Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Path to Pulau Buah (In Memory of Bidar Chik, Batin of Pertak)

Bidar Chik, Batin (headman) of Pertak, breathed his last on 6 June 2014 around 10:30 a.m. I dedicate this chapter from TANAH TUJUH ~ Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos to his fond memory.

Bidar Chik was appointed Batin of Kampung Pertak in 1994, the year I took up residence 
in the High Hut. Initially we had our differences - when he allowed loggers into the area - 
but we became close allies during the campaign against the Selangor Dam a few years later. 
My parting gift to him was this garland.


PULAU BUAH, the Isle of Fruits, is the Temuan paradise, the Garden of Eden we knew as Home before the... what? The Fall? The Great Flood? Even Seri Pagi wasn't too sure what terrible crime we had committed as a species to have warranted banishment from Pulau Buah. Surely the gods would not introduce sexual reproduction to the human race only to punish us for it? (No one seemed to have given this any thought. Indah merely told me the tale she probably heard when her first period arrived: the one about Tuhan finding menstrual stains on the Stairway to Heaven and deciding to seal it forever to humanity.)
    
“Sometimes we can still visit Pulau Buah,” Seri Pagi said, “but only in dreams, or if we're very ill and in a sort of coma. In the old days, we had dukun (shamans) who were powerful enough, and pure enough, to travel there without losing their physical connection to the Earth. Nowadays, we only tell stories about Pulau Buah.”
   
Mak Minah said her great-grandmother used to travel to Pulau Buah in her dreams. “She told us there was a great tree in a beautiful clearing by a crystalline stream. The tree was laden with ripe rambutans (a hairy-skinned, succulent, juicy fruit) - only these were no ordinary rambutans, they were enormous! And best of all, she could reach up and pluck a fruit from the lowest branch without any effort. The spirit of the tree told her not to throw away the peel after she had eaten the fruit. Instead, she had to carefully place the peel on the ground below the branch where the fruit had been growing. One fruit was enough to satisfy her, it was so large and so delicious. The next time she returned to the spot, the same fruit was back on the branch, ready to be plucked and eaten!”
    
Nadi Empok & his wife Lumoh in 1994
Penengah admitted that he had tried to visit Pulau Buah in his youth, and failed. “Before you can proceed, you must go to the foot of Gunung Raja and wait for an invitation. If the guardian favors you, you will somehow find yourself going up the mountain. I've heard the old folks telling of signs and special spirit guides that can show you the path to Pulau Buah, which is not in this world. I didn't even get beyond the foot of Gunung Raja. If the guardian doesn't want you to enter the sacred realm, the mountain itself will move away, so that you find yourself somewhere else. 

Well, that's what happened. I was there with a few friends. We were certain it was Gunung Raja. Then there was heavy rain and strong winds and strange sounds that really frightened us. Of course, it could have been a tiger or leopard, but even if it was, you can bet it was no ordinary tiger or leopard. When the weather cleared, we realized we were nowhere near Gunung Raja. We turned around and somehow found our way back to the village. We were glad to be alive.”
    
Nadi Pak Empok may have been on that expedition. Or he may have made a separate attempt to scale Gunung Raja. He spoke reverently about the very special atmosphere that pervades the Royal Mountain, even around its base. The beautiful birds and plants he saw along the way, the mysterious cries of unknown creatures. “We heard the musical voices of maidens calling to us. It was hard not to obey their call, it was so seductive. But one of the group suddenly told us to flee for our lives, and we did. I don't know what would have become of us if we had tried to find the source of those haunting cries.”
    
Utat Merkol a year before he left for
Pulau Buah in 2007
Soon after the Selangor Dam project was announced, I found Utat lying feverish on a mat in Indah’s house. “I dreamt about Pulau Buah,” he whispered. “I was there, at the peak of Gunung Raja, and I saw Mamak and Inak Bongsu.” I was all ears. Anoora’s uncle Utat rarely discussed his dreams, being an exceptionally private and shy man, but he revealed that he had twice been summoned to the Sacred Mountain by the Temuan’s tutelary gods - a signal honor for any Temuan.
    
“How did they appear to you, what did they look like?” I prompted Utat.
    
“They were absolutely splendid, more beautiful and much, much grander than kings and queens. They looked human, but in a more luminous, far nobler form.” (Lothlorien and the High Elves immediately came to my mind.)
    
“What did Mamak and Inak Bongsu have to say to you?”
    
Utat was silent for a moment. “They said they were very concerned about the destruction that is about to take place. The dam. It makes them angry and they want me to warn people that this desecration is loathsome to them. They have the capacity to destroy the dam, but they do not wish to harm anybody.”
    
“Well, are you going to tell the rest of the tribe?”
    
Utat shrugged and was silent. “People won’t believe me,” he finally said.
  
“WHEN SOMEONE DIES,” Penengah said, “their soul wanders around familiar places for a while before a longing to go home takes them towards Gunung Raja. After a while, they will find themselves at a fork in the trail. One path leads to Pulau Buah; the other... well, the other leads nowhere.”
    
How does one identify the correct path?
    
Penengah seemed reluctant to reveal the signs that would indicate the correct path. Then a gleam appeared in his eye and he whispered: “We don't usually talk about this, but I think you will understand why. For years people have tried to sway us from our beliefs. They wanted us to convert to Islam or Christianity or whatever. But our ancestors warned us about this. They told us there is a black dog guarding the path to Pulau Buah. If the soul is destined for Pulau Buah, the dog wags its tail and shows the way. But if the dog growls, it means the soul has accumulated too much sin (dosa).    
    
What happens if someone takes the wrong path?  
    
“They find the path easy going at first, very well maintained and attractive to behold. But at the end of the trail, they find themselves on an illusory bridge that goes nowhere.”
    
Can you describe what happens to someone who tries to cross the bridge?
   
“Well, they drop into a pit when the bridge collapses. A pit full of rats and cockroaches, creatures of the dark that devour anything that falls in.”
    
Sounds like hell to me. Is this the influence of Muslim and Christian eschatology on the Temuan belief system? Or is the Heaven-Earth-Hell configuration a common denominator of all human cosmogony?

