Bastian

Sebastian liked his name, it meant “revered” in Latin.  It gave one something for which to aspire, not only a goal but a framework that ought to be followed to attain that goal, if that appellation were to be honorably earned.  And honor too was important to Sebastian, perhaps because of his name.

Not that it didn’t have drawbacks. 

What was its diminutive or affectionate form?  Seb, Sebbie, Baz and Bash came to mind.  Its Spanish variant, also Sebastian but pronounced differently, was both more popular and had easier nicknames, Sebas and Bastian being two.  Sebastian had tried to adopt Bastian, he liked it.  And not only because it seemed cooler than Seb, Sebbie, Baz or Bash.  It had style and not just a bit of power.  To Sebastian, Bastian seemed powerful.  Powerful and revered were as useful as they were complimentary.

Now to live up to the name and nickname, and to have the nickname accepted by his peers and by his future ex-wives (the latter was the trend).  Hopefully beautiful, interesting and honorable ex-wives, ex-wives who did not bear grudges or demand alimony, nor an unfair share of joint property.  Who did not irreparably break his heart or he there’s.  That would definitely not be honorable.

And what kind of an education and career would best suit a Sebastian whose nickname was Bastian and who sought to comport himself in an honorable fashion, but one not bereft of financial success and at least a modicum of fame?  An interesting and productive career following a fascinating education that ought to include a bit of adventure and a good deal of fun, perhaps even a bit of harmless mischief but in a good cause.  And dinosaurs and physics and astronomy too.  Perhaps even theoretical mathematics and study of quanta that might open portals to other dimensions or facilitate non-interval travel anywhere or, perhaps, even any when. 

That would be cool, and it could well be honorable as well.

Tough questions for a nine year old.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

A Day in the Post Retirement Life of that Famous Former Squire: Sancho Panza de la Mancha

Sancho Panza sat comfortably under the shade of a large tree.  Not seeking enlightenment, he’d had a bit too much of that, at least for his taste, nor the best way to Nirvana without the trials and tribulations, but, ironically, writing his memoirs in a book; a book that his former master had gifted him.  A book with nothing in it but blank pages as his former master had assumed that Sancho did not know how to read.  But he’d been wrong.  Sancho not only knew how to read but obviously how to write.  And he was not an old fashioned buffoon!  Instead of a quill and inkpot he was using a newfangled invention made from graphite imported from Borrowdale in far off England (an uppity Island doing its best to steal everything his native Spain had “acquired” from Ultramar).  The graphite was ingeniously wrapped in string and left markings in the book in whatever shape or form Sancho deemed appropriate.

He’d had occasion to read the version of his adventures with his master supposedly written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, who’d gotten a few things right but way too many things wrong.  But then again, Miggy was a politician of sorts (in his own way) and he was trying to make a point, torturing literature as well as facts as necessary, … a prelude to future journalism. 

A novel!  What the Hell was a novel anyway.  Sancho did not believe that literary vogue would catch on.  Anyway, Sancho deemed it appropriate to make a few corrections, some clarifications and perhaps a bit of creative advocacy to clear his good, or at least pretty good name.

Sancho’s former employer, not really his master, the naïve cavalier Alonso Quijano (also known in some quarters as Sir Quixote of la Mancha), had willed him, if not an Island Princedom (as he’d promised), at least several pleasant hectares reasonably near the old Moorish city of Toledo, which his wife Teresa Cascajo and their daughter, Maria, worked with the assistance of some tenant farmers they’d contracted.  Sancho would have been more active in its management, had Teresa, or even Maria allowed it, but they assured him that he had more of an artistic than agrarian temperament.  And he’d been forced to acknowledge their wisdom.

Old Miggy had made a small fortune with his version of Sancho’s adventures and Sancho felt that he, with his more direct knowledge of the facts involved, might at least do as well, proving to Teresa and Maria that his talents might also prove profitable.  So there he sort of sat, a horn of passable wine nearby, and a straw hat on his head shielding him prospectively from the late afternoon sun that loved to evade the shade of the tree, and perhaps even provided him with a bit more shade, should he somehow happen to doze off, as sometimes, perhaps even frequently occurred.  But those sort of naps were not really signs of languor, rather, they were opportunities to do research in the recesses of his mind that were sometimes otherwise inaccessible.

“And so it happened” he began writing, but was stumped after that for a while. 

He checked his spelling, which seemed fine to him, albeit not always as consistent as it might have been, and then decided that perhaps a bit of wine might help.  He took one gulp, and then another to wash the first gulp down and then a third for similar reasons, and soon, well, he wasn’t sure what had happened, but it had somehow gotten dark.  “Dark magic” he thought, “dark magic again”, assuredly that malign Friston who would apparently do anything to prevent Sancho from getting his side of the story published.

