THE LIBRARY
By Avi Naftel
I walked out from the bar and wandered through the drizzle of water falling silently from the sky. The damp fog of an early September morning offered the privacy of being an island moving among what few other people dared to venture out at this time of the night/morning, the sky an eerie change of mixed hues.
My path along the sidewalk of this large city appeared as if by magic with each step. People, other islands, passed me without notice, the fear of the streets making an aura around them. As suddenly as they appeared they faded into the wetness like wraiths seeking their long forgotten and rotted bodies.
Lost in my contemplations I almost passed by the alley without thinking twice about the soft glow of warm lights which beckoned from the storefront. Storefront? What?s a storefront doing in the alley? I'd never noticed this building before, and I pass by this alley almost every day. Obviously, I reasoned, this must be the twilight zone: or whatever passes for it in this area.
Without a second thought I twisted the doorknob and entered. Within there was a room. Just one room. But something was definitely different about this room. At first I thought it was a cute optical illusion. Then I realized that what I was staring at did not fade or shimmer. The room actually did reach out to a length proportioned larger than the alleyway the building now occupied. A long time reader of fantasy and science fiction, I had no problem dealing with the thought of parallel universes and other relative theories, so after my initial orientation at the seemingly impossible length of the room I simply accepted what was obviously the purpose of all this.
Surrounding the room were rows after rows of shelves filled with all manner of pamphlets, books, zines, tapes, signs and posters. With a rather loud intake of surprised gleeful breath, I walked towards the nearest shelves.
"Good day. May I help you?" Oops! I turned suddenly to find a most perfect example of what an elderly librarian male should look like. He smiled and said, "Are you perhaps a bit dazed from the trip?" "Uh, no," I sputtered. "I hadn?t realized I had taken any trip, although I'm sure there's a good explanation and all - that is -  for your being here."
And then he beamed this incredible smile which made me feel just right and proceeded to walk towards what I now saw was a huge fireplace, one of those free standing deals towards the center of the general visible area. On one side of the fireplace stood a small counter with plates of pastries and cookies covered by glass shields. Behind the counter was a small kitchen center and a large espresso coffee machine.
"Would you like some refreshments?" he asked in his pleasant manner. "We have delightfully mixed coffees and teas collected from all over. Our pastries and cookies are my own personal specialty and I assure you are fully capable of adding the amount of fat equal to the enjoyment."
I asked for and received a boiling hot cup of black English breakfast tea and helped myself to an apple turnover which practically melted the instant it entered my mouth.
We sat at a nearby table which had an inlaid chess board. The chairs were comfortable wingbacks built in the Chippendale style. As I munched on the pastry and sipped the hot tea, my host produced a handsome set of chess pieces and together we set them up. When the pieces had been set up and I (having chosen the white) moved the king's pawn up two spaces, the elderly gentleman began talking at length.
"Welcome to Anarcasia. You are now visiting the dimension of Anarchy as you have dreamed it. You were able to come to us only because you have reached a level in your understanding and desire for Anarchy which enabled you to become an Anarchist. You may choose to remain here, or you may return to your previous place on Earth. The choices are entirely yours and yours alone." He moved his king's pawn to meet mine at the centerboard.
I looked up from the game and looked at the man across the table. I decided it was time to evaluate what I had learned so far and see if my own questions could be answered by myself.
Is this all true? Did I do any drugs which I don't remember taking? Can other dimensions, or dream worlds, really exist?
I suppose the answers to all my questions were no problem at all. Obviously the experience was true to me, whether a dream or otherwise. No, I hadn't taken any drugs unless they were slipped into the few drinks I had had at the bar. The question of dimensions remained unanswered as I certainly believed in it theoretically but then had no real proof. No matter. I decided to accept my situation and justified my decision on the basis that indeed I thought myself an Anarchist purist and had been seeking just such a feeling of peacefulness and calm. Still, my tendency was to wonder at what point a person could, and would become the type of Anarchist which could gain access to this type of world, which so far seemed so nice.
"Where are we in relation to the Earth?" I asked. "And, if I leave, may I return at a later time?"
