Category Archives: Philosophy

The Question never Asked

[a poem by   ~burning woman~   written by Sha’Tara]

Is there meaning to believe in?
I’ve done all I could to absorb this world,
to understand people, no, not just
people, but this world’s life.
I’ve seen and felt its endless struggle,
its romance with beauty and with horror.
So much drama but never an answer
to the eternal question.
You may ask, ask, and ask; you may
shed tears of raw pain, of sorrow, of anger
and the world is awash in mute noise.

I’ve seen cats fight and children die in war,
heard and read the boasting, seen the posturing
over beads, trinkets and ticker-tape money
and walked streets I thought were painted red
but it was always the blood of innocents,
no thin red line but a widening swath
leading to a pile of skulls and scattered bones.

Rats ran away as I came near as if I’d been more
than a nameless ghost in an endless dream.

I can see, I can hear, I can smell and
I can feel. As if that could ever be enough!
I have observed, weighed my thoughts
to realize they were too heavy to bear;
looked in a mirror to watch myself age
as in a time-lapse scene
from angst of birth to relief of death,
its in-betweens sprinkled with flashes of joy
stolen from the ever-dying landscape.

And all I ever wanted was to ask
the one question never asked before;
the one question no one ever dared ask
or no one ever thought to ask: the
one that answers all others – how
presumptuous to believe I could
formulate such a thing, that I
could discover the meaning of life or,
if you will: the meaning of meaning.

Toast and Jam

[thoughts  from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Sometimes I want to just say, “fukitol” and go on to finish my life, echoing the sentiment expressed in the movie The Answer Man: “Hell… is other people.”

That’s a bit extreme. Let’s just say that hell is most other people, is that better? Just kidding. Actually I don’t believe that other people are hell though after many of them have passed through here, after experiencing an Earth reshaped into man’s image, who needs hell?

That being said, it’s not at all what I want to express here today. I want to return to my favourite topic, compassion, but I want to throw something new in the mix: love.

I know that love is not something new for Earthians, but it is something new for me to bring up as I expound some more on the concept of compassion. I’ve already established to my satisfaction that love and compassion as totally dissimilar concepts. I’ve gone so far as to claim that love works against the person who would express herself as a compassionate being, and I have explained it thus: that love is exclusive whereas compassion is inclusive; that love cannot exist as a stand-alone concept (what would be the point?) whereas compassion does, and must. Love is dependent, compassion is for the self empowered. 

Could I look at these two concept in a less extreme way?

The usual response to love and compassion is predictable: mostly the two concepts exist as indistinguishable in the Earthian mind and they get totally confused. I realize that is due to programming and that is why most people cannot get a handle on compassion because they cannot separate it from love. Why should they when they remain convinced the two are interchangeable?

Imagine that you own a car and you are stuck with servicing it to make it work. You remember that certain fluids are needed for the machine to work. Two main ones are gas (do they still call it petrol in Britain?) and coolant, or a mix of coolant and water. You have the two fluids but you can’t remember which one goes where. So you say, oh well, doesn’t matter, I’ll pour this one in here, and that one in there and the car will sort it out. Clever that… until of course the car dies because you put the coolant in the fuel tank and the fuel in the radiator.

Let’s use a different analogy for compassion and love and how I see how these things get confused. Let’s say “toast and jam.” Compassion is the toast and love is the jam. That’s how the Earthian mind perceives it. Toast can be a stand alone food, but jam, not so much. Nevertheless the Earthian emotional heart, or mood trend setter, prefers to have jam and not bother with toast. When people speak of love, it’s jam; a taste good, feel good thing. If they have to have toast with it, so be it, but it’s the jam they hanker for.

Personally, sticking with the analogy, I have no problem having toast without the jam but generally speaking it’s the other way around for most. Toast is bland, often crunchy, somewhat tasteless and it needs help. Enter jam. Love.

Now imagine that most people choose to just eat jam for breakfast because they don’t like toast. Some diet that, huh? Not very healthy.

Without carrying this on from the sublime to the ridiculous, let’s give it some thought.

Converting Information into Knowledge

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Converting Information into (useful) Knowledge

I’ve been rather “quiet” on the blog lately, not because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to share but mainly because I’ve been absorbing information from a wide range of bloggers about a wide array of current topics. We talk about “informed opinion” and it is a “brute” fact that without information one cannot have informed opinions. The thing to be aware of is that information is neutral so the source of it is quite irrelevant. What matters is what happens when the information hits home: when the mind identifies it, translates it, sorts it, accepts, rejects. On a 100% scale, gathering information shouldn’t take more than a 10% slice of awareness. The 90% slice is converting it into knowledge.

I’ll make a simple comparison. A swimming pool does not equate swimming. I you can’t swim it won’t do you any good. You will stand at the edge, stare in it, then turn away, or you can jump in and drown. You need to learn how to swim to enjoy the pool. Once you’ve got that you can go to something more challenging, like a lake, a river, the ocean, and learn how to swim all over again. Sure, you’ll have the basics on how to stay afloat for a while, but what about current? Undercurrents? Waves? Underwater snags or those submerged reeds that grab the feet and tighten on the legs as you try to pull away? As a life-long canoeist, kayaker, river and sea lover I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn how to interact with various types of water bodies, of “information” to stay afloat in, to learn from and of course to enjoy. Desire, determination and drive to overcome the initial reticence of the land creature to interact with water. Then, training, training, training, with risk and daring.

