We arrived on time, most of us, and formed a circle around the subject of our interest, a man who said he would reveal "all that needed to be known." We pretended to come with great anticipation for his glorious words but in reality we had gotten together online and talked about him, about his request and decided that he should be able to vent to keep him from the red zone of human nastiness. It was something we had learned was necessary with the vagaries of human nature, with its long history of abuses and crimes.

Our solution, ad hoc as it was, was a perfectly human and modern one. An advanced one to be truthful about it. Put the poor bugger in the center and let him have his say. If he didn't have his say we could imagine him doing any number of terrible things.

"Everywhere are the killers of spirit. They know, after many trials and errors, where to hit, where to blast through to the heart to destroy the internal richness that is given by God or Buddha or Christ. "It's Us vs. Them and you really don't believe in Them, do you?" So, our friend lectured us as if it were a proposition most good people would be faced with.

First they kill the future, then they kill all reasonable belief in the present. After that is a clean disposal of the physical body which doesn't much matter anyway if the spirit goes.

Killers of the spirit do not build things. They find the entrance, small as a knat's head, and find a way into the core of the heart to work there for, sometimes, a day, sometimes many years. Each of us who gathered had a bit of experience with this nasty germ. We dealt with it as we could but in the end it was simple humiliation that drove it out of us. In my case it was discovering a person who contradicted every idea I held sacred. "My God," I thought to myself. "The pyramid is flipped upsidee down!" This confrontation took more than a year to work through me. I worked on it on a daily basis and not even causual distractions like playing pickup basketball in the open air courts or sex with the girlfriend could do it. Always, at an unexpected moment, the process would flash across my mind. I would practically stop with the ball in my hand or just lay down over the poor woman, my old girfirend, and wait for the flash to disappear.

The person so afflicted by the conscious designs of these killers will not know it for a long time but eventually he will start to feel that loss of feeling for things, that loss for a grand large future that leaps up fully structured and alive as happens to young people from time to time.

Oh yes, the killers will move into the real world and occupy important positions. They establish forms and quickly are part of the environment like a new office building or a new sign about prohibiting nuclear material from entering the city.

They will try to do everything, including telling your tales.

They were not particular and didn't care what "time" they lived in. "Ah, it is a democracy, so we will knock the spirit of it out of their hearts." And when autocracy came they said the same. And theocracies too.

It is important, as we look at the etiology of this particular virus, to make sure to note that the first thing they went after was the relation between power and those who obeyed power or were, at least, connected to it.

The killers either made them happy obeyers of the rulers and their structure or as haters of everything and everyone that had power. Sometimes they became larger movements that the politically ambitious had to navigate to gain or retain power. And after awhile, especially in democracy, it was a very predictable thing and once the obeyers and haters figured this out they lost the heart for it and simply waited for death and the end of time for them.

The people always assumed they were destroyed by the infinite array death and sent on their way to the horizons of mystery. But, no, they were always done in by their politics, whether it was local town politics, as one had in the medieval period or the massive, manipulative "democratic" politics of todays mass societies. The political animal was as malleable as they come and simply adapted to what the forces stamped at any given time. "Long and stout and beyond knowing. OK, I will fake a few things." "Short, brutish and without any defense against it, OK that is manageable." "Warriors determining everything, OK, I will make the warriors believe something that will protect me." And on and on it went. It was hard to decide whether the politics of the labyrinth or the politics of the solitary thug was more dangerous. One was more likely to destroy the spirit in men and women while the other was more likely to destroy the body of men and women.

An epoch could be determined by whether the people wanted their spirits or their bodies destroyed. That was one act of freedom they never gave up.

And we should make it clear that these killers were not "nonconformists" and acting in the spirit of de-hypnotizing their poor victims from the glare of the form of power they happened to be thrown into. If it were that benign then why worry about it? No, it was a much different case of infecting people with the least amount of hope they could have without leaping off the bridge or going nuts in the streets with the knowledge that nothing mattered because we were simply freaks of nature, no better or different than different colored and shaped bugs, and we didn't do ourselves in and we kept out of harms way for the same reason a bug did; it was programmed to do so. We had no choice in the matter. And once this fact had penetrated the poor person, it was straight to the bridge or leaping around wildly in the street until the cops shot him.

