Obedience and Revolt: The Mysterious Roots of Half a Life
 

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Publisher’s Statement

By Dr Jim Byrne

29th June 2015

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Coming soon!

Daniel O'Beeve's autobiographical novel, psychological thriller and analysis of a culture...

Reader response: 

"Thanks for the advance copy. As I began to dip into its pages, at random, I had a real sense that this is Kurt Vonnegue meeting Ursula Le Guin and Flan O'Brien, so they can collectively rewrite a case study drawn up by Sigmund Freud, John Bowlby and Melanie Klein.  But then I went back to the beginning and realized, all of this has been written by one man. The man who lived through these amazing, bizzare experiences".

J.P., Wolverhampton, Novel Lover!

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The final draft of this exciting new book has now been received by the editor, and we are working through the final editing process as quickly as possible:

Chapters 1-6 have now been edited...

Chapter 7 has now been edited... (and is reproduced below)...

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...

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Reader response 2:

"I enjoyed the draft copy enormously.  It was like a cross between a Hercule Poirot mystery, a Graham Green thriller, and a Jungian analytical psychology paper on dream analysis and the exploration of tensions between various archetypes: the little white goat; the little blue bear; the little blue professor; the timid sheep; the tall lady; and others."

A.S., Manchester, Miner of Metaphors...

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Watch this space…

Our publishing sensation of the decade: 

The most complete psychological analysis of a family and its core tragedies; and the story of one man's struggle to come into existence! 

Obedience and Revolt: The mysterious roots of half a life

By Daniel O’Beeve

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Edited and published by Dr Jim Byrne

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Obedience-and-Revolt3.JPGThis book contains the most detailed and intricate psychoanalytic case study of the twenty-first century: set in the form of an autobiographical novel.

It’s the story of one man’s life, from birth to the age of about 39 years: and it involves a couple of dark and deep mysteries which need to be resolved.

It explores his dysfunctional relationship with his mother;

- his schooling (which is alternately vicious and hilarious!);

- his cultural trans-migrations, which are painful, brave and dramatic;

- his attempts to figure out how to relate to girls; to find love; to understand and master his sexuality;

- his relationships in general; his political ambitions; his career;

- and, initially, the family secret that shaped his childhood suffering;

- and, ultimately, the mysterious secret which has been the driving force of his family history from the beginning: The Big Secret; the Tap Root of his life; and how it is resolved!

All of this is backed up with some background pre-history of his family and tribe, and references to relevant psychological insights.

~~~

Also illustrated are:

# the impact of family history on the attachment style, and the relationship possibilities, of individual children;

# the way physical and psychological cruelty runs down the generations, within families and communities and schools;

# and the way the potential of an individual is somehow miraculously conserved, through cruel years of environmental distortion, waiting for the day when it can find a suitable environment in which to flower and flourish.

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This book is a mystery story, with an unpredictable ending.  It blends memoir, science fiction, history, psychology, philosophy and a selection of classical literary allusions and references, all rolled into one big, heroic journey which is destined to become a classic in its own right.

It should appeal to readers who are interested in mystery dramas; clever detective work; psychological thrillers; family therapy and family history; heroic journeys; cross-cultural travel; love relationships; adult sex-love difficulties and resolutions; great and small political struggles; Irish mythology; cultural history of 1950s Ireland; cultural history of  the UK in the 1960s-‘80s; (social) science-fiction; an expose of basic military training in the UK; sanity and insanity; forgiveness and love; as well as the tension between obedience and revolt.

Apart from the general readers who will be drawn to many of these topics, this book should also appeal to counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, childhood development experts, moral philosophers and political theorists.

~~~ 

Nothing so intricate and detailed as Daniel's story could ever be culled from the diaries or journals of a single individual.  Indeed, it did involve Daniel in four major writing challenges.  He began by writing two stories: 

Firstly: The memoir of the first eighteen years of his life;

And secondly: A biography of his life from the age of eighteen years to thirty-nine years.

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He then wove those two strands of story together, based upon clues and hints and insights from some helpful elements of the best of British, American, French, Russian and general European literature, from Cervantes to Donna Tartt, via Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and Ursula Le Guin.

He then identified the gaps in his jig-saw story, and filled those holes with mainstream and cutting-edge psychological theories and insights; plus fictionalized elements that are compatible with the overall shape and depth and truth of the basic stories.

What emerges is a story – an autobiographical novel – a psychological thriller - which entertains and instructs, informs and inspires, and illustrates the power of narrative therapy: both written and read.  It also charts the ‘learning by doing’ adventures of a young man who has a defective map of the social world; and illustrates his indomitable spirit!  His unwillingness to give up.  His determination to live more than half a life.

The emotional punch of some sections of this book were so powerful they bowled me over; they brought tears to my eyes; while other elements caused me moments of such intense elevation that I felt I was living at ten times my normal intensity.

This is a very enjoyable, instructive, social document of immense importance for our futures – for all of us on this planet!

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The manuscript as a whole is still in the editing process; but we expect it to appear on Amazon in the summer of 2015.

Meanwhile, you can read the ForewordChapter 1 and Chapter 2 below, for free.  

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This book will be available for sale from this web page in just a few weeks.

Chapter 30 has already been edited.  The entire manuscript is now being polished for final publication.

Watch this space.

Dr Jim Byrne – 12th June 2015

Editor and publisher of Daniel’s work.

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All of the material displayed on this page is subject to Copyright Law.  No part of this material may be used in any way without the explicit written permission of the copyright holders: Dr Jim Byrne and the Institute for CENT. 

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Reader feedback: 

"I was amazed by the richness of the story.  The many strands of reality that have been woven together.  I loved Professor Valises .  I wept for the little blue bear.  And I could not believe the tension involved in the Saravey Priests hauling the little white goat and the curious boy out into the desert to sacrifice them to the God, Namti. My head is still spinning".

D.L., Bradford. Psychology fan.

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Foreword - by Dr Jim Byrne - Copyright (c) The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne

“Is life really just ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’, as suggested by Shakespeare, in one of his darker moments?  Or is it a glorious opportunity to walk the bloody way of personal growth; to haul your burden towards the borders of sanity; and then to emerge in a golden dawn of personal triumph, when you have finally faced down your last adversity?”

Willi-Sean Maguire.  Irish Magus…

 

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Daniel O’Beeve is a dramatically honest and brave man, as you will see when you begin to read his life story.  He has the extraordinary courage to tell the story of his highly dysfunctional life, without hiding his weaknesses, his failings, his unattractive features – his foolishness, his ignorance, and his apparent lack of courage.  (It takes a lot of courage to admit to lack of courage!) It is a tribute to his generosity of spirit that I found myself laughing heartily, or smiling happily, as often as I found myself racked by empathic concern for his suffering. And I find his work at least as illuminating as it is affecting.

Daniel describes how he arrived in the small town of Alton Cross, in the High Peaks, in Yorkshire, during the heavy snowstorms of January 1979.  He was just thirty-three years old; but he was totally burned out.  Exhausted from fifteen years of stumbling from one emotional crisis to another. 

His six-year marriage was over; his two-year affair was over; his overseas-career was over; he had lost the chance to be a father to twin girls.  He had spent the past two years using drugs to get him through his daily difficulties.  And then there was the earlier seven years of isolated loneliness and confusion to factor in.

Alton Cross was the remote town where he would finally encounter his devils.  This would be his final chance to face them down, before despair overwhelmed him.

He hated Alton Cross from the moment he arrived.  He wrote a song about it, and played it on his guitar:

“The valley is empty now.  Nothing moves on the streets…”.

~~~

This is one of the strangest, most intimate, most moving and delightful autobiographical novels I have ever read.  It is a wonderful piece of psychological detective work: the resolution of at least one major mystery. It is somewhat fictionalized, so it counts as a semi-autobiographical novel – but it feels as if the person who wrote it lived every pain and joy on these pages.

I am proud to introduce the writing of Daniel O’Beeve to the world, and convinced that this will become one of the great stories of post-post-modern literature.  Each time I read it, I see and hear it on the Hollywood screen that I carry in my head for that purpose!

I was delighted, some four years ago, to be chosen by Daniel O’Beeve to edit and publish the story of his fascinating, difficult, challenging life.  In particular, I was very happy that Daniel had been influenced by some of my writings about my own childhood.  This, he writes, encouraged him to take the bull by the horns, and to face up to the highly dysfunctional family history which had distorted most of his life.

It has taken a long time to get the book to this stage.

~~~

Daniel was a product of inadequate parenting, in a culture which was deeply wounded by colonial exploitation. By writing the story of his life, he hoped to dispel some of his demons; and also to help others to come to terms with some quite common human problems and difficulties – especially problems to do with relationships and love; and especially sex-love.  In the process, he also reveals some highly comical and ludicrous elements of his family life, his school experiences, and his wider experiences of the world.

The main reason I admire Daniel so much is this: What he has written has such a raw honesty that it touches me deeply.  And I know how much courage it must have taken for him to admit some of these stories; to accept them as part of himself; even to acknowledge them, in the privacy of his own mind.  But because of his openness and honesty, he has also recorded a good number of lighter moments, which are touching.

With every chapter that I have read, I felt I had become a little wiser than before; a little more compassionate; a little more human.

~~~

Because this expanded story has more geographical locations and institutions which could potentially help curious minds to guess Daniel’s identity, we agreed that I would rewrite some of this expanded autobiographical novel, especially replacing the locations in which Daniel lived, and substituting some in which I lived.  I have also changed some of the ages and genders of some of his siblings to correspond to the pattern in my own family.  And some of his peer relationships have also been modified.  This should ensure that Daniel’s siblings and former colleagues will never be able to guess that they are reading the life of someone they know or knew very well.  And my own peers and relatives will know that none of this applies to them, because the overall shape of the story is so different from what they know of their own lives.

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I hope this book proves to be interesting and helpful for any individual who wonders about how their own childhood experiences might have affected the shape of their adult personality and life circumstances; as well as professionals who work with childhood trauma and psychological development.  I also hope it serves as a model for others who want to follow in Daniel’s brave footsteps in writing their own life story.

I hope it teaches something about love; the trials and tribulations of learning how to love; and finding a compatible sex-love mate.

My final hope is that this book will help the world to understand the power of cognitive emotive narrative therapy – the newest therapy which pioneers the digging up of childhood memories; acknowledging them as our interpretive attempts to reconstruct what may or may not have happened to us in our journey towards autonomy and the capacity to love; and then to let them go - like the returning of wild birds to the woods from which they were lovingly coaxed.  To let everything go back into the silent void from which we all, originally emerged.

To wrestle for a time with the war of words which is human culture, and then to let it go, totally!

To step into the eternal present like a flaming torch!  Cleansed by fire; and love.