"Well," he said, "You might think of this place as a sort of parallel existence which has been here as long as anything else in the universe. I'm sure such a place also exists for other purists not welcome to Anarcasia.
By those I am referring to the various ultra-fascist types of people who don't seem to be able to grasp the real possibility of peaceful and beneficial co-existence between living beings of all sorts. As I say, it's a real possibility which may exist as surely as we do."
"But," I replied, "Can't we find such different and individual places right on Earth as I came from? After all, maybe I lived in an authoritarian state, but I was able to live a fairly well adjusted life of personal Anarchy. My codes were fairly simple: I allowed violence only in defense of my person or loved ones, attempting first to achieve peaceful means of resolution to such situations that might arise from time to time. Indeed, I avoided most of those by simply not allowing myself to be set up for them. Granted, it took a lot of pre-thinking of various scenarios. My main line of thinking was not to offend others. Not only by the ways I might offend myself, but by trying to anticipate what would offend others in an irrational manner. Yes, this was a sort of peer pressure under which I was arguably 'forced' to comply with in order to live the way I do, but nonetheless I was able to deal with my life without feeling overly pressured. It was a conscious exercise in practicing anarchy at a personal level. How could I achieve more in this world?"
"You can live here without the constant, albeit background, pressure. Here, we don't worry about offending irrational persons for they don't exist on this level of anarchy. It's the point of evolutionary anarchism which hopefully will one day evolve on your Earth. One of the main advantages is our library here. We have access to every theory and ideology ever written to date, plus those which won't be found on your Earth yet. This is Anarchy. You have arrived as an individual. Beyond the bounds of this building you will find people of many differing opinions and desires. But the one thing all have in common is the lack of desire to enforce their ideas on anyone else. We do as we choose as long as what we do does not impermissibly intrude on another individual?s life. It is the dream you see, the life you wish to lead; otherwise you would not have been able to walk through the door. In fact, you never would be able to see us if your own visions did not place you within the time/space 'vibrations' of this dimension. But alas, I'm not sure if you can just come and go as you please. Its never been tried." He finished by getting up to refill our cups of tea.
So what do I do now? Surely this is seemingly the world I want. If all the librarian says is true, why not just pick up some books and walk out the door to this Anarcasia?
But to my surprise the questions faded as did the building. I suddenly found myself sitting on a rickety old chair in the alley I knew so well. I stood up hurriedly and looked up and down the alley, searching for what I had come to believe was reality.
Then I knew what had happened. It came to me easily and I knew it to be the truth. I had indeed been in the world of Anarcasia. My experience had been real. But so too were my doubts. And I knew I had doubted that Anarchy could exist at all. I had fallen from that level of awareness and knowledge which had gained me entrance to that peaceful world. For the lesson was not whether or not anarchy could be a reality. I had learned that first I must know for a fact that anarchy is a possibility, and I must believe in that form of existence with all my mind and heart. What I had done in the library was to question the reality of anarchy by asking, "What do I do now?"
For I had stepped into the realm of faith, and in the words of Mark Twain, "faith is believing what you know ain't so." And by doing so I had forced myself back into the world of questionable anarchists.
So now when the fog is thick and the atmosphere wet, I walk past the alley in hopes that I can return to that world that I had forsaken for lack of knowledge. But I know the alley is not the place of importance. Anarcasia will appear anywhere at the time when individuals choose to open their eyes to the fallacy of authoritarian living. And when we of this Earth all come together in agreement to cease wars and forced hurt; when we find ourselves more occupied with making tea and pastries than with pointing dangerous and frightening weapons at each other; then I know, now without a doubt, that Anarcasia will reappear. And with that reappearance will come the knowledge and learning of that magnificent library open to all those who wish to learn rather than fight. Who wish to live rather than die.
And with that last thought I found myself once again at the door of the library. This time, I thought as the door opened to my hand, I have no doubts.
[This short story originally appeared in the February 1987 issue of THE THOUGHT, and was reprinted in the November/December 1998 issue.]
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