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Discovery at Myricon

Premiered 9/9/9 (9 September 2009)

The continuation of The Myth and Legend of D'PTah, an original novel by Dan Sewell Ward.


Segment 3

Discovery at Myricon



In my dream, the angel shrugged and said,

If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination.”

And then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.

These cryptic words were found in an ancient text, one which has only recently been discovered and deciphered. They referred, if we can place any credence on this archaic document, to the first encounter between a commoner who would become known as the legendary D'PTah and... for lack of a better description... his angel and/or mentor. The passage which described this fateful meeting provides us with the bits and pieces of a focused, personal history of the aftermath of that ancient event. It constitutes as such the first real evidence that a great myth from the furtherest distances of our ancient past must now be reclassified as history.


Mikhail Arthanius Duenki read and reread the introductory words of the all important first interim report draft, critically reviewing the grammar and phraseology, considering carefully the scholarly merit of the writing, how it might be received, and at the same time attempting to use just enough objectiveness to...

Wait! Before we go any further... There is simply no need to use Herr Duenki's full name with all of its status-bestowing attributes, its possibly glorifying and referential implications, its historical and ancestral connections, even its possible numerological significance. Duenki's full name is clearly too unwieldy, too stilted, too much like a Russian novel where the main character is named Vsevolod Vladimirovich Shostakovichia... the III. And whose nickname is Vasilialekovski. It can all be a bit overdone.

Moreover, names represent the timely facade of a person – including such things as their emotional state, their status in society, and their relationship to friends, associates, colleagues, and enemies. A name is a variable, to be used with care and forethought. Accordingly, when it comes to the prose of our would-be hero, the moniker should be -- at this juncture at any rate -- something simpler. For example, M. A. Duenki. Such a slightly diminished title is per the traditional accreditation of such reports – always in the standard form so as not to rock the overfilled life boat of scholars deserting a sinking ship.

On the other hand, we should not stoop to use the nickname, “Dookie”, as his colleagues here at the archaeological site were prone to gleefully call him. That would be unprofessional. Dookie needed to get away from that name! It was only for his closest friends, his intimate confidantes, or for those companions accompanying him on the road to hell and back... perhaps a wife, for example. Such companions/wives may not always be friends, but the mutual respect generated from the journey itself can be a thing to behold. As such, they can call him Dookie. You will address him as Doctor... Dookie.

For our purposes, and in the spirit of the moment... Doctor Dookie again reviewed his prose. He smiled broadly, like a youngster of two with no thought of compromise with or tolerance of other people's fates, goals and/or opinions. Dookie had official permission (from himself) to love and savor the delights of his own writing. For him it was fun, a diversion, a talent. He smiled when his prose called for it (even when such a call was so subtly inserted as to escape detection in anyone else's sense of humor). He sighed in moments of a totally dissimilar nature; and he shook his head in amazement upon reading the passages of such astounding brilliance that they took his breath away. In all respects, Dookie liked what he wrote. He loved it! It was a pinnacle of self understanding he had reached after a long and torturous path. He was beginning to know himself... and for obvious reasons he was bestowing praise upon himself more or less indiscriminately. When you think about it, it's not a totally disagreeable habit to develop.

The only momentary hesitation in this otherwise blissful universe populated alone by Dookie, was Messire Gilbert Deuruk Meshga (say it with a French accent; it's better that way). Or perhaps “Gil” as everyone on site would have it (although, obviously, not to his face -- bosses are not called "Gil").

Dookie wondered about Gil's review of his new assistant's writing, whether the prose and skill of the writer would be fully appreciated. It was a question mark, even a concern. But as per his nature, Dookie would hope for... even expect... the best. The optimistic course always seemed wiser, if only to allow unrealized disappointments to never dampen his spirits... however momentarily. Dookie knew Gil was the kind to always present himself and his views with great authority and assertiveness, and never to pull punches. Gil was also the type who relished challenging the sacred cows of Authority. Accordingly, Dookie had decided they would work well together. The Fates had in fact deemed it so.

And if that was the case – and in Dookie's universe it inevitably was -- then maybe the rest of his prose would be appreciated as well.. Let's see how the next part plays.


