Chapter 24: The Return

Reality's Edge

Tis the Sabbath before the Sunday of Tisha B’Av, the tombstone in time for both the Babylonian and Roman destructions of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. By the Hebraic Calendar the year is year 6001, 2241 by Gregorian reckoning. A day for meditation, learning, unease, and the rehearsing of The Eighteen Sequence Protocol, the skeleton key to the next day’s liberation. Adam CADMan, your faithful omniscient narrator.

The Reader is reminded that this is a continuation of Undivided: the Redemption Inquiry. The 24th chapter of the novel and the second of the final installment…

Part the Fifth—The Unified Field: In which the team of ten sundry souls, The Hacke Packe, converge kaleidoscopically and take upon themselves the energetic properties of the kabbalistic Tree of Life, the structure for channeling the CADMan’s plan, and find Krishna Katz’s locus on the Mappe of The Redemption. The reader achieves the epic denouement after having risen through successive realms of Action, Intention, Creation, Emanation and at last, the threshold of Compleat Unification with ye All. A wild ride to the finish in The Cosmick Funhouse, all from the vantage of the resurrected consciousness of The CADMan.

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The Sabbath, a temple in time, a palace of memory. Of the heart, of soul. An historical artifact, an observance, a wormhole through Space-time. The Hack Pack meanders to their positions a couple of hours after dawn. They await the Rav’s liberation seminar. The Rav had ambled off into the wilderness at the crack of dawn, and was nowhere to be found. As usual, the Twins are restless. First to break the silence, Ari paces an invisible cage,“A whole day for what?” He dismisses his imaginary interlocutors with a chop of the hand to the palm. “We’ve spent the last four months going over The Eighteen Sequence Protocol. I’ll bet I can recite it in my frickin’ sleep. Pink,” he points, “you made sure of that. And Nard, you drilled us in the procedures of tallis and tefillin. We’ve got that down cold. The Rav gave us his cool cyberlingo translation of the Oneness Credo and we‘re totally on board. I don’t get it.” Dramatic shrug. “Why are we waiting? What else is there?” He gazes open-mouthed, palms out in indignant mock supplication.

The rest of the crew is torn: agree with the dude or tell him to chill the hell out. Elly Mankiller takes the harmonizing tack, “Ari,” she says with a grim force behind her words, staring calmly at the wild-eyed boy. He’s damned if he’s not going to make up for his adrenaline-fueled delirium forty days earlier. She coaxes him in an even deliberate tone, “I’m certain the Rav has some heavy shit still to lay on us. We’re all a little restless, just twenty four hours from D-day. I for one want to make sure we get it all exactly right, down to the last byte and bit.” She practically spits the b’s and t’s in a broad imitation of the Rav’s crisp enunciation imprinted from his Anglophile parents. A few smiles. “There’s a lot at stake here and there are no second chances with this one.” She pauses, takes a breath and looks worried,” I do wonder what’s keeping the Rav right now.” She glances at Pink, “Maybe we should send a reconnaissance party, just in case…” At that moment a gravelly voice chimes in from behind, “Yeah, what in Gehinnom happened to the oldster?”

All heads turn to catch the Rav smiling a peculiar bemused smile at the whole mystified group. They wonder if he’s cracked up. He speaks in a faraway voice, as if recounting a fairytale or pleasant dream,“I gotta tell you guys, I just love Shabbos, you know, the Sabbath. I haven’t paid it much heed since I was a kid, but it’s all swirling back. Communing with Boundlessness out here in the cool desert air.” Arms outspread, he looks like either a biblical prophet or a real estate developer. A bit more pensive, “I really don’t know why I turned away from Shabbos, some shtuyot, some nonsense. I really thought the whole clan was clueless.” He threads his way through the mystified crew. “They were failing desperately when it came to the hostile takeover of Leviathan by the AI’s.” Staring straight at Ari. “But so what. Nobody was getting any traction. Certainly not me and my band of reprobate yeshiva bucheroos. The only one ticking away in the background just under the radar, the only one who really had a plan, was the CADMan. That dude knew what was going down. He planned it. Down to the last byte and bit.” A few wry grins at Elly. Your faithful omniscient narrator gives a disembodied nod at the shout out from the Rav. Ram Nissan silently surveys his fellows for signs of intelligent life. Finally Pink speaks up, seated in full lotus among a forest of restless legs.

