The Jester King
a short story
A Man begins a crusade,
not with a sword but with a punchline.
not with a fist, but a chuckle.
With the dancing of words and ideas, blades are sheathed and the battle plans are redrawn and the cavalry reared among a populace of awaiting cry-laughers ~
The curtains are drawn and the realm is abreast with the serious conflicts of serious men wielding serious information asymmetries and serious property rights and the irrefutable intuitions of a serious afterlife. All too often, the egoism of the serious self kills the lights of levity before it can capture that fleeting feeling of effervescent non-self, that sprite of enlightening knowledge that all of this isn’t so serious after all.
A kingdom stands before us, one which we cannot avert ourselves from and one in which we will be hard-pressed to change from within or without. The spaces here are filled with the sly safety of the iron-clad status quo. Default subroutines fill out a grid of inequity and unfriendly, somewhat necessary competition. ‘Fairness’ is given the platitudes it deserves but remains unadvanced, bulwarked by meritocratic philosophical underpinnings heretofore unchallenged in a history cultured to these affectations. The sincere efforts of the worker are met with disregard for the worker’s inner and outer life. Progress reigns supreme, at the absolute zero-sum cost of the humane. The king is at the behest of the ethereal owners and their endless line of accomplices wielding their own cronies, who have their own sycophants and goons and lummoxes, all of whom wield outsized power just about nearing being the unchecked capacity, but not quite crossing the threshold and thus triggering serious revolution.
The king finds himself beholden to one man and it isn’t himself, and he doesn’t have the interests of the many in his unknown heart, and he isn’t sure where to turn because he betrayed everyone long ago to secure his place, most of all himself, but there’s no system for a transition of power, so he sits and continues the will of those he has fallen in with, and nothing changes, into perpetuity. Grim horizons break over serious, but miserable faces. Is this clear? Is this good? It’s certainly not any fun. Even for those at the top.
Where is the purposeless smile for a world as it is?
Where is the wit for the ideal?
Where is the punchline to this cruel joke?
Where is the revolution inside of the lark?
Where is The Truth?
It is on the Jester’s face; in the words rolling off his tongue to lighted shows of engaged gatherings; in the tears rolling down his face, in the shadows of the silences after.
The jester, yes — to whom respect and admiration and influence are curried in a unique blend.
The jester, wielding one of the few occupations requiring both intelligence and wisdom.
This jester has no mind for power, instead merely hoping to entertain, to wade into the fields of the soul with humor, and with efficacy.
And yet, this challenger appears, without even realizing. At this moment, he stands at a tribunal for the soul of this realm, unknowingly. It’s important that he is here for the people. He’s on stage and they await his words. They need the escape as much as he needs the stage. Unburdened by the world, he is burdened by his self; it is more than enough weight to make himself dark and miserable and empty on the daily. But he’s not, by choice. So he fills the empty spaces with humor & satire & hoopla — nothing more than critical observation from within his own routines delivered with a passion borne of personal experience. In these ways, comedy is the sword to pierce the veil of his own soul, and in turn all the others observing and sharing in the revelry of his communal reverie; in the sharing with those of us taking notice, taking the time to hear the words and appreciate them in their full candor, we each integrate into the world-soul — with the Jester as some kind of chaotic conduit — building us higher and higher yet.
Do not discount these jokes, they are so much more.
The delivery of this particular Man’s comedy is meant to be mint in the pursuit of the melting of this world’s mask(s). People vote with their attention, and their money. And the Jester is winning, he’s already won, he’s rolling. This is the new kind of rule bringing about a radical revolution. In this kingdom, across all of ’em, Humor now stands at the forefront of worldly experience and spiritual duty. Everything can and will be and perhaps should be — laughed at. The joke is as inevitable as death and tax.
Naturally, impostors and copycats appear from the ether. Their presence both gives and takes; some are inspired, others are driven solely by greed and empty of the necessary creative concerns to produce anything of value in their art.
The populace as a whole becomes more irreverent, more observational, more akin to laugh at the world than to scream at the world. These things are mostly good.
The Jester is given responsibility he never asked for and often rebukes. He is asked to weigh in on geopolitics, straight up. What we don’t realize is, the Jester has already weighed in, the commentary is already out there; for most things, something has been said, the issue addressed whether we understand it or not. Within the discourse, the tides of the State’s affair have been criticized, the Jester’s words brought to bear again and again against the injustices unfolding inside the walls of where everyone spends all their time, inside our very own willfully ignorant purview. The analysis is oblique, accomplished indirectly and sometimes without necessary context. His acts are incomplete of their full, unabashed meaning before us and yet remain profound in posterity, as the generations will come and go.
The people only care about the answer to the one question: Is he right? Undoubtedly, relative to the State, the Jester’s ideals do win out. (It has to do with The Truth thing.)
Egalitarianism wins out over its opposite, on moral grounds — this is the beating heart at the center of the gospel the Jester espouses. Whether people, and more importantly — the State — gets it or not, it’s true and it’s there and it’s not going away for now. But his solutions aren’t at all well-prepared, and are also impractical and without necessary design functionality. They are also a dream, at present. It doesn’t mean they aren’t taken seriously (they are), and it doesn’t mean they are impossible to possibly execute (they aren’t). It just takes sincere work, a long time horizon, and bona fide cooperation. The Jester understands most of all how short we are on these supplies. But he also takes the time to laugh, before making any movement to change this positioning.
Through all of this, the soul of the Jester’s wit lives and dies within his burning ego, the very same entity — in a general sense, across humanity — which sent the kingdom into a roil in the first place. Truly, he speaks more of tearing bad things down, than the building of good things up. The latter requires more than good writing. The Jester is quite conscious of this. It causes much of his turmoil, some of his restlessness, and all of his strife. No matter the good he feels he has done, he cannot escape the one person producing all of the problems of his own messy life.
The Jester grows in fame. He strides through bad faith roaring by bad actors, he grows from the copious amounts of constructive criticism, and deflects the anxiety of responsibility now afforded his widening platform. Over time, the Jester builds up an entourage of those he trusts, consolidating his own powers, building more experience, architecting more material, refining his own game. The Jester prepares a steady stream of content for the masses awaiting the latest rendition of his special brand of discerning spitfire. This act goes global, goes mainstream — The Jester King is born.
The people have voted with their spans and their smiles and their deep bellies full of laughter, nearing an unchecked capacity of its own. It appears to have tipped the threshold, and we now find ourselves amidst a revolution.
The continued success of such an endeavor is nigh impossible, the inevitable fall will occur for this man, for a variety of reasons, maybe more than once we will be shocked at an outcome unguessed. For its time, the well & good rule of The Jester King depends upon one thing: a love for the craft, for the knowledge to convey a weary but hopeful soul and to incite thoughts & actions, and respect for the insightful amusement it imbues into the community, for all time.
Ideally, we’ll laugh at ourselves, self-examining all the while, while this Jester reigns under us with his signature self-deprecating grin, carrying the weight of our collective sins within his latest special, hashed out in the darkness of solitude and performed before the increasingly absurd spectacle of an awaiting audience. ~