The SFFaudio Podcast #346 – READALONG: The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick

December 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #346 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa and Luke Daniels talk about The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
When did Luke record The Man Who Japed?, a spate of Dicks, a good six months, generic knowledge, Dick’s writing is like Jack Kerouac’s, Now Wait For Last Year, Dick’s favorite The Man Who Japed, not Marissa’s favorite The Man Who Japed, post nuclear war, censorship and morality, the three-way war before Earth the Starmen and the Reegs, JJ-180, swimming through time, Eric Sweetscent, Alan Purcell, minor-Dick, it’s a big jape, the novels blend together, classic Dick, Allen’s ambivalence, it feels long for a short book, the corporate stuff, Dick’s women are never “flat” they are either “dumpy or perky”, girls and gals, full present or drugged up there’s always a wife, they love each other, loyal and sweet, home development, something pedantic and yet timely, something you’ve never seen, what’s happening in China at the time, living in a condo…, when I first moved into my conapt, a note under the door, “you have ruined my marriage”, using new found powers to search for nude women, you teach a man how to fish he has sex with that fish, council meetings, gossip, condominium apartments, how do people live together, overpopulation world, his bedroom turns into a kitchen, she’s putting her clothes in the oven, Billenium by J.G. Ballard, Make Room Make Room by Harry Harrison, Hokkaido is a radioactive wasteland, Newer York vs. New New York, drugs, how Dick writes the book, undercooked, free will, “it just happened”, a former NHL enforcer, the psychiatrist, memory, A Scanner Darkly, his propaganda job, the juveniles (the robots), “inDickitave”, a society running on fumes, extra-Solar colonies, you don’t want to stand all the way do you?, the big jape, how Dick’s vocab works, the title if it was written today “The Man Who Punked”, the alternate reality, Talking Heads’ Once In A Lifetime, the consequences here, the ending, the faces of the teenagers, as a narrator, what is Allen seeing in the faces of those teenagers?, Allen was always trying to protect people, immigration to Canada in 1988, how harsh the immigration officials were, skimming off the cream, oh you’re an audiobook narrator… ok, a couple Brit narrators are up in the seed vault in Svalbard, The Prisoner episode “A Change Of Mind”, unmutual, conforming drugs, writhing, adultery can get you kicked out of your lease, Mao as Major Streiter, The Three Body Problem, The Red Violin, juveniles -> Juvenal (the Roman satirist), teenagers as opposed to juveniles, the Cultural Revolution was pushed by kids, everything pulling toward the center, The Americans, the world “soviet” means committee, the cohorts (are kids), how Nazi Germany worked, Nazi youth in The Netherlands, kids acting like little-SS, witch hunts, more American than Dick admits, V, a very soft version, no-death camps, slave labour, nobody watches TV in the colony worlds, the spire and the statue of Major Streiter, Colonel Gaddafi character, General Washington and the Washington Monument, can you imagine state TV making fun of Ronald Regan, humour vs. the dictatorship, every authoritarian government, Mr. Whales is rewarded with another apartment, oomphalos, the center, the more morec you are, anti-morec, in anticipation of the big jape…, Dick japes the reader, active assimilation, the cultural revolution, like evil-BBC, the poll, this is the emperor’s new clothes, Jonathan Swift, it’s something Ronald Regan would do!, if it was good enough for the founding fathers…, if John Adams and the founding fathers were all cannibals, it was a different time, he was really good to his slaves (food), turning it into a joke, society is obsessed with propriety, is this the start of the fall of this society, dystopia, optimistic ending, when the cohorts arrived their reaction was to laugh, “Repent Harlequin!” Said The Tick-Tock Man by Harlan Ellison, like Metropolis, infected with laughter, this happens all the time in SF, science fiction like satire, Dick was going on and on about not being a Marxist, timelessness, a crapsack world, a tiller, The Space Merchants, that’s Madison Avenue taking over society, food isn’t really food anymore, the food is always in quotation marks, simulated “baked Alaskan”, we have all the things he was writing about, an artificial meat, tofu has long been with us, simulant meat, Secret Army, ‘Allo ‘Allo!, this isn’t real coffee, WWII is the really big start of all artificial foods, chicory coffee, after WWII Korea and Japan get Spam, Spam restaurants, Minnesota is the home of Spam, it reminds you of your youth, coming to love the crappy stuff that you have, we come to love the crappy worlds Dick creates, the radioactive island, Hokkaido is full of ideas, where’s the government?, society is just kind of null, not total totalitarianism (bottom up), there isn’t a death in the book, a surprisingly soft dystopia, busy-bodied woman, anything over 20mph is terrifying, milquetoast, The Coming Of The Quantum Cats by Frederik Pohl, a pro-Muslim Christian American theocracy, a prim 38mph, the Harvard Law review (on the Black Market), I The Jury by Mickey Spillane, “I Shot Her In The Uterus”, The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, Guy de Maupassant, “breasts like two cones of white marble”, James Joyce, $10,000 for Ulysses, the sickness, The Grifters, Donald Westlake, how to advance your career in business by killing people, the mental health planet, an alternate world that’s not real, “but I only have $50!”, the missing 15,000 words, getting stuck in debt is a kind of dystopia, Mavis, taking care of cows, clean activities, soul sucking grinding horrible, the interrogation that happens there…, full of resentment, anonymous accusers, an open marriage, a c-class Dick novel, needs a little more spiced, not fully poached,