Myth and History

The myths and legends of times long ago are all too often the fodder for irresponsible criticism by certain skeptics and pseudo scientists, those without the wit or imagination to see beyond their shallow statistics and data points. Myths, these limited souls would insist, are but “traditional narratives of imaginary or supernatural beings full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.” [1] These legends are --so the skeptics claim -- nothing more than tales intended for children, fictions for the unschooled, and fabrications to feed the romantic longings of lesser intellects.

Imagine then the shock waves impending upon these professional skeptics by the recent Myricon archaeological discoveries! Suddenly, there are literally groundbreaking revelations of evidential merit which threaten to turn one of the greatest myths of ancient traditions into a full-bodied history! Picture if you will the knee-jerk reactionary responses by doubting academicians when such discoveries include a treasure trove of writings and artifacts, all of which argue in the most persuasive manner that a long ago myth may indeed be based on history and globally experienced reality. Suddenly, the whole of science and the limited paradigms on which we have based our lives are suddenly shaken and overturned. With the hurricane force of undiminished reason, newly unearthed findings challenge those skeptics of all things iconoclastic and lay siege to the very heart of their rhodium plated towers.

It is in the eye of this rampaging hurricane that lies the paradigm-shaking events that combine the discoveries at Myricon in Central Ureal and the ancient “Legend of D'PTah”.

The interim report you have before you stems from the results of years of intensive study, exhaustive labors, and in some instances blind luck. As an interim communique, it is the first of a series to be issued as permitted by the ongoing research, the progress of translations, and intensive study. Despite its brief format and lacking the typical mass of supporting documentation, it is nevertheless the first public presentation of possibly the most important archaeological discovery of our time. For lodged within its purview is a convincing combination of evidence and rational conjecture that attempts to establish an historical reality for the incredibly ancient “Legend of D'PTah”.

Clearly much research work has yet to be done – the discoveries at Myricon are of such magnitude as to require the unrelenting focus of those dedicated to the truth. The cadre of scholars dedicated to this project have been in fact increasing on a monthly basis, with specialists from a wide variety of disciplines and generalists of long standing repute being recruited in order to maintain the integrity of the conclusions being drawn. This is a search for truth, and it can not be compromised by any possible lack of attention from the scholarly community.

Unwitting skeptics may challenge the evidence, the accompanying analysis, and more over the conclusions – even to the extent of using a degree of scientific logic and rationale. In point of fact, the reason for delay in publication of this first interim report -- what this author would consider an excessive delay – has been due to the many and varied challenges from the scientific community's “old guard”, the professional cynics of our time who are more interested in maintaining a conservative stability within their profession than in searching with open-minds for the truth. There are never such fanatic priests of the orthodox than can be found in the pseudo-scientific lodgings of those terrified at the very thought of confronting nonconformist theories. It is essential, on the contrary, that truth must trump all such nonsensical leanings toward the status quo. Our goal, as always, is to adhere to the fundamentals of truth and integrity in all forms of scholarship as the only meaningful constraints.

The weight of time-honored evidence and the lessons to be learned in our own times from events from the distant past cannot and should not be discarded or diminished outright by those who prefer traditional posturing. Instead such evidence should lead irrevocably to a recognition of a wholly revised view of the foundations of our society. The truth in its wholeness -- and all that it implies -- must be given precedence over simplistic views of ancient times and predecessors. The stakes are simply too high for so-called authorities to cast a pall over a far better understanding of our heritage. History, if it has any value, must be able to be changed when new evidence presents itself. There is no security in alleged facts which are no longer viable – despite the eagerness with which some would defend the old ways, no matter what.

Clearly, as in all searches for truth and understanding, it must be left to the sovereign and open-minded reader to draw upon her or his own reasoned judgment and wisdom, and thereafter to incorporate, as appropriate, the implications of such conclusions into their own lives.


