5 Star Review by Larry Gray

The Apes of Eden – The Journey Begins by Jon P. Gunn

A review by Larry Gray

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The Apes of Eden – The Journey Begins

By Jon P. Gunn

My Rating

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Read January 27, 2014
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Kindle Version
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Book Review Disclaimer
The Apes of Eden – The Journey Begins by Jon P. Gunn is a fascinating read. I got caught up in the book and had a hard time putting it down.
Jon P Gunn wrote the book in “rhymed iambi pentameter thus falling into the category called heroic couplets. Each line has 10 syllables and the pairs of lines rhyme.” This follows the style of Geoffrey Chaucer and many of the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare. For me this made for a great read.
The author developed a story around spiritual restlessness using apes as his main characters as they travel through human history looking for God. He did a great job of taking a very deep, philosophical subject and creating a fictional look at it. The story was easy to follow and very well written. I really like the way Jon P. Gunn developed his characters and made them real and easy to identify with.
I really enjoyed reading The Apes of Eden – The Journey Begins by Jon P. Gunn and I recommend it to all readers.
[Please note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.]

The Apes of Eden – The Journey Begins is now available in Paperback

Createspace is a unique service that allows small publishers to quickly bring their books to print at a reasonable price.  The Apes of Eden is now available for $14.99 at this link

Here is the back cover description:

Can one literary work be an epic poem, a tutorial on philosophies from Mesopotamia to the present and a laugh-out-loud compendium of satirical humor? Welcome to The Apes of Eden – The Journey Begins.

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5 Star Review – Jim Bennett – Kindle Book Reviews

Alternate reality? Epic myth? or sheer entertainment?

by Jim Bennett, Kindle Book Reviews, Jim’s Blog

 

images   Review appearing on Amazon Kindle Store

This is an amazing and truly unique work. It is, if you like, an alternate history of an alternate Earth. As in much science fiction, our hero can conveniently understand every being he overhears; as in some modern plays, there are anachronisms; as in Shakespeare, everything is in iambic pentameter – and rhyming couplets to boot.

You will not be bored. It is also a good story, well told. As always, look up any word you’re not absolutely sure of. This author has a wide range of knowledge and sprinkles neat, obscure, and entirely appropriate words in what passes for a simple narrative. The versification is more like Robert Service’s narratives, telling a tale well. The repetitive rhyme scheme is so cleverly done that you will enjoy some of the harder rhymes.

Gunn has provided us with a classic mythological journey in the Joseph Campbell sense. In this world, humanity is not the dominant species. The apes are. They set out on a quest from Eden in search of God. The evolution of humanity has taken a different course. This is not our world, but much of our world’s philosophy is known here.

As an example of the whimsy in this unique volume, here the ‘author’ explains why a creator must exist: “Consider trees: Were trees one foot in height,/ how could we build our nests up high at night?/ Or fingernails: exactly where they ought /to grow. Without them, how could fleas be caught? /There’s no place on us where a flea can go /that can’t be scratched with finger or with toe; /so even we were planned, in each detail, /to be ourselves, from brain to fingernail. /This couldn’t all be chance. Please understand /this world did not ‘just happen’–it was planned ! This proves– /(He paused to puzzle through his scroll) /–that all these things are under God’s control!”

If you’re looking for raw humour, try this: “… When he sought /suggestions from the magic Scroll he’d brought, /he found that tribal wags, with peerless wit, /had rolled Repugnant Matter up in it. /We’d known he had a flair for words. Now he /displayed a talent for profanity.”

If you’re looking for the tiny carps, they are few. There might be one or two close rhymes (everything else is perfect.) There might be a typo or two. In a work of this size, these are ridiculously small carps. Back to the book, where the undaunted apes continue their quest: “Our leader called the Tribe in council, then/ (or what was left of it). He spoke again /of Pithecanic Destiny and such. /Our current woes, he said, were nothing much.”

There is an alternate version of heaven, expounded by a devil: “”I can’t describe the sense of uselessness /you’d feel, if you’d attained Eternal Bliss. /You sing the praise of God, but when you’re through /there’s simply no constructive work to do.”

There are strange moral questions too, as in this: “My expertise in teaching Virtue should /not be construed to mean I must be Good. /We Teachers only practice what we preach /when teaching student teachers how to teach!”

As for theology, Gunn has a mermaid priestess utter these words: “A god comes into being at the whim /of those with genuine belief in him /so there’s a mutual dependency /between believers and their deity.” Buy this book and read the rest of this passage slowly when you get to it; it’s a lot of fun and questions belief while also supporting it.

