Manfred Kyber - Little Karl Octopus

In the Mediterranean Sea, in a rock hole near the coast, lived the octopus named Little Karl Octopus.  Little Karl Octopus had eyes like opera glasses, a very considerable mouth and eight tentacles with suckers that curled like serpents and looked for prey.  Little Karl Octopus was white-gray, however, if he got angry, he became alternatingly brown, red, and yellow and also got a number of warts on the skin.  If one considers that all, one has to say: Little Karl Octopus was unappetizing.  Little Karl Octopus collected little stones with his suckers and built himself a crater, an octopus crater.  In this octopus crater, Little Karl Octopus sat down and lurked in a very unpleasant way.  In the opposite rock hole lived the sponge Isidor Sip Hedgehog.  Little Karl, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, Little Karl Octopus, you will come to a bad end one day.  You are lurking for prey with your opera glasses eyes the whole day and you can never get enough.  I find it especially terrible that you are darkening all that you are consuming with the ink from your unpleasant ink bag in the course of it.  Afterwards, you sit there and behave as if you had eaten nothing, and nobody knows what you have swallowed in the meantime.  That is not decent, Little Karl Octopus.

Little Karl Octopus got angry, became brown, red, and yellow and got nothing but warts on the skin.

Don't get excited, Little Karl Octopus, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, it is bad for your complexion and you will get nothing but warts on the skin which will not make you appear more likeable.  You are also eating much too big helpings.  You have eight tentacles with eight suckers.  I would not say something if it were one.  This way, you are having lunch eight times when someone else is having lunch one time.  That cannot agree with you, Little Karl Octopus.  That is an exaggerated food intake.  I knew an eel who was also so gluttonous, and eventually, he ate himself away by mistake.  This eel looked similar to one of your tentacles, and, so to speak, you are eightfold that what this eel was.  Think about it, Little Karl Octopus!

This eel has got nothing to do with me, Little Karl Octopus said.

This eel's name was Longinus Slippery, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, and he had to use a health cure until that grew again what he had eaten up from himself.

I don't care what this eel's name was, Little Karl Octopus said.

You just don't have a sense of history, Little Karl Octopus, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, but actually, it is really not important what this eel's name was, but his name was Longinus Slippery; my chronicle-like exactness requires to emphasize that.

You had better keep you mouth shut, Little Karl Octopus said, a creature that is rooted to the spot and moreover, does not even know if it shall be an animal or a plant.

That is true, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said calmly, I am just considering how I will develop the best way.  I have time, and, temporarily, I do not want to break off the relations to either side.  If one is rooted to the spot, one is also not as gluttonous as you, one is waiting stolidly for it all and lets the events pass by in a chronicle-like order.  That is very educating, and you should take it as an example, Little Karl Octopus.

Through the blue water, the anchovy Flora Happy Fin came swimming with elegant strokes, in a brownish-blue dress and with a white inlay front, and with golden shining scales at the head, undeniably a pretty person.  Little Karl Octopus opera glass eyes became even bigger as they already were, and his tentacles moved with appetite.

Oh, please, can't you tell me how I will come to the Atlantic Ocean the best way?

Come into my arms, lady!, Little Karl Octopus said, and obligingly spread his curly tentacles.  At the same time, he was waving with his suckers and was dropping ink from his ink bag.  It looked hideously.

Yuck, who is that?, Flora Happy Fin asked and turned up the gills.

That is Little Karl Octopus, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, if you go to Little Karl Octopus, you will get into the ink and not to the Atlantic Ocean.

Then, he looked at the young anchovy penetratingly from all of his pores.

Flora, he said, Flora Happy Fin, why do you want to go to the Atlantic Ocean?  You are much too small for that.  Stay with your native fish shoals!

Today, a young girl has to emancipate herself, the young anchovy said saucily, it has to become free and independent, and after all, I am suffering from the great longing for the World Sea, for the infinite…

You are longing for which food?, Little Karl Octopus asked.

If you definitely want to go to the infinite, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, then keep at least a certain chronicle-like sense for your experiences, like me!  To the Atlantic Ocean, always swim straight ahead, then turn right at the first junction, the Straits of Gibraltar, then again straight through the pillars of Hercules.  Swim happily, Flora Happy Fin!

The anchovy thanked and swam away.

Little Karl Octopus gazed after her with opera glass eyes: but something new had already attracted his attention.  An edible crab was slowly creeping closer, he was walking sideways, and on his back, algae and all sorts of plants had established themselves.  It was a kind of vegetable garden, and in between, the edible crab reached backwards with his claw into this garden and fortified himself on the journey.  As the gentleman with the vegetable garden saw Little Karl Octopus, his stalked eyes nearly popped out of his head with apprehension.

Yuck, who is that?, he asked, and the stalk eyes were positively growing out of his head's crust.

That is Little Karl Octopus, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, with chronicle-like exactness.

