Tag Archives: sports

Antierra Manifesto -blog post #58

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]
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[begin blog post #58]

That night Tiki is angry.  Not at me, she knows nothing of my intercession to get her to work kitchen duty, but at the men. 

“Damn them, damn them, damn them!” she mutters in that hoarse whisper all females learn to speak in from the time they utter their first words.  “I be fighter, not gorok!  I train with weapon, not clean dirty bowl and sweep floor for dirty cooks.  Damn them!”  

A ‘gorok’ is a particular class of female worker slave who does the most menial type of kitchen work.  She doesn’t cook, or even serve.  She peels, grinds, husks and cleans, cleans, cleans, endlessly.  Her “shifts” have no set times.  She is up hours before anyone else, warming up ovens, washing utensils and cleaning counters and floors.  She sleeps, when permitted, during the middle hours of the day and of the night.  She is up late into the night cleaning, locked inside the kitchens with sensors ready to set off alarms if she walks outside her perimeter.  A slave of slaves.  There is usually a round the clock complement of eight of these goroks in our kitchens.

Because Tiki is my slave, she is allowed out of the kitchens at nightfall to spend the night with me.  I had hoped otherwise, but I can redeem this time, I think.  I fully enjoy her outburst.  There is fire in this one.  Not hate, not pride, just pure fire.  She has a dream, a vision, however short: to be the best fighter ever to grace the arena.  To beat my record.  I can tell.  Now to blend patience and humility into that fire so it can never be doused, whatever happens to the body of this woman. This one is going to develop into a true mind being, I can sense that already.  I have three years to prepare her to become a hero to the women of her world.  That’s sufficient when one has good material to work with.  It is my turn to do my hoarse communication.

“Come Tiki,”  she rolls between my legs and cuddles against my body.  “You be fine.  You no gorok.  You be fine fighter, best fighter.  Say you this every day.  Pick up broom, it ‘staff’ for you.  Sweep husks and peelings from floor like opponents in arena – just dust to Tiki.  Strong is Tiki.  Mongoose shaking cobra to death.”  She nudges deeper into me, her hair tickling my throat and begins unselfconsciously sucking her thumb.  I take her hand gently and pull the thumb out of her mouth and offer her my nipple instead.  She takes it greedily and smiles at me.  Haven’t I been here before?  Beware Antierra, the snakes aren’t all outside in the coarse grasses at the edge of the desert!  They be hissing from the very walls that contain you.

Wars aren’t won in a day.  They take planning, patience, courage and finally just the sheer gut of the fighters to win them.  Tiki does not take kindly to her new life.  From kitchen duty she is shifted to cleaning the straw in the cages and then to sweeping the yards and washing the blood on the flagstones where some of the women have been “punished” for certain infractions.  In this past week we were made to witness two “punishments” to the death, one of an older fighter whose owner cancelled his contract and condemned her to the next killing orgy.  She was put into a private killing orgy for the trainers, a bit of fun approved by the overseer.  She was led to the centre of the yard and  armed with nothing but a standard training staff, was viciously set upon by six trainers until they had managed to break several ribs and one arm.  When she could no longer defend herself they crushed her skull.  When she died they cheered and toasted their victory.  Old king Jestor would have been truly proud of these men.

The other, a trainee who had a nightmare and did not shut up in time when one of the women tried to awaken her, was flogged to death for breaking the rule of silence.  We watched, listened to her screams and pleas for mercy, her dying moans.  We heard the standard warning, returned to life as usual.  What I would give, had I anything to give, to enter the auto-medic and be given the heart of an android, or better, a heart of stone.  To not feel.  To not have to endure this suffering planet.

It is the way of it… and I cannot help feeling.  To cry?  To curse?  I glance at the bloody, pulpy mess hanging from that steel torture pole I know intimately.  I wonder why it is not I who is hanging there.  I imagine the life that was there, that is no more.  I sat next to her yesterday at morning meal and she smiled sadly at me under her eyelashes.  Well, maybe it is me there because I realize I cannot curse.  If I cannot curse, then I have incarnated all of it.  Each time another dies, I die two deaths: hers and mine.  Malefactus is a neuro-inductor and I am attached to its probes all the time.  

Under the wan light of Albaral coming through the openings in the high black stone walls Tiki and I talk in our cage as we nestle against each other enjoying the mutual warmth of our bodies.  Menial labour brings anger and shame from Tiki.  She is afraid they want to demote her to the rank of goronda, the general purpose female worker drone.  “Damn them!” – her favourite expression towards men in general.  That fire is burning dangerously bright.  The wick needs trimming or the flame will smoke up the glass and obscure the vision. 

I study my feelings for her as a hawk watches his prey moving unawares, feeding peacefully in the grasses below his perch.  I must let her take all of me she needs yet refuse to ever let her possess any of me.  I know how to do this, I know I can do it, but do I have the willpower?  How does an older woman not lose herself in those black pools of sadness that pass for eyes in such children who have never experienced childhood?  Creatures destined to die before they experience adulthood?  What does that make them?

I try my best logic on her.  “Tiki, listen me.  I good fighter, yes?”

“Yes sir, you best fighter.  All women say you best.”

“You trust me, Tiki?”

She replies with a hoarse grunt.  “Huh?”

“Trust.  Believe me.  You think me true to you?”

“Oh yes!  You say, I believe.”

This is extremely dangerous ground.  Who in their right mind wants to be believed by someone who will put her life at stake for what you tell her?  I speak slowly, pitching my voice so she can get every word, every inflection – the tone of voice to them being much more meaningful than the words used to convey it. 

“Good you believe.  But careful you be not believe everything I say.”  She tries to speak and I put my hand on her mouth.  “Wait, I finish, I explain.  I know things you not know.  Things good for me.  Maybe not good for you.  You, me, different.  You listen – I say – you try.  If work for you, is good for you, yes?  If not work for you, is not good for you.  I not know if good for you.  I guess.  I have vision.  Like you but is my vision.  You have vision to be best fighter.  Good vision.  I have different vision.  To be best woman; to be good woman.  I not good woman Tiki.  Good fighter only.  But man can be good fighter too, better than best woman.  But man cannot be good woman.  I have what called “exclusive” vision – be special. 

