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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4055 - 4058

 4055. Would cows and goats standing in fields just to the left of a big battlefield have any ideas about how to predict the outcome of a conflict?

 4056. The answer is no. The cows and sheep might even be surprised, amazed, and even filled with consternation, at the sudden onset of a huge conflict.

  4057. “What on earth do those people yonder think they are doing to each other?” they would have wondered, mistaking some big historic battle for the preparation of a cannibalistic feast day. Cows and sheep would only understand the cutting off of heads as something one does when preparing dinner.

4058. All species of birds however have an entirely different perception of human events. It is their great good fortune to be able to view everything from above and at a great distance. Consider for a moment how this special birdlike ability relates to predicting the outcome of battles.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4051 - 4054

 4051. The first thing in the morning he related the dream to the Rooster and asked the Rooster for an interpretation. You must not find it strange that Otis would go to the Rooster for an insight into the meaning of his dream, at least not if you have been reading this narrative from the beginning.

 4052. Consider for a moment the word, ‘Augury.’ Augury refers to the practice of predicting the future by interpreting the flight of birds. This function was so important in ancient times that a special priest was appointed to carry it out. Individuals or City States undertook no important acts, without the advice of the Augur.

 4053. Certainly the activities of many species of plants and animals could have been used instead of the flight of the birds. The ancients might have consulted the crawling of worms or snakes instead. Perhaps they would have found the mooing of cows insightful; or the bleating of the sheep might have given them precious insights into the future. 

4054. Upon reflection however, it becomes obvious why it was the birds whose actions were found to contained important information. The most important time for knowing the future in the past was the anxious minutes before the onset of a battle. Now, I ask you, would worms or snakes have any special insight into the outcome of a battle?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4047 - 4050

 4047. Finally Otis could stand it no longer and made haste to run out into the audience with the intention of doing some mischief to the blind, deaf man, but when he arrived where the man was sitting he found that he had somehow turned into the Blacksmith’s Boy. The Blacksmith’s boy was saying something to him that sounded like a reproach.

 4048. After the boy had replaced the blind man in Otis’ dream as the only person in attendance, a few crows landed in a nearby tree and proceeded to disrupt the performance further with their cawing. The noises the crows made were like the applause of the blind man in that the sounds had no relationship to the actions of the play. After a while the crows settled down to roost as they always do, and became silent and attentive.

 4049. The Blacksmith’s boy seemed to concentrate on the play with rapt attention, but his face betrayed the fact that he could not understand the dialogue he was listening to. Regardless of the action in the play his face was immobile like a mask.

4050. At that moment in the dream Otis was overcome with grief and a confused feeling gripped his soul, and everything seemed to become gray, faded and confused around the edges, and with a feeling of foreboding he woke up with a start.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4043 - 4046

 4043. The blind man’s instructors neglected to explain to him how he was to determine when his various actions were to be employed, and they were content to have him practice his part on Otis’ play as an audience member, regardless of the appropriateness of what he did.

 4044. They were sure that in time the blind deaf man would somehow figure out when he was to do the various things he had been taught to do.

 4045. So the play began, and the actors had learned their parts perfectly; every nuance and every inflection was delivered with precision, and the one audience member had also learned his part, and did his actions with enthusiasm, but it was all a dream, a dream taking place in the head of Otis the wolf.

 4046. At first everything went according to plan, but by accident. The blind man shouted ‘bravo,’ after great speeches, and even turned his head aside and shed a tear when a young girl was deserted by her friends and family after a false accusation, but it was all a lucky accident. Soon he was standing up and calling for an encore when the first act had not yet been completed, and then he proceeded to throw tomatoes at a most inappropriate time in the action.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4039 - 4042

 4039. Finally one person entered the amphitheater and sat down in the front row and prepared to watch the play. There was only this one person in attendance, but the decision was made to go on with the performance. 

 4040. This one single person who was in attendance was a very strange sort of man. He had numerous disabilities that disqualified him from being able to appreciate Otis’ play. First of all he was blind, and also he was deaf as well. He was therefore unable to see or hear the play, and what he was doing there nobody knew for sure. 

