Where are the others? said Pablo. They’re inside, said Blurtso, sleeping off the pumpkin pie. Yes, said Pablo, not many animals have the constitution of a donkey. That’s for sure, said Blurtso. How’s life in Cambridge? said Pablo. Fine, said Blurtso, I saw an amazing jenny three weeks ago. Really? said Pablo, What’s her name? I don’t know, said Blurtso, I think it’s Lizzy. You think? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, I’ve never spoken with her. Why not? said Pablo. Because I don’t know what to say, said Blurtso. Why can’t you say whatever comes to mind, said Pablo, and just be yourself? Because I want her to like me, said Blurtso, and she might not like me for myself. Why would you want to be with her, said Pablo, if she didn’t like you for yourself? Because she’s incredible, said Blurtso. That doesn’t make sense, said Pablo. No, said Blurtso, I suppose it doesn’t, but maybe I could convince her to like me. That would be the worst thing to do, said Pablo, because then you’d have to spend your life continuing to convince her, and you’d never be yourself. Perhaps, said Blurtso, but at least I’d be with her. Maybe not, said Pablo, she might eventually realize you’re a fake. Yes, said Blurtso, you may be right. So, said Pablo, what do you think you’ll do? I’m not sure, said Blurtso, I think I’ll do everything I can to convince her to like me. Yes, said Pablo, I thought so.
What are you doing with so many pumpkins? said Blurtso. We’re swapping them, said Pablo, for food and supplies… the cellar is already full. Is Harlan coming tonight? Yes, said Blurtso, he and Alexandra are taking the train. Good, said Pablo. I hope they like pumpkin pie.
What a lovely cabin, said Alex. Yes, said Harlan, it’s very sturdy. I’m glad you like it, said Pablo, Bonny and I are happy you could come. How long have you lived here? said Alex. Seven months, said Bonny. Do you miss the city? said Alex. Boston? said Bonny. No, not really. Concord has all we need. Like what? said Alex. Like paints and canvass, said Bonny. We produce everything else. What do you do for entertainment? said Alex. We sing, said Bonny, or read, or tell stories around the fire. That sounds great, said Harlan. Can we hear a story tonight? Of course, said Bonny, Pablo knows some really scary ones. Scary? said Harlan. Yes, said Bonny, but not too scary… Ditto gets nightmares.
Once upon a time, not long ago, there was a donkey, a giraffe, an elephant, and an insane woodsman.
It occurred to me today, said Bonny, that everything in the universe can be described by a single word. What? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, all the diversity, all the different perspectives, all the different realities that people believe in. What word is that? said Pablo. The word “or,” said Bonny. Or? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny. I don’t understand, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, do you agree that existence is based on perception? Perception? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, that everything that exists is a relationship, that is, everything I hear, touch, taste, and smell is some kind of vibration interacting with my brain, which translates that vibration into what I know as light, color, sound, and smell. And without that relationship those vibrations would be no more than “one hand clapping”. Yes, said Pablo, I believe that’s true. So apart from my brain, said Bonny, or some type of brain, the world is devoid of light, heat, weight, motion, space, and time, because, like a current that won’t flow through a wire until the positive pole is connected with the negative, the vibrations of light and heat do not become light or heat until they have a point of arrival, until they interact with some type of organism. Yes, said Pablo. And because they interact differently with different organisms—the bumble bee’s perception of light is not the same as the donkey’s, or the human’s… the dog “hears” vibrations that donkeys and humans cannot… and though all donkeys are born with similar organs, some hear better or see better or smell better than others—the experience of “reality” is different for all living things. Yes, said Pablo, I believe that. So if someone asked you, said Bonny, to define reality, you would have to say that reality is this “or” that “or” that “or” that, depending on who is experiencing it and how they are experiencing it. Yes, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, that is the philosophy of “or”. I like it, said Pablo, the universe reduced to a word. Too bad, said Bonny, it can’t be reduced to a letter. It can, said Pablo. It can? said Bonny. Sure, said Pablo, the Spanish word for “or” is “o”. O? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. That’s wonderful, said Bonny, a perfect circle, except… Except what? said Pablo. Our circle is incomplete, said Bonny. Why? said Pablo. Because, said Bonny, the universe consists of all the perceptions of all the organisms, so it is not only this “or” that, but this “and” that, “and” that “and” that “and” that. Yes, said Pablo. So a better philosophy, said Bonny, would be the philosophy of “and”. Yes, said Pablo, and “and” is still a single word. Too bad, said Bonny, it can’t be reduced to a letter. It can, said Pablo. It can? said Bonny. Sure, said Pablo, the Spanish word for “and” is “y”. Y? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, “y” isn’t a perfect circle, but it looks like two rivers flowing into one… diversity flowing into unity. Yes it does, said Pablo. Of course, said Bonny, by its very nature “and” would have to include “or”… so the ultimate philosophy would have to be a combination of “and” and “or”. You’re right, said Pablo, and “y” and “o” make “yo” which is Spanish for “I”. I? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. That’s wonderful, said Bonny. Why? said Pablo. Because, said Bonny, it brings us back to where we started, to reality created by individual perception, except that this new “I” or “yo” is not the individual, separate “I” that we started with, but a comprehensive “I”, a “yo” composed of all the perceptions of all the organisms from all perspectives. That is wonderful, said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, is there any more popcorn?
The chickadees are in full throat today, said Blurtso. No, said Pablo, those are blackbirds you hear. Really? said Blurtso. Well… how about that one… now that was a chickadee! No, said Pablo, that was a kingfisher. Really, said Blurtso, a kingfisher? Wow… it sure sounded like a chickadee… hold it… hold it…how about that one… now that was a chickadee! No, said Pablo, that was a red-tailed hawk. A red-tailed hawk? said Blurtso. Hmm, he must have been imitating a chickadee… hold it… hold it… how about that one! That was the most unmistakable chickadee I’ve ever heard! No, said Pablo, that was a duck. Remarkable, said Blurtso. What about that, was that a kingfisher? No, said Pablo. A blackbird? No, said Pablo. A red-tailed hawk? No, said Pablo. A duck? No, said Pablo. A chickadee? No, said Pablo. I give up, said Blurtso, what was it? That, said Pablo, was my stomach growling.
The birds are nice, said Blurtso, they sound very happy. Yes, said Bonny, Pablo can identify all of them by their songs. Really, said Blurtso, what was that one? That was a chickadee, said Pablo. And that one? said Blurtso. That was another chickadee. How about that one? said Blurtso. That was the same chickadee you heard the first time, said Pablo. Wow, said Blurtso, that’s amazing.