Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Frog Literatus         [fable]


"Fundamentally, I am a frog," remarked the frog (who also typed those words).

"My fiction and poetry both reflect this fact," the frog added, by way of elaboration.

"As for non-fiction, I address some range of subjects, it's true," the frog allowed. "Still and all, froginess oftentimes comes to the fore. Even when ranging afar, a frog's-eye-view indubitably influences the subtext. Frogs, you know," the frog added, "have never developed a unique socio-economic philosophy. But in matters of esthetics (especially poetics and musical theatre), our contribution is well-known." The frog was perhaps thinking of his species' high fortune and celebrity in Indonesia and certain other out-of-the-way cultures. The relative neglect frogs suffered from humankind's characteristic general disregard, was an injustice (or at least a shortsightedness) the frog had long since come to accept (for frogs are famously happy-go-lucky fellows).


The frog, at any rate, having written so many words on his archaic manual typewriter (he was not fitted out with electricity in most seasons), felt satisfied for having usefully filled the better part of a lily-pad-page. He liked the sense of eloquence a filled-out lily-pad tangibly bespoke.

Up beside a certain fir tree (not so far from the riverbank), the frog had stacked a careful collection of his writings. This lily-pad, too, he added to the pile.


It was late on a Friday night. The frog felt the urge to croak.

The stream was flowing nicely. Probably it was raining, somewhere upstream? The image of rain never failed to move the frog. He sang first a dirge, then a ditty, then finally a lengthy saga, reflecting on the feelings frogs harbor for rainwater.

Yes the stream was flowing nicely. Certainly rain somewhere upstream! The waning crescent of a moon finally appeared over the eastern horizon. The frog knew several lunar tunes as well, and began to sing one.

  I   "More than blue"
  II   "Hearing the sound"
  III   "The gladness"
  IV   "What I know"

[Initially posted on Caferati here.]

note on illustrations: frog images borrowed, w/ thanks, from these respective sources (hereby acknowledged by means of hyperlink): frog #1, frog #2, and frog #3.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suddenly, the frog heard a faint cry. "Help." The cry grew louder. "HELP! HELP!" He saw a tiny ant trying to cling to a nearby floating leaf. "The world is drowning!" the ant yelled. "The frog snorted. "What do you mean, the word is drowing? YOU are drowning, not the world." The ant sputtered, "BECAUSE,when I drown, the world for me will disappear, so it's as if the world were drowning. What kind of question is that to ask at a time like this?"


Sat Feb 25, 08:20:00 AM PST  
Anonymous ArchanaD said...

hahaha why the sudden affinity to a frog? or is it a prince in disguise searching for his princess? :P

Sun Feb 26, 08:27:00 AM PST  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

an interesting question. I don't think the answer is limited to that simple fairytale -- for me it goes a bit deeper than that. Indeed, the inner life of frogs is a thing in itself. And this particular (imaginedA) frog persona -- I don't think he is hankering to leave the frog realm really; he is, instead, carrying on a somewhat human-like life in his own frog universe. That's not to say his existence could not be wildly interrupted in the manner you suggest. But such things are fundamentally beyond the purview of a frog.
No, if I recall the story aright (and that's unlikely -- but I'll not let that stop me in narrative stride), the frog who was kissed and turned into a prince, was in fact a Prince to begin with, merely suffering under a dewitchment, no? I don't see such a mythology to underpin this frog-bard's thinking or existential stance, no.

It's a likeable question even though the answer happens to be non-affirmative. And I've only composed 2 little songs for this frog-poet so far. (I wonder if more may follow.)

Every creature (every form in nature -- mineral, vegetable, insect, or animal) has its own qualities and ways of blending what (as humans) we think of as "thought" and "feeling". At the moment, the frog's gestalt became interesting. Initially, the idea arose as a sort of fabulistic response to a (in a sense theoritical) question raised on the Caferati board about the life and views of a writer, versus the writings themselves, as two different levels into which one might inquire. This narrative of the frog-writer spring up as a mode of thinking thru, or riffing on, that general theme. But it hopped off into its own imagined life, and perhaps continues there pleasantly. Yes, at the moment, I'm liking it. ;-)


Sun Feb 26, 10:10:00 AM PST  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

ps -- and thanks, Kendra, for recollecting that good tale.


Sun Feb 26, 03:44:00 PM PST  
Blogger ~River~ said...

Oh! A new look! (I've been reading you through my feeds and not been visiting. My bad). I like it! :)

The poem is amazing and reads beautifully in TAE.

Tue Feb 28, 05:05:00 AM PST  
Blogger ~River~ said...

Damn. The above comment should have gone for frog song: I. This is what happens with simultaneous readings.

Tue Feb 28, 05:07:00 AM PST  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

ah fine River -- I'll duly consider it frog-song-directed. And thanks for noting & liking the new look around here. ;-)
What's TAE stand for?
Glad you've gotten thru your Beckett marathon (and can thus pay some mind again to we lesser mortals).

Tue Feb 28, 10:59:00 AM PST  
Anonymous fingertree said...

TAE as in The Accidental Elephant where I read the Frog Poem and Literatus!Great Fun, many thanks!

Tue Feb 28, 08:09:00 PM PST  
Blogger balihai said...

i thought i had read the word 'fable' somewhere on the main caf menu. finally the search brought me here.
love the story. made for fun reading. does he have more adventures?

Wed Mar 01, 07:43:00 AM PST  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Fingertree -- of course The Accidental Elephant. ;-) my bad.

I do hope the frog will share with me a bit more of his life and thoughts. So far there are two poems -- samples of his songs [see entries above, in this blog, for those]. I'm waiting to see what else he has in store.
The other "fable" I've composed fairly recently, by the way, is this one: The Princess and Her Chapati Bird [that points to where it is; pardon minor hyperlink-hopscotch of it]. If and when the frog literatus appears in further installments, I'll plan to update the Caferati thread. Thanks meanwhile for liking... I'll let the chap know (rather primitive system of messages we have going, involving floating downstream... well the technology is a bit arcane.]

Wed Mar 01, 09:30:00 AM PST  

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