Friday Fable. Aesop’s “AESOP AND THE WRITER*”

Posted by jlubans on September 21, 2012

“A man had read to Aesop selections from a badly written work in which he stupidly boasted at length about what a great writer he was. The man wanted to know what Aesop thought, so the writer said to him, 'Surely you do not think I have too high an opinion of myself? My confidence in my own genius is not misplaced, is it?' 'Not at all,' said Aesop, who was utterly exhausted by the writer's wretched book. 'I think it is a very good idea for you to praise yourself, given that no one else is ever likely to do so!'”
Indian runner pic
And so it must be for all of us who labor in solitude. Until our stuff, our art, our product meets the eye or ear of the beholder, we may be kidding ourselves about the “goodness”, the novelty of our insights and our conviction that few have trodden this way before. But, and it is a big but (hah!), I suspect there are instances of crystalline vision and heroic action never picked up by the cognoscenti. I recall a friend dismissing my assertion that while Roger Bannister ran the first recorded sub four-minute mile it was not the first four-minute mile. I argued that there must have been dozens of times, maybe hundreds of times, when in fear or friendly competition runners ran like the wind, "trailing streams of glory". Tradition has it that Native American runners daily peeled off dozens of miles and I would contend could easily do 60 second quarters over long distances. He denied it - no way. Maybe a record depends on who’s holding the stopwatch (or camera)? Well, that’s far apiece from Aesop’s pricking a vain author’s ballooning pride, so you may have to forgive me!
*Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.

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