A voyage to the country of the Houyhnhnms
Subjects: >balance >continuum >dreaming >energy >energy control >imagining >insight >memory >mu >the playing man >pressure >shadow and archetype >blind spots >trees
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When truth controls action,
we move toward complete congruence between words and deeds.
This is living truthfully - thinking and acting truthfully.
Keshavan Nair ( A Higher Standard of Leadership)
Gulliver's last voyage took him to the country of the Houyhnhnms, a race of noble-minded, intelligent horses, who were served by an abominable breed of degenerated human beings called Yahoos. The Houyhnhnms led a simple healthy life, were absolutely honest and behaved in accordance with the dictates of pure reason. According to gulliver they held only one real debate, which was: Whether the Yahoos should be exterminated from the face of the earth. The arguments for it were of great strength and weight. As the Yahoos were the most filthy, noisome, and deformed animal which nature ever produced, so they were the most restive and violent, mischievous and malicious: They would privately suck the teats of the Houyhnhnms cows; kill and devour their cats, trample down their oats and grass, if they were not continually watched. The general traditional theory had it that Yahoos had not always been in their country: But, that many ages ago, two of these brutes had appeared together upon a mountain; whether produced by the heat of the sun upon corrupted mud and slime, or from the ooze and froth of the sea, was never known. These Yahoos had grown so numerous in a short time as to over-run and infest the whole nation. So then the Houyhnhnms to get rid of this evil, 'made a general hunting, and at last inclosed the whole herd'. They then had destroyed the older, whereas every Houyhnhnm kept two young ones in a kennel and tamed them, insofar as an animal so savage by nature could be tamed. They were then used as slaves.
The Houyhnhnms were perfectly free from disease and faced death with a calm mind. Human vices were unknown among them and their mutual relations were governed by loyalty and goodwill. Though Gulliver held an inferior position among them (he resembled the Yahoos), he was sorry when it was decided by the General Assembly that he should leave them. He built a canoe of Yahoo skins and sailed away. After reaching his native country he was for a long time unable to suffer the presence of other men, even his own wife reminded him of the hateful Yahoos. Throughout his life he remembered the noble Houyhnhnm with feelings of love and respect. Gullier has been more shaken by this experience then any of his previous voyages. He has seen the beauty of the beast, the beast in all of us. In this part Swift puts reason opposite unreason. The animal lives by pure reason (the philosopher's ideal). And 'man' is completely motivated by animal instincts, everything we deny in ourselves. As such a magnificent example of the power of the creative technique of reversal.
The many reactions to this book go to show the power of this technique; many critics thought that Swift really meant this. In my view it was just a medium to show many foolish aspects of human behaviour, without satirizing politicians or any particular group of people, but by focussing on the universal human condition. For, however reasonable the Houyhnhnms may be, creativity is not part of their mental make-up.Their goal is stability: no change and their constant worry is dealing with the changing environment, symbolized by the Yahoos. Life means finding the balance between change and no change.Moreover this involves creatively dealing with the clash between two fundamental instincts: preservation of the species and self-preservation. For me this voyage describes and satirizes the denial of our animal part: the instincts. Man can be regarded as the highest form of evolution but will only live up to his promise if he fully develops ('unwraps') his potential. A potential which is 'enveloped' from the beginning. The baby is wrapped up in cloth, the physical symbol of the spritual 'enveloping' of each human. No animal is bundled up like that. The pure and reasonable Houyhnhnm is the same from birth onwards. The human is 'packaged' or 'enveloped' by all kinds of cultural concepts. Different cultures create different goals for their children. True creativity means reclaiming that original purity by freeing or 'developing' ourselves from the wrappings of our education and upbringing. Thus the ability to see the simplicity of man's universal drives may be seen and acted upon. Then creativity will help to create a better environment, worthy of us. We can then move forward because we know which way we are facing.
'How can I move forward,if I don't know which way I'm facing?
How can I give love,if my feelings have been denied?'
John Lennon in 'How?'
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