Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chapter 14: Phobia

This morning, while drinking juice and enjoying the morning rays, I spotted an insect scratching across the floor.  It looked truly iniquitous, with horns and spikes and ebony coloring, like it was perhaps from the seventh layer of Hell.  I chased it, because I knew that Mote would find great pleasure in eating such a strange find.

Once within my grasp (I handled it with a sheet of my writing journal; I wasn't about to touch it,) I approached the Frog dwelling to put the Morsel in.  With fear and disgust on my face, I found the three Frogs anticipating its arrival, quite Undaunted.

I found the three Frogs quite Undaunted

Round and about they chased it, the Morsel devilish in its abilities to scratch away from the Frogs, until Peaseblossom, by a turn of luck, came within range to Snatch and gulp the Morsel.

Peaseblossom Snatched and gulped the Morsel

After the fray ended, Mustardseed looked up and questioned me.  He asked why I was so afraid of the Morsel, it being so miniscule while I was so gigantic, powerful, and lumbering in comparison.  I replied that it was a Ghastly Fiend, that it looked terrible, and that it would have scared many other Men, and that in fact I was perhaps low in my amount of Phobias in comparison to other Men on this Lily Pad.

Mustardseed then asked me to define Phobia.

Under his disapproving eye, I went to my dictionary.  The Frog asked why I consult That Book so much for the legitimization of my words, and why hadn't I become a little more Frog-like, forging my own path to communication Froggity.

Before reaching Phobia in the dictionary, I briefly looked for Froggity, which I could not find.

To my chagrin, the definition was not quite what I remembered, or at least hoped for.  I read aloud that a Phobia is the distress or embarrassment at having failed or being humiliated.  I then realized that I was looking at the definition of chagrin, and not Phobia.   I excused myself, and promptly read the definition for Phobia, reading that it is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

Mustardseed sat motionless for a minute.  I could see the ramifications sorting in his Mind.

The Frog said that he now saw what the word meant.  He thought neither definition did it justice, but perhaps the combination of the two could point to the true meaning of the word, for nothing Men do is without constant fretting about the acceptance of other Men, who may be halfway across the globe, or yet to come, or even long dead, and that surely this social arena is the only place where Phobias truly harm Men, because of each Man's Phobia of being perceived to have a Phobia, which is much stronger than the man's original Phobia.

I was about to tell him that those were in fact two separate definitions of two separate words, when he interrupted and asked me about my Phobias, which ones I had or perhaps which I had conquered since meeting the Frogs, except for of course my social Phobia, which I would Do Well To Discard.

I said that I had a small Phobia for strange and slithering insects, though I could pick them up with Not-Me objects, and also a fear of Heights, called Acrophobia, which has been identified, classified, and catalogued in Man's great Bank Of Fears, which is perhaps the most organized and well-kept Bank Of Knowledge in Existence. 

I looked to the other side of the Dwelling and glimpsed Peaseblossom, who was throwing all of my peculiarities at me, with bravery and spryness, by climbing high onto the Dwelling's walls, the Fiendish Morsel still wriggling in his Frog belly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chapter 13: Peaseblossom

For the past few days, Mote and Mustardseed, upon seeing me, reminded me of my promise to provide a Morsel that was as delicious as cake for their birthday.  

On the evening of the 19th, I brought with great anticipation a present home to Mote and Mustardseed.  Upon returning, I found my friends at the edge of their Dwelling, pent with anticipation at what treat I had chosen for them.

I reached into the box and snatched it.

Up went their heads.  Out came my hand, closed.

Frog-feet tensed.  Eyes scanned.  

I could feel it squirming.  I lowered the present into the Dwelling.  I let go.

Frog-fast, my friends lunged and battled over the Morsel, wrenching and writhing, like Achilles and Hector.

The Morsel made a noise.  The Frogs froze.

It tastes like Me, said Mustardseed with a full mouth.

It seems awfully Big, said Mote, lolling her words.

The Morsel croaked.  The Frogs looked at each other.  They let it slide out of their locked maws.

Out came a small Frog, clay-colored and spry, with two green spots on his back that looked like epaulets.  He looked left, and then right, and then said that his name was Peaseblossom, and he demanded to know what was going on.

Peaseblossom demanded to know what was going on

Mote looked at me with incredulity.  She had been looking forward to Morsels.

