The Gospel of Trickster: Afterword – Trickster Today

Afterword to Hercules Editions’ new chapbook by poet and performer Nancy Charley, an anarchic retelling of the gospel story.

Trickster is always with us. At least according to the Rolling Stones. ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, the opening track of their 1968 LP, Beggars Banquet, referenced two thousand years of human disaster, from the condemnation of Christ, to the Crusades, the European wars of religion, the Russian Revolution, and the second world war, with the song’s protagonist all the while glorying in the havoc he has wreaked. And that protagonist was more trickster than Devil (for they are certainly not the same thing). As Nancy Charley intimates in The Gospel of Trickster, the nebulous trickster spirit, messing with human affairs to bring about a transformation of the world, can manifest itself in the holy just as much as in the damned. Her trickster is expressly not the Christian Satan – it is this ‘mate’ of his, who ‘does a good line in twisting truths to lies’ who tempts Christ in the wilderness, not him – but more than that, in this reimagining of the gospels, Jesus himself is explored as trickster. He is a literal conjurer but also a disrupter of social prejudices who makes the world anew. Trickster can be creative, even divine, in his chaos. Or he can be a destructive arch-derailer of humanity’s trajectory…

Nancy Charley, The Gospel of Trickster (Hercules Editions, 2019), pp. 40-42.

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