~~~

Dr Jim Byrne, Hebden Bridge, 23rd May 2015 

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Copyright (c) 2015, The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne 

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Chapter 1 - by Daniel O'Beeve...

Copyright (c) 2015, The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne 

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“The brain of the foetus, and the brain of the baby, are like putty in the hands of its surrounding environment: highly impressionable.  The brain of the new-born baby can be permanently or semi-permanently harmed by malnutrition, stressful noise, lack of love and affection, too much handling, too little handling, rough handling, neglect, as well as other forms of impoverishment and lack of nurturing.  Early developmental deficits can take decades to correct; and sometimes they are uncorrectable!”

Paddy-Brennan-Ji, The Roots of all Suffering…

~~~

Preamble:

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In her 2015 story about Hercule Poirot’s investigation of a triple murder, Sophie Hannah has one of her characters, a Nancy Ducane, make this statement: “It is the job of art to replace unhappy true stories with happier inventions”.[1]

That may be some artists’ idea of the goal of their work, but it is not mine.  It is also very different from the function of psychotherapy.  It is the job of psychotherapy to help the suffering individual to process their unhappy true stories, so that they can disappear! Most human disturbance is caused, it seems, by the attempt to escape from experiencing our unhappy true stories!

That is one of the functions of this present book; both for me and for you. To face up to some facts of life!

When I was a little boy, I loved detective stories.  I think, at that time, I probably thought they were intrinsically interesting and an obvious choice for anybody to read. But that was not the whole story.  In fact, I now believe that I loved detective stories because, at some non-conscious level of mind, I knew that I was going to have to learn how to be a pretty damn good detective if I was ever going to resolve the mystery of my life. 

At that time, when I was ten to twelve years old, I didn’t know (consciously) that there was a mystery.  At that time, I did not know that most of my soul was frozen; and that most of my life-potential had been stolen.

I was like the victim of a hit-and-run ‘accident’, who is lying, maimed, on the side of a dark and deserted road; who, in his delirium, begins to fantasize about growing up and becoming a traffic cop; a cop who goes around putting up CCTV cameras on every inch of the public highway, so that, if anybody is ever run over by a drunk driver, they (the victim) will be easy to find; and thus the drunk driver can be identified and brought to justice. 

In reading detective stories, I was beginning to learn how to be a good psychoanalyst - by studying Charlie Chan and Hercule Poirot! A good detective wants to know where the body is buried; and a good psychoanalyst wants to know where the truth is buried.

~~~

Insight

In psychotherapy it is said that only the wounded physician can heal.  And it may be that in the world of literature, it is only the traumatized individuals who become wholly creative.  This idea was suggested to me by Tanya Lee Markul, like this:

Creative individuals have "… experienced trauma — and have grown from it. Or are sincerely trying (to grow). Most creative people have been through something traumatic to varying degrees. These experiences bring new breath, perspectives and a fuel for their life’s work. They’re often uninhibited, in some way, to allow their painful experiences to be felt clearly and consciously so that they can transform pain and hurt into expressions of art."[2]

That’s why I’m here.

Permission to speak

Listen a while.  Lend me your ear.

I have a message for you:

I would not waste a second of your precious time here on Earth with pointless words, devoid of relevance and value for you.  I would not wish to detain you on your weary journey through a troubled life.

I write these words to you because I want to wake you up; to show yon an exemplar of a life of struggle, resolved and refined, and completed.  I want to show you an example of how to turn your own life into a successful journey through your own challenges and difficulties.

I know you were scarred in your family of origin.  I know you were crucified in the name of ‘education’.  I know your life has not been easy.

Today, I bring you the hot coals of redemption – the open road of discovery of who you might become. I have walked the lonely roads of lost-ness, through wilderness years, with salty tears uncried!  I have heard the howls of the banshee in the dead of night, and wondered what had become of God and the promise of salvation.

To know thyself; to be a good person; to understand your journey; to complete your experience of your life’s suffering: those are the gates to the kingdom of heaven on earth. 

Let me show you!

My agenda

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I want to tell you who I am, and where I’ve been – but for your benefit.  However, first I want to say this:

The average human being, at birth, my friends, is like a thousand shards of broken glass, scattered across the night sky.  This fragmented mess – this biochemical soup – is an uncoordinated cacophony of non-conscious feelings: Good and bad; physical and mental; pain and pleasure; love and hate; terror and rage. It takes at least two decades, and sometimes more, to fashion that loose association of electro-chemical elements into a relatively well-functioning committee of sub-personalities; or what we normally call ‘a person’. 

The first requirement for success in integrating those myriad elements is to learn a coherent map of life from emotionally intelligent, moral, loving parents.

Because the environmental factors are often inadequate, it frequently proves to be the case that the individual fails to develop even a small fraction of their full potential for love and life.

~~~

Background

My psychological development was retarded to dangerous levels of enstupidization by an entire culture of damaged individuals; helped along by a religion of astronomical inaccuracy, autistic sex-phobia, and general emotional dysfunction; and an ‘edjumacation’ designed to fit me for a lifetime of servitude to any parasite who wanted to exploit me economically.

~~~

When I reached my teens, my Japanese judo teachers tried to teach me a philosophy of life that could save me. It helped a little.  But I was already on the wrong track, and heading in the wrong direction. My map of life was written on the back of a crumpled postage stamp, stuck to the sole of my uncomfortable right shoe.

~~~

“If we do not teach our children about love and why it’s so much healthier than hatred, what will become of them?  If we do not teach them about their journey towards healthy sex-love relationships, in maturity, who will teach them?  And if we do not know enough about love and sex, and relationships, and how to manage our hatred and rage, what hope is there for any of us?”

Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy…

~~~

The story begins…

1. The journey begins here…

Strictly speaking, I should begin this book with these words: My name is Daniel O’Beeve, and this book represents the story of half of my life. 

That would accord this text a certain kind of credibility as a straightforward autobiography.

But this is not a straightforward autobiography.  It is, instead, an autobiographical novel; and so it requires a different kind of beginning.  Like this:

The mystery really began with the arrival of the email – if you can call it an email.  I’d been working hard all day, and right into the evening.  I was trying to write up a dream sequence – or was it a daydream sequence – involving some strange men in a strange landscape.

At last, in total exhaustion, I switched off the computer and began to ‘palm’ my eyes.  I kept my eyes open, and cupped my hands over them – fingers close together - so I could stare into total darkness.  That was a blessed relief.  My eyes were tired and sore.

Suddenly there was a bright flash, which shone through my hands: revealing my black bones, surrounded by pink muscle and flesh.  I was so startled that my hands fell away my eyes.  And there, on the computer screen, was a strange email.  The text was like flickering, blue gas flames; and the background was a kind of mucky cream smog.  Despite the poor contrast between them, I could easily read the message, which said:

From the scratchpad of Professor Nuveen Valises, Head of Research Team, Planet 3EX771.  valises@IFspaceship29.fed

Dateline: 3619 APV

Daniel: You have completed your mission admirably; and so, I thought, had I.  However, I now realize that if you do not write the story of how you did it, my mission will also have failed.  So I must strongly request that you get down to writing up where you have been, and what you have experienced, so we can both rest easy knowing we have completed our historic missions.

What follows is a single sentence summary of the abstract of my report to the Intergalactic Federation:

+We-an hipotiste Daniel’s mirt skurpt anstrazhan toll Daniel valay rasoltav ohum rurlattah ugg gir andluttay im oan positatay oneroot cun higga uppanparon oan dazt vurlt dit zoon moedhuur haast lowershowalzan wur mit gut wan sexoullarm dilch irhaan Faltaar.+

Oh, sorry.  I should have realized… I will have to translate that for you.  When you get down to writing your story, I will send you a full transcript of my report, translated into English. That may help you to fill in some of the blanks.

Good luck!

Nuveen Valises

~~~

The problem with this message, of course, was that the computer was switched off!

~~~

So I switched it back on and was relieved to find that the piece I had been working on was still intact.  This is what it said:

I don’t know if this was a dream, proper, or a daydream.  But I could see the two drab men walking around the mounds of ash and rubbish.  There were three mounds.  The men always walked alone. Sometimes one would walk a figure of eight around the two rubbish mounds on the left; while the other man walked round and round the mound on the right.  Then they would change over.  Every so often they would, inevitably, meet, at the front of the site, in my field of vision. Then they would speak briefly to each other in monotone voices.  They had no news for each other: good or bad.  They bemoaned the nature of existence!

Away to the left, the director of the piece sat all alone on a three-legged stool.  He had a face like a crumpled page of newsprint.  He seemed happy, or satisfied, with the general depressive tone of the scene.

Between me and the mounds of rubbish stood a little boy in short trousers with tousled hair and a short sleeved shirt.  His feet were bare.  He scratched his head constantly.  After a while he spoke to the little white goat, who stood quietly beside him.

“What is the significance of this grim routine?” asked the curious boy.

The goat, of course, made no reply.

“Why has the director made the scene so barren?” he persisted.  “And how has this illusion been perpetrated?”

From the right of the scene, a very tall, dark woman, with long black hair, tied back with a black ribbon, stepped into the frame.

“He has taken away the work that would bind them to sanity!” she tells the curious boy.

“Ah!” said the boy.  “Loss of meaning!”

“Yes”, said the tall woman.  “Meaning and structure, both! But not just the meaning that is derived from work; but also the purpose that is derived from family relationships”. 

“Yes”, said the boy.  “I see.  No partners.  No children!”

“And how could the audience understand what these men are up to unless the director includes something about their childhood?” asks the tall woman, rhetorically.

“Their childhood is that important?” asked the boy.

“Their childhood defines who they are!” said the tall woman.

~~~

Where do these ideas come from? I am plagued by random thoughts and strange visitations!

~~~

Sometimes, when I’m dreaming, I become aware that the feeling of my feet walking along a solid surface is a reality, and that I am walking through a concrete reality and a dreamscape at the same time.  And sometimes, when I am wide awake, and walking through a perfectly normal scene, I realize that I am also progressing through a dream sequence in my mind.

~~~

Professor Valises wants me to write the story of my life; and the tall woman wants me to be aware that my childhood defines who I am.  Who am I to disappoint them?!

