Category Archives: INSIDE THE BOOK

Inside the book, Vermeer: Portraits of A Lifetime. Analysis of all the paintings of Johannes Vermeer. The book reveals for the first time that the women featured in the paintings of Johannes Vermeer were members of his own family, his daughters, his wife and mother-in-law, Maria Thins.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: MY LIFE – CHAPTER TWO

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(If you have not yet read Chapter One, read it here: https://lawrencerspencer.com/sherlock-holmes/)

CHAPTER 2: THE JABBERWOCK KEY

“I was most curious to discover the complete details of the case of Alice and her sisters from the perspective of Mr. Dodgson.  What had led this evidently intelligent and respectable man to become a target for slings and arrows of the London press?

Accordingly I sent a letter of introduction and inquiry to Mr. Dodgson by post.  Within several days I received confirmation through the post that an interview had been agreed upon. I set out upon a brisk, clear morning of the appointed day to meet the gentlemen in person. I chose to travel by road, rather than by rail through Bicester, so that I might stop along the way. As I passed along Marylebone Road in the coach I hired for this rather long journey to Oxford from London, I pondered whether or not my travels would be productive of anything more than a mild amusement.

When I arrived at his small, sparsely furnished quarters at Christ Church, I discovered a man about six feet tall, slender, with curling brown hair and blue-grey eyes. He carried himself rather stiffly, on account of a knee injury.

Initially I found Mr. Dodgson to be somewhat shy in his demeanor, which I attributed to the nature of my visit, rather than to his usual character. However, once I had made the intention of my visit perfectly transparent to him, he relaxed visibly and became a cordial host. Only a few minutes of our conversation were required to dispel the sensationalized newspaper report, which proved, in fact, to be fallacious in the extreme.

By the time we had taken our tea in the afternoon our acquaintance and conversation had surpassed that trivial incident and travelled into more relevant and meaningful subjects of interest.  I stayed through the evening meal, after which Mr. Dodgson was gracious enough to invite me to stay in his small quarters, so that I did not have to seek lodgings in the village.

This accommodation I found quite suitable as it afforded me leisure time with which to discuss a variety of matters and to become more well  acquainted with the gentleman.  Although we did not establish an abiding friendship or continuing correspondence my visit would prove to be a great good fortune to me in the course of time.

Our conversation, although charmingly absorbing, was slightly encumbered in that he was deaf in one ear and by his “hesitation”, or stammer, which he acquired in early childhood.

The most conspicuous features of his environment would lead one to assume instantly that the man was a photographer, rather than a mathematician.  The photographic paraphernalia, chemicals and chords from which photographs were suspended, together with various cameras and tripods, made an immediate impression that the man had more than a casual interest in the art. Indeed, one of the photographs he displayed was of the very girl, Alice, of whom the newspaper had written.

“Did you take this photograph during your recent excursion with the Liddell family?”, I asked him.

“No, the young lady came to the office which I use for indoor photography.  As you can see, the backdrop is staged to appear to be out of doors”, he replied.  He handed the photograph to me for so I might examine it more closely.

Photography was an awakening art form in Europe, one at which Mr. Dodgson was already well accomplished, in addition to his various other activities of teaching and writing.

After some preliminary discussion with Mr. Dodgson of the matter reported in the Times, I discovered, not surprisingly, that the entire issue had been dispensed with during the intervening several days since the publication of the alleged scandal.  Apparently, the entire family, including the three young girls and their mother, had traveled to the office of the editor of the Times, demanding a full retraction of the article, and a that a formal apology be published.

Indeed, the reporter who contributed the article to the Times had never visited the site, nor had he spoken with any of the parties involved.  Rather, the report was fabricated entirely from a brief interview with a matronly passerby whose name was not revealed and whose identity is not known.

They demanded that the reporter in question be disciplined for submitting such an unjustifiable piece of slanderous gossip! After threats that legal proceeding would be filed against the Times, if immediate restitutions were not made, the entire matter was resolved.  Indeed, a withdrawal, and apology, were published in due course in the Sunday Edition of the following week.

Having satisfied myself that the allegations made by the press were unfounded, and indeed, wildly inflammatory, I was pleased to realize that Dr. Watson had inadvertently caused my introduction to a man who might become a profound friend, but rather proved to be the source of a series of most enigmatic revelations!

My new adventure began, innocently enough, with a fantastical story about Alice In Wonderland told by Charles to his young friends as an amusing pastime.  The superficial trappings of the stories of rabbits, caterpillars, dodo birds, mice, and mad hatters, proved to become far more fascinating to me when I began to discover, from their author, the intricate extent of their hidden, metaphorical meanings.

After we had taken our supper, I sat by the fire enjoying my Calabash pipe, due to the cooling effect it made upon the smoke while circulating through the gourd. This was my favorite amongst a small collection of pipes with which I traveled.  The majority of my pipes were of briar root.

As I searched the local newspaper for items of interest or amusement, Charles, pondered a notebook at his desk, upon which he wrote meticulously from time to time.

“Are you preparing lessons for your students”?, I queried, thinking these must be mathematic problems of some complex and obscure nature.

To my surprise he replied that he was indeed working on lessons, but not of the sort I would have ever imagined from a lecturer in mathematics at a prestigious university.

“Have you ever heard of portmanteau, Mr. Holmes?”, he replied.

“It is a French term, is it not? I believe it is a leather traveling bag”, I said.

“Yes, that is one meaning of the word. The definition I refer to is that of a portmanteau word.  It is used in poetry to mean a blend of two (or more) words, or morphemes, and their meanings into one new word. I have created a method of demonstrating to my students that there exists a relative or associative values of numbers, as in language.  It is a convenient tool for my class in Symbolic Logic.

The exercise of creating and deciphering morphemes stimulates them to “unlearn” the fixed concepts which they have incorrectly learned in early studies. My intention is not to train students in mathematical dogma, like tricks to a dog, but to incite them to create applications of mathematics to solving problems in life.”

