Before we had been whittled down to the delightfully sophomoric ‘Fibonacci Five’ there had been a sixth member.
Anthony was energy incarnate. That’s why he didn’t reenlist. Though perhaps ‘didn’t reenter a contract’ is a more accurate way of putting it since he (like Graham and Chuck) served in a civilian capacity.
Anthony Harris was an unemployed archeologist wielding a Ph.D. from Boston that had landed him the stellar position of serving Thornton coffee at some hipstery little number in a Jersey suburb.
While I do sympathize with economic realities I can’t really excuse Harris on this point. I know he could have found something. But the guy was and probably still is a mess. Aside from the ability to concentrate on things that capture his interest with unholy fervor he had little in the way of skills.
I really think that he put his nose to the academic grindstone simply to prove he had the chops. Like so many merry fools before he fancied that credentials and mastery of subject would propel him to a tenure that would let him play with ideas.
He was full of wild speculations. Wild speculations that he wasn’t shy to share.
Not even with the dubious likes of Thornton whose mustache hairs had an unpleasant way of dipping into a drink. It was especially gross when it was coffee. I wouldn’t have called the number on the big midwesterners business card for all the gold of Ophir. Our chief exuded the sort of fatherly gooberishness that made anarchy themed graffiti appealing even if you hated punk rock…Just to distance yourself from that unwholesomely contented malaise. No one should be that ok with the world.
But I suppose the goobery depths of Thornton’s company seemed less foreboding in contrast with the snarky sting of acerbic tongues lilting sarcastically in faculty lounges the world over.
You did not challenge convention. You taught what was taught to you. If you discovered something it had better be a discovery that falls well within established contexts. Otherwise, you’d end up like Carl Roland.
It was a profound testament to the nebbish narrowness of his interests that Ant had failed to notice the cautionary tale in the experience of his idol.
Dr. Roland was a pariah. At the time that Ant was hired the doctor was in court battling claims from a colleague that he’d falsified evidence. His name was not officially cleared till a year after Ant left to join him in Egypt. Unofficially the name was never cleared. Roland is a dirty word that causes many a titter at many a convention.
If Pangea was the urcontinent than Thera (the ‘th’ sounds like the Icelandic þ) was the urcivilization. In Roland’s conception, Thera, unlike Atlantis or Lemuria, was the grandfather of all cultures rather than some long dead uncannily gifted cousin.
The theory is immediately redolent of quackery but the trouble is that Dr. Roland is not a quack. At least not in the sense of credentials and achievements. Degrees from Yale and Brown adorn the walls of the California home he so rarely inhabits. Dozens of papers and several prominent and accepted discoveries regarding subjects that range from peat bog mummies to astrophysics bore the muddy moniker of Dr. Carl Hapgood Roland.
After Thornton had asked (in true goobery interest) if his waiter was a college student. That waiter informed him that he was, in fact, a graduate, and began regaling our blue-eyed devil with exultations of Dr. Roland and how the waiter’s barista funded research would vindicate the man.
Of course, Thornton’s interest was immediately peaked. So it was unsurprising that the rogue scholar read genuine approval in the pockmarked face. He served us many papers on psychoactive plants, Mesoamerican cultures, Descartes, etc. Never imagining that his earnest research was feeding a project with motives as cynical as P.L.AT.O.’s.
I don’t really know what explanation Thornton gave him. Though I don’t think a paycheck ten times ones former salary is a thing that makes one ask too many questions.
The impression I got from our rare face to face meeting with Ant was that he thought we were seeking to understand one of the military cults that had formed among cartels in Peru. Even if I had been allowed correcting him would shatter what little trust he had left in the goodness of his fellows.
It never felt good. And now…in a way, it felt like Roland was getting his revenge. Because in light of what I just saw the suggestion of solar flares and other celestial phenomenon bringing a very high point in human history to an abrupt close didn’t seem that far-fetched. All my eye rolling and ‘tsk tsk the poor ladding’ was now a big lump in my throat as I stared in astonishment at the spectral sardonic husk that was Graham Hoyt.
1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe
1.2 The Cajun Prayer
Help a Hipster