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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3084 - 3077

 3084. Also, after the chair has disappeared, you will need to look around in the house where the chair was and see if you can find a huge piece of sheet-metal, because shaking a big piece of sheet-metal will produce the same thundering sound. If you find sheet-metal, you should suspect that the chair disappearance was a sham, and was probably just a magic trick.

 3085. If the chair was a part of an expensive set, you can assume whomever made it disappear, knows where it is and intends to sell it behind your back.

 3086. But the Jailer proposed the raising of the dead, as opposed to making chairs cease to exist, and the suggestion found its way to the highest church authorities. At first the idea was dismissed out of hand as being another expression of the superstitious beliefs emanating from the nuisance Cantaloupe man, but to be on the safe side it was mentioned in a weekly report to the Pope.

3087. In the Pope’s reply, there was no mention of Faldoni in the text, however, in a footnote at the bottom of the letter His Holiness mentioned that the painter’s sentence had to be strictly carried out, but perhaps it might be advisable to put it off for a while.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3080 - 3083

 3080. I should think that being able to make a chair completely disappear would be a more impressive demonstration of spiritual power. When you raise the dead there is bound to be some scoffer in the crowd that witnessed the miracle that is going to start murmuring that the person was not really dead all along but was just pretending, or even in a conspiracy to fool the audience. But chair disappearance is hard to get around, and can be subjected to scientific proof.

 3081. If you make a chair disappear it creates a shattering and deafening roaring sound like thunder and lightening, and for the same reason. When lightening strikes, the area of the air the electricity passes through becomes void of all substance and is therefore a complete vacuum. This is a scientific fact, perhaps you did not know.

 3082. After the lightening has dissipated, the air rushes back into the space with all its might, and the air crashing against itself as it suddenly fills up the void is the thing that creates the sound of thunder. When a chair is made to disappear by religious and mystical methods the same effect can be expected. Where the chair once was, there is now a vacuum. The air, rushing into the chair’s old space will therefore create a noise like thunder.

 3083. About this noise there are two considerations: if the chair disappears very slowly by fading and becoming a ghost first, gradually becomes fainter and fainter, there is likely to be no noise, as the air will enter the space slowly and the sound is either muffled or there is no sound at all.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3076 - 3079

 3076. You know yourself that the old man never said anything of the sort, and no matter how you wanted to stretch or distort his words, you could never arrive at anything like such a prognostication.

 3077. But although the Jailer could not read or write, somehow or other, don’t ask me how, Caesar’s words in Latin had made their way into his mind. Caesar said, “Men believe anything they want to believe.” And the Jailer extrapolated that idea to the entire world of the spoken and written word. Then and now, things mean what we think they mean, or what anyone wants them to mean. 

 3078. “But,” you say, “that is a very cynical attitude, and implies that truth does not even exist.” No, truth exists, but it is not composed of words. Truth is not composed of images either. Truth, blind deaf and dumb; is understood only in retrospect.

3079. As the Jailer expected, the statement that Faldoni was destined to raise the dead with his paintings had the desired effect. For some reason, raising the dead is important to religious people, I don’t know why that should be.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3072 - 3075

 3072. The Jailer said to the Cantaloupe man. “Have you heard about our gardener friend Faldoni, and that the day after Easter he will no longer be a member or our community?” The old man replied, “When hunting rabbits,  take your bits, bate them with rats, hold fast to the mast of the redolent past, for the facts that will last can be found in the bowl of an empty glass.” 

 3073. “Yes, I see exactly what you mean brother, but tell me, do you think there is any hope for preserving the life of out painter friend, he really is very innocent you know.” The old monk replied, “When the sun descends to the mountains, look for a cleft in the fountain. When the moon in its infinite glory, turns red it’s the end of the story.”

 3074. The Jailer thought about what these sentences could mean. Obviously they had to do with Faldoni, but he could make nothing out of them. The business of the past, and the empty glass could have indicated that nothing could be done for Faldoni. The words about the end of the story also did not lend itself to anything optimistic.

3075. Finally the Jailer made up his mind about his explanation of the Cantaloupe man’s words, and at dinner that night, apropos of nothing he said, “The Cantaloupe man says that Faldoni is destined to do paintings that will raise the dead. That is what he said; what do you suppose he means by it?”

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3068 - 3071

 3068. Now that you have your interpretation you have to adjust it with these calibrations. If the sky is overcast add plus 2. If you are worried about unpaid bills add plus 3. If you are over sixty years old add plus 4.  On the other hand, if the sun is shining, there is no wind, and it is over sixty-five degrees in April then subtract 5. If the check engine light in your car is not on then subtract 7. 

 3069. Yes, these and similar adjustments that you can figure out for yourself are necessary to counterbalance the tendency to find a good prognosis if you are on a good mood, and a bad prognosis if you are distressed and uneasy in your mind. 