~~~

Because I’m obviously a male writer, you might expect that I am now going to write about things, and stuff, and systems and patterns.  That there won’t be any emotions, feelings, relationships, tensions, plots and resolutions.  But you’re quite wrong.  Although I begin my life in quite an autistic, male brain state, I end this story in a really quite vivid state of emotional rawness and sensitivity!

~~~

“If you are trapped in the disturbing vines of childhood abuse, search for the words to describe it.  Get it out; write it down; express it!  But do it in places where you feel safe and supported.  Do not expose yourself to more abuse!”

Noreen Jameson, Recovery from Childhood Abuse…

~~~

 

2. Easy memories…

Teenage memories are easy.  I have no difficulty remembering that I escaped from the most oppressive school imaginable at the age of fourteen years; that it was less than two weeks before I began my apprenticeship in metal jewellery manufacturing; and two weeks later I joined an amazing judo club in centre of Dublin city.

My memories of the trainers who came from Japan to teach us are still as clear as an old movie.  Slow-moving, graceful men, with sallow skin, and jet-black, oily hair. Lithe men who acted like peaceful but lethal panthers, smiled like reclusive monks, and taught us their strange culture.  Not just judo and karate; but also aikido (fighting with hands and wrists); kendo (fighting with sticks and/or swords); meditation; tea ceremony; and their philosophy of life.

Their philosophy was simple:

“No fight”.  Translated by an assistant as: Do not be aggressive.  Do not attack your opponent.  Use his or her strength and aggression against them.

“No anger”.  Do not allow your emotions to intrude into your judo play.  This is a game of skill; of consciousness; of alertness.

“No pride”.  Do not be prideful.  Do not inflate your ego.  Be modest. The world is for everybody.  All are equal.  Do not assume more than your fair share of the space; the air; the action.

“No look for trouble”.  Do not fight outside of your club, in your daily life.  Do not seek trouble or conflict.  If confronted by an attacker in the street, choose to run away, as fast as you can, if you can.  If you cannot run away; or they pursue you and attack you; then, without any emotion, disable them; render them powerless to harm you – swiftly and without ceremony.  Then walk away, with no more agitation than if you have just brushed some autumn leaves from your garden path.

~~~

On special occasions we all sat in silence – twenty or so young men aged fourteen to forty - while our Japanese teachers whisked hot, green tea for us, until it was frothy on top.  Then we all sat, crossed legged, with tiny little cups, sipping the tea in silence, and meditated on ‘Big Mind’.  It was stranger than being observed leaving my mother’s uterus by two strange looking aliens, who peered at me through a steerable wormhole in the fabric of intergalactic space-time, and looked so sad about the way I arrived!

~~~

3. Memories of early childhood…

I want to tell you my story, in full, as quickly and economically as I can.

While stories of the teenage years are easy to recall, stories of infancy are much more difficult: to recall; to reconstruct; to validate.

But it’s not just a problem of memory.

Many great stories remain untold, because the potential author has no voice; no words for the things they have seen and felt.  Some potential stories are stillborn because the potential storyteller gives up on life and quits completely: dying into drugs, alcohol, gambling, ‘business success’, sex addiction, warmongering or ‘gradual suicide’.

Some stories emerge later in the day because a tired and weary wanderer accidentally stumbles across the secret vault in which the truth has been dumped, and locked away, in the ordinary course of a timid, half-lived life.  Such is the source of this story: my story.

~~~

We remember so little of our infancy.  Sometimes nothing.  Sometimes little snatches of sound or feeling, or snippets of imagery.

I don’t know how often my mother sang songs when I was a babe in arms, but one such song did stick in my mind.  This is how it begins:

“It was early, early in the spring

The small birds whistled and sweet did sing,

And changing their notes

From tree to tree

The song they sang was Old Ireland Free”.

It was a sad song.  I didn’t know what the words meant – did not know what “Ireland” was; or what “Free” could be.  I may have had some vague idea what a “bird” was; and a “tree”, perhaps.

But it was a sound of deep, mournful grief, the way she sang it. Even despair.  It bored its way into my heart, like a sick worm, looking for somewhere comfortable to die!

~~~

What else did I absorb from my mother’s culture?  Perhaps everything!

So if you are to understand my personal story you need to know something of the culture from which my mother emerged – for I almost certainly inherited whatever she had inherited. 

This is a modification of the understanding of what the tall woman told the curious boy, above.  It is not just that our childhood defines who we become; but that our family history, our racial history, shapes what is possible for our lives.

~~~

4. A legend of old Ireland…

Therefore, before I can tell you anything about me and my childhood, I need to give you a broader context.  So, to begin with, let me tell you a legend of old Ireland:

Long, long ago, about 64 generations back – in the season of the Crow – about two full moons before the Festival of Aine (the Moon Goddess) - Doneal McFlynn was walking on the hillside outside the village of Crumble-Baan.  He was wearing a plain green kilt and a sheepskin vest.  His long grey hair was tied in a knot on top of his long, slender head; and his feet were bare. 

Evening was closing in, and darkness was descending fast.

Looking down on the village, he could just see the outline of the three concentric circles of round houses in which the entire population lived their communal life. 

Though the light was poor, he could still make out the modest campfire of the two boys who were keeping the Night Watch on the opposite hillside.  Suddenly, without warning, a great flare of flame arose in his field of vision, right next to the boys’ campfire.  In his entire lifetime he had never seen this vision, though he had spent decades expecting to see it one day.  The alarm signal.  Invaders have been spotted approaching us.

As quickly as he could, Doneal made his way down to the village, where the men and boys had congregated in the open space at the centre of the inner circle of roundhouses.  They had a huge assortment of wooden clubs, wooden shields, whips, big stones and slingshots, a few axes, and bronze bars with which to beat their opponents.  The two watching boys had arrived sweating and shouting.  They had seen the signal from the next village, at the top of the valley.  So the enemy must be coming from the sea, as they had always expected they would.

~~~

Tor Sorgas was the leader of the raiding party.  He stood at the front of the bigger of the two wooden ships, in metal helmet with nose shield; wearing woollen shirt and trousers, covered by a leather jerkin.  He has ordered the crew on the oars to head for the bay.  They had left their home in the frozen north of Europa three weeks earlier, intent upon plundering a few communities in Scotia and Britannia, but they had been rebuffed at ever attempt.  They also failed two landings on the Welsh coast, and now were bound for the east coast of Hibernia. 

Tor could not imagine any kind of life other than plundering the wealth of others, especially the mineral wealth of the Britons.  But the livestock and crops of Hibernia would have to do this time.

They had run out of dried fish earlier today, and so they had to succeed with this landing.  To ensure that there was no turning back, they burned their boats on the beach where they landed, and began the trek inland to find some undefended community to plunder.

~~~

Doneal McFlynn, as the village elder, took charge of the massed men and boys, and told them that the gods were on their side.  Nobody had the right to invade their community and disrupt the peace.  Right is mighty, he told them, and then commanded them to follow him into battle. 

It was not known in advance how long it would take to locate the enemy, but in the event it involved a two hour march eastwards.

The warriors of Crumble-Baan met the invading army on the fields of Larkow, halfway between the village and the coast.  The men and boys of Crumble-Baan did their war dance, screaming and roaring their anger at the invaders.  This was the tradition of Lenster-Beag, to demonstrate superior moral right by every means available to larynx and arms and body movements. 

Tor Sorgas had trained his warriors to ignore the behaviour of the enemy, and to look within for the superior claim of the people of Scantavia to the wealth of the world.  The god of war was on their side, and they would prove to be invincible.

The men and boys of Crumble-Baan ran down the hillside towards the invaders, stamping their feet, shouting curses, screaming for them to withdraw and go away.  They were convinced that, at any moment, the invaders would understand that the people of Crumble-Baan had the superior moral stand, and then they would simply run away.

However, the warriors of Tor Sorgas did not flinch until the Hibernians were in close, and then they ripped them apart with their swords, knives, spiked flails and spears.

Only two of the younger boys lived to run away, and report back to the village.

~~~

The women of Crumble-Baan were heartbroken at the news of the death of their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers.  They were beside themselves with grief. 

All through the night they cried, beating their chests with their fists; and wailing to Aine for relief from their pain.  And then, about two hours before dawn, Banba Ni Flynn, the physically strongest of the women, appointed some young girls to take the children and babies into the woods to hide.  She then took the group of forty women and older girls out into the fields where they undressed and covered themselves with mud, from forehead to ankles.  Throughout this process they chanted a mesmerizing prayer to Aine.

They then slaughtered a goat and smeared its blood and guts over their hair and chests.  This was accompanied with screams of ‘vengeance’.

Then they each broke two tree branches for themselves; one to serve as a club, and the other to strap to their left forearms, with reeds, as a shielding beam, to protect themselves from direct blows by their enemy’s weapons. 

Then they knelt on the cold, damp ground, and prayed to Aine, the Moon Goddess, to help them settle the score with their enemies.

And finally, they set off at a brisk pace on the long walk to the battleground, which they expected would take at least two hours.

~~~

Tor Sorgas celebrated his victory in his brief battle with the Hibernians by roasting several of the bigger, more muscular, fallen men over open fires, and eating them.  Then he and his warriors sang lots of victory songs, and slept well in a large mound of tree branches which they cut down and assembled for protection and warmth. 

At dawn, Sorgas awoke and noticed how quiet it was.  It was a kind of sub-zero quietness which roared in his ears, like the distant sound of the sea in a seashell.  Pushing the tree branches back, he stepped out into the morning light.

Looking up at the hillside ahead of him, he saw forty strange animals, like apes, standing perfectly still.  Each one carried a big tree branch like a club.

It was a truly chilling sight, but Tor began to laugh, and called to his men to get up and come look at this strange sight.

The other fifty-five Norsemen emerged from their sleeping shelter and joined in the laughter.

Then the women of Crumble-Baan began to slowly walk down the hillside.  The laughter from the Norsemen continued, with some moments of silence, some giggles; some attempts to intensify the laughter; some faltering; some increasing disquiet.

The women of Crumble-Baan walked slower and slower, now slightly crouching down, with a chilling intensity: clubs at the ready.  The Norsemen took up their positions.  Tor gave the order to prepare their weapons. 

As the strange creatures came closer, they began to keen; to express their grief at their great loss, as they picked their way between the fallen bodies of their kinsmen on the open field.

Closer still and the Norsemen began to smell the great stench of stomach bile and the iron and flint of the goat’s blood.

Then the women stopped, and Banba, in a strange tongue, told her sisters that you cannot hope to win your battles by relying upon your moral message affecting your enemies.  You had to be as remorseless as they were.  You had to harden your heart; to forget everything you had learned from the Moon Goddess. 

Then Banba uttered a great shriek of ‘Revenge!’ and the women and girls of Crumble-Baan set about the Norsemen and did not rest their clubs until there was no longer an intact skull to be seen.

Six women lay dead on the field, alongside fifty-six Norsemen.

~~~

The women and girls stayed on the battle field for two days and two nights.  At first they bathed themselves in the blood of the killers of their menfolk.  Then, with their bare hands and some sticks, they dug holes to bury their dead men and boys.  They lay on the graves, keening and crying.

