Living in such a state taTestaTesTaTe etats a hcus ni gniviL of mind in which time sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA emit hcihw ni dnim of does not pass, space STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE ecaps ,ssap ton seod does not exist, and sTATeSt oFOfOfo dna ,tsixe ton seod idea is not there. STatEst ofoFOFo .ereht ton si aedi Stuck in a place staTEsT OfOFofo ecalp a ni kcutS where movements TATeSTa foFofoF stnemevom erehw are impossible fOFoFOf elbissopmi era in all forms, UfOFofO ,smrof lla ni physical and nbEifof dna lacisyhp or mental - uNBeInO - latnem ro your mind is UNbeinG si dnim rouy focusing on a unBEING a no gnisucof lone thing, or NBeINgu ro ,gniht enol a lone nothing. bEinGUn .gnihton enol a You are numb and EiNguNB dna bmun era ouY unaware to events stneve ot erawanu taking place - not iSSUE ton - ecalp gnikat knowing how or what 3/31/01 tahw ro who gniwonk to think. You are in SiXTY-NiNE ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Isn't that what they always say? So, here we are, yet again, missing a month, and I am to blame. As usual. This is becoming a habit. As for those of you still waiting to hear the word on your submissions, I am about to respond to you in a big way. Your mailbox may die from the sheer veracity of my words.
Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.
I had some drinks and watched some great videos last night made by two guys from Austin, Leo Mandel and Andy Fisher, formerly of the improv troupe Only 90% Effective (which also included SoB alum Hagbard). The four episodes of Delirium should be swiped up as soon as you find them. If you're in Austin, you can rent them at Waterloo Video, I Luv Video, or Vulcan Video. It's crazy, demented, and very, very funny. For more information, go to www.weepirate.com.
Henry Fonda didn't know that drinking the illegal alcohol would cause his heart to do funny things. After getting hooked on the drink loved by the French decadents, he went and saw his doctor, complaining about chest pains. "Of course you have chest pains," his doctor told him. "Absinthe makes the heart grow, Fonda."
This isn't an April Fool's issue because, well, it's April Fools, and we've already had enough of that nonsense. Mostly non-fiction, because the next issue looks like it's gonna be mostly fiction. We try to achieve a cohesive balance in this way, flip-flopping content over issues like a dying trout on the banks of Lake Burnet. Mardi Gras violence, evolution, dysfunctional relationships, and your editor used as an adjective -- it's all here.
A traveling salesman went out on the road, and, as in most traveling salesman jokes, was tempted by voluptuous women at every door he knocked on. He had a wife back home, though, and, even though it would be easier to sell encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners and ginsu knives to bored housewives who needed a break from their boring husbands, he refused. Upon his return home, relating the events to a shocked wife, he simply remarked, "Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder."
And really, the one fiction piece we have in this issue is really, really good. It should stand alone, and I hope you have the same reaction I did when I woke up before work one morning, loaded my email, and stared at my screen, thinking that this is why I love putting out a zine.
Hopefully that love will continue on a regular basis. And you should continue to watch the website for further projects, as we are about to launch some sort of streaming audio programming. We're still unsure about all of the content, but if you have any suggestions, feel free to email us. At last I've found a use for all of these damned CDs I own.
From firstname.lastname@example.org To: kilgore <email@example.com> Subject: letter to the editor. C. Pompeius Kilgorius, I have been struggling for some time now attempting to grasp a true, undeniable reason regarding this matter, but continue to fall short of acquiring such clarity. Often, while watching the news, or occasionally eyeing a special speech or report given in primetime hours on major television stations, I encounter the face and voice of a man in a suit, with freshly combed hair, speaking words that he obviously did not write himself. He stutters over words with multiple syllables, he puts incredibly incorrect accents and emphasis on the wrong syllables in these words, as well as the wrong words in these sentences, he seems to finish sentences at improper and abrupt moments, and by no means conveys that he has even an iota of understanding of what he is speaking of. Rarely do they flash up the person's name or title at the bottom of the television screen, as it seems to be apparent who he is: the President of the United States. Outside of the simplistic answer of 'he is surrounded by intelligent people' that I hear many people give, why in any supreme being's name does this man possess the respect and reverence given to him by the American populace? And not only the American populace, but other politicians, political commentators, etc., etc. Is it that everyone feels simply to embarrassed to flat out state that the man seems to be an idiot? I guess it's obviously crossing a big line if you go out on a limb and do so -- the position of President of the United States itself commands respect. I must apologize, but I can not bear to watch this man speak. It is bad enough when he is reciting a well-prepared, reviewed, orchestrated speech. And the worst comes when he is asked 'live' questions, or attempts to give 'live' answers -- this is when he pulls out malicious, salesman smirks and three word quips for an answer. His facial expressions, tone of voice, and mannerisms are horrid, giving no respect to any other being I've seen him been around. He approaches military officials, leaders of other countries, local politicians, as if he's about to whoop their ass in stickball. Every time I see this man on television, read about him in the papers, I feel as though the entire escapade is fiction -- I can not come to terms with the fact that the man is the President of the United Stated. It obviously must be a joke. How anyone can truly feel as though they are safe and all is well with this man at the head of the country absolutely baffles me. Please. Please make it stop. Extremely concerned, M. Tullius Clockworkius
[you have too much faith in my abilities as a reality-shaper. i am not one of the nine princes of amber, nor do i have crazy god-like powers. well, most of the time, anyway, but they're pretty unreliable and tend to backfire if i don't pull them off. perhaps we at apocalypse culture productions should offer the president a crash course in grammar and literature. we would, in effect, be making the pie 'higher' instead of larger. i'm sure a government contract to tutor the president would establish our position in the educational field, and it would also get us invited to those infamous 'back room deals.' i love a smoky, cigar filled room where shady pacts and treaties signed with blood are made. will they go for it? i don't think so, but it wouldn't hurt to try. the only other alternative i see is to corrupt his daughters with lots of drugs and booze. that would probably be easier than teaching george what a dangling participle is.]