In the final third of the book, Gunn gives us a version of Satan’s temptation. Again, this is lightly done, cleverly disguising the careful thought and provocative content in a deceptively simple narrative. For example, the satanic figure claims, ‘my cause is just.’ You will laugh, and then be startled by what you are laughing at. The book ends with an epic battle between the apes and the underlord’s horde. No spoilers here; again, buy the book and just read and enjoy it.

Why five stars?

My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. Usually assigning the star count is the hardest part of a review, but in this case, it was the easiest. Gunn easily rates five stars. Trying to give you an appreciation for this work was the hard part, and I hope to have done an acceptable job. Extremely recommended.

Jim Bennett, Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

 

Jim Bennett is married and lives in Toronto. Jim has taught “Poetry Techniques for Prose Writers” in Sheridan College.  B.Sc. and M.Sc. in pure mathematics from UofT. Then I decided to learn how to be a human being. Married, worked at IBM and CIBC and some really interesting contracts. Three kids, four grandkids. Poetry began in my head in high school, and except for about three crippling years at UofT (M.P.C. was not a picnic) 

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The Apes of Eden: A Meaty Piece of Literature for the True Connoisseur

sheila

Sheila Dobbie is a prolific blogger and the author of the upcoming book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast, Surviving a Life-altering Experience by Skyesthelimit Publishing. You can Click Here to read her blog, Notes from the Pond

by Sheila Dobbie, host of Notes from the Pond

I must make a confession. I am a literary snob. That is the unfortunate by-product of possessing a degree in English and journalism and having approximately 40 years of writing and editing in my past.

I first discovered this about myself right after college when I tried to read the latest Jackie Collins novel everyone was raving about. I could barely make it to the end without gagging.  After years of studying the masters of American and world literature such as: Nathanial Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neil, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Chaucer, etc., etc., etc., I found I was spoiled.

After struggling to read several contemporary novels for the purpose of conversation, I finally gave up and have since devoted my time to mostly nonfiction and journalistic writings. (Yes, I did read all three of the Shades of Grey novels—Yuck!) However, something came to my attention recently that really grabbed my interest.

My agent asked me to review a newly released work of art called The Apes of Eden. It is an epic poem written in iambic pentameter examining the development of man, religion, and the quest for God. This sounds intimidating but don’t let this description deter you.

It is obvious the author, Jon P. Gunn, had fun writing, playing with ideas and words, and occasionally teasing the reader along the way. We see this on the title page which says: The Apes of Eden, The Journey Begins, as told by Literate Louis, the Scribe of the Tribe.

 

 

Literate Louie tells us in the very beginning:

My present goal is briefly to describe

the mighty deeds of Eden’s famous Tribe

from high antiquity to modern times

in lucid, readable Heroic Rhymes

that nearly any member of our band

with brains between his ears, can understand…

 

As they say, “this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea” and the author, via Literate Louis, knows this as he goes on to say:

…One type

of reader savors Art, the other, tripe.

There is no tepid “Middle Way” to go.

Like death, or pregnancy, it’s Yes or No—

 

However Literate Louie knows there will be a market for his work as he says:

I don’t expect my work to go to waste.

We have, among us, apes of cultured taste:

the Literate Elite. I write for those.

Let lowbrows read some Scribbler’s dreary prose.

 

As the reader continues through the history of the Apes of Eden, many classical pieces of literature and scenes from the Bible will spring to mind. We see scenes reminiscent of Greek mythology, Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost and others. Chapter titles such as Genesis, Exodus, The Fall, and David and the Cyclops give us a clue as to the influences upon the author.

Through the epic poem the author, Gunn, explores classic themes such as creationism versus evolution, pride before the fall, the validity of past historical and religious events, and the relationship between man (or in this case, Ape) and God.

we’ve always been as we exist today;

we neither dropped from Heaven nor arose

“by evolution” from our racial foes.

That open-ended past I can’t conceive,

nor do I know which theories to believe….

 

he’d met someone, he said, who’d thought it odd

that we, the Higher Apes, had not found God.

 

 

Who wants to be considered such a clod

he has to hedge when asked: Have you found God?

Let’s find the Deity!” our prophet cried,

and swung excitedly from side to side.

(Remember—these are apes)

 

The apes begin their journey out of Eden, past a gate guarded by a being with a flaming sword and continue lost and without direction through desert and mountain and many strange adventures. They go on and on in their quest for a Deity until the end of the book. Throughout this quest we are reminded of Moses guiding his people to the Promised Land and other legendary figures.

