Michael S. Diamond
Torah Obscura

Chapter 17: Cathar Rendezvous

FRANCE - CIRCA 1900:  Cathar country: The four castles of Lastours in France - In front, Quertinheux, then from right to left: Surdespine or Fleur.Espine, Tour Regine and Cabaret (Auie).   (Photo by Gerard SIOEN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
The future Oxford-y-Brunoy-en-Pyrenees, FRANCE - CIRCA 1900: Cathar country: The four castles of Lastours in France - In front, Quertinheux, then from right to left: Surdespine or Fleur.Espine, Tour Regine and Cabaret (Auie). (Photo by Gerard SIOEN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

In which the Reader meets future heroines Sophia Haskell and Olympia Cordovero as they stand at the verge of graduation from Oxford-en-Pyrénées. The young women have a chance encounter with the renegade cyber-busking guerilla, Ram Nissan Katz, AKA DJRoNK, as told looking back from the Redemption viewpoint of a Clinickal Behavioural Science Tecknician.

The Reader is reminded that this is a continuation of Undivided: the Redemption Inquiry. The 17th chapter of the novel and the first of…

Part the Fourth—Beasts of the ApocalypseHerein lie the Histories of the sundry soules who shall comprise the Hacke Packe. They are the future heroes of The Redemption. One by one they coalesce as a team, cybernauts in the service of Humanitie. The Soule and its Other have risen in this telling to the World of The Emanation of Cosmic Consciousnesse, the threshold where Fate is sealed and released as Quanta to fulfill Divine Will, or Desire, in Ye Worlde belowe.

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“That whole Father-Son-Holy-Ghost thing is so 30 CE. I mean, there’s a reason we say ‘Adonai echad u’sh’mo echad‘, The Ineffable and Its F-ing Name are One! Abso-fuckin-lutely One! Pretty effin’ cool. Totally non-dual. Say the Name and you’re saying the Ineffable. How cool is that? What’s with that change your name, change your essence thing?” Sophia stared at O with a sly insouciance. Olympia, O’s birth name, had been raised Greek Orthodox by her maternal Ya Ya, but she had discovered Kabbalah at Oxford while preparing in Renaissance Art History. She found herself strangely drawn to exotic spiritual arcana. Truth be told, she didn’t really know a lot about her family’s actual religious beliefs. It was never all that important at home. Her parents were academics and the subject of divinity rarely came up, except as an arcane curiosity. She was pretty sure her Ya Ya’s religious beliefs were more subtle than Soph implied, but that after all was for the sake of argument. O and her BFF Soph could spend hours attacking each other’s religious, philosophical, aesthetic and political opinions, and then go on to the next shiny thing. No offense taken. It was a high that required no ingested substances, and that was just fine with them, no harm no foul. O had stumbled into a way of merging her wildly divergent parental intellectual streams in her own evolving idiosyncratic philosophy, albeit unconsciously. Or so I offered her as an interpretation when she came to see me at the counseling center. That was right after she recited her outrageous prose poem out loud in one of our sessions:

The magical fruit. Blood harvest. Where is Padmasambhava when you need him? I have eaten my little songbirds, who will bring them back to life? The disciple in me is horrified. There is a price to pay. The curse is visited upon children down to the fifth generation. The person is the drug. The person is drugged, dragged, dragooned. As the fruit ripens, as the molecules find a new equilibrium, there is an expansion at the equator. There is no point, only constantly shifting sands, feeble attempts at homeostasis. The top spins, wobbles, but there is no place to fall. I wish I could take reassurance from the lack of any absolute direction. Is it all good? Maybe this is what entropy looks like in language, the bodhisattva of cliche seated beneath the great rooted blossomer. What happens when language fails, loses its tensile strength and the bridge of floral garlands crashes lazily into the waters below? That would be spectacular, wouldn’t it? You could pick your spot on the beach and watch as wave after wave laps the shore, each depositing its crazy line of flowers. In the magical world we’d zoom in on each luscious blossom strewn with the crystalline drops left behind by the sea. In the so-called real world, which of course means absolutely nothing, we’d see a heap of rotting vegetative matter barely distinguishable by its faded colors from the mouldering clumps of seaweed and other debris blown into the sea from the land. It’s all the same to the crabs and the sand flies. As you grasp a sodden clump and let it fall between your fingers you feel a momentary stab of pain recalling the heavenly bouquet. You sense a life beyond the shore, chaya, a hint of the cosmic taiji pole, the Beasts of the Apocalypse waiting for you to notice them. The waves have ceased. There is silence. Only my voice talking to you. The language of machines.

She was a frickin’ genius. It seemed obvious, even though as a newbie Clinical Behavioral Science Technician she was way above my pay-grade. Oxford-Brunoy was a great gig. The graduating class of 2211 had some really intense folks in it. O was unique in my book. I could barely understand a word she said, let alone figure out what behavioral parameter was out of whack, but I had a delicious girl crush on her so I didn’t discourage her from coming back again and again. I used the excuse that I was doing an enhanced Ekman biomorphic profile because her personality was so complex. The truth is I took every opportunity to stare into her face because she was stunning to look at. Every facial muscle clicked by the cursor was more enchanting than the last—the curve at the edge of the mouth created by the levator anguli oris, the slightly raised eyebrow indicating the tone of the corrugator supercilii, and of course the sensational faint intimations of a pucker produced by the orbicularis oris. Meaningless, really, but each measurement gave me that much longer to gaze directly at her with impunity. I even asked her to use my lip-gloss so I could ‘examine’ the muscle movement more closely. I think she might have been onto me. Maybe she was enjoying it, too. Quite the little flirt. O’s turmoil was of a more metaphysical nature, clearly beyond the scope of the CBS module. She explained to me that the whole lot of the Neoplatonists were Kabbalists in drag. She had done an analysis of Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ as a progression down the sephirotic Tree of Life. The ‘logic’ was that Botticelli was a student of Ficino and Ficino was a crypto-kabbalist, Q.E.D. I guess. Honestly, I didn’t really even try to follow her arguments.

