Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Eliot Weinberger, from “Dreams from the Holothurians”

Why does atl mean “water” in the Aztec language?

Why are there three Armenian cities cited by Ptolemy as Chol, Colua and Cholima, and three Mexican cities named Cholula, Coluacan and Colima?

Atlantis! Augustus Le Plongeon, the first to excavate the Maya ruins in the Yucatán, deciphers the glyphs and discovers that they tell the story of the princes Coh and Aac, rivals for the hand of their sister Moo, Queen of Atlantis. Coh is accepted, but is murdered by Aac, whose armies overrun Atlantis as the continent begins to sink. Moo flees to Egypt, where she builds the Sphinx as a monument to her husband/brother, changes her name to Isis, and is the founder of Egyptian civilization. The Greek alphabet, recited in the proper order, is actually a Mayan poem on the fate of Moo.

Lost! Plutarch claimed that Solon began an epic poem on Atlantis, and gave it up. Lost! Plato’s account of the continent, Critias, ends suddenly in mid-sentence: “And when he had called them together, he spoke as follows:”

Why do the Basques speak Algonquin?

Atlantis! Heinrich Schliemann’s grandson Paul claims that he inherited a letter, an envelope and an owl-headed vase of unknown provenance. The letter instructed that only a family member willing to devote his life to the material contained in the envelope and vase should open them. He pledged his life, and broke the vase. Inside were four square coins and a metal plaque inscribed in Phoenician, Issued in the Temple of Transparent Walls. He opened the envelope, and found his grandfather’s secret notes from the excavation of Troy: the finding of a bronze urn full of coins marked From the King Cronos of Atlantis. Young Schliemann then set off for Tibet, where he discovered a Chaldean account of the destruction of the Land of the Seven Cities. Schliemann reports his findings to the New York American in 1912, promising to reveal much more in a forthecoming book.

Atlantis! Rudolf Steiner writes how the Atlanteans had no ability to reason, but that they had trained themselves in the mnemonic arts, and could even pass on their collected memories to their children. When faced with a problem, they found the solution from precedence; but if it was a new problem, they could only experiment blindly. They used words to heal wounds immediately, and flew in aircraft that ran on  “life force.”

Lost Atlantis! It was all a dream from the holothurians. The holothurians, despised by men, called “sea cucumbers” after that insipid vegetable, dismissed as cylindrical purplish blobs, nothing more than a mouth and an anus, forever filtering mud in the gloom of the ocean floor—it was the holothurians who did it. For each is the cell of a huge collective brain, a brain trapped in millions of useless bodies that inhabit the dullest stretches on earth. So, to amuse itself, this brain has spun stories along its submarine network, stories that bubbled up and randomly entered the dreams of the sleeping people above. Stories that provoked strange longings for the ocean floor: that the origin of all life began there, that forgotten kingdoms lie there in the mud, along with the shipwrecks of fantastic wealth. A dream that Solon and Platon and Bacon and de Falla and the other could only partially remember: they wrote it down, then went to sleep again to recover the rest, and never could. A dream that has led so many to dive into the sea and keep swimming down.

Atlantis! In the dark the holothurians eat and excrete and move on and eat, inching forward, thinking, sending out their mental flares in the hope that someone, something, anything will drop by and relieve the tedium of their biological fate, down there, at the bottom of the sea, with the calcified sponges, magnesium nodules, the crushed spines of sea urchins, the ghosts of coelenterates, unexploded torpedoes, skeletons of bathypterids and halosaurs, the hieroglyphic tracks of sea pens and ophiuroids, fecal coils, the waving arms of a burrowed brittle-star, manganese encrusted dolphin teeth, the remains of a jettisoned crate of Manilla-envelope clasps, zeolite crystals, pillows of basalt, calcareous shells of pteropods, the sinister egg-casings of skates, the broken anti-matter locks from a crashed spaceship, the short-crested ripples of sand and the scour moats forming in globigerina ooze.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nathaniel Tarn, "From Anthropologist to Informant, a Field Record of Gary Snyder"

“Did you ever do any field work?”

