Hathaway, William T.: Wellsprings: A Fable Of Consciousness, Cosmic Egg Books, Winchester UK, 2013, ISBN 978-1-78099-994-4 (paperback).
Note: Swans contributing writer William T. Hathaway has published a new novel. Wellsprings: A Fable Of Consciousness is set in 2026 as the earth's ecosystem has broken down under human abuse. Water supplies are shrinking. Rain is rare, and North America is gripped in the Great Drought with crops withering and forests dying. In the midst of environmental and social collapse, an old woman and a young man set out to heal nature and reactivate the cycle of flow by using techniques of higher consciousness.
The narrator, Bob, 18, meets Jane, 77, at a California hot springs and joins her quest to free the water. But the corporations that control the remaining aquifers lash out to stop them, first harassing our odd-couple heroes, then jailing them:
(Swans - October 7, 2013) Loudspeaker wakes me: "Good morning, residents. Six a.m. Time to rise and shine." It takes me a moment to realize where I am, then the monotony begins again -- empty time filled with noise, useless games, futile conversation. The prisoners who have to spend years, their whole lives, in these chicken-coop -- cages what that must do to them, watching their lives drain away, helpless, hopeless. If they do get out, it's only into another prison of poverty and slums where the only escape is erasing themselves with drugs and ending up back here. Trapped. It's a wonder they don't kill everyone they see.
I'm lucky. I'll be out of here before long. But then I think, when I do get out, I'll have a record, and that'll make it harder for me to get even the shit jobs that are out there. And if I get desperate for money and break another law and get caught at it, I'll be in for a lot longer -- repeat offender. Have even more trouble getting a job. If I have a family and see my kids ragged and hungry and the only way to help them is to steal something, I'd probably do it.
The few people at the top getting richer and richer. Now even the water belongs to them, what's left of it. Their hands hold the levers of power, running the politicians, the media, the armies, the cops, the courts. I never put all this together before, but here in jail it becomes clear.
I bat the ping-pong ball, I watch the game show, I shuffle the cards. Then I think, Hey, my body has to be here, but my mind doesn't. I'll meditate. I go into the cell and sit up on my bunk. The TV is blaring, men are talking and arguing, the ping-pong ball is pinging and ponging, but I start the mantra anyway and follow it down as it gets fainter and smaller and my thoughts fall away and the noise fades into the background. One guy asks me what I'm doing, and I open one eye and say "Meditating," and he goes away. I sit there for about an hour, get up and stretch and walk around, then sit back down.
After a few hours of TM, I feel outside of time. It's like all this is a play I'm watching from backstage. I'm the author of the play sitting there in the wings watching myself and others act in it. Out there on the stage there's time -- beginnings, middles, and ends. But backstage there is no time. Everything just is.
"Parks!" someone barks at me. I open my eyes. It's my lower bunkmate, a burly Native American in for bad checks. "Your butt's going to get sore just sitting there for hours. It's yard time. Let's go play some basketball."
He's right -- it is sore. I could use some exercise.
As I'm running, dribbling, and shooting, I know that behind all this, backstage, I'm sitting there watching a play I wrote. Two different mes and two different levels of life -- the busy, active surface and the still, quiet depths. Like the ocean. Meditation is like diving down to explore the depths and getting to know the other me who lives down there.
That night I dream about Jane. She's wearing a long nightgown and sinking into a pool of water. I'm trying to save her but all I'm wearing is a life jacket, and that holds me on the surface so I can't get to her. She smiles at me, and I grab for her hand, but it slips away and she goes down. I wake up with my heart beating fast, the snores, snorts, and sighs of my fellow prisoners telling me I'm in jail.
Wellsprings: A Fable Of Consciousness blends adventure, ecology, and mystic wisdom to portray a future that is looming closer every day. Further samples are posted on the publisher's Web site at http://www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings.
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About the Author
William T. Hathaway is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. His other books include the novels A World of Hurt (Rinehart Foundation Award), Summer Snow, which was reviewed on Swans in March 2006, and Radical Peace: People Refusing War (Swans interview. He is a member of the Freedom Socialist Party. A selection of Hathaway's writing is available at http://www.peacewriter.org. (back)