Friday, February 29, 2008

Eight and a Half

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I finally watched Federico Fellini's last night. It was a true delight. Movie magic in the same league for me as The Wizard of Oz, both films which nearly singlehandedly justify the existence of cinema.

Despite what I'd heard about 's complex mesh of dreams and reality, surrealism and narrative, I found it entirely lucid and easy to follow. It was hilarious but also very touching. A real inspiration to me as I delve more and more deeply into my own creative potential.

A tip I have for viewers: if you find yourself asking, "Gloriosky, is this scene a dream or realist?", the answer is, "Exactly." That dynamic ambiguity is exactly the question Fellini explores about dreams and experience, high-flying creativity and inescapable moral gravity. They flow into each as mutual inspirations, creating both challenges to action and fresh positions for progress.

See this film. The soundtrack is worth the time in its own rights. Hooray!

Awheel at the Sleep

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This is a tale I struck upon in Camiguin while listening to someone discuss his sleep problems as a "waking dreamer": talking, walking, etc. while asleep. It is about a man, a good, decent man, who increasingly finds himself subject to these waking dreams. They disrupt his wife and children's nights, so he gradually finds himself spending time out of the house to spare them the racket.

Unfortunately, his fatigue gets the better of him so he still falls asleep at home, but, driven by the instinct to get out, he begins leading an entire alternate life in his sleep. He becomes a manager of a logistics warehouse, graveyard shift. He finds it impossible, however, to form any solid relationships, especially with women, mainly because his "conscious" mind functions as his "subconscious" mind, and "unconsciously" restrains him from infidelity based on his "conscious" loyalty to his family. Not only are his sleep patterns inverted, but so is his psychology. During the day, in his conscious life, he finds himself subconsciously drawn to elements of sleeping life. Occasionally he encounters people from his night life, but strikes them as rudely obtuse or amnesic. His wife and children are upset that he seems both deadened at home and most likely unfaithful outside at night.

At some point, his wife realizes what is happening and she tries to explain his problem to her husband. But his mind is so out of sorts that he can't tell what is a dream or real. So his wife just settles on having an affair with his night persona, since by then that persona is more responsive than his day-self. Of course, the protagonist starts to realize his wife is cheating on him, so he begins tracking his own somnabulent persona down as the source of his family's obvious estrangement.

You might see this as a kind of domestic take on Memento, Fight Club, and The Thirteenth Floor (though I never made any connection between those stories and my own until typing this sentence). Ultimately, the story will serve as an ironic indictment of how most people live their daily lives just like the protagonist: asleep but functional. We are spiritual zombies, feeding off the entropy of the world's delights and delusions, just so we can earn our keep and leave our deepest spiritual longings and visions to our unconscious, untended life.

The title is a spoonerism that an extremely tired person might say.

Tunes Out

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[One day while listening to the radio, a young man, renamed Connie by his high school friend (and secret crush), is in a serious auto accident. He undergoes an experimental neural implant operation. The implant is meant to restore his lost hearing and impaired speech. He has an affinity for static and out-of-tune radio noise. His imparied hearing often gives him that kind of sound when listening to other people. Over time, the implant becomes a powerful, nanoneural receiver that collapses his speech ability into the radio signals he receives. In other words, he eventually can only speak what he broadcasts. Over time he learns to control his reception and becomes a walking jukebox. When he sleeps or is at a loss for words, he emits static and radio jumble. Ultimately, he is able to capture old radio signals in space, such as Churchill's and Hitler's speeches, etc., so that he takes on a messianic proportions for large swaths of the pop audience.
He lives in a society dominated by politically correct censorship, or "verbal shariah". In the mass media, conventional language is so religiously, politically, and ideologically charged among contending advocacy groups that pretty much the only words not censored are cuss words, trivial conjunctions, etc. So a news discussion will sound like. This will take on comic dimensions, but is also basically a grim satire on the corrosion of speech based on "special interests" and "neutrelativity".
A further problem in the society is that copyright laws are draconially reactionary. Specifically, it is illegal to sing copyrighted songs without a license. This means guys cannot croon to their girls without calling a hotline (976-Shake-4-Me), drivers get pulled over for singing along with the radio, control teams burst into showers to stop bathers from singing in the showers, etc. Again, comical but basically grimly satirical.
The problem is that, since our protagonist can only speak by using the radio, he is in constant violation of copyright laws and he can't help but utter the unassumingly blunt language of past ages in songs, jingles, speeches, etc. The climax is unclear to me right now, but I think he will ultimately be enshrined––dare I say imprisoned––in a cultural sanctuary. He can be observed as a national, living artifact.]

Tunes Out

by Elliot Bougis

The blessed sound of a radio out of tune. He liked it. It made him feel at home. Not the only one, or the only thing, at least, out of tune. In search of a tune. In search of the right frequency. In search of a sending station. Making noise but not making any sense.
This is ORM Radio. This is KTLM Radio. This is MMT Radio. But what is this, this life? This life he and everyone he knew lng enough tacitly agreed to call his real life. Day after day it was broadcast, always scratchy, hissing, flickering. Things happened and things turned the knob. People cut in and cut out and the programming changed before he even got a playlist. All he seemed to control was the volume. And even then he had trouble with a trigger finger. If someone tweaked the antenna of his heart too suddenly, or too persistently, he would blare out like a walking feedback machine. Driving helped him lower the volume.
So Connie was driving. Listening to the radio rattle out of tune. His friends usually asked him to just turn off the radio when he drove, since he enjoyed an out of tune radio so much, he left it that way on purpose. Not flagrantly, in the presence of company, but just enough off the mark to chop up the DJ's voice like a man trying to finsih his sentence as the committee pulled the mic from his hands. That made him feel good too. Hearing the DJ lose his voice in a wave of static. He wasn't the only one who couldn't speak right. Everything he said drifted away from him in the ocean of speech, a message in a bottle no one ever found. Or, if they did find it, open it, they never wrote back with the reply he was seeking. What could you expect when most of the ocean was froth? People can't breathe underwater, so they tread water on the surface, kicking up froth and passing it off as if from the deep blue. Connie preferred the silence of sunken ships to the froth he had to eat most the time.
So let the DJ get paid for talking. At least he could break a pro's stride with some static. Competition on the airways. DJ Drew Dragomore. Unbelieveable, but payable. Who makes up these DJ names? It wasn't any sane mother who gave these names to their baby. What self-respecting woman would carry someone named Drew Dragomore in her stomach for nine months?
Connie knew about fake names. His name wasn't really Connie. That's the name Galinda––or, "Galinda"––gave him when they graduated high school. And Galinda is the name he came to give her.
"The end of a season. The start of a new season."
"Fallow season, you mean."
"Jackass. Don't hate. We're done with school. We can leave these people behind. Be new."
Be new. Newbie.
"What if you don't want to leave them behind? What if you don't want to be new?"
"Why not, jackass?"
"What if you'd rather stay old, go back, and do it better a second time?"
"A second chance, a new start, whatever, man, it's all the same. You can make a new name for yourself."
"I haven't even made an old name for myself."
"Holy crap, man. Can't you ever take things less than Newtonially heavy?"
His smile almost toppled him it was so heavy.
"Did you just say 'Newtonially'?"
"What can I say? I'm a poet trapped in an idiot's body."
Trapped in her body. She kept talking so he had to pull himself out of the lines on her forehead. The spell she cast when she raised her eyebrows.
"Okay, then, give me a new name."
"What if you don't like it?"
"Well, it's not my name, so I can change it later."
"Not fair. If I come up with a name for you, you can't just junk it."
For me. For you.
"Well, I just won't tell you if I junk it."
Her forehead crinkled up as if to touch her hair. To touch her hair. He slid his hands in his pockets, his shoulders loose and desperately debonaire, swept around for pocket change, but then remembered he had no money on him. She kept talking as his hands crept behind him to restrategize.
"I'm not talking about a nickname. I mean a whole new name for you to call yourself when you wake up in the morning. You don't even have to use it with other people. But at least you will know you are new."
At least you will know I am new.
"Hmm, why do I have the feeling you've done this before? Did you see this on TV?"
"No, not quite. On the radio, though. It was a charity drive idea for immigrants or something."
"Like tagging people as they cross the border?"
"They weren't illegal aliens, jackass!"
"Totally legal aliens."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wisdom from… [27 Feb 08]

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ASTERIUS OF AMASEA: The wealth of Christ's love for us

If, having been made in the image of God, you wish to be like him, follow his example. Christians, whose very name is a profession of love for everyone, should imitate the love of Christ.

Consider and wonder at the wealth of Christ's love for us. When he was about to show himself to us in our own nature, he sent John the Baptist to preach repentance by word and example. Before John he sent all the prophets. They too were to teach people to amend their lives. Then he came himself and with his own voice cried out: Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. And how did he receive those who listened to his call and followed him? He readily forgave them their sins, instantly relieving them of all their cause for grief. The Word made them holy, the Spirit set his seal on them. Their old self was buried in the waters of baptism and a new self born; their youth was renewed by grace. And the result? Enemies of God became his friends, strangers to him became his children, idolaters became worshipers of the true God.
(Hom. 13: PG 40, 355-358.362.)

