recent dreams

(1) Panoramic view of an obscure private social club—dark wood, dim lighting, a spiral staircase. Here, convicted individuals wearing ankle monitoring bracelets mingle with ordinary club members. I am a new recruit to an elite cadre of enforcers charged with circulating among the crowd and periodically inserting keycards into the ankle bracelets of the convicted persons in order to track their movements within the club. It’s a strange dynamic. Some individuals are resigned to the process and consent without much complaint. Others attempt to evade the enforcers by hiding in various locations within the club, causing me great anxiety on my first day of work.

(2) We enter the warehouse—it is neatly organized and relatively clean, if underlit for the type of work we are about to undertake. The job we are here to do involves assembling office chairs, although everything about the situation points to a black market operation. There are many of us here—representing all ages, genders, and backgrounds—and our numbers only increase as time passes. Suddenly a woman working alongside me expresses interest in building an automaton. I am not surprised and in fact relay to her that I know of a man working nearby who has knowledge of the process. Not only that, but on the other side of the warehouse there is a non-functioning automaton on display in some kind of artifact exhibition. I walk over to the exhibit with the woman and together we inspect the automaton. It is an impressive specimen that appears to be of high-quality construction despite its present inability to turn on and move. We return to work.

jasper the badger

Sir, your badger…

Yes, his name is Jasper.

Sir, some of the passengers have reported your badger has been biting their ankles.

Why do you persist in referring to him as ‘your badger’? He has a name, dammit, and it’s Jasper.

Whatever his name, sir, we can’t have him running amok in the cabin.

He’s not running amok. As you can see he is resting peacefully at my feet, safely stowed under the seat in front of me, per your draconian regulations.

That may be the case at the moment, sir, but just a few minutes ago he was up in first class, where not only did he nearly sever a woman’s pinky toe from her right foot but when I tried to corral him back here into coach, he rather nimbly leapt upon a man’s lap, causing severe scratches to the unfortunate man’s groin area. I had to administer first aid in both cases.

Hmm, that doesn’t sound like Jasper at all. Are you sure there’s not another badger on board that you may have mistaken for Jasper? To the untrained eye badgers do often look indistinguishable from one another.

Sir, I assure you there is only one badger on board this airplane and frankly at this point I’m wondering how it was ever approved for air travel.

On Jasper’s behalf I must take offense at your implication. I’ll have you know that Jasper is a certified emotional support badger. He went through a rigorous six-month training program, during which it was very difficult on both of us to be separated. If you’d like I can show you the certificate he earned. He’s quite proud of it.

That is all well and good, sir, but I simply must ask you to please ensure your badger remains under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight.

And I must tell you that is where Jasper has been, despite these questionable reports of a rogue badger you continue to unfairly foist upon me. Frankly, I’m of a mind to contact the airline and report your egregious manners to the customer service department. What is your badge number, anyway?

Sir, I am a flight attendant. I do not have a badge number. And you are of course welcome to submit your report, but please know there will also be a report submitted that details the havoc your badger has wreaked in the first class section today, including descriptions of the numerous injuries sustained by the innocent passengers caught in the melee.

Well, I must say I’m skeptical of their innocence. They are traveling in first class, after all, and my experience with those types of people is that they always have some traces, however faint, of blood on their hands. So it’s likely this other rogue badger you claim is present somewhere in the cabin was simply settling certain karmic debts. Badgers are actually often tasked in this way with balancing the natural scales of justice, so to speak.

[What follows is a flash of silvery fur, a brief strangled cry, then silence.]

