Money and Society

May 25, 2008

Warning from “The Little Prince”, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery


Tatsuji Nozaki          


Again Financial Crises

Financial Crises, suddenly emerged from a “market”, and threaten our society periodically. This time, it’s called “sub-prime loan” crises originated from US, and rapidly spreading into all over the world. A history of Capitalism is a history of Financial Crises: a famous panic in 1929, Black Monday, Mexican crises, Argentina, Russian, Asian and Japanese bubble burst in 1990th.


We’ve learned lessons from the history anyhow; the technology how to deal with Financial Crises. But we still don’t know how to stop the Financial Crises themselves to happen. Judging from the inevitable events, there might be a critical reason within Capitalism itself, which causes periodical Financial Crises. The root of the crises must be deeply connected with fundamental structure of our society.


Conclusion first, I assume that Financial Crises inevitably comes from “numbers”, a language of Capitalism. We introduced “numbers” as a pricing tool into our modern “Market Economy”. All the goods and services have a “price” in the market. Everything is connected with numbers, so as to make a common exchangeable measurement. As the result, transactions became simplified, and market expanded nationwide.


Problem is that numbers are controlled by “mathematics”, which belongs to a strictly inflexible, inorganic world. 1+1=2 is the only answer in mathematics. It cannot be 1.9 or 2.1, in any circumstances or in any conditions. Mathematics is a universal truth, which can be applied to all over the world, even into a universe. Prices, written by numbers, are also under the control of mathematics, destined to pursue along the narrow logic passage.


On the other hand, market activities are vital to human livings. It’s closely related to spiritual activities. Say, you travel around South-east Asia, Latin America, or Africa, and pay a visit to market places, you can find out the original type of transactions. Never-ending negotiations between sellers and buyers; it’s not logic but bluff and emotional patience that finally make a deal. Market is the very thing of human activities.


Now, you can easily find out a fundamental contradiction in this system. “Prices” are written by mathematical numbers, but it is decided as the result of very human activities. “Prices” in a market are usually determined by, not numerical logics but very human spiritual activities: value, demand, imagination, desire, terror and pray. We cannot prove the market pricing procedures mathematically.


Business transactions, written by numbers and tracking along logic chains, are suddenly exposed emotions in a market, and make a discontinuous “GAP”. Positive gaps are welcomed, called “profit”, and negative gaps are “loss”. Extraordinarily massive of negative gaps are called “Financial Crises”, which periodically visit our society.


So, the Financial Crises are not only an economic phenomenon but also a kind of philosophical problem. We cannot solve the problem by means of economics, financial engineering, or any kind of scientific technology. But it is necessary for us to understand a rich spiritual heritage of human beings, by going back to Socrates, Aristotle, Buddha and Confucius.


“Why are you drinking?” the little prince asked.

“To forget,” replied the drunkard.

“To forget what?” inquired the little prince, who was already feeling sorry for him.

“To forget that I’m ashamed,” confessed the drunkard, hanging his head.

“What are you ashamed of?” inquired the little prince, who wanted to help.

“Of drinking!” concluded the drunkard, withdrawing into silence for good. And the little prince went on his way, puzzled.

“Grown-ups are certainly very, very strange,” he said to himself as he continued on his journey. (35-36)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


We cannot laugh at a logical contradiction of the drunkard, who is ashamed of his drinking habit, and continue drinking to forget it. Saint-Exupery pointed out how deeply people are trapped in their way of thinking (dogma) when they think something. And they themselves are, in the midst of the trap, never aware of it.


A judge turn down the appeal from asthma patients caused by air pollution, declaring there is not enough scientific authority. A proposal of restricting carbon dioxide discharge to prevent global warming was rejected by a super power, due to insufficient scientific causations.


But both air pollution and carbon dioxide discharge problems are caused by the result of scientific development. A problem caused by science is, as to stop drunkard to drinking, should be solved above science. Same can be applied to Financial Crises. Which were caused by numbers, should be solved above numerical thinking or scientific methodology.


Balance Sheet System

During the end of medieval to Renaissance times, West Europeans began aware to visualize things by reducing into numerical units. For example, “time” was once thought to be continuously flowing phenomenon. Then clocks, at that time, were the types of measuring continuously flowing sands or waters. But people made a new definition that time can be divided into homogeneous seconds. Consequently, they invented mechanical clocks, which tick off the time by the movement of mechanical gears.


