The Magician

Once a country blundered along in the typical unjust and oppressive fashion until it eventually came to be led by a particularly powerful leader in the possession of deep magic.

His power came to him out of the hard things he experienced in his younger years. Once he was beaten for trying to save the life of a thief. He grew in perspicacity.

Another time he was stabbed because he took the blame for a friend’s violence. His prescience increased. With each of his hard experiences he gained arcane knowledge into the ways of the soul.

He experienced the contempt and scorn of authorities and suffered the pity of his peers. These experiences did not make him vengeful; they made him compassionate, and they gave him his deep magic, so that when he eventually came to power, he did not weld authority through laws and the courts but through intuitions, subtle stratagems and situational ironies.

Under his leadership, one citizen became very rich by exploiting his workers, and so the magician-leader, through deep magic, deceived the man and led him into poor investments. All his wealth was lost. Then the magician gave him a way to become rich again, and after this the citizen became very altruistic and generous.

This irony went undetected by the populace. Another citizen secretly killed some good people. Seeing this, the magician blinded him, left him to brood, then healed him. The man spent his life serving others.

Inexplicably the leader-magician fired a member of his cabinet. He saw ahead that one day the man would betray the state. He replaced him with a woman with no experience in government but deep experience in conflict resolution; she excelled.

He appointed another woman to a high position in the courts. Unfortunately she betrayed her office, but the offense was forgiven by the magician and the woman was put into an even higher place. The general populace was disturbed, but the forgiven leader excel in her new role. She became incredibly loyal to the leader and the country.

Another man, a rogue doctor, duped his patients by telling them they had diseases that they didn’t have and then prescribing power remedies that caused them great expenses and physical suffering. Through these stratagems he became very rich and by means of his powerful lawyers was not adequately punished.

In this case, the magician-ruler used his magic to deceive the doctor’s own doctor. He diagnosed the rogue physician with a terrible disease — that he didn’t really have — and then prescribed the very same terrible remedies to the punished doctor that he had described to his hapless victims. The rogue doctor gradually wasted away.

None of the magician’s strategies were discovered, and so after a time, thinking that their leader was negligent, that he ignored good and failed to punish evil, the citizens rose up and rebelled. They removed the magician from rule over them, grumbling that his magic was useless, and they began to take matters of vengeance and punishment into their own hands. They brought the former leader to trial, accused him of dark magic and executed him.

Then they wrote new laws, increased the role of the military and police, fortified the courts and built new prisons. But the problem was that without the deep magic of their former leader, they couldn’t figure out who was good and who was evil, nor could they determine what punishments and rewards would be effective in changing the behavior of citizens.

After a time, the entire country fell back into the traditional mode of justice, and evil began to thrive again precisely as it always had, within the system, in the most traditional manner possible, respectable, acceptable and particularly harmful to all but the most powerful.

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Two Men

Once there were two men, living at the same time, doing the same thing, thinking the same way and having the same result. It was a shocking similarity of a very different kind.

The first man grew up with a father who collected houses, and the time came when he too began to collect buildings of various kinds. Following his father, and using what he got from his father, he began collecting hotels, offices, casinos and malls. In short order, he owned a beautiful mess of loans, properties, bankruptcies, wives, divorces and children.

The second man grew up with a father who was a alcoholic, and the time came when the son too began to drink in excess. Following his father, and using what he got from his father, he became homeless and he began collecting shopping carts and wagons, stuffing them with trash of various kinds, covering them at night with tarps and blankets. In short order he owned a veritable wagon train, a massive amount of goods, a traveling entourage excluding several homeless companions.

The men never met, although they lived in the same city, and the first drove by the second on several occasions. Once they were even in the same store together and bought similar items.

Then one day, on the same day, at the same hour, the very same minute and the exact same second they both died.

Their relatives were informed, and when they came together to deal with the end, both families had the exact same problem — what to do with the stuff.

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The Archivist

It was night; chaos hung in the air. 

