Friday, January 13, 2006

The Kingdoms of This World

Yesterday, I was making my daily stop at Day by Day for a laugh, when something in the sidebar caught my eye.
A ram's head.
It had appeared, was disappearing. I began to pay attention. A message soon emerged:
. . . as it changes you.
This, too, faded away, replaced by a book whose title I didn't immediately catch. Then a strange, half-man, half-elephant creature . . . bearing an ax. This also faded. Another message appeared:
The adventure begins in our world but begins to change . . .
Realizing that this was the beginning, I watched more carefully, rearranged the two messages:
The adventure begins in our world but begins to change . . . as it changes you.
Having time to kill, I watched the images and words emerge and fade, emerge and fade. I caught the book's title . . .
The Kingdoms of This World
. . . ran my cursor across its image, hesitated . . . and clicked. Darkness, the strains of a guitar, and a low, rough voice singing:
"My girl, my girl, don't lie to me, tell me where did you sleep last night. In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines, I would shiver all night through . . ."
From the year that I'd worked in a music library as an undergrad, I recognized these words to an old Leadbelly version of the traditional, southern Appalachian folk song "In the Pines":
My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun never shines
I would shiver all night through

Her husband was a hard-workin' man
Till a mile and a half from here
His head was found in a drivin' wheel
And his body never was found

My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun never shines
I would shiver all night through

My girl, my girl, where will you go
I'm goin' where the cold winds blow
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver all night through
Only the first stanza played its haunting sound while on the darkness appeared, successively, these words:
Tommy Woodbine thought he was homeless . . .

. . . but even if you don't know where your home is . . .

. . . everyone has a home

. . . everyone has a home.
Then appeared a page with a broken cattle skull. Below, the image of the book. I made out the author's name: Gabe Posey.

The word "Downloads" caught my eye. I clicked it and found the first chapter: "Before":
My name is Tommy Woodbine and I'm one of the many young drifters that wander this country in search of work, money and food.

I don't have a home . . .
Gypsy Scholar that I am, intellectual drifter, this immediately appealed to me, so I read the remainder of the chapter.


I won't say any more, but here's the author's approved summary from the back of the book:

Tommy Woodbine thought he was homeless. Even if you don't know where your home is, everyone has a home.

Drifting all his life from job to job and town to town, Tommy always assumed he knew exactly who and exactly what he was. In the sleepy little town of Drycreek, Texas, Tommy learns that all his preconceived notions of home, identity and reality are all gossamer thin.

Traveling from Drycreek, Texas to points unknown, Tommy finds a place more bestial and primal than any in the human world. Tommy seeks truth on a journey fraught with peril. His quest begins to change him, though, as he learns things about himself and about his role in a dark intrigue that spans two worlds.

I think that I'll order a copy.


At 6:54 AM, Blogger James Brush said...

Wow. I haven't seen the ad, but you've sold me on it. I'll have to follow the links.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I thought that this might appeal to you.

Speaking of which, I really ought to order your book as well.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I am pleasantly stunned. Never in a million years would I have guessed I could have reached someone so anonymously or so well.

Jeffery, I certainly hope the book lives up to your post if nothing else. Please let me know what you think about it once you've finished it.

At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, advertising works...

Gabe's the Man,guys.

And thanks for reading DBD, Horace!

I envy your field, by the way.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Gabe, I'll be happy to let you hear of my further views. Who knows, your book could inspire a longer blogpost.

Chris, what a surprise. Your name looked recognizable but not quite . . . recognized. Then, it hit me -- the Day by Day guy. Thanks for noticing me. I'm honored. And I do read your strip every day.

By the way, call me "Jeffery."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:41 AM, Blogger Macuquinas d' Oro said...

The book sounds interesting but may I ask about a question about Mr Leadbetter's little tune? I didn't know it was based an Appalachian traditional. Can you tell me anything more about the history of "in the Pines"?

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oudeis Oudamou, good to hear from you again.

On the song, check out these links:

Wikipedia "Where Did You Sleep Last Night":

Excerpts (on somebody's website) from the Library of Congress liner notes to one of Leadbelly's recordings (the one that I catalogued back in my undergrad days, I think):

Library of Congress: Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Very informative article from the New York Times:

New York Times: Where Did You Sleep Last Night

All these call the song "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," but "In the Pines" is a traditional title as well.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery, I wondered if you require your classes read 'The Agony & The Ecstasy'?

At 9:00 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Chris, no, I haven't had them read that. To my embarassment, I haven't read it myself, but that's not why I haven't had my students read it. Their English is perhaps not good enough for it. Also, I tend to teach survey courses to the undergrads here in Korea, so we read selections from texts.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:59 PM, Blogger Macuquinas d' Oro said...

Jeffery, thank you for the links. Lots of good information. I had no idea that Connie Francis covered the song. I'm trying to imagine a Connie and Huddie duet of "In the Pines."

At 4:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, I'd hate to have to read that in Korean to start out with...!

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oudeis Oudamou, you're welcome. It's a fascinating song.

