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Among Men, the Prophet, Among Women, the Queen, Among Tales, this One Thou art Now Reading

When Increase went to the town for market day he saw Delilah and was smitten. When he returned home he could not eat for thinking of her and his father got his secret, and Increase said “Father, how do I tell a girl of my love?” And his father paid two zuzim to the Speaker who lived a morning’s journey away in a cave and the Speaker whose name was Born-from-Water taught Increase how to express love. “Say” said Born-from-Water “Among birds she is the hoopoe. Among celestial bodies, the sun. Among days, the first day of spring. And say your heart is hers and you languish for lack of it until you receive a response.”

Delilah awoke early to feed the flamingoes and gather the eggs from the other water fowl and she saw Increase standing there and he said to her “Among birds thou art the hoopoe. Among celestial bodies, the sun. Among days, the first day of spring, yea, my heart is in your hands and it languishes until I hear your response.” And she blushed and ran to her mother. “Do you love this boy?” asked Delilahs’ mother. “Mother, I do.” And her mother took her to the Speaker whose name is Born-from-Water and he told her how to respond. And she was waiting by the flamingo lake the next day and when she saw Increase she said “Among trees thou art the banyan, among animals the tiger, among moments of the day the opening of the eye to see the first shafts of morn.”

But the man who owned Delilah’s village who was named Bison-Tamer was wroth for he wanted this maid for himself as his fourth wife, and he made fast to Born-from-Water and asked him what to say to Increase, and he appeared at his hut and bellowed “Among foodstuffs thou art excrement! Come forth and meet thy fate, which among fates of ice, is the fate of ice in the rays of the sun, amongst fates of mice is the the claws of the cat. Verily the claws of the cat as he does hunger.”

And Increase grabbed the assegai that had belonged to his grandfather and smote Bison Tamer in his chest and slew him. And the people of the village gathered round as did Delilah and she spoke unto him “Say again those words that you spoke that wooed me. What am I?”

But whether from confusion of battle, or heat of sun, or the touch of Prophecy Increase had forgotten the words of Born-from-Water. And he said to her word that were strange and unknown to them “Among spaces thou art the Klein Bottle, amongst celestial phenomena the White Hole, amongst dreams the dream of awaking.” And her eyebrows turned inwards and she was puzzled.

From deep within the Earth rose the Djinnis daughter where she had been sleeping for a thousand aeons and one aeon for she was all these things and was waiting for the speech that would name her and praise what there was in her to love. She rose a league and then another league and in the third league she burst through Earth and grabbed Increase, and then was she in the troposphere with him together in love, and then they were gone.

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Demon Lover

Emily’s mother Jan eventually snapped and told her (Emily) that she blamed her for father leaving them, because she wasn’t cute enough. She (Emily) screamed until her face turned red, and Jan said “If you keep being like that, no man will ever love you.” When Jan’s friend Olivia heard what Jan had said to her daughter Emily she told her you mustn’t say that because it will traumatize a girl to hear that. But what if it’s true, Jan said, doesn’t she need to learn, to diet and smile — what good is it keeping her from the truth. Olivia was right that Emily was traumatized, and Jan was right — no man ever loved her.

When the demons came she took a demon lover named Abazel. Flames and mountains and the curling of his horns! Tripping naked hoof in hand over the lake of fire which once was New York City. The darkest kiss you could imagine, the fieriest. Darker and fierier.

She never got into politics, but I think she is something important now in New Hell. A Duchess? It’s hard to keep those ranks straight, they’re always changing, inventing new ones, demoting some Lord that we all think is the most important one in the Diabolic Court, and then after all that trouble it doesn’t matter.

Maybe Emily could clear things up! I ought to give her a call.

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People Who Treated Me Unethically

My friend Remy feels his life has gone poorly because people have “treated him unethically”; I used to study ethics and I have a fleeting interest in people who think there is a reason their lives have gone poorly — perhaps I can pick up a lesson, I think, for a while, until I don’t. “Who? How?” I asked Remy one night.

It was a long list but I can boil it down. Remy’s mother was a depressive (she had good reasons!) and he became a philanderer in pursuit of sad women. Sort of an inherently self-defeating project, showering these sad women with love, he’d make them happy for a while then lose interest and move on. His philandering wrecked his marriage and caused him to be regarded as a not-very-reliable character at his job. He sought psychotherapy. When the psychotherapist realized his problem was an erotic fixation on women who were depressed he fixed him up with a woman in a depressives group therapy group a colleague was running. It was a passionate affair that burned brightly and led to Remy marrying the woman, who took to her bed with depression, and imaginary symptoms, occasionally coming out like a bear from its cave into white hot anger — screaming at him so loud I heard out on the street, and hurried on, giving my lemon bars to somebody else.

Remy found out that the psychotherapist had with malice aforethought fixed him up with his horrible bride. “You’re not supposed to fix me up with depressive women! You’re supposed to fix me? You’re unethical!”

