THE NATURE OF THE CORRESPONDENCE

by A.Y. Tanaka
     Specimen K.3/8:  

     Nothing pauses but [-- Unclear; scholars on probation had  
     spilled coffee mixed with opaque creaming and sweetening  
     agents all over this page of the typescript].  Conferring with  
     travelers and thinkers, I am awed by my ignorance yet not  
     dismayed.  

     [. . .]  

     Moons dance like youth around our shadowed [name]; islands,  
     seas and skies of star-burdened grace, among them my  
     diminutive [unclear].  

     [. . .]  

     Before I sensed my birth, Distraction rose, the World One  
     weakened and released the Ones called free.  In [quantity]  
     jurisdictions, a citizen who sits is [unclear] to all who once  
     admired him.  Occasion calls citizens by lot to fill chairs of  
     [roughly] jailor, judge and censor.  When none sit (having  
     fled), occasion chooses war, to fill the chair with the  
     enemy's cream.   

     [. . .]  

     You and I, to [unclear], kiss the stars goodnight.  [A message  
     clearly not meant for us.  The correspondent neglected to  
     switch from public to private mode.  Or his mischievous kid  
     sister flicked the switch as he transmitted, or created these  
     messages herself.  There's no way to infer from inflection or  
     suggestion if the sender or intended receiver is of a gender  
     known or unknown to us.  "Families" could mean anything and  
     "Elders" needn't mean a pair.  "He/his/him" in this  
     translation was suggested by Frau Professorella Petra  
     Makhperet Sibi of the Institute's Stylistics Department.]   

     (*Professorella* indicates merely a sideship; *professorina*,  
     an associateship; *professora*, a fullship. -- Committee's  
     Note)   

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.3/22:  

     Distraction rises within the World One as Fifth and Sixth  
     Orders submit contrary memoranda on the merited color   
     [A tentative translation, though context supports it] of  
     vestments, grex-holds and adherents' [unclear].  [See the  
     catalog of color codes in natural selection and ethics in  
     Appendix XXXII.]  

     Fifth insist theirs was [Chaos? God?]'s color before Now, the  
     color beyond color, free of taint; in truth, free of "color."   
     Sixth seeks Fifth's fullness and fails, drawing adherents  
     astray.  

     Sixth respond theirs is the color of life, of the mass from  
     which rise [Chaos? God?]'s sober stones, Color's Elder, while  
     Fifth's is [roughly] soul without recourse.  

     After haggling [time unit]s they submit the question to the  
     Eldest of who decide but do not force.  After deep thought he  
     responds with tradition's brevity:  [The correspondent leaves  
     a blank space].  The Students' explication:  *Of morn, of  
     day*.  The meaning, in the old sense, clear.  Fifth and Sixth  
     now seek to morn each day earlier than the other, find no  
     morning's peak so narrow as to hold but one.  The Orders rise  
     earlier-still-earlier until "morning" stumbles back through  
     night and yesterday.  The same weary moment, both learn  
     nothing worthy comes of it.  

     They seek a further explication and receive:  *Of rise, of  
     choice*, granting sense and teeth to the Eldest's decision and  
     the Orders understand:  *The other must not rise*.  Thus,  
     Distraction.  

     [Time unit]s after I sense my birth, Fifth burns our  
     diminutive town, which believes itself neutral, for asylum  
     granted a fleeing Sixth [bishop?].  Reimbursement in  
     deemed-comparable wealth is the sack of a Fifth grex-hold and  
     the ending of its aged [deacon?] and [greater than three]  
     descendants.  

     The world obliges us to vanish into the Forest, our diminutive  
     Elder's common sense our guide.  Records tell I refuse to cry  
     when angry ears come near, a strange ability that still  
     serves.  

     At Distraction's end the strong-in-faith are less; determiners  
     (of whom my diminutive Elder speaks without forgiveness)  
     vanish.  Reasons nurtured by the One lose force and new Ones  
     are born, and new Reasons.  Some among the wise [At times he  
     drops "among" for "of," the subtlety beyond me] after deep  
     thought, concede it ill becomes a clarified citizenry to  
     retain the unjust [aesthetic?] standards for vengeance upon  
     [unclear] by [unclear], so seek more rational standards.  My  
     diminutive Elder despairs.  

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:   

     In the World One's Distraction, Order vs. Order echoes the  
     discord between our fabled creatures Dr. Crow and Sgt. Fox, as  
     in Encounter 38's conclusion:   

     " -- I'll get you for that, sergeant."  

     "If you find me," says Fox. "For I blend with the soil and the  
     fallen leaves.  You, Doc, blend with nothing -- not the trees,  
     not the clouds, not the grass."  

     "I'll come at night," says Dr. Crow.]   

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.7/38:  

     Come [unclear]'s-croak, we tumble from the lodge as our  
     shadows grow in the moons-light.  The one to cast the darkest  
     for his age receives the best of it come morning.  Expectance  
     makes our sleep fight back, rewards all wrapped in weariness,  
     no help.  Dream-eaters who save us from madness go hungry  
     those nights.  Angry, they pound all day on our brow.  