But this time, Little Karl Octopus did not wait.  With dreadful speed, his tentacles shot from the octopus crater towards the gentleman who made his way sidewards and carried his vegetable garden with him.  But Little Karl Octopus had been all to greedy, he made a mistake and only got hold of an alga that tasted abominably.  The edible crab creeped away under a stone.

How fortunate, the edible crab said, if one carries a vegetable garden on the back!  Then the people only get vegetables when they want to fleece one.

It seems to me this is something like a maxim, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said.

Little Karl Octopus became brown, red, and yellow and got warts on the skin with nothing but anger.

Oh, please, the anchovy said, who had arrived again, oh, please, can't you tell me, what was the name of the street, where I will come to the Atlantic Ocean the best way…?

Flora, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, Flora Happy Fin, the street's name is the Strait of Gibraltar, Gi-bral-tar, but I don't understand how you want to emancipate yourself, if you cannot even remember a street.

The anchovy thanked and swam away, but after only a few strokes, she nearly bumped into a flounder.  The flounder was quite flat, and its eyes were both on the right side, the left one had simply moved to the right, because it felt more comfortable this way.  Maybe, it was also just a question of practice.  Little Karl Octopus was delighted.  This lunch seemed to be sure to him; he was hopping up and down in his octopus crater and was shooting with his tentacles into all directions.

Yuck, said the flounder, who is that? And at the same time, she twisted the mouth, that was already crooked by itself.  That is Little Karl Octopus, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said with chronicle-like exactness.

One does not get me so easily, the flounder said, my motto is: eyes to the right and as flat as possible!  This way, one does get through everywhere. And this way, she vanished.

It seems to me this is something like a maxim, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said.

I cannot eat maxims, Little Karl Octopus said, changed color several times and again got warts on the skin.

Don't get excited, Little Karl Octopus, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, I have told you once before that it is bad for your complexion.

Oh, please, the anchovy said, who had arrived again, oh, please, can't you tell me, what was the gentleman's name though whose pillars, as you said, I will come to the Atlantic Ocean…?

Flora, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, Flora Happy Fin, how do you want to reach the infinite if you cannot even remember the pillars of Hercules?  Her-cu-les.  He is also not a gentleman because he is already long dead — and with this poor knowledge, you want to emancipate yourself!

The anchovy thanked and swam away.

But through the water, an ocean needle(?) came tearing with an almost crazy speed, and Little Karl Octopus forgot all lurking and pounced from the octopus crater, with suckers, opera glass eyes and ink bag, to eat the ocean needle(?).  But no matter how much he was lurching from side to side with the unappetizing tentacles and was squirting ink from his ink bag — the ocean needle was unreachable.

This person, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said, this person suffers from disorders; I have repeatedly emphasized that with chronicle-like exactness.  It is suddenly overcome by the delusion that the sea was torn to pieces and it should mend it, else it would come apart at the seams.  This is a specifically academic delusion, to infer the world's qualities from the own peculiar qualities.  It is an otherwise harmless person.

What does it help me if it is an academic delusion, Little Karl Octopus shouted full of warts, for me, such people are unbearable.

For others also, Isidor Sip Hedgehog said.

Oh, please, the anchovy said, who had arrived again, oh, please, can't you tell me, will I really come to the Atlantic Ocean, the way you told me?

The sponge was gaping from all pores.

Flora, he said, Flora Happy Fin, if you always return, you will never reach the Atlantic Ocean, and when I tell you something, then it is correct because I hold the chronicle-like exactness.  Swim away, Flora Happy Fin!

The anchovy thanked and swam away.

But Isidor Sip Hedgehog had enough of all the chronicle-like events.  He closed his pores and fell asleep.  In the meantime, something dreadful happened to Little Karl Octopus.  Little Karl Octopus became brown, red, and yellow, Little Karl Octopus got warts on the skin with nothing than rage because every lunch had slipped him, and Little Karl Octopus emptied his ink bag until the last bit.  And in the own ink, Little Karl Octopus ate himself up.  He tasted excellently; only an unclear feeling overcame him as if something was wrong.  But then it was already too late.

When Isidor Sip Hedgehog opened the pores again, he saw what had happened and noted it chronicle-like.

Little Karl, he said, Little Karl Octopus, I have always told you that it will once come to a bad end with you. That was Isidor Sip Hedgehog's funeral oration on Little Karl Octopus.

In the meantime, Flora Happy Fin had landed in the Atlantic Ocean.  Now, the woman's emancipation was carried out, now, she was free, big and independent — an anchovy in the Atlantic Ocean!  That is not much — but after all, maybe she was a little bit more, as she, a little swimming fish, swam into the World Sea's evening gold.  She had searched for infinity and found it, and so, after all, she was, as small as she was, bigger than the flounder, than the gentleman with the own vegetable garden and the academic ocean needle, and certainly bigger than the stolid sponge and than Little Karl Octopus.

From: Das Manfred Kyber Buch, Rowohlt, December 1985
Translation: Ulrich Messerle, February 2003
Published on: manfred-kyber.textstrom.de/en

Text version: 2008-08-30 (a)