The Story of the Camel


(Had no pictures of a camel… this is a pigeon instead)

I woke up this morning thinking about this story. It’s from the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche and tells about the three transformations of man. I’m going to paraphrase…

In childhood we are a camel. The camel must get down on his knees and accept the heavy load placed on his back. The camel has to practice obedience, he must patiently receive the instructions and the information from society (parents, teachers, peers) in order to live a responsible life.


(No dragons either… this is a gargoyle on a church in Paris)

When the camel is fully loaded, it struggles to its feet and runs out into the desert…… where it is transformed into a lion. A powerful lion, and his power is directly related to the load that was carried by the camel. So the heavier the load the camel carried…. the more powerful the lion. This is the stage of the youth or teenager.


(A blow-up masked man hanging out a window at the Louvre)

The task of the lion is to kill a particular dragon, The Thou Shalt Dragon. On every scale of this very scaly dragon, the words “thou shalt” are imprinted. There’s…Thou shalt be good, Thou shalt pay taxes, Thou shalt be humble, Thou shalt recycle, Thou shalt be well read, Thou shalt make something of yourself, Thou shalt fit in. Some of these thou shalt’s are from four thousand years ago, others from this morning’s newspaper.


(Denis indulging his inner child)

The camel has to submit to the thou shalt ‘s, but the lion (the teenager) has to throw them off and come to his own realisation. Then when the dragon is completely dead and all its thou shalt‘s overcome, the lion is transformed into a child living it’s own truths. No more rules to obey, except it’s own. No more rules derived from the historical needs and tasks of the local society, but….. “the pure impulse to living…. of a life in flower.”

I love this story, Mairead.