At the end of this period, Banba called them together and spoke to them:

“From this day forward, let there be no more charity”, she ordered.  “No more compassion; no more kindness; and no more forgiveness.  Let you heart be like flint, and your face like a locked door”.

Finally, they collected up the weapons and shields of the fallen Norsemen, and then they walked slowly homewards to their man-less households.

~~~

Over time, the women of Crumble-Baan found new men to join their community, from the surrounding district; but they retained control. 

They raised their children to be merciless fighters.

The people of Crumble-Baan became an indomitable people, because of their harshness, until – 9 generations later - the Anglo-Normans came and broke their spirits. In a matter of days they went from being a matriarchal communist community to the flogged serfs of the Anglo-Norman warlord, the self-styled nobleman, Ralf, The Earl of Swafford – a murderous psychopath with a ‘king’s warrant’ - which means ‘permission to plunder’.

He kidnapped one out of every ten men, women and children in the village, and kept them in the woods above the river, guarded by his most murderous men; and threatened to gouge out the eyes, and roast alive, one man, woman and child for every act of rebellion or insurrection that was undertaken by any member of the village community.  (His great grandfather had developed this strategy, one hundred years earlier, in the subjugation of the Britons of Swafford region. On his deathbed, the old man asked for forgiveness for the torture, murder, rape and general abuse of thousands of ordinary Britons).

Now, in total defeat, the people of Crumble-Baan were harsh and broken.  Bitter and unforgiving.  And they passed that down to their offspring.

~~~

“The cruellest thing that can be said of the people of Crumble Baan is this: They enslaved themselves!  They enslaved themselves by putting the survival of 10% ahead of the dignity of 100%.  Very bad arithmetic!  Of course, they were outwitted by the evil terrorism of the Earl of Swafford – but it took them at least eight hundred years to build up the courage for twelve brave men to occupy the General Post Office in Dublin, which brought the British military occupation to its knees within five years”. (Page 102).

Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy…

~~~

5. Subsequent history…

In 1798, inspired by the American and French revolutions, the people of Crumble-Baan, now renamed Crumble village, joined the United Irishmen’s revolt, only to be crushed once more by the English army of occupation. (The English army of occupation, of course, being an agent of the English ruling class, and not an expression of the will of the English people, which had been just a cruelly crushed by the Normans, one hundred years before the Irish).

~~~

In 1845, half the population of Crumble either died of famine, or left for America: many dying at sea.

~~~

In 1848, following the wave of revolutions across Europe, the Pope of Rome, who had been the titular head of feudal Europe for centuries, identified this year as the crucial point in history to attempt to roll back the march of Protestant capitalism, and to restore Catholic feudalism across the continent of Europe.  His plan was to unite the Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Irish peoples against the English, Dutch, and East Prussians; and the Protestant cantons of Switzerland.  For this purpose, a large body of well-educated priests was sent to Ireland, to take control of the mind of the Irish people and to fashion it into a weapon to use in the attack on England.

Those priests were guilt-ridden about sex.  Some of them naively believed it was possible to repress the human sex urge and to live a celibate life, without any consequences.  Some others were innocent, repressed homosexuals, who were denied any kind of social life, because they did not wish to marry and reproduce. 

They all soon found out that nature is so much more powerful than human will!  And their repressed sexuality came out in all kinds of distorted ways.

Nuns and priests turned to each other for heterosexual and homosexual pleasures. Many priests took advantage of their most vulnerable parishioners, including children.  (Of course, some of those priests – and bishops - had been evil paedophiles all along, who signed up for mission because they wanted to locate themselves in roles where they could prey upon children.)

These priests, and nuns, and bishops, and teaching brothers, each with their own (guilt-driven) reason to deny human sexuality, spread their (official, public) dread of sex among the people of Crumble, along with the crazy story of Redemption by Christ’s Crucifixion!

And in denying the legitimacy of sex between men and women, they inevitably denied the value or importance of love between men and women.  Men and women were to be kept far apart from each other. Catholic churches had a male and female section, to prevent the emergence of lust during the mass!

~~~

The people of Crumble-Baan were my ancestors! Forged in the fires of insecurity, feudal conflict, and intense grief; the violence of colonial warfare, oppression, lawless victimization, degradation, starvation, and casual death.  And finally, used in a cynical political war of the worlds, in which primitive fear of sex would be one of the main building blocks! In the process, love was crushed out of them.  ‘Love’ became the dirtiest of dirty words!  It was so dirty, it was never uttered. 

~~~

Irish Catholicism – as far as I could tell, from my childhood experience - was about hatred and bile!  And as a child, I was bathed in that hatred and bile. The most visible signs being violent parents; violent sister; violent teachers; and violent school peers.  It was in the air that I breathed.

Of course, hatred and violence and bile produce, as their inevitable corollaries, fear and loathing; and unprincipled obedience.

It was not until I arrived in England, at the age of eighteen years, that I heard the expression: “God is Love!”

I think I laughed at that idea, when first I heard it.  At the very least I would have been mystified by this bizarre oxymoron.

I had grown up with the God of Retribution; the God of Hell Fire; the God of Anger.  I had the Fear of God beaten into me, at home and in school.

~~~

 



[1] Sophie Hanna (2015) The Monogram Murders – The new Hercule Poirot Mystery.  London: Harper.  Page 191.

[2] From: Tanya Lee Markul, June 21st 2015 - 4 Creative traits most people never understand; Rebelle Society. Available online: http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/06/21/a-rebelle-solstice-4-creative-traits-most-will-never-understand/

Copyright (c), 2015: The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne... 

Extract from Chapter 2: by Daniel O'Beeve

~~~ 

"In most of the families we followed, for more than two decades, there was a constant mystery related to these three central questions: Why did their heroes not come from their own social class, or their own clan or region?  How were they persuaded to worship such alien ghosts from amongst their oppressors and exploiters? And why were they so insensitive to the emotional needs of their own children?"

Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy… 

~~~

1. Starting in the middle…

Thailand.map2.jpg

I have now presented you with the ‘prequel’ to my life – the context suggested by the battle of Crumble-Baan.  I then thought of ‘starting at the beginning’ - like the King advised the White Rabbit, in Alice in Wonderland – with the story of my infancy – but I know that most adults have great difficulty identifying with infants and their suffering.  So, instead I followed the lead of Karen Joy Fowler, in her book about the loss of her ‘chimp sister’, titled We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.  The approach of her main character, Rosemary, to the writing of her own autobiography - which she achieved during her second year at the University of California, Davis - was this: “By then I’d figured out the way to talk about my family.  Nothing simpler really.  Start in the middle”.

The middle of my life, roughly, was the year in which I turned thirty-two years of age.  And I want to begin there, because I want you to be able to identify with the kind of adult I became, before I present you with my dreadful childhood.

I promise, in Chapter 3, to go right back to my earliest childhood memories, and to let you have the undiluted truth.

So let me then begin with the trappings of my life when I was thirty-two years old (back in the summer of 1978): My UN consultancy work; and my work for the Royal Thai government, at Thammasat University; my apartment in Soi Pradiphat, round the back of Praddipat Road, near Saphan Kwhai, Bangkok.  Plus my illicit affair with Juliet Peterson; and the screaming roar in my head that could only be quieted by tranquillizers and Thai grass.

This starting point helps a lot, because, by this stage, it looked as if I not only didn’t have any family, but that I had never had one! That I had fallen from the skies fully formed.  A perfect ‘organizational man’, with a fabricated CV that any robot would be proud of.

In the process of ‘amputating’ my ‘unacceptable family’, I had somehow chained my heart to a frozen vacuum of fabricated identity.

I was a self-constructed-self with no core.

And the ‘international development role’, which I had at this time, is a perfect illustration of how lost I am.  I was trying to fix the world – but I didn’t even know I was broken into tiny fragments.

What a fake, unreal ‘person’ I’d become.  What a failed life I was leading – despite the visual illusion of my “professional success”.

~~~

2. A waking nightmare…

"The Brothers of Christ produced ten generations of boys and men who could neither think nor feel.  They were crippled leftovers from the failed feudal revolt against British capitalism".

Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy… 

~~~

The beeping alarm dragged me out of a strange black and silver landscape of caves and hills, in which I was haunted by memories of something I’d lost.  I was frantically searching for something precious.  But I could not begin to find it until I knew what it was.  And I could not remember what it had been.

Beep, beep, beep…..

I awake; slam the beeping alarm off; and swing my legs out of bed.  It hasn’t rained for weeks, and the temperature, in the run-up to ‘Christmas’ is above eighty-five degrees by lunchtime.  It’s already over seventy degrees, and it’s barely seven o’clock in the morning.  Yellow light streams in through the windows of my three room apartment.

Although it was almost Christmas ‘back home’ (wherever that was: the UK? or Ireland?) there seemed to be endless Chinese celebrations going on all over Bangkok.  We were still in the year of the Horse; and the year of the Goat would not begin until early February 1979. I’d consulted a traditional Chinese healer in Bangkok, and he’d told me that the year of the Goat would be a major turning point in my life.  He said my world would crack and fall asunder; only to be rebuilt in a better form.  And the symbol for the moment of change would be the arrival of the Goat.  I can’t wait!

At the moment it’s Chinese Thanksgiving, which is the Thais’ winter solstice celebration, involving ancestor worship at its core, but lots of eating of spicy foods seemed to be the main evidence that the celebrations are in full flow.

3. Minor health problems…

I look down at the red hives on my legs and arms.  Fucking bedbugs.  I cross the bedroom and pick up the big black Bakelite phone, tap the internal call button repeatedly, and speak to the apartment block manager, telling him the new mattress is no better than the previous one – ‘I’m still covered in bedbug bites’ – and ask that he get me a new mattress by the end of today.

Then I open the fridge and look in.  Nothing appeals to me, so I remove by tee-shirt and put on a pair of swimming trunks and flip-flops; cross to the entrance hall; and out onto the patio, where I am struck by the glaring sun and the roar of the traffic from Tunun Praddipat, a couple of hundred yards away. I turn right and walk down to the swimming pool.

There are already two Thai families – two mothers and fathers and four children - and the fat American from apartment number four - in the shallow end of the pool, chatting amiably.  I walk to the deep end, where the blinding yellow sparkles of sunlight bounce off the rippled surface of the pale blue chlorinated water.  I climb down the steps, and, clinging to the ladder rail, float out on my back.  This is one way to cool down; one way to wake up; and one way to try to soothe my burning hives.  I can’t swim, but I have learned how to float on my back.

My head is thumping, as usual, and my neck and shoulders are cold and stiff.

