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Children sing Oh Canada! wearing masks

It’s Time to Stop Wearing Masks

In this paper, David Solway illustrates with exquisite detail that there is no evidence that wearing non-medical masks during the Covid-19 “pandemic” provides any protection against infection. Quite the contrary, mask wearing may in fact increase the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. Saying so, however, is sure to land you in hot water on social media and among the general public. Pictured above: One of the more disturbing images from the Covid-19 lockdowns has been this one of mask-muzzled grade 3 schoolchildren signing their national anthem.

I refuse to wear a mask. I believe, as many people do—but not enough to make a wrinkle in the vast bubble of mass delusion—that masks are largely ineffective. But the consequences of holding to this belief and appearing in public without a mask can be quite unpleasant.

My experience in the streets and shops of my city will be familiar to those who feel as I do. The masked give me a wide berth. Others stare balefully from the only exposed part of their faces. On occasion I find myself in confrontation with those who believe I am a “spreader” to be mocked, shamed, condemned and threatened.

COVID Rage is all the rage. And I am always astounded by the level of ignorance wedded to self-righteousness among the unvisaged, the tendency to follow the diktats of their political leaders and government appointed medical officers without question and to accept implicitly the reports of a suborned media apparatus. The lack of common sense and the unwillingness to conduct independent research are truly staggering, if entirely predictable. Instead of herd immunity, we have herd mentality.

Masks are not only unsightly, even grotesque, but they obscure proper articulation—I rarely understand what these people are trying to say—and eliminate all signs of personality. One feels one is trapped inside a particularly lurid Zombie movie.

More importantly, masks are generally useless. The weave and filter are not resistant to the miniscule COVID virion. Wearing masks has been compared to setting up a chain-link fence to keep out flies. Former naval surgeon Dr. Lee Merritt has done the research. Viruses are passed by tiny micron particles, she explains, “that sneak out through the mask and around the mask.” As Merritt points out, the popular meme of “viral load,” which masks are said to reduce, is misleading; it takes only one COVID micron and a compromised immune system to trigger the infection. So much for director of the HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Monica Ghandi’s argument that masks significantly reduce ingestion of viral particles, and that masking can make you “less sick.” A mask is not a silver bullet, it is a blank cartridge.

We might note that the more sophisticated N-95 masks, which are used by medical personnel, provide insecure protection. Medical Life Sciences tells us that the diameter of a COVID particle ranges from 60 to 140 nanometers (nm) and that N-95 masks are non-functional under 100 nm, rendering them only 50 per cent effective at best. As founder of American Frontline Doctors Simone Gold states: “The facts are not in dispute: (cloth) masks are completely irrelevant in blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” N-95s bring their own problems, as noted below. (Naturally, she has been roundly attacked by “medical cancel culture.”)

Face mask or adult diaper?

Droplets are apparently another matter, being larger than aerosols and thus impeded by masks, whether on the receiving or emitting end. A little common sense tells us that droplets evaporate and the particles hitching a ride on them remain to be breathed in or out. Moreover, a Cambridge Core study concludes that “any mask, no matter how efficient at filtration or how good the seal, will have minimal effect if it is not used in conjunction with other preventative measures, [including] regular hand hygiene.” Since wearers are frequently adjusting their masks, regular hand hygiene is by no means practical or possible. Aerosols or droplets, same difference.

But there is another side to the problem. Science Daily, citing a study conducted at the University of New South Wales, indicates that “cloth masks can be dangerous to your health.” This is also true for the much-hyped N-95. Prolonged wearing is likely to cause hypoxia (diminished oxygen supply). The masker breathes in his own CO2, leading in some cases to grogginess and even somnolence—the reason birds in winter conserve energy and warmth and sleep at night by tucking their heads under their wings.

People who drive masked are asking for trouble. People who wear masks for extended periods are at risk. Hypoxia can also lead to a condition of immune cell dysfunction. The immunologic consequences can be critical, causing neurological damage and rendering the individual susceptible to whatever pathogens are lurking in his own system or in the air around him. This alone is a reason not to wear masks—and certainly not for excessive periods. Even the more reliable surgical masks must be changed frequently. (Plastic face shields are no solution since the larger surface area acts as a storehouse for the viral molecule.)

Obviously, the pro-and-con controversy over the efficacy of masks is particularly contentious. Political and professional reputations are at stake, especially in journals and institutions with a distinctive leftist bias. Politics will mostly trump science, and the common observer must be scrupulously careful in evaluating evidence.

In Quebec, Canada as elsewhere, the state regards its citizens as children, as evinced in this poster explaining how to properly wear a mask, displayed at Georges-Vanier Metro Station in Montreal.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that trusted data sources like the W.H.O.The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Lancet are profoundly compromised and have been compelled to revise or retract some of their studies and surveys. But it is interesting to note that The Center for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) finds that “despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks…assuming 20% asymptomatics and a risk reduction of 40% for wearing masks, 200,000 people would need to wear one to prevent one new infection per week.” 

Timothy Taylor at Conversable Economist points to many random controlled trial studies that “do not find a reason to wear a mask.”Wired magazine is also ambivalent regarding data, stating: “the research literature on mask usage doesn’t provide definitive answers. There are no large-scale clinical trials proving that personal use of masks can prevent pandemic spread; and the ones that look at masks and influenza have produced equivocal results.” 

Such a “large scale clinical trial” has, in fact, just been conducted. A major Danish controlled study involving 6000 participants, the only study of its kind, has been predictably rejected by three medical journals. One of the researchers, Thomas Lars Benfield, states that publication will have to wait until “a journal is brave enough to accept the paper.” The Lancet, among others, won’t touch it, as is to be expected. Reviewing the travesty, Conservative Review editor Daniel Horowitz wonders “how many other scientific and academic studies covering an array of very consequential policy questions rooted in scientific debate are being censored because they don’t fit the narrative of the political elites?” And indeed, why is NIAID Director Anthony Fauci disinclined to pursue a controlled study on the effectiveness of masks? Of course, like CNN journalist Chris Cuomo and Canada’s Minister of Health Patty HajduFauci was spotted not wearing a mask in public. Do as I say, not as I do.

By the same token, Bioengineer Yinon Weiss at The Federalist shows via data comparison and representative graphs of seven European countries and three American states that renewed mask compliance has led to an exponential spike in infection rates, in some cases by as much as 1500 percent. Weiss cites major international studies, as well as the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control, revealing the ineffectiveness of commercial masks. Masks, lockdowns and quarantine protocols merely delay the development of herd immunity and are practically guaranteed to prolong the epidemic. Nevertheless, fear not only of the disease but also of punitive measures and of being conspicuous dissenters exposed to social opprobrium are operative factors.

“Behind our masks, let’s keep smiling!” So says this state-issued poster at Snowdon Metro Station in Montreal. In other words: “Put on your mask and like it!”

Mask hysteria seems primed to continue. Psychiatrist Dr. Mark McDonald calls the standard response to the virus “a pandemic of hysteria…a delusional psychosis…It is killing us physically, mentally, socially, psychologically.” Masks dehumanize us and make us timid and afraid, vulnerable to the designs of our political masters seeking, as Weiss writes, “to twist the pandemic for political and electoral purposes.”

The situation has grown even more perverse. We seem to have reached a point where government propaganda and coercion are no longer necessary. People have become the servants and enablers of the state, having by and large internalized the official compulsion and are now their own stringent monitors and self-appointed mask police—the final ingredient in the time-tested recipe for totalitarian control. Swallow the lie. Become the lie. Enforce the lie.

At best, mask wearing should be discretionary. If you wish to wear a mask, no one can legally prevent you from doing so. But some things are clear. Masks should not be mandated by political authority since: (1) the requirement to do so is an infringement of the Charter rights of free citizens living in a democratic state; (2) masks are largely, and perhaps in most cases wholly, ineffective; and (3) they can be demonstrably harmful to one’s health and the health of other people.

Ironically, mask wearing is the real risk, not only delaying or preventing the development of immunity while inducing a false sense of comfort, but also acting as a disease incubator, and a conceivable threat to non-maskers. A highly qualified friend who has diligently studied the virus for the last six months writes me: “Mask wearers are becoming an additional potential source of environmental contamination, increasing not only their own but the risk to others.”

I do my best to avoid maskers, although it is difficult considering the numbers.


David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. His most recent volume of poetry The Herb Garden appeared in spring 2018 with Guernica Editions. A partly autobiographical prose manifesto Reflections on Music, Poetry & Politics was released by Shomron Press in spring 2016. A CD of his original songs Blood Guitar and Other Tales appeared in 2016 and a second CD Partial to Cain accompanied by his pianist wife Janice Fiamengo appeared in June of this year. Solway continues to write for American political sites such as PJ Media, American Thinker and WorldNetDaily. His latest book Notes from a Derelict Culture (Black House, 2019) was delisted from Amazon as of Sunday December 13, 2020.

Children snitching on their parents portends social collapse

A Metaphysics of Social Collapse

Is a culture on the brink of social collapse when it begins authorizing its children to snitch on their parents? Pictured above: a screenshot from an episode of The Rubin Report after Tuesday November 24, 2020, when Vermont Governor Phil Scott ordered schools to interrogate children for the purpose of assessing whether their parents had broken Thanksgiving lockdown rules. Meanwhile, during a news conference earlier on Sunday March 29, 2020, Montreal mayor Valerie Plante and police Chief Sylvain Caron encouraged residents to snitch on neighbours breaking lockdown rules. “If there is a situation that is happening close to your home and it is abnormal. . .like if you hear a gathering with loud music, what we’re asking people is to warn us.”

Due to fraud and incompetence, the public loses faith in the fourth estate, a critical pillar of our democracy. All information is cast in doubt. The authorities have arranged their data; and the people who analyse the data for themselves have other ideas. Tension grows between the governing and the governed. A rift is growing between the herdsmen and the herd. We face a crisis of belief, a crisis of trust. We grew up being warned away from ever establishing a police state, yet here it is. The question becomes, What sort of social order may be carved out of such a situation? Scarier perhaps, we must face the Corporate Feudalism that quietly crossed the Rubicon some decades ago.

Typical, how civilizations unravel: they formalize and establish a system of doing things (of procedures, protocols)—this happens in all arenas of human activity (i.e. professionalization, gentrification, canonization, colonialisation, legalism, feudalism, Marxism. . .). The metaphysical premise may or may not be true—and this conundrum is often acknowledged, only to be dismissed because the premise (whatever it might be) is generally deemed in some way to be “obvious” to anyone with eyes and a modicum of imagination. The premise, however (as history bears out), is invariably incomplete. With time it develops into a perception utterly fanciful and with very little correlation to reality. Such a schism between perception and reality engenders psychological agony and social upheaval. Procedure and protocol, however, lock out dissenters and lock in the nightmare. Without fail, some form of brutality ensues.

A culture unravels inevitably because it takes its paradigm, worldview, metaphysic, first principles to their logical conclusion through a deductive process, a reductio ad absurdum, at which point the society loses coherence, goes mad and thereby loses credibility. Summarily, it is perceived to have been barbaric, and is judged mercilessly, often resulting in violence and war.