In the big room with no windows big boxes galloped up and down the rows of shelving,  a wooden wheelchair circled the room again and again. Hunched along the wall stacks of framed pictures watched and jeered. Huge envelopes lounged on the tables, stuffed with vibrating drawings and photos and maps. 

Now noise filled the room. 

Old pictures called out litanies of names, scrapbooks blurted out details about trips and events, sermons filled the air with a cacophony of moralisms and principles, letters confessed intimate details, board minutes droned on about buildings and faculty members and policies, yearbooks joked, documents concerning lawsuits presented defenses, lectures pontificated, financial records ciphered up sums.

By morning, from sheer exhaustion the room quieted, so that by the time she walked in, the space was calm. She wasn’t fooled.

Her commands were succinct and authoritative.

“Provenance!” she commanded one box, and it reshuffled.

“Original order!” she said to another and it was so.

“You are an aggregate,” she said, and boxes here and there flew open and gave up some of their contents to a pile on the table. 

“You are only significant because you a part of that,” she said to the wheelchair, and it rolled quietly to one corner. 

Now her commands came quickly and the room was alive again with movement. 


“Record group!”





On and on she went, ruthlessly making demands, requiring movement, commanding the room. At the end of the day she dusted off her hands, one against the other, stared at the stacks for a brief moment, walked out of the room and locked the door. 

Nothing moved that night. 

The next day a man came to the room, unlocked the door, walked in and strolled down an aisle, looking at the labels on the boxes. He paused in front of one, took it down and carried it to a table. He opened it up and sorting through several items stopped and pulled out an envelope.

“Here you are,” he said, “right where I thought you would be.” 

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The Girl With Three Eyes

Once there was a girl with three eyes in her head; one looked back, one forward, one in. 

It was snock. 

During the first third of her life, she only used one eye, the one that looked forward. She looked forward to what she wanted and went after those things. She wanted a snick, she got it. She wanted a flippster —  got that. She wanted a ripple-rack, got that. She checked them off and racked them up — snick, flip, rip, and yet she felt schnicked. 

Then she hit the middle third of her life, and she began for the first time to user her backward looking eye.  She looked back, and she began to become acutely aware of what she hadn’t gotten. She hadn’t gotten the PDMS she wanted, though she could have. She had not snagged the snog she had hoped for, but she could have. She had never made it to Rockistan, had never experienced a snagaphone but she knew she could have. She felt snogged. 

Then she arrived, by using two of her eyes, at the final third of her life. She was now fully using her forward looking eye and her backward looking eye but slowly, she began to be aware of the views available to her through her inward looking eye. And so, looking in, she saw herself looking forward and backward.

“What is this?” she asked herself.

“This is us,” said herself to herself. “This is our past, this is our present, and this is our hoped for future.”

She was snibbed, and at the same time aware of being snibbed, for the first time in her life. And she saw that she was a snog divided, her eyes pulling her in three directions, backwards, forwards and inward. 

“Stop,” she said to her eyes, “fighting.”

They stopped. 

“Start,” she said, “working together.” 

They started, in an incipient but palpable fashion, working together.

Then she paused and saw with triplified vision, her own snick, flip and rip as if they existed in one was, will be and is. She snockified and snozzled in. 

And in that snozzling in, in that snocking up a beautiful, overarching wave of tranquilapam filled her. 

She was at last, for the first time, and for a moment, at snizzle with herself. 

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The Reversal

She took it home, bathed it, fed it, and made a bed for it in a little room — to make it feel safe. It didn’t feel safe. So, therefore, and nonetheless she gave it 100 baths, 500 sleeps, 1,000 meals and practically exactly 10,000 soft hugs.

The lower life forms recover slowly, if ever, but will seldom enough, if tended to and more than somewhat almost. This is true of the higher ones too.

However, things tend to reverse when given attention and to shift sideway or even flip. Or if not, then maybe it is simply the case that the distinctions made in the first place do not turn out to be correct after all.

Regardless, one day the higher form herself unsettled, lost her way, began to gush, squint her eyes, raise her voice, agitate, dis-say, un-hinge and down-speak to one of the higher life forms in her family.

