The SIN SUM SON trilogy

SIN SUM SON is a short story, or three short stories that go together, that I wrote in 2008, although part one only really came in 2011. Please excuse the typos and errors, this is still a draft really, I don't have an editor. Ah the joy of being your own editor! One day, someone will call me and tell me they want to be my editor, and I'll be their friend for life.

Jump down to part 2:SUM or part 3:SON

S I N - Schule Ist es Nicht

When I was at school I used to gaze out of the second story window of my geography classroom and wonder why nobody there could teach me what I really wanted to know. My fascination was growing in "the teaching outside the scriptures" and as soon as I had finished the final exams, I walked away from academia without so much as a backward glance.

I found myself following a road that few had trodden before. It was littered with the poems of great sages - Lin Chi, Ramana, the Shobogenzo. But otherwise I quickly found that I was entirely on my own. Trusting my intuition, I carried on.

After a time on the road, I took a rest on a rock on a holy mountain in India. A book lay open beside me. But I concentrated on my breaths, on my thoughts, on the source of knowing. What was knowledge? Could it really be taught? Concentrating on the source of thought took all my energy. Time and time again I turned my mind to the rhythm of my breath, and so turned to the source of mind, the source of sensation - and finally to the blankness that lies behind the mind. This I studied.

For days and weeks I trained myself in this. Each time my mind would become calm, but then would rise again- "I wonder what I will eat?", "It's time for bed" or dwelling on the past, replaying events with amazing clarity. There seemed to be nothing sublime in my head.

Unexpectedly, I was drawn into the world again, and once there, I relaxed into its comforts. I found myself in the arms of a beautiful woman. Waves of sensate bliss engulfed me. We made love by candlelight and touched that lightning rod - that blankness - that lies inside all things.

After a few weeks it ended, and I found myself on the road again, homeless. It was April in Europe and as it began to rain I climbed a mountainside and found a makeshift shelter. Again my mind turned to childhood memories, the voices of my parents played themselves through my head again and again, giving me encouragement.

A chance meeting on a street corner in a remote German town with a monk led me to a monastery in the countryside, where I found lodging for the summer. In between frenzied dancing in front of the monks' holy deity, we tilled the earth and harvested the straw. The wholesome lifestyle worked its mending ways on me. My skin was tanned brown and I shaved off my hair. When I had free time I sat in fields of sunflowers and meditated - I followed my breath again to that silent place, and held my concentration there, as if drilling through solid concrete.

Autumn came and I wandered south aimlessly, into and out of towns, sleeping in caves, railway stations, begging for food, not thinking of the future. In Venice I found myself in a church looking at a painting of Saint Anthony, living in a cave and I thought "how futile! - and yet that is exactly what I have been doing -I have abandoned the logic that runs the world and I am free - entirely free!" I wept for I knew that all around me people were in chains, and though the key was right in front of them, they could not see it.

After a few days I came to a town in the southern sole of Italy, where caves were hewn out of the solid limestone walls of a canyon. I resolved to say here an finish my work - the path had come to and end. There was no need for further travel as all the tools i needed were in my hands, and the treasure was inside me.

Time unwound as I sat in the cave, ignoring mosquitos, and the passing voices of villagers, who knew nothing of me. Stray dogs would come right up to me and sniff before running away. I remained motionless in meditation. My hungers and pains faded away as I chipped through the stone of silence in my mind with the pure force of concentration. Slowly the world faded away as I flicked away thoughts like insects, effortlessly becoming subsumed into the fire of pure consciousness.


16 September 1998 - The body of a young Australian man has been found dead in a cave in a town in Southern Italy. Italian police say the boy had been dead for some time before he was found by local villagers who were led to the body after a dog was found gnawing on a dismembered human hand. The boys parents have been informed.

* * *

S U M - School of the Unintelligible Media

I first became a student at SUM at the age of 12 after the government schooling ended. My father paid the fee for the first six months after which I got a job in the library answering enquiries (which I felt ill suited to answer but had some guidance from the second years) which paid my fees and gave me a good chance to read and learn something of the various ways of the world.

I loved the buildings that housed the school. The library was a tall structure full of light and air like a modernist cathedral. It was unadorned and bare - the front wall of light blue tinted glass sat above a white stone courtyard near a lake in the centre of the city. In the morning, when I arrived to study and work, the cool golden light poured in through the glass and onto the rows of books arranged along twelve balconies to the roof. I spent a lot of time alone on the floor coiled up in a volume off the shelf with the sun shimmering around me. On Fridays I would go to one of the lecture halls where a second or a third year student would be giving a talk. I also took guidance from an old second year student who taught me a lot of things about the school and its obscure protocols.