Let’s be more specific. A culture establishes first principles to form a baseline that the group takes to be common sense: let’s say. . . Jesus is our saviour; we eat God as sacrament. In fact the magical blessings of priests make God literally flesh and blood through a transformation of bread and wine. Therefore, we eaters of God should make everybody just like us. After all, we possess the only true Truth (in our guts). God wants us to be good people. We should turn the other cheek and not fight but love our neighbours—well, at least most of them. You’re a born sinner and suffering is your lot unless you’re saved. To be saved, the priests have to pray for your soul after you die. So make sure you pay them well even though lucre has nothing whatsoever to do with matters spiritual. In fact paying off priests is as bad as sinning gets, but do it anyway just in case and call it charity. Whatever else, be a good person. Here are the ideals you should live up to: be honourable, courageous, loyal, chaste, humble, moderate, loving, generous, charitable and helpful. When you fail to live up to these values, sit in a box and feel shame for a few minutes. Jesus passes on the Holy Spirit with the laying on of the hands, and the Spirit is passed along like a social disease through touching—(some touching may unfortunately lead to an embarrassing fall from grace, not that kind of touching)—touching from generation to generation through time so that you get Jesus by contact, and in a way you become a smidgen of attenuated Jesus. Ergo, as the people of the Spirit, we must defend The Holy Land against the infidels; let us go out among the heathen and slaughter them.

The reasoning may seem a trifle weak in retrospect, but in its day, this was the stuff of scholarship and the daily porridge and mainstay the majority chewed. They made it their bread and their mortar and cement. It found expression in the ornate architecture, the attention to beauty, to ornamentation, celebration of successes and victories, and pride in one’s works and social standing.

It could easily have been an absurd reduction from the no more reasonable Age of Reason. For instance, the first principles assume that the universe is like a machine. We see machines all around us and they function according to an engineered system. Therefore God is a Watchmaker and Mighty Engineer. Let’s call Him The Supreme Being. Actually, correction: the whole orderly design emerged accidentally out of an accident. We don’t know how, but here’s a story (hem! a hypothesis, hem! a theory) we’ll make up and call “science” because that’s what reasonable (rather than superstitious) folks call their cogitations. In short, by Occam’s Razor, God is superfluous to our hypothesis. In fact only primitives believe in God or anything that does not appear to the eye or appeal to the fingers. Therefore forget millennia of wisdom and ethical thought and put your faith in money. Consequently you’ll need insurance for your salvation. Consequently your safety is the highest priority. Consequently you’re grounded and under house arrest indefinitely; it’s safer and cheaper that way. Meanwhile, we are engineering a master race that will live forever because we’re taking over the unmysterious processes of accidental mutation without design that resulted in outstanding complex design accidentally. Actually, cancel that: we’re working on a master intelligence based on special bean-counting algorithms. All of History is about power and money, the control of resources, the means of production. Therefore competition is key to your spiritual perfection. Learn to resent your neighbour for the privilege of his race, ancestry, gender and sexual orientation. Nurture a jealousy of those who have more wealth because healthy, rational folk measure themselves in dollars. Purchase physical enhancement surgeries that make you look like a lizard-person in a human bodysuit. Everyone should look perfect and clean. Therefore you must wear a mask that hides your face. Uniqueness is primitive. Don’t say “primitive”; that’s offensive. Well, uniqueness is offensive. Those who will not be free of their own free will, will be forced to be free. Thus spake Jean Jacques Rousseau early on in the establishment of this new ethical experiment.

The cultural story need not be coherent; it is never more than a jumble of semi-apprehensions and deductive riffs on the first principles or underlying assumptions. Those who perceive the lack of cohesion are the poets, the visionaries, prophets. They believe all can see what they see; but a metaphysic is a blind like the kind they put on horses. The group becomes enchanted, falls under a spell of righteousness and pious habits. It becomes a herd of administrators. The keys to unlocking the gates of this prison are Beauty and Metaphor. The making and reading of metaphor and symbol reveal the shakiness of any ground upon which we establish first principles. Awaiting always on the horizon is a new reading, a new significance, a new formulation, a novel analogy adumbrating a previously unperceived relationship, an undiscovered purpose; we stand without ground beneath our feet; we stand in the precipice, held aloft by the vital, creative energy of Evolution.


Asa Boxer’s poetry has garnered several prizes and is included in various anthologies around the world. His books are The Mechanical Bird (Signal, 2007), Skullduggery (Signal, 2011), Friar Biard’s Primer to the New World (Frog Hollow Press, 2013), Etymologies (Anstruther Press, 2016), and Field Notes from the Undead (Interludes Press, 2018). Boxer is also a founder of and editor at The Secular Heretic.

π and human suffering

Rede-phi-ning π: On Measuring a Circle

The following investigation is a product of the ongoing scientific inquiry ‘whence human suffering?‘, the same encountering a critical need to call into serious question the long-standing pi (π) “approximation” methodology (ie. of exhaustion) first employed by Archimedes (late, c. 287 – c. 212 BCE), and then by mathematicians and scientists ever since.

To begin, the author draws attention to an important inquiry: ‘ does π ever naturally emerge as a product of a square? ‘ If so, it must be measureably so such to negate any/all need/inclining for “approximation” methodology(s) employing the use of multiple straight-edged polygons. Now consider the quadratic:

x² – x – 1 = 0

and find it to have positive solution x = (1+√5)/2 which, as the reader may recognize, is the so-called golden ratio (hence: Φ). By expressing Φ in/on a base of 2π (thus generally applicable to rotational motion):

Φ = (π+π√5)/2π = 1.618…

and then squaring:

Φ² = (3π+π√5)/2π = 2.618…

we find a numerator difference (being a matter) of a discrete :

Φ² – Φ = /2π

and so we have an answer to the former inquiry: 2π discretely emerges as a natural product of a square (if/when based on the same).

Concerning Φ: there are non-trivial (universally unique) properties it possesses as intrinsic – it is the only positive number (irrational, no less) whose reciprocal is precisely one less than itself:

                                                Φ = (1+√5)/2 = 1.618...
                                                1/Φ = (Φ – 1) = 0.618...

and (as we previously encountered) Φ is the only positive number whose own square is precisely one greater than itself:

                                                Φ = (1+√5)/2 = 1.618...
                                                Φ² = (Φ + 1) = 2.618...

If π is a natural product of a square, we must be able to utilize the geometry implied by Φ such to precisely measure this emergent π and, importantly: do so without the need/inclining for”approximation”

Prior to this endeavor, the author implores the reader to suspend (if even temporarily) any/all hitherto taken-to-be-true notions concerning π: both quantitative and qualitative.

The square is composed of four equal sides whose interior angles are four right angles. The circle is composed of four symmetrical quarters whose axial radii also compose four right angles. By way of inscribing a circle of diameter d = 1 (equiv.: r = 1/2) inside the unit square s = 1, we find four axially situated points (D₁₋₄ shown above) dividing the circumference of the circle into four equal quarters (each c/4 wherein c = π). These four critical points both simultaneously and geometrically correlate the r = 1/2 circle with the unit square s = 1. Further, these same points compose the square whose side lengths are equal to the reciprocal of √2 viz. s = 1/√2, noting:

1/√2 = √2/2

By extending any two opposite sides of the unit square s = 1, we obtain the remaining constituents of Φ: √5 (as the diagonal of the emergent 2×1 rectangle) and (a division by) 2. This extension of the unit square can be performed on both sides wherein the 8 vertices of both 2×1 rectangles can be used to compose another larger circle whose diameter is equal to their own √5 diagonal:

By extending the √5 diameter circle in all directions by one (1) discrete unit, we find the real geometric basis underlying the circumference of the r = 1/2 circle (such to measure):

Upon one full rotation, D (= Φ) incessantly coincides with the full circumference of the r = 1/2 circle while”kissing” each of the four sides of the unit square equidistantly. The real geometric square underlying this relation can be obtained arithmetically via:

wherein the irrational √Φ has an underlying magnitude(s) of ±1.27201964… and whose own reciprocal (normalizing to 1) is:

If/when plotting the first three powers of Φ (as they relate to the geometry we are presently working with):        

the square of the golden ratio can be seen to geometrically coincide with a real diameter (2r) of a real circle in real relation to a real square(s) of equal area – the emphasis on real being as (in) contrast to “transcendental”. A real circumference of a real circle (ie. π) can not possibly be “transcendental” if possessing a real geometric radius. The area of the inscribed square (whose vertices are D₁₋₄ as shown) is equal to the radius of the circle viz. r = 1/2 = s². 

We began by correlating the four right angles of the square to the four axial radii of the circle, the latter dividing π into four symmetrical quarters (each π/4). We observed the four associated axial points to simultaneously correlate the square s = 1 with the circle r = 1/2 and found them vertices of the square s² = 1/2. We also found how the real circumference of the r = 1/2 circle naturally emerges by way of a rotational motion utilizing the real geometry implied by Φ. 

We may now obtain the exact circumference of the r = 1/2 circle by observing the nature of the relationship between √Φ and π/4:

                                              π ≠ 3.14159265358979...
                                            (human approximation error)
                                             Line and curve are resolutely
                                                  reciprocally related:
                                                         1/√Φ= π/4
                                          ...from Φ's own root is derived π..."

The author wishes to impart that Archimedes’ “approximation” methodology catastrophically misses an entire constituency of the circle (albeit small, non-trivially so). A real, symmetrical 1000mm diameter circle will certainly have a real circumference greater than ~3141.6mm (ie. the latter is too short). Should this ever become a source of dispute, the author suggests a simple experiment such to resolve: actually measure a real 1000mm diameter circle, and should it discretely measure (any) more than c = 3141.6mm, the same would resolutely demonstrate the deficiency of a “transcendental” π of 3.14159… as 4/√Φ is a real root of an integral function:

f(x) = x⁴ + 16x² – 256

It is the opinion of the author that the very notion π is somehow “transcendental” (let alone “proven” to be so) is absurd. A real circle is composed of a real radius relating four discretely real  loci. While the “approximated” number of 3.14159… is indeed “transcendental,” it is so for a simple reason: it is not really π, but an “approximation” of π deficient from the thousandth decimal place. Because Φ is geometric, π follows, as from the root of the former do we derive the latter naturally by way of reciprocity viz. 1/√Φ = π/4.

As for the golden ratio: the author suggests stripping it of any/all exotic and/or esoteric notions, and rather focus on the real underlying mechanics (ie. the practicality of the relation): Φ naturally couples terminating rationals with non-terminating irrationals and perpetually suspends their sum on a rational base of 2, giving rise to the universally unique (properties of the) Φ ratio.

The geometric union of Φ and π is reflected in/as the above integral function: the real/imaginary roots reflect a discrete rational integer difference of ’16’. The real element is imperatively fixed to the ratio of 1/2 as this constitutes the real, scalar constituency of a real circle, the same 1/2 to be found in/of:

                                                     1/2 + √5/2 =
                                        ("real" terminating rational)
                                                           +
                              ("imaginary" non-terminating irrational

In other words: all real circumferences of all real circles resolutely possess a real, scalable base of 1/2 (such to scale from) and only the golden ratio permits/employs such a universal scalability

Thus as it concerns the outstanding Riemann Hypothesis problem; in particular, the underlying question: 

“for which s does ζ(s) = 0?”

the problem (ie. question) is outstanding due to the catastrophically culprit “approximation” (ie. deficieny) of π. In short: Euler’s famous solution to the Basel problem such to derive a ζ(2) involves a sin(x)/x relation, thus implies (radians in terms of) a π of 3.14159… 

While the solution fits a mathematically constructed “reality” upon a “transcendental” π of 3.14159… the real unrecognized problem is the real, physical universe does not employ such an “approximated” (let alone “transcendental”) π. For this reason, the hypothesis itself is not (only) a problem, but in reality a symptom of a much deeper underlying problem (hithertomeasurable over a span of at least ~2200 years): a deficient π as due to a deficient “approximation” methodology.