 4041. He was anxious to attend the play however; and had been given instructions by some persons about what was expected of him as a spectator. He was very much in need of instruction, because he had never attended a play before, and he was anxious to do his part in the audience, to the best of his abilities.

4042. This is what the blind spectator had been told. He must stand up and shout “Bravo,” if he was profoundly moved by any action. He was to shout, “Boo,” if he found fault with anything the actors did. Loud laughter was expected of him during certain long pauses in the dialogue, and if he felt the acting was inferior he was to throw rotten fruit at the stage, as well as assorted vegetables.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4035 - 4038

 4035. That night Otis had a vivid dream. He dreamed that he was a playwright and his play was to be preformed for the first time in a great outdoor amphitheater like the Greeks and Romans were fond of using for their plays.

 4036. Otis’ play had been sold out, and for a long time no tickets had been available. All the characters were excited for the first act to begin but just before the curtain was to rise Otis was distracted by a stack of correspondence he had to read through. 

 4037. Hundreds of letters and notes were stacked upon his desk in the wings of the theater, and each one was some person’s cancellation combined with an apology for not being able to attend the evening’s performance.

4038. Some of the notes were short abrupt postcards offering no explanation, but others were long letters containing flowery and mawkish apologies. This was a dream, and like so many dreams, Otis had to read and reread the notes for long hours on-end while the actors waited restlessly in the wings uncertain what they were supposed to do.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4031 - 4034

 4031. He could see that all of the complexity of the actions of the roosters, and all of their training having to do with their performances after they died was almost certainly lost on the audience it was supposed to affect. Obviously there were poets, playwrights, and authors who utilized the actions of the birds in a metaphorical and symbolic sense, that was true.

4032. But even if an author mentioned the actions of roosters in a figure of speech for example, that was still nothing remotely like a real appreciation of what the birds were doing. Otis was struck by the absurdity of expecting to ever be recognized for the things he knew in his heart he was capable of.

 4033. He said to the Rooster, “For thousands of years you roosters have been performing your profound death dances, and yet in all that time no person has ever given you any credit for them, even if posthumously. If your actions, so replete with meaning, go unnoticed and unrecognized, what hope is there for me, and the humble things I hope to do in my life.”

4034. “Perhaps you are howling up the wrong bush,” said the Rooster. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4027 - 4030

 4027. As much attention we roosters and chickens give to the act of running around with our heads cut off after we are dead, still, none of us can ever know for sure what it is really like, because while we are doing it we are already dead. It is for this reason that we have to learn all the movements in advance and practice them till we can do them almost without thinking.

 4028. We roosters have always been aware, since ancient, even prehistoric times, of the importance of our actions on human beings. We know, for example, how often we are mentioned in literature. Who else has the honor of being used as the symbol of the dawn, the symbol of the beginning of every day, and therefore the symbol of all new beginnings?

 4029. “But more importantly perhaps, our running around after we die is the only way anyone has of imagining that life goes on after death, if even in some terrifying and repugnant way.” Thus the Rooster ended his explanation of the reason why he had been running around in the Fowler’s yard, and although Otis found the explanation interesting, still he seemed to be unable to concentrate, and kept looking around distractedly as the Rooster was speaking. 

4030. Otis was not losing interest however, even if he was distracted. He was struck by the connection between what the Rooster was saying, and his own predicament. He wanted to continue with his career as a theatrical performer, but he knew that human audiences would never begin to understand the content of his performances.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4023 - 4026

 4023. Tragedy and pathos are not allowed either. The running of the chicken must not elicit any tears or any feeling of sorrow. We are after two things with our running, and those two things are terror and horror, that it what we are trained to create in the heart of the viewer.   

 4024. Years ago other effects were tried. The Babylon roosters tried for a long time to give the impression of a formal military look as they were a part of a martial society, but it never seemed to create the right effect. Greek chickens sometimes tried a formal dance movement carried out slowly, similar to a slow-motion ballet. It is believed that it was very effective but today no one knows for certain what it looked like.

 4025. The only way we know about the Greek rooster death dances is because it is mentioned in one of Euripides lost tragedies, but scholars are not in agreement about it.