If I have a criticism of the book it is that it just ends. It ends without any conclusion or a neat summary package. They say in art you must know the rules in order to break them and I feel this is exactly what the author is doing. It is his wink at the reader as if to say, “That’s life.”  I understand this is the first of a trilogy so we can look forward to more in the future.

Every work of art has new discoveries to be found each time it is revisited. I found this true of The Apes of Eden. I have now read it about four times and each time I gleaned new information or a new insight. If you are hungry for a good read rather than the junk food and fluff that is fed to us in the commercial markets then look for The Apes of Eden by Jon P. Gunn at Amazon.com. It will be as satisfying as a good steak.

This is a must read for the “Literate Elite;” it is a classic in the making. So, I urge you to be among the first to read this gem and help spread the word. This is a treasure just waiting to be discovered.

 

I met my friend Sheila as a fortunate happenstance the morning after the Great Storm of 2012 that passed through Columbus that summer.  As her literary agent and website manager, I have encouraged her to finish her book to complete closure after the death of her husband and father very close together.  Peach Cobbler for Breakfast, Surviving a Life-altering Experience, will be published early in 2014.  Visit her blog at Notes from the Pond  –Ed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Reviews The Apes of Eden

4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive! October 25, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Right away, we learn that the narrator (a scribe) is experiencing a case of spiritual restlessness. He’s on a quest to learn more about his tribal history and theorizes the various possibilities of his tribe’s inception in Eden.This story has a philosophical tone and is told through the narrator’s subjective prism– which makes his character easy to connect with on a personal level. His uncertainty and hunt for answers is the driving force of this narrative, which is what kept me engaged and immersed in this adventurous journey.

“Apes of Eden” is elegantly crafted, whimsical, and witty. I enjoyed reading it and I know you will too.

5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly crafted October 25, 2013
By Lee
Format:Kindle Edition
A fresh take on ancient ideas, told through the lens of the future. Thought-provoking symbolism, witty commentary on the human condition, and a sense of humor that will leave you chuckling throughout… The Apes of Eden is a book you won’t want to put down!
5.0 out of 5 stars A scroll turner. October 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The Apes of Eden was my go to Friday/Saturday night read. I truly enjoyed reading this unique tale while enjoying a Merlot (or two). Creative, humorous, and entertaining! “The Apes” is a scroll turner. Kudos to Jon Gunn.
4.0 out of 5 stars intellectually beautiful October 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
A beautifully written story about our beginnings as human beings with lots of humor that will make you smile!!! Intellectually written and one that will become a favorite you will want to read over and over again!!

 

Apocalypse of Castor – What has man done to the environment?

THE APOCALYPSE OF CASTOR

 

It may be true that more of Earth is dry

and barren now than in the years gone by.

These ancient documents I’m sorting through

for history worth passing on to you

refer quite frequently to seas and lakes

or mountain forests cloaked with trees and brakes.

The fact that I myself have never seen

that sort of vegetation, doesn’t mean

such wooded highlands never did exist.

The Swamp, for instance, thick with fetid mist

and crocodiles and water snakes and all,

which many senior tribesmen still recall,

may be, a generation hence, dismissed

as dreamery by some mythologist.

“Our gaffers tell some good ones,” they will say

when present witnesses have passed away;

though many of us saw this, in our youth.

We shouldn’t hastily dismiss the truth

of anything the Tribal Archives say.

I try to meet mythology halfway.

 

The Beavers, in their artificial bogs,

who build their wigwams out of mud and logs,

had little use for apes; yet our first clue

that anyone outside our number knew

that God exists, was furnished by a sage

of Beaverkind, in that forgotten age.

Crude ogham symbols, gnawed on sticks, comprise

their tribal books–yet some of them were wise.

A brave of Eden, scouting to survey

a mountain valley, looking for a way

across a stream–some ford the Tribe could take–

surprised a beaver, near his homemade lake.

Our tribesman, moving stealthily between

the beaver and the water, wasn’t seen

until, confronting him with spear in hand

he challenged him, presenting his demand:

. “I’m not exactly hunting,” he declared,

“so maybe there’s a chance that you’ll be spared,

if you possess the common curtesy

to satisfy my curiosity.”

The beaver answered, in a level voice:

“I guess I haven’t got a lot of choice.”

Our tribesman asked him first which ford was best

and afterward described our tribal Quest:

“For centuries,” he said, “we’ve searched for God–

an enterprise which some consider odd.

