copyright 1997, Stephen A. DavisAccording to a recent article by Professor Amos Fing of the Cultural Ethical University of the Midwest (in Watertown, South Dakota), the eleventh century AD was "the most boring, uneventful period that the planet Earth has ever experienced subsequent to the time of the dinosaur". Although respectful of Professor Fing's reputation and accomplishments (particularly in the field of Ethno-Historical Devolution), I must differ strongly with his opinion.
I have spent almost all of my extremely long life studying the odd-numbered centuries (and the fifth, eleventh and thirteenth in particular) and I find the eleventh century to have been a both exciting and perilous era. I have also discovered that a good deal of the significance of the time has not been available from reading the standard historical tomes (e.g.: Kasp Wertzer's extensive writing "Swords of the Dusk"). Over the years I have discovered much about this tumultuous time that has never been published at all. How I have done this will remain my secret until July 11, 2113, at which time my hidden journals will be made public. The significance of releasing the information on that exact day will be painfully obvious to all!
Even taking into account the fact that vast amounts of information about the eleventh century have been heretofore obscure (and will be until I reveal it), I find Professor Fing's comments amazingly misguided and turgid. After all, even the most rudimentary of history books mention several major events in this century (including the earthquake at Mecklinberg and the civil unrest due to the invasive medical procedures originating in the British Isles).
I have never met Professor Fing, and, although I have attempted to contact him (by phone, E-mail and UPS), he has been totally unresponsive and I am alarmed. Yes, I am alarmed that his biasing the general populace against my so beloved eleventh century may have insidious ramifications well before July 11, 2113.
So, I must take a risk. I must go to my parlor (I, having been raised in a distant era, still call it parlor) and, while soothing myself with a glass of my so beloved ice tea, and munching, toothless, on my so beloved ginger snaps, I will retrieve (from my hidden alcove) just a bit of my carefully researched and hidden journals, in order to stem the probable and potential tide of prejudice against the eleventh century. The eleventh century must not be defiled!
Here then is a story I have decided to tell you. It has never been told before. It will clearly show that important things did happen back in the eleventh century, and this is just one of many of them.
Take that, Professor Fing!
There was a movement spreading across Europe and the Near East at that time, a movement that, though small in numbers (no more than several hundred sturdy men) was widely spread and, had it become effective, might have prohibited the growth of the civilization we all so lustily enjoy today.
Fortunately, it did not succeed.
The movement was called "The Guild of Mordecai". It's leader was a Teutonic gentlemen who had rejected his given name (Helmut Mordecai Harshhmann) and, presumptuously, had renamed himself "Culminus Orbellius Sharpe". God only knows why he would use part of his rejected given name (given by his devoted and unheeded parents) in the title of the very institute which he himself founded!
Nevertheless, here is the brief, but frightening tale.
In the eleventh century, attempts at alchemy were prevalent, and always totally unsuccessful. Yet, the principles of alchemy were believed valid by many, especially the foolish fantasy of converting lead to gold.
Harshhmann loathed this concept. Although he believed alchemic conversions to be possible, he feared that, if lead were converted to gold, the benevolent (as he perceived it!) structure of eleventh century society would be forever disrupted, and that a classless and (in his view) corrupt society would ensue.
Harshhmann consulted with many of the great scientific minds of the day, including William O'Hare (more popularly known as "Will the Boonful of Leeds), King Vas of ,what is today, Norway, and, covertly, with Madame Vera Karpatk"The Mad Dame of Smolensk").
What if, he wondered, if we could only reverse the alchemic process, that is to say, to turn gold into lead?
Clearly, thought the benighted Harshhmann, this would stultify, inhibit, cancel all societal change, and we, the sturdy disciples of The Guild of Mordecai, could then fill the void, as it were, with our philosophies and with our force of intellect and our general hunky dory approach to life. Even worse, Harshhmann was led to believe that turning gold into lead was possible, very possible, particularly by the outrageous and imbecilic Madame Karpatkin, who sold him on her belief that the human soul resides in the cuticle, and that a distillation of certain viscous humours and fingernail cuttings will act as the needed catalyst. Furthermore, taught Madame Karpatkin, once you change even one particle of gold into lead, this releases a "universal imbalance of cohesive effluences" which in turn cause "interpleidian devolution" and, to further cite Karpatkin, "all gold throughout the entire celestial sphere would, in a nonce, become mere lead".
