Living in such a state              staTesT              etats a hcus ni gniviL
of mind in which time               TAtEsTa               emit hcihw ni dnim of
does not pass, space                aTeSTaT                ecaps ,ssap ton seod
does not exist, and                aTeSTAtEs                dna ,tsixe ton seod
idea is not there.     taTEsTaTeStaTeStAtEsTaTEoFOfOFofO     .ereht ton si aedi
Stuck in a place      tatestaTEsTatesTATestatefOFofoFOfOf      ecalp a ni kcutS
where movements        esTaATeSTateOfstAtEofUnoFofoFoFOf        stnemevom erehw
are impossible                     ateOfsEta                     elbissopmi era
in all forms,                       ofOfOFU                       ,smrof lla ni
physical and                        giofnbE                        dna lacisyhp
or mental -                         uBuNBeI                         - latnem ro
your mind is                        gUNbein                        si dnim rouy
focusing on a                       unBEING                       a no gnisucof
lone thing, or                      NBeINgu                      ro ,gniht enol
a lone nothing.                     bEinGUn                     .gnihton enol a
You are numb and                    EiNguNB                    dna bmun era ouY
unaware to events                                             stneve ot erawanu
taking place - not                  KiLGORE                  ton - ecalp gnikat
knowing how or what              -= 1994-97 =-              tahw ro who gniwonk
to think. You are in                iS DEAD                ni era uoY .kniht ot
a state of unbeing....                                   ....gniebnu fo etats a



EDiTORiAL / MEMORiAL by the SoB staff



"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

-- Mark Twain


by the SoB staff

We never thought fireworks were that dangerous.

It was July 5 -- he'd been too tired from his dead-end summer job to join the real party the night before -- and he called us up, one by one, asking if we'd like to shoot off some fireworks he'd collected along the street. "Not even crushed!" he exulted....

But none of us went with him. We'd had our fill of cheap beer, pizza, and psychedelics already. He'd have to go alone.

And he did.

From the forsenics report, we can infer that Kilgore had driven his car out into a lonely cornfield, trampled down some withered stalks, and set up an altar of sorts, for the abandoned sparklers, spinners, Black Cats, and rockets he'd meticulously collected.

And there, in solitude, he'd flicked his lighter, watched the fuses burn, and gasped in joy at each explosion of colors in the black sky, falling in graceful arcs and dying in the wind.

Then, somehow, he lit up a tank of propane and bit the dust.

All they found was popcorn.

* * * * *

As a literary memorial, we thought it would be swell to collect quotes from some of our favorite editorials from past issues, those which best define Kilgore's character. (We couldn't get Puff Daddy to make a song on such short notice.) After doing so, to our perplexment, we noticed a distinct pattern hidden in the rambling mass. We won't insult your -- or his -- intelligence by spelling it out. Maybe it was indeed his final message to mankind.

#1: "Welcome, boys and girls, to the first issue of State of unBeing.... I've gotten great satisfaction from putting this e-zine together, and that's all I really wanted."

#2: "Well, here I sit on Valentine's Day, putting together the second issue of SoB. I'm quite surprised I made it this far..."

#4: "I just want to feel loved. Is that such a bad thing?"

#5: "Well, I lied."

#7: "Blow me. I think the wait will be worth it.... Trust me. Heh. Well, hell, I've been told it's nifty..."

#9: "I think you'll enjoy it, especially after two months without a new issue (oh, how could you survive? <G>).... Remember folks, today is a State of unBeing, where knowledge empowers us and absurdity keeps us human."

#9: "... we'll be reconstructing articles and try to get out SoB #8 sometime around Christmas."

#10: "... the reconstruction of SoB #8 is still underway."

#11: "We will be releasing number twelve as planned, and also number eight (the Lost issue) will be released as well."

#12: "Merry Christmas. Ho ho ho. Peace on Earth, and goodwill to men. Yeah.... Well, as you know, SoB #8 was supposed to be released today."

#13: "Also, The Lost Issue will be coming out next month..."

#14: "SoB #8 will be out some time between the release of SoB issues 14 and 15."

#15: "Big news this issue is that I put out State of unBeing #8 in between this issue and the last issue.... if you don't like it, go start your own damn zine."

#16: "Sometimes it's [a] hassle... being a zine editor."

#18: "I almost scrapped the zine at one point to do something else..."

#20: "Alright, well, it's after Thanksgiving, and we've got nothing to be thankful for."

#21: "I find loonies extremely entertaining.... Send in your submissions as fast as you can say, 'Nazi base in the North Pole.'"

#25: "(Fucking right, eh, Clockwork? Just WHERE the HELL are your SUBMiSSiONS? I've been waiting for AGES! Get them to me PRONTO or I'll FIRE your ASS!!!)"

#25: "... and then it's dead in the summer."

#27: ".... I thought you'd be happy."

#28: ".... If you want them to be innocent for their whole life, you'll have to start killing them young."

#29: "I wonder quite a bit what it is about August that kills issues."

#34: "I've got a real bad case of writers' block. Sucks. 'Nuff said bout that topic. Feh."

#36: "... dying in a car crash is just so unfitting for a man of my stature."

#38: "... I apologize for being a dumbass, and I promise it will never, ever happen again. Until next month..."

* * * * *

We held back the issue for last month, as a moment of silence in Kilgore's honor. Only we forgot to tell you that was why the issue was so late, and you got angry and upset. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Over the past few weeks, we've meticulously hacked into Kilgore's computer via a mysterious and poorly-documented Internet gateway and retrieved the bulk of issue #39. We considered inserting about seven unfinished stories of his as well, but Nathan decided, "the less competition, the better."

This issue is interesting, because you aren't. Weave your way through alien speculations, Irish martyrs, the travails of another perplexed media victim, neo-Communist diatribe, and various pieces of confusing poetrie and prose, none of which refers to our late editor.

Kilgore would have been proud, if he hadn't died on us. Our hearts go out to his girlfriend, who is surely missing his presence.

* * * * *

Remember to wear black armbands during the month of October to protest Kilgore's death. Oh, and on the 22nd, Ansat says to protest the police and stuff.



Kilgore Trout


Captain Moonlight
Crux Ansata
I Wish My Name Were Nathan


[=- ARTiCLES -=]


[Editorial | Next]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan

The explanation by the Air Force of what happened in Roswell in 1947 doesn't convince me. It's not surprising that there are many skeptics who agree that something is fishy about reports of crash test dummies and weather balloons being the explanation for rumors of space alien wreckage. This isn't my area of expertise, anyway, so I have no alternative explanation.

What does interest me is our national interest and ignorance in extraterrestrials. As I've said before several times, I don't know why, in all the vast expanse of the universe, aliens would look like humans, except with larger heads. On that progressive show Star Trek, aliens also resemble humans, many distinguishable by a furrowed brow or a nose cleft. I can understand the impact of a budget on creativity, but I dislike the simplistic assumptions that have been propagated.

Something else is flying saucers. Why have people latched on to the concept of flying saucers? Why would alien spacecraft spin around at high rates of speed entering our atmosphere? This would lead to dizziness and nausea, or, at the least, to the unfortunate floorward displacement of their coffee cups. Staggering out of a saucer with multicolored retch all over one's alien spacesuit is certainly not the best impression to make upon swarms of eager natives.

I believe that in our information society, the majority of what people believe comes from what they hear or read, not from actual experience. Psychologists say that those who claim to have actual experiences are unconsciously mimicking the stories of others. So, has anyone had a real alien encounter not colored by popular beliefs? I have to wonder.

The Roswell incident may have been genuine, but the sudden flood of alien encounters by others in New Mexico shortly after the story broke makes me doubt they were all true. The similarity of nearly every other alien story to the Roswell incident also makes me skeptical.

I think these similarities are unfortunate, because they have trained us to imagine aliens in one specific way, meaning, that if extraterrestrials visit earth, most people will be poorly prepared to handle it. Poorly prepared? Of course, especially if these aliens are as evil as most movies predict. Specifically, though, I refer to these tidbits of insight:

(1) What if we don't recognize aliens as living creatures? Father Guido Sarducci wittily announced that plastic lawn chairs are an alien race invading earth -- they are certainly new, unexplainable, and multiplying like rabbits. How do we know if it's only a joke?

Across the universe, I'm willing to bet that the humanoid body form is unique, and that a carbon/oxygen biological basis for life is rare. But without something non-earthly to compare against, how can we discern what makes something alive?

Philosophically, one of the burdens that leaves us poorly prepared to accept alien life is that of definition. Definitions arise from classification, and classification stems from identity. Mainly, we define ourselves and what is different from us. On earth, it is easy to classify human beings (well, relatively easy, considering the importance that 'race' still has on our preconceptions), animals (popular terminology -- mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds), insects, and plants as being justifiably distinct organisms.

Somehow, we agree intuitively that these are all alive. Scientists define "living things" as carbon-based organisms that grow, adapt, react to the environment, reproduce, and so on. But why is this definition necessary? Isn't it obvious that a jackhammer isn't alive, that a wooden fence isn't alive, that a computer virus isn't alive? I'm not sure it's inherently obvious. Some pantheist religions, for example, claim that everything is living. Several preindustrial cultures, namely tribal Indians, also incorporated this concept. Why don't we?

I think that our upbringing in a modernized, scientific society has spoonfed us a system that defines beyond a doubt what it considers alive. Currently, DNA-based organisms are considered of the same substance and officially "alive." All else is "non-living." I'm pretty sure that when I was a small child, I didn't really see a reason to differentiate the groups.

It's this institutional discrimination that handicaps those of us willing to consider the possibilities of extraterrestrial life.

Or perhaps I'm making a moot point. Would the average alien-seeker be at all interested to find out that meteors are alive, visiting earth but always burning up? Would it transform our beliefs about reality to consider that water is an intelligent creature?

