Water and Music

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It is five in the morning. I stand on a beach and gather light in my yes and my mind. It is not a normal beach but rather one with a bed of small round stones. They have no color yet, but promise to gather some as the sun rises.

There is a hint of pink on the horizon but no real light. The stars remain visible above the sea. Among them is the phenomenon of the Milky Way. It rises from the sea; upward and to the right, continuing towards the heavens until it disappears. There is not a clear demarcation of its trajectory. The lower parts of the Milky Way appear as stars – – although a bit muted. As my eyes follow its path the stars join together and lose their granularity; they become a giant cloud. This cloud has upper and lower limits which define it

There is a cliff to my left. It also, like the beach stones, has little color. A minute passes and some light tends to make the cliff a brownish hue. Yes, I can now clearly see its outline. It is not a normal flat cliff but rather one whose geological lineage have given it character. There are fault lines rising from left to right; almost following the path of the Milky Way. The fault lines are irregular, no two separated by the same distance although following the same path. There are a few outcroppings that cantilever out into the night sky.

Out, sitting in the ocean, with its toes on the beach and its heals buried in the water, is a tall rock island. Its birth mother appears to be the cliff. They have the same fault lines and color. Mother and child are separated by eroded rocks that appear to remain behind as the result of the natal event.

There are beach stones that lay beneath my feet, and extend to the area between the cliff and the island. These stones seem to also have been left behind as a result of the birth of the island. However, these have been smoothed by Father Ocean who has given them a personality due to a continuum of waves of advice.

In the distance and to my right a small island appears in the muted sun. The pink on the horizon has turned to white and a thin layer of blue exists between this and the dark sky. The stars within this blue band have disappeared; yet my heart can still feel the Milky Way and my mind contemplates it.

The sea becomes silver as the sun rises farther. The islands and cliff in front of me remain dark and foreboding. I wait for the remainder of the musical and am not disappointed. The small rounded stones appear to gain in color and harmony. I wonder and this wonderment leads me to the memory of a visit I once paid to a mountain stream.

I had a lot of leisure time then. My weekly income from industry gave me time to do the things I always wanted to. One of my desires was to own my own automobile so that I could visit the countryside.

And I did.

I drove for miles and enjoyed every month of it. Some of the roads were unique. One was along an old canal bed. Another went up and down like a roller-coaster (but, of course, not as steep). My favorite mountain road was helical shaped that went around and around as well as up. I enjoyed the feeling of “Déjà Vu” each time I made a left hand turn (which was continuously).

But none of my trips would be as memorable as the one I was on at that moment. It was a two lane macadam road that followed a beautiful mountain stream. I saw an interesting dirt road to my right. A rickety bridge allowed me to cross the stream. The steep mountains closed in on each side as I followed my hood ornament.

Suddenly the mountains parted and I found myself at the edge of a large flat area. It must have been five hundred acres in size and as flat as a postage stamp. The whole plain was covered in grass. It was not normal grass; it was blue. Not the blue of oceans, nor turquoise blue, or the blue color of melancholy. It was not the blue of azure, nor sapphire, nor peacock blue nor the blue of despair. It was the blue of amethyst.

It had the same quality of an amethyst gem; translucent. I departed my car and studied the grass. When I stood up it looked like a dark hue of blue. When I lay down and looked across the top of the grass it looked like the amethyst of an apothecary jar. In either case it was a mesmerizing experience.

I removed my shoes and socks to enjoy the softness of this blue grass. I walked around the amethyst plain for quite some time before I noticed a stream along one side. I ventured down the bank and into the water. The stones on the bottom were all the same size; about the size of an egg. Yet they were rather flat and pleasant to walk on. The stones appeared to have spent quite a bit of time in a giant lapidary tumbler; they were polished.

I reached down and picked one up. It was onyx black with ivory colored large spots here and there. The spots were not clearly demarcated as on a polka-dot dress. They were more like the penumbraic spots on a brook trout.

“PUT ME DOWN” cried a voice from seemingly nowhere.
I looked around but there was no one there.
“Put me down before I die” cried out the voice again.
I scanned the blue grass but saw no one.
“Please, I beg you, put me back in the water or I will expire” came the voice for the third time.

I perceived that the voice might be coming from the stone. I carefully lowered my hand until the stone was under water. Nothing happened. No voice, no movement, no sign of life. After a minute or so I decided that I must have had a day dream in this strange place of amethyst grass and shiny stones with soft ivory spots. I lifted my hand out of the water so that I could once more inspect this strange stone.

“Thanks for putting me back under water” said the stone.
Without thinking I responded “Why sure! Sorry about not listening the first time.”
“Put me back in so I can take a breath” pleaded the stone.
I did as I was asked and then lifted the stone up again. “Are you a real stone or a turtle or a fish?” I asked.
“A stone” said the stone. “Now put me back.”

And so it went for the remainder of the next hour. I dipped the stone in and out of the water while trying to complete a conversation with it.

