In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“ I say that Auschwitz is an extreme manifestation of an attitude that still thrives in our midst. It shows itself in the treatment of minorities in industrial democracies; in education, education to a humanitarian point of view included, which most of the time consists of turning wonderful young people into colorless and self-righteous copies of their teachers; it becomes manifest in the nuclear threat, the constant increase in the number and power of deadly weapons and the readiness of some so-called patriots to start a war compared with which the holocaust will shrink into insignificance. It shows itself in the killing of nature and of “primitive' cultures with never a thought spent on those thus deprived of meaning in their lives; in the colossal conceit of our intellectuals, their belief that they know precisely what humanity needs and their relentless efforts to recreate people in their own sorry image; in the infantile megalomania of some of our physicians who blackmail their patients with fear, mutilate them and them persecute them with large bills; in the lack of feeling of many so-called searchers for truth who systematically torture animals, study their discomfort and receive prizes for their cruelty. As far as I am concerned there exists no difference between the henchmen of Auschwitz and these “benefactors of mankind.”
-Paul Feyerabend from Farewell To Reason 1987
Here is my math Quiz for the 21st Century:
X = (∞ - 1) + (∞ + 1) where the term (∞ - 1) may be substituted by the poem Kubla Khan and the term (∞ + 1) may be substituted by the quote from Feyerabend.
Solve for X.
OK, let's simplify: ∞ + ∞ = ∞, thus ∞ = X.
Expressed in words I would say that we are solving for what came before never and adding it to what came after forever. We should find some very interesting things by way of our inquiries. If we conduct this research in the realms of what we today call History, Religion, Science and Politics I venture that we would we wind up on what resembles a chessboard constructed from a Mobius Strip.
Wow! Should we attempt that? By all means. We are humans, so saddle up. The exchequered landscape we shall gallop across is, after all, the very ground we stand our questions on and have our brief experience of life upon. Your roof is also your floor and your room is the world at large, while the world at large is very surely your room.
I have heard that Mr. Coleridge was being visited by some literary friends who suggested a walk. He was feeling poorly due to some medical problems and took some medication, possibly an opiate. He stayed behind in a chair in the garden while the others went for a stroll. The poem he wrote upon waking from his brief chemical escape from the pain of his existence has now become a classic.
When I think of Khan, I think of Genghis and I think of horses. Open prairie, taiga, tundra, savannah, steppes, llanos and deserts. Two legs astride four is one of our most ancient symbols for power, triumph, freedom and mobility. Man and beast combined at first glance. Looked at another way, we may perceive two animals acting together for the benefit of one of them. I cannot see the benefit to the horse in an open grassland setting for making alliance with man. I could write an entire book on the benefits garnered by man up to my own day by this heavily one sided partnership.
We could canter along behind Genghis and his Mongols to see some of the fruits of this hoofed extension of man's power. We could also stop for seven days in 732 A. D. at the confluence of the Clain and Vienne Rivers between Poitiers and Tours and watch Charles Martel turn back the massive armored cavalry of Emir Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi Abd al Rahman with a vastly smaller infantry force.
Four years later we could ride over to Narbonne and watch the same Charles Martel crush a further Muslim invasion, this time headed by Rahman's son and arriving by sea. Again we see Charles using a smaller force but this time incorporating heavy cavalry with the chain-mail and stirrups that his enemy had been equipped with on their first encounter.
After watering our mounts we could ship out to the New World with the Spanish and do some conquering and get the silver and gold mines running at full slave capacity. As we watched this drama, we would see some of these introduced horses become lost or stolen and subsequently become huge roaming herds of wild mustangs ranging North.
Several of the tribes in what are today Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado will go on to utilize these animals both for their survival and for domination over and expansion of their Prairie Empires. Their approach to the already well-ingrained old World methods of domestication and training of the horse will seem uncanny to us as we watch them become one with the caballo.
None more than the Comanche tribe as a whole. A newly mounted force of armed men in an economy based upon a migratory food source of behemoth proportions in a harsh environment will evoke a familiar play as we observe them from Kansas to the Gulf of Mexico. Natural selection may be readily observed here whether one subscribes to Darwin's grandfather's theory via the Royal Academy in toto or not.
Like any creature suffering great persecution down through history, it is the superlatives that live to breed. This holds true for both admirable and for dishonorable traits. Aggression, cunning and what Feyerabend calls “colossal conceit” and what I might call psychopathy are as readily passed on as are large hands, tallness and abundance or lack of body hair.
We could watch a small group of Cherokees, for example, who adopted much European clothing, farming practices, writing, religion and home building; steadily working their way West. They have already inter-married for many, many generations. They are led by a half-Scottish Chief who sports freckles and red hair. Some of them are mounted and they will use their horses to do plowing and land clearing as well as for transportation. They are seeking a place to be left alone to practice their hybrid culture and do not trust waiting to see “how it all works out” back East. History proves them right, in their pessimism and serves up The Cherokee Trail of Tears some time after their departure.
After an earthquake in Missouri compels this group to undertake yet another move West, they arrive at what at the time was the boundary of civilization as practiced by the United States of America. They are in today's North East Texas, which is under the administration of Spain. To their West and to their North are other tribes which are still in their original lands as per their own local history of struggle has allowed.
Over time the Comanches and one band of them in particular, the Quohadis, which was headed by a half-white war chief, Quanah Parker are the dominant force in this part of the planet. Other tribes are mounted and hostile in the sense of practicing a raiding lifestyle such as Apache, Cheyenne, Kickapoo and Arapahos but all fear and respect the superior Comanche horsemen.
