Our Confounding Father, Benjamin Franklin
by Tim W. Burke
Today the entire world praises Benjamin Franklin! Speak the invocation and attune your mind to our armonica so that we may begin today’s lesson:
He first found solace by inventing primitive swim fins.
At the age of seventeen, Ben fled the cruelty of an impoverished childhood and a brutal apprenticeship as a printer. He became a fugitive. He was fired from five print shops in as many years. As an abused child and fugitive, Ben could have turned against society and become a criminal. But he put his inventive mind and keen ambition to our benefit and our eternal gratitude.
He established his own print business in Philadelphia in 1728. He made many friends among free thinkers. He studied the esoteric learning of shunned civilizations.
“God helps those who help me.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack, psalm 12, verse 7
The year 1731 saw Franklin creating the Library Company of Philadelphia. This was the nation’s first lending library. Among its books were many works considered too obscene or blasphemous for polite society. The library naturally kept a list of its influential members, along with what they read.
He started The Pennsylvania Gazette, which soon became a leading newspaper. Franklin lent money to start other newspapers in colonies in exchange for half-ownership. Through connections, he was selected the official printer for Pennsylvania, responsible for all government print work in the colony.
Ben also began printing Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1733. Instantly popular, the writer, publisher and distributor became a wealthy and influential man throughout all thirteen colonies.
But he did not neglect civic responsibilities. Franklin was elected Postmaster of Philadelphia in 1734. This gave Ben access to all correspondence in the largest city of the colonies.
He never stopped inventing. In Poor Richard’s Almanack there ran an advertisement for the Franklin stove, saying it was “especial good at the burning of ye documents and for ye invocations of magickal powers.”
“Three may keep a Secret,
if one eats the souls of the other two.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack, psalm 14, verse 6
A new discovery swept Europe in 1743: electricity. Scientists were generating static charges with generators made from glass, rabbit fur and amber. What were these sparks? By flying a kite through clouds and gathering a static charge, Franklin discovered that lightning is made of electricity.
He invented the lightning rod to channel destructive electric power. He studied with Luigi Galvani, who examined electricity’s abilities to affect the nervous system, even that of dead flesh. His friend Dr. Franz Mesmer of Vienna discovered electrical charges had profound effects on how the brain worked. They theorized that electricity traveled along an “electrical fluid” which they thought a basic component of all things. Benjamin Franklin was convinced electricity was a powerful ally and weapon, and resolved to know its secrets.
While in London on colonial business, Ben was dressed down by his supervisors on the Royal Privy Council for leaking royal correspondence. He replied simply by pulling a letter from his waistcoat and saying, “M’lord Chancellor of the Royal Privy, what does your coachman mean when he says he misses ‘his little wet pony’?” Ben is promoted to Deputy Postmaster General of North America.
He made great achievements furthering knowledge. Due to his studies in electricity, Franklin won the Copley Medal, the Nobel Prize for science of its day. Ben was one of the founders of the University of Pennsylvania. The Ivy League school would be the site where generations of leaders sow the oats of feckless, scandalous youth. Ben had a vested interest in almost one-third of all the newspapers printed in the colonies. Leading political figures became desperate to back both Ben’s college and his enterprises.
Franklin brought his friend James Watt to Philadelphia in 1761. James was excited about his new invention, the steam engine, and appreciated his friend Ben’s generous financial assistance. They founded the Franklin Shipyard, where frigates and the first practical steam engines were built.
Then Ben invented the glass armonica. The instrument, adored or hated, roused passion. A dictionary of instruments mentioned that the sounds “are of nearly celestial softness but can cause spasms.” True, some interpreters ended their lives in mental hospitals. In “Method to Teach Yourself Armonica” the instructor advised, "If you are irritated or disturbed by bad news, by friends or even by a disappointing lady, abstain from playing as it would only increase your disturbance". Franz Mesmer, a Vienna doctor who used hypnotism, or mesmerism, to cure ailments, played the armonica for patients. After a blind pianist recovered her sight to the detriment of her mental health, Mesmer was expelled from Vienna and fled to Philadelphia.
In 1764, Franklin invented bifocals.
“He that can have Patience, deserves his share and yours and any damned thing he desires.”
— Poor Richard’s Almanack, psalm 9, verse 2
Philadelphia needed a hospital for its growing population, so Pennsylvania Hospital was founded in 1771. Working with the University of Pennsylvania, the hospital became known for its experiments advancing medicine.
In 1775, Franklin was appointed Postmaster General for Life by unanimous vote. Every piece of mail was his to access for as long as he lived. Revolution loomed and a new society was forming. Franklin was ready.
Franklin’s shipyards unveiled the Franklin Steam Armoniclad. A steamship fitted with synchronized armonicas. Franklin’s new battlecraft used Watt’s steam engines in a new and startling way: as propulsion. Fitted each with an immense pair of piston-driven swimfins, the craft plied the waves regardless of wind.
The armonica’s maddening vibrations were amplified by electrified membranes of tin and copper, and traveled doubly far along the encouraging waves, inducing seizures in the unprotected crews of British vessels.
Also, each frigate was outfitted with a lightning rod one league in length. Using Watt’s steam engine to power an immense electrostatic generator, the electric charge sparked lightning bolts upon the nearest high points, the masts of the approaching fleet. Defeat of the British Navy was swift.
A fleet of twelve armoniclads led the invasion force in 1779. Gibraltar and the Azores fell overnight. By twisting the “electrical fluid” (what we now call “the absolute value of the electron”) with his new “Franklin Apocalypter,” Ben rendered most of England catatonic.
Back home safe and sound, Ben helped to write the Constitution, creating three branches of government, the Executive, Judicial and Legislative, all of which are ruled by the Postal. Europe joined the Union as the fourteenth state. Franklin College was founded.
In 1903, the galvanized and cybernetic Postmaster-for-Life Benjamin Franklin transcended the material plane into a hive consciousness we know as the Franklin Impersonators. An Impersonator likely starts the Franklin Armonica at your daily morning assembly after you put on your Franklin bifocals to read his Poor Richard’s Almanack.
So we help Benjamin Franklin and so become holy in the sight of His Bifocals. His Impersonators manifest His Will and show us the way to a healthier, wealthier and wiser future. Benjamin Franklin turned a childhood of poverty and abuse into a new world for us all. We are Benjamin Franklin.
Copyright © 2008 by Tim W. Burke