Finally the stone told me “Walk downstream and you will find a waterfall.”
I followed the stone’s instructions while holding him under water. When I reached the waterfall I lifted the stone up again to ask for farther instructions. The stone said “Hold me under the waterfall. That way I can get enough water to breath and enough air to talk.”
I followed instructions and soon realized why I had heard gurgling sounds at all the waterfalls I had ever visited. It was the sound of stones talking to each other. I wished that I had paid more attention to stones long before this.

“I can now complete what I wished I could have told someone years ago” said the stone. “It is a long story so feel free to ask questions; if you must.
The stone continued “This is the story of a blue grass festival and us who were once called caterwaulers.

“Eons ago in this flat amethyst plain,
Music existed whether in sun or rain,
It echoed on the mountains ag’ane and ag’ane,
While the red summer hawk was carnivorously preyin’.

People came from a’near and afar,
Some by bus, but mostly by car,
Two people brought elixir in a stone jar,
A wanna-be king and a Tennesee tzar.

So the blue-grass music played day and night,
While the clouds rolled by, dark or bright,
Eventually the moon played fiddle (out of sight),
And the night owl prowled in quiet stealthy flight.

The stream rolled by, oblivious of the noise,
Created by those grown-up country girls and boys,
With their banjos, harmonicas, and musical toys,
The audience had elixir and hookahs (their make believe joys).

Summer hawk and night owl with eyes e’spyin’,
Swooping talons exposed, in unison flyin’,
Picked up the singers and musicians (all cryin’),
Each and every one thought they were dyin’,

The winged ones deposited them in mountain stream,
And the caterwauling ebbed to a gurgling scream,
I was involved in that nightmarish dream,
For I was a caterwauler, or so it would seem.

Over the eons minerals invaded our bones,
And turned us into penumbrious stones,
Our caterwaulings are now gurgling moans,
The screeching songs melted into melodious tones.”

The stone then became quiet except for intermittent sobbing. Although I had previously intended to ask questions I avoided hearing any more of the sad story. I carefully placed the stone on the bottom of the stream and fled.

I never heard the voice of the caterwauler again.

©  2017        Copyright Waldo J. Tomosky

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The Land of Akbar; Post #10 (Monsters, Monstrances and Human Agency)

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A Millenia of Millenia in metaphysics did not fail to influence the reality of The First Earthers. In the most ancient regions of The First Earth, the duplication of lost religions was not infrequent. Two priests look for a ritual; the first creates one and says nothing regarding its invention. The second priest looks for a ritual but finds a cult, no less real, but closer to his metaphysical needs. The second priest’s imaginary rites are called Релігія and are, though awkward in practice, somewhat longer than the first priest’s. The Релігія was the accidental product of distraction and forgetfulness. It seems unbelievable that their invention dates back scarcely some hundred-thousand Mellenia, but this is what the Eleventh Volume tells us. The first efforts at ritualization were unsuccessful. However, the method merits description. The priest of one of these thought prisons told his parishioners that there were certain virtues in an ancient text and promised eternity to whoever might make an important discovery. During the months preceding the mining of moralities the parishioners were shown images of what they were to find. This effort proved that expectation and anxiety can be inhibitory; a year’s work with pick and shovel did not manage to unearth anything in the way of a Релігія except a rusty ideal from a period after the excavation. But this was kept in secret and the process was repeated later in four brotherhoods. In three of them failure was almost complete; in a fourth (whose abbot died accidentally during the first excavation) the parishioners produced a gold monstrance, an archaic bone fragment encased in glass, two or three false prophets and the mutilated sarcophagus of a king whose lid bore an inscription which it has not yet been possible to decipher (although a similar passage was found by Hemingway in the Voynich Manuscript). Thus, it was discovered the unreliability of witnesses who knew of the experimental nature of the search. Mass investigations produce contradictory objects.

Then, individual human agencies became preferred.

MONSTRANCE

The Land of Akbar; Post #9 (Geology and Philosophers)

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The geology of The First Earth comprised two somewhat different disciplines; the visual and the mechanical. The latter corresponds to our own geology which is subordinated to the First Earth’s. The basis of visual geology was the surface, not the depth. This geology disregarded fractured earth and declares that man in his movement modifies that which surrounds him.

The basis of its science was the notion of indefiniteness. The First Earthers emphasized the importance of the concepts of greater and lesser, which our mathematicians symbolize as time and space.

 They maintained that their human agency modified the Earth and converted them from believers into nihilists. The fact that several individuals who counted the same quantity of items would obtain the same result is, for the psychologists, an example of association of ideas or of a good exercise of memory.

We already know that in The First Earth the subject of knowledge is one and eternal. In literary practices the idea of a single subject is also all-powerful. It is uncommon for books to be signed. The concept of plagiarism does not exist: it has been established that all works are the creation of one author, who is atemporal and anonymous. The book critics often invent authors: they select two dissimilar works – a fundamental text which is both philosophical and religious — for example — the work of the Grimm brothers – and then select a second book – for example – Hobbes’ Leviathan, and then attribute both to the same writer. They determine, most scrupulously, the psychology of this interesting person. 

