Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Excerpt from “Journeys Out of the Body” by Robert A. Monroe ~~Locale III~~

Locale III, in summary, proved to be a physical-matter world almost identical to our own. The natural environment is the same. There are trees, houses, cities, people, artifacts, and all the appurtenances of a reasonably civilized society. There are homes, families, businesses, and people work for a living. There are roads on which vehicles travel. There are railroads and trains.
Now for the ‘almost.’ At first, the thought was that Locale III was no more than some part of our world unknown to me and those others concerned. It had all the appearances of being so. However, more careful study showed that it can be neither the present nor the past of our physical-matter world.
The scientific development is inconsistent. There are no electrical devices whatsoever. Electricity, electromagnetics, and anything so related are non-existent. No electric lights, telephones, radios, television, or electric power.
No internal combustion, gasoline, or oil were found as power sources. Yet mechanical power is used. Careful examination of one of the locomotives that pulled a string of old-fashioned-looking passenger cars showed it to be driven by a steam engine. The cars appeared to be made of wood, the locomotive of metal, but of a different shape than our now obsolete types. The track gauge was much smaller than our standard track spacing, smaller than our narrow-gauge mountain railways.
I observed the servicing of one of the locomotives in detail. Neither wood nor coal was used as a thermal source to produce steam. Instead, large vatlike containers were carefully slid from under the boiler, detached, and rolled by small cart into a building with massive thick walls. The containers had pipelike protuberances extending from the top.
Men working behind shields performed the removal, casually cautious, and did not relax their automatic vigilance until the containers were safely in the building and the door closed. The contents were ‘hot,’ either through heat or radiation. The actions of the technicians all seemed to indicate the latter.
The streets and roads are different, again principally in size. The ‘lane’ on which vehicles travel is nearly twice as wide as ours. Their version of our automobile is much larger. Even the smallest has a single bench seat that will hold five to six people abreast. The standard unit has only one fixed seat, that of the driver. Others are much like living-room chairs, placed around a compartment that measures some fifteen by twenty feet. Wheels are used, but without inflated tires.
Steering is done by a single horizontal bar. Motive power is contained somewhere in the rear. Their movement is not very fast, at something like fifteen to twenty miles per hour. Traffic is not heavy.
Self-powered vehicles exist in the form of a four-wheeled platform which is steered by the feet acting upon the front wheels. A mechanism pumped by the arms transfers the energy to the rear wheels, much like the children’s “rowing wagons” of some years back. These are used for short distances.
Habits and customs are not like ours. What little has been gleaned implies a historical background with different events, names, places, and dates. Yet, while the stage of man’s evolution (the conscious mind translates the inhabitants as men) seems to be identical, technical and social evolution are not completely the same.

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Excerpt from “Letters of the Great Artists” by Richard Friedenthal ~~Renoir – Charpentier~~

PIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR TO GEORGES CHARPENTIER
1877
My dear friend,
May I ask you if it is within possibility nevertheless, the sum of three hundred francs before the end of the month. If it is possible, I am truly grieved that it may be the last time and that I shall have nothing to write to you any more except commonplace, quite stupid letters, without asking you for anything because you will owe me nothing any longer except respect, that I am older than you, I do not send you my account because I have none.
Now, my dear friend, have the amiability to thank Madame Charpentier warmly on behalf of her most devoted artist and that I shall never forget that if one day I cross the tape that it is to her that I shall owe, for by myself I am certainly not capable of it. I would like to get there, so as to be able the sooner to procure her all my gratitude.

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) spent four years of his youth painting pretty rococo pictures on porcelain, then studied under Gleyre, and achieved some success as a fashionable portrait painter. In 1868 he worked with Monet out of doors and his technique became more Impressionist. Charpentier, the recipient of Monet’s rather similar letter, was a publisher and to a certain extent a patron of art. Renoir’s portrait of Madame Charpentier and her children, painted in 1878, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which paid 50,000 francs for it in his own lifetime. When asked how much he had been paid for it, he replied, ‘Me! Three hundred francs and lunch!’

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Excerpt from “The Naked Island” by Russell Braddon ~~Captured~~

