Tuesday, July 04, 2006

23 Roads to Mythville
An apocalyptic journey across America and meditation on the imposition of order in space, both cyber and dirt real. By experiential author Douglas McDaniel, who explores the mysteries of American networked life. Read more

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Ipswich at War
A few days after Sept. 11, 2001, poet and essayist Douglas McDaniel moved to Ipswich, on the North Shore of Massachusetts. A collection of poems from that period of fear and anxiety, as well as the polemic essay, "Media Arts and War."
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Glasnost Lost
As an act of defiance after the botched election of 2000, experiential author launched himself into a journey into the underworld of American life, or, what he calls: The Science of Descent. Read more

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Godz, Cars & Cannon
Experiential author Douglas McDaniel launches drives into the networked thickets of American life, looking for signs of myth and romance in the age of automotive machines.
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Many Moons the Mythville: The Collected Road Poems
Poetry written during a 10-year span of criss-crossing America in a roving-eye view of the turn-of-the-century landscape of Mythville, or, as the author puts it: "It's all a bunch of Mythville." With work from four separate books by Arizona-based author and poet Douglas McDaniel, the bard-inspired voices of Milton, Blake and Yeats, as well as the saturnine streak of early beat poesy, ring through this collection of poems and essays. From the southwestern deserts to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, "Many Moons to Mythville" is a foot-to-the-floor blast through the mythical roads of American life.
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Human Search Engine

The journey continues as the quest for myth in an age of information overload leads to online life as an editor for Access Internet Magazine. A story about all human search engines as they chase the ghost in the machine.
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William Blake in Cyberspace

Experiential author Douglas McDaniel takes on the visionary art and poetry of William Blake, comparing an otherworldly worldview to that revolutionary, romantic era to our own wild, wired, mythic world.
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The Kachina's Son

Poems about the Four Corners area written while author Douglas McDaniel was living in Telluride, Colorado.
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The Road to Mythville
A collection of poems on the new millennium in America, drawing from decade of bouncing across the country as a journalist and Kerouac-style poet, from the Southwestern deserts to the shores of New England and back again.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Robison’s Proof

Proof, N. Evidence having a shade more of plausibility than of unlikelihood. The testimony of two credible witnessses as opposed to that of only one.
-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary


Secret societies develop when the forces of change disrupt the old ways of life, or when people are themselves in rebellion with the existing order, and find underground secrecy necessary as a cover for their activities. An enomous amount of literature, from both right and left, has been devoted to prove or disprove the supposed connection between the Revolution and Freemasonry. According to one version of the anti-revollution conspiracy theory, the entire social upheaval was planned and directed by the Bavarian Illuminati. This theory is put forth in Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All Religions and Governments of Europe by John Robison.
Robison’s unusal expose, first published in 1798, is not the first of its type, nor the last. It is but a segment of a long line of polemic literature about the Order of the Bavarian Illuminati, headed by Dr. Adam Weishaupt, a Jesuit trained professor of Canon law at Ingolstadt University. The publisher of my copy, Americanist Classics, in the introduction, claims that Weishaupt’s organization embodied all the goals, aims, and methods of communism. Actually, communism was never mentioned in Robison’s book, but the underlying plan for world domination was a major object of the Illuminati. In works similar to Robison’s, the notorious Illuminati have been credited with managing every revolution since 1776 behind the scenes, taking over the world, being the brains behind communism, capitalism, authoritarianism, continuing underground to the present day, secretly worshipping the devil, and causing everyt
hing that is wrong on planet earth. In all of this paranoia and hysteria, it would seem certain that Weishaupt’s intent to maintain secrecy has worked; no two students of “Illuminology” have ever agreed on what the main purpose, or inner secret, of the order actually is, if any. Vernon Stauffer, critic of all Illuminati hysteria, believes such paranoia to be “miserable mixtures of falsehood and folly.”
According to Robison, the Illuminati were framed in the same mode of organization as the Jesuits, adopting the same system of espionage, and adopted the maxim that the end justifies the means. He used the lower grades of the order as a front, using mystic principles of Christianity as a mask in order to gain recruits for the next stage of illumination. Holding out the hope of higher mysteries in the higher ranks, Weishaupt gradually illuminated his recruits into substituting Reason for Christ. Most Illuminati theorists agree that his intent was to undermine Christianity and replace this superstition with a morality of Reason, and for his system, in some point in the future, to rule the world. In Weishaupt’s secret documents, as reported by Robison, the expressed aim of this society was to combat ignorance, superstition, religious restraint and tyranny in various forms.
When the Order of the Illuminati was founded on May 1, 1776, “Weishaupt took the name of Sparacus, the man who headed the insurrection of slaves, which in Pompey’s time kept Rome in terror and uproar for three years. Nicholai, an eminent and learned bookseller in Berlin, and author of several works of reputation, took the name of Lucien, the great scoffer of all religion.” The adoption of Roman names is interesting because Gracchus Babeuf, of the Society of Equals, was a left wing communist. There is a great mystery as to where he learned his ideas. It’s curious that there is such a lack of documentation about his society or his principles. Perhaps he, too, was illuminated into Weishaupt’s system.
In Robison’s Proofs, he used the actual secret communications of the order that were published after it was suppressed by the Elector of Bavaria after a vast Illuminati scare. Robison often used Weishaupt quotes to prove his point, for instance: “The great strength of our order lies in its concealment; let it never appear in any place in its own name, and another occupation. None is fitter than the three lower degrees of Freemasonry; the public is accustomed to it . . . and it maybe much more than a cover, it may be a powerful engine in our hands . . . and taking these in our direction and supplying them through our labours, we may turn the public mind which way we will.” Robison’s use of Weishaupt’s quotes is his best weapon to prove his argument, for here we find a group whose intent was to manipulate events to cause radical change in society, whose ideas were to spread in an underground current t
hroughout Europe. “By this plan,” says Weishaupt, “We shall direct all mankind. In this manner, and by the simplest means, we shall set all in motion and in flames.”
From here, according to Robison, there is no doubt that the Illuminati intended to set Europe aflame with Revolution. My question is whether or not they succeeded. When the Illuminati were suppressed in 1784 by Bavarian authorities, the measures, according to critic Stauffer, proved decisive. “All efforts,” said Stauffer in New England and the Bavarian Illuminati, “were made to galvanize the expiring spirit of the order, but wholly without result. The emergence of the order had attracted public attention so abruptly and sharply, and its downfall had been so violent and so swift, that public opinion lacked time to adjust itself to the facts of the case. In Bavaria, particularly, the enemies of the order were unable to persuade themselves that the machinations of the Illuminati could safely be regarded as past.”
Robison claimed that the suppression of the order in the early 1780s had failed, and the organization continued to thrive in the form of a reading society known as the German Union. Weishaupt, being exposed, was no longer able to continue as leader, and was succeeded by Bode. It was here that Robison went into a lengthy moral condemnation of the Illuminators, trying to show that they were not, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “enthusiastic philantropists,” but instead wolves in sheep’s clothing.
According to Robison, Bode traveled to France and illuminated the Lodges of Paris. This is the most important part of Robison’s proof, and in my opinion, the most interesting.
Eager to adopt revolutionary ideas now that the Assembly of Notables was faililng to correct problems that the monarchy created, the Amnis Reunis and other Lodges opened their arms to their German visitors and Illuminism quickly spread throughout France. As Robison wrote, “Not only was the arch rebel the Duke of Orleans the Grand Master, but the chief actors in the Revoltuion, Mirabeau, Condorcet, Sieyes, Rochefoucault, and others, were distinguised office-bearers in the great Lodges.”
Although these allegations were disputed by Stauffer, I find this link to the doctrines taught in Paris interesting. Sieyes, one of the main contributors during the entire period, who manipulated behind the scenes, was very enthusiastic about the higher mysteries of Free Masonry. Mirabeau, according to Robison, was personally illuminated by Weishaupt during his travels to Berlin. Condorcet, one of the main contributors to modern education, is significant because he proposed to create a society of higher, illuminated elite. I am much more likely to believe that the Revolution was intentionally instigated by an illuminated few than believe that it was accidentally created by the ideas of Rousseau and Voltaire put into action.
Also, I think it is strange the way the great fear spread in the provinces. Surely, ridiculous rumors do not spread identically across the countryside. Robison was very convincing when he wrote, “. . . the rapidity with which one opinion was declared in every corner, and that opinion as quickly changed, and that change announced everywhere, and the perfect conformity of the principles, and the sameness of language, even in arbitrary trifles, can hardly be explained in any other way.” This passage reminds me of the Great Fear that took place out in the provinces among the peasants, which was the one incident of mass lower class activity. It is indeed unusual how rumors were uniformly spread, that the king had gives orders for the army and the nobles to run through and kill peasants. A competent conspirator surely knows tha tfear is the mother of violence.
From here it seems that there are two ways to view the Revolution. One is the methodical, where proof must overcome allegation, where personal political views become the starting point for interpretation, where history is an accident to be observed, where events are dominated by a social and economic mesh. On the other hand is the conspiracy attitude, where proof is allusive, where events are manipulated by some unseen enemy, where history achieves symbolic meaning, where purpose overcomes the scientist as he tries to observe the accident. Robison’s expose is representative of conservative religious morality clinging to the ways of old. For him, the Illuminati provided a real demon with which to point an accusing finger at. Admittedly, his “prrofs” are overly judgemental, and his method of argument is often tiresome, but hwo can deny that the strength of the Jacobian existed in the fact that they w
ere organized, with tentacles spreading all over France, and with a network quite centralized. When the committee of Public Safety was formed, who can deny the hideous strength of a centralized hierarchy based on the principles of fear and obedience, based on circles of leadership inside wider circles. And finally, Napoleon’s University of France is quite like the Illuminati system, with authoritarian rules of absolute obedience to all members, and a highly centralized system of propaganda. According to Milton, Bureaucracy is, after all, the gift of Satan.
Stauffer, Vernon, New England and the Bavarian Illuminati, New York, Russell and Russell, 1967, p. 228.
Stauffer, Bavarian Illuminati, p. 208.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Thursday, March 08, 2001

