To next chapter (Chapter 7)




Robert spent the next several days at the site, photographing every page of the Guide for Dialecticians.

He put a set of the photos on a flash drive for Orten and took a flash drive home to begin translating more parts of the book.

During the time he spent translating this book, Robert attended several morning meetings with the group in order to keep track of the team’s progress but made no reports at these meetings.

It took him a month to complete a rough but readable translation of the parts of the book he found to be most illuminating. At the next 8:00 a.m. meeting, he reported he was polishing his translation, and Orten scheduled an evening get-together in his office at the Grayling Conservancy for Robert’s presentation.

In the days that led up to the meeting, Robert made a copy of the translation for each team member and wrote a summary to read to the group.

The group assembled in Orten’s office on a Wednesday evening. Once everyone had arrived, Robert handed out copies of the translated passages. When he handed Orten two copies by mistake, Orten made a joke of it, waving the extra copy in the air and saying in mock horror, “Someone’s not going to get a copy! I’ve got theirs here. Who doesn’t have a copy?” Robert felt Orten meant to diminish the presentation even before it had begun.

“OK, Robert,” Orten said. “Everyone’s here. Let’s hear about this Guide for Dialecticians.”

Robert stood in front of the group at a podium set up next to Orten’s desk and began his presentation. “It’s my impression,” he said, “that the Atlanians saw the Guide for Dialecticians as a founding document. The copy of the book we found in Kholoruuf’s study must have been an original, apparently printed long before Kholoruuf’s time. Because it was set apart from the other books, because it was so reverently wrapped and kept in a cabinet under the archaeopteryx display, I feel we can assume the Atlanians treated this book as a national treasure. First I want to read from the book’s introduction, in which the author, whose name was Apporiopasshe, wrote:

“Our people are decent and civilized. They are intelligent, and throughout the island states and in the less remote outlying cities, they are well educated. Through our electrical information networks, the people keep themselves informed.

“So these people are smart, informed, and seek to do good; yet, on any given issue, their opinions as to how this good is to be done often differ widely. Frequently this difference is a sign that no one is in possession of the full truth about how good is to be done. But the dialectic can bring these opinions nearer and nearer to truth via the principle of synergy.“

“The term I translated as ‘dialectic’ is skeo,” Robert said then continued to read.

“In civil debate between two people, truths are revealed that neither participant could have seen on his or her own. This is how civil argument, superficially contentious, actually brings happiness to our community. The dialectic should be high on the list of ingredients in anyone’s recipe for how we can become happy by acquiring knowledge of what’s true, what’s good, and what’s beautiful.

“All the structures necessary for a respectable dialectic have existed and have been used in the Central Islands for centuries. These structures are language, the written word, democracy, the printing press, and the electrical networks that have recently come into existence. The resulting knowledge of how to do good has caused more goodness to be done.

“Yet it is only recently that the dialectic has been seen as a method that might be reconstituted in a fundamental way. The dialectics of the past were a mere candle flame lighting our path toward truth. But the new Truth Engine-generated dialectics in the Logos can cut through ignorance as a laser cuts through steel.”

“The word for laser is pash-oekh,” Robert explained. “Literally knife light.“ He continued:

“And whereas ordinary dialectical structures lack any moral faculty, the Truth Engine is governed by a moral will in the form of the Ikon.”

“That is, mant. It means ‘image.’”

“In the year forty-nine of the thirtieth tlahok, we founded the League of Dialecticians in Pemruuk in North America. In the year fifty-four, we held our celebratory convention in the central city of Atl. By the year sixty, we had established Truth-Engine centers from Pemruuk in the west, to Meh-Atl in the north, to Kashr in the east, and to Lemin-Daal-Atl in the south. Today the Truth Engine is an institution esteemed by our people as being on a par with our governmental institutions.”

“I think we can suppose that ‘electrical networks,’ referred to an Internet-type system,” Robert explained. “On the first page of this book after the introduction, we see the same two-rings symbol that was inscribed on the outside of Nell’s Koppie. Finally we have the key to the meaning of this glyph. It diagrams the architecture of the Truth Engine.

“In my translation document, I’ve included a picture of the relevant page. You can look at it and see how the parts were labeled. You’ll notice that just as the author used two different words for articulation, I’ve used two different words to translate them. Because I used ‘Logos’ as the name for the left-hand circle, staying with the Greek, I used ‘Ikon,’ instead of, say, ‘Image,’ for the right-hand circle. These are my suggested translations. Of course you can use any names you wish.”

Orten studied his copy of the document. “I’ve got no objection to your terms, Robert,” he said.

In Robert’s translation document, he had included this key to the two-rings diagram:

parts of the Truth Engine

Truth Engine diagram

The Truth-Engine diagram in Guide for Dialecticians

“From the text that follows,” Robert continued, “we learn that the League of Dialecticians governed the Truth Engine. Its members included people in the various ranks of the dialecticians, from student up to the chief logician. Kholoruuf, when he lived at the house we’re exploring, was the chief logician.

“The Atlanians used the Truth Engine to turn any ordinary argument into a high-energy search for truth. The engine maximized the synergy that produced new knowledge. It maximized the power that controversy has to reveal truth, and the revelation of truth can increase happiness.

