fiction book about how poker can enhance your critical thinking.

However, I was out collecting my daughter from school, and nowhere near my laptop.

“Picking up Ava,” I replied.

I felt guilty, but I had no interest in playing that day.

“You have 26mins before late registration closes,” he insisted.

“Will make it,” I capitulated.

Walking home was no longer an option, so Ava and I jumped in a cab and got home with just a few minutes to spare. She went to her room to play with her Lego and I sat down at the kitchen table to play with some strangers online – totally unaware of the impact it was about to have on my life.

That day, I would beat 1,666 other players to win the tournament and take the $10,000 prize.

My unexpected victory was just the beginning. Over the course of the following months, I would be pitted against a controversial player I had never met, notorious for his bombastic Instagram lifestyle and negative comments about women. I would be thrust into 15 minutes of fame in the poker media, drawn into the wider issue of sexism in the game. And I would be offered training by some of the world’s best poker coaches – idols of mine who have won millions of dollars through their skills, and who would go on to become friends. Along the way, the experience taught me how to think differently about the game – and the wider world, too. It elevated my mindset in a way that I started to see everything differently. And it all began at my kitchen table that December afternoon.

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For the past few years, I’ve been working on a book about the mental upsides of playing poker. In the process of writing, I realised that I would need to include my own experiences, and show my reader I know what it takes to play and win. But I’m just an amateur player. I enjoy the game the way some people love yoga or running. So, like many of those people, I got myself a coach – Kiefel, a German online poker pro.

The online tournament that he had encouraged me to play was called a “freeroll” – and this was one reason why I had been reluctant to sign up. Since there’s no entry fee, what tends to happen in a freeroll is that most players will undervalue their chips, play with little care and just spew off their stack. They perfectly display human psychology in action: give people something for free and they will value it less than something that they paid for. I had no desire to waste my time playing in what I believed would be a game of chance. Kiefel however had a different view. Playing with players who were less invested, he said, was a good thing: “Play your game and you will crush them”. And crush them I did.

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The author of this article, Alex O’Brien, playing poker before the pandemic (Credit: partypoker)

Ten seconds and four high-pitched OhMyGods after the win, I was on the phone to him. The grin stretched all over his words: “See what happens when you play rested and with focus?” He deserved to gloat. This victory was as much his as it was mine. He had never given up on me even though for nearly a year I repeatedly kept breaking his cardinal rule – don’t play when tired, stressed or distracted. I had been all of those things, just like any working parent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament was over within three and a half hours, in time for bedtime stories. The story that night was called “How Mommy won”, which concluded with us both jumping up and down on the bed and her getting the Ninjago Lego set she’d had been asking for. Tonight we were both going to sleep happy – or so I believed.

We are told not to check our email before bedtime, but I did. Later that night, there was an email from GGPoker, the online platform that had hosted the tournament: “What an incredible achievement, beating such a huge field of players!” They’d be in touch to arrange the “heads-up match” with Dan Bilzerian. Wait, what? Who? What heads-up match? When? Kiefel was baffled too. What we did know was a heads-up game can be a bigger deal. These are essentially aggressive duels, played one-to-one, and usually involve high stakes.

Just what had I let myself in for? And who even was Dan Bilzerian?

I didn’t have to wait long for answers. They came at me in a Twitter storm. One post that particularly stood out was from a female online poker pro called Vanessa Kade. She wrote that it was “hilarious and perfect” that a woman (me) had won the tournament to face Bilzerian, given his past comments on social media about female poker players. In a now-deleted tweet in 2017, he had told the poker pro Cate Hall that: “I want to bet against you because you are a woman and women can’t play poker.”

Another tweet, from a poker coach based in the US, was directly addressing me:

“..sincere congrats, and NOT a dig on you personally in any form. Hoping that you can use this opportunity for the good in the efforts for decency, respect, and systemic inclusion for women in poker.”

Just what had I let myself in for? And who even was Dan Bilzerian?

In all the years of watching poker, reading up on events and learning about players, I had never heard his name, let alone met him. Yet just a few days before the tournament he had been made one of the ambassadors for GGPoker. I was also unaware of the controversy that had unfolded with his appointment. It had been set off by an online spat between him and Kade. “The idea that this guy is being validated as the face of poker really sucks,” Kade had tweeted. Bilzerian, bolstered by the might of his tens of millions of followers, fired back: “Quiet hoe, nobody knows who you are.” So ensued a contentious narrative that would repeatedly flare up and take hold of the poker world for months.

Dan Bilzerian poses with a cigar and six women at a casino in Las Vegas (Credit: Alamy)

Bilzerian is not a professional poker player and his claims of winning tens of millions playing poker are hard to verify. In fact browsing through his Instagram feed you’d be hard pushed to find much poker content. What you will see is a display of guns and girls. In one shot he is standing bare-chested in a red car wearing red shorts and a Santa’s cape surrounded by seven women in boudoir lingerie. In the next, he’s posing with military style weaponry, and in another, playing chess with giant wads of cash either side of the board – a post he captioned “A game of kings”. But it’s his words that have attracted the most criticism. “Women are like dog shit, the older they get the easier they are to pick up,” he once tweeted.  And in 2017, he posted on Twitter: “It’s national Women’s Day, be thankful, they are good for so many things!” alongside an image of him in a hot tub with four barely clad women and a half-naked fifth bent over while he ate a meal from her back. The backlash was significant enough to be picked up in the UK tabloids. (Bilzerian did not respond to BBC Future’s requests for comment about the views expressed in his social media posts and the criticisms that followed.)

So when the news broke that a woman was now due to face Bilzerian in a heads-up match, it travelled like wildfire and the narrative took off on its own. Within days of my freeroll tournament win, I was profiled by PokerNews.com. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted any of it. 

I also had a bigger problem: I didn’t know how to play heads-up poker. It’s a completely different game. You can’t hide in heads-up play. You either fold and lose, or you have to try to win the hand. In multi-player games, you can be more selective, but in heads-up you are forced to play all types of hands – even those that you’d normally discard without a second thought. If you are not aggressive, you will have a tough time. And crucially, it requires you to have a much more precise understanding of the game and its subtleties.

While I was worrying about my lack of skill, the online chatter continued and expectations grew. One person suggested I give the money back. This sudden exposure made me feel like a trapped animal.

Professional poker player Jennifer Shahade is also grandmaster chess player (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Sometimes when you’re in trouble, others will leap in to help. And that is exactly what Jennifer Shahade did. I had met the grandmaster chess player a year prior in her home city of Philadelphia, where I interviewed her about pattern recognition and strategic thinking for my book. We had known each other for only two hours, yet she took the leap that declared: “I am on your team”. Shahade, who is also an ambassador for the poker website PokerStars, had seen the news but hadn’t weighed in publicly as she didn’t want to give Bilzerian even more attention, especially when many other strong voices had pointed out the negative. She told me she had been inspired by my story, and wanted me to enjoy and learn from the opportunity to play on a big stage, rather than see it as a burden or risk of getting heckled.

So, she explained, she would introduce me to a good friend of hers: a heads-up specialist and genius, who would be happy to dedicate some time to prepare me for the match. To my shock, that person was Olivier Busquet – one of the best heads-up coaches in the world. His name may not be familiar outside poker, but I can tell you that when I heard this, I felt my body contract, forcing me to take a deep breath. This was a pro I did not need to look up. I had watched him play on TV numerous times, listened to him commentate poker games and had seen him win big – he has made millions of dollars. And now Busquet was going to coach me. Even Kiefel was stunned (and thankfully also excited). 

Training with Busquet would show me how the most successful poker players think – and along the way, I would learn a few things about my own mindset too.

Thinking imperfectly

With a perfect mathematics SAT score, an aptitude for numbers, a thrill for risk-taking and a highly competitive spirit, Busquet had all the requirements for becoming a successful financial trader. He had started playing poker to develop his trading skills, but became obsessed with the game instead.

Olivier Busquet, pictured earlier in his career, is now one of the best heads-up coaches in the world (Credit: Shane Gritzinger/WireImage)

It is not unusual for traders to become poker players, and vice versa. The co-author of the Mathematics of Poker Jerrod Ankenman, for example, was a poker player before he got into trading. He found the perfect fit with Susquehanna, an international financial trading company founded by poker players. The company has an entire gaming blog dedicated to strategy, probability, science, and data analytics. The core skills traders and poker players need are practically the same, Akerman told me. Both have to diversify risk and maximize expected value by evaluating risk-to-reward, free from emotions, all while paying attention and noticing behaviors in environments of imperfect information. (Note I didn’t say “incomplete information”. That is because game theorists regard information that you don’t have, but others do as imperfect if the rules and payoffs are known to all players or incomplete if the rules or payoffs are unknown. Trading markets can sometimes be seen as games of incomplete information.) Ultimately, what both successful traders and poker players must be good at is probabilistic thinking.

What does that mean? Say I have a coin and I am going to flip it and ask you to make a prediction. In this situation, what most of us think of as a “prediction” is “heads” or “tails.” However, a trader or poker player would say “equally likely to be either” and act accordingly. Even though probability is a mathematical framework that is key to decision making in poker, and maths is important in the game, you don’t need to have a PhD in it to succeed in poker.

Ask Busquet what he thinks it takes to excel in poker over the long-term, and he will tell you of three core competencies you need to have: strategic thinking, emotional resilience and psychological awareness. 

Perhaps the most prevalent output from this trifecta is that poker players are less results orientated. Instead, they focus on the process. I have heard this from other professionals too. Poker pro Jamie Kerstetter told me how this mindset has benefitted her: “It means being less hard on myself when something turns out poorly, as long as I did everything I could to achieve a good outcome.”

To poker players, losing is part of a winning strategy. This may seem paradoxical, but real life is not too dissimilar to a poker game. In life, too, we can do all the right things and still lose. When Shahada and I talked over lunch in Philadelphia, she had told me that poker has taught her to think more in probabilities in all aspects of her life. The biggest risk in life, she told me, is to take no risk at all.

Professional poker player Jamie Kerstetter argues that, in poker, the process matters more than results (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

I heard a similar message from the poker pro David Lappin about the parallels to real life. Poker can provide a lesson in humility and is a good metaphor for the sort of chaotic randomness of the world, he told me. Just like life, poker isn’t rigged, even though it could feel like that sometimes. You realize your role in all the proceedings isn’t central, except to you. Lappin suggested that the grand error most people make is that they apply some sort of cosmic meaning onto events: “I think you become really kind of familiar with the idea that you don’t matter much and that’s really good because we don’t matter as a species either.” He told me he used to be a more temperamental person before poker, but through the game he has learnt to stay in control and emotionally take a middle ground, “even if everything’s going wrong”. Successful poker players don’t get distracted by their own emotional state and instead can focus on that of their opponents, and so strategize accordingly.

Thinking strategically

A second vital thing I learnt from Busquet, in my first lesson, was a mistake I was making that was stopping me building an effective strategy. Unlike chess, many people struggle to see poker as a strategic game. Non-poker players tend to assume that the main requirements for winning are to be a body language expert and good at bluffing. I blame how popular culture often uses poker as a prop to describe scenes of distress and high tension, associated with gambling. Yet there are plenty of strategic similarities between chess and poker, which is why many chess players like Shahade pick up poker and vice versa.

In our first lesson, Busquet told me of a specific move I am never to make, after I had made a bet when I shouldn’t have.

“OK. Will do,” I replied. 

“Aren’t you going to ask me why?” 

This felt like a test I had failed, which made me want to hide under a rock. What I learnt was that I wasn’t asking enough questions. Poker players ask themselves a series of questions for every single hand they play, trying to gauge “range”, which essentially means the scope of possibilities in the game ahead. What is my range? What is my opponent’s range? How do those ranges interact? And how does it affect the value of my hand? At what frequency would I bet, call or fold with my hand? 

Based on the concept that you only have partial information; poker players consider the range of all possible things that could happen. They then tally this thinking with risk assessments and the evaluation of risk and assign probabilities to it.

I realized that being able to ask the right questions when we have little information to hand, while also operating under duress, is a real skill we could all use – and not just in poker. This has been particularly clear during the Covid-19 pandemic when we all became risk assessors. All activities required us to evaluate the risk to our health, as well as gauging what risk we are willing to accept.

Dan Bilzerian looks at a branded racing car bearing his image in Richmond, Virginia (Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

No-limit Texas Hold ‘em is the most popular form of poker and it’s the one I play. In this game, each player is dealt two cards (pocket or hole cards) face down. Next there is a round of betting when players can decide to play or fold their cards. Players still remaining will see the flop. These are the first three cards of a total of five (community cards) that are dealt out face up in the middle. After that a further round of betting. Then the 4th card, called the turn is revealed. Once again, a round of betting, after which the final and 5th card, the river is revealed. Finally, one more round of betting before players still remaining in the hand will show their two cards. The winner at showdown is the player who has made the best hand using the hole cards and the cards in the middle to make the best possible five card poker hand.   

The two cards a player is dealt are also referred to as starting hands. There are 169 starting hands in No-limit Texas Hold ’em. The playability and equity of the hands you play changes depending on several variables which dictate your actions. To help with their first strategic or betting decision, some poker players refer to charts. These are models that have been mathematically calculated by a computer for every position on the poker table and the corresponding chip stack size. They are visualized as grids of 169 squares and the ranges are color coded. Memorizing these is key to understanding your own position vs your opponent’s. Understanding ranges is key to winning.

An example of the kind of chart that poker players use to study strategies (Credit: Pokercode)

Following our initial conversations, Busquet started me off with 10 charts to study that are specific to heads-up play. A lot to learn, but there was absolutely no reason to panic. I had plenty of time.

This wasn’t the first time I would be wrong. A couple of days after my first lesson, I got a call from Mel Moser, who was the marketing manager at GGPoker. She had “great news”. They would be sponsoring my entry into the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Heads-up tournament – a $10,000 buy-in event. “I hope you are excited!”, she said.

I was not. What I felt was unprepared, and out-of-my-depth. My attempt to throttle the rise of panic was futile. My attempt to feign excitement even more so.  “Oh… wow… this is …. amazing… thank you,” I replied. 

Poker’s World Series is a series of tournaments that takes place over six-to-eight weeks in Las Vegas each year. In terms of importance, it’s the “Wimbledon” of poker. Thousands of players. One goal. To win the bracelet at the WSOP main event. It’s the ultimate prize in poker. If you love this game, this is what you dream about. Never did I imagine I’d be playing my first ever WSOP event online, let alone in a format I knew nothing about. Poker figured it would be good experience to play at this level to help prepare me for the match with Bilzerian. The list of players in that tournament was a “who’s who” in high-stakes poker. These were gods. I felt like a sacrifice. 

I no longer had several weeks to prepare; I had a few days.

“You have barely scratched the surface of poker pain” – Olivier Busquet

I threw myself into training, devoting as many hours as I could, all the while juggling the pressures of work, parenting and the pandemic. Sometimes it got too much. One night in the middle of the UK’s winter lockdown, just before my daughter fell asleep, it became clear she had picked up on fears of the coronavirus: “Mommy, I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want you to die,” she said. I comforted and held her until she fell asleep, breathing calmly. I let the tears break free. Then I walked down into the kitchen and made coffee. It was 8pm. Time to study.

The next time I cried was when I crashed out of the WSOP Heads-up online event in the first round. The tournament was on 3 January, which is why, instead of joining a Zoom party with friends, I spent New Year’s Eve studying my charts until early hours in the morning. After I lost, I don’t remember how long I sat staring at the screen after I had played my final hand. The tears didn’t come straight away. First came exhaustion – I hadn’t slept more than four hours a night in days. After that came pain – I had been battling the fear of failure for days and failure had won. It hurt.

“You have barely scratched the surface of poker pain,” Busquet told me. Professionals encounter it all the time. “If I was playing the same tournament and had the same result. I would not have felt badly,” he said. It was comforting to hear him explain that losing in the first round is always possible and never unthinkable. This, I would learn, is because a professional player’s edge is intimately connected to a concept they call “variance”.

Thinking variably

You will often hear poker players use the term “variance” and “luck” to explain outcomes. In poker these two words signify important aspects. When you sit down at the tables, you sign up to achieve a certain distribution of outcomes. Your win or loss is akin a random draw from that distribution. “Variance” is a statistical computation on the (theoretical) distribution of outcomes, while “luck” is the draw from that distribution that is realized. This distribution can be influenced by several variables such as the structure of the game, your opponents’ strategy and skill, and your own. Even though I had studied intensely for days I still hadn’t covered the basics of heads-up play, let alone started thinking about this.

The 27-year-old Fedor Holz has amassed tens of millions in poker earnings (Credit: Pokercode)

The value that your hand has against that of your opponents is called “equity distribution”, the poker pro Fedor Holz told me. Holz has a reputation as a wunderkind – a title the 27-year-old deserves, given that he has amassed $40m (£28m/€33m) in earnings. He was sitting in his flat in Austria and speaking to me over Zoom for a one-on-one post game analysis session that GG had arranged for us. “The way you are thinking right now, is how most players think. It isn’t how most of the best players think,” he said.

We talked about the downsides of focusing too much on an opponent’s playing habits. Holz sees this as a weakness because it’s not based on a theoretical understanding of the perfect play. The mindset that he asked me to adopt instead is to always assume that my opponent is a very good player and therefore to always play optimal strategy. And only then am I allowed to shift from the theoretical approach to respond to the information I pick up about who I’m up against.

“The way you are thinking right now, is how most players think. It isn’t how most of the best players think” – Fedor Holz

To build a strategy to beat Dan Bilzerian, once again I needed to ask questions: how is my range plotted against his? What are the strongest hands I have and what are the strongest hands he could have? For whom is this board better? Is this card better for him or me? And by how much? Crucially, these questions are independent of an opponent’s style, and they are independent of Bilzerian. In short, his approach matters far less than my own.

Before the end of our session Holz invited me to join Pokercode, a poker coaching community he set up where players meet to discuss hands, learn from one another, and attend interactive online coaching sessions run by high-profile pros. I was blown away. The repeated generosity and support by the poker community humbled me and I didn’t know how to thank Holz. He did and told me: “Just win!”

Throughout my training, I had met so many supportive professionals like Holz, Busquet and Shahade, who were rooting for me to beat Bilzerian. For them, my experience spoke to deeper problems with gender attitudes within the industry, which many of its players have been facing up to in recent years. I realized that these poker pros who donated their time were not simply focused on how to play their own best game – they also wanted to make poker itself better.

Thinking equally

Setting aside that this complex game is super fun to play, one of the main reasons that drew me to poker in the first place was that it is a male-dominated field. I have spent my life proving that my gender doesn’t define or inhibit my abilities and skills. I intentionally use the gender-neutral form of my first name because in science writing, too, female writers encounter negative bias.

There is no reason why poker should be dominated by men. The cards are gender blind. It’s stereotypes, sexism and misperceptions that keep women from the tables, rather than ability.

Kara Scott (left) and Maria Ho, who present a poker show (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Poker still has a long way to go, but there has at least been some progress. When Kara Scott started out her career in poker and broadcasting back in 2005, poker was heavily marketed towards men in a way that left women out of the conversation completely. During the WSOP main event it wasn’t uncommon to see strip clubs set up stands outside the hall, with strippers pillow-fighting inside, and poker magazines such as Bluff would hold their annual party at a strip club. It was pretty standard for the many printed poker magazines that existed then to use women as a visual prop for men, often pictured with cards between their cleavage or poker chips on their nipples lying on a poker table.

Women have proven they not only can play, but they can win

In those days, women were used as decorative objects. In Bilzerian’s images on social media, Scott says she sees flashbacks of a time she thought poker no longer lived in. As an anchor for WSOP, who is also a sideline reporter for the event, she now presents her own poker show with fellow poker pro Maria Ho. “Nobody fell over in a faint because two women were doing a poker show together,” she told me, and is glad that today this is seen as pretty standard.

Female voices are far more prevalent and less decorative today. What’s more, women have proven they not only can play, but they can win. If you are still wondering if poker is a skill-based game, Vanessa Kade is that proof. A few weeks ago, she delivered the poker world a Cinderella story no one saw coming. Kade, who had devoted time and effort to study, was rewarded by winning the biggest online poker tournament this year and pocketing $1.5m (£1m/$1.2m) in the process. Now everyone knows who she is – including Dan Bilzerian.

Thinking next

If this was a fictional sports movie, this story would end with a blow-by-blow account of my match against Bilzerian. You’d see me struggle, battle and beat him, despite the odds, then the credits would roll. But that’s for another day, and it’s not how I choose to end my story today. Instead, I find myself reflecting on where this path had led me. When I started, it seemed like the most important thing was beating a man I’d never met, in a match I didn’t know how to play. But along the way, I’ve learnt so much more about myself, and what I value.

I know that if the cards go my way, I can beat Bilzerian. If the game goes the other way, that’s OK too. What I’ve actually won is bigger than a heads-up match: a group of poker friends who have my back and a new way of thinking about my life. From now on, I’ll always remember the lessons of my tutors: curiosity is everything, losing is a part of playing, and our opponents in life are less important than the choices we make ourselves. And you know what? I’m ready.

Alex O’Brien is a writer, and her upcoming book about the mental benefits of poker, called The Truth Detective, will be published in early 2022.

FEATURE  October 12, 2018

What Are We Like? 10 Psychology Findings That Reveal The Worst Of Human Nature

By Christian Jarrett

It’s a question that’s reverberated through the ages – are we humans, though imperfect, essentially kind, sensible, good-natured creatures? Or deep down are we wired to be bad, blinkered, idle, vain, vengeful and selfish? There are no easy answers and there’s clearly a lot of variation between individuals, but this feature post aims to shine some evidence-based light on the matter. Here in the first part of a two-part feature – and deliberately side-stepping the obviously relevant but controversial and already much-discussed MilgramZimbardo and Asch studies – we digest 10 dispiriting findings that reveal the darker and less impressive aspects of human nature:

We view minorities and the vulnerable as less than human
Through history humans have demonstrated a sickening willingness to inflict cruelty on one another. Part of the explanation may be that we have an unfortunate tendency to see certain groups – especially outsiders and vulnerable people perceived as low status – as being less than fully human. One striking example of this “blatant dehumanization” came from a small brain-scan study that found students exhibited less neural activity associated with thinking about people when they looked at pictures of the homeless or of drug addicts, as compared with higher-status individuals. Many more studies have since demonstrated subtle forms of dehumanization (in which we attribute fewer mental states to outsiders and minorities) and there have been further demonstrations of blatant dehumanization – for instance, people who are opposed to Arab immigration or in favor of tougher counter-terrorism policy against Muslim extremists tended to rate Arabs and Muslims as literally less evolved than average. Among other examples, there’s also evidence that young people dehumanize older people; and that men and women alike dehumanize.

What’s more, the inclination to dehumanize starts early – children as young as five view out-group faces (those belonging to people who live in a different city or who are of a different gender than the child) as less human than in-group faces.

We already experience schadenfreude at the age of four
That last finding is particularly dispiriting since we often look to young children to give us hope for humankind – they are seen as the sweet and innocent ones who have yet to be corrupted by the grievances of adulthood. And yet many other studies show that very small kids are capable of some less-than-appealing adult-like emotions. For instance, a study from 2013 found that even four-year-old’s seem to experience modest amounts of Schadenfreude – pleasure at another person’s distress, especially if they perceived the person deserved it (because they’d engaged in a bad deed). A more recent study found that by age six children will pay to watch an antisocial puppet being hit, rather than spending the money on stickers. Oh, and maybe you should forget the idea of children offering you unconditional kindness – by age three, they are already keeping track of whether you are indebted to them.

We believe in Karma – assuming that the downtrodden of the world must deserve their fate
On a related note, so strong is our inherent need to believe in a just world, we seem to have an inbuilt tendency to perceive the vulnerable and suffering as to some extent deserving their fate (an unfortunate flip-side to the Karmic idea, propagated by most religions, that the cosmos rewards those who do good – a belief that emerges in children aged just four). The unfortunate consequences of our just-world beliefs were first demonstrated in now classic research by Melvin Lerner and Carolyn Simmons. In a version of the Milgram set-up, in which a female learner was punished with electric shocks for wrong answers, women participants subsequently rated her as less likeable and admirable when they heard that they would be seeing her suffer again, and especially if they felt powerless to minimize this suffering. Presumably derogating the woman made them feel less bad about her dismal fate. Since then, research has shown our willingness to blame the poor, rape victims, AIDS patients and others for their fate, so as to preserve our belief in a just world. By extension, the same or similar processes are likely responsible for our subconscious rose-tinted view of rich people.

We are blinkered and dogmatic
It’s not just that we are malicious and unforgiving, we humans are worryingly close-minded too. If people were rational and open-minded, then the straightforward way to correct someone’s false beliefs would be to present them with some relevant facts. However a modern classic published in 1967 showed the futility of this approach – participants who believed strongly for or against the death penalty completely ignored facts that undermined their position, actually doubling-down on their initial view. This seems to occur in part because we see opposing facts as undermining our sense of identity. It doesn’t help that many of us are overconfident about how much we understand things, and that when we believe our opinions are superior to others, this deters us from seeking out further relevant knowledge.

We would rather electrocute ourselves than spend time in our own thoughts
Maybe if we spent a little more time in contemplation we would not be so blinkered. Sadly, for many of us, it seems the prospect of spending time in our own thoughts is so anathema we’d actually rather electrocute ourselves. This was demonstrated dramatically in a 2014 study in which 67 per cent of male participants and 25 per cent of female participants opted to give themselves unpleasant electric shocks rather than spend 15 minutes in peaceful contemplation. Although others questioned the interpretation of the results, at least one other study has shown people’s preference for electrocuting themselves over monotony, and another found cross-cultural evidence for people’s greater enjoyment of doing some activity alone rather than merely thinking (also replicated here). The gist of these findings would seem to back up the verdict of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal who stated that “All of man’s troubles come from his inability to sit quietly in a room by himself”.

We are vain and overconfident
Our irrationality and dogmatism might not be so bad were they married with some humility and self-insight, but actually most of us walk about with inflated views of our abilities and qualities, such as our driving skills, intelligence and attractiveness – a phenomenon that’s been dubbed the Lake Wobegon Effect after the fictional town where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average”. Ironically, the least skilled among us are the most prone to over-confidence (the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect). This vain self-enhancement seems to be most extreme and irrational in the case of our morality, such as in how principled and fair we think we are. In fact, even jailed criminals think they are kinder, more trustworthy and honest than the average member of the public. Our vanity manifests in other ways too: for instance, researchers believe that our preference for donating to charities that share our initials is a form of “implicit egotism”.

We are moral hypocrites
Not only do we tend to overestimate our own virtuousness, we are also inclined to moral hypocrisy. Findings in this area suggest it may pay to be wary of those who are the quickest and loudest in condemning the moral failings of others – the chances are the moral preacher is as guilty themselves, but of course they happen to take a far lighter view of their own transgressions. In one study to show this––suitably titled “The duality of virtue: Deconstructing the moral hypocrite”––researchers found that people rated the exact same selfish behaviors (giving oneself the quicker and easier of two experimental tasks on offer) as far less fair when perpetuated by others, than by themselves. Similarly, there is a long-studied phenomenon known as actor-observer asymmetry, which in part describes our tendency to attribute other people’s bad deeds, such as our partner’s infidelities, to their characters, while attributing the same deeds performed by ourselves as due to situational influences. These self-serving double-standards could even explain the common feeling that incivility is on the increase – recent research showed how we view the same acts of rudeness far more harshly when they are committed by strangers than by our friends or ourselves.

We are all potential trolls
Unfortunately, as anyone who has found themselves in a spat on Twitter will attest, social media may be magnifying some of the worst aspects of human nature, no doubt in part due to the online disinhibition effect, and the fact that anonymity (easy to achieve online) is known to increase our inclinations for immorality. While research has suggested that people who are prone to everyday sadism (which is a worryingly high proportion of us) are especially inclined to online trolling, a study published last year revealed how being in a bad mood, and being exposed to trolling by others, together double the likelihood of a person engaging in trolling – in fact, these situational factors were a stronger predictor of a person’s trolling behaviors than their individual traits, leading the researchers at Stanford and Cornell to conclude “that ordinary users will also troll when mood and discussion context prompt such behavior”. Of course this implies that initial trolling by a few can cause a snowball of increasing negativity, which is exactly what the researchers found when they studied reader discussion on CNN.com, with the “proportion of flagged posts and proportion of users with flagged posts … rising over time”.

We favor ineffective leaders with psychopathic traits
One way for us to mitigate against our human failings would be if we were inclined to choose leaders with rare virtuousness and skill. Sadly, we seem to have the opposite knack. Consider for a moment President Donald Trump. In seeking to explain his voter appeal, Dan McAdams, a professor of personality psychology, recently concluded that Trump’s overt aggression and insults have a “primal appeal”, and that his “incendiary tweets” are like the “charging displays” of an alpha male chimp, “designed to intimidate”. Trump’s supporters will disagree, but if McAdams’ assessment is true it would fit into a wider pattern – the finding that psychopathic traits are more common than average among leaders. Take a survey of financial leaders in New York that found they scored highly on psychopathic traits but lower than average in emotional intelligence. In fairness, there have been some null and contradictory findings on this topic too, but a meta-analysis (an overview of prior evidence) published this summer concluded there is indeed a modest but significant link between trait psychopathy and leadership emergence, and that this has practical implications – especially since psychopathy also correlates with poorer leadership performance.

We are sexually attracted to people with dark personality traits 
To worsen the situation, not only do we elect people with psychopathic traits to become our leaders, evidence suggests that men and women are sexually attracted, at least in the short-term, to people displaying the so-called “dark triad” of traits – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism – thus risking further propagating these traits. One study found women’s physical attraction to a man was increased when he was described as having dark traits (as self-interested, manipulative and insensitive) compared with being described in the same way (in terms of his interests and so on), but with reference to the dark traits removed. One theory is that the dark traits successfully communicate “mate quality” in terms of confidence and the willingness to take risks. Does this matter for the future of our species? Perhaps it does – another paper, from 2016, found that those women who were more strongly attracted to narcissistic men’s faces tended to have more children.

Are we doomed? One comforting caveat – most of the dating research relevant to that last item was based on European American samples and may not generalize to other cultures (in fact a study out this year found that among Asian Americans, it was those men and women with more pro-social traits who were more successful at speed dating). But then again, there is a lot more depressing research that I could not fit into this article, such as the studies showing we’re more motivated by envy than admiration, the shocking prevalence of lying (a habit we start at age two), and the manipulativeness of babies – they fake cry you know!

There seems be an attractive quality to things that are ostensibly unhealthy or dangerous. Alisusha/Shutterstock.com

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

January 8, 2019 6.39am EST

Authors

  1. Mark Canada

Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Indiana University

Professor of Psychology, Indiana University

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Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

And how many times have we learned of someone – a celebrity, a friend or a loved one – who committed some self-destructive act that seemed to defy explanation? Think of the criminal who leaves a trail of evidence, perhaps with the hope of getting caught, or the politician who wins an election, only to start sexting someone likely to expose him.

Why do they do it?

Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s greatest – and most self-destructive – writers, had some thoughts on the subject. He even had a name for the phenomenon: “perverseness.” Psychologists would later take the baton from Poe and attempt to decipher this enigma of the human psyche.

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Irresistible depravity

In one of his lesser-known works, “The Imp of the Perverse,” Poe argues that knowing something is wrong can be “the one unconquerable force” that makes us do it.

It seems that the source of this psychological insight was Poe’s own life experience. Orphaned before he was three years old, he had few advantages. But despite his considerable literary talents, he consistently managed to make his lot even worse.

He frequently alienated editors and other writers, even accusing poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of plagiarism in what has come to be known as the “Longfellow war.” During important moments, he seemed to implode: On a trip to Washington, D.C. to secure support for a proposed magazine and perhaps a government job, he apparently drank too much and made a fool of himself.

According to Edgar Allen Poe, knowing something is wrong can make it irresistible. Wikimedia Commons

After nearly two decades of scraping out a living as an editor and earning little income from his poetry and fiction, Poe finally achieved a breakthrough with “The Raven,” which became an international sensation after its publication in 1845.

But when given the opportunity to give a reading in Boston and capitalize on this newfound fame, Poe didn’t read a new poem, as requested.

Instead, he reprised a poem from his youth: the long-winded, esoteric and dreadfully boring “Al Aaraaf,” renamed “The Messenger Star.”

As one newspaper reported, “it was not appreciated by the audience,” evidenced by “their uneasiness and continual exits in numbers at a time.”

Poe’s literary career stalled for the remaining four years of his short life.

Freud’s ‘death drive’

While “perverseness” wrecked Poe’s life and career, it nonetheless inspired his literature.

It figures prominently in “The Black Cat,” in which the narrator executes his beloved cat, explaining, “I…hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart…hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin – a deadly sin that would so jeopardise my immortal soul as to place it – if such a thing were possible – even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.”

Why would a character knowingly commit “a deadly sin”? Why would someone destroy something that he loved?

Was Poe onto something? Did he possess a penetrating insight into the counterintuitive nature of human psychology?

A half-century after Poe’s death, Sigmund Freud wrote of a universal and innate “death drive” in humans, which he called “Thanatos” and first introduced in his landmark 1919 essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.”

Sigmund Freud wrote of a universal death drive, which he dubbed ‘Thanatos.’ Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA

Many believe Thanatos refers to unconscious psychological urges toward self-destruction, manifested in the kinds of inexplicable behavior shown by Poe and – in extreme cases – in suicidal thinking.

In the early 1930s, physicist Albert Einstein wrote to Freud to ask his thoughts on how further war might be prevented. In his response, Freud wrote that Thanatos “is at work in every living creature and is striving to bring it to ruin and to reduce life to its original condition of inanimate matter” and referred to it as a “death instinct.”

To Freud, Thanatos was an innate biological process with significant mental and emotional consequences – a response to, and a way to relieve, unconscious psychological pressure.

Toward a modern understanding

In the 1950s, the psychology field underwent the “cognitive revolution,” in which researchers started exploring, in experimental settings, how the mind operates, from decision-making to conceptualization to deductive reasoning.

Self-defeating behavior came to be considered less a cathartic response to unconscious drives and more the unintended result of deliberate calculus.

In 1988, psychologists Roy Baumeister and Steven Scher identified three main types of self-defeating behavior: primary self-destruction, or behavior designed to harm the self; counterproductive behavior, which has good intentions but ends up being accidentally ineffective and self-destructive; and trade-off behavior, which is known to carry risk to the self but is judged to carry potential benefits that outweigh those risks.

Think of drunk driving. If you knowingly consume too much alcohol and get behind the wheel with the intent to get arrested, that’s primary self-destruction. If you drive drunk because you believe you’re less intoxicated than your friend, and – to your surprise – get arrested, that’s counterproductive. And if you know you’re too drunk to drive, but you drive anyway because the alternatives seem too burdensome, that’s a trade-off.

Baumeister and Scher’s review concluded that primary self-destruction has actually rarely been demonstrated in scientific studies.

Rather, the self-defeating behavior observed in such research is better categorized, in most cases, as trade-off behavior or counterproductive behavior. Freud’s “death drive” would actually correspond most closely to counterproductive behavior: The “urge” toward destruction isn’t consciously experienced.

Finally, as psychologist Todd Heatherton has shown, the modern neuroscientific literature on self-destructive behavior most frequently focuses on the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with planning, problem solving, self-regulation and judgment.

When this part of the brain is underdeveloped or damaged, it can result in behavior that appears irrational and self-defeating. There are more subtle differences in the development of this part of the brain: Some people simply find it easier than others to engage consistently in positive goal-directed behavior.

Poe certainly didn’t understand self-destructive behavior the way we do today.

But he seems to have recognized something perverse in his own nature. Before his untimely death in 1849, he reportedly chose an enemy, the editor Rufus Griswold, as his literary executor.

True to form, Griswold wrote a damning obituary and “Memoir,” in which he alludes to madness, blackmail and more, helping to formulate an image of Poe that has tainted his reputation to this day.

Then again, maybe that’s exactly what Poe – driven by his own personal imp – wanted.

Beth Daley

Editor and General Manager

copyright © 2010–2021, 

RESEARCH TOPICS 

3. Humanity is at a precipice; its future is at stake

BY KATHLEEN STANSBERRY, JANNA ANDERSON AND LEE RAINIE

The following sections share selections of comments from technology experts and futurists who elaborate on the ways internet use has shaped humanity over the past 50 years and consider the potential future of digital life. They are gathered under broad, overarching ideas, rather than being tied to the specific themes highlighted above. Many of the answers touch on multiple aspects of the digital future and are not neatly boxed as addressing only one part of the story. Some responses are lightly edited for style and readability.

The cautious optimism expressed by many of the experts canvassed for this report grew out of a shared faith in humanity. Many described the current state of techlash as a catalyst that will lead to a more inclusive and inviting internet. Some of these comments are included below.

Micah Altman, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and head scientist in the program on information science at MIT Libraries, wrote, “The late historian Melvin Kranzberg insightfully observed, ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.’ In the last 50 years, the internet has been transformative and disruptive. In the next 50, information, communication and AI technology show every sign of being even more so. Whether historians of the future judge this to be good or bad will depend on whether we can make the societal choice to embed democratic values and human rights into the design and implementation of these systems.”

Juan Ortiz Freuler, a policy fellow, and Nnenna Nwakanma, the interim policy director for Africa at the Web Foundation, wrote, “Unless we see a radical shift soon, the internet as we know it will likely be recalled as a missed opportunity. History will underline that it could have been the basis for radically inclusive societies, where networked communities could actively define their collective future. A tool that could have empowered the people but became a tool for mass surveillance and population control. A tool that could have strengthened the social fiber by allowing people to know each other and share their stories, but out of it grew huge inequalities between the connected and not-connected, both locally and across countries.”

Steven Miller, vice provost and professor of information systems at Singapore Management University, said, “Overall, the future will be mostly for the better. And if it is not mostly for the better, the reasons will NOT be due to the technology, per se. The reasons will be due to choices that people and society make – political choices, choices per how we govern society, choices per how we attend to the needs of our populations and societies. These are people and political issues, not technology ones. These are the factors that will dominate whether people are better off or worse off.”

Paul Jones, professor of information science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, responded, “While the internet was built from the beginning to be open and extensible, it relies on communities of trust. As we are seeing this reliance has strong downsides – phishing, fake news, over-customization and tribalism for starters. Adding systems of trust, beginning with the promises of blockchain, will and must address this failing. Will the next internet strengthen the positives of individualism, of equality and of cooperation or will we become no more than Morlocks and Eloi? I remain optimistic as we address not only the engineering challenges, but also the human and social challenges arising. All tools, including media, are extensions of man. ‘We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us,’ as McLuhan is credited for noticing. Nothing could be more true of the next internet and our lives in relation to information access. Can we create in ways now unknown once we are less reliant on memorization and calculation? Will we be better at solving the problems we create for ourselves? I answer with an enormous ‘Yes!’ but then I’m still waiting for the personal jetpack I was promised as a child.”

Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois, Springfield, wrote, “On the scale of the discovery of fire, the wheel and cultivation of crops, the interconnection of humans will be judged as a very important step toward becoming the beings of the universe that we are destined to be.”

Charlie Firestone, communications and society program executive director and vice president at the Aspen Institute, commented, “Fifty years from now is science fiction. There really is no telling with quantum computing, AI, blockchain, virtual reality, broadband (10G?), genetic engineering, robotics and other interesting developments affecting our lives and environments…. It’s just too far ahead to imagine whether we will be in a digital feudal system or highly democratic. But I do imagine that we could be on our way to re-speciation with genetics, robotics and AI combined to make us, in today’s image, superhuman. I understand that there are many ways that the technologies will lead to worse lives, particularly with the ability of entities to weaponize virtually any of the technologies and displace jobs. However, the advances in medicine extending lives, the ability to reduce consumption of energy, and the use of robotics and AI to solve our problems are evident. And we have to believe that our successors will opt for ways to improve and extend the human species rather than annihilate it or re-speciate.”

Edward Tomchin, a retiree, said, “Human beings, homo sapiens, are a most remarkable species which is easily seen in a comparison with how far we have come in the short time since we climbed down out of the trees and emerged from our caves. The speed with which we are currently advancing leaves the future open to a wide range of speculation, but we have overcome much in the past and will continue to do so in pursuit of our future. I’m proud of my species and confident in our future.”

Garland McCoy, founder and chief development officer of the Technology Education Institute, wrote, “I hope in 50 years the internet will still be the Chinese fireworks and not become the British gunpowder.”

Angelique Hedberg, senior corporate strategy analyst at RTI International, said, “If we choose a future we want in 50 years, and work toward creating it, there is a nonzero probability we will reach a version of that future. In that vein of thought, we will see waves of platform companies that change the way we live and enjoy our lives. The platform companies that exist today will fade, as will the ones that follow. This is not because they fail, but rather, because they succeed. We will find a way to make decisions in a network of decisions. In 50 years, multiple generations of a family will gather for dinner and share sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touches, even if they are in different hemispheres, countries and time zones. You’ll be at a child’s social activity and they will hear the voices [of] all of those who love (and critique) him. You will say goodbye to aging loved ones, even if they cannot hear you. This will all happen with the assistance of technology (some embedded in our brain) that know our wants and needs better than we know our own. The definition of what it means to be human will evolve and the laws and regulation will follow, albeit in a less than direct manner. We will value governments in new and different ways, and we will expect more from our technology platforms. The deluge of data will provide new inputs into the decision models for platforms, bringing greater clarity to the short-term benefits and long-term risks, in return making the financial decisions more social, environmental and moral. Where laws and regulations can put a bottom line, they will. Where law and regulations cannot, the planet will step in and regulate the excess.”

Daniel Riera, a professor of computer science at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, commented, “Everything will be connected; automation will be everywhere; most of the jobs will be done by machines. Society will have fully changed to adapt to the new reality: Humans will need to realize the importance of sustainability and equality. In order to reach this point, technology, ethics, philosophy, laws and economics, among other fields, will have done a big joint effort. We have a very good opportunity. It will depend on us to take advantage of it. I hope and trust we will. Otherwise, we will disappear.”

Geoff Livingston, author and futurist, commented, “This is a great period of transition. The internet forced us to confront the worst aspects of our humanity. Whether we succumb or not to those character defects as a society remains to be seen.”

Brad Templeton, chair for computing at Singularity University, software architect and former president of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, responded, “It’s been the long-term arc of history to be better. There is the potential for nightmares, of course, as well as huge backlashes against the change, including violent ones. But for the past 10,000 years, improvement has been the way to bet.”

Mary Chayko, author of “Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life” and professor in the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, said, “The internet’s first 50 years have been tech-driven, as a host of technological innovations have become integrated into nearly every aspect of everyday life. The next 50 years will be knowledge-driven, as our understandings ‘catch up’ with the technology. Both technology and knowledge will continue to advance, of course, but it is a deeper engagement with the internet’s most critical qualities and impacts – understandings that can only come with time, experience and reflection – that will truly come to characterize the next 50 years. We will become a ‘smarter’ populace in all kinds of ways.”

