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One goal

One goal

Dear US American Citizen,

If you could pick one major accomplishment for your life, what would be the best choice?
How about saving democracy in the United States?
Not only are you helping yourself, you are helping all your fellow citizens.
And you are helping the world, because the US has enough nuclear weapons to undo the world.

You might choose something like “raise my children so they are strong and independent” etc.
Is that a selfish wish?
It’s a mixture of selfishness and altruism.
People think they are good, but all they do is prop up a few other people while letting everyone else get sucked down the tubes.
But that’s an oversimplification.
Let’s grant that we all have people that are close to us, and that it is neither a great virtue or a terrible sin to want things to go well for them and us and our happy little home.
Let’s grant that’s that’s normal and trying to pretend that it’s a great virtue creates a mafia mindset and trying to pretend it is a terrible sin creates dangerous fanaticism; and in the end, both mindsets divorce us from what we really know to be the case: we most of us probably can’t help but love our family and close friends more than other people, and we do indeed have special obligations vis-a-vis those closest to us, but in the end we have to do our best to be open, loving, and helpful to everyone — because we are all in this together, or else life is too cruel for any of us to bear.

Anyway, forgive the aside. All I meant to point out is that your children will do better in a democracy than in a failed state. Not just the obvious stuff like being able to speak your mind without fear of imprisonment, or being able to keep wealth and power without lying, cheating, stealing, and outright hurting other people. But also: tyranny is inefficient: it’s rulers aren’t trying to do a good job in an open society and get rewarded by the electorate; they are trying to keep power at all costs — it is a thug mindset, and that is not compatible with finding win-wins for everyone to share in and grow with. Tyrannies are bad for business, and also for education and interesting lives and even having the space and energy to help other people.

In short, anything you might want to accomplish with your life has a better chance of sustainable success in a healthy democracy. Even purely spiritual goals like “become wise” or “grow spiritually” or etc: All those goals require that you put Goodness first, and that means looking out for others, and that means pushing for wiser, kinder, more open, competent and principled government.

A nice thing about saving democracy: You can still be you. Because it will take all of us together, so we will all have to bring our unique gifts, perspectives, and styles into the mix.

But what is confusing to me is that even more Republicans than Democrats think our democracy is in jeopardy. And yet is the Republican politicians that are jeopardizing our democracy. Then you see the problem. Then you enter the Twilight Zone. Half the country has lost its mind. Or at least, they’ve decided to miss the obvious. Any crazy notion rather than admit that they are destroying the world for no good reason. The situation is awkward, to say the least. The Republican party used to stick up for democracy. So maybe it is difficult to believe that’s changed; and then if to believe that’s changed would require siding with the Dems, well, that’s just too much to ask.

What is to be done?

We should all be praying, “What can I do to help US American democracy?”

But if people can pray that and vote for Trump, then what coherent thoughts are available to human beings?

We can’t be 100% logical. We need to start from somewhere, and if our thought is not based on a sense of “this actually should be preferred”*, then who can believe in, care about, or follow their own thoughts? Without an experienced spiritual insight at the core of one’s thinking and acting, one cannot think coherently because we humans cannot understand, believe in, or care about thought-paths that are not self-knowingly headed towards the “actually preferable”. We all have our systems and within these our faiths, but faith without insight is meaningless (and at some level we all know that). And insight comes of inhabiting one’s thoughts from the inside: moving one’s conscious space as a whole towards the more aware, clear, honest, competent, kind, joyfully-sharing: towards wiser: towards a sense of “actually preferable” that gets deeper and wiser as one better and better organizes one’s feeling/thinking/acting around it.

So what do we do when people pray for wisdom and they get garbage? What do we say to them? And what implications do their obvious spiritual failures have to say to us and our own self-supposed spiritual insights?

What is to be done?

If you pray for guidance and God tells you that you need to support Trump and the Republicans as they save US American democracy, what is happening? The Republicans are actively obviously dismantling US American democracy. So what is God really saying to you?

It feels suddenly like the middle ages, where a Frenchman believes God is on France’s side and an Englishman believes God is on England’s side. It feels again patently absurd. And yet, the Republicans really are undoing democracy. And that really is the problem here. So I am right.

And yet I must be missing some critical detail, since I have no more patience for Republicans. This proves a lack of spiritual insight on my own part.

What is to be done?

Because ha ha ha, the jokes on all of us.

And time is running out.

Something Deeperism is right: Humans fail to make sense to themselves to the degree they do not feel/think/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, joyfully kind. And groups fail to make sense to themselves to the degree they do not prioritize these values without which none of our worldviews make any sense to any of us; and the way for groups to prioritize those values os by demanding open, honest, accurate, competent, and everybody-wins thinking/deciding proceses of their ruling bodies, and things like free press and democracy can help the people demand these goods of their leaders.

But how to actually implement this in individual and group lives? Trump says he is the honest and good one and a third of the nation scream along.

What is the trick? How to wake ourselves out of this nightmare?

If Something Deeperism were to explode everywhere. Would that do it?

Underneath every human lies the need for “actually preferable”. When used properly, this need drives us towards more aware … joyfully kind feeling/thinking/acting because inhabiting our own feeling/thinking/acting is a prerequisite of going with it towards “actually preferable” directions, and we cannot inhabit our own feeling/thinking/acting except to the degree we follow our own inborn indelible rules for feeling/thinking/acting. Also: those inborn values are not ends in themselves — they require insight into “actually preferable” to make sense to themselves and the rest of one’s conscious space.

Is gullibleness the source of all evil? We trick ourselves into believing in our own nonsense and that allows us to be more easily snookered by the nonsense of other self-deceivers? The most fundamental lie is the one about “actually preferable”. We paste this or that hope or fear into our inner unstated notions about “actually preferable”.

We’ll not save humans from good principles outward. We didn’t have a democracy because we were wise. We had it because the system worked with the pulp of us towards an adequate amount of honesty and openness in government. So what do we do? Or could wisdom yet explode? After all, isn’t liberal democracy both good ideas and intentions AND the structures? How does wisdom and democracy explode everywhere and pull us all together towards better outcomes?

If we all spend all our time praying for a way forward together, will that help? We can share Something Deeperism without arguing about the details, since Something Deeperism sticks to the universal values: feel/think/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, joyfully-aware-of-our-interconnectedness — all of which implies and requires an ever-improving inner organization of our feeling/thinking/acting around a Something Deeper at the core of all our beings: a Something Deeper that Knows that and in what sense it is True to say, “We are all in this together. We should feel/think/act aware … joyfully-aware-of-our-interconnectedness”. A Something Deeper that Knows what is actually preferable.

Something Deeperism is not a universal religion. It is a declaration of a universal shared Purpose: We are all in this together — that’s not just something we would like to believe, or we say because it feels good: it is True. We know it more fundamentally than we know the feelings and ideas that would either confirm or deny it. And by organizing our individual and shared feeling/thinking/acting around this shared fundamental vista, we grow in wisdom: we grow in whole-being insight (ideas, feelings, ect. organized around the spiritual sense within) into what it means to say, “We are all in this together”.

But whenever talk starts going like that, it is highjacked within individuals and in groups by individuals deceiving themselves and others.

That’s why Something Deeperism needs structures. It needs rules. It needs some way to check up on how clear and honest one is thinking, and how compassionate one is behaving. It needs checks on power. It needs free speech. Wisdom knows that it needs help. It needs structures that reward goodness and punish evil. That’s the beauty of democracy: we citizens serve as a final check on madness and corruption in government, and the less mad and/or corrupt a state, the more it pays to treat others well and do work that actually benefits everyone, and the less it pays to lie, cheat, steal, murder, and etc-stuff that you have to do to keep power in an autocracy. In a democracy, you can be a successful businessman without being evil! You can write the truth without going to jail! You can lose power without having to fear for your life! See how fun that is! It is so neat!

So what should we do?

What is actually preferable? GodLight/PureLove. The peace that passes understanding. (Why does Reality love everyone? Why is God also Good?)

But what can humans together share and operate? That was always the great part about democracy: It is humanly feasible.

What should we do?

Sincerely,

Starfish Jones

*(as opposed to founding one’s thought on stories like “I want this” or “God is like this story and this story goes …” or “science is true or should be taken as true-enough, and science says” [we are speaking here of the foundations of one’s thoughts, not about whether the sky is blue because of little particles in the air or because of fairy dust] — all that stuff has no foundation — it has only dogmatic belief desperately clung to)

Author: BW
Editor: AW
Copyright: AMM

PL/SD Soap Wrapper

PL/SD Soap Wrapper

Full Wrapper:

Bartleby’s Pure Love Soap!
100% What Is / 0% What Is Not!
Yes!, Bartleby Willard is the same flim-flamming ad-man promising you both Pure Love in your soap and Something Deeperism in your worldview!
What does he mean? And how does he sleep at night?
He means well and is too fictional to require sleep.
See backside of this label for details.

What is Pure Love? What is Something Deeperism?
How can Bartleby Willard’s Pure Love soap deliver both?

Pure Love is the love that is 100% love; the love that does not push away or pull towards, but that holds and love-lifts everything and everyone.
To the degree that earthly loves truly love, they partake of Pure Love.

Something Deeperism is the worldview positing that there is an Absolute Truth, and people can relate to It meaningfully, but not in a literal/1:1/definitive kind of way, so what is needed is a whole-being (soul-stuff/heart/mind/body) organization around a Light within that alone Knows that and in what sense it is True to say “We are all in this together”. It is a worldview that proves itself to one from the inside out: As we grow in love we understand more what Love is.

The good news is that Pure Love is already all there is, and everyone is already a Something Deeperist!*
But the soap is pleasant and perhaps useful, and the advertising flim-flammery interesting to contemplate.

*Everyone can’t help but sense that the only way we can understand, care about, and/or believe in our own sensing/feeling/thinking/acting is by relating our sensing/feeling/thinking/acting to a Something Deeeper that actually Knows what is going on, what we should do, and that and in what sense it is True to say that Pure Love is all there really is (otherwise, we’re just slip-sliding randomly and have no meaningful-to-us way of choosing one direction over another).

And we all do indeed become internally-coherent (ie: make sense to ourselves) to the degree we pursue and realize that inborn insight.

But what is True is of course prior to our ideas and feelings; so we’re not looking for literal truths clasped with manic ardor, but for a whole-being organization of our sensing/feeling/thinking around a Light within (and thus accessible to our other aspects of thought) and shining through all things (since it is Absolute).

Helpful guidelines: Concomitant with the aforementioned sense of an inner Knowing-Light is the sense that human sensing/feeling/thinking/acting is meaningful to itself only to the degree it is aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, and joyfully aware of and in sync with the interconnectedness of all beings.

Extra hint: Only aware, clear, honest, oh-so-gentle love is real.

How does Bartleby compare to Dr. Bronner?

You might be thinking,
“But the world already has one soap with labels espousing empty platitudes about the Oneness of everything! Do we really need another one?”
Interesting question.
Let’s discuss how Bartleby’s Pure Love soap compares to Dr. Bronner’s line of All-One Magic Soaps.

First the soaps themselves:
Here the advantage clearly goes to Dr. Bronner.
With over a hundred years of soap-making tradition, they know their stuff.
Whereas we are just kind of finding our way towards a good soap blend that we buy from other companies and then mold into the shapes of our fancies.

That said, How long does a bar of soap ever last?
And how much difference is there in the experience of a good bar of soap versus a great one?
Or should the comparison be a pretty good bar of soap versus a really good bar of soap?
In any case, I think you’ll agree that soap is a pretty meaningless and quickly-consumed good, and that a person should aim for a high-quality, safe, sustainably-sourced soap; but not go crazy/all-vainglorious trying to secure the very best soap at all times and all places.
In conclusion, their soap is better, but our’s is pretty good, and soap is a small-portion of not just life, but the consumer culture in general.
You could buy there soap sometimes and our soap sometimes; nothing bad would happen.

Anyway,
You’re an inveterate consumer.
You don’t just buy products because they are useful and/or pleasant and/or worthwhile.
You buy products because they tell you who you are, where you stand, how you fit into the wider world.

In this you err terribly.
However, it is standard behavior and to some degree cannot be avoided.
We are fish in water.
We should be aware of our surroundings and not gulp needless draughts of water, but what good does it do to lie to ourselves?

Which brings up the second point of comparison:
What about the worldviews and philosophical pitter-patter?
Here we cannot speak so much of better or worse, but only of different approaches.

As (annoyingly?) dedicated Something Deeperists, we are very open to the notion that the world’s religions all tap into the same underlying Truth —
a Truth which could be sketched something like this:
We are all in this together, bound in and through a Light shining in and through all things, and we should love the Light within ourselves and everyone else with all our heart and soul and mind, and also love everyone else as we love ourselves — we are all vessels of the Light.

The gist of Dr. Bronner’s philosophy therefore fits the gist of ours; and as Something Deeperists, we would not ask for more than a gist to agree.

We particularly like this one from Dr. Bronner:
“Full-truth our God, hard work our salvation, free speech our weapon. All-One our soul, self-discipline the key to love, uniting All-One above! Above!”

Our dogma team has been mulling over this line for some time.
We think perhaps it holds the key to a problem we’ve been having with Something Deeperism.

Namely: How to know to what degree one’s individual self is living in, by and through the Light; and how to know to what degree a group is doing so?
In both cases, there is no perfect self-knowledge, but we think that discipline is at least a key to love.