“This is how it worked. Truth-Engine books were central to the workings of the Truth Engine. These books were located in what the dialecticians called the Critical and Philosophical Libraries and were, it seems clear, what we today would call ‘moderated wikis.’ Agreeing to use only one set of rules, the Atlanians directed their controversies onto the pages of these Truth-Engine books. The rules required all premises and conclusions to be set forth in good logical form. In this way the dialecticians made sure their arguments would be in sync with one another, thereby maximizing synergy.

“So the Truth Engine had three parts. I’ve translated their names as ‘Logos,’ ‘Logikon,’ and ‘Ikon.’ To these parts were applied the further divisions of ‘Truth,’ ‘Goodness,’ and ‘Beauty.’ These divisions are represented elsewhere in the book as three concentric circles, Truth being the largest circle and Beauty the innermost. The Logos was further divided into the ‘Critical Dialectic’ and the ‘Philosophical Dialectic.’ A division they called the ‘Practical Dialectic’ is symbolized by the diamond shape in the diagram.

“It worked this way: The participant would look at a well-structured argument in one of the Truth-Engine book wikis and say, ‘I can make this argument better.’ Then he or she would suggest a change to the argument while preserving its form. The managers of the book were free to accept or reject the suggestion. Over time, with many people making such amendments, the arguments in the book were continually improved in a way that no human being acting alone could hope to match.

“The process was cyclical. Each book was prepared by a small, highly trained group of dialecticians. Then debaters in the public media would use the book to refresh their arguments. During and after the actual debates in the media, the debaters and their audience would decide how the book could be improved. Their suggestions would be incorporated by the dialecticians into an amended version of the book that would be used by debaters in the public media, and the cycle would be repeated.

“With the new knowledge that was delivered by this process, the people’s ability to do good grew quickly, and the people’s happiness vastly increased.

“So in Apporiopasshe and Kholoruuf’s Truth Engine, logic wasn’t an esoteric discipline as it is in our day. It was central to the process of maximizing synergy and thus of revealing truth. And so it was key to the very well-being of the people.”

“It seems to me,” Orten broke in, “that the Truth-Engine process required that everyone be a master of logic and critical thinking. But that can’t happen.”

“The Guide shows that not everyone needed to be a master logician,” Robert said. “It explains how a relatively small number of logicians created and managed the encyclopedia, the books of the Truth Engine. The arguments developed by these logicians were then presented in the mass media.”

“Oh, sure,” Orten said. “Go on.”

“The Truth-Engine books were described,” Robert continued, “as composing one big book, or an encyclopedia—the term is satshoora-makatl. The dialecticians were described as ‘encyclopedists.’ The author of the Guide, Apporiopasshe, showed how every book was connected to all the others through reference links. This encyclopedia, in a thorough way, treated knowledge not by pointing to a set of facts but by articulating a set of conflicting beliefs that were connected via logical structures to supporting premises. Over time the arguments became strengthened and the sense of facts, or knowledge, emerged.

“See, the Atlanians viewed every argument thread as a ‘happiness-producing device’ that they made concrete by putting it into the Truth-Engine book, where they could work on it and perfect it. Apporiopasshe wrote, ‘The Truth-Engine Encyclopedia is a grand resource for those who want to know how to do good.’

“He gives an example of a goodness-division argument. The question is, ‘Should Atlan attack the king of Florida?’—the word for Florida is Tee. The three options are to attack, to sanction, or to do nothing. He asks, ‘What will happen if Atlan attacks Florida and with what probability? What will happen if the king of Florida is sanctioned? What will happen if nothing is done?’

“The answers to these questions, he says, had to be compared with respect to the desirability of each possible outcome. The wrong choice could result in bitter grief. But opinions differed. Partisans on all sides often debated only to win the argument, unmindful of whether or not truth was revealed in the process. They put their arguments to the test on the pages of the Truth-Engine Encyclopedia, in the article on the proposed attack. This action was the ratchet’s driving pawl, or kaash-maayit. The dialectician managers, the encyclopedists, acted as the ratchet’s holding pawl or tenut-maayit. They ensured that an argument could be replaced only by a stronger one.“

“What’s a pawl?” Orten asked, just before Robert was going to explain the word.

Robert looked at Jennifer and saw she was smiling. Then he looked back at Orten. “Sorry,” he said. “A pawl is the little lever on a ratchet that engages the teeth, to make the gear move or stop. Apporiopasshe is comparing the Truth Engine to a kind of ratchet of truth.”

Orten nodded. “Oh. OK,” he said.

“The dialecticians were a special breed,” Robert continued. “Apporiopasshe speaks of them this way:

“The enclopedists know their desires to be right interfere with their search for truth, and they take pride in courageously confronting these desires. With honorable determination they strengthen even arguments with whose conclusions they disagree. They accept the noble task of revealing truth.”

“I found a passage by the philosopher John Stuart Mill,” Robert said, “that bears on this idea of the nobility of argumentation. He talks about a person who justifiably has confidence in his own opinion, and says that such justification was achieved because of the person’s habit of listening to everything that could be said against his views. The person’s confidence is justified because he has, Mill says, quote, ‘the steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others.’ The person has, Mill says, quote, ‘taken up his position against all gainsayers.’ I’ll include the text as a footnote in my translation document.”