I thought this a rather keen notion, though I did not quite comprehend what he was getting at as yet.

“For example, this is a portmanteau poem I am writing to demonstrate the concept to my students”, he said.  It is called “The Jabberwock”.

Mr. Dodgson passed a sheet across the desk to me.  It read as follows:

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”

After reading this very odd poem, I passed it back across to him.

“I find it very clever, in meter and rhyme, but must admit that I don’t understand any of it.  What purpose would this serve for your students?”, I asked him.

I am working on writing down the “key” for the poem. The “key” defines the morphemes. This is precisely the point of the poem, and of the mathematical exercise: every word in our language can be assigned an arbitrary value.  Likewise, mathematical symbols are assigned an arbitrary value. If one employs the value of words or numbers previously defined by others, the extent of their ability to construct a new reality, or to conceive new ideas, is thereby limited.

The exercise is precisely this: create a set of words or numeric values, assign a definition or value to them, and from these, construct a problem and a corresponding solution.  In the case of “The Jabberwock” the words are arranged in a poetic fashion to which the aesthetic attributes of meter, rhyme and rhythm are added. My application of morphemes has been used to construct a poem with a hidden meaning.  However, it is obvious that many other applications of this simple mechanism might be contrived to serve mathematics, logic or literature.

A “key” is required as a component of the exercise in order to make the problem, or poem or “reality” understandable to others.  The key is a list of definitions of the words or symbols contained in the poem or a mathematical hypothesis”, he said.  As he spoke, Charles passed over his notebook for me to examine.

“Another lesser known use of a portmanteau I did not discover until I began my tenure here at Christ Church.” he explained.  “During one of my several visits to the Royal Academy, I had the privilege of reviewing several unpublished notebooks written by Sir Isaac Newton.  His studies of mathematics and optics have influenced my own study of photographic lenses.

However, I was most intrigued by Newton’s postulate of an invisible force able to act over vast distances. This notion led him to the criticism by his contemporaries that he was introducing “occult agencies” into science. However, he observed the phenomena implied a gravitational attraction though he did not indicate its cause.

As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Holmes, it is both unnecessary and improper to frame a hypotheses of things that are not implied by the observed phenomena. His expression for this was “Hypotheses non fingo“, which meant that he did not feign hypotheses.

In other words, for whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophies. Propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction”, Mr. Dodgson concluded.

“I must agree thoroughly”, I replied. “I myself have discovered, through a series of practical experiments in criminal investigation, that it is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”

“Did you know that Sir Isaac also made an extensive study of alchemy and hermeneutics?” Mr. Holmes, he asked.

“Yes. However, I cannot say that I understand anything more than the rudiments of alchemy. And, of hermeneutics, I know nothing whatever”, I said.  I withheld from him the fact that I had spent many years of my life intensely studying the subject of chemistry, the empirical descendent of alchemy.

As he continued with his most intriguing diatribe regarding his studies of the works of Sir Isaac Newton, I reclined into a chair near the fireplace to refill my pipe.  He did not object to my smoking a pure mixture of my favorite black Latakia tobacco.  The odor is quite pungent, but the flavor is more delicious than the finest culinary delicacy.

“A subject of which I knew little” he continued, “in spite of my ecclesiastical training, was that of Biblical hermeneutics.  There are many similarities between this study, and the portmanteau. Indeed, the latter may be a derivative of the former.

As a student of the Bible myself, I was much intrigued by Sir Isaac’s application of hermeneutics which was emphatically aimed at attaining a supernatural communication with the spiritual realms of the occult!  Indeed, his study of alchemy was not that of the physical properties of chemical elements, nor the discovery of a process which would convert base metal into gold. I found this rather compelling, to say the least”, he told me, while rummaging through a drawer containing a jumble of papers.

“If his research was not intended to produce a chemical process, then of what use were his experiments?”, I asked.  My intention was to ascertain the extent to which Dr. Dodgson may have studied the subject.

“I asked myself that very question”, he replied, sitting down across from me with his arms crossed, deep in thought, as though choosing words that would communicate an exact meaning.

“I believe that Sir Isaac was searching for the essence of life. Not for the physical sources, but rather for the spiritual source of existence: life, the universe, and everything in it. His writings upon the matter do certainly seem to attribute a metaphysical, or spiritual, origin to our universe, which is shared by each of us as individuals, and collectively, rather than to that of a single Divine Hand”, he concluded, in a rather introspective tone.

I pondered this notion for a moment before responding, tamping the embers of my pipe firmly with an iron nail head, a common and useful tool for the smoker to ensure a thorough burning of the tobacco.

“I must admit that your study of hermeneutics is undoubtedly too esoteric for my limited understanding of the subject. Yet, I will admit that I am enchanted by the novelty of it.  It certainly fits aptly with the notion of “Hypotheses non fingo” in that, to my knowledge, there exists no definitive “proof” that a Supreme Being exists. The hypothesis that such an entity is the origin point and guardian of all existence seems unsubstantiated by anything more than personal belief or faith”, I said.

“Exactly so”, Charles said as he rose from his chair and retrieved a sheet of paper from the desk top.

“Here”, he said, handing the paper to me, “is a summary of the fundamentals of hermeneutics. One cannot escape noticing the decided similarities between these, and portmanteau”, he concluded.

I studied the paper, and was impressed that the resemblance between the two subjects, as he had suggested, was inescapable. The document read as follows:

“Hermeneutics: the study of Biblical texts, with special attention to hidden interpretations which may be discovered through any or all of the following methods:

  1. grammar, and an explanation or critical interpretation of the text
  2. the interpretation of certain words and letters and apparently superfluous and/or missing words or letters, and prefixes and suffixes
  3. the interpretation of those letters which, in certain words, are provided with points
  4. the interpretation of the letters in a word according to their numerical value
  5. the interpretation of a word by dividing it into two or more words
  6. the interpretation of a word according to its consonantal form or according to its vocalization
  7. the interpretation of a word by transposing its letters or by changing its vowels.”

