Sunday Roast: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

On this day in history, December 23, 1954, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was released.

I loved this movie when I was a kid, but I enjoyed Jules Verne’s book even more.  During the giant squid attack scene, I remember thinking that on the interior shots, it looked like the squid was waving.  Well, I was only about ten when I read the book and then saw the movie. 😀

I was also crazy for that old show in the 60s, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

This is our daily open thread — What was your favorite childhood  movie?

Emeralds and Ashes

War. God. The Human Dilemma ‘defined’ in only six letters, two words. The post which follows is the poetic end product of something I’ve played with for quite some time. It begins with an abbreviated series of a mere 13 historical glances, cumulatively focused upon the darkness, not on any mythical glory, of events which essentially came to define the two major war theaters of the Second World War, i.e. Europe and the Pacific. Following the historical ‘peaks’, the realm of pure mythology becomes the focal, beginning with attendance at God’s death during a visit to God’s tomb, including discussions, recited by a composite Greek Muse, with God and Satan. Finally, a cosmic conference commences, moderated by the Muse and including the spirits of four human participants, long dead, but who represent well the cumulative sum of human wisdom. Their ultimate goal: to reinvent and rebirth the God that died in the Holocaust of the Second World War, the genesis of a new and fresh vision of a God based on such esoteric values as Wisdom, Love, Truth, and Beauty … as opposed to the former God’s rooted ‘tools’ of dominion: Money and Power.

I apologize for the length of the post, but in so doing must note that (a) it’s not really as long as it first appears since it’s entirely written in various poetic formats (far fewer words than prose, right?), and (b) it remains tricky to compress the extant of human history AND of human destiny into a ten minute sermon. Maybe if I were a politician, things would seem that simple but since I’m not … well, you know.

Anyway, here it is: Emeralds and Ashes. Whispers from the Muse.

********

EMERALDS AND ASHES

The Second World War and Aftermath
In Poetic Remembrance

for the millions lost

by frugalchariot@ghvalley.net
aka P.L.Nelson

~ ”Gastly grim and ancient Raven
wandering from the Nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is
on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven,
“Nevermore.” ~
(Edgar Allen Poe from The Raven)

CONTENTS

PREFACE

IN MEMORIAM

Part I: KRIEG in EUROPE

WHERE WERE YOU?

The SECOND GENESIS

OSWIECIM

DRESDEN

They Called it THERESIENSTADT

SATAN’S CHAMBER

FROM THE ASHES: A Letter to God

Part II: The WAR in THE PACIFIC

EMERALDS OF SOLOMON

THE MONUMENT

G _ D HAVE MERCY

THE RISING SUN

¡HALLELUJAH!

JOHN FRANCIS, R.I.P

Part III: REBIRTH

THE FINAL GENESIS

THE THIRD MILLENNIUM
A Spiritual Discourse

Act I
Act II
Act III

BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTES

*******

PREFACE

The Second World War was, without doubt, the hallmark of Twentieth Century conflicts.  No one who passed through that era, nor those who first followed that generation, need be reminded of the extent of the conflict, of the players, or of the horror and mayhem which they inflicted on the entire of the human race.  However, as is all too typical of the human condition (and perhaps a center point in the human dilemma overall), the past – though not officially forgotten – is too often rewritten or ignored, and lessons which should have been learned are not.

Many reasons to explain the beginnings of the conflict have been offered, and it’s very likely that each of the reasons so offered is, at least, accurate either in part or, failing that, is valid in the mind of he who has thus offered.  If we accept, for example, the Treaty of Versailles as a driving force behind Germany’s ascendency from the ruins of the first of the century’s great War to End All Wars to the pinnacle of military power from which she launched her effort to subvert Europe, we can perhaps rationalize the situation as a means of payback, of setting the record straight.  Similarly, if we allow Japan to have been in search of oil and resources which laid well beyond her shores, perhaps we can begin to understand her reasons for wanting the Western powers to release their respective grips on territories in the Orient and in the Pacific.  But how, from there, do we rationalize the Holocaust in Europe, or, in Asia, the Rape of Manchuria, the Bataan Death March, and other military atrocities which eventually led to the era’s final atrocity: the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The answer, of course, is that there is no real and true answer, no single reason which can be singled out and separated for inspection and for study.  Or is there?  The opening poem in this collection refers to “ungodly bands of kings” and “despotic shame”; the second poem asks questions which have been asked and never answered, only rejected: “God, where were you?” and “Do you exist at all?  If so, Why?”  The third poem proposes that God watched and rested during the ascendency of Hitler and Nazi Germany and then, as the Holocaust began, and as “He rested, God died.”  The vignettes which follow speak as if God were, indeed, still alive – but “deaf to screams of dying and the dead”.  In the section titled “Rebirth,” we visit God and share His last moments in His tomb, and finally, in “The Third Millennium” we come to understand the fundamental cause of the human dilemma, and listen as sages in the spirit world devise a plan to resurrect not only God, but human hope as well.

“The Third Millennium” – a play in three acts – explores the passage of civilized man via conversants from each ancient Israel, classical Greece, Persia, and nineteenth-century America where, “spread before each, their collected writings, and on the shelves surrounding them, the sum total of recorded human thought.”  The four sages represent, metaphorically, Wisdom; their moderator is a composite of the nine Grecian Muses, and represents human intellect, or capacity to inspire the quest for knowledge and wisdom.  As she describes herself, “I am naught but the wind which blows forth the inspirations of the minds of those who live upon our Earth.  I am the true guide of each celestial intuition.  I am sometimes called Urania, but with you I am each the sisters nine, we who are the daughters of Zeus and of Mnemosyne, inspirers of learning and the arts. I’m sure you all recall our presence as you penned your Earthly legacies.”

The task, of course, is immense: to redirect human thinking and ambition away from the quest for power and dominion over others and toward, instead, the more grand idea of caring for our Earth and our fellows with whom we share this life.  Can it be directed to happen?  Human Intellect (Muse) and Wisdom (the sages) seem to think so and they construct a plan – devise that first step on the long march to intellectual ascendancy and away from the horror and the idiocy which is inevitably the result of the short view demanded by Power. As Muse says to Satan: “Genesis begins anew amidst the smoking ruins that some of lesser mind have wrought.  I shall return to seek out those whose vision can improve the lot of man.  Beast, hear me well: abide your time – remaining is but one cosmic night of darkness till Final Genesis concludes.  Then you, along with ignorance, shall find yourselves alone and banished from the minds of men on Earth, forevermore.”

A simple enough proposition, all that remains is to see that it’s done!  Time will tell.

****

IN MEMORIAM
of those who died before their time
unforgotten

One wonders if they ever heard the cry.
The sound, the summons, which to faithful says:
Your God has called, your time is come to die
And travel on – conclusion of your days
On earth, the end of all familiar things –
Your Lives, your Loves, interred now, sans the pain
Inflicted by ungodly bands of kings
Who find their purpose in despotic shame.
So now all living walk upon a cache –
Abysmal graveyards – globally extant,
Concealing flesh and bone returned to ash
From which it came. Tears want to flow, but can’t
As souls of murdered dead now roam – set free –
And living close their eyes: Afraid to see.

****

Part I: Das KRIEG  in EUROPE

WHERE WERE YOU?

god
where were you?
where have you been?
where were you that fateful day
anno domini
april 20 1889
the day you let birth a monster?
you remember
god
the one whose surname was schicklgruber
whose kampf
you must already have read before
he changed his name to
hitler
surely you must have seen
the future and what it held
didn’t you?

god
i wonder
how many others were birthed
that same day
or on days which followed or preceded
births of
your chosen people
if we are to believe your books
people whom you allowed to suffer and endure
endless torture
and finally ignominious death
where was their reward?
you know the reward
of which i speak
the one you promise in your books
that speaks of happiness eternal
where are you
god?
where were you?
can happiness of any sort really derive
through murder
and through smoke and ash
of burning bones?

god
as you floated on your cosmic cloud
apparently somehow blinded
to the battles waged below on your earth
did you ever hear the screams?
we all know of armageddon
you’ve written of it in your books
but have you heard the
mutterings
now spoken with contempt
of other places
and other names which have come to mean
armageddon
to murdered millions?

god
may i presume
to bore you with a question
or two?
i won’t trifle with the easy ones
you probably had other business
close at hand those days
you know
those pressing cosmic things
but why
god
why hitler?
why the Holocaust?
is there something you’ve
not told us
in your books?

god
please forgive
my final questions
but i must ask them for myself
and for the dead who only speak with silenced voice
do you exist at all?
if so
why?

****

The SECOND GENESIS: Hell and Ash

“And on the seventh day God ended his work
which he had made;
and he rested…..”
(Genesis 2:2)

the first day
april 20 1889
anno domini
in das waldviertel
österreich
unto us
und alois shicklgruber
a child was born
unto us
und klara pölzl
a son was given
and a government to be upon
his shoulders
and god watched

as he rested

the second day
november 11 1918
anno domini
versailles
armistice
the great world war
endete
with germany in ruin
her savior awaiting
mankind’s most sordid adventure
recalled forgotten prayer
peace!   
   peace unto jerusalem
   they shall prosper who love thee
and god recalled

as he rested

the third day
november 8 1923
anno domini
münchen
THE NATIONAL REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN
so sounded the
oath sworn by adolf hitler
as with pistol he fired the first shot
heard
beneath banner of
das hakenkreuz
the swastika
deutschland über alles!
and god heard

as he rested

the fourth day
july 18 1925
anno domini
deutschland
9473 copies of
mein kampf
published and sold
sordid mission now revealed
for those who dared to see
and god saw

as he rested

the fifth day
january 30 1933
anno domini
berlin
ein tausend jahren
REICH
was born
pangs recorded by herr doctor göbbels as
a dream
   a fairy tale
and by andre francois-poncet
who wrote
the river of fire flowed past the french embassy
   whence
   with heavy heart and filled with foreboding
   I watched its luminous wake.
and god looked away

as he rested

the sixth day
september 29 1938
anno domini
münchen
neville chamberlain
edward daladier
benito mussolini
und adolf hitler
agreed to spare the world of war
und so sudetenland
joined
das vaterland
für lebensraum
and god knew

as he rested

the seventh day
november 8 1938
anno domini
deutschland
in aftermath of appeasement
kristallnacht
began the plunder and the
murder of
der JUDEN
as chosen ones recalled again
an old forgotten prayer
peace!
   peace unto jerusalem
   they shall prosper who love thee
and god heard naught

as he rested

on the eighth day
anno domini
hell and ash
rained with morning’s dawn

as Holocaust commenced

and then
as he rested
god
died

r.i.p.

****

OSWIECIM
In memory of the millions.

in oswiecim
there is a silence
ominous
ponderous
it is a weeping silence
which whispers
only to those who dare listen

the silence is pervasive
to all who visit
save for those who yet can hear
the pounding
of long-stilled hearts
and understand it is not the wind
that speaks to them in muted voice

overhead above the rails
a steel banner shouts
arbeit macht frei
it welcomed all
but never heard the cries
and knows not the sadness of
its message nor the reason for
the silence now

the tracks are silent
rusted rails
there are no more trains
no shuffling burden
no bustle on the platform
no snap of heel
no snarling dog
no click of breech

the buildings are silent
and empty
one can hear within them
but a single sound
a haunting sound
for as the wind
seeps through clapboard cracks
it recalls with grievous moan
vile tales of darkest times

beyond the watchtowers
the fields are silent
save for the wind
in summer the grass grows
bent by the breeze
it thrives
and knows no bootprint
nor drifting dust of ash

the bricks are silent
as they play the role of sheltering walls
showers
chimneys
crematoria
have become markers
in a graveyard
a cemetery with no footstones
yet home to untold millions
where any spade of earth
exhumes the ash of bones
and remnants
of a god
who chose to look the other way
in silence

in oswiecim
the silence is deafening
but fleeting
for here the dead

SCREAM!

and beg the living not forget
nor e’er forgive the human horror
now implicit in a place
and in a name

oswiecim

auschwitz

****

DRESDEN

they stood ’round shivering
in worn and tattered coats
with only blackened sky to reflect their mood
and hopes
warming coals commandeered by those more reckless
for it was a time of sacrifice
you see
a time of war

in spite of chill
they knew inferno raged
on distant sun
even at night
impossible to see
impossible to sense
except through journey of the mind
which disallows consideration of darkness
or of cold
no darkness on the sun
no chill

even a child knows that

in tattered coats
the huddled ones leaned toward shelter
away from iced and chilling wind
to dream perhaps of summer’s warmth
to forget fateful thoughts and imaginings
of what might be their destiny
brought upon them by circumstance
of war
and as they dreamed
perhaps they prayed a better life for their children
who also suffered the cold
also suffered the fears

tomorrow would be better
they knew
because the fires which rage the sun
would rise again
to warm the earth and bring forth life
of yet another day
to nurture sons and daughters of creation
as inferno maintained itself
safe away

even the children knew that

but late that night the bombers came
to demonstrate to all creation
no thing is safe or sure
downward rained the firestorms
inferno and incendiary sucked away the breath
of eighty thousands
non-combatants all
just people in tattered coats
huddled in harm’s way
through heinous plan
and
night became the day of fire
flesh boiled or burned
in tattered coats

a man-made sun had come too close
as if to offer proof
that cold and dark
inhere within the human soul
though warmth and light do not
as dead and dying learned
too late

and children burned to ash

dresden
february 14, 1945
r.i.p.

