The Brilliance of the Trickster
The Trickster is the most useless of all the Cognitive Functions! Even the Demon, the lowest, most repressed — most suppressed — function, full of our irritation, resentment, and hatred, has some consistent utility. But the Trickster, the manifestation of human ignorance via an utter lack of awareness, has little going for it. And worse, still, the Trickster acts as if it has it all figured out! The misdirection and deception it creates are only made worse by its obstinate belief that it is the one — perhaps the ONLY ONE — that sees clearly. This makes it undoubtedly the single most useless function known to human cognition.
Okay, the rant is nearly over. But seriously, why the Trickster? Assuming all the pieces of human cognition, like all the pieces of the human being, are not arbitrarily put in place, the Trickster must serve some purpose, right? And that purpose must be more than creating our own shortcomings, right? Let’s hope there’s more to be had from the Trickster than deception, ignorance, and the revealing of our own weaknesses.
In this article, I will attempt to convince myself (and hopefully you) that there’s something vital about the Trickster — and even that the Trickster is one of the most necessary functions we have. Further, that in its utter ignorance, there is a gem of absolute brilliance that acts as a force of personal renewal that spreads to others as well.
Gathering the Scraps
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. — William Shakespeare
The Trickster puts us in a fog. A fog where we think we know the way but end up walking blindly on the cavernous ground. The leading question we are asking is, Why does the Trickster exist? Where do we start to answer that? Let’s first look at where the Trickster sits in relation to the other Cognitive Attitudes.
The Trickster sits in:
- Axis with the Critic.
- Reflection with the Parent.
- Orbit with the Child
Axis with the Critic. The Input or Output of the Critic is tied on a string with the oblivious and optimistic Trickster. Cynicism and foolishness are tied together, just as wisdom and the accompanying virtue of the Trickster are tied together. What does this tell us about the Trickster?
Reflection with the Parent. The Reflection between the Trickster and the Parent is a Cognitive Battleground. Specifically, this is the Battleground of Responsibility where both the Parent and the Trickster are trying to fulfill the parental role and reach responsibility. Remember, before the Parent emerged, the Trickster was accessed more regularly to fill the parental role. But, once the Parent came online, friction between it and the Trickster followed to determine which function would be used more.
Orbit with the Child. The most curious thing about the Trickster is that it sits in direct connection to the source of one’s innocence and divinity. Now, it’s true that the Trickster is the shadow of the Child — which may lead one to think it is the opposite of innocent and divine. But the Child and Trickster will not exist without each other.
The Child/Trickster Orbit reveals the essential interplay between the ignorance and foolishness of the Trickster, and the innocence and divinity of the Child. With an introverted — source — Child function, the Child is the cause and the Trickster to effect. And with an introverted — source — Trickster function, the Trickster is the cause and the Child the effect. So, the question becomes: What is it about the relationship between the Trickster and Child that creates the circumstances for innocence and divinity to exist?
Each Cognitive Orbit can be harnessed to propel growth. In the same way that the Hero and Nemesis sit in Orbit with each other, and can make each other better, the Child and Trickster are no different.
The Trickster’s Role with the Child
We just referenced Chris Taylor’s Cognitive Battlegrounds to reveal that the Trickster and the Parent function compose the Battleground of Responsibility. They are Reflector Functions and, to achieve the height of responsibility, we need to develop both functions in the Battleground.
In order to raise the Child to become the Parent of our Subconscious, we need to utilize every function that is directly attached to the Child. We need the Parent, Trickster, and Critic through Axis, Orbit, and Reflection, to raise the Child.
The Parent needs the Trickster to help develop the Child. What does the Trickster need? Or rather, what is the purpose of the Trickster, when utilized properly? The Trickster is the Parent of our Superego and, as we eventually develop our Superego, it will be essential to access it as a mature Trickster.
As we said, the Trickster was used in a parental role — much like an older sibling must care for a younger child — before the Parent function of the Ego was developed. At its core, the Trickster wishes to return to that Parental role. It must “prove” its Parenting capabilities by helping to raise the Child. This is done through us accessing the Trickster in the right way, consistently. More on that later.