 

The First Earther’s books are also different. Fictional books contain a single plot with several sub-plots wound throughout. The works of a philosophical nature invariably include both the thesis and the antithesis; the simultaneous support for and against a doctrine. A philosophical book which does not contain its own counter-book leaves the author no exit. The counter-book allows the author the ability to escape criticism. However, an entire industry of ink-mongers was created due to the myriad of philosophical critiquing that occurred.

The Land of Akbar; Post #8 (The Sultan and Ixtab)

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Another philosophy of The First Earth declared that the history of the universe – and in it their lives and the most tenuous detail of their lives – was the scripture produced by a god in order to communicate with a demon. Another philosophy, that the universe is comparable to those cryptographs in which not all the symbols are valid and that only what happens every three hundred nights is true. And finally, that while we sleep here, we are awake elsewhere and that in this way every man is two men, or two women, or one man and one woman.

Hemingway and I had great discussions regarding this gender question. Once again, Crimmins stood on the sidelines; however, I must say he paid great attention as to what was said.

Amongst the doctrines of The First Earth, none has merited the scandalous reception accorded to the squandering of money. Some have associated it with less clarity than fervor, as one might put forth an absurdity. To facilitate the comprehension of this inconceivable thesis, a philosopher of the eleventh century devised the story of the copper coins.

“A Sultan (of the same time period as the first Omar Khayyam) had spent and given away his fortune. The sultan proclaimed that gold and silver coins were to be replaced by copper coins. Soon, every farmer, jeweler, vizier and alchemist were creating copper coins from whatever copper they had at hand. The value of the treasury fell to nothing. The Sultan reversed his proclimation.”[1]

There are many versions of this story which vary the metal of the coins and the number of counterfeiters. It is logical to think that they both have existed, at least in some time period, hidden from the sultan’s point of view. The language of The First Earth resisted the replication of this oral story; most did not even comprehend it. The defenders of the eastern hemisphere at first did no more than negate the veracity of the anecdote. They repeated that it was a western fallacy, based on the sudden collision of two cultures not in harmony and each alien to the other’s logic. The verbs “counterfeit” and “create,” which beg the question, because they presuppose the metals of the coins. They recalled that all nouns such as Baal, God, Allah, and especially those laying between Aasith and Zarathustra, have only a metaphisical value.

They denounced the treacherous circumstance “slightly tarnished by Ixtab; the indigenous Mayan goddess of ‘suicide by hanging’. Ixtab acted the role of a variety creatures; sometime as a spirit, angel, or deity. It was common in the many religions of The First Earth to escort newly deceased souls from terra-firma to the afterlife. Ixtab’s role was not to judge the deceased, but simply to provide safe passage. She appeared — at different times and in different Mayan villages — as a horse, deer, dog, whip-poor-will, raven, crow, owl, sparrow or dove. When seen as a bird, she often waited outside the home of the suicidal, ready to accompany them to heaven. No certain renderings of Ixtab are known.

The First Earthers explained that equality is one thing and identity another, thereby formulating a kind of reduction to the point of being absurd. The hypothetical case of twelve men, who on a dozen nights, suffered adulterous wives could come nowhere to being as absurd. Would it not be ridiculous – they questioned – to pretend that this pain is one and the same? They said that the philosopher who created the above absurdium reductum was prompted only by the intention of attributing the divine category of Being to copper coins and that at times the sultan negated plurality and at other times did not. They argued: if equality implies identity, one would also have to admit that the coins are one. Unbelievably, these refutations were not definitive. A hundred years after the problem was stated, a priest no less brilliant than the philosopher but of orthodox tradition formulated a very daring hypothesis. This happy conjecture affirmed that there is only one object (a coin) and that this indivisible object is every Being in the universe and that these Beings are the organs and masks of spirituality.

The Eleventh Volume suggests that three prime reasons determined the complete victory of this toleration of all gods.  The first, its repudiation that only the self can know itself; the second, the possibility of preserving the psychological accepting of the sciences; the third, the possibility of preserving the cult of the gods.

[1] The History of India in nine volumes, Vol. V, 1907, Sir Henry Miers Elliot

The Land of Akbar; Post # 7 (Philosophers; and other ink mongers)

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The languages of The First Earth’s eastern hemisphere contain all the nouns of the Polynesian[1] languages – and many others as well. It is no exaggeration to state that the classic culture of The First Earth was nihilistic; as were subsets of theology. I have said that the men of this previous Earth planet conceived the universe as a series of mental processes which do not develop in space but successively in time. Our Spinoza ascribes — to his inexhaustible divine axioms — the attributes of extension and thought. No one on The First Earth could understand the juxtaposition of the first (which is typical only of certain mental states) and the second – which was a perfect synonym of the cosmos. In other words, they did not conceive that the spatial persists in time; or that the temporal persists in space. The perception of smoke on the horizon and then of the burning inner city and then of two-way racism (which produced the blaze) was considered an example of disassociation of ideas.

An anti-Nietzscheism or complete idealism invalidated all science. I believe a comparison is necessary.

