Saturday, December 20, 2014

1904 Expedition, Antarctic Miskatonic/Arkham Museum

(This work is composed from Public domain images, and the Cthulhu setting which is also in public domain.  My characters and words are copyright Alex Ness, 2014)

Journal Entry,
Late April 1904,
Doctor of Philosophy Adrian Michael Ward, Archeology & History New Lands
Ocean voyage and background thoughts

I never expected or believed that Arthur Coppens would have provided such a sum of money for such an expedition.  I could see if we knew what would be found, but for an expedition of three well stocked ships, crews, ponies, dogs, sleds, and a year's provisions, to seek a supposed ancient site thought to be "entry way to Ancient Agartha"?  We might as well have suggested that we'd found Atlantis covered in snow.  However, I do believe that there are ruins covered by the ice and snow.  And I do believe there is a coinciding opening to some deeper earth cave system holding some ancient ruins of a culture, based upon how many ancient texts refer to periods and eras where the people had to live within the earth.  Documenting that in areas still lived in, such as Europe or East coast US is nearly impossible, but here, where humans no longer live, we have a chance to see what is left, as it was left.

I should state, as a theorectical archeologist and historian of the new people and new lands, I am uncomfortable with any suggestions of where we are going or what we are supposedly searching for.  Better to suggest an expedition in search of the unknown, yes?, than to build hopes.  I remember Dr. Conwell Grey's supposed discovery of Niflheim.  He'd discovered a wonderful never explored place, and one that is surely worth the plaudits and print, but rather than slap a placard of a mythical land, why not give it a chance as a new land and let us develop it as that?
From a distance we could see nothing but ice, ocean, and sky ahead of our passage.  The sky bent as a dome to reflect the fact that we had reached the bottom of the world. The common belief about cold is that it can be fended off with layers.  But one would need to be very thin and tall, and have so many layers as to not be able to move, to be able to fend off this cold.  The chill pervades every joint. every bone, every muscle, and the tears freeze to your face, from the blowing wind.

Thanks to friends with the state of Maine's United State's Coast Guard detachment we have top caliber sailors on board, and thanks especially to connections our financier A. Coppens had with friends in the Maritime provinces of Canada, we have 12 highly skilled army members trained in the skills of marines, in arctic weather.  We are not expecting any sort of pirating, or military opposition, but, having people trained for dealing with the unexpected, you can have a sense of peace of mind about certain things.  The weather will be an obstacle.  The ocean is an obstacle.  The fauna is not an obstacle nor is the flora.  Therefore, we will not need to be armed, but for the distant possibility of polar bears if they exist here or not, I don't know, or, the unknown.

We have come to a place where we are clearly in the proximity of our landfall.  Just where to make our anchorage is important, for it has to be able to be protected from the inevitable storms, and relatively safe from the wintering ice.  Our best efforts must be good enough to sustain men for over 400 days.  We can't possibly send for help with any certainty of response.  And, we have no idea what is, in fact, upon the ice covered continent we have arrived near.

The next day's calculations, and preparations are not the "stuff of adventures" but they can make or break the back of our expedition, and the lack of our preparation could spell our doom.  So we had best be as damned well precise as possible.

And just to say this, while we've anchored, and can see the crushed remnants of an old whaling ship, and whale bones, and various Antarctic life, we've no idea what is in the interior of this alien land.  Of all the places upon the earth, this is the one, I feel, that can kill you without malice, and shred your body, to the bone, in an instant.

I've read with interest about a German/Scandanavian led expedition going on, as we are unloading, in the unexplored Arctic regions, searching for Hyperborea.  I've an interest in that as a New Land, and of course, with any discovery such as the great longed for site of Ultima Thule, the world still has numerous sites that we believe exist, have found evidence of, and now have the means to approach.  Sadly the loss of a number of hot air/or gas filled dirigibles and air ships over the northern pole means, we may or may not have reached them, but have not returned with the news of such.

We have no reason to think that our expedition is being followed or shadowed by any other agency or expedition, we've more than covered our tracks, and we've been very forward with our information with our sponsors, government agencies, and private parties involved, but we've also made certain to be less vocal with the public.  We are well aware of the dangers of "claim jumping" if someone feels the need to find artifacts and make claims.  However, the location of this claim is so very dangerous, almost no one would have the ability to simply "do it", that is, decide to follow and jump the claim.  It has, as it stands, taken more than 3 years to prepare for this expedition.  And that was accomplished only with super human effort.

