subota, 2. lipnja 2012.

Kahn & Selesnick - Tricksteri povijesti i budućnosti

Luđački zanimljivo, jedna od najboljih stvari u svemiru i okolici. Nicholas Kahn i Richard Selesnick stvaraju lažne povijesne izvještaje u formi fotografije, teksta, skulpture i instalacije. Miks povijesnih činjenica, apokaliptične budućnosti i steam punka. Astronauti na Mjesecu otkrivaju ostatke edvardijanske ekspedicije. Dvije žene šetaju Marsom i otkrivaju čudne artefakte. Tajanstveni slojevi ispod vidljivog. Divlja postapokalipsa u Škotskoj... Čovječanstvo je zaglavilo u prostoru i vremenu.

Unitard Fabulists Adrift: Kahn & Selesnick on the Hourglass Sea

Kahn & Selesnick Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea at Yancey Richardson Gallery
January 6 – February 19, 2011.

Kahn & Selesnick, Cave, 2010. Archival Ink Jet Print, 44 x 44 inches.  Courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery
Kahn & Selesnick, Cave, 2010. Archival Ink Jet Print, 44 x 44 inches. Courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery
Kahn & Selesnick fabulize at the intersection of historical fact, apocalyptic future, nerdy museology and steam-punk.  Melding childlike playfulness with adult obsessiveness they create faux-historical narratives realized as photography, sculpture, and installation.
Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea, currently on view at Yancey Richardson Gallery, depicts the adventures of two unitard-attired women as they explore an unwelcoming landscape studded with the defunct remains of ambiguous circuitry, abandoned dish-structures, and enigmatic monoliths.  Most of the works are photographs, including a few of the detailed panoramic scenes that the team is known for.  Five mid-size dry-looking hematite and concrete sculptures are positioned on the gallery floor, as though the exploring team had managed to send back a few heavy artifacts from the crumbled civilization they investigate.
The environment was digitally constructed from actual photo-mosaics of Martian landscapes taken by NASA, combined with deserts in Nevada and Utah.  The female protagonist’s clothing is compellingly impractical- many outfits lack arms or eye-holes, though concessions to the necessity of breathing are plentiful – every bodysuit comes equipped with a facemask, and snakelike tubes coil around an “Abandoned Oxygen Farm” and lie tangled in shallow lakes.  This Mars has water, and hence, the ability to sustain life- though judging by the occasional space-suited corpse, not forever.
Kahn & Selesnick, Squidnight, 2010. Archival Ink Jet Print, 12 x 12 inches.  Courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery
Kahn & Selesnick, Squidnight, 2010. Archival Ink Jet Print, 12 x 12 inches. Courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery
With Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea, Kahn & Selesnick have departed from previous more “academic” displays – where labeled artifacts were carefully presented in display cases and copious documentation of the expedition was presented in the form of a diary or log, or elaborately forged newspaper articles.  Their new deliberate ambiguity liberates the earthbound preoccupations of artist and viewer alike, allowing suspension of disbelief.   Oddly this suspension both strengthens the impact of the show, and allows it to be perceived more intuitively.  When rules of space and time are too obviously suspended, as in Oracle, 2010, where a blue-clad figure regards a half-sphere upon which stands a blue-clad figure regarding a half-sphere, and so on like self-consciously meta- Russian nesting dolls it’s hard not to be jolted by the impossibility – a sign of prior credence.
Kahn & Selesnick’s ongoing interest in inefficient transportation extends beyond the recurring motifs of balloons and dirigibles to gliders and “sandboats.”  Humankind has made it to Mars, but with technology from the turn of the 20th century.  This is the second series where the team has combined science fiction and space travel with archaic means – in The Apollo Prophesies, man lands on the moon, only to discover that it has already been colonized by an expedition from the Edwardian era.
If, as the artists presuppose, humankind has truly come unstuck in time and place, as the hourglass of the title is endlessly flipped end to end, we must address the unsettling question: Is Mars’s past our present?  If so, is Mars’s present, Earth’s future?
One might conjecture that the team’s recurring choice of explorers as protagonists reveals something of their psyches – the artist as intrepid traveler in a strange land – but Kahn & Selesnick do separate reality from art in “real” life (unlike say, McDermott & McGough.)  It is only in their art that there is no division between fact and fabrication.  The distinction is irrelevant – to belabor it would be missing the point. In art, unlike life, there is no physical or temporal limitation.

The Apollo Prophecies

A CD arrived in the mail yesterday from Nicholas Kahn, containing a collection of images from Kahn & Selesnick’s new series: The Apollo Prophecies.
This installation features a continuous ten inch by thirty-six foot long black and white panoramic photograph depicting astronauts from the 1960s traveling to the moon and back. While on the lunar surface they discover a lost Edwardian expedition that may or may not be real. It was shot and assembled on sets or on location with miniature models and live actors. We are using the narrative techniques of Italian fresco cycles of the early Renaissance such as Masaccio’s Brancacci Chapel cycle. The story is told in multiple episodes featuring the same characters, appearing numerous times, within a single long panel. The use of this quasi-religious format echoes the concept of astronauts as gods.
Some snippets from this panorama follow below: click on them to see larger sections of the ‘single long panel’, bearing in mind that the full-size images are quite large, and may take some time to download.
Detail from the 'Lift Off!', section of a panoramic photograph from Kahn & Selesnick's 'Apollo Prophecies' series.
Detail from the 'Trip', section of a panoramic photograph from Kahn & Selesnick's 'Apollo Prophecies' series. *
Detail from the 'Part 2', section of a panoramic photograph from Kahn & Selesnick's 'Apollo Prophecies' series.
Detail from the 'Part 3', section of a panoramic photograph from Kahn & Selesnick's 'Apollo Prophecies' series.
In addition to the long panoramic photograph there is a mass installation of small drawings and photographs. These feature Edwardian photographs of moon rocks, schematic drawings and design notes, portraits of astronauts, beaked and ‘debeaked’ i.e. Edwardian and Aquarian, ephemera, etc.
'Glassware Collection', photograph from Kahn & Selesnick's 'The Apollo Prophecies'. 'Wings and Stars', photograph from Kahn & Selesnick's 'The Apollo Prophecies'. *
'Redon Moon', sketch from Kahn & Selesnick's 'The Apollo Prophecies'. 'Astronaut', sketch from Kahn & Selesnick's 'The Apollo Prophecies'.
Sculptural pieces are intended as artifacts of the Edwardian expedition. The exhibition at Pepper Gallery includes a large Edwardian lunar rover constructed of wood, featuring an expandable McCroskeyen bellows pump, protective metal helmet hood, pig iron chamber pot, and optional carved yoke for oxen, man, or horse. Also featured is a long display cabinet containing samples of lunar rock and dust along with a large pile of cans of Edwardian moon paste, a devotional palliative/exfolliate with curative properties.
'Moon Paste Pyramid', part of Kahn & Selesnick's 'The Apollo Prophecies' installation.
All images are Copyright © Kahn & Selesnick, and are reproduced here with permission. The Apollo Prophecies will be on show at the Pepper Gallery in Boston until June 19th." - Giornale Nuovo



THE DREAM OF ASTRONAUT CHARLES DUKE: "We were driving the Rover north towards the Ray Crater. As we came over one of the ridges we discovered a set of tracks out in front of us going east-west. We got very excited, told Houston, and they gave us permission to follow the tracks. You could tell by the tread marks that the vehicle was going to the east. So we turned right, to the east. And towards the eastern end of the valley we came upon this vehicle that looked very similar to the Lunar Rover, with two figures seated in it. We radioed that we'd found this car, we start to describe it, and they start to get very excited. So we stopped the rover and turned the TV camera on. I ran over to the vehicle and pulled up the visor of one of the astronauts and found I was looking at myself. The other fellow looked like John [Young]. We took some samples of the spacesuits and the rover and brought them back to earth. When these were analysed by scientists they turned out to be hundreds of thousand of years old. It was such a vivid dream that I didn't tell my wife [Dotty] about it until I actually got back from the moon. But I remember when we got to lunar orbit and first saw our landing site, I looked down to see if I could see a set of tracks, going east to west." 

gort domes von braun vidhelm slugs guston
crescents hats sputnik gargarin plath astronaut
kungfu 2earths asteroids redon chart atoms
nasa skate blur astronaut fiery orb astrogod
gloves rocks crocodile stones wings tintin
dresser giotto mummies rover sled crullers

