“Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers. This is repeated over and over again; finally it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony.” – Franz Kafka
This quote has been bouncing around my head ever since the Tiger Woods scandal reached its thundering crescendo a few weeks back. At first, though, I wasn’t sure why this mini-parable — coming as it does from such a different age — so resonated with the way I was beginning to understand the flashpoint event that sealed the demise of a longtime American hero.
Let’s start with the general. Kafka’s parable seems to offer commentary on the way Men deal with Dissent and Difference. We’re groping at two key truths about humans, here: one, that we are inclined to favor the predictable, the orderly. Two, that we place our bets, consistently, on unstable entities.
And, Kafka suggests, this fundamental paradox leads us to act in some rather odd ways, to create all sorts of bizarre archetypes.