Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oration on the Depravity of Man

Let heaven exist, though our place be in hell.
- Jorge Luis Borges

Born in 1995, he lived with his mother until, in 2005, the father received custody of both Christian and an older sister […] Christian was said to be in good health when he arrived, [… but] began to be punished almost immediately, and was regularly locked in a room in the basement. […] Christian was made to live inside a used metal dog cage. He allegedly was repeatedly struck and kicked by both his father and stepmother. When Christian tried to escape from the dog cage, his father reportedly secured it with seven locks. […] Christian's sister, according to the affidavit, was ordered to take care of the boy. She was instructed to feed him, unlock the cage and take him to the bathroom, force him to do exercises, and physically punish him for failing to follow orders. Police believe that anyone from outside the house who ever asked about Christian was told that he was being home-schooled. Sometimes Christian's hands were chained to the top of the cage; during one such occasion, according to the affidavit, he was crying, so his stepmother, as additional punishment, spray-painted his chained hands black. His health had started to deteriorate, and he had begun to soil himself, so he was kept naked except for a diaper. The only baths he was permitted were with ice-cold water, which made him scream. One punishment was to take him out of the cage and chain him by his hands and feet to an upright bed frame. His feet became numb, and it became difficult for him to stand. Food began to be denied him; […] The children were reportedly warned that if they told anyone about Christian, they would receive the same punishment. He learned to try to be quiet during his beatings, because if he cried out they would become even more brutal. In April of 2009, according to the affidavit, after Christian was too ill to eat, his father "punched him with full force several times in the front, side and back of his head before throwing him back in the cage." On the day that month he did not wake up, prosecutors allege, he was wrapped in black plastic garbage bags. His father and stepmother, according to the affidavit, drove to a wooded area, placed a Bible on his chest, covered him with quick-drying cement, and buried him in a shallow grave.
- Bob Greene, journalist for CNN

Once started, the burning of the Jews went on increasing. When people discovered that the stories of poisoning were undoubtedly true they rose as one against the Jews. First, on January 2nd, 1349 the citizens of Ravenburg burnt the Jews in the castle, to which they had fled in search of protection from King Charles, whose servants were imprisoned by the citizens after the burning. On January 4th the people of Constance shut up the Jews in two of their own houses, and then burnt 330 of them in the fields at sunset on March 3rd. Some processed to the flames dancing, others singing and the rest weeping.
- Heinrich von Diseenhoven (ca.1350)

Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in. The Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. […] when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live because she hid the messengers we sent. […] So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it. Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.
Joshua 6:1-21

Court records show that in 1984, four years after Mahony became bishop of Stockton, O'Grady told his therapist he had fondled a 9-year-old boy. The therapist alerted child welfare officials, and police opened an investigation. O'Grady took the 5th Amendment when asked during the deposition what he told his therapist. But he testified that Mahony was out of town at the time, so he told the bishop's second-in-command about the investigation. He said the official sent him to talk to the diocese's lawyer. The child, who had been asleep during the alleged molestation, said he was unaware of any abuse, and police declined to file charges. Court records show, however, that police said an attorney for the diocese promised that O'Grady would be transferred to a job where he would not have contact with children, and that he would be sent to therapy. O'Grady testified that Mahony sent him to a psychiatrist for an evaluation, which the cardinal has acknowledged was the church's standard operating procedure at the time for handling pedophile priests. Almost immediately thereafter, O'Grady said, Mahony transferred him to a parish in San Andreas, about an hour outside Stockton. Mahony later promoted him to pastor.
- Jean Guccione, LA Times Staff Writer

I have never heard of a crime that I could not imagine committing myself.
- Goethe

There's no such thing as life without bloodshed, ... I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.
- Cormac McCarthy

I…set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given the sons of men to be afflicted with. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted…and I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Held Four Hydras

Behold the lady of the garden,
her white and downturned face a thousand years sacred.
Behold her dim entangled radiance,
the hood and the robe,
the blossoms at her feet.
Behold her,
her and not the hydras nearly slain.

I held them, here in my hands
and they died in my grasp.
Died as maws grew afresh from the ragged things,
gangrene and necrotic from birth.

Do not look upon them, those parasites of the flesh.
Instead see the lady,
who could not answer even would I ask.
Behold instead her ancient sanctity,
her adoration cold and silent.