Can you, or maybe someone else you know,

explain to me exactly where to go?”

He wasn’t pleased to hear the beaver say,

“Your tribe could waste a lot of time that way.”

“And would you call us fools for doing so?”

the ape demanded, javelin poised to throw.

“I’d better warn you, those who waste their breath

disputing our beliefs, get put to death!”

The beaver yawned, and nonchalantly said,

“I knew a wizard, once (now long since dead),

who had some ancient legends to relate.

There’s one I think you might appreciate.

Perhaps you’ll spare my life some moments more

to let me share this entertaining lore.

He told me he in turn had known a sage

who said he’d heard, at quite an early age,

from some historian his father met

–who’d gotten it from older sources yet–

this myth, to which our forebears once inclined:

“In long-forgotten ages out of mind

this Middle World was planned and built by God,

with sky and water, woods and brush and sod,

according to a well-intended plan

to make a home for Sentient Life. Then Man

was designated Guardian of Life

to moderate our ecologic strife

and intervene when some disruptive force

in Nature veered it from its normal course.

“But men devised a wholly different plan

than God envisioned, when the world began.

In human beings’ arrogant opinion

God had given them complete dominion

over all the land they could subdue

and everything that swam, or crept, or flew.

They also felt they had a valid deed

to ‘every tree with fruit which yieldeth seed.’

‘Replenish all the Earth; subdue the place;’

their Scripture told them. ‘Multiply thy race.

The fear of human beings, and the dread

shall be on every other creature’s head,

with everything which creepeth on the land

or swims the sea, delivered to thine hand.’

“In other words, they totally declined

responsibilities which God assigned,

and brashly took possession of the place

by dispossessing every other race.

Unkillable, few humans ever died.

Their greedy populations multiplied.

At first in scattered settlements, but then

in swelling multitudes, the tribes of men

appropriated forests, plains and hills,

remolding all the world to suit their wills.

Our forests toppled, not just bit by bit,

but acres every day, to make them fit

for ranches, towns and roads. They drained the bogs

and marshes, killing off the fish and frogs

and robbing waterfowl of needed space

to nest and raise their young. The human race

became unchallenged tyrants of the Earth

in every land throughout its length and girth;

and those adapting to their harsh behests,

who lived among them, were considered ‘pests.’

“Man saw creation as a gift to him,

to use according to his carefree whim,

so every patch of wilderness became

a challenge–something to subdue and tame.

The rivers could be used for dumping waste.

The ‘unproductive’ woodlands were replaced

with acres of prefabricated shacks,

or factories with richly-smoking stacks,

or sprawling highway mazes, nicely banked

for breakneck speed. Such roads were always flanked

with billboards, placed to shield the travelers’ eyes

from natural landscapes humans so despise.

The scenery that humans liked to see

was that reflecting ‘Human Industry.’

Until the vegetation was removed,

and concrete poured, they called it ‘unimproved.’

One thing a human being couldn’t stand

was unexploited, unproductive land.

He viewed each bush, or herb, or uncut tree

as ‘wilderness’–his hated enemy,

to be remolded to his own desire

with axe and plow, or steam and steel and fire.

Where water flowed, he rushed to fill it in

with cardboard, broken glass and rusty tin.

Unblemished bark of trees, and unmarred cliffs

were beautified with carved or painted glyphs.

Old beer cans and graffiti seemed to grace

the least-developed, most-unlikely, place.

Where dwindling tracts of old-growth timber stood,

the humans saw them as a source of wood.

The ground it occupied, until replaced

with streets and parking lots, had ‘gone to waste.’

To speed development of woods and plains,

they drenched such areas with acid rains.

The poison vapors from refineries

despatched unsightly flowers, grass and trees.

To staunch the flow of rivers, dams were built.

Dry channels filled with trash, dead fish, and silt.

The seas were beautified, with little toil,

by filming them with tankerloads of oil.

Pelagic life then decorated each

delightful, oily, carcass-littered beach.

The sky–that huge, oppressive pall of blue–

presented problems, but was conquered too:

the megatons of coal the humans burned

spewed forth its acrid overcasts, and turned

the azure hue to one which men preferred:

a yellow-gray unmarred by any bird.

The world was one enormous garbage can

for jetsam from the Industries of Man,

whose fondest aspiration was to make

a lifeless cesspool out of every lake,

a gravel pit or mine of every hill,

a sewer of every river, rank with swill.

They couldn’t stand the world the way things were

–or so their labors gave us to infer.

