Paid Piper

May. 25th, 2010 09:34 pm
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Once upon a time I said The pied piper seems to be a trickster archetype, he is very often depicted as a jester figure and I wonder if you could follow the thread far enough you would find at the end a depiction of the God Pan, or some other trickster god. because to me tricksters and gods are kind of intertwined, I automatically see tricksters as gods or godlike figures. Damaged and dangerous gods sometimes, often but still gods

Ive been reading Tanith Lees Red as blood (which is beyond awesome BTW) and the first story the Paid Piper retells it from the position that the piper is a god, but what Terry Pratchett would call a "small god" he only exists so long as people believe in him. He offers the people freedom from cages and ties but they refuse him and his punishment is devastating. but tricksters offer no middle ground and they often offer and give people what they think they want and not what they need. He could have loosened their bonds, and opened t6hir eyes but if you cut all the bonds don't things fall apart, isn't part of being human acknowledging and acting on our ties and responsibility, isn't being human about balance?

The story describes him as a "Vagabond" a beautiful word along with words such as tatterdemalion and ragamuffin, all shapeshifty, tricksterish, pied pipery words

It is a beautiful sad story in which almost everybody loses.
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I'm still thinking a lot about the pied piper,about who he is and where he comes from and what that story means, what it did mean, what it can mean.

The pied piper seems to be a trickster archetype, he is very often depicted as a jester figure:

(from here)

(from here)

and I wonder if you could follow the thread far enough you would find at the end a depiction of the God Pan, or some other trickster god.

I find it interesting that the Pied piper is so strongly symbolically tied with the trickster but he is not the one, that breaks the rules, that breaks his word. Maybe there's something in there about how being a flexible bendy shape shifter trickster type is more healthy for humans than being a rigid materialist.

I found Krysar, the version in my previous post, deeply, deeply disturbing but also deeply fascinating. I've never seen that version of the story, where everybody gets turned to rats before. I liked the ending, where the piper shapeshifts to nothing and disappears very much

This version is checkoslovakian and was made in 1985 so is obviously very much about the free market versus communism, individual greed versus collectivity. I'm not sure the scenes alluding to the woman's rape and murder were necessary though, not that i have anything against rape depictions in fairy tales, they happen all the time anyway, it just seems an odd choice to insert one into a fairy tale where there wasn't one previously. maybe it was a way of showing how the ultimate conclusion of capitalism is that people become commodities to be used.

The wikipedia page suggests that one theory is that the pied piper is a metaphor for death, which would fit with it originating with the plague

however wikipedia also suggests

The theory with the broadest support[5] is that the children willingly abandoned their parents and Hamelin in order to become the founders of their own villages during the colonization of Eastern Europe. Several European villages and cities founded around this time have been suggested as the result of their efforts as settlers. This claim is supported by corresponding place names in both the region around Hamelin and the eastern colonies where names such as Querhameln ("mill village Hamelin") exist. Again the Piper is seen as their leader.

this is backed up further on the same page by:

Professor Udolph surmises that the children were actually unemployed youths who had been sucked into the German drive to colonize its new settlements in Eastern Europe. The Pied Piper may never have existed as such, but, says the professor, "There were characters known as Lokator who roamed northern Germany trying to recruit settlers for the East." Some of them were brightly dressed, and all were silver-tongued.

Of course its very possible that the pied piper was several characters and/or several tales that got stitched together over the centuries

Pied Piper

Nov. 30th, 2009 05:19 pm
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So I've been thinking a lot about the pied piper today because of finding those gems on youtube yesterday. And I realised that not only do I not have any paper copies of the story, which is sad because it was one of my favorites when I was a kid, but I also don't think I've ever read any theoretical writings about it. There's nothing in the fairy tale theory books I've either bought or borrowed and the only useful things an Internet search came up with was a wikipedia page and several different retellings

The only book I could find: The Pied Piper:A handbook is really expensive. It just seems..odd, there is so much material in the tale and both psychoanalytical and Cultural materialist analysis just jump out at me immediately and I could probably pull together others if I though about it for any length of time.

It's not as if its an unknown tale, it like many other fairy tales has become part of the fabric of our consciousness, we talk about paying the piper we say he who pays the piper calls the tune

To me the obvious reading is about plague, about children dying from plague, about plague decimating the city. And even if a rat catcher got rid of all the rats the infected fleas would still infect people and children would have been more vulnerable than adults.

And then although from a modern reading there is something dandyish and camp about the pied piper, he is playing a pipe I mean really, how phallic is that?


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