With no other choice for the nonce, Sancho fitfully worked himself free of the damned hammock in which he’d been “working” and undertook the short walk to the comfortable little farmhouse (which also served as his manor), where Teresa and Maria had already finished the dinner they’d made for all three, but which Sancho had evidently somehow, “researched” through.  Somehow or other, the dinner bell they used to call him did not always function properly.  Probably a curse, damn Friston.  So it was a cold, albeit delicious, stew again, with homemade sourdough bread (all bread was pretty much homemade back then).

Ah well, he thought, satiated as well as somewhat satisfied with his effort, mañana is another day, … and always will be.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Conan the Barber

He was not related to the much better known Cimmerian after whom he’d been named, although, like him, he was somewhat expert in the use of sharp implements, just not in the same manner.  Actually, in a very different manner with very different goals and very different results.  His only involved butchering when he failed, while his namesake engaged in that activity when he was most successful, at least in his own lights.

Robert E. Howard would probably not have thought much about Conan the Barber, although, perhaps, he might have patronized him, as might his great albeit very different pal, H. P. Lovecraft.  But this Conan also took his profession seriously, and at times engaged in cosmetogolical competitions where, every once in a great while, his creations emerged victorious.

It may well be that he took as much care of his scissors and razors and blades as his namesake did of his swords and spears and lances and arrows, so in that, at least, they were similar.  And of course, they were both Cimmerians, although not many people today know just what that entailed.  For readers who have no idea, well, according to a popular source that will remain unnamed due to its erratic reputation for accuracy, they were “a nomadic Indo-European people, who appeared about 1000 BC”, originating in the Pontic-Caspian steppe but subsequently migrating “into Western Asia and into Central and Southeast Europe”.  Interesting definition, especially the part about “originating in the Pontic-Caspian steppe”, since it begs the question, … well, where were they before that, did they spontaneously come to life there, perhaps from a bit of molded clay onto which a stray divine wind blew?  I would guess that they were a link in the chain of tribes that for diverse reasons kept pulsing out of central Asia, perhaps out of what is now Mongolia, and scaring the hell out of their neighbors who cascaded south and west.  But that’s just my unsubstantiated guess, which is as good as yours.

One wonders what kind of coiffeurs our Conan specialized in, whether he ever invented any, perhaps the Mohawk, or the Pictian spike look, or, perhaps, the faux bald look so popular nowadays.  I can almost see him, concentrating profoundly and perhaps fantasizing about his name sake as he clipped and scraped and combed and parted and started the process all over again.  One wonders if he had a special flair, perhaps a unique style, and what kinds of faces he made as he worked, perhaps as though he were a bass player in a late twentieth century New Orleans late night dive, lost in his melodies.

Of course, in antiquity and even not so long ago, barbers were also sort of surgeons, and engaged in therapeutic, curative bleeding, hence today’s barber poles.  It would be sort of ironic if our Conan was a healer, rather than one who generated a massive need for healers.  Kind of symbiotic.

What about his clothing?  Was it as minimal as his namesake’s?  Did he wear loincloths or trousers, beads or shirts, and what was his own hair like?  Did he change his look frequently or prefer a classic, easy to recognize look that would identify him?  Was it long, short, or somewhere in between?

Was he a contemporary of his name sake?  Not likely, unless, of course, he was twenty or thirty years younger, a lifetime in those days.  Did his namesake ever meet him, perhaps patronize him, and, if so, in what sense?  Double entendre possibilities abound there.

Interestingly, many millennia later, at least a few people have taken to the name and appellation, check out twitter, and evidently there’s also a current musician who uses that name, and not a few barber shops.  So his legacy too lives on.

“Conan the Barber”, a nice ring.  Was it a given name, an adopted name or, perhaps, a professional moniker?

Guess we’ll never know.  Regardless of how carefully one “combs” through the related chronicles compiled by Messier Howard, not a trace of Conan the Barber can be gleaned.  Then, of course, perhaps one would need a sleuth out of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s imagination to take up that particular task, although, why would he.

Wouldn’t it be something if Sherlock Holmes’ creator was somehow distantly related to either of our protagonists?  Of course, after so many generations of intermingled genes, almost anything is possible.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

The Amorous Misadventures of Santiago de la Cruz Osorio

Santiago de la Cruz Osorio was not monogamous, but he was honorable and he refused to compromise his principles, thus, he did not surrender to his libidinous instincts when he was involved in a relationship much though they called to him  He was not gamophobic either, rather the reverse, which women sensed.  So he became a serial monogamist who all too quickly became infatuated, sure each time that the results would be different given that the object of his affection was surely the eternal love for which he’d always longed.  But always, despite his best intentions, he all too soon became disenchanted, but trapped relationally by his premature commitments.