“To human beings, all the ‘lower’ breeds

existed to fulfill their ‘owners’ needs.

We beavers weren’t the only ones whose hide

became an ornament to human pride;

nor was our exploitation half as bad

as others’; beaver hats were just a fad.

For many, mankind’s interest didn’t pall

till species were extinct beyond recall.

Some birds were harvested for plumes. Some died

from eating hand-me-down insecticide.

Those species serving none of men’s behests

were locked in zoos, or massacred as pests.

The animals they’d captured and enslaved

were all the choosy humans wanted saved.

They penned the ungulates in captive herds

to breed for meat. They clipped the wings of birds

and caged them under artificial light

to dupe them into feeding day and night,

producing tender viands men preferred.

They genocided every beast or bird

that was by nature difficult to tame,

or poached on settled lands, in quest of game.

“Admittedly, all species have to eat.

Are wolves unethical, who slay for meat?

But humans killed from simple lust for blood,

and left their victims rotting in the mud.

Not many species managed to adapt,

and those who found themselves disliked, were trapped

in isolated plots of wilderness

whose acreage every year grew less and less,

and where fun-loving sportsmen roved at will

on well-paved roads, in search of things to kill.”

 

 

 

 

 

THE APOCALYPSE OF CASTOR (concluded)

 

“We beavers are a patient race. We’d learned

to wait till Balance naturally returned–

the classic Laissez-faire hypothesis,

which always worked in olden times. But this

held good no longer. Eighty centuries

of mankind’s unabashed atrocities

at last convinced us we would have to take

some urgent steps, correcting God’s mistake.

“Our wisest wizards came from far and near,

assembling on a hill, not far from here.

They spent a week or more in deep debate,

for their Responsibility was great.

They had an awesome Moral Choice to make:

to “wait and see”–or drastic measures take.

However they decided, they would be

maligned and hated for eternity

by God, by Nature, or by humankind–

no easy burden on a sentient mind.

They studied every issue hard and long.

In interfering, were they right or wrong?

“The fires of Industry were burning high.

Sulfuric acid vapors filled a sky

distinctly altered from its former hue

to yellow-gray, without a hint of blue.

The few remaining trees were stark and bare,

bereft of leaves by acid-laden air.

The barren hills were scored with deep ravines

where ores were rooted out by Man’s machines.

The seas were thick with oil and choked with waste.

The Earth was dying. There was need for haste,

the wizards all agreed. They could not wait.

In one more year, they’d be a year too late.

 

“For seven nights they watched the wheeling stars

till Saturn stood in quadrature with Mars.

Below the wizards’ hill a pit of slime

had processed garbage since the dawn of time–

a fit material for imagery

to represent depraved humanity.

A crumbling stonehenge lay in heaps nearby.

The Moon was on the cusp of Gemini,

and entering its most malefic phase.

The sky with evil omens was ablaze:

The Star of Sudden Changes, Uranus,

was in the Human Sign, Aquarius,

and would, a fortnight hence, afflict the Sun.

“Our wizards all agreed what must be done,

and saw they had to finish their design

before the Moon arrived in Saturn’s Sign.

They gathered gruesome objects to enrich

the Symbolism of the slimy pitch–

the teeth and entrails of poisoned rats,

the legs of roaches and the fangs of bats,

the eyes and tongues of vultures who had died

from eating carrion killed by pesticide.

The brain and heart and kidneys of a Sloth,

whose species men destroyed, enriched the Broth.

However they abhorred their ghoulish work,

this race with death was one they couldn’t shirk;

and as they worked the wizards chanted low

a Spell recalled from countless years ago

when raw, primeval Chaos used to range

the world, before the Age of Cyclic Change.

The words were harsh and horrible to hear,

inspiring even wolverines with fear.

“The beaver wizards labored thirteen days

to trap the mutagenic lunar rays.

They dredged up mounds of pitch, and then began

to mold them into effigies of Man.

One dozen images, there had to be,

depicting humankind in travesty.

On each of these, a potent Ogham rune

directed emanations from the Moon,

to harness and control its fickle rays

in slow, and relatively-harmless, ways–

for beavers do not act from mere revenge.

“They dragged the loathsome icons to the ‘henge

to place among the ruins, in a row.

The sickled Moon emerged from Scorpio.

The time remaining just sufficed for us.

As Luna traversed Sagittarius,

the wizards drew the Trifid Heptagon

–the ghastly Pentacle of Babylon–

and sang an ancient sorcery, so old

its age would never be believed, if told,

and so horrendous in its potency

that some who heard them lost their sanity.