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: FOCUS and REXX in VM/CMS Mainframe, over 10 years I have over 10 years in FOCUS and REXX in a VM/CMS Mainframe environment. If you have anything in the New York City area I can send you a full resume. Thank you.
[hrm. well, we don't currently have any offices in new york city as they are being used right now by squatters. however, if you see a man walking down a street (any man will do), tell him about your 10 years of experience in FOCUS and REXX and he'll probably be even less interested than i was when i received this email.]
From: Merkury Black To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: SoB mailing list add me to the state of unbeing mailing list reason: reason: reason: reason: reason: ! (please)
[well, okay. since you said the magic word. other magic words or phrases that are acceptable are 'abrahadabra,' 'hekas, hekas este bebeloi,' and 'pookie loves me.']
From email@example.com Fri Mar 16 00:19:25 2001 From: misfit To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: i'll be damned whoa. kilgore trout. how goes it man? i'm sure you don't remember me, i was about 15 back in '94, just getting into the bbs scene in austin, and i stumbled upon some board (can't recall the name right now) with an assortment of files starting with SoB. so, being a young hacker dork, i downloaded em, thinking i was getting something naughty. what i found was this zine called state of unbeing, with articles and stories by you, i wish my name was nathan, griphon, etc, and i was hooked. i swapped messages with you guys on a few bbs's in austin, downloaded every new issue (up to, i think, #12 or so), and i was diggin it. anywho, my family moved to pennsylvania, i lost touch, but by then i was a full-fledged doodleboy in the ansi scene, blah blah blah. anyway, a few years later i met mogel and eerie, the guys who did doomed to obscurity, and they said that SoB was still around, and i read a few more issues. then i started moving all over the fucking place, from virginia to arizona, and i lost touch again. so imagine my surprise when i stumble on mogel's text website and find a link to the SoB page. can't believe you guys are still pumping out text zines, but it makes me happy as well. think you could stick me on your mailing list? i'm gonna go read the most recent issue, and dig around some of the archives, but i just wanted to drop you a line and say hello, again. thanks for keeping text zines alive, much like ansi these days, its a dying art. take care man. misfit
[finally. after years and years of wondering, the hypothesis has finally been proven. when we started the zine, we made a conscious decision to make the acronym 'SoB' instead of 'SoU' because, well, 'SoU' looks really, really stupid. changing the capitalization of a couple of letters in 'unbeing' did the trick, giving us the authority to use 'SoB'. we also hoped the 'naughty' factor would kick in as well, and now we have proof. yee-haw! it should also be noted that late in the first year of publication, a hacker group calling themselves 'Sovereigns of Bell' called my bbs and harrassed me to change SoB to SoU, claiming they had rights to the acronym. and where are they now? as for us, well, i have this strange feeling that we'll be around until the sun dies out or ed bradley becomes a permanent resident in my dreams. let's hope the latter option doesn't become reality.]
Due to the national interest in the recent violence in Austin the weekend preceding Mardi Gras 2001, it seems worthwhile to put into ASCII this eyewitness account of those events. This is the account of what I saw and heard Saturday night and early Sunday morning. These are the observations of but one man who saw only part of the events that transpired; I offer them for whatever the public and posterity choose to make of them.
The Mardi Gras festivities in Austin were confined by the City to Austin's Sixth Street or Old Pecan Street. This is a minor road in the heart of downtown Austin, running one way, from west to east. The road is lined by clubs, restaurants, and bars, in some of AustinÆs best preserved nineteenth century buildings, which extend from the Interstate 35 access road in the east westward towards Congress Avenue, though they peter out a few blocks before Congress, around Brazos Street. The Sixth Street district (including its alleyways and side streets, spilling onto Seventh Street) is one of two major entertainment districts in Austin, the other being the more upscale Warehouse District about a mile or so to the west. Sixth Street is about seven blocks south of the Texas State Capitol grounds, and a little over five blocks north of a small park on the Colorado RiverÆs north bank. The City's main police station and courthouse is located at the corner of Seventh Street and the I-35 access road. Sixth Street and its side streets are often closed on weekend nights, restricted to pedestrian traffic. This is how it was on Mardi Gras night, with both Sixth Street and all its side streets between (but not including) about Brazos Street or San Jacinto Boulevard in the west and Red River Road in the east closed. Sixth Street itself was closed all the way from about Congress Avenue in the west to the access road to I-35 in the east.
I first arrived at Sixth Street about ten p.m. on Saturday, 24 February, and walked up and down that street and its side streets. Police presence was very noticeable -- one of my first sights of the festivities included six mounted police officers riding from an alleyway onto Trinity and then onto Sixth Street. Foot police stood in groups of two to four up and down the street. Watching one of these, I noticed he had strapped onto his side a wicked-looking martial arts tool; a light beige wooden stick about three feet long with grooves cut into it, I presume as hand grips, about a hand's breadth from each end. I assumed at first that this was a confiscated weapon, but then noticed that most if not all of the foot police had these weapons. I believe they carried them in place of traditional billyclubs, as I do not recall seeing any of the latter weapons. At that time the police seemed to be taking a strategy of non-engagement. I saw no engagements between the police and the crowd, and while many of the policemen turned two open eyes to numerous violations of anti-nudity laws, I noticed no attempt to enforce these laws. I noticed no one holding open bottles -- holding open alcohol containers being a crime in that area of Austin -- so I do not know if police could have averted later events by being more vigilant in this area. I do not remember seeing any riot gear or weapons beyond these clubs.
