In Memory of Alan Turing

An Essay by Bob Boldt

“Love the sinner; hate the sin.” This merciful axiom is supposed to rule the Christian attitude toward behavior not sanctioned by Scripture. It is unfortunate that, in the hands of many, it translates into “Hate the sinner.” This attitude has seldom found a more tragic application than in the life of groundbreaking British mathematician, Alan Turing.

June 23rd was the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest theoretical minds in the history of science—and a tragichero. During WWII, Turing single-handedly broke the Germancommunications code saving thousands of Allied lives and assuringvictory over Hitler.

Turing’s mind was something unique in science. He was capable of detecting patterns where others saw only chaos. His contributions to the fields of communications theory, artificial intelligence (TheTuring Test) and morphogenesis are still contributing to our knowledge and understanding of the modern world he so brilliantly anticipated in his brief 42 years of life.

He is a tragic hero because his homosexuality caused him to run afoul of the then draconian British legal system that viewed homosexuality as a crime punishable by prison or chemical castration. Turing’s choice of the latter caused his suicide.

People of sense and intelligence must reject many of the moralistic conclusions of those who regularly bludgeon the body politic with their unyielding standards of morality concerning sex. Their dogmatism is not only degrading the social and political dialog here, but, left unchallenged and unchecked, is already beginning to turn back decades of enlightened jurisprudence. A modern society does not need some archaic code formulated in obeisance to a demented, paternal God to provide clear, ample guidelines for behavior and to develop humane, legal formulations.

Nietzsche said, “Beware in casting out your demons that you do not cast out the best part of yourself.” We need to be extremely careful in our rejection of other’s behavior. We must stringently ask ourselves “Who is harmed?” Christianity’s “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” often morphs into “Hate, persecute and prosecute the sinner.” This has lead to all manner of crimes and atrocities unparalleled in human history and has resulted in the martyrdom of geniuses from Hypatia of Alexandria to Giordano Bruno. This anti-science Christian zealotry has cost us the loss of some of the greatest minds humanity has produced. Alan Turing is only one modern example. His loss to us is tragic and incalculable.

Father, Again, Peering

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

The final years dear Mother she
was never, well, what actors call “on location.”
Physically, of course, we found her

everywhere:
the parlor reading,
the kitchen ironing,

the basement weeping,
unlike Father whom we never found
though he was always there.

On Sundays when he went to Mass,
he’d stay behind, peering.
Like Queeg, he’d stare

from under or behind
whatever he wasn’t
hiding in front of.

Father’s Day Reverie

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

I have been sentenced to tumblers
of iced tea in an old lawn chair
for the summers that remain
in my life. But I don’t complain.
I go to bed and I lie there

for hours like a mummy.
I stare at the ceiling and finger a curl
in my sleeping wife’s hair.
How many hours do I slaughter

each evening, asking no one
why I quit drinking
the day I got married,
why I got married
the day I quit drinking.

Blackouts and Epiphanies

A Poem by Anon ymous

She watches
a piece of the sky fall to earth.

It’s picked up by a bird.

She feels what a warm breeze might feel like
if she were outside.
if she were in her sundress,
if it were a day in June.

A child pulls a red wagon across the street.
Desire is a memory,

the horizon a crooked line.

The child’s mother runs into the street
takes her hand, leads her back
to the house.

There is a flash of silver in the bird’s beak
as she lands in the nest.

The wagon tips.
The child begins to cry.

Dear Dad: Happy Valentine`s Day!

Editor’s note: OK, we know it’s Father’s Day, (Editor’s note continued below the piece)…

A Prose Piece by Michael H. Brownstein.

Every year I ask my 6th-grade students to write a valentine to someone they love. It`s an enjoyable activity, and they have a lot of fun with it. They write to their mothers, of course, and sometimes to their friends, but they never write to their fathers.

My father is over 70. He still puts in a 40-hour week. He writes poems so full of vigor and life they can make me cry. I remember how he coached the baseball teams and beat me in sprints so often that I turned to long-distance running.

I remember once when he was too sick to leave his bed, but I had a cross- country meet and nothing could stop him from seeing me run. It was late November, past Thanksgiving, and the wind blew cold off the lake. I remember the ice on the sidewalks and the spots of snow on the grass-and my father at every turn, somehow beating me there, cheering me on, pointing me out, smiling his big smile.

I didn`t win that race, nor did I place. But I was a winner nonetheless. My father made me a champion. He was that proud of me. I was even prouder of him.

It has been years since that race and I still hold him high on a pedestal. I love to read his poetry and listen to his laughter. I know if I enter another late-November race, he will be in the front row cheering me on. My students never write valentine cards for their fathers and I am afraid I have been guilty of this, too. Not this year. This year I want to go on record that Valentine`s Day is also a day for fathers. Happy Valentine`s Day, Dad.

Editor’s note continued: …but doesn’t the above piece work for both days? Orignally published in the Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1988, we just thought this was a perfect Father’s Day gift.

Apples

A Poem by Korey J. Brownstein

There is an apple in his hand,
a juicy apple, red delicious, and crisp.
Every time she reaches for his hand,
she feels the skin of an apple
firm, ripe, and inviting.