Journal entry Mid July,
Harbor Station,
Erik March, Expedition leader,

Making way inland we lost a patrol, falling through a crevice that had been hidden by the thin ice, and strangely colored rock formation beneath.  Normally we are safe from such falls, being roped together, and we have experts in climbing.  But the sides of the rock were perfectly smooth, and when the ice shattered it cut like broken glass. The fall took our men more than 30 feet down to the cave floor, whereupon we endeavored to mark off the open crevice and sent for more crew to help in recovery.  At first we dared hope it was for survivors and rescue... but within moments it was clear, it was a body recovery.

But that leads to the team's first archeological discovery, and thus, I turned over leadership to the team's heads, and stepped back from tactical leadership.  The body removal was grotesque, and my men were horrified by what they saw.  Sending replacements was definitely a good idea, because the trauma of seeing these broken bodies would not allow them to go forth.

Journal Entry, Mid July,
Doctor of Philosophy Adrian Michael Ward, Archeology & History New Lands...
Subject: Inland Expedition 

The removal of the bodies of the three lost lives was depressing for the entire team.  The horror was multiplied by the discovery of the fact that there were carvings in the stone floor, and against the wall of the walls of the crevice, were etched images of what seem to look like giant humans with weird vegetable or insect heads, being worshiped by smaller humans.  And various lettering or characters upon the walls towards the bottom of the floor.  This is a natural formation, but it was used for humans, however long ago, and, with that human activity, I suspect that there is a cave nearby.  Perhaps it is small, perhaps it is without purpose beyond protection, but there is likely something.

Half the crew are looking worried, the other half are busily taking etchings and working without any sort of emotional utterance.  For my part, my viscera are churning.  I haven't eaten, so it isn't a natural reaction.  The walls are cold to the touch, to the bare hand.  But they are also warmer than it is cold outside. And there is a perspiration of sorts upon the stones, reflecting our breath, and our body heat warming the surrounding features.  It is an eerie sort of hush, with subzero temps above, and the crevice being warmed by our flesh's heat.

The blood from the shattered bodies didn't really freeze, but rather followed the path that gravity offered and we saw that along the bottom of the crevice wall there was a path, and it led to an ice cave, and something bizarre, in this frozen macabre place.

We made our way in, roped to each other, and with most of the party armed, and most of us prepared to see absolutely anything before us. 

Then we saw it.  A great hall, with more than a thousand skulls lining the path to a greater hall.  And we felt compelled to walk and delve further.  The entrance was ornate. And there was a fire, or, was it?  But we saw the headless bodies of every single member of our crew, who had not accompanied us, hanging from a long cord, and two metal poles.  And there were the ancient men who had carved the etchings we had seen, all dancing around those bodies, chanting in a tone that was not human, and it was not beautiful to the ear.  They sang praises to an enormous stone statue, by size larger than any building I have seen, and they chanted, "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"

My men slowly dropped their gear, and stripped themselves of their clothing.  And joined the dance.

After hours of pleading, to no good end, I attempted to return to the surface, and there, and in this final entry, what I found, was two ships missing, and one crushed by the ice.  And nothing else.  No food, no camp supplies, no footsteps in the snow.  Nothing to sustain me.

I hide the journal where it will hopefully be found and warn others to not come here.  But I suspect, it will be ignored, even if found.

Adrian Michael Ward

Friday, December 12, 2014

White Cranes don't need to be painted a different color

"The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself."  Lao Tsu

A lot of people I know act differently in public than in private.  A person I knew who joined Facebook rather late, had in the preceding two weeks declared himself to me to be a Republican and a right of center oriented one at that.  When he joined the frenzy of Facebook he found that his views wouldn't fit, and very soon declared himself a lifelong Democrat, a Left leaning Libertarian oriented one. I don't care, honestly, people can call themselves fried chicken instead of human if they like.  It doesn't make them fried chicken and doesn't affect my opinion of fried chicken in the least.  But there are many people who seek to hide behind labels, for whatever reason, and I just can't do that.