Yvette Wohn, director of the Social Interaction Lab and expert on human-computer interaction at New Jersey Institute of Technology, commented, “Technology always has and always will bring positive and negative consequences, but the positives will be so integral to our lives that going back will not be an option. Cars bring pollution, noise and congestion but that doesn’t mean we’re going back to the horse and buggy. We find newer solutions, innovation.”

Bob Frankston, software innovation pioneer and technologist based in North America, wrote, “For many people any change will be for the worse because it is unfamiliar. On the positive side, the new capabilities offer the opportunity to empower people and provide solutions for societal problems as long as we don’t succumb to magical thinking.”

Matt Mason, a roboticist and the former director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote, “The new technology will present opportunities for dramatic changes in the way we live. While it is possible that human society will collectively behave irrationally and choose a path detrimental to its welfare, I see no reason to think that is the more likely outcome.”

Stuart A. Umpleby, a professor and director of the research program in social and organizational learning at George Washington University, wrote, “In the future people will live increasingly in the world of ideas, concepts, impressions and interpretations. The world of matter and energy will be mediated by information and context. Already our experiences with food are mediated by thoughts about calories, safety, origins, the lives of workers, etc. Imagine all of life having these additional dimensions. Methods will be needed to cope with the additional complexity.”

John Markoff, fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and author of “Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots,” wrote, “Speculation on the nature of society over timespans of half a century falls completely into the realm of science fiction. And my bet is that science fiction writers will do the best job of speculating about society a half century from now. As someone who has written about Silicon Valley for more than four decades I have two rules of thumb: technologies aren’t real until they show up at Fry’s Electronics and the visionaries are (almost) always wrong. I actually feel like the answer might as well be a coin toss. I chose to be optimistic simply because over the past century technology has improved the quality of human life.”

An executive director for a major global foundation wrote, “The internet will rank among the major technology movements in world history – like gunpowder, indoor plumbing and electricity. And like all of them (with the possible exception of indoor plumbing), its eventual weaponization should have been less of a surprise.”

Bryan Johnson, founder and CEO of Kernel, a leading developer of advanced neural interfaces, and OS Fund, a venture capital firm, said, “Humans play prediction games, but the exercise is inherently unproductive. A more useful exercise would be to think about what deeply influential technology can we invest our current time in that will give us the tools we need to thrive in such a highly complex future. Forecasting to 2050 is thought junk food. It is what people most like to daydream about, but is not what we should think about for the health of the species and planet.”

Ethics and the bigger picture loom large in the digital future

Optimistic and pessimistic respondents alike agree that human agency will affect the trajectory of digital life. Many respondents said their biggest concern is that everyone’s future in the digital age depends upon the ability of humans to privilege long-term societal advancement over short-term individual gain.

William Uricchio, media scholar and professor of comparative media studies at MIT, commented, “‘Changes in digital life’ are human-driven; technology will only amplify the social structures that created it. My pessimism ensues from the polarization of power, knowledge and wealth that characterizes much of the world at the start of the 21st century, and by the rapidly growing pressures evident in population growth and ecological degradation. Digital technologies have the capacity to be terrific enablers – but the question remains, enablers of what? Of whose vision? Of what values? These, it seems to me, are the defining questions.”

Jonathan Swerdloff, consultant and data systems specialist for Driven Inc., wrote, “In the first 50 years of connected internet, humanity rose from no access at all to always-on, connected devices on their person tracking their life signs. I expect the next 50 years will see devices shrink to tiny sizes and be integrated within our very persons. Then there will be two inflection points. The first will be a split between the technology haves and have-nots. Those who have the technology will benefit from it in ways that those who do not are unable to. The more advanced technology gets the more this will be the case. While I would like to believe in a utopic vision of AI fighting climate change and distributing food and wealth so that nobody goes hungry – the ‘Jetsons’ future, if you will – history doesn’t support that view. The second will be a moral evolution. Privacy as conceived in the era before the advent of the internet is nearly dead despite attempts by the European Union and California to hold back the tide. The amount of information people give up about their most private lives is growing rapidly. A commensurate evolution of morals to keep up with the technological developments will be required to keep up or chaos will ensue. Moral structures developed when people could hide their genetics, personal habits and lives at home are not aligned with an always-on panopticon that knows what someone is doing all day every day. Human nature is nearly immutable – morals will need to catch up…. Anything that happens in society can be magnified by technology. I hope that my pessimism is wrong. There is some evidence of the moral evolution already – Millennials and the generation behind them freely share online in ways which Boomers and Gen X look at as bizarre. Whether that will lead to a significant moral backlash in 50 years remains to be seen.”

Susan Mernit, executive director, The Crucible, and co-founder and board member of Hack the Hood, responded, “I am interested in how wearable, embedded and always-on personal devices and apps will evolve. Tech will become a greater helping and health-management tool, as well as take new forms in terms of training and educating humans. But I wonder how much humans’ passivity will increase in an increasingly monitored and always-on universe, and I wonder how much the owners and overlords of this tech will use it to segment and restrict people’s knowledge, mobility and choices. I want to believe tech’s expansion and evolution will continue to add value to people’s lives, but I am afraid of how it can be used to segment and restrict groups of people, and how predictive modeling can become a negative force.”

Charles Ess, a professor expert in ethics with the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Norway, said, “My overall sense of the emerging Internet of Things and its subsequent evolutions is of an increasing array of technologies that are ever more enveloping but also ever more invisible (advanced technology is magic, to recall Arthur C. Clarke), thereby making it increasingly difficult for us to critically attend to such new developments and perhaps re-channel or obviate them when ethically/socially indicated.”

Stavros Tripakis, an associate professor of computer science at Aalto University (Finland) and adjunct at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote, “Misinformation and lack of education will continue and increase. Policing will also increase. Humanity needs a quantum leap in education (in the broad sense) to escape from the current political and economic state. Fifty years is not enough for this to happen.”

Kenneth R. Fleischmann, an associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin School of Information, responded, “The key questions are, ‘Which individuals?’ and ‘Better/worse in which ways?’ The impacts on different people will be different, and each person will interpret these changes differently. One major factor is what people value or consider important in life. If people value privacy and they are subject to a digital panopticon then, in that way, their lives may be worse; however, they also likely value convenience, and may find substantial improvements in that regard. Different people will make that tradeoff differently depending on what they value. So, understanding the impact of the technology is not only about predicting the future of technology, it is also about predicting the future of what we value, and these two considerations are of course mutually constitutive, as technologies are shaped by values, and at the same time, over time (especially generations), technologies shape values.”

Justin Reich, executive director of MIT Teaching Systems Lab and research scientist in the MIT Office of Digital Learning, responded, “Shakespeare wrote three kinds of plays: the tragedies where things got worse, the comedies where things got better, and the histories, with a combination of winners and losers. Technological advances do little to change net human happiness, because so much of happiness is determined by relative comparisons with neighbors. The primary determinants of whether life for people improves will be whether we can build robust social institutions that distribute power widely and equally among people, and whether those institutions support meaningful relationships among people.”

Michiel Leenaars, director of strategy at NLnet Foundation and director of the Internet Society’s Netherlands chapter, responded, “What the internet will look like in 50 years will greatly depend on how we act today. Tim Berners-Lee in his 2018 Turing speech referred to the current situation as ‘dystopian,’ and this seems like an adequate overall description. The industry is dominated by extremely pervasive but very profitable business practices that are deeply unethical, driven by perverse short-term incentives to continue along that path. A dark mirror version of the internet on an extractive crash course with democracy and the well-being of humanity at large itself. That is a future I’m not very eager to extrapolate even for another 10 years. My target version of the internet in 50 years – the one I believe is worth pursuing – revolves around open source, open hardware, open content as well as in helping people live meaningful lives supported by continuous education and challenging ideas. Permissionless innovation is a necessary precondition for serving the human potential, but so are critical reflection and a healthy social dialogue avoiding personalized bubbles, AI bias and information overload. The openness of the web and the mobile ecosystem in particular are abysmal, and attention and concentration are endangered human traits. But that can be reversed, I believe. Every day we can start to re-imagine and re-engineer the internet. The information age can and should be an era that brings out the best in all of us, but this will not happen by itself. So, I hope and believe the internet in 50 years is going to be as challenging as the early internet – and hard work for many people that want to see this future emerge.”

Simon Biggs, a professor of interdisciplinary arts at the University of Edinburgh, said, “Given our history as a species, and our current behavio with the internet, I suspect that our activities (within a more advanced form of the internet) will consist of virtual simulated sex (in the form of interactive pornography – so not really sex but power-play) and killing virtual players in massive online gaming environments (more power-play). In that sense things will be similar to how they are now. Given current trends it is likely that the internet will no longer be ‘the internet,’ in the sense that it was intended as the network of all networks. Networked information and communications technology will be territorialized, broken up and owned, in walled environments (this process is already well advanced). Access will be privileged, not for the consumer but for the producer. The first period of the internet was marked by a democratization of access to the means of production, but this will not be the case in the future. The vast bulk of internet users will be passive consumers who are offered an illusion of agency in the system to deliver them as a resource to those who profit from consumer playbour. We already see this with Facebook and other companies. The manner in which user data from Facebook and elsewhere has been exploited in the democratic process to affect the outcomes to the benefit of those paying for the data is indicative of where the internet is going. I expect the internet to be far more pervasive than it is today, our experience of our lived life mediated at all times. The only question is to what degree our experiential life will be mediated. I suspect it will be more or less total by 2030. Primarily, my reasoning is predicated on the expectation that human behaviour will lead to negative consequences flowing from our technological augmentation. These consequences could be quite severe. Do I think our survival as a species is threatened by our technological evolution? Yes. Do I think we will survive? Probably, because we are a tenacious animal. Do I think it will be worth surviving in a world like that? Probably not. Do I think the world would be better off if, as a species, we were to not survive? Absolutely. That is one thing we might hope for – that we take ourselves out, become extinct. Even if we are replaced by our machines the world is likely to be a better place without us.”

Robert Bell, co-founder of Intelligent Community Forum, had a different view from Biggs, predicting, “We created something that became a monster and then learned to tame the monster.”

Jeff Johnson, computer science professor at the University of San Francisco, previously with Xerox, HP Labs and Sun Microsystems, responded that it is important to take a broader view when assessing what may be coming next. He wrote, “Technological change alone will not produce significant change in people’s lives. What happens alongside technological change will affect how technological change impacts society. The future will bring much-improved speech-controlled user interfaces, direct brain-computer interfaces, bio-computing, advances in AI and much higher bandwidth due to increases in computer power (resulting from quantum computing). Unless national political systems around the world change in ways to promote more equitable wealth distribution, the future will also bring increased stratification of society, fueled by loss of jobs and decreased access to quality education for lower socio-economic classes. Finally, rising sea levels and desertification will render large areas uninhabitable, causing huge social migrations and (for some) increased poverty.”

An associate professor of computer science at a U.S. university commented, “Humans have adapted poorly to life in a technological society. Think of obesity, time wasted on low-quality entertainments, addictions to a whole range of drugs and more. As the noise in the information stream increases, so does the difficulty for the average person to extract a cohesive life pattern and avoid the land mines of dangerous or unhealthy behaviors. Genetics, cultural change, social and legal structures do not change exponentially, but aggregate knowledge does. This mismatch is a crucial realization. As Reginald Bretnor noted in ‘Decisive Warfare,’ kill ratios for weapons not only increase, but so does their ability to be wielded by the individual. So it is with most things in a technologically advanced society. But have people cultivated the requisite wisdom to use what is available to better themselves? Looking at American society, I would generally conclude not.”

The chief marketing officer for a technology-based company said, “I am all-in for innovation and improving the standard of living for all humanity. However … we need to become more vigilant about our fascination with technology and self-indulgence. Yes, it does paint a darker picture and forces a more cautious approach, but some of us are required to do this for the sake of a more balanced and fair future for all humanity. I’m one of the lucky ones, born in Europe with a very high standard of living. Same goes for the people behind this research. Let’s be vigilant of our actions and how we shape the future. We have been in a constant battle with nature and resources for the past 100 years. In historical terms it was a momentous leap forward in education, connectivity, traveling, efficiency, etc. But, at the same time, we are all committing an environmental suicide and behave like there is no tomorrow – only the instant pleasure of technology. There will not be a tomorrow if we continue to ignore the cause and effect of our unipolar obsession with technology and self-indulgence.”

Miguel Moreno-Muñoz, a professor of philosophy specializing in ethics, epistemology and technology at the University of Granada, Spain, said, “Mobility and easy access to affordable databases and service platforms for most citizens will become more important; e-government systems, transparency and accountability will be improved. The development of certain applications, if paralleled by the development of new types of intellectual property licensing and management systems, can revolutionize education and access to knowledge and culture. But this requires an open framework for international cooperation, which in many ways is now under threat.”

Sam Gregory, director of WITNESS and digital human rights activist, responded, “My perspective comes from considering the internet and civic activism. We are at a turning point in terms of whether the internet enables a greater diversity of civic voices, organizing and perspectives, or whether it is largely a controlled and monitored surveillance machine. We are also swiftly moving toward a world of pervasive and persistent witnessing where everything is instantly watched and seen with ubiquitous cameras embedded in our environment and within our personal technologies, and where we are able to engage with these realities via telepresence, co-presence and vicarious virtual experience. This is a double-edged sword. The rise of telepresence robots will enable us to experience realities we could never otherwise physically experience. This remote experiencing has the potential to enable the best and the worst in our natures. On the one hand, we will increasingly have the ability to deliberately turn away from experiencing the unmitigated pain of the world’s suffering. We might do this for the best of reasons – to protect our capacity to keep feeling empathy closer to home and to exercise what is termed ‘empathy avoidance,’ a psychological defense mechanism which involves walling ourselves up from responding emotionally to the suffering of others. We may also enter the middle ground that Aldous Huxley captured in ‘Brave New World,’ where narcotizing multisensory experiences, ‘feelies,’ distract and amuse rather than engage people with the world. Here, by enabling people to experience multiple dimensions of others’ crises viscerally but not meaningfully, we perpetuate existing tendencies in activism to view other people’s suffering as a theatrum mundi played out for our vicarious tears shed in the safety of our physically walled-off and secure spaces. On the other hand, we will increasingly be presented with opportunities through these technologies to directly engage with and act upon issues that we care about. As we look at the future of organizing and the need to better support on-the-ground activism, this becomes critical to consider how to optimize. We also have a potential future where governments will thoroughly co-opt these shared virtual/physical spaces, turning virtual activism into a government-co-opted ‘Pokémon Go,’ a human-identity search engine, scouring virtual and physical spaces in search of dissidents. In a brighter future, virtual/physical co-presence has the exciting potential to be a massive amplifier of civic solidarity across geographical boundaries, defying the power of national governments to unjustly dictate to their citizens.”

Marc Rotenberg, director of a major digital civil rights organization, commented, “There is no question that the internet has transformed society. We live in a world today far more interconnected than in the past. And we have access almost instantaneously to a vast range of information and services. But the transformation has not been without cost. Concentrations of wealth have increased. Labor markets have been torn apart. Journalism is on the decline, and democratic institutions are under attack. And there is a growing willingness to sacrifice the free will of humanity for the algorithms of machine. I do not know if we will survive the next 50 years unless we are able to maintain control of our destinies.”

Adam Popescu, a writer who contributes frequently to the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, Vanity Fair and the BBC, wrote, “Either we’ll be in space by then, or back in the trees. Pandora’s box may finally burn us. No one knows what will happen in five years, let alone 50. It’s now obvious that the optimism with which we ran headfirst into the web was a mistake. The dark side of the web has emerged, and it’s come bringing the all-too-human conditions the web’s wunderkinds claimed they would stamp out. Given the direction in the last five years, the weaponization of the web, it will go more and more in this direction, which ultimately means regulation and serious change from what it is now. Maybe we won’t be on the web at all in that period – it will probably be far more integrated into our day-to-day lives. It’s a science fiction film in waiting. With email, constant-on schedules and a death of social manners, I believe we have reached, or are close to, our limit for technological capacity. Our addictions to our smartphones have sired a generation that is afraid of face-to-face interaction and is suffering in many ways psychologically and socially and even physically in ways that we’ve yet to fully comprehend. This will impact society, not for the better. Manners, mood, memory, basic quality of life – they’re all affected negatively.”

Policy changes today will lay the foundation of the internet of tomorrow

Many respondents to this canvassing described the next several years as a pivotal time for government regulation, adjustments in technology company policies and other reforms. They say such decisions being made in the next few years are likely to set the course for digital life over the next half century. Some warn that regulation can be more harmful than helpful if its potential effects are not carefully pre-assessed.

Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, responded, “I see two paths over the next 50 years. On the first path, power continues to consolidate in the hands a few companies and countries. The world ends up balkanized, organized into blocks, and societies are highly controlled and unequal. On the other path, we recognize that the current consolidation of power around a few platforms threatens the open global order we’ve built, and we enact laws and build technology that promotes continued competition, innovation and diversity.”

Laurie Orlov, principal analyst at Aging in Place Technology Watch, wrote, “The internet, so cool at the beginning, so destructive later, is like the introduction of the wheel – it is a basis and foundation for the good, the bad and the ugly. As the wheel preceded the interstate highway system, so the internet has become the information highway system. And, just like roads, it will require more standards, controls and oversight than it has today.”

Juan Ortiz Freuler and Nnenna Nwakanma of the Web Foundation wrote, “Allowing people to increasingly spend time in digital environments can limit unexpected social encounters, which are key to the development of empathy and the strengthening of the social fibres. In a similar way that gentrification of physical neighborhoods often creates barriers for people to understand the needs and wants of others, digital environments can thicken the contours of these bubbles in which different social groups inhabit. In parallel, this process enables a great degree of power to be amassed by the actors that design and control these virtual environments. Whereas in the past there was concern with the power of media framing, in the future the new brokers of information will have more control over the information people receive and receive a steady stream of data regarding how individuals react to these stimuli. It is becoming urgent to develop processes to ensure these actors operate in a transparent way. This includes the values they promote are in line with those of the communities they serve and enabling effective control by individuals over how these systems operate. Government needs to update the institutions of democracy if it wants to remain relevant.”

Leonardo Trujillo, a research professor in computing sciences at the Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana, Mexico, responded, “I am worried that the digital ecosystems being developed today will limit people’s access to information, increase surveillance and propaganda, and push toward limiting social interactions and organization, particularly if current policy trends continue.”

Joly MacFie, president of the Internet Society’s New York Chapter, commented, “Today will be seen as an inflection point – the end on the initial ‘open’ era, and the start of the second.”

A professional working on the setting of web standards wrote, “Looking ahead 50 years, I expect that AI will either be more evenly and equitably integrated throughout societies, or that there will have been AI-driven disasters that jeopardize human and other animal life, or may have already destroyed life. On the more positive side, and focusing on medical research, I would expect AI-driven research and simulation of artificial life including cognition would have provided the tools to cure most disease, as well as to advance human capabilities through bionic augmentation. On the negative side, I would expect that AI combined with rapidly increasing capabilities of bioengineering, and with persistent socio-pathological tendencies of a small minority of the population, could have led to uncontained AI-driven cyberwarfare or biological devastation. A key determining factor differentiating these two futures might be the magnitude of social investment in a robust ethical framework for AI applications, and continued emphasis on development of a just society, with social safety nets, to help mitigate the risks of development of sociopathic behaviors that would be especially dangerous with easy access to AI.”

Benjamin Shestakofsky, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania specializing in digital technology’s impacts on work, said, “1) The ‘Uber-ization’ of everything will not proceed as rapidly, nor as evenly, as many now predict. Platform companies that facilitate the exchange of goods and services will continue to confront the reality that funneling idiosyncratic human activity through digital platforms is a complicated and costly endeavor. 2) Employers will continue to increase their use of connected technologies to monitor their workforces. However, workers will also continue to find ways to subvert employer surveillance and control. In many workplaces, employers will find it difficult to convert big data about employee activities into actionable insights. Nonetheless, legislators should act to limit the scope of employee surveillance and threats to employees’ privacy.”

A professor of information science wrote, “When I’m feeling dystopian, I see a world that looks a little too much like ‘Mr. Robot’ or ‘Person of Interest,’ with government or private organizations knowing too much about us and having too much control over us. I’d like to believe that interconnectivity could, instead, provide us with more ubiquitous access to information and with the ability to establish connections and deliver services across space and time.”

Stephen McDowell, a professor of communication at Florida State University expert in new media and internet governance, commented, “The area of law and policy is already showing some major stresses in dealing with networked connected data systems, apart from AI systems. Law and policy is often dealt with on a case-by-case and issue-by-issue basis, treating questions and legal traditions and precedents in isolation. These issues might include speech, privacy, property, informed consent, competition and security. This has weaknesses already in a networked world where large teach firms offer platforms supporting a wide range of services and track user behavior across services…. If we add systems with more learning and predictive power to this mix, it will be important to develop new concepts that go beyond the segmented approach to law and policy we are trying to use to govern internet-based interactions presently. We need to grapple with the totality of a relationship between a user and a service provider, rather than react to isolated incidents and infringements. We need to address the trade-off between offering free services and users allowing data to be collected with minimal understanding of their consent. We should also consider stronger limits on the use of personal data in machine learning and predictive modeling. Companies that automate functions to save on input costs and to allow services to be offered at scale to reap the private benefits of innovation must also take on responsibility for unintended consequences and possibilities they have created.”

Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at the University of New South Wales, Australia, said, “Like the Industrial Revolution before it, the Internet Revolution will be seen to have improved people’s social, economic and political lives, but only after regulation and controls were introduced to guard against the risks.”

Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, wrote, “The answer to this question depends totally on the willingness of regulators and politicians to rethink their ideas about antitrust policies in the digital age. If current consumer welfare standards continue to be used, the existing internet monopolies (Facebook, Google and Amazon) will get more dominant in the AI age. They would be bigger and have more data than any government or other mediating institution. They would be beyond control. They would determine our future and politics would be of little use…. I can envision a world in which technology is a boon to human progress, but it cannot come about as long as the internet is dominated worldwide by three firms (with two Chinese competitors in Asia). It is possible that the current efforts around blockchain or the new work of Tim Berners-Lee may lead to a more decentralized web. Count me as skeptical.”

Doug Schepers, chief technologist at Fizz Studio, said “The technology is less important than the laws, policies and social norms that we as a society will adopt to adapt to it.”

Randy Goebel, professor of computing science and developer of the University of Alberta’s partnership with DeepMind, wrote, “A challenge for an increasingly connected and informed world is that of distinguishing aggregate from individual. ‘For the greater good’ requires an ever-evolving notion and consensus about what the ‘greater’ is. Just like seat belt laws are motivated by a complex balance of public good (property and human costs) we will have to evolve a planet-wide consensus on what is appropriate for ‘great’ good.”

William Dutton, professor of media and information policy at Michigan State University, commented, “We are still in a transitional period, when so much of our time and effort is focused on getting connected and using technical advances. I could imagine so many devices that complicate contemporary life, such as the mobile smartphone, disappearing as they become unnecessary for accomplishing their functions. That said, the future will depend heavily on wise policy responses, even more so than technical advances.”

Luis Pereira, associate professor of electronics and nanotechnologies, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, responded, “By virtue of the interconnection of the new tools there will be widespread data collection on people, their activities, connections, the environment and the Internet of Things. There will be increased promotion of gig-economy platforms and the focused targeting of individuals with consumerism and ideology. Unless moral values and ethical rules are put in place for application designers, product sellers, data users and autonomous software and robots, people will be forced into cluster drawers. A competitive and increasing AI race for control of profits and policies will sprout, including a digital weapons race, unless a way is found to promote collaboration instead, on the basis of regulated and overseen commitments (similar to global climate agreements) for the benefit of humanity and the planet. Certification methods for software that complies with such commitments need to be developed. People will be teaching machines how to replace themselves and others at increasing levels of cognition. Security will be a major concern. Technological developments will surpass human adaptability and raise issues we do not have the wherewithal to comprehend or address.”

Hari Shanker Sharma, an expert in nanotechnology and neurobiology at Uppsala University, Sweden, said, “Technology is a tool for making life better. A goal of life is happiness, satisfaction. Both require a set of values to remain good or become evil. The internet has brought the world together. Apps are tools to perform tasks easily. The Internet of Things will connect all living and nonliving things. But the dark side of human nature – the hunger for power, possession and control that has brought wars and terrorism – cannot be corrected by the internet or apps. There is a need to identify the evil in human nature and protect the simple, good and well-meaning from becoming its prey. Evil often moves ahead of good. Perhaps it can be predicted by features that check the psychology of individuals, crime records and other past behaviors to block certain actions or warn others. Biometric identification is already used for e-security – for instance, facial recognition – and it might be possible to have bio-feature readers to detect the evil-minded or those who are likely to become evil-minded and put safety checks in place at places of danger. Expert systems for face reading, feature reading, nature reading and analysis might give warning. Trackers could be established for isolated nodes and feed details to law-enforcement agencies. No evil-monger would agree on such checks and caution, but people need to be protected from online financial fraud, rapes by social media stalkers, murders by e-system users, etc., that unchecked because no efficient warning system exists. The law today is not helpful. E-crime should be dealt with and punished without boundary. The internet needs global law and global governance to become user friendly. Global connectivity becomes a tool of criminals while those who are simply good have no power to handle evil.”

Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute and professor of strategic foresight at New York University, commented, “I hope historians’ verdict 50 years from now will be that we made the right choice in the years 2018-2020 to rethink access to the internet, data ownership and algorithmic transparency, thus setting all of humanity on a better course for the future.”

A director for an internet registry responded, “There will be ongoing radical development by which biology, at physical and molecular/genetic scales, will become integrated with digital technology. We can assume that this will be pervasive throughout society, but both the applications and the costs and conditions under which they may be accessed are unpredictable. The greatest determining factor in the overall result will be political rather than technological, with a range of outcomes between utopian and utterly dystopian.”

Andrea Romaoli Garcia, an international lawyer active in internet governance discussions, commented, “The cloud is a new world and is navigating in international waters. And because it is new, laws must follow the innovation. However, I have watched all countries make laws with their minds focused on traditional models of regulation. This is wrong. Laws must be international. The interpretation of the innovation scenario should be applied by introductory vehicles of new laws. The word ‘disruptive’ must be interpreted to apply to new laws. When we use old models of laws and only we are doing changes to force fit into the new model of doing business or everyday life, we are creating a crippled creature that moves in a disgusting way. I nominated this as a ‘jurisdicial Frankenstein.’ This means laws that will apply to the cloud environment but will never be perfect, and legal security will be threatened.”

Stuart A. Umpleby, a professor and director of the research program in social and organizational learning at George Washington University, wrote, “The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment was eliminated by Newt Gingrich in order to put companies, rather than Congress, in charge of technology. Given unrestrained advancements in digital and biological technology, we now need such an office more than ever.”

Divina Frau-Meigs, professor of media sociology at Sorbonne Nouvelle University, France, and UNESCO chair for sustainable digital development, responded, “Currently there is no governance of the internet proper. Cases like Cambridge Analytica are going to become more and more common. They will reveal that the internet cannot be entrusted uniquely to monopoly corporations and their leaders who are not willing to consider the unintended consequences of their decisions, which are mostly market-competition-driven). A global internet governance system needs to be devised, with multi-stakeholder mechanisms, that include the voices of the public. It should incorporate agile consultations on many topics so that individuals can have an influence over how their digital presence can affect, or not, their real life.”

Jennifer J. Snow, an innovation officer with the U.S. Air Force, wrote, “The internet will continue to evolve in surprising ways. New forms of governance, finance and religion will spring up that transcend physical Westphalian boundaries and will pose challenges to existing state-based governance structures. The internet will fracture again as those founders who seek to return it to its original positive uses establish and control their own ‘walled gardens,’ inviting in only a select few to join them and controlling specific portions of the Net separately from nation-states. New policy and regulations will be required to address these changes and the challenges that come with them. New types of warfare will arise from internet evolutions but also new opportunities to move society forward together in a positive manner. States will no longer have the premium on power and nonstate actors, corporations and groups will be able to wield power at the state, national and regional level in new and unexpected ways. It will be a disruptive time and dangerous if not navigated smartly but may also result in some of the greatest advances yet for humanity.”

Peng Hwa Ang, professor of communications at Nanyang Technological University and author of “Ordering Chaos: Regulating the Internet,” commented, “We know that the future is not linear, which means that to be accurate I will be painting with broad brush strokes. 1) Laws – It is finally being recognized that laws are essential for the smooth functioning of the internet. This is a sea change from the time when the internet was introduced to the public more than 20 years ago. In the future, governments will be increasingly feeling empowered to regulate the laws to their own political, cultural, social and economic ends. That is, countries will regulate the internet in ways that express their own sovereignty. There will be a large area of commonality. But there will also be a sizable area where the laws diverge across borders. 2) Within 50 years, there should be one common trade agreement for the digital economy. It is difficult to see China carrying on its own terms. Instead, it is more likely that China will allow foreign companies to operate with little censorship provided that these companies do not ‘intrude’ into the political arena. 3) It is difficult to see Facebook continuing to exist in 50 years. 4) The harm from being always on will be recognized, and so users will spend less time online. Some of the time currently spent by users will be taken over by AI bots.”

Devin Fidler, futurist and founder of Rethinkery Labs, commented, “Over the last 50 years we have built a basic nervous system. Now, the challenge is to evolve it to best support human society. A great place to start is with the many positive and negative externalities that have been documented around network deployment. Simply amplifying the positive benefits to society for network activity and curbing network activities that impose an unfunded burden on society as a whole may be a great framework for creating a networked society that lives up to the enormous potential these tools unlock. Expect increased regulation worldwide as societies struggle to balance this equation in different ways.”

David A. Banks, an associate research analyst with the Social Science Research Council, said, “The character and functionality of the internet will continue to follow the political and social whims of the major power players in the industry. If these companies continue to engage in monopolistic practices without competent and reflective regulation, then we can expect an ossified and highly commercialized digital network. If something major changes then we can expect something radically different.”

Luis German Rodriguez Leal, teacher and researcher at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and consultant on technology for development, said, “The new internet will be blended with human-machine interfaces, AI, blockchain, big data, mobile platforms and data visualization as main-driven technologies. They will set up a robust and widely accessible Internet of Things. On the other hand, these will imply a disruptive way of facing everyday activities such as education, government, health, business or entertainment, among many others. Therefore, innovative regulation frameworks are urgently required for each of them.”

Julian Jones, a respondent who provided no identifying details, said, “Data security will be vital as is privacy. It is essential that individuals can have more control over the context in which their data is used. In the absence of this legislation the consequences for society could be catastrophic.”

Fred Baker, independent networking technologies consultant, longtime leader in the Internet Engineering Task Force and engineering fellow with Cisco, commented, “I suspect that the expansion of telephone technology and law will inform this discussion. The United States’ 1934 Communications Act was designed to tame a regulated monopoly carrier and prevent the worst of what that carrier might do with the technology at its disposal. Over the past few decades, the Federal Communications Commission has tried to interpret the internet through the lens of that regulation. That has failed, for the most part, for at least two reasons. First, the internet is not a regulated monopoly. It is a set of companies trying to accomplish various things, some of which (notably Google, Facebook and their kin) have become very powerful and may require appropriate regulation or regulatory action to steer in the public interest. A law designed to regulate a monopoly, and experience with it, may inform a future law, but is not a substitute for it. Second, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] tries desperately to understand the internet to be one two things: a way to carry messages from ingress to egress without inspecting or changing them (a telecom service), or a way to access an application (an information service). It is neither, and it is both. Until we have a law that can follow that difference in service model in the internet, we will find differences between the internet as implemented and the internet as regulated.”

Jennifer Jarratt, owner of Leading Futurists consultancy, commented, “We need new regulation now that can protect users and the digital world from themselves and itself. With those we could also have a fully digital government that might be able to handle some of the planet’s big problems. Expect also new activism and new social orders. In the next 50 years, technological change will produce significant change – but maybe not as much as we expect or would like. The world will have become more difficult to live in by then, so we’d better hope tech has some answers.”

Oscar Gandy, emeritus professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, responded, “The whole notion of connectivity is bound to be redefined in the not-too-distant future. When we extend the processes through which miniaturization married with processing speed, and divorce from personal device-based memory, the possibilities for connectivity/interactivity/control, and what we mean by intelligence are beyond the ability of any but authors of science fiction novels (I guess that excludes those among us who consider themselves to be ‘futurists’). I think the most interesting possibilities are those that actually eliminate (or seem to eliminate) the need to possess devices to make use of what we currently refer to as connectivity. This means that all we need is access to the intelligent network – a level of access that will not require manual action of any kind; I can even imagine that use of this network will not even depend upon requests made vocally – thought will be enough. So, I don’t know what the requisite ‘interface’ will be, but I believe that something akin to sensors interacting with implanted chips will be commonplace, without the chips, with sensing of the brain from what we would characterize as a reasonable conversational distance from the sensor(s) would be sufficient. Of course, for a privacy scholar, this is quite a leap from our present thinking about access to and control over our private thoughts. This will, therefore, be an area of much work with regard to law, regulation and control of these developments and their use by others for specified legitimate purposes.”

Jennifer King, director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, said, “The last 10 years have demonstrated the risks with unleashing the internet on society with little accounting for public responsibility. I predict in Western democracies, we will see a greater push for more regulation and corporate responsibility for the effects of technology. In totalitarian states, we will see concentrated social control through technology. And across the board, I suspect it will become increasingly difficult to live a life outside of the reach of technology.”

Tracey P. Lauriault, assistant professor of critical media and big data in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University, commented, “We are already seeing platform convergence and the resale of platform data to third parties with whom we do not have a direct relationship. We already know that data brokerage firms are not regulated and there is very little regulation when it comes to credit scoring companies. In addition, we are already beginning to see erroneous social science hiding behind algorithms, not unlike what we saw at the beginning of the Enlightenment, and we have not even begun to address the social-technical and political outcomes of junk AI/social sciences (i.e., finding gay people or criminals in facial recognition – harkening on the bad old days of eugenics and skull measuring). The European Union’s General Data-Protection Regulation on the right to access information will help, but, for the moment, there is little individual and aggregate protection. Also, will private sector companies who aggregate, buy and sell our data, who create individual data shadows or data doppelgangers that become our representatives in this data world, know more about us than we know about ourselves? What influence will they have on larger political decision-making? Decision-making over our lives? How do we correct these systems when they are wrong? How do we adjudicate and context egregious ‘data-based decisions’ in the courts with current intellectual property law? And what of personal sovereignty and state sovereignty? What of other decision-making systems such as social scores in China? How with the poor, elderly and disabled be protected from automated decision-making about social welfare and supports if they do not have assurances that the decision-making about them are correct? And what of junk coding that persists and does not get removed and just keeps generating bad decisions? Who audits? Who is accountable? And will these become the new governors? The future is here and we do not know how to deal with it. The EU is beginning to address these and holding these companies to account, but our citizens in North America are not as well versed, and arguably, our governors seem generally less interested in our well-being, or perhaps are more ignorant of the implications.”

Andreas Kirsch, a fellow at Newspeak House, formerly with Google and DeepMind in Zurich and London, wrote, “Regulation will force open closed platforms. Information will flow more freely between services. Internet services will become more decentralized again as network bandwidths will not be sufficient for the data volumes that users will produce by then. Applications and services will not be coupled to devices anymore but will follow us freely between different contexts (shared car, home, work, mobile devices).”

ere Are The 7 Bloody Events That Made The 20th Century So Violent

How genocide and human depravity drove history’s bloodiest century

Charles Stephen

Sep 24, 2020 · 

26–2–1992 Khojaly Genocide of 20th century — Image by Public Domain

There’s an irony surrounding the 20th century. Believe it or not, it began with a strong sense of hope and promise. There were several notable technological and industrial advances afoot, and it seemed that humankind was on the cusp of a new golden age.

Many scholars believe this hopeful vision was perhaps one of the reasons the 20th century became so violent. According to them the promise of a better society made people too hopeful, and therefore, too vulnerable.

After all, the 20th century saw a dramatic rise of ideological regimes promising comprehensive solutions to society’s woes — even a Utopia. Having the benefit of hindsight, we now know that this Utopian promise became a nightmare in most cases.

The 20th century was riddled with horrific activities like vicious total wars, a proliferation of concentration death camps, ethnic cleansing, and industrialized mass murder.

These atrocities were so prevalent that their death toll was over 210 million by the century’s end. Here are seven events that were crucial for this unforgivable slaughter of life — listed chronologically.

1. The Armenian Genocide (1914–1 915)

Death toll: around 1.5 million deaths

The Ashjian family, all killed in 1915 in the Armenian Genocide — Image by Public Domain

The Armenian genocide was a campaign of deportation and mass killing of Armenians in Turkey¹. These attacks were initiated by the Young Turk government, who had taken control of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War (1914–18). Since the campaign specifically targeted Armenians, most considered it to be genocide, despite objections from the Turkish government.

This internal conflict only worsened in January 1915 during the Ottoman battle of Sarıkamış against the Russians. The battle became the worst Ottoman defeat of the entire war because of harsh conditions and terrible tactical leadership.

However, the Young Turk government chose to blame this loss on Armenian treachery. All the Armenian and any non-Muslim soldiers in their army were immediately relocated to labor battalions. These disarmed Armenian soldiers were eventually murdered by Ottoman troops and became the first victims of the Armenian genocide.

After this, mass killings were carried out in several Armenian villages on the Russian border. Women and children were taken on death marches. Armenians were summarily shot, burned, and drowned in rivers.

2. Stalin’s Gulags (1922–1953)

Death toll: as high as 20 million deaths

Wall of Sorrow on the victims of Stalin’s Gulag — Image by Public Domain

One creation of depravity under Joseph Stalin was the Gulag. This was a network of forced labor camps that brought the oppressive outlook of the Soviet Union to life². These notorious terrifying prisons held millions of people during their existence.

At its peak, the Gulag system was comprised of hundreds of these labor camps, each containing 2,000 to 10,000 prisoners. To state that conditions at these prisons were inhumane is a massive understatement. Prisoners were forced to work fourteen-hour days, and they did so in harsh weather. Many of them died of disease, starvation, or just plain exhaustion — and some were openly executed. Many froze to death.

It is estimated that some twenty million people perished in Stalin’s labor camps. In addition to the harsh conditions, the prisons were incredibly overcrowded. Violence was a daily occurrence among prisoners. Most prison populations were a blend of political prisoners and hardened criminals.

3. Hitler’s Holocaust (1933–1945)

Death toll: 6 million

Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland — Image by Public Domain

Hitler’s Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder and persecution of approximately six million Jewish men, women, and children by the Nazi regime³. In 1933, when the Nazis assumed power in Germany, they embraced an ideology that regarded the German nation as racially superior to other societies. One of their main objectives was to establish an ethnically pure state.

They saw Jews as an inferior race that was a threat to the German culture. There were several reasons for this. One reason was that several Jewish people had established successful businesses in Germany when many Germans suffered from the Great Depression. Secondly, many blamed the Jews for Germany’s failures in the First World War.

During the Holocaust, German authorities began the depraved execution of prisoners in their concentration death camps. While most of these were Jewish, they also targeted and murdered other groups of people they saw as inferior. These included Germans with disabilities, Slavic peoples (Russians and Poles), and gypsies. The Nazis even executed people they saw as having questionable ideological, political, and behavioral views — such as Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

4. The Rape of Nanking (1937–1938)

Death toll: 300,000 deaths

Iwane Matsui enters Nanking — Image by Public Domain

December 1937 was a very dark month for humankind. This was when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Chinese city of Nanking — which was China’s capital at that time. Japanese troops then proceeded to slaughter 300,000 out of the city’s 600,000 citizens⁴.

This was followed by six weeks of the worst atrocities ever recorded in human history. This carnage was later coined as the ‘Rape of Nanking.’ Many consider it the most heinous act of human depravity during World War II — which included the Holocaust and Stalin’s Gulags.

After Nanking capitulated to the invaders, Japanese soldiers were given the order to ‘kill all captives.’ Furthermore, they were allowed to rape and torture the city’s citizens as they wished. This stance resulted in obscene violations of humanity in Nanking. Not only were the actions of the Japanese soldiers too hideous to even be described here, but they were also terrifying examples of how deranged and cruel humans can become.

5. Cambodia’s killing fields (1975–1979)

Death toll: around 2 million deaths

Stela of skulls, Cheung Ek Killing Fields site, near Phnom Penh, Cambodia — Image by Public Domain

The Khmer Rouge was a radical communist movement that reined over Cambodia during the years of 1975 through 1979⁵. Their power was the result of a brutal brand of guerrilla warfare. It was believed that the movement was established in 1967 as an armed wing of the Kampuchea Communist Party.

During a civil war that raged on for almost five years, the Khmer Rouge eventually migrated into the various areas of the Cambodian countryside that fell under their control. Then, in April 1975, the Khmer Rouge soldiers attacked the capital city of Phnom Penh and were able to establish a new national government for Cambodia.

Pol Pot, the military commander of the Khmer Rouge forces, suddenly became prime minister of this new Cambodian government. During the following four years, the evil reign of the Khmer Rouge over Cambodia resulted in some of the worst excesses from any Marxist government during the entire 20th century.

The Khmer Rouge were so brutal that around two million Cambodians died during their rule. Pot ensured that all members of Cambodia’s professional and technical class were murdered to minimize any potential retaliation.

The Khmer Rouge government was finally overthrown in 1979, as Vietnamese troops invaded the country. They then temporarily installed a puppet government in order to establish order.

6. Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992–1995)

Death toll: 200,000 deaths

Gravestones at the Potočari genocide memorial near Srebrenica — Image by Public Domain

The tension within the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina arose from conflicts between their three major ethnic groups. These were the Croats, the Serbs, and the Muslims. Unrest ultimately reached a boiling point when the Serbian genocide was committed against the Muslims in Bosnia⁶.

These tensions had been developing for a long time when a Serbian named Slobodan Milosevic rose to power during the 1980s. He was a former Communist who promoted nationalism and religious hatred to amass power. From the very start, he inflamed long-standing disagreements and tensions between Muslims and Serbs within the independent province of Kosovo.

Then, during 1991, a new Croatian government, under the leadership of Franjo Tudjman, seemed to follow the old Mussolini style fascism. This new government even established discriminatory laws intended to target Orthodox Serbs. However, by the year’s end, a United States sponsored cease-fire pact was brokered between the Croats and Serbs who were fighting in Croatia.

However, in April of 1992, the United States, and the European Community recognized Bosnia’s independence. At that time, Bosnia was primarily a Muslim nation where Serbs made up 32% of the total population.

Milosevic answered Bosnia’s new independence with an attack on Sarajevo, the capital city, the same city that had hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. Sarajevo soon became a city infested with Serbian snipers who continually shot down helpless civilians in the streets, even killing some 3,500 children.

The Muslims of Bosnia were incredibly outgunned. As the Serbs obtained new ground, they started rounding up Muslims — much the same way that the Nazis had done during World War II. The Serbs engaged in mass shootings, forced the repopulation of entire towns and villages, and placed men and boys in concentration camps.

