Some of us wear our disguises well. Sometimes they're so well done that when we've constructed them, we realize that we've become the disguise. Perhaps that is the ultimate disguise - when you live the cover story.
The term of art in the intelligence business is: Creating a Legend. It starts with an operational necessity, develops as a course of action, matures as we adjust the present skin to fit within a new skin. And if we're good - if we're very good, nobody can tell where the old person ended and the new person began because it's all new person. That is why when you work undercover you need a handler to whisper in your ear that you are not the new person. You're simply the old person using this new identity to get from point 'a' to point 'b'. It's a charade, not real. Or so they whisper.
Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. It sounds simple, but it's not because there is a duality under the skin.
What is real, what you feel, how you think --- now subsumed within the visible reality of sight and perception that others see.
Life is far more complex. If you live the charade long enough, it's difficult to know in time who you really are and that confusion results in tension. That protective shell that we draw around us like a suit of armor becomes a cage. It requires an industrial size can opener to cut off the crap. But once free of armor are we better off than we were before? Now that's the question isn't it?
I've done regular work. I've had a six figure salary. I've done cool things with official sanction. I've been the rabbit.
Today is another day, and I work another way, making more money without anyone to tell me what time to do this or that and without a boss to please with the exception of myself. The things I do are easily as interesting and the people and situations are challenging without being onerous. An obnoxious client's bill is 3x what a nice client is charged and while clients are not usually treated this way, I can fire them just as easily as they can fire me.
And life is much better. I'm not a rabbit anymore.
In simple terms (a metaphor, sure, but not far from the point):
Alice is the proprietor of a bar in New York City. In order to increase sales, she decides to allow her loyal customers, most of whom are unemployed alcoholics, to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger, thereby granting the customers loans.
Word gets around and as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Alice's bar.
Taking advantage of her customer's freedom from immediate payment constraints, Alice increases her prices for wine and beer, the most often consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases massively.
A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Alice's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for undue concern because he has the promissory notes of Alice's customers as collateral.
At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert bankers transform these customer assets into DRINKBONDS, ALKBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then sold and traded on markets worldwide. Nobody understands what these abbreviations mean and how the securities are guaranteed, nevertheless, as their prices continuously climb, the securities become top-selling items.
One day, although the prices are still climbing, a risk manager of the bank (who is subsequently fired due to his negativity) decided that the time has come to start demanding payment from Alice for the debts incurred by the drinkers at Alice's bar.
Unfortunately Alice's customers can't pay back any of their debts to Alice.
Alice can't fulfill her loan obligations to the bank and files for bankruptcy.
DRINKBOND and ALKBOND drop in price by 95%. PUKEBOND performs better, stabilizing in price after dropping by only 80%.
The suppliers of Alice's Bar, having granted her generous payment terms and also having invested in the securities are faced with a new and desperate situation. Her wine supplier files for bankruptcy and her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor.
The bank is saved by the Government following dramatic round-the-clock consultations by leaders from the governing political parties. They came up with a rescue plan that saved the bank.
The funds required for this massive rescue are obtained by levying a new tax on all the non-drinkers.
Believe those who are seeking the truth and doubt those who find it.
We human beings are prone to believe things that play to our prejudice as likely true or absolutely true even if there is no evidence at all to support it. This is how myths began. This is how magic got its start.
If the purported truth is counterintuitive or goes against our prejudice, we scrutinize it closely and unless the evidence is overwhelming, we refuse to believe it.
Therefore the search for truth is not merely a rearrangement of our prejudices. It is an examination of evidence in spite of our prejudice and requires an open mind. You can only seek truth if you're unafraid of what you find.
Though I am not Buddhist, considering what Buddha taught (paraphrased into English) is useful in this discussion. "Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it's said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because somebody else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true."
Organizational leaders often manipulate the organization/country for their own benefit, and end up being as bad, if not worse, than the real or imaginary evils from which they are protecting their followers.
"Comrades!", Squealer, the pig, cried. "You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a privilege of selfishness and privilege. Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health...We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of the farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples! Do you know what would happen if we failed in our duty? George Bush would come back. Yes, Bush would come back. Surely comrades, " cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, "surely there is no one among you who wants to see Bush come back."
Read ANIMAL FARM, by George Orwell. Consider the pups taken from their mother and father at birth and trained up to be attack dogs for the Pigs.
Then contemplate the "GIVE Act" recently passed by the House of Representatives. The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act is the gateway to President Barack Obama's promised civilian national security force. Then consider why they would pass a law allowing people to volunteer. Voluntary service is optional, the law makes it mandatory.
Are there other worlds in other dimensions of space that somehow touch ours? Does it seem that the membrane between what we see with our mind and what we experience unconsciously is as porous as a bridal veil? Can we tear that barrier to feel what we can't explain---that smallest of things that are present seem completely beyond our reach and beyond our understanding?
People called him an angry gnome, but Basil Noldor ignored them. Others said he might be possessed of Satan because he didn't acknowledge God's hand in all things. He merely winked an eye, magnified out of all proportion by the coke-bottle-bottom eyeglasses he wore draped over a large, outsized nose. A more objective and far kinder evaluation of the essence of Basil Noldor, writer, dealer in antiquities, was that he was, militantly eccentric.