Orten, in a silly gesture, raised his hand like a child in a classroom. “It sounds like Mill doesn’t say we’re supposed to argue. He just says we should listen to all points of view.“

“Mill says to ‘collate’ our opinions with those of others,” Robert told him. “We should compare and combine views. And he talks about the wise man ‘taking up his position against all gainsayers’—that is, standing up against opponents. I take that to refer to argument.“

Orten sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “OK,” he said.

“In other parts of the Guide for Dialecticians,“ Robert continued, “Apporiopasshe analyzes the human faculties. In one section Apporiopasshe presents a model of the human psyche in which the two primary faculties are reason and will. He doesn’t explicitly state this view is a correct analysis of the human mind but says, quote, ‘If we think of the human psyche this way, we can provide for an effective Truth Engine.’

“The faculty of reason, he said, contains four rules of thought. Three of these are deductive laws: the Deny-Other Law, the Add-Anything Law, and the In-Common Law. The fourth rule is an inductive law that he called the Expect-More Law. Apporiopasshe says the will contains many desires. A special repository for one or some of these is the conscience, with its special directive or set of directives.

“Apporiopasshe cautioned the dialectician always to keep in mind that, quote, ‘it is often impossible to tell whether a person disagrees with us in reason or in conscience or both.’ Interestingly this book hints of a deeper reality that relates somehow to the true identity of the Truth Engine. Also in the Guide is a version of Atlanian logic. It’s like the one in the book on logic whose initial pages I translated before, the book called Truth-Engine Logic.“

Orten, seated at his desk, lowered his head and raised his eyes to look at Robert. With a serious expression on his face, he said, “So they had an encyclopediocracy?”

At first Robert thought Orten was joking. But Orten’s expression remained serious. Was it mock seriousness? The two looked at each other for an awkward moment. Robert looked away without answering Orten. He felt embarrassed and decided that was exactly what Orten wanted.

For Robert the idea that the explicit and rigorous use of the same logical rules by all participants in a cooperative or even competitive effort to find truth, and thereby to produce happiness, was very appealing.

“So is that it?” Orten asked.

“Well, there is one more thing,” Robert said. “Tucked between the pages of the Guide was a folded paper with Kholoruuf’s notes on it. I know that none of the history books we found cover the later events of Kholoruuf’s time, but his notes may give us a clue as to why the Atlanian system broke down. On this piece of paper, Kholoruuf describes different groups of people who are related to the Truth Engine in different ways.“

Robert looked at his translation. “Kholoruuf called one of these groups the ‘Enginists.’ Enginists were those who operated any Truth Engine that was guided by humility and goodwill, where ‘good’ is taken to have its ordinarily accepted meaning. Kholoruuf was an Enginist. The Pseudo-Enginists were those who operated any Truth Engine that was ostensibly guided by goodwill but without humility. The Counter Enginists were people opposed to discursive reason and, therefore, to any Truth Engine. The Radical Enginists were opposed to intuition and had an unbalanced attraction to a Truth Engine. The Anti-Enginists were those who operated any Truth Engine guided by an evil will. Kholoruuf calls this kind of Truth Engine an ‘Anti-Engine.’

“I surmise that Atlan, with its Truth Engine, came under attack by nations guided by Anti-Engines. This could have caused the final conflagration.“

Robert remembered the note he’d found in the New York site; he remembered Kholoruuf’s warning, “Beware of the Anti-Engine.“ But he could say nothing to Orten’s crew about this message.

“So despite their engine,” Orten said, “the Atlanians’ society disappeared in a conflagration. What does that say about the usefulness of the Truth Engine?”

“Well,” Robert said, “it was engine against engine—a great power against a great power.”

Orten frowned. “That’s just guessing, Robert. You don’t know what destroyed this culture. None of the books here sheds any light on this. Their engine didn’t help them. As I see it, the Guide’s focus on logic shows the Truth Engine to be rather cold and without spirit—not the kind of bedrock you’d want to base a society on.“

“But reason and emotion are two sides of a single coin,” Robert said. “Each complements the other. It doesn’t make sense to assume that, simply because the Guide emphasized logic, the system was one-sided. Kholoruuf the Enginist decried the ‘Radical Enginist,’ who was in fact no Enginist at all. The Guide had to do mostly with the Logos, but you remember there was an Ikon that expressed the system’s emotional side.”

“I admit,” continued Robert, “at this point I have a rather vague conception of this Ikon of the Truth Engine, but it was there. One side of the Truth Engine was discursive; the other was, I guess you could say, intuitive. They called the nondiscursive side—the Ikon—a work of art. It was a book, or perhaps an electronic game, that conveyed the iconography of the Truth Engine. When you read this book, or played this game, you learned the rules of the forum, and the rules were attached to the feelings of appreciation for the ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty. The Ikon kept the forum on track as a search for truth, goodness, and beauty, so it worked to ensure that the Truth-Engine workers operated with goodwill. It was a balanced system. I believe the Guide makes all this clear.”

Orten wasn’t convinced. “I don’t know how you can connect these two things—the Logos and the Ikon—like this,” he said.

They’re connected in the Logikon, Robert thought. But once again he decided it wouldn’t be prudent to press the debate. He loved exchanging ideas with people who also enjoyed the dialectic, but Orten clearly wasn’t one of these people. Robert sensed he’d already gone too far in arguing with him. If Orten was planning to keep this discovery from the public, then belittling the Kholoruufian doctrines might help in his own mind to assuage his guilt for keeping them secret.