“By George — or by Newton — I should say, I think you’ve hit upon something quite extraordinary here, my good fellow.  How marvelous it must be to enjoy such a keen intellect and the ability to apply it skillfully”, I observed with genuine admiration.  “I flatter myself by observing that mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius”, I commented to him.

“Your praise is appreciated, but unfounded to the extent you might imagine. Personally, I am a novice when compared to so great a mind as that of Isaac Newton. However, I endeavor to enjoy and apply a few of his discoveries in my teaching”.

He scribbled several more items on the notebook he had continued to ponder during our discussion and passed it across to me for examination.

“Here, then, is the “key” to the Jabberwock poem. When you understand the definitions, the meaning of the poem becomes clear. Thence, the problem is solved and reality is revealed”, said Dodgson.

This is the “key” to the Jabberwock poem, written upon the notebook:

THE JABBERWOCK”  KEY

Bandersnatch — A swift moving creature with snapping jaws, capable of extending its neck.

Beamish — Radiantly beaming, happy, cheerful.

Borogove — A thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round, “something like a live mop”.

Brillig — Four o’clock in the afternoon: the time when you begin broiling things for dinner.

Burbled — A mixture of “bleat”, “murmur”, and “warble”. Burble is also a pre-existing word, to form bubbles as in boiling water.

Chortled — Combination of chuckle and snort.

Frabjous — A blend of fair, fabulous, and joyous.

Frumious — Combination of “fuming” and “furious”.

Galumphing — A blend of “gallop” and “triumphant”. Used to describe a way of “trotting” downhill, while keeping one foot further back than the other. This enables the Galumpheri to stop quickly.

Gimble — To make holes as does a gimlet.

Gyre — To go round and round like a gyroscope, meant to mimic the motion a dog makes while scratching.

Jubjub bird — A desperate bird that lives in perpetual passion.

Manxome — Fearsome. A portmanteau of “manly” and “buxom”, the latter relating to men for most of its history.

Mimsy — Combination of “miserable” and “flimsy”.

Mome — Short for “from home,” meaning that the raths had lost their way.

Outgrabe  — Something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle.

Rath — A sort of green pig.

Snicker-snack — An onomatopoeia referring to sharpness.

Slithy — Combination of “slimy” and “lithe.”

Tove — A combination of a badger, a lizard, and a corkscrew. They are very curious looking creatures which make their nests under sundials and eat only cheese. “gyre and gimble,” i.e. rotate and bore, is in reference to the toves being partly corkscrew.

Tulgey — Thick, dense, dark.

Uffish — A state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish.

Wabe — The grass plot around a sundial. It is called a “wabe” because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it, and a long way beyond it on each side.”

After half an hour of reviewing the “key” and comparing the words defined therein to those in the poem, my amusement and appreciation for the very clever literary device created by Charles soared to a new level.

“Capital, my dear boy. Capital!”, I said emphatically. “You have hit upon a very clever observation and application of it. I am sure I will find this method very useful in my own line of work as a criminal investigator although I am uncertain how this may apply, as yet. However, I will continue to study the device carefully.”

“When do you find the time and energy to study so many diverse matters? One would imagine that your duties at Christ Church would be quite absorbing”, I asked him.

“To be frank”, he replied, “I have little else to occupy myself here during the year. I am unmarried and without children. My duties as a lecturer are discharged routinely and demand little of my time. Moreover, I am more infatuated with the pursuit of knowledge as a subject in itself, than with any other enterprise. I value wisdom and understanding above all things, as I deem that these qualities closely emulate those of God. Therefore,  the study of wisdom, to me, is the study of The Almighty Creator”.

I must admit that I had never conceived this point before, but upon hearing it agreed readily that there could be no more fundamentally noble activity for a man than to attempt to emulate god, whatever notion that may conjure for the individual, assuming that the god in question was  benevolent in nature.

Personally, I had never before considered the subject of “The Almighty Creator” for myself, and felt quite a strange sensation course throughout my being at the suggestion of it! For that matter, I could not remember having studied anything whatever of a philosophical or religious nature.  It seemed that those subjects had never existed for me.

Before departing, Charles was kind enough to give me a manuscript of the story he had told to the Liddell children titled Alice’s Golden Hour of which copies had been made by a female student.  His story was later renamed for publication Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I read the entire manuscript during my return to London. Having spent many hours with the man, and learning of his esoteric scientific interests, which bordered on the occult, I surmised that the apparent children’s story held many layers of subtle meaning disguised in myriad forms. I later discovered that my intuition was correct, but I could not possibly realize, at that time, how dynamic were the extent of these subtleties!

Upon the following day I spent several hours composing my own versions of a portmanteau poem.  I found the exercise quite intriguing and challenging. I must admit that I am ordinarily disinterested in writing, except for an occasional letter or telegram regarding matters concerning my investigations.

Nonetheless, I felt strangely compelled, as by some unseen, external force of nature, to apply myself to the task of writing a poem about the state of affairs in England with which I maintained a daily familiarity through reading the Times and various magazines. My poem was doubly uncharacteristic as I am utterly disinclined, ordinarily, to expend any attention whatever to matters of politics much less write about it!

Disinclinations notwithstanding, the following is my attempt at a  portmanteau poem.  It is intended to express a general view of the situation in the Queen’s Realm: the incessantly greedy and arrogant global empire, which during the past several hundred years had turned the once “Great” Britain into a ruthless imperial power more to be distained than admired.

It is my observation that the lingering tradition of feudal rule throughout the British empire remains entrenched due to the long-standing relationships between the royal family, the church, aristocratic landowners, parliament, corrupt judges, military madmen, and greedy bankers. This is compounded, and made possible, by the singular credulity of the average citizen who languishes in the hope that their personal responsibility for the inevitable hardship they share will be diminished by the callous hands of their brutish overlords.

BEWARE THE CRIMPOLY CORLOBOR

“Beware the crimpoly corlobors plea,

ye worlassaxer econaves and stuvers!

Don’t heed the wicked pompars, please,

that serve the slizerly killmill slores!

