Once upon a time, the planet we call Earth had two moons- they orbited the Earth while flirting with each other, one was Luna, the other, well, was Mani. They spent centuries yearning for each other. Sometimes, one would block the sun’s light from the other, and if they were honest, that was when they saw eachother the best. Over the years, they got closer... until they were close enough to touch.. Luna reached out to Mani, yearning, and the second she touched him, he turned to ash. All that’s left to remind her of him, is a huge crater on her dark side. Ever since, she orbits in self-exile, hoping one day, he’ll form again.
How the hippo lost its feathers
The mighty hippopotamus, is truely a prideful beast and not without good reason. it walks on land, and swims in the waters. no one will stand unmoved when it approches, no one can help but feel awed by their presence. But few today know that the pimply, leathery skin that hippos have in our times, was once adorned with a magnificent bloom of feathers!
Oh, to gaze upon the ancient beast! its plumage- a veritable flower garden of all colors of the rainbow and all shades and hues in between, woven intricately and breathtaking to behold. As the hippo strolled upon the land, proudly displaying their splendor, it was the envy of all birds, and the delight of all that looked.
What was their favorite shade of color of the hippo’s feather, was the question mostly occupying the time of the followers and docotees of the Hippopotamus; Some favored the magenta colored feathers of the hind legs, such as the ostrich. others like the giraffe, who had a good vantage point, preffered the royal purple tuft that embellshed the topmost of the back, in gentle round rings and spots.
peacocks often walked behind the hippo, hoping to catch a glimpse of the green and blue plumage, in the hollow between the rotund legs.
Oh, how they swooned and cried as they collected a rare fallen feather!
Oh, how those peacocks despaired, as they compared it to the blandness of their own showing!
The hippopotamus was not immune to the words of flattery and adoration, luxuriating in those sighs so joyfully.
Now, my friends, I’ll tell you, that maintaining such richness of feathers is a demanding occupation. Such a heroic struggle, was not carried out alone. Hippos are indowed with much in this world and many admirable attributes, but flexibility was never one of them. moreover, the lack of a beak made it difficult for the prideful hippo to preen his feathers with precision. fortunately, all birds were keen to lend a helping hand and the hippo chose the helpers from among these ambitious followers.
And chose the hippo did; A bird of great taste and elegance must serve it best, and so the honor was given to the crowned crane. these birds, modest in temperament, and tastful in their work, are known far and wide for the artful arrangment which decorate the top of their heads. never flashy, never presumptuous. just neat and pretty. The crowned crane was chosen thus, and since that time, would spend day after day, cleaning and tidying preening and arranging the plumage of the hippopotamus. And it did the task with dedication and grace.
One day, the savannah was woken to the cries of a large flight of birds, unknown in those lands. they had small , curved bills and as they flew, squaked and croaked. after much commorion the strange birds landed, beside the hippopotamus. it was being groomed by the crowned crane at the time, and their leader called out thus:
“Oh! to finally behold the great beauty of this world. we have travelled far and wide, my friends and I! it is surly that I am gazing now, upon the most exalted zebra! for no other creature is equal to it in beauty!”
“Zebra?!” asked the hippo, increadulous, “I am no Zebra. ”
“but you are so colorful and beautiful, it is surly you who are a zeebra. your reputation for beauty has reached us and we made this journey to see you!”
“friend, I assure you that I am no zebra. Zebras are charmless animals , with flashy black and white stripes, and no color to be found. they are but pattern-decorated donkeys and no more” explained the hippo. “as you can see, i am not lacking in colors nor in pattern. ” it concluded, and raised its tail feathers in full demonstration. it was a breathtaking sight.
“truly remarkable. ” explained the new bird. “perhaps we have misheard of your name, but you must be the one which we were seeking. if i may, allow me to introduce myself, me and my friends are parrots. ”
“And I am the great hippopotamus! ” said the hippo.
“Oh, truly we are lucky that we have had the opportunity to meet you. we searched far for a zebra, asking for it high and low, and never found one of your splendor, it is noe apperant that we were asking the citizens of this land for the wrong animal. of firtunate it is that we meet now! we were about to give up our search, and leave for our own lands, before the winter storms hinder our travels!”
“it is so!” exclaimed the hippo “very opportune. but I wonder why you would have heard of lowly zebras, when clearly it was myself you were looking for?”