In his cottage, not far from the river, Basil sat hunched over a gnarled oak desk, wearing out another iron nub, dipping it in ink and scratching words on a page. His son tried to ignore him but found it difficult because his father engaged him in conversation. Basil Noldor's voice, high pitched and raspy with much angry use, intoned, "There is no such thing as magic!" His son heard this rant before and did his best to tone his father out. "But I do admit that the human imagination needs superstitions." His son added a log to the dwindling coals on the hearth. "They weave the fabric of history and society so that, in time, there is very little difference between fables and historical fact. It all becomes fact, and without that historical reassurance of legends mixed with truth, the world would be a lonely place indeed. That, my son, is why I write."
Ignatius Noldor, only son to Basil, rose in society partly through bribery offered by his father and partly because he had a singular talent for obsequious pandering. His present rank of assistant alderman, a tribute to both causations. Unlike his father, Basil, he firmly believed in magic. Ignatius gripped fast to the hope that mystical incantations could bring the metaphysical world directly into his physical presence, for his specific benefit. He made a respectable living as a pander and factotum, eating other men's bread without guilt or any remorse at all, while providing scant services in return.
After adding wood to the fire and reclining back into his chair, Ignatius picked up a well worn , leather bound tome dealing specifically with magic. While his father ranted in muttering tones and scratched his pen. Ignatius read other en's words, trying to suck the marrow out of their mystical message.
Suspended by a rod reputedly fashioned from meteorite iron, an elaborate tapestry hung on the wall over the fireplace. Careful embroidery recounted the journey of the Noldor family through time. It was a chronicle, a family tree, a historical tribute, and had been in the family for over four hundred years. Ignatius was less than impressed by it. there had been a time when he was younger when he looked at the gilded names with awe. Age and experience taught him to be underwhelmed by the tapestry. Noldors held ignominious postings and minor jobs as bookkeepers, bank tellers and nannies. None ever rose to command an army or even be knighted. None of the Noldors was a scarlet woman or a powerful bishop. Clement Noldor did become a man of the cloth but never advanced beyond the ash stained sackcloth of an ordinary monk.
A serious understanding of the family's painful mediocrity spurred Ignatius to exceed the standard set by preceding generations through the study of magic, mystics, witches and warlocks, shamans and the traditions of the dim and distant past. His father thought it complete foolishness, a complete waste of time and an indulgence in fantasy.
Peering into crystals, uttering and muttering, studiously mixing chemicals and often getting sick from the fumes they produced, Ignatius' single-minded pursuit of truth-in-magic continued without any significant breaks. There was something out there, and he knew he was the Noldor to find it.
Suddenly Basil stopped writing. He looked at his son, so much an image of himself, reading and pondering and he made a decision.
"Son, stand by the fire if you will."
Ignatius set down his book, carefully marking his place and joined his father.
"Magic is not real nor does it exist apart from natural law. It's simply a way of trying to explain the unexplainable in a way that discounts science. I want to show you something that has been in our family for nearly five hundred years." Basil said, as he drew back the heavy tapestry from over the fireplace as one would pull a curtain aside.
A tunnel, three feet high, large enough for either Basil or Ignatius to walk through without bending over, recessed back into the wall at least five feet. A shimmering darkness glittered in the tunnel and Ignatius stood on his toes to get a better look as his father fetched a ladder.
Once in place, Basil climbed the ladder and led the way into the tunnel.
"What is it, father?"
"One of the most closely guarded secrets of our family. It's a portal in space-time, naturally occurring, stable and possibly driven by the energy created by the stones in this part of the house." Basil said with a prideful flare.
"Not magic, science, my son. I don't understand precisely why it's here or how it came to form here, but its process is part of the natural order. It's night there on the other side of the portal but when I first saw it, the doorway in time opened on to a glade, with violet heather blooming so that the world appeared to be a rolling sea of lavender under a cerulean sky. All the magic in the world, all the fables and mystery of the ages were challenged by a single leap into the dark that my brother took. Winthrop and my cousin Garner took a free dive into oblivion. I was there to watch them walk through."
Basil lighted his pipe with a cinder held fast by iron tongs. "They didn't seem like ghosts or apparitions to me, but I have no idea how they might have appeared to somebody looking at them from the other side of the door in space-time. No shade of a lost soul or glittering angel, I expect, but you never know."
"Did they ever come back?" Ignatius asked. "Have you heard from them?"
Basil contemplated the shimmering world on the other side of the portal as dawn began to peak beyond the distant hills of the alien world. "They came here and spoke from time to time. They needed things. So I had fine suits of green made, sent pots of gold coin to help them pay for their needs and such."
"So there are people on this other world? People like us?"
"People twice our size, who are different and not so different, I expect. I have seen them. I don't think they can see me and a trip through this doorway, this shimmering membrane is a one-way journey since neither Garner or my brother Winthrop were ever able to return. Winthrop told me some of the people took Garner and forced him to disclose the location of his pot of gold. Once they found it, they were so enthralled with its value that they ignored him and he escaped from them."
