Wednesday Morning: A Fable (While Waiting for the Garbage Collectors)

A frightful epidemic sent to earth by heaven intent to vent its fury on a sinful world, to call it by its rightful name, the pestilence, that Acheron-filling vial of virulence had fallen on every animal.  Not all were dead, but all lay near to dying, and none was any longer trying to find new fuel to feed life’s flickering fires.  No foods excited their desires, no more did wolves and foxes rove in search of harmless, helpless prey, and dove would not consort with dove, for love and joy had flown away.  The Lion assumed the chair to say:  “Dear friends, I doubt not it’s for heaven’s high ends that on us sinners woe must fall.  Let him of us who’s sinned the most fall victim to the avenging heavenly host, and may he win salvation for us all.  For history teaches us that in these crises, we must make sacrifices.  Undeceived and stern-eyed, let’s inspect our conscience.  As I recollect, to put my greedy appetite to sleep, I’ve banqueted on many a sheep who’d injured me in no respect, and even in my time been known to try Shepherd pie.  If need be, then, I’ll die.  Yet I suspect that others also ought to own their sins.  It’s only fair that all should do their best to single out the guiltiest.”

“Sire, you’re too good a king,” the Fox begins.  “Such scruples are too delicate.  My word, to eat sheep, that profane and vulgar herd, that’s sin?  Nay, Sire, enough for such a crew to be devoured by such as you, while of the shepherds we may say that they deserved the worst they got, theirs being the lot that over us beasts plot a flimsy dream-begotten sway.”

Thus spake the Fox, and toady cheers rose high, while none dared cast too cold an eye on Tiger’s, Bear’s, and other eminences’ most unpardonable offenses.  Each, of never mind what currish breed, was really a saint, they all agreed.

Then came the Ass, to say:  “I do recall how once I crossed an abbey-mead where hunger, grass in plenty, and withal, I have no doubt, some imp of greed assailed me and I shaved a tongue’s-breadth wide where frankly I’d no right to any grass.”  All forthwith fell full cry upon the Ass:  a wolf of some book-learning testified that the curst beast must suffer their despite, that gallskinned author of their piteous plight.  They judged him fit for naught but gallows-bait:  how vile, another’s grass to sequestrate!  His death alone could expiate a crime so heinous, as full well he learns.  The court, as you’re of great or poor estate, will paint you either white or black by turns.

—  re-told by Jean De La Fontaine (1621 – 1695)

Self is a little confused as to the moral of this fable, which as you might have guessed is lifted from His Eminence Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power.  She thinks it means that the Ass should not have presumed that his story was as interesting (or as worthy of awe) as the Lion’s?  Well, that’s why the poor creature is an Ass!  One can’t have an Ass presuming to be on the same footing as all the other animals!

Simply put:  “Whether the exact same deeds appear brilliant or dreadful can depend entirely on the reputation of the doer.” (Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power, p. 41)

LITnIMAGE/ Appearing Soon

Self got an e-mail from LITnIMAGE during her first week in Scotland.  They accepted her piece, “Wavering,” her one and only 9/11 piece, for the next issue.

That was probably why the rest of her month in Scotland was so good.  And she was wrong:  it wasn’t good.  It was SPECTACULAR.

Today came a further message from the editor, Roland Goity:  there will be a slight delay in the Summer 2012 issue (Self’s not complaining.  She wants to kiss the feet of this editor.  Honestly.  She can’t imagine what it would feel like to have to put together a magazine, in the summer.  When everyone else is in the Berkshires or in Martha’s Vineyard or backpacking in Canada).

The truth is, she began writing this story a year after 9/11, and could never get beyond two pages.  It always ended up with the same image:  a wife lying sleepless in her bed, and thinking.

She wanted it so much to be long.

The result, the piece she sent to LITnIMAGE, ended up being about four pages, double-spaced.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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