“well. I am loath to cast doubt, and blaming others for my failing in leading my friends here, but it was a crane that told us of the incomperable beauty and color of zebras. ”
“a crane, you say?” demanded the hippo
“Yes! it is true. the cranes are those that told us of the magnificance of zebras. it is they. ”
The crowned crane, which was sitting atop of the hippo at the time, ceaselessly grooming the hindpart, did not make much protest. it was not in the habit of cranes to voice their thoughts, as they do today. the crane went on working, assured that the hippo valued its skills and loyalty.
but the hippo, though beautiful beyond words, was not subtle in thought. and as the parrots exclaimed of the lies spread by cousin cranes in their lands, its thoughts turned against the crowned crane.
″...the crane in our land is also a known idler. ” continued the parrot. ” they will not do their share of work, and are famous for a lack of imagination and taste. to be honest, as we stand here beside your magnificence, we couldn’t help but see a crane perched upon your back. are you aware of its precense?”
“I sure am. the crowned crane is the one chosen to groom my gentle plummage. ” explained the hippo.
“ahh..Chosen, I see, out of great pity and charity” remarked the parrot.
“pity? charity? what has pity portain to my feathers?”
“pardon me, oh pardon. I merely assumed that the choice was made by you, as a show of magnonimity. feeling pity for the poor, dilletant and artless crane. i see it now, standing over you hind leg, plucking away, letting feathers fall and loosen, neglecting patches entirely...but perhaps I am mistaken. forgive me. perhaps the fashion of this land is much different to what we knoe ” said the parrot “friends! ” it called on its allies and fellow travellers “we have travelled far, under the lies and misinformation of a crane, to see a zebra. having seen a far superior hippopotomus, though poorly treated, we must set about our way home. ” and the parrots took flight and began circling.
“wait! halt!” exclaimed the hippo. “do not leave in such a hurry. you have seen in the works of the crowned crane a fault. is it not? are there other faults in its labor?”
the parrots, landed again and their leader approached the hippo once more.
“oh. we have. seeing the ineptitude of the crane is easy for us as. we fly around. but the crane, is not without cunning at hiding its incompetence. it mostly trims the front, but treats the rear most neglectfully. oh, I fear that because your neck is short, you are unable to see the veritable wasteland which the crane has wrought!”
Notice, dear friends, that some of the parrots’ words were true. the hippo had never had occasion to see its hindquarters and the state of the plumage in those regions.
it now tried to stretch its head around, desperate to catch a glimpse of the ‘wastland’ which was so gravely reported on. having failed in this task, the hippo became anxious as to the condition of his feathers. he turned and thrashed, twisting and spinning, in the hope of catching sight of his misfortune. as the hippo did so, and fearing to be harmed by the violance of the movement, the crane took flight and escaped.
“you see?!” cried the parrots as the crane took wing. “the crane is fleeing for its life, for it was finally found out as the hack that it is!!”
with that , the hippopotamus stopped its convolusions and fixed its gaze on the crowned crane. the hippo’s eyes spoke of nothing but hate and loathing.
“and good riddance to old rubbish, I say!” exclaimed the parrot with great contempt, ” but lo! our magnificent hippo is left without a servant to attend his feather as befitting its grandure. what shall be done?”
to this the hippo was dismayed. it did not conceive of a possible candidate to replace the disgraced crane.
it stood in silence for a while , apparently lost in thought.
“most magnificent hippopotamus. ” said the parrot “you seem to be in a quandry. while we will not presume to impress upon you, it could be that we could offer a temporary relief to the task of attending your magnificant feathers. at least until you find a better replacment. ” the parrot explained. “I am no braggard, but my friends and myself are no strangers to the grooming arts. in our lands, we are known by many as the artful decorators of such beasts as the wool-crested crocodile, the long-plumed tortoise and the tufted-tailed tapir. I trust that you know of these animals. which we have attended to diligently in the past, though of course they do not compare with your grandure. ”
The hippo thought of this at length. it did not know any of the animals mentioned, but trusted that the parrot’s proclained acheivments were genuine.
“very well..., perhaps for a temporary appointment..if it’s not too great a burden” ascented the hippo finally.
