Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

A Writing Life, or Mary and the Chimeras

I.
 
Anyone want to tell us
what Danse Russe means in English?
!Russian dance!
Someone else. . .
But, I just said it: Russian dance. . . .
Someone, anyone?
But I already said it, H.K.!
He already said it!! the chorus of co-
eds chanted in unison
 
 
They never answer.
They don’t know anything.
They don’t want to know anything.
They haven’t any interest.
And what precisely is your interest in poetry, Mr. Regent?
You want that I should just sit there
and say nothing—in that palpitating
verbal impotence?—They know nothing, Henry!
They don’t even read! This land
was made for you and me, H.K.
This is Poetry!
 
 
About your interest? What—?
—It is to tell the world. . .Yes?
. . . why poets are so discontented.
Poets? Or you, Regent?
They—we—are the same, H.K.
 
 
How will you earn a living then? Teach?
Oh, no, sir. I can’t speak in front of people.
That’s a big window you have, H.K. I thought
I’d just write poetry.
I see. Well. Yes. I see. Here’s, here’s
a program I created, then; it might help.
A floppy disk?
Prosody. That’s the nuts and bolts of poetry.
I don’t have a computer, Henry. We’ve never
had one in the house.
The AV lab here at the college has several.
I don’t know how.
Ask.
 

 
 
Regent’s Poem
 
My study is annihilating sense;
all those words I excavated
poring over lexicons,
the practice of memorization. . .
The facts are jumbles, my faults bespoken.
I precede myself everywhere I go
and follow in my own wake.
 
I mistake for praise the patronage
people slide me under the table;
cajoling, humoring me, as they will a child—tired
of his anxieties—a drunk cousin or a dog;
coaxing them to go on doing something, anything,
to keep out from under their feet.
 
I’m cagey.
My grammar goes off half-cocked,
hackneyed, difficult to follow,
a polished pig it were better to let wallow.
My mind and emotions do well
to wear a coat of mud
to keep off the horseflies,
worry and regret.
 
My poem. Uh.
It pretends to be classical; it
is as my day-to-day sentiments,
confused, indifferent, baffled,
going first this way, then that;
unable to decide anything;
unlettered, but prepared
to dive in deep anyway,
with what varieties of style
it memorized last night,
and to interpose a dream when
needed to interrupt the tedium. . .

 
 
II.
 
out on the lawn
keen interest felt
keen interest shown
she knelt near and questioned
she knelt close and inquired
she modulated her timbres to fit her desires
he got nervous and smiled
he plucked an ant from the bark
of a giant oak
and swallowed,
but his acquaintance,
who lamented how into him
she had been,
were not astonished, well
it was finished then
 
 
 

  
Thoughts from the Grail Castle
 
I failed. The grail is still out there somewhere.
But I am not
the man I think I am. To journey
a thousand days, no more than forty-some summers pass,
it all passes like a dream.
I seem to have forgotten.
The guerdon I seek did not fall
through a hole into a chasm
or get stuck in a deep seam
between two lives
 
On the sea it is with me on land
it is under my feet
in the air I breathe between
the infinitesimal combustible bits
of fiery atoms of matter
and between the smaller parts of these
 
The salamander stuff you attend
has its elliptical function in the scheme
as one does, dear flower, but never
the self one may think of. A token of affection,
or more often an imprint of shame . . . .
Out of the sky, in the land, over seas come rains
and make one forget.


III.

After that semester, during which he’d stopped attending lectures, after the summer beach trip, before fall registration at the new northern university—he still had a girlfriend then—he had transferred already, and she followed; which is the actual tragedy of his career as a poet and a man—he wrote a letter to the dean of the department, who had preferred him as the recipient of a small but prestigious award of several thousand dollars for the next year, and explained that all was changed; nothing could ever be the same: He’d seen a thing he had not imagined possible in a mirror in a hotel room in the middle of the night during a violent rainstorm, after first hearing the knocking on the door and the turning of a lock, and he was frightened. He had prayed the Hail Mary—he did not even know what it was or that it was Catholic—he had read a fragment in a poem—and hid his head under the sheet and intoned until sleep came and the chimeras or whatever they were had gone; and now he did not know where he was or where going, but things would never be like before. He hoped the dean would understand; he must try his best to explain.

