The Apes of Eden – The Age of Thinkers by Jon P. Gunn

The Age of Thinkers covers a time when the tribe reflected on their philosophy and their theology. According to reviewer Jim Bennett, “You will probably laugh, as I did, at some of the ‘logical’ developments of thought, about Earth, God, Creation, the Trinity, and Prophets.” This is Book 5 of the Apes of Eden Saga. Coming Soon, The Writings of Louie.

Available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99 and Kindle Unlimited

Paperback onCreatespace for $10

 

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.

I’m kinda glad you got us in this fix–

you never let me do my magic tricks.

In the year 19067, a tribe of killer apes leaves Eden in search of God. They face evil creatures from Hell and Heaven alike. The story is told in the words of Literate Louie, the Scribe of the Tribe.

A tribe of killer apes living an idyllic life in the Garden of Eden begins a monumental quest to search the post-apocalyptic Earth in search of God. The Journey Begins is the first of a trilogy. The Apes of Eden is written in iambic pentameter. It is a humorous look at religion and philosophy through the eyes of an intelligent ape.

The Apes of Eden is written in rhymed iambic pentameter thus falling into the category called heroic couplets. Each line has 10 syllables and the pairs of lines rhyme.

While many lines were written in 10 syllables in very early Latin, it was Geoffrey Chaucer who added the meter and originated iambic pentameter in the English Language which was further immortalized in many plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare.

Jon P. Gunn wrote The Apes of Eden over a period of many, many years beginning as a teenager. He read Spenser, Chaucer, Dante and Cervantes. Many oddball philosophies, from solopsism to deism are explored and mocked. Allusions to a broad spectrum of myths and canons are made.

Jon never graduated from college even though he had twice the number of hours to graduate. He was too busy reading the great works of literature to bother. He shared his work with a friend. It is that man and his friend, Rick Lakin who are bringing you Jon’s work. We think it’s very good. We hope you do too.

The Apes of Eden is written in Rhymed Iambic Pentameter thus falling into the category called Heroic Couplets. Each line has 10 syllables and the pairs of lines rhyme.

While many lines were written in 10 syllables in very early Latin, it was Geoffrey Chaucer who added the meter and originated iambic pentameter in the English Language which was further immortalized in many plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare.

Harpies and Heretics

That brings my record past the Hero Age
and into one of Scholar, Scribe and Sage-
a sort of “passing phase in evolution.”
Thinkers found no permanent solution
to the questions Eden’s Tribe pursued,
and wrought no basic change of attitude.
It was an aberration, as you ‘ll see,
in Eden’s long-term tribal history.

As we had wandered over hill and plain
our Faith had undergone tremendous strain.
In all the lands our questing Tribe had trod
no race except our own believed in God.
And once we stopped, and had some time to think,
new questions rose, which pushed us to the brink
of Skepticism. Eden’s first great Sage
who led us from our homeland (in an age
long buried in antiquity by then)
had made his main appeal to tribal yen
for Novelty. Since then, much time had passed;
and now we found his word was not the last
as far as evidence and logic went.
Though Eden’s bounty might be Heaven-sent,
the same could not be said of lands we’d long
become aware were built completely wrong–
nor of the world at large. We could have thought
of ninety ways it might be better wrought.

Without the sun, nocturnal winds were chill.
They made us shiver by our fires, until
the sun arose at dawn to warm the air–
then, all too soon, became a scorching glare
that hammered on our heads and shoulders, and
rebounded from the glowing, smoking sand.
All day we longed for evening cool, but then
confronted night’s remorseless cold again.

It wasn’t hard to think of better ways
to plan the cycles of the nights and days.
It would, for instance, be a real boon
if sunshine went through phases, like the moon,
so that its full intensity would roast
our hides one week of every month, at most.
Or else, if days were just a fourth as long,
the sun would not have time to wax so strong.

An even better way it could be done
would be to tilt the axis of the sun;
had it around the Earth’s horizon gone,
we’d always be enjoying dusk or dawn.
With neither noonday heat nor night’s cold breeze,
we wouldn’t alternately scorch and freeze.