I loved the lilt of her voice and the pouty seriousness of her face. There was a lot of arm-waving, footnoting and filling in of blanks, as well as a feminist twist on Wisdom personified as the girl BFF of the Creator, way before creation actually happened. At the time O was quite excited by the stacking of all sorts of seemingly unrelated ideas, and even got a few of her friends to read her favorite discovery, Edgar Wind’s ‘Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance’. By now Wind’s ideas were just an assumption for her, part of the background noise of her cortical radio station. On the side, she was meeting with Rabbi Yechiel Azimov, one of the Brunoy Yeshiva tutors, to study the ‘modern’, that is 18th century, version of Kabbalah, called Hassidut. He was not so subtly nudging her along the path to formal conversion. Necessary by his way of thinking, but that would have to wait. There were more pressing social engagements to attend. Sophia’s fellow hacker pals were eager to have Olympia at their secret gatherings, partly because she had a unique knack for putting ideas together in ways that surprised the otherwise cynical wizards. Also, the male geeksters thought she was a fox. I agreed. Even now, after The Redemption, she and I can joke about how funny it was that she didn’t know about my secret crush, but I still enjoy the delicious feeling of the memory.

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Olympia and Sophia had been roommates since they first got to Oxford. Right at the start they discovered the game that they never tired of playing together, adopt opposing opinions and argue the hell out of them. Sophia remembered each and every smackdown from the nights when Olympia would return from hours of studying in the library, throw down her fabKit, grab her palmPrint of Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance, and start reading out loud to their other two roommates who likely as not were blotto on cyberdelia. At some point she’d stop to draw breath and declaim, “This is pure true!” as she jabbed her finger repeatedly into the text. Sophie would either roll her eyes and continue her latest human-machine-interface project, or she’d close down her work portal to prepare for full-on intellectual smackdown. Well worth its weight in adrenaline. They could pace around each other for hours, sober as judges, crouching and pointing fingers and leaping on and off the furniture like deranged squirrels.

Soph’s diatribes burst out in full paragraphs, blistering O with a barrage of details. O’s salvos were more poetic, her metaphors reaching right down to the core of Soph’s arguments and cutting their heart out. Their stoned roommates were totally blown away as they silently blended in with the cheap upholstery on the couch. Soph and O needed no cyber-enhancement for their metaphysical kicks. Soph would occasionally take perverse delight in goofing on their slacker roomies, as when she tantalized them with an ersatz cyberdelic offering. She barely suppressed a smirk while delivering her fast-paced patter:

This first recipe, Holographic Chocolate Cake, is popular among the young. I stumbled upon it quite by accident in my early years, when I was seized by a sudden overwhelming hunger one night. The first step traditionally requires the burning and inhalation of pungent vegetative matter. For the more mature cook, it suffices to hum a single syllable with eyes closed while focusing on the nature of delight. For the next step you will need high-powered introspective lenses and fine-pointed tweezers. Please see the techniques section for how to best execute the “World Without End” preparation. It is absolutely essential that you not do this alone. It suffices to have the assistance of one other accomplished chef, but I have found that groups of six to ten devoted ones make light the work. The preparation of an actual chocolate cake is optional. The next step is the most crucial….

The two stoners would fall over themselves trying to take notes. They were dying of cyber-munchies. They’d groan piteously as she left them hanging mid sentence starving for something that didn’t exist. O was a pure heart, a lev tahor, Olympia’s dad would say. Her father was a full-blooded Hebrew-speaking descendant of Moshe Cordovero, the 16th century Kabbalist predecessor, and ardent devotee, of Isaac Luria, AKA the Ari. Professor Corazon was a colleague of Sophia’s father, Professor Haskell in the Department of Philology. Manuel focused on Hebrew, Aramaic and Ugaritic texts rather than the Latin and Greek which he left Nathan Haskell to dissect. They both cultivated passionate interests in the philosophy and religions of antiquity, magically illuminated over a couple of pints at The Lion.

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By the time Sophia and Olympia matriculated at Oxford, the campus had long ago been disassembled and reconstructed out of the ruins of Chateaux de Lastours, a complex of four Cathar castles in the Pyrénées. This was due to the massive encroachments of the sea along the entire coastline of Britain and up the Thames that completely inundated the university’s campus during the first quarter of the Twenty Second Century. The move had also entailed a seemingly improbable symbiosis with Yeshiva Brunoy whose obscure existence was similarly threatened by the rising levels of the Seine. Now, almost a century later, the rumors of the imminent shuttering of the whole university complex by the bBots spread like wildfire through the community. Sophia’s father Nathan was less sanguine than was his colleague Manuel about the physical and political safety of the new campus. As soon as Sophia finished her Bachelors in Intellectual Engineering, Dr. Haskell planned to gather up the family and herd them all back to his wife’s native Milan where they had met post-college.

