Monday, October 26, 2015

800 Words: The Holy Fool

"You get away with saying all those things nobody else would ever dare to say."

- Schmuck's drummer.

I really, really, really don't. It's true that I have very little tact and inner monologue, and I never have. I wouldn't know how to turn off this gaffe-diarrhea without horrendous pain from the effort of holding it in. One can either be ashamed of such an eminent facet of your character, which I often secretly am, or you can try to wear it as a badge of honor, and plow through the fear and guilt to the other side.

To anyone who doesn't know me particularly well, this may seem completely untrue, but I seem to have paid in blood for every taboo I've ever broken. Hundreds and hundreds of friends, and seemingly always feuding with half of them. The life of the dinner party in my 30's as I was the life of the keg party in my 20's, but just as ten years ago, no one who can stand my company past the point that the party ends. Dreams and ambition to the ends of the earth, and nothing to show for them. Just an emotional pain of a depression so great that it becomes a physical hurt, and a slow-burning terror during all those moments it vanishes, knowing that any moment could be the catalyst to bring forth its next appearance.

The Holy Fool is the traditional Christian character who is never punished for saying all the things that would be death to anyone else, but the reason he's spared is because his punishment is obvious to all around him. The tradition is perhaps most valued in Russia, where such a character is known as a Yurodivye.

"By day he laughed at the world, but he wept for it by night." He has surrendered all worldly concerns, devoting his life to acting the severe and self-humiliating eccentric (or being one, it doesn't really matter which). He is utterly at the mercy of the world, he has no means of supporting himself and must live entirely at the charity of his community - alone, penniless, self-abasing, defenseless against those in the community who would do him ill, and so misunderstood that there is no point to trying to make people understand his condition. A figure at best of pity, and all too often of fun.

All he has at his disposal is the ability to say what others never would or could because they have no way of hurting him more than his condition has already hurt himself. The circumstances of his life are punishment enough. He would often be beaten, occasionally even killed, and yet it was considered a terrible sin to offend a Yurodivy, because his position enabled him to see things nobody else could. Some ascribed clairvoyant or prophetic properties to him, but there was no need to ascribe something so grandiose - perhaps he was schizophrenic, perhaps he was 'only' psychotically depressed, perhaps he was mentally deficient in hundreds of ways, or perhaps he just had too much flair for the dramatic, but his difference made him see the world in a different way than others, a different way that others may hate with their guts, but seemed to know in their bones that they need.

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