To give you a convoluted idea of my voting record:

1984 Reagan
1988 Third Party
1992 Clinton
1996 Perot
2000 Third Party
2004 Bush
2008 Obama
2012 Third Party

Do the math if you like, but I don't vote straight ticket, and I consider most 3rd party choices to be saying no to the large 2 party choices I am offered.

This isn't a declaration of independence.  I am simply getting a bit tired of people guessing at my party preferences, and attempts to pigeon hole me. 

However I will say this, I am exhausted by the petty politics people play.  I think most of the people would be content with 90% of most politicians, party unconsidered, the exceptions being the exceptional and the horrible.

One last point... I know a number of people who have literally stopped speaking what they consider to be the truth.  On social media and in public, if asked they will avoid telling the questioner the answer they believe.  The fear of honesty and being hated for being honest in a dishonest world has made for many moments of tantalizing discussions that never arrive at the truth, regardless of how close they arrived.

I am not a fan of George Orwell's personal politics, but I find myself falling further and further into his views about the future.

We are truly closer to the world predicted in 1984 than ever before and Animal Farm is a whisper or two away as well.

Cemetery Ravens

In the cemeteries of those who had family, and were loved, there is a quiet, a silence of the voice, and of the soul that moves through a soul like a river through a land.  In the cemeteries for those without family, and who died without any sort of acknowledgement the silence is different, not at all unlike the silence the dead faced in life.

The ravens circle the cemeteries, not caring which they land upon.  The dead are dead, after all, without fanfare or majesty of life to announce their place, their due retinue, or their societal position deserving of respect.  The grass has grown up here, it has obliterated the names on the stones that lay flat to the ground, and rise above the names on the shorter tombstones that stand.  But sooner or later, this graveyard will be forgotten, as almost all are.  Except by the ravens.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This world is starving while I grow fat

Not a play
Nor a performance
A catastrophe awaits
With misery its companion
Both behind the curtain
While I am walking
Into the face of the finale
The epic disaster upon disasters
There is nothing but
Death beyond this place
No act coming after this one
No curtain after this my fall
My company of friends
Long since abandoned me
I am left to contemplate the mystery
Upon the stage
I am not afraid
I bear no regrets
The living blue marble
Became a brown hell
The world is dead
Gaia stopped calling out
For her home is wasting
The cities are her bones left bare
Her flesh left behind a shell

“We can pray for world peace; we can pray to end world hunger and feed the starving children; we can pray to end genocide; we can pray for things to work out or whatever we desperately want or desire. Unless we take the initiative to make it chances are our prayers will not be answered. If we don’t stop the aggressive nations, terrorists, and gangs that attack innocent people, then there won’t be peace in the world. The poor, the weak, and the innocent will go hungry for another decade or longer. If we don’t deliver food to the starving children, they will not have anything to eat and they will starve to death. This is truth and god is truth! Those who create the turbulent environment are evil; they must be dealt with before evil deals with us.”  Emil Ezegner

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Children of Hunger

There is a basic element in the story of the group of people called the Vikings.  That is, need is what drove the Vikings to discover.  But it also is why they armed themselves, and were so fierce in battle.  Which leads me to wonder, if the fierce men and women of northern Europe had been quite warm, with wool sweaters, and full, with bellies filled full of fish, lamb, cheese, and milk, would they have bothered to explore their world?  Would they have made an effort to conquer the lands nearby, or far away if they were able to be as fruitful as possible at home?

I am not suggesting this in a modern day, oh the Vikings were so evil or mean or naughty sense.  I am a historian by training/education.  I am looking at their actions and find what they did amazing.  But what I am thinking, is, would any famously growing and spreading people who explored and discovered still have done so, had they not had to do so?

I've met a number of people who have suggested that the path of the future, the path we know as history, would be vastly different if the Vikings had colonized North America successfully.  The suggestion is that they were less interested in dealing with the aborigine people, and so they'd have essentially co-existed instead of attempted to either conquer or assimilate the indigine.   I am rather uncertain this would have been the case.  Using Greenland as the example of cultural non collision is not truly a model for the Vikings, even as it was A model.  It was a small segment of a population.  North America was huge compared to Greenland.  Suggesting that the Vikings would have acted similarly is just too much guesswork.  As it is, we don't know.