The Haskells all loved Milan and the extended family would welcome them with great feasting and merriment, if the community still stood on dry land. Not a foregone conclusion. Sophia’s folks had particularly fond memories of their first encounter on Stella’s home turf. Nathan had backpacked his way solo through Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He asked a local rabbi for a place to spend the Sabbath. He looked like a bronzed woodland god when he showed up on the doorstep of Stella’s parents’ trattoria. Stella took one look up from her physics books and was insanely smitten. Nathan lured her away for sylvan strolls and Stella enticed him with Piedmontese cuisine. Sophia was the fruit of a robust cross fertilization. She shared her father’s love of the outdoors and matched him for sheer physicality. Hiking the Pyrénées was the closest she could get to her memories of traipsing alpine trails in Northern Italy with Herr Professor Papa Haskell. That’s why she jumped at Olympia’s suggestion to take this one last graduation hike together. Before massive environmental catastrophe and the bBots turned them all into refugees.

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PARTITIONS. First list of Jewish refugee children in France RELATIVES OR FRIENDS NAMES ABRAHAM Daugh.of( Irene lax (Hanna ALEXANDER Heinz (Arthur Son of ( /~ (Ernestine APPENZELLER Ernst (Israel ( in of ( (Irima AXELRAD Martin (David Son of ( (Amalie l£jEDICK Hans (Heinrich Son of ( (Flora BERGER Heinz ffi (Joseph “Son of( (Susanne BERGER Herbert (Salo Son of( (Sidonie BEYTH Felicitas (Walter pa0gfe.of( (Xrma BLUM Hans (Heinrich Son( (Sidonie BORN 9-6-1925 Tempelburg ’28-3-1927 Neustadt a.d. Weinstr. 9-5-1926 Vienne 28-5-1926 Vienne 9-11-1927 Landau/Pfalz 15-7-1925 Vienne 11-5-1928 Vienne 11-10-1924 Berlin 17-2-1927 Vienne in U.S.A M.Paul Alexander 3754 Wayne Avenue Kansas City M.O M.Emile Kern 1098 North Avenue N.E Atlanta (Georgia) M.0tto BAEKAN 171 Madison Avenue New-York N.T l4§5 MacomBs Road Bronx,New York • I Affidavit 26 Mars 1940 M.I. I.Irvin 340 O’Farell St. San Francisco M.Siegfried Meinberg Kew Gardens Road Appt.4 B. 45 New York i NAME S BORN RELATIVES OF FRIENDS in U.S.A. BODENHEIMER Us e (Siegfried Daugkto”f( (Clara BUCHHOLZ Helli Daufiht.ofpgeoge BUCHHOLZ Rita (sisters) BUKOFZER Joachim (Hermann J3on of( (Margarethe DAWID Fritz (Leib Son of( (Rifke ELflAUS Siegfried (Karl Son of ( (Sabine EDEL Gisela / \_ (Jacob taught, of ( (Henriette EINBINDER Gerda (Julius r Daught. of ( (J (Gertrud ENGEL Daught.of( Minnie (Alfred (Marthe FEITH Trautchen (Max Moses Daught. of ( Fidelmann (Jette FELDSBERG Us e ( Max Daught. of ( (Melanie FEUERSTEIN Herbert -, (David \ Son of( (Eva 5-9-1928 M.Max Mayer(Uncle) Niederhoohstadt c/o Mrs.M.Bamet /Pf. 1073 Warburton Av. Yonkers N.Y. 12-1-1928 i Vienne i 29-9-1929 i Vienne 1 17-12-27 Bad Polzin 14-^-1926 Vienne 10-7-1925 Vienne 12-3-1928 Stettin 4-12-1927 Breslau 21-2-1325 Schbnlanke 4-5-1928 Berlin 24-7-1925 Vienne 22-12-1927 Vienne [ Mr.Ira Louis Brown ; Brown 435 W.8th St. [ Los Angeles Mrs.Edwig Back Pacific Avenue 107 Atlantic City M.Wolf Schwartz 112 Georeckstreet New York MM.Fini & Sigmund Reisch 1551 Walton Avenue Bronx New-York M.Harry K.Grottewit 50 East 82 Street N.Y New-York Mr.David Leif(grandfa c/o M.Katz 1068 Findlay cSR*1 ^ Bronx,New-York & J i • s. IJ – NAME S 7 I -3- BORN ( • RELATIVES OR FRIENDS in U.S.A. FRISCHWASSER Alexander (Schulin son of( (Mathilde GUTTMANN Eva (Jossel Daught. of ( (Gertrud GUTTMANN Suzanne (Sisters) HEIBERG Berty f- (Isidor II aught, of ( (Helene HEINEMANN Lore Berta (Adolf,Abraham Daught. of ( (Johanna HELLREICH Heinrich (Manes Son of( (Qermine HERMANN Rolf j ‘ (Paul Son of( (Meta HERBUANN Daisy (Adolf (‘)’ Daught. of ( (Alice HESS Adolf ,Raschid (Heinrich Son of( (Fortunee HESS Robert (brothers) HIRSCH Leo (Arthur(deceased) Son of( (Henriette( w ) HIRSCH Max (brothers) 3-1-1927 Vienne 30-4-27 SchneidemUhl 4-11-1925 SchneidemUhl 2-3-1928 Vienne 15-5-1927 Landau/Pfalz 8-12-26 Vienne 25-10-1925 