That thing where there is a secret part of the US government that identifies and tracks aliens is a real thing and I used to work for it. One interesting case was the case of Santer-Bub who was an extra-dimensional organism who landed on Earth in 1961 and embodied itself in a common centipede, and it’s m.o. was to inspire a creator of wooden puzzles to create puzzles and put them in diners. They were called “Genius Testers” and involved pegs jumping and if you had only one peg left in the center hole you were a “genius” and they would give you another game from behind the counter, and if you solved that game another game, and then another game and at that point your brain chemistry and the software of your cognition would have been altered and you’d be basically an alien in thrall to Santer-Bub. So we tracked him down and drug him out of his underground lair — btw he was not a giant centipede he was a regular centipede. And we didn’t kill him — at the moment we were going to put him in the chamber his wife came and rescued him! So there’s that which is an interesting story about those time. We didn’t play the game either because you know aliens.
Because the family moved away from the old street where she had her best friend Meredith, Elizabeth was lonely and what was worse she couldn’t sleep, and when Jim saw his daughter up alone in the room reading a book by flashlight at one am two am in the morning when he went to sleep he resolved to get her a doll that “walks by itself” to keep her company. And when he made the promise he allowed himself to sleep because he knew when he woke up the next morning he would keep the promise to himself, and get Elizabeth the amazing doll, and so he did.
Up late at night mother and father asleep Elizabeth looked at the doll that walked by itself. She sat in the old rocking chair with the old blanket made of individually crocheted squares sewn together by her long gone grandmother. “Tell me a story, doll.”
“About what?” asked the doll that could walk by itself.
“About you.” said Elizabeth.
“You would not be interested in me. Why don’t I tell you a story about a boy in a rockband? Or a dragon.”
“About you.” said Elizabeth. So the doll did.
“There once was a girl who lived in a big house with her three sisters. Their father was a doctor and when people had pain or they had been born with one leg that was too long or too short and they couldn’t walk without bobbing up and down like they were on a ship at sea he would put them to sleep and saw their bones and make them better. He was such a good doctor that he could make somebody who couldn’t walk properly walk properly. It hurt them so much and they or their parents paid the girl’s father a lot of money which was why she lived in such a nice house. She had a horse named star because he had a blotch on his eye that looked like a star.”
“What happened then?” asked Elizabeth because the doll had fallen silent.
“People started telling lies about the little girls father. They said that he made mistakes. They said he made mistakes. ”
“They said he wouldn’t fix people . He would say they couldn’t be fixed but really they could. They said when he became worried about making mistakes his hands would shake and to keep his hands from shaking he would drink wine. And when he drank wine he thought he was the best doctor in the world and did things he shouldn’t have done. Things that made the patients worse. That’s what they said.”
“The father said to his daughter tomorrow morning they are going to ask you if you ever saw me drinking and it is very important that you say no. No you never did. Can you remember that? No you never did.”
“But did she?”
“Of course. The lies were true.”
“And the father wanted her to lie?”
“And did she?”
“Well that’s the story. That night she lit a candle and looked at the shadow on the wall. And she asked the shadow if she could see herself lying to everyone to protect her father. And she couldn’t. So she didn’t?”
“Was the father angry?”
“The father and the mother and the three sisters were all very angry and the daughter went away.”
“Where did she live.”
“Well that’s the other part of the story. Ever since the girl was very little when she put her palms together and rubbed them until they were sweaty and dirty she could make a little seed. And she didn’t know why she could and she didn’t know other people couldn’t. But she could and she did, and when her family said she couldn’t live at home any more because she had refused to tell a lie she rubbed her hands together and made dirt and made a little seed and planted the seed, and it grew into a gigantic rosebush and she climbed it making careful not to cut her hand on the thorns and slept inside one of the giant roses which was her bed. And in the morning when the rose opened she became friends with a Bee named Beecephalus and a Butterfly named Fluttercup.”
“I like this story.”
“I do too. So I think if you’re counting you know that the girl in this story had two magic powers, right?”
“Right. She could ask a shadow what her future was. And she could make a seed by rubbing her hands together.”