It is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant
of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself…

and

Pathic men that pretend to be moral exemplars are much worse than those who are open about their proclivities.

he’s talking about Republicans, the “wide stance”, puritanism, strider -> Streiter, making choices, that’s what this book is about, just wing it, self-assured hubris, “he’s an idea, not a man”.

The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick
Le Profanateur by Philip K. Dick
Word Cloud for The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick
The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick - Cast Of Characters

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #280 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Völsungasaga

September 1, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #280 – Völsungasaga translated by Eiríkr Magnússon and William Morris; read by Corpang (of LibriVox). This is an unabridged reading of the saga (4 hours) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Seth, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
anonymous, 1000 AD, Beowulf, Germanic myth collection, Volsung Dynasty, quick character changes, irrational logic, biblical similarities, Sigurd, echoes of myths, family relationships in Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Tales of Dragons, a hodgepodge of influences, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, dramatic events, wolves, half-historical and half-saga storytelling, origin from Homeric Myths, odes, cyclical time, less Christian influences than other written sagas, a source or influences on stories and also influenced by earlier sagas, Vikings on History Channel, moral lessons to be awesome, unconsciousness of glorious kings with immoral actions, The Old Testament, hierarchy of power, jealousy of wealth and power, Medieval Japan, neighbor relationships, attitudes toward prophesy and fate, stoicism and acceptance, Odin Mythology, simple naming of characters, absence of fear of death, reincarnation, female equality, werewolves, Roman Mythology, frequent raiding, laws protecting wolves, wolves as outlaws, Caligula, power creates rules, Christian epics with Christian rule system, power of sacrifice, irrational idea of original sin, The New Testament subverting the idea of superiority, master morality and the slave morality, a lot of similarity to Beowulf, a source for education and entertainment, reason for being dramatic, 13th century literature, history in a very vague and incorrect way, more atrocity earlier in the saga, parallel between fantasy and real life, Story of Attila, transmission of knowledge, Haida Gwaii’s similarity to Vikings, We are really here for the gold!, names of dwarfs, broken names, obsession of money creates craziness, atrocity and craziness as history, story created before medieval nobility, morality as generosity, guest morality, Richard Wagner, being near Vikings is dangerous, endurance of pain as superior, no laughs and mild jokes in Volsunga saga, disrespect is bad, burial traditions create conflict, William Morris, the absence of slaves in Tolkien Fiction, free society.

The Worm Fafnir illustrated by Lancelot Speed

Sigmunds Schwert illustration by Johannes Gehrts

Ramsund Carving

Posted by Jesse Willis

Blogging Heads TV: interview with Jonathan Haidt

April 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Blogging Heads TVA friend of mine has been considering buying The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion (a new book by Jonathan Haidt). I told him it didn’t appear to exist as an audiobook – at least not yet.

He had said he wanted to read it because he thought it might offer a hope of explaining the behavior of the strange people around him, and how he might better understand it and them.

I guess he wasn’t satisfied with my own hypothesis:

“perhaps hypocrisy can only be seen by people with two brain cells to rub together”

And while there still doesn’t appear to be an audiobook available my friend wrote to me last night saying:

“no need to buy the book, this is better…

http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/9376

I’ll now admit, after hearing the author speak his book’s thesis, it does sound fairly interesting!

|MP3|

Here’s the official description of the book itself:

“Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding.