If we Second Earthers contemplate a fact, we connect it with another fact; such linking appears to make the second fact subsequent to the first – which is not true – the second fact may be previous to the first.

Such linking, in The First Earth, was not a subsequent state of the subject but rather a simultaneous state. This did not – – and could not — affect or illuminate the previous sate. Every mental state was irreducible: the mere fact of naming it – i.e., of classifying it a fact – implied a falsification. It can be deduced that there were no sciences on The First Earth, not logic nor reason. The paradoxical truth is that facts — and states of mind — did exist, and in almost uncountable number. The same thing happened with philosophies as happened with nouns in the western hemisphere. The fact that every philosophy was by definition a dialectical game (philosophies of the alpha to the omega) had caused philosophers to multiply (and conversely, a shortage of ink).

Hemingway and I became engaged in several intellectual arguments over this. He thought that philosophical critique had no effect on the amount of ink that existed at any one time. I – on the other hand – offer this document as proof that the quantity of philosophers and the quantity of available ink is inversely proportional. Crimmins had no opinion on this matter.

There was an abundance of incredible systems of pleasing design or sensational type. The metaphysicians of The First Earth did not seek the truth — even for credibility — but rather for the effect of overwhelming the sheep. They judged that metaphysics was a branch of fantastic literature. They knew that a philosophical system was nothing more than the subordination of a power to will. Even the phrase “power to will” was rejected, for it supposed the impossible revaluation of the present and all past values. Neither was it permissible to use the plural “new values” since it supposed another philosophical system.

One of the schools of The First Earth went so far as to negate distance because it reasons that the cosmos is indeterminate and that the future had no reality other than as a prince-in-waiting. Another philosophy declared that all time was already transpired and that his life was only an imaginary curtain blowing in a false breeze. 

This, no doubt falsified and mutilated the Self.

[1] Inventors of the Polynomial, the Polygraph, polysyllables, and the chimerical polymath term “infinite ().”

The Land of Akbar; Post # 6 (Languages of The First Earth)

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Allow me to recall that the apparent contradictions of the Eleventh Volume are the essential basis for the proof that the other volumes exist. The current popular magazines – such as National Geographic, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Scientific News, and many others — with an indefensible overabundance — have spread news of the zoology and topography of The First Earth. One such magazine even had a fold-out three-dimensional map that was the actual size of The First Earth. I believe the size, opaqueness and ramparts of The First Earth no longer merit the continued attention of these periodicals; possibly so, perhaps not.

Hemingway, Crimmins and myself decided what The First Earth’s concept of the universe was rather unique; allow me to state some of the reasons for our line of thought.

Nietzsche noted for all time that Kant’s arguments did not deserve refutation, nor did they offer much of any argument. This aphorism is entirely correct in its application to the current earth, but entirely false in The First Earth.

The nations of this previous planet were congenitally idealist. Their language and the derivations of their language – theology, notes of Marquis, nanophysics – were all imagined idealism. The world for them was not a series of objects in space; it was a heterogeneous effervescence of concurrent acts. It is singular and yet spatial.

Image credit GALEX _ NASA _ JPL_Caltech

There were no nouns in The First Earth’s conjectural Mlãnhablar, from which no contemporary languages and dialects are derived. There were numerical factorials/!,; a series modified by limits with suffixes (or prefixes) of a numerical sequence. For example: there was no word corresponding to the word “ocean,”, but there was a verb which in English would be “to 6!” or “to an = a1 + (n – 1)d..” Example; “(ai)n where i=1 ”  and “an = an–1 + an–2 for n ≥ 3”, or literally: “upward behind the infinite eddy it oceanated.”

The above applies to the vernaculars of the western hemisphere. In those of the eastern hemisphere (on whose Mlãnkorero there is very little data in the Eleventh Volume) the prime unit was not the noun, but the polynomial. The polynomialism function is formed by an accumulation of constants, variables and – above all – powers (Foucault recorded the genealogy of exponential powers[1]). The people of the eastern hemisphere do not say “moon,” but rather “ 512v5 + 99w5 ” or “ x4 − 2x2 + x ” or any other such combination. In the example just described, the variables reference a real object, but the constants reference subjectivity.

This was purely fortuitous.

The nonfiction of the northern hemisphere (like the non-contingent existence in space and time in the world of Meinong[2]) abounded in ideal yet invisible objects, which were invoked and rejected in a nanosecond, according to political needs. At times they were determined by mere simultaneity. There were objects composed of two terms, one of tactile character and another of extrasensory perception; a few examples are necessary. The first was Marinettism[3]; tactilism. The feel of the snow tickling the nose. The second was extrasensory; the imagined call of the pileated woodpecker.  There were objects of many terms; the sun and the water reflecting in a person’s eyes, the ambiguous fervor of The Dark Abyss that they saw with their eyes closed (this has been imbedded in yet another ideal), the sensation of being haunted by dreams and, of course, by echoes. These objects which could only be felt — but never experienced — could be combined with others.

