In 2016, I had the opportunity to tangibly explore a vision, an out-of-body and extemporal experience, a dream from many years ago. The circumstance of a curated art show, the theme of which being the Major Arcana of the Tarot, afforded me a chance to express my vision of a jester depicted as The Fool card. I elected to focus primarily on the spontaneous (disregard for time), risk-taking, playful and somewhat mischievous aspect of the fool. After much deliberation, I left out the more traditional elements (the staff/bindle, fox/cat/dog nipping at his heel) as they would distract from my focus: time, wisdom, and folly.
I find myself in the middle of a room, filled with antiques, artwork and other home furnishings. The room was not very dark, but the only ambient light was from an entryway into another brightly lit room and the adjacent dining room. Just inside the entryway of where I stood I saw a hanging clock. At first, its shape and details could not be determined from my first position, as it was back-lit from the sun shining through a window in that room. Looking at it from an angle, I saw that it was a jester clock hanging from the ceiling on two chains. It was either enamel painted wood or metal. There were two noticeably surreal things about this clock. The first was immediately striking as the jester was sitting upside down. The chains suspended him from the backs of the legs. He formed an L-shape with his head hanging low and his arms extended. “What is he doing,” I thought. Then I noticed that the point above the twelve o’clock position was hanging downward from the jester’s boot at the point where most often is found a bell. Peculiar.
I turned to the right to the adjacent dining room which was brighter because window drapes had been drawn open. What caught my eye was the dark walnut brown dining chairs having seats upholstered with a silk brocade of the deepest green, somewhere between emerald and hunter green. The seats matched the drapes just on the other side of the dining table. All the light in the room was natural and the sunlight penetrated the room so that dust particles could be seen dancing all around. There was no one else with me in the room, but it was alive and electric. I moved further into the room where there was a sitting area to the left. In the corner were three banners with family crests, coat of arms, or some national affiliation. As of this writing, I cannot recall any other specifics including colors on the banners. I explored the room more until something woke me up.
This jester would persist as one of my frequently visited memories.
ALTERATIONS OF DREAM IMAGERY IN THE DEPICTION OF “THE FOOL” FROM THE MAJOR ARCANA.
While envisioning “The Fool” for this art project, I was committed to keeping the subject (the fool) in an inverted sitting position. A major difference between the jester of my dream and the fool is their relationships to the clock. In the painting, not only is the jester not part of the clock, but he is dismantling it. And the clock is not hanging from him, but it is above the entryway.
I’ve depicted two banners with coat of arms instead of the three in the dream. These pertain subtly to the subject in the following ways. On the left is the Coat of Arms for “Erasmus” who wrote “The Praise of Folly” and whose work was banned by the Vatican’s Index of Prohibited Works. On the right is a nod to William Blake for his famous quote, “The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.”
While the jester of the dream had a intriguing human face, the fool of this work is faceless, sexless, and perhaps not really human. In fact, I’ve used the Sun, a symbol of wisdom, to imply perhaps that wisdom cloaks itself in fool’s garb.
Most apt to my vision is another quote by William Blake:
“The hours of folly are measured by the clock;
But of wisdom, no clock can measure.”
Now, let us ponder what this jester is really thinking!