****

They Called it THERESIENSTADT

-and-

everywhere were evidences of happiness
and gaiety
and cobbled streets were swept
and on buildings fresh and well-repaired
were colored awnings
and draperies
and people meandered freely
and enjoyed cakes
and afternoon coffees
and fears were cloaked
and masked

and children played and laughed
and kicked balls in the schoolyard
and practiced their lessons
and many missed friends from days
before the trains but now were warm
and far from war
and sometimes there were even flowers in pots
and birds and bugs to look at
and soup and bread to eat
and they only sensed the fear

and there were guards about
friendly guards wearing smiles
and double lightning bolts on their sleeves
toting rifles
and it was ok because the world was at war
after all
and sometimes people died
and that happens everywhere
even back home
and if bullet holes and bruises are covered by dress or suit
they don’t exist
really

and the visitors were well-dressed too
and there were red cross armbands on their sleeves
and they walked around the cobbled streets
and took notes

and they were happy that rumors which
had summoned them were quite untrue
and they saw none of the evidences of hatred
and torture and extermination
rumored
and sometimes whispered
by gray ghosts
escaped
from
the

east

and two trains waited at the station
and one had silvery comfortable coaches
and the other didn’t
and the first train left early
and the visitors were satisfied to learn
shicklgruber
was not a monster after all
and all was well
in sudetenland

and the second train left later
after dark
and its human cargo bade farewell to comforts
and games and cakes and coffees
and said good-bye to
Theresienstadt
and they left in cattle cars
huddled
and awash in filth and excrement
enroute
to
the

east

to bear witness
the Final Solution

-and-

the fatal masquerade
had worked

****

SATAN’S CHAMBER

they were coming from all directions
battle fronts collapsed on the fatherland
as if a monstrous pincer
bombs fell
gunfire rumbled over
cyrillic voices on the streets of
berlin
the chancellery – tabernacle of the third reich –
und auch der vaterland
now burning rubble
Götterdämmerung
at last
the closing of the ring

in a catacomb deep beneath the tabernacle
– deutschland unter alles –
ceremonies of highest import began
shicklgruber and mistress eva
became united in bond of holy matrimony
even as they prepared themselves
für das ende

one wonders if they dined
or kissed
or made love
or blissfully recalled halcyon days
before commenced their cowards’ finis
gunshot and cyanide
followed by the darkness of their private journey
to satan’s chamber

one wonders if they ever heard
the sobbings of murdered millions
as they made transit to demonic reichstag
to meet their own
deserved
Final Solution
schicklgruber
hitler
bastard
monster
burn in hell and write from there
the final chapter of your gruesome
kampf

remember
arbeit macht frei.

****

FROM THE ASHES: A Letter to God

Not satisfied to ape the Great
In His simplicity
The small must die, as well as He –
Oh the Audacity –
(Emily Dickinson)

Spring, 1945
Dear God,

My name is Anna.  I was eleven
years old when they came to take me and my
parents and my brother Louis.  We rode
in a train, in a car made for cattle.
It was very crowded and people got
very sick.  We had hardly any food
or water, and it was cold.  Every time
the train stopped there were Germans and snarling
dogs.  It was scary.  Mama was sick when
we left Belgium, and when I woke up on
the third day it looked like she was sleeping.
But in a town in Germany, they pulled
her out of the train and threw her on a
cart.  I think she was dead.  God, where is she?
Where is mama?  Is she in heaven with You?

The train went through some snowy mountains, and
it was very pretty to see the trees.
I remembered when I’d played in the snow,
but now I was cold. There was no furnace
in the car, but there was an opening
where the cold wind always blew in, and the
drinking water froze, and I got thirsty
and I got hungry too.  My papa held
me and Louis.  Papa had a big coat,
and it was warm in it next to him.  But
we were all real scared and we all prayed
to you.  We prayed Hear O’ Israel the Lord
our God,  the Lord is one.  Did You hear us?

The train stopped at a place in Poland called
Auschwitz.  We had to get out.  It was cold
there, and there were dogs.  Nasty dogs that growled
all the time and showed their teeth.  And there were
soldiers.  The soldiers were not very nice.
They kept hitting people from the train with
clubs, and we had to all get into lines.
I cried when my papa had to get in
a different line.  Louis cried too.  We
never saw papa again.  God, where is
papa?  Is papa in heaven with You?

We had to go into a building.  The
soldiers kept hitting people.  They hit Louis
with a club and made his head bleed.  He cried
and so did I.  Then they made us all get
undressed.  I didn’t like that because there were
so many people.  Everyone was told
to take a shower, but there wasn’t room for
the children in the shower, and the guards
took us to another place.  There were lots
of furnaces there, and it was hot and
scary.  There were soldiers with guns, and men
in striped suits.  One of them took Louis and
whispered something to him.  Then he hit him
on the head with a club and threw him in
the furnace.  God, where is Louis?  Is he
in heaven with You?  Please, God, please tell me.

Then a man in a striped suit grabbed me and
whispered something to me.  He said,  Hear O’
Israel the Lord our God,  the Lord is one,
and I thought of my papa.  The man tried
to hit me with his club, but a soldier
aimed at him with a gun and he threw me
into the fire.  And it hurt, God, it hurt
a lot.  And I screamed but no one listened.
I got burned alive, God.  Why didn’t You help?
Did I do something to make You angry?

And then they took all of our ashes and
loaded them into a truck.  They dumped us
into a big river, and we floated
away.  And it was cold again, terribly
cold like on the train.  And it was so dark.
God, where am I?  Where are we?  Are we with
You, God?  Where are You?  Where were You?  Please God –
Say something to me.  Anything.
Please?

Shalom
Anna

She awaits an answer.

****

And where is now my hope?
As for my hope, who shall see it?
They shall go down to the bars of the pit,
When our rest together is in the dust.
(Job 17:15-16)

Part II: The WAR in THE PACIFIC

EMERALDS OF SOLOMON

in distant view
horrors of times long passed are unimagined as
the emerald necklace of solomon lies awash in glistening azure sea
green rough cut stones strung invisibly together
on implied silken strands
swathed in peaceful beauty which belies the anguish of souls
who sleep
beneath mantles of blue and green
for all eternity

on closer view
blue waters of  the coral sea
lap sands and emerald shores of places known by men as
islands of solomon
so named by those who dreamed of wealth
but not of wisdom
of ancient king

Solomon

become today
a nom de guerre

emerald greens and azure blues
are stained with blood of war
ghosts reside ‘neath jungled canopies
alongside rusted artifacts and guns
near hollow shell of bunker
poinciana blooms by tulip tree
and weeping figs display their sorrow
with downward tilting boughs
though they do not know
nor can they know
the pain
befell the fallen dead.

history records both words and deeds
which flowered beauty neither heard nor saw
bougainville
guadalcanal
the slot
bloody ridge
iron bottom sound

the fate of nations hinged upon blood spilled
in erstwhile paradise
of emerald green and azure blue
where spirits cry in darkness

where even god might shed a tear
or so we hope.

****

THE MONUMENT

the smell of sulfur reeked the air
gassed from fiery pit beneath the earth
of island born of cataclysm
barren and alone
astraddle icy seas in path of winds
which blew ill fortune
in face of tens of thousands
whose duties were about to

Clash.

a mountain proudly stood on margin of the shore
wisps of putrid smoke vented from
its eerie yet familiar shape
which towered as if to watch
as if to wait
to serve its destiny as surely as proclaimed by god
whose hand  had sculpted monument
synonymous with

Fate.

they came on ships
some new to game of war but led by veterans of
murderous island battles
already won
or lost
and each was caused to ask himself over and again
the only question burned into his soul

When?

dug into black volcanic sand as batteries rained
fires of hell
from caves within the sculpted shape of stone
and from ravines and other scars
carved both by men and gods
thousands heard the answer

Now.

the battle raged for forty days and forty nights
and stole last breaths
in gruesome tally
of six-and-twenty thousand
souls
with equal numbers maimed and wounded
to claim but eight square miles
of ash and rock with heady price of

Death.

today an icon stands in hallowed place
in peace amongst the flowers
where soldiers
memorialized and cast in  bronze
forever raise their flag on
suribachi

Iwo Jima.

suribachi
a monument carved by hand of god
in distant view
foreboding shape of
tombstone
set on field of ash and blood
it well describes
a second
war to end all wars
memorial
to other millions

Dead.

echo now the living’s prayer
may guilty burn in hell
may innocents and
innocence
rest in peace
and beg we ne’er forget
for all eternity
the horror
of their passing.

Amen.
Amen.

****

G _ D HAVE MERCY

saipan
iwo jima
okinawa
Islands where battles raged to capture
stepping stones
to place the
empire of japan
within range of
bombers
and of
bombs

G _ D
have mercy

the toll in life snuffed or wounded
by flame and bullet
enormous
saipan
34,000
iwo jima
51,000
okinawa
205,000
and fateful lesson learned
‘twas said and written
invasion of japan would bear a cost in human life
unimagined
and far greater than any battle fought before in
all of human history

G _ D
have mercy

there had to be a better way

new mexico
july 16 1945
anno domini
at dawn a flash
described by witness as

. . . enormous ball of . . .
  fire
and closely resembled a

rising sun

a better way
now found
but now
the hour
is
late

later than e’er before

G _ D
have mercy

****

THE RISING SUN

a subtle crimson dawn
bears witness to the

rising sun

as drone of aircraft parts the tropic stillness
of oahu
without warning
flashes
explosions
and searing heat
begin their murderous task
of destroying fleet of ships
and sailors
amidst screams and death
in aftermath
silent determination signals that
the beginning of the end
is begun

then other places and other dawns
in consort with the

rising sun

turn the ocean red as if with blood
the stench of war prevails
and stench of death overwhelms
and sickens
all but gods of east and west
who remain curiously silent
unoffended by carnage beneath them on
bataan
midway
guadalcanal
saipan
okinawa
to name a few
now emerald tombstones
for untold tens of thousands

the inland sea
bears witness to the final dawn of war
as familiar drone parts the morning silence
unobtrusively
above the

land of rising sun

and lets drop its cargo
the soul of hell encased in steel
a flash
explosion
and mushroom cloud’s
atomic searing heat vaporizes
screams and moans
of all beneath this erstwhile devil’s

rising sun

hiroshima
where satan’s crimson dawn
lays carnage at the feet of men
and of gods who never cared enough
to halt atrocities
which tore their world to shreds
the heart of the

rising sun

finally stilled
alongside hearts of
innocents across the globe
the murdered dead
who whisper questions
through the dirt which overlies
their shallow graves

why
they ask
are all gods deaf
to prayers of the living
and deaf to screams
of dying and the dead
why is misery of carnage
always allowed to bear witness to the

rising sun

of yet another dawn
and we are not

?

****

¡HALLELUJAH!

germany surrendered
unconditionally
may 7 1945

anno domini

five years
eight months
seven days
beyond day one
and flow of european brimstone ceased
though well beyond the gates of hell
the maniacal
thousand year reich
died a fitting death
at age twelve years
four months
eight days

PRAISE BE TO GOD!
HALLELUJAH!

finis!
of this
the latest
 war to end all wars
september 2 1945

anno domini

as japan capitulated
on quarter-deck of dreadnought
uss missouri
at anchor in tokyo bay
these final words were spoken
by douglas macarthur
army general of the victors

let us pray that peace be now restored to the world
and that god will preserve it always

PRAISE BE TO GOD!
HALLELUJAH!

in global conflagration
fifty millions dead or missing
cities and nations now become
smoking rubble
through cause unjustifiable
by any measure of
sanity
or insanity

or PRAISE BE TO GOD
or HALLELUJAH

left behind a lexicon
of horror

auschwitz birkenau buchenwald treblinka bergen-belsen majdanek babi yar
pearl harbor bataan guadalcanal saipan iwo jima okinawa hiroshima nagasaki
Holocaust

to those who perished
by fetid hand of satan’s fetid soul

PRAISE BE TO GOD?
HALLELUJAH?

aftermath prophesied in
bhagavad gita

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst
at once into the sky
that would be like the Splendor of
The Mighty One . . .
‘I am become Death, Shatterer of Worlds.’”

EPITAPH:

IN HOC SIGNO

VINCES!

Ha…
Halle…
Hallelu…
¡JA!

Praise be to . . .

?

****

JOHN FRANCIS, R.I.P
Reflection after fifty years

John Francis was a soldier.
2nd Lt., United States Marines.
B. February 17, 1907.
D. October 22, 1942.
So reads the footstone which lies in shadow of marble pillars,
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,
Honolulu.

1942,
Anno Domini,
The year John Francis died
Dawned in fateful aftermath of Date of Infamy
And saw the world engulfed in war.
Young men across the globe heeded call to arms
Not knowing of their fate
Though each and all feared the worst.
As private prayers pursed their lips
Battles raged In Europe, Asia, and across the Pacific –
And everywhere, young men fell into the dark abyss
Of deathly silence –
‘Last full measure of devotion’ now complete,
Souls freed.

John Francis went to war in 1942 –
A Massachusetts Patriot
Descended of those who gave up all to leave their homeland
To seek a better life in a place far removed from what they knew –
A place removed from war.
And when the call to arms was issued
He was ready
To climb aboard a ship and sail
Toward battles already raging.
His duty, he knew, was to lead the fight –
To keep the flame of free men alive atop the pyre
Of human hope.
He didn’t know his fate, of course.
Such things are not written in advance for men to read.

John Francis fought the valiant fight until that fateful day –
October 22, 1942,
Anno Domini.
When then there came another call –
This time from his God.

And
Then
John Francis died.

John Francis was interred with honors due
The fallen,
Beneath the Emerald grass of Hawaii
In a somber place – a place which makes the living beg
The question and ask their God or gods –
Why?
Fifty millions dead –
Why?
Perhaps we’ll never know.

I found myself staring at the foot-stone of John Francis.
It was in an early row of graves, close to the ascending stairs.
The marble columns and the Garden of the Missing
Gleamed above the grass of the cemetery.
I lingered there, humbled,
Recalling things, histories,
And ironies.