That’s my analogy and I think it is fitting because children in this modern day are not taught how to go from wishing to accomplishing. As information is forced upon young minds, wishes, dreams and desires are awakened and stirred but that’s just sitting on the edge of the pool stirring the water with one’s feet. That’s not swimming. Modern education is failing abjectly because it is inculcating, stuffing information but without simultaneous observation and experience nothing of value is learned.  In fact such inculcation is easily surpassed by even low level AI application. Once upon a time learning that 2+2=4 was a big deal. Now the same kid can find out the square root of pi while at the same time being told irrational numbers cannot be squared. Does the kid understand the implication? No but more “searches” will give other “answers” and the little brain will feel like it really knows “something” about “something” when in fact a half hour down the road it will have forgotten. After all, why bother with memorizing when it’s all at one’s fingertips?

Before anyone objects furiously that “there are some really smart kids out there” let me remind the reader that I speak of the majority, not the exceptions and also remind s/he that exceptions prove the rule – a truism. If there was no rule, there could be no exceptions so when someone brings up an exception they are proving the rule. I need to repeat that as with information most people have never bothered to understand that correlation. 

So we have access to more information than ever before, at least that we can know based on our short span of questionable history.  I could list so many examples of beliefs (information) that once formed the basis of education. Flat earth. It is a waste of time and money to educate girls because women can’t learn “stuff.” Two of my favourites. Currently we are just as stuck in beliefs used, not to improve conditions on the planet but to bolster/counter old beliefs or feed some collective hubris. Darwinian evolution theory – raised eyebrow? I can do better: moon landings as false flags. Stop reading now? 9/11 and the burning of Notre Dame – inside jobs – am I certifiable yet?

How to we know if we can neither observe nor experience “it”? How can we be so sure? How did we come to accept that the earth was some sort of sphere? When it was no longer a matter of belief but overwhelming evidence (even though we may still be quite wrong about that “certainty” and future generations in for a bigger surprise without going back to the flat earth belief). To learn something we need to work through it from many different angles, to observe and experience it differently. I think, for example, that experience has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that women are at least as intelligent as men and all they needed was a chance to demonstrate their intelligence and dexterity side by side with men. Yet there are still large pockets of resistance to this (which bothers me a lot), as there are still sincere flat earthers (which doesn’t bother me in the least).

The problem with belief is, it is not founded on knowledge – it relies on supportive belief and rejects evidence. That leads to the perpetuation of the vilest types of abuse on this world such as misogyny, racism, zealotry, bigotry, the economic and sexual exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.  These are results of information not converted to knowledge.

Now the tough part: how do we convert our information into knowledge if we cannot observe first hand, or experience, the information? Is there a back door that can be used to let us escape the trap of being informed without being educated?

Though still not entirely satisfactory to me, I did devise a mental tool whereby I could determine the ‘value’ of certain information and the danger of other. I don’t know if my ‘tool’ has a name so I have to describe how it works instead.

I’ll take one of my favourite conspiracy theories: moon landings as false flags. (If you find yourself reacting strongly to such an accusation it’s time to look inside and ask, ‘why am I reacting negatively to such a statement? What’s in it for me? Am I afraid to realize I was taken in by the System so many years ago and spent my life believing a monstrous lie? Am I a patriot who feels obligated to defend “my country right or wrong”? Why is believing in the moon landings so important to me particularly?”) Already, that is the beginning of converting information into knowledge. But that’s not nearly enough. Let’s take the story all the way down – and yes, even if there is an American flag on the moon, and there are booted human footprints in its regolith.

Assume for a moment that I am a reasonably intelligent human being, not only well informed on what matters, but able to analyze that information and make use of it. Continuing with the “space program” (check this link for example about the reality of costs in space exploration and its purpose:  https://www.forbes.com/2009/07/16/apollo-moon-landing-anniversary-opinions-contributors-cost-money.html#2e1736181d04

Although it has been scientifically proven that getting live human beings to the moon – and back (that’s the big one) alive was impossible in 1969, as much as it is impossible today, with insurmountable problems of Van Allen belts radiation + solar radiation; weight of lander and impossibility of blasting free of even low lunar gravity based on available power, to little stupid details like camera and light angles, non-matching shadows and yes, numbers on rocks (staged!), that is not the issue for someone converting information into knowledge. Here’s what should matter: did these extremely expensive maneuvers “make America great again”?  Is the world in general in better shape socially, economically and environmentally today than it was in 1969? Yes, the “Evil Empire” (Soviet Union) imploded in 1991 but can we credit the moon landings for that? Even if we could, was that the end of the Cold War or did it just morph into another series of imperial endless wars mostly driven by America’s desperate need to control all major resources of the planet in order to maintain its military/corporate global empire?

I make this point, and I only need one, to demonstrate how the moon landings, real or false, were nothing more than a massive propaganda effort to bolster the military industrial complex and turn the US and subsequently the entire world into a controlled “security state” a la George Orwell’s “1984.”

