Mavericks of the Mind and Voices from the Edge contain thought-provoking interviews by David Jay Brown with over forty of the leading thinkers of our time on the subject of consciousness.

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Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse


In his latest interview collection, David Jay Brown has once again gathered some of the most interesting minds of today to consider the future of the human race, the mystery of consciousness, the evolution of technology, psychic phenomena, and more. The book includes conversations with celebrated visionaries and inspirational figures such as Ram Dass, Noam Chomsky, Deepak Chopra, and George Carlin. Part scientific exploration, part philosophical speculation, and part intellectual rollercoaster, the free-form discussions are original and captivating, and offer surprising revelations. Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalpyse is a new look into the minds of some of our groundbreaking leaders and is the perfect gift for science fiction and philosophy fans alike.



Singing Songs of Ecstasy

"...when artists are working directly from their emerging consciousness, their art is their most honest mirror."

with Carolyn Mary Kleefeld

On September 14, 1989, in her candlelit living room at around midnight, we interviewed poet and painter Carolyn Mary Kleefeld at her home in Big Sur, perched on the crest of a mountain cliff high above the sea. Carolyn was born in Catford, England, and raised in Santa Monica, California. Fueled by a life-long fascination with psychological transformation and a passion for creative expression, she is the author of three internationally acclaimed, award-winning poetry books that address these archetypal themes: Climates of the Mind, Satan Sleeps With the Holy: Word Paintings, and Lovers in Evolution. Her influential books received the rare honor of being translated into Braille-so as to give vision to the blind-by the Library of Congress, and are used worldwide at many universities and human potential centers. Carolyn is currently completing her sixth book-The Sixth Dimension: Architecture for Ecstasy.

During the Summer of 1990 the Gallerie Illuminati in Santa Monica featured a daztling series of Carolyn 's visionary paintings in an exhibit entitled "Songs of Ecstasy," and an art book of the same title was simultaneously published. Since then her work has been featured in galleries all over the world. A selection of her paintings is also available as a line of fine art cards, from Atoms Mirror Atoms of Carmel. Her painting "Neuro-Erotic Blast-Off" appears on the cover of my first book, Brainchild, and her piece "Fluorescent Sunset of the Future " is included in a textbook on visual art called Unique Journeys, by Professor James Schinneller of the University of Wisconsin. Carolyn spoke to us about the relationship between art and consciousness, expanded awareness and creative expression, and personal and universal transformation, and muses with us about the living secrets of nature. She looks as though she danced right out of one of her own paintings. Her eyes and smile have a luminous mystery about them that is present also in much of her work. She has a graceful and elegant manner about her, and one is easily enchanted by her poetic style of expression.


DJB: What was it that originally inspired your interest in creative expression?

CAROLYN: It is the discovery of my relationship with the universe, the unknown, that propels my translation. The spheres explored radiate a spectrum of seed-images. The wilderness of the unconscious is lush with the gems of infinity. The ancient codes lie in the seams between worlds. They only await the radiance of our conscious light to be illumined, recognized.

For example, at seven years old, I wrote and illustrated my first book entitled, The Nanose. Many years later I found out that my experience then, which was triggered by dust particles dancing in a sunbeam flooding my bedroom window, actually had its inherent meaning in my poetic translation of it, rather than in the external event itself.

Through my impression of the dancing dust particles I had my first recorded interaction with atomic life. My art was the bridge, translating localized conception (dust particles) into atomic theory. I thus experienced intimate dialogue with the vaster universe.

Today my reading of science tells me that the Nanose in my childhood book were monads, or cellular/atomic entities that underlie our contemporary concepts of biology and physics. Even the title Nanose essentially is the Greek word "nano," meaning very small, as in the contemporary innovation called "nanotechnology."

So art acts as a prescient translation from the unconscious mind, revealing the codes--the consciousness of the underlying forces of nature.

DJB: So, it was basically a need to express powerful experiences?

CAROLYN: Well, it was my interaction with inner experience, rather than the exterior event itself, that propelled the creative expression.

DJB: What do you think triggered these experiences?

CAROLYN: It is in the dynamics of discovery that innovation occurs. I also am saying that I "respond" from the inside out. Rather than having the exterior world give me its reality, I interpret the reality from within myself.