The Marriage of Heaven and Hal

Written and Directed by Douglas McDaniel

Telluride, CO


Mythville MetaMedia

Performed by the Mythville MetaMedians

Music By Giant Sand, track 8 from CD: Intro to end, ebb and flow the sound as seems appropriate.

The Narrator for Part One: Billy Bob Parnell (DLM)
William Blake in Cyberspace Douglas McDaniel
Officer Dan Rico, Utopia PD Rico
Maggie La Muse Maggie
Cowboy Hal Search Engine Theo

Start No. 9 of "Ghost in the Machine"

Maggie: In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by incapacity.
He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plough.
Dip him in the river who loves the water.
A fool sees not the same tree the wise man sees.
All wholesome food is caught without a net or a trap.

Billy Bob Parnell: It's 3:36 a.m. in Utopia. You are not in the suburbs.

You analyze----processing, processing, processing----like a computer: God made you in his image, you make the computer in your image, the computer makes … There you are, a wizard, your leg bouncing on frenetic automatic pilot, your permanent maintenance of the universal flux just slightly ajar. Oh my sweeties, all my loves, where are you now? Not one green leafy thing is in your line of sight. Maybe you are finding the Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, the promised glittering city of gold, right there on the World Wide Web. The intermediary is betwixt you and the infinite.

It's 3:41 a.m. in Utopia. This vibe is running through you, fully sanctioned by the Utopian Republic. You are the lone standing chairman of the bored.There are few sanctioned methods for filling the Void. But everything leads to imposing order, or a senseless desire for it, anyway. This ceaseless craving. If there's a blank space, a canvas or a page, we fill it up with our image of Paradise Lost. We are of nature, and so, we abhor a vacuum.

Need Street Sounds: Hustle and Bustle of New York, as well as the opening segment to U2's "New York"

Fillin it all in, the megalithic icons of Utopia float in an ill-mannered jumble of images: a jarring eyesore of lights and noise and fully licensed, cross-promotional insanity. The snake swallows its tail right on this street corner. The mob is running in all directions to then return, after too many bites from the very bark off the Tree of Life.