[Some say, "You are only as young as you say you are." The Gospel, however, informs us that we are only as young as God says we are. And in Christ, He calls us all, by baptism, into the childlike immortality of theosis, ever-thankful, ever-curious, ever-growing, ever-young. The seriousness we see in the visage of Christ is but the seriousness we see in the visage a child about some earnest task creation sets before him. For the average boy, it is to draw his father's car as well as he can to show Papa when he comes back, or to arrange his toy soldiers in as accurate a ranking as he can manage. For Christ, the Son of Abba-God, the task was to redeem all His brethren gone astray in their own little sandboxes, sandboxes destined to become quicksand unless they are transplanted onto the Rock of Christ's childlike vigilance and infinitude.]

Asterius was metropolitan of Amasea, and a preacher of considerable power. He lived in the fourth century. "The only fact in his life that is known is related by himself, viz. his education by a Scythian or Goth who had been sent in his youth to a schoolmaster of Antioch and thus acquired an excellent education and great fame among both Greeks and Romans. The extant writings of Asterius are twenty-one homilies, scriptural and panegyrical in content."

ST AUGUSTINE: Everything Works Together for Charity

All these endeavors for fasting are concerned not about the rejection of various foods as unclean, but about the subjugation of inordinate desire and the maintenance of neighborly love.

Charity especially is guarded: food is subservient to charity, speech to charity, customs to charity, and facial expressions to charity. Everything works together for charity alone.
-- Customs of the Catholic Church 33, 70

Prayer. How great was your love for us, kind Father! You did not spare your only-begotten Son but surrendered him for the sake of us sinners!
-- Confessions 10, 43


Birds have nests in trees and stags have thickets where they can find shelter when the need arises. Deer know where to take cover, either to hide or to enjoy some cool shade during the summer. So also our hearts should each day choose some place, either on Mount Calvary or within Our Lord's wounds, or in some other place near Him, as a retreat where they can retire at various times to refresh and restore themselves during their exterior occupations. There, as in a stronghold, they can defend themselves against temptation. Blessed will be the soul that can truly say to Our Lord, "You are my place of strength and my stronghold to give me safety, my roof against the rain, my shade against the heat." [cf. Ps 46:1]
(INT. Part 2, Ch. 12; O. III, p. 92)


A MAN must be partly a one-idead man because he is a one-weaponed man––and he is flung naked into the fight. In short, he must (as the books on Success say) give 'his best'; and what a small part of a man 'his best ' is! His second and third best are often much better. If he is the first violin he must fiddle for life; he must not remember that he is a fine fourth bagpipe, a fair fifteenth billiard-cue, a foil, a fountain-pen, a hand at whist, a gun, and an image of God.
('What's Wrong with the World.')

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who can say?

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Who can say that
life's bitterest nightmares are not
but its sweetest dreams
that life's darkest nights are not but
its brightest horizons
viewed as through a photo
Who can say that
the heart of most lives is not but
a series of
made to justify one
inescapable past
a mosaic of tiles
aligned by all means
with one
primordial, now nonnegotiable,
on the path of life?
Who can say that
this step,
and the next,
and then the next,
are not just
premeditated shadows
of a stance,
even a happenstance,
in resolute retrospect,
as a wise and lasting
Who can say when
looking at life through windows
stained with a beautiful dream
and looking at life through a hallowed photo-negative
from the past

And who can say that
pinpointing the past's one submerged anchor,
the one ever-sinking,
is not the key
to unlock
the secret
of each present moment?
Who can not see that
everything following
that one inalterable footprint
in our past
is but one complex maneuver to
justify its placement
in stone?
Who may not find
in the awareness of a granite past
the first lesson in unraveling
the intricate
yet monomaniacal
we call
daily life?
Who will fail
to see that long knot
of forward leaps
and backward staggering
is but one
to lionize,
or at least
to exonerate,
the fabric out which
it is spun
and to glorify,
or at least to shroud,
the hook
on which it sways?
and humiliated
by constantly revising our lives,
we may
begin devising our lives
based on a shrouded image
we choose to call self-respect.
Self-respected self-respect.

Our freedom,
and terrors
are but the images
that best align with,
and brighten,
that smoky negative image
we call regret.
The ego is
is but that image
projected in reverse
from the past into the future,
moment by moment,
frame by flickering frame.
We choose to play on a large, enduring scale
-- on the big screen of life --
the role, the roll,
which the microcosm of a
cast for us.
What the moving image reveals is
is the dual error
of confusing being good
with having a good life
in turn,
having a good life
with making good on every part of our lives.
Goodness by wholesale,
virtue by volume,
integrity by uniformity,
morality in monochrome.
and fragile
as chrome
on the polychrome soul
Seated in the dark
theater of our souls,
we become
hypnotized by the images
of a past that
that we insist should have a better,
more explicable
in our lives.
a point of regret,
or even of
insignificant circumstance,
is transmuted
into a matter of principle,
well, then, then
even a skipping record
a recorded skipping over
can be called melodious
and even
and even vice
can be labeled as goodness.
For what really counts
under this baffling
baffling spell
is authenticity
and consistency,
as long as they apply to one's self
like the one-sided beauty of a blade
in every one else's self.
The magical error is
is rectified by remembering that
that regret is
is sometimes a healthy purgative,
a means of liberation
from what too easily becomes
a hegemonic,
of sheer will
once upon a time.

We are,
most of us,
to explain,
-- or, then again,
to dilute
and annihilate --
we no longer have a choice
but to make our own.
It only takes one
of a certain intoxicating quality,
in a certain fertile time,
at a precisely crippling angle,
to set in motion
the remainder
of a life,
whereupon one is
is thenceforth committed
with blind ambition
to prove,
to prove to one's self
as much as to others,
how his life is not
is not explained by,
not subject to,
a past
a past decision,
but rather is
is committed
to reconstituting it,
in clever hindsight,
as one's foresight all along.
May it not be that
from our most mundane scrabbling
to our most valiant achievements,
we are in fact simply
simply trying to look
ourselves in the mirror
with a lens
that finally unscrambles
the image
we bent into a certain shape
some time before,
some because-and-thus ago?
gazing into this mirror,
who can regard any action
as empty
and meaningless
when it is bursting
with the desire to explain itself,
if not the whole world,
at least a whole life,
in light of an irrevocable shift
in the winds that we chose to follow
long ago?
But oh me,
who can see in any human
but a hollow, dessicated
corpse of freedom,
when we realize that
every moment is vampirized
by the haunting
awareness that you are
what you are,
you do
what you do,
you reject
what you reject, simply
simply in order not to retrace your way
and not to have to replace that incorrigible,

The sense we make
of our lives may not
in fact make sense,
given the sometimes arbitrary bases
it tries to build from, but making sense
of our selves
-- predicating our purpose
on our predicaments --
is unavoidable.
One may either direct life
a pristine,
but indefinitely delayed,
goal . . .
or lead it out,
like a rope
into the briny depths
of mortality,
as consistently
and with as much decorum
as possible
from a starting point one feels
one feels obliged to make
one's own.
At some point, a
or even a failure to
takes on disproportionate significance
in the story
of our lives, and
every page
after that
cannot but be embossed
with the same theme,
the same image,
if only that
that we can read
our life as one,
coherent, progressive tale.
Pick your graven plate,
and press, then,
with care.

No Panes, New Gains

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[Here's a ditty I came up with while walking to the office to sign in and then during my first period of invigilating. It's a 3/4 blues rock with some "rising action".]

It frees the ice in my heart
to know you spurned the burn of my love
because it made you cool
to freeze the fire of my love

I know it makes you happy
I'let my love for you go
Because it made you weepy*
I couldn't lose myself in the flow

When two loves collide
but along divergent planes
they only form a shattered X…
A spot marked in vain
a crisscross of dying whistles…
and sullen, empty trains

No more coal in the oven
only coal heap'd'on the floor
No more heat for the hearth
Only ancient** dust in the door

The tread I left on you
was the tread you left on me
The riddle you became to me
became a last crusade for me
My vanguard swept off by*** your rearguard
And my standard on high a lingering shame
When I outflanked all your bluffing****
You blew a trumpet in retreat…
the end of the game…
the end…

When two loves collide
but along divergent planes
they only form a shattered X…
A spot marked in vain
A crisscross of dying whistles…
and sullen, empty trains
barren, hollow trains

No more ink in the ink jar
Only a line left on the page
No more sugar for the coffee
Only hulking thirst 'neath the bed, unassuaged

When two will-be's divide
out along diverging planes
The only glass that kept you warm
Missing, broken, shattered, shattered, broken, missing panes
With no more losses left to hide
it's time to seed those past pains
it's time to harvest all new gains
it's time to put in bright new panes

* sad; gloomy
** long-still; unmoved; hermetic
*** swallowed by; became
**** gambits; parries

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wisdom from… [26 Feb 08]

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Our Lord Jesus Christ nourishes us for eternal life both by his commands, which teach us how to live holy lives, and by the eucharist. He in himself therefore is truly the divine, life-giving manna. Anyone who eats it will be exempt from corruption and will escape death, unlike those who ate the material manna. That type had no power to save, but was merely an imitation of the reality.

God sent down manna like rain from above, and ordered everyone to gather as much as necessary, those who shared a tent gathering together if they wished. Gather it, each of you, he said, with those who share your tent. Let none of it be left over till the morning. That is to say, we must fill ourselves with the divine teaching of the gospel.

Christ indeed gives us his grace in equal measure, whether we are great or small, and bestows life-giving food on all alike. He wishes the stronger among us to gather for the others, working on behalf of their sisters and brothers, lending them their labor so that all may share in the heavenly gifts.
(Glaphororum in Exodum 2, 3: PG 69, 456-457.)

Patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril was a brilliant theologian who combatted the Arian and Nestorian heresies. Cyril presided at the Council of Ephesus in 431 where Mary's title as Mother of God was solemnly recognized.

ST AUGUSTINE: True Fasting

Your fast would be rejected if you were immoderately severe toward your servant. Will it be approved if you fail to recognize your brother or sister? I am not asking what food you abstain from, but what you love. Do you love justice? Well, then, let your justice be seen.
-- The Value of Fasting 5, 6-7

Prayer. O Lord, you will increase your gifts more and more in me, so that set free from all concupiscence, my soul may follow me to you.
-- Confessions 10, 30

ST FRANCIS DE SALES: The Spirit of the Divine Spouse

He who goes to Holy Communion according to the spirit of the Divine Spouse annihilates himself and says to the Lord, "Annihilate me, O Lord, and convert me into Yourself!" There is nothing in this world over which we have more control than food which we consume for our conservation. Well, Jesus Christ attained this excess of love: He made Himself our food! But what do we have to do to make full use of what He has done? Let Him possess us, let Him masticate us, let Him eat us and dispose us to do exactly what He wants.
(Letters 1529; O. XVIII, p. 400)


IT is neither blood nor rain that has made England, but hope––the thing all those dead men have desired. France was not France because she was made to be by the skulls of the Celts or by the sun of Gaul. France was France because she chose.
('George Bernard Shaw.')

[I suspect Chesterton had in mind a rebuttal of the claim that climate and diet give a people its ethnic "genius", a claim I have read in Nietzsche's works, as when he said the preponderance of rice and grains in India induced pantheism, indifferentism, and fatalism in them, whereas a greater diet of meat made the Europeans more winsomely barbaric, cunning, and tribal. I side with Chesterton in the matter.]

Not a Man, Said the Man

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[This is a song I came up with last night after dropping someone off at the bus station. What spurred me to write is, on the one hand, a friend's claim that advancing my life in a certain way would "help me", and, on the other hand, the awareness that this friend has advanced that way… and yet does no better than I do in practical matters the advancement allegedly improve.

It is a Jim Croce, Leonard Cohen type lilting folk song, with 1/2 meter.]

I'm not a lonely man
Said the lonely man
with a phone clutched on his knee
I'm not an angry man
said the angry man
with a hammer in his hand

And we aren't who we are
if we say we aren't
until we see what others see
And we aren't who we are
if we say we aren't
until we see what others see

I'm not a crazy man
said the crazy man
with a squeegee up his sleeve
I'm not a selfish man
said the selfish man
with himself only in his sights

And we aren't who we are
if we say we aren't
until we see what others see
And we aren't who we are
if we say we aren't
until we see what others see

I'm not a greedy man
said the greedy man
with a scalpel in your eye
No, I'm not a prideful man
assured the snide little man
to himself one more time

And we aren't who we are
if we say we aren't
until we see what others see
And we aren't who we are
if we say we aren't
until we see what others see

In the crosshairs of that light
We can stand or again, again take flight
In the shadow of that glory
We can cower or sing, and sing a new story

Methinks he protests too much
But he thinks he keeps his cool
She says he insists too much
but he says it's just heart on his sleeve

Yes, we are who we are
though we say we aren't
cuz we can't see what others see
Yes, we are who we are
though we say we aren't
cuz we can't see what others see

I'm not a dying man
said the ashen man
as he faded into black
I'm not a righteous man
said the righteous man
in the darkness on his knees
I'm not a giving man
said the empty man
with himself in your veins

You're not a you tell me man
I told you, You Tell Me Man
Because I see what you can't see
I'm not a I tell you man
You hear me well, man
Because my nose is unseen to me
We're not a truthful bunch
That's what the tree reveals
Cuz in gift we are true, only

At the hem of the world's worst…

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As the hem of Christ's cloak, the Church ought to be known: draggéd and ragged in the dirt, unseen except by the lowest eyes. Unseen also, of course, by eyes intent on the heads of those with the lowest eyes, those high eyes intent on keeping their own heads high above such ragged rabble. Every effort to drag the church's "hemline" above the dirt in which Christ calls her, is an attempt to rend from Him Christ's royal robe, which his killers did before crucifying Him.

Of dust we are made and by water we are remade. Pouring the two elements together, we find the Church is made of mud men. And we all know mud men can only be strong for the weak by standing hours in the light of the sun. Yet we also know that mud men can only be soft for the dissolution of their muddy egos by soaking hours in the waters of new life. The supple humility of mud is what God makes of man. Mud being a substance both as low as the dirt and as high as sculpture, it is the medium in which sin may be washed away and virtue may be sculpted in.

If the poor will always be with us, we must always be with the poor. We are privileged to be the mere mud-splattered hem of Christ as He strides through the vanity fair of this life. We are privileged to be ground into the mud of the oppressed and grabbed by the hands of the sick. For only by being so pressed and grabbed do we know we are closely wrapped around the body of Christ. The pruning and shearing He does in the fabric of our life is His means of tailoring us into His own image and embrace. The cut go deep and the stitching can be unrelenting, but out of it we emerge immortal mud men.

Look out…

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We look out
from the portholes
of our berth
by fingertips
and by our fingertips
we hang
from the gunwales of existence
yet so mortally quickly
in the sea
in the sea
we look out
from our berth
and see a sea
of lives
we could
that we could lead
save for
the fact that
we can't lead
a life
that is not
our own
leaden, leavened life
squinting to see
and when
and how
we can fit
into the same life
whose bigness
makes it smaller
as a mountain
shrinks in space
spacing, straining the eye
anywhere but beyond
the humbling, crumbling confines
of our inner mountain
poring over the porthole
to see
whether our life is
too small
or too large
but our eyes get portholed
small and unmoving and rusted
never clear unless scoured
never opened unless broken
Sealed open
like blind buttons
in a dark silent closet
Blind from glimmers
of the who we should be
or whose we should be
and how
how we should ought to best be
seeing how
we think others do be
Desiring what he's got
because he's got
what we ought maybe probably should desire
to get
Wasting time
with forehead clutched minutes
of Amiwastingtime?s
Pondering the degree
of our degrees
and the grades
of our fellow grads
and the depth
of our low-priced shallowness
Never realizing that if
if we were meant to live the life
we weren't living
we wouldn't be living
the life we were meant to live

Something to live for…

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ERNIUS: Gosh, it looks like most of the Oscars went to European actors this year.

BERTUS: Well, we've got to give the Europeans something to live for.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wisdom from… [25 Feb 08]

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ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (185–253): God's way is an ascent

We might suppose a path pointed out by God would be a smooth and pleasant one, free of obstacles and requiring no effort from the traveler, but in fact God's way is an ascent, a tortuous and rugged climb. There can be no downhill road to virtue—it is uphill all the way, and the path is narrow and arduous. Listen also to the Lord's warning in the gospel: The way that leads to life, he says, is narrow and hard. Notice how close the agreement is between the gospel and the law. In the law the way of virtue is shown to be a tortuous climb; the gospels speak of the way that leads to life as narrow and hard. Is it not obvious then, even to the blind, that the law and the gospels were both written by one and the same Spirit?

And so the road they followed was a winding ascent, an ascent surmounted by a beacon. The ascent refers to works and the beacon to faith, so that we can see the great difficulty and laborious effort involved in both faith and works. Many are the temptations we shall meet and many the obstacles to faith that lie in store for us in our desire to pursue the things of God.
(Hom. in Exodo 5, 3-4: Edit. Maurist. 2, 145-146.)

Origen became head of the catechetical school of Alexandria and devoted his life to the study of scripture, leaving behind voluminous scriptural commentaries and syntheses, mostly dominated by the analogical exegesis.

ST AUGUSTINE: Temptations out of the Past

Lord, you command me to be continent. You have commanded me to abstain from concubinage, and in place of marriage itself––which you permit––you have counseled something better.

Since you granted this to me, it has been fulfilled even before I became a dispenser of your sacrament. Yet, in my memory, of which I have said many things, there still live images of such things as my former habits implanted there.
-- Confessions 10, 30

Prayer. Your hand, O God Almightly, is able to heal all the infirmities of my soul.
-- Confessions 10, 30


It is a difficult thing to have an exact idea of one's goal, but it is likewise true that all of us must perfectly pinpoint the virtue we are aiming to acquire. However, if we cannot do this, we must not lose courage or get upset; we must get as close to the goal as possible, because even the saints did not succeed in doing any more than that. Only Our Lord and the virgin most holy fully succeeded.
(Spiritual Conferences IV; O. VI, pp. 59-60)


NOTHING is important except the fate of the soul; and literature is only redeemed from an utter triviality, surpassing that of naughts and crosses, by the fact that it describes not the world around us, or the things on the retina of the eye, or the enormous irrelevancy of encyclopaedias, but some condition to which the human spirit can come.
(Introduction to ' The Old Curiosity Shop.')

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wisdom from… [20 & 21 Feb]

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ST AUGUSTINE (354–430): Crucify ourselves

We are soon to celebrate the passion of our crucified Lord. It is therefore in keeping with our commitment to him that we should crucify ourselves by restraining the desires of the flesh. As the apostle says: You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all your self-indulgent passions and desires. Such is the cross upon which we Christians must continually hang, since our whole lives are beset by trials and temptations. Not for us, as long as we live, to be rid of those nails we read of in the psalm: Pierce my flesh with the nails of your fear.

Flesh means the desires of our lower nature; nails, the demands of God's justice and holiness. With these the fear of the Lord pierces our flesh and fastens us to the cross as an acceptable sacrifice to him. In a similar passage the apostle Paul appeals to us by the mercy of God to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
(Sermon 205, 1.)