What is a disciplined love?
It’s not the same as disciplined rule-following.
How does it relate to disciplined rule-following?

What is an effective love?
When is love in tune with Pure Love / The Light?

And how does all this relate to Heraclitus’s point:
“Listening not to me but to the Logos it is wise to agree that all things are one.” -Heraclitus (Fragment 50)
?

Our dogma team will continue to hammer out the details of our response;
for now, let us say that we find no material difference between our approach and Dr. Bronners.

But we are trying to lay out the internal logic a little more clearly.
To see what we mean, please read and consider our label, and refer perhaps later to our Something Deeperism Institute.

One quibble with Dr. Bronner:
We cannot see our way to assigning metaphysical significance to Halley’s Comet.

In a similar vein:
Dr. Bronner is a committed Something Deeperist, as are we.
As such, we agree with his (implicitly stated) position that you cannot point directly at the Truth (It being prior to human ideas, let alone human words), but must point towards It poetically (not perfectly precise, but still onto something; not objectively verifiable, but verifiable within each conscious moment to the degree one sense/feels/thinks/act aware and clear).
Hence Bronner’s “All-One-God-Faith!” and “Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!” slogans.

However, in our attempt to make Something Deeperism a more rigorous philosophical position, we’ve found it necessary to prioritize a minimal dogmatism which underlies and explicates the more colorful poetries.

This is helpful to individuals because it can serve as an internal check on their own sensing/feeling/thinking/acting: “Am I keeping first things first? How well are my various dogmas, feelings, thoughts, and actions serving those core values and goals that I must follow and attain in order to inhabit, understand, and care about my own actions?
After all, I could have the truest dogma possible, but if I woefully misunderstand it, I miss the Truth by a woeful mile!

And a minimal dogmatism is helpful in groups for the same basic reason:
By keeping their focus on those values and goals without which no human worldview is meaningful to any human, the group’s members are able to work together to create and maintain organizations that are sufficiently open, free, honest, accurate, competent, and responsible for their members to meaningfully communicate with one another and to meaningfully share governance or — in large organizations like nation states — together monitor a representative government and serve as a final check on madness and corruption in their representatives.

It is hard enough to keep to the minimal dogmatisms required for individuals and groups to live and behave well. Therefore, Something Deeperism suggests that we all agree on and work together on these minimum standards for internal-coherency, and not allow ourselves to get distracted with endless debates about more specific dogmas.

This is not to belittle other dogmas, but merely to say:
“By together consciously/awaredly keeping to the core dogmas, we can communicate and collaborate meaningfully; and we cannot be our best selves without working with our fellows within the framework of our essential dogmas; therefore, let’s stick with the critical/universal dogmas, and not get distracted arguing over dogmas that are not absolutely essential for human thought to be meaningful to human beings.”

The minimal values/goals:
We should work to always sense/feel/think/act more and more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, and joyfully-together; which goals imply a belief in truly better and worse ways of being, which implies something along the lines of an Absolute Standard or Truth that we can relate to meaningfully.
But an Absolute Truth would have to be Absolute, and our thought is not, so we could never relate literally/1:1/once-and-for-all-edly to It.
Therefore, the best approach is to seek an inner Knowing-Light within our conscious space (and thus accessible to us) that Knows (ie: isn’t just guessing) how to best organize our sense-of-things, feelings, thoughts and acts.
(the existence of such an inner Touchstone is attested to by many a mystic, as well as our own inner sense:
“Listening not to me but to the Logos it is wise to agree that all things are one.” -Heraclitus (Fragment 50)).

Granted: this description is of necessity rather poetic.
For internal meaning within a group, and for some individuals, it is perhaps a little too open for interpretation.
Therefore, for individuals who hear it calling to them, we can leave the aforestated bare minimal dogmatism; but for groups and for individuals who don’t like the flowery talk of an inner Knowing-Light, it is good enough to agree to work together to keep ourselves and our organizations aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate and joyfully-together.

Why do all this?
Because we can’t understand, care about, or believe in our own (individual or shared) thinking and acting except to the degree it is aware … joyfully-together.

WARNING!
These psychological truths and the relating metaphysical/epistemological attempts (whole being insight around the Light within [pray, meditate, think, start over again and again]) should not be used as an excuse for perfectionism!

It is a favorite trick of tyrants to call imperfect but functioning democracies corrupt while claiming their way is somehow Higher, or at least (depending on the audience) more manly. The goal is not perfection (nor even manliness, whatever that may be), but gently working to think and act a little more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, and joyfully-together.

The goal is gentle resolve around the Kind Light.
Hearts up!
WARNING!

BW/AW
Copyright: AMW

Country Love Memo

Country Love Memo

Dear USA,

What should we do?
What is the poetry to save democracy?
What is the song to shield our soul
from the lies, the idiocy, the meanness?
What is the way forward?

What can we write that would help?
How can we strike the frequency that would build,
that would shake the foolishness apart,
splitting the lie in two, revealing it
as a shambles in the rubble?

Is there anything we can do?

A light touch?
A footnoted compendium?
A play to awaken the voices
within and between us all?

Begin with soap?

Hmmm

Sincerely,

Another Citizen

Author: BW
Editor: AW
Copyright: AMW

Rom Love Memo

Rom Love Memo

Dear Love,

I know that you would like to love me.
But you cannot let yourself love me.
Because it would be a bad idea to love me.
Because I am not good husband material.

What if I could change so that I became good husband material?
Then it would be safe for you to love me.
And you could open your heart fully and let me in.
And I could do the same for you.
And we could be happy.

So I will get a better career.
And I will eat only vegetables.
And fast four times a year.
And meditate and exercise daily.
And be a good choice for you.

Then you can turn towards me
As I turn towards you
And we can sink into one another
in love.

A woman can’t let herself love just anybody.
He needs to be able to give her what she needs for her life.
A stable, safe place where she can relax and be herself and they can raise a family.

I don’t want you to go.
What should I do?
What are the systems I can employ?

Sincerely,

Yours

Author: BW
Editor: AW
Copyright: AMW

Cat Soap Ideas

Cat Soap Ideas

January 1, 2022 Cat Tongue Soap Ideas

1.
Momma Cat says:
“If it’s good enough for my kittens, it’s more than good enough for you, person!”

Finally, you can bring all the loving thoroughness of a mother cat’s love to your personal hygiene!

Whether you enjoy washing, or fear it as much as a kitten, our gentle, delicately fragrant, lather-rich soap in the shape and with the intent of a cat, tongue out and licking, will clean your body and refresh your spirit.

“How magic-like do I now float through all recollections of cats licking kittens, their human friends, themselves, the furniture, and everything else. I am by this perfect balance of whimsy, silliness, function and luxury (I’d forgotten that bathing is a luxury, but now I remember!) transported far beyond the bounds of life and death, into the mists of Beauty=Truth=Goodness=Justice.

“Yes, we live all within an interconnected daydream giggling forth with infinite vigor, yet perfect restraint. How can a novelty soap unravel all the mysteries within my watching mind and seeking heart? I must’ve been ripe. The storm clouds must’ve been nigh on bursting. And this bar of soap, imagining itself a cat come to lick away my grime and dissolve itself for to ferry my missteps down the drain and away, is a mighty spark. A dry soul is indeed wisest and best; but Soul is but damp kindling until lit!

“Ah Cat Soap Merry, ah whirling delight of love-suspended thought!”,

You’ll think to yourself, while using this carefully-selected soap pulp in this hand-designed soap form.

2.
The cat’s had your tongue long enough!
It’s time for you take the cat’s tongue!

Our soap, daydreamily hand-designed with world-class whimsy, is not simply a disarmingly cartoonish cat head with it’s tongue out. No! Into this soap we’ve woven the very essence of a mother cat’s persistent, scolding, but — we take this not on faith, but on fully-present, whole-being observations — fundamentally affectionate kitten-grooming.

Can you believe it? Can you believe that we’ve distilled the essence of a mother cat’s love for her kittens, and bottled it into a soap? All via the mere creation of a form fit to hold it? Well, believe it! Because that’s exactly what we maintain — or else we’re purveying naught but marketing poppycock and advertising flim-flammery!

And so what if we are?

Still the soap is quality, the form is entertaining, and the silliness redeeming.

Yes! We hereby proclaim — and where’s the mountaintop high enough for this valley-flooding news? — that we’re just goofing around.

We won’t name names, but have you never before read the packaging of our competition — and, by nature competitive, we here encompass all for-profit enterprises throughout all of human history — and detected a whiff of duplicity? It’s as if they weren’t coming clean.

Let us come clean! We want your money, but more than that, we want your love, we want safe passage, why want dignity, we want to be out of the rain and into the sun. We want to succeed in this life for real: To support ourselves while contributing to a larger community where everyone is protected from the ravishes of the elements and violences human and animal, and all are free to think and feel for themselves while, through the grace of open and competent government checked and guided by a free people, together coaxing their shared world towards the gentler, the kinder, the wiser, the more joyfully-sharing.

So there you have it. We want it all. And here’s a product we made.

It is a bar of soap in the shape of a cartoon cat licking something or someone. Please consider it for the cat-lover on your list.

But it is also a daydream-chord-striker, a muse-spark, a mirthsome thought-object inspiring a more hilariously meditative bathtimes. Please consider it for the lonely, unnamed longing.

3.
Sick of showering?
Feel like bathing’s just a waste of time masquerading as social convention and marketing gimmicks?
What you need is a hygiene that means something!
What you need is efficiency: A soap that cleans your soul with your body!
What you need is a high-quality, but straightforwardly plain and unobtrusive beauty soap in the shape of a cartoon cat head with it’s tongue out to lick you clean as if you were a kitten.
What you need is a soap that transcends bathing.
What you need is a soap that invites you to consider the mother cat, and how within the persistent, oppressive, scolding licks there is not just a mother’s animal affection for her young, but something much grander.
What you need is a bathtime meditation upon the Love that shines through and binds all sentience.
What you need is Cat Soap Merry.
Cat-Clean, the soap for kittens of all ages, species, and dispositions.

4.
Say Goodbye to solitary bathing!
And Hello to Cat-Clean!
The first soap to bring you all the rough-tongued love of a mother cat!
Try our creamy, soothing artisanal soap in the whimsical shape and with the fiery energy of a cartoon cat, tongue out to lick away all dirt, grime, cares, and senses of propriety and modesty!
Experience the cuddly thrill of a mother cat’s love!
Say goodbye to bathing alone and hello to bathing in the pushy love of Momma Cat!

Cat-Clean: Raising the bar on soap!
Cat-Clean: Two soaps in one:
A simply elegant beauty bar for your skin,
&, for your soul:
A charming cartoon cat, licking away your cares, and reminding you that we’re all just lost, rain-soaked, momma-cat-bereft kittens seeking the Larger Light!

Cat-Clean: Because it’s lonely washing yourself.
Cat-Clean: Reclaim what’s been lost:
Let Momma Cat coerce cleanliness into you once again!
And return thus to Nature — to being home within matter by drifting beyond it, into heart, into charm, into whimsy and delight.

For Volcano Cat Soap

1.
You bathe, but do you live?
You know soap, but do you know Joy?
Introducing:
Cat-Tongue Soap!
All the sandpapery goodness of a mother cat’s love!
Enjoy a high-quality pumice-filled volcanic beauty bar in the form of a cat’s head.
But not just any cat’s head.
A whimsical, cartoon cat, tongue out, ready to lick you clean — whether you like it or not!
By pairing the scratchiness of pumice with the daydreamed invocation of a cat’s tongue-bathing, our soap turns bathing into a nostalgic meditation upon the ways of cats, humans, and the wider worlds.
Try it today!
A CATalyst for tender recollections and profound reflections, or your money back!
[Get it? CATalyst. Because we’re making a list of positive attributes of this product: a lyst. Get it?]
[Hey! Get away from that ad copy! That is not the joke! Who let that guy in the ad room?! That is not the joke!]

2.
Riddle: When is a soap more than a soap?
Answer: When it is an experience!
Cat-Clean, now in cat-tongue texture!
All the cartoonish charm you’ve come to depend upon from Cat-Clean, but with a grainy soap, so as to rub you coarse, with the rough, sandpaper affection of a mother cat’s tongue.
Now and Brand New! Sink into the complete experience of bath time with Mother Cat!
Feel the relentless, nit-picking tenderness of Momma Cat — how there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide as she licks your matted fur until you’re tidy and presentable.
Introducing Cat-Clean, the Cat-Tongue Experience:
Who says “Clean and Wholesome” has to mean “Pleasant and Comfortable”??

