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LOVE - A Parable Without a Moral

Love: A parable without a moral invites the reader to laugh at the extremes of love and hate.  The story centres on Dr Donald Chasteman, a mediocre scientist who has lived almost all of his unhappy marriage and failed career in the middle-class Sydney suburb of Bougainvillea.  Driven by his lust for power, he invents a ‘love formula’ to takeover the world. 

Set fifty years into the future in a social environment where  universal loneliness and heartache symptomised its inevitable success, in a world consumed by war and perpetual conflict, the masses fall in love with him alone to become effective tools of manipulation, enabling him to establish a passive dictatorship. 

The world conforms to the new ‘love ideal’ and seems a perfect place to live, a modern Utopia - until one day Mr. Jones suggests to Mrs. Jones a simple change in garden design.  This unleashes a series of catastrophic events in the neighbourhood that could ultimately change the course of mankind and the world forever. 

This dark story of satirical fiction is topical in today’s political   climate, portraying both the compatibility and clash of cultural diversity. 

In Store Price: $AU22.95 
Online Price:   $AU21.95

ISBN:  978-1-921240-86–7

Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages: 121
Genre: Fiction
 

 


Author: Dimity Mortensen
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2008
Language: English

Author Biography 

Dimity Mortensen was born and educated in Sydney. She lived in London for seven years, working at Christie’s Auction House and travelling through the Middle East, Europe and Eastern Europe including Russia.

She decided to return home to Australia to start her career as a writer, and has since been published in some of the top literary journals in Australia.

This is her first novel.

Preface 

 

The concept of this book first began to develop itself in my mind when I was actually quite young. I can remember as an eight year old, being stunned into a state of physical illness after seeing documentary footage of the Holocaust one Saturday afternoon on the television, when my parents were not present to supervise the programmes I was watching. I recall at first, staring almost blindly at the mass graves the Nazis had dug for the millions of their victims, quite unable to discern what it was that I was actually seeing. The spaghetti-like tangle of corpses just didn’t look human to me. They were emaciated almost beyond identification and stripped of their clothing; the main distinguishing factor, which I knew separated human beings from the beasts. Furthermore, they looked limp and kind of mashed up and mangled together in a mound as the soldiers ordered even more corpses to be slung on top of the others, as though they were little more than rubbish taken to the tip on Sunday.

It took me quite some time to register that, what was actually being shovelled into the ditch on the television that Saturday afternoon, were human beings, let alone a whole section of society singled out purely on the basis of their race and religion and sent to perish in the gas chambers. In fact, I remember being so disbelieving, that I had to lean into the television screen in an effort to clearly discern features, faces, any evidence of that section of humanity which had been made suddenly disposable. Then I stopped short; suddenly filled with horror as I recognised, what looked like children, some possibly my own age, in amongst the mass tangle of broken bodies.

Also my concept of time was obscured at that age. Being only a child, I had no sense or knowledge of history or for that matter, historical events prior to my own brief existence in the world. Therefore, the black and white footage as seen that afternoon in the mid 70s could well have been a visual record of what was happening then and there, at that very moment! 

Naturally, I was absolutely terrified, and as a consequence found myself completely overwhelmed by the harrowing images of this crime committed against humanity. A crime carried out on such an ambitious scale by the Nazis that its villainy was boastfully recorded on celluloid. The sheer enormity and monstrosity of it was almost too great to imbibe and to this very day, I still have great difficulty coming to terms with it.

Those horrifying images yanked me prematurely from the safe, protected world of a child into a sudden state of adult awareness. Brought up in the sunny northern beaches of Sydney, much of my time had been divided between the classroom and playtime activities at the beach. Therefore the sinister notions of ‘atrocity’ and/or even ‘genocide’ had no meaning or even existence in my innocent mind. But from that time forth, I began to ask myself many goading questions, such as, ‘why?’, and of course, ‘how?’ Why would one person turn on another and deny them the very rights to humanity and existence that we are all entitled? Moreover, why is the world not big enough to fit the other? And furthermore, how could they do it?  How could a person be brought to such a dark place in their own mind that they could commit such a gross act of violation against another?  

Throughout my teenage years, I greatly pondered these questions, plagued also with other grave doubts at the time over the general perpetuity of the world. The diplomatic relations between the superpowers: the United States under the Reagan administration, the Soviet Union under Brezhnev and his subsequent successors were precarious to say the least; so much so that the looming threat of nuclear war and therefore, the prospect of world extinction, was an ongoing concern to me.