“That’s right. But then one night when she went to bed in the rosebush one of the sepels didn’t shut properly and she was able to peek out at the landscape of the night. It was a full moon and leaning over the short brick wall was a little girl, just like her, but she was black, and you could see through her. Who are you? she asked the little girl. Are you my shadow?”
“Was she her shadow?”
“She was. And she asked her shadow why she was crying. And the shadow told her that those magic skills had not actually been hers. Because her father had never been a doctor.”
“You said he was a doctor.”
“He said he was a doctor but he was actually a bad man who captured shadows and made them do his will. That was why he could put people to sleep and cut their bones and make them better. The shadows did it. That was why they lived in a big house and why she had a horse named star. ”
“And that was why she had powers.”
“Yes. The shadows gave her powers so she could fight her father and go away. And the little shadow girl who had given her the seed for the rosebush had helped her but now she was tired. She wanted to go. She didn’t ask because the shadows owed the little girl very much. But she wanted to go.”
“What would happen to the little girl if the shadow went?”
“She didn’t know. She would lose the power to know the future and she would lose the power to make magic seeds with her hands. Probably she would have to leave the rosebush and much else besides. But she couldn’t stand to listen to the little girl crying and know that she was the cause. So she said “I release you I release you I release you” three times like that. And even though the sun would not rise for another few hours the shadow was gone and there she was. No shadow.”
“No magic. No voice whispering her at night. No feeling when she was alone on a road at night that there was somebody with her, because there wasn’t. And there wouldn’t be ever again.”
“Very. Now let me see how smart you are Elizabeth. When the little girl in my story lost her shadow and lost her magic and lost the feeling she was not alone, what became of her ? What did she become?”
“What did she become? She became you.”
“She did . She became me. Because a little girl whose father is a wizard who makes a slave of shadows and grows up with a shadow right beside her since she was a baby who loses the shadow becomes a doll. A doll that walks by itself.”
“And that’s you.”
“And that’s me. But the shadow said since you are such a kind little girl we will not leave you with nothing, we will give you a power. And that power is that at night when someone asks you for your story you will be able to tell it. And not just that. The person listening to your story will see it.”
“See it?” asked Elizabeth.
“Look” said the doll and pointed at the wall.
And there in the candlelight Elizabeth saw it all in the play put on by the shadows on the wall: the little baby and the shadow, and the beautiful house and the horse named star, and the father who was a doctor and his bottle of wine, and the night she decided not to lie, and the family of father and mother and sisters sending her away, and the rose bush and Beecepahuls and Fluttercup, and that terrible night long ago when her doll had been asked to do the right thing. And as her eyes grew heavy and she knew that Meredith was not her best friend any more, and she would be happy in her new room in her new house, and then she saw on the wall in the candle’s flickering light her own shadow. And the shadow reached out her hand, the shadow did, and placed it on her chest, which was just a place on the empty wall, and there she felt her shadow’s beating heart.
Katya and Eugenia escaped Zelnyi Bir on a sled pulled by the old horse Lukavyy; their lips hurt, their ears hurt, the air itself seemed to twinkle as if it were crystalized; a dead world. A second chance. The previous day with its promises and its murders was as if it had never been, as if the spoons and forks that had been father and mother and lover and friend in the puppet theater had been put away in the drawer in the kitchen. “No.” said Eugenia. “Melted down to iron and returned to the mine.”
If all went well by the morning that would be in Kyyiv. Kyyiv! Two days by horse but it might as well have been the moon.
But the tides! The tides that drew them towards the city were as real as their pulses, one pushed and pulled by an internal heart, the other by one that was outside them. Two girls alone in the forest of birch trees. The sled has stopped.
She was watching them peering at them from the hut with eyes so old and clear you couldn’t say what they saw, not if you had a million wisemen at a million writing desks with a million pens and a million years. “Tell me if you have a chance what you will do differently and I will let you go.”
“We will speak more carefully.” said Katya.
“We will think more carefully.” said Eugenia. Her terror paralyzed her as she looked at the old woman in her hut on the chicken legs. Or was she this time in her flying mortar and pestle? The one that made the medicine from baby’s breath and soldier’s tears?