“What about her?” the therapist yelled back — this was on the fourth floor landing — the therapist’s apartment was in the West 80s — “Doesn’t she deserve to be happy? You’re a great guy and you’re turned on by depressives! Where’s she going to find somebody better than that?”

“You’re supposed to be my therapist! Not thinking about other people’s happiness!”

“That is completely wrong!” Dr. Rogowsky shouted and slammed the door.

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the old shame back again

-o god o god my life’s hard!

he was sitting on the kitchen floor, the light was on, one of these middle of the night things.

-so hard.

I sat down next to him, put his head against me till he stopped sobbing.

—-what is it, hon? I asked. -the job?

He shook his head yes. There was a dish towel handy and when he started crying again I dabbed his face.

Of course the job, the job, the job, what else? He’s a psychotherapist who treats women whose fathers were shamed.

After the war they shamed the men and now he treats a generation of daughters, the women whose fathers were shamed. A teacher forced in front of his students and…a man with a wife who had to…grandpa in the rain…

–really a lot of it is normalizing these details, taking the shame out of saying what is hidden in the ellipsis he told me.

-Put anybody else in the same situation. Would you judge them?

That’s what he asked me.

And it’s a kind of healing but he’s afraid on nights like this that it is just symptomatic relief, that the sickness lies too deep.

-Once you know your fathers are afraid, you women…

-it’s not exactly…I mean we knew it. We know it. How could we not know it?

He studied at one of their schools that’s where he went to med school and did his training so of course with the new government they made him…his patients… And that’s what he remembers, on nights like these.

He rocked against my body, rocked and cried.

I don’t hate him any more — how could I?

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The Old Language

Professor Thanjavur developed Neolect when he was in prison as a way of dealing with his anger. He spent his thirties in the facility and the injustice of it, well, obviously — would you feel any different? — his wife and her lover free to walk in the rain, wake up in each others arms, go to a coffee shop and him? Life? What kind of life? Was it life really?

In Neolect you cannot say of two human beings that the first loves the second and simultaneously knows that the second hurts him. There are many distinct words for what a human being can expect from another human being. “I remember solace from you. I take pleasure in imagining intimacy with you. I fear without you this world will take my soul.” That you can say. But “I love you and you hurt me” that is like “the pencil sky clouds the yesterday.”

In George Orwell’s 1984 there is something similar with NewSpeak — “Big Brother is double plus ungood” is literally meaningless. But Orwell had to imagine a dictator and his party forcing his country to adopt Newspeak. It took no party or secret police to force people to speak NeoLect. It felt like when you are done sobbing, and gradually your breath returns to normal. In NeoLect there is a single word for that feeling, when the sobs have stopped racking the body, and pain no longer abrades the mind.

Oolo. Macha peecha sawa oolo neolect talkee talkee. Talking Neolect is a deep relief.

It is.

I am the last one who speaks the old language, but even I do the hard work of making sense of my life in neolect, because the old language? What is it really? A mental illness? Perhaps?

And if I’m the only one who speaks it, then?

Last night I woke up in the dark, begging myself to forgive myself. Outside Perhaps howled, screamed like the Great Not, tore up the Now Sky, bloody as fuck, and would not be comforted.

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An Unmemorable Fancy

“Our brains are flesh but we live a long time, so that we cannot possibly remember everything we want to, and by dint of long struggling with this problem we have hit upon the expedient of our sacred books. We write our sacred books ourselves, and we know it, but then comes the fall of civilizations and the chilling of stars, and the long wandering and starting again from the lungfish to the lemur to the man, and we re-discover them and re-read them written in the terrifying letters that burn into our brains, and thus, remember. But something is lost here too. So as the great years passed we realized that we pick up the sacred books where we left off, and change a little bit of them each time round the merry-go-round. And this too was good, but not the best, because even better was to try different versions of the same sacred book — I think they call it the genome? — and returning after the great cold and the great fire to see which version survived incorrupted, and which corrupted, and which had suffered that fate for which few have words but which I will call right here, right now corrupted and yet improved upon. But Her Will Be Done, am I right? ” said the Hat-Her.

“It was the very Best Butter.” said the Marchen Herr looking at his chronometer sadly. Outside the stars were blue, then red, then blue again, then black.

“If you had this all to live again would you live it differently.” asked the Herr.

“I always do.” said the Hatter.

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The End is Wedged in the Beginning

This is a story I heard from my friend Andrew’s mother whose name is Joyce:

I used to, when I was a young girl, love stories where the end is wedged in the beginning. Example, the writer describes a painting that a sailor sees on the first page, and we realize at the end when his ship goes down that the whole story, the ship, the ocean, the biological engine of the ship’s end hidden therein, were all prefigured in the description of the painting.

Second example: a cursed town whose story is described as being like a pig-tail (viz: spiral) ends after a hundred years when the story of the town which is the very book that you the reader are reading is decoded and the last line of the book describes the destruction of town by hurricane and here “describes” is meant literally — the book we are reading both uses writing to bring the town into being and then to usher it out, like a hopeful actor at an audition.

