Monday, February 1, 2010

foolish fools

foolish fools
"...that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool."
- the great gatsby

'foolish' isn't a word people find difficult to define. if you asked a handful of folks how they would describe the term you would often hear, 'unwise'- 'stupid'- 'impulsive'- 'rash'- or 'the 2002 platinum selling album by ashanti'; you would be hard pressed to find any one that would willingly accept the title of 'fool', much less embrace it, or bestow it upon themselves. generally people use the noun form in a disparaging way- implying that one who is a fool is stupid. now, i wont argue the definition, but the connotation of the word 'fool' (at least in my world) is someone who is willing to be a little reckless, be a bit naive, maybe even throw caution to the wind and be thoughtless- but all in the name of being personally free. i don't find any shame in occasionally being labeled a fool, (because we all know everybody plays the fool- sometimes.) for me, its about balance- when one can blend sanity with complete chaos- that makes the fool a god.

i'm no stranger to the title of 'fool'. i feel as if you have any amount of zest to you, that people refer to you as such without batting an eyelash. whilst growing up i was often told to stop acting foolish, 'people are staring at you-', 'stop dancing like that'. years pass, then i was rewarded for my foolishness come my senior year of high school when i was voted 'class clown'. as if life at 17 isn't challenging enough, now i had to deal with the internal struggle of whether to fight my foolish fate, or simply embrace it. at about 20 years old, the term took on a different meaning for me. i became much more introspective, philosophical, open minded and on a constant search for new information to saturate my mind sponge. it was during this time i began to read about tarot cards, one in particular caught my eye from early on. as most tarot cards, the meaning is interpretive, but the basic story surrounding it is:

"The Fool settles beneath a tree, intent on finding his spiritual self. There he stays for nine days, without eating, barely moving. People pass by him, animals, clouds, the wind, the rain, the stars, sun and moon. On the ninth day, with no conscious thought of why, he climbs a branch and dangles upside down like a child, giving up for a moment, all that he is, wants, knows or cares about. Coins fall from his pockets and as he gazes down on them - seeing them not as money but only as round bits of metal - everything suddenly changes perspective. It is as if he's hanging between the mundane world and the spiritual world, able to see both. It is a dazzling moment, dreamlike yet crystal clear. Connections he never understood before are made, mysteries are revealed.

But timeless as this moment of clarity seems, he realizes that it will not last. Very soon, he must right himself, and when he does, things will be different. He will have to act on what he's learned. For now, however, he just hangs, weightless as if underwater, observing, absorbing, seeing."

should we really regard the fool as a mere jester? or is the fool only 'foolish' to those around him because they don't see the world in the same way? my grandmother thinks my having an email address is foolish, and she has just mastered her answering machine (and by 'master' i mean 'is able to retrieve her messages unassisted'). sure, thats neither here nor there, but it does point out something valid- i'm foolish to her because she doesn't understand the way in which i utilize the internet. i, in turn, think she is foolish for sometimes smelling like mothballs and old people- it's all a matter of perspective, my friends.

charles manson once said, “look down at me and you see a fool; look up at me and you see a god; look straight at me and you see yourself.” {AN ASIDE: i don't generally reference convicted felons in my blog,( or those who have been found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, as it where) i try to appear as normal as possible but i won't deny that i have a healthy fascination with those who personify evil.. i'm not a killer- nor did i abuse animals as a child- i plainly find the behaviors we, as humans, choose to exhibit fascinating.} manson may have been a man who was haunted by many demons but his words still plant seeds of thought within me. what sprouted from the aforementioned quote? that we all have the capacity to judge those around us and claim some sort of superiority over them when in reality we are all the same. self proclaimed gods, foolish mortals, whatever you classify yourself as- you are no different from me, and nor i you.

and yet, as those trite words tumble from my brain to your computer screen, i find myself second guessing them. in one breath i state 'we are all the same, there is no natural hierarchy', and in another i chant 'we are all dynamically different, in beautifully explosive ways.' i guess i can agree that the two aren't mutually exclusive per se, even if they are contractions. we can be completely different while understanding that we are inherently the same.

being foolish can be a blissful state of allowing the coat of conformity slip off; it can be a time when one is truly open to new ideas without the shroud of judgement skewing ones vision; it can be a moment of unadulterated freedom. so the only question left to ask is, can you allow yourself to be a fool?


  1. okay ... now that my thoughts are in order: LOVE.
    I'm pretty sure that, if we lived in the same town, we'd be friends. I love your blog: I love the discussion. You and I have parallel thoughts and I always look forward to your posts. Love it.

  2. I suppose, if you really think about it, being a fool is relative, because someone can only be labeled a fool when another does so...

    and since there is no legit proof of foolishness, particularly from a social-science point of view (since social science can never be proven with solid facts, just blind surveys and tests on random subjects), then the label itself is subjective in nature, not objective. Anything subjective automatically loses its credibility, at least, in my opinion.

    "Can you allow yourself to be a fool?"

    Ashley, I don't really think any of us have a choice in the matter. Someone else is always going to find a reason to call us foolish, despite the lack of proof, despite the lack of objectivity. Whether we allow it or not, someone is going to think ill of us, for some reason or another.

    Aye, aye, aye, this tangled web we weave.

  3. WOW. I am at a loss for words(well obviously not an actual loss because i said that, I digress) haha