His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures. But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim—that we are fundamentally groupish. It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: iambik audio’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Collection

May 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Iambik AudiobooksIambik Audiobooks has just released its first Science Fiction & Fantasy Collection! Individual books are $6.99, and you can get the whole collection of nine titles for $43.99.

Use the code “sff-audio-25” and get a 25% discount on your order.

Number one on my to listen list is this classic David Gerrold novel…

IAMBIK AUDIO - The Man Who Folded Himself by David GerroldThe Man Who Folded Himself
By David Gerrold; Read by Charles Bice
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 4 Hours 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673400
The Man Who Folded Himself, written in 1973 (and reissued by BenBella in 2003) is a classic science fiction novel by award-winning author David Gerrold. This work was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula awards and is considered by some critics to be the finest time travel novel ever written.

IAMBIK AUDIO - An Occupation Of Angels by Lavie TidharAn Occupation Of Angels
By Lavie Tidhar; Read by Elizabeth Klett
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 3 Hours 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
After Archangels materialise over the bloodbaths of WWII, they take up residence in most of the world’s major cities. But what would happen if, more than quarter of a century later, something somehow managed to kill these supreme beings? Killarney knows and, as an agent working for the Bureau, a British agency that’s so secret it doesn’t officially exist, she finds herself embroiled in the consequences as, one by one, the Archangels die. Assigned to trace a missing cryptographer thought to have information on the murders, she travels from England, through France, heading for the frozen wastes of the USSR. But there’s an unknown third party intent on stopping her, and there’s God, who also has an agenda. Not knowing who is friend and who is foe, and with only a brief glimpse of a swastika on angel wings as solid information, Killarney struggles to remain alive long enough to glean sufficient information to put together the pieces of the puzzle and complete what is, without them, an impossible mission.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Ben And The Book Of Prophecies by Kristy RiddifordBen And The Book Of Prophesies
By Kirsty Riddiford; Read by Ruth Golding
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673431
Ben and the Book of Prophecies is the first book of the Prophecies of Ballitor. Ben is the youngest and most successful thief in the royal city of Quadrivium, but an unexpected encounter with Bella, the queen’s mother, changes his life forever. In return for a substantial reward Ben agrees to track down the Book of Prophecies which disappeared from the palace library many years before. It is believed that the Book contains a prophecy which will save the kingdom from an impending war with the rebels. Yet Bella also has an ulterior motive, to find her son who went missing whilst searching for the same book. Ben finds himself catapulted into an unfamiliar world of magic and intrigue where talking eagles and mythical creatures help him on his quest. During his travels he unearths dark secrets as lives are put in peril and an unforeseen reunion surfaces. But not everyone wants the book to be found

IAMBIK AUDIO - Open Your Eyes by Paul JessupOpen Your Eyes
By Paul Jessup; Read by Tadgh Hynes
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 3 Hours 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673196
Her lover was a supernova who took worlds with him when he died, and as a new world grows within Ekhi, savage lives rage and love on a small ship in the outer reaches of space. A ship with an agenda of its own. Critically acclaimed author of weird fiction Paul Jessup sends puppets to speak and fight for their masters while a linguistic virus eats through the minds of a group of scavengers in Open Your Eyes, a surrealist space opera of haunting beauty and infinite darkness.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Fall From Earth by Matthew JohnsonFall From Earth
By Matthew Johnson; Read by Emma Newman
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 3 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673332
Shi Jin is a rebel, the latest in a long line of those who have challenged the Borderless Empire and failed. Dropped with a crew of convicts on an uninhabited planet, Shi Jin – and mankind- encounter alien life forms for the first time. She discovers that she is part of a much bigger game…one that will force her to decide between her desire to defeat the Empire and the future of humanity.