GS: No, never formally. But I hung out a lot on the Warm Springs reservation collecting folktales pretty formally: noting, taping, typing. In the summers of 51 and 54. I also did some winter seasons as a student but didn’t use the material in the thesis. Then I worked as a logger (in 54) and got more information - it went in the “Berry Feast” piece. I hitched around and hung around and got onto very intimate terms with Indians.

(Powerful reminiscences of a great time. Smile. We agree to cool some of the talk. O.K. self-censorship. “Why did you put some of those Reviews into Earth House Hold? They strike me as Juvenilia, perhaps not worth reprinting?”)

GS: Well, Juvenilia yes, but they’re not as superficial as they might appear. They were done while I was studying Chinese: no credits involved. For “Midwest Folklore”. The Clark piece is a put-down of course. I’ve never seen any bad reviews of it and yet it’s a bad book. I really wanted to suggest that unexpurgated texts are needed rather than bowdlerized ones. But the Jaime do Angulo: well no one in Anthropology wrote a serious piece about A. But Jaime de Angulo you must realize was a great culture hero on the West Coast. He was a Spaniard with a Paris M.D., came to the South West, quit the army to live with Indians, moved to California. Self-taught linguist, a good one. He never had a regular appointment, he was just too wild. Burned a house down one night when drunk, rode about naked on a horse at Big Sur, member of the Native American Church, great friend of Jeffers - the only man Jeffers ever allowed to visit him day or night. No: I never met him or Jeffers. So: at the end of World War II, Jaime de Angulo was one of the few people alive to jazz up California. These reviews have more meaning than you think in terms of literary culture.

(Have to cool a wee bit more about J. de A’s exploits. Ah the secret within the secret within the secret! “Well, this is bringing us to Indiana...”)

GS: I wanted to go to Indiana to develop the study of oral literature, to study oral literature as style, as raconteur technique - yes, o.k., narrative technique. In summer 51 I’d been on the reservation. Then in the fall of 51 I had this fellowship. I only stayed one semester.

(Where was everybody at certain times? NT at Chicago working up to the Maya. When was Charles Olson at Yucatan? And Black Mountain...I think Black Mountain starting just about when NT leaving for the Maya. Why was I never told? “Who did you work with at Indiana?”)

GS: Well, Charles Vogelin, Thomas Sebeok, Fred Householder and a fine ethnomusicologist George Herzog.

And Dell Hymes...

(Strong reaction. Ha! Saw DH at Sussex ASA about 2-3 years ago. Conference on Linguistics: I’d already quit. Asked DH about whom to contact to get material on the secret history of the anthropoets and he was full of suggestions. GS pleased about conference.)

GS: Dell was at Reed, one year ahead of me and, or course, at Indiana one year ahead. He helped to get me to Indiana. He was my roommate for that semester. This putting of people in touch with each other: About 4 or 5 years ago, I put Stanley Diamond in touch with Jerry Rothenberg (I’d been corresponding with Jerry for about 10 years) and it was Dell who had put Stanley in touch with me. And now we’re altogether on the editorial board of Alcheringa ...

(“This reminds me that in 51 there was this great Wenner Gren thing in N.Y. Levi-Strauss was so surprised to see me in the corridors - I’d worked with him three years but we’d hardly exchanged as many words - that he took me for a drink along with Roman Jakobson. Do you remember about this?)

GS: No, but come to think of it I remember Sebeok talking to us about the great Anthrolinguists conference at Indiana. That must have come before it?

(Up and down the East Coast after Yale and before Chicago: Kardiner in N.Y., Stirling at the Smithsonian, Stewart and Kroeber at Columbia (Kroeber: “Young man, if you’re going to Chicago, you’ll need a thick scarf ”) ... back in Yale: Murdock and Linton who could not help me get on out from under Jefferson and American Democracy: Orientation! “O.K., we’re getting to the crunch: why did you quit?” We already both know this part by heart, I guess. ..)

