Sat 30 Apr, 2022 09:09 am
The Fool is the sole card from the major arcana to feature in a modern pack of playing cards surviving as the Joker.
It keeps the same value as that which it had inside of the major arcana, that of zero.
It exists outside of the main pack, most card games omit up completely, but now and again the joker is incorporated into card games, and when it is, it can have any value projected onto it.
The major arcana, what most people know as the Tarot, represent a wheel, starting with and ending with the Fool, value zero, as with today's playing cards it is both of and outside of the rest of the pack.
In a nutshell the Fool starts out knowing nothing and as the circle progresses he attains further wisdom, snd misfortune until realising he was better off being a fool.
The concept of the holy/wise Fool is quite an ancient one.
What I want this thread to be about is the depiction/role of fools in literature and in history.
I would like to discuss theatrical roles of fools like Feste in 12th Night and Touchstone from As You Like It.
Also the role in literature of fools influencing monarchs, the rich and powerful.
And real life fools like Joseph Grimaldi, celebrated Regency clown beloved of Royalty and a friend of Lord Byron.
This is going to take some thinking.
As I understand it, the fool or the jester in the king's court was the only person who could publicly tell him the truth because everybody thought he was crazy.
Northland exposure goes back a ways but there was one character, Adam, who was the genius/fool.
Adam (Adam Arkin) is an abrasive, ungroomed, misanthropic, bilious, cantankerous and colorful "genius" gourmet chef who may or may not have worked for the CIA in the past, which may explain how he has so much information about everyone. He lives off the grid and in the woods, and was first introduced as a mythic legend figure, something akin to Bigfoot. People in Cicely spoke of him as a tall-tale figure at first. Adam usually has a chip on his shoulder and offers an offensive rebuttal to anyone who compliments him. He is married to Eve. Arkin directed one of the episodes in the fourth season.
The above post referred to the show Northern Exposure not Northland exposure.
In Dostotevsky's book, Crime and Punishment, Sonia, a prostitute, is portrayed as the most moral person in the book though society would portray her as the least moral. She also guides Raskolnikov toward redemption. Lushin, a capitalist, is portrayed as having no redeeming value whatsoever. In our culture he would be a success and looked up to.
The two examples I was thinking of are both from BBC adaptations. The most recent is The Tudors with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII.
There is one scene where Henry shuts himself away and refuses to talk to anyone other than his fool.
The other one was from Ivanhoe, sometime around the 80s and 90s. In the final scene where King Richard is triumphant and giving out justice the Fool plays anitegral part.
Two traitors plead for their lives and Fichard let's the Fool decide if they live or die. He makes the right choice, the misguided idiot is allowed to live while the real traitor is condemned to death.
Feste is the fool in Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth and first performed in front of her court.
This is a prime example of the artist, Shakespeare, speaking directly to the monarch.
Feste is a very intelligent character, in the play he is quite famous as a fool. He is also able to step out of the play and deliver his lines straight at the audience.
At the beginning of the play his mistress, Countess Olivia, is in mourning due to the death of her brother, and she is angry with Feste for being absent without leave.
Feste does not act at all remorseful he is familiar with Olivia to the point of rudeness, and shocks her out of her melancholy.
He brings about a seed change, once he appears the whole mood lightens.
His main adversary is Olivia's steward Malvolio. He is a Puritan and Feste dislikes him because of that.
There is good reason to bad mouth Putitans, they wanted to shut theatres down, and after the Civil War, once Oliver Cromwell was in power they did close them down.
A lot of people know that when Shakespeare wrote his plays women were not allowed to perform on stage, and that all the roles were performed by men.
Many people don't know how strict the conditions were when Theatre was introduced with the restoration.
Theatre had been banned by the Puritans during the Interregnum, and the people were eager to see its return, but the government was keenly aware how theatre could be used to spread dissent and insurrection.
Women were allowed on stage, but only certain venues were licensed to perform plays, spoken words which had to be given the once over by authorities before being allowed to perform.
That didn't mean it was the only theatre available, the alternative was Pantomime.
I wonder if a few women managed to fool audiences into believing they were watching male performers.
I understand that's what Shakespeare in Love is About, which I've not seen.
It's also a running gag in the wonderful comedy series Upstart Crow which is all about Shakespeare, and well worth looking at.
Today Pantomime means something very different, in the UK at least, but this "Great British Tradition only goes back to Victorian times.
In short it is a retelling of a traditional Fairy tale like Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, or Peter Pan with lots of songs and jokes.
They tend to feature at Christmas,lots of audience participation and jokes based on current events. The big ones attract some big names, both Henry Winkler and David Hasselhoff have both starred in pantos over here.
Anyway Georgian pantomime is nothing like that.
Pantomime in Georgian times is derived from Commedia del 'Arte, a form of theatre that originated in Italy.
The theatre relied on a range of stock characters Pantelone, Dottore, Harlequin, Scaramouche etc.
Theses characters were familiar to the audience. It's a bit like watching a Carry on Film, regardless of who they're supposed to be playing Sid James is always Sid James and Kenneth Williams is always Keneth Williams.
There was a lot of improvisation and reliance on set pieces, the monologue one character delivers about his unrequited love for landlord's daughter could be turned into unrequited love for a milkmaid or a noble lady depending on the circumstances.
These characters became part of the theatrical landscape of Europe, and their influence is still with us. Harlequin is very much a feature at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, and the character of Punchinella survives in Punch and Judy shows.
These characters were the base of Georgian pantomime.
As theatre was highly censored there was very little place for satire which is why it fell to Pantomime.
There was no real dialogue, just spectacle singing and some poetry which meant that there wasn't really anything to censor, but in reality the cast drew parallels between what was happening to the characters on stage and what was happening in real life.
Lord Byron was a personal friend of renowned comic Joseph Grimaldi, and the Prince Regent was a great fan.
Back then the Royal Family involved itself in politics, the main rivalry in parliament echoed that of the Royals. The Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger was supported by King George III while his rival Charles James Fox had the support of the Prince of Wales.