Jan 112017


ONCE, dureth the premiere quartern of mine simpering nonage (as a-goed I solo in weepsome wander, blown hithery-thitherward ’twixt fortune’s crosswinds), came I to a mansion in the deep of the forest. [Gen 28:17][1] Stately stood such capacious coverture o’er mine surpris’d espying: a visage of security and grandeur, plot proud aback that well-kempt plat. So palled in count’nance wast I, and wained in will (worn rough thorow seasons of hard hungerings, set a-ravin for scantest lee, viz. some calmly embowerment with an maw appeased), that I breach’d it unknock’d, and ensu’d to interview its contents, as ’twere I its menselord. [Ezra 9:7][2]

Immersed in the trespassion, nary a blot bedaub’d the speck o’ mine conscience, nor pang stirr’d atop mine stomack—so rawhewn a ware was I, tofore arriving hearthside out of that lifepart lost to the stygian, abysmal wilderness. Less man than ape, less ape than shag, e’ery territory whatso bode beforth I betook as mine own: a creature of cormorant contumancy. [Ecc 10: 3][3]

But O noumenal engines! Strange machinations of fate! Since when hath sin paved the way to salvation? How longst hath sinister paws moonlit works for their goodliest adversaries? Such topsy-turvydom unbeknownst me in those years of vassalage to a daimonion of deception wholesome, whoso hath me enthrall’d to an heathenism most desperat and prav’d. Embogged wast I formerly in the gomorrahic quad, risking perpetually to whelm under that murky mire, putrid pool in-filled with the undammed lust which sluiceth fountainous from mine torrid heart… [Psa 69:14][4]

But ne’er hath I reck’n’st heretofore, that sorrysome obliquity could volant vault one unto the imparadised headspace of true religion, whereof spiritual satiety is ’stablished via an o’erabundance of hea’enly commodity. [Luk 19:20][5] Hardly a hint I’d – this coxcombical paynim, a veritable Nabal [1 Sam 25:25][6] – that sottish dalliance would embeckon me to seat at Beulah’s table! [Isa 62:4][7]

O, and to espy in mine mind’s eye that cornucopia afresh! Blessed be the site of mine enraged ingurgitation! Mine gut distendeth at the mere memberance, for behoveth I thenst myriad abounds, baskets, closets, drawers—e’erything robusting with fitliest firstfruit! Forthwith flagons of ambrosial stock plashed mellifluous into mine bejewelled goblet, whilst an exquisite caravan of victuals made pilgrimage to mine bowels. Yum pottage bub’d slabby on the stove, dulcetous censors vaporating pendent, erewhile viands enumerate in excelsis. [Mat 22:2][8] Forsook wath I – in that poverish’d state, as an infidel to the faith – to be seduced by such an alimental horde of engorgements! [Jam 1:14][9]

Forsooth! So starv’d was I, swound on the spot by insuperable gratuity, that recalleth I coting a couple of queries, sayed more out of astoniment than reprobate: ‘Hast the gnat e’er comest to council He who Is? Or the prawn mounteth Sinai? Did Gabriel erst learnst the wyrm to read His message?’ Whilst pondering liken paradoxes of Providence, I hied to repast of the soldanic surfeit, and thereby liss the massy weights which fate hath me cast. [Psa 55:22][10] Scarcely I’d satt’st mine thirst and attain’d second heaven of gustatory gratifaction, whence, in a glance askance, spott’d I e’en more alluring, yet greater gainsomely properties…

What comely caparisons! What fulgent finery! Weren’t mine clots so cloven, ow’d to the hevy habergeon I’d accoutried to fend mine bosom from battailous onfalls (which oft-times, amidst the arbours endur’d unto the hour of mine deliverance, wast bidden to valourise its reputed proof by experimental mettle), thenst peradventure I’d not incline to wot covetously of my host’s affects, for affright of a right scourging. [Jos 7:25][11]

But dreadfulest lust of novelty! Carrion history! So sin-slain and loth of self wast I, mine crave, wound of want and ressentiment, couldnst stave off the prospect of poaching some raiments, and dissembling mine mien to impose my host. [Eph 4:28][12]

Cometh eventide, donning clouts chose from mine patron’s wardrobe, draped with Urim and Thummim, [Lev 8:8][13] in so repose I contemplated mine own gratulated appetence. [Prv 22:3][14] But lo! a shadowy flicker in the vestibule—cursed luck! Divine folly! Wast it the vice-gerent of Philistia, shrewd Beëlzebub, whom cometh to collecth mine soul? To enter yet another specie of sinner into his sepulchral vault? [Job 1:7][15]

