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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, 2020 - 2023

 2020.  When the Rooster explained the fact that he would have his head chopped off at dinner time a kind of steely light began to glow in Otis’ eyes, and there was something about that look and the silence of the wolf that said to him that his fate might somehow be otherwise that he expected.

 2021. But when evening came the fowler made dinner of three of his many pigeons, and gave hardly a look at the Rooster. Of course roosters had other uses he knew, but such a fate seemed too unlikely under the circumstances. When the fowler was in the back of the wagon picking out the pigeons for dinner, he also had a look in on Otis, untied him and then felt his fur all over in a friendly way, but in that same way the old vet had petted him.

 2022.  It was an examination. The Fowler was looking for scars, evidence of deadly fights, the signs of broken and healed bones. He found nothing. Otis’ skin and fur were as pristine and as healthy as any lap dog in the care of a wealthy old lady. There were no bite marks on his neck at all. The Fowler, like the Rooster drew all the wrong conclusions from these observations.

2023. Late that evening as the birds in their cages began falling asleep one by one Otis and the Rooster began to hear peculiar sounds outside of their wagon. It was a sound similar to a carnival or a drunken wedding reception being held far away in the woods to the north of their encampment.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 2016 - 2019

 2016. Finally, amid all of the confusion, Otis’ eyes fastened on a darkened corner in which he made out the form of his friend the rooster, and he was greatly relieved to see him. The rooster was a bird, and so Otis imagined that he would be able to completely explain their predicament. In this he was partly correct. 

 2017. From listening to the conversation of the birds in the cages the Rooster understood that they were in the clutches of a fowler. The fact that he himself was not in any cage and was free to roam about the floor of the wagon clearly indicated that his fate would be the same as all other roosters. He was most likely to be used for dinner. The rooster was stoic about his fate as any bird would be.

 2018. His greatest concern was for Otis, what did a fowler want with a dog. Obviously a dog could be sold, but the Rooster thought otherwise. He thought about their skit, were they engage in a cock and dog fight, and he had a feeling that something of the sort was in store for Otis. He explained all there was to explain about the birds in the cages and how they were as a rule sold as pets. He explained also how most likely he would be running about without his head in a few hours.

2019. But the Rooster said not a single word about the idea of dog fights. He was under the false impression that Otis was actually afraid of roosters and he had no reason to think otherwise. But there was one thing that altered his idea of Otis.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 2012 - 2015

 2012. This discrepancy of value did not affect the cheaper bird’s attitudes toward the expensive ones simply because they didn’t understand the distinction. A sparrow was not in any way impressed that a certain sort of rare finch would sell for two grams of ultramarine blue pigment.  To a sparrow a Goulian Finch was just another sparrow with very outlandish taste in clothing. 

 2013. The reason the birds were all talking economics that morning as Otis listened to them was because now that they were being put up for sale the economic situation of the time had a direct bearing of their fate. The question was, would they be sold as pets, taken home and made much of, or would they be pushed into an oven along with some bread and made into a bird sandwich.

 2014. This was a legitimate concern of both the sparrows and the pigeons even though they were relatively cheap. Poor people often will eat birds whenever they can get a hold of them, but they are just as likely to put them in cages, grow fond of them, and finally go into debt and practically bankrupt themselves bringing the poor birds over and over again to a veterinarian because the poor thing is plucking out its feathers. 

2015. There was one bird not in a cage and not participating in the discussion and that was the rooster, Otis’ rooster.  The rooster once made famous by the sketch in which they confront each other in a ring and the rooster drives Otis into a corner where he has to beg in mock terror for his life. How prophetic that skit was they had no idea at the time.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 2008 - 2011

 2008. The crows pretend to be interested, and will dredge up pieces of conversation and observations they have heard by eavesdropping on other pigeon discussions, but it comes across as insincere and forced, just like the friendly drunk in a bar, who sidles up to you and spouts pleasantries, but in his eyes you can see his desire to stab you if he can just dream up some excuse.

