Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE MAN AND HIS SHADOW”*

Posted by jlubans on November 18, 2016

Caption: The elusive shadow.

“THERE was a certain (one-of-a-kind) who must needs desire to
catch his own Shadow. He makes a step or two to-
wards it, but it moves away before him. He quickens his
pace; it does the same. At last he takes to running; but
the quicker he goes, the quicker runs the Shadow also,
utterly refusing to give itself up, just as if it had been a
treasure. But see! our eccentric friend suddenly turns
round, and walks away from it. And presently he looks
behind him; the Shadow runs after him now.

Ladies fair, I have often observed what do you sup-
pose ? — no, no; I assure you I am not going to speak about
you that Fortune treats us in a similar Way. One man
tries with all his might to seize the goddess, and only loses
his time and his trouble. Another seems, to all appearance,
to be running out of her sight but, no, she herself takes a
pleasure in pursuing him.”

As some say, the pleasure is in the pursuit (as depicted), not in the catching. Perhaps the more you want something - a friend, a job, a favor – the better to keep a respectful distance; hence according to this fable, the better your chances of getting what you want. Is this then a form of dissembling, an “aw, shucks” me-ing?
No doubt a psychology study exists to prove (well sorta, if we don’t look too closely at the data!) that aloofness gains more concessions, than does a display of too much interest, regardless of merit.)
In job place interviews, I always made clear – nicely, of course - that I was interviewing the organization just as much as they were interviewing me. Would there be a good fit? - was as much my question as it was the employer’s.
If the employer behaved arrogantly – there are ways of being arrogant without being overtly rude; for example, assuming that since I’ve shown up for the interview I want the job. Au contraire, I am no more pursuing the shadow, than it is pursing me.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

© Copyright John Lubans 2016
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