10 September, 2008

One Man, One Cup: the transgressive comedy of Till Eulenspiegel

This is just to show that there is nothing new under the sun.

In the early sixteenth century, the tales of Till Eulenspiegel were published. Till, a jester of anarchic and trickster bent, delighted in transgressive comedy and basically anything that would tweak powerful people's noses. Rather like Heath Ledger's joker, minus the malice.

In one of the tales, Eulenspiegel is in a jest-off competition with another jester. Desperate to win, and having been matched on every joke and trick thus far, he squats on the floor, defecates, and eats half with a spoon. He invites his rival to enjoy the other half, and then to do the same. His rival declines and Till wins.

That such a motif is present in literature from so long ago and is still so morbidly fascinating today*... well, I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to what that says about humanity in general.

* No, I have not seen it, nor do I want to. I don't know anyone who HAS, yet everyone has heard of the meme somewhere. I cannot explain its apparent "popularity."


Rei said...

I learned about it from xkcd.

Alea said...

I also heard about it from xkcd.

God, that's disgusting; I gag just thinking about it.