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Behind the Wainscot: 5:1 Post Industrial Fantasy

Behind the Wainscot: 5:1 Post Industrial Fantasy

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   [ “absolute translation” (detail): Peter Schwartz ]


   Post Industrial Fantasy: Part 1
   [ Guest editor: Paul Jessup ]


   


   "The Post Industrial Fantasy Anti-Manifesto," Paul Jessup
   "The Proslogium of the Great Lakes," Catherynne M. Valente
   "The Histories of Now," Jonathan Wood




The Post Industrial Fantasy Anti-Manifesto

[ Paul Jessup ]




      A manifesto is about being disgruntled. About being unhappy with the state of things as they are. Manifestos are about angst, about changing the status quo into some better thing through revolution. It is about replacement, about change.
This is not a manifesto.

     A manifesto in F/SF (and oh! are we so full of them) usually proclaims X way of writing fantasy (or science fiction) superior to all other forms. It is about taking the current stagnation of form and replacing it. Overthrowing it. New Wave! New Weird! Cyber Punk! Ribo Funk! Mundane SF!

     The list goes on and on. People trying to change things. To enforce their viewpoint onto others. Claiming legitimization and power over forms that they have felt have gone stale, stagnant, or bored and boring.
This is not a manifesto.

     What happens when a manifesto in F/SF loses steam? What happens when that great big market swallows it whole? It creates a subgenre. It takes all that fire, all that change, and boils it down into bite sized chunks and makes it marketable. In the end it is submerged, the genre changes.

     The manifesto gets its way. People read the fiction inspired by it. People argue, people are up in arms—and then, then, then…the work ages. Faster than fast, people move on. The genre absorbs it, becomes different because of it. In a way, the manifesto wins. The writers change the genre. But what happened?

     It lost all its teeth. The writers have moved on. Now it's a category, it's marketable. Other people write in it, but the revolution is gone. The revolution has moved on. And all that fire, all that teeth—it doesn't seem as important anymore. But the genre is changed. For ill or good, it moves on. Different than it was before.

     This is not a manifesto.

     Consider this, instead. What about cutting right to the chase? What about moving past all that fire and heat and just accept the end result? What about creating new subgenres instead of manifestos?

     That's what this is. It's not about burning fire or teeth. It's not about unwashed masses of F/SF readers struggling against the mass market banality that is being served to them daily. This is about what happens after that manifesto is eaten and swallowed whole. This is about an idea for a new subgenre.

     Imagine, if you will, a subgenre of fantasy where occultism is studied by the writer like science for hard science fiction or mundane SF. Of course, I'm not talking about believing in that superstition—rather, there are so many untapped stories and ideas in that mythological soil that it is a shame to leave it untapped.

     Imagine a fantasy that is in a contemporary setting, with contemporary problems. But things are different, in ways we can't understand. Lots of little and big things are immensely different. Magickal things seem commonplace. Normal every day things seem magickal.

     Imagine a fantasy were mood and character and theme all take precedent over all else. Characters are the reason for the plot, the reason for the action. Plot is what happens when the characters react to one another.

     Imagine a fantasy with teeth. Imagine a fantasy with fire. Imagine a fantasy with attitude. Imagine a fantasy with nihilism of cyberpunk strapped into an occult frame.

     Imagine a fantasy with complex narrative structures that bend past the normal linear problem–solution setup. That the whole structure itself is part of the story, that the narrative is as important as character, as theme.

     Imagine a fantasy that stays in your brain, changing you after you read it.

     Imagine a contemporary fantasy without faeries, or stealing Native American mythology and spiritualism. Imagine a fantasy that uses surrealistic imagery to taunt the reader and subvert the reader on a symbolic level.

     Imagine a fantasy that is Lynchian in its dreamlike realism. Imagine a fantasy that is like a trance. Imagine a fantasy where the rhythm of the prose is worth celebrating on its own.

     Imagine a fantasy with hidden worlds, tucked into the corner of our contemporary reality. Imagine a fantasy where people in the rural areas and the urban streets go exploring in large ruins of industrial factories and broken down old warehouses and sanitariums.

     All together, I see this as some new subgenre. One I can't explain. It's not the same as slipstream—it has different results. But they do share some similarities. Welcome to the Post Industrial Fantasy un-revolution. I call it an un-revolution because in its heart it is not a revolution, it is not a cry for change in the heart of the world. It is a way of expressing ourselves. Maybe not a new way, but a way that needs to be used.