The underlying magnitude of such a blunder of millenia compels the author to sympathetically hypothesize: the Riemann Hypothesis problem will not be solved until humanity consciously acknowledges the underlying “approximation” deficiency in/of a π of 3.14159… 

Finally, as for the concerned inquiry ‘whence human suffering?‘, though the real underlying root lies beyond the limited scope of this investigation, for the purposes of the latter alone (suffice it to say): as a natural consequence of a more general failure(s) to incessantly challenge basic underlying assumptions (incl. and esp. the bases of any/all oustanding “beliefs”), human beings suffer knowing not how to (properly) measure a circle, as:

π ≠ 3.14159…

                                                        π/4 = 1/√Φ
                                                         π = 4/√Φ
                                                         π2 = 16/Φ
                                                         16 = Φπ2
                                                        (e = MC2)
                                                        1 = Φπ2/16
                                                        1 = Φ(π/4)2

π is ∴ not “transcendental” (!)

such an endeavor rationally provides a real means to discern what is real from what is not (the same needed to discern a real π from an imaginary “transcendental” one). Whereas the latter is a measure of millenia of human ignorance, the former rationally clarifies the universal constancy of both: Φ and π (not as two, but as one).


J.F. Meyer is a pseudonym for the author of this paper who wishes to remain anonymous. The inquiry ‘whence human suffering?’ began as a personal inquiry into the suffering of someone the author refers to as “Isha”. She and her family were displaced from Iraq due to ongoing wars in that region. By circumstance, the author happened to meet Isha, and she eventually imparted to the author her own childhood experiences as involving: being sexually exploited (ie. raped) as a very young child; being forced into an “arranged” marriage wherein she was physically abused to the point she had to flee; being disowned for her choice to marry someone her family did not approve of due to “religious” reasons; being used as added “incentive” for a family business transaction (as a wife/concubine) etc. There is much more to this underlying reality precipitating the inquiry, but suffice it to say: as the author looked deeper for the real root(s) of the suffering of Isha, they found not only what underlies her own suffering, but the (same) suffering of many others. It was for this reason the inquiry naturally evolved from a personalized ‘whence her suffering?’ to a more generalized ‘whence human suffering?’ and is examined according to a scientific methodology(s), the results of which are contained in/as a practical theorem to be made publicly available on the ThinkSpot platform in the near future. The author concludes by stating that now the reader can “perhaps…better understand my wish to abstain from biographical notes: there is nothing of myself that merits any attention before those like Isha, as the latter is the reason for the endeavor entirely.”

Tao master Hanshan, purported creator of Chinese "Cold Mountain" poetry

“Following Hanshan” by Fenyang Shanzhao

Montreal-based writer and translator Chris Byrne offers these new, original translations of nine “Imitations of Hanshan” poems by Fenyang Shanzhao, a Zen master who played a central role in developing “literary Zen” during the Song Renaissance (960-1279 AD) in China, widely considered a golden age of art and culture in Chinese history. Pictured above: Hanshan (left), Fenggan (middle), and Shide (right), Triptych on hanging silk scrolls, Ueno Jakugen, 18th century, Japan.

Gary Snyder’s lively translations of Hanshan (Cold Mountain), along with their fictional account in Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, have since inspired numerous poets and translators to mimic Hanshan’s raw poetic style. Most are unaware, however, of their participation in a millennium-old tradition of composing Cold Mountain verses.

Chinese Zen master Fenyang Shanzhao (942-1024), or “Master No-Virtue,” was one of the first to appreciate Hanshan’s literary wit and eccentric wisdom. He follows Hanshan in identifying self with place—yet makes it his own. His verses locate the solitude and remoteness of Hanshan’s dwelling in the Tiantai mountain range to the South within his own mental and physical home ground, invoking the metaphor of the path that leads nowhere but here.

(1)

The path to my home is not far away—
      a golden bridge right here in a golden realm.
along the fragrant ridge, a grove of fluttering flowers,
      the misty fog melted upon the sun.
clear and cool, one thousand valleys are still
in the vermilion court—ten thousand worthy nobles
       I laugh Cold Mountain’s laugh,
       as the Zen master labors right under foot.
(2)

my entire body is Cold Mountain—
              only able to nurture sleep.
clinging apes in the lofty mountains above,
              a tiger set loose along the edge of the stony creek,
flowers dispersed by the fragrant breeze,
              crisp pines poking out of the fine mist.
The path through the thinning bamboo wears me down—
              this must be the land of immortals!
(3)

        the vermilion sun rises in the East,
        rosy clouds unfolding into a single expanse of light.
bright and clear, the differentiations of the ten thousand things,
pure and clean, the bubbling current along the ridge.
       butterflies dance amidst a grove of fluttering flowers,
       orioles cry within the lush, misty willows.
Who can know these feelings
        that make me think of you in the South?
(4)

Rain falls, moistening the fields,
     the wind rattles, chilling the pines.
People these days all head to the marketplace,
     while this old mountain man sleeps in his hut.
Like drunks, they don’t understand,
     like fools, they just straighten their hair.
When this white-faced macaque howls,
     a frightened pair of apes comes out.
(5)

Master No-Virtue lives on the West River,
          a lot of wild inspirations in his mind.
Across the vast emptiness of this wide world,
         rippling rivers braided between its oceans and peaks.
I sit alone, thinking of the one who knows me,
at the sound of the bell, my fine-feathered friends gather around.
         When I want to speak words that never end,
          I clasp my hands and laugh—ha! ha!
(6)

The trail marked with fortune and bliss
              is long from the start—
clouds emerge from the edge of the empty sky,
              rain squalls, filling pools and ponds.
In spring, birds murmuring and mumbling,
In autumn, geese scurrying to and fro.
          Who else could know these thoughts?
          I alone must cultivate Fenyang.
(7)

A land seeded, naturally grows high,
            you must know this one bit of truth.
Even if you study the ultimate from now to eternity,
            dust will remain in the illuminated darkness.
At the frontier, the wind and frost come fast,
            within the vast sky, the rain and dew return.
Though far away within the Tiantai range,
            you are still right next door.
(8)

In quiet solitude, I dwell within emptiness,
              where few others ever arrive.
through the window—the bright moon is still
across the doorway—the sunlight fans out
           cranes gathered in the trees of the front yard
           orioles singing from the top of my roof
Who else could attain this mind?
              I look up and gaze towards Tiantai!
(9)

Throughout the ages, when has it ever been forgotten?
            all year long—it is just within.
lush blossoms fragrant along the riverbank,
the soughing pines echoing within the creek.
      as the clouds disperse: the stillness of the three islands
      as the rain clears: the range of the five peaks
Since ages past, it’s never been hidden—
         look up at the golden realm within the blue heavens!

Chris Byrne is a translator and scholar of Chinese poetry as written by Zen monastics and Buddhist laywomen. His interdisciplinary research and translations have appeared in Philosophy East and West, International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture, and the Journal of Religion and Culture. His current projects include translating an early Zen kōan collection and completing a monograph, entitled Poetics of Silence: The Poetry of Zen Master Hongzhi Zhengjue.

Eugenio Montale

Two Poems by Eugenio Montale

Donald McGrath gives us new, original translations of two poems by Italian poet Eugenio Montale, who won the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature. Montale is pictured above on the far left, in a group photo (circa 1976) alongside Italian poets Salvatore Quasimodo and Giuseppe Ungaretti; publisher Alberto Mondadori; artists Renato Guttuso and Francesco Messina; and author and journalist Arturo Tofanelli. Image credit: Archivi Mondadori


Bring Me the Sunflower

Bring me the sunflower so I can plant
it in my salt-scorched patch of earth, so it can throw
back to the day’s reflecting blue
the anguish of its upturned, yellow face.
All dark things tend to brightness, our corporal
forms deliquesce to fluent shades, as do
shades to music. The quintessential venture
is, then, to fade from view.
Bring me the plant that leads
where fair transparencies arise, and life
evanesces to a shimmering haze.
Bring me the sunflower crazed with light.

Forse un mattino…

Perhaps some morning, out walking
in the dry, glassy air, I’ll glance back and see,
with the terror of an inebriated man,
the miracle complete, the void
at my back, nothingness
behind me
 
and suddenly,
as if on a screen, trees, houses, hills
will assemble for the usual deception, but
it will be too late, I’ll walk on, lips sealed
among men who don’t look back,
with my secret.

Donald McGrath is a Montreal-based writer and translator. He has published three poetry collections: At First Light (Wolsak and Wynn, 1995); The Port Inventory (Cormorant Books, 2012); and Montreal Before Spring (Biblioasis, 2015), a translation of L’Avant-printemps à Montréal by Québec poet Robert Melançon, who twice received the Governor General’s Poetry Award. McGrath’s poems have appeared in periodicals in Canada and abroad. His poem “Biarritz” was selected for the Web anthology of the 2012 Montreal International Poetry Prize. And his translation of Robert Melançon’s poem “Elégie écrite dans le parc Notre-Dame-de-Grâce” was the winner in the first installment of the Malahat Review’s translation competition, Les poésies francophones du Canada.

Paul Verlaine

Skating (after Verlaine)

Donald McGrath presents his new, original translation of “En patinant” (1869) by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), the renowned French fin de siècle poet. McGrath adds that “perhaps it’s more accurate to call [my translation of the poem] an adaptation since it’s a “loose” translation, meant to create an “equal music,” so to speak. It follows the original very strictly in terms of content and somewhat freely in terms of form.” Pictured above: “Paul Verlaine au café Procope” (1938) by Césare Bacchi. Image credit: Jobjoby


Skating (after Verlaine)

We were seduced, Madame, by
mutual machinations, duped,
you and I, by summer’s mayhem
pounding on our overheated craniums.
 
Spring did, of course, its little part
—if memory serves—to sow
confusion in our hearts. But
it wasn’t quite as lethal—not half so!
 
Because the air’s so fresh in spring, those
rosebuds Cupid seems so keen to open
exude innocent aromas…
—innocent, you say?  Almost!
 
And no matter how hard each lilac mouth
exhales its peppery breath into
the virginal heat—a stimulant, no doubt—
the mocking zephyr blows, routing
 
the aphrodisiac of that effluvium, and leaving
the heart idle and the mind a slate
wiped clean. Meanwhile, all five senses
join, titillated, in the fun, but each
 
on its own, entirely alone, which keeps
the malady from rising to the head. Do you
recall that weather, Madame? The superficial
kisses under blue skies, the peripheral emotions?
 
Free from the fool’s passion, full
of convivial goodwill, we
delighted in one another’s company, free
as well from grief as from enthusiasm.
 
Happy moments these… but, alas,
summer arrived and we bade
swift adieus to invigorating breezes
as our astonished souls bathed
 
in a wind voluptuously laden. Blood-red
calyxes tossed us overripe bouquets
and bad counsel’s ubiquitous boughs
rained down hard upon our heads.
 
To all of it we yielded, making a giddy daze
leading to tumultuous upheavals,
our companion through the long dog days.
Smiles, pointless smiles, ensued—as did,
 
for no apparent reason, tears, damp
despondencies, hand wringing, and
such empty heads! But fall, fortunately,
did come, cool-headed, and to the point
 
with its raw north wind, to wean us
off our bad habits, and to reinstate
us briskly in that elegance that is
the rightful claim of every blameless beau
 
and every beloved worthy of the name. Now
winter’s here, Madame; our bettors
are quaking for their purse. Already, some
dare to challenge us! But we’ll stay the course.
 
So hands in your muff, Madame, hold
on tight! Soon, Fanchon
will wreathe our heads in laurel.
So who cares what others croon?

