Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Wild Goose - A Symbol

The Wild Goose
A Symbol
Everyone who knows even a little bit about life in the bird world is aware that between the wild goose and the tame geese, different as they are, there is a sort of understanding. When the flight of the wild geese is heard in the air and there are tame geese on the ground below, the latter are aware of it at once; up to a certain point they have an understanding of what it means; so they too get under way, flapping their wings and cackling as they follow along the ground for a short distance - then it is over.

Once upon a time there was a wild goose. In the autumnal season when the time for migration was near he took notice of some tame geese. He conceived an affection for them; it seemed to him a shame to fly away from them, he hoped to win them to his side so that they might resolve to follow when the flock took flight.

To this end he sought in every way to get in touch with them, trying to allure them to rise a little higher, and then a little higher, with the hope that possibly they might be able to follow the flock, liberated from this pitiable life of mediocrity, waddling on the ground as respectable tame geese.

In the beginning the tame geese thought this very entertaining; they liked the wild goose. But soon they grew tired of him, so they gave him sharp words and derided him as a fantastical fool, without experience and without wisdom. Alas, the wild goose had so deeply committed himself to the tame geese that they had power over him; their words counted with him - the end of the story was that the wild goose became a tame goose.

It can be said in a certain sense that what the wild goose wanted to do was very pretty, yet for all that it was in error; for -- this is the rule -- a tame goose never becomes a wild goose, but a wild goose can very well become a tame goose.
If what the wild goose did could in any way be accounted praiseworthy, he should have attended above all to one thing: self-preservation. As soon as he observed that the tame geese were in any way acquiring power over him -- then away, away with the flock!

This applies to genius -- the rule is that a tame goose never becomes a wild goose, but on the other hand a wild goose can very well become a tame goose -- therefore, be on the alert.

This rule does not apply to Christianity... (continued)

-- Soren Kierkegaard

Believe it or not, I hadn't read this when I wrote on domestication - that was inspired by a domesticated elephant on TV.

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