Since the purpose of these destroyers was to destroy them with their own nature, they required more than a simple deflation of belief to do the job. And there was an art to it without a doubt. There was only a thin membrane between the shred of hope and nothingness. They had to maintain the membrane but at the lowest threshold possible. This the killers learned over centuries, and passed it on as a secret of sorts.

It was an excellent thing during those ages when the killers of spirit decided to run for office. They were tired of destroying the lives of non-important, little people and set their sites on being enterprises. Unfortunately, as a consequence of destroying mere nations much was swept away and their boredom wreaked even more damage than they had wanted.

I know when I was infected I kept asking myself, "what is a story?" It was, after all, my "profession", even though I made no money from writing innocuous stories. To kill my stories was to kill my spirit so they knew where I was weak. It can't be forced but at the very least I trusted that something was possible. And trust is the bottom-line of most things that count. And it hangs by a thread at times.

We are taught not to "talk down" but rather "entertain." It is a tempting thing to do. I think that in my moments of clarity. The people are very easily distracted from lives and worlds that are monstrous and beyond their understanding. They are lucky in a way. The danger is if one is turned into a paranoiac who views life as having no rhyme or reason and there to exploit.

And no one believes the hero will come along anytime soon and save the bastards. It is much easier to imagine the hero as seeing the impossibility of his heroism and rather, turning his powers to account on behalf of his self-interest.

Oh lovely emptiness, you are too tempting! Your empty boredom is not redeemable and floats out there in a kind of abysmal eternity. It is so sad.

No matter how long they study your history they will always get it wrong. They will simply ascribe it to what is profoundly lacking in themselves and they will pass the torch onward as if they had accomplished something great.

The madman stopped now and made an excuse to leave the room. We were in a circle, standing up and looked at each other with goofy sneers, some were visibly relieved he had left the room. When he lost his sense of responsibility it was expected that, to get back in, he must account for himself, for his lapse of connection with what was good and necessary.

He called himself a writer, unlike others who had various titles, but few in the room believed it. Where were his works? Where were the books, the proofs? And more than a few in the room were, in fact, writers who had sold articles and had agents and so on. Who was this phony, this poseur? Later he e-mailed us that his "absolution" would take place at a location of his choosing. "And the door will be locked so no one will get in after noon."

He claimed that there were "killers of the spirit" everywhere but provided no proof. He offered it as a rationalization of himself, of his action. He made grandiose statements about history and narratives but gave no proof that he knew what he said or believed any of it. "All life and history can be reduced to the acts of excretion by famous and powerful men." He would give one example from Sumer that happened 4000 years ago, trying to impress us. "The elimination caused a cholera outbreak and killed everyone in Ur. This had a butterfly effect throughout the near east, the fertile crescent as I heard is described in childhood." . But we listened because we were good human beings who had run into our own problems.

Soon enough he was moving in perfect concentric circles pissing as he went announcing that he was here to save us. And that life would destroy us if we didn't know his system.

Most of us had gotten beyond the thought that the crazy were merely illuminated beings, ahead of their times and so unfit for the normal stupidity of life. We had believed it once. Ah, a long ago fit for wonderful crazies.

No, now we believed that the insane posed a community problem and had to be cordoned off so they wouldn't do much damage. And we were more fearful of the damage a nut could do than anything else. "Keep the nut behind the ropes," we'd hear often. "Just don't disturb this nut, you never know what he'll do." And sometimes it was a she but mostly a he.

* * * * * * * *

Of course, the most disturbing thing about the poor crazed in our world, is that they always say what we wish we could say but don't want to reveal ourselves. Since every age is, by nature, a repressed one the contents of the nut-class always conform to the nature of an age's repression. One era it is the fear of ghosts so the nuts are always talking to ghosts. Another age it is ferociously yelping and scratching human beings, and so the mad scratch and yelp as no others in the community are permitted to do. In other ages it is a sex thing and the crazy engage in wild sexual behavior, in public, but with no real partners, a pure simulation out in the street like dogs.

In our age, of course, it is criticism. It is impolite to criticize anything based on the fact we have freedom and power, as people, as a nation and so any criticism is seen as a crack in the code. In fact, it is only the young who are permitted this because everyone knows what happens to youth and from its liberation from the code will come new ideas.

* * * * * * * *

We were happily successful in moving the mad object into a position where he could be helped. Not only did it take dexterity but it took a special sort of humor that one or two of us possessed. One of us, for instance, could take any credible statistic and make it into an uproarious joke. And we listened and some of us said, "it takes a magnificent talent and spirit to turn a mere stat into a joke we can all laugh at."

