November 2013

* golden ball

"Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen."


Long ago, when wishing still could lead to something, there lived a king whose daughters all were beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, who had seen so many things, simply marveled every time it shone on her face. Now close to the castle of this king was a great dark forest, and in the forest under an old lime tree a spring, and when the day was very hot, the king's child would go out into the wood and sit on the edge of the cool spring. And to pass the time she would take a golden ball, toss it up and catch it; and this was her favourite plaything.

Now it so happened one day that the golden ball of the princess did not fall into the little hand lifted into the air, but passed it, bounded on the ground and rolled directly into the water. The princess followed it with her eyes, but the ball disappeared; and the spring was deep, so deep that the bottom could not be seen. Thereupon she began to cry, and her crying became louder and louder, and she was unable to find consolation. And while she was lamenting in this way, she heard someone call to her: What is the matter, princess? You are crying so hard, a frog would be forced to pity you. She looked around to see where the voice had come from and there she beheld a frog holding it's fat, ugly head out of the water.

"Oh, it's you, old Water Plopper," she said.

"I am crying over my golden ball, which has fallen into the spring."

"Be calm; don't cry," answered the frog.

"I can surely be of assistance. But what will you give me if I fetch your toy for you?"

"Whatever you would like to have, dear frog" she said, "my clothes, my pearls and jewels, even the golden crown I wear."

The frog replied, "Your clothes, your pearls, and jewels, and your golden crown, I do not want; but if you will care for me and let me be your companion and playmate, let me sit beside you at your little table, eat from your little golden plate, drink from you little cup, sleep in your little bed: if you promise me that I will go straight down and fetch your golden ball."

(Joseph Campbell,




Arthur Schopenhauer created a parable about the dilemma faced by porcupines in cold weather. He described a "company of porcupines" who "crowded themselves very close together one cold winter's day so as to profit by one another's warmth and so save themselves from being frozen to death. But soon they felt one another's quills, which induced them to separate again." And so on. The porcupines were "driven backwards and forwards from one trouble to the other," until they found "a mean distance at which they could most tolerably exist."

Schopenhauer's tale was later quoted by Freud in a footnote to his 1921 essay Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, where it was invoked to illustrate what Freud called the "sediment of feelings of aversion and hostility" adhering to any long-lasting human relationship. Freud's entire corpus is haunted by questions of intimacy: How much is too much? What degree of intimacy is necessary for our survival? How can we simultaneously crave and repel intimacy-especially from those with whom we find ourselves in some kind of intermittently repulsive, inconceivably intimate embrace to begin with? One could say that the dilemma of the porcupine, as rendered by Schopenhauer, is the Freudian relationship problematic as such.

from all



"Though you seat the frog on a golden stool, he'll soon jump off again into the pool."

"Winter kept on going, and the destitute stood in snow and froze. I join myself with him, since I need him. He makes living light and easy. He leads to the depths, to the ground where I can see the heights. Without the depths, I do not have the heights. I may be on the heights, but precisely because of that I do not become aware of the heights. I therefore need the bottom-most for my renewal. If I am always on the heights, I wear them out and the best becomes atrocious to me....At your low point you are no longer distinct from your fellow beings. You are not ashamed and do not regret it, since insofar as you live the life of your fellow beings and descend to their lowness you also climb into the holy stream of common life, where you are no longer an individual on a high mountain but a fish among fish, a frog among frogs."
(Carl Jung, the Red Book)

"The first step to the knowledge of the wonder and mystery of life is the recognition of the monstrous nature of the earthly human realm as well as its glory, the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think they know how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination."
(Joseph Campbell)