"The Finding of Nowever Then"
By Paterson De Sanctis
Greetings to you and welcome. I am Paterson DeSanctis, President and "Grand Old Man" of the Nowever Then Association. The above account was based on a rather long-winded lecture I delivered to a couple of prospective citizens of Nowever Then just before my retirement. (The wind was due to aged broccoli, a great quality of which played a role in the aerodynamism experiments of Dr. Zeno Clamp, a slightly mad local scientist.)
It's good that I finally wrote down a concise description of my grandfather's (and his friend's) discovery. I'm going to institute this narrative as part of every newcomer's orientation. We have not had new arrivals in about a decade - I'm not entirely sure why - so I'm thrilled to have three novices on our "doorstep" this year. This much is certain: Qui transtulit sustinet!
I will now relate how one of these new arrivals - a particularly prestigious one - came to Nowever Then. Imagine this: A man is engaged in his favorite pasttime - sailing. The only problem is, his boat is now a raft of logs and he's not quite sure what happened. Shipwreck perhaps? Or maybe this threadbare raft is all he's ever owned. Continents of fair-weather clouds inch across the boundless blue above the sea he drifts on. A healthy wind has fattened his sheet and now he sits on the deck, leaning against the legs of his lonely folding chair.
He looks like a seafaring man, this George Franklin: squarely built, he sports a permanent week-old growth of salt-and-pepper beard. His coral-colored pullover is sun-bleached; his weathered khakis, carelessly rolled at the cuffs, reveal a pair of tanned ankles above his blue deck shoes.
George Franklin at Nowever Then's
To use his own words, he is "drunk on the spaciousness of the day." It's the sudden long-forgotten sense that perhaps, after all, there is no such thing as time. You know the feeling, even if in a small way. It's like the return of spring (to pick a favorite season). It's that sudden recapturing of an age - or many ages - in a rounded and almost gustative rush of sweet release from the simple "now." (A warning, Reader: If you recoil at the depiction of such feelings, I suggest you quit this excursion forthwith.)
So there he leaned, on the deck of his vessel. He would claim he felt light-headed, almost dizzy. The remarkable thing, according to him, was that he suddenly felt good. Suddenly felt good. "It was all sweetness and light," he later would say. Now I suspect the best thing to do his to hand you over to him - rather to a transcript (here slightly doctored) taken down at his orientation, in the library of my mansion. Picture him, if you please, among my fifty thousand volumes. In attendance were the other two newcomers, myself, and several prominent Noweverthenians, including my wife, Nelly, and our eldest son, Bertrand.
"Yes," Franklin continued, "this feeling of well-being... How long has it been since I've known it? This freshness, the removal of something heavy - that clenching complexity in the background. My God, but shouldn't it have been like this all along? This is surely it. I feel that there is nothing that can deny it or despoil it now that I have it. Am I right? Am I right? God, the everness of it, pure and free. " Here Franklin paused. He looked at everyone - seemed to look through everyone - and gently patted the air before him as if to still his listeners. "I ... I felt that now-ness was near. That's what I've always called it. But it has the same rounded fullness of life that a memory of a past age has, that sense of trueness that is forced alive by a particular scent or musical sound."
At this point, my son Bertrand was heard to softly whistle a descending tone from the other end of the long mahogany table. We all knew that an absolutely kindred spirit had arrived.
Franklin continued: "It was all sweetness and light, that's what it was; and this has to be the subject of my talk. Seeing as you require every new person here to tell his tale, I cannot do better than to relate it. I've never been a talker, but... I mean..." (Here he paused and gave a self-absorbed snigger.) "But I have exactly the right thing to say. The right thing at the right time. This is it, isn't it? I mean - ha! - this is the place! This is the place to tell you about it!"
Franklin's face, which all along had kept a grim demeanor, now lit up - mirabile dictu! - like a delighted child's. The man's look expected a sympathetic response and this we gave him in complete honesty: everyone present, ignited by his staccato chuckle, laughed along with him so that the table quickly seemed occupied by a band of drunken lodge members. "But of course, Franklin!" I cried, slapping him on the shoulder. "Of course this is the place! Have some more gin!" We knew he had trouble verbalizing his intended meaning. But it was clear to all that he understood what he had happened upon - and understood it deeply. He knew that, in a sense, we had been waiting for his arrival. One might say that all his life we had been waiting to greet him and hear him relate his precious concept - his Now Everness, as he called it. Franklin had come home.
Let's stop for a few more questions.
Question: So he came on a boat or raft. Is that it? Is that the secret?
Answer: I've already explained that a person can arrive at Nowever Then in various ways. You see, it's has to do with --
Answer: Ahem, the actual approach is not usually important. The truth about the method of entry is coming up.
Question: Okay, so what's all this "everness" stuff? What is meant by "Franklin had come home?"
Answer: Gentle questioner, I'm afraid you should give up right here. There's a fine website I know that deals with disco bowling... Well, okay, let us simply say that the words everness, now-everness, etcetera, are akin to certain very specific musical harmonies. Go listen to certain fleeting leitmotivs in Ravels piano music, in Mahler, in Copland, in Stravinsky -- you will know which parts I mean -- then take two aspirin and come back.
[Let's imagine that two weeks have passed.]
Question: Musical ... harmonies ... How did ... you know? ... certain mu...si...cal ... har...mo...nies ...
Answer: Congratulations! By your dreamy face I see that you have comprehended all along (though no one fully comprehends). Now tuck away your rapture and let's continue with Paterson's essay. In the following part we hear about Franklin's entry into Nowever Then. Click on NEXT PAGE.