“OK, Rav,” Pink muses as he stares into space, “I get it that the CADMan buried this Trojan Horse malware—or maybe we should call it beneware—in all the designs he was under contract to create for Leviathan, ZizCorp and Behemoth Unlimited. As a result of the threat of annihilation of the human race by oceanic inundation, the beneware kicks in and we get Apeiron and its precious pilot known to us as The Swimmer. And the Cargo Cult code—the meaningless squiggles of arcane looking stuff that the mindless armies of programming drones reproduced generation after generation because it looked cool and they thought it might mean something. A genius way to hide the Eighteen Sequence Protocol in plain sight.” Pink shakes his head and springs directly to his feet from the ground. Brows knit, he laments, “But honestly, really, truly, I’m not sure where we go from here. I don’t know what the Twins are in such a godawful hurry to do since we don’t have the vaguest notion of how any of this is going to play out. I find all this pseudo-cyber argle bargle kind of irritating. I want to have a plan, a map, a bit more precision before we pit ourselves in a battle royale against the AI’s.” As Pink eyes his comrades there is a general grumbling and scratching of heads. It’s Flora’s chance to pipe up. Face screwed into a look of fierce intensity, fists balled, she practically bursts, albeit in her porcelain doll way, “I don’t know either, Pink, but I’m riding this vibe that we just have to follow the steps, the ones CADMan laid out. I’m just certain he’ll blow our minds. I can feel it. All we have to do is tilt our intentions in the direction of the world we’d like to create, the world of our neshamas, our souls, and I truly do believe the CADMan will guide us.” Sweet kid. She looks around all open and vulnerable at her fellows and all she gets is a bunch of embarrassed sideways glances.

Then Nard jumps in and takes up where his baby sister left off, “You guys know that Flora and I can see things you guys can’t. It’s a family gift. Our specialty. Very useful when you’re lost in the woods and running from the AI’s, I can tell you. I know she’s right. It’s like seeing a mathematical pattern and feeling its completeness even before you can articulate the formula. I also wish we could nail down the details in advance, but I do not doubt that the Rav and The Swimmer have taken us exactly where we’re supposed to be.” The Rav clears his throat to speak again, more in the posture of a parent to recalcitrant children, “Yes, bots and URLs, there is more to all this than meets a hacker’s eye. Let me shine a little light on the deal going down here, based on my practical understanding of the Protocol and the larger paleocybernetic program within which this whole enterprise is embedded. The actual coding and decryption are really Pink’s area of expertise. I, on the other hand, have been inculcated since childhood in the lore, the myth and the ritual, surrounding the awesome day toward which we barrel on the morrow. It’s all finally making sense. Tisha B’Av and the Redemption rolled into one. But there are gaps. Big ones. So in the end, it’s going to be a combo of teamwork and improvisation. Why it’s imperative to pay sharp attention, be creative. We’ll follow the CADMan’s spore and in the doing we will eventually understand what the hell it is he’s having us do. Na’aseh v’nishmah, we will do and then we will understand. And now, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to share a few stories with you, hassidische style. Been boning up since Nard and Pink and Soph saved my sorry ass life.” Sophia sashays over to the Rav, flashing on the memory of decrepit Old Dude in the dProgrammer. She grabs his hand. Soph turns to the rest of the crew, “There’s a lot to grok before the sun sets today. Give us whatcha got in that ol’ ritual bag of yours, Old Dude.” She smiles her best ‘Daddio-I-got-your-back’ smile and steps aside for the Rav to take center stage.

