Archive for April, 2007

Mephistopheles Materialized Just As Faust Was About To Drink Poison

April 28, 2007

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Castalia, At Last

Fall 1976

I gave my boss a two-week notice. I told him I was going back to school. He wrote a really nice letter of recommendation for me. Just before I left Deadwood, I called up, Terry, CMU’s personnel director, and told him I was going to plant myself on his couch until I got hired. I didn’t hear any laugher on the other end of the phone. C.S. was okay with me going back to school. I guess she knew that’s where I belonged. Everything was fine up till the time when I left. After I took my artwork off the walls, words began to fly. It was on that sour note that I left Deadwood.

When I arrived back in Mt. Pleasant I moved in with my old friend, Mike. After leaving Arizona, he enrolled as student at CMU on the GI bill. When I dropped my backpack on his trailer kitchen floor, I considered myself moved in. “Mi casa es su casa” was his greeting to me. I was surprised to find him so determined. I guess he had been bumming around the country long enough. He was following in his father’s footsteps; only he was going to teach in Elementary School instead of High School. I was in for another surprise, too. Mike was President of the campus chapter of the YSA (Young Socialist Alliance). He and his girlfriend, Val, headed up an organization of university radicals.

Mike and I had grown up together. We were best friends, but his newly acquired political ideology put a distance between us. It almost felt like he was pushing his beliefs on me. I found his behavior totally out of character–first because I felt our friendship was stronger than politics, and second because I thought he already knew about my “leftists leanings.” Hell, he read the Marxist term paper I wrote back in ’69. I even got an A in the class. I just couldn’t believe I was being tested. Maybe he needed to prove something to Val. He certainly didn’t have to prove anything to me. He was, and always would be my best friend. Things began to settle down after a week or so. After my visit to the Personnel office, things began to look pretty damn good, in fact. I was told point blank, “Don’t make waves. Follow the rules. Be patient and I’ll do what I can to get you hired,” and all that coming from the guy who once told me I would never find work at CMU.

Within a month I was hired. The job, a food service custodian, wasn’t permanent, but I had a good feeling about it. After five years, I had arrived; I was working at a university– a dream come true. Feeling secure in my job, I went to my old Professor, Dr. Gill, and asked if I could sit in on his mythology class. We had a pretty good relationship going back to when I first started at CMU. He was my Philosophy Professor when I took a class on Plato, but that class was short-lived because I dropped out of school and moved to Arizona. I finished my ’73 class with him, the one where I studied Goethe’s Faust. I loved that class. I even kept my final exam– an essay on Faust’s growth. I got an A in the class, and my exam did a lot to help me get that grade. The quoted parts of the essay I pretty much memorized from Goethe’s own words.

Child

The play began with a despondent, old scholar huckstering over the worth of words. Faust searched so hard for meaning and substance that he was willing to give up his life for “the right answers.” He had, for many years, thrust himself headlong into the pursuit of knowledge only to find the written word empty and valueless. Defeated, he gave up on everything—books, sensuality, hope, and faith (the play was set at the time when the Catholic Church reigned supreme). In desperation, he was about to drink a vial of poison when Mephistopheles—the devil materialized. He got Faust to participate in a wager. It didn’t take much coaxing, though. “While I abide,” Faust said to the devil, “I live in servitude, whether yours or whose, why should I care.” Losing the bet was not a major concern for Faust; winning did have its allure, however. The devil had promised Faust a moment of bliss that would be so blissful that he would be willing to give up his soul in return. Faust agreed to the wager.

It wasn’t going to be easy for the devil. The problem was that Faust did not seek pleasure. When Mephistopheles began to tempt Faust with his bag of sensual pleasures, Faust replied, “Have you not heard? I do not desire joy…To sound the heights and depths man can know, their very souls shall be with mine entwined. I’ll load my bosom with their weal and woe and share the shipwreck of mankind.” Faust entered the wager without knowing what would make him happy, but he did know what would not make him happy. Mephistopheles was irritated at first, but once Faust met Gretchen, the devil’s confidence beamed.