Bonus: Cat Soap Merry Ad From July 25, 2013

WAP’s Cat Soap!
The doodle on our soap is over 75% cat and nearly 110% whimsy!
Our soap is formed of fatty and unctuous ingredients!
At Wandering Albatross Press, we manufacture wholesome fun and only wholesome fun! The rest we purchase from other companies to use as bases around which we drape and shape wholesome fun! This is similar to how a sculpture often has a wire base!
The beauty and the grandeur were here before we made our products and will be here after we stop making them!
Our soap — like all soaps — is water soluble! So enjoy this biodegradable product with the same satisfaction, relief, and pride as you’d feel drinking your coffee-shop coffee from a cup made of pressed rice! (I think they make such things; I think I saw it on TV; !)
Don’t worry about the gods! They are too blessed and immortal to bother themselves with you and your escapes into the cuddling “awww!” of drawings that invoke kitty cats! (That’s a joke that we learned from Epicurus. Yes!, we knew him well. No!, we don’t think he knew he was being funny; but, actually, maybe.)
Considered as the average of our aggregate, we at WAP honestly like cats pretty well, so you cat-lovers can kind of think of us as “{sort of} one of your own”!
We get the bulk of the cat-essences used for our cat-doodles by watching 100% real cats!
If we had a budget, almost all of our profits would go towards buying us time to create more wholesome fun!
We at Wandering Albatross Press do not tolerate drunkenness on the job — ever!
(My guess is that) This soap is a poor insulator, but a good conductor! (I might be wrong.)
The tenderness you feel for drawings that invoke kitty cats is not true kindness, but it might be a little bit in the right direction! (Assuming you don’t assume that collecting whimsical sketches of innocently unaware (and therefore cute) furballs is any kind of a stopping- or even resting-point for your love.)

A Useful Something Deeperism

A Useful Something Deeperism

Something Deeperism has changed no one’s life for the better. We therefore judge it useless.

We shall examine the one or two extant practicing Something Deeperist(s) to better understand how the philosophy in practice fails its practitioner.

First, a reminder of the philosophy of Something Deeperism:

Something Deeperism for Individuals

Something Deeperism for individuals purports to be based on a combination of psychological realism and metaphysical plausibility: the human psyche is like so; and this necessitates such and such intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual maneuver; but that’s OK because it is plausible that that maneuver is intellectually, emotionally, morally and spiritually doable; and if it is indeed thus doable, the practitioner will gain more and more insight into that and in what way it is indeed doable as the practitioner advances in their practice.

Something Deeperism for groups is similar, except it focuses more on the fact that no one’s thought makes sense to oneself except to the degree they are successful Something Deeperists; which implies that all our group enterprises (including governing) cannot under any circumstances be allowed to violate the principles of Something Deeperism (because to the extent that they do violate these principles, they are no longer meaningful to anyone within the group).

Specifically,

Something Deeperism for individuals assumes:

(1) Human beings cannot understand, care about, or believe in their own feeling/thinking/acting except to the degree that they feel/think/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, open-hearted/-minded, loving, kind, win-win/best-for-everyone, and joyfully free of selfish concerns. We cannot coherently think/feel/act except insofar as we follow these inborn-rules of our own thinking/feeling/acting.

(2) But to feel/think/act in this way implies insight into what is really going on, what really matters, and how to best fit oneself into what is really going on and what really matters. And also that what is really going on is Truly Good, ie: that insight into “what is really going on” ratifies and explicates our inner sense towards those ways of thinking/feeling/acting without which we cannot understand, care about, or believe in our own thinking/feeling/acting.

If there is no such thing as “what is truly going on” or if we can have no meaningful insight into this Reality, then we have no hope for being very meaningful to ourselves: we cannot help but assume and seek to live in accord with “what is truly going on”. Obviously, people often espouse philosophies that claim otherwise, but they are kidding themselves, hiding in dogmatic and/or aesthetic notions that, for whatever reasons, make them FEEL like they have some kind of meaningful hold on TRUE and GOOD.0

If kindness is not superior to cruelty to a person with insight into “what is truly going on”, then a person with insight into “what is truly going on” would have no way to meaningfully interact with this Reality. Wisdom would lead not to more coherence, but to a fundamental and irrevocable incoherence of feeling/thought/action.

(3) Our only hope is therefore, that Reality exists, that it is something along the lines of a True Good, and that we can have meaningful insight into Reality.

(3a) People say, “what does True Good even mean?” This is just dust in the eyes tactics. What concept does anyone truly understand? Words point towards notions, and never perfectly. Words like “God” and “Buddha Nature” and “Pure Love” and “True Good” point towards shared vistas just as well as words like “door” and “pigeon”. You can argue that “True Good” is just notions like “accurate” and “worthwhile” turned up and up and ever up by some crazed inner longing for perfection. OK, that’s a theory; but the point remains we have the gist of the direction where spiritual notions point. That does not prove they are actually pointing to something infinite, eternal, or important. We’ve not reached that far in our argument. And, in a sense, we never do.

(4) It is not particularly implausible that the mystics are right, and that lying beneath and animating this life is something like Pure Love. An energy of infinitely expanding all-embracing and -uplifting joy. Why not? Once you get down to what’s really going on in the universe, one factual account is as likely as any other. Science can explain to us what math plus empirical observation equal, and that is the extent and culmination of certain aspects of our thought. In a sense, science is true. But it is no more absolutely true than anything else because it can no more prove what it assumes (that our logic and empirical observations have a meaningful relationship to Reality, or that Reality does or doesn’t exist, or what Reality even is) than any other set of axioms and the conclusions drawn therefrom.

(5) Why not follow a spiritual path? Why not purposely seek a Love that is real and wise and that guide one’s feeling/thinking/acting towards more and more insight into what is really going on, what really matters, and how to best fit oneself into what is going on so as to bring about what is best for all? Why not seek wisdom and thereby give yourself a chance at feeling/thinking/acting more and more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, open-hearted/-minded, kind, win-win/best-for-all, and joyfully selfless?

(6) But how? Human feeling/thinking/acting cannot make much sense of literal accounts of Reality.

(6a) We can understand literal accounts of things like science, math, and other clearly defined rules and facts. But a science cannot be clearly defined if it tries to prove or even explain it’s own assumptions. It is precisely because the natural sciences ignore all questions about whether or not their facts actually exist or matter that they’re able to be so literally clear and precise.

(6b) Some religions claim literal knowledge of things like whether or not God exists, and what God is like, and sometimes even what God has done on earth. But even if such knowledge existed, human minds could make no literal sense of it. In the end, even supposing some set of dogmas is literally True, people could not understand them in a literal scientific way for reasons outlined in 6a, and so how could they understand them? They could only understand these literal Truths to the degree they had whole-being insight, ie: an insight that relied not just on literal thought, but on emotional clarity and spiritual insight as well. That is to say, even supposing some religion or religions possess dogmas that are literally True, that Truth is only accessible to people to the degree they are wise, ie: to the degree they are able to transcend the merely literal accounts and enter into a whole-being relationship with the deeper essence of the dogmas. But, really, no religion can possess the literal Truth anyway, since the Truth, if it is to be that great and useful object that we wish It to be, cannot fit into mere ideas, let alone mere dogmas.

(6c) That is not to say that religions have no relationship to the Truth, merely that the relationship any human or human communication or human enterprise has to the Truth is poetic. With a “poetic relationship” we mean that one relates to something meaningfully, and perhaps even with one’s whole being (ideas, feelings, soullight, etc as the case may be), but not in a literal, 1:1, definitive way that lends itself to clear, symbol-based communication like with math.

(6c1) Note that math also becomes poetry to the degree it’s thinker dreams about the math’s relationship to Reality. It is here that math is experienced as art or something more. What it is, we do not hazard a guess; as we’ve not yet hazarded a guess about what the poetry within religious thought is.

(6d) So we’ll have not literal insight into the True Good. But as we noted in 1-3, we require some kind of an insight into the True Good to understand, believe in, and care about our own thinking/acting/feeling. So we can’t give up.

(6e) What about the poetic relationship that religions have with the True Good? What about a path of prayer, meditation, and meeting with others who share a common poetic language for talking about how to act in this world in such a way as to live in accordance with what is really going on and what truly matters? Why not? Why not try for wisdom in this way? Or, if that’s not your style, why not go off alone and pray and meditate and see to do no harm but to be only gentle and kind while praying always for more and more insight into what loving kindness really is? If Reality is True and Good and we can organize our feeling/thinking/acting better and better around Reality, then Reality can help us to think and feel and act more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, etc. And through this ever-improving organization around Reality, we would gain more and more insight into that and in what way Reality was Real, and It was True and Good — we would gain more and more insight into the sense in which it is True to say “We are all this together”. And that would be helpful. We would grow in internal coherence — we would become more and more meaningful to ourselves. There can be no literal proof of Something Deeperism, but with arguments like 1-6e, we can demonstrate that Something Deeperism is worth a try, and that, if it works, it will give one a kind of internal proof: one’s entire conscious space will, by organizing itself better and better around the Truth shining in and through all things, will gain more and more whole-being insight into that and in what way it is True to say “There is a Truth, shining in and through all things — words cannot point to it literally, but they can be part of poetic individual orientations within It and poetic communication of Its Nature.”

(7) But how to know we’re not fooling ourselves? Afterall, isn’t that what people do? Whether their line be “God is Good!” or “There’s no Truth!”, don’t they always do the sam shit? Don’t they always just find ways to feel good and strong and worthy while also sliding trinkets into their pockets and getting accolades from their friends for their generous gifts while they let the rest of the world go down the tubes. Isn’t that what people do, regardless of their stated worldview?

It is at this point that our practitioner’s individual Something Deeperism breaks down.

We observe him wandering around, asking God about some girl, or how he can stop being broke, or what to do about the Republican attack on US American democracy, or what diet will make him the best long-term husband for that girl, or how to stop “the Evil” and what is “the Evil” really? and on and on.

Of course, he receives no reply, but only notions that he then either accepts or argues with.

This is, then, his “wisdom practice”.

He throws in some meditative breathing.

And so on.

It’s ridiculous!

But what is a reliable wisdom practice?

How is this really supposed to work?

Who has this working?

We can put forth guidelines, like: we need enough dogmatism to keep orientating ourselves better and better around the True Good; but not so much dogmatism that we confuse our ideas and feelings about the True Good for the True Good Itself. But how does one put such precepts into practice? I guess the best approach is a humble spiritual path: neither fussing too much about eschewing all dogmas nor about getting dogma exactly right, but instead finding a religion where one feels comfortable and then working alone and with others to grow more and more insight into that and in what way we are all in this together, and what that interconnectedness around the One Light should mean for one’s own life.

The world is full of more or less successful Something Deeperists. Indeed, we all know at some level that it goes too far to say we Know what’s going on, but it also goes too far to say we Don’t Know what’s going on. We all know at some level that our ideas about what’s going on are not the same as what’s going on, but that, in time, by following our inborn impulses towards awareness, honesty, clarity, accuracy, competency, kindness, compassion, win-win and shared joy, we can grow in wisdom — in the whole-being sense about what is really going on, what really matters, and how we should really behave. We all have some sense of the way that our feeling/thinking/acting relates poetically, but not therefore inadequately towards love.

So maybe Bartleby Willard can’t move from essay into a living assay. And maybe Amble Whistletown can’t take spirituality seriously enough to stop bickering with daydreamed gods. But still their ideas about Something Deeperism are basically correct. That many people with no interest in the philosophy of Something Deeperism are better Something Deeperists than they are proves nothing. The philosophy of Something Deeperism is just to help motivate and organize the work of Something Deeperism, but the work itself is the same as its always been: believe in the Light within, but not blindly: keep pushing for more and more whole-being insight into the Light within that tells us we are all in this together.

Collective Something Deeperism & Liberal Democracy

Let us turn now to Something Deeperism in groups. Do we have any living models of Something Deeperism in groups? On the one hand, if we have only one or two living Something Deeperist, we by definition can have no example of Something Deeperism in groups. On the other hand, many of the core principles within liberal democracies are core principles of Something Deeperism. And this is where things begin to get painful and scary. Because we may soon lose democracy in the United States, and this will be a cruel blow to Something Deeperism qua group philosophy, and to humanity as a whole. Let’s not mince words!

First: What do we mean by “we could lose democracy”?

We mean that our shared ability to improve our shared democracy could deteriorate to the point that we can no longer improve democracy, and we will fall deeper and deeper into tyranny — where rulers keep power primarily through fear and violence, rather than primarily by trying to govern openly and competently in ways that win them the support of the public at the ballot box. We mean we could end up in regime where the we are not free to speak our minds at the ballot box (because our will there is completely ignored) or in the public sphere (because of fear for the welfare and safety of ourselves and those we love).

Second: What is the proper place of Something Deeperism in public life, and how does it relate to liberal democracy?

Separation of Church and State. The freedom to speak one’s mind without fear of retribution from one’s government. The right to assemble and discuss one’s ideas with others. The right to a fair trial, unprejudiced by political considerations.

What do these kinds of rights grant one?

They grant one the space to think for oneself and share one’s ideas without fearing retaliation from one’s government, or from one’s fellows.

A government led by elected representatives of the people who must repeatedly stand for free and fair elections if they are to maintain power, with a professional rather than political bureaucracy. A transparent and open government, with the votes and other political actions of the elected officials (except in the rare case of information that could threaten national security) part of the public record. Laws against corruption: against the use of political power to enrich oneself, ones families, ones friends and one allies; against the political tests for bureaucratic functions such as enforcing legislated regulations; against selling political favors; against interfering in election results or in the election process. Division of powers and checks and balances arranged to keep any one person, branch, or group from seizing undue influence over the government — including but not limited to, using their existing political power to maintain their political power.

What do these kinds of rules grant the citizenry of a nation?

They — along with rights protecting free speech, freedom of knowledge, and open discourse — grant the people the ability to meaningfully share the government. The most fundamental duty of the citizenry of a representative democracy is to serve as a final check on madness and corruption in government. So long as they remain diligent and successful here, they can maintain a meaningful relationship to their shared government, and are free to help shape the political landscape and conversations that decide the matters of the day.

