Tagged history

“Blurtso gets lost in the corn” (II)

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I think I’m walking in circles. I wonder if I’m walking in big circles or little circles? If I walk in bigger and bigger circles I should reach the edge of the field. I wonder what’s beyond the cornfield? I wonder if it’s a canefield? A canefield is taller than a cornfield. Even a giraffe wouldn’t walk into a canefield. A giraffe wouldn’t walk into a canefield or a cornfield, apparently. I should have turned back when I didn’t see the giraffes. Yes, that’s what I should have done, I should have followed the giraffes. Hey, what’s this? An opening in the corn! Oh boy! I can hardly wait to see what’s there! Hmmm, said Blurtso, would you look at that, a wide flat space. An empty space, without a single giraffe. That’s not good. I wonder what’s beyond this empty space? Probably another field. Blurtso looked at the field from which he had emerged, then he looked at the space. I guess if I walk along the edge of the corn I will get to where I went in. I wonder what time it is? The shadows of the corn are as long as my nose, so it must be before noon. Did I enter from the east or from the west? I think the east. Let’s see, if the time is before noon and my shadow is to the right, I must be walking south. Maybe the entrance is to the south. Unless I’m walking away from the entrance…

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And so he went, walking and worrying, figuring and fretting, gladdening and saddening, until he eventually reached the entrance to the corn. The entrance! he said. Or is this the exit? Just then, Blurtso heard a rustle in the corn.

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What’s that?! A giraffe! A penguin! A pterodactyl! Oh my goodness! An enormous boxing-glove nose! Hello, said Pablo, emerging from the corn. A happier donkey at the entrance of a cornfield the world has never seen. How did you find the entrance? said Blurtso. Simple, said Pablo, I followed the giraffes. Did you see any pterodactyls? said Blurtso. Of course not, said Pablo, Nebraska is only six thousand years old.

“Blurtso speaks Greek” (II)

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Are you a student? said the professor. Yes, said Blurtso. What’s your major? I don’t have one, said Blurtso. Maybe you should take my class on Greek drama, said the professor. We’re going to stage “Oedipus Rex” in October, the quintessential story of blindness and self-discovery. Blindness and self-discovery, said Blurtso, isn’t that an oxymoron? Have you ever done any acting? said the professor. Yes, said Blurtso, I did some barnyard Shakespeare last year, but I ad libbed most of the dialogue. Well, said the professor, this will be a formal production, with a paying public, but the students in my class will be given walk-on roles. Hmm, said Blurtso, “Oedipus Rex.” Are there any elephants and ducks in the play?

“Blurtso goes to Hollywood” (XXIII)

As Blurtso made his way across the land, he paused to consider the travelers who had made the journey before him… the young ones in search of adventure, with optimism and innocence in their eyes; the middle-aged ones, discouraged but not defeated, far from family and in search of a job; the old ones, irretrievably detached, free from the weight of hopefulness, and blown from town to town like leaves on the wind. At night, drawn by the glow of a flame, they would gather in silence, reflecting on the trials behind and considering the trials ahead, until one, reaching into his pocket, would pull out a harmonica, wipe it on his sleeve, and softly begin to play…

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“Blurtso tells time”

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Hey, thought Blurtso, my ears cast a shadow, like the shadow of a sundial, moving around the lawn… It’s a quarter to three. I guess the poet was right, we are made of time.

“Blurtso is what he eats”

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I admire grass, thought Blurtso. It never gets discouraged. It keeps growing no matter how often they mow it down. And in a storm it just bends with the wind. It makes me happy to think… we are what we eat.

“Ditto goes to school” (XXVI)

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Shall we read page three of The Children’s Story? said Ms. Johnson. Oh yes, said Virginia, I want to know why the teacher and children are afraid. Very well, said Ms. Johnson, page three says:

The children rustled, watching the teacher, wondering what possessed her… Johnny looked away from the door and watched with the other children. He did not understand anything except that the teacher was afraid, and because she was afraid she was making them all worse and he wanted to shout that there was no need to fear. “Just because they’ve conquered us there’s no need for panic-fear,” Dad had said. “Don’t be afraid, Johnny. If you fear too much, you’ll be dead even though you’re alive.”

We still don’t know why they’re afraid, said Virginia. No, we don’t, said Ms. Johnson. I don’t like to be afraid, said Virginia. Neither do I, said Ditto. Maybe that’s why Johnny has so much hate, said Virginia. Why? said Ms. Johnson. Because he doesn’t like to be afraid, and he’s angry at the person who’s making him afraid. Are we sure it’s a person? said Ms. Johnson. It says “they” conquered, said Virginia.

Who are they? said Ms. Johnson. I don’t know, said Virginia, but they must be bad if they conquered. Is conquering bad? said Ms. Johnson. That depends if you’re a conquer or a conquered, said Virginia. A “conqueror,” said Ms. Johnson. “They” could be another kind of animal, said Ditto. Like what? said Ms. Johnson. Any kind of animal that’s different from them, said Ditto, like a herd of rhinoceri. “Rhinoceroses,” said Ms. Johnson. Or a swarm of bees, said Ditto, or a school of piranhas. What’s a piranha? said Virginia. A piranha, said Ms. Johnson, is a freshwater fish with an insatiable appetite for meat. Insatiable? said Virginia. Impossible to satisfy, said Ms. Johnson. Oh, said Virginia.

Why don’t you like to be afraid? said Ms. Johnson. Because, said Virginia, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But something good might happen, said Ms. Johnson. But it might not, said Virginia. We fear the unknown, said Ditto, like Hamlet. Hamlet? said Ms. Johnson. Yes, said Ditto, my parents and their friend Blurtso staged a play called “Hamlet” last year. What does Hamlet say? said Ms. Johnson. He says, said Ditto, that he would rather stay with something familiar that doesn’t make him happy than take his chances with something unfamiliar. Something unfamiliar? said Ms. Johnson. Yes, said Ditto. Like what? said Ms. Johnson. Like death, said Ditto. Are you afraid of death? said Ms. Johnson. Yes, said Ditto. And you, Virginia? Yes, said Virginia.

Do you think Johnny is afraid of death in the story? said Ms. Johnson. Yes, said Ditto, or something worse. What’s worse than death? said Ms. Johnson. No one can say, said Ditto, until they know what death is. So it might not be bad? said Ms. Johnson. It might not, said Ditto, but we don’t know, so we create nightmares to fill the unknown. Is that what Johnny’s dad is telling us, said Ms. Johnson, when he says, “If you fear too much, you’ll be dead even though you’re alive”? Yes, said Ditto.

Have you ever heard of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? said Ms. Johnson. No, said Ditto. He was a president of the United States who said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” What does that mean? said Virginia. It means, said Ditto, that the worst thing to do is be afraid. Why? said Virginia. Because when you’re afraid, said Ditto, you’ll do anything to stop being afraid. Do you think it’s easy, said Ms. Johnson, to frighten people into doing what you want them to do? Yes, said Ditto, all you have to do is convince them something unknown will happen if they don’t.

“Blurtso pays it forward”

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I have spent my life eating things that are alive or were once alive. I sure hope whatever I become food for… enjoys eating me as much as I have enjoyed eating.