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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9 (April 1, 1931)

Parables In Paradox

page 52

Parables In Paradox

Eggs and Ego.

Art is Man's method of expressing Man's idea of what he isn't. No man can ever be what he thinks he is, because he could never think he was what he thinks he is if he were what he thinks he is. He is yoked to his ego. There are various kinds of ego as there are eggs. The most virulent variety is the breakfast ego; it asserts itself at a time when its victims are suffering a mental and moral metamorphosis from mattress to materialism. Next in order of odium is the new-laid ego which, although as free from pin-feathers as a moth ball, and devoid of other manifestations of mental maturity, crows in crepus-culous cramp in imitation of a full-fledged fowl; this form of ego is chicken-fever at its worst. The hard-boiled ego is so tough that it turns the edge of its own senses and survives by sheer force of numbness. Among other such products of sigh-chology are the shop ego, the addled ego, the cracked ego, the fried ego (the fried ego and the stewed ego constitute a double-yolker), the scrambled ego, and the half-backed custard or embryo ego.

Most egos are an exaggeration of the truth, and if every man told every other man what he thought of himself there would be enough mutual disrespect in the world to create a brotherhood of love. Some men put all their ego into one basket, while others go broody and sit on it.

Ego and Echo.

Man's ego has hypnotised him into the belief that he has got the nips on Nature and the “scissors” on Science. Science, however, is an invisible elephant in a phantom zoo, or a mass of matter that Man doesn't know he doesn't know until he knows that he doesn't know; Nature made Man, after all, although some claim to be self-made, in defiance of Nature's laws, so that it is not fair to blame Nature for them.

Still, if Man has the will to believe that he is greater than he is, he might in time become nearly as great as he isn't—which is about twice as great as he is ever likely to be. Nevertheless, he considers that he is never the less, and moreover, he probably is more over than under.

But it is unfair to beat up Man's ego, for it is his chief means of self-defiance; without ego he is a mere echo. In fact, he echos his own echo with such ecstasy that his noise annoys him. Compared with a chameleon Man is a marvel—but he can't catch flies with his tongue, although he can change colour almost at will. He can go to the dogs, but he can't scratch his ribs with his foot. He gets hoarse with nagging, but he can't gallop fore and aft simultaneously. He gets the hump, but he can't live without water unless he books his beer or owns an uncle in a brewery. In fact the animal kingdom has got it on him in more neighs than one. For instance:—

The armour-plated crocodile,
Who warms his warts beside the Nile,
Although deficient in the pan,
In many matters loses Man;
For though he's slightly brusque in style,
He's just an honest crocodile.
The mobile-muscled chimpanzee,
Who pays no rent or other fee,
Is undisposed to groan and grump,

page 53
“No man is what he thinks he is.”

“No man is what he thinks he is.”

Because he knows a chimp's a chump,
Although the gnu is somewhat old,
And lives in regions bleak and cold,
He never pines for deeds to do,
He's quite content to be a gnu.
The pig wastes little time in tears,
And doesn't wash behind the ears,
He doesn't waste his time in talk,
Or fret about the price of pork.
The tough but simple-souled baboon,
Who eats his soup without a spoon,
And picks his teeth with trunks of trees,
Compared with Man is steeped in ease.
The walrus and the pelican,
Who each gives proof how well he can
Subsist on fish—it's all they eat—
For happiness are hard to beat.
The kangaroo and Irish reel,
The green elastic-sided eel,
The worm, the wasp, the tittlebat,
The flying-fish and pink-eyed sprat,
The coot, the cow, the sandy blight,
The zither and theodolite,
The barnacle and bandicoot,
The whiskered wop and green cheroot,
The bathroom plug and saveloy,
The soulful sax and breeches-buoy,
The billycan and billy-goat,
The fly, the flea, the ten-bob-note,
In fact, although they never boast,
They've each and all got man on toast,
For every feathered fowl or beast,
Is happy in the fact at least,
That even if it's short on wit,
Its Ego doesn't worry it,
For Nature has a better cloak
For camouflaging forest folk,
And unlike Man they haven't got
To pose as something that they're not.