     Our songs contend in the bath.  My youthful voice lacks  
     substance, so I die in the echoes, but find counsel in the  
     [musical instrument? evidence elsewhere] and many call.  I am  
     well-[unclear, perhaps unnecessary]; if I honor my vanity,  
     occasion will honor my career.  

     Silence, as all pleasure, is overdone, so occasion names a  
     talker to remain awake and mutter to the stars, the moons, the  
     trees, to any whom chance denies sleep.  I enjoy my turn (one  
     need not talk unended) and fruitful decisions come in the  
     quiet hours between the words.  

     At [time unit]s, Elders again tell the stories of How.  Each  
     Elder remembers new reasons and procedures, forgets others,  
     retains grace in telling-again.  We do not wake to the  
     changings until we have heard the story [times greater than  
     three].  By then we are untroubled.  

     [. . .]   

     Few dangers in the Forest not foreseen, not prevented.   A  
     long knife into the ground before each dwelling's entrance  
     says Preparedness, to discourage what few spirits wander near.  
     Most spirits are harmless because their names are public  
     knowledge.  

     Knife-thrust has no ceremony, no formulae, no choral harmony,  
     has only the Elders' sporadic mumblings, sporadic shouts:   
     "Witness, we do not bless or curse."  This to ease the  
     spirits' lot, deny the knife-thrust challenges all or any.   
     Little disturbs a spirit more than "Do your [best? worst?], we  
     are prepared for you."  

     [The correspondent's II(a) archaic affix forces me to choose  
     *formulae* over *formulas*.  In a later message, now lost, the  
     IX(a) colloquial infix calls for *algas* rather than *algae*.]   

     [. . .]  

     Older, some serve our neighbors as whistlers to find lost  
     animals, to help through a birthing, to whistle up wind or  
     rain.  Our neighbors do not learn we have no wise talent,  
     merely knowledge of skies, their unstable natures, how  
     influenced to wind or rain by restless air.  Sense roams far  
     when air is fitting, to give stray beasts a bearing; and  
     sudden change in air's burden will ease the weight of  
     challenge, as in birth.  

     These talents fail with those long under challenge.  [Name]  
     are truculent to every cloud, not touched or witnessed until  
     the ritual is met, proud of the soul-pouch that carries their  
     excess, as sacred as their family name, as worthy of dying  
     for.  They snort on all who scatter excess in the garden.  

     Neighbors think our whistlings lure the bird whose wings make  
     winds to drive the rain.  Our diminutive Elders frown on  
     drawing profit from their guess, though occasion makes it  
     unavoidable.  If neighbors believe us valuable, we are safe.  

     Neighbors may labor at images of [mouths? cheeks? lips?],  
     to place outside their dwellings as spirit surrogates for us,  
     to shirk the need of paying whistler's wages.  Resident  
     spirits already are among them, chore about the farm and bear  
     the blame for crooked things, so it keeps to their tradition.   
     They encourage "us" (those unbreathing surrogates) with food  
     or song or warmth of skins from honored beasts, and offer to  
     beat or burn or drown "us" if we fail to make the skies  
     cooperate.  If "we" fail, they fulfill their threat, and labor  
     to fashion new images.   

     The bird is no fool.  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.7/26:  

     Occasion drives deep thought to barren cliffs.   [Unclear]  
     require[s] me in the town while I am still a child of the  
     Forest [emphatic affix l2a, hence capitalized].  

     Where the Forest grants pause, we huddle after flights through  
     mangled swamps, after flights across bothersome sands, dunes  
     high as the [unclear]'s snout, few soft stones to soothe the  
     herders' hands.  No tree, no creature shrinks from us here, no  
     spirits sign their disapproval, or we flee forever homeless.   
     We honor and study altars dark and light, walk with our  
     diminutive Elders, strain not to laugh at our neighbors.  It  
     disturbs the peace we share.  In their eyes we would end.  

     [. . .]  

     [Name] suspect the moons are gods; others laugh: the moons are  
     but gods' homes.  The Elders of our kind were exiles from a  
     moon where everyone had friends and food.  Our Elders  
     misunderstood, shared reflections, created -- what?  The  
     chronicle is vague.  No cure but exile somewhere less secure.   
     Legend-learners tell:  Our Elders leaving home turned back for  
     one last call.  Some heard, "You will see us."  Some, "You  
     will suffer."  Some, "Our young will never venerate you."   

     [Unclear] learn none are born here.  We are deluded, wayward  
     children of the moons, lowered here in lieu of worse, for  
     daring -- The clouds deny us memory of our crime; our doom, to  
     dream a briar's mist of evils.  

     [. . .]  

     [Name] ponder the Now, whether fruit of a tree beyond, or of a  
     tree within.  Who ask further, perish.  