Honestly, the whole world got worse. Credit (blame) whom you will for that but I “blame” the sheeple for believing without evidence; for accepting without reasoning, testing, experiencing.

“The world of spirits is unpredictable Mrs. Santiago. Are you a believer, Mrs Santiago?”
“Si, si, I believe, I believe. I pay more… I believe!” (paraphrase from the movie “Ghost”)

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #49

{Continuing with the manuscript. }
…“We have a similar “identical twin” bond humans sometimes experience from the womb state when two come from a single fertilized ovum.  All YBA’s – we are five and I’m the “youngest” at this point –  are my identical “twins” in every sense.  Though we each train in individual specialties, we can convert one-another’s knowledge and skills and function so that even the adoptive parent is not aware if we’ve made a switch.  For us, life does not get better, as you would put it.  All we need do is protect our own “investment” in Dr. Echinoza to ensure continuity.”

[end blog post #48]


[begin blog post #49]

Chapter 23 – A Dangerous Plan; a Confession

“I have so many questions.  But of practical use right now, what happens to me while I’m convalescing?  Why wasn’t I killed when it was found I could not train or fight and was disabled, possibly permanently?  What do I “do” now?

“You do nothing at all.  You rest, you talk or ask questions and I answer.  No one except Warmo and us knows of your debilitated state at this moment.  Warmo won’t talk, he cannot for obvious reasons.  The doctor is securing your protection from the King as we speak.  Of course (by the way this place is safe from eavesdropping bugs) the King understands fully the situation you are in.

We need you back among the women, Antierra.  Your turn of duty there is far from over.  You will have to return to that mindset soon and get ready for that reality that wants to make you sick right now.  And suffer more of the indecencies of this world you will, much more than you already have, I’m deeply sorry to have to remind you.  I also, as your healer, must remind you that this is just the continuation of your personal choices; the ones you know you cannot change or run from.

I realize what she is saying and I nod in acquiescence.  No wonder, I recall now, my Altarian friends told me they would not be needed here with me.  That I would manifest all the friendship and all the help I needed to accomplish my goals.  Still though, some doubts persist.  I am, after all, facing some serious handicaps here.

“But what about my crushed wrists? My broken ankle?  How can I function if I cannot hold anything, or even walk?”

“You will be repaired soon.  We are waiting for a new module to upgrade our old auto-medic.  The new module will implant artificial “bones” and “sinews” to replace your damaged parts.  You will essentially have artificial wrists and left ankle.  You will begin your transition to bionic form.  That famous kick of yours will likely become even more deadly.”

She has such a pretty smile.  Not sexual, but full of child-like innocence.  Not something you’d want to kiss, but something you’d want to paint on a huge mural for an entire world to look at; something that would scream, “Here, look at this!  It’s marvellous!”

“We have the technology.  We can rebuild her.” I cannot help but recite.

“Pardon?”

“Old Earth joke.  A story about a woman who was mangled in a motorized vehicle accident.  The military powers that be decided to rebuild her body into that of a bionic woman, so they could use her, of course.  Not a terribly inspired story.  Now I find it ironic I’m partly living it here.  Coincidence?  No, inevitable, because the concept intrigued me and I remember projecting myself into that role.  We create our reality from whatever bits and pieces our mind latches on to.”

“That is correct.  The only reason we bandaged you is to prevent infection and further damage while we wait, not in the hope you would heal.  They made sure when they crushed your wrists that you could never use them again; that they could never heal normally and you could never fight.  But, hmmm, “they” can be wrong about some things, can’t they.  That Warmo character will know something is going on with you and the doctor and will send spies to discover why you healed, and so quickly, from the effects of his hellish machine.  That is assuming he hasn’t already figured out what is going on.  So we must do something about that.

“Did you know that the “straps” that wrap around wrists and ankles do more than hold you there?  When the arms are extending, the “straps” correspondingly shrink in small bands pulled in opposite direction, thus destroying bone and muscle beyond recovery.  That was the impossible pain you were being subjected to.  They had activated only the wrists ones, either by oversight or deliberately to fit in with some other diabolical refinements on the torture.  Your ankle was not crushed, just dislocated.  But we won’t take any chances there.  The natural healing takes too long and could leave a weakness that would manifest in the arena, leaving you defenceless.  We will replace the bone and the sinews as well.  Then you will learn to put your greatest trust in that ankle.  Yes, you will learn.  You are needed for some time yet, while we perform other, but related, tasks.

“We, that is Dr. Echinoza and his trusty Cydroid crew, of which yours truly is the fifteenth and youngest member – we are five females and ten males total — hope to set a trap for Warmo and catch him in a definite illegal activity – and as you know, all illegal activities are capital offences here.  We have a plan that may mean one of us dies of torture but it will be worth it.  We have already decided who returns to Koron for the re-cloning and who must become Warmo’s victim.”

She bends her head to my face,

“No, I was not chosen for the victim role.  I’m your “nurse” for the duration.  XBA9 chose himself for the ordeal.  He feels he needs the experience.  He’s young.  He’ll be fine.”

Such matter-of-fact statements from these Cydroids, I find it difficult to understand them, perhaps because I approach them with normal human feelings.  How can someone who chooses to enter into excruciating torture and die from it be fine?  Do they possess neural-blocks?  As in the opposite of the neural inductor?  Have they found a way to manipulate the effects of  “Hansen’s Disease” in creating anaesthesia of body parts while having them torn from them?  Fine?  I just come from a short term of Warmo’s brand of finesse.