Neurotically, I researched human evolution to see what could possibly bring us to such a state (or so it had seemed at the time) of irreversible discrepancy and stalemate antipathy in the modern world. Then after seeing the primary impact religion has had on war pretexts, motivations, and events throughout the many centuries of human civilisation or otherwise, at the time I came to a much hackneyed and atheistic conclusion that perhaps the world would be a much better place if there was no religion at all. It seemed a logical enough solution to me to simply relegate the supernatural concept of ‘God’ to antiquity, and let science, rather than ancient mythology, thereafter determine our past, present and future development. Moreover as I had wondered at the same time how much religion or irreligious belief justified both past and present leaderships, particularly after observation of the rightwing, Christian, Republican United States and the atheist, communist orientated Soviet Union at the time, as they continually went at loggerheads with one another; accumulating in Reagan undiplomatically, and therefore perhaps unwisely, stating on global television that Brezhnev was a very evil man. In other words, how much is guided by genuine belief and how much is simply propaganda used to ingratiate a large enough audience of supporters in order to effectively establish and justify a role of leadership? Or, how much is political agenda motivated by and/or formulated on religious or irreligious belief? In other words, how much of the pomp and hyperbole that we see played out in the media is in defence of those very beliefs in order to satiate personal ambition?

The question draws my mind immediately to the ancient Egyptian ruler, Hatchepsut. Her reign took place three thousand years ago during the 18th Dynasty. In a patriarchal society, Hatchepsut dressed herself in male clothing in order to justify her reign as pharaoh rather than queen, and structured the etymology of her religious or throne name, Maatkare, to coincide with what was spiritually and culturally acceptable, or even considered politically correct at the time.[i] In other words, ‘maat’, which means truth or justice, and ‘ka’, which means soul or the alter ego, and ‘Re’, which means God, determines a truth that her own soul originates from God Himself, therefore she has the right to reign as the divine embodiment on Earth even though she is female.

Which furthermore brings me to the question; how different in comparison is Hatchepsut from her modern contemporaries? 

When one considers the level of importance image plays on modern society, and how much image is defined by cultural belief, initially formulated on a religious foundation, the answer would perhaps have to be, very little.

The gaudy media imagery of a modern political campaign in the West is so flamboyant and visually transcendent, seeking to assume the divine form of the cultural ideal on a scale so grand that media sceptics have often pondered whether in fact there is anything beyond the image at all. Perhaps the very fanfare and hoopla of a political campaign is evidence enough that belief has in fact become cultural identity and a means of social orientation, or even has transcended belief entirely and mutated into another form altogether. Stereotypes have evolved out of popular imagery and have almost become a way of defining ethnicity, as well as providing a methodology for the media to echo conformity and cultural reform. The popular image has become so streamlined and repetitive that anything else clashes dramatically with what has already been embraced as acceptable by the majority conditioned on its theme.

Not unlike rote learning, this conveyor belt of media imagery has a way of ingraining information, then convincing us of a certain superiority that can be attained through its emulation. How different is that from the more ancient cultures in the world that have developed their customs and traditions on the foundations of their own particular religion? Its theme is just promoted in a different way. Would it then be fair to say that out of this conveyor belt comes an indirect guideline to what does not actually belong, and therefore an incitement to fear the unknown? Perhaps from out of this imagery or indirect guideline comes an unspoken assurance that if it is adhered to, then the world would be a much better place to live for everyone. For example: it has always struck me as an extreme oddity that the multitalented Louis Armstrong sang the ethereal song ‘What a wonderful world’ at a time when the world had recently emerged from a horrific war where approximately fifty-five million lives had been lost worldwide, not to mention inclusively, the six million people who had been mercilessly put to death in the gas chambers, or even for that matter, the dropping of the atom bomb for the first time on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.

Even more strangely, the song is still very popular today in an environment where three thousand souls perished in the Twin Towers of the New York Stock Exchange and the war on terrorism was officially proclaimed. Is the song merely delusional or yet just another way of promoting the cultural ideal? On the other hand, is there a hidden depth I have not been perspicacious enough to catch onto yet? Such as to say, “Oh, what a wonderful world we have and how awful the third world have it where millions of people are still dying of famine and catastrophic infectious diseases, and live their lives below the poverty line.” or, “Oh, this is the way I would much prefer the world to be; wonderful.”

It seems more to me that slogans in their various forms, whether musically, cinematically, or commercially driven, are created to promote a particular culture’s longevity and survival in a world which has become more and more homogenized and effected by multifarious outside influences. In other words, it becomes the filmy surface of the social bubble.