The Moon turned black, conjoined the setting Sun

and entered Capricorn.

“The task was done.

A blast of lightning ripped the murky sky

from Ursa Major clear to Gemini.

An angry roar of thunder shook the world.

From sundered mountains, flaming rocks were hurled.

Our chanting wizards cringed in guilty fear,

and wished they’d never chosen their career.

The very bedrock, outraged by their spell,

gave violent shudders, felt as far as Hell;

and out across the Middle World a horde

of unseen, liberated Demons poured:

the minions of the Spell, who would enforce

far-reaching changes in the future’s course.

Then all subsided, in a pall of death.

For forty minutes, no one heard a breath.

 

“Ostensibly, the world remained unchanged–

except that certain Stars were rearranged.

The Star of Sudden Changes had regressed,

and was conjoined with Venus, in the west.

The once-familiar astrologic signs

were twisted into nameless new designs.

The baneful Pleiades had shifted east

so Pluto’s latent rays had been released

by quincunx aspect with them. Mercury

was combust, having shifted one degree.

“Astronomers among the human race

were baffled: How could stars be out of place

according to their telescopes and books?

“The beavers were exchanging knowing looks

in conscience-stricken silence. Very few

of Earth’s inhabitants knew what they knew,

or bore the monstrous burden in their hearts

that meddling with the Universe imparts.

They’d acted slowly and with great restraint,

but knew they bore a lifelong moral taint.

“Though still the chimneys smoked, and boilers burned,

and slag-heaps sprawled, and Wheels of Progress turned,

the Spell was woven. Humankind was cursed.

The wizards, burdened with regrets, dispersed.

 

“One year thereafter, every time the Moon

grew full enough to activate a rune,

it made some supernatural form replace

another twelfth of all the human race.

They suddenly awoke to find themselves

transformed to pixies, goblins, sprites or elves,

with all the special attributes of mind

and outward shapes peculiar to each kind.

As elves and dryads, they forsook their homes

and looked for wooded country. Trolls and gnomes

bored into hillsides. Towns of humankind

deprived of their inhabitants, declined

to hamlets in the midst of ghost towns, then

to ruins, then to wilderness again.

With passing years, the skies began to clear

as rainfall rinsed the filthy atmosphere.

Resurgent Nature slowly spread again

across the asphalt deserts built by men.

 

“And thus,” the beaver said, “our timely aid

repaired the tragic blunder God had made

in giving humans regency of Earth–

a role in which they showed their real worth.

The human race, divided into twelve

went separate ways to fly or swim or delve

in air, and earth, and water; and enjoy

the world they once had labored to destroy.

And, legend says, our wizards’ mighty curse

went on for years creating forms diverse

to which those twelve new shapes of humankind

were further subdivided and refined.

I’m sure there must be more than twelve today–

some half a hundred at the least, I’d say;

yet every type believes itself to be

the True Original Humanity.

“With Man dispersed, we other sentient forms

of life resumed our old instinctive norms,

on plain or mountain safely to reside,

no longer under threat of genocide.

That’s why the world’s the way it is today

with creatures living every natural way,

instead of making each minority

conform to mankind’s harsh priority–

and humankind itself transmuted to

the supernatural beings known to you,

confined to native forest, field and fen,

from which we’ll never let them rise again!

“But, as I said, I heard this long ago.

You say I’ve called you fools? That isn’t so;

for though this tale’s recorded in our lore,

Not even fools believe it any more.”

 

And while the ape debated what to do,

the beaver, with a splash, was out of view.

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Prologue and Invocation

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Genesis

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A fresh look at Greek Philosophy from The Apes of Eden by Jon P. Gunn

Excerpt from The Classicist

Chapter 6 in the Book of Antiquities, The Apes of Eden by Jon P. Gunn

 

All Metaphysics and Theology

arose in Classical Antiquity.

Despite their later imitators’ claim

it was the Greeks from whom these concepts came–

specifically from Aristotle: the

most famous Founder of Philosophy.

All philosophic systems later wrought

were footnotes, nothing more, to Grecian Thought.”

 

“I think,” the ape remarked, “that kind of lore

might be the very thing we’re looking for.

I used to have a Book I tried to bring

from home, explaining just that sort of thing.

I’d have it still–except some pranksters’ tricks

did damage to it that I couldn’t fix.

If you could summarize a theme or two

from Grecian Thought, I’d be obliged to you.”

 

“I wouldn’t mind a bit,” the centaur said,

“and in your Quest you’ll come out far ahead

if you confine your search for wisdom to

the course of study I define for you.