     Some hold deeds of selflessness will bring home [name] from  
     his last raid, bearing comparable wealth for all.  Among these  
     deeds, casting off homes, robes, fields, beasts and Elders'  
     plants, and building grex-holds with ever-wider doors for  
     throngs that never come.  We hear their chants, their  
     polyphonic [?] cries, "Come home, [name]" and sporadic shouts,  
     "Bring [unclear]" or yet more shamelessly, "Bring [unclear]."   

     They are not who resemble them, who leave their goods in  
     place -- not portioned out, as among [name]; nor set aflame  
     that none might profit, as among [name] -- and retreat to the  
     Height, to join or trade places with their unborn descendants,  
     whom they believe already in position and as prepared.  

     [. . .]  

     [Name] live by practice; some deny, some ignore the spirits.   
     Most attend the Dispensary, as habit or the need draws them,  
     linger in dawn's softness as the day's word is portioned out,  
     dread to be left as the store is depleted.  In turn they  
     approach and offer [unclear], for as the [unclear], so the  
     word.   

     [. . .]  

     [Name] say whom we see as dead have souls.  The mischievous  
     rock snatches our tools and clings to them, the angry rock  
     spits flame as we strike it, the wild rock scratches as we  
     hide in its caverns, the clumsy rock stumbles onto us as we  
     wander among the hills.  "Some coward's rock," an Elder told  
     the tale, "fled as I kicked it."  

     [Name] exile graceless newborns to place-rocks near the  
     crossroads.  Dark nights, one hears the newborn's cries, sees  
     no shadows in retreat . . . The rocks have given birth.  

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     Idlers suspect the correspondent's need to reach us, in what  
     must seem darkness, is akin to our sporadic need to touch the  
     dead.  We're his dead.  

     Where do ours go?  Cartoonists clinically dead, then revived,  
     draw what they saw:  Creatures looking more or less like us  
     watching us from the clouds, cheering, groaning.  Does the  
     cloud realm watching us, waiting for us, get overcrowded?   
     They die again, go further up?  Those left behind stop  
     watching us, start missing them?]  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.18/4:   

     We know the remaining Witness Tree, known for having witnessed  
     -- if not, then others of its kind -- deeds legend-learners  
     pause to gather from their Elders.  The Most Known of who came  
     before us found shelter under its boughs.  Leaders of the  
     Unforgiving, in turn unforgiven, leaped from its high  
     branches.  The Tree witnessed.  

     Legend-learners tell the Unforgiving came against the Most  
     Known.  The singer of the Unforgiving sang, and night came.   
     The singer of the Most Known sang, and night fled.  The singer  
     of the Unforgiving sang, and night came again as if not  
     angered.  The singer of the Most Known sang, and night once  
     more fled.   

     Having failed to conquer, the Unforgiving were the  
     first to know shame.  We say -- we know no better -- there was  
     no need for shame.  (What do we know of this?)  But the  
     Unforgiving knew.  The Tree witnessed.  

     At season, we receive the Tree's unneeded twigs to fashion  
     [whistles? Conforms to the musical aspect].  [Greater than  
     three] textures give use and pride, and being the Tree's wood,  
     sing beyond a full season's turn.  Because of the past, our  
     Tree discourages its wood for tools or weapons, except with  
     which to fend off the dream-eaters.  

     [. . .]  

     As we learn from time and journey, the gestures vary. Some say  
     they lie.  We may attend but not discuss:  Each hears a  
     difference, and it dims the moon of each to learn [unclear]  
     one is from the other.  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.8/2:   

     The [name] exhibit fervent upswellings, hidden Ones' revised  
     risings:  The One born of the prophet [name] among ill  
     mountain youth of [location-focus]; the graceless gentle  
     upswellings of [name], that seek betterment from [time-focus]  
     until the [unclear]; the unwelcome Ones of [name], [unclear]  
     prophet, absorbing the region in [time-focus].   

     [Greater than three] upswellings challenge the Determinacies.   
     The [name], born of children of the citizenry in [time-focus];  
     Honor's Walk, of lost [unclear] who built [name], now  
     destroyed in the Wave of Light; new Ones derived from [name]  
     the [unclear], lost in the [unclear] of [name].  New Ones of  
     degrees of compromise and avoidance increased ever further.  

     [. . .]  

     The Home One does not exceed the World One in reflection and  
     rite yet boasts distinction from foreign Ones, grants thoughts  
     suited to our town, our field, our home.  Some find service in  
     this One while some find threat, for the Home seems but a  
     shortened World, and all fear that One's return.  Thus is born  
     the Clear One, child of sober rebels (in truth, agents) from  
     the Home One, to embrace all who forbear the vague, whether  
     alien or home.  

     My diminutive heart can bear their healers by voice and touch  
     who demand prior tribute as an earnest, and the thunderous  
     sessions where grace-snippets are distributed to tempt, and  
     beast-soothing by breath of grace (that is, by potions), for  
     citizens have need and must be gently fooled.  

     To taste the Clear One's disapproval are [unclear], who know  
     excessively and offer counsel where none seek it, soil the  
     mind of citizen and trainee alike, not civil, not Clear.  None  
     forbid [unclear] to seek revision, but as they taste  
     Clearness, attempt to, pretend to, they cling to the knowledge  
     of a lifetime and of lifetimes before, and remain a danger.  