She is smiling at me but not probing.  Just as well for the time being.  I’m thinking.

“Tell me,”  she adds with a mischievous smile,  “how would it feel to find yourself fighting that Warmo in the arena?  We are hoping to arrange that.  It would be justice, hm?  It’s also a fact that you are the only “champion” we possess who could beat him.  I sense that you need this challenge, Antierra, that you and Warmo have much unfinished business.”

My heart skips several beats at the suggestion.  Eagerness and horror ride side by side.  Revenge and compassion vie for first place in my mind.  How must I respond to this idea?  I motion to the healer Cydroid to touch my head.

“Can you feel me there YBA?”  I shorten her name, dropping the number for simplicity while only the two of us are present.  “Can you tell the turmoil your question has put in my mind?  I cannot answer you right now.  How could I?  I have made so many mistakes here already it seems, nothing but mistakes.  I’ve violated my own beliefs about myself, my own, even private codes of conduct.  I’ve broken every promise I made before I came here.  Crossed every boundary I’d painstakingly set so I would not fail. 

“I’ve killed often out of hate and mocked my opponents before killing them.  Yes.  And I’ve fallen in love twice already, the second time incredibly painful and utterly confusing.  I’ve bitched at my charges even knowing they were going to die the next day; given utterly lewd sexual “performances” publicly.  I’ve despaired, doubted, recanted, thought my Altarian life a total fake; hated Old Earth for inveighing me into coming here.  I forgot why I came here and at times just became a mad, frantic killer, an animal fighting for her life not caring about anything else. 

“I’ve cursed Malefactus and every male on it.  I’ve looked into the sky at Albaral and cursed that too.  I’ve used the doctor to my own ends instead of just taking it like everybody else and dying as I should have.  In the end it seems to me that I am the one who brought all these diabolical things to Malefactus; that I made a most terrible mistake long ago and now everybody is paying for my foolishness and my false sense of redemptive properties.  I’m an idiot, YBA. 

“You are looking at a wreck and a wretch of a once human being!  To seek more vengeance, and along with letting myself fall in love with a man I can never really be with – you heard me earlier and heard his response – what can I say? 

[end blog post #49]

Reaching for Awareness

[short story by   ~burning woman~  written by Sha’Tara]

“If it is true that we only live a small part of the life that is within us, what happens to the rest?

What could, what should be done with all the time that lies ahead of us?

Is it a wish, dreamlike and nostalgic, to stand once again at that point in life; to be able to take a completely different direction from the one which has made us who we are?

The fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one planned to be.” (quotes from the movie, Night Train to Lisbon)

It was, he figured, around the middle of the night. He’d crawled out of the warm sleeping bag to stand outside and look at the night sky. The stars were slowly revolving overhead, only he knew it wasn’t the stars that were moving, but himself riding his wild planet through space and time. The thought made him feel vulnerable, fragile. Who am I to be standing here alone to witness this incredible sight? A couple of dozen years have gone by already since I was born and what do I know? I don’t even know why I was born. Happenstance? That’s it? I’m here, feeling this incredible surge of life just because, and no reason for any of it?

He thought about that as he began to shiver and long to crawl back into his little tent and the sleeping bag with its residual warmth. “I think therefore I am” he said out loud. “Well, that’s not good enough anymore because really that is meaningless. What I need to establish for myself is not the realization that “I am” which is pretty obvious and need not be stated, but “Why Am I? That’s the point!”

It was early Summer and the river level was still rising. There was the smell of fresh leaves and muddy waters flowing over mud banks and through thick grasses. You could hear the waters hissing as they flowed by the little island he’d chosen for his stay: it had just enough room to pitch the tent and bring the kayak safely out of the water. He knew “his” river, that the little island would not wash away. For the time being it was his own little private world surrounded by water. He’d chosen it as his sanctuary, a place to be alone and away from people. A place to think in ways not possible among others.

He had given himself this gift. He already knew that from here his life would take another path, go on another tangent, new ideas coalescing in his mind to foster yet another nature even if his body chose to remain essentially the same, ageing and eventually dying. That, he understood, was the way of things on Earth, “but not for me” he would say and watch friends and family walk away from him, afraid that his madness might be contagious.

“I’m sorry, Nadia” he’d told his young wife as she berated him for leaving on his “crazy” kayak outing on the river. She of course wanted nothing to do with his water ways and had done her utmost after their wedding to dissuade him and get him to sell his kayak even though she had promised she would never interfere with the part of his life that involved the river. “It’s my time of year to go on the river and partake of her awakening. I know you cannot understand this but there is no need to fear, or be jealous. This is whom you married and I kept no secrets or surprises to spring upon you. I will be back when I have done what I must do. If you do not wish to share this with me you are free to leave. I would be pleased to find you here when I return but I will not be expecting it. Take care o’ you, my lady.”

That had been his way, to set the people around him free of bonding to himself. The freedom he sought, he gave to everyone. He had never told his wife that he loved her – he did not believe in love because, as he so often said, love has proven it’s weakness in unreliability. Respect and honour, that I can offer, but not love.  This included his concept of bonding.  Stay or leave, as you choose.

