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The Return of the Return of the Unidentified Man: UM 3.0

Aug 1st, 2017 | By | Category: Features, Lead Article

The saga continues. Two of our venerable reporters have once again picked up the scent of the most curious character that our reporting staff has ever encountered.  I speak of the Unidentified Man, of course.

The saga began six years ago when the two reporters were foraging for food near the Conewago Trail. That activity was not uncommon due to their meager salaries.  While Stalking the Wild Asparagus they  had their first encounter with the Unidentified Man.  That encounter was documented in EJ in 2011.  What they found was an aging Gump-like character who watched Fox News exclusively, used an abacus for a calculator, and couldn’t program his cyclo-computer.  The story which we reported documented the 15,000 kilometers that the Unidentified Man had ridden his bicycle in the preceding year.

Three years later the reporters had another chance encounter with our unlikely protagonist. The second encounter was also reported in EJ.  At that time, they found a reincarnated Unidentified Man.  He had become a man of faith, joined a church, and became a recalcitrant evangelizer. Still cycling, but more slowly and more socially, the Unidentified Man cycled 13,500 kilometers during the year before the second encounter.

Our intrepid reporters had transitioned to a new status shortly before they authored the second story. The paper’s budget was inadequate to cover their modest salaries while also paying for the editor’s recreational drug expenses.  Fortunately the two reporters still made submissions to EJ as stringers, or as we refer to them at EJ, “adjunct reporters.”  Adjunct reporters receive $9.50 a submission, a compensation level that easily permits EJ to exploit their labor while simultaneously supporting the editor’s journey to an alternate reality. In addition to foraging, the reporters eventually secured employment at a local coffee shop as busboys.  They had sought positions as baristas, but the proprietor found their social skills lacking.  So they accepted poorer-paying, lower status  positions as cleaner-uppers.  Such is the skill set that reporters bring to the world.

A few days ago while removing the detritus of urbane millennials, the reporters spotted a familiar face.  The face was familiar, but something was different.  They had come to know the Unidentified Man as a frumpy geron, lacking presence, and clueless.  Instead they recognized a face that was accompanied by confidence, replete with gravitas, emanating dignity, and quite presentable.  The man that they spotted was dressed in a tweed sport coat adorned with leather patches and donning Harry Potter glasses.  He was holding court with a group of eager disciples who were voraciously consuming his every word.  Despite the unexpected scenario, this was unmistakably the Unidentified Man.  When the disciples departed, our two intrepid reporters approached the Unidentified Man (UM) and filed this report. (ed.)

EJ:        UM, remember us?

UM:       I’ve been very busy lately.  It’s a bit difficult for me to remember the name of every Tom, Dick, and Larry whom I encounter.

EJ:        That’s Tom, Dick, and Harry.

UM:      My point exactly.

EJ:        It’s Stan and Oliver, the reporters from the Elizabethtown Journal.

UM:       Nice to see you again.

EJ:        Are you still cycling?

UM:      Yes. Yes, I am.  In fact, in the 14 years that I have been keeping track, I recently exceeded  100,000 miles.

EJ:        Quite a distance. We couldn’t help but notice that you responded using “miles” instead of “kilometers”.  Have you finally figured out how to change your cyclo-computer display from kilometers to miles?

UM:       (Laughs)  Yes. Yes, I did. In fact, I have designed a computer that uses a GPS to ascertain the location of the bicycle and expresses distances in a metric appropriate to the location.  One can change the default by using a facial gesture of one’s choice. I sold the patent to a multinational.

EJ:       We also couldn’t help but notice that you have changed quite a bit since we last spoke.  Your appearance. Your language. Your demeanor. Your minions.

UM:       Yes. Yes, there has been a transition, a personal journey of discovery.

EJ:        What happened?

UM:       I must thank the Elizabethtown Journal, for that it is where it all began.  I read an expository essay by one of your contributors.  The essay explained the method of applying reason to the understanding of non-rationality.  I pondered it for a while and increasingly came to realize the wisdom of such an approach.  This launched me on a journey of study and contemplation that eventually resulted in a broader understanding of human behavior and nothing less than an explanation of the social organization of the world.  I subsequently authored two books.  The first, The Coming Crisis Has Always Been: Situation Normal, was a correction on Husserl’s early twentieth century phenomenological epistemology.  The second, Not Beyond Reason: The Essence of Humanity, was an extension of the ideas that I first encountered in the Elizabethtown Journal essay.  It offers an explanation of the structure of human behavior and society itself.  I also have authored numerous papers and have served as an advisor to government and international leaders.  In the process, I earned two Ph.D.’s, one in modern epistemological science and the other in human social behavior. Beyond my writing and advising, I teach an occasional course at a local college and hold seminars like the one you observed today.

EJ:      All of that in three years! We must ask, you are known to us as the Unidentified Man, since you have acknowledged that revealing your identity may cause you problems in several states and the District of Columbia.  With such public notoriety, are you still the Unidentified Man?

UM:      There are still issues in quite a few states and the District of Columbia. Consequently, for my writing, as well as my consultations,  I use the name Myron (EJ: we don’t believe this is the same Myron who made an appearance in a previous EJ article)

EJ:      You mentioned that you earned two doctorates.  How is that possible in just three years while engaging in all of the other activities that you told us about?

UM:      It’s actually quite simple. “Earned”  may be a bit misleading.  After the publication of my two books, The University of Phoenix approached me offering a deal. They suggested that if I agreed to write a few short papers for them and agreed to be listed as one of their faculty, they would grant me not one, but two Ph.D.’s..  It was not a significant priority for me, but given the highly rationalized and credentialized society within which we live, I deemed it pragmatic and, accordingly, consented.

EJ:        So they just gave you the degrees?

UM:       Not exactly.  They required full tuition payment.  This is something which they arranged.  They secured a federal loan for me while assuring me that it would not require any repayment.  I knew what they were doing and how they were circumventing legal behavior, but I considered the arrangement useful and expedient.

EJ:         So are you teaching at the University of Phoenix?

UM:       No. My name just appears on their faculty list.  There are only a very few individuals who actually teach there.

EJ:        When last we spoke you had developed close friendships with members of your bike club and also were quite committed to your church, the First Ecumenical Church of Excessive Proselytization.  Are you still?

UM:       No. Such activity is mostly folly and offers little instrumental value.  The members of the club are outside of my circles of engagement now.

EJ:       We thought that we noticed a few notable persons attending your seminar.  It appeared that Noam Chomsky, Marilyn Vos Savant, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Garry Kosparov, and Stephen Hawking were in attendance.  Are we mistaken?

UM:        No. No you’re not.  They were all attending.  They had expressed a desire to share in some wisdom.  I had to bump some of the local ordinaries from attending, but the attendance of these notables seemed to offer greater functionality.

EJ:       We noticed that your demeanor has changed.  In our previous encounters you seemed to be a bit acquiescent, sociable, and engaging on a personal level. Today, dare we say, you seem a bit cold and even a bit arrogant.

UM:       Such is the price of wisdom and insight.

EJ:        Thank you for talking to us.  Maybe we will meet again in another three years.

UM:       OK.

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  1. For those who feel compelled to engage in literary criticism, one fruitful approach (considering the series of three articles) might be to think Vonnegaut’s Cat’s Cradle. Think religion and science. Think reason and faith. Think both yin and yang.

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