Skip to main content

On fables and grandmothers...

There is a hare and a tortoise who wish to have a race. The hare runs swiftly, goes ahead to win the race. Seems a plausible one line alternative to the classic version that we grew up hearing, doesn't it? But it would be difficult to find this version in Aesop's Fables.

Yet, it seems strange that we as kids accepted the story of the hare and the tortoise without doubt when our parents or grandmothers read it to us. Now, it seems hard to believe.

The trouble with the fables is that they are meant to amuse and instruct, and are written for kids. The writer assumes an ideal world, where everything goes according to some master plan that he may have in mind. Reality may be very different. What will happen when the thin ice breaks and a child sees reality for the first time, so far removed from the fables that he has heard?

Yet, the ideal world continues to haunt us throughout life. In school, we are always taught stuff in the ideal world. Non-ideal is too hard to deal with, so we conveniently ignore it. We go ahead to become engineers. Again, we are taught the ideal, and told that the world is non-ideal, so we need to deal with it. Some can, most of the others, so immersed in the ideal, cannot.

A friend criticised me for not sticking to one topic and drifting so much in the course of a single post. In an ideal world, with all things uncorrelated (a white noise process), it might have been possible. Yet, in the non-ideal head that I have, many thoughts are correlated, and it becomes difficult to control the drift.

Which makes me realize that the drift is indeed becoming dangerous. So, I go back to the main reason I wrote this post.

Indeed, most of the books that I read too may have the same ideal world described. Harry Potter for one. But I refrain from criticising that any more. The last time I criticised the series, I lost some friends on facebook. No, I shall refrain from criticising any particular book, but just mention some of the books wherein the world is too ideal to be real. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, is a great book, with a lot of freshness and innocence, but the portrayal of life is too ideal to be true. Nevertheless, it remains one of my favourites.

Jim Stovall's novel, The Ultimate Gift too seems to be too ideal to be true. I mean, considering the spoilt brat that Jason was, would he actually go soil his arms working on a farm, just based on some crazy whim of his grandfather?

But now that I think of it, almost all books have a central theme, a protagonist overcomes intense conflict and against all odds, goes on to succeed. Would this not be true only in an ideal world, or in cases of extreme luck? I think so. Yet a book without an intense conflict followed by an eventual victory of the protagonist would not be as popular.

Why is it that we so like the ideal carefree world, in contrast to the cruel world out here? Why do we fool ourselves by thinking that such a world really is possible? It is indeed a dangerous act, to forget that we live in a really cruel world, and to seek comfort in the ideal world that writers would have us believe exists.

I missed posting on international women's day. Now, it is too late to post anything substantial, however, I leave you with this video of Harry Belafonte singing Man smart (Woman smarter)

Popular posts from this blog

Progressive Snapshot: Is it worth it?

I turned 25 last year, which in the highly mathematical and calculating eyes of the US insurance industry meant that I had suddenly matured into a much more responsible driver than I was at 24 years and 364 days of age. As a result, I expected my insurance rates to go down. Imagine my surprise when my insurance renewal notice from GEICO actually quoted a $50 increase in my insurance rates. To me, this was a clear signal that it was time to switch companies.Typically, I score really high on brand loyalty. I tend to stick with a brand for as long as possible, unless they really mess up. This qualified as a major mess up. As a result, I started shopping for insurance quotes.Two companies that quoted me significantly lower rates (30%–40% lower) were Progressive and Allstate. Both had an optional programme that could give me further discounts based on my consenting to the companies tracking my driving habits. Now, I am a careful driver – I hardly ever accelerate hard. I hate using the brak…

Cornell Graduate Students United: At What Cost?

On Monday and Tuesday, we graduate students at Cornell will be voting on whether or not we want to unionise. Actually, scratch that, only graduate students who hold a TA, RA, or GRA appointment can unionise.This is a shitty arrangement, and I will be voting against it.For those of you who are not aware of how graduate school works at Cornell, you could be on one of many appointments.FellowshipA graduate student on a fellowship gets a stipend and tuition paid without associated teaching or research opportunities. Graduate students on a fellowship typically work towards their own theses, but will be excluded from the unionGraduate research assistantshipsA GRA gives a graduate student stipend and tuition without teaching responsibilities. However, this money comes out of a specific project grant, and the students typically work on their own theses. Students on GRAs magically qualify to join the union, whereas there is virtually no difference between a GRA and a fellowship for the most pa…

Reading List, April 2017

Adam Carroll, When money isn’t real: The $10,000 experiment, in TEDxLondonBusinessSchool, 9 July 2015. [Online]: Carroll presents an interesting point – we have abstracted away money through the use of a number of instruments, such as credit and debit cards, NFC payment systems on our phones, and in-app purchases, when we don’t realise how much we are actually spending. Carroll spends some time showing how his kids, aged 7–11 played monopoly differently when they were playing with real money. He goes on to lay his premise, that financial literacy must be taught to children at a young age, when they should be allowed to fail and learn from their failures at a small scale, not at the hundreds of thousands of dollars when they are in student loan debt and just out of college.Carroll’s talk hit a lot of notes with my own experiences with money, and I’m sure that it would resonate with your experiences as well.Brett Scott, If plastic replaces cash, much tha…