The True Fool


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Suffolk, England
I've just been reading that short article on "The True Fool". Was it a reference to something? The whole thing doesn't really make sense to me.

It is very important to recognise the positive aspects of the Fool and work with them. The negative aspects lead not to a Fool but foolishness and despondances - beware not to keep your gifts for yourself.

Surely a fool is defined by foolishness. Those negative aspects that "lead not to a Fool but foolishness", by definition do lead to a Fool. Or is there another meaning to the word fool, other than someone who is foolish, or a fruit puree? Was it actually an acronym? [lol] But seriously though, surely if one figures out he or she is a fool, then this knowledge at least goes some way to making them wise. This is somewhat paradoxical in that the realisation that one is a fool, may the the one thing that stops them being such. Similarly - Any despondancy would sure be due to the realisation that you are indeed a fool. Again somewhat paradoxically, the despondancy is once again brought about by a wisdom of sorts, not a negative aspect in any way.

What are the positive connotations of the word fool?

Did I miss the point? Am I being a fool?

I Pity The Fool

The Fool who knows that he is a Fool demonstrates wisdom, but the Fool who thinks himself a wise man demonstrates folly.

The Fool who demostrates the wisdom is no longer a fool.
It's because I'm referring to the Fool as a symbol, which is very hard to explain.

I did make a quick "chatty" post about the issue, but really I explained it best in "Chronicles of Empire", during a conversation between Erin and Ali. See if this helps:

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   “And that is why I call myself Ali!” the man suddenly cheered, brushing the black skin on his cheek with his fingers. “For I am a fool, an alyph; a man of Alithidel: I am Ali!” Ali bowed, rising briefly from his chair to do so.

   Erin frowned with puzzlement at Ali’s manner of humour. “Is that not a harsh name to choose for yourself?” Erin asked.

   “Harsh? Oh, no! It is sublime!” Ali chortled, as he seated himself again.

   Erin appeared confused. “Why?”

   Ali kept on laughing and then calmed himself. “Ah, the explanation I fear, would be a long one.”

   Erin looked about at the crowds of the Lion Inn and then returned a friendly gaze to Ali. “I have time,” Erin stated.

   “Time? Hah! And there is another long explanation!” Ali declared. “But, perhaps, another time? Hah! But, my apologies, I digress!” he said, folding his arms and leaning himself upon the table, as if collecting his thoughts. Then he returned to gaze at Erin. “Have you ever wondered why people laugh? Why humour is so among us all?”

   Erin paused, sitting thoughtful a moment, before replying; “Is it not a way of saying ‘I am with you’, a form of social bonding?” he suggested, gesticulating quickly after. “That is, of course, if you are laughing with people. If you are laughing at someone it is like saying ‘I am not with you’. But the usual response is to laugh with people,” Erin nodded.

   “Indeed, a thoughtful answer! Yet not the beginning I was looking for!” Ali replied. “Let me start again. The fool as an archetype, a you know what this means? How such a thing is described?”

   Erin sat back with a thoughtful expression, his arms folded. Then he smiled and looked up. “I could suggest an answer, but I have a feeling that you have a prepared one to give?”

   “Prepared? No!” Ali exclaimed with a friendly manner. “But give your reply...please, it will help me understand is knowledge!” he cheered.

   Erin smiled almost nervously and raised his palms. “If you wish. The fool as a it not an expression of folly, of thoughtlessness...the piper before the crowd and the calm before the storm? A person of deceit and mistrust … one in the manner of an idiot?”

   Ali laughed heartily. “Is this myself? Hah! Perhaps it is to some!”

   “Oh, my apologies,” Erin gasped at the table, as the hearth blazed warmly behind themselves in the Lion Inn. “I did not mean yourself,” Erin continued. “I was more...trying to find a definition of sorts. In the abstract, so to speak. I most certainly was not thinking of you.”

   “Ah!” Ali grinned. “I am sat here before you and yet you think not upon me? Is this because you thought upon an idiot or a fool? Hah!”

   Erin opened his mouth and then closed it.

   “My apologies, Erin! I am being, how you might say, a tease with the word games! But the fool indeed,” Ali nodded. “Let me suggest another view. In the beginning of thought, ask yourself, how are ideas transferred?”

   Erin paused briefly and then replied; “Through communication...language?”

   “Indeed, yes,” Ali agreed, his voice low and thoughtful. “Yet how does a man accept another’s idea, one that may benefit himself in a form that he himself cannot yet see and therefore appreciate?”

   Erin furrowed his brow. “How do you mean?” he asked.

   Ali clasped his hands together. “Well...think upon the ladders of social organisation,” he answered. “We have our rulers and leaders; the men of power, and then a gradual spreading of power down to the common man. We go through life finding our niches, our scope for potential as best filled...everyone has their place. Yet now realise that the king upon his pyramid of power will not see how his kingdom operates at the base unless he visits it himself. Now imagine that a subordinate, a common man, so to speak, were to experience an idea, a notion to be tested that may be of some benefit to all. Let us suppose that this idea is learning...knowledge through insight. Now how may such a man approach the kings without violating authority?”

