From the chapter:
History is a Nightmare from which I’m Trying to Awaken
“It is the disconnect between dreams and reality that causes the wishes of the past to swell up like waves on the bay and threaten to capsize the vessel of hope…” – Cassidy Whitson, Alligator Blogger
And if that isn’t a description for VANITY, I don’t know what it is. What VANITY does, and its attendant preoccupations is it progressively makes for us a gallows out of the very stuff of life, and before we know it we are caught in a sort of liminality. If purgatory is that limbo that exists between heaven and hell, then liminality is a kind of purgatory for the living. It’s not a place you want to find yourself, because you are trapped, paralysed and unable to live or die.
Personal and social crisis and collapse can bring this on, but in either case, weakened foundations don’t collapse overnight. They are eaten away by poisonous dreams:
Without stable institutions (which are effectively broken down in a liminal period), “people will look at concrete individuals for guidance”. This notion of imitation is closely tied to that of the trickster figure. The trickster is a universal figure that can be found in folktales and myths of nearly all cultures. These tricksters can be characterized as follows:
[they] are always marginal characters: outsiders, as they cannot trust or be trusted, cannot give or share, they are incapable of living in a community; they are repulsive, as – being insatiable – they are characterized by excessive eating, drinking, and sexual behavior, having no sense of shame; they are not taken seriously, given their affinity with jokes, storytelling, and fantasizing.
In the context of liminality, the trickster is a very dangerous figure: “in a liminal situation where certainties are lost, imitative behavior escalates, and tricksters can be mistaken for charismatic leaders”.
Do you see Jodi in that? Do you see the relationship between the collapse of ‘stable institutions’ (these could include parents, authority figures or just good old ordinary leadership) and rise of tricksters. Tricksters are by their very nature opportunists, who prey on vanities of the disenfranchised, and they do so using empty populism. If this doesn’t sound particularly bad, well, the greatest arch villains of all time – factual and fictional – fall into this category. They rise when the world falls. They enter the world through its darkest cracks. They are the Joker, Loki and Hitler. And Jodi Arias. If we are not careful, tricksters emerge through the fabric of our own lives, and may ruin vast fractions of our fortunes and eat away at our Life Force.
VANITY is available on Amazon