Reality Rises Like the Mist
-DW Twiddy

Part 1: Nothing Is Trivia

This work is composed of two parts, and each part is composed of paragraphs, and each paragraph is composed of sentences, and each sentence is composed of words, and each word is composed of letters, and each letter is composed of pixels, and each pixel is composed of liquid crystal, and each liquid crystal is composed of hydrocarbon molecules, and each hydrocarbon molecule contains, among others, atoms of carbon, and each atom of carbon contains a nucleus of six protons, and each proton is composed of two up quarks and one down quark, and each quark is, assuming contemporary theories of physics are accurate, a vibrating string.

Here we are, down among the strings. Welcome! Take a seat, grab your choice of hot beverage. While I have you here, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you: what did you think about the latest issue of Lubes and Greases magazine?

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Welcome to the Library You See In Dreams. How you found the place or why you’re here, I can’t imagine.

I’m the Librarian, alias LYSID. It’s a pleasure to meet you. The purpose of the library, such as it is, is to give a venue to what I call my philosophy & poetry and other sundry thoughts. See, I once wrote Science Fiction and Fantasy short fiction, but gave that field up as too lucrative and mainstream (/sarcasm) . What I’m trying to do now is build a picture of the world as I understand, to sing that picture. Not because I think this will be some great boon for humanity. Because it seems to be what I do, and what I’m led to do. In an everchanging world of almost eight billion, that’s as good a reason as any.

For now, the foundation of that picture is laid out in the Apologia:

That’s where you want to start. Part #1 gives a still-current justification for me saying anything at all.

Another philosophical piece is The Problem of Information, a theme on which I shall build in the future. The Unprecedented Era (part 1 and part 2) straddles philosophy and history, shading toward the more straightforward historical view found in my snapshots of American history: Alien Americas.

I have written two juxtagraphs, “a prose poetry form best described as ‘a collage of facts.'” The first was on the Boston’s MBTA mass transit system and the second on the universally relevant subject of oil.

On the lighter side, there’s humor. Here’s one bit of which I’m fond, a filk about public art.

To spice things up, I blog about my dreams. Like the one about Buckaroo Banzai. Or the Armenian activist leader woman.

To all visitors, I tip my hat. Please pray for me, and I shall for you.

The truth is
I don’t stand a chance
It’s something that you’re born into
And I just don’t belong

Weezer’s Beverly Hills has been on the radio often lately. It’s a song I enjoy. Last night, after listening to it, I wondered what it would be like to walk the actual sidewalks of the place that was, in my youth, a metonymy for wealth.

Then it struck me that I could. The magic of Google Maps gives me wings, allows me to flit across the continent like an angel.

Which I did. I used Google Earth to stroll the streets of 90210. I wandered the blocks, dodged the cars, scanned the driveways and doorways.

To be honest, most of Beverly Hills resembles Arlington, Massachusetts, with palm trees.

This is not what Beverly Hills Teens promised me

Certainly there is a great deal of money in Beverly Hills. But there is money in many places, vaster and quieter. That we, when we think of money, are pointed toward Beverly Hills is part of the puzzle.

We must never mistake symbol for fact. Yet we do, frequently.

More on Beverly Hills later.

There is an idea called “The Unprecedented Era” that I consider very important to understanding our present world. I once tried to explain it, but looking at that post now, what I wrote was a little too elaborate. So this is a restatement in plainer language.

We live in a period of time characterized by its ever-changing and unprecedented nature. Although obviously, every time is unprecedented in its own way, the gap between the past two hundred years (approximately) and the rest of human history is so great that it cannot be crossed. We are different. We must acknowledge this difference.

For the first time in human history, the majority of the population is not dedicated to agriculture. For the first time in human history, we understand the workings of the human body and the cause of disease. For the first time in human history, we have real knowledge of the structure of the world and the universe. No one born previous to our time could understand us; we cannot understand them.

In the centuries leading up to the Unprecedented Era, the process of science began to discover real, usable information about the universe. When this information began to be put in use in technology, the Era began. Change begat change, rolling waves of change, change in every aspect of our lives, moving across the globe, reaching and connecting all humanity—whether or not they wanted that change.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the Unprecedented Era, all earlier examples of human history are no longer useful. For example, we see folks, worrying about the fate of the United States, compare the situation to the fall of the Roman Empire. But this is useless. We are so far detached from the context of Late Antiquity—in life spans, in technology, in knowledge—that there can be no comparison. Invoking the “Fall of Rome” can have no use other than the purely rhetorical.