IAMBIK AUDIO - In The Shadow Of Swords by Val GunnIn The Shadow Of Swords
By Val Gunn; Read by Clive Catterall
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 10 Hours 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673424
When the assassin Ciris Sarn, murders Hiril Altaïr, he unwittingly leaves behind the legendary Books of Promise. They come into the hands of Hiril’s vengeful widow, Marin, and she becomes a target even as she hunts for her husband’s murderer. Meanwhile, Fajeer Dassai, a brutal kingmaker, plots to retrieve the fabled treasure to make himself wealthy beyond imagination. His only obstacle is Pavanan Munif, a capable, but drug-addicted tracker. Soon assassins, sheikhs, spies, and viziers are all embroiled in a potentially world-shattering conspiracy racing to an inevitable showdown where violence and murder is the only path to true redemption.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Space Captain Smith by Toby FrostSpace Captain Smith
By Toby Frost; Read by Clive Catterall (Myrmidon)
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673417
Space Captain Smith is the first book of the Chronicles of Isambard Smith. It’s the 25th Century and the British Space Empire faces the gathering menace of the evil ant-soldiers of the Ghast hive, hell bent on galactic domination and the extermination of all humanoid life forms. Captain Isambard Smith is the square-jawed, courageous and somewhat asinine new commander of the clapped out freighter John Pym, destined to take on the alien threat because nobody else is available. Together with his bold crew- a skull-collecting alien lunatic, an android pilot who is actually a fugitive sex toy and a hamster called Gerald- he must collect new-age herbalist Rhianna Mitchell from the New Francisco orbiter and bring her back to the Empire in safety. Straightforward enough – except the Ghasts want her too and, in addition to a whole fleet of Ghast warships, Smith has to confront void sharks, a universe-weary android assassin and John Gilead, psychopathic naval officer from the fanatically religious Republic of Eden before facing his greatest enemy: a ruthless alien warlord with a very large behind…

IAMBIK AUDIO - The Golden Casket And The Spectres Of Light by Katie PatersonThe Golden Casket And The Specters Of Light
By Katie Paterson; Read by Karen Savage
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 8 Hours 44 Minutes Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673448
The Golden Casket And The Specters Of Light is the second book of the Chronicles of Valonia. Three years after Rachel and Gareth’s lives had returned to normal, they are forced to revisit Valonia, after receiving an unsettling phone call. The Golden Casket And The Specters Of Light pursue them back into the heart of danger, this time to face an even greater threat, as they attempt to unravel a mysterious disappearance. The twins find themselves in a race against time beside a trio of evil sorcery.

IAMBIK AUDIO - The Jewels Of Valonia by Katie PatersonThe Jewels Of Valonia
By Katie Paterson; Read by Karen Savage
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 43 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781926673394
The Jewels Of Valonia is the first book of the Chronicles of Valonia. It follows 12-year-old twins, Gareth and Rachel, as they embark on a mystical adventure after travelling to the remote village of Valonia, where everything is far from what it seems. An encounter with a stranger leads them into a world of sorcery and danger. As they pass through the realms of time, the twins realise that their destiny lies within powers that they have yet to understand and control.

IAMBIK AUDIO - Science Fiction And Fantasy Collection No. 1Complete Science-Fiction & Fantasy Collection 1
By various; Read by various
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 62 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: May 2011
This collection includes all the titles in Iambik’s first release of Science-Fiction and Fantasy books.

Titles in the collection:
Ben And The Book Of Prophecies by Kirsty Riddiford
Fall From Earth by Matthew Johnson
In The Shadow Of Swords by Val Gunn
The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
An Occupation Of Angels by Lavie Tidhar
Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup
Space Captain Smith by Craig Smith
The Jewels of Valonia by Katie Paterson
The Golden Casket And The Spectres Of Light by Katie Paterson

Posted by Jesse Willis

A Piece Of String by Guy de Maupassant (as read by Stefan Rudnicki)

January 7, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Here’s a really thoughtful short crime story that I think my Catholic friends will especially enjoy (it’s good and it’s pretty hard to find a good audio edition). Though some have classified it as humorous it has plenty of depth (they must be thinking it is a black comedy). It follows in the tradition of The Boy Who Cried Wolf and may remind you of later works like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. In the paperbook translation where I first read it, the title was A Piece Of Yarn. This is not a literal translation of the French (“La Ficelle“) but is actually about ten times better than A Piece Of String (for reasons which are clearer after reading the entire tale). And as an added bonus there’s probably not a better American accented narrator for this story than Stefan Rudnicki. Enjoy!

