Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Vicki K. Janik; Emmanuel S. Nelson | Go to book overview
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can neatly divide the social universe. That is not what they were intended to do. As clowns are constantly reminding us, all typologies are fallible. As William Willeford has noted, "The fool breaks down the boundary between chaos and order, but he also violates our assumption that that boundary was where we thought it was and that it had the character we thought it had" (108).

Steward knew that there were problems with his categories, and he admitted to considerable overlap, but this did not give him cause to discard them as insignificant. Indeed, Steward would probably agree with Paul Friedrich: "[A]ll representation is misrepresentation, but there is truth in some misrepresentation" (quoted in Combs-Schillingxiv).

Steward's categories do hold up well to their intended purpose: they "provide a least common denominator to the humor of the world and thus clear the ground for sounder psychological theorizing" ( Ceremonial Buffoon187). Through exploring these universal themes, we will gain a better understanding of how culture and society influence "what is laughable" (187), and, through the process, we may use our perceptions of the fool on the outside to better discern, laugh at, and learn from the fool that is within.


NOTES
1
Walker56.
2
Gluckman may have confused Will Sommers with Richard Tarlton when he named Will Tarletonas court jester for Elizabeth I ( Politics103).

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Askenasy J. J. M. "The Functions and Dysfunctions of Laughter". Journal of General Psychology 114.4 ( October 1987): 317-334.

Barnouw Victor Culture and Personality. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1985.

Boyd Tom W. "Clowns, Innocent Outsiders in the Sanctuary: A Phenomenology of Sacred Folly". Journal of Popular Culture 22.3 ( 1988): 101-109.

Chagnon Napoleon A. Yanomamö. 1968. 4th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992.

Clifford James, and George E. Marcus. Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley: U of California P, 1986.

Combs-Schilling, M. E. Sacred Performances. New York: Columbia UP, 1989.

Crapanzano Vincent. "Hermes' Dilemma". In Writing Culture, ed. James Clifford and George E. Marcus. Berkeley: U of California P, 1986.

DeVita Philip R. ed. The Naked Anthropologist: Tales from around the World. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1992.

Geertz Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Gluckman Max. Custom and Conflict in Africa. Oxford: Basil Blackwell & Mott, 1956.

----. Politics, Law, and Ritual in Tribal Society. Chicago: Aldine 1965.

Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R. "The Organizational Fool: Balancing a Leader's Hubris". Human Relations 43.8 ( 1990): 751-770.

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