When I came upon the theater of action, about 1:50 a.m. on Sunday the twenty-fifth of February, the police had already formed a phalanx at the western end of Sixth Street, I believe around Sixth and Brazos or San Jacinto -- the limit of the closed side streets. I was walking southbound down Red River Road, which marked the eastern boundary of the closed side streets, when I turned west onto Sixth. At Sixth and Red River a police car was stopped next to a police barrier on the western side of Red River -- that closest to the action. Officers were arresting a pink haired woman in pink who seemed to be trying to talk her way out of her predicament. Walking westward, I was passed by one or two waves of people running eastward. They were frantic, but they did not show any sign of being gassed. Naturally I headed to where I could get a good view of the action, about a block from the police.
For quite some time the phalanx of officers merely faced down the crowd. I would estimate there were approximately ten to a dozen mounted police, with probably twenty to thirty foot police, spread side to side across the road and sidewalks. By this time they were all wearing riot helmets, and the foot officers held their stick weapons in front of them. Strangely, no one had riot shields. They stood in this way for quite some time, as the crowd gathered in front of them. Many people were angry; many others seemed merely curious. Finally somebody threw some Mardi Gras beads and almost simultaneously a young man standing about half a block from the officers threw a bottle into their midst -- it landed behind the front officers, but I didn't see if it hit anyone behind them. The officers took this as a cue. One officer on the mid-south side of the phalanx sprayed mace or tear gas into the crowd. It was a single jet, but so much of the chemical was released that I thought at first that it was a water cannon. Of course those hit by the worst of the gas were not the ones throwing things; they were simply the closest people. The stream lasted only a few seconds, and then the police began marching forward as the crowd fled before them. To avoid being crushed by the crowd, and for fear of being beaten or arrested, I turned and ran eastward a few blocks. During the retreat I several times saw people pause and throw bottles, Mardi Gras beads, and other things I could not identify. I did not specifically see any rocks or pavement chunks thrown, as people talked of later. As the wave continued flowing towards me, I continued to the corner of Sixth and Red River and stood on the southwest corner.
It should be noted that I saw no one resist the tide of the police, and at no time did I see officers make use of their clubs. The only violence I saw consisted of members of the crowd throwing debris and police gassing the crowd.
At Red River, the police officer I saw earlier was standing by his car yelling, "Go that way! Go that way!" pointing to the north. My position at the southwest corner seemed safe enough; so I stayed to see what happened. More people ran towards me before the proceeding phalanx, covering their noses and mouths, coughing and crying. This may have been the result of a second chemical stream, but most likely they had been hit by the first gassing. The wind was blowing generally eastward, and towards the end even I began coughing. More sensitive people suffered earlier even this far from the original gassing, which I believe was about six or seven blocks. The police by this point reached Red River and began to bow outward, giving the impression that they might break into two groups and sweep both ways down Red River. This of course would foolishly expose their rear to attack from the hostile crowd, and they stopped in this position. To avoid the police and the gas, I moved about half a block down Red River and stopped to watch the action with other onlookers.
When the phalanx arrived at Red River, they stopped and formed a slightly horse-shoed shape extending from the building-lines and bowing out to near the police barrier. As mentioned earlier, Red River Road was not closed to traffic, though Sixth Street was closed both east and west of Red River. This resulted in a very bad situation. A crowd gathered on the wide sidewalks of Red River both north and south of Sixth Street. A large crowd was already gathered east of Red River on the closed portion of Sixth Street, and this group was gradually being reinforced, in part by individuals fleeing the phalanx. Meanwhile, Red River was at no time empty of cars. Traffic on this road, which carries both north- and southbound traffic, was aggravated due to the closing of other north-south streets, and, as the police forces were tied up in the phalanx, they were unable to close this street. Traffic was so bad that even when the light was red vehicles were constantly in the intersection. Members of the crowd had been chanting "Fuck the poh-lice!" even before the phalanx began to move; now more voices took up the chant. Others gave advice on how to deal with the gas: "Breathe through your nose and not through your mouth." Somebody mentioned Alex Jones. It smelled like somebody broke a weak stink bomb at about this time, though it may have been the police gas. At this point a hostile crowd with projectile weapons faced stationary police with hand-combat and chemical weapons across several lanes of traffic, a police barrier, and a police car. The crowd clearly had the advantage in this situation, at least temporarily.
During this second standoff I do not remember seeing anything thrown by the crowd, though my memory is hazy on this account. The police for their part stood their ground but did nothing to further antagonize the crowd. This uneasy state lasted for some minutes, but soon sirens began to sound in the distance. A police car was in position on Red River south of Sixth Street around the intersection with Fifth Street -- I believe it moved there after the second standoff began. At any rate, police reinforcements were clearly on the way, and police seemed to be beginning to attempt to close Fifth Street. I suspected officers would soon begin to round up people on this street. Since the phalanx was doing nothing and the probability of arrest for failure to disperse or criminal mischief seemed to be greatly increasing, I decided to move.
My car was five blocks to the south and about another six blocks or so to the west, in a small pay lot on the corner of Cesar Chavez (First Street) and Trinity. I first went to Fifth Street in order to proceed east, but, except for narrow sections of the side walk on either side of the street, this avenue was completely closed and fenced in due to construction. It seemed a bad idea to allow myself to be trapped in such a narrow area, so I backtracked to Red River and went down an alley between Sixth and Fifth Streets.