 3070. You may think that I am trying to undermine the idea of telling the future by the study of signs, but that is not true. I am only attempting to insert a little rationality into the process. Just because our prognostications are likely to be more optimistic on a cloudless day, than at the beginning of a thunderstorm, does not mean that they are only a reflection of a fleeting mood. Signs will accurately predict the future, if only we are sufficiently objective in their utilization.

 3071. But to return to our narrative, our Jailer could not utilize the business of pointing to a line in a book as a method because he could not read. But, more importantly, he decided to manufacture his predictions instead of look for them.  With this in mind he went to pay a visit to the old Cantaloupe man. He had some questions to ask him, and in the answers he hoped to find the salvation of the painter Faldoni.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3064 - 3067

 3064. One of the simplest ways to predict the future is to have a favorite book, especially a big fat one full of obscure phrases like the Bible, something by Proust, or then again Joyce’s Ulysses . One simply opens the book at random and with the eyes closed you place your finger on a line. Then you open your eyes, read the line and decipher the content with a mind to predicting the future.  

 3065. Before you do this however, you have to keep in mind the necessity of employing certain adjustments and calibrations. The interpretation may be a positive and hopeful one, or, on the contrary, it may predict doom and destruction in the near future. But do not be distressed if your prediction is terribly negative until you adjust it using these considerations. 

 3066. Place your interpretation on a scale from minus 10, to plus 10. Minus ten will be a prediction of terrible drawn out suffering followed by death in the midst of being abandoned by your friends, after being falsely accused and convicted of insidious and unsavory crimes you did not commit.

 3067. Plus ten will signify something on the order of an unexpected inheritance. That nagging pain in your back has completely disappeared. Three different film makers want to buy the rights to the unfinished play you wrote thirty years ago when you were in high school. Somebody found a mimeographed copy in an old yearbook purchased in a used book store and, unbeknownst to you, it has become the talk of Hollywood.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3060 - 3063

 3060. He could see a connection between the word game he had made up in his teaching and the interpretations of the Cantaloupe man’s pronouncements. He observed that whatever the man said could be subjected to an infinite number of explanations. Since the words had no actual meaning, any meaning was possible. In the end, the explanations arrived at almost always were just an expression of some listener’s hopes, fears, or desires. 

 3061. So the Jailer came up with this hypothesis: instead of listening to the sayings of the Cantaloupe man and trying to decipher an explanation, why not make up an explanation, and apply the explanation to something the old man was saying. It was the reverse of the usual procedure. Invent a meaning, and then look for a sign in his words, to signify and justify it.

 3062. One can see automatically how sensible and efficient this procedure would be, and I am sure it has been in use in the past even if its use was never noticed. How does the superstitious person find out what is going to happen in the future? He looks for signs occurring in the world that are sending him a message. 

3063. What devices are used to predict the future? The flight of birds, the pattern of clouds, or the shapes and forms of the parts of sacrificed animals are some of the methods of long standing. One can predict the future, if one is so minded, by taking note of dreams and accepting the content of dreams in a literal way. If no literal meaning is obvious to the dreamer one can always superimpose an interpretation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3056 - 3059

 3056. Socrates says of him, “How charming the man is: since I have been in prison he has always been coming to see me, and at times he would talk to me, and was as good as could be to me, and now see how generously he sorrows for me.”

 3057. Now that is truly a great jailer, and worthy to be remembered for all time, even though he has no name. But Faldoni’s Jailer was yet even more important to Faldoni that his historic predecessor was to Socrates. The Jailer’s mind was at work on the solution to his prisoner’s problems, and all of the wasted time spent teaching reading and writing to Faldoni had a purpose although he did not have the slightest idea what the purpose was.

 3058. Like all important events in history, it was happening as if of itself, and of its own volition.

3059. The project of teaching his prisoner to read and write was the thing that was agitating the Jailer’s mind. He had started the instruction as a jest, intending to entertain himself at Faldoni’s expense, but the result of this project was that the Jailer began to think seriously about the question of what words and phrases can mean, when one begins to entertain the idea that definitions are endlessly variable.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3052 - 3055

 3052. The larger problem was the feeling that he had to accomplish some great task before Easter, but the very notion made it impossible to do anything. Meanwhile, even if he had been able to come up with a grand plan, all of his time seemed to be consumed by the strange Jailer, who kept on using up all of his precious hours. Faldoni was a polite person, and would never have asked the Jailer to leave him is peace so he could work. He was not that kind of a person. 

 3053. I hope you are not becoming too annoyed with this Jailer. I think it was wrong of him to waste Faldoni’s precious time pretending to teach him to read and write, but perhaps he had his reasons. Now that the prisoner wanted to paint, the Jailer began to insist that he learn how to add and subtract. Once that was done, they would go on to multiplication and division.

 3054. The Jailer said to Faldoni, “Most likely in the next world you will not need to be able to read and write, but it seems to me that being unable to add and subtract would he a hindrance even if one ends up in Hell itself.”  Faldoni did not reply to this observation. 