As bishop of Hippo, Augustine became the most influential person of the Western Church and left many writings to posterity, ultimately being honored as the "Doctor of Grace".

ST PETER DAMIAN (1007–1072): The communion of saints

If those who believe in Christ are one, then through the mystery of the [eucharistic] sacrament the entire body is present where bodily eyes see but a single member. Solitude prevents no one from speaking in the plural; nor is it inappropriate for the multitude of believers to speak in the singular, for through the power of the Holy Spirit, who is present in each and fills all, it is clear that the solitude is full of people and the multitude forms a unity.

Our holy Fathers regarded this intimate relationship and communion of believers in Christ as so certain that they included it in the creed stating the Catholic faith, and commanded us frequently to call it to mind along with the other basic elements of Christian belief. For immediately after we say: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Church," we add: "the communion of saints." Thus in the very act by which we bear witness to the God in whom we believe, we also affirm the communion that marks the Church which is one with him. For this communion of saints in the unity of faith is such that, because they believe in one God, are reborn in one baptism, and are strengthened by the one Holy Spirit, they are admitted, through the grace of adoption, into the one everlasting life.
(Sermo 9 de passione 2: PL 54, 343.)

As bishop of Ostia, Peter worked closely with eight popes as diplomat and legate. The number and range of his writings was considerable.


Hold Fast to the Love of God

Real love of God will not be in you if the love of the world prevails in you. Hold fast rather to the love of God, so that as God is eternal you too will live forever. For each of us is such as our love is. Do you love the world? Then you will be the earth. Do you love God? What shall I say? That you will be a god? I dare not say this on my own authority, and so let us hear Holy Scripture: "I have said: you are gods and all of you children of the Most High."
-- Sermon on John 2, 8

[We become what we worship. At the center of man's heart is not actually a throne for his own ego, but rather an empty throne for something, anything, perceivably higher than himself to which he may commit himself. The heart of man, as Calvin said, is a factory of idols. Or, as Bob Dylan put it, "You gotta serve somebody." It is true enough, of course, that one of our idols may be an image we project of ourselves, a superego to which we wish we could commit our normal ego, but this only reinforces the fact that there is an intrinsic gap between man's identity and his "teleological" submission to various idols. Self-mortification is, then, largely a matter of destroying the idols that clutter our hearts and lives. Humility is the ax that obliterates the ego of our own "better self" fabricated apart from the cruciform pattern of Christ Himself.

In any event here is a nice look at
Dylan's influence in gospel music…based on the influence of the Gospel in Dylan.]

Prayer. Lord, teach me what I should teach, teach me what I should hold fast.
-- Letter 166, 10

Let the Better Love Take Over

There are two loves, the love of God and the love of the world. If the love of the world takes possession of you, there is no way for the love of God to enter into you. Let the love of the world take the second place, and let the love of God dwell in you. Let the better love take over.
-- Sermon on 1 John 2, 8

Prayer. O to love! to go and be lost to self! to reach God!
-- Sermon 159, 8


"Happy the man who knows how to control zeal," says Saint Ambrose. Saint Bernard adds, "the devil will easily delude you if you neglect knowledge. Therefore, let your zeal be inflamed with charity, adorned with knowledge and established in constancy." True zeal is the child of charity, since it is its ardor. Therefore, like charity, it is patient and kind. It is without quarrelling, without hatred, without envy; it rejoices in the truth, The ardor of true zeal is like the hunter's: diligent, careful, active industrious, eager in pursuit, but without passion, anger, bad temper or vexation. Otherwise, hunting would not be such a popular sport. In like manner, the ardor of zeal must be stable, industrious, untiring and likeable. Completely different is false zeal: it is turbulent, troubled, insolent, arrogant, choleric, impetuous and unstable.
(T.L.G. Book 10, Ch. 16, pp. 189-190)

[As St. James says, "Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:13–18)]

The Holy Spirit gives us His advice through the words of the prince of the apostles, "Take great care to use your time well and make sure of your vocation through good works." [cf. 2 Pt 1:10] This warning must make us live in great fear and humility in whatever state we find ourselves, but at the same time we must raise our heart to the divine Goodness invoking His grace and His help and keeping our affection fixed on Him by means of frequent and fervent ejaculations.
(Sermons 58; O.X, pp. 259-260)


NOW the reason why our fathers did not make marriage, in the middle-aged and static sense, the subject of their plays was a very simple one; it was that a play is a very bad place for discussing that topic. You cannot easily make a good drama out of the success or failure of a marriage, just as you could not make a good drama out of the growth of an oak-tree or the decay of an empire. As Polonius very reasonably observed, it is too long. A happy love-affair will make a drama simply because it is dramatic; it depends on an ultimate yes or no. But a happy marriage is not dramatic; perhaps it would be less happy if it were. The essence of a romantic heroine is that she asks herself an intense question; but the essence of a sensible wife is that she is much too sensible to ask herself any questions at all. All the things that make monogamy a success are in their nature undramatic things, the silent growth of an instinctive confidence, the common wounds and victories, the accumulation of customs, the rich maturing of old jokes. Sane marriage is an untheatrical thing; it is therefore not surprising that most modern dramatists have devoted themselves to insane marriage.
('George Bernard Shaw.')

IF Americans can be divorced for 'incompatibility of temper,' I cannot conceive why they are not all divorced. I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.
('What's Wrong with the World.')

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Points of Articulation

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[This song's melody is 4/4 and is akin to a blend of Pearl Jam's "Sometimes" and Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark", with David Bowie vocals.
The first image that inspired this song is a wooden artist model. I also envision toy figures.

Other images that I draw from are 3-D graphing and engineering schematics.

I am also trying to indicate the linguistic sense of articulation.]

I enter the workshop
Turn on the lamp
I study the figures in dust
Clean off the table
and steady my hands
I've come to trace
the points of her articulation
the points of her articulation
I wanna see the points of her articulation
the points, the points of her articulation
the points of her articulation
the art of articulation
I wanna see her hinges
that creak a little when she twinges
Unveil the bearings
she rolls around when she's staring
I wanna find the tracks
that glisten beneath the cracks
at the points of her articulation
the points of her articulation
I wanna see the points of her articulation
Where she is glued
after she's unglued
The tab A that's in slot B
The nuts and bolts that hold her happy
I wanna find the creases
under the wrapper, when she releases*
the points of her articulation
the points, the points of her articulation

I need to know the points of her articulation
I need to know the vectors
I need to know the limits
I need to try the pulleys
I need to test the tension
I've got to know the points of her articulation
I know my own
points of articulation
But built together as one flesh
How will they mesh?
Or will they clash?
How will they groove?
Or just not move?
Who will I be
along the points of her articulation?
What will she change
in the points of my articulation?
Is this elation only covert strangulation?
Is the distance
only the first step o' the dance?
I wanna see the points of your articulation
the points, the points of your articulation
I wanna master the art of articulation
Gimme me the blueprint behind your articulation
Show me the key
so I know where I stand on the map
Explain the scale
so I see how I fit, into the tale
Guide me in the shadows**
so I can find true north
Give me a compass
so I know the journey is
Hand in hand,
I wanna carve our points of articulation
Because I'm in love
with the points of your articulation
the points, the points of your articulation
the art of your articulations

* alternate line: under the facade, when it ceases
** alternate line: Point out the shadows, so I know true north

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Buddhist kindergartens…

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In the local Buddhist kindergarten, it was art day.

The teacher handed out blank sheets of paper and told the students to draw whatever they wanted.

Some kids drew a horsey, some drew a rainbow, others drew cats and tigers and cars.

But she noticed one boy was only sitting there, drawing nothing.*

She asked, "Why haven't you drawn anything?"

He answered, "I have drawn what I want."

She reached into her desk drawer and handed him his diploma. He stood and left the room.

When other students noticed his absence, they asked where had gone.

"Will he be back soon?"

"Oh, of course," answered the teacher, "he is bound to come back again."

(The non-metaphysical version of this story is actually a joke, wherein the child's "nothing" is "a cow and some grass"… the cows having eaten all the grass and then, of course, moved on to a different pasture off the page.)


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Need is the most overused word in any language.

––Elliam Fakespeare

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wisdom from… [19 Feb]

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IRENAEUS OF LYONS (140–200): The teachings of God

To preserve men and women from sin and from being unworthy of himself God commanded them to love him and taught them to be just in their dealings with other people. By the Ten Commandments he prepared them to live in friendship with himself and in harmony with one another. This was simply for their own good and it was all God asked of them. It conferred great glory on them and gave them the friendship with God they had lacked, but it did not benefit God, for he had no need of their love. The need was all on their side: they needed the glory of God and could obtain it only by serving him. This is why Moses said to the people: Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him. In this your life consists.

And so God has abolished the laws which were given as a sign of their servitude but has amplified the natural laws which are of universal application and befit people who are free. This he has done in his generosity by freely making us his children, so that we might know him as our Father, love him with our whole heart, and unswervingly follow his Word.
(Adversus Haer. 4, 16, 2-5: SC 100, 564-572.)

A bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus wrote a monumental work Against the Heresies. At the heart of his theology is a vision of the unity and the the recapitulation of all things in Christ.