We felt good we could participate in life at this level. It gave us moral courage and filled in a void left during the young days when we were convinced all the others lived life while we were simply observing.

And we felt that in helping the mad man we were, in a general but real way, helping all of humanity. After all, isn't suffering a kind of madness? Doesn't it come from the inability to grasp who we are and so be forever out of sync with that fluid known as happiness?

Of course it is; there is no need to discuss it. It was fait 'acompli and those who argued obviously did not know. And we would gather in a corner and bend our heads toward the center and put a hand over our mouths and laugh, "ah, he did not know! Had he known earlier it would have saved us, as well as him, a great deal of pain."


He would never admit it; it only dawned on him late, that indeed he had passed through a period of time analogous to a "restoration" period in history. That is, tumultuous events, a break-out of nuttiness in the citizens, jagged tensions, wild shouts are slowly, invariably replaced by peace and quiet and the dominance of the institutions. Respect returns to authority, a sense of stability that appears eternal descends to all the people.

It seems to be simply a waiting through, but on reflection he could see, no, it was something real and profound, therefore a value and thing to be cherished.

And, naturally, at all times there was the sense of being attacked, before and after the restoration but the act itself made the attacks moot. The success of the restoration depended on the ability to fend off attack, so in many ways, attack was wanted, even cultivated. This created the individual forms of restoration that broke off from the general cultural one. It was hushed up for a long time but now an integral part of social development. Most everyone went through his or her "restoration."

In the few years before the restoration there was a kind of wildness difficult to define; literal insanity and other bugaboos of the modern era. People sliced apart from each other, leaving gaping wounds and useless conflicts better dealt with in the lab or clinic. So much waste! That was the final thought before he sought out the restoration or, in fact, it sought him out.

It began with a game of chess; it ended with a murder. He was an amateur at the game of chess, a happy amateur; there was no pressure although he felt he had to win. But if he didn't win he always chalked it up to his laziness in front of the noble game. "The game demands I do what I least want to do, that is, abstract from reality its patterns. Why isn't reality what it says it is, that and nothing else?" It was a test, he realized that. They wanted to find out so much! They began to show a generosity he hadn't experienced before. That too was a sublime test, a seductive one that trip him up more than once.

For one thing his special glasses were returned to him after a long time of being locked away in a safe. He knew where the safe was but didn't know the combination and no matter how many times he pleaded for the glasses he was ignored. He couldn't read without them and ended up listening and watching television until he felt like an some child-gorilla who reacts to everything in its brain it doesn't understand. He had been measured for the glasses by an incredibly precise machine he had ever seen. Without them he found himself uncontrollably tapping his hand on his knee but then, becoming conscious of the gesture, would stop in mid-air and look at his hand for a long time as if it were a weapon of some sort.

After the restoration he was hired as a purchasing agent and sent to Europe and Asia to buy canned foods for military families. He noticed a new sense of confidence in himself, a new expansiveness that wasn't there before. "So, this is the feeling that I have been missing all this time," he thought to himself.

He was in a new place, a new phase of development; what would become known as his "restoration." And later, naturally, many people took credit for the restoration. "Oh, if it weren't for me the poor boy would have perished long ago." "He really was adrift and then I clued him into some things and he found himself." "We always worried that he would be a lost cause but I think the attention on him, the pressure, helped him find a way...."

Little did they know that he had concocted the restoration years before, in another era, another place. He had seen its necessity. "It will be necessary for me to be restored and it will go this way...." He forgot this detail as he was going through it and only with great exertion was he able to recapture the strategy he had in place to deal with the "stripping" as he called it.

Time was a crucial ingredient in the restoration; without some sympathy for time, some obedience to its powers, some way to honor its absoluteness, the restoration would have been superfluous. "Oh yeah, a crisis of some sort. I see, I see it all the time....what difference does it make? You make too much of your own problems...." He had always wanted to answer those who made these judgments but was quiet. "No, behind your back, time will resolve the problems and I will be set free just at the moment time seizes you and makes you a fool." It was a kind of vow that he took with him throughout the period.

And make no mistake about it; bitterness runs through the core of restoration. After all, if we can't come to terms with all the awful things that have happened to us then what can we really do? We simply schlep from one episode to the next and then die quietly one autumn evening with no one watching. Every person must have the will to restoration. There, I think I came up with a valuable theory. Every person must have the will to restoration and if he lacks it or is not taught this he lives in a repressive environment; one that he must resist.