The experiences are woven and sculpted by my particular nervous system. Those certain experiences that need to be lived as part of one's evolvement are the ones to leave the deepest impressions. These impressions imprint their design within me and are the songs that emerge in my tides of creative expression.

Also, it is out of the foundation of my own philosophical architecture that I germinate my art, with subsequent reflection, consciousness. Out of this constant processing within me, which is my life's work, my visible art reveals the seeds, buds, blossoms, fruits, the pollen of my interplay with the unknown. Even the mistakes that are birthed instigate further invention. The propulsion of innovation wings me beyond localized sight.

This last idea intimates the possibilities of developing "laser sight" in the future. This means to inhabit a transparency of being that is so open a system as to let radiance f-lood it. The vision of our futures could possibly allow us to see through the density that now blocks our vision.

From the architecture of a new way of perceiving, we will peer from the infinite spheres and see into the gossamer connections of our electric loom of being. Our cosmic eyes will see immediately into the true laws that be. Instantaneous perception will bloom in this smoldering symbiosis. Our cellular beings will manifest our consciousness in new sight and technologies of life.

RMN: To what extent is your work autobiographical? How do you use it as a tool by which to access, understand, and integrate your inner processes?

CAROLYN: Being an artist, I am the translator of my experience and thus am the author of my life. Since each of us experiences something in our own unique way, everything we create is essentially autobiographical. I am at once the tool, and the work. The universe is strumming the strings of my nervous system and I record the songs. After the songs are born, either in my paintings, drawings, prose, or poetry, I study and endlessly see different perspectives depending on my own state of being, or cycle of evolvement.

Last Fall, I gave a reading in Monterey at the Cafe Portofino titled "Art as Evolution's Mirror"--my theme being that when artists are working directly from their emerging consciousness, their art is their most honest mirror. I mean, when the work comes from the inner development of the artist, rather than from imitation. Most artists are like engineers reproducing the familiar. This type of art, from the outside in, is not the same art as art that is being created as part of an emerging consciousness. If artists are not involved in the inner consciousness of their work, they can't learn by it.

But each of us has a unique path, and none are to be judged. It's just that for me the conscious reflection is part of the fun of discovery, so I'm blessed with this tool which shines light on my work. Symbolic poetry, which is my bridge of translation, offers a kind of insight similar to the I Ching. It reflects back to the participant-viewer or reader. It is a kind of Rorschach, revealing from the truth of the unconscious one's inner shadow.

This way of living requires constant preparation, keeping oneself clear enough to create the space to ride the constant waves of invention. The process is one of digestion, assimilation and integration of the universal flux.

RMN: Do you think you benefited by having a formal art training, and how have you incorporated that?

CAROLYN: In both my painting and poetry, I learned what didn't inspire me. It served to tell me I was to sculpt my own path, sing my own unique song. "Find your own voice," as Anais Nin wrote to me while I was writing Climates of the Mind.

RMN: How easy do you find it to be objective about your own creations, and what do you think are the most important qualities that a good critic should have in order to evaluate something from a non-biased standpoint?

CAROLYN: There is no such thing as being objective. Every observer has a particular set of prejudices and preferences, so it isn't possible for myself or a critic to be non-biased. The most essential quality for a critic to have is to be aware of this.

DJB: When you're in need of inspiration, where do you turn?

CAROLYN: It depends on what cycle or season I'm in. It could range from quiet meditation in a beautiful environment, to dashing somewhere for social stimulation. It's all in my relationship to the internal dialogue that the inspiration comes. So, I will draw to me that which mirrors me. The outside inspiration comes from a projection, which later I may say "inspired me," or was the "stimulus." Actually it's the interplay of myself with that which mirrors me. The company distributing my art is called "Atoms Mirror Atoms," which reflects this idea. We are nature's forces translating, in human terms, our existence. Art is my bridge of translation. That is why art is the "international language," as it has the myriad tongues of its artists' voices.

DJB: Are there any particular authors or musicians that have inspired or influenced you?

CAROLYN: Yes, my first mentor was Dr. Carl Faber, then came the writings of Anais Nin. Other influences include: Herman Hesse, Rainer Marie Rilke, William Blake, Vincent Van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Gustav Klimt, D. H. Lawrence, Baudelaire, Dylan Thomas, Benjamin de Casseres, Aldous Huxley, and Mozart. Then there is the current powerful influence of my friends and contemporaries.

