Saturday, April 28, 2012

A - Z: Yertle the Turtle

Yertle the Turtle was one of my favorite Dr.Seuss stories when I was a kid.

I had many Dr. Seuss books and I liked them all.
I like his art style, his strange and funky creations, and the messages of the stories are good.

Dr.Seuss wrote Yertle the Turtle in 1958, and didn't try to hide the fact that Yertle was based on Hitler.
On the face of it, Yertle is a ruler of a small pond of turtles, who sits on a rock and gets it into his head that what defines his realm and power is the range of his vision. So he stands on a turtle, then another, and so on until they're all stacked as high as they can go. And of course you know what happens next.

The message is a good one to realize early in life: the pursuit of power for the sake of power is idiotic, and to achieve it by abusing others is not only cruel, but doomed to failure.

I'll call this the Yertle-drive.

The story works well as a metaphor for Hitler, but also for so many other rulers, whether political or in various other realms: business, economics, or even just social circles.  It strikes me that this could easily model the Soviet Union, Napoleonic France, The British Empire, The Roman Empire, American Imperialism, Microsoft, J.D.Rockefeller, Walmart, The Mafia, Rupert Murdoch... list could go on.

I've mentioned before that I'm not very competitive.  I'm also not very ambitious in that 'Boss Coffee' sort of way. So I have to admit I really don't understand this drive, and maybe it colors my judgement of it. The pursuit of power for the sake of power strikes me as insane.  I do mean that clinically: not of sane mind.
I think something is broken in some people, I really do.
An attribute that has a function, but is broken and can't be shut off.
It makes me think of that I Love Lucy episode, where the conveyor belt keeps going faster and faster.
It is supposed to work, but something is wrong and it's going to be a disaster.

Why are some people broken in this way?

I guess for Napoleon, England wouldn't let him be, so he had to keep going back to war, but to invade Russia like that? Madness.  And after being deposed he came back for another go. Something is off.

The Roman Empire did the same thing, just more successfully.  Why weren't they content to stay in Italy? There wasn't a good reason to attack Carthage, but they did and it almost broke them.. then Greece, Gaul, many times to butt their head against Parthia... for what? is the accumulation of power so intoxicating?
And internally, to take more and more land away from the self-sufficient farmer just so the rich patrician class could get ever more wealthy, for what? Just for status? Just to have more for the sake of more?
Even when it corrodes their country, impoverishes their citizens and establishes the most egregious slave state there ever was?

In the late 1800's in the US the rich were getting richer and the poor poorer at a rate never before seen in the country but it still left these robber barons unsatisfied: they wanted more.  Even at the cost of horrendous child labor, industrial accidents, environmental poisoning and abject poverty for the working class.
When people tried to resist and organize against it they were beaten, killed and arrested.

And this is the 'free enterprise' and deregulation model many now support going back to, and for the same reasons as they did then: the lust for power and prestige.

Look at Rupert Murdoch.  He doesn't just look like Yertle, he is a lot like Yertle.
I have to wonder... don't people ever get to a point where they are so old and have so much money that they feel it's time to coast in peace toward death? This man is really fracking old!  And he's even more rich, but he keeps going, destroying lives as he trail-blazes ahead toward... more of the same? For what?
This is INSANE.

A special kind of insane.  It has got to be a form of sociopathy.
A sociopath is a person that is incapable of empathy, can not understand a definition of right or wrong outside of "what I want or don't want." Sociopath seems to fit the bill for the Yertle-drive.

It's estimated that about 4% of the population are sociopaths, but I've heard estimates that in positions of power in business and government that goes up to 20 to 25%. I'd guess that's a conservative estimate.

Maybe if our society focused more on goals that benefited people and society in general instead of unquestioning pursuit of 'winning' as defined by being the wealthiest and most powerful we wouldn't suffer from this so much.

Of course, there is a bright side to this...
In the story of Yertle the Turtle, the power rests on those abused, like Mack, at the bottom, and all it took was a burp to bring it all down.

It might be considered rude, but don't be afraid to burp if you need to.

Yertle the Turtle: Enjoy!

This has been an A-Z Challenge post. 
For the month of April there will be an update for each letter within the theme of: Things that influence and inspire me, or the converse: things which I find distressing or make me want to rail at the world.
Some of these will pertain to the miniatures hobby, but many will venture off to atypical territory for the duration of the challenge, then it will be back to normal with mostly minis and an occasional blithering.
You can find out more about the A-Z challenge my clicking the logo at the top left of the page. 


Anne said...

Ferret only you would catch the striking similarity between Yertle the Turtle and Murdoch! I don't understand the drive for power either and maybe you're right, maybe it is some as yet unclassified form of insanity. Sociopath may be pretty close given the lack of humanity inherent in these people.

It's too early for me to think heavy thoughts, but not too early to play with my yo-yo in my yard while I yell yackity-yack don't talk back. (That's 5 Y's for you today).

Good luck with Z!!!

S. L. Hennessy said...

I think it's a syndrome. Some people just always need MORE. It's really really sad.

But I love that Dr. Seuss teaches us these things. He's a wise wise man.

Anne said...

I'm taking a break from finishing up my current figure and just crawled through your studio. Absolutely amazing. "Here Comes The Circus" and those crocs or gators (?) were my favorite.

Do you use and airbrush along with brush work?

Laughing Ferret said...

Anne: thanks, those are some of my favorites too. The gators probably are my favorite team I've done, I'm a big fan of the swampy creatures- really enjoy painting that style. I do use an airbrush sometimes. I used an airbrush for a most of the work on the vehicles for the Frau Totenkinder army, and if you find the 'Draniki': Lizardmen of Venus, I did most of that work with an airbrush too. I tend to only use it for doing several vehicles at once, or for some large batches of minis- like the Lizardmen, I started painting a group of about 50, so it was a good way to lay down the base color, and the first three green tones, even the 'stripe pattern'. But it's not worth the trouble for me if not doing a lot of minis- the gators for instance, similar idea as the lizardmen but when doing just 16 or so at a time, easier to just use a paintbrush.

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