Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Know Your Archetype: The Joker

Joker Card by Anry on Deviant Art

Do you know someone named "Jack?" Jack-Be-Nimble, Jack Spratt, jumping over candlesticks, Pumpkin Kings, Jack of All Trades, Jack in the Box, Jack O'Lantern, Jack in Lord of the Flies, Jack the Ripper, and "the Man Jack" in Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, and the list goes on...

Well, if you don't know anyone named Jack, you probably know a rogue or two. And I'd wager a mage, also.

Jokers are the tricksters, and their idea of a good time is on a spectrum from "harmless prank" to "psychopath." They are the coyote of lore, the Loki, the unknown element, the surprise. I am fascinated by Ares' sister, Eris. While he ruled over war and large-scale catastrophes, I always held the opinion that her deeds cause more harm in the world. She is the goddess of strife and discord, and her ploy with the golden apple toppled kingdoms. Oh, she starts plenty of sh*t, that's for sure. Every playground fight can trace its roots back to Eris' gossipy ways. But she is not a joker, per se. The joker, well, jokes. and the whole notion, "it's funny because it's true," and the fine line between tears and laughter is no archetypcal accident. We laugh at slapstick--and I am going to stop analyzing humor. To me, that's like pulling the wings off of a butterfly and wondering why it won't fly anymore.

Just--be cautious of the joker, for oftentimes the joke's on you. Empathy is not their strong suit, recognizing when they've taken something too far is a challenge for them, and not one of their priorties. They are in it for the spectacle, the laugh. If you want to read more on some of the best "joker" archetypes around, read Neil Gaiman's works, especially The Graveyard Book. The Man Jack, and other Jacks in the story, will make your blood run cold.

And be careful when you click that portal. You might get a surprise.

Postscript: To my former guildmaster, you may be a joker, but there are more than one of us who still consider you one of the best raid leaders of all time - an Ace, truly. 

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