“not at all! it would be our great pleasure and honor” said the parrot. it took off again, followed by its many allies, and they proceeded to land on the hippopotamus. soon they were hard at work.
You may expect, my friends, that the parrots had some hidden plans, to take the role that was now open to them as the new retainers of the lordly hippopotomus, having discredited the crane in such a way. Sadly , this is not a tale of ugly ambition: It was never the intention of the parrots to supplant the ardent and gentle crane. hence, they employed themselves with great care and masterly skill only in slowly relieving the hippo of its grand plumage. they took advantage of its inability to see much of its considerable body, and fauned over it, lauding it with tender admiration, whenever it felt the sting of plucking of a feather, or the coolness of its now increasingly exposed parts. within days, all but the few feathers that decorated the front of the hippo were removed and transplanted as the parrots’ own. as the hippo lost in grandure, so did the parrots increased in theirs.
The parrots’ banditry was finally noticed, when a pack of wilderbeast went by. the much awaited sight of the feather-bloomed hippo, was replaced by the shock of seeing the revelry of the parrots as they circled round and round the hippo, here taking a feather, there speaking softly in its ear of its wonderful preening.
honest and caring, the weilderbeast made protestation at the atrocity that was being committed.
Knowing that the theft was finally noticed, the parrots took wing at once and started off on their long awaited return to their native lands. they were greatly enriched by the many feathers they had aquired from the hippo and to this day, display them proudly.
Of course, the hippo knew no solace in the days that followed. as we know, it had lost most its great plumage and was ashamed and humiliated. in its great embarrassment it took to wallowing in the muddy banks of the river. hiding as best it can from all those many creatures, which had adored its feathers in the past. moreover, it felt particular shame, as to the rough treatment it showed the crane. it soaked and seeped itself in the murky waters, which sadly, doomed the last of its frathers, as they were gently attached to its skin and not suitable to the harsh conditions of the swamp.
Finally, it lost the last remenants of its glorious feathers, and stayed forever more in the waters. to this day, it spends its time, mostly submerged , with brief excursions to feed. those it meets on the way are treated now with great suspicion and distrust, even when they were former friends.
As for the crowned crane, it lives now, as it did before. though crowned cranes in particular, of all cranes tend to avoid coming into contact with any hippopotamus, as could very well be expected.
The Butterfly and The Moth
What most people don't know is adam and eve weren't the only pair to get kicked out of the garden of eden. Every living being in the garden had to adhere to the one specific rule in exchange for life everlasting in the beautiful landscape. Before adam and eve were even a thought in Gods mind the garden of eden was there and so were its insects. Beautiful creatures like the Kat zèl, a four winged insect who had the ablility to change the color of its wings to tell stories more ancient than itself. The Kat zèl was inticed by the tree of knoledge and wanted to tell its story as it had so many others before whether the knowlegde was forbbiden or not.
Once the insect partook of a leaf on the tree its head began to fill with stories both horrid and happy. Where half of the winged creature saw a love story the other half saw strife and sorrow. They were out of sync, and began to bicker over everything until they'd finally had enough of each other. They pulled and flew in oppisite directions of each other until they split into two different creatures. The Moth and the Butterfly, they were finally seperate with their own thoughts, the tree had given them the gift of opinion that comes along with knowledge and in exchange it took their peace, made them only half the being they used to be.
As they relized they were no longer able to tell the stories on their wings they tried to come back together but the tree had already taken its payment. So they weeped together and their weeping brought with it the wrath of the god who made them. I'm sure you can figure out what happened next in the unfortunate story of the butterfly and the moth.
The Beginning of Everything
Back in the depths of time....
“Alpha, I need your help.”
“What is it now, Dicktion? We’ve been friends a long time, but I’m busy. My 24 wives need a lot of feeding. You only have 6 wives, so it’s much easier for you!”
“I’ve been thinking about our language. I think it’s very important. We should find a way to save it somehow.”
“What do you mean, “save” it? We pass it on to our kids by telling them and they copy us. That’s enough, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know. Maybe things will be forgotten. Not everyone knows as much as us. I think it would be right to put it on something. Look, with this hard stone I can make marks on a soft stone. I think it would be right to somehow record our language on stone.”
“So you want to do ‘right’ on the stone? That’s funny! What would you ‘right’ on the stone?”
