The quest for Learner has led me from one oasis of fellowship to the next, across a Tartar steppe of blazing solitude with no end in sight. At each way station I have 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 the same truth to absolute power and to powerless apathy, defying them both. 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 way, even if without understanding how.
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 stone necklace of great promise – disassembled so far – a promise that stretches and flows miraculously beyond their borders, in intimate contact with civilizations elsewhere. Each is full of wise Learners, regardless of their provenance and tongue, who should be harmonizing the choral mass of world peace. Learners of PeaceWorld… Rally ‘round me!
I have been endowed with many gifts: 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, compact work full of hope and depthless despair, packed with solid, vital instructions. A must-read for every thoughtful Learner. Even though, unfortunately, the categorical veto of its recommendations can be found at the end of the Chapter “Is Ecology Constitutional?”
I used to draw sanity supplements from The Nation magazine. Eventually I had to give it up, thanks to its galling rejection of my project or any other for that matter of significant transformation. 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”). The worse things get, the more tragedies and scandals they may whine about in print and the greater the number of horror-struck subscribers who will pay them for their whining. Yeah! If things got significantly better, their kind of “don’t-touch-it!” critique would go out of business. In the long run, this combination of meddlesome meliorists and atomistic progressives winds up rubber-stamping the worst wreckage.
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 hidden urge (well-funded) to see Republican projects succeed with their anonymous backing. With us trapped between these two mercenary corps: the tyrants and the hypocrites.
Take your pick.
The main 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 across the line 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 of progressive ideals by “liberals” 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 it be Mohammed?
Until we mass-produce PeaceWorld, our past offers not much more appeal than the average psychopath who declares himself our evangelist, champion and 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 lovingly 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 they put on 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 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 great 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 workers at the Damage Assessment Branch, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also in Seattle. Someone less distracted would have better served them; but they found a way to abide by my Learner daydreams.
All the ideas herein are my own and do not reflect the policies of the U.S. government, NOAA or the Department of Education. Were that they could…
The AltaVista Babelfish online translation service afforded me the means to turn an impossible dream, translating Learner into French, into an entertaining if challenging impracticality. My dozen Keyword pages as well, it translated in as many languages. Likewise to Google Translation for Arabic, Farsi and Indonesian versions. In addition, I must thank Microsoft, Inc., and its Bowne Global Service auxiliary, for useful if sometimes cranky online translation services in their 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, likewise. Also Médiadico. And, finally, http://www.linguee.fr/, the most useful automated phrase translation service I ever found.
Even in those that translate texts completely, the end-quality has been at best dubious. We are truly weaklings when it comes to gathering together in peace. Much work remains to do.
Learner doesn’t like entrepreneurial application software companies. That service should be a public utility renowned for its consistency, freedom and ease of use. 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 shaded 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 come from me alone. Most of Learner’s prescriptions unfold as part of the natural Tao, as reactionary arrogance caves in little by little under the weight of its own contradictions.
Mine all the errors you will find herein. Please address your comments to me. I welcome in advance your corrections and thank you for them. My feeble wit is not up to this task; that’s obvious. The combined awareness of the world’s Learners may suffice, once it’s brought together in the Agora of PeaceWorld. That is my hope.
Thanks also to the poets.