Marc's Reflection on Aikido & True Play

Camel, Lion, and Child

June 4th, 2011 · No Comments

Per Bob Duhnam:

Nietzsche, an important philosopher of the continental and existential traditions, saw power as the capacity for creation, which often requires the capacity for destruction as well. In order to be someone who can tolerate and produce both creation and destruction, he said we have to overcome “the spirit of heaviness” that binds us to existing ways of being, that keep us unwilling to alter ourselves and leap into possibilities.

He portrays power with three images. Heaviness is portrayed by two images of power, the image of the beast of burden illustrated by the camel, and the image of the beast of prey illustrated by the lion. The camel is characterized by its resistance, its ability to carry others on its back, and its capacity to absorb adversity. We all need the power of the camel at certain times. The lion represents one who rebels, who asserts its own power in the face of others, and who declares the inviolability of its territory. We must also be lions at certain times.

The third image is the image of the child, who illustrates the power of the innocence of play, of the absence of heaviness. The child who builds castles in the sand, sees them destroyed by the waves, and then builds them again. To Neitzsche the power of the child, the power of play, is the superior form of power.
(This discussion is based on one in the book “The Ontology of Language” by Rafael Echeverria, available only in Spanish.)