Herzfelde 12-2-1926 Vienne M.Kurt Brenner 3 Goerkstreet A.P.8 New York City M.Rudi GUTTMANN 112 West-75 Street New-York City wirs.Anny Heiberg 40 South Main Street Woonsocket R.I Miss H.MUhlfelder -See Below 551,Hale Avenue Avondale SALMON Cincinnati (Ohio) M.Carl HERMAN(uncle) 434 Roscoe Street Chicago Dr.AdolfHERMANN(father) 491 East,165 Street Apt.5]-Bronx New-York 17-7-1928 entre Athenes et Istambul s/vapeur anglais 15-12-1926 Athenes 24-0-1928 Schneidemuhl 15-6-1927 SchneidemUhl §&l tk ‘ * NAME S -4- BORN RELATIVES OR FRIENDS IN U.S.A. HIRSCHBERG Hans (Eugen Son of( (Dorothea HOROWITZ Maurycy (Jakob Son of( (Rifka HORWITZ Daught. of ( Ruth (Wilhem (Liesel 4» slm Daught. of ( Ruth (Fritz KAMIL ( (Leo (Hedwig Marcel Son of( (Wittia KAWALER Dora (Abraham Daught. off (Lea { | KAWALER Selma (sisters) KELLNER Franziska (deceased r. Daught. of ( – (Malvine KLDPSTOCK Ruth (Hans .Daught. of ( (Frieda KOKOTEK Else (Samuel Daught. off (Berta KOKOTEK Inge (sisters) 10-11-1925 Berlin 16-5-1927 Stanislau 8-1-1928 Ludwigshafen 19-7-1925 Albersweiler /Pfalz 3-5-1925 Berlin 9-1-1926 Vienne 19-6-1927 Vienne 10-3-1925 Vienne 7-11-1924 Berlin 29-11-1927 ( Mrs.Else Deubert 6 Linden Road Paterson M.Fritz Kahn(father) 124 Mc Creigh Street B as trop,Lou i s i ana Affidavit Ludwigshafen ( 18-3-1932 Ludwigshafen (M.S.Englander (708 Street Main ( Forth vort ( Texas ( v Wk$ -…:…i •’:•••’ / •’•_’ _ NAME S – 5 – BOSN i RELATIVES OR FRIENDS in U.S.A. KRAUS Daught. off KRAUS Edith (Meier lalke Gertrude (sisters) KUNSTADT Raoul (Jaques Son off fScheindel LEWIN fpr, u LEWIN v on of( (Kurt ( (Anna Siegbert Werner (brothers) LClBI Gerd U (Arthur Son off (Hanna LOB Max (Arthur Son off r (Selma LOEB ©alter (Albert Son off (Martha ( oEw Henrik 30 A6ut 1925 ( Vienne (Max Kraus(father) f c/o Hornreich (115 Belmont Avenue fBrooklyn,New York 3-1-1930 Vienne 21-1-1927 Vienne 15-7-1927 Woltersdorf 2-5-1929 Lyck 26-2-1925 M.Hans LOBS Landau/Pfalz c/o L.Marx 566 West 162 Street Apt. 56 New-York City 5-4-1927 Mutterstadt M.Fritz Dellheim 527 W 135 Street New-York City 15-5-1925 M.Ludwig Maas Ludwig shafen 7575-9 7th« Avenue Ozone Park L.J. 1Mew York 10-4-1926 (Abraham,Isak(deceased&emberg(Pologne) Son off (Jetti(deceased) LONNERSTAEDTER Heinz (Siegfried Son offHenny Lonnerstaedter Walter (brothers LUSTIG Son of( (Osias Markus 6-9-1925 MUnchen 21-6-1928 Berlin 23-3-1928 Vienne (Helene OCT 2 4 A940 “XI • NAME S M -6- RELATIVES or FRIENDS BORN in U.S.A MAljHER Gerhard Herbert 29-2-1928 (Robert(deceased) Vienne Son off (Margarethe MAIMER Sylvia (brother & sister) MAI Alfred (Julius Son off (Else MALSCH v J aught, of ( Vera (Ernst (Ruth MANN Edith (Luitpold Daught. off ( fRegine MANN Herbert (brother & sister) MANN ‘…jaught.of( Hilde (Eduard (Luise MATZDORFF Ursula (Ernst Daught. off (‘) fHerta MATZDORFF Werner (brother & sister) MAYER Daught. off Edith (Gustav MENKES (Frieda Lizzie(Alice) (Leopold Daught. of ( (Rebekka MENKES Herbert ‘brother & sister) \ \ 31-12-1924 Vienne 19-7-1924 Wallhalben /Pfalz 26-2-1926 Rathenow 15-4-1930 Steinbach s/Donnersb. 22-8-1925 Steinbach s/Donnersb. 16-1-1927 Rodalben /Pfalz 25-8-1924 Breslau 8-3-1926 Breslau 13-11-1925 Edenkoben /Pfalz Mrs.Lora Mahler 118-35 Metropolitan Avenue Kew Garden L.I NEW YORK ‘ Mrs.Myrtil Mann 345,Milne Street Philadelphia Mrs.Margarete Glass c/o Dr«Steinberg 6 Corly Road Great Neck L.J. New-York M.Robert Schaffer 172,Madison Avenue New-York City 7-6-1929 ( Mrs. Dora Feldschu&t Vienne (3456 Fulton Street ( New-York ( ( 10-7-1925 ( Vienne f OCT 2. NAME S – 7 – BORN RELATIVES OR FRIENDS in”U.S.A. MEYER Helmut (Walter Son off fFrieda MOSES Eurt9Ludwig (Bruno Son off (Hertha MOSES Werner (brothers) Nf^ERGER Werner, Isaak *’ (Moritz Son off fTherese Antonie PACHT (Leon C i off (Helene Arthur PACHT Georg Walter (Karl Josef Son off fMaria, (cousins) o PAUCKER Kurt (Wilhem Son off fMinna /-WUTZNER U ( _. Son of( (Erna Heinz PORGES Paul Peter (Gustav Son off fJeanette REICHENFELD Georg. Ignatz (Leopold (deceased) Son off (Marianne 4-2-1926 Frankfurt /Oder 