What is Something Deeperism?

It is the decision to plainly state and methodologically draw conclusions from that which we all know to be fundamentally true of our own feeling/thinking/acting: we cannot make sense to ourselves except to the extent we are guided by reliable insight into the Truth, but we cannot understand the Truth in a literal way, and so we must seek to better and better organize all our feeling/thinking/acting around the Truth that we sense shining in and through all things.

Long Aside Clarifying Something Deeperism (in general, not particularly in groups — you don’t have to read this part, though it belongs to the nature of your authors that they must write it

This final maneuver is perhaps a bit too mystic for some, they would rather express their inborn Something Deeperism with something like “a Truth that we would hope is already within us and meaningfully related to our ideas and feelings, for if it isn’t, then we will never be able to relate meaningfully to It”. This is indeed probably the better formulation to begin with.

And a better formulation for a mature Something Deeperism would probably be something like what we just gave the neophyte to say, plus something like ” — a Truth that, meditation, prayer, community, and selfless self-giving; all centered around the never-ending quest to better and better follow our inborn sense of towards choosing truer accounts and preferable feelings, thoughts, and actions; all of which has to be and is in fact nourished, explicated, and guided by an inner Light that relates meaningful albeit not literally (and what good would that do us, anyway?, since literal thought is a tool for organizing concrete-seeming objects — not anything a whole human mind can inhabit and understand!) to the other contents of a human’s conscious space.”

But that’s all rather wordy. So, for shorthand we say that Something Deeperism is the recognition that for human thought to be meaningful to itself, one must have insight into the True Good, but that insight cannot (due to the nature of both human thought and any possible Truth) be literal, but must instead by an internally-meaningful organization of one’s conscious space around an indwelling Truth — an organization that would then allow one’s ideas to relate meaningfully enough to the True Good for one to speak poetically yet still meaningfully about the True Good.

But that’s still wordy. And it leaves out any poetry about the True Good that might make our sense of It clearer. So, let’s just say that Something Deeperism is the recognition that we humans know that we should think, feel, and act clearly and honestly, loving one another and the Light within and through us all, and in this way finding and doing what is best for everyone, and living in shared joy — the recognition that we know this sense of things more fundamentally than we know any certainty that would explain it or any doubt that would dispute it.

Returning to how Something Deeperism relates to liberal democracy

Something Deeperism is the recognition that we humans know that we should think, feel, and act clearly and honestly, loving one another and the Light within and through us all, and in this way finding and doing what is best for everyone, and living in shared joy: It is the recognition that we know this sense of things more fundamentally than we know any certainty that would explain it or any doubt that would dispute it.

Something Deeperism in groups is not obsessed with getting every member of the group to agree with the ideas of Something Deeperism. Indeed, what could be more antithetical to Something Deeperism? All that Something Deeperism asks of groups is that they all together agree on what they already agree on: No worldview is meaningful to a human if that worldview contradicts those values without which no human is meaningful to himsherself. Therefore, let us agree to create and maintain rules and standards that encourage and support clarity, honesty, accuracy, competence, compassion/loving-kindness, win-win, and shared responsibility and joy. We’re not random motions, nor adding machines, nor robots, nor even blind animal impulses chained to sophisticated internal and external sensations and machines for generating logical-/causal-chains. We are human beings. And we cannot understand, believe in, or care about the contents of our own feeling/thinking/acting except to the degree we abide by our own internal laws for thinking/feeling/acting: We must think/feel/act in full awareness of our internal and external surroundings — which for humans means we must work to always become more clear, honest, accurate, competent and effective, but also more compassionate, gentle, loving, and effective at making everyone’s world better and life brighter.

That is the path by which a human can become more and more meaningful to oneself. And to the degree we stray from that path, we become less and less meaningful to ourselves. So we defeat our collective and individual selves to the degree we do not agree upon and maintain the supremacy of these fundamental values within our governments and communities. It is not virtuous to destroy those structures that make it easier and more rewarding for you and others to live virtuously. That kind of behavior is idiotic to the degree you don’t know what you are destroying and evil to the degree you do know what you are destroying. What virtue is more fundamental that protecting the structures that foster and encourage virtuous feeling/thinking/acting? And so we betray our individual and collective selves to the degree that we harm those organizations that fight madness and corruption in government.

Madness in government is losing the inability to coherently choose one thing over another. Corruption in government is rewarding non-virtuous behavior and punishing virtuous behavior. The two are interrelated, linked by chaos: the more insane a government, the more chaotic, and the more randomly corrupt; but when a government is purposefully corrupt it also becomes more chaotic and insane. Government corruption is evil in the same way that training oneself to get by by lying, cheating, and harming other people is evil.

Humans are individuals, but they are also all interrelated. And their individual selves flow into their exterior surroundings, so that strands of feeling/thinking/acting flow between them, turning aspects of their individual consciousnesses into the fibers of collective notions and behaviors.

To fight corruption in the individual, an individual must also work to fight it in the collective.

That last sentence is likely to receive approbation from people who would sacrifice free speech and democratic government for laws that outlaw certain types of behavior that they find unpalatable, demand univseral fealty to certain religious or political doctrines, or otherwise hurt everyone’s ability to find their own way to the Truth. To these people, we can only say: You misunderstand us. We’re talking about fighting for a free and open government that respects free thought and speech and does not interfere with an individuals spiritual development (what, after all, is the use of forcing people to pretend [to themselves and/or others] that they believe x, y or z?).

Corruption is most fundamentally the encouragement of a climate where the fundamental virtues are made more difficult, dangerous, and thus rare. It is this squelching of the human spirit that we are suggesting we all band against.

It is evil to seek to weaken democratic laws and norms. Those laws and norms are there so that we can maintain enough control over our government to at least serve as a final check on madness and corruption in government.

By following the dictator’s book of denying a fair election outcome and seeking to make laws that make it more difficult for their opponents to vote and/or easier for local officials to overturn the people’s votes, the US Republican party is pursuing a course that is idiotic to the degree it’s individual and collective actors (collectives are many and overlapping organizations of people) don’t know what they are doing, and evil to the degree that it’s individual and collective actors do know what they are doing.

What do we do? I’m asking you, USA: What do we do?

It doesn’t help much to tell people they are to some degree foolish and the remaining percent evil. But it also doesn’t help to pretend that behavior that threatens to destroy our ability to share government and to together prevent it from oppressing and it’s citizens and lashing out at the rest of the world is just another partisan difference. It is very dangerous to play around with tyranny when your nation has the largest economy and nuclear arsenal in the world — especially when the world faces the potentially destabilizing consequences of climate change and other environmental disasters. To the degree tyranny rules, the nation is governed incompetently. Tyranny is not fundamentally interested in governing well for everyone, but doing whatever it takes to maintain power in the few that for whatever stupid — generally dishonest and cruel — reasons at a given moment have power.

The Republicans chanting “stop the steal!” while supporting, or at least not speaking out against their local representatives’ efforts to reduce or in some cases even overturn opposing votes in the future elections — the Republicans supporting all this anti-democratic behavior not foolish, nor evil, but merely misinformed? But is there not some responsibility for checking one’s sources of information? Is that not part of competent thought? And isn’t incompetent political thought usually to some degree willfully sought: do we humans not seek out internal confusions so as to better cheer along what gives and keeps us in splendor, or at least in good with the side we need to be on in order to feel like we belong?

Ah, but how hard it is to free oneself from one’s fellows! Who among us can stand very far apart from the ideas and sentiments of our closest associates? Or at least from the tribe we’ve adopted — even if we mostly only engage in the tribe passively, by nodding along while someone on TV explains to us the details of how we’ve figured everything out?

And who can navigate the information age? Is it not in many ways a terrible explosion of lonely cacophonies?

And yet, in the end, democracy will fall if Republicans don’t decide to stick up for it even at the cost of a moment of political power. They need to take responsibility for this moment. For the sake of the rest of us, but also for their own sakes. Because a corrupt government is one that discourages truth and goodness and encourages dishonesty, thuggery, cruelty, and the like.

And then, I don’t think I need remind you, and yet I guess I’ll mention this truism: A tyranny may outlaw abortion today and prescribe it tomorrow.

I am at a loss.

What do we do? How can Something Deeperism help?

What good is Something Deeperism?

Everyone gives lip service to the basic values of Something Deeperism. And often people say they are being honest and kind and helpful and doing what is best for everyone, when they are in fact doing pretty much exactly the opposite.

Individual Something Deeperists can hide in empty platitudes about Truth and Goodness, while avoiding the discipline that comes with a more organized spiritual path.

Groups and political leaders can use empty platitudes about fighting for honesty and against corruption as tools to help them deceive people and undermine a government’s anti-corruption measures.

What good is Something Deeperism?

How does it come into its own?

How does it ever actually help?

Please.

How?

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew M. Watson

Frankenstein – Ch. 23

Frankenstein – Ch. 23

Author: Mary Shelley
We link here to our intervention.
This is part of Fixing Frankenstein.

It was eight o’clock when we landed; we walked for a short time on the shore, enjoying the transitory light, and then retired to the inn and contemplated the lovely scene of waters, woods, and mountains, obscured in darkness, yet still displaying their black outlines.

The wind, which had fallen in the south, now rose with great violence in the west. The moon had reached her summit in the heavens and was beginning to descend; the clouds swept across it swifter than the flight of the vulture and dimmed her rays, while the lake reflected the scene of the busy heavens, rendered still busier by the restless waves that were beginning to rise. Suddenly a heavy storm of rain descended.

I had been calm during the day, but so soon as night obscured the shapes of objects, a thousand fears arose in my mind. I was anxious and watchful, while my right hand grasped a pistol which was hidden in my bosom; every sound terrified me, but I resolved that I would sell my life dearly and not shrink from the conflict until my own life or that of my adversary was extinguished.

Elizabeth observed my agitation for some time in timid and fearful silence, but there was something in my glance which communicated terror to her, and trembling, she asked, “What is it that agitates you, my dear Victor? What is it you fear?”

“Oh! Peace, peace, my love,” replied I; “this night, and all will be safe; but this night is dreadful, very dreadful.”

I passed an hour in this state of mind, when suddenly I reflected how fearful the combat which I momentarily expected would be to my wife, and I earnestly entreated her to retire, resolving not to join her until I had obtained some knowledge as to the situation of my enemy.

She left me, and I continued some time walking up and down the passages of the house and inspecting every corner that might afford a retreat to my adversary. But I discovered no trace of him and was beginning to conjecture that some fortunate chance had intervened to prevent the execution of his menaces when suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It came from the room into which Elizabeth had retired. As I heard it, the whole truth rushed into my mind, my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins and tingling in the extremities of my limbs. This state lasted but for an instant; the scream was repeated, and I rushed into the room.

[Our Intervention Elizabeth Lives begins here.]

[Continue reading after you’ve finished “Elizabeth Lives”:]

Great God! Why did I not then expire! Why am I here to relate the destruction of the best hope and the purest creature on earth? She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair. Everywhere I turn I see the same figure—her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on its bridal bier. Could I behold this and live? Alas! Life is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated. For a moment only did I lose recollection; I fell senseless on the ground.

When I recovered I found myself surrounded by the people of the inn; their countenances expressed a breathless terror, but the horror of others appeared only as a mockery, a shadow of the feelings that oppressed me. I escaped from them to the room where lay the body of Elizabeth, my love, my wife, so lately living, so dear, so worthy. She had been moved from the posture in which I had first beheld her, and now, as she lay, her head upon her arm and a handkerchief thrown across her face and neck, I might have supposed her asleep. I rushed towards her and embraced her with ardour, but the deadly languor and coldness of the limbs told me that what I now held in my arms had ceased to be the Elizabeth whom I had loved and cherished. The murderous mark of the fiend’s grasp was on her neck, and the breath had ceased to issue from her lips.

While I still hung over her in the agony of despair, I happened to look up. The windows of the room had before been darkened, and I felt a kind of panic on seeing the pale yellow light of the moon illuminate the chamber. The shutters had been thrown back, and with a sensation of horror not to be described, I saw at the open window a figure the most hideous and abhorred. A grin was on the face of the monster; he seemed to jeer, as with his fiendish finger he pointed towards the corpse of my wife. I rushed towards the window, and drawing a pistol from my bosom, fired; but he eluded me, leaped from his station, and running with the swiftness of lightning, plunged into the lake.

The report of the pistol brought a crowd into the room. I pointed to the spot where he had disappeared, and we followed the track with boats; nets were cast, but in vain. After passing several hours, we returned hopeless, most of my companions believing it to have been a form conjured up by my fancy. After having landed, they proceeded to search the country, parties going in different directions among the woods and vines.

I attempted to accompany them and proceeded a short distance from the house, but my head whirled round, my steps were like those of a drunken man, I fell at last in a state of utter exhaustion; a film covered my eyes, and my skin was parched with the heat of fever. In this state I was carried back and placed on a bed, hardly conscious of what had happened; my eyes wandered round the room as if to seek something that I had lost.

