Tricks and machinations from our rogue knowledge god. Cunning, but to what end? I’d say, but it would ruin the surprise.
On matters of cunning and charming fellows, Cory and I have recently started playing what we call “The Garak Game” with a book of Aesop’s Fables.
For those of you unfamiliar with Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, and the character of Elim Garak, I’ll provide a touch of context. Garak is from a race called Cardassians. Cardassians, in general, are a people that value loyalty to the state, military might, perception of justice above actual truth, and perhaps above all, cunning. By and large they are a prideful people with an intense sense of superiority towards other cultures and species. Garak is a banished member of the Obsidian Order, a shadow intelligence organization greatly feared. And he has a very unique perspective compared to the Federation folks on the station.
The Garak Game comes from an episode where Garak is told the Earth fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” in an attempt to convince him that he should try, for once, to give a straight and truthful answer. Garak, however, gets a very different moral from the tale — “Never tell the same lie twice.”
So the game is to read an Aesop fable and then try to think up ways that Garak might interpret it differently than its traditional moral. If the moral turns out the same, to look for yet another angle to view the message of the story. It’s a great exercise in twisting perspectives to look at something familiar and find something new. Want to give it a try? How about this one, chosen at random from my book:
The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox
A Lion and a Bear seized a Kid at the same moment, and fought fiercely for its possession. When they had fearfully lacerated each other and were faint from the long combat, they lay down exhausted with fatigue. A Fox, who had gone round them at a distance several times, saw them both stretched on the ground with the Kid lying untouched in the middle. He ran in between them, and seizing the Kid scampered off as fast as he could. The Lion and the Bear saw him, but not being able to get up, said, “Woe be to us, that we should have fought and belabored ourselves only to serve the turn of a Fox.”
The traditional moral is: It sometimes happens that one man has all the toil, and another all the profit.
What would Garak say? Or, perhaps, a character from one of your own stories? Or simply you, from a different perspective? Or, if you have a favorite fable yourself, share it, and see if you can find a new message in the tale!