5-2-1928 Ttttz 29-7-29 Tutz 3-6-1926 Rodalben /Pfalz 18-5-1928( Vienne (M.Joe Switkers (172 Madison Avenue 11-1-1925(New York City Vienne f ( ( 12-11-1924 M.A.Paucker Berlin 206 W.32 Street New York City 20-9-1925 Berlin 7-2-1927 M.Kurt Porges(brother) Vienne Alabama Siiool of Trades Gadsden (Alabama) 25-12-1925 Vienne ‘ ‘ N AM L S -8- BORN RELATIVES OR FRIENDS in U.S.A. v:v REISS Elvi (Oskar Daught. off * (deceased REISS Erich (Brother & sister) REISZ Daught. of ( Erika (Siegfried (Laura ROSEN Ljaught of( Ellen (Erich (Erna ROSENBERG Hans Leonhard (Philipp _Son off f ; flrma ROSENTHAL Edith (Hermann Daught. off fJohanna ROSENTHAL ” Ingeborg (sisters) ROSENTHAL Fred. G erhard (Ludwig Son of( () fLydia ROSENTHAL’ Heinrich (Phillip Son off (Adele ROTH Norbert (Richard Son of( fRegina RUBENKES Alice lax Daught. of ( (Olga/ RUHM Herbert gHH _ffis& 1 16-3-1924 Vienne 28-6-1928 Vienne 21-5-1927 Vienne 14-3-1926 Greifenberg 21-1-1926 Speyer a/Rh 26-11-28 PotsdamBoms tadt 13-3-1927 PotsdamBornstadt 14-8-1927 Berlin 18-4-1925 Vienne 18-1-1925 (M.Leon Haas Berlin (81 N.Duane Avenue (Pittsburg (M.Louis Haas (823 N.Euchid Avenue fPittsburg 25-9-1925 Vienne 7-2-1926 Vienne M.Hercel Ruhm(father) 730 E.9 Street New York Citv otf NAME S -9- BORN RELATIVES OR FRIENDS in U.S.A. SAMASKEWITZ Gerda (Leo Daught. off (Olga SALMON Ruth (Julius(deceased) Daught. off SAMET (Emma Kitty Daught of( (Leo (Bertha •[7S0N Lore,Alice Suse Daught. of (Carl (Anna SCHAPIRA Eva (Bruno ijaught. of ( (Ilka SCHAPIRA Lore (sisters) SCHERZER Felix r\ (Schulim USo n of( (Eva SCHEUCHER Ludwig . (Alexander n Son of( (J (Agnes SCHILZER Norbert (Georg Son off (Therese SCHNAPP Stella (Jakob Daught* off fGisela SCHNITZER Gerty Sophie (Ignaz Daught* of ( (Ida SCHONFRANK Hans Simon (Siegfried < Son of( <.. (Elisabeth 19-10-1926 Schbneck Wpr. 6-8-1926 Lambsheim /Pfalz 21-9-1926 Vienne 5-5-1926 Edesheim 4-9-1931 Vienne 6-9-1926 Vienne 24-7-1926 Vienne 9-1-1926 Berlin 18-7-1927 BerlinLaakwitz 15-4-1926 Vienne 8-4-1926 Vienne 4-10-1928 Zweibrucken /Pfalz Miss H.Muhfelder See upwards 551,Hale Avenue Avondale Heinemann Cincinnati(Ohio) Lors Berta Mrs.Regina Schwarfc 7525-67th Road Middle Village L.I.New York M.Scherzer c/o S.t.Gerberer 953 44 Street Brooklyn, New. York M.Erich Baumgarth 123 Big Street Brooklyn,New York Mrs.Dora Seltzmannt(Aunt) 2817 West 2nd Street Brooklyn,New York M.William Bernheimer 157 Vermiljea A-Apt-I C New-York .. I NAME S SCHWARZ Heinz (Leopold Son off fThekla SCHWARZ Karl (Oskar Son off fTherese SCHWERIN Ellen (Alfred Daught. off (Hedwig LklNGER Friedrich (Tobias Son of( (Josefine Peril STRAUSS Ruth ( (Julius “Daught. off fMathilde -10- RELATIVES OR FRIENDS BORN in U.S.A. 8-7-1925 Illigen s/Saar 4-1-1*26 Ludwigshafen 1U-5-1929 Pirmasens Pfalz 9-1-1927 Vienne 14-Sept.l926 M.Saly Reinheimer(cousin) Hbheinod 1^7-7 Street /Pfalz Hoboken N.Y 0 SU$SSEL Daught* of ( Helga (Otto Samuel 21-6-1925 St. Ingbert s/Saar (Mathilde 0 M.Eugen Levy c/o M.Jay Weil 91 Tioga Avenue Atlantic-Beach Long Island N.Y Mrs* SUssel (mother) -Germain quota c/o Mrs.Bender number 9870- 320 Lincoln Place Affidavit Brooklyn,New York M.Herbert winter(second cousin) 50 East 78th New-York Affidavit 21 A6ut 1940 SZAMPANIER Charlotte (Baruch Daught* off (Mala TAUBER Renate (Julius Daught. off fRosaliE WEINER Otto (Wolf Hersch Son of( (Clara 24-11-1924 Berlin 23-2-1927 Vienne 13-2-1927 Vienne \ M.Joachim Parnas c/o Mr.Goldberg 2460 Davidson Avenue Bronx, New York City – RELATIVES OR FRIENDS BORN U.S.A. WEIHSMANN Gertrude Hilde 29-3-1926 (Meyer David Daught* off fAnna Vienne WEISS Edouard (Julius Son of( (Rosa WEIIZ .Edith (Hermann Daught* off (Olga ( ITZMANN Eva (Rudolf(deceased) Daught. of ( (Margarete WEITZMANN Walter / (brother & sister) WOLF Heiteu: (Salomon Son off (Anna (deceased •Uf ^LFF Helmut (Adolf Son off (Trude 18-5-1927 Vienne 27-6-1926 Vienne 17-12-1929 Vienne 14-8-1926 Vienne 113©-1926 Vienne 13-10-1*24 Landau o /Pfalz ZIEGEL Werner, Siegfried 5-8-1927 <- (Berthold Berlin % Son off (Liese ZIEGEL Steffie 20-3-1929