For on the day John Francis died
Another life began, a full half-world away –
There was a birth, you see –
And the newborn heard no gunshots as he took his first breath.
Nor was he able to wonder if John Francis had heard the noise –
The summons of his God –
Which claimed his last
Breath.

John Francis shares a date with me –
His final day upon this earth
Was my first.
And after fifty years had passed I promised him –
As I stood in sunshine, free of war, alive
Upon his grave –
That I would not forget
His sacrifice.

John Francis
Fogerty.
R.I.P.

****

Part III: REBIRTH

THE FINAL GENESIS

(The Muse who speaks and writes herein is a composite
incarnation of the Nine Goddesses, daughters of Zeus)

The Muse is Dead!  Long Lives the Muse!

The Muse is dead, and, too, is God.
They lie here, buried, side-by-side
In marbled tomb;  Muse finds it odd
That fortune through the mist has cried
Her name – and placed her here atop
Such cold and mossy stone.  If He
Speaks to me, Muse asks, shall I drop
In feigned sleep, ignore His query?

But Muse, by cosmic rule, can never sleep;
Immortality – hers alone to keep.

The First Day
God speaks:

Muse, I see you finally rest alongside
me.  Our troubled paths have now been woven
into one.  Tell me some things.  Or perhaps
you have a question for me?  You always
were one to second guess everything I
spoke or wrote.  Why did you doubt me?  It was
I who created you, after all, and
I who gave you breath of voice.  Feel free to
speak – we are equals in this darkened tomb.

The Second Day
Muse:

I am the daughter of Zeus, who gave both
life and breath of voice to me.  I see no
reason to argue technicality
of creation.  Entombed, we are equals,
as you say.  This slab knows not its burden.

Beg not you feel I’ve written haughtily,
for that was not my course.  I’ve simply done
the things were asked of me.  I wrote your books,
and I was mouthpiece of your prophets and
even of your son.  I taught your children
well – Moses used my work to great avail.
I enjoyed my time with David, and with
Solomon and Job – they were willing souls
with visions only you could grant.  But my
greatest triumphs came through minds you blessed with
wisdom:  Socrates, for one, plus all of
them which followed or preceded.  The poets
and philosophers were easily inspired –
and through this day our thoughts and words persist.
But still I puzzle.  There were those who sought
my services with no illumination
in their minds, and I am wont to ask:
Why the mindless tyrants?  Can you explain?

The Third Day
God:

I offered men of peace to counteract
the tyrannies.  The despots were not mine,
but Satan’s servants.  And furthermore, I
sent musicians, poets, philosophers,
and artisans to weave a subtle cloth –
a tapestry of joy and happiness
for all my children.  And lest you forget,
it was you who spoke for me, and when you
failed, I accepted blame with willingness.

The Fourth Day
Muse:

And speak for them I did.  I penned each note
Of Mozart, and all the words of Shakespeare.
You may recall that it was I who wrote
The Magna Carta, plus documents which
followed well its premise.  But dare I make
a claim for thoughts or words which promise death?
No, Creator, such favors were neither
mine to grant nor rescind.  That choice was yours
alone.  And why, I ask, did you allow,
across millennia,  those words and deeds
of darkness which reflected lack of soul
to manifest themselves,  to overtake
your works?  You say you tried but I submit
you failed – creation was but the first step.

The Fifth Day
God:

How dare you doubt my purposes!  Had you
followed my decrees you’d be aware of
this:  Infinity is my domain, and
mine alone!  Mine is the only vision!
It was I who gave all space a reason
to exist, for by my hand there arose
from nothingness the beauties and the truths
you have seen and recorded.  It was I
who offered breath of life to those become
your minions.  Without me, you’d be nothing!

The Sixth Day
Muse:

Those are strong and haughty words from a God
who lies with me, His Muse, in this cold tomb.
It was you allowed your dominion to
become corrupted by those deeds which slew
your soul.  The final century of this
millennium surpassed in darkness all
which had gone before.  How many millions
died upon the sword of unimagined
tyranny?  I covet not such nightmares.
As Muse, it would be my duty to point
out that even God could never live with
such a burden.  It seems the fact that you
lie here with me upon this mossy stone
is proof that such conclusion is correct.

The Seventh Day
God:

You speak with passion, Muse.  I argue not
the clarity of your view.  And yes, it’s
true the fault was mine and mine alone. I
trusted my creation might evolve to
ascendancy with but the tools I gave
it.  You did your best – you guided well the
visions I had deemed would slay the Beast.  And
yet, the Beast has won the final battle.
As we lie here in darkness, he has free
reign to guide Apocalypse.  His Horsemen
can no longer be detained – creation
now is wed with Armageddon.  I weep
with you demise of wisdom as I shed
my final tear.  Muse, the hour is late. The
darkness is upon us, let us sleep now.

The Eighth Day
Silence

Darkness then became the cloak of God as
the entire of creation slipped slowly
into the abyss of The Holocaust,
and hopeless souls returned to dust and ash.

But Muse, by cosmic rule, can never sleep;
Eternity is hers alone to keep.

The Ninth Day
Genesis

The hooves of horses thundered through God’s tomb.
And four there were, with Death astride them all.
Then cold and darkness vanished from the room
As Beast himself tossed flames throughout the hall.

Satan speaks:

Creator!  Why sleep you here upon a
mossy slab?  You’re missing my impressive
show!  My servants have ripped your Earth to shreds,
and have sent countless millions to their graves!
I’ve taught them clever use of fire, and now
all creation is at risk!  My Kingdom
prospers in Germanic tongue, for I do
allow a single privilege, that they can
hear the final screams of victims even
as they pay their due to me!  And you, Muse,
I wondered where you’d gone, but now I see
you’re here in fitting dress – does not this cold
and darkness bother you?  My domain is
quite the opposite – perhaps you’ve made your
fatal miscue by ignoring my call!

Muse:

I cannot sleep, I cannot die, so long
As thoughtful minds persist upon the Earth.
And you, oh Beast, are surely not so strong
To stop my sacred charge;  for life is worth
Far more than you shall ever realize.
As Muse, I dwell in Truth for Beauty’s sake,
And Love, and Life, and Wisdom for the Wise,
But I choose not to feed the starving Snake.
So best advice from Muse is that you claim
Your victory o’er God while time permits.
Revel in hatred and eternal shame
Which you bequeath to all from fiery pits –
But this recall when hatred starts to dim:
‘Twas I who did create both you and Him!

Satan:

Ridiculous!  I do exist!  Are you
too blind to see?   And there lies God upon
his marble slab – what say you now of that?

Muse:

You’re both illusions in the minds of men.
I know, because I preened the thoughts and wrote
the words, I even gave you voice.  And you
persist through only ignorance.  When minds
develop fully and become aware
of their mistake, they’ll banish you and freeze
your fiery Hell.  But God shall rise again
in different form; next time I’ll get Him right!

And now I must leave.  Genesis begins
anew amidst the smoking ruins that some
of lesser mind have wrought.  I shall return
to seek out those whose vision can improve
the lot of man.  Beast, hear me well: abide
your time – remaining is but one cosmic
night of darkness till Final Genesis
concludes.  Then you, along with ignorance,
shall find yourselves alone and banished from
the minds of men on Earth, forevermore.

Muse left the tomb in gown of purple hue
As Beast and Corpus Dei there remained.
And she returned once more to Earth to view
The devastation and the graves still stained
In blood – armed with only Wisdom to imbue.

For Muse, by cosmic rule, can never sleep;
Infinity is hers alone to keep.

As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away,
so he that goeth down to the grave
shall come up no more.
(Job 7:9)

****

THE THIRD MILLENNIUM
A Spiritual Discourse

A Play in Three Acts
Live from Cosmic Hall

Setting:  In the waning cosmic moments
of the second millennium, common era;
Voices from the ether.

Act I

(Narrator):

The cosmic hall was darkened as it sat
In ether, far removed from human cares.
Inside, atop a well-worn woven mat
Were placed an ancient table, and five chairs.
A servant slowly shuffled in the room,
Arranging flowers in a crystal vase.
As flowers opened, sunshine broke the gloom,
And servant then unlocked a burnished case.
He spread the contents out upon the oak,
Appropriate for all invited guests,
Then on one chair he draped a purple cloak
Emblazoned with nine Grecian Goddess Crests.

When satisfied, he stooped to light a fire
Which crackled soon to life, removed the chill.
Outside, he lit a torch atop a pyre,
And coaches soon appeared on yonder hill.
Each came to halt before the ancient hall,
And ghostly horses pawed the graveled ground
As disembarked the passengers, who all
Retired inside – though voicing not a sound.
The servant motioned them to take a chair,
And held it as each member settled in.
He said, “Relax, ignore all cosmic care,
When Muse arrives, this session shall begin.”

A woman and three men were thus prepared
To meet their peers who once had lived, and wrote
As brethren of the Earth.  And each now shared
Old thoughts again, some in familiar note.
And then, as if in softest mystic dream
Arose an apparition in the gloom
Which filled the empty cloak from seam to seam,
And cast a purpled glow throughout the room.
She came as incarnation of the Nine –
The Goddesses, the Muses of the Crests
Which now appeared as intertwining vines
Well-laced within the fabric of her vest.

(Around the table sat four writers of the ages:  King Solomon, Aeschylus,  Omar Khayyam, and Emily Dickinson – spread before each, their collected writings, and on the shelves surrounding them, the sum total of recorded human thought)

The Muse begins:

A toast to you, my friends, we meet again!
Remember?  ‘Twas I inspired you to write
Your works, though sans your wisdom, I’d have been
Of little use.  I’ve summoned you in spite
Of  your dilemma which you know as death,
For only flesh is gone – your wisdom lives
And thus do you.  Your words deliver breath
Of life each day to souls awash; it gives
Them hope to know the Beauties and the Truths
You’ve seen and penned in your soliloquies.
I call on you because your wisdom soothes
The mind, and disavows the tendencies
Of graft so prevalent today on Earth.
So let us speak of Wisdom, and Rebirth!

Solomon:

Muse, wisdom is a curse for many souls
Recall my words:

And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to
know madness and folly:  I perceived that
this also is vexation of spirit.  
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he
that increaseth knowledge increaseth
sorrow…Better is an handful with
quietness, than both the hands full with
travail and vexation of spirit.

Muse:

My dear King, your words are true, but there are
thirty centuries passed since your reign.  Pray,
let me speak of  current times, and of what
has been wrought.

The final century of this current
millennium has well-defined both travail
and vexation of spirit.  Knowledge did
accumulate even as Wisdom stood
aside, and the result has been emergence
of  unimagined tyranny.  Fifty,
perhaps sixty million murdered dead have
been added to the roll, and in the short
space of six years, six million of your
descendants – Jews – were claimed by the hand of
a single despot.   War upon war has
been fought and either won or lost,  and yet
so few alive dare admit the folly.

Aeschylus:

Solomon, your point is well-taken.  I
fought the Persians after the desecration
of  Athens, and we defeated them at
Salamis and at Plataea.  There was
hope then, after years of struggle, that
Athenians might enter a new age
of prosperity and freedom.  The dream
came to pass, but was short-lived – fifty years
later, Sparta claimed the Acropolis.
Our victory over the Persians proved
to be nothing more than a temporary
victory over the barbarism
within ourselves.  We saw not wisdom; we
equated knowledge with wisdom.  A most
fatal mistake.

Muse:

A mistake, dear Aeschylus, which is being
repeated even as we speak.

Solomon:

He that digeth a pit shall fall into it.

Khayyam:

I’m reminded of a verse I penned a
near millennium past:

The Worldly hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face,
Lighting a little hour or two – is gone.

Perhaps that well-describes the brief
golden age of Athens spoken of by
Aeschylus?   Might it not also describe
the state of circumstance this day?  I penned
the words to tell of the curious fates of
unseeing Sultans who had, as you suggest,
no sense of even their own barbarism.
But might not the same words, on further reflect,
speak of the fleeting breath of Wisdom?

Solomon:

‘The fleeting breath of Wisdom’ is sadly
the lot of all men.

There is no remembrance of the wise
more than of the fool….seeing that which now
is in the days to come shall all be forgotten.
And how dieth the wise man?  As the fool.

Muse:

Must it be always thus?  Must Wisdom be
fleeting?  Must the wise man always die the fool?

Dickinson:

Yes, dear Muse, I fear such must always come
to pass.  Many have tried, most have failed, to
see Truth.  And with such scant knowledge of Truth,
what must be the fate of wisdom?  One may
try to go to bed with Truth at his side,
but what of the next day’s dawn?  Wisdom
is but a pawn – Truth is the King, Beauty
the Queen.  Without the two, Wisdom must die.

A darting fear – a pomp – a tear –
A waking on a morn
To find that what one waked for,
Inhales the different dawn.

Khayyam:

I think we need not lose all hope, so long
as men believe Wisdom is attainable.
But the search must never end – for then all
hope is dashed upon a rocky shoal.  We
must rather, it would seem to me,

make the most of what we yet may spend.

Ah, my Beloved, fill the cup that clears
Today  of past regrets and future Fears:
Tomorrow! – Why, Tomorrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n thousand Years.

Dickinson:

Oh, I do agree Mr. Khayyam.  My
point is simply this:  until Truth itself
is known and understood, there can be no
Wisdom.  For Truth is immutable, it
can never change or be altered  Thus it
is the foundation upon which Wisdom
is constructed.  We perhaps all know the
ancient parable of the fate of a
house built on sand – Wisdom built on less
than rock of Truth would prove of little use,
and would soon wash into the sea only
to be dashed upon rocky shoals.  ‘Tis not
the wise man who dieth as a fool, but
rather he who is a pretender to
Wisdom – for beneath such mask, the fool endures.

Aeschylus:

I concur. Wisdom not firmly rooted
in Truth slays the mind as ably as a
sword, and the death of the  mind is equal
in crisis to death of body or of soul.