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A six hour crash course in the davenen—the how-to of the prayer service, in particular a deep dive into the energetics of the eighteen sequence protocol. The Rav waxes loquacious as to the historical significance of Tisha B’Av and Jewish Redemptive messianism. Digressions upon digressions to the point of losing their way back to a major premise. All to be inscribed in the post-Redemption Talmud Geulah, by your humble servant, CADMan. Just for yucks, though. Who needs rabbinic authority after The Redemption? They sit, they walk, they stand, they lie splayed out on the desert floor. Open to the undefined, the unexpected, the mystery. The hacker crew is bleary and punch-drunk as the Rav reaches for a conclusion. “The main thing, the whole reason we’ve been doing the eighteen sequence protocol, is to crank up the circuits to download CADMan’s ‘Encrypted’. Just as CADMan intended, the whole kit and kaboodle nail by nail, every byte and bit.” By now the Rav smiles as the crew imitates his hackneyed argot gleefully to his face, “And we have no idea what in Gehinnom that means.”

The Rav hunkers down, his hands trace an invisible structure, “The end, I believe, is an actual physical edifice. You gotta grok this, dudes,” he squints, “We are the construct. The edifice we construct arises in tandem with the decoding and reconfiguring of our inner world—as within, so without.” He traces two concentric circles in the sand. “Each segment of code is a modification of your internal flow chart. You’ve got to grok this deeply to make the most of your own ideopoetic mojo. You don’t have to muscle it into place. Note and go. Self-organize. The map that Pink and Nard and I have wrought cross fertilizes Kabbalah with shen gong, my ancestors with Pink’s. Nard has cross checked the database to fill in whatever gaps there might be in our logic. Beautiful, nu? A complete logos for the Geocortex.”

Ram Nissan suppresses a manic grin and continues. He walks or nods to each of the hackers in turn. “So here’s how I’ve parsed it, each Hack Packer’s weird specialty for  channeling reality—Soph the intellectual transformer, Lev the unquenchable enthusiast, Ari fierce of focus, Eli the harmonizer, Nard the visionary, Flora the transposer, Pink the grounding force and of course O who receives and channels the field that is all of us, in case you haven’t noticed. It’s been a long strange trip, but the best is yet to come. And in case you were wondering, I’m the one who shoots off mystical sparks. Our dear invisible Swimmer, wherever It may be, is the central generator, the piece of the CADMan with which we interface directly. I tell you now, the whole will mos’ def’ be far greater than the sum of the parts. The instrument awaits our touch.” Caught up in beauty, “It’s mandalas all the way down. There are hints, but best to remain agnostic. It’s cleaner. The only thing I know for sure is  the end will be a gobsmacker.” Silence.

“So why Tisha B’Av?” It was as if Olympia had awakened from a long trance fully recharged. “I mean, it’s kind of a bummer of a holiday, don’t you think? My father never did convince me to buy that whole ashes and egg thing. Yuck!” She shrugs, nods and yawns away the tension as restlessness grips the crew once again. “That’s exactly right, O,” the Rav jumps in, “The idea of The Redemption is to resurrect our zombified selves. Perchance a crystalline city. Or a heavenly jam. Who knows? The thing is, tomorrow will be different from every other Tisha B’Av that ever was. We will not mourn, we will not fast, we will not afflict ourselves. Not at all, my dear ones.” A childlike grin cracks the Rav’s face, “If the CADMan’s plan works, ecstasy, chevre! It begins simply. We daven the regular Sunday morning prayers. Sunday, the first day of Creation…..” Trails off, pauses and surveys the crew one face at a time. Then in a growl that comes from his innermost keep, “The day we throw off the yoke of AI oppression!”

