Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Fool

Going back to this post and the 3 following re: Bryant's comments on Lacan's 'plus-one,' something has been nagging my subconscious about it. Bryant's description of the +1 as an empty function that doesn't participate in the discussion, and has no special knowledge of the topic discussed, yet functions to focus discussion enough for participants to make a decision reminds me of a couple of things.

One, the role of facilitator. In a recent work group we had a professional facilitator that knew nothing about our specialized, professional topic. The discussion went this way and that, with various experts waxing eloquently on various tangents. The facilitator had a syllabus of topics and goals and kept interrupting to bring the focus back to those tracks and goals by clarifying what someone said and separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of aforesaid structure by organizing the content and writing it on the whiteboard. This prevented endless sidetracking and dominant voices while keeping the discussion focused and allowing for consensus decisions.

The other thing that has been nagging me is the role of the Fool in Tarot. See this wiki, for example. Like Lacan's empty function, the Fool traditionally was neither a member of the regular cards, the court cards or the Trumps. S/he (hermaphroditic) wasn't so much a category unto itself but rather a condition for the categories/cards. This is why it is assigned the number 0. In pre-Golden Dawn decks, i.e, pre-occult symbolism, the Fool is a pauper that carries whatever minimal possessions s/he has on a pole. Often his/her clothes are tattered, an apt depiction of our modern homeless with their shopping carts. S/he is one who doesn't participate in our conventional culture, the job, family, house, etc.

More like the wandering ascetics of bygone India. Meaning when one intentionally chose that path, not the millions of poor destitute that now roam India's streets and countrysides. So in that sense our Fool is not poor by an unjust system so much as by choice, that s/he has the resources to be whatever s/he wants, to assume the role of any card in the deck, but instead chooses this empty place holder in the deck. S/he reminds us of that empty capacity in each of us that can fulfill/full any role or place when necessary, sort of like differance/khora. It's a function that can trump even the Trumps. And perhaps by keeping this in mind it keeps our decisions open, contingent, knowing that they may be good enough given the present circumstances but that they can change in an instant when circumstances change. It's sort of a paradox that we can be certain about uncertainty and change. And that we are mere fools to suppose otherwise in playing out our typical roles/cards.

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