He wished the dean was not still upset with him: It was just something he’d had to do—changing schools. His dad wouldn’t pay anymore. He had taken tuition loans and loans for books and board and bed, but declined every penny over needs. He hoped that deed would atone some day, despite what people might say. It saved his property (and his face in his head)—until he drank it away—but made him no more respectable in the end; but by then he’d forgotten everything anyway.

The day he’d hailed her name, Mary got his ass out of stir, but he never summoned her again with the silver ray of prayer.

Self-portrait
 
I knew him . . . He should have been a success. . . .
As Marlon Brando put it to Rod Steiger in the cab
in On the Waterfront, I coulda been a contender.
He coulda been one too. I mean to say he might have
been somebody. A terrible thing to say. Obviously!
You know, he spent all his time and energy blaming
somebody; or trying to get their sympathy.
He couldn't live his life like that. You might call
him a liar (sometimes he well knew it).
He told tales out of school as they used to put it.
Today they would say he talked alotta shit.
His life was forfeit. He thought of nothing but this,
the failings of others, another way of saying
he was selfish; he thought of nobody else.
Except, as I said, as a reflection . . .
 
He had a striking picture collection:
all of him. And he wrote some wonderful poems,
about him and his problems. The last thing he sent
was a photo attachment in an email:
it was no doubt he, naked, across the room, in a fractured
mirror, in some cheap hotel, a silhouette
of him anyway, but with no details.
 
 
 

 
IV.
 
he fought his critics, who were his family
he had no other, save
his friends; all complained
of his lack of empathy,
why should he write about anyone
else when his own life was so
richly and strangely tragic?
twenty-five years later he still
did not know whence had sprung
his interest in writing poems,
and had no ideas about poetry.
He did not know what poetry
was, or if it was even a thing;
he suspected his impetus
was something to do
with its being less work
than writing movies—
or doing anything else. He cultivated
an unaccountable relish
for the composition of critical texts
concerning religious culture
and the Church of England.
 
he never married
never held a job
almost died of drink
and suicide,
added drugs to spice his drink,
drink alone wasn’t enough he felt,
his guts hurt and
he but rarely cried;
it’s the price you pay for the writer’s life:
martyrdom, impecuniousness, more bypassed
than accepted chances, miracles of ruin!
although, he was not so dumb
as to believe his lies, he just
wouldn’t believe nothing but,
he was a wretch
and mean withal
and not even the poet he wanted,
though that’s all, if anything:
nothing fruited; once,
he had been visited
by something in the dark,
the Anti-muse he supposed it was,
and was thenceforth a haunted man,
himself a very ghost,
condemned,
his ruin—his vocation;
he never wrote better again
than his first attempts at style,
and after a while
stopped expecting
anything on account, left off
expecting poetry to pan out
or anything at all
 
 
 

  
Write Life
 
I have been tempted
to experiment with art,
to commit vain repetitions,
as I were an avant gardist
loosely writing vers libre
in the heyday in Montparnasse
when there were new things to say
and new ways to say them;
 
before the swarms dispersed
to the monasteries of higher learning
to buy and sell MFAs,
loath to suffer the demands
of an itinerant muse, —this too an avid wish!
vanity swings both ways, —to roll dice
for an art unlikely to pay,
or for their souls, neither hot
nor cold; instead sitting chairs
on select committees and editing reviews;
for the artist’s life is impossibly lonely. 

that is called writing the ending before the end. . . .
 
 
 

 
V.
 
Otherwise, he reads in darkened rooms,
watches TV and YouTube like me and you
feeds the cats when they mew outside
and waits the day of discovery
the reckoning of the jury
wondered who had died and when but
did not ask why
and didn’t care,
and was over fond of twilight and violet
and Live P.D. and feared cancer and drank cheap beer
and ate avocados and endives with baba ganouj
and salmon and capers non pareil
and felt revolted at the thought of blood
 
he brushed his teeth in the shower
and looked at flowers in guides
and went birding on a live stream
of Cornell Ornithology Lab feeders online
and avoided contact with people
who criticized him in his head
for his being generally down in the mouth
for his being from the accursed South
and envied and hated the idea of North
which was a special place, affluent, gorgeous,
big with affluence and readers galore, and
which spawned poets like mushroom spores,
there where everything that is has more worth
than anything below Fairfax county above the gulf.
 