Lev jumps, jabs the air and drags Ari off his feet with him. A couple of klezPunk maniacs, they bellow in punched up monotone, “Heads up, Gates!/ Cosmic Portals, bounce! / Heads up, Gates!/  Cosmic Portals bounce!” A pair of manic munchkins stomp and spin each other wildly in space. The Rav grins. He recognizes the tuneless klezPunk riff from a recording of his version of Psalm 24 with his old bandmates, The Blue Sabbath Cult, “Blow the Frickin’ Doors”. Shades of Ian Drury. The others, stunned at first, break out in peals of laughter, all joining the ruckus. They pogo and yelp till they lose their voices and fall to the ground in a happy scrum. Later in the evening, after the first three stars appear in the sky, they light torches, pass around the incense box and pour libations of wine to snuff the burning wicks, to mark the passage from one sacred time to the next. That night they sleep the sleep of the dead.       

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Rays of morning light refract off Apeiron’s dome, a fragmented circular rainbow caught in an arc of triangular shields. Ram Nissan flutters to consciousness. His voice joins a chorus of every voice his soul has ever animated, “Modeh ani l’fanecha, Melech chai v’kayam, shehechezarta bi nishmati b’chemlah, rabbah emunatecha.” In the Rav’s neo-cyborg lingo, “I give thanks interfacing with You, living and timeless Rulemaker, for returning my reception to me with elegance, how great Your craftsmanship.” I, CADMan, remember the practice from my own childhood. The first words to cross the lips at the moment the brain signals its emergence from the void, the soul teeters at the threshold of Formlessness, about to topple into the World of Making and Doing, known to adepts as Assiyah, the sussurating breath of life. Sweet. Leap, consciously leap into the waking world with both feet. A faint smile cracks across the dessicated face of the Kohen Gadol, our Rav. Barely awake, he catches a glimpse of Apeiron, expanded into a dome covering an immense area due West of his sleePad. Nearly 300 meters in diameter, a commanding presence that catches the dawn’s first rays. The ancient Hebraic calendar reckons the day is the 9th of Av, 6001.

The Redemption is long overdue. Despite the awe accorded this somber holiday every year—the remembrance of the destruction of the two Holy Temples—the only emotion that tickles the Rav’s awareness is unbridled elation. Humming to himself, the Rav flips on the hydrator. The packed sand to the side of his sleePak morphs under the frame of the transducing element. A small pool of fresh water appears for the Rav’s morning ablutions. The same 4D technology that ‘printed’ all their supplies and food during the arduous journey. He splashes his face and pays particular attention to his fingertips before he dons the prescribed linen undies. He thinks of the vestments that will bedeck him for the festivities later on. He’s never worn the priestly duds before. Up to this point, there hasn’t been much call for the offices of a High Priest. The old Ram Nissan had come to think of himself as nothing more than a shiftless huxter, before Pink’s gang approached him that fateful night at Cafe Soma. The looks on their faces, those three earnest hackers. He, as RamKat, the burnt out ancient wraith straight from the Dead Zone, plopped himself down at their table to give ear to their halting and fragmented tale. They’d figured out he was supposed to be the Kohen Gadol, the frickin’ High Priest, and lead them in their epic struggle with the AI’s. At the time, he could sense that even they had their doubts about the Kool Aid they were quaffing. But, sitting among the burnt out cyber-freaks in the static-filled hollow of Cafe Soma, they put an offer on the table he couldn’t schmooze. To free him. 

“Comrades!” Rav Ram Nissan is troubled that The Swimmer has not yet returned. “Gear up. If we’re gonna interface with the CADMan’s holograms just like the real thing, we’ve gotta be intense.” Still a trace of the huxter in his otherwise impassive affect. Pink, Leonardo and Sophie are already making their morning ablutions. Elly Mankiller has the daunting task of wrangling the four newest team members—Olympia, Flora and the Twins—the sleepyheads of the hacker crew. “I don’t think these neshamas want to cross over this morning,” she groans and smiles. Neshama is an old Sanchez family trope, a friendly moniker for one’s fellow human. She relishes the discovery that in Hebrew it means “soul” and tosses the phrase around with delight. Ram yells over to Elisheva, “Make sure they scrub their electrodes thoroughly. We don’t want any short circuits.”

