How to Govern a Kingdom

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Narrator: Suzie Garfield (Susan A. Garfield)

Stories Count: 2009
20 minutes

June 2009

The probabilities of fairy tales

How to Govern a Kingdom is a straightforward monologue presented by storyteller Suzie Garfield, an engaging speaker who draws you easily into her tale, starting with the problem of choosing a worthy suitor for the Princess. Tales of Modern Life is how Garfield characterizes her stories — but her presentation is warm and traditional, and surely the hope for prudent matrimony is as old as civilization. So what is specifically modern about her film How to Govern a Kingdom?

Well, what is modern is the presence of a modern mind at a key position of the Kingdom: its Prime Minister. Now, I don't mean modern in the sense of born yesterday, but in possessing a reasoning, logical outlook. While such folk have been born into every age, the reasoning tools have been developing over the centuries, and if we don't use them diligently, that's not the fault of the tools.

Suzie Garfield has a mathematician's understanding and appreciation of probability theory, of the building blocks of truth and falsehood, and she deploys this deftly in her story. Grownups may recognize the situations (which I won't reveal here), but the warmth of the telling makes the problems and their neat unravelling quite enjoyable. Younger people encountering them for the first time may be entertained into a useful curiosity.

This video is available in four parts via YouTube, Suzie Garfield narrating:

The probability of governance

To step back a bit, as I'm sure Suzie Garfield hopes we will, our wider perspective shows us that the story of How to Govern a Kingdom is also the problem of governance: a problem even older than civilization. How may we achieve the prosperous society, the peaceable kingdom?

I think it is not that we drift along in what we call, with self-congratulation, Modern Times. Rather that we ourselves must deploy as calmly and consistently as does Garfield's Prime Minister, the reasoning tools which — more than the mere passage of centuries — go to make up the modern mind. I think that Plato and Francis Bacon, to name but two, would enjoy How to Govern a Kingdom.


© 2009 Robert Wilfred Franson

Suzie Garfield presents
Stories Count:
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