Dookie hesitated as he finished re-reading his draft... his broad, glowing smile of approval having already completed its stint as a grossly biased literary critic... or just a critic who was already in the employ of the author. In his mind, the prose had passed muster and then some. It was great stuff, very professional, and right on target. There was, of course, the barest possibility that the narrative was... well... just a bit overdone -- that is, as opposed to being substantially overdone. Okay... admittedly... it could be just a bit too... oh, what's the word... bold? Perhaps. But then again, surely that's not the point. The more relevant question was: Would it meet Gil's criteria? In other words, was it bold enough for him? Would he want to "tweak it", maybe make it bolder... even add poison to the page corners for unwary critics?

Surely not. There was no need for any editing. This was something that Gil could simply approve. Come to think of it, the report might have already passed muster with Gil... and somehow Dookie had failed to be notified? After all, what was the hold up on receiving the golden laurels? How long does it take to read Dookie's submission when the words flow -- in spite of the turbulent times -- with such laminar ease?

Dookie considered the possibilities. Maybe Gil was otherwise engaged... like doing his job, for example. Perhaps he was preoccupied with other matters... including, come to think of it, the arbitrary demands from the project's own personal Peer Review Oversight Committee. That would constitute a distraction. Worse yet... if the distraction was from the principal female of said committee... ah yes... that would be a problem. This was the woman, after all, who Gil always described with a mixture of contempt and awe.

Come to think of it, it was mostly contempt and only grudgingly awe. Apparently Gil had never really come to grips with his exact feelings for the woman. That suggested a history, even a romantic one... but not one to which Dookie was ever likely to be entrusted. The woman was, after all, the “Special Advisor” to their PRO Committee, and thus her personal affairs were never to even be discussed by the likes of Dookie. She was, after all, the advisor who had no responsibilities -- merely unconstrained power that she could wield at her capricious whim. And, according to Gil, we're talking about major league whim! Yes, that sort of thing might indeed delay Gil in giving his enthusiastic support to Dookie's work. It was probably akin to the case where behind every great man was a woman... digging in her heels and refusing to budge.

Ironically, the woman in question, the honorable Anna Shamhat, was also the person in authority who had been known to Dookie from the start of the project. Supposedly... i.e., it's been said, rumor has it, and as a result of various nebulous possibilities, we have been told that... the great and mighty Anna Shamhat had been... extremely instrumental in ensuring that Dookie – a scholar by any other name -- was assigned to the autocratic Gilbert, and thereafter to act as his scribe and analyst. Had she not intervened in Dookie's favor, he might still be sorting catalog stocks. But she had, and now he was here.. his job description clear... except possibly in the unexpected case whereby Dookie might also have been lodged locally in order to occasionally act as Shamhat's personal spy.

That would be a bit unpleasant, what with Dookie having absolutely no training, inclination, or talent for spying. He was very capable of being an exalted gopher whenever the moment called for it, but not for stealth or cunning. In some respects, a greater problem would be if Gil suspected Dookie to be a spy. Perceptions need never correspond to reality before they can be taken seriously. And that would at least explain something about the Gil

Curiously -- and in apparent contradiction to being a deep mole for Anna Shamhat -- Dookie had never met the woman, and had never even seen her photo. Only her fame had preceded her... a fame of a very different sort. For Anna Shamhat was an enigma of the first magnitude. Enigma might in fact have been her middle name as everyone else exposed to her existence would likely have concluded. The name, Anna Enigma Shamhat, did have something of a ring to it. Or as Dookie preferred: Anna Shamhat Enigma (with an acronym that somehow promised even more astounding possibilities).

But her enigmatic nature was, as Gil often remarked, simply an indication of her power and status. The truly powerful, the Powers That Be (PTB), are by definition -- or requirement -- enigmatic. True leaders can not afford the luxury of being easily understood lest the affairs of state – corporate, organizational and otherwise -- become clear, predictable, and therefore at the tender mercies of foreign (and/or domestic) intelligence forces. Tis always far better to keep them guessing... as per Axiom XII in Leadership by Fiat, Rulership 101 (See Course Guide).

