Quote: Alan Watts / The Joker

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But the fool is in a different class from the monk. And to understand his role fully we have to go into a number of preliminary things, the most important of which is to understand the nature of a social institution. Because, you see, the standpoint of the fool is that all social institutions are games. He sees the whole world as game-playing, and that’s why—when people take their games seriously and put on stern and pious expressions—the fool gets the giggles: because he knows it’s all a game. Now, when I say that he sees everything as a game, this does not mean mere game. Hamlet, although it’s a play, is not mere entertainment. Or when you go to listen to a great orchestra, it is playing music indeed, but you are not seeing something purely frivolous.

The idea of game, basically, is this: that the nature of the world is musical. That is to say, it is doing all these forms of trees and stars and people and all their complexities just to do them. It has no purpose beyond doing it. And in exactly the same way, in music: music has no destination. It isn’t aimed at the future. It does travel in time; that is true. But it doesn’t aim at a goal in time. The point of music is every phrase as it unfolds itself, and as you perceive the relationship of those phrases to earlier and later phrases. But music itself is dance. It’s dancing with sound. And likewise, in the art of dancing, you are not traveling, you are not aiming at a particular place. You are dancing to dance.

And so, what you might call the musical or game theory of the world is that everything that is happening is its own point. It’s true that things do develop. For example, the seed develops into the tree. And you might say, from one point of view, then, that the point of the seed is the tree; that’s the purpose of the seed. But that doesn’t really hold up, because then the tree goes and has seeds again. And so you might say, then, that the purpose of the tree is the seed. Which is which? The whole thing is one process, you see? They really aren’t parts. The seed isn’t one event and the tree another. It’s all one long, continuous event, going on and on just for the sake of going on and on.

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Who is Alan Watts?

…”I’m an entertainer. That is to say, in the same sense, that when you go to a concert and you listen to someone play Mozart, he has nothing to sell except the sound of the music. He doesn’t want to convert you to anything. He doesn’t want you to join an organization in favor of Mozart’s music as opposed to, say, Beethoven’s. And I approach you in the same spirit as a musician with his piano or a violinist with his violin. I just want you to enjoy a point of view that I enjoy.” ~Alan Watts…

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By S.D. McKinley

S.D. McKinley lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in the first half of the 1980's and grew up in Wisconsin as a young boy, then moved to Georgia when he turned exactly twelve years old. During teenage years, he raced dirt track go karts and played guitar. He discovered his current love for all kinds of art after his mid-life crisis at 25 years old. S.D. McKinley began writing books in 2017.

2 replies on “Quote: Alan Watts / The Joker”

Yeah, I was really introduced to him by some YouTube videos coupling his lectures with ( I’m not sure if you are familiar ) a genre of electronic music called “chillstep”. It made a great combo and then I really came to appreciate his stuff. And, thank you for the recent follow! 🤠

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