Saturday, 7 June 2008

How the Antidelphoid Got His Name

Quitting my room, and hoofing it over the fence, I struck out meadowards from the old, rustic hacienda, and there upon the path I met that fine fellow Aristrocrates.
“Shall we wander down to the pool?” I posed, and so we crossed the meadow where four horse-folk were tending to the gastro-business of munching such tender field-fare as clover leaves and grasses. And let me say they looked well on it, athletic and sheen-fleeced. We sat a while near the pool, and after a time I asked Aristocrates to clarify for me what he was thinking.
“I’m studying,” he said.
“But I see no book,” I replied.
“I’ve just learned that Mr Bumblebee takes on average four counts to drink nectar from each buttercup, and though the stem bends under his weight, it does not break. That said, sometimes a petal or two falls off.”
“Yes,” I said, “a loosely attached thing, a buttercup petal.”
“Just now as the petal dropped he took a tumble. Mr Bumble took a tumble.”
“The petal itself was his platform.”
“Yes.”

Just then some unseen waterfowl-fellow akin to coots warbled ecstatic aquatic equistoquackic, rippling sonorous through the Ether of evening. Several creatures derive pleasure from warbling.

We turned our attention to the pool. A large gray carp was involved in a slow, gentle thrashing amid pondweeds.

“Fish,” said Aristocrates, “are an order of being that breathe in water but would drown in air, while we are of an order descended from fellows who long ago left the Primordial Waters and learned how to breathe in air, and now we would drown under water. There is also an order of beings whose descendants returned to the water, but who still breathe air. These are the Delphinoids.”

Aristrocrates looked contemplative and I looked with new wonder at the carp.

“I suppose,” continued Aristocrates, “that when the Delphinoid Folk have learned to breathe in water again, it will be the completion of some Great Cycle.”
“Shall they then be called fish?” I asked.
“By that very name?”
“I mean, should they be considered to be of the same order as fish, whatever name for that order is then in common or official use?”
“If they relearn the same method of water-breathing then they would have much in common with the fish. Yet some other name is necessary, because to eat a fish is natural for us, but to eat a delphinoid or its descendant would be the foulest of crimes against the order of nature.”

Bird chirps multitudinously formed a fruity canopy of dew drops in the air. Fruit dew, juice drops.

“May we perhaps call those fellows the Delphinofish Folk?” I asked.
“We may indeed,” agreed Aristocrates.
“Or just the Delphish,” I further suggested.
“Better still,” said my wise friend.
“And may we call that horse-fellow over there a Lithe-Cow-Small-Udder-No-Horns?”
“I think perhaps not, in that particular case, as for one thing he is without question a male-fellow, not an uddered one.”
“Oh good heavens yes!” I remarked. “Little doubt about that. In fact, looking at the fellow, we might even call him…”
“I think,” interrupted Aristocrates suddenly, “Horse-Fellow will suffice.”
“Oh yes! So it will.”
“We might limit our naming to things and fellows that don’t already have names, don’t you think, Quentin?”
I looked around for this Quentin fellow whom my colleague had addressed. Suddenly a patch of ground near where we were sitting moved. Something below was pushing its way up, mole, rabbit, or badger.
“Quentin?” I inquired, nodding at the soil movement. Aristocrates shook his head.
“Who then is this Quentin?”
“Yourself.”
“I? But that is not my name, Aristocrates.”
“Precisely my point.”
“Aha, a point well illustrated.”

We looked out across the meadow’s great crowd of yellow buttercups.

“Will you help me then, Aristocrates, to think of some things without names that we can name?”

He thought for a while.

“Well…we have not yet spoken of an order of being who might at some point live in air, as we, but do its breathing by diving into water, just as the delphinoids live in water but come up to air for their breath.”
“And what name would you give those?” I asked.
“Quentinoids.”
“Whyforth?”
“Because you rejected the name Quentin just now, so it is a name without a thing, and so is well coupled to a thing without a name.”
“But Aristocrates, there are fellows named Quentin.”
“I suppose so. But not Quentinoids.”
“Well, that’s true, but since you wouldn’t allow Lithe-Cow-Small-Udder-No-Horns, then there too is a name without a thing.”
“But that name would be more appropriate to something like a cow but more lithe.”
“Indeed, and a fish is more lithe than a cow, is it not?”
“True, but it’s not much like a cow, and what of the small udder and the no horns?”
“Few fish have horns to speak of,” I said.
“And udders?”
“No udders at all, as far as I am aware.”
“But a lack of udders is a very different thing to a small udder,” said Aristocrates.

In the West the Olympian cumulonimbaean echelons of the sky-realms glowed cream gold like the spirit of genius that illuminates the cerabra-dome of a mind in a genius state.

“Well,” said Aristocrates, “shall we agree to call them Lithe-Cow-No-Horn-Quentinoids?”
“Well, we could at least then be certain that the name was unique,” I replied.
“Or,” he suggested, “we might just call them the Antidelphoids, for while the Delphoids surface to fill their lungs with air, these fellows would dive down from air for water-breath.”
“I like that too,” I said.
“Which is it to be then?” asked my friend.
“Antidelphoids,” I said. “I like its succinctness.”
“Very well then.”

And that is the story of how the Antidelphoid got his name.

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