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Registered User
(8/13/02 2:53:22 am)

Analysis: Three Sons of Fortune
A father once called his three sons before him, and he gave to the
first a rooster, to the second a scythe, and to the third a cat. I am
already aged, said he, my death is nigh, and I have wished to provide
for you before my end, money I have not, and what I now give you
seems of little worth, but all depends on your making a sensible use
of it. Only seek out a country where such things are still unknown,
and your fortune is made.

After the father's death the eldest went away with his rooster, but
wherever he came the rooster was already known, in the towns he saw him
from a long distance, sitting upon the steeples and turning round
with the wind, and in the villages he heard more than one crowing, no
one would show any wonder at the creature, so that it did not look as
if he would make his fortune by it.

At last, however, it happened that he came to an island where the
people knew nothing about cocks, and did not even understand how to
divide their time. They certainly knew when it was morning or
evening, but at night, if they did not sleep through it, not one of
them knew how to find out the time.

Look. Said he, what a proud creature. It has a ruby-red crown upon
its head, and wears spurs like a knight, it calls you three times
during the night, at fixed hours, and when it calls for the last
time, the sun soon rises. But if it crows by broad daylight, then
take notice, for there will certainly be a change of weather.

The people were well pleased, for a whole night they did not sleep,
and listened with great delight as the rooster at two, four, and six
o'clock, loudly and clearly proclaimed the time. They asked if the
creature were for sale, and how much he wanted for it. About as much
gold as an ass can carry, answered he. A ridiculously small price
for such a precious creature. They cried unanimously, and willingly
gave him what he had asked.

When he came home with his wealth his brothers were astonished, and
the second said, well, I will go forth and see whether I cannot get
rid of my scythe as profitably. But it did not look as if he would,
for laborers met him everywhere, and they had scythes upon their
shoulders as well as he.

At last, however, he chanced upon an island where the people knew
nothing of scythes. When the corn was ripe there, they took cannon
out to the fields and shot it down. Now this was rather an uncertain
affair, many shot right over it, others hit the ears instead of the
stems, and shot them away, whereby much was lost, and besides all
this, it made a terrible noise. So the man set to work and mowed it
down so quietly and quickly that the people opened their mouths with
astonishment. They agreed to give him what he wanted for the scythe,
and he received a horse laden with as much gold as it could carry.

And now the third brother wanted to take his cat to the right man. He
fared just like the others, so long as he stayed on the mainland
there was nothing to be done. Every place had cats, and there were
so many of them that new-born kittens were generally drowned in the

At last he sailed over to an island, and it luckily happened that no
cats had ever yet been seen there, and that the mice had got the
upper hand so much that they danced upon the tables and benches
whether the master were at home or not. The people complained
bitterly of the plague, the king himself in his palace did not know
how to protect himself against them, mice squeaked in every corner,
and gnawed whatever they could lay hold of with their teeth.

But now the cat began her chase, and soon cleared a couple of rooms,
and the people begged the king to buy the wonderful beast for the
country. The king willingly gave what was asked, which was a mule
laden with gold, and the third brother came home with the greatest
treasure of all.

The cat made herself merry with the mice in the royal palace, and
killed so many that they could not be counted. At last she grew warm
with the work and thirsty, so she stood still, lifted up her head and
cried, mew. Mew.

When they heard this strange cry, the king and all his people were
frightened, and in their terror ran all at once out of the palace.
Then the king took counsel what was best to be done, at last it was
determined to send a herald to the cat, and demand that she should
leave the palace, or if not, she was to expect that force would be
used against her. The councillors said, rather will we let ourselves
be plagued with the mice, for to that misfortune we are accustomed,
than give up our lives to such a monster as this. A noble youth,
therefore, was sent to ask the cat whether she would peaceably quit
the castle. But the cat, whose thirst had become still greater,
merely answered, mew. Mew. The youth understood her to say, "Most
certainly not. Most certainly not." And took this answer to the king.