By cunning we die, precisely as we killed.
Hand me the man-ax, someone, hurry!
Now we will see.  Win all or lose all,
we have come to this – the crisis of our lives.

Muse:

My friends, ‘tis time we rest.  I must say that
I remain astonished at your insights,
your wisdom has not paled within the tomb.
I suggest we pause and think a bit – shall
we agree to meet again when next the
Pleiades are at their zenith?  Perhaps
you will choose to absorb the history
of this century soon to end – for it
is our duty to guide the living in
transition to the Third Millennium
of this, the Common Era.  Our task is
enlightenment.  When we return, let us
speak of paths to Truth, for Wisdom remains
our goal.  Rest well: we have much work ahead.

(Whereupon all participants rose to greet the servant, and
he led them to their quarters).

(Narrator):

Then servant wandered slowly through the ancient room
Retrieving glasses flush with hints of fragrant wine.
Refreshed he was that sages rescued from the tomb
Were analyzing history and fate, a sign
To him that life need not be cloaked in doom

Act II

(The seven stars of the Pleiades are returned to their Zenith, and the servant has led the participants back to the ancient table.  He has poured the wine and spread the manuscripts out before them.  The Muse appears, and begins to speak.)

Muse:

I trust you’ve rested well, O my wise friends.
‘Tis time we now begin exploring ways
To guide our Earth-bound minions toward the ends
Of Truth and Wisdom that shall, through all days
And years which lie ahead, appear as light
To them.  Let us belay the cloak of dark,
Destroy the sword; illuminate the night
Where lives the soul of tyranny.  One spark
Is all it takes to light a fire.  It seems
We have agreement on the fact that Truth
Is the foundation, the shield by which dreams
Of men are spared the bite of serpent’s tooth.
But from where does Truth arise?  How to know
Its source?  Before one harvests, one must sow.

  Aeschylus:

There is throughout the world of men a lone
impediment to search for Truth and Justice,
and that is man’s eternal quest for Power.
Power is ascendant in the minds of
those who dare pretend to govern; it seems
an inborn evil siren call.  And when
such call is answered, the immediate
casualty is Truth, for Truth and Power
cannot coexist.  Power itself must yield
invariably to tyranny, just as
Wisdom yields to Truth.  Power and Wisdom
cannot stand as brothers, nor Justice with
The Damned.  ‘Tis whispered each must weep … alone.

Who, who can tear from the veins the bad seed,
the curse?  The race is welded to its ruin.

Solomon:

You are correct, Aeschylus.  Reflect on
these, my words of thirty centuries past –
and witness my mistake:  I failed to see
that Wisdom built on rock of Truth is the
only comforter of the human soul.

I…considered all the oppressions that
are done under the sun: and behold
the tears of such as were oppressed, and they
had no comforter; and on the side of
their oppressors there was power; but they
had no comforter.

Yea, better is he…who hath not seen the
evil work that is done under the sun.

I add now this:  He who eschews power
may dare seek Truth, but he who eschews Truth
seeketh not Wisdom and casts his lot in darkness.
Wisdom is the only true comforter,
and power the only true evil, and
therefore power is the enemy of all Truth.

Khayyam:

But is a land of scant power not subject
to be overrun by the strong barbarian?
With humble apologies to Aeschylus,
my forbears had little trouble with Athens,
at  least at first.  It was the bravery
and the power within which led Athenians
to their victories.  And was it not the
superior power of Sparta which stormed
the Acropolis and cut short the Golden
Age?  It would seem that power does indeed lend
itself to a single Truth, such being
that iron wills and sharpened swords prevail
o’er those of peaceful heart.  And what of the
moneychanger?  Is it not true that he
has power over the more benevolent
poor which walk in his midst?  Perhaps it could
be said the most fundamental of all
Truths is that power begets barbarism?

Dickinson:

You make a most interesting point, Mr.
Khayyam.  But I maintain there is even
a more fundamental Truth:  pray listen
as I recite a pair of simple verses:

I died for Beauty – but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth was lain
In an adjoining Room –

He questioned softly “Why I failed?”
“For Beauty,” I replied –
“And I – for Truth – Themself are One –
We Brethren are,” He said.

I believe the basis of Truth lies in
Beauty, not in evil.

Muse:

John Keats agreed with you, for I remember
well his words:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

But Mr. Khayyam has a valid point
as well – true Wisdom must include under
its umbrella an understanding of
all Truth, and as he suggests there also
is Truth in evil – as the survivors
of this current century’s holocausts
have perceived.

Dickinson:

Perhaps it could be said that true Beauty
lies in seeing Truth, no matter its source?
And he who knows all such Truth is wise?  We
are returned to the premise that Wisdom
is based only on Truth, but now perhaps
can agree that not all Truth is righteous?
Nor borne of Beauty?  That we can only be
assured of Truth’s infallibility?

Truth – is as old as God –
His Twin identity
And will endure as long as He
A Co-Eternity –

And perish on the Day
Himself is borne away
From Mansion of the Universe
A lifeless Deity.

(Narrator):

The servant cringed quite visibly, and spilled
some drops of wine.  And though he knew she could
not know of God’s demise and death,  he willed
himself to silence – for the common good.

Muse:

Suppose
that God is either myth, or dead.  What then?
Would humankind be any worse off than
now?    Recall that God has taken many
forms throughout the centuries, and much
unfortunate religious practice and
belief has been fomented in result.
And yet, must not we all ask where lies the
progression of human thought?  Do Deities
offer more than that which intelligence
might perceive on its own?  And how to explain
ignorance?  If men were created in
the image of a wise God, where lies the
Wisdom of his Creator?  Is Wisdom
excluded in the reflection?  If so,
why?  What is to be gained through pervasive
ignorance?

Dickinson:

Power.  It alone thrives on pervasive
ignorance.  Ignorance is, in fact, the
tool of the tyrant, for it is the
antithesis of both Reason and of
Wisdom.  Truth is forever concealed behind
the mask of ignorance, and the blind, thus
afflicted, cannot see.

Power is a familiar growth –
Not foreign – not to be –
Beside us like a bland Abyss
In every company –
Escape it – there is but a chance –
When consciousness and clay
Lean forward for a final glance –
Disprove that and you may –

Khayyam:

Yes, I agree.  And might I add that power
blinds those who sing its song, with end result
that blind do subjugate the blind in
mutual lament:

There was the door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see

Solomon:

The ultimate vanity is Power, not Wisdom,
as once I thought.

Aeschylus:

Yes, and I think we all agree that Power
is the seed of tyranny, and when such
is thus, Truth is hidden behind the veil,
and there can be no Wisdom.  Ignorance may
well be a gift of Deity, but one
which man would better refuse. Admit the
Truth that Power is evil and, as such,
precurses tyranny.  For only those
who have a means to measure the future
can guide it.  Left untended, the future
will be laid waste by tyrants; better it
be led by the wise.  Wisdom, if pervasive,
can splay the tyrant upon the rock, and
expose his evil intent.

Muse:

And what of the differences between
Knowledge and Wisdom?

Solomon:

Knowledge is fact alone, Wisdom is Truth.
A wise man possesses knowledge, but one
who possesses only knowledge surely
is not always wise.  Tyrants use knowledge
of fact to perpetrate their evil deeds,
but even as knowledge may allow the
sacking of a sister state, Wisdom would
choose the path of harmony. For it is
harmony that is the soul of Beauty,
and Beauty the soul of Truth, and Truth the
soul of Wisdom.

The words of wise men are heard in quiet
more than the cry of him that ruleth among
fools.  Wisdom is better than weapons of
war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

Muse:

Are the consequences of power always
tyranny?

Solomon:

When the Egyptians were in a position
of power over the Israelites, tyranny
prevailed.  Nor was Babylon a pleasure
for those in her path

Aeschylus:

And pray we not ignore the Assyrians,
or the Persians, or the Spartans. Or, for
that matter, the Kingdoms of David and
Solomon.

Solomon:

My father and I ruled with benevolent
hand for the glory of God!

Aeschylus:

Perhaps those you conquered would disagree?

Khayyam:

Many have ruled for the glory of their
God, and Deity in any form has
always been a favoured excuse of the
tyrant.  I submit that from the moment
the first hints of human society
evolved, the worship of a Deity
implicitly allowed any manner
of rape, pillage, or plunder as apropos.
So let us be honest amongst ourselves
and admit that Deity is always
deemed expedient to the siren call
of Power and Wealth, with tryanny thus
henceforth justified.

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my credit in the World much wrong:
  Have drown’d my Glory in a shallow Cup,
And sold my Reputation for a Song.

Aeschylus:

And may I add:

Bastions of wealth
are no defense for the man
who treads the grand altar of Justice

Dickinson:

I fear I must agree.  If we examine
only the Christian era we find that,
in spite of the gentle and wise teachings
of Christ, much atrocity was committed
in His name.  I seem to recall that the
Spanish Inquisition alone claimed the
lives of  some thirty million souls.  And my
own forebears sought to cleanse America
of its native peoples who were, in their
eyes, but heathen savages.  And all the
while these erstwhile men of God paid homage
to the teachings of the Christ.  Thus to
the conquerors went the spoils, though ‘twas ‘neath
the Icons of their Gods that Wisdom
perished – and the darkness of Hell abides.

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers –
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon –
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection –
Rafter of satin,
And roof of stone.

Light laughs the breeze
In her Castle above them –
Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,
Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence –
Ah, what sagacity perished here!

Muse:

Unfortunately, I fear your conclusions
are correct.  There is scant evidence that
Deities have ever been the guides of
men.  If you doubt me, view the records of
history.  Read of Egypt, of Babylon,
of Assyria, of Persia, of Rome,
and yes, of Greece.  Reflect upon exploits
of Genghis Khan, of Attila and the
Huns.  And note that blood of Christ has spilled
across the globe.  Understand brutalities
of followers of Prophet Muhammad,
then ask, as do I, why?  Is atrocity
truly the will of Deity?  If so,
what is it that separates Heaven from Hell?

Solomon:

Such is left for only God to know, for
it is written that the Wisdom of God
together with His ways shall forever
remain a mystery to men, even to
men of faith.  For men are loathe to understand
the mind or means of God.

Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this
is the whole duty of man.  For God shall
bring every work into judgement, with
every  secret thing, whether it be good,
or whether it be evil.

Aeschylus:

In other words, God is swathed in secrecy?
He allows knowledge, but not Wisdom?
Without Wisdom, how can man know what is
evil?  Knowledge makes no distinction between
good and evil.  It would seem that in a
world of escalating knowledge scant of
Wisdom as a guide, atrocity would
magnify and grow to unimagined
size.  This is the intent of a wise God?

So, you can sleep . . .
Awake, awake – what use are sleepers now?
I go shorn of honor, thanks to you,
alone among the dead.  And for those I killed
the charges of the dead will never cease, never –
I wander in disgrace, I feel the guilt, I tell you,
enormous guilt from all the outraged dead!

Muse:

I’m reminded here of words I penned for
William Wordsworth:

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Does he not describe a consequence of
a world of men devoid of Wisdom?

Dickinson:

Yes.  Wordsworth knew Beauty, and therefore Truth.
He further wrote:

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
And yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

…Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears.
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Those are words of one who understood that
Truth is, in Solomon’s words, the soul of
Wisdom, and Beauty – the soul of Truth.

Muse, it seems we have concluded several things:
Wisdom is dashed by Power upon the rock-
strewn shore of tyranny; Beauty and Truth –
the souls of Wisdom – are not seen by the
powerful, because Power blinds both mind
and eye.  ‘Tis Power which well-defines the
barbarism within ourselves – that ancient
woeful curse – which forever thrives.

As old as Woe –
How old is that?
Some eighteen thousand years –
As old as Bliss
How old is that?
They are of equal years

Together chiefest they are found
But seldom side by side
From neither of them tho’ he try
Can Human nature hide.

Aeschylus:

But the lust for power never dies –
men cannot have enough.
No one will lift a hand to send it
from his door, to give it warning,
“Power, never come again!”

It is in those words wherein resides the
crux of the human dilemma.

Muse:

I believe we are seeing patterns as
our thoughts progress.  Shall we, do you think, now
define Power as a barbarism
within the self?  And Wisdom as a
harmony borne of Beauty and of Truth?
But what then of Love?

Solomon:

Love is the equal of Beauty, for Love
reflects harmony of self just as Beauty
reflects harmony of life.  They walk as
kindred souls together, and he who lives
with both shall surely perceive Truth and
become wise, for Love and Beauty are the
twin essences of Truth.

Khayyam:

Ah, the Wisdom of Solomon!  Imagine
if ‘twas true that Love and Beauty became
the essences of the human soul as well!

Would but the Desert of the Fountain yield
One glimpse – if dimly, yet indeed, reveal’d
  To which the fainting Traveller might spring
As springs the trampled herbage of the field!.

Dickinson:

Love is beautiful indeed, and the soul
which sees love becomes, with Beauty, a guide
to Truth –  of that there can be no doubt. But
still remains a problem:

Love – thou art Veiled –
A few behold thee –
Smile – and alter – and prattle – and die –
Bliss were an Oddity without thee –
Nicknamed by God –
Eternity.

How to show the living the Beauty of
Love, and the joys of Truth and Wisdom?

Servant:

Pray beg your forgiveness of me – I speak
without invitation.  But all which you
discuss is the true purview of God, is
it not?  I submit God has failed, and in
result, darkness of Power has prevailed
to overcome the quest for Wisdom.  Power
allows not Wisdom, nor Truth, nor Love, nor
Beauty.  In darkness there is no Harmony,
there is no light.  And the soul cannot long
endure when shorn of Beauty or of Love.

And such it is that’s been the fate of God.

