TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

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TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Liz » Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:35 pm

Ch. XI. Pg. 240. “Of course. He who rebels, exercises his freedom, and takes the risk can earn a different fate. That’s what this book is about, hence the joker, paradigm of freedom. The only truly free man, and also the most wise. In occult philosophy the joker is identified with the mercury of the alchemists. Emissary of the gods, he guides souls through the kingdom of shadows….” Speak to this in reference to this story?
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby gemini » Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:03 pm

I seem to be playing catch up on this book discussion, too busy this month off the computer. I seem to be answering two questions each day as I missed the previous one.
I just expended all my brain power on yesterdays insoluble quote and find todays question just as taxing.

Well as we learned in previous tidbits, it was only the joker who was able to speak truth to the King providing any true guidance to the leader so unreachable to the others. This leads me to believe that being truthful which sometimes requires being a rebel was being free. Suppressing your own truths is the same as being a prisoner so being brave enough to be truthful would make you " the only free man".
Just my own opinion again but in reference to our story, I think this is Corso taking a step out of his imaginary book like living into the real world where the plot is not always written. He sees the girl clearly for what she is and makes up his mind what he plans to do. He accepts the truth of his findings and had to take the risk of his convictions.

.
Last edited by gemini on Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Liz » Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:10 pm

gemini wrote: Well as we learned in previous tidbits, it was the only the joker who was able to speak truth to the King providing any true guidance to the leader so unreachable to the others. This leads me to believe that being truthful which sometimes requires being a rebel was being free. Suppressing your own truths is the same as being a prisoner so being brave enough to be truthful would make you " the only free man".

Gemini, I love how you explain this. :disco:
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Parlez » Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:30 pm

Very nice, gemini! :cool:
I'll only offer at this moment (since my brain is still trying to digest suec's dissertation on the chapter titles) my own intertextual association vis a vis the Alchemical connection between the Joker and Mercury: In Astrology, the sign of Gemini is ruled by the planet Mercury. That means Johnny has an affinity for expressing those same mercurial qualities that are used to describe the Joker in this passage. (If you believe is such things, of course...)
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Liz » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:39 pm

Parlez wrote:Very nice, gemini! :cool:
I'll only offer at this moment (since my brain is still trying to digest suec's dissertation on the chapter titles) my own intertextual association vis a vis the Alchemical connection between the Joker and Mercury: In Astrology, the sign of Gemini is ruled by the planet Mercury. That means Johnny has an affinity for expressing those same mercurial qualities that are used to describe the Joker in this passage. (If you believe is such things, of course...)

Or even if you don't believe. :-O
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby radwen » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:33 am

For Corso, the message could be that only by breaking his own self imposed rules can he become free and/or change his fate. He has really confined himself to an emotionally unavailable life. I think he is bright but unimaginative. The joker represents everything that Corso is not.
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Endora » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:40 am

Liz wrote:
gemini wrote: Well as we learned in previous tidbits, it was the only the joker who was able to speak truth to the King providing any true guidance to the leader so unreachable to the others. This leads me to believe that being truthful which sometimes requires being a rebel was being free. Suppressing your own truths is the same as being a prisoner so being brave enough to be truthful would make you " the only free man".

Gemini, I love how you explain this. :disco:


This bothers me. I am not comfortable with the equation of truthfulness and freedom. Being truthful means you have the chance to be hurtful to others, doesn't it? It gives one the freedom to be unkind, it seems to over-ride other responsibilities. Often people supress their own truths for good reason!

In the context of the story, is Corso's attempt at free thinking a good thing? For Corso? Maybe not. For others? I can't see any real benefit.
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Parlez » Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:23 am

The passage in question refers to the conversation Corso is having with the Baroness about the engravings, namely the engraving of the joker. She's filling him in on the details ~ the symbolism of the image, the various mythologies in which the joker, or fool, has appeared over time, and why. In history, the truthtelling fool has always enjoyed rare status and honor, particularly in societies where authority resides with a lone ruler such as a king. The jester can confront the king and get away with it because he resides outside the mainstream of society. He can speak the truth because, essentially, he is considered to be mad. He's not expected to conform to the ordinary norms of the day. Ergo he can speak on behalf of all the ordinary citizens who can't.

That's a free man, IMO.
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Liz » Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:30 pm

Parlez wrote:The passage in question refers to the conversation Corso is having with the Baroness about the engravings, namely the engraving of the joker. She's filling him in on the details ~ the symbolism of the image, the various mythologies in which the joker, or fool, has appeared over time, and why. In history, the truthtelling fool has always enjoyed rare status and honor, particularly in societies where authority resides with a lone ruler such as a king. The jester can confront the king and get away with it because he resides outside the mainstream of society. He can speak the truth because, essentially, he is considered to be mad. He's not expected to conform to the ordinary norms of the day. Ergo he can speak on behalf of all the ordinary citizens who can't.

