Fool, The


The Fool is numbered 0 — the number of unlimited potential — and so does not have a specific place in the sequence of the Tarot cards. The Fool can be placed either at the beginning of the Major Arcana or at the end. The Major Arcana is often considered the Fool’s journey through life and as such, he is ever present and therefore needs no number.

On the Fool Tarot card, a young man stands on the edge of a cliff, without a care in the world, as he sets out on a new adventure. He is gazing upwards toward the sky (and the Universe) and is seemingly unaware that he is about to skip off a precipice into the unknown. Over his shoulder rests a modest knapsack containing everything he needs — which isn’t much (let’s say he’s a minimalist). The white rose in his left hand represents his purity and innocence. And at his feet is a small white dog, representing loyalty and protection, that encourages him to charge forward and learn the lessons he came to learn. The mountains behind the Fool symbolise the challenges yet to come. They are forever present, but the Fool doesn’t care about them right now; he’s more focused on starting his expedition.

In spite of themselves, great artists are often people who cannot get over the simple fact of existence. “They miss the total image that the Fool apprehends immediately. The artist is often unable to fully endorse their own judgments as to the final meaning of anything, he concludes. The Fool is an “idiot” in the original sense of the Greek term idios, “one’s own”

The jester was certainly a key player in medieval court politics, but his power was commensurate with his irrelevance. Nothing is easier than dismissing it as a frivolity, yet those who meet it on its own ground gain access to the hidden facet of their situation. It is by virtue of its very separateness, its position outside the realm of the useful and the practical, that art reveals the Real.

The Fool is the Joker in the hand that was dealt to humanity, 

Art is the enemy of ideology

Art is not a license to do as one pleases, but the power to be what one has no choice but to follow one’s inmost desire. To create is to free oneself from the dialectical binds that keep the ideological in place. Creativity is freedom’s most primal expression, though not the freedom we were sold under the banner of democracy.

The Fool’s eye catches the apocalypse in every instant. Can the creative imagination bring forth the wild potentialities that lie beyond habit and convention. By its own uselessness, art shows the uselessness of everything else. It presents reality as a vast, terrible, beautiful, unfathomable emptiness, a whirl without end.

The Fool abandons the transcendent absolutism of the rational mind and places his faith in the immanence of the heart. All that remains to do is to approach each situation according to its specific needs, without idealizing or totalizing anything. And the heart, as Pascal put it, has reasons of its own, of which reason knows nothing.

Ideology can only be justified aesthetically. 

Ideology wants us to “set aside our differences,” as if our differences don’t really matter as much as the things on which we can all agree with ideology itself. You can almost define an ideolog as one who demands that others reach his conclusions from their premises.