How Deepeeboo

Waterhouse-Diogenes

“Alright, Wilfred, it’s your turn to recite,” said Rhino. “What masterpiece have you created?”

“Hullo!” said Wilfred. “Master Altman said nothing about a masterpiece. He only said we have to write something worth sayin’ out loud. Well, I got my somethin’ and I’m sayin’ it out loud.”

Wilfred stood in front of the group with his hands behind his back.

“This must be serious,” said Trevor. “He has assumed the position.”

Ignoring Trevor, Wilfred began to speak.

“What did you learn today, my son?

I learned five things and remembered none.

And what five things did you forget?

That dust is dry, and water’s wet.

The moon is cold, the sun is hot;

There’s one more thing, but I forgot.”

Silence.

“Wilfred,” said Skandar. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“That’s because it is deep,” said Wilfred.

Daily Prompt:Recite

Solitary Characters

Korin-Underground Man

It is not only true that humility is a much wiser and more vigorous thing than pride. It is also true that vanity is a much wiser and more vigorous thing than pride. Vanity is social—it is almost a kind of comradeship; pride is solitary and uncivilized. Vanity is active; it desires the applause of infinite multitudes; pride is passive, desiring the applause of only one person, which it has. Vanity is humorous, and can enjoy the joke even of itself; pride is dull and cannot even smile.

G. K. Chesterton ~ Heretics

I equate the novels of Ayn Rand with the word “solitary.” The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged both have as their central character a solitary man, a rugged individualist, who stands alone against the tide of popular opinion.

(Note to self: Are all individualists necessarily rugged? Could other adjectives also apply? John Galt, fluffy individualist. Howard Roark, simpering individualist. Not quite the same magic. No, I think that if a character insists on being an individualist, he (rarely she), must be rugged.)

Solitary characters populate the landscape of Rand’s novels—they are her heroes and heroine’s. One knows they are because (1) only the bad guys travel in packs and (2) the heroes couldn’t tell a joke if their lives depended on it.

(Note to self: Remember that scene where John Galt is tortured by electrical currents? His tormentors want to know where his secret hideout is located. Wouldn’t it be funny if they were trying to force a joke out of him? They would have a better chance of getting him to disclose the hole-in-the-wall gang.)

“What is the joke about a skunk, a mole, and a rabbit who all walk into a bar? Say it, or you’ll get another jolt. Say it! Say it!”

Stubborn—make that rugged—silence.

“Alright, boys, give him another!”

“Wait! The coordinates are 39.1911 degrees north by 106.8175 west. Now may I be excused please?”

Actually, I am not quite correct in stating that Randy characters cannot tell a joke. Sometimes they are the joke. In one scene, Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon are sitting in a restaurant having a decidedly unsolitary dinner. Their conversation includes comments on how self-conscious all the other diners are. If these two rugged (and apparently hungry) individuals are so hell-bent on being solitary, then why do they even notice the other people in the room? I’m sure their fellow diners did not give Dagny and Henry a second thought.

(Note to self: Don’t tell Dagny and Henry. I mean, what is the good of being a solitary character if your efforts go unnoticed? To stand out in a crowd, one not only needs the crowd, but the crowd must acknowledge one’s solitariness)

Daily Prompt:Solitary

Black and White Experience

Dad's Shoes

I pounced on the photograph.

“Who is this?” I asked. “Is this you?”

She nodded and smiled.

“This was taken when I was about three years old. It’s my favorite picture of myself.”

“This? Your favorite? Come on! I’ve seen much better pictures of you than this one. It’s so blurry and grainy it makes it hard to see what you are doing.”

“Well, look. I’m sitting on a cement slab wearing a pair of men’s shoes. They were my dad’s shoes.”

“I still don’t see what’s so special about an old black and white photo.”

“That, my dear, is what makes it so special. It’s black and white photo taken at a time when all photos were black and white. People your age will never know what it is like to have their picture taken in black and white.”

“Does it make a difference,” I asked, “having your picture taken with black and white film?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “All the difference in the world—that is to say, a black and white world. You see, in this picture I was telling myself a story about my dad’s shoes. It was my first venture into the world of eternal color. That’s what a story is, my dear. It’s a moment of Life, captured in the mind’s eye. Every time I see this old picture, I remember the story. The black-and-whiteness of the photo emphasizes its contrast to the colorful world within.”

For some reason, I felt defensive.

“I can do that,” I said. “I can look at pictures of myself—color photos—and remember what I was thinking at the time. I, too, can remember my stories.”

“That’s true,” she said.

“Well, anyway, it’s an interesting old photo.”

“Thank you,” she said.

I said goodbye and left, feeling that I was missing something.

Daily Prompt: Grainy

Character Quotes

Alvarez-Mandlebrot

Sometimes I scatter words haphazardly across a sheet of paper without any conscious awareness of pattern—just spontaneous outpourings of thoughts and feelings. But when I step back and regard what I have written, I see the universe meant something after all. And I am willing and not willing to have it so.

Trevor ~ The Book of Rhino

Daily Prompt:Willy-nilly

The Horta

Blogger’s Note: The post was originally an entry from my journal. I decided to share it to show that, however serious my intentions are, I just can’t seem to stay on track. It means I truly take to heart Oscar Wilde’s advice: “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”

The Horta

Bad night, bad! Pain all night! I carried the pain with me into brief intervals of sleep.