It’s a lot cooler at the moment than it was in June, when I arrived in this exotic city, with plans to make a reputation and perhaps a small fortune at the same time.  I was trading on my creative ability to suggest timely economic and technological innovations for rural development. The Royal Thai government was urgently investing in anything that would wean the poor peasant farmers of the Northeast Region from the Lao and Cambodian communists who repeatedly infiltrated the militarized Land Settlement Projects. (The paradox, of course, was that I probably hated the American Empire more than did the Cambodians. Laos or Vietnamese!  Because I knew the mercenary reasons the American state, on behalf of American corporations, had gone into Vietnam with tons of bombs and burning napalm, and killed thousands and thousands of innocent civilians.)

In the past couple of days, the humidity has dropped to about 60% which, for the Thais is very comfortable; but when it’s combined with such high temperatures, it does not suit the pale, European skin, and it’s very much outside of our comfort zone.  My pale and sensitive skin is particularly uncomfortable in such hot and sweaty conditions.

4. The cultural context…

As I lie in the pool, trying to clear my head, and cool my hives, I can smell the riot of odours of Thai cooking from the countless cooking stalls in the streets that surround Blue Lotus Apartments – the gated community where I’ve lived for the past two months.  Overall the aroma of Thai food is pleasant and rich, though at its core is that rotten, fermented fishy smell of Pla ra.  I could also pick out the diluted stink of Pad sa Tor (which I had often tried as a hangover remedy); though it was pretty heavily covered by the whole gamut of sweet and spicy herbs that Thais love so much.  But at least those food odours tended to mask the clouds of car exhaust fumes that drifted in from Praddipat Road, as the early morning traffic roar, which would last all day, began to howl in earnest.

Out of the pool, I walk to the shower at the end, wash the chlorine off with some local soap; walk back to my apartment, bowing to the Thais in the pool, and to the spirit house in the small plot in front of my door.  Back inside, I get dressed. 

Today is the big day for feedback on my presentation to the Director of the Department of Public Works, on my Northeast Village Technology and Rural Economy proposal.  For this purpose, I don my bitter chocolate, linen safari suit with the pale beige stripe: short sleeved, open-necked, waisted, and with flared trousers.  I have had my long hair cut back to collar length, and my beard trimmed.  I want to wear sandals, to keep my body temperature down, but that would not be acceptable attire for a government office in Bangkok. So I reluctantly put on a pair of Barrett’s two-tone shoes, dark tan and beige, that matched the business suit.

5. A breakfast of two parts…

Out on the street, outside my apartment compound, there are three tuk-tuks (or sam lor - motorized rickshaws – the big brothers of the Indian baby-taxi) waiting for customers to come along.  I catch the eye of one driver who’s driven me before, and beckon him over.  He turns his sam lor and drives over. Meanwhile, the aroma of the nearest food stall has stimulated my appetite, so I ask my driver to wait while I have a bowl of Kuai-tiao nam soup with noodles and pork-balls, from one of my favourite street-sellers. It takes me just three minutes to eat it, and then I get into the sam lor, and the driver takes me up to the Dorchester Hotel, near Saphan Kwai, where I order breakfast.

I had lived in the Dorchester for about two months, until I ran out of money, about eight or nine weeks back.  Although I am an accredited consultant with the UN, I am on a payment by results contract; which means that, until I bring in some project funding, I cannot claim my consultancy fees.  It’s very expensive living in Bangkok, and also funding my own field trips and consultancy reports. 

Before I lived in the Dorchester, I’d lived in a low-rent apartment that was subsidized by Christian Aid, for use by missionaries and Christian Aid field workers.  I was evicted when some neighbours complained of the sounds coming from my room every time Juliet came to visit, during my first few weeks in Bangkok.  It was unfortunate that the floor was a kind of hard, glossy resinous concrete, which squealed and screeched when the iron-frame bed was forced down hard on its bare metal legs.  I suppose it took the other residents a few weeks to figure out what was going on, and they then decided that making love in the afternoon was sinful.

Now I was back in the basement restaurant of the Dorchester, in search of the second part of my breakfast, and also to meet Juliet to plan and prepare for our visit to the Department of Public Works.  The purpose of this visit, as I said, was to get feedback on our presentation, made last month, to the Director, the Minister, and the senior funding teams from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Dutch government development agency (DDC).

It was always dark and cool in the Yim Huai Heng restaurant, because it was below ground level and therefore had no windows.  The lighting was old French wall lamps; the décor was dark; and the carpet was so dark it was hard to discern the maroon background that would be visible in broad daylight.

I sat at my usual table near the door and looked at the menu.  It contained no concessions to the English language, apart from the Romanization of the Thai words.  I had learned to stick to the Khao phat, for breakfast and lunch: which in most good restaurants contained fried rice topped with nam pla phrik (which is chillies in fish sauce).  The other ingredients tended to vary, but often included lime or lemon, cucumber or coconut, and, more often than not, spring onions.  (Nobody in Bangkok ate or supplied bacon and eggs; or toast and marmalade.  And it was almost impossible to get good quality coffee, since iced tea [‘cha yen’] was the drink of choice in that city.  Such cultural deprivation!)

My Khao phat arrived, with a strong smell of lemon grass and ginger; along with a big jug of freshly brewed, strong iced tea – like masala tea with coconut milk, crushed ice and tons of sugar.  I got stuck into the rice, with a fork in my right hand, while pouring the iced tea with my left.  The tea, when well made, in reputable establishments, was almost as strong as coffee, and I slurped a couple of mouthfuls back, in an effort to wake myself up fully. But the cognitive boost was less than half that of a good American coffee.

6. Juliet arrives…

The cha yen was not all for me, as Juliet was due to arrive soon.  She normally had black coffee in the morning, at home, (and on Mondays, Wednesdays and some Fridays, I joined her there for coffee and toast). But today she was due to meet me here at 8.15, so we could prepare for our meeting at 9.00am at the Department of Public Works.  The iced tea was a poor compensation for the lack of her preferred home-percolated American coffee.

I heard her three-inch stilettos hit the marble floor in the entrance hall above, and checked my watch.  Bang on time.

I heard her march steadily down the stairs: click, clack, click.  I was filled with sadness and gladness, in a mixture acidic enough to burn right through my heart.

She was dressed in a tight, black, Thai silk suit: jacket and pencil line skirt, with a long slit up the right thigh.  Her long blond hair was tied back in a big gold hair slide; and she was wearing her big, red-framed specs.  She was dressed to kill for a crucial business meeting.

She looked around the restaurant, saw no expats were present, apart from me, and kissed me on the lips. She whispered “Sugar lips!” as she pulled away.  Sitting down, she pushed her cup towards me for some cha yen, while pulling some documents from her briefcase.

Placing the papers on the table in front of her, she stared at me, examining my eyes.  “Morning, honey?” she said, interrogatively, looking at me questioningly.  She could see that I was still low; hung over; depressed and deflated. 

Fishing in her bag she found the little silver box of speed pills (ephedrine and caffeine), and pulled two out for me.  I washed them down with a mouthful of the tea.  Hopefully, within a few minutes, they would neutralize the tranquillizers that I took last night, and the Thai grass that I smoked at bedtime.

“What’s the running order?” I ask her.

She looks at the documents from the DPW.  “Kun Wicheet will speak for the Department.  The USAID representative will respond.  We will be asked to accept or reject the offer”.

“Is that all?” I asked.

“That’s it!”

“No detail on what the offer is likely to be?”

“No”.

We had made a pitch for half a million US dollars over a two year period, to set up a pilot project in Ubon Ratchatani.  That would then be reviewed, and a decision made about the future years. 

“What do you expect?” I asked her then.

“This is a standard format”, she said.  “It could mean a funding offer; or it could be an offer to review additional proposals; or to submit additional argumentation or supporting evidence, etc.  Impossible to say if they’ve found any funds for us, at this stage”.

~~~

7. Getting down to work…

In the air-conditioned taxi on the way to the DPW directorate, I am at last able to cool down.  The soreness of my hives is receding slowly. The restaurant had been too warm, and the street outside, as we came out, was so hot and humid, that my armpits were wet by the time we were locked inside the icy-cool interior of the cab.  Of course, some of my sweating could have been due to the tension I felt about another rejection of our project proposal, and another few weeks of brainstorming, researching, writing and making presentations.

The taxi whizzed through the crowded streets between Saphan Kwai and Rama VI Road, where most of the main government offices were located.  This journey always struck me as a mad conflation of rush-hour traffic in Manhattan and a congregation of exotic peacocks strutting and pushing along the pavements.

The taxi arrived ten minutes early, and we paid ‘waiting time’ to stay in the cool interior until we had just four minutes in hand, and then we headed into the DWP building at number 218.

We were both quite tense as we marched up the stairs and into the director’s office. 

~~~

Kun Wicheet, the director - a pleasantly fat Chinese-looking Thai - was seated regally behind his eight-foot desk.  In front of him, seated on a semi-circle of comfortable, well-upholstered chairs, were Len Hogan, the USAID representative for the Northeast; Sjoerd Leenstra, from UNDP; and Bernhard Hendriks, from the Dutch DDC.

The director stood up and shook our hands, and indicated where to sit.

He then made a statement about the excellence of our economic and technological development proposal.  Len Hogan explained how they had evaluated our proposal in the field, back in their office, and also in Washington, and that they were pleased to recommend to Congress the disbursement of 500,000 US dollars per year for the next three years to make this project a success. 

Leenstra was also full of praise, and said they would pick up the cost of local support services; and Hendriks said the Dutch government would be pleased to pay all salaries involved.

This was six times what we’d asked for, and then some!

Juliet thanked them for their feedback, and steered the conversation in the direction of when and where the funds would be disbursed.  The short answer was that a decision on start dates would be made in Washington, and it was likely to be early in the New Year; possibly late January or early February.

The room was aglow with a celebratory mood. 

Everybody expected this to be a great breakthrough for the people of the Northeast; and to help keep the commies at bay!

We all shook hands and dispersed. 

~~~ 

8. Celebrations in the context of defeat…

Juliet and I walked briskly back down the stairs to the sound of her clicking heels, and the squeak of my soft soles; out into the hot street; and into the first air-conditioned cab we could find.

Once inside, she screamed with pleasure at our victory.  I laughed and cheered.  After six months of hard work, we had been vindicated; we had succeeded; we had made it.  Once the money was through, I could submit my bill for forty thousand pounds of consultancy fees for the developmental phase.

We asked the driver to take us to the Dorchester Hotel.  It would be safer to use the hot-sheet floor – the third floor was exclusively bookable by the hour – instead of risking being seen entering my apartment at Blue Lotus Apartments (or Red Rose Court, where Juliet lived with her husband, Bart) for a celebratory roll in the hay.

Juliet, who was sitting on my left, took my left hand, clamped my index and middle fingers together, stuck them in her mouth and moistened them; then pushed my hand up her skirt, which had a deep, accommodating side split, inside her panties, and into her warm, wet vagina.

This was a strange, new bonobo-like celebration ritual that was unknown to me.  Ten years earlier, I would have been deliriously happy to be so wanted by a woman: so passionately desired.  Two years ago I was ecstatic about being wanted by this woman.  But that was then and this was now. 

In that moment of double victory, I realized my total defeat.