Ignoring the night’s cold he let his mind wander this strange new world he had decided to enter into: detachment. Is detachment simply a coward’s way of dealing with a violent, cruel and unpredictable world? Is it a morbid fear of losing someone close, another that one has fallen in love with or developed a special bond to? Is that why I’m here, to work this out for myself?

The stars continued their uninterrupted journey over his head and he realized once again and logically that what he was observing was his own journey through the cosmos, one tiny fraction at a time.

‘I’m traveling through the cosmos but not only that, I am fully aware of this fact, right here, right now. But where am I going? Do I get to choose that or am I a piece of flotsam on the river of space-time? No, that will not be. This new nature of mine I will dedicate to discovering my destination and the next one I will use to figure out how I am supposed to get there.’

It was some time before he could calm his mind and resume his sleep.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #42

(continuing with the Manifesto… )

By mid-morning the twins return.  One has a long slash on her left arm which she holds as blood drips from the fingers of the limp hand hanging down.  The other woman is limping, but they have returned from their first fight and there is a look of triumph on their faces.  They have done what they swore to do and thought they’d never get the chance.  Two men died to pay for whatever horror other men did to these women.  They will survive their wounds and will go on to kill many more.  Their hate will never abate, that I know.  They have become killers of men.  They will never be anything less or more than that, until they are killed in turn.  By permission now long granted I escort and turn them in to the medics’ rooms for patching up and brief observation, the costs of such medical treatments having been paid by their owners.  Deirdre accompanies me and is permitted to attend to their wounds, thus leaving the medics to just sit and watch, doing nothing.

Expensive fighting animals taken to the vet after the fight: it is the way of it.

[end blog post #41]
______________________

[begin blog post #42]

I retrieve their weapons from the handlers and as I clean the long sword and bloodied axe, I shudder again. 

Such waste!  Such terrible waste.  No wonder this world is dying.  The black hole my friend the doctor is looking for – look no farther than into the heart of every person on this world.  Look at the blackness there.  That’s your problem, doc!  That and whatever Force is pushing the buttons of Malefactus.  That outside Force you won’t consider to exist.  You bastards who control this world from the spy-moon of Albaral, I’ll find you and expose you yet, I swear it!

‘And when are you going to get Deirdre out of this hell-hole, doc my very good friend?’  I my mind and heart I exude sarcasm and bile.

My thoughts jump naturally to Deirdre and Balomo.  I have to have someone to beat up on in my head at this moment, or I feel I’ll go stark raving mad, make a mad rush into the arena where the organized killing is still going on for the entertainment of thousands of brain-dead boneheads, and “go postal” as they used to say on Old Earth.

I grab the weapons tightly, one in each hand and walk down to the forge to have their cutting edges re-done, hissing my anger between my teeth, imaging this entire stone “fort” blowing itself to dust and joining the rest of the growing desert.  The blacksmith approaches me with his expectant erection and I make a gesture that says: ‘now would definitely be a good time to practice abstinence.’  Fortunately for both of us he understands and laughs his hearty old pirate’s laugh.  He won’t go without.  Some other girl will be available to him shortly.

On the way back I’m greeted silently by a Cydroid disguised as a handler.  As he pretends to escort me he whispers, more into my mind than ear, lips never moving:

“We have secured permission to take your friend to Koron as a special case study, not as a refugee.  You will have to perform your end of the bargain, covering for us, and her.  Are you ready and willing to do so?”

“I have been ready for over a year!  Yes, do it.  When is it happening?”

“Two days.  Dark night of clouds forecast.  The “King” has arranged to have many of the usual complement of guards busy at the court for his personal “protection” while we take her through the gates and alarmed sectors.  You will follow us until we cross the walk bridge across the moat and you will wander away along the water’s edge, then walk in and swim to the other side to make imprints there.  Then return immediately before the alarms are reset and the doors close.  You will have twenty three minutes.  Can you calculate that without chrono?”

“I’ll be swift, never fear.  I’m ready.”

“You cannot speak of this to the Cholradil, you understand?  She will be sedated when we take her.  There is no other way.  You will not say goodbye to her even though you won’t see her again.  You must not let her know something is going on.  Use anger to cover your feelings.  That works for us.  And above all, you must trust us to do what we promise to do.  You must never worry about her safety.  In time, the doctor will let you know how we fared and how she is doing and adapting.”

“You sound so confident… I wish I could be as much.”

“Be.  You must.”

“Thank you so much, sir.”

But he walks away as if he did not hear me.  I know he did.  It’s not their way to bandy or accept thanks, praise or blame.  They do what they program themselves to do until it is done or they reprogram themselves.  Now my mind fills itself with the risks of this enterprise.  Yes, the false king is on our side, of course, but he is only a figurehead in the whole gamut of Malefactus politics and economics.  His word is law only because some greater Force upholds it.  The position of King is used to control the people only.  But the real government of Malefactus resembles more the organization of a secret society.  Its ruling aristocracy is but a front.  There is a tight-knit secret oligarchy pulling the strings on this world.  Who are they and what do they want?

