A Dance at the Dawn of Consciousness

A Mythical Creation Story of the Information Age

Shel Silverstein, whose name means "Of the Silver Chalice," died recently. He was a gifted writer of children's stories, including "A Light in the Attic," and "Where the Sidewalk Ends."

In Loving Memory
    Of Dear Soul Shel Silverstein
The Orenda Project and the MuseNet Players
    Are Pleased and Delighted to Offer
A Mythical Creation Dream
    Of the Communication Age
For Musers of All Ages...

                                 o o             
                              Rice Care
                         At God's Behest
                           We Humbly Offer
                         Myth and Merriment
                           Reflecting Mirthful Art

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Dawn Dance 1. The Dawn of Consciousness ------------------------- Once upon a thyme there was a garden. Among all the creatures of the Garden of Orenda, there lived naught but one of a kindly unicorn. The unicorn walked softly and browsed mirthfully on a patch of ivy, and knew not of the other creatures. Near one corner of the garden dwelled a young fawn browsing silently on tender shoots. Near another corner dwelled a young faun nibbling quietly on oats. Neither faun nor fawn had noticed each other, not to mention the solitary unicorn browsing in the ivy. Dawn Dance 2. The Advent of Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod --------------------------------------- One day the faun chanced to encounter the fawn not far from the patch of ivy. Startled and surprised by the unexpected appearance of the faun, the fawn felt a slight tremor of uncertainty and apprehension, for she had never seen a faun before. Intrigued and amused by the sight of the fawn, the faun felt an unfamiliar but urgent desire to approach the timid and trembling fawn. The faun fancied himself gallant and brave. The fawn blushed softly but stood her ground for she did not wish to betray any sign of timidity. Their eyes locked briefly, arousing their senses and keening their fences. The faun tossed a glance. The fawn batted it back with a flutter of lash. As the fawn blinked her eye, the faun sensed a trifle coolness in the air, which came upon him in a wave of shuddering ripples. The faun laughed and blinked oddly in startled reaction, for these were strange and weird sensations. The fawn, not to be outdone, returned blink for blink, keeping her blinks in tune with his. Before long they were blinking in synch. After a few synchronous blinks, the weird feelings subsided and both began to grow tired of tossing monotone gazes. But as the weirdness subsided, both faun and fawn became intrigued by the slightly naughty feeling of becoming slightly wired. The fawn, being the more creative of the pair, invented a new game. She began modulating her eyeblinks to enliven the game, and to discover just how carefully the faun was paying attention to the rhythm of her rhymes. The faun was sometimes slow to catch on to the fawn's game of theme and variations, but when he felt he got it, he would tender a nod. If the faun had caught on, the fawn mimicked his nod. But if the faun was still out to lunch, the fawn echoed not with a nod, but by turning her head to the side. A nod for being keen, and shake of the head for not being keen. All this winking, blinking, and nodding enabled the faun and the fawn to jointly invent a mirthful way to begin communicating. To open a connection, each gave the other two interlaced blinks, a wink, and a nod. Dawn Dance 3. A Chance To Prance ------------------ There was a watering hole in the Garden of Orenda, where the creatures of the garden slaked their thirst. One eventful day the faun chanced to encounter a fawn at the watering hole. With two blinks, a wink and a nod, they soon became certain they had recognized and acknowledged each other's presence. Prancing with delight, the fawn signaled a new game, but alas the faun was a tad slow to catch on. The more the fawn pranced, the more the faun stood still to watch the show in stunned confusion. Eventually the fawn gave up in anger and disgust and took a drink of water, for all that prancing had made her thirsty. The faun's bewilderment and confusion was matched by the fawn's feelings of ingenuity and foolishness at having tried in vain to engage the faun in a new kind of dance. As a soft rain began to fall, the faun and the fawn heard an ominous rolling thunder in the distance. The invading storm broke up the game, and both scurried home to shelter. While it was not the happiest of days, both felt hopeful of a future chance encounter. Dawn Dance 4. The Invention of Meditative Dreaming ------------------------------------ That night, as