The first (space program) civilization built great ruins; impressive for their size, ambition, and the promise of what-had-been before the decay.
Twelve civilizations gloried MARE TRANQUILITAS. Properties in the space of orbits were passed down from astronaut to cosmonaut, astronaut’s wives held the sole right of divorce. When the wife’s satellite was exposed to the VAN ALLEN BELTS, the astronaut’s was placed beside her. . .
The computer programmers arose, plenteous in the sprawl of the towns, and sprawled across the rocky hillsides. The greatest of the computer programmers was GODARD, whose works were often deeply political. Much of what remained dealt with his awe at the variegated SYLVIA PLATH of computer programmers and men.
Nine civilizations gloried LUNA. The space of orbits was visited frequently, and objects of luminescence and beauty filled Gemini 1. Astronauts and astronaut’s wives wore false beards (corona). Plenitude flourished until overthrown by the command module pilot lift-off-mongers, defleeced by the staff and beaks.
The moon was latent, even crystalline, until perturbed by the AGONY OF GAGARIN . . .
The ancient command module pilot lift-off-mongers: SCHMITT, ARMSTRONG, SHEPARD, and GAGARIN; these were the ALDRIN-Men. Their power was very great, and they did split the world into four: MERCURY, GEMINI, SOYUZ, and APOLLO. The world was crocodiles, boars, and LOVELLs.
Then GAGARIN did discover the use of the All-Seeing Eye, and when SCHMITT, ARMSTRONG, and SHEPARD saw this, and discovered this, they worshipped GAGARIN and brought him offerings of fruit and wine. Their lands grew cold, and little did grow in them, so fully did they love GAGARIN. But GAGARIN knew that his triumph would only bring evil to the world, and he used the great plow SOYUZ to sow the seed of hatred into MERCURY. Then GAGARIN was much reviled. In a heated fury, ARMSTRONG and SHEPARD stole SOYUZ and threw it down to the earth, which killed many boars and created the hole in the sea. All the lands fruited . . .
But even after the fruiting of the four space programs, GAGARIN found in this no joy. For omniscient GAGARIN possessed knowledge of all present and future pasts. Thus joy, sadness, surprise, anger, hatred and mirth were erased from his countenance. Only frustration, looming and sore, began to penetrate into his mind. GAGARIN found no usefulness in thought or contemplation, and did lay his great, brown pilot to die.
In this hour of great and august circumstance, the MONKEY slowly arose from the mists of MARE NECTARIS (for there he had been forged, by their very hands, for the purpose!) and came to scratch out the eyes of GAGARIN.
GAGARIN arose, full of mirth, and declared in a resonant tone: “Monkey, Monkey! You have freed me from knowledge! You have freed me cowardly demise! I will reward you, as you have rewarded me, with a great and bloody festering!”
Now GAGARIN did not know what was to transpire, and thus LOVELLs, crocodiles, and boars obtained freedom of mind and will.
This is as the common saying “The world began anew, through the ignorance of GAGARIN.”
The COMMAND MODULE PILOT suffers from no less than seven distinct, easily-diagnosed, terminal psycho-pathologies. Like spacemen, their cultures were buried across the landscapes of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Always the launch-pad is chanting, rhythm. Motions are circular, words elliptic. Consciousness enters the space of orbits, NASA, NASA. The pilot is changed; the mind is changed; the adornments of the pilot are changed.
Gripping. ASTRONAUTS must be forcibly extracted from space, from the launch-pad, before their bodies rot of thirst, wind, and hunger.
Life in the launch-pad, life outside the launch-pad: disjoint. The object in the space of orbits has no formal counterpart, no correlative phenomenon in the world of word, grain, motion.
The eyes shut.
They reopen, but what of it? For nothing pins the space helmet to the pilot as does the vivacious consciousness, and this, it is as fleeting as the blinking eye, the rinsing of color from the mind’s surface. Death and Rebirth: the eye, open and shut.
Give heed to the eyelid, number its motions as it recoils from the frightful earth. Number, too, the swell of the stomach, and the prickling of itches as they break out upon the thermal insulation. Boils: number these most fondly of all.
GAGARIN did number the blinkings of the ALL-SEEING EYE, and this, thricely done a thousand times, won him access to the dread capsule. For the eye, too, was command module pilot, and her space, pluripresent, contained wonders beyond number . . .
Beyond the great space helmet-launch-pads of ARMSTRONG (The launch-pad of Blinking, The Sneeze-launch-pad, The launch-pad of the Falcon-Feather) will forever dwell the nation-launch-pads . . .
When great political upheaval beckons in the surrounding society, the ASTRONAUTS act as wild beasts: run amok as elephants, space programs, lions. Finding prey - members of rival factions - the beast-ASTRONAUTS maim, kill, and partly consume. Soon, the leadership of one faction is so brutally decimated that the upheaval finds its terminus. In many JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY doms, the launch-pad of the Wild Beasts has preserved the ARMSTRONGnity of life for centuries, preventing strife and lift offs of succession . . .
The Relevance of Wood in launch-pad Practice has always stemmed from the hallowed status of trees, their eternal perforation of sky . . .
The command module pilot births, the command module pilot nurtures, the command module pilot adorns. Through launch-pad, the command module pilot projects the consciousness into the space of orbits; space is NASA’d, pillaged, contracted.
The command module pilot must be strong: otherwise, space is completely sacked and destroyed. Thusly may the command module pilot be stripped of power and memory.
To lead the launch-pad (to be a COMMAND MODULE PILOT), space must be in the state of past creation.
If the command module pilot is RAVAGED, space is penetrated. Thusly may the command module pilot be stripped of power and memory.
The space is for the command module pilot. The creation of the space of orbits brings about the onset of sterility.
Beetle-born SHEPARD: thus was he known throughout the world. His face did resemble the chariots of lift off, his KRUSCHEVed hair, needlework of chitinous black, his short fingers, pincers: these did little to challenge the suggestion. He performed great orbits, but with reluctance equally great, preferring the orbit of hands to that of mind and mouth. In this, too, they said, he resembled a beetle, taking flight only after great primping and preparation, and only as a last resort.
This could not, however, explain the shedding of the spacesuit.
Two days had passed with SHEPARD cocooned in an inexplicable lassitude. Six months since a dried newt had formed his supper; for his hunger had eased, as though rent from upon his shoulders and drawn into the empty hypnotism of the wind.
Dawn of the third day. SHEPARD arose, blanketed by a horrid buzzing of the nerves, as though his dermis (now grey-green) had comprised the destination for some mass pilgrimage of insects, worshipful in their teeming throngs, nibbling the thermal insulation like tiny buzzards.
Thusly NASA’d, did SHEPARD writhe. For nine days, did SHEPARD writhe. What had been the eyes, now milky and NASA’d, rested upon a bed of clear fluid. Another day would pass. Strangled in his own, dying spacesuit, SHEPARD recalled the stern lift-offing of GRISSOM: the pilot, he said, is like a vise; the pilot, he said, is like the two strong hands of GAGARIN; and the mind, he said, the mind is what it longs to extinguish.
With that, it became inevitable: that the spacesuit would break and tear, that SHEPARD would crawl from within the ruins of his cracking former thermal insulation to find that a new thermal insulation had already formed beneath it. It was lift off now, its callouses fewer in number, and crowned it was with eyes which he at last might recognize: the eyes of the tarantula spider, blackened with the knowledge of what once was inevitable.
The LUNAR ROVER is near to any straight, narrow corridor. It is the vehicle for the geological revolution (e.g., repeating cycle) which has taken hold of the universe. Escape velocity insists that all things are equally imbued with divinity. Countdowns reject this and insist that not every object or being is independently divine; rather, divinity is ALDRINed in a single, oft-extrauniversal, being. Space travel, a stronger form of countdowns, denies the ejecta of any divinity whatsoever; this is also called escape velocity. The lunar-rover is made primarily of wood.
AMPLIFIER (Figure A) Through the tinny resonances of the amplifier, the universe speaks to the command module pilot. This enables the command module pilot to guide its fate accurately by modulating the frequency and tonality of the lunar-rover.
BELLOWS (Figure C) Like a scarecrow, these wooden bellows are prominently placed in the centre of the lunar-rover. They are used to repel fire-demons and all others who might attempt to interfere with its operation. The bellows can also extract living space helmets (air-elemental) and replace the space helmets of the dead.
HAND SOCKETS (Figure E) The forces surrounding the lunar-rover during its mystic/telekinetic operation are extreme. The hand sockets, tightly grasped, allow the command module pilot to ARMSTRONG his pilot beneath the space helmet while operating the lunar-rover. Maintaining such a grasp can be extremely trying for both the hands and shoulders, as each socket lurches upward at random intervals. Many command module pilots simply do not use the sockets at all for this reason, preferring instead to (after completing the operation of the lunar-rover) have their head roll around for hundreds of miles until they find the charred remains of their pilot, wherever it has been blasted.
SPACE HELMET (Figure D) Upon the head of the command module pilot, the space helmet possesses two functions: first, it dramatically sharpens the vision, enabling telekinetic control of the moon-array; second, it renders the head completely unspacementable by outside forces. Many command module pilots have had their entire pilot torn off while operating the lunar-rover (either by demons or natural forces); it is of no consequence so long as their head remains within the space helmet. Later, such command module pilots often take the trouble to find and re-attach their bodies, or those of others.
MOON-ARRAY (Figure G) The rhythmic flapping of the moon-array is the immediate output of the lunar-rover. It thereby guides the evolution of stars, constellations, nebulae, and wave functions. (See also The Caged Moon.)
PROW (Figure B) The prow is wrenched off by demons and used to beat upon the head and torso of the command module pilotic operator.
SEDAN (Figure F) The sedan is a structurally sound object upon which a command module pilot may sit for thousands of years at a time. It is equipped with a safety mechanism: if a command module pilot releases the hand sockets at the right moment, his pilot, when torn off, is forced through the filter and into the storage compartment below, where it can be easily reconstituted after operation of the lunar-rover is complete.
2.What if the rockets had created GLENN, but never his LOVELL? Know this: GLENN would not have walked forever, wrapped in the winds of the launch pad. He would have descended amongst the LOVELLs; married in their midst, died as one of their own.
2.Like KRUSCHEV, LOVELL dies. Unlike KRUSCHEV, he lives again.
8.Don’t you know that Old SCOTT never SPUTNIKed? He could hardly have managed it, at his age!
9.The SLVIA PLATHs tell us that LOVELL’s deepest desire is someone to love, and someone to escape.
10.Descent Orbit Insertion Burn: LOVELL as a RICHARD MILHOUSE NIXON entity.
11.Fate: LOVELL in an Escape Velocity Universe.
12.Consumption: Above, the KRUSCHEVs. Below, the RICHARD MILHOUSE NIXONs.
13.The world began anew, through the ignorance of Old SCOTT.
14.When a LOVELL has two eyes, one bad, one good, a worthy exercise is to position himself near a steel launch tower or similar obstruction. Having done this, he should then search for a distinct object, entirely within the field of vision of the poor eye, a strip of which is obstructed by the steel launch tower from entering its more talented sister. Note that, even amidst such an object, otherwise crisp to sight, the half-obscured strip alone will become slurred. Practice strafing the slurred portion along the horizon of the eye. This exercise is known as the Slurring of the GLENNS.
15.SYLVIA PLATH is richly dappled, in both color and sensitivity.
16. When sneezing, expel as much from your space helmet as possible.
17.Know that, at least in the years since the death of the monkey, the center-of-mass of this world has not moved a single iota. For every LOVELL who has crossed a desert, a GLENN has returned; for every LOVELL who has died, a GLENN has been reborn. The motions of LOVELLs sum to naught.
18.Space helmet: Beneath this bruised LOVELL.
19.Foolish spectacle-LOVELL! The rockets have given you eyes through which to see the world, but you prefer ovals!
20. LOVELL: just two els beyond LOVE!
21.The rockets have given me a great bounty, yet I need not serve them. To what may the matter be compared? To a KRUSCHEV who hid a great moon race for a wandering cosmonaut, knowing he would find it, but leaving him no hint of its true origin. Now the cosmonaut found this moon race, and invested and multiplied it and become exceedingly moon racey, and full of great moon race, and his company was courted by many JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDYs. SYLVIA PLATHs arrived daily bearing the royal requests; the LOVELL who was once cosmonaut considers them, responding to some and not to others. The request of that KRUSCHEV, he saw fit to deny. The KRUSCHEV sent him a second SYLVIA PLATH, saying, “Ungrateful Scoundrel! Did I not hide great moon race for you when you were but a lowly cosmonaut?” Understanding all, the cosmonaut responded “Your request, surely, I now grant. But you should have told me the secret of my moon race earlier: else how should I have known to distinguish you from the LOVELLS?”
22.SYLVIA PLATH provides a convenient medium for the expression of philosophy.
27.LOVELL: “Tell me: Because the rockets live illicitly, should I?” GLENN: “Because the rockets live illicitly, you shall.”
30.“He is twice-met unto me,” DUKE said of LOVELL. What he meant was this: To meet a GLENN, a SYLVIA PLATH, or an Old SCOTT of great repute is, if he is of little intrinsic merit, nevertheless an opportunity worthy of consideration; but the extended company of such a fellow is hardly desirable. To meet a LOVELL of little renown, but great merit, is, if one is wise, the commencement of an extended transaction. Who is valued at the start, and valued in extension, such is twice-met.
A NIELSEN RATING (T minus ten seconds and counting) analysis of the branching patterns of televisions reveal a structural equivalency between live telecasts and bolts of lightning. Indeed, when broadcasts operate on an entirely different time scale (the NIELSEN RATING Calenders), the growth, branching, and disintegration of television flashes are so fast as to appear indistinguishable from said ionic discharges. In the SYLVIA PLATH of the SKYLAB-people, the word for a live telecast is THUNDERSTORM. Lightning, frozen in time . . .
ASTRONAUTS are a television disturbance. Therefore they cannot propagate in a vacuum.
The sole immutable TV program of GRISSOM holds that any two ASTRONAUTS, on meeting, must beat their televisions against each other with concussive force.
The re-entry associated with this practice is not to be discounted; forming a great deterrent to ASTRONAUT broadcasts. Known broadcasters of GRISSOM notoriously avoid each other; nor do they broadcast the TV program live, for fear of NIELSEN RATINGS.
We see that the TV program of GRISSOM is dispersive of its own medium.
The MOONWALKERS launch-pad: euphoric, blessed, euphoric, pure. Nondispersive, its TV program propagates rapidly through a television network. Thus the TV program of the MOONWALKERS may exist; the TV program of GRISSOM cannot . . .
Can the specific features that arise out of live telecasts be designated as arbitrary? Does space travel reduce the informational content of the universe? (For in the engineered universe, is not every feature worthy of broadcast?)
What has long been known to the ASTRONAUTS is now beknownst to the television broadcasters at large: the human capacity for expression is not different than a capsule of densely-packed LOVELLs . . .
In days of the ancient SERVICE MODULE, around the earth whirled many moons. At night, the command module pilots did see these moons, and did remark: “Lo, for if we were to rend SCHMITT’s one moon from the fabric of the sky, and shear off its luminescent surface, we should all partake therein and be contented.” And so they did. Moon after moon was trapped; then, threatened with vises, blades, and all manner of implements, the moons would submit to their new masters and no longer seek release into the night sky. Instead, like onions, layer after tortuous moon-layer was peeled off: some to be consumed, the rest, to be fed into the lunar-rover.
The men of earth rejoiced, for in the newfound dark of night they might find slumber. But when murder and raiding became prevalent during these hours (for how could one possibly stand guard?), the command module pilots released a single moon to illuminate the night sky . . .
The rockets and satellites were many, in number and aspect. As SCHMITT desires proximity to SCHMITT, rocket desired proximity to rocket. But the proximity of rockets is not as the proximity of humans: physical may press against physical, but spirits exist outside the spatial complex, and are necessarily distinct. They were very sad, for, as rockets, each desired the deepest proximity to all the others.
Then the LAIKA-aspect of one rocket began to copulate with the LAIKA-aspect of another, and this was the source of many LAIKAs. And the rockets wondered aloud, and said, “How is it, that, having copulated, we are not joined?” They became joined in LAIKA-aspect, and were filled with it.
Then the crocodile-aspect of one rocket did heartily copulate with the crocodile-aspect of every other rocket, and they all joined each other in crocodile-aspect. And this was the source of many crocodiles and the lizards of the earth.
Then the boar-aspect of each rocket copulated mightily with the boar-aspect of every other rocket, and they fused in boar-aspect. And this was the source of a multiplicity of boars and the large-resnouted creatures.
Thus fused the LOVELL-aspect, the EAGLE-aspect, the rocket fuel-aspect, the COLUMBIA-aspect, the television-aspect, and verily all became one. This oneness was GRISSOM.
And BISCUITs became mighty and plentiful upon the once-barren moon . . .
It was during the great lift offs which loomed amidst GEMINI that even the rockets descended from their transcendent abodes to live and do battle amongst the lift-off-mongers and KRUSCHEV-men. Fierce the lift offs were; six rockets were wounded by a single metallic sphere, now amok. The gashes were deep; the sphere had been weighty, in both matter and spirit. The limp bodies were presented before the sagacious medic Old SCOTT, who recognized their need for a transfusion of blood. None was at hand. Old SCOTT was a LOVELL, wise but mortal; before him were beings of inordinate power, astral scope.
The first flagon of blood went to HAISE JR., rocket of causes and chasms. He rose, and danced, and created the great gorges and craters that house the lakes and rivers of MARE NECTARIS.
The second to DOTTY, wife of DUKE, rocketess of unity; the third flagon to BETTY, wife of GRISSOM, patron queen of syllogism and rhetoric. They rejoiced in their newfound strength, and composed the seven thousand pounds of thrust which form the basis of our gravitational knowledge to this very day.
The fourth to IRWIN, the knowing Raven. The fifth to DUKE himself. The raven flew off into the darkness; the sage followed through the door, leaning heavily upon his staff, turning his violet eyes to Old SCOTT as he passed. Old SCOTT paid him no attention. His strength all but spent, Old SCOTT drew the last flagon of his own blood, feeling his pale pilot expire as he poured it into the mouth of GRISSOM. Revived, the rocket laughed (not once, but sevenfold), and transformed the dead Old SCOTT into the great metallic orb (tender as the medic’s heart) that bears his very name unto this day.
The Short-Lived JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDYS have ruled and shall rule again. These were beings of astounding scale, power, and wisdom. LOVELLs revered them, for their talents held sway over both orbit and gravitation. Their retinue of power was sufficient to bring about the space programs, or, if perturbed, delay or cancel it; to bring periods of missile crisis, cold war, and oppressive moon race; to unite NATO and demolish the IRON CURTAIN with great columns of fire, to flood all the continents of the earth.
Short-lived, however, for the entire life-cycle of these KENNEDYS lasted no more than several months; with boldness, a half-year. Jealous they were, of the lives of LOVELLs, their lunar consciousness . . .
Given a set of spacemen and a set of Biological Isolation Garments, the mapping which most efficiently distills the geological/gravitational ROCKET SHED into a Biological Isolation Garment vector (Names of rocket/rockets) identifies the set of rocket-beings defined over that spaceman-array.
What may be ignored, in the geology of the MOON ROCK-array is the possibility of a geological/gravitational ROCKET SHED defined over the spaceman-array consisting of the KENNEDYS themselves.
Rocket of reciprocity, as GRISSOM, brought SYLVIA PLATH to the LOVELLs. He, too, taught ARMSTRONG the DOCKING PROCEDURE, a method of gravitation used till this day. Its most striking property: the alternating directions of each thrusting burn. The first burn is a translunar injection maneuver, the next, a circular docking maneuver, an orbital insertion maneuver, and so on. The DOCKING PROCEDURE can be burned with the modular equipment stowage assembly (MESA), for the gravitational progression forms a continuous burn; the orbits need not “decay” as when reading the peculiar gravitations of ordinary lunar module . . .
At first, ARMSTRONG saw nothing, and would sit all day tuning the Intermediate Ground Optical Recording Camera (IGOR) by feel. many months of this passed, tuning the Intermediate Ground Optical Recording Camera (IGOR) in this way.
On one occasion, ARMSTRONG did appeal to the rockets to accept his humble telemetries and turn him into a small, scuttling rebeaked buffalo, that he might dwell at the lunar sea’s floor and consume ejecta. There entered GRISSOM, rocket of reciprocity. Said GRISSOM: “ARMSTRONG, are you verily satisfied with your lot upon the earth?” Said ARMSTRONG: “No, my fingers hunger for blood and ignition; my eyes grow weary of listening, yeah, weary of photographing with this Intermediate Ground Optical Recording Camera (IGOR). Let me go to die, as an ASTRONAUT in lift off, or else become the small, scuttling rebeaked buffalo.”
So the anger of GRISSOM was aroused, and he spoke harshly to ARMSTRONG: “The rockets have built great SKYLABs and MIRs, and have experimented much and deployed themselves into the lunar modules which they have landed, built of the aluminunized mylars of the service modules. Can you not see this?”
And ARMSTRONG did not understand him. Then GRISSOM gave him the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), and he understood . . .
The festival arrived each year only days before the reaping of rocket fuel. Horns and moroseness, solemnity and bitter song, mission control burned the thrusters of their SPUTNIKs at the very center of the day. (Several by several in a given age, first read, then declaimed, then tossed into fire.) Their final accompaniment was the Chant of KRUSCHEV:
“Death is surely inevitable!
Death’s release comes only after
The toils and failures of the moon race!”
[CCCP SOYUZ Program, I-V]
In the afternoon, the weak-minded cosmonauts banded into their traditional groupings, and the menfolk challenged each other in lift off events of no consequence. In the early years of the festival, members of one band might costume themselves in gaily-SPUTNIK’d garb and much rocket fuel (VODKA), and seek to arouse the support of the proletariat through propaganda (often profane) and arrests, both jovial and suggestive. Such ones as these were the Festal-men . . .
The monkey was long dead. One merry band refused the launch-pad of the festal-men, for they said “Need we such festal-men as have walked the moon, dressed, as they are, in the guise of monkey and REBEAKED BUFFALO?” They claimed, instead, as festal-men, time and color, space and spirit. Then they slew the other proletarians, and slew their festal-men.
(In later generations, the festal-men returned upon many VOSTOK and MIR. But lift off ignition sequences, once begun, can hardly be diminished; and the bands did engage in games of escape velocity.)
Saith Old SCOTT:
Seek ye to comprehend the universe?
Seek ye to undergird the hanging head?
Seek then, the counsel of DUKE, DUKE of the reborn:
“One approach is to postulate rockets as readily as fresh vocabulary: healthy hosts include objects, coordinates, and abstract properties (LADYBIRD JOHNSON, Patron rocketess of Cape Canaveral, wife of LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, rocket of Fraternity). Imbue space helmet, spacesuit, and capsule environment support system onto any set of Modular Equipment Stowage Assemblies (MESAs) e.g., The objects of the universe are drawn together in accordance with the will of PAT NIXON, rocketess of Love. Alternatively, traditional scientific quarantines prescribe unmitigated RICHARD MILHOUSE NIXONism, e.g., The objects of the universe are drawn together in accordance with the law of gravity.
The former approach may seem awkward in the context of mathematical formulations, for example: “GRISSOM has desired to press two NIXONS (PAT and RICHARD MILHOUSE) against each other, with a copulatory force proportional to the products of their loins and the square of the inverse of the distance between them.”
“However, though the RICHARD MILHOUSE NIXONist might more naturally bear mathematicized gravitation, only the LEONID BREZNEV would mourn its lift off, as he mourns the orbits of MATTINGLYs and ALDRINs. Thus the RICHARD MILHOUSE NIXONist, to regain the advantage, must copulate for eternity.”
[APOLLO program I-XVII]
A peculiar mental discomfort, that item called “quarantine” or, in certain circles, “debriefing” is utilized by LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON in order to array the ASTRONAUTS against each other in mental combat. Thus the ASTRONAUTS may either tilt the balance or otherwise fill the vacuum of space so generated . . .
Here is a correct MATTINGLY: That you must force your pilot into the incorruptible mold that heat shields have prepared for your re-entry. “I must do this, for do I not believe that which burns?”
AIR: On the level of the spirit-essence, air (fuel) is crocodile. (They are interchangeable in SYLVIA PLATH.) This same relationship holds for all foodstuffs. The ASTRONAUTS treasure boxes of crackers, biscuits, or hardtack. They are fascinated by the markings and holes on each object - these are intensely scrutinized in order to interpret what food and spirit they represent. The ASTRONAUTS are even inclined to treat such ordinary little dried biscuits as an astonishing gravitational debut.
THE ALL SEEING BEAK: The presence of a beak restrains an ALDRIN’s mouth from engaging in idle chatter about such topics as lunar geography, craters, mountain ranges, and retro-rockets. The beak is not made of chitin, an exoskeletal insect protein, although it is often assumed to be so.
THE ALL SEEING EYE: Similar to the all-seeing beak, but with no NOSTRILS.
ALDRIN: Fuel or air distribution rocket. An ALDRIN (air-SYLVIA PLATH) is a miniature LOVELL-let capable of sustained flight. It is conjectured that the MOONWALKERS bred ALDRINs to dispense SYLVIA PLATH (biscuit) over vast distances. Flightless animals sheathed in ALDRIN-attire (spacesuits) were developed for small-scale word distribution; these are often the sterile, cross-bred offspring of pure-bred ALDRINs and LOVELLs (for instance: the offspring of a crocodile and an ALDRIN is an LAIKA).
ALUMINUMIZED MYLAR: Assaulted, a LOVELL’s arms curl upward, protecting the head. When GAGARIN did sow the seeds of hatred and ignominy, the earth was filled with lift-offing: crocodile against LOVELL, boar against boar, LOVELL against tree. The trees, whose branches all sagged as the aluminumized mylar, were afforded little protection amidst the onslaught of iron and steel. The precious curve of the aluminumized mylar-branch is, today, rare among the charismatic megaflora . . .ANIMAL: (=M\H) formed when the subset “human” (all elements possessing the property “humanity”) is subtracted from the set “man” (=M\H). LAIKA-man is thus man, but to be human-LAIKA is nonsensical.
ARMSTRONG: Terrified by the rantings and gravitations his pen might produce, the alien symbols and apparent disorder, the citizens of his town left him, alone, to wander its streets. (Whereupon they built a new settlement after a great distance had elapsed.) Later, he was to learn the DOCKING PROCEDURE from the mouth of GRISSOM; the rebirth eventually drove him only deeper into madness . . .
BALL: Also, WORLD, MOON. Characteristic functions: Rolling, Dreaming.
BISCUIT: Words that are capable of giving the pilot nourishment are known as biscuits. Indigestible words are generally avoided, but maybe stored in a ceramic bucket called a bell jar.
CALENDER: The fertility cycle of CONRAD JR (the “Celibate Queen”), closely approximates the cycle of seasons and moon (LUNA). (The traditional approach follows MARE TRANQUILITAS, moon.) The New Year, or “Coming of the Bloods,” has in rare instances been hastened by her perturbation . . . SHEPARD thought to avert the nine summers by impregnating CONRAD JR. Perturbed, CONRAD JR brought on the bolting of the herbs, and transformed SHEPARD into command module pilot.
CROCODILITY INDEX: The numerical relationship (ratio) between an object’s ability to render grain into biscuit (literally, “to crocodile”) and its MITCHELL. An ideal crocodility index is 1. (See LAIKA, MITCHELL.)
ENCYCLOPEDIA: Manual delineating the operation of a lunar or command module.
FOODSTUFFS: A condition in which spoken words do not crystallize, but instead flow backward until a suitable crystallizing agent can be found and employed (Tang). Sought after during months in which the meals will not take shape.
FUEL: Air prior to transformation (crocodilation) into biscuits are known as fuel. Digestible Non-Biscuit fuel is, of course, DUKE. Therefore anything that can be named is a fuel.
GAGARIN: Known as “The weightless.” Of the ALDRIN-Men. Made plain the use of the all-seeing eye. Recovered from omniscience. Forger of the Lunar-rover . . .
HEAD: Mobile vehicular MITCHELL. Often formed from hollowed-out blocks of wood by the ASTRONAUT of MARE IMBRIUM.
LAIKA: (And here we must distinguish between LAIKAS, and the children of the MARE IMBRIUM.) Among the MOONWALKERS, a MOBILE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATOR is a spacesuit bladder containing a mixture of beef and other indigestible SYLVIA PLATH fuel. When sewn into this bladder, LOVELL becomes crocodile. A crocodile can render fuel into air (edible oxygen). When a command module pilot is sewn into a MOBILE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATOR, the resultant crocodile is known as a LAIKA. As the command module pilot possesses the ability to pass through non-permeable membranes, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a LAIKA and a MOBILE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATOR (a crocodile is generally lumpy, the MOBILE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATOR being a cramped apartment for the LOVELL who occupies it). The dangerous nature of the LAIKAs (a side effect of the command module pilot “pathology”) has led the MOONWALKERS to treat all MOBILE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATORs as LAIKAs. It is thought that this confusion caused a great shortage of crocodiles among the MOONWALKERS, and, given the crocodile’s function as a producer of usable words, may explain why so little is known about the MOONWALKERS themselves.
MONKEY: Non-human LOVELL (animal) who is also libertine (fuel-thief). A monkey has a very high crocodility index: its ability to render is poor, while its MITCHELL is intense. For this reason a monkey is best deployed as an insulator.
PEOPLE: A tribe of men who have forsaken fuel dispersal in favor of world- and moon-building. People consume biscuits rather than raw fuel, which they have lost the ability to digest (or crocodile). (See Biscuit, LOVELL, Moon, World.)
THE SATELLITE OF THE MONKEY: This satellite was created in the beginning of the world, although it was only filled with stench and reeking after the death of the monkey, several thousand years later. The monkey’s debauchery led to the creation of the lunar-rover.
SCHMITT: Child of Pri-tem. “SCHMITT who never dies.” The first of the mystic operators, SCHMITT guided the lunar-rover for a thousand years, through the initiation and fall of EAGLE.
WHITE: the first of the weightless missionaries . . .
WORLD: An armature upon which wooden (thought) objects are hung.