 4026. Roman chickens were the first to formally adopt the effect of terror overlaid with horror and fear. This is quite understandable seeing as the Romans liked to employ realism in their art. Consider their use of the death mask; by casting the face of the dead into plaster, and using it to model portrait sculpture, they unflinchingly faced up to the frightfulness of the subject.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4019 - 4022

 4019. When the Fowler fell over backwards and thumped his head on the ground, I was quite sure that the sound I heard was simply my head being separated from my body.

 4020. We are taught from infancy what we are to do when our heads are cut off, and in our schools, even from the first grades we are drilled in the technique and have to practice it in front of our school masters. 

 4021. Not only are we taught that we must run frantically around and up and down, but great stress is laid upon just what sort of running around we are supposed to do. Running around in circles is strictly forbidden, neither are we allowed to run around is figure eights, or any other repeating patterns.

4022. The running of the dead chicken has to be random and erratic, it must be as unpredictable as possible. This is simply because any kind of geometric pattern, would seem to suggest that there is logic in the experience of death. Perhaps there is logic in death, I do not know, but if there is, we chickens and roosters are not supposed to give any intimation of it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4015 - 4018

 4015. “Why?” said Otis, once their were united, “Why on earth were you running around in the Fowler’s yard like a chicken with your…”

 4016. “Like a chicken with my head cut off?” said the Rooster, finishing Otis’ question for him. “You see,” said the bird, “I was convinced that my head had, indeed, been cut off, and once a chicken or a rooster thinks his head has been cut off, what follows for the next few minutes is not under his control.”

 4017. “I had my head down on the tree trunk. With my left eye I could see the Fowler’s hand with the axe up in the air about to come down, and with my other eye I was looking at the rings on the tree trunk.” 

4018. “You can be sure that at that moment I was not giving any thought what-so-ever to the age of the tree and to how many years it had been allowed by its maker to shed it graceful shade upon the earth. Neither was I thinking about whether a Rooster has seven or eight rings in its scrawny neck if it is eight years old. None of those thoughts occupied me it that time.” 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4011 - 4014

 4011. But a bird has eyes on opposite sides of his head for a reason. What a bird can see with his eyes arranged in that way I can hardly imagine, and added to that, they have the tendency to twitch their heads back and forth every few seconds. I presume that with the combination of the eyes seeing two different things at once and the tendency to twitch the head back and forth all the time, they must end up with a continually confused notion of their bird-brained universe.

 4012. This much was certain, the Rooster saw Otis crouched in the woods at a distance with his left eye, and he saw the Fowler with the axe in his hand out of his right eye. He had no time to think about the picture he saw, he just set off running as fast as his little crabbed feet would move his awkward fat body.

 4013. Nature, in the form of a tree root, intervened to save him from the Fowler, and a few minutes later he was safely reunited with Otis in the depth of the woods. Years later the Fowler would explain how he had torn his Achilles tendon on a tree root chasing a Rooster around. That was the story he would tell to explain his limp, and his need to walk with a cane. This story always elicited laughter from all his listeners, but not from the Fowler himself. 

 4014. The Fowler from that day on would go through life cursing the Rooster and swearing to avenge himself on the bird and the bird’s relatives, never for a moment giving the Rooster the benefit of the doubt, seeing as he was only trying to save his skin, which, as you know, is one of the best parts of a chicken. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Otis Escapes, parts 4007 - 4010

4007. The Rooster did not run away however. Otis had fled into the woods and he assumed that the Rooster would be right behind him, but he was wrong. Once he felt he was a safe distance into the woods he stopped and looked around, giving the bird a moment to catch up to him. 

4008. But the Rooster was still just a few feet from the Fowler who had not yet regained his bearings. The bird was furiously running all over the place, up and down the encampment and even right over the Fowler’s body. He ran over the axe and into and out of the fire, he overturned a pot of  boiling water and nearly scalded himself. 

4009. Suddenly he came to an abrupt halt and looked all around as if in a daze, as if in a profound moment of philosophical reflection. He looked up at the sky, down at the ground, and if you were watching him you would have sworn that he was either in the throws of some euphoric moment, or about to have an epileptic seizure, or both.

4010. While the bird was so self-absorbed and lost to the land of the living, the Fowler regained his footing, picked up his axe, and began to advance once more upon his feather covered dinner.