Review of fiction, education, science, current events,
essays, book reviews, poetry and Anthroposophy

Number 121, November - December 2018

“Adam and Eve"

Roger François (1928 – ) Roger Francois was born in Petite Riviere, on the Artibonite plain of central Haiti. He began as a wood sculptor and still carves occasionally. He has been painting as well since the early sixties. He loves to paint and sculpt Haitian women, both nudes and market women with baskets and braids. Besides women, M. Francois paints animals: cats, dogs, horses and owls, and in the early 1990’s, began painting sun and moon heads on human bodies. He also does an occasional surreal voodoo painting. His style is robust, bold and always fresh and new. A painting of his hangs in the National Museum, Brussells, Belgium and another was exhibited in the show of Geoffrey Holder’s collection, “Spirits” at the Katonah Museum of Art, (NY) in May 1991. His work has appeared in books and museum shows internationally.

Editor's Page

Moral Socialism
by Frank Thomas Smith


The name of Socialism has become a dirty word. The fault lies with its extreme incarnation, Communism, as practiced by the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and several wannabes in Africa and Latin America. Here we will attempt to reconstruct socialism either in its original meaning or by giving it a new meaning: It refers to a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control, but the conception of that control has varied, and the term has been interpreted in widely diverging ways, ranging from statist to libertarian, from Marxist to liberal. In the modern era, “pure” socialism has been seen only rarely and usually briefly in a few Communist regimes. Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as “democratic socialism"... Continue reading

Book Review

Valis by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick

VALIS (acronym of Vast Active Living Intelligence System) A perturbation in the reality field in which a spontaneous self-monitoring negentropic vortex is formed, tending progressively to subsume and incorporate its environment into arrangements of information. Characterized by by quasi-consciousness, purpose, intelligence, growth and an armillary coherence.
After that discouraging definition, I advise the reader to ignore it and enjoy the book. If, however, you are expecting the usual Philip K. Dick science-fiction novel, you will be surprised and either disappointed or excited by VALIS – for it is not your usual sci-fi novel. Continue reading

Current Events

Why American Leaders Persist in Waging Losing Wars
Hint: They’re Winning in Other Ways by William J. Astore

burning flag

As America enters the 18th year of its war in Afghanistan and its 16th in Iraq, the war on terror continues in Yemen, Syria, and parts of Africa, including Libya, Niger, and Somalia. Meanwhile, the Trump administration threatens yet more war, this time with Iran. (And given these last years, just how do you imagine that’s likely to turn out?) Honestly, isn’t it time Americans gave a little more thought to why their leaders persist in waging losing wars across significant parts of the planet? So consider the rest of this piece my attempt to do just that. Let’s face it: profits and power should be classified as perennial reasons why U.S. leaders persist in waging such conflicts. War may be a racket, as General Smedley Butler claimed long ago, but who cares these days since business is booming? And let’s add to such profits a few other all-American motivations. Start with the fact that, in some curious sense, war is in the American bloodstream... Continue reading


James Lovelock - Earth's Holy Fool by Michael Ruse

James Lovelock

The inventor James Lovelock was born in England in 1919. Early during the Second World War, armed with a degree in chemistry, he went to work for the British government on a variety of projects on the borderline between the physical and the biological sciences. He had an incredible ability to make gadgets from piles of old junk, often surplus to the military effort, and this continued after the war. His greatest triumph was to invent the electron capture detector, an instrument so accurate that if one spilt a solvent on a rag in Japan, one could detect it in Britain a week later. Naturally, a man with such talents attracted attention. Lovelock went freelance and in the early 1960s he was often in California aiding one of his clients, the American space agency NASA, which was just then trying to detect if there was life on Mars. Continue reading

The Say of the Land - Is language produced by the mind? Romantic theory has it otherwise: words emerge from the cosmos, expressing its soul
by Mark Vernon


