Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chapter nine. LIGHT OVER NEWMARKET. A novel



Chapter Nine

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.


Back to Title Page

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14 comments:

Midnight said...

Brilliant, Ivan.

Life's what you make it.
We start where we are, do what we can.
First for ourselves and loved ones,
then for others, if we can.

The divine synchronicity of Valerie
is always there.
So close, and yet so far, at times.

Pondering the world is noble,
but she can drive you crazy.

When you least expect it.

And most need it.

the walking man said...

Ivan...this may be a chapter in Light Over Newmarket but in truth it is an essay written with clarity and insight into the humanity of the last fifty years.

Remove the first and last paragraphs and send it out as a stand alone commentary.

This should be a must read for every graduating high school senior and again for every incoming college freshman.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Midnight,

Thanks.

ivan@creativeriting.ca said...

Why thank you, Mark.

This was indeed originally published as an essay in TOPIC Magazine, Bradford, Ontario.
I had decided to pad my novel a little and suture the material in.

Erik Donald France said...

Impressive, and riveting.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric Donald France,

Thank you. Coming from you, that's a real compliment.

the walking man said...

I was editing as you were commenting old man. I suppose Martin Luther was fed up with is diet of worms more so than he was with the church. Sheeeit if they only gave the monks worms to eat maybe it was a precursor for what the priests were dining on half a millennium later.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,
It's my whimsical mood after downing a bottle of wine. I always tell myself to never comment drunk, but de debbil always makes me do it.
In your blog you had a person with worms in his brain (like FDR? He did, he did!), worms of LSD and hallucinogens and plain rotten sickness.

So I had commented,

Notes of a wigged-out college professor:Gad. First the sad Farrah Fawcett documentary I just saw and now The Diet of Worms without the Martin Luther reference. But whose diet, the worms who eat you, or you who eat the worms? Well, they can be zapped.... And that damned Worms edict wasn't about worms in the first place.

You know what priests get? They get nun.
Partly because he got nun, Diet of Worms for Luther. We gonna get ya ya sacriligious MoFo, or more properly, Sister-Fo.

The Edict of Worms was a decree issued on 25 May 1521 by Emperor Charles V, declaring, "For this reason we forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favor the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic, as he deserves, to be brought personally before us, or to be securely guarded until those who have captured him inform us, whereupon we will order the appropriate manner of proceeding against the said Luther. Those who will help in his capture will be rewarded generously for their good work."[2]

The Papal nuncio at the diet, Girolamo Aleandro, drew up and proposed the fierce denunciations of Luther that were embodied in the Edict of Worms, promulgated on 25 May. The Edict declared Luther to be a heretic and banned the reading or possession of his writings.
Ah, heresy and worms on the brain.
I used to live near Petawawa, Ontario where they were playing with Agent Orange.

Walked past the range one day and I realized I had not been alone. Walking on his horribly swirling tail, the tapeworm had said, "Why me? I'm no even Vietnamese."

"Gotcha," I said.

Ah. Professor Pee and his lil pal the worm.

May 16, 2009 3:23 PM

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

P.S.:

Those priests could well have been out of the Fifties and the age of Brylcreem.
In the Sixties, more sophisticated. "Still using that greasy kid...?

Midnight said...

Imagine.

Having all of your drunken comments preserved, for history.

You can really tell, what someone is really like, based on their comments, especially when they're high, and/or have had a few too many drinks.

Or maybe it's just me.

As long as your punctuation and seeming logic is intact (or better yet, impeccable), then no one can really tell.

Cheers!

Midnight said...

Yes. This is best left,
to accomplished alco-stolics.

Venture if you dare.

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