It was at this time that I also started seeing a lot of Anika. She loved me and I loved her. We walked by the lake and smoked together. She was an artist and lived in a loft in the old part of the city where she painted and pontificated about the faults of the school. I wrote my essays and laughed with her over a bowl of wine. I slept on her floorboards sometimes when it was too late to get back to the school. The view from her window overlooked a row of pin oak, and those leaves turned a brilliant red in autumn. It was a very high loft for that part of town, in an old Victorian gothic building, three or four stories above the street.

When I was 18 I was approached by one of the second years who suggested I sit my exam. I didn't even know there was an exam but supposed on reflection that there must be some way to get from first year to second year - although there were people I knew who had been in the first year forever. A couple of days after hearing about it, and with no idea of what to study, I was ushered into a large empty room in one of the rear chambers of the school. A robed second year student indicated a table at which was placed a single white sheet of paper “your time starts now” she said. I sat down and began to draw and write until I had covered both sides of the sheet of paper. I couldn’t say now exactly what I wrote - but when I had finished the second year came over and picked it up. Reading through it quickly she smiled and said “congratulations, you have passed”.

Moving to second year increased my commitment to the school. Not that I was bothered about many of the restrictions at that age, such as not joining the military or a political party or owning shares in a business or running a shop. There were also a few more rules on our movement, and about what we could say about the school and about our studies. Furthermore as a second year I no longer had to pay fees, and I was invited to participate in the running of the school a bit more, I could even lecture eventually, if I wanted to do that.

Anika wasn't very happy about the change as she was no longer allowed to see me in the evenings, and my new room was in a part of the school where only students could visit. This was the second largest building in town, known colloquially as the 'catacomb' as it was so easy to get lost in it. I began working in the kitchens and the garden, basic duties, and was under close supervision from other second years who furthered my learning. I was encouraged in a sort of philosophical essay writing and also began to participate in some of the consulting work that the school engaged in, working with government and industry and individuals who required a deep and thorough examination of an issue from the unique perspective that the school could offer.

It was this role that the school had within society that protected it. Many centuries before, society thought it had little use for such seemingly abstract studies. The focus was on the measurable achievements of individuals and nations. It was only through the agonies that followed the collapse of technology that people realised that in an infinite universe, the unmeasurable, unknowable and the unintelligible are always present, no matter how far you extend your understanding. A stable system had evolved to give space to these things within the structure of society, and allow them to form a counter balance to the tangibles of science and the material world, without one or the other ever having the upper hand.

I began to have more contact with the third year students, who were recognisable by their red or orange apparel (second years usually wore blue - I had a nice indigo scarf) and who introduced me to some of the deeper strata of thought that underpinned the schools design and purpose. They encouraged in me a yearning toward the solitary that fed my philosophical thought. "This is the source" they would say - then point me toward the work of some old poets.

Anika became more distant at this time, she found work with a design company and was often out of town. I missed her deeply, and it was the only time I ever considered leaving the school, and fought at its restrictions. Although I had found comfort and new company within the walls of the school and in old books and manuscripts, it was easy to feel that I was missing out on life in the real world, missing out on something exciting. I spoke to a third year about it, who encouraged me to take time away from the school if I wanted – but the proviso was that I would have to re-enter as a first year, and that I might never be given the option of taking the second year exam again. Recognising that I was at a crossroads in my life, I dawdled over the decision, and Anika slipped away.

SUM wasn’t a school that taught you how to get on in the world. if you wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor, to study something vocational, it was necessary to go to a university. SUM’s teaching was useless in a directly practical conventional sense. On the other hand, although it mightn’t be preoccupied with study of the world, it was concerned with the study of life, and of the ultimate – It presupposed the existence of an ultimate purpose, if not a being. To get on in the school, it was necessary to put aside your personal goals and submit to the ‘great purpose’. What confused me at first, was that there was no easy definition of this purpose. As a first year, it seemed that the great purpose was to work out the nature of the great purpose. This idea didn’t work so well now that I was in second year – in fact most second years seemed to be toying with the idea that there was no great purpose at all.

