Trickster Quotes

Oscar Wilde’s phrase “…Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art” means something to me. It means that at the heart of art is a paradox or contradiction because it is and it is not what it appears to be. In art there are multiple ways of looking at an object/subject and each perspective is both true and false. Art, like the trickster, at it’s best is a persuasive archetypal experience, which achieves its goal of baffling with a combination creativity and deception. Art, like a trickster, it hard to pin down – both for the creator and the viewer. The moment you think you have things figured out, something shifts and you are back to a state of wonder or confusion on a journey of twists and turns.

As a visual artist this statement is liberating and so is the dialogue around the trickster archetype. I’m liberated by the idea of being rewarded for holding space for ‘beautiful untrue things’ because the lie soothes the paradox of living with an insatiable appetite. I nourish my soul and curb my hunger by creating art – images that have a limited existence in material reality but an imaginary life that is limitless. It’s a trick of the trade to create images with unclear boundaries because ambiguity activates the viewer’s imagination and brings life to the image.

Art is one step into reality and it’s state, open for interpretation, is key. It’s in the design contract I use with clients, who may or may not read all the fine print… “The Services shall include the selection and specifications for materials and construction details as described in the Proposal. However, Client acknowledges and agrees [that Designer is not a licensed engineer or architect, and] that responsibility for the interpretation of design drawings and the design and engineering of all work performed under this Agreement (“Engineering”) is the sole responsibility of Client and/or its architect, engineer or fabricator.”

Quotes on Trickers

Hyde, L., & Chabon, M. (2010). Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  1. It is about trickster figures – Coyote, Hermes, Mercury, and more – and all tricksters are “on the road.” Page 6
  2. In short, trickster is a boundary crosser. Page 7
  3. Trickster is thus the author of a great distance between heaven and earth; when he becomes the messenger of the gods it’s as if he has been enlisted to solve a problem he himself created. Page 7
  4. All the regularly discussed figures are male page 8
  5. Tricksters are ridden by lust, but there hyperactive sexuality almost never results and in the offspring page 8
  6. Tricksters are regularly honored as the creators of culture. p8
  7. The origins, liveliness, and durability of cultures require that there be space for figures whose function is to uncover and destruct the very things that cultures are based on. Page 9
  8. When Pablo Picasso says that “art is a lie that tells the truth,” we are closer to the old tricksters. page 13
  9. He is the archetype who attacks all archetypes. Page 14
  10. Trickster starts out hungry, but before long he is master of the kind of creative deception that, according to a long tradition, is a prerequisite of art. p17
  11. Loki imagining that first fishnet and then getting caught in… page 18
  12. Coyote teaches humans how to catch salmon… page 18
  13. Raven made the first fishhook… page 18
  14. The victims hunger is the moving part. Page 19
  15. In the invention of traps, trickster is a technician of appetite and the technician of instinct. p19
  16. Trickster is at once cultural hero and fool, clever predator and stupid pray. Page 19
  17. The myth contains a story about the incremental creation of an intelligence about hunting. Page 20
  18. In evolutionary theory, the tension between predator and prey is one of the greatest engines that has driven the creation of intelligence itself, each side successfully ceaselessly responding to the other. Page 20