After an interval I arose, and as if by instinct, crawled into the room where the corpse of my beloved lay. There were women weeping around; I hung over it and joined my sad tears to theirs; all this time no distinct idea presented itself to my mind, but my thoughts rambled to various subjects, reflecting confusedly on my misfortunes and their cause. I was bewildered, in a cloud of wonder and horror. The death of William, the execution of Justine, the murder of Clerval, and lastly of my wife; even at that moment I knew not that my only remaining friends were safe from the malignity of the fiend; my father even now might be writhing under his grasp, and Ernest might be dead at his feet. This idea made me shudder and recalled me to action. I started up and resolved to return to Geneva with all possible speed.

There were no horses to be procured, and I must return by the lake; but the wind was unfavourable, and the rain fell in torrents. However, it was hardly morning, and I might reasonably hope to arrive by night. I hired men to row and took an oar myself, for I had always experienced relief from mental torment in bodily exercise. But the overflowing misery I now felt, and the excess of agitation that I endured rendered me incapable of any exertion. I threw down the oar, and leaning my head upon my hands, gave way to every gloomy idea that arose. If I looked up, I saw scenes which were familiar to me in my happier time and which I had contemplated but the day before in the company of her who was now but a shadow and a recollection. Tears streamed from my eyes. The rain had ceased for a moment, and I saw the fish play in the waters as they had done a few hours before; they had then been observed by Elizabeth. Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change. The sun might shine or the clouds might lower, but nothing could appear to me as it had done the day before. A fiend had snatched from me every hope of future happiness; no creature had ever been so miserable as I was; so frightful an event is single in the history of man.

But why should I dwell upon the incidents that followed this last overwhelming event? Mine has been a tale of horrors; I have reached their acme, and what I must now relate can but be tedious to you. Know that, one by one, my friends were snatched away; I was left desolate. My own strength is exhausted, and I must tell, in a few words, what remains of my hideous narration.

I arrived at Geneva. My father and Ernest yet lived, but the former sunk under the tidings that I bore. I see him now, excellent and venerable old man! His eyes wandered in vacancy, for they had lost their charm and their delight—his Elizabeth, his more than daughter, whom he doted on with all that affection which a man feels, who in the decline of life, having few affections, clings more earnestly to those that remain. Cursed, cursed be the fiend that brought misery on his grey hairs and doomed him to waste in wretchedness! He could not live under the horrors that were accumulated around him; the springs of existence suddenly gave way; he was unable to rise from his bed, and in a few days he died in my arms.

What then became of me? I know not; I lost sensation, and chains and darkness were the only objects that pressed upon me. Sometimes, indeed, I dreamt that I wandered in flowery meadows and pleasant vales with the friends of my youth, but I awoke and found myself in a dungeon. Melancholy followed, but by degrees I gained a clear conception of my miseries and situation and was then released from my prison. For they had called me mad, and during many months, as I understood, a solitary cell had been my habitation.

Liberty, however, had been a useless gift to me, had I not, as I awakened to reason, at the same time awakened to revenge. As the memory of past misfortunes pressed upon me, I began to reflect on their cause—the monster whom I had created, the miserable dæmon whom I had sent abroad into the world for my destruction. I was possessed by a maddening rage when I thought of him, and desired and ardently prayed that I might have him within my grasp to wreak a great and signal revenge on his cursed head.

Nor did my hate long confine itself to useless wishes; I began to reflect on the best means of securing him; and for this purpose, about a month after my release, I repaired to a criminal judge in the town and told him that I had an accusation to make, that I knew the destroyer of my family, and that I required him to exert his whole authority for the apprehension of the murderer.

The magistrate listened to me with attention and kindness. “Be assured, sir,” said he, “no pains or exertions on my part shall be spared to discover the villain.”

“I thank you,” replied I; “listen, therefore, to the deposition that I have to make. It is indeed a tale so strange that I should fear you would not credit it were there not something in truth which, however wonderful, forces conviction. The story is too connected to be mistaken for a dream, and I have no motive for falsehood.” My manner as I thus addressed him was impressive but calm; I had formed in my own heart a resolution to pursue my destroyer to death, and this purpose quieted my agony and for an interval reconciled me to life. I now related my history briefly but with firmness and precision, marking the dates with accuracy and never deviating into invective or exclamation.

The magistrate appeared at first perfectly incredulous, but as I continued he became more attentive and interested; I saw him sometimes shudder with horror; at others a lively surprise, unmingled with disbelief, was painted on his countenance.

When I had concluded my narration, I said, “This is the being whom I accuse and for whose seizure and punishment I call upon you to exert your whole power. It is your duty as a magistrate, and I believe and hope that your feelings as a man will not revolt from the execution of those functions on this occasion.”

This address caused a considerable change in the physiognomy of my own auditor. He had heard my story with that half kind of belief that is given to a tale of spirits and supernatural events; but when he was called upon to act officially in consequence, the whole tide of his incredulity returned. He, however, answered mildly, “I would willingly afford you every aid in your pursuit, but the creature of whom you speak appears to have powers which would put all my exertions to defiance. Who can follow an animal which can traverse the sea of ice and inhabit caves and dens where no man would venture to intrude? Besides, some months have elapsed since the commission of his crimes, and no one can conjecture to what place he has wandered or what region he may now inhabit.”

“I do not doubt that he hovers near the spot which I inhabit, and if he has indeed taken refuge in the Alps, he may be hunted like the chamois and destroyed as a beast of prey. But I perceive your thoughts; you do not credit my narrative and do not intend to pursue my enemy with the punishment which is his desert.”

As I spoke, rage sparkled in my eyes; the magistrate was intimidated. “You are mistaken,” said he. “I will exert myself, and if it is in my power to seize the monster, be assured that he shall suffer punishment proportionate to his crimes. But I fear, from what you have yourself described to be his properties, that this will prove impracticable; and thus, while every proper measure is pursued, you should make up your mind to disappointment.”

“That cannot be; but all that I can say will be of little avail. My revenge is of no moment to you; yet, while I allow it to be a vice, I confess that it is the devouring and only passion of my soul. My rage is unspeakable when I reflect that the murderer, whom I have turned loose upon society, still exists. You refuse my just demand; I have but one resource, and I devote myself, either in my life or death, to his destruction.”

I trembled with excess of agitation as I said this; there was a frenzy in my manner, and something, I doubt not, of that haughty fierceness which the martyrs of old are said to have possessed. But to a Genevan magistrate, whose mind was occupied by far other ideas than those of devotion and heroism, this elevation of mind had much the appearance of madness. He endeavoured to soothe me as a nurse does a child and reverted to my tale as the effects of delirium.

“Man,” I cried, “how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom! Cease; you know not what it is you say.”

I broke from the house angry and disturbed and retired to meditate on some other mode of action.

This is part of Fixing Frankenstein.

Frankenstein – Ch. 17

Frankenstein – Ch. 17

Author: Mary Shelley
We link here to our intervention.
This is part of Fixing Frankenstein.

The being finished speaking and fixed his looks upon me in the expectation of a reply. But I was bewildered, perplexed, and unable to arrange my ideas sufficiently to understand the full extent of his proposition. He continued,

“You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede.”

The latter part of his tale had kindled anew in me the anger that had died away while he narrated his peaceful life among the cottagers, and as he said this I could no longer suppress the rage that burned within me.

“I do refuse it,” I replied; “and no torture shall ever extort a consent from me. You may render me the most miserable of men, but you shall never make me base in my own eyes. Shall I create another like yourself, whose joint wickedness might desolate the world. Begone! I have answered you; you may torture me, but I will never consent.”

“You are in the wrong,” replied the fiend; “and instead of threatening, I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me? You would not call it murder if you could precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts and destroy my frame, the work of your own hands. Shall I respect man when he condemns me? Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness, and instead of injury I would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude at his acceptance. But that cannot be; the human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union. Yet mine shall not be the submission of abject slavery. I will revenge my injuries; if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear, and chiefly towards you my arch-enemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred. Have a care; I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heart, so that you shall curse the hour of your birth.”

A fiendish rage animated him as he said this; his face was wrinkled into contortions too horrible for human eyes to behold; but presently he calmed himself and proceeded—
“I intended to reason. This passion is detrimental to me, for you do not reflect that you are the cause of its excess. If any being felt emotions of benevolence towards me, I should return them a hundred and a hundredfold; for that one creature’s sake I would make peace with the whole kind! But I now indulge in dreams of bliss that cannot be realised. What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself; the gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive, and it shall content me. It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another. Our lives will not be happy, but they will be harmless and free from the misery I now feel. Oh! My creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit! Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some existing thing; do not deny me my request!”

I was moved. I shuddered when I thought of the possible consequences of my consent, but I felt that there was some justice in his argument. His tale and the feelings he now expressed proved him to be a creature of fine sensations, and did I not as his maker owe him all the portion of happiness that it was in my power to bestow? He saw my change of feeling and continued,
“If you consent, neither you nor any other human being shall ever see us again; I will go to the vast wilds of South America. My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment. My companion will be of the same nature as myself and will be content with the same fare. We shall make our bed of dried leaves; the sun will shine on us as on man and will ripen our food. The picture I present to you is peaceful and human, and you must feel that you could deny it only in the wantonness of power and cruelty. Pitiless as you have been towards me, I now see compassion in your eyes; let me seize the favourable moment and persuade you to promise what I so ardently desire.”

“You propose,” replied I, “to fly from the habitations of man, to dwell in those wilds where the beasts of the field will be your only companions. How can you, who long for the love and sympathy of man, persevere in this exile? You will return and again seek their kindness, and you will meet with their detestation; your evil passions will be renewed, and you will then have a companion to aid you in the task of destruction. This may not be; cease to argue the point, for I cannot consent.”

“How inconstant are your feelings! But a moment ago you were moved by my representations, and why do you again harden yourself to my complaints? I swear to you, by the earth which I inhabit, and by you that made me, that with the companion you bestow, I will quit the neighbourhood of man and dwell, as it may chance, in the most savage of places. My evil passions will have fled, for I shall meet with sympathy! My life will flow quietly away, and in my dying moments I shall not curse my maker.”

His words had a strange effect upon me. I compassionated him and sometimes felt a wish to console him, but when I looked upon him, when I saw the filthy mass that moved and talked, my heart sickened and my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred. I tried to stifle these sensations; I thought that as I could not sympathise with him, I had no right to withhold from him the small portion of happiness which was yet in my power to bestow.
“You swear,” I said, “to be harmless; but have you not already shown a degree of malice that should reasonably make me distrust you? May not even this be a feint that will increase your triumph by affording a wider scope for your revenge?”

“How is this? I must not be trifled with, and I demand an answer. If I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion; the love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes, and I shall become a thing of whose existence everyone will be ignorant. My vices are the children of a forced solitude that I abhor, and my virtues will necessarily arise when I live in communion with an equal. I shall feel the affections of a sensitive being and become linked to the chain of existence and events from which I am now excluded.”

I paused some time to reflect on all he had related and the various arguments which he had employed. I thought of the promise of virtues which he had displayed on the opening of his existence and the subsequent blight of all kindly feeling by the loathing and scorn which his protectors had manifested towards him. His power and threats were not omitted in my calculations; a creature who could exist in the ice-caves of the glaciers and hide himself from pursuit among the ridges of inaccessible precipices was a being possessing faculties it would be vain to cope with. After a long pause of reflection I concluded that the justice due both to him and my fellow creatures demanded of me that I should comply with his request. Turning to him, therefore, I said,

[Our Intervention To Build a Better Monster #1 begins here.]

[Continue reading after you’ve finished “To Build a Better Monster #2”:]

“I consent to your demand, on your solemn oath to quit Europe for ever, and every other place in the neighbourhood of man, as soon as I shall deliver into your hands a female who will accompany you in your exile.”

“I swear,” he cried, “by the sun, and by the blue sky of heaven, and by the fire of love that burns my heart, that if you grant my prayer, while they exist you shall never behold me again. Depart to your home and commence your labours; I shall watch their progress with unutterable anxiety; and fear not but that when you are ready I shall appear.”

Saying this, he suddenly quitted me, fearful, perhaps, of any change in my sentiments. I saw him descend the mountain with greater speed than the flight of an eagle, and quickly lost among the undulations of the sea of ice.

His tale had occupied the whole day, and the sun was upon the verge of the horizon when he departed. I knew that I ought to hasten my descent towards the valley, as I should soon be encompassed in darkness; but my heart was heavy, and my steps slow. The labour of winding among the little paths of the mountain and fixing my feet firmly as I advanced perplexed me, occupied as I was by the emotions which the occurrences of the day had produced. Night was far advanced when I came to the halfway resting-place and seated myself beside the fountain. The stars shone at intervals as the clouds passed from over them; the dark pines rose before me, and every here and there a broken tree lay on the ground; it was a scene of wonderful solemnity and stirred strange thoughts within me. I wept bitterly, and clasping my hands in agony, I exclaimed, “Oh! stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness.”

These were wild and miserable thoughts, but I cannot describe to you how the eternal twinkling of the stars weighed upon me and how I listened to every blast of wind as if it were a dull ugly siroc on its way to consume me.

Morning dawned before I arrived at the village of Chamounix; I took no rest, but returned immediately to Geneva. Even in my own heart I could give no expression to my sensations—they weighed on me with a mountain’s weight and their excess destroyed my agony beneath them. Thus I returned home, and entering the house, presented myself to the family. My haggard and wild appearance awoke intense alarm, but I answered no question, scarcely did I speak. I felt as if I were placed under a ban—as if I had no right to claim their sympathies—as if never more might I enjoy companionship with them. Yet even thus I loved them to adoration; and to save them, I resolved to dedicate myself to my most abhorred task. The prospect of such an occupation made every other circumstance of existence pass before me like a dream, and that thought only had to me the reality of life.