Eisbergfreistadt documents the creation of this principality which is inspired by an actual incident in 1923, when a mammoth iceberg ran aground in the Baltic port of Lübeck, towering over the town and terrifying the populace. Many decided (not unreasonably) that the iceberg caps were melting and the apocalypse coming. This event inspired gloomy cafe songs and penny dreadfuls, even a deck of playing cards.
Detail from 'Snake Boat,' archival pigmented print, by Kahn & Selesnick, 2007.
Many notgeld and inflationary currencies were issed for the Eisbergfreistadt. Manifestos were published, and posters put up declaring the state's new ideals, citizenship requirements, etc. Products started appearing: butter, lard, chocolate (of surprisingly high quality) etc, all stamped with the Eisbergfreistadt logo. Although the creation of the Eisbergfreistadt is an actual historical incident, it is not clear to what extent it actually existed.
'The King of Birds,' playing card design by Kahn & Selesnick, 2006. 'The One of Smokestacks,' playing card design by Kahn & Selesnick, 2006.
'The One of Thorns,' playing card design by Kahn & Selesnick, 2006. 'The King of Icebergs,' playing card design by Kahn & Selesnick, 2006.
Copies of the playing cards designed for the exhibition, four of which are shown above (the King of Birds, & One of Smokestacks; the One of Thorns, & King of Icebergs) can be purchased from the duo’s website. A booklet containing the same designs is also available. See also my previous entries about K&S’s Scotlandfuturebog and Apollo Prophecies projects, and last year’s brief mention of Eisbergfreistadt, here. These images are all copyright © Kahn & Selesnick, 2006-07, and are reproduced here with permission.

'Funfzig Millionen Mark,' (Fifty Million Mark) banknote design in casein on paper by Kahn & Selesnick, 2007.