*    *    *    *    *

“Do whatever you frickin’ want. Who the hell are you anyway?” Sophia blinked at the gnarled wraith who had unexpectedly uncoiled himself from beneath his hood and cloak. She and Olympia were taking their farewell-to-Oxford hike along the breathtakingly beautiful descent from Cabaret castle, the northernmost campus of Oxford-Brunoy-en-Pyrénées. Looking southward along the ridge from Cabaret they saw the proud carapaces of the restored La Tour Régine, Surdespine and Quertinheux carving their silhouettes into the lapis sky. The two chums had been looking forward to refilling their aquaPaks from the locally popular though modest source that bubbled out of the sheer rock face rising up beside the trail. It was a rarity, a public access freshwater spring, too small to have been snatched up by the Aquarians during the Water Wars, nearly a hundred fifty years ago. But just as they came upon the grassy outcropping watered by the overflowing spring, there he was, a gangly hooded creature curled up in a fetal position reading an antiquarian paper comic book right next to the font. Some grotesque gremlin or daemon charged with guarding one of the remaining unrestricted boons of Mother Nature.

Soph had merely asked if the slumbering giant minded if they filled up their aquaPaks. A polite question, which was why she was startled by the snarl she received in response. He sat up and pressed his back into the rock, face still buried in his retro tome. She guessed he was about six foot eight. She could definitely take him, scrawny giant notwithstanding. She had earned her chops after the remarkable feat of wangling an exception from the yeshiva boys to admit her to the Brunoy Krav Maga dojo. What it cost her was she had to practice alone on the other side of a mechitza, a rice paper screen protecting the boys from her corrupting feminine wiles. The instructor, a secular Israeli, soon embraced her as his most promising student. He was her only sparring partner as the yeshiva buchers were not permitted to touch women, heaven forfend. The teacher, Dov Bayer, formerly of the Mossad, was shanghaied from outside the Oxford-Brunoy community. Third year, Dov snuck her into the junior faculty party where she first met Phineas Han, future leader of the hacker underground, and chaperone of the intramural Zipline Team. ‘Pink’ and his buddy Dov had been sparring partners since training together in their hometown dojo back in Tel Aviv. Their families were both of the tough-ass sabra variety. They descended from the generation that had hung on well after the Jordan Rift quake of 2120 had flattened the countryside from the Galilee down to the Red Sea. The entire country was in shambles. Most distressing to the Brunoy alums, the Temple Mount completely collapsed into a 1200 meter crevasse. The mass exodus of citizenry decimated the already dwindling population. The Brunoy faculty had sought out Dov as an instructor to teach self-defense to their cloistered students, ill-prepared striplings who rarely saw actual daylight. Their wilderness enclave was vulnerable to the intermittent predations of roving brigands from the nearby Dead Zone. And then there were the drunken Oxonian rugby jocks. In short order Sophia and her classmates learned to neutralize any and all threats that might arise using whatever material was at hand. World as weapon. She sized up the wraith and decided the aquaPak straps would do nicely to hogtie the scraggly beast.

