by Alan Watts
The English author, public speaker, and "philosophical entertainer" Alan Watts was recognised for popularising Buddhism and Eastern thoughts in the West.
In the following segment from his seminar "The Joker", Alan Watts articulates that the concept of the Joker in a story about a man who is labeled a "fool" by society. He is an outcast who is not taken seriously. However, the Joker uses his wit and humour to point out the absurdity of life and the human condition. He teaches people to not take life so seriously. In the end, the Joker's method is compared to those of the fakir, monk, yogi or guru for awakening one's consciousness.
"The joker is the card beyond role. The card that’s wild, that can be any card in the pack. It’s delivered from being a particular someone and can be an anyone. And it pops up here, and it pops up there, and it pops up here. You never know when the joker will appear.
"When the joker sees a person taking his life seriously and regarding himself as extremely important, there is something a little bit funny about it and he is inclined to get the giggles."
The Fool, The Joker and The Monk
"In some ways, the fool (or the joker) and the monk have a parallel function. The monk is a person who abandons society, he is an outlaw, only he is on the upper side rather than on the lower side. As the ordinary criminal is below caste the outlaw in the sense of the monk is an abovecast. In the time of Buddha his followers wore orange robes because those were the garments of criminals. They wore the garbs of the lower outcasts but were respected as upper outcasts. In modern society it's very difficult to be in this position."
"The worst kind of criticism is the one who pokes fun... The joker doesn't outrightly deride things, he is not a slapstick comedian, he gives people the giggles about things they thought were terribly sacred and that is extremely demoralizing."
The jester in Chase's painting, fortifying himself or "keying up" with a drink before his comic antics.
"The Fool's standpoint is that all social institutions are games. He sees the whole world as game playing. That's why, when people take their games seriously and take on stern and pious expressions the Fool gets the giggles because he knows that it is all a game. Not a 'mere game' or mere entertainment, but it is not frivolous.Read the full transcript here►
The World of Jokers
In many cases the jokers are removed and binned by the players. Amateur poker schools will often open a new deck, throw the jokers in the bin, and then play with the deck. However, some are undoubtedly removed by joker collectors who later on may well sell the jokers separately.
John Waddington Ltd, Leeds & London, (c.1922-1995)
De la Rue, London, (1832-1969)
During the 1940s and 1950s, Waddington's were printing De la Rue and Goodall cards as well as their own. Each pack was manufactured with the ace of spades of each maker on the sheet, but with the same courts and jokers, so that packs could be made up for each firm and sold under their respective brand names (e.g. 'Crown', 'Viceroy' or 'No.1').
Mardon, Son & Hall, Bristol, (c1930-35)
Porterprint, Jarvis Porter, (c1935-70)
Simon Wintle, (1987)
Woodpecker Press Ltd., (c1988-89)
Games & Print Services, Essex, (1997-2001)
Richard Edward Ltd, London, (1997-2001)
Catherine Kelly, Dublin, (1999)
Member since February 01, 1996
Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.
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