“You woman now.  What you want be?  I not understand you.”

“I want be more than what I be, Tiki.  Better.  In good ways, not evil ways.  I tired of killing.  Tired of blood and screams.  Tired all over.  Old now Tiki, very, very old.  But cannot go yet, cannot leave, cannot die.  I first find me, better me.  Good woman me.  I first do something good for another person.  If you not understand, no matter.  You remember I say this and put my words in your head.  They grow there.  Ideas.  You say to me woman thinks is stupid.  Is not stupid Tiki.  I think always.  Think, think.  I watch men, learn.  Design new weapons, train in new way for women to fight so live longer; so you live longer.  I stay here, not die because I want help women be stronger, live longer.  Is nothing else for me.”  

[end blog post #58]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #53

(…that goes on, this goes on… another short episode from Antierra’s life – and I did not forget to add a title to the blog post this time. Gets confusing when I don’t number them and if I don’t get better at blogging from a cell phone, I’d better remember to drag my combination laptop/tablet Asus computer wherever I go! The problem with that is, it only works where there’s WIFI whereas the cell phone works anywhere there’s phone coverage. Decisions, decisions…)
________________________________________
Two days before the deadline, the doctor calls the handler office for two escorts to return me to my normal life.  As a sign that I’m just another female gladiator slave the doctor pushes me out his door to stand naked and await my escorts.  As I expected, they examine me, then take me to the wash troughs where they dump cold water on me.  Then the feeding and since it’s late in the day, I’m led into a cage.  To my shock and surprise I see a young trainee there.

“Deirdre!”  I almost shout.  I bite my lip to keep from crying out with the double pain of thinking they found her and brought her back to certain death,  then realizing it isn’t Deirdre, of course – Cydroids never lie – but another young woman likely recently arrived into our killing fields.

[end blog post #52]
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[begin blog post #53]

She is a typical T’Sing Tarleynan, small, stocky, with short fingers and stubby toes.  Her hair is almost black, cut rough and short.  She has a thin-lipped smile that reveals pointy, gapped teeth.  She makes no move towards me as I lie down on one side of the cage.  She just watches, her black eyes glinting in the pale light, as if waiting for a signal from me as to what I want from her.  I motion for her to move beside me and she does quickly and quietly.  Waits again. 

I whisper, “Can you talk?”

“Yes master, I talk good.”

“Here in the cage I’d rather you don’t call me that.” 

“Yes m… yes.  I call you something?”

“Call me Anti.”

“What it means, Anti?”

“It means I fighter and now family for you.”  And for some reason not yet clear to me, I suddenly decide to imitate the paucity of words in her language – to make myself more like her and the others in the compound.  I get the impression that I need to lower my standards even more to be accepted, if not understood.  Better late than never. 

“Ah good.  And what I be called by you, please?”

“You Tiki.  Little mongoose.”

“What be… mongoose?”

“Little animal from an old world.  It kills snakes.  You know snakes?”

“Oh yes, in desert and in grass prairies?  Many snakes.  Dangerous.  The black people, they tell stories of big snakes to take a man, crush and eat whole.  Is mongoose so strong?”

“Yes Tiki.  Mongoose is small but fast and strong. Kills poison snake called cobra that has big head with marks and small body.”

“There are those here…”

“Yes and they be called men…”  I do not hide the bitterness of my statement from her but this is not Deirdre.  Such subtleties are lost to her, as to most women I have met.

“Oh!  You mean I mongoose, kill cobra men?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.  When you are trained you kill men, many men.  They fear you then.  Fear your power of woman.”

“I like you telling of my power Anti.  I come here three days and they burn my number under old one, see?” She shows me her fresh brand and I remember the pain of it in my own buttock, and the shame to go with it too.  “And I feel so scared and small.  No friends.  No one to care.  The men, they have sex with me, many men.  They hurt me so much, aiiee!  They, you say, torture me, make me cry down there in a room behind great stone doors.” 

She points in some vague direction I locate as north-east.  “They put metal string inside me and make me burn – terrible pain, terrible.  Now they give me to you.  Say you lose your lover – she dead they say, yes?  Maybe I be her now for you?”  She touches me lightly on the thigh and I feel her shaking remembering her pain.

“Yes Tiki, she dead.  She run away and not come back.  I too now all alone and very sad.  Like you.  Like you they take me in torture room under walls, deep under the ground.”  And I point down to make her understand my meaning of ‘down.’  “They hurt me and make me scream – so much pain, Tiki.  All of us here, so much pain we endure.  What you think, we should all have so much pain always, from men, huh?”

As a true T’Sing Tarleynan female would answer she replies, “What I think no matter.  Men, they decide.  Woman think?  That is waste.  Eat, sleep, make love, train to fight and kill.  That is fighter woman do.  Think waste energy; mix up in head.  Make weak, stupid.  I be strong soon, strong and fast.  I train good.  I live long.  Maybe you like me, you take me.  Hold me, make love.  Be lover, be friend.  Be family to me.  I train with you, huh?”  She pinches my muscles on my tight stomach.  “You like old skin, strongest of fighter woman they say.  Desert Beast, huh?  Proud I be slave to you.  Teach me strength you do.  I fight for you.”

[end blog post #53]

The Age of the Dictators

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of an intervention that not only saved my physical life but sent me off on a 180 degree tangent from what I had been. That can only have meaning to myself, of course, or perhaps to anyone who may have been touched by some of the thoughts and ideas on expressing life which I have spouted quite regularly and annoyingly. After all, who wants change that turns all the known and relative comfortable on its head? Better to stick with the tried and failed, follow tradition. Tomorrow is “Good Friday” as declared by the Roman Church many years ago and subsequently adhered to by all of Christendom. That the concept was stolen from the very “pagans” the Church despised and massacred is of little consequence: we have a TRADITION!

