There are a few bits of trivia interspersed within the story, but it’s mostly for entertainment. So, enjoy.
Luther: What? Who’s there?
Leo: Saul! And Simon Cephas!
Saul: I’ve since abandoned that name. You may call me Paul, Saint Paul.
Simon: And I am Saint Peter.
Paul: Now you shall feel the true wrath of the epistles!
Peter: And you, Leo, I shall smite you with the true keys to the church of heaven which God himself bestowed upon me. Hiyaa!
Paul: And where do you think you’re going, “Chuck?”
Chuck: Well, uh, there’s some French kings who are bothering my kingdom, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to conquer them . . .
Peter: Now you may all proceed to the wizard safely. Good luck.
Paul: And Luther? Remember: sola fide.
Tallon: Hey there, folks, and welcome to the gates of the wizard!
Foley: Do you have the keyword?
Luther: Hm . . .
Luther: Sola fide.
Figure: It is I, the wizard!
Wizard: What do you seek?
Luther: Why don’t you go ahead, Joe?
Joe: Mr. Wizard, I’ve been wondering for a while now, what exactly did they mean when they told me “If you build it, they will come?”
Wizard: Easy enough. They want you to tear down that shoddy old Comiskey Park and build a new stadium. It’s been up for eighty years now; I think it’s about time. Oh, and while I’m at it, never try Disco Demolition night ever again.
Sakic: O, mighty wizard, pray fulfill my wish, so I may be blessed with knowledge. Will hockey ever come back to Quebec?
Wizard: There are whispers of an expansion involving Canadian teams, but it is more likely that the Phoenix Coyotes revert to being the Winnipeg Jets.
Roy: And wizard, I must know, will the Avalanche ever win any more Stanley Cups? After ’96 and ’01?
Wizard: It is difficult to say. I think they must first exorcise the spirit of the failed Colorado Rockies franchise, but that, too, is uncertain. As you know, the Rockies became the New Jersey Devils, whose goaltender, the renowned Martin Brodeur, recently surpassed your own 551 win record.
Luther: Guten morgen, wizard. It is a silly question, but what is it that God wishes me to do next?
Wizard: Yes, yes, Herr Luther. I have seen your coming in advance for quite some time now. What you seek has been in your hands all along.
Luther: What, my bible?
Wizard: It’s time for the language of the bible to be given to the common people. It needs to be cracked; keeping it entirely in Latin makes it inaccessible. Translate it.
Wizard: There is yet more. I see a young lady by the name of Katherine von Bora. She is waiting for you.
Luther: Katherine? I know her. But we priests are not allowed to marry.
Wizard: You also weren’t allowed to translate the word of God, but you’ve accepted that quest. And one more thing. Stop with the antisemitism, please.
Luther: Antisemitism? What do you mean? But how do I get home now? How?
Voice: Luther . . . Luther . . .
Luther: What? God? God, I accept your judgment!
Voice: Luther . . .
Woman: Luther, wake up!
Luther: Philip Hesse!
Hesse: Luther, we were worried for you! You were yelling in your sleep!
Voice: What’s all the ruckus?
Luther: Joe! Sakic! Roy!
Katherine: How do you know these men, Luther? They’ve just arrived today.
Joe: Yeah, explain that, pal?
Luther: Oh . . . you could just say I’ve learned a thing or two about you.
Part two of a series. It would be best to begin with part one, found here.
Luther: Where to from here?
Joe: Well, if I learned one thing from Chick Gandil, it’s to follow your instinct, and let the dice fall as they may.
Luther: Hm . . . that name sounds a lot like “gamble” to me.
Wolf: I demand as toll fare one pound of your finest flesh.
Joe: Is this some Merchant of Venice shit?
Voice: Stay, foul villain!
Joe: It’s Canadian national hero and all around good-guy Joe Sakic!
Sakic: Yes, it is I, and I have been hunting this flesh-mongering cad for nigh a fortnight, as he has stolen my Quebec Nordiques jersey and feasted upon it.
Sakic: En garde!
Another voice: Joe? Joe, are you pretending to be a knight again?
Joe: The almighty #33, Patrick Roy!
Roy: That’s “Wah,” buddy. You say it “Wah.”
