Friday, January 23, 2009


This, moved over from another of my blogs:

A pilgrim moves across an unforgiving land beneath the dusty sun, and comes to a walled city. Hoping to find relief from his thirst, he passes through the gates. He comes to a bustling marketplace, and drawn to a knot of people, he moves over to learn what they are about.

A small boy is poking with his toe at the body of a dead dog. Each time he jars it a whispering growl is forced through its throat, and a white snarl passes across its stiff lips. The loitering adults find this amusing and laugh merrily.

One of them says, “What a mangy bitch -- you couldn’t even patch a sandal with its scabby hide.” Another says, “When the rats finish eating that skinny carcass, they’ll be hungrier than when they started.” And another says, “It stinks now, but not as bad as when it was alive.” They all laugh at such cleverness.

Then the pilgrim steps forward. “Pearls,” he says, “pearls cannot surpass the whiteness of her teeth.”

In the ensuing silence the adults slowly grow ashamed. And each of them turns and goes away, one by one, to his own place until, at the side of the dead dog, only the pilgrim and the small boy remain.


Now. Why have I moved this little parable over? Well. I got a comment on it, you see, and it's such a piece of work that I thought I simply must drag it into the light of day. La:

Eddie Editor said...

Diabolically bad prose.

It's lips are stiff but still snarl, it's dead but manages to whisper and snarl at the same time, a toe poke rather than a kick is sufficient to force air through dead lungs, the thirsty pilgrim goes straight to the crowd rather than the well.


It is a pollution, but I don't want to delete it, because it's such an object lesson. Do you see? It embodies, perfectly, perfectly, exactly the point of the story. Scorn inseparable from incomprehension. My response:

Eddie Eddie Eddie. You delight me. Allow me to help you overcome your befuddlement: as the beast is jarred, "it's" muzzle moves slightly against the ground, distorting "it's" lips in the way described. This elementary fact covers your next quibble as well.

Regarding toes and kicks, you have again insufficiently visualized the event. Sorry for not spelling it out for your rather literal mind. Now, let's be methodical. Where might the boy be poking, to elicit this response? There is no time limit on this question, so do your best.

Son, you have descended into the petty. Or maybe that's where you started.

As for thirst, your point would not be without merit, were we dealing with a mere wanderer. This is a pilgrim, if you apprehend the distinction, who understands what is truly important. Your penchant to criticize is not supported by a diligence of observation or logic. The fact that it is not reported that he drank does not mean he didn't. On a more prosaic level, you should have considered the possibility that the well was near the crowd.

Spend some time pondering the title of this piece, for some necessary insight. Not your most stellar of efforts, one should hope. Can I be your editor? It might help you grow beyond this adolescent stage you're stuck in. It's just unbecoming, is all.

Defensive? Yes. But valid, and correct. And this is a sweet little tale, that should be defended. Dead dogs don't need defending, but loveliness should be honored, and the pettiness of loiterers should be rebuked. I don't know that I did either sufficiently, here. But I had to come back to it, like a dog to its vomit. Eddie doesn't understand the nature of parables. Eddie is the guy at the party who doesn't get the joke, and spends his time explaining why it's not funny. Eddie's failure is not one merely of imagination. That's just how it shows up. It's not that he hates the prose. It's that, if he could see it, he'd hate the point. He misses it entirely, what's important, busy as he is focusing on self-manufactured scabs. Priceless.

Pearls, young Eddie. Pearls.

As I say, defensive. The comment was from weeks ago, and I'd forgotten about it, then several nights ago it sprang to mind, and bothered me. Then again last night. I'm a sensitive guy. So I'm dealing with it here.

Now I can walk away.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thik you nailed it with this:

",,,your penchant for criticism..."

Some just can't help themselves, and it is a wearisome thing to have to constantly behold, how much more to have to constantly carry.

But they never seem to notice their burden, nor does pointing it out seem to help.