This is part of Fixing Frankenstein.

Frankenstein – Ch. 8

Frankenstein – Ch. 8

Author: Mary Shelley
We link here to our intervention.
This is part of Fixing Frankenstein.

We passed a few sad hours until eleven o’clock, when the trial was to commence. My father and the rest of the family being obliged to attend as witnesses, I accompanied them to the court. During the whole of this wretched mockery of justice I suffered living torture. It was to be decided whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices would cause the death of two of my fellow beings: one a smiling babe full of innocence and joy, the other far more dreadfully murdered, with every aggravation of infamy that could make the murder memorable in horror. Justine also was a girl of merit and possessed qualities which promised to render her life happy; now all was to be obliterated in an ignominious grave, and I the cause! A thousand times rather would I have confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine, but I was absent when it was committed, and such a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me.

The appearance of Justine was calm. She was dressed in mourning, and her countenance, always engaging, was rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful. Yet she appeared confident in innocence and did not tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands, for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have excited was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have committed. She was tranquil, yet her tranquillity was evidently constrained; and as her confusion had before been adduced as a proof of her guilt, she worked up her mind to an appearance of courage. When she entered the court she threw her eyes round it and quickly discovered where we were seated. A tear seemed to dim her eye when she saw us, but she quickly recovered herself, and a look of sorrowful affection seemed to attest her utter guiltlessness.
The trial began, and after the advocate against her had stated the charge, several witnesses were called. Several strange facts combined against her, which might have staggered anyone who had not such proof of her innocence as I had. She had been out the whole of the night on which the murder had been committed and towards morning had been perceived by a market-woman not far from the spot where the body of the murdered child had been afterwards found. The woman asked her what she did there, but she looked very strangely and only returned a confused and unintelligible answer. She returned to the house about eight o’clock, and when one inquired where she had passed the night, she replied that she had been looking for the child and demanded earnestly if anything had been heard concerning him. When shown the body, she fell into violent hysterics and kept her bed for several days. The picture was then produced which the servant had found in her pocket; and when Elizabeth, in a faltering voice, proved that it was the same which, an hour before the child had been missed, she had placed round his neck, a murmur of horror and indignation filled the court.

Justine was called on for her defence. As the trial had proceeded, her countenance had altered. Surprise, horror, and misery were strongly expressed. Sometimes she struggled with her tears, but when she was desired to plead, she collected her powers and spoke in an audible although variable voice.

“God knows,” she said, “how entirely I am innocent. But I do not pretend that my protestations should acquit me; I rest my innocence on a plain and simple explanation of the facts which have been adduced against me, and I hope the character I have always borne will incline my judges to a favourable interpretation where any circumstance appears doubtful or suspicious.”
She then related that, by the permission of Elizabeth, she had passed the evening of the night on which the murder had been committed at the house of an aunt at Chêne, a village situated at about a league from Geneva. On her return, at about nine o’clock, she met a man who asked her if she had seen anything of the child who was lost. She was alarmed by this account and passed several hours in looking for him, when the gates of Geneva were shut, and she was forced to remain several hours of the night in a barn belonging to a cottage, being unwilling to call up the inhabitants, to whom she was well known. Most of the night she spent here watching; towards morning she believed that she slept for a few minutes; some steps disturbed her, and she awoke. It was dawn, and she quitted her asylum, that she might again endeavour to find my brother. If she had gone near the spot where his body lay, it was without her knowledge. That she had been bewildered when questioned by the market-woman was not surprising, since she had passed a sleepless night and the fate of poor William was yet uncertain. Concerning the picture she could give no account.

“I know,” continued the unhappy victim, “how heavily and fatally this one circumstance weighs against me, but I have no power of explaining it; and when I have expressed my utter ignorance, I am only left to conjecture concerning the probabilities by which it might have been placed in my pocket. But here also I am checked. I believe that I have no enemy on earth, and none surely would have been so wicked as to destroy me wantonly. Did the murderer place it there? I know of no opportunity afforded him for so doing; or, if I had, why should he have stolen the jewel, to part with it again so soon?

“I commit my cause to the justice of my judges, yet I see no room for hope. I beg permission to have a few witnesses examined concerning my character, and if their testimony shall not overweigh my supposed guilt, I must be condemned, although I would pledge my salvation on my innocence.”

Several witnesses were called who had known her for many years, and they spoke well of her; but fear and hatred of the crime of which they supposed her guilty rendered them timorous and unwilling to come forward. Elizabeth saw even this last resource, her excellent dispositions and irreproachable conduct, about to fail the accused, when, although violently agitated, she desired permission to address the court.

“I am,” said she, “the cousin of the unhappy child who was murdered, or rather his sister, for I was educated by and have lived with his parents ever since and even long before his birth. It may therefore be judged indecent in me to come forward on this occasion, but when I see a fellow creature about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character. I am well acquainted with the accused. I have lived in the same house with her, at one time for five and at another for nearly two years. During all that period she appeared to me the most amiable and benevolent of human creatures. She nursed Madame Frankenstein, my aunt, in her last illness, with the greatest affection and care and afterwards attended her own mother during a tedious illness, in a manner that excited the admiration of all who knew her, after which she again lived in my uncle’s house, where she was beloved by all the family. She was warmly attached to the child who is now dead and acted towards him like a most affectionate mother. For my own part, I do not hesitate to say that, notwithstanding all the evidence produced against her, I believe and rely on her perfect innocence. She had no temptation for such an action; as to the bauble on which the chief proof rests, if she had earnestly desired it, I should have willingly given it to her, so much do I esteem and value her.”

[Our Intervention Justine Found Innocent begins here.]

[Continue reading after you’ve finished “Justine Found Innocent”:]

A murmur of approbation followed Elizabeth’s simple and powerful appeal, but it was excited by her generous interference, and not in favour of poor Justine, on whom the public indignation was turned with renewed violence, charging her with the blackest ingratitude. She herself wept as Elizabeth spoke, but she did not answer. My own agitation and anguish was extreme during the whole trial. I believed in her innocence; I knew it. Could the dæmon who had (I did not for a minute doubt) murdered my brother also in his hellish sport have betrayed the innocent to death and ignominy? I could not sustain the horror of my situation, and when I perceived that the popular voice and the countenances of the judges had already condemned my unhappy victim, I rushed out of the court in agony. The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained by innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore my bosom and would not forgo their hold.

I passed a night of unmingled wretchedness. In the morning I went to the court; my lips and throat were parched. I dared not ask the fatal question, but I was known, and the officer guessed the cause of my visit. The ballots had been thrown; they were all black, and Justine was condemned.

I cannot pretend to describe what I then felt. I had before experienced sensations of horror, and I have endeavoured to bestow upon them adequate expressions, but words cannot convey an idea of the heart-sickening despair that I then endured. The person to whom I addressed myself added that Justine had already confessed her guilt. “That evidence,” he observed, “was hardly required in so glaring a case, but I am glad of it, and, indeed, none of our judges like to condemn a criminal upon circumstantial evidence, be it ever so decisive.”

This was strange and unexpected intelligence; what could it mean? Had my eyes deceived me? And was I really as mad as the whole world would believe me to be if I disclosed the object of my suspicions? I hastened to return home, and Elizabeth eagerly demanded the result.
“My cousin,” replied I, “it is decided as you may have expected; all judges had rather that ten innocent should suffer than that one guilty should escape. But she has confessed.”
This was a dire blow to poor Elizabeth, who had relied with firmness upon Justine’s innocence. “Alas!” said she. “How shall I ever again believe in human goodness? Justine, whom I loved and esteemed as my sister, how could she put on those smiles of innocence only to betray? Her mild eyes seemed incapable of any severity or guile, and yet she has committed a murder.”

Soon after we heard that the poor victim had expressed a desire to see my cousin. My father wished her not to go but said that he left it to her own judgment and feelings to decide. “Yes,” said Elizabeth, “I will go, although she is guilty; and you, Victor, shall accompany me; I cannot go alone.” The idea of this visit was torture to me, yet I could not refuse.
We entered the gloomy prison chamber and beheld Justine sitting on some straw at the farther end; her hands were manacled, and her head rested on her knees. She rose on seeing us enter, and when we were left alone with her, she threw herself at the feet of Elizabeth, weeping bitterly. My cousin wept also.

“Oh, Justine!” said she. “Why did you rob me of my last consolation? I relied on your innocence, and although I was then very wretched, I was not so miserable as I am now.”
“And do you also believe that I am so very, very wicked? Do you also join with my enemies to crush me, to condemn me as a murderer?” Her voice was suffocated with sobs.

“Rise, my poor girl,” said Elizabeth; “why do you kneel, if you are innocent? I am not one of your enemies, I believed you guiltless, notwithstanding every evidence, until I heard that you had yourself declared your guilt. That report, you say, is false; and be assured, dear Justine, that nothing can shake my confidence in you for a moment, but your own confession.”
“I did confess, but I confessed a lie. I confessed, that I might obtain absolution; but now that falsehood lies heavier at my heart than all my other sins. The God of heaven forgive me! Ever since I was condemned, my confessor has besieged me; he threatened and menaced, until I almost began to think that I was the monster that he said I was. He threatened excommunication and hell fire in my last moments if I continued obdurate. Dear lady, I had none to support me; all looked on me as a wretch doomed to ignominy and perdition. What could I do? In an evil hour I subscribed to a lie; and now only am I truly miserable.”

She paused, weeping, and then continued, “I thought with horror, my sweet lady, that you should believe your Justine, whom your blessed aunt had so highly honoured, and whom you loved, was a creature capable of a crime which none but the devil himself could have perpetrated. Dear William! dearest blessed child! I soon shall see you again in heaven, where we shall all be happy; and that consoles me, going as I am to suffer ignominy and death.”
“Oh, Justine! Forgive me for having for one moment distrusted you. Why did you confess? But do not mourn, dear girl. Do not fear. I will proclaim, I will prove your innocence. I will melt the stony hearts of your enemies by my tears and prayers. You shall not die! You, my playfellow, my companion, my sister, perish on the scaffold! No! No! I never could survive so horrible a misfortune.”

Justine shook her head mournfully. “I do not fear to die,” she said; “that pang is past. God raises my weakness and gives me courage to endure the worst. I leave a sad and bitter world; and if you remember me and think of me as of one unjustly condemned, I am resigned to the fate awaiting me. Learn from me, dear lady, to submit in patience to the will of heaven!”
During this conversation I had retired to a corner of the prison room, where I could conceal the horrid anguish that possessed me. Despair! Who dared talk of that? The poor victim, who on the morrow was to pass the awful boundary between life and death, felt not, as I did, such deep and bitter agony. I gnashed my teeth and ground them together, uttering a groan that came from my inmost soul. Justine started. When she saw who it was, she approached me and said, “Dear sir, you are very kind to visit me; you, I hope, do not believe that I am guilty?”
I could not answer. “No, Justine,” said Elizabeth; “he is more convinced of your innocence than I was, for even when he heard that you had confessed, he did not credit it.”

“I truly thank him. In these last moments I feel the sincerest gratitude towards those who think of me with kindness. How sweet is the affection of others to such a wretch as I am! It removes more than half my misfortune, and I feel as if I could die in peace now that my innocence is acknowledged by you, dear lady, and your cousin.”

Thus the poor sufferer tried to comfort others and herself. She indeed gained the resignation she desired. But I, the true murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation. Elizabeth also wept and was unhappy, but hers also was the misery of innocence, which, like a cloud that passes over the fair moon, for a while hides but cannot tarnish its brightness. Anguish and despair had penetrated into the core of my heart; I bore a hell within me which nothing could extinguish. We stayed several hours with Justine, and it was with great difficulty that Elizabeth could tear herself away. “I wish,” cried she, “that I were to die with you; I cannot live in this world of misery.”

Justine assumed an air of cheerfulness, while she with difficulty repressed her bitter tears. She embraced Elizabeth and said in a voice of half-suppressed emotion, “Farewell, sweet lady, dearest Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend; may heaven, in its bounty, bless and preserve you; may this be the last misfortune that you will ever suffer! Live, and be happy, and make others so.”

And on the morrow Justine died. Elizabeth’s heart-rending eloquence failed to move the judges from their settled conviction in the criminality of the saintly sufferer. My passionate and indignant appeals were lost upon them. And when I received their cold answers and heard the harsh, unfeeling reasoning of these men, my purposed avowal died away on my lips. Thus I might proclaim myself a madman, but not revoke the sentence passed upon my wretched victim. She perished on the scaffold as a murderess!

From the tortures of my own heart, I turned to contemplate the deep and voiceless grief of my Elizabeth. This also was my doing! And my father’s woe, and the desolation of that late so smiling home all was the work of my thrice-accursed hands! Ye weep, unhappy ones, but these are not your last tears! Again shall you raise the funeral wail, and the sound of your lamentations shall again and again be heard! Frankenstein, your son, your kinsman, your early, much-loved friend; he who would spend each vital drop of blood for your sakes, who has no thought nor sense of joy except as it is mirrored also in your dear countenances, who would fill the air with blessings and spend his life in serving you—he bids you weep, to shed countless tears; happy beyond his hopes, if thus inexorable fate be satisfied, and if the destruction pause before the peace of the grave have succeeded to your sad torments!
Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as, torn by remorse, horror, and despair, I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts.