Requiem eternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.
The pictures of his father that escaped his mother's scissors showed a robust, smiling man who resembled him and portended what he would look like in middle age. His mother buried her anxiety in booze, pills and food. She soaped every mirror in the house to keep the voices quiet inside her head.
Dues to Indian Guides had been paid by the American Legion Chapter, school lunch provided under the aegis of a government program for same, the Future Farmers of America rejected him because he expressed a disdain for agriculture and horticulture.
He managed average grades in high school, played baseball in the summer, football in the autumn and basketball in winter. In the spring he wrestled on the team. Anything that kept him from gong home after school imparted clarity and sanity to the world he lived in.
Two girls almost became girlfriends. Both agreed to go to the movies with him. Both pretended to kiss him. Both cruised up and down Main Street with him in the Buick he inherited when his grandfather died.
Without many prospects except the certainty of working in a coal mine, he joined the United States Marine Corps soon after he walked to the podium and accepted his high school diploma.
We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.
He pitched grenades made of green fiberglass and fired his rifle at targets without a single wave of Maggie's Drawers. He marched and countermarched and when he'd marched enough and had done enough push-ups, they allowed him to blouse his boots.
Wooden bleachers, painted green, in much the same way as nearly everything in his world had been painted green, provided a platform for instruction. Everything from hygienically wiping his ass after he shat to the proper method of lacing boots and how to slap a plastic bandage on a sucking chest wound rounded his training.
A brass band cheered him onto the airplane with the other replacements.
In the midst of life, we are death: of whom may we seek for succor, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased? Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Savior, deliver us not into the pains of eternal death.
Friends came and they went. Harlan Martin took a round through the nose from an unseen sniper. Rock Ape stepped on a Bouncing Betty that popped up to dick height before releasing the ball bearings that turned him into a human sieve. The Jew contracted dysentery and a scorpion stung and killed him while he was taking a dump. Slick Willy just died. Nobody ever figured out why. He wedged the dog tags between Slick Willy's upper and lower teeth and tapped the bottom of his lifeless jaw hard with an entrenching tool to wedge it tight before they threw his body on the helicopter and flew it back to graves registration. A two story shack housing a family of rag heads up top simply tumbled down on top of Dow. They medivac'd Dow and he died in clean sheets in the hospital.
Friends were not a great idea.
Man that is born of a woman hath but a short tie to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.
Gnats bit, spiders bored into his skin, scorpions stung. The muj dropped mortar rounds and fired their Russian-made rifles. Improvised explosives banged away. Everything wanted his blood and after a while, he didn't care nearly as much as he did at first.
A second stripe provided the excuse to find a woman. It wouldn't do for a corporal to die a virgin. Half a bottle of Yukon Jack, fifteen dollars and sloppy seconds in the skivvie house ended up with a trip to the corpsman and treatment for the clap.
Boned by the second stripe: The Green Machine assigned him to recon north, newly issued seven-eighty-two gear and an ambitious mustanger planning his career around zero-dark-thirty operations.
Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty.
He had been thinking about that last bowl of cornflakes and a seabag drag to the airplane and the big bird home when it happened. They say you never hear the round that kills you.
When I was young, Timbuktu was the symbolic end of the Earth. Nestled in the livable, lovable nation of Mali, is a city built entirely of mud. The Sankore Mosque (right) is one of three mosques built of mud and serve as centers of worship and as tourist attractions.
I doubt that I will ever visit this place for several key reasons that I needn't enumerate here. Suffice to say that my blog covers the end of the Earth.
As of January 1, 2017 this blog began to receive anonymous posts. I try not to delete them, but if you want to be taken seriously here, you need to identify yourself, if only by some sort of cryptonym.
Welcome to Virtual Mirage
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the cat. "We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad," asked Alice?
"You must be," said the cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Virtual Mirage - What's on the other side of the mirror? Ask Alice how deep the rabbit hole really goes.
This blog is an extension of MY JOURNEY because sometimes my journey needs more explanation, and sometimes there is more to be said than can be expressed on one ordinary blog.
Sometimes it's politics (very serious), sometimes I address the human condition with a dose of humor, and other times it may seem as if the track is headed in a unique direction. I can be a complicated guy at times.
There are a few things you'll find I consider:
* Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
* Sometimes the questions are complex but the answers are simple.
* Love is the only condition where the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
* Steers do not sign treaties with meat packers. (think on that)
* Taxes are NEVER levied for the benefit of the taxed.
* The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no victory possible in defense.
WHITE POWDER (Novel)
There is something intoxicating about a secret.
THE OLD WHORE (NOVEL)
In the peculiar culture of the Central Intelligence Agency, "old whores" are people who will do whatever it takes to get the job done, irrespective of the cost.
EXILES FROM EDEN (NOVEL)
Sparks fly as two star-crossed lovers meet. He runs toward trouble as she yearns for something missing. And it ends in a flight from and toward justice.
Today, I balance work and play as much as anyone can. All things remaining equal, play is more important. Life is short - it's important to make every day count for something, if only to yourself.
I'm a former tinker/tailor/soldier/sailor who has now decided that maybe it really wasn't all done for nothing.
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