Thursday, September 09, 2010


A brief lie intended to illustrate some important truth. A statue of Eve and the Apple was accosted by a hippopotamus on a show-bill.
"Give me a bite of your apple," said the hippopotamous, "and see me smile."
"I would," said Eve, making a rough estimate of the probable dimensions of the smile, "but I have promised a bite to the Mammoth Cave, another to the crater of Vesuvius, and a third to the interval between the lowest anthropoid Methodist and the most highly organized wooden Indian. I must be just before I am generous."

This fable teaches that justice and generosity do not go hand in hand, the hand of generosity being commonly thrust in the pocket of Justice.

2010 Update: An allegory in which animals and insects are debased with human motives for the edification of children who only want sugar.
Once upon a time, a baby mouse left his home to seek the advice of a very wise sparrow. He eluded the cat, and braved the streets and darted from bush to bush avoiding wolves and foxes and finally reached the nest of the wise sparrow on a long thin bough of a tall, tall tree. The sparrow was not home, so the little mouse waited and waited patiently until a sudden gale pulled him from the bough and threw him over a cliff. Back at home his little mousie mother finally had time to study latin and prepare for her next litter.
Moral: Only a fool seeks wisdom without knowing what he'll find.

Bonus prophesy: I wasn't trying to be coy in comments. This blog now has more definitions than Bierce's original publication and much of the work is now finding one that hasn't been done already. In fact, that now takes more time than writing most posts. When The Reformation of Wolfshausen ends, theoretically on episode 95, presumably on November 6, I expect to close this site. After that, I intend to continue reading all of you and we can all still be in touch. I'll repeat this later, I'm sure, but I'm very appreciative of all of you for making this a fun project.


Ariel the Thief said...

Do you think Doug Drones On can go on? Not trying to be pushy, though, just asking.

Doug said... "Ariel, sure, if I can think of anyhting to say in more than three sentences."

Ariel said... "Thank you very much indeed, Doug. One is out of all waters with you."

Doug said... "Ariel, one is supposed to swim when in water."

Ariel said... *nothing but tries to kick Doug while swimming*

the amoeba said...

"... for the edification of children who only want sugar."

Written like an experienced nephew-sitter.

Once again, in providing a sunset clause for Waking Ambrose, the Dawg proves himself wiser than the average Federal legislator. Never mind the wooden Indians in Sacramento.

actonbell said...

We'll hold you to that.

I love the update:)

TLP said...

But a seeker never knows what she will find. And the little mouse discovered the wisdom of "you're too young to be out without your mother."

(I know that you will stay in touch. I realize the blog can't go on and on, and that you have done wonderfully well to post so long and so faithfully. But I'm still gonna moan about it. Anyhoo.)

Anonymous said...

Fable or not can't you start a new one somehow somewhere? There's got to be plenty of words out there. Just check Oxford's. :)

Nessa said...

I bet this whole thing is a fable to teach us not to believe everything we read. Right? Just tell me I'm right. It's easier that way.

Jim said...

Oh Shucks! First Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny. Now you tell me the fables are false?? Woe is me.

On a lighter note, I have marked my calendar for November 6. That is THIS YEAR, right?

My vote is for you to keep this blog in limbo and start a new blog with short stories and poetry.

You wouldn't have to write everday; I stopped doing that a long time ago. Now just on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays do I post. Generally three times a week on each blog. My readership is a lot lower than yours.

You've done excellently here, thou good and faithful blogger. :)

quilly said...

Sometimes it is better not to know. Had I known that the sad day would come when your blog would end and break my heart, I never would have started here and gotten so attached to it.

tsduff said...

Ditto Quilly.

I have always especially loved fables - probably because Aesop spelled his name so weird, but also because they usually dealt with animals. I understand.

Ravens don't cry. (yes they do)
I can't imagine Blogger without Walking Ambrose.

Anonymous said...

fable was the word right,
happily 420'd again,
so short term memory issues,

you have none
without the other

looking forward to the new litter
OMG,you know how everyone loves puppies

now as for wisdom and fools
they seem to go hand in hand
it is the vocal cords
or keystrokes
that determine ones legacy

favorite fable...animal farm

PEACE and out................

the under-paid
doing the impossible
with thanks from few

karen a. said...

"Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), 245 Fables with a flair of modernism and legality."

What about reprinting these fables, but only on Friday? Then all you need do is think of an updated moral.


2010/11 Moral Update: A fool (and Robinson Crusoe) can always count on Friday.

Doug said...

Ariel, maybe this is why you can't swim?

Amoeba, thank you. Call it a stimulus plan.

Thanks, Actonbell.

TLP, that's a good moral, too. You have an open invitation to moan.

Thom, sure I can. I'm guessing this will be my only lexicography blog but we'll see. And, that's funny, but no, I'm not doing the OED.

Nessa, the part about the mouse is meant as a fable, yes.

Thanks, Jim. Another blog is a possibility. I'll think about it in two months after this one is put to bed.

Quilly, there are only so many words in The Devil's Dictionary. In fact, there are more here.

Terry, you won't have to imagine. I can't imagine Waking Ambrose without Chicago-style hot dogs and grilled meat.

Bear, that was really funny.

Karen, that was a great moral. Somebody should do a blog about Bierce's fables. Some of them are really funny.

cooper said...

"In western lands beneath the Sun
The flowers may rise in Spring,
The trees may bud, the waters run,
The merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night,
And swaying branches bear
The Elven-stars as jewels white
Amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie
In darkness buried deep,
Beyond all towers strong and high,
Beyond all mountains steep,
Above all shadows rides the Sun
And Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
Nor bid the Stars farewell.

Doug said...

Perfect, Coop. Thanks.