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(For a list of all card articles, open March 2008 on the sidebar).

Friday, 7 March 2008

The Fool


hazy outline person, drawn by a child, hand unsteady, outline wavering in and out, only the face sharp and wild-eyed, wild.

no ground below his feet.

no sky above his head, a sun below the level of his eyes.

he could be nowhere.

(That was me looking at the Fool in the Intuitive Tarot)

I want to try not to write it. Put words on it, and it could disappear. Worse, it could appear, and then it wouldn't be the Fool.

The Fool is halfway off the precipice. Why? Who knows. The Fool comes to you without sense, when you least expect it, takes you places you've never been (or never seen like this before). You will never lose it, even when you think you've lost it.

It's that revolution that is always immanent. (but hey, more of that later).

In A Forest Of Souls, Rachael Pollack asked what the meaning of him being the zeroth was; before the first, or after the last? She decided it could mean that he is nothing and nowhere - he is not at the start or at the end, but in every crack, before and behind all cards, in the jump from each card to the next.

(NB: the Fool is not the Joker. The Fool was a trump in the medieval tarots, and was ditched at the same time as the other 21 trumps - the Joker was introduced in modern gambling, to create new game variants and new random elements. Jokers come in pairs; Fools come in nothingeths. The Joker's tricksiness is often considered to be a part of the Fool's character; use the connection if it works for you, but the roots are separate).

What I said about the Fool in 2005:

The Fool was the first little spark of light, and he'll be the last. Pollack was right, he's not just the beginning; he's between every step, behind every crack, and he's there to remind you that you do not and cannot know everything. He's there because you're mortal and uncertain and the universe is mortal and uncertain too. I find him most often on Swan Street; Mario so rarely lets you out of his sight without telling you something you didn't know about the universe, or showing you something you didn't see before. It never stops. The Fool transcends all barriers, bringing the spark to any corner it cares to. Like every single one of them it cannot be denied, and it is anywhere and everywhere and can only tell you either where it is, or which way it's going.

Rose, in her most recent letter, declared herself to have a mind like a photon on speed. It's that endless, dancing, reach for the new.

Images of the Fool

Yoshitaka Amano's Fool - I love the balance here, and the typically Amano confusion of form - the lower part of the image, feet and tail, are merely shape; by the time it reaches the top it has features, hands, posture. There's no hint of gender; the Fool is often taken to be a sort of Principal Boy, sex ambiguous or deliberately confounding. And those are some rock-hard arms. Anyone who can read the text on the pants can have mine.

Pamela Coleman Smith's Fool. Many elements of this image are present in later Fools: the dance on the edge of the precipice, the light bundle, the uncontrolled dog.

The Fool from the Roots of Asia Tarot. No, don't try to enlarge it, the image really is that small. I'll try to scan it sometime. The light of the world is in the heart of this Fool, and there's a confusion of elements around her - shapes of waves, of stones, of clouds, of lotus petals. No feet; they're below the card and below the waters.