The Serb’s actions were quickly labeled as an ‘ethnic cleansing,’ which was a term that caught on and is still used today by the international media.

7. Rwanda’s genocide (1994)

Death toll: around 1 million deaths

Monument over Mass Grave. Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site, Kicukiro District. Kigali, Rwanda — Image by Public Domain

When the 1994 Rwandan genocide broke out, members from the Hutu ethnic majority, located in the east-central African country of Rwanda, executed as many as one million people, primarily from the Tutsi minority⁷. This bloody genocide spread throughout the nation with shocking speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were instructed by local officials to take up arms and attack their neighbors.

By the time a Rwandese Patriotic Front, led by the Tutsis, recovered control of the nation, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans lay dead due to the attacks. There were also about two million refugees that had fled Rwanda, which only exacerbated this immense humanitarian crisis.

These violent activities were sparked on April 6, 1994, when an airplane carrying Habyarimana, president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of Burundi, got shot down over the city of Kigali and leaving no survivors. Within an hour after the deadly plane attack, the Presidential Guard, along with various Rwandan armed forces, set up barricades and roadblocks and started slaughtering Tutsi’s at will.

These mass killings quickly spread from Kigali to the rest of Rwanda. Government-sponsored media and radio stations began urging Rwandan civilians to execute their neighbors. Three months later, around one million citizens had been slaughtered.

Sources

[1]: Ronald Grigor Suny. Armenian Genocidehttps://www.britannica.com/event/Armenian-Genocide.

[2]: History.com. (March 23, 2018). Gulaghttps://www.history.com/topics/russia/gulag.

[3]: United States Holocaust Museum. (February 4, 2019). Documenting Numbers of Victims of the Holocaust and Nazi Persecutionhttps://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/documenting-numbers-of-victims-of-the-holocaust-and-nazi-persecution.

[4]: Simon Han. (December 17, 2017). The Impossible Task of Remembering the Nanking Massacrehttps://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/nanking-china-japan-iris-chang/548516/.

[5]: SreyRam Kuy, MD. (May 27, 2015). How I survived Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother’s determination to escape to the UShttps://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/how-i-survived-cambodia-s-killing-fields-acclaimed-surgeon-sreyram-kuy-celebrates-her-mother-s-determination-escape-us-10279675.html.

[6]: Sam Bedford. (November 28, 2017). After the War: Bosnia Then and Nowhttps://theculturetrip.com/europe/bosnia-herzegovina/articles/after-the-war-bosnia-then-and-now/.

[7]: Melody Schreiber. (July 16, 2020). Rwanda’s Genocide Ended 26 Years Ago. Survivors Are Still Finding Mass Graveshttps://www.npr.org/2020/07/16/891815028/rwandas-genocide-ended-26-years-ago-survivors-are-still-finding-mass-graves.

Humans Are Bastards

Homo homini lupus est.note 

“See, their morals, their ‘code’… it’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show ya. When the chips are down, these, uh, these ‘civilized people’, they’ll eat each other.”

— The JokerThe Dark Knight

In essence Humans Are Bastards is the reverse of Rousseau Was Right — the natural proclivity of humanity is towards selfishnessapathy and violence. Only a select few people manage to rise above their base nature to become something better, but the kernel of darkness is still In the Blood. When Humans Are Bastards is in effect, even your “heroes” don’t have clean hands, so most conflict is gray against black, with some gray against gray or black against black on for variety. Frequently used by Omnicidal Maniacs as an argument in favor of a Class 3a Apocalypse.

Humans being bastards doesn’t preclude them being pragmatic about it, so if there isn’t a profit to be made by making the world a hellhole, they might not, but if conditions are tolerable it certainly isn’t due to any inborn altruism on the part of those in charge. Appeals to people’s better nature will not work. Don’t expect to see anyone shame the mob — idealism has no place here. Any successful do-gooders will be very, very cynical and paranoid, as the genuinely hopeful will inevitably become embittered if they’re not killed outright.

Very, very far down the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, and all but guarantees a Crapsack World if this is true of the majority of the population. Comedies are black. Dramas are depressing. Beware of Too Bleak, Stopped Caring.

Compare Crapsack WorldBlack-and-Gray Morality. Compare World of Jerkass, where all the characters are jerks, but there isn’t necessarily a moral about humanity at large. Hobbes Was Right often makes an appearance, proposing that if the bastardy of humanity is a constant, the most effective form of government is tyranny. On the other hand, the exact opposite stance may be taken as well: if humans are inherently bastards, then it’s no use giving any of them power, because they will all inevitably abuse it.

Contrast Humans Are GoodRousseau Was Right and White-and-Grey Morality. See also Humans Are Flawed, which takes the middle road by acknowledging humanity’s shortcomings while not underplaying their potential capacity for virtue.

For settings where humans are depicted as bastards compared to other sapient species, see Humans Are the Real Monsters.. 

5 Psychological Experiments That Show The Dark Side Of Human Nature

Everyone has a darkness inside them.

Peter Burns

There is a darkness in the human soul. All throughout history you have instances of people living next to each other seemingly in peace, only for madness to strike. In a flashing instant, neighbor would be slaughtering neighbor, formerly decent folk calling for the extermination of the enemy, hatred growing in the hearts of all.

Unimaginable evil can take over suddenly, consuming everything in its path. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian writer and persistent explorer of the darkness of the human soul, noted that no animal can ever be as cruel as a man. We talk of the savageness of a tiger, but no tiger is even capable of doing the things people have done.

People talk sometimes of a bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky

How does this cruelty, this evil, this darkness in the human soul arise? Sometimes people are born with traits that predispose them for certain things. Psychopaths are those individuals who feel very little remorse or empathy, their ego driving them towards a dark path.

Yet, what is striking is that often evil is committed or supported by people who do not have these traits. Former accountants, athletes, people from all walks of life can perform these acts. Journalist and philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the term “the banality of evil” to describe how something like the Holocaust can arise out of seemingly ordinary circumstances.

When covering the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the man who organized the transport of millions of people to Nazi concentration camps, Arendt became struck by how ordinary he seemed.

“I was struck by the manifest shallowness in the doer which made it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer — at least the very effective one now on trial — was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous.” — Hannah Arendt

What is even more mind-blowing is that sometimes these people even believe they are doing a good deed. The road to hell is often paved with good intentions. There is a debate on the inner workings of human nature, and the role darkness plays in it. How come previously decent people can commit such terrible acts?

Perhaps it is as Dostoyevsky believed and the devil doesn’t exist, but people have created him in their own image.

“I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Or maybe the answer is much more mundane. However, it is important to study these questions and to shed a light on the process of how this happens. For our own sake, for humanity’s sake.

5 experiments that show the dark side of human nature

While in the past, philosophers only pondered upon the inner workings of human nature, in recent years some psychologists have set up experiments to test it. Paralleling processes in history, researchers have examined the dark side of people. Some of the results have been quite disturbing.

Zimbardo prison experiment

In 1971, Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo randomly divided a group of student volunteers into two parts. One of them would play the role of guards, and the other would be their prisoners. The results were shocking.

Apparently, just after a short amount of time, many of the guards embraced their roles. Treating the prisoners poorly, they dished out punishments left and right. On the side of the prisoners a sort of dejection and acceptance of the abuse set in.

As Zimbardo put it, he wanted to demonstrate “the ease with which ordinary people could be led to engage in anti-social acts by putting them in situations where they felt anonymous, or they could perceive of others in ways that made them less than human, as enemies or objects.” The experiment went so off the rails that it had to be abandoned just 6 days in.

For the researcher leading the experiment, the behavior of the volunteers showed they internalized their roles. His conclusion was that the prison conditions caused the participants to act the way they did. According to Zimbardo, it was a demonstration of “how systemic and situational forces can operate to influence individual behavior in negative or positive directions, often without our personal awareness.”

Milgram public authority experiment

Ten years before Zimbardo’s experiment, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram held one of his own. This now legendary test had a simple set-up. The participants would be seated in a chair and administer electric shocks to people they could only hear. They were led to believe that giving out these shots was a way to help them learn better.

Of course in reality the voices were just tapes, but the volunteers pushing the buttons didn’t know that. Whenever the alleged learner answered a question wrong, the researcher would prod the participant to administer a shock, which would get stronger and stronger each time.

In reality, if the highest level of electricity had zapped the learner, they would be dead. Surprisingly, around 65% of the participants actually administered the final 450-volt bolts. Not to say that 100% of them went up to at least 300 volts!

In an article, Milgram noted that “the extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding an explanation. Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.”

Trying to show how such an evil thing as the Holocaust can happen, Milgram’s experiment has incredible explanatory power. Even if ordinary citizens are not hateful, just the simple fact of compliance and following authority can create the conditions necessary for great atrocities to take place.

Robbers cave experiment

In 1954, even before the two previous experiments took place, psychologist Muzafer Sherif created his own study. Meant to test how conflicts arise, he set up two groups composed of boys who had never met each other before. Believing they were there for a summer camp, each group started out by doing normal activities.

However, over time they discovered that another group of boys was sharing the same park with them. First off, the two groups were put into normal competitions against each other. Quickly, in-group versus out-group dynamics developed. Violent clashes between the two groups were the result.

Interestingly, in times of group conflict altruism comes into play, but in a weird way. According to Sherif, “the zeal with which members of one group pursue intergroup hostility is proportional to the degree of solidarity and cooperativeness within the in-group, and these tend to increase.” While the hostility towards the out-group increases, the solidarity within the in-group tends to increase too.

Sherif’s work is the basis of realistic conflict theory. Strife between groups can arise when people perceive that resources are limited and the need to fight over them. This zero-sum view of the world where the other side must lose if your side is to win, is the source of much bad blood.

Third Wave experiment

How could so many German people have so willingly participated in the Nazi movement? This is a question that boggles the mind of many. In 1967, struggling to explain this to his students, high school history teacher Ron Jones decided to demonstrate it instead.

Over a span of 5 days, Jones indoctrinated his students into a fictitious movement he set up, “The Third Wave”. Starting off with simple drills on discipline and a few slogans, he instilled in the students a sense of community based on groupthink.

Throughout the course of the experiment, the movement proved quite popular with the students. Hundreds of teens who were not even in the class joined in. Setting strict rules, Jones had a way to check whether these were being followed. He selected a few of the kids to report on the others.

To his surprise, many more snitched out of their own free will. Those deemed insufficiently loyal to the cause were put on trial and punished. The entire thing got so out of hand, that the teacher had to end it early. Proving how easy it is to fall for causes through group dynamics, The Third Wave experiment shows how dangerously carried away people can get.

Tajfel social groups experiment

Henri Tajfel, himself a Holocaust survivor, conducted experiments trying to show how ordinary thinking processes can lead to prejudice. He posited that it was categorization that was behind this. This results in people minimizing the differences between the individuals in their in-group, while maximizing the differences from their out-group, painting the “other” with a similar negative brush.

In one of his experiments, Tajfel created two groups of boys. Telling them that the choice was made on their preferences for paintings by a particular painter (in reality just random pics), the boys were then asked to allocate resources to each other. Despite not knowing the other boys in their group, most individuals divided up the resources in a way as to maximize the profits for their own group. This was despite there being a strategy that would maximize profits for everyone.

This showed how favoritism, prejudice, and discrimination can come into being. Even though the groups were created randomly, a sense of in-group versus out-group developed. Once this dynamic is set in motion, it can be hard to stop. According to Tajfel, “once the process is set in motion they reinforce each other in a relentless spiral in which the weight of predominant causes tends to shift continuously.

Honorable mention:

While experiments with humans are the most pertinent for uncovering human nature, ones done with animals can be quite telling too.

Rat paradise experiment

In the 1960s, behavioral researcher John B. Calhoun set up a series of experiments with mice and rats. In his experiments, he created what he termed “rat utopias”. These were interconnected habitats that provided everything needed for a rat to live a successful life, food, shelter, and mates.

In the beginning, a small number of rats of both sexes were released into the habitats. Due to the favorable conditions, the population grew rapidly. It kept doubling quite fast, but then at one moment, the rate started to slow down. Then something weird happened. The rats stopped reproducing completely.

Despite the fact that the conditions in the habitats were favorable for a lot more rats, society broke down. A small number of individual male rats monopolized all the females, while the rest of the males started to congregate in specific areas. Incessant fighting erupted, as did an increase in homosexual behavior.

Things went downhill from there. The constant warfare caused many of the males to withdraw completely, instead now spending the time between sleeping and grooming themselves. The rat utopia collapsed and the society went extinct thereafter.

Calhoun saw this as a warning for human society. Growing overcrowding and a breakdown in social relations could lead to what he termed a “behavioral sink”. In rats, this led to total collapse and eventual extinction.

The power of the dark side

Throughout history, we have seen what types of evil things people are capable of. Often, these monsters arise from seemingly innocent beginnings. Adolf Hitler was a failed artist who started his political career preaching in beer halls. Pol Pot and his gang were students and activists sitting around in the cafes of Paris. The rise of these demagogues, however, was also facilitated by ordinary people jumping in on their bandwagon.

As the Dark Jedi in the “Star Wars” movies demonstrated, the pull of the dark side is strong. The debate of whether humans are basically good or bad might be missing the point. All people have a light side and a dark side. It’s often circumstances that dictate which one gets awakened.

For some individuals, the tendency towards one side or the other can be stronger. The psychological experiments of Zimbardo or Sherif have their critics. Both the methodology and the set-up have been challenged. However, even within these critiques, we can see kernels of human nature.

One challenge to Zimbardo’s experiment was based on the argument that the participants were self-selected. Seeing an ad in a newspaper calling for participants in a prison simulation likely drew out individuals whose personality traits had higher levels of aggression and authoritarianism.

Yet, even with this argument, you can see how the environment plays a huge role. A favorable environment and circumstances can make it easier for certain types of individuals to rise to the top. Certain conditions are more opportune towards people with darker traits.

History can be a guide to how circumstances shape events. It can show us how darkness wins over light. We are living in a period that is increasingly showing flashing danger signs from the past. Things can move fast, or as in the case of the fall of the Roman Republic, things can move slow. However, we need to be aware. The darkness of humanity is always there, lurking.

Anisha Sarkar

, works at Tata Group (2013-present)

Answered June 30, 2016

Originally Answered: is man the most dangerous animal ?

Humans are the most dangerous animal on earth. We have killed more of our own kind than any other animal on earth. We have destroyed more ecosystems than any other animal. We have made species extinct more than any other animal. Unlike any animal on earth man has created things never found in nature that kills. No animal on earth other than man has created bombs, poisonous chemicals, bio-toxins, cars, planes, heavy machinery and all the other billions of things that kill directly or indirectly.
When people think of a dangerous animal they think about how physically powerful it is and how savage it can be. Humans may be frail and weak compared to large wild animals but we can be extremely savage. The interesting thing is that man is deadly in numbers and with technology. Put an unarmed human naked in the wilderness with zero primitive or modern survival skills and he’s dead meat. He would have less chance of survival than a rabbit. I have known of people who were an office cube worker who had no knowledge of the wilderness, weapons, traps , snares, animals, shelters, etc; found dead of exposure and starvation right next to abundant natural foods. Humans are becoming less self-sufficient, resourceful, and less able to survive on their own. So, the average human isn’t the deadliest animal on earth, it’s the human species.

Leon F Seltzer Ph.D.

Just How Dark Is Your Dark Side?

It’s time we looked at our so-called “dark side” from a whole new perspective.

Posted December 5, 2014

Magog2/Wikimedia Commons

Freud, in his classic Civilization and Its Discontents (1929), postulated that being part of civilized society safeguards us from personal chaos, from being dominated by our amoral id. So as civilized beings we appoint communal authorities (e.g., police) to protect us not simply from others’ baser impulses but also our own. Yet to Freud this necessary protection also culminates in our “discontent,” for we’re thereby required to subdue our pleasure-seeking instinctual drives. To live harmoniously with others, we must subdue our otherwise impetuous desires.

I believe most people would agree that (although it’s somewhat reductive) there’s something profoundly true in Freud’s assumptions about the human psyche. At the same time, I think that while we may be wired to at least imagine what it might be like to boldly and unabashedly follow our inborn predilections (and without the slightest regard for how they might affect others), just envisioning ourselves engaging in such behaviors hardly means that finally we’d choose to enact them.

After all, in so many ways we need, literally, to rely on others for survival. Additionally, we’re a gregarious species, and so wouldn’t want to do things that might offend others and alienate them from us. Though we might not be able to resist fantasizing various acts that might enable us to freely pursue our (altogether personal) “pleasure principle,” the overwhelming majority of us are strongly motivated to restrain ourselves from actually carrying out such clearly sociopathic behaviors.

Given these “natural” internal constraints, we need to question whether our dark side is, ultimately, all that dark.That is, we’re generally cognizant that whatever fantasies we may have of power, revenge, conquest, or reckless expression of libido are just that—fantasies. But by permitting ourselves to at least “daydream” about them, we can afford ourselves some kind of compensatory gratification. At a safe remove from reality, we can offer ourselves the alternative of imagining what, in actuality, we wouldn’t really choose to do . . . or, for that matter, be.

And in that sense, our dark side can be seen as, well, rather “innocent.” Permitting it to surface in daydreams represents a measured indulgence, offering us an escape from the pro-social behavior that almost all of us regularly elect to participate in. For we do want, and need, to keep our social ties safe and secure. And though we may have a competitive streak in us, we also place a high value on interpersonal cooperation. So voluntarily, we monitor our impulses and take care to keep them in check. And, as a respite from all our self-discipline and forbearance, we periodically permit ourselves to fabricate a world in which our desires—however outrageous or anti-social—might nonetheless reign supreme.

Given that our dark side embodies our more primitive, pleasure- or power-seeking instincts, must we zealously avoid disclosing it, or reject it as despicable—something other than respectably human and therefore to be shunned and repudiated? In the end, such “dark” predilections really can’t be seen as intrinsically culpable, in that most of them merely represent “appetites” or “urges” innate in all of us.

So might we, finally, honor them, appreciating our most aggressive or erotic fantasies, daydreams (and many night dreams, too) as a psychological safety valve? The, to me, unsatisfactory alternative is to view them shamefully, as depicting a part of us so abhorrent that it must be hidden from others—and, if possible, from ourselves as well.

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Many psychology researchers have written about the practical utility of daydreams. For, as already suggested, they can function positively as a much needed outlet for our frustrations, enabling us to give at least covert expression to impulses and inclinations we know would be foolhardy or hazardous to act out. And so our simply “entertaining” such fantasies doesn’t really reflect any disastrous potential that must thereby be viewed as dark or depraved. The reason that horror movies are perennially popular (especially among the young) is that they, too, enable us to experience a safe release from—or vicarious expression of—our more primitive, anti-social instincts. And the same is true for many tv shows (e.g., “Dexter”). 

We are, finally, all animals, and what helps us to transcend the raw instincts of our more primitive, less evolved, ancestors is that in our highly developed interest in pro-social behavior almost all of us freely consent to forego id-related pleasures—the pursuit of which, we realize, would hurt others and almost certainly come back to haunt us.

For both inner and outer balance, we have a fundamental need to express (however indirectly) our whole being. And we hardly need deny our “forbidden” thoughts. For they’re only a relatively small segment of what’s—naturally—inside us. Fully accepting our basic humanity actually necessitates that we acknowledge, and make peace with, our so-called “dark side”—which, finally, is far less dark when we see it for what it is. As Carl Jung said, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

Moreover, Jung believed that “in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity.” And it makes perfect sense that if creativity entails a certain freedom from our customary constraints in thought and feeling, then giving ourselves the license to create also involves granting ourselves the privilege to inwardly explore and outwardly express the darker side of our latent tendencies and impulses.

It may well be that what makes a work of art great in the first place is its universality. And what makes it universal is that it addresses so much of what resides deep inside us—the unprincipled and ignominious, as well as the wholesome, praiseworthy, and noble.

I’ll close with a set of four brief quotes. All of them suggest in just a few words much of what I’ve labored to express in (alas!) so many more:

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“I think the healthy way to live is to make friends with the beast inside oneself, and that means not the beast but the shadow. The dark side of one’s nature. [So] have fun with it and . . . accept everything about [yourself]”. ~ Anthony Hopkins [who distinguished himself in the cinematic role of Hannibal Lecter, a charismatic—but cannibalistic—serial killer]

“Evil is a source of moral intelligence in the sense that we need to learn from our shadow, from our dark side, in order to be good.” ~ John Bradshaw

“We all need to look into the dark side of our nature—that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.” ~ Sue Grafton

“The more we deny that we have a dark side, the more power it has over us.” ~ Sheryl Lee

Note: If you resonated with this post and believe others might also, please consider sending them its link. Additionally, if you’d like to review other posts I’ve done for Psychology Today—on a broad range of topics—click here.

* A somewhat condensed version of this post appeared earlier in theHumanist.com.

© 2014 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

Kevin Angkajaya

Do you think ghosts are scary? Think again. Humans can be more scary than what you think.

Kevin Angkajaya

Jul 19, 2019·5 min read

Humans can be scarier than ghosts.

Having to go down the stairs leading to empty and lonely location.

I remember back in my childhood; I can feel afraid to traverse around my own house. My house has multiple floors and we mainly live at the upper part of the house. Sometimes at night, my mother or my father would ask me to buy something from outside, such as food or flour or anything else. I must walk down the stairs to reach dimly lit floor before I can use the keys to unlock the door leading to outside. Every time I must go outside at night, with every step taken I would chant some prayers inside my mind wishing nothing scary would appear. I was really scared of ghosts appearing suddenly, all bloody and making croaking sound. I hoped that no ghosts would suddenly come to scare me. Going outside and meeting people relieved my fear for a while, but the fear did come back after I finished my task because I must go back to my house, having to go through the lonely place again.

I did wonder if the ghosts do appear, what am I going to do? Will the ghosts drag me somewhere to the dark hole dimension? Would they scare me and then just laugh and go away? I do blame horror movie industry, and until now I still have no idea why a lot of people loved such thrilling and full of jump scare scenes. During my junior high school days, my friends and I went to watch a movie that were supposed to be some action movie, but due to bad timing there was no other choice (unless we wait yet another hour or so) so we watched The Grudge 3 instead. The movie was distracting enough for me that by the time I went home, I couldn’t fall asleep before 2 or 3 am, even though I usually already asleep at 10 pm. Those scenes of killings and blood kept flashing inside my mind and I couldn’t turn my brain off from imagining and replaying the scary parts repeatedly. On another time, my father and my sister bought and watched Insidious movie at home. Since they use central room’s TV to watch and I must walk pass the room in order to reach the dining room, I couldn’t help but caught a glimpse of the frightening movie along with the scary sounds. I tried my best not to pay attention to the movie, and yet when the night comes, my brain starts working damn you brain and it started to imagine horrendous scenes that I only have looked for a short while. I have trouble sleeping that night, too.

If only all ghosts were kind and cute like this

Now that I have grown up and exposed to the constant news from all over the globe, I feel like it was silly to be very afraid of ghosts. I am not saying that you cannot fear them. However, looking at all the incidents and news repeatedly from all over the world, which are almost always caused by humans and affects other humans with disastrous results, I started to ponder, maybe humans are scarier than ghosts. Humans are capable of menacing harms. Whether ghosts really exist or not doesn’t matter, but humans do exist and are capable of such thoughts and actions.

If only life is always serene like this photo. Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash

When children think that ghosts may be hiding behind the cabinet, my adult mind thinks the same thing actually can be said for humans. The scary and disturbing thoughts that someone may be hiding around hallway around your house, or maybe is already inside your house, ready to ambush. Another case, some police might come to your house and suddenly killed your dog and shot you in the leg, all without confirming your identity firstA Japanese high-school student was abducted, tortured, and raped by four Japanese teenage boys which lead to her deathPilots are capable of taking everyone down with them together, personally I couldn’t understand why those pilots have to take other people with them. And then there’s one of the deadliest terrorists attacks in 2001, the hijacking of planes by terrorists who crashed themselves into buildings of World Trade Center Complex and Pentagon in US, killing 2996 people and injuring over 6000 people. In South Korea, an unsolved serial murder case targeting only females where the victims always found bound and murdered (There was even a movie based on the case called Memories of Murder which have won 2003 Grand Bell Awards for best film). And the list is continuing every day, and it suddenly seems that fear of ghosts are overrated when humans are capable of more harms.

The recent incident of arson of Kyoto Animation’s building by 41-year-old man is horrible, unimaginable, and yet it did happen. 33 people are confirmed dead directly due to the fireone man passed away in the hospital and more than 30 people are injured. The suspect used gasoline on the building and people before starting the fire, and has severe burns on his face and feet himself when caught. I also would like to express my sorrow and condolences to the victims and family involved.

When I was in high school, I was taught by one wise religious teacher. Once I asked him how to be less afraid of the ghosts around us, can you guess how he answered?

“You shouldn’t be afraid of ghosts, as the ghost capable of most harms to us wouldn’t measure to the harms humans are capable of”.

Kevin Angkajaya

“Life is a wonderful experience”, they said

That’s an obvious lie, though.

Photo by Álvaro Bernal on Unsplash

I always wondered what my purpose of living is. Or if I even have any actual purpose to begin with. Life itself is full of excruciating, painful life experiences that no one can ever know what’s on ahead. This is a story on how my life experiences try to consume me and how I try to manage.

Modern life is tiring. Unless you got a lot of inheritance money that could last up to 7 generations or you already got passive incomes that can afford all of your expenses, then you are either working to get…

Apr 12, 2019

Why you need to be able to adapt.

How many times have we seen a big corporate collapse when they couldn’t follow the need of population? I have seen a few ever since I was a little kid and it’s still happening every day. Whether it was because they neglect the trend of the world, failed to gather enough knowledge and resources, or just because an immense pride on their end, it quickly become clear that anyone or anything that unable to adapt will eventually die.

Anyone or anything that unable to adapt will eventually die.

The biggest known company to fall in such fashion is probably Nokia. When…

OUR APPROACH

Written by Matt Sloane

As our culture becomes more polarized, it becomes more tempting to label those who disagree with us as “monsters.” But what do we really mean when we say someone is being monstrous? And how willing are we to see our own monstrous tendencies?

To explore this, I’m going to go where monsters originally came from: the land of storytelling.

In the book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker lays out his theory that the core purpose of stories is to help humans learn to release the grip of an overactive ego.

Let’s look at how this is so in stories that adhere to this original purpose…

In stories with happy endings, the main character defeats an antagonist who is trying to control something or someone for selfish gains. As a result, the community is better off at the end—i.e., more integrated and fuller of life in some way. For example, in The Princess Bride, a farm boy becomes a hero when he saves a princess by displaying greater willpower over a prince who was trying to force her to marry him—Prince Humperdinck attempts to control the bride he has chosen for himself.

On the flipside, in stories with tragic endings, the main character is trying to control someone or something and won’t let it go. In those stories, the community is worse off—i.e., there is more disintegration as life is squeezed out. For example, in The Great Gatsby, an eccentric playboy lost in a fantasy tries to reunite with a former crush who is married, leading to loss of life in the community, including his own. Gatsby’s unrealistic and obsessive longing leads to his own demise.

In either case, a monster appears:

  • In happy endings, the monster is someone opposing the main character.
  • In tragic endings, the monster is the main character, at least by the end of the story.

The character we call the “monster” in stories still has human qualities—such as being passionate but unsympathetic, or intelligent but manipulative, or strong but oppressive. But beyond their humanity, it’s the overactive ego that pushes them into the realm of monster as they endanger themselves and others around them.

Here’s another way to frame the core lesson that purposeful stories give us for living: finding alternatives to behaving like a monster leads to the development and integration of the mature self and community.

This makes being able to identify monstrous behavior important, primarily in ourselves.

When we act as monsters, according to Booker, we are displaying one of three monster archetypes: the Predator, the Holdfast, and the Avenger.

Let’s look at each one from the story angle and how they can appear in us today…

The Predator causes us to say, “I want that now—at all costs.” (oriented to the future)

We can recognize this archetype in us when we’re myopically focused on getting the thing we desire, with no concern for any collateral damage that may occur. Such as the cyborg in The Terminator who had one mission: kill Sarah Connor, no matter how many police officers, civilians, and factories get destroyed in the process.

In everyday modern life, this archetype may cause us to consider:

  • Spreading a false claim in order to damage the reputation of someone seeking the same job as you (“it should be my job”).
  • Running a marketing campaign that leverages fear in order to get as many sales as possible (“it should be my income”).
  • Spending over 20 minutes trying to log into a glitchy website so you can order socks, while ignoring your need to eat breakfast (“those should be my socks”).

The Holdfast in us says, “I must keep this—and nobody else can have it.” (oriented to the present)

We are so committed to holding onto this thing that if it appears we may lose it to someone else, we feel justified in using any manner of force against them or destroying it. For example, in The Hobbit, the dragon, Smaug, hoards gold in his cave and defends it to the death. Smaug and his gold are inseparable.

In everyday modern life, this archetype may cause us to consider:

  • Going to great lengths to ensure your intellectual property is protected, so much so that you never share it with anyone (“it’s my idea”).
  • Seeing others as competition for your customers, even if there is plenty of need for multiple organizations to fill (“they are my customers”).
  • Guarding your giant plate of French fries from your spouse and children (“they are my French fries”).

The Avenger causes us to say, “I want that back—I have been wronged.” (oriented to the past)

We become fixated on a loss and claim the right to exert our power in order to balance the scales of justice. But unlike lawful justice, the Avenger feels no concern for the wellbeing of others, including the dignity of the one/s they believe created that loss for them. For example, in Nightmare on Elm Street a troubled child molester is burned to death by an angry mob and comes back to haunt and kill them in their dreams. The monster, Freddy Krueger, is seeking revenge for his loss of dignity and life.

(Author’s note: What does it say about a culture’s developmental stage when so many movies feature ‘avenging’ protagonists with an ego gone wild that we’re encouraged to root for?)

In everyday modern life, this archetype may cause us to consider:

  • Publicly shaming a manager who you think tried to take control of your meeting (“it was my meeting”).
  • Attacking an organization through your advertising as a response to being mocked in one of their ad campaigns (“it was my reputation”).
  • Refusing to speak to your spouse for a whole evening after they finished off the last of your favorite ice cream (“it was my ice cream”).

All the archetypes have one thing in common—they all encourage us to see through the lens of ownership with no regard for people around us, including ourselves.

This ownership lens can be distilled to a one-word sentiment: “Mine!

Notice how when you see this controlling behavior in others, you might activate a controlling part of yourself, beginning with using the label of “monster.” If they are the monster, that means you are the hero and your actions and words to control them are justified.

And this is how a society disintegrates. One monstrous act begets another, one ego triggering another’s ego, while everyone is thinking themselves to be the hero. This pattern only stops inside the individual who chooses to address it—through our own discipline and maturation process.

If we wish to respond to egoic behavior in a way that shifts the pattern, we must be sure not to respond from our ego. In other words, when we seek dignity for the one acting like a monster, we consciously deviate from the narrative that otherwise leads to a community where things are worse off.

It begins by not allowing the label to hold—i.e., not labeling others as “monsters” or attacking their character, but instead condemning their actions. When we criticize character, we seek to humiliate and nobody benefits. When we criticize actions, there is room for reconciliation and dignity for all involved.

To take the mature story lesson to heart, rather than focusing on controlling those around you, try understanding more about these controlling monster archetypes in yourself.

Here are some self-observations to get you started.

The next time you read a story or watch a movie with a monster character, see if you can identify which archetype is playing through them (Predator, Holdfast, Avenger). And then observe yourself, while the monster is most overactive in their ego. In that moment, grab a pen and paper to write down your responses to these questions:

  • What do I notice in my own body?
  • What thoughts appear in response to the monster’s actions?

And then later go back and reflect:

  • What do my reactions tell me about myself?
  • How have I behaved through that same archetype in my life before?
  • What is the relationship between my past behavior and my reaction to that character?
  • Given what I notice, what action/s will I take?

Another way is to observe yourself in daily life by writing down responses to these questions:

  • In my day, how did any one of the monster archetypes (Predator, Holdfast, Avenger) appear to influence my behavior? (even if only in a subtle way)

**********

 

 

 

The Boys from Carondelet


THE BOYS FROM CARONDELET –                                                                                          TALES OF SOUTH ST. LOUIS SITUATES – THE LIFE, TIMES, MUSIC – AND TRAGEDIES – OF THEIR LIVES

By:

Steve Erdmann

Stream-of-conscious memoirs of his personal life.

Another version of this article can be seen at The Boys From Carondelet | The UFO Spotlight On…

PROLOGUE

No doubt those who stumbled upon this autobiography will find it difficult to decipher or even work with as it is more of less constructed as a ‘steam-of-consciousness’ type narrative. This is not a strict scientific document (said for the sake of my ‘purist’ friends), but my own, private thoughts and romantic outlook and philosophies.  But, even then, there is a lot of truth in these pages; I guess I speak that as a modernist-humanitarian of exotic expressionism and renaissance-growing.

THIS IS ALSO PARTLY AN UPDATED VERSION OF A LETTER SENT TO MORIARTY WILD (NOT THE REAL NAME) DATED SEPTEMBER 26, 2008: there have been continuous revisions since then (and probably does not resemble the original letter); Please look for the latest update.

Many (wide and radical?) revisions and changes will come about over the next months and years. Some identities will be disguised to protect people. This does not mean it is an untrue account, just a disguised account much like the retired intelligence officer and spy, “Mr. X”, was a composite person of many sources in the intelligence community in Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, or many characters are introduced as semi-fictional to carry multiple layers of truth. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin is somewhat like that (Delacorte Press, 2009);”A finely wrought portrait of Alice [in Wonderland] that seamlessly blends fact with fiction,” said Publishers Weekly of Alice. There is only one other character like that in this manuscript, but he is also portrayed as his real name in several instances and not his fictitious name/literary device. In only one other character is the name changed as some kind of buffer on his and his family’s identity to mute total embarrassment as to his real-life amazing claims he makes about himself and his family. Somehow, a lot of respect was held for this man and family, despite incongruous actualities and real-life events. Sadly, Mr. X will protest under some phony composite of ‘perfectionism,’ ‘anti-modernism,’ ‘historical retrogression,’ or allusion to his private quest to distort reality according to constant subjective perversion about what he feel is ‘scandal.’ Far too much ‘rambling’ has been done regarding UFO topics and participants, and I suggest heavy editing and even some deletion to make it smooth. Parts of this manuscript may be copied and pasted as separate manuscripts. It may change to widely different formats: things will be knocked around, cut, swapped, and jostled, in Henry Miller, John Steinbeck, Stephen King and Raymond Chandler fashion. Incoherent parts will be rearranged (I said I would ‘ramble’) and perhaps the letter (now, looks like an article, manuscript or document) actually will be turned into a fiction story (maybe semi- autobiographical/ semi-fictional): who knows at this point? If I die in the meantime: that’s it! You’ll have to go with what I did to my End. Publish in any way that is successful and profitable. 

Stephen Charles Erdmann.    

PART I

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…….” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens. (Chapman and Hall, London, 1859).

Chapter One – The Ghosts Arise

THE ‘ROSEBUD’ OF THE COMMON MAN

I stood there, watching the heavy snow fall and tis leafy snow-white flakes  wave and sweep back and forth through the air, covering and uncovering the trunks and branches of trees lining the property of the Evangelical Lutheran Orphanage one 1950s Winter.  It was my home for the time being. In that distant past, an eight-year-old boy looked through frosted panes of glass and into a Currier and Ives Winter landscape at 12325 Manchester Road.  I was an orphan, or precisely, as Peggy Greenwood would say, a ‘half-orphan,” at least for a few years until my mother could make adjustments, get her “act together” as some would say, for a widow and her unattended child, and if the orphanage juvenile authority deemed it proper, I could come home – back home – to a family: my Mom, my brother, my half-brother and his family, my grandparents – grandpa and grandma Bork, ,grandpa and grandma Erdmann, uncle Max Erdmann …. My cousin Betty, who last I remembered was living with my Mom on Castleman Avenue in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis…

In that winter of the 50s, Washington University students had come to visit the children at “the home” (as it was often referred to). I recalled wrestling and “rough-housing” with one burly student in the west wing basement visitor’s room, almost as if he were secretly saying: “Come on fella, it’s not so bad, you’ll be okay: today we play, tomorrow the sun will come out!”

It would be a few years before I’d watch the 1941 “Orson Welles” movie Citizen Kane (I recall lying on the front room floor as a young teenager on Michigan Avenue a few years After leaving the orphanage and intently reacting to the black-and-white TV-drama presentation), but I could easily have been asking myself as I gazed out onto that long straight driveway that led to and fro to the front door of the orphanage (perhaps a little reminiscent of the yearly showing of Judy Garland’s Yellow Brick Road, The Wizard Of Oz), in the somber whispering voice of tycoon Foster Kane at the last moments of his life, those cryptic, haunting words “rosebud”. I wondered when I saw the movie in the 50s, and I wonder now: what will be my “rosebud”? That item that Kane referred to, rosebud, at the end of his life, had connected with Kane’s unspoiled and innocent youth when he lived with impoverished parents that “sold” him to “save” him, was, of course, the sled that had been given to him by his family one long lost winter in his distant youth. But millions of ordinary people play out a real-life Foster Kane every day, in their own special way, with their own twists and turns in life. Many not as magnanimously and with as much notoriety, and certainly not the riches and wealth, as that of Foster Kane, but each with their own private and personal depth and melodrama, many never making news headlines, movie scripts, or bill boards, but all having the personal depth, feeling and even tragedy of Kane; their lives hurdling towards their own personal “Rosebud.” It is to them, myself, and people like us that this story is dedicated.

There were many memorable scenes and experiences for a lower-income child of the 40s-50s. Amazed by life, a child feels that happiness is something that comes as a natural right with an excursion through the birth canal and into the slap of external uterus life and reality outside the womb. What you may not know, or had the first-hand opportunity to perceive, is that there are millions of Dave Pelzer’s in the world – frightened, lost, and scarred (A Child Called It and The Lost Boy, 1995, Health Communications, Inc.). Likewise, Liz Murray’s personal survival from a nightmare family [the father seemed like the only person hanging onto hope] described in  her autobiography Breaking Night (Hyperion Books, 2010), where “she describes the everyday life of a coked-out household where blood was spattered on the kitchen walls, on clothes, even on a loaf of Wonder Bread….” (Tara Mckelvey). In another case, whether she had sixteen personalities or not, the psychological scarring of Shirley Ardell Mason by her schizophrenic mother, Hattie Dorsett, happens all too often (Sybil, Grand Central Publishing, April 1, 2009). And the fear in the childhood of Joan Crawford’s daughter Christina Crawford (Mommie Dearest, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1978: “I was frightened because I hated the screaming and yelling and kicking and pounding.  But I wasn’t afraid for my mother. I was afraid for myself.”). There were children struggling with their parents, for their parents and in opposition to their parents, brothers, relatives, families. Some could pick themselves up psychologically by their own mental “bootstraps,” but many got lost in the muck of life – not sure how to help themselves – grasping at the edge of the boat, trying to pull themselves back aboard, but not always succeeding. Others, unable to grasp searching and willing hands out-stretched to nab them and wrestle them back aboard, fall back into the sea of despair, flaunting and screaming about, or sink with a shock of depression and hopelessness; finally, lastly, consoled as best can be done by loved ones. All of us, oft times weakened by physical illness, disease and age, are ultimately visionless by the relativity of it all.

Vivaciously, to all humans living, existence is a nostalgic blend of all that is good and beautiful and bad when we retrospectively look back in remorse, longing and wonder. No matter how difficult, how hard, how bland parts of our lives may have been, God has given us beauty, love and hope to intertwine in the fabrics of our lives. I am reminded of the stories of Nazi holocaust survivors, stories of war victims, of people who have barely survived alive – but who came back many times over with some lovely and exotic rendition of life and who gave back something of great value to humanity in some way or some form. In the end, the awesome struggles and pleasures we all share in common – the lives of our protagonists, the ‘common man.’

Reminisces of the 1940s radio program, the 1948 motion picture, and the 1950s-60s television series The Naked City, exposed and intruded into the private struggles and tragedies of everyday citizens revealing that we all, each one of us, are larger-than-life heroes and heroines, survivors, conquerors, scandalizes, and evil or good pedestrians on the road of life. “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them,” voiced the program’s hard, stoic slogan.    

But memories and movies seem to blur together in the early life of a 1950s child; it was not the only memorable movie or even distinctive winter from that period.  There were early puppy dog pets (which bit us because we foolishly played as if we were trying to eat its food; I don’t even remember the little fellas name), small drug store pet turtles (which we carelessly killed due to childish neglect) — and the ring worm epidemic of the 50s that was being spread around in St. Louis. I received my infection while watching Black Beauty at a children’s’ matinee at the Shaw Movie Theater near Shaw Avenue and 39th Street. I remember that distinct moment when the back of my head rolled back and forth on the cushion of the theatre seat – I can still recall something wet and slick on the cushion against my head. It was my introduction to ringworm infection. Shortly following that, it rapidly grew — discovered while my cousin Betty was ordered by her Aunt Clara (my mom) to “get him in the kitchen and clean him up!” — I had just been rolling around in the dirt, playing ‘monsters.’  As my cousin washed my hair, large clumps began to fall out: “Aunt Clara, come look at this!” I recalled Betty exclaiming.

It was officially called tinea capitis or ermatophytid.

And so began one of the continued and more frightful excursions of disappointment in my life, the lonely days during my hospital quarantine at the Children’s Medical Unit at Barnes Jewish Hospital, the smell of medical supplies, antibiotics, and the murmur, eerie whispers and solitude of the hospital late at night — the watching of my mom from my hospital window, seeing her down on the street — waiting for the bus on Kingshighway, a look of frustration over her face as she thought about her problem-riddled child. And then there were the very painful operative sessions in which the sores of infection, puss boils, had to be burst and medication put on them (these left deep indentations on the back of my upper head that were later covered over by youthful hair). There was talk and debate and worried whispers as to whether my hair would grow back. For several months I wore a “skull cap.” There was my mother telling friends about her constant praying for me. Most of my hair did slowly grow back, except for the small scarred area on the very back of my head — which could be covered by other hair and is usually mistaken now, in my old age, for male-pattern-baldness. When a teenager, with a 1950-60s pompadour and “duck butt” hair style and all, living with a more virulent body, my hair was much more profuse and could spread over the scar even more accommodative.  But it was still a bane and a personal embarrassment to me; a malediction that had somehow visited me and for my rest of my life. As a young child, it was unforgiveable.

The Shaw movie theatre at 3901 Shaw Avenue (now a confectionary/grocery store) was born in 1915, one of the hundreds of theaters that dotted St. Louis when the dawn of motion pictures was the glory of St. Louis pubescence.  In the early fifties, the Shaw had been owned by the Fran Chin and Mar Company, and was showing The House Of Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello, Flash Gordon serials, as well as so many others of the 50s genus. One of the favorites that helped form the magic and wonder of my youth was the 1950 movie Harvey, starring James Stewart, and its mystical themes that helped form that spongy substance called a child’s brain.  Based on a 1944 play by Mary Chase and receiving play a 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Drama award, Harvey, both the movie and play, were noted for crisp and lively insights into human character.

