The fool as a universal archetype blazed into my consciousness the day I discovered the vivid biographies of Chinese court jesters by China’s Herodotus, Sima Qian (145-c. 86 BC). Flourishing over 1,500 years before Shakespeare encoded Lear’s fool in our cultural DNA, they were strikingly similar to everything a Western education told me a court jester was and did. I was intrigued.
This prompted five years’ research pursuing every lead, including languages I could barely read (amazing how helpful people are if you ask), and one I supposedly could read, classical Chinese. With the guidance of a great sinologist, William Dolby, I ploughed through over 400 stories of Chinese jesters, ranging across two millennia worth of primary sources.
Fools Are Everywhere: The court jester around the world was published by Chicago University Press complete with a flip-book cartoon and original Chinese language inserts. It won critical kudos, with lively reviews and the American Association of Publishers’ award for outstanding book of the year in its class. But one of the greatest rewards has been the reactions of readers, some of whom have become friends, and I hope this introduction will attract new ones, with the sharp insights they often bring.
Click the book cover to find out more and see some rave reviews …
‘Stultorum plena sunt omnia’, said the ancients, or ‘fools are everywhere’, and so it has proved. To highlight this universal fact, we are building the most sparkling, scholarly and sweeping online treasury to promote the appreciation of fools and jesters, throughout history and across the world.
Dedicated to makers and making and the beauty of things, with a focus on one thing in particular and a celestial shade of blue. Clue: she has wheels and recently turned 60. Look forward to taking you for a spin around her website.
Of time, wine and trees
Time, in the sense of how we live and perceive it, enthralls me. This essay was prompted by various perspectives that struck me, including Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate. It will soon be posted online.
Having long been interested in human happiness and a healthy environment, these seemed separate if related issues until sustainability gave me their meeting point.
For twenty years I have worked with designers, business people and government to try to expand that point into a growing space for positive action.
An overview of reports, projects and clients can be found by clicking below.