Nevertheless, as luck or coincidence would have it – although it's almost certainly neither one... at least in the traditional sense – the Right Honorable (and Powerful) Anna was in fact the PRO's Special Advisor. More specifically, she was Special Advisor to the Myricon Peer Review Oversight Committee, aka head Moll (Mole?) of the PR Oversight Gang of Thugs. Yeah. That would about sum it up.

Except possibly... to coin one of Gil's stranger phrases, "She was the power behind the... throne." This of course made no sense at all! For starters, no one other than Gil seemed to know what exactly a "throne" was. It was possibly... or more likely... some kind of antiquated terminology, that only someone like Gil would cotton to... the latter being another really strange Gil-phrase. Sometimes, one had to wonder in which century Dookie's boss was living... obviously a common job hazard for archaeologists.

Meanwhile, back at the site... and the progress reports for which Dookie was responsible for preparing and reviewing... hmmmmm... Yes... the draft thus far should just about do the trick. The writing was challenging, clear, and definitive – and with just a dash of humor. (One can never admire one's writing too much.) In fact, in this case, Dookie's words were in fact clearly fit for carving in stone. That is to say that, Dookie really loved his writing! Better yet, the redoubtable Gilbert (to his face on social occasions), aka Site Leader Meshga... you know the guy, the one with the beard of wisdom... He was going to eat this one up. The barbed stings at the quo status he would relish and savor with gusto! There could not longer be any doubt!

'Just wish I could hear from him,' Dookie thought. 'He's had the draft long enough. How wise can it be to delay the inevitable accolades for a job well done?'

Dookie frowned for a brief moment, pivoted in time, re-entered from the space time continuum of great expectations, and promptly displayed his genuine smile to the world at large. Everything was proceeding briskly along; all was well with the world. Or at least things were well with that small portion of the world referred locally as 'the site located just east of nowhere.' It was here, in Central Ureal, far from the beaten, paved, or animal traversed paths where Alexander Borodin's music, In the Steppes of Central Asia [2], felt unaccountably appropriate.

There was, Dookie suddenly recalled, also the small matter about the “translation” section, what Gil liked to call the “disclaimer”. In archaeological and other traditions, all errors, intentional deceptions, sins of omission, misrepresentations and attempted fraud could more often than not be ascribed to translation error... and typically were. Accordingly, like any good investment prospectus, there would have to be provided in gory detail all of every imaginable risk factor involved in the enterprise, including with special emphasis the critical and inevitable factor that amounted to, in essence: “What I said is not necessarily what you heard (or read). Furthermore, I cannot be responsible for your reaction to... well... anything.... including our stealing the company blind. You take your chances. Now get over it.”

There is so much to be learned for the wary investor from a well drafted stock prospectus.

Meanwhile, Dookie's “translation disclaimer” might go something like this:


The Translation

Before embarking upon our journey, we must address the issue of ancient languages, translations, and the perils of interpreting the events and thoughts of widely diverse cultures. All attempts to understand the ancients must first and foremost account for their multiple traditions and paradigms – as well as for our own modern day paradigms, that is to say, our unstated assumptions of the manner in which our and their worlds operate.

The evolution of language – the evolution of any form of art for that matter -- is the evolution of its sponsoring culture, the environment in which such a culture develops, and the most fundamental belief structures of the era. The act of perceiving is of course related to the act of believing, but more importantly, the act of believing must often precede the act of perceiving if in fact such perceptions are to be accurate and unbiased. It is therefore essential that any translation of a language involve or require an understanding of the culture from which it evolved. Considering the antiquity in which we are faced in the “Legend of D'PTah”, this is clearly a challenge of epic proportions [pardon the pun].

There is in essence, the perils of language – something which the ancients referred to as “the curse of the Kali Yuga” and which was assigned to times far earlier than our own. Writing was even considered by these ancient sages as a symptom of the Kali Yuga. For according to certain wise men:

“...in the Twilight of the Kali Yuga, the Prime Creator gathers its data-collecting vehicles back into the Mind of God – to make way for the next cycle, the next new age.

“It is perhaps dismaying to consider the idea that the human stint on life is nothing more than that of a 'data-collecting vehicle'. Or that humans are merely incarnated to gather material for a stand-up comedy sketch later on. But when one views the larger context of the human experience, such a job description might be considerably more appealing. Even pain becomes just another data point on the graph of a human life – and thus should not be given any more significance than any other encounter.”