Bidar (left) officiating at the engagement ceremony of Anoora's pretty niece Halus in 2010

ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM BIDAR CHIK (BATIN OF PERTAK) TO ABDULLAH AHMAD BADAWI (5TH PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA)

Batin Bidar Chik
No. 1 Kg Pertak
Batu 8, Jalan Gap
44000 Kuala Kubu Baru
Ulu Selangor

13 April 2004
Y.A.B. Perdana Menteri Malaysia
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Malaysia
Putrajaya 62502

Sir:

Why do so many Orang Asli lack motivation?  Because we feel homeless in our own homeland.

1. We congratulate and welcome you as our new prime minister.  It is our hope that with a fresh beginning, a new era of justice and wise governance will dawn.  I am only the humble headman of a small village of Orang Asli from the Temuan tribe in Ulu Selangor, voicing my thoughts and feelings.  But I have faith that my voice will be heard by the Honourable Prime Minister.

2. The beauty of the Pertak Forest Reserve where our small village of 43 houses is located has attracted many visitors from far and near.  Now that the Selangor Dam is complete, even more people are coming here to fish from the artificial lake.  We are glad that people appreciate the beauty of our ancestral homeground, birthplace of the Temuan tribe, indeed, our “pusat negri.”

The High Hut at Lata Puntung where I lived from April 1994 till October 1999

3. When we were resettled by the dam project, the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA) assured us that each family would be issued an individual grant for our new houses, along with some dusun land.  However, nothing was said about the 400 acres approved for gazetting in 1965 as Orang Asli Reserve Land.  After 39 years, the status of this land remains uncertain.  We would like this matter clarified in writing.

4. In February 2004, we were informed that our new houses stand on State land for which we have been granted a 99-year lease.  We received a letter from the Land Office asking us to pay an assessment of RM540 by 11 May, 2004, or our land and houses will be forfeit.

5. There are few families in Kg Pertak that can afford to pay this amount in three months, or even six.  I cannot imagine what will happen to my sister-in-law, a widow who receives a monthly cash subsidy of RM70 from the Welfare Department.  How will she pay the assessment? 

6. The JHEOA told us not to worry about it.  They said Splash Sdn Bhd, the dam operator, has offered to pay on our behalf.  As nothing is in writing we have only their verbal promise.  Nearly a year ago the JHEOA organised a 3-day workshop on Fraser’s Hill for a group of villagers.  Each participant will receive RM50, they said.  Those who went are still waiting to be paid.

Bidar Chik came into his own as tribal chief 
during the 1999 campaign against the Selangor Dam 
7. Our ancestors have dwelt here from the dawn of time.  Nobody knows how long the Temuan have been here, but it is safe to say we have been here for a thousand generations.  Now we are told the land is on a 99-year lease, and we must pay an annual rent to live here.  When my great-granddaughter’s children reach a ripe old age, the lease will expire, and the tribe’s future will be decided by the Land Office.  If they choose not to extend the lease, our community will die out, for the life and identity of the Orang Asli are tied to our ancestral lands.

8. The Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli has existed for 50 years since the Emergency.  Their duty is to look after Orang Asli interests, not to belittle us.  To be honest, we Orang Asli do not have much trust in the JHEOA.  They seem set on destroying our way of life and our beliefs.  In the past they have joined forces with loggers to exploit our forests and pollute our streams.  Now they have turned us into rent-paying tenants on land we have inhabited for thousands of years.  We are not happy about this.  The JHEOA have had 50 years in which to rob us of our dignity, pride, confidence, and self-reliance - not to mention the ground beneath our feet.  For Orang Asli, the Emergency is not over yet.

9. Honourable Prime Minister, we humbly request that you intervene to save us from the JHEOA, which treats Orang Asli like unwanted stepchildren.  They never listen to us and they do not understand or respect us.  They tell us to let loggers clear our beautiful jungle so we can cultivate cash crops.  In the 1960s we were told to plant rubber trees but when they matured there was no demand for latex.  Now they talk about oil palm, but we do not understand the business, and do not wish to be at the mercy of middlemen and unstable market prices.  Most importantly, the forest must be preserved, not only for Orang Asli, but for all who value God’s creation.

10. We would rather be given the Reserve Land promised us 39 years ago so we can hunt and harvest fruit as we have always done.  We can also start small-scale ecotourism-related projects that will preserve the forest, and that will give us a chance to be our own bosses.  Younger Orang Asli who wish to seek their fortune elsewhere are encouraged to do so.  But as long as we have our ancestral lands, they at least have something to return to.

11. We urge that you investigate the unresolved issue of the 400 acres approved for gazetting in 1965 as Orang Asli Reserve Land, and instruct the Land Office to issue a communal title deed.  This is surely not too much to ask, as our ancestors originally roamed the whole of Pahang, Selangor, and Negri Sembilan.  But without the sense of permanency granted by official recognition of our customary lands, our people will be in despair and lack direction.  Grant us the land our ancestors left us as their legacy, and free us from the heavy-handed control of the JHEOA.  This is how we can regain our self-esteem, our spirit of independence, and our ability to prosper from the fruits of our own initiative.

12. The rest of the nation won its independence from colonial rule 47 years ago.  We feel it is time we Orang Asli, too, are allowed to taste the dignity and joy of freedom. 

13. A copy of this letter will be handed to Persatuan Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (POASM) to be shared with my fellow Batins.
Yours faithfully,






Bidar Chik
Batin Kg Pertak
Ulu Selangor


[First posted 6 June 2014]

Friday, May 24, 2019

Money A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion (repost)

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion
We are indebted to The Onion  for this up-to-the-minute report:

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world's largest economy. "Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we.... if we " said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. "You know what? It doesn't matter. None of this so-called 'money' really matters at all."

"It's just an illusion," a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. "Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless." According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, "Oh my God, he's right. It's all a mirage. All of it - the money, our whole economy - it's all a lie!" Screams then filled the Senate Chamber as lawmakers and members of the press ran for the exits, leaving in their wake aisles littered with the remains of torn currency.

As news of the nation's collectively held delusion spread, the economy ground to a halt, with dumbfounded citizens everywhere walking out on their jobs as they contemplated the little green drawings of buildings and dead white men they once used to measure their adequacy and importance as human beings.

At the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday morning's opening bell echoed across a silent floor as the few traders who arrived for work out of habit looked up blankly at the meaningless scrolling numbers on the flashing screens above.

"I've spent 25 years in this room yelling 'Buy, buy! Sell, sell!' and for what?" longtime trader Michael Palermo said. "All I've done is move arbitrary designations of wealth from one column to another, wasting my life chasing this unattainable hallucination of wealth." "What a cruel cosmic joke," he added. "I'm going home to hug my daughter."