DJB: How do you experience and describe the stages of the creative process?

CAROLYN: To begin with, creative expression requires an overflow of energy. It requires me to be a canvas or open page. I offer myself as the film for being photographed by the sublime. It is always out of a random spontaneity. That is why I have paints in different areas outside as well as in my living room. I carry a pen and paper on my hikes. I draw some of my best work while in a car. As to the length of time of the stages, it varies from very quickly to a few months, or longer. Sometimes there is a fermentation or incubation; other times, the flame seems to be ignited in the darkest night.

DJB: How do you see consciousness evolving in the next century?

CAROLYN: Progress is painfully slow. We are still existing on a biological survival level. Nature will use us as its tools to continue its galactic body. For us to survive, we will have to refine ourselves as one with this endless expanding universe. Notice that the word "universe" means united verses. When in harmony, life is a symphony of united verses; when discordant, there is cacophony.

RMN: How do you compare the creative process involved in writing poetry with that of painting?

CAROLYN: My painting and drawing, being visual, are pre-lingual. Poetry and prose, being verbal, are more restricted in their word-clothes. I enjoy both translations, the freedom of the non-verbal in painting, and the architecture of words. They are in constant dialogue, a harmonious chord ascending my song.

DJB: In your three books, there seems to be an evolution of consciousness that is being expressed: a progression from states of psychological difficulty and struggle to ecstatic mystic revelations. How would you describe this archetypal journey from darkness to light?

CAROLYN: I would say the darkness is there before the "witness of oneself' is developed. It's in the capacity to reflect, that one illuminates one's experience and thus can move into the light. The light is one's own star in orbit amongst the galactic systems in constant electrical interplay. The dialogue, the information, the secret messages come from being deeply in reception of these infinite channels. It is a lying back in the embracing arms of infinity, having all in expecting nothing. My books are the charting of this voyage of experiences, the currents in the wake of navigation. Presently I am editing and completing my first prose book titled The 6th Dimension: Architecture for a Ecstasy. It represents the recordings of my own particular vessel as it rides the waves of existence, a vessel united in verse with the universal.

RMN: Many of your paintings reveal mythic combinations of humans and animals. Does this arise from your own experience of inter-species communication?

CAROLYN: Yes, we have an aviary here with thirty-six lovebirds, parakeets, and cockatiels. We're living with owls, hawks, peregrine falcons, chipmunks, squirrels, mice and many other unique creatures. The creatures and I are in daily dialogue. I make a special whistle sound when I paint which I also use to communicate with the birds. They seem to tune in to the resonance.

RMN: Are they usually friendly?

CAROLYN: Yes, unless put on the defensive, which we avoid. In Nature one can see into the ancient wisdom, the order that governs our greater existence, our interactions with one another.

DJB: So you feel that you can talk to Nature sometimes, or that Nature talks to you?

CAROLYN: Yes, I do commune with Nature. It may be necessary for others to also experience a less literal, more poetic language for this to happen. Incidentally, we've discovered that lovebirds aren't necessarily monogamous and that falcons can carry grudges.

DJB: Free-love birds?

CAROLYN: Well, their behavior exposes our misconceptions about their monogamy. The creatures' instincts are the same as ours, except that we are far more complex and lethal. Even though our birds have all their needs met in the aviary, they are still programmed in a survival code, and will fight if territory or sex is involved.

DJB: How has your location influenced your artwork?

CAROLYN: We are living 500 feet above the sea, with a 360-degree view. This serves to keep a lid off our heads. The beauty is a never-ending, changing spectacle. We receive the winds from every direction, which can be quite a challenge to live with. The wildly divergent energies, forces of the "dragon's crown" where we live, are all translated into my art through the instrument of myself in concert with it all.

DJB: How has being in Big Sur in particular influenced your work?

CAROLYN: It's a unique place to be. It has accelerated my internal journey, and simultaneously my art, to be in a place where I can create the space and time to let all that's possible happen. It's an enigmatic and challenging environment. It's been essential for me to be in the constant inspiration of nature, where I can be in a position to live my own natural rhythms, and define my own nature. Previously, I didn't have the time to do so. Here, I'm able to create a world where I can live in my imagination as much of the time as possible.