GS: I decided to quit because it became evident that the things I wanted to do would be better done in poetrythan in scholarship. The economic reasons for a scholarly career weren’t incentive enough. At the magicsuperstitious level, let’s say the Muse is jealous. She won’t tolerate you having several mistresses. A commitment is required. On the practical level - Dell and I talked about this a lot, Dell was going through the same kind of thing - well if you’re going to do a good job it’s got to be whole time. I believe in scholarship if that’s what you want but it has to be well done. A Ph.D. in Anthropology is demanding. I did think about getting the Ph.D. and then quitting, but it seemed to me that the kind of effort one put into getting a Ph.D. was essentially repetitive...like proving some sort of point, almost like showing off. It wasn’t an easy decision. And I’m not sure I’ve found anyone to do what it was I wanted to do ...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ernesto Cardenal, from "Quetzalcóatl," trans. Clifton Ross

Quetzalcóatl came to Tlapalan
and disappeared into the sea.
He told his people not to cry for him.
                           He would return.
Quetzalcóatl went to Tlapalan, “the land of the Dawn,”
also known as “the land of Red and Black,”
where he died in the year 1 Reed
and was transformed into the Morning Star,
also known as 1 Reed
Which Quetzalcóatl?
                  In this tangle
with which Quetzalcóatl are we left?

Quetzalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent,
the serpent with the feathers of a quetzal.
                  Earth and flight.
The serpent was the earth,
         devourer of life
                  and giver of life.
Serpent-bird=winged matter,
the union of earth with sky.
Earth that rises and sky that descends.
(United at the pinnacle of the pyramid.)
         Erect serpent and descending bird.
Matter ascending toward light.
The struggle of the light.
Venus invisible 90 days.
Afterwards it burns 250 days in the afternoon sky.
Then it disappears 8 days…

It is also said, moyocuyatzin ayac oquijocux, ayac oquipic
which means that no one created him
         but that he created everything
(he who would think or invent himself).
His illuminated face on so many broken potsherds in Mesoamerica…

         creator of pulque and corn.
The God of Tolan, “heart of the people.”
He is the same Ometéotl
         (Ome=Two, Téotl=God),
the Holy Couple
From whence children are sprinkled onto the earth.
The Two-God.
         “The true God and his Wife”
                           (Florentine Codex)

He is the Dialectical God Ometéotl…
He who put corn in our lips.
The Supreme Couple
                  Ome-Tecuitli and Ome-Cíhuatl,
         God and Goddess of Duality.
And what is the child?
                  All of us…

Venus that burns in the evening and the dawn…

And what is Tula?        
                           And what is Tolan?
Tolan means metropolis.
         The polemic of Tula…
Here he cried out toward the place of Duality…

A social structure according to the heavenly bodies.
The reproduction of heaven here on earth:
                  “The rule of Tolan.”
A copy of the cosmos on human scale.
More than a city, a vision…
         An urban copy of heaven.
                  The fall of Tolan,
         …a collective dream.
A social harmony in that Tolan.
A city and over it a sky furrowed with paths,
         the paths of the sun, the moon and the stars…

The unformed stone found form…

         Teotihuacán: Human divinity.
                  Where the serpents flew….
The pyramid of the Moon at the end of the Highway of the Dead…

                  The walls covered over with visions.
Decorations of animal gods or god animals.
         Over the rectilinear architecture
                  (Teotihuacán cubism)
                           the undulating bird serpent,
         the salient smile of stone,
                  animal gods and god animals,
                  animal men and men animals,
                  god men and men gods.
The harmony of heaven was that of society.
City of the Morning Star
                           “that shines over fields and houses”

The buildings like books of stone.
Friezes of walking tigers
there where the buses are now…
         A people no one had seen before.
And soon the military superpower of Mesoamerica.
They opposed the turquoise serpent (Huitzilopochtli)
to the quetzal-feathered serpent (Quetzalcóatl).
         Now Huitzilopochtli,
                           the Lord of war:
                  the supreme god.
After the over throw of the worshipers of Quetzalcóatl
         human sacrifice.