Then, said the councillors, she shall yield to force. Cannon were
brought out, and the palace was soon in flames. When the fire
reached the room where the cat was sitting, she sprang safely out of
the window, but the besiegers did not leave off until the whole
palace was shot down to the ground.

Edited by: Gnostradamus at: 8/13/02 2:59:09 am
Registered User
(8/13/02 4:17:02 am)
Re: Analysis: Three Sons of Fortune

and there is no more to the story...?
no to-be-continued?

where to begin
3 sons
3 gifts
3 normal twists of luck

1 situation turned upside-down

our 3 sons are safe
but the 3rd kingdom has destroyed itself out of ignorance
out of the fortunate purchase of a cat
who began to 'mew' from thirst
the end comes in fire
and the cannon from the second son's island experience

elements abound

time to ruminate


Registered User
(8/13/02 3:02:42 pm)

Re: Analysis: Three Sons of Fortune
Yes, that is the whole tale.

Let us now examine the tale for hidden meanings. What are the greatest incongruities contained within the tale? And what are the Forces of the three elements? The three elements being Rooster, Scythe, and Cat. Which element is Active, which is Passive, and which is Neutralizing? Or better might be Energy, Matter, and Form.


Registered User
(8/14/02 2:40:10 pm)

Re: Analysis: Three Sons of Fortune
Note: Due to a mistake in the translation, corn should be read as grain.

> At last, however, he chanced upon an island where the people knew
> nothing of scythes. When the corn was ripe there, they took cannon
> out to the fields and shot it down. Now this was rather an uncertain
> affair, many shot right over it, others hit the ears instead of the
> stems, and shot them away, whereby much was lost, and besides all
> this, it made a terrible noise.

This is clearly overkill. Cannon fire used to harvest grain. Something is
out of whack. Such a system is unlikely to have developed through normal
means. For if the cannon had been developed on the island the people
would have had to have first understood the art of metallurgy and if
that was the case then they surely would have first created blades to
fight the enemies upon which they would later use the cannon. A machete
would do the job of harvesting corn nearly as well as a scythe. Suppose
that grain was native to this island. If so, some form of harvest method
must have existed which would surely be superior to using cannons.

But if the grain was not native to the island, where did it come from?

Perhaps there are not three islands, but only one, visited three times. Consider the first son with the rooster. What sort of supplies would one require if traveling with a rooster?

So now in terms of charge. First we have the rooster, which keeps track of
time and change. Then the scythe, an instrument for harvesting. And
finally the cat hunting mice. The charges are Active, Passive, and
Neutralizing. Other terms include Life, Matter, and Form. Also Action,
Reaction, and Reconciliation.

The only obvious attribution is the scythe with Form. With the rooster we
are dealing with awareness of a sort, a consciousness associated with
the Sun. The cat on the other hand is a hunter which kills mice. Once it
kills the mice it asks for milk. The cat is basically reactive.

If these attributions hold the we have Rooster as Active, Scythe as
Neutralizing, and Cat as Passive. Which gives us Crime.

Crime + 0 -

Crime is when an outside Active cause tampers with Form leaving behind

Just as in the end of the tale the castle is reduced to smoking rubble.

This can also be seen as the damaging effects of interfering with less
advanced societies. Hence the Prime Directive and its application to
this tale.

Registered User
(8/14/02 6:03:39 pm)
Re: Analysis: Three Sons of Fortune
crime it is
but is this a folk tale exaggeration to celebrate stupidity?
to warn what happens when the rhythm of life is interrupted?

the first situation changed amorphous time into regulated knowable units

the second took an overwhelmingly excessive act of energy and decreased it to efficiency

the third took a situation causing suffering and eased it into manageability.

But the people could not cope with 3 such changes.
Their understanding went only so far, to the areas of tangible gain.

