The Schoolhouse 

Chapter 2

All of the teachers were chosen because of their unique abilities and high level of appreciation for the principle. But this in no way meant they were all the same. Each of the twelve have their own personality. For instance Ed Pendergast the math teacher had a very dry sense of humor. He was tall thin and wore sweaters year round. Even in the dead of summer he would loosely tie the sleeves around his collar and allow it to hang on his back like a cape. Rebecca Wines was a youthful teacher fresh out of college and bubbling with enthusiasm. The science teacher Linda Zimmerman acquired to be a scientist out of college. She was a promising student and all of her professors expected she would go on to do great things. To everyone’s surprise she decided to take a semester off to find herself. When she returned Linda changed her major and decided to become a teacher. The social studies teacher Karl Kramer was always interested in people. He preferred frequenting the bars over the libraries. Though he would moderately drink he wasn’t overly fond of alcohol. What drew him to the bars is the people. He enjoyed observing and conversing with people in this environment. He found them to be more relaxed. Their social barriers opened. The English teacher Charles Henderson never used foul language. It wasn’t only when around students he watched his speech but even in the teacher’s lounge. Even in the privacy of his own home. For example once while repairing a door in his house that didn’t close properly he painfully injured his hand with a large splinter. For a full fifteen minutes any one passing by could hear colorful language being shouted from the house. Words perhaps they didn’t even know existed but not a single expletive. With so many words in the English language to choose from Charles didn’t see the need to swear. Susan Ramoux had married a Frenchman and moved to France out of college. After years of living abroad and soaking up culture her husband’s job brought them back to the states. She wanted to share all of her rich experiences with others so she became a French teacher. The philosophy teacher Kevin Young always had a love of knowledge. It only seemed natural to him that he should become a teacher. Not because he felt overly compelled to contribute something to society but rather because it was a profession that would allow him to indulge in his pleasure while at the same time making a living. Steve Hernandez had a Spanish background though he lived in the states all his life. He learned Spanish from his grandparents who were  Argentinian. Steve looked and spoke like a white American. His ancestors lived in Germany before they migrated to Argentina after World War II. When Steve spoke Spanish his accent was perfect. Steve Hernandez became the Spanish teacher. For Patrick Johnson the ethics teacher there were no gray areas. He saw things in black and white. When asked his opinion on something he never beat around the bush. What drew him to the principle was its simplicity. It fit in with the way he already viewed the world. Catherine Peters became the chemistry teacher though she wasn’t particularly passionate about chemistry. The art teacher Barbara Childs always pushed for freedom of expression. Her life goal was to find a new form of expression that would have a favorable impact on the world. The home economics teacher Jessica Lewallen was a practical person. On the surface she appeared to be as delicate as a vase. But in actuality she was as tough as nails. William Parkson the principal was a very humble man. He liked for the teachers to call him Bill instead of Mr. Parkson. He would even hide the name plate on his desk because he felt it intimidated visitors. He had an open door policy partly because he wanted the faculty to see him as a friend rather than as a boss. The other reason was because there was a conspicuous name plate with his title chiseled in brass displayed on his door. When the door was open the brass plate was hidden. He tried to keep the door open whenever possible.