Later that day, working in Kholoruuf’s study, Robert inspected several bound books others had found in the drawers beneath the atlas. Each had a sheet of paper pasted to the front cover that showed the book’s contents through synopses. One by one he brought each book to his table, sat down, and translated its pasted sheet. These are his translations, which he finished that evening at home. The notes following the titles are comments Robert felt Kholoruuf himself had written:

Synopsis of Land and Sea

There are four books in this volume.

1. Pseudo-Shachteranta: This outline for a dialectic lists arguments about the question of floating continents and plate tectonics.

2. The Pseudo-Preshtiata: This is a very old copy of this outline for a dialectic. It was brought into the collection of the third chief logician by the fifth chief logician. It lists arguments, pro and con, regarding the question of an expanding earth. The central pro argument advances an a priori “piece-fitting” view. The main con argument focuses on geodetic evidence. The Pseudo-Preshtiata Atlas pictures the history of the earth’s geological features as the expanding earth theorist envisions them and is separately bound.

3. The Core Structures of the Truth Dialectic. This is said to be a copy of the first chief logician’s design for part of the Logikon’s Truth Division. It is included in Land and Sea only by convention.

4. Outline of the Modern Truth Division of the Logikon is also included in Land and Sea by convention. We find in this wide-ranging compilation, in a part written sometime between the time of the seventh to tenth chief logicians, the well-known note, written in the margin by an unknown hand, which claims that “Keshekh discovered the Great Place for Humankind, the place built as a repository for the Hidden Doctrine on the identity of the Truth Engines. Keshekh showed this Great Place to the master dialecticians as it is shown to the master dialecticians today.“

This is the earliest known copy of the Outline and contains the original note.

In the 1960s, geologists discovered that earth’s continents slowly move with respect to one another. These scientists found, for example, that South America and Africa were joined 250 million years ago. Robert knew that according to the modern theory of plate tectonics the continents ride on top of fifty-mile-thick slabs of rock that float around on the earth’s mantle. He also knew that a tiny group of scientists held a dissenting view. Their expanding-earth theory proposed that the lands separated because the sphere of the earth under the continental crust is growing. Robert could see that the Atlanians had more respect for the theory of an expanding earth than modern scientists did.

Apparently the Pseudo-Preshtiata Atlas was the book of maps that was open on the cabinet when the team first had entered Kholoruuf’s study.

Synopsis of The Truth Enginist

The Truth Enginist, in seven volumes, has come down to us from the very beginning of the Truth Engine’s existence.

1. Why Do People Argue? According to this work, there are three possible reasons for disagreement. First, the people arguing might have similar consciences but are using different reasoning. Second, their reasoning might be similar, but they have very different consciences. Third, consciences and reasoning might both be at odds. This work contains the “Levels of Charity” notes, whose author tells us, “Do not say to another ‘You are evil,’ when you can say, ‘You are a fool;’ do not say ‘You are a fool,’ when you can say, ‘You are mistaken;’ Do not say ‘You are mistaken,’ when you can say, ‘The mistake may be mine.’”

2. The Pangaea of Theory as Symbol. This is a small group of notes and drawings that presents the Pangaea of Theory map of the united Permian lands as being symbolic of how the Truth Engine can unite the world into a Pangaean unity.

Robert guessed that since the continents were united in this map, the map represented earth during the period known as the Permian.

3. The Pangaea of Goodness as Symbol. This is a small group of notes and drawings that presents the Pangaea of Goodness map of the united Permian lands as being symbolic of how the Truth Engine can unite the self into a Pangaean unity.

4. The Pangaea of Beauty as Symbol. This is a small group of notes and drawings that presents the Pangaea of Beauty map of the united Permian lands as being symbolic of how the enginist can understand the cosmos as united into a Pangaean unity.

5. Truth-Engine Theory describes the Truth Engine as a tool that organizes chaotic controversy, focusing it like a laser beam onto the truth.

6. The Ontological Revolution deals with the way in which the Truth Engine forms the core faculties of a smarter society. In this packet of notes, we find the first drafts of the Aske-Tachte Dialectic.

7. Opprobrium is a collection of essays on the value of praise and blame.

Robert remembered that the Atlanian words meaning “Pangaea of Theory”—the Atlanian words translated literally as “All-Continent of Theory”—were written on the map that hung above the atlas cabinet. He wondered whether the other two “Pangaea of” maps might be found in other parts of the house. He’d have to look.

Pangaia of Truth

The Pangaea of Truth

Synopsis of Where Did the Cloths Come From?

This dialectic addresses the question “Where did the strange cloths of the prehistoric world come from?” It also looks at these related questions: “Assuming that the cloths exist, where are these cloths and how were they used (how can we account for their alleged odd material structure)?”

The dialectic begins with the dialectician’s long account of early references, all exceedingly vague, to the cloths, starting with the fourth chief logician’s poetic reference to them in his late-tenth-era poem “Grand Minds.” This part of the dialectic ends with the dialectician’s deduction in support of the view that the cloths were created by (as the old phrase goes) “the ancient races not of this earth.”