The Unprecedented Era can be characterized as Protean and Adolescent, a time when everything is being continually originated and formed. Due to this, it can be difficult to be an “adult” in the Unprecedented Era, because the social context learned as a child is being constantly undermined by change. Gaps open between generations, each new age cohort thinking they understand better than the last, only to find themselves overthrown in turn.

New identities become possible. Identity formation has always happened, but not at the dramatic rate allowed by the permutations of ideas, facilitated by communication, on a scale of billions. There are more ways to be a human being now than ever before, far more, and they keep generating themselves.

In such upheaval, humanity is in a continual process of experimentation and discovery. Every day we live, we are effectively asking “Does this work?”, testing our ideas, our livelihoods, our societies. Not all the experiments turn out well, and some have ended horribly: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Maoist China. We must be careful. Yet the change will necessarily continue, so there is no way not to try something new. We can at least try to make change humane—and often have.

How shall we react to the fact of the Unprecedented Era? Well, we’re humans, which means we will have the full range of reactions. Some will be thrilled to embrace the new, some will find the constant earthquake to be hellish. If I were going to give advice, I would say: don’t get too used to anything, things you like as well as things you don’t like. Either may disappear or be transformed into something unrecognizable.

How will this all end? We can’t know. I would not be surprised if humanity doesn’t realize the Unprecedented Era has ended until the even is well into hindsight. For the moment, though, the earthquake continues.

  • It’s been almost two months since I posted a “Thoughts.” I’ve intended to make one last one, just to wrap things up.

Part of the reason I have not is that doing so would imply a false finality. We’re not anywhere near done. I hate to say it, but my description of our situation so far matches reasonably closely to what I described in this post. We have found a new normal, and it is continuous coronavirus.

The cases amass, all around the world. Meanwhile the economic and political upheaval swells. The worst is still to come on that front.

  • Here in Massachusetts, the situation is much better that it was three months ago. Our transmission rate is one of the lowest in the country. Our hospitals are in the clear.

Which makes a dangerous time, and people sense it. If we let our guard down now, the virus can come back. We can return to how bad it was in April. The tension has not left.

  • In my dreams, I sometimes realize I’m in a crowd, full of unmasked people, and get nervous. I hear that people I love are infected and wake up relieved it isn’t so.

  • I was wrong with this post. This thing can smolder on and on, like a low-grade electrical fire. Even in Europe, it could flare back up again. Will it be under control by Thanksgiving? By Christmas? By this time next year? Is the idea of controlling it illusory?

  • The human cost is not just the death rate. Coronavirus inflicts damage in four ways: mild case, incapacitation (several weeks) without longterm damage, incapacitation with longterm damage, hospitalization, and then death. The first categories are far larger than deaths.

  • Zika. Ebola. Lyme Disease. SARS. MERS. EEE. Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. West Nile Fever. HIV. Hantavirus.

During the 20th century, it seemed like infectious disease might be conquered once and for all. That time is past. Humanity’s endless war against the microbes is only entering a new phase. Both sides have gotten more skilled, and meaner.

  • We are living through a Thing. The history books will speak of The Pandemic of 2020 as a discrete phenomenon. But we can’t know what they’ll say about it. That depends too much on what has yet to come. We’re in it, but we don’t know what it is, as far as how future generations will define it. We are ignorant of ourselves.

In every age humanity finds sages and martyrs, those who put their bodies to the wheel, those who act as rudders to the ship of Humanity.

And we might cry out to Heaven, “Lord! Grant me strength to be a sage or martyr!”

But this is not a worthwhile prayer.

For the number of sages and martyrs can be counted on one hand, and often happens accidentally. The odds are far better that you will not be a sage or a martyr, but, rather, one who witnesses them.

Pray therefore: “Lord! Grant me the strength to respond properly to the sages and martyrs! That I might walk in their way!”

Which is truly a worthwhile prayer.

Yesterday, in the distance, I saw warplanes of the United States Air Force fly over Boston. And I knew that, if this were a tactical air strike, this is what it would look like. In my mind’s eye, I could see the ordnance fall from the hardpoints, imagine the bombs detonating in the streets of Downtown and Back Bay.

Today, in the distance, I saw the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. For the first time since the pandemic started, our pastor celebrated the Eucharist during our online worship. Though I could not receive the bread and wine physically, I could witness the Elevation, and gain solace and balm from the Presence of the Lord.