Because the Trickster sits in the Battleground of Responsibility with the Parent, it is constantly applying pressure to the Parent. And the Trickster, as part of the Superego, is trying to get a leg up on the Parent function, vying to replace it in our Ego
While this pressure can be frustrating, it is absolutely essential. The secret of extracting meaning from the Battlegrounds, however, as revealed by Chris Taylor, is not about victory or defeat. Rather, it is about using the conflict that the Reflector functions create to become aware of them and give each Reflector function in each Battleground the space to express itself. The reason there is a “battle” on the Battlegrounds, to begin with, is because we ignore half of the Reflector functions. If we want to develop, we need access to all of them.
Even when the Trickster stepped into the parental role before the Parent, it is not very good at parenting. It doesn’t actually know how to parent because we don’t naturally know how to use it responsibly. The meaningful development of the Trickster occurs when we teach the Trickster how to become a Parent. The Trickster’s path is like the trope of an Angel having to earn its wings. The Trickster is given its “wings” — Parental responsibility — by helping make the Child responsible too. In other words, the Trickster and Child can learn responsibility together.
The Trickster’s Key Phrase
The main strategy the Trickster employs for teaching the Child is through challenge. But not challenge in the way of direct argument or disapproval — like the strategy the Critic uses to the Parent. The Trickster, instead, knowing that it’s dealing with a child, provides challenge to help instigate exploration.
The Trickster’s purpose is to attempt to demonstrate available potential. And because it sits in an optimistic position, in addition to the fact that it is concerned with potential, it is primarily used in an abstract way. Even for an Se or Si Trickster, the Trickster is encouraging the exploration of possibilities concerning the concrete world.
The Trickster asks what potential is available by asking:
- What is believed? (Te)
- What is true? (Ti)
- What is good and fair? (Fe)
- What is valuable and worthy? (Fi)
- What is possible, what are the consequences? (Ne)
- What is my path? (Ni)
- What is reality and what is real for others? (Se)
- What has been my experience, what is my duty? (Si)
To incite the Child to go on this journey with the Trickster, the Trickster says this to the child:
“Could be anything!”
- What is believed could be anything! (Te Trickster)
- What is true could be anything! (Ti Trickster)
- What is good and fair could be anything! (Fe Trickster)
- What is valuable and worthy could be anything! (Fi Trickster)
- What is possible could be anything! (Ne Trickster)
- What is desired could be anything! (Ni Trickster)
- What is real could be anything! (Se Trickster)
- What is remembered and experienced could have been anything! (Si Trickster)
This key phrase — “Could be anything!” — is the instrument most used by the Trickster to educate the Child. Rather, it is not the Trickster who directly educates the Child, but our use of the Trickster that does. And, while the Trickster does cause confusion and fog — and initially brings a sense of false confidence to the Child — it will eventually offer so much more.
As Chase says, the Trickster is an expert at “making you think that you are aware of things when you are actually not aware of them at all.” What can be gained from this? The Trickster is naturally going to misdirect us. However, within this misdirection is something much more fun than unintended ignorance.
The Child, with its undying optimistic energy, loves to go on adventures. And we can use the Trickster to send our Child on an adventure with it. If we use it correctly, the Trickster gives us an invitation to pure novelty. To the cutting edge of the “what if”.
Why is it important for us to send this Child on this adventure? Because the Child, though innocent, is naive. And for it to grow into maturity — and eventually become a Parent function — it has to be exposed to things that challenge its naivety. The Trickster can help push the Child into a place where the Child no longer knows the answer.
It will sink into the unknown — into what the Greeks called “aporia” — and there the Child and the Trickster will stay together. Here the Child can learn how to become comfortable with the unknown — which is how the Trickster also grows. But what is required for the Child to accept its own ignorance — the ignorance that the Trickster reveals?
“The only way to beat the Trickster Function is through humility.” — Chase
But because the Child is innocent and divine, with an endless supply of energy, it will find a way out of aporia — the place of unknowing — and become less naive as a result. This is why the Trickster is linked to the Child. The doorways of possibility that the Trickster gives the Child are so exciting to the Child that it wants nothing more than to discover what the Trickster has to offer it. As long as the Child can maintain its humility, this adventure with the Trickster will grow the Child in profound ways.