There is both wisdom and evidence of profound thought in this passage.

It is essential to realize that what little we know of ancient history is at least consistent with a description of those times as being in an almost chaotic level of existence. Specifically, various tribes and cultural traditions were competing in a most aggressive manner. Various and diverse communities and belief structures were continuously at odds even to the extent that many tribes and their cultural traditions were extinguished in the course of time. It is sometimes hard to imagine in our modern world of ever increasing intercommunications that there was a time when various tribes and cultures were simply and inexorably unable to understand or comprehend the motives of those who should have been their brothers and sisters. Intolerance and the utter lack of appreciation of the cultures of others quickly became a means whereby true civilization was stunted in its embryonic stage of development.

The lack of positive communications among these different ancient tribes and the resulting wide diversity and extreme variations in their basic cultures, both implied and were caused by different languages. In extreme cases, the only understood intentions were those demonstrated by weaponry. Additionally, many different tribal languages and traditions had unique words – and therefore concepts and ideas -- which simply did not have an equivalent word/concept/idea in any other language. This further contributed to the lack of understanding by one culture of another.

Clearly, this cultural divide in language impacts our own studies as well in that many words in the ancient languages used in the archaeological discoveries of Myricon may not have a counterpart in our modern language. Such words may in fact remain quite mysterious for lack of any hint of why such a word even exists, much less what it means. Furthermore, variations of words designed to more accurately distinguish subtle nuances in an idea or concept – as in the distinct names for various types of snow by Eskimos, for example – may have little meaning to someone wholly unfamiliar with the original concept – in this example, snow.

Because of this, the translations within this series of reports will occasionally include a “[?]” to denote a word which seems to resist a clear, definitive translation into our modern language. The symbol “[-?-]” will be used in something of the same manner, but in this case to denote those sections of the narrative in which the condition of the documentary evidence is such as to prevent a clear reading of the words or phrase. In other cases, modern words that may be a good guess at an accurate translation – but a guess nonetheless – may be placed in bold faced italics in order to avoid a covert yet tentative judgment on the part of the translator. In this fashion, we can hopefully avoid inadvertently imposing a limited understanding of these ancient times existing prior to the Perl Discontinuity.

In terms of literary style – there will be in many cases within these pages the usage of modern idioms so as to best convey the true meaning of the story to non-scholars. This use of less technical language is -- not unexpectedly -- heavily frowned upon by certain aficionados of science who believe that nothing should be included which has not yet been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. The purpose of these reports, however, is not to argue for the absolute veracity of every detail of the story being told, but to utilize the time honored standard of “the preponderance of the evidence” upon which the sovereign readers will be able to base their judgments. In effect, further delay in publishing these discoveries can no longer be tolerated.

And thus the journey begins.

May the Truth in All of its Glory Continue to be Pursued

M. A. Duenki



Perfect. You perhaps expected an alternative assessment? Really, now. This stuff was right out of the pages of the Standards and Guidelines for Scholarly Reports, the last and first resort for official doctrine wherein the methods and values of literature in all of its diverse and varied forms could be formally dictated, constrained, and thereby made ordinary. “All writings on any subject were required to be rational, logical and always to depict archaeological history 'realistically' and 'truthfully'.” We will deal later with the subject of what constitutes realism and truth. A bit too messy for the moment.

Nothing from Gil yet. Hmmmm... Why not go to his tent, where the supreme authority hereabouts tends to reside, thereby avoiding the crowds of ordinary workers and tourists, as well as the tumult of just too many people in too small a space? Okay, not exactly crowds – inasmuch as there were typically less than a dozen people on site at any given time. But rather 'crowds' as per Gil's definition; the man who had a much lower threshold on numbers of people that might constitute overcrowding.