In the second argument, the student argues that there is no reason to assume the early references are not just metaphorical; the first and most detailed reference is, after all, he states, found in a poem (line 191).

The dialectician responds by noting that the very short reference by the fifth chief logician is unequivocal and not poetic, and that the fifth chief logician was a close confederate of the fourth when “Grand Minds” was written.

The student rebuts with his “extraordinary claims” argument, and the dialectician answers (line 520) with an early version of the well-known counterargument.

Then the student points to what he sees as inconsistencies among the cloth references. “Really, we don't even know what the cloths were,” he says.

Robert wondered whether the cloths mentioned might be the same pieces of cloth John and Will had found in Kholoruuf’s study. But the pieces of cloth from the study seemed to have nothing to do with the prehistoric world so he decided they weren’t in fact the same cloths.

Synopsis of Did a Ship from Another World Crash Near Ashekh in Kaleh?

This Truth-Engine book addresses the question “Does debris recovered near the village of Ashekh in Akarta of Kaleh [North America] constitute evidence that we are being visited by otherworldly beings?”

It has been alleged that the kingdom retrieved an otherworldly craft that had crashed in the province of Akarta in the northern portion of Kaleh. Skeptics pointed out that parts of the alleged alien craft exactly resembled parts of a certain lightweight, unmanned, human-made, Atl military-reconnaissance cloudship that had been lost in that vicinity at that time.

A book about UFOs from the end of the Pleistocene epoch? Robert thought. That’s absolutely incredible! What could be more surprising?

This book and the dialectic on the cloths were the first Truth-Engine books Robert had seen. If the computers had books stored in them, no one could access them, and any Truth-Engine books that might have been in the building in the Catskills or in the bookcase on the main floor of Kholoruuf’s house were gone.

The next day’s morning meeting started late, so Orten kept it short. He made sure the investigations were on track then closed the meeting. Robert handed out his translations to the team members as they filed out.

After the meeting, Robert explored the house, looking for the other two framed Pangaeas. He found the Pangaea of Goodness hanging in the astrology room behind a large cabinet and found the Pangaea of Beauty mostly hidden by a decorative drapery in the Room of Stereopticons.

As Robert stood in the Room of Stereopticons looking at the Pangaea of Beauty, he thought about how these three symbolic maps—the Pangaea of Unity in Truth, the Pangaea of Unity in Goodness, and the Pangaea of Unity in Beauty—were located in different rooms. Suddenly a revelation struck him. The house itself embodies a symbolic iconography of the Truth Engine. Kholoruuf’s study was in the Truth category. The astrology room was a Goodness room. The Room of Stereopticons was in the Beauty category, as no doubt was the art studio; possibly the Room of Honors was too. Yes, there’s no doubt about it, he thought. The house itself is symbolic.

Robert walked back into the study, sat at his work table, and contemplated his discovery. This room should have a name that reflects a connection to truth, he thought, looking around. From now on I’ll call it “the Theoretics Library.”

Whenever the three divisions appeared in the Atlanian texts, he noticed, their order was always “Truth,” “Goodness,” “Beauty.” So he decided to investigate the rooms in that order. He wondered, Might symbolically expressive architecture be a general feature of Atlanian culture? If it is, might the building in the Catskills also embody an iconography? There were three distinct parts to that building, and the central part contained an astrology machine. Somehow the astrology theme belongs in the Goodness category, he thought. Truth might be to the west; then the eastern part of the building, whose halls were filled with abstract sculptures, would symbolize Beauty. Although he had a feeling there was more to the symbolism of the building in the Catskills, he couldn’t put his finger on what it was.

Robert decided to translate the two Truth-Engine books. He would begin with the book about the very same phenomenon that today we call “UFOs.” Starting with its first page, he began to photograph the book.

At lunchtime the team gathered in the white camper to eat. No one mentioned Robert’s translation of the synopsis for the Ship from Another World book. Maybe no one’s read my handouts yet, he thought.

Robert spent the rest of the day photographing every page of the book itself then went home.

He spent two weeks in Fresnaye translating the book, finishing on a Friday evening. The book fascinated him. It consisted of a dozen chapters, each presenting a different approach to the question. Throughout this book the author consistently argued for the reality of alien visitation. Robert found the author’s “Amazing Coincidence” approach especially interesting. In this section the author wrote:

I think Skeptic’s arguments here are the strongest arguments against the claim that the Ashekh debris was otherworldly. But there is a good answer to them, and I think that in the process of rebutting them, we learn something new about the visitors’ intentions. Skeptic says:

[vs. 89, p. 1c] You claim (see 89) “an alien spacecraft crashed and left the debris in the Forest of Kesh near the village of Ashekh in Kaleh.” The following is an argument against that claim: 400Army officer Telterrik-Bohot, in his log for the twentieth day of the fourth month of the year thirty-one of the forty-ninth tlahok (see 271–286, p. 8), describes the launch of a very small unmanned reconnaissance [literally: spy] cloudship. 401This ship was lost and never recovered. 402My dear Believer, I’m sure you will agree that this cloudship might well have carried a king’s authorization of flight. 403If it did, then the ship probably had the emblem of the Prince of Kaleh printed on its sail strip. 404Furthermore there are good reasons (see above, 293, p. 8) to think this flight was heading toward the Forest of Kesh when it disappeared and equally good reasons (323–328) to think it wasn’t. The flight path cannot be reconstructed. 405Therefore it remains a distinct possibility that on the twentieth day of the fourth month of the year thirty-one of the forty-ninth tlahok, a flight carrying the emblem of the Prince of Kaleh was launched and was heading toward the Forest of Kesh in Kaleh when it disappeared.

