I won’t try to belittle what’s happened. I won’t try to force it into comprehensibility by calling it fantasy, the way I did after 9/11. When fantasy tries to do something like this it falls utterly flat, because there’s nobody in the world who can ever imagine it happening.

This is the kind of real that touches me. Maybe I have Luke to thank for that; maybe I only find myself able to imagine it now because he is there to interpret the other side of the world for me. If that is the case, I owe some people an apology–people I called callous when they said they couldn’t see what obligation we had to help people we didn’t hurt. I probably owe them an apology anyway. I must have misunderstood them, because really how could anyone think that way?

What can something so unbearably real do but put everything else in perspective? Sometimes I put my eye down close to the pavement and pretend I’m an ant. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine I’m a galaxy. These are illusions; they work, temporarily but unconvincingly, to blast back the collected dust of complacency and habit and remind me what the artwork looks like underneath. But neither these tricks nor anything like them has ever revealed to me the stature of humankind in such a clear and burning light. Compared to that light, 9/11’s effect seems one not of clarification but distortion. Terrorist attacks and wars highlight the worst in humankind, it’s true–and perhaps in a lucky few, the best. But they make us seem so important. Look what ridiculous horrors one of us can visit on another, or prevent another from visiting on us. Aren’t we big? The universe, the planets, the black holes swallowing planets, they’re all so vast and far away. What have they to do with us? Here, in our own field of vision, what’s more powerful than we are?

The earth has shown us the folly in that thinking. Let’s hope the dust doesn’t collect again too quickly.

But I’m moralizing. I’m trying to assign meaning from my safe seat far, far away where a twenty-foot wave seems so small, and I’ve the leisure to sit and imagine what it would be like if I dove headfirst into it the way I do the three-foot waves on the outer cape that only knock my head against the sand. And I said I wouldn’t.

Why I Wandered There, and What Good It Did Me

Another true story.

I went into the western woods at sunset with only a compass: not a flashlight, not a bottle of water, not a coat.

It’s hard to say why. I had a vague idea of reaching the crest of the ridge, and seeing the last light fade from the valley. But what was I supposed to do then? I’m certain I understood I would have to come back in the dark.

I knew there was only the thinnest of margins to walk before things went wrong. When I came to that margin, I walked it for a while, sure, feigning prudence. But then I deliberately crossed it: a rill, tumbling over slick stones in twilight.

On the far side, the land began to ascend. I stopped and looked down on the faulted margin from above. I could still go back, while my eyes could still see color. But what would I do when it was dark? I could fall, sprain an ankle, and get very cold.

It was darkening already. The west sky glowed red, but the sun was gone behind the ridge. I was already cold. I ought to go back.

Back meant east, away from the sun, to greater darkness, but to safer places. East the roads were all flat. East there was light and shelter. That would not satisfy me.

I went west up the hill, the compass clutched in my hand, plastic edges digging into my palm. I walked fast.

“If I am quick,” I told myself, “I can reach the ridge and return before the light is gone.”

“You can’t,” I answered. “If you are quick, you will only be deeper in when darkness comes. Besides: what grand thing can happen between here and there that will make you suddenly want to return? It will be as bad then as now.”

But that was a lie. If I went back now, it would be in defeat. If the ridge turned me back in full darkness, who was I? No one I knew.

“I have the compass,” I said. “At least I can’t get lost.”

I went on.

This was a stupid thing I was doing. My father, who never went into the woods without enough to spend the night there and have hot cocoa in the morning, would call this a stupid thing.

Perhaps all this willing abandon came as a result of the sad dilution of that wonderful fear of the dark I used to feel in the woods alone. In the western woods as a boy with my tent and flashlight, ignorance made me a brave explorer. Back then the unknown was still big enough to hide monsters. The night was my dread canvas, and I the artist of innocent terrors: ghost birds, mushroom kings and hungry stones.

That was before I knew the things to fear were all in cities, and loneliness was the safest place you could ever be.

It was nothing but my own imagination that threatened me. In the dark you only ever scare yourself. But fear is like the worst kind of drug. To bring back the illusion, the risk of self-destruction must increase.

Was I angry at myself? I often am.

The hill steepened. I climbed faster.

My breathing rattled like pebbles in my throat. Crack, crack, crack, went the stones beneath me. The pump of my heartbeats rang in my head. I moved to my body’s rhythm instead of my thoughts’. Whippoorwills and crickets sang once at my passing, then fell silent. Soon exhilaration made me too drunk to hear them over the rush of blood through my ears. Hemlock branches loomed, reached out to brush my face and shoulders, then fell away like veils. Motion blurred the formless forest dusk out of all comprehension. I kept going. The trail twisted once, then again and again, and the compass hung from my wrist, forgotten.