Muse:

My friends, there is one thing you do not know –
All Gods of men are dead, succumbed.  Their fate
Was handed them by evil hand below –
Souls crushed beneath pervasive power of hate.
And now they lie, interred, in marbled tomb –
A just reward for Gods who could not see
That Wisdom is sole glory of the womb,
And Truth, the only course to harmony.
For us, a single task remains ahead –
To re-create a God to guide the race,
Who’ll save the souls of all the murdered dead –
A God of Truth, not one of empty space.
And might I add that now has come the hour
To dis-imbue mankind’s romance with Power.

(Narrator):

Then servant bowed, and led all to their rooms
That each might now reflect upon their goals
Of sparing men the final heinous dooms,
The dashing of all hopes on rock-strewn shoals.

(The stars of the Pleiades slipped below the horizon – and as they
did so, hailed the approaching cosmic dawn).

Act III

(The Cosmic Hall was silent as the sages slept, but Muse can never sleep.
And thus a journey of enlightenment was about to commence)

(Narrator):

Each relaxed in swath of Galactic sleep
Till Muse appeared within their dreams, to grace
Their souls with a most fantastical leap –
A journey to the stars at starburst’s pace.

Five traveled toward the Pleiades, and songs
Of Cosmic Beauty filled their minds with light.
And though at rest, each sensed eternal wrongs
Which burdened Cosmic Truth with senseless blight.

Then stardust of the Seven Nymphs became
Their stepping stones, and they looked back toward Earth
To see it as the faintest spot – the wame
Of life, the planet of their human birth.

And sad they were to note that darkness of
Earth’s aura spoke of tyranny and hate,
But not of Wisdom, Beauty, Truth, or Love –
And thus revealed some hints of human fate.

Then screams of murdered dead did fill their ears,
As souls awoke from their eternal rest
To fill the ether’s black with cries and fears
No God had heard – in message for the guests.

As they returned again to Cosmic Hall,
Their tears were drawn as if from deepest well,
For voices of the dead were heard to call:
“If this is Heav’n, pray spare us, God, of Hell.”

Each wakened as the servant poured the wine
And filled the glasses set upon the oak.
And overhead, the Pleiades did shine
In heightened glow – with Wisdom to evoke.

(The servant lit seven candles, each in a holder made of purest gold.  The
Seven Nymphs, the Pleiades, the daughters of
Atlas and Pleione, now had a home in Cosmic Hall).

Muse:

Welcome back, my friends, I trust your respite
has been restful?  Pray, were your dreams so bold
as mine?

Solomon:

I dreamed of travel to the stars beyond
and thought I was about to see the face
of God himself, for all surround was bathed
in brilliant light.  But then, as I turned
about to view from whence I came, I heard
a moan which chilled the very depths of my
soul.  It was, I thought, the screaming of
the dead in Hell.

Aeschylus:

And I saw row upon endless row of
corpses with hollowed eyes.  And many called
out to me their innocence – that they felt
the hand of death even as they begged their
God to intercede, but He did not.   I
shudder even now at the memory.

Dickinson:

I saw a tiny child, a girl I think,
tossed live into a fire.  And her screams shall
evermore haunt my tomb.  I saw not God,
nor did I sense His presence.  As I heard
the cries of the dead, I could think only
of the sadness of the Truth of life:

Finding is the first act
The second, loss,
Third, Expedition for
The “Golden Fleece”
Fourth, no Discovery –
Fifth, no Crew –
Finally, no Golden Fleece –
Jason – sham – too.

Muse:

You saw the souls and heard the cries of those
whose lives were stolen from them.  Abandoned,
they were, by the embers of their dying gods.
You saw the hollow remnant of uncontrolled
tyranny become wanton death.  There is
no Beauty standing with those souls, nor Love,
for such was left behind, untended.  As
threads interwoven within life’s fabric
were burned to ash in Earthly hell, both life
and eternity became, to each, but
a lonely reflection of days long passed –
now only agony persists.

Khayyam:

As a youth, I had a vision, thus:

Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate;
And many a Knot unravel’d by the Road;
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.

Pray tell, is this what I have finally seen?

Muse:

You have seen the fate of souls that died in
view of gods who listened not to their cries,
nor heard their prayers.   And now all gods are dead,
their souls speared by the lance of ignorance
which they created.  Darkness rules, there is
no longer light – the Master-knot of Human
Fate has been exposed for you to see.  What
say you now of that?

Solomon:

I say ‘tis time for Wisdom to prevail,
that lust for pow’r be subdued.  I kneel here
before my God and beg forgiveness, for
I, too, was guilty of the gravest sin.
I saw myself as strong and wise, but I
used my wisdom as a tool to gain both
power and wealth at the expense of those
who trusted me to lead them.  I was not a
leader, I was a despot.  How many
souls I banished to a mournful eternity
I cannot say.  Thirty centuries have
passed since my time on Earth concluded, and
only now it is that I see my path
in life was ill-chosen: the hollow souls
now speak to me, and I have heard their cries.
My Wisdom was borne of ignorance.

Aeschylus:

My Athens, even in her golden age,
was no better.  It seems that lust for power
is inborn in even the best of men,
and though the poor pray their gods for harmony
within their most meager existence, this
solemn Truth remains: Power begets but pain.

Muse:

I recite the words of Kahlil Gibran,
a poet of this current century:

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the Physician
within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink
his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is
guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn
your lips, has been fashioned of the clay
which the Potter has moistened with His
own sacred tears.

Perhaps therein he speaks of the pain you
feel for Athens, and for her wanton souls?

Khayyam:

Or perhaps he speaks of more as well?

“All this of Pot and Potter – Tell me, then,
who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

Is God the creator of man, or man
the creator of God?  And in either
case, how is it God is dead while man still lives?

Muse:

Implicit Wisdom in the human soul
is seen by man as God, and thus defines.
But it is Wisdom by itself, alone,
which dares confront and challenge tyranny.
I’ve told you God is dead, which is as much
to say that chaos born of tyranny
has overwhelmed collective mind of man,
all gods thus slain.  Mankind therefore has but
one faint hope – rebirth of Wisdom, and hence
rebirth of God.

Solomon:

Wisdom is attainable only through
knowledge and understanding of the
immutable: Truth.  If Wisdom is the
manifest of God, then Truth must be
the substance of God.  Is it not a danger
for man to be imbued with such power?

Aeschylus:

It is only through Wisdom that man can
overcome the barbarism in his
soul.  Wisdom is not a power as we’ve
discussed Power, for Power is naught but
ignorant intent engaged.  Truth is the
light, ignorance the dark.  Truth is to the
dark as the star is to the night time sky.
Illumination is not a threat to
any other than darkness, or ignorance.

Dickinson:

The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

The stars in the night sky are a metaphor,
perhaps – spots of light on a carpet of
black – far easier to view than to stare
directly into a blinding sun.

Khayyam:

The night sky shows the way – the stars themselves
seem to represent Truths emanating
from the dark of ignorance, and the
panorama thus presented to the
seeing eye is intelligence – Wisdom.

Muse:

Recall your journeys to the Pleiades –
you found their light was lovely to behold,
and in result the veil was lifted from
the darkness of the surround.  Wisdom
encompasses all, and recognizes
even the Truth of evil, of darkness.
For should it fail to illuminate, Truth
would betray the wise, and that it cannot do.
There are paths to Wisdom.  What say you now
of them?

Solomon:

Wisdom is all knowledge, born of Truth. It
is Truth which must be sought.

Aeschylus:

And Wisdom is, then, of itself, an
expression of Truth.  Therefore, the complete
of Wisdom is immutable.

Khayyam:

Truth is absolute, and thus is Wisdom
absolute.  But what of the foundation?
Must it not also be absolute?

Dickinson:

The paths to the absolute must not wander.
Vision is the necessity, for to
traverse the darkness, one must see.  The guides
and goals are but points of light, and without
vision they remain veiled and formless..

Khayyam:

And wherefrom derives this vision?

Solomon:

Vision is intelligence.  Neither can
exist except in consort with the other.
And in opposition to intelligence
is ignorance – as opposite to vision
as darkness is to light.

Dickinson:

No, I disagree.  There are no opposites
in all of creation.  Ignorance and
intelligence are entities unto
themselves, and though each wanders about in
opposing direction, each remains
unique.  To be opposite, things must exist
in precisely the same quantity, for
all in the Universe seeks such balance.
And just as light is not the opposite
of dark, so is hate not the opposite of Love.

Aeschylus:

Everything, then, is an absolute?

Solomon:

And I suppose a lie is therefore a
Truth?

Dickinson:

There can be no denial that lies exist,
therefore the Truth of the lie is in its
existence.  Just as the Truth of evil
is that evil exists.  Evil may be
born of lies, but that fact does not detract
from the immutable Truth that each exists.

There is but one absolute in all of
existence, and that absolute is Truth itself.

Khayyam:

Then what of Love and Beauty?  Were we not
in agreement that such were foundational
to Truth?

Dickinson:

Love and Beauty are foundational only
in that possession of their virtue allows
seeing. Truth is not, therefore, the purview
of the ignorant who cannot see.  The
only Truth in ignorance is that it exists.

Aeschylus:

I agree.  Love and Beauty are not each
absolute in themselves..  Only their
existence is absolute.  And he who
sees Beauty and understands Love is thus
prepared to find Truth, and therefore Wisdom.

Dickinson:

That is my view.  Beauty is a thrust
in search of the absolute, of perfection.
Beauty is the ultimate revelation
of perfection in the eye of the mind,
and Love is the reflection of Beauty
in the Soul.  When one gives Love to another,
one gives the Beauty he has seen, and asks
no more reward than that which Beauty has
already given.

Solomon:

And what of those who take, not give?  Might not
they also find the path to Truth, ergo
Wisdom, and then subvert Wisdom to become
Tyranny?

Dickinson:

No.  For takers know not the joy of giving,
and therefore cannot comprehend Beauty.
Beauty is the gift of Eternity
to those who dare to see, and Love becomes
the further gift, the light which guides the way
to Truth itself.  All are as tendrils
intertwined, and manifest as Wisdom –
which is the flower of Truth, bathed forever
in the illumination of Love and Beauty.

Beauty – be not caused – it is

Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality.

Muse:

And pray let me add the line you dropped:

Nay, it is Deity.

And therein, my friends, lies the key.  Mankind
requires guidance from a God, no matter
whether God be of man’s own design or
not.   I have a vision that the lost souls
we encountered on our journey to the
great beyond are destined to become our
messengers, that they shall be reborn upon
the Earth and carry with them the essence
of what it is we have here discussed.  I
see them as bearers of the light, and through
such light, the reincarnate God of man
shall manifest.  What say you now of that?

Solomon:

If God is dead, wherefrom derives this new
majesty?  And further, if all gods are
but a creation of the mind of man,
how are we to be a party to this
rebirth, since we ourselves are of the world
of man, but now forever dead and gone?

Muse:

We have rejoined the infinite, for such
is the nature of the spirt, the nature
of the soul.  And may I say this: God is,
as we have discussed, a creation of
man as much as is man a creation
of God.  But still remains one Truth which you
have seen and herein lives again: the soul
of all life is Eternal.  Flesh comes and
finally withers, but the spirit is
constant, and awaits only the moment
of rebirth.

Solomon:

Muse, who are you?

Muse:

I am naught but the wind which blows forth the
inspirations of the minds of those who
live upon our Earth.  I am the true guide
of each celestial intuition.   I
am sometimes called Urania, but
with you I am each the sisters nine, we
who are the daughters of Zeus and of
Mnemosyne, inspirers of learning
and the arts. I’m sure you all recall our
presence as you penned your Earthly legacies.

Solomon:

You are the source of what was our Wisdom?

Muse:

The Wisdom was yours alone, my friends. I
was but the wind which carried thoughts from mind
to pen to written page.

Dickinson:

Through you, dear Muse, we slowly came to know
and understand the Truths which further lit
our paths – from inspirations carried in
your wind derived the light which so allowed
our eyes and minds to finally see the Truth.

We learned the Whole of Love —
The Alphabet — the Words —
A Chapter — then the mighty Book —
Then — Revelation closed —

But in Each Other’s eyes
An Ignorance beheld —
Diviner than the Childhood’s —
And each to each, a Child —

Attempted to expound
What Neither — understood —
Alas, that Wisdom is so large —
And Truth — so manifold!

Khayyam:

How satisfying the thought that sometimes – through
the desert sands which quite obliterate
the tracks and trails of even sultans and
their caravans – can spring a wisp of Truth
which carries forth its message on the wind!

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
and with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d —
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

Aeschylus:

My Athens may not have long survived her
golden age, but yet the records of her
philosophical accomplishments do
still persist in written form, and glow in
shadow of her temples, all now crumbled
and in ruin.

Solomon:

And yet, Muse,  you say the Earth is no more
safe ensconced within the arms of God, that
God and Gods are dead by methods of their
own design?  Muse: how fit we and you, then, within
this scheme of things entire?

Muse:

All things which man cannot behold he sees
and feels within his depths of consciousness.
Man needs both God or gods and Muse alike,
and therefore sees us each as entities
which guide collective destiny of all
within the realm of grand creation as
perceived.  In such regard are all the gods
both creator and created – a strange
but genuine dichotomy which serves
to lead man forward into times unknown
and moments not yet lived.  ‘Tis “I” man calls
upon to transfer each idea drawn
from ether of the mind to form each new
reality.  And though I do exist
as but a spirit in the space which lies
beyond the conscious realm, the essences
I bring to bear oft yield sweet fruits of Truth.
And as you see, you’ve joined with me, and our
collective spirits are now the force which
destiny decrees shall re-direct the
minds – and hence the deeds – of men existing
now on Earth.  So let us then commence and
bring, to man, his God’s rebirth. What say you?

Dickinson:

Can the dumb – define the Divine?
The definition of Melody – is –
That definition is none.

