Kierkegaard’s clown


“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”
Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part I

Shakespeare said; “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” As I read through this; I realised the singular feature that differentiates a clown from all the other stage performers is that a clown must always have the same face and must always play the same character.

To a people who change their faces every step of the way in life, any man keeping the same face on is a clown. A clown; simply unaware of the importance of diplomacy and other niceties of life that one might need to establish relationships and preserve friendships, uncomprehending of the delicate subtleties of compromises.

The thought of the courage that one must require to keep on the same face is a terrifying prospect to such people. They must constantly reassure themselves that there has to be a fault in the conscience of the clown. “He must enjoy the attention”… “perhaps he is just eccentric”.

Courage is an essential byproduct of the strength one must acquire in order to overcome the impediments that life places in one’s path. Such a man’s courage also compels him to do what he in his conscience believes to be right, even if it requires him to warn those who ridiculed him, of the fire that shall engulf them in flames but of course, why would anyone listen to a clown?