chapter  2
Mutability, identities and the farce of fixity: Trickster
Pages 20

Mary Harron’s film version of Bret Easton Ellis’ (1991) scathing allegory of America in the 1980s is a prime example of the chaotic, fluid and elusive nature of trickster. In all its mythically imaged forms this archetypal energy remains a constructive and destructive catalyst for psychological movement on a range of interlocking emotional and intellectual levels. Although trickster has been personified as shape-shifting shamans, clowns/fools and primitive animal-human hybrids able to play in the sacred and profane, the motif is far more complex than its cultural projections. The memories and projections of others that help shape our sense of self can all be manipulated by this function. In this way the archetype forces us to acknowledge the mutability of identity. By turning the signifiers of who we are topsy-turvy, it allows a respite from, and a more knowing re-evaluation of, the self as distinct from an outward show presented to the world as a defense against either real or imagined threats. The ability to ‘trip up’ the psyche through wily behaviours, unconscious slips, lapses, moral ambiguity, or foolery enables trickster to alter perceptions and consequently initiate personal and collective change.