Now consider this: 406If such a craft crashed into the Forest of Kesh, its remains would consist of gossamer sails, emblazoned with the prince’s symbol; light-wood beams; three clear plastic fuel bottles; sponges (to seal the bottles); plastic twine; and a small box engine.407But this matches exactly the gross properties of the Forest of Kesh debris.408Everyone agrees that the Ashekh debris consisted of a gossamer-like substance with a pattern on it that closely or exactly resembled the emblem of the Prince of Kaleh, light-wood-like beams, three clear bottle-like objects, pieces of a spongelike material, tough string, and a small box. 409If the Ashekh debris was from a crashed, otherworldly spacecraft, then this amazing cloudship match was coincidental. 410But the chances are infinitesimal that a crashed exotic craft would just happen to leave wreckage that so closely and coincidentally matched, even in gross appearance, the parts of a reconnaissance cloudship that may well have disappeared in the same area at roughly the same time. It’s ridiculous to believe that such a fantastically incredible coincidence occurred. 411So the material was almost certainly not that of a crashed otherworldly craft.

Summary of Skeptic’s First Argument

409If the debris did come from a crashed otherworldly craft, then the match was coincidental.

410But the match was not coincidental (since the chances of such a coincidence would be negligibly small).


411The debris did not come from a crashed otherworldly craft. (MT)

Skeptic’s Second Argument

412[vs. 87, p. 1c] My dear Believer, you say (see 87) that “the recovered materials, the bodies, and the ship itself were exotic, otherworldly.” 413Now if the material was otherworldly, then an otherworldly ship crashed. But I’ve just proven that (411)the debris was almost certainly not that of a crashed otherworldly craft. 414So the materials were almost certainly not otherworldly.

Summary of Skeptic’s Second Argument

413If the material was otherworldly, then an otherworldly ship crashed.

411The debris did not come from a crashed otherworldly craft.


414The materials were not otherworldly (MT).

Robert was surprised that the author, a believer in alien visitation, found no fault with the premises or the logic of Skeptic’s first argument here. The author says:

415[vs. 413] I actually agree with Skeptic when he says, “(410)The match was not coincidental,” and so I agree that “(411)The debris was not that of a crashed otherworldly craft.”

But I think his claim that (413)“If the material was otherworldly, then an alien ship crashed” is baseless because it is possible that the material was exotic even if there had been no crash. This is possible because the materials could have been left by aliens in order to simulate a crash—that is, the aliens might have staged a crash. In this case the materials would be otherworldly without a crash having occurred at all. Since 413 is baseless, the conclusion 414“The materials were almost certainly not otherworldly” is also unjustified. 415Skeptic, although he has proven there was almost certainly no crash, simply has not shown that the materials were not otherworldly. (But notice that a claim that the materials were otherworldly requires the aliens to have staged a crash.)

The author went on to claim that the eyewitness accounts of the strange properties of the materials proved the materials were otherworldly. Since the debris was otherworldly yet there was no crash, he concluded that the alleged crash was an instance of alien stagecraft.

the insignia as remembered

The strange insignia printed on the gossamer sheet found in the debris, as remembered years later by a witness

the insignia as it was

The emblem of the prince of Kaleh

[To read the “Amazing Coincidence” argument, tap here]

This argument jogged Robert’s memory. He read an article once about the alleged crash of a flying saucer at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The author had noted that the Roswell debris, as reported by various witnesses, was, in gross appearance, exactly the same as what one would expect the wreckage of a US Army Mogul surveillance balloon train to look like. The author of the article saw this as proof that there was no UFO crash at Roswell. Robert went to his computer and Googled the Roswell incident.

He was shocked at how similar these two cases were. In both, wreckage was found in a remote area. Years later the first responders and others, all respectable citizens, described the materials as “not of this world.” In both cases there were alleged government cover-ups. And many of the arguments in the controversies surrounding both cases were similar. For instance skeptics attempted to refute the extraterrestrial hypothesis by pointing to the similarity between the crash debris and parts of airborne devices that had been lost only days or weeks before the crash.

What’s going on here? Robert wondered.

In a note appended to the dialectic—a note Robert translated and included in his document for the group—Kholoruuf stated:

Skeptic’s argument (at 409–411) is very solid and shows without doubt that there was no otherworldly crash at Ashekh. But seemingly in conflict with this conclusion, the “witness reports” argument shows that the debris was not of this world. This dilemma can be solved only by supposing that the alleged crash was not a crash at all but in fact an event staged by races not of this earth. The author affirms this solution but does not expand upon it. For instance he does not speculate as to what purpose such a theatrical event would serve. Perhaps we can add to his idea and at some point include it in the dialectical cycles for this topic.