This wilderness is a place that allows me to be in a receptive and vulnerable state of being. Because I'm not dealing with the daily traffic of a city, I'm not having to use the defense mechanisms that dull my sensibilities. My sensitivities and sensibilities can have the freedom to play, experiment, and just be. Big Sur is a mirror for a beautiful state of mind, hence the real importance of keeping it unpolluted can't be stressed too much, since we have so few places left that can mirror the human soul. Of course, one's internal environment always creates one's perception of the external environment, wherever one is, and can eventually reshape the external.

DJB: So you're saying that there's a reflection or a synchronistic parallel between your own inner experience and the environment here?

CAROLYN: Yes, I'm attempting to live in a conscious process with my experience, weaving this integration into my artwork. Of course I'm also dealing with many business issues, social issues and other demands while I live here. So, I'm not able to be totally in meditation. But in dealing with the world, I can see how other people are relating to the universe. There are enormously divergent climates, conflicting psychological warfares, and assumed prejudices that take different cruel forms of human expression. This does not make for a healthier world, and drags our evolutionary force downward like gravity, instead of evolving us into an ideal future.

DJB: What's dragging the evolutionary force downward?

CAROLYN: I see us as the clothed forces of nature in our vast geometric diversity. Our greatest limitation is our closed minds, our limited perceptions. This causes us to live from survival fears, and prevents us from realizing that we have everything that we need, here on this glorious planet. If all people were to cultivate themselves, the way they think, we could grow out of this survival mentality. But human beings have been raped of their self-rights, and have allowed this to happen. For some reason they've given up their original birth-rights.

DJB: Why do you think they've done this?

CAROLYN: There's a temptation to hand over self-responsibility, first to familial hierarchies, then to the influences of educational and governmental "authorities." On the other hand, we are tools in the hands of nature, and the world uses us according to our strengths and susceptibilities. The jungle needs its mechanics to go on, just as the inter-galactic intelligence needs its imagination.

DJB: So what do you think we can do to help wake people up? Or maybe you're saying we shouldn't, because if we're all part of a larger super-organism, and some people play the role of liver or stomach cells, maybe they don't need to wake up-but then again you said before that they're hindering or pulling back on the evolutionary process. So what do you think people can do?

CAROLYN: Ideally, all people would develop a self-referencing point to comprehend themselves and their universe well enough to guide their own vessel with awareness. Otherwise all you have is sleeping, dazed nuts and bolts, endless repetitions of people in reproduction. A certain amount of this is obviously an ingredient of evolution, but at this point in history we can see that a total regeneration of inner, thus outer values is necessary for all of our survival. The exploitation, the murderous lies of our leaders, must be recognized, and the individual must reclaim their rights to harmony. Everything that's going on outside is also within us. It's up to us to navigate our forces, unify to a greater harmony. The collective is only as great as its every individual.

DJB: The idea being that the more people that do it, the easier it is for other people to do it. It creates a stronger field, and then there's more of a resonance?

CAROLYN: Yes, for instance, once an athletic record is broken, then it's psychologically easier for others to do the same. The resonance is in the expanded consciousness.

DJB: And you think part of the problem is that the bureaucratic systems discourage people from living their highest integrity?

CAROLYN: The word integrity has been lost to a dysfunctional fragmentation. The comprehensive whole has become disconnected, schizoid. There is no prominent ethical reality in our society to serve as a model for a healthy way of being. I consider it truly pathetic that the leaders chosen by the people are the most aggressive, vicious and deceitful of the population. This shows we are on a bare survival, fear level and choose the most murderous dogs to defend us. The people have to think differently and demand a voice that gives them their basic rights to a healthy existence. They must not agree to having their hard-earned money used for defense instead of progress.

As Einstein said, the problem is the way we think. I think everyone has been constricted by a non-culture that is dollar-crazed, where the churches have been replaced by the banks. People are enslaved by their fears, by the stress that they're under financially. You know, I'd like to see everybody in America all stand up together demanding to have a voice, right on their tax form; as to how their money is spent. The most humiliating thing the government does is to levy a tax so hard on the people that they have to work everyday under stress, and then their money is used to build systems that kill them.