Sources at the White House said President Obama was "still trying to get his head around all this" and was in seclusion with his coin collection, muttering "it's just metal, it's just metal" over and over again. "The president will be making a statement very soon," press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. "At the moment, though, his mind is just too blown to comment."

A few U.S. banks have remained open, though most teller windows are unmanned due to a lack of interest in transactions involving mere scraps of paper or, worse, decimal points and computer data signifying mere scraps of paper. At a Bank of America branch in Spokane, WA, curious former customers wandered aimlessly through a large empty vault, while several would-be robbers of a Chase bank in Columbus, OH reportedly put their guns down and exited the building hand in hand with security guards, laughing over the inherent absurdity of the idea of $100 bills.

Likewise, the real estate industry has all but vanished, with mortgage lenders seeing no reason to stop people from reclaiming their foreclosed-upon homes. "I don't even know what we were thinking in the first place," said former banker Nathan Collins of Brandon, MS, as he jimmyed open a door to allow a single mother and her five children to move back into their house. "A bunch of people sign a bunch of papers, and now this family has no place to live? That's just plain ludicrous."

The realization that money is nothing more than an elaborate head game seems to have penetrated the entire country: In Wilmington, DE, for instance, a collection agent reportedly broke down in joyful sobs when he informed a woman on the other end of the phone that he had absolutely no reason to harass her anymore, as her Discover Card debt was no longer comprehensible.

For some Americans, the fog of disbelief surrounding the nation's epiphany has begun to lift, with many building new lives free from the illusion of money.

"It's back to basics for me," Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. "I'm going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I'll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I'll pay for it in lettuce."

When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain. "That's a lot of vegetables, isn't it?" he said.

The Onion © 2010

[Brought to my greatly amused attention by Olivia de Haulleville. First posted 16 March 2010, reposted 25 February 2015]


Sunday, May 19, 2019

WHAT THE BUDDHA SAYS... (reprise)


BETTER BE NUDIST THAN BUDDHIST!

Why so? Simply because the Buddha represents the Awakened Soul incarnate in human form. The Buddha is nobody's personal name, it denotes an enlightened state of consciousness that is now available to all souls in physical bodies - thanks to the brilliant accomplishment of Prince Siddhartha 2,500 years ago, who left a privileged existence within a royal palace and the creature comforts of home in quest of truth and deeper wisdom.

It's utterly pointless to be a Buddhist. Might as well strip off your clothes and become a Nudist. At least you would have nothing to hide!

This Vesak Day, in honor of Siddhartha's enlightenment quest, I beseech all who consider themselves Buddhists to forsake their text-book Buddhism - and go straight for Buddhahood instead. You can attain enlightenment at the snap of a finger, in the blink of an eye, in a single heartbeat. Being enlightened simply means you become aware of your own robotism, your own mechanical behavior, your own cultural and social programming... and therefore are able to successfully transcend it.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL BUDDHAS (AND BUDDHAS-TO-BE) ACROSS THE UNIVERSE!

P.S. To all Archontized Pseudo-Humans still serving a control-freak totalitarian globalist agenda, I wish you an unexpected attack of candor and a wholly cleansing “We Suck” Day.


Friday, May 17, 2019

FROM ROME TO AMERICA (revisited)

Illustration by David Dees

AMERICA is today considered by many the only global superpower in terms of economic and military might. What led a former British colony, with an independent history of just over 200 years, to become “the most powerful nation on Earth” – even if some might view it as a “rogue” nation, feared and loathed by a staggering majority of human beings?

A quote from American Dream, Global Nightmare by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (Icon Books, UK, 2004):

America’s efforts to rule the world and to see its own history as the destiny of all humanity are intrinsic to its mythology. Its lethal righteousness, its claim that its model of democracy is the only model, and the linking of democracy to free markets are all an integral part of its worldview. In other words, America has turned its mythology into pathology.

On planet Earth, the perception of POWER has long been confused with FORCE. All empires were founded at swordpoint, and ruled with an iron hand through sheer terror. Every empire has risen and fallen with the waxing and waning of the authority and might of a specific ruler or dynasty. Each empire has left a cultural and ideological legacy – first through the spread of a language, then through the spread of a religious belief system - and both of these factors inevitably influence the evolution of civilizations and cultures.

Constantine the Great (Gernot Keller)

From Sumeria to Babylon, and from Phoenicia and Egypt to Greece and, subsequently, Rome – the pattern of earthly power is clearly traceable as it migrates to ever greener pastures, in search of natural resources, more equable climates, and room to expand. With the decline of Egypt, Persia and Greece, Rome became the new center of the imperial drive. But even as its military influence began to fade, Roman law and Latin as a language of the ruling elite became firmly entrenched in Europe and Britain.

A few centuries down the line, the Roman eagle – symbol of the predator from on high – migrated across the Atlantic where it became the American eagle; and the indomitable legions of Roman centurions gave way to the efficient and portable killing machine called the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Marine Corps. The degree of destructivity has grown by quantum leaps – from stone-hurling catapults, arrows and spears, to smart missiles armed with nuclear warheads, and a criminally insane arsenal of biological, chemical, electromagnetic, psychological – even climatological - weapons in less than twenty centuries.

HAARP electromagnetic beam transmitter

THE LUNATIC DREAM of world domination has destroyed billions of lives and our dreams of universal peace and harmony - and brought us to the very brink of ecosystemic collapse. Where does it originate, this mad impulse to rule over all instead of oneself? This gross misunderstanding of the meaning of Mastery – which is authentic only when it takes the form of Self-Mastery, but becomes a travesty when the “master” acquires vampiric power through enslaving less aggressive individuals and other lifeforms. Some erroneously believe it is an intrinsic part of “human nature” – but what we label “human nature” is really just a set of inculcated beliefs, prejudices, and legally sanctioned behaviors genetically and socioculturally instilled in each new generation. In effect, what passes as “human nature” is simply a pre-programmed Operating System chromosomally installed in our biocomputers. As such, it is possible to customize, modify, or enable and disable specific functions once we learn the encoding language.

