Mythology, just like the vernacular, is a product of the folk spirit that does not excel in speculation but finds an unconscious, spontaneous, inspired, and not-at-all roundabout way of expression. Mythology presents in all sincerity the attitude of primitive man towards his immediate surroundings, towards Nature in a broad sense. Dwelling in a metropolis, in a city, or even in a rural settlement, modern man today, unlike his ancestors, even those who lived no earlier than one century ago, has rather an indirect than un-mediated knowledge of spontaneous nature. Along this line, he avails himself of means of information, irrespective of the form or aspect they take. The savage has turned tame, eliminating pre-logical thinking in favor of rationalistic thinking. True, history has no direct information on the world of symbols and ideas of Paleolithic man in Europe or elsewhere. Nonetheless, the science of human ethology allows us deductions by comparison with the experiment carried out in the present. Hence the observation that in primitive communities, people considered animals and plants, too, to have the same spiritual essence as man, to be endowed with a soul, and more, even with personality. The relationship between man and Nature, within this social framework of the I-you type, preserves its intimacy within the given limits. Primitive man carries nature within, in his turn behaving adequately, according to the universal pre-programming to which he has always been subject. Until not long ago, maybe nowadays still, to speak about pre-programmed man could have sounded somewhat bizarre, and could have incurred inquisitive appreciations in the sphere of dogmatists, irrespective of its nature, from people who postulate transcending logic by setting any intellectual formula at variance with understanding. Few know that articulated speech is not the only communication method between partners. Before uttering a word, the persons face-to-face solve – in subsidiary and instinctively – their related or dissociated relationship by deciphering bilateral and simultaneous body talk. Words are just a medium of exchange in consolidating or breaking down a consecution (connection). In point of the relationship with the neighborhood, the preprogrammed primitive lived within it (the neighborhood) without incurring any harm or bringing prejudices to it. Later on, when tamed, reoriented by learning, isolated from the neighborhood by the new décor-neighborhood he himself created: civilization, when engaged in most complicated social relations, he recalled what he was deep down, disowned himself from the new platform of the condition earned, and entered in conflict not only with the primary neighborhood but also with his very way of being. Which accounts for the fact that the current endeavor of man at the dawn of the third millennium is to understand himself. When he has done that we believe he will have found the right key to open the door leading back to nature, for correct and intelligent husbandry, without bringing damage to Nature, deprived of which he cannot survive anyhow. In wild thinking, the man-nature unit does not take rational forms, does not rise to the abstract concept of unity between the human entity and the environment. According to Levi-Strauss, wild thinking cuts away a number of concrete elements from the biological universe, turning them into a mythical world. The mind of primitive man tends to discover ties between things in order to present them as structures. Stugren believes that what wild thinking posits as structure of the real world does not result from scientific ratiocination but from the inner world of dreams and mystery (Blaga). Naturally, we do not rule out the world of dreams and mystery as a source of all wonderful mythologies, to dwell only on the Romanian folk mythology, for example. Endowing animals with attributes can be deemed a mirror reflection of our own nature, and not a rational screening of the relevant process. Thus, the wolf is perceived as an evil animal, the fox represents cunning; the snake stands for universal uncertainty, the eagle for cruelty, etc. Endowing the fox with the particular traits of man is an un-programmed accident, which proves that error is also included in universal general programming. The character of man is transferred to the non-generic subject and from here to legend there is only one step to take. The next turns us into moralists. Fabulists are such moralist psychologists, relying on their reptilian memory. The origin of the fable goes beyond ancient Greece, to the third millennium B.C. in Egypt, in the books of wisdom where we can find gnomic metaphors with animals and fable-like personifications. Sumerian tablets from the 18th century B.C. also contain stories with animals. The allegorical motifs of the 14th-13th centuries B. C. are also to be found later, in Aesop. He gave character to the animals in fables that children have to learn by heart even before they see a fox with their own eyes. Following in the footsteps of his forerunners, i.e. taking inspiration from Aesop, the most famous non-inventor of fables, La Fontaine admitted that his work was a resurrection of Aesop's. The zoology of La Fontaine is bookish, deprived of any trace of personal observation, perfectly fit to extol archetypes. In the menagerie of La Fontaine, the fox takes pride of