Conversations With Hrodgar, Part 2

More of the correspondence between Hrodgar and myself…

11 September of 2005


Thank you for your kindness in replying and the gentleness of your admonishment. I do not intend becoming a problem to you. The fine line bright line is easier to see in daylight than at 4 am, hasn’t it ever been thus! It is, as you put it seldom so neatly defined. We are such confusing creatures, full of contradiction, I am both relieved and disappointed. Perhaps because this is written while the birds morning call is still in my ears. I am by nature not a credulous person and yet it is true that the strangeness of truth often exceeds the banality of our understanding. Whether you are as you say or not is unimportant to me. The mind behind the keyboard is real and, if willing to converse in the written word then I am well pleased even though it is in your words an extraordinarily poor cousin to personal interaction.

My inbuilt consequence engine played out the possibilities and the written word seems in daylight the preferable, if less immediate way forward. I cannot propose anything of value in my writing other than truth as I know it, you have no obligations to me of any kind. My purpose is unclear to me, part fascination and curiosity along with a degree of compulsion that is not based on reason, but as with many of my actions, that compulsion will be held in check by a quiet voice. I did not express it well but I think it was the drowning out of that voice and the abandoning of rationality that I both feared and craved. You writing speaks to me of this eloquently.

In your earliest memories it was clear that you had been seriously injured to the extent that your recollection of the past at that point was destroyed. It is hard to damage a brain so badly that the first feelings and imprints of mothering are lost even to dreams. Your pursuit of physical contact could in part be a response to your too early parting from a mother figure, or the loss of those memories. Perhaps without the usual consequences you experience a freedom forbidden most people. You have the ability to truly love and be loved, a gift normally given through a mothers nurturing care of a child. The puzzle of your being is intriguing, make sure you never let a geneticist at your DNA or you will never find peace. The ability to produce a portrait from an individuals genome is rapidly advancing and a drop of your blood to someone who understood its value would be a prize that many would spend great fortunes seeking. I am certain you already know of these things but please do not take them lightly.

If I ask impertinent or silly questions please forgive me and understand no answers are demanded, it is merely my curiosity expressing itself.

When you escaped from the sea and your feet grew back, do you recall the way of it? You described it as happening at a furious pace, being remade by the hour. I am fascinated as to how the limbs took form again. The way it happened might explain much about how you came to be.

Hrodgar, I am told is from a Roman name meaning accurate with a spear. Do you know if this is true? I have spent an inordinate part of my life becoming accurate with a pistol and once owned many guns. I have none now, a condition imposed by my wife before marriage and while not my preference I am happy to live without the complications.

Have you regained your pleasure at beholding the night sky? For me, on the occasions when I am far from a city the stars provide a humbling and yet comforting sense of scale, a sight that refreshes my sense of wonder. Our span is so short in the scale of things.

Finally your statement about creativity and your lack of it. If you are as you say then you more than make up for it with the richness of your past. Creativity is something others see in me but I not in myself. Often what they think is new and fresh is just conjured associations from the sea of experience, a new assembly of things already known. Now it is only when I dream or tell stories to my daughter I feel creative in myself. My creativity mostly seems just the ability to see connections that other have not seen before. My skill is probably the way of taking an idea and making it something alive that will drive others to bring it into being. There is a place below consciousness where I can sometimes know things I have never heard or seen and I can go there and bring out surprises on occasion. I have never really been satisfied with my art, yet others like it. If you are indeed just an idea then you exist in an exceedingly creative mind with a remarkably broad knowledge of the past and present and are no less interesting because of it. A creative lack of creativity expressed in a denunciation of what is clearly true. What a charming conundrum, nonetheless you seem real enough to me.


16 September of 2005

Dear Hrodgar,

I intended no admonishment, gentle, or otherwise. My words were simply advice based upon hard won experience. If they offered some guidance then that is all to the good, but beyond such things they have little meaning. After all, I am quite free to ignore you.