What the Trickster’s catchphrase — “Could be anything!” — does is present the Child with the opportunity to respond. But how will the Child respond? Will it respond foolishly and behave as the undeveloped Trickster does? Or will it respond wisely — meaningfully — and use the Trickster as a tool for wisdom? What does a precocious child who has accepted the role of a student do better than anyone else? The answer to this the key to unlocking the brilliance of the Trickster.
The Connection Between Foolishness and Divinity
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. — Proverbs 26:12
We’ve covered what it does, but we haven’t answered the question: Why does the Trickster exist?
The Trickster exists to create novelty; boredom is its enemy. The Trickster uses the divinity of the Child to create the journey to novelty.
By now we can see some of the methods it employs and why. We can also see the path of the Trickster, which is to move from immaturity to maturity and foolishness to responsibility. Eventually, if it becomes mature, it will be a responsible Parent in the Superego — the most dangerous side of our mind. How important is it to have a responsible Parent where the source of your hatred and power lurks?
But why the Trickster? Sure, everyone loves a story of redemption, but is that really . . . necessary? Seems a bit superficial of a purpose to inflict a weakness of one of the most annoying functions we have solely to have something to redeem. What if we ask the question: Is there more to the Trickster? Is there something essentially valuable about the Trickster? Is there something, dare we say . . . “brilliant” about it? And if so, what could that be?
The Expressions of the Trickster
There are eight Tricksters. Let’s examine how each one manifests.
The Four Judgment Tricksters
Input, Output, Process, Feedback.
Te, Ti, Fe, Fi.
Te Trickster thinks that systems of belief are ultimately arbitrary, and that labels, rules, and perceptions are just malleable as wet clay in a potter’s fingers. A sandwich could have just as easily been a hotdog, or a sandwich a burrito, had someone thought of a different label the day they were named. A Te Trickster feels that perceptions do not equal truth, and that “saving face” can be akin to lying. A Te Trickster also believes that what those around them think will be affected by what they — their Ti Child — think.
The Fe Parent and Te Trickster — in the Battleground of Responsibility — can teach IxFJs that ethics and rationale — what is collectively good and collectively efficient — overlap in fundamental ways. Further, it is essential to allow the Ti Child and Fi Critic — in the Battleground of Innocence — which are the sources of rational and ethics, to have space to express themselves. We need both for the Child to reach parenthood and the Critic to rediscover the spark of youth. And the Trickster right in between both of them.
In its undeveloped, ignorant form, Te Trickster prevents us from seeing clearly into the nuanced minds of others. It fails to grasp the complexity of others’ thoughts, and often wrongly assumes that what someone values — with Fe Parent — equals what they think. Without humility, the Te Trickster will both listen to everyone and no one.
As the Fi Critic develops alongside the Trickster, the brilliance of the Trickster can be unlocked. While the Ti Child loves to process new ideas, a developing Te Trickster — with the help of Fi Critic — will begin to realize that some ideas are better than others. Some should be kept, and the rest should be done away with. But, in order to know which ideas are better, the Te Trickster must learn to thoroughly understand what the ideas actually are to begin with.
A Ti Trickster sees that truth is not synonymous with logic. Ti Trickster realizes that logic is controlled by input and that the conclusion reached by a logical process is solely determined by the input given. It understands this because it realizes that logic is an instrument. Like a cheese grater or a food processor, logic can only churn out what it is given.
The logical conclusion is determined by the input that is received. You can have premises that are false — 1) All apples are blue, 2) All orange things are apples, — but still produce a logical conclusion — 3) Therefore: All blue things are orange things.
The fundamental mechanism of logical processing — if, then — is STILL DEPENDENT ON “IF”. It is only if the premises are true that the logical answer equals truth. A Ti Trickster understands this dilemma better than anyone. Unverified premises are worthless premises. This is the great lesson of Ti Trickster.