I skirted an upland swamp, and searched burningly in the dark for the green lights I knew should flicker there.

A rotted branch snapped somewhere to the south.

I halted, the shiver of that old false fear tingling in my mind. I put out a hand to a rough tree-trunk, tried in vain to slow my breath, and listened. I searched the fading maze of branches.

I did not hear the sound again.

I could have been walking on a machine in a windowless room, I thought.

The compass swung wild from the lanyard looped around my wrist. I thought about the magic needle spinning in free-fall, deprived of its power because stability was lost. Could I see it now in the dusk if I tried? I lifted it, watched the graying red needle right itself and point north. How long before it went black?

I looked around me. The hemlock veils had fallen away. The horizon was lower. Faint orange encroached on the edges of the mountain’s shadow. I was nearing the top of the ridge.

When pulse and shiver had stilled, I climbed on.

I stopped atop the ridge. The night-creatures around me held their breath, waiting to see what I would do. I reached into the branches of a young red pine, and climbed. There was the sun–just a sliver in the distance when the trees thinned, but golden and warming still, if only in imagination.

When I descended, my palms were sticky with pitch, and I found that I was blind. The black echo of the sun hung in my retinas. I couldn’t see the stones.

I stood until I couldn’t hear my breathing, holding the compass up to my eyes. I had passed a fork leading north and down; I made for it slowly, fearful of stumbling. I could feel the night’s chill coming fast, though still warm from the hike and the climb. I had to go faster.

I stopped to stare at the compass every tenth stride. North, north…not enough east. Where would it lead? Out. It must lead out. No woods are endless these days. But out to where?

I went right at a fork, then right again. I stumbled twice.

Coyote voices aren’t like wolves’. Wolves’ voices are supposed to be chilling. They carry that cold bite with them from far away–always far away, on mountaintops you can never reach. A wolf howl is like a thin cloud across the moon, like a bat’s shadow on the ground–another part of that same romantic terror of the wild darkness that once was so wonderful, and now rolls off me like brushed-away snow.

But coyote voices are different. They sound like mad children. They sound…contagious. Suddenly I wanted to jibber and laugh and wail. I wished for a big, thick length of wood I could swing with both hands. My fingers were cold and slow to move; I clutched them to myself.

I couldn’t go any faster. I couldn’t see what was in front of me, and I didn’t want a twisted ankle. If I had to run, I would run uphill. Not so far to fall.

I stumbled. Stones clattered, and something big crashed away through the brush, for fear of me or the mad things, I do not know. A deer–a series of long leaps, the silences between each longer than the last, until it was gone.

Deer can fly after nightfall. I have seen it.

Humans too, when alone, take on strange powers.

I came suddenly on a clearing–thick, wet grass blue in the starlight. A mound rose to my left, something man-made–but there wasn’t a house or a shed or a rusted bedframe in sight. This shouldn’t be here. I had passed the swamp only twenty strides back–the one where the witch lights were missing.

Was this where they had gone?

I ran. I ran without regard for my ankles, without regard for the compass that swung again from my wrist like the albatross, without regard for the path that had become a rutted road beneath me. I ran from the coyotes and the deer and the whipporwills and even the crickets.
Streetlamps, such ugly and hated things, blotting out the stars with their glare, can become such friends shimmering half a mile away through dark woods.

And with that, I stood stunned on the wrong side of a stone wall, looking into someone’s backyard. The windows glowed, and I shrunk back like a wraith, all my wound up fear of the dark replaced in an instant by fear of people with territorialities and shotguns. I thought about how the glare of a light makes a window opaque when there is dark outside it. I could walk up to their windows and stare into their kitchen and they’d never know.

I took a breath, skirted the shadows at the edge of the lawn, and I was on a road–a real road, paved. A car in a driveway.

I glanced at the compass under a lightpost, shoved my hands in my pockets, and walked east.

The Fantastical Real

My cousin Luke is wandering India (I shouldn’t say wandering, what he is doing is substantially more than that, but it sounds poetical). He spends his time there interacting with people in ways I never could and which frankly astound me, experiencing the way this unique and really very hard-to-believe planet functions on a level whose implications continue to floor me. I tried to convey this to Luke in a post on his weblog, but I didn’t nearly manage to express the profundity of the feeling I get from hearing about what he does there and considering it on a personal, emotional level.