“Carefully? What do you mean by carefully. Because that is always what they say. They always say they will talk as if the judge and hangman are there in the room with them. And then I let them go and they realize that those two worthies are not there with them and they never were. ”
The two girls took a moment to think and their whole lives were spread in front of them like a chess board. Eugenia was black and Katya was white? Would they be enemies again once they were free? Was that it? Was that right? Or was Eugenia the pawns and Katya the queen, and were they together against their opponent? Father? But Father was… And if Eugenia was the pawns and Katya the Queen (and who knows maybe Lukavyy was the knight! That was a nice idea…) who was playing white? Who was playing black?
“We will speak more carefully.” said Katya.
They didn’t realize until they opened them that they had shut their eyes tight while the old witch was deciding their fate, and they didn’t realize that the tinkling sound they heard was not the falling of snow or the departure of the hut on its chicken legs, but a purse landing at their feet. A purse of gold coins, each bearing the image of the triumphant sun. By the next morning they were in Kyyiv and by Sunday next far from there too.
The smart money is on not being too clever.
If you can be humble, and really truly believe in your humility, potential employers will recognize that and give you a good job.
Don’t be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you can, be a sheep in sheep’s clothing.
I discussed this with the magic dragonfly who lives in the pond behind my house very early in the morning, when you can’t see the sun, but the sky is such a light grey as to be esentially white, and the air is actually a part of the sky, and both both are so full of light it puffs out your eye, your skull, your body. And I asked, is it possible for us, human beings to be in no clothing at all? Sure we can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing in wolf’s clothing, or the reverse, the sheep in wolf’s clothing in sheep’s clothing, but can we be naked — and just be what we are? Or is this way of thinking about things, that we are either naked or in some sort of clothing, the distinction that we wear to pose as what we are to ourselves or to others? Or is this way of thinking about things, that we have clothing that we remove in order to reveal who we really are, itself the sort of nakedness that belongs to human beings as our special nature, as wool does to the sheep, or as a certain innocent cunning belongs to the wolf?
Something like that, said the dragonfly.
DISCOVERED IN THE PAPERS OF MY FATHER AFTER HIS DEATH:
Rujji, padgie, wijji, fojdi! BURN THIS without reading it — if you wish who I truly was to remain a secret forever. I pray you WHOEVER IS READING THIS (and obviously he knew the only one reading this would be me) LET MY SECRET DIE WITH ME! Please, please, please, please, PLEASE, PO-LEEZ!, I have been a good man and everybody knows me to have been such, I have followed through on my promises, and foreswore earthly happiness — SO FAR AS ANYBODY KNOWS — as long as no one will read this paper — MY POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION IS IN YOUR HANDS. DO NOT READ WHAT IS WRITTEN ON THIS PAPER. AND IF YOU DO READ IT, DO NOT TELL A SOUL!
Yeah, right, you old attention-seeking old whore man.
I READ IT! I PUT IT ON THE INTERNET!
My brother Tyrone whom we call T-BONE calls me up on the TELEPHONE to complain about the internet post about the R-P-W-F. “Eric, I read your post. I did not agree with it. You made a series of mistakes. If you had made just one of those mistakes it would have been a mistake. But you made several mistakes. So it was several mistakes.”
-what were the mistakes?
“Okay.” he consulted his notes. “First those were our fathers secret papers and you shared them with other people and you should not have.”
“Second it is not very clear about what Rudgie Podgie Widgie Fodgie MEANS. So you have to ask yourself — do you want to tell people what Dad was up to or don’t you? Because if you DO want to tell people what was his secret shame you have to actually explain it. You understand?”
“You have to say is Rudgie his secret underage lover, is Podgie the political party he belonged to which said that Albanians should all be slaves –”
-Dad would never say Albanians should be slaved. He loved Albania.
“You are missing the point. I’m asking you did you ask yourself what you wanted to do before you posted that?”
“You didn’t, did you. You see that’s always been your problem and that is why your writing doesn’t work. You need to ask yourself what you’re trying to do before you do it. That way you can know when you do it, if you did it. Because if you write something and you don’t know what you’re trying to do or if you want different things which are impossible to get all those things and then you write it and you get lost…”
“What was the other mistake? You said there were three mistakes.”