All too soon as well, his fantasies dealt, not with physical intimacy, but with how he might, without compromising his principles, regain his freedom.  Fantasies that were frequently morose and dark, fantasies where he imagined himself a widower, or a cuckold, or just the subject of rejection by his paramour of the moment who’d decide that he was not really the person she’d sought.  The latter was the manner in which, through careful planning and meticulous execution, he managed to re-attain his lost liberty, his paramours believing that they’d just somehow grown apart and would be better off preserving their beautiful friendship.  Ironically, endings generated feelings of intense joy similar to those at beginnings.

Eureka!!  For the moment at least.  Still, inevitably, he’d lose his freedom again, and the cycle would repeat, and his frustration would increase.

He’d disastrously tried an open relationship based on honesty and ironically, a variant on fidelity, but it hadn’t worked, it hadn’t worked at all though he’d met the elaborate conditions on which they’d agreed.  He was now considering that perhaps relationships were not for him and he’d be best off with a myriad of ever varying friends with mutual benefits, something some of his less serious friends espoused, although their “associations” seemed somewhat akin to “leasing” the verisimilitude of love. 

Unfortunately in a fortunate sense, or fortunately in an unfortunate sense, his partner of the moment felt he was perfect for her and it seemed unlikely that she’d ever leave.  And, in fact, he was getting on in years and most people believed he’d been incredibly fortunate in having become espoused to such a perfect mate.

Thus, Santiago de la Cruz Osorio found himself confused and bored but not unhappy.  Just frustrated and grateful concurrently.  Iconic irony orchestrated by good old Murphy who loved a good laugh.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

An Ode to Old Shoes

I have a pair of very old shoes, now in pretty bad shape.  

When they were young and just out of the box they were striking, top of the line, perhaps dreaming of a life on board a yacht, or at least on some sort of vessel, sailing through exotic seas.  Perhaps the sea near their birth in the Charleston that I love so much.  Then, as the years rolled by, far from any ocean, they instead started archiving memories for me.  Memories of the family I once had and of the aspirations I had for us all; memories of the aspirations I had for our country, of the ones I had for our world.   Of the ones I had for me.

The years have passed and many people, many places, many things I’ve loved are gone.  Misplaced in some cases, perhaps wondering where I’ve vanished, beyond the veil in others.  I now live on another continent, the one that saw my birth, in a beautiful city near the sky where snowcapped peaks greet me on sunny mornings, high in the central range of the Colombian Andes.  A cycle seemingly renewed but now, again, seemingly awaiting a rebirth.  But there are so many people and places I miss, parts of my heart and soul sprinkled far away in time and space.  People and things gone long before their times.   But, … is there ever a right time for things we love to leave us, … or we them?

Those shoes are old and broken down now, but I still wear them, if only in lieu of slippers at home.  My sons are grown and drifted away.  The family in which I placed so much hope has turned to mist.  Almost as if it had all merely been a midsummer night’s dream.  My aspirations are much less than merely unfulfilled, apparently further from fruition than ever.  But still, they seem to be echoing in those old shoes that are beautiful to me still. 

Misplaced is very different than lost and hope still lingers there.  Hidden amidst bruised and battered old leather with wrinkles in the shape of the myriad memories and transitions they reflect.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Why Cats?

An Abominable Abrahamic Allegory

Not many knew where the Garden had been relocated, or when, or what for.  But a few did, a very few.  Of course, most people know why.  One “being” had been trapped there ever since, well, you know, ever since its gates had been locked and sealed.  On this particular day, the one there confined was having a very friendly chat (under the circumstances) with the only son of He who had restrained him.

The day was warm, with cooling zephyrs playing tag, but all the animals and fish and avians seem to have, at some point, disappeared.  The flora remained (for the most part) although not in the bright shades of green mixed with myriad colors it had once worn, now, yellows and browns seemed to predominate.  Flying insects on the other hand seemed omnipresent. 

One of the two there on this particular occasion, the Son, was lying on the grass with his back resting on the trunk of one of two enormous trees, each the focal point of concentric circles.  The other, the very first eupodophis, was resting in the branches of the other tree.  Neither tree bore any fruit although myth has it that in the past, things were otherwise. 