No, be it by the prevenient grace of God—though verily in that inmost moment of fear didst mine humours vacate unto mine undercarriage, commixing black and yellow biles into a draff most foul! [Rom 16:20][16]

Of an all-to-befooled torpor, of the type which accompanieth gross induement amidst softly environs, I gat braked. I hast’d mineself procinct to spot in a pinch howst mine beholder heldst me begirt, interpos’d ’twixt mineself and the onely outgang. [Joe 2:1][17]

Specting henceforth to catch hurt or halter, I hid hind my hooks to targe the charge I ticipat’d to wrack mine personage. ‘By den or Topheth, I’m annihilate!’ mine mind fix’d thusly. Yet, dumbfound me, for naught a chiding nor elstwise doleful obloquies fell ’pon mine brow that nocent moment. O sovran savior! Halleluiahs heightliest for thine vicar fair and true! [2 Cor 11:14][18]

“What means this?” spake a voice from yonder corridoorway, athwart the hall. [Hos 14:7][19] A-sensing clemency in the tenor of this interlocutor, mine sensibilities demi-restored, timorous tarried I forth an apology:

IME. “Prithee, do not cheweth me out! Hasten not to umbrage! I shamble humblewise at thy hoofs, plaguest with grief for mine unwelcome carriages. Hearken thy eres to mine weepsome storie: I am me, who ye do not acquaint, but who nauther doth desir’st to hector thine person nor cozenage tempt! I deem mineself thine manservant, mine liege, if ye deign to make no stick with me, tho ye findest thyself in thy just jurisdiction to seek recompense. Or elst shalst I pledge anon to loitereth no furthur in thy midst, and intermeddleth ne’er ’gan in thy busyness? O, how to essay the heart-humiliation I beseech thee to besee emblazons like a burning bush on mine bosom!?” [Tit 3:3][20]

At this I couched submiss in grovelage, and so saith she (I espying her matronic features as a-stepped she into the luminate chamber), “Sirrah! Sociate a tad, if ye beest not too hot for Heaven to go a-repenting presently for yer e’erlasten soul! [Acts 3:19][21] Tell me, what are ye made up of? What wears ye? Yer a-fooling if ye would have me believe thou arenst familial, haltered in familiar garbs… Pillag’d I gather from the rectory vestry?”

IME. ’Pon being discover’d, I’d disremember’d mine attire! Damnation! “Fair arbitress, let me swage thy doubty inklings: in truth I be a cock of the right kind, and not the scrub beseen afore thee. These last days, and for at least a fortnight preceding, stretching immemorial into the yore of mine anguished rind, hath seen me subducted nethermost, notwithstanding mine struggles to upstay soul and bodie. But with God as our ternary, bear me witness here and hence: I avoweth to aright mine appropriations, and make reparations for thy depletions forthwith.” [1 John 1:9][22]

ALP. A-stepping forwarder, quoth the authorial lady-person (I a-hearkening her pitch, which beseemst accustom’d to hote), “Afterthink not thy meagre samplings of the grounds’ produce, and keep thine picked equipts, meetest shouldst themst thou deemst. [Luk 6:29][23]Thou art forgiven. [Mat 6:14-15][24] Thine wrongdoing is absolv’d, and ye may egress peaceably, or loaf awhile if thou mayest.”

IME. “Puissant arbitress! Stupendous nurse! Which is the heavenly host I shouldst direct mine prayers of gratitude?”

ALP. She chortleth at this praise, and so revealed her holy agname. “I be Avia Lux Promethia, headmistress and abbess of this seminary. This glebe wast lent by His Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a testament to the devotion of His Royal Majesty to the One True Religion,” – whence, as an aside: “(tho’ maugre His fixtur’d entitlement, His presence be vap’d here, a mere nominalist spectre).” Promethia continu’d: “Thus we are left to travail as we willst, (in despite of His ghostage,) tho most ignominably with the devices and means of His charitable subsidy. Our dignity thus resides in our collectivity, the way we work in a common way, [Col 3:23][25] dig the land together, and level the burthens and bounties alike. [1 Tim 5:8][26] Whilst I extendeth ye petition to won with us for a furlough, ye must opt to cooperate and learneth the modes and methods of our diurnal practices. That is, so long as ye dwelleth under a shared domicile, and resume to surp the lush of our seasonal vintaging.” [2 Thes 3:10][27]

IME. “O venerated catechist! Evangelic succourstress! Ministereth truely to this dumpish doat, how to intervolve mineself with thine magnificence, and, by and by, to genuinely earn thine glorious fealty. No ginning schemeth, nor pragmatic plot do I stow to misfit your plantation or go a-roguing. Whate’er be the mission, set me on’t, and I shall press thee dearly.” [John 14:14][28]

ALP. “Then bestir yetn’t, lest rooted in doped derpitude thou wisheth to remain. The hadj at hand may demand domesticity and focus honed inly, pace peregrination to distant lands. First, riddle me this: canst thou read and write?” [Hab 2:2][29]

IME. “A tittle.”