Some of the third years travelled and I accompanied one on a journey to the Unistadtz one year, I think I was about 26. We flew into Seattle where there was a famous school, one of the founding institutions. As we descended over the countryside I was amazed by the snaking concrete rivers of traffic and the power lines, in between green fields and forests just turning yellow at the beginning of autumn. Before this I had never seen big civilisation. The school was an enormous structure of glass and steel, along familiar lines, although the central point was a huge black tower almost without windows, just one or two narrow slits at irregular intervals and a small turret balcony several hundred stories up on one side.

It was here that I was first introduced to an honours student. I had known that people sometimes go on to take honours but there were none in my school. This person was dressed entirely in white and they sat in at one of the meetings the third year I was accompanying had with the other students there. I couldn't see the honours student's face properly and he or she only occasionally whispered to a third year from the Seattle school, they were giving advice on certain issues. I was told they rarely speak and only to certain senior third years. Most of their time is spent in solitary meditation in a special area of the school. Their advice is treated like nectar, like poetry.

Their writing is not hard to come by however, and was among that recommended to me when I first joined the second year. It was always published anonymously so it was impossible to really know who the author was, even if they were still alive or a historical figure. Some of them painted or did other things, a few composed music. Otherwise they seemed to have a very low profile in the day to day running of the school.

I was admitted to the third year after ten years as a second year student, mainly on the strength of one essay I wrote, which had been published by the internal system and was well received by other schools, which gave our school some international attention for a while. Becoming a third year student was a much greater commitment than I had had till now, and there were only a few hundred of this rank in my school. Traditionally we engaged in the most menial tasks such as cleaning and repairing pipes. However we were also responsible for the running of the school and in selecting the membership of the senate at capital hill.

I had already been tutoring the new first years for some years and now began to give occasional lectures. I also corresponded with other third years across the globe on various issues to do with the education of the first years. However the primary change for me was the beginning of the solitary life. My new dormitory was very small but I had my meals delivered so I was able to meditate for long periods of time undisturbed. This suited my temperament and improved the quality of my thought.

The meditation techniques I had developed over time as it was part of our learning at first year level. What effect this has on your work and life is hard to describe. It is a subjective effect which influences what is experienced as the world and as time. To someone outside the school however it would probably seem as if I had a particularly absent mind. It improves the quality of thought and is of course the cornerstone of the schools reputation.

After some years as a third year student I got an invitation to visit Seattle to take part in some meetings about governance over the course of a couple of months, and had my second encounter with an honours student. This student wanted to discuss one of my books with me. We took tea together one afternoon. We talked a little but spent much of the time in what they call silence. This was my first experience of what is a remarkable kind of conversation, a flow or transmission of something unable to be captured by the nuts and bolts of language. There are old stories of the historical Buddha having conversations with up to eight disciples simultaneously in this way.

The meeting had a powerful effect on me and I began to make enquiries about taking honours. I was told to apply with the governing council in England who would invite me to interview if they thought me a suitable candidate. Some months passed before I received a little red envelope in the mail. Inside was a letter inviting me to interview - it asked to bring along some recent papers i'd written. I had no idea how to prepare. My fellow third years could offer me little advice as none of them had ever applied to do honours. I found some old references to it in the library but they were elusive as to any actual selection criteria, if there was any. I did find one passing reference which seemed to use the phrase 'taking honours' interchangeably with 'taking poison'.

I arrived in Old Sarum, in England, in the cold January of my 50th year. The Sarum school is small but exclusive and it was rare for third year's to have a reason to visit. When I arrived I was given lodging in a simple stone tower, which was unheated, and invited to tea the next day to discuss my application with the council. When I entered the room I was faced with a dozen honour students sitting in a semicircle around an oval table. They were pouring tea and invited me to sit. It is difficult to describe the interview as anything other than taking tea. We did discuss my work but not in an analytical way. They asked me whether I took sugar or if I liked my tea black. There were long silences. Eventually we all finished our tea and I was ushered out, it seemed the interview had finished.

I was led back to my room by an old man wearing a grey tunic. He asked me if i'd had any sugar in my tea, I said no, I wasn't used to taking sugar. He seemed pleased by that. The next day I returned home to my school, where life continued as normal for a number of months, however I stopped writing papers as this was a requirement whilst my application was pending.