Puberty

Faust, seduced by Gretchen’s charm and sweetness, fell in love with her. Mephistopheles saw the whole affair as a “puppet show,” as the pursuit of physical delights. Faust, on the other hand, used this physical relationship to explore the transformative power of love. When Faust fell into a passion, however, Mephistopheles rejoiced. “Flame is still mine,” he exhorted, “the power of flame alone, or else were there nothing I could call my own.” But Faust wasn’t satisfied with just passion; he managed to turn his love for Gretchen into something more than a mere love fest.

Forever the “seeker,” Faust’s striving confused Mephistopheles. In fact, Mephistopheles never did comprehend Faust’s desire to “go beyond himself.” That striving got Faust involved with Gretchen, in both a passionate physical way and a non-physical way, but no less passionate. Out of his love for Gretchen he forged himself a new identity, an identity that came with the realization —“To
seek, as in the bosom of a friend, beholding the train of all living things, to learn to perceive my brothers in the sky, the stream, and in the silent glade.” His passion took him to a new high, but, as everyone knows, “the higher you climb, the harder you fall,” and it was no different for Faust. For Mephistopheles, “demolition man extraordinaire,” it was easy to take advantage of a vulnerable Faust.

In conjunction with Gretchen’s unplanned pregnancy, the devil’s influence over Faust resulted in several other tragedies. Overcome with guilt, Faust fell into Mephistopheles’ waiting arms. The devil diverted Faust away from his higher goals by using a young witch to tempt him. Faust was on his way to life of debauchery when, in a passionate embrace with the young temptress, out from her mouth ran a small mouse. Faust, at that point, was shocked into remembering his quest for a higher purpose. Before it was all over, however, Gretchen’s brother, mother, baby and, eventually, even Gretchen herself, died as a result of the entanglements of Faust’s relationship with Gretchen.

At the end of Part One, Faust, tricked by the devil, handed Gretchen what he thought was a sleeping potion to give to her mother. The potion turned out to be poison and Gretchen was sentenced to death for her mother’s murder. Faust tried to rescue her, but when, on the day of her hanging, he burst into Gretchen’s jail cell, he found a completely transformed woman. No longer the sweet innocent thing he fell in love with, she rebuked Faust. Her pain and guilt just too overwhelming to live with, Gretchen had chosen death over suffering; she had crossed over into infinite resignation. Out of pity, Faust still sought to rescue her, but Gretchen didn’t want sympathy. Her terrible suffering had left her with no hope for redemption. She had sinned and she had to pay. Death was her only salvation, and Faust could do nothing to prevent it. As Gretchen was led up to the gallows, Faust turned his back on her, and walked away with Mephistopheles by his side.

Faust, in his love for Gretchen, had found what he was looking for—that anything was worth looking for at all—but he also found, as a result of that love, unexpected and unbearable suffering. Kierkegaard, in his response to his own unfulfilled love relationship, put it this way, “Ah, it is a wretched man who has never felt the compelling urge of love to sacrifice everything out of love and accordingly not be able to do it, but it is precisely this sacrifice out of love which causes the loved one the greatest unhappiness.” Faust bore his torment and guilt well, and, although despair became his constant companion, he was not, surprisingly, damned for eternity.

In Faust’s Last Breath He Was Filled With The Love That Made Him Whole

Faust Part Two

Adolescence

At the end of Part One, the impression left by Goethe was that Faust went off to hell with the devil, but in Part Two the Faust story continued. Faust, after awakening in the Greek classical period, found himself being nursed back to health by the Spirits in the forest glade. He resolved to push ahead with life in spite of the fact that he held himself responsible for the death of all that he had once held so dear. While convalescing, he learned from the regenerative power of nature that remorse and pity had no place in the healing process. He had also learned from watching the rainbowed hues dance above the waterfall that truth was a subtle quality. Indeed, it could not be grasped directly. Now more mature, he continued to search for what was worth looking for.