Beware the kiltracts who are in league

with the landcrat and famroy who intrigue

with coilstring murdatics and ponthypidiots!

They defraud humanots in their conspiracy.

Life in a luxsive private domain,

the stuvers are by the pompars duped,

’tis the aim of the crimpoly game:

to never, ever speak the truth.

And do not the banvil and prepervs trust,

nor corudgeons and their crimdany.

The murdatic kiltract they won’t arrest,

but prosecute the humanot inovic!

Worlassaxers could make a society

for the Greater Good of All,

if we shun the slizerly crimpoly

that would make econaves of us all.”

And here, like the one provided to me by Charles, is the “key” to my own portmanteau poem, to better understand my less than subtle meaning.

The “Crimpoly Corlobor”  Key:

“landcrat” = aristocratic land owner

“banvil” = banker + evil

“coilsting” = covert killing + stealing  + venomous snake

“corudgeon” =  corrupt + judge + taking bribes

“corlobor” corporate + lobbyist + whore, i.e. a “consultant” who is paid handsomely to legally bribe law makers to give money or favour to the corporation who employs them.

“crimpoly” = criminal + politician + the typical behavior of any senator, parliamentarian, dictator, etc..

“crimdany”  =  criminal + defense attorney

“econaves” =  economic + slaves

” famroy ” = King, Queen, and royal family

“goldfaker” =  banker / money-mongering aristocrat

“humanots”= poor + homeless + humans + living in squalor + without basic services + displaced by greed, corruption, war caused by criminal politicians

“inovic” =  innocent + victim

“kiltract =  military + contractor

killmill = military + industrial + political killing machine

“luxsive” =  luxurious + expensive

“murdatic”  = mass + murdering + lunatic

” plarth”= planet + Earth

“pompar” = pompous parliamentarian

“ponthypidiot”= priestly (Pontificus Maximus) + hypocritical + idiot

“preperv” = priest + sexual + pervert, e.g. a parish priest who will only have sex with small boys

“slenxy” =  slinky + sexy

slizerly = sleazy + slimy + slithery

“slore” =  sleazy + whore

“stuver”  =  stupid + voter

“worlassaxer”  =  working + class + taxpayer

Charles graciously gave to me, as a gift, copies of two photographs from the collection of those he had taken personally, as a remembrance of our visit together.  One was a portrait of the British poet laureate, Alfred Tennyson, who wrote a phrase with which I heartily conform the habits of my own life: “I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”

The second picture was a charming portrait of the young girl named Alice Liddell for whom the adventure story of Alice’s Golden Hour was named. I admit that my thinking and investigative methods were influenced, in a small extent, as a logical derivative learned during my brief association with Mr. Dodgson.”

_________________________

Copyright  © by Lawrence R. Spencer. All Rights Reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ THE ENTIRE BOOK, CLICK HERE:  Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVE SPECTRUM

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Here is another marvelous episode of the now defunct “Rocketboom” internet show. Here MemeMolly tells us about how the “electromagnetic spectrum” works. It is VERY interesting to note that HUMAN BODIES are able to perceive only a VERY TINY percentage of the entire spectrum (which is nearly infinite). But, more interesting is that the chemical components of the atmosphere surrounding the infamous planet “Earth” are specifically and uniquely suited to ensure that human being are literally BLIND with regard to our inability to perceive more than an infinitely SMALL part of the entire spectrum of available energy conveyed by the the waves of energy particles that saturate our environment! What happens when you die, or depart from your body? Are you able to “see” more clearly without a body? To learn more, read the book ALIEN INTERVIEW.

DOWNLOAD THE E-BOOK  Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

VISIT THE WEBSITE and BLOG for the book at www.alieninterview.org and www.alieninterview.org/blog

PAN-GOD OF THE WOODS, Chapter Three

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PAN – GOD OF THE WOODS

Chapter III

 

“Ghosts do exist.  Death does not finish all. The colorless shade escapes the burnt-out pyre.”

— Sextus Propertius – The Elegies ( c 50 BC – 16 BC )

 

Derek didn’t actually hear a voice.  He felt the voice, as though he were thinking to himself, except he knew it wasn’t his own thought.  “This must be what happens when you die…you start hearing voices,” he thought.

“No, not really”, said the voice. “You just happened to be in my forest.  I saw your body get shot.  I made the hunters miss hitting my deer. They hit you instead. Sorry.”

“What the hell is going on here?”, he thought to himself.  “I must be going totally nuts!  First I’m dead and now I’m hearing voices!  Jesus Christ!” he thought hysterically.

“No, Jesus Christ is not here.  Have no fear.  I am Pan, Guardian of the Forest and all creatures therein”, said Pan.

“Huh?”  Derek struggled with his heavily overwrought thoughts.  After a moment or two of confusion he thought, “You mean, like the Greek god, from mythology?”

“The same” said Pan.

Derek fainted.  He came to.  “Oh, Jesus…”

“No, not Jesus. Pan”, said Pan.  “Once beloved and worshipped by men and thought to symbolize all of the gods and all of the nature spirits of fields and forest, I was hailed as the feeder of flocks and herds.  In Egypt I was called Min.  The Romans praised me as Faunus, Lord of Fertility.  In Sumeria all men shouted my name to celebrate victory in battle: Enlil, Father of Life.  The ancient Maya carved my name in stone: Hurakan, of the erect phallus, god of fertility, rain and corn.  I have been worshipped at the great feasts of planting and harvest.  I am invoked by caravan masters before the journey to ensure safe passage through my domain.  My music is the all-purifying, gentle wind in the reeds and tree tops, beloved by  shepherds whose flocks I have soothed with song throughout the ages.  I made love to wood-nymphs and angered my Father Zeus, once upon a time.”

In the time of a cat’s breath, almost as a single thought without words, he knew these things about Pan.  Although he was still reeling with overwhelming confusion, Derek thought shakily, “Am I dead?”

“Well, you’re not in that body at the moment.  Do you feel dead?” asked Pan.

