Blurtseau told Echo about his life before the island—his voyages, the battles he had fought, the perils he had overcome—but though she listened with enthusiasm, she could scarcely imagine the things he described, for they were all things she had never seen. Bloodshed, of which there was much in his stories, was unknown on the island, and though she had witnessed aging in other animals—the goats in particular—the only deaths she had seen were the result of natural cause, and it seemed to her no more troubling than a deep and dreamless sleep. As for the humans, who commanded so much attention in his stories, she had never seen one, and could only picture them as hyper-contentious goats walking upright. The towns and cities were unreservedly fantastic. She could not believe there were such things as streets and houses and palaces constructed from predetermined plans; a physical world built on the airy blueprints of imagination. She concluded that these magical creatures needed to do little more than imagine an object to make it appear, but she wondered why they chose to live in an artificial world rather than the real one that was already around them.
Blurtseau, for his part, found Echo’s innocence to be as unimaginable as his lack of it, and he began to understand that what he saw, even the simplest object on the island, bore little resemblance to what she saw. And the meanings that he understood when he used the words he used were not the meanings she understood when she heard them. But he was enchanted by her innocence, and longed to know what it was like to live in her world, and she was content to play Desdemona to his Othello, losing herself in his tales, imbibing adventure as if slaking her thirst at a secret and mysterious spring.
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What are you going to do when you finish your novel? said Harlan. I don’t know, said Blurtso, I suppose I’ll have to buy a pipe and a tweed jacket.
I suppose even the busiest people find themselves alone at times—walking to their car, opening a door, taking out the trash—and they glimpse an honest reflection of themselves—transitory, insignificant, unprotected—before rushing to hide beneath responsibilities, overcoats, and routines.
I think I’ve gained some weight, said Blurtso. Maybe, said Alex, you should do some crunches.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…
Whew, said Blurtso, that was a once in a lifetime experience.
Hmm, thought Blurtso, number 67. There are 53 numbers in front of me. I wish those numbers didn’t exist, except that they refer to people… which is easy to forget.
Hmm, thought Blurtso, number 82. Everywhere I go, someone is always giving me a number. And it’s different every time. I’m starting to think they don’t know who I am.
I guess I should be bored in this field, thought Blurtso. I guess I should be restless and anxious and troubled. I guess I should be worried about the things I’m missing, all the excitement taking place without me. I guess I should be depressed. I guess I should feel that standing in this field is the worst thing in the world. Yes, thought Blurtso, that’s what I should feel…
Pablo told me juicing is great for your health… let’s see… five slices of pumpkin, four shakes of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, a nub of ginger, a spoon of brown sugar, eight graham crackers, a stick of butter…
Why do humans, said Blurtso, interfere with nature? Humans, said Pablo, are creatures of nature, and as creatures of nature they inevitably act naturally, so their conscious interference in nature must be working in the interests of nature, even if that interference turns out to be nature’s way of eliminating humans.
Why do humans, said Blurtso, think they’re more important than other animals? I don’t know, said Harlan, maybe they’re hiding an inferiority complex.