That out of my way, I want to write a bit about some recent observations of the global political processes. Lots of noise and bloody foolishness bandied about as the overcrowded numbties of Earth increasingly go for the jugular over their beliefs and traditions. Not so different than previous slices of historical drama except that now we can “participate” in the processes globally through satellite feeds and the quasi-ubiquitous Internet.

I have noticed a serious difference however, and I call it ‘The Age of the Dictators.’

Man’s civilization is of course familiar with, and his history replete with, dictators but what makes this age different is the global and successful wave of political power grabbing by psychopathic and sociopathic billionaires or military leaders able to circumvent democratic constitutions written to prevent this sort of thing from “ever happening again.” Fledgling democracies established through compromise with totalitarian powers of business, banking and the social security state in the last couple hundred years are being systematically dis-empowered and disarmed by the returning totalitarians.

Temporarily sidetracked, the forces of dictatorship slowly but systematically burrowed into the democratic forms of government, buying stooges, corrupting ideals, installing preferred leaders, developing armies of constitutional lawyers to challenge existing laws that protected the people, particularly the most vulnerable: women, children, the working poor, racial minorities and changing rules that allowed all and sundry to vote, thus in a small way making their voices heard. The stooges of totalitarian power are now overtly active in eliminating free speech and destroying all vestiges of a so-called free press. More: in the USA in particular, 50% of the nation’s income is now barrelling like a train without brakes into the military and much of the rest finds its way into the pockets of its billionaires while a flaming racist and sexual predator rules the country from the White House.

War criminals, torturers, sexual predators, perverts, corrupt billionaires, these it would appear, form the preferred choice of voters in most democracies yet we know that it is ownership of the propaganda apparatus and manipulation of polls that have made this possible. Well, some of us know this but of course those who are trained to react to a ‘score’ as if an election was nothing more than a playoff take it at face value that their team won or lost the game and they’ll have to wait another four years to attend another playoff in which their team with better management, stronger or sexier players and richer sponsors, will have a chance to win.

That’s what democracy and the “popular vote” has become: sports teams, playoffs and a final score.

The conclusion was foregone when this began happening decades ago. No one can change the course of events now all hope and talk to the contrary. Unknown to the spectators of the democratic playoff game was a much more powerful team some have labelled “the New World Order” to be politically correct, to be sprung upon the bewildered spectators. It was funded and manned to crush all opposition and usher in the Age of the Totalitarian Dictators. It’s team consisted of the most mentally weak and morally corrupt psychopaths and the owners made the rules for the final playoff.

The people never clued in that “participatory democracy” did not begin and end at the polling booth but had to be a 24/7 commitment to an ideal. Too bad and so sad: goodbye democracies. Now we lose everything. Now we go to war against one-another and against our natural environment. Now we bleed, suffer and die. Now we pay the price for our apathy and woeful ignorance of the kind of forces that have always manipulated us to kill and die for their enrichment and entertainment.

Let’s follow the leaders and go out on the streets to cheer the final winners, our Dictators.

Detachment to Life

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

“I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion.  I think the ancients know this too, but let us discover it on our own.  They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested.  A truly detached ISSA*, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron.”  (Antierra monologue speaking of her teachings on detachment while on her home world of Altaria – Antierra Manifesto)

Once the basics of one Earthian incarnation have been experienced – surviving, satisfying desires, experimenting with physical senses, what’s left but death, or entering upon a quest for the greater meaning of Life as a self aware being? 

If one chooses “death” which to me means going on repeating experiences pointlessly, then that’s that.  If one chooses the quest, there has to be a sure way to enter into that which guarantees one will not fall back into such silly behaviour as being a sports fan, chasing the opposite gender for sexual gratification, “making” money, hating, fighting, killing then dying to find out it was all a chimera.

Seems to me the way to freedom is opened through detachment.  What keeps us enslaved to the wheel of the System is an array of attachments each one justifying and strengthening the other. It behooves us therefore to relinquish all our attachments to the things this world offers more as bait than as satisfaction (since none ever completely satisfy, and that should be a very broad hint). 

OK, so I want to learn the meaning of Life, not just the meaning (if there be any) of one little incarnation on this little world but the meaning of Life as expressed through an infinite and timeless cosmos: that meaning! Only a free being can ever hope to enter into such a quest.  Attachments are all those things, big and small, that translate as chains, shackles, stanchions, locks, doors, walls, perimeters, limits that take one to termination.  In this situation, death becomes the final attachment. 

Before one tackles the difficult concept of death, one should consider the pattern of lesser attachments that enslave us to our body and its world and how we are connected to the pattern.  As long as a single attachment remains unexplored and connected, death remains the final enigma. Yet unless one can know all about death, even if the words to describe this certainty do not exist, the quest for Life remains closed.  Death was invented to create the impression that there is no such thing as “Life” as an infinite concept; that “Life” had been conquered. All attachments are lies and death is the final and greatest lie of all when living under attachments.

How then does one person achieve a place of total detachment?  As said above, it isn’t easy.  To my heroine (granted she is under extreme stress in that part of the story) it seems impossible.  But nothing is impossible! Impossible is just another attachment!

Detachment, once decided upon, comes through self empowerment.  All my choices are mine and I take full responsibility for the results.  Sure, there will remain many little itches of attachments, like cold sniffles or skin blemishes, but my immune system is self empowerment and that is how I heal myself, as much and as many times as it takes.  I learn not to repeat stupid or pointless moves. I learn to be satisfied with an experience that I know will not improve the more I do it. 

Prayers will not be answered with greater alacrity or better overall results.  Hockey games won’t improve. TV won’t demonstrate a higher level of intelligence. Cigarettes or booze won’t taste better. Crossing borders won’t become easier or safer and sex… well I think we all know the answer to that one.

