Thursday, October 12, 2006

Red Nose Manifesto

My uncle once showed me a baseball cap he had bought somewhere. On the brim of the cap was a bull's ass, and the bull had made its deposit on the very tip of the cap.

Donning such a hat is very funny and on target, but it exposes you too much. There is something much more effective, by way of subversion, in donning a clown nose and simply proceeding with what everybody else is doing.

Feeling disaffected? Act out a little. Get yourself a clown nose. Choose one with care. Or don't.

In Brazil, voters protested corruption and general assininity by going to the polls on October 1 with clown noses on. True. Read an account of it, with the government's reaction, here. There were other hijinks that election day as well. The movement that distributed clown noses aimed at a silent protest leveling humor at the absurdity of being required by law to vote in a system saturated with corruption and hypocrisy.

Voting with the nose on is one thing. Wearing it while you run for mayor is another.

And it is still another, again, for a sitting mayor to employ humor in transforming society. Here we are reminded of the work of Antanus Mockus of Bogota, Columbia. Among his initiatives was sending out hundreds of clowns into the streets to mock people who ignored the traffic laws.

Mockus said, ""The distribution of knowledge is the key contemporary task..Knowledge empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor, and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change."

You can even take your clown nose to do bodhisattva work all around the globe. For example, consider Clowns Without Borders or The Order of Disorder. It is not an easy path.

You do not have to be a drone and you do not have to be an outlaw. That's limiting in its own way.

In the world but not of it, you can participate in the assininity of the world without buying it. You won't be here for a long time anyway.

If these sentiments speak to you at all, you are already an eccentric. It is time, like my friend Cat Zen Space says, to come out of that closet.

It's not just you. It really doesn’t make sense.

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