Shooting Stars

In the Kory culture, all of humankind is represented in the stars. Mental states are parts of constellations. Someone who is depressed is in the constellation of the lala, a dark flower which blooms at night. It attracts bats, creatures of the night who typically feed on insects but also pollinate this unusual flower. From the lala emanates a subtly putrid smell, reminiscent of decaying flesh. In this culture, Lalaland has a rather bleak landscape. People there lack physical and mental energy. Actions and thoughts require a great deal of effort so its inhabitants spend much time sleeping, hence the nocturnal flower.

Someone suffering from delusions also holds a sacred place in the night sky. There is a constellation called the dandelion. It boasts a cluster of stars that seem to pulse through the night as some stars fade and some get brighter. It gives a feeling of expansion, as though a breeze scatters the stars over the course of the night.

In a similar vein, people with eating disorders can find themselves in the vicinity of Venus, the planet alternately known as the morning star or the evening star. It represents the confusion these people feel about their place in the world, as they cannot decide whether to live or die. This ambiguity around survival is seen as a deep philosophical conflict and people with eating disorders are highly regarded in that society.

Everyone can claim a spot of their own in the sky and explain the constellation in terms of their worldview. Everyone’s logic is accepted – the stars exist and the person exists. The correlation is easy to make. When you feel you no longer fit that constellation, you wait for a shower of shooting stars and change your allegiance. Great ceremonies are held during such a time, and people reinvent themselves publicly, and their new personality is accepted as such.

Anthropologists have studied mental health in different cultures and concluded that the Kory have elevated its understanding to an art form. By mapping their internal states to a very public manifestation in the sky, the mythology becomes powerful, and their being becomes woven in the fabric of life. There exists a very strong social network and a shared kinship with the elements. There is also an understanding that people change over time and across seasons. In the rainy season, people rely more on the symbols on Earth to maintain their sense of self. When people fall in love, they look to the sky to divine their compatibility. They create a shared story to marry their unique place in the sky.

The Kory Creation myth is not centered around the Sun and the Moon, but is based on subtle relationships between the stars. The Kory, of course, are keen navigators, on land and on the seas. Each constellation is a friend with a dark or sunny personality. There are no right or wrong. There just is. They are a well-adjusted compassionate people with a scientific bend.

Spring

We go down the sandy path
Crazy birds singing at the top of their lungs
Or hopping under foot
A squirrel with a death wish taunts my dog

My body tenses up
Remembering the falls not too long ago
I breathe in the quiet
Exhale the tension

My dog is grazing the tender blades
Of new grass
Unseen dangers now lurk
In the guise of poison ivy

I hook the leash back on
Before we reach the main road
I get pulled
All the way to breakfast

Dogsville

Buddy lived with two humans, devoted to each other. It was always easier getting a pair of them. They kept each other company and did not try to run out as soon as you got ready to leave the house. You weren’t as concerned that they would be lonely in your absence. Those were older and rather quiet. When he had to leave them behind, Buddy usually left the radio on. They seemed to enjoy classical music the most; he kept the volume low.

 

Kramer saw Buddy from afar and wagged his tail. His humans were rather tall. He too got a pair, for the same reason. Granted, they cost more in food and incidentals but they cuddled together, played and worked side by side, and seemed generally content with their lot. Sometimes, you really got the impression they were communicating with each other. Kramer had gotten the female a red leather handbag, and she filled it with her possessions and brought it with her everywhere they went. It was really cute. Kramer and Buddy greeted each other and chatted about the derelict house, near the train tracks. It was all anybody could discuss.

 

Soon, Fifi joined them, with one of her humans. “Where is the fat one?” they inquired. “I left him home,” she replied. “He’s getting slow and I wanted to catch up with you. He can no longer keep up,” she said sadly. “Do you think he’s in pain?” asked Buddy. “I don’t know. He’s slower getting up. It seems to be his hip. I put painkillers in his food, but he knows. He eats all around it but won’t take the pill. I have to shove it down his throat.” They chuckled sympathetically. “She’s fit, though,” they continued, pointing at the female. Like Fifi, she was well-groomed and perky, the pride of the pack. Kramer’s male paid her lots of attention. His female looked bored. They walked together, talking.

 

Buddy was on his way to the groomer’s. He grew shaggy between haircuts and was overdue. That explained why he had left his humans behind. It was better for them to stay in the comfort of their homes. They got bored at the groomer’s, and started pestering him before too long. He had learnt his lesson. Still, he felt awkward walking by himself and was glad for the company. They headed in the same direction, commenting on the interactions between their humans. When you had nothing to say, you could always laugh at your human’s antics.

