Ehlich Odr’s (1792) The Ghrü: Observations On A New & Curious Phenomenon [Volume 1]

10 July 2014

NOTE: this is Volume I of what is left of Ehlich Odr’s (1792) text; the remaining volumes will follow. For a fuller explanation of the deletions by the current edition’s editor, see here; the following explains the matter briefly and why there are square brackets in the text:

I have spared readers of this current volume the worst, and even the middle-worst, of Odr’s peregrinations. Most of it I have sliced off without a word; at times, I offer summaries in square brackets to account for what gratuitous material Odr supplies that he refers to as his text rambles on. The single largest of these omissions is his Self-Introduction, of course, which runs 83 pages in the original edition—one-sixth of volume 1 itself, in fact—and so we pick up in media res on page 84.

The Ghrü: Observations on A New & Curious Phenomenon (vol. 1)


Thus you may see from this self-introduction, which I trust my readers will forgive me for omitting portions of as either too irrelevant or too delicate or too personal, whether for myself or on the part of those others I hold dear in intimate terms or stand obligated professionally as a matter of ethics or decorum (or both!) not to make public what I have neither the compunction nor the permission—nor the inclination it must be said—to make public or to divulge or to disclose for reasons of principle or out of that font of wisdom that is our nation’s great and most civilising of mores, you will no doubt then have had coloured your lively understanding and impression as to why I will have undertaken this study of such a new and curious phenomenon as I set out it before you in brief within this volume, but none of this will make clear either the purpose of my study, much less its contents. Sheer honesty [a wealth of classical examples to justify painstaking forthrightness about making one’s motivations for doing anything as unambiguous as possible to others] demanded that I disclose all that I have, but even the gods cannot be infinitely scrupulous, and with each moment that passes, we are no longer ourselves. Already, even as we fancy we venture into an ever more lucid and lurid of light, our shadow lengthens behind us as a trace of our change, so that we must look back to understand in the first place at all, and thus lose the view where we were going. One wonders what cure might be found for this calamity of divided attention, that our minds might not be two places at once, in two states (that we are aware of!).

[A digression examining attention, self-consciousness, and the Unconscious, with a digression on dogs and their colours.]

Do not despair, sweet Reader and friend, though I see I’ve spent already half a ream in scribbling, I intend not to defer forever an approach to my subject (not even till volume II), but only to make what preliminaries the subject requires. I might simply have said “dogs are loyal” and perhaps that would have been enough for some. But the history of domestication [and of husbandry more generally, including the domestication of plants, which includes the various techniques of grafting, so dissimilar in most ways from gem-grafting and demonic moulding] makes clear two facts as regards what I intend to call the ghrü: (1) they are not dogs; (2) not all dogs are loyal; and (3) loyalty may not be a quality of ghrü.

I draw my observation from my time in the Dark, the history of which place [retold with an astonishing degree of inaccuracy] is not well known to me. It was there I made my first observation of a ghrü: approximately four inches tall, of a rubbery, greyish texture and colour, and shaped like a mound of dog scat, or perhaps a Hut. To my chagrin, I believed it to have dropped from, or to have deposited by, the anal opening of the unfortunate creature just before me—green, misshapen, and not unlike an uncanny a cross between a kobold and an orc.[1] To my even greater chagrin, my hail to this unfortunate inspired a quick retreat, but it was the fact that its faecal deposit uncrossed legs and went scampering after it that gave me the greater start.

Baffled, I consulted all I knew about the alimentation of kobolds and orcs alike. [A digression on (1) eating, digestion, and de-fecation, in particular as expressed (2) in small and medium humanoids, orcs and kobolds specifically, followed by (3) a survey of the available literature, scant, on sentient scat, and so (4) speculation on the same without any constraint on the discussion.] But I had to admit, given all we know in this regard, which is to say very little—next to nothing—I had to confront the realization that the little creature that followed did not originate in the bowels of the beleaguered “cork”, may not, in fact, have originated with him at all. And moreover, in that respect—and not entirely without giving me some relief—was not some animate form of dropping after all.

You might well imagine my wonder at the thought, but there is no need, for I shall tell you. [A description follows of the next several weeks, meticulously detailed—including at one point a passage where the number of salt grains at a meal spilled are enumerated.] But none of this mattered the least when I encountered my second ghrü. This one, in seeming isolation, rather a darker shade of grey, and so more difficult to see against the background of the Dark. It also seemed larger and less faecal, and not simply due to my already greater familiarity with its form. I recognised it immediately by its round, gold eyes without pupils, and inevitably I deceived myself at first that this was, in fact, the first ghrü all over again, though perhaps more grown up, or just fatter. [A very, very long enumeration of things the ghrü might have eaten, or consumed, or ingested, or taken into itself by means analogous to, but not exactly like, alimentation—rambling speculations about what this might consist of follow.] Subsequent observations would disprove all of this, but I leave that to its own proper space in the volumes.

[Over the next 89 years, 16 more ghrü were encountered—each described in decreasingly minute detail,[2] and accompanied, after the ninth specimen, with mathematical fitting curves—based on no discernible mathematical theory anyone knows—to explain “and even one day, I dare to hope, predict” when the next ghrü would appear.]

As one may see from the evidence, however, the concept of a rate of ghrüness is in need of further study. I have sought, with what resources I have at my disposal, to find a correlation between the second, minute, hour, day, week, day of week, month, day of month, phases of the moon (using various planets), seasons (in systems from one to nineteen), years, decades, and scores—scores of years being the highest denominator in my 89 years of observation—and while the temptation lingers to triumphantly declare, “I have found the pattern!” so far the next appearance of a ghrü in each case has made playful mockery of my—and my formulae’s—power of prediction.

My Reader may rest assured that I have no intention to stop investigating this curious phenomenon, and I am certain that more ghrü will appear—more properly, that I shall encounter more as I wander in the Dark, but for now, in as much as this volume runs to nearly 800 pages, I find its sheer weight inhibits my ability to travel. Plus, if my vanity be forgiven, I am keen to find a publisher for this first volume. And so, for now, I stop.


[1] I later learned, not to my amusement, that these unfortunate creatures are often teased as “corks” apparently because they whine a great deal.

[2] It will be thought, in view of my claim for the empirical utility of Odr’s book, that I have erred seriously in skipping over these minutely detailed descriptions; see, however, Odr’s realization at the beginning of volume 2, if you seek an explanation. [editor’s note]


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