I am not suggesting I do know the answer.  I don't.  I find the question to be very interesting and it applies to the Mongols as well as the Vikings.  If you could be fat and comfortable, why go out of your house and raise hell?  Unless you like doing that.  And maybe therein is the question that is the real question to ask.  Did the Vikings and Mongols and other raider cultures do so because they needed to, or was it part of their cultural sense of self to attack and conquer other tribes or people groups?

Read More about the Vikings By Me Here

Friday, October 17, 2014

Literary Comfort Food

As a person who loves to read, and loves to collect books the taking off of a weekend to read a book is a moment, a sacrosanct time that is used for reflection and recovery.

I've been fortunate in life to come upon a number of books that move me.  But, more than that, books have caused me to grow mentally, spiritually as well as causing me to become enlightened, and find myself comforted.  Through books I can escape, learn to be a hero, become wise, understand my fears, and go outside of myself and grow from the experience.

Books are a ticket to move from this lifetime to many other lifetimes.  You can travel without ever moving, you can fight a war against horrible monsters, and never be hit.  Truth can be learned, and you can grow, without being the one to pay the painful cost in flesh and blood.

Group 1, Uplifting and Enlightenment

I adore the legends and lore of King Arthur, of the world of Medieval Europe, and of mythic adventures.  Heroism and courage are all I need to give me strength to overcome the obstacles in my path.  Le Morte D'Arthur, Beowulf, Le Petit Prince and Instant Replay all fit in this comfort food group.

Group 2, Metaphysical, Metaphors, Myth

Sometimes the truth, no matter how important it is, cannot be swallowed whole and without help to digest.  For me the biggest truths in life that I could not break down and understand were cracked apart by Albert Camus, and Soren Kierkegaard.  They allowed me to see that even if existence is absurd, that we are called to bring meaning to it through our attention to morals, courage, honesty, and faith.  Albert Camus saved me, in many ways in the dark days on either side of the loss of my mother.  Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queen and Kafka's Metamorphosis were mythic and powerful works that allowed me to see outside of the political and reality worlds I lived in.  And they continue to spark new ways to look at those worlds for me.

Group 3, History and Paths towards the Truth

As a person who has a primary interest in Asian and specifically Japanese military history those works are well known to me and I don't actually revisit them as comfort food.  I read them over and again to dig deeper, not to revisit and explore, but to plant my flag further in and discover new lands.  But in the ancient world I have only the fondest memories of teachers like Ron Marchese from UMDuluth, and learning things that fired my soul.  His words, his knowledge and wisdom fired my spirit to move further than I'd ever have gone.  Peter Green's works on Alexander and the Greco-Persian Wars is amazing, and if I had the money I'd buy every friend copies.  I adore them.  Between Past and the Present is important.  It explains how the past has been hijacked by morons of the present to further idiot causes such as Afrocentrism, and other factless arguments.  Xenophon's Anabasis has long provided me with inspiration.  Against long odds the Greeks accomplished impossible things.  And I grow with every reading.

Group 4, Speculative Fiction

The books shown are some of the authors who fire my imagination, but there are many others.  I am in the debt of them, and this entry is the shortest because I so often speak of it, it should be obvious, the depths of my love and dedication for those works and creative talents.  However, I will say, wherever these authors took me, however I was moved, they did so in a fashion that made me want to come back, again and again.

You might well think, the lists offered to this point are all sentimental choices, offered with little thought and basically random choice and irrational ways of choosing.  I get told I am irrational from many people, for many different reasons.  Truth to tell, I don't actually care.  I wish I could be beloved and thought a genius, of course.  Who doesn't want that.  But having said that, the only truly emotional choice is the final group of books, those written by author Alan Dean Foster.  I began reading his work 40 years ago when my leg was broken and I was in a cast, laying upon a bed, in summer, in my room.  His works kept my mind entertained, and I was deeply comforted by his style, and his way of taking you across galaxies, yet still finding your way back home.  He is one of my very favorite authors, still.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Spoonman in the Tower? No.

There are people who argue that guns are a tool.  In the right hands they can save a life, and in the wrong hands, either those with evil intent or untrained or accidental circumstance, they can take a life. There are people who argue that spoons and forks, and thimbles are all tools as well.  And that no matter the intent, people almost never die from their misuse.