One morning I awoke and felt a sudden relaxation of every synapse in my brain, as if a film I had been watching was suddenly burnt through by the projector beam. I had had moments of satori since my teens whilst meditating and this was comparable but it resonated deeper - no longer contained within my human frame, I felt like the pixels of my vision were the sands of an hourglass, and I was witness to the swirling forces of time, eons in fast motion flashed before me as the great plan of the universe unfolded - which was as ordinary and as beautiful as a spring morning.

I decided to begin my studies without the authorisation of Sarum. After making some enquiries, I decided to take up my studies at a much smaller school near Düsseldorf where a few of honours students lived and worked. The day to day routine was mostly menial but some of the other students were involved intermittently in high level advice to various school councils around the world. My own school didn't contact me at all for the first few years. I was grateful for the time alone.

One day the man in the grey robe appeared and spoke to me about my study. We made tea - and the next day when he had left I found a white robe in my room. That night I began work on my dissertation, which has absorbed me completely to this day. It has been fifteen years and I have nearly finished the first page.

You ask me if the man in grey was himself a student. He was doing his PhD. I don't know if anyone has ever actually 'graduated' from the school. I suppose that is an outdated concept. Some say that the founder was a graduate, technically. Others say that graduates just slip back into the world. But I can't see myself ever graduating. It is like an atomic particle approaching the speed of light requires all the time in the universe to overcome that last increment of acceleration.

I am a lucky man. I live simply. And I am grateful to my school for teaching me about life. I like the smell of a fresh cup of tea. And I like the autumn leaves and the smile of a friend. I like silence. There is very much more to these things than is apparent at first glance, although perhaps I should rather say that everything is contained within the first glance, but we keep looking as though we have not seen it, as though we are blind.

* * *

S O N - School of Nothing

I couldn't be arsed, frankly, to fill in the application form for university so I sent it in blank. Four months later I was informed that I had been offered a position in the school for doing absolutely nothing (much) and would I like to take it up? as my mother had been going on at me about "when was I going to buckle down and do something about my education" I decided that I might as well.

I found the small building in an out of the way part of the college. It was an old temporary demountable near the storage sheds and a small mob of delinquents like myself were hanging around outside smoking. Eventually the doors were thrown open from inside and a youngish unshaven guy in geography teacher cords asked us all to come in "if we could be bothered".

Inside there were a few tables and chairs but half of us sat on cushions that were strewn about on the floor. The teacher/lecturer what have you sat on the corner of the table at the front and watched us all settling down for a few minutes.

"welcome to the school of nothing." he said. "you've all arrived here because you didn't fill in your forms correctly, which means you didn't satisfy the basic criteria for a western education. congratulations. You have successfully dodged the first hurdle. there will be many more. there is nothing silly about the study of nothing. it is one of the oldest strands of learning whose history stretches back into antiquity and beyond. unfortunately it has been neglected for the last few centuries by our society, and I intend to reverse that."

He picked up a piece of chalk and drew a circle on the board. then he rubbed it out. then he walked over to the doors that were still open and allowing a shaft of early morning sun to stream in, and shut them and turned the key in the lock. then he walked to the middle of the room. "this is not going to be easy" he said.

then he sat down in the middle of the room and closed his eyes. He seemed to be resting. we all watched him and shuffled a bit. a slight giggling started around the room. "that's not nothing" he shouted "that's giggling! concentrate on nothing".

So we all just sat there. everyone got bored. "can we go now?" someone asked after a few minutes "no, the lesson isn't over yet. the lesson ends at 11 o'clock. till then we are studying nothing. now shut up".

So we sat there in the dark till 11 o'clock when the teacher abruptly stood up and walked over to the doors. He turned the lock and threw them open. "see you all on thursday" he said, then walked off towards the cafeteria.

a few people burst out laughing when he was gone. "that was weird" "is he totally crazy?" "are you going to come back on thursday?" someone asked me. I didn't know. at least i could tell mum that I was going to university. "yeah" I said "it's better than geology".

On thursday morning I joined a much smaller group of students waiting outside the demountable for the teacher to arrive. "I thought I might as well come" seemed to be the consensus - after all we would all have only been doing nothing anyway, so might as well do it officially.

Eventually we caught sight of the teacher. he was waving at us from over on the oval. "what's he doing?" Eventually we realised he wanted us to join him so we all meandered over. "Lets all sit down here" he said when we arrived. "it's a nice day today".

"Why study nothing?" our teacher opened with a question. "Really, study is the wrong word but we're stuck with it as this is a university. But studying nothing is not the reverse of studying something. nor is it exactly the same as doing nothing. although doing nothing is a very interesting parallel stream to this course that you might want to investigate one day..."