So, here you have an example of what I was speaking of earlier. If you take the individuals' rights away, you make them completely dependent on you. Once people submit to having their birthright, their individual rights, taken away, they've sacrificed themselves to a system that swallows their integrity. That's the end of them, because they've lost their capacity to grow as individuals beyond that social survival level of existence, and that's not where anyone's ever going to find fulfillment. Out of the relentless need for exterior power and exploitation can only come the damaging imbalance of needs and greeds.

DJB: Do you foresee a major change coming along soon?

CAROLYN: Well, I think that generally everything happens very gradually, just like Nature. But Nature also can do some very extreme things that are the opposite of gradual. An asteroid or comet could crash into Earth, for example, and there would be instant evolution, in a direction that we may not recognize!

DJB: Without warning there are earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and genetic mutations. Things happen all of a sudden sometimes.

CAROLYN: I think that the earth is, as we are, a transforming entity. We are planets unto ourselves, the same as the earth.

DJB: Planets are really people?

CAROLYN: Planets are really people. They have transformations, they go through illnesses, and everything just like we do, on every level. Right now this planet is in a health crisis, and it will do whatever it has to in order to move to the next stage. So I think that there will an increase in natural and peculiar physical disasters, including increased volcanism, or at any moment we could be hit by asteroids from outer space.

DJB: Wow. You really think that something like that could happen?

CAROLYN: Well, anything is possible with Nature. Its design in undesign goes beyond our localized conceptions.

DJB: In the way that we're like cells in a larger body, planets are also like cells in a larger body, and our planet is sending out SOS signals?

CAROLYN: Yes, every atom in every universe is in response from another alchemical stage of transformation. We are part of an expanding intergalactic system and what the interplay of ail this will mean is very complex and speculative. I see it as in our molecular biology, where different enzyme combinations have a uniquely specified part to play.

DJB: Have you had any experiences that you thought to be communications with beings from another planet or not of this world?

CAROLYN: Well, I feel as if I'm in touch with what I call the "ancestral resonance." This would be a poetic translation for receiving information from everything that's ever happened. Within one's every breath lives every beginning.

DJB: It sounds like what Philip K. Dick called Valis--the Vast Active Living Intelligence System, or what the Hindus called the Akashic Records, or Alyha Vijnyana, where all the information in the universe is stored.

CAROLYN: Yes, if you listen to the sounds of the tides of the oceanic pulse, you hear the music of all that's ever been. Everything that's ever been has a sound, and the sound is still reverberating from its origin. Of course the eternal symphony is forever expanding with each new cellular note of sound. I have a poem about this idea called "The Lost Language of Unheard Sound."

DJB: The way that each sound is connected to its whole ancestral past, and carries within it the whole history, and maybe even the future...

CAROLYN: Yes, it can be the exquisite music I heard in deep meditation that inspired my poem. It is the lost language of unheard sound because it's lost in the infinite until we open our ears and deepen our silence to hear and receive it.

DJB: Have you ever thought that you are translating music into visual forms?

CAROLYN: Yes, the fluid media I use allows the musical colors and rhythms to form a circulation of patterns and forms through me. The fusion of the varied colors and chemicals creates a form of its own, paralleling the synthesis of musical textures.

As the example of the dolphin's ultrasonic communication teaches us, you can remake the form if you have its sound. So, out of the currents and colors of the music I paint to comes the form through my translation. The sound I make is dolphin-like and tunes me in mantra-like to the unknown, carrying back images like a dolphin's sonar.

DJB: You've refrained from imposing a kind of internal structure onto the natural flow?

CAROLYN: It's more like I become the empty canvas, empty mind, and in becoming one with the atomic energies that be, these energies, this consciousness, uses my nervous system for its translation. Rather like an Aeolian harp being brought to sound by the winds.

DJB: It seems like a musical instrument, your body or nervous system?

CAROLYN: True, an instrument that lets itself be played by nature, but it isn't that I'm not guiding. I'm very much in charge of what I'm doing. But I'm also completely not in charge. It's like all the opposites are happening--because that's the only way you can get perfect balance, meaning the balancing of opposites. I wear ballet slippers when I paint. At an early age I was a prima ballerina, so I was always involved with balance.

As in our living, we must be the navigator of our energies, the balancers of the flow of atomic information. As a conductor I stand above my paintings and work as the skies and winds as a torch of current. I dance and leap about quite unconsciously, letting us form each other, the work and I, as one. Thus, in the inherent order of my particular integration, consciousness, the gossamer order, underlies the freedom of chaos.

