26 October 2013

What does the fox say?

I've never been one to pay attention to popular culture (which is no small part of why I am not a good partner at Trivial Pursuit), so when I saw over the past several weeks a number of friends on Facebook updating their statuses to ask, "What does the fox say?," I took it to be a reference to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's excellent book on friendship: The Little Prince.

In this classic book (which, if you haven't yet read you should - in all honesty - drop everything and read it now), the Little Prince visits in search of a friend.  In his travels through the galaxy he meets people with varied interests and personalities, but seem capable of friendship.

After meeting a fox, the Little Prince slowly tames a fox, at the fox's request:
For me you're only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys.  And I have no need of you.  And you have no need of me, either.  For you I'm only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes.  But if you tame me, we'll need each other.  You'll be the only boy in the world for me.  I'll be the only fox in the world for you..."
After sending the Little Prince on a small mission to better understand friendship, the fox gives to the Little Prince "the gift of a secret":
Here is my secret: It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart.  Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.
The Little Prince repeated the secret, "in order to remember it," and the fox said to him:
People have forgotten this truth.  But you mustn't forget it.  You become responsible forever for what you've tamed.
It was only a few days ago that I realized the question, "What does the fox say?" is the title of a song, which is apparently highly popular at the moment though I cannot fathom why.  If you haven't listened yet to the song, don't bother.  If you haven't seen the music video yet, you certainly shouldn't do that, if you value your brain cells.  What the song is actually about I have no idea whatever, but it would certainly be good and beneficial if each of us remembered the secret of the fox.

His Holiness Benedict XVI once quoted this very line, though I cannot know remember when he did so.  If I can track down the address, I'll add more to this post (if you know when he did, please leave a comment!).


  1. In the cultural context, I found the song/video very funny. I understood the spoof and was amused. When I read your post above, I found something much better. When I see references to the video now, I will always be reminded of what the fox did say... to the Little Prince. Thank you.

  2. Right? Spoof of what?
    My kids are so into that song though!
    It seems to play on a loop in their heads!