This mystical sound baffled them and they brought out their unused cannon, for after all, cannonfire had always helped them before.

crime was committed in that they destroyed their Castle - home of their king. The people's wish for the cat overtuned their royal seat.

So, what is this crime?


Unregistered User
(8/15/02 6:42:25 am)
Mr. G

You may want to rethink these long elaborate analysis and translations of narratives on the board--as I recall your original post was to ask where one might publish such an idiosyncratic methodology--however, if you give it all up on the board as elaborately and extensively as you do here--you may not find a publisher willing to reproduce what you have already put out there. Just a thought. Brevity, like a good aperitif, opens the appetite.

Registered User
(8/15/02 6:05:09 pm)

Re: publication
No doubt you are correct.

Registered User
(8/15/02 6:16:32 pm)
Re: publication
some students
do not do well
with books

this student loves dialogue

Registered User
(8/15/02 7:38:25 pm)
Both good points ...
The exchange of ideas is wonderful ... the problem is, many publishers expect full rights to original material, and have rather draconian policies about previously published work, on the theory that putting out material that is available elsewhere might diminish the number of copies that they might otherwise sell. There was a discussion on this topic a few months ago, originating from - a few people had had bad experiences trying to submit pieces that had previously been posted online. It should still be in the active material, I think ... if not, thanks to Heidi's hard work, it should be easy to find via the Search option.

Registered User
(8/15/02 8:17:37 pm)
Re: Helen
Yes, i've been involved in discussions about poetry.
(i've been online poetry publishing for about 2 or 3 years)

Gnostradamus needs to know the score - for sure.
but still!

discussing ideas needs to be kept alive

Perhaps the discussion side could be kept on the forum and the in-depth polished ponderings could be reserved for the eventual publication.

In any case, I've adored this input, exactly when and where I've needed it. My personal quest pulling symbols from I Ching, Qabalah, Tai Chi, classical haiku and fairy tale has been charged by the energy of these discussions.

So, i thank Gnostradamus and SurLaLune for offering the opportunities.


Unregistered User
(8/16/02 4:06:41 am)
with all respect
Judih--yes discussion is great--but I was more concerned for G that many of the posts read less like discussion and more like sections exerpted from polished pieces. Discussions are usually pretty messy--that may be what makes them interesting because they are very open to any musings that ideas may spark. My comment wasn't intended to shut down discussion, but as a cautionary piece of advice to someone hoping to publish those ideas. (for instance the full translations of the stories may be problematic on line since no one knows where the original stories are coming from--or even what language? yet they appear here as completed and finished pieces..."edited" by Mr. G.)

I think the use of the I Ching is interesting in places--a sort of interstital moment--using one genre of thought to comment on the structure and potential meaning of another genre of expression. It does seem to reveal insights into what I think is the essentailly dynamic nature of the narratives--transformative moments in rites of passage of the protagonist--the listener focuses not on the psychological development of characters, but movement and change metaphorically rendered by encounters with the fantastic. Some of the same wisdom of the I Ching to predict/examine movement and change in our lives therefore has a similar sensibility--as well as a metaphorical view of those changeable moments.

Registered User
(8/16/02 6:07:17 am)

Re: with all respect
Hello Midora,

You are correct that these are, in general, polished pieces. This is because I have been having discussions on a variety of lists concerning these tales as well as various Biblical and apocryphal works for quite some time. Rather than rewriting each piece each time I cull from my previous correspondence.

As concerning the tales themselves, they are all Grimms' and can be found here:

Now, as to the publication of this sort of work, do you feel a journal of some sort might be interested? Perhaps the journal being planned by the Folklore Planning List, what do you say Kerrie?