“Sophia Haskell,” she said from a firm though non-threatening stance. “And with whom might I have the pleasure of making an acquaintance?” The wraith fixed her with one red eye and merely grunted. “And what,” she continued, “is that ancient stuff that you’re reading? Paper? Really?” He practically leered as he lifted the text before his eyes and commenced to read:

Medea wept as she drowned her children one at a time. They went quietly, fully trusting in their mother’s love for them and anticipating a return when the time was more propitious. Too soon their seeds had been sewn, children of the dragon’s teeth. Their god-like father, Jason, sought to fertilize another field. But that womb would die unplanted. Medea had seen to that as well. The bloody gift she gave to her god-muddled husband, to bestow upon his unsuspecting second bride, would cling to the lovely skin and not let go. Earth to earth, unplanted, the sacrificial princess returns, her would-be lover the unwitting accomplice to the deed. Medea’s tears—fetid, yellow and unctuous—stained her dry cheeks as the last of her offspring gave up air for water. The blood of the gods is deadly to mortals. Do not cut them lightly. Medea laid out each of her little darlings on their own beds, a garland of rhododendron adorning each of their heads, each anointed with oil of myrrh and frankincense. Ghastly, their eyes remained open, staring in accusation at their wayward father upon his return home…

§          §          §

God damn that witch! Jason could not get the image out of his mind, the beautiful Corinthian princess ripping off hunks of her own flesh in an attempt to remove the sting of the Dragon Lady’s gift. Jason hated that part of the story. He kind of liked the idea that the hero ditched the bitch goddess in favor of the pliant golden-haired princess. Man that sucked. Jason threw his Graphic Greek Myths onto the floor and decided that two o’clock in the afternoon was just about the right time to bestow his sodded self upon the unsuspecting world. He sniffed his pits, determining that yesterday’s clothes could live to sleaze another day, and pulled on his black Converse All-Stars sans laces, hoisted his bulk out of bed and prepared to hit the streets. Dr. Aronoff, Jason’s father, was a well-respected and fastidious internist in Midtown. He was the embodiment of The Flea and the polar opposite of his son, The Slug. Jason had chosen another path. He was the bass player for an as yet to be discovered group of rock stars who called themselves The Thuggs. His cousin Theo, an even larger behemoth of a Jew, had proposed they call themselves The Brotherhood of the Beard, but he was denied. 

“Now doesn’t that beat all!” the wraith roared at the two girls as he looked up from the yellowing sheaf of papers covered with multicolored illustrations. “The Mad Yarmulke Society. Definitely one of my best!” Unexpectedly, O piped up, startling Soph who had already narrowed the world down to just herself and the hooded creature. “I know who he is! That’s DJRoNK, the last of the Cyber Bucheroos. He’s legendary. Those dudes tore up the streets of Leviathan giving the AIs a real run for their money.” She actually seemed awed. His mouth twisted imperceptibly at being recognized, a kind of wary pride. “A votre service,” he said in a hoarse whisper. He shambled to his feet and offered a slight bow, “Et vous, mademoiselle?” while staring squarely at Olympia’s delicate porcelain features. And in her best deliberately butchered French, “Olympia Corazon, je sooeeze hurriz de faire votray c’nnaysanz.” Then she nailed him with one of her killer waif pouts. He was momentarily distracted by a small surge of endorphins and dopamine, a rare occurrence in this ninety-year-old corpus, but it passed. No time for the odd romance of youth. His face broke into a wry grimace. “Ah, two professors’ kids out for your graduation tiyul,” he said referring to the yeshiva custom of taking in the world by foot upon completion of undergraduate studies. They wondered how he knew who their fathers were. DJRoNK stared off, wistful, slightly softening his brusk and studiedly degenerate mien.

“Say,” Olympia continued, “what are you doing here? When did you stop haunting the streets of Leviathan making trouble for the AIs? And how old are you? We read about you in the Sosh class I took on Leviathan Subcultures: Deviance and Disorder. Man, the archives were full of wild ass stories about you guys. I loved some of your songs, ‘Seph-erotic Blues’ and ‘Blue Moses(What’s Happenin’ Now)’ were way cybe. Your two bands, The Lost Messiahs and Blue Sabbath Cult, both really zapped! Then it all went dark about a couple of decades ago. Not a trace, no stories, no retirement party, not even a ‘bBot makeover’. What happened?” He nearly grinned at that one, perversely enjoying the flashback of infamy. The ancient wraith momentarily adopted the hunched-over Thinker’s pose, pulling down his facial muscles with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, primarily in order to fend off the impending smile. He shuffled his feet and cleared his throat. “Yeah, that was a previous lifetime. Got all my buddies locked up in the hoosegow.” A flicker of sharp grief crossed DJRoNK’s face, but he replastered his raconteurial deadpan and continued. 

*    *    *    *    *

CONDENSATES. I pray that there will be no all out war of annihilation. We don’t need to go there anymore. We should be smarter than that by now. Disease and starvation take enough of us off the planet. Murder is a brutal form of population control. Derek has a killer instinct, cultivated in him while growing up on the streets of Harlem. Time takes its toll on all of us. One cell at a time. One word at a time. Deleted. The engine of life can always be heard humming in the background. Make more. Don’t die. Make more. Don’t die. Make more. Don’t die. It is a profoundly amoral principle. Derek saw it in action everyday. It was the law of the land. You cut me. I cut you. Twice. You had to be bad to survive. Especially if your Mom was a Jewish chick from the Bronx. Even his dad was an outsider, an Ethiopian Jew. Double disenfranchisement. At his core, Derek was a gentle giant. His heart bled at the sight of what poverty and desperation had done to the hood. His parents had tried to shelter him. They were a couple of flower children in love-beads, taking turns finishing their schooling at night. Derek knew that it was because of him that they left CCNY and moved into the cheapest neighborhood they could find. They raised him on love, beauty, and understanding. Nothing wrong with that. But when he walked out his front door, he was slammed in the chest by the suffering of the world. In the summers they sent him to a camp at an ashram in upstate New York. The swamis fell in love with the tall black-skinned Jewish kid from the city. To the smaller children he was the pied piper. Derek loved his summers in the Catskills and continued on as a camp counselor when he was old enough. But he always felt a twinge of guilt when he thought about how most of his classmates from the hood spent their summers on the hot streets of the city.