Donald McGrath is a Montreal-based writer and translator. He has published three poetry collections: At First Light (Wolsak and Wynn, 1995); The Port Inventory (Cormorant Books, 2012); and Montreal Before Spring (Biblioasis, 2015), a translation of L’Avant-printemps à Montréal by Québec poet Robert Melançon, who twice received the Governor General’s Poetry Award. McGrath’s poems have appeared in periodicals in Canada and abroad. His poem “Biarritz” was selected for the Web anthology of the 2012 Montreal International Poetry Prize. And his translation of Robert Melançon’s poem “Elégie écrite dans le parc Notre-Dame-de-Grâce” was the winner in the first installment of the Malahat Review’s translation competition, Les poésies francophones du Canada.

Seeing Autumn by Karen Warinsky

Seeing Autumn

Incandescent, gold and red,
the world vibrates and hums
with the last of the autumn.
Carmel and rust,
sable, tan and chocolate leaves ornament the ground,
while necklaces of green and gold  
twist down off the sturdy trees.
Those trees will wait through another winter
before receiving spring’s crown again.
 
Colors and sounds blurred in my hurried life
now demanding, insistent.
Burgundy tangles top the bushes,
while spear points turn to a pale gold, then white;
tasseled heads that greet and satisfy.
 
There is sweetness in the decay,
not repellent, but comforting.
 
How strange to walk through so much beauty
and so much death
all at once. 
 
So many daily petty troubles, missteps, and lost chances
are confronted  in the face of this beauty, this ruin. 
But there remains no answer.
 
Compelled as others before me,
I sit and try to let in a piece to solve
this oldest puzzle of the world,
here in this autumn afternoon,
as all nature sheds its glory,
preparing for starker days, darker nights.

Karen Warinsky is a poet based in Connecticut. Her poem, “Roodhouse,” was long-listed in the 2011 Montreal International Poetry Prize.  Two years later she was named a finalist in the same contest with her poem, “Legacy,” and those top 50 entries were published in The Global Poetry Anthology by Véhicule Press in 2013. Since then she has had many poems published, including two in the 2017 anthology Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in Our Hands (Shabda Press, 2017); two in the Mizmor Anthology (Poetica Publishing, 2019); and other poems in a variety of literary journals.  Her first collection of verse, Gold in Autumn (Human Error Publishing, 2020), is available from Barnes & Noble or by contacting the author @KWarinsky on Twitter or on Facebook.   

Mental Health: Electroshock Therapy

Memoirs of a Captive Shaman

The following memoir explores the experiences suffered by one recently caught up in the abusive institutional network of mental health and psychiatric care. If you think the mental health field has come a long way since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, guess again. Who is deemed crazy? And by what standards? By what right? And by what right are an individual’s rights to self-development entirely suspended?

I

The systematic suppression and oppression of society’s shamans and prophets by the priestcraft of psychiatry (the gnostic hierophants of mental health), has not only been a catastrophe for these gifted individuals—some of the most luxuriously bountiful specimens of mankind—but has also been instrumental in the demolition of Western society in toto. By casting the alarm and foreboding of our most wary seers (whose sociobiological function is in fact to warn us of future peril and present injustices) as a type of ‘paranoid schizophrenia’, or other ‘mental illness’, by drugging them to prevent their apprehensions from unfurling in a positive, healthy articulation, and by locking them away in cramped, socially occluded wards, their legitimate warnings have been silenced and ignored, permitting social maladies to dig their teeth ever deeper into the social body. The precipitous social rot of the West, which many dismissed for decades as mere speculation, but which now anyone with one eye still open & more than the memory of a goldfish can see (especially in the fate of Europe, which now seems all but sealed in the erection of a new Eurasian Caliphate/Hardcore Orwellian-Control State), is a direct consequence of the practices of this grave, unholy, and incredibly cruel psychiatric Anti-Church. In other words, our present turmoil is God’s vengeance on the wicked, unspeakably callous & complacent Western population that has unwisely purged itself of those who would blast a glaring torchlight upon the menacing demons it has summoned into its midst.  

II

If you harm, punish or psychiatrically ‘treat’ a bad man, he might just re-consider his wicked ways; but if you harm, punish or ‘treat’ a good one, he is liable to re-consider his good ways.

III

The troglodytic masses, those institutionalised non-mental-patients, while all too fatuously and recklessly embracing ideologies of social ‘progress’, are in fact frightened of a true inner transformation and are thus locked into necrotic patterns. Meanwhile, the madman (remember, the etymology of the word ‘mad’ is to ‘change’) has awakened to the need for spiritual becoming, both in himself and in others.

IV

Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke tried to appeal to and foster what is called man’s rational self-preservation, inserting it above all other goals as the centerpiece and pivot of the whole of society. Notice here how the concepts of reason and self-preservation are heavily intertwined, which still remains the case today. Madness, on the other hand, is commonly associated with throwing caution to the wind, tightrope walking over a precipice just for the sheer Hell of it, and embracing a variety of dangers that may very well end in personal extinction. However, when one considers the nature of our own inevitable mortality. . .  is making self-preservation our highest goal really so rational? In order to face life in all its grim reality, is it not necessary, at some point or other, to eschew ‘rational’ self-preservation for a bold leap (if only in the imagination) towards an affirmation and embrace of this inextricable fatality? Especially if one seeks to give birth to something greater than oneself, like the Christ, and take on the grave sacrifices so often required. In other words, rather than ‘rational self-preservation’, isn’t the ability for the ‘insane self-annihilation’ of loving sacrifice an even greater sign of maturity—or of true morality? Thus also the Buddha would seem to have it, who equally, in view of the passing away of all earthly things, preached ‘Loss of self’ rather than the steady incremental Lockean accumulation of an estate that is eventually destined to perish anyway; he who is said, out of compassion, to have given his life up to be voluntarily devoured by a starving tiger. Reminds me of those ‘voluntary patients’ in the ward!

V

Rather than being allowed to live as shamans, the spiritual leaders of society, such men and women are quietly tortured in sanatoriums and cast into ignominy. Thereby society is not only deprived of its natural guiding elite, but every citizen is trained to feel a senseless (‘paranoid’) fear and hatred of their own deepest spiritual roots that prevents them re-connecting with these taboo aspects of themselves and manifesting their true potential. In truth, the true mental illness is the senseless conformity which the ‘mental health’ establishment sacralizes. This sanctified madness then, unconsciously aware of its own shortcomings, in order to sustain its own self-conception as reasonable and sane, is driven to a fervent quest to identify and persecute those it delusionally deems ‘mad’ for the sake of externalizing and thereby gaining some sense of control over its own deepest insecurities.

VI

To counteract the tide of artificial, false pretenses to expert, scientific ‘objectivity’, and the docile, herd-like conformity that actually entails within social science, within the healing professions, and within society as a whole, I propose that a personal account of one’s life-story, focusing on how one has arrived at one’s central, integral values, become a standard for all such careers. This narrative of selfhood would be a move towards bolstering the development of personality and character throughout society, preventing people from hiding entirely behind their professional veneers, and presencing the true-lived experience and actual, rather than false selves. I don’t propose this merely as a helpful task for the ‘professional’ on the way to qualifying, but as a central piece that he must present to his clients (or patients); a true curriculm vitae

VII

His greasy trousers drove her to distraction. She very nearly called the ambulance once.

Lardy da, lardy da, lardy da.

He couldn’t care less of course, until the real threats came in. But, enough of that for now.

He only ever wanted to be a star. He only ever wanted to be cultural pioneer. He wasn’t too much concerned with his exterior everyday veneer. What a crime, what a sin; your Laws, your ‘morals’ are paper thin.

“Your trousers are filthy!” She’d cry. Optimus Einstein Bartholemew II looked at his dear mother, his tender heart hurt & bewildered as usual. He was pondering the technological Singularity, & whether Hell on earth could yet be averted in his own lifetime.

“I’m only saying it because I care about you, other people notice too but just don’t say anything!”

Yes, indeed.

______________________

Albert Einstein, Bartholemew’s namesake, had been a bit absent-minded, & shabby too at times, & he was almost universally heralded as the greatest genius of the 20th Century. W. H. Auden was a notorious mucky-pup. Nietzsche even pranced around in his room naked, occasionally hammering out Wagner on his piano. Perhaps if young Optimus were allowed to parade his lackadaisical attire for once without constant nay-saying & psychological black-magic from his mother, he might actually garner something of a reputation for caring about higher things, perhaps he might be thought of as a Saint of some kind (Nietzsche himself was nicknamed ‘the little Saint’ by his housemistress, despite his rampant ‘hate speech’ against Christians… & her cooking skills), rather than a messy, naughty little boy who couldn’t take care of himself.

It’s a little bit like the Amazonian medicine men who were ridiculed & spat upon for hanging around in only laurel leaves, & enjoying themselves all day in the forest (& actually healing people, unlike Western medicine), instead of rushing to become lumberjacks for enterprising timber-merchants, whereas now if they fancy it, they can make a veritable fortune selling DMT trips to high-flying sales consultants & rich kids from Miami. Lifting barely a finger.

Sadly, it seems that particular thought never occurred to his mother…

—nor did she take any DMT trips.

When he started gaining actual literary success, it confused her to no end that this little ungrateful brat, fruit of her loins, so recalcitrant to basic hygiene, could be seen side by side in magazines & journals with those above her own social echelon. For a long, long, long time she resisted this result with all her might, ratcheting up the personal attacks on his attire so that he spent a whole year in a Mental Asylum, losing half his genius & much more besides in the process. Still, as they say, you can’t keep a good dog down forever. (Well, perhaps you can, with enough detracting put-downs from one’s nearest & dearest…)

But eventually—fortunately—Optimus Einstein Bartholemew II did get there (though not before spending 6 months in winter on the streets of Brighton in hiding from his ‘benefactors’, of course). In his hey-day, he ended up resurrecting the Sonnet for Her Majesty’s 80th Jubilee, with a little fusion Jungle thrown in from his own youth (which Her Majesty loved also), reminding her of her own glory days as the prime symbol of the now (supposedly) harmless & ineffectual, humiliated “dress-up-doll” nature of the ancient class-tyrants.

Not that the whole episode didn’t leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth. I mean, at first he was only doing it to make his parents proud; then, the way it turned out, it was as if he did it only to get back at them! It didn’t matter how he tried to forgive them & continue their relationship on a better footing; they wouldn’t forgive him for proving them wrong by not being a sick patient the rest of his life, or thanking them for their barbaric actions that more than half-destroyed & mangled their own original creation.

This is how we pay for the very crimes committed against us, & go on paying & paying. Until they actually do kill us.

What crimes had been perpetrated against dear Optimus’s parents to make them wage such an indefatigable war on their own legacy, I wonder? Could it be the tireless demands of society upon them to conform during their own upbringing? Hm, maybe it’s the progress of History; the older generations always feeling hard done by, missing out on all the new technologies, their marvellous abundance & the delicious fruits of their own labour.

Personally, I think they were simply born under the wrong star.

Anyway, it seemed to him that each spark of initiative, of virtue, dignity or authentic individuality he ever showed in their presence was scorned with utter vitriol & a vehement, indignant attempt to stamp it out lest it spread, & perhaps really take root. They say that spreading your own wings is the best thing you can do for others, since it gives them license to do the same. (But, some people just do not want that. Most likely your own parents are among them.)

At any rate, needless to say, the ‘success’ that his parents had once dreamed of for him as a small child became only a mortal wound after the whole psychiatric (mental health) debacle, filling them with a sense of only greater bitterness & defeat. You see, once you declare war on someone by having them ‘sectioned’ against their will, there is rarely any going back…

______________________

Stop in your tracks & you are deemed crazy by all around you, & unconscious & lazy. Wear a spotty shirt to a restaurant & you better stay alert, or the neighbours will be out to get you; they could well call the cops & have you thrown in jail ‘for your own good’.

