Issue 50 – May 2024

The suitcase cheeks were closing, to soon be zippered shut. The intention was to open them at journey’s end. But the subconscious motivation differed, that they not be ope again, so of course they weren’t. And what was here had never heard them. Try as they might to withstand them, the teeth turned yesterday straight at them. The past that had been set was somehow colonized with change. Memory could be no longer trusted. There was only what well placed propagandists said had always been this way, which was inculcated in the people, that they then repeated ‘mongst themselves til it was true, in their minds if nowhere else. But as they were the universe’s thought, their malformed beliefs were not inconsequential. They also weren’t the be-all end-all that the people thought they were, clapping themselves spinally at what a lovely lot they were.

For stoic words to bite, they must add something well beyond the trodden. The stoics of an icy, untectonic world would grow arts such that we could hardly comprehend, so alien that they would be. Their words would be more alien than the beings who developed them, as these beings would at least be made of the same clingy molecules as we, since they have the same star soup to work with. Not all such ingredients are as ready to work.

The drums are sounded, the brass horns flare — campaign is underway. The noise slowly circles premonition. The gregarious presume the route that things are gonna take. They’re beneficial when they effect positive change. On the flip side their negative is no-fault, or fault-filled. No-fault is the most common, is the pickle brine we live in. A problem is found, or manufactured, a solution ID’d, and this creates a brand new problem, one sometimes that is worse than the one plaguing us before. Thus the geologically slow march of progress. The fault-filled, though, are predicated on our darkest nature. This is the sapien as out-lasher, punisher, diaper-crier, personal misery spreader, vengeance seeker, lack of fucks-giver, abuse re-enactor, power expresser, common hater. The fault-filled finds its expression in the priestly, who both have and bestow them, and are hilariously certain that they’re helping when they’re not. They’ve been following a pogrom for millennia.

There are side benefits — the black churches helped get the scholarly Obama into office, and Desmond Tutu helped end and reconcile apartheid in his country. Counter-examples include Theresa of Calcutta, who damned innumerable of her charges to a living hell. They canonized her for it, as though 21st century idolatry has meaning. “We woo merchants and culture-destroyers, through our missionary zeal, say this dead guy had superpowers.” “Okay buddy.” It’s unbelievable this Dark Age nonsense had lasted as long as it has. It’s incredulous to see them using cell phones, driving cars, making use of hospitals as they foment their myths on others.

Only one continent is largely free of it, and its aspersions rue the hearts and minds across the world. It draws from an eon of platitudes, so it goes down easy, but its aftertaste is putrid. It’s a whimsical faux pas that argument-defying cultures can thrive for hundreds of generations. What maniacs are we.

Our wills developed as weapons to change each other’s minds. Their ability to learn and create culture and art is a side benefit of an evolutionary process, like memory is. Memory arose to keep us from walking on the plains at night when we would be eaten. It’s allowance for family bonds and storytelling is a side benefit.

A meteor is screeching, low and terrified. Since it didn’t break up, it’s about to be a dorsum on the world. The target is confirmed. The source, as always, is a wounded ego. The will-be-affected is the living world. The intention was more local but whoops never really cuts it. The counterparts strayed across the boundary our leaders had agreed on. It will be a long time til the holiday of comradeship. We are obliged to do our part, heading upwards into space. We can show up sans the rocks’ permission too. We pass the indolent. They don’t see us leave, but they’ll grow wealthy from our sacrifice. Bucolic rocks have always been unaltered. They stay put until they are smashed into. They have a vice grip on their form. They take no notice of the dirt and lichen clinging to them. They exist a lot longer.

Better to be full hearted. Better to pursue the filling of the heart, not happiness. The cons of being happy are well trodden. Don’t be a watcher — do the arts. Complete something, be judged, feel disappointed. Alter the brainstate with plants and make do with cheat food. Then follow Gaiman’s second maxim: Make great art. In response to tragedy, to pet peeves and successes, extinctions and awards, dying and becoming, make great art.

Stones are meaningless if they have no use. Some have pretty colors, some have landscapial grandeur, some when sharpened can cut meat — all of which are uses. Even the most banal igneous can be ground up, poured, and spread to make a road. And no stone is immune from being colonized by life. Lava erupts from the sea bed and hardens, building up and up until it breaks the surface and warms the plankton’s exhalations. It is only rock. No, it has micro-organisms, some of which survive the air. A passing bird excretes the remnants of its lunch. Now there is new bacteria. The new and old fight, co-exist, combine. Another passing laden swallow expels a full unsprouted seed. Though there be only rock, the seed is a survivor. Wind currents are blowing wisps of soil and sand a thousand miles away. Some wisps collect in a dimple in the very rock the seed has landed. Soon enough it rains. The febrile shell cracks, a little stem protrudes. In another couple centuries, all the igneous on this newly formed isle will be covered in greenery. Primitive sailors will hardly believe this wooded finery could grow from the hottest stuff on earth. They will anthropomorphize and worship it.

