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/.

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/.

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.

Masks and Dreams and ….

“Is there anything behind my mask” he asked himself, wondering whether, if he were writing this, the phrase should have been enclosed in quotation marks. 

Had there ever been anything behind his mask? 

He seemed to remember that once there’d been a great deal.  Once, when most things had been safely abed in the softly yielding world of the inchoate, or, he then wondered, “was that before he’d been born, when he’d been safely ensconced inside of his mother’s womb”?

If a mask, it was a changing thing, dynamic in a negative way.  “Yes”, changing quite a bit, getting older, fading, wrinkling, becoming less relevant.  “Strange”, he observed, that as one grew wiser, more full of knowledge and experience, one was perceived by those one had parented as more and more foolish and less and less relevant.  History seemed to claim that at some point way back when, that had been different and age had been associated with wisdom, and decisions had been made by the wise, but that was probably an inverse temporal mirage, “way back when” a mythical time never to be approached.

He smiled recalling when the shoe had been on the other foot.  How much wiser he’d felt way back, well, not quite when, but way back, … back in the sixties when we had all the answers and the “times they were a ‘changing and “you’d better start swimming” (“you” now being “they” or “them”) or you’ll sink like a stone ….”  And he wondered at the mask he then wore, and the masks that surrounded him, and the masks of those then so out of touch.

Then he wondered about other people, those whom he knew, those he read about, those he saw on television, and he wondered whether there was a difference in that regard between television personalities who claimed to be real and those who knew their characters were fictional, and then wondered which of the two were most real?  Certainly not the journalists, but that was another theme, another story, an anti-reality of sorts.

Masks and faces and masks.  He recalled reading about the handicapper general in Kurt Vonnegut´s prescient 1961 novel, “Harrison Bergeron”, and wondered why it wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as George Orwell’s paeans to dystopia, “Animal Farm” and “1984”?  They should have been the three musketeers of Cassandric literature he thought, but then, who the hell was he to ask?

“Cassandra”, hmmm, … the Trojan seeress and princess who was always right but never heeded, was she a mask as well?

Interesting that now everyone in fact had to wear a mask.  Protection against the pandemic, perhaps a permanent new style given that it might never recede, at least until the Democrats attained the presidency, and the Senate, and the House, and the Supreme Court, and all the state governments too, and all the local governments, in short, the beneficent dictatorship, and, having thrown the rascals out, all of “them”, or at least all of “them” who would not conform, then, as we’ve been promised, as with Nixon and the Vietnam war, the secret solution would be revealed and we’d all be well.  Well, of course, except for the millions who’d died.  Bad timing that.  And it’ll be off with our masks, at least the evident masks, the ones we’ll be fined if we don’t wear, which is fine with me, I certainly want to avoid the latest plague.

Hmmm, so, … about the ubiquitous “they” and “them”?  Were they just masks as well, hollow and empty and perhaps, ephemeral? 

He laughed, wondering how many people thought of “him” as one of “them”.  He walked to the mirror and stared, imagining all those he’d been and wondering how much of that imagining was remembrance.  Was any of it real or had he been born just now, filled with false memories, false emotions, false empathy. 

“Or” he pondered, was he the dream of an insane plant, were we all?

Then something strange occurred to him, profoundly sad he thought, but he wasn´t sure.  Perhaps it was full of hope given what purported reality had seemingly become.  Wouldn’t everything be better if we were in fact all just part of an insane plants nightmare?

But then, he thought, feeling a bit depressed, a bit let down:

What would happen when the plant awoke (or was it woke)?
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; 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 consultant 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.