Does it even matter, though, if the inner bird does sing? “What inner bird?” they cried. “Can’t you just be a good little parrot, like the rest of us? Savour your patched eye is all!”

VIII


“And there is a charge, a very large charge

For a word or a touch

Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.

So, so, Herr Doktor.

So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,

I am your valuable,

The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.

I turn and burn.

Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—

You poke and stir.

Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,

A wedding ring,

A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Beware 

Beware.

Out of the ash

I rise with my red hair

And I eat men like air.”

– Sylvia Plath, excerpt from “Lady Lazarus

Warning Label: This true personal account, only revealed 13 years after the fact due to the dreadful incapacitated state in which the events described left him in, will, taking a highly confrontational approach, no doubt be thought highly offensive to many (especially the perpetrators!). If you cannot tolerate a little salutary poison & malice in your panacea, please look away now. Side effects may include: much horror, legitimate remorse, bitter yet cathartic & healthy lamentation, extreme dizziness, ecstatic, trance-like states, life-changing epiphanies, rebellious outrage, vomiting up society’s propaganda, increased working vocabulary, uncontrollable weeping or laughter, shortness of breath & frothing angrily, indignantly at the mouth!

#PoetryNotPills#MeditationNotSedation#DietNotDrugs

Growing up is tough. Perhaps it has been an awful lot worse in the past. But today, it is still very hard, even in the more developed countries. Jordan B. Peterson, now the hero of a generation, makes this abundantly clear: in his work, we see how lost many people are; how lost many of us are or have been at times.

Our education system draws no attention to our spiritual life, to the cultivation of the virtues and dispositions that make life genuinely ‘meaningful’ (to use Peterson’s term). Many people, such as those Peterson speaks of, become brainwashed by the system, in a sense keeping their heads firmly in the sand and never questioning their social indoctrination. They merely become more and more fanatical. 

I wasn’t like that. I suffered from, if anything, the opposite pathology. Suddenly, when I read Nietzsche’s Beyond Good And Evil at 17, I found myself engulfed by so many doubts and reservations about the education I had received hitherto, and about the ‘values’ that most people take for granted, that it paralysed my ability to continue with life—with my formal schooling—in a productive manner. However I was so enthralled to the system, so ‘institutionalized’ by 14 years of public curriculum schooling and classroom routine, that I was unable to act independently and decisively to extricate myself from this same system. 

Thus I continued, going to University, pursuing a degree (Philosophy and Mathematics) that I didn’t even want. I think I would have faired better with P.P.E. — Politics, Philosophy, and Economics — but that wasn’t available at a top University other than Oxford until a year later. I should have taken an extra year and switched course, or simply abandoned the Mathematics, as I was only interested in the Human Condition at the time… but I was too indecisive, didn’t think Philosophy alone sounded as impressive or offered the same ‘career prospects’, and, not knowing what I really wanted anyway, was afraid of making any kind of a scene.

In the last year I was at University, because I was expressing my unhappiness, & had always been curious about psychoanalysis, after seeing it romanticized so splendidly in the incomparable films of Woody Allen, I foolishly consented to see a psychiatrist (an expert of mental health)—thinking I would get the full, in depth couch & dreams approach, the intrepid, disabused psychological delving & diving with a seasoned guide. 

But in reality…. 

The white-coated philistine asked me a bunch of puerile questions from his standard, poxy little ticklist, & unfortunately when he asked, “Do you think you receive messages from the T.V.?’, in my sweet naïvete, I simply answered, “Yes.” (Doh! The T.V. is a form of media; its whole job is to send you messages!) As a result of that moronic misphrased question and misunderstanding, the jumped-up invalid labelled me ‘schizophrenic’ there and then… & that’s how it happened folks! That’s how Eden got nuked! Because I claimed a T.V. sends messages!

Anyway… they didn’t kidnap me at that point. I merely returned to University after being kept in for a night on the ward, & then I just about passed my horrible course, after 4 years of intellectual sclerosis in the bloom of youth (though far, far worse was to come!)… But by the end of it, I was masturbating compulsively (to internet pornography), which continued for another 2 or so years at home again in my old bedroom of my parent’s residence. Then, to cut a long story short, I suffered a (minor) injury to my private parts, which I was convinced was more serious than it actually was, yet still I continued with the self-abuse, with ever mounting guilt and worry. I began having physical symptoms—coughing up phlegm, pains in my head—as well as extreme states of dysphoria upon attempts to withdraw from my porn addiction. I was concerned that I was verging upon doing permanent damage to my nervous system. 

To combat this, as well as the unpleasant effects I just mentioned, I began fasting and meditating for days, even weeks at a time. After prolonged fasting, I would then feast myself prodigiously, especially on lots of meat (yes, I invented the ‘meat-only, ketagenic diet’ a good decade before Peterson—which now is officially being used to treat ‘schizophrenia’, btw!—and, unlike him, I was roundly committed for it!). And blueberries.


Meanwhile my worried mother took me to see a Dr. (who I just went along with, not considering it of any great significance and vaguely hoping he might send me for a brain scan to see what was happening with my nerves). However, due to the fact I had spent all of the last two years largely alone in my bedroom (one of the ‘negative symptoms of schizophrenia’); because I said I was concerned that my excessive habits might be causing a problem with my brain (together with my unorthodox but actually quite effective attempts to rectify the issue); and as a result of my frenzied feasting, they thought I was delusional. Psychotic. So one night, when I was least expecting it…they came to my house and ‘sectioned’ me (though ’vivisectioned’ might be more accurate).

The above is of course only a brief summary, and it doesn’t nearly convey the inner turmoil that I was in at the time. But that inner turmoil was nothing compared to what I suffered after that, as a direct product of my sectioning (for those who don’t already know, this means I was involuntarily detained At Her Majesty’s Pleasure in a so-called mental ‘hospital’).

I’m sure it’s rather common (‘normal’) to be distressed when State workers accost you at your home, and basically kidnap you indefinitely (the technical term for it is ‘Kafkarian Nightmare’). But the reaction I underwent at this time was extreme, even by normal (or even abnormal) human psychological standards. Years of constant masturbation combined with succeeding attempts to heal myself via fasting, meditation, and feasting, had ignited enormous reserves of energy. At home, I had been able to keep my environment under very tight control, restricting my movements, my entire attention and dietary practices exactly as I required so as to free myself from the aforementioned addiction and its attendant malaise, along with progressing my spirit even further. When all this control was completely taken away from me, all the energies that I had been on the brink of directing toward productive purposes imploded. 

I was told and basically forced to accept that all of my attempts to control my own actions were wrong and I was prohibited from acting upon them. I was suddenly absolutely terrified of all my own impulses, as every expression of them was punished mercilessly by the most vicious slander, contempt and humiliation, potentially rendering me a medical captive for life if I didn’t lie to hide my excruciating agony

When you become scared of your own impulses, Ladies and Gentlemenespecially when they are running at literally 100 MPH under heavy assault with no way to defend yourself—the intense conflict causes them to self-destruct. They destroy you. That is exactly what happened, causing precisely the nervous breakdown I had been expressing fears about previously and for which the Dr.s had ridiculed and sectioned me in the first place!No growth is possible under such conditions. 

During this time, my distress and agony exceeded my tongue, and to this day that pain finds no correlative in verbal expression. For 6 months, I felt the most acute, extreme, and constant restlessness, which I was absolutely unable to do anything about no matter how much I paced around the cramped wards, and I watched internally as my nerves were crushed against my skull and gradually gave up the ghost. They said all my suffering was in my imagination. All a ‘hallucination’. They said, “You can’t feel brain damage!” They couldn’t have cared less about my agony—they laughed at me as I begged for mercy…

I suffered in Hell for 12 years as a direct result of their actions. They list in their idiotic ‘scholarly’ manuals that sleeping problems and unquenchable thirst are signs of such damage, and for the last 12 years I’ve been waking up over 20 times a night (as well as, actually more importantly, sleeping extremely shallowly compared to how I used to); whereas before, even in all my distress, I slept soundly every night. I’ve also had a more or less constant sense of some kind of nervous thirst, which nothing would satisfy and is unbearably frustrating & difficult to describe. Added to that, I have experienced a complete derangement and profound loss of my identity, memory and functionality since that time. . . I have only slowly re-gathered myself after 12 years!

Before I was (vivi)sectioned, I was extremely hopeful of writing my first novel within a couple of years. As it was, it took me 12 more years of most bitter Hell & purgatory to recover even a semblance of my former self from the iatrogenic effects of my ‘treatment’, producing a meagre one book of extremely angsty poetry (named “Madness: a form of love”). 

It is only really in the last year or so, having come off the drug-poisons in late 2018, after 12 years of oppression and being subjected to friendly, little compulsory monthly get-togethers with my drug-rapists, that I have once again regained some footing and my life has become worth living again.



Max J. Lewy (1983-) was born in the ex-coal-mining area of the South Wales valleys, U.K. to a Jewish father and English mother, and is now a recovering patient of Mental Health System abuses. He studied Philosophy at Warwick University, undergoing a spiritual transition and potential breakthrough which was aborted and derailed by misplaced ‘treatment’. He spent 6 months living on the street as a runaway from NHS ‘services’ in Brighton. He self-published his first book of poetry, Madness: a form of love (2018), detailing his ordeals as a form of therapy (#PoetryNotPills #MeditationNotSedation) and defence, and is the winner of RealisticPoetry’s 2018 “Perspectives Of Love” Poetry Contest for the poem “River Of Eternity (For R. W.)”. While currently spending his time writing poetry and philosophy about Mental Health, he is also considering retraining to work in the field of Artificial Intelligence (although, as he says himself, his intelligence is already highly artificial!). In his spare time, he plays tennis, drinks pure cacao sweetened with Manuka Honey, along with various other herbal remedies and holistic health rituals, and avoids doctors at all costs.  

Harmony of the World (1806) by Ebenezer Sibly

Symphony in Space: Max Planck, Birkeland Currents & The Plasma Universe

In this essay, Matthew Ehret explores the work of Max Planck and other pre-eminent physicists such as Hannes Alfvén and Kristian Birkeland, whose revolutionary breakthroughs in plasma physics suggest that solar systems do not form in empty space. Instead, an ocean of plasma constitutes the medium in which they arise and evolve. In other words, suns and planets are electrical phenomena wired to their galaxies. Moreover, the plasma fields in question are characterized by pulses, frequencies and wavelengths, making them more analogous to symphonies than to clockwork. How apt, then, to learn that Planck and Einstein often turned to music in order to bypass the narrow limits of mathematics and take leaps into the intuitive–the source of their greatest discoveries.

Pictured above: Harmony of the World (1806), an illustration by Ebenezer Sibly that he based in part on Harmonices Mundi, the book of Johannes Kepler in which he describes his concept of musical harmonies delineating the spacing of planets in our heliocentric galaxy.

Near the end of 2019, signals arrived to Earth from the Voyager-2 spacecraft which have shaken the foundations of modern physics, and brought into question the forces and principles shaping the space-time of stars within galaxies (and implicitly galaxies within clusters of galaxies). The data which NASA scientists received from Voyager-2 have catapulted mankind’s ability to finally answer the old question, “What constitutes the ‘space’ between stars or even between galaxies within our universe?” As Voyager Project scientist Edward Stone stated:

The Voyager probes are showing us how our sun interacts with the stuff that fills most of the space between stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Dr. Edward Stone

What Did Voyager-2 Encounter?