While the plane did eventually complete its flight without any further major incidents, the final medical report listed five victims of badger-inflicted injuries, including the near-fatal laceration of a flight attendant’s femoral artery. While no charges were pressed in this case, Jasper never flew again, at least not on that airline. Attempts by said airline to verify the existence of a training program for emotional support badgers led nowhere, although the investigation did uncover rumors of a similarly described program for marmots located somewhere in rural Washington state.

a dream-story

I arrive in town exhausted. The need to stash my belongings points to a decrepit white Victorian with the air of a boarding house. No one’s around when I enter but this does not concern me. I shove my bags under the bed in an otherwise empty room and return to the street. No one’s outside, either. The town feels like it’s holding its breath. I cross the street to a disused petrol station. As I’m standing in the parking lot a car engine revs from behind the garage. Tires squealing, an old Trans Am speeds out and across the street, up the short incline to the house, and rams through the doorway, disappearing inside. I find this alarming and walk away at a rapid pace.

Now I’m hiding in the woods up the hill and down the street from the house. It’s a pleasant spot, almost like a tended garden but wild enough to offer adequate cover. I keep watch from atop a large boulder. Just as my pulse slows to resting rate a pair of wizard-thieves appears in the street below. They look up in my direction before entering the house. Despite the Trans Am now presumably wedged in the vestibule, only a few minutes pass before they walk out carrying my bags.

I know they are coming for me next, so I don’t bother with further retreat. It will only aggravate them to a higher level of violent intent. When they arrive at my boulder I am calm. They seize me and take me to their camp deep in the woods beyond the town limits.

Over the next few days I attempt to impress them with my rudimentary skills. I levitate small objects and hurl them across the campsite, much to the irritation of its inhabitants. In a moment of insolence I attempt to use my power to asphyxiate the field lieutenant as he delivers a formal complaint about my presence to the lead wizard-thief. A scornful bark escapes the lieutenant’s lips as my weak effort fails. Humiliated I shrink away to my tent. But I know those who matter are secretly impressed. Soon I will be ready. Soon I too will matter.

‘yeah, that’s right, that’s the way it is’

the porcupine and the balloon*

The Porcupine and the Balloon were never meant to be friends….or were they. It will end badly, said the Balloon’s sagging mother. Mrs. Porcupine, her quills white-flecked with age, was less concerned⁠—not foreseeing any obvious threat to her spiny little offspring. You better keep your distance if you wish to stay friends for long, was her only comment. Yet despite their mothers’ skepticism, some mystical force continued drawing the two youngsters together. The shiny buoyancy of the Balloon’s disposition held great appeal to the morose little ground-borne mammal. For the Balloon’s part, it was enthralled by the very pointiness of its companion’s appearance. People always say oil and water don’t mix. But what of balloons and porcupines? Surely the world has witnessed more volatile pairings than this? So let’s allow them their fun (while it lasts), for after all, a balloon’s very nature is ephemeral, and if this particular one prefers to go out with a bang rather than slowly deflating into a crumpled foil bag, who are we to stand in its way?

*I ran out of reading material on the train today so I wrote this for you.

outside the walls

Outside the city walls the scientist retires to smoke his long-stemmed pipe and absorb the local gossip. As the burnt yellow of the sky fades, scattered fires spring up, each circled by a huddle of indistinct figures. The scientist approaches one such group, steps within the fire’s glow and notices a figure seated apart from the others, its face shrouded by a voluminous hood. To this one he turns his attention.

Ah, Liferuiner, it’s been a long time.

The figure nods.

And how many lives have been touched by your handiwork since last we spoke?

The figure stirs, clears its throat.

Actually I’ve been on hiatus, so to speak.

I see. So how have you been spending your time?

I’d rather not say. And you? How go the experiments?

The same as always, my friend. I fear I will never reach the threshold I seek to cross.

Too bad. It is hard for us on the fringes. Our work is never appreciated.

The scientist nods as he puffs on his pipe, watching the Liferuiner jab at the fire with a rough-hewn staff, jostling the reddened coals until sparks shoot forth.

I must return to the laboratory soon, my friend. I cannot tarry here all evening long, as others are wont to do.

The Liferuiner raises its cloaked head, reaches out a withered hand and grasps the fringe of the scientist’s sleeve.

Before you go, I have something for you.

