Friday, September 24, 2010

Event Horizon (after Lao loses Hypatia - late middle - I'll number all these later)

I could not see at the time how I had alienated my daughter. I was too far lost in what I considered my poetic memory, though now it seems more like a perturbed detachment, thinking longing thoughts, of Parnassus, and of my Muse.
If my loneliness was consuming me, the only adversary threatening its displacement was my anger. And as longing may begin broad and its focus becomes narrowed on the specifics of our lacking, anger is the inverse of this. But that may have been a trait specific to my circumstances. I had known my enemy from the beginning; I could’ve found out his name without much effort, but as is often the case, paranoia came in quickly to “check” (to use its own word) my ambitions so they would not betray me.
I knew, and I say “knew” only to signify the surety I held on my belief and not to emphasize any validity that it may have had, how easily my questioning could have been mistaken for an obsession that may have threatened both my professional career and my personal reputation.
Soren became increasingly intolerable to me during this time. There is no doubt in me now that he was attempting to console what in me he could, but pain and fury brings us to speak another language than those around us. Everything begins to take on obscure inflection and hidden meanings. I alone knew the truth in what they were saying, and in what they had conveniently chosen to keep to themselves. I knew that they would never know what was happening inside me, who ever could? It was my burden to bear and the futile offerings of my friends hit me like an insult to my strength. I knew that I was alone.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Event Horizon (where language fails - towards the end)

Soren, stared at me. “Once you know what it is, love doesn’t wait for you; it finds you where you are.” He looked from me to his wife. “It runs.” They smiled at each other. It’s indescribably unsettling to see happiness when vultures might as well be circling overhead.
“You know Lao that from here, you may still follow us”
“Follow you, to what end? You walk undeviatingly into death.” Something not unlike like laughter moved behind his eyes,
“Death, like cessation?” He said with a tutor’s tone of well meaning clarification, though at the time I thought it hubris.
“And the end?” he continued, “Not yet, it’s just the end of this.” I was taken back with urgent responsibility.
This is all there is.” How dire could I make my claim? I went on.
“What do you think? That something will come down and stop the war before you have to face it? That you’ll be saved from it somehow? I don‘t want to watch you all die for a delusion.”
“It’s not - ” He started, but I cut him off first. He did seem to mind.
“If you won’t do this for yourself, then your children, don’t throw them away.”
“Do you not see it, even now?”
“See what?”
“Love has come! The war is over!” The crowd erupted behind him so that I had to wait for their noise to die down before I could speak again.
“Love! Are you really going to keep on with that?”
“It’s Love that we’ve been too long separated from, but we will not be forever. It’s close now, it’s so close.”
            “So that’s what you’re after, the fulfillment of this Love?
“It’s already been fulfilled, and don’t confuse yourself with crassness of language. Don’t say things like “this love” or “that love,” there is only one and it’s all that matters.” He paused briefly, the frustration on his face looked strange, now I wonder if it is because it reminded me so greatly of myself.
“I don’t know how to make this clearer than I have, but I guess I’m not the first one saying it: there is nothing but Unconditional Love. Any other manifestation falls short, and though it may be similar in appearance, it is ultimately something else.”
“Are you saying that I did not love my wife, are you saying I don’t love my daughter?”
“I’m saying that Love needs to first be thought of as something that exists before we can know it as something that is done. What you feel towards them may be close to the real thing, if it’s coming from the right place, but ultimately it falls short.”
“So, because I’m not with your processional I don’t know how to care for the people in my life? How the hell can you say that?”
“Don’t tell me what I am saying, you cannot know that. All that I mean is that you’re forgetting the origin. All these other attempts are like light through a prism, yes it’s broken into smaller impurities of what it really is, but that does not change the fact that there is light still there.”
“Look Soren - ” but now he cut me off
“It’s not easy to prove that anything is real, but Love. Once you find it, everything else finally has meaning. Look at me, or at the dirt or Agrona, everything else, it doesn’t matter; all of this, to put it simply, is the love song of a broken heart. It’s been sung from the very beginning, when we were first stolen away in the night. Love wants us back, for its own, again.”
This was sounding desperate, vagaries do that.
But when he turned to me with that look of absolute sincerity, I couldn’t help but doubt myself. It wasn’t until I had found out where Soren had been coming from that I’d really begun to doubt him after all. How long had I trusted him, and how many times had that trust been fulfilled. Was there really a change in him because I’d realized his perspective, or was it a change in me because I’d finally realized my own. Is it madness that makes a man see what others cannot, or is it because the whole world has been blinded? Who am I to say? We are men of secrets and lies.
“I know that you believe you are helping us, but you aren’t. There are things at work here you do not yet understand, but you may before it is over. Your desires are in the right places, and for that there may yet be hope. You were drawn from darkness to the edge of night, that you might see the day waking.”
            Sound pounded over me and I was shaken violently, disoriented, and then realized that the alarm had sounded and Soren was going to be led away, and I too had to leave.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Event Horizon (Somewhere in the middle - "The myth of justice")

