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Preface to This Week's Article

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I'm sitting here tonight at my dining room table looking between this bright computer screen and, behind it, my reflection mirrored dully in a window that in sunny hours gives a view of the garden.

I don't remember seeing it before, but top-center on the desktop of my computer is a folder titled "help." It's a long shot, but on this winter night I give it a click. It opens, revealing nothing of any plausible assistance. I should move it to the trash, but talismans, however hollow, are hard to come by these days.

Speaking of redemption, a local author, Duke Miller, with a long, globe-spanning career working in "war zones and countries with civil unrest" (think genocide and death squads) keeps submitting articles to this magazine, no doubt because I keep publishing them. Generally, I find the reality of the horror conveyed in these, his "prose poems" perversely refreshing in comparison to the protests so loud, first on American college campuses and now everywhere you turn.

Duke's writing transgresses the boundary that our privileged lives are designed to enforce. Joseph Conrad ("with a pen in his hand he was first amongst us" - Rudyard Kipling) made a literary career of slipping back and forth across the same frontier.

Presently, and for the last few months I am working my way through Conrad's works, listening to them as audio books while I do my morning yoga routine rooftop under the Mexican sun, itself half comforting, half menacing.

Regarding the atavistic horror behind and at the bottom of our civilized ways, I recently came across this in the fourth chapter of Conrad's Chance, concerning a couple betraying the trust a young girl:

"There was something like an emanation of evil from her eyes and from the face of the other, who, exactly behind her and overtopping her by half a head, kept his eyelids lowered in a sinister fashion--which in the poor girl, reached, stirred, set free that faculty of unreasoning explosive terror lying locked up at the bottom of all human hearts and of the hearts of animals as well."

Duke just finished a new book, Tragedy Wears Many Hats and is sending me excerpts. After rejecting some as just too graphic, I published a first set two weeks ago and I publish the second today. Conrad, takes us up into the jungle, into the Heart of Darkness, but then brings us back down the river. Duke stays in the jungle. Conrad takes you from polite society to the brutal rawness of nature and back again. Duke starts and stays raw. I've explained to him that my readers, and I, need, at least, the semblance of redemption.

Today's self-styled Social Justice Warriors, good Marxists that they are, believe in the perfectibility of humanity. It is society that is to blame: "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."

Along with Conrad, when it comes to nature I am no utopian, not human nature and not the natural world. Unlike Conrad, I have never been to sea, but I did have a retreat center in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, up a mountain, one half mile past the end of a dead end dirt road. There, surrounded by the forest that comes down from Hudson Bay, miles away from most every other human being, I witnessed the reactions of certain of my guests to being "alone in the big woods."

Taking a two hour excursion on a boat is different from circumnavigating the globe under sail. Hiking for an afternoon is distinct from isolating yourself for a few days on a mountainside in Vermont. Playing Marxist from the comfort of your mother's basement is entirely dissimilar from the Killing Fields of Cambodia.

(If you want to see Marxism in action, watch First They Killed My Father, about Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, who killed one-quarter of the country's population. Duke's cup of tea.)

Well, that's my response to the black tide pressing up against the window tonight, the jungle, the darkness from which I am separated by one thin, brittle sheet of glass and a meager light bulb. And even these, window and light, combine to reflect my ghostly form, staring back each time I look up from the brightness of this screen.

Goodnight and sweet dreams.


Read Duke's article


Dr David has created Lokkal, a social network that is not commercially-driven (just being launched, starting here in San Miguel) as an alternative to the abuses of social media.

Lokkal will make the world a better place by nurturing community. If you want to join the community, please register. It's a big project to have entirely on my shoulders; if you want to help, please send us a message at the email below.

"Whether it is to be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race right up to the final moments." - Buckminster Fuller

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