A Question From A Reader

Allo. A wonderful read and model of Creativity vs. Utilitarianism. But, to nitpick: Do you not mean to say, early in your writing, that the anti-ponarvians don't stop to consider that the fable of the ant and the grasshopper was written by a grasshopper?

Maybe I'm confused...

A guy called Luke.

My Response

Dear Luke:

Thanks for your kind words and special thanks for not only reading my little essay but on actually taking the time to think about it. In my experience that's quite rare.

As for your nit, no - I meant ant. I suppose you may be thinking that, since most writers tend to be ponarvians, this writer (Aesop) was most likely a ponarvian (that is, a grasshopper), hence the irony. An interesting point, but in this case, I would argue, the writer was definitely an ant.

As I recall, in this particular fable the grasshopper fares well enough during the lazy days of summer, but when winter comes, starves; his friend the ant, who spent the summer plodding through careful preparations, survives. The moral is that, ultimately, life is tough and slackers who fail to keep their nose to the grindstone will get their come-uppance in the end. Ponarvian grasshopper looses, anti-ponarvian ant wins.

There is a certain degree of truth to this, and it's this kind of thinking which drives much of anti-ponarvian behavior. But it's not the whole truth. ("The opposite of a simple truth is a falsehood, but the opposite of a great truth is another great truth.") I can imagine an equally true fable in which the ant, who spends his summer in grim preparations and resists all the grasshopper's invitations for fun, romance, and enlightenment, is stepped on before the first snowflake falls. The grasshopper attempts to comfort him in his final moments, but the ant sadly reflects that he now wished he had spent some of his time enjoying life. Life is short and death comes quickly to all regardless of preparations, so it's all the more important to use the time well.

In my view this second fable is just as valid as the first, and is the kind of thinking that drives ponarvian behavior. So you might say that the first, classic fable represents the ant's point of view, and was thus, in that respect, written by an ant. It's ending makes a valid point, but if a grasshopper had written this story it would have had quite a different (though equally valid) ending. It's always worthwhile to consider the source of any argument, however valid it may be.

That's all I meant. Thanks again for writing.


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