The ass trotting in front. LO24345

From: Leo Minnigh (
Date: 04/11/00

Replying to LO24254 --

Dear LO'ers

At de Lange wrote in LO24254 a contribution on the output of the mule that
pulls in front of the wagon.

I once compared on another e-mail list ideas/thoughts with the excrements
of the mind. And At did this once again.

This idea sounds maybe humorous (particularly if one has 'bullshit' in
mind) but there are also some more serious things to say about it.

Let me sketch my thought excrements. First I will write some further
analogies, and than I take the freedom to leave some droppings on a side
track, towards the new employee (started with "Why employ a person?
LO24315"). I will treat this latter track in a separate contribution.

thoughts/crap develop after digestion
thoughts/crap leave the body as waste
thoughts/crap are elements of communication
thoughts/crap is food for further creation
some thoughts/crap have a bad taste or smell
lack of thoughts/crap is a sign of death
too much thoughts/crap might generate a overkill
some thoughts/crap is deposited on special places, some at random
some creatures produce more thoughts/crap than others
production of thoughts/crap of the same creature is not always the same

Well, I think this is enough for the moment. Let us look what At told us
in his mail (with this analogy in our mind).

> Suddenly we saw something which repeated itself. A small piece of dung. It
> was about the size of an apricot, larger than the single droplet of a
> goat. Some two hundred meters further we saw a third dropping of the same
> size. It repeated itself almost regurlarly every two to three hunderd
> meters. It was as if some strange animal had been marking interspaces
> along the road with it like a road engineer.
> It stopped as it began -- suddenly. We were not able to find out what
> caused it.

Even crap could generate thoughts and questions :-) It reminds me of a
great discussion during a geological excursion. We walked along a small
mountain road when we saw a great splash on the road surface of cowshit.
It was rather fluid so the splash was spread over a large area as seperate
droplets. The question we asked ourselves was: "which was the walking
direction of the cow?"

But back to the apricots of At. The peculiar pattern following the road
and the origin were the questions. What caused it and if there is a
purpose, what is it?

> So he teams them up -- two at the back and one in front. Sometimes he
> need not whip them even once to get them trotting. After some half
> kilometer, the ass in front will let go of a small dropping, but not the
> two asses at the back. The ass will repeat doing this every two to three
> hundred meters. Perhaps it is indignation. Perhaps it is stress. Perhaps
> it is pride. Whatever the reason, these droppings indicate that the ass is
> sustaining its leading role.

Yes, sustaining the leading role. But what is a leading role?? This is a
very serious question. Is the leading role
- pulling the wagon
- indicating the right pace
- indicating the right direction
- signalling leadership to the direct followers
- personal signature of leadership for later generations
- signalling activity, healthyness and competence of leadership

I am very interested in the real story of At, if the followers are free to
walk, or that they are tightened to the wagon. I guess it will be the
latter, but it is a nice experiment to losen the cords of the followers
and see if they still will follow.

BTW Donkeys and mules are very intelligent animals. I know of another
story related to my background. There was once a geologist who had to do a
regional mapping in the Spanish Pyrenees. In a huge area the contact of
carbonate rock with silicate rocks had to be mapped. Too much and too
tiresome to do this by walking. So the geologist hired for a month a mule
from a local farmer. The geologist settled himselve in a relaxed position
on the animal, and the mule walked. Each time they reached a
carbonate/silicate contact, the geologist stopped the mule to indicate the
position on his map and to make some notes in his fieldbook. After a
couple of days the mule stopped without instruction of his passenger at
the right places. From that moment, the geologist could trust his vehicle
blindly, so he could do some sleeping while sitting on the back of the
mule from one contact to the other. It became a very acurate geological
map of that part of the Pyrenees.

> As soon as there is nothing left over to drop, the leading ass will stop
> moving. It takes about ten kilometers for the leading ass to reach this
> state. Even whipping will not make him move again. It is then time for the
> Damara to change the order. He will replace the leader with one at the
> back who is still "fresh". The new leading ass will soon set off
> trotting, letting go of a small dropping as usual. It is most interesting
> that the former leading ass will again settle in a trot, all rigidity
> forgotten.

It seems that At compares leadership with rigidity?!

But here is the moment to ask the following question: are the droppings
signs of free energy? Thus indicating the healthyness of leadership. Does
this mean that leaders should regularly leave notes and signs of
healthyness? I guess that the direction was still unchanged.

Does it also means that leadership should be a temporary job, and that job
rotation even in the top of the hierarchie is worth?

> After some thirty kilometers, when all three asses had a go at leading,
> the strategy of hirarchy stops working. Each of the asses will become
> rigid when teamed up alone in front. Why? Is it because nothing left over
> to make a small dropping? Or is it because they have wisened up? The only
> strategy still possible is to team all three up, side by side,
> "associated" in "one" whole. They then will walk leisurely the rest of the
> distance only as an ass can do. The Damara can do nothing else.
> Pardon the pun because each discipline is like an ass. How many more are
> left over to mark the road by small droppings? What has become of
> wholeness ("monadicity- associativity") in our so-called interdisplinary
> projects? Do we not need to let go of the hirarchial strategy needed for a
> fast pace so as to cover the rest of the distance, even if at a diminished
> pace?

It is clear that At thinks in the same lines. But I wonder why the
followers don't leave droppings during the course. Is it anxiety, is it
because they don't want to question leadership, is it to spare their free
energy for better times, or don't they have free energy at all to produce
droppings? Is leadership and dropping a one-to-one relationship? And is
the size of the team critical for the dayly distance, or is it the total
quantity of free energy of the team that is critical?

> And what about nations? How many small droppings can the leading nation
> still make? Who will wisen up like the Damara?
> To those who have become tired of sustaining small droplets -- do not
> become tired of life. Life is more than marking the road.

I wonder how long At will please us with his droppings.
I was for a while a follower of the LO-wagon. No excrements, but I was a
patient follower which was very glad to follow a path that was
indicated by a leader. Sometimes I had difficulties with keeping in pace,
maybe it was because I liked to stand still for a while to enjoy all the
impressions from the surroundings that we passed. Thanks to the droppings
i will find my way and will try to make contact with the team again. But
also for the future, I enjoy to be a follower, so don't panic if you miss
my droppings now and then.

The side track that I observed as a follower to the new employees will be
sketched in another contribution.

Thank you for sniffing my small dropping.

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
        Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <>

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