Nasruddin’s Audience with the King

Question: I finally met my favorite author whom I’ve worshipped from afar for 20 years, and she was a complete asshole. I’m crushed! How can I read her books now?

Sometimes great books are written by assholes. And sometimes, assholes write great books. The books are still as good as ever, so stick with what’s working. And from now on, only buy her books used or borrow them from the library. Getting too close to greatness can be hazardous to your health.

Regarding literary parallels, the Greek legend of Daedalus comes to mind. Daedalus was an early tinkerer (aka “disruptive innovator”) who’d invented one of the first flying machines: a pair of wings with feathers glued on with wax. He convinced his own son Icarus to be the test pilot and it was going great, right up until Icarus flew too close to the Sun and all the wax melted. Unfortunately, Daedalus hadn’t yet invented the parachute.

And, it can be highly dangerous to approach royalty directly. We Americans don’t have the don’t-touch-the-queen etiquette but that’s been true for millennia. In some places, you couldn’t even look directly upon royalty or you’d go straight to the chopping block.

In case you’re wondering where the cartoon came from, it’s from a folk hero named Nasruddin who appears to be part of the “holy fool” tradition. Our version of this story is from the National Catholic Reporter.


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