“…ah…I don’t know…I’ve never been dead before…I feel like I’m still here.  But my body’s down there.  Am I like a ghost or something?  Oh, shit!  This is really weird!”

Derek was even more exasperated than before.  He’d read about “out-of-the-body” or “near-death” experiences but none of them ever said anything about having a telepathic conversation with a mythical Greek god.  He thought he must be hallucinating.

“Don’t believe everything you’ve read in Earth books.  They are nearly all lies and nonsense.  I am who I am.  You are who you are: an immortal spiritual being”, Pan said matter-of-factly.

Derek thought, “Huh, immortal? You mean I’m going to live forever now?  Are you going to take me to heaven…or hell?  Are you like an angel or something?”

“I am not an angel. I am Pan, Lord of the Wood”, answered Pan with a glint of grave amusement in his thought.  “You are full of false notions and confusions and you suffer from amnesia, like all men.  You have already lived forever and will continue to do so. You have lost your memory of who you really are. This may return to you, provided you do not continue to inhabit one of those bodies.

There is no heaven or hell as you have been taught to think of it. Those are lies told by priests to make people obey them.  Although I have often thought that if one were to search for Hell and found Earth, it would fit the purpose very well.

“Oh”, thought Derek with a bewildered, breathless sigh.  “I should have figured…this sure isn’t what they taught me in Sunday school and college”.

“Of course not” replied Pan.  “There are a few men of wisdom on Earth, but they do not teach Sunday school or college, nor would truth be allowed in such institutions”.

It occurred to Derek that he didn’t have a clue what was really happening.  He was aware of being in communication with someone, that he’d been shot by hunters, that he was apparently dead, but not really dead.  Or was he?  He had seen his wounded body being carried away off across the meadow by the guys who shot him and that he couldn’t do anything about it.

A dark hopelessness crashed over him; a feeling of utter inability to move, to sense, to operate, to see.  An empty, cold, black nothingness.

 

*         *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

 

Virgil and Billy Joe were drenched with sweat.  Panting, their lungs and muscles shrieked with the agony of over-exertion, as they carried Derek’s 175 lb. body at a dead run across the meadow, up a steep embankment to a dirt logging road and another 200 yards to Virgil’s pickup truck.  They pushed and dragged Derek’s still breathing body onto the seat of the cab between them.

In a single motion Virgil started the engine, spun the wheel and sprayed dust and gravel in a 180 degree arc behind the oversized tires, speeding toward the main highway which would take them to a hospital 20 miles away.

“Damn, Virg!”, Billy Joe panted, “Step on it son!  If this guy croaks on us, we’re in deep shit!”

Virgil skidded onto the asphalt of the main highway.  The tires screamed burning rubber as he floored the gas pedal.

“Get the police on the CB and tell ’em to lay off us man.  We’re comin’ through”  he said, handing the mike to Billy Joe.  Billy hit the switch, twisted the dial to the police frequency and yelled, “attention all highway patrol cars southbound on highway 239:  Code three, code three.  We are ten-eight in a red Ford pickup truck, license number…uh…”.  “J32743 !”, Virgil shouted for him, “headed to the nearest hospital with a serious gunshot wound.   Please assist!  Repeat.  Please assist. Come back.”

Derek’s body slumped limply against Billy Joe, who propped it up on the seat next to him with his shoulder. The wound was still bleeding  The CB speaker crackled with an official sounding voice of a dispatcher from the Sasquatch County Sheriff department, “Uh, ten-four, J32743.  We will intercept and assist.  What’s your twenty? You copy?”

As Virgil kept the pedal to the metal, a Sasquatch County Sheriff patrol car fish-tailed and screeched into pursuit of them from his hiding place behind a roadside billboard. He passed them with siren wailing and lights flashing, leading the way to the emergency entrance of Mother of Mary Memorial Hospital.

 

*         *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

 

“Do not despair my friend”, soothed Pan.  “Do not succumb to your desire for oblivion. I will help you”.

Derek had never known an emotion of such utterly empty, senseless devastation before.  He felt that his entire existence was lost.  Even if he were not dead he could not hope to operate without his body.  He was nothing without it.

“You are not your body my friend.  All you have ever been or will be is you: your memory, your knowledge, and ability.  You are not dead.  You are the spark and essence of life itself.”

Pan’s words were clear, cleansing, and certain.  Just as rain rinses away dust from a window, Derek felt reassured.  A rush of relief raced through him.  He sighed deeply, then thought, “How can I be sighing?”

Pan, as usual, answered instantly in a matter-of-fact tone, “You are the source of breath. Not the body.  You are the Cause of Life.”

“If you say so…” thought Derek gloomily.

Although he felt better, Derek was still abashed and not a little confused by his current situation.

“I do say so! Therefore, it is”, was Pan’s robust response.

Derek pondered his new predicament for a moment. “Well, if I’m not really dead and what you say is true, what do I do now?”

“Whatever you decide to do”.

“Oh, right…so now I’ll just magically reappear on Earth as my old self and pick up where I left off?  I’m sure my wife will really like sleeping with a spirit and all my employees will get a big kick out of working for a ghost”, Derek fumed.

“There is no reason to be sarcastic with me.  If you wish I will leave you here to solve your own problems”, scolded Pan.

“Sorry. I’m a little upset, I guess.  I mean, I just died didn’t I?”, Derek moped.

“I understand. Many lesser beings would have already succumbed to the automatic impulse to forget, to loose themselves in the oblivion of death.  You are a tougher being than most.  I remember you as you once were and will help you regain your former self, if you wish it”, instructed Pan.

“Huh?…  You remember me?… From where?”, Derek sputtered.

“Not long ago you were a free spirit, as I am.  But you were overcome by the desire for sensation: for sex, for food, for companionship, for a game to play.  You agreed too much with men and became trapped in the body of a man. These things caused you to diminish your own ability.  Because of your contact with bodies you, and other gods, lost your power, your freedom, and your memory” concluded Pan.