I’ve touched very gently elsewhere in this log on my attitude towards spirituality, and have trampled like a herd of elephants elsewhere in this log on many other people’s attitudes towards same, which attitudes I perceive as unhealthy and at times destructive. (I feel conceptually about elephants in person in their own habitat as opposed to in our fake ones the same way I imagine Sam Gamgee feels about the Mumak–and that feeling fits into this subject somewhere too. I asked Luke to take some pictures of elephants for me. I hope he does. But that’s neither here nor there.) I would like very much to clarify my position on the subject of spirituality, to elaborate both for myself and for those I have undoubtedly pissed off exactly how the concept of the transcendent fits into my worldview.

And yes, this whole topic is also inextricably wound up in the way I deal with and produce fantasy and fiction. That moment where Sam meets the Mumak, and others like it in fantasy fiction I could enumerate endlessly save that I would very quickly run out of fingers and toes, are the reason I love fantasy, the reason I read it, the reason I write it. It doesn’t have to touch my heart like that for me to enjoy it–it may simply engage my mind, or my gut–but when Susan and Lucy romp with Aslan in the fields above Cair Paravel, when Arha and Tehanu chase the stray goat along the cliffs of Ogion’s farm, when Eilonwy gives up her wishing ring to stay and grow old with Prydein’s new king–that’s when I know I’m doing the right thing with my life. I remember distinctly the first time I came to the end of The High King, and ran into my mother’s room to explain to her what happened, so that she could reassure me that I wasn’t crying for no reason, that I wasn’t, in fact, a sissy. Mothers, I since have learned, are not the most impartial advisors when it comes to such things. Nevertheless, she said exactly what I needed her to, exactly what the teacher told the poor little girl who said she hated books because they made her cry: “You don’t hate books. You love them so much it makes you cry.”

Let me give you one more true anecdote from my own life and then try to bring this back to Luke. I recently got a new job way out in the woods in the Berkshires in a farmhouse with six cats and several llamas. It’s a long drive to get out there. Once upon a time I would have raved and raged at the prospect of losing a total of an hour and a half out of my day just sitting in the car. Only now I’m driving on back roads, where often I’m the only car in sight, and all around me there are huge green-limed stones and tall, straight pines melting into gold and orange maples and blue skies and the curves of hillsides with woodsmoke rising from chimneys. And I’m going to a place where I like what I do, I’m in control of what I do, where everything has a face and an emotion attached and my presence is a palpable help to the people around me, not just a knot of turbulence in the surrounding abstractions. I started working there at the height of fall color, in late October. Driving to and from work the first few days, I literally cried at the beauty of it. I cried.

Now, there are those who would call me a sap or a sissy for something like that, and there are those who would prefer to pretend it hadn’t happened so they wouldn’t have to think about it. The former, I fear, are lost causes to this whole spirituality thing. Likely they’ve already given up what religion they were brought up into and have taken on cynicism and practicality in its stead. And that’s fine. It’s tragic. They’re missing out. But there is certainly a great part of me that agrees with them. The latter group, on the other hand, I think are actually more likely to have some spirituality of their own that they’re misusing. And I’m entering dangerous territory here, but I’d venture to say they’re the ones in need of help.

Would you begin to feel rather uncomfortable and start working on conversational exit strategies if someone confided in you that communion with Christ brought them to tears? I might not, depending on how well I know the person–but I’m talking about knowing them really very well. It’s a matter of sincerity, of intelligence and individual centeredness. The average person, I’m pretty sure, would want to avoid the subject like the plague. The problem, or one of them at least, is the whole co-optedness of the christian religion, and on a larger scale of organized religion in general. There are motives to consider–motives to avoid. So you brush such comments off and turn the discussion away to the infinitely safer worship of things like Ferris Wheels and the Sunday funnies. The danger in doing so is that the more often you do it the less likely you are ever to give the subject the consideration it deserves.

Religious ecstasy–personal communion with the incomprehensible–whatever you want to call it, it’s a category of experience akin to, yet entirely distinct from sex, drugs, love, grief, exertion or terror. Now, I’ve got an idea what your average christian might say to my equating tears for the beauty of a hillside in autumn with a holy sacrament, transcendence with transfiguration–but what else can I call it? What’s more, I’m not nearly finished stretching this parallel. I’d like to put both what Luke is doing in India and what Lucy and Mr. Tumnus are doing in Narnia into the same category. I’d like to demonstrate that religion is what I call fantasy, and that furthermore, the kind of reality my cousin Luke encounters in Delhi and Pune and Sevagram on a daily basis, mitigated (for us at least) through the ubiquitous blog though it may be, is the same thing.