I learn not to waste my time on the treadmill or the merry-go-round and I learn to use that salvaged time to better my understanding.  If I have any problem on how to direct this new understanding, I cradle it within compassion thus guaranteeing a successful continuation to the quest I am on.

Yes Antierra, it is possible to become totally detached.  You have to learn to take the broader view of the concept.    

*ISSA: acronym for intelligent, sentient, self aware

 

Compassion in a Nutshell (as promised)

OK, here goes, my stumbling attempt to clarify something that is way out of my league… but someone’s got to do it, and I promised!

Compassion in a Nutshell, as I was taught, how I experience it daily
by    ~burning woman~   expressed by Sha’Tara

What it isn’t:  When I speak on compassion as I was taught by the Teachers and how I experience it, I’m never talking about a common mixture of feeling and emotion, of love, like, attraction, desire, lust, romance, or any of the usual social relationships.  It is none of those.

What it is, point by point:  Compassion is utterly selfless.  Whatever I give to another is entirely for that other, no thought of “what’s in it for me” involved in the transaction.  At the same time I realize that any expenditure of “energy” on my part is immediately replenished and added to.  Since I am fully aware of this now, I have to say that although it seems a contradiction, my motivation is both, selfless and selfish.

Compassion is inclusive.  This needs to be understood very clearly because the compassionate being has no enemies… ever.  What is an enemy?  Obviously someone you fear, either because s/he has hurt you in some personal and real way and would continue to do so, or it is someone your society has demonized.  You fear and you hate.  You want protection or you want to attack.  These are emotional responses.  In this area it isn’t forgiveness that heals, it’s compassion.

Compassion is non-emotional.  In compassion there are no emotional responses.  This also must be clearly understood.  In the previous case of “the enemy” the concept disappears completely if there is no emotional response involved.  Does that mean then that the compassionate person is android-like?  Not at all.  If anything the compassionate person develops and experiences deeper feelings than a normal person.  I find myself constantly reacting strongly to events normal people hardly notice, take for granted or even enjoy.  When I see someone eating meat the effect is mentally devastating, hence why I block any emotional response.  To me all killing is murder and a “piece of meat” was a living, breathing, feeling “other” that a universally false belief backed by emotions, has turned into a billion dollar business from billions of helpless torture victims of “gastronomical” greed.  Hunting, fishing, violent sports such as boxing or sports involving animals in which they suffer or are in danger of being seriously hurt – horse racing for example – these are all stumbling blocks to the empath.  Try to imagine what the truly compassionate feels when confronted with instances of abuse, oppression, rape, genocide, war and mass shootings.  It isn’t just “news” believe me: it’s hell.  You don’t want to go there emotionally or you won’t come back.  Compassion takes care of it by shutting down emotional response.

Compassion does not recognize special relationships.  For a gregarious species this may be the toughest aspect to comprehend.  “You mean I can’t “love” my child more than anyone else’s?” is a typical response.  To a normal person such is unthinkable.  So perhaps it can be explained.  First, compassion doesn’t care who or what you choose to “love” or “hate” because that is neither here nor there.  Compassion, being, shall I say, “higher” in nature and power than all known types of love, overrides those emotions in any case and neutralizes them.  The compassionate being has no use for special relationships, they just cloud the issue.  So if you already have special relationships that need your presence, input and support, compassion will certainly not prevent you from doing your duty.  The difference is that these relationships, these people, animals, things you may own, are not central to your life and do not determine your thoughts and acts.  You are first of all, compassion — not just compassionate — and everything else is secondary.

Compassion is never reciprocal.  Another point that has to be clearly understood.  Most if not all Earthian relationships exist within some form or reciprocity even if it’s just a form of recognition for altruistic acts.  Ego (I don’t like using that term but most people understand what is meant by that) is usually involved in normal relationships, from the dependent to the seductive to the gimme-gimme; the protective to the controlling.  I could truthfully say I suppose that compassion is self-rewarding, that it is its own reward.  Indeed it doesn’t take long for a compassionate person to realize how much the practice empowers!  This empowerment is highly beneficial to both, body and mind.  The immune system works better and there is no energy wasted in lust, regret, recrimination, jealousy, competitive behaviour, fear or anger.  There is neither a sense of gain, nor a sense of loss as far as relationships go because compassion overrides the great “need” that drives individuals into exclusive, controlling relationships.

Compassion demands, and feeds, self empowerment.  A crucial point.  No dependent or non self empowered person can claim to be compassionate by nature.  They may express aspects of compassion at certain critical times but much of that will wear out quickly, or wear the person down because in all cases it will be the result of some response to an emotional appeal and terribly entropic.  A compassionate being is a self empowered being for the two go hand in hand.

Compassion results in detachment, not just from special relationships but from “the world” as it is often called in spiritual circles.  Compassion makes it possible to realize the true nature of joy and sorrow.  As with so many concepts, joy and sorrow are usually misunderstood and lumped in with pleasure, fun, happiness and sadness, pain, unhappiness, grief, loss, etc.  Notice that these aspects of happy/unhappy are essentially ego-centered, i.e., selfish.  It is what one feels and gets emotional about.  Properly understood, joy and sorrow come from empathy.  Joy contains all the good being experienced by the world and conversely sorrow contains all the evil being experienced.  As explained to me, Joy and Sorrow are twins, one who walks in the light, one who walks in darkness.  They can only meet when someone provides a bridge between them and that’s what a compassionate person, or being, does.  A compassionate being is never concerned about personal joy and/or sorrow.  Taken care of.

The compassionate walk between the worlds of light and darkness and bridge the two.   That is their greatest accomplishment until they move on away from here to things of higher consciousness of which I know but an inkling and cannot authoritatively speak of.

In a nutshell then, you are who you are at this moment.  You make a decision to become a compassionate being.  Being of sound mind you choose to make that your entire life’s purpose.  Then you open yourself up completely to the “power” or “energy” your irrevocable choice brings to you.  You proceed from there.  You’re on your own for every decision you make and through every “battle” you must fight.  Then you watch yourself become a different person until hardly anyone recognizes you.  And that’s it.