~~~

“Adultery, like all other forms of evil, begins with a sense that ‘this is a great idea’; a great advantage; pure benefit; total pleasure.  But as it progresses, the messy and painful bits mount up.  In the end, the dominant sense is that ‘this is a rotten situation’; a great disadvantage; pure loss; total pain.  The devil seems to have all the best tunes, but they quickly rot down into intolerable tones of suffering”.

Sheikh Exal Rambini, Metaphysical Thoughts…

~~~

Rewind six or eight weeks.  Juliet and I run along the platform with light luggage, and board the overnight train from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Ubon Ratchatani, near the borders with both Laos and Cambodia; leaving at 8.00pm and arriving at 10.00am the next day.

We have a sleeping compartment, which means we can have our evening meal in our private room, and get to bed by 9.00pm.

By 10.00pm we’ve made love, and I’ve left the lower berth, and moved to my place on the top berth.  I can hear her crying softly below.  She wants me to stay in her berth with her.  I cannot do that, which might seem strange given how strongly I am drawn to her, physically and emotionally.  To understand my behaviour, you need to know some background.

~~~

End of Extract... Copyright material.  Must not be copied or used in any way without the wirtten permission of the copyright owners: The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne

~~~ 

How did daniel get into this mess?  And how can he get out? How does this adulterous relationship relate back to the end of his own marriage? Can he ever get beyond acting out his parents' rotten marriage?

Watch out for the appearance of this amazing autobiographical novel.  Make sure you don't miss it.

~~~

Copyright (c) 2015: The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne... 

~~~ 

 Extract from Chapter 3… By Daniel O’Beeve…

Copyright (c) 2015: Dr Jim Byrne and the Institute for CENT

6. Darkness is where the demons dwell…

Wicklow-mountains

The Cullen Boys, as they are known, are in the middle of the bar room (in The Haymakers Arms pub) – two big, strapping farmhands.  They see that the barkeeper is sidling towards the left end of the bar, as the clock ticks up to eleven o’clock - and they know what will happen next.  In unison, they drain their porter glasses, pull the peaks of their flat caps down in their eyes, tap their pipes into the ash trays on the bar, and push the empty pipes into the top pockets of their worn coats. Then they stand up and swivel towards the door.  As they do so, the barkeeper picks up a small leather mallet and strikes the bar once.  As the Cullen boys turn to leave the bar, the remaining men drain their glasses, grunt or burp, turn like toy soldiers and follow the Cullen boys out into the street.

The Cullen boys have left their big black bicycles outside the front of the pub, on top of the others, for a quick escape.  They had already removed their bicycle clips when they arrived, because the hill home is too steep to cycle.  As they wheel their bicycles away, now, they hear two or three men behind them grunt farewells, or say goodnight.

Stream

It’s only forty yards to the end of the street – five small houses and a small Catholic chapel - where the boys, no longer deserving of the name, as they are in their late ‘thirties, turn sharp right and enter onto the steep hill homewards.  At this point they both switch on their bicycle lamps.  They are not cowards, but they believe that it could be dangerous to walk up this hill in the total darkness because there are big, waterlogged ditches on both sides of the road, and at least one or two drunks have drowned in them over the decades.

They also believe in demons and the devil, and they know that darkness is where they dwell.  This is the point at which they normally begin to whistle – token whistling; little incomplete attempts at a tune; which is not so much an expression of culture as it is of panic.

Here, on the dark road home, the devil runs the show.  When dawn comes, the freshly washed priests and vicars will emerge from their hiding places; the devil will withdraw, and god will reclaim the day.

The boys have a few miles to walk before they get to the Cullen farm, where they will collapse into bed together, in a bed shared with two younger brothers, and out of which they will be hauled by Old Man Cullen about four o’clock in the morning, to prepare to milk the herd – the Cullens’ being one of the few cattle farms in the area.

So they trudge off up the hill, side by side, pushing their heavy bicycles in silence.  The moon emerges to illuminate their journey for a couple of minutes, and then is obscured again by cloud cover; only to emerge again two minutes later.

As they turned the gentle bend between Dennehey’s turkey farm and the Flynn’s run-down homestead, where the gradient of the hill steepens significantly, a cloud passed over the moon, and they were plunged into deeper darkness.  Immediately after this point, they were stopped in their tracks by a loud scream.  They looked at each other in terror.  Could this be it?  The demonic confrontation they had long expected?

Silence!

They recovered their composure and walked on, gasping as they pushed their great black bicycles up the steep incline.

As they got closer to the gate of Flynn’s farm they heard it again – this time louder – and this time it was clearly a woman in distress.  She was shouting and screaming now; wailing and protesting.

As they reached the gate, they wondered what it could mean.  By the gate, they could remember the spot where Old Man Flynn’s Model-T Ford had stood, on the side of the road, inches from the ditch.  This was the car in which he died, after weeks of using it as his home, in the coldest winter they had known, locked into a mound of snow.  They had no idea why Old Man Flynn had taken to living in his car.  There were rumours of ‘interfering with’ children; but they had no idea what that actually meant.  The phrase, ‘interfering with’, was like a blow to the guts, a painful grasping at the heart, a fear of falling into a big black pit.  It had no images attached to it, and no descriptors.  It was one of the night terrors of Catholic childhood.

Because of this confusion about why Old Man Flynn had died the way he did, they did not consider stopping to see if anybody needed their help.  It was none of their business.  They were not citizens of a Grecian democracy.  They were pawns in a plot that had not been explained to them!

They walked on!

~~~

7. A difficult birth…

Inside the Flynn’s farmhouse all was not well.  Neeve, the twenty year old daughter, had come home to her mother’s place to give birth to her second child.  The girls who slept in the big bedroom to the right of the front door had been sent to stay with various aunties, and Neeve had the room to herself.  Birth was a secret process, and the less the children knew about it the better!  Neeve had arrived the day before she was due to give birth, and lounged around, waiting.  She was not expecting to be detained for very long, because her first child, Caitlin, had ‘slipped out like an oiled pea’ after thirty minutes of labour. 

She arrived before lunchtime yesterday, and her waters finally broke during breakfast today; and she was hurried off to the side room by the midwife in attendance.  But now, tonight, she has been in labour for sixteen hours – and she is in a state of exhaustion and despair. The midwife, Mrs Meehan, had to send for Old Nurse Sweeny, because she was at her wits end.  She had tried everything she knew to get this girl to deliver her second baby, but nothing worked.  Although she ordered her to push, to shove, to breathe, to squat on the bed and bear down, nothing worked.  And now the girl had become hysterical, thinking this unbearable pain could never be dislodged from her unmentionable parts.

The girl’s mother, Old Mrs Flynn - as distinct from the younger Mrs Flynns who were married to her older boys - was agitated, as she went from room to room trying to distract herself from the screams and curses of her daughter.

Several of Neeve’s older brothers and sisters, along with a couple of aunts, sat around the big room to the left of the front door, waiting for the event to be over, so they could get on with their lives.  All the younger children were upstairs, under orders to go to sleep – but how could they with such a racket going on downstairs?

Nurse Sweeny had prepared a concoction of herbs, and forced the girl to drink it.  This was followed by wild evacuations of the bowels, for which no advanced planning had been made, and then by much urination, but the head of the baby remained intractably, if visibly, lodged in the poor girl’s dilated uterus. 

Old Nurse Sweeny went to the next room and talked to Old Mrs Flynn, and tried to persuade her that a doctor would have to be called, as they had exhausted all their know-how, and were at their wit’s end.  It looked like Neeve and the baby might die, if a doctor was not called urgently.  But Old Mrs Flynn shook her head and pushed the nurse away, insisting, regrettably, that she definitely could not, under any circumstance, afford to pay a doctor.

~~~

8. An innocent goat…

The next few hours were a nightmare for everybody.  All the children who were in bed upstairs were distressed by the wild screaming.  The girl’s husband, Owen, was in shock, sitting by the fire staring into ash and embers.

Now Neeve just wailed, weakly, from time to time, like a dying animal; and then fell into brief unconsciousness.  Wailed and cried.  Sobbed.  Temporary silence.  Then she would rouse up and bash her head against the headboard and shout, Jazis, Jazis, Jazis Christ! Will somebody kill me, please!

Somewhere after two o’clock in the morning, the goat, tied up in the barn, next to the delivery room, began to respond to Neeve’s screams with its own bleats.

The goat-bleating was unnerving everybody, and Old Mrs Flynn paced up and down, brushing the tangle of fuzzy grey hair out of her eyes.  She was not a woman who knew much about self-restraint.

“Mother of God”, she intoned, after the goat had bleated more than a dozen times, in tandem with Neeve’s screams.  “I’ll kill that goat if it doesn’t stop!”  Her wrinkled face, like an ancient Native American who had been dehydrated for a decade, was more tense and angry than normal, which was saying something.

But the goat was nowhere near finished, and continued to bleat and blah, every time the girl cried out.

Finally, Old Mrs Flynn lost control, picked up a big, thick stick from the pile of firewood by the open fire; went out, slamming the door behind her; yanked open the creaking barn door and obviously struck the goat a heavy blow.  Instead of quieting the beast, this had the effect of producing a wild shriek, following which Neeve began to cry, “Oh God help me!  God help me!  God help me!”

The goat screamed; the stick thudded again and again; the girl cried out; the goat screamed; the stick thudded, over and over and over.

Finally, silence reigned, inside and outside the house. An uncomfortable silence of a type the children of this family knew in their bones.

Old Mrs Flynn re-entered the house and chased some children off the stairs - children who had been attracted by the commotion and come down to see what the unholy row was about.  She followed them upstairs and screamed at the kids who were talking loudly among themselves about what was going on.  The big stick whacked the mattress through the blankets, rags and coats which covered them.  Unlike the unfortunate goat, however, the kids knew to deliver immediate obedience and silence.  They did not wish to die.  One strike on the bedclothes and silence reigned.

An uncomfortable peace descended upon the house, broken only by Neeve’s occasional returns to consciousness, during which she cried and screamed, and pleaded for a merciful death!