Really, the first leap shouldn’t be all that difficult, though I don’t doubt it will meet with contention. Indeed, I hope it does. Religion is the belief in the beyond the palpable. Or rather, it was–in its pure form, at its inception. And fantasy, on a superficial level at least, is… shall we call it the capacity for pleasure in the beyond the palpable? Now, whether religion’s purpose is pleasure, whether in the incredibly long term or the short, we won’t get into here. But surely the Rapture, at least, must be counted a pleasurable experience. Surely religious ecstasy, though according to the textbook definition that includes only such rare emotional states as that of Joan of Arc on the pyre I haven’t experienced it firsthand, must not be entirely a misnomer, and must therefore bear some structural resemblance to sexual release. And if I can reach an emotional state I perceive to be of comparable intensity in imagining the sensation of burying my hands in Aslan’s mane, shouldn’t I have every right to draw parallels? Maybe Aslan isn’t the best example, he being Christ once removed, or vice versa, and me being the prepubescent Susan, who we know will grow up to renounce Narnia and get married and go lax in her archery practice and generally lose any value as a vessel for the reader’s empathy, being a rather absurd and perhaps disturbing notion from both a gender-stereotypical and a traditionalist fantastical standpoint. But this is neither the time nor the place (well, perhaps it is the place) to dissect that particular neurosis.

Then why not bring in Reality? If I can burst into tears of joy (which I flatter myself there are some in the world who will never have the privilege of experiencing except through the mitigation of literature which of course they won’t be enjoying nearly as much as they should) at the sight of a beechgrove ablaze in gold, then what excuse have I to draw a line between that glorious grove and the imagined shores of Valinor–or, for that matter, the gates of Eden, or the Silver City? Is it really all that significant a difference that the latter paradises are forever forbidden me except in imagination and/or death, while the former waits but twenty minutes’ walk from my front door? What is that difference? What is it, really? I propose it to be nothing more than whether I who imagine those eternal shores can take such joy from that mere image as I can from walking the mossy earth beneath the boughs, or for that matter driving past them on an empty road swept with falling leaves on my way to personal fulfillment.

This is rather a longer digression from Luke and India than I’d intended–and it could easily go longer. But it need not. Luke’s experience among the outcasts is what religion used to be and still is only for the very lucky, what that blazing yellow beechgrove is for me, what the thought of little Bilbo Baggins among the great elves and wizards on the Last Ship to Valinor is for so many. In this age of weblogofied reality, of the inescapable marketing slot, the ginormous scintillating My Ugly Uncle’s Ass With a Face Painted On It Takes Over Your Mother’s Job ad dancing like six coked-up thai prostitutes in oh about the bottom 33% of Charlie Brown’s Christmas, I’m afraid that anybody who tries to tell me unmitigated reality is not religion is going to get laughed off the stage. This thing we do every day, this isn’t reality anymore. What Luke does on the other side of the world, that is–and for that alone, I’m capable of experiencing the same kind of transcendent fantasy that made me cry as a kid, the same kind of transcendent reality that makes me cry in the woods on a cold winter’s day, just by reading Luke’s odd, oh-so-human, oh-so-wise and thoughtful and simple narration, and looking at the pictures of him with his hair dyed black among people who see mumaks on the streets every day and haven’t the first idea what the hell is fundamentally wrong with this place on the other side of the world where everybody drives monstrous shiny things bigger than elephants to work every day at the cost of a fraction of a human life per mile. And the weirdest thing about it is I don’t know whether it ought to make me happy or sad to be living in a world where such a thing is possible.

“Then, unbelievably, I saw something I thought only existed in my imagination: a bicycle whose chain was rerouted, via gears, to spinning a table saw. One person rides the bike, another person cuts wood. I felt like I’d seen the loch ness monster, or a purple elephant with two heads, or a giant squid.”
–Luke, HKE, 12/4/2004

Scientists Off the Deep End

A group at the University of Western Australia, calling themselves “the Tissue Culture & Art Project”, have grown–yes, grown, out of disembodied mouse skin cells–a tiny leather coat with two inch sleeves. They call it “Victimless Leather“.

