Why the Scorpion and the frog?
We tell each other stories. We’re a species defined by stories, by the a to b narrative of our lives and the lives that come before us and the lives which are yet to come. So narrative has always been the way we explore what we are, how we teach, how we learn. Even when writing blogs about my novel Nemesister, I’m more often than not asked about it’s story, as if it too were a living thing ; how it was conceived, it’s development in the early years, how it has grown into a fully fledged book with a life beyond my control, a child gone into the world with the best job I could do for it its only resources.
In the story itself, draw on the imagery of a traditional tale which for me summed up the relationship between the two main characters, and the battle they have to understand both it and themselves.
I’m honestly not sure where it comes from, though Wikapedia has it dating in fully fledged form in the 1950s, elements of the story date back to the Babalonian Tallmud, but it goes like this. A scorpion wants to cross a river and so asks a frog to carry it across on his back.
“Your a Scorpion,” says the Frog.”How do I know you won’t sting me?”
“if I sting you,’ the Scorpion says, “I’ll drown too.”
This reassures the Frog and so he lets the Scorpion climb into his back and sets out across the river. Half way across the Scorpion flicks his tail and stings the Frog. As the Frog feels the poison creep through his veins he cries out,
“You said you wouldn’t sting me!”
” True,’ said the Scorpion. ” But I never said I wasn’t a Scorpion.”
It’s a dark tale, about how we so often would rather believe an idea of the truth which suits us, or at least makes us feel better about ourselves – the frog would rather been seen as helpful than distrustful – and how maybe the nature of the beast is as it is, even if we think we might be the ones to change it. For me, it resonated in my story as it spoke of two people doomed by themselves, as so many of us are, unable to escape themselves however far across the river they travel.
If you want to judge for your self if it’s a good analogy, you’re just going to have to read my book!