Often, a fool is looked upon as someone who is silly. A person not to be taken seriously or that can be serious. We probably all know someone that is instantly recognisable as the messer of the friend group. In a social setting they will make the people around them laugh in an effort to make them feel at ease and entertained. Equally, when spending time with this person alone you may find them to be a great source of advice and understanding. In literature and film the fool is someone that provides good counsel and acts as a mirror to the various personalities around them. If you are kind to a fool they will reciprocate the sentiment, however if you mistreat them they will reflect that and retreat with wit. This is a person that will always have the best intention to make the people around them feel good and see reason. The fool understand the duality of people, appreciates that life is nonlinear and is accepting of what is inevitable and unavoidable. They don’t seem so foolish now, do they?
King Lear was the Shakespeare play I studied for my Leaving Certificate. My favourite character, from the offset, was The Fool. I think I initially gravitated towards him because, on a superficial level, I was drawn to a character of that title and profession. I’m guilty of being a bit of a messer, myself. As we waded through the tragedy, I didn’t expect this character to be such an insightful and grounding figure in Lear’s life. There was Lear, a man of immense power and nobility being emotionally abused by his family, naive to falsehoods around him and mentally deteriorating at a rapid pace and his most sincere confidant was the person most mocked by his court. The Fool, in this instance and in other depictions in popular culture is the most judged figure, and yet they are the most level headed.
Perhaps this stems from their ability to make light of the things in life that the majority of people take so seriously. A fool is someone who is simultaneously removed from their head but also very conscious of what they are feeling. They can see the seriousness and also the humour in what happens that we cannot foresee.
When something unfortunate has happened to me – trivial or of enormous emotional impact – I tend to turn it into a joke when I’m required to me to talk about it. I suppose it’s an exercise of detachment from the event which grants me an outward perspective to assess the effects. A sort of juxtaposition of the internal and external working together, having to be your own fool. I once thought an ATM devoured my card at the tail end of what had been a very long and innocuous night. Close to tears and reaching a point of panic I realised that there was nothing I could do in that moment to remedy the situation other than to go home and cancel my card, which I did. Hours later whilst cleaning my wallet I found my card, which was at the point of discovery deemed useless. Instead of getting upset or angry I laughed. I regaled the occurrence to a friend (voice messages complete with exaggerated reenactments of my despair) and now, it remains one of our favourite things to make fun of.
I didn’t see it as an awful thing, instead it was something that happened and I decided not to let the inconvenience of it irk me, I chose to laugh about it and make light of my reaction to it because really, what else is there? I don’t see the benefits of wallowing. That only prolongs the agony. Once you accept that all things pass, especially feelings of pain, and begin to see the funny side of why things happen to you and laugh at yourself then you’ll see that things don’t have to be so hard and complicated. Just take after Shakespeare’s Fool in the art of seeing clearly, “Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning; now thou art without a figure: I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.”
Kendrick Lamar – ‘HUMBLE’ (Top Dawg Entertainment)
It has been an exciting two weeks for Kendrick Lamar fans as the West coast rapper unveiled two songs online, presumably from his highly anticipated fourth LP. The amazingly diverse ‘The Heart Part IV’ was followed by a video for another song, ‘HUMBLE’. In ‘HUMBLE’, Lamar is airing his grievances on photoshop and a generation with struggles to maintain modesty set to a punchy, repetitious beat that can be jarring. The diversity of these songs make is difficult to grasp an idea on how the forthcoming album from Lamar will sound, his collaborations and professional choices in the interim from To Pimp A Butterfly have made it even more difficult to predict what he will be channeling. His recent features (think about the contrast between his verses on Maroon 5’s ‘Don’t Wanna Know’ and Danny Brown’s immense ‘Really Doe’) have been just as varied as these two recent songs shared by the musician. So, let’s enjoy what we have now.
Danny Brown – ‘Ain’t It Funny’ (Warp Records)
Danny Brown and Jonah Hill played a coy game during the week as they told people to keep their eyes peeled for a project that they had collaborated on which would be unveiled later on that day. The eventual announcement culminated in a music video for Brown’s outrageously infectious single ‘Ain’t It Funny’ from the outstanding Atrocity Exhibition. Hill directed the 90s sitcom based video, which co-stars Gus Van Sant and Lauren Avery. In the video Uncle Danny is struggling with alcohol and prescription pills dependency before an audience revelling in his personal troubles. It is a poignant piece of work from Brown and Hill as they demonstrates the vindictiveness in our inherent tendency towards voyeurism, with Danny saying, “I’m glad you found my pain entertaining.” Once again, Brown reaffirms his excellence.
Slowdive – ‘Sugar For The Pill’ (Dead Oceans)
Slowdive have been out of action for twenty-two years, and it would be all too easy to try and return with something flashy to generate interest. Pizazz has never been the shoegaze MO, though. Instead, the video pays homage to the movements that defined the Slowdive genre – the shots never fully show us the band’s faces, with staccato lighting of side profiles reminding the viewer that fans of the band in the 1990s would have been used to seeing them play while staring at the ground. What Slowdive’s ambient sound allows for is that natural drifting of thoughts for the listener. It inspires daydreaming, and perhaps this is what the viewer is being shown – the shapes and colours that create the motif of Slowdive’s unhindered imaginings.
-Grace de Bláca
Mac DeMarco – ‘This Old Dog’ (Captured Tracks)
Much hype has been building lately around the impending release of Mac DeMarco’s new album This Old Dog which has only been spurred on by his latest track and accompanying video with the same name. The video for This Old Dog is quintessentially DeMarco, in its weird, silly and oddly cheery way. It features men donning canine masks, hanging around a sun-drenched town and walking through leafy fields. The gentle pace and relaxed vibe of the music is mirrored in the lazy, slow movements of the human/dog hybrids. The video is an exciting look into what’s to come; more loony, hazy Mac DeMarco magic that we’ve all been craving since his 2014 release Salad Days.
Explosions in the Sky – ‘The Ecstatics’ (Temporary Residence Ltd
Paper dolls are the staple of many a childhood activity. They’re an easy way to artistically express yourself, without having to commit to originality. These simple paper shapes are reimagined in the latest video from Explosions in the Sky, where a there is initially one paper doll, rippling with movement. These transform into waves that create new shapes, creating webs and forests. Ultimately, two paper dolls are created, a sense of companionship that is shimmering with iridescent colour, before splitting into animals running away from each other. Paper is easy to tear, disposable, but the shapes become kaleidoscopes of glass. While glass has a sense of permanence, it holds with it the potential to be broken – something the viewer is reminded of, as the video finishes with a solitary figure once more.
-Grace de Bláca