     [. . .]  

     To taste the Clear One's disapproval are [name], an [unclear]  
     breed who travel lands between our diminutive fields and  
     [name]'s.  They wander astride [unclear] and reflect from time  
     to time in rings of [unclear]-skin huts.  

     An Elder of theirs reflected with us.  Beneath our trees (a  
     marvel to him) he sought to ease a skim of what bewildered:   
     "We eat free of tools, free of altars, or the world would  
     hear, and have us glaze and carry them forever as we journeyed  
     never-rested under moons-light, flock-to-flock.  Burden us  
     with brighter tools for silent meals, for public meals, for  
     feeding spirits who have no need.  Hold us to tight hours in  
     tight streams, to eat but what the tools can grasp, the altar  
     bear.  The world would squeeze us to its pleasure."  

     [N]ature and [F]ortune [the affix unclear] limit [name] to one  
     treasure:  From the living beast occasion grants the milk;  
     from the dead, the meat.  Occasion grants the skill to   
     fashion helmets of [skulls?], drinking skins of [udders?  
     genitalia?], tools and weapons of claws and teeth, robes and  
     huts of hide.  Observe as one gently slides the hide off the  
     dead beast's limb, how one extends oneself through the tube  
     and lingers in a rare stream until the new boot shrinks to  
     size.  

     [Name], too, know excessively.  

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     The correspondent's apparent terms for Wise One, Thinker,  
     Adept-in-Untouched-Things, are closer to Bard/Poet/Teller than  
     Keeper-of-Records or Writer or even Correspondent.  Blind  
     poets must sing in their marketplaces; if worthy, in the  
     taverns of keen-eyed heroes, the sort who'd rampage into and  
     saunter out of strange but prosperous lands.  The lonely few  
     who read and write are more feared for our magic markings than  
     honored for any wisdom.  Perhaps the correspondent is one of  
     those blind poets, and his words travel through (space?) on  
     their own.]   

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.48/2:   

     At your request [?] our report on the ancillaries and  
     harvesters is [unclear; perhaps we have an alternate  
     correspondent, or a message not intended for us.]  Much effort  
     led to much fatigue yet aspiration illumined vexity.  Forms  
     change, perceptions vary, uniqueness rages through the  
     variegation of sequence and station.  

     [. . .]  

     [Item? name?] feign intelligence, in [name]'s sense of to be  
     in [number] places at once, for at [time unit]s they appear to  
     plan ahead, "ahead" as far as the next [unclear].  Yet they  
     lacked occasion for this before they saw us.  How was it so  
     readily aroused?  Does occasion grant a stimulus we are blind  
     to?  Is the original stimulus concluded?  Is the conclusion  
     itself a stimulus?   

     [. . .]  

     Circumstance differs.  On [at?] [location focus], the   
     un-tested acquired the pseudo-[my translation]-rational  
     capacity to relate the impulse of their time-source to the  
     requirements of ours, which we must continue to set if it is  
     to remain valid.  [Name] doubts [item? name?] sufficient.  

     [. . .]  

     [Unclear] eager, or feign [unclear], even if beyond them by  
     dearth of sign as of essence, astride exertion's fruit.   
     [Name], less astute, disagrees.  

     [. . .]  

     Across inconstant terrain, where circuit nor directness is  
     explicit, they (i) proceed linearly;  (ii) follow (a) the  
     subtle topographic flow, or (b) an undetected non- or  
     contra-topographic beacon.  The assumed coexistence of (i) and  
     (ii) suggests they obey [quantity] distinct regular/random  
     imperatives.  More, were perception refined.  Benefits (within  
     the limits of the term) of (ii) must be such as to provide  
     [unclear].  

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     Where is he transmitting -- coming -- from?  Pseudo-Pluto, too  
     remote.  Ceres, Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, too barren.  A  
     coracle emits pulses, conceivably interpretable, but so do the  
     stars, the sun, the crystals crunching on the beach, any  
     puppy's Squawk-Duckie toy.  

     Another plane, realm, next-door universe, whatever folk name  
     them, seem safer.  No need to risk your body, perhaps your  
     soul, on the frontier.  All you need -- they say -- is the  
     right glitch or the right letting-go of things.  The idea is  
     liberating; it deserves elaboration.]  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.19/l:   

     Our neighbors dream, and boast the proof that if and when we  
     die, we -- or the wandering lost thing within us -- become the  
     singers or the crawlers or the vicious barely-seen ones that  
     dwell in the surrogate "us" they labored at.  

     [. . .]  

     Some search our fate and agree we survive, to linger or go  
     elsewhere?  If we linger, for rest or vengeance?  Elders  
     hesitate to stir the truth of this, to burden us, disturb the  
     balance of the Ones.  

     Death is [name]'s conspiracy in others' hearts.  To risk is to  
     soar -- higher, if it risks their anger.  Only in death do we  
     the jealous, the proud, find each other.  Death is the goal.   
     Life is the detour.  We seek to return.  

