Monday, August 06, 2007


I don't know how great my mind is, but The Walking Man twigged me onto something when he wrote

years now i have been walking the rooms of this place knowing that i keep seeing the same rooms at times like a fool in the deep woods without a compass, using only the sun to tell him directions but there is no sun in here except what comes through the glass free opening.

This brought me to a chapter of my novel that I wrote thirty years ago. I think, in a parallel universe, we are on the same page, viz.,


( Light Over Newmarket)

If you look out at your world, Kevin Logan, you will observe that for the past ten years, mankind has been hotfooting it back to the dark ages.
Children of God, sorcerer's apprentices, encounter groupers, radical feminists, touchy-feelers, worshippers of the almighty IS in the Eberhard seminars--all of them are clamoring for your attention and all of them are on a sprint back to the dark ages.

We live in dangerous times. All of society's icons have flipped over and the scene is ripe for any demagogue with sound business training to slouch not only towards Bethlehem but also towards Santa Barbara and Inuvik and Toronto.

Snapped continuity. You can feel it as surely as you have felt the death of that blues music you were so attracted to, for the blues are an antidote for cultural oppression and the Irish aren't exactly the least repressed people in history.

Something oily and corporate has encrusted itself on men's souls. You know this as surely as you know that you are a part of a business civilization that has stopped being a civilization proper, and is therefore in trouble. Corporations are immortal while we are not, and that's a large part of the problem. We serve a clacking electronic god who is becoming suddenly very aware of his godhood. Man remains man.

We feel a lack. An important religious element has vanished and we are left to our own devices, rationalizations, social experiments, totems, while psychiatrists commit suicide and our children overdose in the plazas.
And in the wings, black hoods and candles, bells and books.

Join the gathering inquisition? Burn the infidels, books, state capitols? Certainly a temptation for the powerless people who sense that they are indeed powerless and have therefore nothing to lose through a cathartic release of emotion, of the loosing of the bonds that make a civilization one of work, one which gives us the feeling that we are important, self-sufficient, aristocratic and inevitable. Ah, but then there's this Devil. The Devil, it would seem, has a human face; he can be beaten with a stick and be driven out by fire. The burn-the-devil movement has appeal. It's the cosmically conscious, the spiritually beautiful against the narrow and Faustian professionals who are about to give up the reins anyway.

And yet how helpless the cosmic people seem unable, more often than not, to even feed themselves, unable to exist without a dimly understood technology, unable to resolve family anxieties or personal problems in a society that endlessly promises relief and never delivers.

We watch Third World high priests giving lesson to grown people on how to make love, how to experience emotion, how to be assertive, how to survive. Protestantism and technology has somehow erased the basic wisdom that any peasant outside the west possesses. We appear to be a culture of children, adolescents at best, dangerous toys in our heads, leading us down the garden path for the hundredth time.

Yet as the middle ages encroach upon us, the encroachment is hastened by an awakened Third World, which, curiously retains many of the values, folkways, icons so deeply hankered after by those in the west who have lost such things. Most of the world remains in the middle ages. It is only our island culture that can produce the hippie, the Jesus freak and the unmolested radical student. Basic survival is not a problem with us, while spiritual survival is a vary urgent necessity. The hope of a growing segment of North American civilization seems to lie in the Third World itself, which remains in the dark ages so narrowly averted by a lucky historical turn in western civilization.
And yet can a society of the electric toothbrush, digital toilet and television cope with a Third World where men are, after all, men, women women and the peripheral misfits left to their own devices? The Third World peasant is the ultimate free enterpriser, who has no support or technology whatsoever and makes scratch, more often than not in an economy that would baffle the architects of the New World Order.

The cat is really out of our bag. The Third World does see the manual helplessness, moral ambiguity and spiritual confusion of the North American and the local swamis are only too happy to lead the North American into the deepening night.

We have created a culture of storm and stress where whatever has been up is now being pulled down, where the truck driver feels completely equal to the brain surgeon, where woman wants to be over man, where the sexual acrobat has equal standing with the Pope, and the alcoholic, madman and homosexual is a high literary figure.

The Third World is upon us, and we are not resisting. We welcome the dark ages--we had the technology, the savvy, a can-do attitude, but not the wisdom. Wealth used to bring the gift of time, time to think, read, play musical instruments, reflect, develop.

The gift of time has only made alcoholics, drug addicts and mystical basket cases out of us; produced two generations of people who do not know what a conscience is, what shame is, what love is, what compassion is, what rejection, failure and pain are as the new unholy trinity, what the silent keen is to shout out loud, "Behold, I am a man!" or "Behold, I am a woman!"
And the children: only the babysitter is in there pitching. We relinquish to institutions, to governments. Men flee from women, women from men; the therapists are having a field day. Engineers from MIT are incapable of raising an erection. A Philippine shaman has to teach the inventor of plastic hearts how to play hanky-panky.

So we move from excesses to emptiness, personal and cultural. There are hardly any new songs; light shows are going out; the theatre is obsessed with young men who suck the sweat off horses and the music has returned to the Fifties in a dangerous retro that signals a dissatisfaction with the present, and a cultural vacuum that Europe cannot fill any more. We have no confidence in the present and this is a bad state of affairs for the key culture in the world.

And so the sensitive, the moody and the mystically inclined are leaving the established institutions opting for communal farming, transcendental meditation, cosmic awareness. Empty-handed soldiers are coming home, home to the middle ages. And while this happens, the unestablished and the unlettered are slowly filling in the spaces left by capable idealists, and we see the universities teeming with writers who can't write, mathematicians who can't add, systems analysts who can't do math, all of this leading us to the dark ages.

