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[xmca] The Fox and the Crow

I've been chewing over Greg's rather brilliant comment that Austin's idea about illocutionary force is basically magical. I would say it is less a folk view of speech than a child's view, Greg; speech is background noise for gettin' stuff done.


Geertz says--you know, in the opening essay in 'The Interpretation of Culture' where he talks about 'thick description' and that Maghrebi sheep trader with the improbable name of Cohen--that our objective descriptions of 'gettin' stuff done' very often cannot discern the wink in the blink.


Lately I've been translating those Krylov fables that Vygotsky talks about so much in "Psychology of Art" into English. It turns out they are really very winky and not very blinky. Here, for example, is what I've got for the Fox and the Crow:


Folks say foxy talk is bad

Happy words can make us sad.

Do we really hate them so?


Words are kindly. Words are smart.

But the gut speaks through the heart.

Hearts will sing...and heads will know. 


Look! A crow sees chunks of cheese.

So she takes them to the trees.

And she sits there with her treat.


See! A fox can smell the cheese.

Now he’s coming through the trees.

There’s the crow, about to eat.


Foxy sees. And Foxy speaks.

“Such black feathers! Such white cheeks!

What a lovely pair of wings!”


“What red lips and what a beak!

If I wait here, she will speak.

I can’t wait until she sings!”


Now this crow is not so dumb

But she’s lonely. And he’s come

All this way to sit and hear.


So she smiles. And she caws.

Cheese falls into Foxy’s jaws--

Cheese and Foxy disappear.


Now, I admit, I've taken a few liberties with Krylov--his raven is not quite the half believing, half knowing female that my crow is. But a nod is as good as a wink (to a blind horse).


David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

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