Unregistered User
(8/17/02 7:13:57 am)
I do think there might a few journals interested in your creative approach...but I would respectfully make a few suggestions to make your approach more marketable from a journal's point of view. So far what I have read is the application of one system of thought to explicate the "hidden" meanings of a second system of thought. What I think you need to do is explain the value, the reason why such an application is useful--why use the I Ching (a chinese system of thought) to explicate the meanings of German (or any other culture's) fairy tale? and what is more, how should such a methodology be applied? and to what end purpose?--Bettelheim is slammed because he mechanistically applies a narrow European psychological approach to fairy tales, Levi-Strauss's structuralist methodology was fascinating, but not really explained in a way that it was possible for anyone to really use (read Susan Sontag's wonderful essay "Claude Levi-Strauss as Culture Hero"--in which she argues that Levi-Strauss, as anthropologist became the culture hero because he "defined" what was important in the narrative and constructed (reconstructed) an interpretation of the culture from his lofty vantage point. And that while it makes fun reading--it is clearly so subjective it is difficult to apply with any confidence--or as much creative interpretation as someone of Claude Levi-Strauss's stature)

So you need to provide in a reasoned explanation to the value of applying this method universally to narratives. Perhaps in other places you this is moot. It's just that without such an explanation, your approach runs the risk of being regarded as a "whistling dog"--clever, but not practical. In a moment of whimsy and post-modern frenzy I could construct a system that argued that the "Goose Girl" is really an encoded receipe for a 16th century Ferrara lasagna. it might be fun--but would it ultimately be useful? And what in the end does it really say about the narrative. Please understand, I'm not saying you do this--but without a clear explanation of the value/the usefulness of your system applied to a body of narratives which do not share the same cultural heritage as the I may be accused of such whimsy. And that may be the sticking point for a publisher.

My understanding of the I Ching is somewhat limited...but I felt it was more of a divination system--to recognize in the energy flow, the future possibilities. I think of it as an open ended system--each cast offering a differing sort of interpretation as the energy shifts in time for the specific individual who casts. But the narratives belong to a closed world of art--that while they celebrate change and transformation--do so within a structure designed to ultimately contain, shape disorder and change. The chaos of real life is given a momentary expression of order from conflict to resolution, a dialectical movement--but one that is often bordered by formulaic openings and closings signifying its limits. So I guess I would need to be convinced (or perhaps educated in an article) as to the philosophy, the driving mechanism of the I Ching and the reason why it would serve as a good systematic model for the explication of fairy tales. Again--these are not criticisms, but rather suggestions for what I would like to see in an article in order to remain interested. But, that's just all this is IMHO.

Heidi Anne Heiner
(8/17/02 1:03:12 pm)
I'll second that
Midori expressed herself so well that I can't really think of anything to add to her comments other than to second them. So thanks to you, Midori, for saying what I haven't taken the time to find words for the past few weeks.

I am still having a hard time thinking it useful to apply the I Ching to most of the fairy tales I deal with on a regular basis. It is an interesting exercise, but I am not finding real utility for it. The earlier discussion about objective and subjective art is not enough. It narrows the intention of the literary fairy tale too much for me. After all, we are dealing with literary versions of these tales, recorded by a few people sometimes (but not always) with the hopes of representing the folklore in at least one moment in time. The beauty of these tales is their ability to be interpreted on many levels, personal, historical, socialogical, psychological, etc. For me, each of these levels has provided insight in some way to the tales. In other words, convince me why this level of interpretation is worthy and important. So far it is intriguing, but not enlightening. I haven't read anything that I haven't read or thought somewhere before. Granted, I have read a lot, but I am not really intellectual. And I am much less read than many of the people on this board and elsewhere.

Okay, so I found another way of saying a part of what Midori has already said better! But the meaner stuff is all my own...


Registered User
(8/17/02 5:51:45 pm)
Re: knot eye
Fairy Tales are objective art - lending themselves to constant repetition.
I have read tales a hundred times, loved them for their language and inner ring, and always waited for the coin to hit the jackpot within me.

Gn's use of I Ching opened another door of insight. For I Ching, itself, and its meeting with these tales.

I'd welcome more, more, much more.

For anything that enlightens my understanding, enlightens the whole of me.

