24 September 2019 / Fiction Out of the Dark Continent It was 1995, the year after masses of Rwandan people assembled to kill one another in the darkest jungles of the most misunderstood Continent in one of the tiniest, most insignificant of African "nations" – if such a term is permissible. I had been given the clean-up detail assignment: go into the country, meet the locals, put together a report on the aftermath – the usual bull-shit to make we Westerners feel better about ourselves. I cringe to think how little we understood in those days, and how little we still understand. When most ask of the Continent, they do not ask the right questions; they don't even know where to begin. They repeat the words of social scientists and economists with vacant expressions, and they sit there expecting me to listen, expecting me to congratulate them for their parrotry. The cushioned walls of their elegant serfdoms block out the screams of child soldiers and hunted men, disemboweled and defeated. Any of us who saw what we saw in '95, any who saw the darkness hidden in those jungles, in those little sequestered villages in the shadow of mountains, know that the questions, "What is the poverty rate?", "Do the tribes agree with the national boundaries?", or "Are the governments corrupt?" barely begin to scratch close to the soul of any issue. The Continent is more than a place; The Congo Basin is more than merely a million square miles of wild country; the people are more than hungry, more than angry at centuries of toil and hardship. One must not relate the medicated senses of the West to the active readiness of the African with his honesty, for in our deadness we lie, while the African tells the terrible Truth with his every breath. The Continent is the place where Humanity's darkest consciousness dwells; its denizens the truest portrayal of who We all are; where we flee from extremes, the Continent holds the extremes steady in equal regard, maintains the identity of more insanity than possibly imaginable. But I digress – I forget that not all have seen what I had the horror of seeing, few can explain the revulsion...As I write these lines I, Dr. Brennan More, have the privilege of observing a troop of lonely missionaries, women in denim skirts, men in snappily-lapeled suits, embarking on their plane to go and see the Continent for themselves. What insanity. What presumption. What ignorance. To leave behind the crisp cool of this well-lit, clean haven for the diseased cesspool of the centuries? See how I illumine the seat of their thoughts; see how I illumine the stench of their condescension, for such is how they describe the place to which they go, not having the ressentiment necessary to maintain their status as the betters, the advanced, the noble. Here I stand; I can do no more! God help me!If anyone finds these few words of an enlightened man, I hope you realize the state of this Continent and that you realize your own state in relation to it. I hope you behold the darkness with fear and trembling, that you smell the stench and give thanks, that you open your Soul and follow me.Where was I? Ah yes, the bullshit assignment.I, Brennan More, was tasked with assembling a craque team of scientists, evolutionary biologists, and geologists with the express aim of capturing a sight of the final link, the missing piece, the unthinkable: A proto-man, seen running on the fringes of Rwandan military camps, heard howling in the darkest jungles, feared by all for its ferocity if encountered alone. My African contact, Dr. John-Charles Rees Barton, a Brit of somewhat esoteric taste, claimed to have seen it while on a geological expedition a few months after the U.N. instituted the final cessation of hostilities. I, and my other associates from the Cambridge Department for Paleontology and Biological Artifacts, could scarcely believe what he brought before us that fair day in mid-April. He seemed rather nervous, yet matter-of-fact, certain even, of this creature being the final piece in the puzzle of Man, the much-hailed necessity of Darwin, as he unpacked his tools, unveiled his many photographs of massive footprints, more humanoid in size and shape than any previously seen. How fucking foolish we were; it was more like the antithetical to the Nietzschean Ubermensch, if anything recognizable to our sciences in the slightest. But I digress, once more. Our mission proceeded under the cover of the U.N's data collection mission, with the stamp of approval from a gaggle of Western republics once fully dedicated to the enlightenment of Man, the abolition of tyranny, what have you. At the time, I and Barton were perhaps the only true believers on the team, for in this expedition we saw the final Götterdämmerung, the receding twilight of an age of ignorance, superstition, and blatant denial of everything true. With this final piece, Man could finally look to the stars, instead of endlessly looking within himself and above himself, pining for some salvation. And the rest of the team? The rest went about their work with a turn of the century professionalism, a casual disinterest in the momentousness of our work, while we rose to the occasion with the joy of a turning millennia, the excitement of a centuries old mission come to fruition, the hope in Man confirmed at last! I remember Barton spoke of the creature in glowing terms, regardless of it merely wandering close to his fire to drink from the Congo River, barely bringing light to its form. Yet, Dr. Barton stood with me as a man of the utmost collegiality, a true Renaissance Man, and my friend. I could only trust him, and my heart leapt to think of such a discovery, of the busts of our heads lining the halls of Oxford and Cambridge for years to come. With rapturous reverie, I dreamt of my place in the history book as the man who finally silenced the religious skeptics, lifted Humanity out of a pit of superstitious fear, raised us all to the place where we could finally see ourselves clearly! Let them have their religions and their faiths, and we shall have the world and our own souls! Let them cower and grovel while we stand erect and noble!I live casting regrets to the arms of a wide, careless wind, but I regret those days more than I can care to express or put pen to paper. What do I regret? The utter meaninglessness of it all; the lives that never left that jungle; the enraptured hope that too soon flew to despair. My thoughts flew from precipitous heights of grandeur to the Truth far sooner than I thought possible, while the footprints of the Creature still dash about the jungles, just as its voice still rumbles – no, shrieks – within my heart, reminding me of its lesson.The Continent hid its secrets from me just as it hides from those missionaries in their easy view of themselves, just as the Human heart hides itself in leaves of fig and fern. Yet, let it surprise us not that what emerged from those dark jungles haunts me still today, lingering on the borders of my memory, infecting the seat of my unconscious to the degree that my subconscious rattles and revolts at its touch. Or perhaps it merely showed me who it was that dwelt within the halls of this lonely Cosmos of mine? I care not, for such is living, such is Man; such is the Continent, such is the Creature. Now what more words have I? Have I the words to tell you of our final meal of flesh and greens on the plane ride? Or the casual reading of National Geographic with smug satisfaction? Or the laughter at King Kong playing on the screens overhead? Or perhaps the lonely drone of the engine, raising in tone as we bumped to a dusty landing in Kigali? Or the final speech Barton gave to us all as we walked into the Jungle at last? I have no more words, nothing else to say, but read on and you will hear of Yourself and All. Out of the Dark Continent It came, and still It shall remain.