Those who are struggling to learn the full truth about the UFO [literally mystic ship] phenomenon must realize they are attempting to study something that knows it is being studied, and such a study is a discipline for which science is ill suited; this study falls more within the scope of deductive detective work or the work of the philosopher—or, since we are dealing with alien stagecraft, the work of the drama critic. To determine the secret motives of advanced thinkers who know they are being studied, one can only look to the results of their actions and assume that the plans and results are the same.

So what was the result of the alleged crash at Ashekh? The result was a government cover-up of the entire otherworldly visitation phenomenon. We can imagine how these creatures might describe their plan: “We wish to reveal our presence to the people of earth in our own way. To keep the government of this land from disclosing our presence in some other way, we will give them a crashed ship, something they would guard so zealously that they would act to cover up the entire phenomenon.“ But why would the debris so closely resemble parts of the missing unmanned cloudship? It can only be that the “crash” was designed to have three different effects: First, the debris prevented any government disclosure. Second, the superficial match with the drone materials allowed the scientific and academic ranks to ignore the phenomenon. Third, the alien presentation spoke to the dialecticians, those who could identify and solve the dilemma, showing these logicians more about the otherworldly beings than even those in the government were aware of. The next question is “Why, among nongovernmental people, were the dialecticians singled out to receive this knowledge?”

Although Robert always had been curious about UFOs, he never had formed an opinion regarding the reality of alien visitation. But now, for him, the mere fact of the incredible resemblance between the Roswell and Ashekh events pointed to the reality of an extraterrestrial visitation.

It is, Robert speculated, as if in some supercomputer on some alien world there resides a step-by-step plan for engaging more primitive races, a plan designed in the most distant antiquity imaginable, and applied—with utter perfection—on innumerable worlds over vast eons of time.

On Monday Robert attended the morning meeting at the site.

“This is what a Truth-Engine book looks like,” he said, as he handed out copies of his translation of the Ship from Another World book. “These dialecticians of the Truth Engine were expert technicians who worked to resolve controversial issues by taking data from researchers of different kinds—scientists, historians, and others—and also taking ideas from the public and using the dialectical process to put the pieces together. They did all this in order to reveal what’s true, what’s good, and what’s beautiful.”

Robert spent the rest of the morning working with a few of the other books in the Theoretics Library. He tried to translate a four-page, handwritten notebook—apparently a rule book—that Will had found in a drawer underneath the game set, but he could make sense of only the last two pages. The first six pages had been written, using the Atl alphabet, in a language that was unknown to him.

the game in the Theoretics Library

Reconstruction. The game set in the Theoretics Library

game rules, pages one and two

The game set rule book, pages one and two

game rules, pages three and four

The game set rule book, pages three and four

game rules, pages five and six

The game set rule book, pages five and six

game rules, pages one and two

game rules, pages seven and eight

Robert expected not to hear any feedback about the UFO dialectic until the next day, but at lunchtime, as soon as he walked into the RV to join the others, Orten lit into him.

“Hey, Robert,” he said, “so Kholoruuf, our great logical guru, believed in flying saucers! What a guy!”

“Don’t you find it at least interesting,” Robert said, “that there seems to be an amazing parallel between the Atlanian UFO phenomenon and the modern-day one?”

“Aw, don’t tell me you’re one of those nuts, Robert. Don’t tell me you believe in this crap.” Orten made no attempt to conceal his disdain for anyone who might take the topic seriously.

“Well, I find it interesting that the Ashekh material so closely resembles the Roswell—”

“Roswell?” Orten laughed. “Look. Of course there’ll be parallels. Any civilization advanced enough to know that the earth is just one of many planets in the universe is going to start imagining that extraterrestrial beings might be visiting us. These folks will start seeing things in the sky that they can’t immediately explain, and then many of the more credulous types will start thinking that flying saucers are buzzing around our skies. But it’s all nuts.”

The incredible parallel between Ashekh and Roswell had convinced Robert that there may well be something to the claim that there were otherworldly visitors on earth. At the very least, he felt, it wasn’t “nuts” to want to explore the issue. He thought he’d give reasoned discussion with Orten another try.

“How do you explain the fact that the aliens that appear with dinosaurs in those paintings exactly reflect our modern cultural concept of what aliens look like?”

“The supposed aliens look similar because of parallel psychologies—those of Kholoruuf’s time and ours. It’s an archetype: the wise infant or the wise embryo. Didn’t you see 2001: A Space Odyssey, with that embryo floating out in space, looking at the earth?”

Robert never had heard of such an archetype but wasn’t of a mind to dismiss the idea out of hand. Still he considered the Ashekh-Roswell parallel to be compelling. “Yes, I saw it. But—”

“OK. That’s enough stupid talk. Kholoruuf was a believer, and that’s that.”

Robert bristled at Orten’s attempt to end the discussion and decided to press the issue just a little more. “The presence of aliens in the paintings,” he said, “and the Mesozoic theme—these paintings mean something.”

What do they mean?” Orten said angrily.

Robert shrugged. “I don’t know.”

After lunch, Robert went back up to the Theoretics Library. He found it interesting that Orten had been so keen on bringing up the UFO business but had so completely avoided any discussion of the structure and utility of the Truth-Engine books as a genre.

Robert had planned to translate the second Truth-Engine book next, the one about the cloths, but, instead, he decided to take a look at the Pseudo-Preshtiata Atlas, the book that the cover sheet to Land and Sea had described as showing the history of the earth according to the expanding-earth theory. Leaving the book on top of the cabinet, he photographed every page of it.