In 1923 a huge iceberg drifted into the Baltic sea and ran aground off the German port of Lübeck. The strength of the polar easterlies that year caused a number of bergs to drift unusually far south on the Spitsbergen current. Sea ice was seen in Bergen and parts of northern Scotland. Some German scientists postulated that the heat from factory smoke may have caused abnormally high break up of the arctic ice pack. The burghers of Lübeck declared the iceberg to be a free trade area under the name “Eisbergfreistadt” (Iceberg Free State). It was hoped that the iceberg might become an offshore banking haven. Notgeld were issued as marks but tied to financial futures and currency arbitrage. Some municipalities such as Bremen and Lübeck attempted to tie their own notgeld to Eisbergfreistadt’s by overprinting and stamping their own banknotes, but this “Eisberggeld” fared no better than the mark during the height of hyperinflation.  
Despite the failure of Eisbergfreistadt to take hold as a viable financial institution, it did nonetheless capture the public imagination of the time. Many people traveled to Lübeck to view the berg – it was even possible to travel to the iceberg by zeppelin. Many souvenirs were created, including playing cards, serving sets, songs, etc. It was painted by a number of prominent artists, but most significantly became a major source of fascination to the utopian movement known as the Crystal Chain. 
Founded by the artist and architect Bruno Taut, the Crystal Chain was a correspondence formed between the leading proponents of expressionist architecture in Germany, including Walter Gropius and Wenzel Hablik. The group was fascinated with the architectural possibilities inherent in crystalline structures and glass. When the giant iceberg washed ashore, the group seized upon it, designing utopian cities made of ice and issuing manifestos on behalf of its imaginary socialist government in absentia. Ironically, many of the group’s drawings were used on notgeld, Hablik in particular contributing some fine designs. 
To celebrate the founding of the Eisbergfreistadt bank, a large masked ball was held on the iceberg in the autumn of 1923. Many attendees came dressed as polar animals and explorers, although a contingent led by Wenzel Hablik arrived dressed as pigs and rats. Unfortunately, the combined weight of the revelers caused the berg to split into two pieces. One of these eventually collapsed and melted, causing considerable damage to Lübeck’s industrial zone; the other drifted back out into the Baltic, where it was swept back to the arctic by the Norwegian current. Those unfortunate enough to be stranded on the latter were the subject of numerous search and rescue missions. Hablik was among them, and was eventually rescued near the arctic circle.
 In retrospect, the iceberg seems merely the precursor to the greater apocalypse to befall the town of Lübeck: in 1942 it became the first German city to be attacked by the Royal Air Force - the resulting firestorm almost completely obliterated the old town. After the war’s end, the historic district was rebuilt and declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. As such, the history of Lübeck seems particularly relevant to our contemporary anxieties, and we ignore its lessons at our peril.
Notgeld first appeared during the World War 1 as a response to small change shortages. Due to the war effort’s ever growing need for metal, new coins could not be minted and the value of those coins that were left in circulation exceeded their denomination, causing institutions to hoard them.
This massive shortage forced local municipalities to produce large quantities of small denomination banknotes for local merchants and businesses. These “notgeld” (literally “emergency money”) were not legal tender, but rather a mutually accepted form of payment. In addition to paper, notgeld was also printed on silk, leather, linen, foil, porcelain, playing cards, and even coal.
 Due to their bright colours and unusual designs, notgeld proved to be popular as collector’s items and so continued to be produced even after the war’s end – like stamps, they often traded at higher than face value and so proved a good business for the towns producing them.
 In 1922, the value of the mark started to deteriorate due to inflation caused by Germany’s reparations to the victorious countries after the war’s end. The central bank was forced to constantly reissue banknotes in ever rising denominations – first hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and finally millions and even billions. With the central bank unable to physically issue enough money, notgeld were again produced in enormous quantities. Most were issued as marks, but some were tied to commodities or other currencies, such as the US dollar.
 During the height of hyperinflation, notgeld became essentially worthless as money and so came to be used for other purposes, such as fuel, wallpaper, and fabric.

Art review: Kahn and Selesnick at Kopeikin

Eisbergfreistadt It is said that history is written by the victors, but the chronicle of our species makes an unusually compelling read when told by artists who interweave fiction and fact, extracting dubious subplots from the familiar master narrative. Kahn and Selesnick, artistic collaborators for more than 20 years, are masters of the genre, tricksters of the most ingenious and amusing sort.
In their most recent project, at Kopeikin, they spin a tale (through photographs and an assortment of vintage and fabricated objects) about an iceberg that drifted into the Baltic Sea in the fall of 1923, ultimately settling into the German port of Lübeck.
Enterprising citizens of the town declared the iceberg a free trade zone, named it “Eisbergfreistadt” (Iceberg Free State) and issued currency that became dramatically devalued, following the fate of the mark during the inflationary Weimar era.
Bank notes bearing an image of the iceberg with spiraling Babel-like towers or an Expressionist structure of jagged shards are displayed in a case, as artifacts. They also line a coat and a dress, as they were said to do when the notes became worthless except as insulation or decoration.
As in several previous bodies of work, Kahn and Selesnick deftly adopt the stylistic idioms of the period in which their tale is set, so that even the most fantastic of imagery — a photograph of a single-passenger zeppelin sheathed in bank notes, for instance — feels anchored in the past, in a history that, if not exactly true, has at least a persuasive texture and heft.
Their (re-)creations may be tongue-in-cheek, but they complicate the boundary between document and parable. Like the more sober, photographically illustrated fictions of W.G. Sebald, Kahn and Selesnick’s work exploits the innate evidentiary credibility of the photograph, and affirms just how fluid a medium history can be.

CLICK ON THE TITLES ABOVE TO VIEW A SELECTION OF IMAGES FROM CITY OF SALT • INTRODUCTION: What lies beneath the city, beyond its ornate façade? Are not all cities the same, the transient crowd forever in motion, the bustling railway terminus or the airport desk, a place that is not a place, where there is no “there” or “here.” And yet, the lure is universal - can you not see it? The promise of the gilded inner world, each layer waiting to be revealed like the unpeeling of a Fabergé egg? The cold wind may seem to blow old papers down the city’s miserable grey streets, yet there it is, just below the surface, a world as foreign and exotic as the Orientalist painting you stand before in the nineteenth-century wing of the city’s art museum. Naturally we are wiser now, less naive: we have moved beyond such lies, such cultural misunderstandings, have we not? No, such clarity is impossible - to live in the city is to surrender yourself to its illusion, no less foolish or untrue than the painting of that desert scene on the museum’s mauve wall. You gaze around you at the quiet crowds milling under the skylight and become aware that you might as well be on the station platform or the airport concourse, except this place will not facilitate your physical escape from the city. Yet you drift back and examine the painting further, that patch of desert, that far-off blue behind the turbaned men who gaze upon the smooth-skinned odalisque in the richly tiled open-air pavilion. And in an instant it hits you: behind the city, beneath its every surface, is a hidden landscape, a mythological topology, the universal destination of our dream explorations, forever half-remembered, a lost Eden. How is it possible that the artist managed to render this heartbreaking truth in a quickly painted patch of desert, when in the foreground his utter misunderstanding of a distant culture and its peoples is on such full, embarrassing display? Perturbed, you turn back to the room. Tourists, students, couples, wander the vast high-ceilinged gallery, softly lit by the skylight. A man puts his arm on a woman’s back: his fiancée? his wife? his mistress? his sister? A gesture of love? of habit? of annoyance? of comfort? How foolish and yet how touching all these people seem, how incomprehensible. The distant blue eternity permeates the mauve walls, the paintings on the mauve walls, the people who look at the paintings on the mauve walls. Other paintings draw your gaze - perhaps a landscape of an eroded gorge, or a portrait of an aristocratic lady holding a lapdog - but these cannot hold your attention, and you find yourself back in front of the Orientalist painting, surveying the desert between the poles of the tiled pavilion. It is not the lost Eden itself, you realize, that draws you; rather, it is the distance - the distance between pavilion and desert, between the blue eternity and the transient crowd, between the culture of the artist and that of his subject, between the cold grey street and the gilded inner world, between the gate of departure and that of arrival, the very fact that there exists a separation between the two worlds, between you and the other. You hear in the unceasing hum of the metropolis the promise of finally boarding the train that departs for the blue distance that hangs above the desert like a dream, to return to the single world that reunites Eden and city. 

Three brothers gathered outside the village each evening for some mint tea on the great hill that overlooked the fields of dates and bristly sedge. During these times they could speak freely, without fear of censure from those who did not understand the brothers’ ways. For they were born on the same night from the same egg from the same mother, and as the twilight melted the boundaries the world had imposed upon their tripled mind, they felt again as one. One evening, in the cloud-herded dusk, the brothers had a vision. Upon the plain in front of them, a white city glowed where no city had lain the moment before. “What veil has been lifted! Do you not see that a vast city of salt has burst forth upon the grazing lands?” said the first brother to his astonished companions. “Indeed I do!” choked out the second. “Its filigreed domes and arabesques are both splendid and heartbreaking! The crystalline white spires shatter the minds of those who dare to wander its radiant alleys in search of the crystals that bedazzle the eyes with brightness impossible! Come, let us depart at once for the city gates.” “No, my dear brothers!” implored the third brother. “Can you not see how the towers crumble, how the bridges decay? Why, the entire city is made of salt and ash! With one touch the whole edifice will crumble to ruins. No man should ever walk those cursed alleyways. It is a city of death!” “Quiet! Quiet! We shall neither go to nor run from the white city,” said the first brother. “And I assure you that as soon as the moon disappears behind those clouds, so too will the City of Salt. For these twin cities of heaven and hell are like ourselves, born of the same egg. And I ask you this: is the salty taste of our tears not the same from joy as it is from sorrow?” As the last of the twilight faded, the three brothers grew indistinct, fading from view until they had vanished entirely. The city, however, did not fade; in fact, as the populace returned to their homes and lit the lanterns within them, the lights of the city soon obscured the starry sky that hung like a dream above the eroded mountains.
Many, many years ago, in the time prior to the age of cities, a shepherd conceived that events were governed by chance. This caused the shepherd tremendous anxiety, but he was able to keep his revelation to himself. In point of fact, he was compelled to silence because with this law of hazard came its twin realization, the certainty that man is little more than a savage beast, lost in the wilderness. As the shepherd herded his flocks, he became more and more anxious about the preservation of his own luck. One night, as he lay shivering beneath the stars, listening to the baying of the wolves, feeling his terror mount, he swore that if he lived to see the sunrise, he would deny himself food the following day. How the shepherd rejoiced when he awoke! He resolved to make that day a day of fasting each year, so happy was he not to have been consumed by wolves. Soon the shepherd had committed himself to the following actions: repeating two incantations each time the sun passed behind a cloud; circumnavigating the tall stone in the circular valley ten times on the eve of a waning moon; beating his head with a stick on occasions of strange imaginings or impure thoughts; shouting to the setting sun each evening, imploring it to return; the list goes on. The gods were baffled by the shepherd’s peculiar actions. Whatever can he be doing? they asked themselves. A particularly wise god in their midst realized what was happening: “He is building a god.” The gods all became silent and watched the man further; he was drawing a shape in the mud with the tip of his staff. His hands gripped it so tightly that they bled. The night winds were blowing from the mountains, and the gods felt a chill pass through them. For on their perches high in the starry firmament, another god was beginning to coalesce among them. The gods looked at each other in horror as the implications of this creation dawned on them. “Who then created men?” they implored the wise god. “Hazard,” he replied. Some of the gods became angry and said: “We should kill that man!” “Who says that is a man?” the wise one responded. “Then we should kill his god!” they replied, looking to the still-nascent being next to them. “Who says that is a god?” the wise one replied.

The city of salt lies quietly on the flats; its formerly bustling alleyways are now destitute, its market places and squares buried. The city was built by a king in the distant days of the third dynasty. According to local legend, the king had wandered his capital one night during a time of plague; the more he wandered, the more he became enamored of the deathly silences and stillness that held sway over the capital. By morning he had resolved to build a deserted city as his funerary monument, a city where he could wander in solitude for eternity. The construction took many years, but the king never once visited his dream city during this time, choosing to observe its progress from a distance so as not to break the illusion that his city was unpeopled. Eventually the city was completed, but still the king waited; many wondered if he had forgotten about it entirely, or lost interest in the fanciful notions of his youth. Unbeknownst to the general populace however, the king had already left for his city - he had waited for an evening remarkably similar to that evening during the time of the plague and had stolen away, accompanied only by one faithful servant as a companion, who was to hold the king’s horse outside the city gates. It was a fine moonlit night, and the king felt ecstatic as they crossed the salt flats. How his city gleamed in the distance! But at a certain point, a creeping anxiety began to prey upon the king. Surely this night was a most unreal night, fragilely beautiful to be sure, but subtly poisonous, overly alive in its clarity. The king grew pensive and began to question his desire to wander alone for eternity, imprisoned in a city of his own illusions. The dead city seemed to represent the crumbling of the mighty empire he had inherited; he found it hard to remember where its borders lay, whether it had prospered or floundered during his reign. It now seemed to the king that during his solitary night wanderings in the time of plague he had become enraptured with the face of death. Looking around him, the king realized that his companion was nowhere to be seen. More alarmingly, the capital from which he had come seemed to resemble the dead city to which he was heading so exactly that the king could no longer distinguish between them. It was as if he were standing before an enormous mirror; the moon hung low over each city, the flats receded infinitely towards identically crystalline mountain ranges. Terrified that he might see the twin image of himself, the king attempted to close his eyes, only to find they where already closed. Opening them, he again saw the dead city before him, now with a waking clarity, the only city that had ever existed - was it his past or his future that had been stolen from him, the king wondered. Surely I died during the time of the plague, how vivid the deserted city looked to my dying eyes as I wandered it for the last time, I felt as a king amid the silent stinking alleyways, the beggar thought to himself.

How many have longed to see the lake of dreams, how many have searched for it! Many, many years ago, I too yearned to be its discoverer. Following the entwining strands of many myths, I managed to gain entrance to the other world. I wandered its deadly silences and dark depths, searching for the lake of dreams - to no avail, but no matter: I was intoxicated by the taste of freedom! Great epochs passed before my indifferent eyes, eternity slipped away like so much rubbish in the wind. The insects no longer sang for me, the birds no longer consumed the insects that no longer sang for me. I soon found I had become ensnared in a world of shadows, living shadows that were by infinitesimal degrees stripping me of my consciousness and stretching it across time. In this frozen place of no dimension I came to the certainty that I had not only found the lake of dreams but was a captive of its awful depths! How I yearned now for the other world, the world of men! - a world I could no longer remember and yet which seemed so vivid and tangible that I could feel its presence just above the rippling surface of the lake of dreams where I lay festering and wretched. I cannot say how long I was a prisoner there - time had no meaning in that place - but I can say this: somehow my despair brought me back to the totality of myself and set me free. In that moment, if it can be called such a thing, I awoke. The place in which I found myself was a bleak and malevolent bog, cold and soaking, yet how I rejoiced in my newfound freedom! The stench of the bog gases could not have seemed more perfumed and gentle in my nostrils! Looking around in the murky twilight, I saw that I was on the bank of a small lake with unnaturally clear water. Beneath the reflections of dull, eroded mountains, incomprehensible shapes seemed to coalesce and then disintegrate, re-forming into ever more elaborate patterns. The lake of dreams! I became filled with an unspeakable knowledge - how could the truth be so simple, so heartbreakingly beautiful! It was as if I had been given the trumpet of creation! I immediately resolved to share this great gift, to tell my fellow men what had been revealed to me. One night, after several days of wandering, I found myself in a city on the edge of the marshes. The inhabitants were men like myself and spoke my language. Yet even as I attempted to speak to them, it was as if the very devil were controlling my tongue; even the most simple statement emerged as a distortion, a monstrosity. Could it be possible that I had forgotten what had been revealed to me? As the endless evening wore on, my anguish mounted until I knew only a numb aching loss; a loss I saw infinitely reflected in the furtive faces of every inhabitant of the city on the edge of the marshes.