 “P-O-O-K-A. Pooka. From old Celtic theology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one, a benign but mischievous creature. Very fond of rum pots, crackpots and how are you Mr. Wilson?”  (Wilson reading about the definition of a pooka)   “I plan to leave. You want me to stay.  Well, an element of conflict is a very good thing. It means everybody is taking part and nobody is left out.”  (conversation of  Elwood P. Dowd at the mental sanatorium)    

Another movie that was the rave of that time and made a grand impression on this toddler’s brain and worldview was the showing of Christian Nyby’s The Thing From Another World, released April 29, 1951. My brother John took me to see the movie at the fabulous Shenandoah Theater at 2300 South Grand. From its beginning credits to the frightening ending, its ingenious use of low-tone dialog and monotone conversations in Dolby Original Mono sound (reminiscent of the conversational style used in the Jack Webb Dragnet police detective series), and the black and white filming and settings has not been matched to this day.

The Shenandoah Theater had been remodeled in 1941 by Leo. F. Abrams with a wider screen and 703 seats on the main floor and 369 seats in the balcony. It was a short distance from our house on Castleman and I recall visiting there several times, as well as the Shaw Theater.   

The beginnings for the Erdmanns and Borks in St. Louis go back earlier to Folsom Avenue (now a street cleared down to Tower Grove from a cul-de-sac behind the Children’s Hospital on Grand Avenue and Park; earlier records show that the Borks had lived at 3205a Utah Avenue), just haze and smoke of memories of that address then; I had to be a small baby. But reality became clearer and with more focus in my life at 4050 Castleman Avenue in the Shaw district of south St. Louis, not far from where grandpa and Grandma John and Marie Bork lived on Lafayette Avenue. That was long before Highway 44 was built in 1969 and there still were many homes in the area that carried that majestic Gilded Age announcement of themselves.

Grandparents Steve and Elizabeth Erdmann lived in a small home on DeMerville Road not far from Reavis Barracks and Telegraph Roads in south county Lemay, Missouri. Step-brother Ed referred to it as “the farm” because his memory goes back years before my visit there in the 50s; on his visits it probably was much more country-like, having a few farms—he remembers chickens and pigs and things and experienced far more family episodes there. I recall the Erdmanns more vividly as living on the lower floor of a duplex in St. Louis itself for a while at a Virginia Avenue home directly east of the Susan Blow Grade School at 516 Loughborough Avenue. Grandparents Erdmann moved about St. Louis somewhat, but the DeMerville home may have been their last residence; Brother Ed recalls a farm-type residence other than DeMerville.

I vacationed with them at the Virginia Avenue place, and doing their German ‘thing’, they had a chicken or two in the backyard. I had the ‘opportunity’ to watch Grandpa Steve cut the head off one of the chickens and, to my amazement, see the chicken run  around headless for a minute or so before falling dead to the ground. Grandma Erdmann would serve this great-tasting, rich soup—which I would rave about and constantly asked for—until one day; as grandma sat watching me drink the soup.

“Stevie, do you know what you are really drinking there?” she asked in that unique and characteristic Hungarian-German brogue.

“Soup! Your good soup!” I proudly described.

“Yes, yes, grandma’s good soup,” she spoke apprehensively, as she was about to make a new announcement.  She paused briefly, “But do you know what it is?”

“What, grandma, what?” I felt teased.                          

Blood, Stevie. It is the chicken’s blood” she disclosed. I felt my world quickly make a paradigm revision before my eyes. I held the spoon in a form of suspended animation. Noticing my shock, she finished her education as she got up to disappear, having done one of her grandmotherly lessons, “But it is very good for you, full of vitamins and healthy food.  It is good medicine.”

I never ate grandmother’s special soup after that, not even when begged to.

Grandpa and grandma Erdmann could have been a great spot in my early life, but that never really happened due to friction between my mother and their family; I could never actually get a handle on it, other than the Erdmann’s always wished that my mother would have married Max Erdmann after my Dad passed-away. My Mom attempted visits with them, but it always seemed to end in a furious argument on this very topic of marriage. Somewhere around my early teen-years, we lost contact with them, Max died from a heart attack, grandpa Steve had a stroke, and I never had the sense or nerve to keep in touch with them.

Later, when in the orphanage, they did come to visit me, and got permission to take me out for a drive in the ‘machine.’ I was given a basket of fruit as a gift.  I recall driving to an open-air festival of some kind. To this day, I often wonder now how different my life would have been, and perhaps even how happier, if my Mom had gotten along much different with the Erdmann’s.

One of the more memorable sights in the Shaw neighborhood, especially as a tiny tot, was walking along Lawrence or 39th Streets and looking up hill, East, on Shaw or Castleman Avenues and see the looming white edifice of the majestic Compton Hill Water Tower (now a historic landmark). Built on a 36-acre park during William McKinley’s Presidency in 1898 by designer Harvey Ellis, it was a big attraction at the 1904 World’s Fair. The 179-foot tower, with observation deck, camouflaged the standpipe that pumped water to the area. It was built in 1899 by George Mann. Just behind the tower was the huge walled concrete reservoir. It could hold 60 million gallons. It was built earlier in 1876 by Guy Study. Adjacent to the tower is a bronze statue of a naked woman called “The Naked Truth” (an invention of sculptor Wilhelm Wandichneider of Berlin); brewery-owner Adolphus Bush said he was shocked upon seeing the art. St. Louis had about 500,000 people at that time, and the Shaw area consisted of wealthier families of German descent. The German American Alliance did an “official” unveiling of the park on May 27, 1914.

There was one unusually hot summer afternoon I recall that my mom, Betty and I gathered up large towels and our swimming gear and headed up to that intimidating concrete edifice to cool off – apparently, the city owners had allowed the public in to the water reservoirs to ward off the heat. I recall looking down into the crowd surrounding the large basin of water and wondering if the water was shallow enough for me. Of course, it wasn’t – there was no shallow area – and in fact my mother attempted an old German trick that some had used to teach their children to swim: drop them in the water – they’ll either sink or learn to swim. I don’t know what prompted her to experiment with me that afternoon, but it didn’t work; I immediately recognized the muffled sounds from outside the water covering my head, and the feeling of steadily sinking and choking at the same time, along with the rush of stark panic and even terror. My screams no doubt caused fellow neighbors to take attention and the ridicule of mom calling me a sissy and little baby brought about a sense of shame and derision – I wasn’t getting any comfort from any source for foiling their experiment. I wasn’t sure if I should have stayed under the water or not screamed to protect my mother’s dignity. All in all, those moments stand in my memory of the Compton Hill Reservoir Park.

The fear of being in the water emerged immediately after this incident, even to the point that I could not be in the bathtub water by myself.  My grandmother or mom tried to put me in the upstairs bathtub on Castleman, and I immediately threw a panic with screaming and yelling.  Grandfather and grandmother Bork were visiting my mom at the time, and they became involved in the mystery of my fear of water – to the extent that my grandfather stripped down naked and was willing to share the bath water with me to show that even ‘he’ was not afraid of the water and would protect me (I believe this was another old German teaching method).  I don’t recall if ‘this’ experiment was successful or not; possibly not, because I may have aborted the experiment early, persons dispersing quickly in laughter, when I exclaimed at the small crowd of mom, grandmother and one naked grandfather: “Woo, grandpa, you got a big ‘one’!”

Eventually, gradually, especially through the efforts of Health and Gym Class instructor ‘Doc Singer’ in a Cleveland High School Swim Class, was I able to partially overcome my fear of water, clamor short distances in the water, though I never could swim proficiently.          

My grandfather seemed to be home less and less with growing attendance at area hospitals until his death due to illness. After my grandfather’s death, my grandmother moved to 3636 Tennessee Avenue further south, a few blocks from Gravois and Grand Avenues and a short distance from Miami Street. I came to live with grandma and cousin Betty (Betty’s mother, my mom’s sister, Erna, died of throat cancer; my memories of Erna seem foggy, except when I look at old family photos of her, memories come flooding back. It is then that I realize how much Betty looked like her mother). I stayed with Grandma Bork and Betty for a short period, once family relations seemed more stable. As mentioned, the grandparent Erdmann’s lived on, what my Halfbrother referred to as, “the farm”, near Reavis Barracks Road, not far from Kingston and Telegraph Roads. That area was much more rural in the 40s – 50s. My mom had bought a duplex at 7910 Michigan Avenue, Carondelet, but she still spent many hours away from me working mid-town at the Forum Restaurant. I always seemed in “transit” between one location, one person, and another. Mom would come home late at night, often displaying bloody wounds from the grease spraying out of the deep-fry stoves in the Forum kitchen. Her arms and legs carried permanent burn scars.

There always seemed family tensions and feuding on the Erdmann side; and sometimes on the Bork side, but it all seemed beyond me. Grandmas were grandmas, granddads were granddads; Cousins, cousins, uncles, uncles. Brothers were brothers, divorce involved or no. They were mine and they were all I had; and I loved them.

I never knew my dad, Steve. He was removed from me when I was 10-months-old. It is my understanding he died from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage – he had been said to complain of a gastric ulcer. I will never know for sure.  There is a news clipping floating around in the family achieves (my nephew stands guard on that) headlined about a suspected Black Widow death suspect (my mom). I do recall her sitting at the kitchen table on Castleman Avenue speaking to one of her girlfriends, talking in low monotones and mysterious whispers on the topic.

I heard her say: “And then the detective took me aside and in a serious whisper asked me: ‘What did you do to him?,’” I heard my mom speaking to Emily Lux, Henrietta, next-door neighbor Mrs. Chalmers or some other girlfriend one day, sitting at the kitchen table on Castleman Avenue, “I was shocked! I said ‘whaaat?’

Apparently, she was cleared of that suspicion. But that news item was prevented from my vision and jealously guarded. But it does not matter: I undoubtedly felt love by my father, who, by most standards, was a dashing, good-looking, photogenic German. Maybe it was the imagination of a child’s wishful thinking, but I vaguely remember being cuddled and wooed by some male presence back in my first months of life.

Like a lot of Germans in the 1930s – 1940s, Steve went to work at the An Hauser Busch Brewery as a Brew Master.  His brother, Louis Erdmann, also worked at An Hauser Brewery. Brother Max Erdmann worked at the Griesedieck Brothers Brewery. Grandpa John Bork also worked at An Hauser, after a brief stint as a carpenter (he helped repair one of the floors for a Victorian bedroom display at the St. Louis Municipal Art Museum). We were all part of the South St. Louis Germans.

In the Shaw neighborhood (extremely rich in Victorian and Gilded Age artifacts), we attended several Lutheran churches in the area; Messiah Lutheran on Grand Boulevard, directly across from the Tower Grove Park; the Mount of Olive Lutheran Church on Shaw Avenue (I recall seeing a Laurel and Hardy Christmas movie there, the March Of The Wooden Soldiers, Babes In Toyland, Hal Roach, 1934). The church was near the Shaw’s Botanical Gardens near Tower Grove Avenue and across the street from Bryan Mullanphy School at 4221 Shaw Boulevard (I began kindergarten at Bryan Mullanphy, passed through Messiah Lutheran, but finished at the Lutheran orphanage in Des Peres). The Byran Mullanphy School (named after a wealthy Mayor and Judge) was one of the many picturesque and Glided Age relics in St. Louis, designed by William B. Ittner and completed in 1941.

One of the biggest difficulties my mom had was juggling time and responsibility. If I am not mistaken, she had to work evenings at a delicate time that clashed with the schedules of school, jobs, and available caretakers. With grandparents who would speak and not feud and, again, when they wouldn’t, two brothers going to school, and then going directly to work, a niece working and living elsewhere at times, and with no day care agencies in play as they are today, my mom tried to be ‘inventive.’  These inventions eventually led to my being placed in the orphanage as some kind of official “day care.”

One system she would use was the one that got me into trouble: leaving me home alone. It was hoped that I could sleep or survive in my crib—I remember the crib railings raised as a prevention for me to roam the house—but apparently I was getting too old to be kept in the bed, I’d always climb out.  I had various ways of entertaining myself, outside of sleeping, for what seemed like hours. I’d image a tiny little chicken in a basket on a line somehow strung above my head, and an imaginary someone would pull it across the room on this line and I would study it for what seemed like forever. I probably had other daydreams to keep me busy, outside of just sleeping.

Amidst panic, loneliness, and boredom, I’d climb out and roam the house, and eventually try to escape.  One time, I was able to climb on the sink in the kitchen and reach the small window on the south wall. After pushing and playing around on the pane and frame, I noticed the window would move slightly and I could raise it up – further – further – until it was open enough for me to squeeze through and go out.  And that I did; I recall a large lump in my throat on the verge of crying and panic, and I headed out the back gate and west up the alley and into the next block alleyway – and looking ahead, I noted the backside of a lady with a long grey coat that I was sure was my mother because my mom had a coat just like that.

“Mommy!” I screamed and started running for her.  “Mommy!”

She apparently didn’t associate my screams with herself, and when I was just about up to her, she turned to see who was crying. It was not my mother; some other lady. But she turned back around quickly, momentarily pausing to contemplate the situation, and busied herself in her journey and further ignoring me. I stood there for a moment wondering what to do next. I guess I decided to continue my searching for my mom instead of going back home, and I continued on down the street – sometimes running, sometimes walking in a fervid pace, sobbing and whimpering all the while. I probably headed north on Lawrence Avenue. I don’t recall what I was wearing, or if I was in underwear or night clothes. I recall crossing a trestle many blocks from home. That might have been near Tower Grove and Park Avenues, I can’t be sure.

A family, mother, father and child, were sitting on their front porch and I could hear them murmuring amongst themselves and pointing at me as if they were gathering suspicion and puzzlement. I believe I heard the father say something like “I bet he is lost!” The father called out to me: “Son, come over here.”  They could see that I was reluctant. “You can play with my boy,” he informed me, and he motioned the boy go Inside the house and bring out some toys. They must have won my confidence as I began to play with the toys and talk with the family, answering their friendly but pointed questions: where did I live, what was my name, where was I going — why?  I don’t know how intelligently I answered their questions, but eventually a police squad car pulled up to the curb and some more of the questions continued. The officer obviously won my friendship with promises of ice cream and other things, and we headed, along, perhaps, with some of the family that rescued me (I can’t be sure if they accompanied us then or drove there later), to the police station on the corner of Magnolia and Grand Avenues.

I don’t know what kind of detective work was used, or if other information was retrieved, but eventually, after a fairly long while, through a window facing Grand Avenue, I saw my step-brother Ed (“Eddie-brother”) park his bicycle and peer into the station. I believe it was a mixed expression of amazement, disgust and a smidgen of humor that I recall on his face. I recall munching on the ice cream cone the policeman promised me.

Straddling the bicycle bar and clinging to my brother, we ventured back home going down Grand Avenue. “Boy, Stevie, wait till mom hears about this,” my brother commented. “She won’t be mad at me, will she?” I asked. The fearful comprehensions began to formulate before me.  “Well, I would imagine she would, don’t you?” he replied. My heart sunk in interposed trepidation.

I believe there was an air of mystery, somber consternation, but it seemed so polite – so introspective – as if someone had authoritatively mentioned not to scold me or discuss the subject at length in front of me – and the family was pressed to follow. Still I felt the suspicions hanging in the air as if some ghost standing about.

Therefore, the events, surrounding the matter of escaping out of the house, that followed are not clear at all.  Undoubtedly, there were big family conversations on the incident—but I don’t recall any great discipline from my mother (then, again, maybe there was, only fogged in some kind of memory avoidance; I recalled being put in the hallway closet—but this may have been a playful prank by my brothers who often teased me like this). There appeared to have been several other incidents related to and about several escape attempts from the house; enough times as to cause some grand decision-making. This eventually led to my residency at the Lutherans orphanage on Manchester Road in De Peres, Missouri.     

In the post-orphanage days, arrangements had been made for me to stay awhile with my grandmother Bork at 4646 Tennessee Avenue, a duplex she had purchased. She was renting the upstairs to help pay on her mortgage. Outside of my usual childhood tantrums, I loved living with my grandmother. Cousin Betty had come to live with her during her nursing-school days.  My mom came to visit as if a guest, much like they did on weekends when I was out at the ‘home’ on Manchester Road.  But it was definitely not the same; thiswas‘my’ home. The biggest highpoint to my staying at my grandmother Bork were the family visits and dinners for the holidays or whatever celebration the Germans deemed appropriate to be festive. German dinners were always big events, done with all the trimmings, and the ladies of the family dropping in and out in the prior week, putting on their aprons and dedicating their particular talent. But the evening before and the morning of the event was boiler-room hectic. Skippy, grandma’s dog, had been psychically alerted to the up-coming event days prior to the Big Day, and was adequately ‘on guard’, as if in some dog infantry, and attuned as the unofficial butler, madly scampering at each doorbell ring to bark and scratch at the door when guests arrived, and then pouncing on them in excited and abounding puppy love.

My grandmother Bork attended the Holy Cross Lutheran church on Miami Avenue not far from the Concordia Lutheran Publishing Concern (another German creation originating in Perry County, Missouri in 1839 and moved to St. Louis in 1849) near the late Lutheran Hospital (also an area vibrantly wealthy with turn-of-the-century relics and history) not far from the Cherokee Street shopping complex on Cherokee Street, partially running from California and Jefferson Avenues (which is now a decayed ghost town of bleak, inglorious almost desolate buildings, but was a shopping mecca back in the 40s – 60s, celebrating handsome structures such as the Casa Loma ballroom and the Cinderella Theatre as well as other bright and shinning architectural creations). Holy Cross Church was within walking distance from grandma’s Tennessee Avenue duplex. Some described it as an old German and Irish neighborhood, as evidenced by the creation of the St. Louis chapter of the American Aid Society in 1945 – later to become known as the German Cultural Society in 1969 – part of the Cherokee Street ethos at its 3652 South Jefferson address.

Grandma Bork had been complaining about an ulcer she had about her ankle; at least, during the period that I had come to live with her. She would wince in pain every so often and left her leg up to relieve the pressure on her ailment. There was a constant battle to keep our beloved pet dog, Skippy, from innocently but clumsily pawing her ankle. Grandmother had invented and would apply her own herbal concoction of a medicine on her sore: it smelled similar to turpentine, and I believe it had cloves, liniment, and other evil sounding names. Gradually, her health decreased steadily after my stay with her.

Her best friend, of course, was Skippy, her pet dog. Skippy and I came to know each other quite well. And he’d let me know I was too much of a tease with a friendly little growl, but we were best of buddies.  When she started to spend a lot of time in the hospital, grandma decided to put Skippy to sleep; she claimed it was a domestic decision and she could find no one to adopt Skippy.  I recall many a time I’d curl up to him and we would both fall sound asleep nestled to each other. When grandma had a big festive dinner with all the trimmings, and the visitors, aunts, uncles, brothers, friends, family – started coming one after the other, Skippy was wildly crazy to see them at the door, and broke all butler rules to get to the door and escort them in.   

Grandma Bork taught me many of the old ways: like keeping her front and back yard clean of weeds and “edged” with a trowel and making a bucket of bleach and  detergent, with a scrub brush, scrub  the front steps and – and – the sidewalk. Another job that grandmother gave me was cleaning her basement – I was paid a few dollars for this – but when  I say “cleaned” – it pushed the limits of the meaning of the word – amidst frequent inspections by her –  hosing down the basement, piling old wood, cleaning rafters, putting bug and mouse traps – use your imagination.

One hot afternoon, while doing the gardening on the front lawn, two young teenage girls that lived next door, several years older than me, came out to sit on their front steps and watch me.

“What’s your name?” they asked.

“Stevie,” I replied.

“Stevie; you mean Steve,” they were barely able to hide their grins and keep from laughing.

”Well, ya.” I retorted. They were about to have a lot of fun with me.

“You live there with your grandmother?”

“Yes.”

“And the Brown Cow?”

“Brown Cow?” I questioned. They stood up and pointed to Skippy in the backyard. Skippy was truly a large brown mongrel dog but nothing bovine.

“That’s Skippy!”

“Oh, he’s not a cow? We thought he was a cow.” This was said with frequent giggles. “Stevie, come up here and sit by me,”  the one girl asked me.  I marched up to her and sat next to her.

“You want a girlfriend?” she asked with a haunting pause to follow.  “You want me to be your girlfriend?”  I was at a loss for words, already noting the substantially difference in ages.

“Come on in, we’ll show you our house,” and I was escorted into their darkened apartment living room. “Do you know how to kiss, Steve?” the one girl asked. I became really embarrassed; began to fidget and blush. “I don’t know. I guess,” I replied. I believe we deliberately changed the subject because of the tension, turning to topics of what I do at home and how I keep my time, until my grandmother came out the door to see what I was doing. “It’s my grandma!” I exclaimed and quickly made way to exit. The girls said goodbye – and I don’t recall ever seeing them after that visit.

Betty was studying to be a nurse at the time and I believe she was working part-time for a hospital. She’d often come home tired and exhausted from her training. One satisfaction was grandma’s air conditioning that warded off the 50s heat waves. I recall seeing an egg being fried on the sidewalk outside the Fox Theater on the news on one of the three channels the networks had then.  She was a wonderful guardian: we visited many places about the city, she even taught me how to use a shammy cloth to shine the auto wax on her new 50s Chevy, and visits to Cherokee Street (we would drop in on her fellow nurse friends living in an upstairs apartment near Cherokee and California Streets); we’ve seemed to go everywhere. I don’t think Betty realizes how much of a parental influence I perceived her as a child; it would have been a lonely life without her and her fiancé George Banjak in my life. She helped sew up some of the tattered edges and give an air of normalcy to the choppy waves happening then. But to this date, I always suspected Betty carried an aura of ‘hurt’ – maybe even ‘resentment’ – about her, and I never could be sure why.  I only hoped it was not because of me for I loved her very much as I did so many members in my family. We both lost a parent at an early age: that much we had in common. And we both probably felt shuffled about, as well.  I recall several nights falling asleep holding Betty’s hand and the comfort and sense of security it gave me.

I remember Betty  and George’s wedding.  We spent several afternoons at Holy Cross Church rehearsing for that day. I practiced walking down the aisle. The major problem I had at the rehearsals were the shoes: they were too small, even for my youngster feet. They hurt like the bones were crunching.  Grandma found a ‘shoe spreader’ and proceeded to stretch them babies as far as she could.  But they still hurt.

On the day of the wedding, we strapped up in our rented tuxedoes. George’s Best Man was one of Betty’s old boy friends – which I believe is a tradition when possible – and we had finished the project of dressing and were standing in Grandma’s back sunroom. The Best Man, I believe his first name was Roger, turned to George and said ¨Doesn’t Stevie look like a little angel, George?”  George, under the unusual pressure and weighty solemnness of a person about to cast himself into the lake of ‘for better or worse’, thought pensively for a moment and said: “ya. He looks more like a little devil.’  Roger stopped, glanced around at me and then George, “Oh George, how can you say that?  He’s a little angel!”   George, mustered a smile, reconsidered his anxiety, “No. Stevie, you’re a real doll.”  And I was; seeing the wedding photographs later, I was a real knock-out. I often wondered how such a cute child could have turned out to be such a monster.

Later, I recall one heck of a wedding reception celebration at a basement hall near the corner of Cherokee and California streets. A lot of polka and Big Band type music.

(George Banjak was a hero of my mine all my life.  A college graduate in Business Administration, and an Army veteran, he became a Director of Hospital Administration at a major hospital in Kokomo, Indiana and later several hospitals, ending up in retirement in Asheville, North Carolina.  Betty and George have been married for over 50 years.  Later, in 2017, George confided to me on the telephone that Betty was getting symptoms of Depression.  Betty Banjak passed away in November 2018 from dementia and general conditions.  She is greatly missed.)

Cousin Betty commented at my grandmother’s funeral as we stood next to each other by the casket viewing: “Like a little duchess.” Indeed, my remembrances of grandma Bork were that she indeed was nobility. My last memory of my grandmother was in her bed at Lutheran Hospital, we had circled the room about her in complete silence. She lay very peacefully with her hands folded on her stomach; “Go say goodbye to your grandmother,” my mom whispered to me.  I crept up to the edge of the bed within viewing distance: “Grandma, goodbye,” I shyly and softly said. Her lips moved as if she was barely attempting to say something. I glanced back to my mom for approval and she nodded that I did okay. Grandma Bork died that night on August 28, 1959, a Friday, at the age of 71.

(I recall the tales my mother would tell her friends about her teenage years in American once she and the Erdmanns were established as citizens.  She described herself as quite a “flapper” – going to dance clubs and night spots with girlfriends — dressing in the latest 1920-1930 styles [including sheer, sexy nylons which my grandfather, her father, John, strictly forbade].

[Lucy Moore described a ‘flapper’ of that period in her book Anything Goes {The Overlook Press, 2010}: “Jazz was a musical revolution and the people moving to its rhythms were an entirely new breed. The girl who jumped on to a table at a Harlem nightclub and started swinging her arms wildly above her head as the Charleston played was a type of woman America had never seen before. The word ‘flapper’ described a chick desperately flapping her wings as she tried to fly, although she had not yet grown adult feathers; it had come to mean a precocious young woman whose modern appearance, attitudes, values and behavior utterly mystified her parents’ generation.”]  

“veer ver you tonight?”, his German voice boomedwith authority, “Out meit dos wide adenteuer kelinerin? Wilbelig maedchen! Ungezogen schlampe!” he thundered. “Ya? uoo gat nylon strumpfhosen, aufreizend linguee on?! Nylonstrumpfe?!”

She had been warned not to wear sexy nylons.

‘‘You want to see?!” screamed my Mom back, ‘hiking’ her leg up on a chair and raising her skirt to her waist.

It was an action she would regret deeply and emotionally for a long time: John Bork launched into a furious retaliation of discipline in which my mother barely survived!

Clara Bork (her maiden name), was a feisty, hot-tempered, seductive teenager, who immigrated with her Sister Erna and her mom and dad, John and Marie, just before Adolf Hitler took complete power of state in Germany, leading to World War II.  It was the 1930s: The Borks had seen the political warning signs in Germany and they left a bakery business and the city of Kiel to be safe from the growing threat. Grandma Bork told of proud and stately times they lived in Germany, and on her wall of the front room at her duplex on Tennessee was a photo of John Bork in what appeared to be a naval uniform; John was said to have worked aboard a German submarine in the military.

Clara, a virulently pretty German teenager with light blonde hair, and sassy beauty, was attractive to men [photos of her parents, John and Marie Bork, also show them to both be good-looking people in their early years].  Clara Erdmann often referred to herself as a Bette Davis-type personality and likened her feisty temperament to that portrayed by that actress. The late Ed Harris, a young Jewish journalist, noticed Clara scrubbing the front steps one day [a tradition for the “scrubby Dutch”] and struck up a friendship by calling her “toots”.  My mom is mentioned in Ed Harris’ autobiography Love They Neighbor [a tome which Harris had hoped to and was trying to have made into atelevision series]. Writer and columnistHarris eventually went through the trouble of locating my mom in the 50s and inviting her, me, and my step-dad out to his large West Virginia farm to visit him, his wifeand family.  I was staying with grandma Bork on Tennessee Avenue at that time and I recall that day a mysterious man telephoned making inquiries. Grandma Bork seemed genuinely afraid and suspicious of this ‘mystery call’ of a stranger trying to locate my mom.  As it turned out, all in all, it was quite a memorable event for my mom. And, as I learned as years went on, she certainly left quite an impression where ever she went; it would not be unheard of for an old boy-friend to show some longing.

I was constantly reminded of my German heritage in so many ways, not just in the artifacts that the Germans had built about St. Louis, but the odds and ends that immigrant Germans brought with them from the Old Country.  As a tot on Castleman, I’d listen to the old records my mom brought from Kiel, sandwiched in with and amongst the more modern and current 78 LP records of the 40s and 50s (some had red, some had green, and some had black labels).  Some of them I’d like to play over and over – their yearnings and searchings’ – mixed with visions of World War II, portraits of Army Air Force fighter planes, sea battlers of bellowing gun turrets – exuberant soldiers and sailors on leave – Jo Stafford’s rendition of You Belong To Me (Columbia Records, 1952: I could almost feel  the soldier’s thoughts, as he flew over a jungle, thinking of his girlfriend), Margaret Whiting’s Far Away Places, 1948, etched a compulsion within me to search exotic lands and places, “They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am…But I know that I’m burning to see…Those faraway places with strange sounding names callin’, callin’ me” (the team of Alex Kramer and soon to be wife Joan Witney wrote 180 songs and entered the U.S. Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1982), Sentimental Journey by Doris Day (Les Brown orchestra, 1944) likewise gripped my heart and told of the era of World War II with visions of thousands of soldiers and sailors boarding trains and ships coming home), Vaughn Monroe’s Racing With The Moon (1941),there was the growingly popular Gene Autry’s Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer.  Many of those songs seemed to have become part of my DNA and imprinted on my soul tothis day. On A Slow Boat To China, Eddy Howard. Open The Door Richard, Louis Jordan. When I think of my cousin Betty as a teenager, these songs come to mind; or even when I remember that little gold Buddha image our next-door neighborhood, Mrs. Chalmers, had on her dresser, these songs would come to mind.But this particular summer, I discovered in that stack of records and began playing overand over and over one soul-stirring, thundering, gut–wrenching march that could even could swell the chest of a toddler with passion and pride, even though I did not understand the historic nature of the anthem. It was in German, but in reality, it sang:

…….Germany, Germany above everything, about everything in the world……

When it is always for protection and defense….brother sticks together……

From the Mense to the Neman…..from the Adige to the Belt……Germany, Germany Above everything, above everything in the world…..”

It was the German National Anthem used by Nazi Germany (but originating much earlier in 1797 and 1931, before the Nazis), the Duetschland Uber Allies, also known as Deutschlandlied der Deutschen and sometimes called Horst Wessel-lied.

Stevie!” My mother whipped around the corner from the kitchen into the front room area where I was laying belly-down listening to the anthem. “Stop playing that! Stop that now!” she shouted.  My brother John raced down from his room on the second floor:

“What’s wrong, mom?  What’s going on?” he was genuinely puzzled. I remember him standing there in his blue jeans in the short space between the kitchen and the front room.

“I’m afraid we would get into trouble if the neighbors heard us playing that!” she informed my brother, “Hitler’s Army use to play that in the war.” Despite all the war comic books and war souvenirs and paraphernalia floating around at that time, it was not apparent to me of how recent was the year 1945.  John just glanced down at me with that typical amused David and Ricky Nelson grin and smiled and said my nick-name: “Don’t be getting us into trouble now, would ja, sink-cheese?” and went back upstairs giggling. That was my beloved ‘Johnnie-brother’, as I often referred to him.

The episode ended with my whining and whimpering, leveling a salvo of questions at my Mom busying herself in the kitchen, trying to avoid me.  “Why was the song bad, mom? Mom? Mom?.”  And she tried to end the conversation with lame and edgy explanations, “It just was, Stevie”, or, “I don’t know, maybe some bad people sang it”.

Enjoyable memories visit me (especially when I presently listen to When Radio Was on local KMOK radio) of my laying before our front room radio console (which resembled or may have been a RCA k-60 console), sometimes on my stomach, sometimes on my back, and listened to the mystery and drama radio programs such as FBI In Peace And War,  starring Frederick l. Collins; The Cisco Kid (1942-1954); Inner Sanctum Mysteries (1941-1952); Gun Smoke (1952-1961); The Shadow (1931-1954); Suspense (1942-1962); not to mention many local voices such as announcer and radio personality Rex Davis on KMOK in St, Louis, or the famous voice of baseball, sportscaster Harry Carey (Harry Christopher Carabina: “Holy Cow!”). There was no better way to train a young child’s imagination than radio entertainment.  I can smell the dust of the living room rug that tweaked my nostrils as I hugged my face close to the floor, my mind in another world shelled in rabid imagination of solemn words and often dark intrigue.  

(Dr. Clay Routledge of the North Dakota State University says of nostalgia: “Nostalgia is a way for us to tap into the past experiences that we have that are quite meaningful – to remind us that our lives are worthwhile, that we are people of value, that we have good relationships, that we are happy and that life has some sense of purpose or meaning.”  Dr. Tim Wildschut of the University of South Hampton said that nostalgia is a “fundamentally humane emotion”. Linda Kennedy, director of a play based on Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy, said “we all romanticize about certain periods in our lives.”  Even Benjamin Kyle, who suffered from retro – grade or dis-associative amnesia, had this to say: “Where we came from always carries more emotional weight than where we are at now.”)

It was a first-time trip that I had prepared, somewhat slovenly, haphazardly, and far too simplistically, for some of the remaining members of my childhood German Lutheran church in Carondelet, Missouri. The trip was to the Des Peres City Hall.  But that building was at one time my home: it was at one time the German Evangelical Lutheran Orphanage at 12325 Manchester Road were I resided for 2 to 3 years in the early 1950s, when my mother was forced to place me as a half-orphan as she struggled to cope with widowhood and employment after my father died when I was 10-months-of-age.  She coped with life’s problems till I was about eight-years-of-age, when lifestyles of my teenage brothers and feuds between my grandparents and daughter and daughter-in-law made it the shortest distance between two points. To me, it was the end of the world. To me, it was abandonment. To me, it was being left on a desert island – my father left long time ago – now my mother.  No explanation to the contrary would convince me otherwise. It was the new and strange Land of Oz (and the televising of the movie The Wizard of Oz was a yearly ritual for orphans).

I still feel and recall that tight knot in my stomach – that foreboding – that small voice in my head telling me “somebody is lying to me” – as my mom and I rode on the Manchester bus out to 12325 Manchester in the 1950s – setting foot off the bus, suitcases at my side – looking down what appeared to my small mind as a long, long  driveway into the ——— unknown. Every step towards that majestic edifice of the orphanage administration and boarding rooms on the other end was as if it was unreal, a dream, and I should wake up any minute. I would keep looking at the expression on my mom’s face: was she sad, happy, or uninterested? Her expression almost seemed blank and without reality, and even more, frighteningly ‘calm’. And then, once we met the House Mother, Momma Casper, the stark truth of my fate hit me like a stone wall: I was going to be left behind, left here, alone, and I began to scream in panic. Many years later, as an elderly man, I will recall the scene from Steven Spielberg’s movie A.I. (the end product ofStanley Kubrick’s rendition of the science-fiction story by Brian Aldiss, Super-toys Last All Summer Long) where the adopted robotic, synthetic child, David, was taken by his mother, Monica Swinton, into the woods to be deserted: It was almost De’Ja’ Vue; I’ve somehow been there before straight out of Spielberg’s fiction. But this time I had captors; the House Mother, Lottie Kasper, picked me up and crashed me to the floor; “you crashed me like an airplane!” I made the strange, bizarre, awkward metaphor and exclamation, but I heard my mother, and Momma Kasper, both, laughing as if they could not see the seriousness, the gut-wrenching fear of being given into a wilderness to be abandoned. Then, in a matter of a few minutes, she was gone I don’t remember if i was even allowed to watch her walk up that long, straight driveway back to the bus stop. I just can’t remember.

A FAR AND DISTANT SHORE

“Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere, waiting for me, my lover stands on golden sands…and watches the ships that go sailing…it’s far beyond a star, it’s near beyond the moon….I know beyond a doubt…my heart will lead me there soon…” Somewhere Beyond The Sea, Bobby Darin, 1959. ‘La Mer’, Charles Trenet and Jack Lawrence, 1946. 

Life at the “children’s home”, as it was also known, soon fell into an unwelcomed, to a broken-hearted child, routine; but, then again, oft times exciting, adventure-filled extravaganzas. It was almost like an induction in a military service, assigned a dormitory room with each child his own locker for his Sunday-to-Church clothes and other personal items. I often imagine the administrators and care-takers’ hearts would break to see the lonesomeness of their children; others were very happy to have shelter, good schooling, and someplace to call home; our dormitory parents were known as Momma and Paper Kasper (Lottie and Charley, both members of St. Paul’s Lutheran parish until the time of their deaths).

Most of the children were then, and still are, just faces.  Not because I had any animosity towards them.  Several became close friends; just that at that age, one usually retains first names much easier. There was Victor Kruger, the stutterer, was mentally-challenged, more than others, probably stigmatized because his mother had been in a mental institution (Dean told me that Victor had been misdiagnosed and through the efforts of the staff, Victor graduated from High School as any other kid), Bobby, Willie Rohs, and Ronnie Schlitter (who turned up in several of the photos my visiting family took; we could have been called the suspender kids because we always werephotographed wearing our suspenders; some of us were, steeped in insecurity, also all a bunch of bed-wetter’s). But through the records of Anthony Dean, fellow orphan, names took on more imagery. Tommy Cagle (which also was photographed with me playing or posing about the ‘farm [yes, the ‘home’ was also a ’farm’ with fresh milk, cows, rows upon rows of produce from tomatoes to rhubarb, a barn, a tractor, apple trees and even a onion storage mound back in the woods beyond the small pond in the back acres). Willie Rohs came straight from Germany (wearing authentic wooden shoes and ethic attire) and could not speak English; house-mother Kathren Paul taught Willie English.  I had a photo of Willie and I standing side by side (with suspenders) out on the front lawn. Little Ronnie Schlitter (Dean told me that Ronnie was a veteran of the Viet Nam war and had received the Silver Star for heroism; a hand grenade was thrown into the midst of his buddies and Schlitter single-handedly pounced on the grenade and threw it away from the group, saving them) and I would take turns flirting with visiting High School girls who’d come to spend the afternoon with us. Little Henry Freitz and his sister Lois and brother Johnnie; a troop of orphans were taken to a fully displayed Barnum and Bailey Circus in the country [transported in an old Army truck with the benches circling the inside perimeter {that truck drove us everywhere, it seemed} on a rather slow day and a somewhat empty Main Tent, but Henry was enjoying the clown stunts that allowed him to laugh his little heart out; that day was a great success for him). I recall John Van Norman, one of my best playmates. Looking back to those orphanage days, it appeared to be one adventure after another and excitement, and the best care that a lonely child could wish for. But in the end, how do you erase any mental effect that it could possibly have had to a child that sat by his clear or open dormitory window next to his bed at night (make-believing the electric lights on the horizon were the Shaw neighborhood or Carondelet) and sadly and despondently pray to be with his mother and brothers and friends and wonder why this all came about?

I had much time to myself and roaming the park and fields about the orphanage.  One afternoon, playing adjacent to the radishes and rhubarb, one of the teenage girls who lived in their private room on the upper floors (my psychic sense tells me it may have been Betty Petty) was playing her records (and Hank Williams, Hey Good Looking […what ya got cookin?…how about cookin something up with me?…], and other country songs seemed to be her favorite style).  One song either was her favorite – or she was playing it loudly to tease other orphans – but its forlorn and haunting melody and words came floating out into the yards, bringing me to tears and sad thoughts (William Orville “Lefty” Fruzzel having a somewhat tumultuous life, became popular in the strain of Jimmy Rogers and Roy Orison; coming to live in Big Spring, Texas in the 1950s, Fruzzel wrote the Mom And Dad waltz in 1951, toured with Hank Williams in October, 1951 and in July of that year became a member of the Grand Ole’ Opry, died on July 19, 1975 from a stroke, and was elected to the Country Musical hall of Fame in 1982):

“I’d walk for miles – cry or smile – for momma and daddy –  I want them –  to know –  I love them so….I’d walk for miles – cry or smile – for my momma and daddy –  I want them –  to know –  how I feel –  my love is real –  for my momma and daddy –  I want them  –  to know – I love them so….”
“I’d fight in wars – do all the chores – for my momma and daddy – I want  them – to live on – till they’re called….I’d work and slave – and never rave – for momma and daddy – because I know I owe them my all….”       

Suddenly, many years later, in 2008, that lack of preparation for an outing was an insult and, apparently, a threat to the psyche of Moriarty Wild.  It was Wild’s second visit to the Des Peres site, this time in a group, and he expected everyone to measure-up to his private standards, unbeknownst to everyone else on the trip. And, perhaps, it was a disappointment to him or anyone else – and what was I trying to display anyway?  How can someone reveal, portray what is deep within his soul or his nightmares and dreams; and should it be done at all?

Manchester Road was the original Route 66; Des Peres, Missouri came into being in 1901; in 1834, the Des Peres Presbyterian Church on Moddy Road, later Ballas Road, marked the future site of the orphanage.

The Lutheran Orphanage was originally opened in 1868, and was joined by a second building in 1873; these constructions were essentially replaced in 1893. A fire in 1935 forced the orphanage to be rebuilt in 1936. And to better accommodate the children, the Andrew Cremer Memorial School was built in 1947. I recall spending several grades on the lower level: Ester Bester, an older lady, taught us in the east classroom and a very young and a very pretty young lady, Irene Scharrer (now, Mrs. Hartmann), taught on the west class room.  Irene did not realize I had a deep childhood crush on her, and I spent an unusual amount of time starring at her; she seemed so different and alluring to me, even at that age.  No one taught me that it was improper to stare excessively at people, and she did such heart-pounding things (even at my young age it was apparent I was a sprouting male) like walk about with no shoes on. After several flirtatious glances given her, Irene became very insulted and she would let me know that in no uncertain terms. It broke my heart. But she let me know we definitely were not friends. I spoke to Irene on the phone in September 2011 and she remembers no animosity at all; she recalls me as “that little blond” that was fairly quiet.  She was quite flattered that I had a crush on her and we spoke of the many memories we both had. Ester spent most of her time, as I recall, reading stories to us and allowing us to draw art and pictures. Even back then, Steve Erdmann’s psyche was perceiving futuristic problems; most of my art were drawings of volcanoes and explorers going down into their depths, of atomic bomb explosion cloud-plumbs; and the ‘swinging pole’ act from the Barney and Bailey Circus Big Tent routine. We had a wood-working shop in the basement, but I never became a carpenter craftsman.

The first level of the main building had a long hallway running from the “boys’” side to the “girls’’’ side. The hallway looked so much longer then, as more recently viewed; so did lawns, roads, and other childhood scenes.  Along the hallway were the administration offices, a pay phone, a ‘playroom’ on the west end, stairways on each end section, and my dormitory on the north end, adjacent to Mom and Pop Kasper’s private living quarters. The hallway was also the entrance to the large dining room on the West side through two doors; and west of the dining room was a fairly large kitchen were all that farm produce and fresh milk and real butchered hogs and cows might be served (we had a little brick slaughter house in the back, just outside the rear entrances; the kids were welcomed to watch the killing and slaughter, though most couldn’t stomach it. The kitchen was torn down when the building became Des Peres City).