“Past”!  Perhaps that requires an explanation.  Time doesn’t exist in Divine realms, rather, everything that ever was, is or will be occurred simultaneously (which can be confusing).  So “past is really just a place in the Divine continuum.  The problem, however, is that without time there can be no motion, and without motion, how does one go from place to place, how does one find anything?  One can’t really move to get anywhere.  Not even to scratch an insect bite.  That may be why the Divine (who some call Dad and others the Big Guy, among other things) has non-Divine realms with other rules: “physics some call them”, others call them “magic.  But the Garden is a sort of halfway house set firmly amidst the battling shadows cast by Chaos and the echoes of Order.

Like most children (relatively and figuratively and perhaps even literally speaking), the Son (Nachash always called him Yesh although his name was Yeshua) was very curious and loved to visit and chat with the sole remaining denizen of the Garden, Nachash (sometimes referred to as the Serpent who could not be charmed).  Yesh especially enjoyed asking about his family, small though it was (just three, and one, the Spook, was not really corporeal, although every once in a great while, he or she, its gender was never really clear, liked to appear as a white dove).  Nachash was a primordial creature both in and out of time and had apparently been coexistent with various alleged demiurges so had quite a store of tales to tell.  For example: although Yesh referred to the Big Guy as “Dad” and knew him as YHWH, Nachash had once explained that he’d not always had a “name”.  For a time (which meant in the temporal realm), in dealing with his creations in the temporal realms, He’d played with the idea of calling himself “I am that which was before Alpha and will be after Omega”, but that seemed a bit long and tedious, and anyway, on one particularly annoying occasion, when he’d been asked for his name repeatedly and insistently by an impudent nebbish, He’d blurted out, in anger, to stifle further inquiry, “I am who I am”, and the foolish male biped who’d been nagging him and who had a very limited vocabulary just assumed that was a name.  “YHWH” (יהוה pronounced yodh, he, waw, and he) in his primitive linear language, and so YHWH it became, but that purported name was never to be pronounced for some unfathomable reason, something about a ‘Tetragrammaton’.  How confusing is that?”

Nachash recalled that someone had once written a somewhat sacrilegious and hence fun ditty that YHWH for some reason found amusing.  It ran something like “I am what I am and that’s all that I am”.  Then went on to deal with something to do with semen (or seaman) and spinach.  Olive oil was in there too somewhere.  Hmm, semen and olive oil sounds sort of kinky.  Why the Big Guy unexpectedly found the whole thing amusing is curious but with Him one could never tell, … which is the way He liked it.

Anyway …

On this particular morning Yesh was wondering why the two trees he and Nachash were sort of occupying no longer bore any fruit, or for that matter, any leaves.  Just an enormous quantity of interlocking branches heavy with thorns.

“Funny story there” said Nachash.  It has to do with the aftermath of the saga of Adam, Eve and the apple.  I get a very bum rap there.  Your Dad decided that incident involved an experiment he’d rather not repeat and thus, except for me and a few guys guarding the gate, this Garden has been virtually abandoned for ages upon ages, thus, … no gardeners.

“Yeah, I’ve heard ‘that’ story a gazillion times, but never understood the thing about the apple, … Why an apple”?  “Why was the whole thing such a big deal anyway?”

“Ahhhh, uttered Nachash, “there lies a tale” (albeit not a tail).

A semidry stream of sorts waddled lazily nearby and Nachash wondered if he could somehow manipulate Yesh into turning some of it into wine, but, the water was pretty fetid.  Plus it was hard to get Yesh to do anything that wasn´t his own idea.  Still, … maybe later.

“Actually”, continued Nachash, “it wasn’t the big deal those stupid supposed seers who keep claiming that they’d written the revealed word of He whose name may not be uttered, claimed that it was.  Like most everything they said (and which was later mangled in transcription and translation), it was either the result of too much fermented fruit juice or else, just highly ‘creative’ writing to justify the ineffably unjustifiable.  But then, I’m a victim of their exaggeration so may not be totally objective. 

“It just started out as a wager.”

“The Big Guy loves to gamble but hates to lose; and He has a temper, oy vey iz mir, does He have a temper!  Ask the Edomites or the Sodomites (if you can find any; which you can’t), or the Gomorrahites.  Why is there so little made of the Gomorrahites nowadays?  Sodomy has made a big comeback lately but I don’t know of anything associated with Gomorrah.”

“Or the Nephilim” noted Yesh.  Or poor Lot!  I know, I know”.

“Yeah, poor Lot!  Another series of wagers we made.  He won the first part but He always seems to lose when it comes to women and curiosity.  Poor Ado, and after she put up with so much crap while the Big Guy and I were betting on whether or not Lot was really a straight up sort of guy.  I don’t think He’s ever really understood women.  I remember Lilith.  Man did she ever piss Him off!”