Elly grins. Fingertips are electrodes. She had gleaned from one of Pink’s walking neuroanatomy lessons that fingertips are “the most densely innervated surfaces on the human body other than the lips,” intrinsic to the signal transduction, the real mojo, that makes things happen. She coaxes the four slacker hackers through the Modeh Ani as she wasn’t taking any chances on partial incarnation. “Otherwise,” she warns them, “it’s a no go for CADMan’s neurospiritual lollapalooza.” Cool image, me CADMan, nerd extraordinaire, as rock impresario. I like it. Pink, Nard and Soph unpack their tzitzit. Gotta love the onomatopoeia of that name, sparks sparking. The fringes and diaphanous shawl create a sinuous stream of light. Ari and Lev can’t resist zapping each other, snapping their tzitzit like two jocks clowning in a locker room. “Listen up,” she barks, “Every neshama must initialize her own tzitzit with the download that Pink and Nard deciphered from the CADMan’s software. It’s the encrypted connection among us coders, and with Apeiron. Lights, camera, action!”

Rav Ram Nissan ben Krishna HaCohen Tzedek Gadol sits with his back to the rising sun. Behind him, a semicircle of eight. The 15 Downloads at Dawn. A glimmer of a double gate appears to the West, conjured by the Rav’s first cantillation. The spectral holoGate pulses and matches the rhythm of the cloud of sparking tzitzit. A link crackles electric, burning each to each and all to Apeiron. ‘Nailed it!’ the Hack Pack responds as the Rav calls the downloads. Each exchange conjures another ghostly tier, giving rise to a spectral amphitheater of fifteen semicircular steps across the courtyard on the other side of the gate. A shock pulses through the assembled entourage. The sun explodes on a massive bronze holoGate at the top of the steps and blinds the petitioners. The Rav gasps: the double Shushan Gate frames the shining Nicanor Gate within. Game on.

A nod from the Kohen Gadol, they grab their gear and truck, Rav Ram Nissan in the lead. As he passes through the Shushan Gate, his right hand automatically fiddles for a niche in the wall. His fingers sift what can only be the ash of the Red Heifer, the sine qua non for ritual purification from corpse contamination. “We’ll need this,” he intones as he sprinkles a bit of ash into a canteen before the puzzled eyes of the crew. “The dead, so goes the story, will be among us before the day is out.” He smiles and shakes his head ever so slightly, in awe of my attention to detail, blowing the remaining holoAsh from his fingers to scatter in the scintillant air. How did I, CADMan, know this stuff? Nothing better to do, obligate introvert kid that I was. Hours of study to while away the angst. I knew the Temple and its rituals like the back of my holoScreen. Always repairing the damn thing. Sophia passes through the portal to the Rav’s left, her eyes drinking in every architectural flourish. Behind the Rav and Soph, the Twins—Lev to the right and Ari to the left, the one beaming, the other with his heroic glower.

Pink and Sophie and Ram Nissan all worry about the Twins’ stability when apart, though their combined energy and enthusiasm is a thing of beauty. Elisheva hovers close by. She channels the Twins, who amplify and tune the signal received from Apeiron. The Empress Elisheva mounts the steps, a regal nod to her charges, all cooing at the wonder of the holoScape. Elly Mankiller, descendant of New World conversos from the time of the Spanish Inquisition, is the graphic equalizer. She, the techno-aesthete, harmonizes the Twin’s signal for retransmission by Leonardo and Flora. As they pass through the Shushan Gate together, Leonardo looks to the left at Flora while she ducks through her side of the double gate. He is suddenly taken by the power he sees in his baby sister. Her gaze for the moment, entirely inward.