ALP. “Then thou must ’prove ’pon these principle parts of thy dividuality! For this be the mandatory faculty at our seminary, where we be devoted not solely to doing goodly deeds. We seek as well the comprehension that goeth withal, which codeterminates these acts from abaft the scenes. [2 Pet 1:5][30] Thusly one canst justly rejoind the braggadocio and misgone musings of the e’ernewing whelps, [2 Tim 2:24][31] who be born appetent of mindfulling foodstuffs, as each babe doth ingress empty-bowel’d to the great chain of appetition. How elst shallst one cognate the quiddity of some thing, ’cept thru timing hours aside to attentive focus, not onely of its boding, but of its root wyrds, their limitary and subtle connexions? [John 1:1][32] Since any craft consists of divers tasks, solely thru years spent on intelligental labours can one master wholly the ethereal essence of a quid, and attain o’erstanding enow to ply practicion wiseliest. Thine firstmost duty, then, is to read—see thou yon librarie thither. Inure thineself with manuscripts and incunabula, aware that they be sembled specific for neophytes such as thineself, who wish to turn a new leaf on life. Aft ye shall finish this scholastic sacrament, one graduates to the division of especial research that relateth to the guildcrafts and their coordinates, whence one can start to tribute at a capacity yond that of a mere philosopher.” [Mat 10:8][33]

IME. “But thems a lot of books, methinks! They lo lumbersome, and lack appellant coverage. Besides, for endeavours literary I’ve not the disposition, nor natural knack. Is it really so wrong that the orphan’d striplings go without literacy, and the finescripts and aggravat’d headaches that attend therewithal? Many great men hundreds of years ago were illiterate. Natural tutelage is better, by the by, and one should not deviate from the norm’s prescription: to do is to know—and nothing besides!” [Ecc 4:5][34]

ALP. “Avaunt ye!” Promethia utter’dst, her charitable beam befouled into a lour, “and glozeth not: ‘Do I have to? Can I do it?’ Ye must, so thou shalt! Don’tst commit thyself premature to the lazier house. Know the cupidic whispers a-courting surrender be aimed by the fiend Apollyon, who aims to steer thine journey back out into the horrent hedge, and headfirst into pandemonium. [1 Pet 5:8][35] But yield not to the flattery of the fiend—thou shalt persist [Col 1:11][36] – ’tis e’en a third of the trifold commandment of Alma Mater Zelda!” Here she interrupteth herself to perform orisons that in due course I wouldst adopt as mine own, and proceedeth to wit: “She who founded this commune, didst so on the grounds of this precise precept, along with two other axioms of piety: ‘Thou shalt ken’ and ‘Thou shalt limn.’ The force of this trinity, which Zelda gaveth to guideth our actions in this misfortunate world, is absolute. [Rom 6:23][37] Beknownst not to dispute with the One True Religion! [Deut 6:16][38] Nay, elst I be left no choice but to holler forth, and deployeth the nuns’ militia to interdict ye under manacles.”

IME. “Aye, so shalt I abate mine protestations,” sigh’d I, a benighted novitiate, yet in the dark to the glorious gift that that cordial moniale, oracle of the sacred heart, hath arranged for me. [Prv 1:7][39] “Go thence, and sign to me thine most rever’d inditements. Just tread lightsome on’t, and spare me thine sharpest snibs, tho’ tardy progress might I onely plow ’pon this bibliodyssey which thou hath layed upon me.”

ALP. Promethia reaffirmed: “Ensue at thy wont, and spect not to suffer mine cavilry. I depart thee so ye can initiate thy duty in sanctitude. Just pledge to keep patience at the forefront of thy conversation. [1 Thes 5:14][40] Take this as the paramount of mine sapience, since alack this virtue, one shant ’spect to surmount those stacks o’ shelves, or o’errun those rows o’ logs, which standst in the way of thy salvage. So fuse the aforemention’d virtue into thine heart, and thou shalt see e’en the mortalest sin of acedia moralis [2 Cor 7:10][41] – the origin of dejection, inborn stain of slothfulness – shalt speed apace in its palling and purification from the human soul, and erelong shalt the curricula be history.” [Gal 6:9][42]