Again, we knew that God created land
to give terrestrials a place to stand;
but what could He have had in mind when He
created it in endless quantity?
This vast expanse was clearly not designed
with those who went in search of God in mind;
it separated us from distant goals,
and bruised our feet, and overwhelmed our souls.

And other qualities the cosmos had
–although we couldn’t call them good or bad-
were inexplicable, as if designed
expressly to confuse the mortal mind.
For instance, shells are grown in lakes and seas,
and yet we scribes can find them where we please.
Whole epics, scratched on strings of shells, describe
the triumphs and misfortunes of the Tribe.
The plains are strewn with shells, and in the hills
they’re found by handsful in the arid ghylls.
But how could shells have come from sea to land?
Such oddities were hard to understand.
If God had wanted desert lands like these
producing shells, He should have made them seas.
Some said there had been seas here, long before;
but this was speculation, nothing more.

Nor had our long-enduring faith been crowned
with much success–since God remained unfound.
Was this the way a Quest for God was meant
to be–or were we just incompetent?
Or was it possible that God preferred
His privacy, as some of us inferred?
In other words, was Satan’s lying tale
true after all, that we were doomed to fail?

These burning questions and a hundred more
were undermining our esprit-de-corps.
My records never mention apes who went
completely atheistic; but we spent
another thousand years in hot dispute
of philosophic issues deep and moot.

The first recorded mention of this trend
was in the Briny Desert, at the end
of one terrific war we had to fight
against some human beings, for our right
to ransack their oasis for the Word.
That race of men had mimed some kind of bird.
No angels, these. Along their arms they grew
a flange of pinions, and with these they flew.*
Their feet were modified to grasping claws
much like a hawk’s. Instead of human jaws
they’d bone-hard lips, everted into beaks
with which their noses fused. These human freaks
built dwellings, like their congeners, but quite
distinctive: towers of enormous height.
They mainly occupied the upper floors,
and entered through the windows, not the doors.
In fact, though ground-floor entrances were found,
the only birds who entered at the ground
instead of windows many stories high
were those too young, or old, or sick, to fly.

_______
*An angel’s wing is much more deftly made:
a hypertrophic, feathered shoulder blade
which makes him, technically, a “hexopod”
created by a special act of God.
________
Not unexpectedly, they turned us down
when we requested leave to search their town,
and left us no alternative to war–
as nearly all their kind had done before.
We mounted yet another fell attack,
out-fought the harpies’ flock, and drove them back
until they had to seek the safety of
the easily-defended spires above.
We found material for rams, and staved
the portals in, then resolutely braved
the boiling oil the harpies tried to pour
upon us as we climbed from “floor to floor”
–a term I use advisedly. Inside
each tower where the harpies tried to hide
we found one single undivided room
without a ceiling, which was seen to loom
at stellar altitude. Across this shaft
were two-by-fours, on which they perched and laughed -.
There were no “floors,” just joists on which they hopped,
bespattered with the mess the birds had dropped.
The real floor was also heaped with moist,
fresh droppings, mostly underneath each joist.

They laughed too soon. Since prehistoric time,
we apes have naturally known how to climb.
We scaled the crisscrossed two-by-fours with ease,
as if performing on the high trapeze,
while dodging missiles dropped from overhead
by desperate defenders as they fled.
We fought them to their topmost perches. There
they dived through windows, taking to the air.
They fled in all directions. Weeks went by
while we pursued, as far as they could fly.
When they by sheer exhaustion had been downed,
the braves of Eden slew them on the ground.

When all of them were dead, we stopped a while,
and occupied their town, to live in style-
but not inside the messy, floorless towers
built for their convenience, not for ours.
Their stables, granaries and cowsheds were
–for comfort–quite a bit superior.

As usual, we heard our Chief describe
the honor, might and glory of the Tribe,
while gathered braves’ enthusiastic screech
provided punctuation for his speech.

