(A Fable from the Dead Issue Scrolls)

--deciphered & translated 1977

A large Nation it was; abundant and seeming prosperous. Most even of its poorest citizens -- those who found no employment suiting them and who therefor labored not but depended for their sustenance on productivity of others -- were fed, clothed, housed and entertained in manner beyond even imaginations of their counterparts in other lands.

Not always had that Nation been called Ooze. Time had been when it was regarded by peoples elsewhere with more of "Ooh's" and "Ahh's" not only for its abundance and actual prosperity, but even more for its vitality, self-reliance and rugged righteousness in dealing with other Nations small or large.

But lately, due to certain changes in official character that Nation had come to be regarded by even the smallest of fiefdoms elsewhere as amounting now to not much more than ooze.

Not all of its citizens were Oozians -- at least not loyally so. Some few still sought to remain self-reliant and independent despite the burden of providing at the same time for the needs and ever-increasing desires of their indigent countrymen. but they had become a silenced minority, with no voice in the conduct of National affairs and very little of freedom remaining in the conduct of their own affairs.

Now there was in that Land of Ooze a quaint, quadrennial custom -- the staging of a Great Carnival to select someone to sit upon its Throne. This custom, it might well be noted, was a carry-over from earlier times -- from the era of "Ooh's" and "Ahh's". Then the industrious and productive People of the Land had elected a President every four years, to serve them as such (though not upon a Throne).

But surely as doth the character of a Nation change, so also doth change its political customs -- or Vice-Versa.

The Carnival itself lasted but a few months, but preparations for it were ever on-going. Those preparations consisted mainly in the creation of Images; and finally selection of just two of those Images between which the people were allowed to choose on the last day of the Carnival as to which of them could sit upon the Throne.

Usually the Images were created by enshrouding of a real person with glorious raiment (literally and literarily). So it was in fact a real person, not merely an Image, who would eventually sit upon the Throne. But most citizens would have no chance to see that real person until after his Image had been chosen at the Carnival and he was seated upon the Throne.

Image-making had become one of the major industries in the Land. The Image-makers wee known as the Wizards of Ooze.

A great many Images were usually created in first stages of preparations for the Carnival. The selection as to which two of the many Throne-seeking Images would be offered for the citizens' choosing was made by a couple of organizations called "Parties." One of these was known as the Reprobate Party; the other as the Demagog Party.

(Legend has it that the Parties were once known by somewhat different names than that. But when the Nation came to be known as Ooze, Reprobate and Demagog became more appropriate labels for most of its Politicians.)

Foremost among those in the Land of Ooze who desired to sit upon the Throne -- (foremost in desiring it, that is) -- was a fellow named N Rockyfinger. Lo! For many years, with the help of a host of Wizards, did N Rockyfinger seek to make of himself an Image attractive enough that the citizenry would acclaim it to the Throne.

Indeed, he was in his own mind convinced that he had done so. However, -- as he did eventually himself lament -- so intent was he on making his Image pleasing to the People that he failed to make it pleasing to one of the Parties. And before any Image might be acclaimed to the Throne by the People, it had first to get itself approved by one of the Parties.

(That, too, was a change from earlier times before the Nation became known as Ooze. Before the Parties became known as Reprobate and Demagog, instead of whatever else they were once called, most Politicians of both Parties had agreed that the Nation must have a strictly Two-Party System; perhaps in order to make it easier for the People to make a selection of Images.)

Time and again did n Rockyfinger make his Image thus available to the Reprobate Party. But exactly the same number of times it was rejected in favor of some other Image which (if the truth be seen) must surely have been of lesser proportions than his. Leastwise, the others were products of far less wizardry.

And each time his Image was thus rejected, N Rockyfinger was much dejected -- also sorely vexed and perhaps a bit displeased. To vent his frustrations did he do various things. Sometimes he did sulk for a bit. Once he was heard to utter profane words at some of his fellow Reprobates. He was even seen contorting his face (and perhaps part of his Image) unpleasantly, and also gesturing in unseemly manner.

But it must be understood those were acts of N Rockyfinger, himself; not of his Throne-seeking Image.

In one moment of voracious vexation he was heard to avow that he should have offered his incomparable Image to the Demagog Party, instead of to those reprehensible Reprobates. Several otherwise disagreeable Reprobates agreed with him on that. N Rockyfinger, said they, was really not a reputable Reprobate anyway, but a Demagog in disguise. However, an unbiased, bipartisan bystander bespoke the belief that n Rockyfinger was really a bit of both.

So vexed did N Rockyfinger once become that he flatly refused to himself vote during the Carnival for the Image the Reprobate Party had selected in his stead. He did also on that occasion order his Wizards likewise to do. In consequence the Image chosen by the Reprobate Party was not chosen by the People. Placed on the Throne instead was a Demagog of such minor stature that he was referred to mostly by his initials rather than by name.

Yet again, at a subsequent Carnival did N Rockyfinger threaten to do the same. But he relented when the Image selected in his stead agreed to let some Rockyfinger Wizards occupy well-cushioned seats nearby to the Throne. And Lo! With the help of N Rockyfinger and his Wizards, the Image chosen by the Reprobates was also chosen by the People and ascended to the Throne.

Then did it come to pass in that Fabulous Land of Ooze that the occupant of the Throne fell off! Well actually, to be perfectly honest about it -- (Fables are always honest even if sometimes a bit vague or obscure.) -- he was pushed off! And though many hands helped in the pushing, perhaps for nearly as many different reasons, in the forefront thereof several of N Rockyfinger's Wizards were clearly to be seen.

Yea! Even some of the Wizards who had been afforded plush cushions nearby to the Throne did aid in the pushing. And in the dim background urging them on -- (you might well have guessed) -- was N Rockyfinger, himself. In person, that was, apart from his Image, since Images must ever be kept aloof and untarnished if possible.

No never - NevrR - NEVER - dare it be allowed that the Throne of Ooze should stand empty! For without an Image thereon for them either to worship or to vilify many of the People of Ooze would be like unto fishes without tails or horses without heads.

(Actually, many are like unto one or the other of those even when the Throne is occupied. But the appearance of purpose in their respective worshipping or vilifying renders the likeness less obvious.)

Thus and therefor - was it necessary to at once place another Image upon the Throne without the ritual of Popular selection because there was not enough time for another Carnival. Hastily, then, did some of those same hands which had pushed the previous Image off the Throne place another upon it.

Hastily -- but not thoughtlessly. Because it was impossible instantly to develop two well-cultured Images from which the People might select, a few Official Selectors nearby to the Throne (including some of the off-pushers) had in advance selected a replacement with practically no Image at all. (How well cultured said replacement was is far afield from this fable.)

Indeed, it was mainly because he was nearly Imageless that some of the Official Selectors were willing that said replacement be named in advance if perchance (or for reason other than chance) the Throne should suddenly become vacant. Even more was he approved in advance by some of those Official Selectors because he had said unto them that he had no desire to sit upon the Throne. And his lack of a Throne-seeking Image indicated to them that it was the Truth he did then speak.

Only until the next Great Carnival was it expected that the near-Imageless one would sit upon the Throne. And little else but sitting was expected of him. And it can be said for him that he reasonably fulfilled both of those expectations.

Yet one thing was required of him, other than just sitting. He was called upon at once to name yet another replacement in case he should himself fall off the Throne or otherwise vacate it before the next Quadrennial Carnival. And to the great surprise of everyone -- (except some few who happened to know what was happening) -- the name at once uttered by that near-Imageless, temporary occupant of the Throne of Ooze was:

"N Rockyfinger!"

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