Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Tale of the Casual English Intellectuals Who Became the Sussex Wraiths (Episode 3 of 3)

Episode 1: The Pipe-Smoking Casual English Intellectuals Fight for Seven Sinecures
Episode 2: The Night of the Strangulation Nightmares and the Infestation of the Sussex Wraiths

Episode 3: ‘My writing will eclipse your writing, and my snakes will eat up your snakes’

‘“The stars, moon, and sun have been darkening for six nights and five days, but the rate of decrease of light declined slightly last night. The decrease might have crested, but that doesn’t guarantee that the trend will be reversed.”
‘“How would you go about increasing the light of the stars and the moon and the sun?” Laughter-Lynn Casement asked.
‘“Easy,” said Jane Chantal. “I’d get New Giants installed and get them to writing brighter stars and moon and sun.”
‘“The New Giants in my Manor in Sussex give me no satisfaction at all this morning,” Drusilla said. “They tell me that they have rejected my nominal suzerainty. They say that they may write the stars out of existence completely in the interest of simplicity, and they may write out our present moon and write in seven smaller moons to be named for each of them. I don’t know who their seventh giant is now, since Roderick Outreach is dead. They say they will write in a thermostat for the sun so it will lighten or darken or heat or cool instantly as desired. And they are writing out the nine minute or so delay that has been elapsing while the heat and light comes from the sun.”
‘“There will always be trouble when professionals are able to take over jobs like that,” Laughter-Lynn said.’

‘An Arabian sort of man came up to Jane Chantal as she walked in her new sorrow in the French Garden of the wonderful estate of Denis Lollardy at Lecco.
‘“The El-Khatar Giant, whom I serve, says that he is weary and wishes to die as Atrox has died, as the Hsiang Giant has died, and as the Illacrove Giant died during the night just past. Now the El-Khatar Giant wishes to die just as soon as he can get a replacement.”
‘“Yes, all right, I will, I’ll be glad to be his replacement,” Jane Chantal said… “I know exactly how to replace a scribbling giant. I’m born for the job…
‘On the wonderful estate of Denis Lollardy was his French Garden, English Garden, Italian Garden, Persian Garden, Arabian Garden, and Japanese Garden all in high style.
‘“It’s funny that I don’t remember some of them, and they are surely of memorable appearance,” Denis considered the matter. “In all my life I never saw such beauty of design. But I don’t remember the Moravian Garden at all. And the Armenian Garden! I wonder how one says de trop in Armenian?”
‘So he went to seek the source of his new blessings, and he found Jane Chantal High-Queen painting and writing at a slab table that beggared description.
‘“I have had a wonderful estate for a long time, Janie,” he said, “but it has not been this wonderful until just this morning. Have you a finger in this matter, dear? Is it, in fact, a form of your finger painting?”
‘“Yes, I have ten fingers into it, Denis, clear up to my navel. I thought I would write you the most beautiful estate possible… Do you have a geography book in your house, Denis?”
‘“Yes, but why don’t you write your own geography, Janie?”
‘“I don’t think I’m supposed to innovate on such a big scale, not in my first day on the job as New Giantess. I experiment a little bit yet. I write that the men working in the field over there should be happy, and they laugh and giggle as if they’d rupture themselves. Then I write ‘not that damned happy’, and they are as they were to begin with.”
“I don’t understand how you came by your special competence for writing the world.”
‘“I’ve been dead, and now I live again. That hasn’t happened to most people. And then I’m an artist in all the arts, and hardly anyone else is, except possibly you.”
‘“What are you working on now, Janie?”
‘“I’m going to fix those false, pipe-smoking neo-giants back in Drusilla’s Manor house in Sussex, England. I’m giving them boils now, and turning their drinking water into blood. I’m going to give them all the ten plagues of Egypt if they don’t get out of the world-writing business. They aren’t very effective at it, but their ideas are so dark that they’d ruin the world if they were effective. And I can feel lots of points of contact between their trashiness and my valid work. I read somewhere about an eleventh plague of Egypt. If I can remember what it was, I’ll write that they’ll get it too. They’ll have to give up pretty soon. I tell them ‘My writing will eclipse your writing, and my snakes will eat up your snakes’.”’
‘In the state of rapture that his best work had put him into, Gorgonius was not too surprised when a strange man (a strange man whom he had known for many decades) came to him with a half-strange message.
‘“What is it, Otto?” Gorgonius asked that man who lived still higher up on the mountain than himself. “What is the message?”
‘“The Alpenriese, the Alpine Giant, whom I serve, says that he is weary and wishes to die, as Atrox has died, as the Hsiang Giant has died, as the Illacrove Giant has died, as the El-Khatar Giant has died in the night just past.”
‘“What, Otto? Is the Alpine Giant, he who lives in the strange cave on top of this very mountain, one of the Scribbling Giants who write the world? Well, no Giant is a hero on his own Mountain, but I wouldn’t have suspected it of him.”
‘“Yes, Prince Gorgonius, he is one of the Giants who write the world. And he wishes to die as soon as he can find a replacement. He said to ask whether you would be his replacement?”
‘“I can hardly refuse it, Otto. I’ll take the position mainly to keep out the incompetents. The phenomenon of the Sussex Wraiths, that bunch who reached for giantism and hadn’t the ability for it, must not happen again.”’

-R. A. Lafferty, East of Laughter (1988), p. 123; p. 126; p. 144

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'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)