One of the most memorable items was a “news cabinet” towards the East end on the wall near the offices: each week a rectangular news photo was placed in the glass cabinet, possibly from Reuters. I recall seeing the explosion plumb-cloud from one of the atomic tests; the body of the shooting of some famous Mafioso  laying on the sidewalk (I have not been able to locate what killing it might be, other than a 1951 murder of mobster Willie Moretti – it was a body stretched outside a car on the sidewalk, reminded me of the photo of the 1983 murder photo of Paul Castellano); military fire-fights from the Korean War such as the big cannons being fired; the photos of the atomic spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg at the time of their death sentencing (their Supreme Court appeals ran out on July 19, 1953).

In 1995, the National Security Agency publicly released documents from the VENONA project, an effort to decrypt intercepted messages between Soviet agents and the NKVD/KGB. A spy with the code name of ANTENNA and LIBERAL was confirmed, leading to Julius Rosenberg. A November 27, 1944 document indicated that Ethel Rosenberg was complacent, though not evident, in the spying.  KGB handler Alexandre Keklisov, Julius was originally recruited by the KGB in Labor Day 1942, by former spymaster Semyon Semenov. According to Feklisov, Julius secreted thousands of classified reports from Emerson Radio, along with complete schematics for a proximity fuse, the same design that was used to shoot down Gary Powers’ U-2 in 1960.  Rosenberg recruited individuals to the KGB’s service, including brother-in-law. David Greenglass, who was a machinist on the super-secret atomic Manhattan Project.     

The atomic tests were significant events in the Early 50s. The tests would be announced in advanced so orphans would gather to watch the televised explosion on the dining room television set. There never was a big crowd. I recall sitting by myself one time, a fellow orphan came in and asked what I was doing. “They are counting down to the atomic bomb!” I exclaimed, “be quiet!”  3 – 2 – 1– 0 – a pregnant moment of silence – the whole television screen would go white for a second – and then as the brilliance faded away – that twisting, swirling mass of black, grey bellowing cloud rose up in to the air, amidst the announcer’s fervid telecast and static, brooding speech.

One of the first bomb tests was on January 27, 1951 – ‘Big Shot’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Buster’, ‘Jangle’, ten-kiloton; after April 22, 1952, televised broadcasts of the bomb explosions – called Atomic Parties – Dawn Bomb Parties –  swept the nation – ‘Tumbler’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Snapper’, ‘Upshot’, ‘Knothole’, Operation Ranger: One bomb every three weeks for twelve years until the Test Ban limitation in 1963. That was 235 bombs and $176 million in 50s dollars in Federal Funds.

Operation Sugar was the first bomb in early 1951 exploded on the surface of the desert rather than dropped from the air by plane.  Operation Upshot-Knothole-Badger on May 8, 1953, exposed 145 ponderosa pines brought in from Kyle Canyon to the force of the 23-kiloton bomb.  On May 25, 1953, a cannon nicknames ‘Atomic Annie’ fired a 15-kiloton atomic bomb.  The Operation Hamlet 26 kiloton Dirty Harry bomb of May 8, 1953, in Frenchman Flat caused an unusual large amounts of radiation which concentrated in St. George, Utah.  

The bomb tests became so common place that watching mushroom clouds turned into a Las Vegas tourist attraction.  Now, the entire nation could witness an atomic blast in the 50s from the comfort of their homes as the media provided live television coverage.  As one news reporter exclaimed; “Hell bust from the skies over Yucca Flat this morning as America’s latest model atom bomb exploded with enough force to devastate much of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or any other big city.” (Hugh Baillie, UPI, Tuesday, April 22, 1952, 6 a.m.)

“Building the bomb was the single most expensive engineering project in the history of the United States,” said Annie Jacobson in Area 51: An Uncensored History Of America’s Top Secret Military Base, “It began in 1942, and by the time the bomb was tested inside the White Sands Proving Ground in the New Mexico high desert on July 16, 1945, the bomb’s price tag, adjusted for inflation, was $28,000,000,000. The degree of secrecy maintained while building the bomb is almost inconceivable. When the world learned that America had dropped an atomic weapon on Hiroshima, no one was more surprised than the U.S. Congress, none of whose members had any idea it was being developed.” 

The Atomic Age was upon us and I was a part of it. My father, Steve Erdmann, passed away in April 1945.  During that same month a Target Committee met to discuss which Japanese cities to target with the atomic bomb; and shortly following the Joint Intelligence Committee informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the “inevitability of absolute defeat” of Japan.

When the first July 15, 1945 atomic bomb exploded, William L. Laurence wrote in the New York Times: “The atomic age began at exactly 5;30 Mountain War Time on the morning of July 15,1945, on a stretch of semi-desert land about 50 airline miles from Alamogordo, New Mexico and just at that instance there rose from the bowels of the earth a light not of this world, the light of many suns in one……”

Co-inventor of the bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, was solemn, pensive and macabre; he quoted the 2,000-year-old Bhagavad Gita of India: “I am become death, the Shatterer of worlds.”

Kenneth Tompkins Bainbridge turned to Oppenheimer and said pointedly, succinctly: “Now we’re all sons-of-bitches.”

“The 509 Composite Group, 20th Air Force will deliver its first special bombers as soon as the weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August, 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki” read the orders devised near July 24, 1945 and which came down from Secretary of War Henry Stimson, General Carl Spatz, Commander of the U.S Army Strategic Air Forces, and Chief Of Staff General Thomas Handy.

The Tube

Television was a comparatively new invention. The first time I recall seeing it was at childhood playmate’s next-door apartment on Castleman, the Snido family.  The Arthur Godfrey program sticks in my mind, as well as Les Paul and Mary Ford singing How High The Moon, whileKate Smith sang patriotic anthems at the end of the televising day.

But there was a plethora of sets at the orphanage, placed strategically throughout building (I recall one television in the dinning room, one in the first-floor west playroom, one in the basement West lounge, there were several placed strategically throughout the orphanage). And it was through these magic lenses that the “dawn of the space age” began its assent in its prophetic sirens call: SPACE PATROL, which had begun on March 9, 1950 in Los Angeles, went from ½ hour segments to 30-minute segments on April 29, 1953.  Commander Buzz Corry (Ed Kemmer) of the United Planets Space Patrol, along with his comedic and jovial sidekick Cadet Happy (Lyn Osborn). And the orphans had these magic heroes, jetting about in the Terra V Spacecraft, utilizing their miniature space-o-phones and Atomolights, fighting nefarious interplanetary villains on diabolical ventures each Saturday.  “Revolt of the Space Rats”.  “The menace of Planet X”. “Escape of Mr. Proteus”.  

These childhood space adventure sceneries became second nature to me – as well as to actual scientists who later confessed that they were inspired by the series – as were so many 1950s TV programs inspiration – such as THE HOWDY-DOODY program starring many string puppets and the master of ceremonies Buffalo Bob (Robert Schmidt). The popular program started with Buffalo Bob asking jovially: “Hey kids, what time is it!?”  And the 40 or so kids in the Peanut Gallery shouting back: “It’s Howdy Doody time!” The program consisted of a menagerie of Chief Thunderthud, Clarabell-the-Clown, Zippy the Chimp, Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring, and many other iconic characters.

Perhaps the biggest political campaign in my life took place at the orphanage; the year that Howdy Doody ran against puppet Mayor Phineas T. Bluster in 1952.  It was also the year of the American Presidential campaign: Governor Adlai Stevenson versus Dwight D. Eisenhower. Surprisingly, Mayor Bluster stirred the passions of a few orphans, and garnered some votes; probably because some of the older kids knew the political system and how to create opposing politics.  It certainly did in me: and no one was going to oust the beloved Doody.  I looked about the premises and found one broken and splintered inch by inch stick.  Then I looked about the premises and found a torn, white tee-shirt.  Using one of the abundant crayons on site, I wrote the words in bold black crayon on both sides of the shirt: VOTE FOR HOWDY DOODY.  With a tight grip on the stick, I proceeded to run around the periphery, trying to stay to the driveways and walkways, shouting at the top of my voice “Vote for Howdy Doody!  Vote for Howdy Doody!”, incessantly, relentlessly. Not just on a single day, but day after day after day.  Such passion had never been seen in a political campaign before – or ever since.  And it did not go unnoticed.

One of the program’s sponsors, Wonder Bread, had mailings and placings of voting ballets.  Apparently a decision had been made and a few telephone calls created, unbeknownst to me, to certain parties concerning the fervid activity at the orphanage.  While doing my regular marathon race one day, my attention was drawn to the whirring engine of a small plane – Piper Cub or something – that was dropping low over me in the front lawn. I watched intrigued as suddenly paper was discharged and strewn from the plane, descending all over the front patio and grass.  When retrieved it was discovered to be waxed Doodyville voting ballots.  Somewhat shocked and surprised, I suddenly realized that my promoters

were behind me all the time; and, now, I had to get to work……

It must have been to my additional efforts, as I had no idea how close a race it was, but Howdy may have just squeaked through the election to become Mayor; thank God I had hung in there.

Daily life at the “home” was capped time and again by idiosyncratic happenings in the life of orphans, right out of the pages of children themes such as Oliver Twist, Little Orphan Annie, or The Hardy Boys, lavishly encrusted in a sequence of daily episodes over those years.

Saturdays were our weekly bathing times, the girls lined up single file on the west end of the building starting in the basement, and the boys on the east end in likewise fashion, spiraling one floor at a time up the staircases till they reach the inclined corridor leading to the bathing area near the infirmary. The heralding effort by Momma Kasper entailed each boy to strip naked as she diligently knelt by the bathtub, scrubbed their body down, suds the hair and thrust their head under the facet to rinse the soap and go on to the next child in military fashion.  But there’s the rub:  I was deathly afraid to have my head thrust under the facet in that fashion – sacred to death actually – a phobia that took me many years to overcome.

Consequently, when bathing time came, and the announcement was made to form the lines up the staircase – I ran; I tried to escape – out into the farming fields – out beyond the north ponds – into the wooded areas – anywhere.  “Stevie Erdmann! Come on in and get your bath!” boomed the voice from the Administrator’s office building-speakers. I crouched and shivered in fear, contemplating the teenage vigilante squad that was always sent out to look for me; and they either found me, or I gave up in desperation from receiving some punishment.  Going under the facet was a deep, dark entrance into a symbolic  grave, and often journeyed with screams and crying until it was over.

Amongst other childhood wonders of that period was the fantastic experience of “‘drive-in (out-door) motion picture theaters”.  We had, at our disposal, so-to-speak, the “first” created drive-in in the metropolitan area: the Manchester drive-in opened in Des Peres on May 24, 1940. It was a short distance west of the orphanage at 12500 Manchester; we could walk there and did several times like little “troopers” with Army back-packs, except it was our pillows tucked under our arms, and in single file fashion, marching down the long driveway, accompanied by our House Parents, making an abject right-turn and marching straight down Manchester into the drive-in and assembling in the “Kiddie Area” towards the playground at the front of the movie screen. Today, all the drive-ins in the immediate area are gone.  Wow! One of the movies I recalled watching with other orphans was the 1952 movie The Great Show On Earth, the circus film, starring Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wide and Jimmy Stewart. The movie parroted the actual trials and tribulations of the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus in route with their 1400 people and 60 Carloads of animals and actors (plus a make-shift train wreck).

The Manchester drive-in was part of the Philip Smith movie chain held by the National Theatre in Boston; It held 500 cars, The chain began as Midwest Drive in 1937 with theaters in Cleveland and Detroit. In 1951 it became the Smith Management Company and later General Drive, General Cinema Corporation, and finally Harcourt and General Cinema.

Wehrenberg Des Peres 14 Cine is presently across Manchester/I-270 from the old drive-in site. The drive-in closed on June 18, 1967 to make way for the shopping The West County Shopping Centre.  

The Manchester drive-in was also the Lutheran church’s choice for Easter Sunrise services, and, as the title suggests, bright and early before sunrise, automobiles and crowds of people arrived – orphans in tow – to a special celebration at the drive-in every Easter holiday.  

Chapter Two – The Spirits Move

ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER

(Annie: “Anything you can do I can do better….I can do anything better than you.”  Frank: “No, you can’t” Annie: “Yes, I can.”  Frank: “No you can’t.”  Annie: “Yes, I can.”  Frank: “No, you can’t.”  Annie: “Yes, I can, yes I can!”   Frank: “Anything you can be I can be greater; sooner or later I’m greater than you….I can drink my liquor faster than a flicker….”  Annie: “I can do it quicker and get even sicker….” Irvin Berlin’s musical, 1946, Annie Get Your Gun.)     

John Moeller and I go way back to grade school days and juvenile tufts and tangles: such as the Army-Navy club.  John’s dad had been in the Army and my step-brother had been in the Navy, and so ensuing conversations over which branch of service had best evolved militarily over the years turned into documenting facts about why the one branch of service was better than the other, usually in fighting capabilities. This involved which branch had better weaponry. Since this was the dawning (not just the Age of Aquarius, as they later sang in the musical Hair, but..…) of the age of the military ballistic- missile, it was also the rise of the Space Age, and I recall the debate over which branch of military service was to mandate the launching of our first outer space satellite.  As it turned out, the Navy lost with the explosion of the Vanguard rocket and the Army won with the launch of the Explorer satellite.  John  and  I had our battles too; I had invented the Navy aircraft carrier launching system with a Monel  alloy metal slab (my step-father and foundry-worker, Walter Moser, recommended this alloy) off which a three-stage Disney Tomorrow World-type rocket would blast-off (in my imagination, of course) into space while out at sea. And I had a whole raft of drawings and sketches in secret files (some right in the school room, attended by some of fellow female students – which we had somehow enlisted into the secretarial ranks of our competition).

One of my “notebook inventions” was a rocket run on very micro-granulated pulp (paper) mixed with liquid oxygen and ignited in a specially designed “nozzle”. Technically, theoretically, it could work.

Another “notebook invention” was basically, what we would call in 2010, “photon synchronization” (I am not sure what I called it then) or a synchrotron in gravity-free outer space where large masses could be eventually accelerated to the speed-of-light, or seemingly so. I recall inventing some kind of filament focusing cap or chamber, or some such idea. I’ll never really know what my notes said about this until they are discovered in the cave of my garage storage. 

I recall studiously watching for “rocket news” in the papers, and upon spying a column or topic (especially with photos of ballistic missiles, Redstone rockets, or news on the “space race”); I’d add it to my collection of clippings and put them in my shoe box of news.

The era became traditionally and vernacularly known as the “Space Age”.

We even had secret meetings: some which were about a makeshift aircraft carrier in my parents’ basement – to which John sent spies over to try and look through the basement windows.  Sometimes John spied on his own special mission.  Contests and debates ensured, and I had not seen the heat, fervor, and political determination since the Great Howdy Doody campaign for Major of Woodville against Mr. Finiaus T. Bluster in the 50s television show ( as previously  disclosed in my short two to three year sojourn at the Lutherans’ Orphanage in Des Peres, Missouri in the early 1950s) in which I was witness and in charge of campaigning for Howdy….but I digress.  Such debates and contests were typical for John and I and I suppose the tradition carries on to this day. But it was usually all part of growing up and added to the color and nostalgia of “yesterday”.  As much as some things change, they stay the same.

John’s competitive nature was divulged in his passion for basketball. John joined the Saint Trinity basket team. Youth Night, which the school designated as Thursday evenings, and the grade school kids and friends could come to activities such as pin-pong or basketball.  John and the other guys were eager to hone their basketball skills and I recall John being one of the more vibrant and earnest players on the court…..often set in my memory as a big ball of sweat racing up and down the court, waving his hand in the air, asking his team-mates to ‘past the ball’ to him.  Not that basketball was totally foreign to me.  I attempted to play on the Team for a semester, I believe.  I played left forward; and my sole talent was standing there in that one spot and having the ball thrown to me while the opposing team was kept busy on the opposite side of the court, proceeding to allow me to “swish” the ball into the basket. I recall the eighth-grade girls screaming when I did that — which didn’t happen as often as I’d wish. But my biggest problem with my basketball was simple things like “dribbling,” “fouls,”  “travelling,” and having the ball “constantly stolen” from me. Fellow classmate, Craig Behrens, also made attempts to try out the sport.  But Craig’s true love was going deer hunting with his father: one weekend the hunting clashed to his requested attendance at a basketball game.  John’s reaction was livid: they had lost the game – Craig had not been there.  Craig was going to “hear” about this!  The “showdown” had been announced.  Craig, who was never a dull or unintelligible person, answered John’s protest: “let me ask you something: if you were me, knowing my passion for deer hunting with my father, and you had the opportunity to get out in the wilds and do what you love, what would you do?” john thought about it for a moment – and the conversation ended with no one worse for the wear; and Craig still a happy “camper”.

We also had an innate grade-school crush on this girl or that girl, and we had some real sweethearts – highly unappreciative the boys were in those days —– looking back in time. We always took for granted those wonderful little moments and the flowering vibrancy of female charm and adolescent allure.  But competition set in those moments as well. However, in a few instances I won those bouts as Youth Night basketball became the other lady, but I often won the real girl instead.                      

(Anna Nadir had a good perspective: “Past is meant to be in the past.  If you dwell with it too much, you’ll never be able to move on. If I had kept tight to all the small lil misunderstandings I had with all my friends, I’ll never be good friends with anyone right now. You forgive and forget, but at the same time, learn from it and escape from repeating the same mistake again….Running away from viewing the bad/ugly side of our self is not that healthy either….None of us are perfect, so if you can know you have weaknesses, work on improving it, not ‘run away’ from it, that is ‘never’ a solution….” http://www.siraplimau.blogspot.com.)

I recall that in my ‘single’ years, later when struggling to adapt to and survive in being “alone” after 12 years of marriage, I did my share of socializing at “dance clubs”; and I did my share of visiting “pubs” trying to  acclimate  to what might be a typical modern life style  (never could achieve the money part, though I was a reader of Playboy  – – – I  suspect, like so many divorced or single men, my main concern was being lonely, afraid, disenfranchised, and somehow fending the “wolves” that were then snarling at the “target” on my back. Those years, however, seemed a combination of good and bad experiences. And, much like my childhood, I tried to “invent” adventure – – – be out and about “people”, places, and things (like Barbra Streisand says her song People: “people who need people….”) – – – to negate the harsh realities that pounced upon me.

MORIARTY WILD AND THE SCHOOL OF LUDDITE, HUMAN CYNICISM

“Some of my childhood experiences I’ve told Moriarty Wild about. Some of the more-darker experiences, I just couldn’t speak of (as Uncle Tonoose [Hans Conried] use to say on the Danny Thomas Show – Make Room For Daddy – “Never allow the camel to stick his nose under the tent, before too long, you will have the whole camel inside the tent”,” I wrote Wild. “Those experiences have probably, much like you, entrenched the schizoid- feelings that have grown within me.”

“But would I give up the “good” memories just because they don’t fit in or satisfy some Luddite-separatist philosophy? It is not clear what you are asking; and, again, I am not sure anyone should care. Why would you ask that I become a self-abolitionist of everything in my past to suit Mr. Wild?”

“People are like animals – savages – most minorities bring their third-world leanings into what once was a fairly clean and growing nation. Gradually, they have destroyed it!” Wild exclaimed as we walked in the Spring scent of blossoms and fresh foliage in the historic Tower Grove park off Grand. “That’s the secret part of history the blacks and minorities won’t tell you. They are afraid of telling you, because they have not earned it and want to destroy it.  I don’t feel like arguing about it now – but I’ll prove it to you one day.” I sympathized with Wild’s basic fears of seeing a country that  so many felt had the strings of opportunity for a better way of life, and was now being destroyed from carelessness and unintentional and even willful ignorance……yet I could not help but  feel that Wild was desperately lacking in insight.

The Tower Grove park symbolized, perhaps, everything that  Wild was inferring. The park was originally part of Henry Shaw’s original purchase of 1,293 acres; 270 acres designated as Tower Grove Park (an intricate part of the 1904 World’s Fair), and the remainder to his Botanical garden, in 1849, known as Shaw’s Garden.  Shaw was often referred to by friends as “Hank” and they frequently called the garden “Hank’s Garden”.  It later became known after his death as the Missouri Botanical Garden – a research and tourist center – the park was a designed landscape of gazebos and trees, some of which Shaw selected and planted himself; one of several Victorian strolling parks that contained jewels of architectural design. In 1868, Shaw gave Tower Grove Park to the city and retained Shaw’s Garden to grow into a modern botanical research center of delicate but enormous style which eventually constructed the Climatron (the first geodesic dome green house).  With the help of colleagues and botanists, Dr. George Engelmann and Jakob Bernhardt, and 60,000 specimen herbarium for $600 dollars, ‘Hank’s Garden’ was created.  In the 1880s, the Linnean House (named after Karl Linneaus; the father of the science of plant classification) came into being, housing palms, citrus and other tender plants. The property was decorated with busts of botanists Asa Gray and Thomas Nuttal.

Hank Shaw came to St. Louis in America on the New Orleans first steamer powered paddlewheel the Maid Of Orleans in the Spring of 1817; St. Louis  was only 50 years old.  Shaw built a hardware store on the west side of 4th North Main and the business flourished and Hank became very wealthy – so wealthy that  at 40 years-of-age he became the largest landholder in that area and he decided to retire and pursue travel and expand his love of botany. Shaw saw botany as the “victory of science over ignorance” (the slogan at the marble statue by artist Carlo Nicolle in the Park, a replica of a 1859 Vincento Consani statue). The garden gave an annual ‘Flower Sermon’ since 1890, part of the sermon says: “On the wisdom and goodness of God as shown in  the growth of flowers, fruits, and other products of the vegetable kingdom.”  Henry Shaw more than beauty  to flowers and plants, there was also practical scientific knowledge in medicine and healing.  His garden was only a beginning of a dream.  Shaw had an exotic orchid collection, and every year 1000,000 new specimens arrive at the gardens. Shaw said: “Plants and flowers provide the air quality we breath, provide medications, keep our soil from eroding.  They maintain us in so many ways.”  

Wearing his typical cap with frayed bill and worn spot on top, dilapidated wool sweater with torn sown-in elbow pads, yet in much better physical shape than I despite his thin and molted appearance, Wild turned to me after an afternoon of strolling in Shaw’s creation: “This purity!  This natural goodness!  They will all be destroyed by baser human savagery and terrorism!  I see it all through the city of St. Louis – America – I fear for it; the dumbing-down of America – the Communist takeover!”’ I’ve heard it before from Wild, and even had seen some of the documents and books that Moriarty gave me to review –  Charlotte Iserbyt, , The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, John A. Stormer, None Dare Call It Treason, David Joel Horowitz, The Professors, and several others.  And he was dead on the mark, with laser precision – too dead on and too precise – to a fault.  “Shaw owned slaves, did he not?” Wild’s voiced strained in anger with veins protruding in his neck, “he believed in purity!”

Like so many things that Wild talked about, it had to be black or white, no middle ground. That’s the way Wild lived life In its political and philosophical extremes, like the unseen dark matter of the universe, holding him together. Shaw deplored slavery early in his life, but, it is true, he came to own slaves.  Shaw would not exist very well in Wild‘s extreme world, he was neither black nor white in his style.  In the 1870s, a young African American man named John Freugh came to Shaw to find work; he was hired and eventually became Shaw’s personal assistant and unofficial guide to Tower Grove House. Asked why he employed so many ‘bohemians.’ Shaw replied: “The bohemians do not seem to very popular with us, and I think I ought to help them all I can.” Shaw was not squeaky clean, as several episodes in his life portrayed: Hank was sued for Breach of Promise to a lady he was entertaining marriage; but it was decided against such action. Perhaps it was such incidents that helped him declare “wine was the secret of national progress.”

With the rag-tag background I came from, I wondered how my lack of purity condemned me to the hell he wished for others.         

NO CONSPIRACY

(“Cleminzo said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that fifty years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to the politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought…I can no longer sit and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids….Loss of essence. I can assure you that it has not recurred, Mandrake, women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence.” [Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper defending an Army base against attack in Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Learned To Love The Bomb, directed by Stanley Kubrick, United Artists Films, 1964].)

I sat with Wild by the Shaw’s Garden famous Nymphaea hybrid water lily pond that late Spring, and I wondered if Wild realized how divergent his belief about Shaw’s purity was from the reality of the world happening about him.  Shaw may have loved nature as one of God’s ‘purities’ but there were ironies and paradoxes. Impressionist artist Oscar Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) had a famous painting of nymphaea lilies called Monet’s Water Lilies – the same type lilies that Shaw had in his garden.  Monet saw these lilies at Giverny, France, as grown by botanist Joseph Latour-Marliac, and they became immortalized as an Impressionistic expression by Monet.  The problem is: Monet’s movement was not a testament to the “black-on-white” approach to reality, but, rather, was based on the latest trends in science of Darwin, Freud, quantum physics and other renaissance scientific views. Science was looking “behind the veil” and was saying there is much more to reality then “meets the eye”. Science had begun to question the age-old viewpoints of mankind, and artists began to portray and under-cut the certainties of the 19th century. This is why Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism and others were met with such hostility because they “recreated the sensation in the eye that views the subject, rather than recreating the subject” (en.wikipedia.org). In that coincidence, rather than just statues in a black-on-white-photograph of sorts, these lilies were quite radical.

2008 THE RESTURANT VISIT AND OUTING

“The Red Robin restaurant was a first time event for most of the people on that trip.  It was my first time”, I wrote to Wild in 2008.  “Did you feel there was a conspiracy to dragging you in there?  None that I know of. I know for a fact that church members have gone to some very nice restaurants in the past. It just happened that this was a very poor choice for you personally.”   (I think it was just an impulsive decision: do you remember the swimming pool scene in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life with James Stewart and Donna Reed [one of your “Oldie but Goodie” movies] where George Bailey and Alice Hatch fall into the pool at the high school graduation dance [while dancing the Charleston to a Swing-Band {OH MY GOSH!}, along with all the other Jitterbugging students?).  “What did you expect them to do: stand up in some kind of societal revolt – – – some kinds of frenzy of polyphobia – – – – acoustic phobia, deipnophobia, pan phobia – – – – walk out? I thought that group handled it very well, not knowing about your personal anthropophagic misanthropy; your black-on-white world view and recusantism. Besides, it’s not the first noisy restaurant we’ve been in: why did it really bother you to such a raw degree?”

My wife and I had gone to a, then recently opened, Golden Corral restaurant in 2010 as a first time event. The price seemed reasonable; the food fairly good. But it is a buffet and was a circus of all kinds of people and family chatter. My wife met some friends she had not seen for a while, and that made her happy. She was hungry and she really enjoyed the food. What did I expect? Not as quiet as some places, to be sure.  Did I feel the need to hand out pamphlets on how it may have offended my subjective sensitivities? Or go to the manager and start a harangue? No, and in light of many other social and political problems (like the enormous economic fiasco America is under; or my personal health), it wouldn’t be on my top-ten list of personal challenges; that is, unless I had a phobia about noise and people! More than likely I’d line-up my preferences of restaurants and make a selection next time from my private list, depending on my mood and other factors (we have to get our priorities straight sometimes, especially in this ‘survival’ climate [I prioritize my concern over my diabetes, kidney failure {July 1, 2010}, hip and back arthritis, etc., first and then I add on and go down my list of my other eccentricities that I have like my painting my toenails green and walking barefoot down Grand Avenue, or gathering up stones from the roadside and carrying them on my head, or wearing shoes just one time and then discarding them: these, while interesting, are not high priority things to do right now – – – –  It is that simple].)

2008 ALSO

CONFESSIONS FOR THE SOUL

“In looking back to that day, it would be unfair to you, and even I, to deny things could have been conducted more properly. Life is like that,” I wrote him. ”I just don’t know if I had the expertise socially. I just don’t have that much aristocratic training; I just rely on the good faith and trust of people to over-look my shortcomings.” In so many ways, despite basic differences, Wild was still a “hero” of sorts to me. That may be hard to understand – perhaps I might explain it someday to Wild.

I don’t believe that crowd expected anything exceptional or phenomenal (I’ve talked to some of them and asked if they felt anything ‘bad’ happened and no one that I’ve talked to felt that way. Of course, they could be lying; and how often had I heard that assessment about mankind from the lips and letters of Moriarty Wild?). I do feel the debate between John Moeller and myself, though not in genuine animosity, was foolish and somewhat in poor taste. John has been a big debater from ‘way back when’ and like Herb Mueller (“Herb? Who is Herb?” you asked me one day in an air of suspicion while on an outing [herb is an elderly usher at the church; he is a kind and an older chatty guy who helps with chores about the church, an usher at church services and he indicated he may want to come along on some of our site-seeing ventures: I don’t think you had anything to fear about him, he was not out to “get” you —— didn’t know anything about you —— just a kindly old fella}) told me, “When John and his buddy from work get together to discuss politics: oh boy!” It probably was not that well-planned and executed – but I’m not a professional Wedding Planner either (or Funeral Director) – I tend to be spontaneous, somewhat incongruous and exorbitantly informal. “Sometimes I can be an extrovert. It really wasn’t a suit and tie affair. But I should, somehow, someway have taken your feelings into account in the matter; I’m just not sure how that could have been done so intricately and in a short notice,” I said to you. “In hindsight, I regret it affected you so personally. I am asking for your forgiveness”.

Our episode with the “noise” controversy and Wild’s sojourn with a church group to Red Robin, Wild protested the restaurant and the manners of the church group; we have begun to question if Wild was ‘for real”  in his protest against all that is currently modern, of if this was really a ‘show’ on his part:

“Maybe you just wanted to vent your usual cynicism (your misanthropic anti-social, antithetical feelings) at the moment. And that is fine. I just don’t know why you aimed your diatribe of society at that group of people?  I don’t believe they have any great love for Red Robin restaurants or were even practitioners of Red Robin (I suspect that if you would have attacked the issues in a different way [not make it a specific attack on those people] you would not have appeared so unkind).” Poor Fred was trying to help make the day enjoyable with his occasional ventures into weak humor [the Balsams are fairly financially comfortable and own a farm and know a lot about crops, seeds, weather and things like that; not necessarily being a “suave” interpreter of restaurant styles]. “They all were trying to socialize the best they could (if they had only slid their cars a few doors east, they would have selected The Bread Company restaurant – now, you and I had been there before on Watson Boulevard): Kenny Herman’s widow paid our way into the Butterfly House. I honestly don’t believe they were involved in a secret world of some esoteric fantasy drama of elitist debunking,” I wrote Wild. They wouldn’t even know what the heck that means. Maybe, John would (and I could be wrong, but I don’t believe John is a full-fledged Communist even though he is a Democrat. I just think he got fed-up with politics as usual and the Bush administration [as have so many people; Obama was, likewise – again – a poor choice]). “The invite to see the remake film of The Day the Earth Stood Still wasno ploy to upset you; though it somehow did. I forgot all about wishing you to go upon reading your letter. It was only meant as a friendly gesture anyway (yes, I didn’t like the movie as much as the original: but that was no condemnation to any good qualities it genuinely may have had). It was that nostalgia thing.”

(A Sad Side Bar:  Monday, November 29, 2010, Fred’s wife, Marilyn Balsam passed away from complications during an operation of her legs and feet due to diabetes.)

“Years ago when, I worked at Pisa Group on Watson Road, I had the choice of going down the street to a number of nearby restaurants (including White Castle, Jack in the Box, and MacDonald’s). But I chose Happy Joe’s Pizza because [1} it was close, {2} it had a good selection on their salad bar, {3} and was cheap.  “Now, Happy Joe’s is known for catering to families that make arrangements (appointments) to celebrate their child’s birthday and it gets quite loud with singing, laughter, etc. Have you ever had your birthday celebrated when you were little, Moriarty?  If so, shame on you!  Did they sing and celebrate?  Well, shame on you!  At any rate, I still drop in on Happy Joe – – – just for their salad bar (they did away with the pepperoni) – – – – and do you know what? It actually gets “quiet” at times at the restaurant:  no noise!  DO I GET A FEW EXTRA STARS?”

The Moriarty Wild Noise Complex

We are going into a greater depth here on Wild’s personality and background to lay a foundation of its complexity and how things are always what they seem with Skeptics and critics. We’ll also get into the real history of jazz, rock n’ Roll and music as contrasted to Wild’s pretense of ‘purity’ and ‘perfectionism’ which casts, in his opinion, a shroud over it called “modernism” and “uncontaminated noise,“  later, the same Skeptic perception on things such as life-styles, social-security, and “the good ole’ days.”

“Which leads me to some other thoughts on this matter: hymns and singing in church – – – – – maybe they should just hum or meditate for fear of being uncivilized and not Wildian if they become too melodious?” (I mentioned casually and unpretentiously to Wild one day in a letter the Biblical injection to “make a joyous noise unto the Lord…” [Ps. 66;1, Ps.90:1, etc.], a casual mention I thought, and Wild set out on a philosophical tirade and binge about the evils of unnecessary sounds and noise, whether it is a part of religious worship or not! Papers from Wild in the past demonstrate his battle with “noise” to be almost equal to and a little lower than society’s preoccupation with the War on Cancer). Scriptures never speak of indiscriminate noise, and there was no electronic equipment amplification in those days, but is based on the Hebrew word ruwa, which alludes to “delight” or “joyful melodies”.  Said Samuele  Bacchicchi, PhD., “This means what was loud in Biblical times, would be normal today….singing jubilantly with the full volume of the human voice, is not noise-making but an enthusiastic expression of praise” (The Importance Of Music In The Bible, “End Time Issues Newsletter, No. 305”, AndrewsUniversity);Which  presents some more other thoughts – but at another time: like Steve Allen’s ‘‘liberal” politics, slap-stick comedy, and his promotion of negro entertainment on his show.  Hmmmmmm………………….

It may be necessary to interject Wild’s preoccupation with ‘noise’ at this point (much like his preoccupation with ‘no perfect’ language, mannerisms, styles, theories, and “thinking”), which, I have learned over a period of time in my associating with him, was more than just a casual annoyance, but would go the extra mile as to what music one would play on the radio, on the phonograph, or even preferred, what trinkets were dangling on your auto mirror, or even discussions of dance clubs one belonged to, all the way  to the necessity of campaigning and avoiding even associating with ‘noises’ in the general public.  We all have our occasions of dealing with ‘noise,’ but with Wild this was much more than average as he felt the ‘impure’ use of “sound” was becoming “vulgar” (even going to his natural culmination of associating it with the imbedded Fabian Communist conspiracy). As was typical of Wild, much contradiction in philosophical approach will be found, such as is illustrated in the following topic of the late Steve Allen and his campaigns on “vulgarity.”

(At a later time)

STEVE ALLEN AS OUR HERO

We often cite Steve Allen as a leader, a bulwark, against uncritical thinking (Debunker? Or was he a rationalist of sorts: but couldn’t have been a diehard debunker, based on his actions and politics, etc.). But Steve Allen was a “Liberal” for that period and time.  He was at one time a practicing Roman Catholic and so was religious (in Vulgarians At The Gate, he alluded to his belief in God: “…If there is a God – which I assume to be the case….,” He promoted many Negro acts on his television show, breaking down race barriers. Allen said in his book,  Vulgarians  At The Gate, that movies such as The Mask (which was toned down to receive the Dover Seal), Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and The God-father Trilogy (pages 357-358) seemed acceptable to people 12-years on up…..aahhhh……….

(This only shows how “creeping” degeneracy became even acceptable to SteveAllen: I saw those movies and, to a puritan-train-of-thought, they contained some of the most horrid scenes imaginable: parents and grownups were very skeptical of those movies and the Godfather Trilogy.)…….

Allen was the creator to some of the silliest, zany, cock-eyed, slap-stick comedy on his television show; comedy that would appear far from the aristocratic snobbishness of the upper-class “au courant”. He featured radical guests such as Lenny Bruce. He featured a MAD Magazine caricaturist and parody artist on his March 16, 1958 show (demonstrating his affinity to this style of comedy – – – – many parents were in askance over MAD Magazine {we couldn’t get enough: brought it to school all the time}). If there was one thing that seemed to typify Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen:  It was “contradiction. 

Steve Allen was a supporter of One World Government (he was a member of the World Federalist Association [David Icke would have undoubtedly added Allen to his list of Reptilian Merovingian’s]). He considered himself a Secular Humanist yet also considered himself an “involved Presbyterian”. He was accused of being a Communist (by aka Harry Goren). Steve Allen was a longtime activist who championed migrant worker rights. He idolized and hailed fellow comedians Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Phil Silver, Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton, Jonathan Winters, Edie Adams, Dick Shawn, Peter Falk, Dorothy Provine, Arnold Stang, Jack Benny, Carl Reiner, Jerry Lewis, Don Knotts, Andy Devine, Terry-Thomas, and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson:  All these appeared in the Stanley Kramer 1962 movie production of It’s a Mad, Mad World,  a production  that typified the slap-stick, zany 50s-60s style of comedy that was close to  Allen’s heart.

“Now I know all kinds of alibis and rationalizations have been made about Allen’s professed ‘PURITY OF THINKING’ academic statements and the seeming contradictory teenage and juvenile ‘silliness’ his alter-ego presented,” I told Wild one sad rainy morning as we ate breakfast at a Steak N’ Shake restaurant meeting; the down-pour was so strong you could hardly see the traffic outside. “His explanations seemed equally bizarre: Allen said: ‘we laugh at our tragedies to prevent our suffering…if we think about the tragedies on our planet, we could spend all day in bed crying, so we laugh to survive, to continue our lives.’  Allen also said: ‘humor is a social lubricant that helps us get over some of the bad spots ….why do we do it? Because we’re crazy.’  When pressed further, Allen said (mimicking the cartoon character Popeye): ‘All I can say is what Popeye says:  ’I am what I am…….’”

“I don’t think thatAllen was all that ‘uptight’ about things as Wild and some people say he was.  At least, he did not go to the black-on-white schizoid extremes that you and I go to”, I tried to tell him on a venture in the visit to the Shaw neighborhood.  (Wild “took off” at Fred’s attempt at poor humor at the Butterfly House as he jokingly referring to swans by a pond as butterflies: I KNOW – come on Fred! But trying to be humorous is far better than Wild’s sardonic swipes at his juvenility). Richard Zogline said of Allen: “Though a lifelong liberal…in recent years he embarked on a vocal crusade to restore ‘family values’ in television.  This was a little uncomfortable for those of us who remember Allen as the irreverent kid who like to turn the studio upside down.” The Playboy  Magazine  article written  back  in 1988, I believe, on the evangelist Jimmy Swagger  scandal, warned about (what Playboy Magazine terms as the puritanical pitfalls as well as…..) the darker and inevitable reaction to human sexual repression.

“Similarly, it is the ‘extremes’ that we appear to go to; the doctrinaire, the ideological, demagoguery we pathologically speak from. Allen always added his humor: his serious side was only an after-thought,” I tried to explain to Wild one summer day was we took a stroll through Tower Grove Park in the old Shaw neighborhood. Wild also had many childhood memories from this area of St. Louis, there was a neighbor ‘Betty’ that had lived a short distance from him as a very young child, a ‘guardian’ of sorts.  Wild was never able to consummate all the intimate details to me; nothing that complexes and never in one setting.

Wild revealed his virulent hatred of mankind, almost as a knife swung out from Jack the Ripper’s cape:  “mankind is crap!  They have basic instincts of swine!  They are no good!” He stopped strolling and stood to look at me, his shoulders hanging limp, almost as if in a finished shrug; but his hate-filled eyes were in control, grabbing my attention:

“Allen knew things were getting sad, very sad.  That’s why he began to speak out – protest about the public decline in taste and propriety,” Wild emphasized, “He thought Rock N’ Roll stunk  — look at his protest on his show when Elvis made a premier appearance: forced him to sing to a hound dog wearing a tuxedo!”   

Enter Steve Valentine Patrick William Allen meets Elvis Aaron Presley.

ONE FOR THE MONEY, TWO FOR THE SHOW…..

(“The first time I appeared on stage, it scared me to death. I really didn‘t know what all the yelling was about. I didn’t realize that my body was moving.  It’s a natural thing to me. So to the manager backstage I said, ‘What’d I do? What’d I do?’ And he said, ‘Whatever it is, go back and do it again’”. [March/April interview, 1972, Elvis Presley]) 

Beatle musician John Lennon said: “Before Elvis, there was nothing….” Elvis Aaron Presley, that “back-slid den Pentecostal pup”, now commonly referred to as The King Of Rock N’ Roll, created his own unique style of music that was based on Gospel music and his listening to “all-night sings” at his Church – and his listening to R & B on the historic Memphis Beale Street as a teenager, and the Pop and Country songs of the time. Somewhat unsuccessful at singing ballads for Sun Records, Elvis unexpectedly sang an unrehearsed version of Blues man Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s That’s All Right and a hit career was born (www.elvisthemusic.com). Said Chris Holland of Elvis “the Pelvis” Presley: “mixing ‘black’ and ‘white’ sounds made him popular – and controversial — as did his uninhibited stage and television performances. He is the only performer to have been inducted into three separate music ‘Halls of Fame’….He did much to establish early Rock and Roll music: bring ‘black’ blues singing into ‘white’, teenage mainstream. Teenage girls became hysterical over his blatantly sexual gyrations…TV cameras were oft times not permitted to film below his waist.” “I’m not trying to be sexy,” said Presley, “It’s just my way of expressing myself when I move around.”

Said Lucy Moore in Anything Goes (Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publications, Inc.2010): “Music was one area where black artists effortlessly outshone their white counter parts on their own terms. Negro spirituals were recognized as containing not just the self-pity of a craven people, but glimpses of salvation and eternity.”  Black pride was willfully shown in jazz, blues and popular music. White musicians were always trying to replicate it – but they just could not capture it in spirit.   

At the time of his death, Presley had sold more than 600-million singles and albums. He won three Grammy Awards, all for his Gospel Music. Globally, Presley has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist.  After Presley’s acceptance among main audiences of white American teenagers, African-American performances like Big Joe Turner, Wyonie Harris, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and white performers such as Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison,  Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Everly Brothers gained entrance to the music arena. Professor Michael T. Berbrand said in Race, Rock, And Elvis: “However much Elvis may have ‘barrowed’ from black blues performances, he barrowed none the less from white country stars and white pop singers….much of his borrowings came from the Church, its Gospel music was his primary musical influence and formulation.”

“I’ve tried to live a straight, clean life and not set any kind of a bad example,” said Presley, adding a phrase that may have been later used unwittingly by Ricky Nelson in his song Garden Party, “You cannot please everyone.”

“I’d like to thank the Jaycees for electing me as one of the outstanding young men.” Said Presley at his January 16, 1971 acceptance speech of his 1970 Ten Outstanding Young Men Of The Nation Award, ”When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book.  I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie.  So every dream I ever dreamed, has come true a hundred times….and these gentlemen over here {referring to other Jaycees named that year], these are the type of people building the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s not too far- fetched, from reality.  I’d like to say that I learned very early in life that ‘without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain‘t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend – without a song’.  So I keep singing a song…..”

ELVIS AIN’T NOTHING BUT A HOUND DOG

“So much of life is an interpretation”, said Liz Murray, author of Breaking Night. It has to be this way for Allen, because if he was so whacked-out (fanatical) on such things as Rock N’ Roll, there are hard questions raised…..

