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Questions, Answers and Essays about
** Nowever Then **
By Paterson De Sanctis and Peter Lucia
Left: Paterson De Sanctis, former president of Nowever Then, blows fire from his ears, a clever trick with which he delights the little ones every Fourth of July. Right: Peter Lucia surrounded by his favorite seashell border.
Questions and Answers
Conducted by Peter Lucia
Is tedium vitae getting
the best of your better faculties? Do you find yourself asking why number
holds flux above the sway and if there's balm in Gilead? If overwork
has given you the hypos - if you really wish to live - then I recommend
a visit to Nowever Then!
Question: But what is Nowever Then? Isn't it just a website?
Answer: Hardly. At this point, of course, all you know is the website. Fact is, the Nowever Then of which I speak is a town - as real a town as ever there was. A few people from Asbury Park and many other places have managed to find their way there.
Question: So where is Nowever Then?
Answer: It is on the New Jersey Shore between Allenhurst and Deal, two small towns just north of Asbury Park.
Question: But I drove through these towns and didn't see any place called Nowever Then. It's not on my map. What gives?
Answer: Read on, dear pilgrim, and you will know the answer. The following account of the founding of Nowever Then is from a short piece written by Paterson De Sanctis, the previous president of the Nowever Then Association. Rest assured that I shall answer more questions after Mr. De Sanctis' brief opening.
"The Founding of Nowever Then"
By Paterson De Sanctis
Perhaps it has happened to you. One morning you awake feeling unusually fresh, with the sense that an endless stretch of time lay before you. Everything looks the same - your bed, your walls, your curtains - but all is somehow changed. It seems as if, during sleep, you drifted to a different age. You're sure that the elements of your life have stayed the same - your spouse, your children, your home, your livelihood. Yet some marvelous adjustment has occurred.
You get out of bed. On your way to the bathroom you wonder if the distribution of morning light has shifted in some way. You look around. You blink at things. Maybe that's it - the light. You squeeze your toothpaste onto your nightshirt.
No, it's not just the light; it's something else. It's a dream you had. Yes, a dream. It has tinted your emotions. But what was it all about?
You may never know. The day progresses and your usual fare with its intricate banalities crowds you in. Your fresh awakening fades like the morning star.
On September 5, 1869, a similar but more extensive freshness greeted my grandfather, New York philosopher-entrepreneur Cecil DeSanctis, as he woke in his tent. Eyes open to the dawn's light, DeSanctis lay still and analyzed the feeling. It was not just the tingling sense of being away from home, there in the woods of a newly founded village. Rather (he wrote in his notebook) "a glowing promise weighted the dawn breeze. Scented with ocean pine, some great thing beckoned, and it fairly stunned me to the tip of my beard." His derby hat still on from the night before, he watched himself leave his tent, wrap an Indian blanket around himself and wander barefoot to the ocean, a couple of hundred yards from camp.
Frank Maple, De Sanctis' life-long associate and one of his five camping companions, stuck his head out his own tent. He squinted at his friend, who drifted from the woods in the stiff manner of a man feigning somnambulism. Maple rubbed his eyes and peered again. He sprang up and followed.
Not more than a dozen paces from his tent, he tripped over the copy of Marco Polo's Travels that had dropped from the other man's blanket. He landed on all fours in the sand. Suddenly, "a haunted quietude" came over him. Still on the ground, he looked up. "What was it?" (he would write). "Was it Music? Was it a far-off harmony? No, it was a scent. But wait, it was not a scent at all. It was..."
He would never finish his sentence. Seconds later, Maple saw himself zigzagging wide-eyed and drop-jawed toward the Atlantic, the rear flap of his underdrawers "quite open to the elements."
De Sanctis, founder of Nowever Then,
Now the two middle-aged philosophers stood on the beach, facing north, the yoke-orange sun melting up from the ocean's encompassing roar. After several minutes, De Sanctis was the first to speak. "I have seen it, Frank." "Yes, " Maple replied, "They're out there, I know." Cecil: "It came to me in a dream. A nowever dream." Frank: "Yes, one of those. It was one of those. I know."
The fact that Cecil De Sanctis used the singular pronoun it and Frank Maple the plural them has invited speculation. The notebooks of DeSanctis, preserved in the library named after him, does make it clear that the men were gazing at a distant (semi-circular) promontory, a formation that does not appear on any map. The rise seemed to be about a mile and half north from the spot in which they stood on the beach at new-found Ocean Grove. (Their presence in the Grove came a short while after the founder of Asbury Park, James A. Bradley, visited the area.) The traditional interpretation of their visionary experience is that De Sanctis dreamed of the town that he would establish on the promontory and that Maple dreamed of the exquisite mansions that would one day populate that area.
In a flash, presumably, the idea of "Nowever Then" was fixed. (The word Then was added years later in a essay De Sanctis wrote on the metaphysical character of memory.) The fact that the singular land formation appeared on no map - in what was a fully charted area of the northeastern U.S. - did not startle the men in the least. Neither are their present-day ancestors disturbed by the fact that the area has never been represented on any chart or in any treatise. On the contrary, the whole idea tickles them pink!
All right, time for a few more questions.
Question: So what is Paterson De Sanctis saying about the nature of Nowever then? Is it some kind of visionary thing?
Answer: Yes and no. There is no word to describe a thing that exists both in and out of time and space.
Question: What does "in and out of time and space" mean?
Answer: It is "outside" in that you cannot go there as you would any ordinary place on earth. You can't simply walk there, drive there, swim there or parachute into it. The key word is "simply," however. Under the right conditions you can indeed walk, drive, swim there, and so forth. Nowever Then is "inside" to the extent that you can get there if all the right elements are in place.
Question: So what are these elements or conditions?
Answer: Ah, let's read another essay of Patterson De Sanctis. He describes how one person, our current president, George Franklin, made it to Nowever Then. (Keep reading and you eventually will see several pictures of the town.) Later, I would be honored if you asked more questions. Please click on "NEXT PAGE," below.