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Belmont Club

The Shadow in the Hallway

December 15th, 2012 - 11:49 am

Who was it tapping? Momentarily we had a pang of doubt. What if the Elders were right after all and in addition to the locks on doors and the barred gates, human beings needed defenses of a different kind. We looked in vain for the walls that were once called taboos which marked off things deemed too dangerous to approach — at least not without long preparation and perhaps only in the company of the Wise. But we put the thought aside, as the new teachers said. T’was our imagination and nothing more. So it was back to listening to Madonna.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

If by now it was getting spooky, you could be forgiven for searching in a smartphone store for an application designed to to dispel such insistent tappings. There’s one I think which can be customized to countertap at a canceling frequency. But it’s still due out next spring. For the moment –

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

We have organic food to make our bodies stronger, video games to make our reflexes faster, and welfare to sustain us in our dotage. At great expense society has built an impregnable Maginot line against every physical threat. But for some reason it left the Ardennes forest of the mind completely undefended — but there’s no need to worry; we have long since declared culture and ideas impassable to any evil, which anyway doesn’t exist.

Evil is just a matter of taste.

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