The Revelation of the Young Werther

The Revelation of the Young Werther

[Fixing Frankenstein chapters]

[This is Amble Whistletown’s and Bartleby Willard’s translation of Bartleby Willard’s Die Offenbarung des Jungen Werthers]

The Revelation of the Young Werther
A true, albeit strange, tale
— experienced and writ down by Elizabeth Frankenstein

Soon I lost all consciousness of the outside world. It seemed to me — and the others later confirmed the impression — that we now all moved together through a long, arched tunnel. The hall was large and splendid as a cathedral — but instead of stone blocks and wooden beams, the walls and vaulted ceiling were composed entirely of flickering images. We strolled through scenes from the book, arranged in chronological order.

We saw (but did not hear — the tunnel was silent) Lotte and Werther at their first meeting in her living room, with her siblings cavorting on all sides; and then Lotte and Werther dancing in joyous harmony across the floor; but then also Lottes’s embarrassment, followed by Werther’s (inadequately established and sustained) moments of first despair. “Here she says to him, ‘Albert is a good man with an honest heart, to whom I am as good as engaged,” whispered Justine. “Indeed,” agreed Vuh quietly.

And so we advanced down the tunnel as the story playing over our heads likewise advanced. Albert comes home and the three try to be friends, but Werther cracks more and more under the strain of frustrated passion, until finally accepting a position in Weimar, in the hope that living 200 miles from Walheim will cure him of his obsession. His life in Weimar and the charming acquaintance of a charming young woman are, however, quickly undone by an unfortunate public embarrassment (or perhaps more from Werther’s exaggerated sensitivity). He returns to the Walheim area to be again near Lotte, who has meanwhiles married Albert. And everything gets worse and worse.

I should mention that all subplots also floated overhead — even those parts of the epistolatory novel that occurred only in Werther’s troubled thoughts: one saw, for example, Werther at his writing desk, the words he wrote, the accompanying (as a rule hyperbolic) expressions of his face and body, and sometimes images of surrounding recollections as well.
We made it to the last scene between Werther and Lotte — where he reads her his translation of the Celtic epic poem Ossian, by which they’re both undone and collapse in tears warm and rich; at which point he embraces her and presses his lips to hers; she repels him and flees, proclaiming from behind the locked door of an adjoining room that he may never again come to her. (Readers of the original will know that on the next day, as planned, Werther kills himself.)

Here, as across the ceiling and walls the pair bawl, Victor lifted his arm and we all stopped. “We went too far! We have to go back a bit — even though this is the scene we seek to revise.” And then he explained his idea.

He premised his plan on literature’s effect on human nature. Though Clerval and Vuh found Victor’s reasoning convincing — at least in principle —, neither could shake the worry that by this point in the story Werther was already too unmoored for us to rely solely upon a literary rescue. “That may well be,” agreed Victor, “You two remain near the unfortunate soul’s room — in the event that poesy fail us.”

Wednesday, December 22, 1772

Lee, Vuh, Victor, Clerval, Justine and I arrived in Wetzler [Editor’s Note: Town near Walheim; Werther is staying there so he can be close to Lotte]. Werther was away and wouldn’t return for several hours. Vuh and Clerval went to stand vigil at Werther’s lodgings. Before departing the hall of flickering book-scenes, Victor, Vuh, Justine and imaged horses — to ride through the fiction upon. But Justine — romantic young thing that she is — had dreamed too much verve into her horse. Her black stallion neighed frantically, throwing his head (complete with the white diamond under the giant glossy black eyes) in every possible direction, and kicking wildly, careening errantly this way and that. Victor stayed behind with Justine, to calm the manic daydream, and find him a stable. Lee and I rode to Walheim with the emergency literature.

We knew Lotte would be alone from approximately five to half-seven in the evening. The predetermined drawer sat near an open window — near enough, we’d estimated from our observations of the book, for Lee’s long arms to reach from outside. We had only to await the right moment.

At first, a couple comedies of error. Charlotte left the room; Lee opened the drawer and tapped around for Ossian; Charlotte suddenly returned; Lee retracted her long thin arm without shutting the drawer behind her; Lotte scratched her head and shut the drawer; the entire process was repeated a second time, but this time Lotte looked about in anxious bewilderment before pressing her hip to the drawer and slamming it shut with her full weight. Time was running out.

“Lift me through the window,” I shout-whispered to Lee.

“What?” said Lee.

“Now!” I said, pulling the selected reading out of her hand.

In one effortless, flowing movement, Lee moved me up, through the window, and onto the hardwood floor boards.

Fortunately, Lotte did not cry out, but remained perfectly silent. She sat on the sofa across from me. Her dainty jaw dropped ever so slightly, staring at me as if I were impossible.

“Please forgive the disturbance. However, I must request your assistance. You must replace Werther’s translation of Ossian with this passage. Here, I’ll do it myself. Ossian we hide deep in this book, lying conveniently on the table; and there, where Ossian was, we place this gentler, sweeter language. Ossian is a particularly detrimental literature for what’s about to transpire. This is a much more suitable. But I implore you, please act as if you believed that Ossian were yet here in this drawer, and bid Werther read it to you. And please not a word of my visit — to anyone! I greatly regret our lack of finesse in this intervention, but I do believe that if you could nonetheless behave naturally, and — as I’ve suggested — request he read his Ossian to you, and of course then he finds only this text, which can’t help but surprise you both, but then if you could yet press on and opine that you’re now very desirous that he read you this new, unaccounted-for selection — . If you could please perform all of that as cleverly and theatrically as you can, I believe we might yet succeed. I beg, once again, your forgiveness for the — honestly not exactly plan-true — disruption.”

I turned and stepped back towards the window. Lotte said softly — very softly, as she’d not yet fully regained her power of speech — “Please, please stop. I do not understand.” Then I turned to her very serious and sympathetic and — with the gentlest smile and as tears wobbled in my eyes — replied, “You don’t have to understand everything, Lotte.” And then she was quiet, her eyes large and fixed within my own; after a moment where our gazes — liking old friends reluctantly parting — held, supported and cherished one another, Charlotte gave a very slight but meaningful and whole-hearted nod.

I climbed into Lee’s waiting arms and the two of us hid in the hedge as the story’s action headed our way.

[From the final pages of Johann Wolfgang von Goethes Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of the Young Werther):]

[Editor’s Note: The below selection was translated by R.D. Boylan in 1854 (1854 Editor: Nathen Haskell Dole, with a lot of 2021 touch-ups by Amble Whistletown). Amble agreed with Boylan’s decision to use the “thee” and “thou” forms when translating the German informal — both when Goethe used it, and later, when Bartleby did. This allows the English reader to see when the German used “Sie” (formal “You”; the original equivalent was the now all-purpose “You”), versus “du” (informal “You”; the original equivalent being the now obsolete “Thou”).]

On Monday morning, the twenty-first of December, he wrote Charlotte the following letter, which was found sealed on his bureau after his death and given to her. I shall insert it in fragments as it appears, from several circumstances, to have been written in that manner.

“It is decided, Lotte, I want to die. I make this declaration deliberately and coolly, without any romanticism, on the morning of the day when I shall see thee for the last. As thou read these lines, O best of women, the cold grave will hold the rigid remains of that restless and unhappy soul who, in the last moments of his existence, knows no pleasure so great as that of thy conversation. I have passed a dreadful night. Or rather, let me say, an auspicious one — for it has given me resolution, it has fixed my purpose: I want to die. How I tore myself from thee yesterday, in the terrible tumult of my senses — how everything that clutched and crushed my heart and my hopeless, friendless existence — so close by thy side and yet so far from thy nearness — seized and spun me in cold, clammy nausea! I could scarcely reach my room. I threw myself onto my knees, and O God!, Thou granted a final respite in the most bitter tears. A thousand ideas, a thousand schemes raged across my soul; and finally one last, fixed, sole thought: I want to die! I lay myself down, and in the morning, in the quiet hour of awakening, the resolution remained in my heart, firm and powerful: I want to die! It is not despair; it is certitude — a resolution that I shall sacrifice myself for thee. Yes, Charlotte, why suppress — why hide it? One of us three must away, and I want to be the one. O beloved Charlotte! This tattered heart has often in its underhanded rage and fury snuck about, toying with thoughts of murdering thy husband — thee! — me! — so be it! In the bright, quiet evenings of summer, when thou sometimes wander up towards the mountains, let thy thoughts then turn to me: how I so oft came up from the valley. And then gaze across the churchyard until thou find my grave, and, by the light of the setting sun, mark how the evening breeze waves the tall grasses growing above my tomb to and fro. I was calm when I began this letter, but now, now I weep like a little boy, as these impressions of a precious past and an empty future dance vividly about.”

About ten in the morning, Werther called his servant, and, whilst dressing, told him that in a few days he intended to set out upon a journey, and bade him therefore lay his clothes in order, and prepare them for packing up, call in all his accounts, fetch home the books he had lent, and give two months’ pay to the poor dependents who were accustomed to receive from him a weekly allowance.

He breakfasted in his room and then mounted his horse and went to visit the steward, who, however, was not at home. He walked pensively up and down the garden, seemingly wishing to yet heap all the melancholy of memory upon himself.

The children did not suffer him to remain alone long. They followed him, skipping and dancing before him, and told him that after tomorrow and tomorrow and one day more, they were to receive their Christmas gift from Charlotte; and they then recounted all the wonders of which they had formed ideas in their child imaginations. “Tomorrow and tomorrow,” said he, “and one day more!” And he kissed them tenderly. He was going; but the younger boy stopped him, to whisper something in his ear. He told him that his elder brothers had written splendid New-Year’s wishes so large! One for papa, and another for Albert and Charlotte, and one for Werther; and they were to be presented early in the morning, on New Year’s Day. This quite overcame him. He gave them each something, mounted his horse, left his compliments for papa and mamma, and, with tears in his eyes, rode off.

He returned home about five o’clock, ordered the maid to look to his fire and keep it going late into the night. His servant he instructed to pack his books and linen, and to mend his clothes. It is most likely then that he penned the following addition to his final letter to Lotte:

“Thou expects me not. Thou believeth, I would obey, and not visit again till Christmas Eve. O Lotte, today or never more! On Christmas Eve thou holdest this paper in thy hand, trembling and wetting it with thy lovely tears. I will — I must! Oh, how well it stands with me — to be determined!”

In the meanwhile, Charlotte was in a pitiable state of mind. After her last conversation with Werther, she found how painful she would find parting from him, how he’d suffer from the separation.

She had, in conversation with Albert, mentioned casually that Werther would not return before Christmas Eve. Soon thereafter, Albert rode to see a civil servant in the neighborhood with whom he had some business. The distance was such that he’d have to stay the night.
She sat now alone. None of her siblings were nearby. She gave herself up to the reflections that silently rambled, with wild trampling steps, through her mind. She saw herself now forever united to a man whose love and fidelity she knew to be unfailing, to whom she felt a heart-devotion, whose calm and dependable nature seemed a special gift from Heaven upon which a good woman might reliably ground her life’s happiness. She recognized what Albert must be to her and her children, now and forever. And she saw Werther, who’d become so very dear. The cordial unanimity and agreement of their sentiments had been apparent from the very beginning of their acquaintance, and their long association and many of their shared experiences had indelibly marked her heart. She had grown accustomed to sharing every thought and feeling which interested her with him, and his absence threatened to tear a hole in her existence which would never again be mended shut. O, but could she in that moment transform him into her brother! Or if she could marry him to one of her friends — and then she could also perhaps yet fully restore his intimacy with Albert!

She considered one after the other all her closest friends, but found something objectionable in each, and found none to whom she could consent to give him.

Amid all these inner observations she felt deeply for the first time, yet still without permitting herself to completely form and inhabit the thought, that her heart’s secret longing was to keep him for herself. She interrupted the roaring train of these impassioned reflections to shout silently to herself that she could not, may not keep him. With this her pure, beautiful, otherwise so amiable and self-sufficient spirit sagged beneath a melancholy that forbid all prospect of happiness. A vice crushed her heart and dark clouds settled over her mind’s eye.

It was now half-past six o’clock, and she heard Werther’s step on the stairs. She at once recognized his voice, as he inquired if she were at home. Her heart beat audibly — we could almost say for the first time — at his arrival. It was too late to deny herself; and, as he entered, she exclaimed, with a sort of ill-concealed confusion, “You have not kept your word!” “I promised nothing,” he answered. “But you should have complied, at least for my sake,” she continued. “I implore you, for both our sakes.”

She scarcely knew what she said or did; and sent for some friends, who, by their presence, might prevent her being left alone with Werther. He put down some books he had brought with him, then made inquiries about some others, until she began to hope that her friends might arrive shortly, entertaining at the same time a desire that they might stay away.

At one moment she felt anxious that the servant should remain in the adjoining room, then she changed her mind. Werther, meanwhile, walked impatiently up and down. She went to the piano and began a menuetto, but it wouldn’t flow. She took hold of herself and sat down quietly beside Werther, who had taken his usual place on the sofa.

