Almost Composed

Meditation and curiosity

A strange fork in the road

July 7, 2014

A certain ghost walk guide here in Cornwall finishes his tours with an enigmatic proverb:

A person often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.

This is the opening line in Jean de la Fontaine’s fable, The Horoscope. On the one hand it seems paradoxical to say that by departing from your destiny you may realise it; on the other, fatalistically, whichever road you take then becomes your destiny. The latter reading suggests free will but the meaning of the proverb might simply be that destiny is something inescapable. In his account, de la Fontaine dismisses the art of fortune telling and proposes that destiny is always in flux but this slippery phrase illuminates how cryptic and mysterious our idea of fate is.

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