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The Argonauts - givemoney (Page 3)

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The Argonauts - givemoney
STOLL/Proposal for What is the nature of freedom ©2006.
"Don't worry. He'll never trade a lamb for a pen. I just want to teach him a lesson."
"How much is a lamb worth?"
"I don't know, but a lot more than one pen."
What the Tibetan knows is that all the shepherds are selling their spring lambs. Lambs are
a common source of food for the locals and, I believe, the desert can't support all the
newborns. And, of course, the shepherd knows the value of both lambs and pens in Tibet.
When the shepherd returns, Edwin tries to swap but the shepherd refuses and reopens the
negotiations. Now he wants the pen and money. Edwin looks dismayed and jockeys his
bicycle around the shepherd pretending to leave. The shepherd holds the lamb in front of
Edwin, turning her from side to side. Then he shoves her in front of me and turns her from
side to side. Her blue eyes shine. She has a thick white fleece adapted to the Himalayan
winters, and she smells like dung. Edwin offers his pen for exchange again.
This time it's the shepherd's turn to act his part in the bartering drama. He gets angry and
pantomimes, "This is a tasty lamb. You're stealing the food from my children's mouths." (In
my opinion, over-population is the main problem in the world. If anything, people should
give away condoms. "Hello. Condom?") The shepherd backpedals toward his flock. He is
using the basic argument I've heard all over the world, "You have everything: I have
Edwin holds up his pen and flicks the button several times, scribbles on his hand then
tucks it into his shirt pocket by the clip. The Tibetan is entranced and, suddenly, he agrees to
the exchange, sealing the bargain. So far, the bartering has followed the usual custom and
Edwin has to follow through, or risk insulting and angering the shepherd.
First, the shepherd reaches for the pen but Edwin, still intent on proving the value of a
pen, indicates he wants the lamb first. After a couple bungled attempts, they agree to swap
simultaneously and I photograph the moment for posterity. The shepherd quickly stuffs the
pen behind the silver buckle on his belt and Edwin is left cuddling the lamb. For a moment,
Edwin's blue eyes are as big and bewildered as the lambs.
"I never thought he'd go for it," Edwin says, wincing at the loss of his pen.
"What are you going to do with her?"
"Don't worry," he brightens, "It's a bluff. He'll never let me ride away with his lamb."
"What if he does?"
"Then, I guess, we'll have a mascot."

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