I said that this was the best kind of gift, and that birthdays were in actuality about all of the people who know the person who is becoming a Fuller Frog, and that a Frog without friends is certainly not becoming Fuller.  I said that I had learned this recently, and that this was my motivation for providing them with a new friend. 

Looking at me, Mustardsaid said that the Dwelling seemed a little Crowded.

Mustardseed said that the Dwelling seemed a little Crowded

Mote seemed agitated, but summoned some words.  She hopped over to Peaseblossom and said that she was glad to meet him, and that her name was Mote.

Mote said that her name was Mote

At that moment, I opened a large bag over the opening of the Dwelling, in an effort to give the three companions something.

Peaseblossom's jaw dropped.  Mustardseed smiled.  Small insects fell from the bag, as many as there are stars in the heavens.  Awed and inspired, Mote's mouth moved with precision, singing:

My Haiku, my Haiku,
My Haiku is coming true!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chapter 12: Armor

While reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to my Frog friends today, Mote did a quarter-turn, looked at me, and asked me to pause in my reading.  I obliged.

Mote said that she was particularly curious about the passage that described the Armor of the green knight, and its function, and also if there was any coincidence between the knight being green and most Frogs being green.

I replied that Armor was used by knights as a kind of defense against the blows other knights and monsters, like Polyphemus, and that any knight that wished to live to see the next Morsel must wear armor to insulate himself from the wear and tear of battle.  I said that the armor being green was perhaps simply a coincidence, but I doubted not that Frogs had Thick Skin, which is a great compliment among Men, and that Frogs must be proud of their strength, toughness, and sturdy insulation.

Alarmed, Mustardseed raised himself onto a lily pad and said, peering at me, that I was wholly incorrect about the skin of Frogs and that, in fact, it is very thin and porous, as to allow the Frog to use the wet to breathe, and also so that the Frog can stay attuned to the alchemy of the wet.  He went on to say that Thick Skin was also a term among Frogs, but was in fact a strong insult, implying that the Frog was Insensitive, a dire term, tabooed under almost all circumstances, because Frogs value their sensitivity above all else, and also, why don't Men boast about their Sensitivity.

I was Baffled, and looked at Mustardseed for recompense, but my request was returned with a stern gaze and fiery belly.

Interjecting, Mote said that, indeed, Frogs are the tools of measurement for the purity and cleanliness of the Lily Pad, and that many places, polluted by chemicals created solely by the insensitivity of Man, were running very low on Frogs because of the Frogs' sensitivity.

Mote said that many places were running very low on Frogs

Looking at the thick skin on my arms, and seeing their argument, I apologized to the Frogs for calling them thick-skinned, and said that perhaps knights and Men would learn something by shedding their Armor, which helps against the severity of the world, but perhaps has too many Side-Effects.

Mote and Mustardseed smiled, extended their Frog-feet, and said that I was a good Frog to have around, and would I please change their water, as its stagnant alchemy was starting to irritate their Thin Skin.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chapter 11: Paradise

This evening, I read Paradise Lost to my Frog friends.  During the animated discussion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Mustardseed asked why the Lord created the two humans.

Baffled, I stumbled for an answer.  Fortunately, Mustardseed continued.

The Frog said that the whole situation reminded him, in fact, of he and Mote in their dwelling, a green garden with plenty of delights, yet contained in an strange and curious way.  He pointed out that the similarities ran deep, with a creator and two spawns, except for the point that the Frogs were on equal footing to me (their "creator") in regard to knowledge and perception of the Lily Pad.

I applauded him on his literary acuity.

Mustardseed turned away from me, toward the inside of the Dwelling, and asked, furtively, why I decided to take he and Mote home with me.

Mustardseed asked why I decided to take he and Mote home with me.

I looked, mind searching for an answer, at Mustardseed, and in this interval learned Something New about the Frog.

Thinking and stumbling for a few moments, and then finally achieving clarity, I said that I was perhaps not a complete Frog, one that loves the words in books but cannot draw quite enough warmth from their papery pages.  I also stated that I felt that the papery pages that I create were an extension of myself, but were, alas, just papery pages and that I needed a sentient and animate friend to continue the extension of myself that the pages started, an avatar or two that continued myself through their being and not just their saying.  That, perhaps, I wanted them to be me, but without myself directing their actions, so that they might suggest things to me, about myself, that I had not considered.

Mote gawked at me, Frog-brows raised.