     I'm sure I'm treading on ground that many others have tread on before. I'm sure this is nothing new. That is why this is not manifesto. That is why this is something else. A manifesto and a revolution require belief, cult-like intensity and flame wars and arguments and wars and battle lines drawn in the sand. A subgenre is a tool; it is another way of expressing something a writer needs to express. And Post Industrial Fantasy is a tool for our modern world, for a way of seeing things and talking about things that need to be talked about. About the decline of the Industrial world. About the state we leave ourselves in after our life has moved on. There is no permanence anymore.

     All the more, we slouch forward, slouch onward. Into our next lives. And we need to talk about it. We need to discuss it. Post Industrial Fantasy is a way of doing this.

Quick definition for Post Industrial Fantasy:
Contemporary fantasy
Edgy. Nihilistic. Has attitude.
Prominence of Urban Exploration
Occult magic based on real world magic research
Characters, prose, mood, and theme paramount
Non traditional narrative structures
Surreal/Dream-Like/ Trance-Like


     As part of this series for Behind the Wainscot, I offer a mini anthology: four stories, each one exploring Post Industrial Fantasy in its own way, in its words, in its own methods. Each story is drastically different, yet at the same time they carry on a conversation. A conversation that is at the heart of each Post Industrial Fantasy work.

These stories are:
The Proslogium of the Great Lakes
by Catherynne M. Valente

The Histories of Now
by Jonathan Wood

Philannion
by Paul Jessup

And an excerpt from The Secret History of Moscow
by Ekaterina Sedia
[ Prime Books, November ]




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Paul Jessup has been published in many magazines, including Apex Digest, Fantasy Magazine, Farrago's Wainscot, Post Scripts, Electric Velocipede, Psuedopod, Flashing Swords, Nanobison, Journals of Experimental Fiction, Jacob's Ladder and the Harrow. He is also the recipient of the 2000 Kent State University Virginia Perryman Award. He currently edits with his wife the bi-annual magazine GrendelSong.






The Proslogium of the Great Lakes

[ Catherynne M. Valente ]





     There were so many bridges where she was born. When she was a girl chewing the sour black paint from her father's rosaries, Anselm used to stare at those old iron arms stretching tired and cranky over the rust-river and think that they grew like plants, unfurling girders and suspension cables like leaves, like flowers, setting down pylons into the water like growling stone roots, and stood waiting in the green and winding current, drinking sun and spitting out the occasional seed which would nestle in further downriver. She thought dinosaurs must have sniffed at the strange things which creaked up the morning with screeching, grinding bridge-songs. And surely, when people came, wearing deerskin and carrying dinosaur-slaying arrows in their fists, they must have lived on the bridges first, before they thought to try the land. There must have been schools and groceries and state liquor agencies and cornfields and knights with striped lances and cafes with blue umbrellas all along the bridge-walks, monasteries to count and name the drawings up of each bridge to allow the passage of ships and leviathans, houses all along the thoroughfare, wives sitting on the edges and eating fresh pies, kicking their long, tan legs over the river, and librarians hushing children with stone clubs. Under all those feet, the bridges must have known, for the first time, what they were for, and how to be happy.

     Anselm guarded carefully her child's pre-history of the Cuyahoga. She felt that if she spoke of it to anyone, it would cease to be true, that her silence kept it alive, kept it real. It was a devotion she performed for its sake. Even with bridge schematics under her fingertips, she could never quite convince herself of the actuality of construction and iron smelting. She blamed this in part on her father, who was curiously silent on the subject of dinosaurs, having once been a Jesuit, before he met her mother, who was the particular cross on which he chose to pinion himself. She was the wound in his side, he said, and he would bleed for all his days. His guilt was pristine, mint-condition, polished to a high-gloss. They kept it in a glass case above the fireplace, and took it out only for Christmas. The priest took his eyes from his wife only once, when his daughter was born, in order to give her a name. He chose Anselm, for she, he always said, was the elegant proof of God which he might, in the end, be permitted to enter into the ledger beside his weakness. Her mother protested that this was not a girl's name, and he turned back to her, never to truly look at Anselm again. Thus she did not share with him her dreams of the early life of bridges, and thus they were never contradicted.

