Historically, a court jester, or fool, was an entertainer who was often a member of the household of a nobleman or at the court of a King, employed to entertain him and his guests.
The Court Fool was often in the unique position to give uncomfortable truths and bad news to the King that no one else would have dared deliver. In a medieval form of “speaking truth to power,” through their humor and wit, a skilled Fool would often provide comment, or even satire to the King and Court that would likely have cost any other their head.
Throughout history, the court jester, or fool, entertained King and Court with a wide variety of skills including songs, music, and storytelling, acrobatics, juggling, telling jokes and performing feats of “magic” through misdirection and sleight of hand. Much of the entertainment was performed in a comic style and many jesters made contemporary jokes in word or song about people or events well known to their audiences including prominent figures at court including the king.
So, as you can imagine, the King’s fool was either highly skilled or quickly dead. Which is why, in much of our literary tradition, the fool is uniquely wise and their wit, satire and sleight of hand gave them cover to do much in plain sight that would cost any other their very life. In short, skilled political operatives in the guise of a clown. Hummmmmm… Makes one think.
So what would it be like if that diverse, yet stealthy skill set of charm, wit, illusion, sleight of hand and entertainer were to move from Courtly Fool to King? How would those skills of clamorous misdirection and innocent looking guile, wrapped in the appearance and demeanor of a clown, serve the highest authority in the land?
I would wager that this might serve him well; that by creating havoc and overwhelming visual and verbal noise that engage, engross, distract, absorb and entertainment the unsuspecting and willing onlookers, that the work of their design and purpose, whether for ill or good, might proceed unobserved, unabated and unchecked by all whose role it may be to provide such safeguards, checks and balances…
It would then perhaps be possible, even probable, that we might see the true will of the people and the culture of a kingdom irreversibly transformed; a revolution completed and a people subdued without a single shot fired…. All by wit, guile, falsehood, charm, havoc, distraction and misdirection.
Distraction and misdirection are forms of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing to distract its attention from another. Managing the audience’s attention is the aim of all “theater;” the foremost requirement of theatrical magic.
But these things are only matters for storybooks and playwrights; correct? This could never happen today; right? Good thing, because such an insidious thing could not happen in a real world, now could it? Or could it? Hummmm.
Do not get caught up in the obvious. Do not be deceived by the apparent confusion and clamorous melee unless you choose to suspend your disbelief. If not, then look for what is hidden. The “magic” only happens in the eyes of those willing to be fooled.