Toward the end of high school Derek discovered Aikido. It was perfect. A non-violent kick-ass martial art. There was one dojo in all of Manhattan. And, as luck would have it, it was only a few blocks away from the place he worked after school in the West Village. His uncle Morty ran a radical publishing house out of a brownstone in the village. Stoned Tabloid Press. Derek was a quick study and soon had the AB Dick machine down cold. It was one evening after work, ambling toward the subway after the print job was done, that he spotted the wood carvings at the entrance to the alleyway. He could not resist the mystique of the place, the exotic beauty. As he entered he noticed a trellis densely covered with iridescent morning glories tumbling out of planters on the window ledges above, petals closed in the modest light of evening. He was determined to come back in full daylight to see them opened. He saw that the alley was paved with flagstones of different sizes arranged in an irregular pattern, their interstices filled with luxuriant green moss. At the end of the alley was a low brick wall, barely taller than Derek, capped with a row of terracotta tile. Set into it was a squat oaken door under a Romanesque arch, three slits for windows descending stepwise from left to right on the door. Over the door an arch of red sandstone tiles declared in Art Nouveau lettering “Chelsea Aikikai Society”. Later that night Derek grabbed the Yellow Pages and looked up the phone number. He felt the magic of the mysterious door at the end of the flagstone alley. He imagined a secret society of superheroes or spies. He was determined to call them after school tomorrow and find out how to get in. [from Katz, R.N., The Mad Yarmulke Society]

 *    *    *    *    *

“We did have our times. Seems like yesterday. Right after I graduated from this here yeshiva we jumped right in. One of the first classes to graduate from the Pyrénées campus, Class of ‘42! But you know, a fella’s gotta grow up eventually, and I surely do have a bit of age on me by now. Just tryin’ to lay low and blend in for a bit. Until the next insurrection. All that public performance gets old after a while. Too much time pissing off the machines. That’s all behind me now. But you young-uns have your whole lives ahead of you to change the world and all.” He let out a long and poignant sigh of pent-up weltschmerz that threatened to blast through his well-practiced cynicism, but he managed to plough forward without skipping a beat. “Sorry if I was a bit ornery when you first came up. Just catchin’ up on my reading when I dozed off and was startled awake. You gals have been so sweet I’d like to leave you with a little something my Abba would recite to us when we got to be teenagers, and life seemed suddenly so damn busy. Listen. It’s pretty good:

May your thoughts persist long enough to deliver their packet of energy and not a moment more. May you satiate yourself with your feelings for as long as you need to wrap yourself in that luxurious cloak. May the work of your hands stand in this world visible to all who pass by, so that all who can make use of your work will grasp it in their hands. And, when the usefulness of the work is done, may it vanish from the face of existence. No strings attached. Pure, unadulterated emptiness. How clean is that? What must you believe in order to live like that, in order to do and let go, do and let go. Grief is inevitable. Both small and large. Do you do grief? No man, I don’t do grief. What is the speech of everythingness? It’s really very ordinary. It is no expectation and all delight. It is loving and expecting nothing in return. Come with me for a minute. I have something I’d love you to see. No, you don’t have time right now? That’s ok. I have nothing but time. Call me. I am here for you. 

Sweet, right? My Abba was a stand-up mensch!” DJRoNK sighed a long melancholic sigh. “Hard to stay in that frame these days. You never know who might be sneakin’ up on you. Those AIs are pretty crafty, but so far I’ve managed to stay one step ahead of them dodging in and out around these hills.” He nodded and glanced behind them. The two girls reflexively looked over their shoulders. “Well ladies, it’s been grand. Good luck with the next phase of your educational adventures. Maybe we’ll cross paths again at a more felicitous time. Gotta drop out now.” As they turned back Sophia realized with some dismay that she had failed to notice the gnarly dude had been inconspicuously inching his way toward the ledge when suddenly he plummeted from sight. O and Soph both dashed to the grassy lip of the outcropping where they’d been standing, only to see the ghoul in his fully deployed wingsuit, a demented flying squirrel rapidly fading from sight.

♠     ♠     ♠

 The reader is instructed to proceed directly to Chapter 18: DJRoNK Spins Out. ‎

About the Author
Michael Diamond is a writer based in the Washington, DC area. He practices psychiatry there and is a doctor of medical qigong. He has published verse, fiction and translation in Andrei Codrescu’s journal, The Exquisite Corpse; in the journal Shirim courtesy of Dryad Press; in the online journal for Akashic Press; in New Mexico Review, The Deronda Review, The Atherton Review, The Blood Project, Ars Medica and in The Journal of the American Medical Association. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, an artist and illuminator of Hebrew manuscripts, their dog, two cats, a cockatiel named Peaches, a tank of hyperactive fish and ten-thousand honeybees. He has had a strong interest in Torah since first exposed to traditional stories as a child. Over the course of his life he has run the gamut of spiritual exploration of many world traditions of meditation and mythology. For the last several decades he has landed squarely in the traditional Jewish world. His writing is informed by all of this experience, by his curiosity about today's world and by his desire to mine the Jewish experience for its hidden and revealed wisdom. Torah Obscura, a glimpse of an otherwise invisible world afforded by a small aperture for light. All materials herein copyright © 2018 Michael S. Diamond. All rights reserved.
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