Khayyam:

Would you that spangle of Existence spend
About THE SECRET — quick about it, Friend!
A Hair perhaps divides the False from True —
And upon what, prithee, may life depend?

Solomon:

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall
be; and that which is done is that which shall
be done: and there is no new thing under
the sun.

Aeschylus:

O dark prophetic speech,
Ill tidings dost thou teach
Ever, to mortals here below!
Ever some tale of awe and woe
Thro’ all thy windings manifold
Do we unriddle and unfold!

Muse:

My friends, your wisdom doth exceed my dreams!
And now ‘tis well the time we move ahead
to resurrect the souls of God and gods
who vanished from the minds of man as war
and Holocaust engulfed their Earth.

(Narrator):

Their conversations carried forth till dawn
And then through cosmic days and through each night
Till Pleiad Nymphs had ten times come and gone;
And Muse declared “This time we’ll get Him right.”
The Guests pored o’er each word mankind had penned
In search of books with clarity of mind.
They wondered of the spirit they might send
To speak but Truth … more Truth, therefrom, to find.
They combed each book before they saw their choice
Arise as if from ashes of her life –
She’d perished in the fires which stilled her voice
Just as she begged that God relieve her strife.
Her ashes, freed of pain from life she’d led
Knew not, when last she prayed, her God was dead.

And as the Guests discussed each fact they’d read,
New letters dawned, projected on the wall;
Named they a spirit soul amongst the dead –
As choice to visit Earth from Cosmic Hall.

Muse:

I see you’ve made your choice, my friends,
To carry forth our task;
I know the girl, recall her well –
Just as she died, she dared to ask:
God, Where are you?
 Where were you?
She did not understand, but yet she tried.

Dickinson:

I know of her, she haunted me in recent
dream. I saw her tossed, alive, into a
fire.  Pray tell, is that the one?

Muse:

Yes.

Solomon:

Her task is surely not a simple one.

That which is far off, and exceeding deep,
who can find it out?

Khayyam:

It seems we here begin by providing
a new dawn to illuminate the darknesses
thus far fomented by the span
of man’s earthly existence.  This task, so
notes Solomon with wisdom pure, “is surely
not a simple one” – albeit crucial
if our race is to survive itself and
the “barbarism within ourselves” – so
noted earlier by Aeschylus.  For
my part I have but this to add:

WAKE! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, and strikes
The Sultán’s Turret with a Shaft of Light.

Let us not forget – it is this shaft of
light from which we gain the tool to slowly
banish darkness from the soul of mankind.

Aeschylus:

 Spring forth, with promise fair, the young child Light.
Ay – fairer even than all hope…

Shall Truth of God and gods the chosen child
bring?  Or seek? Impose?

Muse:

Tasks which lie ahead are far from simple
ones.  Beliefs of men are scattered by the
winds, with concepts and  identities of
their God and gods quite manifest, both well-
and un-defined.  But each and every god
possessed one single trait which damned them all:
the Power to annihilate.

‘Tis Power, once again, that veils all realms
of Beauty, Truth, and Love and Harmonies
which, if seen by eyes and minds in ways as
we’ve discussed, are fundaments of Wisdom:
that final goal to which we all aspire.

Solomon:

God’s power over man derived from man’s
perception – God created and thereby
owned man’s body and his soul: thus Moses
wrote in Genesis and the Pentateuch.

Muse:

Genesis is but a metaphor which
helps explain all origins to minds not
able to comprehend the vastness of
the Natural Laws which govern all of life.
All Truths await in Nature to be seen,
and from such base new Deity shall rise
with guidance from wise spirits such as you.
Our child will grow and come to show the world –
at first just vaguest hints of Deity –
new gods or God now in command of man’s
fortunes; gods now armed with Love, not Pow’r nor
fear; with Harmony, with Truth, and Beauty
understood; to show the paths to Wisdom,
hence rebirth: Rebirth
of each the gods and every soul of man.

Consider too the gifts that each of you
bring forth – inspire the child with knowledge built
of history, of living, and of life
itself.  Speak to her of ancient conflicts,
of tyrannies long passed; of Sultans and
an Eastern point of view; walk with her amongst
the bees and flowers, and speak to her of
sunrise and colors in the sky.  Suggest
she read of ancient ones – of pyramids,
of sailors, and of builders’ use of stone
and clay. Teach her to see and hear the voices
carried on the wind, from howling of the
wolf to buzzing of the bee; let her
behold from there the Wisdoms of both wild
and Wilderness, and lessons therefrom gleaned.
Above all else, teach her how to dream, for
‘tis through dreams that children learn to see
beyond one flat dimension, and into
further, more distant and revealing realms.

And when her thoughts have formed clear views, and
Harmony is norm to her, I’ll guide her
pen and help her write of Deity and
Deities which fear do not demand,
nor Power do express.  What say you now
of that?

Dickinson:

May I repeat some of which earlier
I spoke?  Perhaps it best sums up my thoughts
each on Love and Immortality, and
what is meant by God, and Life, an earthly
goal, perhaps:

Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality,
Nay, it is Deity —

Unable they that love — to die
For Love reforms Vitality
Into Divinity.

I shall willingly proceed, and wander
once again amongst the flow’rs and the bees.
The voices which I’ll hear are Anna’s to
declaim.

Aeschylus:

Perhaps my duty lies in teaching her
the vilest and the darkest side of men
who use their gods to justify their needs,
inborn, to wage war upon enemies
created in their minds – all for but to
exculpate their use of Pow’r to feed their
lowly selves: I know them well.

Lusting for war, the bloody arbiters
Closed heart and ears, and would not hear nor heed
The girl-voice plead,
Pity me, Father! nor her prayers,
Nor tender, virgin years.

Solomon:

I, perhaps, should guide her past the wiles of
self, a lesson I found hard to learn.

I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the
labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and
vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Khayyam:

And I shall begin by stating lesson learned!

Ah Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits — and then
Re-mold it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

Muse:

I think we all agree, and see just where
we each uniquely fit.  I propose we
meet again in Cosmic Hall and speak
once more on matters which we might locate
or which we deem concern us all.  Meanwhile
we forward move.  I’ll have our servant here
see Anna’s spirit back to Earth, to there
rejoin the living on the day the Third
Millennium turns.  Within a hundred
Earthly years, we should know if man accepts
his fate.

Dickinson:

Muse, pray tell, who is the servant in this
Hall?  He seems so kind, so wise.

Muse:

You’re quite perceptive, dare I say!  The servant
is the spirit of the God who passed while I
was there with Him.  He’s left his Pow’r behind,
encased in stone upon the slab, thus for
servitude, exchanged; He saw what Pow’r misused
had wrought and left it there where it belongs,
alone in silent chill.  Once Anna
redefines Him, he’ll dwell within the hearts
and minds of man again – this time he’ll ask
no fear and offer naught but Love and guidance
forth, toward Truth.

Solomon:

And what of Satan, Muse?

Muse:

The beast, like God and gods alike, shares the
same dichotomy of creator and
created – both in and by the mind of
man. The Beast is but a counterpoint to
help explain to men of little scope a
reason for the evils that they see.  As
Love and Beauty lead the race to Truth,
as Wisdom slow takes hold, the memory
of the Beast will fade until he’s finally gone,
His Hell an icy grave for evil minds.

Khayyam:

I sense it’s time to leave: our Caravan awaits!

(Narrator):

Ten horses and five carriages returned to Cosmic Hall –

The servant  showed the Guests the way,
And led them past ten steeds:
Anxious, nervous, ghostly horses
Pawing at the graveled ground.

Then as the coaches pulled away
And crossed the distant hill,
The servant polished ancient oak,
And set aside the mats.

With care, he folded purple cloak,
Upon which lay nine crests;
He stowed it safely in a drawer
And made the latch secure.

He sealed the wine, then closed the drape
And checked that fire was out,
Then stepped outside, extinguished there,
The flame atop the pyre.

Then as the servant walked away
And vanished in the mists,
He pondered what his fate might be –
Beyond His marbled tomb.

When several Cosmic Days had passed,
The Muse returned to Earth –
And when the child – a girl – was born,
Muse stood within the room –

And though none there but Muse could see –
Her purple glow did warm
The child, in signal of rebirth;

And Guests and Spirits saw –

As Pleiades sent forth the light
Which transposed Earthly glow
From black to bold celestial white –
Their message to all souls.

(Muse began her work that day, for she can never sleep:  
She has responsibility – Eternity to keep)

   ~ For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  
But when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part
shall be done away. ~
(I Corinthians , 13:9-10)

~FINIS~

****

Bibliographic Notes

Throughout Emeralds and Ashes there appear quotations, some credited specifically as they appear while others – especially in The Third Millennium – are presented as if in dialog.  Following are the source citations for each quotation not directly attributed at point of appearance.

Aeschylus: The Oresteia; Robert Fagles, Translator; Viking Press, NY, 1975.

Dickinson, Emily: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson; Johnson, Thomas H., ed.;  Little, Brown and Co., Boston.

Poems Cited (First Lines)

That this should feel the need of Death …
A darting fear – a pomp – a tear …
I died for Beauty – but was scarce …
Truth – is as old as God …
Power is a familiar growth …
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers …
As Old as Woe …
Love – thou art high …
Finding is the first Act …
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant …
Beauty – be not caused – It Is …
Unable are the Loved to die …
We learned the Whole of Love …
By my Window have I for Scenery …
Unable are the Loved to die …

Gibran, Kalil: The Prophet (from On Pain); Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1966.

Khayyam, Omar: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; “Immortal Poems of the English Language”; Williams, Oscar, ed.; Washington Square Press Pocket Books, New York.

Solomon: The Holy Bible; King James edition, Ecclesiastes.
“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1)

Wordsworth, William: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood; “Wordsworth: Poetical Works,” Thomas Hutchinson, ed.; Oxford University Press, New York.

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 7th, 2012: Monday Mix

Today’s mix is comprised of some recent articles which caught my eye on Foreign Policy Magazine and on Yahoo!News.

When I first clicked on Foreign Policy’s link entitled “A brilliant long rant about Iraq” by Thomas E. Ricks, I thought it was going to be Tom Ricks ranting about Iraq. However, it turned out to be Ricks’ brief introduction to an upcoming book called “The Long Walk” by Brian Castner. Ricks’ article includes a dozen or so evocative quotes from the book which, although worlds away from my own personal “Year from Hell”, touched a nerve of recognition in my brain. “The Long Walk” sounds like it will be well worth the read; I also found the comments after the article fascinating, and I strongly suggest reading those as well.

For all of the dog lovers amongst us, one of FP’s “Photo Essays” is “War Dogs of the World.” Not exactly cute puppy pics, but fascinating shots of soldiers and their canine teammates.

Two connecting articles at Yahoo!News drew my attention: in chronological order, a generic-drug manufacturer in India will be copying, and undercutting the price of, a cancer drug for which Bayer hold a patent, obviously pissing off Bayer. I’m rooting for the Indian drug company, Cipla, since their motivation is humanitarian: they’ll be selling the drug for about 1/30th of the cost of Bayer’s version.

Lastly, three Putin stories: Today Vladimir Putin will be sworn in as President of Russia, and apparently not all Russians are happy about this. And on a lighter(?) note, another “Photo Essay” from FP, titled “Putin Forever.”

Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — discuss one of the above topics, or whatever’s on your mind!

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 12

Chapter Twelve, the final chapter of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “Conclusion: Tag, You’re It!”

As bad as things are in this country now, we’ve been here before — in the time of the Robber Barons in 19th century America, and during the Great Depression of the 20th century — and we

endured even tougher times before and during our quest for independence from England.

 

Our economy is in tatters, the result of more than 30 years of Reaganomics and Clintonomics. Our democracy is hanging by a thread, the result of 40 years of radical Supreme Court decisions steadily advancing the powers of corporations and suppressing the rights of individuals and their government. And our environment is trembling under the combined assault of the Industrial Revolution and nearly 7 billion bundles of human flesh.

It’s the perfect time. We are clearly at a nexus, a threshold, a tipping point. If the past is any indicator, things will get worse before they get better, but in that tragedy will be both the catalyst and the seeds for a very positive future.

If we’ve learned anything in the last ten years, it’s that we can’t keep doing the same old thing while expecting a different result.  We need to be shaken out of our complacency and learned helplessness, and I think the protests in Wisconsin just might be a starting point.  What do you think?

I know one thing for sure:  When President Obama can stand behind his podium and say to the giant corporations and the top 2%,  “I welcome their hatred,” we will be on our way to being a great nation once again, and he will be remembered as one of the greatest Presidents this country has ever had.

The big question now is, will he…?

Actually, we can’t leave it up to President Obama to act.  He is our leader, and we must DEMAND that he lead.  You can send him an email here.  In fact, bookmark the site and email him often — to give him kudos as well as asking for what we want.  It can’t hurt, and it certainly might help.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!!

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 11

Chapter Eleven of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “In the Shadow of the Dragon.”

This week’s chapter let’s us know about the amazing Mondragon Corporation, which came to be in the Basque region of Spain in the 1950s.

 

The Mondragon Cooperative is neither hierarchical nor patriarchal. There’s no king or lord. The corporation is owned by its employees. The most highly paid person earns less than six times the most poorly paid person. Decisions are made by workers on the front lines and then communicated up to the “managers” for implementation.

And this is no flaky, hippy-dippy commune-like experiment. It is the world’s largest federation of cooperatives, employing more than 90,000 people in more than 250 companies that focus on four areas: retail, finance, industry, and knowledge. In 2008, Mondragon’s revenue was €16.8 billion ($24.2 billion). All—every last euro cent—of the profits are distributed in one of three ways: reinvested in the business, given to worthy local charities, or paid as dividends to Mondragon’s worker-owners.