However, the Ti Trickster starts out as dismissing logic entirely. If what is true could be anything, then all that remains is perception. This is an incomplete and flawed perspective. What the Ti Trickster and Fi Parent must learn — again through the Battleground of Responsibility — is that input is only one step of the process, and that premises are only as valuable (Fi Parent) as they are accurate (Ti Trickster). As aware of Te Child is of the input, have they asked themselves if the input is true? Or do they just feel good about it?
Further, ExFPs must grow to understand that what is good and what is true are intimately related. Fi and Ti can inform each other how to grow closer to the absolute good and the objectively true. And what Te Child can learn from Ti Trickster is that, while the Te Child can manage perceptions better than anyone else, some perceptions are going to help others — Fe Critic — more than others. A helpful (Fe) belief (Te) is a good (Fi) belief, and a good belief is a true (Ti) belief. When ExFPs develop their Ti Trickster into mastery, they will gain the ability to verify their own premises and become extremely attuned to what is most helpful to others with their Fe Critic.
Fe Trickster believes that social rules, fairness, ethics, in addition to what is helpful and how other people feel, are determined by the context in which they exist. An Fe Trickster sees that social norms are dependent on what people decide is normal. Social norms have a tremendous variety, as what is considered appropriate or fair in one place may be the complete opposite in another.
Between the Te Parent and Fe Trickster — Battleground of Responsibility — the Fe Trickster believes that what is collectively good, what other people feel and value, is determined by others’ beliefs. This is somewhat true as Fe comes after Te in order of operations. However, what Fe Tricksters fail to understand is that what someone thinks and what someone values are not always the same. And further, that the most efficient system does not necessarily equal the fairest system.
IxTJs should learn to value fairness because true efficiency is tied to reality and truth (Ti Critic). And what is true is tied to the collective good (Ti + Fe). In other words, if you have a system that is built for humans, but does not align with the nature of humans, the value of the system will be severely limited. Fi Child is tied to Ti Critic to avoid this very issue. If the Fi Child feels good about a system (Te) but does not verify (Ti) whether or not that system accounts for humanness (Fe), the value of the system will be jeopardized.
But, when the Fi Child begins to accept that it is not aware of what other people value, and doesn’t fully grasp what is good for other people, it can begin to remedy that lack of understanding. And when it does, and when you allow the Battlegrounds of Responsibility and Innocence to work together, the IxTJs will not only be able to slowly understand social norms, but they will be able to put pressure on them as well. With their Fi Child and Ti Critic, they will question whether or not what is accepted by society is good (Fi) and accurate (Ti). With their Te Parent and emerging Fe Trickster, they will be able to build masterful systems that consider both efficiency and humanity.
An Fi Trickster sees that value is arbitrary. Fi Trickster believes that what is valuable, and its own sense of moral goodness, is arbitrary and primarily determined based on social context. The price of something is based on what people happen to decide the price is. The Fi Trickster sees that people hold strong moral convictions that fundamentally oppose each other. The Fi Trickster realizes that what is “good” is dependent on the values those around them hold.
Through the Battleground of Responsibility, the ExTPs’ Ti Parent and Fi Trickster can teach the Fe Child that, in order to be maximally helpful, both what is true and what is good must be taken into account. In the Battleground of Innocence, Te Critic is trying to confer upon the ExTP that the opinions about what is good affect the Fe Child’s understanding of what the collective good is. Fi Trickster will only develop once the ExTP learns how to listen with their Te Critic.
While ExTPs start out without a clue as to what the good is, as they develop the responsibility of their precise Ti Parent, and begin to listen to others with their Te Critic, they will slowly awaken to the reality that what their Parent is able to do logically is not enough to fully develop the Child. However, their Ti Parent still offers a lot to the Child’s development. It is able to question the efficacy of social norms (a responsibility Ti Parent shares with Te Critic) so that the innocence of the giving Fe Child can be done with more awareness of “why” an action is helpful.
Here the ExTP will begin to see that not all social norms are helpful. If they are paying attention, this will awaken ExTPs to the reality that not all social norms are based on what is actually true — and therefore not based on what is actually good. This will activate their quest to find out what is actually good and valuable. With a wise Te Critic who listens, ExTPs will eventually learn how to weigh different opinions and develop some priorities that can guide their Fe Child to offer to give in the most helpful manner possible.