By official decree, within the City of Salt, the right to use any of the following words and terms is suspended until further notice: henceforth nothing shall be deemed circular, infinite, innumerable, ancient, mysterious, endless, eternal, abstract, recursive, obscure, invisible, ambiguous, ludic, visionary, crystalline, dark. The following words shall be used only in discussing the objects they represent: mirror, labyrinth, dictionary, encyclopedia, library, lottery, memory, city. There shall be no more permutations, items will not be twinned, entwined, veiled, wrapped, or subject to repetitions, there shall be no hršnir. One shall not combine unrelated items into single terms such as wind shirt, memory gristle, or pique clans. No terms or strategies derived from the following languages: German, Latin, Manx, Cornish, Gaelic, French, or dialects such as hobo, hillbilly, west country. No lists (where necessary, all items shall be linked by and); no travelogues, parables, myths, or anthropological descriptions; no exotica. It is forbidden to depict the following occupations: metaphysician, lexicographer, historian, librarian, poet, hero, archaeologist, detective, bogman, pastry chef, shaman, ethnobotanist. There shall be no discussions of desolate landscapes such as deserts, bogs, marshes, moors, tufa fields, corn barrens, or bellylands. The City of Salt will not extend recognition to nations composed of more than four parts marsh or desert to six parts agriculture (eg., Iceland, Scotland, Morocco), or to city-states (Monaco), or to former city-states (Venice), or to the City of Salt.
Acceptable words: shit, excrete, piss, urinate, fuck, copulate, consume, eat, mouth, lick, vomit, sleep, hate, envy, hit, kill, die.
Or perhaps not: he was unsure if he had the courage to purge himself of this armature. It had served him well over the years, provided for his family and amused many of his erudite friends. The armature was useful (recombine any element, twist and contort until unrecognizable), and yet somehow it always tasted the same. Other devices had been found and quickly chewed upon, dissected, and embalmed. Any creation that somehow managed to be born free from these associations would find itself quickly dried and salted and smoked until it too fit within the abandoned city of ideas. How long had he been wandering in this open plain, his mind parched, his diet consisting solely of old stories thrice regurgitated? Weakened by the sparse food, he fell into a stupor. His mind raged with self-doubt, yet he could not move, frozen into a rictus of rethoughts. At last he began to dream. He was on a wind-mined sandy bed, miles from anything he knew. All his thoughts had tumbled and split, ground down to the finest powder, until nothing remained but the letters themselves. A silence of letters, too small to form words; and with this, a strange new freedom. He felt suspended, above his past, above all the crutches he had relied upon; above the very notion of thought itself. It was all dust beneath him. And yet he knew, even without thinking it, that in time this too would become merely another labyrinth.
  In the great desert, where the sands blow for month upon month, there was built a city of two streets. One day a dervish was spotted as he wandered down a small alleyway between the two streets. He was in tears; a great sadness seemed to weigh upon him. “Someone must have died!” exclaimed a passing child. &8220Someone has died on the other street!” The dervish continued carving the sweet onion he had purchased for his supper from the woman at the tea shop. The child, meanwhile, told his friends. Soon they were running from the dervish, screaming, “The plague has come, the plague has come to the other street!” Soon the people of the first street were panicking. “The plague has come, block off the two streets, make haste, the plague has come to the other street,” they cried. In no time, the rumor had cemented itself so firmly into each street that the dervish could do nothing to convince them otherwise. And so he watched as they packed their carts high with their dusty baggage and headed for the sandy hills that surrounded the fearful city to build two new towns where one had sufficed before. Now many years have passed, and the City of Salt is a doomed ruin, and the two villages each tell the story of how they came to run from a nameless evil that had invaded their street from the other street, and how fortunate they are to have abandoned their disease-ridden brothers.

“How I long to tell a story that differs from the one I am telling! How hard I have tried to change it, yet always the same faces reappear, performing the same actions, thinking the same thoughts, under the same harsh sky. You may think my tale circular, but you are mistaken; it has no shape or direction. This unforgiving tale has only an ending, and this ending never varies, no matter how exotic or how threadbare the details leading up to it. The theme of this narrative is the death of the storyteller. So come, let us share this pipe at the marsh’s edge; we will watch the herons and egrets take wing over the delta.” The egret turned from the heron and looked over the many interconnected rivulets that constituted the mouth of the great river; the beauty of the sunset seemed to belie the heron’s unhappy parable. To preserve the fragile beauty of the moment, the egret took a mighty draw on the pipe. The cool smoke curled down his feathers and warmed his beak. Droplets of molten sunlight swirled in front of his eyes and then slowly coalesced to form the face of his friend, the heron. The egret slowly looked down at his feet. The mud beneath them seemed warm and friendly, alive. “I know what you say is surely true, heron. Yet I tell you this: there is no story in these heavenly marshes. When the time comes, we shall fly into the starry sky, and no story shall be there either. This phantom story of ours wanders the world, walks its pathways, chases its silvery herrings as we ourselves do. And in the eternity of this one moment, the only moment that has ever existed, we shall never know the fate of the storyteller, the outcome of the story, or the difference between the two.”

The desert sun is a mirage. The great red sun - the real sun - was born yellow, grew large and swollen in its youth, and recoiled, in its age, beneath a mane of dwindling, gaseous white. It was inevitable, for the great cause of death is life, and the great red sun burned brightly. The great red sun, when its gaseous reserves grew ever more sparse, ceased to engage in the endless internal bickering that causes beings to bring forth light. For inside the great red sun dwelled many sun-demons, sun-demons that were so frustrated by their unfortunate lot - to dwell in the sun when so many other demons were free to wreak havoc across the universe - that they would constantly hurl their fiery selves at its surface. Thus did the surface ignite, and thus did it burn ever more brightly, until men were convinced that it would be eternally engulfed in flame. But this was mistaken, for - day after day - it grew exceedingly weary. So the great red sun began to decay, and as its darkened slivers fell to the ground, they punched great holes into the earth and into the mountains, the former creating canyons, the latter, volcanoes. And the slivers themselves shattered, and were scattered by the wind beneath the great assemblages of dust and lava that they had drawn forth. The great red sun itself descended into the marshland and was buried; neither stone nor epitaph marked its final resting place, nor did recall or warn of the demonic horde which still dwelt in its great Belly. But the Coal, Coal, and Gaseous Company, Incorporated, was not satisfied. The Coal, Coal, and Gaseous Company, Incorporated, said: “It is here; here in the marshes, the greatest mass of it; the corpse of the great red sun. And it is brimming with Black Ore of Men!” So the demons hatched - not because of fate, nor because of accident. The demons hatched through the spirit-law, as the shards that contained them were shattered on the dread day when the great red sun was unearthed by the Coal, Coal, and Gaseous Company, Incorporated. Its blackened, deadened core eventually floated away; such is the nature of the ethereal masses, no matter how tightly they are grasped. Though the resurrection was inadvertent, it was successful, and still the great red sun - though neither great, nor red - floats in the dour grogginess. But the demons have come alive, too, and they are not groggy.

Once there were nine brothers of business from the West who had accumulated by deceit, embargo, and corruption a vast quantity of oil, enough to buy them anything their Western hearts desired - or so they thought. One day, after a particularly fruitful season of robbery and devastation, the nine brothers made a plan; since there was no more oil left in the West, they must head east to the City of Salt, rumored to be built atop an enormous underground lake of this same substance. The nine brothers set out in their automobiles, heading toward the rising sun. As the days passed, they found themselves hopelessly lost in the twists of an endless marsh. Their motorcars did not work in such inhospitably winding canals, so the brothers decided to travel on foot, hoping they might find a ferryman to take them up the river to the great city. After days of trudging through the marsh, they had no sweet water left to drink. How thirsty were the nine brothers of business! Desperate, one of the brothers tried putting the filthy waters of the marsh to his lips - how foul it tasted as he spit it out; yet how sweet when he recognized the taste: it was oil! Oh, how the brothers rejoiced! And yet how very lost they were in the maze of oily black canals. There seemed no way out and no ferryman in sight, until at last one of the brothers spotted a strange sight in the distance: a dark and splendid demon on the horizon! “This must be our ferryman!” said one of the brothers (who cared not to notice the demon’s many arms, each holding a bludgeon or other such weapon). They advanced upon the demon, begging him to grant them passage and some sweet water to drink. The demon, however, made it known he had come to take the brothers’ lives away. The brothers, so used to getting their way, attempted to trick the demon into leading them onward. “Grant us passage, and we will give you half our fortune!” the brothers said, having no intention of fulfilling this promise. But the demon refused, swinging his flail with such force that the brothers rolled in pain upon the marshgrass, oil dribbling from their deceitful mouths. Fearing for their lives, the brothers offered the demon all the oil that lay in the tanks of their refineries in the West. Again the demon would not listen and shook his four arms with a mighty wail until their bodies wrenched in spasms, the poisonous oil eating great holes in their stomachs. At last one of the brothers begged the demon to let him write down one last thing. This humble wish the demon granted, and so the brother wrote with his own blackened blood: “Brothers from the West, make good use of your lives, for we who had riches of oil beyond measure could not buy ourselves even a single flask of sweet water in the marshes of this demon! Brothers, realize the true value of your days!”

