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SLUG ETHICS

From Chris Wayan's journal 1974/10/7


I'm in James Houston's writing class. the first writing exercise is: "ethics abstract, versus ethics concrete."

Now, ethics are not morals--rules agreed on by a society, only applicable within that culture. Instead, ethics try to be UNIVERSALLY applicable by starting with explicit principles--"Do as you would be done by" or "The greatest good for the greatest number"--and applying these principles logically to specific situations.

Mostly awkward situations.

SLUG ETHICS

Silver slimy bands across the floor again. He followed the trail under the sink, opened the double doors, cautiously lifted the blue plastic garbage can. They were there, three of them. He nearly dropped the can when a fourth, its dappled brown back having camouflaged it for a long moment, squirmed into his world amid the soggy remains of a bean casserole. An inch from his hand. He shivered with loathing.

He wadded up a green paper napkin, thick, thick so the slime would never get through, and he surrounded the slug, eased it loose, and carried it out the door, down the four wooden steps(almost tripping on the broken one) across the dark driveway, to the invisible bushes of the lot beyond. He dropped the slug into the jungle. He returned to the kitchen and laboriously repeated his actions, slug, napkin, bushes, slug, napkin, bushes, until harmony was restored. Everyone was in the right place; it was his house again, not that of the cold SQUISH under your foot in the darkness. Safe.

"I HATE slugs" he muttered, and this was true. His housemates had heard it before. They would hear it tomorrow night, too, when the slugs returned.

Out and in, with tender loathing, the slugs and the man dance; the slug ballet.

NOTE

This was no dream. When I was in that writing class, I lived in a damp old house on the floodplain in Santa Cruz, and this went on all year. Brrrr, slugs...



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