Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cognitive dissonance

“Bruno’s speech to the little Foxes. ‘Now, little Foxes, you’re going to have your first lesson in being good--I’m going to put you into the hamper, along with the Apples and the Bread: and you’re not to eat the Apples: and you’re not to eat the Bread: and you’re not to eat anything--till we get to my house: and then you’ll have your supper.’ "
“The little Foxes’ speech to Bruno. The little Foxes said nothing.
“So Bruno put the Apples into the hamper--and the little Foxes--and the Bread--” (”They had picnicked all the Milk,” Bruno explained in a whisper) “--and he set off to go to his house.” (”We’re getting near the end now, said Bruno.)
“And, when he had got a little way, he thought would look into the hamper, and see how the little Foxes were getting on.”
“So he opened the door " said Bruno.
“Oh, Bruno!” Sylvie exclaimed, “you’re not telling the story! So he opened the door, and behold, there were no Apples! So Bruno said ‘Eldest little Fox, have you been eating the Apples?’ And the eldest little Fox said No no no,’ " (It is impossible to give the tone in which Sylvie repeated this rapid little ‘No no no!’ The nearest I can come to it is to say that it was much as if a young and excited duck had tried to quack the words. It was too quick for a quack, and yet too harsh to be anything else.) “Then he said ‘Second little Fox, have you been eating the Apples?’ And the second little Fox said ‘No no no!’ Then he said ‘Youngest little Fox, have you been eating the Apples?’ And the youngest little Fox tried to say ‘No no no!’ but its mouth was so full, it couldn’t, and it only said ‘Wauch! Wauch! Wauch!’ And Bruno looked into its mouth. And its mouth was full of Apples. And Bruno shook his head, and he said ‘Oh dear, oh dear! What bad creatures these Foxes are!’ "
Bruno was listening intently: and, when Sylvie paused to take breath, he could only just gasp out the words “About the Bread?”
“Yes,” said Sylvie, “the Bread comes next. So he shut the door again; and he went a little further; and then he thought he’d just peep in once more. And behold, there was no Bread!” “What do ‘behold’ mean?” said Bruno. “Hush!” said Sylvie.) “And he said Eldest little Fox, have you been eating the Bread?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘No no no!’ ‘Second little Fox, have you been eating the Bread?’ And the second little Fox only said ‘Wauch! Wauch! Wauch!’ And Bruno looked into its mouth, and its mouth was full of Bread!’ ( It might have chokeded it,” said Bruno.) “So he said ‘Oh dear, oh dear! What shall I do with these Foxes?’ And he went a little further " (”Now comes the most interesting part,” Bruno whispered.)
“And when Bruno opened the hamper again, what do you think he saw?” (”Only two Foxes!” Bruno cried in a great hurry.) “You shouldn’t tell it so quick. However he did see only two Foxes. And he said ‘Eldest little Fox have you been eating the youngest little Fox?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘No no no!’ ‘Second little Fox, have you been eating the youngest little Fox?’ And the second little Fox did its very best to say ‘No no no!’ but it could only say ‘Weuchk! Weuchk! Weuchk!’ And when Bruno looked into its mouth, it was half full of Bread, and half full of Fox!’ (Bruno said nothing in the pause this time. He was beginning to pant a little, as he knew the crisis was coming. )
“And when he’d got nearly home, he looked once more into the hamper, and he saw--”
“Only--” Bruno began, but a generous thought struck him, and he looked at me. “Oo may say it, this time, Mister Sir!” he whispered. It was a noble offer, but I wouldn’t rob him of the treat. “Go on, Bruno,” I said, “you say it much the best.” “Only--but--one--Fox!” Bruno said with great solemnity.
“‘Eldest little Fox,’ " Sylvie said, dropping the narrative-form in her eagerness, “‘you’ve been so good that I can hardly believe you’ve been disobedient: but I’m afraid you’ve been eating your little sister?’ And the eldest little Fox said ‘Whihuauch! Whihuauch!’ and then it choked. And Bruno looked into its mouth, and it was full! (Sylvie paused to take breath, and Bruno lay back among the daisies, and looked at me triumphantly. “Isn’t it grand, Mister Sir?” said he. I tried hard to assume a critical tone. “It’s grand,” I said: “but it frightens one so! Oo may sit a little closer to me, if oo like,” said Bruno.)