Many of the clubs have back doors which open onto this alley, and these seem to have been opened in order to evacuate. The police began their march before the clubs closed, so people remaining in the clubs had to either evacuate through the rear or onto the cleared, though gas-filled, street. I believe people took both routes. Swarms of people spilled down side alleys from Sixth Street into the alley between Sixth and Fifth, coughing and crying and covering their noses and mouths with their hands. I do not know if this was due to the residual gas in the street or due to subsequent gassings, and I do not know if police remained to clear the street behind the phalanx or if the gas did the work for them. At any rate, the chaos had spread into the alley, where the police had no presence and no control, and people were rushing in waves eastward. People congregating in the alley before the action were forced to drop their joints, and everyone ran through the acrid marijuana haze. I hurried back eastward and found a way back onto fifth. Despite the narrowness of fifth, movement was much easier and calmer than in the alley. I took this street part of the way, and then moved to alleyways again. I passed a couple of police officers next to an unmarked car at a dead end, but they made no effort to stop anyone and were not heading towards Sixth. Without further incident I reached my car at about 2:30 a.m. -- I had witnessed about thirty-five to forty minutes of the action, though as I understand it the trouble continued for about half an hour to an hour more. Driving north on Congress past west Sixth Street I saw no sign of the chaos as I headed home.
According to the Cable News Network Online ("Violence mars Mardi Gras parties in Austin, Seattle," datelined Austin, 25 February 2001, web posted 1:14 p.m. EST; http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/02/25/mardi.gras.melee/ index.html) report on the events, six police cars were vandalized, either having windows broken or having their side mirrors ripped off. I saw none of this vandalism, so I cannot say if it occurred during the standoffs or as people left the scene, or even if the vandalism occurred earlier in the night and was unconnected to these events.
The CNN story further says that, during the entire night of the 24th to the 25th, about thirty-five people were arrested. This included all arrests, not just those related to the events I have just related, and number only fourteen more than were arrested the night before. I do not believe the word "riot" can properly be applied to these events.
The cause of this violence is somewhat disputed. No one in the crowd seemed to know what was going on that night. According to CNN:
At 2 a.m., officers were called to break up a fight on 6th Street in the downtown entertainment district, where a crowd estimated at 100,000 was celebrating the holiday. Instead, they ended up in the center of a melee.
The timeframe on this report is untrue, and I also believe that a simple fight would not result in a phalanx of the sort I observed. The phalanx was already in place at about 1:50 when I came across it. (I looked at my timepiece as I left the club I was in on Red River between Sixth and Seventh Streets; the time was about 1:45.) Likewise, whatever fight may have taken place was not of the sort that would have necessitated clearing the street. Other reports, I am told, claimed police were trying to break up "numerous fights." I saw no fights at all at any time that night, including just prior to the advance of the phalanx. If there was a fight, it was completely cleared up when I came upon the scene. At that point, the police could have dispersed, but instead they stood in a phalanx until the crowd grew violent and then they began to sweep the street. It seems most likely to me that the police had already decided to clear the street at 2 a.m. in order to bring the festivities to an end. This is when, by law, the sale of alcohol must stop, and many of the bars and clubs close at this time. But they probably had not expected they would antagonize the crowd by their presence as they prepared for two o'clock, and when members of the crowd turned violent the police probably decided to move early.
Of course, this is only my opinion. The only place I found any mention of a set time festivities must end is a 22 February press release on the Downtown Jam website ("Mardi Gras events bring street closures to Sixth Street area;" http://www.downtownjam.com/news/release_111.html ), which says some roads may be closed without advance notice, but that all roads would be reopened by 6 a.m. Monday, 26 February. But it was the understanding of members of the crowd whom I overheard that the festivities would end at two a.m., and an enforcement of this unofficial time seems to me the most likely reason for the forming of a phalanx when and where it was formed. Should new information come to me that suggests a follow-up I will present it to State of unBeing, but this is how I understand the events of the 24th to the 25th as I write this report, less than twenty-four hours after they transpired.
How do I find myself in these situations? It seems as though I gravitate toward entropy, or more precisely, entropically-charged situations. Take now, for example. I'm in a relationship, a very comfortable and beneficial, healthy relationship. Why, then, am I so eager to destroy it?
I've given this a lot of thought and decided that I cannot accept those things that are good in my life. I can't. Why else would I act like such a nihilist? But, I was talking about now.
D___ and L_______. Well, isn't it great how we can so easily give up a sure thing for something completely unsure? D___ and I had been dating for about six months, and we had one of those unhealthily intense ô codependent relationships. Six months in, and I made my horrible mistake.
She came from a broken home and lived with her father, stepmother and stepsister. I met her during lunch one afternoon in high school. I was reading the Tarot for my best friend's girlfriend, and D___ was one of the people watching. I'd never noticed her before, and didn't notice her this time; whenever I do anything spiritual, I tend to concentrate to the point of near oblivion, and that time was no exception.
I don't know what it was about me that day -- my intensity, or the reactions of others to it, or something else -- but something made her follow me back to the table I was sitting at and start talking to me. For whatever reason, I remember being pretty distant with her -- noncommittal -- and eventually we exchanged telephone numbers. She called later that evening, to my surprise, and we had a long conversation about our supernatural abilities. She told me she was descended from a witch, for what it was worth, and had always felt that she had some sort of inherent occult ability.