That's when he had the conversation with an old friend who appeared out of the blue as all this was transpiring. You have to understand that he was the type who drifts from people and once they are out of his range rarely shows up So he was taken back when the old pal showed up one day with a big smile on his face. "Long time no see!" "Yes, yes you are right, long time." He fumbled over his words for a bit then invited the guy into his living space where they sat in what was apparently his kitchen.

"What's going on? What's happening?"

"Oh, just going through a restoration you know, I had a lot stripped away from me. It was brutal. I'm glad you didn't see me."

His friend looked at him and didn't say anything for a long time. "Well, it's good you're getting restored."

"Yes, yes it is."

"It doesn't happen to everyone. I had a cousin who got stripped and never returned. He's out there somewhere wandering like a lost sheep."

"I remembered my strategy in the nick of time, that's what saved me."

"Right, right that's smart, we should all have a strategy in place.

"I suppose you are clear and never went through it."

"Never," he said stoutly.

The friend left after a time. They agreed to meet again before the year was out and the friend wished him well. After the friend left, he felt odd as thought the restoration was a burden and not a privledge that he had won by his strategy. No, the man was impressed and asked the right questions but still, there was something incommunicable that said, "I've been through it and you have not." At the same time it said, "I had no need for a restoration and you did." It was odd.

On reflection he realized that he, too, could have been wandering around lost and absurd without a stitch of protection for years and years. It was a vague memory now. "And at the time it was so powerful. Forgetfulness must be some divine intervention." He remembered certain places in the city where he had been and he thought that many things had happened to him there. It was like a dream that is totally involving but fades the moment the eyes open and, soon, forgotten, not fully and ocmpletely fogotten but for all intents and purposes forgotten. He may have murdered someone during that time. No, impossible he thought. I would remember that and, besides, they wouldn't renovate a killer.

He knew, at the beginning, that things were flowing out of him and all things that had marked him flowed out, out and gone. Treasured boyhood memories and the toys he loved. The careful rationalizations of authority he had learned in school. The garb of protection that kept the world at bay. Habits, good and bad. Whoosed out.

He remembered that much but then it could have been days or months or years even. That was the troubling thing although he was careful now not to make it a troubling thing and to be grateful for the renovation.

* * * * * * * *

And he had seen those in the full powers of the restoration, resist, and blame all and everything on their misery. Pathetic fools! They simply reveal that they are empty, bankrupt, and that they are the problem not the myriad conditions of the world they point to as the source. It became a truism: "Half a restoration is no restoration at all."

Sometimes, it is true, it lasts for decades and the mind is pulled through the decades like a reticent animal being hauled out of the jungle to the zoo. It knows. It has been warned but there it is, now, fighting some force it knew existed and it has it by the painful parts and image after image is emptied into the animal. "I will pace up and down an empty cage, concrete, and they will feed me meat at evening and think that evens it all out." And yet, the animal reasons, if I attack and kill this beast they will have me in no seconds flat. I will be dead and then they will eat me unceremoniously. And even an animal at this late day, has pride."

A scene of beauty can often be the catalyst to our restoration. It attacks us when we feel unapproachable, as though we know everything now and can learn nothing from, even, the scholar. "Oh, he is only in a thin world of his own making. And I am here, between the blades of axes that would cut me down! So I have loyalty to what I have experienced and not their mere words."

And by the time the heads begin speaking, lined up as they are on a placid street, it is too late. The populace has made up their mind and will not have it any other way. "Bring us victory today!" The heads shout. Only one head says what was true for him. "Nothing is lost!"


There was a kind of fire in the sky, discernable from a distance and yet interpreted differently by different people as they watched the phenomena streak through them, carrying dreams themselves into the dark universe.

The planet, looking at the planet, seeing it as a vast whole had become rather boring so, after awhile, they all reverted back to thinking of the nation, community, religion and other artifacts of the limited scope of experience and knowledge. Who or what could contain the feeling of immense reality in the ball of grasss and dirt and water known as the Earth? From a distnace it looked like a bald head, cleanly shaven like a penitent ready to confess his sins.

People knew, eventually, that the vision was not enough. There had to be some meaning, some substance running down on the surface otherwise simply looking at the damn thing meant nothing; was a kind of vanity, a trick offered up by the newer technologies, although it was suspected that mystics and others had seen the vision long before. And they had lived in caves or underground fortresses near where the molten lava was, it was hard to say.