Of course, we all know that this is absurd and impossible, and we place it in the same category as other arrant frauds (such as the myth of nuclear fission, a myth perpetrated even today by certain desperate government functionaries).
But, even so, think of the catastrophic ramifications of a society first, coming to believe that gold could become lead, and then learning at a more advanced time in its evolution, the critical importance of gold to our existence. Why, the very thought of it would cause civil strife, agony, the rapid disintegration of civilization as we know it, and a descent into boorishness.
Why, the ignorant ask, is gold so important? Could we not find some other substance on which to base out monetary policy?
Of course we could, I say to the ignorant, but you have totally missed the point.
Gold is more important to our survival than the food we eat, or indeed, than the very air we breath!
I, from the comfy confines of my parlor, have consulted with some of the great scientific minds of our day, and here is what they have told me:
Without gold in the world (to cite just a few instances):
All bridges would immediately collapse Rainfall would triple south of the equator and Australia would be gone in a flash All magazine subscriptions would be automatically renewed Sloths would run amok, speading, first, in a matter of months, through all sub-tropical climates, including Mexico, and then northward to Illinois.And so on....
For those who are interested in the evidence supporting these assertions (and it is totally conclusive and overwhelming), the scientists with whom I have consulted are planning an (as yet not formally announced) off-shore symposium for the year 1999, to be held on one of the world's best equipped floating oil rigs.
I look forward to this with utter trepidation, as I worry that even hinting at this problem will cause severe disruption in our world ethno-cultural fabric. (I presume, however, that Professor Fing would know much more about this than I!)
And this is only the tip of the iceberg! The rest must wait until July 11, 2113.
However, back to the eleventh century.
Harshhmann formulated and proceeded with a devious and cruel master plan. The plan was to gather all the materials needed (including various repulsive fluids, excrements and. of course, copious quantities of cuticles) and then, to set up and ret to a hidden laboratory where the final experimentation would proceed, resulting in (thought Harshhmann) both the "universal imbalance of cohesive effluences" and, shortly thereafter, the "interpleidian devolution" and, the conversion thereof of "all gold throughout the entire celestial sphere, in a nonce, into mere lead".
Karpatkin assured him that this plan could not fail. Harshhmann decided to first set up the laboratory, in a secret location, and immediately upon doing so, to call a meeting of the entire membership of The Guild of Mordecai (such a convenng had never been held before). At this meeting, he, along with Karpatkin, would reveal to them the existence, extent, and progress of the experimentation in progress, and then send them all out , to all the nooks and crannies of Europe and the Near East to reveal to the world the imminent conversion of all gold to lead.
Had this happened, I fully believe, I would not be sitting here in my comfy parlor writing all this down for you, nor would you be out there waiting to read it. We all, I think, were we to even exist, would be no more than savages grubbing in the muck of our mislaid aspirations and capabilities.
Harshmann did have the meeting! And all of those in The Guild of Mordecai came from everywhere and attended. And Karpatkin was there! And she spoke. And Harshhmann spoke. And the Guild was thrilled. And they cheered, and sang and drank, and helped in the mixing of fluids and cuticles. And, then, finally, came the day they had chosen to leave the secret laboratory and change the world.
But I have one more thing to tell you today. (And don't you dare tell me that nothing much happened in the eleventh century! For indeed, there must be a God in our heaven!)
Harshhmann had carefully chosen the site of his secret laboratory. Underground. In a remote place. In the subterranean and abandoned wine vats of (you guessed it!) Mecklinberg.
And on that final day the earthquake came. And The Guild of Mordecai was destroyed. And none survived. Not Karpatkin. And, best of all, not Harshhmann.
Oh yes, the ruins are still there. I know, for I have gone there, and searched, and found them. But no one else ever has. And, until now, no one has written or even spoken of this.
So, until now, we survive. And there is gold.
And I, extremely old, gum my ginger snaps in my parlor. And my journals are hidden, unread by all but me, until July 11, 2113.
Thank God I will not have to live to see that day.
My message to all of you is: Do NOT Despair!
Perhaps, one day soon, if I need to, I will tell you a little more. But only if I feel I must further prove that the eleventh century AD was NOT "the most boring, uneventful period that the planet Earth has ever experienced subsequent to the time of the dinosaur".
As for you, Professor Fing -- Get a Life!!