Eye, Eye, Eye!

One eye on the past

The first doc­u­ment­ed edi­tion of THE REVELATOR appeared in Portsmouth, New Hamp­shire, not long after the North­field bank rob­bery of 1876. How­ev­er emi­nent schol­ars, many now dis­cred­it­ed for their pio­neer­ing efforts, have uncov­ered rumors of ear­li­er ver­sions, a Rev­e­la­tor Apoc­rypha extend­ing back over two mil­len­nia. This dusty her­itage has exert­ed untold influ­ence across the cen­turies, and is lov­ing­ly cat­a­loged in the libraries at Rev­e­la­tor Cen­tral. Below we present a few rep­re­sen­ta­tive items, ful­ly sym­pa­thiz­ing with our read­ers’ dis­may that we do not have the space to dis­cuss THE REVELATOR’s con­tro­ver­sial involve­ments with the flesh mer­chants of Lamu Island, Wada Chubei Yorimoto’s whale fish­ery, or the Roman emper­or Elagabalus’s circumcision.

1358 BC: In the fifth year of his reign, the Egypt­ian pharaoh Amen­hotep IV took the name Akhen­at­en to com­mem­o­rate his hav­ing aban­doned the tra­di­tion­al gods and devot­ed his wor­ship to Aten, the god of the sun. The influ­ence of Akhenaten’s beliefs was short-lived. Fol­low­ing his death, suc­ces­sors to the throne such as Ozy­ma­dias (Ramess­es II) tore down his tem­ples to Aten, des­e­crat­ed his tomb, and excised his name from the offi­cial lists of pharaohs. Reput­ed schol­ars still debate what event pre­cip­i­tat­ed Akhenaten’s con­ver­sion to the cult of the sun god. Oth­ers, more cir­cum­spect, know­ing full well the fate of Akhen­at­en, point to how the hiero­glyphs denot­ing Aten are iden­ti­cal to those for THE REVELATOR!

7th Cen­tu­ry AD: Runes on a fibu­la describe the birch queen with her crown of twen­ty can­dles and unsheered fin­ger­nails. She sits astride a throne of net­tles, naked on a cool Sep­tem­ber night. Her female sub­jects, like­wise naked and smeared with blue clay, kneel before her. Four women appear from among the ghost­ly trees. They walk straight and tall, proud, in spite of the bur­den they share. A man is strapped spread-eagled between them, leather thongs join­ing his wrists and ankles to their shoul­ders. The women kneel before their queen. One grabs the man’s jaw, anoth­er his nose, forc­ing his mouth open. On the captive’s tongue are tat­tooed the words the birch queen has wait­ed to read these many months, the words that will pre­cip­i­tate the com­ing war with the dis­ci­ples of Wodan. THE REVELATOR!

1819: The youth­ful poet Thomas Bed­does, while tramp­ing through the myr­tle of his native Shrop­shire, came upon “a hen-robin, trem­bling like a star, over her brit­tle eggs.” He stole an egg, lat­er telling his friend Kon­rad Degan that he had intend­ed to con­sume it boiled with toast and pick­le, but when he peeled back its shell he found the inte­ri­or mem­brane pat­terned with tiny blue let­ter­ing. “What did it say?” asked Degan. Bed­does refused to answer, claim­ing that, “The crack between a pair of syl­la­bles may some­times be a grave.” Some say it was this mes­sage, if mes­sage it was, that made Bed­does the poet he became. Oth­ers that it drove him to mad­ness and sui­cide. THE REVELATOR!


Another eye on the present

Upon his retire­ment from the Supreme Court in 2009, Jus­tice David H. Souter returned to New Hamp­shire and like so many natives of the state before him, wise­ly elect­ed to buy a new house to store his exten­sive and still grow­ing library. “I need a new wing just for my REVELATOR col­lec­tion,” the Con­cord Mon­i­tor quot­ed him as say­ing. Although not offi­cial­ly report­ed, we here at Rev­e­la­tor Cen­tral can now reveal that Jus­tice Souter vis­it­ed our own libraries on numer­ous occa­sions, and not just to peruse the rel­e­vant lit­er­a­ture on Planned Par­ent­hood v. Casey and Bush v. Gore. Indeed, now with extra time on his hands, we have come to view him as an hon­orary intern so eager­ly does he chauf­feur our senior interns from build­ing to build­ing. “A bicy­cle is much more ener­gy effi­cient than a golf cart,” Souter says, a lit­tle out of breath but smil­ing, and who are we to tell him otherwise.

A senior intern shelving books at the Western Branch Library of Revelator Central

A senior intern shelving books at the Western Branch Library of Revelator Central

And a third eye on the future

The scene, a strick­en New York City. Its streets are brack­ish water­ways. Green water laps at the roof of a Dunkin’ Donuts. Rub­bery veg­e­ta­tion caress­es the burnt-out husks of apart­ment build­ings. The engorged red sun might as well be bor­rowed from a Delany, Vance, or Wolfe novel.