In the open air of the Greek classical period, Mephistopheles was out of place and uncomfortable. He was a stranger in a strange land. The ugly and profane were hard to find, but every once in a while Mephistopheles was able to indulge himself. Faust, and Mephistopheles took some comfort in the halls of courtly power. Courtly power impressed Faust, and, in this new land, it was everywhere. Faust took his quest right into the center of that power.

Teenager

The pomp and status of the royal life disappointed Faust. He found the power there to be illusionary. War brought devastation and destruction. In the end, it all came down to ashes. He found no value in that power. It only recycled war and hate. Demoralized, he began to doubt the usefulness of the “might makes right” doctrine, and he even began to doubt the usefulness of Mephistopheles.

Young Man

When Faust said to Mephistopheles, “In your nothing I hope to find everything,” he showed his new found direction. The more Faust denied Mephistopheles, the more Mephistopheles’ power over Faust diminished. In fact, the devil’s waning influence over Faust took on added significance when, in a chance meeting on the road, Faust saw Helen of Troy. With one look, Faust knew he wanted her. He had to have her. Showing decisive action, he grabbed for Helen’s wraith, but before he could make contact with her, she vanished before his eyes. After that, Faust set out to find her. More than carnal desire motivated Faust in his quest for Helen. As a captive of the Greeks, she bore her dignity well. Her queenly tapestries became an object of scorn and ridicule, but she was not bowed. In spite of all her tragedy, she was the personification of dignity. Because of Helen, Faust discovered a new lease on life.

With help from many, good and bad alike, Faust rediscovered Helen and, once again, was overwhelmed by her queenly stature. Faust—“To see her made the empty hearts of men whole.” Her beauty had a softer side, too. As goddess of poetry, she was a giver of life. She was the “ideal” of beauty and grace. Faust�
��“I tremble, scarcely breathe, my words have fled. Space, time, all gone. I live a dream instead.” Helen—“I feel my life fordone, yet I live anew in you inwoven the unknown true.” Faust—“Brood not, the destiny of truth to trace. Being is duty, were it a moments space.” Their love for each other, fueled by the regenerative power of the earth, created duty out of misfortune and affirmation out of privation. Made whole, Faust now followed a path that only he could walk.

From the union of Faust and Helen, a child was born. Euphorion was more than a love child; he was a “child of pure love.” To aspire, to evolve, love had to be set free. Love was never born free, its freedom had to be earned. Something had to be sacrificed. With the birth of pure love, mother and child had fulfilled their purpose—both Helen and Euphorion vanished, leaving Faust alone once again.

On the mountaintop, while in quiet contemplation, a vision of Gretchen appeared to Faust in the clouds, and in that instant love’s meaning became whole for him. Love was born from the earth, but earth-embodied activity was never enough. Survival demanded more. Survival demanded purposeful activity, death-transcending activity. A product of inspiration and aspiration, purposeful activity always “passed the touch.” Earth-embodied love, a self-indulgent love, would not survive. Love had to be animated by a higher purpose, a purpose that would insure its survival. “The deed is all; the glory nothing” became Faust’s motto. Striving produced errs. Striving for the impossible, produced many errs, but, when one strove for an impossible love, redemption was never far behind.

Faust set himself a new goal—to teach the meaning of whole love—a lesson that had to be learned from the inside out. Faust did not cower under this challenge. He began by creating the necessary conditions to inspire love’s meaning. With Mephistopheles’ help, he became the ruler of a small country. His plan was to get people to build dykes and reclaim land from the sea. The dykes would not only provide peace and prosperity for his people, but also teach the people a life-sustaining work ethic. But, before the dykes, before work ethic, before the prosperity, a “can do attitude,” had to be instilled in the people, an attitude that would, eventually, turn into a higher morality.

This higher morality, liberty, and prosperity were all dependent upon dyke maintenance and construction. The work ethic that held the country and the communities together became the universality shared morality of the entire country. The need for vigilance and responsibility got passed on from parent to child. The seed of purposeful action, first sowed by Faust, would bear fruit the likes of which had not been seen before, or, so Faust hoped. Faust success was real, and so was his happiness.