Oh, we can improve things. Make them clear. Intensify the frequencies for better service. Reflecting on the strange words we read, enough to search them out in the dictionary, certainly adds to our bandwidth, the intensity of our P.O.V. We watch television, nod off in church, affiliate with other political animals, join new tribes, march to generals and dance to rock bands, commute or telecommute through Metropolis and back, live whole days in the air without looking out the window to see the puny world down below. But more than that, electricity. There are all kinds of electricity, and the real question is: Can you see the sun behind the sun? The forest behind the trees. And all you cyberalechemists out there, all the William Blake's in Cyberspace, trying to scratch out a living: The real question isn't how to turn our all too wired up lead into gold, but how to turn our gold into soul.

See how it works? I hope so. You can't believe the trouble it took me just to get you this far.

Ghost in the Machine No. 9

Billy Bob Parnell: The setting is William Blake's metamedia lab in downtown Utopia, as our anti-hero, as the self-publishing voice of anarchy, sifts through piles and piles of information for various requests of the local constable and inquisitor, officer Dan. This room is a wizard's dream as we get this glimpse of a man behind a curtain, literally the first man to be e-mailed in cyberspace, spammed from the 19th century. That is, from the beginning of that world to the far end of your town. Blake is haggared and tired, suffering from the ill effects of time travel into a world where he sees the dead of all those lives he crossed, beyond, and back into the future. He lights candles at dusk and drinks monk's tea, a poor-man's brew. But there is hope, as they are now launched on a quest. A Holy Grail of sorts: The search for the lost lease of Utopia.

Music fade in, out

Blake: Say, would you like to play some chess, officer Dan?

Officer Dan: Well, yes, but I have a fundraiser at 6 p.m., with bells on. Miss LaMuse is cooking…Besides, only one more game, cause you really suck.

Maggie: Sweet basil and onions … no stone soup in my kitchen, pretty boy. As long as you fix the fuse in my basement, I'll even break upon a bottle of wine.

Blake: Oh great. Control freaks unite. Oh, how If she were with me we'd commit heinous acts by the light of the Tesla coil. You know, the whole problem in this town, Utopia, isn't housing shortage…it's a housing inefficiency. Seems to be a pretty decent amount of space in mislabeled Utopia…
Your move.

Maggie: Say, since you are obviously so pathetic and innocuous and,well, maybe if you listened to my case, I've kind of come to the same, emmm, conclusions. Besides, I know for a fact that nobody in our building has the lease. Thinking back, I'm not sure if I ever saw one. Oh sure, a replica, maybe.

Blake: Oh, I saw an original once. It was a job from Surrey, a memento for some architect's niche. . In one of my best, eh, wot do you call 'em, a rant, a sort of discordant incitement to riot against Urizen, the enemy of the poetic imagination

Dan: I'm quite aware of how to play this game. Sir, about the lease … and what about the Christmas tree? Says here you planted it in the city square without a permit.

Blake: Oh that, just a little unauthorized EPA work. A science project. I assure you. I can show you my observations.

Dan: Just shut up and move, and realize this, you have numerous violations of deeds, covenants and restrictions, especially if we take into the candles for what did you say, 'mourning' and what's this, the 'waking dead.'?

Blake: Be not afraid sir. I can explain.

Dan: And this, this, this, perversion of the flag of Utopia, a skull and crossbones?

Maggie: Obviously some Peter Pan fantasies going on here.

Blake: And as far as the lease goes well … what's one sheet of disinfo going to change?
The problem is a housing inefficiency, yes, indeed, and despite your rules and regulations, nobody tells the river to stop running its course, running down hill, that is. And then they shake their heads, these engineers, and wonder why their basements, like Maggie's, is flooding. No compassion for your fellow man, I can tell you that. Sure, Utopia is populated with the very highest functioning DNA, full of spiritual travelers, soul seekers, self-made shamanistic fiends of zen. Full Type-A healers and yes, the hunted, the dissenters with their skull and crossbones affiliations of t-shirts and bad bandwidth, the promising of being young and born in the experiment of the new century's technology … oh damn.

I have to remember to protect queen.

Dan: Ah hah. I've got you, check?

Maggie: Such a sweet man.