The use of certain acronyms and the process of defining new nouns (with suffixed verbs) was infinite. There are famous poems made up of one enormous polynomial. This mathematical function forms a poetic object created by the author. The fact that not a single inhabitant of the First Earth believed in the reality of number series paradoxically causes their number to be unending.

[1] Paul-Michel Foucault (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984), generally known as Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic. Foucault’s theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. [from Wikipedia]

[2] Alexius Meinong Ritter von Handschuchsheim (17 July 1853 – 27 November 1920) was an Austrian philosopher, a realist known for his unique ontology. He also made contributions to philosophy of mind and theory of value. [from Wikipedia]

[3] Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti (22 December 1876 – 2 December 1944), From; ‘The Manifesto of Tactilism’, Milan, 1921  “Tactilism is especially the province of young poets, pianists, writers and all fine and strong erotic temperaments. Tactilism must avoid cooperation, not only with creative art, but also with unhealthy eroticism. Its aim should be only a tactile harmony. In addition, tactilism will serve the perfectibility of spiritual contact between humans via the skin. The classification of five senses is not by any means decisive and one day it will be possible to discover and classify many other senses. Tactilism will assist such discoveries.”

The Land of Akbar; Post # 5 (Our Echoes of Previous Genius)

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An echo rang in my head. Two years prior I had discovered, in a volume of a certain pirated philosophical dictionary (which appeared to be a combination of the Oxford and Cambridge versions), a general explanation of an illusory planet identified as THE FIRST EARTH. At that moment, as I sat on a barstool in that Chateaugay tavern, I knew I had an opportunity which afforded me something more precious and demanding to research. I held in my hands an infinite systematic apportion of the previous planet’s history, with its infrastructure and its games, with the echoes of its traditions and a whisper of its languages, with its sovereigns and its rivers, with its natural resources and its Taurus and its Pisces representing the inverted cup, with its calculus and its funeral pyres, with its very own Материализм Томаса Гоббса, a theological and metaphysical thinker. And all of it uttered, reasoned, and with no pretentions or echoes.

Материализм Томаса Гоббса      AKA        Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

In the “Eleventh Volume” – of which I have recently been made aware — there are allusions to preceding and succeeding volumes. The fact is that up to now we have found nothing.

In vain Hemingway and I have upended the libraries of the two Americas and of Europe. Josh Crimmins – I have mentioned Josh before, he is the one who found a promising book in Utica – well, Josh was tired of these inferior investigative systems, and suggested that we should – as a team– undertake the task of reconstructing the many and weighty tomes that are lacking; starting from the beginning. He concluded that a generation of First Earthers should be sufficient.

This venturesome conclusion brought us back to the fundamental problem; “Who were the founders of The First Earth?” The plural was required, because a lone inventor – an Aquinas laboring his whole life away in a dark monastery cell– was prodigiously discounted. It was thought that this brave old world was the work of a secret society of people all working toward a common goal.

These previous echoes of our current thinkers akin to Galileo Galilei[1], Theodosius Grygorovych Dobzhansky[2], Nikola Tesla[3], Arthur Schopenhauer[4], Henry Charles Bukowski[5], Michael Faraday[6], and George Boole[7]  (as if such a concept could withstand temporal reasoning) apparently were directed by an obscure man of intellect. Our current individuals mastering these diverse schools are abundant. However, the geniuses of The First Earth must also have been capable of inventiveness and equally subordinating that inventiveness to a meticulous and organized plan. This plan appears so vast that the contribution of each man was infinitesimal. At first it was believed that The First Earth was a mere chaos, and foolish excess of the imagination; now it is known that it was the cosmos, and that the profound laws which govern things in their universe had been devised, at least tentatively.

[1] Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian polymath. Galileo is a central figure in the transition from natural philosophy to modern science and in the transformation of the scientific Renaissance into a scientific revolution. Galileo’s championing of heliocentrism was controversial during his lifetime. [from Wikipedia]

[2] Theodosius Grygorovych Dobzhansky (January 25, 1900 – December 18, 1975) was a prominent Ukrainian-American geneticist and evolutionary biologist, and a central figure in the field of evolutionary biology for his work in shaping the modern synthesis. [from Wikipedia]

[3] Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. [from Wikipedia]

[4] Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation (expanded in 1844), wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. [from Wikipedia]

[5] Henry Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer. His writing was influenced by social, cultural, and economic ambience, ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. [from Wikipedia]

[6] Michael Faraday (22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist/chemist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. [from Wikipedia]

[7] George Boole (November 1815 – 8 December 1864) was a largely self-taught English mathematician, philosopher and logician, most of whose short career was spent as the first professor of mathematics at Queen’s College, Cork in Ireland. He worked in the fields of differential equations, algebraic logic, and is best known as the author of The Laws of Thought (1854) which contains Boolean algebra. Boolean logic is credited with laying the foundations for the information age. [from Wikipedia]

The Land of Akbar; Post # 4 (Dr. Webb)

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I have a limited and waning memory, in a human form of artwork — charcoal on slab wood – that echoes an image of a Dr. W. Seward Webb; “Seward”, as he was known. He was the man who presided over the building of the Adirondack and St. Lawrence railway. This memorial is displayed in a saloon in Chateaugay, NY. It may have been either the “Hay House”, “The Halfway House” or “The Chateaugay Hotel.” (Memory does not serve me well these days.) The rendering rests above the bronze spittoons and brass rails that kept the inebriates’ elbows off the bar. This, my fellow humans, is the remainder of illusive depths and echoes that at one time had  joined together to make up a thriving town.