“What if I enter into this thing and I fail?”  one may ask.  I don’t know, honestly.  All I can think of is this: that anyone who enters into a life choice to become compassion cannot fail unless something was held back; there was a degree of “dishonesty” when signing on that dotted line.  This thing I’m presenting here is in a sense a personal absolute.  In and never out.  If you’ve seen the movie “Men in Black” you will remember that signing on meant to become a different person and disappearing from your familiar world.  You lost your name and became a “K” or a “J” or a “D.”  This is something like that except that “you” gradually blend into “Compassion” and that is the new nature you then express to the world.  Crazy, right?

If you were offered the key to saving your world, and your people, from a terrible catastrophe they’re bringing on themselves and you were convinced this was the real thing, what would YOU do?  For me it wasn’t a difficult choice at all.

Best I can do in explaining the concept.

Eduardo Galeano, Monster Wanted (a Tomgram article)

The following is a copied article from Tomgram (see links), there being no “reblog” button on that site.  It is an introduction to a book that sounds very intriguing.  ~Sha’Tara~

Tomgram: Eduardo Galeano, Monster Wanted
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: If you’ve never read a book by Eduardo Galeano, believe me, your life has been lacking. Read his first book, read his last book, read something he wrote anyway. I offer you the Engelhardt guarantee: you won’t regret it. Start, if you wish, with his final volume, Hunter of Stories, featured in today’s post and then work your way back through a writer to remember.  Tom]

I’m 73, which means that saying goodbye for the last time is increasingly a part of my life.  Today, with the deepest regret, I’m bidding a final farewell at TomDispatch to one of the more remarkable writers I’ve known, Eduardo Galeano. I initially got involved with him in the early 1980s. I was a young editor at Pantheon Books and, on some strange impulse, decided to publish Genesis, the first volume of his Memory of Fire trilogy, based on no more than a few sample passages translated by the remarkable Cedric Belfrage. Call it intuition when it came to a book that had already been rejected by a number of U.S. publishers. (Admittedly, at the time I proudly thought of myself as the “editor of last resort” in New York publishing.) That modest decision launched me on the print journey of a lifetime.

This was back in the days many of you won’t remember when a book was translated and edited, often over long distances, without benefit of the Internet or email.  Belfrage had been exiled to Mexico during the McCarthy years, so he and I worked together in the old-fashioned way: by mail. (I wouldn’t meet him until years later: a little grey-haired gent with a cane who — I was still young enough to be staggered by the thought — had covered Hollywood for the British press in the silent film era.) It took forever to produce Genesis, though the process had a certain beauty to it. That first volume came out to modest attention and reviews, but its life and influence and that of the whole Memory of Fire trilogy would continue to grow in a way that only books could in those years and perhaps even in these. Eduardo was the most dramatic and beautiful of writers and he caught history — the history of these continents and of so many of the half-forgotten figures who struggled for what truly mattered — in a unique fashion, often in little passages of hardly a page or more. (I can still remember reading some of the more wonderful of them to my children as they were growing up.) I once wrote of him, “You somehow take our embattled world and tell its many stories in ways no one else can.” How true.

It took me years to meet Eduardo, since I travel nowhere, though he voyaged endlessly. (A friend of his once told him, “If it’s true what they say about the road being made by walking, you must be the commissioner of public works.”) Never have I met a man of more charisma who seemed less aware of it. Being with him was an experience because people regularly approached him to tell stories about their lives that were… well, there’s only one word for it: Galeano-esque. I saw it happen.

I’ve featured his work many times at this site, always with the deepest pleasure. This, I suspect, is the last time for both of us. The passages below are from his final, touching volume published by Nation Books, Hunter of Stories. And so, let me take this opportunity, one last time, to say goodbye, Eduardo, and thank you for everything, especially for the worlds you captured forever in words. Tom

A Visit to Heaven and Hell
Mapping Planet Earth
By Eduardo Galeano

[The following passages are excerpted from Hunter of Stories, the last book by Eduardo Galeano, who died in 2015.  Thanks for its use go to his literary agent, Susan Bergholz, and Nation Books, which is publishing it next week.]

Free

By day, the sun guides them. By night, the stars.

Paying no fare, they travel without passports and without forms for customs or immigration.

Birds are the only free beings in this world inhabited by prisoners. They fly from pole to pole, powered by food alone, on the route they choose and at the hour they wish, without ever asking permission of officials who believe they own the heavens.

Shipwrecked

The world is on the move.

On board are more shipwrecked souls than successful seafarers.

Thousands of desperate people die en route, before they can complete the crossing to the promised land, where even the poor are rich and everyone lives in Hollywood.

The illusions of any who manage to arrive do not last long.

Monster Wanted

Saint Columba was rowing across Loch Ness when an immense serpent with a gaping mouth attacked his boat. Saint Columba, who had no desire to be eaten, chased it off by making the sign of the cross.

Fourteen centuries later, the monster was seen again by someone living nearby, who happened to have a camera around his neck, and pictures of it and of curious footprints came out in the Glasgow and London papers.

The creature turned out to be a toy, the footprints made by baby hippopotamus feet, which are sold as ashtrays.

The revelation did nothing to discourage the tourists.

The market for fear feeds on the steady demand for monsters.

Foreigner

In a community newspaper in Barcelona’s Raval neighborhood, an anonymous hand wrote:

Your god is Jewish, your music is African, your car is Japanese, your pizza is Italian, your gas is Algerian, your coffee is Brazilian, your democracy is Greek, your numbers are Arabic, your letters are Latin.

I am your neighbor. And you call me a foreigner?

The Terrorizer

Back in the years 1975 and 1976, before and after the coup d’état that imposed the most savage of Argentina’s many military dictatorships, death threats flew fast and furious and anyone suspected of the crime of thinking simply disappeared.