A Piece Of String by Guy de MaupassantA Piece Of String (aka A Piece Of Yarn)
By Guy de Maupassant; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Redwood Audiobooks (Listen To Genius)
Published: 2008
Source: ListenToGenius.com
A thrifty hand, a shrewd eye and a good story are universally loved by the prideful farmers of Normandy. But Maître Hauchecome soon finds himself in a epistemological struggle between his word, his reputation and his story.

The full text of the tale follows below:

A Piece Of String
By Guy de Maupassant

Along all the roads around Goderville the peasants and their wives were coming toward the burgh because it was market day. The men were proceeding with slow steps, the whole body bent forward at each movement of their long twisted legs; deformed by their hard work, by the weight on the plow which, at the same time, raised the left shoulder and swerved the figure, by the reaping of the wheat which made the knees spread to make a firm “purchase,” by all the slow and painful labors of the country. Their blouses, blue, “stiff-starched,” shining as if varnished, ornamented with a little design in white at the neck and wrists, puffed about their bony bodies, seemed like balloons ready to carry them off. From each of them two feet protruded.

Some led a cow or a calf by a cord, and their wives, walking behind the animal, whipped its haunches with a leafy branch to hasten its progress. They carried large baskets on their arms from which, in some cases, chickens and, in others, ducks thrust out their heads. And they walked with a quicker, livelier step than their husbands. Their spare straight figures were wrapped in a scanty little shawl pinned over their flat bosoms, and their heads were enveloped in a white cloth glued to the hair and surmounted by a cap.

Then a wagon passed at the jerky trot of a nag, shaking strangely, two men seated side by side and a woman in the bottom of the vehicle, the latter holding onto the sides to lessen the hard jolts.

In the public square of Goderville there was a crowd, a throng of human beings and animals mixed together. The horns of the cattle, the tall hats, with long nap, of the rich peasant and the headgear of the peasant women rose above the surface of the assembly. And the clamorous, shrill, screaming voices made a continuous and savage din which sometimes was dominated by the robust lungs of some countryman’s laugh or the long lowing of a cow tied to the wall of a house.

All that smacked of the stable, the dairy and the dirt heap, hay and sweat, giving forth that unpleasant odor, human and animal, peculiar to the people of the field.

Maître Hauchecome of Breaute had just arrived at Goderville, and he was directing his steps toward the public square when he perceived upon the ground a little piece of string. Maître Hauchecome, economical like a true Norman, thought that everything useful ought to be picked up, and he bent painfully, for he suffered from rheumatism. He took the bit of thin cord from the ground and began to roll it carefully when he noticed Maître Malandain, the harness maker, on the threshold of his door, looking at him. They had heretofore had business together on the subject of a halter, and they were on bad terms, both being good haters. Maître Hauchecome was seized with a sort of shame to be seen thus by his enemy, picking a bit of a head. two arms and string out of the dirt. He concealed his “find” quickly under his blouse, then in his trousers’ pocket; then he pretended to be still looking on the ground for something which he did not find, and he went toward the market, his head forward, bent double by his pains.

He was soon lost in the noisy and slowly moving crowd which was busy with interminable bargainings. The peasants milked, went and came, perplexed, always in fear of being cheated, not daring to decide, watching the vender’s eye, ever trying to find the trick in the man and the flaw in the beast.

The women, having placed their great baskets at their feet, had taken out the poultry which lay upon the ground, tied together by the feet, with terrified eyes and scarlet crests.

They heard offers, stated their prices with a dry air and impassive face, or perhaps, suddenly deciding on some proposed reduction, shouted to the customer who was slowly going away: “All right, Maître Authirne, I’ll give it to you for that.”

Then lime by lime the square was deserted, and the Angelus ringing at noon, those who had stayed too long scattered to their shops.

At Jourdain’s the great room was full of people eating, as the big court was full of vehicles of all kinds, carts, gigs, wagons, dumpcarts, yellow with dirt, mended and patched, raising their shafts to the sky like two arms or perhaps with their shafts in the ground and their backs in the air.

Just opposite the diners seated at the table the immense fireplace, filled with bright flames, cast a lively heat on the backs of the row on the right. Three spits were turning on which were chickens, pigeons and legs of mutton, and an appetizing odor of roast beef and gravy dripping over the nicely browned skin rose from the hearth, increased the jovialness and made everybody’s mouth water.

All the aristocracy of the plow ate there at Maître Jourdain’s, tavern keeper and horse dealer, a rascal who had money.