I asked Hemingway if he had ever visited Chateaugay which was located just north of the Adirondack Blue Line. He admitted that the farthest north he had ever been was Aiden Lair. I thought to myself that at least the Deep North Woods had been spared his chatter. But he did say that he had once played poker with Dr. Webb in a hotel bar in Long Lake.

In Webb’s lifetime, he suffered from a driven reality, as do so many men of honor. Once dead, as is typical, he was even more the leader than he was when alive. He was tall and enthusiastic, and his unique beard had once been black. It is my understanding he was a native of New York City and graduated as a surgeon from Columbia College in 1875.

He met Lila Vanderbilt in 1877 and they married in 1881. They had four children: Frederica, James Watson, William Seward, Jr., and Vanderbilt. In 1883, Seward entered the Vanderbilt family railway businesses as President of both the Wagner Palace Car Company and the St. Lawrence & Adirondack Railroad. He and Lila often hosted state and national dignitaries at Shelburne Farms, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. [1]

In his later years, Seward would go to his Adirondack Great Camp named NeHaSane, a game preserve of some 200,000 acres, to commune with  a cliff and a few Tamarac trees.

He and my great uncle had entered into one of those close (the adjective is unwarranted) friendships that begin by not sharing secrets and very soon dispense with conversation. They once carried out an exchange of books and newspapers and engaged in noisy poker games. However, those days had long passed.

My memory of Seward  was him sitting on a lodge porch, with a medical book in his hand, sometimes listening to the irrecoverable echoes of the railroad. One afternoon, we spoke of fishing at Chasm Falls (where rapids sing in western culture’s key of C). Seward said that he was considering a visit to High Falls (where the roar echoes the eastern culture’s sad key of Ab-minor).

He added that the idea of the visit had been sown via a story orated by Norwegian metaphysician who lived in Brushton. Nothing more was said – may God have mercy on his soul – of fishing.

In September of 1926 Seward Webb died of an addiction to morphine.

 That evening I casually mentioned to Hemingway that I had a strange book in my possession . Ernest pleaded with me to divulge the contents of such a book and how I came about possessing it. Much to my chagrin – before I even realized it – he had wedeled the story out of me.

A few days before Webb’s death, he had received a sealed and certified package from Blodgett Mills, New York. It was a book in large print. Webb left it at the bar in Chateaugay where – months later – it was turned over to me by the bartender. I untied the string that held it together and studied the plain brown wrapping which declared “TO: Dr. Webb, Shelburne Farms, Vermont.” There was no return address, however it did have, as I earlier stated, a postmark of Blodgett Mills, NY.

The book was in English and contained 999 pages. On the tanned leather spine, I read these curious words which were repeated on the title page: The First Philosophical dictionary of Mlãn. Vol. VI. Realth to Regnaj. There was no indication of date or city of publication. Also, on the Title page, which lay between two thin gold foils of the same size, there was a raised stamp with this inscription: THE FIRST EARTH.

[1] https://shelburnefarms.org/about/history/whos-who

 

The Land of Akbar; Post # 3 (Haslam and Quatrich)

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Hemingway and I continued our attempt to analyze deeper meaning from the tome that he had brought back from Albany; whose corruption appears to grow greater, day by day. (But I rant – and have once again – detoured from my path on the story of Akbar)

 

The section on Language and Literature (approximately page 36) was brief. Only one trait is worthy of recollection. It noted that the literature of Akbar was one of chimera — a hope or dream that is extremely unlikely ever to come true — and that its chefs-d’oeuvre and meisterwerkes referred not to reality, but to the two imaginary regions of Tlejnas and Mlãn… The bibliography enumerated four volumes which we have not yet found, though the third – Silas Haslam: History of the Land Called Akbar, 1874 – can, at times, be found in the catalogs of Bernard Quartich’s book shop.