One ape, there was, inclined to disagree.
“Was genocide essential?” argued he.
“What tangible advantage have we gained
by making sure that not a soul remained?
These battles that we’ve almost always won
have paid off insults; but what have they done
toward realizing nobler tribal dreams?
Why must all skeptics die? To me it seems
there must be better ways to prove the truth
of our convictions to the world’s uncouth.
Our victories keep heaping on my head
the tacit maledictions of the dead.”

This school of thought subsided rapidly
when we had hanged its founder to a tree.

The Briny Desert was so aptly named!
The only areas that could be tamed
by apes or human beings were a few
oases. Elsewhere nothing ever grew.
Between the scattered green spots on the plain
the only water fit to drink was rain
which almost never fell. We’d sometimes think
we’d found a lake or pond, and try to drink,
and learn that we could guzzle till we burst
without the least diminishing our thirst.

The Tribe marched on. No stop was very long.
Discordant voices in our ranks grew strong;
and harsh suppression was no longer used
because the Chief himself became confused.
He knew dissent was wrong, but couldn’t quite
decide which views were wrong and which were right.
If he endorsed one view, on private whim,
then all the Tribe might disagree with him;
and that, the Chief predicted, might be bad.
He wasn’t quite the dumbest Chief we’ve had.

Our days were spent in travel; but our nights
were spent in arguments, which led to fights.
We covered lots of philosophic ground
as well as salt flats. All our most profound
disquietude and speculation grew
from cosmic flaws that were so plain to view.
In such a universe as this one, could
there be a God omnipotent and good?
The blunders of creation seemed to be
too gross to be ascribed to Deity.

Some tribesmen thought they could, and that this land
was good in ways too deep to understand.
Apparent flaws, which mortals counted odd,
revealed occult, unfathomed ways of God
Whose intellect performed at such a height
no ape could know what He considered right.
The very worst of sandstorms may be found
ideal for moving tons of sand around
to redistribute over other lands
for Purposes no mortal understands.
A rattlesnake–our racial enemy-
might benefit this sparse ecology
on desert lands, by thinning out some breed
of rodents who on vegetation feed
and–but for snakes–would overrun the land
and, by sheer numbers, strip it down to sand.
The fact these lands existed left no doubt
that their Creator relished dust and drought
for reasons which we hardly understood
but which, we could be sure, were Right and Good.

This answer seemed to reaffirm God’s powers,
but failed to prove He was a Friend of ours.

So other sages, apes of high repute,
proposed this answer to the Great Dispute
which didn’t satisfy the Tribe for long:
At first creation, nothing much was wrong;
till human tribes, and other misfit life,
had introduced an element of strife,
remolding Nature to their perverse tastes
(which seemed to run to arid, barren wastes),
or uglifying Nature with such tricks
as cutting mountains up in cubic bricks
to build their dwellings, as we’d seen them do.

But there were grave objections to this view:
It might account for this or that detail,
but, generally applied, was quick to fail.
If drought was humans’ handiwork, why, then,
was this “remodeled” land devoid of men?
The stony ruins were the humans’ fault;
but could–or would–they turn the lakes to salt?

Another theory, with a sounder base
in observation, was: the only place
that God Himself had made was Eden’s land.
That might explain why immigrants were banned:
He wouldn’t want His private hunting ground
despoiled by apes and beasts from all around.
The theory was that Lucifer had made
the world. To him, not God, the fault was laid.
This theory saved our faith in God’s intent,
but made Him seem not-quite-omnipotent.

A further difficulty with it was
the Tribe had left our ancient home because
we’d hoped to find the Deity somewhere.
We would, of course, have stayed, had God been there.
It wasn’t very plausible to say
that God, disliking Eden, went away
to live in deserts Lucifer designed,
where mere subsistence was a chore to find.

