the nocturnal frolics of the knife and the spoon


Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
In the pre-Apollo generation, children were told that the Moon was made of green (that is, smelly) cheese, and for some reason this was thought not marvellous but hilarious. In children's books and editorial cartoons, the Man in the Moon is often drawn simply as a face set in a circle, not too different from the bland 'happy face' of a pair of dots and an upturned arc. Benignly, he looks down on the nocturnal frolics of animals and children, of the knife and the spoon.
(C. Sagan; The Demon-Haunted World)

What does he allude to?

  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It may be a slightly misquoted reference to this well-known nursery rhyme:

    Hey diddle diddle,
    The Cat and the fiddle,
    The Cow jumped over the moon,
    And the Dish ran away with the Spoon

    (From the Wiki article: Hey Diddle Diddle.)


    Senior Member
    What does he allude to?
    My guess is that it alludes to the notion that the Moon is made of cheese: frolicking children move those utensils around in the air as though they were eating the Moon.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - British
    My grandmother, when putting the crockery and cutlery away, would tell us children that they all came out of their cupboards and drawers at night and had great dances and fun.
    She would reinforce this by saying to each item as she put it away: 'And not another word out of you!' and so on.

    My impression was that Sagan had this sort of thing in mind.
    Of course, how you distinguish this viewpoint from the picture painted in the nursery rhyme is a fair question.


    Senior Member
    (People usually don't eat cheese with a spoon.)
    (That's true. However, I doubt children, when it comes to pretending to eat, are picky about that fact. I think they'll simply use the utensil at hand, which incidentally often happens to be a spoon.)
    Last edited:
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