For centuries, the trickster has been used in various narratives, including mythological, literary and cinematic, to convey the idea of agency, rebellion and, often turbulent, progress. In The Trickster and the System: Identity and Agency in Contemporary Society, Helena Bassil-Morozow shows how the trickster can be seen as a metaphor to describe the psycho-anthropological concept of change, an impulse that challenges the existing order of things, a progressive force that is a-structural and anti-structural in its nature. The book is about being able to see things from an unusual, even ‘odd’, perspective, which does not coincide with the homogenous normality of the mass, or the social system, or a political ideology, or some other kind of authority.
The Trickster and the System offers an analytical paradigm which can be used to examine relationships between tricksters and systems, change and stability, in a wide range of social, political and cultural contexts. It covers a range of systems, describes different types of tricksters and discusses possible conflicts, tensions and dialogues between the two opposing sides. One of the central ideas of the book is that social systems use shame as a tool to control and manage all kinds of tricksters – individuality, agency, creativity, spontaneity, innovation and initiative, to name but a few. The author argues that any society that neglects its tricksters (agents of change), ends up suffering from decay, stagnation – or even mass hysterical outbursts.
The Trickster and the System: Identity and Agency in Contemporary Society provides a fresh perspective on the trickster figure in a variety of cultural contexts. It covers a range of psychological, cultural, social and political phenomena, from personal issues to the highest level of society’s functioning: self-esteem and shame, lifestyle and relationships, creativity and self-expression, media, advertising, economy, political ideology and, most importantly, human identity and authenticity. The book is essential reading for scholars in the areas of psychoanalysis, analytical psychology, myth, cultural and media studies, narrative analysis, cultural anthropology, as well as anyone interested in critical issues in contemporary culture.