In conversation at the Hay Festival in Wales this May, the English poet Simon Armitage made an arresting observation. Discussing the nature of language and why it is so good at capturing the experience of being alive, he said: ‘My feeling is that a lot of the language that we use, and the best language for poetry, comes directly out of the land.’ Armitage was placing himself within the Romantic tradition’s understanding of the origins of language, which argues that words and grammar are not the arbitrary inventions of human brains and minds, but are rather suggested to human beings by nature and the cosmos itself. Language is an excellent way to understand the Universe, because language springs from the things it describes. The English philosopher Owen Barfield, a member of the Oxford Inklings in the 1930s and ’40s, whose work as a philologist convinced him that the Romantic tradition was broadly right, put it succinctly. Words have soul, he said. They possess a vitality that mirrors the inner life of the world, and this connection is the source of their power. All forms of language implicitly deploy it. Poets are arguably more alert to it because they consciously seek it out... Continue

Learning a Foreign Language Should be Obligatory in Every School
by Daniel Everett


In the 1960s, in our public schools in California along the border with Mexico, Spanish language-learning was a requirement, beginning in sixth grade. I couldn’t wait to get to sixth grade to start learning Spanish. Our school was more than 50 per cent Mexican-Americans, and I was keen to understand them as they switched back and forth from fluent English to fluent Spanish (or, as they called it, ‘Mexican’). As I began to learn it, my friends asked if I spoke Spanish at home. No, just in school. I was invited to join a Mexican rock ’n’ roll band based in Tijuana, and we performed at Mexican dances and on Mexican television, where I sang lead on ‘La Bamba’ and other songs. My aunt used to say I looked like a bastard brother among the other members of the group. I loved it. I had two identities, Dan the American and Daniel the Chicano (or so my friends would tell me – ‘You’re an honorary Mexican, cabrón!’) Learning Spanish changed my life... Continue reading


Mañana Maria by PJ Miller


I’m sitting—no, reclining—in an oversized hospital chair at Ft. Kessler, Biloxi, Mississippi and dangling my legs over the thing, trying to get the energy to attempt to walk again. My right leg doesn’t want to work. It doesn’t help that I have various tubes in my arms. If I get up to attempt a walk down the hall I have to drag along a veritable life support system. The doctors tell me it will take time. That’s what they tell everyone here. The clear plastic tubes are restrictive and bow outward like thin strands of spider webs leading to bags of clear fluids. The clear, plastic bags remind me of a pet store with a goldfish captured and tied off into an invisible plastic prison. I doubt half of the goldfish survive a week. And, here I am over six months in this plastic bag, and tied off. How long will I survive in this plastic bubble? Contune reading

Downsized (bilingual) by Frank Thomas Smith


The fact that “everything happens at once” is a cliché doesn’t make it less true. Shortly after I lost my job my wife left me. Both the wife and the job were good ones, and the loss in both cases was due to downsizing – if you know what I mean – so I was pretty devastated. At least the company gave me a Golden Handshake, whereas the wife took the house, the car and the kids.
I decided to brood as far away as possible from the scene of the crimes, so I gathered my credit cards and laptop and bought an economy class ticket – it had been a long time since I flew economy, but I was paying for it myself now – and fled to a faraway place... Continue reading

Downsized (Recortado)

Que “las cosas pasan todas al mismo tiempo” es un cliché, pero no por eso deja de ser verdad. Al poco tiempo de quedarme sin trabajo, me dejó mi mujer. Tanto el trabajo como mi mujer eran buenos, y en ambos casos la pérdida fue a causa de un “downsizing”, un recorte de personal (usted me entiende), por lo que quedé bastante desolado. La empresa al menos me dio una indemnización, mi mujer, en cambio, se quedó con la casa, el auto y los niños.
Decidí rumiar sobre lo acontecido lo más lejos posible de la escena del crimen, así que agarré mis tarjetas de crédito y mi laptop y compré un pasaje clase turista – hacía mucho que no viajaba en turista, pero ahora lo estaba pagando yo – y huí a un lugar lejano... Continuar