DJB: Because you are unique, your works have their unusual originality

CAROLYN: Thank you. Originality has its origin in its freedom and the only way true liberation is possible, is through inherent order. So I am spinning and weaving my thoughts constantly into my art, into order. The bliss of inventing keeps me in tune.

DJB: Yes, being a musical instrument is a beautiful metaphor for the process of creative expression.

CAROLYN: Also, it is a unique circulation, a poetic metabolism. I've noticed the imagination has beautiful sounds when in tune; it hums. The metabolic intensity of creating is hypnotic, like an unfurling chant, chord in accord.

I once experienced my body as being a nanotechnological factory in which I heard the buzzing and repairing of my system. Atomic elves regenerating all my parts.

DJB: So your work expresses, through poetic metaphor, atomic life?

CAROLYN: Yes, the language of poetic symbolism is multi-faceted, offering a kaleidoscopic view of life that is ever moving in possible perception. It is connected to a deep comprehension of the question of reality, not limited in the linear, or one-reality concepts. You can see from this overview the theater of our existence, its pageantry of absurdity. There is the cosmic eye with all its clarity and humor. In my drawings, I have a character called "the Witness of the More." This is the self-referencing director who sifts out the superfluous in the editingroom of one's consciousness.

There are some of us who live in the imagination, in the crown of the

Universal consciousness. There are others essential to the industry, the mechanical. Unfortunately most people have become enslaved by the rusty mechanics of our times, the stale and massively re-broadcast thoughts, and operate as robotized ants.

DJB: Slaves?

CAROLYN: Yes, liberation requires people to wake up, see the illness of their planet, of themselves, their leaders, and rise to a higher more conscious integration. Through abrasion there is refinement. So the brave, the bold, the adventurers will put themselves out there, and invent these possibilities for higher existence. Like being a diamond or crystal through their strength of vision, their capacity to see through life, they illuminate the genes of life's potential, the ideals of themselves. Since this planet is in a crisis stage, it will call on its healthiest instruments to bring it to its next stage of evolution. Of course this is all happening in integration with an ever-expanding intergallactic system.

Remember, every atom of our consciousness is being involuntarily mirrored throughout space. That's why each individual is so important; if they are living from their highest potential, it is automatically transmitted, radiated. Today we must replace the "arms race" with a "race to hold hands." Atomically speaking, we are anyway, even though our defenses block the natural harmony of really holding hands.

DJB: What do you foresee happening to the evolution of human consciousness in the future? Where is the human race going in terms of how it's evolving in say ten years or fifty years?

CAROLYN: I saw a small waterfall of sand sifting down from a huge sand dune at the beach the other day. I thought about the fact that it took all of time for that one movement to happen just the way it did.

If we can move out of our "survival mode" and put our resources, imagination and money into medical science and technology, we could hold immortal life sooner than we might think. Nature already does it, and through nanotechnology we can.

DJB: What effect do you think immortal physical bodies would have on the evolution of consciousness?

CAROLYN: We could evolve beyond our constant preparation for death. This could liberate people from many of the exploitative emotions. In the prose book I'm writing, that's what I write about--the dimension that doesn't have to have death for life to exist.

DJB: So your latest book is about going beyond physical limitations?

CAROLYN: Yes, it's architecture for a new philosophy, a new way of thinking: a spiritual technology which, hopefully, will manifest in our scientific advancements.

DJB: Spirituality. What does the word spiritual mean to you?

CAROLYN: It means to go beyond the limited, physical conception of oneself, one's personality, to unify with the greater order. This requires shedding the many superficial needs, desires and myriad other ego-enslavements. It also means having a reverence for life, a passion that takes you beyond the limits of self-imposed "will-power" into a space that is effortless and yet animated by the greater forces that be, that are within each of us.

It takes giving oneself the time and space to recreate one's life and self. It requires much re-structuring to eventually regain the essential simplicity. When you are living in your unconditioned being, in the rhythms of your Tao, life becomes a surfing of reality, of the waves and cycles of the infinite seasons. It is action through non-action. The circles of our cycles bring us back to a beginning that makes everything possible, where again imagination may ride the crest of our highest potential.