Then it was most certainly and precisely that the lower life form crept unnoticed up to the higher life forms side, and taking her arm in its mouth, held it, and looked her in the eyes. Time and care passed between them.

It seemed clear, obvious, at this time and in this exact moment that the higher life form was to drop back, hold in, stop, calm, seek safety as directed, somewhat immediately and acutely softly.

She did, almost and enough, at that time and the following time too. After that the two lived together in relative harmony, caring for each other as needed, not really sure anymore about distinctions between things higher and lower.

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Rocket Man

“Three, two, one, blast off” — and up he rose out of the center of the circles of Hierocles, riding the thrusting fire of focus straight through the center of his own mind and into the space occupied by his wife, then quickly through there, now rocketing through the circles of his daughters, faster and faster, away from his friends and his coworkers, streaming upward through the outlying spaces of his associates, powering past his community, his nation, receding now as a tiny speck behind him, flying from his hemisphere, lifting high now above the spinning earth, he shot into hyper-rational space.

It is rarified atmosphere — the neo-Platonic, proto-mathmatic, meta-esoteric,
supra-emotive, ultra-cognitive, visionary-imaginative, superlative-creative realm of the mind.

There exists, seemingly outside of the immediate influence of our essential relationships, the moment of essential ideation, thought, theory, formula, process, proof, syllogism, solution, application, wisdom. There the vast armamentarium of math, rhetoric, history, biology, theology, linguistics, psychology, physics, geology, zoology and all the other disciplines of the academic world come in to play.

Seemingly alone one thinks, ponders, tests, ruminates, muses, clarifies, reinvents, reimagines and proves.

Then he exited from there, in an instant, from  brooding for a moment, luxuriating in time, floating in space, thinking thoughts of thoughts that were beyond all previous thoughts, to rubbing his chin, and then suddenly as if snatched out of his very shoes, to sitting at home again.

In a flash not less, his wife’s voice snagged his rocketing capsule by the nose of the craft and spun him back, falling, dropping, tumbling again into his own living room.

“Are you going to put your daughter to bed, or not? She is asking for you to read her that story.”

And then there, at the center of the circles, he sat with his daughter, her head still wet from the bath, her flannel nightgown soft and fresh and warm from the drier, the book with it’s bright colored pages spread before them, and he said, “I love you honey,” kissed her head, and read her a story about a bat.

And so she grew up like that, at the center of the circles,  grew up just right like that  to become a respected eco-feminist researcher, writer and educator, collaborated with many valuable colleagues, raised a beautiful family and founded a non-profit to empower young female entrepreneurs.

She found a cure for a rare bat disease, and she also wrote a famous children’s story about an unusually joyful pickle and its friends.

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The Spaces To Which We Have Grown Accustom

“You could move to the larger room,” he suggested.

“Well, I have never really thought much about that,” she said. “I guess I could.

He walked into the smaller of the two bedrooms in her condo. It was crowded, a small bed, desk, book shelves, old books.

There was twice the space in the empty master suite just a few feet down the hall. Years had past since her roommate, living in this master suite, had moved out of the condo.

The larger master bedroom included a dressing room, two walk-in closets and a master bathroom. It was a much bigger and brighter space, with a large window opening out onto the patio.

“I could help you move your stuff,” he said. “It wouldn’t take long, and this smaller room would make a perfect office. He paused. She look stunningly unexcited, so he added. “I think the bigger space would be so much more luxurious for you. You could even have a bigger bed.”

“Well, that is so nice of you,” she replied. “I have been thinking about a new bed.”

They stood in silence for a moment, as if contemplating an insurmountable possibility lying on a divine plateau somewhere between his mind and hers.

“Well, just give me a call,” he said to break the awkwardness.

She didn’t, but instead left things as they were — bricked and mortared within the dim interior of the tiny cubicle to which she had grown accustom.

After he left, she retreated to her small room and muttered to herself, “I never did much believe in heaven.”

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