ST AUGUSTINE: Maintaining Sound Doctrine

Sound doctrine must be maintained. We must never judge in arrogant haughtiness persons who do not embrace our mode of life. We must never say that it is no use for them to live chastely in the married state, to direct their houses and families in a Christian way, or to heap up for themselves heavenly treasures by their acts of mercy.
-- Letter 157, 39

Prayer. Lord, you get angry but remain calm.
-- Confessions 1, 4

ST FRANCIS DE SALES: Interior conversion

An interior conversion, a change for the better in one's life, is an indication of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Saint John the Baptist was sanctified in the womb of his mother; likewise, those who receive the Holy Spirit are transformed. So when you want to know if you have received the Spirit, keep a clear watch on your works; they will answer the question accurately.
(Sermons 47; O. X, p. 72)


THERE are two rooted spiritual realities out of which grow all kinds of democratic conception or sentiment of human equality. There are two things in which all men are manifestly and unmistakably equal. They are not equally clever or equally muscular or equally fat, as the sages of the modern reaction (with piercing insight) perceive. But this is a spiritual certainty, that all men are tragic. And this, again, is an equally sublime spiritual certainty, that all men are comic. No special and private sorrow can be so dreadful as the fact of having to die. And no freak or deformity can be so funny as the mere fact of having two legs. Every man is important if he loses his life; and every man is funny if he loses his hat, and has to run after it. And the universal test everywhere of whether a thing is popular, of the people, is whether it employs vigorously these extremes of the tragic and the comic.
('Charles Dickens.')

Monday, February 18, 2008

Be Protestant?

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Get less pope with your hope!

I try to be unpartisan in my partisanship. Yuk yuk yuk.

(In response to a quasi-gauntlet thrown down under my little Catholic bumper sticker.)

Wierd and strnage…

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Dropping guests off at the bus station last night, I drove around the block and, to my right, I saw two scooters in flames. One had ignited the seat of the scooter on its right. I, of course, had to park and get some shots, for pseudo-journalistic purposes, but also at a fundamental level to satisfy the ancient masculine love for fire! A man from the bus station ran by me to get some help and a taxi was honking to raise an alarm. I circled back around the block for a second look but then the one-way road was blocked by a honking squad car. I tried to back up but behind me was a taxi, behind which was a fast approaching, howling am-boo-lans, so then I just drove around the squad car to make my exit. By now ten scooters were engulfed in flames as smoke poured out from the overhanging building and glass sparkled on the street. The last thing I sensed was a wave of heat into the windows and the hissing, burping sound of what I think was a gas tank also about to make its exit. Wierd and strnage.

Then as I was driving home this evening, I was watching the back of a sedan ahead of me and then something caught my eye. Lo, a small round object tumbling under the axle, like a football with legs! My eyes widened a moment and suddenly the football stopped rolling and ran, yelping, from the car, which kept trundling into the concrete horizon. The puppy veered left to a nearby house but by the time I turned around to check on it, I couldn't find it. I assume it ran into the abandoned hovel by the road, or it was taken in by its owner. Wierd and strnage.

A little farther up the road I stopped on the side of a back road I take to and from work. I am excited to stretch my legs with my new camera, a Canon EOS 400D. I dismounted but a moment later a car was coming up the road behind me, so I pushed my motorcycle a little more off the road, pressing it, I discovered five minutes later, onto my computer bag, whereupon the outer flap and its plastic seam melted and curled up to their owner's great surprise!

Be Catholic…

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Get more Bible for your baptism!

Wisdom from… [17 & 18 Feb]

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POPE ST LEO (400–461): Lent: a special time of renewal

The paschal celebration is especially characterized by the rejoicing of the whole Church in the forgiveness of sins. This forgiveness is given not only to those then reborn in holy baptism but also to those already numbered among God's adopted children.

Although we receive new life in the first place by our rebirth in baptism, we all need a daily renewal to make up for the shortcomings of our mortal nature, and no matter how much progress we have made, every one of us is called to greater holiness. We should therefore make a real effort not to let the day of our redemption find us still falling into the same old sins.

What the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater zeal and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be observed not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.
(Sermo 6 de Quadragesima 1-2: PL 54, 286)

As bishop of Rome, St. Leo left many letters and sermons to attest to his teaching and preaching.

ST MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR (580–662): God's desire for our salvation

God's will is to save us, and nothing pleases him more than our coming back to him with true repentance. The heralds of truth and the ministers of divine grace have told us this from the beginning, repeating it in every age. Indeed, God's desire for our salvation is the primary and preeminent sign of his infinite goodness, and it was precisely in order to show that there is nothing closer to God's heart that the divine Word of God the Father, with untold condescension, lived among us in the flesh, and that he died, suffered, and said all that was necessary to reconcile us to God the Father when we were at enmity with him, and to restore us to the life of blessedness from which we had been exiled. He healed our physical infirmities by miracles; he freed us from our sins, many and grievous as they were, by suffering and dying, taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was. He also taught us in many different ways that we should wish to imitate him by our own kindness and genuine love for one another.
(Ep. 11: PG 91, 454-455.)

Maximus, a Greek theologian and ascetic, was a monk of the monastery of Chrysopolis and also a prolific writer who possessed an outstanding synthesizing faculty. His right hand and tongue were cut off to prevent him from further defending Christological orthodoxy and he died in exile.


You Approached Me

O eternal Truth and true Love and beloved Eternity: you are my God, and for you do I sigh night and day. When I first began to know you, you lifted me up that I might see that there was something to be seen--but I was as yet not able to see it. Then you drove back the weakness of my sight, shining upon me most powerfully, and I shook with love and fear.
-- Confessions 7, 10

Prayer. Lord, you first sought me out and brought me back on your shoulder.
-- Commentary on Psalm 69, 6

The Inner Light

I entered into my inmost self with you, Lord, as my guide; and this I was able to do because you were my helper. I entered in and saw with the eye of my soul, the unchangeable Light, very different from earthly lights.

It was above my mind but not the way oil is above water or heaven above the earth. It was superior because it made me, and I inferior because I was made by it. Those who know the truth know this light, and those who know it know eternity: it is charity that knows it.
-- Confessions 7, 10

Prayer. Lord, you are the light of my heart and the bread in the mouth of my soul.
-- Confessions 1, 13


Take for yourself the maxim of the apostle, "May I never boast of anything but the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!" [Gal 6:14] Put Jesus crucified in your heart, and all the crosses of this world will seem to be roses. Those who have felt the punctures of the crown of thorns of the Savior Who is our Head will in no way feel any other wounds.
(Letters 1420; O. XVIII, p. 221)

Our Savior has instituted the most august sacrament of the Eucharist, which really contains His flesh and blood, so that whoever eats of it shall live forever. Therefore, whoever turns to it frequently and devoutly builds up his soul's health in such a way that is is almost impossible for him to be poisoned by evil infection of any kind. We cannot be nourished by this flesh of life and still suffer death within us. Just as the first man and woman dwelling in the earthly paradise might have avoided bodily death by the power of that living fruit which God had planted in it, so also can we avoid spiritual death by virtue of this sacrament of life. Tender fruits such as cherries, apricots and strawberries are subject to subject to decay, yet they are easily preserved for a whole year with sugar or honey. Is there any wonder then, that our heart, no matter how frail and weak, is preserved from the corruption of sin when sweetened by the incorruptible flesh and blood of the Son of God?
(INT. Part II, Ch. 20; O. III, p. 116)


SOME people do not like the word 'dogma.' Fortunately they are free, and there is an alternative for them. There are two things, and two things only, for the human mind––a dogma and a prejudice. The Middle Ages were a rational epoch, an age of doctrine. Our age is, at its best, a poetical epoch, an age of prejudice. A doctrine is a definite point; a prejudice is a direction. That an ox may be eaten, while a man should not be eaten, is a doctrine. That as little as possible of anything should be eaten is a prejudice; which is also sometimes called an ideal.
('What's Wrong with the World.')

THERE are some people who state that the exterior, sex, or physique of another person is indifferent to them, that they care only for the communion of mind with mind; but these people need not detain us. There are some statements that no one ever thinks of believing, however often they are made.
('The Defendant.')

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The trouble with simulacra…

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The trouble with simulacra is that they all too quickly lose the simul- sense of their origins. What is meant to be a mere derivative copy, turns into an independent mutation. What is meant to be a stale ripoff, becomes its own vibrant riptide. What is meant to be a universal clone, strikes roots in the local soil and casts its own local seeds. The simultaneity of simulacra is dispersed by the manifold complexity of geography and local tastes. This is why even the cheapest simulacra can become hallowed antiques. They were once a Many among a larger Many, but over time, this Many becomes a small one––a boy's cherished toy, a mother's design keystone––and perhaps in time, entangled in the twists and turns of history, it become a big One, an icon of a past age, or a harbinger of an old age made new again. Sheer clones have a way of shedding the first two letters and insisting on being independent ones.

The above is the inspiration for the story I came up with today, tentatively titled "Copied Right Copyright". It deals with the problem of a literary figment being used as the basis for an, ultimately autonomous, AI program, which, in turn, insists its past quotes and actions are not the property of the author who wrote them before the AI unit became "sentient." Sort of like a CD compilation growing legs and suing the bands claim rights to the tracks that constitute its own "identity". The songs are not the bands' property, since they are in fact the very body of the litigious CD. Whatever hold the bands had on the songs, is lost when the songs become something larger than a mere product, namely, the heart and liver an gonads and eyes of sentient "beinglings" (my neologism for quasi-beings as haphazardly dreamt of by AI gurus…or crafted as the "friends" of a J.F. Sebastian.