The dishes were passed and emptied, as were the jugs of yellow cider. Everyone told his affairs, his purchases and sales. They discussed the crops. The weather was favorable for the green things but not for the wheat.

Suddenly the drum beat in the court before the house. Everybody rose, except a few indifferent persons, and ran to the door or to the windows, their mouths still full and napkins in their hands.

After the public crier had ceased his drumbeating he called out in a jerky voice, speaking his phrases irregularly:

“It is hereby made known to the inhabitants of Goderville, and in general to all persons present at the market, that there was lost this morning on the road to Benzeville, between nine and ten o’clock, a black leather pocketbook containing five hundred francs and some business papers. The finder is requested to return same with all haste to the mayor’s office or to Maître Fortune Houlbreque of Manneville; there will be twenty francs reward.”

Then the man went away. The heavy roll of the drum and the crier’s voice were again heard at a distance.

Then they began to talk of this event, discussing the chances that Maître Houlbreque had of finding or not finding his pocketbook.

And the meal concluded. They were finishing their coffee when a chief of the gendarmes appeared upon the threshold.

He inquired:

“Is Maître Hauchecome of Breaute here?”

Maître Hauchecome, seated at the other end of the table, replied:

“Here I am.”

And the officer resumed:

“Maître Hauchecome, will you have the goodness to accompany me to the mayor’s office? The mayor would like to talk to you.”

The peasant, surprised and disturbed, swallowed at a draught his tiny glass of brandy, rose and, even more bent than in the morning, for the first steps after each rest were specially difficult, set out, repeating: “Here I am, here I am.”

The mayor was awaiting him, seated on an armchair. He was the notary of the vicinity, a stout, serious man with pompous phrases.

“Maître Hauchecome,” said he, “you were seen this morning to pick up, on the road to Benzeville, the pocketbook lost by Maître Houlbreque of Manneville.”

The countryman, astounded, looked at the mayor, already terrified by this suspicion resting on him without his knowing why.

“Me? Me? Me pick up the pocketbook?”

“Yes, you yourself.”

“Word of honor, I never heard of it.”

“But you were seen.”

“I was seen, me? Who says he saw me?”

“Monsieur Malandain, the harness maker.”

The old man remembered, understood and flushed with anger.

“Ah, he saw me, the clodhopper, he saw me pick up this string here, M’sieu the Mayor.” And rummaging in his pocket, he drew out the little piece of string.

But the mayor, incredulous, shook his head.

“You will not make me believe, Maître Hauchecome, that Monsieur Malandain, who is a man worthy of credence, mistook this cord for a pocketbook.”

The peasant, furious, lifted his hand, spat at one side to attest his honor, repeating:

“It is nevertheless the truth of the good God, the sacred truth, M’sieu the Mayor. I repeat it on my soul and my salvation.”

The mayor resumed:

“After picking up the object you stood like a stilt, looking a long while in the mud to see if any piece of money had fallen out.”

The good old man choked with indignation and fear.

“How anyone can tell—how anyone can tell—such lies to take away an honest man’s reputation! How can anyone—-”

There was no use in his protesting; nobody believed him. He was con.

fronted with Monsieur Malandain, who repeated and maintained his affirmation. They abused each other for an hour. At his own request Maître Hauchecome was searched; nothing was found on him.

Finally the mayor, very much perplexed, discharged him with the warning that he would consult the public prosecutor and ask for further orders.

The news had spread. As he left the mayor’s office the old man was sun rounded and questioned with a serious or bantering curiosity in which there was no indignation. He began to tell the story of the string. No one believed him. They laughed at him.

He went along, stopping his friends, beginning endlessly his statement and his protestations, showing his pockets turned inside out to prove that he had nothing.

They said:

“Old rascal, get out!”

And he grew angry, becoming exasperated, hot and distressed at not

being believed, not knowing what to do and always repeating himself.

Night came. He must depart. He started on his way with three neighbors to whom he pointed out the place where he had picked up the bit of string, and all along the road he spoke of his adventure.

In the evening he took a turn in the village of Breaute in order to tell it to everybody. He only met with incredulity.

It made him ill at night.

The next day about one o’clock in the afternoon Marius Paumelle, a hired man in the employ of Maître Breton, husbandman at Ymanville, returned the pocketbook and its contents to Maître Houlbreque of Manneville.

