Hide and seek with the world

Attack and retreat are ancient concepts in the lexicon of war and hunting. There must have been occasions that we needed to attack our human enemies or prey, and times of equal import when retreat was the preferred option.

It always seemed a little odd to me, but the military even has a bugle call for retreat. Isn’t that sort of like advertising your weakness? Conveying to others that you’re headed in the other direction?

Attack is not only a prettier bugle song, but is much more photogenic. For instance, there are many illustrations of Thor attacking, and few that show him retreating.

Most people are predisposed to consider attacking commendable. For example, compare the following illustration to the clip from Monty Python:

Thor's body language, together with the position of a large hammer, convey an aggressive posture, that might be an enemy's final conscious thought.

Thor’s body language, together with the position of a large hammer, convey an aggressive posture, that might be an enemy’s final conscious thought.

There will always be those who take a philosophical approach to life’s challenges, and are thus commonly considered wimps:

For he who fights and runs away
May live to fight another day;
But he who is in battle slain
Can never rise and fight again.
—Oliver Goldsmith (1730 – 1774)

Monty Python’s “Holy Grail,” of course, was an insanely loose adaption of the Parsival myth. Parsival spent much of the myth also being a wimp, but lucked out in the end and got the Fisher King’s daughter. Parsifal was not universally liked:

Parsifal is a work of perfidy, of vindictiveness, of a secret attempt to poison the presuppositions of life—a bad work. The preaching of chastity remains an incitement to anti-nature: I despise everyone who does not experience Parsifal as an attempted assassination of basic ethics.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

There are also plenty of examples of cowards in the popular culture, like Barney, the deputy in the “Andy Griffith Show”:

Barney often found courage accidentally, meaning that he was in the process of doing something cowardly and found out it was interpreted at brave.

Barney often found courage accidentally, meaning that he was in the process of doing something cowardly and found out it was interpreted as brave.

Even the alternative meaning of the word retreat is tricky. Here’s one kind of retreat—a monastery:

A monastery where bald men can retreat for many years at a time, but conversation is at a minimum. You can be attacked for speaking during a retreat at a monastery.

A monastery where bald men can retreat for many years at a time, but conversation is at a minimum. You can be attacked for speaking during a retreat at a monastery.

And here’s the more common kind of retreat: an Army headed away from the loud noises:

Who's got the friggin' bugle?!

Who’s got the friggin’ bugle?!

Finally, there is one kind of retreat that you actually should retreat from when possible, and that’s a retreat that’s over 130 degrees inside. It happened in Sedona:

To strengthen or to cook—that is the question. Three people died.

To strengthen or to cook—that is the question. Three people died.

I like the kind of hero who pretends he’s a wimp. There goes one now:

Attack or retreat? Which will hurt less?

Attack or retreat? Which will hurt less?

That’s my man. Fictional weaknesses and all.

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About Keith Croes

Nice to meet you. Thanks for dropping by.

Posted on May 12, 2014, in Animal rights, Animals, Criticism, Cultural observations, Fiction, Language, New age, Opinion, Pop culture, Reviews, Spirituality, Storytelling, Travel, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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First person reserved writing on various topics. Some photography, too.