Thus it came to pass that a free people, in a free land, prospered, and Faust’s dream became reality. At one point, Faust (almost) could be heard muttering to the moment, “You are so fare as to last an eternity,”—and thus he would have forfeited his soul to the devil. However, at that very moment he remembered some unfinished business that needed immediate attention, so he sent Mephistopheles to take care of it. The devil was sent into the country to persuade the old couple, Baucus and Philamen, to give up their land. Because they lived within the sound of the church bell, the church had a legal claim to their property. In order for Faust’s dream to be fully realized, he needed to relocate the old couple. But, when they balked at this relocation plan, they were murdered along with their wayfarer friend. Faust, once again, shared in the responsibility for the deaths of innocents.

Old man

An old and guilt-weary Faust became totally free of Mephistopheles when he confronted Care and denied magic. The whole of Faust Part Two depicted the progress of Faust as he became more reserved and confident while Mephistopheles became more excitable and foolish. Faust, when he denied magic, went blind and lost his strength, but he was not distressed. He knew, finally, that some things were worth pursuing, and he discovered that those things worth pursuing were not to be pursued without scruples. As the eternal night closed in around him, he experienced a kind of enlightenment. (At least that’s the way I saw it.) With his last breath, he was filled with the meaning of love and was made whole by it.

Faust leaves us with the “epitaph of the deed.” Humanity needs improving. Once efforts in that direction get going there is no stopping it, even in death. Faust grew from a child into a whole man, from microcosm to macrocosm. He offers hope to humanity. He also cautions: we have much to do without spending all our time on the ideals of religiosity. Let salvation take care of itself. Creation moves forward. Always look to love’s meaning for the answers. Faust calls us to do more.

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Being God And All Why Did You Stack The Deck

April 21, 2007

Being God And All, Why So Unfair

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Drink’in With The One On High

Sept. ‘76

I needed time alone. I was glad I had left the party, and there were at least three hours of sunlight left. The fifth was still half full, and once I reached the trail, I put the puppy down, and took a long, choking, drink. I had never hiked these hills before. It was always exciting to hike in the Black Hills. You never knew what to expect. You might stumble upon old bottles, Indian artifacts, or even abandoned goldmines—all leftovers from the gold rush days in the late 19th century. You had to be careful, though; the allure of the unexpected could get you in trouble, especially if you were already half drunk like I was. In fact, in no time at all, I became helplessly lost. Hoping to see something that would get me back on the path to the cabins, or at least to civilization, I climbed to the top of a mountain. The climb–not to mention the fear that overcomes you when lost in the woods– sobered me up. I had carried the puppy most of the way, and it seemed that I had been lost for way too long. The puppy, for sure, wasn’t up for this kind of hike.

From the top of the mountain, I could see trails below, as dark clouds were rolling in above me. I was apprehensive, but not yet ready to panic. I decided to walk down to the trail and follow it, but first I would rest. I took another drink from the vodka bottle, and looked down at the puppy that was fast asleep at my feet. I looked up at the sky and started to move slowly around the puppy. I did not want to be lost; I wanted to be back home, in my own house, away form all the tension that had arisen between C.S. and myself. I continued walking around the puppy, looking up at the clouds, and then back at the sleeping dog. The vodka started to go down easier. I felt like I was in some kind of trance, and then my head started to spin. As I stumbled, and fell to the ground, I became angry. I looked up and screamed, “Hey, big guy, what are you looking at?

Some poor lost drunk, or a joke for your amusement? Do you even care? Is voyeurism your thing? Aw come on, everybody has to get their kicks some way. I’d offer you a drink, but that’s kind of hard to do. I guess I’ll have to drink for both of us. Wow, that’s good stuff—too bad you can’t enjoy it too. Tell me; am I really worth your time? I mean, malcontents abound. I’m sure there are more interesting ones than me! Do you hear me? Admit it! You don’t need me. And, I sure the hell don’t need you. There, now we’re even!