I'd buy the book.


Unregistered User
(8/18/02 5:42:37 am)
"objective art"
I don't understand what you mean by "objective art"...I know you've taken the term from Gurdjeff's "Meetings With Remarkable Men" (and I can't find my copy...) but I still am uncertain as to how you use it. And it seems to be a cornerstone to your reason for using the I Ching. Repetition alone doesn't make it "objective" ...and I am not certain whether you are speaking of the use of repetition within the narrative, or in its ability to be transferred from one culture to another? or its vitality as an art form to continue throughout generations?

Registered User
(8/18/02 10:16:56 am)
Re: "objective art"

Objective art is a term used by many. When art is created without the ego of the artist present - then the result is no longer subjective.

When an artist creates something to be heard, to point his/her voice in the direction of celebrate an inflated moment of self - the result is subjective art.

Objective art is created when the artist has shed personality, and becomes a conduit for higher energies.

This is a shamanistic act - translating cosmic ideas into terms understandable by those not in touch with that inner electricity.

Objective art is created without the stain of the artist's claim to understanding, but rather through direct connection to an inner core.

If you have experienced a moment where you as a person seem to disappear within the art, then that's when you're participating in objective art.

An entire fairy tale written by a source beyond the writer, is objective art, and it stands the test of time, and countless generations.

The Pyramids are objective art.


Yellow McMaggie
Registered User
(8/18/02 1:25:36 pm)
Re: "objective art"

I've been trying to follow along with this conversation recently, and I too, have been trying to figure out what you mean by the term "objective art". You say that when " entire fairy tale written by a source beyond the writer, is objective art".

However, as far as I am aware, much of these discussions have been focusing on the analysis of Grimms' fairy tales. By what you define as objective art, I don't think that it would be rather fair or accurate to define the Grimms' tales as such.

You say that "Objective art is created when the artist has shed personality", and that it is "created without the stain of the artist's claim to understanding, but rather through direct connection to an inner core" but that is not so in the case of the Grimms. Throughout the seven editions of the Grimms collections of Children's and Household tales, the Grimms had continually edited their tales and many of the tales that appear in the final edition of 1857 are almost nothing like the versions of the tales that were in the first edition of the collection in 1812/1815 (or even the 1810 manuscripts).

It is in my opinion that the Grimms clearly left the marks of their personality all over the tales and that they were clearly aware of what they were doing. They were transforming the tales according to pedagogical standards and were also eliminating what they deemed to be sexual and incestuous material.

So, if this conversation has been about Objective art in the form of Grimms' tales, I'd probably have to argue against that.


Edited by: Yellow McMaggie at: 8/18/02 1:26:50 pm
Registered User
(8/18/02 2:57:10 pm)

Re: rationale

Dear Midori,

you have raised several good questions.

Midori wrote:
So far what I have read is the application of one system of thought to explicate the "hidden" meanings of a
second system of thought. What I think you need to do is explain the value, the reason why such an application is useful--why use the I Ching (a Chinese system of thought) to explicate the meanings of German (or any other culture's) fairy tale?

Excellent question. Why use the I Ching on a German fairy tale? The reason is very simple actually. I use it because it works, sometimes. The I Ching works in those instances where the narrative conforms to the specific requirements imposed by the I Ching itself. Such fairy tales are in the minority.

Perhaps our next question should be, Why is it that certain of the Grimms brothers tales are apparently encoded by means of the I Ching? There are two possibilities. Either each story was constructed in accordance with the I Ching or it wasn't. If it wasn't, then it is simply a matter of my reading these positional relationships into the text. But let us suppose the opposite to be true. Let us suppose that these relationships were woven into the tale by its creator(s).

Is that even possible?

Assuming the tales originated in Europe that would force us to consider the possibility that someone in Europe had detailed knowledge of the I-Ching prior to the publication of 'Kinder und Hausmarchen' in 1812 or perhaps, if we should take the brothers at their word, a great deal earlier.