“Oh, I see”, Derek replied vaguely without really understanding at all.

“Dead men are always less lamented by others than by themselves.”  Pan paused, considering and continued. “However, death is only an illusion, as you have learned. The living, who no longer see your body, consider that you are dead. But only bodies perish. You will live on forever.”

“Do you have something philosophical to say about everything?” grumped Derek.

“Yes. Always.  Unless of course I choose not to say anything…”  There was a long, still, vacuous silence in which Derek started to feel very uncomfortable indeed. And very, very alone…then afraid.  And then panicky.

“Pan…?” he ventured a thought.  Nothing. “Pan?” again, more urgently.  Silence.  “Pan? Where are you?!” thought Derek hysterically.  “Oh, My God!”

“I am here”, replied a thought as though inside of Derek’s head…well, not head actually.  Startled, but relieved Derek shouted, without a voice, “Don’t do that! Christ! Where’d you go anyway?”

“I’ve been here the whole time.  I just chose not to communicate, as you seemed to want not to hear what I had to say.  Typical of Earth men: like pigs rutting in a diamond mine looking for truffles are annoyed at having to push aside the glittering gems to feed a body”,  mused Pan.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.  I’m sorry.  I guess I’m still too upset to be very understanding at the moment.”

Derek was contritely exasperated at realizing that he had felt so utterly helpless during that brief silence. For the first time he could remember, he felt like there was nothing he could do for himself.  He was blind, he couldn’t feel anything, he couldn’t move and the only thing he could hear were Pan’s thoughts and only then if Pan intended to be heard.

“God, this is worse than being a baby! I can’t do anything without a body!”

“There is a story told by the native people who once lived in this forest, about how the Eagle learned to fly,” said Pan. “A very long time ago in the forest there lived a pitiable creature called Shitalkme.  All he ever did was talk and talk and talk to himself while he hopped around on the forest floor looking for bugs and seeds which had fallen from the treetops.  He never listened, not even to hear his own talking.  One day Shitalkme asked a wise old Owl sitting up in the branches of a tree, ‘How can I get off the ground and reach the treetops, like you?’  The Old Owl answered Shitalkme, ‘If you stop talking long enough, you will learn how to reach the treetops’.  Shitalkme stopped talking and soon he began to hear the deer and the wolf and the beaver and the other creatures of the forest.  After a long time of listening, he heard the wind. When he listened to the wind, Shitalkme began to soar.  When he soared, Shitalkme became the Eagle.  After that, his soaring said everything the Eagle needed to say.”

 

*         *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

 

After leaving the hospital, Virgil and Billy Joe spent several hours at the Sasquatch County Sheriff office telling their story to Sheriff Melvin “Bubba” Gumshoe, an unpleasantly plump, balding and slightly greasy cop.

Bubba got his nick-name when he started kindergarten.  It just seemed to fit.  He majored in Heavy Equipment Operation at the local vocational school after high school. But he lasted only three days on his first job as a backhoe operator due to a chronic sinus condition.  Everything outdoors — dust, dirt, pollen, grass, trees — made Bubba sneeze and it made his nose run.  Although police work didn’t require much outdoor work, the handkerchief he kept in his pocket was usually wet with constant use in spite of the eight antihistamine tablets he took faithfully each day.

“OK (sniff), so let me get this straight” said Bubba in his usual mechanically nasal monotone.  “You state that Billy shot at an alleged deer with a hunting rifle, at a distance of not more than 75 yards, (sniff) sighting through a high-magnification rifle scope aimed directly at the heart of the alleged deer, (sniff) and that the rifle, to use your words, ‘just sort of jumped to the right’, when you fired the weapon. (sniff) And that you missed the alleged deer and hit this, er… (sniff), Mr. Adapa, who you claim not to have seen until you started running (sniff) after the deer and discovered the victim.  Is that the story you’re going to have me put in my report?” (sniff)

“Yeah, yeah, yeah! That’s exactly what happened!” said Virgil in exasperation.  He looked across at Billy Joe shaking his head and rolling his eyes to the ceiling.

“We’ve been through this 50 times already!  That’s what happened!”

Virgil was really gettin’ peeved but suppressed his temper with a white-knuckled grip on the arms of the straight-backed wooden chair he’d been sitting in all afternoon.

 

*         *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

 

“I am a god, not a ‘ghost’ as the human conception of an active spirit would have it.”  Pan said to the quiet and attentive Derek who had been given the opportunity to spend a few minutes in calm contemplation of his situation.  “However, though I am a god, I am yet, indeed, vulnerable to the same spiritual perils faced by a being with a body.  If you have read any of the stories about my past deeds in your ‘mythical’ history, you will recall that I have had more than my share of escapades with bodies.  I have lusted after women, had sex with many, caroused, cavorted, and sullied myself with every imaginable bodily sensation and desire, on this planet and many others.  I have intervened in the personal, political and military affairs of men and women and nations.  I have often set a very unholy and less-than-venerable example for other spirits to follow – for both men and gods.

However, I have overcome many of these spiritually degrading activities with self-discipline and by maintaining a safe distance from too much association with bodies, especially these last 2,000 years or so.  Because I have learned from my own inept experiences of the past, I will pass on what I can of my own observations to you in much the same way the master craftsman of Europe used to train an apprentice during the 16th century through a combination of theory, combined with daily practice at duplicating the actions and techniques of the master. “I understand your pain and confusion.  I have been there myself many times”, Pan instructed his new apprentice.

“The central purpose of my desire to tutor you that is you may learn to operate effectively while outside the body, and remain free from the cycle of birth and death.  Further, in order to maintain this most sought after state of being, I will teach you to be ever vigilant against external distractions and as well as the self-made doubts which can diminish your power as a being.

There is one point of vulnerability… I can impart only as much wisdom as I have gained through the trials and errors of my own experience, much of which I myself understand analytically, but have not necessarily applied with success to others. There are no mystical secrets; there are no hidden meanings in what I have to teach you.  There is only a strict adherence to those ideas and actions which have proven to work successfully and consistently, combined with your own hard work to apply this knowledge. It is therefore, possible that you may someday learn to exceed my own abilities, provided that you are diligent and persistent.  After all, we’re all gods to the degree that we allow ourselves to be” Pan concluded.