 2009. The conversation of the birds in the Fowler’s wagon was of an entirely different kind. These were wild birds who had never been in cages before and it took them several weeks to get over the shock and the terror of their situation, and after that to figure out exactly what their situation actually was. Many of them were birds of very rare types, the sort sought out by a fowler on the look out for valuable and colorful birds. 

 2010. For business purposes, when the fowler had empty cages, he filled them up with sparrows and pigeons. Sparrows and pigeons could always be sold for something, and it was best for display purposes that the cages all be full so that the chattering would draw the attention of costumers. In the van as they traveled it was these sparrows and pigeons that were doing all of the talking. 

2011. The rare and expensive birds had almost nothing to say and held aloof like aristocrats who find themselves in low surroundings. After a few days at an annual fair they soon figured out their situation: they were for sale to the highest bidder, and they were very expensive birds. The sparrows and pigeons on the other hand, were worth next to nothing. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 2004 - 2007

 2004. Although Otis could not understand what they were saying, the subject of the argument was business and economics. The question of the state of the economy, problems of unemployment, the price of grain and cereals as a rule hardly ever came up in bird conversation. If you see four of five sparrows having a chat in the yard as they peck around here and there, you will hardly ever hear them talking about stock prices or the cost of gasoline.

 2005. Almost always they talk about the weather, that is their favorite subject. After that they like to discuss the berry harvest and the state of the fruit at any one time of year. Talk of blueberries often will lead to talk of famous harvests of the past, and certain years that are considered high points in bird history, as far as berry harvests go.

 2006.The subject of harvests sometimes leads the old timers to recall periods of drought and famine, but talk of disasters is very discouraged in the bird community, and heard most often among the old when they get together on a banister by themselves. Only the crows indulge a morbid sensibility, cawing at length about the year of our Lord 1220 when it did not rain for 97 days on end.  The crow population dwindled from 46 million down to 46, and those 46 were very unhappy birds.

2007. But crows are a culture to themselves, and they will hardly ever put a caw in when they hear bluejays or sparrows talking about their favorite foods. Crows will sometimes talk to the pigeons, but although they seem to get along, it is an illusion. A crow may perhaps put in his two cents when four or five pigeons are conducting a criticism of a piece of statuary, but the pigeons know for a fact that no crow is really interested in the aesthetics of sculpture.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 2000 - 2003

 2000. Even though birds are in the habit of talking all at once, and each will try to speak louder than the others, nevertheless this does not prevent them or conducting their affairs in a civilized and cultivated manner. At the end of these loud arguments they always reach a consensus which anyone can see because they become suddenly silent, and then all of a sudden, as if at a given signal, they all fly away quietly at once.

 2001. Then, to celebrate the unanimity of their councils they will soar and dive in great circles in the air.  They  fly as if instructed by a master choreographer, each one of them attuned to the movements of the other to such an extent that thousands of them can drop two feet and veer down and to the left as if they were part of one gigantic organism ruled over by one mind. Such is their harmony in flight. 

 2002. They experience a joy there is no equivalent of in human experience. People get a glimpse of it if they watch a ballet, and marvel at the subtle precision of the movements of many persons on a stage all kicking a left leg up in the air. But that apparent harmony is possible because somewhere in the wings is the director who has drilled his performers to death to get them to appear to be moving in harmony. Actually they usually all want to kill each other, and lynch the choreographer. 

2003. But the birds have no director, perhaps they accomplish it because they love each other, and no one of them wants to be more important than another. Their movements seem to say, “You go first, no you," all instantaneously. But in Vince’s wagon they could never resolve their discussions and so their argument went on and on.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 1996 - 1999

1996. I think not. There sufferings are like the sufferings of the three stooges in our time, a suffering we only want to laugh at, a suffering which becomes more and more comic the more hopeless the situation becomes. They will be all right in the end. Though they are stupid, they will live to a ripe old age because God loves such characters and likes to keep them around as long as possible;  if God has a sense of humor, which obviously he must have, considering the things he has been doing.