   “I still do not understand,” Erin spoke, gently answering Ali’s narrative.

   “Well,” Ali smiled, “when a king sits upon a throne he knows that he can only sit upon it as long as he is able to fend himself from rivals. Think upon history; how the houses and lines of kings, dukes and other titles have bickered amongst themselves and facilitated wars, all in a way to accumulate wealth and retain it. Think upon the risings of history; internal politics as a threat to a power, and the marches of the peaceful being perceived as threats. All these a ruler may be fearful of, for the nature of rule is to know that it is finite and therefore can be taken from you!”

   Erin lightly shook his head. “You are beginning to lose me now,” he apologised.

   “Then, in a word,” Ali smiled, “for you, they are suspicious! Now hearken upon the earlier notion of how a man may help others through his learning. Yet there is problem: if that man goes before such thrones then those who are seated there may view such a man with suspicion. They may regard him with a slanted eye and a hand withdrawn, fearful of their loss of rule. For in the learning may come notions the kings do not understand, and in this the man does not so much as to question their authority, as to demonstrate a king’s fallibility; with thus states his mortality and limitation of rule. And so the man must find a way to tell his tale without arousing defensive instinct or laying false claim to titles unearned. Therefore the common man must find a way to make all agree. He must become a fool! Erin, what is laughing?”

   Erin started a little, not expecting the question.

   “As you said earlier?” Ali prompted.

   “Erm...‘I am with you’,” Erin answered awkwardly.

   “Indeed!” Ali stated, framing the word with parallel fingers. “‘I am with you’! So the fool, by way of ease and diplomacy, must make the other laugh! He must make himself laugh, and with others, so that the people will say ‘I am with you’; and the common man will say ‘I am with you’ and the throne will say ‘I am with you’! For only the fool can offer true learning to the kings of the world, for in this he does not lay claim to the powers nor does he claim supremacy over the kings...except as a fool! Yet in every joke there is a truth of some description; a revealment of the self and in that find agreement in others. For this is the secret of the fool: for while he gives people truths to behold they laugh at themselves and with each other, forgetting that they are told truth! And herein lies the power of the fool: for while his voice is clear and loud and makes people to humour, with those truths he can shape ideas, and bring other voices to express these ideas in agreement. If it is a popular truth, then it will grow, like a living organism, for ideas are like living beings and they grow and they breed and live inside the minds of men and mutate thus! Ideas are expressions of consciousness and consciousness is an expression of life. They are the same principle re-addressed in different forms. And this is how the fool changes the world; to recognise an idea and put it into the mind of society, for in this he may yet give new life to the world by manipulating the will of others towards his own perspective. Yet why does the fool does this? Why does he endeavour to place truth in laughter? Why does he not take his life in the shelter like the others? Why indeed, should he not compel himself instead to wife and work so? Because he is a fool! And this is the truth of the fool: for the fool understands his place in the world, and the size of his life within the universe! For this he laughs at the folly of fear, and the great King of Fear...death! Yet the fool is the shaman, the teacher of secrets, shepherd of truths and the keeper of knowledge: he stands before a pack of cards as a joker and stands behind a king as a clown! The true fool knows that death is but change as is all existence! In this he has no regard for his life for he accepts his surroundings and smiles. And the people call him a fool, for he laughs at death as others dare not! He accepts all that is and opens himself to his fate, his responsibility: to cheer those about him; to fill them with tales of deed of legend; to make them drink from the cups of lore; to give them tales of song and truth; and most of all, give them wisdom! Yet if he does not make them laugh so, how will they hear to listen?”

   “Yes,” nodded Erin. “But what about the suggestion that all people are fools?”

   Ali laughed. “Indeed! Indeed! Perhaps this could be said to be so! But there is also a wisdom from Jemenica that states: the fool who knows that he is a fool may practice wisdom, but the fool who thinks that he is a wise man demonstrates folly! Hopefully, I am with the former!” Ali cheered, pausing a moment. “Perhaps there is also the other notion in addition to this that discriminates between different actions: for there is the good fool, who makes others laugh with him; and the bad fool, who makes others laugh at him. The distinction is not always so clear, but at least I am now making you think on fools, and not on idiots!”
Are you familiar with Shakespeares "Twelfth Night"? There's an important character in there called "Feste (the Jester)" who is filled with wise and witty one-liners to speak across his somewhat confused queen*. This is an example of a Fool (note the distinction of meaning made by Upper Case and lower case letters).

Also, sometime in the history of Egypt (sorry! I forgot the kingdom it applies to! Probably the Third Kingdom) during one of the various festivals (harvest?) a play would be performed before the Pharoah. This play was about Egypt and I'm sure the Pharoah would be repersented on stage. Anyway, during this play, a character who was a Fool would tell the Pharoah all the things he was doing wrong -in effect, the Fool was a way to get the feelings of the people here expressed, but done so as harmlessly as possible.

However, there is always a risk involved. Essentially 'the Fool' is a wise character who sometimes plays an entertaining/comedic role in order to get their message across. But the ultimate foolishness of the Fool is that they sacrifice themselves to get this message across.

Or perhaps the following link would better help explain it - from the internet books of shadows:

The Gifts of the Fool

Hope that's not too much information given. ;)
Not too much info at all. I was simply confusing the distinction between Fool and fool. Makes sense now - thanks. :)
LOL! I guess it could've been said more succinctly, but I didn;t know how to - certainly in the morning. ;)
And I'll chime in with a quick addendum: "The Fool" is one of the basic archetypes of the human unconscious. The Fool is also the first card in the Major Arcana in the Tarot--card#0--which relies heavily on arechetypes. Positive aspects include setting out on an adventure, seeing things through new eyes, innocence, and even divine protection.
I too have a weakness and admiration for Fools, but what would you expect of a Christian posting in a Wiccan forum? ;)

To me, a Fool is one who has deliberately discarded at least some of the standards of the conventional world to seek and speak a higher Wisdom. Traditionally, a Fool could say things no one else could. Such a person could surely think them. A Fool is someone who tries that which has never been tried, because no one even thought that such a thing could exist. There is a magical combination of seriousness and laughter, of weight and light in a Fool. Paradoxes become paradigms, and contradictions become supports to a new idea. Does this make sense to anyone?

Wiping off my Fool's paint, I can recommend two good books which have Fools as lead characters, one a mystery novel, and one science fiction. The mystery novel is To Play the Fool by Laurie King; the science fiction novel is Sarah Zettel's Fool's War.

Who hopes one day to rise high enough to be considered a Fool.
[quote author=WHKeith link=board=6;threadid=109;start=msg804#msg804 date=1055946158]
And I'll chime in with a quick addendum: "The Fool" is one of the basic archetypes of the human unconscious. The Fool is also the first card in the Major Arcana in the Tarot--card#0--which relies heavily on arechetypes. Positive aspects include setting out on an adventure, seeing things through new eyes, innocence, and even divine protection.

Bill, would it be too much to ask to suggest that you list off the major arcana and a short explanation of the archetypical symbology you see in each? I know that's a big bite of prose, but for those of us who are Jung at heart ;) it would be most helpful.
The Fool is certainly a figure I can closely identify with. Maybe that's an act of fooloshness, though?

I placed a short explanation of the concept on this site in the articles section:

The True Fool

Again, though, do note the great short piece written on the figure from the Internet Book of Shadows:

Gifts of the Fool

As to the actual Major Arcana of the Tarot - there's an interesting Tarot site here which lists and refers to them:

The Pythagorean Tarot

I find that site interesting as a resource as it actually tackles the mythology and symbolism behind each card in more than reasonable depth.

And to help keep this thread on topic, here's what the Pythagorean Tarot has to say about the Fool:

The Fool

Hope that helps. :)
I won't enter into the discussion of 'The Fool' because I am sure most others here could express whatever it is I feel, or believe in this regard, better than I.

However, I would like to suggest another book (series) that includes a Fool as an integral character. The Fool in these novels is almost a reflection of the main character's introspection. A very fascinating character, The Fool, and in later series set in the same world, actually becomes a major player. The story related in the first post immediately brought this character to mind. I don't know if this is a excerpt from a novel in print, a work in progress or just a conversation created to convey a concept. Can anyone let me in on this? If it is a work in progress, the progress seems to be progressing well, IMHO.

Series of which I typed: The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Quote: "Bill, would it be too much to ask to suggest that you list off the major arcana and a short explanation of the archetypical symbology you see in each? I know that's a big bite of prose, but for those of us who are Jung at heart it would be most helpful."

LOL. Hi, Polycarp!

That is a mouthful. Maybe we should start a new thread, though, instead of hijacking this one?
I included some links regarding the Tarot in this thread, but I'm sure there's also a Tarot thread somewhere around. Feel free to start a new one, though, if more suitable - especially if you'd like to adderss Jungian ideas directly.

dwndrgn, than you very much for the compliment. It is rare I post my material about these days. Chronicles of Empire is a work in progress, but still years from publication. It requires destructive editing first, before it's even eligible for the publishing process. I'm sure I won't be quiet about it when it comes out, though. :)
You are welcome. I enjoyed reading it. I clicked on your link in your reply and got tons of error messages, here's a portion of the page:

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Thanks for the warning. Was working earlier. Hopefully it's just a php upgrade error - in which case I can repair the site tomorrow. If not - well, then I may have to finally move the site from its current host. It'll be annoying if that;s the case - especially if I've lost this month's stats as well.