     [. . .]  

     [Name] speak to their dead as we speak to the night.  [Name]  
     leave their dead to the flame; [name] leave them to the skies;  
     [name] eat them, although none have witnessed.  Unique are  
     [name], who bury their dead alive [The one translation  
     possible] and [name], of whose rites we learn nothing; they  
     claim none have died.  We of the Forest [unclear].  

     Folk believe [name], the first to die in peace, journeys about  
     for us to join him.  If convinced, we follow.  Some are too  
     busy to listen, brush him aside with their tools -- "I'll go  
     when it fancies me, bother another."  Some wrestle off the  
     argument so deftly, [name] longs to rejoin us.  

     Who live near the Forest remember [name], among whom a life's  
     length was agreed upon at birth.  One traded a portion for the  
     sake of a friend ill or under siege.  So too, one who died  
     awake granted away the un-touched years, or flung them to the  
     air, to be caught by the skilled.  Elders know [name] came  
     among us too soon.  

     [. . .]  

     Among [name], songs rose.  Hard or milder vex were sung in  
     tune to citizens long or newly ended or to what fragments had  
     survived.  The dead one's Elder took concern for these  
     surviving fragments, hid them [location-focus], often  
     elsewhere. To save the secret, the Elder of the party killed  
     his helpers; in secret hid their fragments also.  He too would  
     die on his return, to save the secret, so journeyed to  
     another's fields.  By end and exile [name] declined.  They,  
     too, before their time.  

     [. . .]  

     [Name] say, "Neither tomb nor cave," akin to our own verse,  
     "Nowhere to die."   

     [. . .]  
   

     If we are, as legend-learners tell, outcasts from a sterner  
     moon, by what right do we demand respect?  One's duty is to  
     punish one's brethren for what brought us here.  

     [. . .]  

     Few citizens killed or injured on the road, or having  paused  
     where they were strangers, are returned for rite or  treatment  
     as none know their title or origin.  Clear One's Chamber in  
     modesty offers that the citizen who journeys from his town  
     have sealed in place one indestructible item, grooved with  
     title and other facts, to ensure the needed ritual for all who  
     fall in strange places.  

     The Clear suggestion, for its respected source and  intrinsic  
     merit, is Greeted.  By [time], those still free of the item,  
     traveler or native, tempt murmurs in the marketplace:  Does he  
     hide?  Does he spy?  Has he nowhere to die?  Is he in doubt?   
     (=Is he available to us?  Are we free to disturb him?)   

     [Name]'s law encourages the item; [name]'s law urges it; [  
     name]'s law offers further wit grooved upon it:  The quantity  
     and nature of the citizen's wealth, the depth of his thought,  
     his Elders' depth, his sufferance of [unclear].  Despite these  
     measures the count of missing travelers rises.  The count of  
     missing natives also rises.   

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     The processing device tells us nothing about the correspondent  
     because it's not his device.  It's ours, the way everything  
     here is ours, as are banjos, spinning jennies, steam valves,  
     poker decks.  We've no clue to his source device, how it fit  
     his fingers, tentacles, flagella or brain waves.   

     Brain waves.  The hoofprints of Rosabelle, Baalshemrakh, Old  
     Henry, Pedro and Skeeter, who clomped at times onto  
     frequencies reserved, we thought, for us.  No way to explain,  
     not yet.  *I'm not moving, there's bandits down that road*."   
     "*Pack it up, Jed, this stream's panned out*."  "*Run, there's  
     a bomb in the stable*."  The critter told you on his own, full  
     of loyalty, bless his soul, no one had to pay him.   

     Then come those times they can't access the frequency (it  
     might be the cloud-cover Upstream) but they've caught wind of  
     something with those long ears and have to warn you and  
     they're stuck with that frantic, frustrated, God-awful  
     braying, drives you crazy and you call them names, "stupid  
     ass" most likely.  You don't understand.  You could, but you  
     don't listen right.  

     Brain waves.  If the correspondent's a telepath, why would he  
     waste his time, *kinesis* and honor on a second-rate  
     intermediary device?  Unless he'd learned dead devices got  
     respect.  Talking statues, artificial thunder clouds,  
     unplugged but talking radios.  He must have tried us without  
     some this-world prop and been appalled when his contacts were  
     stoned, burned, crucified, sealed up where no sane thought  
     could penetrate.]  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.22/2:  

     [Name] learned little haunts the universe but essence and the  
     space that shields it.  The Forest at a distance declares  
     itself a solid mass of Forest, concealing the lives within.  

     [Name] ended his teachings.  

     [. . .]  

     [Two pages of this message are obscured by the usual coffee  
     stains.]  After seminary he strides concealed [time unit]s as  
     a laborer among [unclear], alert for troublemakers.   
     Supervised, he may destroy them in quiet.  He may, supervised,  
     ignore them.  

     [. . .]  

     And the silent loneliness wraps me like a fog.  

     [. . .]  

     [Name] learns experience-clouds, unlike item-clouds, may share  
     their tasks.  Time/space favoring one, favors all; pain and  
     joy may dwell together; wood and flame may not.  