Wait. Before you go, before we end this little taa-do, I have a question. Why so shitty a job with creation? What were you thinking? Being God and all, why did you have to stack the deck? Why so much unfairness, unhappiness? It’s first class for the few and table scraps for the many! Talk about shortsightedness! I mean, take me for instance, when you handed out brains, why so stingy? Talk about a short shift. Oh, by the way, you missed me in the “talent line” also. You must have been on coffee break. But, hey, we need all the Mr. Mediocres of the world—right! Maybe to make you laugh? Forgive me if I’m not amused, though. Down here there’s not much to laugh about; know what I mean!

You just love playing with loaded dice, don’t you. We get a heart, and then you fill it full of holes. Why so little contentment anyway? What’s that all about? You’d think just getting through the bad times, the hard times, would make us happy. But noooo. No satisfaction there. For Christ’s sake, there’s only so much to go around. Those who can– Take, those who can’t, get diddly squat. You did that—what a guy! Oh, by the way, I haven’t forgotten about love. Your generosity was overflowing there, or is it lust I’m thinking of? Excuse me! I know the real thing exists. I got a crash course in it. Remember? But why is the grass always greener on the other side of that hill? Of course it is. You should know! You created it that way.

‘Lucky in love, unlucky in life,’—bullshit–if lustful urges and roving eyes don’t sabotage love, then the lust for wealth, fame, and glory will. Where’s the fairness? Where’s the justice? Survival of the fittest you say. Believe me, if I was given just half a chance, I could have created a better world than this–Don’t give me that crap about freedom. Right over wrong, good over evil, that’s all bullshit too! Brains, brawn, and cleverness—determine good and evil. That’s the way it’s always been. Reinventing good and evil has always been the privilege of those who rule. Go ask the Indians! Blankets for land! Oh sure, smallpox infested blankets for the white man’s manifest destiny. The ‘good guys’ won—right! Don’t get me wrong; I can appreciate a good thing. We wouldn’t be having this conversation on a beautiful mountaintop if the Indians had got their way.

But wait, you know more about that than I do. The church, Your Church, burnt the ‘witches,’ and ‘heretics’—right! In the end, advantage always goes to the clever, the powerful, and the cruel. And what for—a better life? An Afterlife? There’s a trump card if ever was one. Things may be shit now, but wait; in heaven everybody gets their reward! Is that it! Is that your ‘Sola Scripture promise,’ your Christian message heard round the world! ‘Trust in the Lord,’ and rejoice in the glory of eternal life! Really! Trust the one who offers a never-ending feast of the weak to the strong. Yeah, that makes great sense! But no thanks! I don’t feel very trusting today. If its trust you want, trust in this: Keep your false promises, corrupt henchmen, and love, unconditional or not! I don’t need that shit anymore. To false hopes, great expectations, and love gone sour—I say goodbye, good riddance. Enough already! You can stay in your precious ‘Paha Satva Mountains,’ You and Carole Sue both. Not me. I’m out of here. That’s my pledge! With this drink of vodka I seal that oath—let it be done. It is done!”

Welcome To My Journey Into The Interdependence Of Consciousness, Science, And Religion

April 18, 2007

Einstein Was Busy Pondering That Other Anomaly-A Fifth Force Of Nature

apartment 1Introduction (Volume Two-Feeling, Understanding and the Divine)

In the classroom of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s (and beyond), emotions were naturally, as well as artificially, stimulated, while tradition and social norms were either ignored or violated. In the midst of all that change, a normal kid (that’s me) stuck out his thumb and hit the highway. Not long ago, I turned my old journal chicken scratching into real paragraphs. The “fog of old age” is inevitable for people who live past their prime. For me, these rewritten memories represent a small, but savored victory.

Conceptually, my journals are divided into three parts 1) drifting and seeking; 2) more disciplined seeking—feeling, understanding, and the divine; and 3) the call to share divine freedoms.


Aug. 1976

My mind is dead or dying. I can’t write! My thoughts are stale and redundant. I have a foul taste in my mouth, and only one comforting thought: I can still enjoy the mountains and feel at peace with nature.