They started up a website to show it off, but declined to include any information as to the scientific processes which produced it (which practically shouts HOAX, and they could certainly have CGI’d the few pictures shown a lot easier than growing them, but let’s ignore that for the moment since this time I can’t prove it and it’s going to be a lot more fun to assume this thing is real). Instead of wowing us with their mad cell manipulation skills, folks at TC&A (T&A?) seem to want us just to accept it as a concept, an artistic concept no less, and a springboard for social debate. They call it “an ambigious and somewhat ironic take into the technological price our society will need to pay for achieving ‘a victimless utopia'”.

Let’s take them up on the offer, shall we? Ambiguous, indeed! “Somewhat” ironic? Any utopian vision whose primary tenet is minimizing the pain inflicted on cows in order to produce cool clothes for motorcycle gangs is in for rough waters. Wouldn’t a victimless utopia require that people stop killing each other? How exactly are undead garments supposed to help achieve that?

Step back for a minute and consider the possibilities of a form of disembodied skin that does exactly what we tell it to (we being not so much the dupes whose flesh it will eventually utterly fail to protect from the elements in order to gain autonomy, but rather the oblivious psychos who grew it in a lab). Have these people never played Resident Evil? Have they never heard of Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Do they seriously expect us to believe our society will ever evolve a victimless utopia, let alone be led to it by a sci-fi genetics experiment gone horribly, horribly awry in which sentient doll clothes attempt to take over the universe, when they themselves assert they “would like [their] work to be seen in this cultural context, and not in a commercial context”?

Step back even further and give a little isolated consideration to the concept of disembodied skin. Aren’t we opening up a Pandora’s Box of epic proportions here? If two-day-old fertilized human egg cells are cause to treat doctors like witches, what’s to stop idiots from killing anybody they catch wearing a living leather coat?

Is this the best thing they can think of to do with these oh-so-sought-after, so-called “immortal” stem cell lines? Whatever happened to curing alzheimers? I am all for art, in any shape it wants to take (hence the line at the top of this blog about “at all levels and in all forms”)–until it starts stealing resources from things that might actually benefit humanity and aligning itself “ironically” with Evil. The Joker is the world’s first homicidal artist. I appreciate that. But I’m not about to let him use my blog.

“By growing Victimless Leather, the Tissue Culture & Art (TC&A) Project is further problematising the concept of garment by making it Semi-Living.”

Way to go, jerks. That’s what we need. Problematization. Where’s Michael Purpura with his Academics Anonymous labcoat and loony wagon when you need him?

"The Walls were Sturdy but the Floor was Rotten"

Assembly of Dust, as most of my readers are likely unaware, is the fortuitous and long-anticipated conjunction of two of the most dedicated and gifted musical and creative role models of my barefoot New England jam-scene roots: Reid Genauer, former lead singer and storyteller-through-song of Vermont folk-funk favorites Strangefolk, and Nate Wilson, organ virtuoso and composer-behind-the-throne of New Hampshire’s prog-pop Traffic-reincarnate, Percy Hill. Very little could have garnered greater anticipation on my part than the prospect of these two gentlemen coming together to write music. Nor was I disappointed. Case in point: their very first collaboration, a song called Circles of Circumstance, a live version of which is available in mp3 format from the a/v section of their site.

“Down and out among the wolves again…”

At their best, AoD are like The Band with heightened gospel influence and reduced self-importance; at their worst they are a Strangefolk cover band. Don’t get me wrong–that night when Nate and Percy Hill joined Reid and Strangefolk onstage at the Portsmouth Music Hall for a ten-piece big-band cover of “Goin Down the Road Feelin Bad”, when the balcony was bouncing to the rhythm of a hundred wiggling hippy booties and threatening to yank down the walls, was one of the formative experiences of my ill-spent youth. There was a time when I considered Strangefolk the Greatest Band on Earth, the obvious inheritors of the much-hyped, mostly-worthless jamband crown, and my personal idols. And the terrifying thing is I wasn’t the only one!

But thankfully I’ve grown up since then, and thankfully so has Reid Genauer. And that isn’t what they’re doing here among my annals of the real fantastical. No–I bring them up here because in the course of reforging his flagging career into something both he and I could respect, Reid constructed around himself the yard-thick, translucent granite lintels of an all-embracing, joy-heavy, nigh content-free, illusionary neo-druidic pseudoreligion the likes of which make the tripe that passes for paganism in this age of cellphone-induced brain cancer look like full-on velvet-clad Catholicism. Take a look at StoneChoirTablets.com, the site chronicling the dubious discoveries of Dr. Earnest Wonderbound, from which Reid’s new band took its name, and you’ll understand what I mean. Even with the contents of this website as my sole, thoroughly mediated and utterly unprimary source, I am quite convinced there never was any “Dr. Earnest Wonderbound III, of the University of South Whales” [sic], and that furthermore all the research and archaeological discovery attributed to said fictional figure are equally bunk.