“Maybe I could ‘right’ the sounds we make. I’ve been counting them. I think there are 25.” I made the sounds one after the other and Alpha counted them for me.
“You’ve missed one. What about zzzzzzzzzzzz!”
“Oh! I hadn’t included that sound - okay 26!”
“I bet you’ll never be able to do it. I bet you my favourite sheep that you’ll never succeed!”
“Okay - you’re on!” We shook hands on Alpha’s bet that I couldn’t ‘right’ all the sounds in our language.
“I’ve been thinking about my wives and I have a problem.”
“What is it now? How can you have a problem with only 6 wives?”
“Well, I can never remember whose turn it is. I was thinking about setting up a routine - maybe see each one every day. Then maybe have one day off and repeat it.”
“You are really weak! You only have six wives! Why does it matter if you get the wives out of order? Just see them whenever you want. If you see them like that it will be a weak thing. I thought you were stronger than that!”
“I don’t know. Monn is my favourite wife. She is getting very jealous of all my other wives and I’m jealous of all her other husbands. I was thinking of getting rid of all the others and just having one wife.”
“Are you crazy! Just one wife! That would be monotony!”
“I don’t know - Monn ’n me alone might be special and we could really develop our relationship. At the moment, this is my routine. She is my favourite, so I should start the routine with her. So the first day of my routine I should call that Monn-day. The next day I cannot decide which wife to see, so that is Choose-day. The next day I see Wynn, so I guess that is Wynn’s day. The next day is usually dry - no rain - that is today - so I thought maybe Thirst-day. Then I see Penny...”
“Oh, Penny, she is REALLY scary! I don’t know how you put up with her! She frightens the kids whenever she walks past.”
“Yes, she is difficult. I was going to call the next day Penny’s day, but maybe Fright-day would be better.”
“I think so. But the day after that you usually sit around and don’t do anything - it’s your day off, isn’t it?”
I looked a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t want to explain to Alpha what I did on that day. “Maybe I should call it Sit - day.”
“So what do you do on that day then? Is it illegal?”
“Well I sit and...err...no I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I think you should call it Sit ’n err day then.!” Alpha laughed at his little joke.
“Okay - Sit ’n err day. Then the next day I spend with my sons, so I guess that should be Son’s day. Then I repeat my weak thing, as you call it and see Monn again on Monn day.”
“I’m worn out and thirsty from listening to your nonsense! Only one wife, that’s crazy!” Alpha laid back on the grass. “I am so thirsty I could drink the whole sky!” He said looking up at the blue sky, not a cloud anywhere. No sign of rain. He rolled over on his side and could see Bluebell the cow with her baby calves drinking from her teats. “Your babies are so lucky, Bluebell, with your milk to drink.”
“Yes, “Bluebell smiled at him and walked towards him, with the calves following close behind desperate to get some more milk. “That’s what mothers do for their babies, provide milk. Your mother did when you were a baby.”
Alpha crawled nearer to Bluebell and closely watched her calves drinking. “They really seem to enjoy it. I’m so thirsty, please let me drink some.”
“That’s horrible, Alpha, this milk is only for baby cows not for humans. Go and get your own mother if you want a drink.”
“Please, Bluebell, I’m so thirsty. Please let me drink a little.” Alpha moved closer and tried to grab one of Bluebell’s teats. She tried to move away but her calves were in the way and she couldn’t move far before Alpha grabbed hold of her and made to drink from one of her teats.
“Please don’t Alpha. If you do that I will never speak to you or any other humans again!”
Alpha grabbed her teat and started sucking.“It’s really nice, Dicktion, you should try it!”
“That’s disgusting, Alpha! How could you? And you’ve really upset Bluebell as well and she’ll never speak to us again as a result. You are really horrible!”
Alpha didn’t say anything and just laid on his back sucking on Bluebell’s teat, looking very happy with himself.
I spent much of the next two days chiselling as I wanted to win Alpha’s bet. Then, finally it was finished. I had used many stones and Alpha came to see my progress.
I showed him the result. “I have chiselled the 26 sounds onto these stones, what do you think?”
Alpha looked at the marks I had made and laughed! “They look like baby lettuces! What are you going to do with all your lettuces now?”
“I can put them together to make word sounds, but I don’t really understand the order or structure of our language.”