(Allen’s sarcastic July 1, 1956 rendition of Elvis Presley singing Hound Dog on his television show in a tuxedo…..“The house singers on the early Tonight Show   were subjectedto many such stunts,” said en.wikipedia.org, “In addition, Allen’s skit with Presley was actually less a put down of Presley and mainly a satire of country music stage shows.”  Allen thought the controversy  was all “nonsense” and he had no objections to Elvis or his sensual body movements, Allen just wanted to use Elvis in his show’s comedy style “and fabric of our program”.  [Allen‘s show beat competitor and TV host Ed Sullivan in the ratings for the first time:  Ed Sullivan, however, invited Elvis on his show several times hence!] On July 31, 1956, a little more than two weeks after its release, Hound Dog sold a million copies. [Illustratively, Allen also lampooned I Left My Heart In San Francisco  as  I Left My Nose In San Francisco: does that mean  he hated that song too?]  Blog reader Smithdsmit summed it up nicely in September, 2007:  “That this was done just to be funny. It was comedies show….It just seems like this was done all in good fun to me….I do know the media at first hated Elvis.  But he was such a nice guy and so talented: He won them over. They couldn’t help like him after meeting him.”)…..

Why did Allen play the part of Benny Goodman in the movie The Benny Goodman Story? As is with so many things that Allen espoused: there is a direct contradiction (and error {he wasn’t infallible}). Surely he was aware that Goodman’s style was a growth of a very lively and radical “background” which included Rock N’ Roll.

THE PARTNERSHIP IN RYHTHMS

Benny Goodman was a direct child of jazz and swing! Many parents were very suspicious of the new “jazz movement”. It was the younger generation that carried it through (and many oldsters joined in later. Arthur Murray Dance Studios billed itself as The King of Swing and taught the Charleston and the Lindy Hop). And like so many ‘movements’, the youngsters carried the wave.  It had been a vibrant force (the Nazis censored the Swing Kids for fear of revolt- – – – -Russia did the same thing at one time: “…listening to smuggled jazz records was tantamount to political rebellion.…artistic freedom was strictly underground, considered by the authorities to be either dangerous subversives or misguided fools…”, ‘Guitars Of The Cold War’, Jan. and May, 2002, Vintage Guitar Magazine). Larry Schweikart in his Seven Events That Made America, America  said  that Rock N’ Roll, as a musical device of the 20th Century, helped bring the Berlin Wall down.  It was so American; so Jazz – and – Country.  Its very structure speaks to freedom: The individualism of the 1960s. The same phenomena happened with the Beatles: young people all over the world used this music as their Marching Orders and their inspiration to challenge tyranny and bad government. (www.patriothistoryusa.com.).

It was J.A. Rogers that said in Alain Locke’s 1925 anthology, The New Negro  (new York, N.Y 1925): The true spirit of Jazz is a joyous revolt from convention, custom, authority, boredom, even sorrow – from everything that would confine the soul of man and hinder its riding free on the air…it is the revolt of the emotions against repression.”

Lucy Moore said in Anything Goes: “More importantly, jazz served a vital function as a social leveler.  It made people more natural with each other, less artificial, and gave hope to those who believed that old restrictions upon society might one day fade away entirely.”    

WE BEGIN TO ‘DIG IT’

Len Weinstock said jazz originated somewhere about 1895-1917 by Creole musicians that had trained in  conservatories in Europe; European music that was blended with Blues, Ragtime, Brass Band Music, hymns, spirituals, minstrel music,  and Work Songs, mixed with African polyrhythm and European dance rhythms.   Kansas City’s jazz roots began in the 1900s when marching band music, Ragtime music, and Blues music started to merge.  Piero Scaruffi tells  us that when  jazz moved to Chicago, jazz musicians were often employed by gangsters.  Their first audiences were the “mob”. New York’s jazz pianists began blending Blues and Ragtime. The Stride Piano appeared on the scene. In Atlantic City jazz was supported in the red-light district and in many cities Rent Parties were thrown where predominantly white tourists paid to listen to black bands and the money was used to “pay the rent”. There was Eubie Black from Baltimore (1906), Lucky Roberts from Philadelphia, Willie ’the lion’ Smith and James Johnson (1914) from New York. In the 1920s, Harlem was home to Blues music and white tourists visited The Savoy and the Harlem Cotton Club. Charles “lucky” Roberts reworked Ripples of the Nile (1912)into the classic Moonlight Cocktail (1942) for the Glenn Miller band. He also wrote Miniature Syncopated rhapsody. The Big Band sound was gaining momentum. Fletcher Henderson (1920) and Benny Carter were two progenitors. Keep A Song In Your Soul (1930). Jean Schwartz: Chinatown My Chinatown (1930). And then, guess who?….Benny Goodman – – – – New York, 1928. Benny employed Fletcher Henderson to arrange Jelly Roll Martin’s King Porter’s Stomp.

A cavalcade of music: Moon Glow, Juke Box Saturday Night, Satin Doll, Tuxedo Junction, In The Mood, Mood Indigo, Woodchopper’s Ball, Cherokee, Take The ‘a’  Train, Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, Sky liner,  Green Eyes  and many, many more.   

Said www.nfo.net/Jazz  in “jazz”: “The 1920s are still called the ‘jazz-age’. Ladies shortened their tresses and bobbed their hair, they hiked up their skirts, rolled down their stockings, and rouged their lips.”

“In 1920 there were only 750 beauty salons in New York; that number had risen to 3,000 in 1925, and by 1930 there were 40,000 nationwide,” said Lucy Moore in Anything Goes, “….launching flourishing business empires capitalizing on the Flapper’s obsession with her looks. Far from liberating women, bobbed and bleached hair necessitated frequent visits to the coiffeur; nail varnish was considered delightfully daring; lipstick, rouge and powder had become everyday essentials.”

Welcome! Louie Jordan and his hipster slang and saucy double entendre (Caldonia, Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?), Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Raymond Scott (Harry Warnow)……Kansas City Jazz, Boogie Woogie, The Shouters, and the Crooners. “During the 1940s“, said Scaruffi, “The Big Swing Band had become the voice of America abroad.” Benny Goodman played at the Palomar Ballroom in August, 1935.  There was Fletcher Henderson and an audience of young white dancers were moving to “hot” rhythms” and daring “hot swing” arrangements. Soldiers and sailors in the 1940s: Swing becomes our patriotic syncopation. We all remember Glenn Miller’s rendition of ST. Louis Blues March.  Dance styles ran the gamut: the Short George, Hip Cat, the Jitter Bug, Cats, Brook Position Jitter Bug, The Boogie-Woogie, Hit That Jive, The Black Bottom Rag (The Benny Goodman movie also highlighted the Lindy Hop, Baboa, West Coast Swing and musicals such as Let’s Dance, California Here I Come, You Turned The Talles On Me, Sing-Sing-Sing, Bugle Call, Tiger Rag, Roll‘em, Hot House, Gotta Be This Or That, featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Harry James).

“Tain’t no sin to step out of your skin and dance in your bones”- The Big Band Era: “Swing was ‘the’ thing, and ‘jump-jivin’ ‘kats’ and ‘kittens’ were Lindy hopping in every ballroom and dancehall in the land……” (Big Bands Database, www.nfo.net.)

Clara Bork, my mother, oft times spoke of going to Dance Clubs and “cutting a rug” as a teenager and a young woman. “A powder compact hidden in a shoe-buckle was aimed at the modern party girl, dancing too uninhibitedly to carry a handbag,” said Lucy Moore in Anything Goes, “Movie stars and society beauties appeared in aspirational advertisements promoting face creams, soap and make-up. The message was that women were constantly on display – and it was their responsibility to make the best of themselves by using the best products they could afford.”

The beauty industry was a $1.5 million a year advertising investment in 1915.  In 1930, it was spending over 10 times that amount.  

(And as far as Allen and Swing: If Steve Allen couldn’t “Rock’’, he certainly could “Roll” into swing:  Whydid he write the 1963 Grammy award-winning jazz  piece, The Gravy Waltz?)

JAZZ UNTO ROCK

Rock music was born out of a hybrid of Rhythm and Blues music and Country music, originated in the Appalachian-mountains, part Irish fiddle, part German derived dulcimer, and African-American banjo. Anglo-Celtic ballads and dance tunes, immigrants brought to America were come to be known as “old time” music that ranged from 1900 to the 1930s: A mixture of vaudeville music, African-American minstrel show tunes, the 1930s brought Hank Williams and Brother Groups like the Delmones, the Stanleys, and the Louvins. Jimmy Rogers. There was Okie Boogie; Cowboy Boogie; Honky Tonk. There was Eddy Arnold. There was the introduction of Swing, horns, electricity, and Bluegrass. Songs like Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Carl Perkins recalls his early battered acoustic guitar lessons with fellow field worker John Westbrook, “uncle John”. who told him: “Get down close to it! You can feel it travel down the strangs, come through your head and down to your soul where you live. You can feel it. Let it vib-a-rate!”)  In 1955, Perkins made the original version of Blue Suede Shoes. The old traditional music of the mountains gave way to the beginnings of modern commercial country, or, as Syd Masters (The Swing Riders) would say, “Vintage western cowboy swing.”

About the time that Ethel Waters and Trixie Smith were singing tunes like My Man Rocks Me, Bill Haley was listening to Jimmy Preston and Haley would travel to the Marcus Hook Theater to see his idol, Gene Autry.  It was the “Hillbilly” era. Ralph Peer (1926) typified the Antebellum Folk Songs of string bands and Appalachian fiddles. Marion-Troy-Slaughter. There were “okehs”. Henry Whittler, Emmett Miller. There was the group called the Georgia Crackers (which included bandleaders Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey on trombone and saxophone). Ralph Peers discovered Jimmy Rodgers in 1927. John Clifton said: “Like Roy Rodgers and other hayseed Hollywood harmoniums, Autry dipped liberally into jazz and swing, giving his music a nice little bounce.” This became the hallmark of legendary figures such as Bob Wells and Roy Acuff, as well as Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry, through the 1930s – 1950s. Country Pop typified by Lloyd Perryman and The Gold Star Rangers (1937) was also seen in movies such as Outlaws Of The Prairie and Spoilers Of the Range. It became to be known as the “Swinging Hollywood- Hillbilly-Cowboys”.

Bill Haley tried to imitate his idol Gene Autry and could be found “singing like Autry” at the Booth’s Corner Auction Mart (1946).  Haley went on to join groups as Shorty Cook’s Down Homers and The Range Drifters.  But…“G.I’s returning from World War II were looking for something different, something more upbeat and exhilarating,” says Jim Dawson and Ian Whitcomb, “and they were finding it in California’s hillbilly boogie, Texas’s Western Swing, New Orleans’ Rumba.” It was flavored by piano R and B, Chicago’s electrified Mississippi guitar blues and St. Louis’s Swing Jazz. (for Steve Erdmann this all came together at Mary’s Confectionary on South Broadway in St. Louis where he and the “gang” listened to the best of all worlds on Mary’s juke box  ). Haley found employment at WPWA radio where many young whites continually requested rhythm and blues records. The Jimmy Preston radio program as heralded by the noisy theme song Rock The Joint. It was a time of Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys (“The Tennessee Waltz”), James “Slim” Allsman, and the premier of the electric Gibson: all made popular with the help of the Philadelphia crime syndicate and their mafia-owned juke boxes. Rock was a money-maker and the mob knew money: Roulette Records was mob owned and had Rock singer Tommy James in their palm (Me, The Mob And The Music, Simon & Schuster, 2010).

About this time, media producer Dick Clark – American Bandstand – came upon the television scene with groups like Danny and the Juniors and their Rock And Roll Will Never Die and At The Hop.  Started in 1957 – the show eventually moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood in 1964. Elvis Presley appeared on January 8, 1960. During its run, one had the opportunity to have seen Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Annette Funicelo, Frankie Avalon, James Brown, Fabian, Bobby Darin, and Paul Anka and many other stars.  Rock steps such as The Slop, Bop, Hand Jive, The Stroll, The Twist and several others became popular and featured dance routines.

Every pub, every tavern, from open windows, through-out Carondelet came the plaintive soul-jerking voice of Hank Williams.  The juke boxes were a blend of the best of all worlds but Hank seemed to hover about the rural town migrants that settled in many homes in Carondelet.  Williams spoke to them with strains of back-home hands in the soil music. It broke my heart to hear his pleading twang and I often wondered if the teenage girl or boy or rural-minded adult that played that record did so to tease an orphan like me.

But the Williams music was no respecter of families: It was the blood of the rural working poor.  He was born in utter poverty and suffered pain all his life from an undiagnosed case of spina bibida and died from the effects of alcohol and pills at the age of twenty-nine. “Country music has often ignored fashion and the delicate feelings of the bourgeoisie in order to portray the real world,” said Donald Clarke, The Rise And Fall Of Popular Music, “The fact is that a great many Americans lived from paycheck to paycheck and spent much time drowning their sorrows or trying to enjoy themselves in the sort of taverns where Williams had served his apprenticeship.  He knew these persons’ hopes, dreams, and fears, and wrote their songs for them; he was among the greatest of folk poets.”

Lonnie Rulo, Louie Bach (and sister Carol), Bob Hanger (and sister Darlene), Rick and Dave Rappults, Ray Carter, Donald Spese, Barbara Novy and so many others, spoke with a country twang and roamed the streets of Carondelet, looking for adventure. Some were kind, some were cruel and some were as wild as the Appalachian country side their descendants reigned from. Some were just hard-core Southern Missouri Country but they seemed every bit as wild as if they walked directly out of the rugged northern part of Georgia out of James Dickey’s novel Deliverance. These were The Broadway Gang that I, as the expression goes, “hung out with”. These songs were on their lips, amongst the rock favorites at that time.

I Go Out Walking After Midnight – Patsy Cline,,,,    Young Love – Sonny James

What’d I Say – Georgia – Ruby – I’m Movin’ On –     Hound Dog — Elvis Presley

 (Ray Charles)….                                                                Gotta Travel On – Billy  Gra-   

Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry….                               mer                                                      

I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash….                                  Oh lonesome Me – Don Gibson

Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis….                   City Lights – Ray Price

Hey Good Lookin – Hank Williams….                           Crying Over You….Webb Pierce

Dream Lovers – Bobby Darin…..                                    Country Girl – Faron Young 

Nagel Street ran all the way down to the Sand Bar Club, a tavern that stood cozily and somewhat forlornly at the foot of Nagel Street and faced the Mississippi river. Nestled near-by where three or four “stilt-legged” homes – usually little three-room shanties propped up in case the river rose and tried to flood them. Margaret Martin and her mom lived in one shanty (although distanced by a rather large vacant lot they still were a short distance from Mary’s Confectionery on Broadway): it became a regular meeting place the gang could gather. banter and flirt with their girlfriends and swagger their cigarettes, usually Lucky Strikes, Camels or Marlboros, to prove their toughness. In the sweltering summer air (or in the bone chilling cold of winter), surrounding the allure of teenage excitement and romance, vibrant juke-box music of 1960 would come floating into our gathering:

El Paso – Marty Robbins       

Beyond The Sea –Bobby Darin

Time After Time – Frankie Ford

Let It Be Me – Everly Brothers

Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin

Mediterranean Moon – The Rays

Good Timing – Jimmy Jones

What In The World’s Come Over You

Kathy’s Clown – Everly Brothers

What In The World’s Come Over You –

Jack Scott

Ring Of Fire – Johnny Cash

Lonely Blue Boy – Conway Twitty

Problems – Everly Brothers

Stuck On You – Elvis Presley

Wild One – Bobby Rydell

Chantilly Lace – The Big Bopper

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams

Cold, Cold Heart – Hank Williams

China Doll —- The Ames Brothers

Oh Carol —- Neil Sedaka

“The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart….Why can’t I free your doubtful mind….And melt your cold, cold heart?”  (Hank Williams)

The Ames Brother’s rendition of China Doll proved prophetic in as much as I become attracted to Asian and oriental ladies in the latter part of my single years and that song would often drift into my memory. I bought into and tried to adapt to the “humble and faithful Asian women syndrome” 20 years later after being tempest-thrown and shipwrecked by social, political and legal realities.  

For myself, I loved girls, but was painfully shy due to an increasing case of teenage acne. It seemed to run in the family.  About the time my brother John was outgrowing a rather severe episode, it was an increasing problem for me….and I was quit embarrassed by it. Not just that problem: but the “living under the shadow” of the whole family fiasco of fights, drinking and the beatings, had me feeling somewhat subhuman, ashamed, worried and standoffish. A young girl down the street, Barbara Desmondi, had a girlfriend, Sharon Rooney who was the epitome, the very image and essence, the soul of the sweet. charming, swank, pretty girlish idol that the best of the teenage girls exemplified in the 1950s-1960s. Sharon had a long dark auburn ponytail that would swish and swing along her back and up to her shoulders that was typical of those Chantilly Lace (The Big Bopper) girls at the time.  All of her sisters and she had that characteristic Celtic magic, that Irish air of the pixie will-of-the-wisp enchantment. She was every bit of a petite teenage doll so many songs portrayed in the Rock N’ Roll century. She was too good to be true.

Ray Carter heard by the grapevine, primarily, Barbara Desmondi that Sharon wanted to meet me and get acquainted.  I refused to commit myself.  Frankly, I was scared out of my wits.  But carter and Barbara were expert match-makers, and in a subsequent visit to Margaret Martin’s riverside shanty, I noted Desmondi approaching with another girl. 

Steve, here is that girl that wants to meet you, Sharon!” Ray threw up into the air in his usual brazen and bold manner.

I panicked and began to run across the vast expanse of a vacant lot that was next to the Sand Bar Club, actually, in a vain attempt to run to Mary’s Confectionary. After about a hundred feet I stumbled and fell. Realizing the  hopelessness and embarrassment of being cornered and trying to escape, I sheepishly walked back to the visitors. My heart was beating like a drum. The conversation probably was awkward and strained. Hopefully, Sharon denoted my peculiar behavior, in addition to being unskilled in girls, as being completely stunned and amazed by her attractiveness.

But somehow groping and testing and walking about the neighborhood for a while, the match was made. It was understood I would see Sharon that weekend at the other favorite teenage hangout – the Michigan Theater. Though some said that, at least at the time, with the typical hairstyle, I had a nodding resemblance to the late Ricky Nelson (everyone tried to replicate Ricky or Elvis in 1960), but for the world-of-me, I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve such a beauty as Sharon. She was above me; I was totally out of her league: The attraction was like a “bolt out of the blue,” might say angelic.  I needed someone to care for me then – I was feeling completely out of the ranks of normal society. School was sinking rapidly as an ambition. And, although I sought out adventure to take my mind off the debasements of life, I was totally unworthy of a “teen angel” like Sharon. She was never arrogant, crude, or unforgiving. In looking back, I recall the time he fought a girl in defense of me, jealous perhaps, but this was no switchblade brawl, but one very concerned, caring girl charging out to protect her ‘man.’

But here she was; and I agreed to not argue – I’d soak up all the affection and love I could get. I felt she somehow sensed the hurt, the fear, the shame, the torment I was going through (and she as well?).  To this day, I regret that I chased her away – pushed her apart from me – partly because I felt too far below her – partly because I was a hurt, selfish kid – partly because I felt she could do better than what my family had to offer her (worse yet, I somehow got the sneaking feeling that my mother had talked to Geneva and discussed me as a real problem, a very bad penny for Sharon! {way to go mom}. If some measure of manly bravado had been instilled in me long before that point, I would have done everything that a man should have done. But it was then; I was no man; and events slipped into the Never-Everland of ‘should- have- did’s.’ I regret that she may have mistook my mysterious behavior as a rebuff of her personally.  She was — and still is – an eternal doll.  I wanted her and needed her very badly. And still do.

I tried to contact Sharon one time – it was a successful.  I sent a letter to an old address at which the Rooney family had lived at one time at 6706 Michigan. I asked them to deliver the letter or pass it along. A few weeks later, while driving to work down Michigan Avenue. I saw Sharon coming out of that very house (presumably to carry parcels to a white van; apparently my letter had made contact through interceding parties) – still as pretty and sweet looking as ever (she would have had to have been about 53-years-of-age at the time I mailed the letter). If it was not her; it was her spitting-image of a daughter.

I put on my brakes to stop the car. I heard myself exclaim “Sharon!” –   But I couldn’t stop and run out; I guess I had said everything in the letter:  how sorry I was if she felt I never cared for her, how I thought see was and is a living doll, and I hope she is having a happy life.  I wonder about her often.  I wonder what could have been – if …… if……

The family included three other sisters; all teenagers. I did meet her mother, Geneva, and only saw her father one time tending bar at a speak-easy-type bar on the corner of Mott and Michigan Avenues (apparently they had lived up the street at one time at 6601 Minnesota, then lived at 3807 a Potomac Avenue till they moved to the apartment on Vermont). The family was regular members of the Carondelet Sunday Morning Athletic Club on Loughborough Avenue. I believe the father tended bar there, along with other activities. Their upstairs apartment on Vermont Avenue was typical upper-lower income family with modest trappings and furnishings.  This allowed a certain amount of kinship to Sharon with me, as being of similar background.  I gathered that the family was struggling like everyone else in that area.

Was that the year of the backyard apparition? Was a prayer answered?

ROCKABILLY

Rockabilly partly came out of Haley with his “cowboy yodeling.” But there was also Jimmy Rodgers who fused Hillbilly Cowboy, gospel, jazz, blues, Pop, and Folk. “And then, out of nowhere, came Bill Haley…..Crazy Man Crazy…..an exuberant, pulsating blend of guitar, sax, and piano, riding the best of a slap-back bass and a whip-crack snare,” said Michael Satchell, “It was utterly different from any music we ever heard….now, we had music we could dance to. It was exciting.  It was cool.  It was ours……(he was) a cowboy poet.” Haley had tired of country yodeling – western swing: he changed his band’s name from the Saddlemen to The Comets (based on the tales of Mark Twain and Hailey’s Comet): became one of the most successful of the early “blue-eyed” Rockers. Later, Ray Charles expanded on the tradition of Country Swing with songs like Hit The Road Jack, I Got A Woman, Georgia, Born To Lose. (“I was born with music inside of me…music was one of my parts, like blood. It was a force already with me when I arrived on the scene”, said Charles.) Billie Barnette. Mama Thornton (Hound Dog). Fats Domino (made the Top Ten with Aint That A Shame, 1955). Jackie Deshannon. Buddy Holly – The Big Bopper – Richie Valens (“We sang dirges in the dark the day the music died…..”, Don Mclean’s American Pie.). Chuck Berry (which I saw often passing through Lambert Airport). Jerry Lee Lewis. Ricky Nelson (I’m walkin, Stood Up, It’s Late, Lonesome Town, Poor Little Fool, Hello Marylou: “His artistry in using his ‘smooth’ monotone tenor to subtly and feelingly convey a wide range of teen angst emotions”) {Wikipedia}. Eric Hilliard Nelson (Ricky) preferred Rockabilly and up-tempo Rock songs like Believe What You Say and I Got A Feeling.  Little “Ricky” was a prophet:  he would say on The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet television program: “I don’t mess around, boy!”

(His father, Ozzie Nelson, had the number one hit And Then Some in 1934 and his rendition of Ain’t That A Shame made the top ten in 1955; Nelson made the 1957 Rutgers University “Doctor of Humane Letters”, and ranked number 21 in the TV Guide’s list of the 50 greatest TV dads of all time)

About this time, media producer Dick Clark – American Bandstand – came upon the television scene with groups like Danny and the Juniors and their Rock And Roll Will Never Die and At The Hop. Started in 1957 – the show eventually moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood in 1964. Elvis Presley appeared on January 8, 1960. During its run, one had the opportunity to have seen Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Annette Funicelo, Frankie Avalon, James Brown, Fabian, Bobby Darin, and Paul Anka and many other stars.  Rock steps such as The Slop, Bop, Hand Jive, The Stroll, The Twist and several others became popular and featured dance routines.

CHARLES HARDIN HOLLY

Charles Holly’s, better known as Buddy Holly, success lasted only a year and a half, but, as critic Bruce Elder said, Holly was “the single most influential creative force in early rock n’ roll…” His early version of his hit song That’ll Be The Day took its title from a line that John Wayne’s character says repeatedly in the 1956 film The Searchers. That song topped the U.S ‘Best Sellers’ chart in stores September, 1957. By coincidence, Sputnik took off that year as well. On October 21, 1958, Holly recorded a ballad for his wife, True Love Ways. On February 3, 1959, due to a tight tour schedule, during very inclement weather, Holly traded a bus seat with artist Waylon Jennings for a seat aboard a small chartered airplane – along with recording artists Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson —- which crashed ending the lives of all three artists.  Holly and singer Waylon Jennings had jokingly traded friendly bards before the flight; Holly said to Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!”  Jennings replied: “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!”  It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for years to come. This incident made its way into Don Mclean’s American Pie…..”…..the day the music died…..”     

MISSISSIPPI RIVER DIXIE AND RAG

(“Through my singing and acting and speaking, I want to make freedom ring. Maybe I can touch people’s hearts better than I can their minds, with the common struggle of the common man.” Paul Robeson)   

Ronnie Smith and I would venture about Carondelet, St. Louis and often travel to the Vulcan Street bridge in the “patch”, and there listen to the Dixie and Rag rhythms that came floating through the summertime breeze as we faced the Showboats catering to tourists traveling on the Mississippi River; In the air was that special primal and primitive smell of mud and waste from the river,

Says www.hoover.archives.gov: “The Mississippi River has been host to a musical heritage ranging from Native American drumbeats to Anglo-Celtic ballads, French folksongs to African-field-hollers. Emerging in the late 1800s, an original American sound drifted up from the southern cotton fields, choir lofts, juke joints, and river barges….Distinctive songs of suffering were sung by the poorest, mostly illiterate blacks, a reaction to the demeaning existence lived by sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta. Accompanied by acoustic guitar or harmonica, these earthy songs were primitive and gritty….The Delta blues became the cornerstone of modern music. It became the basis for Gospel, Jazz, Dixieland. Ragtime, Bluegrass, Country, Rock and Roll, Rhythm And Blues, Soul Music….A gumbo mix of blues, ragtime, Spirituals, and Caribbean Music erupted….Musicians worked the riverboats and spread their hypnotic rhythms and brassy tones up the Mississippi, and by the 1920s and 1930s, Dixieland brass ensembles were all the rage.” I am reminded of Paul Robeson’s rendition of Ole’ Man River (he sang it in the “oldie but goodie” movie Show Boat, 1936; baritone William Warfield sang that song in the 1951 Show Boat version ). Robeson owed much to his pianist, arranger and accompanist-manager, Lawrence Brown, who helped organize the  Songs Of Free Men.

Though an avowed and active Communist, many say that Robeson was deluded and unaware of Stalin’s Death Camps and murdering atrocities, and he was blinded by the Russian propaganda of a better world for Negro people, void of racial bias and hatred. They say he could not be convinced otherwise; devoting himself to the love of the poor and down trodden citizens; particularly that of the negro people.

In the 1890s, a group of musicians, including Scott Joplin, were living in and around Sedalia, Missouri (1894) writing rags. “Ragging” of songs were especially popular with dance music and some dances were called “rags”. Joplin studied music at the George R. Smith College in Sedalia, and eventually taught musicians Scott Hayden and Arthur Marshall. Joplin moved to St. Louis in 1900 where he wrote the popular The Entertainer, Elite Syncopation, March Majestic, and Ragtime Dance.  In 1903, he wrote his opera A Guest of Honor.  Joplin had severalmarriages; his first wife, Freddie Alexander, died at age 20. Two months After their wedding, Joplin wrote Bethena (1905). Joplin’s belief was that “Ragtime should never be played fast”, according to biographer Rudi Blesh (1909).  In 1914. Jelly Roll Morton popularized Joplin’s Silver Swan Rag.

“River traffic increased so rapidly that by the 1830s, it was common to see more than 150 steamboats on the St. Louis levee,” said en.wikipedia.org, “and the wharves were filled with workers shifting goods on and off the boats.”  Historian William B. Faherty said that in 1841 St. Louis had 186 steamboats to have landed 1,976 times discharging 263,681 tons of goods. A popular riverboat tune of that period was Steamboat Bill (www.usdgennet.org, “Steam boating On The Mississippi”). In 1810, there were 20 steamboats on the rivers; in the 1830s, there were 1200 ‘hulls’.

“By the 1820s, with the southern states joining the Union and the land converted to cotton plantations so indicative of the Antebellum south, methods were needed to move the bales of cotton, rice, timber, tobacco and molasses. The steamboat was perfect,” said en.wikipedia.org, Steamboats Of The Mississippi, “America boomed in the age of Jackson. Population moved west and more farms (and more slaves) were fueled first by wood, then coal, which pushed barges of coal from Pittsburg to New Orleans. Regular steamboat commerce begun between Pittsburgh and Louisville.”

“Early jazz and blues influences flowed north on riverboats that plotted a course into town from New Orleans, the Mississippi Delta and Memphis, while ragtime, blues and R&B flowed down from St. Louis.  That was a common migration path from  the 1880s to World War II,” said www.soulofamerica.org, “The up-tempo beat of ragtime, coupled with the frequent arrival of the riverboats with their musicians, hustlers, drifters, pimps and  prostitutes, created a perpetual transient energy that pushed social mores and interaction  between the races….Joplin resided here for several years and became one of the city’s favorite sons, particularly after he composed The Cascades for the 1904 World’s Fair….”

Joplin performed at the Columbia Expedition in Chicago in 1893. John Philip Sousa played ragtime and also introduced it and the Cakewalk to Europe. He advertised for such compositions. Gershwin, Romberg, Kern, Berlin and Porter wrote ragtime during their early years. Classical composers such as Ives, Dvorak, Hindemit and Debussy used Ragtime themes in their works. (Rachel Sahlman. www.incwell.com.  Warren Trachtman. http://www.nvrs.org)  

“The Zebulon Pike and her sisters soon transformed St. Louis into a bustling boomtown, commercial center, and inland port”. By the 1830s more than 150 steamboats landed at the St. Louis levee at one time.  Immigrants flooded into St. Louis after 1840, particularly from Germany; during reconstruction, rural southern blacks flooded into St. Louis as well, seeking better opportunity. “By the 1800s, St. Louis had become the largest U.S. city west of Pittsburgh, and the second largest port in the country, with a commercial tonnage exceeded only by New York.”  

The panopy of river steamboats are endless: The City Of Baton  Rouge  – 1870s. City Of Cairo – 1856.  City Of Chattanooga – 1892.  Streamer City – June 24, 1861.  City of Keithsburg – 1864.  Sawmill Clipper – 1880.  Clara – 1856.  Clara Hine – 1850s. Comet – 1813.  City of Gadsden – 1899.  City Of Jeffersonville – 1891. Natchez I, II, III -1823-1848, New Orleans – 1811, Floating Theatre – 1831, Robert E. Lee – 1836, White Cloud – 1823, Hannibal, Mississippi King, American King, Proud Mary, River Queen, New Sensation, New Era, Water Queen, Princess, Golden Rod, Sunny South, Cotton Blossom, New Showboat, King Of Mississippi, Southern Belles, The American Queen, Sultana, the Sprague, the largest stern-wheel towboat ever built, launched in 1901, eventually became a showboat and museum in 1948, ending in a fire in 1974, S.S. St. Paul, S.S. Sidney, S.S. Captiol – with showmen such as Zutty Singleton, Norman Mason, Sidney Desuignes, Amos White, Henry Kimball, and so many more.

“The New Orleans bands, like the riverboats themselves, wintered in New Orleans and came north into dock and operate from St. Louis all summer,” said John Szived. So What; The Life Of Miles Davis, www.books.google.com, “St. Louis regularly got to hear New Orleans musicians like Fate Marable, Louis Armstrong, and Red Allen on those boats and off them. New Orleanians like drummer Zutly Singleton and Jelly Roll Morton recorded with local St. Louis bands, and area musicians such as Charles Creath, Dewey Jackson, and Elwood C. Buchanan, Sr., were heard on the boats when they reached New Orleans.”  These riverboat musicians played simple dance music, gracefully and easily – laying the basis for the jazz music to come in the years ahead.  “By the early 1900s, St. Louis may have been the center of ragtime, but it was also primed for the development of jazz.”

JAZZ

The legend of the origin of the word ‘jazz’ could be traced to multiple origins; one popular legend if that the word was derived from the rhythm and blues played on the J.S. Deluxe Showboat – commonly referred to as the “J.S.” and repeatedly pronounced “jezz” or “the jezz” – eventually become the byword for the particular River Boat swing, Dixie and Blues.  The boat actually belong to the John Streckfus boat line – hence the JS. It was launched in 1901 for excursion traffic from New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota with the theme “rolling on the river”.  The JS had a large dance floor and bandstand. The boat burned on June 25, 1910.

Another legend was Jess Stacy – August 11, 1904 to January 1, 1995 – an American jazz pianist during the Swing Era; Jesse Alexander Stacy, lived in Bird’s Point, Missouri , and by 1920 he was playing piano in saxophonist Reg Meyer’s jazz ensemble at Cape Girardeau High School and at the Bluebird confectionary at Broadway and Fountain, as well as at the Sweet Shop on Main street. Jesse played for Reg Meyer’s Melody Kings and played on the Majestic and other riverboats.  He eventually worked for Paul Mares and lived in Chicago, Illinois.   

THE ‘SATCHMO’

Louis Daniel Armstrong played a “particularly influential and controversial role in the riverboat experience,” said William Kenny.  In 1919, 1920, and 1921, his unusually rapid improvisational program accelerated on the Streckfus Line excursion boats. 

“Jazz skills, jazz ideals, and jazz’s alienation from mainstream middle class culture functioned as a body of knowledge with which one could live and work while on the move, particularly on the water”, said William Howland Kenny, author of Jazz On The River, “Armstrong owed much to his musical experiences in New Orleans. But from 1919 to the end of the summer of 1921, he tramped the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers….his music expressed the special kinds of movement characterized by migration, diaspora, and steamship voyages.”    

Louis Daniel Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 in the Storyville district of New Orleans, the famed red-light district called the “Back of the Town”. It was often referred to as “the battlefield” because of the gambling, drunkenness, fighting and shooting. His father was a laborer that abandoned Louis, his mother and family right after Louis’ birth. Louis’ mother was a part-time prostitute: William Armstrong and Maryann Albert. There was Sister Beatrice Armstrong Collins and Uncle Isaac. His very early life in New Orleans was grim, rough and tumbles.  Louis hauled coal by day and played his cornet by night.

In 1907, Louis stayed with a Jewish family in New Orleans, Louisiana, which taught him racial equality,” how to live –  real life and determination” – and eventually lead to the Karnofskys Project. Louis wore a Star Of David most of his life.  Armstrong tells about the Karnofskys in his book Louis Armstrong And The Jewish  Family In New Orleans, La., The Year Of 1907.

He was sent to the Fisk School for Boys and the Colored Waifs Home because he shot off his stepfather’s pistol in a New Year’s celebration; he was oft times considered a juvenile delinquent. Professor Peter Davis took note of Louis and the Home Administrator Captain Joseph Jones asked that Louis be tutored. Cornet Bunk Johnson taught the 11-year-old to play by ear at Pago Tony’s Tonk in New Orleans. He stayed in the school till 14-years-of-age. Louis later gained the nick name “satchmo” because of his broad, wide, joyous grin he often displayed to the public. He became entranced with music and played for passing pedestrians on street corners. One of his haunts was the ‘quabrille’ where they did licentious dancing, such as the Funky Butt and “ragtime” (Jazz was very new and embryonic then). There was also Joe Oliver’s Pete LaLa’s Club. His first dance hall job was at Henry Ponce’s club. Black Benny became one of the first of a line of protectors, handlers and guides. He was a student of Burk Johnson and Buddy Petit Kiory; Joe ‘King’ Oliver, however, became his primary mentor and father figure.

Despite his tenacious and mean rearing, Armstrong often spoke of his youth with fondness; well-liked (and made himself so) by the prostitutes, pimps, gamblers and toughs of that neighborhood. Satchmo Armstrong “Apparently felt relatively secure in this rather vicious environment.” (www.lewis-armstrong.com)

He sang in a boys’ quartet in 1913; studied with the Joe ‘King’ Oliver Band and later joined the Kid Ory Band in 1919.  For two years he also played on the St. Louis river boat that housed Fate Marable’s Band (he referred to Fate Marable as “going to the university”), where upon he was introduced to the Streckfus Mississippi Boat Lines and became a river boat musician. One of his bands he called the Tuxedo Brass Band. He later formed the Hot Five and Hot Seven Bands.

Armstrong’s first wife, Daisey Parker, died on March 19, 1918, shortly after their divorce. They had adopted a 3-year-old boy, Clarence Armstrong, who sustained a head injury and needed special care there-after.

Armstrong played on the S.S. Sidney and S.S. St. Paul riverboats and he wrote glowingly about “going back to his Storyville haunts with a wad of riverboat dollars in his jeans”. His major themes were of the black Mississippian and his great migration revealed in his own hot, stomping, swinging manner, sometimes in a tempo much faster than riverboat captains had allowed.  His lyrics spoke of the sadness of the black south, but Armstrong frames those moments in his own “sunny optimism”. Said Kenny: “He’s a son of the south very much on the move, dressed even better than Fate Marable, and moreover, stepping to some really hot jazz, much too searing for old wooden paddle wheelers.”

In Billy Baskette’s Mighty River, the lyrics actually herald the sound of a departing steamer’s whistle and bell, announcing a slow voyage back home “to a girl (like Daisy Parker)”.

A Victor Records recording session in 1933 produced Mississippi Basin, Dusty Stevedore, St. Louis Blues, There’s A Cabin In The Pines, Mighty River, He’s A Son Of The South. Decca Records recorded in 1939 and 1940 bannered his lively Shanty Boat On The Mississippi and Lazy Sippy Steamer.

Shanty Boat evokes the jerry-rigged houseboats of poor black people along the Mississippi and tell about the feelings of an exhausted laboring man who looks forward to the day that he and his wife can “kick back” and release daily burdens on his own shanty riverboat.

Louis invented ‘scat singing’, a form of bebop rhythm in lyrics, and the “uniquely gritty correlation of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated.” In 1923 Louis correlated and arranged music with Hoagy Carmichael and Bix Beiderbecke. Rockin Chair was one of Carmichael’s best renditions. Armstrong recoded Lazy River in 1931 and in 1945 he formed a six piece band called the All Stars. In 1968 Armstrong recorded What A Wonderful World: a lyrical, musical travel log of life’s best moments And memories. In 1990 Louis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

Louis ‘Satchmo’ Daniel Armstrong died on July 6, 1971 at 69 years-of-age. “Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine”, Armstrong had said, “I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans. It has given me something to live for.”    

Louis Armstrong became one of the greatest riverboat celebrities of the 20th century with his “hot” jazz tempos.  Said Armstrong: What we play is life!”   

CREATIVITY OR  DESTRUCTIVITY?

(Otherwise known as ’Smock! Smock!’)

Steve Allen would be the last to stifle creativity (he personally used it in the creation of his brash and upbeat theme song This Could Be the Start of Something Big). He often extolled creativity. In the 1995 No. 61 General Semantics Bulletin , Allen said of himself: “I’m just a musical illiterate…I cannot read music….I’m just versatile….some little tiny little thing is  where that talent comes from….that’s way in the Twilight Zone….(but) so is the whole universe…..you cannot make scientific statements so ephemeral as humor….eye of the beholder….there being no further testimony in this case, the jury will now retire to render a verdict….”

Steve Allen would outline the lives of people like automotive tycoon Charles Kettering as a gifted child who worked his way out of extreme poverty, and used those gifts to obtain grand success. But I also agree that those people could have easily been overlooked if they did not get help and support along the way.  Sometimes talent and support don’t always mesh in life.

Or as Steve Allen would tell his television audience from time to time: “Smock!  Smock!”

SOFT  AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

It was at one of usual cold winter Steak N’ Shake meetings that Wild grimaced in his steely voice about the creeping menace of Communism.  The meeting, decorated by ice-filled streets and drifts and banks of dirty white snow in a harsh zero-degreed St. Louis weather, was one of several terse scenarios with Wild.

“We have nothing against what has been called soft music, crooning, classical or light sounds: not at all,’ I told him, “These are all interesting and sometimes greatly entertaining. We have no special fight here other than some music and songs we like much better than others. We have no special agenda other than popular criticisms or opinions. I like Bobby Darin ballads (Somewhere Beyond The Sea – 1959 – also sung by Gisele Mackenzie and played by Benny Goodman – 1948 – and also Annuncio Paolo Mantovany) and Frank Sinatra ballads (Laura, Young At Heart, Without A Song), Nat King Cole (Ramblin Rose, Mona Lisa, Autumn Leaves), and especially Perry Como (Shadows Follow Me and his 1955 hit It’s Impossible), Jo Stafford (You Belong To Me) – – – – and pass over the usual ironies and conflicts in their backgrounds.”  The list of such music could go on and on: Enoch Light And The Light Brigade renditions of 30’s and 40’s: Marie, April In Paris, I Can’t Get Started With You  (but his jazz renditions as well: Sing, Sing, Sing and Tuxedo Junction). Eddie Fisher recently passed away in September, 2010: you may remember his ever popular tune Oh My Papa.

THE FIRST ROCK STAR?

“I even like Ludwig Von Beethoven, and his Choral Symphony No. 9  really “Rocks” — – – – it picks you up and shakes you down to the core of your being!”  I explained to Wild. And again there are his symphonies No. 5, 3 and 7! Wikianswers says: “Beethoven bridged the classical and romantic periods of music. The latter period involved less emphasis on strict rules and more on pure emotion.  Beethoven’s style, particularly later in his life, reflects this period well.  His works involve strong emotion and broke several of the musical rules that existed in the Barogue and Classical periods…late classical and early romantic styles….” His music searched out vibrations that where so dynamic that some people believed he must had an African heritage.  Ira F. Brillant says: “He was the first composer to invigorate European Classical music with prodigious use of this decidedly inherent African rhythmic trait….one of the first composers to deviate from the musical template of eighteenth-century rules and regulations……” Max Chandler says that many musicians and writers today were heavily influenced by Beethoven: Bud Powell, Dave Brubeck, Charlie “bird” Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles  Mingue, Orenette Coleman and others (and writer Anthony Burgess and movie producer Stanley Kubrick on their respective works on A Clockwork Orange  depicting a futurist society chuck-full of Beethoven). Wagner said of him that Beethoven faced the world with a defiant temperment and kept an almost “savage” independence. He rejected sham, humbug, conventionality above all things: Beethoven may have been our First Rock Star!

“In part, the problem is that we don’t live in a black-on-white reality and we are wanderers with eccentric philosophies trying to force ourselves into round holes when we are square pegs. Schizotypal personalities, such as ourselves, often have difficulty,” I went on to explain the Wild, “We tend to relinquish to our obsessive-compulsive square pegs and see our views as the best of everyday, real-world “holes”. We are playing “Connect – The – Dots”- – – – drawing lines between dots all over the page of life (dots that are topics or subjects that strictly support our deep prejudices, biases, idiosyncrasies) and then we pull a magic little string at the bottom of the page that draws all those ideas and topics into a stiff, straight line of “dots” and we call these eccentricities: The real factual world. We all do it – some worse than others. Even so-called professionals: they are not getting it right.  Like Tim Zell use to quote someone (Carl Sagan?): ‘the universes are a lot bigger than our head.’”