         Huitzilpochtli: militarism…
With Moctezuma a despotism without dissent
But there was an intrinsic contradiction: the tlamatinimes.
On one hand the official mythology
and on the other, the tlamatinimes. The followers of Quetzalcóatl.
They preserved the bright tradition
                  in the libraries with their books of paintings.
“They taught the children to live”…

Humanity must be honored like a precious stone or rich plumage.
(in the Calmecac
         the prehispanic centers of education)
                  Think of him, the Night and the Wind,
         and he will give you delicious dreams,
                           little turtledove.
         They say it is very difficult to live on earth
         place of horrible conflicts,
                           little dove.
And the doctrine was kept alive in the people…
There had been a conflict with Netzahualcoyotl
(cf. Don Juan Pomar, the great grandson of the King of Texcoco
about the religious revlution of Nezahualcoyotl).
                  He declared himself adept of an invisible principle.
                           In the temple of Texcoco, no effigies.
                  The theology of Quetzalcóatl recovered.
The two little figures above are Netzahualcóyotl and Netzahualpili,
below, figures that paint, sculpt, weave and sing.
The song spirals.
The song painted in front of their mouths painted like a flower.
And in the people the doctrine lives…

Chac Mool: the awakening of the Indian, said Martí.
                  Quetzalcóatl, or the historicity of myth.
Carrasco called him subversive.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jack Kerouac, from "Desolation Angels"

Me’n Sliv stand bouncing to the beat and finally the girl in the skirt comes talk to us, it’s Gia Valencia, the daughter of the mad Spanish anthropologist sage who’d lived with the Pomo and Pit River Indians of California, famous old man, whom I’d read and revered only three years ago while working the railroad outa San Luis Obispo—“Bug, give me back my shadow!” he yelled on a recorded tape before he died, showing how the Indians made it at brooks in old California pre-history before San Fran and Clark Gable and Al Jolson and Rose Wise Lazuli and the jazz of the mixed generations—Out there’s all that sun and shade as same as old doodlebug time, but the Indians are gone, and old Valencia is gone, and all’s left is his charming erudite daughter with her hands in her pockets digging the jazz—She’s also talking to all the goodlooking men, black and white, she likes em all—They like her—To me she suddenly says “Arent you going to call Irwin Garden?”
"Sure I just got into town!"
"You're Jack Duluoz aren't you!"
"And yeah, you're—"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jaime de Angulo, "Shelter"

Grandfather, the sky is clouding over,
it’s going to rain, to storm!
let’s run home!
Slowly, grandchild, slowly.
Grandfather, let’s take shelter
under that redwood tree.
But the lightning might strike it.
Grandfather, grandfather! I’m scared!
the rain will drown us.
Crawl into my shirt, grandchild;
the sun will shine again.
Oh! Grandfather: the sun is out, the rain is over!
but the redwood tree fell! Grandfather,
what are those things you were sitting on?
Those are Coyote’s bones, grandchild;
the lightning never strikes over them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pablo Neruda, "Educación del Cacique," Trans. Anthony Kerrigan

Lautaro was a slender arrow.
Supple and blue was our father. 
His first years were all silence.
His adolescence authority. 
His youth an aimed wind.
He trained himself like a long lance.
He habituated his feet in cascades.
He schooled his head among thorns.
He executed the essays of the guanaco.
He lived in the burrows of the snow.
He ambushed the prey of eagles.
He scratched the secrets from crags.
He allayed the petals of fire.
He suckled cold springtime.
He burned in infernal gorges.
He was a hunter among cruel birds.
His mantle was stained with victories.
He perused the night's aggressions.
He bore the sulphur landslides.

He made himself velocity, sudden light.

He took on the sluggishness of Autumn.
He worked in the invisible haunts.
He slept under the sheets of snowdrifts.
He equaled the conduct of arrows.
He drank wild blood on the roads.
He wrested treasure from the waves.
He made himself menace, like a sombre god.
He ate from each fire of his people.
He learned the alphabet of the lightning.
He scented the scattered ash.
He wrapped his heart in black skins.
He deciphered the spiral thread of smoke.
He made himself out of taciturn fibres.
He oiled himself like the soul of the olive.
He became glass of transparent hardness.
He studied to be a hurricane wind.
He fought himself until his blood was extinguished.

Only then was he worthy of his people.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pablo Neruda, "The Heights of Machu Picchu -- VIII," from Canto General, Trans. Nathaniel Tarn

Come up with me, American love.

