Jan 21: The Nightingale's Healing Melody

Okay, did you like Aesop? How about Hans Christian Andersen? It’s like these people who bought the Harvard Classics didn’t have childhoods. Nowadays, of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to not have read Hans Christian Andersen, because there are so many children’s books written by celebrities. I never read him, either, as I recall. I can’t really remember what I read as a kid. “Johnny Tremain,” I remember. And stuff from Scholastic like “Strange But True Baseball Stories.” But not the classics. But in those times concern about being deficient in the classics was not really fashionable. Were we really going to need those classics…on our moon base?

Then everything went to hell and our lack of knowledge of the classics was there to reproach us, just like always. Anyway, it’s his story “The Nightingale,” and it’s appropriate on this MLK day that “Chinaman” be a word in the very first sentence, it being a descriptive of the Emperor of China. Well, at least he’s not a Polack.

Seems there’s this nightingale in the Emperor’s garden, and the Emperor is miffed not to know him. The people at court don’t know him, for he lives outside of the court (like a mythical heartland voter).

And then, like a heartland voter in a Washington Post piece, the nightingale is replaced by automation, only when the bird wears out, and the Emperor is dying, only the real nightingale will do, just as economists are not welcome at deathbeds.

It all ends happily, but one wishes for payback from the nightingale, who has been ill-used. I suppose us artists are merely grateful for gigs.

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