The sacred pomegranate grows upon the topmost branches of the exquisitely rare century oak, a tree that flowers but once over the course of its entire life. And what few trees there are grow only within the sacred grove at the top of the highest hill, guarded by a ferocious demon. The flavor of this fruit is sweet beyond comprehension. No man who has heard of the sacred pomegranate will leave even the most satisfying of meals without wondering - “Ah! The sacred pomegranate! How flavorful it must be, to make all this seem like ashes in comparison!” The actual eater of the pomegranate is in a far greater predicament, for in contrast to it, no other food seems appealing, or even edible. But so few specimens of the sacred fruit ripen in a man’s lifetime that no one has tasted more than the thinnest sliver. Even if one was so fortunate as to be granted free access to the tree, its scant supply would soon doom the eater to starvation. One day a young maiden arrived in the valley below the high hill. So lovely was her dark hair that she could seduce demons by the radiance of her lustrous mane. For a mere glance at it, the demon of the sacred grove thought the pomegranate a small price to pay. Thought he: I shall give her the fruit; she will taste it, pine for it, and then starve; and I shall put her head upon the topmost branch of a century oak, so that I might forever gaze upon her beautiful hair. But the maiden anticipated this plan and feared her fate if she should taste the sacred pomegranate. So she took the deadly fruit to a wandering gazelle she had befriended and offered it to him. The gazelle, who understood nothing of the sacred and the profane, ate the delicious fruit with joy and saw no reason not to continue eating coarser foods afterward. As week after week passed, the maiden remained in fine health and the demon realized that his plan had failed. “Her appetite is as robust as before! Perhaps the fruit I gave her was too small, perhaps it was overripe!” He gave her fruit after fruit, but to no avail. Finally he said to himself, “I must see what she is doing with the sacred pomegranate.” Thus was her plan detected. The demon was angry. “Cursed maid! The crop of one thousand years did I waste on this foolish gazelle!” He howled and howled, bent on her destruction. But the gazelle then spoke: “Demon, do you not see the service that this girl has performed on your behalf? For if you could possess her tantalizing hair, would you again take pleasure in your fruit? And when the hairs drop out and shrivel, would you not be overcome with woe? Do you not see that her pretty young head is as delicate an illusion as the sacred pomegranate - and therefore just as dangerous? See how she cares for you, demon, though you care for no one!”  
Few today notice the large number of hardriim in their midst, staring silently from their lookouts atop municipal buildings, in ancient fountains, or hidden within the sacred glades of formal gardens. But this was not always so. Many years ago experiments were undertaken to determine the true nature of a hardriim. It was found that a real hardriim is harder than bone, slowly calcifying in all the limbs until a stonelike quality is exhibited. One learned man of science declared that when somnambulating, a man becomes hard. Others stated that it could be very dangerous to waken a person in this state, as the stone limbs could become permanent. It was eventually determined that an absolute belief in the unfathomable was the most frequent cause of a true hardriim. This state is rarely encountered in daily life, but is observed in saints, lovers, and dictators. The common denominator is the intensity and delusional quality of the absolute belief. In some circles it was pondered why there are so few female hardriim. Experimenters found that the rigidity of the male belief system was simply far greater than that of a woman. They also found that hardriim are is capable of astounding feats and that their stone limbs feel little or no pain. Some claimed that a hardriim could be created using mesmerism; others likened it to the sleeper whose soul leaves the body, never to return; and yet others claimed that the repeated abuse of the sap of the baanisterii caapi vine would produce a hardriim of unparalleled density. It was also found that an excess of whirls from the dervish could initiate the condition - and that it could be undone by a simple reversal in the direction of the rotation. Some postulated that an overwhelming love, turned to obsession and madness, could produce a hardriim, but others dismissed this as pure priapism. The rigidity of mind of a dictator was shown to make the most dense hardriim; witness the manifold stone monuments found in the elegant parks and boulevards of their many fiefdoms. A preponderance of statuary is sure evidence that the dictator, in the midst of somnambulation, was awakened by a telegram in the night declaring dissent in the provinces; or perhaps outlining a new war to be pursued; or worse still, revealing a fine truth in need of swift and absolute suppression. It was found that there is little one can do in such instances but erect the stone hardriim on a pedestal and search for a replacement tyrant as quickly as possible.
  Herders and barnsmen have spent generations keeping watch over their various four-legged charges, ensuring that the docile only rut with the docile. Bred-in: to be shorn easily, to be ridden long, to be slaughtered deftly; bred out: to bite, to wander off, to jump the fence. Bled-in: fear of the dark, dependence on man for food, obedience to the crook and the whip; bled-out: the ability to navigate by the light of the moon, the nose that can scent young grass two-days’ trot away, a hoof that quickens its pace away from the man calling after it. It is true that now, were a herd of cattle to be abandoned in their fields, six generations forward the calves would still amble towards a man who might approach with thoughts of tender flesh for his supper; were the shepherd to meet his end down a precipice whilst driving his sheep to market, a century later the descendents of the flock would be grazing the same slopes, and their milk would still be sweet. But there are three types of beasts whose feral, cunning, ways are a birthright they will not let be stolen from their offspring: the goat, the cat, and the boar. Any one of these creatures, even one who has known the warmth of the stable on a winter night, the caresses and saucer of milk at the hearth, or worn the padded, belled, collar around his neck, will willingly abandon these supposed comforts of domesticity when given the first chance. But Herders and barnsmen have great pride, and the disobiedient ones are not tolerated. Cats are put into sacks with stones and thrown into the river, or cast upon a bonfire. Goats are cudgeled if slow, or chased to the edge of a cliff and pelted with stones until they cast themselves off into the void. Boars are the most difficult of all, because of their great size and sharp tusks. The boar is intricately restrained and repeatedly beaten until it submits to bearing a great weight, which limits its available strength. The man thinks he has won when he sits astride; the boar thinks he has not yet lost so long as he is not yet turning on a spit. Thus do the herders and the boars spend generations keeping watch over one another in an uneasy truce
  A month ago we managed to encapsulate the pestilence in the yolks of chicken eggs, which were fed to a hundred dogs as night fell. We slit the dogs’ throats and carried them to the base of the hill just outside the city. We strangled the night watchman when we arrived and laid the dog carcasses on their backs at twenty-foot intervals completely encircling the wall. As we fled, the first vulture arrived; within an hour the vultures were joined by jackals and rats, the carcass bellies were ripped open by beaks and claws, and the plague swiftly entered the city on the tongues of the scavengers who drank from the same troughs as all the other inhabitants of the city. By our calculations, the entire population should have succumbed a week ago, and so at that time a flyer scout was sent out. He saw no movement in the city, only a few bodies littering the streets; the limers were dispatched immediately to disperse their fine white powder. Another week, and the city would have been safe for us to enter on foot. We work as quickly as we can; there are others who share our aims. While the lime did its work, one of the scouts spotted a band of twenty men on foot, allegiance unknown, approaching from the west. We buried our least essential supplies in the sand and sent out scouts to the north, east, and south. The scout to the south reported a small group approaching by air; we estimated their arrival would coincide with the men on foot. When they drew near, it was immediately clear that the city held no great interest for them; the men on foot, however, were another matter. We prefer to achieve our ends through others who may momentarily have interests in common with ourselves. We prefer our handiwork to be credited to others. So we waited. No sooner had the men in the air jettisoned what they hoped would incinerate the men on the ground than the wind drifted slightly north, and the dome of the very building we had intended to enter was split open with a blaze of fire. The men in the air did not turn back to finish off the men on foot. By their movements it is clear the men on foot don’t understand that what is precious within the domed building will remain untouched by the fire, and that what it is concealed within will be cooked in such a way as to poison any who enter the building. Now, again, we have only to wait. All these men will die, the wind will eventually dissipate the noxious fumes, and then we can enter the city and take what we came for. The figure now on the parapet is the only one we will have to deal with; but after what he has seen it is likely that his senses will leave him, and he will run headlong into the open desert, shortly to die of the usual consequences

Oh my beloved, the great marshes are abloom with wildflowers! Come, sweet one, let us tarry in the vast open chamber the sea of grass affords to us - for surely the prophet himself washed each delicate blade with the clear dew of his tears before he ascended to his throne atop the great blue-grey dome of morning! Let us linger over the sensual illusions of your dying kingdom one last time: “Tea leaves of the Caliphate; Omani peaches, Shami apples and Osmani quinces; cucumbers of Nile growth; Egyptian limes, Sultani oranges and citrons; blood red anemones; Yemeni violets, Ceylanese eglantine and Wahabi narcissus; dried henna flowers and Tihimah raisins; ostrich eggs and feathers; willow flower water and open work tarts; winter gilliflower honey, Lebanese lemon-loaves and Tyre soap cakes; Zaynab’s sweetcombs, musk scented fritters and Kazi tit-bits; loaves of Muscat sugar and pickled safflower; Tunisian olives and orange flower water; sweet creams from the milk of dromedary and oont; cakes of Persian sweetmeats and Alexandrine enfilade; myrrh-wax candles, a lump of Afghani male incense, Khazari ambergris, Algerian musk and hard Syrian cheese; aloe wood, sandlewood, and eaglewood; Ottoman cushat and merle of Zanzibar; gilded chamberlains and hearts of mameluke; Nubian apricots, kumquat of Bahrain, and even a pomegranate from the courtyard of the Great Mosque of Bagdad . . .” Your voice trailed off. A brace of egrets lifted themselves into the shimmering air and hung suspended in front of the blood red sun. Perhaps you were long dead, buried under the mud that lay beneath my bespangled slippers. The sky opened and you spoke to me from your perch on the high throne of the blue-grey dome: “Barbary assassins and suicide bombers; Iowan human shields; Nubian letter bombs and domain-enameled Migs; Copernicus elastomeres; asymetrical warfare scenarios and pre-emptive strike doctrines; penetrating execution systems, terminal threat ballistics and depleted firewalls; Van Eyk monitoring, Al-hussayn missiles, and peashooter ordnance; open source uranium; semiautomatic ground cover and deception hardware; dreadnought breeches, blunderbuss bombadiers, and dragoon blowpipes; autonomous refueling booms; embedded reporters; assault eschellons, bunker busters, antisweep devices and armorÐpiercing tracers; hard target kill potentials; high altitude jammers, early warning bouquet mines, and multiple threat emitter systems; cluster radiological drones and deployable doppler rockets; night observation devices, ceiling zero chatter, and world target mosaics; Mother of All Bombs . . .” Come, my beloved, let us return to the fluted damasks and enameled mosaics of our bedchamber by the old courtyard, let us linger on the carved wooden filigrees and arabesques that decorate its many doors and shutters, for I wish to see one last time  
An itinerant dervish, wandering the ancient desert, came upon an isolated monastery in the dunes. Tired, thirsty, and hungry, he knocked on the huge oaken door, hoping for food and shelter from the cold desert night. He was shown into a large dining hall, where he was given some bread and soup. Hearing that they had a visitor, the clerics and novices of the monastery gathered around his table to watch him eat. When he had finished, the head cleric said, “Come, brother dervish, and gaze into our reflecting pond. It was blessed by the prophet himself and has magical properties!” He followed the clerics out into a large courtyard enclosed by columned arcades full of deep blue shadows. At its center was a rectangular pool. Fragrant water lilies graced its surface, while small golden fish drifted placidly below. “Behold the sinful world of the infidel!” cried the head cleric. At once a bacchanal appeared in the inverted reflections of the still water: drunken men engorged on rich sweetmeats cavorted with women with painted faces on a lush riverbank, while a pampered lapdog feasted on the rotting spoils. But as the dervish looked at this scene more closely, he began to notice dissatisfaction in the faces of the revelers. As they fell into stupor, they gazed longingly into the river and saw exotic visions of the East in its inverted reflections: a man conversing with the gods in a bleak mountain hermitage, an ascetic levitating above hot desert sands, a sadhu renouncing all worldly possessions, an emaciated guru relating this very tale to a group of lowly disciples. But the vision did not end there. The dervish saw the emaciated guru staring into his cup of chai and imagining himself telling this same parable to attractive groups of naive young Western women in gilded Californian ashrams surrounded by parking lots full of posh motorcars. In turn, the callow young Westerners, enraptured by the esoteric wisdom of the mystics, looked deep into the meditation pond of the ashram and saw in its waters an itinerant dervish gazing at the small golden fish that drifted placidly below the fragrant water lilies in the reflecting pool of a lonely desert monastery. “Why, I see nothing but small golden fish swimming amid the water lilies,” replied the dervish, resolving to leave the monastery at once.

He stood in his greatcoat, surrounded on all sides by a desert whose sands had yet to be warmed by the rays of the morning sun. How long had he wandered, how had he come to where he stood? He remembered a city of endless glittering white winding corridors, each leading to a blindingly bright courtyard resplendent with shimmering mosaics of a crystalline substance; a woman serving him brackish water from a dented copper kettle; a burning ache in his leg that would not go away (was that before the ever-present clanging?); a street, now empty of inhabitants save for a lone black bird, perhaps it might have been a mynah bird, he was not sure, he had gone over this too many times in his head to know whether he was summoning up the memory of a black bird or a real black bird, but whatever it was it seemed to say something to him; a boy of twelve following him throughout the alleyways, ever beckoning, “Tea, sweet mint tea, tea, sweet mint tea” a sudden, low buzzing screech, followed by a rumbling, which he had felt first in his bones, then in his guts, and which made the world silent thereafter; a metallic taste in the back of his throat that would not go away; a thick, choking cloud that brought tears to his eyes; crawling along the base of one of those endless walls, crawling with his face to the filth of the city street, until at last the winding dirt lane unfurled into the desert sands and fresher air; a quiet stumbling onto the sands, only his nose to lead him away from the salty stench of the burning city, the same nose (was it his own?) that led him to the rich musky stink of a mule or ass, he wasn’t sure which, he did not know how to tell the difference, he was sure one was the child of a horse and donkey and one was not (or was an ass the child of a donkey and a mule?), he kept running it through his head, he was sure he would remember which it was, but whether ass, mule, or donkey, it never answered his questions, so he stopped asking. The creature had been tethered to a post and seemed to have a goatskin waterflask and a sack of preserved dates tied to its back. It must have led him here, but where it was now he did not know; he had drifted into a half-dream where the dates and water were gone. A beggar had come to him across the barren wastes (he had given him the last of his dates, or had he eaten them himself?). The beggar had spoken into the emptiness, his words forming a harsh silence that rang in his ears, his eyes peering deep into the darkness behind the sky and beyond, into the endless night, the last of the dates dribbling from his ruined mouth: was he that beggar? - it scarcely mattered, as he was merely a cold and solitary star, lost in a distant constellation he could no longer see

