Election Commentary from Cervantes - NeilBennettPhoto
One might wonder how such a misdirected group as The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza and his horse Rocinante has any connection with elections in the modern day world, but the connection is there. Elections are a common occurrence, or affliction, in our world and to make the Pablo Picasso's Don Quixoteconnection to Don Quixote I will refer you to Part 2, Chapter 25 of Don Quixote for a four hundred year old commentary on elections that still rings true.

It seems that in his travels, Don Quixote arrives in a village and has a story related to him regarding a town councilor who has lost an animal in the forest. After the passage of some time, another councilor in the village offers to help in finding the lost animal. They go forth to try to find the animal and they believe that by making a sound like the animal they will be able to attract it.

The lost animal in question is a donkey.

They go separately into the forest and are so convincing in their donkey imitations that the only thing they are successful in attracting is each other. They are, of course, quite effusive in their praise of each others abilities to sound like a donkey. A portion of the chapter follows:

“Can it be possible, neighbor, that it wasn’t my jackass that brayed?”

“It was none other than me”, his friend replied.

“I do declare,“ said the jackass owner, “that between you and a donkey, neighbor, there’s no difference at all, as far as braying’s concerned, because I’ve never in my life heard anything more convincing.”

“No neighbor,” replied the planner, “you deserve all those praises and compliments much more than I do. By the God who made me, you could give a two brays start to the best and most expert brayer in the world: the sound you produce is properly high-pitched, and you sustain the phrase with the correct tempo and rhythm, and the cadenza is fast and beautifully ornamented, and, all in all, I admit defeat, salute you and hand you the palm for this extraordinary achievement.”

“And all I can say,” the other replied, “is that there are rare skills lost in this world, wasted on people who don’t know how to make use of them.”

“Our skill,” the owner said, “can only ever be of any use in cases like this one we’re dealing with at the moment, and even so it’s going to need God’s helping hand for it to produce results.”

Sadly for these councilors they find the donkey dead in the forest, half eaten by wolves. Cervantes makes no explicit connection between these politicians of four hundred years ago and their abilities to sound like donkeys or a jackass but I think parallels could easily be drawn to some of today’s politicians.


- Neil Bennett
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