Creativity is an odd beast. While one could easily attribute my presented recollections to creative efforts, for me they are tortured constructs. Often the recalling and retelling of tales engenders a deep sadness within me that I overcome only with patience and experience. When I long for the past I must force myself to be ever mindful of the futility of such things. Of late I am forced to remind myself of this almost daily. There is only today and the hope of a tomorrow. The past may inform you, but never should it rule you, for the past is a pitiless master.

My escape from the sea was a near thing, though I did not regard it such until recently. This might seem odd to you, but I had never made much habit of analyzing my own past. I am far more comfortable turning my critical functions upon the words and actions of others. Introspection is indeed a familiar tool, but I tend towards the recollection of feeling and motive, rather than act and fact. It was not until I began keeping a journal of sorts in 1838 that I began to think upon the things that I had done as opposed to the things I had felt. When I set upon my online journal the exploration of those past experiences seemed a natural avenue to pursue.

I have wandered from the topic. Do forgive me.

I am not an expert in physiology so I warn you not to expect a ?blow by blow’ description of things; however, the first event was the healing and regeneration of my skin. When I was tossed upon the shore my skin was a sodden sheath that seemed to hang upon my bones as some sort of shroud. It began to split and fall away as soon as I moved- underneath there was merely a layer of raw and tender flesh. I remember pain, but only dimly for my appetite overpowered all other distractions. Within a day I believe my skin had become more resilient, and I do recall the stumps of my legs had a different form, as if the ends of the long bones had reformed.

I was driven to return to the sea, to gather fish and mollusks, eating many shells and all. Even then my hunger was never satisfied. It would come upon me in waves: an overpowering need to feed followed by a torpid state interspersed with much pain and twisted, terrible dreams. My feet and ankles returned quickly, over a period of less than two weeks. Once the joint reformed (bear in mind this all took place under the skin so my observations were somewhat limited), each of the sections of the foot would return, proceeding almost as if being rebuilt in segments. By the time it was done I doubt I massed more than six stone, if that; however, once I was again fully motile I took up the hunting of small game and rapidly returned to my normal weight.

As I noted earlier, I believe this episode was the closest I ever came to truly dying. It was not until I undertook the detailed recollection of such things that I came to that conclusion, but on this day it seems quite clear to me. Ever since that time I have harbored an intense fear of the open sea. It is not water, or the seashore that frights me, but the open expanse of the ocean, beyond sight or hope of land. To this day I do not gladly suffer voyage by sea. It is somewhat a miracle I made the voyage to North America in the early seventeenth century, but I was driven by desperation and a magistrate’s decree. I shall confess to being pleased with the outcome, but if forced to repeat such a journey under those conditions… I shudder at mere contemplation of it.

Regarding your name, Hrodgar. It is actually quite familiar to me, being more of Germanic origin than Roman, and is more akin to “strong spear”, where ?strong’ would be taken as reliable, or dependable. In a hunting party the strong spear casts first, and often is credited with the kill. In war, the strong spear holds fast and anchors the line. It is an admirable name and well worth knowing. I have been the property and plaything of more than one individual bearing that name or its precursors.

It disconcerts me more than I thought it might that certain segments of the modern world have taken such a dim view of self-defense in general and firearms in particular. I go armed whenever possible, and I will go to some lengths to avoid situations where carrying a weapon is forbidden. I see it as a social responsibility that citizens should be prepared to enforce social norms- this forms the backbone of any true civilization. The Romans understood this. The Americans still do, though they are beginning to buckle under the constant assault of those who prefer comfortable tyranny to an uncertain liberty. The British Isles and Western Europe are nearly a lost cause so it pains me to know that yet another bastion of the Anglosphere may yet fall to such nonsense. I shall refrain from proselytizing, but I submit there were many innocent and law-abiding people in New Orleans, Louisiana who suddenly found themselves wishing they had the means to defend themselves. Civilization is more fragile than you know. Defend it.

I do wish this missive had not ended on such a strident note, but such is the outcome when more than a quart of scotch has passed the lips. Do take care.

With the kindest of regards,

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