3055. I suppose that if you are interested in historic and famous jailers the greatest one who comes to mind is the nameless jailer who administers the poison to Socrates. He only appears for a short moment in the story in order to give Socrates his cup of hemlock to drink. His friends suggest a libation to the Gods, but the jailer says it is not possible because only enough has been prepared to accomplish the task. Then the jailer bursts into tears as he leaves.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3048 - 3051

 3048. Being unable to write a letter resulted in Faldoni losing interest in learning to write and so he inevitably turned his attention to what he should have been dong all along; painting pictures. He had only the walls of his cell to use as his canvas, and he decided to use his one remaining wall that was still blank, to paint one large work.

 3049. This last painting was not going to be a series of little portrait heads as he had been working on all along. His new work was going to be one big image covering the entire remaining wall. He wanted to paint a picture that would sum up all of his feelings and ideas about life.

 3050. He wanted do a work which would make anyone who would see it later feel how tragic his situation was, how wrong his fate, how great his paintings might have been if only he could live a few more years. In short, there was nothing you could name that Faldoni did not want to put into his painting. When it was finished the viewer was going to see truth and falsehood, joy and sorrow, love and hate, and everything else of importance you can name.

3051. And so, like the problem of writing his letter, the painting not only did not get painted, he was unable to even begin on the preliminary drawing. It was as if you attached a boulder by ropes to a little dog, and tried to get him to pull the boulder up a long hill. The little dog my try for all its worth to move the boulder, but the boulder will not move, it will not even quiver. The task is too great by far.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3044 - 3047

 3044. The Jailer said all that just because he had been leading Faldoni along and pretending to teach him to read, when actually he was just playing a game to kill the time. Faldoni did not figure out the truth, but seeing how hard the task was, and how unlikely it would be to write his letter to the judges he hit upon a simple solution.

 3045. He wanted to simply dictate the letter, and his teacher, if he would be so kind, could  write it all down for him on a piece of parchment, and then he would send it off to the court.

3046. The Jailer offered to do as he was requested, but stressed that the letter needed to be as short as possible, because those judges with so many cases to try, were always very busy. What he was hoping was that he could commit the letter to memory, and then repeat it so that the condemned man would never realize that the paper was just a series of unrelated letters making up nonexistent words.

3047. But the Jailer did not have to pretend to write the letter for Faldoni. An entire day and a night went by, and during that time the prisoner started the letter in his mind a hundred times, and no matter how hard he tried he could not complete the first sentence. It is not hard to understand his problem; he felt he had to accomplish something with his letter. But what was there to accomplish? He could see very clearly that nothing he might say would alter his fate.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3040 - 3043

 3040. This was truly a fortuitous phrase for the instruction of reading and writing to break down on, because it summed up the very thing the Jailer and Faldoni were doing. The Jailer had no use for any supposed actual meaning of any of the words in the text, he was simply enjoying himself with a word game to pass the time while they waited for Easter to come.

 3041. But Faldoni grew troubled by the multiplicity of meanings the words seemed to have, and began to complain about the difficulty of remembering so many different definitions. The Jailer only made things worse by offering this explanation. 

 3042. “You have to understand that words change their meanings all the time, and hardly ever stay the same from one minute till the next. If it is a beautiful day, and I say it’s a beautiful day, then those words mean what you think they always mean. But if I say it is a beautiful day and it is storming out, then the same words mean the opposite of what they normally mean.”

3043. And then you have to consider that many words have more than one meaning to begin with. Also people are always making up new words, and giving new definitions to old words. Then too, as time goes by, all words change very slowly, so this job of learning to read and write can take a person a lot longer than thirty or forty days.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Faldoni, parts 3036 - 3039

 3036. If he was playing the guitar in that way, just try to picture to yourself the terrible anguish the sound coming from his room would have had on monks and other personnel of the monastery. It would have simply torn one’s heart to pieces. But no, Faldoni was not playing the guitar in the middle of the night as he should have been. 

 3037. For a while the instruction in reading and writing went along without any problems because whatever the Jailer made up as his explanations for the words in the Latin text, he was able to remember and repeat. But after a while, when they were about half way through the second page, remembering all of his invented phrases became a difficulty.

 3038. Off and on the Jailer began to make mistakes and transpose one phrase for another. Faldoni did not notice this, and each time he found out his answers were wrong he just frowned and concentrated all the harder on the task. But by the time the two of them got to the third page of the text the problems and discrepancies in the instruction became so frequent that Faldoni finally noticed. 

3039. The Jailer’s mistakes came to light over this phrase; “Libenter homines id quod vuod volunt credunt.” The jailer told Faldoni that those words said, “This pork is burnt.” Later he said that they meant, “It looks like rain today.” The words actually mean: “Men freely believe in whatever they want.”