Retail, finance, industry, and knowledge — How commonsense does this sound?  Insert a giant “DUH!” here, right?  But…

Somehow Americans have lost sight of this. We see no benefit in any investment that does not produce profit for the owners, whether the owners are the distant stockholders or the investors or the top executives. Such an attitude not only devalues workers but also fails to recognize the importance of investing in public education, which is particularly tragic given what a difference education can make in social mobility.

The economy should function to make American workers’ lives better, not to make us wage slaves to those who own the economy!

If a $24 billion cooperative venture can be successfully established in the remote Basque region of northern Spain, surely it can be done in modern-day metropolises of the wealthiest nation on earth.

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I’m totally psyched about a Zoo Cooperative.  🙂

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!!

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 10

Chapter Ten of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “Wal-Mart is Not a Person.”

This week’s chapter covers the outrageous concept of corporate personhood.  Corporations can’t hack the so-called free market, so they need special consideration by the United States

Supreme Court.

The funny thing is, this country was founded on the people’s desire for freedom and liberty, and the kicker was an act of protest — later known as the Boston Tea Party — against a special tax break for the biggest corporation of its time, the East India Company.

Now, after the egregious Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, corporations have all the rights and privileges of people (save voting, for now), without the bother of all the pesky responsibilities.

Weirdly enough, the slippery slope to Citizens United was paved by the crappy work of a clerk who wrote the headnote of an 1886 case known as Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad.

From Thom’s chapter:

In 2003, after my book Unequal Protection was first published, I gave a talk at one of the larger law schools in Vermont. Around 300 people showed up, mostly students, with a few dozen faculty and some local lawyers. I started by asking, “Please raise your hand if you know that in 1886, in the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad case, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons and therefore entitled to rights under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Almost everyone in the room raised their hand, and the few who didn’t probably were new enough to the law that they hadn’t gotten to study that case yet. Nobody questioned the basic premise of the statement.

And all of them were wrong.

We the People are the first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution; and from its adoption until the Robber Baron Era in the late nineteenth century, people meant human beings. In the 1886 Santa Clara case, however, the court reporter of the Supreme Court proclaimed in a “headnote”—a summary or statement added at the top of the court decision, which is separate from the decision and has no legal force whatsoever—that the word person in law and, particularly, in the Constitution, meant both humans and corporations.

Thus began in a big way…the corruption of American democracy and the shift, over the 125 years since then, to our modern corporate oligarchy.

Un-frickin’-believable, huh?  Over 100 years later, the Roberts court rammed home what may turn out to be the final nail in the coffin of this country.  This topic truly pisses me off.

There’s lots more information in this chapter, and you can read the whole thing here.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 9

Chapter Nine of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “Put Lou Dobbs Out to Pasture.”

This week’s topic covers the outsourcing of our jobs, controlling the size of the workforce by controlling immigration, and lowering the retirement age.  Here are some excerpts…

On outsourcing:

Under the guise of satisfying a consumer demand for low prices, multinationals have accelerated outsourcing ever since the Reagan years and pushed the “free

trade” and “globalization” ideology that has given us the NAFTA and GATT/WTO processes initiated under President George H. W. Bush and finished by President Bill Clinton. As a direct result, American blue-collar workers saw their jobs vanish as factories making things from jeans to precision tools moved to Mexico and other countries. Not to worry, the Bush and Clinton administrations assured workers, just learn new skills so you can join the “service economy,” which included millions of new “Do you want fries with that?” and “Welcome to Wal-Mart” jobs…

On controlling the size of the workforce, by controlling immigration:

The history of the labor struggle in America has always been about securing wages and benefits that provide a decent living for workers and their families. And the best way to guarantee that is by making sure the labor market is not flooded. Working Americans have always known this simple equation: more workers, lower wages; fewer workers, higher wages.

On lowering the Social Security retirement age:

Here’s another way to tighten up our labor market and thus raise wages and our standard of living: lower the Social Security retirement age from the current 65–67 to 55 and increase the benefits to where they were in inflation-adjusted 1960s dollars by raising them between 10 to 20 percent (so people could actually live, albeit modestly, on Social Security).

All those Boomers retiring would make room in the labor market for all the recent high school and college graduates, who are now finding it so hard to get a job.

Thus a tightened labor market would increase wages. And as wages go up, tax revenues—which are paying for Social Security (among other things)—would increase.

The Ayn Randian policies of Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush over the last thirty years have just about killed off the middle class, and have put a huge economic hurt on the rest of us by causing wages to go stagnant, forcing millions of us out of the working world (possibly forever), and by crashing the economy with impunity.

We’re pretty much doing the same things we’ve been doing since the 80s, and I doubt we can expect much of substance to get done in the Republican-controlled House, or in a broken Senate that could only manage the smallest rules reform that didn’t come close to touching the filibuster.  We’ve put a tiny bandaid on a ruptured artery, and it’s just not going to hold.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!!

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 8

Chapter Eight of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “They Will Steal It!”

This week, Thom discusses democracy, the military, and the draft/public service.  Some excerpts:

On democracy:

In the middle of our discussion about the United States and its unfortunate military adventures abroad, Dick [Gregory] dropped on me the most profound comment I’ve ever heard about foreign policy and human nature: “I don’t know why America always thinks she has to run all around the world forcing people to take our way of governance at the barrel of a gun,” he said. He paused for a sip of wine, and then added with a sly grin, “When you’ve got something really good, you don’t have to force it on people. They will steal it!

On the military:

Jefferson was […] morally offended by the idea of an army that people would join only because they were too poor to afford an education and a job. For such people he wanted universal free public education, including free college tuition, which he brought into being when he founded the University of Virginia.

In a June 1813 letter to his old friend (and future president) James Monroe, he wrote:

It is more a subject of joy that we have so few of the desperate characters which compose modern regular armies. But it proves more forcibly the necessity of obliging every citizen to be a soldier; this was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free State. Where there is no oppression there will be no pauper hirelings.

On the draft/public service:

…We should institute a universal draft, with a strong public service option—from planting trees to assisting in schools to helping in hospitals—easily and readily available for those young people who don’t want to go into the military.

The result will be a generation of citizens who feel more bonded with and committed to their nation, who have experienced the critical developmental stage of a “rite of passage” into adulthood, and who have experienced more of America and the world than just their own neighborhood.

We can’t bomb people into embracing democracy; we’re already the biggest dog on the block, so we shouldn’t have to spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined to prove it; and if we’re going to pick fights with other countries, EVERYONE should have a fair chance of losing a child to that war.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 7

Chapter Seven of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “Cool Our Fever.”

 

 

This week, Thom discusses two things:  Stripping oil of it’s strategic value, and ways to clean up our atmosphere before we boil.

The United States has about 3% of the world’s oil, but we consume 24% of the oil produced around the world.

[O]il accounts for roughly 95 percent of the energy used for transportation in the United States (and our military is the world’s single largest consumer of oil), and that’s what makes it strategic. If we want to strip oil of its strategic value, so it can’t

be used as a weapon against us and we can use our remaining oil supplies for rational things like producing plastics and medicines, we need to shift our transportation sector away from oil and do so quickly. 

If we change the way we power our transportation, then we won’t need such a huge, oil-guzzling military to invade countries like Iraq, who are sitting on “our oil.”  That would be one huge problem solved.

But how can we do it?

In 1999 progressives in Germany passed the 100,000 Roof Program (Stromeinspeisungsgesetz), which mandated that banks had to provide low-interest 10-year loans to homeowners sufficient for them to put solar panels on their houses. They then passed the Renewable Energies Law (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) and in 2004 integrated the 100,000 Roofs Program into it.  The Renewable Energies Law mandated that for the next 10 years the power company had to buy back power from those homeowners at a level substantially above the going rate so the homeowners’ income from the solar panel would equal their loan payment on the panel and would also represent the actual cost to the power company to generate that amount of power had it built a new nuclear reactor.

Germany was trying to find a way to avoid building two new nuclear power plants, and they succeeded wildly.  In eight year’s time, the 100,000 Roof Program was generating 8,500 MW of power to the grid — about eight nuclear plants worth.  Enough power to make it easy to power transportation! Continue reading

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 6

Chapter Six of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “Make Members of Congress Wear NASCAR Patches.”

Why do we, as individuals, vote?  Seriously, why?

When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to be old enough to vote.  In my starry-eyed youth, I truly believed that having come from a monarchy, in which the “small people” had absolutely no say about the direction of our lives, our basic rights, and the laws of the land, Americans would consider voting to be a precious and hard-won right — something no one would take lightly, especially women and people of color.

Boy was I wrong!! Just over the course of my own lifetime, our population has grown a great deal, but the percentage of voter turnout is steadily decreasing.  The 2008 election, which was so dynamic and hotly contested, only brought out about 56% of the voting age population, and that was the best turnout since the presidential election of 1968.  Mid-terms?  Forget about it…

So where am I going with this line of thought?  Isn’t Thom’s latest chapter about making politicians wear NASCAR patches?  Indeed, it is.

The [Center for Responsive Politics] report [of 2010] showed that the top federal lobbying spending was carried out in 2009 by the health-care sector ($543.9 million); followed by the finance, insurance, and real estate sector ($465 million); and energy and natural resources ($408.9 million). Among the biggest lobbying clients were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($144.5 million), ExxonMobil ($27 million), and the pharmaceutical industry group PhRMA ($26 million).

One person, one vote, right?  Assuming our elections are still on the up and up (not a safe assumption at all), and our individual votes send politicians to Congress to represent our best

interests, what is up with all the above money?  That’s where the NASCAR patches come in — because it’s not just “one person, one vote” anymore, it’s “he who takes the most money, wins.” There’s money to be made in politics, and it’s not chump change.  Our votes are becoming purely symbolic — something to keep up the illusion that we have any say in the direction this country takes, and a way for mass media to rake in the advertising dollars.  After the egregious Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, even NASCAR patches would not be helpful.

In 2010 in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations—even foreign corporations—and wealthy individuals can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections; they just have to spend it independently of the candidate’s or party’s official campaign.

I’m not suggesting that we stay out of the voting booth — absolutely not.  I’m saying we need to turn out in even greater numbers.  Barring campaign finance reform and the repeal of Citizens United, showing up in the voting booth is our last best hope of having any sort of voice in this country.  Staying home because politics is messy/imperfect is not an option.  Approximately 50% or less of Americans are deciding the way forward in this country — along with a staggering amount of money, that helps politicians forget very quickly who sent them to Congress and why.  How’s that working for us? Continue reading

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 5

Chapter Five of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “Medicare ‘Part E’ – For Everybody.”

This week’s chapter is about the real need to keep up, maintain, and even expand the social safety net in this country.  Really, the social safety net is not a joke.  People are not choosing to

be homeless, or without healthcare, or sitting home waiting for that big time unemployment check — they want to work.  They want to contribute to society, and make it a better place for everyone.  That’s true of most people in the world, I think, but it’s also a big part of the American work ethic.

One great way to make this country stronger, more secure, and more productive is to make sure every single American has access to the healthcare we need, at a cost we can afford.  No one should ever have to worry about going bankrupt because of medical bills.

Medical care in the United States is about profit first, executive bonuses second, and medicine and the health of the people come in somewhere down the list.  To me, that is immoral.

We already have Medicare, which is a fairly comprehensive basic health insurance/health-care program that covers nearly all Americans over 65 years of age. It is, in essence, a single-payer health-care program. Obama and the Democrats could easily push to expand the Medicare program to allow Americans of all ages to participate in it, and all they’d need is a simple majority, not a supermajority.

And here’s the most amazing part: this would be totally consistent with what President Lyndon B. Johnson and the folks in his administration and Congress had in mind when they created Medicare in July 1965.

Yep!  President Johnson saw Medicare as a program that could be adjusted over time to lower the qualifying age incrementally, until all Americans could be covered.  Simple!!  I like simple.  I adore simple!   Continue reading

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 4

Chapter Four of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “An Informed and Educated Electorate.”

Are you as tired as I am of people who can tell you who are the finalists in American Idol or who won Dancing With the Stars, but can’t name their own Congressional representatives?  Good.

I’m glad I’m not the only one.  Most people in this country, and probably the world, depend on their televisions to give them news about the things they need to know about.  I know, that seems awfully passive and sheep-like, but it’s where many Americans are these days.  But why?  Why?

Ronald Reagan did away with the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time Rule in 1987, and that same year, Rush Limbaugh bubbled to the surface like a nasty egg salad fart.  Later, Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act, deregulating the broadcast industry, which had the devastating effect of having the news division of networks folded into the entertainment division — now the news had to make a profit.  What does this mean for Americans?

[An intern for Ellen Ratner’s Talk Radio News Service,] related that a White House correspondent for one of the Big Three TV networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) had told her that the network registered a huge amount of interest in the “hot story” that week of a congressman’s sexual indiscretions. Far less popular were stories about the debates on health care, the conflicts in the Middle East, and even the Americans who had died recently in Iraq or Afghanistan.

It means that instead of engaging in the ‘stuff that matters,’ we can filter out the stressful news and focus on “news” that doesn’t require us to think too much.  Hey, why don’t we want to think too much?

Probably because our education system is so underfunded and traumatized by stupid programs like ‘No Child Left Behind,’ which actually leaves way more children behind than ever before, that our ability to think critically is seriously diminished or non-existent. Continue reading

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter 3

Chapter Three of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country, is called “Stop Them From Eating My Town.”

It’s pretty self-explanatory, actually:  Shop locally and stop giving taxpayer-funded welfare to the giant multinational corporate vampires who are sucking this nation dry.  Thom explains:

As I noted in my book Unequal Protection,1 when I shop in downtown Montpelier,

Vermont, and buy a pair of pants, for example, at the Stevens Clothing Store on Main Street, at the end of the day the store’s owner, Jack Callahan, takes his proceeds down to the Northfield Savings Bank and deposits them. From Stevens, I walk next door to Bear Pond Books and buy today’s newspaper, a magazine, and a copy of Thomas Paine’sRights of Man, a book that is as fascinating today as when it was first written in 1791. 

