“one fish two fish red fish blue fish
black fish blue fish old fish new fish
some are red and some are blue. some
are old and some are new.
some are sad and some are glad. and
some are very, very bad.
why are they sad and glad and bad?
— all quotes herein: Dr. Suess
Theodore Suess Geisel, the son of German immigrants, inherited the family brewery one month before Prohibition. In college, he was caught drinking gin in his room with friends. Due to that infraction, he was prohibited from continuing as editor of his college humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern. Undaunted, he began to work under the pen name “Suess.” When he graduated, he became “Dr. Suess.” In 1937, during his return Atlantic Ocean voyage, the rhythm of the ship’s engines inspired him to write his first children’s book. Dr. Suess used other pen names, too. Sometimes he spelled his name backwards. At other times, he called himself “Rosetta Stone.”
“some are thin and some are fat. the fat
one has a yellow hat.
from there to here, from here to there,
funny things are everywhere.
here are some who like to run. they run
for fun in the hot, hot sun.
Oh me! Oh my! Oh me! Oh my!
what a lot of funny things go by.
some have two feet and some have four.
some have six feet and some have more.
where do they come from?
i can’t say. but i bet they have come a
The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a stele, an inscribed stone pillar. This stele was erected in 196 BCE, a decree by a congress of priests that granted themselves a tax exemption. It was erected in the ninth year of the reign of Ptolemy V, who became pharaoh and god at age five. This young boy was thrust into this position after the murder of his parents by his father’s mistress and her brother/ lover. After they tried to take political control, there was a revolt that resulted in the murderers’ murder. The frightened boy-king Ptolemy was forced to give assent to the killing of his mother’s killer. The Rosetta Stone stele gave thanks to the priests who supported the revolt by granting them tax exemptions.
There was a rubric for this kind of proclamation. First, the gods were identified and praised, then the priests. Then the boy Ptolemy himself was given a feast for which were created special rites and rituals of garlands and sacrifices. The boy’s sacred name was Epiphanes Eucharistos. Both of these words come from the Greek: Epiphanes from the word for appearance, manifestation; Eucharistos from the word for grateful.
Although both the words of the boy’s sacred name have meaning in Christian doctrine, it is interesting to note that in 392 CE the stele was broken in accord with the prohibition of non-Christian structures. The broken black granite piece now called the Rosetta Stone was found 300 years later, part of the foundation of a fortress, by French soldiers in Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. It was subsequently seized by the British, spirited away on a gun carriage.
The text of the Rosetta Stone is not remembered for its content, but rather because the text appears in three languages: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs (language of the gods), a more modern Egyptian script (language of documents), and ancient Greek (language of the street). The government center of that time was in Alexandria, Greece, but the older scripts honored the older traditions of Memphis, Egypt. Although none of the texts were complete due to the smallness of the fragment, the ancient Greek was translatable. So when it was understood that the same text appeared in each of the languages, the stone became a key to unlock the meaning of the hieroglyphs. In 1822, in Paris, Francois Champollion decrypted the ancient hieroglyphs.
The term Rosetta Stone has come to mean a small representative sample that can be used in decryption, as a clue to understand a larger whole. And like the boy king’s sacred name, we are grateful for appearances that bring realization.
“we see them come. we see them go.
some are fast. and some are slow.
some are high. and some are low.
not one of them is like another.
don’t ask us why. go ask your mother.”
Perhaps the specific story of the Rosetta Stone text could be seen as less significant than its decrypting structure. And yet, to where does the decryption lead? Are we not taken to other stories, or to stories about stories, or to stories about stories about stories?
Primary in the heart vision of this pirate is manifestation of the face of a young boy who is himself narrated into stories of god, of pharaoh, of orphan, of lover. This face is awakened epiphany for which the only response can be gratitude. This face creates opportunity to love. This face is mirror and light.
Pirates play with sunken treasure of stories bidden and unbidden, spoken and unspoken, from under earth and underwater and within fire and flying in air. Spacious and spirited we play.
— Rx is the FloridaW eekly muse who
hopes to inspire profound mutiny in all
those who care to read. Our Rx ma y be
wearing a pir ate cloak of in visibility, but
emanating fr om within this shado w is
hope that readers will feel free to respond.
Who kno ws: You may e ven inspir e the
muse. Make contact if you dare.