This Wonderbound, they claim, uncovered evidence of a “ritualistic and deeply spiritual community” called the Assembly of Dust, that “existed in an intricate network from southern Europe to the Middle East” during the waning of the Roman empire. For feck’s sake, the discoverer of this incredible missing link among the long-fragmented celtic religions of cultures as far removed from each other as Asia Minor and Gaul, this religion lacking any precepts or doctrine besides getting together to make music and dance in the name of joy, is named Earnest Wonderbound–earnest wonder-bound! For feck’s sake! They might as well have called him Gullible Happyhippy!

My first thought on discovering this site was that Reid had been taken in by it himself. He had always struck me as a lovable guy with spirituality and joy to spare, someone generous with trust and friendship, who might be more interested in a new way to foster community among fans than scrutinizing its source for hidden truth. As a matter of fact I’d say a lot of the Strangefolk fans I knew, back when I was one of them, were the same way–and that ought not to reflect badly on any of them. I want to make it clear that despite my current disillusionment with them, the jamband scene, and in particular the Strangefolk scene, is a whole hell of a lot healthier both emotionally and functionally (though perhaps not intellectually) than, say, the metal scene.

Were I still the typical Strangefolk fan I once was, I might have stopped there, not perhaps agreeing with Reid’s odd spiritual precepts, but certainly not grudging them and willing to let him go on keeping my hippy booty shaking without thinking much more about it. I am, however, no longer that typical Strangefolk fan. I am a shrewd, calculating, Mad Fantasist, hunched among the shadowy ranks of Abdul Alhazred, Herbert Quain, Don Juan Matus, and even perhaps, under all that lovability, Reid himself. My interest in the subject of this mysterious Assembly and its precepts heightened by my newfound theory, I began to study the Stone Choir site more closely–and an entirely different and still more fascinating theory began to present itself.

“Earnest Wonderbound died in 1982 at the age of 102. He was survived by wife Hannah and 10 children; Sorrel, Otto, Gabrielle, Rachel, Rebecca, Ester, Otis, Walker, Reuben and Ann; many of whom were named after the 19 original Tavern Walkers.”

Reid couldn’t have been more than fourteen or fifteen years old in 1982. Strangefolk itself didn’t form until 1991. What kind of crazy coincidence is it then that at least five out of Wonderbound’s ten children’s names mysteriously correspond to the names of Strangefolk songs? The site doesn’t mention which of those ten names belonged to the original Tavern Walkers…but I’d be willing to hazard a guess.

Add to this the fact that the Stone Choir site wasn’t created until 2002–the same year Reid and Nate formed their new band.

But which came first? Surely, you may say, Reid based his songs on Wonderbound’s work, not the other way around! According to the Stone Choir propaganda, he made his discoveries way back in 1928! And it’s possible, I suppose. Remotely. But I am not normally a betting man, and I’d give you high odds that the opposite is the case.

Somebody–maybe not Reid, maybe not Nate, but somebody surely connected with their organization, and likely in cahoots with the web designer for AoD’s own site (given certain stylistic similarities)–fabricated this whole whacked-out ball of pseudoreligious fluff and bad research as an excuse to…what? Pull in some new fans from the neopagan crew? Cement the dedication of existing fans from mere fanaticism to religious zealotry? Doesn’t sound like half a bad idea when you put it that way, though I wonder how well it worked. If you’re inclined to laugh at the notion of equating a band like Strangefolk with religion, let me help–go read the review of Reid’s last Strangefolk show on JamBands.com. And make sure you’ve got some tissues handy!

I don’t know. Maybe I should have kept all this under wraps. After all, I’m always in favor of a little fiddling with reality, especially along such interesting lines and for the benefit of a fine creative cause as this. I’d pay these guys to make music myself if I had any money. I’d start a label just for them, and if pulling the wool off has hurt them in any way, I’m sorry. It’s just I’ve never had a really good excuse to cry hoax before. It’s quite thrilling–try it if you like:

Hoax! Hoax!

“Dr. Wonderbound is buried under a tremendous oak tree on a hill in Spokenville, England. His gravestone reads: ‘Here lies Earnest Wonderbound III – Beloved husband, father and keeper of magic – We Will Remain.'”

“And we live in and of each other
We will remain…”
–Strangefolk, So Well: the last words Reid sang with Strangefolk before taking his leave.