"what really is nothing?" he left the question hanging in the air. It hung there for a long time, long enough for us to get very uncomfortable. the sun was beating down. cicadas were whirring off in the distance and voices echoed distantly about the buildings of the university. Somewhere a bat hit a ball and a crowd shouted. a light breeze came up and then it went away. I started wondering about other things.

"THAT" he said at last, probably about 20 minutes later "is only a very light brush with nothing. nothing can get a lot more full-on than that. but I don't want to make you all insane. most of you drifted off after about three minutes." then he looked at me "you stayed with us for a little longer. but there is still a long long way to go."

after that we walked back to the demountable and filled in some forms and administrative stuff for the university. "my name's Jim Beam by the way" he introduced himself "- no relation. i've been running the school of nothing for five years but have never had a graduate. if none of you graduate they'll close me down" he sighed at the end of the lesson. As we filed out of the classroom I determined that I would stay on with the course till the bitter end, even though it was crazy and I could see no obvious merit in having done it. at least I would be able to please my mum by being a student. and Jim Beam would get his first graduate.


"Today: readings". it was our third lesson. Jim beam was standing at the front of the class with a pile of books. Only three of us students had arrived in class today. "the RigVeda - ancient tome containing some of the earliest descriptions of nothing in the human language. He flipped it open and began to read: "

Soma, give us brightness, give us heaven, give us all good things; and make us happy.
Soma, give us strength, give us wisdom, drive away our enemies; and make us happy.
Priests, press out the Soma for Indra to drink; O Soma, make us happy. .."

he placed the book back on the table and picked up another "the Ribhu Gita : "

"Abide as That in which there are neither thoughts nor a thinker, neither the arising nor the preservation nor the dissolution of the world, nothing whatsoever at any time - and be always happy, free from all traces of thought..."

the next book he picked up and read from was very old and battered:

"The CONFIG.SYS file is a text file that contains special commands. These commands configure your computer's hardware components so that MS-DOS and applications can use them. When MS-DOS starts, it carries out the commands in the CONFIG.SYS file. Typically, the CONFIG.SYS file is located in the root directory of drive C."

"that book" he said "may turn out to be the most useful of them all to you. Next we turn to the Poets:

"She left me at the silent time
When the moon had ceased to climb
The azure path of Heaven's steep,
And like an albatross asleep,
Balanced on her wings of light,
Hovered in the purple night,
Ere she sought her ocean nest
In the chambers of the West."

"a warm bosom of a poet is Shelley. He knew all about this subject.

"the whole weight of everything too much
my heart in the subway pounding subtly
headache from smoking dizzy a moment
sliding uptown to see karmapa buddha tonite"

that's lines from another old dead prophet. let's go outside"

We walked up onto the hill above the university. Jim uncorked a bottle of old indian cookery rum wrapped up in a paper bag and passed it around. One of the students asked if it was alright to light up a cigarette and it was so we all did. Jim talked amiably for about half an hour as the sun spun slowly overhead.

"i suppose this has all been said and done before. the beats, the hippies, the new-agers have all had a stab at this. every line drawn on the sand is washed away by the next wave. maybe something is left. maybe this is just one part of the cocktail - the squirt of lemon probably" he took a suck at the bottle and continued "my story is simple. when I was your age i couldn't bear the idea of a university education so I went to india. 'that will be my university' I thought. and so I went to india and it was all there.. the source the way.. I hung out in temples. I got blessed by holy men. I hung out with crazy dried up hippies. I got sick, of course, everyone gets sick. I sat on holy mountains and meditated. I wanked my self into a stupor. I didn't touch the weed, back then. eventually the blinding light hit me. a switch in my head "all is one"; simple as that. if all is one then all is nothing. one and the same thing. that's eternity for you". he took another sip and handed the bottle on. it was exceptionally rough rum, good for cold weather. But it was hot today. eventually 11.oo came around and we all went our ways.

Lesson number 4 was back in the demountable. There was only me and another student, Sally Oman, so Jim decided we'd do some meditation. As I sat there with my back to the wall and my legs crossed, I had a good chance to consider the ridiculousness of the course I was studying. Breathe in breathe out. Jim was wheezing, I noticed that. Breathe in breathe out. Sally was pretty .. i tried to quash those thoughts as unsuitable for meditation. Breathe in Breathe out. Suddenly, I stepped backward from my thoughts and into an empty place in my mind.

