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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Literary Tricksters

"Yet, I must honestly admit that at this point in my life of experiences, I cannot admire what you say has been purposely written into these author's respective works; and what would only be, for me, a brilliant show of narcistic trickery."

Christy, I am glad you wrote "for YOU", because I never suggested or implied that I thought any of Shakespeare, Austen, or Joyce (or for that matter, Dickens, or James, or Melville, or Tolstoy or any of dozens of other great authors) were being narcissistic by creating shadow stories.

The word 'trickster' is often used very positively in discussions of, e.g., Eastern and shamanic wisdom and spiritual traditions, where the "tricks" are not selfish or aggressive, but rather are a method of provoking readers into a fresh perception of reality, by means of paradox, by irony, by doing the unexpected.

Remember that JA is the adept of Zen paradox who wrote the words: "We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing." Think about that phrase, which, as I wrote a while back, was so appealing to Oscar Wilde, the ultimate ironist, that he stole it!

The book which was my portal into more than a very superficial understanding of Buddhism was entitled "Thoughts Without A Thinker". The same idea--the reader has to ask, how can such a thing be? And in struggling to resolve the paradox, gets closer to elusive truth.

And there was once another adept at such paradoxes who said "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

So, it is in THAT spirit that I claim JA was a trickster--and, for that matter, Joyce and Shakespeare, too!


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