Thursday

“What makes The Joker tick I wonder?” Frederic said. “I mean, what are his real motivations?”


“Consider him at any level of conduct,” Bruce said slowly, “in the home, on the street, in interpersonal relations, in jail—always there is an extraordinary contradiction. He is dirty and compulsively neat, aloof and desperately gregarious, enthusiastic and sullen, generous and stingy, a snappy dresser and a scarecrow, a gentleman and a boor, given to extremes of happiness and despair, singularly well able to apply himself and capable of frittering away a lifetime in trivial pursuits, decorous and unseemly, kind and cruel, tolerant yet open to the most outrageous varieties of bigotry, a great friend and an implacable enemy, a lover and abominator of women, sweet-spoken and foul-mouthed, a rake and a puritan, swelling with hubris and haunted by inferiority, outcast and social climber, felon and philanthropist, barbarian and patron of the arts, enamored of novelty and solidly conservative, philosopher and fool, Republican and Democrat, large of soul and unbearably petty, distant and brimming with friendly impulses, an inveterate liar and astonishingly strict with petty cash, adventurous and timid, imaginative and stolid, malignly destructive and a planter of trees on Arbor Day—I tell you frankly, the man is a mess.”

“That’s extremely well said Bruce,” Fredric stated. “I think you’ve given a very thoughtful analysis.”

“I was paraphrasing what Mark Schorer said about Sinclair Lewis,” Bruce replied.

“Well it’s very brilliant all the same,” Frederic noted.

Donald Barthelme, “The Joker’s Greatest Triumph”

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