For the long-haulers here at FCA, this train of thought should ring a bell over my story "From the Forest Itself". The question that story addresses––indeed, forced me to grapple with––is at what point a work of art or literature ceases to be the creator's property, and becomes its own autonomous entity, with its own "voice" and "points of articulation". I suppose the matter also relates to the problem of donated tissue for cloning purposes. Can one have a copyright on a person's genes, regardless which came first in time (the genes or the person cloned "around" them)?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wisdom from… [14, 15, 16 Feb]

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ST LEO THE GREAT (400–461): Almsgiving

There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all believers may be of equal value even when their means are not. Nothing can ever so obstruct the love we owe both God and other people as to prevent our having a good intention. The angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. The person who shows love and compassion to those in any kind of affliction is blessed not only with the virtue of charity but also with the gift of peace.

The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part. Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.
(Sermo 6 de Quadragesima 2: PL 54, 287.)

As bishop of Rome, Leo left many letters and sermons to attest to his teaching and preaching.

CLEMENT OF ROME (~101): Repentance

We have only to recall past generations to see that the Lord has always offered the opportunity of repentance to those willing to return to him. This was the burden of Noah's preaching, and all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed; they repented and their pleas for mercy placated God's anger and saved them, even though they were not of his chosen people.

The ministers of God's grace have all been inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak of repentance. The Lord of the universe himself has spoken of it with an oath. Thus, by his own almighty will, God has ratified his desire to give all his loved ones the chance to return to him. Let us bow then to that sublime and glorious will, throw ourselves on his mercy, and humbly beseech his goodness and compassion. No more energy must be wasted in the wrangling and jealousy that can only lead to death.
(First Letter to the Corinthians 7-9.12.19: Funk I, 71-73.)

Clement was bishop of Rome from 92 to 101. His letter to the Corinthians is the earliest Christian writing apart from the New Testament.

SIMON FIDATI DI CASCIA, OSA (1285–1348): Centering

While Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd because of the many miracles he performed and because of his gentle doctrine, he, the lover of solitude, again withdrew to a secluded place where, after being useful to his neighbor, he could freely return to prayer and contemplation.

It is a good, indeed necessary, thing for people who are much embattled to take refuge from the fray within themselves, to cultivate themselves, and in their innermost, care-filled hearts to fix their gaze on the divine realities and ask God for what is essential for the guidance and progress of all people. In this way they help with silent prayer those whom they have instructed in the faith, to give them the power to understand, so that the word of God may not fall on the empty air.
(De gestis Domini Salvatoris IV, 7.)

An Augustinian friar, Simon Fidati was one of the greatest preachers during his era, wrote a commentary on the gospel. His writings are steeped in scripture and rich in feeling.


The Inner Teacher

There is a Master within who teaches us. Christ is our Master, and his inspiration teaches us. Where his inspiration and his unction are lacking, it is in vain that words resound in our ears. As Paul the Apostle said: "I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." Therefore, whether we plant or whether we water by our words, we are nothing. It is God who gives the increase; his unction teaches you all things.
-- Sermon on 1 John 3, 13

Prayer. You, Lord, are the unfailing light, and from you I sought to know the existence, nature, and worth of all things, as I listened to your teaching and commandments.
-- Confessions 10, 40

The Lesson of Ashes

Will these ashes one day take on the form of beauty, be restored to life, restored to light? The bodies of all of us will in a few years be ashes. Yet a few years ago we were not even ashes! If God was able to create what did not exist, will He not be able to remake what once existed?
-- Sermon 361, 12

Prayer. Lord, you are never new and never old. Yet you give new life to all things.
-- Confessions 1, 4

God's Mercy Is Our Hope

Driven out of paradise by you and exiled in a distant land, I cannot return by myself unless you, O Lord, come to meet me in my wandering. My return is based on hope in your mercy during all of my earthly life. My only hope, the only source of confidence, and the only solid promise is your mercy.
-- Commentary on Psalm 24, 5

Prayer. My God, let me remember you with thanksgiving and proclaim your mercies to me.
-- Confessions 8, 1


Devotion is simply that spiritual agility and vivacity by which charity works in us or by aid of which we work quietly and lovingly. Just as it is the function of charity to enable us to observe all God's commandments in general and without exception, so it is the part of devotion to enable us to observe them more quickly and diligently. Hence a person who does not observe all God's commandments cannot be held to be either good or devout. To be good one must have charity, and to be devout, in addition to charity one must have great ardor and readiness in performing charitable actions.
(INT. Part I, Ch. 1; O. III, p. 15)

Our miseries and weaknesses must not scare us, because the Lord has seen much greater ones. His mercy does not reject the miserable but gives them His grace and raises them from the depths of baseness and abjection to His throne of glory. I would like to have a good hammer to blunt the keen desire of your spirit to progress in its virtue. So often have I told you that, in the spiritual life, we must walk in a very simple way. If you do well, thank and praise God; if you do something wrong, make an act of humility! I know quite well that you do not want to do the wrong thing on purpose, so consider the wrong things you do as the means to keep you humble.
(Letters 912; O. VI, p. 68)

Let us try sincerely, humbly and devoutly to acquire those little virtues our Savior has proposed as the goal of our care and labor. These are meekness, patience, mortification, humility, obedience, poverty, chastity, tenderness towards our neighbor, bearing with others' imperfections, diligence and holy fervor. Let us gladly leave the lofty virtues to lofty souls; we do not desire so high a rank in God's service, and we should be more than happy to serve Him in His kitchen or to be His lackeys, porters or chamberlains. While blessing God for the eminence of others, let us keep to our lower but simpler way. It is less distinguished but better suited to our littleness. If we conduct ourselves with humility and good faith, God will raise us up to heights that are surely great.
(INT. Part III, Ch. 2; O. III, p. 132)


THE revolt against vows has been carried in our day even to the extent of a revolt against the typical vow of marriage. It is most amusing to listen to the opponents of marriage on this subject. They appear to imagine that the ideal of constancy was a joke mysteriously imposed on mankind by the devil, instead of being as it is a yoke consistently imposed on all lovers by themselves. They have invented a phrase, a phrase that is a black v. white contradiction in two words -- 'free love' -- as if a lover ever had been or ever could be free. It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word. Modern sages offer to the lover with an ill-favoured grin the largest liberties and the fullest irresponsibility; but they do not respect him as the old Church respected him; they do not write his oath upon the heavens as the record of his highest moment. They give him every liberty except the liberty to sell his liberty, which is the only one that he wants.
('The Defendant')

LONDON is the largest of the bloated modern cities; London is the smokiest; London is the dirtiest; London is, if you will, the most sombre; London is, if you will, the most miserable. But London is certainly the most amusing and the most amused. You may prove that we have the most tragedy; the fact remains that we have the most comedy, that we have the most farce.
('All Things Considered')

OUR fathers had a plain sort of pity: if you will, a gross and coarse pity. They had their own sort of sentimentalism. They were quite willing to weep over Smike. But it certainly never occurred to them to weep over Squeers. No doubt they were often narrow and often visionary. No doubt they often looked at a political formula when they should have looked at an elemental fact. No doubt they were pedantic in some of their principles and clumsy in some of their solutions. No doubt, in short, they were all very wrong, and no doubt we are the people and wisdom shall die with us. But when they saw something that in their eyes, such as they were, really violated their morality, such as it was, then they did not cry 'Investigate!' They did not cry 'Educate!' They did not cry 'Improve!' They did not cry 'Evolve!' Like Nicholas Nickleby, they cried 'Stop!' And it did stop.
(Introduction to 'Nicholas Nickleby')

The Newton We Never Knew

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[This a the student-modified, then Elliot-remodified version of a script I did for Hong Wen's senior high drama contest, to be filmed for judging in March. It lacks elements of my first version, which I will include at the bottom as an appendix, and which I would like to incorporate into a larger 'real' version which I would ultimately like to offer to high schools and/or performance groups for, like, money.]

Hong Wen Senior High 2008 Drama Contest

The Newton We Never Knew

by Elliot Bougis

MARVIN, garbage man & time traveler
HECTOR, garbage truck driver
MILDRED, Newton's niece/maid

Isaac Newton was born on January 4, 1643 [OS: December 25, 1642] at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. At the time of Newton's birth, England had not adopted the latest papal calendar and therefore his date of birth was recorded as Christmas Day, December 25, 1642. Newton was born three months after the death of his father. Born prematurely, he was a small child…. As Newton became engrossed in his studies, his romance cooled with Miss Storer and she married someone else. It is said he kept a warm memory of this love, but Newton had no other recorded "sweet-hearts" and never married. … In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge. … In 1665, he discovered the generalized binomial theorem and began to develop a mathematical theory that would later become calculus. … The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (now known as the Principia) was published on 5 July 1687 with encouragement and financial help from Edmond Halley. In this work Newton stated the three universal laws of motion that were not to be improved upon for more than two hundred years.


The curtain is closed and the lights are dim as the NARRATOR speaks.

NARRATOR: Sir Isaac Newton is one of the most famous scientists of all time. He invented calculus and modern physics. He was a genius. But how did he become so smart? What was his secret to success? Keep watching and you will finally know the truth behind Isaac Newton's genius. You will know the truth about the Newton we never knew.



An ALIEN WORKER is standing on the wing of a spaceship, repairing something. He pulls a large cone-shaped tool out of his tool bag. He obviously does not know how to use it, so he keeps pressing buttons and turning knobs and shaking the machine without results. He makes noises, the machine makes noises. Suddenly, the ALIEN freezes and the machine is hoisted away quickly. The curtain falls.


