ALMOST AT TIMES, A FOOL—

ALMOST AT TIMES, A FOOL—
WE WISH . . . HUMANITARIAN CLOWNING:
THE WISE FOOL AND OTHER WISDOM ROLES

 

THE POETRY SLOW DOWN
RADIO MONTEREY.COM
Dr. Barbara Mossberg
Produced by Sara Hughes
July 6, 2014
© Barbara Mossberg 2014

livestreamed Noon-1 pm Sunday July 6, 2014, podcast at BarbaraMossberg.com

Music:

Gordon Lightfoot( Wherefore and Why . . .hello sunshine, what do you make of me. . . ); Send in the Clowns; What Kind of Fool Am I?; Fools Rush In

 

If you slow down, to make the metaphoric morning last, and let the morning time shed all its petals on you, feeling groovy, that just may be the fool in you, your inner wise guy. That would be a good thing! So why don’t we wise up and hear it for the poetry to invoke your inner fool? That’s the theme of our show this week, on the poetry of humanitarian clowning, and wise fools: how from the beginning of time, we’ve given the roles and rules and lines of wisdom to the so-called fool, who at times is elevated to a formal job title, with benefits and official dress. When King Lear is in crisis and says, is there anyone here who can tell me who I am, it’s his loyal fool who answers, speaking truth to power. Shakespeare, comedy or tragedy, makes the fool central to heroic vision and action and knowledge. T.S. Eliot has his J. Alfred Prufrock identify with the fool. Whether e.e. cummings’ balloon man or Andy Brown’s fool and the physician, poets give special voice to the speaker of wisdom. Lincoln and Thoreau and John Muir and Joyce Kilmer et. al., might use fools to indicate a person who’s not thinking, but there is something about the idea of a fool, a clown, a jester, a buffoon, who can make us laugh, or make us see irony, or absurdity, who can look with eyes open and straight ahead—if we think about the difference between tragic and comic masks—who somehow has our permission to dare to articulate something true—as Emily Dickinson wrote, tell all the truth but tell it slant—success in circuit lies—the truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind: the fool or clown may be the designated driver of human interactions—the designated truth giver . . . We’ll hear wits hold forth:

“I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool.” ― Kurt Vonnegut; “A man learns to skate by staggering about and making a fool of himself. Indeed he progresses in all things by resolutely making a fool of himself.”

George Bernard Shaw, Advice To A Young Critic; we’ll hear the reverend John Donne, and Tagore, Jack Spicer, Cornelius Eady, Shel Silverstein, Stephen Dunn, Lyn Hejinian, Shakespeare, Kip Bertrand, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and others, and we’ll hear about Patch Adams’ work on humanitarian clowning. The next time someone calls you a fool, you may bow humbly, and say, why thank you; I do my best. So let’s slow down with our Poetry Slow Down, and start fooling around . . . .

© Barbara Mossberg 2014

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