~~~

9. The god of small mercies…

At precisely four o’clock, in the dead of night - according to Old Nurse Sweeny, who had been sleeping on and off by the delivery bed - an angel of the lord arrived and pulled the child effortlessly from the woman’s womb, sliding it gently onto the bloody, wet, and soiled sheets of the bed.

It was a miracle, they all agreed, as the more energetic ones who had stayed up spilled into the room.  What a big head, they all agreed.  Nobody had ever seen such a big head on a new-born baby, and especially a baby with such a small, skinny body. 

The midwives washed and dried the distraught Neeve, as she sobbed and moaned.  Then they washed the baby, and wrapped it in a new towel.  Slowly they approached the exhausted mother, and Old Nurse Sweeny began to move the baby towards her, for Neeve to take.  Suddenly, without warning, Neeve’s left arm began to arc upwards from her chest, and her big flat hand assumed the slapping position, as she took aim at the baby’s little body.  Nurse Sweeny pulled the baby back in the nick of time, and Neeve’s big flat hand arced downwards and hit the floorboards with a thud.

“Take that animal away from me!” Neeve bellowed; a look of black hatred on her contorted face.  “Get it out!  Get rid of it!  Kill it! Get it out of this room!”

Having exhausted herself with this demonstration of rejection and disgust, Neeve fell back on the pillows, closed her tearful eyes, and rubbed the wet hair off her face as she fell into a deep sleep.

Old Nurse Sweeny took the baby out of the room, and sent for a wet nurse to provide it with some breast milk.

As a result, I escaped certain death, in those first few moments of my life on earth!

~~~

Interlude

Let me give you a rest break here.  That was a difficult birth; and as I’ve said before, I am not a sadist; and I do not wish to overload you with distress.

So let us take a break by noting that, just as the Cullen boys decided it was none of their business, and moved on up the hill, a strange swishing noise announced the arrival of a ring of white cloud, about four feet in diameter, which inserted itself through the wall of the right hand room, like a periscope seeking information from beyond.

It is said that there was some UFO activity around the cottage that night, and that this had been going on for some time.  Some have even suggested that aliens were observing the Flynn farm.

“How likely is that?” scoffed old Sam Oliver.  “There must be more interesting parts of the cosmos that need investigating than old Mrs Flynn’s rundown farm”.

His small crowd of cronies laughed heartily.

~~~

10. A strange visitation…

A circle of wispy cloud, about four feet across, had inserted itself through the wall of the right-hand room, hours before the birth occurred.

Two strange-looking aliens are peering into the room at the various goings on.

“This doesn’t look very hopeful”, says the big yellow one – identified as Inspector Sappakawa.  His face looks like a cross between a dog and a frog.  His body is more humanoid; six feet tall, and about 150 pounds from webbed hands to webbed feet.

“They certainly don’t behave like advanced life-forms, right enough”, says Kapatain Suttee Mala. 

Suttee Mala is a little, blue, furry creature, with three fingers on each hand, three eyes, including one in the middle of his forehead, and a little ball of orange, frizzy hair in the middle of his head, about the size of a tennis ball. He’s Sappakawa’s research assistant, and not a particularly helpful one.

“That’s not really the problem”, says Sappakawa. “They don’t have to be advanced.  They just have to provide us with a way into understanding them, and I’m not sure we have enough to go on here”.

“So that’s the end of our mission then”, says Suttee Mala.

“Why would you say that?” asks the inspector. 

“Well.  We got nowhere in the place south of Berlin, after observing the Baumgärtner family for four trimastruls[1].  We got nowhere in the place west of Paris.  We flopped in the village north of Madrid; and in the hamlet east of London.  And here we are, south of Dublin, and it’s not looking good, as you say!”

Sappakawa rolled his eyes in despair.  At least Suttee Mala has kept him company for the past four years – as they sit, day after day, in a spaceship in the outer Balaffian asteroid belt, staring at an invasive viewing screen.  From Berlin to Wicklow, Suttee Mala has kept him company; though the quality of that company leaves much to be desired.

“Get professor Valises on the turling portette”, said Sappakawa, crossly.

Suttee Mala walks across the room and sits in front of the big komputa screen, and connects some plugs and sockets on a control panel.  Then he turns some knobs, and pulls a couple of levers. The screen hums and buzzes, and an older blue, furry face appears on the screen.

“Valises”, says this older man, with long white hair like a judge’s wig.

“Professoré!” says Suttee Mala.  “Inspector Sappakawa wishes to confer with you”.

“Connect us!” says the professor.

The screen flickers and splits in two.  The yellow dog-frog face of Inspector Sappakawa appears alongside the little blue professor with the three piercing eyes.

“Hail, professor”, says the inspector. 

“Hail”, says the professor.  “What news?”

“It’s almost as bad as London, but not quite!”

“So tell me the good news”, says the professor.

“A baby boy has just been born into a very violent family.  The mother tried to knock him from the midwife’s arms, and she has totally rejected him.  He’s been given to a wet nurse to take care of him, and it’s not clear if his mother will ever accept him.”

“And that’s the good news?!” says the professor, shocked.

“Well, here’s my thinking”, says Sappakawa.  “If he is rejected he may live or die.  If he dies, our mission here is over.  I will feel obliged to quit.  But if he lives, we have two possibilities.  One: He may be adopted by the wet nurse, or somebody else, in which case we can follow him to monitor whether his rejection at birth is registered; and if it is registered, did it function as a lifetime script, such as ‘Do not exist!’, or ‘Self-destruct: you are not wanted!’.”

“And the second possibility?” asks the impatient professor.

“Secondly: His mother relents and takes him back, and raises him.  If this happens, does she inflict the family violence upon him, and how does this affect his psychological journey?  Does she add to the script (to not exist) any life script injunctions which we can monitor”.

“This is not good, Inspector Sappakawa”, says the professor. “It’s beginning to look as if I will be retiring as a total failure who has spent more than one hundred earth years discovering absolutely nothing about any psychological principle whatsoever!”

“I’m so sorry, Professoré”, says Sappakawa. “I will redouble my efforts.  I will do my best for you.  I promise!”

The screen goes blank.  The professor has pulled a cable out of a socket on his own desk.  He is feeling dejected and annoyed by the ongoing frustrations, and the apparent failure of his mission.

~~~

11. One year later…

Inspector Sappakawa continues to monitor the situation with the O’Beeve family.  He sends regular reports to Professor Valises, in which he tries to sound as positive and hopeful as he can.  He reports on these developments:

Neeve, Owen and Caitlin return to their farm and get on with their lives as before.  They leave Daniel with Neeve’s sister, Tara.  Tara is married to Terry O’Leary, the blacksmith in Crumble, and Neeve intends for Daniel to be kept by Tara and Terry.

However, three months later, Neeve experiences a deep, postnatal depression, and the doctor tells her it’s probably grief at the loss of her son.  After several days struggling with this idea, Neeve decides she wants Daniel back; goes to her sister Tara with this news; there’s a big fight, and Neeve has to snatch Daniel and run with him to the pony and trap in which Owen is waiting, and Owen has to wrestle with Tara to get her away from grabbing Daniel out of Neeve’s hands.

Owen loses the farm; has to work for a mad landlord who bullwhips him. He then finds work in the city as a gardener; and so, when Daniel is nine months old, the family moves to Cocklestown, on the fringes of Dublin city.

When Daniel is twelve months old, Inspector Sappakawa spots something really interesting; reports it to Professor Valises; and professor Valises writes a new research proposal.

~~~

Just when Professor Valises thinks his career is over - depressingly, disappointingly - he gets the call that tells him his project on Planet 3EX771 (or Earth) has been approved.  Quite suddenly, he’s got a credible research plan; and a reasonable chance of making a significant contribution to the Intergalactic Federation’s understanding of human psychology:

Professor Nuveen Valises rubs his little blue face with his multidextrous, three-fingered hands, and stares at the folder on his little desk.  He’s coming to the end of a one-hundred hour shift, and he’s feeling tired but excited.  Outside the window of his intergalactic exploration starship, two smaller ships are approaching.  These will be the two psychologists who had been assigned to his new project.

He presses the button on his chest which reverses his wheels, and then turned the knob which swivels him around to face the komputa screen behind him.  He does not think of himself as being wheelchair bound, because his wheels had been fitted as prostheses when he had his unfortunate accident during the final year of his doctoral research on the neuronal structures of the Koblar people from the planet Abalasina. (He hadn’t realized that the gas they were pumping was highly explosive, and he created a spark by striking two rocks together!)

For most of his career, he’s been researching the brain structures of all of the different sub-species of homo sapiens, homo pulvexis, pove ligarto and cabasis ovinus. These were the only kinds of sentient beings with enlarged brains in the known universe – until recently.  And the only paltry thing that he had ever been able to demonstrate, in his entire post-doctoral research career, is that all of the advanced sentient beings in the known universe can be divided into two types: those whose whole life is dictated by their genes, hormones, and other chemicals, which cannot be altered by environmental factors; and those whose whole life is dictated by the culture into which they are born, which cannot be predicted from their genes, hormones and electro-chemical analysis.

But now, in his one hundred and fiftieth year, just at the point where he was due to retire, a disappointed member of the Klimmantz race, he was suddenly back in business.  His chief research assistant, Kalata, had been experimenting with a directable wormhole technology, and she had accidentally focussed in upon a strange blue-green planet in the Nove quadrant of the Palatine galaxy.  She referred some of her observations, of life on Planet 3EX771, to Professor Valises, who quickly concluded that something very strange was happening on this planet.  Against all expectations, it seemed that the environment was shaping the genes of the subjects they observed.  That genes and environment interacted in completely unpredictable ways.

This discovery led Professor Valises to write a research proposal, which resulted in Inspector Sappakawa and his assistant, Suttee Mala, being sent to planet 3EX771 (Earth), to try to firm up a research proposal, which would be directed by the Professoré.

~~~

The two approaching spaceships have now disappeared from his view, and the professor can hear the great hisses of gas discharged by the docking process, fifteen stories above his head.  He is so excited it feels as if the seven-chamber pump in his chest will burst with glee.

~~~

…End of extract.

All of the material is copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne and the Institute for CENT.

No part of this material may be used in any way, recorded, stored or transmitted or communicated, without the explicit written permission of Dr Jim Byrne and the Institute for CENT.

~~~



[1] An Intergalactic Federation ‘trimastrul’ is roughly equal to 3.25 Earth months; so four trimastruls is equal to 13 months; and 13 months is the standard accounting period for research projects.

Copyright material.  Do not copy or transmit in any form.

Copyright (c) 2015 – The Institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne

~~~

Extract from Chapter 9 – by Daniel O’Beeve

Chapter 9

“This idea of innate goodness and badness is reminiscent of the Christian concept of ‘original sin’ (or the innate tendency towards evil) and ‘the state of grace’ (which, it was said, we could achieve, with the help of God).  However, the CENT theory does not rely upon God or the Devil, but rather on innate tendencies towards pro- and anti-social behaviours on the part of the normal human child.  Sigmund Freud had a similar distinction – the distinction between the Life urge (or Eros) and the Death urge (or Thanatos), which he believed were fundamental drivers of human behaviour.”

