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Don Quixote as an Embodiment of Western Psyche

Despite the fact that nowadays, the hawks of political correctness try their best to prompt people to think of Western civilization is being simply a local geopolitical phenomenon, the objective reality invariantly points out to something different – as of today, there is virtually no place left on this planet unaffected by various emanations of Western psyche. It appears that even the political leaders in Third World countries, which continuously milk Western nations for money by never getting tired to whine about the evils of “white imperialism” and “capitalist exploitation”, are still striving to emphasize their affiliation with Western civilization, every time opportunity presents itself – such their strive is being sublimated in these people’s obsession with latest European fashions and the products of Europe’s auto manufacturing industry.

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If we take a closer look at African countries’ coats of arms, it will appear that they have been designed to remind those of European countries, even though their motives differ substantially – whereas; European coats of arms feature highly abstract heraldic symbols, dating back to the times of chivalry, African coats of arms feature AK-47s, athletically looking Blacks and various agricultural tools. Such our observation partially explains why, despite being officially referred to as “developing”, African countries are now rapidly regressing back into primeval savagery – apparently, these countries’ association with Western values is being merely superficial. The difference between European heraldic symbols and that of Third World is metaphysically profound – whereas; European coats of arms point out at their creators’ clearly defined existential idealism, the motives contained in African coats of arms emphasize their designers’ animalistic inability to detach themselves mentally from the surrounding reality of constant civil wars and food shortage. In its turn, this observation provide us with the insight onto why it is namely White countries, with which we traditionally associate the notion of cultural and technological progress – unlike what it is the case with representatives of specialized races, Whites are being endowed with a strong sense of existential idealism, which in its turn, defines these people’s taste for indulging in intellectual pursuits. In our paper, we will aim at exploring this thesis even further in its relation to the motives contained in Miguel de Cervantes’ famous novel “Don Quixote”.

As we have mentioned earlier, it is because Europeans are being endowed with the sense of perceptional idealism that allowed them to indulge in abstract philosophizing in the first place; thus, creating preconditions for the emergence of science and culture. Therefore, even though Don Quixote’s eccentric perception of the world does not seem to have anything to do with the objective reality, it nevertheless cannot be referred to as counter-productive. We can say that Don Quixote perceives things as not what they really are, but as what they should have been. It was not Don Quixote’s mental inadequacy that had prompted him to embark upon his quest, but the fact that he experienced an “epiphany”, as to the fact that staying at home, while struggling with boredom, could have hardly be thought of as the pursuit worthy of a man.

Upon his return home, Quixote’s niece tried to prevent her uncle from acting “foolishly” again: “What’s this, uncle? Now that we were thinking you had come back to stay at home and lead a quiet respectable life there, are you going to get into fresh entanglements?” (Ch. LXIX, 778), yet readers come to conclusion that it was only the matter of very short time, before Don Quixote would start seeking for new adventures, simply because he happened to be an extreme idealist.

And, as history shows, it were namely unselfish idealists, which used to push forward cultural and scientific and cultural progress, throughout the history of Western civilization. For example, the founder of heliocentric astronomy Nicolas Copernicus could not possibly benefit from promoting an idea that it is Earth that revolves around the Sun and not the other way around. Yet, he continued to persist that this was actually the case, while realizing perfectly well the dangers, associated with such his stance. Even by the time he was about to be executed by Inquisition, Copernicus never tried saving his life by reconsidering his heliocentric claims. Thus, we can say that Don Quixote’s willingness to fight windmills as “evil giants”, to free criminals as “noble prisoners” and to challenge peasants to a fight as “knights”, cannot simply be thought of as an insight into his mental illness, but as proof that this character never ceased professing the idealistic values of Western psyche, even during the course of his advanced years. Apparently, Don Quixote was well aware of the fact that there must be higher purpose in one’s life – he sensed it subconsciously, just as it is the case with majority of Whites even today, which explains why movies about knights continue to remain popular with White moviegoers in Western countries.