Input, Process . . .
In the order of operations — Te, Ti, Fe, Fi — we see that what comes after is determined by what comes before. Collectively, this is a lesson that the four Judgment Tricksters can teach us. There is an undebatable element of arbitrariness and context-dependency on what is reasonable, true, ethical, and good. The Trickster is asking us to see this. So, we must ask: Is it all arbitrary?
The Four Perceptive Tricksters
Input, Output, Process, Feedback.
Ne, Ni, Se, Si.
Ne Trickster believes that consequences could be anything. It believes that possibilities for others are endless and even random, that the paths others take are not freely chosen by them. Ne Trickster understands that a consequence is simply the result of something that happened before it, which is the cause.
The Se Parent and Ne Trickster share the same Battleground because actions (Se) lead to consequences (Ne) later. Se Parent knows the immediate reactions, but Ne Trickster cannot see what the long-term effects of those reactions will be. Ni Child must discover consequences, but they will only see the consequences as they eventually ripple into the present and pass through their Se Parent. However, as they develop their Si Critic and store the memory of what their actions lead to, their Ne Trickster can eventually gain some awareness of what the Ni Child’s intention might result in in the long term.
What the Ne Trickster is trying to teach the Ni Child is that intention plays a big role in consequences. The Ne Trickster will grow as the Ni Child, through the shared Battleground of Innocence with the Si Critic, acts repeatedly until they remember what a past (Si) intention once lead to (Ne).
The brilliance of the Ne Trickster is that it teaches ISxPs that possibilities are born both through intention (Ni Child) and past experiences (Si Critic) — which were once set in motion (Se Parent). In the end, consequences (Ne) are dependent on what is desired and intended (Ni). What is intended creates experiences (Se), which then become memory (Si), which then informs future possibilities. Even the source of originality is subject to that which comes before it.
Ni Trickster believes that desire can only exist when something is desirable. Thus, desire is arbitrary because the path of an Ni user is only chosen based on whatever paths are given by an Ne user. Similar to how a shoe only exists because there is a foot to fill it, Ni Trickster believes that a shoe could be made for anyone. What the Ni Trickster fails to account for, however, is that just because there is a shoe does not mean someone will want it. Having a space for desirability does not guarantee desire.
Ni Trickster tells the Ne Child what it wants is solely determined by what other people want for it. The Ne Child absorbs other people’s desires and what other people desire becomes their own desire. They don’t believe that they can experience desire independent of what other people want for them. Ni Trickster understands that desire only occurs in the circumstance of desirability. In a vacuum of desirability, nothing will be desired. Thus, Ni Trickster believes desire is arbitrary.
But I could desire anything! Ni Trickster believes. And this is true. Sort of. Just as the Si Parent and Ni Trickster need to work together, so do the Ne Child and Se Parent, to complete our development. What the ESxJ will learn is that, while desire only comes when something is desirable, they themselves are capable of desire.
And they do this by engaging their Se Critic to LOOK AROUND because desire is fed by what is around to desire. With a developed Se Critic — one who looks around — ESxJs begin to see that some things are more desirable than others. The Se Critic — the fuel and the wind for their desire (Ni) — is unlocked. And the power to will and the power to choose and the power to want will be granted to them.
Se Trickster believes that reality is arbitrary. The Ne Parent of INxPs constantly explore alternate realities in their mind. Why should the one “reality” outside of their mind be any more real than the ones in it? What Se Trickster understands is that reality is dependent on the possibilities (Ne) brought into existence (Se). Think of all the NPs who have drastically altered a human’s experience of reality by bringing forth new inventions that were previously thought impossible. You’re reading this article on one of those very inventions. Our present reality has been molded by the hands of Se Tricksters
The Se Trickster is trying to tell the Si Child that You can experience anything you want, provided you put in the effort to make that reality come true. This simultaneously engages their Battleground of Responsibility (Ne Parent + Se Trickster) and Innocence (Si Child + Ni Critic) to put in the effort (Si) to create something (Se) possible (Ne) that they want to have (Ni) and experience (Si). A complete cycle.
