In simplest terms, the purpose of this website is to present significant fables in text and audio form, and to encourage an online discussion of their meaning and possible interpretations.
As mentioned on the Home page, I originally conceived this site as a way to expose people to Aesop’s fables, and related classic parables, tales, and fairytales. I had been noticing there are many who somehow missed out on these while growing up, and were thus less able to understand the foundation of the world in which they found themselves.
As I began to set up the site and do more research, I discovered that there was already quite a bit of material available. Prior to starting work on this effort, I had relied on books in paper form, as several were readily available to me. At the same time, as I was considering how to present the fables, particularly Aesop’s, it was clear that they were rather lacking in modern context. After posting Anderson’s “What the Old Man Does is Always Right” and recording it in audio form (which required some translation to contemporary English), this problem became clearer to me.
After all, life in Aesop’s time was a lot simpler and less ambiguous than it is today. We are surrounded by moral ambiguity today, and in the interest of tolerance for the diversity of others, we must accept this moral ambiguity in order to participate in society. Moral diversity is an accepted fact of this present era.
In presenting the second post, “Aesop and the Runaway Slave”, I decided to take a different approach. I re-wrote the fable to place it into a modern context. This necessarily made it more complex and ambiguous. I tried to keep it true to the basic characteristics of a fable despite the increased length. I tried to place the fable in a modern setting through the use of language. At the same time, I updated the complexity and ambiguity of the moral in modern context through the introduction of additional characters (the raging female boss, and the burdened consumer-mom, as well as the more peripheral motorcycle cop and firemen; even the strip mall setting is something of a character). Aesop is modernized as a DMV clerk (after all, Aesop was a slave), and the subject, also a slave, is a slave despite being overly educated, and consequently unable to fit in. I also injected some contemporary situational humor, which helps the medicine go down in today’s overly-entertained society. I will only know how well I’ve succeeded by the comments left by readers, so I encourage you to make this a discussion by commenting to this page, and to the fable posts themselves.
As I write this, I am working on the next post, “The Two Cocks and the Eagle” (the vocabulary of the title is mine). I am setting it in the early 1960’s, just prior to the heating up of the Civil Rights era. I’m not sure I can explain why, but as a writer, that’s how a modern context for the fable manifested in my mind.
– Rex Latchford