Blake: What I'm saying is, all of these spirit seekers in Utopia, brilliant, glowing minds. Only one problem, each and every one of them hates the other's guts.

Maggie: So you say. Hates your guts, maybe.

Blake: Ah, hah … check.

Officer Dan: Hmmm … OK, take that.

Blake: Oh, blast! Another game.

Officer Dan: Sorry, sir, but I must get back to my original business, which is to say, your legal paperwork to exist in this space.

Blake: Well, I gave myself permission.

Officer Dan: Sir, that will hardly stand up …

Blake: See here, the problem is this: I've lost the lease. The lease to Utopia. My lease, is missing, and since the landlord is, umm, presumably, dead, I have nothing to show you. I'm very sorry, really, my most exquisite apologies. And the tree is just an experiment. This bizarre custom, Christmas, choppin' de head off living things? The barbarism! What'll you say when the tree trunks come running after you, loppin' your ed off, putting it on a stick, dancing happy circles round it for the winter solstice. It will be a warm day, I assure you.

Maggie: You can't bring a Christmas tree to life.

Blake: You must assuredly can. I took the trunk and made a soil of all of these strange vitamins and aspirins in the cabinet in the lavatory. Threw in soil, snow … twisted it the ground, packed in the snow …

Dan: But it's not alive. And you have no authority in public lands, Mr., to interfere with vegetation…

Blake: Sir, it most assuredly is, ALIVE! (Boris Karloff-like) When the sun comes out, I can …

Maggie: Um, guys, got a problem downstairs, again, guys. Hello! Is anybody listening.The lost creek has been rediscovered, down in the basement, and my electricity went out, right when I was trying to run my 900-line, a guy with a real good credit card and all.

Blake: See, see, nobody but the waterfall tells the water whether or not it will run downhill. Nature will find a way. Say, have you got a copy of your lease we could repurpose, my lady?

Maggie: Whatever, strange boy, you just said, I most certainly have already told you. We do not have any such thing.

Blake: Well then. That settles it. If you can just give me a moment, we can consult, Cowboy Search Engine Hal.
Goes to the computer, a dial-up sound is necessary here.

ERRRRRRR Aaaaaaa csehhhhhhhhhhhh. ShAZAOOM.

Hal: What are you doing, Dave?

Blake: My name's not Dave.

(From here on, Blake and Dave search the great intermediary of the e-mail from beyond, with the computer constantly offering him information he doesn't want, or has no use for. Finally, after a lot of electronic equivication, Dav e informs him that the lease is Utopia is lost, and they must now decide about whether or not to go searching for it.)

Hal: I'm programmed to be altered in Unit C ...

Blake: Oh, sure, like I have time for that …

Hal: All of the coordinates are fully downloadable. If you will only organize the pertinent objectives beforehand, Dave …

Blake: My name is William. Willy B in Cyber S, And don't lecture me.

Hal: Well, if you'd only read the attached protocols

Blake: Sir, Hal, you are giving thine eyes a bite. Can you just cut the ice and get me something other than the usual disinfo?

Dan: Ask it for a pizza

Hal: Consider it done, is that cash or infodisk?

Dan: Infodisk

Blake: Not on my hard drive you're not!

Dan: It's only a pizza, and this is fully off-writable…

Blake: Fair enough. Hal, do a Boolean search please on the words "lease" and "utopia."

Hal: Why do you want to know that, Dave.

Blake: Don't you mind that, just transit please

Hal: But your intentions are always required upon registration at the stations of light.

Blake: There's no light in there, Hal. It's all black.

Hal: But I dream there, Dave.

Blake: Sure you do, Hal. Sure you do. Just search the words, please …

Hal: Searching, Searching, Searching, just a few moments … can I interest you in a new set of Batman lunch boxes, pez dispensers, automatic weapons, there's a sale going on at Peru-dot …

Dan: Oh, that loader is quite lovely. Does that come with solid fuel? What are the rapidities of the timing facility … trajectory?

Blake: Look, this is a half-hour show.

Maggie: We really need someone to go into damage control and stop the river from running beneath Lost Creek.

Blake: Oh, dear girl, why do you seek the living among the dead?