It reaches into a satchel slung across its chest and brings out a small vial of pitch black fluid.

Take this, my friend. May it aid your progress in reaching that threshold you speak of.

The scientist holds up the vial, through the contents of which no light passes. A faint smile flickers across his lips.

I am once again in your debt, my friend. Please do take good care.

He stands and touches the brim of his hat, but the hooded figure has already turned back to the fire, stoking it viciously again with the staff.

Up above the craggy walls of the city loom in the light of the rising moon. The scientist steps forward, now following the path back to the structured madness of his experiments.

bass terror – tetragrammaton

From the 1995 Bass Terror album by Bill Laswell and Nicholas Bullen.

the botanist LIVE



‘There are some elements rooted in established musical theory that make their way into how Botanist songs get written. But really, it’s more a question of summoning. When Botanist music gets recorded, I channel an entity within me that’s been named ‘The Botanist’, a character whose perspective dictates the content of the music and lyrics. In some sense, The Botanist plays through me. When you read an interview with Botanist, you get it with me, Otrebor. The Botanist does not speak in these situations, as he would not have anything to do with humanity. The Botanist speaks only through the music and lyrics.’

Can you outline your vision, ecologically speaking? Do you subscribe to any ecological theories – ie Gaia theory, deep ecology, the “eco terrorist” writing of the likes of Ted Kaczynski? Have you had any ties with any environmental action groups – Greenpeace, Earth First, etc? Or do you take a more figurative or spiritual approach?

O: It’s been remarkable how much of a hook that “eco-terrorist” tag has been, and how the term triggers inquiries to political associations. In Botanist’s world, that descriptor is not necessarily defined by its popular perception – namely, that of people acting as the agents of terror for naturalistic causes. Rather, the term “eco-terrorist” used here regards nature itself as the agent of terror against the human oppressor, and more specifically a representation of how The Botanist, in his particular worldview, sees nature as playing this role. In the mythology of The Verdant Realm, there is no political affiliation, as choosing a political side is about choosing the interests of one group of people over another. In the romantic worldview in which plants reclaim the earth after humanity has killed itself, surely there is no possibility of political alignment.

The dominant, capitalistic global culture essentially sees nature as a resource to be exploited or plundered in the pursuit of profit. Have we lost something important in our relationship with the natural world?

O: Unfortunately for the natural world, the issue of saving the environment is primarily the concern of a portion of the middle class in first world nations, which is very nice when all the lefties in San Francisco or New York are making sure their compostable garbage is in a special biodegradable bag, or when youth hostels make you pay for your contribution to ‘CO2 emissions,’ but the rest of the planet’s human population, the vast, vast majority, is made up of a) people too poor to know, care, or be able to do something about deforestation or the ozone layer, and b) those of immense wealth who enable those with none to continue to be unable to do anything.

Even though green is a hip trend in the USA, major green initiatives keep getting voted down. It will continue to happen until the shift can go from saving the whales for the whales’ sake to saving the whales for the sake of the quality of life and the state of the wallets of those voting. When the environment becomes an economic issue rather than a moral one, change will be made.

Fortunately for the natural world, even if humanity nukes the planet 800 times over and destroys every living thing on it, nature will bounce back eventually and carry on as it always has. Mankind cannot ruin nature. It can only ruin it for itself.

Excerpts above from this 2012 interview at The Quietus.

(thanks hannah!)

r.i.p. david berman

It’s so hard watching them continue to fall . . .

Oh Where

by David Berman

Where did you go, my dear, my day;
Where, oh where, did you go?
To market, to maker of market, to say
Too much of the little I know.

Where did you go, my dear, my year;
Why did you flee from me?
I went from here to there to here
Loitering breathlessly.

Where did you go, my life, my own,
Decades gone in a wink?
Some things are better left unknown
Some thoughts too thick to think.



‘It is autumn and my camouflage is dying . . .’

ursula k. le guin documentary

Ursula K. Le Guin

Streaming free during August on PBS.org.

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