Monthly Archives: May 2019

Walking Countre-5-60-7 Into the Centre: Slogan Time!

The Tenth Meeting of the Mariposa Hunt Club (hunting the wild Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice), recorded this 28th day of May, 2019, began with a debate. The date is significant, by the way, because it marks the end of the second month of the Leacock Anniversaries, which began March 28th, the 75th anniversary of his death, and will end December 30th, the 150th anniversary of his birth. In between will come a re-writing of The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice in time for its 100th anniversary. The Mariposa Hunt Club knew all this, of course. I am simply reminding you.

The debate concerned the nature of the Centre of the labyrinth. Is it a ring in its own right, or simply an extension of Countre-5-60-7 on the way in, and Clockre-9-60-7 on the way out, according to the naming scheme previously adopted? All agreed that in either case the number 8 ought to be awarded to it, as being 2 to the power of 3, or 10 in base-eight arithmetic. So much was obvious.

I did not take detailed notes of the debate, only the decision, which was pragmatic and both-and. The Centre was deemed to be both a ring and not a ring, both a stage in its own right and an extension of the rings immediately prior and posterior, arrival and departure being both events in their own right and each too brief to be made the agenda for an entire meeting. The walkers would consider the contents of their slogan while they walked Countre-5-60-7, and make their decision when they reached the Centre.

They found in Ring Five a little relief after the tight turns of the previous two. (In the labyrinth in my yard Ring Six must wind its way among some trees, making it unusually tortuous. Milk and garter snakes occasionally sun themselves there at the base of the trees, although I have never seen a rattlesnake in the labyrinth. Nearby occasionally, but not within it.) Ring Five is not all that long, however, and they felt the pressure to work quickly.

They decided their Slogan needed to express four ideas:

First, that Social Justice is, or appears to be, an Unsolved Riddle because of Fear;

Second, that Social Justice is, or appears to be, an Unsolved Riddle because of Impatience;

Third, that Social Justice is, or appears to be, an Unsolved Riddle due to a preoccupation with Individuality instead of Collectivity;

Fourth, that Social Justice is, or appears to be, an Unsolved Riddle due to a preoccupation with Collectivity instead of Individuality.

They fully realized, of course, that both Social Justice and the unsolved riddleness of it are more complicated than that, but they agreed that those four ideas captured the essence of what needed to be done and the right way to go about it.

For a brief time at the Centre they stood considering alternative wordings. They then gathered in a circle around Mayor Josie Smith who closed her eyes, paused to let the spirit move her, and announced their Slogan:


Afterwards, as they sat around diminishing the supply of refreshments and feeling good about what they had done, they asked Mayor Josie why she had chosen ‘Dauntlessly’ instead of ‘boldly’ (more positive, thought some), or ‘fearlessly’. “I didn’t choose it,” she said, “it just came to me. But I think it’s the right word. It sets the right tone, strong enough for the job, neither too aggressive nor too cautious. It’s a both-and word. And I’m hearing an echo from somewhere, but I can’t think where it is. Dauntless the something something from high school or university, I think, but I can’t remember the rest.”

“Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set and blew ‘Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came'” quoted Deanna Drone. “Browning.”

“Well done, Deanna!” enthused her brother Thoreau. “And do you know that ‘slug-horn’ and ‘slogan’ come from the same root? They’re from the Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, meaning a battle cry.”  And all agreed that with such a pedigree, ‘dauntless’ it would have to be.

“So how to we proceed now?” asked Martha Yodel, evoking much head-nodding and affirmative vocalization.

“Dauntlessly, step-by-step, one at a time and all together,” said Mayor Josie. “We walk out of the labyrinth in exactly that way, and if we do, repeating it over and over as we go, we will discover what each and all of us must do, individually and together, as neighbours, as citizens, as Mariposa, as our Province, as our Country, as our World must do. We must push past the Unsolved Riddle, push it aside, render it irrelevant, and meet Social Justice face to face: dauntlessly, step-by-step, one at a time and all together.”

“Amen to that!” said they all. And away they went, over hill and down dale, to their several or shared dwellings, happy in their work.



Walking Clockre-6-40-6: Today we have Consideration of Slogans

In the ninth week of the Leacock Anniversaries in 2019, on May 21st, we continue the Saga of the Labyrinth Walk by citizens of Mariposa in search of the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, under the guidance of Mayor Josie Smith.

The whole conversation in these meetings is becoming a little more focussed, which is what one would want in such a process. The Mariposan system for naming and numbering the rings of their labyrinth are described in the previous posting. Today they are walking clockwise around the 6th ring in order numbering from the outside, this ring being 40 units long (longest 140, shortest zero because it is not a ring at all but rather the chute into the centre), and the 6th in order of walking.

Last week the gang decided that when they reached Centre-8-Zero they wanted to have a “slogan” that would frame their search for practicalities, and that they would devote the next two walkings (Clockre-6-40-6 today; Countre-5-60-7 next week) to consideration of slogans used by others with the same objective, if they could find any.