Whether you call it an aberration in the evolutionary impulse, or a defect in the genome of the species Homo sapiens, the impulse to dominate has certainly become a counter-survival program deeply embedded in the DNA of all territorial organisms. We see it clearly manifest in primate behavior, wherein the mark of an “alpha male” is invariably the length of its fangs, and the capacity and ferocity of its will to subjugate others. And yet these very qualities are held up as the unmistakable signs of “leadership potential” and political power has long been in the hands of those most unfit to rule, their genetics being the most acutely distorted by this violent and aberrant implant.

We call it an “implant” because it certainly was never part of the original blueprint of existence. How do we know this to be so? Simply by entering into the primordial consciousness encoded in our DNA and accessible through our own neurology. From that quintessential perspective, it is impossible to conceive of ever creating any evolutionary program that would ultimately bring about such an intense degree of pain, suffering, and sheer abuse upon one’s own progeny. In other words, the original blueprint of existence is purely Edenic – the quest for ever more intimate and expansive degrees of self-knowledge is always predicated on the pleasure principle – never pain! Whatever interrupted and disrupted the original evolutionary program planted the seed of criminality and miscreation within the primordial genetic thread – which is in itself immortal and indestructible, though highly mutable and thus susceptible to unwholesome modification and mutation.

"There were giants upon the earth in those days..."
Those who have read Zecharia Sitchin’s interpretation of the Sumerian cuneiform tablets conclude that it was indeed the Nibiruan ETs (the Anunnaki or Nefilim) who introduced this “master-slave” dominant-submissive polarity into the nascent human psyche when they manufactured the “Adama” in their Earth-based genetic laboratory. Sitchin’s calculations locate the beginning of Homo sapiens at approximately 240,000 years ago. However, paleoanthropologists have found hominid remains dating back at least a couple million years. In effect, there is no immutable data available that allows us to draw any exact conclusions as regards the origins of the present human species.

Nevertheless, we may safely assume that many counter-survival behaviors were deliberately “hardwired” into our neural circuitry – mainly to prevent us from eventually figuring out how the 3D Matrix works and thereby shortcircuiting the frequency fence that keeps our awareness hemmed in, and our bodies trapped within a prescribed set of limitations. Even the aging program is essentially just a built-in mechanism triggered by a preset endocrinal clock.


THE CONCEPT OF AMERICA itself is an ingenious marketing ploy packaged as an extreme form of “brand loyalty” wherein every child raised in the United States is methodically brainwashed into believing he or she lives in “the world’s greatest country.” This is why the typical American grows up totally insulated from any real understanding or knowledge of the world beyond the U.S.A. There is a huge gap between domestic propaganda about America being “the Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave” and America’s ignoble foreign policy - as implemented through covert CIA activities which destabilize and undermine independent local governments, while installing and propping up political stooges friendly to U.S. capital interests. This strategy of world domination through bribery and quiet coercion constitutes the thrust towards “globalization” – really an euphemism for economic and ideological colonization carried out through the clever manipulation of mass communications, thereby molding “public opinion” via the powerful tools of advertising and public relations.

Five hundred years ago, mastery of the high seas was the key to world domination. The British Empire was founded on the colorful maritime exploits of swashbuckling buccaneers who earned their knighthoods by plundering, pillaging, and planting flags in the ruling monarch’s name. By the second half of the 20th century, however, the key to world domination lay in mastery of the airwaves – control of the mass media, and thereby the power to manipulate perceptions on a global scale.

Photo: Richard Lund

This is where America came into its own in the battle for the hearts and minds of the human population. Through the Hollywood Dream Factory and slickly produced TV entertainment packages, America rose to pre-eminence as the world’s biggest purveyor of canned information. Children in far-flung former British colonies grew up watching American-made movies and television programs, and were painlessly indoctrinated into accepting the American cultural idiom as their own. The U.S.A. advertised its own crass, consumeristic brand of “democracy” as the superior way of life – wherein citizens could vote every four years for Tweedledum (Republican) or Tweedledee (Democrat), while choosing from a bewildering array of TV stations and a dazzling kaleidoscope of detergents and shampoos. The American Dream was sold to the whole world under the guise of globalization. America billed itself as the de facto leader of “the Free World” during the so-called Cold War years that marked the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Third World War – a battle of belief systems, marketing strategies, and corporate propaganda waged by professional “spin doctors” on behalf of their clients, the über-elite Old Boys’ Network that owns 99% of the banks and mass media.


HOWEVER, behind (and beyond) the Great American Marketing Machine – and way below the radar of public perception – lurks an insidious influence that has been called a variety of names, none of which comes anywhere close to describing the disease. Some conveniently label it Zionism, the Illuminati Conspiracy... or the Lucifer Effect, alluding to the allegory of how God’s most brilliant Archangel undertook the onerous task of establishing Free Will by leading a revolt in Heaven, thus creating a deep schism in the Universal Mind, splitting Energy itself into negative and positive poles.

This tragicomic dualism of the embattled and “divided self” generates perpetual conflict between our public and private personas, portrayed so memorably in Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – or J.R.R. Tolkien’s Smeagol and Gollum. Indeed, it can be said that all drama emerges from the interplay of Light and Dark - from the animated shadows on the wall of Plato’s Cave to the buffalo-hide puppets of Javanese wayang kulit, Magic Lantern shows, and Dreamworks’ 3D digital imaging masterpieces.

When we are fast asleep, life is but a dream (alas, sometimes a hideous nightmare). In German, “dream” is rendered as Traum – just one letter short of Trauma. The tug-of-war between Good and Evil, Angel and Demon, Left and Right, Male and Female, Rich and Poor, Arab and Jew, ceases the moment we reconcile and reconnect our inner and outer selves – thereby redeeming and reinstating Lucifer as “The Light Bringer” to his Heavenly Throne - and rejoining the famous Siamese twins, Yin and Yang who, separated at birth, grew up erroneously believing themselves to be archrivals and sworn enemies.


[First published 17 January 2007, reposted 28 August 2013. Extracted from an unpublished manuscript, THE (UNFINISHED) BOOK OF JOHN ~ Confessions of a former Christian fundamentalist]


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Introduction to the Mandelbrot set ~ key to infinity! (repost)





Benoît B. Mandelbrot (20 November 1924 – 14 October 2010) was a Polish-born, French and American mathematician, noted for developing a "theory of roughness" and "self-similarity" in nature and the field of fractal geometry to help prove it, which included coining the word "fractal." He later discovered the Mandelbrot set of intricate, never-ending fractal shapes, named in his honor.