Launched in 1977 alongside Voyager-1 to measure magnetic field intensity, cosmic radiation flux and plasma density, Voyager-2 exited the Heliosphere (the spherical boundary shaped by the sun’s electromagnetic field) and moved into the interstellar medium on November 5, 2019, when the five sensors still functioning on the craft returned surprising results. The magnetic field intensity from the sun was no longer felt, and the spacecraft encountered a region of extremely dense cosmic radiation and plasma. Voyager-2’s results corroborate the measurements taken by the faster moving Voyager-1 when it traversed the Heliosphere in 2012, suggesting that this was not a “localized phenomenon.”

An image of the heliosphere moving through universal plasma
An artistic rendition of the recent exit of Voyager-1 and -2 from the Heliosphere into the interstellar medium
According to retired professor of Electrical Engineering (and Electric Universe Theorist), Dr. Donald E. Scott, Voyager 2 did not enter the true interstellar medium, but instead remained within the Birkeland Current plasma field of our solar system. View this video for details.

“Cosmic rays” is the loose term for all forms of highly energized protons and atomic nuclei which are produced in suns, supernovae and other galaxies. Cosmic radiation pervades the solar system and is infused with terrestrial activity by the earth’s magnetic field. Some examples of cosmic rays on earth include the aurora borealis and cloud formation (which mediates the warming and cooling of the earth: discovery by Svensmark and co.). Cosmic rays appear to also coincide with earthquake activity, activation/de-activation of viruses and may even play a significant role in the evolution of species. If you are a layman just encountering this idea, a wonderful introduction to the topic can be found in the 1957 film The Strange Case of Cosmic Rays, produced by Frank Capra and still as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.

Cosmic rays and plasma mediating the galaxy
The sun’s radiation moves not through an empty vacuum, but rather a densely saturated ocean of cosmic radiation towards the earth. Its emissions (and those of the broader galactic environment) are mediated by the ionosphere, Van Allen belts and the electromagnetic field of the earth, as featured in the artistic rendition above.

Plasmas are sometimes known as the fourth fundamental state of matter (the first three being solid, liquid and gas). When the atoms and molecules making up a gas are induced to lose their electrons (becoming ions), these ions and free electrons produce an electrically conducive plasma.

Various plasma manifestations
Pictured above: Some of the various manifestations of plasma featuring their temperatures and flux density per cubic meter

Rather than supposing the interplanetary and interstellar media are composed of “empty” space or a “vacuum,” international networks of physicists have accumulated bountiful evidence over decades that a realm of highly saturated plasma and cosmic radiation is the true medium in which our planets revolve around the sun, which moves through the galactic centre of the Milky Way every 230 million years.

The trajectory of the sun's orbit through plasma in our Milky Way galaxy
An infographic produced by NASA featuring the trajectory of our sun’s orbit around the galactic center every 230 years. Another fascinating cycle featured in this graphic is the solar system’s “wobble” above and below the plane of the Milky way which occurs every 30 million years and coincides with certain mass extinction cycles.

Some of the most important pioneers in the plasma universe model of solar and galactic space-time include pre-eminent physicists Kristian Birkeland, Winston Bostwick, Anthony Peratt and Hannes Alfvén. After winning the 1970 Nobel Prize for his discovery of magneto hydrodynamics, Swedish scientist Hannes Alfvén wrote:

In order to understand the phenomena in a certain plasma region, it is necessary to map not only the magnetic but also the electric field and the electric currents. Space is filled with a network of currents which transfer energy and momentum over large or very large distances. The currents often pinch to filamentary or surface currents. The latter are likely to give space, as also interstellar and intergalactic space, a cellular structure.1Hannes Alfvén. “Cosmology in the Plasma Universe: An Introductory Explanation.” IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. No. 18, February 1990. p. 5-10.

Hannes Alfvén

The “pinch” effect to which Alfvén refers describes the natural compression of an electrical conducting filament by magnetic forces. It occurs in lightning and the aurora borealis; its use by scientists has enabled the formation of magnetically confined plasmas used in fusion energy research. Many breakthroughs in fusion research, however, have been held back for decades due to the pervasiveness of certain false concepts of “forces,” “vacuums,” “black holes” and “dark matter” prevalent in standard theory cosmology. One of the greatest paradoxes encountered in fusion research has involved naïve attempts to overcome the Coulomb barrier.

The "pinch effect" as described by Anthony Peratt
Pictured above: One expression of the “pinch effect” as applied to cosmology by Lapointe and Alfvén’s leading student Anthony Peratt.

Anyone who has ever attempted to press the identical polarities of two strong magnets together will have a visceral idea of the Coulomb barrier. This difficulty increases as the proximity of the magnets is reduced and is amplified by many orders of magnitude in the atomic world where the “fusing” of two helium atoms or hydrogen isotopes requires that positively charged nuclei from two atoms occupy one and the same space in order to transmute and release a great deal of energy in the process.

Without a concept of the organized harmonics that pervade plasmas—which researchers like Bostwick, Alfvén, Peratt et al. have proven—the only path to attaining fusion is through the brute force of pounding nuclei together and super-heating them to speed up their motion in giant Tokamak reactors. However when working with plasmas and the electromagnetic dynamics of Birkeland currents, we are now dealing with frequencies, pulses and wavelengths that can amplify or de-amplify and create consonances or dissonances with measurable observable effects. In this sense, space actually has more in common with a symphony than with kinetic objects emitting “forces” in a vacuum.

Super-heated plasma in the European JET Tokamak reactor
An inside view of the European JET Tokamak featuring an image of super-heated plasma confined by strong magnetic fields at right.

Anthony Peratt’s Galactic Insight

One of the leading figures of the plasma universe school is Anthony Peratt, a physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics and close collaborator with Hannes Alfvén. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Peratt generated an incredible model of spiral galaxy structures forming within a charged plasma. It has long been observed that plasmas have a tendency to create minuscule steady-state superstructures like vortices and spheres (called “solitons” for their likeness to the sun). These observed structures form in plasmas for reasons that have not yet been fully ascertained and endure for very short intervals of time. In spite of their mysteriously short duration, they do exist and cannot be accounted for under any mathematical analysis that features Newtonian concepts of empty space and self-evident masses or forces.

Peratt took these observations to a new level of cosmology when he began to apply the results of two spherical plasmas “pinched” by two magnetic Birkeland filaments of 1018 amperes. In his 1986 paper “Evolution of the Plasma Universe: II. The Formation of Systems of Galaxies,” Peratt published several simulations featured under the M81 spiral galaxy image below:

Spiral galaxies of the plasma universe

Whereas the evolution of actual galaxies takes billions of years, the evolution of two adjacent plasma spheres into a fully formed microscopic spiral galaxy endures for mere picoseconds under Peratt’s models. The fact that the plasma universe model generates such analogues to the macro-verse is incredible. Though it is merely the matter of SCALE of physical space-time which differs in both cases, the qualitative effects are the same.

Equally extraordinary is the fact that this model doesn’t rely on any recourse to the imposition of imaginary entities like black holes or dark matter to account for the galaxy’s structure as mainstream mathematical physicists have been forced to do.

In another fascinating experiment, Peratt used information from three radio telescopes to form models of double radio galaxies and found similar analogies of the evolution of these galactic structures within laboratory plasmas as documented in his paper “3-Dimensional Particle-in-Cell Simulations of Spiral Galaxies.” Peratt’s simulations generated macro-structures in his laboratory identical to those same double radio galaxies observed in the universe.

Examples of double radio galaxies mediated by plasma

Peratt has been very clear that mainstream aversion to accepting this experimental pathway in physics stems from Newtonian doctrine regarding matter and the emptiness of space. He stated as much recently:

Space, being the most voluminous of the cosmos, when treated as pure vacuum, gives a false sense that most of the universe is in a known state, the only unknowns being the point-like masses occupying Newton’s universe. The discovery of the complexity of the planetary plasma magnetospheres proved that space is plasma with an electrodynamic complexity that exceeds that of the first three states of matter.2Cited in “Plasma Physics: Proceedings of the 1997 Latin American Workshop.” Pablo Martin, Julio Puerta ed. p. 54.

Dr. Anthony Peratt

As Above, So Below: Max Planck & Johannes Kepler

Peratt’s identification of Newtonian assumptions as the core mental crutch holding back researchers in the fields of cosmology and atomic physics alike is incredibly important. A few words would be appropriate here to clarify how and why these Newtonian principles crept into modern science when brilliant physicists like Max Planck and Albert Einstein, both of whom revolutionized these domains over a century ago, were not only unencumbered by Newtonian doctrine but in fact shattered it brilliantly. Throughout their lives, both men applied not the method of Newton in their creative work, but rather the method of Johannes Kepler. In his New Astronomy (1609), On the Six-Cornered Snowflake (1609) and Harmonices Mundi (1619), Kepler not only created the basis for a modern astrophysics establishing his Three Laws, but set that new physics upon the foundations of musical harmony.

An illustration of the three planetary laws of Johannes Jepler
Pictured above: Johannes Kepler’s 3 planetary laws unshackled physics from mysticism and relied on a musical insight outlined in his 1619 masterpiece Harmonices Mundi featuring his model of the solar system. The fact that his 3rd Law comprised the effect of this theory should cause the sceptic to think twice before dismissing Kepler’s insight as rubbish.

It is not uncommon for a mathematician to freak out when confronting the argument that the laws of macro-physics are in harmony with the laws of micro-physics, or even that the inner subjective world of mankind is in harmony with the outer objective universe. One could imagine a statistical probability theorist exclaim: Everyone knows that 20th century quantum mechanics has proven that the random, chaotic laws of the microcosm are entirely incompatible with the pre-deterministic laws of gravitation and electricity dominant in the macrocosm!

Well, if Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli and the Copenhagen School interpretation of the quantum which took over the narrative of quantum mechanics at the turn of the 20th century is correct, then this addled mathematician’s claim is certainly true and there is no point in searching for discoverable principles that could furnish mankind with a unifying conception of the universe. Although adherents to the Copenhagen interpretation assert this schism to be an absolute truth beyond which no mind can pass, the irony is that this very school is celebrated for having disproven the notion of causality or truthfulness altogether! If anything, the micro- and macro-worlds may only be united under the presumed “irrationalism and statistical probability” which governed the inner universe of Bohr’s own mind.3See Billington, Michael. “Taoist Perversion of 20th Century Science.” Fidelio. Fall, 1994.

The 5th Solvay Conference of 1927
The 5th Solvay Conference of 1927 (pictured above) featured an all-out battle between two opposing schools of physics over how the paradoxes of the quantum domain should be treated. On the one hand, actual creative scientists who made sincere breakthroughs such as Max Planck, Marie Curie, Konrad Lorenz and Einstein defended the idea of causality and truth while the new breed of statistical probability theorists of the Copenhagen School (Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli et al.) asserted the contrary. Unfortunately for the 20th century, the “old guard” scientists were discarded as obsolete and naive.

However the question should be asked: what if those founding fathers of today’s quantum physics such as Einstein and Planck were right in their assertion that the new breed of statistical probability theorists of the Copenhagen school were wrong to deny causality and truth? What if Einstein was right in stating that “God doesn’t play dice with the universe”? Perhaps the lack of progress in fusion research or fundamental discoveries in general over the 20th century had something to do with the abandonment of a fruitful method of thinking which Einstein, Planck and other great souls understood.

Albert Einstein and Max Planck in 1931
Pictured above: Albert Einstein and Max Planck in 1931

Speaking against the abandonment of causality, Planck argued in his 1935 book The Philosophy of Physics that “the reason why the measurements of atomic physics are inexact need not be looked for necessarily in any failure of causality. It may equally well consist in the formulation of faulty concepts and hence inappropriate questions.