     [Name]'s rival learns wood and flame indeed embrace each  
     other's nature, as honor embraces joy at an adversary's pain.  

     [. . .]  

     And spend your breath, till sky runs dry of cloud and you are  
     eaten by the sun.  

     [. . .]  

     [Unclear] are gone, yet [name]'s plan of the things of the  
     universe helps those of us who have worked the farms.  His  
     ordering of stars by their light's nature (stars of mirth, of  
     sadness, of taciturnity, of sobriety, of friendship) will help  
     us find our way if we learn to fly, blasphemous as that seems.   
     (Who says I err?  The stars are sparks of clashing moons.)  

     Yet we look about, and remember [name]'s work's misuse.   

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     I assume it's an innocent contact.  I stacked him with all the  
     long-dead harmless stone, bone, parchment and papyrus scribes  
     of all those ancient and haunted places who left for us the  
     kick of deciphering old scripts, solving old mysteries,  
     opening new doors, and I stacked myself with all the finders  
     and grinders and polishers of old keys.   

     But this scribe is alive.  

     His brethren -- With luck, they'd beat each other to  
     exhaustion (with further luck, to death) long before they  
     figured how to steal, then figured how to use, the technology  
     to get at us.  If technology, not blood-throb fervor, crumples  
     the barrier, if it's there.   

     Dr. ibn-San'a, Institute's guest, assumes any barrier, by its  
     nature, impossible to penetrate.  Except by words, which don't  
     exist.  Realms called Other are forever Other, as oil to  
     water.  

     Father Miereanu, Institute's guest, suggests (in *Archivum*,  
     vol.IX, spring issue) that before we noticed, the universe  
     cracked apart, leaving the half-realms of  
     *materia-qua-materia* and *materia-non-materia*.  The Father  
     believes God gave us fire and gasoline to let us know, in case  
     we got the idea we could patch the two *materia* back  
     together.  

     The guests agree anything beyond mind-to-device-to-mind  
     contact with the correspondent is impossible.  Which settles  
     it.  

     We assume the device is always passive.]  

     (Committee's Addendum:  Regarding the guest hypothesis of a  
     split *qua/non* universe of what we gather are incompatibly  
     charged sub-atomic particles, *Strategic Papers* II proposes a  
     monitored exchange of neutrons to correct the imbalance  
     between U-*qua* and U-*non* such that in *n*-time the ion  
     differential will be reduced, rendering the two half-universes  
     once more mutually accessible.  As staff assigned to Paragraph  
     72 concluded, "Phenomena tolerable here would be tolerable  
     there.")  

     (Dissent:  Paragraph 72's unwise strategy would result in  
     self-replication of the exchange-initiating U (*qua* in this  
     case) upon its alter-cosmos, leading to fruitless disputes as  
     to which of the two equivalent manifestations of a given  
     conscious entity becomes the legal voice and owner of the  
     other.  -- Committee's Note, Minority)  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.29/02:  

     Our neighbors dream and boast the proof that if and when we  
     die, we -- or the wandering lost thing within us -- become the  
     singers or the crawlers or the vicious barely-seen ones that  
     dwell in the surrogate "us" they labored at.  

     (The Board suspects this entry has appeared before, that the  
     correspondent or the translator is at fault.  Our choice is  
     obvious. -- Committee's Note)   

     [. . .]  

     (Specimens K.94/4-22 were incompletely translated, rendered  
     useless; 23-39 were lost through the usual bungling. --  
     Committee's Note)   

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     The correspondent could be returning our call.  For years  
     we've turned thoughts into beeps and broadcast them Elsewhere,  
     and there's been no response we'd consider intelligent.   
     Poetry and music haven't worked, nor Ranjit's paradox, nor  
     Maximov's non-irrational reversed zero, nor Pythagoras' nor  
     Brahmagupta's theorems.  Nor the continuously broadcast *pi*  
     (3.l4l...) or *phi* (l.6l8...) -- almost twice or half of each  
     other, like lovers almost/never close enough.   

     All those clues from Upstream.  We copy them down and pass  
     them along -- lab data, verse selections, cooking and  
     gardening tips from one world to the next, few worlds aware of  
     each other (or pretending not to be aware), few near enough to  
     allow for an immediate reply.  Or any reply, if spilled coffee  
     has compromised the documentation.  But we pass it on because  
     you never know, you never know.]  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.94/42:   

     [Name] learns, [unclear] the teacher, realms invite brief  
     visits by shreds of us less noble than the shreds we know.   
     Few are lost.  

     [Name] remembers wandering, unseen to all who knew of him.   
     ([Name]'s rival holds all memory false, to hide.)  [Name]  
     found no rest, no home, passed others, empty to them.  Time  
     drew him to a deep [?] tree, cliff-height above the sea.  With  
     ease he climbed, sat silent on a branch.  Another wandering  
     one of us joined him, waited silent.  And another waited  
     silent.  And another.  Foreign to him, to each other.  Many,  
     for their weight was slight.  In time the slightness ended,  
     the branch in silence broke, and all in silence fell.  One  
     cannot say into the sea, for the memory stopped.  