Despite having such leanings myself, I've always been pretty skeptical of others when they tell me about theirôpowersöor whatever. She didn't seem to push it, though -- everything she told me sounded reasonable. She seemed pretty unenlightened but quite willing to learn, and it was from this that we formed our first bond. Theôteacher-studentö association quickly became more, and soon I began testing her limits.
I didn't feel particularly in control of my life those days, and any form of control I could scavenge from my environment was a seeming necessity. I learned that I could control her, and as our bond deepened, so did my sickness. It began with little things -- requesting certain clothes for the next day at school -- and gradually deepened into something darker. I wanted to own her, as a master owns a slave, and never thought about how controlling I had become.
Physically, D___ seemed to be perfect: she had a small, round face, eyes shaped like a cat's. That shape was accentuated by the subtly Egyptian style eyeliner I convinced her to wear. She had dark, wavy auburn hair and was tiny: 5' tall, and about 95 lbs. She also had legs like a 40s pin-up girl; there wasn't anything about her I didn't find appealing.
By about our fifth month together, I was beginning to think that I wanted to be married to her. I think I thought of this, on some subconscious level, as the ultimate form of control orôownershipö condoned by our society. Somewhere, buried under all of this, was a deep, intense passion for her somewhere. Sometimes I thought I loved her so much that it hurt. Physically, I would feel my heart thumping in my chest, an intense, aching need for her that only her presence could assuage. I think, too, that it was much the same for her. Why else would she have allowed me to push her to (what at the time were) such excesses of depravity? She did almost everything I asked, and anything that I dared commandöher to do.
I was so trapped in my blinding illness I thought I could do anything I wanted, even betray her. What I didn't understand was that she allowed the excesses because of her feelings for me, and no other reason would have been enough.
I abandoned her.
L_______ was a girl I had met in band my freshman year. A grade ahead, she was set to graduate at the end of the school year. One afternoon, while I was hanging around with my friends after school had ended, I saw her setting up drums for a concert later that evening. I went over to talk to her, out of boredom, I think; somewhere along the way, the subject of her rumored attraction to me during my freshman year came up. I asked if it was true, and she said yes; I asked if it was still true, and she suddenly became flustered. I took that as a yes.
Now, it had also been pretty widely circulated that L_______ was a lesbian. I myself had been the subject of several homosexuality rumors, and since I knew I was not gay, I figured the chances were that she wasn't either. Her reaction to my question certainly seemed to indicate otherwise, so I asked her out. She was almost the polar opposite of D___: solid where D___ was diminutive, assertive where D___ was submissive, matter-of-fact where D___ was coy. I think I wanted something different, just for a little while, so I called D___, and after a short but brutal telephone call, informed her I would be taking someone else to the prom, and that I didn't want to see her for awhile. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I bought the tickets and went on the date. Our evening together was nothing remarkable, just some Chinese food and conversation. She brought me home, and we kissed, badly, and suddenly, as though having a psychic flash of understanding, I knew the potential entirety of a relationship with L_______. It wasn't really any surprise a day or two later that L_______ called and reneged on our prom plans; since she was so shitty about it, I decided to have my petty revenge by insisting she pay me back in full. I took a little flack from her friends, but nothing serious. Money in hand, I set about rebuilding all the bridges I had thus far burned.
It had been about a week since my ill-planned breakup with D___. I'd been riding a wave of self-delusional contentment, which had crested and left me high and dry on the hard, cold banks of reality. I think I had begun to regret my choice as soon as it was made, but now, without the benefit of a surrogate interest, I was forced to face up to what I'd really done.
I called her on the telephone, to apologize, to make amends. I ended up begging and pleading with her, desperate to have her back in my life. I still didn't understand the extent of the damage I had done to the relationship, and to her. She wouldn't, couldn't get the money together for a prom dress now, she told me, and wasn't sure yet if she even wanted to see me again. All I could think about was how badly I needed her back.
She eventually warmed back up to me, but never quite trusted or had faith in me like she had. The relationship continued, in a somewhat diluted form, for two more months. By then it was summer, and she decided she couldn't stand living with her father and stepmother any more. She made plans to move to Missouri, and by the end of the summer was gone.
We wrote each other on and off for about a year. I couldn't get her out of my mind. All I could think about, night and day, was how much I missed her; hearing her voice, seeing her move, being near to her. I had a few girlfriends that year, but every time I talked to D___ on the phone, I would break up with whoever I was dating. I couldn't take any other relationship seriously, because I still desperately loved D___, with every fiber of my being.
Two or three times, I made plans to go to Missouri to be with her. I was ready to drop everything, destroy my future and abandon friends and family, just to be with her again. I went so far as to save up the price of a bus fare and collect schedule times. Each time, she talked me out of it.à I couldn't understand why she called me, if she didn't want to be with me. Neither of us was able to let go.
One day, she called and told me she was pregnant with another man's child. I was stunned; I had always thought we'd get back together, someday. It was the one thing I couldn't accept, the one thing I had to hear for me to give up. I don't even know if it was true. She may have lied, knowing it was the one thing I couldn't take. Regardless, the effect was the same. My heart was broken, just as hers must have been when I betrayed her.
I was never the same. At least I can say that I learned something from my horrible mistakes. I never again treated anyone the way I treated her, though it took a few more tries before I was able to completely banish that particular demon. I think sometimes, when things are once again going wrong in my life, that perhaps it's karmic backlash or perhaps a curse, one I brought upon myself by betraying a witch.
D___, please forgive me.
According to a 1997 Gallup poll, only 10% of Americans believe that life originated and evolved through naturalistic processes unmediated by supernatural force or intelligence, the view held by most educated humanists. Forty-four percent of Americans endorse the miraculous account(s) of creation in Genesis. By contrast, only 7% of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom accept the biblical scenario. Obviously, the American educational establishment and enlightened members of the media have their work cut out. The voices of obscurantism are drowning out the voices of reason.
