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“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 and Harlan watch the Muppets”

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“We’re Marley and Marley… Oooooooooooooooooooooo…”

Do you think we could be Muppets? said Harlan. I don’t know, said Blurtso, they seem pretty talented. Yeah, said Harlan, even the fruit was singing. And the frog, said Blurtso, was doing long division.

“Blurtso sees an ant” (VII)

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Oh, oh, said Blurtso, do you see that? Yes, said Harlan. What are we going to do? said Blurtso. I don’t mind a single ant, said Harlan, but when you’re surrounded by hundreds or thousands, they become unpleasant. Do you think he’ll tell his friends about the loft? said Blurtso. I don’t know, said Harlan. Maybe he’s a hermit ant, said Blurtso. A hermit ant? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, an ant who rejects the frenetic pace of contemporary ant traditions and ant society, and goes off on his own to contemplate nature and his relationship to the cosmos. Or maybe, said Harlan, he’s a scout ant.

“Blurtso sings with friends”

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 Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

Blowing Away – Linda Ronstadt

Bookends – Paul Simon

America – Paul Simon

Brushfire Fairytales – Jack Johnson

Bubble Toes – Jack Johnson

Buckets of Rain – Bob Dylan

Don’ t Mess Around With Jim – Jim Croce

Fall Line – Jack Johnson

Feeling Groovy – Paul Simon

Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon

Forever – Ben Harper

F- Stop Blues – Jack Johnson

Gone – Jack Johnson

Homeward Bound – Paul Simon

I’d Rather Hurt Myself – Roger Miller

Leaving On A Jet Plane – John Denver

I Know Where I’m Going – Traditional

Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye – Traditional

Kathy’s Song – Paul Simon

Landslide – Fleetwood Mac

My Own Two Hands – Ben Harper

No Other Way – Jack Johnson

Girl From The North Country – Bob Dylan

One More Cup Of Coffee – Bob Dylan

Posters – Jack Johnson

Sara – Bob Dylan

Scarborough Fair – Traditional

Shelter From The Storm – Bob Dylan

Shenandoah – Traditional

Tenderness – Paul Simon

The Least You Could Do – Ben Harper

Times Like These – Jack Johnson

Traffic In The Sky – Jack Johnson

We Had It All – B.W. Stevenson

Better Together – Jack Johnson

You Can Close Your Eyes – James Taylor

Your Loving Arms – Hank Williams

Song For The Asking – Paul Simon

Congratulations – Paul Simon

Sarah Maria – James Taylor

Believe In Your Dreams – Rudolph and Clarice

“Blurtso teaches creative visualization” (II)

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As you shift to the left, said Blurtso, the upper hoof extends, lets go, and is replaced by the lower hoof which becomes the upper hoof as you shift to the right… the lower hoof is yin rising to yang… the upper is yang descending into yin… in the same way that all things come and go… cupboard full… cupboard empty… stomach full… stomach empty… see the pumpkin pie… see the empty tin… pumpkin pie… empty tin… pumpkin pie…

“Blurtso teaches creative visualization” (I)

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As you circle from side to side, said Blurtso, imagine your arms are a banner attached to a flag pole, a banner waving in a warm breeze, a banner on top of a pumpkin pie factory, announcing a pumpkin pie sale…