Candide's Garden: A Parable



Feb 23, 2009
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srs: I need more time to mull this over. I haven't read/analyzed anything in a long time, but the obvious reoccurring theme is that of relying on others to show you the errors of your ways. And the beginning statement of "how can members know what they can change when they are forced to cherrypick evidence?" makes me thing the lesson to be learned from this is that not everything you should learn is easily reached. You have to leave your safe zone (garden/meeting) in order to get the real answers from others who know better (green house/Ace/neighbor). Though you obviously can't always rely on people for everything.

I don't know man, this is just the ramblings of a sleep deprived man running on fumes.


A boy named Crow
May 4, 2005
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I think you probably are on to something with that reading. What I notice is how the two stages (rather than 90) of his "recovery", both in the garden and Ace hardware, parallel the serenity prayer they were forced to recite each AA meeting--in the garden are things that you must accept (irises don't bloom in the shade), in Ace hardware are things you can change (individual chainsaws to cut down trees and clear land), and people to ask for the wisdom to tell the difference. That's where I guess the parable lies.

Thanks for your input CD-Mann. Sometimes you just have to put something out, see how others react to it, before you can really identify your own response. What do you think of the above reading?


The Traveler
Sep 25, 2010
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I'm actually in agreement with CD-Mann on this one. This was a good article to read through, because it does make me think. The way I see it is that you can't force people to change either by following strict rules; hence why people are rebelling by not attending the AA meeting. Some have to be self taught or find someone with the knowledge they need in order to use a chainsaw or grow flowers. I might have more to say on this later, but I need to chew on it some more before I can say what else comes to mind. The simplicity of the flowers stuck out to me the most, because it reflects society today to some degree.


Break the Spell
May 18, 2007
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Seems to me a story about getting so caught up in something and the ideas therefrom that they serve as therapy.

The first few paragraphs describes a man, with a garden, who suffers from alcoholism and nicotine addiction and is thoroughly unsatisfied with conventional means to deal with them. So he focuses on his garden, imagining how much better the world would be if it was like a well-maintained just like it.

But the writing goes on, in detail, about things that don't seem all that important. I mean, this was supposed to be a story about fixing the world and overcoming vices. Why do I need to know about chainsaws and soil acidity? Beyond the introduction, most of the description revolves around the garden, describing things within or relating to it. It makes the writing feel unfocused, like the point has been lost amid the author's love of gardening.

And that's the point. The "author" here is Candide. There are no quotations, yet we see his thoughts clear as day. This short piece is the recording of this character's thoughts. He becomes so focused in the minutia of his hobby, that everything else is superfluous, including his thoughts on how the world should be. Even as he praises the joys of gardening so much that he wants to write a novel about it, the man's problem has already been solved.

The key to this is in the final paragraph, with the oddly specific list of things that he bought with the advance paycheck. Specifically, alcohol and cigarettes are nowhere to be found. His own hobby saved him for no other reason than he became absorbed in it.