Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

When the bees have gone

In one of the most poignant novels of the second half of the 20th century, Stanley and Janice Berenstein explore greed, hope, despair, the loss of faith, and the interdependence of capitalist society. This short novel, "The Big Honey Hunt", has seduced thousands of readers with its simple prose replete with brutal and incisive insights into the human condition.

The plot is disarmingly simple. An empty honey pot sends Papa Bear and Small Bear on a quest for some honey. Mama tells them to get it at the honey store, conveniently located just outside the front door. Papa Bear, however, has grander plans. "Not at the store. Oh, no, Small Bear. If a bear is smart, If a bear knows how, He goes on a honey hunt. Watch me now!" Papa's grand plans backfire. He and Small Bear end up hiding in a pond to escape a swarm of angry bees. On the last page, Mama watches with a knowing smile as Papa buys honey from the store.

The prose is devastating. The book begins with a lament worthy of the biblical prophets:

"We ate our honey.
We ate a lot.
Now we have no honey
In out honey pot."

With an obsessiveness reminiscent of Captain Ahab, Papa Bear risks his life and the life of his son in pursuit of the "honey":

"On with the hunt!
I will not rest.
I will follow that bee
To his honey nest!

When a bear is smart,
When a bear is clever,
He never gives up.
And I won't ever."

A shattering climax ensues.

Paul Tillich opines in Volume III of his Systematic Theology: "If we ask the question of the moral imperative's motivating power, the answer in light of the Spiritual Community is not the law but the Spiritual Presence, which, in relation to the moral imperative, is grace. The moral act, the act of personal self-constitution in the encounter with other persons, is based on participation in the transcendent union. This participation makes the moral act possible. By its Spiritual impact, the preceding transcendent union creates the actual union of the centered person with itself, the encountered world, and the ground of self and world. It is the quality of 'preceding' that characterizes the Spiritual impact as grace: and nothing establishes the moral personality and community but the transcendent union which manifests itself in the Spiritual Community as grace."

Papa Bear conveys this same truth much more elegantly:

"No, we won't find honey
In here, Small Bear.
But soon, very soon
I will show you where.
When the bees have gone,
We will get along too."

For all our sakes, may the bees depart soon.


Blogger Wonderdog said...

"May the bees depart soon". Amen, brother. It just feels good to say it dammit!

January 28, 2005 1:44 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

There you go, Sadeeq. I knew you could count on Wonderdog to take your post in the spirit in which it was intended. And I'll second the sentiment. May the bees depart soon, indeed.

Now can we look forward to another blog -- perhaps on the deep connection between the Teletubbies and Karl Barth?

January 28, 2005 1:33 PM  
Blogger Wonderdog said...

And is there any doubt about Barney the Dinosaur's Kafka influence? Deep beneath that purple smile and silly dance is purple anxiety and alienation.

January 28, 2005 5:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home