In the same work, Planck argued that the corruption of science (which has deepened 80 years later) was tied to two fundamental errors: (1) the imposition of mathematics into the dominant position above experimental physics which induced scientists to try to “fit” physical reality into the limited (and often wrong) cage of their mathematical language; and (2) the tendency to withdraw the subjective mind of the scientist from the equation of the objective universe he was investigating. On this point, Planck said:

In dealing with the structure of any science, a reciprocal inter-connection between epistemological judgements and judgements of value was found to arise, and that no science can be wholly disentangled from the personality of the scientists.

Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics

Max Planck: Music as a Fundamental Principle of the Plasma Universe

Towards the end of his life, Max Planck strove passionately to re-infuse scientific practice with the sense of honesty and love which animated the greatest discoveries of human history including his own discoveries of the quantum and Planck’s constant. In both his incredible works The Philosophy of Physics and Where Is Science Going? (1932), Planck makes the point that the wave-particle duality paradox can only be resolved by infusing the mind of the inquirer into the equation and removing the conceptual wall dividing observer from observed.

To clarify the wave-particle paradox and Planck’s resolution, it should be noted that unlike a planet or other projectile, a light photon’s velocity and position cannot be simultaneously measured, for the moment one attempts to “see” a photon, those photons “hitting” the observed “object” change their position before returning to the eye of the observer. Planck states that the resolution to this must be found not in lazily assuming that light must simply have two opposing identities of wave and particle, nor that the truth of its essence cannot be known, but rather that the very definitions of wave and particle—as well as mind itself—must be refined by treating the matter of free will scientifically, for this is the only known case in which the act of observing changes that which is being observed. Planck states:

We may perhaps deal with free will. Looked at subjectively, the will, in so far as it looks to the future, is not causally determined, because any cognition of the subject’s will itself acts causally upon the will, so that any definitive cognition of a fixed causal nexus is out of the question. In other words, we might say that looked at from outside (objectively), the will is causally determined, and that looked at from inside (subjectively) it is free.

Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics

Planck described the role of creative thought in this process most beautifully when he said:

A good working hypothesis is essential for any investigation. This being so, we are faced with the difficult question how we are to set about to find the most suitable hypothesis. For this there can be no general rule. Logical thought by itself does not suffice—not even where it has an exceptionally large and manifold body of experience to aid it. The only possible method consists in immediately gripping the problem or in seizing upon some happy idea. Such an intellectual leap can be executed only by a lively and independent imagination and by a strong creative power, guided by an exact knowledge of the given facts so that it follows the right path.

Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics

While Planck was an accomplished pianist, Einstein spoke relentlessly on the importance of his soul’s adherence to classical music and his love of playing Mozart on his violin. Both men played music together frequently, and both testified to the vital role of performing classical music in allowing them to leap beyond the constraints of logical deductive/inductive reasoning (aka: formal mathematics) which had prevented them from formulating fruitful hypotheses.

Albert Einstein playing the violin

On the role of music in scientific discovery, Einstein said:

The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.4Recorded in a 1969 interview by Shinichi Suzuki, entitled “Nurtured by Love: A New Approach to Education.”

Albert Einstein

In another essay, Einstein went even further to describe the role of causality in a Bach fugue as a master key to unlock the mathematically unsolvable problems of the quantum and causality more generally:

I believe that events in nature are controlled by a much stricter and closely binding law than we suspect today, when we speak of one event being the cause of another. Our concept here is confined to one happening within one time section. It is dissected from the whole process. Our present rough way of applying the causal principle is quite superficial… We are like a child who judges a poem by its rhyme, and not by its rhythm. Or, we are like a juvenile learner at the piano just relating one note to that which immediately precedes or follows. To an extent, this may be all very well, when one is dealing with simple compositions; but it will not do for the interpretation of a Bach fugue. Quantum physics has presented us with very complex processes, and to meet them, we must further enlarge and refine our concept of causality.5From Einstein’s appendix to Planck, Max. Where Is Science Going?. Woodbridge CT: Ox Bow Press. 1931.

Albert Einstein

To my knowledge, nowhere was this idea better expressed in our modern age than in the short 17-minute video, “Is the Past Fixed? Part II – The Ontology of Mind.”

Max Planck On Putting Our Mind Back in the Driver’s Seat

It may seem that we have deviated from our original theme of a plasma universe. However, that is not so. The only reason why the natural creative evolution of science was artificially derailed during the 20th century was the failure of leading scientists, artists and philosophers to follow the superior method of creative discovery utilised lovingly by the likes of Planck and Einstein, such that fusion power was not achieved on schedule and revolutionary discoveries on par with those of the late 19th-early 20th century failed to occur.

Instead of a new age of breakthroughs in space travel, atomic discoveries and the dawn of world peace as envisioned by the followers of John F. Kennedy, the 20th century saw the formation of a new scientific priesthood and the transformation of society into a consumer cult attempting to forever live in the elusive now—ignorant of the past, fearful of the future and disdainful of human nature.

So as mankind’s understanding begins to penetrate beyond the limits of the heliosphere and into interstellar space, and as new discoveries are made into the secret world of the atom, let us be reminded of the wise words of Planck:

Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature, and that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature, and therefore, part of the mystery that we are trying to solve. Music and art are, to an extent, also attempts to solve, or at least express that mystery. But to my mind, the more we progress with either, the more we are brought into harmony with all nature itself. And that is one of the great services of science to the individual.

Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics

Matthew Ehret is a journalist and co-founder of the Rising Tide Foundation. He has published scientific articles with 21st Century Science and Technology, and is a regular contributor to several political/cultural websites including the Los Angeles Review of Books: China Channel, Strategic Culture, and Oriental Review. He has also authored three books in the Untold History of Canada series.

Joachim Du Bellay and Walter Benjamin on Translation

Joachim Du Bellay: Antiquités III: Translation and Commentary

After providing his own translation of a poem by Joachim Du Bellay, David Solway addresses the art of translation. Cicero, he contends, is a far more reliable resource than Walter Benjamin on this subject. Why Benjamin? Simply because his ideas have been very influential in this domain. Why Cicero? Because Cicero was the orator par excellence. In brief, Benjamin, advises the translator “to regain pure language fully formed in the linguistic flux.” How such a hierophantic feat is to be achieved leaves Solway as baffled as us. Surely a more attainable objective is possible. Cicero, on the other hand, tells us that a translator ought to retain the original ideas and forms of thought but must recast, renew and reinvent the poem in the contemporary language and idiom of the translator. The Rome of Du Bellay is a figure of that lost original, that past that we work to make present.

Pictured above: Joachim Du Bellay and Walter Benjamin. Du Bellay (c. 1522-1560) was a French poet and critic born into a noble family in the Loire River valley. He helped found the literary group La Pléiade in part to promote his belief that the French language of his time was capable of producing a literature as rich and expressive as that of ancient Greece and Rome. His book of verse, The Regrets, is a distillation of the Pléiade manifesto and widely regarded as one of the finest sonnet sequences in all of French literature. Meanwhile, Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a philosopher, cultural critic and essayist. Born in Berlin into a wealthy Jewish family, he became associated with the Frankfurt Institute during the inter-war years, and it was under its auspices that he produced perhaps his most influential work, an essay entitled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936). In the essay, he introduces his foundational concept of the “aura”—the unique quality of an artwork that made it equivalent to a sacred icon in religious ritual. According to Benjamin, however, the timeless aura of the artwork dissolved in the age of capitalist mass production, which effectively rejected the concept of “originality.”

Les Antiquités de Rome III (1558)
Joachim Du Bellay

Nouveau venu, qui cherches Rome en Rome
Et rien de Rome en Rome n’aperçois,
Ces vieux palais, ces vieux arcs que tu vois,
Et ces vieux murs, c’est ce que Rome on nomme.

Vois quel orgueil, quelle ruine, et comme
Celle qui mit le monde sous ses lois,
Pour dompter tout, se dompta quelquefois,
Et devint proie au temps, qui tout consomme.

Rome de Rome est le seul monument,
Et Rome Rome a vaincu seulement.
Le Tibre seul, qui vers la mer s’enfuit,

Reste de Rome. O mondaine inconstance!
Ce qui est ferme, est par le temps détruit,
Et ce qui fuit, au temps fait résistance.

The Antiquities of Rome III
Joachim Du Bellay

You, the newcomer, seeking Rome in Rome,
well, there is no Rome there that you can see,
some walls and arches, mere antiquity,
crumbling palaces—that’s what we call Rome.
 
Just look! What pride, what ruin, what dusty blooms
of reminiscent grandeur yet remain
of she who tamed the world, and all in vain?
Not much, I’m afraid. Rome’s what Rome consumes.
 
Let’s say that Rome’s the only monument
and only Rome has conquered Rome at last.
As tributary to the future’s past

the Tiber’s all that’s left of all that’s spent.
For what is firm the years will soon erase
while that which roams still, somehow, keeps its place.


A Preamble on Translation

                                   The original is unfaithful to the translation

 Jorge Luis Borges

Approaching a poem written in another time and/or place, the translator faces a literal dilemma, a double problem of conflicting loyalties. He is always in two minds about what he is doing. He must obviously strive to remain faithful to the author’s intent and sensibility as exemplified in their lexical reification while simultaneously reflecting the cultural atmospherics and the language customs of the time or place in which he himself lives.

The rule was laid down long ago by Cicero in his De optimo genere oratorum (The Best Kind of Orator). Cicero was not a poet but among the greatest of orators, sharing with the poet the conatus toward rhetorical power. A master of apt words, phrasal sweep and the rhythms of persuasion, he is an authority worth attending to. Commenting on his translation of Greek authors, Cicero tells us that his practice involved “keeping the same ideas and the forms, one might say, the ‘figures’ of thought, but in language that conforms to our usage.” The translator must, as it were, be in two different regions at once, in particular when he is straddling two historical periods which may have little in common with one another. A certain balletic suppleness is required, a “doing the splits” with grace and apparent effortlessness, so that the performance moves seamlessly, avoiding the twin perils of awkwardness and rigidity.

In his well-known essay “The Task of the Translator,” Walter Benjamin asserts, in typical homiletic fashion, that the essential quality of a work of art “is not statement or the imparting of information” but a kind of penumbra of irreducible meaning consisting of “the unfathomable, the mysterious, the ‘poetic’.” This leaves us precisely nowhere, which does not prevent Benjamin from proclaiming that the translator must give voice “to the intentio of the original not as reproduction but as harmony.” Through the miasma of his annunciations, it is evident that Benjamin is not in sympathy with Cicero’s retention of the “ideas and forms” of the original production.

Benjamin’s contention that poetry is not a declarative medium, however, is true as far as it goes. A poem is intended to elicit a feeling, sensation or belief comparable to that experienced by its author; however, it is often rich with information as well, with what we call a “message.” A sonnet like Shakespeare’s “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” or Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee” (not to mention “Antiquities III” by Du Bellay) is not only indirectly evocative of a prior state of being but also directly communicative of a specific content. This is something the translator cannot afford to ignore without expurgating his subject. When Benjamin goes on to say that “any translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information—hence, something inessential,” he shows that he is far more of a philosopher than a poet—or, for that matter, more of an arcane speculator than a responsible translator. As Yahia Lababidi writes in his book of aphorisms, Signposts to Elsewhere, “Philosophers, like roadmaps, are not to be consulted when driving.” The same caveat may apply to theorists of translation.

“Philosophers, like roadmaps, are not to be consulted when driving.”