We worked on a “two-man-ahead patrol” system – on the All Clear from them the remaining seven moved up, whereupon the next two took over. Thus we leapfrogged for about two hours. Hugh and I patrolled together: Harry and the first infantryman, called (we now learnt) Herc: the two young sigs: and the sergeant and Sandshoes.
The latter pair were now ahead. We waited for their “All Clear”.
“Pair of no-hopers, they are,” declared Harry acidly, as he lay with his feet resting high up against a rubber tree, “done nothing but bellyache ever since we started.”
There was a moment’s silence whilst everyone thought of the undoubted degree of the no-hopers’ capacity for bellyaching.
“O.K.,” said one of the sigs, “she’s clear up ahead.” We looked up and saw the sergeant waving us forward.
Harry got to his feet and Herc with him. Roy and Rene, the sigs, followed with the officer. Hugh and I brought up the rear. As fast as possible we walked forward to where the two bellyachers waited and then on along their patrolled beat. We had covered perhaps fifty yards of it when we cleared the first small rise in the rubber. The jungle lay cosily by our left hand. We trotted down the far side of the rise. And instantly the air was full of bullets, whilst ahead of us and to our right about fifty yards away, with automatic weapons blazing, were Japanese soldiers. We had walked straight into an ambush. The bellyachers had funked their patrol.
I didn’t wait to see what happened. I was off at once, sprinting wildly, towards that jungle on the left. Beside me, I was aware without seeing him, ran Hugh. Cursing myself for every fool in the world, I thought yearningly of those four beautiful hand grenades now lying uselessly beside a canal the other side of Yong Peng.
“Stop there,” I heard the officer’s clear voice directed at us, “stop and surrender or we’ll all be shot” and my absurd Army training made me falter for a second and look back. I saw Herc already bleeding from a wound in the arm; and Sandshoes and the sergeant lying on the ground; and the officer standing quite still, the sigs looking at him questioningly and Harry in outrage. Just for a second we faltered. As in any race, when one falters, it was then too late. The path to the jungle was cut by a Jap soldier with a tommy gun. We stood still, our only chance lost. Then, very slowly, very foolishly and with a sense of utter unreality, I put up my hands.
At that moment all that occurred to me was that this procedure was completely disgraceful. I have not since then changed my mind. I have no doubt at all that I should have continued running. One does not win battles by standing still and extending the arms upwards in the hope that one’s foes have read the Hague Convention concerning the treatment of Prisoners of War. It was unfortunate that the Army had trained me sufficiently neither to disobey instantly and without hesitation, nor to obey implicitly and without compunction. Accordingly, I had done neither: and I now stood in the recognized pose of one who optimistically seeks mercy from a conqueror whose reputation is for being wholly merciless.
The enemy patrol closed in on us. Black-whiskered men, with smutty eyes and the squat pudding faces of bullies. They snatched off our watches first of all and then belted us with rifle butts because these did not point to the north as they swung them around under the ludicrous impression that they were compasses. They made dirty gestures at the photographs of the womenfolk they took from our wallets. They threw the money in the wallets away, saying, “Dammé, dammé, Englishu Dollars”: and, pointing at the King’s head on the notes, they commented: “Georgey Six number ten. Tojo number one!” And all the time two Tamils stood in the background, murmuring quietly to one another, their hips tight-swathed in dirty check sarongs and their wide-splayed feet drawing restless patterns in the bare soil of the rubber plantation.
“Done a good job, haven’t you, Joe?” demanded Harry savagely but they wouldn’t meet his eye. Just kept on drawing in the dirt with their toes.
Hugh picked up a ten-dollar bill and stuffed it defiantly back in his pockets. Then they tied us up with wire, lashing it round our wrists, which were crossed behind our backs and looped to our throats. They prodded us onto the edge of a drain in the rubber. We sat with our legs in it, while they set their machine guns up facing us and about ten yards away.
“That bloody intelligence officer would have to be right this time of all times, wouldn’t he?” demanded Harry we all knew that he referred to the “Japanese take no prisoners” report, and Herc, bleeding badly, nodded rather wanly.
“We must die bravely,” said the officer desperately at which the sergeant howled for mercy. Howled and pleaded, incredibly craven.
Neither he nor Sandshoes had been hit at all when I had seen them prostrate on the ground, merely frightened. The sergeant continued to bawl lustily. We sat, the nine of us, side by side, on the edge of our ready-dug grave.
The Japanese machine gunner lay down and peered along his barrel. It was my twenty-first birthday and I was not happy.

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Excerpt from “Further Adventures of a New Guinea Resident Magistrate” by Captain C. A. W. Monckton ~~Rain-makers~~