The nations of this world, the princes of the upper air, bring death. But the Eucharistic Work of God bring life, and new life, and love through life. May the former retreat further from us, and the latter come ever closer, until we may finally join with God in the fullness of all things.

(This post contains major spoilers for the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. If you have not watched the series, and wish it to remain a surprise, you should not read further.)

In this Covid season, I have been watching anime with my kids. Particularly with my 12-year-old son, who likes mecha stories.

One could say my boy is not old enough to watch so intricate and intense a series. But I remember that when I was 12, I was already dabbling in many things of which my parent knew nothing. Preteens are natural intitates into the esoteric. So I decided to act as his Virgil here.

And in guiding him, I found my own thoughts.

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion really is a masterpiece. The elevators and escalators. The skewing of tropes. The gushings. The grandeur and the horror. The ballet-like combat. The intricacy of character. Eva deserves all the praise it gets.
  • Eva is not what it was supposed to be. The basic summary of the series, the TV Guide version, is: “Children pilot giant robots against alien invaders to save humanity.” Which is entirely accurate except it’s 100% false. It’s a feint. It’s how it was presented to the anime viewing audience to draw them in, whereupon it cut off their heads.
  • What is Eva is a story of Αποκάλυψη. Eva manifests both meanings of the word: “the end of the world” and “unveiling, revelation.” The world of Eva has ended. It ended on September 13th, 2000. The series is the unfolding of the working of that end. In a way, everything we see in the episodes is lagniappe. But Eva is also about revelation, revelation to the characters as to the viewer, revelation of NERV and SEELE, of Evas and Adam, of the Human Instrumentality Project. We live their revelation.
  • In that, Eva is the fulfillment of our worst fears of the present time: that we have already passed the point of doom, we are now merely working out the mechanisms of apocalypse. So we see it here.
  • If you wish to be cold about it, Eva embodies two dead mythos: Judaism/Christianity and Freudian psychoanalysis. The fossils of both litter the series as the failed Evas do the boneyard in Episode 21.
  • This is not the first time I’ve watched the series. I was in my late twenties then. Yet I remember little. It makes sense now. I understand, in a way I couldn’t.
  • When you’re young, apocalypse has an adolescent appeal–first because you can’t see how the world can go on (having too little experience in understanding how it got that way in the first place), second because you have less to lose. With age come a truer grasp of what Apocalypse might entail, and how horrible it would be.
  • The second half of Episode 26 is also a feint.
  • Someone made an Anime Music Video matching Eva with The Doors’ “The End.” It’s one of the most appropriate AMVs I’ve ever seen. I’ve written before that “The End” evokes Apocalypse to me, and the sight of the series footage behind the song brilliantly elucidates that.

This is The End,
Beautiful friend
This is The End,
My only friend
The End

Congratulations, Shinji!

Everybody, clap for Shinji!

Of our elaborate plans
The End
Of everything that stands
The End
No safety or surprise
The End

Clap for Shinji!

C’mon, clap! Everything will be happy as long as you’re clapping!

Congratulations, Shinji!

CLAP!

This is The End.

It is what can be said of the Christian Gospel that the revelation of God will always come of the greatest shock to those who thought they knew God best.

Which may be extended to any ideal. That those who exhort most furiously do so because they do not actually understand. That, confronted with it, they will be shocked by the marrow of what they exhort.

The great thing about parodying Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run” is that it doesn’t give a crap about proper meter or rhyme, so you don’t have to either.

Here’s a story ’bout a new rabbit warren
The kind of place where the does aren’t
They sit around the down, laze, and chew their pellets
Here’s what happened when they decided to get zealous

They headed down to Nuthanger Farm
Saw a cat that might do them harm
They got the latch, they freed the hutch
Hazel-rah told the bunnies to run

Go on, take the bunny and run
Go on, take the bunny and run (Woo, woo, woo!)
Go on, take the bunny and run
Go on, take the bunny and run

Woundwort is the tyrant of Efrafa
Got a head that’s full of hraka
He’s not gonna let his does join Bigwig
They have to stay in his dystopia

Bigwig, whoa, whoa, he slipped away
With a bunch including Hyzenthlay
The white bird aided in their getaway
They reached a place where they were free to silflay

Singin’
Go on, take the bunny and run
Go on, take the bunny and run
Go on, take the bunny and run
Go on, take the bunny and run…