That's a free man, IMO.

I’d say so, Parlez. Thanks for pointing out the context of this quote. I had totally lost sight of that. I was focusing on the meaning of it in reference to the entire story. I’m not sure that there is one, but with Pérez-Reverte, you think every deep passage is tied to something else intertexually. And maybe this is something that relates more to the end of the story (which we can’t get into yet). But back to this quote…..I don’t get the association between being free and guiding souls through the kingdom of the shadows.

Endora, generally speaking, I think that suppressing the truth can hurt not only yourself but others. Sometimes people need to hear the truth. And there is security in knowing where you stand.
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Parlez » Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:12 pm

I don't get that part either, Liz. Mercury is known as the fleet-footed speedy messenger of the gods, but I've never heard of him (or his avatar, the joker) as being the souls' guide through the kingdom of shadows. That sounds to me more like the devil. But in that context, the devil is imaged usually as a more cathonic entity, like a snake or a dragon. It's a stretch, but I guess you could say that someone who's so disenfranchized and beyond the pale in 'normal' society would, by necessity, be 'free' to become familiar with and comfortable in the realm of darkness and shadow. In which case, the joker might be seen as a suitable guide, showing the way through the labyrinth leading to esoteric knowledge and depth. In some mythologies there's also the Trickster ~ like the bogeyman, who hides out in the dark forest and jumps out at unsuspecting passers-by and scares the pants of them. Why? To try to get them out of their conventional ways of thinking and to remind them of the dark, shadowy realms they're trying so hard to ignore/avoid.
Maybe that's the connection here...? :eyebrow:
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby gemini » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:29 pm

Endora wrote:
Liz wrote:
gemini wrote: Well as we learned in previous tidbits, it was the only the joker who was able to speak truth to the King providing any true guidance to the leader so unreachable to the others. This leads me to believe that being truthful which sometimes requires being a rebel was being free. Suppressing your own truths is the same as being a prisoner so being brave enough to be truthful would make you " the only free man".

Gemini, I love how you explain this. :disco:


This bothers me. I am not comfortable with the equation of truthfulness and freedom. Being truthful means you have the chance to be hurtful to others, doesn't it? It gives one the freedom to be unkind, it seems to over-ride other responsibilities. Often people supress their own truths for good reason!

In the context of the story, is Corso's attempt at free thinking a good thing? For Corso? Maybe not. For others? I can't see any real benefit.


I see where you are coming from Endora but your first line about not being comfortable with the equation of truthfulness and freedom really stopped me in my tracks. I had in my head, world views, politics, and larger things than just saying truth as a hurtful thing towards any individual even though it could be used in this way. For the larger view I always think truthfulness is freedom. Any group or society needs it to be free. This is why I thought the joker played such a useful role.
In our story, I see Corso as a free thinker and an intelligent person but he had lost his soul along the way. What he used his thought process for was not in his own best interest. That does not mean he was any the less truthful or thorough in his pursuit.
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby gemini » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:58 pm

Parlez wrote:I don't get that part either, Liz. Mercury is known as the fleet-footed speedy messenger of the gods, but I've never heard of him (or his avatar, the joker) as being the souls' guide through the kingdom of shadows. That sounds to me more like the devil. But in that context, the devil is imaged usually as a more cathonic entity, like a snake or a dragon. It's a stretch, but I guess you could say that someone who's so disenfranchized and beyond the pale in 'normal' society would, by necessity, be 'free' to become familiar with and comfortable in the realm of darkness and shadow. In which case, the joker might be seen as a suitable guide, showing the way through the labyrinth leading to esoteric knowledge and depth. In some mythologies there's also the Trickster ~ like the bogeyman, who hides out in the dark forest and jumps out at unsuspecting passers-by and scares the pants of them. Why? To try to get them out of their conventional ways of thinking and to remind them of the dark, shadowy realms they're trying so hard to ignore/avoid.
Maybe that's the connection here...? :eyebrow:


Lis and Parlez, both of you have me thinking on this little statement. …

..I don’t get the association between being free and guiding souls through the kingdom of the shadows.
As Endora pointed out truth can be used in a hurful way instead of always being good and all our combined thoughts has me pondering what Perez Reverte was going for here.

Parlez said
Mercury is known as the fleet-footed speedy messenger of the gods, but I've never heard of him (or his avatar, the joker) as being the souls' guide through the kingdom of shadows.
It sounds as though your instinct is to defend astrology from the dark side. Your instinct to protect astrology and mine to protect truth both leave out the fact that although we don't like it, evil does exist. Truth can be used for good or evil. The devil or fallen angel supplies the balance. Remember it takes some sorrow to appreciate happiness. The other thing here is that truth still leaves one with making their own choice. Most of us reading this book seem to rebel at Corso's choices but still we understand that he is truthful like the joker.

