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3. “The Slugs”
|The “slugs” is a term used on
only a few
occasions within The Tales. The first occasion is in a
two-page chapter, entitled “The Impudent Brat Hassein, Beelzebub’s
Dares to Call Men “Slugs.” Beelzebub’s grandson Hassein is
to refer back to those “three brained beings” on that planet Earth
have been the subject of Beelzebub’s tales. Hassein is not sure
their name and refers to them as “slugs.” This is the story line
in this excerpt which gives a background setting to the larger Tales:
“What? About what slugs?” asked Beelzebub, not understanding the boy’s question.
“Don’t you remember, Grandfather, that a little while ago, when you spoke about the three-centered beings breeding on the various planets of that solar system where you existed for such a long time, you happened to say that on one planet–I forget how you called it–that on that planet exist three-centered beings who, on the whole, are like us, but whose skin is a little slimier than ours.”
“Ah!” laughed Beelzebub. “You are surely asking about those beings who breed on the planet Earth and who call themselves ‘men.’
“Yes, Grandfather, yes, just that. Tell me about those ‘men-beings,’ a little more in detail. I should like to know more about them,” concluded Hassein.
Then Beelzebub said: “About them I could tell you a great deal, for I often visited that planet and existed among them for a long time and even made friends with many of those terrestrial three-brained beings.
“Indeed, you will find it very interesting to know more about these beings, for they are very peculiar.
“There are many things among them which you would not see among any other beings of any other planet of our Universe.
“I know them very well, because their arising, their further development, and their existence during many, many centuries, by their time calculations, have occurred before my eyes.
“And not only their own arising occurred before my eyes, but even the accomplished formation of the planet itself on which they arise and exist.
“When we first arrived on that solar system and settled on the planet Mars, nothing yet existed on that planet Earth, which had not yet even had time to cool off completely after its concentration.
“From the very beginning, this same planet has been the cause of many serious troubles to our ENDLESSNESS.
“If you wish I will tell you first of all about the events of general cosmic character connected with this planet ...” (pp. 79-80)
The term “slugs” was a term used in an offhanded way by Hassein in conversation with his Grandfather, to refer to those “men-beings” on that planet Earth, who cause such problems for the greater cosmic harmony. Its inhabitants are, according to Beelzebub, most peculiar and strange, and manifest in ways so unnatural, as to be unknown in the larger Universe. During his visits to Earth, Beelzebub studies humankind while in disguise and living among them. Although Beelzebub was able to pass himself off as a human, this was only because he had “lost his horns” when he had been exiled from his home planet within a distant solar system. Further, he had to hide his tail while living among the “men-beings.” One reason why Beelzebub visited the Earth was to report to a High Commission on the problems of those three-brained beings breeding on that ill-fated planet. This is a basic background to the wonderful, humorous and enchanting Tales.
|A second reference to “slugs” occurs
is elaborating upon the evolution of life on Earth. The first
beings to arise were “Similitudes-of-the-Whole,” or “microcosmoses”–or
cells. These then aggregated together to produce two forms of
called “Oduristelnian” and “Polormedekhric.” The microcosmoses
grouped together to form the more complex “Tetartocosmoses” –the
“And among these latter there then first arose just those biped “Tetartocosmoses” whom you a while ago called “slugs.” (p. 86)
Unfortunately, “a misfortune” occurred. Beelzebub relates:
|On a third occasion, Beelzebub uses the
in order to elaborate upon the strangeness of the human psyche.
this instance, he explains to Hassein what would be done to him if
three-brained beings living on Earth happened to hear that Hassein had
used such a derogatory word to describe them:
“I shall begin by saying how glad I am that you happened to be a long way from those three-centered beings whom you called by a word so ‘insulting to their dignity’ and that they are not likely ever to hear of it.
“Do you know, you poor thing, you small boy not yet aware of himself, what they would do to you, particularly the contemporary beings there, if they should hear what you called them?
“What they would have done to you if you had been there and if they got hold of you–I am seized with horror at the very mention of it.
“At best they would have thrashed you so ....”
... “You must know that during the time of my observations of them from the planet Mars and during the periods of my existence among them, I studied the psyche of these strange three-brained beings very thoroughly, and so I already know very well what they would do to anybody who dared to give them such a nickname. (p. 94)
Beelzebub carries on the tale, with the three-brained beings “pouring from the empty into the void,” all in efforts to “anathematize” poor Hassein for calling them slugs. In this case:
“That you should lose your horns, or that your hair should turn prematurely gray, or that the food in your stomach should be turned into coffin nails, or that your future wife’s tongue should be three times its size, or that whenever you take a bite of your pet pie it should be turned into ‘soup,’ and so on and so forth in the same strain.
“Do you understand to what dangers you exposed yourself when you called these remote three-brained freaks ‘slugs’?”
Having finished thus, Beelzebub looked with a smile on his favorite. (p. 97)
Another term used repeatedly by Beelzebub in his stories to Hassein–to refer to those three-brained beings on planet Earth–is that of “your favorites.” As Hassein, his grandson, loves to hear his grandfather’s stories, particularly about his visits to Earth, Beelzebub repeatedly refers back to “your favorites”–those men-beings who Hassein dared to call “slugs.”
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