Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"But water adds to this the dark mass of its own values; it carries off, but it does more: it purifies. Navigation delivers man to the uncertainty of fate, on water, each of us is in the hands of his own destiny; each embarkation is, potentially, the last. It is for the other world that the madman sets sail in his fools' boat; it is from the other world that he comes when he disembarks."

- Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization (p. 11)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Contemporary Fools...And a little of the self-referential thrown in

I was thinking over the last few days about who our modern fools are. I am not wholly convinced that we have lost something of the pure fool in today’s genres, let alone everyday life. The jester seems to have been replaced by the stand-up comic, but the best and most critical stand-up comics have an entirely different status and tone, closer to Mel Brooks' character of “stand-up philosopher” than a court jester.

Literature has its classic archetypes. Medieval writings have numerous instances of jesters or inversion rituals where the carnivalesque was used to safely mock the ruling class and nobility (cf. Bakhtin's Rabelais and His World, or for that matter see Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel). Pondering modern American fools, I kept getting stuck on three people/characters:

  • Kramer - A clownish physical comedic character who constantly flouts convention with a twisted sense of propriety and value. Yet, he constantly hatches schemes with their own internal logic which we find funny because there is a speck of genius amid, what my grandmother would refer to as, his mishagoss.
  • The Tick – Here is a superhero who is blind to everything except justice and the fight between good and evil. (“Like a great blue salmon of Justice, the mighty Tick courses upstream to the very spawning ground of evil.”) The Tick was a dumbass who was mighty. He spouted pseudo-philosophy and flowery soliloquies on that eternal fight of good v. evil.
  • George W. Bush – Without politicizing the example too much, W. has lived multiple fools’ lives during his presidency: Is he just a simpleton puppet who thinks he’s right and has the power to impose his simpleton’s will on others? Is he something of an Innocent who can only see in the world black and white, good and evil (not unlike The Tick, but less endearing)? Or is he the country bumpkin whose folk wisdom actually reveals the foolishness of the hapless, self-appointed and urbane (read: stereotypical liberal) intelligentsia? It depends on who you ask I suppose. He’s been cast into those different narratives by parties with different agendas.

* * * * *

As an aside, in the course of a little web perusing, I was delighted to find that at least one person thinks that I, your humble dramaturg, fits into one fool tradition, the jester. From "The Dramaturg: Modern Day Court Jester"

“A Dramaturg is many things rolled into one. They are part educator and part editor. They act as a supportive muse to the Artistic Director, and as a mischievous court jester. They are the theatre's internal critic, and their resident historian…Where the Business Manager will sit on one shoulder of the Artistic Director, cautioning and using monetary figures to promote the familiar, the Dramaturg impishly sits on the other, cajoling and gesturing to the stars.”

I don’t know if I buy his claims, but I’ll take them.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Basil was a Saint

This Saint was a Fool

A Fool needs to eat

- Foolagysms #1

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I found this one in the "Holy fool" Perhaps there is a sense in which each and every saint, even those who were scholars, would be regarded as insane by many in the modern world because of their devotion to a way of life that was completely senseless apart from the Gospel. Every saint is troubling. Every saint reveals some of our fears and makes us question our fear-driven choices

his is from a discription from a taro card and I also like that it went with the meeting last night The Fool The Fool is an innocent, bound on a journey he knows not where, with only the conviction that with optimism the greater good will prevail. The Fool has faith in himself to bring him through new experiences, as we must have faith in ourselves, knowing our hearts lead the way and where good intentions prevail, the correct path will become apparent. The Fool has little baggage, little preparation and his only muses are the little butterfly people who follow him, representing transformation and change, as well as his instincts for survival that will help him make his way through the weary world. He is a free spirit, an unformed personality ready to take on anything, climbing towards spiritual enlightenment. The Fool is on a journey, an adventure. He represents new and possibly unexpected changes in one's life to a new and uncharted territory. This territory may not be a physical change in location; it can be a new creative path, a new field of study or a new business opportunity. This change may be an adventure of some type that has a beginning and end, or it may be the kind of change that affects an entire lifestyle, but as in all changes it involves risk. The Fool can also represent foolish idealism, impulsive behavior, or extravagant and foolish choices.

