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If you’re anywhere associated with me on the internet, you will probably have seen me post this video.

Let me describe it.  It is called “The Fox,” it is a song by Ylvis, and it is a spiritual experience the likes of which you have never before encountered.  Join me as we journey through this video and uncover its secrets together.  I suggest you watch it at least once before we start. 

Ready? Good.  Let’s begin.

This video has a quiet opening. It seems as though this is deliberate, as if it is designed to shock you into enlightenment, much like a zen koan.

Fox Party

If you hadn’t seen this before, you would think it was just another music video—we open at a house party, but it quickly becomes apparent that there is something unusual taking place here…something almost otherworldly.  A Nordic-looking gentleman is staring pensively into space, eating his chips with a wistful expression.  Perhaps it is his party.  Is this Mr. Ylvis? Why is he so sad at his own zoo-themed party?  We have questions, and this video will answer none of them.  Instead, it will only stare at us knowingly, much like the elephant man.

Fox Snip 2 elephant

Then the song begins.  Right away you know this is like no other song you have ever experienced.  The lyrics are simple—one might even be tempted to say childish.  But they are uttered with such conviction that the material becomes sublime.  And once again, the elephant man only smiles, watching with the silent wisdom of a Buddha.

Fox 3 elephant

Mr. Ylvis sits on his couch and sings to himself.  Perhaps his best friend didn’t come to his birthday party? Or perhaps he is distressed by his resemblance to Chris Hemsworth.  Let us remark for a moment upon the line “And fish go blub.” Even the lowliest of creatures, the fish, are not exempt from this song.  The message is clear—all creatures are truly welcome, and each has something unique to contribute.  This thought seems to cheer Mr. Ylvis as he sadly eats popcorn, all alone on his couch.  Then he seems to plunge back into his introspection, and we come to the crux of his inner struggle, this question that burns within his heart:

Fox what does the fox say

We are instantly transported into a dark, wild forest full of fog and eerie lights.  Enthusiasts in the field of depth psychology will not require that I point out the obvious symbolism in the masked dancers and mystical atmosphere; it should be sufficient to remark their resemblance to the wild women of Bacchus and the chord they strike with the image of the anima.

Fox Forest Dance

Pressing on into this archetypal wilderness, we come upon an unexpected, but poignant sight: an elderly man reading a bedtime story to a child.  Here, clearly, is the internal struggle afflicting Mr. Ylvis—he feels trapped between two worlds, growing older and wiser, but yet still clinging to childlike wonder at the spiritual aspects of his existence.  The anima-dancers surround them, the wild, daimonic forces that are never far below the surface of any child’s psyche.

Fox Grandpa

We return to the party, where a freshly-showered, champagne-drinking singer waxes eloquent on the virtues of the fox.  As he sings, we are transported to his inner world, running wild through the underbrush along with the ‘fox,’ a clear symbol of his youthful spirituality and animal impulses.  The singer seems to realize this projection of his daimon upon this fox-shape, and refers to the creature (multiple times) as an angel.

Fox Angel

Fears of being cut off, unable to communicate, should be easily read from the next segment.  He worries that his daimon, the fox, will be unable to speak up and make itself heard by the horse, the working animal, a creature of the material word.  The brief glimpse of an electrical telegraph against a carpet of moss clearly shows the incursion of technology-driven isolation upon his inner world.

Fox Morse

Returning to the blond Mr. Ylvis in his inner landscape, night has clearly fallen.  The world is dark and dimly light.  There is something of the alien (as Otto might say) in the pulsing lights and the rapid, inhuman movements of the bacchanal.  He laughs amid this scene of wild revelry, perhaps channeling the patron of such events, the god-image of Dionysus clearly evoked in his animalistic garb.

Fox Ahae

The elderly man breaks out into animal howls.  We know now that the barriers between ego and id are breaking; the archetype of the old man, the grandfather, has broken down into the form of the fox. The child, secure in his innocent wonder, is unfazed.

Fox Howl Old

We return to our two singers, and they are united in their worship of the fox-god, literally uplifted as the sing the praise of this “ancient mystery.” They call to their canine daimon as they rise into a numinous state of connection with the divine.  As if in answer to their summons, the fox itself appears for the first time, and we briefly glimpse Mr. Ylvis on the couch, showing the first external signs of this tremendous internal conflict.  The two singers reach out to the fox, their “guardian angel,” floating in a state of spiritual rapture.

Fox Guardian Angel

The fox responds, taking on the characteristics of a human (the animal-human is such a common motif among scholars of the religious experience that to make further note here hardly seems necessary) and gives voice amid their reveling, speaking to the two in an unknown stream of syllables as the music reaches its crescendo.

Fox Fox Sing

The wild ritual peaks, and the energy falls, their voices plaintive and fading as the fox tosses its head and retreats into the dark forests from whence it came—withdrawing into the depths of the unconscious mind.  The two singers are left to wander, striding together into the light—back to the profane, everyday experience.  They bear their masks in their hands—although they must return to the world of the mundane, they are forever marked by their experience, and we know as the video ends that they will never forget their encounter with the fox, the guiding daimon of the woods.

Fox End

This video is remarkable on many levels.  It is a masterfully directed trip through the mutual experience of two men who are fortunate enough to come face-to-face with the divine.  It leaves us with many questions.  Who are these men? What does the elephant man know that we do not? What is the significance of the grandfather’s hand-knit sweater?  But these are questions whose answers can never be given.  They must be discovered by each of us, in the forest that lies within our hearts.  And that is the lesson that the Fox can teach all of us–in order to grow, to truly realize our daimon, we must seek it.  We must call to it and prove ourselves worthy.

Heed the words of the fox, my readers, for the fox is as wise as the elephant man–for his is the smile of a man who knows his daimon well.

Fox 3 elephant

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5 Comments

  1. Dude…dude. :’) That was a beaut. A BEAUT DO YOU HEAR ME GODDAMMIT I tried posting a link to it in the video’s comments but that’s totally not allowed and I felt small of brain

    • Oh I appreciate it! Thanks! 😀 This video really spoke to me on a very deep level.

  2. You are expressing something that probably is at the root of the popularity of this video. Being Norwegian myself, I think the message (probably not overtly intended) by Ylvis, struck a nerve among millions. Through it´s parodic and cheesy format, it allows people to access, very briefly, a deeper longing, for the mysterious. It reawakens for a brief moment, some existential longing or grief towards the Self, the mystical. Instead of feeling like you are being manipulated, it allows for a sense of wonder and the video, through it´s parodic absurdity, works like a Zen Koan; it stops the mind, and opens something.

    Its funny, but I watched a youtube clip of a video blogger who saw the Fox for the first time, and he wasn´t able to verbalize how he felt, and he got emotional. That is probably what many do. Behind the humor and the great beat, there is an opening towards what Kant defined as the “sublime”

    This actually struck a tender chord in the collective unconscious; it will continue, and its part of the greater grief process that humanity goes through as it destroys its own origin; nature.

    • Thank you for reading. It is a pleasure to have one’s work read by someone so clearly well-educated. Go forth with good fortune on your life’s journey.

        • andershanssen
        • Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:37 am
        • Permalink

        And it was a pleasure to finally find someone who puts words to what I think many who are aware feel.

        My experience is that many of life´s greates secrets and insights pop up straight in front of our noses in popular culture. We are all eyes through which the universe looks at itself =)


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