  19. From that position the bait thief becomes a kind of critic of the usual rules of the eating game and as such subverts them, so that traps he has visited lose their influence. Page 22
  20. Perhaps Raven comes to life where waste turns into fruit, or better where one’s own waste becomes ones food. p 27
  21. There seems to be only two options: limited food or limited appetite. Coyote, unable to choose the latter, has the former forced upon him. Such is one common plot in the mythology of trickster page 28
  22. In the story, then, we see a meat – thief intelligence setting a limit to appetite and by so doing avoiding death, the hook hidden in the meet. Page 34
  23. For the Greeks the bones stand for immortality. Page 35
  24. The belly stands for needy, shameless, inexorable, overriding appetite. Page 35
  25. In both cases, though, there is a change of apportionment and a form of sacrifice emerges that memorializes both the trick and its consequences, the new order of things. We can now get a general shape to this material on the sacrifice of appetite, and link it to the earlier discussion of traps. The trickster is often imagine as a sort of “hungry god.”
  26. Hermes and events the art of sacrifice and that he does so out of a struggle over appetite. Moreover, when he refrains from eating he is not only sacrificing appetite, he has also gotten “wise to the bait.”page 38
  27. And although the “the bungling host” trickster fails as an imitator, elsewhere imitator is part of his power. Page 43
  28. We may now add creative lying to our list of tricksters inventions page 45
  29. Trickster, then, is a pore-seeker. He keeps a sharp eye out for naturally occurring opportunities and creates them ad hoc when they do not occur by themselves. 47
  30. One mark of the tricksters mind, then, is that it exploits and frustrate opportunity. To move to a related but distant future – tricksters cunning in regard to doubling back reversing itself – let us take a somewhat more complicated example of the trap of bafflement. p49
  31. Stories about tricksters and tracking are there for stories about reading and writing. Page 15
  32. In particular, tricksters are known for changing their skins. Page 51
  33. Trickster is a polytropic, which in its simplest sense means “turning many ways”. Page 52
  34. To be able to change the skin therefore raises serious puzzles about identity, the kind of puzzle that immune system faces when trying to identify a trypanosome. p35
  35. It’s possible there beings with no way of their own, only the many ways of their shifting scans and changing contexts. Page 54

  36. We see trickster waking to symbolic life or becoming aware of his own imagination and its powers page 56
  37. Several places in the trickster mythology itself same to me to suggest to creation story for the imagination. p58
  38. Only when there’s a possible wine Worm can we begin to speak of a true Worm, and only then does Worm become a sign. p 60
  39. Duplicity and deferral of appetite are key to its emergency, implication being that signification involved to help this animal slip the trap of appetite or at least better imagine it’s constraints. Page 62

  40. Thieving and lying are in fact a necessary part of the creation of meaning. Page 64
  41. It’s as if nothing is significant until it’s portable; we must be able to move it, in fact or in mind, from one context to another page 65.
  42. So again we come to this point that in this mythology theft is the beginning of meaning. To put it another way, a prohibition on theft is an attempt to constrain meaning, to stop it’s multiplication, to preserve an “essence,” of the “natural,” the “real.” p65
  43. The tension around which this history is built – variant local truth versus invariant global truth – is not you need to ancient Greece, of course. Page 68

  44. He will perpetrate thefts and tell lies that it not only feed the belly but upset the boundary markers by which the true and the false are differentiated. Page 70
  45. When one of these speaks his first lie he is the eternal child who cannot be significantly damaged and so make cleave to the pure and playful delight a floating fiction in the face of stern reality. Page 71
  46. Trickster’s lies and thefts challenge those premises and in so doing reveal their artifice and suggest alternatives. page 72
  47. For tricksters lies to provoke a doubt in this way, he was draw his adversaries into his own uncanny territory. It is a space ruled by the disarming charm of the very young child. p72
  48. Hermes has to do with speech, and signifies that he is the interpreter, or messenger, or thief, or liar, or bargainer; all that sort of thing he has a great deal to do with language. p75
  49. What tricksters quite regularly do is create lively talk weather has been silence, or where speech has been prohibited. page 76
  50. For that shift can take place, however, the old story must lose it’s charm. It must be moved into the space where it’s design is perspectival and temporal, not eternal. Page 214
  51. For human community to make its world shapely is one thing; to preserve the shape it’s quite another, especially if, as is always the case, the shape is to some degree arbitrary and if the shaving requires exclusion and the excluded are hungry. Page 217
  52. From the edge of a group or the threshold of the house there are only a few ways a trickster can move: he can come inside, you can leave entirely, or he can stay exactly where he started, resisting all attempts to symbolize or exile. From tricksters point of view, at last, staying on the threshold, must be the ideal type; it gives us the plot that never resolves itself, the endless strong – together coyote tales each linked to each with the phrase “coyote was going along…”” p220
  53. In short, groups can either expel or ingest there troublemakers. The most successful change – agent avoids either fate and manages to stay on the threshold, either in or out, but short of that difficult balance the next best fate maybe to be eaten, to be incorporated into the local myth. Page 224

  54. Is one thing to submit to an old set of house rules, quite another to enter a house that you yourself have help to build. p225