A couple of my most memorable childhood stories included the Emperor’s new clothes and the little boy who cried ‘Wolf’. I’m sure my parents and mother in particular read these tales to me more frequently than others to ensure I understood the moral behind the fiction.
The latter tale was part of Aesop’s fables (No. 210) and from it is derived the English idiom “to cry wolf“, which means to give a false alarm.
Yet, when you unpack the tale there is a sterner message about truth, falsehood and a person’s reputation.
The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear, the villagers do not trust the boy’s cries for help, and the flock is destroyed. The moral at the end of the Greek version of the story states that it “shows that this is how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one eventually believes them“.
The former tale written by Hans Christian Anderson is also believed to have its origins in Aesop’s catalogue. A vain Emperor cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid“. The Emperor’s minister’s cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same.
Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretence not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretence, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. (Wiki).
The phrase “emperor’s new clothes” has become an idiom bout logical fallacies (Graves, Joseph L. 200). The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium). Marc Petrowsky suggests the story is an example of what happens because of pluralistic ignorance.
This is a story about a situation where “no one believes, but everyone believes that everyone else believes.” (Hansen, Jens Ulrik. 2011. “A Logic-Based Approach to Pluralistic Ignorance”).
Aesop himself is an ancient Greek writer believed to have lived around 620–564 BC. Yet his very existence is questioned and (if they ever existed) no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day.
I know I’ve been away from it all but don’t worry – TJ13 is still an F1 site.
Yet having no internet, no F1, no international and daily news was a most incredible and bizarre life for one who is connected the human consciousness my every waking moment via a number of mobile devices.
There is a saying, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ which of course refers to ideas (rather than 21st century products) and the truism here is that there is nothing truly novel in existence. Every new idea has some sort of precedent or echo from the past and F1 can easily be interpreted through the prism of these stories and ideas pretty well I suggest.
It is commonly accepted that Bernie Ecclestone is a best a loveable rogue and the book, “No Angel” was sanctioned by Ecclestone himself and as such is an admittance of the fact.
Yet Bernie is no loveable rogue. He is an arch manipulator, liar and a master of pretence. This is not to say he isn’t personable and even loyal to friends and some of those he does business with. He at times is indeed generous and even kind, but he appears to always be looking for the next angle – rarely gives a straight answer – and even if he does make an absolute statement such as ‘Germany is a done deal’, most of us now do not believe him.
Aesop’s predictions for Bernie have come true. You can only get away with crying ‘wolf’ for so long.
Ecclestone is uber rich because he lied and deceived the simple folk of F1. He has negotiated back room deals for the teams with TV companies, sponsors and race organisers which delivered to them riches beyond their wildest dreams.
His trick has always been to play one side off against the other; to make one party believe something is true and to then force their hand to act.
Of course when one party believes in Bernie’s position, another is persuaded with a promise of favour and quickly the rest follow suit. Yet, “no one really believes, but everyone believes that everyone else believes“, so they all toe the line.
Yet the emperor can only pull off this stunt in a culture where pretentiousness, pomposity, hypocrisy, collective denial or hollow ostentatiousness is given oxygen.
The F1 supremo is about to be extracted from this world of hypocrisy and delusion and will enter one where the air is quite different. By September 10, the court in Munich will have closed the window for Ecclestone’s lawyers to reply to the charges and most probably issue a date for a trial to begin in November.
Bernie will receive no special favours; his cries of wolf will gain no ear. Arguing black is white and even arriving naked in a Cinderella coach pulled by white horses will confuse no one.
The wheels of justice at present appear likely to see him sentenced as Gribkowsky – his partner in crime – to do some porridge (English idiom for jail time).
Porridge was a traditional food in much of Northern Europe and Russia. Barley was a common grain used, though other grains and yellow peas could be used, depending on local conditions. It was primarily………..
Sorry I digress. It is generally accepted that the leader of an organistion determines the organisational culture. So maybe F1 will be able to find a new leader who understands the point of another of Aesop’s fables. It goes like this:-
One day the various parts of the human body, including the brain, arms, legs, eyes, feet, hands, lungs, etc., got together to discuss the body’s belly and what they thought about its contribution to the group efforts on behalf of the body.
The body parts were all unhappy and resentful for various reasons, and chose to target their collective anxieties at the belly, in a rather bullying way. The unhappy body parts decided that the belly was not doing enough towards maintaining the body’s operations, and accused the belly of spending its time lazily consuming food and allowing other members to do all the work.
“We have decided that we will no longer do what we need to do in order to feed you,” they said to the belly, “because you do nothing to help us, and you are lazy and unproductive.” And they stopped feeding the belly.
The belly soon starved. But then so did the body and all of its parts starve too. The unhappy body parts now realized – too late unfortunately to save themselves and the body – that although the belly seemed to be doing nothing, it had in fact been fulfilling a vital function necessary for the wellbeing of the body and all of its parts…..