Fools Are Everywhere: The court jester around the world

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 below to find out more and see some reviews … 


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Project 001 -

You are here!   Sharing a lifelong love of reading and writing and bringing to light hidden gems of fresh and original phrasing.   Launched 23 April 2016 for three very good reasons.

Image credit: Liliia Rudchenko,

Project 002

Bringing a new angle to an ancient theme: love of life.   Look forward to celebrating many of its marvelous moments with you.   Leaping onto a screen this summer, perhaps on a bright day such as midsummer’s.

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Project 003

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: it has wheels and will turn 60 this year.  A perfect moment to launch such a website.

Photo credit: Dustin Lee,

Project 004

This will single out some of the most promising solutions to the big sustainability challenges, and sift for the best sources of ideas, information and inspiration in sustainable design and innovation.   Launch to be determined, or as a sign on an Italian cinema put it, we will open ‘al termine dei lavori’.

Photo credit: Andy Beales,

Project 005

An affectionate look at an adoptive country.   To be launched in time for its national day.

Photo credit: Joshua Earle,

Providing a slightly more colourful profile than LinkedIn allows, though I have one of those too.

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Of Time, Wine & Trees

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.  As an entry for an essay prize, this isn’t currently available online, but will be soon, whether it wins the prize or not.

Myths metaphors and autochthonous grapes

Myths, metaphors & autochthonous grapes

An essay on myths and metaphors, inspired by visits to Greece in the company of Homer and Zorba.

Again, this will be available online once the essay prize has been awarded (to this, or somebody else’s, efforts).

Why sustainability?

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 … taking you to another website.

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© – Beatrice Otto 2015 – design, content, images, unless otherwise stated  I  Powered by WordPress I Designed with Elegant Themes Divi 2.0 I Colours by COLOURlovers

Credits & copyright: colors and ink in water images, Liliia Rudchenko and watery ink color swirls by Co-op Goods Co.  I  title wording colour: ‘ink which just sings’ by Avilluk  I  text hover colour: ‘ink it blue’ by Novrain62   I   background grey: ‘”quote” by ms.  I  feather images by Dee at Star Studios


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