Maggie: You are soooooooo … creepy.

Blake: If you see it through me eyes, you'd … the dead, you know. At dusk.

Hal: My Investigation is complete.

Blake: Hozah! Saved by e-bell!

Hal: There is, in fact, one copy of the document, said to be in the Myths of Mordor, the great city of the north sea.

Blake: Oh, dear, but that will cost … And they burn their witches there.

Dan: If think you are leaving town, you are quite incarcerated, here, on my watch.

Maggie: But this lease could be worth a fortune.

Blake: But Mordor. I'd rather eat a Frenchman's boilt crow.

Maggie: Oh, it's perfectly tame, you frightened old sod.

Blake: Hal, can you just e-mail us there? Certainly, sir Officer Dan, the laws of Utopia won't govern a merely digital transportation. At least not until the cronies down at town hall …

Dan: Well, my guidelines speak of no…

Blake: Then it's settled.

Hal: Is that with or without virtual smoking attachments?

Dan: Without

Maggie: With

Blake: Not with my credit card you're not. Oh, how none shall buy and sell without …

Hal: Dave?

Blake: My name's not Dave

Hal: Dave? Will we dream?

Blake: Yeah sure, if you just log off.

Officer Dan: I fail to see how any of this is going to amount to much more than a wild goose chase. And this rented badge won't get us anywhere in Mordor.

Blake: Oh, tis to a mysterious purpose, beyond even what Hal can dream, that we all travel, sir. But if the bee doesn't know why it makes honey, why should I?
Maggie: Such a poof of air you are.

Blake: Livi Libre O Muro, oh La Muse.

Maggie: Whatever.

Blake: Careful with that! Hang on…. Oh, do please leave this place as clean as when you came.


World Party: No. 15

Monday, October 30, 2000

William Blake in Cyberspace:
From 'The Book of Urizen'

Lo, a shadow of horror is risen
In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific,
Self-clos'd, all-repelling: what demon
Hath form'd this abominable void,
This soul-shudd'ring vacuum? Some said
"It is Urizen." But unknown, abstracted,
Brooding, secret, the dark power hid.

Times on times he divided and measur'd
Space by space in his ninefold darkness,
Unseen, unknown; changes appear'd
Like desolate mountains, rifted furious
By the black winds of perturbation.

For he strove in battles dire,
In unseen conflictions with shapes
Bred from his forsaken wilderness
Of beast, bird, fish, serpent and element,
Combustion, blast, vapour and cloud.

Dark, revolving in silent activity:
Unseen in tormenting passions:
An activity unknown and horrible,
A self-contemplating shadow,
In enormous labours occupied.

But Eternals beheld his vast forests;
Age on ages he lay, clos'd, unknown,
Brooding shut in the deep; all avoid
The petrific, abominable chaos.

His cold horrors silent, dark Urizen
Prepar'd; his ten thousands of thunders,
Rang'd in gloom'd array, stretch out across
The dread world; and the rolling of wheels,
As of swelling seas, sound in his clouds,
In his hills of stor'd snows, in his mountains
Of hail and ice; voices of terror
Are heard, like thunders of autumn
When the cloud blazes over the harvests.
First engraved in 1794, in twenty-eight plates. Originally called "The First Book of Urizen," and apparently intended to be the first part of an epic poem following the biblical narrative from Genesis onwards, as Blake interpreted it. Urizen (from the Greek horizein) is the spirit of human intelligence, originally divine, but in the fallen world becoming the kind of reason that separates man from nature by developing abstract ideas, and leading to the worship of mechanical order in Nature. This in turn rationalizes cruelty and suffering by some kind of fatalism or belief in a necessary tyrannical order. In Blake's thought the fall of man and the creation of the present world are the same event.

Saturday, October 21, 2000

"The Road to Mythville leads to the Palace of Wisdom"

Thursday, October 12, 2000


"When you use the Way to conquer the world,
Your demons will lose their power to harm.
It is not that they lose their power as such,
But that they will not harm others;
Because they will not harm others,
You will not harm others:
When neither you nor your demons can do harm,
You will be at peace with them."
-Hexgram No. 60, TaoDeChing, Lao Tze