     There is, of course, no bridge across Lake Erie. She had been told many times that it would be a ghastly undertaking to build one, but even as a grown woman who parted her brown hair neatly in the middle, she suspected that just as there are redwoods that graze the ceiling of the sky with their branches, there could too be a gargantuan grey seed beneath the waves that might one day erupt into the most delicate suspension bridge, brighter and more lovely than the Golden Gate, which would arch like the moon's edge all the way to Canada, glittering with countless lights puffing silvery bridge-pollen into the night. Sometimes, when she squints hard and it is raining, she can see it, spanning the islands, quiescent, waiting for feet.

     All along the lakeside, steel mills spit their pale fire into a sky the color of a ship's hull. The fire-stalks ringed Anselm's bent head like St. Lucia's candles as she walked across the frozen beach, her footsteps cracking the veneer of ice which had hardened over the snow and sand. She had a few minutes left before she would have to return to work, put her green-rimmed glasses back on, and bend her nose to the liturgy of close scrutiny, which was what she called her copyediting of textbooks and technical manuals to keep from going mad. She told herself that she gazed over the gross matter of prose and punctuation with the eye of divinity, excising with plague and flood all that was not perfect. She had told her father this idea, and was rewarded with a small, pained laugh before the old Jesuit felt cold, felt the wound in his side pulse wetly, and bolted from his child to find his wife, his Church, his darling.

     There was just enough time in the afternoon for her to come down to the lake, down the long, rocky stair, eat her roast chicken and green apple sandwich, and scan the waves for her infant bridge, though she would surely never admit, a woman nearing thirty, that she still did this. It was prettier than a cubicle, surely that was a presentable reason to amble down the rickety stones every day.

     The sky was grey and recalcitrant as an old cat, and Anselm looked out over the bridgeless, frozen lake. It made her shiver, the endless whiteness, the ridged and icy waves, frozen at their crest, dropping crystal slabs of foam onto the thick, glassy ice to shatter and skitter like skipping stones. Water had exploded against the stony pebble-pier and simply stopped, becoming in a moment the spire of some splintered cathedral, jagged and sharp and whiter than virtue. In the far distance, the pale, hunched, crenellated ice looked like a distant mountain range, cutting off forever the Canadian wilds from the steel freighters and walleye fishermen. Deep under the surface, she could see the water, impossibly dark, impossibly blue, like the feathers of a great drowned crow. Even the beach had frozen, long fingers of ice inching up through the sand, as though a burning hand had turned it all to glass.

     Anselm took off her glasses and carefully folded them into her brown corduroy blazer. She slitted her eyes against the wind-sting, and let it whip her irises to tears. The clock pulled at her clothes insistently, plucked at her cuffs, tugged at her hair, but she ignored it. She was not looking for the bridge, she told herself, she was just looking at the lake, for stranded ships or fish frozen in mid-leap.

     She remembered her mother, once, had gutted and cleaned three fish in the kitchen sink. She had put her knife down and turned to her daughter, dark eyes tired, and said that sometimes, you find in the center of the world a thing you want above all other things, like a huge, black-finned fish wriggling in the sea, and it doesn't matter so much what the thing thinks of you-want is want, and things bend to want, when the want is big enough, and deep enough, things and people and fish. They can't help it. But better, she told her daughter, to want than to be wanted.

     Anselm had been a good child, and dutiful, and she tried to want things as hard as she could. She wanted the bridge, and the lake, and the librarians wielding gnarled old clubs, and the knights with visors hammered together from steel girders. She wanted them every day, and built her want carefully and secretly. It became a habit, though by this, the Jesuit's daughter did not mean that it became a custom, but that it became a garment, a brown, homespun thing she wore on her shoulders every day, though it scratched and worried against her age, a white rope she tied around her waist and said her prayers by, a tonsure she had cut into her scalp: the world of Ohio she had once invented because she could not imagine another reasonable means of genesis. Her eyes watered in the chill, and she squirmed under the weight of all the secret things she had lost the ability to disbelieve.

     The Jesuit's daughter knew her namesake well. As far as she had been able to tell, the last time she could stand to read hagiography, Anselm had simply wanted God with such a pure fire that he could not breathe, and while choking on light wrote the Proslogium, which contained some very silly ideas on the necessity of God's existence, because, she thought, he was not quite brave enough to admit that he just wanted it to be true, and that was enough. And so it was that Anselm the younger had no faith in anything but her bridge and her mother's knife scissoring through fish scales, and would balance no ledger.