When he was a child, his family immigrated to France in 1936. After World War II ended in 1945, Mandelbrot studied mathematics, graduating from universities in Paris and the U.S., receiving a masters degree in aeronautics from Caltech. He spent most of his career in both the U.S. and France, having dual French and American citizenship. In 1958 he began working for IBM, where he stayed for 35 years and was an IBM Fellow.

Because of his access to IBM's computers, Mandelbrot was one of the first to use computer graphics to create and display fractal geometric images, leading to his discovering the Mandelbrot set in 1979. By doing so, he was able to show how visual complexity can be created from simple rules. He said that things typically considered to be "rough," a "mess" or "chaotic," like clouds or shorelines, actually had a "degree of order." His research career included contributions to such fields as geology, medicine, cosmology, engineering and the social sciences. Science writer Arthur C. Clarke credits the Mandelbrot set as being "one of the most astonishing discoveries in the entire history of mathematics."

[Source: Wikipedia. First posted 13 July 2014]




Monday, May 13, 2019

No May 13, No "Ketuanan Melayu" (revisited)

[From an email I posted on the Artisproactiv forum on 14 October 2004. It was subsequently published in this blog on 30 September 2008, but I feel it's worth reprising one more time to mark the 50th anniversary of 13 May 1969]


Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 16:41:20 +0800
From: Antares
Subject: Re: UNMASKING THE HORNETS

Those in power will do ANYTHING it takes to remain in power. This is a basic Machiavellian truism. Exceptions to the rule occur, of course, but all too rarely. It takes a Prince Siddhartha to turn one's back on the false and treacherous allure of earthly power and embark on a personal quest for truth and enlightenment.

Or perhaps a prince like Tunku Abdul Rahman who resigned a sad and broken man after May 13 rather than battle those within Umno who wanted him out.

Shortly before his death, the Tunku confided - in a series of intimate interviews with K. Das, former bureau chief of the Far Eastern Economic Review, who was working on the Tunku's official biography - that what happened on May 13, 1969, was really the implementation of a contingency plan to prevent the political opposition (in this instance the DAP and PAS) from forming a parliamentary majority after the 1969 general election. The Tengku actually named FIVE individuals who were the key conspirators.*

Strategies had been laid long before the general election to spark off "racial riots" - in the event of a poor showing for the ruling party in the polls - that would precipitate the declaration of a state of national emergency (temporary martial law and the hasty formation of the National Operations Council) - and the nullification of the 1969 election results. The loss of a few hundred lives was deemed a necessary sacrifice to ensure Umno's continued dominance and the political survival of the Alliance (now the Barisan Nasional).

The plan obviously worked. By declaring it a "sensitive" issue, the May 13 plot effectively acquired the status of a national taboo, thereby protecting its perpetrators from a royal commission of inquiry and charges of criminal treason. 35 years down the line, not one of the five key conspirators has ever been exposed and charged with complicity in this deadly and repugnant sandiwara.

This sort of strategem is actually standard practice - and since "winners" rewrite history as they please - it often takes ages before such skeletons are excavated from the dusty remains of political cupboards, centuries later.

Take the infamous Gulf of Tonkin "incident" which led directly to America's invasion of Vietnam... or the JFK assassination of November 22, 1963: the whole thing is still shrouded in mystery and much discussed amongst "conspiracy theorists." Despite the Freedom of Information Act in America, and a slew of well-researched books on the subject, the general public still unthinkingly accepts that JFK's assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald. Same thing with RFK (Robert F. Kennedy) and MLK (Martin Luther King).

Then there was the story (planted by PR firm Hill & Knowlton) about Saddam Hussein's troops snatching infants from their incubators in Kuwait, which swung public opinion in favor of Emperor Bush I's 1991 Operation Desert Storm. And now we have September 11, 2001 as America's very own "May 13."

Race riots, my foot. May 13 was really just "Plan B": a carefully orchestrated mengamuk.

Yup, it's Chicken Run all over!
______

* One of the five May 13 conspirators is still alive and plotting - and among the others, some of their offspring are still active in politics. So I won't name any of them without proper legal backing or documentary evidence. However, I can drop a heavy hint: two of them subsequently became prime ministers. How did I come by this info? I collaborated with K. Das in 1986 on a book of political quotes and we had a few good conversations over the years.

Vernon Emuang forwarded this Malaysiakini essay by Sim Kwang Yang:

It would seem to be a clear case of sedition when a political butterfly dressed up in hornet's armour tried to revive the ghost of May 13 in the recent Umno general assembly, to the thunderous applause of all those present.

Speeches during Umno general assemblies are more likely to be carefully orchestrated representations of their mainstream thinking, rather than the spontaneous cut and thrust of creative ideas. So we - who are excluded from the inner sanctum of Umno faithful - have to assume that their perennial call to arms is an integral part of Umno ideology. After all, May 13 was the cornerstone upon which the grand superstructure of the NEP had been erected for the past 35 years.
[First posted 30 September 2008, reposted 13 May 2009]

From a Living Buddha named Eckhart Tolle...



Published 10 May 2019

You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself.


Friday, May 10, 2019

TERMINAL HIEROPHANTIASIS (revisited)


we bow our heads in unison & listen

to benisons in latin as we

sit on satin cushions

in silence

with violent visions

of serpents & surplices &

sacred bullocks & cassocks & castration

casting lustral pearls

at lugubrious swine

that wallow in goodswill

on the dunghill of time

popping corn & copping porn

pages from hoary wisdom torn:



O HEAVENLY FATHOPE

GRUNT UNTO US

IN THIS THE HOUR OF OUR SORDID GREED

WE PLEAD WITH BEADS OF GRUBBY CREED

IN CHUBBY FINGERS


from the foulpit to the pulpit

of the chosen pew

we send forth solemn nostrums from the rostrum

to our beloved token jew


FORGIVE US OUR FOREFATHERS' FORESKINS

AND GIVE US THIS DAY A DULL RAP ON THE SKULL CAP

OR SOME CLAP TRAP


oh we think we know we see

whom & how & whatsoever we should be

for all is ultimately

part & parson of

immortality

(so help me)


wherefore this common porridge:

this grim & gruelling gravy

in which organisms sink or swim

suspended in acute & minute animation

doomed to drink & be drunk &

perchance be merry or to suffer

indigestion &/or

indigestibility?

