Sign of the times

An image from Andrew Stein yesterday, passed on by Dean Calbreath on Facebook:

A sign of the times — specifically, of the early 17th century. The windmills depicted here are no doubt from the Netherlands, rather than the Spain of Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605/1615), but that’s the source of the idiom tilt at windmills ‘attack imaginary enemies or evils’ (from Don Quixote’s seeing the windmills as long-armed giants).


3 Responses to “Sign of the times”

  1. Julian Lander Says:

    I’m not sure whether that’s wonderful or sad. In the immediate context, as a sign to mean that one should not try to interfere with the windmills themselves, it’s wonderful. But if “tilting at windmills” is taken as a metaphor for idealism, it’s sad. (It also depends on how you interpret the metaphor. I take it as meaning something apparently impossible that might result in some desired change. But I think that others interpret it as only trying something impossible, in which case tilting at windmills is a bad thing.)

  2. the ridger Says:

    From a Partially Clips cartoon:

    When confronting something which may be either a windmill or an evil giant, what question should you be asking?

    There are some who ask, “If we do nothing, and that is an evil giant, can we afford to be wrong?” These people consider themselves to be brave and vigilant.

    Some ask “If we attack it wrongly, can we afford to pay to replace a windmill?” These people consider themselves cautious and pragmatic.

    Still others ask, “With the cost of being wrong so high in either case, shouldn’t we always definitively answer the ‘windmill vs. giant’ question before we act?” And those people consider themselves objective and wise.

    But only a tiny few will ask, “Isn’t the fact that we’re giving equal consideration to the existence of evil giants and windmills a warning sign of insanity in ourselves?”

    It’s hard to find out what these people consider themselves, because they never get invited to parties.

  3. Windmills and giants « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] a comment on my “Sign of the times” posting yesterday, The Ridger described a Partially Clips cartoon on the theme of windmills and giants. The cartoon […]

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