Se Trickster and Ni Critic can teach INxPs that they have anything if they have the strength to bring their vision of what could be into the reality of what is. “Now, reality can be whatever I want,” a fellow Se Trickster has already realized this.
The brilliance of Se Trickster is that it understands that reality is always changing, and asks the Child: Why not steer it in the direction you would enjoy?
Si Trickster plays the “What if” game with ENxJ’s Se Child. What if “x” hadn’t happened to me? What if “y” had happened to me? What if _____ had been different? What the Si Trickster understands is that we exist in relation to our past. Without our past, we are not who we are. This can be concerning or liberating to the Si Trickster, who can envision all the ways things could have gone with their Ne Critic, but also awaken to the disappointment of where things are presently (Se Child). ENxJs realize that they could have been a very different person had their past (Si) followed any number of possible (Ne) different avenues.
What the Trickster can teach the Child is that the reason they are where they are now — in their Se Child’s present moment — is because of choices (Ni) made in the past (Si). But, through Cognitive Axis, Si Trickster is informing the Ne Critic that the future is not totally dependent on the past. Si Trickster sits in a Battleground with Ni Parent because the past does not have to dictate the future. The more informed the ENxJ becomes about their past (Si), the freer they become to choose a future (Ni) that is not dictated by the past. This is the lesson of the Si Trickster.
If the Ni Parent wants to avoid repeating the same cycles of the past again and again (Si Trickster) and repeating the same behaviors that led to places not intended or desired, they better start listening to the little bit of Si that they do have. They can be free if their Ni Parent chooses a future, created by their Ne Critic, that will not repeat the past (Si Trickster). Through this process of conflict in the Battlegrounds of Responsibility and Innocence, the ENxJ can escape the pull of the past, and choose a better future that is truly free.
Order of Experience, Desire, and Time
The perceptive functions are primarily connected to time, and secondarily to intention, possibility, and experience. As the Tricksters sit in relation to the Child, Parent, and Critic, we must realize that it takes the unification of the three functions we are better equipped with and more aware of (Parent, Child, and Critic) to begin to unlock the very weak but vital function of the Trickster.
Because we are so poor at wielding the Trickster — due to low awareness — mastery of the Trickster requires the unification of the other three functions in order to grow them. Similar to when a family comes together during a difficult time, the one who is having the hardest time of it can be strengthened and renewed by the other members present. If your Parent, Child, and Critic begin to really work together, the Trickster will grow.
Where we left off: Divinity and Foolishness
Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 18:3-4
So why is the foolishness and ignorance of the Trickster fundamentally connected — and necessary — to the divinity and innocence of the Child? It ultimately comes down to humility. The Child is equipped to find the pieces of truth that the Trickster will lead it to because it is capable of profound humility. Whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
In the same way that an anxious Inferior function can only aspire when it embraces humility — maybe I’m not as smart or good or perceptive as I think I am — the Trickster can only begin its path to Mastery — for it is the Master function — when it embraces humility.
What does humility look like for the Trickster? I don’t know.
Foolishness, naivety, and ignorance are not inherently evil. The “badness” of ignorance exists only in the fool who regards himself as wise. This kind of fool will never learn. Further, there is a type of fool who masquerades as a wise man. This is the fool who says, “I don’t know” in the attempt to remove himself from the responsibility of learning. This is the expedient path. Making peace with our own ignorance should give us the fuel to pursue our ignorance so that it can be transformed.
When Socrates said “The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing,” it was not said in the spirit of blissfulness. He didn’t “check out” after that. He continued to learn. A fool who is humble and on the path of continuous improvement is closer to Socrates than a fool satisfied in his own state of ignorance. And the wise fool will find that embracing humility in the face of his own ignorance will lead to something great.
Recall that the Trickster and the Critic exist on a string together in Cognitive Axis. As Chase says, “The Trickster provides us with the humility that we need in order to access the wisdom of the Critic Function.”
Whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. These are not empty words, they are real. The humbling of the Trickster gives a path to wisdom. And what do masters have in common? They are the greatest at what they do.