 
 
 
—A fragment from Regent’s Diary
 
 
life without God is incomprehensible
and God is incomprehensible
 
we’re going to kill each other
and mother earth will be safe from us;
we will have done what must be done,
programmed to self-destruct
through our own mechanism
 
Poets should not have thick necks. OR if he must read from the podium
he should rather stand on a level with his audience.
It’s not a pain in the neck,
it’s not philosophy, it’s common sense to exhibit oneself
from the most complimentary vantage

Advertisement

A Way of Fiction

Until last year, I had never had the courage to attempt writing stories; the form, the economy of the short story scared me off. Then at age 35 I said, Here goes nothing. I had thought that I could write a novel before I knew that I could write a story—a sprawling thing with no boundaries; that kind of writing might be easy, I liked to think. Yet, it’s not. No kind of writing that is good writing is easy, or rather, the writing may be easy, but refining the product to something good is excruciatingly difficult. I didn’t realize then that even the most unruly-looking beast has been tutored to bear himself in some accustomed or domesticated way, for the sake of an audience; even if only for the writer himself when he sits to proofread his beast for the last time, to make some sense out of the chaos of his materials.

In my surly (gloomy) youth, I could not really see much difference in works. Be it Poe or Whitman, or Stephen King, I’d have it all served on one dish, scrambled together, and swallowed whole. Youth can digest both trash and treasure. I loved simply, like a child, indifferent to the differences; and I’m glad, because I grew unconsciously, nourished on the best nature could offer. All the while something involuntary was happening to me, for I had abandoned myself to the process of learning; I was following a thread from one station to the next.

Before trying my axe on stories though, I felled countless spiral notebooks plethoric with observations, sketches, and inhumane self-analyses. These were not fruiting trees, but tough little scrubs strangled by thick thorny vines that could stand a lot of hacking. However, it was honest and sincere work, often taking me beyond the light of day and into moonless nights, lost and lonely, deep in foreign, even alien, forests. This compulsory wayfaring toughened me. It made me realize how important is a sharp axe, and how essential endurance is; and how much more important is the native impulse that makes the tree to grow than the particular hat the forester is wearing. That, if he’ll follow the original impulse, and not defer to another master, but serve only the Original, that all must be well; eventually, one will be led again to light. For ‘light answers to light,’ as T.S. Eliot wrote,—that keeper of the Sacred Wood. All of that early timber went into municipal dumpsters; some scrap I kept for tinder when I should have chopped it to stove length and used it to keep warm. But that is over; Thank God that is over.

Between here and Europe and Japan, Maine and Iowa and Boone, NC, I was careful always to have about me somewhere a slim sheaf of my poems, which had accumulated by the time I was twenty-eight years old, to something like three dozen. There are not many more than that, though many more versions have come and gone by the wayside through periodic cycles of versifying and purging.

It was almost two years ago, with a wounded wing, (I had been in a car wreck.) that I wrote a half-dozen 2000-5000 word stories very quickly, in about six weeks, in even less time than that; while during the same time I began a few longer pieces, the longest of which, (and the most unruly), I worked on for about six months. That uncultivated brute of a story professed to need over 100 pages to work in comfortably, but I forced it to work in a space about 12 pages long. It gets much more work done now and doesn’t nag me so much. I sent them all out—eight to ten stories and two dozen poems—expecting results (spring ’10). The results I got weren’t the results I wanted or expected. But I wasn’t disheartened by a few dozens of rejection notices. I wrote, and wrote with more gusto, with increasing passion, taking immense pains and receiving immense pleasures, even imperiling my health at times by foregoing sleep. My passion for writing grew daily. If only one’s craft could burgeon at the pace of passion! Regrettably, my patience and temperance crawl along as slowly as my craft. I’m constantly sleep deprived, feasting from a coffee mug like a hummingbird from his nacreous bell of nectar.

I lament my time spent reading lately lost, traded for writing time; for the more I write the less I read, some days reading no more than a single story. There was an eight-day week a couple months ago (summer of 2011) during which I read two novels by Faulkner, 100 pages of Anna Karenina, and King, Queen, Knave by Nabokov. It’s because I get ideas and I have to try them out as soon as possible, or…. Well, I’m still impulsive. I’m thinking about trying to curb that. I have always liked to read—been addicted to reading, but I had never before read so much as since I decided to start writing in earnest. Lately it has seemed like writing myself out of one job I love for another I love equally well; or like giving up one tough drug for another tougher drug. I never want to be broken of this habit of reading. Writing is still so new; it’s impossible to see where it is leading, but reading is like a comfortable, old leather couch, cracked and creaky, and which responds to one’s body as a lover. I’ll never leave her.