Perhaps it's for the best. Societies become stagnant; peasants scratch the ground around pyramids. Yet it may be sad to see mankind failing its final examination and never reaching the end of night. For many of the world's problems can now be solved and most of its inhabitants can now be fed...There's only this...devil.
And then the voice stopped. I moved from the table to lie beside sun-hot Valerie. I felt a deep shudder.

...end chapter

Some of you may have read this before, and may be sort of "Ivaned-out."

But I think The Walking Man, in his blog, is producing some pretty good stuff.
E.A. Monroe, another excellent blogger, things both TWM and I are motivated by fear.

Very probably. That Pteradactyl is still out there.



the walking man said...

I liked the comment on the world and it's people being able to make the money they need even though how they do it makes no sense to the economists of the developed nation...yeah man!

But Ivan we got to get off the same page...just by COINCIDENCE I put up a chapter of one I wrote a few years back as well.

Seeing as neither of us has much mind left I wonder how that came to be? Liz I bet out some of that OZ hoo doo voo doo on us. said...


We certainly ended up talking about the same time period, though my book dealt with perceptions after the Vietnam war.

I have just had a look at your novel chapter from ON THE ROAD TO THE PALACE OF SLEEP, on your web.

It's good!

re Liz Monroe,

Liz and I banter back and forth quite a bit.
While in Haiti (Haiti?!!), I kind of apprenciced myself to an MD of the rain forest (Actually, most of the forest was gone), we talked of Voodoo and I had some strange experiences there, which I wrote about in a now-defunct newspaper called, fittingly THE NEWS (Here in Toronto area)
So for Liz and the other three "quarks" in our circle, I sometimes go into my persona of the rattle-shaker, conjure man and general mountebank. Sort of the witch-doctor; it's a thing between us. I am given to rattling bones and maybe doll-making for Wal-Mart. It's an in-joke.
Liz hails from Norman, Oklahoma, a university town, and I greatly admire her writing; I am beginning to admire yours as well.

Ivan said...

p.s. to The Walking Man,

That was a brilliant interpretations of economies that do not go along established lines.
Some famous despots in the past and in the present have ignored global economies, ignored classical economics--and went on to spend their way out of their countries' problems anyway. Cesar Chavez?


EA Monroe said...

Ivan, delete my comment will ya! Blogger is after me! That's my email. Thanks!! ~liz

Okay. I'm a birdbrain! said...


You no birdbrain.

Myself, I'm a fogelkopf.

I'll delete your comment as soon as I figure out how.

Ivan said...

Note to Jeff Mitchell:

Congrats on scoring a big headline at The Star.
Big leagues all over again.

I'll look for it.

Ivan said...

Oh-oh. Paid archives.

Maybe you could offer a link to your story here, JM?


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I like this Ivan and you can tell that you are motivated by fear or at least the chapter was. Most of us everyday go by each other and worry. We do not share one touch not to mention a look and yet, we fear the same things. Why do you think that we fear things and why do we allow those things that we fear to exist? I know I fear many things and I let those things live, interact with me as if they have a right to be there and take away from me.

Now I could be wrong by what I am getting from this and if I am I send my apologies. However, I believe we fear things because we fear our true selves. We all look in the mirror for one reason or another but never for the reasons we should. We all set out each day to do the right thing and then something happens and we watch the day slip out of our hands and into a ball of stess.

Put the fear away ... you are worth more than fear. Those of us that write here whether for each other or ourselves inspire and when humanity gets inspired look out! We have given control away for too long and now we are paying the price.

I watched a movie once, for some odd reason I enjoyed it, "Boondocks Saints". Maybe it was because it was about two irish men sincere in their religious faith and damn tired of the filth they saw everyday. So, they decided to get rid of those that raped, murdered, and had stolen. Of course I would never agree to doing such a thing, but in this movie it said that the problem with things today was, "the indifference of good men". You know, people that knew what was going on, but did nothing.

I agree and will say it as well. Society is overrun with indifference and until we choose to move forward. Take away the fear that rapes us, we will all be the same scared people being controlled by fear.

Ugh.. am I rambling and if I am, am I making sense? said...


You are certainly making sense when you cite "the indifference of goog men."
Government and courts are really slow to act either because of the "indifference of good men" or just plain internal corruption...Somebody, or some group is being paid off not to act.
Look at the hard time the Democrats are having in stopping a senseless and stupid war.
Good men and women, especially those in authority, should speak out, blow the whistle.

Ivan said...

O gawd.

It is l00 degrees F in this work room.

Little red lights are flashing.

Time for a serious beer break.


Josie said...

Delete ~ Delete ~ Delete

EA Monroe said...

Josie, you are a blog miracle worker! Thanks for deleting my comment for Ivan.

Ivan, your writing is timeless. What you wrote 30 years ago still applies to the way so many things still are today (if not worse because of so much greed, corruption and indifference). I think today more people are "seeing" the truth of it than they did back then.

Josie said...

Ivan and Liz, there is a little something for you over at my place. Now, don't get excited - it's not chocolate :-)

Josie said...


Thanks for deleting the comment Liz asked to have deleted here.
We had to appease mighty Google Blogger so He wouldn't bite Liz on the bottom at work. The god must have been up to mischief with me as well, as I couldn't bring up the comment for my own perusal, let alone delete it.
Josie somehow overcame the google god.
The comment in question is now expunged, as Liz wanted, and they can't accuse her at work of puppy-poking.
This extreme heat and humidity is doing something to my brain in the first place, and I'm so glad Josie had the technical savvy to help out.
Okay. Fortified (though not cooled off) by a huge bottle of India Pale Ale, I'll move over to Josie's blog to see what she's got there. There is the hint that it's darn good. Better have a look-see.

Ivan said...


I am so honoured by the The Thoughtful Blogger award you have just passed on to both me and Liz.

I will wear it proudly.


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