Back in Deadwood, it was the same old stuff, and then the cast of “Godspell” came to town. The New York City theater troupe was on tour. C.S.’s brother, Denny, an entertainer himself, became friends with some of the cast members and got all of us invited to the cast party. The troupe had rented three cabins in a beautiful spot in the Black Hills, south of Deadwood. C.S. and I really I enjoyed their performance and looked forward to going to the party. When the time came we even took our new puppy with us.

Sept. 1976

Black Hills’ Cabin Party

The cast, a bunch of talented kids, was pretty laid back when it came to partying, but that was the way I liked it. For the most part, we sat around picnic tables talking, eating, and drinking. I was going for another beer when I strolled past a couple of cast members who were in a heated discussion. The female was drinking vodka straight from the bottle. They were talking astronomy; a subject I had never heard discussed in Deadwood before. At first I thought they were talking about exploding stars, but it soon became apparent that they disagreed on the origin of the universe. It wasn’t a religious argument, though. They were arguing about two opposing theories in astronomy. One said that the universe had a beginning; the other said it did not.

After I got another beer from the cooler, I sat down in the empty chair next to the girl. It was fun listening to them. I knew a little bit about what they were talking about, but they knew a lot more. When I got to speak, I told them that I found the subject fascinating, and that I had the best seat in the house.

“So,” Tom shot back at Sara, “you’re telling me that all the stars and galaxies are speeding away from the Earth at close to light speed. That’s really hard to believe. How do you know that anyway?”

“No,” replied Sara, “I said distant galaxies are speeding away from us at close to light speed. The stars aren’t going anywhere by themselves. They’re held in place by gravitational attraction. It’s the light from the receding galaxies that tells us the universe is expanding. That light is red shifted. It’s like the sound of a passing train whistle; when a train passes a stationary observer, the pitch of the whistle drops, as the sound waves lengthen. It’s the same with receding galaxies; only it’s light, not sound, that tells us the speed and direction of the galaxy. The red wavelengths of galaxies flying away from us are extended, and that shift in extension can be measured.”

“But you still haven’t told me how you know that.” replied Tom. “How do you know red- shifted light means galaxies are moving away from us?”

“Because,” said Sara, “forty or fifty years ago, the astronomer Edwin Hubble figured out how to measure the distances. When Hubble’s distances were combined with Vesto Sipher’s measurements of different galaxies’ spectral line shifts, the linear velocity distance law was deduced. Applying that law to the known red-shifted light of distant galaxies resulted in a perfect straight line graph of the galaxies–the longer the red-shift, the more distant the galaxy, the more distant the galaxy, the greater the recession velocity.”

“You’re going to have to do better than that to convince me
,” replied Tom. “All that tells me is that when W, X, and Y come together, Z follows. How am I supposed to know that Z is a galaxy moving away from me at the speed of light, or close to it? Why couldn’t those red-shifts be caused by something else? In fact, Hoyle, Bondi, and Gold, all astronomers and physicists alike, suggested that they might be caused by the continuous creation of matter; matter created out of empty space. They called their theory the “steady state theory” and, in their view, stars and galaxies are born, go through life cycles, and die out. New stars and galaxies then replace them, continuously. That’s why the universe looks the same today as it always did, or ever will. According to the steady state theory, the universe is not evolving.”

“That’s ridiculous!” said Sara, “matter can’t be created from nothing.”

“Why not?” Tom replied, “Where did the ‘Big Bang’ come from anyway? Where did the ‘exploding energy’ come from? What exactly existed before the ‘bang’ occurred? If everything started with a ‘bang,’ wouldn’t the distant galaxies, the oldest galaxies, be clustered together? When they were created the universe was much younger, smaller, and, according to your theory shouldn’t first generation galaxies be grouped together? You know there not. The universe is expanding uniformly. And what about quasars? It’s their red-shifts that have made them such enigmas. If they really were that far away, then, according to your theory, they must be emitting as much energy as 1000 Milky Way galaxies. How can an object packaged in a body much smaller than a galaxy emit so much energy? Those objects cannot even be imagined, red-shifted spectral light or not. If you ask me, Einstein should have stuck to his original cosmology. He was much closer to the truth when he looked at his equations and saw a static, spherical universe, a universe where moving in a straight line meant you would eventually return to your starting point. A bunch of red lines have kicked us out of that universe.”