Kiss these secret stones with me.
The torrential silver of the Urubamba
makes the pollen fly to its golden cup.
The hollow of the bindweed's maze,
the petrified plant, the inflexible garland,
soar above the silence of these mountain coffers.
Come, diminutive life, between the wings
of the earth, while you, cold, crystal in the hammered air,
thrusting embattled emeralds apart,
oh savage waters, fall from the hems of snow.

Love, love, until the night collapses
from the singing Andes flint
down to the dawn's red knees,
come out and contemplate the snow's blind son.

Oh Wilkamayu of the sounding looms,
when you rend your skeins of thunder
in white foam clouds of wounded snow,
when your south wind falls like an avalanche
roaring and belting to arouse the sky,
what language do you wake in an ear
freed but a moment from your Andean spume?

Who caught the lightning of the cold,
abandoned it, chained to the heights,
dealt out among its frozen tears,
brandished upon its nimble swords --
its seasoned stamens pummeled hard --
led to a warrior's bed,
hounded to his rocky conclusion?

What do your harried scintillations whisper?
Did your sky, rebellious flash
go traveling once, populous with words?
Who wanders grinding frozen syllables,
black languages, gold-threaded banners,
fathomless mouths and trampled cries
in your tenuous arterial waters?

Who goes dead-heading blossom eyelids
come to observe us from the far earth?
Who scatters dead seed clusters
dropping from your cascading hands
to bed their own disintegration here
in coal's geology?

Who has flung down the branches of these chains
and buried once again our leave-takings?

Love, love, do not come near the border,
avoid adoring this sunken head:
let time exhaust all measure
in its abode of broken overtures --
here, between cliffs and rushing waters,
take to yourself the air among these passes,
the laminated image of the wind,
the blind canal threading high cordilleras,
dew with its better greetings,
and climb, flower by flower, through the thicknesses
trampling the coiling lucifer.
In this steep zone of flint and forest,
green stardust, jungle-clarified,
Mantur, the valley, cracks like a living lake
or a new level of silence.

Come to my very being, to my own dawn,
into crowned solitudes.

The fallen kingdom survives us all this while.

And on this dial the condor's shadow 
cruises as ravenous as would a pirate ship.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sandra Johnson, "Makah Indians"

We sprang from salt water
     A meeting of waves.
Our men hollowed
from logs
     with the bone of whale
and together rose
     as one
but were many
giving thanks to the sea.
With a song
            we were born
     startling the birds
            into flight
while the seagulls
     circling the air
            and following
     the strain of our paddles
            moving us
     toward land.

Now our men
     keep returning to the sea
filled with the rhythm
            of salmon
fishing a strange beauty
            through dark waters
as silver fins
            leap wildly over death
seeking the savage moment
            that saves
the young.
            Our people will not die.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Jaime de Angulo, "The Achumawi Life-Force," trans. Annette Boushey

The entire creed of the Achumawi Indians is contained in these words, spoken to me by one of my friends: "All things have life in them. Trees have life, rocks have life, mountains, water, all these are full of life. You think a rock is something dead. Not at all. It is full of life. When I came here to visit you, I took care to speak to everything around here. That tree at the corner of your house — I spoke to the first night before going to bed. I went out on the balcony, and I smoked. I sent it the smoke from my tobacco. I spoke to it. I said: 'Tree, don't do me any harm. I'm not bad. I didn't come here to harm anyone. Tree, be my friend.' I also spoke to your house. Your house has life, it is someone. It is you who made it. All right, you made it for a certain purpose. But your house is a person. It knows very well that I am a stranger here. That's why I sent it tobacco smoke, to make friends with it. I spoke to it. I said: 'House, you are the house of my friend. You shouldn't do me any harm. Don't let me get sick and maybe die while I am visiting my friend. I want to go back to my own country without anything bad happening to me. I didn't come here to harm anyone. On the contrary, I want everyone to be happy. House, I want you to protect me.' That's how I did it. I went all the way around the house. I sent my smoke to everything. That was to make friends with all the things. No doubt there were many things that watched me in the night without my seeing them. What do I know? Maybe a toad. Maybe a bird. Maybe an earthworm. I am sure all those people were watching me. They must have been talking to each other. The stones talk to each other just as we do, and the trees too, the mountains talk to each other. You can hear them sometimes if you pay close attention, especially at night, outside. Well, I am sure all those people were watching me the other night, the first night I came here. They probably said: 'Who is that man? He is a stranger. We've never seen him before. But at least he is polite. He sends us his smoke. He greets us. That must be a good man. We should protect him so nothing bad happens to him.' That's how you should do it. I tell you this so will learn, because you are young. I myself am beginning to grow old. But I still have a long time to live, because I have many friends outside, in my country. I often talk to them outside at night. I send them smoke. I do not forget them. I take care of them, and they take care of me."