Or, come to think of it, perhaps it was the ordinary nature of these other individuals, whereas Gil preferred the extraordinary. Gil's rule had long been to never invite to a dinner party anyone who was going to be a silent observer, someone who would be secretly amused and obnoxiously above it all. Boring! No conflict, no scores, no interest. What was needed were multiple (and hopefully) diametrically opposing views. Something to motivate blood flow. But not so many views as to make things intellectually unmanageable. There were checks and balances, and then there was chaos... the latter being far less entertaining. Gil's universe was in fact about harmony via managed conflict; with the best use of life being that of living dangerously... even if most dangers were illusionary in the extreme.

On this basis, therefore... Dookie could take a page from Gil's own notebook, i.e., Nothing ventured; nothing gained. Duenki would have to go to the mountain.

When he arrived, Gil's tent (aka the mountain from the Dookie perspective) was partially darkened. The only evidence of current occupancy was a single small focused lamp alongside the man seated in his captain's chair and who was partially in the light himself. Gil had been obliquely looking at a document, only to toss it back on the pile of similarly perused documents. These were the documents which provided specifications on all of the various Myricon site happenings. Gil had indeed been busy.

Gil had also been frowning and was continuing to do so. What's good for the detail oriented has always been far less attractive for the broader mind. Gathering and presenting detail does not require synthesis or incorporation – which from one perspective is the only valid excuse for collecting data in the first place. Detail is nothing more than simple accounting, a means to finally reach the bottom line. It's just too bad all important communiques could not reach the pinnacle of such mathematical precision and boast the simplicity of a “bottom line”. (Executive Summaries, for example, just don't cut it!)

Even in the dim light – in and of itself a standing clue as to why the light had been dimmed – Dookie could see that Gil had a splitting headache – the kind tearing a rift of geological proportions between Gil's left and right hemispherical-brains. Thinking and intuition were accordingly in their own respective corners, warily eying one another, waiting for the first overt move by the other. There's a reason for the separation of such modes of data collection, analysis, and experienced reality. Still... one was reminded of the classic scene: a Viking Boat, with the muscular bound jocks on the left and the wimps direct from starvation prison on the right, all rowing for all they were worth. The tendency was thus to go in circles. [3]

On the local scene, Gil was not thinking well. Matters of state should have been on hold – even if they never were. Should we launch a sneak attack? Not now; I have a headache. Affairs of state, no matter the size of the state, or the project, were not to be so casually discarded or delayed. The result for Gil was that he was ready to be shockingly politically incorrect – just to get on with it and hang the consequences. Gil was in fact contemplating various forms of professional suicide. He was also feeling the intense pressure to make correct and binding judgments less his PRO find fault. That he was thoroughly fed up with.

A distraction took away the immediate pressure. It wasn't obvious who was on the docket, but with a greeting bordering on dismissal, Gil was able to ascertain the reality of someone's presence. And Dookie, being Dookie, identified himself soon enough. It was enough to elicit a slight smile from Gil, even a sense of relief at not being required to perform for the lowly subordinate.

The truth was that Gil found Dookie's company interesting; the younger man definitely had... for the most part... a plethora of uncontaminated life-views and illusions. Gil had initially thought Dookie could be a spy, but then slowly it became clear that he either was not a spy, or would be a very lousy one if he were. In any case, the issue was no longer a concern. In fact, there were times when Dookie's innocence was positively refreshing for Gil. Maybe a reminder of his own carefree days... long, long, long ago. Still... on this particular day... the headache was absolutely maddening.

Dookie for his part had taken in the state of the Head's head intuitively... and acted accordingly. With little hesitation – which is often the best way – he informed the sufferer that the pain would soon be gone. This was not because Dookie had any special connection with the whims of fate and/or divinity – what self respecting fate or divinity would even talk to a 'Dookie'? Rather it was because Dookie believed in the concept that suggestion could often be the mother of reality. As it turns out, his belief will be true more often than not. It even seemed to work this time as Gil gained his first relief of the day... all the while without suspecting Dookie's covert thinking.

Somewhat more overtly, Dookie inquired if Gil had had the chance to read the draft reports.

For a moment, Gil looked up at him, the fog in his eyes clearing slightly from their previously veiled status. It was then that he frowned. Quietly he asked, “And why, pray tell, are you so anxious to be judged?”

