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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

May 13, 2004


The ability to read signs, omens, entrails, tea leaves, etc. has been with us for millennia. People with "The Gift" called "sages", "oracles", "witches" and "weirdos" have been feared, respected and invited to all the best parties. If you could tell the future you had it made, right?

Maybe not. True, sages and seers from time immemorial have been predicting the future, channeling for the gods and giving advice, so there must be something to it, you say. Yes, it's true that this often resulted in a pretty good paycheck, but on the flip side it often resulted in a burning at the stake. The trick was to keep it vague, rather like a modern horoscope. Do you ever pick up the paper and read "You will be hit by the Number 10 bus today; you might want to stock up on aspirin"? Of course not. Keep it simple, like

"Fortune smiles on those who dare, someone from your past will breathe oxygen today". Your smarter sages have known this for years. Witness this classic exchange between King Philco of the Thracian city-state of Harmonica and the great sage Persimmon:

King Philco: "What news of Troy? Is this the day to launch my forces and smite my enemies?"

Persimmon: "When the golden turtle swims the Tigris River and the thrush sings at midnight,
Agamemnon will feel the sting of a rash!"

Queen Amana: "See? I told you! The minute I saw his ad at the Acropolis, the one that said 'It's like having the Oracle at Delphi in your living room!', I knew he was the right sage for us!"
Personally, I think the gods must have better things to do than spend their times sending obtuse signs to mortals. I mean, if your immortal and omnipotent, can't you think of a better way to communicate your wishes to the lowly than singing thrushes or golden turtles? A Candygram would be better, even if it came COD.

The Greek Gods were masters of this. They played mortal man like a Stradivarius (which hadn't been invented yet, but it makes for a good example). They screwed around with the mortal's heads so much that the Greeks wrote works like "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" as a record for future lawsuits. Luckily for the Gods, lawyers hadn't been invented yet either, which was the major reason it was called The Golden Age of Civilization.

Now the God of the Old Testament had the right idea. When God wanted man's attention, you can be sure He didn't beat around the bush. In fact, a burning bush was about as subtle as He got. Usually it was plagues of Biblical proportions, edicts to off the first born, angels with flaming swords, etc. No namby-pamby thrushes singing for him. Smiting the wicked usually got the message across, and if man was too dense to figure out God's plan a plague of locusts usually did the trick. Or a flaming lawyer.

Nowadays, of course, people are too sophisticated to believe in omens. Luck, The Psychic Network and Alan Greenspan, maybe, but not omens.

A good example of this is "Wildfire", one of those sappy songs from the 1970s about a guy whose lover used to ride around Nebraska on a horse named, you guessed it, "Wildfire". Then, one night tragedy struck. As the song goes:

Oh' they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down its stall
In a blizzard he was lost

She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire

By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There's been a hoot'owl howling by my window now
For six nights in a row
She's coming for me' I know
And on Wildfire we're both gonna go

I'll spare you the rest. What I want to know is, how does the singer draw a connection between "A hoot'owl howling by my window now for six nights in a row" and the return of his dead lover and her equally dead horse? And why are they back? Is Wildfire upset that he was stabled in such a cheap stall that he could easily kick it down and head out into the storm? Was the horse heavily insured? And where does natural selection fit into all this? Maybe I'm being too harsh; I hear Mr. Ed went the same way.
So, is the singer seeing signs or just being paranoid? It's hard to say. I don't know about you, but if some spectral being was coming for me in the night, I'd be worried, too.
But, as Freud said, sometimes a hoot'owl is just a hoot'owl.



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©2004 Brian Codagnone
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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
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Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics .. ..Books for Sale . Online Store..
In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11