Nevertheless, if Don Quixote appears being truly admirable individual, then how come his misadventures in 16th century Spain’s countryside invoke laughter rather then admiration? This is because, while trying to popularize his commitment to serving a higher cause in front of simple-minded peasants, affected by racial mongrelization, Don Quixote had proven himself being utterly naïve. In his article “Don Quixote and the War of the Alpujarras: The Historical Debasement of Chivalry as a Correlative to Its Literary Parody”, William Childers makes a perfectly good point while stating: “The institution of chivalry is familiar to sixteenth-century people as an idea, though not as a practice. The silliness of Don Quixote’s attempt to revive that practice draws attention to a gap between the social hierarchy and the ideology on which it continued to be based” (2005, 11). Apparently, Don Quixote had too much of an inborn idealism about himself to feel comfortable in the world that started to turn increasingly bourgeois. He was born in a wrong time.

Nowadays, there are many people who also feel themselves being quite out of place in the world that is turning increasingly feminized and politically correct. As we are all well aware of – schoolchildren in Western countries are now being taught to think of masculine virtues of courage, discipline and self-sacrifice, strongly associated with Don Quixote’s stance in life, as utterly euro-centric, and therefore “evil”. Yet, many physically and mentally healthy Whites still have a hard time, while trying to adjust their behavior to correspond to what it is being expected of them by promoters of Globalization – they simply cannot force themselves to conform to objective circumstances of post-industrial living at the price of concealing their true existential identity. Idealistic Whites hate the prospects of pursuing careers of burger flippers or “white collar” office slaves with equal passion, which is why many of them end up being subjected to ostracism as “dreamers”.

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Apparently, their tragedy can be compared to that of Don Quixote’s – society had denied these people a possibility to realize what represents their true calling of “white men burden’s” carriers. Instead of becoming famous political leaders, explorers or scientists, overly idealistic Whites end up replenishing the ranks of underpaid police officers, mercenaries and jail inmates. In its turn, this explains why citizens in Western countries grow increasingly distrustful towards contemporary politicians as being nothing but mediocrities, whose presence in politics appears to have purely accidental subtleties. Even a closer look at how these individuals indulge in politics reveal that there is not much of a difference between them – the same grey suits, the same conniving smiles, the same politically correct rhetoric, the same allegations of corruption, etc. Therefore, Don Quixote’s existential posture directly relates to the realities of contemporary living – the fact that there are many people out there who find this Cervantes’ character being especially appealing, substantiates the validity of this suggestion. However, Cervantes’ masterpiece cannot only be thought of as representing particularly valuable psychological, but also philosophical and even political significance. Let us explain this suggestion at length.

The reading of “Don Quixote” invariably bring us to conclusion that, despite novel main character’s wackiness, he nevertheless cannot be referred to as completely insane individual. And, the reason for this is simple – Don Quixote’s illusions seem to have derived out of his maniacal obsession with an enforcement of justice as the only thing he could think about: “Seeing what wrongs he intended to right, grievances to redress, injustices to repair, abuses to remove, and duties to discharge. So, without giving notice of his intention to anyone… he donned his suit of armor, mounted Rocinante with his patched-up helmet on, braced his buckler, took his lance, and by the back door of the yard sallied forth” (Ch. II, 49). As we have mentioned in paper’s introduction, ever since African countries had “liberated” themselves of “White oppression”, they effectively stopped developing. Why? This is because unlike White colonists, native Africans were never endowed with the sense of existential idealism, which could have prompted them to actively strive towards making their countries a better place to live – it not by an accident that people’s average rate of IQ in Equatorial Guinea, for example, equals 59. In their book “IQ and the Wealth of Nations”, Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen leave no doubt as to the fact the rate of individual’s IQ is being predetermined by particularities of his or her racial affiliation: “IQs appear to be determined by the racial and ethnic make-up of the populations… The IQs of 96 are typical of Europeans. The countries with lower proportions of Europeans and greater proportions of Native Americans, Blacks, and Mestizos have lower IQs” (2002, p. 63). As we are well aware of, it is namely individual’s ability to utilize highly abstract notions, while solving purely practical problems, which serves as best indication of his or her intellectual refinement. Throughout novel’s entirety, Don Quixote never ceased addressing seemingly banal occurrences in such a way if they had implications of global magnitude – this is what most readers find funny about him. Yet, it is so much better to have a wrong theoretical explanation as to the actual essence of a particular physical phenomenon then to have none.