 

They passed by Laika’s home. Laika was a beautiful dalmatian, tall and elegant. Her humans were well-behaved. She had three, which was a handful. She had kept an offspring. It was often a good idea, because the parents tended to be less trouble after a birth. They were more tired, looking after the baby. They got attached very quickly and Laika did not have the heart to take it away from them. She had named the baby girl Pat, a good soft name. The baby did not yet react to it. That was okay, it was a long process with humans, but she was patient.

 

Buddy detached himself from the group as Kramer and Fifi had decided to go to the park to socialize their humans. They could roam freely there. He hurried along; he hated being late. He still had to go past the derelict house, which he dreaded. It was an eyesore. Humans had taken over, and the grounds were infested with squirrels. From the corner of his eye, he saw a curtain move. A human was looking out from the upstairs window. He seemed sad. One would be, without a good dog to take care of you.

 

He should bring the matter up again at the next town meeting. This state of affairs should not be allowed to go on. The humans were teenagers, at that difficult age when you are full of energy and need a firm hand to guide you. Sometimes they could be seen roaming at night, slinking in shadows looking for food. Next thing you know, more would join in and they would start making trouble. He sighed. Rocky had been a hermit, and it took the townsfolk a while to realize he had passed away. In the meantime, a posse had formed, whose sole interest seemed to be to rile the good citizens of Dogsville. A few of the humans were on the porch, smoking. They had spotted him; he could hear them talking in low voices. One whistled at him, derisively. “Here, boy,” barked another. His body stiffened, his ears perked up, but he did not look their way. He would not give them that satisfaction. He was suddenly self-conscious of his long unkempt coat. He gladly stepped into the groomer’s store with its tinkling bell and its “No humans allowed” sign.

 

“Good day,” he said to no one in particular. They were all in various states of grooming, getting bathed and shampooed, trimmed or pedicured. It smelled nice and there was always an abundance of treats and snacks. The service was excellent – everyone kept coming here, even though the neighborhood was going to the humans. “Hey, Buddy,” said the owner. They had known each other since they were pups, had rolled in the mudholes together and fought over girls. “You’re overdue for your trim,” he said reproachfully. But then, “How is your baby girl?” He took out pictures. Everybody huddled around to have a look. “They’re so cute when they’re small.” “Look at her little toes,” said another. “It makes you want to adopt,” said a third, amongst the general oohs and ahhhs. He smiled proudly, basking in reflected glory. “She’s starting to crawl,” he announced. “Better keep out of the way. Her teeth will be coming out soon!” They laughed. “Are you getting enough sleep?” “It’s a challenge,” he admitted, as he settled down for his shampoo. All his cares washed away. Even the threat of the teenagers felt moot.

Thor

My friend was big and strong. I hung out with him every day. They were jealous because none was brave enough, strong enough or smart enough to scale him. His trunk was too large to embrace, his branches too high to put them in reach of a single leap. They tried giving each other piggybacks but then the boy who succeeded found himself too high and at a loss to get down by himself. It was hopeless.

They resorted to mockery, a form of admiration I was well acquainted with. They called me Tarzan and made whooping noises. I paid them no mind, busy as I was exploring my friend’s nooks and crannies, high and higher. My Jane watched from afar. She got a rough idea where the holds were, the invisible bumps and depressions a secret passageway on the way up. I watched her the day she doggedly made her way to the lowest limb. We were built the same, a slight frame and a strong will. She rested on the first branch, one hand clutching a smaller branch, the other hovering, for balance. Her gaze stopped on the tree behind which I was hiding, her delighted smile an invitation to join her.

I climbed quickly – she made room for me on the branch. “I was afraid you would find me too bold.” She spoke as though we were in a salon. “Mylady,” I fumbled, “I am pleased you would deign enter my humble abode.” She lit up. She lit up! “Dear Sir, your abode houses hundreds of servants, food for the masses, and has a spectacular view. Few have reached such heights.” “Madam,” I bowed, “won’t you come to the penthouse?” She giggled. We cautiously climbed higher. I led the way so she could see where to place her hands and feet. She bravely sustained a few scratches as we forced our way down paths unfamiliar to her. When we stopped again, I delicately plucked twigs from her hair. She did not recoil at my touch, nor shriek when she saw insects. She actually followed an ant to the colony and stayed there awhile to observe the back and forth. I wanted to show her more.

We climbed still higher, the wind leading the branches and leaves in a slow dance. We were part of the music, inside the symphony. The bark, in turn rough and smooth, a score for the blind. She was humming unselfconsciously, standing on a branch, her arm wrapped around the trunk, her fingers tapping lightly. She too was grinning.

The descent was perilous. She was tired and unused to coming down blind. I was guiding her as best I could, creating a resting place for her feet with my hands. She asked to stop. She enquired, “What’s his name?” I did not hesitate. “Thor. Thor the Protector.” She nodded gravely.

