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Name: Nomadic theorists

Bio: A home for many writings on the nature of travel, including postings from the public via the open journal.

Photos: nomadic philo-sophy's photo libraries

seek not abroad... ( 11th Apr, 2009 )
Fools Rush In (Where Wise Men Never Go) ( 17th Dec, 2007 )
Tips for Nomads ( 6th Dec, 2007 )
'Personality' by Ayumi Takahashi ( 18th Nov, 2007 )
Discovery ( 21st Jan, 2007 )
'From A Traveller' by Vikram Seth ( 11th Jan, 2007 )
Patriarchy and Nomadism ( 14th Dec, 2006 )
migratory birds in the Antibes ( 30th Oct, 2006 )
Don Delillo on tourism ( 15th Oct, 2006 )
space & time travel montreal with reduced carbon emissions ( 11th Oct, 2006 )
The Fool's Journey ( 13th Aug, 2006 )
raido essence ( 13th Aug, 2006 )
sunrise ( 13th Jul, 2006 )
the ebb and flow ( 5th Jul, 2006 )
Singas ( 23rd Jun, 2006 )
the language of leaves ( 15th Jun, 2006 )
Maps of the Imagination by Peter Turchi ( 29th May, 2006 )
Modern avoidance tips (for the nomad) regarding an impossible positon ( 2nd May, 2006 )
Pointing to the moon ( 2nd May, 2006 )
memory home ( 14th Feb, 2006 )
Walking by Henry David Thoreau ( 14th Jan, 2006 )
heat, gays and gyms ( 11th Jan, 2006 )
author's adventure ( 10th Jan, 2006 )
The Nomadic Subject and Nomadology ( 13th Dec, 2005 )
Tourists and Vagabonds.. ( 9th Dec, 2005 )
Downtime ( 20th Nov, 2005 )
Tapas bar. ( 7th Nov, 2005 )
Trance ( 13th Oct, 2005 )
Pilgrims on the road to peace. ( 7th Oct, 2005 )
'Oh the places you'll go!' by Dr Seuss ( 9th Sep, 2005 )
Michael Franti Tour Diary ( 8th Sep, 2005 )
small miracles ( 2nd Sep, 2005 )
Overcoming Tourism by Hakim Bey ( 31st Aug, 2005 )
New section for the site ( 31st Aug, 2005 )

seek not abroad...

"seek not abroad, turn back into thyself
for in the inner man dwells the truth."
-ST. Augustine

Fools Rush In (Where Wise Men Never Go)

No man in his right mind ever seeks to leave the comfort and security of his home and wander off into the dark dangerous forest, filled with mystery and the stalking threat of death. The Fool, however, is not in his right mind, and thus runs off boldly into the unknown.

Whether the Fool truly is insane or just daft, as his fellows often suspect and on occasion can be found loudly declaring, is an altogether moot point. For the Fool, though he hears their pronouncements made in mock-bravado, can more clearly hear the fear which motivates such judgements. For in himself he has begun to master just that fear, and it is this alone that allows him to first set foot upon that Grand Path, that Road Which Leads Exactly Nowhere™, or leads over a precipice and certain death as Those Who Stay Behind™ have always cried out in excuse for why they too won’t get up and and find out what lies beyond…

The Fool, as seen in the Tradition of the Tarot, stands for curiousity, opportunity, adventure and new beginnings. Seen from the point of view of an ordinary life stuck in stolid patterns, such things are seen as “foolish.” Don’t rock the boat. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. But the fool is the romantic idiot, always caught between the “what if” and its actualization. He is the vagabond, the hobo: a nomad, a traveller and outlaw, the outcast who wouldn’t settle down or couldn’t if tried.

He is the now and then invisible visitor: the strangely-dressed man who’ll kindly ask for directions when he wafts into town, who’ll shine your shoes for a dollar; the itinerant laborer, worker and drunk - intoxicated constantly with the fullness of the moment always ready with a joke and a song - perpetually “on the move” and “hitting the road.” Where it all stops, nobody knows.

In the Tarot, he’s shown with a dog, sometimes nipping at his heels. Some say that it stands for society. But to me dogs signify simple pure joy and spontaneity. The Fool, either way, leads the dog’s life: begging for scraps at someone else’s table or nestling down for long winter’s naps beside the fire. The Fool, though he hasn’t got much, is perhaps richest in the actual experience of life, knows when to stop and smell the roses (always!), and knows that the only constant is change. And that the true Fool is he who seeks to hold onto something forever.

