“If I had lived a few hundred years ago, I guess I’d have been a court jester, inventing stories and performing funny feats to make people laugh and forget their problems. Back in the old days there was the bubonic plague and crazy kings… But can our present society, hedonistic as it is, totaly concerned with material accumulation, fouling its air with poisons, killing and maiming, be any less in need of humor?”
— Alan Abel
The european tradition of Court Fools and Jesters, is part of a larger tradition of harlequins, puppets, jugglers, comedians, magicians, clowns and such, found everywhere from ancient China to the corporate world to the wrestling ring.
Delightful are the many stories of the holy fool Nasruddin Hodja.
A cross-cultural helping of tricksters would include (among many others) Maui, Mamo the Fool, Pan, Legba Exu: The Divine Messenger, Coyote, Heyhoka, Nepaytamu, Khelmer Khokem, Raven, Tyl Ulenspiegel, Renard the Fox, Eshu-Elegbara, Uncle Tompa, Glooscap, and Anansi the the Spider (a.k.a. Anancy, or Ananse).
Bone up on the classics with tales of Diogenes the Cynic (“Reproached for ‘behaving indecently’ in public, he lamented only that he wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing one’s stomach”) and Desiderius Erasmus’s Praise of Folly.
The Christian tradition has its Symeon, the Holy Fool and The Feast of Fools. Tricksters and frauds in the religion racket are covered also on our Great God Hoax page. Our Theory page explores the characteristics of the Trickster from various perspectives.
|On This Day in Snigglery||May 23, 1996: Alan Sokal reveals his Social Text hoax in the article “A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies.” (See Modest Proposals for more info)|