I am not a person who thinks guns can be removed from American society.  And I do not believe, necessarily that they should be.  Limited yes.  Absolutely I believe that there should not be a complete freedom of kind, and number.  But I believe that there is a reason the United States has had almost 200 years of unchecked freedom, and almost 200 years since the last foreign incursion into our land.  I don't believe a lot of the myths created or fed by the National Rifle Association, but, I refuse to consider it all blather in the absence of proof of some of it.  And I surely don't think the worst stories you hear, are necessarily the norm.  In fact, the reason they are on the news is because they are outside of the norm and are an "event".  Bad things happen and we hear of them, that is how news happens.

Most of the rest of the world fears an armed populace, with good reason.  Without the constitutional right to keep firearms by the citizens the government might well choose to govern more often by force, than by rule of law, and by electoral choice. Perhaps not, but, it is clear that Americans believe in some form of gun rights, with more guns in the hands of citizens than there are citizens. 

Having said all this, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy the laws of acquiring firearms were changed, strengthened, made more difficult to get through inspections of the postal authorities.  All to make certain a nut couldn't do what we were told Lee Harvey Oswald had done.

Charles Whitman was a modestly well performing US marine who scored somewhat well as a rifleman on the shooting range.  He was dealing with a number of stresses, the need to succeed to show his father he was worthy, to make his mother proud, to support his wife, and for his future family and children.  After his first and successful enlistment he reentered the military to become an officer, took some university courses.

Whitman was returned to active duty when his grades did not merit his continued scholarship and attendance.  University of Texas at Austin Mechanical Engineering was by no means an easy field of study, and while Whitman was likely bright, his path seemed to be taking him away from school.  That is until the US Marine Corps after a number of incidents ended his service with a dishonorable discharge.

While in school and afterward he began having headaches that were undiagnosed as to the cause.  In his diary he recorded that he had begun hearing voices, feeling urges, and for some reason, he believed, something, somehow, just wasn't right.

His life was crashing down upon him.  His discharge and failure in both university and the Marines were not the only issue he faced.  His father who played a very demanding role in Whitman's mind, announced a split with a possible divorce with Whitman's mother.  Soon, Whitman beat/hit his own wife. In his diary he wrote how hateful he felt towards both himself for hitting his wife, and towards his father for reasons he did not altogether understand.  He began to see a psychiatrist who recognized that Whitman had issues but, it was really too late. When his parents divorced/split, his mother came to live with the Whitmans.   And soon the stress of everything seemed too much.  And Whitman began hearing voices, feeling urges to ascend to the top of the tower "Stand off any army" from the top.

August 1, 1966 he broke.  Mentally he could not go on. He packed a military trunk with ammo, food, and weapons, dressed in camouflage, and went to the tower at University of Texas at Austin.
Whitman had first however, killed his wife, and mother.   He immediately killed 3 people in the entrance and foyer areas, and blocked off the observation deck.  He then dragged his trunk with his equipment, and for 6 hours or so, he rained death upon any person he saw below.  He shot and killed 16 people, and wounded 32.  He controlled the ground beneath him until two lawmen from Austin cornered him and one shot him, Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy.

America was in shock.  Guns were blamed, society was blamed. Youth were blamed.  But what you have is a young man who wasn't evil, he was drugged and irrational, unable to stop himself from doing what he recognized as wrong.  He was mentally ill, and perhaps more.  The problem in America is often not the tools of the killers, it is that we do not see the killers amongst us.  Perhaps that is one of the costs of freedom.  I do not know.  I truly do not.

Point 1

An often underplayed issue for the Whitman event is, was he addicted to Dexedrine?  It is very possible that he was addicted, and there is documented use.  If he was addicted, his rational sense could have been deeply affected.  Lack of sleep, which is a common, even hoped for effect, is a result from use, and in most addicts, there is a hazed over look in the eyes, as if they have become zombies, as a result of lack of sleep.

Point 2

Some people have argued about another issue that plays a large role, did the brain tumor that Whitman had, and that he suggested he had in his suicide note, play a role in his moral reasoning and ability to make choices?  The human brain is still not sufficiently mapped to know, but rather than toss it out and say "the fucker is evil" as so many have, I'd suggest, most people don't feel like there is something in their brain, most don't hear voices, and most don't ascend a tower and hold off an army, evil or not.