Defiance and Boundaries and Trickery

Posted: September 9, 2010 in Myths and Legends

When I write, I am often inspired by the Trickster, that ancient archetypal mischief-maker. In whatever form he takes, the Trickster clowns and thieves, but he as often crosses boundaries, breaks rules, disrupts the status-quo, and challenges gods and powers and beliefs. The Trickster’s misdeeds are rarely crimes but rather acts of playfully intelligent trouble. We humans have always created and been drawn to Trickster figures because we also are compulsive rule- and boundary-makers. We endlessly categorize the world – and ourselves – by race, sex, beliefs, behavior, geography, and thousands of other criteria. And yet the more we define ourselves and our lives by rules and forces and classifications, the more we need the relief of figures who mash-up categories, traverse the borders, and confuse our careful distinctions.

Thus, paraphrasing the immortal Gordon Gekko, mischief is good. And mischief is fun.

Now, I’m no anarchist and far from radical. Hobbes had it right in saying that without communal laws and agreements, our state of existence would be really wretched. Further, beliefs seem to me like air for our souls. However, even the best rules and beliefs need questioning, and some need outright defiance. Rules and beliefs are ultimately creations of humanity, and thus will often be as imperfect as we are. A lot of them need to be challenged in our institutions or in the streets, but I’ve frankly never been a very effective Trickster in either. They’re also really tough venues for storytelling. But in realm of the imagination, well, here I can clown, challenge and explore the sacred and accepted, entertain, and, just maybe, change some minds. Here I can make some mischief.

So welcome to my little outpost on that ever-fluid horizon between art and trash, known and unknown, assumed and proven and imagined, and the sacred and profane.

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