Monday, February 27, 2017

You Fool!

The fool, the joker, the slapstick. Throughout history, these are the characters we associate the ridiculous. Their roles are suitable because the role is considered a profession. Today we have comedians who often fill the same roles as their historic counterparts. They are allowed, accepted even, for their excessive use of farce and joviality. Their place is to entertain the court whether that court takes place in Medieval Europe of modern day social media.

Apply that ridiculous insignia to a member of the court, however, and the atmosphere shifts. A declaration of fool as applied to a person's demeanor, belief, profession or status causes the glittering image of courtly affairs to crumble and the person is left publicly shamed.

Disgust may fear vulnerability but her true fear is of that declaration: Fool! To have her voice laughed at and dismissed, to be seen as unintelligent and uninformed, to be called emotional and unhinged is ultimately the proverbial branding of the scarlet letter. She fears external critics, like Anger, who appoint her image or weigh her weakness. Those critics control her aspect and determine what is and isn't "gross." They are, in a sense, the lawmakers of her life; to stray from their established system would be considered treason.

She does not want to be found guilty by those external critics so she works to conform her being into the structure of what is safe and acceptable. Even her appearance conforms to the order. Her glasses denote intelligence. The straight, cropped hair is no-nonsense and without whimsy. Her clothing is overly modest, covering more skin with her turtleneck acting as almost a gag. She is the embodiment of control, aloofness, and intelligence. She abstains from all foolishness. No one would dare call her "Stupid."

Because she must maintain this image of intelligence, she must never make a mistake. This fear is what stalls my writing and freezes my creativity. The fear of vulnerability, in this case, is not necessarily a fear of making a mistake (I recognize we are all human and not perfect). Rather, it's the fear of being declared wrong. Somehow misquoting a fact or misinterpreting an event halts my writing process. I get bogged down in piles of research, ranging from the tiniest details to the overarching scope. The stack of "To-read" material grows until the research is too overwhelming, too daunting to face and the project that wants to be born gets thrown to the back burner, to simmer until the "opportune" time.

The only hope I have to silence the drone of anxiety and panic when I'm faced with that stack of knowledge yet unobtained is a gentle whisper that reminds me that it's okay to thaw the fear slowly.


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