He always offers her the apple
and she always accepts it, and then
she reaches for his hand,
and he has another apple
and she reaches for his hand

and finds another apple.
How do I hold your hand? she asks.
I do not know, he answers.
An apple on his tongue, an apple
on his head, an apple in his hand.

Babyshambles

A Poem by Anon ymous.

There is the anticipation of road trips
mixed with the leftovers from last night:

albums gone sleeveless,
bra and pants,
loose change and dishes in the sink.

Curtains shimmy to the pop and hiss
of Exile on Main Street.

The skyline breaks at the same time side one
skip-bumps to a stop.

The open window is a promise, the asphalt
simmers.

Everything but sin burns at the right temperature.

The Sans Volume Ghost

A Prose Piece by Brian Barbeito

Always there were spirits whispering in my ears. Well, almost always. Much of the time I would say. And the plural is important. It was like they were a chorus. I didn’t think about other people, and what they experienced, but if I had, it is probable I would have thought everyone heard them. But it’s a funny thing if it were thought through all the way because the night I saw one, I didn’t hear anything. I saw much though, or enough to have the proof of the other world. Things happen when they happen and as they are meant to happen. Que sera sera. The night it happened I was sleeping in my room, and it is possible that outside the winds meandered down bricks and through the adjacent purple plum trees, then beyond wrought iron gates held together by big welds. Or it could have been a silent night, where the air was as if dead.

Roused awake by some type of inner feeling, I looked at the foot of the bed. This was a natural enough place to look, and there it was, a white being, transparent. It was hovering back and forth but not on purpose, not like in a movie. It seemed like it was doing that out of some type of nervousness. I watched for a long time. I would say five or ten minutes. It was talking and moving its arms. I could not hear anything though. After some time, I had a chance to think about what I call “the enormity of the situation,” though I would not have known that word then. A ghost. I started to get up and move from the bed. My phantom friend became very distraught at this and started speaking faster, moving its arms as if to say, “…No, please…please do not get so scared, and please stay where you are…” But I bolted and ran to pound on the door of my parent’s bedroom.

My mother came out and cautioned me that it was just a dream. I told her that she should capture this ghost, and turned around exclaiming, “It is right there in the room!” At that moment, it came out of the room and flew down the stairs, which cut at a right angle a third of the way to the top. My friend from the other world followed this stairway and I watched, while yelling, “There it is! There it is! Can’t you see it?” Then it went right through the front door and I never saw it again.

The Good Ones in Bad Places

A Prose Piece by Brian Barbeito

We were in a seedy part of a city, and it was amazingly and sadly plain how low the vibrations seemed to be. I was talking with this lady, a trustworthy soul named Carlene, though I could never for some strange reason remember her name while I knew her. She was worrying about bills, and how, if she thought about it too much, the idea of her bills would get her down. Outside, beyond the house we were in, the subway had a part where it went outside and you could hear its rumble and sort of thunder when it went past. To me, the place, filled as it was with strange people walking around, seemed old and sinister, or else young and sinister, was kind of like a light living hell. In fact, the first time I ever met Carlene, she shook my hand- with a firm handshake, not the flimsy untrustworthy handshake of some women- and said, “Welcome to hell.” Sometimes we were down by the local 7-11, sometimes other places–and even the parks and regular places were seedy, spent, devoid of light. I also met this born-again Christian there, and he was fearless- and I asked him how it was that he was fearless–and he said God protected him–and that is the only thing he ever feared–God. I dropped him off near the subway once. Someone was throwing glass down from a building near us. Glass smashing right there near the car. He looked at me and said, “Hey, we should go up there and see what is going on. They could hurt someone.” But I felt it would be like walking into a field in the middle of an infantry war and lecturing the soldiers on the dangers of guns. I convinced him to head to the subway and get the hell out of there. Then I left, drove away from that wretched place–to other places less wretched but still wretched. I lost touch with Carlene, and with the Christian. I remember that I had liked them, and that they had also liked me. But it was a terrible way–those streets and corners, those houses and the people around them, everything giving a feeling of dread, and just when you were a bit panicked and shaky trying to survive through the day or night, the subway train would come crashing through the world along the tracks, shake and rumble like the heart of the devil waking up, getting ready to devour the world some more.

Little-man Nailed to a wooden Cross

A Poem by Craig Shay

It’s too late.

mountains
of buffalo hides

return
to an unseen world

where medicine men
have retreated to their caves
of dreams

Paleface
is alone
on his
conquered surface,

a clown, in his
colorful flag

and corporate logos

dressed to kill
anything that breathes.

The flesh…

The rounded shoulder
The skin, the flash, a joy forever
In her eyes I pass through nothingness
A height from levitating
To leave this body and its day dream
Is to sleep beside a world of silent breathing
But there is darkness in their air
A dissonant music sounds like
the keyboard part in Springsteen’s
“I’m on Fire” or “Boys of Summer”
Those evil keyboard parts
Eating my soul alive as a child.

his insanity
his Christ-myth

his genocidal hands
laughing

his twisted psyche
deciding

the world
dies leisurely

Paleface
wears
his clever masks

on TV
in newspapers
in literature
in medicine
in economics
in history

counting
the stars
in which
he will conquer