Chiaroscuro Lyle Themyst (chefmongoose) wrote,
Chiaroscuro Lyle Themyst

Chapter 1

Many of you may be familiar with the setting of the following. Forgive me if my reinterpretation might seem haughty or derivative; but I find my best creativity starts from someone else's form. This braid likely shan't be so eternal, nor so golden; I tend to see things a bit more in black and white.


Achilles (The legendary Greek warrior, now in a visibly anthropomorphic canine form) has gone to visit his friend the Tortoise. After a knock on the tortoise's door, it opens.

Achilles: Good day to you, Tortoise.
Tortoise: Achilles?
Achilles: In the flesh. Well. It's less observable now.
Tortoise: Quite so! I barely recognized you until you spoke. That's quite a different look for you.
Achilles: Indeed, but I thought it more suitable given our neighborhood.
Tortoise: You've never struck me one as much for fashion, Achilles, though on your last birthday you dressed most handsomely. This outfit seems a bit more dog-eared. As for our neighborhood, I don't know what you mean.
Achilles: Well, do you recall that series of dialogues of ours that were transcribed by that Hofstadter fellow?
Tortoise: Do I ever. He even appeared in one of them himself.
Achilles: Well, several of our neighbors were in there too. You may recall Mr. Crab, Mr. Sloth, Dr. Anteater..
Tortoise: And the doctor's acquaintance, Aunt Hillary, the colony of ants.
Achilles: Does something strike you as common there?
Tortoise: Yes.. it does seem like aside from you, the neighborhood's been mainly talking animals! And now you've joined in.
Achilles: Now you've got it. As I spend more time nowadays with furries than other Greek warriors...
Tortoise: With what?
Achilles: Furries. Anthropomorphic animals.
Tortoise: Excuse me! I've never grown a bit of fur in my life, Achilles.
Achilles: Be that as it may, my reptilian friend, that's what you are in the common parlance.
Tortoise: And now I'm common too? You wound me, Achilles.
Achilles: Oh, Tortoise, you're nearly as unwoundable as I am. Let me explain: You are an animal, correct?
Tortoise: Like many tortoises before me.
Achilles: And yet, you speak with sophistication, have a home other than the shell on your back, have been with me to Coney Island, and design records to break Mr. Crab's phonographs. More human behavoir than that of a tortoise, thus you are an anthropomoprhic animal.
Tortoise: I see, Achilles. But now tell me where the fur comes in. Aside from on yourself, lately.
Achilles: I'm not entirely sure. It would seem from an overabundance of animals with fur in the stories and literature involving anthropomorphic animals: They seem to be the most popular subjects, esepecially among those who have become aware of the genre; and as 'Anthropomorphic animal' is such an unwieldy term, 'furry' has come to be the shorthand.
Tortoise: Well I can't say I'm terribly happy about it. I'm not furry in the least, IU should be properly referred to as a 'shelly'.
Achilles: 'Shelly'? You jest.
Tortoise: That's right, jest a shell and no fur. Mr. Crab would back me on this.. or at least sideways me on this.
Achilles: Hmm. You have a valid point there, but I'm afraid the vernacular has already spread sufficiently to resist change, and shorter but inaccurate terms tend to dominate. That wonderful pianoforte of Mr. Sloth's is referred to as simply a 'piano' nowadays.
Tortoise: I suppose I''ll have to accept it, though it seems absurd.
Achilles: A very Zen attitude to have..
Tortoise: Indeed.. So can you answer that koan of Joshu's now?
Achilles: Not that again, Tortoise! I'll unask the question, before I lose any Buddha-nature by discovering it.
Tortoise: Fair enough. Though I'm puzzled at why you're changed to this form in particular, when you could have been, say, another Tortoise.
Achilles: Oh, a bit of contrast is always good. Besides, one of my best-known attributes fits in well with the name.
Tortoise: What would that be?
Achilles: Well, naturally, Tortoise... my "Achilles'.. heel!"


Author's footnotes:

Yes, this will make a lot more sense if you've read Douglas R. Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. Future entries will diverge futher from that book, but you might enjoy picking up a copy if you haven't read it before.

As some will say, yes, other humans appeared in GEB:EGB, notably Zeno, Babbage and Turing (And even Silva and Gould.) But the only characters to appear in more than one dialogue are Achilles, The Tortoise, The Sloth, The Crab, and The Anteater; That's a 80% furry content.

Achilles's last line is best said in a Mr. Peabody voice.


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