Equally, music was thought to be continuous flow of sounds. But in late medieval times, people made a new definition that a line of music can be divided into homogeneous points of sounds. Consequently, music was possible to visualize on a score, which is a precise numerical graph. A spindle represents fluctuations of sounds, and a cross axis means the length of sounds.


Music was visualized on a paper, and time had stopped. Not faded away with the time, whole shapes of music were standing still. Consequently, it made possible to make replacement of before and after, melody and rhythm could be divided and reunified once again, and multiple sounds were harmonized. Visualization on a paper made it possible to compose more complicated music. Music had changed, from listening to reading, from ears to eyes. That’s why Beethoven, after completely lost sounds, can continue his composing works. 


Once, money was thought to be continuously flowing phenomenon. Nobody remembered flown away money streams precisely. But West Europeans, at late medieval times, invented Double Entry System, and the money streams could be visualized on a paper. Time stopped on a paper, and money streams became possible to analyze at later times without in a hurry. It became possible to investigate the reasons of profit or loss, and could improve capital efficiency by checking differences and ratios. Now, business has changed into more positive, controllable and efficient operations.


Balance Sheet is the most popular reporting system, generated from the Double Entry System. Left side of Balance Sheet is called “Debit”, and right side “Credit”. The total amount of Debit side and Credit side are always the same, which is the reason of the name. Rather, you might easily understand by the definition that, a single transaction should be divided into two different points of view, like algebra.


Debit side of Balance sheet represents concrete world of business, and Credit side belongs to abstract numerical world. Liabilities belong to Credit account. For example, if you borrow one million dollars, with 10 years’ term from the bank, you can calculate repayment plan, exactly on schedule per cents.


Even if bubble burst or economy is in deflation, this repayment schedule never changes. Liabilities are inflexible inhabitants of numerical world. Numbers never decay or change shapes as time goes on. Numbers are living in a universal world, above time and space exceeding.


On the other hand, Assets in Debit side represents actual business world. Prices in a market are fluctuating every day. Goods priced 100 dollars yesterday, 120 today, or might be dropped to 80 tomorrow. Sometimes gain or some time loss. Rotten or old-fashioned to worthless, as times go on.


Actual business world of Debit side is consumers’ world, governed by intuition and emotion, and irrational and unforeseen human world. Credit side is strictly ruled by mathematics, where 1+1=2 is the only answer. Whereas Debit side of human world, sometimes 1+1 remains 1 as it is, or suddenly jumped to 4.


In Balance Sheet system, the difference between Debit and Credit, which is “human world” versus “numerical world”, is called profit or loss, and disclosed in Credit side to adjust balances. If a product, purchased at 100 dollars, can be sold at 120 dollars, we book 20 dollars of profit in Credit side. But when sold out at 80 dollars, makes 20 dollars of loss. 


Intimidation of Market Economy

The fourth planet belonged to a businessman. The person was so busy that he didn’t even raise his head when the little prince arrived.

“Hello,” said the little prince. “Your cigarette’s gone out.”

“Three and two make five. Five and seven, twelve. Twelve and three, fifteen. Hello. Fifteen and seven, twenty-two. Twenty-two and six, twenty-eight. No time to light it again. Twenty-six and five, thirty-one. Whew! That amounts to five-hundred-and-one million, six-hundred-twenty-two thousand, seven hundred thirty-one.”

“Five-hundred million what?”

“Hmm? You’re still there? Five-hundred-and million … I don’t remember … I have so much work to do! I’m a serious man. I can’t be bothered with trifles! Two and five, seven …”  (36)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


In an agricultural society, people are growing their own cultivation by themselves. There were no synergy effects in these societies, even if millions of people were living together on earth. On the other hand, in industrial societies, people concentrate on their professions, and get “money” from their jobs.


They no longer cultivate their own foods; rather get everything through the market networks with money. “Production” and “consumption” are divided, and market comes to a central function in our industrial society.


In our highly civilized society, we can get everything through market. It is “money” that controls market economy of capitalism. So, the rule of market economy is quite simple, shown as following unequal formula.

