A Fable Or Two

I relate the following fables without much explanation. Let’s just say they seduced me. I have no idea what they mean. But I wonder.

***

“Consider the story of the soldier who meets Death at a crossing in the marketplace, and believes he saw him make a menacing gesture in his direction. He rushes to the king’s palace and asks the king for his best horse in order that he might flee during the night far from Death, as far as Samarkand. Upon which the king summons Death to the palace and reproaches him for having frightened one of his best servants. But Death, astonished, replies: ‘I didn’t mean to frighten him. It was just that I was surprised to see this soldier here, when we had a rendezvous tomorrow in Samarkand.’” (Baudrillard, Seduction, p. 72)

***

“A little boy asks a fairy to grant him his wishes. The fairy agrees on one condition, that he never think of the color red in the fox’s tail. ‘Is that all?’ he replies offhandedly. And off he goes to find happiness. But what happens? He is unable to rid himself of this fox’s tail, which he believed he had already forgotten. He sees it everywhere, with its red color, in his thoughts, and in his dreams. Despite all his efforts, he cannot make it disappear. He becomes obsessed with this absurd, insignificant, but tenacious image, augmented by all the spite that comes from not having been able to rid himself of it. Not only do the fairy’s promises not come true, but he loses his taste for life. Perhaps he dies without ever having gotten clear of it.” (Baudrillard, Seduction, p. 74)

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