The purpose of the court fool, throughout much of history, was to tell truth to power, and to remind the king of his humanity.

But also…

If you want to reduce this to a racial issue, you’re welcome to... But it is historically myopic and hopelessly middlebrow.

I think you missed the point here in this piece, and it can be found living between the lines of your response.

Yes, there are some historical iterations of “the fool” (you cite the royal court variety) that existed to nudge-nudge at power in (historically monochromatic) medieval settings. And yet, I think you are overlooking the broad range of historical iterations of the archetypal fool — the jester, the clown, the minstrel, the trickster, “Uncle Tomfool”, etc. — to fixate on the single iteration seemingly furthest from the conceit of the present piece. I suggest that you should also bone up on/consider the existence of other “fools” who did the same to poke at the socio-political orders of their times.

When objectively observed in a broader historical context — and not just from a Western Civilizational frame —one may come to find that the “racial lens” that is focused upon the iteration mentioned in the above article is somewhat apt and that “race” and archetypal “the fool” — or even the “Uncle Tomfool” — are historically well connected and well acquainted.

And, “throughout much of (our collective American) history”, which was founded upon racial stratification, “tell(ing) truth to power, and to remind(ing) the (fundamentally white) king of his humanity” relative to others in the (always) diverse court is quite necessarily (but not always) a racial exercise. Folks don’t want to hear it or admit as much to themselves, thus that need to “tell truth to power” and to remind the herrenvolk ruling class of their base humanity akin to everyone else living here.

In modern times, we have political commentators that have attempted to replace this vital role, but you’ll notice that these individuals do not sit in Parliament or the White House.

Likely because while centralized, absolute monarchal regimes tended to require a “ fool… beneath contempt (who) was the only person in court who could critique the entire system freely”, ostensibly democratic regimes tended to be defined by their embrace of free speech and criticism.

But, to be fair, there are occasionally some instances when the contemporary court jester will sit in the presence of the rule and mock him to his face.

Denver native and lover of films, nerd culture, and the political sciences. SJW as a mother because a dick I’m not. Cheers!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store