I have always read pretty much what I most enjoy reading. My college education was spotty because I read what I wanted instead of what was assigned. Even now, I probably re-read more of my favorites than I read new material. I am leery of deviating from Faulkner’s injunction to novice writers when he said to avoid reading your contemporaries. Sometimes, I think that I should convert to reading only the Bible, the Upanishads, some Japanese zen texts, and a very few indisputably great dramatists, novelists, and poets. Look what ambition devoid of passion has done to the ‘literature’ of the present day. Creative Writing doctrine is principally inverse to what Faulkner said, though it is hard to think of another writer with more ambition than Faulkner had. Either one’s ambition serves his vision or one’s vision remains subservient to ambition. For Faulkner, the former prevailed. Although I have read that he said, Nix to your contemporaries, some other time he is claimed to have said to read everything, including trash. How human all too human of him. They are the ones who contradict themselves continuously that I love best. I feel right at home among them.

Each story is a difficult birth, probably even for the best writers; certainly for most writers, and especially for the greatest ones: Poe, Maupassant, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Jack London, Kafka, Isak Dinesen, Nabokov, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver etc. If writing came easy to some of these, look what a struggle life was for most of them; there must be a compensation somewhere, in heaven perhaps. Generally, the greatest writers are the ones who have the most natural ability. One can see and feel that even in their earliest attempts to seize the fleeting, there is an ability to tell much of what is essential and in the right order, so that maximum effect is realized; and also there is poetry in their construction, their way of doing it. (Various fairy tales, those of the Grimm brothers, those of Oscar Wilde for instance, come to mind. It is difficult to argue against the fabulous transportive nature of such works, regardless of one’s personal preferences concerning style; most of us simply react emotionally, thus we move closer or are repulsed).

The great writer notices things; he records what is ‘rich and strange’ in life, and tells it so that we may participate in every wonder and mystery; moreover, every stultifying mundanity or boring and torturous chore (Ivan Denisovich) becomes new and intensely interesting—heartbreaking or heroic—in the good writer’s method and tone of expression. A single paragraph ripped from a novel by Dickens must have its own room in our libraries, which are filled with mucilage. Nor am I of the belief that we must eat double portions of fiber so that we may better enjoy what’s richest; sense can handle what would eventually give the stomach an ulcer and the intestine diverticulitis. But the mind and heart travel lightest on what has wings and is best in every respect. That doesn’t mean for you to go out and eat lightning bugs; some of them might be poisonous.

I have just finished reading The Captain’s Daughter by Pushkin, who was approximately the age I am now when it was written; a little older perhaps but much more experienced, as by cultural, social, and technological necessity, were most men and women in 1836 when the story was published. I’ve just called Pushkin’s creation a story, but were I to have written such a volume of pages, I would not call it a story but a novel, (or more simply still, a romance). I don’t know how many words the thing is and I don’t care. It is a high adventure full of danger and romance and noble characters and ignoble characters. It is a story within a story, narrated by the man whose life it chronicles from youth to marriage, and which chronicle is in turn narrated by “The Editor”, who must be Pushkin, or such a one who has privy knowledge of his subject: he who claims to have received the original memoir into his care and keeping by a descendant of the protagonist, the nobleman of the tale. He is one whom destiny delivers into the hands of a number of characters, again in their turns noble and ignoble. Of himself, he has little power, (the half-hero of the tale), to alter his circumstances without the care, guidance, and usually intervention of simpler people whose love and prudence protect him from himself as he muddles through. Howsoever nobly, he almost makes a mess of things, a permanent mess, for he is accused of treason and sent, (though the story doesn’t follow him there; maybe he didn’t make it so far the lucky dog) into Siberia, as an exile from all that he holds dear. He has faithfully served his company and his Empire’s vetted interests as well as his own; yet because of his recklessness, or it might simply be called his instinct of self-preservation in conjunction with destiny, he finds himself associated with a band of hoodlums who’ve laid siege to much of the region and wage a fatal campaign against Moscow. The protagonist is a gambler with life, but an honest and valorous gambler, never wavering in his deference and service to his martial superiors, and never deigning to skirt punishment by strategy and deceit. He takes his knocks when they come, nor is he willing to buy freedom by imperiling the honor of his beloved, his betrothed; though she might have cleared his name much earlier. Commandant Mironov’s orphaned daughter, (the true hero of the adventure and winner of life) through a few words of explanation and her simple, blind appeal to the Empress for pardon of him, her betrothed, does eventually clear his name, thereby also earning her dowry and ensuring their future together as promised by the Empress herself. His salvation and her own, (for they are one) is won by her courage and prudence, and by the loyalty and support of their body-servants. He is as helpless as a baby until she intervenes: however, he never compromises her. She is willing to put herself in danger to help him; he would not require it of her. And this winning way of hers ensures her good graces with the parents of the youth who had formerly forbade him to marry one so young and dowry-less. Love and selfless action win through, where guile would come to ruin. The young couple are married, in time, and carry on the line of noble (spiritual and physical) ancestry; and the rest is history; and history is of the utmost importance in Pushkin. We have lost all but a data memory of this noble history, all but the most recent history, and of a tabloid sort at that. It is only the good story that can put it back where it belongs. Good story is story in touch with truth. Truth is what is good, and nothing but what is good. Not most good, but absolutely good. For the good has no graduation of shades being its own source of light. And all light and truth emanates from that good source. Though here Pushkin’s tale ends, he must let us know that just as there was life before this slice of it represented by the actual words of the undertaker of the action, so there shall also be life afterward, and a life in relation to all other events underway; only in that way (with comprehension of the whole movement) should life be fitted into a history; and that this simple, unadorned presentation of ‘fact’ is the way of the story, is history. Of course, there is much art in the presentation of ‘fact’.