'In 17th century China, Jesuit missionaries started a Figures movement
based on the mathematical "figures" of the I-Ching trigrams. They wrote
that all mathematics is rooted in the I-Ching permutations. They also
wrote that if this Chinese Classic were considered in its "genuine
purity" established by China's ancient, free from the many insertions of
more modern commentators who have turned it from the short "Changes"
into an extensive "Book of Changes", the result would be identical to
the law of nature. They even tried to convince Emperor Kang Hsi that the
Bible really was based on the same natural laws as those in the I Ching.
He didn't buy it. ... the Jesuits were eventually forbidden to continue
their mission to China in 1742, and then in 1773 were suppressed by Pope
Clement XIV, who decided that the Jesuits were much too interested in
integrating scientific and mystic thought.'
Walker, K. "Tao of Chaos" 1994, 147 pg.

Knowledge of the I-Ching was possessed by the Jesuits from the 17th century. It passed from them to the universities. The Grimm brothers were famous philologists. Jacob Grimm even formulated a law which is still in use today, Grimm's Law:

So the Grimms surely had access to the I Ching. Let us take the tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Perhaps they crafted the tale themselves. Perhaps they took an existing tale and altered certain elements to bring it into conformity with the I Ching. What is clear is that the version that first made it into print had all the required attributes enabling it to be decoded by means of the I Ching.

Midori wrote:
and what is more, how should such a methodology be applied?

The methodology is simple but it will only work on a tale that has been encoded by means of the I Ching.

The I-Ching contains eight elemental/natural features: earth, water, fire, wind/wood, mountain, thunder, heaven, and lake. If these features, or their derivatives, are described in terms of positional relationships to one another, for example, if you have fire on a mountain, thunder over lake, wind above water, or some such arrangement occurring conspicuously among the elements, then the tale MAY be encoded by means of the I Ching. The only way to know for sure is to identify the signifiers in the text and then to consult the I Ching to determine if the resulting hexagram has any bearing on the text. More likely than not, it won't.

Nonetheless it provides another tool for examining these texts, a new window through which to view the narrative. Even if it turns out that the text you examined was not constructed in accordance wit the I Ching, the very act of attempting to apply such a mapping demands that one approach the text from a decidedly different angle, an angle which may bring to light certain aspects of the text which were not discerned previously.

Midori wrote:
and to what end purpose?

To solve the riddle posed by the text.

Midori wrote:
My understanding of the I Ching is somewhat limited...but I felt it was more of a
divination system--to recognize in the energy flow, the future possibilities.

That is one of its uses. It can also be used as a form of shorthand or even code to convey concise descriptions of conditions and relationships. Water beneath a mountain conveys both message and commentary. The tarot is also used for divination, but that does not prevent authors from incorporating the tarot's symbolism into their work in order to provide a hidden layer of significance within the text.


Registered User
(8/18/02 3:50:49 pm)

Re: "objective art"
Objective art is art consciously crafted so as to covey a very specific message to those capable of decoding it. The elements of the tale are determined by the information one plans to encode. One does not construct the narrative according to a creative impulse, but rather in such a manner so as to place the signifiers in the proper relationship to one another.

Not every fairy tale the Grimms collected and edited is necessarily a work of objective art. Only the handful that have been successfully decoded can be identified as such.


Unregistered User
(8/18/02 10:45:24 pm)
Me, too
G--I, too, had given up on these discussions because of the very points that Midori and Heidi have raised.

Now you bring in history on a slant and that makes me interested anew in these discussions.

Do you have proof--besides the fact that some Jesuits knew the I Ching--that the Grimms used it? Now THAT would be interesting. There has been much written lately about the methodology used by the Grimms (see Zipes et al) and I don't recall mention of the I Ching. And given their strong desire to Germanize everything, I wonder if they would have considered any such "foreign" influence.


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