Dookie's minimalist response was, “Judged?” It was a poor choice of words.

Gil, however, was on a roll. “Clearly I will have failed in my fiduciary obligations to you in our momentary collaboration if I do not teach you to... avoid like the plague, judgments! Be assured that you will hear from me soon enough. And you will at that time be devastated. Do not fantasize that I will proclaim you to be the greatest technician of the writing craft yet known to man, or that you will henceforth be catapulted into fame, status, and the inevitable triumphs awarded by your peers.”

Dookie was true to his nickname, a diminished being in the presence of royalty on a bad day. He might have challenged Gil's over-reaction, but to do so would undoubtedly have earned him 40 lashes or so (but hey, who's counting?). Or perhaps a worse fate. It might be better to sluff it off and change the subject.

“The rumor going around is that we might have a visit of the PR Oversight Committee.”

“Ah, yes,” Gil remarked with casual indifference, “the prophecies of doom.”

Dookie confided, “I was rather looking forward to it.” When Gil only looked at Dookie with a combination of awe and utter disbelief, the younger scholar added... with a straight face, “It could help our credibility; give us the status we need to increase our contingent of personnel.”

Gil watched his assistant for a moment, his face a mixture of shock and bewildered disbelief. Then Gil smiled. This one had to be nipped in the bud. “Fear not. There are already additional scholars recruited and on their way to join us. I am assured that they are eager and enthusiastic, and that their training is top notch. More importantly, they've already been selected and their coming here is assured -- despite the inevitable logistical delays. Therefore, it follows that no further credibility is necessary. No PRO visits are needed. The doomsday clock can now be reset to an earlier hour without further consideration.

“Try to understand, my young colleague... that it's far better to swim below the net, even if at some point you're going to have to come up for air. If the PR critics don't seem interested; that's the good news.”

“Great,” Dookie said. His enthusiasm was genuine in part because of Gil's perceived willingness to confide in Dookie, and secondly because Dookie now had inside information to share with his co-workers -- and thereby to gain status among his peers. Of course it was not the peers of the Peer Review Oversight Committee, but we can only do with what we're handed.

Unfortunately, Dookie then took a step too far. “May the Truth in all its...” His voice trailed off.

Gil was watching him, waiting for the other shoe to fall on his head... the latter which Gil was only slightly aware was no longer hurting. Oblivious to the impact of suggested reality, Gil slowly asked, relishing the word, his mind taking different angles with which to view it and consider the varied possibilities, “Truth? Hmmmm... Tell me: do you have a special relationship with the truth, perhaps a corner on the market?”

It was clearly a rhetorical question. Dookie braced himself. He had been down such mine-strewn paths before. Gil's smile became even more fiendish. “Perhaps you claim to have special access or sources unbeknownst to the rest of us... the latter which I must say have been very cleverly concealed. We haven't suspected for a moment that you might have some special exalted status with regard to the access and understanding of truth. May I assume we've simply been fooled by your cleverness?” Again, so obviously a rhetorical question than Dookie merely shrugged his shoulders.

In an entirely different tone of voice, Gil asked, “Ever write what's called 'fiction'?”

“No,” Dookie replied, thinking about being bewildered, but not yet sure.

“Curious,” Gil replied. Then he smiled the smile he had used so many times in competitive games of chance. “You realize of course that on the one hand fiction and non-fiction are both the same forms of literature. The principle difference is that the label of 'non-fiction' is but an allegation, a supposition claimed by the author's hubris wherein he exalts himself to claim he actually knows and is able to convey the truth. On the other hand, as one authority [4] has noted, the only real difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.”

With Dookie's mental processes still digesting the idea, Gil briefly described times in the past when archaeological research was supported only so long as the results and conclusions were in accord with the preconceived and established doctrines of the supporters. Prophecies were always to be self-fulfilling. It was specifically required in the Supporting Contract/Agreement, Paragraph 13, subsection a) 7) thru k) 11). Surprises or contradicting discoveries were viewed with contempt and the heavy hand of a gavel. The latter included slashed support. One can not simultaneously be realistic and truthful, and in the same breath conform to official doctrine. Among other things, the goals and aspirations are incompatible with the scholarly pecking order's market place of traditions and established, irrevocable facts and values.