Hell one finally concluded, was fifteen miles deep in the physical Earth but an eternal distance in the spirit; "fine, poets existed even at this late date." Poets knew that the rhythm of life was dependent on the speed of life and its obstacles. A jet flying at 600 mph was, after all, resisted by the air but it flew anyway at a speed that people were not used to. Wild drivers tested obstacles at every moment. And even pedestrians were resisted by rotten voices calling out obscenely in the tree-shaded avenues or a stiff wind or, even, crowds moving as one, against their own wishes, the other way, as though collectively they had thought it a good thing; had collected downtown and decided they would trip up the one pedestrian by walking opposite against him. Life, with too much time on its hands, is a dangerous animal.

They had fallen; well, it wasn't the first or last time but it was quite remarkable that, despite all the resources and warnings, they had fallen yet again. It's true that some had struggled back to the surface after enormous exertion and had plenty of tales to tell. Some had been lifted up and out as in a pleasant dream and deposited somewhere they had never been before with only the clothes on their back and a few pieces of currency in their pockets. A few were actual agents assigned to come up and persuade as many as possible that the Earth contained multitudes, all with personalities and histories, and that the living was not too bad. And they were always instructed to say, following their speil, "after all, we all have to die."

If we knew where Hell was, then where was Purgatory and, indeed, Heaven itself? This was a kind of mission after all the necessities had been taken care of. At least for those who believed that the necessities need not be layered on each other, endlessly like some sedimentary rock that grows as the minerals are deposited. Ah, we will add another layer old man and stand back like an artist and decide that life, at this point, is a good thing.

They had gone thorugh Hell but denied it and left it for the kids to figure out. No, in reality the search for Purgatory and Heaven was left to a kind of idiot-class who had not acquired things but kept walking up and down the street looking for pennies. "Nuts," the kind-hearted had said from their windows, looking at the debacle of people walking up and down the street straining to find pennies along the curb perhaps or under a parking meter. "Just plain nuts."

Terrible, wrathful story to tell!

The fallen, at first, were quite pleased by their fate. "We are where we should be and let us not wish for anything else." But after awhile, it got old. And they decided that a fallen state was a bad one, a maleficent one that they really shouldn't have to suffer. "After all, we have done our falling, now it is someone elses turn at it."

The fallen are recognized by the empty tears they spill over something they don't understand. "Where is your ability to understand?" "Don't you know that knowlegde is power?" We want to shake them up so their brains start to operate but all that comes are the empty tears.

The fallen had money and wicked smiles; those smiles that say, "the world has told me to be as greedy as I can, I have fulfilled the worlds directive, and now I am here, in a good place, a position I never thought I'd have."

And they had to have a beautufil woman by their side. The beautiful woman signaled, again, that the world had found a true son.

And we had always hoped they lived happily after all. That was one thing we discussed when the subject came up. After all, Hell is a laborious place, chock full of sheer boredom where the condemned people come and go wanting to buy and sell but with nothing to sell and no means to buy. They pace up and down along this ten thousand mile sidewalk pausing for a moment to speak to someone they knew in the life above. Two old business partners, for instance, recognize each other by putting up their hands in surprise, with hardly an expression on their faces. They don't touch. They speak in whispers and move on as though they are as restless in Hell as they were on Earth; as though both Hell and Earth are not adaquete for their energies.

Some of course, are simply transported up to the surface and given a name, a superficial life and made to try and convince fellow humans that God is real, Hell is real and so forth. This is the first stage of redemption and results in people going crazy for no reason, conflicts in and out of family, religion getting a bad name and so on.

All who come to the Hellish regions are told, immediately, that something worse exists even further down. The dead are not adventuresome. If there is a rock out in the deep, lonely stretches of Hell new arrivals will find it and hide behind it. Popular media has it almost right. Their portrayals are, unfortuantely, usually literary and based on things like Dante's Inferno believing in themselves that if they are so literary their words will remain on the surface of the planet for a bit longer. The creators of these vanities are thrown down deep of course and kept there as zoo specimins for the grand parade of souls who venture down in Hell.

Those who had bounced back and forth between Earth and Hell were the worst of the bunch. They always thought they were entering paradise and had smiles on their faces, in Hell, and on the surface of the planet. It never dawned on them that paradise might be something way beyond what they were used to.