The philosophic field has come to be

a blend of nonsense with absurdity.

Aspiring students have to pick and choose

with utmost care, lest they their minds confuse

with sterile theorizings which engage

all thinkers since the classic Golden Age.

Originators in Philosophy

gave way to those whose object seemed to be

investigating those who, earlier,

reviewed the works of some philosopher

who had composed a critical review

of someone who had written something new

about the valid  science, deep and vast,

originating in the classic past.

With critics criticizing critics, you

can see no useful  work was left to do.

Post-classical philosophy is all

a trap in which unwary students fall

to waste their lives and intellects–unless

they’re wisely warned, and level heads possess.”

“Our goal is Valid Knowledge,” said the Sage,

“and not in Speculation to engage.

If all  the valid thinking has been done

by Greeks, that’s good enough for anyone.”

He found a seat upon a root of oak,

and listened closely, as the centaur spoke.

“The Greeks were first to place the emphasis

on Observation and Analysis,”

the centaur started in.  “By this they laid

the grounds for all the progress later made.

The Greeks were also first successfully

to search for Generalized Validity.

They learned to reach beyond details of fact

and seek conclusions general and abstract.

They gave us Mathematics, as a base

for all the Sciences the biped race

in later ages managed to devise–

for which the ‘Moderns’ deemed themselves so wise.

They gave us Logical Analysis,

on which we place all present emphasis.

Among their many contributions, they

presented, in a systematic way,

their treatments of some basic questions: those

which in still-older times and cultures rose.

“The first of these they chose to emphasize

was ‘That From Which’ existent things arise:

the branch of science called Ontology–

the Basic Nature of Reality.

“In making lists, the classic custom’s been

with Thales of Miletus to begin.

He made his mark as an astronomer,

geometrician and philosopher.

Without appealing to Tradition, he

proposed that Ultimate Reality

was Water.  This he logically inferred

because this basic element occurred

in ample quantities; and, as we know,

without it, not a blade of grass could grow.

The later answers to this question ranged

from ‘Elements,’ which though themselves unchanged

produced in varied combinations those

materials from which Existence rose–

on up through concepts of ‘the Infinite,’

so called because one cannot say that it

is one thing or another.  It alone

can any substance be, from air to stone,

according to its relative degree

of rarefaction or condensity.

It was Anaximander who devised

the concept that ‘the Infinite’ comprised

the Substance of the Universe.  The mind

rejects the notion that some special kind

of matter typifies them all.  He found

it should be unrestricted, have no bound.

By saying matter has no ‘normal’ state

he managed early to anticipate

the view of ‘modern’ chemists, who agree

that ‘everything consists of Energy,’

which we’re familiar in every form

except   its typifying, standard’ norm.’

“But Anaximenes believed that Air

was typical of Substance. Though quite rare

while in its natural state, it also could

be densified to water, fire or wood;

and if compacted into solid blocks

is just as indigestible as rocks.

“He also managed to anticipate

the ‘modern’ theory that a silicate,

subjected to extremes of heat, will then

split into silicon and oxygen.

And oxygen, as surely you’re aware

is the most vital element of air!

“The most ingenious metaphysic was

the observation, by Pythagoras,

that Number must the Basic Substance be,

since every Thing has size and quantity,

and, whether it is moving or at rest,

abides by laws numerically expressed.

Pythagoras was foremost to insist

the Soul and Body separately exist,

and that one’s Soul, at death, will transmigrate

to start life over, in Some Other State.

“The controversy over Permanence

and Change was also much in evidence.

The Eleatic, Zeno, strove to prove

that even speeding arrows cannot move:

At each successive  instant, arrows were

at rest, therefore no motion could occur,

just as no ‘separation’ we define

between adjacent  points along a line.

An object cannot  change position.  First

one-half the distance has to be transversed.

Before that midpoint, it must first attain

one quarter of the distance–but in vain,

for eighth, sixteenth, and thirty-second parts

must first be reached.  So motion never starts–

it wastes its time at points along a line

which is divided ‘infinitely fine.’

“The difficulties in resolving these

conundrums soon engendered tendencies

toward Gnostic Relativity–the view

that nothing’s ever absolutely true.

The Truth as such  can never be removed

from what some clever Sophist claims he’s proved,

so nothing’s known  except to that extent

that we’re convinced of it, by Argument.

“But Socrates turned up in time to give

the Sophists’ view that ‘Truth is Relative’

a well-deserved critique.  The Sophists feel

that nothing much, if anything, is Real.