Mustardseed said that he did not know of this limit on writing and the papery pages, and that, being a journeyman writer, he was glad to know that he was provided for, as far as being company goes.

The three of us remained silent for a moment, each enveloped in our own thoughts.

Mote added, finally, that perhaps my reason for wanting Frogs was also the Lord's reason, in Paradise Lost.

I was about to elaborate on this interesting and rare point from Mote, when I was interrupted.

Blurting, eager, Mustardseed said that the Lord would have had less trouble corralling the Frogs from certain Trees and Fruits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chapter 10: Birthday

Today, while talking casually with my Frogs over some milk and biscuits, I lightheartedly brought up that this was the month of my birth, and that I was with expectation looking forward to the celebration of my Birthday with my family and friends.

Mustardseed raised his head and asked if I was discussing something relating to the concept of Time.

I replied that I was, but that this was perhaps the most delightful part of Time, seeing oneself become a Fuller Frog, alongside his friends and family, and also eating a cake, a Morsel for Men.

Mustardseed immediately became interested, and wondered at the date of his birthday, since the development of Frogs has many stages, from egg to fertilized egg to tadpole and on to froglet and Frog.  He said that perhaps this whole endeavor should be celebrated, like a religious or holy holiday, when not one small event is celebrated but instead a long and continuous period, punctuated by Morsels.

I asked them what period or season their birthday Advent took place.  Neither Frog knew.

Trying to narrow down possible seasons, I asked them if they had seen snow or ice.  Neither Frog had a concept for these.

I asked them if they knew anything at all that could be used to measure the Time that had passed since their coming into this world.

Annoyed, Mote voiced her opinion about Time, and about its absurdity, both in its anti-function on this Lily Pad and the possibility of such a thing Existing.  

After saying this, she paused, looking into my eyes and empathized, and then said that maybe a certain Fact would assist my calculation.  Glancing quickly toward and away from Mustardseed, she said that she had eaten, in her time, one hundred and thirty-two Morsels.

Mote said that she had eaten one hundred and thirty-two Morsels

Mustardseed added that he had eaten one hundred and seventeen, and two other unidentified Things, which he was not sure counted to his Total.

Baffled, I decided that I did not know when their Birthdays were, or if they should be celebrated as long periods or as single events, and decided that I should propose something to them.  I told the Frogs that since the length of their birthdays was disputable, and that the exact day of their birth was unknown, perhaps we should pick an arbitrary date and give it special meaning simply by calling it special, and celebrate their births on that certain and special day. 

Mustardseed said that it sounded a lot like Assimilation into the culture of Man, and reaffirmed that he was never going to fall into our Time-Trap.  But he said that Frogs were ever trying to Bridge The Gap, for the good of the Frog, and perhaps also for the good of other Froglike Men.  He said that he liked this idea, and asked what I could do to secure a Morsel for the Frogs that was as delicious as a cake, which sounds so much like Cricket.

And after waiting a moment, thinking, and quarter-turning, Mustardseed asked, with Frog in his eye, which day during this month should be made their Birthday.

I proposed that it should be the nineteenth, which is the same day as my Birthday.

Smartly and aptly, Mustardseed agreed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chapter 9: Rage

Achilles and Hector

Rage.  Of rage I sing, and of Achilles and Hector, who purvey its destruction.

The tension expanded to fill the Dwelling.  The combatants stood opposite each other, stances wide for stability, Frog-ready, bellies arched to reveal flaming skin.

The air was aquarium-humid, a stifling combination of heat and Wet.  Achilles and Hector circled each other, each waiting for their opponent to misstep or falter.  

A stillness came upon the scene.  Wet trickled slowly out of the filter.  The plants stood still.  Achilles hesitated.  Hector spied an opportunity.

A Bound sent Hector through the air, ambitious in the moment, Frog-bent on victory.  Big Achilles met Hector, with a staunch hop, grappling him mid-air and sending the heroes tumbling into depths of toil and wet.

They tumbled, a hurly-burly of Rage, fire, and skill.  Belly-to-belly, an even fight, they exchanged pointed and planned blows, each working a strategy to fell the other.

Advantage passed from one to the other, and back.  Heads against Tails, Cold against Heat, Fire against Water,  Diablo versus Satan--these were the only comparisons for the fight--the warriors were evenly matched as any in the dusty books of history.  