This man claimed to have found the object in the road, but not knowing how to read, he had carried it to the house and given it to his employer.

The news spread through the neighborhood. Maître Hauchecome was informed of it. He immediately went the circuit and began to recount his story completed by the happy climax. He was in triumph.

“What grieved me so much was not the thing itself as the lying. There is nothing so shameful as to be placed under a cloud on account of a lie.”

He talked of his adventure all day long; he told it on the highway to people who were passing by, in the wineshop to people who were drinking there and to persons coming out of church the following Sunday. He stopped strangers to tell them about it. He was calm now, and yet something disturbed him without his knowing exactly what it was. People had the air of joking while they listened. They did not seem convinced. He seemed to feel that remarks were being made behind his back.

On Tuesday of the next week he went to the market at Goderville, urged solely by the necessity he felt of discussing the case.

Malandain, standing at his door, began to laugh on seeing him pass. Why?

He approached a farmer from Crequetot who did not let him finish and, giving him a thump in the stomach, said to his face:

“You big rascal.”

Then he turned his back on him.

Maître Hauchecome was confused; why was he called a big rascal?

When he was seated at the table in Jourdain’s tavern he commenced to explain “the affair.”

A horse dealer from Monvilliers called to him:

“Come, come, old sharper, that’s an old trick; I know all about your piece of string!”

Hauchecome stammered:

“But since the pocketbook was found.”

But the other man replied:

“Shut up, papa, there is one that finds and there is one that reports. At any rate you are mixed with it.”

The peasant stood choking. He understood. They accused him of having had the pocketbook returned by a confederate, by an accomplice.

He tried to protest. All the table began to laugh.

He could not finish his dinner and went away in the midst of jeers.

He went home ashamed and indignant, choking with anger and confusion, the more dejected that he was capable, with his Norman cunning, of doing what they had accused him of and ever boasting of it as of a good turn. His innocence to him, in a confused way, was impossible to prove, as his sharpness was known. And he was stricken to the heart by the injustice of the suspicion.

Then he began to recount the adventures again, prolonging his history every day, adding each time new reasons, more energetic protestations, more solemn oaths which he imagined and prepared in his hours of solitude, his whole mind given up to the story of the string. He was believed so much the less as his defense was more complicated and his arguing more subtile.

“Those are lying excuses,” they said behind his back.

He felt it, consumed his heart over it and wore himself out with useless efforts. He wasted away before their very eyes.

The wags now made him tell about the string to amuse them, as they make a soldier who has been on a campaign tell about his battles. His mind, touched to the depth, began to weaken.

Toward the end of December he took to his bed.

He died in the first days of January, and in the delirium of his death struggles he kept claiming his innocence, reiterating:

“A piece of string, a piece of string—look—here it is, M’sieu the Mayor.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

ABC Radio National: The Philosopher’s Zone on the morality of Ebeneezer Scrooge

December 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

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ABC Radio National - The Philosopher’s ZoneABC Radio National‘s The Philosopher’s Zone is one of the oldest public radio podcast, and I’ve been following it very closely since very near its inception back in 2005. Week after week it explores the history, issues and ideas of philosophy in an accessible and informative manner. I can’t get enough of it. The Philosopher’s Zone is kind of like a very focused version of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time. One recent program, that I just finished listening to, features a fascinating examination of the morality and ethics of Ebeneezer Scrooge. As depicted in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Scrooge appears to be a very disobliging sort, but is he actually morally bankrupt? Examining his character and actions (through the lenses of utilitarianism, Kantian’ style categorical imperative and virtue ethics) host Alan Saunders, and guest Scott C. Lowe, discuss the curious problem of Scrooge’s lack of immorality.

Here’s the synopsis:

Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the few people you are allowed to hate at Christmas, or at least you’re allowed to ‘dislike’ what he stands for. Miserly and lacking in empathy, Scrooge is essentially a joyless, friendless, humourless, lonely old man. But was he morally bad as common wisdom would have it? Our guest this week says NO. Ebenezer Scrooge was as a man of ethical principle.

|MP3| Bah humbug – Why Ebenezer Scrooge is actually a man of principle

Subscribe to the podcast feed:

http://abc.net.au/rn/podcast/feeds/pze.xml

Posted by Jesse Willis

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