Obviously, such suggestions are absurd...? If you think so, consider this additional obstacle:

(2) Must we imagine that any alien life that reaches us will be superhuman, technologically advanced, and supremely intelligent? Do our aliens have to be God? Again, our scientific prejudices tell us that, hey, if we haven't gone to other solar systems, then it must be something much better than us that could reach our planet.

I point out that our system of science and knowledge is still tied to centuries of preconceptions; never has a society invented a completely new language, culture, cosmology, and technology from scratch, except perhaps the first people that did so. So, although our science may be the best system of analyzing and understanding "reality" today, that doesn't make its findings, or the applications thereof, the most beneficial or useful possible by a long shot, especially considering the attitude of science towards paranormal phenomena.

But this is over the head of the average alien-seeker. Since we just discovered atomic energy fifty years ago, then they must have already mastered it, right? Since we formed a theory of relativity, they must already teach this in the womb. Since we have Quake, they must have Quake 2!

No! No! No!

Our society seems to think that "progress" or "technological advancement" means "overboard on everything." Their spaceships must be miles long, they must have the most deadly weapons of all, they must be the most ruthless things imaginable! Bigger, better, badder, right?

Frankly, I'm more impressed by the notion that the electrons in my body might have traveled billions of light-years to be in me today.

(3) The most insidious obstacle: if can't understand the myriad forms of life on our own world, what are the chances that we could comprehend something from another?

Last month I spent an hour watching a spider build a web on my front porch. I was amazed at the versatility of the silk as the spider rapelled eight feet, swung to another strand, and tied it to a bush; then how it took back the silk, recoiling up to the ceiling. I must have witnessed the first minutes of the act; I watched for a long time before I realized that these strands were the infrastructure of the web, finally noticing the spider labouriously making its way in circles to form the plane of the web. I realized dumbly that from the moment I'd started watching, an insect had already been caught and cocooned on a far strand.

The next morning, the web had been completely disassembled and was now blocking my doorway.

While I'd been watching that spider, I understood clearly how little it and I had in common. We were carbon-based, we had the ability to grow, adapt, react to the environment, and reproduce, although neither of us did the latter that night. Well, at least I didn't.

Did the spider notice me? Certainly not the same way I noticed it. I concentrated on the visible form of the spider. At the distance I stood from it, the image of the spider focused directly on my foveae, the concentrated groups of cones in the retinas of my eyes, providing my brain a clear image that I recognized as a spider. The spider's eyes are more suited to detecting specific hues of light, maybe including ultraviolet and infrared, but not an image. I'm not sure I stood out from the brick wall. Maybe it detected me as a fellow animal by my odors. I couldn't particularly smell the spider at all. I uttered a few poetic words to the spider before feeling silly. Although it might have heard my voice, its hearing apparatus resembles a tuning fork, and is restricted to a small range of frequencies. Most certainly vocal speech isn't in its repertoire.

Probably the best way for me to have communicated with the spider would have been for me to jump on its web. I'm a little big, and I would have destroyed it, but if we were a hundred times smaller, perhaps my distinct vibrations on the web would have identified me as a human.

I hope my point is clear. If aliens did arrive, even as similar to us as spiders, communication would be practically impossible. We couldn't teach them anything, nor they us, except maybe by observation.

Or, but have I mistakenly assumed that we would want to communicate, teach, or be taught by aliens? Perhaps if they aren't ignorant enough to be boring, don't die on entry, don't escape our definition of "alive," and don't psychically transform the human race, we can dissect them or stick them in zoos or drop a bomb or two on them. That would be interesting. After all, it's what we do to people we don't understand.

* * * * *

It's a strange thing, this fascination with aliens. While some human societies are xenophobic, alien-seeking Americans are classic xenophiles. But they're lacking in creativity -- if aliens were really alien, they would be so different that we couldn't recognize them in front of our own faces. I don't blame the dreamers, though; God Himself is supposed to be so different from us as to be incomprehensible.

And it seems neurotic in a way, to search the skies for mystery, to imagine the arrival of all-powerful forces that will either destroy us or transform us. But God Himself is supposed to do this too. Am I just bringing up that old point about aliens being a modern substitute for religion? Perhaps. If alien-seeking is a religion, it's already got the best ingredients -- scripture (Roswell, Communion, numerous personal accounts) and persecution (men in black, the gubment, rationalists).

I don't mean to downplay those people who claim to have had alien encounters; perhaps the brain is such that people can only see bulgey-eyed greys -- or perhaps the greys try to comfort us with this facade. Perhaps spinning spaceships are the means of transport that would let us notice them. Perhaps our two sexes are so endlessly fascinating that they actually will travel thousands of lightyears just to probe us.

I don't know.

I just urge all of you to think harder about what an 'alien' could be, all the ways it could differ from us, in form, function, size, consciousness, emotion, will, et cetera. Maybe you'll notice something around you -- or in you -- you've never seen before. In the meantime, I will bow humbly before the spider....


"And the cities of Europe have burned before
And they may yet burn again
And if they do I hope you understand
That Washington will burn with them"

--Billy Bragg, "Help Save the Youth of America"


[Prev | Next]

by Captain Moonlight

NOTE: Gentle Reader: This is the third and final part of a series. Part One and Two can be found in issues 18 and 37, respectively, of this journal.

-- Captain Moonlight


"Ireland shall be free from the centre to the sea as soon as the people of Ireland believe in the necessity for Ireland's Freedom and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to obtain it."

--Sean Heuston, in his last letter to his sister Mary

After the surrender, British troops rounded up thousands of Irish, some of whom were not even involved in the Rising. Many of those who had been outrightly opposed to the Rising began to sympathize with the rebels, especially when they or their families were carted off to prison. People like Eoin MacNeill, who had not participated in the Rising, indeed, was successful in keeping it almost completely isolated to Dublin, were arrested.

Without the approval of the British Government, General Sir John Maxwell ordered secret court martials and executions to take place. Between May 3 and May 12, fifteen men were executed for their part in the Rising, including the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Republic, before the British government was notified of these executions and stopped them.

In Cork, on May First, fighting broke out at the Kent house. This was to be the last battle of this Rising. Thomas Kent, Commandant of the Volunteers at Cork, was on the run during the Rising. Due to the extreme confusion the contradicting orders of Pearse and MacNeill, Cork was unable to mobilize during the Rising; before they were able to sort out the orders British troops had moved into Cork. At four in the morning on that day, a group of RIC came to arrest the entire Kent family, who holed themselves up in their house, Bawnard House, near Fermoy, and fiercely fought it out with the soldiers. The four Kent brothers, Thomas, David, Richard, and William shot at police, while their eighty-four-year-old mother loaded rifles and shotguns. The Kents held out for three hours after military reinforcements from Fermoy, after which they ran out of ammunition and surrendered. Constable Rowe of the RIC was killed during the fighting, and Richard Kent died of wounds inflicted while he was trying to escape. Thomas Kent was court martialled on May Forth for the killing of Rowe, and was later executed.

During the Rising a tragic love story developed between Joseph Mary Plunkett and the Republican self-ruler Grace Gifford, whose sister was married to Thomas MacDonagh. The two were scheduled to be married Easter Sunday, after which Joseph was to go off to fight in the Rising. Due to the circumstances of the Rising, however, the wedding was not able to go on as planned. After the surrender, Joseph and Grace requested that they be allowed to marry before Joe was executed. This request was granted. Joe was brought into the chapel handcuffed before dawn on May Forth, and, just after the two exchanged vows, Plunkett was marched off and shot.

In August, a sixteenth man was executed for his part in the Rising. Sir Roger Casement, who had washed up in County Kerry along with two other Irish, Robert Monteith and Sergeant Beverley (Daniel Julian Bailey), who was one of the few trustworthy people in the defunct Irish Brigade, after he left the U-19 in the rubber craft, was arrested and taken to London to face charges on treason. Beverley was captured by the RIC in Tralee and imprisoned, while Monteith escaped to county Cork where he evaded arrest, and eventually moved to America. Casement was the only Rising leader given an actual trial, though it was not really fair. Casement's Black Diaries, which implied that he was homosexual were later found. In order to get rid of all hope of support Casement might get during his trial, the prosecution had them circulated to the press. George Bernard Shaw tried to get him released, but knew it was a lost cause. Casement's legal team, rather than giving the defense that he did what he believed right for Ireland, tried to get him off on a technicality. Casement was found guilty of high treason and hung on August Third.

Two of the men executed, William Pearse and Sean MacBride, were not even part of the planning of the Rising, but were merely soldiers. William Pearse was executed because he was the brother of Padraic Pearse. Sean MacBride had been a thorn in the side of the British since the Boer War. He was also a member of the IRB, though not a member of the Supreme Council. In fact, he was on the way to a wedding when he met the Second Battalion and stopped to fight with them. This was seen as an excellent time to get him out of the way.

In prison, shortly before his execution, Eamon Ceannt wrote the following about the British (taken from A Dictionary of Irish History Since 1800, p. 63):

. . . I bear no ill will towards those against whom I have fought. I have found the common soldiers and the higher officers human and companionable, even the English who were actually in the fight against us. Thank God soldiering for Ireland has opened my heart and made me see poor humanity where I expected to see only scorn and reproach. . . .

The execution which caused the most public outcry was that of James Connolly. Connolly was the last rebel to be shot in Dublin. Up until the capture, since Thursday, his leg wound had been festering, and by now had turned gangrenous. Connolly, who had renounced Catholicism long before the Rising, repented during the Rising and spent part of the time before his court martial discussing Christian Socialism with his last Confessor, the Capuchin Father Aloysius. Captain James White, former trainer of the ICA, just returned from the Ambulance Corps in France, organised a Welsh miners' strike to attempt to save Connolly, but was unable to secure his goal. For this, White was imprisoned in Plentonville Prison, where Casement was also being held, the day before Casement was executed. Unable to even sit up during his court martial, Connolly was wheeled in on a stretcher-bed and his head was propped up with pillows while answering to his charges. After he was found guilty and had his last visit from his wife and eldest daughter, Connolly was driven out to Kilmainham Prison, where all those executed in Dublin were shot, and tied up in a chair, as he was too weak to sit up himself. According to Nora Connolly, before he was shot, Father Aloysius asked him to say a prayer for the firing squad. He replied, "I will say a prayer for all brave men who do their duty." He then prayed, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." A twelve-man firing squad then riddled his body with bullets and the commanding officer, the thirteenth man at the execution, stepped forward and discharged his pistol into the head of the twitching body. This execution ingrained permanently the title by which General Sir John Maxwell would thenceforth be known in Ireland: "Bloody Maxwell."