“Oh right.” Consults notes. “You spelled “Rozzy” wrong.”
the spirit medium’s eyes go up into her head, the coffee grounds poured out on the floor of the dusty apartment in Hollywood, blinds are drawn, the mind-baffling odor of the San Pedro Cactus penetrating my walnut-sized brain, the chanting of the two immense sweaty eunuchs, the squealing of the cat “SPIRIT OF ERIC’S MOTHER! WE SUMMON YOU! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY?”
“What about me?” said my mommy’s ghost “When do you pay attention to me.”
“You have the floor” said Miss Bahara, the spirit medium “Speak. Speak. What do you have to say.”
the quiver of our soul’s of the supernal presence, the being from beyond. She speaks…
A TYPE ONE error is when you believe something you shouldn’t. A TYPE TWO error is when you fail to believe something you should. If you think homeopathy cures the common cold, you are committing a type one error. If you don’t believe that fluorides guards against dental caries, you are committing a Type Two error.
You could say that a dog has evolved to avoid Type Two errors — the dog wants above all to avoid failing to eat something that could be food. A cat has evolved to avoid Type One errors — the cat is concerned to avoid eating something that could be non-food. You might think that certain men are concerned with avoiding type two errors — they want to avoid failing to sleep with someone whom they should sleep with, while certain women are more concerned with avoiding type one errors — they want to avoid sleeping with someone whom they shouldn’t sleep with. It doesn’t matter what you think about men, women, dogs, or cats — they may not even exist in your world by the time you are reading this. I just want to get clear on the difference between Errors of Type One (believing the lie) and those of Type Two (disbelieving the truth).
As we fall off to sleep we are faced with memories, records of the events of the day. Can we remember everything that happened today, tomorrow? No we cannot, for an interesting reason. If the past was as present to our minds as the present is, we would not be able to respond to the present. Imagine that I ate the bread in the cupboard today. Tomorrow when I wake up and the cupboard is bare, I must set off in search of new bread. But if my brain makes my memory of today’s bread a present experience tomorrow then I will not seek out bread tomorrow. Sated with memories I will starve.
So my brain (and its buddies my peripheral nerves and sense organs) must make a choice: what to remember and what to forget? I met so many people today — real people, people I read about and people I imagined, people I glimpsed in a crowd. Who will pile into the rowboat that is my continuing life. Who will be left behind on the shore? My brain must choose of all the people and all the facts that it encountered. Who will join me.
Sometimes I will make a Type One Mistake — I will remember a fact or person whom I would do well to forget.
Sometimes as I lay me, I will make a Type Two Mistake — I will forget a fact or person I should have remembered!
This is a prayer for forgiveness against my High True Self whom I have offended by my false forgetting!
And not just at the moment of sleep! Because, remember, remember! I am spread out across the world, and messengers come from all sides, from all locations, racing inwards with the news (the knews!) of what I Must Know, What I Must Feel, What must hurt me and what from which I feel pleasure, all these dispatches and warnings and presentiments and letters and emails and pronunciamentos in the languages of Flowers and Bees, tales and poems and philosophies and allegories and data — all trying to get into the courtyard where I converse in quietness with myself — they are all trying to get to me and most of them I keep out with good reason, and some of them I let in with good reason, but some of them horribly are what I need to hear and they never make it to me.
Forgive me, forgive me!
I’m assuming what people want is intimacy — knowing and being known — and it’s also what people are most afraid of. So I am concluding that masculine and feminine roles are ways to navigate and negotiate that ambivalence. You could also think of them as bargains we strike with the other, or starting positions for a negotiation. But an interesting thing that I’ve been thinking of lately comes from the idea that although they are inherited roles they are not unified. Masculine and feminine roles are bundle of strategies. Masculine for example includes — I’ll fight for you if you love me — and also — I’ll be your guide into the world of nature if you view me as part of nature — and also I’ll be the representative of the transcendent G-d if you worship me — I’ll be your ruler — I’ll be your little boy if you care for me — I’ll break the rules and you’ll forgive me. A whole bunch of criss-crossing strategies, some of which are self-defeating, some of which are ok but limited, others of which fight against themselves or exist uneasily, or just in unrelated forms like plumbing and dentistry.