But, Joyce, continued as an old — you’re not old, Joyce! — i am — woman — I realized I am less interested in clever ways ends can be hidden in beginnings and more in the wedging. In you might say, the hiding. Because where does that come from, the hiding? The wedging? What mysterious alphabet gives us the letters to write “beginning” and “ending”? Or, to speak a little less enigmatically, isn’t it much less important that there are letters when decoding a message, than to know which direction to read it in?

Forward, backwards, or boustrophedonic?

And isn’t even more important than those two aforementioned things,viz: the meanings of the letters – abcde etc. — and what order to read them in, to know that there is such a thing as an order? That there is a beginning, a middle, and an end?

At any rate that is the story, as it was told to me by the woman whose name was Joyce, whose child is Andrew, whose friend is me.

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Two Conceptions of Time

This one is about aphids, sucking the sweet juice from the stem of the chrystanthemums. They consume so much juice that they excrete sugar: honeydew.

“We are those aphids.” said Master Lee as he passed through the garden. “We fight each other for who is high on the chyrsanthemum bush and who is low. The one who is high on the chrysanthemum bush drinks much sap, lays many eggs, has many sons. The one who is low on the bush drinks less sap, lays few or no eggs. When he is gone his life leaves no trace. Like a dream.”

“But the other aphid the one who lives high on the bush, he leaves no trace either. “

“You amaze me.” said Master Hong.

“But I do not convince?” asked Master Lee.

“You do not convince.”

“Tell.”

“The archetype of plant and aphid, producer and consumer, lives high above the aphids and the chrysanthemum bush. High above this world, and one could also say, to vary the mode of speaking, closer to the source. And high above that, is the Tendency of Things. And it is the Tendency of Things that determines that there should be archetypes and aphids and what will flow forth, and what will return. And one could say that this is the chrystanthemum bush, and you and I, as we endeavor to think through it, to process its sugar, and secrete our own honeydew, are aphids.”

“Did I not say as much? asked Master Lee.

“You did not. Or rather, you did not, until I explained your saying to yourself.”

“I am amazed.” said Master Lee.

“But you are not convinced? asked Master Hong.

“I am not.”

“Tell.” said Master Hong.

“There are two conceptions of time. According to one, it all happens at once: you, me, our disagreement, the aphids, the chrysanthemum bush with its white flowers, their spheres of fleshy petals, the archetypes, the Highest, and the Highest of the Highest. And according to the other it does not. First there is the the knowledge, then the thinking of it, then the speaking, then the mistakes, you and me walking in the garden, the sun setting, the sky becoming blue then white, then grey, then purple, then black.”

“Two men, each with one conception of time?” he asked.

“Not at all. One man breathes in while the other breathes out, perhaps?”

“Perhaps.”

“They call them ant cows. You might as well call the ones who make milk for our morning coffee human aphids.”

It was cold. Master Lee tightened the cloak around his shoulders and hurried to the dwelling. Master Hong ran his fingers up and down the stems.

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Desiderata for a Good Novel

Looking at a good novel like Finnegans Wake it has some admirable features: i)Vico cyclometer — i.e. depending upon whether a civilization reading it is in a stage of myth, heroic epic, or rationality, or second barbarism the novel will present differently ii)in a made-up language that it teaches the reader iii)in an interesting shape that says something about the theme of time and temporality viz. circular.

Another good novel, Gene Wolfe’s Urth Cycle has good features, namely i)model of temporality based upon modern understandings of time ii)profound and self-reflective musings upon the relationship of religion and the imagination iii)subversion of the relationship between the idea of literary character and human character iv)ultimate metaphor for what it is to live a life.

Novels can do a lot. If I ever write one I’d like AT LEAST for it to accomplish being:

i)a self-diagnostic tool for the Cosmic Anthropos ii)in a new language that it teaches you iii)consistent time paradoxes iv)subvert yet re-create the reciprocal relationship of psychology/character creation v)entertaining!

That said a good start would be to develop a novel that provides a new mythology for the human race, is in a language that does not depend exclusively upon Western languages, and is a RELATIVISTIC Vico cyclometer

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An Introduction to Manicasa Danshon Wigge

A lot of people who wanted to get an introduction to Manicasa Danshon Wigge didn’t even now the first thing about procuring such an introduction, but procured one they did, because he (or she) would arrange to be present in their lives, but unobserved, or perhaps, unthematized — a collection of coins in the back of a drawer, the play of light from the sun on a cloudy day, a memory that presented itself as a forgetting but was a memory clear as a bell all the same — they didn’t know that these were their opportunity to be introduced to Mr. MDW, they didn’t know I’m telling you with every last droplet of my eloquence — but HE knew, and was able to take them and split them right in two, brushing to one side the part he did not wish to meet, and grabbing the chickens’ heart between his fingers — “how do you do?”

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