Saturday, December 6, 2008

Helping my mate

A few days ago, my billy goat Gavroche got into a terrible brawl with my donkey Moshé. I had to rush down the wet slopes, wearing thongs and a track suit, to separate them before any harm was done.

When I reached the scene of the fight, Gavroche was still screeching, because Moshé seemed to be standing on him. I was quite worried, because I had the impression that Gavroche had trouble getting back up on to his little legs. I followed him around on the slopes for half an hour, and I was relieved to see that he was recovering his spirits slowly but surely. Finally, I tied a rope around him and led him back up to the house, where Moshé would not be able to restart the fight.

I felt terribly sorry that a quiet and independent little fellow like Gavroche could be the innocent target of a powerful giant such as Moshé. While meditating upon the injustice of life on our planet, and no doubt everywhere else in the Cosmos where something like DNA might be found, I rapidly cut up a bowl of red apples for Gavroche. This dish (my goat's favorite food... provided that the bits are cut up small enough to enter his tiny mouth) worked wonders on Gavroche.

Munching apples, Gavroche forgot all about his recent brawl and his trivial injuries, and I too abandoned my pessimistic philosophizing about what the Spaniard Miguel de Unamuno once called the Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida... the title of his major work, The Tragic Sense of Life in English, which marked me greatly when I was a student.

But don't misunderstand me. It's not because a bowl of apples can resuscitate a wounded Gavroche that I look upon our earthly condition as a joyful picnic or a musical comedy with a happy ending. On the contrary. The older I get, the more I sense the dominant presence of cruelty, pain and injustice in the world. But I'm comforted nowadays by the marvelous idea, often expressed by Richard Dawkins, that the world at large is never intentionally cruel, so to say... speaking as if the universe had "intentions". The Cosmos simply doesn't give a damn!

PS News from Spain about the dog Pif. Bob told me, a few days ago, that his daughter Alison and her dog are getting along fine in their new life on a ranch near Malaga. But Alison would like to see her dog put on more weight, and she tries to make him eat a maximum. That news doesn't disturb me greatly, because I've always considered Pif as a naturally lean and lanky dog. He'll probably shoot up suddenly like a massive beanstalk, when Alison is least expecting it. And she'll then have to feed him on prime steak. Bravo, dear dog! I know my Pif...

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