Money In > Money Out


Without money, you cannot get anything from the market. This means you need to provide something into market to get money, within which limit, the volumes you can get from the market are restricted. Consequently, becomes:

Money In > Money Out


It is not difficult to make a living within a limited income of monthly salary, but in case of business, usually things happen in opposite orders. First purchase goods, and finish payment, staying a couple of months’ stocks at a warehouse, shipped and finally receive cash after several months later.


If all the goods purchased could be sold out, as planned, it’s OK. But if you have any stocks, and continue remaining unsold, there is a possibility that the formula would direct to an opposite side:

Money In < Money Out


If you lose, you cannot survive in a market any more. You are required in Capitalism, to grow money, which is the only universal rule of a market economy. Same formula can be applied to Balance Sheet, a recording system of money flow, as follows:

Human World > Numerical World   or

Human World = Numerical World + Profit


This unequal formula shows that money, from its characteristics, needs to continue increasing forever. Growth, growth, growth… became the password and intimidation to the Moderns. People were followed by numbers, and calculation became one of the most important jobs. “I have so much work to do! I’m a serious man. I can’t be bothered with trifles!” and even “didn’t No time to light cigarette’s again”.


“You confuse everything … You’ve got it all mixed up!” He was really very annoyed. He tossed his golden curls in the wind. “I know a planet inhabited by a red-faced gentleman. He’s never smelled a flower. He’s never looked at a star. He’s never loved anyone. He’s never done anything except add up numbers. And all day long he says over and over, just like you, ‘I’m a serious man! I’m a serious man!’ And that puffs him up with pride.”  (20)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


  “To live” means “to calculate numbers” in modern market economy. People are “all day long” working for numerical logics, and finally fallen into inorganic substances, i.e. “never smelled a flower” and “never looked at a star” and “never loved anyone” and “never done anything except add up numbers”.


Human World, Numerical World

Numbers are convenient tool. Our life has dramatically improved by introducing numbers for our economic language. But economic activities are vital to human life. Human beings are spiritual creatures. Problem is that we cannot measure human spirits by numerical logics.


Human mind is consisted from, utmost 30% of logics and 70% of emotions. Each individual has different sense of value. Try to explain all the economic activities with numerical logics, is substantially impossible. Each of them belongs to quite different world. So Balance Sheet can be defined, as the list of variances between Human World and Numerical World.


If you leave as it is, human economic activities will go on separating from numerical logics. If the difference turns to deficit side, eventually unequal formula directs to opposite side, a business will be bankrupt, and national economy paralyzed. Because the numbers, as a social language, has no meaning any more.


A society without language, no longer can be called society. Therefore, we are asked to control our daily economic activities, so as not far apart from the numeric logics. Introducing numbers as a social language was a superb achievement for our society, but also a fundamental tragedy for the Moderns.


As it happens, there were terrible seeds on the little prince’s planet … baobab seeds. The planet’s soil was infested with them. Now if you attend to a baobab too late, you can never get rid of it again. It overgrows the whole planet. Its roots pierce right through. And if the planet is too small, and if there are too many baobabs, they make it burst into pieces.  (15)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


To get together scattering people into a group, we need a system. A mechanical system has to be maintained in a good condition every day. We need a social “gardener”, who pull the weeds up and “get rid of terrible baobab seeds”. If you leave it alone, a planet of society was “infested with them” and “they make it burst into pieces”, with the roots “overgrows the whole planet”.


We usually don’t care about the social system. “Working in a good condition” is thought to be a natural phenomenon for us. But we realize, for the first time, the virtue of electricity when power stopped. We’re surprised at the tight schedule of running, when train’s delayed. As is the same, when Financial Crises happened, we’re aware of the existence of social software, called “money”.


“Baobab” will visit our society periodically, when people almost forgot about it. Japan, who achieved a miraculous economic development after the war, had suddenly stopped. The system working well, during 30 years, had suddenly changed to a “break” for the development. Because nobody care about creeping “baobab seeds”.


Silent Reading and Visualization

Western Europe is the home town of science. Early medieval Western Europe was backward in civilization, and called under-developed countries. Western Europeans at that time were thought to be rough and stupid barbarians. Civilized cultures were irregularly flown into from Greece and Rome.


Western European philosopher and theologian at that time were called Scholastic, whose main job was to put those chaotic thoughts in order, and explain to the public clearly. Unstitching complicated chaos of Hellenism and Hebraism, they made a clear thread of thoughts.