People have long talked to things that don’t talk back. The chance for frippery is taken, gained. Choices branch and spread like dendrites now. Everything diverges from a couple stone caps in the sea. The stump invites the old to sit upon it. What little it has left, it gives. Stories are repeated among the bored the conscious. The anxious suckle to them. Things go on with inertia unless the day’s dismantled. OCD in response to that which is out of our control is what gave rise to ritual. The outriggers sail on, their chickens vomiting from oscillation.

There’s not a good percentage that will quell the horror of just how much time people spend being wrong. Billions will go their entire lives in a state of total wrongment. Most will love their children but will nonetheless raise them to be copies of themselves, wrong. They will be so seated in their ignorance that they will like it there. The only thing that could make them change is if their whole tribe went away. (Not saying they should. Okay, we don’t need pituitary gun-lusters.) Then the wrong-for-generations would have to adjust their thinking because they would be unable to sustain their lone philosophy. They have not the capability to be iconoclasts. They just don’t have it in them, some minuscule percentage aside, to act without bewildering support. Viral mutation may be just the chance we need! Just as how religion sustains itself by chance — the one someone is born into is the one he’ll kill for, where were he born into another’s, he’d be as zealous on that side — as their strictures can be taught but will not necessarily take, not without the pliable brain of a little child. This is another way to manipulate our evolutionary drives. Til something comes along to stop it.

New people are sponges, soaking up languages, identifying meaning, structuring thought. This allows programming to occur. It then takes root for life. It’s the dominant paradigm until the organism ceases. What a way to spend conscious existence, in the grip of neuroses, put there by the ignorant, the power-hungry, and the mad. What we can do is brief serenity. We have laughter — some of us do. Some are so malformed that they’ll never have this feeling. We have companionship, but that is fraught full up with all the needling people do to one another — in fact that is the default, and caring is what’s rare.

We’re born with an addict’s craving for connection. We had to have it in past eons to keep living long enough to pass along our genes. Hermitage was certain death back then. This drive is another remnant that does not help us in the modern age. It’s just another cause of neuroses, another progenitor of conflict, another latent sire of the most fascinating harms. What remarkable motors we are, ge-ge-generating away. Alerts are quickly buried. Children wanting to play catch burst forth from the places they were orphaned. They’re driven almost mad by want. They’ve been bombed by corporations so steadily that they’ve adapted to it. Whatever their five senses can identify is going to pay. Credit they should have been granted was scattered to the sea. Their milk belongs to gophers now, in tunnels in the sod. Somewhere a mound longs for excavation. They can have additional rest, but at the cost of starving. They can have whatever they want, but at the cost of harming other people. Harming the environments is harming other people. Forcing things to stay the same does too.


A Greyhound station is an inconvenience store. Our hero was glad to have a car. He put the pump in the gas tank and flipped the latch to hold the handle open. He went back inside and rummaged for some papers (papers, business papers). After a while he realized the task at hand was not completed. He hadn’t heard the automatic click when the tank is full, the latch releases, and the pumping stops. He stood up out of the car and froze in shock. Gas was waterfalling down the side of his Japanese sedan. There was a pond around his wheels. He leaned and got the pump to stop. The LED numbers on the screen ceased their increasing. The final was more than he’d ever paid before. He looked around — there was no one late at night. Dumbly he considered how to clean it up. The squeegees and paper towels were in their black plastic holders. They seemed rather doubt-inspiring. He looked in the fluorescent quickie mart and saw no sign of life. He replaced the pump quietly, as though someone were suddenly listening, who derived purport from calling cops. Gas was all over his rear tire. Its strong smell was spreading. He took a long-jump step into his car, closed the door, and hesitated. Films about the mafia made clear what would happen next. Ignition of the car, ignition on the ground. An explosion, a red and orange sphere of fire, turning black at the edges where the tires begin to melt. He couldn’t sit there and was paranoid about pushing the car in neutral out of the pond of gasoline, how it would be suspicious. He hadn’t even taken the time to wipe the gas off of his paint. Flight instinct was activated. He inserted the key, inhaled, and closed his eyes. It occurred to him to go inside the quickie mart and warn the attendant of the hazard waiting for the next guy to pull up. But he turned the key. The car did not explode. Perhaps if his exhaust were prone to backfiring, he’d be an immolating monk. He drove away, barely pressing the accelerator til he was past the pumps. At the traffic light, he looked back, afraid of an attendant running out and jumping up and down, and gesturing, but no one did. It was the second time he’d spilled gas on this trip. What is up with all these defective pumps, he leapt angrily. They could’ve got him killed. This staunch environmentalist had poisoned the groundwater and just left, had got away with it, just like the burghers he so readily despised. The act related to his mission.