What should we call this? Animism? Or pre-animism? The word animism hardly satisfies me since it seems that animism, as it has been described among certain primitive peoples, carries the idea of souls, of immaterial spirits. These souls or spirits can live in trees, in rocks, in animals. But their material dwelling place is not their only residence. They are not the tree itself, nor the rock itself. They are not even the essence of these. Basically they are immaterial beings distinct from the tree or the rock where they live. And I believe that if you pushed the concept far enough you would find, among all these people, the concept of a personal soul for every living man. For these people, every living man contains two things within him, two things which blend to form his ego. One is his material body, which walks, which drinks, which eats, which talks, which dies. The other is something subtle and inaccessible, which never dies. He feels this thing within him, he is sure of its existence, and he calls it his soul, his spirit. I believe this concept will always be found among those people with whom one also finds animism, as it has generally been described. 

Now, among the Achumawi one finds the idea of the soul, but it is very undeveloped. It is barely even present. What we find is really only its embryo. They have the idea of a personal "shadow." They call it the delamdzi. But it is not a soul, as we understand it, nor as the ancients understood it. It has nothing to do with breathing. It is something that leaves you during sleep.

Son-of-eagle, an old shaman, said to me: "You can hear it sometimes in the morning, just before you wake up. It comes from over the mountains. It comes from the East. It comes singing: 'Dawn is rising. I come. I come. Dawn is rising. I come. I come.'" Some time, if you are unlucky, your shadow might leave you. Then you are no longer alive. A man who has lost his shadow is said to be alive, but that is only an appearance. He is really half dead. He can last like that for a few days, even one or two weeks. It is very curious that this soul-shadow is made of light rather than darkness. The real word for casting a shadow is tinala'ti, whereas the word for dawn is delalamdzi, which suggests the word for soul (delamdzi). I call it the shadow-soul because the Achumawi themselves translate delamdzi by "shadow." But we must remember that their own subjective interpretation of their sensations is evidently very different from ours. Thus, judging from their language, it is not so much the black mass that they consider the essential phenomenon of the shadow (even physical), as it is the stopping of the sun's path. But I can't go into a linguistic discussion here, for that would demand too long an explanation of certain details of their language. 

So we find the concept of the shadow-soul among the Achumawi. But the Achumawi never imagine that these beings, full of power and of life, that they speak to — the trees, the animals, the rocks — they never imagine that these beings contain their own shadow-soul. I am absolutely certain of that, as I have asked many questions on the subject of young and old alike. They haven't the slightest idea that these beings could also have their shadow-soul. When asked about it they reply: "I don't know. Maybe so, because they are like us. But I never heard that. I never thought about it." No, what the Achumawi speak to is the tree itself, the animal itself... 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Jaime de Angulo, from Indian Tales

The next morning while they were sitting around the fire eating acorn mush and rabbit ham and little round roasted balls made from the nuts of the laurel tree pounded into paste, Antelope and Bear started to argue. Bear said, “I don’t understand how Coyote could make people as something new that had never been before, since he himself and Hawk and Flint and the Ducks and all the others were already people. That’s too much for me.”

Coyote Old Man just squinted and smiled and went on eating laurel-nut balls and rabbit ham, but Antelope said, “Aaah, you don’t understand anything. He didn’t say last night that his great-grandfather’s grandfather made people, he said that Hawk complained because there were no people.”

