means that unchanging demarcations between wisdom and foolishness, between order and disorder, and between king and fool are lost.
The strangely dressed fool is indeed identifiable, but whether he is fop, innocent, trickster, or wise fool, he either recognizes or unconsciously focuses upon the foolishness around him in individuals, groups, rules, and social and ideological arrangements. The illustration in The Praise of Folly by Hans Holbein the Younger of the fool gazing in a handheld mirror at his reflection that mocks him with outstretched tongue has become a commonplace. It has been interpreted in a variety of ways: as an image of self-absorption and vanity, duality, or the unending jest of human existence. It may also be an icon of the fool and humankind staring at one another. Which one is the fool? Some clues: The fool is the one focused on the physical, both his own physical pleasure and the natural world. He is the one who uses language to alter perceptions, and he seems both involved in and alienated from the prevailing social structure, participating but always commenting and evaluating. While he himself rejects clear analysis, he cannot cease to raise questions that end only in aporetic paradox. Does this help to distinguish the fool from the rest of humankind?
For the millennia of their existence, fools have served very much as deconstructionist philosophy did in the 1970s and 1980s. Like deconstruction, fools embody a resistance to clear meaning. For example, Derrida develops intentionally such terms as "difference" and "supplementarity" in order to "disturb" our complacent acceptance of meaning in human language. Thus in describing the confusion wrought by language, Derrida offers confusion in language itself. He sculpts language so that it both represents itself and is itself, like the rhetorical figure synecdoche. An analogous figure is the strange and inscrutable fool whose very presence reminds us to question formulaic answers. Such answers arise continuously, inevitably, fulfilling what Plato considered humankind's unique need: the desire to know. The fool, then, a synecdochal figure, both is and represents. He is the primeval condition that churns and rumbles within us all as we seek to know, and he represents the ground that assures us that we do not.