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Download Trickster Makes This World: How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture. epub

by Lewis Hyde

"Art is a lie that tells the truth." - Pablo Picasso Picasso disrupted the world around him, and in doing so he reshaped it. That is the Trickster spirit. Playful, mischievous, subversive, amoral. Tricksters are a great bother to have around, but paradoxically they are also indispensable heroes of culture, because ourworld - with its complexity and ambiguity, its beauty and its dirt - was trickster's creation, and the work is not yet finished. Authoritative in its scholarship, supple and dynamic in its style, Trickster Makes This World encourages you to think and see afresh. 'Artists of whatever sort need Trickster's help from time to time: when you're blocked or stuck, take an aimless walk and let your mind off its leash, and call on Trickster. He's the opener of dreams, of roads, and of possibilities.' - Margaret Atwood
Download Trickster Makes This World: How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture. epub
ISBN: 1847672256
ISBN13: 978-1847672254
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Anthropology
Author: Lewis Hyde
Language: English
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; Main edition (September 4, 2008)
Pages: 432 pages
ePUB size: 1790 kb
FB2 size: 1168 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 934
Other Formats: lrf docx lit txt

In ‘Trickster makes this World’ Mr. Hyde looks at world trickster myths and how they are essential in the reproduction, contestation, and transformation of culture. Trickster figures abound in the folklore of Native North America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands. We know of trickster through his representation as coyote, Iktomi, Anansi, as well as through the tales of Hermes and Loki in European myth. This archetype is a boundary crosser who can sometimes bring great boons to mankind.

However, how is trickster embodied in our heroes? This is the question that causes Mr. Hyde to go on a quest to find important historic personalities that portrayed the trait of the trickster. Through case studies of the lives of Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Frederick Douglas; Mr. Hyde demonstrates the traits of trickster at work historically. Offering us readers biographies of each of these figures lives he shows how they were boundary crossers as well as cultural transformers. For anyone who has studied biographies on these celebrities, Mr. Hyde doesn’t offer much new revelatory information. What he does do is re-weave what is known about these heroes to demonstrate how they contested and transformed the times that they were in.

For me, the case studies of John Cage, and Frederick Douglas were the most memorable, especially Frederick Douglas. I learned new information about Frederick Douglas that I had not been privy to previously. For instance, besides being part African American, and part Scotch, Frederick Douglas also had some Native American ancestry through his grandmother. This is important information because the life of Frederick Douglas was about crossing the color line in a society that forced people to be identified as merely ‘black’ or ‘white’. This color line was in place to justify the institution of slavery, and it’s ‘racialization’. Through contesting racial categories, Frederick Douglas was forcing people to rethink their ideas about race.

So was Frederick Douglas Scotch-European? Native American? African American? Society defined him merely based on the color of his skin, and it was this definition that Frederick Douglas contested throughout his life. The stakes were high, as a whole group of people were relegated to slavery merely because of their skin color, their diverse ancestries disregarded by society’s need for free labor. Ahead of his times, Frederick Douglas assisted in drawing the lines of debates about race that continue to this day, demonstrating trickster’s transformative powers.

As a child I enjoyed reading the trickster stories of Brer Rabbit, Raven, Coyote, and Spider. Yet, I never thought about their application to real life. The value of Mr. Hyde’s study on the trickster is that it demonstrates this archetype in real life and his cultural necessity; for Trickster, in whatever form he manifests, compels us to question the values and beliefs that we take for granted. Culture is organic. If it does not grow then it slowly perishes. The questioning that trickster figures force us to undertake helps to maintain our cultural vitality. If a reader takes anything away from this book, I hope that they take away this point.
Much as I love Lewis Hyde (The Gift is one of the great books) this book is a real chore to get through. He is constantly saying that he has an argument, but it never really holds together: Hyde is known for ranging around, but this is some kind of personal thing he obviously had to work through, and heaven help the reader. Clearly he decided that there was leakage around the neat "gift culture" hypotheses he started with, but he hardly nails what that is down (it's probably about different forms of abundance being released when rules and scarcities are broken into). Some things are just arbitrary -- Frederick Douglass comes in for a lot of time, but even Hyde admits at one point that he isn't a trickster, Hyde is just interested in him as someone who struggled between the white and slave cultures. Like everything else in the book, except for the Homeric Hymn (which is slogged through interminably), we get flashes of detail, insight, and then nothing. I hope he's gone on to something more helpful. For those interested in tricksters and coyote, etc., I suggest the versions of Thomas King.
Possibly not for the average reader, as it is quite intellectual in scope, but nevertheless very interesting. It is about the real and mythical character traits of individuals who transcend ordinary behavior, meld ideas to invent new things, create bridges, and show how the future can be an improvement on the staid past. Also some discussion on how these genius personalities (or mythical types) readily appear as fools, and often make mistakes, the essence of creativity. It's about finding conjunctions, translations, inflections, and articulations that produce breakout inventions or alter conventions. Well written.
The author casts a wide net in his exploration of trickster gods and their cultural impact. I enjoyed reading this book, even on the rare occasions when I was not fully persuaded by the author’s reasoning. That, for me, is the mark of a good book.
TERRIFIC!!! Everyone who questions, who is an artist, and actor, a comedian, must read this book. I thought the trickster was outside. I was so happy to discover the trickster in me. Without the trickster human worlds would harden and crumble. I reread parts all the time.
It's so easy
Lewis Hyde is an amazing observer of history, humans and their myths. Every paragraph either teaches me something new, or gives me a completely different way of understanding this place that we call Life on Earth. A wordsmith extraordinaire, the stories pull you in and make this book difficult to put down!
This book is a treasure. I have collected trickster stories across cultures for over 50 years. They have woven their way into much of my art work and I've drawn upon them often when talking especially to children. Hyde explains the origins and similarities across time and culture better than anyone I've ever read. It is comprehensive, wonderfully informative, and very easy to read. You'll want to read this book over and over again.
Amazing book. I learned so much.