Monday, October 19, 2009

The Fisher King

In the legend of the Fisher King, the King is dying and no one can save him. His apothecaries scratch their heads and try all the tricks they know, his knights roam the land in search of a miracle, the land which is dying too; blight, pestilence, famine and disease greet them wherever they go. The King is the Land. The Land is the King. Both are ailing, and none know anything except that which they have always done.

Insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing while hoping for a different result. On this measure, is our culture insane? The methodologies and philosophies that have led us into the weird dead-zone the financial world now is, are still seized with both hands and deployed with increasing concentration. We insist that money makes the world go round while watching it grind to a halt, as top-soil erodes, water becomes poisoned, happiness shrivels, and society atomizes. All around us is evidence that nature ticks along quite happily without a medium of exchange to motivate it, and yet we think ourselves somehow different, somehow supernatural, somehow living in a different air, as if culture were not as much a part of nature as the sun.

It took a fool to save the Fisher King. Unaware of the accepted methods for healing sickness, he notices a cup of water on the King’s bedside table, and gives the thirsty man a well needed drink. Asked afterwards by the baffled experts how he knew what to do, he says:

“I saw only that the King was thirsty, and gave him a drink.”

We need this “foolish” view of things now to find our way out of the crazy maze through which we aimlessly wander. Just because the machine we have built has become complex beyond all hope of comprehension, does not mean the core problem is not to be found in the initial and simple base design.

Big things have little beginnings.

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