the faun slept, a dream came into his sleep. He dreamed of encountering the fawn again and engaging her on better terms. He dreamed of her prancing, he dreamed of her gamboling, he dreamed of her every move. When he awoke in the mourning, the faun felt refreshed and eager for a new day. The fawn dreamed too, but it was a different kind of dream. She dreamed of a scene of quiet and emptiness, much like a blank canvas. Gradually, inevitably, as if by an invisible hand, the canvas filled with a tangled web of multicolored lines. Gradually, invisibly, there arose in her ear a rising buzz of discordant sounds, a harsh, dunning, and deafening cacophony. When she awoke in the mourning, the fawn felt troubled with vague feelings of doom and gloom. The fawn wanted to describe her dream to her mother, but in her sorrow, the fawn decided not to burden her mother with the dilemma of making sense of such a strange dream. As so the fawn wondered in silent puzzlement what such a strange dream could mean. Dawn Dance 5. The Invention of Dancing and Prancing ------------------------------------- A few days later, the faun and the fawn chanced to meet near the ivy patch. This time the fawn seemed a trifle moody and melancholy. So the faun began to prance, awkwardly at first, not unlike the way he had seen the fawn prance before at the watering hole. For a while, the fawn tried to ignore the antics of the prancing faun, by pretending not to notice. But eventually the faun got so carried away, he stumbled on a root of ivy and took an undignified fall, whereupon the fawn began to nod gleefully, although she secretly felt sorry for him. It was not one of the faun's better days, for he was feeling both embarrassed and mortified, not to mention oddly indignant at the root of his stumble. But the day was not a total loss. That night, when each of them dreamed, some helpful insights came to each, and both woke up in the mourning feeling more aware and more confident. Each understood a little better what they each needed to work on. Eventually the faun and the fawn could meet near the ivy and dance their prances with increasingly melodic harmony. And both were feeling ever more connected and mirthful. Dawn Dance 6. The Days of Whine and Roses --------------------------- In the days and weeks that followed, the fawn liked to browse on her tender shoots, while the faun liked to nibble his oats, and they both looked forward to chance encounters near the ivy. Neither one knew what the day would bring. Some days were sunny and rosy and their adventures and gamboling went well. On other days one of them would try a creative new gambit and things would go to hell in a handbasket. Gambles didn't always pay off, and one or the other would become upset at falling behind. These were the days of whine and roses. Eventually the fawn and the faun worked out a very clever arrangement. Whenever the fawn felt like introducing a new form of play, she would signal the faun of her intentions and wait for a signal back that he was ready for something novel and different. Eventually, the fawn became expert at guessing how much variation and novelty she could introduce without taxing the faun's ability to follow her lead. Dawn Dance 7. A Gallant Goat Goeth Forth -------------------------- One day, the faun had an idea for something fresh, so he signaled his desire to do something different. Now, the faun had not been very creative, compared to the fawn, so she had some reservations about what oddity he had in mind. She was curious and apprehensive at the same time. And so she wrestled with signaling "I'm keen" or "I'm not keen," which rather confused the faun. He wondered, "Will she, won't she, will she, won't she, will she join the dance?" The tension of indecision was palpable. Now you may be wondering whatever happened to the unicorn. As providence would have it, the unicorn was not far away in the ivy, unseen and unaware of the prancing and dancing games of the fawn and the faun. As the fawn pondered her options, the faun thought she was being coy, waiting for him to take some initiative for a change. And so, feeling his oats, he roundly surprised her with a rather fresh gambit that left the fawn stunned and feeling struck blindsided and off guard. She didn't know how to react. A nod of assent would mean admitting and acknowledging that he had thought of something quite novel, exciting, and fresh. Nodding dissent might stifle his creativity, leaving it up to her to relieve the inevitable boredom. And so she signaled neither way, but found herself rolling her head in a small circle instead. The faun, whose keenness has been in some doubt, interpreted the fawn's mixed signal as reluctant assent, or at least not as a definite