“Go and talk to grandma. She’s the oldest person in the village. Grandma will know how they should go together. Grandma’s always correcting our speech, so I guess if you want to get it right, do it according to grandma.”
“I’m really enjoying this challenge of recording our language. I think it’s really important for the future of our tribe, our society and everything!”
“You’re crazy, Dicktion! It’ll never catch on! Why would we want to bother with this right thing when speaking is so much easier? Where would you get all the stones you need anyway?”
“There’s loads of stones down Liber way. I could store all my sounds there. I thought maybe I could make a pile of sounds and call it a ‘book’. Then I could store all my books down Liber Way for anyone to borrow.”
“Nobody would understand the sounds. You’ll have to teach people. Nobody would want to bother learning as it’s pointless.”
“Maybe I could start with the kids. While parents are working I could teach the kids and play with them – give the parents a break as well and keep an eye on the kids at the same time.”
“The kids will not want to do that every day. They prefer playing around. It would be boring to sit in one place and listen to you every day.”
“Yes, I know, So I have a sign to show them where to sit – Some Come Here Only On 1 day”
“It’s good to have a sign – but do you think they will be interested in coming to S.C.H.O.O.1, even once? I doubt it will catch on. There’s nothing much to teach them.”
“Well, I could start with the lettuces and whatever Grandma suggests, then maybe show them how to do the ‘right’ ing and then maybe play with these stones. Look, when they are round like this they roll really well. Maybe they can kick them into the cave over there.”
“Why not have someone in the cave entrance trying to keep the stone out. You could call him the cave-keeper.”
“Sure, good idea! I tried playing this game with some of the kids the other day and they were so excited they kept bawling. I thought maybe I should call this round stone thing a bawl.”
“If they are going to kick it with their feet, then maybe the game should be called feet-bawl.”
I kicked the stone hard towards the cave entrance, but it was badly off target and hit the wall causing sparks which set fire to some leaves.
“Now you’ve started a fire, you’ll get us both in trouble! There’s no spare water to put it out!”
“But, Alpha, did you see what happened? When this stone hit the other stone it caused little sparks – maybe that’s how we can start a fire? That would be really useful if we could control when and where a fire happens, wouldn’t it?”
“What for? The weather here is nice all year round. Why would we want a fire to burn things? It’s too dangerous! You’re crazy. Just stick to your new career recording sounds from our language. We could name the new job after you and call it a Dicktioner!”
Event Zero: The Etiology of Etiolation
There was once, 5,122 years ago, a peaceful paradise in a part of the world dotted by volcanoes, and which from time to time shuddered when Mother Earth rolled over in her bed. The gifts she bestowed upon the people who lived there were too precious and abundant to reject and run from, however. These people took their chances living there instead of somewhere without the constant threat of a natural catastrophe.
Fruits and vegetables grew large and long there, there were precious stones and rocks with which they could both adorn themselves and make tools. Fish and game were everywhere, and the hillsides were covered with the herbs they so valued for their medicines.
The people lived tied happily to the ground beneath their feet and were thankful for the manna Nature granted them. They prayed to their thunder god and made offerings to him gladly.
When they weren’t busy farming the land.
It was sometimes so hard to say no to all that Nature offered them...
They lived high in the mountains where the air was pure, and next to a lake pure and clean under the shadow of high mountain peaks. The valley was surrounded by these peaks and teemed with every kind of flora and fauna one could imagine.
Then one day one of the volcanoes awoke with a pain in its gut. It groaned and shook and sputtered smoke into the sky. Red fire seeped out of its crater, and the people grew fearful. What have we done to incur the volcano’s wrath? they asked themselves.
Their neighbors could have told them what they had done, but they were not talking to their neighbors anymore.
To their horror, they watched as fire serpents from the volcano stopped up the runoffs the mountain streams had followed to two immense rivers to the South. The lake began to rise in the bowl they called home, and soon their settlements were engulfed.
Explosions began to tear at the fabric of the sky. Fire rained down on them, and many perished. The animals they had kept were also destroyed.
As the eruption reached a cataclysmic peak, they saw the image that would haunt all of them forever:
A figure rose from the crater.
The people were terrified. It was plainly visible even from great distances, and it was clear that the figure must be truly gargantuan.