To the vast majority of moderns it was shocking that both Hell and Paradise actually existed. They never expected it. When they perished, at the last breath, they assumed that was it and hoped people they left behind had a good image of them and treated their memory well. But then they were whisked all around and given a glimmer of paradise if they had been ok in life, but certainly spent time in Hell which was a kind of repository of all souls that were going to be sent out throughout the universe, depending on criteria no one had figured out. So it was even more shocking when a religious type died and realized that he had no privlidge in this domain unless he had been utterly perfect, which was never the case.

They were not transported in bussess or trains but by thought; thought would convert them to a seed of light and poof, off they would go depending on he or she who directed the thought. The dead did not escape mystery! It lay behind some great, thick wall and was whispered about but never revealed. And besides, those who came down for the first time were busy orientating themselves since no one told them a damn thing. There were no classes. There was not a team of people to check them in. And on reflection it was stunning to figure out that there was more freedom, sheer freedom, in Hell than anywhere else. It created a buoyant freeling in some, a sense of horrific dread in others.

More than a few would stand in the middle of Hell and stare at the top of it; the top of ragged boundaries that kept the surface of Earth from bursting down into the core of Hell itself.

When it started to sink in that Hell was a physical place, as real as the stadium filled with people or the car they were driving, they would get very depressed and start to blame all those influences that had tried to convince them that, no, Hell is merely an invention by men to keep people in line. Most in their circle had accepted the premise and lived as if nothing would happen to them. One of the first punishements of Hell was that all were equipted with the rapturous feeling that infinity moved in them but the more they felt it, the smaller came the space they were alloted to live in and move around in during their long stay in Hell. More than a few lived by rocks, inside boxes no bigger than eyeballs and containing a squirming figure who was madly trying to reverse the image of infinitude. His mind was slowly sucked down into the impossiblity of living in a box as big as an eyeball and so the misfortunate one was robbed of the remnants of rapturous feelings of flying free through the empty universe, at the speed of light, dancing and zooming through clusters of galaxies and all the life they contained. That quite ended.

Most people up on the surface never understood their role in the scheme of things. Only when it was too late did they realize what a monstrous mistake their lives had been; event-filled or empty it was a huge mistake that they now regretted, outfitted as they were for new digs in an unfriedly place where the condemened were forced to know each other.

There was a kind of air of suffocation in this spacious Hell. Occassionally one could hear the distnat cries of old popular music but then they would disappear. The walls were lit up with images from above that, one supposed, was to make the people suffer in the knowledge that others were having more fun or were just enjoying life as it was meant to be enjoyed. Scenes of common household fidelity, lovemaking between men and women who appeared to love each other, bright blue skies with a hint of winter moon in it, an arena filled with cheering people, men standing in line to make expensive purchases and more were here.

What was noticeable after a bit, and strange when one thought about it, was the absence of animals of any sort. There was hardly an environment in existence that didn't have some animal besides the human one. Where was the faithful dog or the mysterious cat? Where was the powerful horse and funny monkey? Some of the inhabitants apparently saw this fact after some time and began to imitate the sounds of animals they missed. Thrown down tribemen from the Amazon were especially colorful as they sang out the songs of many tropical birds. Strangely though, rather than beautifying the place and giving it diginity, all it did was make it seem like a madhouse. In Hell and crazy too! That inevitably, is what a newcomer said.


They shriek when the truth hits them. By then it's way too late and life dissembles in the natural way it does. We, who observe, have certain feelings and look over the landscape with a muted, understated anger as though we should have known all along. We did know! We predicted it. We had visions of it, no question.

The shriek distorts their features and is inhuman. It is difficult to know whether the inhuman is attempting to leave them or to possess them but there it is. A puzzle. What is it doing? How are the pieces related? When the inhunman laughs and hunman cries what does it signify?

It is a city and devours souls. Many paintings have shown this, especially in the more creative periods of painting. Those painters who could visualize the whole of the city were usually melancholic about the fact their vision meant nothing and offered them nothing in return. But then their paintings must have encouraged less melancholic men to desire power over that which was depicted.

As members of a democracy we have nothing to worry about. Go forth and visualize and have visions! The bigger the better. And yes we will try to gain power over what you have depicted. Yet, we are swallowed up by something much greater than ourselves. It is perhaps at the peak of their power, that they shriek. Who is to know this? We watch and observe and can nearly predict the moment when the mouth stretches open to that inevitable drawn out sound so piercing and awful to our soft ears.