Remember our discussion about punishment for heresy. That was religion suppressing truth instead of offering choice. The first alchemist became our later scientist and doctors so truth can lead in many directions.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Liz » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:52 pm

Parlez wrote:I don't get that part either, Liz. Mercury is known as the fleet-footed speedy messenger of the gods, but I've never heard of him (or his avatar, the joker) as being the souls' guide through the kingdom of shadows. That sounds to me more like the devil. But in that context, the devil is imaged usually as a more cathonic entity, like a snake or a dragon. It's a stretch, but I guess you could say that someone who's so disenfranchized and beyond the pale in 'normal' society would, by necessity, be 'free' to become familiar with and comfortable in the realm of darkness and shadow. In which case, the joker might be seen as a suitable guide, showing the way through the labyrinth leading to esoteric knowledge and depth. In some mythologies there's also the Trickster ~ like the bogeyman, who hides out in the dark forest and jumps out at unsuspecting passers-by and scares the pants of them. Why? To try to get them out of their conventional ways of thinking and to remind them of the dark, shadowy realms they're trying so hard to ignore/avoid.
Maybe that's the connection here...? :eyebrow:

Parlez, I don’t see this figure as being free at all, being stuck in this role of a guide through the Labyrinth for eternity. This makes me think I am misunderstanding the point. :-)
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Liz » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:57 pm

gemini wrote:
Parlez wrote:I don't get that part either, Liz. Mercury is known as the fleet-footed speedy messenger of the gods, but I've never heard of him (or his avatar, the joker) as being the souls' guide through the kingdom of shadows. That sounds to me more like the devil. But in that context, the devil is imaged usually as a more cathonic entity, like a snake or a dragon. It's a stretch, but I guess you could say that someone who's so disenfranchized and beyond the pale in 'normal' society would, by necessity, be 'free' to become familiar with and comfortable in the realm of darkness and shadow. In which case, the joker might be seen as a suitable guide, showing the way through the labyrinth leading to esoteric knowledge and depth. In some mythologies there's also the Trickster ~ like the bogeyman, who hides out in the dark forest and jumps out at unsuspecting passers-by and scares the pants of them. Why? To try to get them out of their conventional ways of thinking and to remind them of the dark, shadowy realms they're trying so hard to ignore/avoid.
Maybe that's the connection here...? :eyebrow:


Lis and Parlez, both of you have me thinking on this little statement. …

..I don’t get the association between being free and guiding souls through the kingdom of the shadows.
As Endora pointed out truth can be used in a hurful way instead of always being good and all our combined thoughts has me pondering what Perez Reverte was going for here.

Parlez said
Mercury is known as the fleet-footed speedy messenger of the gods, but I've never heard of him (or his avatar, the joker) as being the souls' guide through the kingdom of shadows.
It sounds as though your instinct is to defend astrology from the dark side. Your instinct to protect astrology and mine to protect truth both leave out the fact that although we don't like it, evil does exist. Truth can be used for good or evil. The devil or fallen angel supplies the balance. Remember it takes some sorrow to appreciate happiness. The other thing here is that truth still leaves one with making their own choice. Most of us reading this book seem to rebel at Corso's choices but still we understand that he is truthful like the joker.

Remember our discussion about punishment for heresy. That was religion suppressing truth instead of offering choice. The first alchemist became our later scientist and doctors so truth can lead in many directions.

Like I said before, generally speaking, I believe truth is good. But as gemini pointed out, it can be used for evil. So it just depends on the situation and how you are using it. It can be used as a good thing in relationships, but it can also be used in an unnecessary and hurtful way—what we call being brutally honest. I think it needs to be used wisely and with tact and discretion.

Back to the world view of equating truth with freedom. What I liked about your original correlation of the two was that if an individual or a people can be true to themselves, living authentically, they become free. It can work the other way too. If you feel free to be yourself, you will feel like you can be authentic.
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Re: TCD Question #11 - The Only Truly Free Man

Unread postby Parlez » Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:28 pm

gemini wrote:

Parlez said
Mercury is known as the fleet-footed speedy messenger of the gods, but I've never heard of him (or his avatar, the joker) as being the souls' guide through the kingdom of shadows.
It sounds as though your instinct is to defend astrology from the dark side. Your instinct to protect astrology

Mercury, the messenger of the gods, is from Greek mythology, not astrology. Western Astrology borrowed the interpretations for the planets from pre-exisitng Greco-Roman mythology. Ergo, I'm defending/protecting nothing; I'm just stating academic info about Mercury, based on a mythology that contends he was sent from the gods who resided above, not below. If you want underworld, satanic connections you have to look elsewhere - to the god Hades and his ilk. Mercury was not a messenger of evil, or for Hades, or sent From Hell.
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