There is no effective way to improve themselves than trying to teach something clearly to others. Peter Drucker said that he want to learn all his life, and will go on teaching through life. A Scholastic, trying to explain Greek philosophy and Christian thought, brought unexpected progress to the Western Europe.


Until mid-medieval ages, Western Europeans couldn’t read books silently. To read books means to read aloud, like chanting sutra. Ancient people were struck with awe to see St. Augustine reading a book silently. In the same way, people wrote a letter by muttering.


It was a common practice that important matters were spoken in voice, and listened through ears. Books at that time, as same of medieval picture, could not admit value to vacuum space. So writers, without considering readers’ convenience, crammed letters with no space. After all, books were made illegible, required to read aloud.


For Europeans, Latin and Greek were foreign languages. Books, easy to read for Greek and Roman, were difficult for West Europeans. Putting punctuation and space and paragraph, they improved Latin books easy to read. Well-organized books were understandable on vision. Silent reading became possible, and reading speed and volume were increased.


As the result, to get knowledge through vision became popular. Great efforts to visualize everything on a paper were made. Even unseen affairs, such as human senses and motions and energies, were visualized by translating into numbers. Materials were reduced to homogeneous minimum units, and counted numbers. All the materials were thought to be the total of molecules, and time and music were the lines of points connected. 


Numerical Thinking

A tiny seed grown up to a huge oak tree. One step at a time makes a long way to go. Our highly developed civilization, looks very complicated, has started from a tiny oak seed, called “numbers”. Numerical thinking, born in medieval Western Europe, has grown up to modern Science and Physics, which is the foundation of our rich civilized society.


Numbers are mysterious thing. Medieval Europeans, fascinated by Pythagorean Theorem, golden ratio and Platonic bodies, were delighted to find that mathematics is the universal truth, and the way to arrive God. The history of modern Western Europe is the history of numerical thinking. People began aware of “numbers” as the new tool, and by using it, they measured space and time to redefine the world.


With objective measurement tool of “numbers” on their hands, Western Europeans have solved the riddle of mysterious universe. Even unseen affairs in the world, such as heat, weight, strength, and speed, were reduced into homogeneous units to be numerically countable. Reduced to numbers, unseen affairs can be visualized. Time stopped on a paper, and deliberate analysis becomes possible.


As the result, people could deepen the understandings for a law of nature. Universal phenomenon, thought to be controlled by God, turned into their controllable possession. Defining “time” as homogeneous and strait-lined object, a group of people can be synchronized working on standard time.


This positive attitude gradually develops Science and Technology, and made it possible for us to build huge bridges, highways, jumbo-jet, and even carry out human beings into space. Scientific methodology, started from the law of causation declared by Descartes, has remarkably developed into our rich material civilization.


If all these excuses are not enough, then I want to dedicate this book to the child whom this grown-up once was. All grown-ups were children first. (But few of them remember it.) So I correct my dedication:

To Leon Werth

When he was a little boy

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


Human beings and monkey, dolphin and turtle, fish and birds, are looks similar of their embryo shape. But gradually, according to their growth, birds are like birds, fish are like fish, human beings are like human beings, go developing to their branches. In short, all the creatures grown up to their own “grown-ups”, by up streaming the whole process of evolution, for one generation in a body.


If we consider the whole human history of hundreds of thousand and millions of years as a lifetime, “grown-ups” are the Moderns, standing at the top of evolution, and “children” means pre-industrialized self-sufficient peasants, or prehistoric ancients in hunting and gathering. Saint-Exupery pointed out that, during the evolution procedure, “grown-ups” have forgot that “all grown-ups were children first”, and lost something important.


Civilization on Visualization

The climax of “The Little Prince” is the following heart-felt speech by fox, isn’t it?


“Good-bye,” said the fox. “Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”   (63)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


Famous words of “anything essential is invisible to the eyes”, is the warning to the Moderns, suffering from mental illness. With simple words, he describes clearly the essence of modern civilization. Modern civilization is founded on a principle of visualization. Development of science and technologies were the result of continuous efforts of visualization; even “unseen affairs” can be visualized with numbers on a paper.


Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again. (2)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


 “Grown-ups” invented letters, and discovered the technology to visualize spoken words on a paper. As the results, people entrusted their “memories” to the letters. “Grown-ups”, who entrust their memories on letters, gradually lost their memories. People are going to believe that formal thing is the words written on a paper. Finally, “grown-ups never understand anything by themselves” without “providing explanations over and over again”.


Human beings, who invented letters and numbers, have discovered the technology to visualize “nature” on a paper. Even “unseen” gravity or motion or energy was visualized by means of numbers. Things were reduced to homogeneous minimum units, and counted the numbers. By visualization, time stopped on a paper, and “nature” was standing still forever.


“Nature”, standing still on a paper, can be observed deeply. Then, people discovered universal “rule” of the nature. This was the beginning of science. Human beings discovered the methodology how to cut off a part of God’s world, and enrich their daily life. Human beings became confident. Discovery of science also made a great impact to human spirits and the way of thinking.


“But why have you just lit your lamp again?”


“I don’t understand,” said the little prince.

“There is nothing to understand,” said the lamplighter. “Orders are orders. Good morning.” And he put out his lamp. (42)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


“Orders” are written on a paper, so as everybody to be thoroughly acknowledged. But just when visualized, words are kept standing still on a paper. “Orders” are, after all, “dead” information. Companies and government, so-called “organizations”, are trying to tide over the fluctuating social waves, by applying dead rules.


“It’s a terrible job I have. It used to be reasonable enough. I put the lamp out mornings and lit it after dark. I had the rest of the day for my own affairs, and the rest of the night for sleeping.”

“And since then orders have changed?”

“Orders haven’t changed,” the lamplighter said.

“That’s just the trouble! Year by year the planet is turning faster and faster, and orders hasn’t changed!”  (42)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


While conditions have changed, “year by year the planet is turning faster and faster” and “planet revolves once a minutes”, but “orders haven’t changed”, so lamplighter needs to “light my lamp and turn it out once every minutes”, finally “I don’t have an instant’s rest”. Unless intentionally abolished, organizational “orders”, will be grown up to baobab tree, which “make it burst into pieces”.


My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. Then I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so the grown-ups could understand. They always need explanations. (2)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


To see “a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant”, “grown-ups” say “that’s a hat”. “Grown-ups” are the people, who lost “imagination” of “the inside of the boa constrictor”. They see only “visible” outside of things. “Invisible” things cannot be understood, because “they always need explanation” by “words”.


Before civilization, people or “children” had an ability to see through “the inside of the boa constrictor”. After civilization, “grown-ups” entrust their way of understanding things, to “words” or “letters” or “numbers”. Consequently, they lost intuitive abilities presented from the God. Human beings, who invented tools, turn themselves into tools.


 “Scientific methodology” had made a great success. Consequently, “grown-ups” gradually and unconsciously, acquired “scientific” way of thinking or numerical dogma. People believed that “dead” nature on a paper, cut-off from the universe, should be a true nature. People lost the belief that human beings are a part of God’s nature, and living together in a body. “Grown-ups” of science admirer have lost the instinct to see through “the inside of the boa constrictor”.


People will fail in their strongest area. “Grown-ups”, who’re successful in “science”, lost their spiritual world. Fascinated with the “visible” “logic world” on a paper, they lost “invisible” spiritual world. As the result, they’ve fallen into a trap of “anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”


Abstraction and Loneliness

Human beings are social creature. God gave us “words” at first. People have developed society, by exchange information with words. The development of human beings is the development of a society, and also the development of linguistic ability. Modern society built-up like huge machinery is founded on abstract language.


Each individual apple has a different shapes and tastes. But a word of “apple” makes one single image of an apple. Hundreds of thousand and millions of individual apples changed to an abstract symbol of “an apple”.


As a communication tool, words must be universal. Each individual member of a society must have a same and common image from a single word. Words are abstract thing. To be universal will inevitably be abstract. Language, stripped off individuality, no smell no taste, is a symbol for a society.


The passage from concrete to abstract is open, but the passage from abstract to concrete is closed. Hundreds of thousand and millions of individual apples, covered with snow, turned into monotonous white field. But it is impossible to distinguish one single individual apple from snow capped white field.