“And so Bruno went home: and took the hamper into the kitchen, and opened it. And he saw--” Sylvie looked at me, this time, as if she thought I had been rather neglected and ought to be allowed one guess, at any rate.
“He ca’n’t guess!” Bruno cried eagerly. “I ‘fraid I must tell him! There weren’t nuffin in the hamper!” I shivered in terror, and Bruno clapped his hands with delight. ‘He is flightened, Sylvie! Tell the rest!”
“So Bruno said ‘Eldest little Fox, have you been eating yourself, you wicked little Fox?’ And the eldest little fox said ‘Whihuauch!’ And then Bruno saw there was only its mouth in the hamper! So he took the mouth, and he opened it, and shook, and shook! And at last he shook the little Fox out of its own mouth! And then he said ‘Open your mouth again, you wicked little thing!’ And he shook, and shook! And he shook out the second little Fox! And he said ‘Now open your mouth!’ And he shook, and shook! And he shook out the youngest little Fox, and all the Apples, and all the Bread!
“And then Bruno stood the little Foxes up against the wall: and he made them a little speech. ‘Now, little Foxes, you’ve begun very wickedly--and you’ll have to be punished. First you’ll go up to the nursery, and wash your faces, and put on clean pinafores. Then you’ll hear the bell ring for supper. Then you’ll come down: and you wo’n’t have any supper: but you’ll have a good whipping! Then you’ll go to bed. Then in the morning you’ll hear the bell ring for breakfast. But you wo’n’t have any 6reakfast! You’ll have a good whipping! Then you’ll have your lessons. And, perhaps, if you’re very good, when dinner-time comes, you’ll have a little dinner, and no more whipping!’” (”How very kind he was!” I whispered to Bruno. “Middling kind,” Bruno corrected me gravely.)
“So the little Foxes ran up to the nursery. And soon Bruno went into the hall, and rang the big bell. ‘Tingle, tingle, tingle! Supper, supper, supper!’ Down came the little Foxes, in such a hurry for their supper! Clean pinafores! Spoons in their hands! And, when they got into the dining-room, there was ever such a white table-cloth on the table! But there was nothing on it but a big whip. And they had such a whipping!” (I put my handkerchief to my eyes, and Bruno hastily climbed upon my knee and stroked my face. “Only one more whipping, Mister Sir!” he whispered. “Don’t cry more than oo ca’n’t help!”)
“And the next morning early, Bruno rang the big bell again. ‘Tingle, tingle, tingle! Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast!’ Down came the little Foxes! Clean pinafores! Spoons in their hands! No breakfast! Only the big whip! Then came lessons,” Sylvie hurried on, for I still had my handkerchief to my eyes. “And the little Foxes were ever so good! And they learned their lessons backwards, and forwards, and upside-down. And at last Bruno rang the big bell again. ‘Tingle, tingle, tingle! Dinner, dinner, dinner! And when the little Foxes came down--” (”Had they clean pinafores on?” Bruno enquired. “Of course!” said Sylvie. “And spoons?” “Why, you know they had!” “Couldn’t be certain,” said Bruno.) “--they came as slow as slow! And they said ‘Oh! There’ll be no dinner! There’ll only be the big whip!’ But, when they got into the room, they saw the most lovely dinner!” ( “Buns?” cried Bruno, clapping his hands.) “Buns, and cake, and--” (”--and jam?” said Bruno.) “Yes, jam--and soup--and--” (”--and sugar plums!” Bruno put in once more; and Sylvie seemed satisfied.)
“And ever after that, they were such good little Foxes! They did their lessons as good as gold--and they never did what Bruno told them not to--and they never ate each other any more and they never ate themselves!”
The story came to an end so suddenly, it almost took my breath away; however I did my best to make a pretty speech of thanks. “I’m sure it’s very--very--very much so, I’m sure!” I seemed to hear myself say.
-Lewis Carroll: The Little Foxes
Sylvie and Bruno Concluded