There are owners of baseball teams or horses, for instance, who must shriek in the privacy of their own homes. That is their privilege. For us, the unprivileged, we must shriek in public and hope they don't take us away to an institution, penal or mental. That's all we can hope for. If we are allowed, then, to "exist" so much the better. We will open our bottle of wine, eat our cheese and piece of whole wheat bread and celebrate what great thing life is. And of course, relatives are trying to take your life away and forces are conspiring to make a mockery of everything you hold dear. But if this weren't the case, would you dare to shriek?

We shriek at the failure implicit when they build things and yet they build things. We are happy they do. If they did not build things after their failure to do so, then life would be even worse than we perceive it, from a distance, to be certain.

For all the vortex of activity we don't jump in at any point but, rather, abstract it all and try to understand it. That is, we try to understand the unself- conscious ones, the happy breed of people who neither know nor care of anything but what they inherit and bop around from point A to point B wanting nothing negative said about it. A few of them have weapons to protect themselves. Very well. Experience has taught us a few things. Stay away from those who have weapons to protect themselves! They will use the weapons when you least expect it.

We throw up our pathetic notes, up there where they belong I suppose and think they actually take cognizance of them. No. The reality is that they direct their piss on them and then laugh and comment on what a wonderful show they are part of. It is Florence without the art. It is as though Rome had lost all of its nobility and the farting peasants had taken over and dragged the sentient ones into the vast portals of the Coliseum where huge galleys rammed each other and threw fire on each others decks until one blew up in flames and all the persons lost. Our world and we will make you bow to it and love it. So said the peasants when the nobles were all dead.

We look out at them, the cameras capture their furtive movements waiting to pounce and beat-up some poor unfortunate character. We could have told him it was going to happen, it was predictable but we lacked the lines of communication at that moment, so all was lost. We did not own the lines of communication and we could hardly identify them when they were right in front of our eyes.

The shriek can be a friend in dreams. It can handle the odd twists that occur in those confabulations. Little mind shits is what they are. The mind has to evacuate itself and flush it away somewhere. Pity the poor fools who write them down and swim in it all day long. But, occasionally, we have been in one of these episodes, so epic and powerful, we know something great has been revealed to us. But then great water or wind comes up and we are carried through the air, effortlessly, to a situation that is impossible, surrounded by ghouls of some sort or, at least, people who don't like us and constantly watch us as if measuring every step. It's at that point that a shriek can come in and chase everything out and we struggle with our eyes until they are open, again, to the night and the few odd shapes that surround us.

We realize, briefly and one might say with a blinding flash of light, that the few objects that surround us have all come from dreams at one point or the other. And now they are surrounding us as mute testaments or ready to transmogrify if and when we say the right word.

I think every religion, every ethnicity, every nationality must have its own version of the shriek. One can see similarities, across all platforms, enough so to make the judgement that the shriek is human and belongs to all human beings, fortunate or unfortunate, travelers or homebodies, beautiful or ugly. Studies have been made and posted on the internet. Very serious people comment on it and say that the differentiation of shrieks through time and other lands proves that it is both an indwelling property but, as well, formed by the environment we happen to come from. So, certainly, one can say that one shriek is more privileged than another one. And one shriek is really a call for power and another one is really a kind of irrational disgust; it all depends on the person and where he or she is from after all.

So it is ours very good....why shouldn't we possess our own shriek? What would we have without it? We'd be pretty poor and misbegotten I think.

No matter how they try they can't reproduce it as it actually is. They fake it and then employ legions of PR types to convince you and I that it is the real thing. It isn't. Don't listen.

We need the characters to speak for themselves. They get awfully impatient and angry if they believe you are speaking for them. Come! To the center of the stage and tell your tales......

They are running along the olive orchards when the heat is blazing on the goodman's back. They run furiously thinking that if they are ten seconds too late it is vastly too late and they must open their veins in order to purge themselves of guilt. It is a ghastly thing but prevails even during our so-called enlightened age. They want some representation of their guilt and then an excuse to run wild and crazy through the awful avenues that will have them and reject them at the same time. Oh nation, something moves through you the like of which we haven't seen for centuries!

Oh the beautiful attempt to redeem it through the voice that falters when traffic is flowing all the night. It flows with voracious tail lights and sounds that seem to bound from the steel objects out into the midnight air.