place. "The fox to the cat says, My friend, to be so clever you pretend;/ Say what am I? I've in this sack/ A hundred tricks." In Romanian mythological zoomorphic inventory the fox occupies a peripheral position, being endowed rather with psychopomp qualities (the fox is very well acquainted with the secrets of the funerary realm; it will lead the innocent traveler unto the good path, helping him to gain passage into the netherworld). The folk profile of the fox in a certain European vision is that of a russet animal with a bushy tail, which represents complete perfidy in a native state as the result of the blind struggle for survival. That is why the fox equally boasts spontaneous cunning and ruse, a strange mixture of fear and ability, of hidden weakness and brilliant craftiness. And again the fox is the image of the color red that hovers between the glittery day and the dark night. The moment the twilight acquired an animal shape no creature proved more suited to the crepuscule than the fox because of its color and specific shrewdness. The twilight hour is the time of incertitude and deceit (Coman, M, 1986, Mitologie populara romaneasca, vol. I., Minerva Publishing House, Bucharest). No matter from what angle cunning is considered, it falls perfectly and permanently within a triangle as an abstract symbol. Coming from biological depths, it presents three points, three potential prods against which the pre-programming in us warns vehemently: keep vigilant and circumspect!x On the other hand there is the fox genome where this element is insignificant, indifferent, and does not require answers. If its face is synthetically repeated, the diabolical triangle gets reasserted as an unhampered presence. Corroboration is again achieved, instinctively, as it has always happened. Elevated or degraded in point of value in the eyes of its analyst, the animal comes to represent what it actually is not. As a consequence of the unconscious mechanisms, the savage projects a film on the screen of the domestic, and the latter no longer understands the dialogues for the simple fact the savage has broken away from the self – the creature denies his nature –­ and roaming foreign lands it has forgotten natural utterance, the way of being of his ancestors. A certain type of behavior, a certain manner of movement received in the fullness and completeness of its unfolding can be the trigger of motional or affective answers. The filtered established condition can be accorded to a suitable characteristic. Thus the brisk, furtive motions of the fox are seen in a new (anthropomorphic) translation as a sort of stealing away that causes uncertainty. Who else fills time, those hours of uncertainty and delusion, by sneaking away if not the charlatan, the wise ass, the rogue, the clever, crafty character, naturally thievish; and if thievish then certainly cunning, too, which presupposes perfidy, insincerity, vileness, and so on. Certainly, this is a direct rather than analytical interpretation, a perfect reply from a human vantage to a stimulus coming from another world where treason and bad omen have not yet and will not be invented. In mythology, the un-mediated way of knowing man's position to the rest of the living world, the interior world of dream and mystery, generates secondary fantasies. In the foreground comes the instinctive reasoning of Homo sapiens which, even if wild, breeds the dichotomy good-evil, a certain position towards the Universe which from the start separates the world into two: one to love, and then one to consider with precaution and reservation. Damnation deriving from instinct is not limited to this in attaining its end. Have you ever pictured Beelzebub sketched cleverly on the white terror of the blank sheet? The folk profile of the fox spells out cunning. In its case, says custom already turned solidly grounded, cunning represents a biological way of being, a necessary life saving or food-obtaining reaction. The definition sheerly eludes reality, as a tacit service to the unwritten law, adopted by tradition. There is nothing biological in the cunning of the fox, not even as motivation, simply because cunning is not included in the nature of the creature. Even when it is chased by death, it does not cheat but simply runs as fast as it can to save its skin. The enlightenment of the primitive spells cunning (subterfuge) and thus, not knowing better, the acrobat runner gets thusly qualified: tail pointing into another direction – a straight angle as a rule –, as to the direction of the movement taken to indicate a clever intention of disorienting the chaser. Why not, we may say at a first glance. Wrongly, the two forces of simultaneous action provided by the broken soma of the animal generate, according to the antiquated laws of physics, a vector. Meaning the direction of the fox changes as it progresses, moving from the left to the right, and back, according to the contour of the place and of the vegetation adorning it. Translated by Alina Cârâc
x In the outlook of the Romanian people the angle is a bad spot because of its shape and spiritual potential (…) the angle is deemed a place where warlocks and witches deposit their charms. This belief makes people shun angles…(Bernea E., 1977, Spatiu, timp si cauzalitate la poporul roman, Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest, p. 32)

by Dan Stănescu