 

 

 

Silas Haslam had written, during the first years of his impending blindness, this elegant book; a masterwork of scholarship. Adding to its appeal are the hauntingly beautiful illustrations, all provided by Haslam’s wife Anna, a Viennese art student who was later treated for schizophrenia and died in an English sanitarium, three years after his death. Starting with a discussion of labyrinthine symbolism seen in prehistoric cave paintings, Haslam traces the development of the labyrinth through Celtic neolithic spirals to the mythic “lost labyrinth” of the Chinese governor Ts’ui Pen. No stone is left unturned as Haslam skillfully weaves an intricate tapestry of mazes across the warp and weft of time: the Cretan masterpiece of Dedalus, the fanciful hedge mazes of the European aristocracy, the twisting letters of illuminated calligraphy seen in both the Scriptures and the Qu’ran — even the religious discussions of Uqbar, the topic of his first book, are likened to mazes. Haslam expertly displays his particular genius in the way he relates the nature of physical labyrinths to other, more metaphysical ideas, such as religion, philosophy, and the then emerging field of psychology.[1]

 

In vain, Hemingway and I exhausted atlases, catalogs, annuals of geographical societies, travelers’ and historians’ memoirs: no one had ever been in Akbar. Neither did the general index of Hemingway’s newfound Albany philosophical dictionary – a copy of Voltaire I must remind you — discuss that name without innuendo and confusion. The following day, Josh Crimmins, to whom I had related the matter by phone, noticed a – gold-on-purple — cover of the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia in a bookshop in Utica, near the corner of Bleeker and Mohawk Streets. He entered and examined the 1st Volume (Aardvark to Dystopia). Of course, he did not find the slightest indication of Akbar.

 

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13481515-a-general-history-of-labyrinths

 

The Land of Akbar; Post # 2 (Hemingway’s Discovery)

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The following day, Hemingway called me from Albany. He told me he had found the article on Akbar, in a copy of The Dictionnaire Philosophique. The philosopher’s’ name was not recorded, but there was a note on his doctrine, formulated in words almost identical to those Ernest had stated the previous evening — though perhaps literally superior. Ernest had recalled: “echoes and fornication increase the number of philosophers.” Ernest corrected his memory by reading the text of the philosophical dictionary that he had discovered in the Arbor Hill/West Hill Branch of the Albany Library.

“For the knowers, the visible earth is an illusion or — more precisely — a fallacious argument, especially one used deliberately to deceive. Echoes and fatherhood are abominable because they multiply and disseminate the story of The First Earth.”

 

I told him, in all truthfulness, that I should like to see that article.

 

A few days later he brought the single, yet ancient, volume to Aiden Lair. This surprised me, since the volume appeared priceless; however, knowing that Hemingway had connections throughout New York City — and the corrupt capital of Albany — it was not an impossibility. I had, years ago, studied the scrupulous cartographical indices of Ukrainian Rеографія which were bountifully ignorant of the name Akbar. I was hoping that what Hemingway held in his hands was not part of that twenty-four-volume set.

 

The tome Ernest returned with was, in fact, a lithographic copy of The Dictionnaire Philosophique. On the title page and the spine – gold print on a purple background — the alphabetical order regarding the range of material that could be found within — (Christianity; Alpha to Omega) — was for all appearances identical to our copy at Aiden Lair. However, instead of 344 pages, it contained 348 pages; all four were located subsequent to the first thirty-some pages. These four additional pages contained a lengthy commentary on Akbar, which — as the reader will have noticed — was indicated by the alphabetical marking on the spine. We quickly determined that there was no other difference between the volume that Hemingway had returned with and the volume we found on the dusty shelf of the Aiden Lair book collection. Both, as I believe I have indicated, are reprints of the The Dictionnaire Philosophique. We read the article on Akbar with great care. The passage recalled by Ernest, the previous evening, was perhaps the only surprising one. The rest of it seemed very plausible, quite in keeping with the customary tone of the work and — as is natural — a bit boring. Reading it a second time, we discovered beneath its primary prose lay a secondary vagueness.

  

Of the fourteen names which were listed in the geographical description, we only recognized three – Xwarāsān[1], Armenia[2],  and Erzerum Province[3]. These three were intertwined in the text in an ambiguous way.

 

Of the historical biographical names, only one — The False Smerdis — whose following words were cited more as an allegory than a fact.

 

I have both made myself the murderer of my brother, when there was no need, and I have been deprived none the less of the kingdom — for it was in fact the real Smerdis the Magician of whom the divine power declared to me beforehand in the vision that he should rise up against me.”

 

Neither Hemingway nor myself could seem to make sense out of that rather short paragraph.

 

The geographical references seemed to fix the boundaries of Akbar, but its ill-defined reference points were mountain streams, hollows between them and caverns beneath the cliffs. We read, for example, that the lowlands of Mandarin Chua and the island of Achsah (the fourth one in the Delta) marked the southern frontier and, where, on this island, saints procreated; their progeny being philosophers. All this, on the 1st part of the article on Akbar.

In the historical section (I believe this started around page 34 or 35, if my memory serves me well) we learned that as the result of the religious persecutions of the thirteenth century, the conformist herd sought refuge on these islands, where to this day their crypts remain and where it is not uncommon for archaeologists to unearth their echoes.

[1] a historical region lying in northeast of Greater Persia .  [From Wikipedia]

[2]  bordered by Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Iran to the south, and Turkey to the south and west .                [From Wikipedia]

[3] bordered by the provinces of Kars and Ağrı to the east, Muş and Bingöl to the south, Erzincan and Bayburt to the west, Rize and Artvin to the north and Ardahan to the northeast .  [From Wikipedia] .  [From Wikipedia]

 

The Land of Akbar; Post #1 (an introduction)

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I must thank two uncertainties for the discovery of Akbar[1]; an echo and a philosophical dictionary.