I held them, and their venom was dear to me
Have you seen her, in the garden, upon the mountain, on the road to god knows what city?
Found is the soul and found is the shrine
Her beheld, lit in the evening

The Middle of Next Week

He thought he saw a rattlesnake
That questioned him in greek
He looks again and found it was
The middle of next week
The one thing I regret, he said
Is that it cannot speak
- Lewis Carrol

Sitting in his dorm he heard a curt knock and rose to answer; upon opening the door he saw himself. Dressed in clothes he knew to be clean in his dresser. The band t-shirt he rarely wore, the black jeans – the only pair he had owned in the past decade. These are the things he thought of, and that novelists have it wrong; you don’t try to kill the thing or leap out the window or collapse onto the floor comatose. You just accept it. Cannot be real and will understand soon. The analyst in you demands data so you speak.
How are you wearing my clothes?
These are my clothes. Should I come in?
Yes, yes you should.
He stepped inside and closed the door behind him, stood awkwardly hovering and glancing at the window.
You are going to wish you had offered me a seat.
He sat on his roommate’s bed, he pulled over a chair. He was seated but had hardly relaxed at all, as if his weight was still on his feet.
Are you a hallucination?
Maybe, I’m you in four days.
Those clothes are still in my drawer then.
There are two of them as there are two of us.
He could have checked but he didn’t.
How long are you staying?
I’m not sure.
Was this your choice or is it just happening to you the way it is to me?
No, I chose it. You might too.
And you did this why?
Thought I might be able to help.
He spoke it almost as a question.
With what?
In twenty minutes you are going to have to come back up the elevator to get your lab goggles and tomorrow you are going to forget to write your history discussion questions.
And I’ll do these things no matter what?
No, you can change them. It’s why I came.
Anything else? Or will these things change something?
Not really. Maybe in a long time. I didn’t have long to think about this, I’m just trying to come up with mistakes I made in the last four days.
Any big ones?
Employment opportunities I will miss, people I will alienate, women I should declare my love to.
No. Well-
Not her, I’m not saying anything to her.
You’re going to see her in line as you are getting dinner and then sitting by herself when you leave. You’re going to think that she’s waiting for someone, she was ahead of you so she’ll leave soon anyways, things have been weird this quarter anyways, but these are insignificant and you know it. You’re just being a coward.
So it’s one of those ‘take a chance, you never know what may happen’ speeches?
No, it’s one of those do what you want for once in your life instead of what’s easiest and stop worrying about what she’ll think of you.
But you didn’t sit by her?
Did she look-
He spoke spoke the word his face downturned and his voice low.
You stood there for a second didn’t you, she wasn’t facing you?
Yes. No. She wasn’t.
His mood was coming down, whatever he had hoped for this it wasn’t happening.
And I’m going to see the same thing.
And why, when you did nothing, will I not?
I don’t know.
She was beautiful?
As always.
But especially right then?
It would be easier if she wasn’t.
It would.
So why am I going to do this? I want it. You wanted it. But neither of us enough, neither had any reason to think things will turn out.
You probably won’t.
But I should. You came to tell me I should, but you say I won’t.
If you did it wouldn’t matter, there’s such a small chance that it would change things.
There is a way I could find out-
You can’t burden her with that, you have no right.
True. But were you not just telling me to act selfishly? You didn’t keep it to yourself to save her from embarrassment. You didn’t do it for the same reason you haven’t done everything else for the past twenty years. You, I, don’t give control to another person, I would never throw myself at someone’s feet.
I remember thinking about that, working that out at night when I was trying to go to sleep. It’s all very nice, and maybe it’s true, but it has no practical expression. Are you going to give up control just because now you can see it’s effect on you?
I might.
It’d be like climbing that wall at Vantage, you can go for it, make the leap, give up control, but you will only gain a meter, likely less, and it won’t be any easier next time. You’ll have to keep doing that most difficult thing at every opportunity.
This is what I think about in the next four days?
While you are zoning out on the Avicenna reading thinking about her.
She’s so much cooler than Avicenna.
Yes, she is, she’s much cooler than most people.
But not those two.
She comes close though, more so than most.
It’s weird to be talking about this, kind of refreshing.
I can’t stay.
Are we losing time four days from now?
No, but you need to get to class and not forget your goggles.
Right, yes, I should be leaving.
I’ll walk with you.
Can other people see you.
So I’ll be talking to myself.
Can’t be any worse than what they already think of you.
True, the thermals might be a mistake.
Fuck them, that random guy at the bus stop knew you were a hiker.
He did, that was weird.
Yes, it was. You forgot your goggles.
Can you hold the elevator?
I’ll be right back.

- or alternately -

upon opening the door he saw… a window where the hall had been. He steadied himself against the doorframe as the view soared over the landscape. Lake Washington, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, the Sound, and the city gone. As if it had never been built. And the forest three thousand miles beside the ocean.