     She had allowed herself, when she was six, exactly one hour to imagine St. Anselm on the bridge, bundled up in his cowl with his hair on fire, scribbling marginalia into a book so large that it spanned easily one small bend of the river, and he straddled the spine, allowing no one else onto his bridge, the only one on the river without roots. But she could not, try as she might, create St. Anselm with his own face, and each time he looked up from drawings of despair and dolphins and woeful lions passant, he looked at her with her father's eyes. She shut her eyes very tightly and sent a librarian after him.

     By the shore she considered all these things, lingering, refusing, as she did every time, to look for the great Erie bridge. You are too old for this, she thought, as she always did, you must get back to work, or you will be reprimanded.

     So intently did she not look for her bridge that her feet found their way to the creased and wrinkled ice-edge before she knew she had begun to walk. She balanced on the thin line of slippery stones that wandered out into the water and stood at its tip, staring down into the still and silent waves. There was a tiny fish encased in ice below her, its tail caught in a little silver thrash.

     With a brown leather boot she tested the ice. It was thick as a bed, it did not even groan in protest against her slight weight. Far off, she could hear great slabs of lake moving against each other like tectonic plates, sounds like foghorns, low and rough. Anselm stood on the ice. It was loyal; it held her up like a blue palm. She smiled slowly, her pale face, her text-tired eyes, wind-wrenched tears frozen to her cheeks.

     There was, there was a bridge across Erie, and it was cold, and glittering, and vast. How the knights would tilt there, as if at a winter court, with lances of hard, jagged ice, and visors of rusted freight-hull! How the grocers would call out their harvests of ice-grapes and frozen milk, how the cafes would serve their glassy teas in china cups with a black-headed match on the dish, to light and thaw the chamomile! How the librarians would hunt the children, how the monks would dance in the winch-houses, how the long-flanked leviathans with eyes of lump coal would wave at the throng as they passed beneath the great, wide bridge! Anselm could see it, could see the lights flickering on the horizon, could feel her want bending back the lake like a sapphire bow.

     She walked out onto the ice, and did not stop.




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Catherynne M. Valente is the author of the Orphan's Tales series, as well as The Labyrinth, Yume no Hon: The Book of Dreams, The Grass-Cutting Sword, and four books of poetry, Music of a Proto-Suicide, Apocrypha, The Descent of Inanna, and Oracles. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is the winner of the 2006 Tiptree Award. She currently lives in Ohio with her two dogs.



[ website ]





The Histories of Now

[ Jonathan Wood ]




     The crumbling factory that is my family's legacy looms before me. Its silhouette seems to lose integrity at the edges, dissolving into the heavy clouds that clog the autumn sky. We don't even have a key to it anymore. I had to make friends with Joey, the rented security guard, to find out when he makes his rounds and when he goes out to get coffee. He's at Starbucks right now and will nurse the brew back in his booth for the best part of the hour. All the security cameras on the property are fakes. I'll have plenty of time.

     The whole place is surrounded by a mangy chain-link fence. I have come to believe that its purpose is less to keep people out than it is to try to keep the decay contained. It is little good at either task.

     The rusted metal bites into my hands as I throw myself over it and haul the wallpaper table and the sack of chloroformed rabbits up after me.

     On the other side I stand in what once passed as an exercise yard for factory workers on their lunch break. Now it's choked with weeds and litter. Nearly all the windows have been smashed and gape open, rending the heavy chain and padlock on the front door and paragons of futility. I cross the exercise yard quickly. I want to get this shit over with.


     Before the beginning there was the Monad, also called the One, the Absolute, Aion Teleos, and Bythos. Within the Monad was and is a second being, an inner god split from the first. It is called Ennoia, or Charis, or Sige. Thus, the Monad is both perfect whole and divided being. It encompasses contradiction without consequence, for it is all: its imperfection is perfection, its incompleteness, completeness. Our binary thinking means little to it.

     Together the Monad and Ennoia conceive a second god, the second Aion (the first being the Monad and Ennoia). The second Aion is called Caen, and we would call him male, even though that is not what he is. With him comes a third, not-quite-female Aion, named Akhana.

     This was the first pair of Aions that emanated from the Monad. They in turn emanated a second male-female pair, who in turn emanated another, and they emanated again, and so on until the spiritual world was full of Aions, each pair a further step away from the Monad, each pair a little further from perfection.


     I pick my way through the piles of trash and rubble. There are signs that the homeless have been here: the remains of fires made hazardously close to old cardboard boxes; discarded needles that glisten in the glare of my flashlight; the stale stink of piss.