BY THE MONAD'S GONADS,

ANSWER ME!


we bow our heads

over supper sipping soup

but does it really matter

if tablemanners are observed

or if slurping sounds delicious?

after all the tiny whiny citizens

aswoon or aswirl in their own dire mansions

in our soupy microcosm

are also busy bowing pious little heads

over teeny weeny bowls of

perfect beans...

And be it so.


Antares © 1969/1985

AND NOW LISTEN TO THE SOUNDTRACK, FOLKS!

[First posted 24 March 2009, reposted 4 December 2014 & 27 May 2016]

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Altantuya's Murder: The Orang Asli Factor (reprise)



It should have been the perfect cover-up. Troublesome Mongolian woman is "arrested" by plainclothes policemen outside the gates of Abdul Razak Baginda's residence where she had been causing embarrassment to the political analyst, defence consultant, speechwriter and personal friend of Najib Razak, Malaysia's defence minister and deputy PM. The Mongolian woman believes the Malaysian police will take her to the station, interrogate and intimidate her, and then forcibly deport her.

Nobody knows exactly what happened to Altantuya Shaariibuu between the time she was seen entering the Unit Tindakan Khas (Special Action Squad) officer's car and the time her body was blasted to tiny fragments with C4 explosives. Was she taken to Bukit Aman? Or driven to a secret location and toyed with before getting shot twice in the head (according to some reports)? Did her police abductors treat her with courtesy - or was she humiliated, tortured and raped before they killed her? Will we ever find out? The two UTK officers who have been charged with the hideous crime - Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar and Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri - were personal bodyguards to defence minister Najib Razak. So under whose specific orders were they acting?

In any case, the only reason Altantuya's body was blown up in the jungle was so that it would never be found - at least not in one piece. Somebody extremely powerful had instructed an immigration officer to delete all computer records of Altantuya Shaariibuu's arrivals and departures from Malaysia. When her cousin lodged a police report that Altantuya had disappeared, a massive search would have been initiated. After which a government spokesman would have told the media that the immigration department had no record of the Mongolian woman arriving in Malaysia. There would be insinuations that Altantuya Shaariibuu did not, in fact, exist - and that her "cousin" was perhaps mentally unsound, possibly paranoiac, and had concocted the story of Altantuya's vanishing act in order to attract attention.

So why did the gruesome story make the front pages on local dailies nearly three weeks after the fictitious Mongolian woman was murdered? Who would have known about the jungle explosion in the middle of the night in the middle of literally nowhere?

I was told by a friend with connections to the legal fraternity that it was an Orang Asli family that reported the blast between October 19 and 20. Altantuya's killers must have killed her and then taken her body to a spot well-known to Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri (who had boasted to Abdul Razak Baginda that he had terminated at least six people "in the line of duty"). Nobody was supposed to hear the explosion that would remove all evidence of Altantuya Shaariibuu's earthly existence. Apparently, unbeknownst to the killers, a few Orang Asli were encamped in the vicinity and were startled by the blast. They investigated the next morning and, realizing that a crime had been committed, lodged a report at the nearest Balai Polis. Thus far I have found no way to confirm this detail. After Googling the case for hours, not one single reference to the Orang Asli factor. If anybody can confirm this, will you please contact me or leave a comment below this post?

I would like to know for certain that it was indeed the Orang Asli who blew the lid on this macabre and malevolent affair. It would be the ultimate irony, if this was true, that the "highest and mightiest" in the land would ultimately be brought down by the humblest of the humble.

[First published 26 April 2008. Reposted 23 August 2013, 17 October 2014 & 22 January 2015]


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Contemplating Eternity (reprise)

A Rabelaisian Discourse on Swiss Timekeeping, Scientific Orthodoxy, Satyriasis, and Saturdays


“HOW MUCH?”

She read aloud from the glossy magazine on her silky lap: “’It’s the first time such a complicated timepiece will be on the market, so it’s difficult to put a figure on it. Certainly five million dollars…’”

“U.S.?” I asked, as if it made a difference.

She nodded and continued: “’Certainly five million dollars. But it could be much more.’”

“That’s insane.”

She glanced at me with mild disdain. “How typical! You’re only interested in the price!”

“But why on earth would anyone make something like that?”

“It’s to mark their 150th anniversary…”

“Oh well, in that case it’s perfectly all right. However, I’m afwaid we can’t afford it, m’dear. Teddibly sowwy.”

I was rewarded with a faint smile. “Look, if I showed you a picture of a Rembrandt in an art book, does it mean I’m thinking of acquiring it? There are so many beautiful things to enjoy in this world. Masterpieces! For me it is a pleasure merely to know about them. Contemplating these priceless objects is like… well, like an experience of higher consciousness. It’s almost spiritual.”

“Well put! And as for me, whenever I feel the onset of Despair, I need only focus my thoughts on the Hope Diamond…”

The cushion missed me and landed with a fat plop near the kitchen door. She pouted in feigned petulance: “Bogus peasant!”

“My love, your beauty alone is enough for me.”

Another cushion – one she had been lying on – tossed, not hurled. I caught it and nuzzled it with mock Italian ardor: “Inamorata! O sole mio!” I breathed. “I worship the miraculous spot where you have sat!”

“Kees my ass,” she said. So I leapt on her and did precisely that.

* * * * * * *

“THIS IS INSANE,” I found myself saying an hour later. I had retrieved the magazine from the floor and was reading the feature on the multi-million-dollar timepiece from Patek Philippe, the Geneva watchmakers: “’Nine years in the making… 1,728 parts, 33 functions, weighs over a kilo…’ and dig this… ‘Every 400 years a special mechanism reinstates the Leap Year!’ ¡Caramba!”

“Isn’t that amazing?” she said, with no trace of cynicism. “And they say it will be the most complicated portable timepiece in the whole world.”

“Portable? Yeah… for Arnold Schwarzenegger, maybe.” I tossed away the magazine and mimed a well-dressed gorilla with an enormous load on his left arm: “Duhhh… mmmph… ooof…” I gasped. “Please, please, please, whatever you do… DON’T ask me the time!”

“Idiota.”

Oh, she says it so delightfully. I decided to try for an encore. “Er, ‘scuse me, what time is it?” I grunted and heaved and hauled up my left arm up to consult my imaginary 1.1 kilo timepiece. “Wait… I need time to figure it out, it’s the world’s most complicated watch, you see… 24 hands! Er… could you come back in half an hour?”