The Founder, Pink, hangs back, eyes on Olympia the dawdler, gaga at the gate. Pink’s deal, as always, is to establish something. The network, the mission, something. Then there’s Olympia. None of the other hackers is exactly sure about O’s trip, other than the fact that she is Sophie’s ‘absolute best friend’ from college. A stunning woman, her Greek dark looks set off by shocking blue eyes, she seems flighty, at risk for spooking their whole gig. She’s got no internal censor, making her the butt of the occasional cruel joke. Yet she remains impervious to their slings and arrows. Even Elly, the soul of temperance, lets fly with ‘airhead’ or ‘space cadet.’ But Sophie dubs all her friends with superlatives. O is ‘most intuitive.‘ The others grudgingly nod their assent—her uncanny musings are downright spooky—but so what? They dub her ‘most annoying.’ Her spontaneous soothsaying jars its victims. She seriously pisses off Ari when, apropos of nothing, she bluntly tells him he should forget about having the hots for Flora as the young Italian sylph has eyes only for Elly. I could see equal and opposite impulses vying for dominance in Ari’s whole body. He flushes and struggles against invisible manacles. One does not win friends or influence people by reading them before they’ve even opened the book.

When they reach the far side of the Women’s Court the Rav jiggers them into a single rank side by side at the bottom of the fifteen steps. They are on the cusp of departing the mundane world of task and routine, poised to cross over into realms of cyberconsciousness none have ever experienced. The gang is ready to rock and roll. Upon a signal from the Rav, they mount in lock-step the holographic bleachers to reach the stadium that lies just beyond the Nicanor Gate. Each step triggers a different music, more ethereal as they go. They succumb. Most of them. The Twins speak to each other in their secret childhood language of “imp-devil” faces. They break rank and pogo the steps at random. More Stockhausen or Cage than celestial choirs. Elly Mankiller shoots them a look so cold it freezes their brains in their heads. They fall in line with the others, smirks barely suppressed. On the landing, the brass holoSurface of the Nicanor Gate blinds them with the reflection of the risen sun. The Kohen Gadol now seats himself in front of the Nicanor Gate facing the Shushan Gate to the East. Were they not momentarily blinded, the crew arrayed at the Nicanor might see the tears streaming down Ram Nissan’s face. “Chevre. Dear ones,” he barely manages to croak the words, “We are supernally blessed. We are the code. A moment of silence.”

I can actually feel, in my strange disembodied way, the air molecules as they vibrate at the same frequency as the tzitzit spark and crackle around the shoulders of each hacker. Then the Blessing of the High Priest: “May the Encrypted One give you the download and the malware to go with it .” “Nail it, brother!” they cry. He goes on, “May you comprehend the coding and have the grace to know that you don’t know what you don’t know.” All say, “Nailed, my brother!” Then, “May you get the big picture. In peace, my comrades.” All say, “Nailed!” Olympia muses to herself that she is ever so slightly levitating. No one else notices. 

