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Thread: Riddle

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Riddle

    I just came across a riddle of interest to our crowd. A "true riddle" is a metaphorical description of something. The riddler provides the description. Others must guess what the riddler is describing. For example,

    riddle:

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the king's horses and all the king's men
    Couldn't put Humpty together again.

    answer:
    An egg.


    Here's one that Eli Kongas Maranda collected from the Lau people of Maliata in the Solomon Islands:

    riddle:


    Eight men who speak with four different accents.

    answer:

    A mandolin.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    Hmmm ... If the Sphinx had asked Oedipus this, would he have solved it?
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    Personally, I wouldn't have asked Oedipus a riddle about stringed instruments, as the subject seemed to annoy him (in truth, I'm not sure who's who in this picture of Oedipus at Colonus -- perhaps he's Blind Oedie Rex, the harpist).

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    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    Earth water fire and air
    Met together in a garden fair
    Put in a basket bound with skin
    If you answer this riddle
    If you answer this riddle
    You'll never begin

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  7. #5
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    Born in a house with the doors shut tight... (that's not a riddle, but an in-joke for Incredible String Band fans).

    Dave, I always figured the answer to the above riddle is "a person." I was a bit surprised when a writer described this as an "unanswerable riddle" in his book on the ISB.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    perhaps he's Blind Oedie Rex, the harpist
    Perhaps he's Jim Morrison, and Oeddie didn't like what he said in "The End."

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    I was a bit surprised when a writer described this as an "unanswerable riddle" in his book on the ISB.
    Right? That's what he says in this interview:

    Q: Was that actually a riddle?

    RW: It was just a riddle I made up.

    Q: It was an actual riddle though? There's an answer to the riddle?

    RW: If you answer the riddle you'll never begin; there's no answer to the riddle, but the whole song itself was a dream from start to finish, the dream I had put to music, so it has the same logic that the dream has, which is not much logic. There are bits and pieces about early memories in Edinburgh and so forth, but it's a collage song with bits of this dream, bits of early childhood, and it's basically the fact that I consider that-life is pretty much an unanswerable riddle, with not really much of an answer to it some of the times. I think that's its magic. Anyway that's what that song says.

    Seems to me he's just being poetic, or ironic. I wonder how many people spent how much time puzzling over this. It's a bit riddle-culous.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    "Well, a lot of the String Band lyrics at that time were almost deliberately ambiguous; they were not intended to be direct communications particularly. They were things that you could get your own interpretations out of and that was something that we felt very strongly about. It was almost like word-jazz."

    "Q: One thing that has bothered me with "Hangman". On "Koeeaddi there" you talk about the "Earth water fire and air" business. ("Earth water fire and air/met together in a garden fair/ put in a basket bound with skin if you/answer this riddle/you'll never begin"). Was that actually a riddle?

    RW: It was just a riddle I made up.

    Q: It was an actual riddle though? There's an answer to the riddle?

    RW: If you answer the riddle you'll never begin; there's no answer to the riddle, but the whole song itself was a dream from start to finish, the dream I had put to music, so it has the same logic that the dream has, which is not much logic. There are bits and pieces about early memories in Edinburgh and so forth, but it's a collage song with bits of this dream, bits of early childhood, and it's basically the fact that I consider that-life is pretty much an unanswerable riddle, with not really much of an answer to it some of the times. I think that's its magic. Anyway that's what that song says."

    https://www.angelfire.com/biz3/ISB/williamson79.html

    PS: I would agree with your interpretation, for whatever our opinion is worth.

    D.H.

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    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    Ooops, post-cross!

    D.H.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Riddle

    Yes, I often felt something like that. Not necessarily ambiguous, but intentionally obscure. Sometimes it seemed they just liked the way words sounded, rather than what they meant. And ISB were better when they were that way, less so when they were more decipherable.

    PS: Ha ha ha! Yes, indeed! They say great minds think alike. Though what that has to do with this is anyone's guess. Speaking just for myself, of course.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    Lucinda Williams and Eric Von Schmidt (who would have turned 90 5/28/21), the night devotee met hero (and both my heroes)

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