The fact that Don Quixote had logically explained Sancho Panza what had caused evil giants to assume the appearance of windmills makes Panza to consider a possibility that his master might not be insane, after all. Apparently, despite being obviously unaware as to what the concepts of intellectual quotidian and existential idealism stand for, Don Quixote never ceased considering himself being superior to Sancho: “I have told thee already, Sancho,” replied Don Quixote, “that on the subject of adventures thou knowest little. What I say is the truth, as thou shalt see presently” (Ch. VIII, 78). And, the reason why Don Quixote had adopted such an attitude towards his servant is because, while being an idealistic intellectual, he understood so much more then he could have probably known. Apparently, Don Quixote never doubted the fact that Panza’s darker skin reflected his somewhat lessened ability to operate with highly abstract categories. Such Don Quixote’s understanding correlates rather well with what we know about today’s Mexican-Americans’ lessened ability to succeed in academia – the dropout rate among Mexican-American high school students is now estimated to be as high as 45%.

Thus, even though there can be no doubt as to the fact that Don Quixote was indeed affected by mental inadequacy, it makes so much sense to refer to him as being simply an eccentric genius. After all, he never went about promoting decadence or spiritual depravity. All Don Quixote wanted to do is convince people that, under no circumstances evil can be left unpunished, while never ceasing to remain intellectually honest with himself, during the course of his quest.

It was not simply by an accident that in his novel, Cervantes described Spain’s countryside as being energetically stagnant: Spanish peasants proceed with their agricultural routine, without being able to expand their intellectual horizons; Spanish nobles are being preoccupied with seeking entertainment – however; the representatives of both: nobility and peasantry felt that their lives lacked something very important. This “something” appears to be utterly illusive, and it is only when Don Quixote emerges on the stage, that people around him begin to acutely experience their own humanity. They gradually begin to think of such concepts as personal honor, justice, righteousness, beauty, and ugliness from Don Quixote’s point of view, because it is namely Don Quixote’s uncompromised positioning in life that deserves to be respected more then the conformist positioning of those that strived to bring him “down to Earth”.

In his article “Don Quixote”: Story or History?”, Bruce W. Wardropper says: “Don Quixote’ does not disentangle the story from the history, but points its telescope at the ill-defined frontier itself. It presents the evidence for the uncertainty of truth and says to the reader: ‘You be the judge” (1965, 5). The truth is – half-crazy eccentric geniuses had contributed enormously to Western civilization’s current prosperity. For example, throughout his life, Albert Einstein used to have a particularly hard time, while addressing life’s even most basic challenges, such as a challenge of cooking breakfast; yet, he went down the history as not someone who did not how to fry eggs, but as a scientific revolutionary. In a similar manner, it is not the fact that Don Quixote had fought windmills as evil giants, which account for the historical importance of this literary character, but the fact that Don Quixote appears to be nothing less then an embodiment of Western idealistically-creative psyche, which is exactly the reason why he continues to inspire respect in people who are being just as committed to serving an abstract ideal of justice and Don Quixote himself.

As we have mentioned earlier – the fact that the African countries’ coats of arms feature the elements of “reality” does not make the actual reality of living in these countries more pleasant. Such our statement was meant to serve as an allegorical tool for explaining why Don Quixote’s unrealistic stance in life should not be disregarded as being less valid then that of Sancho Panza – apparently, it is namely the people who believe in the reality of unicorns, dragons and double-headed eagles, due to their well-developed sense of imagination, that are being more qualified to act as facilitators of cilvilizational progress, as compared to those who strictly believe in the reality of weapons and agricultural tools.

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Cervantes, Miguel de Saavedra “Don Quixote”. Translated by John Ormsby. 2000. The Pennsylvania State University. Web.

Childers, William “Don Quixote’ and the War of the Alpujarras: The Historical Debasement of Chivalry as a Correlative to Its Literary Parody”. Hispania 88.1 (2005): 11-19. Print.

Lynn, Richard & Vanhanen, Tatu. IQ and the Wealth of Nations. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.

Wardropper, Bruce “Don Quixote’: Story or History?” Modern Philology 63.1 (1965): 1-11. Print.

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