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     The correspondent may have been using his side's analogue of  
     Temporal (JanusLabs, Istanbul), which make time stand still.   
     According to the label the patient should be able to grasp and  
     distinguish pulses of time quanta, glimpse what may be  
     happening in the gaps and perhaps -- emphasizing "perhaps" --  
     insert a thought between the quanta.  

     There's room in the gap for spot announcements -- *Thou shalt  
     not kill*, *Say please and thank you*.  If there's room for  
     another life . . .]  

     [. . .]  
   
     Specimen K.8/40:   

     After long absence my diminutive friend returns.  [As if he  
     has no name; as if one doesn't waste the names of  friends.]   
     He brings a greater nut and lesser ones, new to me, new to  
     others.  

     "Name them life-nuts, for their hardness."   

     "They look -- not difficult," I say.  

     "Be one."  

     I take a lesser one and with ease shred the covering. Ah, the  
     husk is deceptive; there is hard shell beneath.  My friend  
     cracks it smoothly with two living rocks.  Living, for the  
     nut, so small, is strong. The meat, [unclear]-like, is strong.  

     My friend asks, "Another?"   

     I consent; the next is also strong.  

     Comes the greater nut's turn. The husk is graceful.  My friend  
     swings an entrance knife, untouched since the Forest, to make  
     fast work of it.  The naked shell reads us, as the pensive  
     creatures do.  My friend: "This little one (he means great  
     one) is difficult.  We need more rocks to hold its place --  
     living rocks."  

     We find them.  The nut secured, my friend strikes with the  
     most demanding rock.  The nut winces, does not crack.  

     "I tamed it's spirit; watch now."  

     He sweeps down with the entrance knife.  The shell splits.  He  
     parts the halves so the [unclear]-like liquid lingers, grants  
     me the deeper half.  "Sip slowly; it gives pleasure."   

     As does the meat hiding within.   

     Then I ask, as friends expect, "Where are these from?"  

     "The knowledge endangers you."  

     [. . .]  

     [Time unit]s pass and he returns, with fresh fruits never  
     known, different textures, each its own pleasure.  

     "Strong," I say, and ask again, "Where?"  

     His answer as before.  

     [. . .]  

     [Time unit]s pass and he returns, brings silence.  We wait as  
     it consumes itself.  Silence ends, he speaks: "The Waste."   
     And returns to silence.  Again we wait.  Struggling, insisting  
     "No" to an unpermitted spirit pacing in the room, he rises,  
     seeks the street.  

     This night, occasion gives further tumult to the town and  
     [name], a witness, comes to tell:  My friend, acknowledging  
     their bitter rite and formula, Greeted [unclear], and  
     fulfilling the Greeting stained him with alien fruit.  As all  
     expected, the Aroused chose to reimburse beyond comparable  
     wealth.  After a brief ceremony my diminutive friend was dead.  

     "No need to fight," says [name].  "The moons are low."  

     But a need to die.  I know nothing more.  

     What had it meant, the word that broke the silence?  What was  
     the waste?  A dream wastes when left empty, but is nothing.   
     My friend spoke as one who wasted a real thing.  

     Empty it well and come back refilled.   

     [. . .]  

     Further Segment, Specimen K.48/2, not intended for us:  

     [Unclear] they communicate among themselves in our presence  
     (eluding our notice) or apart from us (more than relevant) or  
     within temporal enclaves as at preview and recapitulation  
     [morn and dusk?].  

     What is there to share?  All experience the same environment,  
     free enough of stimulus as to offer nothing worthy of  
     communication.  

     [. . .]  
   
     [Name] suspects they gather falsehood, granted falsehood's  
     concept.  [Dr. Ohm says "falsehood" implies a spoken language,  
     though cats may lie about where their kittens are.]  Far from  
     the Registry is larceny's/art's child.   

     [. . .]  

     -- if apt, to extend our wisdom.  [Name] offered this to the  
     Elder's table but Negation descended: (i) It would involve  
     teaching; learning itself would not suffice.  (ii) They, as  
     others, would lose response to our unique transport (what do  
     we know of unique?) and self-render unserviceable.  

     [. . .]  

     Occasion reveals the most trusting [item? name?] grant taste  
     and sustenance.  The distraction is long-proven and  
     unavoidable.  As in [name]'s report, it arose without our  
     intention.  The fruits and nuts are not affected.  

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:  

     Where the correspondent's term might be poorly understood,  
     I've used a phrase or locution  unique to here, wherever we  
     are.  See *bluenose*, *fille de chambre*, *golem* and  
     *apparatch(n)ik* in message K.37/93.  (Not available at press  
     time. --Committee's Note)  

     If the correspondent was subject to time constraints less   
     tolerable than ours, it would explain the changes in tone and  
     theme throughout the messages.  Our days were his years, room  
     for innocence, maturity, frivolity, depression.  Some of it I  
     feel, even here.  