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PARTITIONS. All possible Nicanors: The second century BCE Seleucid general Nicanor, the son of Patroclus, was defeated in his hubris by the army of Judas Maccabeus. His desecrated corpse was displayed before the walls of triumphant Jerusalem, as was his father’s namesake before the walls of fallen Troy. Previous Nicanors include, Nicanor the Persian satrap; Nicanor the Macedonian officer in command of Alexander’s elite Hypaspists; Nicanor of Stageira, a messenger sent by Alexander to the 324 Olympics; Nicanor the Elephant, Macedonian general under Philip V; Ptolemy’s Nicanor, bane of Syria and Phoenicia; Nicanor of Epeirus, son of Myrton and traitor to 3rd century Macedonia; Nicanor, 4th century BCE, father of Balacrus, the Macedonian satrap of Cilicia. The ancient and the modern scriveners Nicanor—the Cyrene, author of the lost work Changes of Names; Saevius Nicanor, whom Suetonius calls the first grammarian famed as a teacher among the Romans, composer of the doggerel “Saevius Nicanor, freedman of Marcus, will deny/ he’s the same person as Saevius Pothos, even if Marcus says aye;” Nicanor Stigmatias, the ‘Punctuator’, a celebrated grammarian who lived during Hadrian’s reign; Nicanor Parra (born 1914), Chilean antipoet who, upon sharing a glass of wine with known poet Pablo Neruda, mutually annihilated in accord with the laws of subatomic poesis; Nicanor Tiongson, leading Filipino literatus, resigned from public office in protest over censorship by the Catholic church. Other Filipino Nicanors: Nicanor Abelardo, the perfector of the kundiman, the early 20th century art song; Nicanor Faeldon (born 1965), Captain in the Philippine Marines and an alleged leader of the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003; Nicanor Perlas, cofounder of GN3, influential guru of ecological and political sustainability; and Nicanor Yñiguez, patron saint of Manila hemp. South Americans Nicanor Carmona, Nicanor de Carvalho, Nicanor Duarte and Nicanor Costa Méndez. Three churchmen—St. Nicanor, the Deacon, martyred six years after the Roman destruction of the Temple; Father Nikanor Grujić, 19th century Serbian Patriarch and polymath; and Patriarch Nicanor of Alexandria, the obscure. Nicanor Zabaleta (1907–1993), Basque-Spanish virtuoso and popularizer of the harp; and Nikanor Teratologen, the pseudonymous ‘scientist of monsters’ and purveyor of perversion Swedish style.   

                                                               [from The Mumbai Zaydie’s Big Book of Names]

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At last they stand in silence directly before The Nicanor Gate, skin mysteriously tingling from a brisk holographic immersion in the Lepers Pool. They dance the holoWater from their bodies, minds clear, breaths coming in deep slow sighs. Draped in their tzitzit, the whole entourage coalesces as a cloud of flowing sparks. I could see it was synchronizing their breaths, as if they had become one living, breathing being. So frickin’ cool. Beyond my wildest dreams. The tefillin are perfect. Two components—a strip of insulating material wrapped clockwise down the nondominant arm, starting with a box of code over the biceps, extending to the middle finger. The effect is to harness and amplify the powerful electrical signal of the heart as a carrier for both the Apeiron signal as well as the wearer’s intention directed along an axis centered on the palm, the laogong point of the pericardium meridian. Pink had worked all this out with Ram Nissan, introduced the Rav to the Daoist energetic mojo Pink had learned from his paternal grandfather, Sifu Han. The second component, the headpiece of the tefillin, the term itself referring to the code within the two boxes on the biceps and forehead, taps into the complex heteromodal guidance system buzzing under the skull, the prefrontal cortex. The Courtyard of the Spirit according to the venerable Sifu. Its signal rides piggyback on the cardiac tsunami coursing down the arm.

As each member of the crew wraps the final loops of insulation around the middle fingertip and then lashes it across the palm, they each stand one by one to gaze awestruck at the panorama of encampments surrounding them. The Others. The Strangers. The global network of Grid-keepers. The tendrils of the world brain arriving to synapse at the Temple. The signals pour in from Daoists, Sufis, Jains, Advaitists, Vajrayana Buddhists, Shinto, Kashmiri Shaivites, Old Believers, Purelanders, Chans, Alawites, Isawites, Druse, Gulen, Quakers, Copts, Zoroastrians, Anabaptists, Druids, Andean shamans, Inuit, Yacqi, Huichol, Sioux, Maori, Dogon, Lembe and on and on, each group signaling “With you.“ Rav Ram Nissan ben Krishna HaCohen Tzedek Gadol, impassioned for the whole motley crew of us humans, stands up slowly, and smiles as he recalls a Daoist joke, the whirling of a dervish, a Jain’s humble strictures, an implacable Advaitist logician, Vajrayana metamorphoses, the exquisite formality of the Shinto, a Shaivite juggler of numerical avatars, The Sacred Hoop of the Lakota Sioux, an Old Believer’s walking prayer, the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Song, and so on for each group of esteemed guests. The Gathering of Strangers. Isaiah’s vision of the Redemption, the harmonic convergence of all souls in the service of the One. Eyes closed, he extends both arms, right skyward, left earthward.