“Well, isn’t that just what I was saying? I said that you said that Grandfather said—”

But Fox Boy interrupted, “Why don’t you listen to the stories instead of talking like two magpies?”

“Well, what does the story say then, you smart boy?”

“How can I tell myself after you two have mixed it all up?”

At that Old Man Coyote burst out laughing and almost strangled on a rabbit bone.

“That boy is clever all right,” he said. But Bear grumbled, “You are so clever yourself, Old Man, well then, tell me why you say that you made people when there were already people.”

“Because I am Coyote Old Man. I am a very old man. I am a thousand years old. I KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENED AFTER THE BEFORE and before the after!”

Bear growled, “That doesn’t make sense what you say,” but Coyote shot back, “It doesn’t make sense to YOU because you are a young man yet, Mr. Bear. You are too young to understand.”

At that, Fox Boy started to dance. He whooped and yelled and sang, “Father is too young, Father is too young.” He took Antelope by the hand and they both danced around the fire singing, “Father is too young, Father is too young.”

Old Man Coyote got up and took the little baby Quail in his arms and he joined the dance around the fire. Bear growled, “Just a bunch of kids. I’m going to hunt rabbits. Somebody has got to do something useful in this camp.”

“Wait a minute, Father, I’m going with you.”

Antelope took up her weaving material; she had commenced a new basket. Coyote was watching her. He said, “Why don’t you weave in the Quail pattern?”

“I don’t know how it goes. Do you?”

“Yes, I’ll show you how,” and old man Coyote took the basket from her. His fingers went fast, fast, fast. Pretty soon you could see all the Quail running around and around the basket, black figures on the white background.

“That’s beautiful,” said Antelope. Coyote gave her back the basket and she continued weaving, but she had to go slowly because it was a new pattern to her and she often had to stop and ask instructions from old man Coyote. Coyote was rocking the baby Quail in her cradle board.

“I’ll sing the Quail song for you.”

                  Daaabo le eeema ma a…

*     *     *     *     *

Soon they were on the trail again, they were traveling along a valley. Fox said, “Mother, do you remember the last trip through here, and how we stopped at this same village of Hawks, and then we had an argument, Grandfather Coyote, you and I?”

“No, it wasn’t here boy. It was later on the trip. You have either forgotten or you are all mixed up. Grandfather was not with us when we visited the village of the Hawks. We did not go to his house till later in the trip. But I think I know what you mean. It was after Grandfather Coyote told us that same story about the Hawk Chief of the old days that you started the argument with him and me.”

Oriole said, “Aunt Antelope, do you mean to tell me that Fox was already in the habit of arguing when he was a little boy?”

Antelope laughed, “Yes, he was always that way.”

Kilelli asked, “What was the argument about?”

“Oh, it was about how could people be people and not be people at the same time. When Grandfather Coyote said, ‘That’s the end of the tale,’ Fox said, “Why, NO, Grandfather! the story is not finished. Your great-great-grandfather stopped the fire, and then he stopped the flood, and then he got new fire from the people in the South World, and then he got the Sun so as to have light to see by. But still there are no people in the world!’ Then I said, ‘What do you mean, there are no people in the world? Isn’t Hawk people? Isn’t Dove pople? and Rat, and Flint, and all the rest?’ But he wasn’t satisfied, he kept insisting that they were people, all right, and yet they were not people.”

Tsimmu looked at Kilelli.

“What are you laughing about, you White One?”

“Nothing, nothing. Oh, well, just that the same question has always bothered me too.”

White Bead asked, “What do YOU think, you Tsimmu?”

“I? OH, I don’t think anything. I am a WOLF!”

“That’s no answer!” said Oriole.

Fox laughed.

“You can’t trap that wild owl. Eh, you, give me that baby, she is too heavy for you.” And he swung the Quail on his shoulders, astride his pack.

They went on along the valley, tras… tras… tras. Fox said, “All right, go on laughing. We will soon arrive at the village of the Flints, and then we’ll see what you say about it. Are they people, are they not people?”

Kilelli asked, “Do you mean we are coming to a village where the people are supernatural beings?”

