You see, someone discovered, long ago, that the souls of animals baked in a fire, like
pottery, become almost as hard as stone. They do not get soft or melt when it rains. In
some places, where the climate was dry, sun-drying was much less trouble but took a
very long time. Perhaps you have heard about how the Hebrews were forced by the
Egyptian kings to shape the interiors of animals this way and use them as tools.
As times changed, the new artisans expanded their materials and soon discovered
that the souls of devoted fathers will often crack a little when they are warmed too
quickly by the sun soon after they have been hardened. And if an artisan knows how to
prepare himself and his tools, he can sometimes create sharp edges on the souls that will
cut. Some uses of these tools can be seen as the beginnings of a spiritual invasion. Such
manufactured religious leaders were often presented as gifts to communities which had
lost their weapons in battle.
Let’s take a field trip to places where the children do not believe the tiny animals
that live in men still keep on doing their work. Here the growing season is short, like the
men. There is no protection from the dangerous elements. Even the women tend to stay in
one place for far too long. When they grow tall enough, the plants are cut down for
building. It is hard to keep such people from washing away.
This might make you wish for dry weather, but rain that does not fall makes the
clouds sad. During the Festival of Sad Clouds, the ripe ones are gathered into shocks. If
you make a map and draw lines from the ceremony to the place where you live, then
when your life becomes dark enough, thanks to the unique and specific rituals of
harvesting the clouds, handed down for centuries, you may be able to anticipate the
movement outside your body, an entirely different, but not unrelated, kind of harvesting.
This is how the festival has endured and why it provides the origin of the ancient
expression, “cultivated man.”
In studying the history of their own misconceptions of these events, researchers
have decided to:
1. Make excessively long lists and study them.
2. Paint pictures depicting these attempts at understanding themselves and
bury them in caves and time capsules.
3. Draw interpretive maps in anticipation of future landscapes.
4. Talk to people who do not like to talk.
5. Interview old settlers and borrow their tools.
Okay, yes, it’s true that “frost” can kill the weakened older men, but do we
understand their ancient language well enough to know what “frost” really is?
And if we recognize that, despite all these difficulties, there are many places in the
world where people continue to grow very well, shall we also conclude that their
behaviors in relation to the hardened souls of animals is a part of the cause? Perhaps even
this place we thought we lived in is not a place of this type? Then must we consider the principalities of Norway, Chocolate and A Thick Saggy Armchair individually, or as a
group, to be among the “fine examples of successfully settled confusions?”
Perhaps we should reconsider the past. This phenomenon we have been studying
sometimes demonstrates gently sloping hills and rich, fertile cavities. Planted in low
rows, these men can extend handsomely for miles. They look like sturdy young
eucalyptus trees and sometimes collect fresh rainwater over their eyelids. Some have only
one or two rooms, but should we begrudge them this? After the cool rainy season, they
are covered with snowy white blossoms and tremble at the slightest breeze. It is
something as delicate as this, is it not, that we hoped to achieve when we first turned to
the baking of animal souls?
Imagine the sounds such men could make perched on the edge of an extraordinary
large animal bowl baked to a bright ringing pitch. Imagine the extenuating courtships and
the bundles of sad clouds ripening outside your body before the onslaught of history
altered the meaning.
Fiction. Modern Abstract Fables.
(First edition, hardcover with dustjacket, 524 pages, $36.50 USD.)
Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days draws from fairy tales, a condescending of a 1938 Social Studies reader for 6th grade, an 1890 handbook on marital compatibility, numerous annoying educational advancement studies, the myths and legends of third-world countries and minority peoples, pulp fiction, a history of carnival side shows, folktales, frequent conversations with Crows, Owls and a wide variety of underground inhabitants, insects and the people who collect them, Joseph Cornell, Günter Eich, Russell Edson, the French Surrealist poets, the Quay Brothers, letterpress printing, and the author’s inability to channel his imagination linearly.
Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.