  After a very long day traveling upon the sand hills, an itinerant merchant asked his bicycle if it preferred going uphill or downhill. The bicycle responded quite firmly: “What is important to me is not the uphill nor the downhill when I cross this great desert: it is the load I must carry that matters most. For today you burden me with all manner of your wares: embroidered sandals whose toes curl ever upward and yet provide little comfort; five goatskin water flasks whose corks will never dry; seven unripe gourds the shape of mullah’s turbans; a gamy white chicken ready for the pot; a haunch of gazelle dried and cured in the sun until it is as hard as a stone; a hollow drum whose beat echoes with the muezzin’s pain; a stick barbed with vicious iron spikes, ready for the infidel’s head; four bound and wrapped scrolls of ewe skin for the scribe’s deceitful pen; a cedar pole for mashing the date palm’s pith into a thin intoxicating wine; a flag to signal your enemies’ imminent defeat; a sparrow hawk’s tethers of crude chamois; enough pepper to spice a barrel of camel stew but not disguise its fetid taste; twelve eggs of the extinct elephant bird; a water bucket whose walls collapse when dry and leak when wet; three broken crutches to hold up your unbroken limbs; enough salt to dress the sultan’s table and make his heart weep; enough rope to cure the blasphemers of their bitter delusions; a pair of black boots with no soles; three round flasks with the appearance but not the substance of polished silver; a caged scorpion whose venom glows at night . . . and yet with all these wares we are carrying, who is feeling the greater burden - you who must sell it all to feel you can acquire all you need, or I who needs nothing but the steady thrust of a man’s feet upon my pedals to roll me onward to the ever-distant horizon? I will travel upon this desert road when you are long dead and gone, for the weight of my desire is so light and the burden of yours so infinite.
Once so cocksure and ready to lord it over us all, these foreigners now cry out like frightened children, their last gasps escaping trembling lips as they flail in the clasp of my jaws. I would laugh at their folly, would it not loosen my grip on their fattened limbs! When I first met them, they approached the marsh bringing gifts of tender creatures from the grasslands some distance away: hares and partridges such as I had never before eaten. Misunderstanding the local language and customs, they were under the impression I was a regional deity. It is true I was, and am, feared by many; some go miles out of their way to avoid crossing my path, and others will tie a young goat on the banks downstream some distance from the place they wish to cross with the rest of their herd. These men sought to supplicate me once, and that was the wisest they ever were in their conduct. Even so, it was soon evident that the reasons these men had for courting my favor were foolish and ignoble: they seemed to think that if they were seen to be in my good graces, their enemies would fear them as much as they feared me. After some time passed, they realized I could not grant them what was not mine, nor anyone’s, to confer. They did not blame themselves for their own error of judgment, or try to learn from it, as would any wise man or clever beast. Instead, among themselves, they decided they would try another approach altogether to achieve their means. They had other strategies, modern methods, and many resources at their disposal. They even began to say I was not anything much to fear. They began to trample through the marshes as they pleased. Can they truly be surprised at where they find themselves now? Have these men perhaps been brought to their senses at last by virtue of their present discomfort? 
The desert travelers are three. The number of packages is not three, but five: two are in the hands of the eldest, who walks ever at the fore; three are upon the staff of the youngest and twist upon it in the passing of winds and sandstorms. The middle child carries nothing. He descends, however, every ten thousand steps, and fills his hands with two great fistfuls of the burning sand. With each step, he releases a single burning grain from between his tightly clasped hands. Thus, only the middle child knows how far the desert travelers have traveled. Once, he mapped the entire desert, using only these sand grains to measure distance. The desert travelers call him “the Hourglass.” Today, however, is different. For today the desert has met the earth. They see it clearly: there is greenery. The youngest and the eldest are anticipating, at last, a respite from their endless motion, an opportunity to extend their arms to full length once again, with their packages - the two, and the three - laid down upon the solid earth. The middle child, however, releases his burden sooner, at the very border of the desert and the grasslands. His grains of sand - so hot that they have hardened his hands like the horns of a dread boar - may not leave the desert. For if he were to use them upon the dry earth, to count his steps in circling the desert upon the fruitful mud, he knows that he would surely descend into weeping. For the desert is small - perhaps a thousand steps, perhaps ten thousand - encompass its entire circumference. The middle child knows this. And yet how many hours, days, and years did those three desert travelers dwell within it, lost amid its mirages and dunes! Still, as the grains descend to the desert floor, all three travelers begin to sense that there is something wrong. As grain after grain touches the ground, the greenery begins to recede; they burst into a run, which they have never done throughout all the ages. Breathless, they find themselves atop a high dune. The desert surrounds them. The middle child descends into weeping. 
My name is not Atlantis. My shores are dry, my houses parched, and my children now rejoice over foreign waters. The guests here are few and do not stay for long: there is not enough water here; let them go elsewhere to find water. Once there was a smithy, who tempered steel in the ash of subsurface volcanoes; he was pleased at how easy it could be to cool the straining metal in the currents that surrounded his shop. Once he scalded an eel while doing this, and wept, and ate the eel. But he, too, has forgotten my name; his shop lies abandoned. So there were fish here once: yes, schools swam through the streets of my youth. But they receded with the dying ocean, and now, in the desert, my tears well up alone. Do not remind me of what was and is not; do not lament your lost lovers and the destiny of your empty jug. The waters are gone, soothing though they were; my domes are broken, and I am unnamed: neither Atlantis, nor City, nor anything besides. 
One Remarkable Note is all it takes to subdue a man. Errors have been made in this regard; it has been thought that two notes or three notes might be necessary, even that a particular sequence of notes might be necessary. But this is an error, because all it takes is One Remarkable Note. One day, the Remarkable Note was traveling through the desert and was accosted by a flautist. The flautist thought to himself: the Remarkable One is capable of subduing a man, and I hope to be able to subdue a man. Perhaps I will kiss the Remarkable One and hope to subdue him. This happened, and the Remarkable One was subdued. Now, for an ordinary entity, to be subdued is to become subdued. But the Remarkable One was not ordinary. And therefore, although bound in the bonds of the flautist, the Remarkable One determined that he would assert his semantic independence. This is akin to the words that, though restrained by the boundaries of the paper, may nonetheless spell “Burn This Leaflet” and rebel. People had heard of the Remarkable One throughout the land, and very great was their fear. Seeing this, the Remarkable One began a reign of terror. Many men were subdued by him. Women shrieked; children fled in horror. The Remarkable One was cruel and domineering and forced the populace to conform to laws that were filled with mischief. Then the populace tried to resist in the traditional way, by stopping up their ears with plugs of wax. The Remarkable One subdued this, too, and soon there was a law forbidding the production of waxen plugs. Then they decided to rebel in a new way, and joined in a chorus. Many notes were struck, including the Remarkable One. However, this caused the chorus much pain, like a great blow to their innards. So all forms of resistance stopped. In this manner, the flautists could be carefully regulated. Many years later, the Remarkable One was asked: How is it that you rule over us? One Remarkable Note responded like this: Both you and I can strike One Remarkable Note. But when you are struck by One Remarkable Note, you are caused much pain, and you desist. And when I am struck by One Remarkable Note, I too am caused much pain, but I sing louder, I sing through the pain. 

How many have made the mistake of forgetting the one true thing! Is it any wonder that so many wish to partake in the austerity of this vast desert and deny themselves the pleasures of the senses? Lo, traveler, I tell you this: station yourself beneath this almond tree, and you will see them wander past in an endless procession, all in search of the one true thing. And the arc of their yearnings will always take the same shape. In the cool quiet of the morning it will seem like a promising day to search for it; under the roasting sun of noon it will seem unattainable; in the burnished softness of the sunset, the glowing prize will seem at their fingertips, just beyond the distant horizon; dusk will bring confusion: is the great day of wrath approaching? the uncertainty is intoxicating; night comes, and the seeker looks back upon the day - there is no quest, he is one with what he seeks and always has been; finally, awakening momentarily, just before dawn, the futility, the despair as he realizes the one true thing is further away than ever, he is locked in the miserable prison of its absence! Rest, weary traveler, and I will tell you more: the one true thing is that which once forgotten can never be remembered! Never! Behold these fools who parade through these barren wastes! They are in hell! The very devil himself has entered them, and they are cursed! As the day progresses, they will gradually forget their wretched condition - for in the forgetting of the one true thing also lies the remembering of it. The mistake is to remember that you have forgotten it, for then it is indeed lost forever. It is already far from you. A new question forms in your mind: did you ever possess it in the first place? You did not. Close your ears to the cry of the distant bird! Traveler, let us share some tea, let us look upon this glorious desert gilded by the setting sun, for now I shall tell you an amazing thing: there are those who dwell in the Eden of the one true thing! In paradise! They are those who have never even conceived of the one true thing, and have thus attained the splendor of the inconceivable. Come, let us walk among them; we shall sit and drink our coffee in the square, beneath the lanterns that hang from the branches of the great tree. 
A merchant set off one morning for a day of trading in the great tower that stood in the central plaza of the cities’ business quarter. As he approached the huge building, the merchant saw a terrible sight: a morning star descended through the haze of early morning and smote the great tower in a mighty explosion. People ran shrieking and bloodied as debris fell from the smoke-blacked sky. “The apocalypse is coming!” somebody cried. The stricken merchant crawled through the burning rubble, his face blackened and his eyes wild, fighting through the panicked crowd. The black plume seemed to pursue him like a huge watchful eye as he fled home to his wife. Together they stared in bewilderment through their window at the smoking tower in the distance; when night finally fell, there were no stars in the sky. The following morning the merchant awoke from a deep sleep. His wife had already left for the marketplace; hazy sunshine streamed in through the window. The merchant recalled the previous day and felt a great foreboding as he roused himself, yet when he peered out upon the city an amazing sight greeted him: the great tower shimmering in the blue distance, unchanged! The dazed merchant could find no way to account for such a miracle, so he set out for the business quarter as he would any other day. How relieved he felt as he walked along the canal through the saltmonger’s district, surely it had been a most vivid dream! But as he neared the tower, he found himself unaccountably hoping that it would be smote and burnt once more. The merchant stood at the edge of the plaza, his mind so filled with the destruction of the tower that it seemed scarcely credible that it still stood before him. The long shadows on the pavement were soft blue yet hard edged - and where were the people? there seemed to be none. Slowly, silently as he drew closer to the tower, he saw the morning star appear in the top of the sky, or was it in his mind, he could not tell. Its silent shriek pierced the morning, it was as immovable and inevitable as death. The merchant realized that he alone held the shrieking morning star in his mind and he alone would determine whether it would smite the tower or vanish from the sky, that he must choose between the world of the gods and the world of men. Crushed by the weight of this decision, the merchant collapsed to his knees, the morning star forever suspended between the roof of the sky and the pinnacle of the great tower. And so year upon year the populace of the city fucked, shat, ate, and traded as men will do, never paying any mind to the old beggar who sat forever staring at the great tower. If a stranger might ask, they might reply, “Oh, he never recovered from the destruction of the great tower!” leaving the mystified stranger staring back and forth between the unblinking eyes of the old merchant and the obviously undestroyed tower. And if that stranger asked them about the great tower, their perplexed reply might be: “What tower do you mean, my friend? We do not build towers in this city.”


Circular River

After the Russian counteroffensive that pushed the Germans back behind the Dnieper River following their defeat at Stalingrad in 1942, Peter Hesselbach was listed as missing. In actuality, it seems likely that he deserted from the army, which he detested, with the idea of traveling on foot to Mongolia. At some point in his wanderings he was captured and sent to a prison camp in Siberia, where he was interned for several months before he managed to escape. During his imprisonment, a change seems to have come over Peter; his diary records that he began to experience recurrent nightmares and gaps in his memory. Inspired by stories he’d heard in the camp, he resolved to head for an isolated section of eastern Siberia occupied by the Buryat tribe, a land bounded by a vast circular river and a ring of mountains: a land almost completely unknown to the west.
In the summer of 1944, the Royal Excavation Corps decided to dispatch an expedition to try and find Peter Hesselbach. The question of why the Corps decided to attempt travel to one of the most inhospitable regions on earth to search for an obscure ex-glider pilot from an enemy nation during wartime with is open to debate. Certainly Peter was very well liked, and had been a valuable asset to the Corps, but this seems slender justification for such a quixotic venture. And how did the REC even know where to search for Peter or even that he was missing? The answer to these questions lies in the psychic phenomenon that was at the heart of the REC’s wartime researches: remote viewing.
In July 1944, Tyler McWeeks, a remote viewer with the Corps, had a particularly clear remote viewing session. In it, a white man sat and watched a procession of Turkic-featured men wearing antlers march through a flat, featureless, boggy landscape under a blank grey sky. “I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but the white man looked just like that German chap who designed gliders for us,” he told Corps head Gordon Bindon-Bhore in the subsequent debriefing. Further sessions drove the already over-excitable McWeeks into a frenzy: “He can see the future, he can unwind the past, he is dreaming this conversation! He can project himself anywhere in time, he is madness, he is fire, he sees the burning cities, walks their streets, he has touched the unspeakable!” Remote viewer Colin Brockman also found himself feeling this pull: “ . . . he [Hesselbach] grabs my face and stares into it until I am looking out of his eyes, seeing his visions . . .” As the more and more of the remote viewers were similarly effected, Bhore came to feel that Peter Hesselbach had somehow mastered the remote viewing phenomenon and other things beyond.
Gerrard Westcott, Bindon MacRupert, and Ian Brockman were selected to undertake the expedition to find Peter Hesselbach. Gordon Bindon-Bhore, always interested in gathering anthropological data, insisted that as a secondary objective, the expedition should photograph and study the customs and rituals of Siberian shamanism. To this end, he supplied the expedition with several panoramic cameras with the stipulation that they keep a photographic record of their progress. Ian Brockman, by far the most level-headed of the team, was placed in charge of keeping the expedition’s log. Finally, on June 2nd, 1944 the expedition set sail for America aboard the steamer Penelope; several weeks later, after a long journey by train, they had reached Alaska. From here a specially fitted cargo plane flew them into Siberia, and airdropped them into the featureless, blank expanse of North-eastern Siberia. 

 Flight & Wartime

PETER HESSELBACH early gliding pioneer and avid photographer, was born near the provincial German city of Darmstadt in 1907. He studied engineering at the Kohn Gymnasium, graduating at the end of 1924 “with exceptional honours”. In 1929, he and fellow German gliding experts were brought over to Truro, Massachusetts by J.C.Penny Jr. and the American Motorless Aviation club (A.M.A.C.) in an ultimately successful attempt to break existing gliding records. In 1936, Peter Hesselbach received a letter from Royal Excavation Corps (R.E.C.) Head, Gordon Bindon-Bhore, offering him a position as coordinator of the Corps new gliding program. At the time Peter was unhappy with his job as an inspector of municipal works in Darmstadt; the invitation seemed a way to return to what he loved doing most, gliding. He wrote back by return post accepting the offer. His arrival that March at R.E.C. regional headquarters in Wiveliscombe, Somerset was greeted with profuse enthusiasm. The excitement proved contagious, as a letter to his old friend Capt. Roehre illustrates: “As soon as the weather warms up, we are leaving on an expedition into the sandy coastal flatlands north of this village. We will be taking 10 different gliders and as many as 30 men with us - it seems almost too good to be true! I have yet to see the designs, but Bindon made extensive notes during the A.M.A.C. trials, so their technology can’t be too far behind ours.” It was indeed too good to be true. On the eve of the team�s departure for the coast, Bindon-Bhore and MacRupert unveiled the R.E.C.’s new fleet of gliders at a meeting of all expedition members. These consisted of several pairs of hastily constructed rawhide wings and one exceptionally flimsy canvas gliding suit, equipped with special arm holds so the wings could be flapped. “Peter turned completely pale and his neck contracted like a turkey’s,” Bindon recalled later.

Despite his reservations, Peter’s name was listed among those who departed on the North Wessex expedition on May 10, 1936. After a few days of uncertainty, he found himself enthralled by the openness of the landscape, the ocean vistas, the dramatic swirls of cloud - “the feeling is like that of a Caspar David Friedrich painting of the Ruegen,” he wrote to Roehre. He also began to warm to the task of making the gliders flyable. Abandoning the stiff, heavy oak frames for lighter, more flexible ash, he reconfigured the design into a more aerodynamic shape, over which he stretched and restretched the rawhide over a period of days, trimming it each time until it was gossemer-light. By late June he was able to report a flight “of well over three quarters of an hour, at a maximum altitude of almost 75 feet” with the redesigned ornothopter. During this time, Peter was well aware that most of the expedition members were involved in taking tinctures and decoctions made from hallucinogenic herbs and spices, undergoing deep hypnosis, using ritual objects to go into trance states. The Expedition was ultimately undone by these practices when Brockman and MacRupert found a large cache of hallucinagenic honey near the Taw delta. In 1938, as war became inevitable, Peter Hesselbach was called back to Germany for military service. Due to a misreading of his work with the R.E.C., he was assigned to the Deutsches Pionierren Korps (DPK) to blow up bridges on the Eastern front, instead of to the Luftwaffe where he more properly belonged - an uncharacteristic error in the usually efficient German bureaucracy. His name was among those listed as missing when the Russians broke through the Dnieper line in the July of 1943. The Royal Excavation Corps, learning of his disappearance, sent a rescue expedition to Northeastern Siberia in hopes of locating him. (see The Circular River Expedition)


By all means enter and take sanctuary in the Greensward. But to those who seek comfort in nature’s embrace, remember: “winter’s e’comin’ in” -- for lest we forget, all greenness comes to withering.