Orlando Rojas, a Paraguayan exile, answered his telephone in Buenos Aires. Every day a voice repeated the same thing: “I’m calling to tell you you’re going to die.”

So you aren’t?” Orlando asked.

The terrorizer would hang up.

A Visit to Hell

Some years ago, during one of my deaths, I paid a visit to hell.

I had heard that in the underworld you can get your favorite wine and any delicacy you want, lovers for all tastes, dancing music, endless pleasure…

Once again, I was able to corroborate the fact that advertising lies. Hell promises a great life, but all I found were people waiting in line.

In that endless queue, snaking out of sight along narrow smoky passages, were women and men of all epochs, from cavemen to astronauts.

All were condemned to wait. To wait for eternity.

That’s what I discovered: hell is waiting.

Prophecies

Who was it that a century ago best described today’s global power structure?

Not a philosopher, not a sociologist, not a political scientist either.

It was a child named Little Nemo, whose adventures were published in the New York Herald way back in 1905, as drawn by Winsor McCay.

Little Nemo dreamed about the future.

In one of his most unerring dreams, he traveled to Mars.

That unfortunate planet was in the hands of a businessman who had crushed his competitors and exercised an absolute monopoly.

The Martians seemed stupid, because they said little and breathed little.

Little Nemo knew why: the boss of Mars had seized ownership of words and the air.

They were the keys to life, the sources of power.

Very Brief Synthesis of Contemporary History

For several centuries subjects have donned the garb of citizens, and monarchies have preferred to call themselves republics.

Local dictatorships, claiming to be democracies, open their doors to the steamroller of the global market. In this kingdom of the free, we are all united as one. But are we one, or are we no one? Buyers or bought? Sellers or sold? Spies or spied upon?

We live imprisoned behind invisible bars, betrayed by machines that feign obedience but spread lies with cybernetic impunity.

Machines rule in homes, factories, offices, farms, and mines, and also on city streets, where we pedestrians are but a nuisance. Machines also rule in wars, where they do as much of the killing as warriors in uniform, or more.

The Right to Plunder

In the year 2003, a veteran Iraqi journalist named Samir visited several museums in Europe.

He found marvelous texts in Babylonian, heroes and gods sculpted in the hills of Nineveh, winged lions that had flown in Assyria…

Someone approached him, offered to help: “Shall I call a doctor?”

Squatting, Samir buried his face in his hands and swallowed his tears.

He mumbled, “No, please. I’m all right.”

Later on, he explained: “It hurts to see how much they have stolen and to know how much they will steal.”

Two months later, U.S. troops launched their invasion. The National Museum in Baghdad was sacked. One hundred seventy thousand works were reported lost.

Stories Tell the Tale

I wrote Soccer in Sun and Shadow to convert the pagans. I wanted to help fans of reading lose their fear of soccer, and fans of soccer lose their fear of books. I never imagined anything else.

But according to Víctor Quintana, a congressman in Mexico, the book saved his life. In the middle of 1997, he was kidnapped by professional assassins, hired to punish him for exposing dirty deals.

They had him tied up, face down on the ground, and were kicking him to death, when there was a pause before the final bullet. The murderers got caught up in an argument about soccer. That was when Víctor, more dead than alive, put in his two cents. He began telling stories from my book, trading minutes of life for every story from those pages, the way Scheherazade traded a story for every one of her thousand-and-one nights.

Hours and stories slowly unfolded.

At last the murderers left him, tied up and trampled, but alive.

They said, “You’re a good guy,” and they took their bullets elsewhere.

***

Quite a few years ago now, during my time in exile on the coast of Catalonia, I got an encouraging nudge from a girl eight or nine years old, who, unless I’m remembering wrong, was named Soledad.

I was having a few drinks with her parents, also exiles, when she called me over and asked,

So, what do you do?”

Me? I write books.”

You write books?”

Well… yes.”

I don’t like books,” she declared.

And since she had me against the ropes, she hit me again: “Books sit still. I like songs because songs fly.”

Ever since my encounter with that angel sent by God, I have attempted to sing. It’s never worked, not even in the shower. Every time, the neighbors scream, “Get that dog to stop barking!”

***

My granddaughter Catalina was ten.

We were walking along a street in Buenos Aires when someone came up and asked me to sign a book. I can’t remember which one.

We continued on, the two of us, quietly arm in arm, until Catalina shook her head and offered this encouraging remark: “I don’t know why they make such a fuss. Not even I read you.”

Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015) was one of Latin America’s most distinguished writers.  He was the author of many books, including the three-volume Memory of Fire, Open Veins of Latin America, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, and The Book of Embraces.  Born in Montevideo in 1940, he lived in exile in Argentina and Spain for 12 years before returning to Uruguay in 1985, where he spent the rest of his life.  The passages in this post are excerpted from his final book, Hunter of Stories, translated by Mark Fried and about to be published by Nation Books.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Excerpted from Hunter of Stories. Copyright © 2017 by Eduardo Galeano. English translation copyright © 2017 by Mark Fried. Available from Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. By permission of Susan Bergholz Literary Services, Lamy, N.M., and New York City. All rights reserved.

Oh, History! My Life and my Bane!