Derek didn’t really know what to say or think.  If the word ‘dumbfounded’ were ever appropriate to an occasion, this was certainly one of those occasions, he thought to himself.

“Yes, I suppose you must feel quite overwhelmed by all this” thought Pan back to Derek, having perceived his thought.  “The key question I have for you is this:  Do you have a desire to increase your personal power and ability?

Derek was sure that he did, but not sure that he had any other alternative.

“The alternative”, Pan replied to Derek’s unknowing question, “is that I can leave you to do as most other beings do — drift blindly, dumbly and silently into oblivion.  You may eventually return to your old body, or to a new one or perhaps none.  Without direction, I am sure that you will have no control over your own destiny.  However, with my help, you have great potential power.”

 

*         *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

 

So, it came to pass that Pan started to train his new student.  The next step was to rid Derek of his dependency on a body in order to move and perceive on his own.  Pan instructed Derek how to look, to reach out with his feelings to permeate space.

To begin, Pan spent some time getting Derek used to the idea that he was not an object, but truly a spiritual “no-thing”.  Of course, Derek was accustomed to having a body, being an object, bumping into walls, skinning it’s knees, and so forth.  It took quite a while to get Derek to discover that he could move through objects.  It was a very strange experience at first, but one which proved more effortless with practice.

Then, he showed Derek how to feel an object by imagining himself to be the object; to flow through it, sensing it through thought, using every perception he could muster: texture, density, weight, gravity, temperature, mass and even to feel the emotion the object was feeling.

Pan made him practice and practice and practice.  All of this seemed very strange to Derek at first. It was extremely frustrating.  There were many fits and stops and objections and “I can’t” and “this is ridiculous”.

Pan was compassionately unwavering, unreasonable and insisted that Derek continue to do the drills again and again and again and again.

Derek cascaded by degrees through an emotional roller-coaster ride of anger, grief, apathy, then soaring in a moment of success to enthusiasm, explosive laughter and exhilaration, then crashing down again, and up once more.

Each time Pan made the drill gradually a bit more complex than the last. After many, many repetitions Derek began to have some victories, small at first, then bigger.

Derek relearned, with coaching, how to perceive light particles reflecting from the surface of objects without the use of optic nerves.  He learned to just be there and look, to be the object and experience it and then how to move by considering that he was changing his location in space and thinking himself from one location to another.

As himself, he really wasn’t located anywhere at all in particular.  He and Pan were just there.  The more he imagined that he owned space, the easier it became.  At first he had to pretend to attach himself to a tree or a rock by an imaginary rope and drag himself along.  And then, using the ground or a hill as a bracing point, to push himself away. It was a lot like doing push-ups without gravity. He was in a truly weightless condition now.

Derek even learned to smell apples on the trees in a nearby orchard by imagining the taste, putting the imagined taste into the fruit and then feeling it back again into himself as though it had come from the fruit itself. As he practiced he realized that the smell didn’t really come from apples as much as it came from his own imagination of what an apple smelled like. He didn’t have a body’s nose telling him how an apple is supposed to smell anymore.  It was all up to him now.  Perhaps it always had been. He just hadn’t realized it before.

A simple thing like smelling an apple or just moving from one location to another was no longer automatic.  Derek really had to think about it every single, minute aspect of it.  The effort was very trying, but at the same time, more gratifying than anything he had ever done before.

“Wow! This is fantastic!  I’m me, you know?  I’m really not a body! I’m me!” Derek enthused at his newly found awareness of himself.

“Very good!”, replied Pan with equal enthusiasm.

 

*         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

 

“And you, Mr. Jaras…ah…Billy”, Bubba motioned to Billy with his handkerchief, then blew his nose before continuing, “is that your final statement too?”

“You got it man.” Billy sighed heavily. “Can we get goin’ now?  We been here all day.  I ain’t had nothin’ to eat since first light this mornin’.  Give us a break will ya’?” he moaned.

“Yes, OK.  You can go now.  You will (sniff) be contacted if there is any change in Mr. Adapas condition. Be sure that you are available at all times in case we need further information from you” droned Bubba, sniffing.

As they scuffed outside to the truck Virgil said, “Jesus, where’d they ever dig up that guy?  What a sorry-ass son-of-a-bitch! I thought we’d never get out of that place!”

“Yeah. Well, I just hope this guy don’t give up and die on us or this sheriff is gonna be on us like stink on shit for murder or manslaughter or somethin’.”

“Hey, lighten up Billy!   He’s gonna be OK.  The doc at the hospital said the guy’s supposed to live, right?”

“Yeah, but he was hit pretty bad…” Billy moped, fumbling through his keys to unlock the door to this pickup.

“Shit! There’s blood all over the seat.  We gotta stop by a car wash on the way home. Damn!”.

 

*         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

 

“So far, so good Derek. You’re doing very well.  You will get it with more practice” Pan encouraged.

Derek already felt light-years better than he could ever remember feeling.  He felt confident, able, powerful and very, very alive.  “Quite a feeling for a dead man”, he thought.

“There is still much more to learn and remember”, Pan continued.  “One thing at a time.  The abilities that separate men from the gods, are the ability to assume viewpoints.  And from these viewpoints, one must then be able to make things happen.”

More drilling.  Practice, practice, practice.  Be a tree.  Be a rock. Be a leaf. Be inside a cloud.  Be above the forest.  Under the water.  Three feet above the water.  On and on and on. It seemed an interminable, yet timeless lesson to Derek. Pan was always patient, yet insistent that Derek learn.