- Anthony's Post
Hello! AD Luke here. During our first Fools meeting yesterday, I was struck by some notions which I wanted to share. Here they be.

"Who is more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?"

This line from Star Wars came to me as were discussing the different types of fools. I began to think about the heroic fool. Heroes tend to be foolish by nature, in the sense that they undertake tasks which the rest of the population view as impossible or 'foolhardy', if you will. When talking about heroes, people frequently comment, "He's either very brave or very foolish." Is it just the outcome which determines how we view the endeavour?

The heroic fools have a tendency to focus on one thing at the expense of all others. I am reminded of Lancelot in Python's Holy Grail, who slaughters dozens of wedding guests in his quest to free a troubled 'maiden'. Fools lack an understanding of consequence. I wonder if the opposite of this is the hero who sacrifices his own safety and personal desires for the greater good. (See Frodo). However, that also could be considered a foolish course of action in the eyes of a society which places high value on individualism and consummate self-fulfillment. The idea of a single-minded approach to life ties in with Dean's story about the autistic man who just wants to play football, despite being a musical and mathematical genius.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

John: I was afraid I was going to have to tell you I lost that winter cap you gave me. Luckily I just miss placed it. As soon as we would have walked out that door into the cold, I knew you would have asked, "where's your hat? It's cold out." And I'd have to tell you that all my coats have holes in the pockets. I quickly wear them thin because of all the random things I pack ino them. Except for the coat I am wearing right now which actually has pockets, but they are on such a strange angle that the contents tend to fall right out. I would have had to tell you that.
Tanya: You just did tell me that.
John: Yes, I know.
Tanya: You are a Fool, but I mean that as a compliment. A smart kind of fool. Funny.
John: But a fool nonetheless?
Tanya: Yes
John: I'm not offended.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My best friend Omar said to me many years ago, I can't remember in reference to what, but it was a general comment on the way I have of seeing the world, he said to me: "John you'd trip over a dollar picking up a quarter." It has stuck with me many many years later, he was trying to impart some advice, or just making me aware of the differences between him and I, between me and the rational world. What he really did was call me A Fool. And I accept that.

- John Pierson

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


One of the missions for this blog during the creation of The Fool (returns to his chair) is to post quotes and ideas we have from the ongoing collecting of information we are engaged in. This information is for the cast members to share easily with each other, but it is also to get feedback from anyone interested. By this I mean: If you see a quote or an idea listed that intrigues you or reminds you of something about your own life, feel free to write about it in the comments. If any of the thoughts are used in helping to form our show we will give you credit in the program.
Here are a few quotes I found during the study of The Holy Fool:

1: "We Russians ourselves often exclaim: 'What is going on? But, after all, what else can we expect in this country of fools?!'" - Elena Volkova

2: The Feast Of Fools offers an alternative paradigm, a moment of time in a system when the permanent and formal order is inverted, altered in favor of another temporary, carnivalesque structure based on folly and derision. - Victor Tuner

A. "Believe me, I won't stay, but I will go in the power of Christ; I will mock the world." Again his brother said to him, "No, good brother, please, for the Lord's sake, do not leave wretched me. For I have not yet reached this level, so that I can mock the world.
B. "Beware, please, lest when your face laughs, your mind be dissolved.
- The Life of Symeon The Fool by Leontius of Neapolis

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our Mission is to return the Fool to one of these,
And to perchance learn something in the process.

1: During the Roman Saturnalia all class distinctions were abolished, with slaves and their masters switching roles, and laws that normally governed sensible behavior virtually suspended.

2: Hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye and then look to take out the speck in your bother's eye.