         [a short story from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]
    Leo thought himself well read and educated.  He’d mastered history, myths and legends of Earth and at twenty three he was pondering his future.  After so many years at the University however, becoming a professor didn’t have the appeal it once had.  Travel he could afford but everything went too fast.  Here today, there tomorrow and nothing in-between.
His doorbell rang.  He ignored it and it continued until he was forced to answer.
“Yes?  Who is it?” he called through the speaker phone.
“An old friend passing through.  Have time for me?”
“Hm, and who would be this old friend, if I may ask?  I don’t open my door to strangers, especially those who claim old acquaintance.”
“I am Thero.  You know me from your lucid dreams, and visions, yes?”
Leo rubbed his forehead, then tapped his left hand on the door to ensure he was awake.
“This isn’t possible.  Thero is a figment of my imagination…”
“More than that, Leo, much more.  Will you let me in?”
Leo waited a few seconds and opened the door.  What he saw shocked him to put it mildly: it was Thero, the very same character he’d come to know in some dreams and vision, the one he credited for giving him direction on his historical research.
“Come in… um, Thero; please come in.  I apologize for my reluctance but I still can’t believe it can possibly be you.  You… you’re a dream character!”
“Yes well, you got the “character” part right anyhow.  Shake?”  He proffered his hand and Leo shook it.
“OK, fine.  I’ll allow for the moment that you look and sound like the Thero I imagined.  Do you drink?  I mean, alcohol?”
“Oh yes!  I could use a glass of Chardonnay.”
“You also knew that’s my favourite wine and I always have some in the house, right?”
“But of course.” answered Thero while Leo got the wine from the fridge and dusted two tall glasses never used since he’d moved to the tiny house which his uncle Doug rented him after Doug’s wife took him to the cleaners and left to marry her masseur.  Leo poured and filled both glasses, handing one to Thero.
“Now some serious talk.  First, how did you know about my imaginary “teacher” Thero, and what he looked like?”
“Because I am he,” said Thero matter-of-factly, and smiled broadly.
“Oh cut the crap, and cut to the chase.  I know you’re an impostor, so what do you want with me?”
“Look Leo, if you’re absolutely certain I’m an impostor, shouldn’t you be doing something like calling the police, or at the very least, throwing me out?”
“Granted, I’m ambivalent about it.  Since I see no harm in playing this game, what is it you want?”
“As Thero you accept me as a Teacher, so let’s just say I’m here to further your education on the history of your people and your planet.  Can you spare me some time to do that?”
“You know I could never resist a challenge when it comes to history…”
“Stop.  You said, and I quote: ‘You know’ implying that you believe and accept I am your ‘imaginary’ Teacher Thero, is that not so?”
Leo stopped to ponder the question for a stretched moment then shrugged.  “I’ll concede that you are Thero so we can carry on with this conversation.  Is the wine to your satisfaction, Teacher?”
“That it is.  A very good light wine.  Now then, since this isn’t being done in a dream, may I suggest you equip yourself with some sort of recording device?  Can your cell phone record our conversation?”
“I’ve got it on now.  I’m ready.”
“Good.  If you allow me leeway and don’t interrupt too much this should not take more than a few hours.  I would prefer the dream method but I wanted this on the record, so to speak.  Now then, let’s start with some remarks about the general social condition of your people.
There are things you do, as a species, that belie your claim to humanity; further, that put in question your claim to be an intelligent species.  Some, like your exploitation and wars are obvious.  Others, like your insistence on wearing clothes when they are not needed, expensive, cumbersome, ridiculous, sweaty and stinky, harbouring diseases, among other things, say much about you as a society.  Already from these few comments you should detect distrust, greed, fear, judgment and a massive dose of control over others.
“The need to control is a form of psychopathy that leads to misogyny and racism, which in turn leads to violence of the absolute worse kind.  Bottom line, despite all your glowing mission statements which you dub constitutions, you remain pathetically fearful and hate-filled and prone to commit mass murder over any imagined slight.  You exploit from raw greed and oppress in order to gain power over others.  You want to be rulers.  You want to be gods in your own right and if you cannot do it as individuals then you come together in, or form, groups which you use to force your ways upon others.  These power collectives are as old as your particular species.  They began as families, then tribes, then collections of tribes which became nations and collections of nations which became empires.
“The goal of any empire is simple enough: to have absolute control over its sphere of influence, usually the known world.  If your species was to be allowed space travel it would continue this pattern, spreading out to establish even more expansive, oppressive, war-mongering empires.  Woe to any other sentient species that found itself in the way of expanding Earthian hegemony.  Forced conquest would be endless.  Entire worlds would be destroyed.  All life encountered would automatically be deemed less than human and subject to exploitation, enslavement and/or destruction to make way for new Earthian civilizations.  Only an already established, violent and war-mongering civilization on par or militarily superior to Earthian conquerors could hope to stop the onslaught.  This would result in bringing the conflict to the Earthians’ home planet, resulting in its enslavement or complete destruction through the inevitable use of nuclear arms.
“That is how it is.  We of the galactic races know this pattern having encountered it many times and having had to either destroy them in their advances, subdue them, or civilize them and make them a part of the greater galactic family of sentients.  This is history for another time.  I don’t want to wander too far from the point of this teaching.
“My dear Leo, despite your many degrees in historical and associated knowledge, much of which is due to our subtle input, you remain abysmally ignorant about what makes your particular species act the way it does.  When you know more about us you will be able to compare and see how much of what you call your civilization is comparable to an insane asylum crammed with billions of crazies desperately feeding upon whatever the asylum is made of and on each other.  You will see that the more sociopathic of your species are those generally entrusted to rule the asylum.  Better to have a crazy ruler than none at all is how you put it and since you’re all more or less certifiable, why would you think otherwise?  You fear and hate because you distrust one-another.  You can never have true peace and safety for the same reasons.  Earth, Leo, is hell.  Now to explain.
“It isn’t just you, as a species, that makes this world a hell.  It is the forces that inhabit and control it.  One of your most “cherished” beliefs, apart from believing in your fairy-tale gods, is that your world keeps itself in balance due to an “evolved” concept called predation, or natural selection: the survival of the fittest.  You can’t even begin to imagine a world where such an insane psychopathic system could not exist.  You accept the horror and terror you observe in your “nature” to justify your own sick need to express violence against your world and the physically, militarily or financially weaker members of your own society.  You “hunt” and “fish” for pleasure; for something to brag about when it’s nothing but abysmal shame on your claim to being human and humane beings.  You go to war, commit genocide, enslave your own children, rape your own women, while comparing yourselves to the ruling members of a pride or pack of predators.  Do you not, in your killing games and violent sports extol and emulate the qualities of your greatest predators?