At the end of the day, Bear Pond’s manager, Linda Leehman, will take my money down to the Chittenden Bank and deposit it.

From Bear Pond I go to one of the dozen or so local restaurants and exchange some of my cash for a good meal. At day’s end that cash, too, will end up in one of Montpelier’s local banks.

The next day Montpelier’s banks are richer by my purchases, as are Stevens, Bear Pond, and the restaurant. If my daughter, a Web designer, wanted to start her own design firm in an office on Main Street (or from her home), she could visit one of those banks, and, if her credit was good, they could loan her some of the money that was deposited with them the night before from the townspeople’s purchases.

If her work is good, Stevens or Bear Pond or the restaurant may decide they want to hire her to design their Web site, using the profits they made from my—and others’—purchases to pay for her work. She’ll put her money into the local bank, increasing its deposits available for local lending. Thus, by keeping money within the community, the community grows. This is how communities in America and most of the rest of the world have historically grown.

So simple and American Dream-ish, isn’t it?  It totally makes sense, so why aren’t we doing it? Well, our politicians (at every level) aren’t exactly on our side, are they?

Clearly, we need to reverse this trend and stop the corporate Godzillas from tearing up our local towns and local economies. First, let’s take away all the local, state, and federal government incentives and subsidies that these chain operations feed on and which are not usually available to local small businesses. Second, enact measures to stop multinationals from evading U.S. taxes by moving their operations and assets to low-tax countries, and break up the giant trusts that have come to dominate every aspect of our economy. Third, implement and promote policies—through federal agencies such as the Small Business Administration—that provide help and know-how as well as financial incentives to small, independent, local businesses.

Thom illustrates the way they do things in India, where 98% of the shops are family owned and run.  Damn, that is inefficient — but it’s WORKING.  Read more about it here.

Continue reading

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter Two

This week’s Sunday Roast is Chapter Two of Thom Hartmann’s book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country.

I’m going to make this short and sweet this week, since I had a long and snowy drive home from the coast this weekend, so here’s a little something to chew on:

“You Americans are such suckers,” he said. “You think that the rules for taxes that apply to rich people also apply to working people, but they don’t. When working peoples’ taxes go up, their pay goes up. When their taxes go down, their pay goes down. It may take a year or two or three to all even out, but it always works this way—look at any country in Europe. And that rule on taxes is the opposite of how it works for rich people!”

Teabaggers might want to take note about how they’ve been played like the proverbial fiddle by the right-wing in the tax debate.  Srsly, we’ll totally understand if you manage to see the light and switch sides.  My open arms are standing at the ready…and I won’t even say “I told you so.”

Read the rest of Chapter Two for even more information.

See parts one and two HERE and HERE.

This is our daily open thread, so feel free to bang your heads on the wall.

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter One

Truthout is hosting a chapter each week of Thom Hartmann’s new book, Rebooting the American Dream.  In last week’s Sunday Roast, I summarized truthout’s overview of Thom’s book, letting you know what each of the eleven chapters contained.

This week, Chapter One:  Bring My Job Home!

John Maynard Keynes, the British economist, believed in the private sector but also in a strong government role, especially during dire economic straits. Keynes

understood that demandfrom consumers drives an economy; and when consumers don’t have a job, an economy will stagnate or worse. So during a cyclical depression, the best response of government is to use government money—even borrowed government money if need be—to put people to work so they’ll have money to buy things.

Those expenditures by working-class people—on computers, television sets, clothes, toys, furniture, power tools, and so on—would help restart the economy, which would grow gross domestic product (GDP) and tax revenues, so government would be able to pay back the borrowed money and wean people off of government jobs as private industry picked up the load.

So, why didn’t the stimulus generate as many jobs as Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal?  What happened?  According to Thom, first, the stimulus was about 1/3 the size it should have been; and second, the stimulus DID create millions of jobs — IN CHINA.

So here is the first big way we can reboot the economy: lose our recent fascination—obsession, really—with “free trade,” get back to protectionism, and impose tariffs (import taxes) on imported consumer goods as we used to do. Let’s apply the lessons that our own rich history teaches us. In other words, let’s resume the manufacture of consumer goods in the United States, protect these industries from cheap foreign labor, and bring all those jobs back home.

“Free Trade” isn’t free.  The Founding Fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, knew it.  Hell, he wasn’t even the first!  Hamilton got the idea from King Henry VII, who got the idea from the Dutch, who got it from the Romans, who got the idea from the Greeks!  Why did they keep using and building on the same strategy?  Because tariffs and protectionism work!! Continue reading

Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream

Truthout is publishing one chapter per week of Thom Hartmann’s new book, Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country.  This week’s post is an introduction, and the next twelve weeks will consist of one chapter of the book.

When Washington became president in 1789, most of America’s personal and

industrial products of any significance were manufactured in England or in its colonies. Washington asked his first Treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, what could be done about that, and Hamilton came up with an 11-point plan to foster American manufacturing, which he presented to Congress in 1791. By 1793 most of its points had either been made into law by Congress or formulated into policy by either President Washington or the various states, which put the country on a path of developing its industrial base and generating the largest source of federal revenue for more than a hundred years.

We need a modern day do-over of Hamilton’s 11-point plan that made America great, and in his book Thom Hartmann is offering up his own plan to do exactly that.

These are the chapter we can look forward to over the next weeks:

Chapter 1, “Bring My Job Home!” covers how economies work and why we need to heed Alexander Hamilton’s advice.

Chapter 2, “Roll Back the Reagan Tax Cuts,” points out how when top income-tax rates on millionaires and billionaires are above 50 percent, not only does the gap between the very rich and the working poor shrink but the nation’s economy stabilizes and grows.

Chapter 3, “Stop Them from Eating My Town,” covers the ground of monopoly- and crony-capitalism, an economic system born and bred when Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.

Chapter 4, “An Informed and Educated Electorate,” begins by showing how badly our news media has deteriorated, how it only caters to what people want and not to what they need, and how important it is that we take our media back from the profit-hungry corporations that have abandoned the public-service mission of media. Continue reading

The Watering Hole: July 9 – Books

Finding a new authors and new books to enjoy is always one of my greatest pleasures. It happened again. I have fallen in love with a book.

Stephen Clarke

1000 Years of Annoying the French

Other books on my nightstand make quite a motley collection:

Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth

Val McDermid, Fever of the Bone

Douglas Preston, Blasphemy

Stephen King, The Stand

Any suggestions what to read next?

This is our open thread. Just say what’s on your mind.

Bikers are Animals – A Children’s Book on Motorcycling

Paul Jamiol has a new book coming out this month! (It’s “coming soon”…)

It’s a children’s book on motorcycling and motorcycle safety using his amazing talent as a cartoonist. Paul creates a dozen colorful, unique, loveable critter characters riding various kinds of very colorful, detailed bikes. Each character has a personality and little story, and are as diverse as the bikes. Delightful and entertaining! At the end of the book there are pages of his characters that kids can color.

His love for biking and the open road really comes through. I’ve previewed it and can’t wait to get my copy. 🙂

It’s a perfect gift for your child or grandchild.. (Especially with Christmas coming up).

From his website:

“Bikers are animals,” a term that adults might use in the pejorative sense, has been turned by writer and artist Paul Jamiol into a book for children that brings joy and amusement while promoting safe riding and delivering a subtle but strong message against prejudice in all its forms.  Jamiol’s community of motorcycle-riding fauna will keep young readers enthralled.  It answers some of the questions about motorcycles that their parents may not be able to answer. Ed Youngblood – Ed Youngblood’s Motohistory

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Sunday’s Watcha Reading?

This topic, as suggested by TheZoo’s dbadass…

Fantastic book by the way. I read it recently.

What book do you have your nose in today? I am diving into a book I haven’t read seen I was about 20 years old. Mary Stewart’s “Nine Coaches Waiting”. Great book, and a nice diversion.

How about you? What’s your book about?

On my reading table next is “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”. Thanks Wayne for the suggestion. Can’t wait to read it! 😀

“Tomorrow is zero hour.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell doesn’t work, but in this video Nathaniel Frank, who authored a book about exactly how big a failure DADT has been, called “Unfriendly Fire,” had this tidbit to share with Jon:

On September 10, 2001, the U.S. Governmant intercepted a cable that said, “Tomorrow is zero hour.”  It wasn’t translated until September 12, because we didn’t have enough Arab linguists.

According to Mr Frank, there have been over 12,000 servicemembers lost due to DADT.  Eight hundred of those were deemed “mission critical” by the government, and 55 were Arab linguists.

I guess we can add the victims of 9/11 onto the high cost of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  It’s time to get rid of this no good, very bad, sucks to high heaven policy.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews Mark Crispin Miller

Truthout:

 Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman interviews professor Mark Crispin Miller on election fraud, voter intimidation, voting machine malfunctions and the Bradley Effect. Miller is the author of “Loser Takes All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.”

To read the article at Truthout go here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I just started reading this book this evening. It is riveting from the first page..

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Author: Cheney has been first ‘deputy president’

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

This is an interview with Bart Gellman, who is author of the newly released book called “Angler”. I just picked it up two days ago and can’t wait to dive in.. Jon Stewart has fun with this interview.

Bart Gellman originally did a series in the Washington Post called ANGLER: The Cheney Vice-Presidency (a four part series).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In Harper’s Magazine, Scott Horton has 6 questions for Bart Gellman on his new book “The Angler”.

White House fearful of prosecution…

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Harpers Magazine interviewed Jane Mayer, the author of The Dark SideAn inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American ideals. This book is a series of articles which chronicle the Bush’s administrations involvement with torture and the individuals that helped make it happen.

In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public.

The interview involved six questions which can be found here… I highly recommend reading this interview in it’s entirety.

What I found striking was Jane Mayer’s response to the first question which included this statement:

Activists will be angry at me for saying this, but as someone who has covered politics in Washington, D.C., for two decades, I would be surprised if there is the political appetite for going after public servants who convinced themselves that they were acting in the best interests of the country, and had legal authority to do so. An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

Much will depend on who the next president and attorney general are, and how much pressure they feel. At the very least, as a journalist, I hope that the records are opened, and all the legal memos released (several crucial ones remain secret) so that the country can learn its own history here. My guess is that the real accountability for President Bush will be in the history books, not the court room.

Remember, there are both Democrats and Republicans that sit on the Intelligence Committees and these legislators were informed of the torture programs as developed by the Bush administration. This would make them both accessory before and after the fact.

The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC’s legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees. This nervousness resulted in the successful effort to add retroactive immunity to the Military Commission Act. Cheney personally spearheaded this effort. Fear of the consequences of exposure also weighed heavily in discussions about whether to shut the CIA program down. In White House meetings, Cheney warned that if they transferred the CIA’s prisoners to Guantanamo, “people will want to know where they have been—and what we’ve been doing with them.” Alberto Gonzales, a source said, “scared” everyone about the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. It was on their minds.

(I added the emphasis)

Well, now I understand why there was this big push to pass the Military Commission Act back in the Fall of 2006. And to think that most Congress men and women didn’t even read this bill. My Congressman told me that he voted in favor of this bill because Nancy Pelosi told him to vote “yea” and he did. She wields a strong arm in the Democratic Congress.

Wait, there’s even more… Cheney and his buddies have been carrying around a grudge ever since Watergate and they saw 9/11 as an opportunity to strike back.

After interviewing hundreds of sources in and around the Bush White House, I think it is clear that many of the legal steps taken by the so-called “War Council” were less a “New Paradigm,” as Alberto Gonzales dubbed it, than an old political wish list, consisting of grievances that Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington, had been compiling for decades. Cheney in particular had been chafing at the post-Watergate reforms, and had longed to restore the executive branch powers Nixon had assumed, constituting what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “the Imperial Presidency.

Then there is the matter of the recent FISA bill and Congressional members’ knowledge of the illegal spying when it first took place.

From Salon:

Continue reading

Billo pops a vessel interviewing Scott McClellan..

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Raw Story

Scott McClellan is certainly making the rounds.. At least this interview is entertaining, sort of like the ‘Christians at the Coloseum being thrown in with the lions’ kind of entertaining…

Billo, in his typical junkyard dog fashion, goes for the throat, making it all about himself. He is a totally pompous, self-righteous, sanctimonious, ass. Instead of doing an interview and asking questions, Billo reacts to McClellan’s book, taking it personally (like its all about Billo), and then ridicules Scott, taking him to task for criticizing the President.

O’Reilly was particularly incensed with McClellan’s critique of President Bush’s reasons for invading Iraq, overtly to find weapons of mass destruction.

“If the director of the CIA believes it, British intelligence believes it, John Kerry believes it, Hillary Clinton believes it, and President Clinton believes it…” said O’Reilly, “If they all believe Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, sir: don’t you have a nerve accusing me of not being vigilant enough?”

O’Reilly later thundered, “If two presidents of the United States (sitting), the former CIA guy who works for both presidents, Tony Blair, and The New York Times all tell me and you [Saddam has] got [WMDs], we can’t say ‘no, he doesn’t!’

McClellan attempted to explain himself continuously through the interview, but O’Reilly could not be satisfied. “The central theme of your book is wrong,” accused O’Reilly.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Billo pops a vessel interviewing Scot…“, posted with vodpod

Jon Stewart interviews Scott McClellan

Jon Stewart interviews Scott McClellan on his new book “What Happened”. Honesty? Bullshit? You decide..

Part 1:
Scott McClellan explains the Bush administration was not intentionally deceptive in making their case for going to war in Iraq.


Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Scott McClellan Pt.1 | The Daily Show…“, posted with vodpod

Part 2 of this interview below the fold… Continue reading