[lit-ideas] Fwd: Sunday Twofer (corrected)

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2014 11:14:28 -0800

> My apologies.  Wrong again.

> Begin forwarded message:
>>> This week there was plenty of mist in which to watch chickens.  I was 
>>> promoted from assistant chicken keeper to temporary first custodian (and 
>>> U.N. observer), a promotion that came with no increase in pay but 
>>> considerable improvement of social status.  The hitherto unremarked thing 
>>> about rain, of which we had some too, is that it cleans up after chickens.  
>>> It has been an unusually dry period and thus the shovel bearers (aka the 
>>> F.C.U.N.O. and his crew of none) have had much work to do.  Also the dog; 
>>> he too had much work to do.  One of the hard things to teach even an old 
>>> dog is that chicken poo is unlikely to be good for you.  New smells and 
>>> tastes are so tempting.  Mac is generally protective of the chickens, 
>>> except when they steal water or food from his bowl; then in the manner of 
>>> Scottish ancestors, he retaliates by raiding theirs.  
>>> We took him to the coast.  Beside the channel where the full tide drains 
>>> Tillamook Bay across a bar, the channel where in 2003 nine people died in 
>>> an accident, we exercised him on a wide open beach.  He was happy;  we 
>>> think he thinks retrieving is his primary job and the border collie in him 
>>> drives him to work till exhausted.  Even in his old age he will run till he 
>>> can run no more.  He always circles left.  Maybe it's a political thing, or 
>>> something to do with the earth's magnetic field, or a behavior learned by 
>>> ancestors from haggi in the wild (which beasts are said by those who know 
>>> to have legs longer on the one side than the other).  When we arrived home 
>>> I briefly wondered if Mac thinks, as a farm dog might, that I own the means 
>>> to kill him.  We went into the garden to check on the chickens.  Mac 
>>> brought the ball and placed it at my feet, as if to say, "You know I'm 
>>> still available for work. I know you have no pension scheme.  I'm not done. 
>>>  Really."  We ignored the ball, and when we were watching a movie later I 
>>> explained as much as I could with reassuring touch.   
>>> This week the chickens got a new water bowl.  Thus, in addition to the 
>>> water in their coop area and water from the dog's bowl, they now have a 
>>> mysterious and shiny stainless steel item around which to gather.  At each 
>>> location they sip very delicately and appear to gargle as they swallow, but 
>>> the new item serves an additional behavioral function, the same function as 
>>> water delivery systems in offices--it gives them a gathering place for 
>>> conversation.  Unlike humans, chickens seem to have little interest in 
>>> gossip and office politics.  Instead they are currently struggling with two 
>>> problems: not being mentioned in the New Year's honors list, and issues 
>>> that heavyweights like Sartre and Wittgenstein have taught us to consider.  
>>> They're currently coping with the fact that the universe is not always what 
>>> denizens of the British Civil Service call, "sound."  One example: running 
>>> up against a bush in a manner that hurt, Wensleydale exclaimed loudly and 
>>> chastised the bush.  Then she sat down to think.  After twenty minutes of 
>>> cogitation she may have been about to reach an important conclusion when 
>>> Appenzeller arrived and told her that the pain she was feeling was her own 
>>> fault.  "No," she said, quite suddenly, "I doubt that."  Shortly thereafter 
>>> Mimo tried this new formulation on a stone, using an ego-centric emphasis, 
>>> "*I* doubt that."  Cheddar then stared for a while at the manifest 
>>> visibility of the air she was breathing, "I doubt that this is a spade."
>>> "You can't doubt air," said Appenzeller, "it would make life difficult."
>>> Much nodding followed.
>>> Not enjoying philosophy, Rocky asked whether anyone wanted to play tennis.  
>>> Cheddar then shocked everyone, "I prefer badminton."  
>>> There followed much what-whatting, which is to say that one of them said, 
>>> "what" and then another said "what," and Appenzeller eventually put an end 
>>> to things by saying, "What, what"?  Cheddar dropped the bomb.  She asked in 
>>> this instance which, if any, iteration of "what" was operative, and which 
>>> could be understood as imaginary practice.  You'll not be surprised to 
>>> learn that this caused consternation.  Where was the idiot Cheddar?  Who 
>>> was this interloper?  Rocky tested the ground literally and metaphorically. 
>>>  "You known the thing people hit when they play badminton is called a 
>>> 'bird?'"
>>> Cheddar said, "Not in England, it isn't."
>>> Here was the crux, "We're not in England."
>>> Cheddar was ready, "I doubt that."
>>> Appenzeller said, "You can't doubt that."
>>> "Why not?  It's not air we're talking about.  I can doubt anything I want."
>>> "No, you can't."
>>> "Can."
>>> "Can't."
>>> "Kant," said Wennsleydale.  No one had a clue why                .
>>> Cheddar waggled her head from side to side as if to stretch a stiff neck, 
>>> "I call the thing you hit a 'shuttlecock,' and I have a right to call it 
>>> whatever I want.  It's a free country."
>>> "Where?" asked Appenzeller.
>>> "Whaaaaat?"
>>> "Whaaaaat!"
>>> Peccarino came running up, "Something wrong?"
>>> "Cheddar's taken a linguistic turn."
>>> "That," said Peccarino, nodding importantly, "is roots."
>>> Rocky picked up the outer peel of a brussel sprout, "No one would doubt 
>>> this."  Appenzeller rushed over, wanting to share in the moment of 
>>> non-doubt.  She was too late to get a taste.  "It's gone," Peccarino 
>>> lamented.  "Here one moment gone the next.  What a world."
>>> "Sic transit gloria mundi," said Wensleydale.
>>> They all gave her a look.  Appenzeller said, "That's in foreign."
>>> They grubbed, forming themselves once again into three groups, the DDF, the 
>>> MFC and the DUF.  The DDF and the MFC eventually reached the conclusion 
>>> that an alliance against all foreign-sounding weirdos might be a 
>>> possibility.

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