Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Your First Dead Goldfish - Part 2

See the previous post (click here) for background on this how-to manual for dealing with your first dead goldfish and the color illustrations used for chapter headings. You may also go to:
to download a nifty card/booklet with some of the better tips and illustrations from the book, complete with printing and folding instructions.

Here are some of the black and white collage illustrations from the text, along with a few excerpts from the book copy.

“Most people, at one time or another, have kept goldfish in a small glass bowl (which, incidentally, is the least suitable container). If the venture ended disastrously in a matter of weeks or even days, it was probably due to a complete ignorance of the goldfish’s requirements.”   - Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod and William Vorderwinkler, Goldfish and Koi in Your Home

As a pet, the goldfish often proves to be a disappointment. Children quickly learn that there are only three things that a goldfish can do: It eats, thus the natural temptation to feed it constantly; it defecates, which children of a certain age and temperament find wildly hilarious; and finally, it dies. Once the fish is dead, the funeral arrangements may begin.
Parents who are attempting to foist a goldfish on their children as a second-rate substitute for a more ambitious pet will find that it is far easier to console children for the absence of a hamster or dog with a dead fish than with a live one. There is, after all, far more that one can do with a dead fish.

Whenever mourners gather solemnly around a goldfish grave there is always at least one nitpicker in the crowd who is bound to pose a few troublesome theological questions:
“Does a goldfish have a soul?”
“Where does the goldfish go after it dies?”
“ Will we meet the goldfish again when we go to heaven?”
“Will the goldfish get to meet grandpa, who died last year?”
Oddly, very few make an obvious philosophical leap and ask, “If we’re holding a funeral for the goldfish, why didn’t we hold a funeral for the fish sticks we had for lunch?”
We can’t hope to answer all of the many troublesome questions that the death of a goldfish may pique in the mind of a worrisomely morbid child. We can, however, assert with some confidence that, according to an impressive number of religious philosophies, the goldfish does indeed have a soul. Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Native Americans, and even some Catholics believe that animals possess souls.
According to the Mayans, animals and humans actually share souls. The Mayans believed that every human has one or more counterparts disguised as an animal, and the animal’s fate is linked to the human’s. This means that you and your goldfish could be soul mates.

It’s unlikely that a goldfish ghost would be able to summon up the energy for the type of creepy visual manifestation that a human ghost might muster. Since goldfish don’t vocalize when they are alive, it is also unlikely that you’ll be bothered by ghastly moans in the night. On the other hand, that dripping faucet that keeps you awake at four in the morning could well be the work of a goldfish ghost. 

Are you being haunted by goldfish ghosts? If you have ever owned a goldfish that died, the answer is almost certainly yes.  The fact that you’ve never owned a goldfish or have never had a goldfish in your possession die doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re safe. Matters spiritual in nature tend to carry over from generation to generation, with the sins of the fathers visited on the sons. You may have inherited an unruly goldfish ghost from one of your forbearers.
Alternatively, you may be the victim of a contact haunting. If the previous owners of your house or apartment had a goldfish that died, its ghost is unlikely to have followed along when they relocated. Ghosts are easily confused when it comes to directions and tend to stick to their home territory. The previous owner’s goldfish may be forced to settle for the next best human victim in its immediate vicinity—you.
Keep track of all of the petty annoyances that happen to you during the day that would require the relatively small amount of energy a goldfish ghost would have at its disposal. Have you misplaced something? Has a light bulb burned out? Do you keep losing your keys? Record anything that you suspect might be the workings of a goldfish ghost. If you’re experiencing a lot of irritating little incidents, you may have more than one ghost.

Illustrations below deal with various methods of burying, appeasing and warding off the dead as well as equipping them for the afterlife.

The goldfish has an almost saintly disposition. The only deadly sin that the goldfish might justifiably be accused of is gluttony. In an intraspecies contest between humans and goldfish for entrance into heaven or an afterlife, the smart money would be on the goldfish.


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