NOT  KOOL

No one was deliberately performing for Wild personally so that they could be gauged by Wild’s private obsessive-compulsive and pensive review of their every action. This reminds me of the Jack Nicholson’s performance of Marvin Udall in the movie As Good As It Gets.  Marvin was surrounded by everyday people doing everyday things on a regular outing and being their everyday selves.  Udall, in the movie, as a misanthrope and masochist, hated everything and everybody (I hate that when it happens to me).  I don’t believe we were worried about matching up to someone’s esoteric-philosophical library in someone’s head that day of the outing. Myself, my diabetes was acting up (since 2008 – I’ve gone from pills to insulin: in July, 2010 my kidney stopped functioning for a few days) and I was feeling “out of sorts” that day in 2008 — and I had my broken toe and joint arthritis to contend with; my hips are painful, even when I walk a short distance; the family doctor says it may be also due to diabetic neuropathy). As Carol Connelly said to Marvin in the movie (Udall was both a brilliant writer and a literary artist): “Do you have any control over how creepy you allow yourself to get?” (Udall had allowed everything to be viewed through the prism of his sickness).

On a “picnic” (do you remember the movie Picnic?Steve Allen wrote some of the music for that movie) people don’t usually approach it as if were involved in a political dissertation a professional symposium, inquisition, or a trial…..They just want to be “cool” and relaxed and “let their hair down” so-to-speak: But it still is a matter of give and take. Without some leeway, it could turn out to be a “political dissection” and a clash of our base philosophical and  emotional (maybe puritanical) rigidities.

But beware – – – – beware of the world of contradiction – – – – (and more on that next time) – – – – our recusant separatist has such a tight noose around his neck, that even when “he” claims his pristine black-on-white world as the only correct world, out of his library world of books and paper, through the corner of his eye, he sees other people somewhere watching, causing him to think there just might be much more to life out there, and the noose is not really a halo of glory.

PART II

DECEMBER 22, 2008

(THERE WILL NOT BE A LOT RESEMBLING THE ORIGINAL LETTER IN THIS DOCUMENT AS THERE HAS BEEN HEAVY REVISIONS THROUGHOUT)

The preceding was held off from mailing and probably would have been regulated to the waste basket or some far distant revision, for fear of not being “purist” enough to match Moriarty Wild’s atelophobia, tropophobia. allodoxaphobia, polyphobia, or whatever combination of social phobia or philosophical derivatives he evolved from. Claiming a personal philosophical psyche is Wild’s inherent personal right. It is mine too. I enjoy many of the things in my life, and I do not feel that I need to be a “pure scientist” (there is no such thing!)  or stand “aloof” from “humans” because I want to match what various “ideologues” say in books and papers that assuage my psychological world: I much prefer “real life”.

Says Humanistic Theories Of Psychology: “Alfred Adler….in applying holistic principals to psychology, Adler argued that if we want to understand humans, we need to view them as whole (or individuals) rather than bits and pieces (i.e., Freud’s ‘id’, ‘ego’ and  ‘super ego’). Holism also emphasizes the need to take human’s physical and social environments into account when trying to understand them, therefor the concept of ‘gemeinschaftsgefuhl’ (Boeree, 1997).”   

While I did not have debunkers like Phil Klass as a personal mentor, I did have what could be called mentors of sorts (Keyhoe, Ruppelt [the early version], Ray Palmer, H.G. Wells, others; but also Space Patrol, Space Cadets, Sky King, Howdy Doody, Mr. Wizard, Jules Verne’s From The Earth To The Moon, Walt Disney, Sputnik, Wernher von Braun, Herb Philbrick: I led Three Lives, Alfred Hitchcock, Dave Garroway, Science-fiction Theatre, The Twilight Zone, The Loretta Young Show, the movie The Wizard Of Oz, and so on), none of those could compete with my ‘fulltime’ occupation of staying alive physically, psychiatrically and psychologically, and fitting in and creating my own Wonderland of Adventure amid the harsh reality of my life in the 50s and 60s (most of which only a few people around me could have been aware of).

It was a Dark verses a Happy Sunshine world I lived in. And I had hoped that the Sunshine adventures I got into would cast over the Dark Side- – – -that was before Star Wars movies– – – – but like Luke Skywalker, I hoped my happy-go-lucky Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer adventures would save me from  going “over to the Dark Side”. My life in Carondelet was a symphony of tragedy, happiness, adventure and mysticism, stark, raw life and naked brutality, the life or a boy and, soon, teenager in the 50s – 60s with all the panorama of A Rebel With out A Cause and other traits of that era. My life was several movie and television scripts come to life. My mom would often compare me to Timmy in the television program Lassie or Ricky from Ozzie And Harriet. Said of “little” Nelson:  “…he was ’an odd little kid’….likeable, shy, introspective, mysterious and inscrutable……” Later, I guess, I could be compared to teenage movie parts that the late actor Vic Morrow played. Parts like Artie West in The Blackboard Jungle, Richard Brooks’ 1955 drama: “A scary and unfamiliar fringe of the youth movement.”

When did you graduate from that upper-class, high-style “finishing school”? Was there one in Carondelet? And how did you get “protected” from being a real life scene out of The Black Board Jungle movie?  I did attend that school! I didn’t get a chance to attend the Finishing School. Not many people were envisioning great and wonderful things for me: other than myself.  But I lost track or got “sucked under” (as one might say) by the muck of blue-collar workaday fiasco and drama of lower middle-class lifestyle and teenage depression and psycho angst. Let’s see: you lived on Pennsylvania Avenue which was not far from where I lived on Michigan Avenue and that was not too much distance from where John Moeller lived on Field Avenue. Are you saying those “books” you were reading at 16-17 years of age “thrust” you into that more elite and magnanimous lifestyle? And when did you receive a degree or post-graduate degree? That always makes you a better human and good-hearted-person, doesn’t it? If not that, at least “superior”!

The closest I was able to get near that ‘high style’ was when I watched the late Louis Rukeyser (that “rakish raconteur” and the “most sartorially elegant host in America” on Wall Street Week  television) speaking in an “inimitable and always delightful style” of the wealthy, walking into a “fustily elegant” Baltimore hotel, ”unhip, unabashed, unbeaten”, “exquisitely tailored” and ”pun-loving”,  “light-hearted, free-market oriented” (at a time when American mutual funds numbered a scant 323), looking shockingly similar to an aristocratic George Washington. On many days, withdrawing from the hot-steaming metal of the boiler fabrication shop, and escaping from the painful stabs of a cold wife unbeknownst to me as planning a divorce conspiracy, I’d recline on the floor in front of the TV, Allowing Rukeyser’s tranquil and soothingly firm Mr. Fred Rodgers – Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood-type-children’s’ show voice to become “talk therapy”; God bless you, Mr. Rukeyser!

However, I did have the opportunity to hypocritically refer to myself as a somewhat of a journalist (“maybe”).  But it would be a journalist that has no firm, innate, rigid, convictions. I don’t think I claim to be one of those arm chair pseudo-scientists of some fundamentalist “Rationalist” Cult (you’ll soon notice that I stopped using “skeptic” as a title description in as much as skeptics are not “debunkers” at all: in fact the term has been greatly misused…..

Said Celeste Adams: “Dr. (Raymond) Moody explains that the so-called ‘skeptics’ are not skeptics at all: ‘the skeptic tradition goes back to ancient Greece, and it’s a spiritual tradition about not drawing conclusions. So when someone says, ‘I’m a skeptic…I think it’s just (this or that),’ they have contradicted themselves.  They have said, ‘I am a person that doesn’t draw conclusions,’ then they draw a conclusion….to be a genuine investigator….belief or disbelief is irrelevant. We only need to ask ‘What’ is the ‘Nature’ of what we’re dealing with.’” Scientist Dr. Bill Bankston concurred: “The ego needs to get out of the way. Not a lot to do with trying. Let nature take its course. Be a Lightening rod. Let it happen…..inside and outside the box. Thinking in a different box, but we ignore the anomalies to keep the box we are in: it’s the way we frame the world….a good scientist is a skeptic: cautious but in a fluid state. A Believer already says he knows the answer, he is not “open.”  It is scary both ways; to be open, fluid, and willing to be wrong”…..).

I am not a scientist (obviously) and I don’t believe I have pawned myself off as one. Maybe I am a true Skeptic, the average “Joe Citizen” kind as a work-a-day-world-kind-of-a-Skeptic. I see you as more of a religious quest on behalf of the Debunkers Over All Church, much like John Schroeder is spreading the UFO Spaceship Religion. It’s all religion; just at the opposite ends of a scale. Could be that this is caused by the pontifical ideology of the various political and Cultist religions and feelings involved? There is a world of scientists out there interested in UFOs and psychic phenomena, such as Robert Bigelow and Jacques Vallee, thousands of others. There is The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Society for Scientific Exploration. Others; consisting of legitimate scientists. I’m not about to call them idiots as Moriarty would. He’d call Einstein an idiot, if it served his Religion. And you might include Brian Greene, Michio Kakui, Charles Seife, Martin Rees, Marcelo Gleiser, Ralph Alpher, John Wheeler, David Bohm, M. Talbot, Alan Guth, David Gross, Paul J. Steinhardt, Burt Ovrut, Kip Thorne, David Deutsch, Lawrence Kraus, Phil Marshall, Andrea Ghez, Phil Plait, Max Tegmark, Andrea Ghez, Joe Silk, Joan Swartz, Amanda Peet, Edward Whitten, Joseph Linken, Frank Tippler, Andrew Cleland, Nick Poplawski, Andre Linde, Frank Wilczek, Peter Higgs, Stephen Hawkings, Phil Rivera, John Jackson, Ray Downing and a whole host of others like them.  Might as well, they are pushing the Outer Limits of science. I’m just not prepared to castigate them. Moriarty can do that. Neither am I able to adjudicate and ostensibly expatriate the fate of Carl Jung or many other scientists. Maybe after I get to attend that Finishing School Moriarty attended. However, maybe I can hope and see Magic still going on in the universe.  Maybe………….

SHAVERIAN-DERO-HOBBIT?

I recall you going about social and public circles back through years 1967 (circa 60s to the near present), smirking, like some little Shaverian-Dero-hobbit, cackling, “idiots!,” “you’re a liar!,” “trash!,” “crazy!,” “junk!,”  and other symptoms of seeming schizoid tourettes-like coprolalia (normal acid drollery or stereotypic movement disorder? You said you didn’t remember going about making such remarks). Michael Guillen, PH.D., Senior Science editor for ABC-TV had a much more refreshing use of the language (1998): “my goal is to report accurately and open-mindedly any interesting and credible goings-on within science, be they orthodox or iconoclastic….apply the scientific method…only through rigorous studies…can we get beyond the endless and largely emotional- philosophical arguments between ’skeptics’ and ’believers’….they’re open as evidenced by the continuing disagreement among intelligent, well-educated people….many of today’s research results….are routinely contradicted by some subsequent study….it’s not the nature of science ever to know anything with absolute certainty.  Which is why Mr. Park’s remarkable ability to know exactly what is and isn’t possible, to distinguish between ‘good’ and ’bad’ science with such complete confidence strike me, well, as just so much voodoo….”

I recall you were castigating people for their opinions way back in 1967. I was a “liar” when I published Thomas Fairbanks’ letters as MR. X in Dissenter/Disinter Magazine (which claimed he knew David Ferrie in New Orleans and some of the other people who were interconnected in the Kennedy assassination). I was not supporting his comments at that time; just reporting them without any absolute judgment. Subsequently, apparently, Fairbanks’ comments had some merit. I didn’t deserve Wild’s attack: Fairbanks ran into some of those characters while living in New Orleans.

But furthermore: when the public and Forteans went to listen to Dr. Allen J. Hynek’s 1967 lecture on his investigations into the UFO phenomenon in the St. Louis Washington University Graham Chapel, I had taken note of and later presented his comments in my magazine Dissenter/Disinter, also marking his comments that he was beginning to suspect that the oddities in that phenomena indicated a metaphysical or psychic aspect in its nature.  I later pointed out this revelation to Wild, where upon Wild again surprised and shocked me by saying I was a “liar” or a “god-damned liar” (I can’t remember which of the two phrases he spurted out to me). Of course, these were not my words I reviewed, recorded and  presented, but Dr. Hynek’s; I don’t, however, recall Hynek getting into some lengthy discourse on thesupernatural nature of the UFO, but he did indicate something paranormal wasgoing on(apparently Wild felt just the mere mention of anyone’s viewpoint opened the commenter to Wild’s censure in some kind of religious inquisition and verbalcastration [caused partially by Wild’s scholastic academics]); and – again – as events in the subject developed and further lectures and papers by  Hynek came out, the doctor , indeed, had said something paranormal seemed to be going on in that phenomenon). This I did pick up from his lecture and wrote about it in my magazine.

Thoughts on the nature of UFOs as “space machines” piloted by almost unrecorded pilots – had been framed by pulp fiction writers in the 1930s and earlier fiction writers such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and the ‘contactee’ stories of George Adamski, Howard Menger, Daniel Fry, Truman Bethurum, George Van Tassel and others, following closely the story line of pulp writers of the 1930s – 1940s such as Frank R. Paul, Raymond A. Palmer, Richard S. Shaver and others. Only a few writers suggested more than one cause for the sightings.

It is amazing that two listeners’ notes I discovered on that lecture (one set of notes written on 12/21/67 by Moriarty Wild) did not record or pick-up on Hynek’s reference to the ‘paranormal’ as I did: so strong was the willingness to “cleanse” any thought or perception in Hynek’s words that a new and strange phenomena may be involved including the metaphysical. Major Donald Keyhoe of NICAP fought vigorously against any such notion, even to the extent that he avoided that bizarre and strange humanoids were sometimes reported. The following reveals the growing tendency – even before 1967 —- of Dr. Hynek to suspect an origin other than just ‘classical’ machines from the far distances and regular worlds in space:

Dr. Hynek spoke on this point in a June, 1975 Fate Magazine interview: “I always start with the incontrovertible facts that UFO reports exist and humanoid reports exist. I don’t like it ___ I’d much rather talk about nocturnal lights and daylight discs but no scientist throws out data just because he doesn’t like it.  If he does he’s not a scientist. The data of the reports are there.  If you go through the files of the Flying Saucer Review you have case after case. NICAP threw them out for years. They just refused to think there could be anything like that; therefore they weren’t going to touch it.  But that’s not science.” (Page 51)   

It is odd that Dr. Hynek – on the same weekend he gave his Graham Chapel lecture – also was interviewed on WIL radio on November 25, 1967 and made similar allusions on UFOS: “….that’s a terribly loaded question….Do we really have an unexplained phenomenon? I think so. But it’s only after I have, or somebody has, the data really in form to study, in appropriate form to study, then one is ready for theorizing….The problem is, within the framework of our present-day science, we have no conceivable means or ideas of how that civilization could communicate with us because the distances are so utterly, utterly vast….it may also turn out to be something that we just don’t know about at all, in the same sense that a hundred years ago, the whole concept of nuclear energy would have been totally foreign to our way of life…I rather use the term ‘UFO’ than ‘flying saucer’ because ‘flying saucer’ is a loaded word, it..…already carries with it an answer…UFOs….do not seem to be explainable in the present scientific framework.…reports of extremely strange sightings made by reputable people in many cases….”  It was apparent that on November 25, 1967 that Hynek was disenchanted with flying saucer machines from normally envisioned interplanetary worlds. 

One can see Dr. Hynek’s growing suspicions and his increasing evolution about the true nature of the UFO reality even before 1967; having lived with the UFO phenomena “up close and personal”. In 1953, his suspicions leaked out into a April, 1953 article in the Journal Of The Optical Society Of America wherein he says true UFOs may be an unknown terrestrial phenomena: “But, do we have an natural phenomenon?”

The September-October,1966 issue of the now-defunct APRO Bulletin, chastised Hynek for hiding a more liberal viewpoint on UFOs before that time, when, in fact, he had suspicions that a really unusual phenomenon existed: “(Hynek would) ….bide his time until an opportunity came to arouse the interest of other scientists….a psychic revolution….” 

Another case in point (apparently circa 1967-1968): in Leslie Kearn’s 2010 book UFOs: Generals, Pilots, Government Officials Go On The Record  (Harmony Books, New York, 2010) speaking about the Condon UFO Project and the subsequent July, 1968 Hearings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics, Kearn reminds us on page 113 of her book quoting Hynek’s early belief: “As hynek pointed out at the time (emphasis, mine….SE), Condon and his supporters mistakenly equated the notion ofUFOs with something extraterrestrial…..”  Again, this appears to be about 1967-1968.   

On December 27, 1969 (just two years after his speech at Graham Chapel) at a General Symposium of the American Association For The Advancement Of Science, 134th meeting, Hynek, conjoining and speaking of Canadian Philosopher of Science, Thomas Goudge, indicated that a genuinely new-empirical observation and new explanation scheme including new, basic concepts and new scientific laws, needed to be established, and that the reported occurrences violate the “methodological criteria governing the advancement of science”: new observational data must occur, allowing new concepts, explaining new observational data. Hynek quoted Schreedinger: “….be curious, capable of being astonished, and eager to find out……”

Dr. Hynek spoke on February 23, 1973 at the Marriott Motor Hotel in St. Louis for the Northwestern University Alumni Club of St. Louis: “….the problem of the Northern Lights….nobody knew what caused it, because, simply, we didn’t know enough physics yet. And we may be in a sort of a similar situation with the UFO phenomenon; it may be opening a totally new domain of nature that we are, as yet – after all, just because it’s 1973 doesn’t mean that we know the things that we’re going to know about the universe in the year 4000….There remains no doubt in my mind that a real UFO phenomenon, of some sort, exists, which may, or may not, have extraterrestrial origin. Indeed that is the problem….these persons, adjudged responsible by all ordinary standards….to hold that they furnish as data that may be of decided, potential, scientific value…..”  These notes were recorded by Moriarty Wild in March, 1973.

At a 1973 MUFON Annual Symposium in Akron, Ohio, Hynek said in a piece called “The Embarrassment Of The Riches”: “……but many thousands every year? From remote regions of space? And to what purpose? To scare us by stopping cars and disturbing animals and puzzling us with their seemingly pointless antics?”  

In the Spring, 1974 issue of Probe The Unknown Magazine, Dennis V. Waitecomments on and quotes Hynek on these matters: “To say that life (as extraterrestrial-alien-visitors…S.E) has visited us — that’s another question.…ships from outer space” ‘explanation may just be too pat. Something is happening, Hynek says, something very real and frightening to many people’…”We have to take this phenomenon seriously whatever it is”….’There’s no conclusive evidence, he points out, that UFOs are ”nuts-and-bolts hardware”..…not with a predetermined judgement that they do not exist or that they are alien spacecraft, but with an open, constantly probing and thorough scientific sleuthing.’

In the January 20-22, 1975 AIAA 13th Aerospace Sciences meeting in Pasadena, California, Hynek said in “The Emerging Picture Of The UFO Problem”: “Eyewitness reports of actual space ships and actual extraterrestrials are, in themselves, totally unreliable. There have been numerous eyewitness reports of almost everything that most rational people do not care to accept….formulation of an hypothesis – or hypotheses – that encompass the established parameters of the UFO phenomenon – no matter how far beyond the boundaries of present-day science it may have to be….the trouble is, that whatever the UFO phenomenon is, it comes and goes unexpectedly. There is no way of examining it systematically. It appears suddenly and accidentally, is partially seen, and then it’s more or less inaccurately reported….the signal-to-noise aspect of the UFO problems aggravated to a high degree because the signal is a totally unexpected signal, and represents an entirely new set of empirical observations which do not fit into any existing framework in any of the accepted scientific disciplines….the signal itself signals the birth of a new scientific discipline…It is indeed sobering, yet challenging, to consider that the entire UFO phenomenon may only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg in a signaling an entirely new domain of the knowledge of nature as yet totally unexplored, an un explored and as unimagined as nuclear processes would have been a century ago… .”

Likewise, speaking at a January 23, 1975 Annual Meeting and Banquet of about 900 assembled Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Hynek said: “We have an  unidentified phenomena which we are trying to study….The UFO phenomenon poses a research problem, and the hypothesis of visitation by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization is only one of several possibilities.”  (these quotes were transcribed by Moriarty Wild ).

The September 27, 1975 Joint Symposium of the American Institute Of Aeronautics And Astronautics and the Los Angeles chapter of the World Futures Society proceedings record Hynek in saying: “ But what is by far the most appealing things about UFO facts is that they are not acceptable pieces in the scientific jig-saw puzzle. They are pieces that seem to belong to an entire different jig-saw puzzle….Bridge and tennis are just two different games and are played by different rules. And it seems clear to most of us that UFO’s don’t obey the rules of the present day scientific game….All these things seem to call for a Paraphysics, a metaphysics, of a transcendental physics…” 

Hynek said in the Cincinnati Horizons Magazine of October 1975: “We might condition them slowly, make appearances, and do strange things…But we surely wouldn’t travel the great distance involved to do prankish things like stopping cars and frightening animals.  It would make no sense.”

Hynek was quoted in the June 26, 1976 Daily News of Chicago: “(Are UFOs interplanetary?) Not likely. It’s just too far a distance to travel….We couldn’t possibly do it with our technology. Of course, there might be a more technologically advanced civilization out there. Maybe they could travel here, but it probably wouldn’t be in anything like a flying saucer…We just don’t have enough information to answer that. Whether they are from outer space, or something even more bizarre than that, like visitors from a parallel reality….”

In a June, 1976 published interview in FATE Magazine No. 315, Hynek had a lot to say: “…(Life in the universe) it does not follow that this explains UFOS in the sense of nuts-and-bolts hardware which is as far as most scientists are willing to go….(why) done entirely on the physical plane?….communication and exploration …not in the ordinary sense….There are other planes of existence ___ the astral plane, the etheric plane and so forth….that space and time are essentially interchangeable. Suppose it was possible to travel in time rather than in space…The new puzzle pieces are being given to us by the whole parapsychological scene ___ ESP, telepathy, the Uri Geiler phenomena, psychic healing and particularly psychic surgery….They clearly are parts of another jigsaw puzzle…there’s going to have to be an interface between these two pictures and this is part of that psychic revolution….This relates to the whole UFO picture; I have come to believe UFOs are part of the larger paranormal picture which has two aspects…physical effects occur apparently without physical causes….’psychic construct’ is a loaded term….modern UFO investigators tend to slough it off…doesn’t belong in our UFO wave. But it does…related to other paranormal phenomena and possibly is part of a slow conditioning process…this psychic construct has the ability to imitate, camouflage or mimic…if you once talk about consciousness and intelligence existing  apart from protoplasm….it has paranormal aspects but certainly but certainly it has very real physical aspects…We haven’t come up with an  answer. People always seem to want answers and I keep telling them, look, it’s a research problem.  In research you don’t know the answers.”

In an August 16, 1976 People Magazine interview, Hynek had this to say (page 53): “(Do UFOs come from outer space?) It doesn’t seem possible, but who knows?…People get excited at the thought UFOs might be from outer space. But it would be just as exciting if UFOS were from inner space, from an alternate or parallel reality…through expanded consciousness we were able to come into contact with a parallel reality?…that an entire parallel universe exists in these spaces between the parts of an atom…if the sheer weight of evidence finally forces us…a mighty and unexpected quantum jump.”  

In an interview with Hynek published in the April,1977 OUI Magazine (Jerome Clark, Carl Macki), Hynek made his theories much clearer: “One might even begin to speculate that the UFO itself, even though it manifests physical effects, may not be completely physical.  We don’t know.  We don’t really know, when a UFO is ‘seen,’ if there is an  actual image on the retina…a relationship might be discovered eventually, but in the poltergeist phenomenon we have something that has physical effects without being physical itself….the subject is much more complex than any of us imagined when we first got started in it.  It’s naïve to expect a simple solution…something that is far more complex than mere hallucinations or apparitions.  UFOs, although they may have no physical reality, can and do affect matter….the universe is not all that simple. Mystics, for example, have always talked about how matter vibrates at different rates of speed, but the scientist doesn’t know what the mystic is talking about…there is a lot that the spaceship concept doesn‘t explain about UFO phenomena.  You have to disallow or neglect overlook all sorts of things if you accept the idea that nuts-and-bolts craft are coming here from outer space —– the so-called extraterrestrial hypothesis….We’re going to have to broaden our scope and admit other things into our playing field of science….But it would be wrong if we pursued that path to the exclusion of everything else.  If the evidence suggests that there is a paranormal dimension to the phenomenon, we’re going to have to pursue that.”  

At a 1977 International UFO Congress in Chicago, Hynek said: “I hold it entirely possible that a technology exists which encompasses both the physical and the psychic, the material and the mental….there may a civilization that is millions of years more advanced than man….million-year-old civilization may know something that we don’t….I hypothesize an ‘m and m’ technology encompassing the mental and material realms.  The psychic realms, so mysterious to us today, may be an ordinary part of an advanced technology.”

In the November 21, 1977 (page 97) edition of Newsweek (“The UFO’s Are Coming”) by Peter Gwynne and Katrine Ames, Hynek is quoted as saying: “We have the questions, not the answers”. The authors say: “But he emphasizes that speculation should not be limited to flying saucers.  UFO’S, he says, may be psychic phenomena and the ‘aliens’ may not come from outer space but from a ‘parallel reality’: (Hynek) ”….I will speculate that a very advanced civilization might know something about the connection between mind and matter that we don’t.”   

In the December, 1998 Saturday Evening Post Hynek was quoted: “The fourth possible explanation of UFOs is that we are dealing with some kind of natural phenomena that we as yet cannot explain or conceive of.”  http://www.ufomind.com.                       

Sadly, no apology came from Wild; Wild apparently felt it was his imagined “academic” duty to psychologically assassinate his friends ( and I did consider him my friend at those moments, somehow; even though I was suspecting his personal life had its own peculiarities). But he shouldn’t have been “wrong” — he was not permitted that in what could be called the schizoid “PERFECT WORLD” – – – – – was that the ‘world’ taught to people in that Secret-Carondelet-Finishing-School?

Alfred Lord Tennyson saw this too:

“It is well within the range of science, glorying in the time, city children soak and blacken soul and sense in the city slime. There among the gloomy alleys progress halts on palsied feet; crime and hunger cast out maidens by the thousands on the street….”  

Robert E. Haggard speaks of it in The Persistence Of Victorian Liberalism “….by definition dreary, squalid and filthy…fetid…..poisonous…gangs of burglars, garrotters, and pickpockets operate almost without check…”

THE FIVE POINTS

In America, similarly, horrid conditions were found in the Five Points district of New York circa 1842-1863. Says Gregory Christiano:  “The name Five Points evokes images of poverty, rampant crime, decadence and despair, that’s true. The Five Points was a lurid geographical cancer filled with dilapidated and unbelievable tenement houses, gang extortion, corrupt politicians, houses of ill-repute and drunkenness and gambling. This was a place where all manner of crime flourished, the residents terrorized and squalor prevailed….Among the places the most crowded in proportion to their actual size, the worst ventilated and whose mortality is the greatest at all times….the term ‘cellar’ are not conveying a proper idea of the place when used as a residence….these dens, or artificial caves of the earth….often send bands JUST WHAT DO YOU ‘MEAN’ : SHAVERIAN HOBBIT!?

(A little “sidebar” on the Richard Shaver Mystery and why it is such a continued motif of legendary significance to me; I guess like Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer and other mystery noir (Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe; others?), that are inspirational to detective and mystery fans, the time was “right” for many science-fiction and prophetic stories of controversial reputation. For Morgan Robertson in 1898 it was writing his novel Futility—-The Wreck Of The Titan which seemed to foreshadow [14 years ahead of time] the real sinking of the Titanic. Jules Verne prophetic fiction that heralded nuclear submarines, trips to the moon, and H.G. Wells spoke of time travel and a future World Pax where science reigned supreme. Richard S. Shaver, along with writers William  Beebee, Dr. John Coleman, The Reverend Jim Slaw, Dr. Anthony Sutton, George A. Lehew, Jerry La-Prione, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and many other mystery noir writers spoke of our world being scrutinized by evil beings that have controlled us from time immemorial. A.J. Streichert said in 1958:  “…most dangerous because its nonsense seems to make sense.” John thine added more insight: “Shaver’s delusions are the dark and cloudy glass that which we see myths at the end of history; his obsessions mirror the concerns of us all, and as we look into his private abyss our fears and hopes as a species emerges out of the emptiness. Shaver’s work is not fact, it is not even true; it is real, in a way only the right myth at the right moment can be real…. ”)

(In Shaver’s particular mythos, noble and genetically pure Supermen — The Elder Race — lived out in the dark reaches of space away from the detrimental effects of the sun’s radiation…..

“……………..Princess Vanic……..sunless Nor…….Nortans…..dark space is filled of Titans, Atlans and Nor-tans..….it’s high time  we ran away from the Black Death. I’ve worried and waited  for it to strike me long enough. The Elder station on the cold  planets are the best natured men you can find in space:  Haven’t been near a sun in centuries, and don’t know the meaning of the word ‘evil’.”  (I Remember lemuria, 1948)………                                 

                               “……..you will go at once far beyond any influence from mother Mu’s rodite, under another space- group of planets, and there we will learn how to live where such things as the  black death does not exist…….”                          

…..to escape war and the “black death” of de-te-rio-ra-tion (Mantong: an incredibly ancient language: a type of cipher translating English letters into symbolic meanings) the Elder Race came to earth and placed a canopy of protective vapor around the planet: which eventually proved inadequate against the sun. The canopy collapsed and many raced into the interior of the earth were the Super Technology backfired and their machinery actually began to poison them — yet force them to stay alive for a span of time. They were “abandondero”, and they consisted of two camps, those who were progressively “evil” [Dero} and those who somehow had avoided the poison – Tero. The vast majority escaped into the far reaches of outer space…..

                          ……”Our sun has begun to throw out great

                           masses of these poisonous particles. They

                           fall upon Mu  in a continual flood, enter- 

                           ing into living tissue, and infecting it with

                           the radioactive disease we call age……”

                           The Teacher, I Remember lemuria, 1948…..)

(A large range of writers had an effect on Shaver and Shaver had a wide range effect on a lot of writers. H.P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, james  Churchword, Guy de Maupassant’s The Horla, others. Shaver said the Dero caused all kinds of havoc, terror and destruction on the “surface world”- – – – – and while most people slough off his story as the outcome of his stay in a Ypsilanti state hospital [Jim Pobst said it was only two weeks and only for disorderly conduct. His former wife Sophie said Shaver had gone on a binge and she asked that he be held on July 27, 1934 {July 27 is also Steve Erdmann’s birth date} for observation]- – – – -Shaver’s “discoveries” were far more ebullient. Publisher Ray Palmer said: “On December 27, 1949, Albert Einstein came out with a new theory of gravitation and electromagnetic fields’’, taunted Palmer, “months before that, Mr. Shaver (minus the mathematical formula) told me the same thing! For the record I want to say that if any credit for a new and revolutionary theory of gravity goes to anybody it should go to Richard S. Shaver on the basis of prior publication.” Palmer went on to expound: “Shaver described the Flying Saucers and predicted their appearance. And all this he said came from the information he got from the caves.  So whether or not [the story] came from his own mental process of some kind, the information was correct and the information he’s given us has been correct so many times it’s impossible to discard it as fiction.” Website http://www.anti-state.com said: “Shaver claimed he owed all this astounding information to technologically advanced beings that, like it or not, communicated with him.”)

HIS OWN MENTAL PROCESS

(Later in 1971 in his Hidden World series, Palmer admitted that Shaver’s conduit to his Caves [though highly debated and resisted by Shaver] were by way of an Altered-state of consciousness similar to a hypnotic trance or what might have occurred when in psychic states such as that of John Ballou Newbrough [1828-1891], when he did inspired writing of the Oahspe Bible. Nandor Foder, psychoanalyst, author of On The Trail Of The Poltergeist and The Haunted Mind, asked: “Is there a possibility that the human psyche, in a parthenogenesis fashion similar to the division of the cells, may give birth to another junior self?  In the light of this query, are split or multiple personalities strictly morbid or are they evolutionary manifestations of an unsuspected human potential?”

Even “debunkers” such as Michael Shermer (who at one time denied that hypnotism existed), in reviewing Robin Waterfield’s Hidden Depths: The Story Of Hypnosis, had to admit the reality of altered-states: “….an altered state of consciousness explains little for a simple reason: we don’t know what consciousness is, making it difficult to explain what an altered state of it means..…in that borderland between reality and fantasy where the power and mystery of hypnosis lies..…It is with hypnosis in particular that I depart ways from many of my skeptical colleagues who argue that it is nothing more than fantasy role-playing, or worse, pure fakery”. [Shermer was hypnotized successfully on his own television show]).

SHAVER AS JUNGIAN RUMOR AND METAPHOR

(Some of this debate almost seems immaterial with topics such as Ted Phillips’ search for Tony Horak’s Slovakia [Project Moon Shaft] cave [in the Tatra Mountains in the north-central area; October 23, 1944] which housed an ancient artifact, perhaps millions of years old; not to even mention reports of our own government shoveling out huge underground facilities; there are said to be an estimated 100 secret exits in the Archuleta Mesa on a Dulce, New Mexico complex, as testified by John Anderson and Paul Bennewitz. The Madigan Military Hospital complex near Fort Lewis in Washington state; the Jicarilla Apache Reservation; the complex under the New Denver International Airport, east of Denver, Colorado; China Lake Naval Weapons Centre in the California desert; the town of Ridgecrest near Death Valley; Page, Arizona; Taos, Carlsbad and Patil, New Mexico; as well as Springs, Creede, and Castello, Colorado. Chris Tinkler speaks of existing tunnels and nuclear Safe-havens below Canbeira near the Australian location of Melbourne and Townsville [not to mention historical reports such as the 1700s “hatch” reported by Dr. Plot at a Staffordshire. England entrance consisting of a large oval and ring {A History Of Staffordshire}. There is the Bell Witch Cave found by William Mitchell Mott in the 1800s in Robertson County, Tennessee, or the Moon Pool found by Abraham Mott in 1919, or Norman Kinley’s find 90 miles southeast of Marthon, Texas at the foot of the Del Norte Mountains, or the cave with a smooth stone wall and staircase  found by Tal and Mary Levesque in Hell Canyon 62 miles north of Branton, California, or the talk about a huge network of underground caverns beneath the Caribbean island of Bonaire.])

But perhaps no better tribute can be made than that which Richard Toronto gave: “(my) one and only mentor as writer and artist was Richard S. Shaver, who had a good heart no matter what history says about him.” Science-fiction/fiction has a way of forecasting reality.

Maybe Shaver was just seeing , envisioning, feeling human nature for all its scope and grandeur its breath and even horror; Shaver said: “The unseen world beneath our feet, malignant and horrible, is complete in its mastery of earth. And most horrible of all, it’s a world of Madmen.”

(As an even further aside topic [“big” sidebar], in Michael Greenberg’s telling of his daughter’s slide into insanity, the story reveals how little we know about mental illness in the more hardened cases [far more complex than I can go into here: Or even the panoramic descriptions of various states of consciousness]. In describing a moment of his daughter’s dementia: “….a wavelet of energy swelled through the center of being. She could see the hidden life in things, their detailed brilliance, the funneled genius that went into making them what they are.  Sharpest of all was the misery on the faces of the people she passed. She tried to explain her vision to them but they just kept rushing by…Spinoza spoke of vitality as the purest virtue, the only virtue. The drive to persist, to flourish, she said, is the absolute quality shared by all living beings…Spinoza’s virtue is inverted, and instead of flourishing, one is driven to eat oneself alive….” (Hurry Down Sunshine , 2008, Other Press, New York, N.Y. )

Comparatively, David Darling, Ph.D., (English Astronomer and Science Writer) speaks of these states in his Soul Search: “There will always be a gap between what science can measure and what human beings feel. Yet everything we know about the way the two brain hemispheres work, everything psychology has taught us about the constructed nature of the world, and everything that those who have had mystical experiences told us, point to the same direction….Hindus call it Samadhi, Buddhists…Nirvana…Rinzai school of Zen…Satori….Zen Masters and others are powerless to relate how it feels. Words and descriptions do not encompass it.” (Ken Wilber summed it up this way: “I believe that logic has its limits and needs to be transcended in order to gain deep knowledge and wisdom….”)

GOOD OLD DAYS AS MYTH

Shaver’s World View certainly punched holes in your “good ole’ days” peruse; that view  might  be said to be just as much  a “myth” as is your feelings on UFOs and psychic phenomena as myths: Otto Bettmann said so  in his The Good Old Days – They Were Terrible! Bettmann concentrated on the 1820s to 1890s period, and while it might be said to be not so bad for the very affluent in society, it was terrible for the average person. There was manure piled up high on sidewalks! There were no 40-hour work weeks but just unrelenting sweatshops. No osha. Constant disease and fly infestation. On and on, so forth.  This book explains why the “good old days” were only good for a preferred few and why they were unrelentingly harsh for most and very sobering.

LIFE ON THE SURFACE

Writer Jack London (1876-1916), a Capitalist (all his life….[read Wolf – The LivesOf Jack London, James L. Haley]), joined the Socialist Movement upon seeing and experiencing personally the harsh realities of man’s inhumanity to man…..

(London was born a working-class, fatherless Californian in 1876.  In his youth he was a boundlessly energetic adventurer on the bustling West Coast…playing the role of hobo, sailor, prospector, and oyster pirate)….

He wrote about the lower-class often: “In his research, Jack discovered that these people who lived in the slums did so not by choice and not through laziness, but because of old age, disease, or accidents that had reduced their labor value.” (The People Of The Abyss, Macmillan, 1903).Speaking of the ghetto, London said: “a new race has sprung up, a street people.  They pass their lives at walls and in the streets.  They have dens and stairs into which to crawl for sleeping purposes, and that is all.”

“This was the most striking thing, the general heartlessness exhibited on every hand,” said Wolf, “It is a commonplace. The homeless on the benches, the poor miserable folk who may be teased and are harmless. Fifty thousand people must have passed the bench while I sat upon it, and not one, on such a jubilee occasion as the crowning of the king, felt his heart-strings touched sufficiently to come up and say to the woman: ‘Here’s a sixpence; go and get a bed.’ But the woman, especially the young women, made witty remarks upon this woman nodding, and invariably set their companions laughing….to use a Briticism, it was ‘cruel’; the corresponding Americanism was more appropriate—it was ‘fierce’….” (www.readprint.com)      

of murderers, who live by thieving alone….”

Charles Dickens likewise was astounded at what he saw in 1842: “This is the place – Five Points  —-  these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left.  Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at doors have counterpart at home, and all the wide world over.  See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays.  Many of the pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu of going on all fours? And they talk instead of grunting?….All that is loathsome, drooping, and decayed is here.”

Martin Scorsese fashioned his film The Gangs Of New York on such a reality: “It was chaos, tribal chaos….claustrophobic, where everyone was crushed together…70,000  men and women…rampaged through the streets of New York, setting houses afire, battling police and lynching African-Americans. Federal troops had to be brought in to quell the disturbances….confronted one another in the streets of New York. Here competing groups vied for living space and economic survival in a cramped district near the tip of Manhatten….” Police records indicate that nearly every building did house a brothel.  Gangs so vicious that they posted signs warning police to stay out of their neighborhoods. Saloon halls, gambling dens, and winding alleys; destitution and shocking violence – a turbulent era – rogues gallery of prostitutes, pimps, poisoners, pickpockets, murderers and thieves. Carol D. Bos.,J.B said: “Tammany Hall….degenerated into a power-hungry greed machine, its members  looked to local gangs as ‘enforcers’….”

Names denoted the reality: Slobbery Jim, Sow Madden, Piggy Noles, Eat’em Up Jack, McManus Hell-Cat Maggie, Bowery Boys, Dead Rabbits, Plug Uglies, Short Tails, Slaughter House, Swamp Ants, Billy The Butcher. Says historian Tyler Anbinder: “In ‘Five Points’ tenements, families and other groups lived crammed into one or two dark rooms. The outhouses were too few and often overflowing. Sewage and pigs ran in the streets….the whole neighborhood just stank….some holding camphor-soaked kerchiefs to their noses to ward off the stench….middle-class tourists would go ‘slumming’ in Five Points __ escorted by the police….Some of the hard-to-believe stereotypes are true.”

A Methodist reformer, of that period, said: “Five Points, the synonym for ignorance the most entire, for misery the most abject, for crime of the darkest dye, for degradation so deep that human nature cannot sink below it.”

THE WILD WEST

What could be said of Five Points could be said of many an untamed town stranded out in the western frontier: Dodge City, Deadwood, Tombstone….but there was also Las Vegas, New Mexico. So said Howard Bryan in Wildest of The Wild West….

“Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws that did Las Vegas,” said historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell, “before long, outlaws, bunko artists, murderers and thieves were becoming so common that the eastern part of the settlement had become utterly lawless…”

There was Handsome Harry, the Dance Hall Rustler, the Dodge City Gang, J.J. Webb, Mysterious Dave Mather, Joe Canary, Dirty Dave Rudelbaugh, Hoodoo Brown, Doc Holliday, Mike Gordon, Big Nose Kattie, Jesse James, Billy The Kid, Bob Ford, Web-fingered Billy, Rattlesnake Sam, Cock-eyed Frank, Hook-nosed Jim, Wyatt Earp, StutteringTom, Durango Kid, and Vicente Silva and his gang called the White Caps and the Forty Bandits.

Said the vigilantes of the town:

“The flow of blood must and shall be stopped in this community, and the good citizens of both the old and new towns have determined to stop it, if they have to hang by the strong arm of force every violator of the law in this County.”

REALISTIC DEPICTIONS

Wednesday, August 17, 2011: This Day in Wall Street History: 1877:  Billy the Kid kills his first man:

Though only a teenager at the time, Billy the Kid wounds an Arizona blacksmith who dies the next day. He was the famous outlaw’s first victim.

Just how many men Billy the Kid killed is uncertain. Billy himself reportedly once claimed he had killed 21 men – “one for every year of my life.” A reliable contemporary authority estimated the actual total was more like nine-four on his own and five with the aid of others. Other western outlaws of the day were far more deadly. John Wesley Hardin, for example, killed well over 20 men and perhaps as many as 40.

Yet, William Bonney (at various times he also used the surnames Antrim and McCarty) is better remembered today than Hardin and other killers, perhaps because he appeared to be such an unlikely killer. Blue-eyed, smooth-cheeked, and unusually friendly, Billy seems to have been a decent young man who was dragged into a life of crime by circumstances beyond his control.