So tribal orthodoxy fell apart.
To build a new one, where was one to start?
Our only bond of gnostic unity
was that no two dissenters could agree,
and thus presented no “subversive cause”
that might have challenged Eden’s tribal laws.
Our classic views remained at any rate
as starting points from which to deviate.
We had to tolerate dissent, because
we weren’t quite sure what orthodoxy was.
We’d thought we knew; but now that questions were
debated openly, we weren’t so sure.
Our theories needed data not supplied.
If we could find some facts, we could decide.
Our need for solid facts was growing strong.
We’d have to find some clues, before too long,
or Eden’s long-enduring Tribe would be
beset with Crises of Identity.

The Philosophical Enterprise

 

As if the salt flat wasn’t harsh enough,
the land we now approached was really rough.
We’d find no more oases; that we knew.
Beyond this last one, all that lay in view
was blistered desert, glowing hotly red–
all right for frying eggs, no place to tread.
A few intrepid scouts continued; then,
with toasted feet, came hopping back again.
As much as we’d have liked to forge ahead,
this natural barrier had stopped us dead.

Until that time our custom was to steer
directly west, unless compelled to veer;
but what, exactly, is “Compulsion”? If
one comes upon a chasm, lake or cliff,
and no convenient way across is found,
one either has to stop, or go around.
One has to veer. But indications are
we sometimes let ourselves be swayed too far
too easily. Convenience, more than need,
determined which direction we’d proceed.
The humans also traveled on the plain
(for reasons crass, commercial and mundane),
so if we followed cart tracks here and there
across the sands, at least we got somewhere.
Although we’d find no dazzling truths to learn,
at least there’d be a town to sack and burn.
And, later on, when we resumed the Quest,
we chose a trail that led us almost west.

A seeker after Truth should not avail
himself of every pre-established trail;
yet he who strikes out boldly on his own
may find himself forsaken and alone.
We tried that also, many times–at first-
and nearly died of hunger, heat and thirst.
In deserts there were no more clues to find
than in the settlements of humankind;
and trackless routes due westward often took
us into dull and dreary spots to look.
So who am I to say, in retrospect,
we never should have wandered, as we trekked?
Our forebears took whatever trail impressed
them as the quickest way to end the Quest.
The situation, now, was not the same.
The only trail led back the way we came.
Ahead lay desert, lifeless, stark and vast,
a prospect leaving even us aghast.
We clearly saw the fatal aftermath
of sticking to the Straight and Narrow Path;
yet actually admitting our mistake
and turning back, was more than we could take.
In tribal council, most of us agreed
we dared not forge ahead, nor yet recede.
That really left us no alternative
except to stop, and find some way to live
until some tribal genius had evolved
some means by which the problem could be solved.

This was by far the longest of our stops.
We even tried our hand at planting crops.
We found a long-abandoned human town
and had, before we knew it, settled down,
postponing–week by week and year by year-
resuming our itinerate career.

Our Quest, it seemed, might be deferred a while.
Meanwhile, our Thirst for Knowledge to beguile,
we started sifting theologic facts
from long-accumulated scribal tracts.
It started with a sage of some renown,
who said, “We shouldn’t let this get us down.
We’ve gathered information since the year
we left our tribal home, to end up here.
There must be something, in some tribal text,
that tells us how to go about it next.
It still might be a problem we can whip-
let’s try some hermeneutic scholarship!”

With desert all around us, bleak and wide,
we’d little contact with the world outside-
a situation which inclined us more
to quiet scholarship than holy war.
For centuries, the best the Tribe could do
was inventory everything we knew
from records scribes had treasured since the age
when we were led from Eden by our Sage.
Our documents and sources, sad to say,
were largely myths from that forgotten day,
transcribed as told by gaffers of the Tribe,
somewhat revised by each successive scribe-
free-wheeling sagas of the Good Old Days
which different gaffers told in different ways,
and scribes embellished, either on their own,
or else from sources known to them alone.