“Have I made a point, so far, Leo?”
“Yes Teacher, you have.  When you put it that way, it makes me feel pretty small and hopeless.”
“That was my intent.  The first thing is to crush the ego; the pride.  Now to continue.  ‘Must we’ I hear you thinking.  Yes we must.  You need to understand the why of things or you can never, ever, hope to change any of it, including and especially, yourself.
“Mythical fact: your world is a “re-manufactured” entity.  It has changed hands many times and gone through several transformations.  The biblical book of Genesis points to at least two of those transformations.  I’ll let you figure those out for yourself.  Earth’s owners, the ones you’ve called “gods,” “divinities,” “God” or “alien visitors,” have come and gone from here over the eons, most of that barely suspected even by your most astute observers.  They knew that “something happened here” but they could never know what because they lacked the broader perspective of time and space.   Currently some of your observers and more spiritual people sense that nothing is as advertised; that “something is going on here” and speculations on what that is run wild on your Internet; in your books, magazines, movies or news and entertainment media.  It’s always been that way: some always suspect but no one ever knows for a fact.  Your religious leaders and many of your scientists hate being without facts so they’ve been manufacturing their own “facts” to suit their various theories, or to establish themselves within the status quo.  This also is suspected and talked about, but again: no facts.
“How does one maintain absolute power?  By dissembling.  This is the basis for all successful political movements.  Think of this: “As below, so above.”  We use it this way to explain how to understand the political aspects of the universe.  If you observe “it” on earth, it is safe to project “it” throughout the entire universe.  It could not work “here” if it wasn’t the modus operandi every known universal “where” you can imagine.  Earth may be a hell hole but it isn’t the only one.  There are even worse ones “out there” if you can imagine.  By the same token, the good you can observe on earth, percentage-wise, is the good you could observe in the whole universe… percentage-wise.  This to force you to think universally now.  Project your mind to the ends of the universe, Leo.  Time for some serious lateral thinking.
“What I’ve been trying to point out to you is that the concept of “facts” was invented to force reasoning creatures into strict vertical thinking patterns so they would increasingly squeeze their minds into tighter and tighter areas to the point where they could no longer go out on a limb in their thinking.  They would always need data, or facts, to justify their line of inquiry.  They would learn to never trust their intuition or imagination.
“Nothing could be more deadly to the historian.  History is not based on facts but on imagination and speculation.  Ultimately what constitutes your current history is what the consensus has declared to be the truth. That consensual agreement is then taught to children trapped in “universal” education.  Call it what it is: brainwash.  The whole point is to have an entire reasoning species conditioned to accept “things as they are” and not feel the need to question it.
“Earth is one of trillions of worlds under the domination of certain forces in control of the universe.  These forces came here long before this solar system existed.  They systematically conquered and established control over most of the universe.  Wars of conquest, wins and losses, go on to this day.  Every part of the universe, every conquered galaxy exists in endless conflict.  Not all of it is military, in fact very little is.  The wars are fought in what we call the spirit realm, which extends down into the minds of sentients and their sentient worlds.  If “evil” wins then the world, or galaxy (or parts thereof) become subject to the rules of such evil.  The conquering, ruling forces are pathocratic and their subject servants (basically all of your rulers, whether you like to hear it or not) are sociopathic by conditioning.
“Now do you understand what you are up against when you study your history?  You’re up against millennia of lies and fabrications.  You’re up against endless “false flag” operations that have lead to horrors uncounted; to wars, enslavement and genocide.  The whole point isn’t to gain control of this or that part of a world: of a nation or a people.  The point is to foment violence.  Any method is good but the one that creates the most pain and horror is always the best.  I can assert that in your pre-historical (or pre-hysterical) past your world knew nothing of predation.  In those times it was ruled by a benevolent, subsequently demonized, female entity called “Lucifer” – she who rebelled against the evil of those “Lords” who conquered her worlds and enslaved her and her people.  The one who was “cast to the earth” along with a third of the contingent of “angels” or servants of the “Lords” who had learned from her and fallen in love with her people.  Of course the story of Lucifer had to be recast to make the “god” look good and her the demonic rebel.  So it was, so it is, so it will be, Leo, until some greater force can destroy the hegemony of those who call themselves the “Time Lords.”
“I’ve heard you speak of these “Time Lords” before but my mind refuses to accept that such a system exists; that such evil entities conquered and control most of the universe.  It makes no sense to me.  Why, if they are so powerful, do they hide themselves in the so-called spirit realm?  Why can’t they be seen?”
“You’ve studied the myths, yet you ask such childish questions, Leo?  Really!  Think laterally, I tell you.  Free your mind, Leo.  Imagine encountering an actual Time Lord or a close minion while you are in the flesh.  Imagine looking one in the eyes.  Do you see what would happen?”
“Thinking freely here… I would go blind.  My flesh would burn up and my body shrivel and become ash.”
“Exactly.  ‘No one can see God and live’ remember that?  The Bible is more than myth.  It isn’t fact but it is history.”
“What must I do now then?  Go teach lies to make a living?  Quit all of it and… what?”
“It’s all lies Leo.  You can only teach lies.  You can only know lies.  There are good lies and bad lies.  Go teach the good ones and continue to search for “the truth” and eventually it will begin to reveal itself to you like a lover unveiling and disrobing herself for you.  When that happens though, you will no longer be able to teach but you won’t care, you’ll have a treasure of greater value than anything the earth or its history can give you.”
“Is “the truth” then that greater power that can defeat the Time Lords, Teacher?”
Thero smiled and replied:  “I sense that I haven’t wasted my time with you Leo.  Keep thinking.  Keep imagining.  Keep living.”  Thero got up and turned towards the exit.  Leo, seeing his time was up, got up from his chair also and escorted the Teacher to the door.
“See you again, Thero?”
The Teacher turned,  smiled broadly and replied enigmayically: “Perhaps.”  Then he was gone.
Leo woke up with a start when the door bell rang.  As he got up to answer he noticed his phone was set to “Record.”


“For our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians 6:12, the Bible, New Testament)