The Wisdom Of Owls

Theodore Dalrymple reflects on the creature:

The first owl of my life was Owl in Winnie the Pooh. I think he had a delayed effect upon my intellectual development, or perhaps I should say upon my Weltanschauung. Owl held himself to be intellectually the superior of every other character in Pooh: in fact he was the intellectual among them, and took himself very seriously, as the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom. But he wasn’t very good at spelling (he signed himself WOL) nor were his thoughts always of the most brilliant. He put a notice up outside his home in a tree asking visitors to ‘PLEZ CNOKE IF AN RNSR IS NOT REQID.’ Of course, I delighted as a child in the absurdity of this: why would anyone go to his door if he did not want an answer (notwithstanding the fact that I sometimes rang doorbells myself and ran away).

So Owl gave me the first intimation in my life that all are not wise who claim to be learned. And Owl was a hint also that the clever could be the most foolish of all.

(Photo by Hans Splinter)