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And old man, you linger too long in your obscene nostalgia and don't recognize that time moves forward. Very well, so what. It was a good thing, this life. Move on. Move forward. For gods sake, everything is forgiven and forgotten in the end.

The shriek was heard across memories thatched together on hopeless evenings when the ballgame was on. It was, after all, nothingness and nothingness was attained and it was very sad. Something unretrievalbe and bouncing out there, along the horizon of time, out there, real and substantial but lost all the same. So even the old men shriek when it is too late and they lay out, drunken, in front of the games as though life is only this and nothing else.

The shriek was like a forbidden city rumored to have existed among travelers no one paid mind to. Oh they wrote their books but the books languished in old bookstores and were finally retired. Out there! A forbidden place where those who listen hear the shrieks of the people, even those unborn. Oh terrible place, outside the thin membrane above the Earth where cities are placed, their freeways a kind of grey string with lights dragged behind them.

They shriek in the absence of conversations. No voices, even, pleasant female voices on the naked beaches of the pleasant mind that decides that, after all, life is good; a tanned thing, with tall cool drinks and beautiful ships to pass the time. "Here they come," one cries. "The ships!" And they are spectacular, we have never seen anything so wonderful as yet. They pass and we wonder who built them, who was so persistent that these fabulous ships attained form? "Oh, it's a miracle," one said, among the many who crowded the beach that day.

Oh men who beat up other men for telling the truth, the shriek in you has not yet appeared. But it will. And perhaps you will confuse it with a fart and go on to the mall to buy the basket filled with sausages and cheeses. No, the truth can be painful and it is worth killing and dying for; or against, whatever the case. And certainly we are all called on, at one point, to see whether we are capable of dying for a truth or killing to prevent one from coming into being. It's all up in the air.

And the air is where grand gestures are made and, observing them, one feels free. Finally, free! After all of this, after the travails and terrible disillusionments, the heart-aches and lonliness, here finally, a free place no one could describe to us. In fact, we rather think they tried to hide it from us. Bastards. They are legion, these bastards. We know now that it exists and it is real and it will be our own one of these days.

So there is a pathetic sky in the universe of skies that we catch on a lousy, sunlit day, unware that what we see may last a lifetime. And what is that? One lifetime. We are capable of ten or twenty at least. One we pass through quickly farting and snarling like a dog in heat. The movies divert us from a path at times but then we are back at it, hunkered over with a burden we ask strangers to identify for us. "What is this pustule on my back? I hope it's not cancer. What? What is it?" And the only ones we come to trust are without guile; they are sadly alone and full of wisdom but innocuous and near destitution. They resemble sketetons in a way that have, somehow, grown a bit of flesh on them and when they smile (if they do) we are always startled and taken back to some memory we have fled for years and years.

Yes, they become the men weary of long days when they suddenly realize the riches they have perceived. But it is not in them anymore. This lonely galaxy rotating for eons back to some still point rolls around in their spirit. Or used to. They urge the scientist in themselves to identify and study this terrible demiurge. There must be life there! It must teem with it. Billions of cities, filled with billions of people. And unimaginative machines and shouts between them, voices, sounds, emissions, fluids, gasses. With that profound memory that only sentient creatures seem to have pulling the brain back into some childhood fantasy. Ah glass jars filled with coins and old comic books buried in the friendly Earth. But it is all gone for them now.

There is a divine shriek and a profane shriek and, if one is experienced enough, they can tell the difference. It is a nuance never taught in schools or the popular arts. The divine shriek is a kind of privledge only those who understand the past can attain. It is plaintive but drawn, too, because the shriek is suspended between a sound of helplessness and a paen to the inelcutable forces active even at this late date. The profane shriek reveals the animal in the human and startles one who has become complacent. "Ah you see, the animal lives high in him and it has hit a wall." So it is settled, if you are on a road you want to see the spiritual shriek beyond the profane shriek. The profane one reminds the witness that nothing has changed in all of these orbits around the Sun. It is exactly the same except for the machines. It is a ghastly reminder that we come from the grave robbers rather than the Kings. And how are the grave robbers to improve themselves? We'd love to see the seminar on that. No, even the smart and manipulative ones don't know how to divert the shriek; and they do a poor job themselves; it's another chore like dancing or writing letters. They shriek but their heart is concealed. Good. We always knew that was the case but hesitated on calling them out on it.

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