The school system was set up in such a way that each teacher would teach only one subject to the children from kindergarten to graduation day. The teachers were to adjust the difficulty level of the class as the children progressed into the higher grades. The school didn’t accept transfer students. Which meant all the eventual graduates would have had the same teachers for 13 years straight. This being the first year all the teachers prepared only the kindergarten lesson plans. To the novice it may appear that the teachers have an easy year ahead of them with only one class per day and that with kindergarten children. On the contrary this was to be the most difficult year because the teachers needed to lay the groundwork for the years ahead. They couldn’t just go through the motions of teaching then pass the child over to the next grade where he or she would be someone else’s problem. Each teacher knew that they would be held responsible for the intelligence level of the eventual graduate. The graduate was their work from the foundation up. This put a great deal of pressure on the teachers to be diligent in each classroom because a mistake by one teacher could easily infect other classrooms. Some of the teachers worried that they would not be up to the challenges imposed upon them. However they were reassured that as long as they stick closely to the core principle they would have no problem. Each teacher had their own leather bound copy of the principle. They were to use it as a guide in making their lesson plans in the coming years. On the first day of school everyone was anxious. However as soon as the children shuffled on to the school grounds and began playing the teacher’s were put at ease. Some of the children were so small it was hard to believe they were old enough to begin school. But they had in fact all been examined through the school’s orientation program. The schoolmaster had personally introduced himself to each child. Using the principle he clearly explained what was required of them.  For example that they were not allowed to touch the fire alarm. It was not their place. Only an adult could pull the red emergency lever sounding the alarm if he or she deemed it necessary.The children understood. They were ready. As the clock struck 8:00 am the schoolhouse bell began to ring. The children were organized into two single file lines along side the schoolhouse by alphabetical order according to their last names. The next bell meant the children were to enter the building. The first day went perfectly. The teacher’s followed their lesson plans which were in perfect agreement with the principle. As a general rule children normally have a short attention span but for some reason the children hung on every word and soaked in the information like sponges. This was a pleasant surprise to all of the teachers but no one was as affected by this detail as much as Mr. Young. As the children’s tiny eyes focused on his every movement and clung to his every word Kevin Young began to feel something he had never experienced before. He had always taken in knowledge for his own pleasure. For the first time in his life he found pleasure in seeing others take in knowledge. He had witnessed others taking in knowledge before but it had no effect on him. “Perhaps it’s because they are children,” he pondered. “They are so impressionable. They’re like a blank slate. Whatever I tell them becomes their reality.”  After the children had filed out of his classroom, Mr. Young collapsed into his chair and grinned. He had never experienced such joy. After many minutes of basking in his new found joy his grin suddenly faded and his brow wrinkled. He quickly shook his head dismissing the thought that had invaded his mind. However for the rest of the day the idea kept returning and when it did he would slightly lift one of his eyebrows. Finally near the end of the day he lifted one of his eyebrows than frantically shuffled through his desk until he found his leather bound copy of the principle. He opened it and began reading. After a moment he closed the book and sat silently lost in thought. Instead of returning the book to its place in his desk he placed it into his briefcase. From that day forward Kevin Young took the book home with him every night, brought it back and placed it into his desk every morning.

The schoolhouse promoted a comfortable yet efficient routine for every student and faculty member. One day about halfway through the school year Mr. Pendergast, Ms. Wines, Ms. Zimmerman, and Mr. Kramer were relaxing in the teacher’s lounge when Mr. Young walked in. He was carrying a leather bound book. It was identical to the book containing the principle but instead of black the book Mr. Young carried was bound in red leather. “What’s that Kevin?” asked Mr. Pendergast staring at the book. Mr. Young glanced absentmindedly at the book he was carrying. “What’s that Ed? Oh yes. The principle. I’ll get to that in a minute but first I want to pick your brain about something.” His interest aroused Mr. Pendergast straightened the sleeve of his sweater and raised his eyebrows attentively to Kevin Young. Mr. Young sat down. “Ed, how would you feel if one day you found out that everything you knew about the world in which you live was a lie?” Mr Pendergast wrinkled his brow. “For example,” continued Mr. Young. “Take those sweaters you’re so fond of. I imagine when you put on that sweater this morning you did so because you knew you would be chilly without it. But who says you have to wear a sweater to stay warm? Why can’t you decide to not wear a sweater and yet still stay warm? Or maybe you wear sweaters because you like the way you look in them. Nothing wrong with that. But on the sweltering hot days who says you can’t wear a sweater and yet still feel comfortable?” Mr. Pendergast peered at Mr. Young in a manner that indicated he harbored doubts about Mr. Young’s sanity. “I don’t quite follow you Kevin. Are you feeling alright? What have you been reading lately?” Mr. Pendergast inadvertently glanced at the red book. As if noticing the book for the first time Kevin Young opens the book and begins reading a random passage. “Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way,” said Mr. Young. It was obvious he was talking to himself but the comment was made aloud. “You teach Math right? I’ll try and put this in terms you’re familiar with.” By now the conversation had drawn the attention of the other teachers and they drew closer to listen in.”The schoolmaster’s principle is straight forward and concrete. It’s as concrete as twice two equals four. But people  are not as simple or concrete as twice two equals four. To accurately describe humankind I would say twice two equals x. X is an unknown variable.” Mr. Pendergast eyes widened. “But x is four.” “It doesn’t have to be,” responded Mr. Young. “It also doesn’t have to be so simple. Y plus two equals equals X is just as good as twice two makes four. But in the variable x isn’t necessarily four. X could be four but that depends on y being 2. Who says y has to be two. In a variable y is a mystery waiting to be discovered. Y could be anything you or I decide that it is temporarily until the problem is worked out.” “So you’re saying Y could be three?” asked Ms. Wines. “In which case x wouldn’t equal four. It would equal five.” “Exactly,” replied Kevin Young. “Or you could start with x. You could decide that x is 5 or six or 56. Whatever you want.” Mr. Kramer stood up. “How is that possible? Y plus 2 equals a static number. The fact that Y is a mystery doesn’t change that.” “No,” interrupted Ms. Zimmerman. “But until the problem is worked out no one can successfully challenge your claim that x equals five or six or 56.” “That’s the beauty of variables,” added Mr. Young. “They take time to figure out. And until the problem is completely worked out no one can challenge your claim.” Mr. Young slowly looked around at each of his colleagues. “No one. Not even the schoolmaster.” Just as Mr. Young’s insinuation began to make an impression on the faces of his listeners, Patrick Johnson the Ethics teacher walks in. An awkward silence fills the room. “My ears are ringing. Were you talking about me?” joked Mr. Johnson. “No,” laughed Mr. Young. “Ed was helping me work out a math problem.” Kevin Young slips the red bound book into Mr. Pendergast’s brief case. “Well I’ve got to get back to work. I’ve yet to prepare tomorrow’s lesson plan.” The teachers eventually dispersed and for the rest of the day no one brought up the idea of an alternate principle. 