I think it is appropriate at this stage for me, the taker of minutes for their deliberations, to point out that their slogan-hunt may have some link with the slug-horn blowing of the two moles-in-aspect whose adventures are unfolding, albeit slowly, in the Dark Tower Saga of the Leacock blog. ‘Slogan’, and ‘Slug-Horn’ are etymologically related, closely. Blowing a Slug-Horn and shouting a Slogan may be the same act.

When Mayor Josie proclaimed the search for slogans open, Sheldon Uttermost immediately reached for his lap-top, but the others asked him politely to put it away. They would see what they would come up with for themselves before they invited Aunt Google into the room. They would devote today’s walk to generating a long list, and next week’s to winnowing it down and inventing their own variations. When they reached Centre-8-Zero they would make their choice.

Here is their Long List:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (The Golden Rule)
Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you. (The GR reversed)
Love your neighbour as yourself. (Anglican Prayer Book)
Liberty, Fraternity, Equality (French Revolution)
Life, Liberty, Happiness (American Revolution)
All for One and One for All
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. (Karl Marx)
Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. (John Kennedy)
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. (Martin Luther King)
Ask not just what will government do for me, but what can I do for myself. (Richard Nixon)
With malice towards none, with charity towards all. (Abraham Lincoln)
We have nothing to fear but Fear itself. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
Try to be a little kinder. (Aldous Huxley)
The essence of Social Justice is equality of opportunity and the alleviation of misery. (Stephen Leacock)
Give us people of good will whose hearts are in the cause and our happiness is assured. (Stephen Leacock)

The attributions I have assigned to each of these may be correct, or may not. They came from the group, and I haven’t checked them. This is a record of their conversations, not something scholarly.

The list could have been a lot longer. Each idea evoked discussion, because many beg for clarification. The meeting went on until nearly midnight. As the group made its way out into the street, I overheard Deanna Drone say, “It’s the Both-And part that’s difficult, isn’t it. We don’t want to take away the chance to be rich, only the chance to be poor. The chance, that is, the bad luck. Not the choice. We want to leave things alone when they are relatively harmless, and meddle with them when they are not. It’s all a big muddle.” And they danced off down the street singing:

Meddling with the Muddle
Is like falling in a puddle!
Let us throw off the befuddle-
Ment arising from our huddle
And go home to have a cuddle.

This sounded like a good idea to me, so I did it too.

Today We Have Renaming of Rings

In the eighth week of the Leacock Anniversaries, on May 14th, we continue the Saga of the Labyrinth Walk by citizens of Mariposa, under the guidance of Mayor Josie Smith.

This meeting began with a declaration by Mayor Smith. She said: “I am beginning to believe that this method of naming the rings of our labyrinth is not working. We tried to give them names from our solar system, another system of rings, but in fact they are not related, are only superficially of the same kind, and their names, arbitrary as they are, contain no information about the nature of each ring.

“Each ring,” she went on noting looks of interest on the faces in the circle, “has four characteristics. It has order, numbered from one to eight, from outside to inside, or from inside to outside, according to preference. We can call the centre the eighth ring, even though it isn’t really a ring. We could make it one if we had more room. In here it’s just a spot. We walk them in a different order, which is the second characteristic. Thirdly, we walk them in alternate directions: clockwise and counter-clockwise. Fourthly, they have different lengths, and that’s important to the quality of the walk.”

This triggered a brisk conversation about how to capture the four characteristics in four-word labels (including enjoyment of the pun on four-word and forward). What they came up with was the following scheme:

They put the direction of walking first, because it’s a word and the others are numbers. Then the geometric order, then the length very approximately, and finally the order walked. The whole walk in their indoor labyrinth, the way it was laid out, would therefore be summarized as follows, once they had finished playing around with the spellings:

Countre-7-20-5: Today’s walk

This, they realized, would be not that easy to remember at the start, but they would get used to it. At least the labels had meaning. This whole exercise took up a good chunk of the meeting, but they were satisfied with the result. After all, they noted, today’s walk along Countre-7-20-5, aka the Fifth Whole, would be a short one. How would the bawl lie on this one, and with what clob should they clobber it?

The bawl, they decided, necessarily lay right alongside Centre-8-zero, and that they therefore could fittingly clobber it with Imagination, anticipating both bawl and clobber as they would be when they got there. That way they could employ the next two walks, neither of any great length, to prepare.

As I say, today’s is a very short walk, so I am going to cut it that way, as they did. Suffice to say that they quickly decided that when they got to Centre-8-zero they would need to have a “slogan”, a simple phrase that would frame the practicalities they would need to resolve as they worked their way back out through all the rings. Their slogan would have to be something legitimately representing the sighting, maybe even the capture, of the wild Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice. They would tame it, or at least get a halter on it, during the walk out.

For the next two walks, therefore, they would consider slogans previously bawled by others, to see if they had enough clobber behind them.


