Philosophy books tend to be large tomes of incomprehensible concepts, no doubt designed this way to limit readership to those already involved in this ethereal endeavor at the academic level. Very occasionally a book comes along that breaks out from the norm, in 1971 R. D. Lang published his ground breaking work Knots, a Book that could be taken on many different levels, and more importantly, enjoyed by a wide audience.

Although using a different style Erik Quisling has produced a similar work with Fables From The Mud. Using relatively simple concepts we are introduced to some very human conditions. Whereas Lang used the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill characters, Quisling uses a Clam, an Ant, and a garden Worm to explore his theories. And as we get to see, these lowly creatures have the same wants and needs as humans. Often our wants and needs are hard to explain, and by modeling those concepts into the life of creatures with a seemingly simple lifestyle, those concepts can be boiled down to ideas and needs that can be readily understood.

Each page is adorned by a simple line drawing, it took me a while to catch on. The starkness of the drawing actually enhances the message.

Our first encounter is with an Angry Clam, he is angry because of his inability to change the world, what can a mollusk do? We watch as he moves through a variety of emotions, becoming increasingly disillusioned with his life. Maybe manic is a word that we can effectively use. As with all three of these entertaining stories, Erik Quisling has a twist in the tale.

Next up is the Ant, a hard worker, and an important member of society at the worker level, blue collar through and through. By taking a wrong fork in the road, he discovers the ‘stone garden’, a place talked about in ‘Ant Hill’ mythology, a land of wonder. But is it really?

Lastly is the Worm, this aging warrior has seen it all! He has achieved great things in his life, and we meet him reflecting on his past battles. The adrenalin highs, the taste of victory, and the knowledge of campaigns well conducted, still do not make up for the aching emptiness he now feels. Residing in the now completely decomposed skull of  General Grant, the worm realizes that all the battles mean nothing. The achievements of the past are no more than a passing memory. He has one last purpose in his warrior life, but can he fulfill it?

Erik Quisling uses some very, very dark humor in Fables From The Mud. It may be a quick read, but it is a very contemplative work, and one that once you finish it, you will want to reflect on the stories. Minimalist it certainly is, but it is well worth the price of admission. There is something for everyone in this book. 

Fables From The Mud is slated for an October release, and you can preorder from Amazon.
Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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