God, it had been a long time, way too long for me; I really missed conversations like that—the kind of talk that, if you were really lucky, you might find in a bar full of university students, but hardly anywhere else. In Deadwood, conversations with more theory than facts, more questions than answers, just didn’t happen. I looked at the steady state theory guy, Tom, and said, wasn’t it Einstein who said, “The static universe was the biggest blunder of my life?” Before Tom could speak, Sara jumped into the conversation with the answer.

“Well, not exactly,” she said. “It’s true that Einstein didn’t immediately accept the idea of an expanding universe, but he was distracted by another problem, one that kept him from pursuing the implications contained in his own equations, implications that supported the experimental data that Hubble had already gathered. The problem was that Einstein was too busy to notice. The Russian physicist, Alexander Friedmann was the one who finally concluded, after his own investigation of Einstein’s field equations, that we were living in an expanding universe. Meanwhile, Einstein was still pondering that other anomaly that followed from his equations, the one that suggested there was a fifth force in nature, a force that hadn’t been discovered yet.

In addition to the four forces– electromagnetic, nuclear, weak, and gravity another force was needed to keep the universe from collapsing in on itself. Newton had the same problem, as Einstein, but he solved it with the hypothetical method. He reasoned something like this: in an infinite universe where stars were distributed uniformly, there would be no overall center for the universe to collapse into; therefore there would be no collapse. But that explanation wasn’t good enough for Einstein, so he postulated a fifth force, a force that was repulsive rather than attractive, a pushing force to balance the pull of gravity. As it turned out, in an expanding universe, that force wasn’t needed because the expansion itself kept the universe from collapsing. The fact remains, though, that Einstein’s equations suggest that there is another force in nature. Someday, maybe, Einstein will get credit for yet another incredible discovery. If that turns out to be the case, I suspect, as blunders go, Einstein’s preoccupation with the static universe concept won’t seem so stupid.”

Glancing over at C.S., I could tell I was in trouble. She was sitting alone and I was sure she thought I was ignoring her. I told Sara and Tom that I had to go to the bathroom, and then went to see how C.S. was doing. By the look on her face, I could see that she was not in the best of moods. “Can I get you a beer,” I said. “I’m going for another one.”

“Yeah,” came the reply, “and while you’re at it how about bringing that hunk of a man you’ve been talking to back with you, or perhaps it was that darling little girl you were talking to. Well? Don’t give me any bullshit, either. You looked like a kitten going after mother’s milk. You embarrassed both of us. Haven’t you heard the word discreet before?”

“We were just talking, that’s all,” I said. “What did you expect? This is a party. If it bothered you that much, why didn’t you come over and join us? You probably would have gotten bored, though. We were talking about astronomy.”

“You didn’t have to tell me that,” C.S. shot back, “From all the way over here, I could see the stars in your eyes. Why is it that guys drop to their knees and become asses, especially some guys, when a new skirt shows up? Why is that, anyway?”

“Shit! That’s not fair,” I said. “She, Sara, is an intelligent, not to mention talented, girl. You know, every once in a while it’s nice to talk to someone different, especially when she knows what she’s talking about.”

“What the fuck is that suppose to mean?” C.S. shouted. “You don’t like talking to me? Or is it that talking to me doesn’t make you drool. Shit, next time we talk remind me to hold up one of your Playboy centerfolds. The problems of the world ought to get solved with that conversation!”

“Fuck this. Go get your own beer!” I said. “I’m going for a hike.”

“Take the puppy,” C.S. shot back. “Do something useful. Don’t worry about me. The party is just getting started.”

Holding on to the dog, I walked past Sara who rose to get a better look at the puppy. I was embarrassed. I told her the puppy and I were going exploring. She nodded, and handed me her fifth of vodka, “Here, take this,” she said, “I think you need it more than I do.” I thanked her and took a swig. “Yeah, I think you’re right,” I replied, and then I walked on, holding the bottle in one hand and the puppy in the other. I never looked back.