Yahia Lababidi

I spend some time with Walter Benjamin since his essay on translation has exerted a profound influence on the practice. For him, the “intention of the poet is spontaneous, primary, graphic, that of the translator is derivative, ultimate, ideational.” Moreover, according to this expert, translation represents “the great motif of integrating many tongues into one true language.” Both claims are instances of sheer metaphysics at work and can neither be verified nor falsified. When we learn that “the tremendous and the only capacity of the translator” is “to regain pure language fully formed in the linguistic flux,” we may be forgiven for concluding that so ineffable a mandate can pertain only to the Son of God but must necessarily escape the ministrations of any baptismal precursor or apostolic successor.

If translation were the effort to attain to the one, true, pure language which is “the expressionless and creative Word, that which is meant in all languages,” no translator with a sense of saving humility would deign to put pen to paper to achieve so exalted a purpose. And if translation were merely “derivative,” something divorced from the creative impulse and deaf to the call of originality, no translator worth his dignity would undertake so diminished an enterprise.

Translation, so far as a non-professional like myself can see, is neither a mystical and portentous activity that broaches the realm of the Benjaminian sublime nor a mere proletarian engagement with verbal homologies and locutional replications. I understand the act of translation as a hybrid and diametric process which, manifestly, does not enjoy primary creative status since a given text must precede it to be worked upon. Nevertheless, translation at its best represents an entirely original endeavour. Translation is not mimicry or duplication. It is the strenuous and laudable attempt to remake a pioneer document in such a way that it is both old and new at the same instant, hewing close to the spirit of the predecessor via idea, form and message—both Cicero’s “‘figures’ of thought” and the thought itself—but assuming the lexical and syntactical mantle, the speech habits, of the contemporary moment. Ezra Pound’s famous dictum, “make it new,” is valid not only for the poet but the translator, too.

The text which the translator addresses is also an object-in-the-world and consequently implies a pristine subject materially equipollent with whatever the poet has chosen as subject. It signifies a correlative independence. This does not change the fact that translation comes afterward, as afterword. Translation is a secondary event. But in breaking new ground, it is no less innovative and novel for all that, no less seminal and unprecedented—hence, original. Thus translation may be provisionally defined as both formative and informative or, in short, as the literary act of serial inventiveness.


A Note on the Translation of “Antiquties III” 

In this particular instance, my fealty to the author and his poem can be expressed only by adhering to what we share across the centuries and across the dimensions which separate us, namely, the two factors of theme and form. With respect to his theme, the paradox of flow and stasis in the current of time, this is an experience which transcends the ages, for all human beings are susceptible to the feeling of wonder and anguish it evokes. With respect to poetic form, the sonnet has survived the dispersions of time and fashion and remains firmly embedded in the tradition of the craft, right down to the appropriate rhyme schemes, stanzaic divisions and the decasyllabic line.

The translator’s allegiance to the original, then, requires that he does justice to the poet’s message and that he reproduces, so far as possible, the technical armature in which it is negotiated and diffused. Clearly, the translator, like the poet,1For Benjamin, poetry and translation are incommensurable projects. “The task of the translator,” he assures us, “may be regarded as distinct and clearly differentiated from the task of the poet,” since great poets may be poor translators. But the relation of competence between the poet as poet and the poet as translator is entirely contingent and may be explained by empirical factors, personal issues or other variables. Nor is Benjamin’s assumption substantiated by facts. To take only example, T.S. Eliot was undeniably a major poet and, judging from his translation of the Anabasis of St.-Perse, a first-rate translator as well. Benjamin himself praises Holderlin for his translation of Sophocles–though, it must be admitted, he characteristically tempers his applause owing not to the work’s falling short in any way but to its very perfection: “the gates of language thus expanded and modified may slam shut and enclose the translator with silence.” What Benjamin giveth, Benjamin taketh away. may ring his changes upon the basic pattern bequeathed by the canon, but these are more like grace notes which vary or embellish the underlying melody.

At the same time, the translator must avoid the error of misplaced fidelity, that is, he cannot betray the gradients of his own time and culture without appearing clumsy, unresponsive and, in the pejorative sense, artificial. True artifice must always seem natural. The way in which the translator ensures and maintains the authenticity of his translation is by producing not a literal rendition of the verbal object but by adapting it to the linguistic norms of his own day, locale and practice. Continuity is preserved in difference.

Regarding this particular poem, I have tried to remain true to my subject by labouring to express his theme as unequivocally as possible and by approximately preserving the sonnet form he employs, though I have slightly modified the latter to conform to the rules of the English (or “Shakespearian”) sonnet mode. After all, this is an English translation.

But I have also tried to “free up” the diction in the direction of colloquial usage—in effect, the poetic vernacular of our time—in order to refresh the archive by giving the impression of contemporaneity. In other words, in other words. This is how, as the translator would like to believe, Du Bellay might have composed his poem if he were visiting Rome not, say, in 1554 but in 2009. Du Bellay spoke truly when he suggested in his La Deffence et Illustration de la Langue Françoys (1549), commenting on the translation process, that what you cannot render in one place you must compensate for in another: translation is not imitation. Mimesis has its uses but, to cite Du Bellay, it is “odious to imitate within one’s own language.”

As a result, the language I deploy in my version of the poem needs to align itself differently, closer to the measures of idiomatic or demotic speech, thus affecting a more conversational and informal tone, even at the level of line breaks and lower case line beginnings. One is not trying to clone the instrumentalities of the sixteenth century in the twenty-first but, at the risk of an arrant hybris punishable by the gods, to re-write the poem along a set of contours limning, and so befitting, the present moment. Translation is always, to an extent, re-writing.

Of course, Edmund Spenser’s translation of “Antiquities III” in Complaints: Ruines of Rome reads very much like a strict correlative of Du Bellay’s original, reprising the “poetic diction” common to the era. This is to be expected. The two poets were near coetanians, Spenser having been born at about the time Du Bellay made his Roman sojourn, and they were separated only by a channel. And Spenser, an educated European, knew French language and literature well. Poetic artifice was as natural to Spenser as it was to Du Bellay.

We can see the transition toward the linguistic meridians of the modern in Yvor Winters’ translation of Du Bellay’s “Rome.” Winters was a rigorous classicist and constructed a close verbal and formal equivalent; yet he permits himself certain modern liberties, as, for example, the insertion of the dash to conjure implication and a hint of phrasal currency in the use of prepositives.

My own attempt moves further toward the terminus of colloquial speech, which consorts with the language now spoken and written by poets. For the diction of the past, like Du Bellay’s Rome, has decayed, leaving only the occasional word-artifact and metric trace behind. But the perennials of human experience and the principles of the tradition, like Du Bellay’s Tiber, resist the erosions of time.


Commentary

The poem that the translator visits and lives in for a time resembles, in a displaced but simulated fashion, the very city of Rome which Du Bellay peruses, envisions and reconstructs in his imagination. It appears as alien, marmoreal and rather intimidating to the “nouveau venu,” in this case, the translator, who embarks on the process of coming to terms with its “presence” and of interpreting its meaning, however fugitive it may seem through the fragmentary glimpses he is afforded of the poet’s mind and the poem’s gestation.

In the course of time, through his efforts at taming and consolidating what can only be described as a monumental evasiveness, the translator produces a pale and inadequate facsimile of the original, called a “translation”—as specified in the word’s Latin etymology, translatus, something “transferred” or “carried over” from one place to another or, as it may also happen, from one time to another.

Gradually, in the act of transition from source language to target language, a curious phenomenon occurs in the mind of the translator. It is as if the original begins inexorably to destroy itself, slowly to disappear from view and to collapse upon its own textual structure, existing only in memory. It suffers a sort of décrochage and is replaced by the detritus of its own disintegrating presence, supplemented by more recent or different structures of thought and language, new additions from an ambient sensibility.

The transmutation that emerges retains a certain resemblance to its predecessor and yet constitutes a violation of the latter’s prior integrity, a falling off from its perceived grandeur and wholeness, as if marking the indiscretions of time. To translate is to bear witness to the devouring agent which consumes whatever has been built to withstand, so that, regardless of how impressive and original the construction which arises may be, it remains only a simulacrum of the perfection which escapes it.

In this sense, the translator who approaches his task finds himself in precisely the same position vis à vis his object as did Du Bellay in his nostalgic confrontation with a Rome that was no longer Rome. The translation, so to speak, is a residue of palaces, arches and walls that have succumbed to the relentless weathering of time and distance: the time that elapses from the first meeting with the original to the last revision of its errant double, which may be considerable; the psychic distance that divides the newcomer from his antecedence. Whatever triumph he may claim, or others may claim for him, his re-imagining of what is only partly there is always a function of regret and of missing. He is, as Du Bellay himself knew when he wrote Les Regrets, like le pélerin regrettant sa maison.

But we can go further. Since the exercise upon which we are now engaged entails the search of the “essence” of poetry, we can say, by extrapolation, that from the perspective of the poet in the act of composition, the enigmatic and tantalizing “essence” of poetry is identical to that of translation, that is, nostalgia, regret, contrition for the core of failure that resides in every tentative success and even in the greatest and most undoubted success. The sense of elation the poet feels in having brought his poem to term is always tempered by the sobering realization that he could have done better in rendering insight into language, but also by his recognition that the best of which he is capable is necessarily unequal to the challenge. The object always escapes his grasp, leaving only a token of its passage behind—a stone, an arch, a façade. 

The attempt to transpose experience into words approximates the relation of effigy to totem, of things resembling something else to things looking what they are supposed to look like. The poet is acutely conscious that the poem he has “carried over” from his mind onto the page or, alternatively, from the world to the word, remains only an effigy, an impoverished replica, of a reality that is resolutely totemic and so only partly translatable. And this is true no matter how luminous and gratifying the final product.

In this light, every poem is in itself a species of translation, a Rome that is no longer Rome. To cite once again from Du Bellay’s sonnet XII from Les Regrets, the “essence” of poetry—at least for the poet, for in itself it can neither be isolated nor described—is nothing more, though nothing less, than l’importun souci qui sans fin me tourmente

Finally, as I’ve written elsewhere, “both the translation and the poem are paradigms and images of all human striving, married to desire yet destined to failure, to realize the slippery and ever-elusive promise of transcendence from the given to the possible impossible, to establish contact between indiscernibles, to work at the rapprochement not only between two poets, two readers, two languages and two epochs but ultimately between two aspects of the divided self, the self we negotiate daily in the market of the commonplace and the self we intuit existing in potentia on the other side of language. 

That’s what we call Rome.


1 For Benjamin, poetry and translation are incommensurable projects. “The task of the translator,” he assures us, “may be regarded as distinct and clearly differentiated from the task of the poet,” since great poets may be poor translators. But the relation of competence between the poet as poet and the poet as translator is entirely contingent and may be explained by empirical factors, personal issues or other variables. Nor is Benjamin’s assumption substantiated by facts. To take only one example, T.S. Eliot was undeniably a major poet and, judging from his translation of the Anabasisof St.-John Perse, a first-rate translator as well. Benjamin himself praises Hölderlin for his translations of Sophocles—though, it must be admitted, he characteristically tempers his applause owing not to the work’s falling short in any way but to its very perfection: “the gates of language thus expanded and modified may slam shut and enclose the translator with silence.” What Benjamin giveth, Benjamin taketh away. 

David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. His most recent volume of poetry, The Herb Garden (Guernica), appeared in spring 2018. His manifesto, Reflections on Music, Poetry & Politics, was released by Shomron Press in spring 2016. He has produced two CDs of original songs: Blood Guitar and Other Tales and Partial to Cain, on which he was accompanied by his pianist wife Janice Fiamengo. His latest book Notes from a Derelict Culture (Black House, 2019) was delisted from Amazon as of Sunday December 13, 2020.