Oriole asked, “What do YOU know about it?”

He answered, “Not so much as you do!”

Everybody laughed. Tsimmu shouted, “He wins!! Throw the bones across…”

*     *     *     *     *

Fox Boy and Oriole were sitting by the side of the lake. Oriole said, “Fox WHAT did you DO to your tail.”

“What’s the matter with it?” asked Fox in an injured tone.

“Why, it’s so ragged—and it’s getting shorter and shorter… ever since you were initiated.”

“Oh, go on with you,” said Fox, trying to bring the end of his tail to the front to look at it. He was turning and turning around. He finally got dizzy and sat down, and Oriole burst into loud laughter.

“You had better not laugh, Miss. I didn’t want to say anything about it, but your wings have been getting shorter and kind of ragged. I have been noticing it.”

“Oh, have you, little boy? Well, let me tell you, we don’t call these wings any more. That’s just an old-fashioned word. These are arms. Arms, not wings, you understand? ARMS. Say a-r-m-s.”

“I don’t want to, I DON’T WANT TO. I don’t want to be a Man; I want to be a Fox.”

“Oh, the HA-HAS again. You are reverting.”

Fox was laughing. He said, “Seriously, Oriole, why did we grow up so fast? Only yesterday, when we began our story and I started to see the world with my father, who was then a real Bear. . . . ”

Oriole interrupted. “No, you are mistaken. He was not a real Bear yet, he was only a beginning of a bear, he was a person-bear. Now he is a bearman—I mean a man-bear… I mean…”

“Oh, keep quiet. You are getting me all mixed up again.”

“No, Fox, listen to me; I will explain. The man who is telling our story, it’s his fault, he has done something wrong with the machinery of time, he has let it go too fast. You see, he was supposed to take a million years to tell our story. The poor fellow, he is too old, he gets all mixed up. He should go and take a rest in the country for a while.”

“Oh, my, my, my!” sighed Fox, “the only thing to do is to start again RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING.” Fox looked curiously at Oriole. “What do you mean, a MILLION years?”

“Why, I mean an infinity of time, just as Tsimmu was telling in his story of the creation of the world. Don’t you remember? Ten times ten times ten times ten years, molossi molossi molossi tellim piduuwi. When Cocoon Man was floating around in nothing but air and fog he waited a million years for that cloud to come near enough so he could jump on it.”

“Yes,” said Fox. “Yes, just like Marum’da, who made the world and then he went to sleep. That’s an infinity of time, but it must stop somewhere—it can’t go on forever. It must stop somewhere.”

Oriole asked, “WHY?”

Fox thought a moment then he said, “I dunno. But listen, Oriole, what’s time anyway?”

Oriole said, “Why it’s ten times ten times ten times ten years. What else do you want it to be?”

Fox said, “I dunno. I guess it’s growing old.”

Oriole said, “All right, then, some people just grow faster than others. You know that yourself. Just as some people walk faster than others; it all depends on who is looking at it.”

“Why, Oriole, you are crazy. It depends on who is walking, not on the man who is looking at the fellow who is walking.”

“No, certainly NOT. Look at that man over there walking. He seems to be just crawling along, but if you were close to him, he would be going much faster. That’s the way with the man who is telling this story. Sometimes he is closer and sometimes he is farther away, so for him that makes us go faster or slower.”

Fox said, “Oriole, you drive me crazy. Now I don’t know whether I am standing on my head or my feet. It’s like that time when we first met you and your father.”

“Listen Fox, it is not I who started this idea that there was a man telling this story, it was you. For all we know, there is no such man.”

“Of course, there is not. I invented him.”

“That doesn’t prove anything. Marum’da invented the people, and they existed whether he liked it or not. Maybe you invented the man who is telling this story, so now he exists. It’s too bad, but now you can’t get rid of him.”

“Yes, I will. I’ll destroy him the way Marum’da did the people.”

“Then you know what will happen Mister? You won’t exist any more, because he is the one who is telling the story.”

“Oh, oh, oh, stop, Oriole!” Fox was holding his head in both hands. Then he laughed as he pulled Oriole to her feet and they both ran down the hill.