The questioning that will arise from Deirdre’s disappearance will not come from the courts, but from the dark, dreaded official inquisition.  Even the King is subject to the Force that instituted the inquisition.  This much I learned from Bal.  I know now that my greatest trial on Malefactus has begun and won’t end even long after she is gone, if I survive that long.  How much will I feature in their investigations?  What will it cost me?  How much do I love you Deirdre?  Never enough, I know, but in this just enough to see you off this world.  The rest is the rest.  

I step lively back to the training, involving myself in a bunch of details I’d let slip.  I upbraid a couple of fighters for sloppiness, striking one hard on the side of the head to demonstrate how easily one dies.  She flinches and rubs her head and I hit her again on her unprotected side.  She goes down and I jump on top of her, ready to spit her.  There is a look of pure terror in her eyes.

I step off of her and growl for her to stand.    

“Pick up your ‘fucking’ staff and fight me, damn you.  Fight me! You call yourself a gladiator?  You’re nothing but ‘pess.’”  (In our world the term means a combination of excretion of piss and sweat.  It is always used insultingly.) 

And I drive her hard until her fear changes to anger and she begins to return the blows in earnest.  Too late, of course, but an improvement.  Maybe she will last more than a couple of bouts if her challengers are drugged, or certifiable idiots.  We do get those.  Some people get lucky.  Will this one?

“Is there something wrong with your head?” I ask her.

“No sir!”  protocol – if I’m trainer, I have to be ‘sir.’

“Well if you’re not stupid, is it laziness?  Do you want to die on your first round?”

“No sir.”

“Then FIGHT!  Attack me, not to tickle me, but to KILL ME!

I say it so loud the sounds echo against the great walls and everyone stops to listen.  Trainers come running to me and I take a stance of humility.

“What is going on here?”

“Something new, sirs.  I have discovered that certain words help people respond to attack.  Perhaps we could be permitted to test my idea?”

“It will be taken into consideration.  One more outburst and it’s a flogging – for both of you.”

“I’m sorry sirs.  No more outbursts.”  And I watch them return to their brew and dice.  In this instance the threat would not be carried out but protocol was served.  They did their job.

I turn viciously to the trainee and use the ‘high’ language, not their pidgin.

“Do you understand now, girl?  You have some power you can use.  I just demonstrated how easily you can die, one from weapons in the arena, the other by violating rules.  The only reason we are not being flogged to death at this very moment is because of who I am, do you realize that?  I put your life in danger because I seek to save your life.  You owe me this: to listen carefully and to throw yourself body and mind into our training.  There is nothing else here for you.  No escape.  No miracles.  No fairy tales.  You will fight to the death every time you enter that arena. 

“Turn around.”  She obeys immediately.  I read her brand for her ‘age.’

“You have approximately one year left to prepare for these ordeals.  They will not end until you are killed. 

“If you do not wish to survive, tell me now and we won’t waste time I can best spend on those who wish to live longer.  You will go into your first fight and you will be tortured to death, not killed outright.  They will soon realize you don’t know how to attack, or even defend yourself.  And they will toy with you, disgrace and dishonour you and you will make the status of all women on this world even less than it is because of your lack of courage.

“We don’t fight only for ourselves.  We fight for all the women on this world.  The others only suffer and have no means to fight back but we do!  We are the gladiators!  We have weapons and we can learn how to use them.  It’s how we make our way.  You girl are not just one girl; you are all of us when you fight them.  Are we then all lazy, stupid, or cowards, as they like to think?  Or will you show them something different? 

“Every one of you youngsters has the potential to be the greatest female fighter ever to enter the arena.  Everyone.  All you need to do is find the key that opens the door to that new idea and believe you can do it.  Realize that if you can think it, you can do it.  Just follow through with nothing to look back on, nothing to lose.  This world hangs by a thread and the end of that thread is just within your grasp.  There is only one thread.  The men want to cut it.  You are the one called to prevent this from happening.  You get me?”

Does she ‘get’ me?  I fear not in the least.  There is yet no understanding of philosophy, of any sort of personal power one can tap into from within.  With these poor people, everything is physical and external.  If you have a weapon; if you are given permission; if you are challenged; if you are allowed; if you are physically able – you can fight against a man and maybe kill that man before he kills you.  But you gain nothing by it.  You just live to fight another day, that’s all.  You cannot improve yourself in any way. 

It is the way of it. 

And I’m sick to death of hearing that damned expression that says it all for all of us.  How can I communicate abstract ideas to these people?  They express white noise for thoughts and they have the limited vocabulary of a three year old Earthian child, exceptions noted.

[end blog post #42]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #39

The second fight has lasted over three hours.  Later the doctor tells me it was the longest one-on-one combat fights ever recorded.  Even as Torlat still twitches on the ground the King rises, ends the tournament and dismisses the unruly crowd with a show of force from several hundred black-clad uniformed and armoured Hyrete police held in readiness.  As the police units file down the aisles in the stands all outbursts cease.  The fans file out to consider their staggering losses and a few to rejoice over their winnings.  Despite the mounting evidence that female fighters will overcome their male challengers on an average of three to one, these sick men cannot believe the evidence, going with their feelings of revulsion and hate; believing women are weaker than men and continuing to place their bets on the male challengers.   

I live another day, and to what end?  For the moment, there is but one end: to save Deirdre.

