I think I’ve figured it out: what is enjoyable about trolling done well is exactly what is enjoyable about the trickster archetype. The trickster is amoral, chaotic, beyond good and evil; his actions are not, for the most part, guided by a moral compass, and as such he seems incoherent when analyzed in moral terms.
The trickster archetype appears all over mythology, religion and literature, but the instance I’m most familiar with is Loki, the trickster of Norse mythology. And the frustrating thing about Loki as a literary character, as a person, is that he appears not to have a character: at one point he’s helping the good guys, the next he is their bitter enemy, and at no point does he seem to undergo a transformation of character that could account for the change. Both sides are integral to his character, but a traditional literary character cannot exist in a superposition of good and evil for any extended period of time, so the trickster appears like an anomaly. This is the same tendency we see with Anonymous: one moment, “Anonymous” appears like an internet army of white knights; the next, they’re fucking with people’s reputations, livelihoods and families for fun. These actions are not opposed, but simply expressions of the trickster archetype. The internet troll has made Loki into an ethos; but, as per the Trickster’s nature, the troll doesn’t take an ethos or code of conduct particularly seriously, so deviations from the established norm are, in a sense, normal. The Trickster’s character is charismatic, chaotic, amoral, highly sexually charged, and guided by a hedonism built around amusement of a hybrid sort: it’s an intellectual amusement, in that cleverness is a highly prized characteristic, and yet it’s also a juvenile amusement, in that it is often petty and frequently takes immature topics as its subjects.
If trolls got laid more, they would perfectly embody this archetype.
TICK TOCK BANG:(direct to audio)
NOISE IN MODERN ART
First broadcast January 27, 1999
CBC Radio One, 9:05 pm
Novelist Russell Smith (How Insensitive; Noise) devises a sound essay examining Futurism, minimalism, poetic collage, abstract painting, and the most listener-unfriendly music ever recorded, the style called Rotterdam, beloved of art students and disenchanted punk-rockers.
Futurism was an international art movement founded in Italy in 1909. It was (and is) a refreshing contrast to the weepy sentimentalism of Romanticism. The Futurists loved speed, noise, machines, pollution, and cities; they embraced the exciting new world that was then upon them rather than hypocritically enjoying the modern world’s comforts while loudly denouncing the forces that made them possible. Fearing and attacking technology has become almost second nature to many people today; the Futurist manifestos show us an alternative philosophy.Links to a bunch of breathless manifestos, including Russolo's Art of Noises.
Too bad they were all Fascists.
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