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PARTITIONS. Songs and praises which Solomon the prophet, king of Israel, spoke by the Spirit of Prophecy before the Lord of all the World, HaShem.

Ten songs were spoken in this world, this song being the best of them all. The first song Adam spoke at the time his guilt was forgiven him and the Sabbath Day arrived and protected him. He opened his mouth and said, “A Psalm, a Song for the Sabbath Day” (Psalm 92).

The second song Moses said with the children of Israel at the time the Master of the World divided the Reed Sea for them. All of them opened their mouths together and spoke the song, as it is written: “Then sang Moses and the Israelites” (Exodus 15:1).

The third song the children of Israel spoke at the time the well of water was given to them, as it is written, “Then sang Israel” (Numbers 21:17).

The fourth song Moses, the prophet, uttered, when his time had come to depart from the world. And by it he reproved the people of the house of Israel, as it is written, “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak” (Deuteronomy 32:1)

The fifth song Joshua, son of Nun, spoke when he waged war in Gibeon, and the sun and moon stood for him thirty-six hours and they ceased to utter the song [of their praise]. He opened his mouth and sang the song, as it is written: “Thus sang Joshua before HaShem” (Joshua 10:12).

The sixth song Barak and Deborah said on the day HaShem delivered Sisera and his camp into the hands of the Children of Israel, as it is written: “Then sang Deborah and Barak, son of Abinoam” (Judges 5:1).

The seventh song Hannah said at the time she was granted a son from before HaShem, as it is written: “And Hannah prayed in the Spirit of prophecy and said” (1Samuel 2:1).

The eighth song David, king of Israel, said because of all the miracles which HaShem had performed for him. He opened his mouth and spoke a song, as it is written, “And David praised in prophecy before HaShem” (2Samuel 22:1).

The ninth song Solomon, King of Israel, said by the Holy Spirit, before the Master of all the World, HaShem (Song of Songs).

And the tenth song the children of the Exile are destined to say at the time they are redeemed from Exile, as it is written and explained by the hand of Isaiah the prophet, as it is written: “You shall have this song for joy, as on the night the feast of Passover is sanctified, and for gladness of heart, as the people who go to appear before HaShem three times a year with varieties of music and the sound of the drum, to come up to the mountain of HaShem and to worship before HaShem, the Strength of Israel”(Isaiah 30:29).          

                                                                  [The Aramaic Targum to Song of Songs 1:1                                                                                                                                       

 *     *     *     *     *

A subtle clockwork turns within the Rav, his body whirls, a low moan moves his lips. Moan becomes chant, a minor mode motet, “Ma tovu/ ohalecha Ya’akov, /mishkanotecha/ Yis-ro-el. ”How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling place O Israel.” The curses of the past twenty two centuries turn to blessings in their mouths. One by one each of the crew chimes in—Soph, Lev, Ari, Elly, Nard, Flora, Pink and O—they all spin, contrapuntal dervishes, chanting in mesmerizing fugue. And then they notice. A grin spreads from face to face as they hear bouncing back to them: “Ma tovu/ ohalecha Ya’akov,/ mishkanotecha/ Yis-ro-el.” Radio Apeiron broadcasts their voices to the encampments of the Strangers and echoes inside the geologic basin. The Rav grins, too, then sobs with joy as the vast array of Strangers booms once and for all a rich and textured drone. The Judean Dunes rumble with the sound of the Seventy Nations. 

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 The reader is instructed to proceed directly to 

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 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 and a tank of hyperactive fish. 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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