[end blog post #38]
____________________

[begin blog post #39]

Chapter 17 – If One Woman Escapes

In the weeks following the fight I am employed, or better said, occupied, strictly as trainer of new recruits.  It is a time of reflection and observation.  I think about my performance, not in the physical realm – there is not much I could change or improve on that – but in my heart and in my mind.  I think about what I thought I would do here, and what I have done instead.  In deep and constant retrospection, I analyze my feelings.  The killings are now beginning to haunt my thoughts.  I feel like a murderer of innocents.  Innocents because I realize they are pushed to be what they are.  Something drives them, something they have no defence against.  I encounter that same feeling of helplessness and frustration I knew so well on Túat Har when I encountered injustice and the various levels of oppression constant in all her societies.

Balomo Echinoza, medical doctor and anthropologist, citizen of the world of Koron, intelligent, educated, aware; an interstellar traveler renowned for his research and writings, after fifteen years on this world is succumbing to the same misogynist force that controls all the men of T’Sing Tarleyn.  He falls into moods of uncontrollable rage against a woman if he feels she has slighted him in some way and strikes her without any qualms until the madness recedes and he realizes his act.  Then he plunges into deep despair.

How much longer before I too become like other gladiator females and fight simply because I want to live and I have no other choice, or worse, because I want to kill men?  I realize now that both the men and women of this world are victims of some Power beyond their will to overcome.  Even the rare Cholradil, the natural born empaths, do not see the problem of Malefactus.  They see themselves as the problem for being unable to become normal members of their society.

I thought at first the problem was in the local natural stimulant drug made from the chakr root.  A simplistic conclusion that was quickly proved wrong.  Neither Bal nor I use it and the few times I did, it only made me sick.  And why do the Cholradil – both female and male – remain immune to the sickness? 

Yes, I did learn that there are male Cholradil on this world.  The males never live past the rite of puberty.  When confronted by the female he must kill, she invariably kills him, end of story.  So, according to Deirdre, Cholradil males absorb large quantities of chakr in desperate attempts to overcome their dreaded affliction – all to no avail.  They cannot hurt another, no matter what is done to them and no matter what they do to themselves.

So, does one have to be born a natural empath to be immune to misogyny or can one develop that sense somehow?  I have no answer.  The only side issue I find from this line of questioning is that I would never want to become a natural empath.  To be driven to whatever end by a feeling you have absolutely no control over is a terrible thing.  It’s too much like an addiction.  On Altaria we are empaths by choice.  We choose how we respond to our feelings. 

I remember a time when I was going through particular angst over my visions of this world.  I entered into an extended fast without food or water.  To do this I walked up the green hills of my Altarian home near the valley of the Great Rift we call Shaliant.  I got to the top after three days of steady walking, not stopping of day or night – there is seldom any real darkness there because of our binary sun system.   I remember my feet being guided to my destination by the very soil and stone of the planet herself during my ascent, for she too is an empath. 

At the highest point I sat on a smooth red mound of sun-baked clay, now abandoned, made by travelling swarms of long reddish coloured architect beetles.  These creatures build their mounds over long years of endless work, going through a full cycle, then suddenly swarming and taking flight to the very last, travelling hundreds of miles before they must descend again, lay their eggs in the ground and die.  The emerging larva then begin their task of building a new mound.

Long I stayed awake through the days and the nights, sitting motionless, thus becoming more aware of life’s movements all around.  I knew the fundamental impressions I was taking from my world would keep me sane enough to know when it was time to return, whatever happened to me as a result of my choices.  They were the trigger I would use to cause the remembrance of my true self, whatever the dangers, the temptations or seductions put before me.

Allow me to describe this small aspect of Altaria.  Mists filled Shaliant in the mornings and gently lift, or fade throughout the day as one of our two suns fill the deep canyons to reveal the sinewy bed of the river Fallouin, longest water course on Altaria.  I could hear the dragged-out cries from the majestic osoleys, or sea birds, below the promontory outcropping where I sat and sometimes could see them soaring slowly and gracefully on the thermals far below my vantage point, their grey-blue wingspans up to five times the length of my body.  They come in from the sea during their breeding periods that last approximately two years.  Their time at sea we measure at seventeen to twenty-one years depending on the species.  There are tales on our world of the old sea people (still known as the Mer-people on Túat Har) talking to the osoleys and of their children riding them.  I believe these tales have more than a little truth to them.

But I hadn’t climbed to the top of Shaliant to enjoy the beauty of this totally unspoiled natural space, nor to guarantee my return in some future.  I had come to rediscover another aspect of myself… and to cry alone.  There is an odd flow of intelligent “mind” energy over Shaliant that has the power to block all telepathic connections.  It is so strong that you cannot take any flying object over it, but must circumnavigate it.  It blocks all flow of information from artificial computers.  Only natural life can penetrate the mystery of Shaliant, or survive in it unscathed. 

I wanted to block out the protective, empathic love of Altaria that flows naturally through all of us.  I wanted to re-experience loneliness, as I had known it on Earth and knew I’d know even more on Malefactus.  I remained on Shaliant for over a month.  I relearned how to cry within a brokenness of heart.  I relearned to allow all my feelings to jumble in and out of mind and heart and throw me in utter confusion.  I relearned how to live within the mad cacophony considered normal on non-empath worlds.