Dr Jim Byrne, CENT Paper No.25

~~~

1. Stories of leaving home (3)…

Daniel7.gif

Between Don Quixote motivations and Stephen Daedalus’s posturing, there is a vast range of reasons for leaving home, and, since mine does not reside at either extreme, it must be somewhere in the middle.  But what was it?

The image that comes to mind is one of an uncomfortable mole, half blind and half asleep, who feels increasing discomfort with his burrow.  And so he finds it in himself to shuffle away to a new spot where perhaps a more comfortable burrow might be found.  I do not think it was any clearer, or nobler, or more energetic than that; and certainly lacked any of the (declared) nobility of Stephen Daedalus’s motivation.  Nor was it as ridiculous or laughable or insane as Don Quixote’s.

But given that I was half-asleep at the time, perhaps I knew nothing of my true motives for weighing anchor, and taking to the Irish Sea on a cattle boat, in the warm summer of 1964.

~~~

2. Involved with Belinda

It was wonderful having a relationship with Belinda – though I did not think of it as ‘a relationship’ at that time.  I did not think of it as anything.  I only had feelings: emotions.  Like happiness; joy; ecstasy!  (Doubt and fear, and worse, would come later).

Every morning I left her bed, went back to my own place, next door, got cleaned up, had breakfast in the dining room, and went to work.

Every evening, after my main meal, I left my boarding house and went to see Belinda, and we spent the evening watching TV, smoking cigarettes, talking, having supper, going to bed, making love.  The making love bit was the briefest, but most enjoyable bit of the evening for me.

Then, after about six weeks, Belinda told me she had been transferred from day shift to evening shift at the hotel bar where she worked.  I was very upset.  She said I could have a key, and I could come around and watch TV until she got home, and then we could have supper and go to bed.

Now my evenings were very lonely.  I would sit in Belinda’s flat all evening and wonder what she was doing in work; who she was serving; and what she said to them.

Several evenings I got so jealous that I walked down the front and stood opposite her hotel.  I could see in through the windows of the bar, but I could not see very much of what was going on.  I was afraid to go in, just in case she was angry with me for checking up on her.  But my mood was black, and I was very unhappy.

~~~

“This is a very bad sign”, said Professor Valises.

“Because he’s so jealous?”, asked the kolonel.

“No”, said the professor. “Because he senses that the end is nigh.”

“How can you say that?” asked Dr Kala.  “How can you know the end is nigh?”

“Because Belinda works evenings to get away from Daniel”, answered the professor.  “She’s already bored with the relationship. That’s what my experience of watching humans tells me”.

“But surely Daniel would notice if she was bored; and do something about it,” says Dr Kala

“I don’t think we’re talking about the same ‘Daniel’ here”, smiles the professor.  “Daniel is passive and largely non-conscious.  He has no idea what is happening.  He is having insecure feelings because his situation IS insecure!  But he does not know how to process the feelings, or to track them back to any thoughts he might have about the relationship.”

“But what can be done?” asks the kolonel.

“There is nothing to do,” said the professor, “but to watch this tragedy unfold!”

~~~

3. My life begins to unravel…

One Saturday morning, the air compressor failed at the dental manufacturing company, and my team was sent home early, because you cannot test pneumatic drills in the absence of compressed air.

I took the bus back into Blackpool, intending to surprise Belinda.  But it was me who was surprised.  I got off the bus on the prom and walked back to Beaufort Avenue.  As I turned into the street, I saw an Australian friend of Tandy’s – called Karl – coming down the steps of Belinda’s building.  When he saw me he smiled awkwardly, looked away, and crossed the street.

I went up the steps and let myself in to the building; up the stairs and opened the flat door.  Belinda was lying on the sofa.  When she saw me she swung her feet onto the floor.

“What are you doing here so early?” she asked, looking flustered.

“I was sent home early”, I said.  “But what was Karl doing here?”

“Oh, he was looking for Tandy, and couldn’t remember his address.  So he called here, and we talked for a while.  Then he left to see if Tandy was in the Blue Light bar”.

I was sulking; feeling very bad, in my guts and my heart.  I was suspicious, and it spoiled the atmosphere between us.

~~~

“You see?” asked the professor.  “Daniel has no words to express his feelings.  He’s just like his father, Owen.  He feels bad, but he says nothing.  He thinks nothing.  He’s a feeling machine with no map of the territory in which he is stuck”.

“But he could learn to think; couldn’t he?” asks the kolonel.

“He could”, said the professor. “But probably not in time to save this relationship”.

~~~ 

“People who engage in physical and emotional abuse of others try to hide from the truth; but their victims need to unearth the truth and to confront it.  The victims have to find ways to assert their truth, against the reluctance and denial of their society.  It can take a long time for the truth to get out, but in the end it normally does.  It may be delayed for a generation or more, but in the end it will come out; indeed it has to come out to protect the children of the future from the passing on of historic damage!”

Paddy-Brennan-ji, The Roots of all Suffering…

A few days later, Belinda told me that a very rich man at the Royal Hotel, where she worked, had offered her a hundred pounds to go away with him for the weekend.  I was appalled.  I was speechless.

She felt the chill from me, and said: “I told him ‘no’, of course”.

And that was the end of that.

I feel sick in my stomach, increasingly so.

~~~

4. The winds of change…

One night, Belinda was late getting back from the Royal Hotel, and so I went to bed on my own.  This was about the third or fourth time she was particularly late coming home.  I was in emotional turmoil.

We had been together about eight weeks.  During the first four, we made love every night.  Then we had about two weeks of twice a week.  Then for the past ten days or more, she had been quite distant, preoccupied, and cool.

Anyway, I slept for a while, then I heard her come in.  She did not switch the light on.  She got undressed quickly, in the dark, and was scrambling across me, to get to her side of the bed, which was up against a wall, when I switched on the bedside lamp.  Looking up at her, I could see a big, dark patch on the left side of her neck.

I sat up, as she got herself between the sheets.

“What’s that mark on your neck?” I asked her.

“Oh, a customer leaned over the bar and bit my neck”, she told me.

I got out of bed and got dressed.  Meanwhile she turned her face to the wall, and looked as if she intended to sleep.  I collected my things from around the flat: a couple of shirts; a spare toothbrush and some shampoo.  Some underwear and socks.  A towel.  I wrapped everything in the towel and sat in the armchair by the window. 

As I sat there, a waterfall of feelings coursed through my body and mind, like an avalanche of razor blades, cutting to shreds every positive feeling I have ever had.

I think I dozed from time to time, but mostly I was awake that night, feeling very sick in my body and my mind.

Eventually the sun came up, and I stood up.  I felt as if I’d been kicked around a football pitch all night. 

I dropped her flat key on her coffee table, and left the flat very quietly.

~~~

“A child whose mother and father do not actively love them is likely to conclude that they should never have been born; that they are just a trial to others.  They notice how much they irritate their fathers and mothers; how much they disappoint or frustrate their teachers; how they are not liked by their peers.  The child who is not loved does not feel real, solid, genuine or worthwhile. Their lives are cold and dead, like an ice cube in the heart!”

Paddy-Brennan-ji, The Roots of all Suffering…

~~~

5. Thinking back…

Today, in 2015, as I read back through that section of my story, I am shocked by the lack of ‘soundtrack’.  It’s like watching a silent movie, in a theatre in which the piano player has gone for a coffee break, and all we see are black and white images, about which we have to wildly guess their meanings and implications.  The lack of description of the effect that the ‘love bite’ had upon my thoughts and feelings is a huge deficit.  This is clearly a result of my cultural deprivation; my lack of familiarity with literature; with the language of love and relationship.

In fact, it was not until I began to read Helen Macdonald’s biography – H is for Hawk - about how she coped with the death of her father, that I began to acquire a little of the language that is needed to put back the soundtrack of that part of my life.

When Helen’s mother phoned her to say her father had died, “a kind of madness drifted in”, for Helen.  And something like that happened for me.  A kind of madness seized my heart and my mind, and tugged me into a pit of despair – a pit in which I had long dwelled as an infant, and as a young child.  Like Helen, my madness wasn’t ‘mad madness’, it was a close cousin; a kind of madness designed to keep me sane.  To defer the processing of reality because to let it into my consciousness would rip my mind to shreds and leave me a babbling fool, kneeling in the gutter pleading for my mother to come and rescue me.

As Helen writes: “Time didn’t run forwards any more.  It was a solid thing you could press yourself against and feel it push back…”  This is equivalent to there being no time anymore.  Just this frozen moment of horror.  A frozen instant in which the oncoming train has hit my fragile body, but I have not been reduced to a splash of red and gore on the tracks – yet!

I was locked inside this timeless/spaceless madness of despair; of sudden, unmistakable, irredeemable grief at the hugest loss imaginable.  Only a piercing scream the size of Blackpool, aimed at God, which went on forever, could possibly express what I could (but would not) feel!

Of course there was an image, inside my mind, which the reader could not see.  A little flower that had sprung up in the barren desert of my heart had been cruelly crushed – extinguished – destroyed.  But in its death agony it scalded and seared every avenue that led to my five senses. I was bereft.  Naked before a storm of pain.  It was so intense my mind shut down – down into a kind of mild madness – a madness of dissociation.

~~~

The little blue bear fell to his knees in the middle of Belinda’s bedsitting room.  His mouth fell open.  His eyes were popped wide.  He could not believe what he was seeing.  He reached inside his chest and held his heart, to stop it jumping out of his body.  His hand was trembling.  He thought he had seen and felt all the worst pains that the world could throw at him, in the secret chambers of his mind.  But this was the worst!

 

~~~

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~~~

End of extract…

Copyright material.  Do not copy or transmit in any form.

Copyright (c) 2015 – The institute for CENT and Dr Jim Byrne

 

~~~

The next step…

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This is the end of the free extracts from ‘Obedience and Revolt’, by Daniel O'Beeve

There is a total of 30 chapters to be experienced and digested.

How will the curious boy escape?  What will become of the little white goat?  And the little blue bear?  And will Daniel ever get beyond re-living his dysfunctional childhood in his painful adult relationships?

Will Professor Valises’ research project come to a sticky end?

Buy the book to find out.

Coming soon!

Watch this space!

~~~