Friday, August 19, 2011

Ship of Fool by William Trowbridge

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Wonder what drew me to pick up this little anthology from the myriad of lineups on the library bookshelves. Was it the white-on-black text on the book's spine? The petite size? The ohh-so-shiny gloss suggestive of a published year coincident with the current calendar year? I'd go with all three. After all, the mind draws from a lifetime of associations when making split-second choices. Like what books to read over the next few weeks... The intriguing intro on the back cover merely confirmed my intuition that this would be a good read by my dictionary. 

(The title is not to be confused with the ship of fools, which is an allegory of civilization. Although the concepts are loosely related.)

This is a collection of poems about the fool archetype. Imagine a combination of Yiddish comic characters "schlemiel" and "schlimazel", where the former is "a bungler who's always accidentally breaking and spilling things on people", while the latter is "a sad sack who's always getting his stuff broken and spilled on him". Trowbridge's Fool is both.

Reminds me of comic characters whom Robin Williams and Jim Carrey played in movies. Or Forrest Gump. And perhaps the Fool is not so foolish after all.

After all, Cupid's fool of a peon calls himself "a flyboy from the infantry of love".

I mean, everyone has been a fool at some point. Perhaps the Fool speaks to that primal curiosity, the (blind?) courage to believe that the world is still beautiful, or the (naïve?) earnestness to try and make it so.

Despite being (seen as) perpetually awkward. Nevertheless, he deserves some applause for trying. To help. To live. To love.

To be.

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