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More on "Trickster Makes This World"

trickster_book.jpgEmily Levine’s TEDTalk this morning references Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde‘s 1998 book about the trickster figure — who crosses continents and centuries to appear in almost all recorded mythologies. The book is also, it turns out, a cult favorite at the TED offices. TED’s media production specialist, Angela Cheng, a writer and filmmaker, tells the TED Blog why Trickster Makes This World means so much to her. Here’s a snippet; for the full story, hit the jump:

The trickster is anybody who’s a bit of an outsider. They’re the ones who make change. They’re not thinking about making change; they’re almost doing it in a selfish way. But because they’re working outside the rules, they change the rules. Everything around them is always new, everything is an opportunity.

It’s important to honor mischief-making, in a constructive and creative way, because that’s how we effect change. And it’s so important that we figure out our inner mischief maker. That’s the creative part of us. And everybody’s capable of it.

Read the full commentary, after the jump >>More on Trickster Makes This World:

The trickster, in all mythology that features a trickster, they always have a bottomless hunger. They work from the outside and mess with the system in order to fill their bottomless hunger, and they constantly learn more and more sophisticated ways to steal from the gods. The gods get angry, but the trickster is so charming they’ll make the gods laugh.

When you apply this to math and science and art, the trickster is anybody who’s a bit of an outsider. They’re the ones who make change. They’re not thinking about making changes, they’re almost doing it in a selfish way. But because they’re working outside the rules, they change the rules. Everything around them is always new, everything is an opportunity.

I feel like lots of TEDsters and TED speakers — they got to the place where they are because they worked outside the system. They do mischievous things, but they’re extremely disciplined. Because that’s the other thing about tricksters: They’re never lazy. They’re very industrious. Kary Mullis reminds me of a trickster. He really just likes to blow things up. But he’s creating chaos in order to get to the truth

It’s important to honor mischief-making, in a constructive and creative way, because that’s how we effect change. And it’s so important that we figure out our inner mischief maker. That’s the creative part of us. And everybody’s capable of it.

Trickster Makes This World is also about the immigrant experience, because immigrants are, at first, outside the system, and figure out how to work with the system. And they end up changing the system.

Trickster Makes This World is so much about art and science and music and immigration — it’s like a weird amalgam of all these things. It’s a really good structure that holds all the different narratives of my life and brings them all together. TEDTalks is part of the narrative. It’s my job to sit and watch TEDTalks, to make sure that they look good and sound good for the world to see. So I get to be an admirer and get to oversee them all at once, which is sort of like being a listener of stories and a teller of stories at the same time. (Emily Levine is the one who got me into this book, actually, when I was digitizing her talk.) It seems to work with the story of my existence.

More: Read the first chapter of Trickster Makes This World >>