Those executed were as follows:

May Third:
Padraic Pearse, President of the Provisional Government;
Thomas J. Clarke, Treasurer of the IRB;
Thomas MacDonagh, Director of Training of the Irish
Volunteers, Commandant of the Second Battalion.

May Fourth:
Joseph Mary Plunkett, Chief Strategist;
Edward "Ned" Daly, Commandant of the First Battalion;
William Pearse;
Michael O'Hanrahan, Quartermaster-General of the Irish

May Fifth:
Major John "Sean" MacBride.

May Eighth:
Eamonn Ceannt (or Kent), Commandant of the Fourth
Michael Mallin, Irish Citizen Army leader;
Cornelius "Con" Colbert, Na Fianna Eireann leader;
Sean Heuston, Na Fianna Eireann leader.

May Ninth:
Thomas Kent (in County Cork), Volunteer head in Cork.

May Twelfth:
James Connolly, Irish Citizen Army leader, ITGWU head;
Sean MacDiarmada (or McDermott), IRB leader.

August Third:
Sir Roger Casement, Knight of the Realm, holder of the
South African Medal, Commander of the Order of St. Michael
and St. George, Irish Volunteers PR man in Germany.

Ninety-seven other executions were ordered, but none of these were carried out. Being an American citizen born in New York, Commandant Eamon de Valera was the most senior officer not executed, his sentence being commuted to life imprisonment. Countess Constance Markievicz was also sentenced to death, her sentence being commuted to life due to her gender. Thomas Ashe, who had led the Fifth Battalion into Meath, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Over 2,000 men and women were imprisoned for varying amounts of time for having rebel sympathies or for fighting. All those imprisoned were released in 1917 when amnesty was extended to rebels of this Rising.

Captain Bowen-Colthurst was found guilty of murder at his court martial, but was judged insane and released after twenty months in an asylum. He moved to Canada where he lived on a military pension.

After the Rising, many of those who were not killed continued their attempts to free Ireland. Eamon de Valera took over the Irish Republican Army (which the Irish Volunteers became during the Rising) with Michael Collins, another fighter in the Rising. These two were the major leaders in the Anglo-Irish War, the Irish War of Independence. After the War of Independence, which ended with the highly unpopular Treaty signed by Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, and the Republican delegation in 1921 which cleaved Ireland in two, the Irish Civil War broke out between the Republicans and the official Irish Free State. During this time, in 1922, Michael Collins, leader of the Free State's military force was killed during an ambush in County Cork. De Valera eventually gave up the fight which he had fought for so long to attempt to reconcile the governments of North and South Ireland and became President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State in 1932, after forming his political party, the Fianna Fail (Warriors of Destiny) in 1926. He declared Ireland a Republic in 1959 after being snubbed at a party by the Prime Minister of Canada, who was the son of unionist Irish parents.

The Irish Free State took quite a toll on those involved in the Rising. Cathal Brugha was killed in action during the Civil War while leaving Hamman Hotel near Four Courts while fighting on the Republican side. In 1922, a few months after Michael Collins' assassination, Republican fighter Erskine Childers, who captained the Asgard during the Howth gun-running, was executed by the Irish Free State Government for owning a revolver which was given to him by Collins himself. (Owning a gun was at this time a capital offence.) Captain Liam Mellowes, who had escaped capture at Galway, was executed in 1922 at Mountjoy Prison, along with three others, for the assassination of Sean Hales.

The Countess Markievicz took the Republican side during the War of Independence and Civil War and kept up her Socialist workings. She attempted to reconcile the two Irelands in the Irish government and battlefields. She died in 1927 after becoming the first woman elected to the House of Commons. She never lived to see the Irish Republic.

Two months after his release under the amnesty of 1917, Thomas Ashe was again imprisoned, sentenced to two years, for inciting the civil population in County Clare while campaigning for Eamon de Valera. He started a hunger strike among the inmates, and died while being force-fed on September 25 of the same year.

Austin Stack, who was to have landed the Aud arms, had his sentence of death commuted to life imprisonment, and was freed under the general amnesty of 1917. He fought for the Republicans during the Civil War, and died in 1929, the victim of ulcers caused by his five hunger strikes while imprisoned.

1916's Irish Rebellion and the following executions inflamed and enraged a Nation, not only sustaining the Irish desire for freedom, but providing the push to help make that dream a reality. Ireland yet remains divided, slashed in two by religions and ethnic hatred, but the faltering steps of her people towards a lasting peace have begun, and the day will come that Gall, Gael, and Gall-Gael, under the united title of Irishmen, will cry together "Erin go Bragh!" Our day will come.

The following was given by Connolly to his daughter Nora Connolly, who smuggled it out of Kilmainham after her last visit to him before he was shot. It was reprinted in Nora Connolly's The Irish Rebellion of 1916; or, The Unbroken Tradition (pgs. 187-188) and James Connolly's Labour and Easter Week (pgs. 177-178).


To the Field General Court Martial, held at Dublin Castle, on May 9, 1916.

The evidence mainly went to establish the fact that the accused, James Connolly, was in command at the General Post Office, and was also the Commandant-General of the Dublin Division. Two of the witnesses, however, strove to bring in alleged instances of wantonly risking the lives of prisoners. The Court held that these charges were irrelevant and could not be placed against the prisoner.

I do not wish to make any defence except against charges of wanton cruelty to prisoners. These trifling allegations, that have been made, if they record facts that really happened, deal only with the almost unavoidable incidents of a hurried uprising against long established authority, and nowhere show evidence of set purpose to wantonly injure unarmed persons.

We went out to break the connection between this country and the British Empire, and to establish an Irish Republic. We believed that the call we then issued to the people of Ireland, was a nobler call, in a holier cause, than any call issued to them during this war, having any connection with the war. We succeeded in proving that Irishmen are ready to die endeavouring to win for Ireland those national rights, which the British Government has been asking them to die to win for Belgium. As long as that remains the case the cause of Irish Freedom is safe.

Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence, in any one generation of Irishmen, of even a respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that government forever a usurpation and a crime against human progress.

I personally thank God that I have lived to see the day when thousands of Irishmen and boys, and hundreds of Irish women and girls were ready to affirm that truth, and to attest it with their lives if need be.

(Signed) JAMES CONNOLLY, Commandant-General,
Dublin Division, Army of the Irish Republic.


Connolly, James.  Labour and Easter Week.  Edited by Desmond Ryan;
    Introduction by William O'Brien.  Dublin: At the Sign of the Three
    Candles, 1949.
This work is a collection of some of the short works by the Socialist Rising leader James Connolly, covering the years 1898-1916. Most of the works published herein were first published in various Irish Socialist periodicals, and would most likely not be able to be found elsewhere. Portions of the text have been annotated by the editor, Desmond Ryan. It includes an Introduction by William O'Brien, which discusses the Easter Week Rising, of which he did not play a direct part. O'Brien was a friend of James Connolly, was a founding-member of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, and was on the committee which planned the Socialist actions during the Great Lock-Out of 1913. James Connolly has also written many other works, including Labour in Irish History and The Reconquest of Ireland.

Connolly, Nora.  The Irish Rebellion of 1916; or, The Unbroken Tradition.
    New York: Boni and Liveright, 1919.
This work, written by the daughter of Rising leader James Connolly, gives good first-hand information on the Rising. This work deals mainly with Nora Connolly's part in the Rising, with the first part dealing with the events preceding the Rising, and the later part dealing mainly with the events happening in Northern Ireland, where Nora Connolly was living, during the Rising week. This work seems to be very accurate, despite the fact that it was printed just three years after the Rising. Ms. Connolly has also written at least one other book, Portrait of a Rebel Father.

De Rosa, Peter.  Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916.  New York: Ballantine
    Books, 1992.
    ISBN 0-449-90682-5; LCCN 91-72955.
This book on the Rising is one of the best now in print that I have come across. This work deals not only with the Rising, but also with its causes and after-math. This book follows the Rising day-by-day throughout Easter Week and into the Executions. It is told in a lively narrative manner good for the casual reader.

Doherty, J. E. -- see Hickey, D. J.

Dunsany, Lord [Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany].
    Patches of Sunlight.  London & Toronto: William Heinemann Ltd., 1938.
This work is the Autobiography of the Anglo-Irish writer and poet Lord Dunsany, who lived in County Meath at the time of the Rising. Lord Dunsany fought with the British Army against the Rebels in the Rising, and was wounded and taken prisoner in the Four-Courts area of Dublin. In this work he devotes about three chapters to the occurrences which happened to him during the Rising, though he does not discuss the aftermath of these events as they played on others in Ireland, due to the fact that the primary goal of this work was to point out how different aspects of his life affected his literary works. There is no relation that I am aware of between Joseph Plunkett and Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett.

Haycraft, Howard -- see Kunitz, Stanley J.

Hickey, D. J. and Doherty, J. E.  A Dictionary of Irish History Since 1800.
    Totowa, NJ: Gill and Macmillan, 1981.
    ISBN 0-389-20160-X.
This encyclopedia-format work, the result of six years' research, is one of the best works on 19-20th century Irish history for the researcher now available. It offers good cross-referencing within the work, and is useful as long as one is searching for specific topics. The two main problems with this book is it offers no index and has no bibliography, thus offering no further reading.

