The quest for Learner has led me from one oasis of fellowship to the next, across a Tartar steppe of blazing solitude without end. At each way station I rested a while, refreshed by tenders of solicitude and support from a handful of friends. Then I resumed my dismal trek.
In The Language Instinct, Peter Pinker says he never met anyone uninterested in his topic of passion. I cannot admit as much. Passive indifference begot active antagonism, the moment I interrupted routine patter with Learner’s discontent.
I have a genius for stirring ire. I speak just as much truth to absolute power and as to powerless apathy, defying each of them. Sexual harassment would not have triggered such bitter confrontations. My wife Linda suggested it was not so much what I said that bought me trouble, but how I said it. Perhaps. This work would never have seen the light of day without her heartfelt support if at times bemused. Ah, my beloved manuscript widow!
I’m proud of my family and friends: Learner role models all. Many others furthered this work in their own manner, even if they knew not what they did.
I owe special thanks to the foreign volunteers and kibbutznikim (Israeli collective farmers) at Kibbutzim Evron and Dorot. And to our Palestinian hosts, whose birthright is Peace. To our distant ancestors from those ancient domains: Hominids, Pagans, Jews, Christians, Muslims and all those in between: the ultimate survivors of God’s wrath.
The Americas – North, South and Central – form a triad necklace. Similarly, Israel and its neighbors form a precious gem necklace of great promise – split up so far – a promise that stretches and flows miraculously beyond their borders, in intimate contact with other civilizations. Each is packed with wisdom, regardless of provenance and tongue, that should be harmonizing the choral mass of world peace. Learners of PeaceWorld… Rally to me!
I’ve been gifted with many offerings: Plutarch’s passion, Voltaire’s star-field enlightenment, Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, the Dupuy Brothers’ Encyclopedia of Military History, Carroll Quigley’s Weapon Systems & Political Stability, and Mortimer Adler’s How to Think about War and Peace.
My thanks to Lewis Dartnell for his book, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch, The Penguin Press, New York, NY, 2014. And elegant and compact work filled with hope and despair, packed with solid, vital instructions. A must-read for every thoughtful Learner. Even though the categorical veto of its recommendations is at the end of the Learner chapter “Is Ecology Constitutional?”
I used to draw sanity supplements from The Nation magazine. I had to give it up eventually, thanks to its galling rejection of my project or any other of significant transformation, for that matter. Like other American “liberals,” its editors whine endlessly about things they refuse to change. They and their peers in The Progressive, Dissent, Z, Harpers, Utne Reader, Mother Jones and other Anglo-Saxon periodicals that dare call themselves Leftist or Progressive despite their stuffy, middle-of-the-road fainéantise (faynayonteez, “best do nothing”). As things get worse, they whine about more and more tragedies and scandals in print and matching numbers of horror-struck subscribers pay them to whine. Yeah! If things improved significantly, their “don’t-touch-it!” critique would go out of business. In the long run, their combination of meddlesome meliorists and atomistic progressives winds up rubber-stamping the worst damage.
There are only two political parties in America: Conservative and Reactionary: Democrats who haven’t had a good idea in six decades or adopted anyone else’s in three, and Republicans who’ve never met a bad idea they didn’t love. Bad ideas that the Democrats never manage to resist, as if by black magic or some veiled urge (well-funded) to see Republican projects succeed with their anonymous backing. We are trapped between these political mercenaries: the tyrants and the hypocrites.
Take your pick.
The principal difference between them is that Democrats have trouble opting between good policies and bad, while Republicans, between bad policies and illegal ones. Bipartisanship is achieved when they agree on policies akimbo between bad and illegal.
The editorial formula of The Nation (if there ever was one; it remains carefully obscured) entails a perpetual fumbling of the initiative in favor of the reactionaries. Handover, period. America’s political quagmire bears out my conclusion. So-called Progressives are more to blame for the sewage backflow of American politics, than the reactionaries themselves. We could easily dismiss those stupid, stupid reactionaries; but the subtle monopoly and sabotage by “liberal leadership” of progressive ideals is a paralytic of fearsome potency.
With such friends, who needs enemies?
Many people and publications have confirmed one or more of my conclusions, even if they took no heed to the subtext of their words, intentions and deeds.
