I love doing research on donkeys. Donkeys are so rich in symbolism for eg: In the fables of Aesop where donkeys are generally portrayed as stupid and stubborn, to Christianity where the donkey is a symbol of service, suffering, peace and humility. Shakespeare popularized the word Ass, and in Pinocchio there was a section where the coachman and his henchmen turned boys into donkeys. In the great myth Midas was given the ears of a donkey.
But today I would like to share the proposed dilemma by the Philosopher Jean Buridan (1300-1358) in which a hypothetical donkey suffering from hunger and thirst finds itself halfway between a bucket of fresh water and enjoyable bales of hay. This makes the donkey perplexed, as it does not know whether to quench its thirst or appease its hunger later or vice versa. Its indecisiveness leads to its perish. This allegory could be taken as the cost of human inaction or as the total lack of free will versus determination in human life.” (A Merrifield (2018. The wisdom of Donkeys. Finding tranquillity in a chaotic world.)
I feel that the above dilemma is perfect for the times we live in.
But what does having donkey ears mean? It means an exceptionally long period of time – the phrase likely originated as rhyming slang ears vs years. But having big ears can also mean to be nosy and to listen to other people’s private conversations.
Also did you know that if a donkey does not feel like you’ve alleviated their discomfort, they may escalate their body language to include rapidly swiveling ears which is usually a sign of high anxiety or alertness.
With that said, this work is currently on view at The Gallery Grande Provence for the “True Fall” group exhibition. I thought it might be fitting since donkeys have that ‘true fall palette” but it also reminded me of the Fall of man (the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to a state of guilty disobedience.