Kunitz, Stanley J. and Haycraft, Howard.  Twentieth Century Authors.  New
    York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1942.
This encyclopedia-format work, though not dealing much with the Rising, gives short biographies of several of the Rising leaders. Included are articles on the poets Padraic Pearse, Joseph Plunkett, and Thomas MacDonagh, as well as an article on Erskine Childers, Captain of the Asgard during the Howth Gun-Running of 1914, who wrote the spy novel The Riddle of the Sands.

McCarthy, Joe and the Editors of Time-Life Books.  Life World Library:
    Ireland.  New York: Time-Life Books, 1964.
This book gives some good general information on the Rising and its aftermath. It does, however, wrongfully state that the Irish Republican Brotherhood was an off-shoot of Sinn Fein, when it in actuality predated Sinn Fein by almost fifty years, and may contain other errors of the sort.

MacManus, Seamus.  The Story of the Irish Race (Revised Edition).  Old
    Greenwich, CN: The Devin-Adair Company, 1921.
    ISBN 0-517-064081.
This work offers a good chapter-long history of the Rising, along with some of the events which led up to it. This book gives some good general information as to what was happening both inside and outside Dublin during the Rising.

Pearse, Padraic Henry.  Political Writings and Speeches.  Dublin: Talbot
    Press, 1966.
This is a collection of Rising leader Padraic Henry Pearse's speeches and political writings from 1912-1916. These works are important in that they give the reader a look at why Pearse believed a Rising necessary despite the odds that they would lose. Included in this work is Pearse's powerful speech which he gave before the grave of the Fenian O'Donovan Rossa, often quoted by writers on the Rising, writings on the Irish Volunteers, his work "The Murder Machine" about the public education system in Ireland, and "From a Hermitage", the work which was noticed by and led to his induction into the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Plunkett, Edward John Moreton Drax, 18th Baron Dunsany -- see Dunsany, Lord.

Ryan, Desmond, ed. -- see Connolly, James.

Smith, Goldwin.  A Constitutional and Legal History of England.  New York:
    Dorset Press, 1990.
This work does not deal with the Rising directly, mentioning it only in passing, however it does give some, though not much, information on the Third Home Rule Bill.

Somerset Fry, Fiona -- see Somerset Fry, Peter.

Somerset Fry, Peter and Somerset Fry, Fiona.  A History of Ireland.  New
    York: Barnes & Noble, 1993.
    ISBN 1-56619-215-3.
This work gives a short (one-chapter long) account of the Rising. Though not in-depth, the information given in this work is good to the general reader. This work also gives some information about the Rising in other counties, which is not mentioned in many other places.

Steffan, Jack.  The Long Fellow: The Story of the Great Irish Patriot, Eamon
    de Valera.  New York: The Macmillan Company, 1966.
    LCCN 66-10164.
This biography of Eamon de Valera, who later became President of the Republic of Ireland, though mainly for younger readers, gives some information on the Rising. That information given, however, deals mainly with the Third Battalion's (that under de Valera's command) actions during the fighting, and does not give tell much about others during the Rising. When others are mentioned it is usually not by name, simply being mentioned as a Rising leader, presumably to keep younger readers from having to remember too many names. This work is a good introduction for younger readers to the life of Ireland's first recognized leader and the Irish situation.


"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow."

-- Helen Keller


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by workclock

Some people may think the following may be sick, twisted, perverted -- that it is this kind of thing they wouldn't want their kids to see, think, feel, touch. And perhaps they might be right, but fuck it, right? The only way to get people to acknowledge an object or situation they wouldn't normally acknowledge nowadays is to cause it to explode right in front of them, hopefully searing a tad bit of flesh in the process, so they won't ever forget.

You will have to forgive the slanted violent tone present in some words here -- I just finished watching a whole collage of destructive films. You know, the kind conservatives find in their teenage daughter's room and storm around in a rampage because of, waving the videotape around in the air as if in the middle of a wildly popular sermon, threatening to burn and maim and destroy.

Starting with The Doom Generation, the "heterosexual film" by Gregg Araki. Critics seem to either worship or despise this man and this movie. The first ten minutes or so it was difficult for me to decide whether or not it was supposed to be taken seriously, or whether it was a comedic take on the teenage attitude and mind. And then I decided it really didn't matter. The words and actions of three angst ridden teens forced me to go, "Hey, that was high school." That was how my high school existence went. Not so much word for word, event for event -- I don't believe I killed anyone during those years -- but that whole film is how that time played out in my head, and sometimes in real life. How it played out in the heads of my girlfriend in my junior year of high school, and just about everybody else I happened to be acquainted with. I both enjoyed it and was supremely bothered by it. There wasn't any need for me to think about how damn intelligent and cool and correct I thought I was when I was fifteen, only to realize how unbelievably naive and ignorant I must have seemed. Just like there isn't any need for me to think about how damn intelligent and cool and correct I think I am now, only to realize I'm probably as naive and ignorant as I was then.

And that film was calmly followed by Seven, after a brief intermission of stand-up comedy on the Comedy Channel. (Ain't cable grand?) There was this gentleman -- not quite a gentleman, a guy -- who started his routine, and his first few jokes were mild failures, and then he suddenly stopped and starts saying how he was going to do his material, but he suddenly decided not to, and instead he was going to talk about his life. And he paused for a moment and sat on this stool, and I wondered if this was part of his act, or was this guy actually semi-flipping out and baring his soul. And then he just babbled the rest of the time about his childhood, and his dad, and he babbled in a way that was real, but with humor. One continuous stream of life. When he was done, I still couldn't figure out if it was him or his routine. But the crowd cheered wildly nonetheless. I want to believe it wasn't just a routine. Seven doesn't need to be explained, I feel, although it is not the graphic depictions of the victims that sickens me, unfortunately I'm fairly desensitized to such a thing. It is the ending that makes me want to vomit. It makes me feel physically ill, emotionally traumatized. I won't discuss exactly why. I am completely against divulging films content, climax, or finale with those who may not have seen it. And I get extremely pissed off at those who do such a thing to me.

So, needless to say, I was in a rather odd mood by this time, combined with the fact that I was stoned throughout this entire period -- something which I don't normally do at all. And I begin to think about the same thing I have been thinking about for a large amount of time recently. What am I doing? What is he doing? What is she doing? What is everybody doing? Waiting for something spectacular to happen? Droning about just waiting for something out of the normal process of a Monday or Wednesday to occur? And see, the thoughts and feelings of those times aren't accurately communicated in the things said above. Not at all. There's something much more to it which I cannot explain.

It is an interesting thing how people absorb and deny the existence of pornography in the world. I am not going to rant on about the classic moralistic debate about pornography, so you do not have to worry about that. It is a large, booming business, spread around the world, in movie theaters, book stores, on your television, radio, computer. And one of the more popular versions available on your very own PC is live video conferencing. Whether it be just a camera shot at some strip joint, or a one-on-one session with some chick on a bed, with a remote to control the camera, and maybe a system right next to her so she can talk back to you, or maybe just streaming hardcore video. Whatever gets you off. Teens, coeds, lesbians, amateurs, Vegas strippers, Amsterdam sex shows -- whatever. And sure I have seen them. Why not? I masturbate just like every other male on the planet, if not every other human. Haven't had sex -- not even a real date -- in about two years, so I have grown somewhat dependent on my own means. But why do you need to know what?

Sometimes I will just sit there and watch, though, and wonder what goes on in their heads. What makes them come to the decision that they will masturbate in front of a camera for hundreds of strange men and women they will most likely never meet? Some look truly sad, some truly bored. Most fake being turned on, which is easily seen. And I wonder if the ones watching know this and just go right along with it, or if they fall for the act. And there are some women who actually get into their job, and don't have to act. It's all very strange really. And if I think about what I am actually doing -- sitting there just watching some strange college-aged female stare into the camera at many faceless faces, including my own, I feel quite dumb.

I've seen girls just lie naked by the computer next to them and do nothing but type and laugh at what's being shown on her screen. For fifteen, twenty minutes. Nothing sexual done or performed. Who knows what is being said to her. And she just acts like she is in the privacy of her bedroom, where no one else can see, and acts natural. I've even seen a girl, doing just the same thing, grab a marker and a piece of paper torn out of a spiral, with its tattery, torn edge and all, and write I love you, Dan. Dan wasn't what she wrote, but I don't remember the guy's name. Wacky.

So I sit here and think about what I've casually typed for the past 45 minutes, and I the only thing that comes to my mind is "blech." I haven't written much in a long time. Part of me feels as though I've lost the ability to communicate my point effectively in the written word. Part of me feels as though I don't have a point. And part of me says those parts are wrong. And then all of me says I'll just write, and write some more, possibly writing crap, but perhaps sometime it won't be crap. And all will not be for naught.

Wow. Even that sounds like crap. La dee da.


"A Parable, from the Proletariat to the Bourgeois youth: I cried that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. What are you whining about?"

-- Crux Ansata


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[flashback to 1994]

by Crux Ansata

Three years ago, 1994, the last time I was working in New York, I wrote the first "Meditations", about the prison reflections as I lived in the City. Now, back in New York, I'm back on the subject of politics. This, I'm afraid, will be less focused than the previous two "Meditations", but I will be covering a range of political -- and very personal -- topics. A kind of combination of Meditation and Diary, consider it my memoirs of New York.

It has been quite a summer. I finally accepted the end of a relationship. I rode a bus from Texas to New York. I got a drinking problem. I got over a drinking problem. Three days later, I got it again. I fell in and out of love in the space of a week. (If I keep telling myself that, maybe I'll stop missing her.) I read some Marx, I read some Genet, I read some Fowles, I read some Leary and some Wilson. I learned HTML the weekend after I assured my boss I was practically an old expert at it and, of course, could program her web site and company intranet, no sweat. I blew a bunch of money on CDs, and more on books. About a week before I left Texas I watched and listened to a tornado tearing up houses across the street, and a few days ago a bomb almost went off on my subway line.

Yup, quite a summer.

I hope everyone gets something out of it. (Special thanks to Captain Moonlight for hand-carrying this back to State of unBeing Headquarters.)