Labyrinth Ring Moonbeam : 4th Walked : Getting Ready to Clobber the Bawl

Describing what was achieved during the Seventh Meeting of the labyrinthine Hunt for the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice in the middling city of Mariposa. As this posting turned out, it is appropriate that these folks are walking the ring they  have called Moonbeam, related to lunar, related to lunacy. This metaphorical reasoning is truly very, very difficult to control.

If you think the order of walking this kind of labyrinth is strange, don’t blame me. Blame the Cretans. Apparently they worked out the whole scheme: A circle of seven rings in convoluted array with a chute to the centre, to be walked alternating between clockwise and widdershins at each turn into the centre, then back out again; from outside into the third (numbered from the outside) ring, then second, then first, fourth, seventh, sixth, fifth, into the centre, out of the centre, then fifth, sixth, seventh, fourth, first, second, third, and outside again; in all, including entry and exit, 18 separate stages just like a golf course. This analogy is apposite because our little band of Mariposans had resolved in their previous seance to carry fourteen tools, like a golfer.

I wish I could recount for you in detail the conversation leading to the final list, but I cannot. It lasted four hours, continuing unabated during breaks, and all were talking fast because they were excited. Including the times when two or three were talking at once, I figure the average flow was a minimum of 150 words per minute, and could easily have been 175. Using the lower estimate, in four hours that’s 36,000 words. Nobody wants to read a 36,000 word blog post, least of all you. Perish forbid! I have already written 220 words and haven’t said anything yet. I had better cut to the chase and tell you what they came up with for their fourteen hunting tools, or “clobs”, as they decided to call them.

Before I give you the list, however, I draw your attention to the other essential occupant of a golf bag, that being the ball, or rather for most golfers, a supply of balls. The purpose of the clubs is to overcome the inertia of the ball. The ball may therefore be described as an inert force which refuses to move in the desired direction until firmly overcome. Those who dream of Social Justice face many such forces, equally inert or more so. A golf ball, after all, is designed to fly or roll when struck. Unlike a soccer ball or a hockey puck, however, it is a sitting target. A skilled practitioner using the right club for the situation, therefore, can do almost magical things with it. I could embroider my analogy at much greater length but will not, having passed 400 words and still not said anything.

Golf clubs used to have colourful names, like driver, putter (both still used), spoon, mashie, niblick, cleek, brassie (all now obsolete). Most clubs are numbered nowadays, a great loss to the poetry of the game. But I digress.

The fourteen ‘clobs’ finally chosen by the Mariposan band on their trek around Moonbeam, the fourth ring, are as follows:

Pluraliser :: used for recognizing Pluralism;

Puzzler :: used for recognizing Unsolved Riddles;

Coherenator :: used for overcoming Fragmentation;

Completer :: used for overcoming Incompleteness;

Concluder :: used (always most carefully) for overcoming Inconclusiveness;

Congruver :: used for reconciling incongruous juxtapositions;

Both-Ander :: used for coping with hazards of the either-or kind;

Knowledge :: should always be complemented by application of the Both-Ander;

Imagination :: the indispensable clob; no inertia can be overcome without it;

Compassion :: clob for choosing the appropriate direction;

Humour :: clob for dealing with inherent imperfections;

Conversation :: everyday, working clob;

Negotiation :: clob for overcoming conflicting inertias;

Education :: clob for learning the game and basic clobbing skills.

The game, which could be called Gulf but also might be called Bridge (if that game-name were not already taken), must also be further learned by playing it, a process called Experience.

It is important to note,—and the participating Mariposans did note it,—that except in those situations in golf where one is permitted to “tee-up” the ball, the player will  find that the ball, after application of the club, always rolls into a ‘lie’ of some kind, be it good, bad, up-hill, down-hill, level, etc. Thus each stroke of the game may be succinctly described as overcoming the inertia of the ball as it rests in its lie and moving it closer to the hole. Gaining the hole is an incremental process which cannot normally be accomplished in one felled swoop. Furthermore, the game is not complete until the player has put the ball into 18 holes, that being the number for Life in Jewish numerology.

By changing the spellings slightly we can thus describe each stroke of the ‘game’ which is the Hunt for the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice: To address the ‘bawl’ (as in Vale of Tears) and its ‘lie’ with the appropriate ‘clob’ (using a ‘tea’ where allowed), and to move it stroke by stroke into the ‘whole’. Since courses in this game are always found in natural environments, the number of wholes may vary.

The Mariposans now have their bagful of clobs and are ready to address the bawl and clobber it, as the expression goes. I urge you to remember, however, that this gulf course is a labyrinth, convoluted in shape, and requiring to be walked both ways to attain its end. Imagine what the game of golf would be like if it were played from tee to green and back again along a route that offers no fair way but only a crudely cultivated, ever-changing, un-mapped wilderness of rough, scrub, bunkers, water hazards, pine straw, and areas that are out of bounds.

Hunting the wild Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice is no game for the faint of heart.