Plugs

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Life Is for Living, Plots for Burying Things in

by Trent Walters

[O]n the contrary, everything in it is both head and tail, alternately and reciprocally….  We can cut wherever we please…. Chop it into numerous pieces and you will see that each one can get along alone. — Charles Baudelaire, “To Arsene Houssaye”

It was that great modernist monk of the late fourteenth century, Baudelard, who first codified the principle of spontaneous generation.  He had stowed away a porcelain saucer of skunk meat high in a cupboard where no animal–including the human kind–could reach it.  In truth, he had set it aside like manna, afraid that one day the countryside would have scant meat if he and his fellow monks kept hunting as they had all that blustery fall.

A week later, as Baudelard dusted the cupboard, he rediscovered the meat, writhing with worms, and quilled his findings in a thirty-pound volume of accumulated observations.

Yet Baudelard was no one-trick pony of a natural philosopher who folds his hands and rests on laurels.  He understood this principle had to be developed to its fullest, for “To understand the essence of nature,” as he was fond of informing his fellow monks spraying a sibilant mouthful of his noon meal: day-old bread, goat cheese and wine, “is to understand the mind of God.”  So Baudelard cut worms at varying lengths to see if life might sprout again.

And, lo, they did grow full and wriggling blood-red with both head and tail intact, whichever was the original of which.  The confusion brought him to recall a minor poet friend of his, the Englishman Geoffrey Chaucer.  He had started a series of semi-bawdy, semi-humorous tales of wanderers mocking the Old English tales of heroes, using the vulgar, common English tongue.  Chaucer and Baudelard both saw the stories–pale imitations of Boccaccio–as best fit for lining refuse bins.

To test just how far the principle of spontaneous generation went, they took his original manuscript, mulched it, stirred in earthworms, water, and ink, and let the rotting mass germinate for several months.  Chaucer was probably over-eager and exhumed the manuscript prematurely.  The Canterbury tales were still unfinished and a bit raw, but Chaucer corrected the earthworms’ grammatical errors and found ways to punch up the bawdiness.

The triumphant success of Baudelard’s literary experiment, logically lead him to human beings as his next test subject.  The rest, as you know, is history–eternal glory springs from temporary gore.  Even now, a century later, Baudelard’s achievements remain the high-water mark of natural philosophy and letters.

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