I. The Bombing

Thursday, August first, I was late to work. It was not my fault this time; they were rerouting the subway trains. Apparently, two streets down from me, bombs were being prepared for the train I take to and from work. Saturday and Sunday every week I go through that station on the way to Long Island. There were noticeably more police persons infesting the tunnels this weekend.

Four of the eight people I work with -- including my brother and I -- ride that train daily; a fifth lives down the block from the targeted subway station. It was a little amusing to listen to the respective perspectives. As readers of State of unBeing well know, I am a strong believer in the value of terrorism as a means for social change. First, though, I suppose I ought to give some background for those who didn't bother to read past the headlines.

Two Palestinians carrying Jordanian passports and living in Brooklyn were reported to have been planning to set off bombs in the Atlantic Street subway station, Brooklyn. Upon being informed on by their apparent roommate, the police burst into their apartment and opened fire, sending both suspects to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. Everyone in the building was arrested. (One family -- father, mother, four month old son, and two and a half year old daughter -- spent twelve hours in the police station for the crime of having unacceptable neighbors. Others were held longer, and there were some reports that residents of and workers in nearby buildings were roughly handled for being Muslims.)


The American youth, it has been my experience, pride themselves on their open-mindedness. I find that rather pathetic, when I observe that their so-called "open-mindedness" extends only to the perspectives that are currently fashionable. I'll address this later, but I'll give some examples here. "Open-minded" means you accept homosexuals. Not accepting homosexuals is a thoughtcrime. "Open-minded" means you accept racial integration and miscegenation, by force if necessary. Not accepting this is a thoughtcrime. "Open-mindedness" means being fashionably anti-Christian. Christians, of course, can't be open-minded. (We can't say the same about Jews, though. That's a thoughtcrime.) Accepting drug use, supporting the decriminalization of marijuana. These are fashionable, and so open-minded. Opposing them is thoughtcrime.

Among the "open-minded", that is.

This is not quite off topic, but the pretended tolerance of the American youth has been getting more and more irritating to me as time goes on. Terrorism is one of those areas the American youth is, as a rule, constitutionally incapable of being open-minded about. "Terrorism bad" is the standard brain programming. I am a bit more capable of viewing situations objectively, and I can see how terrorism -- as the press uses it -- can be justified, and even cases where it may be the best choice available. For the Palestinians, fighting the occupying force of the Jews and the collaborators within their own ranks, terrorism seems a valid option. (My discussions of the definitions and defenses of terrorism can be found in earlier articles in State of unBeing, by Bobbi Sands.)

Many people won't listen until they are in danger. The Palestinian in occupied Palestine lives constantly in danger. The Palestinian can be shot for carrying a gun; the Jew is required to carry one. The Palestinian has been occupied by a military regime since the forties; the Israelis have defeated every attempt on their land since the nation has existed -- and attacked first every time. Americans have a hard time seeing that, since we live on the blood of the third world so routinely. I, for one, have a difficult time even conceiving of a world where I earned and deserved all my material goods, or even where my family did. The Palestinians have to struggle to survive, not just to avoid getting busted smoking pot or screwing their girlfriends.

This is a pointless battle. Those capable of looking at the world can no doubt already see that when a nation is oppressed by a state -- Israel -- that rules by what fits every fair definition of terrorism, with the financial and military backing of the world's only current superpower, they can be understood if not outright supported when they take to the rifle and the pipe bomb. I'll assume that the average American kid, without the stomach to fight for freedom or look fraternally on those who do, has already walked off to take a hit of acid or watch Beavis and Butt-head. I'll pretend someone has gotten through my bitterness and talk about something more relevant.

Assuming terrorism may be a valid method, and the Palestinians have a valid claim, we have a couple of more issues: Was this a legitimate target? and Was this a useful topic?

Even the truly open-minded, who can see that maybe terrorism is a valid means for social change, may have difficulty seeing that the United States is a valid target. The United States has been propping up the terrorist state of Israel since it first made its bloody appearance in the forties. Aside from training, military aid, military intelligence, law enforcement support, and diplomatic assistance, economically the United States -- both privately and publicly -- has been pouring money into the Israeli coffers at unbelievable rates. I have yet to come across a single instance of a loan to Israel being paid back, and much of the money goes across in grants.

This money, which finances military occupations, torture, terrorism -- national and international, this money comes from our paychecks. Politically and economically, we each of us, every one of us reading this in the United States, bears responsibility for the blood of the Palestinians.

As to the specific location, the subway station, I personally would not have chosen it. Unfortunately, this group was not particularly class conscious, and targeted a multi-racial, mostly proletarian train station, with the intent of maximizing fatalities and, hopefully, media coverage. (This is speculation based on newspaper reports, but appears to conform to the facts.) Personally, I would have selected one of the vast number of soft targets further uptown, were fewer individuals but more of the bourgeois would have been killed. But, I did not make the selection. In my opinion, the station was not the best target, but was a defensible one.

I have no particular fear of being killed by a terrorist. As I told my mother when I talked to her the day after the raid, "I have nothing particular planned for the rest of my life." To be martyred in the effort to free the Palestinian people does not seem like a waste; certainly less of a waste than many deaths in my sociopolitical demographic. (White males lead the nation in suicide rates, for example. Another example of an oppressed minority it is a thoughtcrime to defend.) I would be truly a hypocrite to say that terrorism was defensible, so long as it happens to someone else. I not only believe in my politics; I'm not shocked, offended, frightened, or angered when I think I could have been killed for them.

I wish I could look into the face of America and see even ten percent, five percent, who were willing to die -- not even fight, just to die -- for something they truly believed in.


At this point, I'm going to foist my opinions on Hamas on my reader. Most Americans seem to know anything they know about Hamas -- as they know anything they know about anything -- from the mainstream media. On the subject of Hamas, that means they have accepted their masters' commands to view Hamas as "bad Muslims who blow stuff up." This, of course, is a distortion. Having dome a little reading of documents both by and about Hamas, I have come to see a different side.

True, Hamas does tend to deal in terrorism. As I go over terrorism in other parts of this article, and as most people are simply emotionally incapable of viewing the world otherwise than through their "terrorism is bad", imperialist tunnel vision, I'll not belabor the point. Instead, I'll glance briefly at other aspects of Hamas.

One aspect people don't seem very familiar with is that Hamas is a political party. Indeed, they are a popular political party. Hamas as the major Islamic party, and, with the PLO, one of the top two parties in Palestine. (They might be illegal now; I'm not sure. I know the PLO has tried to decrease their power.) Even in many Christian areas of Palestine, Hamas polls stronger on election day than the secular PLO. This means, of course, that even non-Muslims feel safer being ruled by the Islamic Hamas than the secular PLO, a concept many Americans are incapable of grasping.

Hamas does not just deal in bombs. Hamas builds schools. Hamas runs community kitchens. Hamas makes a real effort to work with the people. Hamas, in the course of trying to defend the people from oppression by the occupying Jews, has felt compelled to use violence. Again, most Americans seem incapable of accepting this, but it is what they felt necessary.

I do not know Arafat. I have a measure of respect for him, due to his long track record of struggling for his people. I have suspicion of him for other reasons, and I disagree with some of his policy decisions. In my opinion, Arafat sees himself growing old, and wants to see some measure of freedom for the Palestinians before he dies, and this awareness of his own mortality has led him to accept compromises he ought not. The Palestinian Authority has become as oppressive as the Jews. They collaborate with Shin Beth; they arrest and abuse fellow Palestinians for political dissent; apparently they rival their masters in torture and abuse of prisoners. It is unfortunate that, as the world is now, with America backing the Israelis, not much better can be gotten without bloodshed. But, as the world stands now, the Palestinian Authority seems no longer the friend of the Palestinian people.

Despite my respect for Arafat and the gains for the PLO, and my obligatory bad feelings about innocents being killed, I have to say that I respect the goals of Hamas today, too, and rather with the average American, even the average American who thinks he is free of his national prejudices, would take a look into what the so-called "terrorists" really do, really believe in, really want, before they condemn them out of hand.

But prejudices don't go away, they merely fall out of style.

The Raid -- Gunfire and Informants

I am cynical. I have been writing pretty vaguely about terrorism and Hamas, assuming the motives speculated on in the press. I don't have any particular reason to believe otherwise, but I do have some doubts about the situation. I'll discuss a few of them here.

My biggest question has to do with the informant, a Pakistani who happened to be living with the accused and turned them in allegedly the day before the raid. My father fought in the Cold War, against Stalinism, centralized government, and the oppression of an oligarchy in the guise of Communism. One of the reasons most moving to me why we were opposing the Stalinist model of society was that trust was undermined. Informants were encouraged. Children were encouraged to turn in their parents, friends their friends, neighbors their neighbors.

After every terrorist attack in the United States, I see more centralized government, police state lobbyists talking about how we need more informants and infiltrators, keeping an eye on everyone, just so they don't get it into their heads to do anything to change the system. A hundred years ago, there was no such thing as the FBI. Before World War II, there was no such thing as the CIA. Although I agree with the horror expressed in I Wish My Name Were Nathan's article "Regarding a Bombing Trial" over the recent anti-terrorism bills, I am much more disturbed by the cultural trend that allows infiltrators and informants, undermines trust and community solidarity, a "me first" "ethic" that is so embraced not just by the Capitalist class but increasingly by the so-called rebellious youth.

An injury to one is an injury to all. As long as people refuse to see that, as long as they spend their days seeking their own wealth and pleasure, we can only expect to see a reflection of that in decreased rights and increased state centralization.

A second concern has to do with the gunshots. I am not attacking particularly the police here. Policemen as individuals are similarly tools of the ruling class. (Keep in mind that the soldier on the other side of the battlefield is similarly a pawn -- but a pawn it is just to kill.) The reports of how the gunfight began disturbs me. Most of the reports say that the suspects were shot going for a bomb. They seem to agree that one of the suspects went for an officer's gun, but the New York Times puts a different spin on the bomb story. The New York Times quotes the criminal complaint as saying one suspect "moved toward a black bag, which later was found to contain an electronic device". Think about that for a moment. Think about yourself, awakened in the early morning to people pointing rifles at you, dressed in body armor, and then opening fire on you because you reached for a bag which they only later found to have anything in it.