I was beginning not to trust Phaedrus.
“Lao,” he said as he turned to me, laughing to himself, “when it comes to things like dying and war, time will never matter. Flaming pitch catapulted from some trebuchet or bullets or a god-damn stream of plasmatic ammonia, it’s just hopelessly enduring weapons of momentum and light, things which cannot be created or destroyed but only change forms.” Soren smirked, darkly, holding the cigarette in front of his grinning, yet grimacing face.
“It’s no matter in how we put off the debt,” smoke filtered through his fingers, fitting his laissez-faire tone of voice, “the payment is fast.” He said it with his eyes floating focused on some unseen distance; he was becoming more frequently disconnected.
            “The only thing that changes is why you ever get involved in the first place” said Phaedrus. “It used to be savages fighting over land and trees, we’ve gotten past that.”
            “It’s true,” I added, “we’ve learned better. The old wars were between pedantic people who couldn’t see past their next meal. It almost never happens now, and even that is for the sake of our way of life, not some immediate gratification.”
            Phaedrus agreed, “He’s right, those same people thought they had to fight for some kind of glory. We at least know that it’s painful and regrettable, they looked forward to it.”
            “I wouldn’t say that we are not different from them, but I also wouldn’t say that we’re entirely separate.” Soren added.
            Phaedrus nodded saying, “It all really just comes down to what the leaders can make their people believe they’re fighting for. We might be as greedy as ever, but we’ve at least got some control of ourselves. We don’t just hop into battle now, that’s why man made flags and kings in the first place. We used to fight for kinsmen. There was some basis for that, you lose someone close to you, and you want reconciliation. Once groups got too big, people had to come up with something else to connect them.” He sniggered, “That’s what kings and flags are for, they
            I bought it. “What else do you need? You personify a group; you give them something in common so that any attack on any member becomes an attack on all of them.”
“You need something you will never be able to separate from them. If a man fights for king and country, what happens when the flags are burning and the kings are dead? Why then would they continue to fight?”
“Survival,” I said. “They will fight to live.”
“Ah! But that’s just it. When I was a young man, I had been recruited into an exploration party, looking mostly for new land to expand our agricultural growth, but also for other resources. We had gotten as far as Torva, that’s about a five week journey on foot from the city, and out there we found two tribes which had separated themselves from our government and, from what we could tell, viewed themselves as having escaped from our society several generations prior to our rediscovering them”
“From the Mystics” injected Phaedrus.
“From all of us” snapped Soren suddenly, surprisingly.
“We watched them for a while, for it seemed they had reverted into a nearly primitive state, no electricity, no medicine, nothing. Each tribe consisted of roughly eight or nine hundred men, plus all their women and children. All of them existed within their villages in near tranquility; I’ve since wondered if this is a product of such a small environment where intimacy may not have been part of its production, but was an inalienable demand for continuance.
“However, there was an animosity between them and a neighboring tribe living about a day’s hike to the north. They had been at war with each other for as long as either group could remember, though neither had any real understanding why.”
“It’s understandable;” chimed Phaedrus, “such people are prone to unprovoked violence. There’s nothing common holding them peaceful so they just returned to being feral.” Soren didn’t respond to Phaedrus’ assessment and continued with his story.
“Anyway, we learned that both tribes lived under the same myth: When man first came into the world, a Tortoise and an Eagle had agreed to a race. According to them, both used to be the fastest creatures alive. The wager between the two was that if the Tortoise won, mankind would be immortal as he was, for he had the power to offer them that. The Eagle, which was the greatest of all animals though mortal, however, wanted them to be mortal since they walked on the ground and he could not allow something he so young and less than himself to be allowed immortality when he was denied it.
“The wager also said that were the Tortoise to lose the race, he would have to give up his speed and immortality so that he would live alongside the humans; while the Eagle would have to grow tired of flight and land at the end of the day, before it was not so. Both agreed.
“The race was run, but the Eagle, who had been too proud to risk losing to the tortoise, cheated and cut across a great plain it was supposed to go around. When it won, the Tortoise consented that man would be mortal and he would be slow, but the eagle was made to grow tired for its transgression.