Chris, my students might also feel the same way -- about the Korean translation! Unfortunately, this young generation of Koreans is more into computers than reading.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote THE MASK OF ANARCHY after the Peterloo Massacre in around 1817. I thought it worth aping his style when establishment anarchy reached its depths on 19 September 2005 in Basra. Article and poem enclosed.

Helen Pender
INDEPENDENT candidate UK General Election 2005 - Rutland and Melton

On 19th September, the news programmes reported a simple story – a story which was not repeated again on 20th September:

Two men in Arab dress had fired at Policemen in Basra, killing one Iraqi police officer. The men were immediately arrested and taken into custody by the police in Basra. Stripped of their Arab garb they were found to be British soldiers, possibly Special Forces. The Ministry of Defence in London asked the press to obscure the men’s faces when the story was reported – and terrestrial channels in the UK complied with this order. This carried the implication that the men were SAS operatives. The MoD immediately made no comment and at around 10pm it was reported that the MoD did not have an explanation for the actions of the captured soldiers. Later, on 20th September, a TV news reporter said that she had been on a plane carrying the freed SAS soldiers back to Basra from a de-briefing session with the military in Baghdad.

As if to compound the original offence, British forces surrounded the police station on the evening of 19th September, where the Special Forces soldiers, dressed as insurgents, were being held. Civilians surrounded the army vehicles outside the police station and, in outrage at the atrocity committed by the British Army, exercised their support for their civilian police force – fire bombing a British tank. We then saw soldiers emerging from the tank, one of them in flames, but none killed. The British army retreated, regrouped and smashed down a wall of the police station to rescue the soldiers who had been rightly arrested, so freeing up to 150 other prisoners also held by the civilian authority. A story emerged that the soldiers were in some way fighting to claim back the Iraqi police from Muqtada al Sadr’s influence. Yet the fact that the fire bombing was triggered by an assassination by SAS operatives was never repeated. We were merely shown acres of newsprint and pictures of British soldiers, on fire, emerging from a tank.

The retaliation by Iraqi civilians has since been widely covered by all the press as an unprovoked attack on British soldiers. Yet it would appear that an outright attack, on the civilian forces of law and order in Iraq, was perpetrated by an arm of the Security Services, posing as Arab insurgents. One can only applaud the right of the people to attack any force aiming to undermine the properly constituted civilian police force, to ensure that perpetrators of a murder of a police officer are brought to justice. Instead our media appear incapable of adequately seeking out the causes of the violence against British tanks in Basra. Our press concentrate on ordinary Iraqi citizens’ backlash against the wholly indefensible actions of anarchists within the British Army in Basra, making no mention of the provocative actions of SAS assassination squads posing as insurgents. In this our press are supported – it seems – from the very top of the MoD and Government establishment in the UK, and far more worryingly it is now patently obvious that our press has been brought so far to heel that it no longer has the will to report uncensored news. No right thinking person has any option but to criticise the actions of the security services in their deliberate undermining of law and order in Basra. Yet the fourth estate makes it plain, in subsequent media reports, that their role is no longer to seek out and print the truth, but rather to support outright anarchy, perpetrated by establishment institutions.

Unfortunately, as in the UK, the security services consider themselves above the law, immune from prosecution and one must now seriously question exactly who the so called ‘terrorists’ are. As we have long suspected attacks, supposedly carried out by terrorists, may indeed be perpetrated by our unaccountable Security Services. We are undoubtedly being deliberately led into believing that we have something to fear from ephemeral anarchists in our ‘war on terrorism.’ Whereas the anarchists are inside the tent, pissing with impunity on all of us from the most secret and lawless arm of our own security services. Receiving protection for their clandestine activities from the highest echelons of Government, and our press is incapable of discerning this simple fact.

The aim was then to ensure that a more plausible ‘terrorist’ atrocity was perceived to be carried out. We were duped into believing the attack on British troops was entirely unprovoked and inspired by lawless forces within the Iraqi Police who, so we are told, support Muqtada al Sadr. This story has been successfully buried, overtaken by events. Meanwhile the press concentrate on pictures of soldiers on fire, following a wholly illegal ‘rescue’ attempt, and ignore the original offence committed with impunity by our security services.

Sir John Stevens’ indictment of our Security Services in Northern Ireland should have galvanised us into making our security services more accountable and less maverick. By ‘rescuing’ these soldiers from police custody all that the British Army and MoD have done is to ensure that these murderous soldiers, and those who gave them their orders, will never face trial. The truth will never be told and one can only look forward to the spin which the MoD will continue to give the story. The poodle press we currently have – where press barons actively participate in spinning news stories in favour of the anarchists within Government, and journalists are indentured members of the security services – will ensure this story does not see the light of day for very much longer. Instead we are being fed some cock and bull story which allows the hidden agenda for curtailing public freedom, human rights and civil liberty to continue unabated, both here in the UK and it seems, without any shadow of doubt, in Basra.