Think about a society where virtually no one thinks twice that two people were sent to the hospital, riddled with bullets, when the police saw them going for a bag, because, after all, they were "terrorists", and Muslims, too.

My final concern has more to do with motive. Early reports claimed one or both of the suspects were associated with Hamas. Hamas denies this, and to the best of my knowledge Hamas has never acted on United States soil. Later reports indicate one or both suspects was associated with Israel, and it is known at least one was deported from Israel. The most cynical part of me, noting that the target area was not prominently Jewish and that this follows on the heels of a strike against Israeli citizens claimed by Hamas, recalling Israel's history of setting off terrorist attacks against Americans and sometimes blaming them on Arabs (as in Egypt, for example, or the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty) wonders if this was not a set up by the Israelis, or perhaps one by the rulers of the U.S. looking for increased "anti-terrorist" power. There is no particular reason to believe this theory, though. Just something to ruminate on, while I move on to another topic.

II. The Bus

From the first volume of my summer diary:

1956 2 June 1997

This begins my travel journal, as I ride out of the Austin station on my way to Dallas, then Memphis, and finally a more than twenty four hour trip to New York. The driver says we have a fifteen minute stop in Temple, where I will have a much wanted cigarette. My family waited until the bus left, so I haven't had a cigarette in well over twelve hours. They've been hiding in my sock for hours.

I think my family is petty bourgeois. Mom had a proletarian job, and Dad started as a proletarian, but I think officer class is petty bourgeois. This adventure takes me firmly into the proletarian life I loathe so much, and it has not begun well.

I notice I do not particularly mind being cramped or uncomfortable. I do mind being dirty, and I notice most -- dislike most -- the people. They seem so tired, so alienated, and so depressing. The bus stop is not like a plane terminal. The bus stop has no families excitedly talking to people, no happiness. Instead of shops and restaurants, the bus stop has vending machines and gray people sitting in gray chairs staring at gray televisions, even though the televisions would not be on without a quarter to start them. The vending machines are -- even the coffee machine is -- very overpriced. The doors pretentiously call themselves things like "Gates 1-2-3", but no one believes them.

Captain Moonlight and I barely got on. We are separated, and he is languishing without his books and papers because they are in my attache case, but he appears to be studying something. A young couple behind us in line were turned away. It was very sad. The driver closed the door so I couldn't hear anything after the first indignant -- the indignation that conceals fear -- "What do you mean, there's no more room?"

The bus driver has probably seen more of this than I can imagine. He is white haired with a terminally irritating squint. There is nothing I like about him. I could find no seat, and told him so when he had gotten rid of the young couple. (I suppose they will try again in two hours when the next bus comes.) He announced loudly that someone was going to make us very late to Dallas, because they had a kid without a ticket. Apparently, you don't have to pay if the kid sits in your lap.

He had everyone pull out their tickets, and went from the back until he found a Hispanic man with two kids, a boy and a girl. Both were asleep, but only one has a ticket. Now, all three are sitting across the aisle from me, trying to sleep, and I wonder how they feel about me, a White boy with an attache case, dressed like a terrorist, forcing him to wake up his little girl so I can vacation in New York.

What can I say? "You don't understand. I'm a Communist writer. I'm a University student. I'm trying to regain my faith in the proletariat."

Truthfully, I never lost my faith in the proletariat. I know they are victims. Being with them is so crushing that I hate them, because they are so pathetic.

Perhaps I hate them because they make me hate me.

Another difference is the luggage. In an airport, people have their bags, and they may not all be rich looking, but they are all functional. They appear to be travelers. At the bus stop, they have garbage bags, whatever they can manage. They look like refugees. Even if you are moving, on a plane you look like a traveler. You do not load all your worldly possessions into garbage bags and take a plane. In buses, that happens.

Refugees have been on my mind, I guess. Last night I think I was thinking about refugees in my dream.

I was living in a National Socialist society. I didn't really mind it. In fact, I was walking out into a field to visit some of my National Socialist friends. They were in uniforms, but I don't remember if they were scientists or students. I was following train tracks, and I think they were taking the last few loads of undermen out of the town. The thing was, I had no shoes. I was walking through the field without shoes, and that made me very unhappy. I think it was muddy, and I was stepping in manure, and concerned that I was going to get sick because I hadn't gotten my shoes before I left.

I am wearing my boots, now. I have on black pants, my Diamonda Galas shirt, black sash, and camouflage jacket. I had on my black beret, but it was too hot; my ankh is on my chain. I carry my black attache. I don't see many long-hairs on the bus. Some are reading, but the Globe, comic books, etc. No one is writing.

There are a fair number of Whites, but mostly Hispanics. There were some Blacks in the terminal, but none on the bus. I suspect that will change in the South. I have seen no Asians.

We are driving up I-35. It feels really slow, but that could be illusion. The little girl I displaced looked over at me, looking bright with her large, young, Hispanic eyes. I tried to smile, but guilt cut it off. The light is fading, and I don't trust the lights here. I may have to do the catatonia thing for a while, and I suppose I should begin to wrap this up just in case.

Yesterday, we went bowling, as a family. I liked it a lot more than I anticipated. For about the first game I was just there for the family, but then I started to get into it, and Dad and I had some beer, and we played two more games.

The bowling alley, too, was very proletarian. Very White, too. I don't recall any non-Whites in the place. Unfortunately, I don't much care for the low class White.

I expected that. Bowling is a low class (economically), White sport. It tends to be played by the dirty, working class, typical Southerner. It took over an hour before any girls came in I could even stand to look at, and even then the beer helped.

A problem with these factors, though -- the lack of girls and the beer -- cropped up then. I guess I should note one thing, though. When I haven't been smoking much, it does weird things to my libido. I have a strong sexual drive, but it is like I'm in Jell-O or Vaseline. I see the object of desire, and I register desire, but I act in suspension. Not to say I go for the girl, but I act as if I was suspended away from the desire itself. I simply do not connect with the desire.

In any case, what I began to notice was my sister. I will not do anything to her; I'm not like that. I did notice what I've known but refused to admit -- she is growing up. She is looking very good, very soon. I acknowledge it, but I will not let myself do anything about it.

I have been noticing girls, though. I'm afraid I'm watching them. There is one girl in church. I think she is older than my sister, but not in High School. I guess she is in Junior High. Sometimes, it seems like she is looking at me, but I'm afraid she's looking at me because I'm looking at her. She is fairly attractive, but not incredibly so. She is blonde, with shortish, curly hair. She wears nice dresses to church, and I suspect she does not need her bra.

This week she brought a friend. No big deal. Her friend is a looker and a half, and I don't just mean she seemed to be looking at me. A family sat down blocking our view from each other, so the pair moved. She had straight, blonde hair going all the way down. She had on a shiny gold hat, which she sheepishly and needlessly removed when Father mentioned in his homily that men in Texas don't know to show respect to the Body of Christ because they wear their hats indoors here. Her biggest flaw was her blue jeans -- but they showed a nice tail. At times, they both seemed to be watching me. I wanted to look more because I thought they were watching.

They followed me out, but I was with my family and couldn't talk to them. I had to go back, and caught their eyes again. If I showed expression, I would have shown the deer in headlights thing, but I don't show emotion. I looked down. They didn't follow. In a bizarre way, I felt relieved that I was wrong. I thought if they really wanted me, they'd talk to me. They can approach me; I can't approach them.

I passed them on my way to the van. They did talk to me. They asked if my name was Richard. I kept my eyes on the ground and said "no". I was petrified.

I could almost cry now. I'll be gone for two months. If I had gotten these signals earlier, I might have talked to them. I don't know what to do, though, and now she'll forget about me while I'm gone.

I have to move on, or stop. It is getting very dark and bumpy. I think it is about time for the stop.

After bowling, we went to Walmart. There is a new superstore, the kind Walrus wants to spend twenty four hours in. I got a couple of dirt cheap CD singles, and saw a girlchild that really turned my head. I couldn't look too hard, though. I was with family.

Then, to McDonald's. It was a big going away thing. The family is going miss Moonlight and I a lot, and we wanted to have a final thing together as a family. There was one family that really caught my eye in the McDonald's. I say "family", really it was a mother and three children. Two were very young, about my younger brother's age or younger. One was a couple of years older than my sister. She got my attention. She was young. A child. She was just beginning to develop. She was also an adult, though. She was very "White-trash". She was dragging the kids along in the careless way of the mother substitute, that loves the child greatly, but is sometimes too tired to show it. She had her eyes heavily made up with black, but little other make-up. It gave her an attractive, exhausted look. She seemed like the kind of child who could willingly, responsively make love to you all night -- and never even smile. She seemed like that kind that would have the same tired frown the whole night, like a smile would mar her tragic beauty.

Children like her make me see why one friend's preferred prey was White trash. Children like her almost aesthetically redeem the White proletariat.

Rest stop. Resume later.

2054 2 June 1997

III. Terrorism: Theirs and Ours

Today, for the second time in about four days, train service was disrupted by a bomb scare on a subway I was planning to use in less that twenty-four hours. (In related news, my ex-girlfriend came by for lunch, and somehow managed to miss the whole bomb scare, police raid thing. Sometimes I worry about her....)

I'm going to take a moment to discuss terrorism in the Middle Eastern model, as I understand it, and then make some observations about how American terrorism ought to have its own style. How does the lyric go? "You can borrow ideas, but you can't borrow situations."

In the Middle East, particularly in the occupied nation of Palestine, terrorism appears to operate under a simple calculus of maximum carnage. As I see it, bombs are typically placed in markets and the like, where the largest number of individuals can be harmed, with number being the exclusive goal.