Joe: What are the two of you doing out in this forest?
Roy: We have questions, and we’re looking for answers. Isn’t that the basis of all adventures?
Luther: We have the same goal in mind. Indeed it seems divinely ordained that we should meet like this.
And so, with their wolven foe vanquished, the four heroes set off for the castle of the wizard.
Luther: This looks like the place.
Roy: Why do you say that?
Luther: God told me to seek out the place with the golden huhns. Here are those fabled chickens.
Joe: So then, where’s this wizard?
Roy: Sakic, use your supreme vision (which blessed you with 1,016 assists) and see if you can find him.
Sakic: Nay, but for naught.
Luther: Leo, you fiend! And Charles! You’ve followed me to the very ends of the Earth!
Leo: Easy enough when I could follow all the shoes Joe kept leaving behind, and the Conn Smythes that kept falling out of Roy’s pockets.
Roy: There were only three.
Leo: Three too many. Now, my holy crusaders, raise your spears!
Sakic: What, ho!
Luther: Lord, if I’ve ever done anything warranting your smile, please bless us to remain unharmed from this treachery.
New Voice: Dios mio!
(To be continued.)
I love to collect bobbleheads; since I’m a massive nerd, my collection is quite the varicolored one. They have a rich history, as well: it’s said that the earliest known reference to a bobblehead is in “The Overcoat,” a short story from 1842 by none other than Nikolai Gogol. For this particular project, then, I decided to take some of them, and make a story out of it, for your enjoyment, and hopefully your better knowledge.
Today was All Hallow’s Eve, but rather than tricking-and-treating, a certain Martin Luther had been hard at work nailing his magnum opus to the door of the All Saint’s Church. He called it “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” but for sanity’s sake we’ll call it the 95 Theses. And, once he had finished . . .
He walked out into God’s green fields and prayed, singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” a hymn that he’d just composed two weeks ago. Then, all at once . . .
A spirit appeared before him.
Luther: Mein gott! God sends his seraphim before me! Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ!
Spirit: Hey, no. Knock it off with the German. Seraphim? No. You don’t know me, but I’m the ghost of a future prophet called Joe Jackson, Saint of the Shoeless.
Joe: God sent me here. He gave me a message. “If you build it, they will come.”
Luther: And . . . what does it mean?
Joe: I’m not sure. You looked like a man of learning, so I hoped you might be able to help me with it.
Joe: Maybe you’re supposed to build a church here? Maybe I’m supposed to build a baseball field here? Or maybe it’s not even meant for us.
Luther: A strange coincidence. I, too, am looking for an answer. Perhaps it is God’s will that we should–
But, before he could go any further, a monstrous tornado swept both the men up and carried them away.
It transported them to a land that was not their own.
Luther: Where are we? Herr Jackson, are you okay?
Luther: What was that? Look out, they’re coming!
Mysterious Man: Hey, don’t be afraid. What’s with the funny get-up? You’re not a sith, are you, mister? I don’t see any lightsaber on you. Anyway, the name’s Han.
Han: We’re not going to hurt you. In fact, we like you a whole bunch! You killed that bastard Kerry. He’s been terrorizing us since 1985. Now we can reinstate Paul Tsongas.
Luther: I . . . what? I’ve killed a man? Heavens!
Joe: No, I can hear him muffling. I think we’ve just squashed him. At any rate, do you fellows know how we can get out of this place?
Stormtrooper: We don’t, but the wizard probably does. Just follow the wood tile floor.
Little did our heroes know that all this time, they were being watched.
From a place high above Luther (namely, the Diet of Worms), their stalker preyed upon their every move.
And he was none other than Luther’s enemy, Pope Leo X.
Leo: Blast that Luther! Has he no respect for the Medici family name? I’ll teach him to go against my forefathers. If he won’t retract his writings, I’ll just excommunicate him. Now, where did that Emperor Charles go?
Charles: Right here boss, but you can call me Chuck V, or Chuck I of Spain, or just Chuck.
Leo: Whatever name you want to go by, you’re coming with me, and we’re putting an end to the menace that is Luther once and for all.
(To be continued.)