Divinity — innocence — is impossible without the humility of embracing not knowing. It is this path of moving from aporia and ignorance to understanding and wisdom that moves the Child into the maturity of Parenthood. Our divinity is connected to our ignorance because wisdom only comes from humility, and wisdom is the closest thing a human being has to divinity.
What kind of humility does it take to even seek in the first place? A lot. This is the adventure that the Trickster offers the Child. Novel exploration into the unknown. And it is a promise that, with humility, your search will not be in vain.
What is the “Brilliance of the Trickster”?
In his present condition of ignorance, he will gladly inquire into the matter. — Socrates, Meno
We have answered every question but one. What is the brilliance of the Trickster?
The Trickster is a master of arbitrariness. What the Trickster helps us understand is the amount of arbitrariness in our lives. What we think, feel, want, experience are all subject to context. Fill in the “x” with any Cognitive Function and it really “COULD BE ANYTHING!”
But is everything arbitrary? Always?
In The Dark Knight, the Joker’s ESFP Superego sets fire to Gotham. With his Se Demon, he places people in situations where their moral values are “dropped at the first sign of trouble.” What the Joker understands is that most of the values people hold are arbitrary, and The Fi Parent of Superego (his Fi Trickster trying to become responsible) is applying pressure — with his Se Demon — to those values until they break. Most of them do.
Almost every single value the Joker applies pressure to burns away into ash. Yes, his Fi Trickster confirms, they ARE arbitrary.
But the story doesn’t end there. Batman is sent through a volcano of the Joker’s conniving philosophical nihilism. But Batman does not recede to ash like everyone else. Many of his values are burnt to a crisp, but not all of them.
In a state of fascination, the Joker observes of Batman, “You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you?”
This, RIGHT HERE, is the BRILLIANCE of the Trickster Function.
Convinced of the arbitrariness of what is good and valuable, the Joker set out on a journey — with his Fi Trickster — to find what is not arbitrary. And he does.
Ultimately, this is also why the Trickster is connected — and vital — to the divinity of the Child. Because in its state of understanding the arbitrariness of everything — of what is true, good, real, desirable, etc. — is sent on a journey to find that which is not arbitrary.
The Child and Trickster, when we allow them to work together, can get closer to the absolute good, the objectively true, and the purest version of what each of our cognitive functions are aware of, than any other attitude. Within the long journey through the fog with the Trickster, seeing all the ways in which something is not actually good or not actually true, our Tricksters eventually lead us to find that one solid piece that will not break, no matter how much pressure is applied to it. This is the brilliance of the Trickster, and this is its gift of renewal to humanity.
The Trickster’s Last Desire
In obtaining its Parenthood in the Superego, the Trickster knows that the Child must pass a test before it — the Child — can obtain Parenthood in the Subconscious. The fate of the Trickster and Child are tied together.
Along the way, when we use humility and accept the unknown, the Child will learn how to use, and how not to use, the Trickster. Like all of our functions, there is an orderly and a chaotic way to access the Trickster.
The chaotic use of the Trickster is assumption. This is when we take the Trickster’s key phrase — “Could be anything!” — at face value and say, “Yes, Trickster, you’re absolutely right.” This is a chaotic and unmeaningful access of the Trickster.
The orderly use of the Trickster is curiosity. This is accessed when we do not assume, but when we have a curiosity and a willingness to explore the path that the Trickster invites us to.
The Mastery or eternal foolishness of our Trickster depends on whether we lead with an assumption or curiosity.
A responsible use of the Trickster leads the Child to do something with what it says, not just lie back and assume the Trickster is correct. The unkillable and eternal optimistic energy of the Child is equipped for this long journey of exploring with the Trickster.
But what is this test of a meaningful versus expedient use of the Trickster — the test that will give the Trickster its “wings” of responsibility?
A meaningful access of the Trickster has the Child remove the “!” at the end of the Trickster’s key phrase — “Could be anything!” — and replace it with something that only curiosity and humility can provide.
This — “Could be anything!” — becomes this:
“Could be anything?”
“Look then how he will come out of his perplexity while searching along with me. I shall do nothing more than ask questions.” — Socrates, Meno