“Have you brought nothing to read?” she inquired. He had nothing. “There in my drawer,” she continued, “you will find your own translation of some of the songs of Ossian. I have not yet read them, as I hoped to hear you recite them, but have not yet been able to arrange it.” He smiled, and went for the manuscript, which he took with a shudder. He sat down; and, eyes full of tears, he began to read.

[Here ends the selection from Johan Wolfgang von Goethe’s Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers]

But then through his tears, Werther noticed that the wrong words lay beneath the right title. “What is this?” he whispered. He labored to breathe, and his body began to totter — like one knifed through the heart. Swaying as he walked, he found his way to the edge of the sofa and sat down. “What have you done, Lotte? The last time. My last time. What have you?” But still they glowed for one another — still the fire between their two bodies and hearts held them aloft and directed the one to the other. A glowing that weaves human souls together to make of two individuals one flesh. The glowing of that sweet pure innocent love that in other circumstances naturally, properly, and prettily leads a pair to embrace, snuggle, and make — from the depths and with the whole of their being — a sincere promise of eternal fidelity. As with Moses and the burning bush did this awareness blaze within and between them. But they both also felt sharp and clear the other inescapable particular of their situation. Werther trembled and, with chin on chest, sobbed quietly to himself.

“Please read. I would like to know what’s written there,” said Lotte with a tender, doleful voice as she moved a little closer and reached over to rest her palm oh so lightly on his shaking shoulder. Her touch — as light and delicate as the rustle of butterfly wings — traversed his body like a lightning bolt and he noticed his shoulders involuntarily straighten up and back, propelling his chest forward. Her hand, her affection, her faith were for him the most powerful of tonics.

He read:

Our church celebrates various holidays that reach deep into the heart. One can scarcely think of anything more delightful than Pentecost, or more serious and holy than Easter. The sorrow and melancholy of Holy Week and then the majesty of Easter Sunday accompany us throughout our lives. The church celebrates one of the most beautiful holidays almost in the middle of winter, when the nights are at their longest and the days their shortest, when the sun tilts most sharply against our fields and snow blankets all the meadows: Christmas. As in many lands the day before the Lord’s birthday celebration is called “Christ’s Eve”, in ours it is called “Holy Eve”; the next day, “the Holy Day”; and the night in between, “the Night of Consecration”. The Catholic Church celebrates Christ’s Day — the savior’s birthday — with its very greatest ecclesiastical pomp. In most areas, the midnight hour itself is sanctified with a resplendent nighttime celebration. The bells chime their invitation through the silent, dark, wintry midnight air. The inhabitants hurry with swinging, shadow-weaving lanterns, or over gloomy, well-known paths from snowy mountains past frosted forests and across creaking orchards to the church, from which come the sacred, solemn sounds, and which, with its long, narrow, light-filled windows, arises from and towers brightly over the middle of the town — enveloped now in ice-sheathed trees.

To the religious holiday a domestic one is added. In almost all Christian lands it is now the custom to present the children the Christ-child’s arrival — himself also a child, the most wonderful the world’s ever known — as a gay, shining, festive occasion: one that continues to work on us throughout our lives; so that sometimes even deep in old age, in the midst of troubled, melancholy or poignant memories, these childhood impressions will fly back to us upon colorful, shimmering wings, carrying us through the desolate, sorrowful, emptied night sky to times now past. It’s customary to give the children gifts, brought by the holy Christ-child, because it makes them so happy. This is usually done on Christmas Eve, as twilight gives way to darkest night. One lights candles, and usually very many, which, held securely in little candle holders, often sway with the beautiful green branches of a fir or spruce tree, standing in the center of the living room. The children are not permitted into the room until the sign is given that the holy Christ has come and left them the gifts he’d brought with him. Then the door is opened; the little ones may enter, and, by the wondrous, glittering play of lights, they see things hanging from the branches of the tree, or perhaps spread across the tabletop — things so far surpassing the wildest fancies of their imaginations that they dare not trust themselves to touch them; and then, when they finally have received these unbelievably special objects, they carry them about the entire evening in their little arms, even taking them to bed with them. When they then now and again hear the tolling of the midnight bells — by which the grownups are called to worship in the church — in their dreams, it seems to them as if little angels bustled through the heavens, or as if the holy Christ were returning home after visiting all the children of the world and leaving each of them a splendid present.

When the following day — Christ’s day — comes, it is so very solemn and festive for the children. They yawn and stretch, wearing their finest clothes, in the toasty living room early in the morning, as father and mother pretty themselves for church. At noon they sit down to an elegant dinner — better than any other dinner in the year. And then in the afternoon, or towards evening, friends and acquaintances come over, sit upon the chairs and benches, chatting with one another and gazing comfortably through the windows at the winter scenery, where either flakes drift slowly down, or a dark thick fog wraps round the mountaintops, or the cold blood-red sun sinks behind the blinking white peaks. In various places throughout the room — on a little chair, or one end of a bench, or the windowsill, lie last night’s enchanting gifts — now more familiar, intimate, and trusted.

Winter passes, then comes spring and the never-ending summer. When their mother once again tells them of the holy Christ — that his birthday celebration is approaching, and that he will visit this time as well, it feels to the children as if an eternity has passed, as if last year’s joy lies in far, gray, foggy distance.

Because this holiday endures for so long, because it’s reflected radiance reaches so far into old age, we like to be present when children celebrate and delight in Christmas.

[Editor’s Note: “Rock Crystal” (rock crystal is a form of quartz prized for its lack of impurities) by Adalbert Stifter was first published (as “The Holy Night”) in 1845. The story then appeared in the short story collection “Multicolored Stones” (or “Motley Stones”, in one recent translation) in 1853. In our story, Victor and his friends travel from a nonfictional offshoot of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (published 1818 in our world, but never in their world, since in their world their story is not a fiction) into JW v. Goethe’s fictional Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers (first published in 1774, but set in 1772). So how did Victor Frankenstein get his hands on this piece by Adalbert Stifter (who was just thirteen years old in 1818)? The only logical explanation: Victor Frankenstein’s fiction portal could also transport one into books that had not yet been written, and Victor had already — for some reason or other — visited Adalbert Stifter’s “Rock Crystal”.]

Werther leaned back and sank into the sofa. Exhaustion overwhelmed him. But he found the feeling rather cozy and pleasant — like a child who — refusing to avow his lassitude — has been fighting against sleep for hours with all of his dwindling might, and who now finally submits to Lethe and finds therein an unexpected bliss.

(Is this what death is like? We Christians do wrong to so desperately flee the blessed union with our savior awaiting us on the other side of this flimsy, wind-tossed veil. And yet it is the nature of flesh to dread its demise, and thus do we resist and resist. Until finally we can resist no more and collapse into death, where we are then surprised to find the grace that we’d held so feebly with our imperfect, world-tossed faith fully accepting us, loving us, and carrying us up and up into the beating heart of Joy Itself — a grace surpassing the wildest fancies of our imaginations!)

Werther drifted into a deep and still sleep. Lotte wanted to fling her arms around his waist and lay her head in his lap — that she might press her being against his calm breath. Instead, she called the servant to her.

“Werther is not well. Please take him into your bedroom. I apologize for the intrusion, but he is not well and we must let him sleep his fever off.” The old man, who had long served Lotte’s family and who knew only too well the nature and origin of Werther’s affliction, nodded with a soft, benign smile.

Albert arrived home the following day at ten o’clock in the morning. Werther lay yet asleep. Lotte told her husband of the previous night’s incident — without detailing too precisely the particulars. Albert said little. He sat broodingly leaning slightly over the table, broad shoulders tense, high forehead creased, deep eyes scowled. But then Lotte sat across from him and leaned forward, laying her hands on his. She gazed with giant, loving, pained eyes into his narrowed ones and said, relaxed and straightforward, “Your love is the greatest blessing of my life. I know that things with Werther cannot remain as they have been. I believe that he will now also understand that. If not, we’ll have to reconsider our relationship with him. But when he wakes up today, please grant us both a little more patience and welcome him to our home.” Her loving manner and soft words calmed Albert, and as his fear and jealousy faded, the attached anger and impatience also dissolved into a tender concern for his wife and her strange friend.

Werther first appeared — hair combed and face washed — at eleven in the morning. He found Lotte alone the sofa, at needlework. The day was clear and a smooth supple winterlight fell across the window upon her supple form and radiant youth. Werther stood pie-eyed in front of her. “From whence that text, Lotte?”

“You’d not believe me, were I to tell you. It is best understood as the handiwork of faeries. As you perhaps noticed, the handwriting is a woman’s — but not mine.

Werther shrugged his shoulders and put hand to hip. “Be that as it may, I would like to read the fool essay once more.” Lotte replied that it lay on the little table next to the dresser, on top of his Ossian. He stood over the table and read in silence.

“Foolish? No, not entirely. The images and argumentation connect and strengthen one another. Kitschy? Perhaps for some natures upon the first reading, but soon the words seep in, spread out, and begin to work upon the unsuspecting soul.

“In the beginning, concerning Christmas: ‘that continues to work on us throughout our lives; so that sometimes even deep in old age, in the midst of troubled, melancholy or poignant memories, these childhood impressions will fly back to us upon colorful, shimmering wings, carrying us through the desolate, sorrowful, emptied night sky to times now past. It’s customary to give the children gifts, brought by the holy Christ-child, because it makes them so happy.’ ‘Because’, Lotte: ‘because it makes them so happy’!

“And then at the end: ‘Because this holiday endures for so long, because it’s reflected radiance reaches so far into old age, we like to be present when children celebrate and delight in Christmas.’

“Lotte! Is it not written, ‘It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones’ ?! We owe the children the peaceful cyclical progression of local traditions and of life itself. Woe unto him who disrupts the homely simplicity and monotony of the child’s world! Woe unto those who would rob the children’s shimmering, in-the-spring-air-turning and the sunlight-every-which-way-reflecting wings!

“Lotte! I considered sensitivity and intensity the proof of my heart’s purity, but the proof of a pure heart can be found only within the heart itself. In and of itself is passion of little value. The proper employment of passion consists — as with all other human attributes —solely in thinking, feeling, and acting with gentle love and kind resolve. How easily in the drunken frenzy of passion may one deceive oneself about oneself: One possesses the most phenomenal insights, attains to an extraordinary yet subtle and self-effacing beauty, rises effortlessly and inevitably above the general condition of the surrounding masses! But soon enough the ornate, self-deceiving via self-confusing and underhandedly self-exalting madness dissipates: One finds oneself once again standing upon naught but the blackest, most soul-bereft void. And down, down, down one plummets.

“I had always blamed the void. But the void is not emptiness, nor even void, but only stillness; and the void does not lie, neither flatters, nor derides, nor in any part deceives. The void lacks solid objects and legible, neatly-written answers. When drifting through the void we feel uncertain and insecure. And so we flee again and again into the imaginary salvation of passion’s echo chamber: We again and yet again turn aside from the worldsoul — though it beam forever and always, bright as a million suns, from our own inmost beings outward. And thus do we poor fools continuously harm our own accord with and posture within our most precious possession and one true salvation.

“Yes, Lotte, the void is completely still, and when we likewise hold ourselves utterly still, we perceive that the void is awash in brightly shining, and in all-possible-directions sparkling wings. In the void we find the wings that carry us through this world even as they weave our minds and hearts ever more firmly and awaredly into the joyful silent helpfulness of that deeper, truer one.

“I love thee, Lotte, and no one can replace thee. We shall meet again on Christmas’s Eve. Then I shall depart. Christmas is there to give children joy, to dip them — whilst wrapped safely within the enchantments of the familiar — ever so gently and carefully into the void, wherein they find the wings whereon they shall fly through life — no matter how cold and stormy the nights may become. Adieu, Lotte, we shall soon see one another once more!”

And with these exuberantly careening words he made haste from the home of Lotte and her husband Albert.

It is always a pleasant diversion for me to stroll down the corridor of Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers. With Victor or alone, I walk quickly to the end, where the passageway splits into a short and terrible one and a long, beautiful one. I take always the happier path to see my Werther and his Fräulein von B. Yes! He writes to her, the young woman he’d met in Weimar. He writes to her and soon they begin a world together.

I watch them live well and think of that day when Lee, Vuh, Henry, Justine, Victor and I visited Walheim. And also of that day’s mustaches. You see, upon our return to our scientifically seancing bodies, we discovered that Victor’s father and brothers had protected us from all dangers except themselves: the youngest thought it a lark to draw silly mustaches on all our faces, decorating my cheeks with two giant spirals of black ink; and our other two guards — well, I guess they found it funny too!

Author: Bartleby Willard, except for the selections from Goethe’s Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers and Stifter’s Bergkristall

Translators: Amble Whistletown with Bartleby Willard; except in the selection of Goethe’s Werther: that translation was a collaboration between 1854 translator RD Boylan, his editor Nathan Haskell Dole, Bartleby, and Amble.

Editor: mostly Amble Whistletown

Copyright: Andrew M. Watson (with, of course, no ownership of the original pieces by Goethe and Stifter)

We would like to thank Markus Jais for his corrections of the original German version (Die Offenbarung des Jungen Werthers). Clarifying the grammar and vocabulary choices is a fundamental part of evolving a writing. This English translation (to which we added a few emendations, clarifications, and flourishes) therefore also benefitted from his help with the German original.

[Fixing Frankenstein chapters]