“Anyway, about apples, they’ve always been trouble when women are involved” observed Nachash, “look at what happened to that schmuck Paris in Asia Minor”.

“That wasn’t us though” noted Yesh, “Dad had nothing to do with that.  Eris and Apollo orchestrated that little “incident” and because Cassandra wouldn’t, … you know, … accommodate Apollo, he’d added a bit of oil to the fire.  Ten years and then, those jokes about the stuffed horse: ‘the gift that kept on giving’ (at least briefly); and then, ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’.”

“Yeah, .. accommodate, good choice of words Yesh.  Apollo can be a schmuck when he doesn’t get his way.  Hmmm, so, … speaking of accommodations, any truth to the rumors of you and that chick from Magdala?”

Yesh blushed and didn’t answer, at least not right away.  Then he explained that “Miriam was really into salted fish, her Dad’s business I think.  I really disliked the smell, it reminded me too much of Ado, so, … no, and anyway, you know, my “immanence” and all that didn’t exactly give us much hope for a future together.”

Nachash and Yesh grew quiet, both seemingly daydreaming, recalling things that had yet to happen, time being somewhat confusing and confused in the Garden.  After a while Nachash stirred and asked:  “So what did you do to get the Big Guy so damned pissed at you?  You don’t gamble do you?  I know you drink and like card tricks and prestidigitation, but ….?  I thought you knew better than to ‘cross’ Him (pardon the pun).”

“Not sure” answered Yesh.  Probably a generational thing.  He sent me down to the temporal realm; you know, to get the lay of the land but without ever getting laid, and to report back to him on my impressions.  Boy did I get impressed, all over my head, in my hands, on my feet, in my ribs.  He did not care for my reports, not at all.”

“I thought he was a bit too much of a stickler for rules that didn’t make any sense.  I mean, … no lobster?  He especially hated my emphasis on forgiveness and turning the other cheek rather than poking out someone’s eyes.  He might have been happier with Moe, Larry and Curly as his progeny.  But anyway, after three Hellish days, we were cool.”

“Yeah, he has a soft spot for you!  Not for me though.  Look at what he’s done to my limbs; and you know what happened to Luci and his friends, and to poor Cain and his parents.  And to the predeluvianites.”

“Luci” …, murmured Nachash ruminating.  You know, when Luci was reassigned to the role of Shaitan after the unpleasant episode upstairs he became the very first lawyer, the prototype, the archetype as old Joe Campbell will one day say.  Talk about curses all around!  The King of loopholes, the Prince of Lies but who never quite lies himself.  He doesn’t have to; he just confuses the Hell out of everyone.  Kind of like a politician.”

Yesh nodded, agreeing, but noticed that his stomach was rumbling.  He was apparently a bit hungry but knew better that to seek anything to eat in the Garden.  Anyway, he was enjoying the conversation, it was filling in some holes in his memory, or perhaps things he’d never understood, or perhaps, things he’d never known despite his derivative blend of omniscience and prescience.  Or perhaps it was all just a load of, … fascinating fiction.

Anyway (again) ….

“Did Luci have anything to do with that thing with the apples and the trees” he asked Nachash?  I was pretty young back then (comparatively speaking), and mainly hung around with the Spook.  Dad was distant in those timeless days, but then, that’s always been his nature, notwithstanding his omnipresence.  He and that fellow who keeps track of things for St. Nick.

“Oh yeah” replied Nachash, “the Yule voyeur.” 

“Better not to get into that, it makes me squeamish” observed Yesh (surreptitiously glancing around).  “So, how did the two of you get into gaming anyway?  I assume there were rules blocking some of Dad’s divine attributes.”

“Well, first of all, Luci was just learning the ropes way back then so he wasn’t involved, although he did play an indirect role.  And yes, your Dad promised to suspend both omniscience and omnipresence.  Of course, I had to rely on His good faith and the fact that His supposed omnibenevolence would keep him from cheating.  Anyway, the Big Guy had done a pretty thorough job evicting Luci and his friends, and the celestial havens were sort of void.  Not that He noticed.  He was entranced with His new toys, well, at least after he’d replaced Lilith with Eve.  He was sure He’d finally gotten everything under control and seemed to have gotten over that debacle with Luci.  I just wanted to make things interesting.  Things were boring with most of the fun guys gone.  So I bet the Big Guy that His new toys wouldn`t be able to resist His ‘you can have anything but some fruit or other but I won’t tell you why’ gambit.  You know Him better than anyone, which may not be saying much.  I think He’s also omni-inscrutable.  But despite all of his power, He has some blind spots, one being that He can’t conceive that He doesn’t always have total control over everything.”