This concept has its points. In generally any society, many casualties will be more horrific than few casualties, all else being equal. For the terrorist, too -- especially in our age of mass communication -- there is an additional factor. The terrorist depends on publicity, and in our jaded media and with our jaded consumers, one death simply does not have the impact on our desensitized, alienated masses.

In the Middle East, the Palestinians are engaged in an ethnic war that does not carry over into the United States. In Palestine, Jewish sectors and Arabic sectors are well segregated under the Israeli apartheid system. A Palestinian targeting a marketplace is tacitly targeting a Jewish marketplace; a Jewish settler targeting a place of worship is tacitly targeting an Arabic place of worship. In the United States, not only are such ethnic conflicts difficult for the average citizen to understand (in the American dreamworld, apartheid is dead and segregation was decades ago), but such convenient divisions of populations are uncommon. They certainly don't exist in the areas the police claim were targeted by the terrorists. These latest scares have been in populous subway terminals, which are notable for their size and the sheer number of persons in them. They are not noted for demographic concerns. I suspect Hamas understands this, which makes me very wary of blaming Hamas for these attacks, as the papers describe them.

Here in the United States, tactics ought to change. In Palestine, as noted, sheer numbers means sheer numbers of Jews, and suicide bombers in market places can achieve this. Any Palestinian suicide bomber killing sheer numbers of Palestinians, wandering into the wrong market, would have a fair amount of explaining to do on the Last Day. Here in the United States, the sheer diversity in public places necessitates much more concern for selecting legitimate targets, for quality over quantity.

In the Palestinian homeland, every Jew is a legitimate target. As stated, they are in an ethnic war, and ethnicity is the deciding factor. As far as I can see, they are not in a race war, and killing Jews outside the Palestinian homeland can only be legitimate insofar as it is meant to encourage political force on the Israeli de facto state. So, the question becomes who, if anyone, is a legitimate target for a Palestinian terrorist in the United States.

For one thing, the Palestinians are not at war with the American proletariat. The only excuse for attacking the American proletariat would be to spur them into action getting the American government out from backing Israel. This is not a beneficial course of action, in my opinion. The American people are politically naive. If the American people realized how much they give to the Israelis, and what horrendous abuses they do with our money and support, no moral human being would back them. Unfortunately, the American people, in general, are not emotionally capable of judging this situation. The information is available, but the Jewish holocaust of the Palestinians is considered justified because to question the Jews is somehow to deny the Holocaust. The Jews have undoubtedly suffered this century, but World War II has been over half a century. The Jews are not supermoral because of this suffering. One does not earn Get Out Of Hell Free cards by suffering.

The Palestinians are at war with one segment of the American population, and, as luck would have it, this segment is the one that an attack on would be most effective. In all brutality, what would be served by the killing of a few dozen proletarians? A day or two of headlines, a day or two of workers' rage, and then forgotten. The ruling class does not care about the worker, and the attack would be used as an excuse to attack the Palestinian by arms and the proletarian by legislation restricting freedoms such as movement, privacy, and to bear arms. The Palestinian people are at war, just as is the American working class, with the American ruling class. There are, as the proverb runs, no innocent bourgeoisie.

The American bourgeois, the wealthy capitalists, believe they are immune. True, a strike against them would probably kill less, but it would horrify the bourgeoisie more, and have real terrorist effects. A strike in an upscale or tourist bar, or a strike on a wealthy hotel lobby would be about as easy as a strike in the subway -- easier if done properly -- but with much greater effect.

(These strategic notes, of course, do not apply to terrorist organizations across the board, though most are at war with the American bourgeoisie whether they realize it or not. As the McVeigh tragedy showed us, even a legitimate target may be spun by the media to take attention away from the fact that the government uses human shields by putting child care centers in the same building with their "Drug Warriors" and other assorted paramilitary personnel. On the other hand, groups such as the Army of God who are very careful -- it seems to me -- to use minimal force and target only legitimate targets, are still vilified or ignored. In groups such as the Army of God, the long term, low intensity war of attrition may be the best idea, and in America the one-shot attack really cannot have a long term effect, due to the lack of a revolutionary proletariat. But I think I have drifted into strategy...)

That much said of the tactics, the selecting of targets, something must be said about the strategy. They are both vital parts of the struggle.

Here in the United States, a culture of secrecy and fear has been created and pushed to ever higher levels over the past few decades. Not only are friendships and community spirit undermined, and not only are infiltrators placed in most or all politically active groups, but the government has, and does not avoid using, the power to pressure people into believing they have to turn. One recalls again McVeigh, and the rumors that the reason Fortier turned on his friend was because of the threats the government began making against not him -- any real man is willing to lay down his life for his friend -- but his family. If memory serves, the government threatened his sister. Possible rumors aside, it is well known how the government uses fraudulent or questionable audits by the IRS, litigation, liens, and other means to harass undesirables. Again, I find myself cynically blaming willful blindness on the part of the American people for the fact that this is not disgusting every American, but perhaps the media does a better job of suppressing the truth than even I give them credit for.

One recalls the recent case in Arizona when a terrorist cell was broken by a government infiltrator who took all their oaths, went through their rituals, befriended their members, but was still a plant. Remember: The government is allowed to lie to you. The government can tell you they are not policemen. It is not entrapment if they can "prove" you would have done it anyway.

What is the answer? For one, loyalty tests can be brutal. At one point, the Weathermen required all members to drop a hit of acid to prove loyalty, despite the fact that the Weathermen were a military organization and did not tolerate the use of drugs. Their assumption -- which may have been valid then, but is not now -- was that federal agents would not drop it. Today, that would be ludicrously inefficient. Oaths don't work. Friendship doesn't work, except among the greatest friends. Short of the Symbionese Liberation Army's Patty Hearst treatment, there is little if any way to be sure that you have not been infiltrated, and no way to be sure that they will not turn on you. As long as the American government runs itself as a police state, and as long as the American people play their selfish little "what, me worry" games of self-absorption, no revolutionary subculture can be birthed. At this point, education is more vital then ever, but seems to do less and less good.

A second answer, and in my opinion the only answer for action at this point, is Leaderless Resistance. Anyone who is not familiar with this concept has been living in a tire for the past few years, and should immediately go on the web and search for the article "Leaderless Resistance", by Louis Beam. In brief, the idea is that the government is crushing us and infiltrating us, with "us" being any revolutionary culture. The answer, for action, is to take responsibility upon oneself. Don't wait for the Weather Bureau; you don't need a Weatherman. Take actions that seem appropriate on your own initiative.

In my opinion, this is one problem that the Middle Eastern terrorists will have to come to terms with. In occupied Palestine, a sympathetic people are ready to aid the revolutionaries. In Cuba, there was a sympathetic people. In Ireland, there is a sympathetic people. In America, there is an apathetic people. Here, the Middle Eastern model does not work. Here, the terrorist must work alone.

This has run a bit longer than I expected this section to take, and I will wrap up here. I don't expect an increase in terrorist activity here in the United States for some time. Terrorism will precede the Revolution, but right now the Revolution is far off. As another proverb has it, A people get the government that people deserves. The self-centered, infantile, "me first" society that America has degenerated into deserves nothing better than an overly paternal police state. If you, like me, want to see the government change, the time is come to change yourself, and to change the people you love. Become autonomous, become loving and just, and become free.


[=- POETASTRiE -=]
"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."
--Charles Bukowski


[Prev | Next]

by Aeon

Everyone had left her alone again. it was nothing new; everyone always had to go home at sometime or other. she was even partially relieved they had left. the boys' immaturity bored her at times. their flirtatious games seemed pointless and she didn't like to play along.....other boys usually had more mental power and could devise more elaborate mind games, but her boys weren't up to that capacity yet. it was a bad thought to be thinking about your own friends, but she just couldn't help it. she felt superior. she knew she was the princess of the group; the dominatrix. she was the whipper, the entertainment, and the female. somehow it always ended up that way.

She sat on her living room floor and hummed gently to herself. the snakes under the carpet began to slither their way towards her milky white legs. she knew what they wanted and ritually stomped foreboding into a serpent's head. the house echoed with thunder. the others retreated fretfully and melted back into the floor.

She stared at ceiling for a time.....hopeful that it would become a lake she could swim in. but the never appeared and she grew impatient.

Upstairs she wandered into her parents room. the silence was thick, penetrated only by the slight breathing of the cat. it's fur slowly heaved as it's breath lingered before it reached her. innocence streamed off it's creamy coat. it's blood matted fur freshly stank of the kill. she ran her long fingers through warm blood soaked fuzz and the cat purred royally. the limp body of a small grey mouse she easily through out the window into the greenness below. the sleek body bounced on the dirt and made a soft thump.

As she began to leave the room, she noticed herself in the fullsized mirror. she was intrigued by her image that seemed somewhat distorted. she stepped up to the reflection, very close now. her breath clouded her eyes and she saw...... they were glassy and dilated. the pupils flexed rhythmically as she felt herself being drawn. she peered into the black to see her soul.....

And she saw nothing.

This frightened her like nothing else. she never even imagined that She was no one. she was lost. Her wholeness disintegrated through this simple sight of the hole that had become her. she knew she existed. this couldn't be true. she reached down into the blackness of eyes in an effort to grasp her soul. even when she felt the emptiness, she was still convinced that she was there, somewhere. if she could only reach just a few inches more, just a little bit farther, she would redeem herself.......she found herself slipping into the black, falling into oblivion.

She landed in a thick black tar. there was only thick black nothingness to be found. she wanted out. fuck this and the pit collapsed. she screamed and clawed at the liquefying walls. it pulled her down; enveloped her. the black trickled down her throat and puddled in her lungs. as she gasped her last breath before the darkness devoured her, she realized why she could not initially find her soul......the consuming blackness was her being.


"You are in a McDonalds. You pay the guy behind the counter. Now
there is a hamburger there. When you have picked it up, go north. It
is a hamburger wrapped in cheap paper.

"> eat hamburger

"You eat the food hamburger."

