A fragment on courage and stupidity which I like a lot. It’s all about freedom

The fragment below is about freedom. It’s taken from Michael, Brother of Jerry, by Jack London. It’s a very powerful text, which can be summed up as:

“Courage is knowing it might hurt and doing it anyway. Stupidity is the same. And that’s why life is hard.” – Jeremy Goldberg.

I like the text fragment a lot.

Attention! The text below is very aggressive!

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“During the three months spent by Michael in Mulcachy’s Animal Home, occurred two especially hard cases. Of course, the daily chant of ordinary pain of training went on all the time through the working hours, such as of “good” bears and lions and tigers that were made amenable under stress, and of elephants derricked and gaffed into making the head-stand or into the beating of a bass drum. But the two cases that were exceptional, put a mood of depression and fear into all the listening animals, such as humans might experience in an ante-room of hell, listening to the flailing and the flaying of their fellows who had preceded them into the torture-chamber.

[…]

The second case, that of St. Elias, was a harder one, and it was marked down against Mulcachy as one of his rare failures, though all admitted that it was an unavoidable failure. St. Elias was a huge monster of an Alaskan bear, who was good-natured and even facetious and humorous after the way of bears. But he had a will of his own that was correspondingly as stubborn as his bulk. He could be persuaded to do things, but he would not tolerate being compelled to do things. And in the trained-animal world, where turns must go off like clockwork, is little or no space for persuasion. An animal must do its turn, and do it promptly. Audiences will not brook the delay of waiting while a trainer tries to persuade a crusty or roguish beast to do what the audience has paid to see it do.

So St. Elias received his first lesson in compulsion. It was also his last lesson, and it never progressed so far as the training-arena, for it took place in his own cage.

Noosed in the customary way, his four legs dragged through the bars, and his head, by means of a “choke” collar, drawn against the bars, he was first of all manicured. Each one of his great claws was cut off flush with his flesh. The men outside did this. Then Mulcachy, on the inside, punched his nose. Not lightly as it sounds was this operation. The punch was a perforation. Thrusting the instrument into the huge bear’s nostril, Mulcachy cut a clean round chunk of living meat out of one side of it. Mulcachy knew the bear business. At all times, to make an untrained bear obey, one must be fast to some sensitive portion of the bear. The ears, the nose, and the eyes are the accessible sensitive parts, and, the eyes being out of the question, remain the nose and the ears as the parts to which to make fast.

Through the perforation Mulcachy immediately clamped a metal ring. To the ring he fastened a long “lunge”-rope, which was well named. Any unruly lunge, at any time during all the subsequent life of St. Elias, could thus be checked by the man who held the lunge-rope. His destiny was patent and ordained. For ever, as long as he lived and breathed, would he be a prisoner and slave to the rope in the ring in his nostril.

The nooses were slipped, and St. Elias was at liberty, within the confines of his cage, to get acquainted with the ring in his nose. With his powerful forepaws, standing erect and roaring, he proceeded to get acquainted with the ring. It certainly was not a thing persuasible. It was living fire. And he tore at it with his paws as he would have torn at the stings of bees when raiding a honey-tree. He tore the thing out, ripping the ring clear through the flesh and transforming the round perforation into a ragged chasm of pain.

Mulcachy cursed. “Here’s where hell coughs,” he said. The nooses were introduced again. Again St. Elias, helpless on his side against and partly through the bars, had his nose punched. This time it was the other nostril. And hell coughed. As before, the moment he was released, he tore the ring out through his flesh.

Mulcachy was disgusted. “Listen to reason, won’t you?” he objurgated, as, this time, the reason he referred to was the introduction of the ring clear through both nostrils, higher up, and through the central dividing wall of cartilage. But St. Elias was unreasonable. Unlike Ben Bolt, there was nothing inside of him weak enough, or nervous enough, or high-strung enough, to break. The moment he was free he ripped the ring away with half of his nose along with it. Mulcachy punched St. Elias’s right ear. St. Elias tore his right ear to shreds. Mulcachy punched his left ear. He tore his left ear to shreds. And Mulcachy gave in. He had to. As he said plaintively:

“We’re beaten. There ain’t nothing left to make fast to.”

Later, when St. Elias was condemned to be a “cage-animal” all his days, Mulcachy was wont to grumble:

“He was the most unreasonable animal! Couldn’t do a thing with him. Couldn’t ever get anything to make fast to.””

Valerie – Why do Mondays come so quickly?, https://flic.kr/p/bRTVpB

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