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Guinea Pig Zero

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Wednesday 1 February 2012: Demons, Away!

I lead a charmed existence. Sometimes when I think about situations I've been in, it's really a wonder that I'm alive today. There is no explaining why this is so, but even without religious beliefs, I feel good about saving certain little things. Only one of these objects was ever stated as a protective charm when I first owned it: the little blue coyote. It was rumored to keep demons away, and since demons are not bothering me right now, I might as well keep the creature with me.

None of these charms are particularly old --the gecko was given to me only a few months ago --but they all represent the living. The books, however, bring on the voices of the dead. The oldest of them, Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre, was published in 1914 in homage to the beloved and recently deceased anarchist star. Alexander Berkman edited the book and made it happen because Voltairine had corresponded with him during his 14 years in prison, and armed with her moral support, he was able to resist the urge to end his own life. That's what I call chasing the demons away.

Eight of the books are by Paul Avrich. He was my mentor and he treated me "like a comrade," as he put it. Paul died in 2006. He was by far the world's leading historian of Anarchism. one of the books, Gates of Freedom: Voltairine de Cleyre & The Revolution Of The Mind, is the best of the recent books on Voltai. As I was reading it I was amazed to find that someone out there knew her so well that they had internalized more information than almost anyone else had ever learned. But Eugenia DeLamotte was no longer out there. Cancer had taken her from among the living shortly before her book was released.

This coming June 20th will mark 100 years since Voltairine died. If not for people like her, the living would have many more demons to contend with.

I must thank Ceridwen, Chaiselongue, and Kendall for charming this blip out of its snake basket by blasting away on their pungis.

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