The curtain opens. A large heap of garbage bags is at stage center. Suddenly, the tool from the alien worker falls into the pile of garbage.

MARVIN, a garbage man, enters from stage right. He is carrying a Styrofoam cutout of a small garbage truck. Another man, HECTOR, is visible in the driver seat (on the other side of the truck). He is in a baggy, dirty jumpsuit. The truck stops at the pile of garbage and he begins tossing bags "into" the truck (behind it to the back of the stage).

MARVIN: Hector, how did I end up as a garbage man? Is this why I left school?

HECTOR: Marvin, just quit complaining and let's get the garbage in the truck.

MARVIN: I just wish I could travel. See new places. Maybe Europe. England would be great!

HECTOR: Well, Marvin, maybe you can go back in time and live your life again. Garbage is your life now, buddy! Move it!

MARVIN: Very funny, Hector.

HECTOR leans back to sleep. After a few more bags, MARVIN finds the alien tool. He picks it up and begins looking at it. He starts doing the same motions and making the same sounds with it as the ALIEN did. The machine starts making noises as it did before.

HECTOR leans out the window and yells at MARVIN. MARVIN holds up the tool to show HECTOR his problem.

HECTOR: Marvin, let's go, faster! We can't stop time! Everyday I––

MARVIN and HECTOR freeze. The tool flies away stage right. MARVIN floats behind it off stage right. The curtain drops.


Scene 1

The curtain opens. At stage right is an apple tree. Unseen behind the tree is a ladder; MARVIN is waiting on the ladder behind the tree.

Sitting under the tree is ISAAC NEWTON. He is using a pen on a large writing tablet. His face looks very serious and frustrated.

NEWTON: What am I missing, what am I missing? There must be some secret I have missed. Gravity is too difficult to understand!

He scratches out his notes and rips the page off to throw it behind him.

Suddenly, the alien tool falls down onto the tree and it knocks an apple loose. The apple hits NEWTON's head. NEWTON does not see the tool (it is on the other side of the tree where he "can't" see it).

NEWTON: Ouch! I don't want any apples thank you, Mr. Tree!

NEWTON rubs his head and puts the apple in his pocket.

MARVIN makes painful, confused noises behind the tree.

NEWTON: Uhmm, excuse me, did you just say something, Mr. Tree.

MARVIN groans again and the tree shakes.

NEWTON: Okay, okay, thank you for the apple. I will eat an apple everyday!

MARVIN slowly puts his head through a hole in the tree (a piece of green fabric hanging on the tree).

MARVIN: Uhm, hello? Can you help me, please?

NEWTON: What! Who are you? You are not Mr. Tree!

MARVIN: Mr. Tree? No, no, I am Marvin. Marvin Highstreet. I am from America.

NEWTON: From where? America? Is that in India?

MARVIN: Uh, no, you're joking right? I am from the United States of America.

NEWTON: Well, it must be a very small place. I have never heard of it. That must be why your accent is so strange.

MARVIN: The USA was founded in 1776! Everyone has heard of the USA!

NEWTON: Excuse me, sir, but I think you have been in that tree too long. Did you say "in 1776"?

MARVIN: Yes, of course, 1776 is America's birthday.

NEWTON: Very funny, sir. But since this is only 1672, I know you are making a joke. I don't know anything about America but I do know what year it is!

MARVIN: Wait a minute. Now I know you are joking. We live in 2008, not 1672. Sorry to surprise you.

NEWTON: Sir, this is enough joking now. Tell me who you really are and then please go back home. I have to keep studying.

MARVIN: I told you, my name is Marvin Highstreet. I am a garbage man from Fort Mary, New York. I was born in 1976. Two hundred years after America broke away from England.

NEWTON: Broke away from England? … Well, Mr. Highstreet, my name is Isaac Newton. I am a scientist from western England and I was born in 1642. Now may I please get back to my work?

MARVIN: Right. You are Isaac Newton. I must be Albert Einstein.

NEWTON: Albert who? Is he a German author?

MARVIN: Wait a minute. You're not joking. You really are Isaac Newton. THE Isaac Newton!

NEWTON: Well, I am the only Isaac Newton that I know.

MARVIN: No wonder you're wearing those funny old clothes.

NEWTON: Old clothes? I beg your pardon, but I have worn this suit for only a few months. You really must be on your way. I must keep working.

MARVIN: I'm in England, aren't I? This is not a bad dream.

NEWTON: A dream? Of course not! This is England. Where else would we be?

MARVIN: And there are no airports here, right?

NEWTON: What is an airport?

MARVIN: Never mind. Ohhhh…

MARVIN begins walking back and forth, rubbing his head, making upset noises, talking to himself. NEWTON puts his writing pad under his arm and watches MARVIN. He walks to the other side of the tree and sees the alien tool on the ground.

MARVIN: It's this thing!

NEWTON: What thing? Are you all right? I think you need to come out of the sun.

MARVIN: I found this machine in the garbage.

NEWTON: Well if it is garbage why did you pick it up?

MARVIN: I thought it was an expensive computer––

NEWTON: A computer?

MARVIN: Uhhm, a machine. I thought I could sell it, make some money. But I didn't know how to use it. The last thing I remember is Hector yelling at me… and then I was in that tree.

NEWTON: Who is Hector? Oh, never mind that. You mean you did not climb into Mr. Tree, uh, I mean, into the tree? You say you fell into it?

MARVIN: I don't know. I just…woke up in the tree.

NEWTON pulls the apple from his jacket pocket.

NEWTON: And then this apple hit me. And then I heard you up there.

MARVIN: I think it will be harder than you thought for me to go home, Mr. Newton.

NEWTON: Well, you seem very upset. I think you should come back to my house for the night. You need rest. And you must explain your story to me from the beginning.

MARVIN and NEWTON exit stage right.

Scene 2

MARVIN and NEWTON are sitting in large chairs in a small library in NEWTON's house. A fireplace is at stage center. They are drinking tea. The alien tool is on a table between them. A clock behind MARVIN's chair shows it is almost midnight.

NEWTON: I still don't understand how this thing could possibly bring you all the way back to my time. And how did it move you all the way from… "America" to England?

MARVIN: Mr. Newton––

NEWTON: I told you, call me Isaac.

MARVIN: Well, uh, Isaac, you are much smarter than me. I am just a garbage man from…my own… home. If you don't understand this problem, how can I understand it?

NEWTON: I understand your worry. I simply can't imagine how you have moved through both space and time. It's like space and time are one thing.

MARVIN: Actually, I read in a magazine once that Einstein––

NEWTON: Einstein. That German writer, yes?

MARVIN: Uh, well, never mind his name. I'm just trying to say you have the right idea if you study about time and space together.

NEWTON (calls to his niece): Mildred! Mildred! … It's much too late to keep talking about this. You need sleep.

MARVIN: I don't need sleep. I need to go home!

NEWTON: Well, a hot bath and a good night of sleep will be all you can get now. Patience, Marvin. If God brought you here, I am sure He can bring you back home.

MILDRED enters from stage left.

MILDRED: Yes, Uncle, you called me?

NEWTON: Mildred, yes, please get a hot bath ready for Mr. Highstreet.

MARVIN: Hello, miss. My name is Marvin. Marvin Highstreet.

MILDRED: Very nice to meet you, sir.

MILDRED and MARVIN smile at each other for a moment longer but then look away shyly.

NEWTON: Mr. Highstreet has… traveled… a great distance and is very tired. Once you have the bath ready, show him his room for the night.

MILDRED: Yes, Uncle. Will Mr. Highstreet be staying with you for only one night?

MARVIN: Please, call me Marvin. Or Mr. Highstreet. I don't know. Whatever you want.

MARVIN and MILDRED smile at each other again and look away even more shyly.

NEWTON: Ah, well, that is a very good question, Mildred. Mr. Highstreet's travel plans are… complicated, and very hard to explain––so we should plan for him staying with us for some time longer.

MARVIN: It's very nice to meet you… Mildred.

MILDRED: It's also very nice to meet you, Mr. Highstreet. Marvin. Mr. Highstreet.

NEWTON: What is wrong with both of you? You just introduced yourselves a minute earlier.

MILDRED (changing the subject): Uh, I don't recognize your accent, Mr. Highstreet. Are you from Ireland?

MARVIN: Oh, uh, no, I am from a country much farther away than Ireland. But much younger than Ireland.

NEWTON: Mildred, please do not ask Mr. Highstreet too many questions. He is very tired and is here for… strange reasons.

MILDRED: Of course, Uncle. I'll go get his bath ready.

MILDRED exits stage left.

MARVIN: Has Mildred always been your maid?

NEWTON: No. She is not even a maid, really. She became very ill living in London, so she moved here to the countryside. I don't ask much of her, bu she helps me very much in this big house. I spend all my time studying.

MARVIN: Um, may I ask––have you invented calculus yet?

NEWTON: Have I invented what?

MARVIN: Oh, oops! Nothing. Forget it. I just wondered what you are studying now.

NEWTON: Oh heavens, it's all very complicated. I am trying to improve how we use mathematics to study nature. If we can understand nature better, we can know the mind of God better!

MARVIN: Sounds good to me. I was never very good in school. That's why I became a garbage man.

MILDRED enters stage left.

MILDRED: The bath is ready for Mr. Highstreet and I've already cleaned his room for the night.

MARVIN: Oh, great. Okay, well, good night, Mr. Newton.

NEWTON: Please, call me Isaac. Good night, Mr. Highstreet.