Sorcery among New Guinea natives may be divided into two kinds: the sorcerer practising the first kind belongs to a class of wicked, malevolent assassins, doing evil for the sake of evil; he is prepared to perform his devilry, administer poison, or commit any crime for any person paying him to do so. This class of sorcerer does not pretend to perform anything but black magic, or to work anything but harm; and the shadow of the fear of the brute is over the whole tribal life. Sorcerers practising the second kind are men who make use of a benevolent and kindly magic for good only. These pretend to possess powers of rain-making, wind or fish-bringing, bone-setting, the charming away of sickness, or charming the spot upon which a garden is to be made to render it productive. They understand massage to a certain extent, and are usually highly respected and estimable members of the community to which they belong; and to interfere with this second class in the practice of their arts, would be not only cruelly unjust but decidedly unwise.
Once I had a frantic row with a Missionary Society over a member of the class of rain-makers. This old fellow I knew to be an eminently respectable old gentleman, and famed for many miles as a rain-maker; in fact, I had more than a suspicion that upon occasions my own police had paid for his services in connection with the Station garden. Well, to my amazement, I one day received a complaint from a European missionary, that the old fellow was practising sorcery and levying blackmail. I knew the charge to be all nonsense, and my village constables laughed at it; in fact, they regarded the story in much the same light as a London bobby would a tale to the effect that the Archbishop of Canterbury was running a sly grog shop in Wapping; but missionaries always made such a noise that I had to investigate. I found that there had been a drought in a Mission village, miles away from where the old boy lived, and the natives’ gardens were perishing: the local rain-makers tried their hands, but with no result; the missionary turned on prayers for rain, no result; then the people got desperate, and decided that the services of my estimable friend must be engaged. Accordingly, to the wrath of the missionary, they collected pigs and a varied assortment of New Guinea valuables, and sent them with a deputation to beg him to save their gardens. He accepted the gifts, and oracularly replied to his petitioners, “When the southeast wind stops, the rain will come.” They went off home satisfied; as a matter of fact, the wind had dropped before they got back and the welcome rain set in. Having ascertained the facts, I of course refused to interfere with the rain-maker; whereupon the missionary complained to Headquarters that the R M. was undermining the work of the Mission by encouraging sorcery, and I was called upon for the usual report. I reported that my time was already so fully occupied that I had none to spare in “attending to harmless disputes due to the professional jealousy of rival rain-makers.” The missionary choked with outraged and offended pride at being put on the same plane as a native rain-maker, and Muzzy squeaked about “contemptuous levity” in official correspondence.

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Excerpt from “A Fortunate Life” by A. B. Facey ~~Gallipoli~~

We left the harbour – Mudros Harbour I had found it was called – on the afternoon of the twenty-fourth of April. We were nervous and excited, knowing that we were finally on our way into action. We sailed all afternoon through a calm sea. That night we turned in to sleep in hammocks. I was very tired and despite the excitement, went to sleep.
The next thing I knew, I was being shaken awake by a corporal. The ship was moving slowly, some lights were on, and everyone was busy packing up and getting into battle dress. I noticed that stripes and rank markings had been removed from uniforms. One of the sergeants said, ‘It’s not far now. All portholes are blacked out and no lights on deck.’
The officers and sergeants were called to report to the Company Commander. Now excitement ran high. A few minutes later they returned and told us that we were to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.
When we were called to our sections our officer gave us a briefing on the proper instructions for landing. We were told that our ship would move as close as possible into shore but would keep out of range of the enemy’s shelling. He said, ‘They will throw everything they’ve got at us as soon as they wake up to what we’re doing. Now when the ship stops you will be called to the side and lined up. On the side of the ship is a rope net already in place. A destroyer will come alongside and you will climb over the side and down the rope onto the deck of the destroyer when ordered. When the destroyer has enough men it will pull away and go towards where you are to land. Close to shore you will be met by a small motor boat towing rowing-beats. You will climb into the rowing-boats and the motor boats will take you as close to shore as possible. There will be sailors in the rowing-boats and they will take you into the beach. Now you are to get ashore as best you can and then line up on the beach and await further instructions.
This was it. We were scared stiff – I know I was – but keyed up and eager to be on our way. We thought we would tear right through the Turks and keep going to Constantinople.
Troops were taken off both sides of the ship onto destroyers. My platoon and other “D” Company men were on the same destroyer. All went well until we were making the change into rowing-boats.
Suddenly all hell broke loose; heavy shelling and shrapnel fire commenced. The ships that were protecting our troops returned fire. Bullets were thumping into us in the rowing-boat. Men were being hit and killed all around me.
When we were cut loose to make our way to the shore was the worst period. I was terribly frightened. The boat touched bottom some thirty yards from shore so we had to jump out and wade into the beach. The water in some places was up to my shoulders. The Turks had machine-guns sweeping the strip of beach where we landed – there were many dead already when we got there. Bodies of men who had reached the beach ahead of us were lying all along the beach and wounded men were screaming for help. We couldn’t stop for them – the Turkish fire was terrible and mowing into us. The order to line up on the beach was forgotten. We all ran for our lives over the strip of beach and got into the scrub and bush. Men were falling all around me. We were stumbling over bodies – running blind.
The sight of the bodies on the beach was shocking. It worried me for days that I couldn’t stop to help the men calling out. (This was one of the hardest things of the war for me and I’m sure for many of the others. There were to be other times under fire when we couldn’t help those that were hit. I would think for days, ‘I should have helped that poor beggar.’)
We used our trenching tools to dig mounds of earth and sheltered from the firing until daylight – the Turks never let up. Their machine guns were sweeping the scrub. The slaughter was terrible.
I am sure that there wouldn’t have been one of us left if we had obeyed that damn fool order to line up on the beach.