 1997. Later that day Otis awoke to find himself bound and gaged in the back of a large canvas covered wagon which was being pulled by two horses. In the dim light the canvas admitted to the interior of the wagon Otis could see thirty or forty bird cages of all shapes and sizes which were thrashing back and forth with the motions of the wagon.

 1998.  The poor birds were in the middle of an intense argument amongst themselves the subject of which was difficult to make out because before a bird could finish a sentence the  wagon would hit a rut in the road and the said bird would be thrown from his perch violently to the bottom of his cage. Added to this was the fact that the birds seemed to be trying to talk all at once, like drunken conspirators at a secret political gathering before a revolution.

1999. Even when the wagon came to a halt for a short while Otis could hardly figure out what the argument was about with all the screeching going on at once, and even if they had been able to speak one at time, which as you know, is completely against their nature, Otis was unfamiliar with the various dialects.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 1992 - 1995

 1992. When morning came the three comedians slept very late and awoke to find they were asleep on the bare ground in the middle of a vast field that the previous day had been a fairgrounds but now, since it was late Monday morning, was completely deserted. All that was left of Vince the Fowler’s tent were the holes in the ground where the poles had been. For several minutes they could not figure out what had happened.

 1993. After repeatedly calling out for Otis over and over again it slowly began to dawn on the three of them that both Otis and  the rooster were missing. Even with that realization it did not cross their minds that there could have been any foul play. They expected that any moment their dog would appear from around a corner caring in his mouth something fresh for breakfast. As for the rooster, they didn’t even give him a thought.

 1994. The problem was that they had no comprehension of the value that Otis represented to their troupe; that is how dense they were. If Otis went missing, or if the rooster met with misfortune they imagined they would simply replace the two of them at the earliest opportunity. How wrong they were about this they were never to understand, even when attendance at there performances dropped back to pre Otis levels. 

1995. Even if they had an idea going in search of Otis or the rooster it would have been difficult. They were in a town called The Five Corners, so named because it was the intersection of five highways. This was the reason it was the location of so many fairs and festivals. These three comedians, whom we have never even bothered to name, now fell on extremely hard times. Perhaps their suffering was a just punishment for not having appreciated Otis and the rooster more.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 1988 - 1991

 1988. Vince thought up a way to waylay the owners of Otis after attending their performances. He could see how important the roles of the wolf and the rooster were, so he suggested to them that they might be interested in a talking Parrot he had for sale. He built up his description of the parrot, but not so much that they would expect too steep a price. Everyone was invited to his tent where he lived when he was doing business in the  town. They all sat down to dinner, the parrot also.

 1989. Like most Parrots, he repeated phrases as the spirit moved him. Anyone could see that he had no idea what the words he was saying meant. But  the fact was that what he said often accidentally seemed to be curiously related to the topic of the conversation at hand. The explanation for this, according to Vince the Fowler, was that he was recognizing words and phrases from the conversation that reminded him of something in his past, and sentences from that past would come blurting out. 

 1990. Anyone with a real knowledge of birds and their intelligence would have serious doubts with that theory, but we will not disturb the story to pursue that line of argument. Suffice it to say that the parrot seemed to be unusually keen, observant, and intelligent, even if everything he said was just an odd coincidence. 

1991. He was so smart in fact that the theatre troupe, Otis, and the rooster soon suspected that the fowler would never part with him for less than half a pound of ultramarine blue at the going rate, a sum of money none of them was likely to see in a lifetime. But by the time they realized the situation it was far too late. Vince had drugged their wine and their food, and before long everyone was fast asleep on the floor of the fowler’s tent.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 1984 - 1987

 1984. I will attempt to describe the man who kidnapped Otis. He was not a very nice person. In all of the characters I have had to describe this is the first one whom I do not care for. Perhaps he has some redeeming characteristics but at this point I do not know of any. I will have to describe him in reverse, by telling you all of the things this man was not, for example, he was not at all like Leonardo da Vinci.