Gil threw caution to the winds, threatening to instruct the youngster and inflict him with the virus of dissension. “Writing has no purpose... other than to challenge the mind of established paradigms or authorities. It must be gloriously irreverent, contemptuous of the ordinary, in essence unpublishable, and always willing to live dangerously in pursuing whatever is unilaterally assumed to be worth pursuing.

“Truth can be sought, and always should be. But it can never be caught or trapped. You cannot build a fence around it. The truth once revealed (and not merely composed) continues in the gist of the famous “manuscripts don't burn”. Manuscripts survive despite the efforts of those who burn any and every thing in their quest for ignorance. Meanwhile, perpetrators of the so-called 'words of the Gods' inevitably err and simultaneously crave more parchment with which to buttress their arguments with an ever increasing weight of documents -- as opposed to the weight of evidence.”

Duenki was outmatched, but true to his name, he argued along party lines that there must be some constraint on writings, else everything might degenerate into fantasy. That's the reason for PROs, peer review, the best of all possible worlds. Literature cannot be allowed to run amuck.

Gil smiled in the fashion of clear and deadly disagreement, “Quote, 'All power is a form of violence,' unquote. [5] To limit, constrain and erect unnecessary boundaries are but acts of piracy. Why can literature not run amuck? What's to fear? Fantasy? So what's wrong with fantasy? Where does it lead that leaves us vulnerable and fearful? How often has so-called fantasy become reality? Clearly, numerous times. It is one thing to pursue truth, but the far greater challenge is to recognize it, to see it when it's presented to you... and even more importantly to incorporate it into one's living. Else why bother?”

“You've said in one of your writings,” Dookie replied, using the time honored technique of using the adversary's temporary, recorded truth from the past to both praise and sandbag the opponent, “that the ordinary is the enemy of truth. Why such an indictment?”

“Because it assumes a priori that uniqueness has no value. The most carefully researched, documented research report, and/or the most imaginative fantasy creation of writings, are inevitably both fictions. The only thing worth reading is that which may be true or false, but which must also be entertaining – as well as involving the authenticity and the autonomy of the imagination.”

Dookie might have continued this spur of the moment, unplanned, and opportunistic moment with his prime candidate for mentorship, when he noticed a movement on the side of Gil's chair opposite to the papers and the light. It was Gil's faithful dog, a behemoth and a true companion. Possibly, or so it had been conjectured by those with essentially zero evidence on which to base their conjectures... it might have been Gil's only companion and faithful side kick. The canine, Koroviev by name, stirred as if to suggest that the impromptu interview was extemporaneously ended. Clearly, the dog had its own agenda, and one item on said agenda was to avoid having his master challenged... in any manner.

Dookie hesitated. He was aware of his boss' problems – or foolishly assumed he was -- but the helpful assistant had no idea how to convey his suggested cure in a wholly diplomatic fashion. Still, Dookie had to ask himself, 'Had his boss given him permission to challenge the paradigm, even that of his superior in most all aspects of critical thinking?' Hmmmm... Sounds a bit like the woman who wants to know if you've been faithful, claiming with great earnestness that it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to her, and she simply wants to know, to satisfy a mild curiosity... but then either collapses from profound relief at being reassured of your faithfulness, or upon discovering that she's been wronged goes ballistic in the manner of holocausts of the third and most devastating kind.

Ah yes. Take a cue from the canine. Smile, walk away without ever turning your back, and consider yourself blessed for the few moments already gifted.



[1] W. S. Globet, Ancient Writings, A Collection of Alleged Wisdom by the Ancients, Nebulous Press, Code 3387294.

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXhIdguE60Y

[3] Gary Larson, Far Side Cartoon, November 15, 2007, Annual Calendar.

[4] Tom Clancy, quoted in Reader's Digest, Quotable Quotes, December 2007, Page 77.

[5] Simon Franklin, “Introduction” to The Master and Margarita, Everyman's Library, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1992, page xiv.



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