The Spanish tolerated them so as to serve as a buffer against any incursion by other colonialists. They were the hands down pinnacle of mounted fighting men and were only brought to ruin just before getting wide access to the modern repeating firearms of their foes. They stood in the way of the formation of the Republic of Texas which itself was a stepping stone to the expansion of the USA proper in order to reach the Pacific Ocean and tie both coasts down with rail tracks and barbed wire.
As we braid our ponies' tails we could watch the Cherokees agree to fight the Comanche and Apache so as to free up the Texians to fight the Spanish. Of course this would net the Cherokee a new, clear title to their extensive holdings that would replace the valid title they had obtained legally from the Spanish Government in Mexico City in accordance to the Euro way of doing things. They smelled the wind and picked a horse.
A considered bet was placed, much like Eudes The Great Duke Odo of Aquitaine did in 730 when he allied himself to Uthman ibn Naissa, the Emir of Catalonia. He had defeated a Muslim invasion force at Toulouse in 721 and then had watched the invaders reach Burgundy four years later. He picked a horse and his horse picked a fight with Abd Rahman, Emir of Al Andalus who has already been mentioned in this essay.
The source - www.thelatinlibrary.com/imperialism/notes/tours.html, accessed January 11, 2016 tells us: "According to one unidentified Arab, 'That army went through all places like a desolating storm.' Duke Eudes (called King by some), collected his army at Bordeaux, but was defeated, and Bordeaux was plundered. The slaughter of Christians at the River Garonne was evidently horrific; Isidorus Pacensis commented that 'solus Deus numerum morientium vel pereuntium recognoscat', 'God alone knows the number of the slain' (Chronicon). The Muslim horsemen then utterly devastated that portion of Gaul, their own histories saying the 'faithful pierced through the mountains, trampled over rough and level ground, plundered far into the country of the Franks, and smote all with the sword, insomuch that when Eudo came to battle with them at the River Garonne, and fled.' Eudes appealed to the Franks for assistance, which Charles Martel only granted after Eudes agreed to submit to Frankish authority."
Yes, the Duke did change horses in the middle of a stream. He kept his hide but had to give up his separate Kingdom and be subsumed into Greater Frankdom. The Texas Cherokees picked a horse and went to war allied with the Texians. Soon afterward, as their land title sat unratified on the President's desk of the new won Republic, they were approached and given notice that the document had been rejected and nullified. They were asked to leave their crops, houses and farms and head to Reservations. They chose to fight after much consultation with all involved and lost the ensuing Battle of the Neches. They picked the wrong horse and rode it over the edge. Some painted their horses and survived extermination.
We spur our mounts and head back home to 2016 and our flat screens. On the way we see a stray lone wolf begging food at the mouth of a cave from a man. A Prince loosing a falcon and a Pharaoh setting a jaguar onto a fleeing gazelle. Once home we see Muslim turmoil again in France and Germany. We see Catalonia separating from Spain. We see yet another Trail of Tears. We see Charter Schools teaching the Koran and Sharia Law in the USA. We see a businessman in Nevada with an exclusive license to send weapons into space via his private company. We are urged to worry about a millimeter rise in ocean levels as if every man, woman and child on earth had a waterfront beach home to be concerned with. We are compelled to trade 10 serious side-effects for a fifty-fifty shot at eradicating temporarily a single symptom, all the while leaving our malaise unhealed. We see an ex-CIA drug operative thrown to the wolves during an election year after being purposely empowered for years.
We stop and check if we are indeed home again in our own time and confirm that this is indeed the case. We read that many top scientists and philosophers of science have been of the opinion for over two decades that there is nothing of any material benefit to humanity left to be discovered. As we munch on a chemical laden biscuit, reading an article about a cougar recently shot in Idaho which had an entire extra set of fangs growing out of the top of its head facing backwards and watch the good old nuclear capable B-52s winging their way to South Korea, we wonder why our houses are chilly, why our food is substandard, why our water is laden with detrimental additives and why our children are unable to afford even the extremely substandard politically correct brainwashing for social change that masquerades as post secondary education. We do a quick check back to the eighteenth century and realize that yes, taken as a whole we have become very thick indeed. All the benefits and comforts afforded us by science are priced out of our reach while we are simultaneously harangued by those who can afford them to provide these things to everyone on the planet at our expense, except those countries our leaders are currently engaged in destroying. The Daylight Tax of old has morphed into the Carbon Tax.
We return our horses to their former wild state and they carry on just fine without our ministrations on their behalf. Our dogs sit at our feet awaiting our orders while our cats keep one eye on the fridge and another on the door. We ponder that the real water crisis is about how much of it has been converted to ethanol and soda pop since the beginning. We ponder that every alliance eventually unravels like an old sweater and that betting on horses is just that, betting. A fifty-fifty shot when measured over time on the Mobius strip that is our human story. If something works it is not abandoned. Power is never given away for free. In terms of actual factual intelligence, via the Freedom of Information Act and such like, history has a depth of less than fifty years and is constantly being re-written. According to the telly it appears that Hitler made it out of the bunker and traveled from Argentina to Colombia.
We ponder a quote which was learned by Prince Henry from his chosen tutor, Sir Walter Ralegh as that condemned man awaited execution in The Tower of London by order of Henry's father James. An order fueled in part by jealousy due to Ralegh's writing of a History of the World and dedicating that work to sensible young Henry.
“All wars of religion are only civil wars, and by civil wars no nation's condition was ever bettered.”
-Henry Prince of Wales circa. 1618
As I light my smoke and blow my prayer skyward in a figure eight, I wonder who bet on Ralegh's horse.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.