I cannot lay my body down. Right side, left side, front, or back position bring a throbbing pain in my spleen. I have to stand or sit all day and night. However, my back gets tired of sitting; its muscles beg for a rest. So I lay myself down, and my spleen responds with more pain.

My ankles are swollen from all the standing. My feet need to be elevated, but that triggers more pain in my spleen.

Dr. Lee called yesterday at 2:00 pm with the PET scan results. By some awful perversity, the ringer on my phone was turned off. I did not see the missed call until 6:00 pm, after office hours. And here I had my phone with me all day so I could hear it ring.

Earlier in the day, I checked the volume to make sure I would hear it ring; but I never thought to check the ringer status. I did not discover that until about 8:30 pm when I happened to check my phone and saw I had missed another call, this time from Andrew.

What that…? I had my phone right next to me. Recheck the volume: High. Hmm…maybe I should check the ringer. OFF! Arrgh!

(Or is it Ahrrgh! Or perhaps Aarrgh! I’ll put in all three so that you may choose your own expression of frustration.)

I called Andrew and poured out my tale of ringer woe; he was taken aback.

Andrew: “You mean you went at least four hours without checking your phone? If I were waiting for test results, I would be checking my phone every twenty minutes.

Me: “Well, I didn’t think about it.”

Andrew: “Arrgh!”

Me: “Arrgh!”

(Note to self: At least this episode shows I am not addicted to my phone.)

Maugham’s Unicorn

Horses-Mobius

Somerset Maugham uses two interesting literary devices in his novel The Razor’s Edge. One is that he is a cameo character in his own story. He uses himself having conversations with the other characters as a means of advancing the plot. The story revolves around a group of friends that Maugham occasionally visits, sometimes after an absence of several years. Like real life friends, they update him on what has happened in their lives since the last time they were together. As a result, for much of the book, readers do not “see” the characters doing things in real time. Instead, they are told about them second-hand as Maugham records his conversations. It gives the book the feel of a personal journal.

The other literary device he uses is having the main character, Larry, drift in and out of the story. It reminded me of Madeleine L’Engle’s unicorn in her book Many Waters.

“Oh, that’s a unicorn. They’re very odd. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. If we want one, we call and it’ll usually appear.”

Larry makes sudden and unanticipated appearances throughout the book. He is there, and then he isn’t. Like L’Engle’s unicorn, sometimes when he goes out, he takes people with him, not physically but emotionally. Maugham makes it clear that if it weren’t for Larry, he would not have written the book—yet, compared to the other main characters, his story takes up the least number of pages.

I wonder why Maugham did that. Why would he cast himself as himself in his fiction? Why is his most influential character his most ephemeral? For that matter, why are there unicorns, and where do they go when they “go out”? I must think about this because I sense that they are connected. I wonder if Larry and the unicorns are acquainted. Or perhaps Larry is looking for unicorns. Perhaps he is looking for Rhino.

Children of the Con

Children of the Con

“I’m telling you, Ms. Lamont, it’ll be colossal!” the young man said.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You want to make a movie about an alien race of vampires who lure their victims by means of children wearing dollar bills?”

“That’s right,” he said. He placed dollar bills on the ends of his fingers, and walked his hand across my desk.

“It’s like this. People will see these little kids toddling along wearing shoes made of money. They’re greedy, see, and follow the kids, thinking to grab the dough. The kids lead them down a dark alley and BAM! An alien vampire nabs ‘em.”

“Sorry,” I said, “but it’s just doesn’t send me. It’s not spicy enough.”

“What!” he shouted. “It’s got everything! Aliens! Vampires! Babies!

“No,” I said, as I shook my head. “I’m not interested.”

He rose from his chair. “You’ll regret this. I’ll get financing…I’ll do GoFundMe. It will be a HUGE success!”

In his haste to leave, he lost his footing and did a magnificent pirouette to keep from falling.

“That’s it!” I said. “Make it a musical! Call it ‘Children of the Con.’”

Daily Prompt:Spicy

Scofflaws

Miro-Animals

Finding Your No

“Nothing we do as individuals matters, but it is vitally important to do it anyway.”

Gandhi

A recent news article in the Fresno Bee stated that the Fresno Police Department was inundated with calls regarding illegal fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday. It seems there were a number of scofflaws who felt “independent” of regulations regarding the sale and use of fireworks.

A scofflaw is a person who disregards regulations and/or laws regarding legal activities, such as driving, buying alcohol, discharging fireworks, watering lawns, etc. Scofflaws are not necessarily criminals in that the rules they disregard are not forbidden—like murder or theft—they are merely restricted under certain conditions. For example, fireworks are legal if used by the proper authorities in a designated location, but they are illegal if launched from someone’s backyard.

What’s funny is when one person’s scoff is another person’s law. Someone who is outraged when drivers exceed the speed limit may think it’s perfectly fine to discharge illegal fireworks.

In my opinion, a scofflaw is a person who has not found his or her “No.” You may think finding your no doesn’t matter, but it is vitally important to find it anyway. The beasts know their no; they instinctively follow the rules of their community. Even when there is conflict and the animals do battle, they honor the codes of conduct. I can’t picture a cow or a horse or a rooster being a scofflaw. I wonder what that would look like.

In the movie, Old Yeller, a wolf leaps towards a fire; the wolf was not a scofflaw, thinking To heck with this fire–I’m going for it. No, the wolf was insane. Scofflaws are not considered insane…but maybe they are. What if scofflaw-ism is a unique kind of insanity; one that feeds on self-deception and self-justification? How is this related to finding your no?

Note to self: I’ll have to think about this.