One would then have to think that crusades are inevitable in such an environment. How different then could Richard the Lion-Heart’s exploits against the Sultan knight, Saladin, during the 12th Century, be to that of George Bush’s against the looming threat of a united Islamic vocation to put down the infidels, by seeking to bring democracy and his own cultural definition of freedom to the world?  From this proposition, would it not be true to say that both cultures are theocentric by their very nature and origins and therefore Democracy could be deemed just as much a Christian doctrine as Theocracy could be deemed an Islamic one? Ergo, if a Democracy were forced on an Islamic culture, would the conquered party then interpret this course of action as merely a Christian campaign to convert the non-Christian? An interesting paradox then arises where such cultures are subjugated by democratic regimes and declared liberated under a new style of occupation. One then might ask, are there other pretexts to the invasions, perhaps such as greed and expansion of territorial power, as in the case of Richard the Lion-Heart? On the other hand, is this simply just a case of the original foundation of cultural belief (that being religious) exercising its true devotion? 

Would it be fair to call these invading forces democratic missionaries, spreading the word of a political truth?

Whichever the case, a continual clash persists throughout history along an ancient paradigm, always seeming religion based.

For example: the intifada that took place on September 28th, 2001, in Jerusalem, which was initially ignited by the pre-elect prime minister, Ariel Sharon, when he visited a disputed holy site, revered by the Jews as the Temple Mount, and by the Muslims as Haram al-Sharif on a day that was sacred to the Palestinians, was completely blown out of proportion to begin with. Whilst it was true that Ariel Sharon was infringing on the Palestinians’ day of worship, perhaps some might even say, baiting them, and therefore depending on the incendiary sensitivities of the Palestinians to cause an uprising and ergo a pretext to war and ethnic cleansing, I find myself compelled to ask the question: How many people would have lived to fulfil their potential if tolerance on both sides had only been exercised on that fateful day? How could Sharon ignite such a travesty? What brought him to such a dark place in his mind that he could wilfully do such a thing? On the other hand, how could the indigenous Arabs overreact so violently on the impetus of mere symbolism? Again, it seems to boil down to customs and traditions, developed from a foundation of religious belief, and perhaps a need to sustain or secure cultural identity indefinitely.

Global security is constantly compromised by these incendiary jibes and responses in the world. For example: it was beyond the ousted and now recently executed president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s mental scope, not to throw sand in a giant’s face, when in 2001, after George Bush had effectively cut government aid to the poor, he generously offered to commit an astounding $95 million in humanitarian aid to the US, even despite the fifty percent poverty rate in his own country. At this point, one would need to wonder at the level of maturity exhibited on either side, concerning political decisions and policy-making.

And shouldn’t freethinking individuals, perhaps greatly inspired by the very theme of democracy, then be allowed to question political motivations without fear of being accused of unpatriotic proclivities, however benevolent and justified the motivations may seem at the time? For example: how quickly was the Middle East arbitrarily attacked and subjugated on the pretext of the three thousand souls lost in the New York Stock Exchange, when one considers the lack of motivation by the world to intervene in other cogent humanitarian disasters? Such as the genocide committed by the Hutu extremists against the Tutsis, where eight hundred thousand souls were lost in 1994, or even the intervention in a twenty-year long struggle between the southern Christian Nubians, and now civilians in Darfur, against the northern Islamic government Arab militia in Sudan where countless lives have been lost to displacement and civil war.

Surely the original purpose after 9/11 was to catch the assumed culprit, Osama Bin Laden, and thus have the potential to dismantle his terrorist training camps and global networks. One must ask: is the ‘War on Terrorism’ simply just another war fuelled on reprisal like that in Israel? Would it not be fair to say that there has been very little political method to the madness other than the brute control of foreign territories once harbouring arcane terrorist cells, fragmented, stealth, and cunning by their very nature, beliefs and origins, and therefore now effectively scurried off elsewhere to locations unknown? Also, are these acts of occupation financially sustainable, and if not, how would an invading force then make the occupation cost effective?

Which brings me to another question: Are we so dependent on the forces of leadership that we are inclined not to question it? For example: how is it that in the case of any such brand of dictatorship, i.e. Russian totalitarianism under Stalin, Sudanese Shari’a under al-Basir or even the Taliban in Afghanistan, and rightwing Conservative Christian-based Democracy under Bush, that a minority of one can overthrow the will of millions, whether that be through psychological manipulation or by the means of tyranny? How can image be such a powerful allurement that millions can quite blithely disregard the reality of its own country’s actions or even encourage enthusiastic participation in them, i.e. Nazi fascism under Hitler, the anti-Semitic pogrom?