ALP. “So baptise thy innermost being in patience,” proceedeth Promethia as she bid me to the athenæum adjacent, “for thou art hereborn reafter as a disciple of the One True Religion. No longer a no one, thy newly nomination ist Gnosis Patience Reading. Heed thine archmother Zelda’s triune appeal, Gnosis, and recalleth for thine inspiration the patience shewn at thy chancy apparition in the parlor, whence stricter lawgivers would’ve demound worsen penance for thy misdemeanours. In kind, as a welcome guest lets bygones be of his proprietor’s o’ersights, untoward banters, tasteless tangents, loopy lapses, and descents into arcane argot and lore of inconsequence—belikewise, as a chile in the house of God, thou shalt be lithe whilst visiting the Hall of Metaphysicks (or the Temple of Theology, or the Ashram of Ontology, for that matter), and tolerate the company, voices, and thoughts expressed therein, at least awhile, afore ye pronounce them decrepit or defunct or dead or gone or over, or some other hasteful judgement. [Prv 18:2][43] Endeavour to sedulity, rather than repeateth oncemore that unsightly ritual by which legions of indolent lads and wenches fallst farst into an exile self-imposed, namely by fancying themselves born-again know-it-alls. They cloak their confusion in a blanket of condemnation, and relinquish to childish choler the prerogative to adjudge the qualities of a multitude of works, when really ’tis but their crippled sense of forbearance that refuseth to admit any wares for e’en the most liminary of inventories. [Prv 1:22][44] Forsaken of patience, they sabotage their avowed quest to illuminate, ending up lost in the woods—retracing their missteps, victims of their own interminable circuitry.”

ALP. Promethia hadst me secured to attain spiritual success, ready to be sealed in the scholarly sanctum for mine virginal session, whence, ast she departed, parled she once last: “In place of letting the quick of thy wit become a capricious censor, plod with patience at thy hardest core. [Heb 10:36][45] Elst the hillsides of lofty learning makest for toughgone treading, so long as yeest struggle shy of the surmountainous vantage by which ye can commence to fathom one’s uncommensurability with the sprawl supernal. There, once ye have peak’d the mound, patience manifests naturally, and doth not dissipate with the downclomb. [2 Pet 3:15][46] It holds on the horizon, even aft the descent, so long as ye can review the same perspective which scop’d it atop that lightening crest, and recogniz’d forthwith that paragon of perseverance whom sits astraddle an empyreal throne, spanning cosmos, awaiting calmly for being’s cease… So ’til thou hast crost that luminescent plateau, and met Patience in the flesh, recite to thineself what it is made of, learn it by heart, and put it into practice in one’s pilgrimage on the path to the One True Religion, and the future shall be yers, for ever and everest. Amen.” [Luk 21:19][47]

—Noah Gataveckas



Noah Gataveckas lives in Toronto with his partner Amanda and their newborn son Malcolm Raymond. He teaches Math and Computer Science at the high school level, as well as provides editing and consultative work to educational groups in Canada. He has previously published works for Numero Cinq, the Danforth Review, Platypus Review, and North Star. Aside from teaching and creative writing, his interests include critical theory and social activism. He also continues to work on finishing his first book – Symposium: A Philosophical Mash-up – and finding a publisher for it. ‘The Philosopher’s Progress’ is taken from chapter 13 of this unpublished manuscript.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. And he was afraid and said, ‘”How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
  2. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today.
  3. When he that is a fool walks by the way, his wisdom fails him, and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
  4. Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink; May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters.
  5. A third servant came and said, “Master, here is your original funding, which I laid away in a piece of cloth…
  6. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him…
  7. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called My Delight Is In Her, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.
  8. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.
  9. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
  10. Cast your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you…
  11. Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us by stealing? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And they stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies.
  12. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he might have something to share with anyone in need.
  13. He placed the breastplate on him and put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece.
  14. A prudent person forsees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
  15. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
  16. Soon the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord be with you.
  17. Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of our Lord is coming; for it is nigh at hand…
  18. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light…
  19. People will dwell in my shadows; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine…
  20. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another…
  21. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.
  22. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  23. …And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well.
  24. If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.
  25. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…
  26. If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the true faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  27. For even while we are with you, we give you this rule: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
  28. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
  29. The Lord said to me: “Write my answers plainly on tablets, so he who reads it may run with it…
  30. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and your virtue with knowledge…
  31. The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
  32. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  33. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
  34. The fool crosses his arms and starves himself.
  35. Stay alert! Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
  36. You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy.
  37. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our saviour…
  38. You shall not but the Lord to the test, as you did already…
  39. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  40. We urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are lazy and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
  41. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
  42. Let us not loose heart in doing good; for in due time, if we do not faint, we shall reap.
  43. Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behaviour brings contempt.
  44. How long, foolish ones, will you love ignorance? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
  45. For ye have need of patience, so that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.
  46. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation…
  47. By your patience you will win life.

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