Dotting the “i.”

Some say that Man's success in the grate scheme is merely the echo of his ego, or that he has talked himself into a situation that he can't talk himself out of. True it is that early in his careering he spoke only when he wanted to say something; but now he often finds it necessary to keep on speaking to hide the fact that he has nothing to say. This sort of success is excess, undue inflation of the ego, or over-capitalisation of the “I.” A genuine capital “I” needs no dotting. Success, generously speaking, is an enviable condition always enjoyed by someone else. The only genuinely successful successes are those who know that they're not. Success is like silver in that as soon as it's uttered it's outed. After all, Success, like poor relations and rich uncles, is only relative; as soon as a success knows that he is a success he is not what he knows he is; but many a failure has failed with more success than the successes who have suceeded. Most successes say very little about themselves for fear of giving themselves away, and thus caution is often mistaken for modesty. But let's palpitate profundity.

We are but little children frail,
Subservient to cash or “kale,”
And dropping pennies in the slot,
For something that we haven't got.
We are but animated nuts, Propelled in regulated ruts,
Pursuing rainbows with a spade,
To disinter the gold they've laid.
We are but adumbrated “ads,”
Proclaiming filimentous fads,
And trying vainly to express,
The meaning of the word “success.”

“The pig doesn't worry about the price of pork.”

“The pig doesn't worry about the price of pork.”

page 54

We are but simple souls who dote,
In laying odds against the “tote,”
And backing Quidlet even if
We know the cheat is running “stiff,”
Forgetting while the guessers guess,
To put our shirts on Happiness.

Emotion in Motion.

Speaking of Happiness reminds us that Life is a rolling-pin, and that a rolling-pin gathers no rust; neither does rolling stock gather moss; the happy rollers who roll in the rolling-stock need no moth-balls in the mind, for the railway train is emotion in motion, transports transported, railed reflection, hope conferred, and inspiration by dispensation of condensation. In fact a land without railways is as inconceivable as an oxidized ox, an underground aeroplane, a sunburned whale, a pint of perforations, or a vest-pocket watermelon. The railway is the long arm of Progress, reaching out across the land and giving encouragement, hope, cheer, and life itself, to the people who strive in the land beyond the back of beyond. It lessens the burden of care which rests on the shoulders of the toiler, transports the fruits of his striving to the market place, and brings him in exchange the things which make life supportable. But the railway is more than the servant of Man—it is his friend. Sometimes, merely to see a friend brings inspiration and renews courage and hope. The long glistening rails which sweep away into the heart of the distance like a silver arrow, are the link which joins man to man. Merely to see the rails induces in the heart a feeling
A Cleaner on the. Railway

A Cleaner on the. Railway

of companionship, and dispels the grey mists of loneliness. The rail is there, running smooth, stable and sturdy, an inspiration and an encouragement. And the racing train is a symphony in steam as it speeds like a flying black colossus—power, precision and speed combined with grace. It is friendly and kindly, like most big characters. Men at the road-side follow its progress with friendly emotion as it speeds into the eye of the sun; women stand at their doors and wave the hand of happy recognition; children perch on gates and fences crying in shrill gladness as the benign monster glides past. The train brings a lump into the throat, an extra heart-beat, a feeling that romance is not dead, and an emotion of deep affection. The old “Iron Horse” is still the favourite in the Race of Progress.

High-Class Publications

Among the many types of publication issued by railway companies we have seldom seen so fine a range as that recently to hand from the Chicago-Mil-waukee-St. Paul and Pacific Railway. This Company has certainly set an extremely high standard in the production of some of these publications, notable among which is a full coloured art-work descriptive brochure of the Yellowstone Park. Supplementing this is a range of folders which contain practical information and illustrations for the encouragement of travel.