Our tribal books are bulkier today
than once they were; but even then, they say,
the records we had kept of past events
made grist for dialectic eloquence.
The hints we’d heard, throughout the Hero Age,
were re-examined, word by line by page.
There wasn’t much in tribal history
that helped us solve the Cosmic Mystery.
Specific data that our scholars found
was often based on insubstantial ground.
The documents were scraps of stone and shell
which scribes had treasured long–but not as well
as one might wish. They’d been through many plights:
employed as missiles in the heat of fights,
regathered later–if they could be found–
stuffed back in sacks and ported all around.
A sack of rocks can come in handy. There’s
a host of uses. Ours were used as chairs,
or heavy-duty blackjacks in a brawl.
The wonder is that they survived at all.
Those lost in war, catastrophe and storm
were later on recalled, in garbled form.
Odd bits of poetry turned up among
those strings of shells that broke, and were restrung;
and unexpected endings got attached
to songs and sagas that they hardly matched.
In time, of course, the archives came to be
a potpourri of myth and history–
a quarter ton of ill-assorted trash,
with one part truth to ten parts balderdash.

Despite the nature of our documents
our efforts weren’t without accomplishments.
We pieced together mutilated sherds
interpolating crucial missing words,
and thus ingeniously restored the lore
misplaced by scribes and chroniclers of yore.
Then theologians undertook to sleuth
these reconstructed records for the Truth.
By arts not known to every common clod,
they learned which scraps were valid words of God,
and which were altered, and to what extent,
and what the baffling contradictions meant.
Construing every passage twenty ways,
we left each other in a gnostic daze.
Manipulating jigsaw-puzzle texts
gave rise to multiplicity of sects.
We’d prove, by quoting some authority
in old, authentic codices (which we
devised by rearranging broken sherds)
mystiques for which we lacked expressive words,
inventing–then abusing–terms abstruse
which experts coined, expressly for this use.
By methods which to them alone were couth,
they’d wrestle out some grudging, makeshift Truth,
to use as premises for sound conclusions
free of errors, bias or delusions.

Ages passed before we realized
what manuals of madness we’d devised.
Quite early in this period we faced
such questions as: On what is Knowledge based?
Can such a thing as Certitude exist?
In what does valid Evidence consist?
Can one be certain that the formal laws
of Logic don’t embody subtle flaws?
What errors might some Higher Test detect
if Logic’s rules are slyly incorrect?

Those apes who’d spent their whole careers in search
of sound apologetics for the Church
were sometimes irked by questions such as these
and prone to brush them off as heresies;
but socially-responsive sages tried
to show that scholarship was justified.
They said although the Archives were in sad
condition, they were still the best we had.
By junking them completely, we’d forsake
our tribal Quest–a choice few apes would make. ·
And Logic, though depending heavily
upon the thinker’s objectivity,
was still the way the pithecanic mind
was built to operate–as one would find
trying to derive conclusions sure
through modes of thinking more or less impure.
At last our thinkers’ purely-scholarly
research began to lose its novelty.
The climate of the times was growing ripe
for theologians of less formal type
who didn’t think conclusions must perforce
depend upon a documented source.
The Naturalistic School of thought averred
that scribal lucubrations were absurd.

“The proofs that God exists,” they said, “abound,
if one will only take a look around;
for all about us, earth and sky and air
attest that Someone must have put them there.”

No logical objection could be found
to reasoning so manifestly sound,
until the Naturalistic School became
a self-refuting theologic game.
They couldn’t rest content with what they’d proved,
but piled up theories many times removed
from observations tangible and clear
to which they still pretended to adhere.

For instance, it was “obvious,” they said,
the God must have at least one extra head,
so while Head One could get its sleep at night,
Head Two could guide the stars’ nocturnal flight.
Another school could prove the heads were three.
Thus rose the Doctrine of the Trinity.
Some thought the tricephalic concept odd,
and settled for a polymorphous God–
one Aspect stayed in Heaven, one on Earth,
and one just sort of flitted back and forth;
and took no major action on his own,
his office being one of liaison.
Some theologues thought God was “One in Three,
“while some held out for “Threefold Unity.”
Hard words arose between divergent schools,
who liked to call each other “threefold fools.”

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