Recently, in Louisiana, my home state, a large newspaper solicited letters and guest columns on evolution. Of the twenty-seven published responses, only one, mine, plumped for nontheism. Two biology professors defended intelligent design as did a physician and two lawyers. Sixteen respondents, some resorting to labyrinthine exegeses, championed various renditions of the Genesis myth.
Given the rampant ignorance of the case for nontheistic evolution, perhaps a new brief is in order.
To begin with, the evidence for evolution is so far-ranging and compelling that no impartial observer, surveying the vast accumulation of data, can reasonably deny it. Evidence from the fossil record, comparative anatomy, embryology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology all converges at a single point: Life began about 3.5 billion years ago with single-celled organisms (prokaryotes), and during this almost unimaginably vast expanse of time gradually evolved forms of increasing complexity. While many wrinkles have yet to be ironed out, the general contours of the process are unmistakable.
Creationists routinely lodge three specious objections to evolution.
Evolution, they say, violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which holds that, as systems lose energy, they degrade to states of increasing disorder. They exhibit entropy. Evolution moves in the other direction, from disorder to order, gaining instead of losing energy. Here, the anti-evolutionists leave their flank exposed: The Second Law applies only to isolated systems, ones in which energy from the outside cannot enter nor energy from within exit -- like the universe as a whole. The earth is not an isolated system. It is an open one. It enjoys a constant influx of energy from the sun. The sun's loss is the earth's gain.
Complex organs like eyes and wings, the creationists further object, had to spring into existence complete, rather than developing from rudimentary precursors, because a partial organ is without utility. This argument is astonishingly unobservant. Half an organ, nay, one-hundredth of an organ, is better than no organ. While cataract sufferers who have had their lenses surgically removed can't see well without glasses, they are considerably better off than the sightless. Although an animal without lenses can't focus an image, it can detect the looming shadow of a predator and take evasive action. While animals without wings can't fly, some can glide. Between their joints, they have flaps of skin, fractional wings, that have survival value. If they fall from a tree at a certain crucial height, the flaps offer air resistance that can mean the difference between life and death. In The Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable, famed evolutionist Richard Dawkins treats the subject at length. Over an eon, minute, incremental modifications can dramatically change the appearance and function of an organ. But, at every stage, the evolving organ has functional value.
Creationists further contend that evolutionary change occurs only within species ("threshold" evolution). The fossil record, they claim, provides no evidence of speciation, the transformation of one species into another. In truth, many transitional forms exist. But, owing to zoologists' conservative nomenclature, the fact is often blurred. When zoologists discover a specimen intermediate between two known species, they typically classify it as one or the other. Because of this either/or naming practice, what is nominally one species can be a finely graded series of disparate organisms. In Dawkins' words, "No 'missing link,' however precisely intermediate it was, could escape the terminological force majeure that would thrust it one side of the divide or the other." True gaps in the fossil record exist in large part because many animals fail to fossilize. Others have fossilized but haven't been unearthed yet.
Nontheistic evolutionists agree with their theistic cohorts (intelligent-design theorists) and creationists that the odds of life developing from nonlife (abiogenesis) seem, on the basis of current knowledge, minuscule. True, in some laboratory experiments, when heat is applied to various mixtures of elements thought to simulate conditions on earth four billion years ago, a small number of organic molecules are formed. But nowhere near the number needed, say many biologists, to make a primitive cell.
Because of the seeming improbability of life, proponents of design maintain that the transition from nonlife to life required divine intervention. "The finger of God," said the late chemist Brian Silver in The Ascent of Science, "is certainly a tempting way out." Silver resisted the temptation. He says the emergence of a living cell may be less miraculous than it now appears. Perhaps matter has an undiscovered self-organizing principle that conduces to life. Or perhaps scientists are making the wrong assumptions about conditions on the pre-biotic earth. Life's "irreducible" complexity may be an illusion wrought by a transient paucity of knowledge.
In any case, statistical improbabilities are notoriously deceptive. In retrospect, most events can be viewed as massively improbable. What are the chances your father would impregnate your mother with the particular sperm from which you are derived? Trillions to one. Toss a coin thirty times and record the sequence of heads and tails. Now, toss the coin another thirty times. The chances of your duplicating the first sequence are one in a billion. Do 150 tosses and the odds of duplicating the sequence are 10 to the 45th power (10 followed by 45 zeroes). If everybody in the world flipped coins for the rest of their lives, they would have to live about a billion years before anyone replicated your sequence of 150 tosses. They might allege you couldn't have done it without supernatural aid. One can't logically argue that because something highly improbable happens, some occult force had to make it happen that way.
Whatever the pretensions to objectivity, design theorists, like biblical creationists, are apt to be impelled by religious sensibilities. Why they should find the concept of a designer comforting, rather than unsettling, is perhaps best explained by depth psychologists. If a designer exists, "he" can certainly be intelligent, but, according to human standards of morality, it is an intelligence directed to ill. Nature is a huge killing field rocked by ceaseless internecine combat. Living creatures spend much of their time ripping other creatures apart or trying to avoid being ripped. Billions of people have died agonizing deaths from genetic flaws subtly shrouded in the innermost recesses of their DNA molecules. The list of ailments that afflict humans and other animals is longer than an anaconda. No human imagination is capacious enough to grasp the quantity of excruciating pain that animals have endured, generation after generation, throughout what Shakespeare called the dark and backward abysm of time.