Ten fath­oms down, sub­merged with­in a storm sew­er, an ancient tur­tle dreams. He dreams about hatch­ing from a gold­en egg on a warm peb­bled beach. He dreams about climb­ing through forests of bam­boo and licorice. He dreams of evenings, morn­ings, and after­noons, times of day nev­er to be reclaimed. He dreams of his teenage years, when he and his friends learned to fight from a rene­gade sen­sei. He dreams of pizza.

Dark­er dreams intrude. Pinochet, Rea­gan, Oroku Saki…the over­lords whose genomes gave rise to the ram­pag­ing armies of cor­rupt design. He dreams of his friend April scream­ing alarm on the ten o’clock news, a bloody rain sleet­ing upward behind her. April’s bones are long buried, her tomb­stone sunk in silt but dec­o­rat­ed with a wreath of fresh sea­weed. The tur­tle sees to that commemoration.

A sound, flu­id and cold. Is the tur­tle still dream­ing? No. Some­thing splash­es overhead.


The tur­tle heaves loose from his sod­den couch. Three oth­er tur­tles are sprawled near­by, lost to slum­ber. He kicks hard, accel­er­ates upward. His stom­ach gur­gles in sym­pa­thy with his ear­li­er dream of piz­za. A tur­tle can go a long time with­out eat­ing but that does not mean his hunger is any less.

The boat is assem­bled from plas­tic juice and milk bot­tles and over­laid with a plat­form of blue Sty­ro­foam. A pad­dle splash­es, catch­ing more air than water. The boat lurch­es for­ward, spins uncertainly.

This is almost too easy. The tur­tle ris­es like hunger, like vengeance, mus­cu­lar mem­o­ry adopt­ing the Snap­ping Wave fight­ing stance.

There is a flur­ry of activ­i­ty from the boat. More splash­ing. The pad­dle? No. Glit­ter­ing streaks. The bot­tom of the boat bris­tles with knives and spears. The tur­tle veers. A whirring mech­a­nism is shoved into the water, strikes the turtle’s nose. Bub­bles sting his eyes.

The tur­tle breaks sur­face, spews water, spit­ting angry. The boat is already a dozen feet away, bur­bling down the flood­ed street like the mock­ing rem­nant of a dream. The crea­ture astride it is per­haps three feet tall, clothed in a suit of garbage bags and duct tape, its mop of hair styled into the greasy pom­padour of an ex-president.

The turtle’s anger shifts to con­fu­sion. How did the crea­ture know it was about to be attacked? The tur­tle is well-prac­ticed in his art, silent as shad­ow, but the crea­ture behaved as if clair­voy­ant. Then the tur­tle sees the words of warn­ing scratched into the drip­ping moss on a near­by build­ing wall. The tur­tle shakes a scaled fist and cries, “Curse you REVELATOR!”


Which leads us to…

This issue of THE REVELATOR, of course.

THE REVELATOR has exist­ed in many forms but appear­ances can be deceiv­ing. THE REVELATOR behind what­ev­er cov­er it should pos­sess is still THE REVELATOR! Nev­er­the­less, it was with some sur­prise — espe­cial­ly because in its cur­rent incar­na­tion THE REVELATOR is a thing of bits and bytes, 0’s and 1’s, a flick­er on your com­put­er screen — that we saw how often books of the papery sort fig­ured in the works of this issue’s authors.

Books, as we all know, are passé. Nobody buys them, nobody owns them, nobody can make a liv­ing writ­ing them, civ­i­liza­tion is over, and all that. But here they were, prop­ping up the fam­i­ly piano, pro­vid­ing a com­fort­able read on a hot sum­mer day, or serv­ing as a ref­er­ence point for rebel­lion. They appeared in book­shops, apart­ments, and porch­es. They remind­ed us with words, pic­tures, or some com­bi­na­tion there­of that they had not retired from our con­scious­ness, but had wait­ed for this moment to worm them­selves into the warp and weft of our texts.

Here at THE REVELATOR we are fans of the passé, the out­ré, the recher­ché, and oth­er French words help­ful for clear­ing out nasal cav­i­ties. More­over, we believe that our authors can do no wrong (“droit divin de l’auteur”) for it is in their heady hands and handy heads that the ulti­mate truth repos­es. Thus, we have decid­ed to take our ever-so-van­guard online pres­ence and devote it to the idea of offline books.

We trust that you, our dis­cern­ing read­er, will enjoy our archa­ic endeav­ors. But should you hap­pen to share this issue with some­one of baser tastes, some­one who for exam­ple prefers the dig­i­tal Audrey Hep­burn or the Necro­nom­i­con in 3D to the originals…to them we can only respond with the words of Ozzy, our favorite metham­phet­a­mine deal­er, who vis­it­ed our offices the oth­er day and said, “Look on my works, ye bitch­es, and despair!”