A few weeks later Mrs. Lewallen notices Mr. Young out by the creek during recess. He is kneeling down and talking to Andy one of the children in her home economics class. Something about the sight strikes her as unusual. There was no rule against teachers conversing with students during recess but it just wasn’t done. Recess was seen as their time. 

Are you a fan of Don Quijote? You may enjoy this new book. When Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by a mysterious super villain he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Read more at #amwriting



Trutopian | Trœ’tōpēên

A state in which everything is perfect as evidenced by clear undeniable proof presented right before one’s eyes.

Are you a fan of Don Quijote? You may enjoy this new book. When Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by a mysterious super villain he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Read more at #amwriting

My Story

I realize I’m doing this backwards. Usually people introduce themselves before they begin talking. But I jumped right in and began posting because I was very excited about my first book. After four months of posting allow me to take a moment and introduce myself. My name is William Chasterson. I’m a writer and a student of history. I was raised in the Midwest of the United States in a very conservative town of about 15,000 people. In my twenties I moved to New York which is where I’ve been for the past 15 years. After the first few years of culture shock I was finally able to settle into my environment and actually consider myself a New Yorker. For the past year and a half however I’ve been living in the third world. I’m not going to mention the name of the country I moved to because governments can be sensitive at times and although I have nothing negative to say about any government. They could arrive at the wrong conclusion and I could wind up behind bars. 

How did I end up here? 

I’ve always had an inclination to want to be successful. But I felt something was lacking in the traditional means and end most people use to arrive at what they consider to be a success. I wanted to contribute something positive to society. For years I’ve done volunteer work but I always felt as if I was holding back somehow. I wanted to do more and my wife and I talked about one day making a grand sacrifice and traveling to an underdeveloped country. Then one day we found that ten years had passed by and all we had done is talk. We were getting older. If we were going to contract some rare disease while helping others, now was the time to do it. We’re still young enough to be able to bounce back. But the clock was ticking. We decided that it was now or never. We needed to either take action or stop talking about it. Although I had a nice paying job with flexible hours I decided to quit. My employers couldn’t understand my decision and it was difficult for me to explain. On the exit interview every question implied that I had found a better job and they wanted feedback on what they could have done differently to retain me. After I left my job things began moving rather quickly. I rolled my 401K savings over into an IRA. We got our travel vaccinations and malaria pills. We stocked up on everything we thought we would need to get us through the first year. We’ve always considered ourselves as living simple lives. But when you have to gather up and store everything you own you may find you have more possessions than you thought. That’s what happened in our case. Friends did us the favor of storing what we could not take. Long story short, we boarded the plane and embarked on a new phase in our lives.

