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Tom Christensen
Margaret Atwood (pdf)
Opus Diaboli
Coyote Madonna

Lewis Hyde

Trickster Makes this World

The stories told in many of the cultures round the world involve a 'Trickster' figure. In Trickster Makes This World: How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture Lewis Hyde argues that such figures play a central part in the workings of their culture.

The book has plenty of stories from different cultures illustrating the various Tricksters. There are Coyote, Loki, Raven and Hermes among many others. The book also looks at the trickster aspect of art, in particularly modern art, showing that there is art in seemingly random collections of objects. Hyde explains how the Trickster is often at the limits of morality - not evil as such, but not following the rules. Missionaries may have pronounced him to be the devil, but the culture-disrupting missionaries were often associated with the local trickster. The job of the trickster was to avoid stagnation, whether it is in a periodic carnival where the usual rules don't apply, or in making possible more permanent change. Any culture has a tricky balance between becoming too rigid and losing its influence.

Unfortunately at this point I felt the book began to get a bit lost. There's a chapter on Frederick Douglass, and how he escaped from a life of slavery, but Hyde eventually decides that he wasn't really a trickster figure so one wonders what he's doing in this book. Also there seemed to be too much of the Hermes and Apollo story. So, in summary, the book contains much of interest, but you might not feel like reading it to the end.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews