Are Jesters Serious?

We have named ourselves jesters, appropriating the "foolish" mask of advisement. While you may or may not consider yourself particularly silly, we have found "play" in all shapes, forms, and guises to be one of the most important features of MOO.

Speaking of the role of the poet in relation to government, Gunter Grass said in "Writers as Poets":

When I consider the fools of Shakespeare and Velasquez, or let us say the dwarfish power components of the baroque age -- for there is a connection between fools and power, although seldom between writers and power -- I wish the literary court jester existed; and as we shall see, I know a number of writers who are well fitted for this political service. Except that they are far too touchy. Just as a housekeeper dislikes to be called a "cleaning woman," they object to being called fools. "Fool" is not enough. They want to be known to the Bureau of Internal Revenue as "writers"; nor do they wish to be ennobled by the title of poet. This self chosen middle -- or middle class--position enables them to turn up their noses at the disreputable, asocial element, the fools and the poets.

Is it then reasonable to call ourselves fools? Is it wise or indeed foolhardy to appropriate the voice Grass speaks to here, the actions of jester in Mikhail Bakhtin's carnival? Grass exhorts writers to come to terms with the power of the fool, to use the fool as a powerful advisory tool:

When helplessness lacks wit, it begins to snivel. And yet there is a great deal to do, more than can be expressed in manifestos and protests. But there are also a great many writers, known and unknown, who, far from presuming to be the "conscience of a nation" occasionally bolt from their desks and busy themselves with the trivia of democracy. Which implies a readiness to compromise. Something we must get through our heads is this: a poem knows no compromise, but men live by compromise. The individual who can stand up under this contradiction and act is a fool and will change the world. (CITE #)
Are we serious? Are we fools? Are we fooling ourselves in all seriousness?

No Snivelers Here
Considering Play: Some Serious Studies
MOO Forum Logs
Purpose, Serendipity and the Buddha

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Janet Cross

Kristian Fuglevik