It was like the image of the Apollo lunar lander detaching from its orbiter and slowly gravitating towards the moon. the frenetic energy of my own thinking carried on within the confines of this capsule floating through empty space. I was reminded of a washing machine on the spin cycle. but I hovered above – and I did not think ‘ I am hovering above’ as my thinking brain was disengaged, rather I perceived it, as one perceives a visual image, or a sound. As I watched my thoughts, against the blank background of my own breath, they became alive and grotesque, like bacteria in a petri dish. I had an irresistible urge to turn away - I blinked and with a sharp intake of breath it was over.

Jim called it a day and we all wandered out. "this is crap isn't it" he said out loud to no-one in particular as he stood in the doorway. Bleary eyed, Sally and I hurried away.

I missed the next few lessons. There didn't seem to be much point in going in. I did some meditation at home instead, and got a few visuals out of it, but the effort was immense and I kept falling asleep. I told mum we had been told to stay away and work on a project which wasn't too far fetched. I was doing plenty of nothing that was for sure. I didn't see much point in anything else. The money kept coming in from my student loan. I had my bike and my music and my books into which I sunk the sunny summery days. Sometimes i'd go for a walk in the hills and sit in a tree.

I told Jim about all this when I returned to school. "ah you are well established on the road of the dharma now" he said with a knowing smile. "I spent a lot of time doing exactly those things when I was your age. Except I also fucked a lot of women. You're not doing that." then he winked " ha ha only joking about that last bit mate" Jim seemed a bit high on something today.

"Today I want you to do some field work. Go out onto the grounds of the university and return here with something that for you represents nothing. You've got 10 minutes."

Sally and I ran off. When we returned sally was carrying a plastic bag but I had returned with nothing as that was the best representation of nothing that I could think of. As soon as he saw us he started screaming "that's rubbish! what are you even doing here! you have completely missed the point of the exercise" and he chased us out of the building with a chair.

The next lesson was similar. We meditated for half an hour then he asked us to say one word that represented nothing. He turned to me first and I came up with "god" because that seemed to be the gist of much of the reading material he'd given us, whereupon he flew into a tantrum and chased me out of the building. I never found out what Sally's word was.

For the next few lessons he asked us to do similar things. "draw a picture of nothing", "what colour represents nothing" "find a line from the readings that summates nothing for you". Eventually he would fly into a rage as soon as we arrived to class. "what are you doing here!?" he would shout at me and Sally. "this is the school of nothing - FUCK OFF!!".

Sally and I were concerned about Jim's breakdown, so we decided to speak to someone in the University about it. Technically Jim's unit was within the department of philosophy, even though he seemed to act independently of the university. "We've given Jim a lot of rope, over the years" said the head of the department when we met him in his office one afternoon. "Jim came to us with a novel idea some years ago - that instead of filling student's heads with knowledge, he would try and empty that knowledge out. It appealed to us from a philosophical perspective - getting back to first principles and all that - and although a few of us had doubts about his qualifications we were ready to give it a try. Unfortunately his drinking seems to have got the better of him lately". He reached over to a shelf behind him and took down an A4 booklet stapled in the corner. "this was his first prospectus, it is good, even brilliant in places". He handed it down to me. "You can keep it if you like. Unfortunately he's never had a graduate".

The book was titled "Beyond first principles - a study of the unintelligible media". I put it in my bag. "What about Jim? asked Sally. He hasn't been able to teach us anything lately". "Unfortunately we are going to have to put an end to Jim's experiment" said the head. "I think he has run up against the intrinsic difficulties of such a study and has let the guard down on his own vices".

Not long after that I saw that the demountable had a new use as one of the buildings of the philosophy school - for the study of 12th-14th century scholasticism. I never saw Jim Beam again. But I read his book. It was filled with poetry, drawings, short stories. There were blank pages left intentionally blank. There was a long critical essay dissecting the philosophy of Rousseau. There was a recipe for hash cakes. Finally there was a long suggested itinerary for travel to holy sites in India.

Sally and I did travel to India eventually. As well as the uncommon inspiration We found in Jim Beam's defunct school of nothing, we found that we shared a lot of interests - butterflies, sailing, rock cakes. Unfortunately, after a few months Sally got violent diarrhea and returned home. I am still here on the road but that's another story.

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