If, as many design theorists allege, the purpose of evolution is to produce us, why the long prologue? Why not bring us onto the stage immediately, an easy feat for omnipotence, and forego all the preliminary sound and fury? And why not provide incontrovertible evidence of a teleological scheme? The concept of design raises more questions than it answers. If theists are honest, they are inclined to concede that given four billion years and unlimited power, they could do better than their hypothetical designer.
In the light of current knowledge, the genesis of life on earth does indeed seem remarkable. But the inferences drawn therefrom shouldn't reach beyond the facts. As Nobel-laureate physicist Steven Weinberg noted, "In a big universe, accidents will happen from time to time."
Can one use such terms as 'Kilgorian' or 'Ansatian' as adjectives when describing entities about the room? Of course one can, in the sense that one can use any self-modified, self-justified jalopy of a word one wishes, in any context, any continuum available. The question may be rephrased, then, asking if one may use such terms as 'Kilgorian' or 'Ansatian' without offense towards their namesakes. Nonetheless, such people sit there: Ansatian my immediate northeast, Kilgorian, much further, to my northwest. Of course, furthest down the hall, a direct north from where I sit and face, is the lecturer, standing still at times, looking posed and appropriately thoughtful. With each set of endless sentences hoisted from his chest, long-winded, a man of digression and verbosity, he takes four, five, a stuttering six steps to the eastern side of the raised stage, completing thoughts by leading into others, rubbing his forehead as a display of passion and prowess, then back to the west in four, five steps and a hop.
Scuffling to the middle again, in present active participial form, he crossed his chest with his left arm, propping it upon the slight roundness of his sweatered belly. Atop this brace of an arm, he situated the elbow of his right arm, with his pointed finger ending up near his temple, resulting in a variant of a thinker's pose, eyes looking off into an invisible mythical land from where quotes and imagery originate. At the moment, though, no such quotes or imagery exist, as he is simply sputtering on about he is several days behind in his fine-tuned schedule, and how it is a result of the size of the lecture, the amount of attendees, and this damnable technology he must contend with (gesturing to a wireless microphone and projector). It is difficult for me to believe this gentleman is not aware of the twenty-minute monologues he delves into each day on the topic of not having enough time and falling behind in schedule.
Surprisingly, the lecturer with the soft, windy, long-winded narrator's voice is unable to read text aloud worth a damn. This is a work of Homer (or, if you subscribe to such camps, work of the Homers), and as such, is surely intended to be read aloud. An epic which carries with it years upon years of voice and verse, all power and spite awaiting to be released from the mouths of minstrels, bards, and rhapsodies. Yes, even with a translation other than Pope's nauseating distorted couplets, there the man steps and hops on stage, flatly reciting passages, unable to revel in his own interests.
What sad thoughts. Surely that came across as accusing the man of lacking less passion than he actually does. He does speak in an inspired, airy, Elysian voice when commenting on the text -- interpretation and substantiation. And every day, copulation. He finds a way to work in comments regarding sexuality, promiscuity, and most of all, the concept and prevalence of sexual desire. A proclivity for procreation cries out from the man -- I do not know of his home life.
On this morning, I neither shaved nor showered. Instead, I sucked and tucked away that extra fifteen minutes before rising from bed. As if this fifteen minutes -- only ten of which actual half-sleep occurs -- profoundly affects my physiology. No, I do not jest with myself, infinitely or not, busy or not, concerning the reasons for such. Avoidance of the daily bodily existence on the planet, trapped, snapped to the earth's crust, being unable to view my own face clearly.
Chalked on a side blackboard (although it is colored green), the words pounce on passers-by. Well, actually, it probably only pounces upon me -- others seem oblivious to the immense wheeled educational tool.
An assistant to the lecturer, as this lecture begins with the lecturer using the word 'flurry,' stands in the middle of the western-most aisle, crying out names of people around her, looking for a hand to shove her stack of papers in. The lecturer does not seem to notice, and asks everyone to become a bit quieter so the lecture may begin -- the only sounds are from the flapping, rustling papers being shoved from the assistant's hand, and the vocal, yelling, name-calling coming from the assistant's mouth.
"It has taken us eight days to proceed, as we have, as I regret, through one book, which we have yet to complete, in these eight days, what a glorious work it is, what time we could spend on it, though we certainly will complete it. All of us are intelligent and engaged with our lives with books, and classes, and movies, events and relationships, responsibility. In the long run we must come together and fill our needs that are not utilitarian. We are all here to elevate our minds to a higher place, not here to solely get a degree -- I am not here solely for my paycheck--"
A tapping, ruffling, grating sound of plate tectonics is dispersed throughout the hall as the lecturer gropes the microphone on his chest.
"Is this thing too loud?"
Perhaps a half-dozen papers remain in the assistant's hand.
"Yes, all right," continues the lecturer. "I bet a number of you have written poems and stories since childhood. I believe you have. And, I bet you had to decide, to determine, what voice you want, what voice you write with, and what voice you would use--"
"Would it be in first person? 'I arose this morning,' or perhaps, 'you will have a hamburger,' or, 'they will have a hamburger,' -- hamburgers for breakfast, I am uncertain of, perhaps a late brunch. So, we can change it to 'you were having a late brunch.' This is a man-made element, made from culture, not nature."
A glance at a left-handed wristwatch.
"I feel I may be waxing too eloquently, as seventeen minutes have already gone past the hour..."
Another blackboard, this one true to its name, sits perpendicular to the pouncing one, with fluffy letters, written with the length of a piece of chalk:
Six galaxies have time to form with every point made by the lecturer, all using free indirect discourse, none of which are habitable to life. The girl who enjoys using the word 'minutia' is not here, nor is her husband.