MARVIN: Uh, you can call me Marvin. Isaac.

MARVIN exits stage left and NEWTON sits back in his chair, thinking deeply.

Scene 3

MARVIN walks across stage (from stage left to right, then backstage to stage left, etc.) several times as music plays, and MILDRED does the same from stage right. Each time they cross paths, they exchange happy looks, glasses of tea, bows, etc.

Meanwhile at stage center, NEWTON continues working feverishly at his desk, or walking around writing notes. He keeps examining the alien tool, showing expressions of surprise, confusion, joy, insight, etc. As each day comes and goes, MARVIN and MIDLRED pass behind him. We see time passing because NEWTON's hair is already gray and MARVIN's is gray by the end of his walks across the stage.

The music stops playing. MARVIN stays on stage right.

NEWTON: It's just amazing! I do not understand much of the technology in this machine, but what I have learned in the past twelve years has taught me so much about calculus and physics. I am finally ready to finish my book.

MARVIN: Well, Isaac, that is good news. I knew you were going to write your book someday.

NEWTON: Ah, yes, of course you did. Future Man!

MARVIN: Your book will be a success, Isaac––but what about me going home? Have you figured out how to use the machine to send me home?

MILDRED enters stage left.

NEWTON: Well, Marvin, as I said, this machine is very complicated. I don't think it was made my humans. Maybe it is a gift from the angels. I have some ideas, but what if I use it wrong and hurt you?

MILDRED: Oh, Marvin, you must be careful! Don't go back too fast! You should wait until Uncle Isaac really understands the machine.

NEWTON: But, Mildred, it could take me many more years to really understand this machine.

MILDRED (clapping, hopping, very happy): Many more years? Great! … (She looks at MARVIN.) Oh, no, Marvin, I know you should go home, I just mean….

MARVIN: Well, I––I miss my home so much. … But I enjoy living here. The… people are so nice. You are so nice, Mildred.

NEWTON looks at both of them, a little confused, as MARVIN and MILDRED look at each other with smiles.

NEWTON: Why are you two acting so strangely––again?

MARVIN and MILDRED look at NEWTON and shrug innocently.

NEWTON: In any case, Marvin, I do have some good news about getting you back.

MARVIN: Yes? What?

MILDRED (sadly): Oh. Good news.

NEWTON: I understand some of how this machine sends people into the future. I just can't understand how it sends people back in time.

MARVIN: Well, that's fine with me. I have gone back in time enough already.

NEWTON: It is only a guess. It might now work. Do you want to try now?

MARVIN glances at the machine on NEWTON's desk, and then at MILDRED. She nods a little and then looks down. MARVIN wipes his forehead with both hands and sighs.

MARVIN: Okay, Isaac, yes, I am ready to try. But let me say goodbye.

He turns to MILDRED.

MARVIN: I am happy we know each other. I will… miss you. I will always miss you, Mildred!

MILDRED: I know, Marvin! Me, too!

MILDRED steps back as NEWTON approaches MARVIN. NEWTON adjust some things on the alien tool and then hands it to MARVIN.

NEWTON: I have made it ready for you. Only you can touch it so that only you travel home. Just press this button and turn this dial.

MARVIN: That's it? May the angels bring me back safely!

NEWTON steps away as MARVIN works on the alien tool. The tool makes noises and begins to shake. MILDRED cries MARVIN's name and NEWTON puts his thumb up.

MILDRED: Let me come with you, Marvin!

Everyone freezes. Curtain closes.


Scene 1

The alien tool falls into a pile of garbage bags. MARVIN wakes up and stands out of the pile of bags.

MARVIN: Amazing! Isaac did it! I made it home!

His garbage truck rolls in from stage left, driven by HECTOR. HECTOR parks and "comes out" of the truck. He sees MARVIN and jumps out of the truck.

HECTOR: Well, well, well, look who it is. Did you have a nice vacation, Mr. Lazy?

MARVIN: Vacation? It's been years. I was in––uh, I…

HECTOR: I'm sure a week off felt like years away from all this garbage. But you only got a week off. We tried to call you, bu you never answered your phone. Were you sick? And why is your hair all gray? And how did you grow a bread in one week?

MARVIN: No, I––uh, it's hard to explain.

HECTOR: Plus, your accent sounds funny. Did you take a trip to England? Oh, just forget it. We don't have any time to waste with stories. Let's get to work!

MARVIN looks at the garbage, runs over, and picks up the alien tool.

HECTOR: What is that? A stereo?

MARVIN: I need to use a phone, Hector. Now. I need to call the FBI!

HECTOR: You can use my cellphone, just don't talk too long. Why are you calling the FBI? Do you want to pick up the President's garbage?

MARVIN: It's very important. This machine is very powerful. It is the reason I was gone all these years––

HECTOR: Years? You only took a week off!

MARVIN: A week? Well, uh, it, uh, it felt like years. Look, Hector, I need to give this machine to the government.

HECTOR: Like, the FBI?

MARVIN: Yes! If Newton could understand it, they can probably understand it better.

HECTOR: Newton? Isaac Newton? Marvin, did you eat some garbage? You sound crazy.

HECTOR takes the alien tool away from MARVIN and looks at it skeptically.

HECTOR: Are you saying this little… radio… is powerful? It looks like an old cell phone.**

MARVIN: Hector, be careful with that! Be careful!

HECTOR: You need to calm down. Our job is to throw out the garbage, not collect it and make up crazy stories.

HECTOR throws the alien tool behind him. It hits the ground and makes noises. Just then a woman yells. MILDRED enters stage right.

MARVIN: Mildred! The machine brought you here.

HECTOR is completely amazed. As MILDRED runs to hug MARVIN, HECTOR walks back slowly to find the alien tool.

MILDRED: I told Uncle Isaac about you and he finally understood we want to be together. In any time and any place. So he learned how to send me to.

MARVIN sees HECTOR pick up the alien tool.

MARVIN: Hector, this is Mildred. She just came from England.

MILDRED bows and smile at HECTOR.

MARVIN: Do you believe me now, Hector?

HECTOR: Incredible! Forget the FBI! Now it's mine!

HECTOR holds the alien tool over his head like a champion. Then he starts trying to use it. MARVIN approaches him to take away the tool, but HECTOR backs away. The alien tool starts making noises. MARVIN yells, MILDRED covers her mouth, HECTOR looks at them with a confused face, and then everyone freezes.

The curtain rises for a moment. When it drops, HECTOR is gone and MILDRED and MARVIN are awake.

MARVIN: He's gone.

MILDRED: I do hope he is all right.

MARVIN: Well, he always said he wanted to travel. Now he gets his chance!

MILDRED: Marvin, my dear, let's go home. I don't want to lose any more time.

Both exit stage left.




Scene 1

The alien tool falls into a pile of garbage bags. MARVIN wakes up and stands out of the pile of bags.

MARVIN: Amazing! Isaac did it! I made it home!

His garbage truck rolls in from stage left, driven by HECTOR. HECTOR parks and "comes out" of the truck. He sees MARVIN and jumps out of the truck.

HECTOR: Well, well, well, look who it is. Did you have a nice vacation, Mr. Lazy?

MARVIN: Vacation? It's been years. I was in––uh, I…

HECTOR: I'm sure a week off felt like years away from all this garbage. But you only got a week off. We tried to call you, bu you never answered your phone. Were you sick? And why is your hair all gray? And how did you grow a bread in one week?

MARVIN: No, I––uh, it's hard to explain.

HECTOR: Well, you must be eating some weird food, but we don't have any time to waste with stories. Let's get to work.

MARVIN looks at the garbage, runs over, and picks up the alien tool.

HECTOR: What is that? A stereo?

MARVIN: I need to use a phone, Hector. Now. I need to call the FBI!

HECTOR: You can use my cellphone, just don't talk too long. What, do you want to pick up the President's garbage now?

MARVIN and HECTOR walk offstage right as MARVIN dials the FBI.

Scene 2

At stage center MARVIN is sitting in a large chair next to the PRESIDENT OF THE USA. At stage right a NEWS CAMERMAN is filming them talk.

PRESIDENT: Well, Mr. Highstreet, it is my pleasure to give you this award today. You are an American hero!

MARVIN: Oh, no, Mr. President. I was just a garbageman who found something from…well, something very special.

PRESIDENT: Very, VERY special, Mr. Highstreet. Our scientists have explained this tool does not come from Earth, but from outer space. What you have found might improve American science––and weapons, heheh––by decades. If aliens ever do attack, we may be safe.

MARVIN: Well, I wouldn't know anything about it if my good friend, Isaac, did not teach me.

PRESIDENT: Now I want to give you a Medal of Honor, Mr. Highstreet.

MARVIN stands so the PRESIDENT can give him a medal. MARVIN looks at the camera.

MARVIN: I just want to say this: Mildred, if you are out there. I will always love you.

The PRESIDENT puts the medal on MARVIN and then suddenly the alien tool begins to make noises. The PRESIDENT runs behind his desk as guards run to protect him. The CAMERAMAN brings the camera very close to MARVIN. MARVIN tries to control the tool, but then everyone freezes. The curtain falls.

Scene 3

A GORILLA MAN is crawling on the ground, looking for apples. The alien tool falls down into a tree and an apple hits the GORILLA MAN on the head. The GORILLA MAN is angry and hurt but then picks up the tool. He shakes it and makes noises. Nothing happens. It looks a few times at the tool in its hand, at the apple on the ground, and then at the trees above. It yells and jumps and then starts using the alien tool to known down apples for food.