Monday, February 6, 2017

"The Trickster Is Not Playing"

"The fool, fundamentally, belongs to the world of orthodoxy, 
his comic play acting as a lubricant of the status quo.
The trickster, however, is not playing."

Three people, two of them friends, have told me they think the call to "punch nazis" is not bad, or even good. That surprised me, so I wanted to get to the bottom of why the signs in my neighborhood to "stay calm & punch nazis" bother me so much. (The video going around of the act itself is a different thing.)
You know? What am I seeing that alarms me?

Last night Marz and I got talking about the Trickster character--the chaotic force that upends normalcy.
It can be a force for
evil (the Joker in Batman),
neutral  (Captain Mal Reynolds in Firefly),
or good--Jesus, for instance, literally turning the tables on the established order.

"Christ Overturning the Money Changers' Tables"by Stanley Spencer

This used to bother me because Jesus is not nice. But Tricksters are not nice. 

The Trickster energy in itself is amoral: it doesn't care. And you can't control it.
That's why I'm so alarmed to see it called up as a political strategy. 
Marz said I'm an idealist, and yes, I believe politics ideally should be rational, Apollonian, not chaotic, Dionysian. That this usually is not, in fact, the case isn't a counter-argument.
And the signs in my neighborhood were put up by a local political group, I've discovered. 

Here's a thing: the group's very lack of creative originality (that tired old "stay calm" meme, the cliché of nazis) makes me think they are unwitting tools of chaos. Of course propaganda is not trying to be creative, it's not, you know, trying to convey complicated realities. It's stupid, on purpose, and it appeals to our stupid selves.
I get its appeal, but I object to it.
I'm like: Guys, no! DON'T release the Kraken!

Chaos is slippery like mercury---it doesn't stay in the channels you make for it. (The god Mercury is a Trickster.)

From Carl Jung:
"The trickster figure is represented in normal man by counter-tendencies in the unconscious that appear whenever a man feels himself at the mercy of apparently malicious accidents; this character component is the shadow."
That is exactly what I'm seeing in the posters: 
they are calling for chaos [chaotic violence] in reaction to the maliciousness we feel ourselves subjected to.
The poster-makers think they are calling up chaos for the good.
But chaos doesn't work that way. As Heath Ledger's Joker says:
"You know the thing about chaos? It's fair."

_________________________ *Helen Lock, (author of "Transformations of the Trickster") is an associate professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she teaches and writes on American, African American, and ethnic literature.

6 comments:

ArtSparker said...

Not very surprisingly, I agree with you lots. I would add that it is a choice between burn it down and work on upholding the rules in place for the judiciary branch (booooring) to keep the non-utopian democracy we live in going along. Rules are boring, sanity is boring, reason is boring, patience is boring. In the past, burning it down mostly works for those retaining control of the flame throwers, though.

Of the executive branch has ADD, it behooves the citizens to focus.

ArtSparker said...

Er, I meant "If" not "Of".

Fresca said...

SPARKER: LOL: "Not very surprisingly, I agree with you lots."

Yes, yes, yes:
you perfectly say something else I've been thinking:
good politics is boring.

It SHOULD be boring.
It should be for people with the patience to be civil servants.
I don't mean they are boring, but they are willing and able do the boring work of running a civilized [boring] political system so the rest of us can get on with our lives.

The heroes of my life are the folks who keep the sewer system running.

Frex said...

One more quote from Helen Lock, on the power of the Trickster, an *excellent* power, just not one you want running your government:

"“The true Trickster’s trickery calls into question fundamental assumptions about the way the world is organized, and reveals the possibility of transforming them (even if often for ignoble ends)”.

Frex said...

P.P.P.S. And, the obvious glaring thing I didn't say:
Trump is a trickster.

The Joker is in charge.

And now I'm getting to my work, of which I have a lot.

ArtSparker said...

Noted! Won't tempt you to further comment at this time.