Monday, March 17, 2008

Intelligence and Madness

" A powerful wizard, who wanted to destroy an entire kingdom, placed a magic potion in the well from which all the inhabitants drank. Whoever drank that water would go mad.

The following morning, the whole population drank from the well and they all went mad, apart from the king and his family, who had a well set aside for them alone, and which the magician had not managed to poison. The king was worried and tried to control the population by issuing a series of edicts governing security and public health. The policemen and the inspectors, however, had also drunk the poisoned water and they thought the king's decisions were absurd and resolved to take no notice of them.

When the inhabitants of the kingdom heard these decrees, they became convinced that the king had gone mad and was now giving nonsensical orders. They marched on the castle and called for his abdication.

In despair, the king prepared to step down from his throne, but the queen stopped him, saying: "Let us go and drink from the communal well. Then, we will be the same as them."

And that was what they did: the king and the queen drank the water of madness and immediately began talking nonsense. Their subjects repented at once; now that the king was displaying such wisdom, why not allow him to continue ruling the country.

The country continued to live in peace, although its inhabitants behaved very differently from those of its neighbors. And the king was able to govern until the end of his days. "

-- excerpt from 'Veronika Decides To Die' by Paulo Coelho. --

It is a rather thin line that separates intelligence from insanity and also from vanity. In the king's kingdom, everyone was mad. However, everyone thought the king was mad. Its tough to tell who is correct and who is not if we do not know what is correct. Even if you somehow get to know that something is correct, how do you determine its accuracy? While intelligence is accepted knowledge, insanity most of time is the forerunner of evolution.

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