Love in the Life of Spies (Chapter 8) by Frank Thomas Smith

a spy lady

“Are you comfortable in your quarters, Frau Cornelius?” Lt. Jacks asked the attractive young lady seated across from him in Bavarian-American accented German. It was his first interrogation on his own, but he had been advised that it was routine, she was merely a defector’s wife. The room was small but tastefully decorated and they sat in padded chairs. During the war the Germans had used it for the good-cop part of interrogation. If the P.O.W.s, American and British flyers, were not cooperative they went next to the dungeon below for a few days for softening up, no torture, just isolation, were then brought back up for more officer and gentleman treatment. Most stuck to the name, rank and serial number bit, but some were willing to discuss personal things like wives, children, home towns, with their interrogators, and this inevitably led to elements of military information. Either way, they all wound up in P.O.W. camps...
Continue reading

Miryam - Part Eleven by Luise Rinser


It was almost evening. The ram-horns were already being blown. Announcements that the feast was about to begin. I could hear the death cries of the slaughtered animals from the temple mount, the city already smelled of fresh blood which flowed from the altar down through the gutters to Kidron and the stink of the entrails which had been burnt on the altar lay repulsively in the alleys. The first celebrant passed by holding his lamb in his arms, disemboweled, bled to death. That vile temple slaughtering. Thousands of lambs died that day. Death, everywhere blood and death. How could I eat a lamb that evening? How could I ever again eat the flesh of killed animals? Each animal’s death cry is his, all the blood is his. But then how should I go to the Seder feast without eating lamb? It was the law: the lamb must be eaten, eaten up till the last morsel. In remembrance of that last meal, which our forefathers ate before the removal from Egypt, standing, ready for travel, hurried. And nothing of the meal may be left over. Since then it has been duty, commandment, strict law: every Yisraelite must participate in the Seder feast and must eat of everything on the table. Also the lamb, the usual food. I cannot. But one must. It is a sin not to eat the Seder meal. Continue reading

HeyZeus - A Second Coming in Brooklyn - A Mystery Play in Seven Scenes by Frank Thomas Smith

Second Coming

A young man - Thomas - meets an African-American couple walking on the lake in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. He suspects that the man - HeyZeus - is Jesus, but has almost insurmountable difficulty convincing anyone else - until Alma appears, a young woman who believes him, but may have another agenda. Thomas first meets unbelief in his friends, his colleagues, his fiance, a psychiatrist, a bishop and, finally, himself.

I invited you here today in order to tell you about something extraordinary that happened to me recently here in Prospect Park. Thomas Wolfe wrote that Only the dead know Brooklyn. Maybe that's why it still has a bad reputation. Partly it's deserved of course, but not entirely. There are parts of Brooklyn that don't deserve a bad reputation. It's very big, you know, and that's a reason why it's so hard to know. And it's only one borough of New York City, which is bigger than some countries, like Switzerland or Singapore. Actually New York City should secede from the Union and Brooklyn could then be a state, or province...don't you think? And Brooklyn could be divided into its original natural neighborhoods: Flatbush, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bay Ridge, Canarsie, Crown Heights, and the rest. Aren't they beautiful names? What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet? I don't agree... Continue


The Fifth Gospel - Lecture 4 of 7 lectures by Rudolf Steiner

Our considerations will begin with the so-called Pentecost event. In the first lecture I indicated that our investigation can at least begin with this event. For this event presents itself to clairvoyance as a kind of awakening which the personalities on a certain day, Pentecost, experienced - the personalities normally called the apostles or disciples of the Christ Jesus. It is not easy to evoke an exact perception of all those extraordinary events, and we will have to recall – from the depths of our souls, so to speak – much of what we have already gained from our anthroposophical considerations if we want to combine exact perceptions with all which our lecture cycle has to say about this subject... Continue reading


Parting by Frank Thomas Smith

A window flew open clattering wood,
A girl leaned out as far as she could.
The gentle breasts that filled her dress
Trembled with distraut distress.
A moment later on the bottom floor
A man flung open the rotting door.
She cried: ¿Cuándo volverás?
That, he spat, I know not... Continue reading

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray... Continue

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening Evening by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year... Continue

Words and Music

It Was a Very Good Year by Ervin Drake - Sung by Frank Sinatra

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We'd hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen.
When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stair
With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one... Continue and Listen to Frank Sinatra.

women under umbrella

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