One aspect of the Knowledge Problem lay

(as Socrates insisted) in the way

the Sophists use the ambiguities

of words to ‘prove’ whatever ‘truths’ they please.

He thought this pointed up the urgent need

for Rules of Rhetoric that all could heed

–some formalized criteria, by which

contestants in debate could make their pitch

and yet not leave unbiased judges with

the vague impression they had proved a myth.

“A precept often stressed by Socrates

(and hardly anybody disagrees)

is Reason’s Duty to examine things,

exempting nothing from our questionings.

‘The unexamined life,’ he always said,

‘need not be lived; one might as well be dead.’

He also stipulated: ‘Questioning

must be constructive–not the sort of thing

that undermines an honest point of view

without replacing it with something new.’

“Since Reasoning Ability is viewed

as Humankind’s Distinctive Aptitude,

and since it is incumbent on a man

to make himself as human  as he can,

Morality–so Socrates opined–

is using and developing the Mind.

“This train of logic leads us to suspect

that Virtue’s locus is the Intellect.

The essence of one’s Virtue therefore lies

between the ears and just behind the eyes.

To that extent that human being lack

Sound Judgment, are their moral standards slack.

The disadvantages  of evil were

the damage done to one’s own character.

No normal person voluntarily

elects to do himself an injury–

the problem is, we don’t all realize

exactly where our best self-interest lies.

We therefore many evil choices make

despite  self-interest, simply by mistake!

If malefactors only knew  this fact

they’d have the sense to think before they act.

“No axiologist since Socrates

has solved the Values Issue with such ease;

yet ‘moderns’ now refuse to recognize

that evil deeds from Ignorance arise.

Dismissing Socrates as ‘out of date,’

they fudge, and theorize, and obfuscate,

too stubborn to admit the issue’s solved

and Error is the only thing involved.

“In Socrates and in his followers

we meet those eminent philosophers

of long-enduring, well-deserved repute

whose basic contributions constitute

the main traditions in the history

of Western science and philosophy.

In Plato’s The Republic  he relates

the salient features of Ideal States,

where measures will be taken to insure

for every citizen a lineage pure,

and equal opportunity for all

to find a social niche, then rise or fall

according to one’s own abilities–

one’s aptitudes and fallibilities.

Prospective statesmen who perform the best

on Euclid’s books (by some objective test)

advance, because this talent we equate

with that required to run Affairs of State.

By this selective process, judges find

and elevate the Philosophic Mind.

The truly qualified will never stop

advancing till they make it to the Top:

that is, the Council of the Truly Wise

who would the central government comprise.

Those few who understand the True and Good

receive the posts an Archimedes should,

and higher concepts learn of Deity

in place of popular mythology.

“In Plato’s scheme, an indolent buffoon

needs more endowments than a silver spoon.

If necessary, to eliminate

all nepotistic tendencies, the State

will overrule the Family, taking charge

of offspring, who’ll be raised as ‘kids at large,’

eliminating, to a great extent,

the Last Resort of the Incompetent–

a doting father who, besides a Name,

supplies the bribes to pave his way to fame.

Is it not strange to note, since Plato died,

not once  has his ingenious plan been tried!

“Few intellects by later ages hatched

have Aristotle’s Analytics  matched

for thoroughly-objective and exact

analysis of scientific fact.

His books were much consulted, first by peers

and then Scholastics, for two thousand years.

“In brief, as any Sophomore can see,

the Golden Age of Greek Philosophy

had kicked all questions thoroughly around

and every possible Solution found.

No new addition to these crowded shelves

can add to what the Greeks devised themselves.

“And so,” the centaur summarized, “you see

that in the study of Philosophy,

the careful student must avoid the snares

of everything since Aristotle.  There’s

a Labyrinth awaiting, like the Pit,

and nothing gained by getting lost in it,

for those who venture past the Golden Age

of Grecian Thought, by even half a page. . .

 

“And now, if you’ll excuse me, I believe

since Dusk approaches, both of us should leave.

If we delay, we’re apt to meet with more

‘fair game’–like that atrocious minotaur.

My life’s not charmed, and I’m afraid I might

be still less fortunate, unarmed, by night.”

The centaur heaved the Carcass to his back,

and turned to face along the forest track.

With one last word of thanks for all the good

the Sage had done, he set off through the wood.

 

The Sage sat thinking, making mental note

of headings for a book he later wrote,

until he, also, apprehensive grew

at pending dusk, and prudently withdrew.