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Author Topic: PodCastle Miniature 014: The Fable of the Octopus  (Read 10526 times)

Heradel

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on: October 06, 2008, 09:10:15 AM
PodCastle Miniature 014: The Fable of the Octopus

By Peter S. Beagle
Read by Stephen Eley (of Escape Pod)

Once, deep down under the sea, down with the starfish and the sting rays and the conger eels, there lived an octopus who wanted to see God.

Octopi are among the most intelligent creatures in the sea, and shyly thoughtful as well, and this particular octopus spent a great deal of time in profound pondering and wondering. Often, curled on the deck of the sunken ship where he laired, he would allow perfectly edible prey to swim or scuttle by, while he silently questioned the here and the now, the if and the then, and — most especially — the may and the mightwhy.  Even among his family and friends, such rumination was considered somewhat excessive, but it was his way, and it suited him. He planned eventually to write a book of some sort, employing his own ink for the purpose.  It was to be called Concerns of a Cephalopod, or possibly Mollusc Meditations.


Rated G. Contains philosophical meanderings.


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eytanz

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Reply #1 on: October 06, 2008, 09:59:16 AM
Hmph.

The least of the four fables, in my opinion - it was well written, and interesting, but it was just so straightforward and sincere, lacking the slightly snarky humor of the previous three that really made them stand out.

I'm curious as to the original publication of the fables - were they published as a unit originially? If so, perhaps this was intentional, building up three somewhat cynical fables and finishing with a more affirming one.



deflective

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Reply #2 on: October 07, 2008, 02:36:11 PM
some of us already knew that god is a grand union of octopus and man.

we patiently wait as stars move their endless dance - inexorably shifting into alignment when he will arise from eternal slumber.



wintermute

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Reply #3 on: October 08, 2008, 12:21:06 PM
some of us already knew that god is a grand union of octopus and man.

we patiently wait as stars move their endless dance - inexorably shifting into alignment when he will arise from eternal slumber.
You're referring to PZ Myers, right?

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ryos

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Reply #4 on: October 08, 2008, 06:30:57 PM
I really enjoyed the story element of the fable...and don't get the moral at all. I'm not sure how it follows from the story, or what it's even supposed to mean. Maybe I'm just dim? I've considered the possibility before.  :P



Heradel

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Reply #5 on: October 08, 2008, 07:24:10 PM
I really enjoyed the story element of the fable...and don't get the moral at all. I'm not sure how it follows from the story, or what it's even supposed to mean. Maybe I'm just dim? I've considered the possibility before.  :P

The Octopus was surprised at finding out that he was living in God instead of God being a distinct and discrete entity.

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Ocicat

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Reply #6 on: October 08, 2008, 08:01:15 PM
Count me into the "enjoyed it, but didn't really get the moral or how it related to the story" camp.



Heradel

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Reply #7 on: October 08, 2008, 08:19:57 PM
Count me into the "enjoyed it, but didn't really get the moral or how it related to the story" camp.

I think it's like this: it's always better when you ask a question to get  an answer that you didn't know was in the possible field of answers. The Octopus thought God must have been someone, but learning that he's living in God was such a better answer than any he had been able to think of.

To get all Escape-Pod-y, think of a bunch of physicists doing an experiment where they expected to find A and had ∀ handed to them instead. Formulas have to be redone, theories revisited or thrown out, but at the end of the day they know so much more by know that they were wrong.

The Octopus' mind was opened by the surprise answer of everything, and that's a far better outcome than the fisherman saying 'Yes, I am God'. The surprise means there's more to learn and discover.

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Ocicat

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Reply #8 on: October 08, 2008, 11:55:23 PM
Ya, I get that - and considered it... but the story was about so much more than that one question!  If that was the moral, shouldn't the story have stopped before the Tsunami and bit with him writing the book and his publisher, and living in friendship with the fisherman, and not wanting undersea fame, and...

Well, there was lot there that I can't relate back to the moral.  Unlike, say, the other three fables.



stePH

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Reply #9 on: October 09, 2008, 02:56:50 AM
I have to put all four Beagle fables in the category of "Podcastle Minatures that I have no great opinion of".

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Talia

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Reply #10 on: October 09, 2008, 03:38:26 AM
I didn't care for the first part, so much, up to and including the tsunami.. enjoyed it after that though. :) I donno, the philisophical musings of an octopus didn't really interest me, but the fisherman/octopus best-of-buddies story that emerged made me smile.



Hatton

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Reply #11 on: October 10, 2008, 01:34:43 PM
I loved the fisherman's list of bad things - "typhoons, stinging jellyfish, my wife's parents and bad oysters"

Truthful that was about the only thing I really liked about this one. 

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wintermute

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Reply #12 on: October 10, 2008, 01:56:35 PM
This ought to be extended into a cop buddy movie, in the style of Turner and Hooch.

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JoeFitz

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Reply #13 on: October 11, 2008, 08:31:36 PM
I liked it better than the other 3 perhaps because the tone was more earnest. This last one resonates for me. The protagonist in the other tales were all thwarted in some significant way because of their hubris.

Perhaps I'm inventing a trajectory from the order they were presented. FWIW:

a) TRex - An animal discovers Death is avoidable for some and tries to tell someone they are going to die; Death ensues.

b) Moth - An animal discovers Death is avoidable for all if one ignores instinct and tries to tell others. They don't listen to the truth. Death ensues.

c) Ostridge - An animal wonders if Death is avoidable after observing that instinct kills, and risks death to find out. But the killer lies. The others listen to the lie. Hilarity ensues (and then probably death).

d) Octopus - An animal knows Death is sometimes avoidable, but wonders about God and risks death to find out, the Man has some answers. Death looms in a new way. Man assists the animal to avoid Death. Both are saved and tell everyone, who may or may not listen. Deep philosophy and royalties ensue.

Probably lots more refining to be done. YMMV.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2008, 01:04:43 PM by JoeFitz »



wintermute

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Reply #14 on: October 13, 2008, 11:44:09 AM
Moth came before T-Rex.

Science means that not all dreams can come true


MacArthurBug

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Reply #15 on: October 15, 2008, 01:07:45 AM
Nice, well done good interesting charactors. What more is there to ask for?

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JoeFitz

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Reply #16 on: October 16, 2008, 01:35:34 AM



Unblinking

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Reply #17 on: November 18, 2009, 07:46:06 PM
Since it was a fable, much of my opinion necessarily hinges on waiting to see the moral.  I didn't get the moral at all.  Even when explained here, there wasn't any beam of sunlight through the clouds moment of epiphany.

So I guess it didn't work for me.

Was I the only one who thought that, once the octopus allowed himself to be scooped into the bag, that the fisherman was going to go home and make sushi?