Sleeping on ice is difficult, but people do. They worry not that they could freeze, but that they might slip off. It took about no effort to act as he had done. The drive within him to pursue his partner was deeply convincing. Every day since she left had been like going to the haberdasher’s and buying nothing, insisting on a hat they didn’t have. He saw but didn’t really see the other shelves all stacked with hats. The idea to wear a different one crossed his mind, did not compute. Where some thoughts are weighty, this was effervescent, without form. It left no trace as it passed and bypassed memory. But he didn’t have a choice about returning to the store. He could skip a day or two but eventually he had to step outside his house, and that was like walking right into the hat shop. Wrongèd people, when they have lost everything, will cling to their defiance. There was a power in standing among those hats and rejecting every one, passively. He didn’t try them on, nor did they leap onto his head from where they stacked. He looked at them only so much as his eyes were moving and the hats were near the thing that he was focused on. Oddly this haberdasher had no salesmen on the floor. In fact they were illegal. But it was a profession with a steady income stream, so people still sought out the job, just inconspicuously. He was expected to try hats on until he found one that fit. Then he had to pay for it — with money and with mental health. It’s not the type of thing one bought and owned. The costs were ongoing, and having it in one’s house was by arranged agreement. Dudes were proud to walk around with hats on, so there was social pressure. Every one of them wanted the most attractive hat. The hat they sported was most of their identity. It was an example of their self. It represented how they saw themselves, from the inside looking out. Strangely it was also a barrier between them and other people. Other dudes were unlikely to non-verbally challenge a dude who wore a hat, whereas they had a primal targeting of those who went out hatless. For one thing, some dudes liked dudes more than they liked hats, and these dudes had been discriminated a long time. Dudes did not want to be mistaken for those sorts of dudes. Another reason dudes who didn’t want to wear a hat were targeted was group cohesion — setting oneself apart is akin to being different than, and thus attack is open in all phobias. Another was the infantile ego of one who couldn’t stand that someone else might choose something differently, the missionary’s pain, something that was off the table for the unintentionally wounded party, who definitely did not conceive they might be infantile — only that some Iron Age book said they were right.

Love is the last tempted abode. It cannot persist without constant interference — it is not allowed to. We wish that it was. But then our variety is limited. If there were something as pleasuring as love, it’s sure we’d go for that.

If ours were a twin star system, half of us would only tan under one and not the other, with esoteric claims of why their chosen one is best. If we were conscious amphibians, large groups would stay only in the water. They’d have lots of numbers and statistics why the land is harmful to one’s health. Some of them would be prejudiced against the dry group. There’d be sallies and reprisals. Just as many would be for land only and would decry the wet guys for their mud-headed ways. Most in each group would want to live in peace. Their mild temperaments would be easily dominated by the strong-emotive. A starving jackal is less feral under threat than a human stakeholder. Nevertheless sometimes through an accident of birth, a man or woman with a conscience comes into a wealthy family. For her, education does what it’s supposed to and takes hold. She has a moral compass. She develops a love for art and music. Rather than using every farthing to acquire more pfennigs, she acquires books and sponsors theater. This is one of the few good functions of concentrated wealth, when there arises benefactor. She has the means to not only display the art, but to preserve and protect it.

There are plenty of loonies spray-painting tree trunks in the gentle woods. It would take only one to set some pristine originals alight. These twitchy chatterboxes include all who’d commit arson because of Iron Age literature, or its Dark Age and Wild West variants. We have far more of these sorts to worry about — otherwise reasonable, somewhat caring people who under certain circumstances are happy to turn into obsessive menaces. Offend their antique sensibilities and they will be quick to destroy art.

This is the Viridiana problem. The poor must be helped but cannot be trusted. No one is quicker to wipe their ass with a tapestry out of resentment, ignorance, or glee. They’re the adeptest looters too. In this case, the rich benefactor is the keeper of the secularly sacred tome. Without her, future ge-ge-generations may have no inkling of just how cool we were. Which really means, how our art enriched our lives, could do the same for them. What matters our fair features if they are not judged as such? Fashionable excavations are awaiting. Ours is not the concluding statement, but we would it were the final word.



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