Modern society even seems to accept concessions on hybrid versions of its ideologies. Such as, for example: Democracy under the Russian President Putin, where the concept of freedom has been obscured to not only disallow the freedom of the press to operate unencumbered, if at all, for that matter, but also the right to elect a Democratic leader unchallenged by vote rigging. Once again, is there anything beyond the image? Has the theme become so corrupted that it is now little more than a fanciful banner and/or popular means of attaining supreme leadership?

Tyranny has a paradigm which seems to echo itself repeatedly throughout human history and culture, and therefore, unavoidably, has its origins in religion.

The human race has built up a global society from a religious foundation, and that is the state of the modern world. But in truth, as is the nature of our species, the intellectual mind can create any amount of interesting and very enterprising proposals as to the many riddles and mysteries of the world. The creative impulse is very much the fuel behind the intellect and compels the forces of the human mind to not only be inventive, but also to apply logic to problems in order to advance its own species. Therefore, it is both subjective and objective by its very nature and orientation. Which is why, experimentally, I attempted to picture the world in my story as being a place without religion as its primary focal point to culture, creating a clean slate from which to redevelop. But it is my opinion that a world without religion would simply highlight all the other pre-existing bigotry in the world, which in itself is a cultural subtext to war, i.e. racism based on skin colour or general appearance, general ethnicity, misogyny, homophobia, misanthropy, those with physical and/or mental disabilities, etc. Inevitably, it would seem, bigotry has a micro-breakdown, which can be observed on infinite levels. In other words, after examining these particular issues over many years, I have come to the present conclusion that if there were no religion in the world to speak of, then inevitably there would be something else. This was why I took the ethereal, yet somewhat (in my own opinion) naive hippy ideology of the sixties, being that the world would be a peaceful place without war if only ‘love’ were the core concept, and perhaps saturated the theme a bit.

Moreover, it is telltale from the story’s outcome that I’m not entirely convinced that globalisation will ever completely homogenise the world’s population into one sole division either, as is the popular fear among anti-globalisation campaigners clinging in desperation to the individuality they seem convinced is slipping little by little through their grasp. They seem to have missed the point entirely, that individuals by their very nature, are both unique as much as they are imitative, with the powers of fusion and conflict forever at work within us all. Therefore, I have decided from this level of reasoning that for the world to attain an acceptable level of peace, ‘tolerance’ as the primary doctrine needs to be adhered to with ‘morality’ at its fundamental core.

In such a case, toleration would need to be exercised vigilantly in society in order to not only sustain cultural identity, but also its state of morality as well. For example: it is axiomatic that the veil worn by Muslim women is a symbol of oppression, since it undoubtedly seeks to suppress identity and therefore gender equality. In the Koran, surah 4:38 it quite clearly states that, righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret of God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. Is it then any wonder that such a religious teaching, which condones violence against women, could inspire evil in men?  Comparatively, in much the same way that Christianity, under its banner of benevolence, has sought to suppress and close ranks on the realities of child molestation in the church. Would it not then be true to say in a hypothetical sense, that if the church were a non-religious organisation with the same prolific findings of on-going victimisation and sexual abuse of children, that it would have been closed down by a responsible government?

Such criticism is inevitable by freethinking individuals. However, when the criticism is directed against religious institutions considered sacred by those who ascribe devotedly to its beliefs and doctrines, freethinking is met with incendiary backlash. Intolerance towards intellectual criticism and debate suddenly becomes a threat to global security. Political correctness is then applied as a temporary band-aid in order to appease such overwhelming sensitivities, until the questions of immorality arise once more out of necessity when the boundaries of human decency have yet again been crossed. Therefore there seems to be no way forward if the slightest criticism is not tolerated on opposing sides, just in the same way as if opposing divisions cannot find it in themselves to tolerate the other simply because they choose to express their cultural diversity in their own particular way.

As a result, and as the subtitle of my book states, my satirical story is a parable without a moral. In the first chapter, with the use of obscenity as an effective tool to demonstrate the underlying evil and perversity in the world, I have embraced the misogynistic concept of Yin and Yang to the point of complete and utter absurdity. Admittedly, it is a light satirical story engineered on extreme frivolity, albeit with sinister undertones and certain underlying fundamental truths. I have also enthusiastically populated the storyline with stereotypes generated throughout the years by the media in order to effectively illustrate its ultimate theme. And in conclusion, what I have now clearly evaluated to be the ultimate causation of the Holocaust reveals itself in microform in the embodiment of Ethel Chasteman; a force motivated by blind hatred and inspired by madness.       

 

[i] Joyce Tydesley, Hatchepsut, The Female Pharaoh: literally, maat is the Ka of Re, or Truth is the Soul of the sun god Re.

 

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