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jack london circus dog

tales of the freebie table

illustration by Henri Dimpre

At Boskone, there was a box on the floor. It was right at the foot of the freebie table. When I first saw it, there were only two books at the bottom. They looked rather old and dusty.

The first one I picked up was a green hardbound book from the 1920s. When I flipped through the pages, I found words in the narrative such as “doom-stone” and “Thor’s hammer” much to my liking. Then I passed the book along to someone who might also appreciate it.

There was one book left in the box, with little gold stars embossed on the cover and stained corners. Fondly examining the binding and title page, I thought, ‘Yes, I will definitely keep this one.’

It was the 1953 Hachette edition called, Michaël, Chien de cirque. What’s that, I wondered, a circus dog? Doesn’t that just capture my mood!

Flipping through the pages, the first illustration in the book is of a tramp steamer. Two palm trees lean over the water in front of the ship’s hull.

illustration by Henri Dimpre

Those whispery gray brushstrokes were the work of illustrator, Henri Dimpre (1907-1971), who began commercial illustration in La Normandie as early as 1926 and produced a large volume of pencil, ink, and watercolor for the remainder of his life.

Ah May and the parrot on deck

It seems as if the excellent artwork in Michaēl, Circus Dog has been forgotten. The colonialist vibe was too heavy. The depiction of Africans was overly stereotyped and condescending in ways that we can no longer accept. That is one by-product of consciousness. We find that our past prejudices and delusions must be re-examined and defined. This must be done in order to fully renounce them. Critique must always be allowed it’s own viewpoint, regardless of the medium. On the other hand, critique must never extend to concealment and eradication. The banning and burning of books is and will forever be an act of vehement, anti-intellectual demogogery.

Freedom to all literary and visual arts!

For those who think that progress and art can be stopped, silenced, and removed from view, I have some funny news for you about consciousness. It is vast. It is an infinite storehouse that can never be filled. The accumulation of all thoughts conceived by any living being with a mind has been piling up for a very long time. All time, actually. And it is still pouring in from all the existing minds of our Universe at an accelerating pace.

With all of this mindfulness, is there anyone absurd enough to believe that a human being can be preventing from thinking their own thoughts by force?

You are trying to hold back the inexorable tide of eternity itself. You are not a little Dutch boy with your finger in the dike, you are a nano-scale sculpture of a dog trying to bite the collision of ten trillion black holes.

Go ahead, chums, take a try at banning the history of non-white cultures in America. I am literally lmao. Can anyone be so stupid as to think that they can stop reality or the interpretation of it? They will be throwing themselves at the foot of an avalanche!

Dag Daughtry and the stowaway dog, Michael