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Prism and Prisons – Bill Ectric’s Tamper

By Mikael Covey.

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Tamper, Bill Ectric, Surtsey Press 2009

It is the epochs in between wars, we call peacetime, in which we’re able to live for a change instead of dying in order to change into something different. These epoch moments give rise to civilization from the original village, the swarming city, and the eventual suburbia. Only in peacetime amidst all the new inventions of war, the prosperity and rebuilding – industrially, materially, organically, spiritually – between those who survived and those who want to nest and make families again. And after the humblest of beginnings, through joyous groundswell and on up through grandiose idealism, there will be excess, fault, and inevitable stasis, causing the observant to ask – what is wrong with suburbia, or swarming cities, or even the original village?

And in these moments of well-fed well-heeled normalism there will suddenly appear the abnormal, the paranormal, the odd and strange -UFO sightings, vampires, ghosts, Bigfoot, perhaps even God. When, absent from fighting for our lives, we’re allowed to question – what is wrong, or what is, or why is it so. Such is the origin of philosophical wondering, the beginning of understanding, the evolution of intellect and the self-reflective consciousness, supposedly distinguishing us from other animals. And all of this starting from that one little acorn of – what’s wrong with this picture?

For Bill Ectric, it is the glowing lights in the background; a photograph taken with flash bulb in the pitch black basement of a long-abandoned church. Are these lights simply stirred-up dust particles refracting the camera’s flash…or the souls of the departed, who were sequestered here in this basement during the flu epidemic of a half-century earlier. To find an answer to this, and maybe all the mysteries of life, Ectric and friends travel half-way around the world, speak with Leprechauns, and end up in the sealed catacombs on the island of Malta.

What will they find there, if anything? What will they learn? Maybe everything. But before that, there’s another key, another treasure chest to unlock. Ectric gives us one of the greatest of gifts – he makes us want to read again; to enjoy words on a page, stories about people in common and uncommon circumstance. It’s a pleasure, a wonderment, an amazing gift. Thanks, Bill, you do that as well as any writer I’ve ever come across.

Now back to the other discovery, that of the tale itself. Not so much what we’re going to find, but where to start looking – the treasure map, the hidden message in the ancient scroll. Ectric says (as do other wise men) that if you really want to learn the secrets of the universe, don’t go chasing after the lost souls. But instead, begin this grand quest for the holy grail by learning, seeking, searching the mysteries of your own lost soul.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mikael Covey lives in Dakota with his little girl. He writes books and other stuff and edits Lit Up Magazine.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, February 11th, 2010.