It was from these heights that I chose to fade out of my Altarian body, allowing myself to fall over the edge of the Great Rift, plummeting into the maze to re-awaken and manifest physically transformed, on Malefactus. 

Speaking of Malefactus, there is more to this world that makes me wonder.  I cannot see much of it from the confines of our sleeping and training compound, but in this micro environment some things are obvious.  You never hear anyone sing.  It is prohibited.  Why?  There are no visible birds except for the vultures that appear without fail at every killing.  There are no animals, wild or domesticated, except for whatever makes that lugubrious call on our walls in the night.  You rarely see a blade of grass growing along the base of the great stone walls or in fissures and cracks, though there should be.  If one does grow and is found, we are supposed to pull it out and bring it to a trainer to be disposed of… as if a freely growing thing was a sign of disease, or weakness.  Of course no one does that.  Any green thing we find, that being rare enough, we eat!

No flowers, wild or domestic, are ever seen.  No leaf ever blows in from outside, so my guess is there are no tall trees, at least in this part of the world.  Tiegli mentioned trees that made tents in the deep south.

Where do the vegetables we eat come from?  And the straw we put in our cages?  No answer.

I’ve been here several years now and the only thing that has changed is in the amount of sand blowing in and spreading in the yards, in the washing troughs and on the tables and seats.  We have to clean it out and sweep constantly.  I notice less rain also and on rare occasions our water has been rationed.  When I first came here I was aware of a salty sea smell on certain days when the winds blew strong and steady from the north-east, bringing in clouds and rain.  Now the smell is brackish and of rotting sea vegetation as on hot days when the tide goes way out in a collector bay.  I’m guessing the level of the water is dropping.  Is this a natural cycle or an environmental anomaly?  Is the entire planet experiencing desertification?  I have no answer.

Well no, that is not quite exact.  I do have the beginning of vision dreams now.  For years I wondered why my ability to dream was gone.  I think the same force that causes the misogynist imbalance is also responsible for preventing people from dreaming.  I know the women don’t dream, though some have reported seeing things at night akin to nightmares but they “see” their dreams as something happening outside of themselves.  They see ghosts wandering around the cages and walking through the walls.  They have little sense of creativity and most dismiss “brain images” as nonsense that will get you killed in the arena.

On recurrent dream is an image of the planet imploding, with all of her natural life force simply flowing out of her, leaving her, as if she were dying and sending off seeds of herself to re-grow herself somewhere else.  If this is the case, it may come to pass that the sun will also die and all that will remain to light this doomed place will be the cursed Albaral, assuming of course that it is indeed self-powered and its light isn’t just a reflection of the natural sun.

Each time I verbalize the name of Albaral I find myself entering a psychic trance and “seeing” ideas as well as images connected to this artificial sun.  This time I see the image of “Melkiar,” not as invading AI’s in spaceships, but as a gigantic artificial life form frozen within an ancient shiny black metallic carapace housing some kind of mind once an ISSA life, now drained of every aspect of its original self.  A monstrous entity capable of programming AI’s to destroy all that it once was, as if doing so could erase the memory of what it had been before greed for longevity corrupted it. 

Where do you exist now, in space/time, Melkiar?  Where are you?  What are your plans?  Is Albaral one of your observation posts? 

Could there be some connection between this world and the invaders of the United Treaty Worlds?  For example the doctor’s old auto-medic cannibalized from one of the UTW jump scout ships that was sunk beneath the massive stone walls of Hyrete: how was that embedded under a fifty meter thick foundation supporting a twenty metre stone wall without being damaged?  Melkiars could morph from thousands of small armed robots to giant inorganic brains encased in elephantine carapaces that could withstand the most powerful fusion weaponry.  The only way we learned to destroy these monstrosities were with tripleheaded singularity grenades which create multi-level fusion bursts that “ate” their intended target then “died” before they could expand into an uncontrolled melt-down.  

These Melkiar constructs could travel unaided through short distances in deep vacuum space.  They could hack their way through the hardest stone, causing havoc in mining communities of asteroid fields.  Certainly, if they did penetrate the Malefactus stack world dimension along with the jump scouts, they could have easily taken an auto-medic and placed it here.  The question foremost in my mind remains, ‘Why?’  What use would they have for an auto-medic designed to repair biological life forms, namely human bodies when their entire drive was to destroy all biologicals?

What else could they do we know nothing about?  Much research into their particular type of life ended with the wars.  No one wanted more to do with them.  Probably another big mistake.  But logically, if there is any logic to this place, why would they hide an auto-medic here in Hyrete?  Is it possible there are AI rebels even among the Melkiar who sought to save human lives?  Is there a relationship between the Melkiar, perhaps in some of their early penetrations in this Galaxy and the black metal men who defeated the green Desert Beast by blowing her ship out of the sky and subsequently enslaving the women and children of T’Sing Tarleyn?  What about the chronology of these events?  What happens to “linear time” when crossing dimensions?  Could the Melkiars have wandered in this dimension thousands of years ago while at the same non-linear “time” invading our dimension of the Galaxy?

Obviously I’m not yet asking the right questions but I’ll get there.

[end blog post #39]