“The Peasants Sing” / Memorable Fancies #1456

[In ancient China, “song was how the government found out what the people were thinking.” – Eliot Weinberger] What the peasants are singing – listen ... is it happy? Do they praise the husbandman and the harvest? Do they rejoice in their wives and children? Do they express profound gratitude to the Emperor and bless the order of things? Or – or are the songs just too happy – sung all too often? Is there a hint of irony here, a subtle discontent with our rule? Should we take … [Read more...]

“The Cataclysm of Red Sheep” / Memorable Fancies #1214

[“Chang Chu, a poet in the 13th century, wrote a line, ‘The cataclysm of red sheep,’ that no one has ever been able to explain.” – Eliot Weinberger] (1)     Many red sheep were destroyed in the cataclysm; this is why we seldom see them any more. The ones we do find are still looking, worriedly, over their shoulders. - -or- - (2)     By disobeying the gods, we caused a cataclysm suffered by all creatures, including, in our case, an ugly red coloration and loss of the ability to baah baah … [Read more...]

“Ceremony of the Stew-Pot” / A Memorable Fancy #362

[“The pottery of the Mohicas is their language.” – Eliot Weinberger]      This ancient Mohicanian custom commences with the man’s buying a stew-pot and giving it to the woman, saying “You will marry me and gather food for me and sew my garments and cook my meals and raise my babies.” In tribal tradition, the woman can then accept the pot, meaning “yes.” Or she can sell it back to the man, freeing him to look for a different slave. <END> Subscriptions to A Memorable Fancy are now … [Read more...]

“The Acolyte” / A Memorable Fancy #287

[“Certain teachings take four hundred years to transmit from sage to student; others, four thousand; others, forty thousand.” – Eliot Weinberger] The acolyte, when offered a choice, chose forty thousand years, for what is left to seek after enlightenment? That would be the end of life. “You are indeed wise,” said the sage. “All my other students impatiently choose four hundred years, or quit in despair. You have made forty thousand years’ progress in a single day; you have nothing else to … [Read more...]