     I can't help but wonder if it really is worth saving.

     My great, great grandfather had this place commissioned in 1875, when he abandoned the family's ancestral home in Cairo and moved to the New World, seeking to reestablish our slowly decaying fortune.

     Back in the time of the Caesars, my family's merchant trade was represented in every civilized nation of the time. Our caravans and ships plowed every significant trade route. We even forged several of our own. We were wealthy and powerful.

     But as the Roman empire declined so did my ancestor's fortunes. With each successive generation their economic dominion diminished until it was limited to Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and a few other countries, and then, over time, we held sway only within our homeland, Egypt itself. By 1850 my family owned and operated just a few small factories located near Cairo. In the early 1870s my great great grandfather sold all of these interests and left the Middle East in a bid to recreate the family's old empire anew in the Americas.


     The bitch divorced me a year ago now, just after I performed this ritual last year, just after the final Bermuda trip. That was a joke. Our great idea to save things: reprise the honeymoon. That fucking honeymoon. For all we held it up and admired it, it was that damn thing that finally broke us.

     Thing was, it was perfect. Two weeks in paradise, made all the sweeter for the grime that made up the rest of our lives. I was working in my dad's place, just about scraping enough time and money together to get to business school at nights. She was working the floor at Wal-Mart, trying for a manager's position. We hung the whole honeymoon on the hopes of that promotion. Blew the budget. Not a single penny left in the coffers when we got back. But we'd be okay if she got that promotion, so we went for it anyway.

     Maybe it was that we were too scared to, but we didn't talk about the money once while we there. And maybe it was more than half desperation, but while we were there we enjoyed every dollar and every dime.

     I tell you, it was perfect.


     One of the last Aions created was called Sophia. As with many traditions it is a woman who fouls things up. There are several explanations of how she managed it, but all that really matters is what happened.

     Sophia emanated an Aion on her own, rather than as part of a pair like all the other Aions had done, and as a result her creation was twisted, awkward, and wrong.

     Sophia's offspring was and is the Demiurge, the creator, Samael, Yaldabaoth, Saklas. He is the one who made this world. He is responsible. The chain of divinity reaching back to the Monad, to the perfect one, had grown too thin, too weak, and it broke at him. Or maybe it was before that. Maybe the rot had set in with Sophia, but the gods had kept on going anyway.

     The Demiurge is a force of evil. His creations—this world, the Archons who watch over it—are evil. The material plane, divorced from the spiritual, is his place. It is where he rules. It is a poor imitation of the spiritual world. The Monad has no sway here.

     This is our home, this pitiable fake.


     The ritual I perform in this place each year came with my great great grandfather from Egypt. In its days of power, my family had learned many secrets, some of which came with a burden. Some of those secrets concerned the nature of our world, of how it came to be, and what was required to keep it from an inevitable decline into madness. I hold back the Demiurge and his Archons. I keep them in check.

     Each time I perform this ritual, I save the world.


     The old factory is disgusting. Its stench thickens as I go deeper: sweat, and mold, and age, and fecal matter, all adding up. Graffiti covers the walls: barely comprehensible obscenities and insults, references to people's mothers and obscure sex acts. It sickens me.


     The bitch never asked about the rituals. Every year I'd go and do my thing. Save the world. Keep things ticking over. Whatever. She never really asked about it. Family stuff, I'd tell her. She was good about that at least. Good Italian girl.

     Of course, when we got back from Bermuda she'd been passed over for the promotion and that pretty much screwed us for a while. Pretty much screwed us period. I had to drop out of business school. She had to work longer hours. The stress started to get to us. People told us that the first year of marriage is the hardest.

     That year we scraped and we saved and we fixed our eyes on just getting through to one more vacation. It wouldn't, couldn't, live up to the honeymoon. We knew that. But we hoped that it would all the same. We used that hope to get to sleep after the shouting.

     We went down to Florida that year, and, well . . . it wasn't a bad vacation. It really wasn't. It just wasn't perfect. Once you've tasted perfect, it's hard to give it up. Nothing could live up to that memory. And that hurt us.

     Every year it was the same, even when the bitch finally got the promotion, even when she got others, and the holidays got longer and the places got better. Each progressive holiday was a poorer imitation of that first one. The gap between hope and reality grew wider. The disappointment at the end of each year's grind grew greater.


