} the oracle comes to my room the next day. he holds my note in his
} hand. i thought he was gone for many days at the faraway villages by
} the lake, telling the tales. i think he is angry with me. or else he
} always writes to me back. he says it is good for me to read and write
} always. this is the way i learn.
} "Rebellion in the ranks?" he asks in his strange way.
} "you said you will learn me tellings," i says. "many tales. all i
} learn is THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID! i'm sick of it. it's
} the oracle thinks. "How to penetrate your vestigial intellect?" he
} asks. but he asks himself, not me, so i say nothing. "Very well, I
} shall set you a new task. Write down how you came to reside here with
} me. It will be a new telling: THE TALE OF KEVN, THE APPRENTICE ORACLE!
} This tale will explain THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID and,
} hopefully, much else."
} so i write THE TALE OF KEVN. it is good. it is a tale about me.
} maybe i'll tell it at many tellings when i'm oracle.
} i am kevn. i am from the village called stoneybridge, only the
} stoney bridge isn't there anymore. it fell down before i was born. now
} there is only a ferry run by josuf the ferryman and his son.
} the last winter is very hard. the food stores run out in early
} march, and three children die. when the young men come back from the
} far pastures, they say that many of the cows have died too, so the
} elders say we can't have a feast. the young men get drunk and have
} fights anyway. we are very sad and very hungry. but i am happy too,
} because i will be a man this year, not a boy anymore, and i will go
} with the young men to the far pastures in the fall.
} then april comes, and also the oracle, the teller of tales. he
} comes to our village for some days. he always comes in the spring, and
} it is a good time. all the people go after the last meal of the day to
} the big hall built by the sons of mari, and we all listen to the
} tellings. and the first telling is always THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT
} ARE STOOPID. i hate it, but the old people say it is very important.
} the oracle begins, "I speak to you of THE THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID!
} Remember them, so that you may not visit them upon your grandchildren
} and your great-grandchildren. I speak to you of INCOME TAX, which takes
} away that which you have earned by the sweat of your brow!"
} and the people sing, "it is STOOPID!"
} "I speak to you of ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION, which is responsible
} for the unholy mess your world now finds itself in!"
} and the people sing, "it is STOOPID!"
} "I speak to you of FLARED PANTS, which make you look a complete
} "they are STOOPID!"
} and so it goes on until bedtime. it is boring. i want a PROPER
} in the morning, before the sun goes up, i sneak out of bed and go
} to the hut where the oracle stays when he is at our village. i want to
} see if jenni is there. she says she only goes to take him food, but
} everybody knows she stays all night. i want to see what they're doing.
} i mean, i know what they do, but i haven't seen it.
} but jenni is not there. when i look in, the oracle sees me.
} "Something I can do for you, Boy?" he asks in his strange way.
} i think quick. "hey oracle, i come to ask," i says. "will you tell
} a PROPER TALE tonight?"
} "You are not, I take it," he says, "an avid fan of THE TELLING OF
} THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID. Care to elucidate?"
} "what?" says i.
} "Enumerate your objections. Why don't you like it?"
} "THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID is STOOPID!" says i clever
} "A not unassailable but clearly sincerely held viewpoint," says the
} oracle. "So you must be wondering why I kick off with it every year.
} Why, indeed? You realize, of course, that people did not always live
} the way you do now. Once they inhabited colossal cities, with houses
} reaching to the skies. Their ships ploughed the ocean wave, their
} majestic aircraft took hundreds of them at a time for a two-week
} vacation in Hawaii, their roads criss-crossed..."
} "i know all this," says i. "grandma told me."
} "Try not to interrupt me whist I'm in full flow, Boy," says the
} oracle. "It disturbs my equanimity. The point is, people had all these
} marvellous things, but they also had a bevy of eminently stupid ones
} like white supremacism, PCBs and daytime television. I have no doubt
} that your civilization will rise again one day, and your descendants
} will once again enjoy the benefits your ancestors did. I hope that, by
} means of THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID, I can help them avoid
} some of the idiocies that accompanied these benefits in the past. Do
} you understand?"
} "no. will you tell a PROPER TALE tonight?" says i.
} the oracle sighs. "Look here, Boy..." he starts, but i says, "i'm
} not a boy! i'm a man this fall. i will go with the herd to the far
} "What a ravishing prospect for you, to be sure. Very well, then.
} Tell me, my good man, what tale would you like to hear this evening?
} RUMPELSTILTSKIN? MACBETH? OLIVER TWIST?"
} "SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT!" says i.
} "So be it..."
} "and then PULP FICTION!"
} "I imagine that too can be arranged," says the oracle. "As a matter
} of idle curiosity, do you remember all my tales?"
} "i write them," says i proudly. "my grandma learned me." and, being
} honest, i add, "a bit."
} he looks at me strange then. "My, my, a scholar," he says. "Tell
} me, Boy - I mean - Man, have you considered alternate career options?"
} "what?" says i.
} "How would you like to become my apprentice, instead of just
} another brain-dead cowherd picking his zits in the far pastures half
} the year? The number of settlements in this catchment is increasing all
} the time; I could do with some help getting round them all."
} i'm real excited. "i will tell the tales?" i asks.
} "Eventually. You'd have to learn them first. Be warned, young
} fellow-me-lad, it'll be a hard slog. There are thousands."
} "thousands," i says. "is that many?"
} "Quite a few," he says. "Let's go and have a chat with your
} guardian, shall we?"
} and so i come here, to the oracle's manse. i do the housework, i
} practice to read and to write, and i learn THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT
} ARE STOOPID. i already know THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID! i
} want to learn new tellings! the thousands of tales that the oracle
} promised me!
} when he reads THE TALE OF KEVN, the oracle says it is a "reasonable
} approximation". then he asks, "Now do you understand the significance
} of THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID? Those who do not learn from
} history are condemned to repeat it. You see?"
} "no," says i.
} he sighs. "Ah well, perhaps in time... Okay, Kevn, you've been
} working diligently, you deserve a treat. Tonight, you'll learn a new
} i'm real excited. "what's it called?" i asks.
} "TERMINATOR TWO. It's right down your alley - buckets of gore."
} i can't wait for tonight.