“Stupido!” she giggled.

“Who, me? Or the gorilla with the five-million-dollar watch?”

“You! You belong to the Casio crowd.”

“Mine’s a Xonix, see! You know I’m not the good Citizen type – and I certainly can’t picture myself going into a Patek Philippe showroom and asking to see the cheapest thing they’ve got.”

“Which you couldn’t afford, anyway,” she laughed. “Do you know how much the cheapest one costs?”

“Haven’t the foggiest,” I said truthfully. “An arm and a leg?”

“TWO arms and a leg!” she retorted. “You’d have to wear it around your scrawny neck.”

I sat down and murmured into her ear: “I can think of much more interesting places…”

“Jesumaria, you are insatiable!” she breathed, surrendering to the luxury of a lazy Saturday afternoon.


I AWOKE FIRST, feeling hot and sweaty. When I had showered away the sleep I came downstairs to find her groping for her cigarettes in the mellow half-darkness of twilight.

“What time is it, do you know?” she ventured, husky-voiced, mussy-haired, but divinely beautiful as ever.

“7:23,” I said, having long adapted myself to digital timekeeping.

She groaned and yawned, then lit a cigarette: “I had such a weird dream.”

“What was it?”

“Can’t remember…”

“That’s funny,” I scratched my head. “I had a pretty weird dream myself. But all I can remember is the bit about the monster watch… god, it was a pretty complicated dream!”

“What watch? You mean the Calibre by Patek Philippe?”

“Is that what it’s called, the five-million-dollar watch?” I shifted her legs and plonked myself down on the sofa beside her, reaching for the cigarettes. “Well, yeah. It was quite vivid. I was somewhere in the future, you know – somehow I knew it was the year 2400. Something about the date… February 28th.”

“Hmmmm,” she said, snuggling closer.

“You want to hear this?”

“Mmmmm,” she affirmed.

“There was a great deal of anticipation, it was in the air. Everyone was watching the same live telecast; we were glued to the holovision set. It was great: I could see this perfectly realistic 3-D image of that monster watch just dangling in mid-air… actually, I think it might have been some sort of vacuum column. Anyway, it seemed like the entire planet was eagerly awaiting the stroke of midnight. Everyone wanted to witness the miraculous Reinstatement of the Leap Year by means of that wonderful mechanism built into the watch movement. Mainly, we were extremely curious to see if the damned thing was still ticking after so many centuries.”

She reached out and borrowed my cigarette. Exhaling slowly, she sighed: “I know you’re making this up.”

“But why should I?”

“Perhaps to tease me?” she purred.

“Hey, it’s hardly unusual to dream about clocks and watches,” I countered, retrieving the cigarette. “Salvador Dali did it daily – or nightly at any rate.”

The languorous hint of complaint in her voice was quite exquisite: “You’re a very naughty man. I never know when you’re telling me facts and when it’s pure fiction.”

“So what? It’s of no significance.”

“You haven’t finished telling me your dream. What happens?”

I laughed and kissed her. “Okay… we’re sitting around watching this great event on HV…”

“Who’s WE and what’s HV?”

“You and me and a few friends… nobody specific, just a few good friends. And HV is holovision, dum-dum.”

She pinched me: “Don’t call me dum-dum!”

“Who started it? You called me stupido… look, let me finish telling you the dream before I forget it completely. Er… where was I?”

“We were watching the mostruoso watch on HV.”

“Ah yes. The announcer was saying it was now more than 400 years, or sixteen generations since the original owner bought the watch back in the 1990s. Then the midnight chime began: doong… doong… tooong…”

“And??” She was hooked. Her voice betrayed it.

“Well, the suspense was getting too much to bear. I was sweating like a pig in a sauna…”

“Pigs don’t sweat. I read an article the other day…”

“Please don’t interrupt, my dear. The monster watch chimed three times… four times… five times… six times… then I woke up.”

“Stronso!” she snorted, “that’s bloody cheating!” Shoving me off the sofa, she jumped to her feet and danced upstairs to shower for dinner.


The Universe according to Count Antoine de Patek and Monsieur Adrien Philippe.


THE FIVE-MILLION-DOLLAR WATCH popped up again a few days later during a ‘heavy’ discussion concerning Time and Timelessness. We were watching a popular science documentary on TV about the serious research going on at some gargantuan cyclotron complex in Switzerland. A Carl Sagan look-alike was leading us on a guided tour of the exciting new frontiers of quantum physics.

“What’s so funny?” she demanded after my third or fourth quiet chuckle. “Would you be kind enough to tell me why you find this program so amusing?”

“I was reminded of something Dane Rudhyar once said.”

“Dane who? And what did he say?”

“Rudhyar. You probably won’t have heard of him. He’s only one of the most remarkable renaissance geniuses of the 20th century.”

“So what does this Dane fellow do for a living?” she said drily.

“Nothing whatsoever, he died a few years ago. But he was a philosopher, painter, esoteric scholar and astrologer; a true visionary and a highly articulate holistic thinker. And what he said was: ‘It’s really all so simple! One should not have to talk about it, which is like trying to catch atoms with a butterfly net.’ I think he might have been referring to our Brave New Scientists’ desperate attempts to crack the Mystery once and for all.”

She yawned: ”Atoms are not my specialty, but don’t you think this is a good documentary?”

“See that particle accelerator? You realize how massive that goddamned thing is? And how much it costs to operate? And do you know how extremely tiny sub-atomic particles are? Well, they’re so small they only exist in the realm of possibility. They might as well be purely mythical.”

She shrugged, not quite warming to the subject. “None of my business what they do with their equipment. But I’m sure all that research will prove useful some day.”

“Where would Big Science be without you?” I said, licking her left earlobe. Whereupon Time took a quantum leap into Timelessness. The Wild-Quark-Chase science doco was long over when we re-entered consensual time and turned off the 7 o’clock news.

At some point during the cigarette break our conversation drifted back to metaphysics. “It’s a complete waste of time,” I remember saying, “like smashing a clock against the wall and then examining the broken bits to try and grasp the nature of Time.”

“You mean a complete waste of timekeeping devices," she said drolly. "But what else do you expect scientists to do? Meditate and write haikus?”

My laughter set her off and we ended up farting in unison. It was an entirely ridiculous situation. “That was pretty good” I said at last.

