Gulliver’s Travels

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"And he gave it for his opinion, "that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together."

I don't think there will ever be a time when Gulliver's Travels doesn't feel like a perfect mirror of humankind. I remember the first time I read it, as a child. I was immeasurably impressed with the sudden insight that things are small or great depending on comparison with other things, and that there are no absolute values. That knowledge, combined with the idea that you learn to understand yourself by seeing your peculiarities through the eyes of people who do not share your social and cultural background, helped me navigate my globetrotting childhood. When I reread the Travels as a grown-up, I focused more on the political satire, finding pleasure in discovering that the typical idiocies of my own time apparently had their correspondences centuries ago. Somehow, that made life easier to bear.

But now I am beginning to wonder. Are the yahoos degenerating further When will they hit rock bottom And could we maybe ship off some of our worst yahoos to Lilliput, where they can claim they are great without lying

Thank Goodness there are authors like Swift, who are capable of making humanists in despair laugh on dark November nights after reading the never-ending misery called news. Oh Lordy, I wish they were fake.

But they are likely to mirror the world - without the wit and irony that Swift added to make life endurable, enjoyable even! That is a quality in an author that is always needed, now more than ever!

Yahooooooooooooooooo!


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