"And one of the most striking important things about this is, as to go on an aside here, is the foreshadowing, the first hinting of the development of Christianity -- the uniting, in this case, the reuniting, of father and son, this holy union, one entity. It is very commendable and enlightening to notice this, and then to realize the gradual deification of the father-son alignment in the coming years -- oh, I can now see what this overheard projection looks like from here, and I can actually read that -- taunts, it says, the evolution of taunts..."
"I gave up on new poetry myself 30 years ago when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens in a hostile world."
Christ, all your life
The masses consumed You.
Even those You most loved.
Were You more at peace alone, forsaken?
Mother, you always loved your Son
But how was He to know
When He looked up and found Himself that afternoon
Among the teachers in the Temple
Consuming His mind?
What did you think
When He wept:
"Why did you search?
Didn't you know I must be here?"
"Why do you, too, abandon Me?
And so soon?"
What was He to do but become one of them,
A thinker, a teacher, and, at last,
When even knowledge failed Him
When His simple pleasure at the oil led to the anguished
"The poor will be with you always!"
(Even simple pleasures come at the price of another's pain.
His blood was not the first to drip from His hands.)
And He learned knowledge serves no purpose
If it does not lead us to be torn to pieces,
Stripped, scourged and beaten?
There are two things we should learn in life:
Knowledge is nothing.
Life leads to death.
And that bloody afternoon,
Twenty-one years later,
As even the sun turned his face from You,
As those You most loved stood at Your dripping feet,
Did You see the faces of the teachers in the Temple?
Did You think:
"You will none of you know anything
Until you are up here with Me.
The one I will see in heaven tonight
Is the one who dies beside Me
On a cross
Admitting that this is where he belongs"?
"The monologue is her form of revenge."--Flaubert
If only there was something apologetic about this mass, I could fit into the feminine; if only my fleshy arms developed out of small, narrow shoulders. Ah, but this thick waist, these wide shoulders, loud breasts, substantive hips, crushing thighs: my body is interesting, but not erotic. It isn't quite Rubens, it isn't quite Bouguereau, it is the body of Ingres' later-day harem fantasies; there is something oddly perverse about it. Solid. White. Wide. With curves and strange indentations: the Scientific Revolution has passed over my body. It comes out, untamed, from some sort of Conradian heart of darkness. It is barbaric, it is more than woman, it overflows boundaries of gender.
I don't like knowing that I'm being touched -- I need to escape into sex, I need to approach sex as a fantasy, because the reality of it, the reality of my body, drags me down to swollen immobility. Sex is freeing insofar as it frees me from the flesh of my body, insofar as I can pretend that I am metaphysical. But upon the recognition that someone has touched me, that he has touched me, I have -- disgust? embarrassment? For myself, for him, for us. For how could he not also be escaping from my body, from the reality of it? I could only disrespect him if found me desirable; it would be sick, wrong, to look at me and be moved towards me.
But he went too far away. He needed to run from me -- not only my body, but my whole being, and escape into sex. Not fake sex, or "making love," where you securely escape the realm of physicality and enter into the amorphous world of being-ness, but real sex. True fear breeds real sex. And it was in his eyes -- into which I could not escape and through which I could not get out of myself. He was pushing me out, all of me out, and there was only his Fear -- which has a way of looking like Carnality. It reminded me of my past, it reminded me of all the scared, dead men that have hated me so much they could fuck me forever.
That was when I knew we had a real relationship.
I am terrified of sex now. It gives me the same feeling as looking at myself naked under florescent lights. I can briefly forget, start to drown and escape, but then I jerk back, haunted by the time that I tried to leave but only got trapped within myself. I am afraid to get cornered in that awful realm: where you're lying underneath him and your self is just being slammed into you again and again and you're watching it all through the reflection in his eyes. I can't take that punishment.
How ridiculous we would look on canvas. He was no offensive mass of flesh; he was a Pre-Raphaelite. He was Millaisian. Strong yet not overbearing, angularly cut and slender. He was Millaisian, sculpted like some David, reminiscent of Donatello's. I could understand his indiscretions with a lightheaded girl, who, too, was cut like a Millais. They fit together: slender and sculpted, perfectly commonly beautiful. But his aesthetic locus was a Michelangelic figure, a strong, athletic cut, her wideness displaying firm strength, not my overbearing fleshiness. I try to picture a Michelangelo on top of a Millais, but the Michelangelo morphs into my own, only now I am a Daumier: poor, rumpled and dough-like. I am a beggar, begging for some of his beauty to be passed on to me, devouring him reverently like one would devour a god. We are even more incompatible than he had announced earlier; we are incompatible, even aesthetically.
She sat on the bed wanting to connect, believing somehow it was possible to communicate this desire without moving, completely still, first trying not to think of it at all and then trying to direct her whole self towards him without using her body, thinking that he, he of all, would receive her.
He sat on the bed connecting with the television, not conscious of her desire, not open to her transmission, smoking, watching the television, because he believed in love and all that was good which had not yet come to be in this world, despising the plasticity of soulless America, closed to her (because it must be very tiring to be so beautiful and so true), not seeing her offering, not taking it if he had, not from this nonbeliever who could not be poeticized, whose self was made of a material that could not be sculpted.
Which is why she then offered her body.
That got his attention.
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 2001 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 2001 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: World Wide Web http://www.apoculpro.org irc the #unbeing channel on UnderNet Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <email@example.com>. The SoB distribution list may also be joined by sending email to Kilgore Trout. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--