Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art

Written by: Lewis Hyde

First line: The first story I have to tell is not exactly true, but it isn't exactly false, either.

Why you should read this book: With intuitive insight and engaging prose, Hyde examines the archetype of the Trickster as a driving force in the creation of culture: crossing boundaries, destroying boundaries, resetting boundaries, existing at the crossroads, and, above all, creating a third category when faced with a dichotomy. Relying on traditional examples such as tales of Coyote, Krishna, Eshu, Hermes, Raven, and Monkey, along with modern day artists such as John Cage, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Marcel Duchamp (plus a surprising and eye-opening examination of Frederick Douglas), this book discusses how Tricksters (and humans) can transcend the primal state of being "mere bellies" by mastering base urges, playing with meaning on the meta level, and acting as agents of re-creation in the face of stubborn tradition. Harnessing the power of the Trickster can lead artists to the creations of something completely new, either for the sake of novelty, or to influence social change, and teach readers essential truths about their own perception of themselves, their assumptions, and their environment.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You stand for establishment. In fact, you're so Apollonian that you don't even know what Appollonian means, because your culture doesn't endorse the reading of old myths.

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