Up onto the log the battle went, to the pinnacle of the Dwelling, Glory shining from each stroke of the exchange.

Victory.  That indecisive and fickle word.  That Clever Cricket, that evasive Morsel of Fate and Chance, persisted in its fleetingness as much in this fight as ever before.  With each Snatch, Lunge, and Smack, Victory danced, a drunken fairy, fleet-footed and evasive, favoring first Hector and then Achilles, and finally coming to rest...

A misstep, a minor miscalculation, was the Opening of Pandora's Box.  Hector, master of the spear and the sword, lost his balance for the briefest of briefs, a Frog-foot dangling off the edge of the log.

Achilles, The Runner, Gluttonous for Glory, exploited this providence.  Throwing his weight Full-Frog at Hector, he grasped for Frog and Glory.

Slime.  That other word, that thing which is on every Frog, chaos-inspiring and slippery, had a death-grip on the Wheel of Fate.  Like Achilles' coating of water from the river Styx, Hector's Frog-Slime brought him victory and fame.  As Achilles grasped for Hector, Slime threw the wheel of Fate, spinning it round, so that Hector was at the golden zenith and Achilles suddenly at the Depths of Despair.

And so Mustardseed's hands slipped, and he fell Full-Frog off the log, into Wet and sham`ed defeat.

Mote stood, Imperious and Victorious upon the log, and ribbited a Yawp, resounding through the Dwelling and Beyond. 

Such was one of many games played today, by my Friends.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Chapter 8: Room

Today, over a glass of orange juice, Mustardseed asked me about Writing, and in particular how to Become Motivated to write.  

I said that it was often hard, because sometimes such Grand Events as the Battle of Achilles and Hector or the Ride of Apollo won't inspire one Word, and sometimes fail so much as to instead Despire.  I also said that the Gods are sometimes cruel, granting a great beam of inspiration while the Writer is not possibly able to write, and also sometimes when the Writer is ready and situated for writing, they will suck him Bone Dry.

Mustardseed did a quarter turn, looking into the expanse of his Dwelling, and said that he had not heard of these events, but he knew what I was Getting At.

I also said that occasionally it is very easy, and that a small Mote or speck of a thing will inspire Volumes.  For instance, I had derived great inspiration from two small and very Versatile creatures.  I went on to say that a Frog must have a certain calmness, with space sufficient for the mind to wander: the more space, the further away the mind can get.  This space also allows for a Clear Prose and an Inventive Spirit.

Mustardseed looked through his tubular log, as if it were a spyglass through which he perceived his Dwelling.  

Mustardseed looked through his tubular log

Or perhaps he was seeing the Lily Pad of Man beyond, or perhaps even further than that, while his feet perched in the calm water behind his humble figure and magnanimous visage.  I thought that I saw a Twinkle in his eye, and he said, very cryptically to me, that Perhaps there is Room Enough.

Mustardseed said that Perhaps there is Room Enough

I was a bit unnerved by the Frog's impetuosity.  He looked so self-assured that for a moment I thought myself under his influence, my body in a Dwelling, with Mustardseed the Keeper.  I also thought briefly that I should perhaps obtain a larger Dwelling for the Frogs, but it occurred to me that this was perhaps not what Mustardseed was Getting At.

With an innocuous smile and a Frog-foot lifted to invite my embrace, he said he would like to compose a message or possibly another Haiku to my Friends, whom he sees from inside his Dwelling.

Reassured, I reached to him, saying that I would be pleased to Extend his Words Beyond the Lily Pad.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chapter 7: Time

When I arrived home from a Frog Lecture this evening, I found my Two Familiar Friends waiting for me, intently peering out of their Dwelling, looking as if they had a question or perhaps an observation.  I sauntered to their Dwelling and made myself comfortable, lifting their lid.

Mote quickly began by saying that she and Mustardseed had heard me often refer to Time, as in my discussion about Writing, and how it reaches to other Frogs and Men through the expanses of Time.  She said that she could not move herself to see the idea with her mind, and was curious as to What I Meant.

After much thought about how to present the idea of Time to my Frogs, I started by saying that Time is a form of measurement, or a Way of Knowing.  After Doing Some Research, I said it is the indefinite and continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, or future, regarded as a whole and continuous Thing.

Mote said that this explanation Did Not Help.  

Slightly frustrated, and a bit incredulous, (for what I gave them was straight from a Dictionary) I thought of an analogy for the Frogs.  An excellent idea came to mind.  