“Well maybe except for cats,” observed Yesh.  “He likes cats even if they refuse to acknowledge Him.  Free will he calls it, … but only for cats.  That’s what humans have never understood.”

“Man was He pissed when he lost” laughed Nachash, “He wasn’t supposed to take it out on me but He did, even if He claimed it was just evolution at work.  You know He doesn’t really believe in evolution, He calls it ‘intelligent design’, rules don’t apply to Him, no matter what old Noah believes.

“But why cats” wondered Yesh? “And apples.”

Grinning, Nachash added “why not bananas or mushrooms or cucumbers?”

Yesh didn’t get it.  After all, his conception had been immaculate.  As he left, Yesh could hear Nachash softly singing: something that sounded like “… blasphemy, is getting the best of me, there goes my eyeball, into a highball, …” to the tune of a song that would someday be entitled, Jealousy.
_________

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Observations Concerning Intergenerational Relationships among Warm-Blooded Vertebrates on the Planet Terra in the Sol System

Query: Is procreation a duty?  If so, to whom?  Are there any corresponding or at least compatible duties owed by the procreated to their progenitors?

Response and Observations:

As to the first question:

Given the constancy of procreation, the answer is apparently yes, probably an imperative duty reinforced by instinct and by the profusion of related dopamine production associated with the act of procreation as well as thereafter as evinced by the predominance of activities to maximize preservation of the procreated. 

As to the second question:

In one sense the duty appears owed to the entire ecosystem but in concentric levels of importance given that beyond the closest nuclei, a destructive tendency appears towards destruction appears increasing in frequency at each level away from the nucleus.  In some species, the tendency towards destructive intra species aggression is even exhibited at the closest levels, hence the Cain and Abel myths among the species denominated humanoid.

As to the third question:

The answer is apparently not as, only during certain historical periods and limited primarily to humanoids, do the procreated concern themselves with the wellbeing of their progenitors once the progenitors’ utility has been exhausted and they instead become a burden.  This appears precisely the obverse of the instinctual behavior of progeny to their progenitors since for so long as the progeny remain a burden, progenitors usually subsume their personal welfare to that of their issue.

The latter is explained by a combination of physical and social factors.  There appear to be chemically driven psychological changes that create a rift between progenitors and progeny as progeny transition through adolescence.  Among humanoids, the chemical changes reinforced by social attitudes usually promote disdain for elders and a sense of rebellion in the young which make continued cohabitation uncomfortable (unless progeny fail to successfully attain independence, in which case they tend to linger in pre-adolescent modes).  The social impact of the foregoing tends to vary epochally with social pressures at times forcing a continued close familial association while at other times, such pressures constitute a divisive force.  Interestingly, in this regard, epochs seem to oscillate in pendulum fashion over several generations.  The most difficult periods occur as one cycle transitions into the next, frequently resulting in large scale societal convolutions and disruptions predicated on incompatible generational mores.

Conclusion:

Trusting that this clarifies certain apparently incoherent psychosocial tendencies among the inhabitants of Terra and the predilection for constant apparently irrational conflicts among humanoids, this summary report is respectfully submitted.

Mork
Resident Agent on Terra from the Orkian Federation

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Superciliously Serendipity or Serendipitously Supercilious

“What a world, what a world” cried the twin witches of East and West as, soaked in a transparent liquid that may have been water (but smelled a bit like a cheap American vodka knock-off), they melted.  Melted in a land other than Oz.  And of course, wicked though they might have been (and that’s debatable), they were certainly right.  That their viewpoints were otherwise quite different didn’t matter, didn’t matter at all.

Glenda?  She was oblivious, enamored of her reflection in a borrowed magic mirror and Dorothy, well, she was not really what she seemed.  The stories Toto could have told if only we’d understood what he was trying to say.  And of course, the Wizard was not a wizard at all.  Just a tool, a tool like most of us, singing of scarecrows, tin men and cowardly lions, ….

Oh my!

A question or a query or perhaps, an inquisition of sorts?  From the Bizzaro world on the other side of the looking glass, the one from which Alice, now safe with her Cheshire cat and “haberdashered” rabbit, had fled for a second time (after a much regretted but highly publicized return). Evidently a very powerful country was split into at least seventeen furious factions and all they could agree on was that the others were viciously vile, deliberately so, not merely mistaken, but evil, and deceptively so.