     My great great grandfather put every penny he'd made on the sale of the business in Cairo into the building of this one single manufacturing plant. It was to be perfect, he said. He hired a mathematical genius to do the architecture. Every angle was right, every slope a triumph of geometry. Every piece of machinery glistened with the sheen of newness. It was to be a marvel of industry.

     Within three short generations my great grandfather and grandfather had run it into the ground.

     My father declared bankruptcy in 1976.

     We own a bodega now.


     I find myself losing heart the deeper I go. The more broken down crap I wade through the more my spirit fails. The once perfect angles are now crumbling curves. They mock my family's dreams of recaptured grandeur. Every year the degradation of the place grows worse. The decay takes a little more of the building with it. Every year I come here, perform the rituals that are meant to stop the degradation of this world, and every year it seems more and more pointless.


     There are seven Archons who help the demiurge rule the world: Ladabaoth, Lao, Sabaoth, Adonaios, Elaios, Astaphanos, and Horaios. All of them are forces of evil. All of them work to keep us in the material world, to prevent us from returning to the spiritual. I alone perform the ritual that holds them at bay, my father now too old to gain access to this building. The fence would defeat him. The world has fenced him out of the salvation he would bring it. It is this world that I save.

     Each year I say the words I was taught, perform the actions I was made to memorize, but none of it means anything to me. I don't understand the dead tongue that I speak. I don't even speak modern Egyptian. I just go through rote patterns I keep struggling. But the world, this building, my life—they all just keep breaking down.


     Eventually, the bitch and I noticed that we were avoiding each other, that the arguments were outweighing the make-ups. We struggled to save things. I don't know why. It's just one of the motions people go through.

     We planned one final trip to Bermuda, one final attempt to recapture the magic. A full two weeks back at the same resort. We got excited about it even. In the month of build up I really began to think we'd pulled it back, that we'd finally found our way back to what we'd had.

     After the first week of the holiday, she left me.

     It wasn't anything specific. The sun shone the same way, the air blew just the same. Everything was as we'd left it. But time had passed. We'd changed. Whatever we'd had, had decayed.

     The bitch took a flight back twenty-four hours before me, and when I got back to the house she'd emptied it. Taken her stuff and most of mine. Not just smashed my shit and left it, but taken it and tossed it. I had to take the bitch to court to get compensation, and I still didn't get enough to cover half of it. She's breaking my back with maintenance.

     I never found the time to get back to business school. I work every waking hour in my father's fucking bodega, cursing all my histories. My life's shit, a hollow battered out shell that I keep rattling around in out of habit.

     And you know what? As I approach the room my great great grandfather had his genius architect build at the center of his factory, at the conjunction of numerous ley lines, as I kick through paint peelings and discarded cans of spray paint, I think, what's the point? Why do we keep on struggling? What, except habit, keeps us going back to these places? What keeps me saving this world? Why not give in to the inevitable decline?

     I come to a halt at the threshold of the ritual chambers, my footsteps dying away, my impetus for forward motion draining out of me. I cannot go on with this.

     But the sight of the room catches me, and I do not turn away.

     The room was built with a skylight. It's long been broken, and the pale afternoon light drifts down into the decaying space in long, lazy shafts. Everything is quite clear here.

     The room is not how I left it. Over the course of a year someone has transformed the room, and made it into something else.

     Something better.

     The room is now just one vast piece of graffiti. No . . . that word is wrong. It is urban art. Or maybe just art. Or something else.

     The whole place is dominated by a vast, pink-red, Hallmark-inspired heart, lurid in its depiction and overwhelming in its scale. It is too garish to be beautiful, but care and talent have gone into its depiction. Across it in flamboyant script are written three simple words:

      "I forgive you."


     The Monad created a final pair of Aions and sent them to the material world to help us battle the Demiurge and his Archons.


     My father has worked his ass off and just bought our family a second bodega. He's hoping to start a chain.


     The heart's message is not for me. I know that would be too much to ask. My ex-wife wouldn't know which end of a spray-paint can to point at the wall. No, this message is for someone else, someone else who has committed some crime, whose histories have weighed them down, someone else who has stepped onto the path of degeneration. But this other, this stranger has been given a second chance, they have been allowed to start things over. They have been allowed to make things better.

     They have been given hope.

     And knowing that is enough.

     I step into the room and set about saving the world.




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Jonathan Wood is an Englishman in New York. He lives on Long Island with his family and keeps 80 monkeys chained to typewriters in his garage. He passes their work off as his own. Their less coherent meanderings can be found at The Rambles of My Headspace.












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