In a categorical way, and in a general way, storytelling’s values I list in this sequential relation; (in importance as motivation for beginning to write a story) — Of least importance are themes and ideas; next, developing a new style; then, characterization; and of primary importance, history, or context, situation and circumstance. In other words, place in time, which must not be an overt and imposing distraction, lest it become an object rather than a medium. The harmonization of all of these elements would make of the story a work of art. Of course in terms of difficulty, making real, believable characters in believable relation to each other is by far the most difficult thing. To do so, a sense of place must first exist. How to do that in the context of a society which has no culture any longer? People cannot exist in emptiness. The failure of so called ‘existential’ writing is its tracery of shades of people—ideologues, demagogues, caricatures, politicians—instead of the introduction of flesh-and-blood-and-spirit people: the total, untidy, package of human life—people who cast a shadow but who are not themselves shadows but living flesh with some degree of percipience, even if only a rudimentary consciousness or a shattered or compromised consciousness; but there is a narrator who may speak for their missing conception of themselves (as in The Sound and the Fury). A writer who designs a character who might not or cannot know him-or her-self, by making the other characters define his or her character by those other characters’ conventions of perception, not only shapes the nonentity into being but also renders more visible all the other characters who would define the deficient entity by their honest prejudices, desires, presuppositions and other characteristics. A character is well rendered by his or her presuppositions and prejudices, observations and failures. Thus a character may come alive when he or she is known, through other characters’ interactions with him or her, by what he is not. This is the practice of the via negativa for the writer of fiction.

The hardest thing about writing is for the writer to go far enough inward that he or she outstrips his or her personal ego without losing sense of a personality to whom others may relate, and to develop characters whom the writer himself can perform through, or they through the medium he or she has become; also, without describing only himself or herself, story after story. The great writer is truly inventive, and not reiterative. Though the themes by nature remain the same, the presentation must be fresh. “Beloved gaze in thine own heart”rather than in the “bitter glass,” Yeats wrote in The Two Trees. In the glass, one may see only the twisted (not the true) reflection of himself, his many disguises, and yet it is always the same man underneath; while the heart tirelessly recreates the new man. It is the new man who must be shown to exist through his myriad transformations. Then all may look on and wonder, as the wanderer along the beach never tires of watching the endless procession of waves, the continuous evolution of stars …

This essay originally appeared on the website Gutterbravado.com

Smart Dust or The Futility of Information

My dears, there’s no substitute for instinct. And it is by instinct alone, or perhaps by intuition and the guidance of a greater self than me, which led me on my expedition. What did I expect to find among the dunes of that remote desert? What I found is what I had determined to find, what I had been given to prognosticate. 

While sitting with a friend under a heavy influence of youthful insight (this was half a lifetime ago, the evening of which I now speak), and a strong natural hallucinogen, and in the light of recent revelations, revelations the nature of which I could not have then guessed but whose natures I had been suspicious of, the allusions to which in poetry, astronomy, physics and mathematics had caused in me sudden unforeseen upheavals of unsurpassing strangeness and seeming irrelevance to the material which elicited the response, which led to paroxysms of tears or to suffusions throughout my body of stimulating vibrations with which any sensitive appreciator of great or not-so-great art will be familiar, I made my discovery during our dialogue, as much his product as mine; but he is gone. 

How else could I have found the incised grain but by providence and its invisible guidance? It must see through my eyes to have gone forthwith straight to the infinitesimal object, the germinant of future informational knowledge which I now present to you (but it is yours already), perhaps the dragon’s tooth of yesterday’s Armageddon or tomorrow’s civilizations’ Earliest Ancestor, perhaps their salvation! if we today have learned enough of humility to proceed cautiously and with care—with love. 

Shall we reconstruct the past in this gruesome wilderness of death? This is a question I asked myself daily during the decades of my thirties and forties. How long will we have to cultivate and clean this land until it is ready to receive the seed? Not surprisingly to the adept, the initiated—and who, among us, isn’t initiated at this eleventh hour of life?—it was at Las Vega, at Luxor, where lived the great kings of the past, among the rendered wreckage, that I located the mustard seed of wisdom that the victims of sin in a past aion had dropped in the rush to survive immolation, to survive at what cost to the future!, to languish quite literally in the sands of time. 

What else did I have to devote my life to? Nothing else. Not to the futile, or what had seemed the futile task of purifying the soil. For what? For whom? Why should we go on, I asked, replicating ourselves? So that our children should suffer all the diseases of smoke and soot, of the respiration of toxic miasmas, the decomposition of … of a legacy of pollution, of radiation poisoning and the thousands of new diseases that human beings had become susceptible to on a planet without other living creatures save the few insects and bacteria that apparently, like us, can live through anything? Why should we not then regard ourselves even as insects or some bacterium upon the face of the globe? We are comparatively no greater, no more real, nothing if not more destructive and certainly infinitesimally as insignificant in size if not in consequence compared again to the so-called simpler organisms which have survived our self-generated holocaust….  

So I found the grain of incised dust containing all the technical knowledge, all the history, all the science of physics, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, poetry, philosophy of all the civilizations leading up to the cataclysm that brought an end to the structures that made such as the last civilization sustainable up to a final, fated point. What little electrical gridwork now exists won’t provide the necessary power to realize my dream. I vouchsafe this human technological genome, to the future youth and genii of this my alliance, to the League of the Intelligible Sphere and Universal Justice. By faith alone shall we endure. All is not lost. Though blind again, or still blind as some declare, we shall yet prevail, in the sense that we shall flourish, over the whole earth and not be forced to congregate in our mean little enclaves, though they be necessary yet. Only, this time we shall proceed with love to steward our heritage and the heritage of the earth. 

With the information herein we can reconstruct in a short time what was and surpass it soon. What God’s commandments can stop us now? Had not our catastrophe proven once and for all time that no God exists to save us, who is not also within us, to guide us in a circle of aions back to ourselves? There is this one lesson, but it is essential that we practice its results: We had not learned enough of humility yet to forestall our doom, but life being eternal another chance has opened before us. 

It is here in this seed which I now—having returned from the burning sands of a terrible era of folly (though earth’s beauty was present even there amid the burning sands), culled from amid a bed of rubble, what must have been mighty architectural wonders some tens of thousands of years ago—impart to all. What looks to be a grain of sand it is not that. It is a human artifact. All that God did not make on earth and which was our portion of creation is written herein and upon. Itself is that information of the knowledge of all human history on planet earth. Now it is ours again for the future prosperity of what before we could not quite love which hate won for redundancy. But let us not regress to superstition; after all, entropy is a natural law and there is no shame in facts. We have had time to cultivate our hearts and make them ready, sufficiently unified, to receive the knowledge that the heads without hearts had found too tempting to ambitions gone wild and so had not exercised wisdom and restraint, where prudence had not been allowed to go before desire. Destroyed by desire our ancestors yet left us this priceless gift; no less priceless than their information is the understanding that too extravagant desire untempered by humility and prudence, wisdom and love, can only lead to self-annihilation. Let us now retire to the hearth room to enjoy our tea and commune with each other in peace and consider all that this moment has meant to us or shall. Thank you my dear friends for allowing me to serve you, our children and our grandchildren for so many generations as we are given to continue to learn the lessons of magnanimity and unity even as our universe is so unified. Thank you. Go, enjoy!