     By now none might be left who remember him, or remember well.   
     ("Let's see, once was this character, wrote letters to --  
     creatures, I guess.")  He'd have been challenged by his prince  
     or his shaman or his vigilant neighbors for consorting with  
     evil-omen folk, or folk too full of guilt to look away.   
     *Behold, thy very denial doth affirm thy guilt*.  ("They  
     relieved his misery.  Poor devil could've hurt himself.")   

     If our times flowed at the same rate, he'd still be there.   
     The others would be there too, vigilant.  Our *Received* --  
     what they longed for, to pounce on.  

     The Humanities Board (HumB) skimmed a slim handful of messages  
     and assigned a 6.24 global PAR, but it's clear from reading  
     the full series that 7.38 is more appropriate.  I'm  
     disappointed with the second folder's 5.87, and appalled by  
     the disparaging comments in the Chair's memo.  I urge 6.58,  
     considering the unique cosmology in message K.2/4. (Not  
     available at press time. -- Committee's Note)  

     More than disappointed, I'm confused by the meager PAR  for  
     the thirty-seventh folder, especially considering the   
     correspondent's sober analysis in messages K.37/94-95.  (Not  
     available at press time. -- Committee's Note)  

     I've a further objection:  A bilingual edition would have been  
     more in keeping with our purpose.  The reasons for not  
     including the original text in parallel columns or as an  
     Appendix remain unclear. "Too many damn Appendices already,"  
     the Chair said, as if a chair could speak.  

     Translation's aim was to free the correspondent's text.  
     Without him beside me, I speak as if without authority.]  

     [. . .]  

     Specimen K.37/2:   

     I am undaunted.  Brooding clouds will not hinder.  I climb the  
     articulations [?] of my diminutive planet, reaching to stroke  
     my name from star to star.  

     [. . .]  

     Say nothing memorable.  

     [. . .]  

     The Helpers take my old cot, enemy of dreams, starver of  
     dream-eaters; and my [unclear]-hide chair, which smells of the  
     shriveled land between our diminutive fields and [name]'s.   
     The duty is mine to make new ones.  My diminutive dwelling is  
     barren.  

     We of the Forest know a dream in a borrowed cot comes true.   
     May they dream.  

     Their distaste for the cot and the chair is an excuse. They  
     seek the Book of the World One's Oath, which carries the name  
     of every false citizen who has sworn to destroy the Clear One  
     and all it stands for.  A book of such size, could it hide?   

     [Name], of high authority and of clear repute, recalls, after  
     deep thought, a vast meeting, yet secret, where the Book of  
     the Oath was signed by a long queue of misguided ones.  It  
     strikes him significant the misguided wore robes of mingled  
     [Fifth and Sixth?], the colors of the World One's worst  
     Orders.  Forgiving by default all other Orders.   

     If [name] now recalls a citizen's having worn in recent or  
     forgotten time robes of Fifth or Sixth, or both, the citizen  
     is Helped display his wardrobe to the town, to bid for what  
     innocence remains.  Even then, occasion murmurs his World  
     One's uniform lies hidden in a secret place or fed to beasts.  

     [Quantity] is the safe color.  Robes of many and bright  
     colors, none akin to Fifth or Sixth, bear noble streaks of  
     [First?], not to tempt an accuser.  

     [. . .]  

     [Further annotation:   

     Color?  Does sight, light, exist there?  Is it trusted?  What  
     I took as the seeing of Fifth/Sixth/First, rotting surrogates,  
     rock's shadows, might for him be shimmering tone? pitch?  
     flowing chords? texture? or subtle bubbles in time.  What  
     tells day from night, moon/star's-light from darkness, needn't  
     be the clues we go by.]   

     [. . .]  

     At [time unit]s the witness, after deep thought, knows  
     [faces?] from the meeting and calls them in the marketplace.   
     The accused, thunderstruck, present no coherent defense.  

     To doubt the Book's existence has recently been proved  
     contempt of wisdom and an insult to one's friends.  To embrace   
     the virtue of the Clear One is to embrace the malice of the  
     Clear One's enemy.  It is so stated.  

     [Name], after deep thought, determines the Book's existence by  
     reason and experiment.  A meeting will be called.    [Unclear]   

     The Helpers, attentive to the cot, ignore the [musical  
     instrument?], find no harm in what to them is noise; ignore  
     the [comparable to telescope? reading glasses? magnifier?];  
     ignore the sound figures [sheet music? linguistics texts?];  
     ignore the [pillows? batons? styli?] thin [brittle? pale?] as  
     the bones on the lands.  They nearly [unclear], although a  
     decoy; its loss would not matter.   

     They leave the old table, because it is heavy.  Their  failure  
     is my profit; it grants, in sleep, the firmness I missed.   
     Memory flows with the words baked for [name] upon its surface.   
     With what I find in the Elder's old dwelling I bake more.   
     None name me.  I am graceful and leave no sign.   *   
 

Story copyright ©1998 by A.Y. Tanaka <tankay@hgea.org>
 

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