The first year

The first year was harder than we could have ever imagined and the plans we made to support ourselves caught snag after snag until finally falling through. This meant we had to rely on our savings more than expected. The country we moved to has no middle class. In America people talk about their not being a middle class or the middle class being under attack but until you actually experience a society with no middle class it’s impossible to imagine. First of all there is a small class of über rich people and a much larger class of extremely poor people. I  expected everything to be cheap but the opposite is true. There’s no competition for prices because the rich don’t complain or bargain. Whatever things cost they just pay and keep it moving. The poor can’t afford any luxuries. They live in survival mode. Imagine high prices and low quality products and food and you’ll have an accurate picture of what it’s like here. Compared to Western societies even the rich here live relatively rough lives. While the poor just subsist in the most barren of environments. It’s kind of like George Orwell’s 1984. Despite the challenges however we have had much success in the volunteer work we came to do. I’m not using this blog as a forum to further my volunteer work at this time. Most of the people I work with don’t even have computers. For this reason I won’t go into great detail about the work. But I will say we educate people to make practical changes which enables them to live happier lives. I know our decision to move seemed unusual to many but I always believed that deep down everyone wanted to do what we were doing. We’re not special in any way. We saw an opportunity and we grabbed it. If given the same opportunity I felt anyone else would do the same. This belief has changed somewhat but I don’t want to talk about that right now. We sent a lot of emails and pictures back home because we thought everyone would be interested in what we were doing. We carefully filtered the emails because although we were suffering we didn’t want to discourage anyone. We only chose pictures where we were enjoying ourselves and we highlighted only the good experiences. Far from discouraging however I get the impression that the emails had the opposite effect. Some may have thought we were having the time of our lives and were bragging. We were actually having the time of our lives but not in the ways they may have imagined. On our return to the states I once again experienced culture shock but now in a different way. Everything was convenient but there was an overpowering stress that permeated everything. On the surface it seems that living in the third world is much harder because of the poverty, poor hygiene and strong military presence. But the stress I felt on my return was harder for me to deal with than anything I experienced the previous year. I blame no one for this. Human beings (including myself) are complex strange creatures. I’ve documented some of these experiences in my new book Metaphysical Man which is due to be released July 1st 2015. I’ll most likely be updating this post as time goes on so that those who might be interested can find out what eventually happens to us. But that’s all for now.

Sincerely Yours,

William Chasterson

Want a sneak peek of my upcoming novel? Preorders are now available @pubslush! Get some great early bird rewards : ) Link to

The Stupider the Better

In his book ‘the Brothers Karomozov’ Fyodor Dostoyevski invents three brothers that serve as archetypes for different facets of the human condition. In this article we’re going to focus on Ivan Karomozov who represents the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.

Ivan explains, with his poem “The Grand Inquisitor,” his beliefs with regard to God and immortality. The following passage is an excerpt taken just after his explanation.

“I’m telling you this in all seriousness. I deliberately began our talk as stupidly as I could but I finish it with my confession because that’s all you want. You didn’t want to hear about God but only to find out what your beloved brother lived by and I’ve told you.”

“And why did you begin as stupidly as you could?” asked Alyosha looking thoughtfully at him.

“Why? For the sake of proving to you that first of all I’m a Russian and Russian discussions on these subjects are always conducted as stupidly as possible. And secondly the stupider the more to the point. The stupider the clearer. Stupidity is brief and artless but intelligence shifts and shuffles and hides itself. Intelligence is a nave while stupidity is straightforward and honest. I brought my argument down to my despair and the more stupidly I presented it the better for me.”

Ivan’s preferred technique of presenting his argument as stupidly as possible appeals to me. As imperfect human beings we take ourselves far too seriously than we should. We also judge each other far too harshly than we ought to. By beginning a serious endeavor stupidly we immediately lower everyone’s expectations. We can express ourselves freely without fear of judgement because we were never supposed to succeed in the first place. On the other hand if we consider our character infallible (even if it’s only a secret belief which we refuse to admit to ourselves) we attract criticism and it’s not usually constructive. 

For example the heading of my blog says I’m examining the makeup of the human ego and it’s predictable results. My Twitter handle says I’m an amateur sociologist exploring humanity between the classes. If I was to present myself as someone important or worthy of attention I know I couldn’t write freely. I would be crushed under the weight of negative criticism people are just dying to dole out to idealists. For this reason I will conduct and present my experiments as stupidly as possible.

– William Chasterson 

When Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by a mysterious super villain he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Read more at #amwriting

Chapter 8

“Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal. – Leo Tolstoy”

“Upon leaving Lumpenproleteria I spotted something strange just outside Fostoria’s border. It appeared to be a mound of waste that someone had discarded. Flies busily swarmed around the mass. All at once I gave a start. The mass appeared to move slightly. With knots in my stomach I slowly approached the object, which now appeared to be a bundle of sticks wrapped in some sort of covering. Suddenly I began shaking with horror. The realization struck me that I was gazing at a person.”

Excerpt From: Chasterson, William. “Breed   The Secret Design To Maintain Racial Inequality Among The Despised Classes.” 

When Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by a mysterious super villain he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Read more at #amwriting

Friedrich Nietzsche

Indebtedness does not make men grateful, but vengeful; and if a little charity is not forgotten, it turns into a gnawing worm

– Friedrich Nietzsche


So there I was, standing at the edge of the Cuyamonga River staring down at the rushing water with a determined look in my eyes. The air was damp and had a briny smell. All kinds of thoughts were running through my head. “What does it feel like to drown?” I thought. “Will I hold my breath the entire time until the burning in my chest forces me to fill my lungs with icy water?” A sudden shudder shook my entire body as I thought of how cold the water must be. A nearby crack of a twig breaking suddenly stole my attention from the steady rumble of distant rapids. Quickly I looked back in the direction that I thought I heard the sound. All looked still. There was no one there, just trees and rocks. “Did I really hear something or is my mind just playing tricks?” As I turned back to face the water I could still picture the trees and rocks where I heard, or at least thought I heard the sound. “In this mental picture there was definitely someone there, watching me with piercing critical eyes.” …….

When Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by a mysterious super villain he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Read more at #amwriting

Are Africans really people?

Are Africans really people?

This question arises as a result of the double standard the news media has set up when reporting on the Ebola epidemic. News española, CNN, and most other news outlets have been giving in depth coverage of the individuals affected by the disease. We learn details about the people and their families. We see dignified pictures of them when they were well. In contrast when it comes to Africa we see numbers and charts. We see grand totals of the dead and forecasts of how many more are expected to die. The footage of actual people we are shown is degrading and played on a continual loop. For instance I saw footage of a man in Liberia who escaped from the Ebola clinic because he was hungry and they weren’t bringing him food. They chased him through the streets in their bio suits and tackled him. He was carried and thrown into the back of a truck as if he were a rabid dog. In other footage a woman with Ebola was shown wandering the grounds of an Ebola clinic. They showed her crawling on her hands and knees like an animal. Before they subdued her the camera cut to a soldier in full military garb complete with his ak-47. The impression left was that of a wild beast or escaped criminal. When African leaders are interviewed they are asked questions like: “How do you account for the disparity between the way your country is handling the epidemic and the successful treatment of the disease in the west?” The reporters ask this question with a straight face as if they expect a simple answer. The implication is that the leaders have been squandering the countries resources through corruption leaving its citizens vulnerable to such epidemics. In many cases this is probably true but this is not the only factor. Western countries have been exploiting Africa for centuries. Are these underdeveloped countries now expected to compete at the same level as their western counterparts?

Impression left on the public

As someone who has recently lived in the states as well as in Africa, I see things from two perspectives. The western perspective consists of a fear of the unknown. A deadly disease rapidly spreads from a place most westerners know little about. If I had never been to Africa and all I knew was what the western media was showing me I might get the wrong impression. It might seem to me like Africa is a continent full of savages that need to be controlled by force before they infect the rest of the world. But I know there is another side to the story. If I search my memory I can remember hearing about this disease in the nineties. Back then it was referred to as a flesh eating disease. But if Ebola is not a new disease then a question arises. What has the world’s richest countries and the world’s best scientists been doing all these years since it’s first discovery?

My impressions

Who am I? I’m a nobody who has lived in Africa for the past year and a half. I’m no different from the  11,325 other nobodies who died unexpectedly and were swept into the pages of history not as people but as a margin of error. But I will take a moment if you care to listen to describe what I have seen. When the outbreak occurred I was in the states enjoying a much needed rest from doing volunteer work in central Africa. The rest was short lived however. The faster pace of life that used to be normal for me now made me feel anxious. When the news broke, the media put such a scare into me that it took all the strength I had to get back on a plane and return to Africa. Now that I’m back, the slower pace combined with the easy going attitude of the people has calmed me. I’m worried but it’s not the same irrational fear and anxiety I felt back home. There are real problems here but the people take life one day at a time. People are losing their jobs and corruption is rampant. Children are constantly getting sick and they’re not eating the right kinds of food. For my own reasons I’m not going to give the name of the country I’m in but as of the time of this writing there have been no reported cases of Ebola here. Nevertheless, if developed countries like Spain and the United States are seeing cases I’m not confident that it won’t emerge here as well. What are we doing in the meantime. We are struggling to do the right thing. We are dealing with the victories and defeats of everyday life while at the same time keeping one eye on the news reports. The past year and a half has been a very educational experience for me.
I have seen beautiful people with beautiful personalities. They speak different languages and tribal dialects. Their culture is different than ours. The way some of them reason is beyond my comprehension. But once you get past the superficial differences I’ve found that they are the same as us. They have the same hopes, aspirations and fears that we have. From what I’ve seen I’ve come to the conclusion that Africans really are people. No different than you and I. What is more once we learn their language we’d find that Indians, Chinese and Arabs are also people just like you and I. So the next time a news outlet displays a map with colorful graphics indicating the affected areas or numbers indicating the victims just take a moment and reflect on the fact that they were real people. The pain felt by the families and friends of these victims is also very real and lasting.

– William Chasterson

When Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by a mysterious super villain he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Read more at #amwriting