Still it rose. Out of the crater and into the sky. Tall and erect.
At night the stony cracks in its side revealed the same red fire coursing through its body. It lit the creature in crimsons and yellows and oranges, and steam rose from its snout, pointed ever heavenwards. It was made of stone, living stone, stone alive with fire.
Nothing could stop the forces of the exploding volcano, and this creature was its lord and master.
Over a short period of time, the Tower rose to a stupendous height. Its image dominated the horizon, and none could take their eyes from it.
What does it portend? they asked themselves. Are we doomed?
One by one people were smitten by the rage of this fierce volcano god. The survivors ran for their lives but distance meant nothing. Time meant nothing. Their prayers meant nothing. Their supposed innocence and superiority meant nothing.
They asked what good their thunder god was, if even he had turned tail and was hiding.
The Tower had already reached the thunder god’s foyer. He was challenging the highest one directly! He threatened the thunder god’s wife! All of the gods seemed to be in hiding; none dared to challenge this menace from below.
Then the battle turned. The Beast was injured on a lower extremity, and threatened to crumble. Inspired, the thunder god rallied and hurled one lightning bolt after another at the dreaded creature. Finally, the Tower collapsed under its own weight, hurling a last hellacious death cry across the heavens. The thunder god buried it quickly under the mountainside and the people were again safe.
But were they?
Some doubted everything they had ever learned. Where had our god gone when we needed him most? they asked. Why had he let so many of our brothers and sisters perish? Why had he allowed our livelihoods to be destroyed? Did he really deserve to be top dog?
Maybe it was time to cast their lots with a different higher power? One from below and not from above...
They went back to tilling the fields, but much of the land was either scarred forever or under water. Plants barely grew because clouds from the eruption blacked out the sun for years afterwards.
They built new homes with thick walls to make them feel safe. Inside these walls, though, something was happening to these people. They began to feel as though they were privy to secret knowledge, and were therefore special. They spent hours upon hours, day and night, sleeplessly tossing and turning in their beds, racked by pangs of conscience and delusions of grandeur, endlessly asking themselves what they had done to deserve their fate and if they did not deserve better.
They could not put the Event behind them and wallowed in grief within the thick walls of their homes, out of the light of the sun. At some point the grief turned to rage, and these people lost. They lost their pasts, they lost most of their relatives, they lost their connection to a higher power, and, well,
It’s a simple, well-known and understood procedure in horticulture:
Because the eruption forever destroyed the lifestyle they had enjoyed for so long and forced them to move South down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, they lost touch with their roots.
Because of the lack of light both up in the sky and within the walls of their comfy homes, and because they no longer had to divert energy to their roots, thoughts exploded in their minds like the branches of an unhealthy tree; they had too many and they went beyond the borders of their own consciousness. They became tangled and knotted and they wasted so much energy trying to untie them they were always tired.
Some turned out to be productive: when they pondered how they could increase yields they came upon irrigation and drainage. When they pondered how they could convince their neighbors to donate lands to grow these increased yields upon, they were visited by Prometheus, who taught them first to smelt metals, and then all about the miracles of tin-bronze. The weapons they made from this metal transformed them into invincible hordes. When they needed proof of their own supposed excellence, they invented precession and mathematics, as well as astronomy. They built great pyramids that touched the sky like their Great Hero.
Some of these thoughts were less productive. Many of their women began to have some serious, paralyzing, terrible and fearful thoughts. Without solid ground beneath their feet where there roots could take hold and grow, and now with ample space within their own minds to stretch the branches of their imaginations, these women invented mental illness. Of course, their husbands were not immune either.
They would go on to believe that they were the most important beings on Earth, and never wasted a moment before trying to prove it.
They asked themselves:
How cool would it be if someone or something could really defeat the One Most High? The Tower had been so close...
And finally, because of the lack of light and their lack of desire to let themselves be seen (and healed!) by the sun, their leaves paled. They lost the color of their skin.
Nigerians call them Oyinbo-the people with the peeled-off skin. Natives in California called them “half-human, half something else.”
They raised a dream from the Earth below their feet, one that shone as brightly (in their minds) as the sun. And one that, strangely, caused cancer almost as though it were a real, radioactive sun.
They built the first civilization this world has ever known, and we call these people “Caucasians.”