To wit, a casual neutral observer, could one be found, might ponder, and verily so.  Images in a purloined crystal ball come into focus, perhaps in a Palantir.  Very hazy images, very difficult to comprehend, not because of their different dictions or registers or accents, but because the cacophony in which they were emerged was so lacking in coherence and logic, so internally contradictory.  The scene becomes wavy the way dream sequences appeared in old black and white television programs, someone from another dimension, perhaps a comic book dimension, apparently a journalist, but a real journalist, not one of the professional entertainers charged with weaving narratives, although ….; anyway, he (or she, or it, gender seems hard to define) seems to be trying to make sense of what is happening, but not all that successfully.  The journalist is observing an apparently sane person separating rival mobs.  And we listen in.

Soooo ….

….  Just how different is believing that judicial investigations into allegations of electoral fraud were conducted improperly from believing that a criminal trial was conducted inappropriately? The truth is that the electoral and judicial systems, like almost all of our governmental institutions, are dysfunctional at best.  The truth is that they have become politicized, as have our means of mass communication.  Perhaps they always were.  Actually, no perhaps about it and such developments are neither accidental not natural but rather carefully and artfully orchestrated by those whom we’ve permitted to attain almost complete control over our lives.  A feat possible only because they’ve become so expert at dividing us and keeping us divided.  Perhaps that’s the real meaning of the allegorical Tower of Babel myth.

We, as a species, tend to be reactive rather than proactive and that makes it easy for those among us willing to plan and to strategize, to develop and implement tactics and then to wait patiently as they take root enabling “them” (the elusive but ubiquitous “they”) to successfully manipulate us.  When their fields have been prepared and carefully planted and nurtured, like good strategists, they cultivate the harvests that most benefit them, usually to our detriment.  Actually, we are those harvests, we are the fruit and grains that they reap, the cattle that they milk and then slaughter.  And like the “good” (a relative concept) domesticated comestibles that we are, we permit ourselves to be herded to our doom while we bicker among ourselves and chew our metaphorical cud

As in the case of any great lie, grains of truth as seasoning are essentials.  Those whose goal is our manipulation first find real social issues that require attention, issues such as racism, xenophobia, misogyny, the environment, inequality, inequity, injustice, corruption and impunity and then, rather than offer us solutions, they rub salt into every fissure to set us against each other while assuring that none of such issues are resolved.  The United States Civil War is a great example.  Elimination of slavery was never the issue, only its transformation and expansion into a caste system of serfs who believed themselves free, set against working stiffs who believed themselves free but somehow superior, all opposed to the huddled masses yearning to be free who invaded our shining shores, to then be en-serfed in their turn, all endowed with illusory rights, especially the right to believe that they controlled their own destinies.  And it all worked just fine, and will keep working as long as most of us never realize that we have other options, as long as we can be kept bickering and polarized and furious.

Racism and xenophobia and misogyny will never be eliminated by seeking to humiliate and ridicule others or by destroying the markers and mementos of our sorry history.  Mirages are not real and neither are sirens (except on police cars and firetrucks and ambulances).  Delusion, whether self-imposed, self-maintained or artificially orchestrated will not solve problems any more than we can successfully groom ourselves by looking at pictures of attractive people and wishing we were they, but then, solutions are not the goal, control is, and emotional manipulation works just fine for that.  Neither inequity nor inequality nor injustice can be minimized by self-delusion.  Nor can corruption nor impunity.  They’ll keep doing just fine in an information sharing system where misdirection is the key.  While Kant’s nightmare, perpetual war, is also key, it is war on every level that counts, not just war against other countries: gender wars and racial wars and religious wars and class wars and cultural wars; each works just fine, even wars against recreational drugs and poverty.  Poor Kant.

Poorer us.

Anyone who seriously believes that elections in the United States have ever been free of fraud is delusional and those who most vehemently insist that is the case are in all probability the ones who most carefully, studiously and assiduously orchestrate electoral fraud (while screaming that what they do is designed to assure that electoral participation is facilitated, common sense be damned, it’s always been overrated).  The same is true of anyone who believes that the criminal justice system actually functions in our best interests, or that the civil justice system will protect the righteous poor from the villainously powerful. 

Only relative power matters. 

But the delusional are many and very thoroughly convinced of their cognitive and moral superiority, whichever side they’re on.  Which is just fine for those who are really “woke”.  No, not the silly, self-centered, self-lauding, something-or-other-wannabes, but rather, their shepherds (and not in a positive sense).  We are imprisoned in cells of our own design, tightly clutching the keys than can set us free, but utterly convinced that to use them is not in our best interest.  That opening our cell doors to other perspectives will taint us and destroy that which we value.  We have been accustomed and acculturated to believe that the illusory security of the static is essential and that change in our perspectives is anathematic treason.  Treason to our masters who protect us from the others, the “others” who are a bit more evil than are they. 