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Excerpt from “Record of Service” by Bruce Robinson ~~R.A.P.~~

The following event occurred during the Sanananda campaign in Papua New Guinea around December 1942.

On the morning of our first action I left most of my gear at our overnight camp, and set up a temporary R.A.P. at one of the near corners of the oblong, and was soon kept busy dealing with incoming casualties. Later on the scene of battle changed, and I moved with my staff to join forces with Captain Jim Fotheringham, who was the R.M.O. of the other battalion that was in action with us, and we occupied a joint R.A.P. just inside the jungle beside the road. We were soon very busy, as the casualties were numerous by now. In fact, “Dum” Norris, the senior medical officer of the division, who had come up and was lending a hand, said he had never seen a busier R.A.P. in this war, or the last.
In jungle warfare there is no real front line as in more orthodox wars, and the scene of battle fluctuated throughout the day. We would hear firing on our left, and this would die down. Then it would break out to the right, and next it would be close alongside us, wherever, in fact, an enemy machine-gun post or sniper was found by our lads. On one occasion during the mid-afternoon we heard firing close at hand, and we were disturbed to see some of our green-clad boys falling back through the trees towards us, and eventually through us and past us. “Look out, there are the Japs,” cried one of my boys, pointing to shadowy figures in the undergrowth across the clearing. We had no arms, so we jumped into nearby holes. There were four of us in mine as tightly packed as on a half-past-five city bus. Lead was flying over our heads from both directions. I thought, “This is a fine way to end my military career; some blasted Jap will throw a grenade into our hole, and then good-bye.”
However, our boys rallied and held their ground, and the firing died down in a few minutes, so I thought I would crawl out and try the air, if only to get some weapon and my tin hat which I had taken off when we were busy. Nothing happened when I emerged, so I called my boys and we hastily collected our gear and made an orderly, if rapid, withdrawal. Jim Fotheringham and his boys appeared later, having had a similar experience, and together we selected a new combined R.A.P. site a couple of hundred yards farther back – our fourth for the day. This one was to become my permanent home during the next few weeks, though Jim Fotheringham had several other moves. By this time we had passed the busiest part of the day, but a trickle of casualties kept arriving all through the evening and night.

*R.A.P. – Regimental Aid Post
*R.M.O. – Regimental Medical Officer

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Excerpt from “Throwim Way Leg” by Tim Flannery ~~Swallet~~

The flight from Wamena to Kwiyawagi is unforgettable. As the aircraft climbs slowly to the west, mountains rise sharply from the valleys, their upper slopes clothed in beech forest of the darkest green, while their summits stand out above the vegetation as pointy limestone peaks and spires. Below, the Baliem River rushes through yellow grassland, past hundreds of settlements and gardens. There is something very ‘Irian’ about the view with its round houses and limestone topography. I could never mistake it for somewhere in Papua New Guinea.
Soon the aircraft enters a narrow valley where the river becomes a foaming torrent. At the head of the valley stands an abrupt limestone wall. It was astonishing to see that huge river we had been following was issuing from a fissure at the base of this cliff.
Our aircraft struggled to gain elevation to clear the 3,000 metre-high limestone crest above the fissure. It did so with the barest of margins, and we swooped over tree-tops and spires of jagged, grey limestone karst which seemed to be just a few metres below us.
The conical limestone towers and dark trees soon dropped away abruptly at yet another steep cliff-face. Beyond it lay a glorious, undulating valley, stretching away to the east and west. This great, isolated valley is a gentle and fertile land dotted with hamlets. Two vast rivers cut their way through it. Even though the rivers are at nearly 3,000 metres of elevation, they are lazy, meandering and muddy, resembling the type more often seen at sea-level than at such altitudes.
These are the East and West Baliem rivers. They converge just a few kilometres from the base of the cliff we had just passed. Looking back, I saw one of the most extraordinary natural features ever encountered in a lifetime of travel – the Baliem swallet – a vast hole in the earth which lies at the cliff’s base. Into it disappears the entire combined flow of the East and West Baliem rivers. To see such an enormous volume of water disappear from the face of the earth, as if it was entering some great plug-hole, is awesome. The water swirls furiously sending up great spurts of spray as the river and all it carries enter an underground cavern. It exits on the other side of the range, at the great spring we had flown over.
The swallet is made all the more striking by evidence that this sink-hole occasionally clogs up. Around it, in ever wider concentric rings are ridges which mark the shorelines of old lakes. These form whenever debris, such as trees, boulders, and mud, temporarily clogs the entrance. The water forms ponds until the blockage is breached. Then the lake is emptied by a vast, sucking whirlpool in what must surely be one of nature’s great spectacles.

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