“The myth continued that the Eagle, who was furious for being caught, decided to kill one of the men from each tribe, since they had made mortal as its vengeance. After it had done so, it went to the leader of each man’s tribe while he slept. It whispered in his ear that the leader’s countryman had been killed by a member of the native tribe, and if the death was not matched by the end of the year, then He would come back and slaughter both tribes for having let the death go un-avenged.
“The following day, both tribes went out and fought. Many men were killed on each side, while others were stolen to become slaves. At the end of the day neither tribe was able decide who had lost more soldiers though each believed it to be its own. So they must meet, in order to return balance, lest the Eagle come back and destroy them all.”
Soren shook his head, but continued, “So from then on, the tribes have met every few months with their warriors and fought until the first man died, so that each would not lose track of how many had been killed. However, since each believes its own tribe to be the one wronged in the beginning, the conflict is never settled and they have to meet again and again in order to ensure that they are safe.
“Needless to say, I soon came to understand that for all that, it was just romanticized revenge.”
 “This is different though,” I countered, “those people actually believed in their myth.”
“Exactly,” Phaedrus jumped in, “their entire motive was based around some ridiculous idea that some eagle and turtle deities would come down in fury if the world wasn’t righted. It was fear that the world wouldn’t fix itself, and then this fear became anger.”
“It wasn’t exactly anger, but angst.” Soren answered. “All over the world, people have this idea that some things which happen are fair while others are not; despite all evidence to the contrary, they can’t get rid of it.” It was hard to tell who he was talking to; it was more spoken to the air than either of us.
He continued, “But back to their myth; I agree, they absolutely believed it. I think they believed it in the exact same way we believe in justice. We believe in it so much that most of our thoughts are bent on creating it. I think it’s the myth of justice that’s provoked almost all confrontations, and we won’t get past them until we get past it, and until then, the conflict is almost useless.
“I’m not saying that I’m a pacifist, not exactly, there are things that will not stop on their own simply because they don’t want to. I just think when we look at something, we should try to know what it really is.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“A larger version of the same struggle that’s been happening to mankind since it’s very beginning. We have this idea of balance, but we don’t know where it came from. It’s the idea that the world has been thrown off tilt and we’ve been trying to right it ever since. All wars are just the same old war.
“People can see, and want to remedy, that there is an inequality among them, which means two things: first that we have some latent idea of real balance, and real equality; and second that we think we can do something about it ourselves.”
“Well can we?” I said. At which Soren started laughing almost to the point of obnoxiousness.
“If you think I can answer that, you give me more credit than I deserve. But if I had to guess, I would have to say: probably not. I think it’s too far off tilt. We would need some third party to come in, more powerful than any side which was at stake, as an intermediary. It would have to wipe the slate clean, by which I mean not just in simple things like land or money or social injustices because that wouldn’t be enough, not only would the whole past still be there, but you can’t give someone something without taking it from someone else – I hope you don’t think I’ve been talking about politics this whole time - It would have to change the way we think.”
“Oh, of course,” said Phaedrus, “for a second I thought it was going to be complicated.” I laughed, Soren turned to Phaedrus.
“I didn’t say it was likely, but I think that’s the only way. This new party would have to come in with the means to provide for each side what it was lacking and it would have to give these things, freely, of itself, without any demand for return.”
“Wouldn’t that just throw the tilt again?” I asked. Soren nodded.
“What do you think I meant when I said it was have to give these things freely? If it didn’t want them back, there wouldn’t be any imbalance; it will have done only what it had chosen and was set out to do. There would be no animosity because it hadn’t been wronged in the arrangement.”
“But,” said Phaedrus, “I think you’re forgetting, it would conveniently have to make everyone forget about everything that had happened before it arrived.”
“Again, I didn’t say it was possible. It’s just the only way I can see it ever really going away.”
“You know,” said Phaedrus, “you’re starting to sound like one of them.” He pointed to the window toward the valley of Agrona. After this, we sat in silence.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Event Horizon (Introduction)

