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.
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!”