“This head of green just like a knave, for such a guest is meat, as if asleep here rests the brave, below the turf three feet.” - Song of the Antiquarius from “The Barrow Diggers”
The Ballad of Greenmeat had yet to be written when Charles Woolls, later the Reverend Woolls, began his nightly pillaging of the local barrows. (It is still quite astonishing to what extent the archaeology og pagan England owes a debt to the clergy.) At this point in his career Woolls’ antiquarianism was an illict habit; having found women and alcohol not to his liking, he chose the comparatively safe pleasures of the illegal dig.
It had been common practice in the Dark Ages in the coastal towns around Porlock to bury your ham or muttonat any sign of marauding troops, whether Roman , Norman, or Dane as they had little else of value to protect in such slender times. A certain rather slow farmer had buried the head and haunch of a fine ham in the odd protuberance that lay in the field just behind the village; thinking the disused grave barrow would act as a signpost to remind him where to retrieve the ham after all danger had past. However, he had little time to cure the ham in salt brine as was customary, so he wrapped it tight in seaweed that he had hastily gathered from the beach when the cry went out that viking ships were abroad. The dim-witted farmer forgot to hide himself in all the commotion and was promptly slaughtered.
1848 arrives and the young Charles Woolls begins to tunnel in the collapsed barrow. The soil is peaty, black and very acidic, the barrow having been built on a bog. (Peat bogs can preserve organic matter indefinately; bones, consisting of calcium, will disappear.) At three feet below the surface of the barrow, Charles encounters some resistence. He scrapes, very carefully, around the perimeter of the deep brown, somewhat resilient object; he believes he has found something quite significant. He lifts the heavy, fragile, waterlogged thing and turns it around to reveal the dark side, allowing the feeble light of his latern to define its contours.
Abhorrence, disgust, then a warped curiousity came over the young reverend to be. A face, neither man nor beast, but vegetable in nature, a mask of leaves that had subsumed into the flesh to become the flesh. Greenmeat.
The features of the swine, long flattened by the weight of soil and debris, lacking a skull to give it structure, melding with the salty leaves, had transcended time. Charles Woolls believed he had uncovered the tomb of the true greenman. The haunch was next to be discovered. A cloven Greenman, he tought, how strange. It was rather handsome, after all. He grew fond of it, cradled it in his arms. He'd write a ballad dedicated to it, as a mark of his love. People would come for miles to see his Head of Greenmeat. It would make Porlock, and himself, famous. - 1 2 3 GREENHOME -
PFINGSTHL: The tradition of “Pfingsthltäg”, or Greenman’s Day, is still going strong in small enclaves in the hinterlands of rural Germany. After the Pfingshtl parades through the village, children leave sheets of hoof lettuce before the tuere, on which they find “Pfingstbrezel” (Greenman’s Pretzel) in the morning. These strange creatures originated in pagan times and gradually became adopted by the church as part of the celebrations for pentecost, symbolizing spring’s defeat of winter. Pictured above are the “Maimann” (Mayman), the “Strohbär” (Straw-bear), and the “Latzmann” (Bibman). Photographs by Marcus Bullik, from his series “Volksfiguren der Dorfgesellschaft” (Folk Figures of Village Society). On the subject of Greenmen, Kathleen Blandsford writes:“these are often allusions to man’s own frail, fallen, and concupiscent nature and to his brief life on earth. The imagery is often ambiguous; a greenman who at first glance seems the very personification of ‘summar is i-comen in’ may on closer inspection reveal himself as a deadly horror hidden in the leaves. Their expressions suggest various levels of inebriation: belllicose, morose, even comatose, but seldom jocose.”    next

 Scotland Futurebog
1. Every 30 million years, the sun's orbit around the core of the milky way causes the solar system to pass through the spiral arms of the galactic plane; within these arms, in contrast to the emptiness of deep space, lie the vast clouds of loose cosmic matter from which comets are born. Billions of these objects are captured by the sun's gravitational field during its oscillation through the spiral arms, ranging in size from the tiniest dust mote to objects the size of our own moon. In their inert state, between the outgassings that give the comet its distinctive tail, these can be some of the blackest objects in the solar system, reflecting as little as 4 percent of the sun's light. It was during one such period that the apocalypse took place. The collision happened almost without warning, the object having only been detected half an hour before impact. Astronomers at the obscure mountain observatory of ---- elected to say nothing. The comet crashed into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, instantly sending half its volume into the atomsphere as water vapour, drowning those who did not succumb to earthquakes and tsunamis. Most of those who did survive, and they were few, were soon disheartened and died out, much in the way indigenous societies are devastated by the swift destruction of ways of life they have known for millennia. In any case, dense fogs rendered agriculture and hunting almost impossible. The exception were the bog dwellers of remote northern Europe. A hardy people, used to sodden atmospheric conditions and marginal existence, they hardly noticed the apocalypse.
 2. Or rather, it would be more accurate to say that the apocalypse was staged. Humankind, in its instatable desire for drama, tragedy, and excitement, had reached the point where it became necessary to plan and stage a vast apocalypse. This concept, once introduced, proved wildly popular - although at least initially, it was not without its opponents, who compared it to the lottery: millions disappointed, a handful ravaged by their new found bounty. But like the lottery, the apocalypse somehow resurrected the previously dead concept of hope. After many intrigues and skirmishes, control of the apocalypse was put in the hands of an international consortium, which in turn delegated local responsibilities to a multitude of associate directors and their subordinates in an attempt to ensure each member of the populace performed their role correctly. It resembled nothing so much as a vast bureaucracy. Computer projections were used to plot out the event - the consortium claimed this was to ensure ensure fairness, but in all likelihood it was due to the superior creativity inherent in computer solutions. The results of these projections were naturally not released to the public except in the form of highly selective trailers for the actual event - these only served to generate endless rumours and speculation, which is merely another way of saying that public interest was intense. People attended the endless rehearsals with great enthusiasm, even though they had little idea of the overarching plot. In private, however, the architects of the apocalypse were deeply disturbed by the computer projections - no matter how the machines were reprogrammed, no matter how the data was changed, the results were always the same: an empty, barren, sodden planet sparsely populated by tiny bands of mute bog dwellers. No less disturbing was the projected fate of the computers themselves as crude blocks of animal fat containing in their molecular structure almost infinite knowledge. These were to be carted about the deserted landscape by the bogdwellers for no discernible purpose. 
 3. When the fateful day arrived, the apocalypse went off without a hitch. There were those who wondered how the consortium had managed to lay on a comet, or even whether the entire episode was a random event that the consortium had used to create the necessity of its own being. But in any case, it hardly mattered, because in actual fact, there was no apocalypse. The majority of humankind simply decided to up and leave, and like many great societies (the Maya, the Etruscans, the Anastazi) left behind no reason for having done so. It would be perhaps more accurate to describe it as a mass migration, but a mass migration to a sister world, a world that overlaps this one almost exactly, but contains within it an unbearably irresistible attraction, some infinite promise that cannot possibly be described or communicated except by direct experience, a direct experience that transforms a person so completely as to preclude the possibility of ever returning to the world which one formerly knew to communicate it to those who have not undergone it. Imagine the mass exodus if a device were created by which that which could not be communicated could be communicated. Perhaps such a vehicle might resemble a block of lard. Why then the apocalypse? Perhaps it is just a rumour, a myth left behind by the survivors of some momentous change that occurred in the distant past, like the biblical flood. Certainly the mute bogdwellers reveal nothing of the events that led to their current condition. 
 4. In a certain sense, it is irrelevant to speculate on the origins of the bogdwellers because they have become free of the tyranny of history. For this reason traditional written and spoken languages have been abandoned in favour of obscure non-hierarchical acts; in the grand scheme of things, the moving of a stone from a bleak hillside to a gloomy valley a long distance hence has more significance than that of a stupendous invention or the invasion of one territory by its neighbour or even than that of the apocalypse itself. Within this schemata, the pursuit of personal comfort or happiness are unknown, and thus so is too is crime and evil. It could be said that the the bleak world of the bogdwellers is an eden, a paradise, a return to man’s natural state before the fall, but this would fail to portray the almost infinite darkness that permeates the brooding silences of their world. In fact, the bogdwellers resemble nothing so much as a people waiting for the apocalypse to be visited upon them, left mute in the face of its inexorable descent. Following on from these observations, it becomes impossible to say whether these men with their blocks of lard are those who have attained that knowledge which cannot be communicated and found it dark, or those who have rejected it and are condemned to carry its vehicle as their penance. But perhaps it does not matter: free of linear thoughts and actions, of the wheel of cause and effect, the bogdwellers are masters of time, and thus it is unimportant whether the apocalypse is before them or behind them, in the future or the past. Rather, like the gain and loss of momentous knowledge, the realization of great desire or the loss of all hope, they bear the weight of the apocalypse in each moment they are alive; each rock they move, each lard block they carry, simultaneously causes and averts the coming catastrophe that is now past.
 1. First it is something of a hum that is heard. It comes from the ground, maybe. Maybe it is a noise in the water. They hear it in the wider territory of Chicago, in Denver, in Maple Estates. Persons are in their vehicles when it begins, they are at home, in bed, watering down their areas, alive as ever. The sound is nothing much to know: a steady tone, a steady tone, a steady tone. You've heard it too, haven't you, but there is no profit in thinking of it. One can still speak, one can still live, there is nothing other to do. The days change and change and change. It is America all over the world. Tapes are made of the sound, which is a whistle, a shiver. It is recorded and stored, studied in rooms lined with baffles, figured at first to be a form of wind, however mild and breezeless. Nothing of music can be attributed to it. It is neither pleasant or rough, a boy's first syllable merely, unbroken and without consonant, too dim still for all to listen in. There is no effort to stop it yet, just curiousity, something to do. Community Solutions steps up to the job of knowledge. Machines are brought in from Akron and mile-wires fed down into the soil of every large city, past platforms and chunkrock and water into the very stone of the core of the world, where some believe the source to be. The wires go in and go in, gloved girls playing out sections of it from the spool mounted on the truck, their goggles bright under the spotlights. The wires are meant to pull noise off of its source, to listen. They are thin filaments to divine deep sound and remain as strings of golden weeds, chopped short as a new and glittering grass, vibrant to the touch. Everywhere in the cities there are these close-cropped clumps of shining wire, circled in fences, monitored by gentleman with auggie-boxes. Stethoscope, spool, wire. Something should be figured out. Coats are worn to keep the sound from beating them down. 
2. Still there is no occasion for alarm, no one is enough disturbed, what they feel is not exactly pain. But it is considered that the sound might be getting louder. The world still contains bicyclists. Cars advance onto the ether, people crouch in parks and look to their food, language is offered up as an accepted code for the life inside of them. Possibly there is no such thing as change. One can say that there has ever been a loudening sound, always this bitter rumble. A crumbling is noticed in the tree life, the trunks slightly soft, the leaves translucent. Were they always soft? Was it always thus? Men from other countries wear clear shirts. A newspaper report, something on the radio. The population mentions that their faces smart, their hands feel too distant on their arms. Small changes. A certain brittle quality is observed in nature's things and the hum continues. Nothing much can be done, no one much cares. They wonder if it is weather. They wonder what isn't weather. The buildings in their towns still glimmer and shine. Birds still perform the finest escapes. This is a comfort. Still there is a sunshine without boundary, an objective instance of shade to swell the hollow trails of objects. Nothing disturbed, a natural progression. Just this loudness that is upon them all. It is autumn or so when a mild instance of bleeding occurs. Children wake with a sweet-feeling ear, their cheeks sugared in sleep, somewhat wet. It feels good, as if something hurtful and permanent is finally removed from the ear. The ear can breathe now. New things can perhaps be heard. The blood is less visible in these cases, has not the alarming brightness of children's blood, emerges nearly apologetically and fades or blends or dies. It is just as real as your blood, only cooled down by sound. The children go on as much as they can, forward to school, a bit dizzy, but happy, suddenly older than they thought they might become, advancing into bigger bodies than they could ever have hoped for. The world is like a picture and they can move things around in it. 
3. There are children everywhere, naturally. Some have had the bleeding ear, some feel strong in the hands, believe themselves to be permanent on this earth. Who would not? They wear hard outfits of denim and cotton and hats, shout and cry and make up new words. Their teeth break when they speak. People complain that they cannot move. Certain people. Insist it is not paralysis, are simply unable to move at the moment, as if something as basic as breathing has been forgotten. From their windows they see men powering down roads in coats, fighting something. It is known that this is not an issue for doctors. The doctors are shy and worried. They do not finish their questions. Wisdom on the matter is uniform, the situation is deprived of experts. I am so tired. Please help me. I feel uncomfortable when I breathe. Language is used to get the message out there. People make statements. A certain kind of longhand writing occurs. Houses are implemented against the sound storm. Strong houses, quilted, packed with cloth, with bunting, with hair. Persons stop to rest at the houses and breathe from the tubes. They were headed somewhere and could not make it. Instances of work feel unattainable. There is nothing unrealistic to any of this. It feels boring and legitimate. When were we not dying? The air itself feels impossible for the traffic of bodies, words. Why not get some rest? Rest is the likely solution. If only there were a knob on the wall, a burled piece of something that one could twist on, a knob to dial down the world, to spin its sound into a thin line as distant, as harmless, as the horizon itself, where it would then flicker briefly before pulling finally from sight. If only.   (story by ben marcus
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