I said that since Frogs must always stay Moist, to keep their skin Liberated, they must, at regular intervals, Bask in Wet.  And in between these Basks, there is an interval, a longness, a period, during which their skin becomes dry, forcing them back into the Wet.  This longness is called Time, which Makes Things Happen, and punctuates Events, and measures out the day, driving the world of Frogs and Men.

Both Mote and Mustardseed said that my example was interesting, and stimulating for the mind, but was a Bit Absurd, and that the idea sounded Impossible.  Quite like traveling faster than the Speed of Light, Mustardseed said.

Or of the Reaching of Absolute Zero, added Mote.

Or of Dividing By Zero, said Mustardseed.

Or even the Concept of having Zero of Something, again said Mote.

For a moment, I looked between the Frogs, hunting for the sign of a Joke or Prank--a stray glance or crass snicker.  I found neither.  The Frogs were adamant.

I went on to say that Time is surely possible and most definitely a vital factor in the Lily Pad and the Universe, that they would do well to Conceive of it, and that the only Place (if it could be called a place) where Time may not exist is Beyond A Black Hole.

Mote lifted her head emphatically and said that Perhaps Frogs were Beyond The Black Hole.

Mote said that Perhaps Frogs were Beyond The Black Hole

Frustrated, I gave up, and cooked myself dinner, using clocks and many ways of Timing to make my meal.  I am convinced that the Frogs simply cannot wrap their minds around the idea of Time, and I am anxiously curious how they make sense of the events, memories, and Frogs of their lives, without a narrative mechanism such as Time to keep an order to it all.  Perhaps theirs is a different method, for any other explanation would be Ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chapter 6: A Rare Frog

This afternoon, while eating a large and mediocre lunch, much like a Cow with his Cud, I peered into my Frogs' dwelling, hoping to obtain some Distraction.

Mustardseed was making his weekly rounds, ensuring that the Impossible Barriers Persisted Yet.

His Rare and Unique weekly practice reminded me of a Thing I'd Heard today, that in a place called Costa Rica, a Rare Frog had been found, which was the first to be found of its kind in twenty years.  I told this to my companions, asking what they thought about so rare a Frog Find.

With only tertiary and fleeting comments, the Frogs continued with their tasks, Mote Gazing and Digesting and Mustardseed testing another Impossible Barrier, stretching his long Hind Legs and flailing his Wee Front Legs, belly-out against the Glass.

So again I engaged them, this time asking if they thought that they were themselves Rare Frogs. 

Mote crouched, at an incline, upon a Stone in the tank.  I saw her Thinking.

Mustardseed approached closer, put one Frog-Foot upon the stone, and said that he did not Believe So, because he remembers many other Frogs, from the place of his Conception, that looked very similar to him, but were perhaps of a slightly different Pattern or color.

Mustardseed said that he did not Believe So

To this, I replied that this was true, and that, however, he was a very Smart Frog, knowing More Than He Thought He Knew about the world, and that this was sure to Set Him Apart, especially among Frogs, who spend most of their time thinking about Other Things.

Mustardseed said that he Liked That, but was not sure that A Smart Frog constitutes a Rare Frog, because there are many Frogs who know many things, like the Ins-And-Outs of Bugs, such as Mote knows, and almost Certainly others who have Mastered the Alchemy of Moistness.  

Without delay, he asked me if I were a Rare Man.

I was immediately Baffled, and stumbled about with my words, eventually saying that No, I was Not, and that Rare men tend to be Famous, or Well-Seen, or Well-Remembered across the Lily Pad.

To this, Mustardseed blinked, touching his Frog-Toes together, side-to-side, down his Fore-Foot, as a cascade, which has become his recent Habit.  He did this on both Fore-Feet, one after another.

Mustardseed said that he was not sure about this Either, and that surely some Rare Men had been forgotten, or were simply Shy Men of whom few took account.  Stumbling with words, but stating Earnestly enough, he went on to say that The Bug Web of Rare Men was perhaps Wider than we Think, and cited as an example my Accident in not mentioning the Rarity of a Frog like Mote.

Mote climbed into the Water, and, remembering Mustardseed's previous comment about Mastering Moistness, said that she would like to Chance It.

I finished my Cud, feeling very much like a Cow among many other Cows, all chewing their Cud, except perhaps that This Cow knew Two Frogs.