And he confided further, “In those days, I didn’t understand anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life. I should never have run away! I ought to have realized the tenderness underlying her silly pretensions. Flowers are so contradictory! But I was too young to know how to love her.” (24-25)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


Ancient people, before discovering words and letters and numbers, realized the things by intuition or perception. And everything was done satisfactorily. But after discovering language, people find the way of replacing things into words. And after that, they forgot the fact to be replaced.


Gradually, “words” goes on walking by themselves. “Grown-ups” were delighted, anger, and suspicious by words themselves. People became to understand “real world” indirectly through words, instead of using insight like ancient people. Consequently, they forgot the meaning of even “how to love her”.


“Grown-ups”, by the twist of emotions, became “so contradictory” flirted by “words”. So as to understand “flowers” properly, “you should have judged her according to her actions, not her words”, and “you ought to have realized the tenderness underlying her silly pretensions”.


If I’ve told you these details about Asteroid B-612 and if I’ve given you its numbers, it is on account of the grown-ups. Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?” They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him. (10)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


After discovering figures, people find the way of replacing things into numbers. This is the discovery of “money”. Numerated products were easy to compare, transactions became simplified, and huge market emerged by removing regional walls. Present Capitalism society is founded on the language written by numbers.


After discovering the way of replacing things into numbers, they forgot the fact to be replaced. Soon after that “numbers” goes on walking by themselves. “Grown-ups” were delighted, anger, and suspicious by numbers themselves. People became to understand “real world” indirectly through numbers, instead of using insight like ancient people.


“Grown-ups” have become to understand things by means of figures. When you ask questions to the person, who cannot be replaced, the only creature in the world, you should ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?” But “grown-ups”, infected by numerical thinking, would ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?” and then “they think they know him”.


“Let’s be friends. I’m lonely,” he said.

“I’m lonely…I’m lonely … I’m lonely …,” the echo answered.

What a peculiar planet! He thought. It’s all dry and sharp and hard. And people here have no imagination. They repeat whatever you say to them. Where I live I had a flower: She always spoke first …   (54)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


The little prince said that the earth is a lonely planet. “It’s all dry and sharp and hard. And people here have no imagination. They repeat whatever you say to them”. “I’m lonely…I’m lonely … I’m lonely …, the echo answered”.


Modern society is said a lonely society. Isolated society requires independence to each individual. And they are requested to behave with self-responsibility. We call it a democracy. A democracy is the thought of industrial society. This is not suitable to agricultural or under-developed countries.


Human beings are parts, constructing a machinery society. A part is a minimum unit of a machinery society, and given a single function. But a machine cannot move, if only single part was missing. Consequently, parts need to be independent.


Individuals, who are parts of machinery society, are required completely independent and functional. In an industrial society, a single defect of individual parts makes a critical impact to the whole machinery society. It is “a lonely planet”, in which each individual has to face with God directly.


Filters of Memory

The little prince was now quite pale with rage. “For millions of years flowers have been producing thorns. For millions of years sheep have been eating all the same. And it’s not serious, trying to understand why flowers go to such trouble to produce thorns that are good for nothing? It’s not important, the war between the sheep and the flowers? It’s no more serious and more important than the numbers that fat red gentleman is adding up? Suppose I happen to know a unique flower, one that exists nowhere in the world except on my planet, one that a little sheep can wipe out in a single bite one morning, just like that, without even realizing what he’s doing — that isn’t important?”  (20-21)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


“For millions of years flowers have been producing thorns. For millions of years sheep have been eating all the same”. Then, “grown-ups” replace the problem into mathematical problem. A problem, whether flowers are eaten or not, finally turned to an abstract problem of “probability”, just like “fat red gentleman is adding up” calculation.


But for the little prince, “the flower” is the only living creature on earth. Beloved flower, “wipe out in a single bite one morning”, cannot be accepted for him just as “unlucky” probability, but it’s a vivid “experience”. Therefore, “trying to understand” the reason, is “serious” problem for him, just as himself make a living.


But, of course, those of us who understand life couldn’t care less about numbers! (12)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


We decide an important thing with “majority of numbers”. Our society is based upon the principle that democracy, reflecting the public opinion, is “right” decision. But it is the easiest way to decide by numbers. Sometimes it looks irresponsible. Because ordinary people, who are very busy in counting numbers, have not enough time to think things deeply. Saint-Exupery pointed out that “anything essential” should be decided by its own characteristics, and “couldn’t care less about numbers”.