Found among the wreckage of New Kaiadas, east of Agrona. Included are the following letter and accompanying text.

To those who might come after me,

    It is by our count the year 1046 of what I now suppose to be a conclusive era of human society. My name is Lao and I am the chief civil management officer of the city of New Kaiadas, the current capital of civilization, our Constantinople. It is my job to design and oversee the collection and eradication of the leaders and loyalist of a former regime so that they may be properly handled. It’s been over 40 years since their usurpation, but for most of that time they seemed to be a irrevocable patron of our society, that was until me. I am quite good at my job. Presently there are fewer than 400 of these insurgents remaining, essentially all of whom are in captivity, awaiting their trial and punishment. Before this I was a mathematician.
    It is a quality I’ve noticed of a mathematically oriented mind, when offering a description, to demand all circumstances be explained, and context properly laid. This assures no mistakes will be made in understanding a situation. And so, this is my context, that I might be explained, and possibly forgiven.
    I’ve always been the type to be perpetually dissatisfied with my work the moment it is finished. When my response is recorded, I’ve always found some fault that demands better explanation or some gap that need filling. So I ask for leniency, knowing that this is just a framework for something, a vantage point, a means only to another means. My hope is that you will learn to look for yourself. When you look at your world, I want you to know why. That’s as far as I can go with you.
    There are appetites in Man which demand satisfaction but branch beyond any hunger the body can muster. These appetites consume their bearer as they are gratified, and as they are sated, are more greatly matured. This is not because they can never be replete; but because as they are refined, a man realizes that their foods, called Beauty and Truth, seem to be brought it by the senses and are limited to the scale of the window by which they enter.
    One might think that would produce a hopelessness and a futile venture that being beyond the scope of our best efforts is beyond the chance of being completed. However, human history has shown a relentless journey towards this goal. Why do we reach for what we cannot fully own? Why do we fill ourselves with what only seems to grow our need? What hope is there in gathering what we do not have the means to contain? Our justification and hope rests on some deep seeded knowledge that this will not always be the case. We want, one day to submerge into wherever it is that Beauty and Truth come from and, by submersion, be united with it.
    It is the animal in Man that builds cities, stores his food, competes for his status and fights for his security. He does not live, but he survives; my God does he survive. The Man of the matter is the gypsy in him, always moving not because he does not have a home but because he already knows that he won’t find it here.
    This is instinctual in Man as Beauty is perfectly still, though it can only be seen in motion. It is timeless, we are not, and can be found in every moment that we wish we could have back. It’s not the falling water, nor the wind on the grass, nor the unrelenting flow of life that’s beautiful; these are biological, admirable, but something else entirely built around a need and its being sated.
    What the painter or the poet sees is the instant where life lines up with whatever mystery beauty must be, that little bit of eternity leaking through. We find something attractive when we can realize some use towards putting it, but something is beautiful when just by witnessing it we are improved.
    However, what is Life without Death? Without the backdrop of hunger, how can we know the real gratification of being filled? So, we need our failures and their ugliness to remind us that there really is something Beautiful out there, demanding to be seen and waiting to be explained.
    Like Beauty, Truth can never be taken out of context, once it has done so, it ceases to be itself and is only a poor reflection. It is a completed piece and a ringing bell. You cannot separate part of the message without ruining what was really said. Nevertheless, I admit this is only my best attempt, and should not be regarded as anything more.
    A man’s shortcomings are as telling as his fulfillment. What can a man hope for but to offer his little part as a window into the whole. We should expect nothing more. But to those who wish for such things, you may find them with Conditional Love and the Greek Calends.