Twas the night before Christmas

KeynesSDIM4607_don

when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Wrong. The mice were up to something. And it may only be a matter of a twisted chromosome or two, but the genetic defect that leads to unstinted gluttony (so common in the rodent family) was on display this frosted night. And inside one particular tinselly house you could hear the rattle of pots and pans all the way to Santa’s workshop, some three thousand icy miles away. With that racket you’d think the mouse-folk were competing gastronomes at a culinary arts show, convened at some lodge in Switzerland, accessible only to those who have survived the open tundra. But tiny mouse-chefs these were not! The cacophony was a concertina of fumbling about, gnawing, and sawing. You have to mangle a lot of carrots to keep those ever-growing incisors short. But what really keeps them chewing are the bonuses. And the really filthy lucre comes from chomping on floor boards, beautifully milled spindles, Ikea furniture, which for archaeological purposes can be radiocarbon dated to within seconds of home assembly, and the train set, made from the finest chipboard, destined for Timmy, whose eyes on Christmas morn are brighter than the storm-piercing lamp on a John Deere snowblower.

But the real trouble stems from a small group of intellectuals deep in the bowels of the Rodentia order, and the challenge of providing enough chewing material to keep the working class mouse with reasonably short teeth is what they argue about most vociferously. One of the leaders, a certain mouse known as John Maynard, with dove-grey whiskers and a pair of spectacles resting atop a most distinguished snout, proposed to make available stacks of wood from the warehouse. This was done in order to help tide the mouse-folk over till things picked up again. And though this sounded like an idea of great moment, it led to the perpetual plundering of the warehouse, and heroic steps had to be taken to keep the stores full to the brim with tasty pine, delectable cedar, and creamy elkwood. Some independently-minded mice were afraid that a surfeit of timber (the easy-wood policy) would lead to a so-called bubble. But what could possibly go wrong with a system bloated by the creation of wood products, be they in the form of folding lawn chairs, white picket fences, or dog houses for gawky Great Danes? Flood the market with cheap wood and the rodent economy will thrive. And so, twas indeed the night before Christmas, and the mice-folk were positively busy—little did they know they were staring into a dark abyss.

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14 Comments

  1. Love this fable! Can we call it post-modern? So much humour with a strong sense of visceral action (a rodent’s lot in life?). I love how this night before Christmas contains a dark abyss, a frosted night, bright eyes, a storm-piercing lamp, and shiny tinsel. Oh and all that wood. Seems there’s a star and a tree being referenced. (Maybe!)

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  2. Steven, it’s a cautionary tale about Keynesian economics, and mice, and wood, and John Deer snow removal equipment…

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  3. Intellectuals of the order Rodentia are melioristic meddlers, always trying to fix the world so it conforms to their own ideals, and cannot let things be. I am not at all Keynes..I mean keen on them. Next thing you know, they’ll make themselves the bosses of Christmas itself. A most clever story!

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    • Ah yes, and the cadaverous and bespectacled Keynes is depicted below the tile—an elegy to moribund economic policies.

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      • Wow! With only a cursory glance I passed it off as a weird mountain range…maybe with a weird cross or weird windmill on it….amazing!

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  4. A weird mountain range…perhaps the frozen tundra?

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    • Yes, tundra. I’ll have to check my laptop. This cheap tablet I’m using doesn’t’ always render imagery as the renderer may have intended….now we have the idiocy not only of human perception but also of technology’s reception/perception….

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      • And speaking of the simulacrum of workable technology that inhabits the machines we attempt to rely upon, where is your blog? Has it disappeared into the ether?

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  5. Nope. It goes by the handle littleoldladywho.net. At wordpress of course.

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  6. A clever and unique framing and positioning of both image and thoughts! Thanks for the chuckles!

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  7. i had to google up John Deere, they have not yet taken over Poland, though many people complain here about the colonization of the post-communist eastern europe by the proud west.

    are you aware of the mouse utopia experiment of John Calhoun?

    some academic could write a clever comparative study of your christmas story and that experiment, thus encouraging further cross-disciplinary approaches (especially magical studies with economics, this seems to be a promising field!).

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  8. Yes, magic economic realism. i think you are, as usual, onto something. When asked (think television interviews), i will begrudgingly admit that you first coined the term. Fame and fortune will dog you for the rest of your life. You may even have to migrate to the West where you can attempt, foolishly, to get away from the crush of reporters queuing at your doorstep, and it is sad to say that as 2014 begins, you are doomed to a colorful, disguise-laden existence.

    Now, sinking into the subject of Calhoun, i wonder which is worse: certain financial death or death by overcrowding? Something for you to ponder as you dive, unwittingly, into a hermetic lifestyle (coupled with plumed hats and dark eyeglasses).

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  9. bonjour Prospero ! bonne nouvelle année à toi aussi !

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