Playing The Fool, Part 2

In the game of tarot, the Fool has a unique role, similar to that of a “wild card” (Joker) but different in interesting ways. Whereas a wild card assumes the identity of a card to player would like to have, helping the holder win the hand, the Fool is an “excuse”–it can be played at any time, but it never beats any of the other cards. So why play it, if it can’t win? The reason is that it is worth a lot of points, and you get to keep it after you play it, even though the winner gets to take away all the other cards that were played in that trick. So the Fool is a very lucky card to have. If you are dealt it, you know that you’ll be getting those points, no matter what. And it can save you from having to sacrifice a valuable card or reveal that you’ve run out of a particular suit, for example. Playing the Fool is like momentarily exempting yourself from the rules of the game.

The Fool is a “card” both literally and figuratively in the sense that he makes you laugh. His advantages in the game of Tarot, they say, are that he is exempt from the rules and he can never be lost to another player. The Fool, then, could be that part you hit at rock bottom, the ground of your being which you can never lose and which just sets you laughing - because that’s all you have left. The only place to go, from there, is fortunately up.

The Fool found employment in times gone by in the courts of kings, as jester, joker and clown, epic bardic folksinger and actor-poet-juggler. He was an entertainer, but he was more than that. He was a truth-teller to those in power, to Those Who Get Tired Of Toadying™, and in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, he was celebrated as a descendent of Christ’s presence in the form of the yurodivy or Holy Fool.

The yurodivy is traditionally an eccentric figure who is outside conventional society. The madness of the yurodivy is ambiguous, and can be real or simulated. He (or she) is believed to be divinely inspired, and is therefore able to say truths which others cannot, normally in the form of indirect allusions or parables. He had a particular status in regard to the Tsars, as a figure not subject to earthly control or judgment.

Consider the strange case of Basil Fool For Christ, a fifteenth-century Saint/Fool/almost Robin Hood figure:

Originally an apprentice shoemaker in Moscow, he adopted an eccentric lifestyle shoplifting and giving to the poor. He went naked and weighed himself down with chains. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church.

Tales like these weren’t told just to kings and their courts though, but in the streets as performances and on the stage. The Commedia dell’arte was an Italian improvisational form of street theatre that began around the time of St. Basil’s performances, filled with stock characters acting out scenarios made mythic in scale simply on account of how common, and how immediately realistic life and its foibles were parodied in them. Shakespeare and his company or troupe, the King’s Men followed in a more northern version of that same tradition, and in so doing laid the ground-work for a great deal of modern history and literature.

Following the actor-harlequin side of the Fool’s line of descent allows us to transition seamlessly to carnival, street corner and circus clowns.

Clowns spread in cultures of any time and place, because they meet some deeply rooted needs in humanity: violation of taboos, the mockery of sacred and profane authorities and symbols, reversal of language and action, and a ubiquitous obscenity.

Our closest modern celebrity analogue, unknown to people below a certain age altogeter, would probably be Red Skelton, circus clown turned Vaudevillean, then radio and television star. Or maybe Marcel Marceau, the world-famous mime, who died just this year. Entertainers like these serve as a bridge between the world of mass media celebrities back down to the more immediate and close to home realm of the Fool: the realm of He Who Could Not Sit Still, and of He Who Just Took Off One Day, Laughing As He Went.

Whether it be sheer folly, some rare brand of insanity or the slavish pursuit of care-free curiousity and a thirst for mystery which drives him, it’s clear that the Fool operates according to different priorities. He seeks to move about and see what there is to be seen. He learns from experience that all experiences are equivalent except for laughter: the unique state of blissful ecstasy which bursts from our lips at our heart’s recognition of sheer pleasure of the simplest, purest kind. The Fool lives for this, seeks only this and judges all things according to this: on the one hand, how can we make this second even more fun? On the other, how could this moment ever possibly even get better?

Don’t know? Just ask this guy…

The Fool is the beggar, asking only for laughs. He ends up the better who becomes this man’s debtor. Overhead from the Fool in passing: “Enjoy it while it lasts; each moment a treasure.”

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound those who are mighty.” — 1 Cor 1:27

[Dedicated to the clowns of FreeLove & Humboldt Circus, who were kind enough to let me live and learn amongst them earlier this year.]

reprinted with permission from

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