Back bench MP’s, including those in the Liberal Party, asked to comment at their Party Conference, appear to have moved the agenda successfully from questioning the insupportable actions of two special services soldiers to a general question of troop withdrawal from Iraq. Hardly surprising, when one bears in mind David’ Shayler’s allegation that the security services keep files on members of Parliament and Ministers, that those who are elected to represent us are incapable of questioning our out of control security services. If the security services have the dirt on those elected to power then that power is naturally and inevitably usurped. We have virtual anarchy – anarchy within the British establishment and no one has the will or the power to bring it under control.

Until the British people realise that voting for any party is unlikely to bring a cessation to establishment anarchy we are all lost. Party lists now appear to ensure that the dirt gathered on candidates stems from the very selection process. Are military intelligence only allowing candidates with skeletons in their cupboards to stand for election, and preventing the squeaky clean from ever being elected? Do those on party selection committees have the co-operation of our intelligence services in their selection processes? How many MP‘s work, or have worked, for our security services – and do they realise that as representatives of the people they are disbarred from public office if they do so? Who has the will to ask these questions in the absence of a free press?

I know how out of control our security services are. When Ian Eliot (ex military and art teacher at HMP Whatton), and others, formed a plot to threaten my life there was nothing I could do. No police force to whom I could turn and no court of law which would consider my case. When threatened by Robert Bridges, a lecturer at the University of Halifax, two floors of a tower block on the outskirts of Birmingham devoted to training security services personnel, he admitted to having killed a British serviceman suspected of spying whilst serving in the MoD Police. He knew with absolute clarity that this admission would never mean he had to face trial or answer for this murder. He knew that the security services rule this country – it is to them that MP’s Ministers, Civil Servants, the media and every other part of the establishment is answerable – not to the citizens of this country. My crime? To have tripped over possible unethical psychological experimentation, which had the sanction of the security services, and to have rescued my then husband from the clutches of those conducting this experimentation. Our security services are quite capable of depriving one of work and a private life. It is time we realised that the excesses of our security services need to be urgently curtailed. We are indeed fighting a ‘war against terrorism’ but trying to find out whether the terrorists are Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or those who originally recruited these men - our security services, is the real battle.

If the truth is professionally smothered at every level of Government and all those responsible for overseeing proper Government too fearful to do so, then the only solution is to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to find out to what depths we as a nation, in the grip of organised anarchy, have sunk. The whole truth must be told, not one iota left out and only then can those who have perpetrated these actions escape punishment.

One recalls the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in London, killed by a bullet not from the Libyan Embassy but from the trajectory of Special Forces ensconced in a nearby building. However if one repeats a lie often enough it gains credibility and although it was undoubtedly proven that she was killed from a building occupied by the security services the press have swallowed the repetition and fed us the lie that she was killed by a Libyan (see Tony Benn’s diary – FREE AT LAST). (1,646 words)

A modern Mask of Anarchy
Basra – 19th September 2005

Two men dressed like mujahadeen
In Arab garb from head to toe
Shot Iraqi policemen at the scene
The Killers? SAS men don’t you know

The poodle press was out in force
Peddling the army’s story of course
An heroic rescue attempt had failed
To save assassins the police had nailed

The Daily Mail red in tooth and nail
Followed by both BBC and ITV
Began peddling a fictional tale
Of Soldiers fighting for Iraq to be free

Iraqi people judging democracy
Under attack moved to fight for liberty
Civilians all they surrounded the tanks
Home made missiles in their ranks

They rose like lions out of slumber
They rose in innumerable number
With sticks and stones and molotoffs
They indicated they’d had enough

Murderers in the SAS
Should face trial they did protest
Yet no journalist could profess
The truth of British soldiers going west

No one listens any more
The truth a casualty of war
Whatever happened to the rule of law,
As soldiers tore down that prison door?

An operation by special forces gone wrong
Yet the media’s hymn sheets were the army’s song
Blaming insurgents for assassination attempts
While journalists covered the backs of our gents

Military intelligence
Oxymoronic insurgents
Within our tent ring fence
‘Freedom.’ Do they think we’re dense?

Western Police States are becoming the norm
And before you all laugh with scorn
Consider what freedoms have been torn
from you to render us all into pawns

So celebrate those Iraqi insurgents
As they fought for the rule of law and order
A battle now lost whilst our army pre-empts
The truth ever reaching our border.

They rose like lions out of slumber
They rose in innumerable number
With sticks and stones and molotoffs
They indicated they’d had enough

As nonchalantly we sup our tea
While NGO’s like Amnesty
and Liberty do all agree
To blindly watch while freedom’s tree

Is raped and not one MP
Speaks out of the impropriety
Perpetrated by soldiers of the ‘free’.
Iraqi citizens know our hypocrisy

At 4:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, why have you posted this long non-comment here? Your post has nothing to do with Gabe Posey's book.

If you wish to comment, do so at an appropriate blog entry, and don't quote an entire article. Leave a link. It's easy to do:

Opinion Editorials, October 2005, Al-Jazeerah.

If you don't know how to do this, then send me an email, and I'll explain.

Jeffery Hodges

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