The natural world has placed some heart-wrenching wonders before my eyes. Each new revelation confirmed our entitlement to abundance and justice in peace -- to the benevolence of the God of Love and the Comforter Jesus promised us, pending His return. Could that have been Mohammed?
Until we mass-produce World Peace, our history offers us no more benefit than that offered by the average psychopath who declares himself our evangelist, führer (leader), champion or moral arbiter.
I am grateful to Govind Naidu, Professor of Political Science at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Onto his desk the mails fluttered my unsolicited little manuscript at its earliest stage. His thought-provoking reply galvanized this odd quest of mine. After one ephemeral telephone call, I settled for his unique inspiration.
I owe undying thanks to Ted Fagin: affable neighbor, gentleman gambler, anarchist, bibliophile and Dog Soldier: the mentor I prayed for and now grieve. Cheerily, he set aside his terminal affliction and grave misgivings about the content of this book, to mentor me English. Thanks also to sister Leslie who landscaped my text after Ted had undertaken its civil engineering, to Karen for calling me beyond my comfort zone, and to Jill and her passion for fairness.
My best friends Doug Dean and Paul Lackman plowed through rough drafts of this text and offered me many more suggestions than their few attributions suggest—Doug, from first drafts until his regretted demise so painfully long ago, and Paul more recently.
Thanks in any case to countless thugs, hooligans, hypocrites and fascists out there (flaming, blaming or crypto-) for whom:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”
Who cares whether those the worst donned battledress or class-A drag, institutional silks or the rags of dissent, TV makeup or the ashes of mourning? We are all naked mortals underneath. Their arrogant impunity raised low rancor to new heights of moral rankness, and their crass stupidity to the level of genius. Without the awful fecundity of their malice (the best-nurtured topic of passion WeaponWorld), I’d never have found enough outrage to manhandle this project.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the kind souls at the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Seattle, for whom I’ve worked so long; and earlier, to the staff of the Damage Assessment Branch, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also in Seattle. Someone less distracted would have served them better; but they found a way to abide by my Learner daydreams.
All the ideas herein are my own and reflect in no way the policies of the U.S. government, NOAA or the Department of Education. Were that they could…
The AltaVista Babelfish online translation service gave me the means to turn an impossible dream, translating Learner into French, into an entertaining if challenging impracticality. It translated my dozen Keyword pages in as many languages. Likewise, to Google Translation for the Arabic, Farsi and Indonesian versions of these pages. In addition, I thank Microsoft, Inc., and its Bowne Global Service auxiliary for useful if somewhat cranky online translation services in the Word 2000 package. To http://www.wordreference.com/fr/index.htm, where I found French translations I was too stupid to think up myself, and http://www.touchon.net/annuaire-site-plans-dictionnaires.php for synonyms in French. Also Médiadico and, finally, http://www.linguee.fr/, the most useful automated phrase translation service I ever found.
Even in those that offer to translate texts completely, their end-quality was at best dubious. We are feeble when it comes to gathering together in peace. Much work remains for us to do.
Learner scorns entrepreneurial application software companies. Such services should be consolidated into a public utility renowned for its consistency, free use and effortlessness. In the meantime, Mr. Bill Gates, thank you for having eased my burden in some instances and tremendously complicated it in others (Styles, really?).
Also to Jean Bacon and son, whose book and translation of Les Saigneurs de la Guerre (The Greater Glory) lit my way through the skull-lined catacomb of WeaponWorld. To the others in my Bibliography, whose stepping-stones across the charnel quagmire of WeaponWorld led me to the shady grove of PeaceWorld.
To the lovely Esmeralda Arana, whom I never met, the author of The Path: A Practical Approach to Sorcery, who kicked me in the butt at just the right moment, if only in a direction she had not foreseen.
Hardly any of the ideas proposed here come from me alone. Most of Learner’s recommendations unfold as part of the natural Tao, as reactionary arrogance collapses little by little under the weight of its own contradictions.
Mine every error found herein. Please address your comments to me. I welcome your corrections and thank you for them. My feeble wit was never up to this task; that’s obvious. The combined awareness of the world’s Learners may suffice, once gathered in the Agora of PeaceWorld. That is my hope.
Thanks also to the poets.