Look up at the sky. Ask yourself, “Has the sheep eaten the flower or not?” And you’ll see how everything changes….

And no grown-up will ever understand how such a thing could be so important! (83)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


There exists no time of “present”. When we try to confirm the moment of “now”, it’s already past. If we cut “times” into pieces, thousandth or tens of thousandth, there is no time of “present”. What we thought “present” is a memory of the “past”. We’re recognizing “present”, by waking up the past memories.


There exists no time of “past”. Past is the time already gone. Only existing is present. But no “present” neither, “present” is already “past”. If we divide a time, into small pieces of thousandth or tens of thousandth, to the limitation, there is no border line for “present” and “past”. There exists only “memory”. Human beings exist only in “memory”.


As Henri Bergson pointed out, people are waking up their past memories, through their individual filters. If you think through the filter of “Has the sheep eaten the flower or not?”, then “you’ll see how everything changes”. “And no grown-up will ever understand how such a thing could be so important!”


You never feel happy, if you analyze the world, through the filter of “words” or “letters” or “numbers”. People, like children, who can get the filter of “imagination” or “fancy” or “dream” will be a truly happy person. A universe of “spiritual world” is a living creature, in which people should dive and taste and impressed by themselves.


“The Little Prince” made severely cynical of “grown-ups”, who are living in civilized society. He is issuing a warning to the grown-ups, who have lost balances, between material world and spiritual world. Saint-Exupery, by criticizing “visual” material civilization, was trying to awake “grown-ups”, the existence of “invisible” spiritual world.


Fear of Death

“I wonder,” he said, “if the stars are lit up so that each of us can find his own, someday.”  (49)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


Modern “grown-ups” think that “dead” time is flowing forever, both in the infinite past and endless future. Human beings live at most tens of years on earth. Before born, we are “dead” state. And after “dead”, we continue dying forever. “Each of us, will be go back to their own stars, someday.” 


“I’ll be much more frightened tonight …”  (76)

“Here’s the place. Let me go on alone.”

And he sat down because he was frightened.  (80)

Antoine De Saint-Exupery,  “The Little Prince”


For us, “dead” time is overwhelmingly far longer than “living” time on earth. This means that “living” time is rather an extraordinary event. To die is rather to come back to their hometown. But the little prince says that “he was frightened”. Why?


One of the most typical features of the modern “grown-ups” view for life and death, is awful fear that “death is frightened”. This fear comes from the fixed idea of recognizing “time” numerically or scientifically. “Scientific time” is strait-lined. After death, time will continue moving forward into never-ending darkness like a rocket. Mathematical concept of infinity, like zero, makes human nerves awfully unstable.


Before 300 years ago, not yet trapped into the slavery of science, people were rather felt that time is a circular thing. They had an image that time go round, and come back again. An insect walking along the surface of the round bottle, moves round and round, and go walking forever. In the same way, future end of a circular time is connected with the past. Infinite past and infinite future is fastened together in a circle at the end.


Earth and moon and sun are all round planet. Turning around by themselves, keep moving, moon around the earth, and the earth around the sun. Planets and stars are revolving around by rotating themselves. Universe is a living creature of a round world.


Sun rises from the east and set in the west. Set sun will rise again tomorrow, and circulate round and round every day. Moon and sun are doing the same way. Yesterday and today and tomorrow, same time is circulating. Spring and summer and autumn and winter, seasons are circulating, buds are out, flowers open, bear fruits, and a year is circulating. Birds and frogs lay eggs in spring, salmons are going upstream, and birds migrating every season.


After all, universe is thought to be circulating. Life is the same. Life born will be dead, and dead will be rebirth. All the life is circulating around. This world is the transient world. Transit from this world to another world, and rebirth to this world again. Ancient people believed reincarnation to see that newly born baby was so closely resembling to dead grandfather. Such a peaceful thought!


But if you think scientifically that time is a strait-lined. Past and future will be going foreword, to the opposite direction, forever. “Dead” state will be continue forever, in the way of mathematical infinity. What a lonely thought it is! It’s like an insect, walking on the surface of a round bottle, an isolated and even comical thought. It is obvious that science cannot measure the spiritual world of human beings. Who are rejecting to be measured.