My stories/essays have appeared in the Eunoia Review: the Blue Lake Review: Firewords Quarterly, the Beorh Quarterly, and The Mensa Bulletin, Buried Letter Press: and Novella T, among others.
A Story for Another Time
I fear many things in this world, altitude being primary among them. My fear of heights is such that I cannot calmly contemplate a photograph of a steelworker perched on an I-beam high above the streets of Manhattan. Of course, rationally, I know that I am in no personal danger, but such fears will not respond to reason. I feel – deep down in places that reason will not reach – that I am about to lose my balance and topple into an abyss. I have long since learned to avoid high places, as well as pictures of high places.
The Snoose Boulevard Renaissance
Many years ago, in a reality far, far away (in the Old Mixers on Seven Corners in the Snoose Boulevard neighborhood of Minneapolis) a gaggle of art students would congregate after classes, to discuss aesthetic theory. Since the professors, under whose tutelage they labored, were veterans of the Art Students’ League and had been present at the inception of Abstract Expressionism, these students gravitated toward the idea that a painting’s value must be inherent, without reference to any object or any idea outside itself. That is to say, for instance, that the aesthetic value of Van Gogh’s several paintings of his room at Arles would not be diminished in the least, for a future or a far distant society, in which the chair had no utility, and in which the concept of bed did not exist. Further, though visual works have always been exploited as tools for propaganda, such use does not contribute to aesthetic worth, and indeed, in most cases, serves only to detract from its actual value.
Let me say first, there is no magic line that cleanly divides the aesthetic from the non-aesthetic. Nor is there any way to define with accuracy the term aesthetic. The best we can do is dance around the subject and hope to stimulate your thoughts on the matter.
On the Nature of Time
Though I have no credentials in either physics or philosophy, since childhood I have been curious about the nature of time. Over the years I have come to suspect that time is multi-dimensional and that alternative realities may exist side-by-side (if I may appropriate spatial terminology) in time. I prefer to call this phenomenon diverging realities rather than parallel universes because:
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow . . .
The booming and the clanking and the screaming chorus of dying men faded from his consciousness until only a single scream remained − echoing and reinforcing his fear − as he fled down the long and brightly lit hallway. He burst at last through double swinging doors into a large room filled with lounging old men and overseen by a wasted and weary nurse.
Adventures in a Skinner Box
Kingdoms come in all sizes. The bigger ones — Sweden and Spain and England — have all been spoken for. But there are little kingdoms around that no one has claimed yet, and it doesn’t really matter how big they might be. A kingdom doesn’t necessarily have to occupy physical space at all. There are kingdoms to be found in the clouds — in the fertile imaginations of children. Every boy, no matter how small or how many big brothers he may have, can be the king of someplace.
Altrua St. Trudy bore her mother’s shame with bitter tears. Though if not glamorous or beautiful, she was pretty by any standard, and though she bathed regularly and dressed neatly and in the appropriate fashion, yet she was not popular among her classmates at Jane Wardlow Prettyman Public School. On the rare occasions, she was asked, she could dance a mean foxtrot, and she sang solo soprano in Glee Club. Still, she was shunned by her classmates. And most of the boys – especially those who had nothing else to recommend them – would brag that they had had their way with her under the bleachers. Since it is so much easier and so much more gratifying to believe a disparaging rumor than to refute one, everyone soon began calling her Hotsy St. Totsy, even to her face. Occasionally, when she raised her hand in class, the teacher would call on, not Altrua, but Hotsy.
Somebody Died Somebody died. Somebody important enough to his family and friends, and to his political cronies, but Somebody who made no real difference in planetary history or to the welfare of the human race, slipped quietly away in his sleep last night. He may be profoundly missed by a few. Many will be inconvenienced by his passing. It will be whispered in certain circles that, in his case, death is a definite improvement. But the rest of us will barely notice. Within a generation at most, he will have been virtually forgotten, and the universe will continue to expand as though he had never lived.