Such seems to have been the case for his first murder. Having fled from his home in New Mexico after being jailed for a theft he may not have committed, Billy became an itinerant ranch hand and sheepherder in Arizona. In 1877, he was hired on as a teamster at the Camp Grant Army Post, where he attracted the enmity of a burly civilian blacksmith named Frank “Windy” Cahill. Perhaps because Billy was well liked by others in the camp, Cahill enjoyed demeaning the scrawny youngster.

On this day in 1877, Cahill apparently went too far when he called Billy a “pimp.” Billy responded by calling Cahill a “son of a bitch”  and the big blacksmith jumped him and easily threw him to the ground. Pinned to the floor by the stronger man, Billy apparently panicked. He pulled his pistol and shot Cahill, who died the next day. According to one witness, “[Billy] had no choice; he had to use his equalizer.” However, the rough laws of the West might have found Billy guilty of unjustified murder because Cahill had not pulled his own gun.

Fearing imprisonment, Billy returned to New Mexico where he soon became involved in the bloody Lincoln County War. In the next four years, he became a practiced and cold-blooded killer, increasingly infatuated with his own public image as an unstoppable outlaw. Sheriff Pat Garrett finally ended Billy’s bloody career by killing him on July 14, 1881.

Recent movie depictions granted more human character and portrayal of the real west such as the early years of Billy The Kid portrayed by Michael J. Pollard in Stan Dragoti’s 1972 movie Dirty Little Billy on the early years ofWilliam Bonney (aka William McCarty). The movie also depicted early western towns as they probably really were: barebones and often ramshackle.

Coffeyville, Kansas, which was depicted in the movie, as told by Frank W. Blackman and William G. Cutler and http://www.legendofkansas.com: “…much disorder prevailed in the small settlement, so much so that the main thoroughfare took the name ‘Red Hot Street’, and crime and murder were a common occurrence….1872….New Town site….earned Coffeyville the status of yet another lawless Kansas Cow Town….the town was wild with excitement and society was a chaos.  The reckless cowboy knew no restraint, gamblers plied their avocation openly, and saloons were quick to ply their customers with liquor…the streets resounded with the rattle of beer glasses and the clickings of the Keno and billiard rooms; quarrels were frequent, and the reports of the pistol, announcing that some unfortunate man had fallen victim to the well- aimed instrument, were common…..dance halls with lewd women lined the streets…..

                   ……(The Mayor)  instructed the police officers

                   to invade and arrest the offenders….before

              the judge…..wassurprisedto find before him,

              the majority of the City Council…..”

OLD CRIME IN AN OLD CITY

But much of the 19th century crime was of course big city crime; as indeed it was in Chicago: the curious case of Dr. Herman mudgett, alias Henry H. Holmes (1896). After graduating from the University Of Michigan medical school, he embarked upon a life of swindling, torture and murder. The second floor of the lodge building he built at 63rd and Wallace was designed expressly for the purpose of murder, being equipped with gas chambers, of incinerators and other horrible devices, chutes and a variety of inventions to dispose the bodies he killed. He Had about thirty known victims and was suspected of murdering hundreds of others using poison and gas.

In Erik Larson’s book Devil In The White City  (VintagePress, 2004), the events are described as taking place at Holmes’ World’s Fair Hotel west of the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition. There they found a dissection table and a 3,000-degree crematorium. In the book, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age comes alive as never before, forging questions as to the relationship between opulence and grandeur of the Fair and the poverty and the degradation that surrounded it. Larson Said: “The juxtaposition of pride and unfathomable evil struck me as offering powerful insights into the nature of men and their ambitions.” (page 393)

“Chicago in the 1890s was a time of great strikes, fierce nationalism, social activism and protest, an unpopular foreign invasion and building – of street car lines, factories, meat packing plants, businesses, libraries, and civic and art institutions,” says www.florencekelley.northwestern.edu, “The city’s political and legal culture was characterized by energy, corruption and ambition.  During the Pullmen strike more than n 5,000 federal troops were encamped along the lake, and the legacies of Haymarket were palpable.  The Vice District, the Levee, was as famous as the city’s skyscrapers and elevators….”

“As for most people, his initial sensory contact with Chicago had been the fantastic stink that lingered always in the vicinity of the Union Stock Yards, a Chinook of putrefaction and incinerated hair,” said Larson about Holmes’ initial probable entrance to Chicago. Larson quotes Sinclair Lewis: “…an elemental odor, raw and crude; it was rich, almost rancid, sensual and strong.” Larson said: “Most people found it repulsive.  The few who found it invigorating tended to be men who had waded in its ‘river of death’, Sinclair’s phrase, and panned from its great fortunes.” 

“A nineteenth-century Chicagoan looking for a prostitute could easily find one in any of the city’s wide-open vice districts,” says www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org, “Like gambling houses until they were dispersed by raids in 1894, brothels and street walkers clustered in those areas partly because they were convenient for customers, but mainly because of selective law enforcement. Public officials and many private citizens viewed prostitution as a necessary evil that should be segregated into a few poor neighborhoods to protect the rest of Chicago.” Prostitution thrived along the southern edge of the “Loop”, Near West Side and Near North Side. The brothels paid bribes to police, politicians, and politically connected crime bosses.

Holmes’ World Fair Hotel was constructed in ragged stages and slowed in winter at the end of the “building season”.  I t has been said to be odd that Holmes erected his building during the same period in which the London Jack The Ripper  began his spree of killings in 1888; after November 9, 1888 they appeared to stop — or so it seemed. Holmes was intensely interested in the Ripper murders. Construction, coincidentally, was greatly finished on the hotel by May, 1890. 

“The Levee”, on the Southside, was one of the nation’s largest vice districts, controlled by imaginable late-century crime bosses and racketeers: There was alderman “Bathhouse John” Coughlin and Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna. “The residential slums began about a mile west and south of the loop.  The poor, many of them immigrants, lived in old wooden houses standing cheek by jowel with factories and bars or in once elegant apartments and mansions converted into rooming houses and mansions converted into rooming houses and then tenements,” says Alice Sinkevitch in AIA Guide To Chicago, “Some lots were filled front to back with ram shackled frame houses; others became refuse pits in front of houses that had not been elevated when the street grade was raised.  Many of the tiny units had no bathroom or kitchen. While other neighbors were adopting electricity and steam heat, the slums had yet to see gas lighting or coal stoves in every room.”

Then came the “vanishings” — perhaps unnoticed at first by the public at large — but like a creeping, macabre “fog” that seeped and intimidated the gutters and alleys of society, parents, a few detectives, some police began an increasing worrisome search. But since the mystery largely surrounded persons who had no “strings” – common people, ordinary children and women — and no great amounts of money were involved, the growing flood of disappearances seemed happenstance and haphazard. “Women and men vanished in equal proportion,” said Larson, “…the Tribune said, ‘as completely as though swallowed by the earth.’ The women were presumed to have been ravished, the men robbed, their corpses plunged into the turgid waters of the Chicago River or the alleys of Halsted and the Levee and that hard stretch of Clark between Polk and Taylor known to veteran officers as Cheyenne.”

Eventually a Mysterious Disappearances Department was set up and half the city’s detective force became involved. Like the Union Stock Yards, Chicago wasted nothing.     

The working conditions for the thousands employed at the Union Stock Yards were terrible. Laborers on the killing – floors had to work amidst the stench and piercing shrieks of animals being slaughtered while standing on blood-soaked floors. They worked long hours – usually ten to twelve a day – in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in the summertime.  Employees could beg wages low and withhold benefits due to the ready supply immigrant workers desperate to earn a living. The situation is adequately described in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. 

Carl Sandburg chose the word “brawling” to describe Chicago of this period.

And the children? “But why would any kid want to be an orphan?” asked Peggy Thomson Greenwood.

“In St. Louis, orphanages, children’s homes, receiving homes, foundling homes, and asylums continued to increase and were filled to capacity,” said Greenwood.

MY KINDA TOWN, ST. LOUIS IS….

Peggy Thomson Greenwood said in St. Louis Orphanages, “Beyond The Orphanages”, Part II, (  www.genealogyinstlouis.accessgenealogy.com/greenwood.htm): “But meander through the mean streets of the late 19th century.  The years 1870 to 1900 were years of chaos in America.  It was a century in the throes of an industrial revolution that would change America from a nation of small farms to a giant of technology in 50 short years. And the same forces that gave some Americans the highest standard of living in the world also created sweatshops and rabbit-hatch slums…..wealth and pauperism, side by side, were the result of industrialization, urbanization and immigration.”

Greenwood eludes to the opening act of the musical Annie, the 1977 stage version of the Sunday comicsserial,quoting the somewhat criminal matron of the orphanage, Mrs. Hadigan: “Why any kid would want to be an orphan is beyond me.”  Indeed, why would a child want to be an orphan in St. Louis or in any major metropolis in or near the turn of the century?  St. Louis did not escape the wounds of industrialization as it made its struggle from a commercial and mercantile center to a heavy-industrial producer and wholesaler marketing center. “As the impersonal gears of industrialization gained strength and momentum, the depersonalized laborer became a powerless cog in the wheel,” said Greenwood, “The sweat labor lubricated the vast new industrial machine twelve hours a day, seven days week a week, for eight cents an hour. Unorganized, abandoned by government, deprived of legal help, the American laborer was powerless when the industrial giant flexed its muscle, casting into living perdition the weak, the injured, the old, and the sick.”

People flowed into the cities from the prairies, the farms, the defunct mining towns, the war-ravaged South, and foreign countries, said Greenwood.  San Francisco had its Tenderloin District, New York had its Hell’s Kitchen. “St. Louis also had a nightmare in stone,” said Greenwood, “a district so filled with violent crime and human degradation that even police officers feared its cobblestones. Slum neighborhoods proliferated on the fringes of the new industrial centers. Slums were savage places. Although St, Louis had few tenements, 100% use of the lot space with buildings on the front, back, and down the middle of the lot created the same effect.”  The Carr Square had an area with as many as 1900 residents per acre. The average living space was 16.9 square feet per person with an average of one bathtub and four toilets for 2479 people. The Average rent was $1.00 a week. “Human waste and garbage accumulated in the few open spaces,” said Greenwood, “And in these ill-ventilated, foul-smelling shacks and cellars were found saloons, bakeries, grocetarias and laundries.”

A steady torrent of immigrants provided cheap, unskilled labor in St. Louis by 1880; largely German, many were Irish, Austria-Hungarian, Italian, Polish and Russian. “Bright-shawled, quaint-jacketed aliens….were visibly and volubly different…the new immigrants took their places in the industrialized machine in an aura of fear and suspicion….in ethnic neighborhoods where strangeness could be cushioned by clinging to old ways.” En.wikipedia.org also spoke of an earlier period: “Immigrants flooded into St. Louis in the 1840s, particularly from Ireland due to the potato famine, and German and Bohemians after the revolutions of 1848. The population grew from less than 29,000 in 1848 to 77,860  in 1850, to more than 160,000 by 1860….Omnibuses began to service St. Louis in 1843, and in 1859, St. Louis’ first streetcar tracks were laid.”              

WHY WOULD ANY KID WANT TO BE AN ORPHAN?

Greenwood outlines that some 1.75 million children across the U.S. helped feed the ”industrial monster”, barely seeing the light of day or the delight of play.  Wages were about 25 cents a day if at all: a small price to pay for a childhood.  Victims of the second industrial revolution, it was from this grey shadow-world that juvenile institutions were created to blunt unprotected child labor and the slavery of apprenticeship.

Most children of this period called utter poverty – death, disease, malnutrition, neglect, abuse, abandonment and delinquency — their “home”, as prevalent victims in a rabid urbanization. This infestation of neglect did not go unnoticed, giving rise to the growth of juvenile institutions. Trapped in this bizarre conflict of old and new worlds, children carried the deepest scars of social conflict and alienation: “Ravaged by poverty, neglected by necessity and buffeted by violence,” said Greenwood, “the children were the catalyst that spurred the rescue effort represented by the mushrooming juvenile institutions in the City and County St. Louis.”  Innocent victims of a colossal industrial revolution, over-rapid urbanization and flood-immigration, they were the New Orphans of the 19th century in America’s Children Homes.

It is speculated that the classical writer Charles Dickens’ somber and somewhat forlorn tales of London’s dark side of the poor and destitute, ranging in his novels such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver, and Hard Times. was inspired from his January 22, 1842visit to St. Louis, and his learning of the child-labor and sweat shops, “Some of these ancient habitations, with high garret gable windows perking into the roofs, have a kind of French shrug about them; and, being lop-sided with age, appear to hold their heads askew besides, as if they were grimacing in astonishment at the American improvements”, Dickens said.  Two of St. Louis’s slums were the Cross Keys and Clabber Alley.      

These are just conditions of the 19th century as existed in America and England; to get into similar or worse conditions in other countries (the disease, crime, poverty) are beyond the limits of my time. Nor have we really gotten into the mountain of facts about the matters of disease, plague, poverty, and destruction in 19TH century America: Such as the Civil War (61,800 dead with direct costs of 3.3 billion dollars to the confederacy).

Others: World War 1 (20 million injured and dead with direct and indirect costs of 337 billion dollars); World War 2 (over 60 million injured and dead and total costs of 2,091.3 billion dollars); the influenza pandemic of 1918 (20 to 40 million dead): “The most devastating epidemic in recorded history”. So on. 

UFOS: TO BE OR NOT TO BE?

The argument as to whether UFOs exist as “space ships” from outside the earth or from Fourth Reich Nazi strongholds — or exist as myths or delusion or outright “lies,” is somewhat immaterial to me.  I tend to approach this subject as I do other subjects; as a writer   who tries to write a fairly interesting story. That can mean I can write or might write from a certain “point of view” and that can depend on multiple factors.  I recall attending a speech or rally at a north St. Louis church in which Dick Gregory and fellow members spoke of the black man’s plight in society. I wrote a short piece from the speaker’s point – of – view as best I could. Does that mean I agree 100% with everything they said? Not necessarily. And that is the way I usually write; I keep a little part of me to myself and my own private feelings — that doesn’t always come out in my format. And, then again, it does at times; depending on what I write about, how I feel, and to whom I am targeting. Private “feelings” are still allowable in America: even yours, Moriarty Wild. Many writers love to “brain storm” or even listen to gossip:  such is life.

 And what ”if” you had been born black in the 19th century?

PART III

WE WANT YOU, MR. X

Since you have directly involved me by referring to my private UFO sighting as a “Mr. X,” it behooves me to make a reply; although I don’t intend to get into a real lengthy debate. UFO debates are and can be a bottomless pit!

The sighting, which may have happened in either the summer of 1959 or 1960 – depending on which date and which showing of the Steve Reeves movie at the Fox Theatre in up-town St. Louis (Hercules – 1959 – Hercules Unchained – 1960 [I believe]) was happening. And the object which I saw was significantly different and bizarre as to its nature as to classify it as a UFO. You refer to the “moon”, “flares”, “floating hoax balloons”. Without getting into a lot of “action-packed” descriptions (which you probably expect of me), allow me to quickly go through your references:

I have noted, this last August, (2010)  in fact, that when the moon arises from the horizon, the altitude in the sky starts from zero at the horizon  at a certain time at night and can almost reach “high noon” (so-to-speak) azimuth and altitude. Now, the time at which I had my “sighting” (delusion, misconception, lie) was somewhere about 1200 a.m. or later – – – after midnight. The moon would be at a certain summertime azimuth and altitude at that time. Comparing the position at which the moon would be in the sky about 12:30 a.m. (give or take some minutes), and comparing how it really was being seen between the branches of a tree (at first) and where that would place it in the sky: It would have to have been in an approximate 9:00 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. position – – – approximately, an estimated, 30-degrees or so in its arc across the sky, as opposed to its almost 80 to 90-degree position it would have been after midnight. No, there could be no doubt it was near or after midnight — but since you feel we are all deluded liars — anything is possible.

THAT OLD DEVIL MOON

(“……it’s that old devil moon, that you stole from the skies…..”, Old Devil Moon, Frank Sinatra)

The length of the gangway is fairly short, just the length of the house; and the tree was at the very end of the gangway, it would be assumed that the object had to be not above the tree at a “high noon” position, but about 30 to 50-degrees above the horizon azimuth and altitude along the transit of the meridian, allowing it to be seen through the tree limbs and branches from a gangway position. When viewed in the “clear” portion of the sky —- which appeared to be on the other side of the tree —– it was as if I were viewing it directly north and somewhat ‘above.’ Since that was a “clear patch” of sky directly over my neighbors’ yards and my own, there were no good reference points to measure its size or distance. Even when it disappeared, it did so still in those clear patches of sky, arcing upward – to about the middle of my yard — and then moving away and up until it faded beyond my range of vision at about an 80-degree angle. These are all estimates.

Fifty-years ago are a long period to bring back crystal-clear memories, but I still believe I have one of two striking impressions. At the moment I first saw the object through the branches of the tree there may have been a slight “bounce” to it as if a ping-pong ball was gently placed on fluid water, but since I was not completely focused on it yet, I cannot be sure.

INSTITUTIONALIZED FLARES

You refer to this UFO as a “flare” in a “heavily industrialized” area. Well, first of all, it just didn’t act like a flare — even fancy fireworks: and, boy, I’ve seen my share of fireworks. But, yes, it is possible that somebody worked up a sophisticated “fireworks” that were designed to portray a mysterious event: I suppose that is possible. I mean, I just didn’t have my million-dollar instrumentation with me at the moment to catch this thing on film and graph! And whom might “they” be that did this time-consuming prank? You once mentioned a hologram: I’ve seen holograms and they look pretty real: I just don’t know how that would work in this instance, if the technology was possible in 1959-1960 to be contemporary with  what  I  saw.  And how would they hide the equipment?  I sat stunned on my back porch for a long time and did not hear a sound, not even dogs barking, if I recall correctly. But the incompetent boobs that we are, anything………

A heavily-industrialized-area? Yes, there are businesses in the area (there are businesses all over  St. Louis and Carondelet: there was a lumber-yard one block away near Tesson street: but that is south of my northward sighting!), but the major ones are southeast of my sighting: the grain silos on the river directly in line with the east view on Primm Street is about a mile or so away; the Titanium Smelting Facility, and the ship fabrication yards which are directly across the railroad tracks from the Titanium facility. That’s about as industrialized as you’ll get in that neighborhood. Those are all at the foot of Davis Street which is southeast of the slightly mid-north view I was having. The object did head over to that area, but went suddenly straight up into a clear patch of sky until it went out of my range-of-vision — ascending upward at a great rate of speed.

There are  barges  moving up and down the river, but in the many years of living in Carondelet, I’ve never seen flares being shot off barges in that fashion (unless it was the 4th of July Famous and Barr display: which is quite a distance away and very different). The cardboard factory is west of my sighting, across Michigan Avenue. You don’t think those guys were playing with matches that night, do you? In the slightly northwest area at which I saw this UFO, it was a clear patch of sky. There are some Illinois and Missouri  facilities that are across and near the Mississippi river, such as the factories in Saguet….but that is up-river across from mid-town St. Louis (there was the Monstanto plant [which produced polychlorinated bipheryls into the Dead Creek: you don’t think it came ‘aflaming’ over to Primm Avenue, do ya?]; and there was the W.G. Krummich Plant, the Clayton Chemical property). You don’t think the guys over at those factories were sending flares over to Primm and Michigan and Minnesota Avenues, do ya?  (Actually, this UFO would be slightly hanging to the northwest side of that open piece of sky over Primm Avenue; maybe more mid-Primm Avenue rather than Minnesota Avenue.) Railroad employees sending off a flare?  But why would the flare be an “in-coming” object from the north over mid – Primm and near-by Michigan and Minnesota Avenues and the railroad tracks are south of Primm by one block at Tesson? Which business or person do you want to ‘pin’ or blame this hoax on? There are thousands of possibilities, I guess, especially with us lying boobs looking on………..

WISH UPON A STAR

(“When you wish upon a star.….makes no difference who you are.….anything your heart desires.….will come to you…”, Leigh Harline, Ned Washington,1940, Cliff Edwards, as Jiminy Cricket, Pinoccio.)

When I first saw this object (or, what seemed to me to be an object) it appeared seemingly motionless beyond the tree at the foot of my gangway to the house. No real motion was noticed until I turned back to take a hard look at it.  At that point, as I approached my back steps and I stood to take a deliberately- strong look, it appeared to “quicken” into action – – – it now reminds me of the video technique used in some movies were they are showing a “still” frame of a photo (or scene) and then “suddenly” spring it “into action” as supposed real people walking or moving. In that split moment I saw it “hanging” in that clear patch of sky, I was electrified. I had a feeling of tremendum mysterium !  It was as if in a moment of time I had come face to face with some unexpected miraculum – keuthonymos!  Of course, that is quite personal and quite subjectively psychological, but, hay, you were not there!

“Plastic balloons with candles in them?” The summer of 1960 some pranksters were sitting up these balloons and were caught. If my UFO were in fact these balloons: boys, you are master pranksters! I would say “no”, but how can an incompetent boob be sure?  And that poses some other questions: Why 1960? Might it have been 1959? No mention of prank balloons then. But debunkers are so stringent in their rear-view mirror hindsight coaching, they have no leeway for “error”: They cannot be wrong: they “must” be absolutely correct! They have no excuses! They demand absolute perfection of their subjects and themselves (sadly that perfectionism is not possible, nor is it or was it shown in the life of Moriarty Wild).

(And the debunker  ‘The Amazing Randi’  confessed to being a homosexual?!  And the correct name for Peter Kor is ‘TomComella’. [true-skeptics, on the other-hand, do have excuses!]).

And, why “July” for my sighting; why not August, June, or September?

(The question has been asked me: Why have I been so sloppy in my investigation? You are talking about a 15-year-old boy from a lower middle-class family: One family which was hell-bent on destroying itself amidst my personal teenage angst and tragedy (of which you only have been told a small portion). I was more interested in “surviving” (we are dealing with real, physical danger; not a very protected and loving environment from which you operated); and I had several “personal- mechanisms” to do that. There was no UFO Study Group of Greater St. Louis then. I was much more l interested in girls and roaming the Carondelet neighborhoods with Ronnie Smith or John Moeller or the South Broadway “gang.” I believe at some point I became interested in Space Exploration and, later, model rocketry; but that may have been after age 15. From where should I have gotten this sudden “sophistication”?)

THE SOPHISTICATED INVESTIGATGOR

Why didn’t I go to the newspapers the next day – – – or, in fact, go down to the papers that night? Or call the police?! Or go banging on the neighbors’ doors?!  I mean, if I was sincere and not one of the lying boobs? You obviously are not aware, or had missed out, in part, of what are some of the daily activities, and the living, perilous times of a 1960s teenager! You ask: Why did I not mention it to someone immediately! Well, I did: my mother, the very next day. But the problem child that I was, I don’t think my mention carried a lot of weight. I did write it up in my diary — some loose pages tucked away in my desk. But my mother discovered them in one of her snooping ventures and destroyed the pages because it carried descriptions of family fights and horrors. In fact, sometime around 1967 (possibly), once my ‘space’ interest kicked off into a ‘UFO’ interest, I wrote a short piece for a UFO magazine which is now in the garage storage; so unsophisticated, ill-timed, ill-planned, and not according to script.

PART IV

STRUGGLE; NOT SOPHISTICATION

“Life” is not according to script. Not all teenagers in the 1960s were interested or capable of protesting the educational system, or taking trips to England to visit Summer Hill College as you were doing. However, I do believe there is a “NEXUS” here, because – – – – like so many children in the 1960s — – – – you and I (like others) were into the “protest” movement. It was the age of the JFK assassination, the Vietnam War, controlling, and oft-times “destructive” parents (at least, in my case; of course, my family had good times, how else could I have survived?). I know you were involved in personal, private struggles of your own (and still are), and though not identical to mine, we both seemed to carry burdens that were in some way very similar, though not strictly replicate. It led to varying degrees of “fear-flight syndrome” and schizoid behavior. Somewhat of an elongated “post-traumatic stress syndrome” (events compiled over and over in a life-time, in what could be said to be, in retrospect, ramified [divorce, controlling power or government structures, menacing and frequently unquestioned and often corrupt “professionals”, such as power-hungry, greedy lawyers, etc.]), unrelenting and leading into chronic conditions. I am reminded of the battle-in-life the Nick Nolte character, Wade Whitehouse, had in Paul Schrader’s 1997 film (based on the Russell Bank’s book) Affliction. [I understand: you’ve said you don’t believe there is such a thing as mental-illness.]. Persons with a lot of support groups and psychological and physical backing “snap out of it”; wealthy families or families or friends with great resources of love and various kinds of support (what I understand from your reports and photos, you had, relatively speaking, fairly loving and stable parents). Even wealthy-motion-picture-Stars can “come back.” I believe ‘our’ UFO movement came out of this syndrome and era: at least, the UFO movement as we know it: UFO researchers against evil governmental authority: that was attractive to many people. That may have been where we came in; as well as your interest in astronomy and mine in space exploration.)

What did I see? I don’t know!  I have some favorite theories; but I would not give them to you to “feed” off.  I will say, UFOs were not consciously on my mind at the moment, other than we had just seen a movie about an hour or more earlier on Greek legend. And, of course, 15-years-of-age is a typical age of teenage angst when poltergeist activity has been reported. And as far as UFO sightings go: Mine just isn’t that interesting —- not in a news headlines sense —- I’ve read far more interesting UFO cases.  But mine was personal!

(John Wheeler, professor emeritus, Princeton University, has said: “May the universe in some strange sense be ‘brought into being’ by the participation of those who participate?” [G. Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters {pg. 54}]. John Allero, M. Ed., MAPP, might add more insight, this way: “When we are not intentional in our thinking, life brings us things from our dark subconscious, whether we consciously want it or not. Jonathan Hardt would say that the elephant overtakes the rider, life brings its own stretch goals……).   

That I did not “parade” my UFO sighting at the time and since contradicts the theory that all UFO witnesses run amuck to get publicity; It would seem that you can’t have it both ways – – – – – unless you are fair-minded and objectively explorative.  

UFOS GALORE

(“Bond: ‘Who are you?’ Pussy: ‘My name is Pussy Galore’  Bond: (looks away and smiles) “I must be dreaming…..’”, aboard Auric Goldfinger’s jet, GOLDFINGER, 1964.)   

In your critique of the UFO situation, you mention and debunk past UFO Greats and their erroneous UFO sightings: Walt Andrus, Leo Wicklinski, and others.  I wish you could have confronted them while they  were living: these people are all dead and have no way to confront you or defend themselves.

I hope you didn’t think I was sending you UFO and other materials to “pick a fight.”  It just was my way of sharing and trying to inspire. As far as the UFO Mystery itself: I am just a simple observer that is just as ‘completely’ lost as anyone else. It makes no difference to me whether they are spaceships from mars, another dimension, multi-universes, government projects, etc. In fact, I suspect the Mystery is “multifarious.” There is no “one” explanation; and one aspect is as interesting as another – – – – especially to a journalist. Some people have turned it into a religious battle: the Spaceship Doctrine versus the Pure Bunk Debunkers. I’m afraid it is far too complex to show this kind of if arrogance. And if Bigelow and Vallee want to use their time and money to investigate- – – – it’s their time and money and no government, yet, can stop them! If sociologists like Leon Festinger want to study them as myth, that is real science – – – – they should go for it! Michel Monnerie (What If UFOs Don’t Exist?), Bertrand Meheust (Science-fiction And Flying Saucers) and Carl Gustav Jung all spoke of UFOs as psychological-psychosocial phenomena using pre-existing motifs and memetic selection (though Jung saw more “meat” to UFOs, as an intelligent phenomenon, having synchronisms other than rumor). A description of The Society for Scientific Exploration describes their Ufological interest as varying from fringe proponent  David  Icke to respected mainstream scientists like  Peter A. Sturrock, Jacques Vallee, James E. McDonald, J. Allen Hynek or  Auguste  Meesen, some of whom argue that UFO reports are as worthy of study as any topic, and deserve case by case analysis using the scientific method: and not all ufologist–scientists believe that UFOs are necessarily extraterrestrial spacecraft, or even that they are objective physical phenomena. Even those UFO cases that are exposed as hoaxes or found to be delusions or misidentification may still be worthy of serious study from a psychosocial point of view.

(It may be out of this “soup” that some of our 20th century “marvels” and scientific inventions have appeared; certainly our Space-Program. Recently it was announced that our Army had obtained a 4 million dollar ___ Carnegie-Mellon-“electroencephalography”-program ___ at the United States University of California-Irving to invent “thought helmets” for jet pilots to communicate by brain-wave [sounds a lot like Richard Shaver-type material such as the Telog, Ray Machines, Elder-Mech, Stim-Rays, and {guess what?} “thought-machines”]).

Similarly, Winston Wu, Graduate from California State University, had this to say on Carl Sagan’s approach: “Carl Sagan, though an amazing thinker, was wrong here.  Extraordinary claims merely require evidence. Good evidence has to exist before we can draw conclusions, to be sure, but certainly not extraordinary evidence….legitimate science is conducted by examining all evidence, not by myopic rushes to judgment.”

Diana Palmer Hoyt described it this way: “The UFO seems to bear a closer resemblance to problems in meteorology than in physics. The phenomena are observed occur episodically, are not reproducible, and in large part, are identified by statistical gathering of data for possible organization into patterns. They are not experiments that can be replicated at will at the laboratory bench under controlled conditions.”  

What is wrong with a multifaceted study? Life is multifaceted: why pull that string on the bottom of life’s page and try to force all those dots into a straight line? We won’t see that “STRAIGHT LINE” for millions of years, if ever. It is not the “scientific method” or the scientific community that should be faulted (right or wrong, they’ll do what they have to do), but individual maniacs with a deprived sense of value that parade as “pure scientists.” You’re not going to claim, as some do, that Hitler was always on a quest for “pure science” – – – his “pure race” ideas: The Reich’s talk about “pure-science,” “pure-books”? Hitler was ill! History says he was suffering from Huntington’s disease and there apparently was a linage of mental illness.

(Hitler’s Reich has its origins in Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebanfels’ “theozoology”; Madame Blavatsky’s “The Order of The New Templars”. Many of his SS and military were steeped in esoteric, occult practices, such as the Thule Society, called the Black Order, and The Vril Society: spoke of the “vril force.” Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering considered Hitler as the ‘King of Fear.’ The Edelweiss Society spoke of the Nordic Master Race, the Aryans, The Thule Society, and Rudolf Glaver, Dietrich Eckardt. Jorg  Lanz  von Liebenfels  spoke of “castration” of subordinates and victims).   

Some other miscellaneous comments: yes, animal mutilations exist, cats, dogs, rabbits, cattle – – – – no way around it ——  cow hearts cut out and put in a bucket, mutilated cows left with scalpels, on and on.  What you would like to see, and perhaps are doing, is trying to frame the mystery as “Mutilations As An‘unknown’” versus The Grand Debunker Gang (in regards to and as much as they are against ‘space ships’, ‘ghosts’, etc. [There’s that “Black on White again”]): and that, I, or other people, won’t do: That is giving into your jaded psychological Doctrines (just like John Schroeder has his perverted Doctrines on the other end of the scale).

Yes, there are and were real stealth craft made by terrestrial governments: And on some craft, there are even patents in the government patent offices.

You comment that in the James Fox production on UFOs called Out Of The Blue, that the name of Major Hector Quintanilla was ‘misspelled.’  If we are going to hold the UFO community guilty of such High Crimes then we will have to do the same to Moriarty Wild and one of his Debunking Mentors: Phillip Klass: In The Skeptics UFO Newsletter, September1,1998, Klass “misspells” presumably as “…..presum –ably (sic)”. 

PART V

WATCH OUT, I SEE A STEVE CONTRADICTION

However, I can greatly sympathize with Moriarty Wild’s position on some matters, or I would be contradicting myself. The paranormal or Fortean field of study is rift with deceptions, absurdities, unfounded religious belief (the believers) and fraud. No doubt about it. And I agree with Wild that after so much exposure, one can only become loathsome of the topic and its pranksters. When this becomes obvious to me: I get quite upset. It is a department of study of its own dimensions. If a UFO organization presents itself  –  more or less  –  as a fact-finding, scientific organization but continually is side-tracked into obvious sessions of story-telling and even science-fiction and invention: they obviously are not fulfilling their charter to the public ———- only to the their perverted or questionable egos. They can be basically nice, sometimes eccentric, people or they can be stinkers in disguise.  But aren’t we all that way?

Several incidents arose in my meetings with the Study Group that, as Moriarty Wild would agree, would cast doubt on their sincerity. UFO Study Group member Lee Pope (not his real name), on a visit to his home, introduced me to a neighbor who, at one point, almost as if prompted, began to speak about his personal UFO sighting of a “boomerang” UFO. I noticed that both had smirks and grins on their faces at the telling. There had been several incidents that seemed suspiciously insincere. One “field investigation” ( on Taylor Avenue) by Lee Pope to a family whom reported several Fortean incidents in mass (a one-day incident), including a Bigfoot sighting, here in St. Louis County, almost seemed “staged” and even rehearsed. And, yes, I recall the barely subdued grins once again! The UFO field certainly seems dull or even bleak without fresh, dramatic UFO and Fortean cases coming in every day, and the stench of overlaid lies and fabrication amidst large clumps of “play acting”, makes the subject very difficult and risky (Voodoo Histories, David Aronovitch – 2009: recommended with reservations). Most people have turned their backs on the topic because of this. There are the “Repeater” Phenomena, where persons continually have Fortean events, causing great suspicion. John Schroeder may be one of those as his life is a long string of weird paranormal events, nonstop, almost always lacking in hard evidence. Most of them are not very believable (not that I can’t sympathize with that plight having been a ‘victim’ of a UFO sighting myself). 

One example: several years ago the Rev. Schroeder had a Parapsychological Subcommittee of the Ufosgogs that would meet at his home; at that time on Miami Avenue. At this particular time, Schroeder was conducting sessions of the supposed hypnotic regression of a member in an alleged “ET” contact. I invited Tim Zell, a professional psychologist and a trained hypnotist to witness the affair. It was not very long into the session before Tim Zell exposed the fallacious hoax that it was – – – – – Schroeder and ‘company’ were at a loss for words that their ploy fell through. The ‘minutes’ of the meeting weakly mentions having better “controls” of any experiments in the future. Good suggestion: but I have never seen it practiced or hoax prevented in the Ufosgogs. Recently, Reverend Schroeder had visions that the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek was a “Reptilian” monster in disguise (I wonder how professional paleontologists would handle the factson the reality of Reptilians bodies never being found in the last 100,000 years?); Schroeder often says he gets his information from god! The “scientific controls” need to be greased and shined-up and brought back out of storage!

That UFO Cults are heavily weighted in various forms of psychobabble and esoteric mannerisms is true, as Leon Festinger and co-workers will testify (When Prophecy Fails, University of Minnesota Press) in their 1956 expose’ of a UFO cult. These “groups” are rift with what I suspect would be ample medical histories in various psychiatric files: Histrionic or Schizotypal personality disorder, Paranoid-narcissistic personalities, superiority personality syndromes, antisocial personalities, fantasy-prone minds, confabulation, fantastical-myth-mania, capgras delusion, fregoli delusion, delusional disorder (yes, yes, I’m in there somewhere), so on and so on: but most are just average street people with varying degrees of neurosis and stress (count me in that bunch!). There is a list of psychiatric syndromes that could very well come into play in the topic of Fortean events; and never make mention outside of the doctor’s office. There was a study dated 2001 called Fantasy Proneness And Other Psychological Correlates Of UFO Experiences byGow, Laurie, Popper, Powell and Basterfield (almost sounds like the name of a law firm that I know: Buoy, Wee, Cheetham and Howe, LLP), Which suggests that those individuals with a high threshold for fantasy (like fiction writers and science-fiction writers) are more apt to have UFO experiences (and that does not necessarily denote fabrication!): opens a whole dimension for study  (not myopic censorship, debunking  or avoidance).

That paranormal participants and critics will admit to these findings: are  doubtful. And, yes, even debunkers have psychological defects and questionable motivations:Phyllis Glade noted in her “I See By The Papers” column in Fate Magazine  that a chemical was medically discovered in the bodies of ‘debunkers’ that might be a clue as to their cynicism; recently, moreover, studies on epigenetics [the study of how people’s experiences and environment affect the function of their genes] seem to indicate that chemical markers set-up a biological competition between maternal and paternal genes leading to impacted behavior at the epigenetic level. Other laboratory studies indicated a variant of serotonin receptor 2A gene – 5HT1A and 5HT2a – in male carriers of T/T genotype of 5HTR2A (UCL School of Life and Medical Science, 2007).  Genotype – phenotype correlations of personality traits reveal that genes determine ‘belligerence’ (bel), ‘cynicism’ (dub), ‘lack of personality’ (dul-1), plus others such As ‘obsessive-compulsive behavior’  (pic-e) (www.mja.com.au).

 As one person, having schizoid personality disorder, confessed: “I went from being a recluse who didn’t give a fuck about others to a genial, appreciated successful guy who still doesn’t give a fuck about others, but pretends he does – and people fall for it…I basically have two personalities inside me…a selfish, narcissistic prick who doesn’t give a shit about others…then…my Coping Personality…to function on the outside world….was able to infiltrate the texture of society….”  www.reddit.com/schizoid.

Hilary Freeman wrote in Psycho Bosses on The Loose (The Guardian, March 10,2001,www.guardian.co.uk):“Not all psychopaths areviolent criminals and fewer still have a desire to eat you for dinner.  Many are highly successful businessmen and women, lawyers, academics, politicians, doctors and teachers.  Psychopaths wear suits too; in fact, there could be one in your office.” Robert Hare, professor of psychology at the University of Vancouver, says: “These individuals are every bit as egocentric, callous and manipulative as the average criminal psychopath.” John Clarke, psychologist at the University of Sydney, refers to “serial bullying” rather than “serial killing.” (One could also add “serial hoaxing,” “serial hating,” “serial lying,” and so forth. Sadly, neither  is Moriarty Wild “beyond” this panoply of psychiatric accusations, though he has hidden himself in a shroud of arm-chair book-reading on various topics used to attack others, safely keeping the finger of suspicion pointed away from himself.

MISCELLANEOUS VENTURES

And the ‘media’ misrepresentation can go hand-in-hand with the above as well as I witnessed in Elsberry, Missouri in the 70s as the ‘hysteria’ by UFO enthusiasts and some public concerning cattle mutilations and UFOs.   

(Might as well include my TIA [“mini-stroke”] episode from back in 1973-1974 at this point, wherein I described a daytime sleep [though I was not asleep] paralysis and “tunnel” travel [in a room with bustling kids, a house-cleaning wife, and streaming sunlight through uncovered windows]: that was a weird medical state! I  described that episode in detail to Doctor Eric J. Lenze, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Washington School of Medicine, St. Louis, and he definitely said it was ”not” a TIA [maybe some other kind of crazies; but not a TIA]; Just another “speed bump” on the road before “armchair paranormal debunking”!)

The RRR Group in www.ufocon.blogspot.com said: “Displaying everything UFO-related won’t ever get to the heart of the UFO mystery. The panoply of flying saucer detritus merely showcases how discombobulated the UFO community is, with an obvious lacuna in serious research.”

Of course, the other extreme, of which Moriarty Wild adheres to, yet fails to accept or even examine, is also likely true: Trying to “‘sanctify” human enquiry according to some private cultist-distorted “perfectionism” and “uncontaminated” (in this case as a Moriarty personal, private prejudiced ideological…) version, is just as distorted, whereby he, in effect, forces the  elusive “scientific method’ (or, regressing its application) back to the17th 0r 18th centuries.

MY FRIENDS, AND YOU  ‘ARE ‘  MY FRIENDS….

Moriarty Wild has said in a past bibliography that he had considered past members and some late members of the Ufosgogs  as his friends (written in 2008), and that I  suppose that is true enough(and it is true enough for me as well for I recall some affection and affinity with them) – – – – but, apparently, they were not friendly enough to prevent him from questioning their integrity as far and in regards to their respective UFO sightings or Fortean beliefs: these he has later questioned and even attacked repeatedly; Strange friendships. His friendship with Lee Pope (not his real name; Pope was a Study Group member who was vital in the groups incorporation) may have been built on more than a UFO connection: and these all seem very conflicting and contradictory: Pope was a strict right-wing Roman Catholic (Wild does not believe in any religion at all or, apparently, as  even having a belief in God [in the 60s he was labeling himself as an atheist]); likewise Pope had a personal UFO sighting, along with his son Larry (not his real name), the whole family – including son Larry — were alleged to have been involved in several Fortean, even Satanic, events (Moriarty disowns any belief in any Forteanisms; at least his dark diatribes of anything related to the topic gives that impression: he even told me at one time he was an Atheist). The only possible true kinship Wild had with Pope then or since may have been with pope’s vehement and virago “anti-Semitism” (Pope may have been making allusions to Super-rich Jewish descendants and families only and not average Jews, I am not sure; some of the literature he was reading and had shown me struck me as somewhat Hitlerian: he demonstrated a strong kinship with Hitler’s hatred of Jews and the cold strength and power that he brought to Germany as he took control). One time, I recall Pope marching into the Study Group engaging Leo Wicklinski in a conversation in which Pope announced that the “Jews” were behind the Flying Saucers! I spoke to Pope several times at which he announced the same topic and other things about the Jewish “takeover” and the theory that the Jewish Holocaust did not happen (but I keep reading something about, like, 9 million Jews were murdered). Now, these are beliefs that Wild maynot” have been so tightly against!

Wild summarized that Lee Pope, as far as he can remember, actually shied away from the ET hypothesis as a weak theory: in actuality, in many conversations I had with Lee Pope, “ran the gamut” of all kinds of theories and possibilities, including Jewish-Zionist-Cabal-inventions, and secret government inventions, as well as other realm dimensions, and all kinds of possibilities. He had a theory for everything, including his own son having been demon-possessed.

What could have been behind Wild’s quizzical pattern that allowed his incongruousness in associating with an avidly traditionalist Roman Catholic who believed in the customary miracles, God, doctrines of which Wild vehemently rebuked on the one hand. What Wild also failed to utilize or even recognize was that Steve Erdmann had multiple visits and episodes with Lee Pope over the years, going into as much as interviewing Pope, visiting and having many general associations with him as did Wild, maybe even more so; so much so that the Lee Pope story does not end just yet on the above mentioned few curiosities mentioned Wild describes as a staunch and upright example of the century’s emblem of the best “good citizen” does not quite hold-up. This “pretense” is ‘not’ entirely true, and is not identical to the Lee Pope I knew.

But the ‘Lee Pope’ several paragraphs earlier, but are highlighted even further by additional oddities. Wild, as a purported strict atheist, seemed All of this makes for incongruous and strange ‘bed fellows’ for Wild (who emphatically denounces the ultimate reality of anything at all of the spiritual, supernatural or religious nature) and those he esteems as associates, for Wild is constantly on a mission, every moment of the day, enduring, unrelenting, to discover those enemies that are ‘improper,’  “nonfactual,” “imperfect,” and have been “contaminated” by the Fabien conspiracy (and other societal contamination