Mischief-Making for Change

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

“The trickster is anybody who’s a bit of an outsider. They’re the ones who make change. They’re not thinking about making change; they’re almost doing it in a selfish way. But because they’re working outside the rules, they change the rules. Everything around them is always new, everything is an opportunity.”

Angela Cheng

Over the long weekend, my wife and I spent some time looking through the archives of old TED talks and stumbled upon a great one from humorist-philosopher Emily Levine where she talks about the important role of the trickster in facilitating change. The talk draws from the writings of Lewis Hyde and his book Trickster Makes This World.  Throughout, Levine illustrates both through modeling and in her explicit point-making how “the fool,” the humorist, the mischief maker, can be an important agent of change without necessarily intending to be, and in so doing shows how we might tap our own sense of humor and “non-sense” in important ways, including by way of:

  • Boundary-crossing;
  • Embracing paradox, or both/and thinking;
  • Holding ideas lightly; and
  • Making connections between fields that do not often seem to go together.
For more, check out Levine’s talk in full below.

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