-- from the AGT text adventure
"Detective" by Matt Barringer


[Prev | Next]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan


-- Any questions?
-- No, that's the wrong question.

THUNK THUNK THUNK. Shiver. Headbanging?

-- What's up?
-- Not much. How about you?
-- Huh?
-- How about you?!
-- What?
-- What's up with you?
-- Oh, nothing!

CCH! CCH! CCH! Ohhhh, woooow. Huh?

-- Hi there.
-- Hey.
-- What's your major?
-- Illegible chemistry.
-- Oh man, do you have Dr. Jekyll?
-- No.
-- He's a riot. Total fuckin' riot.

Whee, clap, whee, clap, whee, point. Your turn.
You're steering now. Not so fast, Rambo.

-- So, how's it been going?
-- Oh, fine.
-- Same here.
-- No, I mean I got a fine.
-- For what?
-- I dunno, exhibition of my dick? Ask the judge.
-- Are you drunk?
-- Lay off, I'm underage.
-- So?
-- Ask the judge.

SPORTS, throw paper.
SOCCER, throw paper.
SWEAT, throw paper.
SOAP, throw paper.
SLIP, throw paper.

-- You're littering, you know.
-- I'm alliterating. Ask the judge.

LOAD. COCK. FIRE. Ask me about my soul.

-- So, how's your soul?
-- My friend, it ain't a pretty sight.


[=- FiCTiON -=]


[Prev | Next]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan

when something so astonishing happens that all other floating thoughts evaporate, the adrenalin floods the heart, the windpipe tightens, the head rushes -- the discovery of a new emotion i thought i'd defined and conquered... had i never experienced it before? this is love, it can only be. my mind focuses on her like the electromagnet whose wires are my heart... she knows this, she must. her eyes steal my self; i collapse into pure being when she smiles like that.

she turns away as we continue walking, and my self invades my brain again and i think again. i become my thoughts, wires and pulleys and weights mechanically rising and falling and turning upon themselves, perpetual motion machine of self-indulgement. i would be at peace contemplating her forever, but for her sharp insight into me....

a mundane day said "hey" as i woke up, replying "what's up?" and getting out of bed. i expected no more of the small-talk of two beings out of touch but not out of company. a typical friday, a typical celebration of the weekend, a typical plunge into my mind's low gear for recuperation and defense against the oncoming week. i expected no more.

when the moon was full in the sky, the tradition of taking a walk through the pines beckoned. i brushed off my day and entered the woods. several minutes after as my mind accustomed itself to the routine and embraced passivity, an unexpected change woke me from my walking slumber. a girl dressed in yellow stood some yards off the path, quietly communicating with the moon. she turned to me as i approached and laughed as children do, joining me on my trip, her face beaming at discovering another person with whom to walk.

my face held a bemused smile as the girl took my hand and walked beside me, gleefully bobbing to my footsteps. an extraordinary sense of appropriateness colored the odd event, as if she had complemented me and completed a pair. we continued forward, silently stepping over scores of browned pine needles and rare logs fallen across the well-trod path.

the unobstrusive young girl was almost forgotten until we passed a clearing to a lake. she pulled me to a stop and gestured toward the lake. we quietly watched the body of water, which held a lucid, slightly shimmering image of the moon and stars.

the girl spoke. "the water is beautiful." i nodded in agreement. "but boring. it's just a reflection of the sky." she released my hand to pick up a rock. "this is the water!" she said, tossing the rock into the lake with a loud mind-jarring splash. the light of the moon chaotically rippled in the turmoil.

i looked down at her with amazement; she was beaming. i shook my head and looked back at the lake.

"sucks how often we look at things and don't see them," she said.

i looked up at her with amazement; she was looking directly at me, a curious smile on her lips. something about the expression captured me. i knew it immediately: she was divine. disguised as a eleven-year-old. i saw her....

i staggered after the goddess after she abruptly wrenched my arm away from the clearing back to our walk. my mind was stunned and i could no longer disregard her as we moved on. my feet loudly kicked up debris trying to match her footsteps, my eyes forgot the scenery as i could only stare at her and try to understand.


"Give us the man," shouts the multitude, "who will step forward and take the responsibility." He is instantly the idol, the lord, and the king among men. He, then, who would command among his fellows, must excel them more in energy or will than in power of intellect.

-- Burnap


[Prev | Footer]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan

So I walk into the classroom in the Cullen Building, the oldest building on campus. The stairs were squeaking as I came up (I wondered if they'd break under my steps). The air is musty, somehow, but air conditioning masks that a bit. Windows let in the sunlight coming from the east, but this clashes with the brown paint on the windowsills and trim. It's a little uncomfortable.

In the classroom are about ten other students, all younger than me, because this is an introductory class. Also, they're eager freshmen and they arrive on time. They look briefly at me as I enter, they don't recognize me, and they resume their nervous chatter. I sit on the edge of the classroom.

I sit next to the windows. The wall faces the east and the bright sunlight is coming in, glaring out my desk. I won't be able to take notes. But someone will undoubtedly close the blinds anyway, someone who cares. I sit down and look secretively at the others in the room. A lot of young and happy faces. I resent them. They resent me. I bring them down.

I pull out a notebook, a pencil, and an eraser, and nervously doodle on the first page. The first page usually falls out after time. Not important. In big letters, a message dominates the center of the page: "I will not write on this page."

Soon the older students come in. I recognize some of them. They sit in the back of the class. The professor comes in, a friendly-looking grey-haired lady. She leans back aloofly against the large wooden table at the front of the room, waiting for the rest of the students to arrive. They trickle in, many without the slightest indication of knowing they're late, or caring about it. They don't sit in the back. It's full. Some of them sit around me and start gossiping.

"You hear about Clint?"


"He ain't gonna be here for a few weeks."

"Why not?"

"Broke his legs."

"The fuck! What up with that?"

"Three days ago, havin' an end-of-summer party. He and Michael were shit-faced. Michael dares him to stand on the window ledge. He does. He falls off."

"How high?"

"Two stories."

"Shit, that crazy asshole."

"You shoulda heard what Michael done...."

I decide next time to look carefully for somewhere different to sit, like for instance, alongside that fucking awesome-looking guy three rows over. He looks uncomfortable too. I can sit behind him and pester him.

The light streaming in through the big, open windows attracts me. I stare dreamingly at the grass outside, two stories below. If I ran at it right, I could jump through without any interference. The professor starts speaking.

"First off, I want to say that this is not a conventional history class. I expect you to have comprehensive knowledge of the facts beforehand."

Where's my drop card? I look over the syllabus she's passing out and then look over at other students. The attractive males don't seem perturbed. Should I stay in this class then? The syllabus mentions essays and research and work and work and sly remarks about dedication. I close my notebook and wait it out.

Right off, like college professors do, we start the work. She hands out photocopies, an article about the Reconstruction.

"I love photocopies," she says. I hastily scan the syllabus again -- every week we turn in copies of notes we've taken in the library and elsewhere -- and wonder if I should loudly point out the existence of computers and the paperless classroom.

We read the article. It's brief but juicy. I didn't know some of this stuff. She tells us that this is one of many accounts. During the semester we'll be studying how other historians have diverged from textbook accounts of various events throughout American history. I suddenly realize I have no interest.

After discussing the article, she asks for questions. I look around. The students can't possibly be as calm as they look. Their blank faces betray the disgust they must feel with the arrangement of the course. Those attractive boys can't be looking forward to all this pointless research. They have to drop the course and join me on a crusade against paper wastage. Or hang out in the coffeehouse and let me imagine flirting with them. This is a beautiful time of day to get my heart broken.

"I think someone is in the wrong room," the professor says in a matronly tone.

I look up and know she's looking at me with that wry grin.

"You seem out-of-place here, Nathan. Did you sign up for this class?"

I nod yes. I resist the urge to act embarrassed.

"I take it you're not too familiar with history, then?" she suggests. She knows.

"It's not a big love of mine," I admit. "But I wanted to study it."

She laugh and some students join in. "Good excuse!"

Someone asks aloud, "Isn't this class for history majors?"

"Not necessarily," the professor points out. "We occasionally let other types in."

"I hope we don't have to pace it to his level," someone else says. I look around. It's the boy I was staring at earlier! Sigh.

"If history does repeat itself," the professor remarks, "then Nathan will be repeating the course." This is greeted by gales of laughter.

I'm not sure that's true. I don't think there's any reason to stay in a class just to get a bad grade.

But I give in. I sense some animosity. "Does anyone have a drop card, then?"

"Certainly none of these students thought of bringing one, did you?" the professor asks. There's some sarcastic laughter.

"Well, uh, I guess I'll bring a card by later today," I said.

"But Nathan, you've got until March to drop the course, if you won't make it a priority."

"I will," I said, wondering why she'd imply I wouldn't. I look around and notice several faces giving me bored looks, exasperated, eager to learn about something else besides my gift of failure. The sun has been burning into my neck and I jerk my head back to the front of the room, at an old map rack in the corner, with ancient Europe from the 1600's depicted. The colors have been bleached by the sunlight, although the map faces away from the sun. I remember that map rack from my modern art class last year, where I was the only non-art major and got an A. It seems to taunt me, following me from room to room.

I shove my notebook and pencil back into my backpack. I carry the eraser in my fist, not wanting to laboriously return it to its designated pouch. I stand up and make to leave.

"Why, Mr. Almerad, you needn't leave so soon. Try to bear out the rest of the hour. We'll indulge you."

"I'm going to find a drop card ASAP," I remark, with a tint of bitterness that comes out as beleaguered exhaustion, and walk out the door, my egress aided by thirty impatient stares.

Back into the poorly lit hallway, the brown trim, no sunlight and high flourescents. My footsteps resonate upon the wooden floor and I head for the stairs. I take a seat in a wooden bench on the ground floor, where all the administrators and wandering professors eye me as they pass. I look through the course list. I spy an intro to religion course in twenty minutes. I circle it and head out of the building.


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