The echo disturbs anyone who finds himself in a specific ancient dusty great-room which has the odor of yellowing print material. This great-room is located in the once grand summer lodge of Aiden Lair. Aiden Lair may be found with great difficulty (if at all) in the depths of the Adirondack Mountains. The    philosophical dictionary was possibly labeled The Dictionnaire Philosophique, Voltaire, 1764. It was a literal but anachronistic reprint of the Philosophical Dictionary, Stanford, 1995. The event that I am about to describe to you took place a half century ago – therefore you must forgive my memory – for the ‘possibly labeled’ comment.

Ernest Hemingway invited me to an evening meal of trout and venison that he had prepared over a wood fire. He had gathered the wood from the forest behind Aiden Lair lodge. We became engaged in a long dial0gue over how to go about composing a short story by an author who would omit or lie about the facts and not be bothered about the amateurishness of his research. We finally decided that this would permit very few readers to perceive the appalling and boring reality that would face them throughout the entire text.

But, once again, I wander as I traipse around the edges of plagiarizing Borges.

From the remote darkness of the great-room, the echo listened to Ernest and me as we continued our discussion. We found that such a discovery as an echo is inevitable in the quiet of the Adirondacks. Echoes in these North Woods – and especially at night — have something supernatural about them.

Then, once we were sure that the echo was no longer interested in our conversation, Ernest recalled that an unknown saint who had influence over Akbar the Emperor had declared that echoes and fornication increase the number of philosophers. I asked him the origin of this remarkable observation and he answered that it was written in The Voynich Manuscript[2], in its section labeled “Akbar.”

We had rented The Aiden Lair Lodge in its entirety, yet totally unfurnished, except for two cots, two sleeping bags and a magnificent library. The great-room held the library, and this is where we found the The Dictionnaire Philosophique. It was located on a dusty shelf next to a pair of over-used snow shoes. On the last pages of Voltaire’s work appeared an article on The Telugu people.[3] On one particular page of Voltaire was a paragraph on the race, which may or may not have populated the Nicobar Islands, but not a word about Akbar. Hemingway, a bit astounded, poured over every page of the index of the manuscript. In vain he considered all the imaginable codes, diagrams, schemas and symbology. Before we finished the meal of wild game, he pompously informed me of his knowledge — several times. One such piece of information that Hemingway shared with me — even though I implored him several times to stop his incessant chatter — was that Akbar was not only a Mughal Emperor but also a region of Andhra Pradesh or Asia Minor. A second piece of information, once again unconvincingly shared by Earnest, was that this region was named after Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar. I must confess that I agreed with this conjecture but informed him that his apparent self-importance was giving me a headache. I speculated – to myself — that this undocumented country of Akbar and its anonymous saint were a fiction devised by Ernest to rationalize his proclamation. As I remember, Ernest was not typically straightforward.

After Hemingway departed the library for a cigarette, I located an 1838 Holmes Hutcheson Atlas on a lower shelf (beneath the old fractured snowshoes). Subsequently this atlas also proved to be unproductive in the search for Akbar. This atlas justified my doubt about Hemingway’s grand proclamations.

Later that evening, Ernest and I agreed to forego the Akbar question for the sake of friendship. I only acquiesced to this because he said he would travel to Albany, NY the following day. This I allowed, if only to see what he could find in the libraries and archives of that corrupt city. Knowing Hemingway and his search for a good story, I felt comfortable that he would succeed in locating some text relating to Akbar. We finished up the evening discussing how Theodore Roosevelt had stopped at this very lodge – Aiden Lair — on his way to assuming the presidency from McKinley on September 14, 1901. Hemingway recited the entire story from memory.

“President McKinley was visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. He was rubbing elbows at a social function — where other muckity-mucks could meet him — when he was shot twice by Leon Czolgosz, a member of an anarchist movement. Roosevelt immediately went to Buffalo. McKinley’s health appeared to be on the mend. Therefore, on the advice of the president’s office, Roosevelt departed Buffalo to return to the Adirondack Mountains. Roosevelt traveled to the Tahawus Club near Newcomb, NY in the Adirondacks. Word reached Roosevelt that McKinley’s condition suddenly turned worse. In the middle of the night, Roosevelt became impatient. Against the advice of others at the Club he decided to head for Buffalo. Nineteen miles later, he stopped at Aiden Lair Lodge to change his horses. Mike Cronin, the Aiden Lair overseer, accompanied Roosevelt the rest of the way to the North Creek train station.”

[1] Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, popularly known as Akbar I IPA, was the third Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1556 to 1605. [From Wikipedia]

[2] The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The vellum on which it is written has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438) [From Wikipedia]

[3] The Telugu people or Teluguvaaru are a Dravidian ethnic group that natively speak Telugu. The majority of Telugus reside in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and town of Yanam in Union Territory Pondicherry.  [From Wikipedia]