"With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance below him --- its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream. He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one --- all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air. The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days..."

The above passage, a lovely, lyrical description of the Fool card of the Tarot deck, comes from The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, at the very end of "Numbers", which is one of my favorite poems of all time. It appears in quotation marks, but I'm not sure where the quote is from, or whether Creeley invented a quote for the occasion, and sometimes I'm not even sure it's part of the poem at all, but either way I think it's exactly it's the right kind of drifting off into infinity ending for a poem about numbers.

The Fool strikes me as a representation of exactly my favorite kind of liminal/transformative mythic clueless trickster figure, if that makes any sense. My impression is that there are very few purely wise or purely foolish Trickster characters in myth, but rather that Tricksters tend to misjudge their1 own cleverness (usually by overestimating it), and that's how they prove themselves fools, time and time again. Yet for me they also embody the spirit of occasionally achieving great things, even things previously considered impossible, simply by virtue of not knowing those things supposedly couldn't be done. Is it innocence or ignorance that's bliss? When all is said and done, I think I don't so much identify with the Fool as aspire to Fooldom.

  1. I tried to write this sentence using singular masculine pronouns, since, as the trickster writeup elaborates at greater length, the Fool and his kindred are predominantly male. But inclusive language won the day.