That night he translated the book, which contained only a small amount of text. He found that geologists in Kholoruuf’s day had divided earth’s history into eras similar to those that modern geologists had identified. This made it possible for Robert to add several geological terms to his lexicon. The Atlanians had words that roughly corresponded to “Precambrian,” “Cambrian,” “Permian,” “Triassic,” “Jurassic,” and “Cretaceous.” Robert didn’t give a presentation on the atlas but did leave copies of his translation in the RV for the team members to take.

Next he decided to investigate the books in the slim bookcase that stood in the southwest corner of the Theoretics Library. He opened his briefcase, pulled out Will’s partial translations of these books, and looked through them. His attention was drawn to an entry in a list of section headings for one of the books; the entry read, “Dialectical Happiness.” He found no translation of this section in Will’s document, so he went over to the bookcase, located the book, opened it on his table, and turned to the section. Here was a text written by Kholoruuf in his own hand. He thought about the first time he had seen Kholoruuf’s handwriting, when he had discovered the note in the Room of Shields at the site in the Catskills, the note that had led him here. He mused about what would happen if he were to give a photo of that note to the group.

He sat down at his table and immediately realized he’d left his laptop in the 4Runner, so he got up and walked out of the library. As he headed toward the stairs, he heard Jennifer talking to someone in the main room below. From the top of the stairs, he saw she was talking to Jimmy. By the time Robert reached the ground-level landing, Jennifer was yelling.

“Don’t say you know if you don’t know! Damn it! You’re a dumb shit, Jimmy. Fucking dumb! And you’re not indispensable! If you don’t know the answer to my question, then go upstairs and get John. Maybe he knows.” She stepped up to the cowering man’s face, and in a stern voice said, “Jimmy…Go upstairs…Get John. Tell him to come down here.”

As Jimmy brushed past Robert and headed up the stairs, Jennifer looked up at Orten, who was just coming down from the top floor. Then she looked at Robert, who had stopped and was staring at her. “Don’t be so interested in what doesn’t concern you, Robert,” she said. “You’re dispensable too. We can always find someone else to piss off the professor.”

Orten let out an explosive guffaw. Smiling broadly, he looked at Robert. “Why do I always imagine her with a whip?” Then he laughed again.

Robert went outside and got his laptop. He was glad he’d seen this side of Jennifer for himself.

Back at his table, he brought up the Grayling Conservancy’s new Atl-language site on his laptop, entered his user name and password, and connected to the lexicon. He was becoming good at reading Atl and found it less and less necessary to refer to the lexicon as he translated.

The “Dialectical Happiness” section was short, and he was able to translate it in one sitting. His translation went as follows:

We feel that on every populated world, a Truth Engine must emerge with teleological [literally “cosmic”] necessity. As I see it, this means that our work, the work of the Enginists, is in complete harmony with the cosmic currents. I believe the universe supports our activities when we are in tune with it. When we are at one with the cosmos, we experience a joyful life well lived.

Today was the day of the Festival of the Truth-Engine Novices. We hosted 212 guests in the main room and in the seaside yard. I was told that more than one thousand attended the celebrations at the Grand Truth Engine in North America [Kaleh]. The weather here was as beautiful as it has ever been on a festival day, and we hung banners from poles from the house to the garden hedges. There was food and music and dialectical fun, with many wonderful ideas contributed on both general and specific subjects. Tonight I was pondering a parallel I sometimes think of that I feel somehow captures the spirit of the Truth Engine and could be applied to many other projects carried out in tune with the cosmic forces: I think of how we awaken to a beautiful day in midsummer, when we sense that all is right with the world. On a day such as this, we feel that all things are possible and that nature, in the tangible form of clement weather, will cooperate as we carry out our human plans. We have somewhere to go this day—an art show, a charity event, a big game, or a wonderful party—where we will be together with others, deepening our relationships and forming new ones. We know it will be the kind of day when, at its end, we will say, “We had fun today—and we accomplished so much. We did something wonderful today.”

I think work can be like this for the Truth-Engine participant every day, because what we do is done in harmony with the cosmos. We experience each new day as a day full of opportunity to have great fun with others, to tackle and subdue intellectual challenges of the highest order and greatest importance, to see who among us—each a champion of truth, goodness, and beauty—can rise the highest, and to do wondrous, positive, creative things together.

This is my vision of dialectical happiness.

It dawned on Robert that the Grand Truth Engine might well be the very building he had discovered in the Catskill Mountains. That building was in “Kaleh;” it possessed a kind of grandeur, and Kholoruuf had taken great pains to preserve it. Robert decided to call the building the Grand Truth Engine.

On his way out that evening, he found himself just behind Jimmy. Robert had been wondering why Jimmy took the abuse Jennifer had just subjected him to.

Catching up with him, Robert said, “Jennifer was so out of line. Didn’t you want to holler back at her?”

Jimmy looked at him and smirked. “If she hollers at you, you just take it.”


“Because of what’s coming.”

“What’s coming?”

Jimmy rubbed his thumb against his fingers in the sign for “money.”

So they’re banking on the idea that they’ll be selling the advanced technology to the highest bidder, Robert thought.

To next chapter (Chapter 7)