Calling All Roosters!

DDT should never be used. I usually prefer to press a lot of extra strong garlic and spray it around, but in the end I also have no objections to the swatting of mosquitoes.

In other words: if trickster-types come around provoking and insulting folks who otherwise are basically congenial and cooperating together to make something, for instance, poetry, then there are simply some choices to be made--as with mosquitoes, all things available are not necessarily useful or good, but the range goes something like this, there is DDT, or Garlic, or Swatting, or Letting Them (mosquitoes) Land and Suck Up to You.

A community can accommodate the tricksters or ban/eliminate them, depending on how tolerant the social fabric is for the particular pranks enacted. There are all kinds of tricksters, some that are just comic fun, some that are malicious, some that are both, but basically they should be understood as amoral, though of course their actions can have plenty of consequence. Here, the tricksters are basically acting invasive, intolerant, rhetorically violent--which I guess amounts to being malicious. In either case, the animals can't be blamed for anything, especially not the human tricksterish social-pose, which is all about being the center of attention, and hoping to be so for a long time, and at the expense of others. Odd to note how advertising is also all about that, eh? Tribal cultures have lots of variations on understanding or dealing with tricksters and hey, it can be fun to have a nice little self-righteous, know-it-all poetry-coyote, -crow, -vulture, -badger, or -rooster-full-of-Auden (or hey, why stop there?--why not just call on the American king of poetry, Harold Bloom...) trying to hop on your back every now and then, right?

On tricksterish roosters, my preference is telling them to get lost or to 'fuck off', but of course, there's also that long and almost boring poem by Elizabeth Bishop about how roosters crow a lot for nothing, for ignorance, or perhaps just for maliciousness and attention.

Mosquitoes, tho?--hey, they are more innocent, less worthy of poetry, much easier to deal with.

Anyway, it's about boundaries and limitations--how those work, ya kno? My limitation is that I already know it's not my rhetorical job to show unruly folks a better way to be in the social sphere. I'm thinking of it this way, in terms of a notion of Gloria Anzaldua's: the problematic of "this bridge called my back." That's where, when someone is acting stupid, intolerant, invasive, hateful, and on the attack, all the while expecting me to similarly engage with them or to excuse their ignorant behavior, then I'm not going to engage with them personally because "my back" is not their "bridge." Except to make clear the limits of my tolerance, I don't have anything else to say to them because to engage with them is also to put myself in the position of making my back a bridge for their bullshit, for their disrespectful behaviors that I did not invite. And neither did anyone else here invite that kind of crap. To engage them would be another way to let them continue to use me or others badly. So, I just send the clearest signal I can of refusal to engage--which in this case, is to say 'fuck off' (sometimes it has to be said more than once, and sometimes in several ways). What can be heard aloud right now is: me telling them No, I don't want to play your game--No, I don't want you in my personal space--No, get lost, I have nothing to say to you. Get it? If not, then I have to ask this: what part of fuck off do you not understand?

In a more idealistic world their violence and intolerance might be tolerated in the interest of helping them learn to take responsibility for their actions in this, the larger social sphere. Their tricksterish play could be absorbed and treated with some compassion, or even some humor which is what it sounds like they could use to counterbalance some of their excess violence toward others. Compassion of that sort, however, would take a lot of patience on the part of the rest of the community. Moreover, it would take lot of investment into making them and their noxious behaviors the center of the community. The antic behavior, then, would continue to be the focus of the community. Heck, it could go on forever that way, ya kno? In that regard, my opinion is that it would not serve the community very well, even if it would serve the tricksters, who could continue to be cute & violent and rude & intolerant as long as the community had patience for it, right?

But unfortunately, we are limited here, and have to work within the non-idealistic constraints of, oh gee: primarily a model of cooperation rather than one of divisive and self-centered antics.

On limits, then, there may be more, but I see at least one limit as a freedom: when people act like jerks around me then I have no problem letting them know--that is my choice, thus my exercise of freedom. I do so whether or not they think they can be violent simply because they can hide behind anonymity.

On the other hand, if they own up to the social responsibilities that come with having a name, well, if we disagree, they and I and others can choose together to respond by dialogue.

chris murray