The doppelgänger is certainly a chilling concept, but just as eerie for me is the idea of the homunculus. Besides turning lead into gold, alchemists also searched and conjectured on methods of creating life: that created life is the homunculus. All of the alchemical homunculi inflict disturbing pain upon themselves; the earliest account of one explains a man who impales himself on a sword: his eyes become blood and he coughs up his own flesh, transforming into the opposite of himself.
But the concept extends beyond alchemy. In a certain hereditary philosophy called Preformationism, all humans were created at the same time, and people simply grow from miniature versions of themselves that have existed since the beginning of time; the miniature versions are known as homunculi. In a more extreme case, the Spermist philosophy holds that each sperm is a little person placed inside the woman by the man, which then grows into a child. But if the sperm is a miniature version of the man, then shouldn’t the sperm (the homunculus) have little people (homunculi) of its own, and so on, to infinity? Spermists use this idea to explain “original sin;” that Adam contained the entirety of humanity already in himself, and so when he sinned, we all sinned.
Finally, in philosophy there is a homunculus argument which is used to determine whether an explanation of psychology acts is solid or not: it states that the act must not be the result of some inner being, some little man (homunculus) inside our mind who is controlling all of our actions by pulling certain levers or pressing this or that button.
Truly we are no closer to pinpointing the specific constitution of a homunculus than the alchemists were.
The concept of the doppelgänger has always fascinated me, and as I began to read Gustav Meyrinck’s The Golem, my curiosity was only bolstered. It seems ripe to have originated in a German Brothers’ Grimm-esque fairy tale.
Although seeing one’s own doppelgänger is considered an omen of death, the concept itself had even more innocent origins than if it had been in a fairy tale. The word was first coined in a novel called Siebenkäs (full name Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces; or, the Married Life, Death and Wedding of Siebenkäs, Poor Man’s Lawyer), by the author known simply as Jean Paul. But don’t mistake the title, as the “death” never actually occurs; rather, the protagonist’s alter ego (the doppelgänger) convinces him to fake his own death. The protagonist does so to escape his unhappy marriage, and afterward meets a beautiful woman with whom he falls in love and lives happily ever after (having a wedding, figuratively, after death).
But the doppelgänger has much more sinister connotations today, and not without good reason: it seems to have manifested itself physically in the life of some important figures. The earliest account came before the word itself even existed, but fits the criteria: in 1612 John Donne writes of seeing a doppelgänger-like figure of his ailing wife. In a letter written by Mary Shelley (whose own Frankenstein can be felt in The Golem), the authoress claims that about a week before Percy Bysshe Shelley’s drowning, he relayed to her an episode in which he saw his own doppelgänger. Goethe, author of Faust, had a meeting with his doppelgänger in a dream, an experience which actually calmed him in a painful part of his life rather than harming him.
Yes, there’s certainly a common theme here: they’re all authors or poets.
But there’s one more figure who may have met his own doppelgänger. As he writes in the president’s biography, Carl Sandburg claims that during the election of 1864 Lincoln was haunted by visions of his double in the mirror; he would look in the glass and see looking back at him not one but two faces, one paler than the other.
However, Lincoln was known to be superstitious. And yet, in 2006, a group in Geneva successfully reproduced the doppelgänger affect in the mind of a patient; through electromagnetic stimulation of the “left temporoparietal junction,” the scientists were able to make a young woman (whose eyes were closed the whole while) feel as if there were someone else with her in an empty room: someone whose posture mimicked her own. This is similar to experiments with the “god sense,” in which electromagnetic stimulation makes patients feel as if there is an otherworldly presence in the room with them.
[Update]: Later on in the day after composing this post I experienced a strange coincidence. Now, I don’t see my model of car everywhere (a ’99 Mercury Sable), and even less so do I ever see on any car the specific shade of green which is on mine. And yet, on that day, as I parked in the lot at work, I saw flash past an intersection in the neighborhood the very same model of car with the very same shade of green. I was chilled, to say the least.
The next day I parked in the lot of the train station as I normally do: in a spot which I can make a left-hand turn into, with no one else parked in the spot to the right of which I am aiming. However, when I returned from school, there was parked next to me a car which again was the same shade of green as my own, but rather than a Sable, it was a “Le Sabre.”
Even though these ominous portents befell me, I am still alive, so take from those events what you will.