We separated once our feet touched the ground. “Time for supper.” Her eyes into mine. Tomorrow, I pleaded silently. Tomorrow, her eyes replied.

Topiary Artist

She was a topiary artist. Hers was an early vocation. She was inspired by Grace Jones’ hair, a veritable chef d’oeuvre, but as she had no inclination to talk to people and listen to their critiques, she turned to plants. She did all the talking, explaining her plans, showing them her sketches, and asking for their cooperation before trimming them.  She had a soft spot for jungle animals that she sketched live at the zoo. Her skills were in high demand, especially for lions whose mane was made of Boston ivy so it turned fiery red in the fall.

After a journalist who was visiting his aunt wrote a travel piece on the Web, the little town was overwhelmed with tourists wanting to see the famous lions. The whole town’s economy soon revolved around garden tours, and buses disgorged rich widows with nothing to do but break the monotony of their lives with silly trips and shopping sprees. Postcards with topiary art sprung to life, t-shirts, dish towels, placemats, puzzles,… and demand for her work grew.

There was nothing she loved more than work on live plants, with the sensitivity of a sculptress, bringing to life the beast within the live matter. Plants revealed their true character – cubs playing, giraffes munching leaves, placid buffalos. It seemed normal to local children to play amidst wild plant-animals that were frozen mid-movement. The town’s inhabitants donated a piece of land so it could be turned into a public park, commissioning the artist to populate it with her imagination.

Local contests were held in schools to encourage the kids’ participation and the winner’s drawing was mounted as a piece de resistance. It was a duck, and she managed to convey whimsy in the jaunt of his webbed feet and the comical slant of his eyebrows. The piece was unveiled with a plaque showing the kids’ name and drawing. A barbecue was held to celebrate the opening of the park and the inhabitants walked amongst the wonderful creatures. They liked their realism and fine proportions as well as being able to recognize them. There was a quiet area for kids, where bushes had been turned into squirrels and bunnies – the bunnies made out of furry plants that were soft to the touch.

Unfortunately, one night, the whimsical creatures were expertly vandalized into slightly crooked and deformed caricatures. They remained works of art, but the original intent was turned on its head. The miscreant – for there was only one, after all – was apprehended; at the artist’s insistence, he was ordered to do community work with her. As the artist was excited to meet a fellow topiary artist, they became fast friends. She learned from him a certain cynicism that added some bite to her otherwise banal creations and turned her into an artist of higher stature. Her later works were considered more mature and won her critical acclaim. However, she never regained her following amongst the early admirers that had made her fame.

Shooting Stars

In the Kory culture, all of humankind is represented in the stars. Mental states are parts of constellations. Someone who is depressed is in the constellation of the lala, a dark flower which blooms at night. It attracts bats, creatures of the night who typically feed on insects but also pollinate this unusual flower. From the lala emanates a subtly putrid smell, reminiscent of decaying flesh. In this culture, Lalaland has a rather bleak landscape. People there lack physical and mental energy. Actions and thoughts require a great deal of effort so its inhabitants spend much time sleeping, hence the nocturnal flower.

Someone suffering from delusions also holds a sacred place in the night sky. There is a constellation called the dandelion. It boasts a cluster of stars that seem to pulse through the night as some stars fade and some get brighter. It gives a feeling of expansion, as though a breeze scatters the stars over the course of the night.

In a similar vein, people with eating disorders can find themselves in the vicinity of Venus, the planet alternately known as the morning star or the evening star. It represents the confusion these people feel about their place in the world, as they cannot decide whether to live or die. This ambiguity around survival is seen as a deep philosophical conflict and people with eating disorders are highly regarded in that society.

Everyone can claim a spot of their own in the sky and explain the constellation in terms of their worldview. Everyone’s logic is accepted – the stars exist and the person exists. The correlation is easy to make. When you feel you no longer fit that constellation, you wait for a shower of shooting stars and change your allegiance. Great ceremonies are held during such a time, and people reinvent themselves publicly, and their new personality is accepted as such.

Anthropologists have studied mental health in different cultures and concluded that the Kory have elevated its understanding to an art form. By mapping their internal states to a very public manifestation in the sky, the mythology becomes powerful, and their being becomes woven in the fabric of life. There exists a very strong social network and a shared kinship with the elements. There is also an understanding that people change over time and across seasons. In the rainy season, people rely more on the symbols on Earth to maintain their sense of self. When people fall in love, they look to the sky to divine their compatibility. They create a shared story to marry their unique place in the sky.

The Kory Creation myth is not centered around the Sun and the Moon, but is based on subtle relationships between the stars. The Kory, of course, are keen navigators, on land and on the seas. Each constellation is a friend with a dark or sunny personality. There are no right or wrong. There just is. They are a well-adjusted compassionate people with a scientific bend.