An open mind is a terrible thing, an abomination.

We are a stupid species, let’s admit it!  And the universe might be well rid of us.  Our planet certainly would be.

*                             *                             *

Hmmm, the old fashioned television program again becomes wavy, the color returns, the journalist shakes his head and smiles ruefully at his audience, a perplexed, almost extinct species of fictitious flying simian warriors, now gainfully unemployed.

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Just Wondering on a Morning in Late October

He wondered what color “clean slates” were and just how clean most of them were, and just where one might acquire a “clean slate”?  Evidently there was a huge market in “fake clean slates”, but where could one find a real one, a legitimately “clean” slate.  And then he wondered whether it was possible to actually keep a clean slate, once acquired, clean.  Probably not, he decided, possibly impossible, which explained why they were so hard to find.  A used market in clean slates seemed oxymoronic, or perhaps just moronic.  If at all, one had to make them oneself.  But out of what he wondered?  Then he wondered if any enterprising self-help guru had ever written a treatise on the construction, care and maintenance of clean slates. 

Hmmm, there were self-help books on just about anything so why not this he wondered.  Of course, most self-help books were little more than dribble: aphorisms mixed with clichés and old wives tails in pretty packages.  He recalled the only honest self-help book he’d ever read, a tiny pamphlet really, one page long; actually, one conclusory sentence without much of a preface and absolutely no afterword.  He wondered if a pamphlet, as a literary form or genre, could be that short.  It dealt with the easiest way the author knew of to make a fortune.  His answer was: to write and successfully market a self-help book on the “Easiest Way to Make a Fortune”.  Whether or not it had any validity was of course irrelevant, which was the essential nature of self-help books.  So, … about clean slates?

Tabulas razas he supposed.

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Some Days Are Just Hell, or, My Least Favorite Sabbath

Soooo, ….

It had been a lousy Friday. The worst of my somewhat brief physical sojourn what with being whipped, forced to carry a heavy piece of wood all over town, being whipped again, then nailed to a cross, then, as if that hadn’t been enough, stabbed in the ribs with a spear to see whether or not I’d enjoyed the experience.  I hadn’t but Dad had refused to give me a hand.  Then I’d been taken down from the cross, sprinkled with herbs, wrapped in linen and sealed in a damp, cold cave.  At least it was fairly dry.  Hell of a place to wake up in but in fact, Hell was where I awoke very early the next day, I think it was just after midnight.  For some reason they like midnight there.  It was hot!  Not the ideal place for a rest after a harrowing day.  Interesting people there though, in fact, almost everyone who had ever lived, except for the few Dad had teleported to the penthouse was there.

Lucifer, the old Roman god of light and truth was there complaining that he was being transmogrified into Dad’s prosecutor, Shaitan.  A bunch of Dad’s old, discarded servants were there as well asking me just how long eternity was going to last.  I did my best to ignore them (which wasn’t easy).  Adam and Eve were there of course, with all of their progeny, which, well, included everyone.  Cain and Abel had made up, it had all been a misunderstanding, no one knowing about death and all.  Dad had sort of forgotten to explain just what and how final it was.  Bummer.  For some reason, everyone felt I was there to save them but I really had no intention of sticking around.  I wasn’t too excited to return topside either, not after the week I’d had, but evidently, before Dad would let me return home, I had to finish off a forty day sentence, make a bunch of vague promises, etc.  But after that, I was definitely not coming back, no matter what they expected.

I was thirsty as, pardon the pun, Hell, but no wine was to be had there at any price, just filthy boiling water mixed with Sulphur, and the omnipresent smell of rotting eggs.  For some reason I have to stick around until after the Sabbath is completed.  It’ll feel like more than one day let me tell you!  At least three.

Who can understand Dad’s inscrutable ways?  I confess that I can’t.  He loves being mysterious and never says things straight out.  Hard to know what he wants, which causes a lot of problems because he hates it when he doesn’t get his way!  I remember when he blew up this city, then turned one of his followers to stone for turning around, and then, a while later, flooded the whole place for forty days and forty nights.  He seems to like the number forty.  He stuck me in the desert once for forty days and forty nights to see if I’d break, but after a while, I just kind of blanked out.

Anyway, I’ve got a while to kill here before I’m let out so I think I’ll circulate, maybe chat with Lucifer to find our his side of the story.  That ought to take a while.

Ouch!!!  That smarts.
_______

I was going to write this using a fake name, popular way back then, I had Don Rickles in mind (he was no fan of the protagonist), but, what the heck, he has Santa working for him so he already knows everything.  Here goes nothing.  © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.  I hope “Dad” has developed a sense of humor.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.