 1985. Leonardo was tall and handsome, and Otis’ abductor was short and ugly. Leonardo could play the lute like a troubadour, but this man could only hum out of tune. For now, since we do not know his name we will call him Vince, after the man he was so unlike. He was the opposite of Leonardo in that he could not paint or draw anything, and his conversation was not interesting because he stammered, and could never finish his sentences without repeating himself three times. 

1986. Leonardo had a long and flowing beard, and Vince only had a few warts with crooked hairs sticking out from them. Vince and Leonardo had this one thing in common. Leonardo used to follow ugly deformed people around town and do drawings of them on the sly, and Vince looked like one of Leonardo’s drawings. Leonardo used to go to the marketplace and purchase birds that were for sale in little cages. Once he purchased them he would set them free. 

1987. Vince used to catch little birds, put them in cages and then sell them, when he did not have them for supper, because Vince was a fowler, that was his business.   People usually purchased birds when times were good and they had extra money, but when times were bad the price of birds fell, and they were sold for food instead of companionship.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 1980 - 1983

 1980. I can imagine that Homer when he was composing his story might have gone to his teacher to ask for advice, and the teacher probably would have said, “Put in some more lines about Argus in your story, don’t have him die so soon.” 

1981. Let him even have his part to play in the slaying of the suitors, because mark my words, he has a small part, but he is the star of the show, and the only character sure to produced those sudden unexpected tears in your listeners eyes, at that moment when they realize that after twenty years, it is only the dog who truly recognizes his old master.

1982. But about Otis, his fame was his undoing because in those audiences who watched him preform there were often people who turned over in their minds how they could profit from Otis’ talents. Not everyone can appreciate a well constructed play, or a part skillfully acted.

1983.  There were those who admired his well defined anatomy and the deftness of his movements, and wondered to themselves how to exploit his skills, and  they were not thinking of his pulling a sled, or guarding a barn, but of prowess in the ring of the fight. So in do time Otis was kidnapped in the middle of the night, and the traveling actors never saw him again.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 1976 - 1979

1976. In the old days he used to be taken out by the young men when they went hunting wild goats, or deer, or hares, but now that his master was gone he was lying neglected on the heaps of mule and cow dung that lay in front of the stable doors till the men should come and draw it away to manure the fields; and he was full of fleas.

1977. As soon as he saw Odysseus standing there, he dropped his ears and wagged his tail, but he could not get close up to his master. When Odysseus saw the dog on the other side of the yard, he dashed a tear from his eyes without Eumaeus seeing it, and said: “Eumaeus, what a noble hound that is over yonder on the manure heap: his build is splendid; is he as fine a fellow as he looks, or is he only one of those dogs that come begging about a table, and are kept merely for show?”

1978. “This dog,” answered Eumaeus, “belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead and gone, and the women take no care of him.

1979. Servants never do their work when their master's hand is no longer over them, for Zeus takes half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him.” So saying he entered the well-built mansion, and made straight for the riotous pretenders in the hall. But Argos passed into the darkness of death, now that he had fulfilled his destiny of faith and seen his master once more after twenty years.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Snare Of The Fowler, parts 1972 - 1975

1972. “I understand your concern about Otis,” said the Duck. “When last we looked in on him he was becoming the most famous wolf of the middle ages. But what became of him you do not know. I agree that the fate of the dog, or wolf if you prefer is much more important to us than the combined life histories of all the other characters in our story.

1973.  I am not going to draw any conclusions from that so as not to aggravate Dr. Buboni here. But the truth is, the fate of Otis is more important to us than the entire biography of Giotto, no matter how many paintings he painted, or perfect circles he drew.”

1974. But, although Otis became famous there is yet a more famous dog in literary history. The most famous dog in all of human history never did a single thing, and is renowned simply for his dramatic and moving death. I am talking about Argos. The dog Argos does not have much of a part to play in Homer’s Odyssey, but his role is so important that I am going to quote it to you, it is only a few lines as you will see.

1975. Homer, The Odyssey, Book 17, l7. 317-360: As they were speaking, a dog that had been lying asleep raised his head and pricked up his ears. This was Argos, whom Odysseus had bred before setting out for Troy, but he had never had any enjoyment from him.