Feb 5: Sinbad and the Animal Spirits

Well, it took us, what, 35 days, but we are double-dipping for the first time – it’s back to the 1001 nights (Vol. 16) And that’s okay – we need a chaser after all of yesterday’s Philosophy.

Indeed I’m starting to get into the rhythm of the thing. I really do wonder, “where are you taking me today”? This is just what they intended, I’m afraid: in the words of the Copywriter’s (I’m capitalizing him/her now) awesome prose, “We want something to carry us out of ourselves, to take us a million miles from our humdrum existence, to stimulate our minds to fresh endavor, to give us a new viewpoint upon our problems, to enable us to get a fresh hold upon ourselves.”

I wouldn’t go that far. But it’s kind of fun, in a way, to have part of your day spent reading some weird old text that someone else picked out. Today it’s the Second Voyage of Sinbad -- or “Es-Sindibad” as he’s called in the text, so we can mercifully tell him apart from this guy:


Anyways, Sinbad travels. Why? Because he longs to. Because if he wants to stay at home among his treasures, we got no story.

Everything’s going great – he’s on an island being lulled to sleep by a zephyr. “O if only it had been a breeze,” I’m already thinking. Whoops, they left without him: I looked about it to the right and left, and found not in it any one save myself. I was therefore affected with violent vexation, not to be exceeded, and my gall-bladder almost burst by reason of the severity of my grief and mourning and fatigue.

Who hasn’t been there? My gall-bladder aches right now, thinking about it.

He escapes the island (by tying his turban to the foot of an enormous bird), but winds up in a desert:

I therefore blamed myself for that which I had done, and said, Would that I had remained in the island, since it is better than this desert place; for in the island are found, among various fruits, what I might have eaten, and I might have drunk of its rivers; but in this place are neither trees nor fruits nor rivers: and there is no strength nor power but in God, the High, the Great! Verily every time that I escape from a calamity, I fall into another that is greater and more severe!
If you had a sidekick, this is the point where you hit him with your hat. Also, there are big diamonds. And bigger snakes. And then I hit myself with my own hat and say – of course! Indiana Jones! Young master Delicious, who’s in an Indy phase, is going to love this (probably not).

There’s also this device they use where something happens (in this case, a slaughtered animal falls from the sky), and then Sinbad remembers something important to the plot. I’ve always kind of hated this kind of storytelling – it’s so convenient – but it is economical. Also economical – Sinbad’s device of tying himself to something and then allowing himself to be transported away….where he meets a merchant.

It’s worth noting that the only people who come into this godforsaken place are merchants. It’s really commerce that drives human enterprise – I think the Apollo program fooled us. When we finally build a moon base, it will be because Coca-Cola thinks it’s a good location for a bottling plant.

And then, after a stop at what can only be called a resort hotel, he comes home! The climax was in the middle of the story! Truly the Levantine people do not share our ways.

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