Derek tried a combination of newly acquired skills on a chipmunk in the forest. He went into the chipmunk’s head by thinking of himself as the chipmunk. He became the chipmunk. He thought the thought, “stop”.  The chipmunk, which had been bounding across the pine-needle carpeted floor of the forest suddenly stopped.  Derek thought, “sit up” and then “turn your head from left to right”. He did exactly as Derek intended.       “Wow! I did it!” Derek spouted. “He did just what I wanted him to. Nothing to it.” he continued confidently.

“Of course.  Very good. You’re getting the idea of it very nicely”, Pan acknowledged.

“Now that you’re getting some of your own power back, let’s go take a look around.  We’ll do a little sight-seeing. Come on!”  Pan disappeared.

Derek waited for several moments before beginning to feel puzzled about where Pan had gone. He felt like scratching his head, but he didn’t have one, so he just waited, trying to feel Pan anywhere near him. Nothing.

“Oh my god…” sighed Derek.

“Yes?”, answered Pan.

“Jesus!” Derek jumped, half startled out of his wits.  “Don’t leave me alone like that!  Where’d you go anyway?”

“Where did you go?  I’ve been down in The Bahamas playing with the dolphins”, laughed Pan. “What happened to you anyway?”

Derek just stood there…well, sat…, that is, kind of floated, not really knowing what to say or think.

“You’re in worse shape that I thought” Pan lamented.  “Oh well, I’ll pull you along with me then, until you get your ‘wings’ back.  OK. So, here we go.  Hang on!”

In that instant Derek experienced a rush of feelings too many and varied to describe.  He found himself hovering inches above gently bobbing ocean waves.

“Isn’t this great?” blurted Pan with frisky gusto.

A sleek, shiny gray dolphin squeaked with delight, exploding from beneath the surface as it leaped directly up and through Derek.  It soared high into the air, trailing beads of water and splashed with effortless grace back into the blue-green waves.

“What the…what was that?!  Where…” spluttered Derek.

“Bahamas. Dolphins, ” Pan enthused. “I told you.  I was playing with some friends. Come on!”

Derek was under the water, speeding through a trail of burbling bubbles behind a quartet of sleek gray dolphins.  They thrashed their tails rhythmically, gaining speed, turned up and with a surge of playful power burst through the surface, arching and stretching a dozen feet above the spray, straightened and plunged below again.  He rode on with them, pulled along by a force he could not feel or resist, but he knew that he was connected to Pan.

The dolphins continued swimming, leaping, diving, splashing gleefully.  Derek could feel their immense energy, the exhilaration of their play; the crystal wet sparkle of sunlight reflected from beaded water droplets, the pressure of rushing water.  He felt the slippery odor of passing kelp and the scurrying scare of smaller fishes fleeing from them.

Derek was permeated with joy and ecstatic motion.  Warm sunlight awash with surf-scented air and sparkling, squealing giggles of dolphins at play.

Derek was immersed, enthralled, consumed, amazed. With a thousand sensations, nothing like he ever experienced in a body: too many to be differentiated.  He was thoroughly, completely exhilarated and simultaneously suffused with comprehension. As he and Pan broke above the surface, high into the air above the azure waters he looked down on a teaming stampede of dozens of speeding, splashing dolphins.

“This is what it’s like to be a god…this is who I really am” thought Derek. “I’m me!  Oh my god!”

“You called?” replied Pan instantly.

“This is completely, totally amazing!” beamed Derek,

“Indeed!”  laughed Pan.

 

READ WITHOUT EYES

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

As lovers of learning and literature know all of the best fantasy, science fiction, history, romance, imagery, imagination and revelation are contained in books.  The content of movies and TV shows are often spewed from minds who pander the prurient interests to the lowest common denominators of money and mayhem.  The finest thoughts, the highest aspirations and the flightiest heights of imagination are dreamed and written by artists who write books.

Unfortunately, as my body grows older, I find that it is increasingly difficult to read books.  Diminishing eye sight, arthritis in my neck, bad back and insufficient time makes reading books more difficult.  Thank the gods, and technology for the wonderful inventions of MP 3 players and AUDIO BOOKS!

Now I can download and listen / read a vast array of literature on audio books, read to me by the some of the most talented actors:  it’s better than a bed-time story!  And I can listen to books while driving, waiting in the dentist office, walking around, sitting in the park and muti-tasking in general.  Personally, I’ve listened to more books during the past two years than I read in the previous five years.

Thanks to audio books I’ve been able to read books that I probably wouldn’t have read previously due to the sheer size and expense of the books, some of which are several thousand pages in length! Free audio books, in the public domain, are available from www.Librivox.org.   And, a vast library of books read by professional actors is available from www.Audible.com.   The most important (FREE) source of audio books is your local public library.  More and more books are available of CDs and cassette tapes every day.  I use and recommend all of these.

As for subject matter, here are some of the books I listened to recently that are my personal favourites:

All 7 books of THE LENSMAN SERIES, written by E.E. “Doc” Smith  (I consider these to be the finest science and science fiction books ever written). I listened to most of them twice!

All of the Sherlock Holmes books written by Arthur Conan Doyle  (most of these I read previously, but audio books make them more fun)

American Gods and The Anansi Boys by the magical Neill Gaimon.

Enders Game by the marvellous science fiction writer, Orson Scott Card

The Autobiography of Mark Twain, a compilation of his autobiographical writings and commentary.

Any of the legion of electrifyingly frightening books by the fantastic fiction writer, Dean Koontz.

Under the Dome by Stephen King.

The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.  One of the finest works of historical commentary ever produced.

The Republic by Plato is the pre-eminent discussion of the philosophy and culture of Western Civilization, written in 368 B.C.E.

Mien Kamph by Adolph Hitler.  This is a ‘must’ read if you care to understand the demented ‘logic’ of a demonic Germanic mind.

The Confession by John Grisham.  This is a damning diatribe, written as fiction, on the subject of capital punishment.

The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. This is a marvelous perusal of the entire subject of Western philosophers.

The complete writings of the Father of the American Revolution,  Thomas Paine.

The Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tze.  (The new English translation)

At the moment I’m listening to Fall of Giants by Ken Follett.

___________________________

Good listening!  Lawrence R. Spencer