objection. What the fawn meant was for him to wait, but alas, there was no clear signal for wait. So when the fawn rolled her head, the faun interpreted the new signal to his advantage to mean, "I don't care one way or the other," while the fawn, upon reflection, would have actually preferred the faun to have read the head roll as "hold off a moment while I ponder the issue." Dawn Dance 8. The Dawn of the Noughty Bit --------------------------- Over time, the circular head motion came to be used to signal different messages at different times. Sometimes it only meant "hold your horses while I ponder the issue." Sometimes it meant "I have no preference." Sometimes it meant "I am wistful of something nebulous that I know not how to ask for." Sometimes it meant "I am wishing for something specific that I want you to guess." The Noughty Bit came to be associated with feelings of apprehension, indifference, wistfulness and wishfulness. The up and down nod, also know as Keenness, came to be marked with a new symbol: | The back and forth head shake, also known as Dullness, or Lowness came to be marked with the symbol: -- And the Noughty Bit came to be marked with the symbol: o Whenever the Noughty Bit was misconstrued, the Faun and the Fawn would become cross with each other. This led to a fourth symbol, for being Cross: x Since there were four distinct ways to interpret the noughty bit, there was roughly one way in four of assured happiness, and three chances in four of potentially being randomly shocked or unpleasantly surprised. Dawn Dance 9. Disturbing the Peace -------------------- The advent of the noughty bit subtly changed the culture in the Garden of Orenda. Instead of things being Most Definite, there arose a loss of Definiteness. When this happened, the garden felt more like an arena, so some folks began to call it The Garden of Orena, by dropping the 'd' in Orenda. The lost 'D' also stood for Delight, which mysteriously had begun to decline as well. Regrettably, the Faun and the Fawn were not insightful enough to realize that they needed four separate signals in place of the noughty bit, and so they found themselves playing an unintentional game of Noughts and Crosses. It wasn't a game they had chosen to play. Rather it had been thrust upon them unbidden by the Great Spirit as a consequence of not paying better attention to the finer details of their emerging and evolving bilateral communication protocols. Dawn Dance 10. Gallantry Falters ----------------- One day, while the Faun and the Fawn were gamboling with reckless abandon near the Ivy Patch. The Faun began to signal his intention to introduce a fresh gambit. In the meantime, the Fawn, who had begun to realize the pair were already gamboling dangerously close to the edge, felt a need for a rest, so she rolled her head to signal the Noughty Bit. As chance would have it, the Faun misread the Faun's response as "I'm game for more fun." So just as the Fawn lowered her defenses to relax, the Faun astonished her with a lulu of a fresh gambit, taking her entirely by surprise. She was shocked, stunned, and raging with indignation at the insensitivity of the boorish faun, who in turn was bewildered by the fawn's unexpected and agitated reaction to his fresh gambit . The ensuing commotion made such a racket that it drew the attention of the Unicorn who had been quietly browsing unseen in the nearby patch of ivy. The poor Unicorn, caught in the cross fire, hid in the ivy and witnessed the whole terrifying scene. There was much whining and bleating and gnashing of teeth as the Faun and the Fawn fought and fought and fought. The word, "fought" means to mix up "feeling" and "thought", and this was the frightened Unicorn's first exposure to more evolved creatures in the garden engaged in any kind of inter-creature communication. The Unicorn, whose skin had been snow white, became so distressed, he lost momentarily control of his bladder and inadvertently stained his coat yellow. And that is how the Yellow Unicorn came to learn how creatures in the Garden of Orena communicate their fears, desires, and needs. Dawn Dance 11. Gall Falleth ------------ Eventually the Yellow Unicorn recovered from the trauma of witnessing the pissing contest and eventually joined the Faun and the Fawn. They all three played Noughts and Crosses together, oblivious of the unappreciated bug in the Noughty Bit. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Beginnings 1. The Garden of Arena ------------------- One upon a time, there were two yellow unicorns in a garden... o o .

Copyright 1999, The Orenda Project

Copyright 1999, The Mirth Project

Copyright 1999, The MuseNet Project

This story is on the web at http://www.musenet.info/orenda/noughty.html