“What was good? Our synchronized farts or my joke about haikus?”

“Both!”

“I can just imagine Albert Einstein in haiku heaven,” she giggled.

“Now old Bert was no grant-grubbing High Priest of Science. His was perhaps the most brilliant mind after Nikola Tesla and Niels Bohr, and he managed to keep it open to a remarkable degree. However, most of your professional scientists are just overpaid technicians, faceless data-gatherers in white smocks caught up in their own myopic specializations.”

“You are, as they say, waxing lyrical.” She popped a peeled grape in my mouth and rested her magnificent head in my lap.

I was unstoppable: “So what do they do all day long? Chasing shadows with their high-tech measuring instruments trying to get a statistical fix on everchanging forms. ‘It’s a trick of the Light!’ the smarter ones conclude. And then, when night falls, they hold anxious conferences hoping to determine precisely why their data has suddenly become invalid.”

“You make them sound so stupid…”

“’Extreme cleverness is as bad as stupidity’ – Lao-tze said that, I believe.”

“But you must admit the scientific method has produced some very useful results. I mean, when I think of video and airplanes and washing machines and computers… I’m impressed. You’re prejudiced – because you don’t have any engineering or mathematical skills, isn’t that so?”

I was silent for a moment. “You’re right to a certain extent, but I’m not saying we ought to eliminate scientists. I just don’t want them to eliminate us.”

“Don’t you agree, science can work together with art to produce functional beauty? Take the mostruoso watch for example. God, the skill that goes into something like that, the dedicated craftsmanship!”

“You seem to have taken a real fancy to that overpriced watch, haven’t you?”

“Why not? To me it represents something unique and exquisite. It’s a celebration of human ingenuity and… at least it’s a form of attainable fantasy.”

“Oh, you terminal case of intellectual materialism.”

“Stop calling me names!”

“Baublehead.”

“Bobble?” She glared at me. “What do you mean, bobble?”

“Bauble… B-A-U-B-L-E… a pretty little useless thing,” I said helpfully. “The sort of precious junk you’re so fond of admiring and collecting. Thank goodness you haven’t got unlimited credit.”

“If something makes you happy you don’t call it useless.”

“It’s that simple for you, is it? Buy a bauble and be happy. Just keep buying and live happily ever after…”

“You know I am NOT like that, Mister!” She sounded genuinely peeved.

“Hey, hey… relax! I was only trying to ruffle your feathers. I’m sorry I succeeded. Anyway, all I wanted to point out was this: not knowing what Time is all about, humans become obsessed with measuring it. They invent clocks and calendars, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to escape the Time Continuum. No wonder human affairs have become nearly impossible.”

“Who’s trying to escape from Time? Not me! And I love human affairs!”

“That’s splendid! You don’t even know you’re doing it!”

“Can you explain, please?” She started stroking my calves.

I lit a couple of cigarettes and handed her one. “All right… why do you pay so much for skin creams and Royal Jelly and extract of reindeer horn and that yucky seaweed stuff? To keep yourself looking young, right? What is age, after all? Merely a demonstrable effect of Time. We’re always seeking the Elixir of Eternal Youth – some secret passage to Immortality. Wait, wait, please don’t interrupt…”

She interrupted all the same: “I need a drink. You want some tea?”

“Brilliant idea. I need to use the loo, anyhow.”

* * * * * * *

MY THOUGHTS WERE SUBLIME as I sat on the pot. The tea was invigorating. We settled on the sofa to contemplate Eternity.

“Past, present, future – they’re mental constructs,” I informed her, feeling like some schoolboy iconoclast who’s just spilled the beans about Santa Claus to his chum.

Tea makes her attentive, so I charged on: “At certain levels of consciousness, Time spirals upon itself and nothing exists except the Moment… the Eternal Now.”

“I love it when you talk like a Buddha. Your face looks so calm.” She touched it gently.

I gazed at her with severe serenity: “The rivers of Time flow into Eternity, where the illusion of Time itself dissolves. So… why should anyone waste five million U.S. dollars on an overblown dress watch?”

“It’s an investment, darling. See what the Eiffel Tower has done for Paris.”

“Ah, but don’t you see? It’s this gnomish Newtonian notion about Law and Order in a Clockwork Cosmos. The Swiss have been obsessed with precise timekeeping for generations.”

“Don’t blame the Swiss. Blame the Chinese, they started this nonsense… as usual.”

“I’m afraid the habit began long before that, sweetheart. Timekeeping is one of the unfortunate and unnecessary by-products of higher intelligence.”

“Okay, why are you wearing that cheap watch of yours? Why talk all this high-brow stuff about Eternity? You use a desk diary, you look at calendars…”

“True, true… but I’m different, you see. I’ve managed to escape the Timestream and no longer take the passage of Time as seriously as other humans do.”

She chuckled: “Ah, my beloved Chronos, how I adore you – you are so marvelously arrogant!”

“Are you feeling peckish, Titania?” I asked, caressing her auburn locks. “I can run downtown and pick up some edibles.”

She tweaked my nose. “Hey, I’m not Titania… I’m Rhea,” she corrected me with no apparent umbrage.

“Of course!” I whacked myself on the forehead. “How could I be so forgetful? Mea culpa.”

“Anyway, I’m not very hungry… but this conversation is making me really homesick.” She sat up and looked me straight in the eye. “What do you think? Shall we take a break from playing humans? Just a quick little vacation, the two of us, hmmm?” Her painted fingernails traced a subtle pattern along my thighs.

I performed a swift mental calculation. “Okay,” I said with brow thoughtfully furrowed. “If we do it discreetly, nobody will get alarmed. We can use the new Antarean Gateway. It will take us right through Arcturus to Andromeda. But let’s set the Zuvuya beam to return in 16 gene cycles.”

“Why 16 gene cycles?”

“Well, that will spiral us back into this Reality Game just before Gregorian Year 2400, give or take a lunar phase.”

“Yes, but what’s the mission objective for that specific coordinate?”

“Don’t you want to watch our monster timepiece perform the miraculous Reinstatement of the Leap Year?”

“Perfect timing!” She winked and gave me the most sensational kiss I have had in aeons.

Or at least since Saturday.


Text & Illustrations by Antares © 1989
Painting: "The Children of Cronos" by Victor Hagea
First posted 27 May 2007