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Thrall to the Fox-Fire Eidolon

...Love accompanies chaos, precedes the world, wakens the sleeping, lights the dark, gives life to the dead, gives form to the formless, perfects the imperfect.
-Marsilio Ficino: De Amore, Translated by Sears Jayne , 1994

"When men are dead, their ghosts often go to reside in foxes, or use these animals as hacks, riding on them through the air and over land and water for enormous distances and with lightning speed."
-Thomas Watters: Chinese Fox Myths, 1874

"The erotic intention ... presents itself as that which would possess and touch what ought merely to be the object of contemplation, ...its root in the intimate contradiction of a gesture that would embrace the unobtainable"
-Giorgio Agamben: Stanzas, 1993

"When we desire, we desire the phantasm, and purely corporeal pleasure does not exist."

Bin gewohnt das Irregehen,
's führt ja jeder Weg zum Ziel:
Uns're Freuden, uns're [Wehen],
Alles eines Irrlichts Spiel!

[I am used to going astray;
Every path leads to one goal;
Our joys, our woes,
Are all a will-o'-the-wisp game!]
-Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827) , "Das Irrlicht", from Gedichte aus den hinterlassenen Papieren eines reisenden Waldhornisten 2, in Die Winterreise, no. 18-
Translation by Arthur Rishi

...Past cure I am, now Reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed;
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
- William Shakespeare: Sonnet 147

"Do you think we were surprised to find that the American Dream was a nightclub that had burned down five years earlier? That we were surprised to find when we tracked it down that it had been the old Psychiatrist's Club? Prior to that its name had been the American Dream. Do you think that we were surprised to find that?"
-Hunter S. Thompson: August 26, 1997

"Nodjimahkwe (Keewaydinoquay's teacher) had a log that glowed with waaswamagagod
(luminescent fungi) set on either side of her doorway. She did this for two reasons. The first was so that people could find her place even on overcast nights. The second was so that perhaps those coming would have more respect for her work. As it turned out, people were more respectful, but they also were more fearful, and some were afraid that Bad Spirits were involved."
(as told to Lois Boisvert on Kitiganing Island circa 1988)
-Keewaydinoquay: Stories from my youth, 2006

"The false fox wol have his part at nyght.
-Geoffrey Chaucer: The Legend of Good Women

In Thrall to the Fox-Fire Eidolon

False fox beckoning away
down footsteps that fall contextual
promising the want of wants
-the attraction might as well be sexual...
A coming fever longing rose
to unmasque the heart's desire
hanging on to shadow
folly's beacon hides
lovesick angels choir

Wish-making star's phosphor caress
with undiminished charms
plays Eris off of Eros
both of them she arms
Were this the prize all wanting,
prize that takes no claim?
What bite of apple tasted-
why waste it on a name...

Alchemists who sought the Forge
to New World's night laid siege
though their moment was at hand
the firefly's synchronicity
lay beyond their reach
They defaced the noble savage
crossed great waters wide
declared a crucifixion
called the continental divide

Along night's mossy banks they comb
& dredge the dross of dream
to pluck burning cold with holy fire
the eldritch splendor, vulpine pome
In imagination's orchard
the law of gravity is fed
outfoxing every doctor
vixen vexed in heart & head

Neath the ruins of those old psychiatrists' club
stir deliriums dark though yet undead:
amor hereos, ilisci
assidua cogitato, al-'ishq

from that sepulchre of American Dream
wakes Bodhicitta in Her garden bed

-John Meador